Tag Archives: shadows and light

OMG, your ethnicity is so cute!

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As I promised earlier, I’ll say a few words about the depiction of race/ethnicity in the Oracle of Shadows and Light. (I promise, there are images further down but I couldn’t find anything suitable for the first part of the post – sorry!)

You see, amongst all the fantastic creatures with names like Nautilus Princess, Angel of Time, Winged Seer or Mildew Fairy the deck also contains the following cards (card name – subtitle):

  • I am Kali – From death comes rebirth
  • Angel de los Muertos – Transitions to the spirit realm
  • Amara the Menehune – Aloha healing
  • Faceless Ghosts and the Haunted Girl – Ghost people
  • Voodoo in Blue – Back off!
  • Pink Lotus Fairy – A time for spirit
  • Fairy of the Highlands – It’s time to be brave

I could have added more cards to the list because there were more that seem to hint at specific cultures (e.g. Strangely Lonely and the Celtic Cross she embraces so tightly, Marie Masquerade and her Marie Antoinette get-up from the time of the French Revolution, or the Dutch Renaissance references in the Lady with a Bosch Egg), but I had to draw the line somewhere. So I picked the most glaring and problematic ones.

Why are they problematic, you ask? We’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s look at who this oracle is aimed at, so we get a better perspective on it. This is from the companion book by Lucy Cavendish.

Bittersweet…Unheard…Unconventional…Rebellious…Cheeky…Whimsical…Invisible…
They’re not words you often hear associated with the spiritual world, are they? Nevertheless, some of the most spiritual beings who have ever lived are those who have been most at odds with what we call the “mainstream.” They do not fit in. […]
So, with this deck, they ask you to step out from the shadows, to no longer hide your light away, and consult with an Oracle that acknowledges your individuality and strange genius! […]
For this oracle is like no other: It is for the lost and lonely, the broken-hearted and the orphans and misfits […].
The messages, images, and realms of this unique oracle overflow with all that is beautiful, quirky, haunting, and shadowy-sweet.
For this oracle embraces those who have long felt they have no home […].

This should appeal to me a lot. After all, I experience daily that I don’t fit in with what is considered normal in the world around me. I’d also love to have my “strange genius” acknowledged and to find a place that feels like home, the kind of home that isn’t available to me in the “mainstream.” But instead of feeling welcome, I feel repelled. No matter how much this booklet claims this deck is all about embracing our shadows, I still feel as if someone poured a barrel of sickly-sweet sirup over me.

But never mind my urge to immediately eat a chunk of strong cheese and a few pickled cucumbers. I shall endure the stickiness of the gooey sugar and proceed to do exactly what the companion book assures me I will be supported in by the beings in this deck: I won’t “be ever so nice,” and I won’t “smile for the sake of it,” and I won’t “pretend [I] feel one way when [I] feel another.”

So, after we have established that the deck is aimed at people who feel they don’t fit in and maybe romanticize being “unusual” a little bit, and after also establishing that I find it odd to tell someone to stop being oh-so-nice all the time and to embrace their shadows in a tone that is nothing but nice (I mean, come on, cheeky is the strongest word you can come up with to describe the delivery of the messages gained from this deck?), we can now move on to my actual point of this post.

To ease us into that part, let’s once again consult the companion book because it offers two entire paragraphs (which I will quote in whole) to tell us about the origins of the card characters.

WHERE ARE THESE BEINGS FROM?

We know of many magickal realms. There is the realm of Faery, of the Dragonfae, of the angels and ascended masters. The partnership we humans have had with the spirits of place and land, with ancestral spectres and wise little witches is ages old. We have always helped each other, until we humans turned away, told too often we ought not to trust these friends. Be assured: we need only ask these beautiful beings from the realms of shadows and light for help and they will give it. Even if it is cheekily delivered, it will always be for the Highest Good of all, and their presence will always support you in your quest for a wonderful life.
To better understand these wise, delightful beings, it is helpful to know where they came from. They have been with us for much longer than many of us think: and they tend to have come through at important, pivotal points in our personal or cultural history.
Some of them are from actual physical Earth locations, like Amara the Menehune, whose energy originates in Hawaii. The being in the card known as I am Kali is Hindu in philosophy, and from the vast empires of the Indian sub-continent. The beings in Faceless Ghosts are Japanese in origin. Others are from worlds between the worlds, and are like the energies and forces of nature herself: The Eclipse Mermaid is cosmic in nature, the Snow Angel is heavenly in origin (but not in attitude!) and others come from the Deep South of the United States of America, and have the most beautiful, courteous old-fashioned manners! The Winged Seer is from in between the worlds, and dwells in a realm where past, present and future have yet to be woven. They are all unusual and unconventional, and highly helpful and loving – even if they do seem a wee bit cheeky at times!

Okay, let me see if I got this right: Hawaii, India, Japan, and the Deep South of the U.S.A. are “realms” that are somehow like the cosmos, heaven, or “between the worlds.” There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between a goddess (Kali), a mythological people (Menehune), a mermaid, or an angel because the one and only thing that matters is that none of them is human. Am I the only one who finds this a little bit random and potentially insulting? (Besides the fact that it all sounds like Doreen Virtue for the emo crowd…)

But let’s take a better look at some of the cards I mentioned (by the way, most of the images  – many of which are self-portraits – apparently have not been painted specifically for this deck – which might explain the awkward patchwork feel of the deck and the not-so-smooth interaction of the cards and the companion book).

Let’s start with I am Kali, because I have the biggest issue with her. If you have looked at the previous posts about this deck, you will have noticed that every single card character is massively cute. While this is perfectly fine with sweet and easy cards like the Candy Cane Angel, it seems really out of place to me with a card that is supposed to depict Kali. In case you don’t know, Kali (“the black one”) is a terrible Hindu goddess associated with death, annihilation, destruction, time and change (I believe we may safely assume this isn’t the gentle change of water that smoothes down stones), although some people also worship her as a mother figure. In images and statues, she generally wears a garland of heads around her neck, and is often depicted in a skirt of arms, too. She often holds up a severed head and a bowl to catch its blood in addition to various weapons and other symbols. Finally, most images of her show her with her tongue sticking out (there are various explanantions for why that is so, with shame over having stepped on her husband Shiva in a furious frenzy being one of them).

Conveniently, nearly all of the more gory aspects of Kali iconography have been left out in this card (the artist calls this “a more subtle approach,” as if the traditional iconography of deities was something we could take or leave as it suited us). The one thing that is left is her skull garland, which is as removed from creepy as it can possibly be (all of the skulls are smiling). Otherwise, she looks exactly like every other girl in any other card of the deck.  But it gets worse. The companion book for the deck has a brief introduction into what is shown on each card, then a passage where the card character speaks herself, and finally a paragraph with divinatory meanings. The pages for Kali say this:

I am clearing all that is leeching off your energy, draining your strength, and abrading those relationships that cannot do anything but keep you stuck. Whether you realise it or not, you called on me, and I have come to clear the path, to destroy that you have longed to let go of.
[…]
Working with Kali is extremely powerful, but it is work we all do, and all must do.

Srsly? Kali has come to take all the bad things away even though I may not even realize I called her? And I don’t have to do any of the ugly work of setting boundaries or changing unhelpful habits myself? While I’m in no way a Kali expert, I’m still pretty sure that’s not quite how “working with Kali” looks. And we must all work with Kali, even if we have nothing to do with the Hindu pantheon in any way, shape, or form? Bwahaha, I’m sure that will go over great with your average Celtic reconstructionist, Kemetic neopagan, or Asatrú!

But let’s look at another quote: “Her necklace of severed heads represents the end of slavery of the over-thinking, over-analytical self who gets stuck when all that is needed is action.” Uh, no, that’s not what it represents. I had a hard time finding a halfway reliable source online, but there were several accounts saying the severed heads or skulls represented the 52 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, and thereby the repository of human knowledge and wisdom. Others said it was about the death of the ego and freeing the spirit from the body as a part of spiritual enlightenment. Others yet claimed it was about the inseparableness of life and death. It seems I’ll have to take myself to a good library to settle this issue, but I think we can safely say that the Hindu goddess Kali has very little to do with what is assigned to her here in this oracle. To put it very, very gently.

But let’s move on to the next card, shall we? The Angel de los Muertos, which, according to the artist, was originally painted “in celebration of the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead,” shows “a beautiful angel with a lot of the traditional Dia de los Muertos imagery. Decorated sugar skulls, bright carnations, harvest corn, tropical banana offerings, the flag of Mexico, blankets, all sorts of colours.” The companion book goes on to claim that the jobs of this angel are “to take the fear out of death” and to “gently collect and gather souls to take home, where they will rest a while, before incarnating again.” While I’m certainly no expert in Mexican beliefs surrounding the Día de los Muertos, I’m pretty sure that reincarnation in that sense is not a regular part of them.* I have also never heard about an “angel” like this in this context (and a quick Google search doesn’t bring up anything that would suggest otherwise, not even in Spanish). Which strongly suggests that at least the author of the deck, Lucy Cavendish, really doesn’t have much of a clue about the cultures she has chosen to integrate into her deck. Which then immediately leads to the problem in taking just one aspect of a culture that seems interesting without any regard for its context, aka cultural appropriation (you didn’t think I could do without that term, did you?).

[Not to mention the fact that my hackles raise at the attempts to completely de-scarify death with this image and the accompanying text. While death often does seem to become the less scary the closer you get to it (if reports from my fellow hospice volunteers are any indication), I find it highly irresponsible to tell someone who has lost a loved one that death isn’t scary, or tragic, or even that it doesn’t really exist. This attitude basically negates the reason for feeling grief, rendering grief itself something to do away with as soon as possible. But that’s a topic for another post sometime.]

It’s basically the same with all the other cards, only worse. The text for Amara the Menehune quotes every imaginable stereotype about Hawaii you can imagine. Paradisic warmth, sensuality, relaxation, and holistic medicine (“Aloha healing,” which is a Western construct in itself) abound, as if no one on Hawaii ever felt unsexy, stressed, or sick. The artist calls the Menehune “a Polynesian / Hawaiian type of fairy creature” but, like the author, fails to mention their reputation as exceptionally good builders and craftspeople. Again, as a sole representation of an entire culture, this seems at best superficial and willfully ignorant at worst. Especially since there is at least one folklorist who attributes the appearance of the term Menehune to contact with Europeans, and there are also theories that suggest the Menehune mythology may be based on actual human beings of low status (read the beginning of the Wikipedia article for a bit more on this).

I’ve briefly mentioned the Japanese noppera-bō ghosts from Faceless Ghosts and the Haunted Girl already (you can see an image of the card here). Once again, the actual myth and the meanings assigned to this card seem to be only very distantly related. From what little Wikipedia tells me about these ghosts, they are human-looking (except for their blank faces) and mostly just scare people without doing any actual harm. The companion book, however, speaks at length about people who have no personalities of their own and therefore have to steal away the energy, power, joy, and warmth (and sometimes the ideas and work) from others. This is at best a very clumsy attempt to fit a meaning to an existing image, with the not-so-harmless complete disregard for the culture that is referenced therein.

I’ll just say a very little bit about Voodoo in Blue. The only thing “voodoo” about this card seems to be the doll held by the bat-winged scowling girl. The artist’s website as well as the book mention sticking pins into the doll as a way to cause harm – which shows that neither of them have researched voodoo, vodou, or hoodoo even to the point of glossing over some Wikipedia articles. I just did that, and found out that not only does the Haitian Voodoo religion (aka vodou or vodun) not even have “voodoo dolls,” but New Orleans Voodoo, which is related to the folk magic practices called hoodoo, uses such dolls (or effigies) representing a spirit (not a person) to bring blessings (not harm). Oh, and let’s just hammer home the association of voodoo with something scary and strange again, shall we? (On a side note, I wonder if this is one of the cards where the “beautiful, courteous old-fashioned manners” of the Deep South are depicted…)

Onward to Pink Lotus Fairy, who apparently was inspired by a visit from a person who is into yoga. Of course she is “ethereal” and “very mystically enlightened and at peace.” You know, like these yoga people are (and if they aren’t, they’re probably doin’ it wrong). The companion book once again manages to mash together a crazy mess of references: “It would be very helpful for you to take up yoga, pilates or a physical exercise that has a spiritual practise attached to it […].” Excuse me? Pilates is nothing but a physical fitness system named after its creator of Greek ancestry, Joseph Pilates. While it may indeed be beneficial, there is no trace of spirituality anywhere near it. But it gets even better worse. The part with the “divination message” starts like this.

Spiritual quest, travel, calm, relaxed yoga pose, self-love and self-acceptance. Third eye and crown chakra activation, chakra awakening, connection to all, crown chakra connected to the universe, receiving Universal Love messages, self connected peacefully to the earth, peaceful flowing energy in the body, tranquil, sublime spiritual moments of connection, blessings showering upon you due to correct relationships with body and soul.

Huh? What’s that?! A list of search engine optimization terms for a yoga school? The author’s freewriting about the card image that was accidentally left in the final manuscript? Or is this really meant to be here, and if so, what does it mean? Otherwise, I’m not sure why we are suddenly shown a blond, white fairy when yoga originates in India. I just know that I really can’t bring myself to believe this is an attempt at breaking up the stereotypical depictions of non-Western cultures and ethnicities.

But wait! Western people have ethnicities, too! Enter the Fairy of the Highlands in her red hair and tartan coat. (Admittedly, this is a somewhat different case, since the real-world power relations are a wee bit different than with the other cultures, but it’s a stereotype nonetheless.) The poor thing originally was a commission, and this is supposed to be an actual MacMillan tartan pattern – which the artist has gotten wrong!!! Note that the red lines in the original pattern run over the green background, not the blue one as in the card – and no, this isn’t just artistic freedom (google “MacMillan hunting tartan” if you don’t believe me). And what’s with the association of bravery and the Highlands? Am I the only one thinking of Connor “There can only be one!” MacLeod here? Why else would this frightened girl (she wins the “Hugest Eyes” title) even be associated with being brave?

And just in case my point hasn’t been made clearly enough already: My problem with all of these images is that they take exactly one stereotype from a (usually) non-Western culture and use it completely without context – and embarrassingly often without even having read the damn Wikipedia article, let alone having done any actual research. Longer-time readers of this blog might remember how little tolerance I have for such shoddy practices. So let’s repeat it for everyone: cultures you weren’t born into and apparently know practically nothing about are not part of a huge pool of costumes and accessories to pick from. What isn’t okay when it comes to Halloween (or carnival) costumes, also isn’t okay in your spiritual practice. And don’t tell me you’re “eclectic” because that’s still no excuse for perpetuating the colonialist traditions of (most of) our ancestors in appropriating whatever seems interesting, exotic, or “unusual.” (And be grateful I haven’t added an analysis of all the problematic messages about being female this deck and book contain!)

“But, Cat, isn’t this all a bit too much to expect from a cute little oracle deck that is apparently aimed at misunderstood teenagers of every age? Aren’t we allowed to have some harmless fun?”, I hear you ask. No, it’s not too much to expect. No, it’s not harmless fun. Popular culture is one of the biggest influences on what we think and believe, which is why we should examine it especially closely for all the undercurrents and subtexts and hidden messages it carries while being oh-so-entertaining and thus slipping under our conscious defenses a lot of the time. Cute packaging does not make cultural appropriation and lack of research about the appropriated cultures any less harmful.

And if avoiding racist stereotypes because you think they’re wrong (or at least incomplete) isn’t reason enough to keep you from protesting such imagery and writing, just remember for a minute that the actual, real-life users of this oracle may not all be white/of European descent… How do you think people of Japanese, Indian, Hawaiian/Polynesian, Mexican, or Haitian descent (not to mention people living in Japan, India, Hawaii/Polynesia, Mexico, or Haiti, fully immersed in the respective cultures there) feel when they see yet another tired old stereotypical and (yes, I’ll say it again) racist reference to their culture? And what about that claim that the Oracle of Shadows and Light was for “the lost and lonely, the broken-hearted and the orphans and misfits”? That this oracle “embraces those who have long felt they have no home”? Or doesn’t any of that apply to people of color? And isn’t that a bit ironic when they most likely have a lot more experience not feeling at home and being misfits in mainstream Western culture(s) than all of us white girls?

——–

* = To translate the somewhat biased wording of the article linked above: the survey quoted has found that 78% of the people in Mexiko believe in a higher being. 40% believe in an afterlife, and less than 13% believe in reincarnation. In other words, reincarnation hardly is a mainstream belief in Mexico that would be suitable for the sole representation of anything Mexican in the entire deck. Wikipedia’s article on reincarnation also doesn’t mention Mexico even once. However, a source linked there offers the number of 24% of Americans who believe in reincarnation.

19 March 2012, noon-ish: Minor edits for grammar and spelling mistakes I didn’t notice yesterday.

Eclipse, masquerade, and a strange egg (reading for M.)

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This is the second reading with the Oracle of Shadows and Light for which I got permission to post it here. The sitter asked the following question (I got no further context or backstory).

My question: Why was I really shut down, and why have I not been reinstated?

I’m pulling two cards for each of those questions.

Why were you really shut down?Eclipse Mermaid + Ghosts of the Past
The Eclipse Mermaid rises up from a choppy ocean which is tinted blood red by the solar eclipse that can be seen in the sky. Subtitle: “A powerful energy shift!”

Ghosts of the Past depicts a young woman in a historical ball gown. She holds up an eye mask on a stick. In the background are other costumed/masked people who look vaguele Venetian to me. Subtitle: “The past returns for a time…”

I’m reading both cards together here. You were indeed cut off like the sunlight during an eclipse. It also seems you’re right to suspect that the reason given to you is not the actual one, what with the masks and costumes here. But why? It looks as if someone was afraid of your power/influence. In addition to that, some influences from the past were at work here, and I get the impression this was as much about power as it was about emotions (I’m reminded of “Dangerous Liaisons”-style intrigue).

Why have you not been reinstated?Lady with a Bosch Egg + Death and the Maiden
The Lady with a Bosch Egg clearly alludes to the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch which often depict bleak, disturbing landscapes full of strange creatures. Something is burning down in the background, and a ship is being pulled through the sky by a bird. The Lady herself holds a cracked egg from which a bird-headed humanoid is about to hatch. Subtitle: “Ancient Wisdom.”

The Maiden is naked and grasped from behind by a skeletal Death. They seem to be withing an egg-shaped space with cracked walls. Subtitle: “Invasion, boundaries violated, dominance.”

Again, reading the two cards together. I’m most struck by the egg in both cards. I read this as one card showing the outside (Lady + egg) and one showing the inside (Death + Maiden) of the situation. Outside, things look pretty disastrous, almost like a war zone after bombs have been dropped and now it’s at least safe enough to come out from the shelters. Not the best environment to raise anything small! And even inside death is close by, and he’s not welcome. The Lady has something dangling from her waist, which looks a bit like a mask to me, which links her with the earlier card. But the party is over now, and it’s time for cleaning up.

If you were shut down as part of someone else’s “war,” I don’t think anyone is thinking about actual repairs yet. First, they need to take stock of the damage done and assess further consequences. So you may actually be reinstated later on.
However, if there was indeed any ill will in not reinstating you (and it does seem more likely), it may be because someone is perceiving you as destructive and/or scary (do you maybe know too much?), or at least pretty unpredictable.

The colors of the latter two cards are much more subdued than the ones in the former two, so I’d say the actual “fire” or drama is over for now. But it doesn’t look all too optimistic in the current situation, either.

I hope this reading is useful to you in some way! I found it interesting to read with a concrete question but still no clear idea what topic area you were asking about (from the wording alone, the question felt like a work-related one, or one about any other “official” function – but I could be of course be way off here). I’m very curious about your feedback now!

The Annoyed-with-Insultingly-Shallow-Deck Fairy

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Originally, I wanted to order the Oracle of Shadows and Light by eye-size, or convince myself that there were some meaningful subgroups of cards in the deck (e.g. mermaids/weather fairies, frightened/helpless girls with the hugest eyes of them all, pouting girls who probably didn’t get the sweets at the checkout, round-eyed girls who must all be siblings because they look so alike, sort-of-relatively-not-quite-as-cutesie girls, “ethnic” girls who are so horrible that I wanted to write an entire post about them but then decided that would be taking the deck way too seriously, girls vaguely referencing classic “art” or “history”).

But when I looked at all the cards at once, as they were lying there, huddling together on my carpet, I noticed I grew increasingly and deeply annoyed with the completely formulaic construction of their faces.

And then I just had to grab a pencil and the back of an old application form for my bellydance classes to prove just how simple these faces were constructed: round shape, tiny pouting mouth a few millimeters from the chin, tiny nose made from some circles, a shadowy stripe across the face where the eyes are, wide-set huge eyes (we’re still in the lower third of the entire head here), pencil-thin eyebrows, artfully draped hair that covers difficult parts like ears, necks, or shoulders and takes up at least half of the head shape.

Almost immediately, it became clear that this was developing into a self-portrait of my feelings about this deck, so I added some colored pencils and ended up with this drawing (or rather, sketch). It’s also the only reason why the hair is not parted in the middle because there is a limit to how ridiculous I’m willing to look.

I call the result the “Annoyed-with-Insultingly-Shallow-Deck Fairy.”  (You can’t see her wings because they are hanging down in disgruntled disappointment. No, I can’t explain why she has no left shoulder.).

The only problem is that I now have to be grateful because by way of my pissed-off-ness about it, the damn deck actually made me draw again… Now I’m even annoyeder.

Mother and daughter issues (reading for Samantha)

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Once again, I got permission to post a reading here on the blog (feedback will be added in later, so please check back in a day or two if that sounds interesting to you is added now, indented and green).

Samantha’s question was this:

I’d like to know why I am feeling negatively towards my mother these days, and what I might do about this.

2 – 1 – 3

1. SituationThe Snow Angel

A young woman with black-feathered wings in an elegant red dress stands in a snowy landscape. She looks a bit defiant, as if she’s about to roll her eyes at someone like an annoyed teenager. The card is subtitled “The signs are with you already!”

I believe your feelings towards your mother are rather cold at the moment. You may want to have more freedom than she wants to grant you, and now things are a bit frosty between the two of you. The subtitle makes me think this has been in the making for a while now, but you’re only just now noticing it (like when fall is happening for quite a while but you’re still always surprised when it actually snows the first time).

I think cold is quite a good adjective here.Its probably the one I would have chosen had I been asked. Freedom is at the root of this, but not in a tangeable sense (I’ve made my life abroad for more than 20 years) its more a desire to break free of a mind set I acquired when much younger and is still at the root of some behaviours and attitudes today. Its not so much that I am only noticing these now, but that I am only now attempting to deal with them in a systematic/thorough way (through counselling etc); previous attempts were somewhat piecemeal.

2. CauseSea Storm

A woman’s body is rising from a stormy ocean. Bolts of lightning hit the water in the background, and the woman’s hair is flying in the wind. She seems to be a sea creature, and maybe even the cause of the storm (either way, she isn’t harmed by it and doesn’t seem to be afraid). The card’s subtitle is “Calm amidst chaos.”

It looks as if some pretty strong emotions are behind/below the snowy surface. Have you been fighting? Maybe even being a bit provocative? Or have you (or one of you) suppressed your feelings, maybe for fear of hurting the other? At any rate, there has been some upheaval, and it hasn’t been properly dealt with, so its effect is still active.

In this relationship I definately keep and kept my feelings hidden. I grew up walking on egg shells, anxious not to upset my mother, so you are right about suppressing feelings. I don’t think I entered into an argument until I was in my late 20’s, and still dislike confrontation with her, though I am getting better at standing my ground. I’m not sure what the upheaval is relating to, but would agree that the dynamic of our relationship and the coping mechanisms I learnt as a child are still active today.

3. SolutionOut Trick-Or-Treating

Three figures can be seen on this card: A skull-headed person in black leather who is holding a pumpkin-shaped basket, a gothy girl with red and black hair and a Gothic Lolita-style dress, and a tall pumpkin-headed one in an old-fashioned coat. Something green bubbles within a cauldron in front of them. The subtitle says “We’re heee-eeere!”

Are there other members of your family involved? If so, you all need to get together to resolve this.
The girl stands out most for me here because her look is pretty intense. Compared to the previous two cards, she doesn’t hold anything back. If she doesn’t like something about you, she’ll tell you in no uncertain terms – no playing cool or keeping up a front here! She also has gotten herself some support, just in case things are a bit much to handle for her alone.

No, there arent any other family members involved in this. We were a one parent family, which has alot to do with how strong the ties are between us; for good and bad!
Im guessing the girl in this card is what I could morph into?! In a way I can see the lure of not holding back, but would hope to temper this with some compassion? I probably should have been this character twenty plus years ago! That said, I take the point about not “keeping up a front.”
I feel that the support you are seeing is the counsellor I mentioned.

For some reason, this is also the most independent card for me. Or maybe I should say, the most grown-up card. The declaration “We’re heee-eeere!” announces that whatever issues are the bottom of this won’t go away until you face them and deal with them. If you do so, there will be a reward (a treat), and if you don’t, they will continue to bother you (trick you).

I have no idea how old you are, or if this is just the deck’s energy, but it all feels rather “teenagey” to me. That’s not meant as a value judgement, just as a description of a certain energy or theme I pick up here: issues of independence, asserting oneself in a way that isn’t judgmental about the other one, and dealing with the “shadow” side of things.

I’m hoping that the counselling will lead to some possitive rewards for me. I know that its going to require time, effort and commitment on my part….and your reading backs this up!

I hope this reading is useful to you! Please let me know if there is anything I can clarify for you.

Thanks for the reading Cat :) I think it was an accurate overview, and seems to confirm that I am heading in the right direction.

Note: I find this deck relatively hard to read. I think I generally do better with more interaction between the card characters and their companions/environment – or no figures at all.

Getting to know the big-eyed girls

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To get to know the voice of the Oracle of Shadows and Light a bit, I decided to do a deck interview as a first reading.

1. What key lesson do you have for me this week?The Sea Beacon Fairy

A fairy in dark blue-green rises from the ocean, holding a small lamp that glows faintly. Another lamp hangs from her bat-like wing. Way back at the horizon, a sailing ship can be seen. The water is choppy but the size of the waves is hard to tell (they seem small around the fairy but bigger in relation to the ship).

Guidance: but where will it lead you?” is the subtitle of this card.

Clearly, there is some kind of orientation offered, some signal to potentially follow. But where does it lead? What happens to those who sail towards this fairy? Is she indicating safe lands? Or will they drown at the sharp rocks at her feet? Is she a trustworthy beacon, or is she some kind of nautical will o’ the wisp?

The fairy itself looks as if she doesn’t really care either way. She doesn’t even turn towards the deck but instead poses nicely for the artist/viewer. Could that mean the Shadows and Light is most of all about looking pretty and then, a long way off, about being of any actual help?

2. What are you best used for?Nautilus Princess

We’re sticking with the nautical theme here, it seems. A red-haired girl clutches a beautiful Nautilus shell close to her chest. Pearly bubbles and small shells decorate her hair. We see her as if we’re looking between two pillars (the image hasn’t been made for the card so there has been some red background added in).

This one is subtitled: “Powerful personal growth.”

The Nautilus shell reminds me of the Golden Ratio (see this post from my week with the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot) and by way of that leads me to the idea of perfection. So this oracle is best used for perfecting myself?

The image and its subtitle also make me think of people who spend a lot of time on their “personal growth” without ever stopping to wonder how the world at large is going to benefit from that. I’m certainly not against growing into “better” human beings, I just don’t think we agree on what this “better” actually means. To me, there needs to be more than just personal satisfaction. How are you contributing to making the world a better place? I’m not sure our princess here has an answer to that…

That said, maybe there are times when getting to the point of being happier as an individual is the next step we have to take before we can then move on to doing something that’s not just for and about ourselves.

3. What will I take away from my time with you at the end of the week?Faceless Ghosts and the Haunted Girl

A black-haired girl kneels between two masks that remind me vaguely of Japanese kabuki make-up. She is situated in a bleak landscape of leafless trees and fog.

Edited to add: They are actually noh masks.

Ghost people” is the subtitle for this card.

It seems I will return to somewhat normal eye-sizes again… ;-) The way her hair is draped makes me think of Spanish Moss or Weeping Willows, which don’t exactly add a cheerful feeling to the scene. The masks and subtitle certainly suggest there is a lack of personality. All in all, I’d say this doesn’t look like we’re going to be best friends forever!

——-

I’ve also taken a look at the small companion book that comes with the deck.

The entry for the Sea Beacon Fairy says pretty much what I saw in the card. The one for the Nautilus Princess tells us that she’s a shy mermaid and that she’s worried about having to assume more power and responsibility soon because others may not like her anymore. Well. While I can relate to the feeling to a degree, and while I think that doubts and hesitations have their place in such an oracle, I still don’t find this moment of hesitation and doubt portrayed here a good illustration of the ultimate success the book promises. Finally, the entry for the Faceless Ghosts and the Haunted Girl tells me that the ghost people are actually called “noppera-bō” (although the card image and the actual folklore don’t seem to have much in common) and come from Japanese culture alright. It seems the author is getting at the idea of people who leech away one’s energy because they have no source of power of their own. Something about the “easified” explanation of this concept together with the complete dismissal of the poor “ghost people” strongly rubs me the wrong way. If nothing else, this entry is way too simplified and black-and-white for me.

Well. Looks like I don’t feel much love for the deck so far. I offered a few readings on Aeclectic this week and hope to post some on this blog. Maybe the deck reads better for others, when the focus is not so much on my own cynicism.