Tag Archives: non-scenic pips

Three reasons to keep the Oswald Wirth Tarot


This has been the week with the least tarot/oracle action ever since I started this blog. I did a single reading with the Oswald Wirth Tarot, and I don’t yet know if it was any useful to the sitter. Other than that; I hardly even touched the deck, let alone worked with it in any way.

I didn’t feel a great urge to work with the deck, and right now I’m thinking I may just pass it on. Before I do so, however, I want to give the deck a chance to make its case and tell me three reasons why I should keep it.

Seven of Wands – Ace of Wands – The Hermit

One thing would have come up with every card: the beautiful bronze slightly metallic backgrounds of the deck. Definitely a big plus! The Seven of Wands shows the reduced decorations on many of the pip cards, and also the two-way symmetry of the Wands (2-10). This means even less to go on in a reading than the pips of the Tarot Classic offered, which means a need for greater abstraction from the actual card image and a need for more study of numerology. Could be an interesting challenge!

The Ace of Wands displays almost the entire color palette of the deck, which looks very nice on the bronze backgrounds. I also adore the lacy sleeve because it’s such a big contrast to the limited decorations of the other pip cards. The two Wands cards also make me think that the deck warns me against rash decisions – have I really explored it enough to be sure I won’t want it back once I sell/trade it?

Finally, the Hermit brings a snake as his companion, and that definitely makes me pay attention. It’s such an unusual animal to see in this card! Also, the way he holds his stick makes me wonder if he’s blind – and if so, for whom he’s holding up the light?! All of this suggests this deck has some hidden treasures I haven’t even come close to discovering yet. The writing on this card makes me aware that I’m not even bothered by the German titles (as I usually am) – after all, as a Swiss, Oswald Wirth was German-speaking, even if he spent most of his life in France.

I think I’m convinced to keep the Oswald Wirth deck in my tarot library for now, at least until I’ve done a second round with it.


Classic suits


On my final day with the Tarot Classic, I decided to do some actual study again. I’m closely following the suggestions to look at the suits that were given by Sherryl E. Smith on her website “Tarot Heritage”. I hope she doesn’t mind me paraphrasing or quoting some of her prompts – they are just so good (and the post makes more sense with them than without them)!

First, I picked four cards of each suit, always including the Ace, and laid them out in a row each. Then I looked at the actual suit symbols and wondered who would use them, where, when, and for what purpose.

Ceremonial maceWands

The Ace shows a cut off piece of wood with two cut-off branches. The rest of the wands are green staffs with decorations on both ends. They all have red “knobs” at each third. I actually have no idea who would use these kinds of staffs. They don’t seem to work well as (defensive) weapons due to these knobs (I imagine that would hinder other staffs from sliding off). They are arranged in straight lines that form a weave pattern. The many leaves in several of the cards and the green color make the wands feel very alive and earthy.

After I’ve looked around on Wikipedia a bit, I can now say that the wands of the Tarot Classic are most similar to ceremonial maces – a symbol of political, clerical, and/or royal authority (derived from what used to be weapons earlier).

The Ace of Wands feels alive, like a freshly cut branch, which is underlined by the fruits and flowers surrounding it. The hand holding the club seems disembodied, which I take to mean that this energy isn’t very grounded, yet (despite my initial impression of the Wands as the suit of earth). It is clearly only a part of the whole we get to see here. The beams of light emanating from the cloud also feel very dynamic, which fits well with the association of Wands with fire (then again, earth and what grows in/from it also is pretty dynamic). The way the flowers and fruit fall from the sky makes me think of ideas “falling” into one’s head, which finally makes me understand why Wands are often associated with inspiration. Either way, we are clearly getting some gifts here.


The coins look like golden disks with a stylized floral pattern stamped onto them. The one on the Ace is a lot bigger and decorated in much more detail. It also has blue added as a second color. The flowers on them almost seem like little pinwheels, and the spiked circles around them make me think of cogwheels. The idea of cycles is definitely emphasized, although my association with industrial work is a bit a-chronological. I would not be surprised to see these coins associated with air instead of earth (I have no idea if there are any elemental associations attached to this deck’s suits). I’m also noticing that the coins have a lot of ornamentation going on which seems only vaguely plant-like compared to what can be seen in the wands.

The Ace of Coins has me thinking of jewelry, more specifically a bracelet of which we see the central decoration. It could also be a clockwork. The blue and yellow decorations feel heraldic to me, official, and rather solid. Even the flowers come with thick stems and are well-attached to the arrangement. The energy is rather slow. I’m not quite sure where there is up or down with this image because there is no ground or direction to this image. Despite all the cycles, that makes it feel rather timeless.


The swords are red and black, with yellow accents. Definitely fiery colors to me. Some of them (the Ace and a few of the “extra” ones in the other cards) look like antique but functional swords (weapons). The other ones are more stylized, bent, and much, much longer than would be practical to use. They always make a sort of frame that is woven together at each of the ends. These frames seem to both open a space and contain it.

The Ace of Swords also has a crown with a branch of laurel (for victory) and olive (for peace) each (I had to look up the latter one). Another piece of an olive branch is falling down, which I take to mean that some peace has been lost, some injury occured. The sword is a double-edged one (like all of the functional swords here), which underlines the message of war and peace, of victory and injury, winning and losing. The hand holding the sword seems to come out of the cloud (which could also be a very puffy sleeve). To me, that means that we have a choice what to do with the sword, and that our actions are tied to a larger scope than we might currently see.

Chalice + ciboriumCups

The cups confuse me a bit because none of them seems to be open. They all appear to have some kind of lid (unless someone was really, really bad at drawing shadows). Their colors are blue and gold and they are all decorated with patterns and ornaments. The biggest one is the one on the Ace, which is also the one with the most detail. The only element left over by now is water, and I think it’s a good fit for these cups.

Another explorational tour through Wikipedia tells me that there are indeed chalices (for holding wine) without a lid and ciboriums (for holding bread/hosts) with a lid (can you tell by the way I have to look these things up that I haven’t been exposed to much Christian ritual in my life?). However, a ciborium always seems to have a cross on top of its lid (for easier lifting, I suppose) and the ones in my tarot deck don’t. Curious.

The Ace of Cups depicts a huge cup, or make that ciborium (because this lid has a grip). The two upper corners of the card show waves of red and yellow, which makes me think of fire and also of a curtain. The patterns on the cup could also be a mouth with big yellow teeth. And what happens if we don’t keep a lid on it? This is the most msyterious of suits to me, the one revealing the least about itself.

There are more questions about the suits but I will save those for another day. Nevertheless I heartily recommend these exercises for any deck with non-scenic pips. I’m already looking forward to coming back to them in greater depth!

New Deck: Tarot Classic


By way of the randon number generator: the suggestions for next week.

This is the second time that the Elemental Tarot was suggested, and I still don’t want to use it – I have no time for diving into a completely new system next week. I rejected the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot for the same reason: it’s a deck that needs more time than I can offer the coming week. That leaves the Tarot Classic, one of two Marseille reproductions I own.

Yet again, it’s deck I never read with before, but at least I already took the time to shuffle it a bit at one point. I don’t really like the color palette (too cold for my taste – I’m more of a Hadar-Dodal-Noblet type), but I’m interested in exploring another deck with non-scenic pips. I hope I’ll be able to make time for some of the exercises suggested by Sherryl E. Smith on her great website! I may or may not sneak a peek into the historical forums of Aeclectic Tarot; I may get bitten by the research bug, or I may end up exploring the deck on my own for now and saving the research for later.

The first question that popped up when I just very quickly looked through the deck was this one: Why do the Chariot, the Knight of Swords and the King of Swords have faces as epaulets on their shoulders? My answer (or the attempt thereof) will have to wait until a later date, though. Right now, I need sleep…

Tarot Classic - Faces on shoulders

Goodbye, Balbi (for now)…


Sheesh, another week has passed very quickly! I’ve been busy most evenings once again, plus we had no internet for Friday and Saturday. I regret that I didn’t get more time to do things with the Balbi, and I did think about adding an extra week with that deck, but then I thought it’s better to stop when I still want more… So I’m sticking to my one week per deck schedule and will pick a new one in a bit. The Balbi is definitely a keeper, and I’m already looking forward to spending more time with it later on.

Since I haven’t done a New deck Interview this week, I can’t do my usual revisiting of that. Instead, I’ll ask it for any parting words it may have for me (no positional meanings).

3 Copas (3 Cups) — 1 Oros (Ace of Coins) — XIII (Death)

The Three of Cups is the card that introduced me to the Tarot Balbi a while ago when I got a reading from a fellow AT member (it was very accurate and helpful). I’m not even sure if there were more cards in the reading, because I only remember this one. The center with its spiral makes me think of the bellydance party I went to yesterday. It was a very joyful celebration indeed, with an outpouring of friendly and exuberant energy, and all worries were relegated to the outside of it. I didn’t know how much I missed dancing with other women (freestyle, not choreography) just for the fun of it. And I love the way bellydance allows me to pick up someone else’s move for an instant connection with a stranger, throw an inviting grin across the dance floor at a newcomer, revel in the beauty of all these different women and all their different ways of turning music into movement, shamelessly express my joy in my own body, and just share an altogether good time with each other without any bitchiness. I missed that. (Interestingly, the two older-than-me women I pegged as lesbians were the ones least open to my attempts at sharing a moment of dance together. Which was a pity because they seemed like nice people, and I always like meeting other queers at non-queer events.)

The Ace of Coins with its astrological symbols reminds me how much of the Balbi’s depths I never even touched upon — numerology, kabbalah, astrology… It also makes me think of my incomplete study of the deck’s court cards (many of which are associated with an astrological sign). Stuff for the long list of things to do at some other point in my life (unless I decide otherwise)! So, for today, I just have the picture I took when I laid out all the courts. Suits, left to right: Copas (Cups), Espadas (Swords), Bastos (Wands), Oros (Coins); ranks, top to bottom: Sota (Page), Caballo (Knight), Reina (Queen), Rey (King). My favorite card in the entire deck is the Reina de Bastos (Queen of Wands).

The final card, the unnamed XIII (Death), tells me that the week with this deck is over. For some reason, I like the goggle-like eyes and red head scarf and loin cloth the skeleton is wearing. The randomly chopped off heads, hands, and feet could be gruesome, but mostly look like they’re growing out of the ground like flowers. Which in itself is a great illustration of the circle of life and death where something has to die so something else can live/grow. Indeed, this week saw my last quasi-supervision meeting with the “old” hospice organization, and the email telling me I have been accepted for training at the “new” hospice service (in that order). I still feel I’m in a period of change all around, so Death seems a suitable card to signify that.

Well, dear Balbi, it has been a colorful week with you! Hope to reconnect with you later on and get to know you a bit more in-depth. This deck could be a great candidate for an Intensive Deck Study (IDS). I think I’m now less afraid to read with non-scenic pips because the Balbi ones offer so much in the way of colors and arrangements and “decorations” that they hardly feel much different than the rest of the deck.

P.S. As I was just updating the Decks page with some more links for the Balbi, it struck me as funny that the deck is based on writings by a guy named Eudes Picard, and I did a reading with it about a TV series where the spaceship captain is called Jean-Luc Picard

New deck: Tarot Balbi


For this week, the random numbers suggest a choice between these three decks:

Although I was tempted to compare the two versions of the Baum Tarot I own (the original one cut from the book “Madru” and the redesigned one published as a stand-alone deck) it didn’t seem quite right to focus on a deck so full of flowers and green leaves when ther leaves are actually falling as we speak. So I chose the Tarot Balbi for this week.

This is another deck I never used before. It’s actually still in its original order, so apparently I didn’t even shuffle it. I think I got it while I was doing an Intensive Deck Study with the Greenwood Tarot, so that would explain why I paid so little attention to it when it arrived here.

Initial impressions, after some thorough shuffling:

I like the card size and format; they feel good in my hands and are easy to shuffle. The backs are also very pretty with their bright green floral pattern on a deep reddish-purple background. One of the things that attracted me to the deck in the first place were it’s bright colors. I still love them!

The pips of this deck are non-scenic, so that will be a challenge for me (I don’t have much experience with reading non-scenic pips). There are also Hebrew letters and/or astrological symbols in the majors and at least some of the courts. I don’t think I will dive head-first into these related topics, but then I never know what will take my fancy, so who knows?

I did a bit of googling and found out that the Balbi assigns the elements to the suits in this way:

  • Wands – Fire
  • Cups – Air
  • Swords – Water
  • Disks – Earth

I’m not sure how much this will influence my readings with this deck, but I might do a post just pondering these associations.

I can already see lots of opportunities to work with this deck. Good!