Monthly Archives: April 2012

New Deck: Dirty Tarot

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Well. There hasn’t been much tarot action here lately, huh? It seems that my interests have shifted somewhat to other aspects of spirituality, and there’s only been so much time… Nevertheless, I’m continuing with the deck of the week project. So let’s see what the random number generator has for me this time:

This is a complete no-brainer: Dirty Tarot! I love that 40-card oracle deck, I’ve been looking forward to having it suggested eventually, so I’m eagerly jumping its bones now. This is what I said about it when I first got it:

I had been ogling the Dirty Tarot ever since I first came to AT (months before I actually signed up) but never bought it. It wasn’t an actual tarot, after all, and it seemed quite expensive at first (I had less money back then, too).

I finally have bought it now, by way of being reminded of it by this thread, and am very happy about it! It’s a wonderfully colorful deck (lay out the cards next to each other for the full effect), with backs that look like pink glitter (only less shiny), and it’s simple images pack a lot more punch than I first expected. It’s anything but “cosmo” (or even teenage girly) but rather deep if you take the time to really get into the ideas illustrated on the cards. First impressions may be deceiving here… The LWB is really short indeed but the keywords/key concepts for the cards in it are actually useful (you can check them out on Dori Midnight’s website). It’s also beautifully designed. The cardstock is pretty sturdy, and for once I think that the shiny lamination does the deck good.

The Dirty Tarot and its symbology read very well for me, despite some “Americanisms” in there that my home culture doesn’t share. The deck really is what the LWB says: “it is not in any way ethereal or pure; instead it is a collection of symbols of things that we have, touch, desire, or tend to in our messy everyday lives.” As such, it will likely not be for everyone (make sure to check out the categories that name all the card titles to get an idea of what you’re getting!) but it hits right home with me.

Plus, Dori Midnight is a very nice person to deal with; the deck got here in record time; and I’ve been very happy to support her work as a herbalist and community healer with my purchase.

I also would like to add that Dori Midnight has done some wonderful healing and health-related work for the queer and trans* community, about which you can find out more on her website (check out the links page, too!) or blog. For that alone, she deserves my deepest appreciation. Plus, the deck is really fabulous.

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I is for the Internet

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This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project (PBP). It’s the first one for the letter I.

I hesitated to even write about this topic because it seemed so banal and self-evident. It also leads to some observations of myself that I’m not particularly proud of. But sometimes even the banal and self-evident things need to be acknowledged and the shame-inducing parts of oneself made public.

So let’s start with a statement that seems anything but exceptional: The Internet is one of the major influences on my spirituality. It’s where I go to find information from multiple sources, opportunities for exchange and debate, and like-minded people. It’s where I find words and images that express something I recognize, or something that I suddenly get when I see it, or something that I don’t quite understand but that still intrigues me. It’s how I keep in touch with most of my spiritually-inclined friends, especially the ones who live in different countries. In fact, it seems so much like the “natural” thing to do that I barely even realize how much spiritually-themed time I spend at the computer (which for me usually also means sitting at a desk since I don’t have a smartphone and don’t want one, either).

Partly that’s because so much of my life in general has moved into online spaces during the last fourteen years since I first got Internet access at home. I remember when the whole Internet seemed to be magic and only very few people used it, let alone put up their own content into the cloud (non-techy people barely had email accounts back then). Now, only ten or fifteen short years after some Pagan books had references to “cybershamanism,” examined online rituals that were typed out in text-based chat rooms, or printed edgy spells for the smooth running of software and hardware, all of this seem quaintly dated. The Internet isn’t a mysterious new space for the select few anymore, for the ones who can write code and understand how all the stuff works on the backend side of things. It’s extremely accessible for almost everyone, and it’s nearly everywhere (at least in industrialized countries). And that’s wonderful. Unless it’s not.

I feel very blessed that someone has created all these places where we can put our writing and images and videos and soundfiles for everyone to access without even needing a basic understanding of programming on either side. Not to mention that it’s all practically cost-free, if we assume that a computer and online connection are already in place. I deeply cherish the variety of voices I get to hear, even with my limitation of speaking only two Western languages, and how there is a lot less educational and financial privilege necessary to publish one’s experiences or opinions for everyone to read, look at, or listen to (please note that I said “a lot less,” not “no more”). It’s a blessing to be able to connect so easily and immediately to other people who – like me – are members of such small minorities that there are never enough of us to make a functioning local group where I live. It’s a blessing to be able to have access to this huge stew of opinions, facts, thoughts, experiences, and fantasies in the two languages I speak, and to add to it in my own ways. This sure beats being limited to what you find in the local library’s card catalogue with no one to talk to about what you read!

At the same time, this mass of available data makes it impossible to even keep up the illusion that I may be able to read everything relevant about a topic within this lifetime, partly because there is just so much that is relevant, and partly also because there is such a mass of crap to wade through until I find the worthwhile bits. The instant availability of information means there is no more need for patience, no forced reflection time until the next mouthful of input arrives, which often leaves me stuffed full with food for thought that will eventually be half-digested at best. The wonders of Internet communication make me feel intimately connected to those other people at those other monitors, as long as the technology is running smoothly – and abruptly disconnected from everyone when it’s not.

That’s something I only realized very recently when my Beloved said summed it up like this: “Your dilemma is that you’re at heart a group person but that you rarely ever find a local group that you can relate to.” That hit the nail so smack on the head that I cried with both the relief of being truly understood by this wonderful human I share my life with, and with the very real tragic of this dilemma. It’s true, I’ve ended up doing a whole lot of things on my own, simply because I haven’t been able to find people to do them with in a way that doesn’t require me to twist myself into something that’s not me anymore. And yet I still yearn for face-to-face contact that is not mediated by two monitors and several kilometers of cable (or whatever material is necessary to transmit wireless data).

But as soon as I turn off that cable connection, it’s as if a lifeline is cut. Then I suddenly have to face my loneliness again, my confusion, and my disorientation. And then I immediately want to log in again, because that’s – presumably – where the answers are when you first and foremost work through stuff by reading about it like I do. (Mind you, I acted the exact same way before there were computers in my life. I just existed on a much more limited diet of whatever input I needed at the time. A small handful of zines from overseas, one or two books, and a bunch of vinyl records and mix tapes from bands I’d never get to see play live saved my sanity for a surprisingly long time at least once. No, that wasn’t directly about spirituality, but I’m not sure if the separation of the spheres even makes sense here.). Sometimes I wonder if this already counts as an “online addiction.”

At the very least, the ease of online connections makes it less urgent to find and take care of my connections offline, to both humans and spiritual beings. I get lazy. Here are some things that happen more often than I’m comfortable admitting: Instead of practicing my spirituality, I’m reading about other people’s practice. Instead of going outside myself, I’m looking at pictures of gorgeous trees and wild skies online. Instead of welcoming silence and solitude as times where the stuff I read is digested, where new connections are made in my own mind, and where maybe even the possibility to experience new feelings exists, I’m avoiding them whenever I can.

And, not for the first time, I have to admit that it doesn’t do me much good to let these things happen. Not for the first time I’m wondering how to fulfill my need for connection and food for thought, how to allow myself the joy of wandering aimlessly through the Web and discovering interesting things at a hundred times the speed I did that in libraries when I was younger (and it is a tremendous joy indeed), and at the same time not let my online consumption replace my offline creation/action. Obviously, increasing my digitally disconnected time is the way to go. As is enduring and maybe even embracing the silence and solitude. And actively looking for people with whom to communicate about those things at least a little more directly than by typing stuff into a computer (remember phone calls, Cat?).

I also believe I shouldn’t beat up myself for the amount of my Internet use, even when I know I overdid it again. Because that won’t help. Still, it’s good to know a little better what it is about the Internet that draws me in so much. Because that tells me a lot about what I might want to look for elsewhere. Or what I might want to stop running away from. Because that thing might just be a huge chunk of my active spirituality.

And if anyone is now reminded of the last part of yesterday’s post, that’s not a coincidence…

H is for Hothead Paisan

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This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project (PBP). It’s the second one for the letter H. Once again, I’m posting late, so it will be a very short wait until the next post of the series. The illustrations are (not very good) photos of some pages from two books I own: Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist and The Revenge of Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, both by Diane DiMassa.

As I was contemplating my spiritual path so far, I remembered that there had been spirituality even in the most mundane phase of my life, and that I had found it in a rather unlikely place: the Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist comic series by Diane DiMassa. If you have heard of it, you may have heard that Hothead does what others only fantasize about: chop off body male parts that have crossed female boundaries, blow up the tower of patriarchy, and generally get revenge for sexism, homophobia, and racism by (often rather amusing) acts of extreme violence.

Hothead Paisan meets God in the form of an oddly-shaped lamp

What they haven’t told you about is the other side of the coin: Hothead’s depressive episodes, her times of crushing self-doubt, and her occasional bone-deep loneliness and despair. It’s in one of those dark and scary moments that she goes off and meets God a Divine Being – in the form of a oddly-shaped lamp with a sense of humor.

Lampy (or rather, Donna Summer – since that is how Lampy is really called as we learn eventually) loves Hothead no matter what. Even when she’s just tortured and killed another bunch of rapists. Lampy also has spiritual advice for our fearsome warrior on her mission to bring justice to the world.

Hothead is given advice by Lampy (1)

Hothead is given advice by Lampy (2)

But there’s more. One day, Hothead can’t stand it any longer and decides she needs to escape and leave. The problem is, she has no idea where to go. But then she has an idea…

The reaction of Hothead’s cat Chicken to this idea is summed up in a drawing of Hothead that bears a striking resemblance to the Fool from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot. With combat boots. And Chicken instead of the dog. (Click to enlarge.)

But let’s continue with the story. We’re skipping the part where Hothead arrives at the gay bar in whose back room the queer femme Sharquee does her thing, where Hothead flirts with Sharquee despite knowing that Sharquee’s big butch girlfriend is pretty jealous, and where they eventually sit down to do the reading. (Buy the book – as long as there are still some copies out there – if you want to read that part. There are also some back issues of the original comic to be had at the Hothead website.)

Well, let’s just say I should have gotten this reading many times in my life already… And I’m eternally grateful to Diane DiMassa for creating this series and for giving her main character this often overlooked depth and vulnerability together with her endless arsenal of lethal weapons – which makes her so much more lovable, relatable, and real. Not to mention the fact that it makes the series far more than just a boring fantasy of the “all violence, all the time” kind. I’m also grateful for all these references (there are more than the ones I showed you here) to non-mainstream spirituality that this thoroughly queer character and her friends encounter/embody because they made the whole topic so much more accessible and relatable for me. Plus: cat yoga. What’s not to love?

Card titles and associations for the Tarot of Origins

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Since I don’t even have the original LWB for the Tarot of Origins, I decided to copy and paste together a list of card titles and associations for future reference here. I found all of the information on Aeclectic Tarot, mostly in the study group for the deck. Sorry if this is boring for everyone but me…

Majors:

My tiny Tarot of Origins
(cut from Comparative Tarot)

0 – The Fool
I – The Magician
II – The Great Mother (High Priestess)
III – The Mother (Empress)
IV – The Father (Emperor)
V – The Shaman (Hierophant)
VI – Union (Lovers)
VII – The Chariot
VIII – Abundance (Justice)
IX – The Hermit
X – Time (Wheel)
XI – Creative Power (Strength)
XII – The Sacrifice (Hanged Man)
XIII – Death
XIV – The Source (Temperance)
XV – The Demon (Devil)
XVI – The Menhir (Tower)
XVII – The Star
XVIII – The Moon
XIX – The Sun
XX – The Prey (Judgment)
XXI – The World

Minors:

Suits + colors:
Wands – Nature (green)
Cups – Soul (blue)
Swords – Blood (red)
Coins – Jewels (yellow)

Titles:
Ace – Etching of [Suit] – drawing/representation
2 – Age of [Suit] – elder teaching apprentice
3 – Mask of [Suit] – masked representation of the suit
4 – Bones of [Suit] – actual bones used to connect to spirit of suit
5 – Stone of [Suit] – stone used as tool
6 – Rite of [Suit] – action or observation of an act related to the suit
7 – Era of [Suit] – an emblem, symbolic or representation of the time
8 – Spirit of [Suit] – a scene evoking the spirit or mood of the suit
9 – Birth of [Suit] – culminating time, almost a harvest
10 – Environment of [Suit] – fruitful results, ideal conclusion or completion

Courts:

Page – Child of [Suit]
Knight – Animal of [Suit]
Queen – Woman of [Suit]
King – Man of [Suit]

New Deck: Tarot of Origins

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Once again, there hasn’t been much reading with the Thoth Tarot because I wasn’t as drawn to explore it as I usually am with decks I haven’t read with before. Or maybe I’m just putting more of my energy into my Pagan Blog Project posts these days. Not to mention I’ve also been sick this week.

Be that as it might, it’s time to choose a new deck. The random number generator presented me with thi shortlist:

Wow, what a great selection! Can I use all of them? But no, that’s against the rules and I won’t have time for more than one deck anyway. So I’ll go with the Tarot of Origins this time. I know that some fellow deck-of-the-week people have used it already, and I’m particularly curious to read Mi-Shell’s long thread in the Aeclectic Tarot Forum about the chronology of this deck.