The Mary-el Tarot: My Personal Reading Deck

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It’s perplexing that I would take so long to acquire the Mary-el Tarot but it did, just over 2 years from its publication date (February, 2012) by Schiffer Publishing. Now that I have it, I’m even more perplexed at myself for the delay. I’ve been hearing about it here and there, reading reviews, seeing vlogs about it, and even articles in various tarot publications.

Get this deck. No wishy-washy preceding terms like “consider…” or “perhaps you might like…” or “I personally suggest…”– No. Get this deck. You should get this deck. Unless, of course, you only like paintings of pastel rainbows and pretty little kittens and unicorns, absolutely cannot tolerate nudity for whatever reason, or you can only use the straightforward Rider-Waite tradition or you can only use the Marseille or you can only use the Thoth. If any of those are true about you, then yeah, forget it. Stick with what you know. Otherwise, Get. This. Deck.

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The card dimensions are 3.36″ x 5.5″ so they are a touch on the large side, but good thing, because I want to see the artwork. The one thing I dislike is the finish. It’s glossy and laminated, which I don’t like in tarot cards. It’s also an unusually thick card stock, rendering it difficult to shuffle. For that reason, I wouldn’t use Mary-el for professional or public readings. This is going to be one of those decks I won’t want others touching.

Though there is notable influence from all three of the main tarot traditions (Marseille, RWS, and Thoth), the Mary-el tarot is very Thoth, except it’s better than the Thoth tarot.

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Pagan Practices and Chinese Folk Religions

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Left image of pagan Wheel of the Year from Biblical Connection.

Right image of a Taoist Fu sigil.

I don’t have educational degrees that would qualify me to write about any of this, so please understand that I am writing my observations within that non-expert context. Lately I’ve been fascinated with pagan and neopagan belief systems, mostly for how strikingly similar paganism is to Chinese Taoist-based folk religion.

Here’s how I understand paganism in context: Back in the day across Europe, Abrahamic religions rose to dominance, became institutionalized, and began setting up centralized bodies of authority that often started in the cities and spread its influence from there. At the fringes of the countryside, however, pagan faiths endured among the minority. These pagan faiths were polytheistic, though pantheist, strongly nature-based, and because they believed that everything was connected, it was thought that certain herbs, incantations of words, ritualistic conduct, and representations of elements could be harnessed to manifest intentions–in other words, magic exists.

Replace a few specifics from the previous paragraph and you could apply it to the relationship between Confucianism (and to a great extent Buddhism) and Chinese folk religions. These folk religions were looked upon in the same way pagan faiths were looked upon by the Christians. Those who practice pagan/neo-pagan religions (like Wicca, Druidism, Heathenry, or some form of pagan reconstructionism) tend to keep their faiths concealed or strictly private. That’s less of an issue among those who practice Chinese folk religions, and so you’ll see altars set up in Chinese businesses that still pay homage to the faiths of their [often agricultural] ancestors. However, like what pagans experience, those who still practice Chinese folk religions are considered fringe.

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A Tarot Reading for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

2014.03.12 2.12 pm Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 - 1 Signifier

I did not want to post about this. The tragedy hit a bit close to home for me and both Hubby and I have been on top of the updates about the situation in as real-time as it can get. This afternoon I spent some time concentrating on the matter and had my trusty Robin Wood tarot deck on hand. I went through the deck to select a signifier and from the Robin Wood deck, the Eight of Wands leapt out at me as the signifier to read with for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Quietly, and what was going to be privately, I drew a single card for the matter. What happened next took me by surprise.

2014.03.12 2.12 pm Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 - 2 Reading

I drew Key 15: The Devil. If that isn’t compelling enough, look at the imagery on the card. I happened to select the Robin Wood tarot to read with, which is a deck with a unique take on The Devil card, different from the traditional systems.

And I’m just going to leave the posting at that. I wasn’t going to share, but wow, just wow. I may not be a mathematician, but I believe the probability of me drawing that card for this reading is about 1.2%.

A Review of Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards

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Here’s the thing. I’m such a snot. I didn’t want to like this deck. Oh no. I wanted to sneer at it. I wanted to toss my chin and hand up in the air and say, “What fluff!” But…

…I like it. I do. I really like this oracle deck. Deep down, I’m just a big fluffy bunny rabbit tarot practitioner. Because I really like Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance oracle cards.

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The Poet Tarot: A Divinatory Tool for Poets and Writers

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The Poet Tarot published by Two Sylvias Press has just made its debut at the 2014 AWP Conference in Seattle. It was created by Kelli Russell Agodon, who is herself a writer, editor, and poet, and Annette Spaulding-Convy, also a poet. I received an advance review copy and am loving it! This will be one of those amazing decks I use when reading for poets, writers, and artists.

There may be some debate as to whether the Poet Tarot is a tarot deck or whether it is an oracle deck, but more on that later. I tend to see it more as an oracle deck for reasons I’ll explain.

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The deck comes in a yellow organza drawstring pouch along with a guidebook, and you will definitely need the guidebook. The dimensions of the cards are about 2.75″ x 4.75″, which for me is the perfect size to shuffle with. They’re very snug in the hands. The guidebook is 5″ x 8″ and while that would not bother me ordinarily, I can’t imagine using the Poet Tarot deck without the guidebook, and so for that, if both were the same size, I could put both in the same pretty cedar box and keep them together on my writing desk, no problem. I have to imagine that as writers come, I’m not alone in that sentiment. Due to the specific nature and purpose of this deck, it would just make more sense to have the guidebook be the same size as the cards, with the intention that the two will always accompany one another.

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The art of the deck is in a digital collage form that blends Victorian art and imagery with poet busts in a wholly contemporary style. It’s really breathtaking to look through and has a natural appeal to most 21st century writer sensibilities. They’re borderless like many contemporary decks today, and the borderless design suits the deck well.

Once you hold this deck, you’ll know that every aspect of it was designed for the writer in mind. I just want this deck (and its guidebook) in an ornate wood box in the corner of my writing desk next to Strunk & White. You know what I mean?

The cards are subdivided into the Poets (Major Arcana) and the Suits. The Suits are Quills, Muses, Mentors, and Letterpresses, corresponding with Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles respectively. The four suits represent the four stages of the creative writing process: Quills for creation, Muses for inspiration, Mentors for revision, and Letterpresses for completion. I really love the thoughtful way Agodon and Spaulding-Convy have designed the Poet Tarot deck.

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