Category Archives: Seership

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It’s All Indie Cards III: Black & White Decks

By | Reviews & Interviews, Seership, Witchcraft & Magic | 8 Comments

Here I am again, just in time for the holidays to tempt you to spend your hard won earnings on gorgeous tarot decks by independent artists (or to plaster the links all over your facebook until your loved ones get the hint for what you want for Yule this year). Indie tarot means there’s no big name publisher involved. The decks I share are either crowd funded or the artists came up with the funds themselves to get their deck printed –which is quite the undertaking! The downside to indie decks is that the first printing often sells out and the artist can’t afford to reprint their deck. For example, there were two amazing decks I really wanted to include in this list, but they’ve now sold out and are no longer available: The Nomad Tarot by Jennifer Drantrel and the Black Hand Lenormand by Shelley Barnes. If there is enough demand, however, this changes the artist’s stars. Maybe we can help.

For this year’s round up I’ve chosen all black and white decks with a few black and gold exceptions. I’m a sucker for simple, black and white artwork and have a feeling I’m not alone in this. It was unintentional, but the featured decks all happen to be created by women. Enjoy and be tempted!

animalis-os-fortuna

Animalis Os Fortuna Tarot Deck

by Megan Weber

Website: zaheroux.etsy.com

Animal Bone Fortune Deck is an animal oracle based on the traditional tarot system featuring illustrations of a great variety of creatures and their skulls and bones. If you’ve been looking for a less cutesy animal oriented deck to connect to animal spirits in your magic, this one has your number.

Notes: this is a large deck with big cards and will showcase the art awesomely, but be hard to shuffle.


dark-exact

Dark Exact Tarot Deck

by Coleman Stevenson

Website: thedarkexact.etsy.com

This is the tarot deck you’ve been looking for to put in your instagram photos and to read with your witchy friends who are too dark and cool for the all the big name colourful decks out there. It is full of symbolism, simplicity, and quality. Each card looks as if it were professionally designed by a graphic designer, and considering that their cool shop has a team of designers and consultants, this could be true. A very professional looking deck overall. The Dark Exact deck follows the traditional meanings of the Rider Waite deck despite the different imagery and so won’t require a complete relearning to work with as a new deck. In my opinion, The Dark Exact Tarot has the potential to be the new “it” deck and reach the same cult status of The Wild Unknown.

Notes: The other witchy products in their shop are seriously amazing.


flowers-from-the-dead

Flowers from the Dead Divination Deck

by Misha Huntting

Website: flowersfromthedead.com

Etsy: americanobscura.etsy.com

I love this deck. It screams witchy spirit work as a deck of all skulls on a black background of swirling smoke. This is an animal oracle, not a tarot deck, and has a small handful of skull-faced human exceptions. This deck would be a great way to communicate with the dead and with animal spirits in your practice and doesn’t require or come with a companion book. The cards are slightly larger than a pack of regular playing cards and are easy to work with.

Notes: Out of all the beautiful decks I researched for this post, this one followed me home.


heart-and-hands

Heart and Hands Tarot Deck

by Liz Blackbird

Website: thirteenwaystolook.etsy.com

Crowdfunding Site: indiegogo.com

In this deck’s artwork, graphic design meets tattoo flash meets art deco (with hints of Aubrey Beardsley). These are big cards and the art is full of swirls and lots of detail –almost reminiscent of stained glass but without the colour. If you’re looking for a beautiful deck with endless hours of hand illustration put into it by the artist, this is the one.

Notes: This deck is the result of a successful crowdfunding campaign. Congrats Liz!


small-spells

Small Spells Tarot Deck

by Rachel Howe

Website: smallspells.com

A full tarot deck of simple black ink illustrations on white backgrounds. The style is a combination of cartoon, tattoo flash, and low-fi graphic design. If you don’t like fancy decks and are looking for something simple and hand drawn, modern but still mystical, Small Spells is definitely for you.

Notes: This deck comes with the guide book, you don’t have to pay extra for it!


spirit-speak

Spirit Speak Tarot Deck

by Mary Evans

Website: spiritspeaktarot.etsy.com

This funky tarot deck has a very chaotic, discordian, graphic novel feel. The artist’s goal was to create a simple deck that anyone can understand and perform readings with. I like it for its lack of pretentiousness and the clever design of the branding and packaging.

Notes: The artist has two more full colour decks available in their shop — Iris and Vessel.


vibrant-spirit

Vibrant Spirit Tarot

by Beata Kruszynski

Website: beatakruszynski.etsy.com

I don’t know what it is about this deck, but I love it. Simple, hand drawn, abstract, and very feminist. I see it helping a lot of women in both their mundane and magical lives. The first printing sold out, but the second printing is now available for pre-order.

Notes: The artist also has a 2017 Tarot Calendar available if you are impatient to wait for the deck to be printed.


wanderers-tarot

Wanderer’s Tarot Deck

by Casey Zabala

Website: wandererstarot.com

Etsy: wandererstarot.etsy.com

A feminist exploration of the traditional tarot with altered suits of moons, stones, knives, and feathers. The Wanderer’s Tarot is a very striking deck with its simple hand drawn imagery against the stark black backgrounds. Because of it’s diversion from the traditional tarot system and imagery this deck will take longer to learn to work with, but if it speaks to you it will most definitely be worth it.

Notes: A cool black casting cloth is also available and she’s taking pre-orders for the guide book.


BLACK AND GOLD DECKS

urban-divination

Professor Pam’s Urban Divination Deck

by Pam Wishbow

Shop: pamwishbow.etsy.com

Pam Wishbow is my current witchy artist crush. Everything she touches and creates is pretty much gold to me and her graphic design aesthetic is perfection. This humorous deck of square cards is perfect for the city-dweller who is honest about their disconnect from nature and contains cards like “The Sewer Raccoon” and “The Suspicious Puddle”.

Notes: There is also a bone casting cloth and a spirit board in her etsy shop!

Pam is also in the process of creating a different yet-to-be-named black and white oracle deck.


golden-thread

The Golden Thread Tarot

by Tina Gong

Website: goldenthreadtarot.com

Etsy: milkmusket.etsy.com

Just when you’re like “no, stop Sarah, my bank account can’t handle looking at any more amazing decks!” I’m like: “but just look at this last epic one with metallic gold illustrations that will blow your socks off.” The Golden Thread Tarot is what happens when a talented graphic designer who also happens to be a huge technology nerd designs a deck. The artwork is reminiscent of animé and it is “cute” without taking it too far. The gold on black makes it elegant and it creates a very unique balance with the art.

Notes: Who needs a guide book when you can download a custom app for your smart phone with beautiful custom graphics? A huge gold and black zodiac casting cloth is available in her etsy shop. Oh, and she also has an online tarot school. This woman is rocking at design and marketing.


Do you have a favourite indie tarot deck you found this year? Share it in the comments!

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Tasseomancy

By | Folk Magic, Seership | 8 Comments

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“The first cup moistens my lips and throat.
The second shatters my loneliness.
The third causes the wrongs of life to fade gently from my recollection.
The fourth purifies my soul.
The fifth lifts me to the realms of the unwinking gods”

Chinese Mystic, Tang Dynasty

My Scots-Canadian Grandmother taught me how to read tea leaves. I now possess her tea cup collection of bone china, gold paint, delicate handles, and endless colours and patterns. Sitting at her dining room table, which sits now in my kitchen, she showed me how to brew with just the right size of loose leaf tea. To let it steep and to drink it without eating the leaves, filtering them through your teeth. She taught me how to flip the cup onto the saucer with just enough force to cause patterns. Then she would carefully turn the tea cup upright again, full of spiralling shapes of dark tea leaves from far away lands. With great solemnity she would look at me and say “and now you bullshit.”

At first I thought she was being mischievous, but after years of reading tea leaves I realized that she was indeed quite serious.  Tasseomancy, or reading tea leaves, is an act of scrying. There is no book or list of meanings that can truly help you, though they may get you started. You are your own dictionary of symbols and your own interpretations. No two diviners will see or say the same things about the same tea cup of messy wet leaves. Even though the words that fall from your lips may sometimes sound like bullshit to you, you will often be amazed at how those you are reading for react – “how did you know!”

tea-3The handle is the present, the future a year ahead in sections of months clockwise around the cup. Leaves close to the rim are things close to the surface, obvious things, things you are or will soon become aware of. Leaves at the bottom of the cup are the unknown, surprises, secrets, your subconscious. You can see anything in the leaves; animals, insects, plants, symbols, objects, letters, numbers… maybe the whole cup is one image with one big meaning or maybe the leaves are broken down into tiny ones with many fortunes to tell.

Tasseomancy is a divinatory art to be practiced in person with the subject in front of your eyes. It is a tactile art. Touch the cup, turn it around in your hands and view it from every angle. Look at the person you are reading for. Are they eager and excited to hear their fortune or are they sad and defeated before you’ve even spoken? Each person’s cup you read for will be completely different. I remember reading tea leaves at the local Pagan Pride Day and having a formidable line-up of people awaiting their fortunes. Each pattern of leaves was completely unique and no two fortunes were the same.

You don’t find too many witches or seers who read tea leaves these days. Maybe it seems too quaint and not authentic or hardcore enough. The funny thing is that tasseomancy is closer to ‘traditional’ than many of our witchcraft practices today. It and reading playing cards rather than tarot cards.

It’s how the back alley folk magicians, East Coast kitchen witches, old snaggled toothed grannies, and the neighbourhood spaewives of the past few centuries would have divined people’s fortunes. Not with fancy tools or elaborate methods, but simply what was on hand: a cup and a teaspoon of tea or coffee, a pack of playing cards, a pot of water and some melted candle wax…

tea-2Why not take up reading tea leaves? Practice. Have friends over for a tea party to make it fun. Up the ante. Have friends over for a spiked tea party of hot toddies or fun pairings of loose leaf teas and sweet liqueurs. Sometimes a little booze makes divination come more naturally. What a fun coven night that would be!

Whether you interpret the leaves for friends or strangers, remember that tasseomancy is also a social art which blends well with charm, kindness, empathy, and of course, wit. The best and most practiced tasseomancers will put you at ease, draw you in, sound assured, and relay your fortune like a talented storyteller or poet.

Now come on into the kitchen and I’ll put on a pot of earl grey with lemon and honey.

 

* Tarot deck shown is The Wooden Tarot by A.L. Swartz.

wolf-moon-dreams

Wolf Moon Dreams

By | Seership, Witchcraft & Magic | 7 Comments

Altar ablaze for the full moon

It is hard to forget to honour the full moon when it is tattooed on your wrist and shines down on you from a foggy night sky. I poured more water over the holey stone in the little clay bowl I keep ever-filled for Old Woman. It’s polite to always have a drink for her. My mother brought it back from Ireland, raw on the outside and the bright clear blue of glaze on the inside. I dropped in my silver ring and anointed myself with water from head to toe. I poured whiskey in the goblet, slàinte Carline! I lit the beeswax candles, burned the incense, and set fire to some tobacco, blowing the smoke on my spirit fetiches. I switched the tarot card on the altar to the Queen of Swords for Aquarius. I dreamt often of this card last winter and know it holds hints of the future for me. In the Circle of Life Tarot it is an elven queen brandishing a sword astride a snowy owl flying over a snowy landscape.

Tarot card for Aquarius

I lit a candle for a very sick friend, it dissolved into a puddle aflame like tears of fire, the candle unburnt. In my dream we were together and a woolly bear caterpillar crawled across my hand. Its hairs were so long. “It will be a very cold winter,” I told her. She disappeared and suddenly I was leaving a bowl of pomegranate seeds as an offering in a graveyard.  I dreamed someone asked me to write down a list of the most beautiful people I know. I had no trouble writing down my friends’ names, but when it came to writing my own, I tried over and over, failing and having to erase it each time. I dreamed I argued with a friend. I dreamed of a beach by the sea, tangled with debris from a massive storm. I dreamed my home had a hidden room I’d never known about before and I turned it into a temple, painted green and covered in woodcarvings. I have gotten better at marking my dreams and what phase the moon is in when I dream them.

A blessing for a friend

I beat my bear hide drum with yew. I read the cards for myself. Conflict, the empress, and the beloved showed their faces to me. I blow out the candles. I paint poisonous plants in black and white and I write about blood and bones. Another full moon comes and goes.

spirit-worker-zombie

Why Spirit Workers Are Like Zombies

By | Seership, Spirit Work, Witchcraft & Magic | 45 Comments

CDC_zombie

If you want to be a spirit worker, you must die. Just like the child you were must die to become the adult, your human self must die to become a spirit worker. The initiated are half alive, half dead. We are souls stuck in between – not quite spirits and not quite human. We shapeshift between forms – now human, now animal, now spirit, now elemental force, now otherwordly being. We drift between past, present, and future knowing that time is a non-linear illusion and all is accessible.  We are possessed by spirits and the ones who possess others with our spirits. We are the dream-walkers, shape-shifters, psychopomps, seers, mediums, mystics, visionaries, and miraculous healers. We see the unseen, hear the unheard, and experience the impossible. We dwell in paradoxes within the suspension of disbelief. We dance on the dagger’s edge between life and death, magic and insanity. We are unnatural. Supernatural.

It all sounds rather romantic until someone loses an eye, or a soul, or their life. That is why we are so few – we have to die. Some don’t make it back from initiatory death, some don’t make it back in one piece, but most will never go because they fear death above all else. And we should fear it – we should respect death and fear. We should not be fools stumbling in the dark. We should know the danger that lies ahead, the pain that will come, and walk into it knowingly always pure of intent and heart. We should know why we choose to die. Is dying worth gaining power? No, it shouldn’t be about striving for power. We die to serve. Once we die we do not belong to ourselves. Spirit workers are servants to greater spirits than themselves and will always be haunted and hunted. Every spirit serves another and we too are spirits. Erase any romantic notions from your head – this is not about you or being special – you are one of many. Your body is on loan, a temporary vessel. As long as you serve, the vessel is protected from harm and from physical death. If you make it about you or about power there is no guarantee you’ll be safe or come back.

Do you really want this? Is it worth being able to see and hear spirits? Why do you want it so badly? Be honest with yourself and the spirits and maybe one day you will die and come back — joining this host of revenants called spirit workers. Some days you will wish you hadn’t and that you could turn it off and switch back to your old life, but other days your soul will sing and you won’t be able to imagine being anything else.

Truly seek the why and know you have to die.

That’s all for my full-moon mead ramblings this night. Sweet dreams little witchlings.

The Three Messengers and the Council of Owls

By | Animism, Seership, Spirit Work, Storytelling | No Comments

Wings of the Messengers

The three messengers came to me together and each gave of me their feathers; the softess silence of owl feathers, the jeweled blackness of crow feathers, and the camouflage cloak of hawk feathers.

“Take them, take them.”

“Use them, use them.”

Western Screech Owl, American Crow, and Red-Tailed Hawk, despite being natural enemies, approached me at the same time and offered their services to me (they must’ve seen me leave the entrails and fat offerings for the others on the roof, the gluttons). All three can be found on and around the mountain. It seems I am always collecting feathers; feathers from all the three worlds; feathers of light, feathers of dark, and feathers of song. Feathers to carry prayers, feathers to banish, feathers to bless and heal, feathers to fly… I had received feathers from crow and hawk before in the eldritch world, but never had I been gifted one by an owl before.

Western Screech Owl

Owl left its feathers on the stone wall of a cave for me. Owl is the messenger of the underworld. Owl belongs to the White Bone Mother, guardian of the gate and crossroads of the underworld. Owl serves her as messenger of death and psychopomp for the spirits of the dead. Owl is silent as a ghost; reveling in darkness and its mysteries. Owl brings messages from her mistress and from the dead. Owl helps you travel to and from the underworld safely and their ability to see in the dark can light your way in the blackest depths.

American Crow

Crow shed its feathers for me on the green grass beneath the trees. Crow is messenger of the middle world. Crow belongs to the old Witch Hag lost in the ancient woods. Many often make the mistake of thinking it is a nocturnal creature due to its dark colouring and unlucky reputation, but crows are actually diurnal: awake during the day and asleep at night like us. They are scavengers eating the leftovers of the hunters and warriors. Crows are not of death and darkness (though they follow it closely); they are tricksters, humour, curiosity, family, and fellowship. Crows are reflections and shadows of we mortals.

Crows are guardians and watchers for the other creatures of the earth. They warn of dangers, predators, bad weather, outsiders, bad luck, and misfortunes. This is where their bad reputation comes from, but they’re just trying to help. It is better to listen to their warnings than to disregard them and eat crow later when the danger comes for you.  Crow is messenger of the creatures and spirits of middle earth; of the animals, plants, wights, and elemental forces all around us.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Hawk drops its feathers for me from high in the sunny blue sky and they slowly float down to my feet. Hawk, flying ever so high, is messenger of the upperworld and of its deities and spirits. Hawk belongs to the Lady of the Flaming Heart. Hawks deliver messages pertaining to the bigger pictures – ones that will affect your life and your spiritual path. When hawk brings you a message it is time to borrow its sharp all-seeing eyes and fly high enough with its strong wings to view a situation or path from above and understand the full picture – the past, present, and future. Other times Hawk delivers messages to and from the gods and spirits of the upper world. Belonging to the upper world doesn’t mean sweetness and light, Hawk is a predator and warrior after all.

All three messengers belong to Crossroad and World Tree. Winged mercurial beings are they. Now, when one of the three come to me with news of the three realms, I will know what kind of message they bring and from where and whom it comes. Now when one of the three comes for me I will know for whence we ride.

The Council of Owls

The Council of Owls

I sit in the dark. It is so black I don’t know whether it is deep cave or dark wood. Surrounding me is a circle of owls of every type and size I’ve seen and have yet to see. They speak to each other. They argue. They stare at me with large round eyes. I am being judged. I am waiting for approval. Feathers ruffle and puff, claws click and scratch. Silence stretches through the darkness like a living thing.

“Yesss.”