Tag Archives: da vinci enigma

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


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!

Destiny Spread, or: bridging the gap


For my last exercise with the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, I decided to do the “Destiny Spread” described in the companion book, which has been created especially for this deck (and only works with it due to the requirement of the back patterns).

Here’s (roughly) how it works: Shuffle  and pick 6-10 cards unseen from the deck and place them face-down on the reading surface. Then try and connect the patterns on the card backs (they are different on almost each card) to make subgroups of cards (rotating cards is allowed but the edges must line up). If you’re able to match up two halves of one of the polyhedra, you get an additional insight about the elemental energy at work here. After that, turn over the cards and read them, paying attention to the connections you made – or weren’t able to make. If you have solo (“disconnected”) cards, you can draw additional “bridge” cards to add them to a group.

I’m still concerned with a change I want to make in my work life. In fact, I’m seriously contemplating taking some time out from any job at all, some kind of sabbatical if you will. I only just realized a few days ago that I never actually did that when I finished university. Instead, I just started working more hours in what used to be my job as a student, got promoted shortly after, and eventually ended up where I’m now, without ever having taken a break. So the reading is supposed to give me more insight into this idea.

I pulled eight cards from random positions of the shuffled deck. I can’t match up any of the polyhedra, but I can make a group of six and one groups of two cards from the circular pattern. However, I’m having a hard time deciding how to arrange these two groups in relation to each other… Alright, I’ve settled on a pattern that looks like this:


Before turning them over, I think 1 and 2 could be representing where I am now, and the rest where I’d go if I go through with the sabbatical. So let’s turn the cards over and see what I got.

Wow, five out of eight are reversed! Let me just list the card names because I have a feeling this reading will move any way it likes after that:

1. Knight of Air
2. Enigma (High Priestess) rx

3. Knight of Water rx
4. Passover (Hanged Man) rx
5. Five of Air (Contention) rx
6. Ace of Water (Water) rx
7. Five of Water (Unwinding)
8. Nine of Earth (Roots)

First group:

The Knight of Air and Enigma seem to strain away from each other. The Knight of Air is the voice of reason that tells me I need to watch out for my “career,” that this sabbatical idea is crazy – and his horse also seems to balk at it. And the poor guy seems to be losing out already, the way he is hardly visible at all here. He’s also the only card with a blueish tinge to it, whereas the others are brownish or grayish.

Enigma, however, who looks like a sketch for the Mona Lisa, isn’t faint at all even if she holds a nearly transparent shoot of a plant in her hand (suggesting growth is happening already, even if it’s not quite visible yet) and seems to be perfectly calm about the idea of going deeper within instead of moving on/up in the outside world. This is a good portrayal of the two voices on my head at the moment.

Second group:

These two are mirrored by their counterparts in the big group of six. The Knight of Water has a horse that’s nearly invisible (and a dildo-like something coming out of his saddle). His clothes are very detailed, which might hint at my idea of doing  lot more sewing during a sabbatical (and maybe even turn this into one of several sources(! -> water!) of income). His lance is fending off the Knight of Air from moving anywhere near the second group of cards.

Below him I find Passover, a blurry face with cast-down eyes in the same brownish shade as Enigma, turning towards her slightly. Boundaries are dissolving here, some kind of meditation or journeying is happening, and the focus is strictly on the within/otherworld. I don’t have enough knowledge of the Bible to be able to correctly place the theme of Passover (and my internet connection isn’t working right now, effectively keeping me from looking it up). All I know is that it’s something important having to do with the passing of Jesus.* This could possibly point to my volunteer hospice work which I’d definitely continue through any sabbatical.

* Now that the internet connection works again, let me correct my mistakes here: Passover is actually a Jewish holiday, not a Christian one as I thought. It is not connected to the dying of Jesus but to the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egpyt (Wikipedia offers a lot more detail on the holiday). I won’t change my interpretation of the card, though, since I believe that whatever comes up at the time of the reading counts, even if it’s not factually correct.


Next come two Fives next to each other. The Five of Air shows two roughly sketched people fighting. One is on his back, his arm holding a now-useless shield, his feet and legs fighting off the other one who is leaning in, ready to strike with his fist. In comparison, the Five of Water is a detailed drawing of a mechanical contraption consisting of various cog wheels. Where the former is chaotic, the latter is orderly, so I take this to mean that both aspects would be present during a career break, mirroring each other and ultimately creating their own balance.

Finally, there’s the card pair at the bottom. The Ace of Water is about the patterns, waves, and swirls created by flowing water. This is contrasted by some rectangular shapes that serves as blockages/disruptions to the flow, but that are also responsible for making these beautiful swirls in the first place. I take that to mean that the flow of a sabbatical won’t be smooth at all times, but that some interruptions of a straight path may be necessary and beautiful to realize the whole potential of what’s there. The Nine of Earth, subtitled “Roots,” seems a perfect card to end this spread with. Two small trees seem to be holding hands, uh, roots in the ground while growing in all directions. That tells me I will learn more about my roots (possibly about my ancestors, too?), and that I’ll also find a place (literally or figuratively) for me to feel rooted in, grounded in, and supported by. Connections will be made, especially in areas that aren’t immediately visible (spiritual ones?). Finally, water feeds the trees, and the trees transform water (and sunlight) into sugar and oxygen – sweetness, energy, and air to breathe. I would say I’m definitely on the right track here!

Now I’ll go and have a look into the companion book. After all, the directions for this spread also ask me to consider the questions given for each card, and to read the upright or reversed interpretations.

1. What must you champion or defend? — I feel as if I need to defend my professional competence, my “sanity,” my rational abilities because I expect many people around me (especially my current coworkers and bosses) to doubt all of those if I tell them about my plan (especially if I do so too early).

2. What wisdom do you read in the book of your soul? How must you apply it in this matter? — It may be a mystery why I feel so called to take this break, but it’s still the right thing to do. Who knows, it may eventually result in being the greatest thing I ever did (this being a preliminary Mona Lisa and all)!

3. How do you feel about this? — I know who I am, but I don’t know yet what will be carrying me in that new phase of my life.

4. What are the demands of your destiny? What is being asked of you? — To free myself from the “slavery” of my own assumptions about what makes a “proper career path.” To clean and purge, to do things differently, and to take this seriously (can you tell I’ve read up on Passover by now?)

5. Why, and how, are you trying to be right? — To prove to myself and the “voices” in my head (of my parents, “society,” etc.) that there is a different way. That fighting my urge to follow my own path into submission is not the way to go. I feel some pressure to “succeed” in my sabbatical, too, which is a bit difficult since I haven’t clarified my goals for that, yet. Also, because I feel attacked and in a defensive position in relation to pressures I perceive from “mainstream,” “normal” people. Maybe this doesn’t have to be such a fight, though…

6. What is irrigated or blocked? — Right now: my freedom to choose how I organize my work is blocked in some ways that are important to me. My freedom and desire to follow the flow and see where that takes me.

7. What old patterns cause present loss? What new designs clear the way? — My perfectionism combined with unclear priorities (that is, I don’t make enough conscious choices about where to be perfectionistic because it serves a purpose and where to allow for a lower standard because that’s all it needs) certainly causes an unnecessary loss of energy. Becoming more aware of how my own “system” works could probably help here.

8. Where is your rightful place? What is the necessary attitude to take here? — My rightful place is in connection with Nature (which also translates to “in harmony with the Universe” to me), rooted in the Earth, connected to others like me. Maybe in a suitable teacher/student relationship, since the trees are different sizes. The attitude required for this is “at peace” and “in touch.” And “growing,” meaning there will be a time after the sabbatical.

Here are some further thoughts after reading the respective paragraphs in the companion book.

The Mona Lisa is also known as “La Gioconda,” which means “The Playful One.” This reminds me that some of my greatest ideas have come from playing around, joking, or otherwise breaking the boundaries of “serious contemplation.” It’s the same with the idea for this sabbatical which suddenly popped into my head as I was talking to a friend.

The outfit of the Knight of Water is a sketch for a festival costume.

Caitlín Matthews says about the Five of Water: “What you experience as personal melancholy may be a collective ancestral suffering that needs attention.” That is certainly an interesting perspective to consider. Looking at how my ancestors dealt with their work life may indeed offer some valuable insights. If I start journeying shamanically again, this could be an issue to explore in more depth that way.

All in all, I found that I couldn’t relate to the reversed meanings given for the cards. They just didn’t match how I felt about the images when I read them. I will therefore use the upright/reversed positions merely as a way to connect the cards in certain ways, and allow each card the full range of meanings, depending on how it makes sense in the spread as a whole. It makes sense to me that the long column of cards would be reversed, however, in the sense that my path into a sabbatical is anything but clear at the moment, so the energies here may well be blocked. However, I cannot bring myself to see this as a huge warning not to follow this path. Part of this may be wishful thinking, but I truly don’t believe I will move myself towards a terrible catastrophe if I go through with an extended time-out. Especially not since the last card is such a positive one, and in an upright position, too.

To conclude this rather extended reading, I drew a final card to represent what’s most important for me to remember in getting from here to there: Eight of Fire (Trajectory). A row of catapults is set upon the edge of a building. A man wields a huge hammer, ready to hit the catapults and let the stones placed on their ends fly over the wall separating him from the outside. It’s almost as if the wall represents the separation between my two card groups here! So apparently I need to apply my force to the right spots to get this idea flying into the realization of my goals. The book asks, Where are you aiming your intentions? and I’ll let the second group of cards answer that. It also tells me to take care of my resources and not to move too swiftly, not to put too many irons into my fire at once. A good reminder for people like me who are drawn to following a multitude of interests…

And did I mention I adore the fact the images aren’t of a uniform size and that some even seem to have ripped off edges, like the Eight of Fire here? Yes, this one is a keeper – it definitely grew on me while I was using it. It seems more of a contemplative deck, though, than one for quickie readings.

Divine Proportion Spread, or: the difficulty with following instructions


Following my plan from Monday, I’m now trying out a spread from the companion book to the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot. It is called the “Divine Proportion Spread” and is inspired by the Golden Ratio (a mathematical proportion that is found in many natural structures such as nautilus shells, growth patterns of plants, the DNA, and the solar system).

You may have seen this drawing before. It shows a series of rectangles that illustrate the Golden Ratio. Caitlín Matthews, the author of the companion book, has assigned a spread position to the first seven squares/quarter circles. To use this spread, one shuffles the cards, then counts from the top and take cards number 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21 (the Fibonacci sequence numbers, where each number is the sum of the previous two). The cards are laid out in a spiral shape, based on the diagram.

I’m asking about a still-vague plan I have for a major change in my job situation, with an emphasis on the transition period. I’m starting the spiral in the middle so it evolves outwards.

Added 13 January 2012: I originally wrote this post yesterday. After I finished the reading, I suddenly realized that I didn’t count out the cards but just took them from the top of the shuffled and cut deck as I usually do. Of course I couldn’t resist picking out the ones I “should” have drawn. I briefly debated if the reading I had just done was even “valid” and today decided to add the “right” cards to the reading as extra insights. The three additional images are given below but not included in the overview photo.

1. Conception – What is the kernel of your plan?Three of Water (Conjunction)

This drawing reminds me of the trajectories of light, and the shadows the produce – stuff I learned about in physics lessons long ago. There seem to be two sources of light, and two round objects the light shines onto. Interestingly, this creates three areas of the darkest shadow, one of them completely detached from the two objects.

To me, the emphasis clearly seems to be on the shadows, which fits with my thorough dissatisfaction with my current job. That definitely is a source of motivation for me to develop an alternative – the current job is a bad example in many respects, which of course teaches me what doesn’t work for me.

I also feel validated in my idea by the fact that there are two sources of light, not just one. You see, I would like to have more than one part-time job instead of a single full-time one, and two seems a good number to start with. The two sources of light make the whole system more complex and a bit challenging to keep track of, but they also make it a lot more interesting, and cover a much larger area than a single light-source would. I believe this is directly transferrable to jobs for me.

At the same time, I feel there’s a motion outwards, as if the two bigger shapes are propelled away from the shadows and complications. This mirrors my strong desire to break free from my current situation where I feel bound by too many rules and conventions that make no sense to me.

And then there’s the card’s title that suggests things coming together. That’s one of my biggest hopes: to finally have these parts of my life come together into a whole that makes sense to me, that is well-rounded, complex, interesting, challenging, and ultimately balanced.

2. Gathering – What must you gather for it?Temperance

I can’t quite decide what’s happening here. A man crouches on an edge of some rocks, with a spade and a hoe next to him on the ground. He seems to be hitting an animal with a branch to chase it away from the ground a bit lower than his perch.

With an emphasis on gathering, I’d say I need to make sure I have the right tools for the job. But what are they? The book helps me out here and explains the following:

This allegorical depiction of the Ermine [a stoat in its white winter coat], who would risk death rather than stain her white coat, depicts the Renaissance image of Temperance and self-respect.

Self-respect is indeed what I need to gather here. I need to believe that my deep-down sense of what’s right for me is trustworthy, and that my ideas/plans may be unusual and ambitious but they are also achievable. I need to be true to myself, no matter what anyone else says.

3. Growth – What enables the plan to grow?Lord (King) of Air

This is a frontal portrait of a man’s face. He is staring into space as if he’s listening to an inner voice. The most detailed part of the drawing is his mouth and beard.

To me, that says I need to listen to my own inner voice and that I need to find or gather or remember the experience that will make my plan grow. It will be a slow process, but then again, hair doesn’t grow that slow after all.

The book informs me that this is a drawing of the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia (brother of Lucrezia Borgia), who was “a brilliant soldier and a ruthless manipulator whose motto was ‘Aut Caesar, aut nihil’ – ‘Caesar or nothing.'” Phrased more positively, this guy was about single-mindedness, focus, and having a good strategy – all qualities I see as immensely helpful for my plan.

5. Rest – What do you gain as it rests?Two of Earth (Polarity)

This is a drawing of some kind of contraption that uses a handle to operate a cogwheel to move machinery. I assume the wheel would move back and forth between the two endpoints, thus explaining the title “polarity” of this card.

I understand this as a reminder that machinery needs to be turned off every once in a while, to reboot and start anew with fresh energy (I won’t claim this is true for every machine on this planet, but surely they all need some maintenance every now and then). Rest and action both are important, they need to be balanced right.

The companion book also mentions ambivalance and a lack of clear priorities, both of which have plagued me many times (not just in terms of this plan). So I take this to mean that I do need my breaks to assess the situation, but not to the point of overly questioning my choices and becoming paralyzed by doubt.

The card also suggests a moderate speed to the endeavour, which seems like good advice to me.

+ Pain & Pleasure (The Devil) [image below]

I interpret “resting” as “procrastination” with this card, and all I need to know is already in its title. I will gain pain because I will give myself a hard time for not moving any faster and for taking so many, so long breaks. I will also gain pleasure because there won’t be so much pressure on me to get things done that I stop wanting to do them – after all, I don’t have a close deadline for any of this (although I did give myself a vague deadline of not wanting to have a different work life by my 40th birthday, which is in February 2013).

8. Reappraisal – What needs modification?Seven of Earth (Stamina)

A working horse is trotting towards the background of the picture. As I just learned on Wikipedia when I identified the gait (can you tell I’m not a horse person?), the trot is indeed the working speed for a horse (cantering and gallopping are far to exhausting for the horse to keep up for a long time).

So this is yet another message about the appropriate speed of this. It also asks me to calculate for some long-term effort instead of a few short sprints. Point taken.

+ Seven of Fire (Success)

This is a very reddish drawing of a frontal male nude who seems to hold on to a dead animal (a deer?) and a lever/stick. His stance is solid, but he also seems quite immobile. This emphasizes the message of the horse to move slowly, but to move and not just stand there, waiting for things to happen.

13. Finalization – What is needed to finish?Pain & Pleasure (The Devil)

Oh, the title of the card alone amuses me to no end. The image depicts a man whose torso is split into two upper halves, giving us a person with two legs, four arms, and two heads. He is holding a fire, some coins, a plant (Matthews claims it’s a scourge but I clearly see leaves, and I don’t see any handle), and a staff of reed – almost bringing the four elements together. Both coins and bits of fire are dropping to the ground, suggesting there’s more of both than he can actually hold/handle.

I take that to mean there will be a time when I’ll feel even more torn than I already do, ending one thing and starting the next at the same time. This will probably be quite an effort, but it will be so worth it.

I also see a message here about walking forward on my new path, step by little step, even though I might feel confused at times.

+ Four of Air (Repose)

This is a drawing of two hands, held in front of someone’s upper body, as if cradling oneself. They seem at rest, turned inwards, protective. This tells me that I’m not supposed to expose everything (as the man in the Seven of Fire does), but to keep my cards close to my chest and not reveal too much before the time is right.

21. Manifestation – What will you make?Imagination (The Chariot)

The title of the card suggests that I may indeed make true what I imagine.

In the image itself, someone is sitting outside near a wall, holding up a mirror to reflect the sunlight. A cat sits ready to jump, and a dragon is curled up on the floor. This brings together both ordinary and extraordinary elements, which sounds good to me.

As I learn from the companion book, this is not the whole drawing, so I looked for a copy where all animals are visible. Indeed, there are also a unicorn, a boar, a bear, and another lion-cat.

The book also offers this as one way to look at this card:

Waiting for the right way to rise under your feet only leaves you stationary at the roadside. It is possible you can hitch your plan to a rescue vehicle for a short period only, but the impetus you seek lies within you. Consult and temper your imagination, especially if it is providing you with fearful or fantastic images.

And yet another message about moving forward on one’s path!

All in all, there’s a lot of slow, but steady movement in this spread. Balance is an issue, as is staying on track. Work is required, but rest is also necessary. And in the end, there is another part of the path waiting for me. To me, that sounds hopeful and optimistic but not unrealistic – and since I focused the reading on what I need to know about the period of transition from here to there, it makes a lot of sense not to end on a “and you’ll live happily ever after” card. Of course there’s more to come!

+ Ace of Air (Air)

If I wasn’t an air sign, and if it wasn’t for the other card in this position, I might be worried that this means I will produce nothing but hot air… Instead, I take this to mean I will regain space to breathe. Which may be all that is “visible” at the moment, since my plans for what do instead of my current job are still so very up in the air. Fine with me. I can always do more readings later when my plans have gotten a bit more concrete.

Since this is a big issue for me, I don’t completely trust my own take. Therefore any additional views on these cards (both supporting and contradicting my interpretations) by you, my dear readers, are especially welcome here!

Today’s lesson: a sodomite is not the same as a homosexual


Today I read the front and back portions of the companion book for the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot (that is, everything but the pages about the individual cards). Caitlín Matthews starts the book by offering a brief overview of Leonardo da Vinci’s life. The only thing about that summary I can judge competently is her historically incorrect use of the term “homosexual” to describe what Da Vinci was accused anonymously of and then charged with in 1476 at the age of 24 (charges were later dropped due to a lack of witnesses and evidence). So I’ll say a few words about that.

You see, both the term “homosexual” and the concept of homosexuality as a (mostly) stable pattern of romantic and erotic attraction towards people of the same sex is much, much younger, especially when it comes to the idea of “being gay” or “being lesbian” as an identity relating to a specific subculture (those date back to the late 19th century).

(Before you scroll down any further, let me make you aware that there is a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci at the bottom of this post which depicts full frontal male nudity – and I mean full. If that’s something you’d rather not see, please click away now.)

Since I haven’t studied pre-19th century same-sex history in detail, I looked up some specifics in the very good Wikipedia articles on Homosexuality (especially its History section) and the one on LGBT history (especially the Renaissance section) to refresh my memory and make sure I get my facts right. I’m paraphrasing parts of these articles in the following paragraph.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s time, sexual behavior between men was pretty common in wealthy Renaissance cities such as Florence and Venice.  The men who practiced it often looked towards the Classical Greek and Roman pattern of sexual relationships between an adult male and an adolescent which was considered to have pedagogic benefits (you can read more about that Classical concept here). Much influenced by the Roman Catholic church, such behavior (called “sodomy”) was increasingly prosecuted and punished severely during the Renaissance, though, partly with fines, floggings, and imprisonment, and later with the death penalty. In the 70 years between 1432 and 1502 there were thousands of convictions, and many, many more charges (Leonardo da Vinci lived from 1452 to 1519).

During my research for this summary, I also learned that there is a medieaval German term for a (male) “sodomite” that is the same as the term for a citizen of Florence (namely “Florenzer,” also used as a verb: “florenzen”) and refers to exactly this time period. Fascinating!

I admit this may all seem only very vaguely connected to the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, but who am I to limit my interests and talents when I’m concerning myself with a multi-talented and multi-interested man such as Leonardo da Vinci has been?

And just as da Vinci reportedly didn’t finish his commissions very often, I didn’t finish what I initially set out to do tonight, namely do a reading with one one of the spreads in the companion book. I’m pretty sure I can’t fully blame that on my own genius, though. ;-)

Anyhow, I think I’ll try the reading thing again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even say more about the companion book. For tonight, I leave you with a delightfully naughty da Vinci drawing (that didn’t make it into the tarot deck) just because it fits this post’s theme so well. It’s called “Angel Incarnate” or “Angel in the Flesh.”

And I always thought angels had no gender. Or sex.

Distracted reader finds Da Vinci Enigma no enigma


I really seem to like the random number generator… I just used it to determine which of these 100 three-card spreads I was going to use for the first reading with the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot.


But wait. Shuffling the deck feels all wrong. The edges on the card backs aren’t smooth. They chafe and scratch and I feel I’m going to damage them eventually. Obviously I immediately need to press them down with my folding tool before I proceed. I’ll listen to a nice short, podcast while I do that.


And then another nice, short podcast while I finish the last quarter of the stack.

And now there’s podcast left but no more cards. So I shuffle. Aaah. This feels so much smoother! (Can you see the difference? [By the way, the card backs make a huge pattern when you lay them out in a certain order – the two extra cards show a tiny overview of the result. I’ll let you know if I should happen to actually be tempted to recreate that on my carpet.])

And then I make the mistake(?) of clicking on a link. Which (for once) leads to some truly worthwhile blogs/posts but it’s still not exactly doing a tarot reading, which is what I planned to do… Ahem.

Oh, look, and it’s past my bedtime already!

Okay, Da Vinci Enigma. Here’s the challenge. Don’t be an enigma. Give me a really short, extremely to-the-point reading.

(Oh, by the way: This will apparently be a week of really crappy photos. Some of the drawings are quite faint, as very old drawings can be, and my cell phone camera is decidedly not the latest model. Please excuse this, as the alternative is not having deck images at all – and that’s not an option, right?)

1 – 2 – 3

1. DesireEight of Earth (Labour)

Wanting to do a million things roughly at the same time. Not wanting to give up any of them.

2. ConflictLord (King) of Water

Can’t decide what to start with, so I turn my back and do nothing at all.

3. ResolutionHierophant

Listen to those who know better (including myself), pick one thing to start with (even if I just work on it for five minutes), and remember there’s time later to do other things. While I’m doing this one thing, fend off all distractions.

Ta-dah! Works.