tarot cards

Weekly Card – Justice!

Justice

 

Justice from the Victorian Romantic Tarot. Justice is a card of…well, justice. Balancing things, weighing them evenly. Possibly being called to account for your actions. A judgement in your favor. Fairness and the rule of law.

Time to think logically, but balance rigid logic with the intuition, perhaps some compassion. Don’t let the letter of the law defeat the spirit of the law.

Here we have the Angel of Justice vanquishing a fallen angel. Under her left foot is a broken sword with two doves of peace close by. The original painting was by E. Butler, entitled “Angel of Peace” and she originally held an olive branch rather than scales. She wears a crown of laurel leaves, an ancient symbol of victory.

Not much time tonight, so I’m keeping this short. Just remember: the sword of Justice cuts both ways. Here’s hoping everything will go in your favor this week.

From Russia (and Czech Republic, and Finland) with love

I feel like I’ve pulled off something of a coup here. I managed to snag a much sought after deck of Tarot cards, published by Baba Studios (Magic Realist Press) in Prague: The Victorian Romantic – Russian!

The deck was so loved in English that it was being pirated in other countries, with bootleg editions being printed and sold by certain Russian dealers. To stem this tide, Magic Realist Press licensed an authorized version to be published in Russia, with all card titles and the accompanying little white book (LWB) in Russian as well. They were actually printed in Finland, and took a very circuitous route to Prague, through Russia (back and forth a couple of times… it got to be comical after awhile as Karen posted updates on its whereabouts). Most copies of the deck went to Russian authorized resellers, but MRP got approximately 250 copies to sell themselves, knowing we, their rabid fans, could not live without one. Karen Mahoney initially released them in a few small, timed batches on their Web site back in December, and again in January, and try as I might I was never quick enough to actually score one.

Enter Twitter.

I happened to be online a couple of weeks ago and refreshing my Twitter stream one morning at work when a tweet from Baba Studios went out announcing 20 more decks up for sale on their site. I didn’t think, didn’t hesitate, didn’t breathe, just popped over and logged in to my account there and just like in a fairytale, managed to buy one! I actually did it, I actually managed to get one in my cart and hit the “pay now” in some kind of record time. Seriously, in FOUR MINUTES they were all gone. For the people who got the announcement in the newsletter Karen sends out, it was already too late. There are copies now going for upwards of $300 on EBay, not including the three Karen is auctioning off to raise money for a new camera for her partner Alex to use in their business. So go Karen! Better you guys get the money for the decks (last I checked one of the auctions was at $152 with several days yet to go). Many of us had despaired of ever getting our hands on one of these decks. The resellers descend like vultures, scooping them up by the handfuls for face value then posting them on EBay almost instantly for something like a 500% mark-up. The retail price is €26, or $35US. So you can imagine how frantic some of us were to get our hands on one of these beauties at the retail price, rather than wait and have to mortgage our homes or sell our children for one later.

Ahem.

So, on to the cards. Oh sigh, so pretty. Since the titles are in Cyrillic, I had to go to Baba’s Web site to look up some of the cards. Some I was able divine (heh) by the illustrations, some I know from having seen the English versions, but a few were a mystery to me. One I did know, and one of the main reasons I wanted this Russian version, is this extra Emperor card. Karen was asked by the Russian publisher to create a more ‘traditional’ Emperor, as they felt the original Emperor in the VR deck would not resonate with the Russian audience. (in case there’s any question, the Emperor is the one on the right below, on the left is the Knight of Swords)

Emperor and K of Swords The borders aren’t actually pink, in case your monitor make it look like they are (which mine does, although they seemed to scan in ok, maybe it’s this program). I did try to adjust the color of the images a tad, the Emperor’s robe is a really rich red on the actual card.

Luckily, all the cards can be seen at the Victorian Romantic Web site, with the titles in English. I managed to figure out most of them, but a couple were surprises. It does follow the Waite-Smith conventions for the most part, although not slavishly. Karen’s humor and ingenuity have some interesting and lovely surprises.

VR Russian Knight of Pentacles Here’s the Knight of Pentacles. None of the suits are simple variants of Waite’s deck, they don’t simply depict the number emblems on the pip cards.

The Nine of Pentacles VR Russian Nine of Pentacles gives us the lady in her garden, but nary an actual pentacle in sight.

The Six of Swords shows us the boat on the water, but that’s as close as you get to the standard imagery.

VR Russian Six of Swords

My only regret with this deck is not being able to read the LWB, or have a book that explains what the source artwork is, unlike Kat Black’s Touchstone Tarot that lists all the artwork used in the deck. Karen did mention that maybe, just maybe, they will reprint the deck in English, as early as next year, but that’s NOT definite. There does seem to be still a great demand for this deck so I am still hopeful of a copy in English (although I think I’ve already got them all figured out after looking at the Web site to fill in the ones I couldn’t make out on my own). It was voted 2006 Deck of the Year on the Aeclectic Tarot site, but for whatever reason there were still a lot of us who missed out on it, and so many new people discovering it just now that I think they could easily do another healthy print run. I know I’ll be in line for a deck/book kit if they get around to it. (hint-hint, Karen!)

I will say the cardstock is much thinner than I had anticipated. It’s not the thick sturdy stock used in the Bohemian Gothic, so I am a little afraid of damaging the cards. Gentle shuffling seems to be called for here. They would certainly look lovely framed, if I decide not to use it to read with, but I have to be touching my decks all the time. The lamination seems good, but they bend so easily I would recommend extra care when using them.

So stand by if it gets reprinted in English, these babies will go like hotcakes!

Tarot Samples

For those who may be interested, I’ve been posting daily card pulls up under the Tarot tab at the top. In August and September, I used one deck for the month, but this month I’m rotating through some of my collection, using a different deck every day. If you’re interested in seeing what a random sample card from some of my decks looks like check out the October daily pulls. If you see one in the list of decks I own that you’d like me to use one day to see a card (no guarantees which card it will be, though ;) ) let me know.

Anna K Tarot

Thursday the mail finally brought my Anna K tarot which I pre-ordered months ago, and oh my my, I am just stunned, impressed, obsessed, delighted, charmed, and lots of other really good adjectives. This is the second edition, I never even knew about the first edition, sadly. The artist is Anna Klaffinger, who lives in Austria. Anna was kind enough to offer to autograph either the book or box, at your request. I asked her to sign the guide book, which she did.

This is a beautiful production, from the wonderful box to the excellent guide book, to the actual cards themselves.
Anna K Tarot

The box is wide and shallow, housing half of the deck in each of the two wells. The guidebook and cover show a black & white image of the High Priestess card, and I have to say this is one of my favorite HPs cards I’ve ever seen. The book is 80 pages long, with basic information on Tarot cards, meanings as well as b&w images of each card, tips on reading, spreads, a short bibliography and space for notes.

As for the cards, they’re on good cardstock, and lightly laminated, with rounded corners. And the colors are rich, vibrant, lively. You can actually see all of the cards on Anna’s Web site, but they’re smaller than real life, and the scans do not do them justice. Here are the Sun, Moon and Star:

Anna K Sun, Moon and Star

These are higher resolution scans than I normally put up because I really want to show how gorgeous these cards are. One of the interesting things about this particular trio is they do not have the usual people or animals you see in the Waite-Smith deck or its many clones. There are no baying hounds or crayfish in the Moon card, no children on horseback or anywhere else in the Sun, no woman pouring water in the Star. The World card, which you can see in the first photo, also is missing the typical dancer figure in a medallion, although that’s not unheard of.

The titles are tiny, they don’t overpower the card, and the borders are nearly non-existent! Yay! I hate those enormous borders that are half the card in some decks. Each of the minors has one color for the border, but the Majors seem to have several different colors, and I don’t know yet if there is a system to that. There’s brown, gold, black, blue, a reddish-brown, dark gray. I may have missed some, I’m not in the best light right now.

For the most part, it follows the Waite-Smith, but there are definite original takes on many of the cards. In this deck, Justice is VIII (8) and Strength is IX (11). The minors adhere to Cups, Rods, Swords and Pentacles, with Rods related to Fire and Swords to Air. Here are three of the minors:

6Swords, Ace of Cups, Page of Pentacles

The characters depicted are sturdy, solid folk, no ephemeral wisps in the bunch. These people are earthy, and strong. I love the style.

I am getting so spoiled with all these incredible decks I’ve been acquiring lately, I’ve even quit looking for others. Just waiting on my Bohemian Gothic next month, and I think I’m going to be set for awhile (except for a special deck I’ve reserved by an artist in Spain. It’s not even finished yet). I’ve let a few go on EBay that I was bidding on, decided they weren’t worth it. The Alice Tarot from Baba Studio is postponed until next summer, which will give me lots of time to spend with these latest arrivals.

So, who needs a reading? :)

To Infinity, and Beyond!

Well, maybe not that long.

Spurred by a comment from Chazz with regard to what the future may hold for this blog, and encouraged by my dear friend, MaryJBlog, I did a short three-card reading on what the future has in store for my little corner of the blogosphere. I broke out the lovely new Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, thinking it was a good time to take it for a spin, and with the lovely images I figured it had to be a bright, positive reading. And it was! I won’t become a millionaire by doing this, but it looks to be a good run for as long as it lasts.

Shadowscapes King of PentaclesFirst card – The King of Pentacles. Kings typically signify someone who has achieved their place in life, settled and matured. They can be either a person, or stand for aspects of someone’s personality. In this case, I’m reading it as aspects of the blog’s personality (actually, mine, I suppose). I think I’ve established who I am, my blogging style. Those of you who read this blog pretty much know what you can expect to find here, I think.

Now, as to this particular King, we see him as both man and tree, and the dragon at his feet, all part of one whole, with deep roots reaching into the heart of the earth. He is well-rooted, stable. The base of it, of course, is my love for writing, and I’ve built a good foundation here. The acorn he holds in his hand is glowing, pulsing, as if it’s ready to sprout, and spread its energy on and out. Maybe I’m going to explode ;)

Shadowscapes Eight of PentaclesSecond card – Eight of Pentacles. Pentacles are all about solidity, being grounded in the day-to-day, dependability. The Eight shows someone (in this case a spider) hard at work at a trade or craft. Isn’t this the prettiest rendition of a spider you’ve ever seen? Our little spider’s web is glowing with dewy stars from her night’s work. She’s a craftsman, learning her trade, working diligently. To achieve further success with the blog I will have to keep working at my trade, my writing, but for the person in the Eight of Pents, it’s a labor of love, a passion. It’s an endless apprenticeship, as writing is. To learn to do something, and do it well, requires putting your heart into it. I think I’ve managed the heart-in-it part. At the risk of giving the Universe the opportunity to play a cosmic joke on me, sometimes I get annoyed while at my day job that I can’t spend as much time as I’d like writing. (Aside to The Cosmos: This does not mean I need to lose my job, ok? Just want to be very clear about that).

Last card – Three of Cups. Well, can you ask for more than that? PAR-TAY! Lots of celebratory happiness. Allow me to quote from the Shadowscapes Tarot book, by Barbara Moore:

The Three of Cups is a call to celebration, dancing and singing. Friendship is its key component, and companionship, relying on others, and developing community and team spirit.

I’m going to have to change the name of the blog to “Filling Spaces & Lounge: We Never Close.” Get those champagne glasses back out!

Nero would have loved EBay

As some of you know, I am a Tarot deck collector. I have slowly acquired a few decks over the years, but this has now turned into a full-blown, time (and money) consuming addiction. Previously I would allow myself one or two decks a year, and had since the early 1990s built up a tiny collection of roughly fifty decks, not all of which are strictly Tarot: Gypsy Witch cards, a Mlle. Lenormand deck, Angel Blessings oracle, Oracle of the Radiant Sun and a couple others I can’t think of just now.

The real slide into infamy got started back in December when I stumbled across a forum specifically for people who share my passion for collecting Tarot cards. Bunch of enablers, really, but good folks. I was interested in buying a particular deck, but I’m the type who has to see some of the cards before I plunk down money on a deck, and so naturally a Web search ensued to find scans of the cards. Well, I found ‘em, at the Tarot Collectors Forum, got the info I needed and bought the deck. That was the Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night. Yum. I love it to death. After that, I discovered that the guy who runs the forum, Adam McLean, issues some lovely limited edition art decks, and so obviously I had to have one of those (you may remember, the Goth Tarot by Winny). By then, of course, the damage was done. I was in deep into this collecting stuff.

And the latest chapter in this gruesome saga is I have discovered the evils of EBay. Oh yes, there are many temptations there. Luckily, I am somewhat knowledgeable on the subject of Tarot and have other sources for cards, so am not easily taken in by some of the overpriced offerings. Why, just last night I nabbed a brand new, still shrink-wrapped, long out-of-print Ansata deck for $25. Score! There are two used copies from other sellers to bid on, starting at $49. Not going to partake of those particular tussles. I’m still a cheapskate, what can I say?

I don’t always bid, but sometimes like to ‘watch’ items of interest if they’re something I’d like but know they’re going to end up out of my reach. This morning a deck I had been watching for several days (whose bid price exceeded my reach days ago) with a “current bid” of $255 jumped to $615 at the very LAST second. It appeared to be a very old copy of the Waite-Smith deck in a blue cloth-covered box, although the seller claimed not to know much about it (I found that a little disingenuous judging by the description and some of the other offerings from the same person). Sometimes it’s fun to just sit back and watch the carnage.

One of the more unusual items I’ve picked up was a handmade deck called The Film Noir tarot. And when they said ‘handmade’ they meant it. Some of the cards look like they were cut out by five-year-olds. Probably the nicest thing about it is the little tin it came in and the bag. It’s a Majors-only deck, and some of images are so grainy you can barely make out who’s in the pictures. It features images from old films (quelle surprise), and I don’t know how the creator obtained the images but some of them have the quality of really old, bad photos from newspapers. Luckily it also included several decoder cards, listing the name of the actor or actress pictured and which movie the image is from. Some I could identify on my own, most not. I have to admit, after spending some time looking through it this morning to photograph it, it is a fun, quirkly little deck, and one of only four created.

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I have foolishly let others slip through my fingers that I should have gone for. But, as I said, I have other sources so all is not lost.

Apart from reading and studying the cards (and another post on that is brewing), the artwork fascinates me, and is a terrific tool for inspiring writers.

UPDATE: 4/4/2010: It looks like another version of the Film Noir Tarot was created back in 2005. Two of the cards can be seen on Adam McLean’s site here. It looks like a more polished version. Now I wonder if the one I got was a prototype that the artist finally decided to sell off. Interesting. The images on the cards on Adam’s site are much clearer than the ones in the deck I have, which look like they’ve been photocopied too many times.