If you give monsters a deck...

...apparently they get really demanding. I finally have the money to buy some things I've been wanting for some time. One of them was the Flowers From the Dead oracle deck, which I've been wanting for communicating with my monsters for quite some time. As soon as it arrived, the day before yesterday, within minutes of me having the deck in my hands, they became far more vocal -- and demanding -- than they have ever been. Each of them (or group of them) needed their own signifying card from the deck, so I could tell who was speaking. Then they started clamoring for a shrine. With bones and masks. And that dead tree decorative thing from the top of the book case. Which needs a noose. And so accordingly, I ordered a couple of small lots of cruelty-free bones off Etsy, and a set of Astragaloi off Ebay (half of which will go to my Toys set, and half to the Monsters), and started talking to my maskmaker friend about a monster mask. Today I went to Goodwill and found not only a small table to be their shrine, but a glass-fronted wall cabinet of precisely the kind I'm always looking for. (I think this will belong to the Purple Thread. They need to be up off the ground.) Score! I have black velvet for the altar cloth, and the dead tree, and some goat foot bones to start with, and the deck and a book to record oracles in, and the rest will come along as they can. Later: Well, what I have for now is set up. I'll post a picture eventually, but probably not until I have a mask....

#createthisoracledeck

Over at Little Red Tarot, I found this post with a challenge to create one oracle deck card per day from March 1-March 30 to make a unique new deck, and to post the pictures of the cards every day. Wow, I thought, what a great idea. I've been playing with a lot of ideas for oracle decks, mostly ones that play to my strengths. But what the hell, I'll throw that out the window for this project, and instead use it to get me both drawing and blogging again. I immediately decided that I wanted to do one that was half black ink on white cards and half white ink on black cards, and to use imagery out of the Starry Bull tradition. At first I was going to include the Toys of Dionysos in the cards, but really, they're their own oracle, all by themselves. This will be something else. Well, yesterday I didn't have the card stock, but I drew an idea in my little sketchbook: As ever, not good art, but whatever, it's got me drawing. Today I went and bought some card stock, but before I could trim it to the size I want (quite small) or do any drawing, the migraine I had earlier in the week came back, and now I have to sit in the dark while I wait for pills to kick in. But I hope I can get a couple more done, and Snake redrawn on a card, tomorrow or Sunday. This project may take me rather longer than March, especially given that I have finals this month, but I would like to get a 30-card deck made, just for myself, to prove to myself that I can. And now I need to go lie down. Ow....

Nietzschemanteion in the New Year

Some friends of mine have created the Nietzschemanteion, a bibliomantic oracle based on the works of Friedrich Nietzsche. I was given a hardcopy of it, an attractive little booklet. For those unfamiliar with bibliomancy, there are (at least) two kinds. One is to take a text, usually sacred, let it fall open at a random place and plonk your finger down without looking. The section to land on it your answer. But the Starry Bull tradition likes a different kind, that's actually a hybrid with astragalomancy. You build a collection of quotes from a text or body of work, assign each a set of three numbers running 1-6 (or whatever your favorite dice run), and then roll a set of three dice to get your answer. You typically choose 3-5 quotes in this way. I've never read any Nietzsche before. Too busy, and honestly I'm not big on philosophy. Or even poetry. But the fragments in this oracle are fascinating and... educational... about his work. Many of them are from his letters, I think, personal ones in which he talks much of Dionysos, because the god is often mentioned. (Late in his life, affected by mental illness, Nietzsche became quite obsessed with Dionysos, even signing his letters with the name.) It was designed as an oracle for communication with Dionysos and his Dead, but has developed a personality of its own. Rather a sassy one, at that. I did some readings for people on one of my online communities on New Year's Eve and Day, and it's been fun and interesting. The more I work with it, the more I like it. So here's a reading for the next year of this blog: 5-5-4 Excess revealed itself as truth. 5-6-1 concealed things after which the name Dionysos was added as one more question mark. 2-6-5 of a crisis like no other before on earth 4-6-5 What am I saying? 1-5-6 something never before experienced struggles for utterance The first three build to a complete sentence, the fourth asks a rhetorical question, and the fifth answers it and sums up. "Excess revealed itself as truth and concealed things after which the name Dionysos was added as one more question mark of a crisis like no other before on earth. What am I saying? Something never before experienced struggles for utterance." A time of great trouble is coming. Dionysos makes it a question, not an answer, which means there is a chance to turn it around. Bacchism (because excess can be a kind of Bacchism) will reveal things. New experiences will be difficult to put into words, but as this is a blog, that's the goal. It goes well with a reading Sannion gave me for the new year. 2-4-4: I had money and I had none 3-1-1: The dark one, Enterprise 5-5-4: Night is drawing near. 3-4-3: Blood is the rose of mysterious union. 2-5-1: To glory in self like a new monster I won't give his interpretation, except to say that balance, as ever, will be key....

The Tarot of the Tailors

Going through a box in my garage the other day, I found a little paper-wrapped packet labeled Tarot of the Tailors. Not immediately remembering it -- it had been in that box for at least seven years -- I stuck it in my back pocket and kept on with what I was doing. When I finished up, I pulled it out and started looking it over, and was soon happily remembering more detail about this pleasing little deck. It is, of course, not a true tarot, but a small divinatory deck intended for sewers and seamstresses. The creators are Marie Cooley, corsetier extroindinaire, and her husband Payne Fifield, who are the models for Countess Marie and Master Payne in the epic gaslamp fantasy mad science web comic Girl Genius.* I've been yearning for one of Marie's corsets for years now, and picked these up when I thought that goal was permanently out of reach. It's still pretty much out of reach, but at least I have these. Only 22 cards, but beautifully illustrated in a black-and-white Victorian style, with cards like The Machine, The Missing Button, The Impossible Pattern, The Period Shoe, and The Perfect Trim. While intended as a divinitory device for sewing projects, it can certainly be applied to others. Physical, single-thing projects, mostly, I imagine. The creation of one object or a small set of objects made together, rather than an ongoing project like a business. I ran them through Little Red Tarot's interview spread for fun. Here's what I got: Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic? The Period shoe. Balance in all things, especially of comfort and style. Practicality. What are your strengths as a deck? The Impossible Pattern. The concept and planning stage of a project. Temper creativity with common sense. What are your limits as a deck? The Curious Implement. "No matter how good the machine is, it is your skill that makes it work." What are you here to teach me? The Ornamental Spouse reversed. Relationships. Beware of looks being more important than substance. How can I best learn and collaborate with you? The Retractable Tape reversed. Beware! Measure twice, cut once. Measure three times, even. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship? The Heirloom Reticule reversed. The booklet calls this "Possibly the most important card in the pack." Warnings of money troubles related to projects that become to expensive. It can give me the heads-up. All in all, a practical deck as well as a lovely one. As I play with them, I love more and more the concept of a small oracle deck that has only one purpose: to tell you about a very narrow thing, and give you quite specific advice about it. The Tarot of the Tailors can be found on Marie's patterns page or ordered from her directly at marie@fittingroomcorsets.com. They're $15 each, with a special on now of buy one, get one free, to give away to that friend who needs it and doesn't know it! *If you haven't read it you absolutely must. The entire many-year run is available both online for free and in beautiful trade paperback editions, plus there text novels and audiobooks. Go. Go go go go go go go. Come back when you come up for air....

Excellent Things

The mail has been very kind to me the past couple of days. First, the Earthbound Oracle deck arrived. I'd wanted to get a tarot deck with my pocket money this month, but this one really called to me, and I needed something to use as an oracle for the Dead while I start to build a bone collection for casting, and probably after that as well, as a supplement or when I only need a simple answer. It's beautiful, moving, and, as the name suggests, weighty and earthy. The deck comes with no book, no explanation, but the single-word titles of the cards string together well into sentences. "The cycle of Water and Fire brings balance." And the cards are truly beautiful. That uppermost left card there is entitled "toxic", and depicts amanita mushrooms, foxglove, and nightshade berries, all toxic botanicals that nonetheless have their uses, as entheogens or medicines. It came up when I asked the Dead if this was a suitable deck, and I had a little trouble understanding it at first in that context. Then I did my morning reading with the Morgan deck, and drew Tomato, Potato, Eggplant in the same position as toxic. The text for Tomato, Potato, Eggplant reads "Macrobiotic doctrine says that these vegetables are extremely yin, almost to the point of being poisonous. However, for most people tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants mean nourishment or practical considerations involving food." It helped a lot with explaining toxic for me, in context. A warning to use the deck carefully, even while approving it for use -- those entheogens. So that is a most excellent thing. And then! Then! Even more exciting! My proof copy! It's a real thing, that I can touch and hold in my hands! And as soon as I finish checking the entire thing, I can approve it for sale and it will be a real thing that other people can touch and hold in their hands! It's absolutely gorgeous. The text was prepared for print by Dver Winter, who did a fantastic job, at a really good price, and if you want to do POD self-pubbing, you should talk to her. The wrap-around cover is a picture of an ossuary wall, with many skulls cemented in place. I love it. I'm so happy. I just keep petting it. It's so difficult to try to proof this text again, though. Hard to really see the words. Yikes....

More Charmcasting blogging

5/4/15 - May the Fourth be with you. 7:20pm Playing with chalking not only the querent-figure, but realms. Not sure yet what they all mean, but we'll get there. I need to give my figure a name for things. I think right now they're Lex. Cast: Hm. I think edges are farther out in time. Red skull rolled right off the mat, so injury and major illness are not a worry at this time. The compass is farthest out: a specific direction is a ways off. It's on the line between what I think are the mental realms on the right and the spiritual realms on the left. Only slightly closer in is the marble of clarity in the spiritual realm. Not doing a lot of focus there. Closer in is the vertebra, above Lex's head, but a way out. Perhaps Lex ought to be considering structure... No, I think I have the upper two realms backwards. Mental on Lex's own left, as they are facing me. So the marble and vertebra are mental clarity and structure, not spiritual. Close to, but not very, Lex' right hand is the work they could be doing, but apparently are not. About as close to hand on the spiritual side to the key, for secrets and revelations. At Lex's feet is the thread, the path they must walk, a practical path in the realm of the earth. It begins coiled around itself a bit, a bit that repeats a few times, bouncing back and forth between two things for a bit before breaking free into the rest of the path. Celebration, and a dream, but one that maybe cannot be immediately realized. Lex is having fun spinning off new ideas, new concepts, new projects, but will not finish most of them. That's ok. Finally picking a project to run with, Lex finds they don't have the money for it, and goes hunting for ways of getting it together. They rely primarily on themselves to do this, not entirely paying attention to advice and aid offered by others. Instead, Lex plays to their personal strengths. Below and farther out are three charms in a line: a path that Lex might choose to take, if they thing of it. Persevere through the mundane slog, follow their heart into the realm of spirits and gods, and find transformation there. The Tree floats unconnected amidst this mess, possibilities unconsidered. Time spent, from sketching to finish, 45min. Notes to self: Find heavier/less rolly things for skull, compass, marble. MAKE PEOPLE FIGURES. Add a targeting loop. 9:00pm Found a bit of red yarn, tied it in a loop. Targeting loop! Actually, that might be a Warning Loop, and I might add purple for the Pay Attention Loop instead. Decided to add a moonflower vine seed, for stretching and growth. Started making shrinky-drink people pieces. Whee! I forgot how much fun it is to do shrinky-dinks. Note to self: sharpies work really well. 10:37pm Shrinky-dink people (and spirit) came out well! They look like they're doing some sort of primeval safety dance or something. But they look like they're having fun! Had to swap something things around. The red and purple circles turned out to be too grabby. Have a much smoother blue yarn, and might add a red back in as well. New pieces: Five people pieces, seed for growth, wings for a message or messenger, circle for attention. Casting really works best when I'm sitting on the floor with the mat in from of me. I get the best spread that way. Rather than move my butt off the couch and away from the computer for the moment, though, I have a big coffee-table book in my lap with the mat on it. Here's what I've got. Very tight grouping, the problem with sitting too close. Basically everything is happening at once. Lex is thinking about an earth person, strong and solid and reliable, probably makes things. They wear their heart on their sleeve here: everyone knows how they feel about Earth Person. At the center, much busyness, much interconnectedness. There's change and growth, but it's hard, and Lex must just keep swimming, just keep pushing through it. Forward momentum, that's the way! A Spirit that is attached to a fire person (Fire Person is on top, so they're central, and the spirit follows on) is there to help, and will pass Lex on in the direction of Water Person, who can help with the swimming, the perseverance. Air Person bears a message about an opportunity to make money, and sends Lex back towards Fire Person and their Spirit. At Lex's feet, ready to be called upon, are both strength and sadness, together, a package deal. A word of advice: secrets can...

Not Quite Live-blogging Creating an Oracle

I've been fascinated by the idea of a charm oracle -- an oracle built out of charms, beads, miniatures, whatever comes to hand -- ever since I read Little Red Tarot's guestpost on How to create (and read) a charmcasting oracle and the various posts it linked to. I've been locating bits and pieces around the house as I came across them and setting them aside for inclusion. A tiny vertebra, a red stone skull bead. Turned up a metal Wizard of Oz lunchbox (Glinda on one side, the Wicked Witch on the other, and "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" on the sides") that I used to carry around with various bits and bobs in. I thought it would make a good carrying case for the thing. Then yesterday, a friend gave me a beautiful chunk of chamois leather that I knew would make a perfect mat for it, so today I set out. I couldn't find the Big Bag O'Charms and Beads, which is maybe for the best. Too many possibilities there. I want to start small. So I picked through the things I had found, and selected bit that spoke to me, that I knew meanings for as soon as I glanced at them. A dozen or so, plus Alice in Wonderland to symbolize the querent. The idea occurred to me that a string would let me target significant symbols that weren't necessarily immediate, and would let me connect things. So I snagged one of those as well, a length of linen. Initial pieces: Alice in Wonderland, for the querent a red stone skull, for illness and injury a small vertebra, for structure a tree, like the World Tree, for possibility, choices, travel a glass owl and some tiny cogs embedded in a resin cabochon, for industry, making things, and skill a hand, for help (obverse) or self-reliance (reverse) a marble, for sanity, clarity, understanding a pair of cups, for celebration, happiness an amethyst bear fetish, for strength and endurance a bat, for listening, of different kinds a fish, for perseverence -- "Keep swimming" a heart, for love and emotion a dragonfly, for transformation, change, shapeshifting a replica of an old Chinese coin, for money, 4 symbols for lots of money, 2 for little or lack a key, for opening and closing, for secrets and revelations a butterfly, for hope, for dreams, for wishes a compass, for seeking and finding, for directions I found a clay cup, and began casting, trying to understand how things fell together, and then just trying to learn to cast them so that they neither jumbled too tightly nor spread too widely. Trying to tell stories from the patterns I saw. I rapidly found that the querent-figure, Alice, was not very useful, at least as a cast piece, and that the string did very well to simply chart the course of a story. I tied a small knot in one end for the start, and a larger one in the other end for the end. I grabbed a broken spindle to use as a pointer, because it was handy. I'd rather have a dip pin, but might also try a small brush. Having trouble getting a good spread. Lots of clumping, with the marble and compass tending to roll away. Might have to replace those, although I love the marble, which has a story that connects it to the lunchbox. At that point, I took a few minutes to stop and write this post so far. Everything going forward is written as it happens. Tried placing Alice at the center of the mat, and casting around her. Sure enough, the thread centered nicely at her feet -- this is a path she's walking. The thread makes a lemniscate, possibly indicating a repeating cycle. The thread's start is at the compass. Alice is seeking, finding a direction. Next stop, the dragonfly atop the vertebra. The thing on top is the main concept, with the underlying piece modifying it. A structural change, a transformation of the fabric of her life. That's what she's seeking -- we're not to results yet. The tree almost covers the heart entirely, new possibilities and opportunities open up within as well as without. The thread rises, falls and crosses itself, a rush forward, a taking of initiatives, seizing one of the open possibilities, a settling into the new role. The butterfly, a hope, a new dream to pursue, and the compass again, for a direction to follow, a pole star, a goal. Wow. That started communicating with me remarkably quickly. The thread seems to be really key to my understanding, and making it directional helps. I also really like putting the querent down first and casting around it. I might actually draw a figure for the...

Hekate Oracle this week

This week, I am instructed to work on the Oracle of the Wheel, so if anyone wants to put a question to the Oracle, I'll be doing it on Saturday, and will accept questions until Friday. The Oracle is free. I may, at some point, make it a regular thing, if there seems to be a demand for it, at which point I will probably ask for an honorarium of some sort. Send questions to me with a subject like of Hekate's Oracle....

Oracle of Hekate

I have finally finished my Strophalos Oracle of Hekate, and I’d like to give it a public test, as it were. Tomorrow is the Noumenia, which is the night for Hekate’s work. I am offering a free oracular session, one question apiece, for tomorrow night. The Strophalos The Strophalos of Hekate oracle is inscribed in chalk on a round slate, with the Strophalos symbol, a winding and labyrinthine design of three-way crossroads. It divides the Wheel into three parts, for the three realms she has a portion of: Ocean, Earth, and Starry Heaven. Each realm is divided into three rows of three words. Each word is an object, food, herb, action or follower of Hekate. The oracle is performed by throwing three objects (burnt matches seem to work best — tiny torches to light our way) onto the wheel, and the results are then interpreted to result in a single statement, which is the oracle. If you have a question for the Oracle, email me with the subject like “Hekate oracle” by 8pm on the 25th. I should have them back to people on the 26th....