Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Tarot

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

It was a lean month in terms of reviews for January 2018 over at The Itinerant Librarian. I posted a book review and a deck review. In case you missed them, check them out.

Also in January, in case you missed it, I posted my Reading List and report for 2017.


Here we go again with the latest additions to my ever growing TBR list. As always, book title links to go to WorldCat, so you can borrow it from a library near you unless otherwise noted.

Items about books I want to read:

  • A Thanksgiving article, one of those about chefs giving advice for the holiday. I picked up on this for mention of the chef’s book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Story via Vox.
  • Here is another foodie book, this one about six Americans in Paris including Julia Child. The  book is The Gourmands’ Way, and it was reviewed in The New York Times.
  • There is a new (to me at least) history of hoaxes that may be relevant in these Hard Times of fake news. The book is Bunk, and it was reviewed in The New York Times.
  • Do you ever wonder what kind of food you could bring to a funeral? Or for any  other occasion? Well, Elizabeth Heiskell’s cookbook What Can I Bring? may provide some answers. Story via The Lexington Herald Leader.
  • Here is an early bit of humor on travel narratives with  A Journey Round My Room by Xavier de Maistre. The book is freely available online at Public Domain Review. If you prefer print, some libraries do have it.
  • Benebell Wen reviews a new (to me at least) Tarot basics book. The book is Going Beyond the Little White Book. Book is self-published, so no WorldCat record as of this post. Wen’s review includes purchase options.
  • A lot of (ignorant) people love to say the U.S. is a Christian nation (spoiler: it is not. Go ahead, read the “Founding Fathers” sometime, secular as they were). Histories of Christianity in the U.S. are plentiful, but there are not many about atheism and secularism in the U.S. This book attempts to remedy that. The book is Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation. It was discussed at Los Angeles Review of Books.
  • Though the review is a bit mixed, the book still looks interesting, and I may take a look. The book is Mangasia, and it was reviewed at The Manga Critic.
  • Schlock Value reviews one of those old books that you are not quite sure if they are so bad they are good kind of thing. Still, could be interesting to read. The book is Moon Zero Two.
  • This is a totally cute idea. Someone made a book about cats who do pest control at distilleries. The book is Distillery Cats, and it was reviewed at The New York Times. I’ve got to read this one sooner rather than later.
  • Here is another one for cat lovers: If I Fits, I Sits. It’s a book of cat pictures and quotations. Reviewed at City Book Review.
  • I do not care much for sports, but I have read a book or two on some sports-related topic if it was interesting. This one sounds very interesting, so I am adding it to my TBR list. The book is The Pride of Havana: a History of Cuban Baseball. It was reviewed at Shelf Talk.
  • Here is a book about how old books can be turned into works of  art. The book is entitled The Book, and it was featured in City Book Review.
  • This may either be a work of genius or the work of someone who had way too much time on their hands. This author has looked at the Pendejo In Chief’s words and found poetry. Amazing, huh? The book is The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump. It was featured in Dangerous Minds.
  • A book on rum? Sure. The book is Rum Curious, and it was highlighted at Drinkhacker.
  • Learn about the real cost of those chicken nuggets in places like McDonald’s in The Hamlet Fire. Marion Nestle highlighted it in her Food Politics blog.
  • Let’s look at some horror. Via Horror Novel Reviews, here is The Devil and My Daughter (no WorldCat record available as of this time),  a book with the plot starting with “a young film crew who shoot an extreme indie horror film.”
  • I not only like to read, but I also like books and the culture around them, so a book like Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores is the kind of book I would be interested in. Granted, it has a foreword by Garrison Keillor (who turns out to not only be insufferable but turns out he is also an asshole), but I think I can live with that to get the rest of the book. The book was reviewed at Wink Books.


Lists and bibliographies:


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.

March 2018
« Feb    


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 153 other followers

%d bloggers like this: