Healing with the Playing Card Oracles

Making the cards

a self-made ceremonial version of PCO Alchemy

Going back to the Playing Card Oracles (PCO) has become a tradition of sorts for me. It occurs naturally. Without me thinking about it. When my mind is overwhelmed, preoccupied, uncentered, or when I’ve been over-saturated with other decks and perhaps even with clients, the PCO slides into my hands with  familiar certainty and the repair begins.

Divination is my calling, and cartomancy specifically is a bit of an obsession. I love researching historical decks while supporting new and emerging artists by investing in their art. I enjoy learning new systems of Divination, while always honing my skills. I even experience a sensory, ASMR-like enjoyment from shuffling and handling certain decks.

Although I’ve been reading cards for over 25 years now, I took a sabbatical of a few years, after suffering a massive burn injury while being three months pregnant with my daughter. (Actually I’ve just celebrated my eighth burniversary last week!!!)

BURN-HOSPITAL-FINGERSThe injury itself had nothing to do with my ability to read or shuffle cards. My hands, thank Goodness, weren’t damaged by the fire. Outside of 75% of my skin that was compromised — either due to third-degree burns or because it was used for skin grafting — it was my trust in the Divine that overnight was burnt to ashes, transforming into a rage against everything spiritual I held on a soul-pedestal before the accident.

While I began the long process of rehabilitation, my collection of cards was packed away, per my request, and most of my spiritual possessions given to friends and colleagues.

The following years were spent in healing, both physically and emotionally. Mostly it felt like I was given an infernal membership in a special kind of hell, taking private dance lessons with my demons, as I taught myself how to walk again in real life. The learning curve was steep: from learning about who I really was skin deep, to the fluctuating loyalties of the world around me. I even discovered that it’s possible giving birth in compression garments! (Sorry, burn survivors’ sarcasm.)

However, it is when I saw my daughter for the first time though — a healthy, chubby bun of divine light, with a head full of thick black hair — that I realized inside my chest still existed a heart overflowing with hope, even during the darkest times with my own psyche setting itself on fire.

Fast-forward to a few years later, following a relocation from my beloved Bay Area to the Midwest; to buying a house, to attempting a new career. I was a different woman I thought. Then, out of the blue, I found myself shuffling cards again. I can’t recall how a that PCO deck got out of the trunk and into my hands. But it did. And with it many realizations.

I was aware of the sense of comfort spreading with, as I handled these loose leaves of paper. I missed card reading so much!. And these playing cards have brought an essential part of me back to life.

That fall I dug up the book that came with the cards, and taught myself Ana Cortez’ method. I found her YouTube channel, and later became a student in her online school.

In spring I was fully back to reading cards, rejoining Hoodoo Psychics and AIRR, a magical services organization which I helped founding.

The original PCO deck, as well as the Alchemy addition, hold a comforting sense of clarity to me. The story of my draws unfold naturally, taking shape in the spaces between the suits and the numbers, comparing and contrasting with the colorful characters. Meaning makes itself knows via questions like: “Is there a balance between the red and the black cards? Are all of the suits represented? Can the pips guard their ground against the assertive courts? Is this a prediction of a battle, or an idyllic fairytale of love?”

It’s 10 am, and it is gloomy in Lombard, IL. I woke up with a heavy heart due to dreams of financial crisis and unfinished business. As I sip on fragrantly thick coffee my partner has brewed for me, I instinctually reach for a deck on my nightstand. I shuffle with the intention to make meaning for my state of mind. Is it something external that’s coming at me? Is it spiritual in nature? (In my business witch-wars are as real as gang activity.)

The deck I’m using today is a small PCO Alchemy deck. I’m comforted by the familiar, black and white constellation of the backs, and the way the wholesome paper-stock feels to my fingers.

I draw a vertical, four-card spread — pulling three Clubs and one Spade. The lack in red suits reflects the heaviness of the gloomy weather outside. A confirmation that the cards, my Self, and the world around us is in tune.

Playing cards oracles - alchemy edition

daily draw

The majority of Clubs places a significant emphasis on the Air element, which corresponds to the Thinking Mind. It says loud and clear: “You’re in your head!”

At the top is Sir Galahad (9 of Clubs). He is the “proper” knight, always trying to do the right thing.

Next shows up The Wand (3 of Clubs), looking like an extension of Galahad’s trebuchet, shamelessly revealing my “bi-polar” state of mind. It stresses that I’ve been, without much success, attempting to juggle very positive and very negative thought patterns. If anything, this “Janus” energy is aggravating, and it’s making me slightly cray cray, which is highlighted in the next card, the 5 of Clubs — Wind Cape.

The cards shamelessly telling me that while I imagine my shit has been under control, the truth is that I’m “loosing it.”

Finally, The Sword of Destruction (7 of Spades), actually brings some solace. Even though it’s a a heavy card from a troublesome suit, its redeeming quality pierces at the foot of the spread; a placement where Earth, an element represented by the Spade suit, is dignified. In a way it grounds the other three Air cards. It helps me stay functional, by offering an “out of the self-mindfuckery jail” ticket.

In other words, the cards suggest that accepting the erratic moodiness my current state of mind generates is the first step for healing and stability.

The more I meditate on this, the more the draw makes sense.  After all Mercury just went Retrograde, and the Moon is in Gemini.

 

 

 

 

Madame Nadia is a hereditary diviner, a celebrity psychic, an initiated Palera and Macumbera, and a co-host of Fit+Foxy podcast. For spiritual consultations and magical tutoring: www.madamenadia.com/readings

Get Your Scent On — New Incense Collection by The Wild Unknown

Decks for the show

Using The Wild Unknown with oracle and playing cards

If you’ve been following this blog or my Facebook page several years ago, you know that I’ve raved about The Wild Unknown tarot way before it became an item on every reader and their sister’s list. The fab deck created by a multidisciplinary artist, Kim Krans, who among other things is a singer in the Family Band, with her partner Arjan Miranda, was an immediate iCandy for me. But in addition to having a revolutionary aesthetic, the cards also read like a mofo. In any case, I really shouldn’t say much more about this pack because we all have it and love it. If you haven’t watched the video to their single, Moonbeams, though, you really should.

The news coming from house of The Wild Unknown is their

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Reading The Wild Unknown Tarot along with bones, and an antique Dondorf Lenormand oracle cards. 

own Incense Collection. I enjoy burning incense during my divination sessions, and find this to be a transformative agent that helps not only to connect with Spirit, but also provides a means of shaking off spiritual funk that weighs down consultations and our own selves into the pits of unnerving gravity, so my hyper, triple-Gemini self just couldn’t not share these news with the world.

[Shameless plug in — if you need your cards read or your fortune told, go to www.MadameNadia.com/Readings and book a session with me. I promise you it will be fabulously life-transforming]

The two scents currently offered are Nag Champa Blossoms, Sacred Sandalwood, and the cost is $16 per (a little overpriced in my opinion).

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So, even though I haven’t yet tried these puppies myself, I am sharing a link to the sales page with y’all.

 

 

If you get a chance to sniff these new olfactory creations before I do, please let me know your thoughts in a the comment section below.

 

Affectionately,

Madame N. 

 

(Disclaimer, I haven’t received any free merch, or was asked to promote the product)

La Vera Sibilla Readings Tomorrow on the LMRH Show

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3X3 Sibilla matrix spread 

La Vera Sibilla cards have been sort of an obsession of mine for almost a year now. It’s a fascinating, pack of 52 fortunes that is read upright and reversed. Each card sports a small square on the left, top corner, with pip inserts corresponding to suits and numbers of a traditional playing cards deck, as well as two “lottery” numbers at the bottom of each card. Like other “sentimental”* packs, La Vera Sibilla look like a not-so-far-removed cousin to the “The Parlor Sibyl” family.

 

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a Parlor Sybil deck

 

Learning how to read the Sibillas has been challenging. Firstly, I do not speak Italian. And secondly, when you finally find access to the cards’ definitions, there is a ridiculous amount of meanings to memorize for each card. So far the 52 shady ladies of La Vera Sibilla pack turned out to be consistently and unapologetically on point — just like I like it.

 

If you’d like to experience the Sibillas in action, I’d be thrilled if you tune in to the Lucky Mojo Rootwork Hoodoo Hour show, today, Sunday, May 29th, over on blogtalk. The show airs at 5:00 PM Central Time. I will be filling-in for Miss Cat, and co-hosting the show, reading fortunes, and prescribing conjure remediations alongside  ConjureMan Ali. The show is also archived, and available for later listen over on on iTunes.

Hope to see you in the chatroom ❤

Madame N.

 

PS

Please let me know if you’d like to read more about my experience with La Vera Sibilla, or see sample readings.

 

  • Sentimental decks refer to oracle decks that were read primarily by women, for women. The readings were centered primarily on romantic

 

Cartomantic Erotica — Of first loves and long-lost decks

Queen of Clubs, Prince Karte No. 402, Dondorf Certainly my first love, when it comes to fortunetelling, is hand down cards.

In fact, I clearly remember sitting on top of my father’s heavy, writing desk, as I spent hours upon hours looking through a fancy deck of playing cards that I would secretly retrieve from the top right drawer, where he kept it alongside a plastic sample pacemaker (… don’t ask… ), and other trinkets I cannot recall anymore.

Those cards had traditional-looking pips, and I can’t remember anything really significant about those. But the face cards… The face cards is a whole other story! They were glorious.

Courts, Prince Karte No. 402

Elegantly dressed with some German flare to their coats, the face cards seemed to look straight at me each time I would pull one. Liberally, the picture cards shared with me stories of old kings, regal queens, and boisterous knaves. They even gossiped about one another, whispering into my mind’s ear about embarrassing moments unworthy of royalty. Their tales echoed in the castles of my young imagination. And as these face cards danced out their royal affairs right next to me, their glossy card stock stood out against the deep brown of my father’s old writing desk.

I spent many days with that deck, handling it with love, admiration, and fascination.

Many years have passed since, and I never thought I’d see those cards again. That lovely deck, as other non-essential belongings, had to be left behind the iron curtain as we immigrated from USSR to Israel in 1988.

But the great appreciation of the intimately pleasing, almost tingly, sensation I got when I shuffled through that deck of playing cards has never wore off. As I went through cartomantic puberty, in my late teens and early twenties, I developed farther the tingly skill of caressing my decks; running my hands along the edges, shuffling papery leaves in between my fingers, and the scent of vintage paper — all of these are sensory triggers for me. Though I admit that some decks do it for me more than others 😉

Pips, Prince Karte No. 402

Fast forward to late 2013 — 25 years later. I look through an online card archive — not an unusual activity for a card addict… ahem… collector, like myself.

And boom! I recognize one of my old idols.

Holding my breath in disbelief I wonder.  

“Is it her? Is it really her? No way! Impossible.”

“Oh my God! It’s her!”

The Queen of Clubs looks at me mischievously, glaring like a computer screen supernova in the unsuspecting darkness of my bedroom. Not a sign of aging on her perfect card face.

The coquettish Queen seems to recognize me.

“Do you really remember me? Even after all these years?”

Queen of Clubs, Prince Karte No. 402Nodding just so slightly, the Queen slowly faces away from her fancy hand mirror, forcing my attention to her royal and elaborate headdress. She certainly knows how to wear that crown.

The thing is, this Queen and I both know that her headdress is the one single, last detail still etched perfectly in my memory. A detail that became associated with a happy, magical, and wholesome part of my childhood. A detail I refuse to let go of — holding on to it like to a life vest, and painting it and again again in a melancholic coat of sweet-stale memories — so it contrasts against the canvas of passing time that starches over new geography of experiences, lined with a multitude of insignificant encounters with significantly less royal packs of cards.

But the Queen of Clubs doesn’t care. She, as any self-respecting queen would, knows that one never forgets her first love. Never!

 

Although not an original, but a reproduction, I now have in my possession a double pack of Prince Karte No. 402, originally manufactured by the legendary Dondorf company.

ASS logo, Prince Karte No. 402

What can I say? I feel pretty damn lucky!

Better Later Than Never — Bringing Madame Duberckowski to American Fortunetellers

Man card from Madame Duberckowski’s Fortune Telling Cards deckI am a procrastinator, and there’s no point denying it. But to defend myself I must disclose that even though I took the interview with Amelie over a year ago, around last Christmas my house was broken into and my laptop stolen. Along with the computer, an almost fully edited video of this interview was also gone.

So it took me a long time to get back into editing it from scratch. I really wanted to complete this piece because I felt that Amelie and I had an amazing, almost magical, connection; and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with her about various things in addition to her gorgeous and fun deck. I found Amelie to be warm, funny, and inspiring. I adore her art, and find her cards to be so very different than anything else on the market. Both her attitude and her creations are fresh and upbeat. Not like many other decks that heavily draw upon, and too often completely reproduce, the same old RWS pattern, etc. “Madame Duberckowski’s Fortune Telling Cards” is a stand-alone oracle with nothing remotely resembling it on the market.

I hope you enjoy my tale of finding the deck online, connecting with Amelie, and eventually asking her a few questions about what made her create such a unique pack of cards.

Happy Friday!

Madame Nadia

PS

I’ll be co-hosting the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour this coming Sunday, with ConjureMan Ali and Deacon Millet. I hope you can tune in, or even better — join us in the chat room.

My Mornings with Mary-El

Histories

I think that I’ve never waited for anyone, let alone anything, as long as I waited for the Mary-El tarot. 8 years to be precise. And boy, was it worth it!

Mary-El Tarot, back and fromt

I first laid eyes on this wondrous, and then unfinished, pack in 2003, when I stumbled upon it during one of my leisurely strolls along the virtual isles of the Aeclectic Tarot site. It was a usual kind of window-shopping stroll-through — with not much expectation for originality devoid of unicorns and ferries — when I stumbled upon a Marie White’s self-published collection of 26 cards. The images were so stunning it tingled the collector part in me, getting me slightly wet with cartomantic excitement.

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After finally getting a grip on myself I fished out a credit card from a paddle of fresh drool on my glass computer desk. I ordered the deck. Proceeding to sit on the edge of my chair for almost a week and a half, I checked the tracking report like a maniac.

I was consumed with papery lust even before caressing the tenderness of these temptresses of mystery in between my fingers. And then I became completely enslaved by their raw and sensual glamour as I rode a colossal spiritual high, shuffling those laminated beauties for the very first time.

Mary-El tarot - AcesThe 22 Major Arcana and the 4 hermaphroditic aces proved to be such an esoteric delight that every other collection of divinatory imagery would be compared, in the years to come, with no real success, to the Mary-El tarot. Like a mythological ex, or a virgin line of cocaine, somehow no other pack deemed as satisfying as the thought of 78 completed fetishes I knew a full Mary-El deck would turn to be. So I waited…

The Devil - Mary-El TarotLike a true addict, I frequently stocked Marie White’s blog, hoping to learn she has finished painting the rest of the cards. I would visit that sacred Mecca every few days, initially. And then every few weeks. And then every few months. Time passed, life happened, and reality changed becoming more complex and demanding. I graduated college, underwent a spiritual initiation, got divorced and then remarried, and got a coveted gig in TV production — while establishing my own spiritual personality and forging my path.

Marie, on the other hand, birthed another child whose pictures occasionally decorated her website; alongside snapshots of her colorful studio, and a snow-covered, farm-looking back yard.

Once in a while I’d be tempted by a new single apparition, or a couple of freshly painted cards, on Marie’s site. Although silence prevailed in between new uploads, Marie would still post updates of her work sometimes.

But then she went completely incommunicado. And my own well dried up too.

To me, Marie’s site seemed like Sleeping Beauty’s tomb, reflecting in ornate and crystal silence the flames of my own crisis. As I went through personal hell, the Mary-El bunch became frozen in time like a flashback of innocent desire. There might have been new cards joining the ranks of her blog, but I was in no emotional capacity to admire them. I was surviving.

More years have passed. Children grew, hearts broke yet continued pumping life juice. And that life juice, made with hope, verve, and selective memory, had led me to Marie again, this time on Facebook. I was sad to learn she’s been paralleling via a shit storm of her own.

And then a miracle happened: There was a light in the end of Schiffer Books’ tunnel. The full Mary-El tarot deck was heading to the press!

The little differences

The little differences

I ordered my cards from Marie’s instead of Amazon because I wanted a signed copy, even though I knew I’ll have to wait longer. What is a week or two of self-inflicted patience, after all those taming years of fortune telling frustration to a triple Gemini like myself?

Let me tell ya: A — fucking — lot!

But I waited nonetheless.

And so, in an early, warm April evening of 2012, I found myself on the front porch of my raised ranch home. There I sat, exercising yogic breathing, while being conscious of the young moon above my head conducting a lively insect orchestra in the grass; and how it jazzed and buzzed with excitement in my own veins to a point I couldn’t bring myself to unwrap the package I knew contained the Hieros Gamos of all tarot decks in my universe. Like a young child with autism, I averted my gaze to not overload myself, while treating Mary-El as if it was a long awaited lover.

I wanted these tight and shiny darlings to feel the intensity of my respect. This deflowering had to be acted out ceremoniously, and undressing was clearly a paramount part of my proof of respect. Pacing myself I gently parted the gates of the packing tape…

In the darkness of that April night, after having my way, stroking over, and over, and over again along those large, magnificently dark, and glossy cards, finally I became somewhat sober enough to observe some detail:

  1. a black border;
  2. extra thick card stock;
  3. a Marseille rather than a Waite pattern;
  4. and 2 Oroboroses, infinitely coiled and linked like a wave. Their skin tattooed with holy “Yods,” cycling tail in tongue, tongue in tail.

Mistakes

My Grandmother's box

I am ashamed to say that after owning this pack for just a short while, I couldn’t resist my cartomantic fiending feats. So I wrapped the deck in a dusty rose-colored, Indian raw silk scarf, and housed them in a carved wooden box — courtesy of a dead grandmother — to proudly display on my nightstand.

The public show of respect and the hierarchical geographic placement was a cheap attempt redirecting my guilt for cheating on both Mary and El with other decks; Lenormands in particular.

From the corner of my left eye I could often feel the burning gaze of 78 pairs of papery eyes, as I shamelessly shuffled and caressed others right then and there, in the intimacy of my own bed.

Though a dysfunctional threesome, we still kept at it… Until the day my house got burglarized.

Nauseated with the holiday spirit being shoved down my throat in the form of obnoxious drivers, pushy sales clerks, and more-than-usually annoying elevator music, I came home one day — right after Hanukah, and just before Christmas — to find out some human waste cleaned out all of my jewelry, stole my laptop, lifted a brand new computer charger, and — yes — abducted my signed copy of the complete Mary-El tarot, still wrapped in its shroud of Indian silk. Thank Muhammad my self-published deck was left unmolested in the altar room.

I ended up contacting Marie White on Facebook to bitch about it, as I was terribly heartbroken.

IMG_8421But not for long! My darling husband — who knows all about my card-doping needs, and my tight connection with the Mary-El bunch in particular — surprised me by ordering a new signed copy from Marie’s Etsy Shop. He also bought a poster of my favorite card — The glorious World!

Practicum

I guess something must be effin true if it becomes a cliché, because just like with old boyfriends I mistreated and dumped prematurely, the realization of loosing the Mary-El resonated with: “You never know what you have until you lose it.”

African tarot caseAnyhow, after reuniting with my beloved deck I became determined giving it more sugar consistently. So I got a cool-looking, African, leather carrying case (how could I not get one, I am a card fanatic…), to have on me daily. I carry the pack in my purse, adding a daily tarot draw to my ongoing Lenormand practice.

As I mentioned numerous times before, my daily ritual is to pull cards for hubby and myself on our drive to work. With Mary-El being part of my arsenal, I re-adjusted the way I frame my draws.

Allowing the Lenormand shine in its practicality, I let the tarot perform on a more philosophical level. When drawing a card from the Mary-El deck, I focus on questions such as “What will help / inspire me today?” I follow each daily draw by reading passages from the phenomenal book that came with the cards. I find Marie’s writing poetic. It is refreshing and authentic, without being patronizing or dogmatic.

2 of Swords, Mary-El tarot  The black snake of the tongue comes between the two trees, spreading them, moving serpentine between them, circling the trunks and exposing their inner sanctum of blackness. The snake encircles a portion, containing it, making it individual, defining it, limiting it, naming it loving it, eating it, consuming it. Snake and fruit become one.

  Lilith and Logos unite. Knowledge of good and evil.

(from The 2 of Swords, p. 78)

I also appreciate this deck being more Marseille-oriented, than Waite-based, as I am trying to add this lens to my fortune telling world-view.

The Fool, Mary-El tarotAnd how can I disregard the fact that it’s pretty much the only deck in my massive collection that doesn’t shy away from parading male genitalia. Just look at the Fool card, captured lke a Dervish, twirling in motion with his glorious penis caught mid in flight. This makes me happy!

Following a tarot draw I then ask the Lenormand: “What should I know about today?” And sometimes I also zone on questions like “What is the single event that will influence my workday the most today?”

Often I find the tarot card offering a strategy dealing with issues and concerns described by the Lenormand. Diligently I record my predictions in a notepad kept in the passenger’s door of the Cooper. This way it is convenient to revisit the reading on the way back from work. By discussing the events of the day, and decoding these in the language of the cards my relationship and understanding of cartomancy expands in a personal and a potent way.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that all three of us — Mary, El, and yours truly — currently enjoy a superbly intimate and quite successful symbiosis. Don’t dismiss shock therapy, dearies — sometimes it’s quite a turn on!

Affectionately,

Madame Nadia 

A Bulgarian Dondorf Lenormand

Recently I came across a Lenormand deck on eBay that I absolutely had to have. It’s a 1947 Dondorf Lenormand from Bulgaria.

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The cards are in a pretty fragile condition. Clearly, they’ve been loved and used quite a bit because of the visible wear and tear condition. The colors, however, are quite striking and vibrant. Much more so than other vintage Dondorfs that I own.

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The most fascinating aspect of this deck is the poems on the cards — they are written in Bulgarian, as well as the booklet that comes with the deck. I can read and understand some because the alphabet is the same as Russian. But I’ll need to spend more time with it in order to really understand what the poems and the instructions say.

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There’s an inscription on the front page of the booklet, and I am very curious about what it says and who was the recipient of this gift. Even though the cards’ condition is far from excellent, the fact that some of the history of the deck comes through via the handwritten dedication makes it so much more precious to me.

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Blessings,

Madame Nadia

Join me for some spooky Halloween conjure on the Lucky Mojo Rootwork Radio show today!

It ain’t no spooky Halloween without some good ol’ conjure! Join me today on the Lucky Mojo Rootwork Radio Hour, during the most amazing and witchy time of the year. In addition to our regular format, of free call-ins for divination and hoodoo advice, we will also discuss working with ancestors and spirit guides.

The show will air on 5 PM CST, and will run through 6:30 PM CST.

I will have some new and wonderful card decks with me — debuting on air The Wild Unknown Tarot, and the precious Madame Duberckowski’s Fortune Telling Cards. In addition, I’ll have my trusty Lenormand, of course, with my beloved The Book Of Knowing playing cards. I promise, all of you cartomancy fiends will have some new decks to think about.

If you are new to the radio show, here is some more information:

The Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour is a real, live call-in show where the general public gets a chance to ask about actual problems with love, career, and spiritual protection, and we recommend and fully describe hoodoo rootwork spells to address, ameliorate, and remediate their issues. You will learn a lot just by listening — but if you call in and your call is selected, you will get a free consultation from two of the finest workers in the field, cat yronwode and ConjureMan Ali.

The number to call in for the show is (818) 394-8535.

Hope to see you there!!!!

Affectionately,

Madame Nadia

Digging in the cards — psycho-processing and The “Dirty Tarot”

* Disclaimer: Loads of profane language in this post.

Part 1 — Digging in the Dirt

Once in a while I feel really, really, REALLY down. My whole being drops into some sticky darkness that can get quite suffocating. There I dwell on my own nature, my mistakes, and everything else that seems imperfect in my life. My shadow-self progressively grows until it seems much larger than me. After a while volcanos of anger begin to erupt from within this darkness. The tension rises quickly, and the bubbles in my steaming brain begin pleading: “I’m a fire cracker, baby — You better fuck off while you can!”

Times like this scare my therapist, who right away goes into a spiel about the newest designer anti-depresants on the market. I value pharmaceuticals quite a bit; nonetheless, I spend half an hour reassuring her that though right now everything totally feels jacked up from the inside out, it’s actually a good kind of jacked up. Looks like she ain’t buying it, so I continue:

“In order to be fertile,” I go on to tell her, “earth must be moist and dark.” Among the ashes of self-loathing, layers of muscle and bone, and pools of hot blood is fermenting a tiny seed of self-descovery and reinvention. To find it we must dig in the dirt of our past until we’re blue in the face and thoroughly finished attempting to clean the proverbial dirt from underneath our fingernails. “Can the spiritual ever be manicured?” I ask rethorically.  I think clean spirituality is a trendy capitalist fabrication designed to upsale the blissed-out, and lululemon-clad Yuppies, making the “guru” market a fabulous milking cow.

When it’s time to get down and dirty I prefer a coffin on a yoga mat… fuck you very much!

So I accept the glove. As I descend into the darkness of my internal morgue, I turn up the volume on my demon radio. A Persephone of sorts, I slip into an elegant pair of chewed up combat boots — and dual myself — Fight Club style. And I take my fucking sweet time with it too. And then it’s quiet.

Eventually I leave the underworld anticlimactically. No Boddhisatvas, no unicorns, and no models with secrets inside their designer bosoms raise me into sainthood with an ease of profound mythical advice. I just feel done, and ready, and able to kick self-pity in the gut and move on. It usually happens when I finally feel absolutely and utterly sick of myself!

And then I make a cup of instant coffee, and lay down the cards.

Part 2 — Dirty Tarot

The Dirty Tarot isn’t really a tarot deck, though it is sort-of dirty in a deliciously entertaining kinda way. If asked for my opinion, I’d rather call it an oracle — but, Dori Midnight, the creator of this pack, refers to it as a deck of divination.

While crisscrossing NOLA’s French Quarter past June in search of unique spiritual supplies and vintage glamour fashion , I stumbled upon this gem at Voodoo Authentica. In a little decorative glass case, on a pink wall across from the register, I spotted the Heart and the Tattoo cards, shining in their rockability amongst more traditional decks on display.

The long-haired and expressionless register girl shared that the cards are made by a local reader who is originally from San Francisco, Bay Area. Being firstly a card collector (fiend), and secondly a Bay Area dweller with an 11-year-long tenor prior to moving to cornfield kingdom along the CST zone —  I quickly parted with $35 + taxes, picking up the last copy they had in stock.

The deck comes in a satin black bag with an instructional booklet. I find the card stock to be of perfect stiffness, which is admirable compared to the usual flimsiness of self-published decks. The 40 cards constituting the Dirty Tarot are printed on double-sided glossy paper, and measure 5’4″ by 3’4″. The colors are vibrant, and the art style is childish and quite amusing; especially when adorable images like Pretty Pony, Roller Skates, and Cheese Puffs are juxtaposed with cards like Whiskey, Pussy, and Cheap Fuck. Miss Midnight is clearly keepin’ it real!

Although I bought this pack as a souvenir to remind me of a true U.S. Sin City, the readings I’ve got so far with this deck were right on. I ended up reaching for the Dirty Tarot very recently, while emerging from underneath many layers of emotional funk. I feel the cards not only cheered me up, but also gave me a profound reading.

Past — Boat: Navigating an emotional journey. Charting a course. Working with the elements, surrendering to the winds. Seeking. Emotional Passage.

Present / Conscious — Cock: Manifestation. External. Fathering. Producing seeds. Firm muscular impulse. External reactive energy.

Present / Unconscious — Horn: Clear golden blast. Illumination. Enlightenment. Wake up and listen closely. Resonance.

Future — Road Trip: Get perspective. Spaciousness. Liberation. Wilderness of life. Distance. Moving forward for the sake of seeing the landscape change.

Finally, I leave you with this powerful song by Peter Gabriel, which tends to come to mind when major emotional shit hits the fan of my life.

And on this gentle note, dearies, I’ll take a bow and go bye bye.

Titania — Lenormand’s Psychodelic Sister

When the Lenormand has just started picking my interest, in the early stages of my addiction when I spent only a small amount of time and money on these cards, I came across images from Titania’s Fortune Cards — and they made me cringe. “Who?”, I thought to myself, “who would buy and enjoy such a horrid card set?”

To me it seemed a complete sensory overload with golden borders; like a vintage china plate stained with paint by a child’s fingertips.

Well, surprise, surprise! Here I am, a true Lenormand fiend, with Titania’s in hand, humming:

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don’t come, you get a tan
From standing in the English rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob

In her book, Titania’s Fortune Cards — How to interpret the cards,  the author Tiania Harding explains that she’s been fascinated by the Lenormand ever since her mother’s friend, Marion Charlouis, read the cards at the age of 13. She explains:

These cards are a modern interpretation of those she [Charlouis] used: we have remained faithful to the symbol and much of the meaning she invested in each image, but have given a more up-to-date feel to communicate the different ways we now lead our lives.

I am not sure what to make of the ways Miss Harding leads her life in the year 2000, judging by the color palette of the cards. Though in my experience, these little, inverted and neony peculiarities trigger that nostalgic spot in myself were naive fantasies of Woodstock, free love, and LSD live. In my mind, these cards represent a 1960’s reincarnation of Mlle Lenormand.

Just Look at her, I hear my Spirit of Divination exclaiming:

Look! Today Marie Anne Adelaide is wearing nothing but her hair down. Swinging from side to side, she’s dancing to a psychodelic tune playing only in her mind.

What does she say? Does she have a message for us? I ask.

Groovy, replies my Spirit of Divination, She says, Groo-Vy.

The real reason I finally made the decision to purchase this deck was a few conversations on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum about the similarity of the Titania interpretations to the Russian school of Lenormand. Since there are no books in English on the subject, I ordered this deck and book set from The Book Depositary.

A week later, sitting in my office I observed a cooky 4X9 arrangement staring back at me from the hardwood floor. Suddenly I wasn’t cringing. The images, though painfully saturated, carried very clear and concise messages. The experience was very different from what I expected. There was no complex, multi-layerd meshing of meaning and art; like the collaged, new wave versions of Lenormand that have been flooding the market recently — vis a vie Melissa, Alice in Wonderland, and Les Vieus Jours.

I was immediately aware of the ease with which this pack communicates. Without numbers, words, playing card inserts, or multifaceted imagery the key symbols float atop the overly saturated backgrounds in an almost juvenile fashion. It doesn’t take long before a card bangs it’s meaning over your eyeball.

Looking through the book I did find some resemblance to the Russian school of Lenormand (at least compared to several Russian (online) sources and their English translation on the AT Forum), though other interpretations weren’t similar at all. For instance, this is what, Titania Hardy says of the Cross: “This is the card of destiny! You are looked after, and your road is in the hands of the gods.” The Russian sources, on the other hand, place a much heavier spin on this religious symbol — it represents the cross one has to bear, so to speak.

After a little bonding time, I actually found many cards attractive, in their own neony way. I really like the Tower and the Tree cards. And the Anchor and the Star are simply Psychobilly-adorable. But other cards I still find particularly unappealing. For instance, all I can think about when I look at the the Man and the Woman cards is “Barbie and Ken are getting married”. These really don’t work for me, and I have a hard time “charging” these for myself or my clients.

Finally, I am not sorry at all for investing in Titania’s deck. Like the 1960’s, there’s something endearingly hopeful and playful in this psychedelic pack of cards. And so, I leave you with a trippy version of Beatles’ I am the Walrus, performed by Bono in an original movie musical Across the Universe

Have a groovy week, y’all!