Tag Archives: fantastic menagerie

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!

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Revisiting the new deck interviews: Discordian + Fantastic Menagerie

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The first thing I take with me for future weeks is not to pick two decks at the same time again. I did read with the Fantastic Menagerie in two exchanges but I really didn’t spend much time exploring it otherwise. So I’ll keep its number on the list so it can come up again.

I’ve spent more time with the Discordian Deck, which was very nice. I didn’t get to finish reading the Principia Discordia within the week, but I think I’ll keep reading it even when I switch decks now. There’s only a quarter of it left, and it’s not really a big book.

So let’s look back at the initial readings I did with the two decks this week. The Discordian is first.

What do I need to learn from you during this week? – Joker

I did a lot of juggling this week, that’s true enough. I couldn’t keep all my balls up in the air the way I would have liked it best, but it was still okay.

How can I learn best from you?The Bavarian Illuminati

The Bavarian Illuminati were indeed very helpful for my understanding of Discordian thought. The discord/order theme has also been an interesting more general grid to look through this week.

Our future relationship? – Discord (Season of Booms)

Looking back I take this to mean that things haven’t been as disordered as they’ve felt at times. It was just a rather unusual order…

Now for the Fantastic Menagerie.

What do I need to learn from you during this week? Seven of Swords

My impression of the deck as less harmless as it seems still stands. The combined reading also went very well.

How can I learn best from you?Three of Swords

Well, I didn’t quite manage to make enough time for this deck. But, as I said, the two of them were a great team when it came to combined reading.

Our future relationship? – King of Swords

I still believe the Fantastic Menagerie will remain further down on my favorites list.

The swords-only thing makes sense looking back because I actually took time I would otherwise have used for the FM and spent it on a project that’s very much concerned with swords themes.

I feel that I could have gotten so much more out of both of these decks, so I’ll be happy to return to them later on!

Greyface & Lazy Leopard

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Since I don’t have any pressing new issues to read about, I thought I’d do a general mind/body/spirit/emotions reading. This is supposed to both be about where I am right now and what I can do to improve that or how I can progress from that.

I’m combining both of my decks of the week for this one.

1 – 2 – 3 – 4

1. MindQueen of Cups + Greyface

On seeing the Queen, I totally wanted to touch the back of my hand to my forehead in a dramatic sigh – Aaahh! She is misunderstood, underappreciated, demands a lot of space and attention, and is all around pretty high maintenance. She does indeed have something to say about the path to happiness (see that little note in her hand?), but that message gets lost because people perceive her to be all drama all the time, for the sake of drama.

Greyface, on the other hand, is stiff, rigid, tense. Not much in touch with the world, as indicated by the tiny little sticks he has for hands and feet. Has a big head with a strange bump (another Nocturnomath?). The LWW (little white website) says he’s “a person on the all-order trip.”

I can totally see the conflict here: Greyface trying to reign in the Queen (he’s a bit embarrassed by her expansive personality), the Queen trying to get Greyface to pay attention to her needs (isn’t she expressing them clearly enough?). And yes, I know that conflict. A part of my mind wants to go big and follow every mood where it takes me, and another part of my mind desperately tries to shush these demands and instate some kind of structure and order to all the overboarding expansiveness.

So, how to bring these two together? Maybe the key lies in the other bird with the fishing rod. He still wears a suit but his pants legs are rolled up and his feet are in the water. He could point to the need to calm down every once in a while and let things happen instead of trying to make them happen. Sounds like good advice to both of the other two! And it makes sense to me because all too often my mind rushes around, skipping from one idea to the next project by way of another line of thought. In that mad rush, I lose my focus and peace of mind. So it seems beneficial to take a pause regularly, and do nothing but stare onto a body of water… (which is in fact one of the most relaxing and calming things to do for me).

2. BodySeven of Coins + One of Pungents

Just looking at that kitchen scene makes me hungry! In fact, as I’m writing this, my Beloved is preparing some food for us. (But wait, that dog-waiter is licking the roasted haunch he’s carrying! Yuck!) Anyhow, the two most noticeable elements of this card are food and fire, both of which I’ve been neglecting a bit the last few days. When I immerse myself in something, it can take a long time until I even notice I’m hungry or cold. This is clearly a hint for me to take better care of my physical comfort and needs.

The One of Pungents tells me why: because I need just the right amount of fuel for my pursuits. (This is a brilliant suit symbol. It looks like a pig’s snout to me, as well as like an electrical outlet. Which both fits very well with the suit associations of smell, aether, intensity.)

3. SpiritThree of Cups + Joker

I have to confess, I never quite know what is meant by “spirit” here. Spirituality? That… spark (that is the breath… of life)?! … Ahem. After a delightful pause of watching Rocky Horror-related stuff on YouTube, I’ll go with the latter. Fits with the Wands suit, too (if you assume that all of these are connected to a suit: Mind/swords, body/coins, emotions/cups).

So, back to actually reading the card! There’s reason to celebrate, even though not everyone may be able to keep up (that frog looks a bit worn-out already). I don’t quite relate to the overflowing champagne here, but I do relate to the Joker juggling five suit symbols up there.

While the juggling suggest alternating between a range of things at high speed, it also points to the skill required to be able to actually do so without dropping any of the balls. So this tells me that I need to concentrate on what I want to do during my holiday (right now) so the whole celebration of lots of free time doesn’t end with a “hangover” because I didn’t know my limits.

4. EmotionsKing of Coins + Four of Sweets

The first thing I notice is the snake belt buckle of the King. And then I see the parrot biting him in the nose. And only then do I take in the entire scene. To me, that says I need to pay attention to my gut feelings or something will come back to bite me.

Together with the Four of Sweets, which is about an excess of pleasure, this suggests that I shouldn’t overdo the living according to the pleasure principle — see the two cards above. (The suit symbol here is also great: a drop/tongue with a smile that is related to taste, water, and pleasure.) I’m also prompted to think a bit more about what is the real luxury and comfort for me, and what’s a short-term surrogate for that…

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All in all, I’d say this reading calls for balance and focus so the gift of free time isn’t wasted. I’m not surprised about that message, but it’s still a good reminder.

Even though these two decks couldn’t be much different in terms of art styles, they work very well together. I’m also liking the Discordian Deck better every time I use it. At first, it looked so simple that I doubted if I would be able to do any in-depth readings with it. I was afraid that every reading would be either saying “you need more order” or “you need more disorder.” But this little deck can do so much more, and I find that the reduction to simple messages like “too much pleasure” or “too little bizarreness” or “accepting ideas” is a welcome contrast to decks that can’t stop talking even during a one-card reading because they offer so much detail that you completely lose the point of it all. The Fantastic Menagerie, for example, could be such a deck. There are so many more details in each of these cards that I didn’t even consider! But here the Discordian worked very well to keep all that rambling in check. Nice!

New Deck Interview: Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

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Now that I’ve had some sleep, here’s the new deck interview with my other deck for this week. Let’s see what the Fantastic Menagerie has to say to me about our time together.

What do I need to learn from you during this week? Seven of Swords

A hen is helped out of a first floor window by a fox, with another hen waiting for her turn. At first it looked like a rescuing scene (for some reason I think the house is on fire), but then I saw the chicken feet sticking out from the pocket of another fox that’s standing in the front and holding a pocket watch… A dog concierge counting money and a monkey carrying some kind of bucket are also in the picture.

In this picture, things are not what they seem. There is no trace of the house really being on fire, and the idea of a fox altruistically rescuing a pair of hens doesn’t seem all too convincing. The other fox seems to say “Hurry up before they catch on!”

I take that to mean that the Fantastic Menagerie deck may at first look like a harmless little funny-animals-in-clothes deck, but it does pack a punch if you look a bit closer. Then again, that shouldn’t come as a surprise when you know that Grandville (who created the original images) was a political caricaturist. And the more I think about it, the more connections I can find between the Fantastic Menagerie and the Discordian Deck…

How can I learn best from you?Three of Swords

Two birds (peacocks?) sit kissing under a tree, watched by a third one who doesn’t seem to enjoy the sight but looks shocked and angry.

I believe this means I need to make time and space for the Fantastic Menagerie, no matter how intrigued I also am with the Discordian Deck. Maybe I should take a page out of polyamory’s book and find a way to get up close and personal with each of the two without feeling that I’m neglecting any of them? After all, there’s no need to set up the two as rivals when I can also join them as cooperators for the benefit of all concerned. I’m looking forward to my first combined reading with the two decks!

Our future relationship? – King of Swords

A bald eagle with crown and sword sits on a throne. A skull (deer? cow?) lies at the foot of the throne.

Well, you don’t mess with Bald Eagle, that’s for sure. If he speaks, you better pay attention. At the same time, Eagle is a rare occurence to me, so I think the Fantastic Menagerie may remain on my shelf for special occasions instead of becoming one of the approximately 5-7 decks I use most.

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I enjoy the fact that I picked two decks for this week that both offer plenty opportunities to do background research and learn more about where they come from. In fact, I’m a little worried that these two decks may be a bit much for just one week when each of them provides enough food for thought and exploration for more than just a week already. Thank goodness I have this and the next week off!

At any rate, I’m already looking forward to going through all of the images in this collection of Grandville illustrations to see if I can find more of the originals that were used by the deck’s creators.

P.S. As I was uploading the photo of the spread, I realized that it is all Swords cards. Seems this will be quite the intellectual enterprise here!

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/m² 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.