Wassail, Wassail, in Snow, Frost and Hail!

Did you take your Yule/Christmas decorations down yesterday? If you didn’t then best leave them up until Candlemas day (2nd February) or Imbolc if you prefer its other name. Why? well tradition has it that if you don’t take your decorations down before the 5th/6th then it’s bad luck. The only way to mitigate it is to then leave them until the next cross quarter. Of course the superstition isn’t really that old, but its been around long enough that there is some energy in the myth so I tend to stick with it.

Candlemas celebrated the purification of the Virgin Mary


It sort of makes sense as well, if you look at the meaning behind each of these dates. Epiphany or 12th night was supposed to be the night when the Magi made it to Bethlehem to visit the Baby Jesus in the Manger. After this point of course the whole Nativity is done isn’t it? Actually no it wasn’t. Historically the festival continued all the way through to Candlemas, which was the feast that celebrated the purification of the Virgin Mary and also the baptism of Jesus (in the olden days women had to sequester themselves until they had stopped post-partum bleeding as it was considered unclean).


12th night is also the night to Wassail the Orchards an entirely much older and far more Pagan an affair; but one in certain parts of the British Isles that is still celebrated today. Region to Region there are variations on a theme; some go and sing to the trees and have them blessed so that there may be a good harvest in the coming year; others soak bits of toast in apple juice and bury them at the roots, or hang them from the branches of the tree. In some counties the act of wassailing also involves mumming and a large bowl, called a wassail bowl which was passed around by the revellers.

There is St. George, A Quack doctor, Beezlebub or a Devil and sometimes also a “Kaiser” who is the typical baddie. (Faces were guised/blacked to stop the mummers being identified as they could be tricksy

The Mumming plays tend to be rather formulaic and are (at least in my area) very similar to the Soul Caking plays seen in October. There is St. George, A Quack doctor, Beezlebub or a Devil and sometimes also a “Kaiser” who is the typical baddie. Think Doctor Robotnik in Sonic or Dick Dastardly from the Wacky Races for those of us who are a little bit older. Oft times there is also a Hobby horse, although the Soul Cakers in my area combine the Hoss with “Old Nick” the Devil. It’s all very confusing, all very hilarious and all has the same outcome.

The Hero (St George) fights evil and Darkness (The Kaiser), the quack Doc turns up and after a whole number of fumbled attempts revives our erstwhile hero, who leaps up to much joy and cheering from the crowd and defeats the Kaiser, but evil is not to be outdone and Old Nick/Beezlebub turns up and also has a go but eventually is defeated normally with audience participation. It’s the age old tale of light overcoming darkness, which if you consider how blimmin cold and dark it’s been in the last week it’s easy to see that it would have been a welcome relief to those wondering if they had enough fuel and stocks to make it last until the weather started to warm up.

Huzza, Huzza, in our good town

The bread shall be white, and the liquor be brown

So here my old fellow I drink to thee

And the very health of each other tree.

Well may ye blow, well may ye bear

Blossom and fruit both apple and pear.

So that every bough and every twig

May bend with a burden both fair and big

May ye bear us and yield us fruit such a stors

That the bags and chambers and house run o’er.

— Cornworthy, Devon, 1805*

So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to think about where we are at the moment and the health of ourselves and the world around us right now to realise it’s a battle we are still fighting. Even the reasons for fighting it aren’t that different either, personal sovereignty, survival and community. Folk-lore even the very heavily christianised can give us so much insight which can enhance our practise.

There is some debate as to whether 12th night is the 5th or the 6th of January, and that’s not even taking into account the idea of “Old Epiphany” which in some places is still adhered to (using the Old Julian Calendar) in other winter traditions such as Hen Galen which doesn’t happen until the 13th of January. Therefore a small ritual to bless your home, your land, even the plants that grow on your windowsill or garden. A ritual that hopes for a victory against the dark however we perceive it, a ritual to bring health and blessings is probably just what the doctor order (Quack or not).

Just a slice of toast soaked in Juice or mead placed at the corners of your household boundaries and a shared libation and blessing on the land, it doesn’t have to be complicated.


So here my good fellows, I drink to thee

To the very health of each other, and harmony be

Well may we bend, and well may we bear

The blossoms and fruit of our future so fair!

-adapted from an Old Wassailing chant.

 

 

 

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Wassail

A Tarot Grand Tableau Pt 2

Although houses can be used to quite some success when combining Tarot with a Grand Tableau, it probably isn’t the best starting point for a learner. Directions and smaller clusters of cards on the other hand, people get those quite quickly and easily and can apply them with very little skill or experience required.

What follows here are techniques I have garnered from various sources, I cannot claim them to be my own, although how I am using them is.

Box 1 – The overall meaning of the reading

2 of Cups, Page of Swords, 10 of Wands. A relationship is headed for troublesome news and quarrels, and the querent just can’t see the wood for the trees. This is the straw that broke the camels back.

Box 2 – The heart of the problem

10 of cups, Kn of Swords, 7 of Swords. Ohh boy we have the “happy home” matched up with the impulsive grudge holding knight with the pokey swords, he’s the only one in the deck who rushes away from the future, headlong as fast as he can, and what he is running from is the 7 of Swords, the Sneaky Pete card, if you think someones talking about you behind your back and this card comes up, then I bet a pound to a penny they are.

The 10 of cups is directly above the Knight so he is focussed on wanting that happily ever after even if it means making a few swift cuts along the way.

Box 3 – The querent (and their love interest if any).

6 of Swords, Strength. Although we are not using the house system it is really useful in a Tarot GT (and this interpretation of the original spread) to keep the “Man” and “Woman” houses, to represent the querent and the partner. It can give very interesting insight into each persons mindset and paired with the corner cards (marked with stars) can reveal previously unknown aspects to personality and intent. Here we have the “wife” studiously ignoring her husband in favour of her cat, the cat which we see echoed in the Queen of Wands, so “I ain’t saying she a gold digger but she ain’t messing with no broke” and the 7 of swords crowning her suggests she’s got a spiteful tongue and she’ll use it if she has too. Looking at the 2 of Cups, the Devil and the Ace of Wands I’d also be cautioning the “husband” to watch out she could use sex as a weapon too.

Box 4 – The outcome

Judgement, 4 of Coins. We are starting to move into predictive reading here, which is great. This suggests an amenable outcome to the divorce with the powers that be literally ruling from above in favour of the querent, financial stability and the hard earned cash will be theirs.

Arrow 1 – What is behind them

The Devil, 9 of Swords, Tower. Codependence and toxicity are a trap of their own making, sleepless nights will only cease if you are prepared to make a change. They’ve done their thinking, they’ve acted and now its all done bar for the shouting. They’ve worked through the heart ache mentally and its time to move on. What we don’t get here now by not including the house system is that the paperwork has been drawn up which we would have seen with the Lenormand houses of “Book” and “Letter”, this is where Lenormand can be far more succinct and fusing the two systems is really powerful.

Arrow 2 – What is in front of them

The future is relatively unknown at this point because the querent didn’t lay a full spread. But one thing is clear, growth an opportunity will take a front and centre role in the querent’s life once all this muck and gubbins is over.  And if we are going to get a little crude, that great big wand is a waving, so he looks like he will get some.

The 4 corners (marked by stars) Additional details of note that can shed additional light on the situation, see explanation of Box 3

This has all been written from a male querent’s point of view, but what if this was a woman that laid those spreads, well we don’t get to chose our clients. Best case scenario they are just a bit spoilt and selfish in which case a blunt read may have just saved a marriage as it may have bought them time to self reflect. If they were a narcissist there would be nothing I could do, they would protest their innocence, stamp and shout, declare me wrong and not making a connection possibly. Until they contact me again a few months later for another reading! And therein lies the true skill of a Tarot reader 😉

A Final Word…..

So using techniques from another system we can adequately interpret what on face value looks like one red hot mess of a spread, we have allowed the newbie reader to consider “houses” which really aren’t so different from the titles given to various card placements in more traditional spreads associated with the Tarot such as the horseshoe, Celtic cross or Wheel of the year. We have allowed them so search for connections in the cards to see deeper meaning, and we’ve looked at directionality, past, present, future and boxing, all in a hap hazard grid layout. By examining both approaches we can see that the interpretations are not so different, but that combining the two gives a more detailed picture. Not a bad knowledge dump for a shoddy meme. Can I reiterate, please folks don’t stop posting these spreads this is how you learn ignore the negative nellies, they are not your people!

I truly hope this helps someone, maybe inspires them to pick those cards back up, or for once stays a scoffing tongue when they see a spread like this.

Peace out xxx

 

 

 

 

A Tarot Grande Tableau – Pt 1

I thought I might start this post in a better frame of mind but at the time of writing I am sad to report that pointing out that its a bit mean to mock and also that lateral thinking could have been used to help the person is me wanting “to pwn people with my magical knowledge of leno”.  It never ceases to amaze me how unaware people truly are and how readily they attack rather than reconsider a point of view. But I shall continue regardless.

So let’s talk for a moment about the Lenormand GT as mentioned in my post yesterday, the GT is normally either 9×4 or 8×4+4. This uses every card in the Lenormand deck and each “slot” relates to a “house” (sort of a bit like in astrology) so position 1 in the spread relates to the Rider, 2 to the Clover etc. Then when you lay your cards down what you are seeing is the information relating to that area. So let’s say you get “The Ring” in the house of “Clover”, what does that mean, well depending upon the question it might mean success and good fortune regarding a business contract or maybe a marriage proposal.

These are not discrete interpretations though, not only does the card relate to the house within which is sits, it also relates the cards that are around it and even what card is in a reciprocal house. So whilst Ring in the house of Clover may seem very fortuitous, should The Clouds be in position 25 which is the house of the ring, then I would caution that the engagement may be short lived or overshadowed in some way.

Houses obviously aren’t necessarily very helpful when it comes to helping the beginner who laid the original spread which we looked at yesterday, especially when you consider the crude ad hoc nature of that spread. If the poster was a completely new then complicating the issue by mixing system is also a no-no from a teaching perspective, but for purposes of this post lets look at them briefly anyway as after all the whole point of this was to see the different ways that we could pick apart the original reading to help. (click back here to refresh your memory if you want)

So what could we do here with houses to help a person interpret the spread that was confusing them so much?

After studying the cards for a few moments my considered opinion is that the best way to go was to scrub out the houses where a card wasn’t laid. We are after all told that we should read what we see, and only what is relevant. Seems to me that maybe then those missing cards just aren’t relevant to the read!

Let’s have a look now at a few details. I am going to out on a limb and hazard a guess and suggest that this is a relationship read. There isn’t a lot of psychism here I am afraid, those cards are gnarly and there are far too many pointy swords and weepy cups for my liking. Also in my experience, I would say at least 70% of my clients ask me for a relationship read, even if they start the session by asking about career, or to find a lost object or help with a house move, it nearly always ends up with an “actually before we finish could we just look at my love life”. It’s just the way it is, human nature if you will, we all want to be loved and to be happy.

It’s not necessary to read every card here to get the main point of the read, it rarely is unless clients start asking deeper questions so my draw is to the bottom two lines primarily.

Here is my rationale as I would explain it:

Studiously ignoring what is going on around her, preferring to turn her focus away from the inevitable, the woman is oblivious to the actions of her husband (strength in the house of the Woman). He however is taking action and getting ready to move on from this toxic relationship no matter how painful and argumentative it may get (6 of Swords in the house of the Man with Kn of Swords above in Garden, Devil in the House of Ring) he’s going to try and take the money with him too, after all he worked hard for it (Judgement in the house of Fish and 10 of wands in the House of House *ha! thats a mouthful*). The divorce papers are drawn up, but he’s been having sleepless nights not knowing when to tell her. He knows his mean spirit wife, will bad mouth him (7 of Swords in the house of Mountain) which may cause complications and she will try and take him for everything he’s got (4 of Pentacles in the house of Anchor).

We could go into more details but let’s face it, there is plenty to go on right there and if its worth saying once its worth saying again. You do not have to read every card in a spread! It’s still not an ideal learning exercise though. Tomorrow we will look at how we can use directionality to help decipher the cards in a more beginner friendly way and also see if it changes the reading at all.

Lets talk about this meme shall we?

I don’t know who created this meme and even if I did I am not sure I would want to give them any credit*. Why? because to me it is indicative of a worrying trend I am seeing in certain parts of the Tarot community. The trend of mocking and gate-keeping.

Its also indicative that the meme maker was most-likely a little short on both knowledge and compassion.

What followed on the social media thread where it was posted was a lot of guffaws, laughter and out right piss taking. Here and there, one or two people said they felt sorry for whomever had posted it, others worried for the person saying it was s sign of a chaotic mind. I looked at it and went – Oh its almost a GT we could work with that.

So what is a GT (Grand Tableau/Große Tafel), well its a spread not often used in Tarot. Mostly found amongst Lenormand or Kipper readers it is a spread according to Cafe Lenormand that :-

“explains how you got to where you are at present, what you’re dealing with today (even what’s on your mind), and what will happen next. It will show external influences that you may not be aware of – such as a secret rival at work, a hidden health issue, or a friend lending you a helping hand. The insights the Grand Tableau gives you can help you to know what course of action to take to achieve the best possible outcome.

It’s an excellent spread for gaining an overall synopsis of your life and the months to come.” ~Cafe Lenormand

Normally a GT is laid out either as a 9×4 grid or as an 8×4+4 so as you can see this isn’t exactly correct but there is no reason why, with a little bit of lateral thinking, a sincere discussion couldn’t take place with the person who posted this and some semblance of a reading gleaned that would be both educational and helpful to all concerned.

But instead it was used to mock and scorn. I don’t know how you would feel but assuming this spread was a genuine one nabbed from one of the plethora of Tarot groups on social media (and there is no reason to assume otherwise because I have seen similar) if this was my photo and I came across this meme I would have been devastated. Maybe even devastated enough to put my cards away and not bring them back out again. And like that *poof* a potential Tarot star may fall into obscurity never to be heard of again. How sad. Shame Tarot community, shame, shame, shame.

So over the next week I am going to recreate this spread, use it as a teaching tool, not just to help all the people out there who have posted images like this on Tarot forums  – BTW keep doing it that’s how you learn – but also for those who were so quick to mock they forgot that they were once learners too. Remember that you’re never too experienced to look at things in a new way.

So look out tomorrow for Pt 1 of the Tarot Grand Tableau – A teaching tool!

*I will credit the deck however, thats only polite. It looks like the Centennial Waite by U.S Games but not being able to see the backs or get a clear look at the cards I’m guessing a bit here. Maybe some can come along and tell us.

Are you a Gypsy Witch?

World Divination Association Virtual Conference

A fortnight ago I got to attend the very awesome World Divination Association (WDA) 1st Annual Virtual Conference. Yes as a title that is a helluva mouthful, but that jam packed moniker properly represents the jam packed content that was presented over the weekend. 44 speakers in 48 hours, it was the COVID-19 version of a 90’s telethon. Many of us staying up past our normally very sensible bedtimes to listen live to the great and good from all over the world. And ask questions too! Liz Dean, Mary Greer, Alison Cross, Caitlin Matthews, Ciro Marchetti  & Donnaleigh Rose were just a few of the speakers, plus a whole bunch of other folks whom I didn’t know then, but I am surely following now.  If you are interested they’ve made the talks available offline for a very reasonable fee, and you are bound to find something that is your cup of tea. Including a talk on Tasseomancy!

I’ve never been a very active member in the Tarot Readers and Cartomancy community and although over the years I have done endorsement programs for associations like TABI and BiddyTarot I tend not to get massively involved in the day to day chit chat. I never know what’s hot and what not amongst readers. Lenormand for an example pretty much passed me by when everyone was raving about it, I came to it years later in my own sweet time as the culmination of a natural course of study rather than some social influencer or group making it popular. But I do wonder now if I have been missing out. Anyway, one deck got mentioned  A LOT during the course of the weekend (well several did, but we will stick with just this one for the time being). The Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling deck. It’s a quirky little deck, its not Lenormand, its not playing cards, and its not Gypsy cards either. And yet somehow its a little bit of all three.

Published by US Games

A friend who also attended the conference described it as “the wild west of decks” and that couldn’t be more perfect a description. Currently published by US Games, this little deck can be bought for only £7 on Amazon (approx 6 USD). They are a 52 card poker sized deck perfect for a hand-bag or ruck sack. They have been around in some form or another for approximately 120 years, which makes them just a little bit older than the Rider Waite Smith deck. Cool huh!?! They are the result of German Lenormand emigrating to America, emancipating and getting its own identity. As an expanded 52 card deck only 35 of the cards could be considered to match the traditional Lenormand imagery, and then only just. The Garden is the Park, The Tower is “The Tower surrounded by clouds” etc. The Cross doesn’t even exist. Not to mention the fact that the playing card associations have been switched up. In addition I can’t not mention the fact that the cards are seriously ugly, they make Blue Owl Lenormand look pretty and worse still the ubiquitous ‘Little White Book” has no interpretations at all and yet there is a charisma about it you cannot ignore. If it was a boyfriend, your mum would call him “pretty ugly”. It makes for a quirky read.

The Roads turned to Dark Clouds a literal interpretation

Ive been doing my usual obsessing with a new deck, devouring everything I could find on the subject, living with the deck in my hand 24/7 for the last 10 days and the idea of it being Wild West, a Cowboy deck if you will, is really starting to ring true. Nobody really seems to agree on the exact nuances of reading this deck other than its a ‘quite literal’ and a bit ‘directional’ and sometimes ‘situational’.  However its the most direct, shoot from the hip, draw first ask questions later deck I have ever used. In a recent spread the past section of the reading was so scarily accurate I had to ask for a second opinion to make sure I wasn’t just projecting. I’ve never been a big “fortune teller” but I can see me using this this when people desperately want a yes/no reading because this deck is perfect for it. Its short sweet and oh so to the point I thoroughly recommend you give them a try.

I’d also recommend you give the WDA a go, they have courses on everything from Mexican Loteria to Russian Cartomancy. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so fired up and inspired and all because I got reminded that there is more to life than Tarot…..gasp horror!