Earthbound Oracle Favourites

I’ve been having fun scanning cards and entering them in my database. These two are my favourites at the moment:



It’s one of those things that occurs, every card you see relates to what’s going on. I am referring to this as “my healing year” and have started my Green Man Healing Journal, and I’m wanting this to be THE year, the one where I change and recover my health.

The wounded bird reminds me of injury and pain, but it also reminds me of how it can be difficult to heal, to change. And Permanence is just IT, the permanent change, the permanent change in patterns.

The background for this is a piece of fabric I will be using for the Arthur Rackham Oracle. I am still waiting for a reference book on crazy patchwork as I want to try some different things and after three weeks it hasn’t arrived.

Permanent healing, a healing of permanence. Whatever way I turn it, that’s the message.




New Decks, and an Old One, Refreshed

I find myself with six decks that I haven’t entered in the database yet. I entered Steve’s Spirit Within Tarot and then got bogged down with Christmas. The spouse gave me the Earth Magic Oracle for Christmas, and a wonderful friend sent me the Sol Invictus Tarot which I’ve wanted since it was published. One of my favourites, Socrates, is on the Queen of Swords in this deck, therein called the Nurturer of Swords. What a great title and that is my personal card so really delighted me. I am still reading through the writing in the Minors but when I’m done I’ll be using it. The other three I’ve talked about or used but I need to focus and get some scans done and the decks entered in the database.


I also ordered the Earthbound Oracle which I’ve had on my wish list, so when it comes I’ll be entering that too in the database.

I bought myself a chrysocolla sphere for Christmas. I wanted one in a shop about 16 years ago and didn’t have the money so I saw one in December and took a chance. I’ve been doing a small painting of it in my sketch book. I just need to add some calligraphy and drop shadows to it, and I did another layer on it after this picture was taken. I spent two weeks painting up colour mixing charts for my 24-palette Winsor & Newton colours and my 17-palette Daniel Smith watercolours, so that’s another reason I was away from the blog, I really needed these charts done up so I can use them when I’m painting.


I was given the Tarot of Fire deck several years ago and used it here on the blog, but it had really distracting orange borders. Recently, I took the plunge and trimmed them off and then ordered a new corner cutter. I think it is computer-generated art, but there are some very beautiful images and it is packed with world mythology and so interesting. Before I cut the borders off I typed up a trimmed sheet to fold in the box that contained descriptions of each card so that even without the numbers and titles I would be able to tell which card was what. I think it looks gorgeous trimmed.



Since I got my iPad, I’ve been able to watch videos again, and I’ve been enjoying some of the many tarot-related videos at YouTube. I so rarely get a chance to talk about my decks as I like to do, so seeing other people talk about decks is the next best thing!

My arm is a bit sore because I’ve been drawing and sewing. Unfortunately I can’t do everything so have to pick and choose what to devote my energy to. Still, I’m finding a good balance between disciplines and projects. I want to use that Tarot of Fire on the blog since it’s all trimmed up and ready to go, so I’ll do that for a bit in the coming days.



The Spirit Within the Database

Okay all visual database geeks, I have entered the new beauty into my database. Today I am not picking a card I am merely showing a screen shot of the database all neat and tidy, my newest entry in its exact spot. There is something to be said for organization.


I decided to cancel my book order for Judy Hall’s Crystal Bible volumes 2 and 3. While looking through book 1 in a refresher browse, I found that I could not tolerate the new-age bumph. What put me over the edge was the description in the back about Crystal Forms, specifically Cathedral Quartz:

“Cathedral Quartz is a cosmic computer that contains the wisdom of the ages. It is a Light Library, holding a record of all that has occurred on earth.”

“The Light Library can be accessed by meditating with a Cathedral Quartz. It aids attunement to the universal mind, and acts as a receptor and transmitter for group thought, which is raised to a higher vibration through contact with the pure energies of the crystal. It also provides access to the Akashic Record. 

“It is believed that Cathedral Quartz makes itself known every two thousand years to aid the evolution of consciousness by raising thought to a higher vibration. Cathedral Quartz can be programmed to being about a better world.”

Quartz, forming in the earth, does in some way hold what has occurred on earth due to its own formation, but to extrapolate from that that it holds secrets and wants to aid the evolution of consciousness is pure human hooey. Every two-thousand years indeed, why not every year or every hundred years? Human fabrications are like that about time.

Cathedral Quartz just whispered to me “I was a cosmic computer in my last life, now I want to create wall murals.” I’m with you buddy.

Database in the Wilds of Woldman

I have two card decks by artist Susan Woldman, the Contemplation Cards and the Relationship Cards. She also created two other decks, the Yoga Path Cards, and the Ask Me! Cards, which are done in the same style; all of them are out-of-print. She also co-wrote and illustrated a book: The Promise Effect: How to Create a Life That Wasn’t Going to Happen Anyway that is still in-print.

“Susan Woldman is a multi media artist from New York city, finding expression through illustration, writing, painting, sculpting, woodworking and ceramics. After exhibiting her art widely, Susan discovered her passion for combining visual images with the written word. Her card decks are a product of this discovery.”

Upon looking her up online, I see she has changed her focus from exuberantly coloured art and card decks to subdued abstracts in acrylic that are just fascinating. Here are some recent works from her website:

I see her mention that she also makes jewellery. I tend to like artists who work across various disciplines because I do too. There is always something new to learn and try when you’re creative. It’s quite striking how different her art of today is from when she made the four decks. Can you see going from all those bright colours to the quietude of depth in almost monotonal abstracts in a large 48-inch square size? How interesting to discover variations in tone and texture after working in wild colour. Man, I find artists interesting.

Here are the deck boxes together.




A sample of four cards I like from the deck. This is not my favourite deck for some reason. I find it a bit same-y with the bras/tops of the women all having clouds and sky on them. It also has a focus on women in the artwork, I prefer more balanced images between genders. I didn’t find the words inspiring, but it’s a colourful deck for a card-a-day contemplation.




I liked these much better although details and decorative accents are much the same as in the other deck. The gender balance is here thank goodness. Yes Goddess worshippers, there ARE men in the world. I found the details in this deck more appealing, a little more specific and thus relatable to real life.


I find in decks where there are portraits that I don’t get as much out of them as when cards have details and objects in them. If you see a face and maybe some clothing, there it is, whereas with some scenery or objects, with more defined settings, I can pull more meaning to a card from my mind, meander around creating a story, or simply just enjoy the scene better.

I rarely use these cards but the idea of working with them as the impetus for artwork is appealing, perhaps with colour as a theme or checkerboard patterns or faces. I often want to do that with decks like this but my arm hurts lately so I’m finding it hard to draw when in pain.

I like Susan’s quirky portraiture, but I find these cards a bit simplistic, not much to grow the mind on, but their exuberance is charming and she spent some time creating them which is appealing. She is obviously an artist who gets things completed and has many ideas and just might have interesting things to say in the book she co-wrote.

Database in the Post Modern World

Collectors often have a focus or specific genre in their deck collecting. I tend to like plant and animal decks, but I also like decks with history or art history in them. One of the finest decks for a ramble through art history is the glorious PoMo Tarot – A Postmodern Deck For Navigating The Next Millennium by Brian Williams. I miss Brian’s creativity and fresh outlook, he always had such terrific ideas for decks.


It contains 78 Cards plus a paperback book in a slipcase. PoMo stands for “Post Modern” and this deck has a very modern sensibility with reference to current culture. As well, the Minor Arcana are caricatures of well-known art and sculpture throughout history.

In the book, each card has phrases and colloquialisms from different cultures and languages to explain it, as well as some quirky art and renaming of the classic suits. They are large cards with shiny lamination and a compact but interesting little book. This definitely gets applause for original thought in both art interpretation and interpretation of archetype. It’s a very unusual set and not for everybody. Of course, it’s for me!


Brian Williams is an artist I like, I like his line art and subtle colouring and backgrounds. The deck is timeless, and humorous, and still a delight 23 years after it was published in 1994. Brian died in 2002 and I feel him slipping away as the latest tarot decks get published. Don’t forget him, he was a special artist and writer with much depth and research in his writing.

This is out-of-print but if you enjoy art and art history, this is a winner and can be scrounged up in the secondary market; anyone who references my beloved Giorgio de Chirico is a winner.

What, you don’t know Giorgio? Go thee explore…

Database in the Golden World

“…fleet the time carelessly as they did in the golden world.” [Shakespeare, As You Like It]

This week while looking through one of my art history books, I came across a leopard that Kat Black had used in her collaged Golden Tarot on the High Priestess card. I have a number of books on frescoes, illuminated manuscripts, and Sienese painting and every now and then recognize snippets from this deck.  It made me want to discuss the deck.


I started the original thread for this deck on a forum under a name that I used at the time. Kat sent me a signed card when I bought the deck to thank me for that, which was nice.


I remember being incensed at the derogatory review that K. Frank Jensen wrote about this deck. He was disparaging about the pretty deck as a mere clone of the Rider-Waite, gussied up for the fans. I find many old-time tarot people can be dismissive of themed decks, not even giving them a chance. One fellow whom I e-mailed made fun of me for recommending the Pagan Cats Tarot when it was published, but it’s a good deck, and has some depth, despite the sound of the cheesy theme name. I prefer people who work with a deck for some months to do reviews.

Yes, it’s pretty but these images really pull you into the archetype, pull you into the reflection of the human condition. I laud Kat’s depth of experience and wisdom to visualize that.


I respect the deck because of the art and Kat Black’s mastery of collage is very good in comparison to other collage decks. It’s an easy technique but not easy to compose seamlessly from disparate references. She did a great job. Over time, I have come to be wary of collaged decks and prefer hand drawn illustrated decks, but this holds up for me.

Over time I can pull this deck out and feel my fondness for it, the attraction of the Medieval landscape quietly inhabits my mind. It reminds me a lot of the Grail Tarot, with artwork by Giovanni Caselli, another favourite of mine. Here are four cards that are beautifully done.


I never bought the Touchstone Tarot because Kat changed the head on a painting depicting Elizabeth I as a young girl; I couldn’t bear to look at that card as I adore the original painting. I also felt the deck was a bit same-y after the Golden Tarot, although she used artwork from a later period. Such is the subjectivity of art and deck publishing.

The Golden Tarot definitely has staying power, and I shall use it for a bit, re-familiarize myself with the deck and generally enjoy it, a personal favourite. I saw recent comments online about newer editions having glossy lamination, whereas this deck, the original publication, has matte lamination which beautifully complements the Medieval/Early Renaissance time period. Still, the fact that it’s in-print says a lot about the spirit of the deck and its author.

Good on you Kat.

Database in Medieval Blue


Guido Zibordi Marchesi illustrated the Medieval Tarot that I am discussing today, as well as the Giotto Tarot, one of my first and favourite decks, and the Bruegel Tarot which illustrates many of the Netherlandish Proverbs. The only deck of his that I don’t have is the Michelangelo Tarot.

He does beautiful architectural illustrations and models as well as paintings, and you can see how meticulous in detail and research he is by viewing his biography and a list of his various exhibits. These sites are in Italian but you can use Google Translate to get the gist of them. He is a real master of words and art, no wonder he is one of my favourite Lo Scarabeo illustrators.

For me, I look at an artist like this, and it drives me to purchase decks that an artist has spent some time researching and creating. Lo Scarabeo decks usually excel at this, I have great respect for that attitude.

What really attracted me to the deck was the blue skies and backgrounds, so reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts which are an interest of mine. Ultramarine in those days was made from lapis lazuli, and Guido Zibordi Marchesi captures that feel of the Middle Ages in these colours. This deck was published in 2007 and still holds up for me, a gem of people and colour, initiating a grand old browse through my many books about illuminated manuscripts.


The Tower card is very like castles depicted in illuminated manuscripts, particularly the castle of the Duc Jean de Berry in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry where his castle is seen on the calendar for September.


You can see more examples from the book here.

As examples, two other 15th century manuscripts that have the style and colours that perhaps inspired this deck are The Bedford Hours, made for John, Duke of Bedford, and the Bouquechardière Chronicle by Jean de Courcy, also known as Chronique de la Bouquechardière.

The descriptions for the deck are priceless:

“A medieval inspiration: The Art of Memory is one of the greatest secrets handed down by alchemists and medieval sorcerers. The later Middle Ages have a brighter aspect, marked by the rebirth of the arts, philosophy, and sciences. It is the second period that inspired Guido Zibordi to paint the Medieval Tarot. These 78 cards, in fact, recall the magnificence of the princely courts and pastimes of the courtiers, the battles of the Crusades, the solitary study of philosophers and discussions of theologians, the daily work and beliefs of the common people.

This is not, however, a commemorative or historical deck. On the contrary, the Medieval Tarot contains the spirit of Ars memorandi, a memory system passed down in the schools aimed at developing intellectual qualities and spiritual virtues. The Ars memorandi, which attributed an exemplary value to images, without a doubt traces the first Tarot decks back to its origin, a “wordless book” that taught the rules of true nobility, that of the intellect and soul.

Today like in the past, simple yet profound rules let each individual follow a path of improvement and reach the top of an invisible ladder uniting the material world with the spiritual dimension.”


One of the reasons I’ve been keen on decks for 16 years is the spiritual dimension described above, the ideal of archetype and Medieval pageantry, lush, saturated colour steeped in history, and the human world absorbing and reflecting it.

How could you resist the courtly ideal of it all?