English Magic Tarot

So I picked up this deck about a month ago. It was created by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley, Andy Letcher, and published by Weiser Books in 2016. I think I paid about $7 for my copy from Amazon. Changing Hands wanted $30. NO.

That having been said, I do like the deck–on the whole. The images are clear and bright, and done in a comic book style. The art reminds me a LOT of the Whitewolf games from the mid 90’s. I like the coloured borders for each suit as well. It makes it easier for beginners to learn each suit and pick them apart in a reading. This is basically a RWS clone, and so anyone familiar with that deck should be able to pick this one up and read with it without too many issues.

The downside is the cards are HUGE. I have small hands, even for a woman, and these cards are unwieldy in the extreme. I was afraid I’d bend them shuffling, but fortunately, I didn’t. The cardstock has a nice matte finish that photographs well, but seems sort of thin. There’s also no bag for the cards. They are stored in two piles inside an insert in the box. I don’t really like this as the top cards can slide around inside the box and get damaged.

The LWB is hardly little. It’s fully illustrated with a whole page about each card. They do explain some of the hidden bits in the images, but it still doesn’t change the fact it’s a RWS clone. It’s nicely designed and fits neatly on top of the cards inside the box.

I’ll use this deck upon request, but I’m not taking it anywhere. The lack of a box to fix the cards inside the main storage box is a pain. Also, the raw size of the cards make them difficult to use. So this is going to be a deck more for my collection than actually using. I’m just glad I got it for a song new instead of coughing up the full MSRP.

The box and book:

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The cards: English Magic

 

 

Blinding Dark

I haven’t updated in a while because $reasons. Anyway, I do more than just Tarot. Music is also my thing, esp. synthpop, Goth, and Industrial. Covenant has been one of my fave bands for close to 20 years now and this is their new album.

Soo…Blinding Dark…

Disclaimer: this album was NOT given to me for any compensation. Eskil Simonsson and Stefan Herwig (Head of Dependent Records) are old and dear friends of mine and I miss them both terribly. 😦 I got the hotshit box set as a birthday gift. Unfortunately, the top of the box has a bald patch where it got damaged in shipping. Eskil should just sign over the damage next time I see him. πŸ˜‰

I’m only reviewing the main disc, not Psychonaut or the supplemental materials, as I don’t know what version people will be getting. Also, bear in mind I have the European box set. The US version has a different track order that frankly doesn’t work well. I’d also like to get my hands on the schmuck who classed its genre as metal? Wait…what?

Here goes nothing:

1) Fulwell: this would be a good stage intro track. As an album track, it’s a smidge long and can be easily skipped.

2) I Close My Eyes: a lovely 90 bpm meditation in B-flat major. This song has been floating around since about 2009 or so. I’m glad it found a home. This is probably my fave song on the album by a very narrow margin. I can listen to this one on repeat for hours.

3) Morning Star: Interesting song and a logical evolution from their Europa-era material. I like the hip-hop-ish beat used here. Definitely has a menacing feel to it, and in a good way. It could be mistaken for a track taken from Northern Lights, though. Not a bad thing.

4) Cold Reading: I actually *like* the vocal effects in this song. This song is classic Covenant. There’s no ambiguity and sounds like an upgraded version of something off Sequencer. I would very much like to see this become a new club anthem instead of ‘Tears In Rain.’ Hear that, local DJs? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS (un)HOLY NO MORE TEARS IN GODDAMNED RAIN. YOU PLAY IT TOO FUCKING MUCH. But this track works as a companion piece or sequel to ‘Liquid Sky,’ another of my fave songs by them.

5) Rider On A White Horse: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? This is a cover of a Lee Hazelwood song. Thematically, sure, it fits the rest of the album. But it just doesn’t work. It definitely drags down the pace of the album while thankfully not bringing it to a screeching halt like ‘I Walk Slow’ did on Leaving Babylon. But Erica Li’s voice is like a chainsaw outside my window at noon waking me up (fucking annoying) and this song is just No. Nope. No. Nope. SKIP. They should have put ‘In Theory’ from the Sound Mirrors single on here. It would have worked better.

6) Interlude I: meh, generic. Daniel Meyer gets a pat on the head here for effort. I’m not really a Haujobb fan and this sounds like a Haujobb teaser. Next!

7) Dies Irae: Latin for Day of Wrath, we get a real song again. Definitely in the vein of material off Skyshaper and LB, but with a bit of an edge to it. I forget who wrote this, but I know it was one of those existential authors a hundred years ago. Some guy shouted out to the universe ‘I exist!’ and the universe said, ‘So what?’ That was the gist of it anyway and it’s pretty much the theme of the song.

8) Sound Mirrors (Fulwell): This is the main single off the album, and it was a good choice. I could do without the 45-second intro, but other than that, the song works. It’s a catchy, upbeat number that once again hearkens back to Northern Lights. Cut out the intro and it’d probably pack the dance floor. The soaring chorus *will* get stuck in your head for days. Also a good song for driving at speed across open desert at 3 am.

9) Interlude II: I’d reach up and give Andreas Catjar a pat on the head here for effort except I’d probably have to stand on a stepladder to do it. The guy’s what? 6’7? While this is better than the first Interlude, it still strikes me as filler more than anything.

10) If I Give My Soul: Tied with ‘I Close My Eyes’ for my fave on the album. Starting out very much like ‘The Men’ off Skyshaper, this goes into a very Tangerine Dreamish main song that reminds me a lot of ‘Crystal Voice’ off the Firestarter soundtrack. This is a good thing. Eskil: insecure much? I think everyone’s asked these questions of pretty much everyone else, whether they realize it or not.
– Call you? Absolutely, but the whole 8-9 hour time difference thing…email and Messenger are easier.
– Spit on you? Nope. Just don’t backwash if we wind up sharing drinks like usual, K?
– Die on you? I’ll try not to, but it wouldn’t be voluntary if I did. I’m too damned stubborn to go down without a hell of a fight.
– Leave you? Not unless you do or did something egregiously stupid or you lie to me, disrespect me, or take me for granted. But for being yourself? Nope–I’ll stick around for a while. You did summon me after all… πŸ˜‰
– Die FOR you? HAHAHA buddy I love you but not that much. I’ll more than likely outlive you anyway. *sigh*

11) Summon Your Spirit: A good idea that essentially peters out and goes nowhere. It’s way too long for what it does. It works as a closer, but should have only been a couple minutes long, not 5:19. This probably should have been edited to make it much shorter or scrapped entirely.

So on the whole, I do like this album. They’ve achieved full redemption after the slickly overproduced and soulless shell that was Modern Ruin. Leaving Babylon was the halfway mark. Their most accessible album remains Skyshaper, but this is tied for 2nd with United States of Mind. It could flow better, but it’s not the disjointed mess that the US track order is. I would have split it into three even sections with the interludes marking each one. Regardless, this is one that will grow on the listener with time.

**** or 4/5. It’s not perfect. Don’t miss it.

Hello Tarot!

So I got lucky a couple of weeks ago and found the Joe Rosales’ version of Tarot. This deck is VERY OOP and VERY unauthorized. Evidently Sanrio sent him a C+D and that’s why not too many copies were made. They protect their copyrights with the same ferocity Disney does.

Anyway, this is a Hello Kitty themed deck. It’s a RWS clone, but some of the images are different, but not by much. He even recommends Eden Gray’s Complete Guide to Tarot on the title card. It’s in B+W and it’s also a full 78 card deck with 54 Minors, 22 Majors, title card, and description card. It didn’t come with a box.

So here are some sample cards. I won’t be using this one for readings. First off, it’s rare and worth about 20x more than what I paid for it. Secondly, the cards are *thin* and feel only slightly thicker than printer paper. I don’t want them getting damaged. What I might do, though, is scan some more cards in and then color them or do whatever w/the scanned images. I don’t know. What I’m NOT going to do is alter it via lamination or coloring the cards directly. For now, I’m taking it out and gloating, then putting it back in the storage box. Enjoy!

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Principal Photography

Hey everyone, I’m still here, still alive, still chugging along. You can put away the crucifixes and holy water now. πŸ˜‰ Garlic? No effect. Hell, I love the shit. Sign me up for Bulgogi anytime. It’s Korean spiced and thinly sliced beef that’s grilled. It’s usually heavy on the garlic and red pepper paste. But I digress.

Sorry, going to Das Bunker’s 20th and K-town’s literally a mile and a half from the club. I’m thinking of dinner already. πŸ˜‰ Live octopus, anyone?

Anyway, back to my topic. I do a lot of online readings, and being able to take clear pictures is critical. I can describe a deck to a client, and have them look up the images, but honestly, it’s easier for me to take a clear photograph of the cards. This is often trickier than it sounds, because a lot of cards have a plastic high-gloss finish. It’s great for protecting the cards from damage, but not so hot for photography as the flash will often reflect off one or several of the cards. It’s like staring into the sun and it obscures the image. If that card happens to be a critical one in the reading, then that’s a BAD thing.

So I did a reading withΒ Barbara Moore’s Steampunk deck and I have to say I’m very pleased. The cards feel a smidge thin, but the matte finish is great for photography. Here, you’ll see what I mean:

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I won’t say what the subject was, or whom it was for, as that’s not the issue here. The cards are clear and bright with no glare. Each image can be clearly seen, with details, and the title of each card can be read clearly on the full-size image. That’s what the goal is in an online reading. Too many cards have a high gloss finish and I have to take 6-10 pictures to get one good one. This one came out perfect on the first image because of the matte finish. WP pares images down, so some clarity is lost here.

My camera is a Canon PowerShot A1000IS that my sister gave me probably about 7 or 8 years ago now. It’s hardly top of the line but it’s a good workhorse. It just chews through batteries something fierce. If you have a smartphone, the camera on that should also be good enough.

So for you wanting to dip your toe in the online pool, keep this in mind. Clients don’t like it when they can’t see their cards. The typed interpretation is important, but a good image helps the client follow the story. Oftentimes they’ll also notice things the reader may have missed, too.

For face to face readings, finish doesn’t matter so much. There it’s do the cards have a coating that can protect them from things like spilled drinks. I do a lot of readings in clubs and restaurants, so this is important. It’s also the reason I use mass-market decks for personal readings and leave the rare ones at home. I don’t want my oop ones getting wrecked.

Until next time…

 

 

 

Zolar’s Astrological Tarot

So I got lucky a couple weeks ago and scored this weird little thing off Ebay. US Games published it from 1982 until fairly recently–I want to say 2014?–but before then, it was published by Zolar’s publishing company.

 

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The box has wear. I’ll probably tape it as I don’t buy stuff like this for an investment. I buy it because I like it. Getting it for what I did with the box and the LWB was definitely a score. The cards are in near mint condition and were probably never used. The colour change around the edges is likely due to age.

 

It’s an odd little deck. It’s 56 double sided cards. The Minor Arcana are on one side, and this includes the Knights of each suit. The Major Arcana are on the other side along with astrological cards to fill in the gaps. I’m not sure how to use the astrological cards as such. The Tarot part I can do in my sleep.

 

The colour scheme leaves a lot to be desired. It’s bold, it’s clean, but orange and mint green? Really? I think it was originally salmon pink, and it does appear pinkish orange when not in pictures, but 50+ years have changed things. Colour plates can change as they age and this may be the case here. I don’t know. I’d like to get my hands on a USG copy but they’ll cost me about $50 a pop. I could also do without the keywords printed on each card, but at the same time, it’s part of the deck’s charm. The side of the box says ‘Nothing to learn!’ Hell, where’s the fun in that?!?

 

The cardstock is on the thin side. I wouldn’t trust it. Then again, I’ve had really thin decks that I thought would crease or fall apart and they still hold up. Yes, Lo Scarabeo, I’m looking at you. Still, though, I wouldn’t subject these to a lot of use just because of their age.

 

The main thing that gets me, though, is the fact the cards are double-sided. The flip side of the Moon is the 8 of Pentacles/Diamonds. So the two can never appear in the same reading in this deck. That’s ridiculous. Any readings with this deck will lose a lot of nuance just because of this. Also, how is the user to tell which side is the front and which side is the back of each card? Usually decks will have uniform backs. Maybe this was an attempt to save cardstock, but it doesn’t work. Maybe the sitter is supposed to close their eyes when they shuffle? Uhh…sure, whatever.

 

I’m still glad I scored a copy for my collection, though. This is a deck that probably should not be revived. I can’t see where experienced readers could really use this well. It’d also just confuse the hell out of beginners. If people want keywords, they can try to scare up a copy of the Starter Tarot, which does have keywords on each card, or take a marker and write keywords on each card in their deck. It’s up to the user, basically. As for ME reading with this deck, it’s not going to happen unless someone specifically requests this. It’s an interesting novelty, though.

 

 

IT LIVES

Hey folks,

I’m just poking my head in the door to let you all know I’m alive, okay, and ready to read your cards. I know I haven’t updated in six months. Life got in the way.

Basically it boils down to:

  1. I didn’t have all that much to say recently regarding Tarot. If there’s nothing new to say, why rehash the same old crap?
  2. Allergies. As some of you know, I’m asthmatic with a nasty permanent case of hay fever. Phoenix is the worst in the country for airborne allergens in the spring, so *everyone* suffers. In any case, my life basically shuts down from around Christmas to the beginning of May for this reason. Prednisone may be a fun ride but one of its side effects is incoherency. No thanks.
  3. I’m currently restoring all my data from a complete hard drive crash. Lesson learned: BACK MY SHIT UP. I’ve been restoring things for the last three weeks and I’m *almost* done. Mainly I lost a few pdf files and mp3s, but I know where to scare those up. Still. Once again, lesson learned. BACK MY SHIT UP. *downs triple vodka gimlet and cries*

So I’m still on my cartomancy adventure and if you feel like joining me for the ride, great! This is where I’ve been. Where I’m going, I’m not so sure of that yet.

This works?

So I get asked frequently, ‘Does Tarot work, and if so, how?’ I’ll be the first to say it *does* work, but I have no idea how or why. Hell, I’m not sure if I’m not abusing the hell out of the Forer/Barnum effect or not. Basically, the Forer effect states that people will assume generalizations apply to them specifically, when in reality, they apply to a wide swath of the population. It’s a good example of a cognitive bias, and knowing it’s there goes a long way to boosting critical thinking skills. Then again, I’ve pulled details out of the ether that I figured were BS, only to find later I was spot on in a big way. Like a friend of mine said, ‘Does it really matter if you’re abusing a bias or not? If people feel empowered to deal with whatever situation they’re facing, you’ve done a good job.’ He has a point. The argument could also be made that if the bias is abused, vague generalities are of no use. I have a feeling this debate will rage on endlessly, much like the charge or not to charge debate.

Another thing I get a lot is that the cards tell my client what they already know. Well, duh, that’s actually the point. And sometimes, we need a visit from this guy to get us back on track:

: hotels-com-spring-break-sale-captain-obvious-workout-bathroom-large-8

Sometimes something that seems obvious isn’t, and something that shouldn’t be is. A lot of times it’s because the client is too close to the situation to SEE the obvious until it’s pointed out–and then they just lean forward and do the double facepalm. Other times, Cap’n Obvious needs to smack someone upside the head repeatedly with a baseball bat to get the message through. Situations vary.

Here’s the thing, though–yeah, often times the cards will tell the client what they already know. They’ll also advise the best course of action for a given situation. A reading is a snapshot, nothing more. It’s like a weather report in a lot of ways. Change the circumstances, change the outcome. Most of the time, the sitter can do a lot more to shift things in their favour than they realize. Whether or not they choose to take responsibility is up to them, not me. All I can do is show a way. Getting mad at me for not telling them what they want to hear is like getting mad at the GPS because the guy in front of them got T-boned by a red light runner and now they’re stuck in a traffic jam. Shit happens and we can rise to the occasion or not. Our call.

I’m not going to tell you when the love of your life is going to come into your life because I simply don’t know. I’m not going to give you the winning lotto numbers because I don’t know. Hell, if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be sharing them! I can’t tell you how long will you live because, you guessed it, I don’t know. Does life have a higher purpose? I have no idea. And I’m not a medium, so don’t ask me what your dead grandparents think because I can’t know. I make no claims to be psychic, and people may assume that, but then that’s on them. How does the Tarot give guidance? I have no fucking clue. All I know is that it does, and if I can help people, then my job is done.