Tag Archives: key to the kingdom

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!

Eggs, ink, and candy

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I was so hoping I’d have more time this week to use the Key to the Kingdom transformation cards. But then I also wanted to partly catch up with the Pagan Blog Project (see the previous three posts), and then there was my full-time job, and in the end it just didn’t happen. I didn’t even do a single exchange this week!

So, today is my last day with the deck and I wanted to do at least a final reading. I already know it’s a definite keeper for me, and I’m really glad I bought it.

Since my ancestors were on my mind a lot this week, I decided to finally do an ancestor spread. It’s a modified compilation of two other ancestor spreads: this one from the 4 of Wands blog, and this one from Flaxen at AT (which unfortunately isn’t accessible by non-members). I’m not addressing any specific ancestor because I’ve had the impression that there are quite a few that have started to stir now that I pay a little attention to them but none of them is sticking out particularly.

1. How can I best honor my ancestors at this point?Seven of Clubs

A light blue egg with black club-shaped dots has cracked open to reveal two thin gray legs (on which it is standing now) and a long yellow beak. The bird that is about to hatch is turned to the left, which is the past to me.

To me, this suggests that by simply “breaking through” the barrier of unawareness about my ancestors I have already taken the first step. Just paying attention to where I came from is a good start for now. Baby steps are fine since I’m only just starting out on this path. The blue color reminds me of the Sky, which also tells me that simply opening up to my ancestors is a good thing to do.

As I went through a field of wheat,
I picked up something good to eat;
It had neither flesh nor bone,
But in twenty days it walked alone.

~ unknown author

Maybe it’s selective perception on my part but food has come up in relation to ancestors quite a bit for me during the last few weeks. I’ve seen countless pictures of altars where people regularly offer food to their ancestors/beloved dead, and I’ve also read several articles about cooking food someone’s ancestors would have eaten as a way to honor them. For some reason they stood out to me more than other things that were equally present in these photos and texts.

At any rate, it got me thinking. You see, I’m really not much of a cook. I have terrible performance anxiety about my cooking and feel like the biggest loser at preparing food, both of which I suspect are in no relation to my actual skills. In fact, I can quite adequately feed myself, I can cook and bake from scratch at least a few simple dishes, I’m pretty good at improvised cooking with whatever is there after all the shops closed already, and I can also change basic recipes to replace missing ingredients or to use up something that needs to be consumed before it goes off. I also have basic knowledge about what makes a healthy diet and what kinds of nutrients are in what kinds of food. Still, I don’t enjoy cooking, and I don’t feel at home in the kitchen the way my mother does or some of my friends do. At the same time, I much admire people who enjoy cooking, I wish I was a better cook, and I really, really like to eat, especially in pleasant company. To sum it up: cooking brings up all kinds of baggage for me, about most of which I don’t even know what it’s about or why it’s even there. So, yeah, I guess cooking for my ancestors would indeed be a HUGE offering and even sacrifice on my part.

And then comes the big question of how and where to offer any food and what to do with it afterwards. I wouldn’t want to leave out food in my bedroom (where my altar is) for fear of attracting animals I don’t want in the house. I also wouldn’t want to regularly put out cooked food on the tiny terrace we have for fear of attracting rats. I know some people just put out food for the duration of a ritual, letting the spirits feed on its essence, and then share it among the human participants. But would that really feel like a proper offering to me? Others put any offered food out for the local wildlife, and I guess that works fine if you either have a bigger garden/backyard or live in a non-urban area. But I’m just not comfortable about taking food out regularly under the prying eyes of my neighbors in this apartment building. Nor does the local park feel like the right spot to put any cooked food. The third option is throwing the food away, but that feels even worse than eating it myself because I really dislike throwing away good food – and I also assume it’s not the most respectful way to treat an offering (composting would be different but our garbage goes to the incineration plant – which could be thought of as offering by burning, but the actual burning is a bit too far removed from me for that idea to convince me).

At any rate, I think I should explore this area some more and find a way in which food works as a way to honor my ancestors for me. Maybe I could cook regional foods or dishes I knew my Dad or Gran liked and then make a nice meal out of them for myself (and my Beloved if he was so inclined to join me) and eat it in their honor, possibly while telling stories about them. That would avoid quite a few of my conflicts about the disposal of (uneaten) offerings and it would make me learn some more family recipes (which I would like to be able to cook myself anyway). I could even invite a few friends for such a meal and ask everyone to bring a dish that was in some way connected to their ancestors (however they define them) so we could all feast and share stories. I’m actually liking that idea a lot right now!

Oh, and it could all be vegetarian, too, as the little rhyme above suggests. That would also suit (nearly) all of my friends.

2. What ancestral talent can I draw on more than I currently do?Nine of Clubs

A pot of black ink has spilled. Its label shows a cat and the word “black,” and there are club-shaped prints on the table/floor that look like a cat’s paw prints.

I’m immediately thinking of writing here. It seems that at least some of my ancestors were avid letter and diary writers. My maternal grandfather also wrote a bunch of poems. I could easily follow their footprints here and do more of my own writing. I’m also thinking of drawing ink and my terribly neglected drawing and painting skills which I very clearly inherited from my father. And now I even have his art supplies on top of that, as a material heritage. I miss drawing and painting anyway, so that’s a great nudge into the right direction.

O cat in semblance, but in heart akin
To canine raveners, whose ways are sin,
Still at my hearth a guest thou dar’st to be?
Unwhipt of Justice, hast no dread of me?
Or deem’st the sly allurements shall avail
Of purring throat and undulating tail?

~ Agathias

Oh, right. The cat as such. Well, once again this is connected to writing since “Cat” is my penname here and elsewhere on the internet. But my mother’s family did share their house with a tabby cat named “Mimmi” and I’m constantly dreaming of living with a cat again (I used to when I lived in a shared apartment where someone else had a cat, and when I first lived on my own and had my own cat – which I eventually had to give away to a friend’s roommate because I wasn’t able to find a new shared apartment where bringing her would have been possible). For several reasons, that doesn’t seem like such a great idea in the current apartment and life situation but I do hope I will be able to make room in my life for a cat again eventually.

3. What ancestral pattern do I need to let drop?Seven of Diamonds

Seven pieces of a special kind of pink-white-black liquorice are set out between four other pieces of black candy.

I like liquorice except for the kind pictured here that comes pressed between layers of some sweet and spongy stuff. I’m actually not quite sure what this image is supposed to tell me since I’m not aware that liquorice has played a special role amongst my ancestors.

Maybe the poem helps?

Handy spandy, Jack-a-Dandy,
Loves plum cake and sugar candy;
He bought some at a grocer’s shop,
And out he came, hop, hop, hop, hop.

~ unknown author

Hmmm. Not really. I’m not eating all too many sweets anyway, and I’m not aware they were an issue for any of my ancestors.

I think I’ll leave it at that for today. Maybe the last card will become clearer later on. Or maybe one of you has an idea?

New deck interview: Key to the Kingdom

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Since I want to try out the Key to the Kingdom transformation cards but don’t have any pressing question right now, I’m going to do a new deck interview again (it’s been a while – the last one I did was in October, with the Margarete Petersen deck!).

Since the cards are accompanied by a short verse each (printed in the sturdy little companion book), this will be a kind of carto-bibliomancy reading – which sounds exactly like my cup of tea!

What do I need to learn from you during this week?Four of Clubs

Four keys in four colors (red, blue, yellow, gray) form a diamond-shaped frame on a black background. Inside the frame is a little picture of a monkey crouching on the grass in front of a sunset (or sunrise). I’m thinking of my “monkey brain” here, of the part of my mind that keeps jumping from topic to topic, question to question, idea to idea in a restless, endless quest for input, inspiration, and also plain old entertainment. The four keys seem to really limit the area in which the monkey can move, so I take this to mean I should focus on this deck itself and not drift off into vaguely related explorations of the internet (no matter how wonderful they are at times). Four is also a stable number for me, which is emphasized by the solid shape the four keys make. So this card calls for a stable and limited focus this week – and I assume that doesn’t just go for the times when I actually use the deck.

I am a gold lock.
I am a gold key.

I am a silver lock.
I am a silver key.

I am a brass lock.
I am a brass key.

I am a lead lock.
I am a lead key.

I am a monk lock.
I am a monkey.

~ author unknown

Four metals, fitting together lock and key. And then religion/spirituality (monk) and playful curiosity (monkey) fitting together the same way. This is perfect. I am indeed at my most spiritual when I am playing and exploring (for the record: that’s not the only way for me to be spiritual, but it’s an important one). Then I can experience flow, forget the time, feel at home in the world, and be challenged in just the right way. Boundaries dissolve, and the present is the only time that counts. Needless to say this only works when there is effortless focus (meaning the focus itself doesn’t require any effort, although the activity at hand may well be strenuous).

How can I learn best from you?Six of Spades

This card shows a skull with six spade-shaped openings for eye sockets, nose and teeth. It has been entered by a centipede which now looks out curiously and maybe a little surprised through one of the eye sockets. I don’t much like real-life centipedes, but this one is pretty cute. I imagine it moves like the purple “bad guy” monster Randall from the Pixar animation film Monsters. Inc.

Centipedes also remind me of the Devil card of the Ironwing Tarot, where there is a huge centipede that reads as a spiritual intrusion into someone’s body to me. This is probably due to the fact that the Ironwing card came up in connection with my father’s cancer that he died of exactly three years ago today.

Okay, but what does it all mean here? My various associations make me think I would learn best from this deck by not being afraid of odd connections and seemingly random juxtapositions but by instead letting it take me wherever it wants to go.

Life is jest,
And all things show it;
I thought so once,
But now I know it.

~ John Gay

Once again, I’m amazed at how well the verse fits with what I saw in the card image before I even read it. Yes, it is entirely possible to associate a silly animated movie with my father’s death and not find it disrespectful in the least. In fact, I think he would have appreciated it, since he did have a quick wit and a great, dry humor. By assuming an open-minded, curious attitude (look at the expression on the centipede’s face!), even scary things can become interesting and not-so-scary after all (case in point: seeing and touching my father’s dead body just an hour or so after he died).

Our future relationship?Ten of Diamonds

A snake with a diamond pattern lies in an S-shape on the ground. Snakes are important to me, and have been so in various ways for at least twenty years, so I take this to mean the deck will be a keeper. The letter S also suggests writing and language, which means I might even use the deck as prompts for creative writing at one point.

Barefoot I went and made no sound;
The earth was hot beneath:
The air was quivering around,
The circling kestrel eyed the ground
And hung above the heath.

There in the pathway stretched along
The lovely serpent lay:
She reared not up the heath among,
She bowed her head, she sheathed her tongue,
And shining stole away.

Fair was the brave embroidered dress,
Fairer the gold eyes shone:
Loving her not, yet did I bless
The fallen angel’s comeliness;
And gazed when she had gone.

~ Ruth Pitter

I hope it doesn’t sound too arrogant when I say I believe this is how some people regard me. They see that I have fallen away from what they consider good and proper, but they also can’t deny the beauty and allure of that. And – back to my own perspective – sometimes it’s unnecessary to fight when one can just as well leave and do one’s own thing elsewhere.

—–

Oh yes. I was right in buying this deck – it really is as much of a gem as I suspected. Plus, the cards have a really nice size, they are easy to shuffle, and their glossiness serves to bring out the images well. It’ll be interesting to see how they hold up to frequent shuffling. The companion book is also really nice. It has color illustrations of all card images in their original size, and the verse on the opposite page. It is neatly bound into a sturdy hardback cover and even comes with a red ribbon page marker attached. The only thing I don’t like as much is the dust jacket (but then I almost never like these much, even though I see their purpose), and that’s really me looking very hard for something to complain about.

Great first impression, Key to the Kingdom!

New Deck: Key to the Kingdom Transformation Cards

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I guess it will be easy for the deck of this week to win me over after the pretty but ridiculous Tarot of Northern Shadows. So let’s see the candidates for this week, dear random number generator!

This time, I didn’t decide so much against two decks but for one, mostly because it’s the one I haven’t used at all so far. I think I’ll be going with the Key to the Kingdom Transformation Cards. They are a relatively recent acquisition, and my first deck of (enhanced) playing cards to read with. I won’t make this into a study of reading playing cards, though (no time for that), and instead I’ll just go with what the images bring up for me. As every week, I’m curious to see how this will work for me.