Database Regina

I have been forgetting to do Database Monday for the simple reason that I can’t remember which day is which.

One of my favourite decks is the Victoria Regina Tarot created by Sarah Ovenall in 2002 and published by Llewellyn, it is collaged from old illustrations and clip art. She co-write the book with Georg Patterson, which is excellent. Ooooh, and she’s got fountain pens in there. I have always liked reading non-fiction about the history of the British royal family so immediately got this when it was published.


At the time, Sarah had a note on her web site showing how she’d embellished the velvet bag included with the deck, and invited people to send pictures of how they embellished their bags. A woman I was selling tarot bags through did one and wanted me to do one too so I did.

I remember sewing this during the last day of my first dog, my first Labrador Retriever Winnie. She had cancer and the tumour was interfering with her breathing, so I brought her down to the cool basement so she could breathe better but she couldn’t walk so I had to carry her. Poor old soul had to be euthanized the next day, but I sat with her and sewed this at my drafting table; it’s a special memory of a lovely friend.

I used silks, silk ribbon, plaids, white cotton lace and a small tartan Scottie dog button on this to reflect Balmoral, the castle in Scotland that the royal family purchased in the mid 19th century. When I sent it to Sarah she never replied, acknowledged me, or put the picture up. I sent it again thinking that it might have ended up as spam. Nothing. Yet, she put my compatriot’s picture up right away. I guess I wasn’t famous enough, not a tarot bigwig or anything. It’s not enough to contribute, to spend hours on something, to care and have initiative with some people, you must be a famous name. Who knows? I gave up trying to figure people out around 2008. (Click to enlarge.)


This was my favourite draw with this deck, one for which I felt compelled to write a poem.

You see, it doesn’t matter if people pay attention to you or acknowledge you, you can still create and enjoy your cards. I have a small sub-genre of black and white decks in my collection that I love. I also have some of the Dover clip art Sarah used in this deck, including some fountain pens which I just used in some stationery I made myself.

It’s all so interesting. It was this book that taught me that Princess Louise (Princess of Wands) was an artist and sculptor, and came to Canada when her husband was the Governor General here from 1878 to 1883. Victoria had so many children, I often found it hard to differentiate them, but lovely Louise the artist, I remember because of this deck. I also remember Bertie, riding gaily on the Six of Wands with a fountain pen in hand, and dogged, old-fashioned Georgie, Bertie’s son, on the Prince of Coins writing sappy letters to his darling Motherdear ad infinitum.

One of the first writing exercises I devised with my cards was what I call “Random Passages”, wherein I pick a random passage from a book and a random tarot card and write with it. Way back on February 28, 2003 I did this as a suggestion to others on how they could use their decks instead of merely acquiring them and packing them away in storage boxes. It was not a popular attitude at the time, many people assuming it was a frivolous time-waster and they were too busy, busy, busy, but with the advent of blogging I have seen others come around to my view that useful writing exercises are interesting with cards.


My random passage for this one was from a short story by Connie Willis called The Father of the Bride.

“I should be happy. Everyone tells me so: my wife, my daughter, my brave new son-in-law. This is the happily ever after for which we have waited all these long years. But I fear we have waited for too long, and now it is too late to be happy.”

I randomly pulled The Empress and this is what she had to say about it:

“Too late?” says The Empress with a skeptical look on her face. Indignantly she puts her hand on her hip to let you know how silly it is for you to say this, She smiles, and all the languorous smiles of lovers entwined in jungle rhythms, the heat, the fecundity of it assails you. Her feminine voice with laughter and love surrounds you and she sings, slowly stirring the green air:

“The world grows, leafy palms develop, grass greens, the bark shags off trees, my breasts suckle and tantalize, my hips beckon you, I create stars. We are crowned and enveloped by life and growth, the green of opportunity, the moldering bacteria I stand upon feeds the ripeness of creation.”

She is silent a moment while the cadence of her last notes can be felt in the plants around you, the skin of your body, your eyes vibrating, seeing what she sees. “We live green, it is never too late” she says touching your cheek, and the fields call you with meadow sweetness, and you hear the sound of water, ever circulating, ever moving, ever nourishing you.

A good deck, and this is more than a good deck, is forever.





6 thoughts on “Database Regina

  1. I can’t believe I gave this deck away to someone (not sold or traded). What was I thinking?!
    I’ve had similar experiences as you (sharing the photo of your lovely bag); more often they have happened when I share on forums where I am not a “big wig” and what I shared was ignored. I suppose it is a good ego-deflating device for me. 🙂 But it is different when someone asks for then receives as in your case. The sting would be much deeper.
    While I’ve enjoyed your blogs for some time now, I must say I had no idea your were such a word wizard. What wonderful writing you added to the prompts of the book quote and tarot card (and an ingenious way to get some creative writing in). 🙂

    • Gosh Bev, I guess you weren’t into royalty at the time but I can’t believe you gave it away either. Or maybe it was the black and white that put you off? I’ve always collected Dover clip art and have discs and discs of the stuff. I also like etching and illustration in general so this deck was a must-have for me apart from the Royalty angle.

      Well, there’s ego-deflating and then there’s just plain rudeness. I don’t think it really hurt me because I got the satisfaction of a lovely handmade bag insert after all, but it completely baffled me, particularly since she put the other lady’s up at the same time.

      Anyway, I put the effort in for myself as it was so enjoyable. That’s the key here, the lesson learned.

      I’ve been writing since I was young, both essays and poetry, it’s just something I like to do, an expression I enjoy. Over the years I’ve done pages and pages of creative writing and exploration with cards. It’s a fine thing in life to discover a way of unlocking creativity.

  2. I last used this deck to read for my brother, who was considering whether to stick with his job or pursue an offer with a bigwig in his field named Albert. The “what to do” cards came up–Albert! and Albert again. Well ha. Almost all the dudes in this deck are called Albert.

    I love a lot about it, but what most strikes me is that she did real “cut and paste,” with fine scissors and sticky paste.

    • Real cut and paste, just like Arnell Ando and her Transformational Tarot, and Ed Buryn and the William Blake Tarot–all done by hand.

      That is neat about Albert. It’s a big name for the royals, probably because Victoria’s Albert died way too young and he was so gifted, so curious. I’ve always admired him, his intellect.

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