Unreadable Decks, Maybe

It’s strange about decks that are “unreadable”, I consider it a challenge to find a way to use them.

In looking at online comments about the The Lost Code of the Tarot, I am hearing a lot of stuff about cards not being identifiable and the book being a bit of a put-on, a story with no meanings for cards, and then there’s the controversy about the Kickstarter campaign for this deck and how Llewellyn released the mass market version before, which may or may not be exactly the same as the funded one.

I choose not to fund decks at Kickstarter, although I have bought decks elsewhere from artists that were originally funded on Gamecrafter or Kickstarter et al. It’s a bit like buying a house from a developer before anything has been built, which is not something I would do either.

I used to trade people for the “stinker” decks, the ones that weren’t readable. It’s fun to pull something out of chaos. Does everything have to be systematically readable to be enjoyable?

I have a good collection of cards, all listed in a visual database, so I rambled through the tarot entries and pulled a few out that I’ve had a great time with, although many are considered baffling or unreadable. It’s a random pick, subjective, and doesn’t include all the stinker oracles and weird oddities that I delight in keeping regardless of their readability.

I always feel that I should challenge myself more, find something quirky and delightful and completely unfathomable and find a way to use and delight in it. For me, the term “unreadable” conjures up a vision of a mind that can’t be bothered learning new things.


Oh my, the Giotto, Bosch, and Bruegel, the holy trinity of unreadability!! Does it get any better?

Not for me.



Ace of Pentacles/Coins Across Decks

I saw in my statistics page that someone had come to my site searching for images of the Ace of Coins. I thought to myself that this might make an excellent study.

Danger, danger, hours later after searching through dozens of decks and scanning, adjusting, rotating and labelling in Photoshop, I’m a bit punchy. When you’re in a funk, nothing helps like a bit of sorting, categorization, and organization. This was more than a bit, but hey it made for a keenly interesting day.

Dealing mostly with the Rider-Waite model (here used in the Universal Waite deck) I decided that there were three kinds of imagery with this card: the classic “hand of God” approach; the figurative approach related to the theme like in the Golden Tarot; and the pattern and shape decorated or changed similar to a pip in transformation playing cards, like in this marvelous Ace of Pentacles in the Sun and Moon.

In this study I am ignoring the figurative approach, and looking more at the other two.






I don’t see too many people using the Fradella deck but it’s one of my favourites.

















I’ve talked about that Universal Fantasy card before, it reminds me so much of an old brooch.

So that’s it, about 8 hours of work and 39 decks!



Dark Ebony and Blood in Ignoreland

Daily Draw October 9th, 2011


The darkness of the warrior and the deep, saturated, blood-like colour on his cloak and helmet are what hit me with this card. He is pondering his moves on a chessboard the night before battle.

Ebony and blood. I am out of action again after hurting myself walking with my neighbour. She kept pushing to go farther and longer, her watch in hand, beating, beating the drum, lashing the whip. After four days my knees gave out and I am hobbled again, both of them red hot like this fellow’s cloak. I knew I should have been building up slower but she’s such a nag I gave in. Last year I escaped this by going bike riding every second day, and still she would nag me.

Is that her fault or mine? Both I suppose, I should have been more assertive, but I am very, very angry that she didn’t listen to me. My husband was doing his usual whine about “Couldn’t you just do 20 minutes?” What part of “My kneecaps are snapping out and my leg is snapping out of its socket” do people not understand? The last time this happened I was laid up for four months; it took me a year to find some sort of balance and I still can’t walk up and down stairs easily and have to prop things up in bed to relieve the pain enough to sleep. So I stopped walking, I will not allow myself to be bullied into that again.

The total lack of respect burns me up like the background of this card. When I think of it I feel absolute rage that no one listens to me. And they never will, that is in part what this card is about, the death of expectations of other people. How absurd of me to expect that someone will care that I might injure myself badly. My rage and bitterness burn slowly.

My sister sent me a long article about chronic pain and one of the things they talk about is the expectation people have that they will go back to the way they were. While you can improve and pace yourself, you will never be the way you were. It’s hard to accept, like a living death on some days. But then I have my Health and the Law of Attraction cards that tell a different story.

I suppose it will have to be an inward balance, an inward story, that ignores other people. You simply can’t trust them to care or listen.

Ah, big deal, I shall knit some monsters in peapod green and azure, with embroidered aprons of silk ribbon and meandering featherstitch.

The warrior moves his pawns on the board for central control, endgame in ebony.


The High Priestess Across Decks

Daily Draw August 17th, 2011

I recently entered my name in a giveaway for a new self-published deck, but I didn’t win so I have become shy of entering these things. However, they do give me inspiration for deck exploration, and that’s how I came to ponder The High Priestess card today, someone was asking people to enter the giveaway by talking about their favourite High Priestess card.

I rarely draw this card and the idea of spooky intuition or prescience doesn’t fit me so I rarely pay attention. I become uncomfortable when I’m reading cards and a knowing comes upon me, it seems too personal. I suppose most of us are pleased that we tune in, but it makes me uncomfortable.

So the old HP is someone I avoid. I avoid thinking about her qualities, I avoid tuning it to other people. Too close, too close.

While browsing through my collection I came upon a few HP cards that I like or studied. Some I thought “Wow, I don’t remember that one.”

I was going to save this for last but feel it fair to weed out the skimmers-of-blogs by telling you right away what my favourite HP is, or as close as I get to designating a favourite: the one from the Arthurian Tarot, the first edition with the gorgeous black borders, the Hallowquest Lady of the Lake.

The next set is very artsy I think. I often wonder why people insist that the Osho Zen deck is not tarot. It is one of my favourite decks, particularly when it comes to people or relationship matters. I think it sings and has terrific artwork, and I can’t see what all the fuss is about. Tarot is tarot, regardless of how you view themes or Osho himself.

These two are quite different. Nigel Jackson brings his own flavour to a conventional HP, but there is something about it or about the colours that makes it one of the better ones. The Via Tarot is always different and interesting.

Two of my favourites. If only U.S. Games still published interesting things like the Phantasmagoric deck, or like the Circle of Life by Lo Scarabeo. This is a good example of why I usually love Lo Scarabeo decks, they have such different takes on the archetypes and really good artwork.

The Silenus Tarot depicts the Oracle of Delphi, and the others are artsy. That Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA is a special deck because of its intense originality, poetry, and writing.

Like many others, I was immediately taken with The Seer from the Wildwood Tarot because of its fantastic art and concept. The Rumi has a great quote that is perfect for this card: “Mysteries are not communicable save to those who know.”

The Vacchetta has the classic look but I love the line art, and this is my own deck that I printed in olive green from one in the public domain. The Stella’s card is simply luscious in blue. I had a good study with this one.

The last set is just because they are neat in art and composition. I like them.

I find it hard to pin down one favourite either in a specific card or a deck. They are almost all interesting to me and have been favourites at some time. For me, if you have one true favourite it seems to exclude other possibilities, so I never really think of decks like that.

The Two-Way Guardian and Shield

Daily Draw August 31st, 2010

From the Etruscan Tarot:


It looks like the type of day to guard against something. Protection, awareness of danger or deviousness under a pretty facade.

The Knight seems to be guarding growth rather than material goods, so perhaps he is guarding my peace of mind? I’ve got a new book I am racing through and enjoying, I’m enjoying relaxing on my holiday, so a caution to leave other people’s dramas and subterfuge out of my life.

Shields up. Shields can protect, but also hide underlying deceit–works both ways. Maybe a reminder that I too might be hiding something, like a motive that isn’t positive.

The Fool Dances to Herbie Hancock

Daily Draw May 28th, 2010

Does Herbie Hancock write anything bad? This is one of my favourites and until recently didn’t realize it was his composition, as there are so many covers of it. The one I like is by Howard Johnson and Gravity on an album with Taj Mahal. Of course, You Tube doesn’t have a recording of that, but the link is to the original by Herbie.

I have been browsing decks again. The Gaian Tarot appeals to me in some ways although I’m not a big fan of photo-realism in artwork. She’s got that Death card with the heron skeleton and it would be worth buying the mass market edition of the deck for that. However her sappy approach does not pass for literature or insight into the earth or human thought. I believe that for the mass market edition you can bypass her book and just get the deck, which would be ideal.

I was thinking that I could pair my lovely Nature’s Pharmacy deck and its antique botanical illustrations with this. The Gaian deck needs something related to natural history and learning to bring it down to earth and away from cringe-inducing vacuity. I could use a suitable book (not one written by ANY tarot author) or I could use card decks.

Well, I’ll have a think on it. I’ll have a look for a book with good text and pictures. Preferably a used gem that no one wants, but I can explore archetype and Earth with. I have one here called Great Natural History Books and Their Creators by Ray Desmond but it isn’t written well, yet is a neat tie-in for the Gaian. I’m looking for something like that: history and art and natural history. I might use that anyway, but I’ll see if I can scrounge something else up in the next year, perhaps something more varied. Ooh, how about Treasures of the Natural History Museum? Now that would work well, although it’s expensive.

A card for today–has to be quick. I must get back to my revolving book studies and decks but I’m in a rush these days.


I guess I’ve been told. This guy is dancing for himself. Alone, without music.

I don’t think Fools really think about comparison with others, they just are the way they are. They don’t like comparisons because it sets up a “me against them” attitude that escalates into pride and self-righteousness. No, this guy gives everybody a wave and carries on dancing, more focused on the birds and what their nesting habits might be.

Sometimes opinions are not personal, people simply want to dance their own way.

Wrestle ‘Til You Get It Right

Daily Draw May 20th, 2010

Off to the land of the trusty Etruscans.


The wrestling dudes today, why do I always get them? For some reason I feel that this is me fighting myself. I know it’s silly, but I wasted a lot of fabric trying to cut a pattern to be centred on a purse I am sewing and it still isn’t right, so I have to cut it yet again. The large pattern repeat isn’t really suitable but I want to use it and that’s that. Wrestle, wrestle, and the more I have to wrestle with it, the less enticing the project.

I shall wrestle on without panic and not give in or be defeated by the challenge. Plus I’ll get a nice purse with another embroidered “J” on it. Can’t beat that.

The only thing that beats that is Photoshop Shapes.