I’ve been a part of the Michigan steampunk scene since around 2009. My first event was vending at the Steampunk Expo and there I met so many wonderful people who I’ve gotten to know over the years. There was one couple I first saw there and then at many events afterwards. Though I never knew them by name for a very long time, I always knew them. They were always dressed fabulously and always looked so happy. This couple I would learn was Don and Sue Watts.
I was asked to be a guest of honor at the first year of The Motor City Steam Con and as their guest artist I wanted to contribute something noteworthy to it. I’ve made a lot of decks, but never a simple deck of playing cards, so I suggested that. Sal, the event organizer (and great chick), and I worked out who in our Michigan steampunk community should be featured on the trump cards. Sal asked if I would put the Watts on the hearts suit. By this point Sue was very ill and we wanted to celebrate this wonderful couple and all they offered our community. So Don became my King of Hearts, Sue my Queen, and their son Kyle the Jack. (Kyle’s wife Jenny is also in the deck as the Jack of Diamonds.)
Sue has since passed. I never knew her very well, but I knew better the people around her and all of them have nothing but incredibly beautiful things to say about her. I’m very glad I was able to offer this small thing to the Michigan steampunk community, who have supported me through the years. This deck is no longer available for sale online, it’s a convention only type item. But I do have the whole deck to preview here. I wanted to highlight my hearts and the story behind them for this Valentine’s Day.
On a sentimental note: I came across my great, great grandmother Meike’s sentiment book. As best I can figure it’s well wishes to her on her wedding day. It’s written in Friesland Dutch so I can’t make out too much of what’s said. It’s a beautiful book, two pages which are under my heart cards. It’s from the turn of the 20th century so it’s pretty antique.
So a five card spread for your Lenormand deck is really good for beginners or as a quickie for pros. Shuffle your deck and then think upon what you want to ask it as you cut the deck. Draw your first card and set it down. Draw your next card and lay it to the right of the first. Do this till you have five cards. The center card will be your focus card.
To begin, read the cards around your focus card. Gradually all the cards will create a picture for you. So my spread presented here is not random. It being Valentine’s Day I decided to do the make my gent peer over his book as I read this out loud spread. Ha! Or the Ohmahgawd look at that spread on V-Day! spread. So my focus is the Ring. This is an engagement, a commitment. To the immediate right is the Man card that I will say represents my gent. To the immediate left is the Heart card. Next to that is the Woman card, which we’ll say represents me. On the opposite side is the Moon. I was just saying this the other day about the tarot, but I love the moon card. In the Lenormand it represents romance, desire, intimacy, and dreams. It’s a good card.
So if I were to look at this spread and paint a picture for myself I see me and my gent and we are very much in love. Not only that, as cliche as it sounds, he’s been my best friend for a very long time. I see a commitment, which we have. We’ve been engaged for most of our relationship, though a legal marriage has not been something we’re rushing towards. That’s my focus card and I ask myself what I feel about our commitment. I’m quite happy with it and the surrounding cards (especially the Moon) remind me why I’m happy. He’s my moon in all ways, but especially in dreaming.
With the five card spread you can also go a step further and read the first and fifth card together and then the second and fourth. This is called mirroring. For this spread it just further sums up what I wrote above. So there is a little bit about reading the Lenormand and how to compare cards to one another and a stab at Valentine’s Day all in one! <3
Today is Valentine’s Day so of course the card of the day should be the Lenormand Heart. My little Ghosty girl helped me with card prep, which usually translates to let me sniff that a second… no really, put that over here mah nose needs to be on that! This time around it kind of looks like she’s giving the card a smooch, to which I said a few dawwwwww! and got back to work. 😉
There is no special meaning to the heart card, it’s pretty much what you think it’s about: Love. All kinds of love. Romantic, familial, yourself, and so on. In cartomancy is represents the Jack of Hearts. When you turn to the lenormand with questions about love the heart card is what you focus on and what other cards surround it. As you can imagine some card pairings are self explanatory. When the heart is near the ring card it suggests a partnership like marriage. To the other extreme having it near the whip card is more le rowr (eh hem, the sexy sex). The scythe a break-up. The dog might be a best friend and so on. Later on today I’m going to do an example quick five card layout with my Tea Bats lenormand and go a little deeper into that. 🙂
A very fluttering hearts happy Valentine’s Day to you! The original heart image is Lousie Brooks illustrated and featured in 1928 in La Vie Parisienne, an old saucy French periodical. Illustration by Cheri Herouard Samedi, 21 Avril 66 Année, No 16.
I have just stumbled upon a new artist crush. Originally I came upon Renee’s work because of the beautiful tarot reading photograph below, which is all over pinterest. Upon finally moving through different links to her actual pinterest account I was able to visit her active site. There I found beautiful work and that she has her own tarot deck! Please please please take a moment to visit her site and support her fine work! rensarasvati.com *I added the day of the dead portrait to sample her work for you because… well… you may have noticed I’m a bit about that. 😉
This type of fortune teller machine is called Grandmother’s Predictions, also known as Cleveland Grandma. This style of machine was designed and distributed by William Gent Vending Company between 1929-1932. Cleveland Grandma holds a series of cards in one hand and when you offer her a coin she moves her hands over a display of cards below. She stops on your card and it falls into the tray below. Depending on the style the card has a basic fortune or a longer story. There have been several variations on this particular style over the years by different manufacturers. Still an old favorite!
Tonight’s Winter Moon also corresponds with a penumbral eclipse. Penumbral type eclipses typically aren’t as exciting as a regular lunar eclipse as there is just a light shadow cast over the moon. This one, however, will be darker than most. One celestial site suggested we think blood moon. I’m a star-gazer through and through so any excuse to stare at the moon makes me happy. In honor of this event today is all about the tarot’s moon card. Here are a few of mine. 😉
Today’s card of the day comes from my Butterfly Circus deck. The mountain card, visually one of my favorites from this deck, tends to represent an obstacle or a challenge. I can’t think of too many times in my life where there hasn’t been such a thing looming somewhere nearby. This reminds me to look around and see what is currently looming that needs to be dealt with.
When I was designing this card I had a lot going on in my life that was wearing me down. I very much felt the sensation of sitting at the base of something very tall and trying to find the energy to push myself up and over it. This is easier said than done. I was quite literal with my card woman laying at the base of a mountain of towers and staring up at the sky high above her. When looking at a challenge from the lowest point the task can feel incredibly daunting, even beyond reach. However, in the middle of the mountain of towers there is a doorway lit up offering the potential for either a rest in the climb or a doorway to bypass some of the obstacle. In other words, a spot of hope when things seem too hard. Sometimes we only need that one little thing to give us a kick in the bum and then onward up and over.
The Black Ibis third edition is all done and formatted. I have a sample copy being printed right now to see how it looks. I’m very happy with the new look. A sample companion book should be here soon as well. 🙂 Above are some samples of the deck.
The Knight of Cups is a charming card, or should I say that knight offers a bit of feminine charm. It’s also a card that is about going with your heart, whether that makes good sense or not. As it happens, it’s one of my favorite cards from my Isidore Tarot. Yes, probably because I went with a mermaid to represent the knight and she rides her trusty water steed. As I’m pretty sure I was a mermaid in a past life, a mermaid never disappoints. It also represents the fantasy side of my brain.
As I’m still trying to get my strength back from my downtime (and juggling much needed site revamps to my portfolio and writing site as they make the move to this server) I’m going to be a pinch lazy today. The Biddy Tarot site was one of my first online resources years back when I was trying to broaden my understanding of tarot symbolism. It’s still one of the best online resources for quick card go to. I’m going to take a quote from their Knight of Cups page:
“The Knight of Cups represents the undertaking of the creative adventure hinted at in the Page of Cups. Whereas the Page encounters the mystical fish out of the golden cup and is thus initially inspired with creativity, the Knight has already encountered his inspiration and is about to undertake the journey of imagination and creativity to which the unconscious has impelled him. If you are about to start a new creative project, direct your imagination into the ‘real’ world. True imagination feeds on ‘action’ thus if you do nothing with your dreams they will remain vague and unrelated to the rest of your life. The Knight of Cups brings a warning about getting too caught up in fantasy and the romanticism of life. Fantasy excites but it lacks any real meaning as you deny your basic commitment to the world and your imagination produces nothing. ”
With the new year comes shoppe inventory time and looking over my yearly sales. It kind of correlates with one of the first questions I was sent when I started this site. The question was what things prompted me to feel a need to make a new edition of a deck? This is a good question, because in the beginning I was not sure myself and wasn’t sure if making different editions would be a good thing. Turns out, for the right reasons, it’s quite invaluable to the life and longevity of a deck. I’m about to publish the third edition of the Black Ibis Tarot and I’m going to share why I’m doing a new edition to help answer that question.
I encourage feedback on my decks. I must confess though, it used to be hard for me to get feedback because I didn’t quite know how to take a thoughtful critique as anything but a put down. It’s not even a matter of having thick or thin skin, it’s just realizing that a customer can offer me negative feedback that is meant to be used to make my product better and to take it for that. Not why don’t you love everything about my baby! as some sensitive creative types (like me) can get. Of course someone saying this sucks is not helpful. However, someone taking the time to share with me what they didn’t completely like about the deck and how it might be improved is something of great value and beneficial to how I look after my decks as they age.
For example: Card stock quality is usually the biggest thing I get feedback on. Individuals tend to vary on what they think is thick enough. This was an issue my old decks had. With my current printer their decks are made with standard playing card stock with a smooth finish. They’re made to be handled and the occasional drop of spilled tea. Since switching to them and reformatting my decks I’ve had next to no negative feedback about the weight of the decks. The feedback I get now tends to be how easily the decks shuffle and how they’re good for daily use. In one rare case where a woman was still not quite happy with the thickness (she admitted she was really hard on her cards on a daily basis and she’d moved to daily use with the Isidore deck) I was able to extend her the option to get the heaviest weight of cards my printer offers that has a super thick finish, which is not practical for all decks. It worked out well for this wonderful wonky tarot reader who admits sometimes more tea ends up on her table and cards than her mouth. 😉
Creating the second edition of my Isidore Tarot was very successful and it’s remained quite popular. I was hoping my revamp and second edition of my Black Ibis Tarot would be as successful, but it just hasn’t been. So I sent out a questionnaire to those who have the deck and those who had interest in it but didn’t end up investing in it. I asked what owners thought of it and for those who would have bought it what kept them from picking up the second edition after the first edition they wanted was sold out. Overwhelmingly I was told the deck size I went with was too small for the very detailed card artwork. Also, they felt the cards were too dark in coloring. And the solid colored border as oppose to the original textured border was really not liked. Lastly I was told there was a bit of a disconnect between the deck itself and my second edition packaging. One nice gent pointed out that when he first saw the ad for the deck he thought all of the artwork would be like the orange themed tin & book cover. He said he wouldn’t have known how colorful and pretty the deck itself was from that cover.
So I took this feedback and sat down with my deck and realized I agreed with much of it. The original size of the first edition cards was a custom size that was offered by my original printer. My new printer doesn’t offer it so I had to opt for a card size that best fit my deck, which meant going smaller. I typically don’t go for anything but the standard tarot deck size my printer uses, which is a nice size and easy to handle. It was going to require a far more time consuming reformatting of the cards to fit that size though and back then I just didn’t have the time. My mistake. I should have taken the time to do it right. After the feedback and the obvious decline in Black Ibis sales I knew it was time for a revamp. Click that little arrow for the rest of the article.
I enjoy talking about the creation process of my decks and I absolutely adore when someone gets excited over one. So it makes me a little sad when I find a reason to talk about a deck that I didn’t find to be quite so enjoyable or successful. There comes my Mirabai Oracle deck. I am very sentimental about this deck but I don’t include it in my portfolio or offer it for sale any longer. There are probably only forty decks out there in the world and I personally know most of the people who own those decks. So first, a little history.
In 2010 my husband was contacted for permission to include some of his artwork in an author’s new book. This person was Bethany Grenier and we became friends with her and her husband, who happened to live not five minutes from us. Through her we were introduced to fellow local artists Ted & Kate Jauw. We were invited to join their artist group to create a group entry for a local event called ArtPrize. Our theme was a circus out of time; a very steampunk inspired tinker toy type of affair. We each created characters for our vintage big top. It was fun, it was stressful, and ultimately many of the things we went through trying to get our event to the finish line was ten years worth of lessons packed into three months. It was very bittersweet.
A lot of my art was used for our circus posters and our group’s logo. My character was a cartomancer of course. I wanted to have a deck to go along with my part of our entry. So I made the Mirabai oracle deck. It was quickly done and was a combination of existing artwork and portraits I created of the other members of our art group. The only thing that was unified about it was the color scheme and our group’s logo (created by Ted) in each card. The card meanings were based on the Victorian language of flowers. That was something I especially liked about the deck. I also liked being able to create portraits of my new circle of friends. (Pictured above left to right Cassie Truskowsie, Ted Jauw and Bethany Grenier.) Click that wee arrow for the rest of the article.
There is a bug going around and I don’t recommend you invite it in for tea. Tell it there is no tea, no soda crackers, no coffee, and absolutely no girl scout cookies to be had so it better move on to the next house. Now, if it tries to tempt you to let it in with offerings of tea, soda crackers, coffee, and thin mints be strong and point it up the road. It’s taken my household about four weeks to get this bug out of our systems and we still sound like a bunch of chain smokers who occasionally gargle broken glass for the ambient noise. Now, with that said, back to the card of the day posts!
This will be my first card of the day that is not from one of my own decks. Today’s card is the Empress and it was drawn from the very first deck I ever bought myself, the Haindl Tarot. If you’re unfamiliar with this deck let me start by saying it’s incredibly beautiful. It was created by Hermann Haindl and was first published at the start of the 90s. The symbolism is very non traditional and features imagery that spans Native American, Quabbalah, I Ching, and Runes themes. It was absolutely not a beginner tarot reader deck. I simply fell in love with the artwork.
For a long time I used this deck for my daily creative writing. Writing, for me, is a skill that needs to be maintained to keep it from getting rusty. So I usually set aside a half hour for a quick bit of creative writing. I would shuffle this deck and pick a random card and use the artwork and symbolism as the topic of that writing. I especially loved the Empress card because of how haunting and mysterious it was. It didn’t matter if I picked it on multiple occasions, there was always something new there for me to write about.
The Haindl Empress shows a woman standing atop a moon-like crescent shape that floats on water. One arm is encircled by a snake and in the other she holds a pine-comb topped scepter. Above her is a floating eye and behind her an open doorway. The symbols above is the symbol daleth, the 4th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and comes from the word door. Floating directly above the woman’s head is a shape like the hagal rune. From the book Pictures from the Heart: A Tarot Dictionary (by Sandra A. Thomson) it explains “In the Renaissance card, the figure is Eve. The ‘mother of runes,’ Hagall, enclosed in a hexagram, is one of the runes that appears on the Haindl Empress card. As the ‘framework of the world’ rune, it represents cosmic harmony.” This Empress card has a lot going on.
Try as I might this card still inspires me to write. So my intentional reading ended with me spending an hour writing about a goddess whose name has been forgotten to history, forever standing just outside a door to reality, peering in but never returning to it. That in itself is rather therapeutic. I haven’t done much these past few weeks creatively except find new and interesting ways to complain about how crappy I felt. A good somber story about a mysterious woman makes my heart happy.
Today’s throw back Tuesday is two moments in the life of the Sepia Stains Tarot. The first is from my friend Bethany Grenier’s photo shoot with actress Charlie Bivona for a steampunk fashion feature. I was basically there to stand next to Bethany and every now and then stare intently at the scene and say that looks fabulous! 😉 I had the opportunity to get a few product shots of my deck in a very pretty antique place with a model in some very fine duds. The next picture are two gentlemen from the first steampunk convention I vended at in 2010. I had a few misprinted Sepia decks that I offered as single card grabs. They found the cards perfect for their very dapper top hats. Sadly I do not know the gents’ names.
Once again I’m temporarily leaving you in the good hands of my best tea-mate Kate. I really do like her take on things and I can, from personal experience, attest to her making work fun. Remember to pay her a visit at The Wormwood Queen.
Kate’s Card of the Day: The Isidore Tarot’s Three of Cups: “It’s been awhile since I’ve pulled a card. Tonight in particular I was called to pick up the deck. The Three of Cups jumped out as I shuffled. Since that was the one that seemed to want to talk, I decided to listen.
“I think it’s been talking to me all day. I’ve been mulling over in my brain the idea of play. I mentioned something about that in my reading for the year that I did in January. Now a couple of months later I am beginning to see how that might work in my life. Play, as a sustainable way of living. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
“The Three of Cups traditionally represents friendship and celebration, creativity and community. As a culture, we tend to work an awful lot. We work through our lunch breaks, we work on the weekends, we work through the night. For most of us, we don’t see much return for all that work we put in. So why not play once in awhile? What have we got to lose?
“There is something to be said for doing that thing that brings you joy, makes you laugh, connects you with others. When you celebrate life, celebrate living, your energy changes and you begin to bring to you all those juicy things life has to offer. Who wants to hang out with someone who only works, is stressed, doesn’t take time for love, beauty and joy?
“This card will pop up in your life when it’s time to celebrate. It’s YOUR time now. Maybe you don’t think you have anything to celebrate, but you do. If you’re reading this, you’re alive. Celebrate that. You will begin to see more and more things in your life that are good. You will shift away from anxious feelings. And more and more good things will come to you.
“Play with your work, make it a game. Play with your money, make it a game. You know it really is. Most of us take it so seriously. We get caught up in a mentality that keeps us forever stuck in a certain kind of relationship, a certain socio-economic status, certain jobs. We buy into the idea that we must work, work, work, work to be of any value. But what of the value of play?
“Play brings laughter. Play brings joy. Play brings a creative mindset that allows us to see solutions to our problems. Play brings people together so that we can support each other and help each other. Play allows friendships to grow and relationships to flourish. There is great value in that.
“Take the time. Make the time. You hereby have my permission. Go have some fun. You’re worth it.” – Learn more about Kate here!
In my absence I’m reposting some of my best tea-mate Kate’s previous card of the day posts that make use of my decks. Even though this one features an unhappy card, it also features Kate’s beautiful original Isis Oracle board. You can find out more about Kate and her many talents by visiting her at The Wormwood Queen.
Kate’s Card of the Day: The Isidore Tarot’s Nine of Swords: “I will be working on an Isis Divination Board for a client today so I thought I’d cast some stones for myself this morning. Then I realized my stones were ALL THE WAY downstairs. My cards however, were right next to me! I pulled the Nine of Swords.
“Well, there ya go, the card of nightmares. It’s still weird to me how these cards, pulled at random reflect what is going on in the moment. Yes, I’ve been stuck living in a nightmare. My anxiety levels are pretty high. I’ve been pretty tough on myself, trying to do too many things at once. I’ve been trying to make something happen to move us to where we need to be. Even though it is apparent that I don’t have control over it. Not over all of it anyway. I’m not an advocate of doing nothing. I think we all must do our part. But to expect that I have ultimate control over the situation and therefore ultimate responsibility is silly and harmful.
“This card tells me that my suffering is really of my own making and it is not necessarily reflective of my true situation. I think it’s human nature to see the negative before the positive and that can be overwhelming. I need to remind myself that my attitude really is everything. How I approach my situation affects the outcome. We are all, at some point in our lives, faced with tough situations. The trick is to stay flexible, stay hopeful. And for me, I think I need to approach it like a game. There are strategies to be applied and maybe even some fun to be had, if I can remove my personal expectations and attachments. It’s time for an attitude change.
“When you are in the grip of fear from a nightmare, it’s time to wake up, splash some cold water on your face and reassess your surroundings, your reality. Move forward with a new approach. Fear can be debilitating and right now, ain’t nobody got time for that!” – Visit Kate’s site!
Back in 2010 I had the pleasure of providing the Lovers card for the Super Punch Tarot, a multi-artist tarot deck curated by Super Punch blogger John Struan. This is my card art and the corresponding flyer for the deck’s art gallery show.
You will have noticed a lack of card of the day posts, well, posts in general! During all the happy-happy of Christmas my gent and I caught a horrible bug that has been floating around. We’re still putting up the good fight, but much of my good fight is being done from bed in a cough syrup coma. Hopefully things will be back to their chatty-posting self.