New deck!

Alexander Daniloff
Alexander Daniloff

I have just received in the post the full set of cards by Alexander Daniloff and boy, are they beautiful! I had been longing for them for a few months and as I found with a bit of extra money at the end of last month, I decided to treat myself.

Apologies for the poor quality of the image, but I’ve taken the photo with the only camera I’ve got: the one in my mobile phone and it’s not ideal; I should invest in a proper camera! Anyway, if you want to have a better look, go to his page: www.daniloff-art.it and have a look. You can purchase the whole deck or just the Major Arcana.

I’ve made a selection of the ones I liked more at first glance: Herakles in the 7 of wands; the amazing Chariot; the ever-so-sweet Wheel of Fortune…

I particularly love his take on the 8 of wands: all those weapons, each with a different point, make me think of how we have to use different approaches to crack a particularly difficult goal.

As you can see, it follows the classical Rider-Waite design in some of the Minor Arcana, but I don’t see that as something negative. The artist’s graphic language is so personal that he succeeds in making them new and different; plus it makes them quickly understandable. My favourite suit in this deck are the Swords.

My only issue is that they are so beautiful that I don’t want to shuffle them; I feel like my hands are paws and I’m going to damage them, as if they are flowers or a new-born baby.

Once I’m over being lovesick, I’m going to ask them something, I don’t know what yet. Although, now that I see the cards I picked up again, they may be telling me something already! What do you reckon?

10 of wands – Stretching out too thin

Gran Tarot Esotérico, Marseille, Barbara Walker, Balbi
Gran Tarot Esotérico, Marseille, Barbara Walker, Balbi

I’ve taken a day off work to catch up with my uni homework and I feel a bit tired. So I’ve decided to change the card I was going to talk about today, the 9 of wands, for the 10 of wands, as I feel outflanked by life in general and by this homework in particular.

While the 9’s are more about getting there, you’ve worked your way up the minor arcana scale, enjoying the ride, happy that you are moving on; the 10’s are a different matter: the terminus and end. When you’ve gone full circle and accomplished your tasks or when a relationship breaks down. Depending on the cards that appear along the 10’s in a spread, they can even potentially indicate serious illness.

So, do pay attention if many 10’s turn up in your spread, that means that the end of the current cycle is nigh and you are going to get what you saw, whether it’s positive or negative. The Major Arcana marked with the 10th is the Wheel of Fortune, which reinforces the idea of change and impermanence of our toil, although I find its message more positive and uplifting that the one conveyed by the Minor 10’s, which is quite dramatic and final.

Let’s go into to the general meaning of the 10 of wands. First of all, it’s a funny card within the Wands suit. The Wands, all fiery and energetic, full of life and stamina, are symbols of our inner creativity to fight obstacles, while this one is all about tiredness, of being at the limit of our physical endurance and forced to live under someone else’s rules*.

  • Among the cards shown in the picture, the one in the far left is from “El Gran Tarot Esotérico”, a friend of mine found out that I’d been looking for it for some time and decided to send it to me. Thanks for that! I’ll make a review of it next week. I like the fact that the artist has drawn the 10 wands interleaved as a circle, very neat.
  •  Balbi and Marseilles have the same geometry: 2 vertical in the centre and the other 8 pointing to the centre in a star-like pattern. Balbi feels more about being under attack from all directions while the central interweave of the Marseille is like a solid weight over our shoulders that we just can’t take off.
  • The Barbara Walker one shows the fall of Lucifer, the Morningstar, after his rebellion against God (We all know how the story goes**). It focuses in injustice, abuse of power and a sense of powerlessness. And, sometimes, of stubbornness and refusal to acknowledge that the battle is lost.

So, a few points for when the 10 of wands turns up in a spread:

  • Ask yourself in which side of the tyranny or oppression you are: are you the oppressor or the oppressed?
  • Remember that this situation won’t last forever and try to come to terms with it.
  • It’s also a not so subtle nudge to take more care of our health, as we are feeling overworked. So a bit of meditation and trying to take things easy wouldn’t go amiss. One of the simplest tips to accomplish that is to go to bed earlier than usual. If that’s not possible, meditation is the key to a happy life (I can vouch for its effects); it can be done anywhere and you only need a few minutes.

That’s all for today, folks. Please let me know if this has been useful.

* Just a normal day at the office 😉

** I must recommend, if you are interested in this story to obviously read “Paradise Lost” (I haven’t yet… I know, I’m not proud of it either), but also the collection of comic-books, created as a spin-off of the hugely successful series of The Sandman, called Lucifer Morningstar. A tremendously fun read!

The Secret Dakini Oracle – review and musings on how to create your own oracle

Dancing Durga
Dancing Durga

I recently purchased The Secret Dakini Oracle, the book and the cards. Being honest, I didn’t know a lot about dakinis or Durga, whose fierce image appears on the cover, but I felt somehow intrigued by it, so I went ahead, made a bid and crossed my fingers hoping I’d be lucky enough to win it. You know how this ended up, don’t you? 😉 After all, I chose the name of this blog because No 28 “Cosmic Carrot” made me laugh the first time I heard about it.

This copy was originally released in 1977. The cards were printed by AGMueller. I wasn’t familiar with this card maker as my all decks have been from other makers so far, I must say that they are of outstanding quality more than 30 years on. This copy hadn’t been used much by their previous owner, fact that explains their mint condition. They have really vivid  colours and a lovely satin feel. I’m afraid I’m going to give them a worse life that they had before; I plan to use them for meditation and self-guidance quite often!

I was expecting that they were going to portray fierce goddesses or even abstract symbols of the many sides of femininity, but what I got was completely different. I was a bit disappointed to be honest at the beginning.

The artwork consist on collages of different things: the head of a snake between two mirror apples, a dark unicorn resting on a tree, Lord Ganesh on a throne made of jeweled spider webs… This technique seems to have been the flavour du jour during the 70’s, but somehow it doesn’t make the deck feel dated in the slightest. I found these whimsical and sometimes random mixture of pictures quite inspiring.

In fact, making collages has been used by artists in order to nurture their creativity or as a release of their inner demons. A very dear friend of mine, who was following The Artist’s Way method and got a bit bored with the Morning Pages, decided to create one of them a day during several months and she reported that revisiting her earlier work did wonders to kick-start her creativity when it was flagging. Let’s not forget that tarot readers and artists are closer that it’s usually assumed, we both think in images.

Example using the Celtic Cross
Example using the Celtic Cross

I did a reading for the husband, who had never had a reading done and surprisingly volunteered as guinea pig for the experiment**, and I wasn’t following the descriptions on the book to deliver the reading but they were surprisingly spot on. In fact, he said that I was just making things up as I went along, so I ended up handing over the book to him so he could read how the author had described each card. You can see what was going on in his life on the picture! I won’t go into depths apart from the fact that they provided a pretty accurate description of the question while also delivering a profound spiritual message.

They are 64 cards in total, the  first 22 follow more or less the Major Arcana and the rest are inspired by the elements of the Minor Arcana: fire, water, earth and air. And it made me think that I may create my own oracle one day: like a magpie, taking inspiration on different things.

My first card would be “Important message” and it would be from that scene in the Bible where king Belshazzar is having a banquet and a mysterious hands writes on the wall: “MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN” There you go, Rembrandt had thought of it before me. The passage in Dan 5:6, in case anyone is interested.

As always, plenty of information about dakinis in wikipedia. Although a visit to your local library to pick up a couple of books on Tibetan buddhism would be great as well. That’s my plan for tomorrow, anyway!

*A quite interesting link on collage, art, copyright and fair usage : What is fair use?

**I think the delightful Milky Way picture on the back of the cards won him over, these science-loving guys, huh?