Fear is dangerous, not the tarot. - Benebell Wen

We have a lot of decks to review, so I’m going to keep them short and sweet and will be sure to link them to the creator. Also, for more reviews, check out my friend Amanda Bell’s website Indie Deck Review. She’s got some great decks up and a bunch of my buddies are writing for her! You can find that here.

 

The Linestrider Tarot - Version 2 - Siolo Thompson

I have the first edition of this deck, and I have to admit that I prefer it, but I’m also a creature of habit. I love that the King of Swords looks like Kurt Vonnegut. I love the really well informed, simple drawings. The second edition is just as beautiful and just as sturdy as the first. The colors are brighter, and some of the cards are a little more fleshed out, but I do love the original. Diversity - none. Boo.

 

Hedgewitch Botanical Oracle - Siolo Thompson

I don’t like oracle decks generally, but this one is just beautiful. It is a lovely deck to flip through and to meditate on. Using botanicals to trigger intuition to aid with clarity, this deck has meticulously detailed drawings about things that we might walk by every day. Cardstock is great, and it’s presented in that cool box + flip lid + deck thinger that Llewellyn is putting out. Diversity: n/a

 

The Orisha Tarot - Andrew McGregor

Andrew has been a practitioner of Orisha for a long time, and you can tell with the reverence and deep history that he includes in this deck. Orisha is a religion that comes from parts of Africa, South America and the Caribbean. The Orisha are the physical manifestations of the gods and include deities Shango, Yemoja, and Oshun. Each card in this deck describes part of the faith - either the beliefs or the gods, and how you can apply the ethics and lessons in your day to day life. I have friends who practice this faith (along with Andrew) and I learned more about Orisha by going through the deck than I have in conversation with friends. It’s really fantastic, and is a beautiful, respectful deck of a faith I was thrilled to learn more about.

 

John Bauer Tarot - John Bauer

I love fairy tales. Love them SO much. They inform so much of childhood and my love of reading and of story. This deck is two of my favorite things pulled together. The fairy tale and the tarot swirling around each other in such a playful and also dark way. These are not cheesy. These are like the original fairy tales that would feature kids getting their faces ripped off. Lovely. The only criticisms I have is that if you don’t know your major arcana really well, it’s hard to tell them apart. Also, the box is really flimsy and the cardstock is thin. The ARTWORK though, is fucking delightful. Diversity - None. you know. If you can have goblins and trolls and shit, can you have ONE person of color? I swear to god.

 

The Cult of Weimar Tarot - Collected artists

I love this deck. It was crazy expensive, and I saved up for it for months. It is exactly the kind of tarot deck I hate. It’s a collage deck. It’s dark. Each card is it’s own theme, so to speak, but it’s just compelling. I love the use of the figures. I love the genderqueer appearance of the figures. I love the darkness and the sultry energy that they hold. I love everything about them and they are worth every penny. Diversity - super queer, but no POC. TO BE FAIR, this is art gathered in Germany in the early 19th century soooooooo….not surprising, historically.

 

New Era Elements Tarot - Eleonore F. Pieper, PhD

This deck is really unsettling and incredibly beautiful - all at the same time. I think that’s the point of it. It shows a vivisection, a swastika, harsh capitalism, nuclear war. It also shows the amazing smile of the Dalai Lama, a mother holding her baby, and a Native woman who doesn’t look like a caricature. It’s not a deck I will use often, but it’s a deck I am so glad to own. The card stock is amaaaaazing, and the LWB is killer. Sturdy box and so beautifully diverse. Each of the suits represent a different race in the court cards and that’s just so refreshing. Do you hear that, other decks? It’s nice to have decks that reflect the world around us. Do better.

 

The Nomad Tarot - Jennifer Dranttel

I wrote in detail about this card back here, and I got it today and couldn’t wait to talk about it some more. The cardstock is fantastic and the tuck box is sturdy (which doesn’t fuckin happen). I love the starkness of this deck, and the approachable people and chickens that are in it. NOW, I’m generally not a fan of pip decks, but these pips are different. They have movement, their relationship to the other figures on the card matter. They flow. So - technicality - they’re illustrated pips. It’s hard to tell about diversity because it’s a black and white deck, but I actually like that because you can paint the cards whatever color you want. And I really like the chicken.

 

Tarot of Haunted House - Sasha Graha and Mirco Pierfederici

This is a cult-classic horror movie deck and it’s really fun. And creepy as hell. It’s vampy and campy and silly and B-Movie and the artwork is really fun. This would be a great deck for Halloween readings or for creepy parties. The cardstock is good and the box is sturdy. I was a bit afraid that this would look like the (terrifying and awful) TV Tarot. It does not. Whew. My only complaint (again) is that there isn’t a lick of diversity in this. You’ve got to be kidding me.

 

The Book of Shadow - The Lost Code of the Tarot - Andrea Aste

This is not just a tarot deck. This is a mystery and a decoder ring and an adventure, wrapped in tarot. To be honest, I haven’t had time to dive into it completely, but it’s grabbed my attention like a stack of Encyclopedia Brown books in the 7th grade. I love seeing folks become adventurous with the cards and I adore storytelling at its best. When I have time, I’m going to be hanging out with this deck a lot. Cardstock and box are sturdy, book is SUPER fun, and there are diverse figures in the deck. Very, very clever deck.

 

The Crow Tarot - MJ Jones

I saw this advertised on Facebook, I think. It was an Indiegogo deck and I bought it without even seeing more than two cards. I just wanted it. I have a thing for the trickster gods, and the crows speak to me a lot. I also want to compile a crow army later in life, but that’s not important. The deck is beautiful, the artwork is compelling, and although it is not wholly based on the RWS style, it’s close enough that beginners could use this deck with ease. Great card stock and a sturdy box, too. Love this one. Love love love

 

Dark Days Tarot - Wren McMurdo

I saved my favorite for last. I got this deck on a whim from a friend, and I’m so so glad that I did. It has everything I love in tarot. The cards match the traditional meaning, but have an all new perspective about them. The characters are folks you would see in the world around you. There is even a woman wearing hijab, which is just delightful to see in a deck. The cardstock is flexible and the cards are SQUARE so you can read them in four different directions. The only other square deck I have is my beloved Augenblick tarot that Shannon made, and I just love opening up my readings to those new angles. I love this deck so so much and am probably going to use it until it dissolves into tatters. Get this deck. I’m not kidding. You won’t regret it.

Meet Saturn, Your Wise and Patient Teacher - Aliza Einhorn

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I don't know a damn thing about astrology. I mean, I know that I'm a Sagittarius and that Sagittarian's are awesome. I also know that that's a super Sagittarian thing to say about myself, so I'mma roll with it.

I recently got Theresa Reed's  Astro Biz Digest, which piqued my interest a bit. To be fair, I don't have to do the astrology. I just have to listen to Theresa. Perfect. Another one of my friends has been doing astrology for some time and makes it easy for people with tarot clogged brains to figure out. 

Aliza Einhorn and I met on Twitter a long, long time ago. I think she was one of my first twitter buddies. She has a very approachable, yet very sincere approach to the signs. Lucky for all of us, she's written a book. "The Little Book of Saturn" focuses on where Saturn is in your chart - both the sign and the house. 

The only criticism I have is that there isn't a chart of what the symbols for the signs is, or where to find the house numbers. I have Saturn in Cancer in the Sixth House, but i had to go to the internet to see what the Saturn symbol was (it's an h with a line through it) and again for the sign and the House.

NOW - after you know these three things, you're all set. I found out that I have a fatherly energy instead of motherly - which explains so much - I'm just like my dad. I also found out that I should be a witch (duh) and a couple of other things that seriously made me consider my life and reactions to things around me. 

This book is fun - great to read for newbies (with an assist) and easy to follow.

Thanks, Aliza. Will we be getting the Little Book of Jupiter soon? I hear that's the planet for Sagittarius. ;)

xo Lis

 

Each day is a gift, each new opportunity- a seed for a dream. - Jamie Sawyer

I met Jamie Sawyer when I taught at the Omega Institute (which was awesome) and she was super nice and gave me one of her decks. So sweet. I love the colors and style - similar to tattoo style (she also tattoo's) (and does henna) and I fell hard for it.

Jamie is working on a Lenormand deck, and I can't see what else she's got up her sleeve. Learn more about Jamie here.

The Questionnaire!

Tell us about yourself!

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I’m short, crafty and have a lack of vices... My creative mind likes to fill my “free” time with all the things; drawing, sewing, jewelry making, Henna. I’ll think of something, and have a prototype within a few days... it’s how my busy brain works. I have been lucky enough to make my living as a Tattoo Artist for the past 16 years. Each day that I get to bring people’s ideas into physical form for a lifelong memory, makes my heart swell a little more. Lately though, my tattooing has become more of a conduit to share soulful experiences with my clients. It’s so much more than just the artwork.. We talk about everything from the mundane to soul expanding issues! I truly am grateful each and everyday, for my clients- who have become friends, and some feel like family after all these years. I have always been interested in the metaphysical, from crystals, to alters and rituals, to cards. I got my first oracle deck back in 2000, The Faeries’ Oracle, by Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth. (I still have it). Shortly after that I gifted myself the Morgan-Greer Tarot. It was and still is a deck that I align with. A few years ago, a tattoo client of mine asked me for a 3 of cups as a tattoo. I had so much fun illustrating it in my style, that I went home and began to sketch the Queen of Swords (She’s the card that at the time was my significator). I wanted to see how I’d turn her into a tarot-style tattoo. After I finished the red pencil sketch.... I thought to myself “Oh crap, did I just begin drawing my deck?!” Yep... and like that it had begun. The whole sketching process took me just over 2 weeks for all 78 thumbnails, my brain had become a conduit for creation.... I would watch TV with my partner, Tim and our Basset Hound, Barney- sketchbook/ pencil in hand, research books on the side and all my notes.... It took me 2 years to line/ color, scan and tweak all the cards, as life tends to happen and projects get put on the side burner. I made peace with the Deck and knew that it would be birthed at the perfect time and not a minute before. At the end of 2017, I decide to take a social media break and color the last 36 cards, it’s amazing what one can do when they don’t have the digital distractions. At that time, my mother Gail was needing a distraction from her daily life and I asked her to write the “blurbs” for my LWB. She took my notes, meditated on each card and wrote what came to her from looking at my images... That’s when “Sawyer’s Path” A Tarot Journey was named. It became a collaboration at that moment in time. I’ll cherish her words for many years to come. They may not be the traditional explanations for the cards, but they are her wit, wisdom and feelings of my drawings. I knew then that it was the perfect time for Our deck to come into the world.

What's your idea of happiness?

Happiness to me is being free from the imposing burdens of society.... even if for a moment. It’s sitting outside with my partner, watching the birds at the feeders and the deer eat from the pear tree. It’s a snow day with my dog, pajamas and some hot cocoa, it’s talking on the phone to my mother for what can become hours. It’s sitting at my art table getting lost in the subject of my focus... whether that be books, markers, paint, henna or Tarot Cards. Happiness is being fully present in the moment and shutting out the “what I have to dos”.

What's your idea of misery?

Misery is when I let that inner voice run rampant about the “what ifs” “what coulds” and the “you know,this also might happens” believing the negative self talk. Misery is getting lost in the ego mind and taking it personally. “We are the manufactures of our own misery”.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

I have very few close friends, I’m pretty introverted. I appreciate that, even though we may not talk everyday- when we do it’s like no time has passed. I love how we can laugh and enjoy the little things together. I enjoy breakfast and catching up. I also am grateful that they know this is how I am and if I cancel at the last minute, they don’t take it personally... for they just know I need that alone time.

Where would you like to live?

I love where we live currently, eastern PA... The only thing I’d change would perhaps to be a place that we own.  Still in the woods, though, away from the busy world

Your favorite colors and flowers?

My favorite color is a light teal/ blue. My favorite flowers, wild flowers... I love the way they growing out of control, as if to say “ you can’t contain me! I’m gonna bloom where I want!” Also, they bring the bees and butterflies.... and who doesn’t love them?!

Your favorite poets or authors?

My favorite authors would have to be: Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, (older) Anne Rice, Chuck Palahnuik, Joe Hill, Gregory Maguire, Dan Millman, Don Miguel Ruiz, Augusten Burroughs, Elizabeth Gilbert

Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Hmmmmm.. That’s a tough one. Perhaps listing who I’ve been on previous Halloweens would help... hahaha. Blossom (Power puff girls), Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, (many many years ago in self made costumes) Mrs. Lovett, Freddy Krueger (I was 10, I think), Selene from Underworld (A couple times)... Looks like I have a thing for anti-heroes. Oops. I do enjoy Batman more than Superman, (perhaps it’s the introvert in me) and growing up I definitely wanted to be Princess Leia at times, but being a child of that era, who wouldn’t?!

Your heroes/heroines in real life?

My Mother. She has overcome so much in her life and truly is a constant source of inspiration and wisdom. I also find the older I get, that I’m drawn to confident, strong women... those who speak up for themselves, unapologetically and authentically... I hope to one day become the same type of woman.

What is your present state of mind?

I’d have to say pretty fantastic. I wouldn’t trade being me right now for being 20 year old me. I like this version the best yet.

What role does divination play in your life?

I use it daily. I love the morning ritual of pulling a card and diving deep into the meaning. It sets a tone for my day. Lately my dreams have become fairly vivid and some things even prophetic; not always but I’m more alert to the patterns when they do. I love seeing the animal messengers that greet me daily and look to their wisdom. Also in my work life, when I have a client in my tattoo chair, I feel that I become a conduit for messages to them... Sometimes I say things that they needed to hear, and then I don’t even remember what was said. They’ll shoot me an email later and say “this really helped me thank you...”. I love being tuned in and able to share that with them.

What is  your favorite deck or divination tool?

mages, the bright colors and the somewhat positive spin to otherwise traditionally dark cards. I’ve been amassing quite the tarot collection as I’m a sucker for art and the beauty some artists put into their cards, well I want to support that!

Your favorite songs?

Current favorite music artist: Tash Sultana, (check out this amazing soul with an even more amazing voice.)

Your favorite word?

Expansion

Your least favorite word?

Taxes

What about your favorite curse word?

The word used most often is probably the “F” word.... Tattoo artist who is married to a trucker... I can’t help it. (you can say fuck here. It's a safe space)

What sound or noise do you love?

he noise a humming bird makes, google it, it’s adorable.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Sirens

What turns you on?

A deep conversation

What turns you off?

Elitism

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

You spent your time wisely.

You can find Jamie here:

Www.SacredSpaceTattoo.com

Www.etsy.com/shop/jammerdesignz

Instagram accounts: 

@SacredSpaceTattoo (Studio acct)

@SacredSpaceHenna(Henna)

@JamieSawyer_336 (Tarot)

@Jammerdesignz (Archived tattoos)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sacredspacetattoo/

The Marshmallow Marseille - A review

 I absolutely spent a really long time playing with the reflections on this deck. Not sorry

I absolutely spent a really long time playing with the reflections on this deck. Not sorry

I got a copy of the Marshmallow Marseille by Jorge Cuaik. Now - to be completely honest, I don't like Marseille decks. Mostly because I learned with the RWS deck, and also because it looks like a bunch of sticks for me. HOWEVER, my friend Ryan Edward is changing my mind with his beautiful work, and then I get this shiny gorgeous thing in the mail.

I like small decks (and I cannot lie) because I have wee Polish hands and it's easier for me to shuffle. The cardstock is fantastic and the box is sturdy. The artwork is pretty and I like the color palette a lot. I only see white/traditional faces here.

Jorge answered our questionnaire below, and you can find the Marshmallow Marseille here. 

xo Melissa

Questionnaire 

Tell us about yourself!

I'm a Mexican filmmaker, costume designer, screenwriter, sometimes singer, full-time sorcerer, astrologer in training and broomstick-traveler. I left Mexico City at sixteen to study high school in a picturesque boarding school in middle-of-nowhere Scotland. There I met the devil at the crossroads and decided crossroads were totally my thing so I haven't stopped wandering since. After more than ten years of country hopping I now live in the small magical town of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico which has a pink church as its centerpiece and a giant building shaped like a duck. I continue to travel whenever I can.

Three years ago I set out to put all the pieces of my scattered life together and created the Wandering Oracle website, at first a small blog, later a divination shop, it will reopen soon in an updated format. Just last year I teamed up with my brother to create our first original Tarot deck and like cotton candy in a French carnival stall the Marshmallow Marseille, puffed up into existence. A new and sweeter than ever edition is available now.

What's your idea of happiness?

A room full of books, a tea making station and a reading marathon. Also, road trips.

What's your idea of misery?

Defending of any sort of singular 'reality'.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

My friends are a true collection. I like it when we share sidekick roles in each other's stories the most and I appreciate every killer Karaoke duet.

Where would you like to live?

Japan Japan Japan, there's my haiku spell. I like to move so another fantasy of mine is owning small nest-like spaces in many places around the world and being able to jump between them. Shame about the property market but hey, Airbnb

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Green and Jasmine. I only like living, potted flowers and plants. I dislike the smell of flower vase water because it reminds me of graveyards. Nothing against graveyards but I have a very sensitive sense of smell.

Your favorite poets or authors?

Angela Carter and Charles Dickens. Ursula K LeGuin is also a favorite. Living authors, my favorite is David Mitchell. Of the classic poets, I'm team Shelley.

Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Buffy and Angel forever. I also adore Miles from the Vorkosigan book series by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Your heroes/heroines in real life?

Anyone who actively practices empathy and real kindness. Historical hero Tousant L'Ouverture. Previously mentioned favorite authors. All the great witches, Giordano Bruno, L. Frank Baum, Jack Parsons, Robert Anton Wilson, David Lynch, Hayao Miyazaki, Kate Bush, Selena.

What is your present state of mind?

Trying to avoid an online shopping spree. Want to read Vettius Valens Anthology (astrology classic) all night.

What role does divination play in your life?

Divination is like my pocket-sized, always ready synchronicity device and also my favorite travel companion.

What is your favorite divination tool?

My favorite Tarot is the Lasenikuv (sometimes called Lasenic) a Czech Wirth-like deck that has the coolest court cards ever. Divination tool, I like playing cards the most, because they're everywhere, and are easy to travel with. I own an antique Bulgarian set which I used to sell on my website as the Drak Cartomacy deck and it's like a small treasure to me.

Your favorite songs?

Tenderness by General Public, Golden Calf by Prefab Sprout, Belle of St. Mark by Sheila E, anything by Kate Bush I'm an 80's new wave cult member. Favorite Spice Girls song? Now that's a tough one, I'd go for Say You'll Be There.

Your favorite word?

I do love the word Fortune.

Your least favorite word?

Organic. Although I like that it comes from organs, like organized. Actually most food marketing words are terrible.

What about your favorite curse word?

All the ones used by Little Pete in The Adventures of Pete and Pete e.g. Blowhole!

What sound or noise do you love?

Crickets. Mandolins. My friend plays the Saw and it's incredibly moving. Any great middle-eight from a pop song.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Chewing. Fridge goats. Honking. Leafblowers.

What turns you on?

Cleanliness.

What turns you off?

When people say 'excuse me' because they want you to move.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

Nothing at all, I'd just want a hug.

The Art of Cristy C. Road

 Photo shamelessly lifted from www.croadcore.org

Photo shamelessly lifted from www.croadcore.org

I found Cristy Road’s work because a friend had the New World Tarot and unfortunately let me hold it for a while. I could not put it down. They actually had to take it back from me. If you haven’t seen this deck, stop right now and click on this link. Easily one of the most diverse tarot decks I’ve ever seen. Feminist, inclusive and representative of the world around us, Road’s deck is a clear departure from the straight, white tarot that most of us grew up with. 
After going down the rabbit hole researching Roads and her work, I grew more and more enchanted with her. Musician, artist, poet, and activist- she lives the punk rock badass existence and shares it with us through so many avenues. We found some time to chat and my crush and admiration embiggened.

 The Lovers - The Next World Tarot

The Lovers - The Next World Tarot


M: Your thesis is on the history of tarot! That’s cool as shit.

C: Yeah, I want to do something more with that. I’m not sure what yet. I went to FIT for illustration and wanted more teaching gigs. I found that capitalism was becoming a problem. I realized I’m not going to change my style or the content of my graphic novels and music and the deck to capitalize off it more. I felt like I could get more commission work if I had a more flexible portfolio and developed that. I needed to shift my focus to workshops and lectures. I felt like with an MSA I could get more stable jobs. I’m a Cancer rising and I need this weird life. Being on tour for half the year and then having this grounding thing. 

I went [to FIT] for illustration and did a written piece and a visual piece – the tarot deck was the visual piece. I’d been working on it before school and was going to do a Kickstarter eventually. I really liked the concept of creating this deck on a way that was very based off of my magic and reclaiming magic from the dogmatic and weird ways that it’s been presented to me all my life, through Catholicism or even witchy communities that were very white. 

 Justice - Next World Tarot

Justice - Next World Tarot

I grew up in Miami, my parents are Cuban and I grew up with this culture and magic that’s around all the time. I had conservative values that made me angry when I was younger, and a punk rocker with this other life. We weren’t really religious. My family has changed through the years, and now things are different, but I just feel like connecting to magic and spirituality was my personal journey, and getting the ancestors and family involved helped to open that portal and realized that creating a tarot deck and getting into astrology and the queer connection to magic – it grew. It was something I connected to this experience and developed my identity and who I was. I realized that that woman focused magic wasn’t something that I connected with. I didn’t really know who I was, and I’ve been on a journey to connect to magic in a way that was really real and honest, and not just “This is here and I’m going to take it”. All of that led me back to ancestral magic and this connection that is really queer. I learned about things that allowed me to be magical and connected, and these cultural experiences and spirits and traditions about Santeria and Catholicism. It was a very magical to see my own individual history without the validation of Catholic communities and straight witch communities. It was then that I was ready to work on this deck. 

I started the deck with Michelle Tea back in 2007, we collaborated on the image ideas, but then we stopped working together. No drama involved. I stayed with the deck, though. I wanted to make it mine. I was very depressed – it was hard to work with the pangs of racism and homophobia. Friendships were hard, and there was so much death at the time. I was trying to stay grounded with yoga – you know, smoke some weed.... Overall, I wanted to make sure I had my communities and my altars and all of these things that assisted with this long-term healing process. My response to all of this was triggered by past trauma with sexual assault and reclaiming my body from these terrible things that happened 15-20 years ago. Healing from that with involved feminism, punk and being a badass bitch. My book Bad Habits is all about that.

At the end of the day, that along with family drama and colonialism – things that affected my family and have made my existence different than the idealized immigrant story that we grow up hearing. Realizing that we were just people. I really needed grounding and I think that’s why I connected to magic. The way it connected to my tarot deck was really amazing. I never considered learning about the tarot – I thought it was cool and I knew about the cards, and how people connected to it. I liked not knowing the history because I was aware of the European commercialization of it. I decided I would really read this and then explain like the Golden Dawn ignored everything that came before it. Egyptian, Chinese, Indian history was just covered up and destroyed. These things did not become commercial, they were just spiritual tools. The commercialization started in the 1500’s in Italy and from that came the first commercial decks. It really pissed me off. This is the history of capitalism.

That’s why I wrote it. I love and respect the pioneers of the mass production of those projects. I just hate the history and the archives. I couldn’t even find the Egyptian history except that Egyptian imagery is used in the cards. The knowledge about the Qabalah that exists in popular decks – people have created decks that are using this information, but where are the roots? The history with the Golden Dawn and the late 1800’s in the decks – the exclusivity that existed there that was put forth by white men. There is so much more that we should all know. This is why I’m editing my thesis for publication – this is all articulated in there. I also talk about politicizing the deck. Even though people still honor the Golden Dawn, there are also decks like the Motherpeace decks. You need the feminist versions as well.  I’ve only heard of tarot being taught in an illustration course once. I’m having a moment now- I’m so glad you brought that out. 

It was really cool to learn this history, and I found the book “The Secrets of the Tarot” by Barbara Walker. This is an anti-patriarchy, anti-colonialism book and it was amazing. (There is also a feminist tarot deck by Barbara Walker) She really politicized everything – I’m so glad it was written. 

M: It’s frustrating to always see straight white people in tarot.

C: Right, but I don’t think it’s always straight white folks who perpetuate that, though. It’s sad. When you live your life subconsciously seeing only a certain kind of face around you, it’s a lot to deal with. You want to try to represent everyone. The older I get, the more I want to elevated folks who usually aren’t elevated. I paint people I know. I started the deck when I was 29-30, and it was just a lot of queer punks who were my age. Maybe some older folks. There were some people who weren’t included even though they were friends, because they were white or straight – and I thought that they’ve been represented a lot. I definitely engage in white spaces a lot in the punk scene, but when I was younger I didn’t want to go to shows. Now I don’t care – I just want to go see a band I like. 


 

I think that Cristy Roads’ work is important, because people on the margins can see their faces in the tools they use to see their lives. This is a big deal. The next edition of the New World Tarot will be available in November 2018. 

Cristy - thanks so much for taking the time!

Xo Lis
 

I once put Cheerios in my singing bowl and the Ohm’s went on for hours. - Karen Rontowski

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I found Karen Rontowski because I was depressed in 2010. I was tooling the internet, watching my friend Sara Benincasa’s videos and stumbled upon Maria Bamford. She made me laugh SO hard and feel so much better that I became an instant fan. I went to see her a few years ago, and her opener was Jackie Kashian. Jackie is also hilarious, smart and clever, so I started listening to her podcast. She has this great podcast called the Dork Forest, in which she interviews folks about things that they’re crazy excited about. So thank you – amazing chain of women.

One of the episodes was with Karen Rontowski – a comedian, tarot reader and ghost hunter. Three of my favorite things. After going way, way down the rabbit hole on google with Karen, I emailed and asked if I could interview her and she said yes! We talked about our superstitions and how we beat them down with gratitude, and honestly, the first ten minutes of the interview were spent talking about tarot and politics and our businesses like we’d known each other for years.

Tarot seems to be trending lately and both of our tarot businesses are doing well. We talked about how the world seems to be getting more hostile. More folks are looking for comfort. We are both working our asses off because it feels like the next three years are going to continue to be intense, and that figuring out who we are and what we stand for is a huge part of our work, as well. Since Karen’s work involves helping people AND making them laugh – I am so glad she does what she does.

M: Karen, when did you find tarot?

K: I met the lady I still consider to be my tarot teacher. Although, I didn’t really believe in my psychic stuff, but I believed in it in general. I saw the way that she did it, and she taught me a little bit about the cards when I was in my twenties. I thought that I could learn every single thing about these cards and then I could put it all together and become a great reader. All of that effort I put into the cards just woke up everything for me – I was about 24. I’ve always had psychic stuff happen, but I think he cards were such a great tool for me.

M: Lots of times the cards will amplify people’s gifts, but I love that they woke yours up.

K: Yeah, it was approach it from a place of complete logic.

M: I love that – there are a lot of tarot folks flinging love and light at tarot right now, but I love that substantial logical view of the cards. It reminds me of Rachel Pollack – if you can’t figure it out, just read the card.

K: I’m in love with the Rider Waite deck. I never stop reading books on it because I just find it fascinating. One friend has 1500 decks and another reads playing cards, but I just need the one deck.

M: If you find a tool that works in your hand, use that tool, right?  

K: Yes. Absolutely.

M: So, ghosts scare the shit out of me. I’ve only seen a few, and I wanted to talk to you about this ghost hunting thing. How did it start? Do you find it more of a passion or something that you can’t *not* do?

K: It’s funny because I have a friend who’s a skeptic – he doesn’t believe in psychic stuff but gets readings from me. He says that I eat, drink and shit paranormal. He’s absolutely right. I would say it is both – it’s both something I can’t not do, and it is a passion. I would say this is even before tarot. I’ve always been interested in it – always loved ghost stories, always pursued it. Even on the road, I would look out for haunted places. It’s funny how it evolved. There’s regular ghost hunting. We would go to a haunted location and that is very tedious and long. You basically sit around with your equipment and wait for something to happen. I joined a group in LA – there’s a group on meetup.com for this. There is also learning about fairies and elementals – and I kind of mixed them all in one. And I just kind of discovered YouTube like it never existed before and am studying the djinn. These are the things that fascinate me. Who I am is wanting to know what the next paranormal or UFO thing is.

M: what I hear you saying is that a gigantic, huge part of you is asking why.

K: I have one foot in the outside world and one in this. I’m always fascinated with people who are not interested. What?

M: Yes! I just finished my second book and my editor said I needed card descriptions. Some people will know how to read cards, but some won’t. She had to explain that there are people who don’t read cards and it took me a second to realize that that was a thing. Really? That’s so odd.

K: I have a joke where I say “I have a friend who won’t let me read for her because she’s afraid of the future, and I say “I know who you’ve slept with – you should be afraid of the path”. I admire people who are so in the moment that it’s just in the moment. But I know how much better people feel after a tarot reading, too.

M: Is there a way that tarot has made your life any worse? Since were talking about how it make our lives better.

K: Not really. As a late bloomer I don’t think so. My business picked up fast. I started reading in comey shows fro the stage and then I started the business. I went from no readings, to some readings to 4-5 a day. It’s amazing how tiring it is. It’s a very tiring energetic focus. I also think that I opened up this connection with god, or whatever people want to call it – the Universe, that just made my whole life better. It’s a spritutality – almost like a high – and I have to ground myself after. Somewhere a connection is made that makes you closer to your source.

M: It’s very refreshing to hear from someone for whom reading has only improved their life.

K: I do remember one time doing a reading with a friend who is an animal communicator. We had a whole room sold out, and didn’t realize that the room as attached to a church. The day the advertising came out, the folks from the church said they wouldn’t step foot in the church again if we brought tarot cards into the church, and had to find a new venue that night.

M: I want to ask about tarot reading from a stage. I’ve never heard of anyone doing this with cards. How does this work? I’m astounded and also kind of want to steal your idea.

K: I have a standing show at ??’s in Burbank, and I have a show every other month called Psychic Standup. My favorite i with my friend Lamont. He takes the question and I read the cards. It’s almost the same as reading on the phone. We make up jokes and read at the same time. We’ve been doing this together so long. It’s a risk, though, that a lot of comedy clubs won’t take.

M: Well, you’re a badass and are brave as fuck. What are the mechanics of it?

K: I just wait for the question and then tune in. I promise you could do this if you try. Just read the fucking card, right? The only hard part was being funny and reading at the same time. You do readings over the phone? You’re already there. I don’t see a difference. I’m not sure if you’re on stage a lot, because that’s my whole life, so that might be the block.

Comedy gives me a backup plan – someone asked a question and I said “I think there’s a money problem. He said no. Is there a gambling problem? No. So I made a joke and everyone laughed. I left it there but did see something there. As long as you have the laugh, it’s easier than doing it cold.

The first thing I do is say, “Who has a question?” and NO ONE raises their hands. After the first question, every hand is raised.

M: Is it comedy and tarot for you forever? Have you found your Thing?

K: Yes. Comedy, tarot and paranormal. My dream is to have a comedy/paranormal show called Paranormal Karen. I’d love to drive around and look at the paranormal stuff, and my stage show would be the comedy part. That’s the plan if the Universe wants to give it to me. I don’t want to do anything else.

M: That’s so cool. I know I don’t know you but I’m crazy proud of you and excited for you. Anytime I can find someone who talks about tarot and doesn’t make us look like a bunch of assholes, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see what else you get up to. Thanks so much for your time!


 

THE ONLY TAROT PODCAST WHERE TWO NON-MYSTICAL, DILETTANTE HOSTS USE THE MYSTICAL ART OF TAROT READING TO GIVE REAL ADVICE.

 You can catch the Amateur Tarot podcast LIVE - Thursday, July 12 at 8 PM - 9:30 PM The Monocle * 4510 Manchester Ave, St. Louis 63110

You can catch the Amateur Tarot podcast LIVE - Thursday, July 12 at 8 PM - 9:30 PM
The Monocle * 4510 Manchester Ave, St. Louis 63110

I met Brian at one of our tarot meetups. And again at another. And then another. I am terrible with names (and also faces).  Brian is a really cool guy who has turned his tarot path into a goodhearted and funny adventure for us to follow. 

I'm excited just by the excitement that Brian and Ben bring to tarot. It's fun to listen to folks discover something that I've known for so long - I ALWAYS learn something new. You can find the podcast here. 

Brian and his co-host Ben are taking the podcast on the road. If you're in St. Louis, you should check it out here. 

QUESTIONNAIRE

Tell us about yourself!
Amateur Tarot Pod is a comedy podcast wherein two decidedly non-mystical non-trained skeptics use the power of the tarot to answer listeners' life questions, from universal truths all the way down to office etiquette.

The show is me, Brian Dooley, and my co-host Ben Noble. We're both creative-types in our professional lives, and we're both improvisers.

We've been doing the podcast since October of 2016, and when we started, neither one of us had any skill besides an easy banter between us. When we began, we would check every card against the LWB, write down all the answers, and then record the show. Over the course of almost two years, we've become passing acquainted with most of the cards, and we no longer require the books (for our advice readings).

What’s your idea of happiness?

It's difficult to think of happiness in terms of something sustainable, and I prefer to look at is as peak emotional notes in a longer composition. Snuggling with someone I care about, petting cats and dogs, eating a food that I love, ordering new tarot decks, and recording our show are a very short list of things that play those notes for me.

What’s your idea of misery?

Oh boy... At the risk of turning this into a political forum, I would say that there is misery inherent in the lives of people who work to stifle the lives and well-being of other people...and they create misery in the lives of those that are stifled. My heart aches for people who are less fortunate than I have been, and my blood boils at the small-minded bigots and cowards who strive to keep those people down. Misery is also often something that comes from within ourselves, due to faulty wiring or bad chemistry or something like that. That kind of insidious misery can strike anyone. Am I answering this question correctly?  *YES*

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

I need my friends to be kind and funny. Everything else is just window dressing.

Where would you like to live?

Besides the weather most of the time, I love living here in St. Louis. There are times when I think I'd rather live in a bigger city nearer to an ocean, but my city has everything I want, and I've grown to love it quite a bit.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Blue is my favorite color, in all of its many iterations. Typically I have a new favorite shade of blue every time I get my hair colored and my stylist creates something new. One of my best friends' favorite flowers is the hyacinth, and I think that's just about one of the best words in existence...but my favorite plant is called a Lamb's Ear, and it's soft and furry and I can't help but touch it every time I see it in someone's front yard.

Your favorite poets or authors?

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. has held the highest spot in my pantheon for a long time. I also fell in love with beat poetry when I was in college, so Kerouac and Ginsberg and the rest of those boho hobos are in there. The best series of books I've ever read is the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Argh! It's difficult to narrow down once I get started, so I'll just stop there.
Honorable Mention to J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter Series), Jomny Sun (everyones an aliebn when you're an aliebn too), and Bryan K. Vaughan (Saga)

Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Number one would have to be Chewbacca. He's a loyal friend with an intense amount of love and humor. I named my cats Han and Lando so that I could be the Chewie of our group.
Your heroes/heroines in real life?
I admire people who speak truth to power. Anyone who organizes and participates in protests against injustice and inhumanity. Voters. Comedians and other artists who use their platform to create change. These folx do the day-to-day work that will help create a world worth living in.

What is your present state of mind?

I'm coming off of a lengthy depressive downswing and starting to enjoy my day-to-day life more and more. I just read Tarot at Tower Grove Pride Festival this past weekend, and as a byproduct I got to spend a lot of time with a lot of my best friends, so that was really nice. I'm still kind of riding that high.

What role does divination play in your life?

I love reading the cards. It's one of my favorite things to be doing. But I don't read them for myself, and I don't believe in mystical woo woo things. It could be argued that I'm 100% more mystical and woo woo than I was before we started this podcast, and I wouldn't push back too hard. I've seen quite a few coincidences in the cards that have chipped away at my cold Scully to find the Mulder underneath.

As far as the podcast goes, Tarot is a huge part of my life. I'm always recording, editing, planning, scheduling, writing, or purchasing something Amateur Tarot Pod related. And out of the two of us, I'm definitely the one who has been shifted the furthest from our skeptical bedrock.

Selfishly, as a socially anxious person, the cards are a great way for me to connect with other humans in social situations. :) What is your favorite deck or divination tool?
The Numinous Tarot is by far my favorite deck. Over the past few years, I've built up a small collection of 100+ decks, and we use two different decks for each episode, so I'm forever getting new decks. But from the first moment I started flipping through the Numinous deck, it was Love. I've been using no other decks for the past month or so (but recording starts up again soon, so I'll have to go back to my old deck-slut ways).

Your favorite songs?

Oh boy, this is as hard as that author question...
Anything by Cake or Ben Folds is going to get my attention. I listen to a lot of 90's pop rock (reliving my youth, I suppose). I love Pink Floyd. Billy Joel has been my favorite musical artist for the past 30 years.

Your favorite word?

"Autumnal" is a nice word. It feels so pliant and willowy.

Your least favorite word?

"Clot" is a nasty word. There are many political names that I would place here as well.

What about your favorite curse word?

"Fuck" is likely my favorite.

What sound or noise do you love?

I love when a piano is being played so hard that it sounds like it might break.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Young children crying and/or screaming.

What turns you on?

Kindness, humor, talent. In that order.

What turns you off?

Lack of empathy. Cruelty.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

"You were right. Kindness is all that counts."
 

Tarot Makes Music - Ste McCabe

A long, long time ago, I created the Tarot MixTape Playlist. I asked a few of my buddies to find songs that defined the Major Arcana for them. "Pendulum Swinger" by the Indigo Girls, for example, nails the High Priestess for me. 

I love using pop culture to teach tarot. It's accessible, it gives depth and texture to the cards, and it's fun. Big fan of fun. 

So I got an email from a fella named Tarot Cat (Ste McCabe). Instantly curious, I saw that he played with some of my friends and had a very cool Zine for sale. This little booklet (which I bought, devoured and then read again) (and it's autographed! Aww. <3) is fantastic. 

There are articles from folks like Enrique Enriquez, Theresa Reed, and Christiana Gaudet. The theme for each article follows the connection between music and tarot. It's a very cool perspective on a really interesting concept. I couldn't recommend it more.

My favorite part was Robert Place's article about Pythagoras and the threefold allegory of the Trumps. Just fascinating.

You can find the zine here, and more about Tarot Cat below. 

xo!

LFT Questionnaire

What’s your idea of happiness?

Living in a cottage in the middle of a deep green forest with my husband, a lot of cats and some whippets. Having no responsibilities other than looking after my four-legged friends in the wilderness.

What’s your idea of misery?

Having to be a teenager again.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

That they are drama-free.

Where would you like to live?

Honestly, I love living here in Scotland (I’m from England originally). I would like to be a little more remote in the beautiful Scottish nature though.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Teal is my favourite colour. I’m terrible at naming flowers but I recently smelt wild Sweet Cicely (European Herb) for the first time in years and it brought a lot of happiness!

Your favorite poets or authors?

Sarah Waters for the Victorian lesbian costume dramas, and Murakami for the psychological spiritual experimentalism (and cats).

Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

The entire teenage girl gang in Joyce Carol Oates’s Foxfire.

Your heroes/heroines in real life?

Right now, Houn Jiyu-Kennett, a female British Buddhist who brought Soto Zen Buddhism to the west in the 1960’s. Such an amazing person and life.

What is your present state of mind?

A little bit magical.

What role does divination play in your life?

It’s an old friend, a way of understanding myself, a mind-bending psychological game - and it’s a part-time job too!

What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

I have to be boring and say either the Rider-Waite-Smith or the Tarot de Marseille. I like my tarot traditional!

Your favorite songs?

Oh blimey! I’m a musician and music geek, too many choices! Anything by Pagan Goddess Wendy Rule will do right now :)

Your favorite word?

Buggar

Your least favorite word?

Work

What about your favorite curse word?

It’s ‘c**t’ I’m afraid. I know you guys hate it in North America, but it’s almost a term of affection here in Scotland.

What sound or noise do you love?

Ducks quacking.

What sound or noise do you hate?

My cat hissing (he’s a drama queen, it never stops)

What turns you on?

Eastern European accents (I married a Polish man to prove it)

What turns you off?

Olives

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

‘Oooh, hello gorgeous, it’s you! I just adored those little hotpants that you wore for Holy Communion!’

“There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.” ― Ludwig Wittgenstein

I wrote about the Numinous Tarot in my last newsletter and have been using it this month for some of my daily posts. It's a beautiful deck. It's beautiful in a few ways. 

1. The artwork itself is lovely.

2. The edges are all shiny and sparkly. (Hi, i'm a magpie)

3. The diversity in race is glorious.

4. The representation of ways to love people is beautiful.

5. The different sizes and shapes and abilities of the folks in the beautiful cards is amazing.

6. The interpretation of the swords as bells brings clarity. Pentacles as Tomes brings groundedness. Cups as vessels brings satisfaction. Wands as Candles are enlightened.

This deck is representative of the world around us. It's joyful and hopeful, dark and serious. It's all parts of each of us. I couldn't love it more if I tried, and I know for a fact that it changes lives. 

The creator is Noel Heimpel, and they were sweet enough to fill out our questionnaire. Scroll to learn more about Noel and their fantastic work.

LFT Questionnaire

LFT QUESTIONNAIRE

 

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Noel, I'm 27 years old, and I currently live in Seattle, WA making art and reading Tarot! I'm originally from Maryland, where I was blessedly brought up to embrace creativity and uniqueness. I've been drawing since I can remember and reading Tarot since I was 13. I'm a polytheistic animist and a witch—these days I call myself an art witch because my art and magic really couldn't exist separately from one another. I love bright colors and fashion and being outdoors in nature as much as possible. I'm white, nonbinary, and queer (pan & gray-asexual/gray-romantic). My pronouns are they/them.

What's your idea of happiness?

A mug of tea, a book, and some snacks while sitting outside under the sun is very much a picture of what happiness is for the introverted side of me. But these days more and more happiness to me is most often found within the connections I have to other people, whether in the flesh or online, whether directly or through a book or a deck or a comic they made, whether we're very similar or very different. I felt very alone for much of my life, for various reasons, so the feeling of connecting and loving and understanding other people is so very fulfilling and brings me a lot of joy.

 

What's your idea of misery?

In the past when I felt that deep aloneness and disconnect, when I was afraid to connect with others or wasn't able to because abuse had warped my view of what connection meant, or what it would bring for me, that was really miserable and would be again. Also, one time I saw a bunch of JROTC teens jogging and chanting military songs in unison and felt deep in my core that doing that sort of thing would be absolutely antithetical to my very being, so there's that! I love connection but I also can't stand the thought of being molded into a single uniform unit, personally. I gotta let my individual weirdness shine.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

The thing I appreciate most about my friends is their deep compassion. Everyone in my life right now is full of compassion and love for others, including people they don't know. Many of them are activists and organizers who work hard & fight to better the lives of oppressed people, and to create better communities for us all. It's really difficult and draining work but they do it out of love. The same can be said for my friends who are creatives & makers, putting work out for those of us who normally don't see ourselves in media. And that love and compassion is present in our personal interactions as well; I never have to worry these days about being judged or turned away if I go to one of my friends with a problem.

Where would you like to live?

I'm actually extremely happy right where I am! I live in a cooperatively run—as much as we can without owning the place anyway—house in Seattle, right near to a big park and almost all the amenities I need, with roommates who are my chosen family, and little could be better than that. Maybe one day I'd like to live more out in the country, closer to the ocean, but I definitely love being in the Pacific Northwest (I'm originally from Maryland) and feel like I'm here to stay for a long time.

Your favorite colors and flowers?

Right now I'm very partial to light pink (“Millennial pink” as they say), bright yellow, gold, and turquoise! I have a bajillion favorite flowers as well but bluebells and sunflowers are at the top of the list for the moment.

Your favorite poets or authors?

I have so many favorite authors, but the top of my list right now are: Virginia Woolf, Alice Hoffman, Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Pratchett, RoAnna Sylver, and Claudie Arseneault. The first big four have been inspiring my expression of magic & emotion since I was a teen, and the last two are friends of mine in indie/self-publishing whose works are really wonderful and queer stories that I see myself in very deeply, in ways I normally don't. People should definitely check them out & give them the attention they deserve!

 

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Your heroes/heroines in fiction?

Sam Vimes from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels is definitely one of my favorite heroes. He just has a core-deep understanding of justice and the will to enact it—without looking for personal glory—that I find admirable and inspiring. And child-me looked up to Daine from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series a lot. I mean, she could talk to animals! And use that magic to make a difference in her world! That will never not be cool.

Your heroes/heroines in real life?

Right now I am in total admiration of all of my peers in both the queer Tarot world and in comics, for doing the work they do and creating all this beautiful community space for us to thrive in. Especially in a society that devalues creative work, especially when made by marginalized people. The fact that they are still out there creating and thriving and supporting one another inspires me and keeps me going every day!

What is your present state of mind?

I feel very grateful and blessed right now. For the past week I've been receiving a lot of heartfelt messages and reviews concerning the Numinous Tarot, as well as way more new orders than I expected to get during the first few weeks of sales, and I barely know what to do with all the feelings that inspires! It is so fulfilling to know that this thing I made is being received exactly the way I intended it to, and that it's having a positive effect on people's lives. Plus the financial support continually brings me closer to possibly quitting my part-time day job to work full time on Tarot and art, which is my dream. But even without that, just hearing that you've touched someone with your work is the best feeling in the world.

What role does divination play in your life?

Divination has always been a tool for self-exploration and healing for me. It helps me put my life, my thoughts, and my feelings into a framework from which I can study and understand them better. Then I can make better, more heartfelt choices of where to go or what to do next, I can find closure, I can find acceptance, all sorts of things are possible. Especially as a trauma & child abuse survivor who has been trained to dismiss their own needs & emotions, being able to check in with myself via Tarot is very affirming and has helped me rebuild a lot of self-confidence.

Divination is also part of my career now, thanks to the Numinous Tarot! So there is now a business aspect to that relationship, where I have to work to market and sell and all of those things. It also puts me into contact with other people, whether they're getting readings from me or buying my deck, and seeing how those things affect them. Between those interactions and the larger divination community I'm a part of online, it means Tarot is something that builds a lot of connection for me as well as being a personal tool.  

What is your favorite deck or divination tool?

Honestly, my deck is currently my favorite tool, haha. Reading with it is kind of like having a conversation with my ideal self. Since the cards are all literal representations of my personal experience with Tarot, and my personal interpretations of the cards, it makes them extremely easy to read with and it's rare I don't immediately understand what they're trying to tell me. Or perhaps what I'm trying to tell me! I am also really partial to the Circo Tarot by Marisa de la Peña—the colors are just gorgeous and it has a really interesting personality.

Your favorite songs?

Right now I'm really into “The Heart's Swift Foot” by Red Tail Ring, although “Civilian” by Wye Oak will always be a top fave!

 All photos courtesy of Noel. :)

All photos courtesy of Noel. :)

Your favorite word?

Umbel! Which is a type of flower structure—think carrot flowers or Queen Anne's lace.

Your least favorite word?

I really hate the word “yummy,” especially when applied to non-food things. It just makes me shudder for some reason.

What about your favorite curse word?

“Fuck” is definitely my favorite curse word, it just has such a great force to it AND can be inserted into the middle of other words for amazing emphasis.

What sound or noise do you love?

I adore the sound of a babbling stream, wind rushing through leaves, birds singing...the sound of nature in general, especially forest noises! I also really like “sparkly” and jangly sounding noises in music, they're so pleasant and uplifting.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Any sort of overlapping talking or competing noises, or loud noise in general. I have an auditory processing disorder so if there is too much background noise, or more than one person is speaking, etc., everything just turns to gibberish and I can't understand a thing! My brain can't prioritize competing noises so that and loud noises just get me really frazzled. Leaf blowers especially ought to be outlawed.

What turns you on?

Creativity, thoughtfulness, and joy are definitely at the top of that list.

What turns you off?

Cynicism, dismissiveness, and unwarranted meanness, for sure.

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If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive?

“Welcome! Please have a rest before you move on to your next life. You did a good job.”

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Book review time!  I've finished Book the Second, and have had time to catch up on my reading. Here are some short reviews of the lovelies I've just finished: The first and third books were sent to me by Red Wheel/Weiser, and the 2nd one was from my friend, Leeza. 

Tarot: Plain & Simple - Leanna Greenaway

It is what it says it is. Very simple. It's got card meanings, reversals, key points about each card and exercises for you to do. This is a beginner book. It also says it's the only tarot book you'll ever need, and I'm not sure about that bit. For a beginner, to learn the cards though? Solid.

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Tarot Reversals - Leeza Robertson

I love this book and really wish I'd had it when I was learning. This isn't just "what is it when your card is upside down". It's never ever that black and white, which is why reversals are tricky to learn. Leeza has these five different ways to interpret the cards. 

Blocked, Protection, Mirror, Shadow, Retrograde

One of the only books I've seen that has such depth in looking at reversals. Gotta pick this one up.

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Crystal Gridwork - Kiera Fogg

This book is just lovely. I found out about crystal grids because my son started making them under his bed without knowing what they were. He just said that putting the rocks there made him feel better and sleep well. That's pretty much the job of a crystal grid. It's placing your intentions into the crystals to be a battery/power grid for you. 

There is an explanation of how to use the grids, and a ton of samples of Love, Romance, Protection, Motherhood - so many different ways to use this lovely tool.