Tag Archives: books

I hate oracle decks (but not the Literary Witches)

It was the face on the box that caught my eye as I was browsing. I thought it was Charlotte Brontë. And there were wolves and hands and trailing vines…I had to find out what this was.

As it turns out, it’s not Charlotte. It’s Emily, the Wuthering Heights sister. The book that spawned multiple film adaptations and that Kate Bush song.

Any one of the Brontës would be a clear indication that this deck is not here to lead you down the primrose path with affirmations and assurances that Your Angels Love You and everything will be All Better. It promises to SAY what’s wrong, and if it delivers good news, well, you can bank on it.
The same could be said of Toni Morrison. Or…

Virginia Woolf. Agatha Christie. Sylvia Plath. Emily Dickenson. Sappho. Anaïs Nin. Flannery O’Connor. Mary Shelley. People I’ve read, people I need to read. The collection is by no means complete, but it’s a pretty damn good sampling of female authors.

There is another set of cards in the deck, “The Witches’ Materials” Little everyday things to drive the plot along, so to speak:

It’s a substantial deck with some size and weight, and it’s linen. The box is sturdy. All in all, above average quality.

by Katy Horan and Taisia Kitaiskaia. And there’s a book. You don’t need the book to read the cards, but it looks like a good book.

Get. This. Book.

I’m about to advise you to get this book. , Untold Tarot: The Lost Art of Reading Ancient Tarots But the deck in the image above isn’t an ancient Tarot. It’s a Lasenic Tarot, first published “between the Wars”, and full of Wirthy occult goodness. (From what I gather, Lasenic studied with Wirth.)

For you shoppers (and I hope you are here for something besides that!) the deck can be purchased at Pyroskin, the pouch is from Baba Studios,

Now, an occult deck by a strange and wonderful man is by all means worth study and contemplation. Lasenic certainly has my attention! (Karen Mahony once shared this gem at AT: “certainly many occultists hid everything (Madame de Thebes was killed by the Nazis, Lasenic was questioned about occultism by the gestapo and escaped – in what we now recognise as true Lasenic style – by EATING the charge papers when his interrogator left the room for a minute. The super-efficient Nazis could not cope with this and let him go – wonderful story and apparently true).”

But even the Buddha didn’t sit under the Bo Tree all his life. Sometimes we have to roll up our sleeves, put on our high boots, and wade into the poomp: the dirty dishes, the bills, the crazy lady across the street who hates your kids, the middle management guy who thinks he can grope the help, etc., etc. ad nauseam.

And that is where Untold Tarot comes in. This is the best book for reading TdM-type decks that I have come across. It’s an actual, pragmatic card reading manual. There’s a disturbing tendency in Tarot literature -old as well as new – to talk and talk but not give any useful information. You don’t see that in this book at all. There is no such mumbo jumbo going on here. It’s all useful and clear:

“The Fool shows you what you are not taking seriously, which will be the card he faces.”

There’s history, too, and it’s always interesting and relevant to reading the cards, never dry or tedious.

She separates this from GD/Crowley type reading. This has about as much in common with RWS or Thoth as Kipperkarten does.

If you feel the need to (at least temporarily) jettison elemental dignities, hermetic Qaballah, etc. and just want your Tarot to talk to you like your Lenormand does, this is the book you need.

I also want to add that even though it’s a paperback, the pages are stitched in. Better quality than I see with a lot of hardcovers! This book will stand up to years of constant referencing.

Caitlin has truly outdone herself this time, this is the pip-Tarot book I’ve been waiting for. Color me impressed! 😀

Andy’s Book: Revised & Expanded


If you read this blog at all, you’ve probably heard of Lenormand Thirty Six Cards by now. It was intended as an introductory book, though it was quite detailed – I got a lot of benefit from it, and I’d been reading Lenormand for years already. Andy did a great job of filling in the gaps left by Treppner and the handful of others who had published information in english.

Since then, he re-opened his Cabinet course for awhile, including information that wasn’t available in the first edition of the book, and paying careful attention to the areas where people were having problems and how to explain things more clearly. (There is a human tendency to misinterpret certain statements and run with it – this is what he was mainly trying to remedy, I think. The man is infinitely more patient and accommodating than I am.) All of this – the course material and the teaching approach, have been added to the original book. Certain parts have been revised. And what came of all this is a book with roughly twice the word count, yet with the fat trimmed.

This appears, for all intents and purposes, to be the definitive Lenormand book. There’s really not much else you can say about the subject, the answers to virtually all of the questions one commonly sees are answered in this book. (Andy says it’s “intermediate”, I’m curious as to what he considers “advanced” – work through this book and internalize the information, and you’ve got Lenormand nailed.) Card and suit meanings, history, attendance, proximity, exercises, combos and more.

You can get more information here: http://boroveshengra.com/2015/07/01/lenormand-thirty-six-cards-2015-edition/

Order from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Lenormand-Thirty-Six-Cards-Introduction-Petit-ebook/dp/B00JHO7X8M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1435760966

Or, if you prefer, from Createspace here: https://www.createspace.com/4913005

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.

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?



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/


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


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/

Books: Learning Lenormand


This is the first of the long-anticipated new crop of english language Lenormand books to show up, the others being Andy Boroveshengra’s, Caitlin Matthews’ and Rana George’s upcoming works.

From my interactions online, I’ve seen plenty of extreme reactions to this book and its authors, ranging from virtual worship to a kind of seething resentment verging on pure black hate. I’d like to remind everyone of how quick Marcus was to replace their miscut and/or lost-in-the-mail greenies when the Original Lenormand was first published and there were all those problems with Gamecrafter. So I’m going to look at this book on its own merits or lack thereof and I’d like to remind people that Marcus and Tali are neither Hitler, the 1%, nor your corporate overlords. 😛

So be advised that this is about the BOOK, not my assessment of the authors on a personal level. It’s neither a personal bashfest nor a rave-up, and may well end up pissing off and/or alienating everyone on both sides. Oh, well.

The first part is a historical overview, and though I’m a little surprised there was no mention of emblem books, it’s solid. I’ve seen a good deal of the historical research before via Helen Riding, however. Of course Marcus and Tali did a lot of research as well, and could have uncovered much of the same info independently, but it was Helen who wrote the Wikipedia entry on Hechtel last year, found his portrait, etc. And there’s a short list of websites at the end with some VERY glaring omissions, like AndyBC’s course and blog, and Chanah’s blog. I think the best in the field are at least as worthy of acknowledgement as that lady who created a stick people deck.

The instructional part of the book has a lot of issues. The copy I have was gifted to me by a friend. From the beginning, there are key bits marked in highlighter pen. The last highlighted bit is on page 34, where the word “teamwork” is given for Mice and she apparently threw her hands in the air. Since then, I have had several other people offer to mail me THEIR copies. To be fair, one had several extras, but the others had a single copy that they purchased, and then decided that they just didn’t want it around anymore.

For me, it all starts to run off the rails sideways at the point where the historic stuff ends and the “how to read” stuff begins. They very clearly created their own reading method based on the Lenormand deck. I know how hard it is to write on Lenormand, since people have been after me to write a book for some time now, but I can’t think of a good way to do it without appearing to plagiarize my mentors. How many ways are there to say “The Rider brings news”, after all? All of us traditional readers read very similarly. And it’s possible that all the time and money they put into research came up drier than they had hoped, since Lenormand is essentially a folk tradition.

Of course they are free to create their own method, and people are free to follow it. I just wish this had been made more clear IN THE BOOK, since I now anticipate many years of explaining very simple, basic, vital things like the Clover being “fast luck” or “small luck” in traditional Lenormand, (like finding five dollars on the sidewalk or a decent parking spot) not any “deeper meaning” like “identity” the way this book says it is. I anticipate years of online headaches trying to clear things like this up.

There’s some jargon that’s peculiar to THIS book, that will probably end up in common usage a la Steinbach’s term “charged” cards for cards that signify a person or sphere of life ANYWAY. “L-space” (a Lenormand mode of thinking as opposed to a Tarot mode), and being told to “say ‘vignette’ not ‘layout’, and ‘sibyl’ not ‘reader'”.

(BTW, please don’t refer to me as a “sibyl”. “Fortune teller”, “cartomante” or “reader” will do nicely. Thanks.)

Strangely, not long before reading this, I was reading a discussion on slang vs. jargon on an internet forum. A couple of my favorite quotes from that discussion:

“Slang is shorthand, and a tribal marker. Jargon is a willful attempt to send bad signal, masked by obfuscation.”


“”I’ve done a lot more thinking about communication. I have come up with some conclusions that seem to be almost universal, at least with respect to the United States. Results may vary in other lands. First, some definitions/de-coded statements and words:

“But” –> Ignore every word that preceded this one.

“I understand” –> I didn’t listen to a single word you said.

“I feel your pain” –> Go spread your tale of woe elsewhere.

“I have some issues with that” –> I am butthurt and I’m done listening.

There’s more, but you get the idea. Language not used to directly convey information can be assumed to mean the exact opposite of what it seems to say. Contrast it with the following:

“This fucking thing is broken” –> This fucking thing is broken.

“I love you” –> I love you.

“We had to let Harry go this week” –> Harry doesn’t work here anymore.

Notice that the difference is that the first set of statements didn’t actually convey information, and the second set did. We can form a hypothesis here, and that is that humans will give you factual information and package it in factual statements. Humans will also feed you bullshit, and will package it in words that don’t actually say anything, but sound as if they do.

All jargon, I think, is based on this principle.”– Doktor Howl

I think (or at least I sincerely hope) that the made-up terms in this book may have been intended as tribal markers – like slang – and it should be very easy to pick out people using this method by their use of certain words. But it doesn’t have that informal, slang-y feel, IT READS LIKE JARGON and so, for me, sets off the same mental alarm bells that get triggered when I’m reading a credit card agreement or stuck in a bus station hearing Bill O’Reilly rant on FOX.

Some may argue that the jargon is intended to trigger the “L-Space”, but shouldn’t that be done by the sight of the cards themselves? Simply practice with them and your mind will automatically react to them. There’s a lot of unnecessary complication in this thing. And mistakes as well, like the statement that Kipperkarten have astrological signs on them. They seem to be describing the Mystiches Kipper, a contemporary deck that deviates a great deal from the traditional images (and I’m not even sure there’s astrological signs on THAT one), not the one that Frau Kipper is said to have designed, nor the traditional variations like the Salish and the Leidingkarten.

There’s a good amount of descriptive purple prose that reads almost like hypnotic induction, “…a ship sailing calm waters in a blissful winterless paradise”, etc. It’s all there but “deep cleansing breath…in…out…” The whole thing, for me, reads like someone trying to mess with my head.

There is a faction online who state that this book is what finally made Lenormand fall into place for them. But the usual response I’ve gotten from them when I question things in the book is shilling, to wit, “BUY THE BOOK! BUY THE COURSE!” rather than any clear explanation that shows they actually DID benefit from reading it. Again, I don’t think of Marcus as Jim Jones or L. Ron Hubbard, but the behavior of a lot of the people who have latched on to this thing is disturbingly cult-like.

There’s a smattering of solid Lennie information dispersed throughout the book, but the problem is that you have to be experienced to pick it out, and if you’re experienced, you already HAVE a method. What they’ve done here is create their OWN method. I think that’s an important distinction to make.