Herodotus of the Ether

Two in one day? Sort of. I have an I Ching draw for later but this was interesting.

Book Depository has a sale on of Oxford World’s Classics, many of them for under $7 and free shipping. I bought several classics a few years ago but there is one that caught my eye today, The Histories by Herodotus which gets good reviews for the translation by Robin Waterfield in this edition, and has lots of notes. Quirky mythology and stories about people, it sounds delightful, so I ordered it.

When I use the Via Tarot which is an unusual deck, I like to pair it with passages from a book in a random discombobulation. I was using a Thames and Hudson World of Art series book called Symbolist Art but I kept coming up with artist Odilon Redon and got frustrated by the lack of variety for discussion. The last time I used the deck it decided to go book-free.

Well, we can’t be having that bloody nonsense from a deck. So I’m going to foist Herodotus on it.

I now have to wait three weeks to get the book but it can be a cheap treat for January, and a whole new world to explore.

What say ye Via Tarot Daughters of Light?


The Sun, Moon, Art and Thoth Clones

Daily Draw October 23rd, 2011

I finally felt like sitting down with the new Sun and Moon Tarot. I pulled out five cards that appealed to me and then got some Thoth clones and pulled the corresponding cards.

The Fool
Art or Temperance
Ace of Disks
3 of Disks
7 of Cups or Debauch

The decks I chose to work worth for this comparison:

Parrott Tarot
Liber T Tarot
Haindl Tarot
Tarot of the Spirit
Tarot of the Sephiroth
Magickal Tarot
Universal Tarot
Via Tarot
Thoth Tarot

That’s a lot of cards to scan so I won’t discuss interminably. I chose The Fool because she depicted a crocodile on the card and to my mind that is only right and proper for a Thoth-like deck. I always look for the croc in Thoth clones! It disappoints me when he’s not there. Here I am batting six crocs out of ten. I can call him the 60 Per Cent Fool.

Mister Sixty Per Cent, a new jazz song by Kurt Elling. And you know who to call for lyrics Kurt. Oh and for those not familiar with my collection, I have a few demo decks that used to be kept on a chain in a tarot shop I loved to go to that has since closed. The Tarot of the Sephiroth is one of those, in case you’re wondering about the holes.


My absolute favourite in the Sun and Moon deck is XIV – Art-Temperance. I love the yin-yang aspect of the sky, it’s one of the most visually enticing takes I’ve ever seen on this card and worth the price of the deck. Here it is by itself because it’s my favourite.

Some of the cards have the eagle and lion, but most don’t. It’s hard to beat that wonderful depiction in the Via Tarot, which also reminds me of the Rohrig Tarot, another Thoth-y clone. There seems to be an odd asymmetry with regard to Thoth clones. Some use the same titling, some don’t, some are vague and some aren’t. As usual, I don’t care about nitpicking stuff like that. They are as they are, as they were created and envisioned. I take them that way.

Aren’t they lovely though? All kinds of colours going on and symbols, mixing and morphing and fire and volcanic outbursts. The card has lots of alchemical symbolism which is why Haindl called this card Alchemy.


The next one that really caught my eye was the Ace of Pentacles. I love simple Aces that have some sort of impact or unusual design element. Here she has used Sacred Geometry and leaves, presumably displaying their Fibonacci twists and turns as all good plants should. I love this depiction and I don’t usually like a lot of gold but with the blue it’s quite beautiful.

The Magickal Tarot uses a tree on this card, an oak, which is also a symbol I like. The rest use abstract wings and pentagrams or seven-points, ten points stars or circles. Everyone seems to have their own ideas, most often with wings or feathers, some roses, a cross or Maltese cross. Crowley had all kinds of stuff about the Mark of the Beast or his own motto, The Great Beast, and the Sun and Moon conjoined which you can see a suggestion of in some of these cards, a crescent for the moon and a circle for the sun.

I never thought if it before but we make paper money from trees, Frieda Harris suggests that in her green underlay which looks like the engraving on bills, so this is a nice, earthy tie-in to coins and disks. That’s one of those things I read about and forget but a comparison like this might cement it more in my mind.



I liked the Three of Pentacles in the Sun and Moon because it echoes the Rider-Waite model and yet manages to get some Thoth symbolism in the graffiti the figure is creating. Equilateral triangles, spokes, wheels, the tetrahedron on other cards; lots of alchemy roiling around here.



I’ve always loved the version of the 3 of Disks in the Parrott Tarot. The symbolism of the hand with the branch of a rose tree is clearer in this card, plus it has a goat for Capricorn which makes the astrological and Tree of Life references clearer.

And lastly, I pulled the Debauch card, which suggested being so full of water or alcohol that you could barely keep your head above water. There is also the feeling of going through the motions or treading water having sex with someone you don’t know or can’t remember. The idea of desperately holding onto someone, anyone, is something I find appealing with this. Years ago I did a study of the Debauch card, and the gunky, green fountain on the Thoth card reminded me of throwing up after drinking too much. Imagine gunking up a nice fountain with junk like that? The Via Tarot has lilies, one of my favourite flowers (I wore it in a corsage at my wedding), and the idea of burying that in vomit really gets the message across.

But that’s just me.



Oh yes, there is no doubt, it is very, very  useful to have several Thoth clones about to play with.

Happy Sunday!







The High Priestess Across Decks

Daily Draw August 17th, 2011

I recently entered my name in a giveaway for a new self-published deck, but I didn’t win so I have become shy of entering these things. However, they do give me inspiration for deck exploration, and that’s how I came to ponder The High Priestess card today, someone was asking people to enter the giveaway by talking about their favourite High Priestess card.

I rarely draw this card and the idea of spooky intuition or prescience doesn’t fit me so I rarely pay attention. I become uncomfortable when I’m reading cards and a knowing comes upon me, it seems too personal. I suppose most of us are pleased that we tune in, but it makes me uncomfortable.

So the old HP is someone I avoid. I avoid thinking about her qualities, I avoid tuning it to other people. Too close, too close.

While browsing through my collection I came upon a few HP cards that I like or studied. Some I thought “Wow, I don’t remember that one.”

I was going to save this for last but feel it fair to weed out the skimmers-of-blogs by telling you right away what my favourite HP is, or as close as I get to designating a favourite: the one from the Arthurian Tarot, the first edition with the gorgeous black borders, the Hallowquest Lady of the Lake.

The next set is very artsy I think. I often wonder why people insist that the Osho Zen deck is not tarot. It is one of my favourite decks, particularly when it comes to people or relationship matters. I think it sings and has terrific artwork, and I can’t see what all the fuss is about. Tarot is tarot, regardless of how you view themes or Osho himself.

These two are quite different. Nigel Jackson brings his own flavour to a conventional HP, but there is something about it or about the colours that makes it one of the better ones. The Via Tarot is always different and interesting.

Two of my favourites. If only U.S. Games still published interesting things like the Phantasmagoric deck, or like the Circle of Life by Lo Scarabeo. This is a good example of why I usually love Lo Scarabeo decks, they have such different takes on the archetypes and really good artwork.

The Silenus Tarot depicts the Oracle of Delphi, and the others are artsy. That Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA is a special deck because of its intense originality, poetry, and writing.

Like many others, I was immediately taken with The Seer from the Wildwood Tarot because of its fantastic art and concept. The Rumi has a great quote that is perfect for this card: “Mysteries are not communicable save to those who know.”

The Vacchetta has the classic look but I love the line art, and this is my own deck that I printed in olive green from one in the public domain. The Stella’s card is simply luscious in blue. I had a good study with this one.

The last set is just because they are neat in art and composition. I like them.

I find it hard to pin down one favourite either in a specific card or a deck. They are almost all interesting to me and have been favourites at some time. For me, if you have one true favourite it seems to exclude other possibilities, so I never really think of decks like that.

The Prickly Buffalo Has a Bickie

Daily Draw May 22nd, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve used the Via Tarot with my book on symbolist art. I find sometimes that a certain book will not be a suitable match for a deck. In this case, the book is interesting but not varied enough in subject matter to provide interest for the Via. Well, that’s what it told me, I don’t know.

It rooted around in my Thames and Hudson World of Art series of books, but decided not to pair itself with a book. It wants to stand alone, the bloody cheek of the thing, after I started a special category and made a special bookmark and everything.

These Thoth-based decks can be a handful, they have their own ideas.


At least I was able to foist a custom vintage gradient and a new Photoshop brush on it.

That woman at the bottom seems a bit squashed by the weight of those layers above her. I think I have pulled this card before.

Perhaps the cheeky buffalo at the top is pretending abeyance but merely stretching its hamstrings before galloping off. Yes, completely ignoring you, it decides it has had enough of Odilon Redon and wants to smell the sweetgrass and contemplate life alone, without the prompt of random passages from art books. The subtle difference between obey and abeyance gives me a smile with this.

That lady at the bottom has put enormous effort into holding this sphere up with her large hands, but now it’s all for nothing if that buffalo won’t comply with the study.

Dang, why does this happen on a Sunday? I’m messing around, with the plan mapped out in my head and now this. See, the book explains how the sevens are in the position of Netzach on the tree of life, which is not a balanced area and can be unstable. Titled The Lord of Failure, this card is about restriction, delay, things not happening as you had planned and a feeling of limited opportunity (the squashed lady) and hesitation. The dashes in the artwork look like animal fur and the lady is surrounded by barbed wire—makes me think of porcupines. Prickly, insurmountable obstacles.

Rats. Maybe a day for cups of tea and a book.

And a bickie….

This Card Reminds Me of That Goddess

It’s time for new deck comparison with the Mythical Goddess Tarot. A bit of a tour today but that’s what you get when something neat comes in through the door.

Before I get going here’s one that seemed familiar but I cannot find the comparison card. I’m sure I’ve got one with a person on puppet strings. If anyone knows of one tell me in an e-mail through my web site, I’d appreciate it.

I found one last night from The Love Pack, but it isn’t the one I was thinking of. Somewhere out there is another puppet on a string.

Still searching, I found four more and now I’ve seen so many cards I can’t remember if any of these is the one I remember. Oh well, as you can see, it’s a popular archetype.

There is an old song called Puppet on a String by Sandie Shaw. It’s from the sixties, but it stayed in my mind.

A couple of these cards struck me right away. There are probably several examples that are similar to this, but these are the two comparators that I immediately thought of.

This imagery of a face with a mask or a face morphing into another person or animal is very archetypal. There might be more examples in card decks but these were the ones I had in my collection.

I was amazed at how many comparators I thought of in the Rohrig Tarot, which is one of my all-time favorite decks.

I love these trees, and again there are probably several more examples that I didn’t think of. The Prudence card in the Rohrig is one of my favourite cards in any deck. It reminds me of jazz pianist Brad Mehldau’s version of the Beatles song Dear Prudence, which is one of the better things I’ve heard in the last few years.

This was another good one, I’d forgotten about the one in the Songs for the Journey Home deck until I opened it looking for something else.

Welcome to the flowing world of love and Waterfallia.

Some quickies that simply struck me as I went along. I like realistic crows on cards. I probably have more in decks but this was enough for me. It reminds me of Diana Krall’s version of a Joni Mitchell song called Black Crow.

The face of Fear made me laugh and I showed it to my husband and he laughed because this is the face I make when something happens in our lives to make me anxious. I go up to him with this face and do a silent scream, just like this picture. How delightful that this is an archetype and not just me!

I love the strong impasto techniques in the bottom two. The Tarots Suzan M. is an oracle deck that I trimmed.

Blue mermaids and the white buffalo.

This has been a real pleasure to work with. I’m not into the whole Sacred Feminine thing, but the art in this deck is so good and refreshing, as are the ideas, that I’m glad I found it.

Make sure you play Dear Prudence at least five times.

I feel like that black crow flying, in a blue sky. . . .

Amid the Soap Suds, Stars

Daily Draw January 24th, 2010

Today I’m back to my rotating Eccentric Studies. Feeling like a bit of art today, I am reaching for the Via Tarot and my Symbolist Art book.

For various reasons, my husband and I are a bit down today. Usually in marriage, if one person gets down the other can pull them up and provide some balance. I’m afraid it isn’t going to work today. We both had a shower and cleaned up and I’m cutting paper and doing laundry while he watches golf on TV.

You do what you can to lift yourselves up. I actually find doing laundry a cheerful thing!!


Usually a card of nostalgia and memory of the past, the Via is a Thoth-based deck so will probably have a different spin on it. I suppose after all these years I should simple remember meanings but I don’t always, I find it more exciting and fresh that way, as are my responses. As I’ve said, I often don’t remember the order of the Major cards–it is pointless to me. I just like to go with what comes up. What could be easier and lighter?

Here we are in the realm of The Glory of the Great Dragon and enjoyment and harmony. Pleasure in all forms, even laundry. So perhaps a Zen koan type of day. I like the last line in the book: “Commencement of a period of steady improvement in personal conditions.”

And from the book Symbolist Art by Edward Lucie-Smith:

Hahahaha, I have put my finger on a self-portrait of artist Edvard Munch, the fellow who painted The Scream.

He was considered ahead of his time, but his work led others to Modernism. He was risky, nervy, his paintings full of raw emotion, and the author thinks highly of him. Munch wanted to paint both shocking emotion and the results of them, not just a moment in time but a living portrait of people who feel and suffer and love in the history of the Self.

Similar to my thoughts on Odilon Redon, it’s odd that men of such strangled emotional times could seriously embrace this kind of art. Think how risky that really was. History doesn’t let us know that men have feelings, but art does.

Munch did a lot of self-portraits. I am unable to find this one online but here it is scanned from the book. This one has an odd harlequin or clown above his head. Perhaps it’s a dragon, laughing at how serious and gloomy he is? Notice though how the composition of Munch’s portrait and the Via card are similar. That’s what I love about random draws, one wonders who in the Universe is having a laugh, but it’s delightful.

Looking at the card, the daughter is holding the dragon up. I shall lift us up amid soap suds and cups of water leading to the stars, past fear, past the dragon.

The Root of the Soul

Daily Draw July 16th, 2009

Time for the Via Tarot and a random roll through Symbolist Art by Edward Lucie-Smith.

The relevant Symbolist quote:

“If we look through Redon’s work with this particular preoccupation in mind, we can discover most of the standard Symbolist properties – masks, snaky monsters, severed heads, femme fatales, new interpretations of Classical mythology. But what matters is the very personal way in which they are interpreted. Redon claimed that he was constantly being surprised by his own art, while Maurice Denis, who admired his work greatly, declared ‘the lesson of Redon is his powerlessness to paint anything which is not representative of a state of soul, which does not express some depth of emotion, which does not translate an interior vision’. Of all the masters of Symbolist art, he is the most consistently convincing.”


This card also specifically mentions “soul,” and a united mind and body with no conflict between inner and outer selves. Wealth, riches in the material world, abundance, all these wrap into a contentment with the energy of the Ace, the purest condition.

Perhaps as a man, who in societal expectation was supposed to rein in emotion, Redon was surprised when he saw the depth of emotion he was capable of expressing in his art? After all, it’s really not done is it? We can’t be having men expressing emotion in our society or terrible consequences will occur. How awful the civilization that expects one gender to be less than human, to have less soul.

How kind is Art to let a man express his soul when the society he lives in condemns such a thing. Rooted to the Earth, he has no need of conflict between the inner and outer self, but can achieve the purest condition of the Ace of Disks through art and the representation of the soul.

Two illustrations on the facing pages in the book are Redon’s The Sun Chariot of Apollo with Four Horses and the whispering miasma in the coils of The Green Death. Apollo harnessed his emotion and power and brought light and music to the world in his interior vision. The Green Death is somewhat  indefinable  as many of Redon’s artworks are. Maybe the thought of Death made him feel greenly sick or perhaps the figure is from a dream rising from the chasm of his soul? What strikes me most about his work is that he didn’t get hung up about photo-realism or capturing things exactly as is fashionable today, nor did he dither about at great expense taking a masterclass from the chi-chi artist of the moment. The minutiae of detail didn’t bog him down, he painted what he felt, what was going through his mind, his Self.



I think The Root of the Powers of the Earth would want that sort of action. How refreshing it is in a sea of sameness to see this purest of conditions held up: the power to be your Self, to be rooted. The image on the card looks as if she held the rose up, and it was so light and pure that it started to float out of her hands, like a soul flying.