Tag Archives: cartomancy

Getting To Know The Belline

The photo above is the Oracle Belline, laid out in a spread recommended by Andy Boroveshengra: “Draw one card for yourself, or the client. Then draw two for their personal life (relationships, home life, friendships), two for their projects (work, hobbies, et cetera) and two for their health. Silvestre includes this draw in her book (Le Grand Livre des Jeux de Cartes et de Tarots) but replaces health with finances.”

The following is an experimental reading – I’m not a Belline adept at this point in time, obviously. I haven’t attempted reflection, etc. in this spread as I’m keeping things very simple for now. But it might be fun to come back to this later and see how the interpretations compare to how things played out.

The first thing I noticed is that there are two Saturn cards – ack!

For myself, I got 52, Cloister. Spot on, I haven’t been in the mood to seek out company, preferring to putter around the house. I get enough – too much, really – of people at my job. Give me a closed door, my dog, an internet connection, and an air conditioner, and it’s All Good.

For Personal Life, I got 45, The Seer’s Star/Happiness, and 51, The Wheel in the Rut. Things are jammed, but not necessarily in a bad way. My Taurean self is quite contented with that. I’m in a comfortable rut. Things do change, though, so when the inevitable eventually comes to pass, I need to prepare myself to roll with the punches.

For Projects, I got 5, Success, and 18, Change. My first thought was that success was “changing”, i.e., things will get worse. Both cards, however, are considered positive. There may be a new opportunity around the corner. Or not. I’m noting it here and will wait and see how it plays out.

For Health, I got 30, the Amphora/Table, and 34, Despotism/The Bound One. 34 is about invitations – it looks like a simple warning not to overindulge in food and drink if I do happen to go out. There may also be a caution against overwork here, especially with two Saturn cards showing up. My job is very Saturnine. So: moderation, etc.

Another interpretation is that I might feel like I have to go someplace I don’t want to be. So, again, waiting to see how it all plays out.

That crazy Mitelli!

Lately I’ve been getting into decks that don’t have massive crowds of people swarming all over them. The Belline (though it’s quite popular in France), Sibilla decks (though I fear they may be the Next Big Thing), a return visit to the Grand Jeu, and the 1690 Gioco del Passo Tempo (Game of the Passage of Time) by G.M. Mitelli, published my Il Meneghello.

Like so many great reading decks (Tarot, Lenormand, playing cards….), it started as a gaming deck. There are forty cards, with various vices and virtues. Some of the cards are similar to Italian Sibilla: Superbia is accompanied by a peacock, there’s a Gelosia card, Fedelta (with a dog, of course), Allegrezza, Fortuna, Falsita, and Malinconia. So this thing is very likely to be historically significant.

Here is a list of the cards, with rough translations:

1 Turco – Turk, Ottoman
2 Mangia Bene – Eat Well
3 Superbia – Pride
4 Danno – Damage, Harm, Loss
5 Furore – Rage
6 Malinconia – Melancholy
7 Ignoranza – Ignorance
8 Curiosita – Curiousity
9 Arpia – Harpy
10 Falsita D’Amore – False Love
11 Invidia – Envy
12 Inganno – Deceit, Hoax
13 Interesse – Interest, concern
14 Fortuna – Fortuna
15 Allegrezza – Joyfulness
16 Gelosia – Jealousy
17 Bugia – Lie
18 Adulazione – Flattery
19 Incostanza – Inconstancy, Fickleness
10 GAME INSTRUCTIONS
21 Silenzio – Hush, Keep Quiet
22 Industria – Industry, Trade
23 Contento – Contentment
24 Vigilanza – Vigilance, Supervision, Surveillance, Lookout
25 Valore – Value, Gallantry, Merit
26 Scoltura – Sculpture
27 Ingegno – Ingenuity, Brain
28 Ragione – Reason, Motive
29 Astrologia – Astrology
30 Prontiza – Readiness, Quickness
31 Concordia – Accord, Agreement
32 Realta -Reality, Fact
33 Pittura – Picture, Depiction
34 Fedelta – Fidelity, Loyalty
35 Musica – Music
36 Sollecitudine – Solicitude, Concern, Kindness
37 Cortesia – Courtesy
38 Afabilita – Affability, Kindness
39 Virtu – Virtue
40 Il Tempo Passa – Time Passes

You may have noticed that No. 20 is “game instructions” – and that is correct. If you purchase this deck, don’t assume that card 20 is missing – it’s not. It just goes in the middle of the deck for some reason as yet unknown to me.

The cards are uncoated, with a textured, linen-type finish. Not something that will stand up to heavy use and constant riffling, but they do feel wonderful. The images are somewhat like those in emblem books.

All in all, it won’t totally replace your heavy-use decks, but it’s a wonderful thing to keep on your reading table.

Pure Context Practice: The Cinderella Deck

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This is The Cinderella Deck from Kristen at Over the Moon Oracle Cards. The images are from The Wonderful Story of Cinderella: Rhymed and Retold, published in 1921. It consists of 29 cards printed on sturdy stock, and it’s exactly what it looks like: it follows Cinderella from her spot in the ashes by the fireside to her wedding to the Prince. I’ll let Kristen tell you a little more about it:

Now, the thing is, everybody knows the story of Cinderella well enough to use this deck. Between all the children’s books, movies, and cartoons, you probably had it down pat when you were four or so, at least the popular version that this deck follows. (The original Grimm’s version, Aschenputtel, gets quite a bit stranger – Cinderella does necromancy at her mom’s grave, and the stepsisters get their eyes pecked out. Gotta love the Grimm brothers.)

The beauty of this is that it is ONLY the Cinderella story on cards that you can randomize, it’s not force-fitted to Tarot, Lenormand, or anything else. But I think it would be very beneficial to anyone who is trying to learn ANY system and having trouble putting things in context, the people who say things like “I asked about money and all I got was love cards”, “Sometimes I ask the cards about one thing and they start talking about something totally different”, etc. With the Cinderella deck, the Prince is ANY goal, be it a man, a job, a new pair of shoes, or losing 20 pounds before summer. Since you know the story already, there are really no meanings to learn, (although you can download the LWB from Kristen’s Freebies folder), it just forces you to flex your context muscles. If you are new to reading cards, I’d suggest getting this deck along with whichever deck you intend to learn. If you teach card reading, the Cinderella Deck would make a great course module or presentation. And if you don’t need any of that, it’s still irresistible – who doesn’t love 20’s art?

And yes – it reads true and clearly.

The Cinderella Deck is available here. You can even order a matching pouch.

Get Yourself Sane

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One can’t be an effective reader while putting on an act.

And by “act”, I don’t mean dressing all boho. I mean being FAKE.

If memory serves, it was the Scots who called prognostication “the tongue that cannot lie” – even if it means being burnt in a spiked tar barrel, as was said to be the fate of the Brahan Seer. Whether this actually happened or not is debatable, but the point is that while there are a lot of liars out there calling themselves “readers”, real readers are not bullshitters. We learn to read cards, you pay us to read cards, we tell you what the cards say.

There are certain psych disorders that interfere with one’s effectiveness as a reader, and a big one I want to talk about here is the Martyr Complex. You’ve all run into them: those pagans who are always screeching about the evil Christians and “never again the burning times!”, those rubber room feminists who accuse every male who answers a simple question of “mansplaining” and paint all men as “the patriarchy”, or worse, “rapists”.

I run into these types often. Here is one who apparently collected over $27,000 from 374 backers and didn’t produce the goods, and is now attention whoring all over facebook and playing the victim. All the while blaming everyone but herself and libeling at least one friend of mine that I know of, which I don’t take kindly to.

This person is not a reader. This person is a fake. Don’t be this person. Study, practice, and above all – Be Real.

That is all.

Fin de Siécle: High Honor

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It has come to my attention that there is some confusion regarding the High Honors card in Ciro Marchetti’s Fin de Siécle. Some people seem to think that it’s a battle scene, and that the meaning is changed from No. 25 Zu hohen Ehren kommen (“Come to high honors”) in the Original Kipperkarten.

It isn’t. It’s exactly the same thing. This is made clear in the companion PDF, but I know that not everyone reads that before doing an unboxing video, and that it’s currently only available in english, which isn’t everyone’s first language. But there are clues on the card itself.

Let’s look a little more closely. The Original shows a humble little house in the foreground, with a castle on a hill in the background, the implication being that someone has risen from humble beginnings and achieved wealth and power. Kind of a Gatsby card, hopefully without the organized crime. Of course it seldom means you’re going to be THAT rich. It’s a card of recognition, promotion, achievement, and career advancement.

Now let’s look at Ciro’s version:

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The soldiers are in spotless dress uniform.
The cannons are lined up perfectly.
Everything is orderly.
This is ceremonial.
This is a gun salute.

Combat is chaos. Soldiers are generally hunkered down firing, or running. They’re dirty and disheveled. There is a hellish atmosphere that isn’t present on the card.

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Now, would you say that the card looks like the photos above? Or does it look more like this Royal Gun Salute at Hyde Park?

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Here is a wikipedia entry on the 21-gun salute in the UK, the setting for this deck (though the wikipedia entry talks about our own times, not late Victorian/Edwardian, it’s an old tradition). You can see that it’s usually done for Royals. The “people in the castle” shown on No. 25 from the Original Kipperkarten. If you feel like looking over the whole article, you’ll see that it’s done in many parts of the world. In most countries, it’s similar. It’s generally reserved for royals, high officials, and heads of state.

A lot of you may have seen a gun salute firsthand. If you’ve ever gone to a veteran’s funeral, you’ve probably seen rifles fired graveside. In the US, this is a three-volley salute. My dad got that for his service in WWII. It’s not 21 shots with cannons, but it’s still an honor.

So this card is showing cannons fired to honor someone of very high rank. A high honor, and still a card of recognition, promotion, achievement, and career advancement.

A castle on a hill, a 21-gun salute. Two ways of saying the same thing.

Do take time to read the PDF if you can. (And not just because I got to contribute. It’s seriously helpful.) And, because I haven’t ended a blog post with a song in awhile, I leave you this 21-gun salute for the rest of us. 😀

Holiday card pull, 2015

Giordano Berti's Sibyl of the Heart

Giordano Berti’s Sibyl of the Heart

Greetings, and happy whatever-you-may-or-may-not-be-celebrating! LOL. I pulled a few cards for the coming week, and I wanted to share it here, as it looks pretty universal.

I used Giordano Berti’s The Sibyl of the Heart. I mentioned it in my last post – it’s taken from an old Rosicrucian text, and it uses emblems. Emblem books are one of the roots of Lenormand, Sibilla, and “Gypsy” type decks. Many have symbols in common with the Tarot as well. The interpretations vary, but they’re well worth any cartomancer’s perusal since they give you a sense of the old european mindset that these cards came out of.

The first card is No. 8, Balance. The heart is balanced precariously on the point of a pyramid-like structure. There is a rod through it, with a bell on each end. The slightest movement will set those bells to ringing.

The next card is No. 15, Temptation. A winged heart this time, with a demon in hot pursuit. Pretty self-explanatory.

And the last card is No. 1, Preparation. Hands emerge from a cloud and slide the heart into a brick oven.

Now, if Balance wasn’t there, I would say that these cards were a caution to walk a chalk line and be very careful. But with Balance there, I think they are simply saying not to overdo. Spend, but not too much. Eat, drink, but not too much. The Temptation will be there, but I should keep some money and energy in Preparation for the next phase. Something important may be coming up afterwards. Listen for those bells (Balance), don’t ignore them.

This deck is always reads very clearly. It tends to advise rather than just give a straight prediction, but the advice is in the cards, not just imagination telling you what you want to hear. I would like to know more about them (the background images, the buildings and landscapes, all of these surely have a lot of weight as well. I’d like to learn about them in the historical and alchemical context.)

It’s an heirloom quality deck and it comes with a booklet by our own Odete Lopes (Madame Sheyla). The cards come in a sparkly red bag, smelling faintly of aromatic resin incense, and the whole thing is done up in a box made to look like a very old-fashioned book, that ties with a red ribbon. Just superb. You can see a bit more on this video, there is a study group here, and it’s available for purchase here (clicking the “Buy It” button opens a page that gives you the appropriate email contact to use according to the country you live in.)

Deck Review: Black Hand Lenormand

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Who is Shelley Barnes?
Was she in Andy’s course under a screen name? Or has she been outside the online community quietly soaking up books – the good ones, Andy’s, Rana’s, and Caitlyn’s?

I’m asking because she seems to know what she’s doing. This is actually a great little deck.

The art is wonderful. The tuckbox reminds me of title cards on silent movies – the kind of thing you’d see with Lon Chaney Sr. or early Clara Bow. The whole thing seems to have a 20’s-through-Noir feel, possibly the most modern feature of the deck is the Bettie Page bangs on the Lady.

But good art doesn’t often translate to a good reading deck, the reason being that the artist lets their vision override reading conventions and practical concerns. This is the part of the reason I stick with antique reproductions as a rule, (the other reason is godawful bad art) and tune out 99.999% of the new Lenormands that are constantly coming out. Lots of competent artists have made unreadable pretties. Not Shelley.

Does this deck have aberrations? A few, yes, but no more that you see in some of the old decks that have things like two scythes on the Scythe card. And in no way do they make the deck unworkable. Let’s have a look at them:

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The mouse appears to be dead or sleeping. Well, if you’re killing mice, it’s because they’ve infested. Or maybe he’s just taking a nap after he gorged on your food. Either way, it’s still loss. And very clearly a mouse. The Tree is a palm tree. Still a tree, still recognizable, same meaning. The Clover is encased in a glass pendant with a chain, but it still pops out at you right away. The Park has a statue of a naked woman predominating, but you can see the pedestal, you know it’s not the Lady. It’s a statue. Statues are in Parks and Gardens. The Cross is more symmetrical than usual, a little less churchy – so what? And the Tower, rather than an old structure guarding a border from invaders, is more modern. It reminds me of that famous shot in Baby Face, where the camera pans up the Gotham Trust tower to indicate that Barbara Stanwyck is screwing her way to the top, lol. OK, that has nothing to do with the card meaning. But I like it and it’s a readable Tower card, you can tell what it is right away.

Another oddity is that the playing card 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s have been added. Would I shuffle the whole thing together and do a Lenormand/playing card reading? No, because Lenormand is based on Alemannic cartomancy, it’s a different system. Doing things like that will throw the whole thing off balance by giving you more than one card that means the same thing, or something very similar.

But I would shuffle it all together and do a playing card reading, ignoring the Lenormand symbols.

I would also use it as a gaming deck. (The Jokers double as extra Man and Woman cards. I don’t use those, since Rider and Snake are the Male and Female lover cards, but I won’t be storing these Jokers away to lie in state in the “extra Man and Woman card box”. since I enjoy playing games with wild cards.) So you have three uses in one – Lenormand, playing cards for reading, and playing cards for gaming. And it’s a mini. Keep it in your purse or pocket for spur of the moment readings, and quick poker hands to see who pays for lunch.

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I went ahead and ordered the deck with the palmistry card, because it just looks cool. I really, really like the way this woman draws, I’m even keeping the business card. I’m going to find a little frame for the hand. It has meanings printed on the back, some perfectly sound, some a little sketchy. But all in all, if you don’t want to use this deck’s version of the “LWB”, just do like me and frame the hand. Or get the deck alone. Or the deck and the pendulum.

Everything else is perfectly traditional. Check this out:

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Clearly split Crossroads with both a wide and a narrow branch. (Has she been watching Malkiel Rouven Dietrich’s videos? 😀 ) Male Rider, blowing his horn and clearly hurrying along to announce something important. Two hectic, chattering birds.

And this:

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“The Snake biting the Fox’s tail.” Maybe she doesn’t know about that particular reading convention and it’s just a happy accident, but I wonder… 🙂

You can order the Black Hand HERE, (for not very much money! The price is surprisingly low.) It will arrive quickly, in a well-padded envelope with doodley things on it in Shelley’s own hand. And yes, it’s good linen stock and shuffles easily.

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This is such a great deck. It may start a trend where people include playing cards to make 52 card Lenormands, but that’s missing the point entirely. It’s a great deck because it’s a good, readable Lenormand, and because it’ll make you feel like Joan Blondell on the midway in Nightmare Alley*. Can’t beat that!

*Nightmare Alley (1947) is a film adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s novel of the same name. In the book, there are 22 chapters, each named for a Tarot Major. There is also a graphic novel adaptation of the novel that was produced in 2012 by the great underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez.
It’s a fantastic story, and not to be missed.