Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Shout Out: Robert Dagnall

Giant Rider Waite Smith
This month's shout out is for TABI's training co-ordinator, Robert Dagnall:

I'm TABI's training co-ordinator, which means I organise our training course. This involves planning ahead for it, organising the tutors and students on each course, setting the lessons, writing new exercises, keeping a log of progress, chasing up students who are falling behind, setting and marking the final test. In the past I've also had the unpleasant task of having to remove students who are offensive and disruptive. Thankfully, I haven't had to do that this year.

Based on experience and feedback I've been tweaking the course over the last couple of years to try and improve the learning process. This has involved rearranging the set lessons into what the tutors and I think is a more logical order, making it easier for students to follow. This year, in consultation with the tutors, I have made more changes than ever, principally, but not solely, in order to break students in on smaller Tarot spreads and gradually introducing them to larger ones before they move on to the Celtic Cross. Previously, they've been thrown in at the deep end and expected to start the Celtic Cross quite early in the course, and some students have found this quite overwhelming.

For the future I'm thinking of changing the course book, but as this is a very daunting prospect and would involve a lot of work in writing new lessons, it may not happen and we might stick with the current one. It's just at the ideas stage at the moment.

Having been asked to choose a Tarot card to represent the Training Co-ordinator role, I've plumped for the 3 of Pentacles, the card of planning and design, as I've been doing a lot of this this year. If you want to ensure that anything's a success it needs to be built on solid foundations and designed carefully. Hopefully the changes I've made will bear healthy fruit when we see the results of the final test in a few weeks' time.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Weekly Reading with the Witchy Tarot

Today's reading is from the Witchy Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2003), which just  came with an infamous Lo Scarabeo LWB.  It was later re-released as the Hip Witch Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) with a good book by Barbara Moore.

Situation - Four of Broomsticks (Swords)

A girl in a black witches hat sits with her back to a stream.  Around her are five rats, and in front of her is a broken broomstick.  Combining the image and more traditional interpretations, I read this as saying that when we can't think straight, it's best to take a break and get some input from nature/our Higher Self.

Don't - Trial of Flames (King of Wands)

In this deck, the Courts are totally renamed and very different - we have the Celebration (Page), the Moon (Knight), the Goddess (Queen), and the Trial (King).  Although there are equivalences, these cards also have extremely different potential interpretations.  For instance, this Trial of Flames (King of Wands) shows a witch making progress against all odds through the use of magic.  Like the King of Wands, then, it indicates strength and determination, and leadership ability.  However, it can be interpreted very differently.  As what not to do this week, it counsels against fighting the flow of life.

Do - Six of Cauldrons (Cups)

Another behatted witch in capri pants and a bustier sits in a swampy forest, unpacking her lunch.  Below her is a spilled cauldron and a couple of frogs.  Connecting with traditional meanings, I guess you could see this as returning to the simpler things in life, or not giving up on your dreams. 

How might you give yourself a break this week?  What have you been fighting to achieve?  Might taking some time to daydream help you move forward?

P.S.  This week, there will be an extra "shout out" post on Wednesday afternoon, as well as a post on Friday as part of the Tarot Blog Hop rather than an overview of this deck.  If you're interested in the Witchy Tarot, I wrote a full review of it a few years back.  However, it's a review of the Witchy Tarot, not including Barbara Moore's book.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Overview of the Maroon Tarot

The Maroon Tarot (self-published, 2009) was originally named for the marvelous, intricate borders that were designed for it.  The creator, Maja Zaworowska, then also noticed that the name echoed the surname of the artist, Tomasz Maronski.  I rather like it, the very colour/name seems quite sumptuous!  As for the images, they are fantastical, often misty or with an unusual hue to the light and landscape.  The characters that people it are equally wondrous and fantastical: fairies and more elfin creatures, with artifacts which are elegant and a little otherworldly.

The first card I drew to illustrate the deck shows the way in which the images are on a very grand scale.  It also gives that feel of being on another world, as well as showing the variation from more traditional symbolism.  The World shows a moon rising in an azure sky, between two rocky outcroppings that hem in a lake or part of a sea.  The colours make me think of the saying "The world is your oyster".  Below, there is a depth of emotion and a feeling of constraint, above an incredible sense of openness and opportunity.  It's not quite the usual coming full circle or sense of completion, and yet in other ways it is...

The Court cards are also rather delightful.  They use colour beautifully, as well as much traditional symbolism.  And while not having close ups, the figures do vary in age considerably from the child-like Pages to the often bearded and grey Kings.  Though this King of Wands is less obviously old than some of the others, his throne and crown denote his rank, the red hues of the landscape indicate his suit, and his posture suggests his continued willingness to leap into situations he spies from on high.

The Ace of Swords shows well the misty, fantastical nature of the suit, as well as the power of the Aces.  They always have just a single object, and yet the play of light and shadow, and the surrounding landscapes, add depth to the images.  This card makes me think of the phrase "the truth will set you free" as the sword rises up, glowing, from the mists below.

Finally, we have a Minor, the Three of Swords.  The notion of thoughts which cause us heartache could be read into it, especially from the woman's romantic dress and tragic pose.  Yet, the twisted, nightmare creature above the woman could equally be interpreted in other ways.  These images beg for stories: has she been left as a tribute payment for this monster?  Will she overcome her sorrow at her fate?

And that, I think, is one of the greatest aspects of this deck.  It is fantastical, calling us to let our imagination run wild.  It shows life, yet with an edge of strangeness that invites us to think a little differently, to step outside of our everyday thoughts and preoccupations.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Weekly Reading with the Maroon Tarot

This week's deck is another I've had in my collection for years, since it was first published.  I was first introduced to the Maroon Tarot (self-published, 2009) when I won the Majors-only (2007) version in a TABI competition.  When the full deck came out, I was already sold.

Situation - Four of Wands

This Four of Wands has something of the Ten of Wands to it: a figure carrying a bunch of Wands towards a house.  Yet, there are only four wands - the burden is still a light one - and the house is close by, rather than away up a long, hard path.  The house is small, but it is illuminated from above: there is joy here, and a good foundation from which to branch out, seeking additional opportunities without straying too far from our comfort zone.

Don't - Five of Swords

My, what a bleak version of this card! A bald, naked figure crouches before a deep, dark pit.  Swords hang over the scene, shrouded in fog.  Yet, there is golden sunlight piercing the clouds to illuminate the figure, giving hope that they will find their way past this obstacle, beyond this pit of despair.

Do - Three of Cups

A blue, butterfly-winged fairy stands, illuminated by a pale light from behind.  Before her sit two more female figures.  They all seem to be on a rock in the middle of a tumultuous river, with the water dropping over a cliff in front of them.  Though surrounded by wild emotions, they appear calm and confident: strength in numbers, perhaps.

How could you stretch your comfort zone?  What can help you overcome doubts and confusion?  Who supports you no matter what?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Overview of the Mystical Cats Tarot

The Mystical Cats Tarot (Llewellyn, 2014), authored by Lunea Weatherstone and with beautiful artwork by Mickie Mueller, is the latest in a long line of cat-themed tarots.  While I'll admit I'm a total cat-lover, I also think this is a good, readable deck.  While perhaps not as true to the cat's perspective as the Cat's Eye Tarot (US Games, 2011), it has a lot of lovely features, useful symbolism and is very evocative. 

Take the High Priestess; this elegant grey cat sits in an amethyst cave, outside of which a crescent moon glows in a starry sky.  Amethyst is a crystal associated with intuition, and with the crown chakra.  Hence also with wisdom and a spiritual connection to the Universe.  Between that and the crescent moon, there's plenty of symbolism that speaks to the archetype.

The Court cards are another interesting and well thought out aspect of the deck.  Recently, Steve of Tiferet Tarot bemoaned decks with no apparent age difference in the Courts.  In the Mystical Cats Tarot these are indicated by having a Kitten/Page (definite squee factor!), a Tom/Knight, and then the Queens and Kings.  As seen with this Fire Tom (the suits are given elemental titles in line with the most frequent traditional attributions, though Air is titled Sky), the Toms show nicely the dynamic nature of the Knights.  Here, the Tom wends his way between a plethora of burning candles, all without setting his tail on fire.  His focus is on one candle in particular, but who knows how long that will last...

The Aces all have this kind of paw print banner, with a colour and background appropriate to their suit element.  This works quite well, I think, suggesting the possibility of making our mark in a given area or field.  Nothing exists yet but the potential, action is needed to materialise it, make it more than purely symbolic.

Finally, we have the Minors. As we saw on Monday, and as we see here in the Eight of Sky (Swords), these are RWS-based.  A grey cat seems trapped by the branches of a fallen bough.  Meanwhile, eight bats fly towards hir through a darkening sky.  If s/he could get beyond the fear s/he could work hir way out between the branches.  And so, it is not the branches or the bats that trap hir, but hir own thoughts and fears.

Altogether, I find this deck very cute, and also full of wonderful symbolism and ideas that echo the traditional, while also allowing intuitive readings of the cards.  It has many cat-centered delights and pearls of wisdom to share.