Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Ace of Round Oak Tables

I’ve been hit with the inspiration stick again. I thought this was just an anomaly and that I had recovered from last year’s overdose of creative juices. But, no.

My new deck, the Tea Tarot, is at the printer now and I hope to have it available at the end of April. My goal is to drag some copies to the Readers Studio 2011 in New York that last weekend.

You haven’t heard of the Readers Studio? I went for the first time last year and was treated like a queen. It did help that my banquet costume was the Queen of Pentacles. Sometimes, if you want to be treated like a queen, you do need to wear a crown. And a regal gown helps too. I was the Queen of Indulgence last year, dressed in my crimson and gold. There were several other Queens of Pentacles last year, too. One of the nice things about fun times with a large group of tarot readers is that we really don’t care if there is more than one representation of a card.

I’m not sure what I’ll be treated like this year, if it’s dependent on my costume. But I know based on the people I met last year and those I know through various social media that the gang is a nice bunch. Some are shy and some are bold. Some read professionally and some read just for themselves. They may be history lovers who crave old images of the Marseilles-style decks. They may be Crowley-Thoth fans. They may love the imagery from the Rider-Waite-Smith decks and their many, many clones. They may be Manga fans, Steampunk-knowledgeable, Lenormand-lovers and there are at least three GO players. Some have encyclopedic knowledge of symbolism, history, color, costume, psychology, metaphysics and beliefs. Some are new to it all. But they all have in common a love of tarot and a thirst to learn just a little bit more.

This year we’re going to have a parade of tarot for those of us brazen enough to be part of the pageant. My fond wish would be that we had a representative from each of the major arcana to echo the procession of triumphs from northern Italy. I was brave this year and determined to be one of the major card characters. I have the dress, the props, the whole catastrophe. I’m ready!

I’m almost ready, anyway. I did make significant headway this evening after work with a brief trip to my local craft chain store where they had what I needed, thank goodness, for both the outfit and the packaging for my new deck. I’m steering clear of releasing details, you notice. It’s not easy when you’re about to bubble over with excitement.

But that’s what happens when I get inspired. It’s that Ace of Wands thing that sets off a chain reaction of all kinds of connections and ideas. It can be like a great big match that sets me on fire with ideas, big and small, details and broad brushes. It usually means that I stay up late and wake up wishing I had not stayed up late.

This is really an Ace of Wands time of year, too, when spring tugs at the earth. Whether you are in a milder climate like mine where my lilacs, calla lilies and freesias are blooming or if you are just now suspecting there are crocus under all that snow, new growth is happening. There will be spring. There will be flowers. There will be green leaves on those trees. The robins and cedar waxwings have stripped all the red berries from the shrub outside my office window. The snowball bush is leafing out. The camellias next door have bloomed and browned. The finches have run out of birdseed twice since Christmas, at least the part the squirrel-acrobat did not steal. There will be spring.

A couple of friends and I got together for what was supposed to be our Christmas get-together last weekend. We had been trying to exchange Christmas gifts and circumstances conspired to delay our good time. But we sat down for a fabulous forbidden Benedict at the counter at Marvin’s in Novato, waiting patiently outside in the not-quite-drizzling weather for a seat. We exchanged presents and hugs and talked about our fast-approaching weekend getaway in the Northern California redwoods.

Like some flowers, some ideas grow only on new growth but some grow only on old stems. We have been friends for 20 years and every year we give ourselves a project, something just for ourselves. This year, the idea stemmed from the terrible recent events in Japan and the knowledge that we all live in an earthquake zone, all under the warnings of “The Big One.” That inspired me to suggest that we all create, and decorate of course, our own home emergency kits. There are some excellent lists of things to put in this kit. We all agreed that we would need to “bling it up” to personalize our kits. To meet the sometimes beer budget with always-champagne tastes, we determined we would let each one purchase her own carrier. I found a perfectly good one at the local drugstore for $6 but I’m sure I may see something far classier than mine. I suggested that along with the requisite sparkly stuff, glow-in-the-dark decorations were likely in order. After all, in an emergency, I’m going to want to find that bag and there may not be electricity.

We turned to thoughts of spangles, beads, glitter and glue-guns and determined that the antique shop down the street could have some elegant old rhinestone pieces or interesting buttons to add to the project. And there I saw it. No, not a sparkly! It was my very own Ace of Wands. It was the round oak pedestal table with the lion paws I had envisioned for years in my dining room, complete with 4 leaves. And while it wasn’t quite a song, it was a price I was willing to pay. Happy dance! I have found my birthday present to myself!

So in honor of spring and inspiration and my new table, which seats 6 comfortably without even using the leaves, I made a card for a deck that doesn’t exist. It’s my very own Ace of Wands, now sitting in my dining room waiting for its first meal, or game of dominoes or tarot spread.

May inspiration grab you by the shirt-tail and swing you around in the spring air so that you soar to new heights and feel the buzz of new life, whether your stems are old or new!

Best wishes!

*** *** ***

Find out more about the Readers Studio 2011 here: http://www.tarotschool.com/RS11/index.html

And for more information about the Tea Tarot and my other decks, visit http://marciamccordtarotreader.blogspot.com/p/tarot-decks.html

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sign of Four

No, this isn’t Sherlock Holmes speaking. It’s just me again. Four has been on my mind today. The Emperor is IV and often is said to represent Aries. We just had that Super Moon, meaning a super-close full moon. My thanks to all those people who posted their photos on Facebook.  Here we had rain and clouds, so I had to use my imagination. But along with that Super Moon we had the vernal equinox, that day when night and day are even heralding the first day of spring and the first degree of Aries. I’m an Aries fan. It’s my sun sign. I like beginnings of things, along with the middles and ends.

Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

As one of my fours, The Emperor is the guy who makes decisions for the overall good of the empire. Not all of those decisions are popular but the Emperor is the one who makes them. Very recently I made a couple of decisions of my own. Two were to end a couple of affiliations that no longer worked for me. They were very personal decisions. They weren’t entirely popular with the people affected by them. But looking at my own long term stability, growth and happiness, they were right for me.

When I know a decision is not going to be easy, I really like the “Dear Abby” method of arriving at an answer. Dear Abby’s advice usually applies to people stuck in between the decision to leave or stay with a commitment, usually in discussing an abusive, once-romantic relationship. The question is, Are you better off with them or without them?

In both cases, I considered that question carefully. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the decision, like the Emperor taking care of the good of his empire first. But I also wanted to treat the topic with dignity as much as possible, including making sure in the process of the discussion that along with being clear and careful of others’ dignity I also preserved my own. I tend to sacrifice that. Maybe that’s part of The Hanged Man being part of my birth cards.

Since part of the lesson of the Emperor is that, when you implement something, like making a decision, you can’t always control everything about it, the “four” part of the Emperor talks about stability and that while a temporary ruckus might ensue from your decision, eventually stability and order and safety and balance are the goals. Sometimes the most important thing to remember is that your own personal empire has boundaries.

Boundaries are a funny thing. Some people view the stretch of territory beyond that boundary to be wilderness ready for annexation. They risk or ignore or perhaps just don’t care that on the other side of their empire is likely someone else’s empire or at least their patch of grass. Boundary issues, we call it.

Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

Sticking to your own boundaries can be seen in another four in the tarot, the 4 of Pentacles. Sometimes this is called the “miser” card but a little more broadly this can be thought of as the prudent use of resources. Not only does it talk about curbing that wild spending streak (Inner Child: Well, THAT’S no fun. Outer Me: We haven’t heard from YOU in a while), but it also talks about maintaining stability with what you truly control and not trying to go beyond those boundaries. So, while I might wish to assuage any hurt feelings caused by misunderstanding my decisions, ultimately the only person’s feelings I really control are my own.

I can still wish no one had been upset by my decisions or hurt by misunderstandings. But like the 4 of Pentacles, there’s a point where going beyond my own scope is not productive to me or to others. Sometimes you just have to sit tight and wait for people to adjust to the change. I owe them that, at least. It’s a sign of respect.

Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

I could actually make things worse if I spoke out further than my original statement. There’s a certain wisdom to the advice, “Don’t apologize. Don’t explain” especially if you have the urge to do it “pro-actively” when someone didn’t actually come to you for the apology or explanation. Sometimes, well meant good will can serve to make the conflict worse. So, another four pops up, the 4 of Swords. Give it a rest. That’s advice to yourself, of course. Saying that to someone else is likely to get neither of you any rest!

One of the two decisions was first very clear. The other party wanted to end the association and left a voicemail with clear instructions. I happened to save it just in case I was listening with too much emotion at the time. But in contemplating the decision and listening again, I had to agree. I was truly better without the association. And then it got confusing. They wanted a face-to-face discussion. I wasn’t sure what that would accomplish other than to make me feel worse than I already did. I agreed with them. We’re done.  But I don't need a meeting.  We're just done and I wish them well.

Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

And surprise, that made things worse instead of better. Since I’m so much more comfortable with new beginnings than endings, drawing out the conflict can even desensitize you to others’ feelings and it certainly does little to help them understand your own. So yet another four, the 4 of Cups, says, I’ll pass on the drama too. No, I didn’t need to meet. ‘Nuff said.

Strangely, with the parting of the ways in both situations, I felt oddly liberated. Sometimes it’s hard to know when you have a burden until you set it down for a while. Gee, that’s better! Breathe in the good air! The conflict that had been there a while was resolved for me by just letting go. No more trying to figure out a way to make it better without any real hope of it getting better. I love that Russian proverb: When the horse is dead, get off. Simple.

Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

Nope, I’m not going to go into the details of either situation. They were professional associations and not dear personal ones. They weren’t my main source of income, just connections that I had hoped would be mutually beneficial. That little bit of distance helps to make the change easier for me and I hope for them too. Instead, I’d rather turn my energy to something more productive, something worth my time, something with a future, something like the 4 of Wands.

I love the 4 of Wands. It is stability without stagnation. It is energy expended without being dissipated and wasted. I’m Aries; I’m a fire sign. The 4 of Wands is the 4 of Fire and it can be seen as that cozy hearth-fire that serves, warms without burning and welcomes others to thaw beside it. My own hearthfire has taken the form of creating a new tarot deck, something cozy and warm, the Tea Tarot. It soothes. It refreshes. It takes the sting out of the day. It brightens the mind and warms inside and out. It can be the groundwork for a new beginning, a solid foundation and energetic.  And I hope you will enjoy it!

Best wishes and calm, warm thoughts to all!


Pre-orders for the Tea Tarot are available now. Want a sneak peek? Click on the link Tarot Decks in the upper right side in the information bar. Shall I pour?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Please Donate for Japan Relief

Instead of my usual fun post this week, I'd like to urge everyone to please donate to the organization of their choice to assist the people of Japan.  This link will take you to the American Red Cross:

Some things are just more important than others.  This is one of those.

Best wishes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In 10’s

I don’t pretend to be able to write in “text message” speak but from what I can gather it’s a lot like an entire book condensed to the size of a license plate. My best guess is that the severe abbreviations were born out of necessity as text messages have a maximum length much shorter than a graphic novel and suit the nano-minded young ‘un’s level of patience and concentration. Most texters seem to be those whom we slower, older folk diagnose, rightly or wrongly, as the ADHD crowd. We oldsters, so many of us having fallen prey to the idealist Liberal Arts educational opportunities of our time, may also take a moment to despair of the deterioration of the English language in general and spelling in the specific. The root of the difference is at least accurate: the whippersnappers go faster than we ageless beauties and revived virtuosos do.

Art Postcard Tarot
(c) copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

My last couple of weeks, especially the weekends, have been really action packed and intense. In text lingo I think that would translate to “in 10’s” and perhaps stereotypically and a bit behind the times would be expressed as “in 10’s, dude.” This time, though, there is recognizable connection between my intense last few days and the 10’s in the tarot. My tens in tarot are the Wheel of Fortune and the Tens of Cups, Wands, Pentacles and Swords.

The Wheel of Fortune makes me aware of the passage of time and its effects, for good or ill. Some days you’re the windshield; some days you’re the bug. The passage of time can be all too fast. I was just getting used to thinking of my friend Sandy as a mother of three and just this week her third grandchild was born. It’s a girl! (Toss the flower petals now.) Some things just seem to sneak up on you. When the wheel spins, you can land up or down and it’s so lovely to have some happy news to celebrate. Welcome, little Sophia!

That wheel can spin a little too slowly, too, as in: When am I ever going to get rid of this cold? I mean I’m grateful -- grateful, truly-- that my symptoms are nothing like last month’s torture on the rack with the flu. This cold, though, is like static cling, the cat urine of viruses that will not wash out no matter what remedy is applied. It’s evil, I tell you. Just when I think I’m feeling better, a whole new wave of congestion and explosive expletive/cough/sneeze/choke combinations come at the most inopportune time.

Art Postcard Tarot
(c) copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

“How are you feeling?” asks my Nordic goddess chiropractor. “Oh, fine,” I lie and barely spit out the words before I’m red-faced and purple eyed with a new seizure of viral noises that would scare dragons away from their caves. “Fine,” I gasp, finally able to get my breath again. Really? Really?

I may have spent the afternoon at work with relative ease of airways but the moment I step into a social situation where I least want to share my most intimate Velcro of a virus, there I go, sneep, snort, hork, choke, gargle, honk and finally, with a swipe of the ever-present tissue, sniff. Yep, I’m ready to put the ol’ 10 of Swords in this baby, cut this microbe off at the knees. OK, cut it off at the molecule. Whatever. I’m done. Quick, Henry, the Flu Flit or whatever viral insecticide will pounce on this thing like the Glee Lady’s limo cat’s story about the cat crushing the mouse. I want to sleep through the night, breathe through my nose and have an adult conversation about any topic other than over-the-counter cures.

Art Postcard Tarot
(c) copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

So in spite of this liar, this cheat of a germ, which fools me into thinking I’m “better today” and thus leads me to make commitments for evenings and weekends only to break them or (is it worse yet?) to keep them, I drag my aching ribs and flame-red nose to share.

The unreliability of my breathing and sudden onset of symptoms with little or no warning, however, has made me appreciate at least one thing so much more. My husband’s sister loves to watch American Idol, so when she visits we revel in the contestants, an affliction my husband does not share. One of this year’s stand-outs is a young man from nearby Santa Cruz, James Durbin, who has Tourette’s Syndrome. I am encouraged that if he is able to sing so well when his body may have other ideas, surely I should be able to overcome a cold. Right? He made it to the Top 10, surely a 10 of Cups dream for him and his happy family and friends. Now if only I can start breathing without my nose running.

Art Postcard Tarot
(c) copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

Tens are about endings and beginnings, so I’ve got the 10 of Pentacles going too. We’re putting the finishing touches on some financial items especially the annoying paperwork all too common in tax season. We’re working on planning my husband’s family reunion this summer and I feel the details of the preparation for that starting to sneak up on me like hungry ghosts. I wonder if my friend Erica could do crowd shots during the event and, hey, maybe set up a little booth and make a little extra. Add to that the screech of a few unfinished projects lying around that I really do want to complete, plus a quick deep (we’re talking ‘way deep here) dive into numerology using The Connolly Book of Numbers, volumes I and II. These are likely beyond my tolerance for the esoteric (can I be a tarot reader and say that??) but I identified the insufficiency in my own understanding to the point where I could not ignore it. So in I dove. I have a lot of 3’s (off topic, I know) and I like that. 3’s are creative and friendly. And apparently easily distracted. Hmm, maybe I used to be one of those nano-children. Or that’s contagious, too. Back to that pile of unfinished projects.

To top it all off, I’ve been busy at both the Day Job and tarot reading. With the Day Job, if it’s not one thing, it’s about 10. That fits, right? Where are all these people and their projects coming from? My status report is starting to look like the 10 of Wands, not that I want to complain that I’m overloaded. Nope, I’m bearing up bravely. Watch me grit my teeth. Oh, right, the dentist says I’m not supposed to grit my teeth any more. Sure, I’ll take care of that just as soon as I’m done with my cold!
Art Postcard Tarot
(c) copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

And happily, along with the bundle of too much going on, is a sudden uptick in my tarot reading, both at the shops I haunt and elsewhere. I’m teaching classes, I volunteered for the 3rd Annual Witches Ball in Benicia dressed in fun costume no less and I’m making after hours appointments all over. I’m also looking forward to my big spring treat, going to the Readers’ Studio 2011 in New York next month. I made my reservations, got my flight figured out, remembered that the Cobb Salad was the best thing on the menu for the Aeclectic Tarot dinner that’s being organized and have a couple of fun new t-shirts to wear at the conference. I have to figure out how to pack my costume for the dress-up dinner without crushing the, well, it’s a surprise so I’m not telling. And just to make things even more fun, I’ve booked the Himalayan Festival in Berkeley and another peaceful walk among the songbirds with my bird-buddy Ronda in a class put on by the Pt. Reyes National Seashore Association.

OK, seriously, I am so done with this cold. Di, ynke grm!!!

Best wishes.