Friday, September 10, 2010

What’s New at the Magician’s Table

And now a word from the shameless self-promotion department (borrowed with respect from those crazy guys at Car Talk on Public Radio):

• Picture Postcard Tarot SOLD OUT
• Two more decks in progress and available now for pre-sales reservation!
• Tarot Class September 19, 2010, Benicia, CA

I am just thrilled that my Picture Postcard Tarot (self-published limited edition) has sold out. Almost all US mailings have been sent; the International mailings are being held waiting for a couple of spare King and Queen of Wands.

My first venture into self-publishing was exciting, obsessive, perhaps even mirage-like in its quality for me. Just a few of the decks suffered from a problem where the King and Queen of Wands were stuck together. When pulled apart, they left part of the images on each other, just like all the CSI shows tell you about the rules of physical evidence. And boo-hiss to that little snafu! The printer, however, has been just excellent about it and is shipping the replacement cards to me now. So if those over-heated King and Queen of Wands are stuck on your copy of the deck, never fear, cooler cards will also be yours.

Who knew Wild Bill Hickok had such a thing for that Party Girl? Get a room!

Many thanks to those who ordered one or more decks, making this experiment possible.

**Update!  Aeclectic Tarot has posted a review and images of the Picture Postcard Tarot.  Click here


Following closely on the heels of my first tarot deck are my next two tarot decks. Like the Picture Postcard Tarot, these will be self-published numbered limited editions. However, both of these decks will be limited editions of 100 instead of 50. The cost will be $25.00 USD per deck plus postage. I intend to publish both before the end of the year and am taking pre-order reservations now. If you would like one or more of these decks, please contact me at my email address which is listed in several places in this blog for more information.

The Art Postcard Tarot is the second in my study of antique postcards from 1900-1909. It is a deck of 78 cards, plus a “Happy Squirrel” and a cover card. Again all images were taken from real antique postcards from that time; the images themselves may be older, but somewhere someone thought it would make a good visual to send their message. The artwork is generally light-hearted, even when dealing with difficult themes. There are portraits, serious art, cartoons and illustrations.

The cover card shows a “romantic harem” theme with the lovelies contemplating their own fortune. The Ace of Swords is atypical of the usual portrayal but shows that not all our new ideas are necessarily good ones. The Hermit walks the night alone. The Queen of Wands is a lively redhead bursting with energy.

The Victorian Trade Card Tarot is the third of my limited edition decks. It too is a deck of 78 cards, plus a “Happy Squirrel” and a cover card. The images on this tarot were taken from trade cards used as business cards between 1870-1890. Trade cards were an interesting phenomenon that had a short but exciting life in the history of advertising. Even during their own time, they were collected and pasted into albums as novelties. They came in all shapes and sizes and, unlike our business cards today, were not personal contacts at a company but rather advertised a business or product in general. Again, I’ve aimed for a light-hearted theme. Often the pictures on the trade cards had little to do with the product being advertised. Looking at some of the ads on television lately, I think we may have come full circle!

The cover card shows a wizened fortune teller and her young clients. Is she telling them to listen to her words or explaining that she has to eat, too? The Emperor is advertising ham even if the pig looks more like an elephant. The Devil is demon temptation, especially for the shoe-lovers among us. Who hasn’t heard that little voice over the left shoulder whisper, “But they are so YOU!” The 6 of Swords illustrates how the picture often had little to do with the product. The advertising for tea is seemingly disconnected from our well-dressed travelers, unless you consider Mom needed that extra shot of caffeine to get the boat going.


Finally, I’m teaching a class using tarot for creative inspiration on Sunday afternoon, 3 pm – 5 pm, September 19, 2010, at Angel Heart 4 You, 501 First Street, Benicia, California. The class is $35 per person. It is called Fire - Inspired Tarot. Collecting, Writing and Creating Tarot and will feature the work of local artists, plus a hands-on workshop for you to create your own art using the tarot as inspiration. I’ll talk just a little about creating these limited edition decks and what it takes to get them from concept to realization, a Fool’s Journey in itself! I’ll also bring some of my collection of antique and limited edition “art decks” with a little bit of information about each of them. It will be a fun class. If you have already created something inspired by the tarot, you are encouraged to bring that. Advance reservations are encouraged (you can pay when you get there). Call Angel Heart 4 You at 707-745-2024 and sign up. There’s no telling what we will come up with!

Best wishes!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Harvesting the Fruit of Charity

Most of my own gardening has been theoretical rather than practical these last couple of years. In theory, I have a tomato patch each year. Practically, however, this year has not been good weather for tomatoes, so we never put them in. In theory, I love roses; practically, I have a lot of rosebushes that thrive, thank goodness, on my neglect. I’ll step outside every once in a while and deadhead them to get another big show. Our weather is ideal for roses, even this year. I don’t even want to think of the grass. This year’s version of “going green” is actually going brown in my yard. And yet, we’ve trimmed a little, planted a little, pulled a weed or two.

You might think gardening takes patience. That’s part of the message of the 7 of Pentacles, pictured as a gardener resting a moment considering his crop. Like real life, patience is only part of the answer. After all, I have patiently ignored my tomato garden all year and voila! Not one tomato on a vine!

So the 7 of Pentacles isn’t just a story of patience. It’s about paying attention. It’s about planting the seed and not just walking away. It’s about investing in the future, giving something of yourself, your time, your labor, your resources, for a vision of the future. It’s about all the hard work in between the idea of fresh tomatoes instead of hydroponic red mealy-sponges from the supermarket and actually eating one of those juicy dead-ripe garden love apples. OK, so I don’t like grocery store tomatoes for the most part, it’s true.

But to get anything better than that, I have to invest something, if only in favors to my friend Geraldine, who, in spite of our non-tomato weather this year, has once again a stunning crop of the happiest tomatoes. They are running about one month late though. If I build up my tomato points with Geraldine, I’m hoping I’ll get a small treasure or two from her garden. She’s good to us that way. I’m happy to trade my meager computer skills or a ransom in chocolate for a decent tomato.

Last Saturday, during that weekend where Americans are reminded of labor and reward themselves with a break from it, my sister-in-law, my husband and I drove to Sonoma. It’s a pretty town with a plaza, history, fun shopping and nice restaurants. We had driven past the vineyards and talked about the grape harvest logistics, oohed and ahhed about the grapes on the vine, vulnerable to the whims of weather. Will it be a good harvest this year?

We had also been talking about the ideal hamburger and I remembered as we were walking towards the Plaza that Murphy’s Irish Pub has a really good hamburger. We all felt better after lunch and headed to our original target, the Church Mouse thrift shop. The Church Mouse has three locations in Sonoma and is the most fun place to shop in town. Finding something wonderful in a thrift shop always makes me feel clever, too, in spite of the evidence to the contrary. This time I came away with a vintage Dooney & Bourke handbag at a bargain price, excellent shape, serial number intact. Score!

Of course, I only bought it. The really clever people are the people who donated it to help the poor and the people who work at the Church Mouse to make it a successful venture. I only did the harvesting, not all the work that my gardener puts in for the 7 of Pentacles. But I like the fact that I got something I really like, plus the money helps people.

It’s a habit I grew to love while I was growing up in my mother’s antique shop. I never could understand the people who insisted on new things all the time, as if the fact that they were the first to use them made them higher quality. I always preferred used things, except maybe shoes and underwear, because it was like having new friends. Part of it was the sense of the previous owner that I get from a used object. Part of it was that sense that somewhere in the universe, someone liked what I liked. Even if I didn’t ever meet them, we had something in common. The responsibility to tend the tender harvest transferred to me even if I didn’t plant the seed. And, truth be told, I don’t like the newer Dooney & Bourke purses, all that cloth and color instead of the AWL (all weather leather) and where is the duck? Gotta have a duck. My new purse has been places I’ve never been, seen things I’ve never seen. And the zipper and trim are still in good shape. I should be so lucky.

Through Mom’s shop, I gained a perspective that I don’t really own anything. This should come as a shock to my husband who is by now pretty well convinced we have at least one of everything, if not multiple copies. They’re just somewhere in the garage which has recently been dubbed “Warehouse 13.” In viewing the artifacts of people’s lives, I felt more like a caretaker than an owner. The fascinating item was in our custody for a while, like the gardener tending the plant but unable to own the life force that is its essence.

One of the things Mom tended in her shop was a letter written by Thomas Jefferson before he was President. It was fascinating. It was part 2 of a 3-part correspondence between Tom and a guy he had borrowed money from. Part 2 was the explanation of why he couldn’t pay the guy back just yet but with heartfelt promises to make good on the debt. It was certainly a glimpse of our President that had never occurred to me. He owed people money. And he was optimistic about the future. How American of him.

When you have something like that, can you really own it? Anything we did with it was likely to damage it including getting it out into the everyday pollution that is our air and reading it in our sunlight which is likely to ruin it. So Mom did the only reasonable thing. Instead of selling it, she donated it to the university where she lived at the time so that others would get a sense of Jefferson the man instead of Jefferson the icon. And in a way that gift of hers is a better monument than any tombstone or statue. It’s a gift of the past to the future, an act of supreme optimism on the part of a veteran pessimist. I think of it as returning to the hands of the public. I could visit the letter anytime I wanted and so can anyone else. The fact that she gave it away was so much more important than the letter itself, the act of charity so much cleverer than the artifact.

Although I have to admit it is a little comforting to think of good old Tom and his credit problems, so modern.

My big girlhood crush, James Stewart, told people in It’s a Wonderful Life, our real treasure isn’t in cash. It’s in the investment in each other and in the future. That guy believed in Jefferson, enough to lend him money. And we all got paid back.

Best wishes.