tarot


I was initially drawn to this deck when one of the people I follow did a reading featuring the Knight of Swords (yes, that guy again) and used the Familiars deck. The suit of swords in that deck are crows and as some of you may remember, I have something of a thing regarding crows. I thought, “Oh, I have to get that one!” (Any excuse to buy another deck.) But in poking around on Amazon I came across the Crow Tarot by MJ Cullinane. It looked great, and since I didn’t have the money for both decks, I bought that one.

I can’t tell you how much I love this deck. It’s not only beautiful it just—I don’t know, feels good. In the interview I did with the deck, when I asked, “What are your limits as a deck?” it answered with the Moon, which I took to mean, “I dwell on the shadow side and illusions.” But I haven’t found that to be so. Maybe if I work with it a bit longer I will, but so far I have found it otherwise. “How can I best learn and collaborate with you?” I asked. “I will show you play and wonder, new ideas.” (Page of Cups)

As soon as I took the plastic off the deck and looked at the first card (The Fool), the crows started cawing outside. This is not such an unusual thing as I feed the local murder and they’re always about in the neighborhood. But the timing was amusing. All through my two readings they were cawing and making noise walking around on the metal roof of the art room (also known as the bird’s room from when my pet starling lived there). They don’t often do that—but I had fed them a couple of hours earlier so maybe they were saying thank you?

This is a very “jumpy” deck. I’ve started using a loose shuffle technique to give cards a chance to “jump out” of the deck while I’m asking a question. (As the saying goes, “If it falls to the floor, it comes to your door.”) With the Aquarian and the Marseille, which I’ve also used recently, that didn’t happen too often. It happens a lot with the Crow Tarot. Also, it’s not uncommon for a small group of cards to turn themselves perpendicular to the rest of the deck, as if trying to reverse themselves. If that happens, I push them back in that reversed position and keep shuffling.

My friend came over Sunday for a “craft day,” something we do on a semi-regular basis in order to encourage each other to do work on projects outside our normal range of arty stuff. (She’s a painter, I’m mostly a writer, and taking an arty break from our usual disciplines sometimes shakes things loose in the more “serious” projects.) It’s also a great excuse for kibitzing. I was showing her the Crow Tarot because it’s so beautiful. She was going through it and talking about how she wants to get a deck and do daily cards, but she was also talking about her current struggle with her painting. She wants to go in a different direction and she has a clear vision of what she wants to do, but something inside her is resisting, holding her back.

She handed the deck back to me and I was just about the put it away when The Fool jumped out and landed on the floor between us—reversed for me, upright for her. I read out the reversed meaning, assuming it was for me, but it didn’t seem to fit my current situation without stretching things. I put the card back and asked her if she wanted to do the card a day thing with this deck. She did, and shuffled the deck, eventually turning up the top card: The Fool, upright.

“…The Fool card asks that you have faith in the universe and live fearlessly. You will come through the storm. If you allow hope to replace fear, imagine the adventures you have waiting.”

“All right, already,” she said. “I get it.”

I should also note that my card of the day for yesterday was The Fool. Upright. All right, already. I get it.

I’ve been working with the Marseille tarot lately and I quite like it. I’ve been finding a lot of clarity with it. When I “interviewed” the deck it said that its strength was in helping me reconcile conflicts [Temperance] and that has proved to be the case. I used it to find clarity with what the Knight of Swords has been trying to tell me and that seems to have worked. I basically told the Knight if I hadn’t gotten the message correct, he should show up again and so far he hasn’t. Fingers crossed.

This Marseille deck came to me in a strange way. Many years ago Llewellyn publishing offered a subscription service called, “Enhancing Your Mind Body Spirit.” The basic deal was that for a low monthly fee they would send you how-to cards and spiritual chatchkes on a variety of New Age stuff. (This was back before New Age became a subject of much mockery.) What can I say? It sounded like a good idea at the time.

It wasn’t long before I realized it was a diletante’s dream: one month I’d get an essence oil and/or incense and/or a couple of rune stones (building towards a full set) and/or small crystals, et al., and some cards I could file in my special notebook on such subjects as Reiki, aroma therapy, astrology, or whatall. Some months I would get a few Llewellyn reproduction cards from the Marseille tarot.

Although I almost never used the how-to cards (they were superficial treatments at best and designed mostly, I think, to get you to buy Llewellyn books on subjects that caught your fancy), the subscription was relatively cheap and I liked the chatchkes. I also had a lot more disposable income back then, so I let the thing ride much longer than I would have otherwise. But I did reach a point where I thought it was ridiculous and was just about to cancel the membership when Llewellyn sent a notice that they weren’t making enough money on this scheme and would discontinue the service. They phrased it nicer than that, but that’s the essence. They also said members shouldn’t worry about the partial rune and tarot decks or the incomplete cards sets because they’d send out one final large chatchke shipment. When I got mine, it had a complete set of runes, a complete Marseille deck (leaving me with about one and a third sets each), a final set of how-to cards and crystals and oils and incense. I put everything away and didn’t think about it again.

Until I pulled this Marseille deck out of my tarot box recently. There was no accompanying interpretation booklet. I suspect there were cards for that but in the chaos following my mother’s stroke in 2012 and the caregiving that followed, I put them somewhere “safe.” I’ve never found them again, of course. So I downloaded this, the late Yoav Ben Dov’s “CBD Tarot de Marseille” interpretation guide.

I quite like using this guide. So maybe that’s I find this deck so soothing at the moment. That’s at least one good thing that came out of Llewellyn. I know many people are skeptical of them these days, but back in the olden, pre-internet days, they were one of the only places—besides musty old esoteric libraries or specialist/used bookstores—that you could find stuff on mysticism and the occult. The internet has brought a fundamental sea change in these studies, but I am still grateful for those life rafts Llewellyn set adrift. They let me know that I may have been seriously weird, but at least I wasn’t alone.

Yesterday, I decided to try a new deck of tarot. I had a reproduction of the Marseille deck that I’d never used and was going through it preparing to ask what they call interview questions to get to know the cards. I was shuffling them, hadn’t even asked a question yet, but one of them leapt from my hands and fell on the floor, which is always supposed to be significant. It fell sideways so it was neither upright nor reversed.

What card was it? This guy:

I stared at it, gobsmacked, then laughed. What else could I do? I picked him up and immediately opened the Marseille interpretation booklet.

Upright: “Energy and resources to advance, still looking for the right direction. Hovering above practical constraints. Determination and perseverance.”

Reversed: “Confusion, negative and inhibiting thoughts, self defeat. Sloppy use of one’s own tools may cause damage.”

I was still puzzled as to what the Knight was trying to tell me, but in the interval between then and now, I think I have a clearer picture. I went back to when he first started making his appearance, when he came up twice in the same reading, both times reversed. It occurred to me that I should perhaps always read him from the reversed position? But then I thought about the way he’d landed on the floor, sideways. As if I were at a tipping point and it could go either way.

It also occurred to me that I am at somewhat of a tipping point in my life—physically, spiritually, and in my creative life. I’ve been treading water, not really pushing myself too hard, allowing rationalization to dictate my momentum (or lack thereof) rather than just getting on with things.

So maybe Mr. Knight is telling me to get over myself and get moving.

If that’s not what he’s saying, I’m sure he’ll crop up again because I firmly believe the Universe repeats itself until you do get the message. Sometimes with slaps upside the head. And the slaps get harder the longer you refuse to listen.

I’m listening, Universe. I just hope I’m understanding.

I think this guy is having a good laugh at my expense.

If any of you read my last Musings post, you may remember this:

I used this deck quite a lot at one point in my life. Can you tell?

Fortunately, the cards don’t look as disreputable as the box. And after literally decades of using this deck, I just discovered that I had two Knights of Swords. I’m not sure what that means. I would probably have never known if they both hadn’t come up in the same reading. Reversed. And yes, I guess the day of that reading had been about being, “indiscreet, extravagant, and foolish.” I’ve been through the entire deck now and there are no other duplications and no missing cards. But I guess I’d better pay attention to that Knight, hadn’t I?

Well, I dropped the deck and because the box is in such poor shape (and I hadn’t gotten around yet to tying a ribbon around it), the cards went kablooie, most of them sliding under a heavy table with a low shelf that I can’t readily see under. Given the arthritic state of my knees, getting down on the floor to fish under there wasn’t an option. I got a stick to fish most of them out, apologizing the whole time that I meant no disrespect, and managed to push the table enough to fetch the rest of them. Then I set about the business of reordering them (again) and taking inventory. Of course, the only card still missing was the Knight of Swords.

So I poked around with the stick some more, managed to push the table some more, but wherever he’s decided to hide, he’s well hidden. I retrieved the spare Knight of Swords from the mantelpiece where I’d given it a place of honor, and apologized again, hoping neither one of them minded the current situation. Next, I shuffled the cards and asked, “What the heck is the Knight of Swords trying to tell me?”

I drew the Four of Swords: “retreat, recuperation, exile.”

Dude, I didn’t mean to exile you. I’m very sorry. Or if you just need downtime, that’s okay.

I’m sure he’ll turn up again when he’s in the mood. Or when it holds some significance or messes with my mind the most. Or maybe he won’t. I’ll just have to wait and see.

I would say to my pagan friends the same thing I would say to my friends of any religion: beware thinking your way is the One True Faith. There are many paths back to the Source, but judgement and rigidity are not amongst them.
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I’d start calling him President Cthulhu but that’s an insult to Cthulhu.
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You know, I’ve supported Nancy Pelosi all this time but mostly kept quiet because I didn’t want to fight with people, often people I liked and admired. I’m a little ashamed of that, but oh well. I knew, you see, that Pelosi is one of the canniest and most experienced politicians in Washington and I knew she was holding fire for a good reason. Last week that reason became eminently clear: she was waiting for a smoking gun. One that these cretins couldn’t wiggle out of, one that the general American public could readily understand. It may be argued that the Mueller report was a smoking gun, but even Mueller himself obfuscated and demurred so much that it wasn’t something that could be easily conveyed to the larger public. But everybody understands the kind of brutish and heavy-handed strong-arming Trump attempted with Ukraine. It was schoolyard bully stuff and illegal and immoral as hell. It’s enough to start changing minds–except for his rabid believers, of course. Trump said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and no one would hold him responsible. What he was too stupid or arrogant to realize was that when he did give Nancy Pelosi an easy-to-hold gun of her own, she would have no hesitation in pulling the trigger. Good work, Madame Speaker. I’m sorry I didn’t defend you.
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You know that overworked and ridiculous phrase in writing: “She (he) released a breath she didn’t know she was holding”? I’ve always loathed it in a work of fiction, but when the Ukraine news broke and with all the revelations that came out… I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
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I used this deck quite a lot at one point in my life. Can you tell?

Fortunately, the cards don’t look as disreputable as the box. And after literally decades of using this deck, I just discovered that I had two Knights of Swords. I’m not sure what that means. I would probably have never known if they both hadn’t come up in the same reading. Reversed. And yes, I guess the day of that reading had been about being, “indiscreet, extravagant, and foolish.” I’ve been through the entire deck now and there are no other duplications and no missing cards. But I guess I’d better pay attention to that Knight, hadn’t I?
*
I was born in the last six hours of Virgo, just seven hours shy of the Autumn Equinox (West Coast time), so I have a hella amount of Libra in my chart. I was really feeling the effects of the new moon in Libra at the end of September. I tried to use that energy well. Balance and rectification. Throwing off the shackles of old bad habits that are holding me back.
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One of the best parts of living alone is that when I’m not feeling well I can sit around and groan and not worry about driving anyone crazy with my drama queen ways.
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I was watching one of those ghost shows on TV and the house owner was talking about how a ghost threw her cat across the kitchen. And there’s the cat sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with its leg up cleaning its nether regions. He seemed very unconcerned in general. She took the ghost hunters into the bedroom to talk about what happened in there and here comes the cat to sprawl on the bed. “I ain’t afraid a no ghosts.” In fact, I kind of regard cats as a reverse ghost monitor. If they are there and not concerned they ain’t no ghost there.
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Every time I watch the science channel I wonder if the people who came up with the SciGo acronym realized how close it sounds to “psycho.”
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When the estimable Dr. Lucy Jones, eminent geologist, says that she fears climate change more than earthquakes one should really pay attention. I saw her state just that in a recent interview.
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I may have finished writing something that seemed very much like the denouement of my current novel. Only the coda left, and that’s already half written. But it’s been a couple of weeks now and I still haven’t finished it. I can’t help wondering if this resistance is a way of preventing myself from moving on. Or knowing that once I finish that coda, I’m done with this world for the foreseeable future. I can’t see writing any more Dos Lunas stories any time soon–and I’ve lived there on and off for so long (since 2000), I may be reluctant to let go.
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I’ve come to the conclusion that I like having mindless tasks to do, things that most people would never have the patience for. I suspect it’s a Virgo thing.
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Oh yeah, that probably explains a lot about the last few months. I forgot until just last week that I have summer SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Somehow I manage to forget that every freaking year.

In April 2008, around the anniversary of the death of my Aunt Maxine, I started seeing 11:11 every day when I looked up at the clock. Not every time I looked at the clock because 11:11 only comes twice a day for those of us on a 12-hour clock, but often I’d feel compelled to look at the clock at this precise time. It went on for over two weeks and became rather unsettling.

What was the Universe trying to tell me? Something significant, or just that random chance sometimes gets stuck, throwing “heads” 85 times in a row?

Then I remembered my Aunt Maxine’s birthday was November 11 and wondered if it was her saying, “Hey, I’m still around. Don’t worry so much.” This was a comforting thought and the creepiness factor went away, although the 11:11’s didn’t. I kept seeing them for weeks after.

So I did what any semi-rational human being would do in such circumstances. I googled it.

Golly. There are a universe of beliefs around the coincidence of seeing 11:11. Yeah, I still (mostly) call it a coincidence, even though my personal anecdote seems to convey meaning, because post hoc theorizing and confirmation bias and because of all the fuzzy and convoluted theorizing I read online.

For instance, there’s this guy:

Um. I did scurry to my tarot to see what card was 11. It’s Justice. I thought, “If it’s the Hanged Man I’m going to mess myself.” Because for me that relates to 9/11 and I just didn’t know if I could stand that. The Hanged Man was 12.

Mr. Fuller is right about it being more important for me to find my own answers, but I looked online for more data points.

Uri Geller has a lot to say on 11:11 but I can’t tell you all of it. I fell asleep about halfway through his article. In all fairness to Mr. Geller, this strange phenomenon happened to me on more than one article on 11:11, which doesn’t always coincide with clear and concise theorizing.

Of course, no consideration of 11:11 would be complete without this:

However, some of the folklore surrounding 11:11 is charming, like the idea that if you look up to see it your wish will come true. Or when you see it repeatedly it means that you are beginning to “awaken” spiritually, and 11:11 is the indicator that you’re on the right path. Some believe it’s a sign that your angels are listening and you should ask for their guidance.

Other beliefs are darker, like the theory that 11:11 is a portend of great earth changes or history on the brink of something momentous…Actually, I don’t want to think on that one too hard, given recent seismic events in politics. I much prefer the belief that when you see 11:11, you should stop and consider the significance and importance of the moment in which you live. Of the moment, in the moment.

But Maxie, if that was you, I love ya, babe.

Destruction_of_Leviathan
The Destruction of Leviathan by Gustave Doré

“Although we human beings have our own personal life, we are yet in large measure the representatives, the victims and promoters of a collective spirit whose years are counted in centuries. We can well think all our lives long that we are following our own noses, and may never discover that we are, for the most part, supernumeraries on the stage of the world theater. There are factors which, although we do not know them, nevertheless influence our lives, and more so if they are unconscious.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, tr. Richard and Clara Winston

There are two images for this post, besides the one above, both behind a cut at the end of this post. One is called the falling man, a photograph by Richard Drew, the other is called the hanged man. I’ve put them behind a cut because even now some people don’t like looking at images from 9/11, and this image caused some controversy when first published. There’s nothing gory about it, but it does represent the last moments of a man’s life. Some feel that’s a private moment and should never be seen. I don’t discount their feelings, but I also believe it’s something more: a testament of the horrors of that day, of terrible decisions forced on ordinary people, of their courage and grace in making those choices, no matter how desperate.

All I know is that the first time I saw the image of the falling man it resonated inside me like a struck bell—beautiful, horrible, incomprehensible. Yet deeply known. In the amazing and moving documentary, 9/11: The Falling Man, made about this picture, it’s revealed that the editors of The New York Times had a series of pictures in this sequence to choose from, but found this one most compelling. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Of course, there’s a personal horror of recognition here. One morning you go to work and something unthinkable happens to rip everything away. This picture represents the ultimate “there but for the grace of God go I” moment. But that’s not what my deeper cord of recognition was about. This man’s death was not a symbol, but there was a potent symbol in that sky. It took me a couple of days to understand it. An image from tarot came to me: the hanged man. Not in the sense of portents in the sky or any other such bull, not to minimize the power of the falling man by reducing the image to a formula. The image is its ownself, vast and powerful, but there’s also this other thing falling beside it: archetypes working themselves through the real world and through our psyches.

This phrase about the hanging man card from aeclectic.net in particular struck me: “It is as if he’s hanging between the mundane world and the spiritual world, able to see both. It is a dazzling moment, dreamlike yet crystal clear. Connections he never understood before are made, mysteries are revealed.”

Not him, you understand, but us…suspended between life and death, the sacrifice to gain knowledge, a time of trial or meditation, the moment of clarity, of not being able to see things the same again. It’s not just this man’s life, and the ending of it, but that moment of suspension and terrible clarity for the United States and the world.

That subconscious strata of images and ideas is always at play inside each of us. I’m not in any way saying those archetypes are the only reason we respond so powerfully to the image of the falling man, but I do believe they are part of the mix. Whether or not you have ever seen a tarot deck, or this particular tarot deck, this image doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It appeared in the tarot because it was part of our culture’s archetypal and intuitive heritage. Perhaps it’s an image that would resonate only in Western culture—I don’t know enough to say otherwise—but it is part of the unconscious lives of everyone who has ever lived in the West for any length of time.

And what does it ultimately say about 9/11? Maybe that archetypes are cultural snapshots—or roadmaps—of the great moments in human existence, both specific and nonspecific, grandly sweeping and intimately personal.

Each of us is composed of both conscious and unconscious associations. We need to examine ourselves closely before leaping on any bandwagon or cause or demagoguery, committing ourselves to actions and movements that rob us of our individual and essential humanity and turn us into impulsive mobs, spurred to commit atrocities in the name of some deep, unthinking leviathan swimming just beneath the waters of consciousness. (more…)

18 Dec
So I just downloaded the few pix I had on Instagram and deleted my account. Don’t need no Facebook storm troopers in my life.

19 Dec
Mom’s back in the hospital. She needed a transfusion because she’d gotten so anemic. Things were going too well, I guess. She’s getting taken care of and has good doctors. Hopefully it’s just overnight. We’ll know more by morning. Sometimes I wonder if we’re the beneficiaries or the victims of our medical establishments. Caregiving is a rollercoaster in which you’re always braced for impact.

20 Dec
Mom had her transfusion and is doing better. Later, dialysis and another transfusion. Then hopefully back to rehab. I haven’t talked to her yet this morning, but I’ve talked to the doctor and the nurse.

Some day, if I’m really lucky, I’ll write about all this.

20 Dec
Mom has pneumonia now. Still in the hospital. She had it when she was in the ICU and they gave her antibiotics but apparently no one x-rayed her lungs again. Just dealing with the wonderful world of modern medicine and very old people. Shit happens.

21 Dec
It’s so easy to blame the devil because it’s so hard to blame ourselves.

21 Dec
Predictions of Apocalypse always have the stink of the trickster gods all over them. The trickster gods are there to keep us humble.

21 Dec
Is the day over yet?

22 Dec
Life breaks you open when you least expect it, both good and ill.

26 Dec
I’m celebrating Boxing Day by working where I managed, before 9:30 a.m., to get a plastic knife stuck in the toaster.

27 Dec
Mom out of the hospital and back at rehab on Christmas Eve where her spirits and physical well being are much improved.

27 Dec
Just bought two more tarot decks with my last gift card. Blame it on @FBodStudios whose Bunnies of the Tarot Calendar http://bit.ly/VkgT6G  inspired me. I think I have about ten decks at this point, which is ironic since I don’t have time to do readings anymore. But each deck speaks to me in a different voice and I buy them as art objects as much as anything. I also buy in anticipation of another time, a time I’m in no hurry to get to, but one I know will inevitably have its season.

27 Dec
The Santa Monica mountains were a dark, dark purple and black against the sky this morning. They wore a shawl of rose and white clouds as a backdrop. Just above a slash of brilliant blue sky and above that a bubble roof of altocumulus clouds in dark rose, white, and lavender.

You are the Hanged Man

Self-sacrifice, Sacrifice, Devotion, Bound.

With the Hanged man there is often a sense of fatalism, waiting for something to happen. Or a fear of
loss from a situation, rather than gain.

The Hanged Man is perhaps the most fascinating card in the deck. It reflects the story of Odin who offered himself as a sacrifice in order to gain knowledge. Hanging from the world tree, wounded by a spear, given no bread or mead, he hung for nine days. On the last day, he saw on the ground runes that had fallen from the tree, understood their meaning, and, coming down, scooped them up for his own. All knowledge is to be found in these runes.

The Hanged Man, in similar fashion, is a card about suspension, not life or death. It signifies selflessness, sacrifice and prophecy. You make yourself vulnerable and in doing so, gain illumination. You see the world differently, with almost mystical insights.

What Tarot Card are You?
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Well, that’s true enough, I suppose.

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What’s most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.