Justinian Trees in Byzantium

I’m already missing my decks. Scrounging around for a deck this morning I had a poignant moment of missing them. For my trip and subsequent stay in a motel while searching for a home, I was going to take a mini deck, but it wasn’t thrilling me. While browsing about I saw the Byzantine Tarot again and decided to buy it for a good, old study of history while I’m in limbo. You can always count on John Matthews for a good read and study of history.


I was a bit surprised that the art was by Cilla Conway; it is so different from the Intuitive Tarot but she really nailed the style, and that was part of buying it as well. So, that’s me sorted for deck study on my new adventure in life. I shall be Sailing to Byzantium with Mr. Yeats, the Emperor Justinian, and John and Cilla.



The beauty part of this is to surround yourself with beauty, take care of yourself and your home, and also see the beauty within. I was reflecting on that yesterday, because after getting this house tidied and fixed up, looking beautiful, I realized that I should have done it years ago. If you actually see beauty around you, you reflect that, so take care of what you surround yourself with.

The first thing I thought of is with this card, was how soon Spring comes out on the west coast. Cherry trees are blossoming while we still shovel snow here in Ontario, so I felt that anticipation when viewing this card, because I’ll be out there to see those blossoms this year.

Is there anything to beat running under the cherry blossoms in the first green grass of Spring? No, unless it’s poetry.


Sailing to Byzantium
by W. B. Yeats

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


Database Mystics, Poets, and Darn Fine Artists

I notice that Penelope Cline has published her first full tarot deck, the Liminal Tarot, which reminded me of the one deck of hers I own.

That sort of expensive deck is well out of my price range these days but I bought her first deck The Mystic Rubaiyat, and because of the currency exchange and extra tax and administration fees when it came into Canada, it cost me $180 CAD. I used money from a settlement at my old job to pay for it, as it’s not the sort of thing I could afford regularly. I went through hell at that job, I figured I would get something tangible and uplifting from it.

I believe she still has copies of it available. For me, this is the epitome of her watercolour style and approach to art and literature. As she has mentioned on forums, some of these cards are very tarot-like, or at least like some of the Majors.

I wanted to get her Wild Green Chagallian Tarot which is a Majors-only deck and her Pen Tarot but could never afford them. However, Penelope did point me to a good biography of Chagall which I ordered in from the library and greatly enjoyed. I never really got Chagall until I saw Penelope’s deck and read the biography by Jackie Wullschlager.

It’s always worth talking to the artist and exploring, even if you can’t buy their deck!


“The Mystic Rubaiyat is a set of seventy-five cards created to illustrate the first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s “translation” into English of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, part of a collection of four-line verses that survive from eleventh-century Persia.

The words of the appropriate quatrain appear below every illustration and in each of the decorated doorways, providing for a two-fold key to meditation.”


Apart from Penelope’s artwork, I bought this because my favourite Uncle used to recite passages from this particular Fitzgerald translation. I have copy 2/100 which rather astounds me as I’m generally not in on trends at the beginning, nor do I have money to buy limited editions, but I had that money from the job from hell and I used it wisely. The pleasant reverberations from this deck after a horrible few years are what I remember, and that’s as it should be.

This comes in presentation box with ribbon and a 17-page booklet and was released in 2007. I assume I bought it in that year; I remember writing my Uncle and telling him about the deck and he died early in 2009, so I just got it in time. It’s one of the finest things I own, simply because the artist has her own way and interests and they shine in her decks.

I’ve used it here if you want to see more cards.

Pleasant reverberations; the hand of the artist; the intellect and knowledge of the artist; shimmering colour and light; words and poetry. FINE, very fine.



Splinters of Singing



The Axolotl is endangered because of urbanization and pollution of the lakes around Mexico City where they are found. They are an amphibian related to salamanders but they don’t develop lungs to live on land and are aquatic and gilled. I love drawing reptiles and amphibians, I must have a go at this guy one day.

They have these amazingly human faces as you can see in Megan’s drawing, like a splinter of human singing. They are apparently regenerative so a reminder to regenerate when we are in less than perfect circumstances or dealing with difficult people.

I overdid it making my new art journal Fauxdori, which I call Japonica, but it’s done now and my daffodils are blooming so I want to go out and draw them. For me, that’s the regeneration, using something I have made and not letting it sit unused.

My husband has been out for days in the garden enjoying himself and I have been inside, feeling sick. So I must get out today! I took my art paper and made these little booklets for my Fauxdori to draw in, they look so pretty, as if all the fun of life awaits me.


If I would only GO outside. It’s a struggle for me, but Axolotl reminds me to thrash through the obstacles and breathe, open my gills up.

Japonica awaits……….








The Elk and Otherwise



Nobility and stability, the strength of the Elk and the strength of home, creating a strong home yourself.

I only copied the last stanza because I sleep in a bed in a room with many paintings on the wall. It’s one of the strengths of my home, I finally got myself surrounded by art.

The poem is called Otherwise and is about loving what you do and your life and home in the moment, because one day it will be otherwise, the days will change or you will change or otherwise.

The Elk looks up and out, enjoying the way it is now, his strength.




A Knight, Reflective on Milestones

I had originally decided to use this deck with random poetry to practice calligraphy with an inexpensive Pilot Parallel pen, but I am still waiting for the pen to come. Enter Photoshop, the poet’s friend in time of need.

This is a random pick of a really lovely poem by Stanley Kunitz. Oh Stanley, we miss you.

KNIGHT OF WANDS – Komodo Dragon


The Knight is about fire and energy and enthusiasm. Here he is gathering strength to proceed on his journey, having lost his tribe, he becomes reflective.

Komodo Dragons are a bit scary, being large, they look rather ponderous and slow but take off like lightning to kill things. The tail whipping back and forth, holding its bone, the tongue a scavenger angel.

Reflective today, holding that energy within.

Tri-Sacred Blades Come ‘Round Again

I’ve picked these three cards before, and here they are again. I keep dreaming about cats since dear Mr. Stitch died in December, and last night I had a dream about cuddling my favourite cat of all time, Mr. Tweed.

Mr. Aloysius Tweed, also known as Ginger Ted; Tweedie; Tweeter, Beeter Beeps; The Beepers; Beeps; Constable Tweed of the Investigation Squad; died at the age of 18 from old age and diabetes in 2000. He did not have an easy death, as with most people and animals. In the dream he was young and I was picking him up from boarding at someone’s house while I was away, and I had him in a blanket and we were cuddling. I was walking around and he sat in my arms, quite placid, and not wanting to jump down.

Always remember:

The Investigation Squad
Is on the move,
On the job!

So I thought I’d do a Tri-Sacred draw to see what was up with the cats in dreams situation.

3 BLADES (3 of Swords)


The Tarot of the Absurd always reminds me of taking flight and being anchored, but if you notice, the blades are cutting, perhaps painful but perhaps also a release so flight can take place.

The Diary of a Broken Soul card seems rather ominous, she is cutting herself, which is often a release for people amid their emotional pain. There is also the suggestion that the pain might be created by you, and worse than the reality truly is. We can get mired in these patterns of degrading ourselves and thinking of ourselves as worthless and deserving of being outcast.

The Ironwing card…I find myself drawn to the window today, reminding me of old attics of memories where you might be trapped looking out through cracked windows at the rain; like a ghost, you haunt the attic of memory. Lorena refers to the trident as having “double-bladed words of truth” which echoes the idea of words making things difficult when situations aren’t as bad as you think.

As you age, memories often do crop up, it’s very hard to pull yourself away from the attic window some days amid new changes and people, music, everything new in the world. You can have a pleasant visit but then get locked in that attic.

I think for me, all the cats I have lived with remind me of youth and cheerier times, or at least healthier times, when we gardened a lot and life was ahead of us and our cats kept us company. We were all young together, so it is perhaps about cats but also perhaps about being young, letting that go.

I discovered a poet I hadn’t known about named William Stafford, an American who died in 1993. He writes poems about nature and small moments, the every day moments. I have ordered an anthology of his work from the library. I don’t have the money to buy books now, so the library comes in handy. While browsing him online I saw a poem that reverberated with me. It seemed to go well with my insomnia and dreams.

by William Stafford

Even in the cave of the night when you
wake and are free and lonely,
neglected by others, discarded, loved only
by what doesn’t matter–even in that
big room no one can see,
you push with your eyes till forever
comes in its twisted figure eight
and lies down in your head.

You think water in the river;
you think slower than the tide in
the grain of the wood; you become
a secret storehouse that saves the country,
so open and foolish and empty.

You look over all that the darkness
ripples across. More than has ever
been found comforts you. You open your
eyes in a vault that unlocks as fast
and as far as your thought can run.
A great snug wall goes around everything,
has always been there, will always
remain. It is a good world to be
lost in. It comforts you. It is
all right. And you sleep.

Push with your eyes till forever comes.

A Knightly Cento



Whisper has been inspired by his friend Bobby to write a cento. It took him a bit of time to fix the mechanism, to create his poem, his collage of magical words. He now has that toy tuned up and bouncing the possibilities, arms wide to the enchantment of moving the words of the world around and around.

With knightly energy of purpose, he stirs the ocean of still water.


(Many thanks to Bobby for her inspiration.)


In youth my mind was just a mirror
of children dead a century before
in the days before my own life had begun,
An apple which has not begun to mellow; the ratio
For me, always, there will be this earth: tiny.

As when silt drifts and sifts down through muddy pond-water
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
But now, sleeper, the neighbours and the parade are over
My blood burns and burns.
No one walks down to the water today.

Judith A. Johnston




In youth my mind was just a mirror (Edgar Lee Masters – “Ernest Hyde”)
of children dead a century before (Eric Ormsby “Old Photographs of Children”)
in the days before my own life had begun, (Galway Kinnell – “The Last River”)
An apple which has not begun to mellow; the ratio (Marianne Moore – “An Ardent Platonist”)
For me, always, there will be this earth: tiny. (Czeslaw Milosz – “Songs of Adrian Zielínski)
As when silt drifts and sifts down through muddy pond-water (Theodore Roethke – “Meditations of an Old Woman”)
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. (Wendell Berry – “The Peace of Wild Things”)
But now, sleeper, the neighbours and the parade are over (P.K. Page – “The Sleeper”)
My blood burns and burns. (Al Purdy – “Still Life in a Tent”)
No one walks down to the water today. (Sue Sinclair – “A View of Bell Island, October 2001”)