Tarot of the Hidden Realm

OK YES. I treated myself to a new Tarot deck. I had a couple small things to get from Amazon (new SD cards for my camera, and a small gift for someone) which didn’t amount to much, so to get the free shipping now that they’ve raised the minimum to $35… well, what could I do? I might as well get something for the money as give it to them for shipping charges. I’m sure that’s what they were banking on.

I wasn’t at all sure about this one when I first ran across it online. The artwork was very pretty, but I don’t care for photographic decks, or ones where the faces are too real and recognizable, and this one consisted of portraits from what I could tell. I find them distracting. I thought I read somewhere once that many decks are purposely created with blank or very generic faces for that reason. Also decks that are just portraits with no real symbology in the artwork on the cards I find hard to read with. I need those visual cues, especially with a new unfamiliar deck with a different mythology underpinning it-for instance, Egyptian themed decks, and pretty much anything not Rider-Waite derived.

But the Tarot of the Hidden Realm is hitting all the right notes with me. Last night when I broke it open and started looking through the cards, there was an instant sense of understanding, recognition even, and the cards seemed to speak clearly to me (whether or not this was attributable to the two glasses of wine I’d had I can’t say. Note to self: recreate conditions and attempt again in scientific fashion). The artwork is very fine, and fae enough to not let the defined features distract. The colors are muted, nothing garish or bright, which is the opposite of what I’m typically drawn to. I always think I know what I want, and am often surprised by finding myself preferring something unexpected. The book is by Barbara Moore, the art is by Julia Jeffrey who seems to be a skilled portrait artist. So let’s cut to the chase and take a look at some of the cards.

XV. Shadowdance


Oh my my. The Horned One as seductive as I’ve ever seen him. I’m in love. He’s the Oak King who rules half the year, from Beltane to Yule. (I’m going on what I see, I haven’t read the book yet). He’s surrounded by oak leaves. Behind him in the sunny summer glade we see a couple, the girl (wood nymph?) lost in an ecstatic dance, and a faun (he looks like he has fur rather than pants on) in front of her who seems to be left out and is trying to get her attention.

Well, I just read what little the book has to say. It doesn’t say much, frankly. He could be the representation of Herne, Pan, Cernunnos. This is not a negative card in the way the traditional Devil card is. Paganism accepts the body and physical pleasure, with no concept of sin. Perhaps when he turns up it’s a sign that you’re working against your nature, and need to stop beating yourself up for being who and what you are. Anyway, that’s what I’m going with.

Here are a few others. The minors are not as clear as I could have hoped in some cases, and the book is some help with them. The Six of Cups, for instance, is about revisiting memories without letting them overwhelm you, especially the painful ones.

High Priestess Faery Stallion Star
Six of Cups Eight of Wands

I love that apart from the title border at the bottom they’re borderless. All in all, they’re glorious, and I’ve never felt the Fae so close. I expect I’ll be spending some time with this one.

Weekly Card – Queen of Wands

If you follow my other blog, Filling Spaces, you’ve probably already seen this. I’m just posting it here for those who don’t visit that blog.

Queen of WandsSo this week I had to go with the All Hallows Tarot by Robyn Tisch Hollister. And we have the Queen of Wands. Wands are associated with the element of Fire, and creativity. All Queens are associated with Water, so we have Water (emotion) of Fire (passion, creativity, energy). Competent, strong-willed women who do what they love. The Queens are women of power who have arrived. They’re mature, they’ve achieved both spiritual and professional growth. If you know such a woman, enjoy her company. Perhaps you see a bit of yourself in her.

This week is Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve, Samhain, Summer’s End. To the ancient Celts it was the New Year.

To those celebrating this as the New Year, a blessed Samhain to you, and all good things for the new year. The wheel turns, celebrate the harvest and a new beginning. Start a new project, pour your creativity into it. I’m about to start new novel for NaNoWriMo, so that’s where all my energy will be going for the next month.

Blessed Be!

Weekly Card – King of Cups

D. D. Syrdal:

I do these weekly card pulls on my other blog, but wanted to share this one over here as well.

Originally posted on Filling Spaces:

Art Nouveau King of CupsThis is the second time in as many days this guy has shown up. Yesterday he showed up in a 3-card spread I did for myself with the Wild Unknown deck.

All the kings are associated with fire, the cups are associated with water. So here we have fire of water. He’s a man of deep feelings, passionate emotions. I suddenly feel like I’ve encountered him. Maybe in a dream recently. I’ve had so many wildly vivid dreams recently. If only I could remember. Kings aren’t normally seen as bearers of messages, that’s usually the pages’ job. Still, there’s something nagging. It’s like I can almost hear his voice. Whatwhatwhat? Help. Protection. Clearly I’m not getting the message. Again. I expect more odd dreams now. Perhaps my Him. Perhaps my muse urging me on.

Well, I’ll puzzle out my own situation. Hopefully the King’s qualities of compassion and solicitousness…

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The Wild Unknown

Here is an extraordinary deck I’ve had my eye on for some time but was unable to get until recently. Drawn by artist Kim Krans, The Wild Unknown is like no other deck I’ve ever seen.

BoxIt comes in this incredibly sturdy box. The fit of the top is quite snug, took me a little while to coax it off to open the box. Not that I’m complaining mind you. There’s a black lift-out ribbon underneath the cards to help remove them without damaging them. I didn’t spring for the book just now, but hope to get it later. The deck comes with a single folded sheet with basic introduction to Tarot, and tiny pics of the cards on one side, and short meanings for each card on the back. I may put that into a document protector; you can only fold paper so many times before it tears. I was lucky enough to get in on the pre-order period for this latest printing and saved a few dollars, but it’s well worth the $40 it’s selling for now. I just have to pinch pennies.

Fold-out sheetThe minors are essentially pips, although there’s a little more to them as you’ll see. While the deck follows the basic Waite-Smith structure, one big difference between this deck and the RWS is there are no people depicted. The courts even are animals, rather than people.

The Wands courts are represented by snakes, Swords by owls, Cups by swans, and Pentacles by deer. The cards are mostly black and white, although some have more color than others. The pen and ink style of the drawings gives it a rustic feel and the art is quite good (not that I’m any kind of art critic but I’ve seen enough bad art on a number of Tarot decks to know what I like). The backs are a black and white woodgrain design, which fits nicely with the theme of the deck.

One thing that struck me right off is what a quiet deck this is. It’s like standing in the forest and unexpectedly sighting a deer in the clearing. There’s no conversation but you sort of know something has passed between you. I think it’s a great deck for pagans. There are a couple of slightly graphic cards so maybe not the best deck for children or people who have never been introduced to Tarot. Squeamish querents may find it a little odd (I’ve known people who were scared by the mention of Tarot) so you want to keep this one for people who have some understanding and want to take their readings to a new level. Then again, as they say, people who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

So, on to the cards:

ChariotStrengthThree of Cups

Four of SwordsSix of WandsThree of Pentacles

The scans don’t do them justice, they’re really so much more lovely in person. I’m getting really picky about the decks I choose to add to my collection these days, and I’m delighted with this one.

The Steampunk Tarot

Well, I was very naughty and splurged on a new Tarot deck. By my records it’s been nearly a year since I got a new deck so I’ve been in a drought. I all but had the shakes from ‘new deck withdrawal’. So, I fell off the wagon.

Steampunk Tarot: Wisdom from the Gods of the Machine by John and Caitlin Matthews, illustrations by Wil Kinghan, is beautiful. The cards are a good stock, not the flimsy, thin stock so many decks are coming out on, nor are they so thick you can’t shuffle them. They arrive in a lift-off box, with the two plastic wells inside to store the cards, with the companion book on top. I don’t really like that set up, I’ll have to store them in bag. Luckily I have a nice selection of bags sitting around.

Nearly all of the Majors have been renamed:

The Fool — The Apprentice
Technomancer — The Magician
Aviatrix — The High Priestess
Empress — The Empress
Emperor — The Emperor
Horologer — The Hierophant
Explorers — The Lovers
Triumph — The Chariot
Engineer — Strength
Inventor — The Hermit
Time Machine — The Wheel of Fortune
Brazen Head — Justice
Suspension Tank — The Hanged Man
Spring-heeled Jack — Death
Spirit Gauge — Temperance
Cyborg — The Devil
Stricken Tower — The Tower
Comet — The Star
Moon Voyage — The Moon
Solarium — The Sun
Regeneration Machine — Judgment
Cosmic Blueprint — The World

The suits are :

Airships (Swords), Submersibles (Cups), Engines (Wands), Leviathans (Pentacles). The Courts, which are called the Legates are Captain (King), Lady (Queen), Navigator (Knight) and Messenger (Page).

Rather like the Wheel of the Year, there’s a system of the Courts of the Four Leagues. Within the Court of VIII Engineer are the Aviatrix, the Empress, the Emperor and the Horologer, and of course the entire League of Engines; the Court of the Spirit Gauge is comprised of the Explorers, Triumph, the Inventor, and the Time Machine, and the League of Submseribles, and so on.

The system seems designed to show the connections between cards and also “Complementary Opposites”: Aviatrix and the Comet, showing the principles of the Spiritual Path and Destiny, respectively.

Each card gets a couple pages in the book, and a “Steampunk Wisdom” at the bottom, encouraging thought and reflection. It’s all black & white. For a small book there’s a lot to think about. I like this new trend, which I’ve seen in a couple other decks (the Tarot of Vampyres, the Wizards’ Tarot and Wildwood Tarot, for instance) of creating a system with the cards, beyond simply listing suggested meanings.

And oh, the cards are wonderful. There are a couple that are a little ‘off’ (the woman’s head on the Engineer card is turned a little too far around for a human being for one, and some of the minors have figures that have little detail, which makes them stand out against some of the other cards which are richly drawn and layered. Minor quibbles, I suppose. So on to the cards:




The Moon Voyage card reminds me of Georges Méliès 1902 movie, “A Trip to the Moon”. 

This is a fun deck that I think will repay time spent with it.

I Just Don’t Know

I’ve sort of been in the throes of a bit of an existential crisis for some time now. I’ve had the  feeling of being completely disconnected from all of humanity. It’s a puzzling situation. Even in those moments when I want to reach out to help someone, I still feel like an alien from an alternate universe. There’s this sense that nothing in my life has anything in common with anyone else’s life. Not true of course. I realize I’m an Earth native, but there’s this sense that that was something of a mistake (why do I feel like Douglas Adams is behind this?). Maybe it’s just a symptom of spending so much time alone. Apart from work, I see no one, do nothing really. I did finally get out on my bicycle today for some much needed and long overdue exercise. But as always, alone.

I pulled this card last night, the Queen of Bows from the Wild Wood Tarot.

Queen of Bows - HareBows are Fire, and according Mark Ryan and John Matthews (authors of the book) this is the Time of Bows on the Wheel of the Year, moving from Beltane through Midsummer to Lammas. The Queen of Bows is in the segment moving to Midsummer, precisely where we are now. Each suit begins with a quote. I particularly like this one:

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” — William Jennings Bryan

‘Cause Bows (Wands) are about creativity and inspiration, not waiting on Destiny to deal your hand. Get fired up and get out there.

I love the image, with the Full Moon shining in the night sky. At least I think it’s the moon? Looks like a cloudy sky with the moon. I will think of it as the moon, since the book doesn’t say.

What the book does say, is this:

“A companion through life, sympathetic and understanding, leading you to a deeper awareness of what is needed to bring success to your every enterprise. Wise and witty, gentle and kindly, the Queen supports you and strengthens your resolve.”

At a time when I’m feeling this Great Disconnect, the Tarot is telling me this is not so. Somewhere, somehow, someone is there. Another spirit guide, a daemon? I haven’t gotten any impressions of anyone new. Maybe she’s been there all along, waiting for me notice her. Maybe the time wasn’t right. I’ll have to see about contacting this one.

Time for Another Beach Trip?

So this evening I find myself in a fairly foul mood, like I’m just about at the breaking point and want to pull my head into my shell like a turtle and ignore the whole world. I don’t know what triggered it this time, but I’m not in a good place tonight. Naturally I grabbed one of my Tarot decks (aka, security blankies). I get very cranky if I don’t have time to spend with my cards. I started shuffling, and lo and behold I got a jumper. I normally pay no mind to them, just stick them back in and keep shuffling until I feel I’m ready, but some respected Tarot friends have told me they always pay attention to jumpers. So ok, I turned it over. I shit you not, this is what I got:


Not to put TOO fine a point on it, eh? :::shaking my head::: Seriously, you can’t make this up, nor apparently do you have to.

Anyway, I pulled two more cards, just off the top of the deck after I shuffled a little more. Hooooo-boy, think this message could be any clearer?

King of Cups  Nine of CupsAs I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always drawn strength from the ocean, just being at the beach. And look, sea turtles. I love sea turtles. Those beautiful blues and greens and all that lovely water swirling, and pretty golden fishies.

Driving home tonight I just wanted so badly to just withdraw from everything, cut myself off from the world. I’d like to live in that pretty world the King of Cups and the merman in the Nine of Cups live in. Why does reality have to be so ugly and awful?