Tag Archives: crafts

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.

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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/

Two Easy Oracles

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CROWSTONES

Crowstones have been around for about six years. For a long time, I passed on them – I didn’t dislike them, they just weren’t a priority. They seemed simplistic, and I was immersed in the complexity of the Lenormand Grand Tableau, the Grand Jeu Lenormand, and about a half dozen other things. But every now and then I’d come across praise from one respected reader or another. Everyone loves their accuracy, so last summer I took the plunge. Yes – they’re quite accurate, and very easy to use. The biggest difficulty I had was amending the rhyme in my head from “One is for sorrow, two is for mirth…” to “One is a message, two is for mirth…”, etc. Once you’ve got the rhyme, you’re all set.

They’re hand painted on your choice of colored glass (Robyn paints everything, she’s always creating decks and oracles, and a glance at her facebook page shows she’s painted her entire reading tent. So don’t sit still too long around her, she might paint you. 😀 ) I don’t know what the process is, but she’s done something with them so the paint doesn’t chip – I use mine often and they’re still like new. So yes, they’re a “don’t miss” item, very affordable, and as of right now (December, 2013) they’re on sale – so click the “Add to cart” button! http://tarotgoodies.webs.com/apps/webstore/

templemoonblocks

JIAOBEI

Jiaobei blocks aren’t well known here, but they seem to be common in Asia. They’re paired wooden blocks in the shape of almost-half moons, commonly used in temples. Their use is a bit ritualized, but that seems to help with the accuracy of these yes/no-type oracles – otherwise, you might as well toss a coin.

Traditionally, they first should be purified by circling the incense burner three times. Kneel while clasping the blocks together in your hands. They then state your name, date of birth, where you live, and your question. After giving all the necessary details, pray for guidance with the jiaobei raised to the forehead, after which the blocks will be dropped on the floor.

The answers are produced by the pattern of the jiaobei’s landing:

If the jiaobei land with one round side up and one flat side up, that represents balance, the Tao – it’s a ‘yes’.

If they both land on the flat sides (rounded sides up), it’s a ‘no’. By falling flat on the floor, it is said that the gods are showing their displeasure or anger with the question posed. It’s not necessarily ‘no’ forever, but you need to wait for some time before posing the question again.

If they both land on the round sides, flat sides up, sometimes it’s referred to as an “angry answer”. It’s said that your question annoys the gods. But if they land like that and they’re rocking (and I’ve never known them not to rock), it’s a “laughing answer” – the rocking motion symbolizes a show of laughter. IOW, the gods are laughing because 1) The question is not clear enough 2) The divine reply is not sincerely sought as the questioner has already decided what to do 3) The questioner knows the time is not ripe for the matter posed and yet still wants to seek divine direction.The question posed is therefore considered irrelevant, or 4) The questioner already knows the answer, is just looking for reassurance, and the consultation isn’t necessary.

(Note: If there is still no clear answer after several attempts of tossing, the divination session should be terminated. For repeat consultation of this same problem, the next divination session should only be held after a lapse of some time.)

Jiaobei can be used alone, or in conjunction with fortune stick oracles like the Kuan Yin. Here is a video of a man showing his daughter how to cast the jiaobei:

If you’re handy with woodworking, jiaobei would be quite simple to make. I’m not, so I got mine here:
https://www.fengshuishopper.com/products.php?cid=&id=71

Now also available from Feng Shui Bestbuy here http://www.fengshuibestbuy.com/HH8704-deityenquiryindicator.html
and here http://www.fengshuibestbuy.com/HH8703-deityenquiryindicator.html

So You Want To Get Creative

Mesquite Oracle

Mesquite Oracle

Since this is a fortune telling blog, I’m guessing you want to make an oracle. Speaking as someone who has designed a working oracle, I’d like to offer some guidance.

1. Understand what creativity is. Let’s look at the definition of “creative”: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work. What this means is that you need an original idea. You can borrow bits here and there (look at the similarities of Lenormand, Gypsy Witch and Whitman cards – they share some images, but not all, and the interpretations can be quite different) but the oracle itself should be original. What this means is CREATE something, don’t put out yet another ill-conceived Lenormand with glaring mistakes like a female Rider. (When the Rider is read as a person, he’s always male.) Making a dysfunctional version of something that already exists isn’t “creating” anything.

2. Work backwards. This is what I did with the Mesquite Oracles I was making back in 2008. I sat and made a list of things that impacted peoples’ lives, common things like getting paid, traveling, endings, and friends. Some things I split into more than one symbol – I made separate symbols for love and attraction. But I thought of the meanings FIRST, which was a lot easier than creating symbols and then assigning meanings to them.

3. Take your time. Don’t rush. Make a proto-set and experiment with it for a few weeks. You’ll find yourself dropping symbols and adding new ones. Test for accuracy and ease of reading, and refine accordingly.

4. Choose your medium. A good rule of thumb is for less than 30 or so symbols, a casting oracle is good. Wood, glass, stone, metal, whatever you like to work with. More than 30 symbols calls for cards.

5. Write instructions. This can be as simple as an explanation of meanings, or quite elaborate, complete with spreads and sample readings. Just make sure the instructions are clear.

6. Set your prices. Be sure to factor in your overhead, including shipping and packing materials, and your time. My Mesquite Oracle was cheap to make, but labor intensive and time consuming since each symbol was individually drawn and burned into the wood, all by hand. Most people understood this, but a few complained that the price was too high. I just pointed out that it took several full days to complete a set, and that I wasn’t even clearing minimum wage. (You won’t get rich doing this, consider it a labor of love and a little pin money.)

7. Be available for questions. If you’ve done well, it won’t be confusing as a rule, but people still get stuck sometimes. These are your patrons, help them out.

McLennies

Fat Ronald Mcdonald

Some people aren’t going to like this, but it needs to be said:

Lenormand is lean.

Let me explain:
It’s stripped down. Each card consists of a single symbol (Rider, Clover, etc.), a playing card association and a number. That’s it. And it isn’t read pictorially, but like Kipperkarten, it’s a language with keywords for each card that you string together according to the context of the question. Some people are so purely visual that they just can’t pick this up, and if Lenormand isn’t your thing, I can respect that.

When you add to the symbols – when you add anything – it can throw the whole thing off. You’re “clogging the tubes”, the same way bad food clogs the intestines. Admittedly, I sometimes use decks with a bit of additional imagery, but I ignore it. It’s “there for looks”. And when there’s too much additional stuff, when it dominates, the deck becomes useless. Imagine trying to quickly locate a card in a Grand Tableau when the cards are crammed with imagery. I suppose some americanization is inevitable, it’s just a shame to see it happening to Lenormand. There’s a glut of such decks now, and new ones appearing almost daily. Some are attractive, if useless as Lenormands. Others look like they were done with crayons. It’s a bandwagon. Newsflash: This isn’t “innovating”. It’s broadcasting the fact that the deck creator is a noob, no more.

It’s been said by many that Lenormand is like learning a language. You don’t become fluent overnight, it takes 5-7 years. Of course you’re free to make a deck that’s been “supersized” with Wicca, US holidays, power animals, gimmicks, medicine wheels, and other distortions – just don’t forget that the experienced readers are also free to criticize. There seems to be some kind of taboo against publicly criticizing this trend. It’s a Honey Boo Boo mentality, exercising the right to not learn anything and shouting it from the rooftops. But bear in mind that “freedom of expression” cuts both ways. (Some tend get their panties in a horrible knot when you criticize this stuff. There are some who will take ANY traditionalist statement as RUDE and NARROW and THE PERSON MAKING THE STATEMENT IS A MEAN OLD POOPY HEAD. LMAO. Deal with it.)

Lenormand is a very no-bullshit, to-the-point German concept and this is something to keep in mind. Some say they create these decks in order to better understand the system, but the ONLY thing that actually helps one understand is study and practice. You don’t “learn” Lenormand by drawing, or googling for public domain images. You’re reinforcing your own misconceptions when you do this. And while the deck may be “Lenormand inspired”, it’s no longer a Lenormand.

5 Minute Deck-Bag-In-A-Pinch

I’ve been using these for a few years now, generally for when I have a bunch of little things I want to keep together in a purse or gym bag, and it occurred to me that it would be great for decks, too. Maybe you have several that live in gorgeous-but-clunky boxes, but you want to take them someplace on short notice. This is just the ticket. These bags adjust to fit anything from a single small Lenormand deck to a couple of big ol’ Tarots. They stay closed until you open them, but this isn’t just decks tied up in a bandana – you don’t have to pick the knots open, just pull. No sewing required. You could even use fine material like silk if you preferred, or make a big shoulder bag from a much larger square of cloth using this same technique.

First, fold the cloth in an inside-out triangle, like so:

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Now tie a knot. Tight.

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Next, turn the whole thing right-side out:

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Now tie a single knot – not a double one! You want this one to slide open and closed.

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Now tie the ends in a tight little double knot:

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Pick it open:

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Insert deck(s):

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And pull it closed. Voila! Deck bag. 😀

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A Bag For Your Travelling Deck

This is a bag I made six or seven years ago that wears like iron. It’s more time consuming than running a bag up on a sewing machine and I don’t make them to sell because of that, but it’s really worth making for yourself. You don’t need to be good at crocheting, either. It’s all plain old double crochet all the way.

First, you’ll need a hook and some 100% cotton doily thread. You can find this pretty easily in most stores that carry knitting supplies, and it comes in lots of colors, not just the dark blue shown here or yellowed white like grandma’s doilies. If you’re really good with needlework, you can do contrasting colors, patterns, etc. I only stayed with solid dark blue because I suck at it, but it still turned out great. 😀

First, you do the gusset. Make a strip as wide as your deck is thick, plus a little extra for the joining seams. (I made this gusset double wide because sometimes I like to carry a deck of Kippers along with my Lennies.) Make it long enough to cover the bottom and sides of your deck, plus enough extra length for the drawstrings.


Then you do the front and back. Again, as big as the face of the deck, plus a little extra on the sides and bottom for where you join the pieces, and a little more extra on top for the drawstrings.

Now join it all together.

Now plait or chainstitch (your choice) a couple of drawstrings, thread them through, and knot them. You can add beads, charms, whatever you want. The moonstone on this bag is an old earring that lost its mate a long time ago.

This might be the last bag you’ll ever need! The one shown here has outlasted the first deck I kept in it. It goes in my purse everywhere and shows no signs of falling apart. It’s totally washable, too.

The Mesquite Oracle

set

This is Americana, hand made and influenced by multiple cultures. Not mass-produced, no factories, sweatshops, corporations, pollution or bar codes. Individual pictures are hand sketched and burned on mesquite, which is then rubbed well with linseed oil. No polyurethane or plastifying.  Mesquite is a lovely hardwood with an attractive reddish tinge. The mesquite tree itself thrives in the southwest and even a small tree can send a taproot as much as 175 feet into the ground to get the water it needs. I like that metaphor for doing readings.

The oracle is read very much like Lenormand, there are no meanings to study since you already have associations for images like the Sun, Stars, Mermaid, and Hand, only a brief explanation of the images is really necessary. It’s all very simple but not dumbed-down.

MIRACLE – Bodhisattva Tara’s TAM glyph. Very lucky break, deus ex machina, transcendence, mercy, compassion. Active, dynamic divine energy. This is the one that tells you things are going to be fine. (Note: I included this one because Tara’s specific function is mercy and compassion, she is said to help anyone who calls on her sincerely. In other words, it’s more specific than, say, an angel, which could simply be a messenger. This oracle is not particular to any one religion or system of belief. It should work for everyone.)

GOLDEN APPLE – Eris’s golden apple. Chaos. Stirring the pot. Pranks! The Golden Apple can be stressful, but it shakes things up and can keep a situation from becoming stagnanat. Chaos contains both order and disorder. Strife, but also creativity.

PENTAGON – A pentagon. Order.

Imposed order and chaos escalate in direct proportion to each other. A little order is good. Too much order is fascism. Well aspected: organization, neatness, etc. Ill aspected: prison, military, controlled environment.

SUN – A sun with a man’s face. I had a little trouble making such a round face look masculine and experimented with facial hair, etc., but what I finally did was to do the features like Sitting Bull’s, and it looks fine. Sun, man, active, yang, etc. The male consultant.

MOON – Moon with a woman’s face. Lunar, woman, receptive, yin, etc. The female consultant.

STAR – A star. Similar to the Lenormand Stars. Clarity, aims, guidance, wishes, very auspicious!

EYE – An eye. You are being observed with interest. Constancy, “eye of God”, watching over someone/something. Alternately, spying, stalking.

MOUTH – A mouth. Consumes. Could also indicate speech. The Mouth reverses to a kind of pout, so you can see if a situation is pleasing or not! If badly aspected, can indicate gossip especially when near the Eye.

HAND – A hand. Work, job, human endeavors, efforts, help.

HEART – Human lives, love, affection.  Pay attention to what falls close to this one! They show what is dear to your heart, and what threatens it.

MERMAID – A mermaid. Strong attraction. La Sirena! Mermaids sit on rocks and lure men to their doom, so be careful what you are attracted to. Music, flirtation, pleasure.

GHOST – A transparent lady in front of an old New England style gravestone. Things that haunt, keep coming back, won’t go away. Stalking, sometimes. Illusory things, things that are hard to prove or pin down.

SNAKE – A snake. Same as Lenormand. Detours, danger, pipes/plumbing, people or things that are snake-like.

MERCURY – A winged foot. Communication, letter, phone call, email, message, etc. Also speed.

PAYDAY – An eagle crapping dollar signs. You’ve heard the old blues songs that say, “The eagle flies on Friday”, but what I remember the old people saying was “the eagle shits“.  Money, especially money you earn.

DOG – Friend, loyalty, protection, vigilance, fidelity. Like Lenormand.

CAT – Stealth, agility, self-reliance. As Kipling wrote, “I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.” Self-serving, can be false if badly aspected.

BABY – A baby. A child, a new project, new idea, anything just beginning. A “little” of something. Responsibilities, things that require care and attention.

HARPY – A harpy. Malice. Harpies snatch things away and crap in your food. Someone who tries to make trouble out of pure spite, even take your basic sustenance.

SCISSORS – Scissors. “Cut off.” That’s it. End. Over. Separation. Like Atropos.

PITCHFORK – A pitchfork. Defense, protection, something needs to be/is being “pitched out.”

HOUSE – A house. Your actual home, its issues,  and the people who live there. Stability, security.

HIGHWAY – A highway. Travel. Change. Distance, either literal or metaphorical.

You can see some individual pieces

here and here.

23 pieces to a set, including one custom piece made to your specification.

ETA: I am not making these anymore at the present time. If I start again, I will let you guys know!