Saturday 8 October 2016

Stiffen the Sinews

Halloween Tarot

Congratulations, Titch - we made it through another year. Bear Grylls and the Island would totally be a breeze for us.

uncredited as I cannot find the source or creator of this image

It takes a certain very warped specialized skillset to find versions like the one below. You're welcome.

Friday 23 September 2016

Tarot Blog Hop Mabon 2016: The Cook's Tarot Review

For the second time this year, I've been drawn to join in again with the quarterly Tarot Blog Hop - host Jay Cassels' brief was this:

It is at this time in the Wheel of The Year, our ancestors would traditionally start to harvest and begin to store food for the winter. In the spirit of tradition it was suggested that this Tarot-Blog-Hop be about food; however those of you that have ever read my posts in the previous hops know I do tend to stay on topic but go off in strange tangents (similar to this funnily enough)...
Okay so the title of our blog hop this time is Foodies Guide to the Tarot and the premise or brief is actually quite open. I'd like you to take your readers on a gastronomy (foodie to everyone else) tour of the Tarot...
I decided to share with you a review of a quirky little food-themed deck - The Cook's Tarot, created by Judith Mackay Stirt, published by Schiffer, ISBN: 978-0-7643-4620-0.

When this book & deck set came up for review, I thought it might be interesting since I already own the Epicurean Tarot, also food-based. This – if you’ll excuse the pun – is a completely different kettle of fish.

The author/artist Judith Mackay Stirt has a Jamaican background, and the colors of her deck are certainly tropical in tone; the art is primitive in style and the cards being borderless and oversize (3 ¼’’ x 5 ½’’/9.5cm x 14cm) means their impact is more immediate. I was not surprised to see the World Spirit deck referenced in the bibliography, as the art style is similar; I am sad to say, it puts me in mind of the reproductions used as décor in some restaurant chains. The deck and cards are packaged in a sturdy, glossy lidded box; the shiny yet somewhat sticky feel of the cards is typical of many decks printed in China.

Looking through the cards, one is instantly stuck by the humor evident in several of the depictions; I particularly noticed the following:

Obviously the cook from the 10 of Swords needs more practice in making a spatchcock chicken ! However, true cooks still sneer at the use of microwaves:

And in addition these renderings made me see a connection between the 4 of Pentacles, XV The Devil and XI Justice:

And between the 5 of Swords and XI Justice:

For me, the most interesting part of the accompanying book was the author’s description of her creative and artistic journey - so fascinating to have a rare glimpse into what is a very individual and personal process.

Five spreads are given at the beginning of the book, but the only unusual one is the ‘Maitre d’ Spread: and not just because a Maitre d’ is a professional who works with chefs, not cooks in a home kitchen – it is shaped like a body and the card positions represent the ‘head, heart and guts of the situation’.

The symbols of the suits are not consistent throughout, but are easily recognizable, whether it is cups, goblets or jugs representing Cups, or matches, cats’ tails or baguettes representing Wands; Swords are of course knives (or cleavers) with clever alternatives like novelty cocktail sticks or so very appropriately, skewers in the 9 of Swords. Pentacles are shown by pizza, cupcakes or even fruit.

Although the art and color are crude, some of the symbolism is not; I especially appreciated the Ace of Swords; I wondered if VIII Strength is referencing Obeah, and indeed the author in the end refers to the ‘sorceress’:

The card interpretations given in the book are standard, but the summaries given under the header ‘Kitchen Wisdom’ seem to be a poor fit, being a mix of proverbs, sayings and simple advice, very little of which is connected to cooking, food or kitchens.

The author addresses the most obvious and glaring omission in her preface, where she tells us this deck is ‘not a culinary guide, or about recipes and wine-pairing’; it seems a shame to miss such a great opportunity to share some of recipes for the foods that must have affected the author’s path in creating a ‘Cook’s Tarot’, even if it was merely to include the recipes from ‘Dining with the Major Arcana’ (self-published).

Overall, a charming little deck with evident great personal meaning for the creator; for others, look beyond the obvious and immediate impressions in order to get the best from it: the art style may fool you into thinking there’s little of substance, but you’d be mistaken.

                                                © Vivianne Kacal 2015
(1st published on the TABI Blog 2015)

Friday 19 August 2016

Floral Triumphs Summer 2016

Whimsical Tarot

I have found it less challenging and more enjoyable to maintain our patio garden this summer; and in spite of prior experience, ''hope springs ...'' yaddayadda ... I planted a few types of seeds, mainly bought on sale. Most impactful (apart from the French and Runner beans standing at well over 8 foot high and who belong firmly in Titch's domain) was the amaranthus, a.ka. Love Lies Bleeding.

The seeds are tiny, and my record with seeds isn't good, so I threw caution to the wind along with the seeds themselves, and sowed them all.

Of course, they all germinated, so I gave some seedlings away, and since I can't be fiddling with teeny stuff, planted some in kind of clumps - I figured, Nature will thin them for me. It worked:

That said little yellow flower in the middle ? That's Thunbergia (Black-Eyed Susie) of which I also had many sprouts, but when planted out refused stubbornly to really go upwards like the voracious climber it claimed to be on the packet.

The clary sage and the cerinthe did not emerge; the nasturtiums looked fabulous draping from my front planter - for about a day until the blackfly found them. I bugsprayed them but I think that just overwhelmed the plants, who crumpled and withered accusingly.

I missed the opportunity to take a photo of my dahlia in its full glory (the pic was taken a month ago when my Asiatics were also beginning to bloom) - it was maybe £2/US$2.62 to buy the tuber, but man, you get some bang for your buck ! It flowers forever ! Well, OK several weeks, anyway. My mother didn't like them - along with gladioli, she thought they were vulgar, but they're a great splash of longlasting color. Now if they were scented ...

But my favorite this summer happened accidentally: I had a couple of pelargoniums (which us oldies like to still call geraniums) - including a scented-leaf variety -  and a random hardy fuchsia hanging around, so I bunged them all into a pot, and look what happened:

I have very carefully tried to avoid any photos showing the actual patio slabs, because it is in desperate need of weeding, which is Someone Else's job always and forever and ever amen. I'll let you know how that goes ...

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Baby Love

Victorian Romantic Tarot

The kids have gone to my MIL for a couple of weeks, but I have not leaped into my usual annual frenzy of deep-cleaning, as Mini Diva's parting gift was a particularly foul cough & cold which has seen me curled up on the sofa alternately burning up and shivering. I have avoided the I.D channel in case it gave me ideas, and instead have been wedged on NatGeoWild so I've been watching wildlife die instead. Most of the victims get eaten, which is fairly rare on the I.D channel.

No, I don't understand why you would call me gloomy and morose.

After dwelling too much on endings, I can tell you my neighbor has a new beginning - Baby was born fine and healthy in July.

Well, of course I had made some things, I love an excuse to make baby clothes.

No, I wasn't even a tiny bit broody.

Yes, I am lying. 

This is a pattern I've made a few times - Bonnie by Patons. I like it for the unusual side fastening design, and the choice of 2 motifs for the centre; I didn't bother with a motif this time as I was using Peter Pan Cupcake, which looks kind of lacklustre in the photo, but is amazingly soft and squooshy. I made the 6 month size so Baby can wear it in Winter.

 I loves me some cables, and have made this before as a school cardigan for Destructo Boy - which was stolen from school never to be seen again. Which I guess is a kind of compliment. There aren't so many cables as to be too fussy on such a small item in Sirdar 1561 so I chanced my arm on using Sirdar Snuggly Baby Cotton yarn (very unforgiving of errors) to make this again. The cute owl buttons finish it off perfectly.

This was a simple pattern (Sirdar 1354 which must have been my sister's as it's not the kind of style I would buy) - anything else would have been wasted with this Sirdar Tiny Tots yarn; the texture was a bit stiff until it was washed. 

All the yarns I used were bought at rock-bottom prices - as in, 79p/$1.03 per ball (yes, look at that horrendous exchange rate; thank you, Brexit) a ball type prices from the marvellous Kemps clearance section.

Things will be a bit quiet on the baby-clothes knitting for some while, as I don't know anyone who is expecting ... time to focus on larger projects ...

Monday 1 August 2016

Tarot Blog Hop Lammas 2016: Opposites


Maureen Aisling Duffy-Boose is the hostess for this tarot blog hop, the first one this year in which I have felt drawn to participate:

This Hop celebrates the festival of Lughnassadh, Lammas, Loaf-Mass, and many other names. It has historical lore connected to a tale of Lugh Lámhfhada (Lugh of the Long Arm) or his alternate title, Lugh Samhildánach (Lugh of the Many Skills), who is a primary harvest Deity in Celtic lore. In the oldest Irish lore, the festival is celebrated in honor of the funeral games of Tailtiu, the foster-mother of Lugh, who had died of exhaustion after clearing a huge tract of forestland by hand in order that the crops which were being overrun by the armies of the Tuatha de Danaan and the Fir Bolg might be re-planted, so that the people might not starve. Lugh is a primary God of the Harvest in Ireland, and in Christian times, the first-fruits of the grain, harvested in the month of August, were baked into the sacred bread of which the Holy Communion was made in the churches, giving rise to the name "Loaf-Mass" for the festival celebration. In any case, this feast in all the Celtic lands has a particular relevance to the way we interpret the Tarot, for the reason that it is focused on a "union of opposites", celebrating both the bounty of the land which is yielding the Harvest, and honoring the memory of a beloved Elder who dies in the process of making this Harvest possible. 

 So, for this "Hop", let's do some exploring of the "union of opposites" and take a look at the cards with this in mind.

 I feel like a bit of a cheat - when I sat down to write this post, about 2 cards that represent opposing but necessary parts of a cycle, I realized I had already spoken about this idea, here

Here is the soundtrack to go with the cards:


So this time, winging it, let's discuss the symbolism in XIII Death that indicates the new growth that comes after ... one of my favorite versions is from the Hudes deck:

The Hudes is a sparse deck, not overloaded with color or images; but it's very starkness means that the symbols that are depicted have more impact - and here the butterfly symbolizing transformation and new life is in addition located in the pelvic region (sex and new life) of Death's skeleton.

All these versions contain the signs of new life to follow:

 Darkana Tarot Halloween Tarot Crystal Visions Tarot

 Shadowscapes Tarot                                New Palladini Tarot                              Tarot for Cats

 Animism Tarot Crystal Tarot 

It is more of a challenge to find Marseilles-type decks with imagery of transformation, but it can be done:

Tarot Noir BOTA Tarot Daniloff Tarot

Of course, if you consider those decks which retitle Death to 'Transition' or some such bowdlerized name, there are several 'fluffy bunny' versions to be ignored; in this category instead we seek cards which retain the darkness, and my (not exhaustive) search found only one:

Wildwood Tarot

If you know of any renamed 'Death' cards that are not Happy Squirrel-type cards, please let me know in the comments section. 

I imagine it would be an interesting if time-consuming exercise to see how many other tarot cards contain opposites in their imagery - if you have found any, please let me know in the comments section.

Now you may fall back to Joanne's blog, or trip forward to Boglarka's blog ...

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Tuesday 5 July 2016

Not So L YS

Prairie Tarot

So back when life was kind of normal and the debacle of Brexit and it's lily-livered architects was unforeseen, we took Mini Diva and a couple of her club squad to a rugby camp organized by England and professional rugby player, Rachel Burford, in the charming little town of Beccles. Unfortunately the winding narrow country roads that lead there created somewhat of a budget white-knuckle ride for me, but my shaking hands were calmed by tea sipped through a straw, it being too early for gin. Well, too early for me to be seen drinking gin openly, anyway.

Having deposited the girls, Titch and I decided to roam the wild and unknown streets of Beccles in search of entertainment:

We accidentally went into a craft shop ( I shan't name it, to spare their blushes) where the ambience was so forbidding and the one salesperson of 3 present was so hostile that we slunk out like a dog that's just peed in your shoe.

Luckily, this was not the general experience we had in Beccles - everyone else was friendly, helpful and chatty. I was especially pleased to find a Tardis of a (not so Local) Yarn Shop, The Needlecraft Shop: it looked like an old-fashioned haberdashery shop from the outside, there was no clue as to the rich variety and range of yarns until one had trickled through the door:

There were 4 separate sections of the shop, of which 3 were yarn-related. The ladies on duty were friendly and welcoming, chatty but without any pressure to buy. Of course, one is obligated to buy something from such a lovely shop, one must contribute to its survival - and as yarn purchases were not part of the plan for the day, a little ball of something or other would have satisfied my moral conscience as well as my practical one.

However, Titch had different ideas, and spoiled me by buying me a(nother) sweaters' worth of a delicious green aran yarn, two 400grm/ 892yds/ 816m balls:

And his generosity extended to matching buttons:

Now all I need is a pattern: help me out ... I want a cardigan, longline, with pockets. No open fronts - I want to use these buttons. I like cabling, and lace, not necessarily together: hit me with your suggestions, please.

Thursday 30 June 2016


  Robin Wood Tarot                                  Zombie Tarot                               RWS                                               Victorian Romantic

 I don't usually post anything political - but the recent earthquake that was the Brexit vote stunned and horrified me. I am trying to deal with the personal aspects of such destruction: one of the consequences is that I have been pondering the concept of forgiveness - there are people who I cared about, who have decimated my childrens' and my country's future.

Every time I think that I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, that I can accept and move on, someone not only rubs salt in the wound but pokes it with a sharp and dirty stick by posting a flippant and/or snide and gloating meme or supercilious comment - and I am reminded exactly what was at stake, what has been lost: I am back to square 1. I am not ready. Those who keep the wounds fresh with their lack of understanding and compassion ensure I won't be ready for some while longer, as I also consider what kind of people they are that they can behave like this.

If I do eventually reach the point of being able to engage with these people, how I think and feel about them has been permanently altered.

Friday 15 April 2016

The Grass is Greener ...

Spiral Tarot

You know how it is, you spend hours and hours trawling the interwebz on a quest to find the perfect eyelash yarn - yes, didn't you know there can be eyelash yarn that is not only wanted but needed ?!

 I know, it's not everyone who can link Meatloaf and knitting - you're welcome.

Anyway. I found some that looked just right for what I needed - something grass-like in color and texture, King Cole Moments in 'Lime':

What arrived illustrates perfectly the perils of shopping online:

ouch ! my eyes ! my eyes !

All in a tizz, I instantly emailed the eBay seller, habby-knitters, begging to return and exchange it, explaining that I had been anticipating something more in the way of Irish or even Surrey fields than those of Chernobyl. 

In response, I received an email telling me to keep the 'Lime' and they would send me something more truly grass-like. In fact, they sent me four more balls without any charge:

I could make some witty comments about the dumping of nuclear waste, but actually I just wanted to give habby-knitters a shout out for excellent customer service, exceeding by far the minimum solution I'd been hoping for. It's always a (rare) pleasure to be able to really be surprised, touched and pleased by top notch service, and to want to tell others about it.