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.
- 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 querent on the mat. Thinking of also designating some spaces on the mat for this and that.
Kind of what people pieces, to indicate significant people. I don't want to do man and woman pieces, though, especially after my irritation with gender roles in the tarot (which you can read more about in my little book). I don't think I have any tiny people charms that aren't gendered in the house, and since budget is strictly limited, I'm tempted to make my own. I've got some shrinky-dink plastic and colored pencils. They'd do until I could find much better things. I might code them in elemental colors to give them characteristics.
A couple more experimental casts happened, and then I hit, in roughly this order, low blood sugar, spouse in the room, and exhaustion. I'll pick this up tomorrow or the next day, whenever I have time to make people pieces and come up with a way to test painting a figure on the chamois without making permanent marks. Chalk, probably.
Notes for next time: Figure out how to read stuff that is out away from the querent symbol without having to read every damn piece on the mat, because you WILL add a ton of pieces to this if you stick with it. Because you.