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.



Choices in Equilibrium

Daily Draw April 6th, 2010

From The Grail Tarot


The Knight has two choices, he can help a lady who is in trouble off in one direction, or he can help a fellow knight who is being attacked. This comes from the story of Sir Bors, who chooses in the story to help the lady, this alienating himself from his brother knight who never understands why he was left alone.

So our knight followed the chivalric oath over duty to his friend. It’s a quandary, and points to needing equilibrium and balance in life, and how even if you achieve balance, it might be at the expense of someone else.

This refers to something that happened to me just before bed last night. Someone was raving about the wealth guru of the moment, in a forum about something totally different. The “guru” I had seen in person way back in 1982. The guru is a phony with puffy hair and pithy sayings like a televangelist, full of tired, reiterated bumph from others, purportedly to teach people how to attract wealth. He is uneducated and an unoriginal thinker. This poor soul I was talking to got self-righteous and patted herself on the back by saying that even if she got one good sentence from reading a book by him, it was worth it. In effect, by saying that, she was stating that she was willing to waste 99.8 % of her time. And she said it with strident self-justification, I could palpably feel her puffing up.

I’m definitely hanging around the wrong people again. I think you need to make that choice, it becomes very important to use your mind, not hang around people who are stupid, or blindly follow the guru of the moment.

I had a similar moment with regard to tarot people. I’ve met about 0.2% that are smart, free-thinking, able humans who have something to teach me, and it is a privilege to speak with them, but I chose not to waste 99.8% of my time with the others. The in-crowd is not so in, and by hanging around them you only numb your mind with reiterated bumph.

I went through the online library catalogue yesterday and wrote down several books to pick up, so it feels like I have a huge treat coming. As well, I am still enjoying the biography of Marc Chagall I got from the library.

Yup, I have my equilibrium back, and what I’ve lost by doing so is not important.

XXI – St. Sophia – The World

This is the final card, I’ve done all seventy-eight over the last three years, and I have learned so much.

Sophia relates to the Shekinah in Judaism and I first came across her in The Grail Tarot in that respect. She is like the divine feminine, sometimes referred to as the Bride of God, or his virgin spirit. She is a feminine aspect of God or a divine presence of the feminine aspect. It is like God dwelling or inhabiting the tabernacle or temple, like the spirit of God comes down to settle like a bird; her presence makes God more perceivable.

Perhaps before Christianity placed such an emphasis on Mary or the holy spirit, people needed that balance? In Christianity, the holy spirit is a parallel to the indwelling of God like the Shekinah. It reminds me of the avatars in the Hindu pantheon.

My other reference for Sophia is of course that magnificent church in Istanbul called the Hagia Sophia. I was first introduced to that by dear Kenneth Clark in his Civilisation series and later by John Romer in his Testament series. It was originally an Eastern Orthodox Christian church, the cathedral of ancient Constantinople, taken over by Muslims for hundreds of years, and it is now a museum so that we don’t have to fight and murder each other over it. The hushed reverence of Islam and Christianity surrounds the building.The beautiful Islamic calligraphy, raised on huge disks within the church is very haunting juxtaposed amid the Christian symbolism and mosaics. It is an unbelievably sacred place.

The Hagia Sophia was often called the Holy Wisdom church, and mystical thinking twists again into the idea of the divine logos that Robert Place often speaks of with reference to Gnosticism. Logos means “wisdom” in Greek, most commonly translated as “word,” and Jesus became logos in the flesh. Or to put it another way, Jesus is the incarnation of the word of God, or the incarnation of the divine logos that formed the Universe, a much more mysterious concept. And yes, we have years and years of disagreement on what logos is and what was really meant by it and translators and theologists wrangling over meaning. Robert Place is concentrating on Gnosticism, so we have Jesus as the literal incarnation of the word of God.

And Sophia is like a facet of that, another avatar of that. I borrow that phrase from Hinduism because it’s very apt. Avatar is a Sanskrit word meaning “descent,” as in the descent from heaven to earth of a deity. So it’s an appearance or manifestation of God, like Jesus, like Sophia.

I’m sure fundamentalists would rail against this terrible idea, but it has a long history in Christian doctrine and particularly the Eastern church and Judaism. I was interested to read that Hildegard von Bingen depicted Sophia in her artwork.

This is an old, old idea, and goes back to the very basis of Saints it seems to me: intercession or an intermediary to God. Humans do not feel safe in the terrible presence of God so he sends intermediaries, avatars, emanations, a more comfortable aspect of his divine presence for us.

In legend she is the mother of Faith, Hope and Charity, hence the symbols on the card at the bottom. She is sometimes referred to as the mother of all angels, which might explain her wings in Bingen’s illumination and her depiction as the Temperance angel in the Golden Tarot of the Tsar. In the corners of the card are the symbols of the four evangelists. These are often also associated with the four directions, the four elements, and the Four Cardinal Virtues of the Church. So, the three plus the four equals seven rungs of the ladder to the One in Place’s symbolism. Isn’t that interesting? He’s done it again, lovely, lovely artwork illustrating a very deep concept.

This is how Sophia is viewed across many belief systems: truly a concept belonging to The World. She does not yell or cause people to be killed with divine wrath, she settles down like a bird. The ultimate gnosis or enlightenment as Place says, oneness with God.

Compostela Goals

Daily Draw January 28th, 2010

I am working on something with the Diary of a Broken Soul Tarot but it isn’t finished yet. I’m working on two things actually, and have decided to open up a new Eccentric Study with the deck called Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down. I’ll have one finished this week, but I’ve posted an introductory note about that which ties in quite well with this draw and my feelings.

Today is a Grail Tarot day.


The Fool in other decks. I rarely get The Fool in draws, probably because I’m not a “Let’s grab a knapsack and go” type of person. I love spontaneity but can rarely do it physically, which is why I am so dedicated to randomness with cards and creativity. I like this picture of him gazing out, gazing at the road of the journey he will take. It reminds me very much of photographs of the Camino de Compostela de Santiago. The quest, the spiritual walk, the pilgrimage to who knows where. . .

It’s that kind of day, where I can leave my arms open to what comes. But first I have to cross the chasm, to walk across the sword that bridges from here to there. The search for higher goals is mentioned in the book–YES, higher goals from this place of beginnings.

“The Seeker cares nothing for the understanding of others and pursues a lonely, inspired path.”

I think it important that while caring nothing for the understanding of others, you can still care for them, yet face the reality of being alone in your goals.

Empress Nostalgia

Daily Draw September 10th, 2009

Here is another month slipping by me. Today I am pairing the Olympus Tarot with the Grail Tarot.


The Empress looks particularly sensual and fecund in the Olympus Tarot. She exudes power and sexuality and the creamy soft skin of youth. This is Aphrodite the goddess of love and fertility. She is also known as the mother of love, queen of laughter, mistress of the graces and pleasures and patroness of courtesans. My book of mythology refers to her mysterious girdle/belt Cestus which is a scanty garment said to be love-inspiring and beauty-enhancing, and involved in several myths. Hence her clothing on this card, lest people accuse the artist of being sexist in his depiction.

The Six of Vessels is called the Six of Cups usually, and represents nostalgia. I love the architecture on this card, as if you were looking back over years, seemingly to infinity, an idea which is also reflected in the landscape and shrubbery. The chap at the centre of the first arch in the red robes and cap looks remarkably like Dante in clothing of the same period.

Here the master is trying to speak in the marketplace about the wisdom and mysteries of the Grail, but most are too busy to listen. He is so eager to speak of the light and transformation but feels let down. What should be a high point dwindles into nothing, and that’s when humans start being nostalgic and thinking of the past and being dissatisfied with the present. The Seeker wanders in his mind, remembering past achievements instead of living in the present.

Hmmm. . . .the fecundity of The Empress can also refer to the fertility of ideas and nurturing that. I did have some ideas for older projects, particularly necklaces (I have about five in various stages of development) but I got to thinking “What’s the point?” as no one seems to be listening, and I feel my ideas dwindle into nothing, and I got to thinking about past achievements, just like the card.

The queen of laughter thinks I am silly for it. The booklet mentions “compromised thought” in relation to The Empress which is what nostalgia is in reality. The Wayback machine is always upsetting in the end I find, so I shall remember to be satisfied and eager for the fertility of the present moment.


The Hearth of the Olympian

Daily Draw August 13th, 2009

The Rumi Tarot that I bought a few weeks ago was actually a birthday present, so the last thing I need is to buy something, but I made enquiries about buying the Silenus Tarot which is based on mythology and features the comics-type art of Mike Indovina. Good old Mike. Comic artists that create card decks are very rare, and since I like both comics and cards it’s a perfect match.

I have the Olympus Tarot which I love and even the Etruscan has some mythology references, but it’s rare to find a deck with mythology or at least a full treatment of mythology–some decks limit the minors to specific stories which is not interesting to me.  (The Mythic, The Lover’s Path, and the Mitologico by Folchi.) I had the Lover’s Path but traded it, finding this procedure of limiting the minors to four stories severely limiting.

The Olympus is a terrific deck–one of my best purchases. I also have and like the Ancient Feminine Wisdom deck with its mythology references. There is one other by a fellow Jacques Theron called the Classical Mythology Deck but with shipping it’s about $50 so way out of my league financially. I tried to buy Lisa Hunt’s Fantastical Creatures deck for the world mythology in it but it seems to be unattainable for a normal price. It almost seemed to be OOP from the month it was published–weird. I tried to buy the Sol Invictus Tarot but the authors never got back to me and it’s not available in Canada, and is dreadfully expensive anyway, so that was that.

Way to be Mike!! You go guy, fill the world with mythology for those of us hungering for substance and heroes and history.

For today’s draw I am using The Grail Tarot–one of my favourites in both art and message.


The Happy Families card, and actually the only card I liked in the Lover’s Path Tarot. I took a scan of it before I traded it.

Here it takes on the mystery of reverence for the Virgin Mary and official ceremony. The Novice is preparing to become a full Knight of the Templar Order, and his new golden spurs lie beside him. Like coming of age, like a day of birth or renewal. He has his staff and his satchel of books with him. I like a guy who carries books around with him.

Security, coming home, enjoying the hearth and home. This apparently often refers to the restitution of lost things. Rest and respite. So, a good card, and I got a good book from the library yesterday–just a suspense thing but I am over half way through it so I will finish it today, just relaxing and enjoying some peace, resting and letting go.


The Grail of Health

Daily Draw March 31st, 2009

Last day of March and I’m going to the doctor for a follow-up visit, which I’m apprehensive about. Oh well, I will have to get through it.

I think I’ll draw with The Grail Tarot today. I’m reading a book called The Paper Grail by James Blaylock, which is a Fisher King story, so it seems appropriate.


I always think of this fellow as the harum-scarum knight, the guy who gets an idea and sets off without thinking, thrashing about, charging in without reflection or a plan. Let’s go fight those Saracens, let’s go on a pilgrimage, let’s go, go, go. He’s a colourful, energetic character, but a wee bit too much to take sometimes.

So, despite his desire to do good, his impetuous nature will cause setbacks because he doesn’t think first. Gee, I hope this isn’t bad for today. I expect to get in trouble for stopping some medication that made me violently ill, but I thought about it for days and felt I’d rather be well, so it wasn’t impetuousness, but a desire for good on my part.

Reasoned action is the attitude to develop for the day. Keep destructive behaviour in check–a heads-up about something that happened last night too–I must keep a tighter rein on behaviour and choices today for my health.