2020, A Spread

hello, 2020!

Happy 2020 everyone! I hope you all had a great 2019, despite the on-going environmental and political challenges. It’s hard to believe we’re now in the second decade of the 2000s. Twenty-twenty is one day old and full of magic and potential.

During my twenties I played in a role playing campaign using the Cyberpunk 2020 rules system. This is a world which blends technology, music, and the body and pushes it to the max. Think about what would happen if you combined the ability to connect your brain up to the internet with extreme cybernetic body modification using prosthetic limbs, nano robotics and smart drugs while corporations rule the world in nefarious ways and that’s sorta what Cyberpunk 2020 was. My hacker character jacked into the net to use her special skills to get information for the team, funds, and do other cool network battles.

Now that we’re in the same year as this game and I’m sad to say, it’s not at all like the rulebooks described. There’s no “jacking in” and no real cyber limb replacements or eye/ear systems. The only real connection to that world seems to be how corporations have ALL the power. In any case, I’m still waiting for my cyber hearing to come around. And the ability to plug into a web world where I can directly get my creative ideas out from mind to project fulfillment. Of course, none of this relates to tarot or the spread… or does it?  

My word for 2020 is clarity. Twenty-nineteen brought many big changes and shifts into my world. As the dust settles out, I want to focus more on what they mean and how to incorporate them gracefully into my life. Go deeper in boundary setting and all the studies I have. With the start of my next book draft in November, I also will want to begin edits and gaining clarity around the draft and what the submission package to Llewellyn will look like.

I’m also growing my podcast empire with the introduction of Cardslingers Coast to Coast. Hosting with me will be Melissa Cynova and Hilary Perry Haggerty, two of my favorite friends in the business. (We better be, as we have matching tattoos received due to this project!)

But that’s not what this post is all about.

Those of you who have read these posts over the past few years will know what this spread and page is. Every year I lay out a total of 36 cards from 3 different decks: two oracle and one tarot. This year I’m going small. I love pocket and mini decks and there are so many good ones out there. This year I chose Theresa Pridemore’s The Sovereign Oracle to set the Theme for each month. I’m using the mini Ceccoli Tarot by Nicoletta Ceccoli for the Hows. Finally, I’m using the fantastic Animantras deck by Kayti Walsh for the helper cards. I adore planning spreads. They’re flexible and help bring ritual and structure to meeting my goals over time.

I’m also refining and adding two new steps for 2020:

1. Smaller cards mean I can keep the whole monthly spread at my desk. This way I can refer to them every day and make sure I’m tracking the reading as laid out.

2. I’ll be posting each month’s spread on the first and introducing a wrap-up post at the end of each month. It was brought to my attention that while sharing this information is great, but… I really don’t share how it took prominence in my life. I’m hoping that this helps me and everyone reading my site.

This page is a place holder for this year’s full series of planning spreads. The image gives you an overview of all twelve monthly themes. I’ll follow it up with a table showing a quick overview of the Month’s name theme, how, and helper. I may or may not link review posts in the table. I’m undecided. Click on the name of each month to view what I wrote for each triplet.

Anyhoo, here’s 2020’s overall theme spread with all 12 months using The Sovereign Oracle. Look for patterns as you view this image and read the details. It may be a bit harder this year with the amount of words printed on the cards. They are color coded, so you might see patterns pop out. All these little insights help in understanding the readings and add to interpretation.

My themes for 2020. You can click the image to make it bigger. Cards from The Sovereign Oracle.
Theme: Thrive
How: King of Swords
Helper: Hummingbird
Theme: Resilience
How: 10 of Swords
Helper: Beaver

2019 Year in Review

So long 2019...

Once again we’re at the end of another year. What a mixed bag of days it’s been. While I didn’t select a word for 2019, I feel like I gained a wealth of happiness from my chosen family. I brought new friends into the fold, strengthened my relations with others, and had many wonderful moments to fill my bucket through this turbulent year.

One happy author at ALA Midwinter in Seattle, WA

I returned to Facebook this year. Keeping it mostly on a leash by visiting only the groups and the pages I administer.

Two things remained consistent through this year: doing a daily card draw and listening to my body. Still hitting the gym, still seeing my chiropractor and massage therapist. In December, I stepped up my gym game by going four times a week and at 6:30 in the morning. I’m still working on trying to keep the pace up, but it does give me a sense of structure to my days which I desperately crave.

With all this said, here’s a longer rundown of the good, the bad, and the accomplishments of 2019. Enjoy the commentary and corresponding images from my year.

The Good

My partner, kendra, came out as a trans woman this year. Her journey has been amazing to watch and the transformation she’s stepped into is breathtaking. She’s much more vibrant, happy, and light now that she can express her true nature. I’m so proud of my wife. We have a loving and supportive community of chosen friends which makes this all the better.

Visited Massachusettes for the first time. Stayed with my wonderful friend Carolyn Cushing. She drove me around the Valley and I got to visit Emily Dickenson’s grave and home. Her poetry had an early influence on my writing. We also did a one day tarot and writing retreat which was well received by the attendees.

Hilary, Melissa, and I show off our tattoos. Inspiration from our Cardslingers podcast logo.

Visited St. Louis, Missouri for the first time. Stayed with Melissa Cynova. Taught a class at the Cardslingers Thingy and got a new tarot tattoo of the moon on my arm. Between this and singing in the car for hours with Melissa and Hilary, I have many great memories.

The counseling I receive weekly does wonders for me. Both my physical and mental health are doing better.

Witnessed Mary K Greer divine inspiration from my ouija underwear at NWTS. No, it’s NOT what you think. Okay, maybe it is? Email me for details.

Being an avid gym rat has helped me grow stronger. Helped friends move into a house in June and it felt good to be able to do much lifting.

Read 48 books this year. Doubled from last year. This was accomplished by restructuring my daily schedule and habits to spend more time reading at night.

The Bad

I am no-longer associating with my adoptive family. When kendra came out during pride in June we got nothing but negative feedback and spite. It’s a hard thing to do, but I cannot deal with the abuse any longer. My sights are set for better and my boundaries are getting stronger as a result.

A shot of immy from August. She’s wearing a soft cone (aka the skirt) to prevent her from reaching the stitches.

Mid-way through the year our kitty, imoen, developed health issues. We took her to the hospital in August and discovered she had a tumor in her intestine. She went through surgery and was diagnosed with one (or two) cancers. She’s on steroids and chemo now, and we’re doing our best to make sure her final years are as comfortable, food plenty, and enjoyable.

It’s been hard to watch her go through this, as cancer has taken so many others from my life (people and pets). She’s a fighter and I am proud at how well this kitty is doing.

The Accomplishments

Celebrating the release of my first book Tarot Inspired life with a cupcake and candle.
Happy book birthday TIL (January 2019!)

Started off the new year with my book, Tarot Inspired Life, being released to the public. I’ve gotten many wonderful reviews from friends and strangers and it’s amazing to see just how well everyone has understood the intention of the book. Huzzah!

I kept up with the amount of publicity for the book and my reading practice by doing events once every month. This is something which helped push me more into the public, and has been a good guideline for keeping my levels of stress down. I plan on doing my best to continue this idea throughout 2020.

Had my first book signing at the ALA Seattle conference. It was so much fun and all the books “sold” out quickly. I was also able to snag a few freebies, including the anticipated ARC of Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers (it’s sooo good).

Fun from PantheaCon 2019

I attended five conferences this year: PantheaCon 2019, NorthWest Tarot Symposium, Readers Studio, Beyond the Gates, and the Cardslingers Thingy. I taught classes at PantheaCon, NWTS, Beyond the Gates, and at the Cardslingers Thingy. Hung out with my peeps at Readers Studio.

NWTS 2019. Friends, presentations, and love.

In addition to having my book published, I also wrote the booklets for the Millennium Thoth, the Thelema Lenormand, and the Tarot Z tarot deck projects from Lo Scrabeo. Tarot Z was one of my favorite projects because it blended my love of tarot and zombies together. There are two editions, a regular edition and a limited edition box which reminds me of The Walking Dead. All three decks are out and you can purchase them at your local store or amazon.

A collage of all the instructors from the classes I took. This includes Divination Day, Readers Studio proper, a study group, and an incubator.

I’m still podcasting with Rose Red under the Tarot Visions umbrella. We left our partner group in June and transferred services over to Spreaker. We hired kendra to make new music for our intro and outro. We also hosted our first two giveaways for tarot books and decks. We are still recording strong and have a lot coming in for 2020.

I did it again! A triumphant return.

November saw me return to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is a solo-writing competition which helps writers all over the world work on creating a first (aka shitty) first draft of a novel in 30 days. I participated in this project for over ten years and have many drafts. Tarot Inspired Life started life in this format. I returned this year because I wanted to write the first draft of my next tarot book. I’m not going to release any deets yet. However, I can say that I “won” with 50,222 words and I am still adding more words to reach a final total of 60,000.

2020 brings a new podcast featuring my voice. Melissa Cynova, Hilary Parry Haggerty and I started recording episodes for what will become Cardslingers Coast to Coast. After many tech issues and resolutions, the ‘cast comes at you on January 10, 2020. It’s a different tarot podcast than what Rose and I are doing, and I hope everyone enjoys it.

This about wraps 2019 up. With a few hours to spare. We’re having friends over tonight and later, I head out to read tarot at a local party. I look forward to 2020 and what the new year and decade bring into my life. 

How’d your year go? What did you do, where did you go, who did you see? What are you looking forward to in 2020? Let me know!


Review: The Alchemical Visions Tarot

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this deck from Weiser Books in exchange for a review. Bonus for all US mailing address readers, Weiser gave me a special 33% off discount code JYMI which you can use on the whole site! This link expires 01/JAN/2020.

The Alchemical Visions Tarot
By Arthur Taussig, PhD.
Published by: Weiser Books
ISBN: 978-1-57863-641-9

The Magician from The Alchemical Visions Tarot
The Magician from The Alchemical Visions Tarot

When people think of tarot decks, they think of hand-sized cards with pictures on them which are used to divine fortunes or give advice. Not all decks are created equal and The Alchemical Visions Tarot is unique in its design. This is an oversized deck. At 5” by 7” it’s one of the bigger sized decks I’ve held. Which leaves me to the notion its creator, Arthur Taussig, PhD., crafted this deck for a specific purpose of reflection, self discovery, and deep dives into the study of alchemy and other occult sciences.  

This deck is 10 years in the making. Taussig spent a lot of time studying alchemy, Kabbalah, archetypes, and psychology to bring this deck to life. He even did his own deep dive into tarot studies with the Marseilles tarot and the Rider Waite Smith deck where he would spend many days in close comparison studies with each system. All of this study led him to carefully craft The Alchemical Visions Tarot. His goal for this deck was “to respect the past, summon the mystical powers within the cards, and yet be a deck that would visually speak to the modern Traveler on the path of individuation.” And I think he hit his mark.

The Six of Wands from The Alchemical Visions Tarot
The Six of Wands from The Alchemical Visions Tarot

In a recent discussion on Tarot Visions, Rose Red, Benebell Wen, and myself spoke about the idea of an everyday tarot versus the occult tarot. For me, The Alchemical Visions Tarot is a perfect example of an occult deck. The oversized cards feature a unique combination of intricate imagery: black and white backgrounds which  brightly colored figures are placed in the forefront. This combination of styles lends itself well to a deep-dive study of the occult practices it contains, and the idea of using a deck to understand one’s self better. An occult deck has thicker card stock, is oversized so it can stand up or be placed somewhere for reflection and study, and makes the reader think about connections relating back to themselves and various metaphysical studies. While the every day reading deck is smaller, fit in the hand, has card stock which is easy to shuffle, and can be interpreted intuitively. 

The Knight of Coins from The Alchemical Visions Tarot
The Knight of Coins from The Alchemical Visions Tarot

I am not sure I could read with this deck for every day use. And that is fine with me. For this deck, like Wen’s Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, and many other occult tarot decks which come before them, is a great study deck. One you will want to savor the imagery slowly and you uncover the intricate details and symbolism contained within each card. This is a deck which will change your outlook of tarot and the world you live in once you work with it. The deck itself comes with a 182 page companion book. The book contains a short introduction to Taussig’s work, and the practices he taught himself to create the deck. Then each card is explained in detail with meanings and occult lore. The book does not include spreads, which also lends in to the idea that this tarot is meant for self-study.

The box is also a nice touch. It is made of a sturdy, thick cardboard and closes with magnets. Weiser Books crafted a lovely presentation with both cardstock and box, and The Alchemical Visions Tarot will last a long time. The printing for the book is not set in a standard book size. The typeset is small, so it may be harder to read. I would love to know if Weiser offers a pdf version of the book for the vision impaired.

Bottom Line: If you want to go deep in a deck study then The Alchemical Visions Tarot is perfect for you. This deck has a wonderful archaic feel in that it reflects medieval alchemical paintings, combined with modern day lore. The oversized cards allow for a better view of all the minute details.


December 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Shadow
How: 3 of Wands
Helper: 28. Freedom

December 2019 Planning Spread.
Me wearing the Lilith mask

I love this Shadow card. When I first saw it, I couldn’t help but compare the image of the person with a mask on to the mask of the goddess Lilith I wore back in 2012 for a Fall Equinox Festival ritual. If you compare the card in the spread above to the image here, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Uncanny isn’t it? Anyway, Shadow is the theme for this month. December is traditionally a cold month where not much goes on. You can find me writing or reading, usually by a warm fireplace. The theme of shadow is to look at my shadow sides and do some work around it. Time to shine the light in the remaining dark corners of my psyche, and see what comes up. What more about myself can I learn during the cold, sleep month?

The 3 of Wands describes how I’ll set about doing this. I usually think of this card as the future visioning card. It gives me the ability to look at where I’ve come, what I want to do, and how to see the path between the two dots. Illuminating the dark spots and shadows is very beneficial for visioning work because it gives us new ways of seeing where we may hold ourselves back. So, I need to be more objective in my thinking and understand how the resistances or shadow sides both help and hinder where I want to go. The image shows a triangle, setting boundaries necessary to create containers for the future. The triangular shape also echoes the mask in the Shadow card, too.

The final mudra is Freedom. This helper assists in being open and brings balance to the body. Freedom is a goal for examining our shadow sides. We want to be free of old beliefs and patterns that no longer support us. Being able to thank these darker sides and let them go, gives us space to bring in new helpers and new patterns. I love that this mudra creates the space and balance for doing shadow work. It’ll be a great helper to use when the resistance arises. I’ll also incorporate this mudra into my morning and evening rituals.

And this closes the 2019 series on using tarot (and oracle cards) to help guide you through a year’s worth of planning and going deeper in your life. I have grown to enjoy the three card monthly spreads and already know which three decks I’ll be using for 2020! Wow… it’s hard to believe 2020 is only a month away.

Do you have any cool year-long planning spreads or ideas? Let me know, I’m always on the lookout for new spreads to try.


November 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Authenticity
How: 3 of Cups
Helper: 25. Brilliance

November 2019 Planning Spread.

Coming out of the deep work I’ve done over the last few months comes Authenticity. This theme asks me to consider all the parts that make up me, and really live all of them to their fullest powers. Accept who I am, and what I offer, and bring this into the forefront of everything. Ethony’s booklet says, “Accepting yourself is one of the greatest, most freeing gifts you can have in life. Allow yourself to be who you really are and live your life to the fullest.” Living a true authentic life is hard to do. It means you go about your business without giving thought to what most others may think. It means acting in accordance to the morals and guides you create for yourself. I love that this theme comes out of a deeper examination of some of the building blocks of what creates an authentic life.

The 3 of Cups teaches me how I can live an authentic life this month. I look at this card as a celebration of all that I love and cherish. Being able to feel a deep passion for people and ideas helps me live authentically because it supports the choices in life. I can honor the abundance in my life and know the bonds I have with everything help guide me. Not everything has to mean something, sometimes it’s good to celebrate life as it is.

Brilliance is the mudra helper. It assists in radiance and focus. If living an authentic life means to share and shine your gifts with others and the world, then this mudra can help that light I carry shine. I’ll incorporate this mudra into my morning and evening rituals.