Tuesday, 31 July 2012

TABI Conference Lowdown

Many thanks to Little Red for agreeing to write a guest blog about the TABI Conference, which took place over the weekend.  It's always a great event, and it seems like this year was no different.  I'll let Little Red tell you in her own words:

Mick Frankel
In the absence of TABI’s resident über-blogger Chloe, it’s fallen to me to journal the 2012 TABI Conference, which was held in Birmingham last weekend. It’s my first time at this annual event, which takes place over two days and this year featured five varied and interesting workshop sessions, but a warm and friendly welcome awaited me when I arrived early on Saturday morning.
Our weekend kicked off with a workshop from TABI’s own Mick Frankel on the subject of astrology, the court cards and the four elements. After learning about the attributes of the astrological signs and their corresponding royals, twelve lucky participants got to perform a short ritual together, illustrating the thematic connections between cards of each suit and status and their relative elements.

Best of all, Mick carried out a couple of sample readings. In a very airy reading (in the elemental sense, that is) Mary learned that she’s on the right track with her current business venture, but would benefit from bringing in a little King of Swords ruthlessness, whilst Susan drew a trio of Queens and found that it may be a good time to rein in the fiery tempers she’s working with and bring things down to earth for a time.

After lunch and only a mild panic (Louise’s face was a picture) about whether Anne-Marie Kell would arrive on time for her talk, we were treated to a journey through the unique Faulkner deck, created by Rhiannon Faulkner – a new tarot which aims to break with traditions and instead use modern images so that querents might relate more closely to their readings. Anne-Marie explained how the simple black and white photographs on each card featured members of the creator’s family, and was dedicated to the memory of her late husband, who features in many of the cups cards. As we worked through the deck, Anne-Marie offered additional insights into the cards’ meanings which Faulkner felt had come to her via a spirit guide.

Ania Marczyk

Our last Saturday session came from TABI veteran Ania Marczyk, who took us ‘Trumping through Time’ as we learned about the history of cards and card playing, beginning with the invention of paper in China and following a train of ornate and beautiful decks as card-playing’s popularity spread through Turkey and into Europe. New games and variants were being created all the time, but it wasn’t until the 1400s when a Milanese deck was created which would form the basis of what we now recognize as tarot. Ania treated us to some stunning images of centuries-old cards, hand-painted and intricately made, showing the four suits (coins, swords, cups and, er, polo sticks!) Other cards, clearly created for a hunting family, had suits represented by ducks, hawks, hounds and stags, and there was even an early circular deck.

Equally fascinating were lists of Major Arcana cards showing variations across the different nations. So we rediscovered long-forgotten international trumps such as The Ship, The House of God, The Traitor, and good old ‘Misery’.

In the seminar room

Ania’s trumps game was a fun and laid-back way to end our first busy day – I’m not sure quite how Mojo got her new ‘Cardshark’ nickname but over on my table a good time was had by all ;)
I wasn’t around for the evening socialising, but I know that our hard-grafting chair Louise was thanked for all the work in putting together this year’s conference – along with everyone else who’s worked away behind the scenes – and given a lovely bunch of flowers.

On Sunday morning I decided that I should try to be professional about my blogging duties and conducted a little interview with our diligent New Member Reading Co-ordinator Alison. She told me she’d really enjoyed unwinding with Ania’s card game yesterday, as well as putting new faces to names throughout the day, getting to know the personalities behind our web personae. Alison was particularly interested in Theresa Reed’s upcoming business website workshop, since she’s been trying to build her own website for a number of years and can’t quite seem to hit on the right approach.

The Sunday sessions began with Richard Abbot’s numerology workshop. This dynamic session acknowledged that for many tarotists, numbers are felt to be difficult to work with, too clearly defined, too ‘factual’, and sought to illustrate how numbers are in fact an extension of tarot’s energy, and at the same time give root to the system and meaning of tarot.

Astrological Court Cards

Richard busted the myth that the ‘monkey mind’ – one that constantly darts about connecting things together – is the one best suited to tapping in to our intuition, and politely informed us that we were going to get our heads stuffed full of numbers in order to quiet those monkey minds and create space for true intuitive knowledge to spring up.

We looked at cards through different lenses – firstly through the lens of our numerological birth numbers and their relative attributes, and then through four separate sets of eyes – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And in reading for ourselves, we were each able to draw the four major cards which formed the pattern of roads we would follow throughout our lives. Armed with this knowledge, Richard’s belief is that we may then be able to master these energies and work with them better, in order to live more fulfilling/less frustrated lives. The workshop was very interactive and we each carried out a personal reading on our own lives as we learned about the correspondences between numbers and cards, and our own birthdates – for many of us I think the results were extraordinary.

Lunch was laid-back and chatty, and Moti (I mean Cardshark!) and Louise pretty much cleaned up at the raffle, leaving poor old Mick and Richard looking crestfallen. As for me, I won a very sweet deck of cards showing cats up to all manner of cheeky tricks – with cats being a bit of a big theme in my life right now, I was pretty darn chuffed.

In the bar

Alas, it was confirmed today that tarot superstar Theresa Reed would not be joining us in person – extreme storms in the US had kept her plane well and truly grounded, so instead she was beamed in to us via Skype. Ah, the wonders of modern technology. She gave a lively and informative presentation on getting the most out of websites, social media and the internet in general to improve a tarot business. Fortunately she was very complimentary about TABI’s new website (!) but there were also some tips for TABI members who shared their own websites as part of the session. The session was full of useful tricks, dos and don’ts, and I think we all went away with some food for thought – certainly judging by the pens repeatedly grabbed around me as people scribbled down ideas. In fact, only a day later over on the forum, Watersigner is sending round a link to his new and improved website, tweaked in the light of Theresa’s interesting and experienced advice!

TABI’s 2012 conference was a great weekend. From a personal perspective I’ve met a lovely bunch of people and put faces and voices to names I previously only known on a web forum. Weird but lovely! I’ve learned a hell of a lot about tarot, and am buzzing with things I want to head home and try out. I’m so impressed with all the effort that’s been put in by members of our hard-working conference team, and it really showed in the whole friendly, relaxed atmosphere of the event. I’m pretty sure I’m speaking for everyone who attended when I say a big big big thank you to Louise and the whole Conference team for everything they’ve done – and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again in 2013.

Radiant Swords

©Virginijus Poshkus
Today's card from the Radiant Rider Waite (U.S. Games, 2003) and the Tarot of the New Vision (Lo Scarabeo, 2003) is one which many people don't much like - the Seven of Swords.  Often seen as indicating deceit, trickery, theft or plagiarism, let's take a closer look at what the image can tell us. 

In the Radiant Rider Waite image we see a man holding five swords.  He looks back over his shoulder with a self-satisfied smile as he sneaks away from a colourful campground.  No question where the traditional interpretations come from! 

Still, he can certainly be seen another way, too.  I often associate this card with doing research.  We must often step carefully when asking questions, and we hope to leave with more ideas than we came with, enriched by our interaction with those colourful tents and different perspectives :)

©Cestaro & Alligo
The Tarot of the New Vision version also supports this interpretation.  After all, from this perspective we can see that the man is making towards a tower - often a symbol for academia ;) 

I find it interesting that in this card the swords are golden rather than silver: the difference suggests seeking enlightenment or prosperity, rather than clarity (silver mirrors), clear communication (being silver-tongued) and decisiveness (silver or steel cut better than soft gold).

What different perspectives could you gather today?  How can you work smarter, rather than harder?  Where do you want to be, in amongst colour and noise, or in a quiet, stable place?  What do you need to think about to get to where you want to be?

Monday, 30 July 2012

Radiant Beauty

©Virginijus Poshkus
Today's card from the Radiant Rider Waite (U.S. Games, 2003) and the Tarot of the New Vision (Lo Scarabeo, 2003) is another Major - the Empress.

What a beautiful card to receive at any time.  She feels particularly appropriate, though, just two days before Lammas.  This sabbat is associated with the first harvest of the year, often of corn.  And so, this beautiful Empress sat by a field of wheat, promising abundance, creativity and fertility feels just right.  

In the Radiant Rider Waite version, she has a crown of stars on her head (11 here, though I believe there were 12 in the Original Rider Waite Smith deck), and a pearl necklace on.  In her right hand she holds a short golden baton topped with a globe.  She reclines against rich red cushions, with Venus markings on them, and there is a stone with a Venus emblem just below her, too.  Venus, as a Goddess of beauty and love, fits well with the Empress, who is nurturing and generous, beautiful and graceful.  Her dress is white (colour of purity) with red flowers (for passion), green stalks (for growth) and a yellow trim (warmth and enlightenment).  Behind her we see a verdant forest, and a stream that flows into a waterfall, cleansing and nourishing all that grows around it, as well as speaking of an easy flow of emotions.

©Cestaro & Alligo
What do we see from the other side?  The Tarot of the New Vision also has the elements of the blonde woman on a stone plinth with red cushions and Venus embroidery.  We still see some wheat growing in front of her, too.  However, in front of that we also see open gates leading onto a winding path up a gently hill.  Creativity takes some work, even when it is joyful.  It also leads us to new horizons.

Behind her, we see two naked children, a boy and a girl, petting a swan.  The children clearly speak of fertility, nurturing and creativity, as well as of innocence, kindness and joy.  The swan represents beauty and strength.  The Empress protects these children behind her.  She is also swan-like: she may look beautiful and serene, but that doesn't mean she isn't very active with it.  Just that we may not always realise all that she is doing, nor the strength that it takes.

What do you want to give birth to this week?  How can you tap into your own creativity?  What can you do to appreciate your own strength and beauty today?

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Radiant Call

©Virginijus Poshkus
For this second day with the Radiant Rider Waite (U.S. Games, 2003) and the Tarot of the New Vision (Lo Scarabeo, 2003), I drew a Major - Judgement.

In the Radiant version, an angel with purple and red wings blows on a trumpet.  Roused by his call, families rise up from their watery graves, their blue bodies contrasting starkly with their blond hair.  The mountains in the background are snow-capped, adding to the sense of cold, but also speaking of higher truths for which we can strive. 

This is clearly an "end of days" scenario, but what it brings to mind for me is the idea of leaving behind old ways of behaving, old patterns, habits and ways of life.  We hear a calling, a trumpet bugling to wake us up and guide us towards something new.

The Tarot of the New Vision shows us the same scene, but looking from behind the angel.  His wings only show red, and the tufts of his hair look very flame-like.  This trumpeting wakes us up, burns away the old, and fills us with new enthusiasm, a new sense of purpose - all traits linked to the element of fire.  The people in this image rise up looking far more natural - tan skin and brown hair. 

©Cestaro & Alligo
Behind them now we see birds - white birds rising into the sky, black birds plunging down towards the water.  Perhaps they are being purified by the water, to rise anew.  Or, moving away from Christian iconography and ideas of black being bad, perhaps the black birds carry messages down to the earth, while the white birds carry them up to the heavens.  Some of us need messages that will ground us, while others may need messages that turn our eyes away from the mundane...

Although the family rises up as one, I wonder whether each person hears something different in the call.  Their expressions and body posture suggests that might be the case.  The man cranes his head up at an uncomfortable-looking angle, hands pulled in close to his chest.  The woman gazes more gently upward, with her arms held straight out in front of her, and the child has hir arms spread wide, mouth open as though cheering.  Some of us may find it uncomfortable to contemplate changing our circumstances, unsure whether we wish to heed the call we hear.  Others may welcome it, but feel in need of help to achieve such changes, whether big or small.  Finally, if we can look on things with child-like innocence and joy, we may welcome the chance for a new beginning, excited by the prospect of an adventure into the unknown.

Today, I hear Sheryl Crow's voice singing A Change Would Do You Good :)

How do you respond to change?  What small step might you take today to create a new path?  What habits or ways of being do you feel called to change?  How can you listen to the inner voice that guides you towards your soul purpose?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Radiant Rest

©Virginijus Poshkus
This week I decided to go for a couple of fairly modern classics: the Radiant Rider Waite (U.S. Games, 2003) and the Tarot of the New Vision (Lo Scarabeo, 2003).  For those who haven't seen or heard of it, the Tarot of the New Vision takes traditional RWS imagery and turns it 180º - looking from behind the normal perspective.  It's an interesting idea, and well executed.

I love the colours in the Radiant Rider Waite - there's such variety, warmth and richness to them compared to the original.  Here, I notice that particularly in the stainglass window behind the entombed knight.  To me, it suggests that illumination has a multiplicity of forms.  It also suggests that though we may seem to be completely withdrawn, we can still be taking a lot in - we're just not actively doing anything about it yet.

The entombed knight lies with one sword horizontally underneath him, a single idea that acts as his foundation and support.  Three more hang on the wall to his side; over his head, chest and stomach.  They make me think of the different symptoms we can have related to painful thoughts: a head whirling with worries and doubts; a feeling of guilt, fear or responsibility that may weigh us down so it feels hard to breathe; or a churning in our stomach, perhaps even feeling sick with worry.  These could well be the reasons why we need the time out and healing the Four of Swords offers: a time to calm our mind as much as resting our body.

©Cestaro & Alligo
The Tarot of the New Vision shows our knight, but from the other side (though it's rather less obvious than in many of the cards from this deck).  From this side, we can see that there are two people standing guard over him, suggesting the idea of needing and receiving support to help recuperate.  Also, in this version he is not entombed, but lying in rest.  The swords are positioned the same way as in the RWS, but there are butterflies flying around them, suggesting these ideas can transform, or that they can transform us.

I also notice the different composition in the stainglass window - a monk offers something to a dog, while the sun shines over a green tree.  This speaks of the gifts we receive from spiritual support to help us with our more instinctual world.  It also speaks of growth and healing, of health and happiness.

It seems to me that these two cards offer quite different perspectives on rest and healing.  The RRW seems more inward-focused, suggesting a need for complete withdrawal from the outside world, and for seeking inner illumination as a balance to the worries and stresses we face.  The New Vision, on the other hand, seems more outward-looking.  It asks what support we can get to help us deal with stress and painful thoughts.  Although there is clearly a spiritual aspect to this, too, it is focused more on what we can receive from others than simply on us and our own resources.

How can you give youself a bit of time out today?  Which would feel more supportive for you, time for yourself or a bit of support?  What can you do to get the rest you need?

Friday, 27 July 2012

Unicorn Magician

©Hilton & Star
For this last draw with the Unicorn Tarot (U.S. Games, 1996) and the Unicorn Cards (Findhorn Press, 2008) the cards I pulled are the Magician and "Wisdom".

The Magician in the Unicorn Tarot is an old man with a white beard.  He wears a purple robe trimmed in gold, colours of wisdom, spirituality and enlightenment.  In his left hand he holds a wand, which is twisted like a unicorn's horn.  Around him, the other three suit symbols seem to dance in the air  - a sword by his right hand, a golden cup by his left knee, and a golden pentacle by his right foot. 

Just behind and to his left stands a pure white unicorn, gazing towards the Magician and his tools.  The landscape around them is a sandy yello, and behind them both we see a sharply pointed mountain range into which a turreted edifice blends, rising high above them.

This card gives me a real sense not only of the Magician having the power to manifest his will, to make things happen in a seemingly magical way, but also of him doing so from a spiritual place.  This isn't the sometimes trickster-like Magician we see behind a table, perhaps performing for others, nor the juggler of some Marseille-style decks.  He has more of the wise old man to him, a greater sense of experience, wisdom, and working for the good of all.

©Diana Cooper
That seems to fit extremely well with the draw from the Unicorn Cards, titled "Wisdom".  The phrase on the card reads: "Act with wisdom and people will respect you."   I notice, too, that one of the figures on the card even holds his arms in a similar position to our Unicorn Magician! 

In a Native American landscape, one man sits on a carpet on the ground, with arms and legs crossed, a feather headdress half black and half white upon his head.  He sits in the middle of the scene, and stares straight out at us.  Behind and to his left, another man, grey of hair, stands with his arms raised like the Magician, as though in prayer.  A third figure lounges on the ground to the right, outside a teepee. 

There are several horses in the background, as well as possibly some sheep.   A slightly glowing unicorn also stands a little way back from the three figures, looking towards them. 

Who is it that acts with wisdom here?  The chieftain, the medicine man, or the brave?  Perhaps this is a reminder that what counts as wise behaviour may depend to an extent on our social role, and that expectations of us may vary depending on how others perceive us.   We can earn respect for different forms of wisdom, and may need to decide what it is we'd like to be respected for, where our wisdom lies.

What would you like others to think of you?  How can you live up to expectations, your own and those of others?  What do you want to create in your life?

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Unicorn Energy

©Hilton & Star
What lovely energy for this sunny Thursday morning!  From the Unicorn Tarot (U.S. Games, 1996) we have the Knight of Rods (Wands) and from the Unicorn Cards (Findhorn Press, 2008) we have Soul Satisfaction :)

The Knight of Rods charges into the frame, wand held aloft, his unicorn rearing up under him.  Above him we see images of phoenixs, proud and fierce, harbingers of new beginnings and hope.  The landscape around our knight is fiery red, with flames rising up to one side.  It looks almost as though he is trying to get the unicorn to dive into a flaming volcano!

This Knight is full of energy, charging in to battle whenever his passion is aroused.  He doesn't always have the staying power we might hope for, as some new cause distracts him.  Still, he is enthusiastic and energetic, advising us to make use of that focus and power while it lasts :)

©Diana Cooper
The Unicorn Card to accompany our Knight seems far calmer and more watery at first glance.  On a bridge or boardwalk by water, one man plays a flute, while a family group stands nearby, the woman holding a young child in her arms, while the man wraps his arm around her.  In the background, a dolphin leaps from the water and a unicorn flies towards the family, golden wings spread wide.

Where I really see the connection between these cards is in the phrase that accompanies it: "Aim for that which makes your soul rejoice."  This could definitely be the mantra of the Knight of Rods, who aims high, inspired by his passion and what he values in life.

What inspires you?  How can you aim for what you want?  When better than today to make a start on something you feel passionate about?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Unicorn Changes

©Hilton & Star
Well, this is a striking combo from the Unicorn Tarot (U.S. Games, 1996) and the Unicorn Cards (Findhorn Press, 2008).  We have Death and The Christ!

In the Unicorn Tarot, the Death card shows us a skeletal figure with a scythe.  Dressed in a green robe, colour of growth and new beginnings, Death is accompanied by a skeletal unicorn.  Both stand in a barren, brown landscape, with the occasional rock, and sandy hills in the background.  Even the sky is brown.  Still, Death's robe and the presence of the unicorn speak of there being hope within this bleak vista.

This card is a good expression, in my eyes, of the idea that sometimes we need things to be really, clearly over, before we are able to let go and move on.  Things need to be bleak before we acknowledge that, yes, we'd rather be somewhere else in our lives, or maybe with someone else.

©Diana Cooper
The Unicorn Card to accompany this message is the Christ card.  The phrase at the bottom says: "Open the door to the Kingdom of Heaven."  Given that many people associate Heaven with dying, it seems a good match for the Death card! 

On a less morbid level, though, I notice that the Christ hangs suspended over green fields, not up in the clouds.  The message seems to be about moving on in some definitive way, allowing us to experience a greater sense of bliss and connectedness in our lives.

Definitive endings, and the new possibilities they open up, seem to be the common message here.

What in your life do you need to let go of?  What changes do you want to make?  What can you do today to make a start?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Unicorn Gifts

©Hilton & Star
On this Tuesday, the cards we meet from the Unicorn Tarot (U.S. Games, 1996) and the Unicorn Cards (Findhorn Press, 2008) are the Six of Pentacles and Archangel Gabriel.

Once again, the Unicorn Tarot's take on this card is a little different to traditional RWS symbolism.  A young man holds out a chain of pentacles to a unicorn calf, who seems to lift up to receive it.  Or maybe they are playing at bull-fighting, with the unicorn trying to jab the pentacles... only joking ;)  It looks a rather heavy chain for the small unicorn.  Perhaps, though, it is a symbol that the unicorn is now to be treated as an adult.  Or simply a sign of just how much the young man appreciates his four-legged companion.

In terms of traditional interpretations about giving and receiving, generosity and charity, I wonder whether both parties feel they get the best part of this exchange.  The young man has the companionship and guidance of a magical unicorn, as well as the knowledge that he has been generous to another being.  The unicorn receives something beautiful and valuable, and an acknowledgement of the value of its company.

©Diana Cooper
It's curious that the Unicorn Card I drew to accompany this image also shows a unicorn wearing a chain around its neck.  In the foreground we see the Archangel Gabriel, in a silver dress and with golden wings.  Likewise, the unicorn behind her glows silver-white, and has golden wings.  There are snow-dusted mountains in the background, rolling green hills in the foreground, and a shining star just above Gabriel's raised wings and arms.  The card talks of calling in pure white light, a cleansing, healing force.

Love is that energy, that force, and we call it in when we offer it to others, as the two friends seem to in the Six of Pentacles.  We can draw on love from the Universe, from spirit, from loved ones, and even from strangers, and likewise offer it back to each in turn.  The love we feel for those close to us is often more obvious, as with the friends in the Six of Rods.  Yet sometimes it can be easy to love a stranger, as we also know less of their faults.

How can you find a balance today between giving and receiving?  What cleansing or healing do you need to bring into your life?  How can you offer love today?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Unicorn Blessings

©Hilton & Star
Today's offerings from the Unicorn Tarot (U.S. Games, 1996) and the Unicorn Cards (Findhorn Press, 2008) are the Six of Rods (Wands) and "Blessings".

This Six of Rods is quite an unusual take on the card.  A young figure with long, reddish-brown hair sits astride a unicorn.  The two are on a cliff ledge, looking across at a castle or fortified town.  The whole landscape seems obscured by a cloud of red sand, with little definition or clarity.  Still, our young warrior seems ready to take on the castle with nothing more than the unicorn and six rods.

There is little sense here of a victory already won.  Rather, this image has a castles-in-the-sky feel to it.  Whether we can conquer them has yet to be shown.  Still, if a can-do attitude is the most important thing we can bring to life to ensure our success, then this card has that in spades :)

©Diana Cooper
In the Unicorn Card we have a farmer surrounded by a number of animals, with a unicorn behind, and heart-shaped clouds floating in the sky.  Two duck parents herd their two offspring along, chatting and flapping as they go.  A cat sits cleaning itself, seemingly oblivious to the dog barely a metre away, who in turn looks up enthusiastically at the farmer.  As for the man, he seems to be counting his animals - does he see each one as a blessing?  Certainly, if he looks after them, the animals should multiply, fitting with the card's sentence...

What I see as the blessing here is having a home where you are welcome and loved, with family and friends, and maybe a touch of magic :)

Together, the two cards suggest that perhaps we should stop looking at castles in the sky, and acknowledge the successes we have already achieved, though they may be less dramatic.  Or else, they could be taken as saying that if we have a strong foundation, we have a better chance of achieving those other goals.  Take your pick ;D

What are the blessings in your life?  What would you still like to achieve?  What can you do today to celebrate what you have while also working towards what you would like?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Unicorn Queen

©Hilton & Star
Another interesting pair today from the Unicorn Tarot (U.S. Games, 1996) and the Unicorn Cards (Findhorn Press, 2008).  The Tarot offers us the Five of Swords, while the Cards give us the "Queen of the Unicorns"!

In this particular Five of Swords, a man stands at the front of the card, a sword in either hand, and another three swords buried tip down in the snow in front of him.  In the middle ground, a unicorn stands on a snowy rise, gazing forward.  Meanwhile, in the background a couple stand arm in arm together, their free hands on their hips, also looking towards the man in the foreground.  They both wear purple capes, suggesting wisdom and an openness to spirit.  The soldier may have all the swords, yet the couple have each other, and seemingly the protection of the unicorn. 

I certainly see the traditional notion of a hollow victory in this card.  What good all those swords, if you are a social pariah?  Who would feel more smug, the man who has swords, or the one who has the support of a lovely woman, and the wisdom to appreciate what he has?

©Diana Cooper
The Unicorn Card reminds us, though, that whatever side of the equation we are on, it never hurts to show compassion to a fellow being.  The Queen of the Unicorns stands, with glowing golden wings and horn, in a meadow full of flowers.  At her feet, a young child plays, guarded over by the wisdom, love and compassion of this beautiful spirit.

Perhaps, guided by the unicorn between them, the soldier will lay down his swords, his spirit purified of the need to conquer.  And maybe the couple will welcome him into their home, opening their hearts to him.

These cards remind us that it is never too late to pull back from a lose-lose situation, to turn it around into a win for all.  Each person, though, must find the wisdom to choose love and compassion, calling on their higher self to help them release greed and jealousy, envy and anger.

Who might you show compassion to today?  How can you connect to a sense of love?  What wisdom is there for you to find in life today?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Unicorn Choices

After last week's "dark" decks, this week I decided to go for what some might call the opposite: a couple of "unicorn" decks ;D  To be precise, the Unicorn Tarot (U.S. Games, 1996) and the Unicorn Cards (Findhorn Press, 2008).  As one is a tarot and the other an oracle, the cards won't be the same.  Still, I thought it would be fun to see how they do or don't play into one another :D

©Hilton & Star
For this first draw we have the King of Pentacles and "Choices".  The King of Pentacles shows a man in a green robe, seated on a throne.  His surroundings shade from mustard on the floor, to a warm, light brown above his head.  He holds a huge, wooden circle with an eight-pointed golden star as his "pentacle".  Above him are leaf-like decorations, and at his side a unicorn lies, rubbing its head up against him.

The unicorn recognises this King's strength and ability to provide food and warmth and other material comforts.  It seems like the King offers physical comfort to the unicorn, but I wonder if it doesn't go both ways, like with cats :)

The Unicorn card "Choices" suggests that we remember there are always options.  A man stands inside a dark hall, with two doorways.  One leads into another dark space, while the sceond leads out onto a sunny path through pleasant meadows.  The man is blindfolded, but the magical unicorn behind him seems to be giving him a nudge in the right direction.

Combining the message from both cards, I wonder whether there could be good advice coming from someone grounded, mature and practical.  Or perhaps we need to make choices today from that place of practicality and focusing on comfort and well-being.  The negative side of the King of Pentacles includes a certain hedonism: self-pampering can be good and necessary, but it can also slip into overindulgence.  May our unicorns guide us to the healthiest choice for ourselves today :D

What would be most physically beneficial for you today?  A bath, a workout, a lie-in or nap?  Maybe all of the above?  How can you make some time today to enjoy your creature comforts?  If faced with a choice, can you choose what is best for you?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Dark Queen

©Raffaele De Angelis
For this last day with the Dark Fairytale Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) and the Dark Angels Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010), another Court card graces us with her presence: the Queen of Swords.

When I first saw the Dark Fairytale Queen, I thought her the Queen of Wands.  She has a rather wanton look, fiery red hair and a challenging gaze, none of which fall within my usual understanding of the Queen of Swords.  But the sword in her left hand and the butterflies that flit around her brook no argument: she is the Queen of Swords.

I guess the challenging gaze should not come as such a surprise.  Although I associate her with a certain level of empathy, having been through the mill herself, she is still a woman of sharp wit and discernment.  She may empathise with your pain, but she will also suggest you put your brain to use and find a solution to what ails you.

©Luca Russo
The Dark Angels Queen of Swords also defies expectations.  Were it not for the throne, she could easily be the Page/Princess of Swords!  Her youthful figure and balletic pose, gazing with curiosity at the sword she holds, do not readily speak of maturity, experience and wisdom.  She does, however, have a somewhat tragic air that fits her station.

I really like her wings, like a dark butterfly with silver highlights.  They speak to me of darkness and light balanced by inner strength.  I have the feeling that when she wields her sword, she will do so with grace, in both senses of the word: both in an elegant way, and in a way the shows her spiritual approach to life.

How might you defy expectations today?  Who in your life might benefit from a bit of empathy, or perhaps some clear advice?  What will you turn your mind to today?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Dark Inspiration

©Raffaele De Angelis
The inspiration for me comparing these two decks, the Dark Fairytale Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) and the Dark Angels Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010), first came from Prince Le Normand.  He wrote about them a while back, and even created a hybrid deck combining his favourite of the two for each card!  After all, they're both Lo Scarabeo decks, the same size, and with similar borders and a similar theme.  While I'm not sure I'm ready to be quite that experimental, I do think it's an interesting idea. 

That notion of choices and breaking your own path is one that I see in the Dark Fairytale Two of Wands.  The eponymous two wands stand to either side of him, their crystal tops glowing a bright blue, while in front of him floats a glowing globe, a miniature earth.  Yet the angel - white of wing, dressed in a black waistcoat and trousers, with a tattoo and a goatee - sits on the outside edge of a balustrade, gazing upward.  He has the wands and the earth, yet he looks elsewhere, following his own bliss, perhaps willing to take a leap into the unknown.  For the moment, though, he sits there, enjoying the view, getting a feel for what he wants, allowing himself to be inspired.

©Luca Russo
The Dark Angels Tarot is very different, yet also charming in its own way.  A woman, almost more faery than angel with her butterfly wings, walks between two bare-branched trees.  She plays a violin, moving to her own music, breaking her own path.  And as she moves she seems entranced, so focused on what she's playing. 

Does she choose this path she's breaking, or does she just follow where the music leads her?  Or maybe the act of her choosing the music determines the road she will follow.  And how does she decide what to play?  Inspiration seems to play a role, and maybe the music changes as the conditions around her change, responding to the environment.  In that way, we return to the notion of getting a feel for where she is and allowing herself to be inspired, just as with the Dark Fairytale card...

What choices do you face today?  How can you best get the lay of the land?  Will you allow inspiration to come to you?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Dark Page

©Raffaele De Angelis
On this Wednesday in the middle of July, the card that comes to visit is the Page of Pentacles.  Let's look at both the Dark Fairytale Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) and the Dark Angels Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010) versions and see what they have to say.

The Dark Fairytale Page is a woman in a sleeveless dress of black, or maybe midnight blue.  She kneels on the ground in a forest, with a red-eyed crow on her shoulder.  In her cupped palms rests a pentacle, a glowing globe lit from within.  Her reddish hair and the golden pentacle are the only colour in the dark landscape, in which more crows fly up above.

The connection of this Page to the earth is clear, as she kneels upon it in a wooded glade.  She also has a feeling of innocence and wonder.  Is she actively placing her energy, her hopes for future prosperity, into the ground in the form of the pentacle?  Or is it something she has dug up from under one of the trees, discovering treasure in the most unlikely of places?

©Luca Russo
The Dark Angels Page is also a woman in a dark dress.  However, she feels a little more desperate, less hopeful.  She stands in a graveyard, clinging to her pentacle, her gaze raised to the heavens.  Her wings are a dirty grey, her eyes are darkly rimmed, and her hair and skin are deathly pale.  The pentacle she holds seems to glow brightly in the dark, wooded landscape.  I notice, though, the little human figure on the pentacle, looking rather shocked or afraid.

Is she clinging to her earth-bound existence, wanting to experience all the new potential it offers?  Or does she feel weighed down and trapped by her own materiality?  Is she coming face-to-face with the physical reality of mortality?

In both versions I get the sense of discovery, of exploring the material world and its possibilities.  However, the Dark Angel seems sad, almost tragic, while the Dark Fairytale Page has a feeling of being spiritually connected and full of youthful curiosity and awe.

What seeds can you sow today?  Can you connect to the wonder of life?  How can you see the world around you as if for the first time?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Dark Castles in the Sky

©Raffaele De Angelis
Drawing once again from the Dark Fairytale Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) and the Dark Angels Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010), the card for today is the Three of Wands.

This is a card that sometimes gives readers pause.  How is it different from the Two of Wands?  For me, the main difference is that in the Two we have a decision to make, whereas in the Three we are either moving forward based on that decision, or waiting for the results of the choice that we made. 

I see more of the former in this card from the Dark Fairytale Tarot.  A woman stands with a wand held at her side, looking up to the right of the card at a moonlit castle.  The crystal at the tip of her wand glows behind her back - she has resources to call upon - an a crow sits on one of the two other wands in the background to her side.  I get the sense of listening to messages from spirit to help guide us in our path forward.  Also, of having a goal in sight, a definite aim that we haven't yet reached, but that we have set course for.  It feels like she is thinking big, setting her sights high, and willing to work for what she wants.

©Luca Russo
In the Dark Angels Tarot, on the other hand, I see more of the "waiting" side of this card.  Here we have a dark-winged angel in an elegant cream dress and a dark, embroidered waistcoat, with a black jacket and lacy cuffs and neck.  She holds a staff in her hand, and there are also two more staffs to her side, in the foreground.  Interestingly, a crow flies above and away from her.  The tree to her other side is wintery, and the landscape seems dull and misty.  She looks down to the left of the card, gazing at we-know-not-what.

This feels like a far more passive card, waiting to see what will happen next, thinking back on what has gone before, rather than focusing on the future and what is yet to be done.  The bird flying away suggests messages unheeded - perhaps there is more that could already be done, but she isn't listening to what that could be.

I prefer the Dark Fairytale version, as Wands are a suit of action and projects, values and beliefs, of going for what you want.  The passivity of the Dark Angels card doesn't feel quite right to me.  What do you think?

What plans do you have for the future?  What steps can you take today to bring yourself closer to your goals?  What resources can you draw upon to accomplish what you want?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Dark Justice

©Raffaele De Angelis
For this third draw comparing the Dark Fairytale Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) and the Dark Angels Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010), the card to pop up is Justice (numbered VIII in both).

In the Dark Fairytale Tarot, a woman faces right, towards sunshine pouring in between elegant, ornate columns.  She stands on a dark, cobbled floor, her white wings catching some of the sunlight, as she holds a sword up to the radiance.  In her left hand, we see a small scales, but her focus is all on the sword, as she looks directly at it and the light that flows over it. 

There's a real feeling of divine justice to this image - she is guided by the light and wields the sword to cut through the darkness, rather than in an angry fashion.  She doesn't focus on the exact balance, as expressed by the scales, because her focus is on the intent rather than the prosaic detail, the soul behind the action rather than its outward consequences.

©Luca Russo
The Dark Angels Tarot is quite different in many ways.  The woman here has black wings, and her hair hangs across her face, obscuring her view.  Her gaze is directed towards the ground, or perhaps towards the feather floating down by her thigh.  There is a sword in her left hand, and a scales in her right.  Yet, each looks as though she is connected to it without really holding it, there without truly being grasped.  Around her, the landscape is blurry, as though she is somewhere in the clouds, though her feet seem planted on a firm surface.  A number of feathers float around her, reminiscent of Ma'at and her scales of justice weighing people's hearts and intent.

What is justice to a Dark Angel?  She has made her own choices, not following the rules laid down for her by another.  Does she judge others by her own standards, or by whether they live up to the standards they each make for themselves?

Perhaps, in the end, both versions of Justice are judging people by their own higher selves, by their intent and their inner light.

Do you follow your own sense of right and wrong?  How do you feel you are living up to your standards today?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Dark Tower

©Raffaele De Angelis
For this possibly sunny Sunday, the card I've drawn is less than happy: the Tower.  Let's see what the Dark Fairytale Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) and the Dark Angels Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010) make of it...

 The Dark Fairytale image shows what seems like the ruins of a tower - with a gateway leading nowhere as the twoer rises from a stone promontory, or perhaps the tip of what once was a far larger building.  Leafless branches rise like grasping hands from the mist that dusts up around the Tower.  Two creatures, one clearly a wolf, the other possibly a black cat stand in front of it, the wolf howling up at the destruction.  The tower itself is lightning-struck, flames erupting from the highest windows.  That same lightning crashes down again, streaking through the crimson-toned sky.

There's a real sense here of having known for a while that the Tower was on its last legs.  Yet still, it was a home, a place of security, and the wolf for one is sad to see it go.  He howls at the shattering of his refuge.  Still, he isn't in the burning building.  Though he may mourn it, he can go and find a new place to live, a new way of life.

©Luca Russo
Far harsher is the image from the Dark Angels.  Here an angel seems to fall from the Tower from which smoke billows.  His wings may be on fire, and he doesn't look too happy to be in the air, though he may yet pull out of the fall.  Above him, lightning forks into the Tower again, as though trying to burrow it's way through the remaining defenses, to definitively topple the highest turret.  That may be another reason for the Dark Angel's panic - all that masonry about to come crashing down around him!

This seems like a more sudden catastrophe, one that was more unexpected and from which the victim is fleeing, barely intact, with nothing but a loincloth on.  A far cry from the independent wolf, still with his fur unruffled, able to set out on his own four paws in search of something new.

I see two things here, about how we can react to disasters in our lives.  One is the old saw that forewarned is forearmed.  Of course, we don't always pick up on the signs of impending doom, but that's another matter.  The second is that if we are whole unto ourselves, requiring little, then we will be less affected by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Another good reason for the yogic principle of non-attachment :)

What cracks may there be in your life that you have perhaps been trying to ignore?  What things do you NEED?  How can you open more to the new and unexpected?

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Dark Romance

©Raffaele De Angelis
This week, I decided to do my daily draws with two "dark" decks: the recently released Dark Fairytale Tarot by Raffaele De Angelis (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) and the Dark Angels Tarot by Luca Russo (Lo Scarabeo, 2010).

The first card to make an appearance seems a good omen - the Two of Cups!  Looks like there could be a new romance in sight ;)  Whether it's us falling in love with these decks, or something about how their energies will combine, we'll just have to wait and see.

In the Dark Fairytale Tarot an angel clasps a woman to his chest.  Each of them holds a cup in their left hand, and they face away from each other.  In the background, the sun pours its golden light through autumnal trees, largely bare-branched.  The pink hues that blend up into lilac closer to the top of the card speak of love and eros. 

It feels like this couple don't need to be constantly gazing at one another, they know the other is there, and that's the most important part.  Or could it be that he holds her possessively, controlling her because he is winged, while she hangs in his grasp, feeling she has no control?

©Luca Russo
The Dark Angels Tarot version is rather darker.  Not just in the black wings of the two characters, and their black clothes, but also in the fiery background, and the stone engraved with a lion's head on which they seem to stand.  Although these two dark angels have their bodies turned to each other, he looks out at us, while she looks down to where their two cups touch. 

To me, they seem far less intimate than the couple in the Dark Fairytale image.  It feels like they cling together out of habit, out of desperation, rather than out of love.  Or maybe he is staring us down, daring us to come closer, willing to defend her at any cost, while she has eyes for no-one else, focusing on their relationship represented by the cups?

In both cards, the sense that comes through most strongly is one of "It's complicated!"  As in life, so in the cards :)

What do you do when you don't see eye to eye with your nearest and dearest?  Can you take the time today to tell someone you love them?  Or at least tell them one thing you love about them?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Zombie Chariot

©Graham & Kepple
For this final day with the Zombie Tarot (Quirk Books, 2012) and the Housewives Tarot (Quirk Books, 2004), another Major comes to play.

A car seems quite paltry protection from a hoard of ravening zombies, and I wonder whether the chap here was made foolhardily brave thinking, "well, I can always hightail it put of there".  As any watcher of horror movies knows, the car never starts when you're in a panic, and windows can be smashed to drag you out and munch on your brains!

Still, it's probably part of the Chariot's energy to have more faith in yourself than is perhaps warranted, to want to prove yourself and thereby get yourself in some tricky situations.

©Buffum & Kepple
These two Housewives seem to be in a similar situation, having grabbed a bunch of stuff - some risky, some they hope to gain from - which they now have to carry.  Although their sedan will get them home, they'll still have to carry it all into the house, and then live with the choices they made. 

However, the lady in blue does have a trick up her sleeve: the tarot!  Hopefully, having a clearer idea of what she wants, how to get it, and what it may bring her, will mean that her choices aren't quite so chancy...

What do you have to prove today?  What risks are you willing to take?  How can you best plan for all eventualities?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Zombie Responsibilities

©Graham & Kepple
The Zombie Tarot (Quirk Books, 2012) and the Housewives Tarot (Quirk Books, 2004) offer us quite different perspectives on the Ten of Wands today, at least at first glance.

In the Zombie version, an undead man staggers around carrying various limbs and other body parts.  At first, I wasn't sure what to make of this, then I wondered whether he was carrying them to some other Zombies.  Maybe he is taking responsibility for bringing the munchies to a Zombie party, or perhaps to feed a Zombie in such a state of decomposition that they can no longer go out and fend for themselves in the bone crunching department.

He doesn't seem to be doing a brilliant job of it, though, dropping a hand here, a foot there.  He seems to have bitten off more than he can chew ;D  And so this card acts as a good reminder to beware what responsibilities we take on, lest we drop the ball on something important because we're trying to deal with more than we can handle.

©Buffum & Kepple
The woman in the Housewives' Ten of Wands seems to have the same problem.  Drowning under the weight of brooms, mops and rakes, it doesn't look like she'll be able to do any of those tasks well unless she stops, puts something down and focuses on one thing at a time.

This card makes me think of the importance of prioritising, deciding what needs doing first and just getting on with it.  I have to admit, I tend to be a multi-tasker, doing things in little bouts between other tasks.  I think most mothers probably are: writing a letter between the kids going to school and doing the hoovering, getting the shopping before hanging the laundry, blogging just before the kids get home... Even so, there's still a need to decide what needs doing now and what can wait til later.

What tasks do you have on your plate right now?  How can you best prioritise them?  Do you need to learn to delegate, or sometimes say "no"?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Zombie Romance

©Graham & Kepple
After yesterday's old flame card, today the Zombie Tarot (Quirk Books, 2012) and the Housewives Tarot (Quirk Books, 2004), offer us the ultimate romancer: the Knight of Cups.

The Zombie Knight doesn't seem all that much of a romantic at first glance.  He's out in the surf, riding a wave, a brain in his hand.  Still, it makes me think of the old Milk Tray ads where a guy did some amazing stunts to bring his lady love a box of chocolates. In the same way, here our Knight is not only strutting his stuff, flexing his pecs and showing his ability to ride the waves of emotion, but it's "all because the lady loves fresh brains" :D

Like the man in the ads, though, I have to wonder whether he does it more for the excitement and the adulation (or to monkey sex) it garners him, and less out of true love...

©Buffum & Kepple
The Housewives Tarot goes straight for the more traditional notion of romance: a guy in a blazer pouring some champagne for the lady whom he's already given a red rose.  I am equally, or perhaps even more suspicious of him than of the Zombie Knight. 

I mean just look at him!  Too smooth to be true, to me he looks like a public school boy in this alma mater's jacket.  My experience with his type is that, having been to school with nothing but other boys, they have little understanding that women are actually people.  Maybe I'm too much of a cynic...

Cynic or softie, how do you feel about romance?  Is there a situation in your life where you need to ride the wave of emotions? 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Zombie Children

©Graham & Kepple
Memories of childhood surface with today's card, the Six of Cups from the Zombie Tarot (Quirk Books, 2012) and the Housewives Tarot (Quirk Books, 2004).

Despite his rather putrid state, the little girl in the pink dress seems to still have feelings for her childhood friend.  She hugs him close, while he grins maniacally.  Are they each thinking of happy days playing in the sunshine together?  Or is he thinking about drawing her close so that he can eat her brains?

While this card speaks to happy memories of the past, or taking a child-like approach to life, it also reminds me that sometimes the things we love are not necessarily good for us.

©Buffum & Kepple
That message is also echoed in the Housewives version of the card, where we have another smiling blonde girl, this time raising a glass of pink lemonade to her lips.  While the saying "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." springs to mind here, another thing I see is the suggestion that too much of a good thing is still too much!  While it could be a reminder of times in the past when we made the best of things and enjoyed ourselves despite the circumstances, I can't help but think if she drinks all that lemonade she'll be sick.

Have you been feeling drawn to reconnect with someone or something from your past?  Do you remember why you are no longer involved with them?  Can you accept both the good and bad aspects of the past?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Zombie Star

©Graham & Kepple
What a lovely card to start the week!  From the Zombie Tarot (Quirk Books, 2012) and the Housewives Tarot (Quirk Books, 2004), the Star shines out at us.

No dead or decaying corpses here, but also no starlit sky nor woman pouring water from jugs.  Instead, just a Medal of Honour for a Zombie Slayer.  This is an unusual take on the Star card, not just in terms of the image, but even of the intent. 

What I see here is something to strive towards, which I suppose can be one version of a guiding light.  Whether it be acting with the possible reward of a medal in mind, or following a role model - wanting to be like someone who was awarded one of these medals - the Star that we reach for seems a rather human one.

This image also fits quite well with the sometimes expressed idea of seeing a light in our darkest hour.  Presumably, the kind of behaviour that is rewarded with a Medal of Honour often takes place under difficult, extreme circumstances - fighting off a hoard of brain-sucking zombies single-handed, for instance ;)

©Buffum & Kepple
A similar idea emerges from the Housewives version of this card.  Here, we have a woman holding a cherry pie which has won first prize in a competition.  Around her are a multitude of ribbons - awards from other pie competitions, perhaps.  They could indicate the path she has taken to reach this moment - hundreds of pies, hundreds of competitions.  Striving ever onward for the perfect pie, never giving up because she always had that goal in mind, that vision of the pie to beat all pies ;D

She could also be our role model: work hard, keep your goal in sight, imagine a perfect future, and it could all be yours!

Other than the notion of entering a zen state of mind as we focus on a particular goal - staying in the now as we swing that axe at the best possible angle to decapitate a zombie, or get the crimp on the pie edge just so - there seems very little of the spiritual, of following a higher calling, in either of these cards.  And yet, if we can find the sublime within the mundane (or in this case the ridiculous), what an achievement...

Whose example would you like to follow?  What can you do today to move a step closer to your goal?  How can you stay present with whatever you need to get done?