Tag Archives: animals

New decks: Discordian Deck and Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

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For this week, the random number generator gives me a choice between:

I’ve decided to go with two of them: the Discordian Tarot (which is really an oracle) and the Fantastic Menagerie Tarot. I never used the Discordian Deck before, so I’m curious to explore it. Since I was afraid that I would find it too difficult to read with, or too boring in its imagery, I picked the Fantastic Menagerie Tarot to go with it. That way, I can participate in both the tarot and oracle exchanges, too!

As before, here are some initial impressions:

Discordian Deck: I printed my copy on slightly thicker paper (120g/mĀ² or something?) from the PDF that is linked here. Therefore, shuffling is not as smooth as that of thicker decks, but the deck is very small and light-weight. When I took it off the shelf today, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read with it at all, but once I examined the system a bit more closely, I found it to be quite intriguing and well-structured. I’m curious how it will actually read for me.

Since this deck doesn’t seem to be widely known in tarot circles, here’s some more information about it. The deck has five suits (Sweets, Booms, Pungents, Prickles, and Oranges) that are related to the five senses, with ten cards per suit (five of the ten are illustrated with something beyond the mere number of suit symbols). In addition to that, there are 23 trumps, most of which come in pairs of contradiction (e.g. The Initiate, illustrated with a hand holding a book open to read from it and explained as “one who seeks knowledge” and The Illuminate, illustrated with a hand writing into a book and explained as “one who dispenses knowledge”). The deck has been published in (at least) three versions, all of which may be freely copied, embellished, and distributed (see the Decks page for more details).

As the name of the deck suggests, it is related to Discordianism, which I won’t try to summarize here. Among other interesting things, it comes with its own calendar (today is Prickle-Prickle, 70th Bureaucracy, 3177). From what I’ve seen when I followed some Discordian trails across the internet today, people who are into Discordianism also often seem to be into hacking/computer geekery, non-mainstream sexuality/gender, and other kinds of weirdness. Sounds like good company to me, even though I’m not exactly one of them (then again, I’m not exactly not one of them, either).

Anyhow, even after a brief consideration of the deck and some googling of discordian-related stuff, I already think it will be an interesting week. And if I find that I can’t read very well with the deck, I can always read some more about Discordianism…

The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot features images from 19th century French illustrator, J.J. Grandville. The website for the deck tells me that he was “[k]nown as the ‘Father of Surrealism’,” which makes me think the two decks might be an interesting combination.

I usually don’t like clothed animals much (sold my Tarot of the Animal Lords because of that), but these are done in a style that makes them look pretty readable. In fact, I’ve used the deck before a few times and it worked well for me. I don’t like all of the colorings and I’m not so much into the busier cards (e.g. Emperor, King of Coins, Strength, Four of Coins) because the different creatures and surfaces seem to blur into each other on them. A lot of the cards are delightfully quirky, though, and I think they’ll be fun to read with.

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Flora and Fauna of Waking the Wild Spirit

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Since some of the plants and animals stood out in my readings this week, I decided to look through the deck and make a list of the ones I could identify. (I once did the same with the Greenwood Tarot where it yielded a few interesting insights.)

Animals (bold = more than one appearance):

  • birds
    • bird of prey (buzzard/hawk, falcon/kestrel)
    • owl (barn owl, little owl)
    • crow/raven
    • swan
    • blackbird
    • swallow
    • heron
    • dove
    • magpie, jay, stork, seagull, kingfisher, blue tit, finch
  • mammals
    • horse/unicorn
    • rabbit/hare
    • deer/stag
    • fox
    • cat
    • dog
    • hedgehog, badger, mouse, bear, wolf
  • reptiles/amphibians
    • frog/toad
    • snake
  • other
    • butterfly (several kinds)/moth
    • snail
    • shell (several kinds)
    • spider, bee, stag beetle, centipede, wood louse, worm, fish

The most common animals are birds in general (especially birds of prey and owls), horses, and butterflies/moths. That is, if we’re not counting humans, fairies, or elves.

Plants:

  • flowers
    • poppy
    • cornflower
    • daisy
    • bell flower/bluebell, rose hip/briar rose, rose, forget-me-not
  • trees + leaves
    • beech
    • ivy
    • holly, chestnut, oak, maple, linden/lime, yew
  • vegetables + fruit
    • strawberry
    • apple
    • blackberry
    • tomato, artichoke, carrot, potato, corn, string bean, garlic
  • other
    • fungi (fly agaric, parasol, morel(?), boletus(?))
    • wheat

The most common plants are poppy flowers (which is perhaps to be expected since the creators name is Poppy Palin) and corn flowers.

Several cards have plants and animals that could be identifiable if I knew more about the different species:

  • leaves (Magical Spirit, The Gypsy, Spring, Fledgeling, Wise Counsellor)
  • flowers (Wild Harvest, Full Bloom, Blood Bond, Spirit of Love, Mother of Life, Awakening Spirit, Wildwitch, The Storyteller)
  • birds (Tools, Hovering, Spiral Dance, Seed)

All the flora and fauna of the deck are indeed native to Europe (except the unicorn), which means they feel familar to me and I can read them comparatively well. That said, I still have looked up several plants to find out if they have any particular characteristics or uses or mythologies attached to them.

Finally, here are some numbers:

  • 24 cards feature animals but no plants (besides generic grass or trees)
  • 14 cars have only plants but no animals (besides generic bird shapes)
  • 22 cards have both identifiable plants and animals
  • 18 cards feature neither plants nor animals (some show generic trees or grass, or bird shapes, but no identifiable species)

New deck: Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot

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I’ve decided to change to my next deck a bit early since I don’t think I’ll get anything else out of the Deviant Moon today after that huge analysis.

The random number generator gives me a choice between:

Wow, that’s a tough choice! I’ve read with all of these decks before, but not often. All of them seem like good candidates for further use. I think I’ll go with the one that I found most difficult to read so far: Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot.

As before, here are some initial impressions:

This deck originally comes with borders in garish colors that distract hugely from the card images, and two sets of titles (above and below the image, respectively). I immediately wanted to trim the deck when I got it. Since the cards don’t follow any tarot tradition in their imagery, however, I hesitated about cutting off both titles at once. When I learned that Poppy Palin didn’t mean to create a tarot deck but was persuaded by her publisher to turn her deck into one, I decided to trim away the upper titles because they also had the tarot numbering. That pretty much made the cards unidentifiable for me, since the three sheets of mini-descriptions that came with the deck give only the upper titles. I suppose this is one reason why I never got into using the deck. I may still eventually trim off the lower title and border as well, since those don’t add much to the cards anyway. At any rate, I will use the deck as an oracle (with a few tarot influences) in the coming week. I mostly read individual card imagery over assigned meanings across decks, so I should be fine with that.

What bugs me most about the deck are the frequent 1980s hairstyles (hair in general isn’t what Palin draws best). While many of the cards are drawn in a beautifully realistic style, there are some with human anatomy that makes me cringe because it’s so unintentionally off. The right arm of the Spirit Guide/Interpreter/Hierophant is just one example, the left hand of the red-haired person in the Blood Bond/Four of Water is another. I’m also pretty sure that no actual horse has muscles even remotely like the one in the Wild Power/Natural Force/Strength does.

What I like best about Waking the Wild Spirit, is the range and intensity of colors. I love that there are a lot of animals in the deck, and that all of them (except unicorns) can be found in Europe (wolves and bears don’t exactly live round the corner from me, but they do exist). I like the magic-realist style of the images where humans, animals, and various kinds of fairies/sprites co-exist. I also like that most scenes take place outside in nature.

I don’t have the companion book for the deck, but I’ve just re-read two reviews of it that make it sound rather awful. Judging from Poppy Palin’s website, she does seem to be on a mission indeed, and I don’t react well to her style. I’ll include the quasi-LWB (little white book) she has sent with the cards when I bought them from her (there are scans of the three pages at the very bottom of her webpage) in my readings to see if it works for me.

Okay, I think we’re ready for the first reading!

ETA: I think I will choose the least stinky deck next week – this is another one with a rather chemical smell…)