Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: The Tarot Nova

What: The Tarot Nova.
Who: Dennis Fairchild and Julie Paschkis
Price: Retails between $5 and $20.
Size: Deck is a smallish, but standard, square-ish size.
Where: I purchased my deck at Barnes and Noble as a kit, here is an link.
Rating: ●●

Upsides: The deck is a smaller, but standard, size. It's incredibly easy to handle and read. The quality is very high and the artwork, while simplistic, is not completely beyond comprehension.

Downsides: The complete Fortune Telling Kit is not without it's shortcomings, due to it's "novelty gift" nature.

Style: This is a standard "tarot deck" in the Waite/Smith Style. The entire deck is done in a marker-art technique of brightly colored, simplistic, scenes and characters on a black background. The back image is a similarly styled floral and celestial motif.The cards are titled outside of the image and there is a generous border all the way around.

The suits, and the Majors, all have colored corners Majors (Purple) are Cups (Blue), Swords (Yellow), Pentacles (Green) and Wands (Red). All cards are pipped with small, complimentary, scenes

Tricks and Treats: It's a pretty standard deck, but one that's appropriate even for children - either to learn to read on, or to be read for with. It is more inclined to respond like a friend would - "He's greedy" rather than "This gentleman may not, perhaps, be the best to get in bed with financially. Winkwinknudgenudge."

Verdict: This is a little, handy, simplistic, non-scary deck that reads very well.

Rating: ●●

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: The Dee/Baker Tarot

What: The Jonathan Dee Tarot Pack
Who: Jonathan Dee and Shirley Barker.
Price: Retails between $0.01 and $20.
Size: Deck is a standard size, cards are thin and matte finished.
Where: I purchased my deck at Barnes and Noble as a kit, here is an link and one for the Book.
Rating: ●●○○

Upsides: The deck is a standard size, the cards are fairly sturdy resilient. They are packaged with a thin, hardcovered, book with various meanings and spreads. The layout is clean and simple, easily readable.

Downsides: Tuck boxes are not meant for the long-haul and this one practically disintegrated. The thinness of the cards means they bend very easily - though I think a well-worn deck is a sign of practice. The book is fairly pointless, and at one time it was wrapped in black paper and used as a shelf (on top of candle holders) on my altar. ;)

Style: This is a standard "tarot deck" in the Waite/Smith Style. The entire style of the deck appears to be a pallette knife-work painting. The back image is er... swords, or reeds or stalks on a block-printed-looking background. Faces are the same pallette knife styled art on a flat background of a bright color, depending upon the suit. The cards are titled outside of the image and there is a generous border all the way around.

The suits are Cups (White/Yellow/Blue), Swords (Red/Yellow/Purple), Pentacles (Orange/Green/Yellow) and Wands (White/Red/Orange). Minors are pipped on the number cards, with additions ranging from tiny portraits to pictoral scenes alongside them.

Tricks and Treats: It's a pretty standard deck.

Verdict: This deck has never read for me worth a damn, so I can't really deliver much of a verdict there. It's very, very, very inexpensive. The art style also annoys me.

Rating: ●●○○

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: The Hertz Vampire Tarot

What: The Vampire Tarot Deck w/Mini Book.
Who: Written and Illustrated by Nathalie Hertz.
Price: Retails between $5 (sale prices) and $20.
Size: Deck is slimmer, 2.5x5", round-cornered, and "Plasticoat" glossy.
Where: I purchased my deck at Borders, here is an link.
Rating: ●●○○

Upsides: The deck is packaged in an attractive, semi-durable tuckbox with a small mini-book (stapled, not a folded sheet). The book is 35 pages, which is large for a deck-book. It is black and white. The layout is clean and simple, easily readable. The cards are nicely-sized for smallish hands and durable, which is nice, and the plasti-coat finish is slightly textured which helps with dealing and shuffling. 

Downsides: Tuck boxes are not meant for the long-haul and I assume this one will go the way of others in time... that is to say floppy, falling apart, missing the tuck-tabs...etc. The book is small, concise, and to the point. Almost too short, seeing as it's a deck-book. There are no frills and the spreads are minimal and standard. I really would like to see tarot authors create spreads specifically for certain decks. 

Style: This is a standard "tarot deck" in the Waite/Smith Style. The back image is a simple tribal-gothic swirl of black on red with a border.  Faces are a watercolor style, lineless, painted look with thin borders of black, on which the title and numerals are printed, lined with a thin blood red border directly around the art. The art itself is bordered on two sides with a gothic vine-and-leaf motif on gray, in a "Tombstone" style.
The Majors have a style that is gothic-tribal, with fairytale-like clothing and hairstyles. The "quality" of the art itself is a little lacking in anatomy and perspective, but it fits with the over-all impression of the deck and does not exactly detract from it. The suits are Cups (filled with blood), Swords (held by funerary monuments and statues), Pentacles (depicted as shields, discs, coins and flowers) and Wands (depicted as metal-tipped stakes). Minors are pipped on the number cards, with additions ranging from tiny portraits to pictoral scenes alongside them. Trumps (there are four for each suit) are bestial royalty holding the suit's token.

Tricks and Treats: Like all vampire-associated decks they are trickier to read. Some card meanings are reversed or augmented by the deck and readings can get especially nuanced when it comes to "Strength" in a Vampire tarot.

Verdict: The deck reads pleasantly, it's got a bit of the "Thoth" flair for the dramatic, throwing out whizz-bang cards on blase topics to keep the querent interested. It's very, very, very "Goth" - and that can be a hurdle for some people.

Rating: ●●○○

Monday, October 15, 2012

Review: The Place Vampire Tarot

Photo by J. Burgos from
What: The Vampire Tarot Book & Deck Boxed Set.
Who: Book and Deck by Robert M. Place.
Price: Retails between $5 (sale prices) and $30.
Size: Deck is roughly 3x5", square cornered and glossy.
Where: I purchased my deck at Hastings, here is an link.
Rating: ●●○○○

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Time Off.

I'm taking a break from the woo-woo-internets for a while. Recent encounters have left me rather more raw than I ought to be, and that has in turn caused me to redirect my ire. To those who have gotten the less-than-flat edge of my flaming sword, I apologize.

During this time I'll be clearing up issues with responsible parties directly, online and off, and likely formally severing my ties with a few persons and groups.

This is also a time I need to be taking to work on writing (the long-suffering Familiar-book), and gearing up for my fall-time duties.

I woke up singing "Grow For Me" from Little Shop of Horrors, and realized it's an encapsulation of my frustrations. That I literally popped awake humming it says something about how persistent the message is. I can't keep feeding the man-eaters, or they'll just get bigger and hungrier.

I've given you southern exposure
To get you to thrive.
I've pinched you back hard,
Like I'm s'posed ta.
You're barely alive.
I've tried you at levels of moisture
From desert to mud.
I've given you grow-lights
And mineral supplements.
What do you want from me- Blood?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moment Of Clarity - The Oh Shits.

There are moments of clarity, and then there are Moments Of Clarity. Those life-shakers that change the way we see ourselves, and the way we conduct the course of our life from thereon.
Usually, we realize we'd been on this particular course, unawares, for a long time. Groping toward something we could only roughly grasp with instinct rather than intellect.

And then we grasp it, fully, and the Oh Shit's abound.

Monday, July 30, 2012


In the recent wake of entries about nonconformity, or "different cognition" and how anything other than middle-of-the-road needs to somehow be hyper-vigilant about not becoming batshit crazy - fuck that noise. This wild witch has weird shit happen, questions it until it hurts - and finds it just as beautiful in the morning.  So, here is a story of weird shit, things that border on insanity, but that changed my life forever - for the better.

The Foreplay.
I don't recall how old I was, precisely... 14 is a good, rough, estimate. I was already practicing whatever this -thing- is that became "Witchcraft". I was also routinely suffering from allergy attacks that, by all rights, should've been taken care of at a hospital. But they weren't "so" bad - I'd take the dose of OTC antihistamines suggested by my doctor (read: A LOT) , the symptoms would fade, I'd pass out... all would be well in the morning.

Except that night. When you have mysterious food allergies, allergies to your own hormones, allergies to perfumes and additives... sometimes a perfect storm crawls up your back when you're busy, and rodgers you dry. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't breathe.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Finer Lines.

Spirit are Real, Spirits are People too.

I had a task that a spirit needed to be sent on, and went to my most-trusted Familiar (DB) for this task. I made my offer, he made his counter-offer, and after that brief negotiation I found the terms good enough to shake on it.

          Contention: I should've simply asserted my Mastery over the spirit, told him he'd do as I say, or he'd get the hose again.

          Response: No. Not how I work, wouldn't be successful. I would not call up a friend of numerous years and say "Go do what I tell you to do or I'll subject you to unholy, supernatural, torture." I'd say "Hey, bruh... if you have the time there's something I need help with. I'll buy you a six-pack if you come help me." and he'd said "Make it a twelve and we're good.", "Well, it's important, so that's no skin off my ass. You're happy, I'm happy. Gravy."

So, Familiar went off and did what needed doing. And my god, he did it like a champ. What I thought was impossible he handled in three hours and practically left a fuckin' mint on my pillow after. He deserved an extra treat for doing such an above-and-beyond job... so I asked him what he'd like.

          Contention: A familiar is never "Treated" - it got it's pay and it'll get greedy and/or lazy if you over-spoil it.

          Response: Each spirit has a different mind, and nature. One spirit would laugh his ass off if I approached him in the manner of a Solomonic rite, and then get very cross with me. Another will simply shoot me the finger if I approach with anything less than precious resin fumes and Latin incantations. Some are new - we're still in the process of my leaving bits of raw meat lying around, and making reassuring noises. Apparently some resident familiars find it funny to scare the newbies.

But I'm Still the Damn Magus 'Round Here.

"We don’t know anything spiritual is real for absolutely sure. [snip] If, for example, a spirit in a tanned hide says it wants to go back to the earth, I refuse and offer it other options, because I don’t want the residues from the tanning chemicals going into the soil or water. Sometimes we have to tell the spirits to suck it up. We can’t let ourselves be terrorized into doing stupid shit by the fear some angry spirit will ruin our lives." - Lupa
 I remember working with Deadboy a number of years back, when he asked for something a bit untoward. Y'see, he wanted me to find some poor, unsuspecting, schmuck to let him slide into and work like a puppet for a while. I said "No." He said "I will get pissed and wreck shit." I said "If you do, -I- will get pissed and wreck shit, bub. Pick. Something. Else."  We negotiated a bit of fun for the both of us, problem solved.

Another spirit felt that it's jar wasn't large enough - the jar it had specifically begged and pleaded for - and would cause a racket. I could hear it all night long - the sound of a moth trapped in a jar. I politely informed it that it would have to wait for a larger jar, and if it did not like the arrangements it could either be patient or I'd put it's current jar outside. No more noise.

It's a finer line than most people like, between "Acceptable" and "Unacceptable" - and that line becomes fuzzy when you involve more than one opinion. In short: 90% of what I do is directed by experience with the spirits, and I tend to think (I mean, I would, right?) that this is the way to go. Don't be a push-over, but don't treat your disembodied friends like shit - safe advice.

Monday, July 16, 2012


There is an individual out there claiming to train others in the Tradition I am a part of, and citing me as the person who trained/inducted them. I want to stress fully, and without the slightest hint of wiggle-room, that this is not true. In fact, I have never properly discussed even my personal practices with them (let alone Traditional ones), without enough blinds to blot out the sun.

This person had previously asked, repeatedly, for training and had been turned down in spades. They are not in the neighborhood, region, state, continent, planetoid, solar system, or galaxy of "proper" for the Work, and have proven that time and time again.

Caveat seeker, because there's some crazy mofos out there.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Types of Initiation - Types of Initiates.

Titles are like Tits.
 The People Who Have Large Ones Often Find Them Unwieldy, and Yet Others Seem to Envy Them and Yet More Burden Themselves Into Ridiculousness With Them In An Attempt To Be Admired.

There is a need amongst people to be able to distinguish "I'm in this for the long haul" from "I'm in this to make my parents uncomfortable." It is the same need as "No, I do not like this band because their song was on a printer commercial." or "I read Lord Of The Rings before I watched Lord of The Rings."

It is the fundamental statement "I am not shallow about this. This is important to me. I do not want to even be thought of as having come to this place in a shallow way." Because, well, we've all met that one really shallow person - in fact, that statement probably brings one or more people to mind. I could go through a list of flaky characteristics, but you already know that person.

It's not about trying to claim you're something you're not - unless you are.  It's about making sure that there is a distinction - a distinction that is important to you.

But is the distinction all that important?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Things I Learned From Chaos Magick.

Nothing is Real and Everything is Permitted. 

I am 14 years old, and kneeling at my altar. On it are effigies of Sekhmet and Anubis. At some point in time these spirits have presented themselves to me in dreams and visions - and for all I knew (or cared) the images they presented were wholly valid. I did not stop to run these spirits through the wringer and make them declare themselves to me. I did not test or argue with them. I accepted that the faces they gave to me were the faces they wanted me to see.

I went forward with the knowledge that at any point in time I could be proven wrong, and that the flexibility of my paradigm would allow for that without fundamental damage to it.  And for probably ten years the flexibility was never tested. And then one day I evoked "My Mother", and her face was hard, and her hair was not ringlets of black mane, but serpents. And a bolt went through my heart "This is a Gorgon, not a Kemetic goddess." And I looked to "My Father" - and I no longer saw a Jackal-headed man. I saw a man wearing a wolf-skin.

"Well, fuck" I said "Are y'all still okay with being called Sekhmet and Anubis... or... ?"

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"I don’t recall inviting you to my table."

The Elasticity of A Metaphor.
It all started with a tree. It was a very old tree which had grown from a nut dropped by an even older tree (and so on and so on) until, one might surmise, one had reached the ancient proto-ancestor of the tree. It was a peculiar and towering tree native to one region of the world, later introduced to countless others. The tree was in danger of being struck down and burnt, and beloved as it was someone elected to cut it down gracefully. They sawed the trunk into great planks and spread the planks amongst the people who loved the tree. From these planks were made tables.

One particular table stayed in one very small community, passed on and around between generations. Until, well, the story of the Table had all but been forgotten. Someone had put a heavy varnish on the once breathing wood, and that was that - the line of family who had cared for it all but died out. So, the last person remembering the tale gave the table to someone outside of the community. They hoped that the desperate act would keep the table's story going for another few centuries.

The new keeper had modern sensibilities, and did not like the "savage" woodgrain. So they painted the table white - white for purity and innocence and never once doing anything naughty, EVER.  They never saw the grain of the tree again, nor felt the texture of it's natural surface. The ribald undulations of wild wood were, thus, buried.

Later on they passed the table on, and the next person did not like the high-gloss white, and instead painted it a matte black. Black's the color of night, and dark things. And just looks -classy-. But in time they grew tired of the table and passed it to someone else.

And then someone spraypainted it. And then someone else did a faux wood finish. And then someone else did decoupage with Vishnu in the middle surrounded by Christian saints. And then someone looked a the hulk and said "I wonder what's underneath it all? I wonder how it was made so I can just make my own, the way -I- want?"

If Talk Be Bothersome To Ye...
If even seeing a photo of ritually anointed bread causes you to recoil and make snotty comments? Maybe you're not invited to their table. They have bloody bread on that table.
If the idea that somewhere, someone, killed something for their faith sends you into paroxysms of rage? Maybe you're not invited to my table. I have ritually slaughtered meat on my table.

The irony is that there are sources of information on true, deep, old, witching lines. Unbroken enough to be likely candidates for the shennanigans at Saveock Water - but if "seekers" balk at a photo of bread lovingly smeared with menstrual blood, I think they'd balk a lot harder at anecdotes like: "And so I had ritual sex with my high-priestess while her moon flowed. And those co-mingled fluids were then used to rim the wineglass from which the rest of the covine drank." Even if it's VERY Traditional, and VERY potent stuff... it's just not for everyone. It's not their table, and they're not invited, anyway.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


So, here's how it is - that whole downtime a bit back? That was about the tone of this blog, it's content, and the direction it had been taking.  That direction? Wibbly, apologetic, pagan. And I am not an apologetic.

Things change now. They change because demand has been issued, and need must be met.

As Peter Grey said: "The Western Tradition has fallen over itself to be respectable, and in doing so has pulled its own claws."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Safety and Pointy Bits.

Sometimes bloodletting is required. It's not something every person will have to do, or even consider doing, but sometimes the spirits take it without asking - we've all had an knife that bites, or a boline that gouges. For a very long time I operated in circles where bloodletting was a normal, and rather routine (even blase) part of the proceedings. I've been around it enough to see the sacred, profane and pornographic sides of it.

So here's an entry on handling "Sharps". Not just in the sense of bloodletting, but in the whole of one's "juju stuff". ATTENTION: This is not medical, nor legal, advice. Go to a doctor or a lawyer for that.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Icky-Bits Pt.1a - Responses.

Harold Roth, an herbalist, businessman, Juju-dude, and author that I have a lot of respect for left a rather large comment to my last entry. It brought up a lot of points that I felt bore following up on - unfortunately when I tried to copy the text of that comment, the blogger system consumed it with a fiery passion - I got the text into an e-mail, and it's from there that I'll be copying. Instead of posting it here first, I e-mailed him with my response. A far more candid version of what I'll post here.

I expected a reply in the terse-and-or-pissed vein. It's part and parcel to the topic, and I didn't question for a moment that someone would bring up the downside, dark side...etc. I did address ethics, but I did not address them in absolutes - that's not something I'm in the market to do. That's the "problem" with the Occult, what is an ethical issue for one is not for another.

Icky Bits Pt. 1 : "Permissions" of Sacrifice & Toadbone

The Seed of The Topic. 

Eric from "Philosophies of a Witch" asked a few salient questions concerning The Toadbone Rite over on another blog. Not only were/are my comments not showing up, that is just not the place to discuss this.

This is a topic that, right now, I could write you a book on the whole thing.  That is because The Rite encompasses a number of moral puzzles, social quandaries, and occult niches which are not routinely discussed - and there's reasons for that. Chumbley's treatment "One: The Grimoire of The Golden Toad" is meant for Cunningfolk and Sorcerers who do not need to be mushroom stamped (NSFW) by morality and ethics - The Witch is the holder of their conscience.  If I were to expound, 'cause I'm damned well gonna, I'd go into those nooks and crannies - they interest me. I like discussing them, I like the moral puzzles and what great power and wonder they bring to the table. These are part of what make the rite as powerful as it is.

This is a topic a little like the Dandelion - You would not assume it's ad weighty as it appears. You might assume a lot of the hub-bub is just bluster... but bound up in the discussion of one, small, English rite are matters that can apply to all areas of Traditional Witchcraft and it's modern incarnation.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Prior Downtime

I've been noticing lately that the tone of my blog has gone into places I didn't really want it to. It nudged at areas I was initially pleased with - but I found the results of it displeasing.

I was also getting bored with my old layout. This one's more simple, and a bit easier to read.

The blog was down for a couple of days while I sifted, sorted, and re-designed. Sorry for the wait.