Tag Archives: celtic wisdom sticks

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!

Any last words, sticks?

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As I did with the Quantum Tarot, I decided to ask the Celtic Wisdom Sticks for some parting words…

I got Ruis (Elder) in North.

Now that’s a nice combination that by way of some odd chain of associations basically just says one word to me: Ancestors.

Frau HolleElder is Holunder in German, also called Holler. It’s said to be dedicated to the goddess (and Brothers Grimm fairy tale character) Frau Holle (Mother Hulda, read it here), and may in fact have gotten its name from her. There are also relations from Frau Holle to a general Earth goddess, and to other Germanic/Norse goddesses like Hel or Frigg (worthwhile sources for more information: German Wikipedia, English Wikipedia). Of course, Frau Holle is also an Elder in the sense that she is a wise (and slightly scary) old woman. Since Frau Holle is a German fairy tale/mythological figure/goddess, I’m making a connection to my own German ancestors here.

ElderberriesElder is a plant that also makes me think of growing up next to a small forest because I think it was the plant that had a very distinctive and not particularly pleasant smell when cut/broken off (I never actually checked later on if that memory is accurate). But a bit of elder didn’t spoil the forest for me. European mixed forests are in fact one kind “landscape” that nearly always feels like home to me.

I also associate North with Ancestors, foundations, and the element of Earth.
After these associations of my own, let’s see what the companion book offers.

First, I learn that Ruis comes from the word “to redden” and that the elder tree is related to blushing out of anger or shame. Then I’m told that elder is “believed to be unlucky for general use” and that it “is very much a tree of endings and completions.” I could interpret that to mean that the Celtic Wisdom Sticks don’t work for “fluffy” questions, and that my time with them is actually over. Finally my smell memory is confirmed because “elder blossom has a pungent, unpleasant smell” (so it’s not the wood but the flowers).

Here’s the actual quote for Ruis in North:

Give bounteously from your store of good things.
The goods, gifts, and resources that make you who you are need to be used. If they are kept for some mythical rainy day, their beauty fades, their savour sours. You may possess the very thing that is required at this moment — the lack of this thing or quality may make a great difference to the lives of many.
Question: In what ways is your innate bounty being called upon?

That ties in with another reading I got today, and with a project I have just started. I also believe it tells me that there’s no sense in keeping this oracle just in case I ever find myself in the situation of needing this and none other. Instead, I should pass it on — which fits well with my idea of gifting the set to someone else instead of selling or trading it.

At least we part on talking terms, so that’s a nice final note.

Celtic Fail Sticks

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— I have no idea why this ended up in my drafts only but not on my blog… I’m sure I eventually clicked “publish”! Oh well. So I’m posting this a bit late (should have gone up on November 25 already).
Edited to add: I’ve changed back the posting date now, so the posts are in chronological order. –

Two days ago, I wrote this about the Celtic Wisdom Sticks:

Hmmm… So far, I’m not quite sure what to make of the Celtic Wisdom Sticks. To me, it’s not an oracle that works out of the box but one that requires at least the study of the companion book, if not ogham and Celtic tree lore as such.
Also, the application of the oracular text snippets seems rather limited. Or maybe the oracle just doesn’t deal with non-crucial matters. Or maybe I just can’t interpret it very well.
At any rate, I’d rather go for a straight-forward bibliomancy reading than for the somewhat complicated method of picking a stick, determining the direction to go with it, look up the oracular text bit, and then interpret that. Or, as is suggested in the book (haven’t tried that methods yet), picking a stick, reading the accompanying quatrain (four lines of rhyming text), and then entering that scene via guided meditation to arrive at the answer. I’m not patient enough for that kind of thing. Especially not when it comes to everyday questions/matters – and I wouldn’t use the Celtic Wisdom Sticks for any major issues anyway.
I don’t think I’ll be keeping this oracle after the week is over because I’m pretty sure I won’t be using it again.

So maybe I wasn’t particularly open from the get-go. In addition to that, I managed to do only one reading for someone else this week. Which was a total fail on my part (I’m just glad the reading wasn’t about something major for the sitter!).

At first, I had to make up my mind about how to actually read this oracle for someone else, since I have this rule that I can’t go off Wikipedia-ing the night away when I read for others. I finally decided on this method: I pulled one stick each for the two spread positions from the bag and then used the indicator stick to get a direction associated with each one. Then I consulted the companion book for the bit of text associated with the draw and interpreted that. I found that the little text snippets didn’t seem to fit the question (which was rather light hearted and about “fun”) very well. But since I don’t know any other method of reading with this oracle (outside of seriously studying up on ogham and Celtic tree lore – which may just be what’s required to be able to leave the companion book aside), I just winged it.

Well, that sealed the fate of the Celtic Wisdom Sticks for me – I don’t think I’ve been THAT off ever before with any kind of divination. Even if the sticks merely refuse to reply to such light-hearted questions and would read great on a deeper issue, they’re just not a good match for me and my reading style.

Which is why I’m choosing the next deck(?) early this week…

First reading with the Celtic Wisdom Sticks

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I pulled one of the Celtic Wisdom Sticks to see what this oracle has to offer me for this week.

I drew Saille (Willow) and got East on the indicator stick. Before I go and read the text in the companion book, here are a few words about my associations with both the tree and the direction.

Willow is a feminine tree to me, and it makes me think of the moon although I couldn’t say why exactly. It may be something I picked up somewhere. I’m also thinking of weeping willows and the Whomping Willow from the Harry Potter novels which I find a nice twist on the concept. We actually have a willow tree in front of our house. It is a favorite spot for the squirrels that live around here. I also know that willow bark contains some substance that is similar to aspirin. Wikipedia tells me (among other interesting things) it’s effective against fever and aches and that it’s called “salicylic acid,” from the plant genus Salix. Apparently, there are also members of the same tree family called sallows. All these terms seem linguistically related to the word saille. Then there’s a Bach flower essence from willow which seems to be related to feelings of self-pity for a perceived lack of success and the treatment thereof.

East as a direction symbolizes new beginnings to me, and is associated with the element of air.

Together, these two could be about a new start in some or all of these areas.

The book confirms some of the above information and reminds me that willows grow best in wet areas. For Saille in East it gives me this bit of oracular text.

It is time to conclude some plans and to let other things go.

The availability of time together with the opportunity to finalize a project is often lacking because energies are stretched. In order to reach completion, non-essentials often have to be dropped. Regardless of a sense of things unfinished, now is not a time to complicate matters, but an opportunity to focus on conclusions.

Question: What essential factors can be finalized?

Interesting how this focuses on conclusions rather than the beginnings I thought of! There are a couple of things I have been putting off (not concluding), mostly because I wanted to do them right, not just do them any old way. I can see how that kind of perfectionism may stand in the way of finishing things.

I’m a bit disappointed that the book offers so little in terms of tree lore, especially when it comes to any traditional associations. Then again, there still seems to be some debate as to whether ogham has traditionally been used as an oracle at all, so that could explain the lack. I really need to read the introductory chapters of the book and find out more about ogham…

I’m not yet sure what to make of this as an oracle. It doesn’t seem to offer instant “aha” moment like many illustrated things. I believe I need to gain some more experience with a question that makes it easier to check meaningfulness. I also may need to get used to this particular kind of non-visual and highly symbolic oracle. The whole reading procedure reminds me of a simplified I Ching reading, so that could be an interesting comparison (not that I have much experience with the I Ching, mind you).

New not-deck: Celtic Wisdom Sticks

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From this week on, I’m including my non-card oracles in the list to choose from. This week, I got these suggestions from the random number generator:

My decision was fairly easy this week. It still doesn’t feel right to use the Baum Tarot when the trees here have all shed their leaves (as I already stated here). And I didn’t want to use a tarot with non-scenic pips again so soon after the Tarot Balbi. That left the Celtic Wisdom Sticks (subtitled “An Ogam Oracle”).

I got the set (without bag) in an exchange on AT, but have never done more than a quick test reading before.

The sticks themselves look a bit “cheap” — they are all made from triangular wedges of the same wood, have burned slots for the left/right/across/diagonal lines and titles handwritten in black marker. I remember checking out the different handwritings on the sticks and wondering about who wrote the titles onto the sticks. The companion book seems well-researched and worth a read.

The suggested reading method is drawing one or more sticks and then using a four-sided indicator stick to determine which one of four snippets of text applies for each of the sticks. I may also experiment with dropping the sticks onto a reading surface and reading the pattern instead of the text, or whatever other method I can think of.

I’m looking forward to reading up a bit on ogam (ogham) and to handling wooden sticks instead of flat slices of cardboard for a week. When I first read about ogham, I wanted to make my own set, using the appropriate self-collected wood for each stick, but never got around to actually doing so. I much enjoy handling wooden items, and I’m infamous for bringing home sticks from my walks more often than not. So the Celtic Wisdom Sticks sound like a good choice for me. I’m curious to see how actually reading with them will work out.