Tag Archives: balbi

Looking back on five months of “decks of the week”

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For my 100th public post on this blog I’m going to look back on the “deck of the week” project that was the reason I started blogging here again pretty much exactly five months ago. So far, I have used 21 decks in 22 weeks (17 of them have been tarots, the remaining four were oracles, one of which was a non-card oracle). I think this is totally worth a toast!

Those have been 22 very different weeks in terms of my tarot-related activities.

Sometimes, I did a lot of readings in one week, like with the Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA, Waking the Wild Spirit, or Deviant Moon (unfortunately, I can’t show you most of the readings here so you just have to believe me). The one thing I’ve stopped pretty soon is doing daily draws/readings. I just don’t have that many questions. As a result I currently don’t participate in exchanges all that much, and I also don’t read much for myself. I’m also doubting that readings are as interesting to the readers of this blog as they are for me (and hopefully my sitters). I may eventually go on to borrow the idea of Tarot Bonkers to read in second person or the one of Sharyn’s daily draws with more or less “impersonal” associations (and an interesting quote). Or I may try and read for fictional/historic characters that are somewhat well-known like Satu did a while ago (I especially liked the ones for Eve and Voldemort).

In other weeks I felt more like contemplating a certain aspect of the deck as a whole (e.g. gender in the Deviant Moon, flora and fauna in Waking the Wild Spirit, Hubble space telescope photos that have been used in the Quantum, the Classic suits, or relationships between men during the Renaissance inspired by the Da Vinci Enigma). That has always been fun, especially since all of these studies happened because I suddenly got curious about something…

In yet other weeks I’ve done experiments or exercises with the respective deck (e.g. rearrange furniture and write a Halloween story with the Margarete Petersen, read about Star Trek episodes with the Balbi, do a reverse tarot reading with the Songs for the Journey Home, try out unusual reading methods with the Da Vinci Enigma, chat away with the Silicon Dawn). I’ve also enjoyed those a lot, mainly because I like trying new things. I’ve come across several other great ideas for future experiments on other people’s tarot blogs, so I may use a few of them eventually.

Sometimes I read a lot of background material (like with the Discordian Deck and a little with the Da Vinci Enigma), and sometimes I read nothing but the cards. Often, I just explored individual cards and decks on the side while I was doing a reading (usually for myself). I’m aware that combined readings/card reflections aren’t the best way to present insights, so this is another aspect of this blog that may benefit from some changes.

And sometimes I just blinged the hell out of a card or two (Deviant Moon, Thoth [not a “deck of the week” yet], International Icon Tarot). I’m sure there will be other candidates for that approach.

I was surprised to discover that I wasn’t as happy as I thought when I had the chance to reconnect with old favorites (e.g. Housewives, Ironwing). This led me to the decision to focus mostly on my (nearly) unused decks in my selections for this project. I was also surprised – once again – how well I could read with non-scenic pips (Balbi, Classic, Oswald Wirth, and also the Discordian Deck), and how much I enjoyed that. Finally, I was surprised by how much I liked decks that I felt hesitant about at first (Balbi, Discordian), and how right I was about thinking I’d enjoy others (Key to the Kingdom cards, Silicon Dawn).

I once used two decks in one week (Discordian, Fantastic Menagerie) because I feared one of them (the Discordian) wouldn’t read well enough for me, but quickly noticed that not only had I erred in my assessment of this deck, I also didn’t have the time to look at two decks in just one little week. I also used one deck for three weeks (Silicon Dawn) because I had been looking forward to exploring it during my holidays and then extended the exploration for the entire duration of my time off work. I don’t plan to repeat this with another deck, but the Silicon Dawn was definitely worth it.

The main “trick” for me with this project was not to allow myself to use a different deck just because I don’t like the one I’ve picked for the week (exceptions were my short interlude with the Story Cubes, going back to the tarot deck of the previous week to fulfill an exchange agreement that I couldn’t do with an oracle, or one reading with an erotic deck for an exchange where only those decks were allowed). I found that I can get along with nearly every deck for a week (the Celtic Wisdom Sticks  were the disastrous exception, closely followed by the mess of the Northern Shadows – but I still stuck with each them until the week was over).

I have decided to let go of four of the decks I’ve used (Waking the Wild Spirit, Quantum, Celtic Wisdom Sticks, Tarot of Northern Shadows). I most regret not clicking at all with the Northern Shadows, but pretty pictures really don’t make up for incredibly sloppy research and egomania. I’m actually really glad that I managed to pick some decks for the trade/sale list since I don’t consider myself a collector for collecting’s sake. My idea still is to have a library of working decks, and I’d rather have a small one of tried and tested ones than an ever-extending one of decks I barely get out in a year. I have also acquired seven new tarots/oracles (most of them from fellow Aeclectic members) since I started the project, three of which I’ve already used.

The most-clicked post (excluding the Pagan Blog Project ones) was Bling the Deviant Moon! and the least-clicked one was Why “Deck of the Week”?. The Deviant Moon is one of the most searched-for decks, closely followed by the Margarete Petersen. Most people come here by way of a Google image search, but I hope that some of them also stay around for some of the text.

So far, the project has been totally worthwhile. It kept me using my decks and it made me explore new ones that I hadn’t used before. A week seems a good time to get at least a basic idea of a deck and its compatibility with me, so I’ll stick to that schedule. Anything less would be stressful, and anything more would make me procrastinate because there’d always be next week… Since I’m easily bored, a good deal of variety is key to sticking with something for an extended period of time. I’ve found a lot of interesting things to do with a tarot (or oracle) deck, and I’m sure I won’t run out of ideas anytime soon.

I also have a question or two for you readers (feel free to answer any or all of them):

  • What kinds of tarot/oracle posts on this blog do you like best? Why? (Excluding the ones for the Pagan Blog Project, because those are a completely different category of writing for me.)
  • How do you feel about the posts from the “reading” category, especially the ones that aren’t also “experiments”? Do you like them? Why (not)?
  • Would you like to see some other kind of tarot or oracle-related posts that I haven’t written so far? (I’m not saying I’ll fulfill any wishes but you may just inspire me!)

Please feel free to add any other comments you’d like to make about this project and my way of blogging about it. I’m very curious! I’d also like to get a better idea of your interests and preferences so I can better judge what of my writing is of public interest and what is better kept behind the scenes. After all, I don’t want to bore you!

And now all I have to say for today is: Good night!

Goodbye, Balbi (for now)…

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Sheesh, another week has passed very quickly! I’ve been busy most evenings once again, plus we had no internet for Friday and Saturday. I regret that I didn’t get more time to do things with the Balbi, and I did think about adding an extra week with that deck, but then I thought it’s better to stop when I still want more… So I’m sticking to my one week per deck schedule and will pick a new one in a bit. The Balbi is definitely a keeper, and I’m already looking forward to spending more time with it later on.

Since I haven’t done a New deck Interview this week, I can’t do my usual revisiting of that. Instead, I’ll ask it for any parting words it may have for me (no positional meanings).

3 Copas (3 Cups) — 1 Oros (Ace of Coins) — XIII (Death)

The Three of Cups is the card that introduced me to the Tarot Balbi a while ago when I got a reading from a fellow AT member (it was very accurate and helpful). I’m not even sure if there were more cards in the reading, because I only remember this one. The center with its spiral makes me think of the bellydance party I went to yesterday. It was a very joyful celebration indeed, with an outpouring of friendly and exuberant energy, and all worries were relegated to the outside of it. I didn’t know how much I missed dancing with other women (freestyle, not choreography) just for the fun of it. And I love the way bellydance allows me to pick up someone else’s move for an instant connection with a stranger, throw an inviting grin across the dance floor at a newcomer, revel in the beauty of all these different women and all their different ways of turning music into movement, shamelessly express my joy in my own body, and just share an altogether good time with each other without any bitchiness. I missed that. (Interestingly, the two older-than-me women I pegged as lesbians were the ones least open to my attempts at sharing a moment of dance together. Which was a pity because they seemed like nice people, and I always like meeting other queers at non-queer events.)

The Ace of Coins with its astrological symbols reminds me how much of the Balbi’s depths I never even touched upon — numerology, kabbalah, astrology… It also makes me think of my incomplete study of the deck’s court cards (many of which are associated with an astrological sign). Stuff for the long list of things to do at some other point in my life (unless I decide otherwise)! So, for today, I just have the picture I took when I laid out all the courts. Suits, left to right: Copas (Cups), Espadas (Swords), Bastos (Wands), Oros (Coins); ranks, top to bottom: Sota (Page), Caballo (Knight), Reina (Queen), Rey (King). My favorite card in the entire deck is the Reina de Bastos (Queen of Wands).

The final card, the unnamed XIII (Death), tells me that the week with this deck is over. For some reason, I like the goggle-like eyes and red head scarf and loin cloth the skeleton is wearing. The randomly chopped off heads, hands, and feet could be gruesome, but mostly look like they’re growing out of the ground like flowers. Which in itself is a great illustration of the circle of life and death where something has to die so something else can live/grow. Indeed, this week saw my last quasi-supervision meeting with the “old” hospice organization, and the email telling me I have been accepted for training at the “new” hospice service (in that order). I still feel I’m in a period of change all around, so Death seems a suitable card to signify that.

Well, dear Balbi, it has been a colorful week with you! Hope to reconnect with you later on and get to know you a bit more in-depth. This deck could be a great candidate for an Intensive Deck Study (IDS). I think I’m now less afraid to read with non-scenic pips because the Balbi ones offer so much in the way of colors and arrangements and “decorations” that they hardly feel much different than the rest of the deck.

P.S. As I was just updating the Decks page with some more links for the Balbi, it struck me as funny that the deck is based on writings by a guy named Eudes Picard, and I did a reading with it about a TV series where the spaceship captain is called Jean-Luc Picard

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…

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!