Monday, July 9, 2012

A Wicked Pack of Cards: Learning to Love your Deck-Spirits



{Shot of my Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards}

{NOW EDITED AND EXPANDED WITH MORE INFORMATION!}

{As with all of my instruction posts, this post can be found under the tag '101s'.}

I've been on a Cartomancy-driven tarot/oracle buying RAMPAGE lately. It's come out of nowhere. But I so love fortune telling and using the cards. It gives me some weird ancestral joy.

Those of you familiar with Tarot of divination of the Card and Rune sort probably already know this, but: Every deck has a Spirit. Whether you think that spirit comes into being when the artist paints the cards or when they're first pressed or you think that Spirit is shared between every deck of cards of that sort manufactured or they are all highly individual, every deck still has a Spirit.

Whether it speaks to you or doesn't, or appears as a human or something else entirely, or refuses to look you in the eyes because it's a prissy bitch, or refuses to speak anything by Aramaic, you're still dealing with a more or less conscious thing.

There is some disagreement amongst tarot readers on this topic. Are decks mere stacks of cardboard, or are they somehow sentient, or sentient enough to fuck with us? Are they mere tools used by Other-Things to show us what we need, and other than that, are just paper and ink? Me being the hard Animist/Chaos person I am, yeah, I've been bitch-slapped rudely by enough decks, repeatedly, to buy the individual deck-spirit idea.

But let me tell you: You're missing out if you aren't sitting down and really getting to know your deck spirits. Believe it or not, they can be incredibly helpful.


Example time. I recently bought these babies. Doreen Virtue's Unicorn Oracle Cards. Fluffy as fuck, I know. But I wanted to know if my feelings (that this deck would somehow work for me, in my hands, given my past) were true on this. And I got the deck, and something was missing--Doreen, interestingly, does not include a single spread in the book. This was actually a very interesting approach.

So besides the basic past-present-future approach, I was sort of at a loss for how to use these cards. What situations could I read for? And how? I didn't want to apply generic layouts to this deck--because every deck is vastly different in what it prefers. So what did I do? I sat down with it and asked to speak to the Spirit of the deck directly.

And it gave me TONS of information on what I NEEDED to include in a reading layout to get accurate results with this deck. It explained the optimal positions of the cards and what they meant. (For instance, it demands that there be 4 cards in 'Guardian' positions for the 4 directions before any situational reading is done.) This is info I could have never gotten on my own, because it's so specific to this particular set of cards, and I would never have guessed it would have so many specifications.

So learn to love your Deck spirits.

The more you work with a deck, the more you get to know its Spirit, even if you don't speak to it directly. I know my Animals Divine tarot only works for emotional/spiritual issues. I know my Rider-Waite gives me cold, hard facts as they are and nothing more. I know my Russian Gypsy cards care genuinely about my well-being, and when they warn me, it's out of a Grandmotherly sort of desire to see me come out above strife. But I also know the Russian Gypsy cards love to give me half-truths and half-lies in readings to test my ability to distinguish.

How do I know this? Through handling and using the cards and tracking what they do and do not do well, and adjusting according. I don't 'speak' to the spirit of the Rider-Waite--it just Is. I don't 'speak' to my Animals Divine--I can just feel the nature of its Spirit. I can and do speak to the Unicorn oracle because I need clear information on its usage. But interacting with a Deck spirit doesn't have to be some huge conversation. It can just be a feeling of knowing. Like regular Guides, some are inclined to speak, with words, and some just send imagery or feelings. Both are legitimate. And some might refuse to speak to you at all!

HOW CAN I SPEAK TO A DECK SPIRIT IF I HAVE NO AWARENESS/CAN'T MEDITATE/CAN'T DO IT OMG???

Fear not, if you can read cards at all you can at least ask a Deck Spirit to describe itself. Example time.


This is a Tarot spread I was given by guides/etc specifically to ask a Deck Spirit to describe itself. It looks like a simple 5-card reading, but the positions are important.

What you're aiming to think about when shuffling is "Describe your purpose and spirit". You're asking the spirit of the cards what it can do for you.

The first 3 (leftmost cards, top to bottom) positions are purely description on the part of the deck. Is it a 'sad' spirit? A light-hearted one? Stoic? Talkative? These cards can help you figure that out.

The 4th position (middle card) is "What can I do well". So this card will hopefully tell you what the deck can help you with. (Emotions, Physical, Spiritual, everything, others, just yourself)

The 5th position (rightmost card) is "What I can't do well". This is asking the deck for restrictions it has. You can expand either of these positions to be 3 cards like the first positions if you think you need clarifying.

I tried this technique with my Rider-Waite mini deck, above. The cards it gave me for itself were the Page of Cups, Knight of Cups, and Sun. Interestingly, when I shuffled and thought about what the cards might be in the tarot, I really thought a cups suit.

This is where you need some intuitive interpreting skill, because the deck is speaking to you through known imagery. So impressions take precedence over meaning for a moment.

The sun, Knight of cups and Page of cups are all describing to me an optimistic, young-seeming, romantic/poetic/sensitive deck spirit, which, since I know this deck, would have been my guess. This particular deck spirit has never spoken to me, but they have that energy about them.

My idea for 'What can I do well' is that the deck excels at options. It's very good for spreads with multiple future outcomes, but it also won't hesitate to tell you straight when you're being a douche about the choices you do have available.

The last card tells me the deck doesn't excel at spreads that utilize snap judgements or yes/no definites, which is what the 8 of wands seems like to me in this position. It can give you fair judgement assessments but it can't necessarily tell you DO THIS or DON'T DO THIS.

Feel free to shamefully steal this technique and see if it works with your decks.

MY DECK JUST ISN'T WORKING FOR ME NO MATTER WHAT I DO??

And here we might have a mundane explanation. Like in human everyday life, sometimes you're not going to jive with certain people. I have certain decks that just DO NOT jive with my energy. They feel awkward in my hands, I can't get a good reading off them, and they sit on the shelf and collect major dust.


Sometimes the Spirit of the deck just does not jive with you. Don't take it personally or assume it's their fault. The best thing to do is hand the deck off to somebody who might resonate better with its energy. For instance, my Fantastical Creatures tarot, I have theorized, does not work for me because it combines 78 individual creatures from mythology, and the deck Spirit seems confused, at best. Sometimes that many things from different cultures do not play nice together, and for me that energy bleeds over into the deck. It doesn't have any attachments or anything...we just don't work well together as partners. And that's fine. Let it move on to somebody else.

DEALING WITH A...DIFFICULT DECK SPIRIT

Sometimes you get a difficult/fun/ohmygods Spirit, like with any Occult item. A friend once had a pendulum that only gave her answers if she asked in Aramaic. That's what I classify as...a Personality. Personally I think these Spirits are hilarious. Personality is great. But what to do when the Spirit is basically like 'No, fuck you, I'm going to tell you nothing'?

Firstly, assume the Spirit knows itself better than you. Is it telling you jack-shit just to be an asshole? Or could it be you're not ready to hear its answers or honestly work with it? (I can definitely see 'advanced' decks purposefully blocking out a beginner if they might use it wrong.)

Secondly, keep working at it. Like a human relationship, give the deck its space. Ask it how it wants to procede. Just because it refuses to work with you now doesn't mean it's time to throw it out. Maybe it's a test, and should you pass, the deck can become a really close ally that gives you banging readings and actually helps you in readings for others. Who knows? Don't make snap judgements right off.

Thirdly, proceed slowly. If the deck refuses to do something right off the bat, don't do it. And if the deck has requests (some of my decks only work with a candle burning, and my Gypsy cards love vodka) try to meet them. Honestly it's worth it to work with a 'difficult' Deck Spirit.


DO 2 EXACT-SAME DECKS OF CARDS CONTAIN THE SAME SPIRIT?

This question was raised in the comments. If you ask me, I would say, no, not all the time. I think it's possible for two decks of the same edition to contain the same spirit. For instance, I think the Thoth tarot has a more over-arching Spirit-type than, say, the several thousand versions of the Rider-Waite. I think strong intent when creating the deck, and specific source, can lead to a similar Spirit. I don't think this happens all the time because I also think the Spirit can change depending on what works best with the person. I don't think they are locked into one form all the time depending on the deck.

CAN I DEDICATE A DECK TO SPEAK WITH DEITY/ANCESTORS/SPIRITS, WITHOUT STEPPING ON THE TOES OF THE DECK SPIRIT OR WILL THEY CANCEL OUT?

You can absolutely dedicate a deck for that purpose. In this case the Deck Spirit can act as a phone operator provided you have a good relationship, and in a best case scenario it can act as another discernment tool for you in Spirit interactions.

My advice is the same for every Occult item dedication on my altar: make sure the Deck Spirit gives consent. This can be as simple as a pendulum divination over the deck and a strong "yes". Things will always go better for you in dealing with Spirits if you are polite and ask before volunteering somebody's house for another's usage, you dig?

And in this case, the Deck Spirit might be able to help you out in cases where you go from Spirit-speaking-through-the-deck and suddenly Spirit-who-won't-leave-the-deck. Having a good relationship with your Deck Spirit means it can alert you when somebody needs to go, because it's suddenly crowded in here.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DECK SPIRIT AND A SPIRIT IN YOUR DECK?

With any old or heirloom item, especially jewelry and Occult nonsense, you can risk Spirit attachment. In this case, you can have a Spirit either join your original Item Spirit, or it can force the original one out or into silence.

Not every attachment is negative. Say your Grandma was a card reader of great repute for 20 years before passing, and she stayed on to help you learn her deck. That's not such a bad thing provided you can verify her identity. But if she stays on to make sure NOBODY ELSE uses her deck...well...that's not such a great thing. (Though in all fairness you need to ask the old owner before using their deck! Especially a dead one!)

Sometimes you can have some sort of Spirit you work with attach to your deck, in which case you need to be aware of who is 'in' at the time. When getting information on your deck you want to talk to the deck itself, because nothing will know better than it. Allowing a Spirit attachment to speak to you through readings is fine, if you have a Verified Identity, but it's not the same as allowing the deck to speak for itself. There is a difference.

OMG I THINK I HAVE AN ATTACHMENT HOW CAN I TELL??

Read the discernment post I keep linking to in this article. Come back.

Step 1. FIGURE OUT IF YOU REALLY HAVE AN ATTACHMENT

You generally need some reason to assume this. Does the deck give you a sudden creepy feeling of being watched when it didn't before? Does it spike uncomfortably when you touch it, but it didn't before? Does it suddenly hide itself from you everytime you try to cleanse or handle it? Do your readings suddenly come out remarkably weird/make no sense?

Figure out if the deck just needs a good cleansing or not. Energy spikes, bad reads, and certain feelings can be indicative of a simple cleansing.

     CLEANSING THAT SHIT [Cards edition]
           A. SAGE OR INCENSE THAT SHIT
                   Waft that shit through incense or sage smoke repeatedly.
           B. SALT THAT SHIT
                    Place that shit over a bowl of salt. Not in it, just directly over it.
           C. SEAL THAT SHIT
                    Place that shit in a crystal grid or a purifying seal for extra protection.


Step 2. FIGURE OUT WHO IT IS

Provided you tried Cleansing That Shit and it didn't work, you can move on to step 2 and try to figure out what the fuck is in your cards that shouldn't be.

Firstly: Do you have historical or logical reason to think there is shit in the cards? If your grandma passed the cards to you and is gone now, it might be logical to check if she's the one there because you have some precedent for it. Starting cold is sort of difficult.

Secondly: If you got nothin', I suggest meditating with the deck in your hands and trying be open to impressions, especially unpleasant ones. If you get scared feelings or such things it's indicative of the type of spirit.

Thirdly: If your impressions still point to this, ask a guide or Spirit helper to check it out. They can give you information if you're unable to figure out what's in the cards by yourself. Deities count. If you can't contact a guide/feel comfy by yourself, you can try divination. Pendulum or smoke divination is ideal for this purpose. Use logic and discernment when dealing with Spirit Identification. Even better, have somebody with you that can confirm what you see/feel, preferably somebody not directly involved who can be objected and divinate for you or something.


Step 3. FIGURE OUT IF YOU'RE OKAY WITH SAID ATTACHMENT

Provided you've somehow ascertained what is indeed in your cards, figure out if that's okay with you.

For example: If my Animals Divine deck attracted a Cat or a Wolf spirit that just resonated with the cards, that's no big deal. An animal spirit isn't out to eat your babies. Maybe it just liked the way the cards felt and curled up inside the box with them. Don't assume every attachment is auto-bad.


There are cases in which your helper Spirits attach to your items to...well...help you out. This is easy to figure out: Ask. If they look at you like 'What the fuck?' it's probably not them.


Provided the attachment is something you're not thrilled about (like a vengeful family member for instance) you still might want to try talking it out. Sometimes anger and vegeance can be assuaged through logic and patience. I always at least try to make nice with the Spirit I'm dealing with, even angry/hungry demon ones. Don't jump right into OMG HEXXINGGG. Especially with a pissed-off Ancestral Spirit. If somebody was perceived as stealing your shit, you might be mad too.


Step 4. EITHER LEAVE IT ALONE / MAKE NICE / GET RID OF IT

Once you decide how to proceed, there are a couple routes.

THE HIGH ROAD: LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE

The road you should take when the spirit is more or less harmless and isn't causing any real shenanigans, or you don't know how to properly remove Spirits and are waiting to have someone who can take a look at the deck. Perfectly valid.

THE MIDDLE ROAD: MAKE NICE

Maybe you try explaining the situation and asking the attachment to leave. And hey, magically this often works. Treating a spirit with, you know, respect, actually does wonders. They might legitimately not know they're causing you trouble. So try this route. Maybe you agree on a conditional situation: you can stay, so long as you don't interfere in my readings for X, or you can stay if you actually AID my readings for x. Bargains can go both ways.

THE LOW ROAD: GET RID OF IT

Before doing this, make sure you exhausted all over options and already went through the 3 steps of cleansing a deck listed above. If you did all that and the Spirit still insists on fucking with your shit, you have license to remove it. Make sure you give the thing an eviction notice so if it ignores it it's the Spirit's fault.


Step 5. PROCEED TO GO THROUGH THE STEPS TO RID THE ITEM OF UNWANTED ATTACHMENT.

1. SALT THAT SHIT (YES, AGAIN)

Yes, really, wrap that shit in cloth and set it in a bowl of salt for like 3 days just to annoy the thing. Don't put the cards directly in salt. That's a bad idea. DECK. IN HOLDER. THEN IN SALT. Sometimes this alone is enough to force the thing out. Check how it feels after.

2. DRAW THAT SHIT OUT

There is where you need experience with Spirit wrangling, but essentially, leaving the deck in the salt bowl, you're going to make the Spirit as uncomfortable as possible in its house. Then, you take a bottle or something with a cork/top that is empty. You place both the deck with the salt and the bottle on opposite sides of an energy seal. The seal draws out the spirit from the deck and traps it in the bottle instead.



3. SEAL THE NOW-EMPTY CARDS

Stick an energetic seal/protection symbol on the deck to 'seal' the door for future shit to get in. This prevents the same thing from re-homing in the cards. PS, the seal above is a strong protection seal from my personal collection. Feel free to use elements of it in your owl seals. This is like a brick wall of shenanigans.

4. RELEASE THAT SHIT

It's not good to keep spirits holed up like pokemon, you dig? It's also cruel. So my advice is to take the bottle somewhere far away from the cards, ward yourself, then uncork the thing and release the spirit back whence it came. The bottle can be thrown out or buried or whatever you want.

5. IN A WORSE CASE SCENARIO WHEN YOU CAN'T GET RID OF REALLY BAD NONSENSE

You can burn the cards. But do it far away from your house just in case, as burning releases Spirit energies into the surrounding area, and make sure you're warded first.

You'll notice I was being purposefully vague in some descriptions. I figure if you have enough experience to be attempting this you should know from other sources how to handle it. I don't want people dealing with nasty things when they're not ready. As always, it's better to have an experienced buddy with you, Deity, Guide, or Human. 

Feel free to comment with any questions or experiences, as always.

6 comments:

  1. Howdy! I wandered over here from Aubs' blog and am enjoying your posts a lot.

    I had some questions about the tarot cards because I have a deck myself and wanted to start using it more. There is an online version that always gives me pretty accurate results (or at least tells me what it thinks I want to hear?) and so I have the physical version. But the physical version doesn't seem to give as solid answers as the online one. Why the heck could that be?

    Also, I wanted to dedicate the use of the cards as a vehicle for speaking with my ancestors, but would that exclude input from the spirit of the deck itself? Could the spirit interfere?

    Lastly a somewhat related question: you said we could use deity as a guide, and I have a relationship with my patroness Bast, but she seems kind of intimidating and almost purposefully distant to me. Should I leave it as is or should I ask her to help me out with this? I know this might end up being just a personal question but I don't get the feeling that I should waste her time with everyday things. I'm not sure if this is coming from her or from my own conception of what deities are for (basically, you worship them because you are a puny human that should be thankful they like you and don't seem to want to squash you like a bug...for now.).

    Sorry if I randomed too much. :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh and one more: Is each deck´s spirit individual, even if it´s two copies of the same deck? Or does every Rider-Waite deck have the same personality, for example?

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    2. As to the last question, I think every deck can individually vary. And for the Rider-Waite, there are soooo many permutations of that deck I can't imagine the same personality between two, even of the same edition. I can see them being similar but I almost think the cards are a collection of spirits almost and certain ones take precedence. You can think of the deck like archetypes and a few come out more.

      I also think the spirit changes depending on the individual sometimes. (Like a chick on a pagan group I belong to has a Rider Waite that feels positively terrible, and every time she tries to throw it out it hides itself from her. Much sneakier than my deck.)

      As for the online/offline weirdness, I think online and offline versions still have different energies at work. The feeling is going to be different, and so I can assume the Spirit is too. But I might try cleansing it just in case.

      There's also the mundane case of some spirits just aren't going to jive with you as much as others in terms of accuracy. I have a tarot called the Fantastical Creatures and for some reason it just does NOT work for me. I think she tried to combine toooo many mythologies in one deck and it resulted in badness.

      When dedicating a deck for usage by another being, I would just make sure to ask the deck spirit if it's okay with that/if it can connect like that. It's just polite. But it's entirely possible to do so. The deck spirit can act as a conduit and actually have you out with that.

      Welp from personal experience since Bast has declared herself overlord of my uncomfortable personal life, she generally is distant. It seems to be her nature. She goes from distant to stern motherly when you really fuck up, gives you some good advice, and then goes back to being distant. She doesn't like to coddle, she's not very hands-on like that. So that just sounds like Bast being her to me. Anubis is the same way. I have a water-cooler relationship and essentially approach Deity like equals, and even I see her that way, so I really think that's just her lmao.

      I can't say whether she will or won't help you out, you'd have to try asking :P Failing that, real human guides count too. And really helpful deck spirits.

      I may add some of this to the original article...

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    3. Thanks for the quick response!

      Eek...well I did a reading yesterday following the format you posted here: http://perbastemhet.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/introducing-my-anubis-oracle-deck/ and it looks like my ancestors pretty much took over. I didn´t think to ask the deck spirit first because I´m not an animist so I wasn´t thinking about that, so how would I go about remedying that situation?

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    4. Lol I would personally say it's a matter of focus. Just dial the deck spirit on your banana phone/spirit phone and ask the ancestors to politely hold because you're trying to talk to the deck spirit for a moment. I would think that would be simple enough. I would just attempt it a second time and maybe use a pendulum or something to confirm.

      But I'm glad the spread worked for you in general!

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