Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘personal

Someone on my Twitter feed suggested I draw some cards for the solstice. So yesterday, I did get up early, and I did a spread for solstice before I went to work.

I am using Evvie Marin’s Summer Solstice Tarot Spread. I had seen this spread a while back, jotted it in my Tarot journal a couple of years back. When I went to look for a spread this year, I figured a few Tarot folks would have shared a spread or two online for the observance. I could not find one, but fortunate for me I had saved Marin’s spread, which served me well.


Summer Solstice Tarot spread by Evvie Martin

Summer Solstice Tarot spread by Evvie Marin


Card positions and reading. As noted, The Sun-19, is in the center position. I am using the Gaian Tarot for this spread (link to my review of the Gaian Tarot deck). The card affirmations come from the deck’s companion book.

My summer solstice spread before revealing the cards. In the center is the Sun-19 card.

My summer solstice spread before revealing the cards. In the center is the Sun-19 card.


My summer solstice spread, cards revealed.

My summer solstice spread, cards revealed.


  1. Recover and renew: Ten of Water (Ten of Cups). Soak up energy to make it to that last stretch. Ask what needs to come to an end so rebirth can happen. What legacy am I leaving behind for others? What do I leave so others can grow? Leave the old behind and move into the new. Card’s affirmation: “I have given my best and can rest assured that love will continue to flow” (134).
  2. Rest and relax: Six of Fire (Six of Wands). Rest and relax more. I need to remember that even if I do things quietly, those who need to know will know; the rest of them do not really matter. Take the time to express yourself creatively, just for the fun of it. Things are working out, take some time, rest, celebrate. Take small breaks and be grateful for and enjoy the good you have. You’ve worked for it and earned, so live a little. Card’s affirmation: “I passionately celebrate myself and my tribe” (112).
  3. Rumpus and romp: The Tree- 12 (The Hanged Man- XII). In moments of quiet and solitude. This is a good time to take a little time off, go off, and see things from a new perspective. Theme should be go do something different, see something new, explore and reflect. Take some time to turn things for a different look. Clear space so you can center. Card’s affirmation: “I find serenity in surrendering to the Great Mystery” (52).
  4. Release and Re-Block: Five of Air (Five of Swords). I need to know when to let go off things. You may win some, but others it is better to let go to keep the peace. Choose your battles wisely, and as much as possible, avoid alienating others. If anything, if they take rope to hang themselves, let them have it and stand back. Rather than adding to drama, let it go. Many conflicts can be sidestepped, and you can still come out ahead. Card’s affirmation: “I defend my own place in the world without resorting to bitterness or hurtful words” (106).

Overall, a theme of remaining calm, find your center. You know you are on a good and right path, and your tribe, those that matter, know it and celebrate with you. Keep persevering and avoid unnecessary drama or conflicts. Defend what you need to defend, but otherwise, live well and let the rest go.



I saw this little writing prompt over at Based on a True Story, and I figured it would be easy enough and fun enough to try out. The questions are the ones provided. The answers are mine.


1. What are your top three book pet hates?

  • Dreck that looks good but ends up making me mad and wasting my time.
  • Fans of overrated books and authors that just won’t shut up about them.
  • Paperbacks that are poorly made and fall apart after one reading.

2. Describe your perfect reading spot.

In bed. In a rocking chair is also nice.

3. Tell us three book confessions.

  • I do not give a shit about the following: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones (or much of R.R. Martin’s work), True Blood, Dan Brown, James Patterson, and a few other over-hyped writers and works. Do not try to convince me. As I said, I do not give a shit. You be happy over there in your part of the world. I am happy over here just fine. (Notice I did not say I have not read any of these. Some I  have. I just do not give a shit.) Oh, and I also do not give a shit who knows it.
  • I was an English major (B.A. and M.A.), and there are a good number of “classics” I  have not actually read. No, I do not feel bad about it. That’s what Cliff’s Notes and Masterplots are for. How do you think a lot of grad students get through comprehensive exams? It ain’t by always reading the whole thing.
  • As a kid, I never went to a public library. My parents just never took us to one. We did have books at  home, and my mother  encouraged reading. It feels a bit weird because I am a librarian now, and librarians usually have that one story of how some public librarian touched them (not that way, you pervs) and gave them inspiration to eventually become librarians. I found my inspiring librarian when I was in graduate school.

4. When was the last time you cried at a book?

I have never cried when I read a book. I have gotten pissed off at quite a few though.

5. How many books are on your bedside table?

Well, let me think a moment. As of this post, there are five, which are:

  • Agatha Christie, Masterpieces of Murder (a collection of some of her novels).
  • Mario Puzo, The Godfather (started re-reading this as I got an urge to just read something for comfort).
  • Rose Caraway, ed., For the Men and the Women who Love Them (erotica anthology that I have been a bit slow in reading. Hard Times do  not help your mood in reading erotica, but I will get it read. I do feel bad I have not read it already, but as I said, Hard Times do not help).
  • A book on cocktails that has been on the TBR status for a while but I have not managed to get to it yet. (You can tell it has been there a while since I cannot recall the title now without looking.)
  • The Mammoth Book of Dracula, a short stories about Dracula anthology.

Plus I have a bunch of stuff on my iPad (on the Bluefire Reader and on the Kindle for iPad).

6. What is your favorite snack whist you’re reading?

I usually do not snack while I read, but when I do it can be crackers and cheese. I do enjoy my cup of coffee when reading now and then too.

7. Name three books you’d recommend to everyone.

This depends on what day you are asking. At this moment I would recommend the following (links to my reviews):

8. Show us a picture of your favorite shelf on your bookcase.

Work book shelf

Not a favorite, but it makes for a good photo. This is a corner of my book shelf in my office at work. Some of the books were books I read as part of the Dean’s Faculty Reading Group (a campus sort of book club). Others are work related. The jar says “Tips Support Counterintelligence.” And yes, tips are accepted 😉


9. Write how much books mean to you in 3 words.

Books are life.

10. What’s your biggest reading secret?

You mean besides the confessions above? What the  heck else do you want from me? Well, it is not much  of a secret now, but I am learning how to read Tarot and oracle cards.


With these four prompts, I get to wrap up the challenge. This is the first time I have attempted this kind of blogging challenge, a challenge where you do prompts over a month, and doing it around Tarot has been interesting as well as helped me reflect a bit on my Tarot learning journey. Doing them ahead of time too has been helpful given my schedule is not always one that allows me to do this on every single day. So, here we go with the last four prompts:

Day 28: Share one celebrity that you would refuse to read for, no matter how much they paid you (and why!).

Day 29: What are your beliefs around the mechanics of a reading? How do you think it works? Is it your subconscious, higher self, Spirit?

Day 30: What is the most culturally inclusive deck that you own?

Day 31: What are your favorite Tarot apps, do you work with them? On what platforms smart phone, tablet, etc.?


Day 28. Definitely the Pendejo In Chief. He is known for not listening to anything you try to tell him anyhow, so why bother? He does not have enough money to get a reading from me. He is way too stubborn and self-centered for anyone to try to tell him anything. And the same goes for anyone who voted for him or supported him or continues to support him. I definitely do not want any of those people anywhere near me, and if I know they are one of them, I will not read for them. I am sure they can find a reader; it just will not be me.


Day 29. I am not sure on the beliefs about readings. I am pretty much a heathen, though I would not totally see myself as full atheist. I am somewhat spiritual and still seeking kind of thing. I think readings and readers can vary from people who are very spiritual and guided by some higher power (whatever you wish to call it) to those who do it by the book to folks who know the symbols and combine it with a cold reading ability. Allow me to add that I do not think having the ability to cold read is necessarily a bad thing. I think, if you pin me down, an ideal reading combines intuition, a little spirituality, some cold reading, and a little book learning. In other words, it is not just one thing, but a combination of factors that make a reading. These factors vary from reader to reader, and depending on how each reader combines them in a variety of ways is how you see if a reading is good or not. For me, this can account as to the wide variety of readers and how they read. After all, you can put a spread out, and if you have five or more readers, they may all give you a different reading of the same cards. That I do find interesting.


Day 30. I have two decks that I see as culturally inclusive at this moment: the Gaian Tarot (Colbert) and the Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot (Marquis). Deck links here go to my reviews of the decks.


Day 31. I do not really work with Tarot and oracle card apps. I have some Tarot sampler apps on my smart phone that I got to try out, from Fool’s Dog, but otherwise, I do not have any specific apps I use. I prefer to use cards in print. However, I like the idea that in a pinch I can do Tarot on my phone when I do not have a deck handy.


You can find Ethony’s original prompts here.

Combining days once more into a single post. I find that this works for me better than making a bunch of very short posts. Anyhow, here are the prompts for these three days:

Day 25: Tarot or oracle– which one would you read with for the rest of your life, if you had to pick one? And why?

Day 26: Thoughts on Tarot become “mainstream”?

Day 27: Share your first professional reading experience (either as a reader or seeker).

If I am forced to choose, it would be Tarot what I would read with for the rest of my life. I think it is because of the structure. Tarot has a specific set of symbols, structure, and arrangement. For the most part, a Tarot deck is a Tarot deck no matter which deck you pick up. As much as I like oracle cards, each deck is its own world. In the end, I am glad that I do not have to make this choice.

I do not have any substantial thoughts on Tarot becoming mainstream. If anything, I like the idea that it is becoming more accessible to the hoi polloi like me. It is nice to see that it is not just something for the select few in some far off cabal or something old ladies do from their homes in the other side of the tracks. I am not a fan personally of exclusivity and exclusionary practices, so this is a nice development in my humble opinion. Learning it also appeals to the librarian in me who enjoys reading and learning new things. If nothing else, I hope that as it gets more mainstream, the stigmas that were attached to it gradually fade away. Having Tarot and oracle decks can be as common as having a deck of regular playing cards; that would be a nice vision I think.

I need to note I have never had a professional reading experience neither as reader nor seeker. I would love to have a professional do one for me some day, but I have not found anyone I feel I can approach at this point. As for me, I sure as heck am not ready to do professional readings. Would I do it some day? Maybe. I think I would rather do it here and there for friends and put a tip jar out. At least for now.

You can find Ethony’s original prompts here.

Once more I am combining prompts these are going to be short answers for me. The prompts are mainly designed for those who make and upload videos, but in writing, these are short answer items, well, to me at least. The prompts are:

Day 22: Share the card that was the hardest for you to “get” when you were first learning the Tarot. How do you feel about the card now?

Day 23: Share a Tarot deck that you just had to “break up” with (it no longer resonates with you).

Day 24: If you could design a 79th Tarot card that everyone would use– what would it look like? What would it represent?


Day 22. I would say I struggled a bit with the court cards, especially the pages as I started out in my Tarot journey. I am not the most sociable person, so relating the court cards to people in my life was not easy, and some Tarot advice sources said that was the way to go. Once I figured out that they could also represent traits in me, or traits in others around me, rather than literal persons, I was able to relate to the cards a bit better. Jane Lyle’s The Illustrated Guide to Tarot (link to my review), a simple book I keep handy for basic Tarot reference, also gives “abstract” meanings for the court cards, and I have found those to be helpful for me in interpreting those cards.

Day 23: I have mentioned this before, but this would be The Hobbit Tarot. This is not a matter of breaking up after the fact. This was more of a bad marriage that should have never happened, and I am annulling it as soon as possible. This was one of two decks I have bought in my life without researching the images beforehand. I got it because I like The Hobbit book and also because at the time at the store the price was obscenely cheap. However, there is my lesson not to be lured to a deck by an obscenely cheap price. Sometimes, well, you get what you pay for, and in this case it was seriously bad. As I said previously, what the hell U.S. Games was smoking when they allowed this thing to be published is beyond me. The art is not too bad (I have seen worse), but it has nothing whatsoever to do with Tarot. It is one of those decks they took some theme art and rammed it into Tarot, and the results here are just plain awful. As far as I am concerned, this deck needs to suffer the same fate as the old E.T. Atari cartridges. Rest assured I will never, ever buy a deck without looking up the images online someplace beforehand.

Day 24: This is easy. I am just doing a blank card you can draw on. Make it what you want it to be.


You can find all the other prompts here.


Today’s prompt: Share some of your favorite deck storage!

I do not have any fancy ways of storing my decks. When I can, I leave them in the boxes they came in. If the deck has a good sturdy

Deck boxes for Santa Muerte Tarot and Wisdom of the Oracle Divination Cards

These are two decks that came in nice boxes. I wish more decks came like this in small sturdy boxed that are durable and you can carry around. On a side note, I recently got the Wild Unknown Tarot. That package came in a nice big box with the deck in its own sturdy box you can carry. That is good packaging right there.

box, I keep it in there. Why mess with a good thing I say. For a few decks that either did not have a box when I got them or came in flimsy boxes that will get tossed out for not being durable, I try to put the decks in some kind of bag of pouch. I have no ability to knit or sew, so I get bags and pouches where I can, and since I live on a librarian salary, I try to spend little on acquiring them. For instance, I go to places like Target (their dollar spot) or Michael’s and buy small bags and pouches for gifts that may hold a deck when they go on sale.

As for shelving, I do have a dedicated shelf for them in my closet in my home office/workstation, but that is starting to get to overflow a bit, mainly because many decks come in those big unwieldy boxes. The nicer boxes will stay, but the cheap thin cardboard ones will likely go as soon as I find a bag for the deck, and I then cut the box up for art to put in my Tarot journal.

Overall, deck storage is definitely an ongoing work in progress, and I am only getting started. Stay tuned.

Sample card deck bags

Some of the deck bags I use to store card decks. The one shaped like a fish came from Target’s Dollar Spot. I had bought it to store my Oceanic Tarot, but now it has my Unicorn Tarot, which I acquired used and did not come with a box or bag. The other three bags came from Michael’s after Christmas sale. I bought a bunch of these, so I have more waiting to be used. The decks inside are my Steampunk (Moore and Fell), the New Century Tarot (another one that I got used. It came with a book, but no bag or pouch), and my basic Marseilles. Overall, I am on a tight budget, so cheap is how I often go. If it works, it works.


You can find Ethony’s original prompts here.

Again, these answers are mostly short for me, so I am combining days. I also fell a little behind after Day 16, so I am catching up today. The prompts are as follows:

Day 17: Draw, paint, or sketch your favorite Tarot card (talk a little bit about this card while you are drawing).

Day 18: Share one of the new things you learned about the Tarot in the last year.

Day 19: Share which Tarot deck gives you the “heebie jeebies.”

Day 20: Share one Tarot myth you used to believe (and why you stopped believing it).


Initially, I was going to skip Day 17 since I have not really practiced drawing much of anything since high school days. Back then, I was

Sketch of Justice card image

This is a very quick and rough sketch for the Justice-XI card in Tarot. At least I managed to get the scales to balance.

pretty good as I even took drawing and painting classes, but I have not kept up with it. So what can I say? I feel a bit self-conscious about it. Yet I decided to do a quick sketch, and I mean a very quick sketch of a card that is a favorite: Justice. I find Justice, which for me is usually the 11th card (my decks tend to draw on Rider Waite Smith and similar traditions), to be reassuring and something I aspire to: justice, fairness. When I think of Justice, I also think of an old Bible verse that was ingrained in me when I was in a La Salle Catholic school as a youth. The verse is Daniel 12: 3: “But they that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that instruct many to justice, as stars for all eternity.” The part about leading or showing justice to others was the motto of the Christian Brothers who ran the school, and it is something that even now, as a heathen, still stays with me to this day. In some small way, I am an instruction librarian and teacher because I strive and aspire to teach many to justice. And who knows, maybe someday I may take up drawing again.

Day 18. New things I have learned about Tarot.

  • Well, I learned that there is a big Tarot community out there, and I also learned that like many large communities, not everyone gets along or agrees on things. Having differences is OK. People who get a little too dogmatic and are more “my way or the high way” I tend to avoid. I have found some groups in Facebook. Some not so useful, but recently I came across one that seems friendly, accessible, and most people in it are not full of themselves, so we will see how it goes. It does amaze me that some people in Tarot and divination get a little learning under their belts, and they get seriously full of themselves. Those are the folks I avoid.
  • I have also learned to experiment here and there where I can. My time tends to be limited, and I have learned to make peace with that and do Tarot and oracle when I can, even if it is in small ways. As I often say, do what you can with what little you may have.
  • I knew this, but it has been reinforced in the past year, and that is that I do not really like “pip-only” decks. I can appreciate the art on some of them, but for the most part, they are decks I do not and will not add to my personal collection. Only reason I have two Marseilles decks is that they were gifts from special people, so those naturally stay. Other two “pip-only decks I have are the Victorian Steampunk, which I admit I got for the steampunk theme to go with the other two steampunk themed decks I have, and the Oceanic Tarot, which is one of two decks I got without looking it up first because it looked nice on the outside. I will not be making that mistake ever again, and odds are good the Oceanic Tarot will not stay in my collection, but I have not decided yet. That deck just feels like it had potential, then the author just gave up after completing the Major Arcana. On a side note, the other deck I ever got without prior research is The Hobbit Tarot, which I hate (more on that below). That one is definitely going out of the house as soon as I get a moment to take care of that. What the hell U.S. Games was smoking when they made The Hobbit Tarot is beyond me as the images have nothing to do with Tarot at all. The Victorian Steampunk I like enough to keep, and I know I will likely work with it down the road. So I guess exceptions are possible. I will tell you this: Marchetti’s Tarot Decoratif, his take on Marseilles blended with RWS is one I definitely would add to my collection, but that is more because I am a fan of Marchetti’s work. As for traditional Marseilles, to me, you have seen one, you have seen them all. People have told me, “oh, but different colors, symbols, blah blah.” Slight new shading or brighter colors are not things that make a difference in seeing the same images over and over. Then again, traditional RWS does not do much for me either. Seeing ten different versions of the same RWS deck which means just they colored it brighter or lighter does not do it for me, but I am digressing here. And in the end, this is just personal preference. Bottom line let me cite the Rivera Tarot Corollary to Ranganathan: “Every deck its reader/collector, and every reader/collector their deck.”
  • Going a bit with the above, I did resolve to learn Marseilles style down the road. So I have acquired a book or two on the topic. For me, this would be going back to the beginning, as I started my Tarot journey with a Marseilles deck. I just learned early on it was not working, which is another lesson I have learned over time. Do what works for you the best you can.

Day 19. A deck that gave me the “heebie jeebies” first time I saw it was the Dark Grimoire Tarot. I still want to get it, but it did give me the creeps when I first saw it, especially once I saw its Hanged Man card, which is literally a man in the process of hanging himself. However, as some have suggested, the man could be reaching to undo that noose at the last minute. The card is dark, but it also offers many possibilities when you ponder it. This is a Lovecraftian deck, which is meant to be dark and even a bit horrifying, but it is still one that can draw you in, thus I hope to add it to my collection, and I also hope once I do to begin re-reading H.P. Lovecraft’s works, which I have not done in a while.

Day 20. I did not really have myths about Tarot before I came to Tarot. But the one thing I suppose that stuck with me before I unlearned it was that you had to be gifted, mystical, or psychic somehow to read cards. I did not necessarily think it was some gypsy woman stereotype, but I would imagine it did have to be more like some old granny who had a lot of old wisdom and could see things. It would be like the heathen or pagan version of the old Catholic ladies that were friends with my grandmother (and we are talking pre-Vatican II old Catholic ladies, i.e. seriously hardcore), who instead of rosaries and veils had Tarot cards (not even oracle cards. I did not know those existed pretty much until I got into Tarot). This Tarot lady would sort of have a pagan and “hippie” herbalist kind of look who read cards at her home which smelled of cigars and incense, and if she has a pet, it was likely a cat. In fact, the image in my mind is not far off from what I knew and know about some santeras (clerics of Santeria, not makers of saints and religious icons which in Spanish are also called santeros or santeras), like this one. And it would have to be a woman. I had no idea until I got into Tarot that guys would be into it let alone that there are some guys out there really good at it. Over time I have learned that with effort and practice, anyone can learn to read Tarot and oracle cards. I am not sure about the intuition thing yet, but I can tell you that I feel mine has woken up a bit since I took up Tarot.


You can find the original prompts by Ethony here.

October 2018
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