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!




Veiled Mystery

Draw June 13th, 2013

I have noticed this year that I am missing days on this “Daily” blog. It’s not that I care for my cards less, it’s that I care less for talking in general, and feel I’ve become trapped in talking about my health, over and over again. That feels defeating as I grind on about the same thing repeatedly.

So instead of calling this Photon Stimulus: A Daily Card Study of Sorts I am renaming it Photon Stimulus: A Card Study of Sorts. There is something very freeing about that, to leave it open like that without a schedule.

To clarify, I drew a card from Tarot of the Imagination.


“La Luna” we howl into the sky….


The woman has veiled herself, deepened the mystery of reach. Obscurity and gauzy perception, the safety of the land between night and day, with just enough light to see.

One might say, in looking at her buttocks, that she was releasing the need to be anal retentive about details and outlines of form, preferring to wrap herself in the half light with the feel of tender mist on her face, the splash of water on hot, tired feet.

It’s a journey to balance, between hot and cool and dark and bright. The moon has a cycle, it waxes and wanes in the sky, depending where and when you see it. It’s always there but the illusion that it’s not is strong sometimes. I am in a cycle for sure, not seeing clearly but going somewhere, forward, away from the past, in a new phase.

I feel a real pull toward drawing and painting, like a tide pulling, the pull of the moon. Time to find the vision, to perceive and run under the moon’s delicate light.

Time to get back to architecture too.


Three of Swords Rimble Ramble

Daily Draw March 12th, 2011

I am not keen on outright divination because it feels meaningless to me. I am too much a fatalist I think–what happens, happens; yet reflecting on things appeals to me without divining the future.

Yesterday I wanted to soak up card decks and art, fueled by the depth and interest of the Portable Fortitude Playing Cards. I went to and picked a random card to examine across decks randomly.

I picked the International Icon Tarot which I don’t own. I got the 3 of Swords.

As I’ve mentioned before, three swords stabbed through a heart shape is not an inspiring archetype for me. That is a Rider-Waite image, which came from the old Sola Busca deck. (I would like a copy of the Sola Busca, I wish Lo Scarabeo would reprint theirs.) The fact that this image has a long history of association does not improve my disappointment whenever I see a deck with three swords in a heart.

My little ramble here is about augmenting the idea of the 3 of Swords, and how artists do that and thus provide greater depth to their work and the archetype in general.

There was an unfortunate meme at the Jump the Shark Tarot Forum a few years ago where a supposed expert and various cronies decided that it was politically incorrect to collect decks and that one couldn’t be a good reader unless one used a single deck for what they termed “intensive deck study.” Nonsense, where do people get this silly sort of dogma? And why do people jump on this correctness stupidity instead of thinking for themselves? Beats me, but it never kept me from buying more decks, enjoying my deck collection, and continually learning.

1. Whimsical Tarot – Hansel and Gretel are lost, anxious, and frightened of the strange place they are and the strange sounds surrounding them that they can’t identify. Yup, these two are definitely spooked, and Gretel seems to have given herself up entirely to despair. We know this feeling, and having grown up spending summers in northern woods and lakes, I really identified with this example of being lost and not recognizing where you are. The metaphor being that “lost” can mean lost in emotions as well as physical situations. If you lose your home or relationship you have no way to get your bearings, at least for a time.

2. Tarot of the Imagination – The always different imagery in this deck is why I bought it. Soldiers, looking Russian, who remind me of gulags and getting pricked by dear old Uncle Joe and loaded on a railway car to Siberia. It can also mean going into battle and leaving for the front in the middle of the night. How unsettling in any case. The cold, the worry, trying to contain your emotions among strangers.

3. Celtic Tarot – This one comes close to the original archetype, but the raggedy despair is very hard, very compelling. Dreams up in smoke, the desolate landscape before you. I liked the comment in the booklet that this card is about guilt. Yes, we put the Wayback Machine on continual rewind and let that guilt and desolation eat us alive. This figure literally looks like he’s clawing chunks from his face, eating despair.

4. Housewives Tarot – This was the most conventional of the random imagery I picked. Perhaps a bit too much emphasis on infidelity in this deck. I loved the line about how you can’t let him have his cake and eat it too if he’s cheating on you. The focus on an individual relationship and cutting the person out of your life because they give you chronic heartburn was clever but somewhat restrictive, which is probably how the original stabbed heart image seems to me. Still, it’s a nice, fresh image and very, very clever and charming.

5. Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA – This odd deck can really come at things in a new way. That figure reminds me so much of a Rockwell Kent woodcut. Pardon me for mentioning my favourite illustrator again, but he does seem to influence people in a Blakean way, as he himself was influenced by Blake.

There is a wonderful poem in the book to go with this, that I shall copy:

Dim shades of former lives have troubled you.
Fierce violation of your sanctuary.
Fleeing in grave despair, you crouch alone.
You feel defenseless, and you’re vague and wary.
Accept the fact–most people are defective–
and bow to time in bitter compliance.
For in the scheme of things we cannot fathom
suffering itself creates experience.

Notice how well this reflects some of the things I can see in the other cards? Julia Turk nailed it, and gave it greater depth. “Nail” being an apt word with regard to this card as we tend to crucify ourselves.

The birds are condors await carrion and brood in an air-like way, air and intellect being associated with Swords usually. The pearls of reason in the figure’s hand are about to drop as they drop reason and intellect in their despair. She went further and mentions that this deep feeling of sorrow can build a new foundation on the surprising results of discovering yourself. After everyone has gone, we are left with the Self. Ain’t so bad. That also ties in with my general feeling as I discussed last week with the card from the Tarot of Pagan Cats, that this card can be about unnecessary drama when things are not as bad as you feel they are.

I find the “fierce violation of your sanctuary” line echoes the thought of soldiers and battle and having privacy and autonomy ripped from you by war.

6. Golden Dragon Tarot – Another odd deck. I believe the images were taken from something else like a book or comic and then fitted to tarot symbolism. Okay it shows, but so what? It simply gives you another angle which is not a crime. In this image the woman seems to be sewing him into his warrior clothes, or perhaps repairing them and getting him ready for the next battle. An interesting reflection of the card in the Tarot of Imagination. He has turned his back on the star to concentrate on the material plane, which is full of illusion. Actions must be accompanied by harmony, diplomacy, and wisdom. Is the good fight really good or necessary?

7. Circle of Life Tarot – Another favourite deck of mine, and here the figures seem to be fighting with themselves in an angry loop of fussy crankiness. In the booklet they mention that the most dangerous enemy is always within us. To conquer others you must conquer yourself first. The vague smoke of archetype across decks wafts by again.

8. Songs for the Journey Home Tarot – This was my 7th deck when I first discovered tarot, and I love the art and words, the ability of the authors to spot the human condition. I am tempted to call this card “Flying Crabby Kites” and these three are definitely tangled in frustration. They seem locked in this situation, and need to disengage from further entanglement. They have also lost the wind to fly while their emotions take hold. The book talks about unravelling patterns of ineffective communication. I liked the thought that while people might seem aggressive, it is a mask for their feelings of vulnerability and woundedness. That makes sense in recognizing that battle is not necessary, that the drama doesn’t really exist. Always the thought of emotions and intellect, grappling with each other senselessly.

9. Wheel of Change Tarot – People criticize this deck for the author’s ecological “agenda.” So what, she has some good points. Spend ten years completing a deck of your own like she did, and then complain. Oh I forgot, you’re doing your intensive deck study, so you must be more in tune with the proper way of doing things, and thus able to sort everyone else out.

I think of that aged tree being cut down in its prime, but it can be made into other things. Perhaps a dining table, a rustic one showing the split in the wood, ready to receive that gorgeous cake from the Housewives Tarot. Build anew, reform, action and change, plus time that nature needs to recover and develop new growth. The idea of using your inner resources wisely appealed to me, as well as her thoughts about being out of balance in your feelings and using the Earth’s natural rhythms as a mirror to find your own balance.

Which brings me to why I think I keep drawing this card. It isn’t about treachery or betrayal, it’s about finding balance for health and protecting my heart from damage. Eat properly, sleep when the sun goes down, rise when it does, accept the rhythms and gifts of nature. Don’t fight yourself, don’t get tangled up in the past or cranky dramas of your own making. Don’t eat bad food in the material world, accepting the illusion that it is some how making you safe when you feel defenseless. And most of all, don’t have a heart attack that will damage your heart irrevocably. The bitter compliance with time: my body is not young and cannot handle illness.

That’s the word today.

After all that.

But didn’t we have fun looking at the pictures?

Sure we did.

And we’ll remember them too, whenever we think of the 3 of Swords.

5 of Wands Study

I was so intrigued by the daily card today that I chose five Lo Scarabeo decks to guarantee strangeness in interpretation, plus a fairly similar card size, and pulled out the same 5 of Wands card. Then I took a book of clip art patterns, facsimiles of Art Deco patterns, and went through and chose a likely pattern for each card. Just for fun and colour.

I often do that with cards. The first time I did that with the fantastic Dreaming in Color Luman Deck about five years ago with one card from the Luman and 22 cards from other decks that matched it fairly well in colour. Then I wrote essays. What fun.

I’m not writing essays with this one, just comparing words.


Competition with some struggle but no fighting or animosity. You can claim victory yet still be friendly with your opponents. Think of competition as reciprocal growth rather than an abuse of trust.

Now that is refreshing. This continues to be a deck that shines year after year in both art and writing.


There is quite a lot of tribal strutting and violence in this deck but it sure is fresh, which was why I felt compelled to buy it. Here again we have competition, but you’ll notice that their clubs and spears aren’t doing real harm, it’s a training exercise. Funny, these two cards have immediately changed my rather grim view of this card archetype. It can look bad but it’s all in the playing.


Now ain’t that purty? Nothing can beat this deck for attractiveness of colour and design. Don’t you love that layout with the stone and sky and the brilliant green of the canal? That’s the growth and training part of this card, contrasted rather beautifully to the dispute taking place above, which could be a mere test of strength, a bit of training on a nice day. They also use the phrase “imitation” in the booklet which reminds me of how people in groups can often get stroppy, if not nasty, when imitating each other instead of thinking for themselves.


This card refers to baptism and probably is a picture of John the Baptist and Jesus. It’s about sharing hope and faith with others, a remarkable change to the more obvious strife in this card. Baptism makes you belong to a group, which can promote growth as well as stagnation. Watch that your baptismal font doesn’t have stagnant water in it. According to the book it’s about small gestures too, like flowers blooming on a stalk, nodding in the wind, catching the light.


Emerald green and deep blue, like morning glories on the vine against green grass. Isn’t that small tree interesting at his feet? This is a bearded vulture, Gypaetus barbatus, who also seems to be in training, practicing with his foil, ready to pick carrion with that razor sharp point and flick it to his beak no doubt. The foil is of course used in fencing which is a popular competition, we train and exercise to improve our skills. Things are not always as you expect them or as they seem. The contradiction of that is like the contrast of the size of the tree to the vulture.

This fellow is an old world bird that is almost extinct and very rare in Europe and slightly more observable in Asia. Its rarity is similar to people who compete rather than kill I expect. He likes heights as you see in the card because he prefers feeding on bone marrow so goes up high to drop the bones to crack them so he can get his beak inside there to eat the delicious marrow. He also drops live tortoises to crack them open to eat. Okay, he’s a raptor, that’s the kind of thing they do. They aren’t bald like other vultures, they are a bit different to other vultures in several ways, much like humans who compete and use competition for growth rather than mere fighting.

That has been quite enlightening to look more closely at this particular card.

The Dichotomy of Originality

Daily Draw September 24th, 2008

Today I am using the Tarot of the Imagination which is one of my favourite story decks. The artist, Ferenc Pintér, has an immediately recognizable style. I like artists like that.

My husband and I were discussing the infamous British artist Damien Hurst this morning. Neither of us respect his work because he makes millions, yet we could not look at a sculpture of an animal preserved in formaldehyde, and recognize it as his. It’s a pickled cow with symbolic doodads and gold leaf. Take it out of a chi-chi art gallery or Sotheby’s art marketing milieu and would people recognize it as **his** artwork? Nope.

The Tarot of Imagination is subtitled “Fragments of perception” which is wild.


Speaking of cloven hooves. . . .Satan gives the age old finger to the world and watches carefully for reaction. The world withers all around but he lives and changes cloaked in passion, temptation, originality, carnality. Odd that originality, which I think of as an extremely positive thing, can here be associated with The Devil.

It depends on what source and impact your originality has. Serial killers, liars, sadists, pedophiles, and artists can all be original, but if the world withers from their dark eye and twisted fingers, then originality becomes an eternally devilish hell.

From The Book of Silk today. . . .

“Documents of this period mention ‘kinkob’, a term adapted from a Chinese word, ‘chin’, designating gold-woven silk.”

Tied in with The Devil, the maxim “All that glitters is not gold” comes to mind. It’s odd how we tend as humans to tune out little homilies like this. We hear them so often and become disdainful. I didn’t start out to mention art or artists, but I pulled out Ferenc Pintér’s art and gasped with delight, and the dichotomy of originality reared up.

I get discouraged in my own art quite frequently, particularly when sensationalism makes millions and I don’t sell a fresh and lively original necklace, or when another artist tells me I shouldn’t outline an illustration when I already have, because that’s my style, but there is also a story in that today.