Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Show your love! Purchase a deck by February 14!

Due to a recent upsurge in sales of the Tarot of the Absurd, I have decided to celebrate by increasing the price of the deck by $2.00 on February 14th.

 

Two bucks! That’s right! Not even the price of a Starbucks coffee. Nonetheless, you may ask yourself, why so much?  The answer is simple: I need a raise. I make approximately $2.90 per hour on this deck, which was the federal minimum wage in 1979.  I live in Vermont where the minimum wage is currently $8.73. How much more money will I make with a price increase of two bucks? Unfortunately, very, very little.

 

Lucky for you all, new price is still a totally awesome deal for a signed & numbered limited edition hand-finished 100% made in USA tarot deck. Buy one now!

 

sales photo

 

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Three of Coins — Tarot of the Absurd

craftsmanship • artisanship • skill • talent maximization

 3 of coins tarot meaning

This card is often called the “teamwork” card. However, as an introvert, I prefer to call it the “talent maximization” card.

 

“Introvert” and “extrovert” are words that describe how one responds to stimulation, especially external stimulation. While extroverts crave large amounts of social stimulation, introverts generally feel most capable in quiet, low key environments. This is because the brains of introverts and extroverts are wired differently. The ratio of introverts to extroverts is possibly 50-50, with most people falling along a continuum somewhere close on either side of middle-ground: a bell-curve.

 

The key to maximizing individual talent is to put ourselves in situations where the mode of stimulation is right for us.  Unfortunately for introverts, the current trend in schoolrooms and workplaces is to maximize productivity for extrovert teamwork: classrooms have little pods of desks and kids are expected to act as committee members in all subjects; most offices are open-plan, without walls. It is difficult to maximize one’s talent when one’s social setting works against it.

 

It is important to realize that different people have different productivity requirements. It is also important to remember that their are many people on our “team” who remain unseen, behind the scenes. Whether we work best alone or with a group of people, when we work toward the fulfillment of our dreams and improve manners that may be hindering our success, we move closer toward achieving success in our goals. Whether the skills that make our craft come out best in an isolation chamber or at a rave, we are still interdependent within society. The Three of Coins tells us to maximize our own skill and to be appreciative of the teams of people who make our work viable.

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

King of Cups — Tarot of the Absurd

KIng of Cups Meaning

*

The King of Cups was the final card illustrated for the Tarot of the Absurd. My baby was coming soon. Working all day in front of the computer made my ankles disappear into puffiness. I needed a King, and I needed him fast. I cheated— I, too, stole the image of an ancient god.

 

At first, humans were rather wretched and lived like all other wild beasts. But within one year, a reasonable beast named Oannes emerged from the Erythian Sea, at the point where it borders Babylonia (i.e.: the Persian Gulf). He had a fish’s body. Above his fish’s head he had a man’s head. Human feet emerged from beneath his fish’s tail. His voice was human. He was never seen to eat.

 

He passed his days among civilization. He taught the use of letters, sciences and arts of all kinds. He taught men to construct cities, to found temples, and to compile laws. He explained the principles of geometry. He made them learn their plants and showed them how to harvest. In short, he humanized them. No one has ever improved on his instructions. And when the sun set, Oannes retired into the sea, for he was amphibious. After this, there appeared other animals like Oannes.**

 

Over the years, the confusion of gods multiplies. Who came from whom? Where are the origins? One can trace the threads of mythology’s history like a spider’s web, each strand weaving back upon the others to create a structural whole that makes sense for the present time. Deconstructing mythology— deconstructing the spider’s web— is fascinating from a historical point of view, from a story-teller’s point of view, and from the point of view of those interested in following multitudes back to unity. Mythology is the bizarre sort of lineage where a parent begets a child and the child becomes not just a parent, but the parent of his own self.

 

Deluge and recovery. Subjugation, assumption, resurrection. In order to better subjugate the conquered people, the gods of the victors assume characteristics of the gods of the vanquished, and the gods of the vanquished rise again. Thus the names and places of gods change through the ages, one god after another taking on similar forms and forces, gods amassed and gods split

 

Adapa. Oannes. Dagon. Poseidon. Neptune. Triton. Delphin. Noah. Names of gods come and go, but the robes of priesthood have changed very little. Three or five or seven thousand years later, Catholic popes and bishops still wear the headdress dedicated to an ancient Babylonian water god.

 

 

… and after this, there appeared other animals like Oannes…

Oannes

***

 

* My illustration is very, very closely modeled after a bas-relief carving of a fish-garbed priest on temple of the god Ninurta (Saturn) at Kalhu (biblical Calah), ca. 883-859 BCE Assurnasirpal II. Source: Anthony Green, Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia, An Illustrated Dictionary, p. 83. fig. 65. Published in London by the British Museum, in association with the University of Texas Press, Austin. 1992.

fish garbed priest

 

** Story, in italics, adapted from Berossus, a 3rd century BCE Babylonian priest. Oannes is born of the Mesopotamian god Enki, whose origins go back to the 5th century BCE in Sumer; i.e.: as far back as we have writing.

 

*** Pen&Ink ilustration by Syrena Seale. Image used without permission, but I would like to use it, with permission, in my book. To see the original image and to see more of Syrena Seale’s work, click here or click on her illustration.

 

pope mitre

 

 

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Knight of Sticks — Tarot of the Absurd

Knight of Sticks TarotCharge! Knight of Sticks pursues the spark of his idea. Ready to take on the world, he charges at his goal. Go! Go! Strong with courage, he fears nothing. Aiming his bow to the sky, he shoots the moon. Let fly! He tucks those with less valor under his strong arm that they might ride. Come ride! Thus, he sets off his journey in haste. Though he has no clear plan of attack, he has glory in his eyes. And O!— he is a thrilling lover with his love for action.

 

But O! too— he is impatient and impulsive, and consequences be damned! When there is no clear goal, the Knight of Sticks is liable to get restless and act recklessly. He needs to learn about the consequences of his actions. Not every problem can be “fixed” right away; not everything can be controlled. Many things are made worse when one does not take the time to think. In order to keep out of trouble, it is necessary to give this Knight one’s full attention.

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Imageless Update

I am plodding away at my book.

It is perhaps 1/4 done.

I am doing the easy parts first.

Does anyone here have any editing experience?

And:

I made my first Amazon sale!

Anyone who has purchased a deck thru here

is encouraged to head on over to Amazon to write a glowing review.

Please?

Pretty please?

With sugar on top?

And a cherry?

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Empress — Tarot of the Absurd

A few people have asked me what’s up with the crazy hat on the Empress. The Empress is an early card, one of the first ones I illustrated. This was, like, 14 years ago, back when I was still experimenting with which medium I’d draw the deck in, and I didn’t even know there were more than 22 important cards. Anyhow, the truth is, I just like drawing fancy hats on silhouettes.

 

My love of fancy hats stems from early childhood. Did you ever read the “I Can Read” book “Go Dog, Go!” ? There’s this one lady dog who keeps asking a guy dog, “Do you like my hat?” and he keeps saying, “I do not.” Until the end, when her hat is so fancy, and he says, “I do I do! I like that hat!” Or something to that extent. I haven’t read the book in 30 years or so, but it’s a classic. And then there’s the book “Mother, Mother I Feel Sick, Send for the Doctor, Quick Quick, Quick” which was highly influential in my illustration style and not without a fancy hat (Have you seen my hat?), and of course there were Arthur Rackham’s elegant silhouetted hats, and “The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins,” all of which I found delightful. My artistic influences did not stretch much beyond what I saw in children’s book illustration. In the end, this keeps the deck light-hearted and fun.

 

But about the Empress’ hat, really, I was just putting fancy hats and crazy hair on people. Most of the fancy hats disappeared and the crazy hair became quite tame. The Kings, the last cards to be illustrated, do not have a hair out of place. The Empress kept her crazy hat and her children kept their crazy hair. It’s a very important hat.

Empress

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Two of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

2blade

The Two of Blades is a simple image depicting two balanced forces. Balanced forces may be opposites, or they may be partners. They may work together, or they may oppose each other. Balanced forces working in conjunction with one another may accomplish great things. Balanced forces at odds with one another go no where. It is important to notice the aim of your force in relation to surrounding energies.

 

I equally want to sleep and want to get things accomplished while my baby naps. (Hooray!) In the middle of these balanced forces, I get tiny crumbs of action accomplished that never seem to amount to anything and I am chronically low on sleep. Horrid compromise! How can I change it so that all my energy works toward the same goal?

 

Clarify my goals

Have fewer goals

Outline the steps needed to attain my goals

Organize my time better

Don’t have any fun (wot???)

 

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Tarot of the Absurd for sale on AMAZON!

The Tarot of the Absurd is now for sale on Amazon!

(Tho why anyone would buy it there instead of here is beyond me.)

 

It is pretty straight-forward to list a product on Amazon,

if they already carry it.

If they don’t carry it, it’s another story.

I couldn’t figure how to list the deck properly,

so I put it in the “everything else” category,

which, it turns out, is against Amazon policy.

I needed assistance.

 

I invited over a babysitter, then dialed.

HOLD (10 minutes.)

He answered.

I told my story.

He said:

I couldn’t change the category; I’d have to make a new listing.

It is against Amazon policy to list in the “everything else” category.

I’d have to put it in “children’s toys & games.”

I said:

It’s not a children’s toy: it’s targeted to neither boys nor girls nor unisex children!

He said:

Call the feeds department and wait on hold.

HOLD (infinite)

 

INTERLUDE while on hold:

After 35 minutes of hold time,

I called Amazon on another line with another phone,

waited on hold, then spoke to a representative.

She said:

Hold times are very long.

Then we were disconnected.

I called back, was put on hold,

then got the same representative.

I told her the issue & my current hold time with the feeds department.

We were disconnected.

Five minutes later, she called me back through the original phone

(somehow, you see, because I was still on hold, over 40 minutes now) & said:

The feeds department would be of no use to you.

They will not be able to change the category

unless you update your Amazon seller account

to a PRIME seller account at $39.99 per month.

Would you like to update your account now?

I said:

I will not even sell forty bucks of stuff per month!

I have ONE item.

She said:

She said, well, too bad.

(pause)

She said:

Do you want to talk to the feeds department anyhow?

They won’t do anything for you.

I said:

I’ve been on hold over 40 minutes! OF COURSE I want to talk to them!

She said:

Okay, I’ll contact you with the feeds department.

 

During the intervening NEXT 15 minutes of hold,

I decide to fill in a review of Amazon

about how my interaction went

and whether I’d tell others to sell on Amazon based on my experience.

 

You can imagine I did not write a glowing review.

 

Eventually, the feeds department answered.

I asked:

Why are the hold times are so long?

They said:

There are a lot of people calling the feeds department.

I asked:

But what IS the feeds department?

They said:

We control the spreadsheets.

I decided it was not important that I understand. I said:

Okay, I need my item in the proper category.

After which there was a lot of discussion, which boiled down to this:

There are some categories that are off-limits

to people who do not pay the $39.99 monthly prime seller fee,

and would you like to upgrade your account now?

I said:

Look. I’m not even going to sell $40 of stuff each month.

It is against Amazon policy to have my item listed as it is listed now,

it is not a toy or game aimed at boys and girls,

and I have one item.

They said:

Too bad for you!

(ha-ha!)

 

 

I think at this point someone noticed the

less-than-glowing review I just sent in.

After ten minutes of chatter they let me know:

they were doing me a huge favor

by changing the feed so my item would be in the correct category

which is really off limits to me unless I pay for it

but they are doing me a special favor

and they certainly won’t do it again (they informed me)

so please wait on hold for two minutes

which really turned out to be fifteen

but at the end of that fifteen minutes the category was changed

corrected I think

as it stands now

it should be right.

 

One hour twenty minutes on the phone,

most of it on hold. Just to change the category.

Maybe someday I’ll sell a deck on Amazon!!!

 

Anyone out there who has purchased a deck,

I would be most grateful

if you would be willing to write a nice review on Amazon.

You do not have to say much: just a few words of what you like.

I’ll post on my blog when I sell my first deck there.

Please do not hold your breath…

 

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Death — Niki de Saint Phalle Tarot Cards

niki st phalle tarot deck cards

 

 

 

I have recently acquired, via moolah, the Nikki St. Phalle tarot cards. I first encountered this deck ages ago, when it was newly released. At that time I decided that I only wanted 78-card decks, which remains true, for the most part. With this purchase, I feel as if my unintentional collection is complete. At least for now. Now I want to buy a really expensive camera.

*   *   *

 

 

 niki de saint phalle cards

One of the main ways cultures around the globe deal with death is through ritual and religion. In my family, discussion of religion generally progressed something like this:

 

Setting: Yellow 1977 VW bus, long road trip. External reference to apostles.

 

Me: “What’s an apostle?”

 

Mom (to me): “I think the four apostle were named Peter, Paul, Luke and John.” (to my father): “Is that right Paul?” (My mom was born of Jews.)

 

Dad: (noncommittal grunting sounds indicating probable ignorance.)

 

Me: “But what did they do?”

 

(pause)

 

Mom: “Paul? You went to Catholic school.”

 

Dad: (emphatic grunting sounds indicating definite ignorance)

 

Me: “Nobody knows what they did?

 

Dad: “Exactly. Nobody knows what they did.”

 

*   *   *

 

Eventually, I asked my mother why she brought us up without teaching us about religion. “I taught you about compost,” she replied. “Birth, death and regeneration all right there. Isn’t that religion?”

 

Eat food. Put scraps in the Temple of Compost. Visit the Temple, turn the pile. Wait. Add scraps. Visit. Turn. Add. Wait. Visit. Turn. (Winter. Spring.) Plant garden. Add compost. Repeat. Is it religion?

 

I sincerely believe in compost. I have never, in all my wanderings, put my foodstuffs into the trash. My younger sister and I speak in hushed tones about stealth composting systems we have developed for honoring the biodegradable potential of uneaten edibles while living in urban areas where there is seemingly no place where one can decay in peace. Hush, hush. Let it rot.

 

There is no dogma. There is no incontrovertible truth other than the truth of potential. The only absolute is the absolute potential for Death to bring forth new life. This is what we must honor; this is what we must facilitate.

 

Denying Death, denying waste, denying that which we see as unwanted or unusable or trash does not make it disappear. Putting trash someplace where we cannot see it does not make it disappear. Turning our heads away from Death does not make Death disappear. Turning our heads from Death causes Death to linger, haunting future generations with illness and waste.

 

Stockpiling Death does not make death go away. We stockpile Death in wastelands caused by pollution dumped through unseen “necessities” of modern life such as waste disposal, mining, demolition, concentrated animal feed operations, driving and roadbuilding (unseen, yes, because we ignore the waste), hospitalization, and so on. When waste is ignored, Death wins. When the potential energy of “waste” is honored and movement toward this potential is facilitated, we need not fear Death. This is the religion.

 

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Death — Vertigo Tarot

Godfather Death

 

Having come to a temporary halt on this blog, I’ve seriously been trying to work on the book for this deck. I’m taking all the entries and putting them in order to see what I have. What I have, it seems, is sort-of like a scrap-book. It’s interesting and eclectic. Sometimes, I spend a lot of time writing and I’m sure, in the end, what I have written won’t make it into the book. Research for a folk-tale for arcana #13 is one example. I wanted to find a folk-tale about a man who had tricked Death. The following story is such a tale. I like how the boy in the story is the 13th child and how the man turns down god as a godfather. I like how easy it was for him to trick Death— once. But of course, in the end, Death always has the upper hand. Anyhow. I don’t think I’ll put it into the book, so I hope someone here reads it and finds it amusing. It took a lot of time to pare down the story into something fun and brief. It is called—

 

Godfather Death*

 

Once upon a time there was a poor old man who had twelve children. When a thirteenth was born he did not know where to turn for help. He ran out into the highway to ask the first person whom he met to be the godfather.

 

First God came walking down the road. He said to the man, “I pity you. I will hold your child at his baptism, and care for him, and make him happy on earth.”

“I do not wish to have you for a godfather,” said the man. “You give to the rich, and let the poor starve.”

The man went on his way.

 

Next the devil came down the road. “If you will take me as your child’s godfather,” said the devil, “I will give him an abundance of gold and all the joys of the world.”

“I do not wish to have you for a godfather,” said the man. You deceive mankind and lead them astray.”

He went on his way.

 

At last came Death, walking on withered legs. “Take me as your child’s godfather,” he said, “for I make everyone equal, without distinction. He who has me for a friend cannot fail.”

The man said, “Next Sunday is the baptism. Be there on time.”

Death appeared as he had promised and held the child at baptism.

 

When the boy grew to a young man, Death took his godchild into the woods and said to him, “Now you are to become a doctor. Pay attention when you are called to a sick person. If I am standing at his head, let him smell from this flask, then anoint his feet with its contents, and he will regain his health. But if I am standing at his feet, I will soon take him. Do not attempt to begin a cure.” With that Death gave him the flask, and the young man became a renowned doctor.

 

Once, he was summoned to the king, who was suffering from a serious illness. When the doctor approached, he saw Death standing at the king’s feet. His flask would be of no use. But it occurred to him that he might deceive Death. He took hold of the king and turned him around, so that Death was now standing at his head. It succeeded, and the king regained his health.

 

After the doctor returned home, Death came to him with a grim face. “If you ever again attempt to deceive me, I shall wring your neck,” said Death

 

Soon, the king’s beautiful daughter took ill. No one on earth could help her. The king wept day and night, until finally he proclaimed that whoever could cure her could have her as a reward. The doctor came and saw Death standing at her feet. Astonished at her beauty, he forgot the warning, turned her around, let her smell from the healing flask, and anointed the soles of her feet with its contents.

 

He had scarcely returned home when Death seized him and carried him to an underground cavern. There, the physician saw thousands and thousands of candles burning in endless rows, some large, others medium-sized, others small. Every instant some died out and others were lit. Little flames jumped about in constant change.

“These are the life-lights of mankind,” said Death, then pointed to a little stump that was just threatening to go out. “There is yours!”

“Oh, dear godfather,” said the horrified physician, “light a new one for me that I may enjoy my life and become king and the husband of the beautiful princess.”

“I cannot,” answered Death, “for one must go out before a new one is lighted.”

 

The physician immediately fell into hands of Death.

 

*Re-told from Children’s and Household Tales— Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Berlin, 1812 & 1857, Tale no. 44. The Grimms’ source: Marie Elisabeth Wild (1794-1867). Variations of the tale are found dating back to 1553.