Musings on Tarot Decks:

The Dali Tarot Deck created by the artist Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was one of the most important surrealist painters of our time. He was also very interested in the tarot. In 1972 Albert R Broccoli approached Dali about creating a tarot deck to be used by the tarot card reading character Solitaire in the James Bond film ‘Live or Let Die’. The Studio negotiated back and forth with Dali, but he was apparently too expensive. The studio then dropped the idea of hiring Dali and decided to use the different (cheaper) artist Fergus Hall. He created ‘‘The Tarot of Witches’ , the card deck used in the film:

Of course I own this deck in three forms—the complete ‘Witches deck’ (above) and two copies of the film version prop cards containing only the 25 cards used in the film, one deck still in plastic and one to play with.


But Dali was intrigued. Apparently beginning this project peaked his creative and mystical interest in the tarot to the point where he became obsessed with the idea of creating a deck. Encouraged by his partner, muse, and sometime model Gala, Dali went on to compile drawings for the entire tarot deck anyway. It was first published in a limited number of editions for sale in 1984 and my sweet, traveling musician boyfriend Pat (now my husband) brought me home The Dali deck from a trip to Spain. This original deck is now out of print and I treasure it, though I rarely use it:


Coincidentally, I also found an actual certified Dali print of ‘The Lovers’ card From that deck in a vintage shop in Johnson City. We have it in our bedroom wall.


Salvador Dali poses as the Magician:


His wife Gala becomes the Empress:


And Dali imagined, then illustrated, the scene of Julius Caesar’s death and it becomes the Ten of Swords:


Imagine my pleasure and surprise to find out that The Dali Tarot Deck is now in reprint! TASCHEN resurrects all 78 cards in a recreation of Dalí’s inimitable custom deck, complete with a book offering an introduction to Dalí’s life and the project’s making-of, a comprehensive explanation of each card’s composition, its meaning, and practical advice and step-by-step instructions on how to perform readings.
And best of all, you’ll find Dali’s signature on each card.


The set comes in a lavish, collectors box. Inside, the box is wrapped in a soft purple velveteen instead of the red velveteen of the original 1984 release. You will recognize Dalí’s signature wit as he combines it with a surreal kaleidoscope of art and European history. Smithsonian magazine.com even reviewed it, saying: “Images of classic art and Christian symbolism with a signature Dalí twist… a very surreal deck of cards.”
The accompanying book is a giant (11×14) oversized (184 pages) full colored and glossy, and it’s in English and Spanish. It was written by renowned German author Johannes Fiebigone, a leading Tarot expert and researcher, especially proficient in the psychological interpretation of Tarot symbols and oracles.


What I LOVE.

It’s Dali. Dalí is the first renowned painter to create a completely new set of Tarot cards. Just having them in your collection is important for any collector, I think. It looks great on a coffee table.

I also really love Dali’s 3 of Swords:

I think you can really feel the heartbreak in this card , the sadness and despair. It needs no title.

What I don’t love:

I had a hard time reading these cards when I first got them. Dalí’s images can be at the same time distinct and ambiguous. The titles of the court cards are in Spanish and English , but none of the Minor Arcana cards are labeled—in any way.

I put it on the shelf with my other special but unused cards, and never tried to read with them again. Until now.

I really dislike Dali’s ‘The World’ card:

What is he trying to say with this card?

If you get everything you want you will be chained to it? Why? The World card is supposed to be a good card, the successful culmination of challenges met. This feels more like ‘The Devil’ card to me.

The kit is housed in a big garish velvet box that fits the big, garish book but the actual cards are relatively small, the size of a standard deck of playing cards. Unlike my original Dali cards, which are 3” by 5 1/2” — big cards with a little book, this new release is a big book with little cards. I’m sure there is a reason, but I’m not aware of it.
My old Dali deck book doesn’t actually contain any info on the Minor Arcana at all, and no layouts. The only recommendations for distribution of the cards, and my favorites (and the ones I find myself frequently using) are the Gypsy card dealings:


I often, intuitively start tossing down cards in groups of three, and the meaning and order seem to change with the reading but this throw is easy to learn and easy to read.

Try it!

Dog Love


In the past, I was always a cat owner. When a dog appeared in some arena of my life, it was someone else’s dog, even if I was the one feeding it/him/her/them. Not being a dog owner, I never had to worry about rushing home from work to let the dog out, or replacing a clawed-up screen door because my dog was suffering an abandonment freak-out.

I appreciate the independence and apparent apathy of cats—their casual interest in me worked better with my work-a-holic single-mom lifestyle than a dog’s neediness.

Dogs have seemed to me a bit, well, co-dependent. But, things have changed in my life, and I have changed—I married a man who loves dogs. He’s always had at least one and when I met him he had several, none of them small or breed specific. He loves other folk’s dogs as well, and we can’t pass a dog-and-owner combo on foot or in a car without my guy fussing over the dog.

This has taught me a few things about dogs and dog owners—dogs can be comforting in their neediness, and in return dog owners can be comforted and yes, more compassionate as a result of loving them. There is a real something about a dog when they look at us and our eyes lock—that gives us a feeling of love and acceptance and belonging. I recently learned what that something is:

Smithsonian magazine says a dog’s gaze hijacks the brain’s maternal bonding system to cause both dog and human brains to secrete oxytocin, and feelings of love. Our minds and bodies use oxytocin to strengthen emotional bonds between us, mothers and children, husbands and wives, people and each other.

I recently read an article in The Guardian about a sudden surge of demand for dogs, in shelters and with breeders, noticeable beginning the first month of the Corona virus lockdown and quarantine in March. I can see why. We humans are trying to fill the voids left from losing our work environments to home offices, from isolated kids who need something to do, or no work but lots of free time, or from living alone with no way to safely socialize.

Scientists say a cuddle with our dog can alleviate stress, and disperses the ‘pleasure hormone’ dopamine, boosting our mood. Dogs make us happier and more compassionate. No wonder the entire country is experiencing a renewed need for canines, and it’s exciting and hopeful—we have dogs in the White House again.

An oak graveyard


There is a beautiful piece of land at the end of 290 just before you hit HWY 10. But for as long as I can remember, it was marred by miles and miles and miles of dead trees, miles of beautiful oaks devastated by oak wilt.

Passing this oak graveyard on the way to 10 used to make me sad.

Maybe it’s because I’m somewhat of a gardener, but I felt the pain of this spot keenly. I would imagine how lush and gorgeous these trees once were, how majestic this land used to be. Driving past these dead trees, seeing them droop there on rolling hills like piles of dried sticks, was a shock.

I used to try and imagine how expensive or complicated or impossible it would be for owners of this land to take some kind of action, to maybe cut down what must be thousands of trees, to somehow protect the remaining healthy ones? What would you do? Try to treat the remaining thousands left healthy with some sort of oak wilt medicine? Cut down the thousands of trees that have died?

For some reason, I always mentally obsessed each time I drove past this particular spot on my way to Marfa, or Big Bend, or Santa Fe, or California. But admittedly, it’s been a while.

So imagine my surprise this time, while driving west on 290 almost to 10– I couldn’t find the oak graveyard. I anticipated the spot like I always did, looking for the first dead oaks to signal the approach of the graveyard and preparing for the shock. But, I couldn’t find it.

I saw some dead, gnarled branches and stumps, some piles of cut wood, but I also found regrowth, a resurrection of sorts. I saw sprays of green from seemingly dead limbs. I saw new green tops on an old dead stump. It felt like I was witnessing a miracle, and I was. This was a visual representation of one of the most basic principles of life on our Earth: Death and rebirth.

In the classic Tarot card deck there is a card that scares most people when they see it misunderstanding it’s true, esoteric meaning—the ‘Death’ card. It rarely represents actual death, but really means the ‘ending of something as we know it’, and the beginning of a new cycle. Much like Dumbledore’s pet phoenix in Harry Potter, sometimes we have to accept endings (painful and dramatic) because new life needs to sprout from the old.

Yes, some of those trees never came back to life, some had to be cut down, some trees became hosts to parasite plants, cedars or wild grapes. Some stayed dead-looking, gnarled and brittle and lifeless. But for some of those oaks, their roots were strong enough to survive what must have felt like a death, only to come back to life a different shape, one leaf at a time. We need to remember this as we look around us at the world, and see endings.

Life will renew itself.

It’s a basic truth.

The Orbit of the Sublime

Recently my friend Carrie sent me something powerful, written by a nun, Sister Joan Chittister: “I have a parrot who does not sing. . . She screams for whatever she needs—But when I sing to her, or play music for her, she stands stark still and listens without making a sound. She just perches there. Almost breathless. Almost frozen. It’s totally out of character—and totally understandable—at the same time.

I watched her over and over again and then I got it: I do the same thing myself.

This felt like really beautiful and interesting timing.

While Pat and I were locked in together at home (because all his tours cancelled) we decided to make a record. We were just finishing what’s called ‘mastering’ and needed to check how the songs flowed together, so he would put the songs in different orders he thought might work and download the files to his phone. Then we’d go for a long drive through the hill country and listen to it on his car’s good speakers. Yesterday we did it twice, and the day before, twice.

Yesterday’s last drive back home happened to coincide with the setting sun and the most astounding orange sky. It felt like we were in a bubble, far removed from anything earthly or mundane.

Music. Exactly like Sister Chittister described it in her post: “It gives us balm. It touches our souls. It saves us from the straggle and cacophony of the world. It takes our noisy, crowded lives and quiets us in the orbit of the sublime.“

Quiets us in the orbit of the sublime—a poetic way to describe what happens to us when we listen to music.

Every living thing responds to music. I’ve seen photos of elephants rocking back and forth while a lone pianist serenades them, cows ambling across a meadow to a trio with violins playing Brahms next to their fence. I’ve seen excited macaques monkeys crawling all over a musician in a temple in Thailand.

There’s even a clear difference in the growth habits of plants having only silence in their environments or music. Plants prefer music, especially soft classical. The number of leaves increases, the number of flowers increases and seeds sprout faster.

Music is a true time machine—nothing can take you back to a moment in your life like a beloved piece of music. During this Covid shutdown, we have had no live music, no concerts, no jazz combos in dark clubs. But I know many, many musicians producing some stellar music in their quarantine, in their home studios.

This is why I know years from now, when we are looking at this virus thing in our rear view mirror, we will revel in the luscious abundance of music produced in 2020. This will be our silver lining. “Indeed, music is where the soul goes to put into notes what cannot be said in words.”

Tell it, Sister.

In the Orbit of the Sublime

Recently my friend Carrie sent me something powerful, written by a nun, Sister Joan Chittister: “I have a parrot who does not sing. . . She screams for whatever she needs—But when I sing to her, or play music for her, she stands stark still and listens without making a sound. She just perches there. Almost breathless. Almost frozen. It’s totally out of character—and totally understandable—at the same time.

I watched her over and over again and then I got it: I do the same thing myself.

This felt like really beautiful and interesting timing.
While Pat and I were locked in together at home (because all his tours cancelled) we decided to finish our record project. We were just finishing what’s called ‘mastering’ and we needed to check how the songs flowed together. Pat put the songs in different orders he thought might work and downloaded the files to his phone. Then we went for a long drive through the hill country and listened to it on his car’s good speakers. Yesterday we did it twice, and the day before, twice. Yesterday’s last drive back home happened to coincide with the setting sun and the most astounding orange sky. It felt like we were in a bubble, far removed from anything earthly or mundane.

Music.

Exactly like Sister Chittister described it in her post: “It gives us balm. It touches our souls. It saves us from the straggle and cacophony of the world. It takes our noisy, crowded lives and quiets us in the orbit of the sublime.“ Quiets us in the orbit of the sublime—a poetic way to describe what happens to us when we listen to music.

Every living thing responds to music.

I’ve seen photos of elephants rocking back and forth while a lone pianist serenades them, cows ambling across a meadow to a trio with violins playing Brahms next to their fence. I’ve seen excited macaques monkeys crawling all over a musician in a temple in Thailand.

There’s even a clear difference in the growth habits of plants having only silence in their environments versus music. Plants prefer music, especially soft classical. The number of leaves increases, the number of flowers increases and seeds sprout faster.

Music is a true time machine—nothing can take you back to a moment in your life like a beloved piece of music. During this Covid shutdown, we have had no opportunity to experience live music, no concerts, no jazz combos in dark clubs. But I know many, many musicians producing some stellar music in their quarantine, in their home studios. This is why I know years from now, when we are looking at this virus thing in our rear view mirror, we will revel in the luscious abundance of music produced in 2020. This will be our silver lining. “Indeed, music is where the soul goes to put into notes what cannot be said in words.”

Tell it, Sister.

The Great Affair is to Move . . .

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.“ ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The whole world has been on lock down, locked out of our favorite places, locked in with the same people for months and now it appears there’s no end in sight.

Real Estate sales are high, because when you’re locked in your home for an extended period of time, you really learn what you love and don’t love about it. As my nephew explained why he and his girlfriend moved, “We’ve spent so much time cooking and eating at home, we found we just couldn’t bear to do it in an apartment any longer. We needed a yard, or a garden, more outdoor space to spread out.”  

Most of us are feeling claustrophobic and irritable—no summer vacations jetting off to foreign lands, no leaving the house to go to work, no evenings out to attend concerts or parties. If we don’t get out of the house, we’re staring at the walls, and each other.

Bike sales have gone through the roof, with more and more families taking to the open road together. Most bike stores can’t keep up the demand without a waiting list.

Airports and airplanes have become scary places for many of us but we can’t stay home, inside, forever. So there is an obvious solution, one we’ve been straying from in our quest to see the world—we need to see America first, and we need to drive while we’re doing it.

We recently got an RV and if you know my husband and I you know that we are not campers, except in the most esoteric sense. But it turns out we are not alone, by any means. Our sales person told us he sold more RV’s in the week we bought ours than in the entire year up to June. He said his lot was sold out and waiting to fill the orders coming in, just like bike shops.

A whole new world opens up when you can take your kitchen, bed and bathroom with you wherever you go.

For instance, did you know Texas boasts 80 state parks (with at least ten featuring some luscious water to keep things a bit cooler in the summer)? And, that’s just Texas–we’ve got so many other states and state parks, and it’s very easy to keep your ‘social distance’ in the Great Outdoors.

Then, there are the magical National parks, a gift to Americans from the Earth and Teddy Roosevelt.

I’m now a big fan of the ‘Chip and Johanna Gains’ of the RV camping world—Marc and Trish with their ‘Keep Your Daydream’ YouTube videos, newsletters and Amazon shopping page. They set out with three kids, two adults, and a dog to spend six months on the road visiting National parks.
Four years later they’re still at it and blogging about it.

They had the courage to ‘Come down off this feather bed of civilization’ and now, we have all discovered we need to do it as well.

Let’s travel for travel’s sake’.
Lets fall in love with America again–It feels glorious.

Welcome to ‘‘The Tarot Primer Deck Review” – in AstroLogic Magazine

That famous food guy Anthony Bourdain once said, “Anyone can be a good cook—the only thing you need is the desire to be a good cook.” I feel the same way about reading the Tarot—-if you want to learn to read the cards, you can learn to read the cards—it just takes the desire.

I believe we are all born intuitive—-it’s a survival mechanism built into all animals. Our problem as humans is, we spend the next 20 years or so learning not to use our intuition, to base our decisions and judgements on facts, not feelings. Then you receive a deck as a gift, or inherit one from a beloved relative and it has sentimental value, or you bought A deck because you thought it was pretty. You struggle, then give up, thinking you have no talent. You don’t  pause to think that it might be the actual Tarot deck you are using isn’t ‘speaking to you’.

Some students believe if they inherit a tarot deck it means they are required by some special, secret Tarot law to use that deck. Others believe you are never supposed to buy your own deck, that a tarot deck needs to be given to you to work. None of this is true. If you’re given a deck, it is absolutely a sign you are supposed to study the Tarot, but you are not under any obligation to use that particular deck.

Not all decks speak to all people. When I first began holding Tarot workshops, I limited my class to no more than fifteen students, and I suggested six or seven different decks. Eventually, I struck each deck off my list for one reason or another until I now only recommend one.

I own 80 decks, and I’m still buying them. I love tarot decks, that’s why I collect them. But, do you know how many decks I actually use on a regular basis? Four, and one deck I use almost exclusively if I work an event or party, because if I accidentally lose a card it’s not catastrophic–I can buy that same deck again, brand new. It’s still in print.

I’ve discovered it’s the easiest deck to learn from for beginning readers. It’s perfect because it’s pretty and each card is a compilation of easily understood images brains recognize immediately.

This is the first deck I’m reviewing today. It’s the one one I now recommend exclusively for my students. You can get it on Amazon.

The Golden Tarot

by Australian designer Kat Black

To create The Golden Tarot Kat Black compiles images taken from art work, the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, and layers them to achieve a perfect representation of each card’s meaning, with lots of detail.

The cards have gilt edges and are printed on shiny, high quality card stock and aren’t so oversized as to make them difficult to shuffle.

 

You know a Tarot deck is going to be a good one when the ‘Queen of Wands’ Court Card shows a beautiful redhead with a sly smile. You are in no doubt this queen is fiery and interesting, maybe even a flirt.

Other favorite cards in this deck are:

The Eight of Swords:

— a perfect visual for that cards meaning— ‘A prison of your own making’. Loose blindfold easily removed, loose chains easily dropped, and swords stuck in snow. All her obvious impediments are either mere figments of her imagination or easily overcome.

She thinks she’s stuck, but she’s not. Perfect.

I also really love ‘The Empress’ card from the Major Arcana (Greater Secrets):

Babies, bunnies, Cupid’s, fruit, and a pregnant queen, everything you need to see in a card describing the “Celebration of the feminine”. Creation, birth, fertility, abundance, security, peace.

There’s so much to love with this deck I had to search to find a negative, but nothings perfect—-I don’t like her ‘Wheel of Fortune’ card (from the Major Arcana.)

The Wheel is so small, barely visible in the upper left hand corner of the card. But look at it— what exactly is happening here? A woman with a baby in bed, a priest burning something under the bed, but what? its supposed to be a classic nativity scene, but this card feels like a stretch to represent the meaning of ‘Roll the dice, take a chance, there are no guarantees—-it’s a gamble’.

Even the meaning Black writes in the great little book she includes with the cards seems vague– “Life will always send you challenges to overcome”. This just feels like a strange description of the way I read that card’s meaning in my readings. Give me a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ card with a big wheel and little else, and I’m pretty happy.

Otherwise, a near-perfect deck.

Kat Black also included an interesting layout in her little book and one I’ve never used before.

It’s called The Horseshoe Spread:

This is my new, favorite spread when we have a question that needs answering.

Ask yourself a question and hold it in your mind. Choose one of the Court Cards (one of the queens, kings or knights you feel most resembles ‘The Querent’ (the person asking the question) and place it face up in position ‘0’. Cut the cards and shuffle the cards, cut, shuffle, cut. Do this three times, then take the cards from the top and place them face up in this order (see diagram):

1. Past. Factors in the past that are affecting the situation.

2.  Present situation. Current factors that are known now and obvious.

3.  Hidden influences. Factors currently at work that you are not aware of.

4.  Obstacles. Impediments, both obvious and hidden, in the way of the querent.

5.  House. Close friends and family and their influence.

6.  Action. The best path to take for a successful outcome.

7.  Outcome. The most important card in the layout—-The answer. If it’s a Court Card, the answer a person.

Read the cards linearly from left to right, repeat the key words for each card and allow them to paint a moving picture in your mind, much like a series of storyboards for a film.

If the answer isn’t clear to you, shuffle and do it again. Pay attention to any repeat cards. Those are the important cards for the answer to your question.

If you have any other questions, or just want another take on one of your own readings, contact me at pinkchronicity@gmail.com.

— Read on www.astrologicmagazine.com/welcome-to-the-tarot-primer-deck-review/

I stop writing the poem


“I stop writing the poem to fold the clothes. No matter who lives or who dies, I’m still a woman.

I’ll always have plenty to do.

I bring the arms of his shirt together. Nothing can stop our tenderness.

I’ll get back to the poem. I’ll get back to being a woman. But for now there’s a shirt, a giant shirt in my hands, and somewhere a small girl is a tanding next to her mother watching to see how it’s done.”

~ Tess Gallagher

Tess Gallagher wrote the poem above at what was probably the most fragile period of time in her life. Her life partner Raymond Carver just died six months after marrying. She was in the vortex of writing poems for the soon-to-be-iconic collection “Moon Crossing Bridge”, so the pause for reflection on the healing nature of mundane tasks, and the importance of continuing with the seemingly endless chores life demands of us was profound for her.

We can feel the grief behind her words.

She describes the ordinary yet necessary chore of folding clothes, and we get it.

Sometimes, when it comes to ‘being of service’, we can’t even manage to be of service to ourselves. We are forced by the worst circumstances to sort through closets we don’t even want to look at, clean up after an endless barrage of children-at-home days, and return a myriad of well meaning emails and phone calls, when our strongest need is to curl up under the blankets and never leave our bed.

But that’s exactly why it’s so important to make ourselves a cup of tea and do the laundry. It’s important to put one foot in front of the other, scrub a floor, make a pot of soup, fold a shirt.

“No matter who lives or who dies”, we always have laundry. We can either avoid these small, repetitive acts of mundane service or use them to ground us and remind us:

There will be a tomorrow and life goes on.

Water the Dirt

I think it’s obvious I’m a big fan of making the best of a situation. When my daughters were very small and I was a young, single mom struggling to create a career, I never had the funds for a highly polished and landscaped living situation. We always had to make due with a fixer-upper rent house, and I’d try to get the landlord to pay the water bill. I smile now as I remember standing in the dirt at the end of a very long work day, a citronella candle burning on the front porch and a watering hose in my hand.

Watering plants can be satisfying, almost like a meditation, but watering dirt requires a strong faith in, and hope for, the future. As I water, I visualize sprigs of grass where I’m sure a lawn once thrived, and flowering shrubs in the beds next to the house, planted by a previous tenant. I imagine they lay dormant under the dry earth, waiting for just a little encouragement.

It didn’t take long before I saw sprigs of grass sprouting in the once-barren dirt and I’d pay special attention to these. Often when I didn’t have time to do the whole yard, I’d just soak just those tiny, hopeful sprouts. And they spread. Eventually these would connect with other tiny, hopeful sprouts and we would have a green lawn of sorts, with holes. Then, I’d hand water the holes.

When I bought the property where my salon is now, we had to remove about five years of oak tree leaves to create a front yard and parking lot behind my new old farmhouse. The ground beneath the leaves was rich and black, but barren. So, when the leaves were finally gone I started watering the dirt. In about a year winter rye popped up in the back area and one side of my front yard had grass. As I watered the dirt in the other side, a client walked by. “What are you doing?” she asked me. “I’m watering my lawn”, I said. “Well, it looks like you’re watering dirt!” she said. I smiled, because that was exactly what I was doing.

I think about this frequently while looking at our new reality, the social distancing life style, the radical changes in our once-secure jobs and finances, the cavernous divide in relationships because of idealogical differences. How interesting it is that so many people rebel against the most basic of the changes in our daily lives. They want things back the way they were. They want their green lawn, now. But now is the time for us to look for the sprouts, the tiny signs of possible growth in a scorched earth.

I have a friend whose college professor told him to “Look at who is still working through this pandemic—Those professions are the future”. So we could do the same thing with our lives. Where is the spark of inspiration, the movement (no matter how tiny), the sprig of green? Pay attention and water it. You never know what kind of lush green new possibility will grow from it and it just might make you happy. Happier, possibly, than your old reality.

Soon you won’t be watering dirt anymore.