8 of Swords

Mar. 6th, 2017 09:41 am
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
This is a card that has come up a lot for me in readings on unrelated subjects. Now, I'm fairly confident that I shuffled well enough to assure that the deck (Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg) was well and truly randomized between readings, so I want to take a moment to pay attention to this card and see if I'm missing anything.

The 8 of Swords typically features a captive figure (usually a woman) who is bound, blindfolded, and surrounded by swords, often some distance outside of a village, town, or other indication of civilization. Here is the Waite-Smith image that serves as the basis for many decks today:

In the Thoth deck, this card is titled "Interference"; in the OGD it was also known as "The Lord of Shortened Force." I think this is one of my favorite of Harris's cards; something about the colors and the background geometry and the placement of the swords all works together to invoke a sense of static-y disruption. For whatever reason, it's a card that I have no problem responding to an on instinctual level -- maybe even easier than I do with the Waite-Smith version.

One thing that comes up often with the 8 of Swords is that it represents a self-imposed bondage: one that is a result of overthinking, or in refusing to accept some obvious reality, rather than outside forces conspiring to keep you in your place.

In her companion book to the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg, Giles highlights the differences in representations between the Russian Tarot and the Waite-Smith and other Waite-Smith inspired decks available at the time. Here, the captive figure's eyes are closed, instead of blindfolded, which highlights the self-imposed nature of the interference. Giles also points out the ambiguity of the floating sword: is it coming to cut through the binding ropes? will it simply settle into the ground with the other 7 swords? Is it, like the floating fourth cup in the 4 of Cups, potentially something unreal or imagined in nature? Overall, Giles concludes that the Russian Tarot's 8 of Swords is a little more hopeful than the Waite-Smith version.

My favorite name for this card is the OGD's "Lord of Shortened Force." I don't have ADHD myself, but I get that kind of vibe from the card: constant distractions, unable to focus, getting nothing done as a result. (Or having to do a lot of extra work just to tread water.) I admit to feeling like that a lot, recently. Seeing this in the outcome feels a lot more like "results unclear, try again later" than "no bueno." I'll have to lay out another reading later, when I'm less harried, and see if anything changes.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
I don't think I've talked about any books at all on this blog, except maybe only in passing. Well!

I've owned a copy of the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg deck for years now—possibly since 2008? The art is certainly striking, especially against the black background.

But it always felt like much of the art and symbolism that was beyond me. I didn't realize until a couple of years ago that there was a companion book; I didn't get around to acquiring a copy until this year.

The reason for my hesitance was partially my generally uninspiring previous experience with "companion books." They felt more like diet versions of a generic Tarot book then an in-depth exploration of a particular deck's art or history (the obvious exclusion being Crowley's Book of Thoth). Moreover, it seemed for a long time that the standalone book was unavailable; it only occurred in a package deals with the deck, which made it unnecessarily expensive and wasteful. Finally, as a Christmas gift to myself, when I found a used standalone copy available, I cashed in some Visa reward points and got Cynthia Giles's Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg for eventually free. It arrived a few days ago and I've just finished reading it now.

This is probably the best Tarot deck companion book I've encountered yet. Giles goes beyond telling you about the deck; she also delves into Russian history, culture, and folklore, much of which turn up in the actual cards. The casual user will no doubt recognize Josef Stalin as the figure in The Devil; if they page through the accompanying LWB, they'll also learn that Princess Olga of Kiev is pictured as the High Priestess, or that the Hierophant resembles Saint Vladimir. But without the background knowledge Giles collects in this volume, they would be much harder pressed to recognize other personages, like Ivan the Great, Grand Princess Sofia, or Ivan the Terrible. (Unless they were hardcore Russian history buffs, I suppose!) She also provides more details and context for the figures only briefly alluded to in the LWB. There is less detail when it comes to the specific court cards and pips, but that is largely due to the fact that there is an abundance of background information elsewhere. The amount of research and work that Giles put into this volume is staggering; she also makes numerous suggestions for further reading and includes her complete bibliography at the end.

I love this deck, and while I've read (relatively) successfully without Giles's companion book, after finally getting my hands on it I can conclude that the information and context provided in the book is, if not 100% essential for working with the deck, it's 100% important. If you've seen me mention this deck and have been thinking about getting one yourself, I would recommend saving up to get the deck and companion book package deal. Absolutely worth it.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

What is the lie I keep telling myself? )

Speaking of Tarot history and the origins of the card, Biddy Tarot has a really great interview with Robert Place about the history of the cards. It is academically and authentically grounded (protip: they're not Egyptian) and easy to digest, and even though it's a podcast interview, Biddy is really great with having transcripts so you can read instead.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
Today's prompt was: Pathfinder: What do I need to stop running away from?

5 of Cups, reversed )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

Maybe another reason I've slowed down with this shadow work meme is that a lot of the prompts are sort of meaningless for me. Last one was about my Inner Child, which is frankly in the category of New Age concepts I don't buy into (maybe that's why my card was the 10 of Swords?); coming up is "inner god" and questions of divinity, which I don't really know if I hold truck with either. But I'll keep on keeping on. It's better to use my cards more often than not, right?

Today was day 17. According to the meme:

Intimacy: How I can strenghten [sic] my bond with the loved one(s)? )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I started this in November. Now it's march and today marks the halfway point. Even with skipping some prompts and combining others, I'm still (obviously) lagging quite a bit! It doesn't help that even with extra time and thought, the "Shadow Work Spread" reading doesn't make any damn sense.

So what advice does my Inner Child have for me )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
I kind of dislike the gender binary implied by talking about masucline and feminine sides. I recognize the reference to Jung, and I have a semi-competent understanding of what he means with animus/anima; I just don't think it's appropriate to place it here stripped of context. (A Jungian spread would have been perfect for this challenge! Missed opportunity tbh.)

I've never really had conflicting feelings over my biological sex or gender identity but I've been watching the discussion around trans identities unfold and really skyrocket the last five years and it's been really educational, enlightening, and occasionally heartbreaking. Needless to say, much as dualism can be appealing, I'm casting these question in a slightly different light: boldness and patience. Am I too bold/patient, or not enough? How can I better channel these two conflicting qualities to achieve what I want?
The readings: )

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
Today's prompt is what can't I accept about myself? Why?

The card I pulled was the 4 of Cups, reversed. Oh boy, reversals!!

If the Page of Clubs was straightforward, this was another think-y draw. On its surface, the 4 of Cups is generally about discontentment and dissatisfaction. The honeymoon period is over, the magic is lost.

This is a card where a Waite-Smith (of which my St. Petersburg Tarot is a clone) and Thoth comparison is interesting and potentially fruitful.

In the Thoth deck, this card is titled Luxury, and is associated with Moon in Cancer. As the Moon is Cancer's natural ruler, this would initially seem like a positive and comfortable card. I mean, "luxury"? But the colors and image, while not devastating, are hardly warm and fuzzy:

But this was not a reading with the Thoth deck. This was, as with most of the readings so far, done with my St. Petersburg deck, which is a Waite-Smith clone.

The primary differences between the two are that the figure in the Russian Tarot is blonde and dressed in noticably luxurious (hey! that word!) clothing (of course, all of the clothing in the St. Petersburg Tarot has lovely embroidered bits along hems and ediges, but here it is overmuch), and instead of sitting with legs and arms crossed, he's kneeling and has one hand raised to his chast, palm out. But there are still three cups before him, a tree branch above him, and an ambiguous sky-hand. Is the fourth sky-cup one the figure is desiring in his grumpy mood? Or is it one being held out to him that he can't see because he's grumpy?

The LWB for this deck takes the reversed meaning of this card (since I did draw it reversed) as unambiguously positive: new possibilities, new solutions, new relationships, new knowledge. More or less in line with the reversed meaning given by Waite in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. Hardly something I would "refuse to accept about myself."

I am not somehow secretly unhappy or dissatisfied with my life, generally speaking. Perhaps this "generally speaking" is the kernel of the issue: I'm not acknowledging whatever dissatisfactions I do have. In what arena of life could I be ignoring my own unhappiness?

After two years in a foreign country, I have a solid grasp on the language, though not the fluency of my mother tongue. But I'm handling it.

I have a solid, long-term, supportive relationship.

My career is a bit slipshod at the moment. At the moment I'm gunning to be a certfied teacher, but since my credentials aren't originally in education (aside a CELTA, which isn't nothing, but it's also not a multi-year degree program), I'm realizing now I potentially will have a lot to make up. And even now, I only think I'll like it. I know that schools can be a bereaucratic, political nightmare (all this on top of managing students) and I don't know if I have the inner reserves to handles that. Otherwise: do I have the inner reserves to be a proper freelancing editor and tutor? Or do I give up on all of my English-related career goals and return to retail instead? Should I focus more on my fiction writing? On jewelry?

LIkewise my partner's career is slipshod for similar reasons, namely having a lot of education to make up. It would be lying to say that it didn't stress us both out. This goes hand-in-hand with my slipshod career: we both have fairly meager safety nets to begin with, and we both acknowledge a sense of fiscal and general responsibility for the other. I do look at my other immigrant friends who are equally slipshod in their careers but who have partners with stable and fairly well-paying jobs, and sigh wistfully. Sometimes.

It would be a hard thing to admit that the career experience I've accrued so far might not be relevant for what I would actually end up doing, or that I might need to put my career aspirations on hold for the sake of a little more money (and probably a lot more peace of mind). Is this what I can't accept?
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
So here we are, nearly a week into December, and I haven't continued on with the challenge. It might as well be Shadow Work Winter, at this point. ;)

I drew this card ages ago, though. It's just finding the time to sit down and write. Ironically, I think the challenging cards prompt me to write more, because I need more space to work out my thoughts—the kind of "no shit, Sherlock" moments are, on the other hand, are so clear that it's more like, "Ah, fair point. Moving along..."

Today's, for example, is The Devil: What do I need to let go of? And I drew the Page of Clubs. (Clubs = Wands, in this deck.)

The Page of Clubs is energetic, creative, passionate—but he is also inattentive and quick-tempered. He's not as pushy or domineering as some of the other court cards, at least. But things still get under his skin and he can be quite impatient: why isn't everyone doing things his way? Can't they see that it's the best? And if he later realizes that there are better ways, he's not always comfortable owning up and apologizing.

So there you have it.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
I sat down to do this reading thinking that the Id/Ego/Superego reading was next. I double checked the graphic just now and I see that it should be The Devil (What do I need to let go of?). If you're counting along, I haven't forgotten that one. I'll get to it next time. :)

If you're not up on your Freud, the id, ego, and superego are the three parts that make up the sum total of your conscious experience. The id is pure desire and impulse; the ego is calculated strategy, and the superego is the conscience and ideal self. One way to envision the three parts is the ego navigating conflicting desires: what the id wants (usually something akin to immediate gratification) and what the superego wants (usually to be a better person, or to live up to some ideal).

Id, Ego, Superego )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I thought a lot about this day's prompt before I shuffled. I think this may be the most uncomfortable question so far. Sometimes I do a thing where before a reading I wonder about what cards would be especially appropriate, or confusing, or just plain funny.

What would happen if my significator (Queen of Cups) or any of the Cups courts came out? That would be a laugh riot. 7 of Cups would be a funny card, too: I'm out-of-touch with the ideas of my own out-of-touchness? 7 of Swords: I see myself as honest but I'm really a tricksy, lying bastard? Ace of Swords? And so on.

What I got was a reversed 7 of Clubs.

Calm down, child. Not everyone is out to get you. Not everyone is glued to your every move, waiting for you to make a mistake so they jump down your throat. You really do take shit way too seriously and get needlessly defensive—it's okay to chill the fuck out once in a while.

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
At this rate, it'll be Shadow Work November/December! Man, I don't know how people found the time to do these exercises every day over on Instagram. Even underemployed I'm falling behind...

So today's prompt is Day 7: Sage/Crone: What is my Inner Truth?

With all the heavy words like sage and crone and Inner Truth, I was ready for this to be a heavy duty card. And I get...

8 of Pentacles, reversed.


(I can never find the image I want of cards from the Tarot of St. Petersburg, so all you get are my crappy cell phone pictures. Sorry!)

The 8 of Pentacles is about hard work, perfection (often in the form of studying, or apprenticing under a master), and fine-tuning details. Some people thrive under that; for other people it's tedium with a capital T. Golden Dawn correspondences peg this card as Sun in Virgo.

When you set up a day with words like Sage and Inner Truth, a ho-hum little Minor Arcana is a bit of a let down! (Though, scrolling through the #shadowworkoctober tag on Instagram, someone else got 10 of Swords as their "full potential" so oof could be worse...)

So much of my anxieties boil down to the struggle between perfection and imperfection. I bust my hump on my work (creative or paid) and it's worries over the imperfections and the flaws that keep me up at night—am I really being the best teacher I could be? Will this manuscript ever be good or am I too much of a talentless hack to bring this idea to fruition? All very relevant to the discussion in the previous post as well.

I drew this card days ago but it was so weird and confusing that I sat on it until now. Like: it is a pretty perfect reflection of my innermost drives at the moment, but it doesn't feel like a "crone-like" truth, won after years of reflection and experience. Is this going to be my eternal struggle, something I never quite make peace with? But that is mostly me, getting hung up on a name and expectations. 
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I thought this prompt was going to be serious and difficult. I was fully expecting to cry over this one. Instead, I was just...puzzled.


I have always been inclined to see the positive side of the 9 of Wands (or Clubs, as in this deck). Its presence indicates struggle and even conflict, but also success. The figure in the Waite-Smith 9 of Wands may be exhausted and beaten up, but he's at least accomplished something.

And I do not believe for a second that I need to forgive myself for some faux flaw like "working too hard" or something, because what kind of "shadow work" would that be? So what are the negative, reversed, inversed meanings of this card? In other words, even though I drew it upright, how would I read it reversed? It's embarrassing that it took me basically an entire day to consider that angle.

What is the inverse of the 9 of Wands? What is the opposite of that meaning? Overwhelmed and exhausted but without success, failure, defeat, overrun.

In other words, a lot of the feelings I've been staring down in my personal/professional life. I'm in a situation right now where I feel like I've failed to meet all of the challenges set before me. Not only that, I don't have any energy left to try again or to face any new ones that may come my way.

That I should forgive myself for being so despondent and defeated is strange. Had I really been beating myself up that much about it?

Maybe not exactly, but I haven't been allowing myself to feel that way. Not really. I've had temporary bursts at my boyfriend or elsewhere on LJ, but within the paradigm of "let it out so it will go away, get over it so you can stop sitting around and feeling sorry for yourslf." Not the healthiest attitude towards one's own darker moments: "I'm getting real sick of this shit." How would my friends react if I said that to them while they were having an awful time? Never mind that it would never, ever in my life occur to me to say something like that to them. I treat myself worse than I treat my friends.

For that, I'm sorry.

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
Yes. If you speak to most Tarot enthusiasts, you'll find nearly all of them have a small library of decks. Over the years I have owned:

  • The Tarot de Marseilles (as I mentioned in my last post)

  • The Rider Waite Smith (as I also mentioned in my last post)

  • The Thoth

  • The Gilded Tarot

  • The Robin Wood Tarot

  • The Mystic Faerie Tarot

  • The Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg

  • The Dragon Tarot

  • The Feng Shui Tarot

  • The Victorian Romantic Tarot

I don't have all of these anymore! Again, like I mentioned in the previous question, my Tarot de Marseilles deck got trashed and I gave my Rider Waite Smith deck away. Out of the rest on this list, I still own the Thoth, the Gilded, the Robin Wood, the St. Petersburg, the Feng Shui, and the Victorian Romantic decks, though I don't read with all of them.

A moment to talk about the decks I've since gifted away. The first is Peter Pracownik's Dragon Tarot. Other fantasy nerds (and note the use of other, there: I count myself among the benerded) went apeshit over this deck. I bought it mostly because it was different. It ended up being quite popular with the people I was reading for online at the time, but eventually I found the art a bit dull, inaccessible, and even juvenile. Sure, one air-brushed picture of a dragon in your bedroom when you're 14 is pretty cool, but a whole Tarot deck full of them (and it is almost nothing but blue, black, purple, and white, over and over again, with some red thrown in with the Wands and some green thrown in with the Coins) is overkill. Never mind that much of the art seems fairly disconnected from its RWS origins, almost like Pracownik decided to slap some Cups and Coins on his pre-existing art and call it a Tarot deck:

Sure I had the basic meanings and keywords of the cards (according to the RWS canon) I could draw on, but I found it impossible to extract any meaning or hint from the art whatsoever. After a couple years, I admitted to myself that this deck was a mistake and gave it away.

The next deck I released back into the wild was the Mystic Faerie deck. The art was much better than the Dragon Tarot. Vibrant colors, expressive figures, and a clear intent to actually convey meaning in every image instead of just HERE'S ANOTHER DRAGON:

The Art Nouveau style is also appropriate and a nice nod to Pamela Coleman-Smith's original art. What was cute (and clever) about this particular deck is that the images in each suit, from Ace to 10, tell a story of sorts, with the same figures undergoing different trials and eventually succeeding or failing—without messing around with the meanings of the cards. It's subtle at first, but then once you notice it (or until you get to that bit of the companion book), you can't unsee it. Ravenscroft's art is really quite lovely and I never hit a wall with it the same way I did with Pracownik's, but it became apparent that Fae imagery and folklore isn't really "my thing" either, so I sent this deck off to another owner.

I didn't take all of my decks with me during my trans-Atlantic move: the Gilded Tarot, the Feng Shui Tarot, and the Robin Wood Tarot are among the things I still have to pack up in the US. Out of those three, I haven't read with the Feng Shui in YEARS. It would probably be better off in the hands of someone more enthusiastic about Feng Shui and I Ching than I am now (I was at one point, but am no longer), but I can't bear to part with it until I know that I can find prints of the Major Arcana cards. The years have not dimmed my appreciation for the art in this deck.

(The Connollys renamed Death "Transition" in this deck.)

But as far as Tarot goes....well. This deck went to some weird places. The suits all have different names, instead referred to by an animal with the appropriate elemental association: Swords are White Tiger, Wands are Black Tortoise, Pentacles are Green Dragon, and Cups are Red Phoenix. I'm not schooled enough in Chinese metaphysics enough to argue whether these are correct associations, but it can be quite disorienting when you begin to read with this deck, especially if you're not well-versed with the elemental associations of Feng Shui (never mind that when you try to shoehorn a 5-element tradition into a 4-element system, things get wonky). People appear only in the Majors and in the Courts; on the pips, the image features just the animal in question, a setting that supposedly has some kind of specific Feng Shui energy, and a trigram in the bottom right. Like the Dragon Tarot, the Feng Shui Tarot is not a deck where you can easily intuit a card's meaning; I often found myself using the Tarot keywords (and my copy of the I Ching) to try to understand what was going on in the picture, to be honest. The art, at least, is lovely. I love the Majors but really the whole deck is some eye candy.

The Gilded and the Robin Wood I've used from time to time. I was in love with Robin Wood's art the moment I saw it in Tarot, Plain and Simple; I like it a little less now, but it's still lovely. The same goes for the Gilded Tarot. 

I save the Thoth for special occasions: readings for solar returns, the new year, and so on. I use the St. Petersburg Tarot for "the little things," you could say: day-to-day advice and frustrations. Soon after I purchased The Victorian Romantic deck I put it aside for special Story Duty so I haven't had too much of a chance to read with it yet.

Out of those five that I still read with, I'm not sure which one I would say is my favorite. I do love the miniature style of the St. Petersburg, though the images can often lack clarity. The Victorian Romantic has beauty as well as clarity. But then, those two are also my newest decks; who knows how I'll feel ten years from now!
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
An LJ friend elsewhere put out the call for readings from her reading-type friends. I stepped up to the challenge and developed an original 11-card spread based on her current situation. In particular, she wanted to know about the general energy/environment surrounding her and her family (husband, three sons) and what she can/needs to do to improve it, as life is pretty stressful at the moment.

I was inspired by the layout of a spread I saw many moons ago on Aeclectic. Its original purpose was to help a querent stuck between two choices; obviously that isn't really applying here. I also drew from the layout and content of the classic Celtic Cross spread.

Each pair of crosses at the top represent an individual: the querent (far left), her husband (far right), and their two oldest sons (middle). The youngest son is only an infant a few months old at the time of this writing—not an age where I think Tarot is an appropriate or useful descriptor of behavior or inner psychology.

The first card of each cross "covers" the person in the traditional Celtic Cross sense: describes themselves, their general situation/mood/etc. The second card "crosses" the individual and describes the root of their largest or most pressing issue/problem.

The bottom row of individual cards constitute the advice specific to the querent. From left to right: keep doing this, stop doing this, and try doing this.

The rest of this post is taken directly from the message I sent to the querent, reproduced here with her permission.

The reading. )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

For the writing project that I mentioned in my last post, I decided a good jumping-off point would be to have a section related to every Tarot card. Since the project is inherently open-ended, setting a limit would be one way of deciding when the story was "over" (or, just as likely, setting a minimum would be a good way generating enough material to work out something like a story arc). I went back through what I had written and decided one particular letter would be a good match for the Knight of Cups.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Knight of Cups in my St. Petersburg deck was missing. (And, also, the Ace of Coins.)

I've been a bad Tarot reader and couldn't recall if those cards had been missing forever or if it had been lost in one of the many international moves it's seen; I couldn't even recall what they looked like. This deck has also seen some abuse, otherwise. A few cards had met with a watery fate and while I had been able to dry the bulk of the wet cards to satisfaction, three or four hadn't fared so well.

What is a Tarot reader to do when some cards aren't doing so well, or are missing altogether?

Waite does not touch on such a minor tragedy in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot, nor does a solution manifest itself in the The Tarot of the Bohemians, by Gérard "Papus" Encausse or in Crowley's Book of Thoth. Unfortunately, I don't have access to their older, Francophone sources to see if this was simply overlooked or if the literature really is that quiet on the problem. If I am allowed a moment of speculation: these turn-of-the-century works are so focused on constructing perfect systems and representations, and on the universality of the Tarot, that for them a deck without all its cards would be a machine without a cog. It would work well enough, particularly in the hands of a skilled practitioner, but it seems they would recommend finding a replacement toute suite. Not necessarily the identical card, but at least a stand-in; a good reader will still be able to call up the mental image of the card as well as its associated meanings.

As for contemporary Tarot practitioners, there are lots of Internet anecdotes about people reading with less-than-full decks and the message still getting across, even if the card missing would be central to any readings given. This seems to be the overwhelming majority, though opposition exists. There is also the "Everything is Divine Providence" school of thought, who suggest that the missing cards are missing to tell you a message, whether it's to focus on that particular aspect of your life or to say, "Work with another deck!" Since I don't approach the Tarot religiously or spiritually, I have a tough time reconciling myself to that particular belief. I will meditate on the Ace of Coins and the Knight of Cups later tonight to see if they have any application to me currently, nonetheless.

When it comes to damaged cards, Biddy Tarot (as authoritative a source as any in contemporary Tarot, I suppose) suggests that a little wear and tear is nothing to worry about, unless you personally find it distracting. I am rather fond of that view, even if it is a little bit woo. It is nice to hold a card and be able to say, "Ah, this is from when this thing happened, I remember." The problem is that water damage can make the paper react in funny ways that are as irritating as they are charming, and even interfere with a truly random shuffle and cutting of the deck. That is the one thing I hold sacrosanct above everything else with the Tarot: true randomness.

Unless you personally find it distracting. That, I think, is the crux of this issue. I can't say when the cards in my deck disappeared; I certainly didn't notice anything peculiar about my readings with this deck at all. Since I didn't know then, I couldn't find it distracting. But now that I know, it'll bother me; all the more because of my current writing project. My Thoth deck has all of its cards, but it is simply Not the Right Deck for YNF.

So what am I going to do about my less-than-full deck? I decided to cash in an old Amazon gift certificate and buy another deck to add in the missing cards (and the damaged ones, while I'm at it), and keep it on hand in case of further disappearances/problems. The original deck is one I bought on a very special trip back in the day, so I'd like to keep it close to me as a memento.

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
YNF is a story idea I've had for a couple of years now, and I'm finally getting around to writing it. F moves into a new apartment and finds a box of letters written by KH, apparently to a local DJ. There is a story in the letters, of course, but also a story about F and how she responds to and interacts with the letters.

Some parts of the characters were still fuzzy to me as I began writing, so I sat down and tooled with my deck. Inspired by this court card technique I like so much as well as this Tarot constellation method, I shuffled the deck and then rifled through the cards. The first Knight, Queen, or King I pulled would be their Sun sign. I also paid attention to the cards that flanked this first court card.

Deck: Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg

For KH:

Sun sign: King of Coins (Taurus)
Destiny card: 7 Coins
Will cards: 5 and 6 of Coins
Other cards: High Priestess, Page of Cups

I had been unsure as to KH's gender; the fist card I pulled was The High Priestess, so that settled that issue for me. As for Page of Cups: an initiate into the realm of water: both in terms of emotions (the story is about KH reaching out for perhaps the first time in her life) but also mysticism and intuition. Initiate but not fully-experienced or well-learned. Knowing just enough to be dangerous, as it were.

For F:

Sun sign: Knight of Clubs (Sagittarius)
Destiny card: 10 of Wands
Will cards: 8 and 9 of Wands
Other cards: 3 of Swords, Queen of Coins (Capricorn), Emperor

The Queen of Coins ended up immediately flanking the Knight. My instinct is to make F's Moon sign (or the Hidden Teacher) Capricorn/the Queen of Coins, but we'll see. The 3 of Swords struck me, as it always does, and I put it aside. What heartache could she be carrying? Death, I decided. But who should die? A parent would be a nice mirror of KH's own life, but which parent? Well, there's the Emperor. That settles that. A perfect correspondence: two dead fathers.

There are other ways I could have interpreted the cards, of course. Especially for F. But when I use the Tarot for writing projects and other creative projects, I play more fast and loose. The important thing is to generate ideas.
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