Monday, September 27, 2010

It Really IS all about ME! Or, at least, Compost!

     Well, at least this blog is, or mostly. Heh!
     The weather is blessedly cool today. Last night was lovely sleeping weather. Cat opened the windows and turned off the AC and fans. I think, for myself, it got way too quiet! Lol! I kept waking up thinking the power must be off. So many months with the AC on! Nice foretaste of things to come. 
     Also good weather for working on our booth out at Sherwood Forest. We're mostly done with the floor and starting the wall infill soon.
     I've been spending my Saturdays the last couple of weeks in training for my new part-time job. I've taken a spot with Microbial Earth , it's a local company that sells online and at several Austin Farmer's Markets, notably Downtown, Barton Creek, Cedar Park, and others. They've been looking to expand to other markets, and I have several out my way, so that's the plan. We actually have at least one out here somewhere everyday, Taylor, Smithville, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, possibly even Giddings. All are within roughly thirty miles of me. I've been checking them out. We'll see how they work out. Today I'm hoping to ride my Shadow over to Taylor and check out that one.
     Microbial Earth has a line of products I can feel good about representing, in keeping with my ecology and Permaculture leanings. Check out their website link above. Mostly it has to do with compost and beyond. Their product line includes Bokashi Bins for indoor composting in apartments, condos, and other living areas with no room or inclination for an outdoor setup. They also have other options up to and including additives for improving traditional outdoor bins, as well as offering earthworms. Microbial Earth also has finished compost, or microbial castings, and nutrient teas which are the result of their own composting efforts. They rigidly control the contents of their composting, using only the best ingredients. It's really beautiful stuff!
Microbial Earth also offers foliar and farm spraying of many of their products. Check out the website for the whole picture. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Austin Permaculture Course

Austin area permies -- looking for a Permaculture Design Course? The Austin Permaculture Guild is now taking registrations for their 10-session fall Permaculture Design Course.

The class is mix of theory, design practice, and hands-on techniques. If you're into organic gardening and permaculture, there's almost certainly both something that will rock your socks and play to your strong points, as well as something that will kick your butt and grow your edges. I strongly recommend it. 

----- Thanks, Gardenatrix!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Collecting Tarot

   A friend asked me to talk a little about the decks we've collected and my favorites. As I mentioned before, I'd strongly suggest either following the links I have to Amazon on this page to look over the decks that may interest you, or else go to Aeclectic Tarot for a really diverse library of decks. Of course, since I might possibly earn a few pennies, I always appreciate someone using my Amazon links!
     A further disclaimer, as such. My lady love Cat Dancing has a much more in depth Tarot blog. She is the pro, after all. I'm learning from her, but I am only the grasshopper!
    When Cat and I first met, I had already collected twenty seven tarot decks, I love the art, and I could get them rather cheaply, some at Half Price Books, some at garage sales and Goodwill. When we started talking, this is one of the things that intrigued Cat about me. I loved the cards, but really knew nothing about them metaphysically, whereas she had been a student and reader of Tarot for some time already.
    As of today, combined, we have fifty decks of tarot and divination cards. This only includes two duplicate sets that Cat and I both already had. The list follows, in no particular order.
    The list:
Tarot of the Cat People
Robin Wood Tarot
Halloween Tarot
Thoth Tarot (2 sets)
Shapeshifter Tarot
Llewellyn Tarot
Pearls of Wisdom Tarot
Shadowscapes Tarot
Gilded Tarot
Arthurian Legend Tarot
Sensual Wicca Tarot
Witchy Tarot  (miniature deck)
White Cats Tarot (miniature deck)
Ancient Tarots of Bologna
Rock Art Tarot
Barbara Walker Tarot
Gendron Tarot
Native American Tarot
Witches Tarot
Rider - Waite - Smith Tarot
Don Clemente Tradicional  (Spanish deck, minors only)
Tarot of Dreams
Legacy of the Tarot
Tarot of the Imagination
Tapestry Tarot
Medieval Scapini Tarot
Silicon Valley Tarot
Medieval Enchantment Tarot
Da Vinci Enigma Tarot
Cosmic Tribe Tarot
Merlin Tarot
Quest Tarot
Lord of the Rings Tarot
Cosmic Tarot
Flash Card Tarot
Robert M. Place Vampire Tarot
Druid Craft Tarot
Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards
Sacred Path (Oracle type deck)
Brian Froud: Faerie Oracle
Goddess Oracle  (2 sets)
Animal Medicine  (oracle)
Mermaids and Dolphins Oracle
Caroline Myss Archetype Cards (oracle, somewhat)
Love Cards (oracle)
Buckland Domino Divination Deck (not tarot)
Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards (kind of tarot, kind of not)
Box of Dreams  (dream symbol cards)

   There they are! That doesn't include several sets of standard playing cards, also sometimes used for divination.
   Now for the favorites. Cat Dancing really likes the Gilded Tarot for most of her professional reading. So much so, that she has recently ordered a replacement deck of the Gilded. She has literally worn out her previous deck. Ciro Marchetti is the artist of the Gilded Tarot, as well as the Legacy, and Dream Tarots listed above. His artwork is incredible! For some of her personal work, Cat uses the Pearls of Wisdom Tarot, and has started working some with her new Shadowscapes deck. She often pulls out the Robin Wood deck and others to use in her classes. 
    For myself, my longest running favorite has been the Sensual Wicca Tarot. I like the images, and there is an "inner" story happening in the cards that is always intriguing. 
    I find myself often referring back to the basic Rider - Waite - Smith deck. This deck has been the basis for most other decks out there since it first came out in 1909. I love the art in all the other decks, but the illustrations in the RWS deck are literally in the "one picture equals a thousand words" category. If I am puzzled on a card in another deck, I will go to the RWS deck and it straightens me out!
Another "study help" deck that both of us often find ourselves looking at is the Flash Card Tarot, by Linda Nadeau. It has simple, but evocative illustrations, and the back of each card also has a concise description of what the card represents, a mnemonic, and questions often related to the card. Most tarot decks come with some sort of book, the Flash Card Tarot is its own book! One more deck I work with occasionally is the Cosmic Tarot. The art is visually interesting, but sometimes it gets in the way of study. As interesting as it is, some of the illustrations don't, to me, really work with the more traditional meanings of the cards. If, however, I'm working with a "storytelling" spread, it works very well sometimes. See my previous posts about using the Tarot in writing!
    As I've stated in other posts, my two newest decks have occupied much of my attention lately. The Vampire Tarot by Robert M. Place, and the Druid Craft Tarot by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm. It's too early to tell if I will use them actively in classes or elsewhere, or simply enjoy the art. 
    Oftentimes in various Tarot Classes or Workshops we will take several different decks. We'll work with one principally, and lay out the corresponding cards from other decks just to compare the various artist visions. Different scenes evoke different responses from people. As it is, a class of eight students will often have eight different types of decks. It is always interesting to compare. 
   The other "basic" tarot deck is the Thoth deck. Aleister Crowley conceived the deck, the pictures were painted by Lady Frieda Harris between 1938 and 1943.  The deck is similar, but a bit different from the RWS deck. There are the same number of cards, 78, but many have different names and a slightly different order. Many readers use the Thoth deck, I've had trouble getting used to it. The art work is wonderful, but a bit on the abstract side.
     The "non tarot" decks we have are mostly some sort of "oracle" deck. Oracle cards have the same concept of tarot, but don't usually have the same number of cards, nor are they usually divided up into suits.
    One of the more interesting of the "sort of not-tarot" decks is the Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards. I haven't spent as much time as I'd like to with this intriguing deck. The 25 cards are quartered diagonally with different colorful patterns, not unlike quilt blocks. As they are laid out, they match, or don't, the cards next to them, and that shapes the reading. If you want to do your divining differently, it might be worth a try.
   I can't say enough about taking Tarot Classes. We are blessed to have several really good teachers here in Austin, Texas. Being Teacher's Pet, I go to all of Cat Dancing's classes, of course. She has a regular one on the fourth Monday of each month. Suzanne McAnna is another teacher here both Cat and I learn from. She and Cat also teach classes and workshops together quite often.
    Books are also great. As I've mentioned in the past, some of the best books on Tarot to go to are written by Rachel Pollack, Corinne Kenner, and most especially Mary K. Greer. A.E. Waite's book "Pictorial Key to the Tarot" also has a permanent place in my library. I even have a PDF version available constantly. I admit the original copy seemed a bit hard to understand when I first attempted it as a teen, but now I find it very handy. (Of course, back then I wasn't as interested in the "reading" aspects of the cards.)
    See you in class!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Druid Craft Tarot

     Just grooving on my new tarot deck. (Not an uncommon event around here, see below, but this one is special.)
     A few weeks back I had a birthday party to celebrate my 60th. It's been a really long time since I had one. Thank you, all my lovely friends who showed up, I love you all! Anyway, from my buds Amanda and Mark I received a gift certificate to Ancient Mysteries, a wonderful metaphysical store in South Austin where my love, Cat Dancing, reads tarot. ( 4315 S. 1st Street, Suite B, Austin, Texas 78745)  I finally got around to using the certificate yesterday, Cat was reading and I was hanging out. It was tough. It's always hard to spend a gift certificate. I feel like it needs to be used for something very special. If I have twenty dollars I'll spend it in ten minutes, give me a twenty dollar gift certificate and it may take me an hour.
     For some time I've been drawn to a tarot deck named "The Druid Craft Tarot Deck" by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm. The images are, of course, very Celtic, very human, with lots of nature included. You can see some of the images at (Aeclectic Tarot is one of the best sites I've found to browse decks.) Amazon is always good as well, see the link below.
     So, I bought the deck and a few candles with my certificate. I couldn't wait to get it open and look at it. I've been collecting Tarot decks for quite a while. I really enjoy the art work. I was aware of divinatory uses of the cards, of course, but, until I met Cat, I really didn't pursue that avenue. It was all about the art. I had over twenty decks when we met. Now, together, we have over forty, and we add more. 
     The cards are really cool. Nice large size, lovely art. The pictures are somewhat based on the standard Waite-Smith cards. One card in particular, the Temperance card, was named "The Fferyllt", a term I wasn't familiar with, although the image is very alchemical. Today I looked it up on the computer.

[Welsh, alchemist, magician; cf. W, fferyll, Virgil]

A name often translated as fairy, although it derives from the Welsh name for the Roman poet Virgil (70–19 BC), often perceived as a magical figure in medieval Europe. Ceridwen consulted the books of the fferyllt in preparing her cauldron of inspiration from which Gwion drank.

     Always good to learn something new!