Cup Party

Party!

Kind of!

I am currently on enough antibiotics to make a Belgian Blue hallucinate, so I will make today both short and sweet: I drew the Three of Cups again.

Last time I did, it was at a time when my S.O. and I had a number of things in the works. We’d initiated the process of moving into a new place, I’d finished some paintings, and we were working on getting a site up and running. This time, I’m pleased to say that these things are reaching their fulfillment — appropriate for the full moon, no?

The apartment is about done being renovated. I received proofs of the images of my paintings that I sent to the printer, and they look awesome. We have a business license, our site is up, and we’re happily posting bits and pieces of the story of The Teller of Fortunes. It’s time to celebrate!

(It’s the culmination of something else, too: filtering and bottling my raven oil. It takes me a year to make, and I set it up and filter it on October’s full moon. One of these days, I might get around to compiling my recipes and processes into something I can share. This one, in particular, is good stuff.)

Of course, while the full moon marks the culmination of a cycle, the waning moon comes right behind her. Next is the time to work on the tiny, unseen things, followed by the new moon, before the energy ramps up again. I don’t really have much that I need to work on this cycle (well, not externally, anyhow); there are plenty of balls rolling already, it’s time to see where they go.

 

Advertisements

Spiders, Sea Perch Eyes, and Salvador Dalí

I’ve been writing a thing about sleep, which has resulted in a not-insignificant amount of research into everything from sleep apnea statistics, to what kind of effects certain sounds have on the body’s cortisol level, to what Salvador Dalí used to do with sturgeon eyes.

Let me back up.

I once read a paper on Academia.edu (which I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in Semitic mysticism, lecanomancy, ancient Greek magical texts, or Egyptian magic). Ever since, I regularly get emails about some incredibly interesting subjects. For example, I have a pretty good handle on how to get a skull to talk for divination purposes, as well as how to punish it if it only tells lies and refuses to stop yelling. I don’t recall the exact search string that led to me getting a link to a copy of Dalí’s 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship, but I did.

In it, he describes an ideal meal of sea urchins (“three dozen sea urchins,” to be exact, “gathered on one of the last two days that precede the full moon, choosing only those whose star is coral red and discarding the yellow ones”) and beans à la Catalane, after which you are to sit in front of a blank canvas without any light, until it’s become too dark to see it.

“It will become more and more dim until, when night has submerged you, you will completely have ceased to see it, or at most will only be vaguely aware of the space it occupies. Continue still to look at it, without remorse, for another good fifteen minutes, for it is under these circumstances that your spirit will work best and most decisively, and do not worry about making the maid wait when she calls you and says that the soup is on the table, for after what you have eaten at noon, your long afternoon sleep and everything that you are in the midst of painting in the dark, without yet even suspecting it, you have already in a sense had your supper, and more.”

After this, he recommends dining on sea perch, specifically the eyes. After consuming all but the hard kernels inside, you are to keep them in your mouth. Then, after getting into bed:

“[T]ake these eyes out again. Keep one in your hand, and put the other two on a small book or on a black box which you will rest on your knees, placing them at a certain distance from each other in such a way that, when you hold your forefinger in front of the two super-white balls and focus on your forefinger, the eyes of the sea perch will join, thanks to the precious distance between your own eyes, the grace and the mystery of your binocular vision, and the two eyes of the sea perch will become one single ball. This ball will seem to exert a hypnotic effect on you, and it is very desirable that on that night you should go to sleep while looking at it. But at the same time that you are staring at these two balls which have become one, it is furthermore necessary that, holding the third sea perch eye — the one which your wife has smilingly yielded to you — between the crossed forefinger and middle-finger of your right hand, you should gently caress it. You will then have the striking and unbelievable sensation of having contact with two sea perch eyes, and not merely with the one which is really between your fingers.”

This is “the secret of the sleep with three sea-perch eyes,” and, ideally, will make your sleep start off on the “right, good, and wise path!”

Later, he talks about the importance of constructing an aranearium — that is, a place to keep a spider. Granted, his ideal setup is strikingly different from mine. When I kept tarantulas, a small glass or acrylic aquarium with a suitable substrate and a very firmly-locking lid was enough to keep everything from a docile rose hair to a tetchy cobalt blue. He explains:

“The best aranearium is constructed with a slender olive branch, which you shape as nearly as possible into a perfectly round hoop, leaving four or five olive leaves clinging to the outer part of the circle, on which the spider will enjoy placing himself on various occasions. This hoop of olive wood you will secure on a four-foot pine pole provided with a solid base. At the bottom of the hoop place a small box in the shape of a perfect cube, of very green pine, provided with two holes, one in the top, and the other in one of the sides. This empty cube will serve as the spider’s nest. Within the previously moistened box, introduce a little earth and allow it to dry well in the sun. Since amber is very sympathetic to the spider — and how much more to the painter! — you must always keep a little ball of it on the cube, which you will use to magnetize the tip of your wand, with which you will manipulate and train your spider, so to speak, and with which you will reach to it its feasts of flies, of which you must always have several in reserve, which you may keep in a little bowl beside the ball of amber — for between amber and dead flies there also exist numerous affinities.

I’m interested in his ideas about the affinities between dead flies and amber. We know fossilized insects are often found inside of it, and that amber exhibits an interesting  triboelectric effect. Could that be adjacent to what he’s referring to? Or is it something closer to Remedios Varo’s exercises in effecting extraordinary change through the arrangement of shoes and stuffed hummingbirds?

He goes on to explain that a good artist’s studio needs five of these araneariums, for a particular purpose. You must place a crystal bowl full of water so that it reflects the landscape, and arrange the five araneariums in a line between you and it. Then, looking at the reflection in the water through the webs in the hoops of the araneariums, you can see the land adorned with a “glorious rainbow aureole produced by the irisation of your araneariums[.]” Ideally, you’ll do this around age twenty, and avoid ever looking at that sight again. This sight with therefore move you so much, it will have the effect of “set[ting] traps when we are young for our future adult emotions[.]” In other words, create a kind of a snare for nostalgia, so we can be moved by a smell, a postcard, or something equally small and mundane.

I admit, I’m not much of a fan of Dalí as a personality — while his work was undoubtedly brilliant, he was also arguably the first “celebrity artist.” While there were plenty of other famous artists before him, he arguably treated self-promotion as just as much of an art form as painting. Was he really building spider-homes and caressing sea perch eyes? I can’t say. I do find some interesting parallels between his writing and Remedios Varo’s letters and journals, though, as well as other occult practices.

Maybe I should build a spider box or five. For now, I’ll content myself with Rigoberta’s company.

Rigoberta, the orb weaver.

Rigoberta, the orb weaver.

The Knight of Wands Returns

The Crow Tarot might give me a lot of Wands, Knights, and Aces, but now’s certainly a good time for ’em. (It also definitely means business when it comes to negative cards, so, to be perfectly honest, I was just happy not to have pulled the Ten of Swords again. Yikes.)

Anyhow, this week’s card is the Knight of Wands again, and man oh man am I glad to see him!

Last time, I mentioned that my S.O. and I had just finished a book, and were working on ways to turn it into something more than just a .doc file. Good news is, we’re making plenty of progress on that front! Not only are we fixing what needs to be fixed and polishing up what needs to be polished, we’re actually working on turning another manuscript we finished some time ago into a serial of some form. Though we’ve put a lot of thought into this process, neither of us have experience in publishing and none of my market research has been oriented in that direction. It’s definitely a fun learning experience, though! Besides, even if nothing comes of either of these things, I’m still happy just to have made them.

Speaking of which, I finished another painting this past weekend. Photographing them has been difficult because our overcast days have all been rainy — so, while the clouds do a great job at scattering the light and producing true-to-life color while keeping the glare down, the rain isn’t exactly easy to work around. Ah well. As the weather cools, hopefully we’ll have more cloudy days that aren’t accompanied by summer storms. I love collecting summer thunder water and the way the rain washes the pollen from the air, but I miss having dry surfaces!

The Knight of Wands stands as a reminder that enthusiasm and excitement are justified, but it’s a bad idea to get carried away with ourselves and jump headfirst into things we aren’t prepared for. Overall, it’s a very good omen. I’m going to be mindful to do my homework while my S.O. and I work toward creating the life we want to have. 💜

Three white candles in the middle of dried vines.

The Birthday Moon

Note: This post contains affiliate links to some things I thought were neat. These links allow me to earn a small finder’s fee, at no additional cost to you. All images belong to their respective copyright holders, and appear here with permission. Thank you for helping to support this site, as well as the artists and artisans who make cool stuff!

Do you know which moon phase you were born under?

It’s not something I’ve come across in a lot of astrological charts, but it was something I became curious about after looking for some information on the 12 houses. A quick search later, and it turns out it’s very much a thing: just like the position of the planets in your natal chart, the phase of the moon you were born under is said to have an impact on your life.

Naturally, it made me curious. As it turns out, I was born under a waning crescent moon — according to some sources, this makes me reflective, insightful, creative, psychic, and eccentric. According to others, it makes me nosy, annoying, and very difficult to deceive. (The truth, I imagine, lies somewhere in the middle!)

So, inspired by this bit of moon trivia, here are some lovely depictions of our nearest celestial neighbor:

First, these very pretty earrings from EcoMoonCreations. I love the simplicity of the tiny crescent moon rising over the trees — it’s woodsy, but in a very sleek, sophisticated way. The warm brass hooks and dangle look really lovely with the bright blue flash of labradorite, too. The moon symbolizes change, and labradorite is regarded as an excellent crystal companion in times of upheaval.

 

These hand-drawn, hand-cut silver rabbits can be made with or without the moon phases or turquoise drops, but I really love them with them. Moons and rabbits fit nicely together, too —  the spots on the moon are said to look like a rabbit in some cultures, giving rise to the Moon Hare from Asian folklore. I dig the overall design of these guys, and the stainless steel ear wires mean less of a chance of allergies for people like me. Awesome!

I love a nice, big-bellied mug. I have one that I’ve kept with me through many years and innumerable moves. Whenever I’m sick, it helps me feel better — it’s smooth-bottom roundness, filled with hot chamomile tea, is excellent for resting on a sore muscle or holding against a cramping stomach. This moon mug by CrafterEverAfter is way fancier than mine, though. I really enjoy the texture of the glaze — the mottled blues make it look almost like a galaxy, and the metallic gold moon and stars look really lovely against it.

How pretty is this silk bracelet? The moon phases are a subtle, but unmistakable, lunar embellishment that look really pretty with the ombre of the silk. This bracelet is available in a variety of colors, too — I’m particularly partial to the light blue-green and lilac of the “Enchanted” color scheme.

I love stained glass and suncatchers. I blame it on keeping so many plants — as sensitive as I am to the quality of light in my home, I’ve only gotten worse with all of the plants I’ve brought in. As a result, though, my apartment is always full of rainbows and colors. These stained glass crescent moons are very pretty, and I think they’d look great with my other suncatchers — I have my eye on a turquoise or pale purple one for as soon as I move.

moon6

These crescent moon earrings by NimbusNixie.

Man, I love textured metal. I think part of that is a consequence of keeping my hair so short — without the waist-length tresses I used to rock, it helps me look more “balanced” if my accessories have some eye-catching texture to them. These silver crescent moons are absolutely gorgeous — I love the irregular, river-tumbled look of the blue apatite drops (with those tiny spirals!), in particular. These are also just under three inches in length, too, and so perfect for those who enjoy accessories on the larger side.

Man, I love copper and purple together — it’s even something I’ve been playing with in my most recent series of paintings. (Which I really need to get on posting to my portfolio… Oops.) I really enjoy the cool purple amethyst contrasting with the warm, bright copper in these earrings — there’s just something about the color of unsealed, unpatina’ed copper that just speaks to me, you know? It helps that the tiny moon crescents are absolutely adorable, too.

So, what’s your moon phase?

The Ten of Cups

Hello! It’s been a month(ish) since I last posted. I’m sorry about that.

I do have a pretty good reason for dropping off of the face of the earth, though — sort of a combination of managing my health and that thing where you’re not supposed to tell people you’re doing a thing, because you’ll get the same emotional high from talking about it as you would from actually doing it and then end up never actually finishing it.

Anyway, in my time away I finished two paintings and one book, written collaboratively with my awesome and creative S.O. So that’s neat.

He and I have no idea how and if it will ever be published, but, thus far, beta readers have received it well. After getting the first round of feedback, we’ll have to seek out an editor, and then decide how we want to progress.

(It is a very long, drawn out, complicated process, and I am glad he has elected to handle most of it. I got to compile everything, make the initial edits, and format it all into a readable manuscript.)

Even if no publisher wants it and nothing comes of it, it’s certainly a good feeling to look at your writing and be able to say you’ve finished a full-length novel.

So, I wasn’t that surprised when I pulled the Ten of Cups this week.

Cups10

Ten of Cups from the Rider-Waite tarot, artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith.

The suit of Cups speaks of emotional fulfillment, and Tens are the completion of a cycle. They’re the ultimate culmination, So, it’s probably unsurprising that the Ten of Cups, then, speaks of joy, peace, and happiness. It’s contentment, emotional security, and an abundance of love. Though the artwork varies from deck to deck, it usually depicts a couple joyfully surveying a landscape replete with signs of luck and happiness — a rainbow, flowers, sunshine, rolling hills, a neat little house, you name it. It’s one of the most positive cards in the deck.

Working with my S.O. on what has ultimately been a labor of love for the both of us has been a trip. We started writing collaboratively as a way to roleplay — acting out little scenes between the two of us when distance, money, time, or health didn’t let us go on many adventures. This practice evolved into a setting with deep lore, eons of history, its own cosmology, and a tremendously varied cast of characters. To be honest, last we counted, we’d written enough for several novels and two or three anthologies of short stories, but this is the first we’ve felt confident enough to put through the process of turning it into something actual.

I feel like it’s a bit like having a baby, only nobody had to throw up for months, we still get to sleep afterward, and everyone’s perinea stayed intact. So probably not actually much like having a baby.

Hopefully, when all the hurly-burly’s done, I’ll be able to share it with you, too.

Ace of Wands

Few things feel as nice as a new beginning — that’s why I like the Aces so much.

They’re a fresh start, the energy of limitless potential. They’re a blank page, an unlocked door, and a new day. They’re the impetus to take the first step on a journey of a thousand miles.

The Ace of Wands card from the Rider-Waite deck.

From the Rider-Waite deck, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith.

I didn’t have anything in particular in mind when I drew this week’s card. I’m still working on things from last week, still looking forward to more medical tests. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have the encouragement that I’m going the right way.

It’s hard to interpret aces, sometimes. While they have the energy of all of that possibility, that’s all it is: possibility. Tarot never guarantees anything, aces doubly so. They’re the seed of an idea that needs effort to grow. They’re a promising opportunity, but only an opportunity.

I always seem to draw Wands when I have something creative going on. In this case, it’s the fact that holy crap I am completely sick of figuring out how to display things, I mean damn.

See, pre-stretched canvas is expensive, unwieldy, and difficult to store and ship. Canvas stretchers are cheaper, but still need space to store. Roll canvas is less expensive to buy, and easier to ship and store, but it’s also more difficult to work with and a pain to display. Want to frame it? Good luck — unless it’s smaller than 11×14, you’re probably going to have to figure out how to either stretch or mount it first. Hopefully there’s room to stretch it without losing any of the image! Good luck with mounting, too, because any permanent mount will decrease the piece’s lifespan (and probably its value),

I have a plan, I think, albeit a harebrained one. I’ve no idea if it’ll work. It’ll look really neat if it does, but will also involve ignoring a lot of what I’ve been taught and picking up a few new skills. It’ll be interesting to try, if nothing else, and the Ace of Wands indicate that it might not actually be a bad idea!

The Ace of Wands can also indicate an opportunity for personal growth. I’m hoping it’s pointing to my doctor’s appointments later this week — if I can get that resolved, if I can put those years of pain and frustration behind me, it’ll open up more opportunities than I can even begin to imagine.

Either way, I have a lot to look forward to.

 

Death of the (Tarot) Artist

There’s an idea in literary criticism called the “death of the author.”

It’s not a literal death — just a very stark metaphorical distancing. It pretty much means that, when it comes to interpreting a work, the creator’s context and intentions should be ignored in favor of an interpretation of the text as it stands. There are certainly some works that benefit greatly from the inclusion of the author’s context, but there are flaws inherent in binding a work — any work — so tightly to its creator.

The concept was described by a French literary critic and philosopher named Roland Gérard Barthes, who felt strongly that keeping the interpretation of a text tied to the author’s biases was limiting, as well as innately flawed. By contrast, ignoring the author’s intentions freed the text to be analyzed and criticized entirely on its own merits and message, while erasing the issue of putting words in the author’s mouth.

It’s a thing that crosses art forms. Visual arts resist interpretation a bit more strongly than the written word (either fortunately or unfortunately, there is no OED for imagery. Unlike language, pictures don’t need to be mutually intelligible). Freeing an image from the creator means the meaning of a piece is left entirely up to what it is able to communicate to a viewer. At most, the interpretation of a piece in the context of the creator is only one of many facets of it. To (mis)quote Barthes, “a[n image’s] unity lies not in its origins […] but in its destination.”

I remember learning to read tarot. It wasn’t a thing that interested me much, initially — I liked runes, geomancy, Ogham staves, things whose imagery was far simpler, but contained multitudes. (And seemed to involve a hell of a lot less rote learning.)

“Read it like a story,” my teacher urged.

But the trouble with learning to read tarot cards is that it feels like a lot to memorize. You have your deck, which, at first, seems impossibly thick. You have the little soft-cover booklet with its handful of keywords, or a short paragraph for each card. “The Three of Wands,” it helpfully tells you, “Progress, expansion, opportunity. Reversed: Delays, short-sightedness.” You might read this book, using the cards like flash cards to test yourself on the meanings. Finally, one day, you’ve achieved memorization.

 

2ofcups

And then you get a new deck.

I want to preface this by explaining that I’m not suggesting that the traditional interpretations of tarot cards be thrown out entirely. Part of tarot’s enduring appeal is the universality of it as a means of self-insight, as much as divination. Those meanings endure because… well, they’re meaningful to us.
But there’s something to be said for burning that little book.

My S.O. didn’t read tarot when he met me. If you ask him today, he still probably wouldn’t consider himself a tarot reader, per se. But, between the two of us, we still have six decks — three apiece. One has beautiful imagery surrounding Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte, another is based on the works of Klimt, two others are animal-themed, yet another is based on the works of Mucha, one is full of strange, surreal moon-faced figures, and yet another is a joke deck I helped create to raise money for charity. All of them are tarot decks, with their Rider-Waite-Smith-inspired tableaux — The Fool, The Chariot, and so forth. All of them have subtly different meanings for their cards.

Reading tarot intuitively is a means of getting information without memorization, and it works because of the death of the artist. When you set the book aside, you free yourself to receive only what the artwork is giving you. The creation of a tarot deck is a deliberate act — every image is chosen or created with care based on the feelings it evokes, the ideas it conjures up, or its place in the visual language of alchemy. Allowing the artist to “die” frees us from adhering to the interpretations handed to us.