HELLO WITCHES Nº47



This past week was strange. With the coming of Mercury Retrograde, anything to do with communication has been fuzzy. Phones have been acting up, online transactions have been acting a little funky and things around the house have been pretty much the same. Stable. I got a package in the mail on Monday, so the Ace of Coins was right on the dot about that. The rest of the week was smooth and fun. I did feel pretty worn out from work by Friday, though. It's hard to keep a balanced schedule when you're your own boss! That's what day planners and daily lists are for, though.


An interesting week unfolds before us. I see it as a salad of happenings in the house, with personal relationships and even touching upon romance. Dissecting this into a full reading will be interesting to compare to the notes when the week is past. This week we have an abundance of Cups and Coins, pointing to personal connections and work. I see also a couple of court cards and some peaceful Major Arcana cards. There isn't anything conflicting here, quite the contrary. Everything happens in harmonious correlation. The High Priestess enjoys detached solitude while out there in the world, everyone else toils and works on their own goals. There is comfort offered to those who deserve it and luxury presented. The Knight of Cups offers the goblet to the Queen of Coins while she reflects on matters of the house. In another room, the Magician works to conjure reality into what he would like it to be. He is dreaming up mutual help that he will be engaged in later. Everything is perfect, everything works in unison to achieve our higher purpose.

Let's jump into it without further ado.

WEEKLY PROJECTIONS:


Monday. High Priestess. We get off on a contemplative mood, one of domination of senses and of watching rather than participating. I know that this is in fact not a card for action and adventure, it's quite the opposite. Her eyes are closed and she is in a moment of contemplation where she oscillates between the good and the bad in her. She accepts and she knows, and she keeps her secrets while she contemplates her existence. Welcome to the duality of existing, ladies and gentlemen!

Tuesday. Eight of Cups. Once we reach our conclusion, it's time to walk away from the things we learned. Put them back in the box, write them in the diary and move on. There is a life to live and there are things to do and see. The Moon in this card is strange, it glows ominously over the lone traveler as he goes up the mountain. He has more to worry about than the divine messages coming down from the conduit of the moon.

Wednesday. Empress. A house-warming day, a day to bask in the lavish light of the sun. Looks like a day of high maintenance or of housework, just look at how tall the wild grass has grown behind her. She leans on the staff to think as she enjoys the beauty of her surroundings. They say this is the card of the Mother, but I attribute it to a nice day. Enjoying your surroundings can be therapeutic if you can take time off to think or brainstorm.


Thursday. Ace of Cups. The cup overflows and spills, but it's actually not looking full. It's the leak of emotions. After bubbling for a while, they will come to the surface. A catholic symbol presents itself here with the dove, the bread and the wine. It's a message of love and forgiveness this time around. As it is offered, we must drink and give thanks for having love offered to us in the first place. I see petals floating in the air that look like hearts. Feelings pour into the ocean of the subconscious, which is flat and still save for the spots into which the feelings flow.

Friday. Nine of Coins. I love this rendition of the Nine of Coins. She's dressed in purple, delighting in her own garden of pleasure. Her hard work has paid off, she gets to enjoy her wildest dreams made manifest. She has everything she needs there and she doesn't feel like she needs anything more; just to be happy delighting in the fruit of her efforts. I strongly feel the lesson in this card is to enjoy the blessings you work for and to be satisfied. It means not coveting someone else's good fortune and instead making your own plans bloom. This is a personal principle I have always lived by, and always will.

Saturday. Knight of Cups. I have mixed views on this guy. He rides a beautiful white horse and he extends his hand to offer his sentiments in a golden goblet. When people give us their love, they give us the best of themselves. They inject the gift with dreams, illusions and hopes that things will go their way. There is nothing sweeter than receiving the honor of being loved and loving in return. It's an honor and a privilege to do so.


Sunday. Queen of Coins. I love this card because of how safe it feels. It's my Mom in a radiant gown, holding a large pentacle and sitting under a floating garden. To me, she is the staple of an exemplary person. I look up to her immensely with admiration and with desire to echo her footsteps in my own personal way. It's a nice day to spend with her, too.

What to avoid. The Magician. Here we go again, in the same position and everything! I see this card as to what to avoid, and I'm honestly stumped. The Magician is a smart man, a wonderful card for a prodigous person and for skill. It makes ideas into reality, but shows us a very ugly face when we turn to the shadow aspect of him.

What to strive for. Six of Coins. Asking for help, finding a balance and not going overboard with expenses. It's okay to get a little when you give a little, but don't give just to receive. That's a lesson that is manifesting really early on in the week and that I think is important to stay grounded and humble. It's important to work things out with other people and to find joy in being there for others as we would like others to be there for us. An exchange of energy results.

I am looking forward to this week and to get some decent sleep. Lately I have a ton of ideas right when my eyes start to close. Wishing you all a safe and happy week!
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NUSANTARA TAROT



Here we are! At long last, a comprehensive review of the beautiful Tarot Nusantara. This is perhaps one of the hardest popular tarot decks to attain at this time, and one that took me nearly three years to find. Getting anything out of Indonesia is a great head ache, and from the looks of it the word on the street is that the tarot deck is now out of print. I have searched for this tarot deck through collectors forums and just about any corner that you can string a message with the subject of "Tarot" on it.  I spent many nights writing to my favorite sellers and other members of the community that had acquired their copy. Nobody seemed to have any leads, so I wrote to Gagas Media, Transbonja, Hisyam Fachri himself, and numerous stores across Indonesia. All they told me is that the tarot deck was not available and that they were sorry.

I was annoyed after the first year because I didn't understand how much harder it was to find a recent deck than my authentic 1983 Keishobou Tarot from Japan. The Keishobou Tarot only took me an Ebay search to find, and I bought it after six months of debating whether or not it was worth it. It's actually one of the first tarot decks ever published in Japan. Back to the Nusantara Tarot — not even the legendary Chialing could find it! The search started to stall and lag when I ran out of leads, but every now and then I would still contact somebody about it or search for it on Ebay. Recently I came to find one had been sold relatively cheap on Ebay while I was celebrating my birthday in Japan, so I was mortified to find that I had lost my chance to get an inexpensively priced copy without the fuss of searching.




Finally, I found myself two original copies. I won't go into many details, but I can say that I found one from my seller and paid an exorbitant pretty penny for it, and the other from a professional tarot reader native from Indonesia. One will be used and worn with pride, the other is to be kept pristine for study and admiration. Who knows? I may come to use them both, that's how much I love this tarot deck.

The Nusantara Tarot doesn't read to me as the RWS usually does. Rather, you are made to contemplate the string of cards. I can't say that they interact with one another, but the scenes are quite lively. It isn't very difficult to get pulled into the card to interact with the players contained therein. I can see that Devil dancing over his chained prisoners, the dogs howling at the Moon as it shines down with madness of the night, the Magician prepares for his ritual and the Hanged Man isn't going anywhere anytime soon. You can see that everyone is immersed in what they are doing, and they don some very interesting attires to add to our imagination. There is no dialogue amongst them, they are too centered in their world to really preoccupy themselves with anybody looking into what they are doing. This helps preserve the magic for me because it makes the characters stand out with no doubt of their purpose and their responsibilities as divine staples of archetypes. There is life and magic contained in this deck, and I love it.

The illustrations themselves are quite whimsical and charming. Illustrations are graphic and flat with printed motifs to add a little texture. There are also smudges that make the images look old; to me they were quite unnecessary, but they look just fine. I think that the brighter, the better with cards like these. There was really no need to push for the tarot being aged and worn, but its part of their charm. The figures are slender and lanky, and they come to life as they depict the scenes we are familiar with while adding a new twist. I love the Tower and Devil cards, which are usually the cards that people tend to shy away from because they don't understand tarot. Here, even the darkest cards have a speck of whimsy and a silver lining that you're not likely to miss when you are reading with them. The cards are so sweet that we are more receptive to what we have to hear, whether we agree with it or not. It will tell us what we need to hear through a soothing voice, but still show us the more erratic moments in life. I can say that it's quite tasteful even though it's so colorful.

The cards are poker size and very thin, but also very easy to shuffle and fan out, which I really like. They fit comfortably in my hands and in a tin I have found to house them in. Hopefully this will help in keeping my copy pristine; I wouldn't like to leave it up to chance. My only complaint is that up front the laminate makes the image hard to read. There are so many diminutive details that can get lost if your eyesight is not so good or if the lighting is not ideal. If the light hits them directly, they will look glazed. In dimmer light, you will be able to appreciate the details a little better. If you have the replica, neither the stock or the illustrations are an issue. The replica is much larger, but I think the texture in the backs is quite important, and that is lost in the replica.



The cards are in bahasa Indonesian, as is the book that they come with, titled The Real Art of Tarot. I am sure that Hisyam Fachri included in it his psychological reason behind the changes to the standard RWS meanings, but I honestly don't feel like I am missing out on a big secret. The importance of tarot is the bond that we make with it, not so much what was originally meant for it. I really love the fact that they were made by someone who loves tarot but is not a participating member in the American market for tarot. It brings fresh ideas to the table, not just recycled and regurgitated fragments from books that are passed on through distribution for popularity, and not so much the content. It's a rare tool for me to work with that has been encapsulated and protected by the culture it was forged in; to me that's quite invaluable. I feel as though I am an outsider getting to see and experience their best kept secrets, and I say that with utmost respect for Indonesia. The cards themselves are loaded with spirituality without being of an obvious religious doctrine, which is what probably makes Tarot Nusantara so popular for those of us who are not in Indonesia.

I'll let you in on a little secret: This was meant to be a tarot deck for beginners, to get them familiarized and comfortable with the teachings of the tarot. Somehow, it ended up being a jewel for collectors and professional readers. Most everyone on AT has it on their wishlist, and multiple boards and messages are exchanged about it each year. Once we own a copy, we seek another because the deck absolutely demands for backup. We don't need a backup because of wear and tear, — even though I'll tell you right now they are quite delicate, — it's just because if you lose your copy, finding another will be close to impossible. Take it from me, I have been searching for mine for over two years.



INTERVIEW WITH THE TAROT NUSANTARA:

♡ What is your most important characteristic?
Knight of Coins. A gift from a faraway place that brings with it stability and satisfaction. He looks like hes been around, but his garments are quite beautiful still. It must be the wealth collected over his extensive travels. His hair falls in long ringlets, he's quite beautiful. This crowns the last out of print deck desired for my collection and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction because of it.

♡ What are your strengths as a tarot deck?
Seven of Wands. Persistence in the face of opposition. Just when you think the battle is won, something always pops up to try and rob us of our peace of mind, but this deck is persistent also in the struggle for mental peace. It could in turn present us with things that are challenging to accept because they present mental hurdles for us to overcome. We should be on our feet always if we expect to be able to deal with the trials coming our way anyway.

♡ What are your limits?
Two of Swords. This seems to be a favorite, we saw it in last week's Tarot of Prague entry. The Two of Swords states that in refusing to have an open mind to messages, we block out our intuition. If we are not receptive, we won't get the point of why we are asking the tarot for aid in the first place. If we're not ready for the message, we won't be able to gain anything from it.


♡ What are you here to teach me?
Seven of Cups. How to make choices based off what is best for me rather than what I think is best for me. All options are attractive when they are presented, but they aren't always what we need in order to be able to make something come out of the choice. We will be able to examine and discern to clear confusion, whether mental or in this case emotional.

♡ How can I best learn to collaborate with you?
Four of Coins. Hanging onto what I've got. It feels like it's suggesting to accept the foundation laid out before the deck came and to use it instead as another part of the puzzle that was already there. Basically suggests that it will help keep things in the same balance they were in when I first started reading with the RWS tarot deck.

♡ What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
The Magician. Magical alchemy once more. This one states that the relationship brings with it divine inspiration that we can manifest into a reality. When we accept the inspiration that comes towards us, we become open to a divine plan of action. We learn and we grow, and we become masters of what we do. Mastery over the tools is suggested here, and with that comes mastery over the ritual as well.



♡ Which card do you want to show off?
Hanged Man. See how he hangs, suspended and enlightened. He reaches the realization of purpose simply by turning his gaze on the same matters in a new way. The world looks different from another angle, and in being able to appreciate that angle, we gain new perspectives and solutions. It's saying that even if the terrain is familiar, there are new additions sprinkled in that will make it nice to work with.

♡ How do you see me?
The Sun. The outward expression of joy and being very centered in the present. It is a card of sweet vanity and merry laughter ringing through the ears of those present. I have been after this tarot deck for a very, very long time... so naturally, working with it does make me very happy. It is the newest addition to my collection, a fragile one but one that brings me much joy.

♡ How do you see yourself?
The Moon. The shady opposite to the sun and my absolute favorite signifier. When it popped up, it made me smile. The moon looms over the dog and the jackal with its third eye open and the traditional drops of blood raining down upon them. The crayfish is a lobster this time around and it emerges from the waters of the sleeping subconscious to find itself in a peculiar scene. The dogs are dancing and there is a lot of swirling movement around. It's quite lovely and speaks of pure intuition without harness.


I will have a limited number of replica copies for sale in case anybody is interested in them. They came straight from Indonesia. Please contact me. All copies are now spoken for.

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TAROT OF PRAGUE




Have you ever wanted to visit a magic city? There are a bunch of them in the world, but some rank above others. To me, Tokyo has always been the most magical city in existence until I was introduced to Prague by this tarot, which was made by the wonderful Baba Studio. Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov have made some of my favorite tarot decks to look at; everything is quality over quantitiy. I know recent times have been a little hard for them, but they make excellent products that enchant their clients. I am one of them! The Tarot of Prague came into my collection off Lisa Friedrbord Lloyd, a wonderful professional tarot reader and blogger whose writing I have come to resonate with. She's got quite a handful with Tarotize, Love Dove Tarot and Seer Pathways. I ran into her listing on Ebay by the time I was ready to attain a copy, and I was delighted with mine upon its arrival.

I have read through the book and also some of the stories published on the internet about Prague. The tarot deck has built its reputation also through notoriety and magical events happening throughout the city and with those who have used it. Examples of this include stories of chambers you may not have noticed before that suddenly seem to be there, or little alleyways you're looking for that you could have sworn were there last night. You can find the hanging places for alchemists and magicians, or perhaps the periodical delight of ghost musicians playing past their times. I don't want to spoil all the magic for you, but here is a little taste of the stories contained inside the book:

SIGNATESIGNATEMEREMETENGISETANGIS
ROMATIBISUBITOMOTIBUSIBITAMOR

The translation of this would be "Revel yourself in the form os a sign (in the sky) in vain you reach for me, I am your desire. Rome, through movement (stars) suddenly love comes to you." Its purpose? Well, apparently it was put there to fool any demons that might want to harm the tower. It is believed that these demons, faced with a word puzzle, would read it again and again, unable to figure it out, until they became exhausted and went away. Who knows, perhaps it worked? — The Tarot of Prague. Karen Mahony. p. 22-23.
The inscription is also in the back of the cards, which means the deck itself can be used in ritual of high or ceremonial magic. It's a practical choice for those who work with charms and/or spells, and those who believe in magic as an alternate lifestyle. The story I chose is not the most impressive of the ones available inside the book, but I trust it will pique your curiosity to find out more about Prague and this wonderful tarot deck. Imagine being able to walk through the city with these cards in hand or in your bag and coming face to face with the characters contained in the cards. It would be fun to follow the signs and see where they take us to; no doubt a wonderful adventure. Since we can't just hop in a car and drive over, I decided to pull up a Baba Studio creation: All That We See or Seem is But a Dream Within a Dream.




 I was drawn to the First Edition Tarot of Prague because of its storybook binder cover, closed by golden ribbons. I have #1361 in my possession, but would gladly get a backup for my collection if another copy were to come up for a reasonable price. The tarot bags that were made for this deck are almost impossible to find online, but I have good faith that one of the Moon will pop up at some point. There has not yet been a tarot conquest I have not made, so keeping fingers crossed!

I really like the card stock of this deck because it is durable and the color printing is vibrant. It may not be easy to shuffle because the card stock is stiff and you do need to keep in mind that this is an out of print deck, but I find that I can work with it nicely if I employ an overhand shuffle. It is kept in a wonderful binder with the little white booklet attached to it, but I have not yet read it for fear of not being able to get the bows just right afterwards. I love keeping my cards either pristine or well worn, and this deck begs to be kept pristine so that it will last through years of loving use. I guess that even though I am curious about the little white booklet, I find salvation in the large book that it comes with. The stories it narrates and the connections drawn from the city to the cards are really thoughtful and add a little spice to this deck.

I recommend this deck to seasoned readers, people that are already comfortable with the definitions and traditions of reading with cards. If you desire to use these in rituals, they're good for that too. It is easy to find metaphysical principles hinted in the symbols of the cards, and manifesting through a reading as an underlying subject. This can be limited to a deck that you use to read for more mundane situations and sitters, but will really sing to you if you are open to its darker allusions. It draws connections from the divine to the mundane and the Hellish. Where you take it is in the end up to you.



INTERVIEW WITH THE TAROT OF PRAGUE:


What is your most important characteristic?
Two of Cups. We got off on the right foot. This card suggests that the Tarot of Prague provides alchemy of two into one. The soul and the mundane blend harmoniously to coexist, as do the landmarks of the city in collaged unison to spring into life the principles of the tarot. Lastly, to bring together the magical features of the city of Bohemia with a tarot reader that perhaps lives far, far away. I am sure that there are many lucky tarot readers – with the creator of this tarot deck amongst them – that live in Prague and are able to refer back to the scenes they see day to day in their readings. I can’t imagine what it is like to live there and refer to the ancient stories to aid me in my relationship with the cards, but I know that somewhere out there, someone enjoys that luxury. I delight in a very kind of Prague – the one nestled in my imagination. It grows with secret passages that may or may not exist and fuels my imagination to run wild with possibility.

What are your strengths as a tarot deck?
Six of Cups. Melancholy of olden times and meeting with a friend once lost. In this card we see children drinking in plain sight of day, but I think those children are actually adult people remembering olden times. If we mix it in with what this deck does, then we take into account the stories that the city has witnessed. In personifying the city through a tarot deck, we learn from the alchemists and villagers of old. We also learn from current people from Prague going through current things. It is the gift of knowledge through aging, and feeling as if what we are doing is in fact catching up with an old friend. How delightful it is to get up to speed on what has been going on in the past years!

What are your limits?
Two of Swords. Whoa! What a mean bite. To a closed off mind, no words can resonate. I feel as if the texture and shape of the swords in an X means that resonance will not continue if we are not ready to see what we need to see in the situation. The lion at the bottom is crowned, but looks possibly frustrated or scared. It is the lion of Bohemia reminding us that those that wish not to see will in fact not get it, no matter how many times we repeat ourselves. Behind the blindfolded lady lies the city and what seems to be the bridge. It feels like the secrets are in the city, but as outsiders, we may not directly participate in the magical ceremonies carried out therein. That’s okay, at least we can enjoy the journey through the cards.


What are you here to teach me?
The Devil. Well, it’s there in black and white. The horned devil towers over a stage of puppets carrying out his plans. It lacks color and life as a naughty allusion to what our lives turn into when we don’t question why things run as they do. This card says that in conforming to the limits of society, we turn to lifeless puppets. To me, this is a creepy connection to make. I almost feel as if it is suggesting total rebellion; to take off the chains and to see things in color. In color could be much more fun, but also dangerous according to the suggestions of this deck. I should not have been surprised to read this, and I find it quite surprising how subtle yet persistent the message is. I’m dancing around this one in failed attempts to word it correctly, but then that’s the game it’s trying to present. Bravo!

How can I best learn to collaborate with you?
Six of Wands. Moving forward full force with little to no regard for traditions and perspectives of the past. This is saying to just go for it and to celebrate. The statuesque angels send their blessings and their protection as the soldier rides forth in victory on a horse statue. The vehicle is not really there or alive, but it suggests that the rider can still go where he needs to. It suggests magic and bringing inanimate figures to life. They look so real though that you have to wonder whether or not they already are. This interview has been quirky and entertaining, and honestly a little scary.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
The Fool. There is no outcome because it’s just the beginning. That sounds like something a revered Magus would say. There are principles of an afterlife suggested, even though it is quite clear to me I can’t take physical belongings with me to the afterlife. It suggests that this is just the first step or stage to a really long journey to enlightenment, and that there never really will be an end.


Which card do you want to show off?
Ten of Swords. Lack of life or an attack on that which feels as if it has no life. Over the sleeping woman we find an array of menacing swords and the towers eerily looming overhead. It is a confirmation that this deck can be scary if we let it, and it has a rather sinister personality to it once we get to know it more deeply. It is a confirmation that even in an inanimate object we can find life is etched or divined into it. We either keep on climbing or find ourselves warded off. I choose to keep climbing.

How do you see me?
Page of Swords. Where other decks see me as Queen of Swords or Wands, this one sees me as a page. Youth and smarts aid the Page of Swords, also the awareness of a sharp mind. Writing is a great way to make confusing thoughts into clarity. See how this androgynous page looms over the rooftops of the city, sword in hand and ready to take on any areal challenges. The city seems like a dreamscape, and fades towards the horizon. There is only so much reality manifested near us, but a world yet to be discovered if we step out of our tiny box. Into the ether, the quest for knowledge commences.

How do you see yourself?
Five of Swords. For the first time ever we have two cards under this category. The first one is rather aggressive, the deck presents itself as a green monster concocted from our dreams, nightmares and fears. He seems very real as he wards people off in his defense. What he guards is a mystery and a treasure of old, judging by the arch over them all. The arch compliments the World card up next.


The World. What a glorious sight indeed, here we have an angel in between worlds inviting us to have a closer look into transcendence. It is reminding us that as soon as we are ready, we may set forth into another layer of consciousness and higher learning. It waits for us at the threshold into another world, and once we are ready we will venture through the gate into an unknown world.

I guess that’s the secret that this deck guards. The secrets of preparation for the next life while we deal with the happenings of the life that comes later. If we seek it for the wrong purpose, we turn back empty handed. If we accept the proposal it gives us, we can move forward. The treasure of knowledge comes after getting the riddles right and mixing our own alchemical formula to get where we want to go.



I don't think I have been faced with a deck that opens up to me with such an enticing and scary proposal. To onlookers, this will be a farse and a dramatization to build a name for a deck that is already out of print. To me, it's rather scary to have developed this connection with a tarot deck that has been sitting in my collection for approximately four to five months. I find in the Tarot of Prague a world of magic as carried through depictions of a magical city that lies far beyond my reach. This isn't a marketing ploy, this is tarot.

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