Tag Archives: ironwing

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!

A bit of spring cleaning with the Ironwing

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Since I’ve done a lot of cleaning, decluttering, and re-ordering in the past weeks, and since I’m not done with that yet, I decided to ask the Ironwing for its input before I move on to the next deck.

1 – 2

1. What I should keepOre (Ace) of Blades

A huge curved blade cuts open a stone to reveal the crystal inside. It’s also a mincing knife that cuts a head of cabbage in half. Pollen/spores are released into the air. A bird skull.

The ability to get to the core of beauty of things that look bland and dull from the outside. The act of opening up serves as a release from the inside out. Sharing something nourishing, be it food for bodies or food for thought. And, yeah, dig out that bird skull I buried in the garden almost a year ago…

2. What I should let go — Four of Blades

A row of four blades, taking out fires. Drawing a line. Steam, smoke, dust, stone. Using technology to regulate natural forces. It’s also a device that sprays chemicals from four points, leaving nothing but barren stone.

The idea of clear boundaries between right and wrong, between life and death, between nature and technology. The illusion that I can neatly separate what I consider alive and keep-worthy from what I find destructive and unnecessary.

Together, these two are about cutting, dividing, separating, but in different contexts. Makes sense.

D is for Dualities (and why so many of them aren’t very useful)

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This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project. It’s the second one for the letter D. Since I noticed that I had missed talking about binaries during my earlier post about Kate Bornstein, I decided to write about dualities soon after. I actually woke up with the main idea of this post last weekend. With that background, I took it as a confirmation when the topic of “dualism” came up as a suggestion in the most recent PBP newsletter (to which I subscribed after all because I’m just too curious).

The images that accompany this post are two cards from Lorena B. Moore’s beautiful and out-of-print Ironwing Tarot, the Two of Coils and Death, respectively. The Ironwing is my current deck of the week, and I actually drew the Two of Bells yesterday during the process of choosing a new deck to use, which is why the illustrations seemed suitable.

One of the very first concepts associated with non-mainstream spirituality I encountered at around the age of 16/17 was by way of the yin-yang symbol (or, more correctly as I just learned, the tajitu symbol). You know, where two opposites make a whole and each contains a part of the other? My best friend’s boyfriend explained to me that it symbolized not only light/dark, wet/dry, hard/soft and so on, but also male/female. From that, he concluded that humans could only reach true happiness in a male/female couple. He didn’t say that gays and lesbians needed to either come around and accept the “natural” order of heterosexuality or accept their spiritual dis-ability, but I still heard it loud and clear. Back then I was hardly even bisexual, but I still noticed when someone tried to sell me their ideology as universal “nature.” So I called bullshit on him and stopped trusting that guy’s explanations of such things.

Still, there were some aspects of the concept that made sense to me, especially the one that both “sides” were needed for general balance and wholeness. That said, I didn’t believe every single one of us needed to embody exactly equal parts of the respective characteristics. I just thought that all “sides” were necessary for a whole, balanced world.

But every time I saw male/female (or even masculine/feminine) included in the list of dual opposites that were relevant for any kind of spiritual (or political) system (not just yin-yang), I winced and took a step backwards. No matter how I looked at it, that duality just didn’t make any sense to me. I couldn’t see any clear line between the two positions, and I also couldn’t get behind the idea that the world of gender was that simple (one of my G posts will definitely be about gender, which is why I’m not elaborating much on the topic here).

And the more I thought about the dualities on these lists, the more I found that I honestly couldn’t picture as two black and white paisley swirls making a circle together. Good/bad (or evil). Life/death. Healing/harming. Male/female. No, no, no. None of these fit even remotely into such a limited model.

A few days ago, it suddenly hit me. There are some dualities that make sense to me and which I use comfortably. Day/night. Light/dark. Quiet/loud. Hot/cold. Dry/wet. Soft/hard. I still don’t believe these things are binaries in any way. One doesn’t necessarily exclude the other, there are areas where the two merge. Which is why we have dusk, dawn, damp, lukewarm, and room volume. And all sorts of other states inbetween the respective extremes. Actually, I would argue that most of what we encounter in our daily lives is somewhere in the inbetween spaces. Therefore, most of our lives is actually some shade of gray instead of pure white or black. Or maybe it’s even a shade of green, red, blue, orange, purple, or yellow.

To get back to my original point: the general idea that – for example – hot is the opposite of cold makes sense to me. Us humans may not agree all around the world where hot and cold starts (which is why some of us still wear shorts and T-shirts when others already don jeans and sweaters), but we do agree that hot eventually leads to sweating (or boiling) and cold eventually leads to shivering (or freezing). We are even be able to measure the degree of hotness/coldness with a thermometer; and even if use a Celsius one and you use a Fahrenheit one, water still boils and freezes at the respective reference points every single time. This is not dependent on context. For me, such dualities are the simple ones. They focus on one single characteristic which is relatively easy to measure and to agree on across time and cultures. They are also relatively free of universally valid hierarchical value judgments (although of course everyone will find a point where something is too loud, too cold, or too soft). So I’m fine with these dualities, assuming they’re not thought of as mutually exclusive opposites without overlap. They are convenient. They are useful.

And then there are the other “dualities” which I don’t believe in. The ones that don’t make sense to me. I’ll skip male/female and feminine/masculine here, but they belong right on top of that list. Close contenders are things like good/bad, healing/harming, or life/death. To me, all of these things are way too complex to work well as examples for the (more or less) yin-yang model of dualities.

While we all agree that there are things that are alive and things that are dead, and that there’s a difference between them, we certainly don’t agree on what scale to use for measuring the amount of life and death in something. And this is not just a Celsius vs. Fahrenheit thing. Because life and death are so completely interwoven with culture and history that there is no independent scale for any kind of measurement available to us. Some argue that human life starts with conception, others say it starts with the first independent breath, yet others vote for some point inbetween the two. I’m sure that things like in-vitro fertilization have only complicated matters in that respect. And it gets even more complicated when it comes to the end of human life. Is someone dead when their personality as we knew it has disappeared completely? When their hearts stops beating on its own? When they don’t breathe anymore by themselves? When their brain stops working? When their physical body has been completely dissolved into something else (and what if some of that is new life?)? When their soul has completely passed over into whatever place we believe it passes over (and do we need to verify that or do we just assume it happened after a certain period of time?)? When the last person who remembered them is gone? When they’ve been reborn as something/someone else (assuming we believe there  it is such a thing as rebirth – and isn’t that another life, then, too?)? Sure, we have some sort-of agreed-upon signs we use to declare someone dead (or at least dead enough to be buried/burned), but even those seem to get more blurry with certain developments in Western medicine.

In other words, there is no way we can define even the extremes of these dualities in a way that is unambiguous, not culturally/historically specific, and not majorly influenced by someone’s values and beliefs (e.g. spiritual or ethical ones). Not to mention the whole big gray/pink/yellow/green mess in the middle. While this also emphasizes my earlier argument that most life (and death!) actually happens in just that middle mess, it’s still a much bigger mess when it comes to “big” dualities like female/male, life/death and evil/good than it is with the “small” dualities like cold/hot, dry/wet, and day/night.

That doesn’t mean I never call someone feminine, male, or dead. It just means that I can’t really draw a line between these things and their supposed counterparts, and that I don’t even find them particularly helpful to describe what I’m actually talking about. At best, they work as a rough orientation and a kind of guidepost for the kind of territory we may be entering. It might help to think of them as the beginning of a conversation rather than the end of one.

(Yes, I know that even my duality of big/small issues here doesn’t hold up under close philosophical scrutiny. I don’t mind. It worked well enough to make my point, I think, and that’s all I wanted from it today. If you’re sure the thing is dead, feel free to dissect it. ;-) )

New Deck: Ironwing Tarot

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Even though I still feel I’m not quite finished with the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn, I’ll pick a new deck today. I won’t have much time for tarot this weekend, and my second D post for the Pagan Blog Project also is overdue (watch out for it tomorrow evening), so I thought I’d change decks a little earlier than usual.

This is what the random number generator suggests for my next deck of the week:

Interesting list. All of them have been suggested earlier, but I always chose a different deck then. None of them are complete strangers to me.I did about six months in 2007 where I exclusively used the RWS, and three months with the Ironwing about a year ago. I also used the Sacred Path Cards for daily draws for a short while (in 2010 or 2011).

Nevertheless, I’m having a hard time choosing any of the three right now because none of them seems really “right.” The RWS just doesn’t excite me in any way. The Sacred Path Cards seem to be from completely the wrong culture for me right now. Which leaves the Ironwing Tarot. It’s a profound deck that I love a lot but I don’t click easily with it. But it makes me think, it has a wonderful companion book, the art is great, and it’s reduced color scheme makes me feel it’s a winter deck (never mind that it was created in the Arizona desert). I’m not sure how well it will support me in my first post-holiday week back at work but I guess I’ll find out. If nothing else, it will be an interesting contrast to the very urban, modern, colorful, and playful Silicon Dawn.