Category Archives: reading

First, let’s get confused (Rune Cards)


Here’s my first reading with the Rune Cards.


I’m going to look at the card image alone first and will then consult the little white book (LWB) that comes with the deck. I’m giving the Anglo-Saxon rune names first, followed by the Elder Futhark names (if applicable) in parenthesis, if only so I can learn all names. The images are borrowed from another website that I sadly haven’t bookmarked, so I can’t tell you the source.

1. Where am I in terms of my spirituality right now?Aurochs / Ur (Uruz)

Two big drinking horns lie on a table, together with a die that has the rune of “ur” carved on it. One of the drinking horns has metal decorations at the rim and point, the other is left plain. A male aurochs stands in the background, facing the left and looking slightly to the front. (Actually, the animal looks more like a buffalo than an actual aurochs, but for now I’m willing to accept that as artistic license.)

The opening of the decorated drinking horn is facing the viewer, looking a bit like an entrance to a cave or something. That makes me think of the oft-quoted tunnel-like passage that many shamanic journeyers encounter at the beginnings of their journeys (particularly to the Lower World). From the outside, it’s just a drinking horn, but there’s no telling where the inside passage leads. The fact that there are two entrances also suggests that choosing one (the right one?) might be of importance here. And the die makes me think that consulting an oracle (or, if you prefer that view, making a choice by a random method) might just be the way to go.

The aurochs itself makes me think of wild cattle and the role they played for our ancestors (I’m only referring to what is now roughly considered European territory here because that’s the cultural background of the runes and the illustrations of this deck. That’s not supposed to suggest that aurochs or other wild cattle weren’t present elsewhere.). Aurochs were hunted (I assume that all parts of their bodies were used for food, clothing, and tools)  and paintings of them appear in several prehistoric caves, such as Lascaux or Chauvet. All in all, it makes me think of a very early time in human history, and different ways of connecting to that ancestry (such as shamanic journeying, experiential archeology, scientific research, etc.). And that suggests that there is always more than one method to reach the goal of connecting, and that most likely a combination of them will bring the best (= most useful, most reliable, most respectful) results.

The fact that the animal depicted on the card is not actually an aurochs makes me think that I need to keep checking the “facts” of whatever I’m told is the “truth” about any spiritual path. While a bison or buffalo is probably closer to an aurochs than a Holstein dairy cow, it’s still not the same, and the difference may indeed matter. So this is not about just believing everything, even if it comes from an “expert” but to do my own research and verification process to get confirmation of something.

So, let’s see what the LWB has to add to that. The rune poem given for Ur consists of four stanzas and centers on the value of strength and the will to fight, as well as on the need to temper it with courage, determination, wisdom and cunning. In other words, “Those who have strength but lack strategy will become the captive of others.”

The divinatory meanings mention assertive strength again (not necessarily physical strength, though) and also speak of the need to conserve strength, to rest and recuperate.

All in all, I would say this card is about allowing for some time until I actively go into that cave/tunnel again (that is, before I take any further steps, especially on a shamanic path). Instead, some reflection of whose values and “truths” I want to take on as mine seems to be in order. And that makes a lot of sense, because I’m still busy shedding all the expectations of my former workplace and related environments and reconnecting to my “roots” (mostly of my own life history for now).

2. What’s the next step for me? What should I do?Weapon / Yr

This shows a scene of hands-on battle. There are a lot of helmets, swords, arrows, a few shields, and some faces contorted in yelling. Bolts of lighting strike down from the night sky, ravens (or crows) fly above the battlefield, and a big battle axe with the “yr” rune engraved on it is held up in the foreground of the picture.

I know that thunder(bolts) are associated with the hammer-wielding Northern god Thor, but I’m not sure that the ravens aren’t borrowed from Celtic/Irish mythology here (as related to the war goddesses Badb and Morrígan). However, Wikipedia tells me that “the word [for raven] was frequently used in combinations as a kenning for bloodshed and battle,” so I might be mistaken here.

The battle looks like a scene of much chaos, violence and fear to me, and it’s certainly not a scene that I’d happily enter. I’m in no way the type to engage in physical battle (although I believe I would be able to defend myself against a physical one-on-one attack), and even shy away from peaceful demonstrations or big concerts because I never trust “the masses” around me to be on my side when push comes to shove. However, the battle axe with the rune suggests a guiding principle which might just give structure (if not sense) to the chaos. The lightning bolts make me think of divine intervention, for better or worse, and suggest there might be a bigger plan to all of it, even if I can’t see it from my current point of view.

Besides the idea that finding my own guiding principles probably is a good idea before I enter any “battle” I’m not quite sure what this card is telling me to do.

Let’s see if the LWB can shed some light on this. The rune poem praises the use of the axe-hammer as a piece of war-gear and suggests it is a useful thing to have with you on a journey. The divinatory meanings for the card list several verbs that describe violent destruction of a thing or person and state that the “enemy could be an opponent or an illness, or anything that could be harmful to you.”

Right now, this seems to underline the wild aspect of the Ur card, so perhaps my reading of that as waiting some more before action takes place isn’t quite right? I hope the third card will clarify this matter some more!

3. What should I avoid?Ing (Ingwaz)

A big fire burns upon an otherwise snow-covered hill surrounded by a forest in the night. Its flames merge with a Green Man-like face made of what looks like oak leaves.

The depiction of a god or land spirit (I think that Ing is another name of Freyr, but I need to check that later on) makes this card different from the other two that only used things that are on the more material side of things (or symbols for deities like the flashes of lightning). In terms of something not to do as my next step I would think this means I’m not supposed to attempt any direct spirit communication at this point.

Okay, let’s check Wikipedia first. Ing, or Yngvi, is indeed an older name for the god Freyr. From what little I already know about the Northern deities, Freyr is a Vanir god and embodies a fertile masculinity that is much tied to the land and to sunshine and prosperity. Thor, on the other hand, is an Aesir god who is associated more with battle, protection, and physical strength. In other words, there are two different kinds of masculinity that appear as “do” and “don’t” for me in this reading.

That alone is rather interesting, since masculinity has indeed been an issue for me in the more recent past. Not only has my partner transitioned into an everyday life as someone who is almost always read as a “man” (despite his remaining self-identification as a third-gender butch), I have also been read as an “unfeminine” woman, especially in work-related contexts (despite my remaining self-identification as a queer femme). I have struggled (and continue to do so) with how the way his gender is perceived now changes the way my gender is perceived by others (no matter that the changes of his gender as I perceive it away from the rest world have actually been minimal – although that kind of separation is of course an illusion possible only for the sake of the argument). As a result, I’ve come to the realization that outside perception plays a much bigger role in one’s gender reality than I initially thought, and that includes the perception of the gender of the people we’re with. While this is all really fascinating in an academic way, it still means that I’m rather unsure of how to deal with this in my practical life.

I’m also wondering if this emphasis on traditionally “masculine” aspects is just a feature of this reading, or if it is part and parcel of Northern Tradition Paganism as such. I have touched on my own gender issues before, so I’ll just say here that it would be a problem for me if femininity and masculinity in Northern Tradition Paganism were divided along the same old lines of warrior and homemaker/caretaker.

But before I continue to draw the different parts of the reading together to make sense of them all, let’s see what the LWB has to say about the Ing card. Once again, I’m not sure how “purely” Northern the story of the Lord (Ing) and Lady (his sister Eostre) and Ing going to sleep over winter and being roused again by burning holly is (Wikipedia says that Freyr’s sister is Freya, not Eostre, and a superficial Google search finds no relation of Freyr to holly). In fact, the whole “Lord and Lady” business sounds awfully Wiccan to me (although, admittedly, Freyr and Freya actually mean Lord and Lady), and holly is mostly mentioned in relation to the twice-yearly fight of the Holly King and Oak King. At any rate, the LWB rune poem mentions Ing as a hero, and someone who traveled over water. It also lists a lot of positive associations along the lines of hope, optimism, fertility, rebirth, etc.

Well, that doesn’t help me much, I’m afraid. I think I shall continue with my own takes for now.

So let’s go back to whats actually on the cards. One thing that stands out to me is the very similar shape of the Ur and Yr runes. Yr looks like Ur with an extra line down. If I leave everything aside that I have read about the runes/cards during the assembly of this reading, I would say that it could be an extra grounding line. In that metaphor, Ur is the idea, the potential and Yr is the application, the manifestation of it. Nevertheless, the Yr and Ing cards are similar in how they show mostly sky (and spirit) and only a little bit of the earth/ground…


I think we can safely say that I’ve successfully managed to confuse myself to the point of wanting to scratch the reading in its entirety. I guess that what happens when I mix up research and divination to a point that goes beyond checking a fact that I already have in the back of my mind or looking up the translation of an idiom. The part that confuses me most is the battle scene of Yr as my “do” of this reading because I really can’t relate to that imagery at this point in my life. I don’t want to jump headfirst into any kind of battle, but I want to reflect and heal and go slowly instead.

I did learn a few things about this deck and about the runes as such during this reading, though, and that’s always a good thing. I realized that my usual way of reading cards (or other oracles) probably isn’t working very well with this deck as long as I want to use it to learn the runes as such, because what I see in the images is not what I read about the runes and what I would associate with the rune names, the respective stanzas of the rune poem translations, or the rune shapes themselves. I’m not giving up on the approach of doing both things at the same time (reading with this deck and learning the runes as such) just yet, but if future readings turn out to be equally confusing, I might have to do just that. In that case, I might have to decide whether to take this deck as a paper version of the runes (and ignore the images – which would beg the question why I would then use an illustrated deck) or to use the deck as I use my other oracle decks (and ignore the runes – which would lead me to wonder if it’s possible to learn the runes in some other way and still not get distracted by their presence in this oracle).

For now, I’d be grateful for any input on this reading by any of you. Maybe you know more about the runes and can give me some useful pointers about how to interpret what I drew here? Or maybe you see something in the card images that has escaped my attention? All reading methods are welcome!

Trouble at the office (reading with Shelley)


This is the final of three readings with Shelley, Bride of Frankendecken Tarot I have permission to post here. Once again, I have included the card backs as a part of the reading.

This reading is for SD. She described her concern like this:

This is the situation.
I am torn between staying with my job or leaving. I LIKE the work, I LIKE the office and my desk by the window, I LIKE working for my boss. What I can’t stand are “personalities” of approxamatley 1/2 of the office. Imagine the MEAN girls when you were in 6th grade and there you have it. I’ve met up with some of the temps we’ve had and they’ve NEVER seen anything as bad as what goes on in this office. “Toxic” is a mild description. I’m standing up, and calling BS when I see it, but I know it’s not ever gonna change unless some of them leave and I don’t see that happening. Keep in mind I’m a Taurus…I move at the speed of a snail with stuff like this.
SO, I guess I’m asking for guidance with my job. Not a Yes/No stay/go, but just guidance for where I am now.

I pulled three cards for you, without positional meanings.

King of Cups (Radiant Rider Waite) — World (Legacy of the Divine) — Five of Swords (Sun and Moon)

The first thing I noticed is the symmetry of the cards: two white-bordered ones with lots of blue at the sides, a circular one with copper-colored borders in the middle. It’s as if the two side cards came to have a round table discussion.

So, let’s see what they have to say.

The King of Cups is definitely uneasy. His seat is safe, his feet are dry, but his cloak is hanging into the water already. It will probably get worse once he stands up to move. Not that he would have anywhere to go if he wants to stay dry. He doesn’t even have his hands free, so it would be difficult to even pull the cloak seam out of the water. But there is a ship in the background which is hopefully coming to his rescue. If only he would stand up and wave his cloak to make sure they see him! But he seems a bit frozen in his current position.

I believe this is you, not feeling at ease in your work environment but also not willing to give up your position.

The Five of Swords shows a person (presumably male) flat on their back, with swords stuck in the ground around them, and another person (presumably female) holding two more swords. Above them is a lot of sky.

Again, we have a situation of being stuck in an uncomfortable and restraining position that is not quite as inescapable as it seems. Yes, moving could result in becoming a target for an attack (or at least a threat), but if she hasn’t stuck a sword into him by now, it seems unlikely that she will. I believe this is more a struggle of minds: Will you believe you can’t move and have no options but to admit defeat? Or can you see a way out of the stuckness that will gain you some more breathing room? Because there is enough room here for everyone.

The four elements are represented on the central World card, echoing the yellow and blue (for fire and water) of the King at the bottom and the green and grey-white (for earth and air) of the Five at the top. That tells me that you shouldn’t let emotions rule your decision (they can and should play a role, but they can’t have the last word). Otherwise it will all be high drama with very little substance.

The middle card also features a court jester-like figure in the very center, holding a crystal ball and a hoop. Interestingly, he has no face, just a mask. This makes me think of dishonesty, playing games, making each other jump through hoops and relying on a vague sense instead of a hard fact. I believe this fits what you said about the interpersonal atmosphere at your job. Since it’s smack in the middle of the card (and reading), I don’t think it will go away anytime soon. However, there is also a thick border around it, almost like a steel-enforced containment field. This suggests that it might be possible to reign in the destructive elements in some way (which will probably need support because it doesn’t look like a one-person job). Put the “mean girls” into a petri dish and study them so you learn where their weak spots are, with the goal of limiting their sphere of influence.

However, this will require standing up and making waves. You may call attention to yourself and it may not all be friendly. But there doesn’t seem to be any real danger for you, just discomfort. If you decide to try and do something about the other people in the office, you will need reinforcements (have you talked to your boss? to your other coworkers? someone else who might be able to support you?). And they will be there for you, even if you have to take the first step on your own.

Of course you can also decide not to fight that fight and look for another job.

If you ask me personally (and this is not from the cards), I would give the option to try and change things at your current job a shot. If it doesn’t work at all, you can still leave. But you will have tried. And you never know who is just waiting for someone else to take the first step… :)

Oh, wait. I nearly forgot the card backs!
A sky full of stars, a decorated stone tablet with a mysterious crystal ball insert, and a mandala in black and white.
You are not alone. You need to find the right way to set things in motion, the right combination, the right companions (the middle one makes me think of movies like The Fifth Element and similar “mysterious stone structure needs to be opened by combined efforts” stories). You need to consider the consequences of your actions, the ripple effect, for good and for bad. And you can totally take your time and do this slowly. :)

I hope this reading is useful to you! Please let me know if I can clarify anything.

After the first date (reading with Shelley)


This is the second of three readings with Shelley, Bride of Frankendecken Tarot that I got permission to post here. Again, the special feature of these readings is the inclusion of the card backs. Click on the pictures to see bigger versions of the cards.

This reading is for TM. She has this question:

What happened to N? We went on our first date [three days ago] and I have yet to hear from him. I haven’t called/text/email him and neither has he. Is he waiting for me to contact him? Or is he not interested? The date went well (or so I thought). Would like a little insight.

So, what do you need to know about N’s expectations of you? And what else do you need to know about the situation? I think that’s two cards.

1. What do you need to know about N’s expectations of you?Six of Wands (Mythic Tarot)

N seems to be a bit of a show-off. He likes to be admired for his achievements. What he doesn’t realize is that people are a bit intimidated by him and tend to keep their distance if not explicitly invited. So he may have wanted you to contact him and tell him that you enjoyed the date (if in fact you did enjoy it, of course) but he didn’t realize that you wouldn’t do so without an explicit invitation.

There’s also a sense of him being occupied with getting something special (the golden fleece of Greek myth depicted here), so he may be waiting to contact you until he has something special to offer. He might want to get tickets to a special event, or a table at a special place, or a special gift, or even just enough money to take you out again (special doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, just hard to get for him). That mean that you shouldn’t get in touch, only that he isn’t initiating it at this point.

And finally there’s this group of people in the background. I’m not entirely sure who they are – his friends, teasing him or egging him on? Other people who also would like to spend more time with him? Or people who try to keep him away? At any rate, something is happening in the background that distracts him. Which, again, doesn’t mean he’s not interested, just that he’s busy with something else at the moment.

All in all I would say he wouldn’t mind if you contacted him, even if he has reasons not to initiate contact himself.

2. What else do you need to know about the situation?King of Swords (Feng Shui Tarot)

The first thing that stood out about me from this card was the glitter and nail polish that has been added to it by the card’s previous owner. It certainly creates an interesting contrast to the serious king and his white tiger! It also adds emphasis on places that aren’t necessarily the focal points of the card (e.g. the king’s robe, the tiger’s nose, the hills in the background). However, it also makes the sword stand out very much.

To me, this means that things have more than one layer to them. What you see on the surface isn’t identical to what’s below. Things may look more “shiny” than they actually are.
At the same time, I get a sense of a challenge (or even a mild threat) from the way the sword is placed (as if someone else put it there). Something isn’t quite out in the open here, just like the tiger is half hidden behind the king’s sleeve.

N may have some reservations and may want to think about things a bit more before he makes a decision about whether or not to let you look behind the curtains. I get a feeling he isn’t quite sure how much he can trust you.

I have a feeling you may need to bring some patience to this if you’re interested in peeling away the layers. You would also have to show (not tell) that you’re trustworthy. But even then you may not find what you thought you’d find.

The backs of the cards are very different in color, but they are both very reduced in their imagery. The first one is a deep blue with a yellow meandering border made out of tiny square spirals. The second one is a red circle made of four spiralling parts on a parchment-like background. I find it striking that a squarish spiral pattern appears in both of them! This suggests there is a common thread for the two of you, even if it’s expressed in very different ways and even if it’s not immediately obvious. If you manage to find that common thread, you may just have a really good beginning for something more.

I really hope this reading is useful to you. I don’t usually do readings that focus so little on opportunities for action, so I would like to add a bit of a disclaimer: I may have gotten it all wrong, so please don’t base your decision entirely on this reading! :)

Stuck on a project (reading with Shelley)


I’ve gotten permission from three sitters to post the readings I did with Shelley, Bride of Frankendecken Tarot here on my blog. I will space them out a bit so the other two will be visible in a day or two. Thank you to all my sitters!

Edited to add: The special feature of readings with Shelley is that I include the card backs in the readings. After all, they’re all different, so they probably have something to add.

The first reading is for G. She asked:

What is holding me back in the project I am working on?

Two cards for you.

1. What is holding you back?Nine of Wands (University Books Rider Waite Tarot)

You have just realized that things are not as tidy as you would like them to be. Perhaps you haven’t planned as carefully as you could have, or maybe you only now see how things should fit together. You probably blame yourself for not getting it right from the get-go. And now you hesitate to invest even more energy because you’re frustrated that it didn’t turn out the way you wanted so far.

Maybe you also worry about what others will think about you because of the way your project appears. Especially in terms of drawing lines between here and there. Are you being too unconventional and fear you won’t be understood? Too suspicious of others who may set foot into your territory?

At any rate, something is giving you a headache and making you feel uneasy and defensive.

2. What can help you move forward?The Lovers (Victorian Romantic Tarot)

Sharing. Having someone else look at the project with fresh eyes and point out its wonders to you. Perhaps they will even lend a hand? Or maybe you need some guidance by someone more experienced/knowledgeable?

Getting into the middle of it, surrounding yourself with it, immerse yourself in it. Not considering anyone else’s opinion. (Yes, this is almost the opposite of the bit before. I believe there is a time for both.)

Remember (or imagine) how you want the project to look when it’s done. If it’s too far away from what you are able to make with your current resources (because a fence of irregularly hammered-in sticks will never miraculously transform itself into a Roman-esque stone railing), consider adjusting your expectations to what’s possible – or decide to abandon it altogether. In other words, be realistic about your capacities. Irregular wooden fences can be very charming in their own way…

Whatever you do, it’s time to make a decision. Are you going to move forward with it? Or are you going to let it go? Staying in limbo between these two choices won’t make things magically solve themselves.

A quick look at the first card back shows an ankh symbol (Egyptian for life) on what looks like drifts of sand (like in a desert). The other is a very busy, very detailed arrangement of women, vases, and vines surrounded by red squares. Tiny red hearts stand out in pairs of two.
To me, this emphasizes the need to get the “life force” of the project going again, and the hearts tell me that there are two things you could do to make that happen:
1. Find someone to support you and maybe even practically help you.
2. Determine why you wanted to do the project in the first place and try to find something about it to love. Even if it’s just the prospect of being done with it eventually (and a potential lesson in patience and endurance). ;)

I got a strong sense that this might indeed be about a project related to the outdoors (garden?) of your house. Or something else that’s practical and not so much a matter of mental activity. Also, it’s not some very itty-bitty detailed kind of project that would require a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers.

Well, I hope this is useful and I’m curious to read your feedback! :)

Shelley rules the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2012


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.