Monthly Archives: October 2011

To boldly go where no deck has gone before

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Yesterday evening, I took the Tarot Balbi on its continuing mission to explore strange new worlds with me…

We were watching some episodes from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a few minutes into the first one, I spontaneously decided to pull some cards to see where the story would go. I repeated that for each episode we watched, and kept glancing at the cards throughout to see if anything would match my predictions or something else I might have overlooked.

I’ll spare you my first attempts because they were mostly off. But it got interesting eventually. For the episode “Power Play” I pulled these cards (no positional meanings, several plot spoilers ahead):

The Wheel of Fortune drew my attention most. The way the figures were all encompassed by that snake-circle made me think of cramped spaces. I decided the episode would contain an important scene in the starship’s turbo lift.

A few minutes into the story, crew members William Riker, Data, and Deanna Troi use a shuttle craft to get to the surface of a moon through an electric storm. The two men sit in the front, and Troi sits in the back, just like the three figures in the circle. The two men hold on to the dashboard because the vehicle is shaking so much. There are also several scenes that do indeed take place in one of the lifts, one of which with less than three people. Finally, crew members Geordi La Forge and Ro Laren get into the crawlspace above the bar Ten Forward to try and do something about the intruding spirits — another scene in cramped space.

Oh, and then there’s the spirit possession of Deanna Troi, Data, and Miles O’Brien which pushes their own personalities aside and renders them unable to interfere with the spirits’ actions. Which I can easily see in the way the other figures on the card are placed outside of the circle but still clinging close to it.

The other two cards I interpreted as having to do with something inside wanting to go outside (the spirits wanting to escape the penal colony the moon was for them), and an inner voice of wisdom (Picard’s sense that something didn’t fit about the violence of the spirits and their claim to be crew members of a starship that had been lost nearly 200 years ago), which I saw in the tiny owl-like figure in the middle of the star.

With the last episode (“Ethics“) I drew cards for, however, I was really stunned by the accuracy of the cards.This is what I got:

I immediately noticed that the Devil doesn’t seem to have a middle body. I didn’t quite know what to make of the cards and just said — drawing mostly on the Judgment card — that the crew would land on a planet, and that the episode would deal with the issue of family.

In the episode, Worf has an accident that leaves him paralyzed. See the very exposed Devil‘s spine? This is the one body part that everything in this story revolves around. I think the figure in the card image even looks a little bit like Worf with the beard and emphasized forehead.

As a Klingon warrior, Worf can’t stand the idea of living a disabled life and asks his friend William Riker to assist him in a ritual suicide. Apparently, that involves a fancy knife, which Riker handles in a scene where he states that, according to Klingon tradition, Worf’s son Alexander would need to be the one to assist. The King of Swords looks so much like Riker in that scene! He also uses logic and points to the “rules” to explain why he wouldn’t assist in Worf killing himself. This is also where the theme of family comes in, like I predicted (there are more scenes about Worf and his son later on).

In the end, Worf decides to go for an untested medical procedure where his spine is cloned and exchanged against the crushed one, fully aware that the procedure could very likely kill him. The surgery seems to go well until at the end of it he dies nevertheless. However, with the Klingon “redundancies” built into his body, he eventually revives himself and literally comes back from the dead — Judgment anyone?

Finally, the Devil also seems to be related to the series’ theme of medical ethics (does the end justify the means?) and the difficulty of not giving in to one’s immediate emotions (Worf end up not killing himself, Riker says he would have assisted him despite his conviction that suicide was wrong if it had been “his place”, Beverly Crusher allows the dangerous procedure despite her distrust in the other doctor).

Looks like he Tarot Balbi itself is pretty good at telling me what happens in Star Trek episodes. My own ability in accurately reading the cards, however, seems to leave room for improvement. But hey, there are several more seasons to go…

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New deck: Tarot Balbi

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For this week, the random numbers suggest a choice between these three decks:

Although I was tempted to compare the two versions of the Baum Tarot I own (the original one cut from the book “Madru” and the redesigned one published as a stand-alone deck) it didn’t seem quite right to focus on a deck so full of flowers and green leaves when ther leaves are actually falling as we speak. So I chose the Tarot Balbi for this week.

This is another deck I never used before. It’s actually still in its original order, so apparently I didn’t even shuffle it. I think I got it while I was doing an Intensive Deck Study with the Greenwood Tarot, so that would explain why I paid so little attention to it when it arrived here.

Initial impressions, after some thorough shuffling:

I like the card size and format; they feel good in my hands and are easy to shuffle. The backs are also very pretty with their bright green floral pattern on a deep reddish-purple background. One of the things that attracted me to the deck in the first place were it’s bright colors. I still love them!

The pips of this deck are non-scenic, so that will be a challenge for me (I don’t have much experience with reading non-scenic pips). There are also Hebrew letters and/or astrological symbols in the majors and at least some of the courts. I don’t think I will dive head-first into these related topics, but then I never know what will take my fancy, so who knows?

I did a bit of googling and found out that the Balbi assigns the elements to the suits in this way:

  • Wands – Fire
  • Cups – Air
  • Swords – Water
  • Disks – Earth

I’m not sure how much this will influence my readings with this deck, but I might do a post just pondering these associations.

I can already see lots of opportunities to work with this deck. Good!

Revisiting the new deck interview: Margarete Petersen

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Before I choose my next deck, let’s look back on this week’s first reading.

Margarete Petersen - Daughter of Feathers + Magic + Six of CoinsWhat do I need to learn from you during this week? – Daughter of Feathers (Knight of Swords)

I can’t say I found much more self-discipline this week, but I clearly recognize the need for it. A small success was taking care of three difficult phone calls without too much procrastination (the Universe made it really easy for me and had two of the people call me…).

I have also realized a few things about me and my needs in this week that I can relate to the mental clarity I can see in the martial arts picture.

How can I learn best from you?Magic (The Magician)

Interestingly, the process of reading this card mirrored my issues with this deck perfectly. I learned that I first need to go with what I see, no matter if it fits with Margarete Petersen herself writes about the card or what anyone on AT says about it. After that, however, reading what other people wrote can indeed enrich my understanding of a card.

I also believe that — like magic — this deck requires my full attention to be able to read with it best. There’s very little space for half-hearted, half-focused, or half-interested readings here. I guess that’s a good thing, although it rules out the deck for any kind of quickie readings.

Our future relationship? – Six of Coins

Give and take indeed. If I don’t give my attention, I won’t get much in the way of readings.

After this week, I can say the Margarete Petersen Tarot is a keeper for me. I can see myself using it for 1-3 card readings on issues that need more of a mirror of moods than practical, everyday world advice.

Maybe this deck needs to be discovered (nearly) as slowly as it has been created?At any rate, I’m looking forward to more explorations of these cards later on.

Rearranging furniture with the tarot

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I’m currently rearranging the furniture in my room, which also comes with a lot of sorting through, sorting out, and doing away with many accumulations of dust. In the beginning I wasn’t sure where to place two of the main elements of the room: my bed and my desk. I have a paper version of my room with all pieces of furniture I own so I don’t have to measure everything again and again when I want to move things around again (I initially made it about seven years or so and have added to it and used it plenty of times since). Visual thinkers like me need things like that. So I tried out all sorts of placements on paper but still couldn’t decide. This is when I  reached for the Margarete Petersen deck and pulled a card for the bed, one for the desk, and another one for the general rearrangement.

The Four of Cups for the desk clearly showed a window with a piece of visible sky. So the desk now goes back to the window, since that is the only place where I can directly see more than a tiny glimpse of sky (I’m on the ground floor with bushes and trees surrounding a small terrace).

The Four of Coins for the bed felt very withdrawn (in a nice way), so now the bed in back in the furthest corner of the room, with a shelf placed next to it so that a cozy little corner is created. This corner now conveniently blocks much of what I could focus on instead of sleeping. The card image also has a snake coiled around the squares in the middle of the card, which emphasizes the importance of this. The companion booklet says:

Occupy your space, establish boundaries, structure yourself, and come to rest.

The Seven of Coins for the general project has a plant, humans, bones, and lots of space, so I’m aiming for as much empty space as possible, so I can grow new things (ideas, projects, crafts…) in this room. It also feels like a spiritual card to me (maybe it’s the cave paintings?), so that’s another element that plays a big role in my rearrangements. From the companion booklet:

Growth is possible because of decay. Decay is inevitable because of growth. […] Don’t interfere; commit yourself to the process of growth.

That reminds me of how sorting through old stuff always also means looking at my own past and deciding which parts get to come with me into the future and which parts I will let go of so they can be recycled into something else, by whatever means seems appropriate.

I’m not finished with the process of the rearrangements, yet, but I have a good feeling about this. My first two night in the newly placed bed were definitely a change for the better!

A Halloween story

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Pandora MoonRaven had the brilliant idea to open a Halloween story contest on AT. Here’s what she wrote:

You can use any deck of your choice. Pull 3-5 cards randomly after shuffling. Write a Halloween story for us based off these cards. It can be spooky and full of chills and thrills or fun. Your choice.[…]
Word limit – 1500 little more wiggle room!
Submit to me by the 25th
On the 25th I will post all of the stories I have received anonymously and open it up to voting. The stories will be numbered so you will be voting on Story 1 or Story 2 etc.
Please include deck and which cards. I do think this will help because this is supposed to be fun and a learning experience for us all so if we can know what cards and the images that would be awesome.
On the 31st I will post the winners.

I decided to publish this post here now two days before the voting deadline ends because I assume it’s pretty obvious that my story was the one inspired by the Margarete Petersen deck (since I usually put my deck of the week into my AT signature).  So, hey, if you like my story best and have access to AT, feel free to give me your vote!

My story is not exactly a complete story in and of itself, but more of a scene from a larger story. It’s exactly (and absolutely coincidentally!) 666 words, though! *evil grin*

Cards on which the story is based: Five of Flames, Son of Coins, Three of Coins


The kids were fighting. Simon shoved his brother Tim out of the way. Their sister Sheila wiggled past them to the front. Everyone yelled and screamed, grabbed and pushed. Their mother Karen clasped her hands to her head in desperation. It was the same every year. All of them wanted the best spot in front of the mirror to put on their Halloween make-up, in a bathroom that was small to begin with.

As every year, after many a  “Get out of the way, moron!” and “Ouch! Keep your pointy elbows to yourself, will you?!” and “Mooo-oom! He’s using up all the black!” eventually everyone was ready to go trick-or-treating.
“Bye, Mom!”
“Have fun and don’t be mean to Mr. Snyder again! Respect that he’s not into Halloween, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah. He’s no fun anyway. Hey, Sheila, what do you think? Will the Helmerson’s have that spooky labyrinth in their house again?”
“See you later, Mom!”
And off they went.

Karen closed the door behind them. Maybe it was a good idea that the kids spent some of their boundless energy at home already. Who knew what they’d come up with otherwise once they were finally on the loose? They had been getting more and more excited with every day. Yesterday night, the three of them had all carved pumpkins together, making a big mess out of the kitchen. Especially after Sheila had thrown a piece of pumpkin at her younger brother. At least that was what she was told by an indignant Simon. Judging from the appearance of the kitchen when Karen had come home from the late shift, that had quickly developed into flying handfuls of pumpkin goo and a hurried attempt at cleaning up the worst of it before she came home. She hadn’t had the energy to do a more thorough cleaning that night, so she had just flicked off the light again.

Karen sank into her favorite old armchair with a deep sigh. How nice and quiet it was, now that the kids were gone! With three kids, the times when she had the house to herself were few and far between, so she used every opportunity to make the most of them. She put on some of her favorite meditative music and started to relax. After a few minutes, she could feel the tension trickle off her shoulders like rivulets of water. She pulled up her naked feet under her cozy blanket and snuggled deeper into the armchair, slowly drifting off into no-thinking land. Aaahhh.

After a while, she decided to get up and make herself a cup of tea. She padded into the kitchen, reached for the water cooker, turned to the sink for water, reached over to the box of tea bags on the shelf, … damn! Empty again! She stepped over to the cupboard where they kept the spare ones, and stretched to get at the box that was nearly out of her reach, having to stand on tiptoes on one leg. Who had put the box on the top shelf anyway? There, she had it. Her foot came back down, landed in something cold, wet, and mushy, she slipped, lost balance and landed on her butt. Ouch! Great. So much for cleaning up the pumpkin mess. Something cold and squishy called her attention towards her upper leg. Yuck, and it now she sat in it, too!

She got up, sighing loudly, dropped the pair of sweat pants she was wearing, and wiped off the pumpkin goo from her foot with it. That thing had to go into the laundry anyway. Looking down on herself in the harsh kitchen light, she had to admit that she really needed to go and buy some new underwear to replace the old, discolored but oh-so-comfy ones she was wearing. Maybe next weekend. She threw the bunched-up pants down the stairs towards the laundry room in the basement and bent down to pick up the box of teabags.

The doorbell rang.