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....

Do it now

Last month, I got a bunch of urgent and difficult things done. This month, I've been feeling burnt out and have been having trouble getting much of anything done. Talking to my new therapist this week, I wandered onto the topic of tarot, and was explaining the verb theory of the suits, that each suit has a verb that sums it up. I listed Wands as "to do", and so I've been working with Wands during morning ritual since then. It's kind of helping. While setting my box of working tarot decks to rights, I located my Morgan's Tarot deck in the bottom. For those unfamiliar with it, it's not a true tarot, lacking any sort of structure at all, much less the Major/Minor/suits of tarot. Instead, it's a divinatory or oracle deck. I don't usually care much for those, although I own a few, but I like Morgan's. It's a silly, compassionate, hippy, and very very human sort of deck, with cards like Tomato Potato Eggplant, This Is Central Headquarters, BOO!!, and more. On impulse, I picked it up, and it gave me some good advice. So now I'm using that every morning as well, a simple three-card spread. Today's was particularly good. I had a terrible time getting to sleep last night, didn't finally pass out until after 8, and had to take pills I don't like to manage it then. These pills leave me even more tired and logy than my usual ones, and being up that late meant there was no way I was going to be able to make the Very Important Call I really needed to get done today. I woke up with a sense of despair on top of my exhaustion. But my Morgan's knew just what to say, and I got Do It Now, Whatever's Right, and Don't Worry You Can Do No Wrong. It made me feel immensely better, and gave me the energy to make another phone call I needed to make. I want to carry that over into actually making something (which I haven't managed in weeks) in just a little while here, too....

Guest Post on Little Red Tarot

When I finished making the ebook for A Study in Tarot (which you can download for free right here), I sent emails to a few people I respected. One of them was Beth Maiden of Little Red Tarot, a really terrific tarot blog with a strong queer voice. Beth was very enthusiastic about the ebook, and asked if she could include it in a post about free tarot resources. She also asked if I'd like to write a guest post for her blog about the process of the study. Well, today, my guest post is up. How (and Why) I Made My Own Little White Book, at Little Red Tarot. Go check it out!...

Following the Piper

It's been a long while since I had an encounter like yesterday's. I was so busy for a long time, with the restaurant, with school before that. And then after the restaurant, I was so depressed that I turned away from things for a long time. I've been getting back to it in fits and starts, but it's been hard to really settle in. Yesterday tells me I'm making good progress. I'm seeing the things I ought to again. The guideposts are coming clear. There are encounters that anyone might have, and there are encounters that only those trained in spiritual and magical technologies can have. Yesterday was one of the former. Anybody could have gone and talked to that guy. Not just anybody would have recognized it, though. I did, which is good, because I damned well ought to be able to. But better, I chose to go and have it. After turning away from things for too long, I looked out the window and saw him. I hollered a compliment. And then, finally, I got dressed, and I actually left the house and went out there and spoke to him. Listened to him play. Petted his dog. Talked a while. I did something. I chose, actively, after being passive for too long. I reached up out of the morass of depression and caught hold of a big thing, and pulled myself up to take a deep breath of fresh air. I need to become more active, to start making choices again. Hekatean as well as Dionysian. Pick my own road, and walk it. Time to find something new, and start it. I did a tarot reading before bed, Beth Maiden's Begin now, with what you have spread, just to get a sense of where I was starting from. An important thing to know before setting out. I got some interesting results. The Sun as my goal. The Wheel and The World in my base. The Page of Pentacles, my favorite significator many years ago when I started reading, in my beginnings. Promising. I think my next reading should be with the Daughters of the Moon. It's always been a very dream-and-vision sort of deck, feeding me images to watch for, touchstones, signposts along the road, rather than concrete instructions, the way the Mythic or the Visconti-Sforza do. Possibly time to do some dreaming as well. Soon....

Piper in the Green

Behind my townhouse is an empty lot. When I moved in, oh, seven or eight years ago, there was a house that was falling in, but they demolished it, hoping to build yet more townhouses there. The real estate boom went bust, and nothing ever went in. Now it's full of ivy and blackberry and madrones and what I think are cypresses. It's a lovely pocket of green. My balcony overlooks it. I've been sick this past week. Sick enough that I went to the hospital to get checked out. Nothing too serious -- they gave me tests and a lot of fluids and sent me back home -- but it's really wiped me out. Just going to the store leaves me shaking and exhausted. I've been spending a lot of time slumped on the couch, not doing much more than reading comics and watching movies I've seen before. Today I had slightly more energy. And then, as I sat here, I heard the sound of piping. A wooden flute. Drifting in from that little pocket. I popped my head out and called a compliment to the aging hippie. After a bit, I went down there. He had a tiny fuzzy dog with him, truly adorable. Long gray hair under a cap. A hoodie turned backwards under a coat -- the dog rides in the hood when he's on his bike. A walking stick leaning on that same bike. He was in the neighborhood, and just decided to stop and play. He says he does it fairly often, though I haven't heard him before. A strangely dressed man, backwards and upside down, playing a wooden flute and accompanied by a little dog, in the nearest thing to wilderness we have. (The Fool from the Robin Wood deck.) And, of course, in the Mythic deck, the Fool is: none other than Dionysos himself. Nothing can be so firmly bound, neither by illness, nor by wrath or fortune, that cannot be released by Dionysos....

A Study in Tarot

I made a thing! It is not a fibercraft thing, or a bead thing, or any of the other things I usually make. No. It is an ebook! For you, and for free! From the Introduction: In 2013, after a long period of barely touching the cards and being very lax in my religious practices, I decided to use the study again to reengage with the symbolism, with the part of myself that speaks that language best. Every morning, I drew a card, starting with the Major Arcana, then the minor (Pentacles, Cups, Swords, and Wands), working my way up the sequence, and then making a lateral study of each number of the suits, finding again the commonalities between them…. After due consideration, I picked one version of the card, whichever spoke to me most, and carried it with me for the day, taking it out and considering it again in quiet moments. At the end of the day, I journalled about it online…. The main body of this book is a journal, and is essentially personal thoughts on the cards. It's been edited for formatting, spelling, and grammar, but only lightly for content. I removed some of the most personal matters, fixed a few things that I had changed my mind on later, solved a few minor issues. It's still basically a journal, though. It's also, in a way, my own personal Little White Book, the tiny pamphlet that comes with most decks with brief explanations of the cards and how to read them. Something I can refer back to when I want to refresh my memory or think about a card again. Something I can annotate when I come to a new understanding. The last thing you'll find in the book is a piece I wrote in 2001. I was taking a British Literature class, and we were reading A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess…. Having finished [the book], I went back to read the introduction, as is my habit with fiction, and was struck by Burgess' musings on the numerology. I wrote the piece by simply sticking one card in each chapter, in order, then briefly reviewing it in light of the card, and writing it down as I went. If that sounds interesting to you, please download my little book and give it a read. Feel free to pass it on to others as well. It’s released under a Creative Commons license. An epub format book turns out to be very easy to make if you know a little HTML, and pretty much all readers and reader software will take it. I’m pretty happy with it, and there are other ebooks I hope to put together in the future. In addition to the link in this post, you'll find a link to the Hex.Ink Books page in the menu bar, where this and any future ebooks will be found....

Spring Cleaning Spread

I've been having a bad time for, well, a couple of years now. Since the restaurant closed, and then since Kate lost her job. It gets worse and worse and worse. Nothing I try seems to improve the general lot of the household. I feel very stuck. The past week or two have been a mess. I have delayed phase sleep disorder, which is to say that my personal diurnal cycle is a few hours longer than an actual day, and doesn't reset properly at the end of one. Without a schedule to keep to, I just go to sleep later and later until I'm sleeping all day instead of all night. In my house, we refer to it as rolling forward, and to being on an all night schedule as being upside down. So I was upside down, and decided to roll all the way forward until I was right way up again. Having late morning and afternoon as the end of my day is very disorienting, as is going to sleep when it's light and waking up when it's dark, and I tend to spend several days fuzzy-headed and useless while rolling around. This, of course, is bad for accomplishing things, and so bad for my self-esteem. Yesterday, as I finally achieved a useful schedule, I was feeling like a totally useless and worthless human being. No marketable skills, can't even find a retail job, haven't even gotten very basic stuff done for a week, like weaving and studying. I finally managed to shake it off in the afternoon, got out the triloom and did some weaving. I felt so much better for it that I managed to put in an hour on Ruby, and smashed the hell out of that Roman numeral problem. (I'm still pleased with myself for that. And once I lick the next level of that, I'll have the technique I need to finally make the geomancy script work. I think. And apparently Roman numerals is one of those problems that's well known for just being annoying as fuck to code for.) We got out the door and to the food back, sold some books, bought some groceries, and basically got everything done that needed to get done. Kate managed to get some stuff done that had been building pressure behind it, too. A good day in the end. Now, I had the excellent blog Little Red Tarot hanging around in a tab for a couple of months, and finally started reading it regularly in February. Good reviews of decks, intruiging new spreads, cool stuff. For the Equinox, she posted a spread for Spring Cleaning, and I let that hang out in a tab for a week, meaning to get around to it once I was right side up again. So this morning, I tried it out, and I must say it rather nailed me, despite my initial bafflement at a couple of those cards. Spring cleaning spread: 1 & 2 – You, now Sun, Seven of Pentacles You are brilliant and skilled, don’t forget it. 
3 & 4 – All that junk under the bed – and how to tackle it Page of Wands, The Devil You have an image of yourself as a dilettante, as flitting from one thing to another as a new shiny comes along. Do not let that image limit you. 
5, 6 & 7 – Redecoration! Fresh ideas Queen of Wands, Two of Swords, Magician Yes, you have many passions, many interests. This is a strength, not a weakness. Yes, you must choose things to focus on, but that choice comes again and again. Don’t choose forever, choose for now. You are good at many things. 
8 – …and it really is time to chuck this out Death Stop thinking you can change everything. Stop thinking that one thing will change everything. Stop thinking there is one big solution. It was that last card that really baffled me as I started to lay them out. I had glanced over the spread description, and remembered that last position as "…and it really is time to chuck this out". How do I throw out Death, I though? What the hell? But once I worked through the whole spread and reached it, it was clear as a bell. This spread was about spring cleaning my head, my thinking. The position was an idea I needed to get rid of. And what I needed to get rid of was the idea that I could make one big sweeping change, fix everything at once. What a ridiculous notion, now that I consider it carefully. Silly me. I've gotten used to myself as not having any marketable skills, any skills that can make us money, because I can't find a job. Can't even figure out what to...

Trioditis Spread

This is a spread I use for decision making. It’s a Hekatean spread, echoing the three-way meeting of roads (“crossroads” is something of a misnomer, since it’s the meeting of three ways that’s specified by the name Trioditis) that is sacred to Hekate, and I always invoke her when using it. It does, however, offer the option of finding a third choice if the first two are not acceptable. This would be analogous to breaking new trail, something I find Hekate encourages. But the additional third option is a squirmy, tricksy thing. It may show you a new option you hadn’t considered before. It may show you a way to compromise between the two obvious options. Or it may give you advice that applies to either path, in which case its cards will modify those of the path you choose. Trioditis Spread Lay out and read the first ten cards. The other three are there only if you need more information. 1. First step: Where you began the path that led to this particular choice. 2. Along the road: What you did, encountered or experiences on the way. 3. Where it led: The immediate that prompts this choice. 4. The Choice Before You: This describes just what your choice is, the theme of it, what you need to consider. 5. Left-hand option: One of your options. If you are right-handed or of a right hand path tradition, this may be the choice you favor less; if you are left-handed or of a left hand path tradition, it may be the choice you favor. Or it may just be one option. This card should tell you which of your options it is. 6. Along the road: Some of the consequences of this choice, things you will encounter on the road if you make this choice. 7. Where it leads: This lets you know what, ultimately, this choice gains you, and whether or not it’s what you want. 8. Right-hand option: Your other major option. This may be the option you find preferable, or may not. The card should tell you. 9. Along the road: Some of the consequences of this choice, things you will encounter on the road if you make this choice. 10. Where it leads: This lets you know what, ultimately, this choice gains you, and whether or not it’s what you want. If you are unsatisfied with both of your choices and need a third option that you can’t yet see, or you’re looking for a way to get the best of both options, or you just need some more advice, now lay out these three cards. They may provide you with a third option altogether, suggest how to compromise between them, or just give you general advice that you can apply to either path. These three cards are very contextual. 11. In the Center: How to begin: the third option you haven’t seen, the compromise you might make, or advice that can apply to either path. 12. Along the Road: Some of the consequences of this choice, things you will encounter on the road if you make this choice, or the way taking this advice will influence your journey. 13. Where it leads: This lets you know what, ultimately, this choice gains you, and whether or not it’s what you want, or it may modify the destination card for the choice you do make. This spread was created by Rebecca Lynn Scott under a Creative Commons Share Alike license, which means you can distribute it freely, but please keep attribution intact....

the light on a snowy night

Last night, after going to bed very early in an attempt to wrap my sleep cycle around to match that of other people, I woke up in the dark and could not sleep. I cried, beginning my grieving process over an opportunity I think will be lost to me, although it isn’t quite yet. I would rather begin to grieve now rather than hold onto hope for years, only to have it snatched from me later. If I grieve it now, and get the chance later, it will be more joy than the mourning was, but if I hope now and grieve later, it will be all at once, and worse for it. As a rule, when I wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep after 30 or 45 minutes, I get up and do something else. I eat — last night it was spaghetti aglio olio — and I read, and if I still do not think I can sleep I come up to the ritual room. I drummed for a bit, just practicing simple rhythms, and I did a tarot spread for another problem, and a litteromancy draw for the one I was crying over (which, to my surprise, insisted it would still happen, although not soon). And I noticed, out the window, that it had been snowing. I slipped on some shoes and my heavy robe and grabbed an offering bowl, and stole outside, just to watch. The falling snow glittered. I settled the bowl into a pile of snow that had already built, and later I’ll collect it to make offering with the water. I am, really, still new to snow. I grew up mostly in Florida, and Arizona before that. I have very faint memories from Maryland, where I was born, of building a snowman with my mother, and putting my dad’s favorite baseball cap on it, so that it was wet and cold when he came home and put it on, and mom and I snickered together. I was perhaps two, and don’t know how much of that is remembered and how much constructed. In Seattle, it snows perhaps a couple of times a year, and not even every year at that. It makes it hard to get used to. I hate to drive in it; Seattle snow is slicker than snot, since it melts and refreezes and is slushy and icy. I hate to drive while it’s falling, too; I get hypnotized by it too easily. What I do love, though, is a snowy night when I can stay at home, and just look at it. There is so much light on these nights. The snow and the clouds trap every available photon and reflect it endlessly. Somehow even the cityglow is less orange than usual, and the sky can be a purple that I have tried to capture on my bedroom walls, with limited success. (They are a lovely color, though.) I stood there in the purple light and the glittering fall, and felt peace. I caught snowflakes on my tongue, as I never got to as a child. I ate snow off the top of the fence, just for the clean taste. I threw snowballs at my fence. It felt good. And I did not want to cry anymore. I went back to bed eventually, and slept for a long time....

Sevens as Catalyst

My lateral tarot study continues, slowly. I'm pretty pleased with today's bit on the Sevens, complete with nifty video. SEVENS The Sevens contain many elements, like a flock of birds or a school of fish. The all move together, but can do so in unpredictable ways, and individual parts may end up going off in their own direction because of that. They are unstable, but not unbalanced. The seventh part adds what may be a catalyzing agent. It may take a little to see the full effect, but then FOOM, there it goes, and something new is happening....