Tag Archives: decks

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.

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.

The Roots of Idiocy

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(No, not the things in the photo…read on!)

Comments are welcome, because I’m really, REALLY trying to find the root of this – so I can douse it with gasoline and enjoy the bonfire.

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you’ve seen many, many posts about learning Lenormand rather than pulling meanings out of your ass. And “new thought” vs. “new age” (AKA “sewerage”).

Now I’ve found this old thread http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=98307 (pardon me if I don’t keep up with the purple shithole – also, profound props to you, Scion, whoever you are – eloquent and well put) on AT where some are defending a book by Arrien Angeles that is purportedly an instruction on the Crowley Thoth – with the caveat that she suggests ignoring Crowley (WUT) and goes on to give made-up interpretations of the images on the cards. (Crowley’s pelican, according to this dribble-of-misapprehended-symbols-by-someone-who-couldn’t-be-bothered-to-research, is a “swan” and “the ugly duckling”, the venom is “tears of the spirit”)

Look, if you want to learn the Thoth, read Crowley. The Book of Thoth, 777, and The Book of the Law at the very least. If you still can’t make sense of it, read Duquette. But not this Angeles fuckwittery.

The same goes for anything else. Read the real stuff, not the fake stuff. Jeez.

None of this is news, it’s been all too common since the 80’s. But what broadsided me and led me to mention it here, is that this execrable Angeles book came out in the late 70’s. The shitting down the throat of Lenormand – and all things cartomantic – has a precedent going back further than I previously realized. New age BS predates the 80’s. It snuck in when I was unaware of it, blithely shuffling my battered University Press RWS with Trapeze or BOC playing in the background. A lifetime ago.

Maybe Crowley was right (and not just yanking our chains) and we’re really in for another 500 years of Dark Ages. Say what you will about him, he was still a brilliant SOB.

ETA: Further digging has shown me that apparently, the pulling-meanings-out-of-your-wazoo school of reading goes ALL THE WAY BACK TO 1969 and the publication of “The New Tarot: The Tarot for the Aquarian Age”. The premise of this dribble is that just looking at the magic pasteboard unlocks wisdom in your subconscious, and is probably what set off this whole “learning is bad!” trope. It claims any idiot’s “insights” are just as valid as Waite’s, Crowley’s, Wirth’s, or anyone else who actually learned the cards. It was allegedly channeled with a Ouija board and published along with a hideous deck.

I can only conclude that the new agers and the Pat Robertson type wacky evangelicals are two sides of the same coin and we’ve gotten ourselves back to the Dark Ages.

This is why

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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

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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.

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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. 😀

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