Category Archives: cartomancy

Resurrecting the Zauberkarten

zaub
Die Zauberkarten is a deck first published in Vienna in 1855. It’s one of the Sibilla types that overspread the Continent in the 19th century and includes Italian Sibillas, French Sibyl decks (Sibylle des Salons, Petit Cartomancien, Jeu du Destin, Livre du Destin, etc.), Petit Lenormand, Petit Oracle des Dames…all of the old decks with an image and a playing card inset. There are different systems for reading each.

The difference between these cards and the more familiar Sibillas is that the other decks were continuously, or near-continuously, published, but the Zauberkarten seem to have died out, at least as far as I can tell. Caitlin Matthews acquired an antique copy in 2013, complete with the box and book, and sent scans to Lauren Forestell, who offered them for awhile, along with a slim volume by Caitlin, at her Game of Hope site.

It has images in common with Lenormand, like the Coffin, Snake, Ship, etc., but the meanings tend to be variant. There are some images I’ve seen in other decks, like the Merit Cross and Clasped Hands – but don’t relate it to your Whitman and Gypsy Witch decks just yet – the Pig, for instance, is disreputable rather than lucky. And there are other images that I’ve not seen anyplace else, like the Lightning Struck Tree, Overridden Horse, and Man Heaving Rock Uphill.

In other words, it takes some getting used to, and I haven’t had proper time for it. But the solution to “not having time” is to make time, so I did manage a series of dailies, a couple of which I’m posting here. My object was to see how viable the method, which gives different meanings to the cards depending if they’re on the right or left, is. Did the Zauberkarten die out because of the method? Or not – did the publisher simply fold? The cards do look very readable. Let’s test drive them.

DAY 1:
zaub1Man Clenching Fist, Chains, Sun

For the Man Clenching Fist, the book gives a general meaning of “Apparent reconciliation between enemies accompanied by falsehood. Inconvenience, annoyance.” But on the left, “folly”. Chains in the middle would carry the general meaning of “Loss of freedom. Scheming.” The General meaning of the Sun is “Honor and glory. Gift” and the right-hand meanings are “Gift, winning at games. Lucky in love.”

The synthesis for the left/right meanings, if you didn’t have any context, might be something like a silly attachment to optimism, either material or romantic.
But for general meanings, being unpleasantly bound to people who have an agenda, in hopes of improvement. “Making nice”.

What happened: I’m a day sleeper, but plumbers came to the house at 8 AM. We needed them, but they’re so annoying. Three loud, filthy plumbers. Of course they made a big mess taking everything apart before they figured out that the problem was OUTSIDE – which I could have told them, since it was EVERYTHING that had suddenly clogged.

So I think “folly” applies, but the general meaning is more specific. Plumbers virtually always fib about things in order to make more money, and it WAS inconvenient and annoying. Chains fits – I couldn’t escape, either by leaving or going to sleep. The “gift” of the Sun was me finally being able to sleep after they left and I washed everything down with Clorox. Even though it was only a temporary fix – they left a big trench in the yard with a main pipe draining into it and promised to return the next day.

On this day, the general meanings win hands down. In the case of the Man Clenching Fist, the general meaning overshadowed the left hand meaning (though folly was obviously at play, too.)

DAY 2:
zaub2Coffin, Anchor, Beggar

Well, ramping down for a daily, but the general meaning for Coffin is “Carelessness, recklessness, insurmountable obstacles, misfortune, death”. And the left hand meaning is “severe illness, danger, death”. Anchor gives “Hope, friendship with a woman” for the general meaning. Beggar is “Bad business, suffering of all kinds. Changes” generally, and “embarrassments” on the right.

What happened: The plumbers came back, right on time. They didn’t have to come inside this time. I was asleep but my daughter was up. While they were working on the pipe, somebody with the city was driving by and stopped and told them the landlord needed to get a permit in order for them to do that. Work stopped.

So: carelessness and recklessness in that they didn’t finish the first day (a Sunday) when the city employees wouldn’t have been out looking for opportunities to run their idiotic $60 extortion racket. As for illness, my daughter had a little stomach bug and I was working too close to the potting (a sealant) station, so my eyes got kind of raw. (With dailies, ramp down, ramp down…) The general meaning seems a lot more relevant for the day.

The Beggar’s “Embarrassments” fits because the trench looks trashy and Third World as hell, but this is small town Texas so it blends right in, and there is probably no one within a fifty mile radius that I care to impress. But we need to stay away from it as much as possible since the cards warned of illness. I have “Hope” it will eventually get fixed and filled in. Probably over the weekend, lol. None of the interactions I had with female friends that day stand out. Again, the general meanings seem more accurate and specific than the left/right meanings, but I can’t totally discount left/right.

Tentative conclusion: Learn all the meanings. Retain left/right, but only as a secondary consideration. It adds nuance, and it’s not totally unique to this deck (you see it with the Ring in Lenormand, and card order can be viewed as essentially the same thing, or at least similar). There is no need for modernization, only perspective.

This is why

rider

A good Lenormand practice group will limit the decks you can post to things like the Blue Owl, Carta Mundi, Dondorf, Glück, Mertz, Piatnik, and other reproductions of decks first published prior to 1950. To understand why, we need look no further than the very first card: the Rider.

The Rider is a well dressed man on a spirited horse. He looks well-to-do, and he’s hurrying to deliver some news himself, instead of sending a hired man, so it’s fairly important. His period clothing tips you off that the horse is his usual mode of transportation. What better to express the meanings of news, something tangible, a vehicle, speed, an athletic young man, a male lover, feet, knees, and ligaments?

In too many contemporary decks, this gets lost. Any person riding something will do, and you see jockeys, women, cowboys, polo ponies, people on bikes – some of the meanings are always lost, and in some instances the card isn’t even recognizable. I saw a deck recently that used a child on a rocking horse – it looked like a Child card. If you’re asking people to help you with a spread, at least use readable cards. And a kid on a rocking horse isn’t coming down the road to see you. A jockey isn’t going to leave the track on a million dollar racehorse to deliver your package or tell you Auntie Edna’s gall bladder surgery went well.

“But the Rider is fine in such-and-such deck” you say. And maybe it is. But if you go through the whole deck, there’s overwhelming odds that you’ll find some hinky cards. It’s not JUST the Rider! A lot of the new decks are cray-cray all the way through. And even if they get it right (there are a few that do), imagine the fallout when “Marilyn’s Lenormand” is allowed and “Carolyn’s Lenormand” isn’t. So best to keep it to old decks by deceased artists, lol.

Are all these old decks perfect? No, they’re not. I actually have one that shows a tank of goldfish on the Fish card. And that Mice card in the Glück – where are the Mice? But on the whole, old decks are a pretty safe bet for group discussion.

On the off chance you missed this

GW

Every card in the Tacheles/Adolph Engel deck is duplicated in the Gypsy Witch. In fact, the Gypsy Witch is just a Tacheles deck with the addition of the Shepherd, Bear, Eye and Lion.

Some of the art is so similar that you can see there was some copying going on.

GW1

So if you wish you had a book about those crazy sigil decks, you probably already have one – a weird, unbound book first published over 100 years ago, no less! If you’re reading this, you’re almost certain to have a copy someplace – check the sock drawer, lol. If not, it can be purchased for about $7.

As for the sigils themselves, they’re purely for atmosphere. Like this old Myrna Loy flick. :D

ETA: Compare to Whitman meanings at Andy’s blog here: https://andyscards.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/whitman-old-gypsy-fortune-telling-cards-meanings/

Inner space: the final frontier

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Everything seems to be infested with misinformation these days, in an effort to make it more “user-friendly” (Read: “easy and dumbed down”). Much like googling “Lenormand”, the search term “scrying” will get you bunk, for the most part. And it’s a shame, really, because this subject is worthy of serious inquiry. It’s just too interesting to be left to the cranks and flakes.

Let’s look at the word “scry”: the Oxford Dictionary defines it as “Foretell the future using a crystal ball or other reflective object or surface.” This isn’t very helpful, since it leaves a lot open to interpretation (additionally, many – maybe most – of the things you see probably won’t “foretell the future”, but that’s another blog post).  It could be referring to a cold reader who uses the crystal as a prop, it could be referring to actual crystal visions, or it could be referring to something called pareidolia, a psychological term for the tendency to perceive a specific image in a random, ambiguous visual pattern. Pareidolia accounts for a lot of the stuff that comes up on google. The human brain is optimized to recognize faces, and we have a faction that views these things as Visits From The Great Beyond. The same line of “reasoning” that leads people to think that Jesus has returned on their grilled cheese sandwich:

z-jesus-in-toast
(I think it looks more like a Cocker Spaniel with something in his mouth. Or Hulk Hogan. I haven’t quite made up my mind.)

Don’t get me wrong, pareidolia is what’s used for reading wax melts and the like. There’s usually a reason that your brain interprets things a certain way, and seeing a knife in some random thing could be your instincts screaming for your attention. But that’s not what I want to keep running into when I’m looking for information on scrying. I consider it “another ball of wax”, so to speak.

If you would like to experiment with crystal visions, it’s best to go to the old sources, and/or people who are thoroughly familiar with them. While old books aren’t necessarily free of pseudoscience and misapprehended ideas, with a little common sense, you can get a pretty good working idea of what to do, and what to expect. Cat Yronwode has compiled an extremely helpful list of titles here http://www.yronwode.org/crystal-gazing-bibliography.html and it’s full of MUCH more effective search terms than “scrying”.

Many of these titles are now in the public domain, and can be had cheap or free. The authors often used pseudonyms for writing about something as shady as fortunetelling – among them were respected anthropologists, attorneys, folklorists, etc. I’m linking to a few of these books here.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/26622/26622-h/26622-h.htm
The Project Gutenberg eBook of How to Read the Crystal, by Sepharial (Dr. Walter Gorn Old). An excellent book of instructions, highly recommended.

https://archive.org/details/clairvoyanceoccu00panciala

Clairvoyance and Occult Powers by Swami Panchadasi (William Walker Atkinson). The crystal gazing chapter starts at page 105.

https://archive.org/details/crystalgazingspi00dela
Crystal-Gazing and Spiritual Clairvoyance by L. W. de Laurence

http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Gazing-Theodore-Besterman/dp/B000NP170E

Crystal Gazing by Theodore Besterman. “A Study in the History, Distribution, Theory and Practice of Scrying” from the author of Voltaire.

http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatbooks.html

(NO, I’m not on their payroll. They’re just an excellent resource, something that’s extremely rare these days.) You can find Crystal Gazing: Lessons and Instructions in Silent Influence With The Crystal  and The Crystal Silence League: Personal Lessons, Codes, and Instructions for Members, both by C. Alexander, on this page. Or just order a crystal ball or palm stone here http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatdivination.html#scrying and they’ll send you the second title free.

https://archive.org/details/cu31924028955875

Crystal gazing : its history and practice, with a discussion of the evidence for telepathic scrying
A wonderful 1905 book by Northcote W. Thomas, M.A., with an introduction by Andrew Lang. I liked this one so much that I purchased a clothbound edition from Nephilim Press https://nephilimpress.com/xstore/product.php?productid=17704&cat=0&featured=Y

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A couple of other items of interest:

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs079/1105866064134/archive/1106148339903.html
The Crystal Silence League. This is a wonderful organization that carries on the work of C. Alexander, who used the crystal to send thoughts and prayers as well receive visions. Some archived instructions for various techniques with the crystal ball, including sending and silent influence. Don’t take this wrongly because it’s a prayer group – all religions are welcome, and of course all prayers are free if you request them. Besides, the archived articles are fantastic.

http://www.lmcradionetwork.com/
“Tuesday:
The Crystal Silence League Hour with Rev. Jon Saint Germain ​Spiritual guidance on the practical use of crystals and crystal balls in the development of mental concentration and mind power, silent influence over others, divination and scrying of the future, and telepathic contact with people and spirits. 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Pacific​, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM Eastern”

Additionally, Andy Boroveshengra has mentioned that he might do some blogging on the subject this year. That’s worth watching for, so stay tuned.

On Community

"The Homecoming", Norman Rockwell, 1945

“The Homecoming”, Norman Rockwell, 1945

I often see people using the terms “Lenormand community” or “cartomancy community”, with the implication that we shouldn’t fight, we should be in solidarity, i.e., unity or agreement of feeling or action among individuals with a common interest, and mutual support within a group. Being in a community with someone doesn’t mean you have to do that. If you’ve ever had neighbors from hell, you can understand this.

And let’s look at the word “community” itself, shall we? from Merriam-Webster:

Capture

Pretty irrelevant to reading cards, isn’t it? All we have in common is cards. It’s like saying “the soap community” or “the makeup community”. Nobody says “You need to be nicer and more supportive of John Wayne Gacy, he used soap and makeup, too.”

Should we be supportive of Sylvie Steinbach just because the woman has written a crappy Lenormand book? She denies the Holocaust, FFS. Or Donnaleigh de la Rose, who equated being denied access to a facebook group to “perpetuating the Holocaust”, thereby trivializing the pointless suffering and deaths of millions? Or Christiana Gaudet, who writes hate blogs about the Roma? Why lower ourselves and give tacit endorsement to the hate by making nice with people like that?

Fuck antisemites and fuck racists. May they rot in hell.

As for the Rockwell painting at the beginning of this post, it’s a picture of what an actual community might look like. And I hope that soldier killed lots and lots of nazis.

Postcards from the Front

I'm considering a vacation. This looks like a good spot.

I’m considering a vacation. This looks like a good spot.

Greetings from historic Ratchetville, Texas. Sometimes – nay, often – I need to close the doors on our scenic soiled-panty-and-beer-can lined streets and just lose myself online. When I do this, I find some cool stuff. So I’m here to let you know I’m still among the living – time is at a premium, but I’m doing phone readings occasionally, though email is out of the question. And I’m also here today to tell you about something everybody likes: that cool stuff and where to get it.

The Mercury Key

Mercury Key from Professor Ames

Mercury Key, Professor Ames

Firstly, there’s the Mercury Key from Professor Ames. You can read about it here: http://skullboneemporium.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/the-mercury-key/ and if you contact him, you can arrange for him to make one for you. It gets its name from the dimes – old “Mercury” dimes (actually Liberty in a winged hat, which I take to mean “free thought”, but the folk associations of Mercury with these dimes are ubiquitous.) You can read it according to geomancy, or alternately, a simple “strong yes/probable yes/probable no/strong no”. It reminds me a little bit of those Ifa divining chains – it alludes to several traditions, but it’s a new thing, Ames invented it. So it doesn’t come with a reading tradition like Lenormand, you’re free to experiment some. (And props to Ames and everyone who INVENTS an oracle – I’ve said enough here about the difference between that, and those awful Lenormand retreads. Googling images of a man, woman, tree, etc. and giving them a horrible color scheme is NOT “creativity”.) I suppose in a pinch, you could even disregard one of the four dimes and use it for I Ching, though I haven’t done that. You could take the direction the key points into account, in some contexts. And the bonus is that these are all leap year dimes, and therefore super lucky. Four leap year dimes and an old iron key – the Lenormand Key, the Master Key…so many positive associations. Dab it with a little Van Van and keep it draped on a lucky statue or image when you’re not carrying or using it.

From a 1910 theatrical poster advertising an appearance by C. Alexander

From a 1910 theatrical poster advertising an appearance by C. Alexander

Crystal Balls

In the late 90’s, you could google “scrying” and nothing came up. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. As of tonight, I got 1,310,000 results. But Sturgeon’s Revelation (commonly cited as “90% of everything is crap”) definitely applies here.

Let’s look at the word itself – dictionary definitions are generally along the lines of seeing visions in/telling the future with a crystal ball or other reflective surface. But new age marketing has expanded it to include, well – anything you look at that looks like something else to you. Jesus on a tortilla, clouds that look like kitties, that stain on the bathroom wall at work that looks like Ron Jeremy – all “scrying”, according to the “anyone can do this!” folks. Well, maybe anyone CAN do that, but what’s the point?

Consider the old texts on crystal gazing. It’s said that both those and the new age are influenced by the New Thought movement. The difference is that the old texts say something like “Practice self-discipline, be discriminating in what you eat, take plenty of outdoor exercise and cultivate a positive attitude, and you will greatly improve your chances of success.” The new age stuff says “Just see yourself getting what you want, and you will!”

New age rhetoric is a lot like those “Lose weight without diet or exercise!” ads, isn’t it?

The old texts are not without issues, at least one of them would have you carving your table up with Enochian symbols. And there was plagiarism in those days, too. There’s a good bit of conjecture and pseudoscience presented as absolute fact, as well. But for the most part, for the purpose of learning to actually see crystal visions, they’ll give you good, solid, practical advice. There’s a list of them here, compiled by Cat Yronwode, and several of these are in the public domain and can be downloaded at no cost from sites like Project Gutenberg: http://www.yronwode.org/crystal-gazing-bibliography.html

While we’re on the subject, Miss Cat also sells crystal balls on her site. A three-inch clear glass crystal is perfect (it’s large enough not to strain the eyes, without being so big that it’s hard to block the reflections, or too heavy to hold in your hands, and there’s no inclusions to distract you) and you can get one here for $20 (yes, you read that right!) But they have all kinds, all sizes. http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatdivination.html#scrying And they come with their own little boxes and stands.

0920093256
My newest crystal resting in its snazzy red box, on top of two C. Alexander booklets.

Not only that, but you get a free membership in the Crystal Silence League for the year http://www.crystalsilenceleague.org/
and a copy “Personal Lessons, Codes, and Instructions for Members of The Crystal Silence League” by C. Alexander. The book is published by Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, and Lucky Mojo distributes it free when you buy any crystal ball of any size from them. It’s not a Lucky Mojo publication. Lucky Mojo acts as a distributor, including the book with sales of crystal balls, and underwrites the cost of the book, as a service to the church.

Best deal ever, isn’t it?

AND LENORMAND NEWS, OF COURSE

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I’ve been considering getting Carrie Paris’s Lenormand Lodestones (actually magnets, not lodestones)- these would be useful as a kind of secret code to put on the refrigerator and other metallic surfaces (ex: “Birds – Woman – Moon: call me this evening”) The possibilities for sneaky hijinx are endless! http://carrieparis.com/shop/lenormand-lodestones/

Capture

Karla Souza has a very unique deck called the Esmeralda Lenormand – while I don’t use the chakras and elements, it does have proper hints and memory joggers as to the card meanings down in the bottom corners, so it’s great for beginners. I know Karla, she’s a good reader. At some point, I mean to give this one its own blog post, but in the meantime, you can get it here: http://www.sensoriall.com/#!shop/c1tc8

Example_copy

And of course, Lauren Forestell continues to make quality reproductions, and more great decks are always showing up on her site. Check out the four jokers on the mini Alte Deutsch! And she’s got a Brepols now – it’s like a Carta Mundi, but with restored color, gorgeous backs, better stock and no verses. http://gameofhopelenormand.bigcartel.com/

Petit Lenormand’s Confusing History

Stella aka "fennario":

Research, with citations.

Originally posted on Andy Boroveshengra's Blog:

The following was cut from my forthcoming Grand Tableau course (29 Sept 2014) and might interest some.

Das Spiel der Hofnung

On her death, in 1895, Lady Charlotte Schreiber [1] bequeathed her large collection of fans and playing-cards to the British Museum. Included within this substantial collection was a set of cards named Das Spiel der Hofnung (The Game of Hope).

Johann Kaspar Hechtel [2] conceived the Das Spiel der Hofnung as a parlour came. The thirty-six cards were laid out in four rows of nines, and the players would throw a dice, paying forfeits for landing on unfavourable positions, in the hope of finishing before their fellow competitors. Each of the thirty-six cards featured Germanic and French playing-card inserts and a central symbol, which are conceptually identical in both emblem and order to the latter ‘Petit Lenormand’ decks.

Within the instructions, Hetchel noted that the game could be used…

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