This is a preview of a new type of deck I’ll start offering on Cyber Monday. This is a game deck featuring that old favorite Concentration. The artwork is comprised of my rather dark (and if you’ve ever read my writing that goes with them, sometimes deadly) pinup gals. I have an Isidore Concentration deck I’m finishing up on as well that is more family friendly. This one I made to answer some requests for a collectable deck featuring my art that wasn’t necessarily a divination type deck. This will be available tomorrow at The Attic Shoppe Trading Co.
Speaking of the Empress, this is an etching my gent did for me many years ago. I was beginning to get more involved in learning the tarot and I happened to tell him that the cards most representing us (as far as elements and zodiac signs went) were the Emperor and Empress cards. Somewhere in that conversation I also mentioned (randomly, oh those old conversations were so random) my frustration with my very large ears that had just enough of a point, but not a point in which I could claim to be an elf. During that conversation he began working on this piece. At the random ear point he ended up giving his Empress proper pointy ears. 😉
I absolutely love this etching. It sits next to my side of the bed these days. Over the years I’ve tried to gently prod him into creating a full major arcana in this style. He thought about it for awhile, but alas his work schedule these days doesn’t give him a lot of time to tinker with etchings that can be rather time consuming. I’m still hoping though. The couple that makes tarot decks together stays together. That’s a saying, right? Artwork is copyright Myke Amend and reposted here with his permission of course.
The one thing I didn’t mention in my Emperor card of the day post was how I always view that card as representing my gent. He is the sun to my moon. I remember reading once that Aries is related to the Emperor card as Taurus is related to the Empress card. This is he and I respectively, though I have since learned it kind of depends on who you ask about sun signs and their related tarot cards. The point being, when I do these cards in my decks I think of he and I. So much so that he’s actually the model for my Sepia Stains Emperor card. So I find it interesting to get the Empress card the day after the other.
If the Emperor is the father of the tarot the Empress is its mother. She represents fertility, beauty and expression through creativity. She represents how I look upon the world. I see the beauty in nature, the beauty in creation, and just how incredible our world is when we take a good look at it. I think after having gone through all that fuss of the first major holiday in my home, the days after felt like a moment to take a breath and smile; to look around me and see how beautiful my world is and how that beauty tries to present itself in all that I do. I hope it does at least.
That said, the Empress card here is from my Attic Halloween Tarot. The appearance of this Empress may seem to contradict a few of those thoughts and I’m not sure if my explanation behind it will help that any. The card is also titled The Immortal Masquerade and pictures a once beautiful woman who has lived many years and puts her beauty back on in the form of a mask before she goes back into the world. She’s surrounded by beautiful things, but also reminders that beauty is fleeting. Her eyes are bright though and she has learned a thing or two over her many years. What you see might be cracking but what lay beneath is eternal. When I made the card I played Berlin’s Masquerade over and over. Lyrically it’s a bit of a strange melancholy song, but the melody is upbeat and it just makes me happy, just as the Empress card makes me happy. The strange lass looking over the card is my Lizzy Borden Living Dead Doll (why yes, I am the keeper of strange things) and she was helping me with some product photography and just had to throw herself into the mix.
So we are post turkey-day and things have been a little emotional here; for good and bad. This was my very first Thanksgiving in my own home with my gent. We’ve seen this holiday together for many years now, but always we’ve spent it at another family member’s house. At most I’m expected to contribute a dish or bring the rolls. The whole spectacular affair of preparing such a meal at a family get together only occurred to me Tuesday morning when I realized I had a lot I had to get done. Come Wednesday morning I think I was fully in the mode to channel this card.
The Emperor card is one of dominance and authority. That kind of take charge and direct those around you kind of card. It’s been said over and over in learn tarot guides that the Emperor is the father figure of the tarot. He represents the one you seek to impress or if seen as an expression of yourself, your ability to be the leader.
In years past I have been comfortable to take a passenger seat view of many things around me. This past year has been quite different. I’m no longer sharing my living space with a collective of people who are strong willed and more than capable of getting things done. I am now the house manager, so to speak. Sometimes that fact boggles my mind a little. I get up and look at the house around me and think this is all mine. I felt that with a sense of apprehension as I looked at my kitchen Thanksgiving morning and realized how much there was to do. My gent is a very capable partner, but by then I was letting him get some sleep. You see the first television sitcom moment we ran into was Wednesday night when we learned our electric oven only had one working coil and it was at the top. My devoted gent got up every two hours to (we say with a giggle) flip the bird so that it cooked evenly.
So with a little Rocky theme song running in the back of my head I walked into that kitchen and I laid waste to my worries and cooked my butt off. I had my mojo working so well that not only did I cook, but I cleaned up as I went. I kind of had to though, my kitchen is barely bigger than a walk in closet. The meal was great (it was!) and the company was good. It was a very nice day and at the end of it you’d have never known what type of chaos had gone on in that kitchen. Unless you looked inside the fridge. I made way way too much food. That was the good.
The bad, or rather sad part of the day was thinking of my father alone in New England. She’d been having a hard week and a holiday that normally didn’t effect her was getting to her this year. There’s not a lot I can do other than call and that didn’t feel like enough. I think of my dad through the years and she (pre transition) had been a very authoritative and strong male voice in my life that I always sought to impress. That came to mind as we talked and I realized just how things had changed over the years with us becoming more equal as individuals. It added a slight bittersweet note to the day.
The Emperor card pictured here is from my Valentine version of my Isidore Tarot. My Emperor is a dapper and commanding sort of gent. Successful businessman by day, strong father by night. He symbolizes a firm foundation for those around him. A powerful voice to be listened to.
The Isidore Tarot is my take on the classic Rider Waite Smith deck using J.J. Grandville illustrations to recreate the original scenes and symbolism. These are side by side samples to show details. Today the Hermit and Strength.
Cards have always played an important role in my life. I wasn’t always aware of just how much until not so long ago I had pause to think about it. It came about when I was asked to contribute to an article for a popular entertainment website.
My friend Maggie is an editor and prolific ghost writer. If you’re not familiar with ghost writing I’m sorry to say that phrase is not literal. She writes articles or portions of books in the voice of the credited author when that person isn’t available. Maggie was assigned an article on unconventional forms of therapy. She asked me if I would write the portion dealing with cards as a form of therapy. More specifically she wanted me to write about creating the Isidore Tarot as a form of therapy and how others in the tarot community used the cards for meditation and therapeutic means. In the process of writing the short piece I thought back about my interaction with cards throughout my life.
It started very early when I was just six. My parents had been divorced a few years and living in a very remote Michigan town called Bad Axe. My mom decided it was time to get out of there and moved us back to her hometown where we moved into the apartment over my grandparent’s garage. Since my mom worked second shift I spent my afternoons and evenings with my grandparents. I loved that. And every Friday night was poker night for the aunts and uncles. I loved that even more.
These were actually my great aunts and uncles. My grandparents both came from large families where everyone had married young and were still with their partners. Everyone was very close and they were their own circle of friends. So the aunts and uncles would be over, spread out around the poker table, and I had my own little seat at the table. I didn’t take part in their game. They had devised a system for me to play along but also keep my little girl card rules. I had my own miniature deck and my own set of small poker chips. My uncle would pass out the cards and then deal me my own hand. When it was my turn I would throw my betting chips into my special pot and either pass or take a new card. Basically I was playing a game of Blackjack with myself and when everyone showed their cards or folded I would either show my good hand or fold if I had busted. When we counted chips at the end of the evening I got a quarter for the red chips, a dime for the blue ones, and a nickle for the yellow ones. Sometimes I really cleaned up. Poke that arrow to continue.
Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well. – Robert Louis Stevenson
The 2015 spring issue of Somerset Digital Studio magazine did an artist spotlight featuring my Isidore Tarot. I was pretty darn tickled having been a Somerset Studios magazine reader for years now. While I’m of course partial to my work, the whole issue is full of gorgeous artwork. For anyone interested a copy can be picked up here.
It’s a sleepy day here. The sun is shining but the world outside my door feels distinctly winter-like. As I sleepily move through the house in my robe and wooden shoe *slippers I find myself in the kitchen absently staring at my plants in the window and looking past them to a moving truck in the neighbor’s lawn. Things are a changing today. I decided to change with them. Just a tiny bit. I don’t reach for my faithful owl cup to load up with ice and iced tea; I instead pull out my fox mug and turn to warm, hazelnut coffee. With cup in hand and eyes looking thoughtfully out the window, I might look like a woman in deep, introspective thought. Upstairs in the Bethalynne wheelhouse though the only thing to be heard in my thoughts is Yup, yup, awww yup… looks like we won’t have the anti fragrant smells of skunk-weed waffling through the windows anymore. God speed yee ole pot head neighbors. May they have better pot where you’re moving to.
After that moment of morning zen I take a seat at my desk and open up my laptop (this one is named Ophelia, my last one was Roy Batty) to start my morning rituals. Personal email is checked. Shoppe email is checked. I pull together my order list for the day and what products need to be plucked from their temporary cabinet homes. I put in an order for books and tins, give my Threadless tee shirt shop a pleased pat on the head because it’s doing so well, and then take a few minutes to answer a series of questions a high school art student has sent me. With that done I quickly move into my house and get whatever cleaning needs to be done. I can’t focus when the house is untidy. I then grab some breakfast, decide on which color of yoga pants will be my comfort clothing of the day, spend twenty minutes in front of Wii yoga, and finally select whatever Netflix series will be my background noise of the day while I work. This is any given weekday for me the creature of habit. So when I finally take a moment to draw a card and log more time in with my cartomancy studies, I’m not as happy as others might be to see the Wheel of Fortune card.
A creature of habit does not always like seeing something that represents change or the up and down times of a cycle. I’ve spent two years of change and working to find my sense of home, order and routine. I grew up in a very chaotic environment where change was always threatening. With custody issues between my divorced parents to winters with mom and summers with dad in a different state, my corner of the world was hard to keep still and stable. I embraced that chaos as a twenty something and traveled, experienced, and just plain exhausted myself on doing things enough for most of my lifetime. So when I finally settled down routines became my security blanket. I’ve had so little of that security as of late, I don’t want to think of change now.
With all that said, this is not a bad card just as change is not always a bad thing. Our lives will always be a series of cycles and things are not meant to remain at one point in that cycle the entire time. If an individual wasn’t presented with some sort of change to their environment they might not have the opportunity to grow from it or experience something new that lets them realize the routines we need to keep can always be made better by something positive and new coming into them. We have to work with the change and keep it positive. Be it luck or karma it seems like what we put into the world comes back around to us so best to put something good out there and hope it comes back around on that great wheel. The key is to stay positive.
This Wheel of Fortune card is from my Isidore Tarot –the special Valentine edition. Aesthetically I adore my automaton feline geisha on this card. Like with many of the cards in this deck I keep the basic symbolism of the Rider Waite Smith deck but tried to take a more whimsical approach to it. My dame of fortune oversees her wheel of hats. Each hat represents something different to her and how her fortunes will play out. She has three little helpers with art brushes in hand to help paint out those scenes. She has just a hint of a small smile on her face. She is surrounded by four fixed signs of the zodiac. My own personal fusses aside, this is a good card. You have to look at your life and see what changes might be coming your way. Have a good day!
*Towards the end of my last summer trip to my aunt’s home in MI I was feeling a little melancholy over leaving it again. I’m not good with goodbyes to begin with and I miss our apartment over her garage. We’d finally gotten it remodeled and much of it was devoted to studio space. I don’t like leaving my aunt or the family home that has so much memorabilia of my family. So my gent went out and bought me some Dutch oriented things to have in our new home when I returned to give me that piece of family here. It was sweet. These wooden shoe slippers though are obnoxious. But very warm. Especially when getting out of bed in an attic bedroom that simply refuses to retain heat.
Today’s card comes from my Butterfly Circus Lenormand deck. The card that poked its nose out of the deck was the Flowers card, sometimes called the Bouquet card. This is a happy card. This is a card about letting go and just enjoying yourself without worry. So let that long sigh out, realize how tensed your shoulders have been and let them relax, and joyfully do your version of the Candyshack gopher dance. Well, you can do what you want. I’m just all about that gopher dance.
This is a good card for the day. We here in southern Ohio are experiencing another beautiful day with the temp in the mid 70s. The sun is once again shining brightly. All my windows are open and a nice breeze is giving my home what will mostly like be its last dose of fresh warm air before winter. Tomorrow we will get the cold and rainy version of the storm that is a blizzard elsewhere and we’ll be reminded it is indeed just about winter time. Not today though. And, as it happens, this card also represents receiving something unexpected. The other night my gent surprised me with YMCA memberships because he knew his mermaid-wanna-be has been missing access to her brother’s apt pool back in GR. So tonight I’ll be enjoying that surprise with a swim. Yes Flowers, a good card indeed.
It’s an unseasonably warm 70 degrees outside in southern Ohio. The sun is shining bright and the birds are happily chirping away. During my morning mermaid swim in the tub my feline Ghost managed to not fall into the tub for a change as she attempted to catch dripping water from the faucet. My selection of iced pomegranate and green tea was an excellent choice. All in all a good start to the day. So I pulled out my Isidore deck –my happy deck– and gave it a shuffle and card pull and was pleased to see the Ace of Coins staring up at me.
For the Isidore deck I kept the Aces fairly close to the look of the Rider Waite Smith cards. A hand extends from the clouds offering up a large coin. With the four suits of this deck the elements are denoted by the coloring of the bottom border and the tinting of the images. The gold coloring to this card represents the earth, the element the coins suit is associated with. It signifies a richness in material and physical things. This card, already powerful as an ace, is equally powerful in its suggestion of a new business opportunity, a windfall just around the corner, or any manner of good things that might be coming your way.
I’d like to think of it as whispering that something financial may be coming my way or that a new project I’m working on will be a success. However, the gent and I are once again waiting patiently to see if being parents is on our horizon again, so I’m hoping the wealth that comes into my life is that. Crying, diapers, sleepless nights, and all. That would be a windfall for us indeed. Now I’m going to open some windows and enjoy this beautiful day before the last of autumn is pushed to the side by Miss Winter. I hope you all enjoy your day as well!
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but some things bare repeating: I’m still in the infancy of truly understanding Lenormand cards. They fascinate me with their curious array of symbolism. I think this symbolism fascinates me more knowing this was originally a German traveling game and from that someone based a system of cartomancy on it. Some cards in the deck can –at times– confuse me with their meanings as it relates to their symbolism. The Key is not one of those cards. It’s a pretty straight forward card.
The Key, as the name suggests, is about gaining access, having a breakthrough, or discovering something. I’m not quite sure as of yet as to how to relate it to my everyday using it as a single card read. Within an actual Lenormand spread I know the closer it is to my woman card the more important it becomes. The timing for the card is November, so that is fitting. It’s kind of a coincidental card to draw though. Earlier today as I was unpacking more of our moving boxes I discovered my gent’s box of (we call them) dormant keys. These are keys belonging to locks for tons of long gone doors. My gent keeps them because he believes the more types of keys you have the more able you’ll be to find the right one to open a locked door. *This card is from my Butterfly Circus Lenormand. I just got done watching My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and was inspired to give it some bling! Till tomorrow, enjoy the day.
New Butterfly Circus Lenormand tee shirts designs have been added to my Threadless Shoppe.
A few years back I had the pleasure of photographing Boheme Tribal, a Michigan belly dancing troupe, for an art project of mine. At the end of the day they indulged me with a little card reading for the camera.
I wrote this entry on the practical side of creating packaging for a deck. It offers a few suggestions on what you should consider as far as materials, costs and miscellaneous details are concerned. It’s the checklist I use when packaging an open edition deck. I get all crazy when it comes to the limited editions, but I try to keep my wits about me when it comes to the decks openly sold. I say try.
If I had my way all my decks would come in fabulous containers where you opened them up to find the deck lovingly wrapped in rich materials. Just getting to the deck would be like opening up the most gloriously gift wrapped birthday present. The companion book would be full color and contain not just the details about the cards, but also a serious of related trivia, art, and general beautiful page clutter. All of this would come within another large package of beautiful make and design. Yes, I want to be the fairy tarot godmother who touches her magic wand to a deck and a Cinderella scene explodes around it. I do start out with that type of scenario in mind. Fortunately for me I’ve developed a reflex that smacks me in the head in those times and screams slow your roll and edit woman!
Editing is very important. Toning down of my packaging comes after that and my open editions become more practical and affordable for my potential customers. I’ve learned to temper some of that enthusiasm by keeping one side attractive but simple and allowing the other side to be more over the top. Open edition practical, limited edition more extravagant. Sometimes I try and meld the two by offering a –not limited edition– but limited time sale on more unique packaging for a deck. I do this mostly for The Isidore Tarot. I have an autumn edition that is available each autumn. I have the Devil is in the Details special edition I created special for some of my goth-centric friends. This is my happy medium and the deck is popular enough for me to do this.
Ultimately the most important thing is the deck of cards. Packaging is fine but it means little if the deck itself doesn’t hit well with people. I’ve had a few experiences with buying a tarot deck that came packaged with all the bells and whistles only to find the deck itself felt like it was printed on cheap cardboard. Having gone through the whole nerve-racking process of card printing I know the printing part can be difficult, so I don’t fault the deck maker so much for that. It’s still disappointing though. I don’t want to disappoint so my first focus is the deck.
Of course, with all that said, there are a few exceptions to my personal rules. Deck popularity plays a lot into things. I have two versions of The Isidore Tarot – full packaging and just the deck. Just the deck is exactly that. The deck comes in a box and I include a organza draw string bag for those who prefer a bag over the box. I keep it affordable and put it one sale often. The fully packaged deck is stored in an organza drawstring bag within a labeled tin. I put flower petals in the tin because I just think it’s a nice touch to the packaging, not to mention I love my flower petal drawers I have as a result of that extra. It comes with a companion book. It’s an extremely popular deck and my baby so I like keeping it in nice clothes, so to speak. I want to make it available to everyone while still retaining that special packaging that doesn’t get too outrageous cost-wise.
This entry should be called how to avoid packaging work. I have my mini tarots sitting in front of me and they’re naked. I feel like I should put a blanket over them so they don’t catch cold! This one is done. I’m still working on packaging for the Halloween mini and the Black Ibis mini. I’m leaning towards small tins though. I love the idea of these tiny cards being in an equally tiny tin. Something I can tuck away in my owl bag and take with me. With that thought, I should be back to my work and start price checking small tins! 😉
Now that my mini decks have arrived I decided to see how my own Attic Halloween Tarot’s mini deck felt. It was a little slow going because I had a solid ten minutes of squealing It’s so cute and tiny! Once I got that out of the way, I gave it a shuffle and the first card I pulled from it was the Chariot.
With my Halloween deck there is no symbolism offered within the card’s artwork. Each card presents a scene, like you’re peaking your head through a window and for a moment catching something you were not meant to see. In this respect I consider the cards more of a meditation through traditional tarot card meanings. The Chariot card, in general, is a triumphant card. It’s about winning the battle and what you’ve learned from fighting the battle itself. It is about feeling your full self confidence when taking on a challenge and meeting that challenge head on strong and confident. There is also a quite literal meaning to it as it pertains to traveling. It might be a time to hop in your chariot and hit the road.
When I was designing this hidden scene for my deck the mummy came to mind. I don’t know why. I just saw this classic painting of a woman who has battled up and out of the tomb and now sits in a pleasant scene with her wrappings coming off. In front of her are the spoils of that fight and the travels she has taken since winning it. I thought it fit the Chariot.