Deck Review: The Linestrider Tarot

linestrider set
The guidebook, card backs, and deck box all share the same reversible purple floral pattern (not seen here on the box because it’s on the back.) I do not know if this will change when the deck is published next year. Ignore the tabby tail. My cat George wanted to “help” with this review.

The Linestrider Tarot by Siolo Thomson was funded through Indiegogo in the spring of 2015. I jumped on the funding campaign’s bandwagon at the last minute once I saw pictures of these beautiful cards. They were produced in a very limited edition, but fortunately they will be published Llewellyn in the spring or summer of 2016. Since this is a rare deck that’s soon to become widely available, I thought it would be helpful to people who might be interested in the Llewellyn release of this deck.Continue reading “Deck Review: The Linestrider Tarot”

Tarot Cards for Dissertation Writing

I’ve been working on my dissertation since September of 2013, I believe, and I will turn it in to my committee on September 1st, 2015. Over the past nearly two years, my relationship with my dissertation has changed a lot, as have the daily habits that I’ve come to cultivate. I only started studying tarot recently, but lately I’ve noticed that many of the cards embody energies, ideas, and perspectives that I’ve discovered in the process of dissertation writing. Only some of the cards below concern the intellectual side of the endeavor. Others correct for grad students’ tendency to focus on the intellect at the expense of everything else. I have found out how to live while writing my dissertation, rather than being a slave to it, and these cards express some of the lessons I’ve learned.Continue reading “Tarot Cards for Dissertation Writing”

Nutriments Spread

The Buddha taught that we have four nutriments–the literal and metaphorical food that feeds our existence and keeps it going. Ultimately, one who has attained nirvana is said to have “exhausted” all nutriments, have no food to give future existences. From my perspective, since I don’t think I’ll become enlightened anytime soon, this all seems rather abstract. I had heard of the teaching of the nutriments before, but it went in one ear and out the other. But recently I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. He breaks down the four nutriments in a really relatable way and makes it something that I can work with at an everyday level.

The Four Nutriments

1. Edible Food. “What we eat or drink can bring about mental or physical suffering.” (p 32) And this is not only what we eat, but how we eat it. Are we appreciative of our food and understand the work, suffering, and sacrifice it took to make it to our mouths, or do we just shovel it in? (I’m pretty guilty of the latter.) Do we use food for things that have nothing to do with food, like eating out of boredom or stress?

2. Sense Impressions. This relates not only to what we see, smell, taste, touch, hear, and think (Buddhism considers mind to be the sixth sense) as we walk down the street or go about our lives, but also what kind of media we consume.

3. Volition/intention/will. What we fundamentally believe about life, and believe to be our goal in life, will determine how we act and where we place our attention. Sometimes these beliefs are so deeply believed that we don’t even notice them as beliefs even though they motivate everything we do. Examples of non-helpful volitions would be, “My dad is to blame for all the problems in my life” or “once I own my own home, I’ll finally be happy” or “life is always going to be hard and unfair.” I know one volition that drove my actions for many years was, “My purpose is to be a professor of literature.” Letting go of volitions can be very freeing.

4. Consciousness. Consciousness is the ultimate repository for all the other nutriments and the place from which we act in response to them. “Every day our thoughts, words, and actions flow into the sea of our consciousness and create our body, mind, and world. [. . .] Our consciousness is eating all the time, day and night, and what it consumed becomes the substance of our life. We have to be very careful which nutriments we ingest.” (p. 36)

When I read this today, the thought popped into my head: this would make a great tarot spread! I mean, it seems esoteric, but Thich Nhat Hanh has a point: we are what we eat, literally and metaphorically. Over the past few years, I have come to understand this more clearly through my own experience. He advises: “Use your Buddha eyes to look at each nutriment you are about to ingest. If you see that it is toxic, refuse to look at it, listen to it, taste it, or touch it.” (p. 34)

Ultimately, what we choose to consume determines so much about our lives. Paying attention to how we feed ourselves is useful for well-being on a daily level, even if we have no plans to exhaust all nutriments any time soon!

I think it’s important to look at what we consume and really experience it, but I also think tarot can be a supplemental set of Buddha eyes. So I thought, OK, let’s make this a spread.Continue reading “Nutriments Spread”

The $2 Deck Wrap

One thing I can say for sure is that many of the rituals surrounding storing and “cleansing” tarot decks really don’t appeal to me. Sometimes my die-hard skeptic comes out and I’m like–“There is no way I’m going to waste a bunch of salt or sage on a tarot placebo.” The same goes for the idea that decks should be wrapped in silk. I don’t personally use silk, since silkworm larvae are killed in the process of harvesting. I also read somewhere…on another blog (sorry, attribution fail) that silk is one of the fabrics that is most likely to attract critters and therefore one of the worst for storing tarot cards.

U Waite box
Oh, the sadness of this box.

Until recently, I haven’t really been concerned about storing my cards at all, mostly because I have only one deck and use it pretty much every day. But I haven’t been keeping my Universal Waite cards in their box for the past few months because my box is sad. When I pulled them out of storage in January, I was surprised how beat-up the box was, but didn’t remember it being any other way. The upshot is that I must have used the cards a lot as a teenager and only remember a fraction of that use. (The same goes for watching anime or listening to Green Day, probably.) So my deck has been sitting all naked and lonely on my altar for a while.

I’m actually fine with a naked and lonely deck, but things become more complicated when you add multiple decks to the mix. I will soon be the owner of not just one, but FOUR tarot decks (the Linestrider, as well as the Wild Unknown and Pamela Colman Smith Centennial decks that I ordered yesterday.) Since I won’t be using them all at the same time, I want a nice way to store them, one that keeps them easily accessible and easy to tell apart. I think the Linestrider will come in a pretty standard paper box, so while that’s OK for long-term storage, I don’t want to be opening and closing it all the time if I’m reading with it often. Likewise, the Centennial deck will come as part of a huge boxed set, so I will want to have some place else to put it if I’m doing regular readings with it. (It does come with a little organza bag, but one that doesn’t set me on fire, to say the least.) The Wild Unknown comes in a pretty snug, sturdy, and compact box, from what I can tell, so I will probably keep it there most of the time with the exception of when I travel. So, I need something to store the other three decks.

I was inspired by the Slow Holler people (by the way–support this amazing deck in the last days of its Kickstarter campaign!!!) creating a custom handkerchief/bandana to store the deck. And I thought, huh, why don’t I just buy a few bandanas? So I went down to my local menswear shop and picked up a couple of US-made bandanas for $2 each.

bandana layoutI’m mostly familiar with bandanas as the thing that my dad wraps around his forehead before he goes to mow the lawn. Having purchased a couple for myself, I was struck by how beautiful they are, and how much we take traditional bandana patterns for granted. So I’ve decided to not only wrap my decks in them, but to use them as “laying cloths” as well. I bought a dark blue for my Universal Waite, a lavender for the Linestrider, and will get a sky blue for the Centennial deck and a black one for the Wild Unknown. My only concern is that dye from the bandanas will rub off on the decks. This is probably more of a concern if I’m traveling and the edges of the deck are getting jostled against the cloth. It’s also not that big of a concern. I want to treat my decks well and with respect, just like with any other everyday object I use, I actually want to use them, which is different from keeping them in pristine condition.

bandana wrapWrapping my deck has taken a little getting used to, but I really like the sturdy, soft package that results. I feel much better about the prospect of traveling with my cards because wrapping them tightly in cloth makes sure that they don’t move around much and gives them good padding all at the same time. The bandana cloth likes to stick to itself, so I don’t think a bundle would come undone easily.

And while I don’t think there’s any inherent power or energy in a deck-wrapping, I do think the ritual of unwrapping the deck before use and re-wrapping it afterwards adds a nice intentionality to the act of reading the cards

The Linestrider Tarot Deck

Well, I finally gave in. I promised myself that I would not buy anything having to do with Tarot–no decks, no books, no apps, nothing–until the end of the semester. (In this case, it means after the last day of classes on April 20th. I’ll need something to motivate me getting through final grades, after all.) BUT then a special case popped up. Someone linked to Siolo Thompson’s Linestrider Tarot Deck campaign in a blog post I was reading and I just fell in love. Mind you, this was a few weeks ago, so it’s not like I was completely impulsive, but I gave in just now. How do I justify this purchase to myself? Well, the Linestrider Tarot is just an IndieGoGo campaign right now and I honestly have no idea if I’d be able to get my hands on one after the campaign is over. Also, it won’t ship until May, so I am considering it my birthday present to myself.

Desires always have a way of enlisting reason into their service, huh?

At any rate, I will leave my other three planned Tarot purchases–The Wild Unknown deck, Benebell Wen’s Holistic Tarot, and Paul Quinn’s Tarot for Life–until April 20th. I am SO excited about the prospect of getting two new decks and a couple of great books! I definitely plan on sharing my journey with the Linestrider and the Wild Unknown on this blog!