The Deviant Moon Tarot has surreal, very unique, and sometimes disturbing moonlit artwork. It’s inspired by (and incorporates) images of cemeteries and mental asylums, and designed to illuminate deeper parts of the subconscious. The talented illustrator is also a tarot student, and the deck is the result of three years of artistic work.
Some find the Deviant Moon Fool menacing but as I watch him dancing I find myself recalling time spent in Venice, drawn to all the Venetian masks, mannequins and puppets.
In his richly illustrated book Patrick Valenza says that the Fool “begins his journey with a delirious dance. With maniacal laughter he heads out into the unknown still clothed in his sleepwear”.
There is certainly a dreamlike quality about this character and his bizarre appearance makes me hesitant to approach him.
However, I am mesmerized by his invitation to abandon all inhibitions, take the plunge and create my own unique path. Having said this, it feels like I have been taking leaps of faith ever since I walked away from my former life and reinvented myself in the town I moved to. It feels like I am getting a bit old to be letting go of more inhibitions.
Perhaps it is old age that makes me more cautious about the motives of this Fool.Rather than take the plunge on a whim, I pause to read what Valenza has to say about his Fool and decide to tackle a spread to help me determine how a date with this fellow might turn out.
The initial energy of the Seven of Swords confirms my suspicion that I may be taking an incredible risk to engage with this Fool, however briefly. The presence of swords pierced in the ground imply that this Harlequin performers act has not only, not been a raging success, but that the performer has risked life and limb in his endeavor to perform a unique act. Add the Death card and I cannot deny that I seriously question the advisability of hanging about for long.
The truth is I am not much of a risk taker. I have been known to crumple at almost any height and recall clinging like a leech to the wall of a lighthouse that my late husband insisted we climb. He never gave credence to my fear and thought it was something I should get over. However I let him climb the arduous steps at the Vatican and capture the view of Rome all by himself. While he was gone I sat in St Peter’s Square taking in the passing parade.
What about addressing the difficult topic over tea and biscuits? If tea’s not your drink, do a little online search for alternatives. Lots of cultures have versions of hot beverages to try. Try them! Go on a tea/coffee break adventure and create space for sharing.
I invited the very youthful Anna K Fool to take a moment, before leaping off that cliff face, to have a cup of my tiny tea. Despite being in a hurry to go wherever she was going she agreed to take a few moments to talk to me.
As we sipped tea, and ate some of the Christmas shortbread, I remarked that my daily life has come to feel like a rubber band, that despite wanting to start afresh, I slip back into old ways of doing and being.
“This is not how it has to be! Your spirit is every bit as young as mine” proffered the Fool.
I all but choked on my tea and spluttered as I considered this. The saying that we are only as young as we feel went through the replay screen in my brain and I conceded that she might just be a very old soul in a young body.
“What about I lay down a couple of cards” suggested the Fool. “I am sure there will be a message for you”.
We contemplated the cards together. I suggested that I might position myself at the top of the wheel and dance joyfully like the figure shown there.
“Rather than hanging on to an established pattern of thinking about the ending before you begin” said the Fool “what about you focus on climbing up from the hub? The project you have so publicly been talking about will not materialize overnight. It will quite literally take a significant amount of time to wrangle. It will be awhile before you can really celebrate.”
With that the Fool drained her cup, put her swag back over her shoulder and leapt into some new world leaving me to ponder whether, at my age, after having responded so often to the call, if I have the energy to do it again.
Consider what might happen if you:
For more than 25 years Noriko Morishita studied and practised the intricate ceremonies of the famous Way of Tea, attempting to learn its complexities and achieve a perfection of movement and mood that few can master. In The Wisdom of Tea Noriko describes her gradual discovery of freedom and insight within the very rules that once seemed so constricting. Looking back across her life, Noriko illuminates the real teachings of the Way of Tea: to live absolutely in the moment, to notice and delight in the smallest of details, to embrace the vital skills of patience and perseverance, and to allow yourself to be.
made tea and sat chatting with one of the Major Arcana
added tea to a meeting with a client,
poured a cup of tea and brought it to a disheartened friend,
set up a tea service for an imaginary friend on your back deck.
bought yourself a child’s tea service and made tea for the nature spirits in your garden
called in and had tea with an isolated elderly or disabled person and encouraged them to share stories about their life.
The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it. Julia Cameron The Artists Way
If you are unfamiliar with Julia Cameron’s Artist Date idea then simply click the link to learn more about how she suggests that you court and romance your artistic spirit.
But when I introduce Artist Dates—“I want you to do something that intrigues or enchants you for an hour or two weekly. In other words, I want you to play”—arms cross defiantly. What good could “play” possibly do? We understand working on our creativity. We don’t realize that the phrase “the play of ideas” is actually a prescription: play, and you will get ideas.
The thing is that most folk who work with Tarot and Oracle decks KNOW that cards just love to go on adventures and feel the love, the companionship and friendship. Cards are hardy creatures who benefit from being out of their box, having a good time. Personally, I find that my decks are very responsive to coming out with me and my faithful canine companion.
I like to take them out for brunch and for outings in the bush. I love laying cards on stones, in bush fire pits, up close and personal with trees, in labyrinths, on old railway tracks, near abandoned houses and on grave sites in historic cemeteries. It is my experience that the cards love translating messages from seemingly inanimate objects and sentient beings.
Most people don’t have any problem with seeing compassion as a thoroughly commendable quality. It seems to refer to an amalgam of unquestionably good qualities: kindness, mercy, tenderness, benevolence, understanding, empathy, sympathy, and fellow-feeling, along with an impulse to help other living creatures, human or animal, in distress.
But we seem less sure about self-compassion. For many, it carries the whiff of all those other bad “self” terms: self-pity, self-serving, self-indulgent, self-centered, just plain selfish. Even many generations removed from our culture’s Puritan origins, we still seem to believe that if we aren’t blaming and punishing ourselves for something, we risk moral complacency, runaway egotism, and the sin of false pride. Read article by Kristen Neff
Jen’s Science to Soul Tarot and Transformation initiated a seven day YouTube challenge this year. Having run a seven day Gratitude Challenge she invited participants to engage in another 7 day program.
You will find her initial video and the responses under the tag #SelfCompassionwithTarot.
I doff my hat to Jen because my years of experience working with creatives has demonstrated how shit we all are at being compassionate and supportive towards ourselves. The internet is awash with sad stories about the damage wreaked by the inner critic who sabotages any attempts to be compassionate.
Sites like Mindfulness Org provide free material and provide great support for those wandering down this path to learn what we could have been taught at school. On the page I have linked to Mindfulness Org they say that
“This practice is a way to help remind ourselves to apply the three core components of self-compassion—mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness— when difficulties arise in our lives. It also harnesses the power of soothing touch to help us feel safe and cared for. It’s important to find language that is effective for you personally—you don’t want to have an internal argument about whether the words make sense. For example, some people prefer the word struggle to the word suffering, or prefer the word support or protect to the word kindness. Try out a few different variations and then practice what works for you”.
So how can we use our Tarot or Oracle Cards to practice some Self Compassion?
One way is to take the lead from Brian Cormack Carr, who created a spread based on the work of Kristin Neff. He presented this helpful Self-Compassion Tarot Spread on one of his videos. I found the link and this image on Tarot Whimsy who used Carnival at the End of the World for the first six cards, and Antique Anatomy Tarot: Ephemera Edition for the last two cards.
Watch Jen’s video, choose a deck and pull one card each night, reflect on the card during the following day and keep a journal or Instagram record using both her hashtag and #yuleadventure2021
Pull a card! Share a bit of self loathing with the figure and dialogue as they respond to you over the subsequent hours. A scene I loved in the final episode of Season 3, Succession was when Kendell confesses and his siblings. Shiv and Roman, who have never shown a shred of kindness throughout the three series, actually show some authentic compassion. So even the Devil may have some reassuring words for you.
Now it is candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, woven textiles, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts, and a warm fireplace. Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective, verb, or compound noun, like hyggebukser, otherwise known as that shlubby pair of pants you would never wear in public but secretly treasure. Hygge can be found in a bakery and in the dry heat of a sauna in winter, surrounded by your naked neighbors. It’s wholesome and nourishing, like porridge; Danish doctors recommend “tea and hygge” as a cure for the common cold. It’s possible to hygge alone, wrapped in a flannel blanket with a cup of tea, but the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.
Of course it is easy to get carried away with this Hygge thing. It is a bit like Catnip to those selling socks and all the other items associated with Hygge! Everyone has such brilliant suggestions about how to get into the mood. For example, Moody Moons offers some ideas about how to Hygge like a Witch.
The bottom line is that Hygge is all about self nurturing and it is no state secret that many of us are not so good at caring for ourselves.
This post is all about ‘the deck’ that is the one you will turn to when you need to self soothe.
So pull out the comfie socks, set yourself up by the fire place, toast some marshmallows and Chill It with your most soothing decks.
Try doing a Self Love Spread – there are tons of these to be found on Pinterest.
The deck I will turn to is a recent acquisition. It is Into the Lonely Woods by Lucy Cavendish and Dan May. But others that always offers comfort are The Arboridium and the Oracle Deck I created using images from fantasy magazines and second hand children’s books.
Over to You
What is your reliable self soothing deck, the deck you turn to when you need to be comforted or cheered up? Share photos of your deck and your Hygge space.
If you don’t have the right Hygge deck get out the craft supplies and spend quiet time making one for yourself
2 : someone or something that provides strength and support He is the family’s anchor. anchor. verb. anchored; anchoring. Kids Definition of anchor (Entry 2 of 2)
anchor something to fix something firmly in position so that it cannot move Make sure the table is securely anchored. [transitive, usually passive] anchor somebody/something (in/to something) to firmly base something on something else Her novels are anchored in everyday experience.
a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay.
Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist from the 20th century, was the first person to bring the application of archetypes into modern psychology. Jung noticed that people and life situations are marked by primary patterns reflected in symbols, images, and themes common to all cultures and all times. We see archetypes as recurring images in art, literature, myths, and dreams. Mother, Father, Home, Stranger, Betrayal, Anger, Love — these are all archetypes expressed in characters, stories, images, and symbols in all cultures and all times, and, these are all universal experiences in human life.
Identifying which archetypes are influential in our lives can thus lead us to self-discovery, self-awareness, growth, and self-actualization. Consciously choosing the right archetype for each chapter in our life story can create a more fulfilling, successful life, where we use our archetypes instead of being controlled by them.
Reasons to work with archetypes
Finding greater fulfillment and meaning in life
Improving personal, family, community, and workplace relationships
Expanding abilities, perspectives, and options
Helping people to escape habitual archetypal patterns that have become limiting ruts rather than empowering paths
Enabling people to be actively engaged in charting the course of their journeys
Aside from checking out the archetypes in the Tarot there are specific decks which help us work with these aspects of self. Two decks that come to mind are the Archeo by Nick Bantock and the Archetype Cards by Carolyn Myss. These are a fantastic resource for personal reflection or for working with characters if you are writing or making art.
Nick Bantock provides a number of spreads and ideas for working with Archetypes. Here is just one of those.
Another way to work with Archetypes is to ask a Show Me Deck what one needs to consider. My extension deck which includes Shadow Cards called on me to work with a ‘bad trait’. Now I don’t happen to believe any trait is completely bad and so it was no surprise when the ‘Eccentric’ emerged. It is not bad to be eccentric but it can alienate us from others.
So I decided to explore a simple Past, Present, Future spread using my most eccentric deck and low and behold its all there to show me how ingrained this archetype is.
In 2018 I did a ‘Danse with the Macabre’ when I visited Sedlec Ossuary (aka Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus). It was one of the highlights of my week long stay in the Czech Republic.
“Known to most as “the Bone Church,” it displays some of the world’s more macabre art. In addition to a splendid bone chandelier composed of almost every bone in a human body, the ossuary displays two large bone chalices, four baroque bone candelabras, six enormous bone pyramids, two bone monstrances (a vessel used to display the Eucharistic host), a family crest in (you guessed it) bone, and skull candle holders. Festively looping chains of bone are hung throughout like crepe paper at a birthday party.”
In the Danse Macabre, or Dance of Death, skeletons escort living humans to their graves in a lively waltz. Kings, knights, and commoners alike join in, conveying that regardless of status, wealth, or accomplishments in life, death comes for everyone. At a time when outbreaks of the Black Death and seemingly endless battles between France and England in the Hundred Years’ War left thousands of people dead, macabre images like the Dance of Death were a way to confront the ever-present prospect of mortality.
Though a few earlier examples exist in literature, the first known visual Dance of Death comes from around 1424. It was a large fresco painted in the open arcade of the charnel house in Paris’s Cemetery of the Holy Innocents. Stretched across a long section of wall and visible from the open courtyard of the cemetery, the fresco depicted human figures (all male) accompanied by cavorting skeletons in a long procession. A verse inscribed on the wall below each of the living figures explained the person’s station in life, arranged in order of social status from pope and emperor to shepherd and farmer. Clothing and accessories, like the pope’s cross-shaped staff and robes, or the farmer’s hoe and simple tunic, also helped identify each person.
The Death card is one of the most feared and misunderstood cards. Spread by movies trying to sensationalize drama and abused by the occasional unscrupulous reader, the Death Card strikes fear into the heart of anyone who doesn’t understand it. The Death card frightens many people, for they think it means that they, or someone they love, is going to die — although when they hear it signals great change, they can become frightened of that, too, even if they need it.
Rather than fear the Death Card embrace it by taking a deck of cards and visiting a cemetery like the one I visited in my region.
I stopped at the headstone, erected for Pte Alfred Frederick and contemplated the impact of his death at just 20 years of age, the utter waste of war. All around me was evidence of change, which is actually what the Death Card is all about.
Over to you
Lay out some Death Cards and meditate on the message
Consider taking the opportunity to ‘Danse Macabre’ by visiting a cemetery with a deck of cards and doing this spread.
So you’ve decided you love Tarot and Oracle, but you can’t quite find a deck that resonates with you. Or perhaps you’ve found some that are okay, but you really want to tap into your creative spirit and make a custom deck of your own.
Creating your own set of cards lets you understand what each card means and how you can interpret it during readings.
Can you do it? Of course you can. The most challenging part is finding the images.
Many people have made Tarot cards throughout the course of the centuries. You can purchase blank ones in a set, already cut and sized for you, and create your own artwork to go on them. Or you can print them out on photo paper or card stock and cut them yourself.
Years ago I facilitated a group who exchanged Trading Cards and I have a lovely box filled with ones that were sent to me.
During a 2020 lock down I made a set of my own Oracle cards. I had an incomplete deck I had picked up in a Charity store and I repurposed this card stock using images from old fantasy art magazines that I had. Because I am using the imagery of artists whose work was featured in those magazines, I make it very clear that this deck is strictly for my personal use.
It was more challenging to draw the 78 cards for Bonnie’s Skool of Tarot but it certainly helped me learn more about the meaning of each card.
Bonding with your tarot deck is a great practice you can use, along with cleansing your cards, to attune to your new, or old, deck’s vibe for more powerful and accurate readings.Search online and you will find plenty of suggestions about how to connect with your deck. Here is just another fun suggestion.
One way to build up your connection with Tarot decks is to use the suits and court cards to tell spontaneous stories.
There are many advantages of using the storytelling process to connect with your Tarot cards.
You really get into the picture of the cards and observe the details of the imagery.
You can really internalize each and every aspect of the card’s pictures.
You can get creative and let your imagination run wild while writing the story.
its an opportunity to let imagination and Intuition mix really well together
Lay out a full suit from your Tarot deck and choose one of the Court Cards to take the role of primary protagonist.
Set a timer for twenty minutes and just write.
Here is an example of a tale, written in twenty minutes, using the Cosmic Tarot for inspiration.
After having been through a trying time, having emerged from a sustained period of loss and grief, Sonia, a young Princess in the House of Cups, visited a local Gypsy tarot reader. The Gypsy told Sonia that her cup was actually overflowing with potential and suggested that she might try to find delight in life by observing simple things. She told the Princess that this would sweeten her life and open her up to positive experiences.
Sonia took the Gypsies advice to heart and began to take more notice of her environment. In no time she began to see the world of the palace in a different light. She watched her mother, Queen Isobella working tirelessly in the Court gardens. Sonia decided that instead of sitting by her window, waiting for yet another, disappointing, entitled, narcissist prince to come, she would take her art supplies and slip into the Enchanted wood that she had loved as a child.
As the days passed her demeanor transformed and her parents and brother noted her flushed cheeks and the transformation that had taken place. Sonia suggested that it was all due to the fresh air and her passion for her artistic endeavours. What she did not reveal, over the formal evening dinners, was that while she was in the woods she had met a very handsome huntsman and that each day she was making sure to set up her easel where he would find her.
Dressed as a maiden, the huntsman was oblivious to her true identity. He began to court her, finding small gifts to give her each day. Gradually she filled her box of wonder with delightful fragments, stones, gum nuts, flowers, feathers and crystals. Each piece had a story to tell and the fairy folk of the woods unashamedly supported their affair and shielded their passionate love making from prying eyes.
Alas, one day, courtiers, at the behest of the King, followed her and witnessed her meeting and walking off with the huntsman. After Sonia had returned to the court, flushed after her encounter, the courtiers returned to the woods and revealed Sonia’s identity to the huntsman. They threatened him and made him understand that he best make himself scarce for he was not eligible to marry her.
The huntsman, knowing their lives were in danger disappeared and Sonia fell into despair when he failed to meet their rendezvous. In desperation she went back to the Gypsy, seeking more advice.
The Gypsy, upon seeing the empty cups in the spread, pointed instead to the ten of cups and reassured Sonia that happiness could still be hers.
Being a determined young woman Sonia sought help from the Fae folk and was taken to the Huntsman’s cottage deep within the woods. They talked for hours, imagining the life they could share if she was prepared to relinquish her royal life and live with him in this idyllic woodland setting.
He was shattered when she made it clear that this was not possible, that her family, the courtiers would literally hunt them down and kill him for his insolence.
It seemed that all was lost until her mother, with a group of her Ladies in Waiting appeared before them. The Queen recognized the huntsman as the youngest son of her brother, the King of the House of Swords. King Eric had sent the lad into the woods to learn about life, to learn to honour all living things and he had been gone so long he had quite forgotten who he was.
Needless to say, sensing that Sonia was already with child, Queen Isobella wholeheartedly blessed the union, even although they were cousins.
To celebrate their marriage Sonia commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of herself. Everyone was taken aback when they saw that she had posed naked in the woods, surrounded by Fae folk and overflowing cups to celebrate that her cup runneth over – at least for now.
All Tarot and Oracle Deck collectors will have at least a couple of decks that they have disconnected from. Yule is the time when many people reconnect with friends and family. If we think of a deck as a person who we have a relationship with it might just be time to reconnect. It may sound slightly crazy but you can take the time to hold the deck and explain why you’ve been out of touch. You might briefly describe what has been going on with you if you must explain your disappearance, but don’t put yourself down. No mea culpa about how bad or shameful you are. Just reconnect — don’t try and solve all the relationship issues of the past.
Engaging in the challenges that appear in the Instagram Community is a great way to reconnect, build a relationship with your deck and develop your tarot reading skills all at the same time. There are a vast number of challenges to choose from and most can be done at your own pace.
Two that have caught my eye this month are Deckember 21, which encourages participants to showcase their favourite Majors and Inner Landscape of the Dark which provides a way to mine your inner landscape.
Personally I love to work with Josephine Hardiman’s Challenges. She consistently posts thought provoking work which you commit to doing every second day. Her latest is the Goodbye to 2021, which is very appropriate for December.
Over to You
The Lions Gateway Tarot is a beautiful Indi deck which I ordered in 2020 before the cost of postage spiraled out of control. I was very excited to get it but it has languished as, like a Wattle Bird I have taken off the feed on what has appeared to be juicier nectar.
I am not in to making New Year resolutions but I am prepared to adopt a different view with the decks I have in my collection and commit to building a closer relationship with them.
Identify a deck you are prepared to reconnect with and spend some time completing a challenge with this one deck.