Shark Tank Inspiration

One of my guilty pleasures is Shark Tank.   I know it’s edited all to hell and someone is going to cry about something but I still like watching it.    Also, I’m super fascinated how Robert Herjavec is constantly shut out.  I think people think he’s too soft.  I suspect there is a hard ass hiding under that calm exterior.

Anyway..

I recently caught the episode featuring Slumberkins, a cute, sort of blanket animal with a book… at the ridiculously high price of $58.00 (update: they are now featuring a new price of $44.00).  I *love* the idea behind Slumberkins, created by two women who are very invested in helping kids.  Their motto:

We’re mothers and educators on a mission to promote positive life skills in the next generation, one cuddle at a time.

Each Slumberkin Story carries a message on topics like how to deal with transitions, how to relax at bedtime, mindfulness and self esteem.  This is excellent! I don’t have kids but these are skills that all people need.

While watching the show, I found myself super annoyed at the dichotomy between their price and their goal.  One of the Sharks asked “What is your goal here.  Do you want to reach more kids or do you want to make money?”

They really wanted to reach as many kids as possible.. but at $58.00?  That ain’t happening.   That’s a niche product right there.

And while I’m muttering about this under my breath while knitting on a scarf, a little voice in my head said “so…. Jeni, what’s your goal with your Tarot readings then?  Do you want to help people or do you want to make money?”

OOF. That stings.

I started offering readings as a way to reawaken and deepen my connection to Spirit Energy and to help people who are stuck… or maybe need a little light shed on an issue.  And I’ve gotten some amazing feedback from people but when I looked at the prices I was charging, I realized I was shutting out a lot of folks.

This is not my full time gig.  I have a full time gig that affords me the luxury of offering Tarot Readings.  And I love doing them.  I truly do and I feel like they are a way for me to be of service to people.

So I dropped my prices to make a reading with me attainable.

Going forward, Tarot Readings with me are $5.00 a card with a max of $25.00.

At $25.00, your are guaranteed at least 5 cards, but if I feel there is a need for more cards, I will draw additional cards, up to Ten with no additional charge.  I call it “Reader’s Choice”.

Crazy I know.   But it feels right.

If you want to know more about this, head over to JeniReadsTarot.com to learn more and to book your reading.

How to Choose your First Tarot Deck

Choosing your first tarot deck can be a daunting task.  There are SO MANY out there and it seems like every day, someone is making a new one.   When I got my first deck, it was 1987-ish and the internet wasn’t born yet.  I lived in a rural area and my access to anything other than Waldenbooks was very limited.  Now, anyone can easily design a deck, have it printed, and market it.  AMAZING.

I didn’t even choose my first deck.  It was a Christmas gift when I was a teenager and I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t remember if it came from my mom or my grandmother.  One of the two, anyway.

My first deck was the Mythic Tarot which is loosely based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck (RWS).  The Mythic Tarot takes it’s inspiration from Mythology which is pretty cool, but also very specific to those stories.  Many of the cards are similar in imagery to the RWS, but not in meaning.   The book was very detailed into things like “this bird symbolizes Zeus… and this Devil is actually Pan… oh and this lady here?  this is Persephone.”  Cool, but difficult to read if you try to shoehorn the images and symbolism into modern day life. It can be done, for sure, but it requires a LOT of memorization.

The Mythic Tarot: the Devil, The Heirophant and the Chariot.

 

The Mythic Tarot: Ace of Pentacles, Six of Swords, Five of Wands and Eight of Cups

As you can see from these images, they are pretty specific to individual personas.  There is Persephone there in the Eight of Cups.  Yes, her leaving the physical word behind and moving into the darkness does sort of mirror the idea of the Eight of Cups so that’s good.   Poseidon is the Ace of Pentacles, which I personally find confusing because Pentacles is traditionally the Earth Element and Poseidon lives in the water.. but sure.. bursting forth with new energy.. ok.  The Six of Swords here is Orestes who I know nothing about.. and the Five of Wands is Jason’s battle with the Dragon over the Golden Fleece so, yeah, it’s a fight.

But, basically, there is too much here for a beginner, in my opinion.

Seriously Consider the Rider Waite Smith in the Yellow Box

The RWS (unless you read Thoth) is what a lot of decks are based off and the beauty of the RWS deck is that it lends itself to an intuitive interpretation.  The cards evoke an emotion and a feeling and provide a lot of detail to explore so you don’t have to learn something by rote.

Rider Waite Smith

Rider Waite Smith

See how the Five of Wands is evoking an emotion of conflict among people?  And the Six of Swords feels like a family leaving the choppy waters headed towards smoother sailing?  (Yes, the Ace is hard to get an emotion from.. I know.. but you have keywords to fall back on to kick your intuition into gear ~ it’s a good idea to know the “traditional meanings” but don’t be limited by them.  Think of it like the drugs that were prescribed for depression also work for smoking cessation.  They were intended for one thing but also work for another..  follow me?)

A word on intuition:  if you want to be a tarot reader  it really benefits you to work with your intuition. It gets your left brain out of the way and opens you up to the message from the Universe. The Tarot is a TOOL to facilitate your connection to the Information Highway. (and it’s not as old as people claim.. at least not as a divination tool)

The RWS is a great place to start.  The other thing is that a LOT of books, teachers and websites reference it.  If you will be looking for support from others, it’s good to have a working knowledge of this artwork. Also, I can’t help it.  The wands look like giant penises to me.  They just do.  Take a look at the Ace of Wands and then tell me I’m wrong.

Look at a lot of decks to find artwork that appeals to you

I don’t enjoy the RWS artwork and I really don’t like the overt Christian overtones.  I think it’s super important to find artwork that appeals to you.  It’s difficult to find the message in the card when you don’t like looking at it.  I actually got rid of my first RWS deck because I just couldn’t read with it.  (I have since purchased a new one to work with for study only.  But I have no intention on reading with it)

The deck I worked with for YEARS was the Morgan Greer.  It’s a close up image of the RWS artwork and it’s borderless, which I enjoy.

Morgan Greer

Morgan Greer

But still, lots of Christian overtones.  Since the explosion of Tarot interest, I’ve had some great opportunities to get decks that are still RWS based but with a twist.

Modern SpellCasters Tarot

Modern SpellCasters

Check out the Chariot!  Talk about moving forward without really knowing where you are going… but doing it anyway.  And there are more Alchemical symbols here and the deck has more of a magickal feel to it. Which is intentional since it’s meant to also work Magick.  And the Eight of Cups has a slightly different vibe to it. I also love this deck because many of the images show people of different colors, sizes, races and sexual identities.

Modern images for modern times can sometimes read easier.

This is my newest deck for my collection and it totally updates the images.  This is the Everyday Witch Tarot and I’m really digging how easy this is to read.   You may not feel that all of these images are modern (cloaks, cauldrons etc) but they are a lovely mix of Modern images and NeoPagan Traditions.  This deck just sings to me because of this mash up.  I suspect there is a modern deck out there for you that fits your path.  (Some of us do have actual magick brooms and wands and cauldrons in our homes.)

Everyday Witch Tarot

Everyday Witch Tarot

New Readers should probably avoid decks with pips

Tarot was a game, originally.  If you go back to before the RWS deck, you will find the Visconti Deck  named after the family that had the cards.  See, paper was expensive so only rich people had decks and only rich people had time for actual games.   I picked up this mini deck at the J.P. Morgan Library gift shop, where you can view three of the original Tarot cards from this deck.

I don’t read with it.

Visconti Deck

Pips Only.. you can’t even really tell the swords from the wands

These decks don’t give you anything to work with other than numbers.  That’s more than half your deck that you would need to memorize meanings for.  Not an easy task and not really an intuitive task either.

Probably steer away from Novelty Cards/Promotional Material for your first deck.

Have you seen Penny Dreadful? Vanessa has a beautiful deck that was made just for the show.

I own it.  I don’t read from it.

Penny Dreadful Tarot

Penny Dreadful Tarot

It’s amazing but limited in it’s ability to spark intuition. Also, all the minor cards 2-10 are pip cards. Nope. Just really neat to have it and look at it. (And I will admit that I’m currently waiting for my Twin Peaks Tarot deck to ship and I probably won’t read from that one either).

Which brings me to..

Probably best to avoid highly stylized/non-human decks to start.

There are some great non-human decks out that that probably read just fine.  But they can be hard to read for beginners and can feel a bit off putting to friends you may want to read for as practice.  Let’s face it. Some people still think the Tarot is Evil with the Capital E.  I adore my Deviant Moon deck but I’ve only used it once in a reading for a client because.. well… look at it.

Deviant Moon Tarot

Deviant Moon Tarot

The only time I used it for a client was when they made a point of telling me they identify as non-binary and most decks are well.. Binary.   And actually a lot of decks are very…. white.. and straight.  Many of the images in the Deviant Moon deck are not gender specific.  (I admit, I didn’t pick the best cards to demonstrate this but I was rolling with a theme)

Where do you go from here?

I think the best thing you can do is to get your eyes on some decks before you decide.  Some great places to look at decks before you buy are:

  • Your local metaphysical shop: Sometimes the owners will have decks open for you to look at. This is fantastic!  But buy your deck there, ok?  Don’t fondle the merch and then get a deal online.  Spend the extra bucks to support your local seller.
  • Aeclectic Tarot :  An astonishing number of decks with a good sampling of each card in each deck.  Plus reviews from actual readers.
  • YouTube:  A google search for YouTube Tarot Reviews will get you a ton of hits and a lot of folks will show you every single card.  You will also get a lot of info about things that might be important to you like, card stock or boxes or the book that comes with it.
  • Amazon reviews:  lots of readers will put pictures of the cards in their reviews and are not shy about sharing their thoughts. (which reminds me.. I have a few reviews to do)
  • Other readers:  Opinions are like assholes.  We all have one.  What I think about a particular deck may be very different than what your friend and favorite reader thinks. Ask us. We LOVE to talk about our decks.

It is impossible to buy the “wrong” deck.

Truly.  Every deck will tell you something about yourself.  It will help you find what you are comfortable with and what you aren’t comfortable with.  Discomfort is educating in and of itself.  If you outgrow your deck or decide you don’t want to read from the one you bought, there is a healthy market out there for second hand decks.   Many of us pooh pooh the idea that you shouldn’t read a used deck.  If you really want to unload a deck you don’t like, someone will buy it.

What it really comes down to is this…

Buy the deck that speaks to you .. and if it doesn’t speak to you in six months, that’s ok too..  See, people evolve.  What you like today, you may not like tomorrow.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Your time with the Tarot will change your perspective on things..  on people.. and on yourself.

Right Words and Write Words

I had decided that 2017 was going to be the “year of doing” instead of the “year of thinking”. Because every year up until now has been the year of thinking.

Basically, I live in my head.

I read a crap ton of stuff and say “oh.. that’s interesting.  That could really enhance my life”

And then I put the book down and forget about it.  Seriously.  No integration what so ever.

But I talk a good game for sure. I  have notebooks that I carry with me… and sometimes leave them on my desk at work for days.  I get my best ideas at work.. or in the shower.  I write down ideas as I think of them in my handy notebook.

 

The irony here is not lost on me.

I have always had an obsession with paper products, notebooks, pens and the like.

I got these on sale for a dollar each and I had grand plans for these, boy did I ever.

 

Each one of these was going to be a sort of workbook for my magick correspondences.  (I’m totally back into magick after years away.. more on that later.. and yes that “k” belongs there)

The green one was going to be for herbs and the purple one was for crystals and the blue for tarot study… or maybe it was the other way around. But it doesn’t matter because I opened one up and was overwhelmed with “where do I start?”

So then I had this idea that I would use loose leaf paper, so I bought some of that.. because, hey! I can’t screw up the order there, right? Just move the pages around!

But then I couldn’t read my handwriting.

So I started a blog to just catalog my tarot work (I’m working through Mary K. Greens 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card) and also for my correspondences! Perfect!  (you can’t find it.. don’t even try. It’s on a private installation of WordPress.. which took me days to set up to make pretty)

And then I ignored it.

I take avoidance of actually doing things to a new level. Seriously, if it was an Olympic Sport, I would totally take Gold… but then, I probably wouldn’t because I’d put off signing up.

Sensing a theme?

Me too.

So I took a few minutes on my commute to sort of mentally explore what my issue with committing pen to paper, to putting words someplace, to doing a thing.  ANYTHING and sticking with it.

And I remembered my previous efforts to journal.

See these?

These are my journals.  You know what they all have in common?

Torn out pages.  Yup.. they are essentially blank

I’d journal for a while and put it down and when I went back to it, I’d read what I wrote and I would be horrified.  I’d be embarrassed at how silly or trivial things were. I didn’t enjoy looking at back at myself.  I’d be… well.

Ashamed of the person I was.

OUCH.  That was a tough one to pull out.

Funny things, words.   You know what really got me thinking about this was a SuperGirl episode (tip: Season two is…  clunky.  But there are a few gems)

It was the Valentine’s Day Episode (barf) but it had Mxyzptlk in it so I had to watch it.  (SPOILERS AHEAD). SuperGirl gets Mxyzptlk to “say” his name backwards, thus banishing him back to the 5th dimension by having him type it out in Kryptonian …..  um.. look.. if you can’t keep up with this geekiness, just go Google it and come back…  Basically, she took what J’onn said eariler in the episode which is that on some planets, to write something down is to truly say it…

To write something down is to truly say it

Words on paper are the real thing. They capture a moment and not to be too glib but, really, that moment is gone before you’ve even finished writing, but they snag that moment and lock it down… you can’t pretend it never existed.  It’s right there. Black and white.. refusing to be ignored and forgotten.

That is some scary shit, you guys.

When I first read about the Buddhist concept of “right speech” I was intrigued because how can Buddhists have something that is “right or wrong”.. it’s that sort of the anti-zen?

But what is really meant by right speech is “kind speech” or “mindful speech”.   And here is the kicker.  According to Tricycle:

The teaching about Right Speech assumes imperfection.  Our “mistakes” are a vital part of our learning.  We need to lie, exaggerate, embellish, use harsh and aggressive speech, engage in useless banter, and speak at inappropriate times, in order to experience how using speech in these ways creates tension in the body, agitation in the mind, and remorse in the heart.  We also discover how unskillful speech degrades personal relationships and diminishes the possibility of peace in our world

Tension in the body. CHECK.

Agitation in the mind?  YOU BETCHA

Remorse in the heart?  LAWD YASS

It’s time to start being kind to myself again.  Time to get over myself and accept that I’m not perfect dammit and that growth is a process and it’s time to right the words and write the words and accept the imperfections.

Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

I recently stumbled upon the term “TOADie”. That’s someone who “suffers” from Tarot Over-Acquisition Disorder. I’ve not reached the heights of my friend George, but every once in a while, I find a deck that speaks to me and I must buy it.

Right now, my “had to have” is the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot by Melanie Marquis and illustrated by Scott Murphy.

For a long time, I had struggled with the religious and masculine overtones of the Waite-Smith deck.  It’s actually even more well know as the Rider-Waite for the publisher and the guy who commissioned the art.  Pamela Smith, who created imagery, is usual left out.  You get my point, yes?

I had been looking for a Pagan themed deck for years now.  Most of them, I found sort of stiff.  That’s the best word I can come up with for the imagery.  And I read images.  I don’t memorize cards.

The Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot – The Box

 

One of the things I love about this deck is that it is designed to actually be used for spell work.  Yes, I’m “one of those people”.  It should be noted that although “traditional” decks have the Wands representing the Element of Fire and Swords representing the Element of Air, this deck is the opposite, which really resonates for me. (I had to actually type that sentence out three times because I kept typing it wrong.. or right depending on your perspective).  If you are a stickler for wands = fire and swords = air, then this deck is not for you

However, if Pagan symbols, beautiful artwork and diversity are your jam, then this deck is for you.

I mean, look at this handfasting

The Four of Wands

The Four of Wands

and these two fellas sharing a drink

Two of Cups

Two of Cups

The mounts chosen for the Knights are also pretty spectacular

The Knights of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Knights of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

Oh and look at these amazing women, eh?

The Queens of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Queens of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

I’m also super fond of the back design. If you read reversals, you might have a bit of difficulty as there is a top and a bottom. I don’t read reversals. I find them too chaotic. Also, some folks find the cardstock to be very thin.  And it is.  It may not hold up to a billion readings, to be honest.  But I am the one who handles my cards as most of my readings are internet or email based, so for me it’s not a big deal.

The Back of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Back of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

The book that comes with is SUPER thick and really detailed.

The Handbook for the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Handbook for the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

Some of the complaints that I’ve read on the internet is that the book doesn’t give enough information on the imagery, however there is a page in the front that details why certain animals were chosen and what many of the symbols mean. You get to actually take this information and formulate your own meanings. I actually prefer that and I appreciate the list of symbols in the book as I was unfamiliar with a few.

The Aces of the Modern SpellCaster's Tarot

The Aces of the Modern SpellCaster’s Tarot

I am so completely, totally in love with this deck that I’m struggling to actually use them for readings. I feel like I need to get to KNOW them better. So! My plan is to look at each card and spend some time with it. I’ll be posting here as sort of my Tarot Journal. I hope you enjoy me on this journey and share your insights with the imagery.

In the meantime, I’ve posted pictures of all of the cards, so please enjoy this amazing imagery.

 

The rest of me….

Two years ago, I vowed to write more about the whole of me

and then I dished up more food.

I guess I like food.

I mean, I did give you some other stuff, like music and sewing, but not a lot of the other stuff.

The spooky stuff.

I’m not sure why.

What I do know is that for a long while I didn’t feel like writing anything at all, and now I’ve found a daily practice that has got me excited about writing again.

In the next few weeks, I’m planning on launching a blog that will run congruently with this one (yes, I know, my intention was to put everything here, but… well, I changed my mind). The new blog will have stuff on herbalism, and magick and reiki and energywork and Spirit Communciation and mostly Tarot. And if you are down with that, I hope you’ll read along… And I’ll be plugging along on filling in the blanks on this blog with the things I’ve been doing that are not just recipes. I’ve spent a day at Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Center in May and I have… some thoughts that I refrained from posting until I could sort them out. I spent a week at Omega in June at what I’m calling Hippie Ukulele Camp which was AH-MAH-ZING and I came back so chill that I’m pretty sure my coworkers thought I was stoned… but do you see, how those two topics sort of mush together the mundane and the Spiritual? Yeah, I’m not going to worry about that anymore.. I do what I want.

And I’ve been rambling.

And now I’m going to get groceries because, food.

Good Vibrations

“I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be one.”

– Chief Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux, 1877

If you were to dig way, way back in the archives of this blog, you would find that about 7 years ago, I was blithely posting about complementary therapies, reiki, psychic mediumship, auras and energy and since that time, my readership, like my blog, has changed dramatically. When I started writing about food and got some weird local reputation of being a “foodie” or a “food blogger”, I got a lot more self-conscious. Well, to tell the whole truth, I stopped writing about the hippie dippie stuff well before then. But when people started recognizing me in public, I really dropped it..

It can be scary talking about this stuff as an adult when you grew up as “that weird kid who talked to trees”.

But…

I still talk to trees.. and plants… and animals… and… dead people.

gypsy

Yes, really.

I decided it was time to start talking about it again.. and doing more of it again. The past two years have been rough. We lost two dogs, a cat and a family member all in that time. We have so many blessings that we are grateful for, but wowsers that really threw us for a loop.

And it sort of reset what I recognized as important. I stopped (mostly) stressing (excessively) over the non-important things.. or at least I did for while. But when I felt myself slipping, I found I was falling back on the things I knew about self care. And then when I went to Old Songs? Holy crap… something clicked.

Since June, I’ve been diving back into herbs and energy and meditation. That last one is hard for me to remember to make time for.. but hey, they call it a “meditation practice” for a reason. I’ve been rereading some of my books and honestly? Some of them are crap. They are full of things that are repetitious or contradictory. And of things that don’t really resonate.. at least for me.

I decided that I would start writing about these things again. LB and I actually used to teach classes on Auras and Chakras, Meditation, Animal Communication and Psychic Mediumship and message work. I used to do psychic readings at parties and Tarot card readings at coffee houses.

Like any other skill, you get out of practice. So basically, I’m going to use my blog as my “platform” to not only tell you guys all about it but also to remind myself of what I know… and reeducate myself on what I’ve forgotten or tucked away.

Who knows, you may even see me in a coffee house with a deck of tarot cards one of these days.

(and yes, I know this post is missing a lot of my usual flair.. this is HARD to share.. okay?)