Ennui and the 4 of Cups Across Decks

What to do when you feel…nothing? Examine the 4 of Cups in several decks, get a good look at it, eat an apple, wait for something to happen, try to muster up enthusiasm for the sixteen projects you have on-the-go, eat a strawberry, eat homemade potato and leek soup, look through a bunch of old art magazines that you bought ten years ago.

Wait. Slump in the chair, look out the window at cats passing by, go to the library, hang with insomnia for a bit, clench your teeth, read about the 14th century, read about old varieties of roses, vacuum out the fan on your laptop, clean the kitty litter, look at the wall, wonder if the guardian angel appears in the mirror of your dresser or leaps from behind the bathroom door, exiting with a graceful dance after bouncing in to perform various miracles for you.

Wait some more, do laundry and hang the clothes on the rack in the front hall, where you haven’t painted the beige wall a grey colour with a white tree yet, eat a slice of mango and contemplate re-heating jasmine tea in the microwave, sigh and look out at the little girl in the pink coat walking her dog as she skips by going downhill in front of your house and laughs.

Well, you get the drift, hence the 4 of Cups. There is a scent of self-flagellation or self-indulgence with this card. Be wary travellers in self-pity!

I have a large collection so only pulled a few decks at random. Strangely, this has rather cheered me up. Nothing like a good ramble through cards to perk me up. My favourite card (at least this time) was the one from the Infinite Tarot, a deck I don’t see used much but I like the artwork.


Natural forces have you trapped. Oh yeah, I knew it couldn’t be me (cough). Mention here is made of being fearful of death, poor diet, malnourishment, and a lot of negative self-talk. Your own thinking encourages this downfall. Improper choices in thought and deed—look there for rescue.


Here we all are turning away, closing our eyes, with our sad sack mouths, oblivious to that nice kestrel offering us a possibility. Sometimes it’s good to turn away, get a bit of rest, cure your weariness of life with a quiet spell, but not drunkenness. The danger is in never coming back to life and all the good, positive things in life.


The Experimental Tarot has a woman contemplating her ecstatic vision of life. The problem is she’s trapped in a moat. That big hand might be holding her up or holding her in place. Another dreamer with her eyes closed, drifting into a permanent state of bliss while missing the action of life. The German word graben on the card means past or to dig, dig in the past. We get our English expression “grub in the earth” from this word. Put your head in a hole in the earth, don’t ever look at what’s happening now. Oh, she’s in ecstasy, but the things she’s contemplating aren’t real. She’s floating in a moat, permanently wet, come back to reality missy.

In the Scapini deck it’s like all the visions are held in urns, unable to get out and she won’t play, won’t ride her dragon. Eyes covered again, we mustn’t look at the good things, the possibilities. Sad faces everyone.


Don’t you just love the grey and taupe tones she’s used in the Linestrider? It captures the feeling and her eyes are closed, her head is wrapped in a scarf, and she has a large fish on her chest. The fishy emotions have obscured her breasts, the bubbles coming from the fish pop and the sounds “Sad sack, wet blanket” envelop her.

The Aquarian picture is similar to the Fradella in the first group, the hand of God offers life and a big cup but he/she won’t look. The lady in the Heart Tarot is reading a letter, perhaps the final letter from a long-ago sweetheart, dreaming of joy and love, she sits slumped at the table barely holding her head up. The hermit crab in the Animal Wisdom contemplates the glory and protection of shells.

Wet blankets and sad sacks, steeped in wine, misery, and about to go over the falls, there must be better choices. Swim to shore, dry off and get out your pencils and draw a cartouche! Of course, the exact cure for sad sacks, drawing cartouches. Add a lizard, add a condor, get the wet sack off the condor and go. Start in small steps to drag yourself to shore, concentrating on the thorn-tailed rayadito in the tree. What do you mean you don’t see it, it’s bright yellow and black, it’s right there?

Open your eyes.



Eagles Across Decks

I thought I had all my cards unboxed from our cross-country move but while searching for particular animal decks, I realized that some loose ones that I wrapped separately from their boxes were missing. Fortunately the spouse rounded them up for me. You would think with 394 decks I would forget but Judith never forgets a deck!

An overview with an attendant eagle figure, this one by Schleich.


And don’t forget those other four decks Jude. The eagle in the card with the yellow border has taken a fancy to my figure, he’s zooming toward him with some urgency. Figures inspire everyone I suppose.


The KING OF SWORDS  was the card I drew today from the Animal Totem Tarot that started the eagles flying. I had mentioned to someone recently how my deck collecting had gone down lately because I just want to buy art created by hand or at least created by hand in Adobe Illustrator. Upon taking these cards out my heart sang with the impact and beauty of the art and each artist’s expression and composition. It does not get better than this for me as a collector, this stuff makes me happy and inspires my own artwork.

The King, in his highly analytical way, enjoyed this comparison. In this card as you fly higher you strip away what isn’t important, your soaring height makes things clearer, shifts the focus, lets you drop nonessentials. Not a bad reflection of how I currently feel about card decks.


The Magical Menagerie was one deck I couldn’t find this morning so I knew I had another box somewhere. The Pathfinders deck holds up, it’s one of my favourites. Susan Seddon Boulet has been dead since 1997, but her Animal Spirits Knowledge Cards are still in print, and no wonder; what a legacy.


I think the Animal Messages deck is out of print now but I’m so glad I bought one when it was readily available, it’s a treasure, and Sue Lion’s Spirit Animals always looks so fresh and comes in a tin with a window so you can put your card of the day in view. The Animalis deck is also a fresh vision with lots of bones and unusual compositions.


More decks that hold up for me: the Tarot of Reincarnation is one you have to hunt for the species and some of the names have changed. I have a fuller discussion and small review of it here. It has nothing to do with reincarnation, unless you figure the original illustrations (long out of copyright) have been reincarnated.


I absolutely love both these bird decks, they are definitely treasures both for the art and the variety of images. I rarely use the Medicine Cards but they are neat in their own way. At the time they were published I don’t think there were many animal decks in existence, so it was important.

Ah, the satisfaction of a card comparison after a long break from my cards. It’s like coming out of a desert to drink a glass of ice water. Cool baby.

Happy Sunday!







Cernunnos Across Decks

Someone I met online was experiencing an epiphany about Cernunnos, and I started this study thinking I had many images of Cernunnos the Celtic horned God in my deck collection, but I only found four. I know there is one in the Druidcraft Tarot but I don’t own that.

If anyone passes by who knows or owns other decks that contain images of Cernunnos, do post about it in the comments section, thanks.

It’s interesting that in some images he is depicted much like existing statuary of the God with a rounded cap and antlers, and in others he is depicted as a sexy guy with long hair and antlers growing straight out of his head. He is often associated with the Devil, which was an attempt by Christianity to demonize an older, pagan deity. I find it disturbing to have cultural symbolism erased or white-washed like that.








In any case he’s rather dangerous like many Gods, but not unapproachable I would think.



The Queen of Coins in Black and White

Daily Draw March 22nd, 2013

I drew a card from the Tarot of the Absurd, and then I thought it might be an interesting study to pull the same card from other black and white decks, so this is a small study of the Queen of Coins or Queen of Pentacles.

The one that started it all:


Many people seem to attach the mothering gene to The Empress, but for me she is always this Queen. She stops to smell the flower, stops to nurture herself and others. There is something about the chair in this card, the cut-outs seem to allow for growth or change if not innovation, and the idea of movement and air circulating is here, like the openness this Queen has to others, like the tracery in the window, allowing and nurturing different paths.


Steve Bright has retitled the Queen “Nurturer of Pentacles”in his Fragments of an Illusion deck. In this case the queen is a Dad making sure he spends time with a young child even though he wants to fiddle on his computer.

In the Hermetic, she is associated with a goat for fertility. I like that he’s drawn a spiral on her helmet for snails and the fertility of the Earth too.

The Enigma makes mention of comfort not being for you alone, but something you give to others along with support. This drawing was a study for one of the angels in Da Vinci’s painting Madonna of the Rocks, so there is an angelic security or support hinted at here.

The Ship of Fools card displays the Queen with a mirror, an emblem of vanity and pride and it looks like a demon is going to roast her over a fire, an image the reminds me of several saints being tortured and grilled in history. The Queen seems unconcerned, a product of her grounded nature, although there is a hint that she might get carried away with material things and vanity.


Well, Queen Victoria had a lot of children herself and the stewardship of her people, which is a mothering concern. This is another very secure and dignified Queen and obviously fertile, generous too. There is that reciprocal idea of care and concern, also found in the Tarokado.

Ah the Ironwing, this is the Madrone of Bells, and the name madrone comes from the Arizona madrone tree which is a type of arbutus tree. My mother loved the Pacific arbutus. I was just copying out a poem for my Dad and I put an image of an arbutus with it. For me it is MOTHER and it’s so touching to see it referenced here. Proof that when you least expect it, a card will reach out to you. Collaboration and generosity, yet with productive work as crystals in a dark cave were transformed to provide the fruitful berries, and this Queen shares with animals too.

The Ravenswood deck shows the Queen with a necklace with a gold bull’s head. She has the freedom and wealth to share and seems very quiet and contained.

Le Tarokado is a French deck from Quebec. My French fell down on this one but it says something about everything being sacred and what returns is dedicated or consecrated. So in generosity and nurturing, the Queen has it returned to her and then she dedicates it to others again. Also in this card she looks very calm and contained, very grounded.


This card is so big I had to put it on its own. Again, you can see the goat association with fertility and also earthy impulses. I was interested that the dark and light aspect of the halves of the Queen is associated with versions of the Earth Mother from early cultures, and there is a suggestion of a third eye in the image. The darkness reminds me of the cave description in the Ironwing, where it is not dark and wet but fertile. Soil and growth and invention—I like the idea of invention as you grow things from your mind.


The Kaos shows another mother, nurturing a child. Comfortable and generous, secure productive and practical. She is really a great influence on people as well as taking care of them, she inspires us to be better, to work and be fruitful in many ways.

The Queen of Diamonds in the Diary deck also seems to have a third eye. The spider web on her face and the spider-like qualities of the jewel in her forehead remind me of the mythology of the Great Mother or Great Weaver, the creator of the world in several world mythologies. The web of life and mothering qualities are here, but there is also a watchfulness to this Queen, as a guardian to the Earth, a nurturing omniscience.

I don’t often get this card, but with my Dad going into a care home and his condominium being sold off, it does remind me of my Mom. She has been dead for twenty years but that was her home and as such it was an anchor or home base in the family and a reminder of her spirit.

The Madrone of Bells came to say “I am still here.” The other Queens say the same thing, and watch and comfort.



All the Little Foxes and Their Friends

Daily Draw June 7th, 2012

Today I am doing a comparison of foxes in my various decks due to the card and comments in this post. The obvious comparison is the foxes in the Lenormand decks but I found quite a few in other decks, both tarot and oracle.

Before I start on cards I wanted to mention one of my favourite graphic novels from The Sandman series, The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman with artwork by Yoshitaka Amano, I’ve mentioned it before on the blog but it illustrates a classic Asian myth about the fox lady. This comes up on some of my cards too, but the art in this book is so dreamy and evocative, perfect for the story. I recommend you buy it if you love foxes. The cover of my edition is reflective gold so hard to scan accurately.

The Shadowscapes Tarot had the most foxes, a whole suit of them plus a few extras.

I found a few on I Ching cards.

Several stories with foxes in the Fables of La Fontaine are illustrated in these playing cards.

And here are the wonderful Lenormand decks and their attractive foxes.

An assortment of foxes on various decks:

Lisa Hunt has painted foxes in several decks.

More foxes, looking bushy-tailed:

I Eat Fried Thoth Grasshoppers and Locusts Under a Tree

Daily Draw February 29th, 2012

This is my initial look at the Mary-El Tarot.

The book is a mixture of occult gobbledygook and Kabbalah, with bits of mythology, confusing comparisons, and other esoteric bafflegab and associations. I found grammatical errors, flaws in logic, and missing details. When Marie talks about the impetus for a card and why she chose the symbolism or colours, it’s good. The rest is irritatingly obscure and precious to a specific belief system. Meh.

Update: I finally traded this deck because the book was so full of junk thinking and a babbling mish-mash of poorly researched esoterica that I couldn’t stand to use the deck.

I did however have a fantastic time with the cards after the deck came in the mail. The artwork is terrific; Marie White is a gifted artist.

My favourite card is the Locust thingy on the 2 of Swords. The artwork reminds me so much of a piece of Art Nouveau clip art I have.

This was what got me started on the visual journey through this deck. That view of a tree has become archetypal since Georgia O’Keeffe made it famous. It just lit my heart up to see this.

The hooded figure in the Diary of a Broken Soul Tarot is reminiscent of this Mary-El one, and it’s even flanked by trees. I love that the tree from the Mythical Goddess Tarot is ropey like the Mary-El trees. This type of figure is often seen on The Hermit but here he is the Magus, a turnabout I like, the darkling, hooded interior beckoning.

I find Marie’s art style a bit like Hermann Haindl’s. This is a nice example for comparison. Marie’s work also reminds me of Susan Seddon Boulet’s work.

I saw this rider and immediately thought of the rider on the Prague.

I actually find the style in these two decks similar in their rawness and sexuality, even though the Kaos is black and white. This is not Pan but Atum in the Mary-El deck. Similar lust though.

What can I say, the visual reference is undeniable. My husband asked me why there are so many breasts and penises in the Mary-El. I have no idea, apart from Atum. Perhaps like photographers, some artists who paint like to do nudes?

Love the card, but found the book explanation missing clarity. Somewhat cloudy, to say the least.

Different birds, similar composition. I think the colours Marie used are interesting. She talks often in the book about colour and how important it is to meaning.

I see echoes of this particular Osho Zen card in several decks. Marie’s artwork is gorgeous here, there is such a richness of detail.

So, that’s it, my initial ramble through the Mary-El Tarot.

The Galah Studies Pink in Cards

Daily Draw February 25th, 2012

For a couple of years now I have been interested in an Australian bird called a Galah. It is the loveliest pink and grey colour and is sometimes called the Rose-breasted Cockatoo.

The colours really excite me so I think I will try one in an illustration. While looking for a suitable bug to pair with it (all birds like a bug to keep them company), I found an alarming pink one in a card deck that might look nice although I was looking for a beetle. Of course, I could use a beetle reference and make it pink, which is probably what I’ll do. Yes, my particular fantasy involves bright pink beetles and galahs.

I had this insect card out on the table staring at me and got to thinking about some of the other nice pink cards I have in my collection. Then I started hauling decks out and browsing, and thus instead of a daily card I have a study in pink.

If you do not like pink, flee now for safety. You are warned.


Here is the card that started it all from the Bugs Knowledge Cards. It is a Clearwing Butterfly, the Cithaerias aurorina, and has a translucent look that is beautiful.

I have always like the soft medieval pinks in the Bosch and Giotto Tarots.

I can’t afford tourmaline but I love the colour of it. This is an odd deck that has a real New Age book that I don’t care for, but it’s fun now and then. I very kind woman gave the set to me for doing a reading for her.

The Lenormand deck I designed with clip art: nothing says beauty like pink AND green! The Nudges from the Universe cards have little figures doing Yoga postures and holding runes.

These are a bit on the purple-y side but in person there is more pink than reads in the scan.

I used to drink pink lemonade like that when I was a kid.

I have lots of foxgloves in my garden and particularly like this old botanical print of them.  The Luman Deck has lots of intense pink in it.


Lots of shells have pink shades in them that are gorgeous.

Gemstones have lovely shades of pink too.

Some of these scans don’t do justice to the pink colours but I was pleased to let it all wash over me.

Oooooh, I feel so warm and…sweet, ready to reach for pink ballet shoes and dance, preferably while examining photographic references of pink bugs. What could be better on a Friday night?