The Tarot Tracker

I decided to buy the Deviant Moon Tarot and the large book that Patrick published to go with it. I am very impressed with this book and also impressed that Patrick started thinking about some of these characters in his early teens and still has some of his drawings and paintings from that time. It’s all quite fascinating, and it has made the deck about fifty times more enjoyable for me. The book was expensive but since I’m going to study the whole deck it was worth it to me.


I also bought the Tarot Tracker by Angelo Nasios and it has proved invaluable. I haven’t felt much like blogging or talking so every day I have been pulling a daily morning and an evening reflection card and using this journal. I found that my Lamy Safari fountain pen and Waterman Serenity Blue ink work very well in this journal and there is no ghosting or bleed through, so the pages stay clean and readable. It’s always a bonus when you can use your fountain pens in journals.

Yesterday I had fun with the Knight of Badgers from the Badgers Forest Tarot, and I got a kick out of echoing the imagery in the card. This journal is another great buy and I recommend it. Throw in a few Schleich animal figures while you’re at it, they do augment a reading nicely.


So, while thinking about the Deviant Moon and wondering how I could work through the books and cards, I decided to resurrect a project from eleven years ago. On a forum a group of people were supposed to do a visual journal in response to a particular card deck. I got all enthused and created a set of five hardcover accordion books filled with Canson Mi-Teintes paper and proceeded to work through the cards, also using calligraphy with a dip pen and gold ink. I was having a great time but the other people didn’t really get going on it. I find that sometimes on groups, there is much talk of “Oh yeah, let’s do this, squee!” and everybody yaks away and nothing is done. I eventually left and carried on myself, and then stopped. I traded the deck as the author was having snits and going on the rampage generally and I wanted to distance myself from that.


After we moved, I placed this set of books on the bookshelf in my bedroom, so I see them frequently, and felt bad that the project never came to fruition. So I am going to use them for a Deviant Moon study. The first book for the Majors has 22 pages and the remaining four books for each suit have 14 pages each plus endpapers. I’ve bought some Golden High Flow iridescent gold paint to use in my old Speedball calligraphy pen, and I’ve bought 17 tubes of Holbein Acryla Gouache to use on this paper. I find it hard to use coloured pencil any more due to arm pain, so I thought the matte finish on this acrylic gouache would work well and still be flexible for opening and closing the small pages, plus it would be easier on my arm.


Apart from that I have been chipping away on weight loss and the vegan eating plan. I was getting tired of bean chili and bean curry so I’ve been trying new recipes and buying cookbooks. I ordered a spiralizer in an effort to cut down on pasta and use vegetables as noodles, and I’ve set up and tried my new Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and it is interesting, I made a delicious stew in it with brown basmati rice and lentils that lasted four days. Yesterday I made a vegan cream “cheese” and pimento hummus that it quite good for sandwiches or as a spread for raw veggies.

I weigh in weekly but it’s slow, I am hampered by pain issues so I just try to move as much as I can and eat properly. So far I’ve lost 12 pounds and I think because of the proper nourishment I am getting with vegan eating, I don’t get hungry and I don’t get cravings. I get discouraged by pain, that’s mainly what gets a grip on my mind, but eating a bag of chips is not going to help that, right?



The Database in Etruria

Who doesn’t like Christian allegory? Who doesn’t like mythology and facsimile decks and virtues and elements? Not me.


Today I am looking at the Ancient Minchiate Etruria published by Lo Scarabeo. It is a reproduction of 41 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana from a Minchiate deck printed in Florence in 1725. There was an actual Minchiate game but it seems to have left the popularity charts just before World War II. Mythology that was once very familiar to people is not so familiar to us, nor is Christian allegory; two facts which might explain why people don’t play it much today.

It is a bit confusing to figure out the images. I bought Brian Williams’s excellent Minchiate Tarot deck and book, and even he gets it wrong sometimes. I caught him out on card XXIX when he described the pig as a possible pet. Actually I believe it refers to a labour of Hercules. I discovered this when studying this card in my Two Testaments of Terra Lucida study, where I use the Minchiate with the Bible. Nothing better to puzzle something out.

The game was created around 1530 and they dropped the Papesse from the tarot trumps and added 20 new trumps between the Tower and the Star. Virtues of Hope, Prudence, Faith, and Charity; the four elements of Fire, Water, Earth, and air; and the twelve signs of the zodiac in mixed order. In the matter of order, they use Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice as virtues too, and for Christian order they have Faith, Hope, and Charity (theological or heavenly virtues) higher than the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice.

We are taught today by the Church (particularly fundamentalist cults), that astrology is evil as are the signs of the zodiac, but back in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was their Science and quite acceptable even for Christians. In this deck the zodiacal cards are next to The Star which makes sense. I personally have no interest in astrology but the signs of the zodiac are steeped in mythology, and that I am interested in.

I didn’t realize this but if you look at the examples of cards below, instead of showing curved Swords as was usual in such decks as the Marseille Tarot, this uses a Portuguese standard with straight swords. The other thing about the pips in this deck is that they are readily discernible from each other, which I don’t find with Marseille decks where the batons and swords almost look the same to me unless I’m being careful.

For an example of the Coins suit I used the Ace which is gorgeous. When I put this deck in the database I only had time to put four cards in as placeholders, so I went back today and scanned sixteen cards so I have a full example. The fluidity of the database is compelling.

(Click to enlarge)


It’s a beautiful deck, with soft, antique-y colouring and the original paper-wrapped borders are reproduced too which makes it feel very special, very old. Imagine wrapping the paper backing onto the front of cards and gluing it? No wonder they were expensive and fragile.

A good deck to have, and paired with the Minchiate Tarot (Brian Williams) it is fantastic to explore and meander. Honestly, they are a bit involved which is why I don’t do it regularly, but I have really enjoyed studying these cards by picking random passages with my NIV Quest Study Bible and putting them together. The study bibles have all sorts of fascinating annotations in the margins, that really make history come alive.

I like to take disparate things and put them together and this deck is so close to the Bible in many respects because of the Christians who created the cards and wove the old allegories into them. All the quaint old stories come alive.

Wicked Absalom!

Riddles of the Absurd

Daily Draw January 5th, 2013

Well, I rocketed to the sky this morning when I saw this post on Jessica Shanahan’s blog about the Tarot of the Absurd Riddles.

Oooooh, a riddle, a puzzle, a chance to put cards in order and attach words to them and take a picture. The feel of the cards on the fingers, the snap of them when you lay them down, the spacing, the rows, the snipping and reordering of concepts, the details, the puzzle, the layout, the cards you had forgotten, the stars that you missed.

For me, this was a delightful meditative exercise, the entire concept of it appealed to me. This is a woman with ideas folk out there. She is writing a book, and I am looking forward to that moment, that exquisite moment when thought becomes concept, becomes words, becomes a book, becomes a thought to be read by others.

Plus I got to play with my scissors and lay cards out over the doll quilt I am pinning on my drafting board. I can actually see my drafting board, what better moment for meditation?

by Jessica Rose Shanahan


There they be fellow riddlers on the path of life, and that’s today’s draw.

Update: Rats, I got 3 wrong. More assimilation of concepts needed….



This Card Reminds Me of That Wildwood Tarot

Daily Draw July 3rd, 2011

I received the Wildwood Tarot last week and was amazed at the number of cards I loved, so I am going to do my usual visual comparison of a new deck. Some people do deck “interviews” but this is what I do. One of the great things about any deck with illustrations by Will Worthington, is his attention to detail on animals and birds. I have a great many decks I could have pulled cards from for comparison of this, but I decided to keep it to the ones that popped into my memory.

The first decorative object my husband and I bought after getting married 35 years ago was a framed picture of a Kingfisher. It has some foxing on the paper and the frame is falling apart but it is still hanging in my living room.

Naturally, the Kingfisher on the King of Arrows in the Wildwood is one of my favourites, and it reminded me of Susan Boulet’s beautiful painting of a kingfisher.

There is a paper model you can make of a kingfisher on this page. You need to download the patterns to cut out plus the instructions in separate PDF files, but the links are on this page. I often make paper models or paper dolls to go with my cards.

Herons have always meant a lot to me. I am awaiting the publication of the Gaian Tarot in its mass market edition, because the heron in the Death card from that deck just hit me right away months ago and I wanted it, wanted to work with it. I was so pleased to see a heron on the King of Vessels from the Wildwood, they are the most peaceful birds to watch; immediately calming in their majesty and slow, graceful mystery.

A while ago some cards depicting weaving came up in one of my daily draws and here it is again on the Wildwood Wheel card. I taught myself how to do basic weaving and bought myself a rigid heddle loom last fall, and I love to see weaving references pop up on cards. This is an Iron Age loom, reminding me of the rich history of weaving in the world and a book I bought called Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times.

In the accompanying book to this tarot it states: “The loom waits for the skilful hand of the unseen weaver to complete the pattern of possibilities and potential that constitutes fate and chance.” I like that idea of completing the pattern with this card. I also think anyone who creates will understand the cycles of creativity, which are like a wheel turning, even when we don’t want it to turn.

This one is self-explanatory. I’m sorry Will, I couldn’t help myself, it was the hair.

And speaking of hares, I found this card interesting as it depicts female hares. I often generalize and feel that male animals are the ones who have rituals like this; it reminds me of springboks or deer fighting, and cats will rear up and box each other like this if they are really angry with each other. It also reminded me very much of a card from the Tarot of the Animal Lords.

Yet another beautiful bird card that instantly reminded me of a well-known quilt artist and a wallhanging she made many years ago. I had a copy of it in a calendar once, and it was burned in my memory. White cranes often do a little dance, they are known for it in the way herons are known for the stillness of their fishing stance.

I like the contrast and clarity of the illustrations in the deck, the light, the colours, saturated but somewhat subdued on some cards. The snow and wolf on this card reminded me of the intense Fenris Wolf and its legend from the Fantastical Creatures Tarot. That wolf was the card that caused me to buy that deck, and similarly, the Wildwood has lots of mythology in it, which is always appealing to me in decks.

And here’s another one that spoke to me! I was given a lovely figurine of a lynx about 30 years ago for Christmas and it is displayed with my cat figurine collection. It came to see its new card friend and have a chat. Then they went out and ripped a rabbit apart and gnawed on its bones and sucked out the marrow. Such is the reality of life. I like the realism in this deck, the nod to the often cruel or frightening aspects of nature.

These two were very similar, and the contrast of the birches in the Wildwood card is so vivid and exciting. I can almost smell the snow in this one. We have woods behind our house and I have often taken photographs of the birches in winter while walking my dogs.

I knew this card reminded me of some of Mindy Sommers’ work in the Luman Deck, but I had to browse a bit to find the right card I held in my mind’s eye. There is something about the light and the colours in these two cards that match in my mind. I am so tired of Moon cards and spooky women and menstruation references, so this is greatly refreshing. In the book Mark Ryan refers to “…the nutrient-rich swamp full of potential energy and creative power.” There is also a heron on this card and some crows. Crows are spooky and otherworldly and I can hear their calls when looking at this card, and the swamp goes so well with the other card, both are gorgeously evocative images. Creative power IS a journey, the birth of something incubating just under the surface.

What ramble would be complete without a reference to Dante? My beloved Dante weaves himself into everything meaningful it seems. When I saw the Ten of Bows card it took me right to William Blake’s image of Dante and Virgil ascending the mountain to get to Purgatory. Ascension is often accompanied by burden and responsibility, but there is light on the horizon, burning through cloud.

I usually wrap these things up with a scan of my favourite card from a deck. This is the one that immediately hits me visually, without any second-guessing about archetype or meaning. I can hear the water splashing and continually moving, oxygenating, rebirthing itself, as we must. I never owned the Greenwood Tarot that was the precursor to this one. Frankly, I am baffled at all the comparative nonsense and complaining that goes on when people discuss the two decks. This is today, this is the deck today, we are back to realism and the world as it is. I have great respect for Mark Ryan in realizing this—look where he’s flowing, onward, over and through.

This visual study only touches the surface. I have read most of the book and I like the meditative approach to these cards. It is not surprising since John Matthews was involved in some of the writing with the Wildwood. His Hallowquest deck also takes a meditative approach and the original deck with the black archway borders, pulls you into the card. I had a most unusual study of the Seeker in that deck, and felt like I was in a movie I was pulled so far into the scene during a meditation. The clarity of it has stayed with me, the magic of that canyon below me is there forever.

This deck is going to be like that too.


Cool Samba Sun

Daily Draw December 3rd, 2010

I got behind my time trying to sew and embroider and knit and read and whatever other countless projects I have on the go, and then I got some new digital jigsaw puzzles and got mesmerized by that, so I forgot to do a draw for two days.

This is the Ravenswood Eastern Tarot which I bought from someone who was downsizing their collection. It has finally migrated to a paper mache box from India that I bought on eBay back in the days I used to go there. I like the small yellow and orange birds on it and the deep blue colour like a Persian miniature.It suits the theme of the deck.

When I first got this deck I pulled out the aces and drew a manadala inspired by them on an 8-inch square piece of black Canson Mi Teintes paper.

Some of the symbols and shapes, notably the thing flying off in the upper right hand corner, are from the Aces, but in this instance  it is upside down.

This strikes me as an interesting exercise to do with your decks: pull out the Aces from specific decks and draw mandalas. There was a time I would have had the mental energy and enthusiasm to do that for all my 129 tarot decks, but it would be overwhelming for my mind now.

I tend to get overwhelmed by stress and pressure these days. I generally find people frazzling and avoid going out, but my mind works overtime bouncing around here. It gets a bit much. It reminds me of the line from a Bruce Cockburn song: “The trouble with normal is, it always gets worse.”

AND I’ve had Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 on my mind. I heard a cover of one of their songs and it takes me back to that time. Herb Alpert fell in love with one of Sergio’s singers, Lani Hall, and they got married and it was all so cool with that Latin sound. Here’s a little clip of cool:



Doesn’t the sun look like Sergio Mendes?

Sergio says “Fall back Jude and relax, experience the joy of the moment.” It looks like the huge cross blocks out the clouds and fills the whole world.

I am generally not a big fan of little children on the sun card, it seems to have much more power than that, and yet, what is more powerful than regeneration and birth? A few draws ago I did a draw concerning hydrogen and talked about the sun, which meant more to me than the usual depiction of The Sun.

He’s got poppies in this card and I love poppies, I grow them in several gardens on the property. That sash over the baby looks very much like my woven scarf that I made on my new loom.

So, relax and feel joy and warmth. Dance a samba.

Tarot of the Saints Wrap-Up

April 1st, 2010

It’s a very human thing to want to wrap things nicely, so here are my observations:

It was never my intention to study the entire deck, I was merely curious about St. Helena, but then carried on. Originally I started this on a forum, which unfortunately jumped the shark to ultimate vacuity some years ago. So I took my study to this blog, and continued on, and on, and on. December 2006 to April Fool’s Day 2010.

Generally, I like to suspend disbelief when authors and artists create decks. They make an enormous effort to paint and write these things, so if they want to put someone startling on a card I figure I can learn from that. Most of the time Robert Place seems to have a very fresh vision of a subject that has been examined repeatedly. I disagreed a few times with him, but more with his historic conjecture than his system. The man is a superb artist and has my utmost respect for his skill in composition and illustration. I have seen people complain about the Minor cards in this deck, which are what are described as “semi-illustrated pips,” but I found their simplicity to be one of the best features of this deck, with some odd relationships there that caused me to think more deeply than the canned meanings of most tarot decks.

I would never undertake the commitment to study an entire 78 cards like this again unless I was writing a book myself on a deck. Which gives you an echo of how compelling I found Place’s work, and the history behind it. Kudos to Bob, I wish he would undertake a Dante deck.

I bought two large encyclopedias of Saints to use in this study, and a book depicting devotional cards of Saints, which have all become a valued part of my book collection, as has my paperback dictionary of Saints which was rescued from the garbage.

My writing is a personal study, and as such I wrote about how I reacted personally to the cards and the Saints themselves. I am haunted by some of the more horrific stories like St. Blandina and the martyrs of Lyons. My write-up for St. George was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but over years, some of these legends develop a humorous aspect that it is impossible not to see. Architecture comes into it a lot for me, and several of the images I used are from playing cards that depict art and statuary of the Saints. I also had a great time looking up some of the churches and reliquaries salient to each Saint. There was a rich, visual pleasure of Art with a capital “A” concomitant to studying the deck. I wrangled with The Sun card, perhaps offensively, but it offended my sensibility, so there it is.

I also feel sad, which was why I delayed finishing the study up in January. It’s hard when you make a commitment to something to let it go, but I have come to the end.