Category Archives: experiments

Shelley rules the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2012

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On Saturday, Shelley slept most of the day and only stirred when it was time to go visit our friends to watch the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). I’ll explain everything about it for you in a minute.

First, you need to go and buy lots of junk food: chips, chocolate raisins, chocolate cookies, peanut curls, malt beer (without alcohol), etc. Shelley insisted on riding a bit on the conveyor belt but I snatched her off again before the cashier tried to scan her…

Then you take the subway over to your friends. Shelley was rather confused, though, because the subway ran above ground for the biggest part of the trip. She said it was highly illogical but jumped up to look out of the window nonetheless. When she finally sat down, she complained about the pattern of the seats. I believe she felt it clashed with her bag-dress, so I’m being nice and don’t show you the picture (it’s blurry anyway).

Then you arrive at your friends. It’s imperative that they have a big monitor (because who has a TV anymore?) and a big bed to fit 4-5 people and a cat. Then, of course, you throw out the cat because he can’t resist going at the plastic wrappers of the snacks and we’re not sharing.

Of course we needed to predict the winner, and Shelley gave us the Page of Wands from the Karma Music Tarot. I then urged everyone to draw another card for our own favorites. You have to know that all of us never liked the winning song best, so Europe clearly has some catching up to do to match our exquisite tastes.  The card Shelley gave me for my favorite was the Oito de Paus/Eight of Wands from the Tarot Atalla. At this point I should probably mention that none of us had seen any of the performers before because we only ever watch the finals. So basically we had no idea what any of this meant at this point. I confidently assured everyone it would all make sense in the end…

Onward with crucial facts about the ESC. It’s the biggest music TV show in the world, being broadcast live to 42 countries at the same time with 100 million viewers. All of which send a musical representative to the two semi-finals, during which 26 participants are selected for the finals (selections are made by a combination of a jury vote and viewer televoting from each participating country). The great thing about the ESC is that it’s a crazy hodgepodge of musical styles, mad outfits, involuntarily funny performances and general accidental high camp. Which is probably why it has a history of being especially popular in the gay demographic, although I’m not sure that’s still true today. But the queer connection has stuck with me, so I watch it. And because I get a kick out of dissing the costumes, cringing at wrong notes (singing has to be completely live), and boggling at the altogether weirdness of it all.

After all this dry explanation you’re probably dying to know what Shelley had to say about the whole thing. Her favorite group were the Russian grandmothers (who had the oldest ESC performer ever) because they wore patchwork dresses. For the full-immersion experience you can watch their performance here (song starts at 0:20). Shelley posed with them for a quick shot.

My own favorite turned out to be the all-girl slightly Sapphic schoolgirl burlesque performance of a catchy little pop song from Cyprus (watch it here, song starts at 0:50). It had everything: odd hairstyles, amusing choreography with girl-on-girl lifting, queer subtext, dancers who didn’t look anorexic, kneesocks, and a dancing platform made of books. What’s not to love? By the way, I think Shelley did a great job of capturing the colors of the costumes and the style of the dance moves in the card she gave me to represent my favorite!

But what’s with the winner, you ask? We’re not quite there, yet. First, there is the voting component of the ESC, which is completely ridiculous and boring, except that it’s not. Every country calls in live to give its votes (yes, every single country of all 42 participating ones). First they give their points from 1 to 7 all at once, then they individually announce the recipients of their 8, 10, and 12 points. This is done in both English and French. You really need to watch at least one example of this if you don’t know the procedure. Really.

So, what about the winner? Well, based on it being a duet of a blonde woman and a slightly darker-haired man and having some red-pink-orange light at the end, we thought it might be Iceland. However, the winner was a Björk-esque barefoot singer from Sweden. No duet, no pink sphere, no desert, no dress with a ripped seam, nothing. I sadly concluded that Shelley had gotten it all wrong this time.

Until a few minutes ago.

Because I kept wondering about how the Page of Wands from the Karma Music Tarot could match the winning song. Fire? No, there wasn’t anything particularly fiery in the performance. Someone young? No. While the singer did have a kung-fu fairy-like girlishness and wasn’t very tall, she definitely wasn’t the youngest participant.

And then it hit me. Shelley was made from cards sent by people from all over the place, right? So, where did that particular card come from? I quickly looked up the list of contributors on Aeclectic and saw that it was indeed a member from – wait for it – Sweden(!!!) who had contributed the card. I mean, what are the odds?!

So this goes down as another smashing success for Shelley. Even if it took me a while before I understood what she had to say.

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Sunshine at the edge of the forest

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A majors-only deck seems to lend itself to smaller questions and bigger answers than a regular 78-card deck to me. And the Wild Green Chagallian Tarot in particular makes me wonder about small plants and big healing effects. So this is my first question to this deck.

What’s the “medicine” I need to give myself most today?

High Priestess

A blue-skinned, black-haired woman kneels in the half-shade betweentwo young trees, one of them an apple tree, the other a birch. She is surrounded by violets whose leaves and flowers have melted into the fabric of her white dress. She is reaching up to the one red apple hanging from a branch. In the background, there’s a yellow unicorn galloping along cheerfully, with a black-and-white bird on its back (that bird is a magpie to me, although it’s too small to really see any characteristics).

To me, this is a very peaceful and happy image. Despite the red apple, it’s late spring or early summer to me, as indicated by the flowering violets and the bright green light. This is at the edge of a forest (or a clearing in the forest), and there aren’t any other people around. I’ve been to places that felt like that, like the edge between the everyday world and another, more mysterious/fantastic one where there may indeed be unicorns (or fairies).

Those are places where something happens to your mood and mind, where everyday burdens fall aside and curiosity, wonder and delight sneak in and then tackle you until you find yourself lying on the back in the moss, grinning a little stupidly and sighing contentedly. It smells warm and a little damp and the perfume of forest decay tickles your synapses, the sun makes tiny bubbles of intense red swim around behind your eyelids, and you feel yourself sink into the ground a centimeter or two.

Your fingertips magnify the flat, spined coolness of a blade of grass, the rolling crunch of a pinch of sand, the layers of temperature as you stroke little burrows into the earth. Through the quivering shadows of your lashes you see gigantic moss trees rising up next to you and shiny ants climbing around between the grasslands of gently swaying hair on the mountains of your flesh.

Eventually, something starts buzzing around you and you open a third of an eye, trying to lift a hand to wave it away but all that really happens is a bit of finger twitching because your arm is still melted into the ground. Or maybe it grew a bunch of thin, white, fuzzy rootlets already? In any case, the line of separation between you and the ground isn’t that clear anymore.

Your mind has started swaying gently, too, and sometimes, just sometimes, in the middle of the bliss of being right where you are with nothing to do but be right there, right now, an insight ripens and waits for you to pluck it from its branch, to dig your teeth into and get sticky with its juices, later. Later. For now, there is nothing else to do but slowly blow a tickling hair from your nose and wish you could become small enough to make your home in a cave below the roots of a nearby tree. And then you close your eyes again and your mind goes back into its woven hammock of neurons to once again start swaying gently.

Aaaahhhhhh.

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Indeed. A mix of sunshine and shade. Rolling around words in my mind until they are not only functional but also interesting to look at in that combination. Taking time to be and not rush anywhere else. I think I shall take a small walk and sit somewhere nice now.

Hanging on every letter with the Typeface Tarot

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Recently, EllieP, another member of Aeclectic Tarot, suggested an interesting experiment. We were to pick a card from the majors-only Typeface Tarot created by Lynda Cowles (downloadable for free as a PDF file from her website) and then “writing up what [we] see in it – with no reference to anything except what [we] get from the word itself, its typeface and its position on the card.”

I accepted the challenge and chose the Hanged Man card to look at. Here’s what I got.

(Note: I added in a few references to things I read because I just can’t help looking stuff up when I get curious…)

The letters make a cross shape which makes me think of people hanged on a cross to die (with Jesus being the most famous of them). Crucifixion is an execution method that means a slow and deliberately painful death, preceded by public humiliation. (To this day, there are also some people who practice crucifixion for a limited time period as a devotional practice – I truly learn something new whenever I read a Wikipedia article). This could refer both to the traitor aspect some people assign to the Hanged Man card, and to the notion of a spiritual connection/moment of enlightenment that is often associated with the card.

Hanging from a cross-like structure also makes me think of the Norse god Odin hanging himself from the World Tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nine nights to receive the runes (some Tarot decks, for example the World Spirit Tarot, depict a scene that alludes to that on their Hanged Man card). This would be another illustration of the martyr aspect of the card as well as of the associations to spiritual enlightenment.

The cross itself is a symbol that is often used in spiritual/religious contexts. (I read that it often symbolizes the four elements the world is presumably made of, or the union of mundane and divine by way of the horizontal and vertical lines, respectively.) Which once again echoes that there is a spiritual dimension to the card.

But let’s look at the typeface as such, which to me is the more interesting aspect of this card.

Most of the letters that read “the haNged MaN” (at least with a bit of squinting) are actually different letters (or numbers) that have been turned, mirrored, or twisted. In other words, without our act of squinting and making sense of what we actually see, we would just have the nonsensical “fya yeN9aP weN” as the text of this card.

To me, that means several things. First of all, we need a little time and effort to actually read the text on the card, compared to others in the deck. That suggests patience and perhaps even a little sacrifice to achieve success.

The Hanged Man is about having a different perspective, if only because he is usually depicted hanging upside-down (show of hands here: who else has turned around a Hanged Man card so his head would be up when absentmindedly looking through a tarot deck?). It urges us to look things from a different angle, to question our usual assumptions and prejudices (= pre-judgments).

It also suggests an intriguing ambiguity because both “the haNged MaN” and “fya yeN9aP weN” are actually correct readings of the letters on the card, depending on our perspective (are we trying to make sense of the letters/numbers as words or do we read each one by itself?). This means we may come to different conclusions if we consider just the individual tree or the entire forest. It reminds us that the actual truth of a matter may just lie in keeping both of these perspectives in mind at the same time (like in the Young Woman/Old Woman illusion, or the Duck/Rabbit one).

Finally, the fact that it is our fabulous brains that enable us to even read “fya yeN9aP weN” as “the haNged MaN” reminds us that meaning is in the eye of the beholder, and furthermore, that meaning is created by the beholder according to what they already know (someone who couldn’t read English wouldn’t be able to understand the lettering on this card at all, just as someone who never had seen a rabbit would only ever see the duck in the illusion). Which brings us nicely back to the more cerebral first part of my interpretation of this card, because the decision if someone is a criminal and threat to society or a spiritual martyr really always is a matter of the values and worldview we already hold in looking at that person. Any judgment of them says a lot more about the ones doing the judging and their worldview than the ones being judged. And this is equally true for Jesus as it is for Muslim terrorists.

——-

For those who are interested: The font used in the card is called “New Kind of English” and was created by “Fonts bomb.” It can be downloaded for free here.

Proverbial wackiness

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Because I had so much fun with it, I’m doing another “proverb” draw with the Morgan’s Tarot. Once again, I’m using the online version of the deck.

Du wacky du — wacky, a new perspective, going at something ass-backwards, being about to roll

Your doubt is your faith if necessary in your particular case perhaps — doubt, relativization, insecurity, faith, questioning

Slimy glob reigns — hard to grasp, icky, taking over, the magic of slime mold, dissolving, boundless

That makes:

Doubt allows you a new perspective on dissolving boundaries.
A process of questioning what’s hard to grasp is about to begin.
Wacky questions rule!
Possibly maybe we should let slime mold design networks for us.
Don’t roll over when the slime of insecurity creeps in!

The message is rather fuzzy and hard to nail down today. But like the Hanged Man of tarot, the Du wacky du bird of this deck brings new perspectives that may even help us realize that questioning that which seems ubiquitous, that which seems to slowly seep into everywhere may just be what we need to get our heads out of our asses. Be wary of the slime of what seems oh-so-normal!

Make your own proverb

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How convenient to be able to do online readings with my deck of the week! That enables me to do a draw with the intention of creating my own proverb for the day. It works like this:

  1. You draw a few cards (three seem to be a good number) from your deck of choice.
  2. Then you write down a few words/concepts you associate with each card on that day.
  3. Now you make several combinations of these words, taking one from each card.
  4. Pick your favorite one.

The picture is a screenshot from the online draw, which is why the cards don’t quite look like my 2009 edition.

 

Love — Love, peace, sunshine, friendship, support, just being

There is nothing… you can do — Separation, acceptance, crafting/craft, detachment, refusal, lack of choice

Freak — Freak, monster, strange, not giving a shit, alien, connected, special

This makes:

Love accepts strangeness.
Make peace and accept the monster within.
Friendship makes the alienation go away.
You are what you are, and that’s a freak who doesn’t give a shit about other people’s opinion.

It seems I come back to the idea of embracing one’s strangeness and being supported in it by people who love us.

It’s an apt message for today (and actually not just for today).