Rise Along the Road Yon Blue-Robed One


31 – The Rubaiyat
Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
And many Knots unravel’d by the Road;
But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate


I assume this is Apollo or Helios with the sun on his headdress, riding the Chariot of the sun using rams instead of horses because the horses were getting their manes braided this particular morning. If so, there is an interesting bit of history that in the ancient world, Saturn was once referred to as The First Sun, thus tying in to the card from The Mystic Rubaiyat.

If not, then perhaps Apollo commandeered a chariot to rise up and ride Saturn and maybe have a chat about logical positivism with the dead. As you do.





Okanagan Oracle Colour Study 6: Protection

If you bother me I’ll clobber you with my chestnut conkers.

PROTECTION – Okanagan Oracle
4 DRAGONFLY – MAGIC – SOUTH GUARDIAN – Wisdom of the Four Winds
II – The Mystic Rubaiyat by Penelope Cline
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
TALL TAIL – Charley Harper Birds Postcards


Oh no, another brown card. But wait shoppers, we have several shades of greens and golds, and chestnut, beige, and black so not just brown.

Wilderness is paradise with the planning power of squirrel and the swiftness of the road runner, the iridescence of dragonfly among reeds, a canopy of oh so many greens, and you picking up conkers for protection as you pull the sleeves of your black sweater down to keep your hands warm.

Storing energy for protection. I had a day yesterday when I pulled these cards where I sat around in my nightie and thick red sweater all day, needing a shower but wanting to snuggle under blankets and read and watch dog shows on television. A bit like Fall, the feeling of Autumn, but it’s Spring and I must go about today after my day of rest and protection, thinking green thoughts of growth and the shimmer of dragonflies in the heat.

Reeds make a good breathing tube, like a tall cactus in the desert reaches for sky.



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.



This Tarot of Fire Card Reminds Me of That Old Man

Daily Draw June 4th, 2011

I bought The Tarot of Fire deck knowing it wasn’t perfect in its artwork, but knowing that the classic Lo Scarabeo quirkiness of meaning was back in force, I felt compelled to buy it. I like it much better than the Pagan Cats, which was way too bland in its rigorous attachment to Rider-Waite imagery. Poor LS, people complain about one thing or another and they are caught in the middle.

I’ll get the negative bits out of the way first. They’ve used computer generated figures on this which gives some of the cards a goofy lack of expression. I had the Poser software once and I found the absence of expression disconcerting and still do. There is just something missing, but they’ve managed to pull it out of the fire and make some charming cards. (Pun!)

The other really odd thing is the greenish cast to the fire in many of these cards. Green fire? Bad day with printing proofs or something fellas? Instead of fire, it’s more like green ice in some images which is weird. God has green hair instead of gold on one card.

Apart from that I was immediately hooked and liked the deck, I liked that they were all over the place with world mythology, I kept seeing images that reminded me of other decks, which is part of the fun for me in getting a new deck, and away I went. This is a keeper. It may not be an “A” level deck, but it has some solid information on mythology that will lead to greater exploration, and charming imagery.

This is where the old man comes into it, I saw this card and was reminded of the Osho Zen Tarot. Aren’t they a perfect match? In The Tarot of Fire he is illustrating a Chinese myth about animals contributing to the discovery of fire. This little bird was hoping he could get some millet seed for his trouble but the man is busy. What’s this, too busy for the birdie after he helped you discover fire? What kind of a deal is that Grasshopper?

My husband keeps asking me how I remember when I have a similar card, especially since I’ve now got 350 decks. I don’t remember them all but I’ve worked with many of these decks for years so they tend to stay in my visual memory. When the artwork hits your eye, that means it’s good. I saw this chap on the Justice card and out came Osho again. This Tarot of Fire card shows the Egyptian god Osiride on his throne in the Underworld.

Although I didn’t remember this card outright, while I had the Osho Zen out I browsed through it and this one went well with a card I had already pulled out of The Tarot of Fire because it struck me as a good one. The butterfly seems to have the face of a Siamese cat on his wings. The cat is attracted to that fire green candle, while heavily under the influence of Dylan Thomas’s poem Fern Hill obviously.

This references the myth of Eros and Psyche because Eros is the flame of desire that Psyche cannot resist. In this picture, he’s been sucking on a lime green popsicle for refreshment and she, arising from her chair after reading Thomas, finds herself drawn to his ice green flaming lips. I dare you to forget what this card means after that explanatory notation. Hey, I can roll with these Lo Scarabeo booklets, I’m with it, I’m there.

A story to every card, that’s my imperative.

And then the hand of god came into the picture, or rather Zeus. Back to some Greek mythology and Hephaestus forging thunderbolts for Zeus, which reminded me of one of my all-time favourite cards from The Mystic Rubaiyat by Penelope Cline. Destiny, thunder, the hand of Zeus and fire forging our lives and firing up our creativity.

These four cards were ones that struck me and I pulled them out. I really loved that they put Pompeii being destroyed by the volcano Vesuvius on this Tower card. If you’ve ever seen the archaeological digs of Pompeii and Herculaneum, you can see the way the people died, huddled together; it is very poignant. It brings some depth to this card, which as an archetype can become something we take for granted.

The Fool is great, he is an Alf or Drac from Germanic mythology, and LS describes him as a goblin that lives in homes, a ball of fire that enters through the chimney. The Fool as a fiery Santa figure. I thought it was interesting and will look up the legends concerning this goblin later.

The Moon is lovely too—another card that can become worn out in stereotype. Here the snake is bringing man the fire of knowledge and momentarily checking the illusions of the moon. What I really like though is the spider, which brings to mind creation myths of a spider goddess, plus Anansi the trickster spider from African mythology.

That lovely black swan on the 5 of Swords is from an Australian myth, where the swan saves fire (presumably for man) but does not realize the witch is with him. While I did find an aboriginal myth about black swans, I haven’t yet found the particular myth about fire and the black swan and a witch.

And lastly I come to the 6 of Swords which so reminded me of several cards that I had to pull them all. This depicts a Hebrew myth and the purifying flames goes from red to white according to the booklet. But those stairs, those thin, winding stairs are what piqued my interest.

One court card caught my eye, the Queen of Chalices, who is drawing the sign of the rune “Ken” on a rock. I loved the note in the booklet: “The Queen is a dreamer seeking a way of expressing herself through art.” This is probably one of the few Cups Queens across decks that speaks to me. Ken has several meanings and is supposed to represent a torch flame. I like that it is associated with Heimdall as I put Heimdall on the bag I made for the Lord of the Rings Tarot.

It also reminds me of a card I drew from the Instant Oracle in this post that I titled The Secret Writer.

Another successful deck. I will enjoy rummaging through this periodically and reading up on the mythology.

Dhanvantari Visits a Few Decks

Daily Draw May 25th, 2011

Yesterday I was feeling very tired, my skin had no colour, I was having trouble breathing which is a sign that my blood pressure has risen too far, and I felt restless. I took out two volumes of Stuart Kaplan’s Encyclopedia of Tarot and had a browse, which picked me up. Then I took a couple of decks out to look at and I felt happier.

When I was looking at the Gods and Goddesses Deck, I kept coming back to one card Dhanvantari, who is an avatar of Vishnu that removes physical suffering and frees you from disease for greater well-being. Dhanvantari is supposed to have created Ayurvedic medicine and was one of the world’s first surgeons. I like that he is holding a pot of nectar or elixir that came from the churning of the ocean, the story that made me interested in Hindu mythology several years ago.

The meditation for this card suggests that simply remembering him removes all suffering.

Taking that card as my cue, I pulled a random assortment of decks and went through each one to pull a card from each that spoke to me of well-being, health, or a peaceful, healing mood. I often do comparisons with cards as a way of centering myself and to quiet my mind. It helps me pay attention and become aware. These were chosen just on feeling, regardless of the written connotations of the cards. I’m a visual person, and art and colour make me attentive. I started this when the computer was turned off and I turned off the radio too and had a nice visit with decks.

Songs for the Journey Home
The Perfect Calm Deck
Tarot of the Spirit
Circle of Life Tarot
The Mystic Rubaiyat
Tarot of Casanova

It’s amazing to me how some of these cards have similar colouring of quiet greys, blues and soft yellow or gold. I wasn’t conscious of picking cards by colour, just the feeling of peace engendered by a card.

The back massage brings to mind the expression “I’ve got your back” and also the feeling of support from another person. Sometimes when I’m hugging my husband I squeeze tightly and say I’m pushing out the bad air, which is like a lung massage I suppose. This tells me to look after my lungs and heart, and the image of birds soaring supports the idea of the freedom of natural breathing, air and outdoor exercise.

Here are some more greys, yellows and blues. I liked the feeling of bathing in the light or being covered by light. In the Circle of Life deck she is grounded in the sand—the feeling or warm sand as the ground holds the heat is comforting and supportive as well. The other one has a cloudy square behind it and seems to have a metallic frame that sparkles up with the light. Clouds, lungs, heart, the centre bathed in shimmering white light.

I used to row myself about in a small dinghy (several of them over time) while growing up. It was fun to pull the boat to shore and explore the woods and rocks, similar to this picture. Again, the light in this picture is very soothing like the dawn coming when you have risen early and are watching the smooth water and hearing the fish jump in the morning. There is a peaceful quality to nature at dawn, like in the chapter from the book The Wind in the Willows titled The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The great God Pan is alive in the trees and water and the cool refreshment of an awakening day.

I have no idea why I picked the Tarot of Casanova for this study. I saw it and left it but then felt compelled after I’d drawn the other cards to go back and pull a card from it. This card leaped out at me, a card I don’t even remember from the deck. I think this echoes the word “ascend” from yesterday’s card. The wheel ascends and descends but here I can only see ascension. There is something a bit spooky about the recesses, cool and dank like a coming dawn, a place to hide, to cool down, to reflect. Shadows and light like the card from The Mystic Rubaiyat, stealing light, coming and going, up and down.

Really, there is something beneficial about fiddling around with card images. Comfort comes in small packages and quiet moments.

The Winding Sheet of Poetry

Daily Draw August 8th, 2010

From the Mystic Rubaiyat:


Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash my Body whence the Life has died,
And in the Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,
So bury me by some sweet Garden-side.

This deck has seventy-five cards in it and the original Rubaiyat has over 400 quatrains. Fitzgerald was a bit selective when translating and re-grouping the quatrains, so it has a lot of his flavour to it, which is what makes it enchanting to compare translations and essays about it. One of these days when I am flush with money I must try for some other translations.

There is something about watercolour that brings out reflective qualities in the gazing. Penelope’s watercolours are lovely in this deck.

Now, does he mean to give him some wine while he’s dying, or to provide mourners with wine at his funeral or perhaps pour a libation on the ground for him at his funeral? Obviously the former, but the artwork does suggest the latter two options. Winding sheet and garden, the garden understands the end of life and the sweetness of life and death.

I notice that although we don’t speak of it, humans periodically long for death, the peace of that is enticing, as the gentle water and reflective trees suggest here. How horrible to admit it, which is why you never hear people stating such things. Who was it that said death was the last taboo? We are supposed to love life and thank god every day for the gift of life, but this is not a sustainable attitude, particularly over 90 years of life. It’s going to swing the other way at times.

How beautiful to romanticize and imagine such a lovely death and funeral. Yes, I’ll have a sip of wine to easy my pain and fog the brain, then when I die, wash my body and use vine leaves as a shroud for me and heave me into the earth of a garden, where I will be cradled by its sweetness. In the imagery and poetic words lies the peace. You don’t have to die to find peace, just read some poetry and sit in the garden, letting the day fade away, the winding sheet of calm embracing you.

Neither in the Desert nor the Garden

Daily Draw June 19th, 2010

I had a nightmare and had to get up for a while at 3:30 a.m. Here’s the cure for nightmares: Latin translation. I’ve got five sentences to translate. I’m as slow as syrup doing this but I like to putter. Language translation is like a puzzle, and puzzles are fun.

I have decided to give another read to Thomas Moore’s book Dark Nights of the Soul as I seem to be missing something transformative in my particular ordeal of life. Troubling periods are not necessarily depressive, and too many people depend on a magic pill or curative or dubious interference from doctors.  Sometimes it’s not as easy as “Get over it” or flipping a switch between moods.

Humans simply aren’t machines. All the psychobabble in the world won’t change that. I like Moore’s sentence: “A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start.”

This is where I am.

And from the Mystic Rubaiyat:

That’s odd, I was thinking of this card as I was shuffling, as I pulled it once before.


With me along some strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the Desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultán scarce is known,
And pity Sultán Mámúd on his Throne.

The strip is like a no man’s land between worlds. You are in neutral, neither in the desert nor the garden, not worrying about going anywhere or what your position in life is. There is a whiff of letting go of responsibility and suspending time and simply being.