Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Fool Times Four

Today I’m starting a new feature on Tarot Notes in which I share four versions of a particular Major Arcana card, and write a poem that takes us through all four versions. I hope you enjoy!

To simplify the process for myself, I am going to go in alphabetic order by deck. In this post, representing The Fool, we have the Ancestral Path Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts (US Games); Tarot of the Animal Lords by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo); The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke, illustrated by Ola Liola (Cico Books); and The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing).

The Fool
by Zanna Starr

Ancestral Path Tarot (US Games)

Who will read the cards for me
On this sweet September day?
The psychic one,
The caring one
The one who starts with Nothing
And searches for Everything.

Animal Lords Tarot (Lo Scarabeo)

Will she, like the Badger,
Set out on a journey with me?
Leading the way? Following?
Quiet yet fierce.
Always digging…

Animal Wisdom Tarot (Cico Books)

Or will she, like the Coyote,
Trick me into straying too close
To the edge,
And in doing so,
Show me courage and wisdom?

Animal-Wise Tarot (Dragonhawk Publishing)

Wisdom or Folly?
Or a peculiar, clever, deceptive
Blend of both?

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Tarot Deck In Search of a Publisher!

Today on Tarot Notes, it is my pleasure to introduce and interview Kerri Shawn McIntire, creator of the currently-under-construction CemeTarot© (_Witch Hazel Press_).

This deck is a magical blend of graveyard imagery (featuring photographs taken by Kerri) and plant symbolism featuring pressed botanic material. Colors, graveyard images, and plants are carefully chosen to correspond to the Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, and Court Cards of the Tarot.

Kerri is currently finishing up the CemeTarot© cards and writing a guidebook to accompany the deck. At this time, she is actively seeking a publisher.

The name of this deck is pronounced like “cemetery” (only it’s “CemeTarot”) – a clever way to refer to the central images on the cards, which are photographs of graveyard monuments and imagery.

Kerri writes on the _Witch Hazel Press_ web site: “My interest in cemeteries began when I was a young child. I grew up in rural southern Indiana and my mother, who was a bit of a local historian herself, would take me to graveyards to find the headstones of the people she was researching.”

I love the concept and execution of this deck, and I can readily identify with Kerri’s interest in graveyard monuments. While doing research on Chicago history for two books I wrote (_It Happened in Chicago and Chicago Curiosities_ by Scotti Cohn), I encountered many fascinating monuments. One of my favorites images is “Eternal Silence,” a sculpture by Lorado Taft that stands in _Graceland Cemetery_ on North Clark Street.

But enough about me! Let’s find out more about Kerri S. McIntire and The CemeTarot©!

Tarot Notes (TN): Welcome to Tarot Notes, Kerri! Can you tell us a little about your experience with the deck of 78 cards we call Tarot?

Kerri S. McIntire (KSM): I have been working with Tarot cards for more than 25 years now, and am most familiar with the imagery/meanings of the Rider-Waite-Smith and Crowley-Harris decks. I based most of my CemeTarot compositions on these classic Golden Dawn / Thoth Tarots.

TN: What made you decide to incorporate both plant symbolism and graveyard imagery in your deck?

KSM: The choice to surround the graveyard pictures with pressed botanics - insect wings, flowers, and leaves - was made both to enhance the meaning and the design of the cards.

TN: Can you give an example of how the plant symbolism and graveyard images work together to express the energy of a specific Tarot card or cards?

KSM: One of my favorite integrations of plant meaning with the cemetery image is from the LOVERS. Here, the pressed orchids and roses that wreath the image of two clasped hands not only mean "love", but the blend of white and red roses says "unity" in the language of flowers. I also used astrology to choose the right plants for the cards. The EMPEROR is bordered by holly and thistle, plants that are, like the Emperor himself, ruled by Mars and Fire.

TN: As you worked on the deck, did you find any particular card to be especially challenging or especially rewarding?

KSM: The thing I actually did find most challenging was attaining the materials I wanted. I had to knock on the doors of total strangers to ask if I could take flowers from their gardens. To get the hawthorn leaves for the STAR card, I had to ask a very nice lady I met on the internet to mail them to me. I also got moth wings through the mail from my mother. Although the photographs on the cards are all my own, the surrounding borders truly took a village!

The cards that I found most rewarding to create featured gravestone shots that echoed the traditional pictures in a unique way. A good example of this is the Eight of Wands. The RWS image depicts eight staves flying through the air. My corresponding card has the Jewish symbol of the Cohanim Hands, in which the eight fingers are extended straight out.

Another RWS example is the Nine of Swords, where a distraught figure sits up, head in hands. The statue in my card is an almost perfect reflection of that despair. You would think the challenge would be to find upbeat imagery in a cemetery, but I found rainbows, suns, flowers, and epitaphs that all conveyed very positive messages.

TN: When do you anticipate that the deck will be available for purchase? 

KSM: I'm not sure when the deck will be available for sale. I'm hoping interviews in such wonderful blogs as Tarot Notes will help me find a publisher : ) If any readers like what they see on my website, I hope they will pass along the link - you never know who might end up seeing it!

To see more pictures of these wonderful cards, 
visit the _Witch Hazel Press_ web site!

Monday, September 8, 2014

5W's and an H: TEN OF MIRRORS

I think it’s time once again for 5W’s and an H!

To refresh your memory: For the 5W's and an H exercise, we use one Tarot card to answer the questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? As an additional requirement, each answer can be only one phrase or sentence. The idea is to respond intuitively, without a lot of description or explanation.

Today's edition of 5W's and an H features the Chrysalis Tarot by Toney Brooks with paintings by Holly Sierra (US Games Systems).

Chrysalis Tarot (US Games Inc.)
5W's and an H: TEN OF MIRRORS (Peace)
“The rainbow dove of peace ferries ten pretty mirrors 
that represent an emerging new cycle for you, 
as well as emotional fulfillment in the present cycle.”

Who? Someone who fulfills you emotionally

What? An emotionally satisfying situation that feels like a peak experience

When? When you have reached a pinnacle of emotional satisfaction

Where? Deep in your heart

Why? Because life is at its most fulfilling when we are emotionally engaged with it

How? By building on emotional ties and engagements to create a pinnacle of fulfillment

Monday, August 25, 2014

Convening the Ancestral Council

It is six o’clock in the morning. I am normally not up at this hour, but various things disrupted my sleep all night long, and today I have no desire to stay in bed any later. I think this is the perfect time to take the Chrysalis Tarot in hand and “convene an ancestral council.”

(To read more about this spread, click HERE. To read my review of this deck, click HERE.)

To configure the council, I pull the following cards from the deck:

1. Storyteller (The Grandmother)
2. Four of Spirals (A Luna Gathering)
3. Six of Mirrors (The Fairy Folk)
4. Eight of Spirals (Lord of the Forest and Ancestors)
5. The Mime (Hushed Memories)
6. The Muse (Queen of Heaven and Mother of Good Counsel)

With Storyteller (The Hermit) as the centerpiece, I surround her with the other five cards (face up) in a clockwise, circular pattern using the order above.

I silence and center my mind, then draw five additional cards and place them beside council cards in the order I drew them. What I hope to glean from a council ritual reading:

1. Synchronicity inspired by ancestors
2. Repressed memories in need of healing
3. Deeper understanding of myself and my kinship with the Otherworld

For the interpretation of this reading, in some cases, I am choosing to include direct quotations from the Chrysalis Tarot booklet written by Toney Brooks. These quotations are, as one might expect, placed in quotation marks.

The Storyteller (Wisdom, Contemplation) calls the Council together, her sacred healing orb glowing in her hands. “The time is favorable for quiet solitude.”

Four of Spirals (Solitude)
TEN OF SPIRALS (Crossroads)

In Solitude I contemplate a Crossroads within myself – a point, a place, a time when I need to make a life-changing choice. Will I continue to allow “bound up bundles of negative energy” to burden me, or will I “lighten my load” and “choose the high road”? The message is clear: “Don’t play the blame game; put the past behind you and don’t look back.” In Solitude, I am thinking on this. (It is no coincidence that the Ten of Spirals depicts a centaur, the symbol of my Sun Sign, Sagittarius…)

Six of Mirrors (Memories)
LOVERS (Unity, Oneness)

An Irish Sidhe, or nature spirit – perhaps an ancestor of mine -- plays a bewitching tune on the pipes as I stand among fragrant, colorful flowers, gazing at six reflecting pools. The six “mirrors” show me memories from different time periods:  childhood, teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties… The music becomes discordant at times, at times joyful, at times maudlin. If I am still and patient and loving toward myself, soon the creatures of the forest will gather around, encouraging me, helping me reconcile inner conflicts, celebrating the harmony and unity that can exist as my memories flow together into one large pool that is Me. And the Irish Sidhe begins a new tune to which I may dance as I move forward on my life journey. (As I understand it, many of my ancestors were, indeed, Irish, although whether they were Sidhe or not isn’t clear…)

Eight of Spirals (Answers)
THE PILGRIM / PAGE OF SCROLLS (Perseverance, Endurance)

Of the Eight of Spirals, Toney Brooks writes:

“In working with ancestral subtle energy and the Ancestral Council, we seek to cultivate a "heaven to earth" resonance that, to a degree, already exists between you and your ancestors. Whatever that degree actually is depends upon you and your receptivity. And whatever that may be, this ritual is designed to increase its resonance.

"This resonance is best symbolized by the energy of the Eight of Spirals, Lord of the Ancestors. (The magnificent sika red stag originated in the dense forests of central Asia. He is the ancestor of all deer, including the elk.) As his image (top) suggests, the product of this resonance isn't sound, it's fleeting synchronicity. Like deer in dense forests, most synchronicity zooms by unnoticed. When observed, it is magical inspiration is channeled through your Third Eye. This is symbolized by eight shooting stars. Remember, the Otherworld's silent language is spoken with signs, symbols and memories so one has to be alert.”

The Pilgrim (Page of Scrolls) is a Troupe card. Brooks tells us: “Troupe members among the five drawn cards likely represent real people, perhaps even ancestors. When interpreting your reading, don't forget to give consideration to Troupe Spirit Animals.”

A Hunter’s Moon looms large against the night sky as I stand at the edge of a magical forest, watching a red stag leap through the dense thicket. “The Hunter’s Moon, also known as the Blood Moon, marks a time when ancestral energy from the Otherworld reaches its highest peak.” Random thoughts… peculiar dreams… instinct… intuition… shooting stars. The Pilgrim approaches, accompanied by a llama who “symbolizes inner peace that comes from waving goodbye to creature comforts and the security of home, at least for a while.” The Pilgrim’s expression is wary, uncertain. Just above and ahead of her flitters an exotic butterfly, a symbol of new life. The Pilgrim has left the castle behind to pursue this creature.

In The Pilgrim I see many of my ancestors who literally left their homes in Europe to come to the New World. They came from Ireland, England, Germany, Bohemia… at different times, in different ways, for different reasons. They certainly demonstrated The Pilgrim’s attributes – perseverance and endurance.

The Pilgrim is clothed in my favorite color, purple, a color of power, royalty, imagination, and mystery. As a messenger, she challenges me to do as my ancestors did – to travel beyond my current state, experience, and mindset – beyond what is known and comfortable and secure. This journey of “interior self-discovery” will be well worth the time, effort, and courage it requires.

Page of Spirals / The Mime (Incisive, Magical)
THE ARTISTE / Queen of Stones (Spiritual, Magnetic)

Two Troupe cards come together as The Mime meets The Artiste. Yet, placed side by side, the figures on these two cards do not really “come together,” do they? The Mime gazes outward at me, her ram by her side. The Artiste focuses on the painting she is creating as a butterfly watches. Butterflies appear in the upper right corners of both cards, reminding me of the message I received from The Pilgrim.

“Like a ram, [The Mime] batters loose the memories of past experiences and returns them to mindfulness. The Mime then provides support to reconcile these memories through compassionate listening and sound advice.” The Artiste “imparts prophetic wisdom” as she charts my progress “with brush strokes of wise and sensible advice.” 

I recognize The Mime as a spirit that has always been strong within me – carefree, droll, impish. Like The Pilgrim, she is a Messenger, sent by the Otherworld to soothe and support my psyche.

I also recognize The Artiste, who is “painting my path through a tranquil grove of ash trees.” Like The Artiste, I am multi-talented, although I create with words, music, and gemstones instead of paint. Known in traditional Tarot decks as the Queen of Pentacles, this card is one that I often choose as my Significator, with her connection to the sign Sagittarius and the element Earth, both of which are prominent in my birth chart.

Queen of Spirals / The Muse (Nurturing, Inspiring)

The Queen of Spirals is described in this deck as “a maternal presence or your inner voice – the stream of consciousness that knows you better than you know yourself.” Accompanied by a gentle fawn, she is said to appear “in times of difficulty or indecision.” As the Queen of the element Fire, she is also linked with my Sun Sign, Sagittarius, a Fire sign. In the upper left corner of her card, I see the face of a cat, a face that is enlarged and emboldened on the Three of Mirrors as a lion. The gentle fawn on the Queen of Spirals is echoed by the lamb in the Three of Mirrors.

The lion and the lamb “symbolize a harmonious sense of self-acceptance.” The message is clear: “Do No Harm.” If the Queen of Spirals is a “mothering” presence, the Three of Mirrors is the presence of a loving family and friends. The various elements of my inner Self can certainly be described as “family” to each other, but are they friends as well? The Three of Mirrors reminds me of the Strength card in that it depicts a lion in peaceful harmony with a gentle, nonaggressive creature (the lady/the lamb). The day when all of my inner “Selves” can enjoy each other’s company and offer mutual support is indeed a day worth celebrating.

And now the Storyteller nods to indicate that she has heard what I have confided in her. She and the other Council members have helped me draw my hidden fears, hopes, and desires up into my conscious awareness. The Storyteller lifts her crown of ferns and places it on my head to as a token of sincerity and friendship. In turn, I offer these two things to her – and to myself.