Colorado Thunder

A galdralag-style poem (or, as close as I could get to it) for Thor, storm magic, and the spirits of this land we now call Colorado.

Hawks in the air,

hanging on currents,

warmed by the song of the wind.

Clouds are coiling,

swaying the corn,

hungering to hunt down,

a hand rests on the hammer.

 

The sculptor is riding,

spirits are singing,

the wild wind blows.

Hammer hits chisel,

channeling power,

the hoof-beats of horses,

the heart-beats of humans.

 

The sky cracks open,

rain washing canyons,

roars across the Rockies.

The blue is broken,

birds take shelter,

the laughter of lightning,

licking the ledges and trees.

 

Mjollnir strikes,

might of the mountains,

twisters tear the prairie.

The wind is thrashing,

dancing with thunder,

and the bellows of bison,

call out Colorado.

Returning to Tarot

It’s what started this blog, and it’s back again.

Some of my oldest readers (readers? friends? who/what are you anyway?) will remember an attempt I made when I first started this blog to make a tarot deck based on characters from my novels. It… was alright-ish? But it didn’t pan out. The symbolism was wonky and forced and the sheer amount of time it took to do watercolor cards – I hate painting, as it turns out – made it, in the end, not really worth it to me.

And then I did the Five Realms Oracle.

More than anything, that proved to me that I do have a better handle on symbolism than I think I do, and that I have the patience and persistence necessary to complete a long-term, involved project like that. The tricky bit with that deck now is trying to put together a guidebook for it, and for that I’ve been testing it all over the place in different types of readings… but it’s hard to make an oracle deck from scratch. I can use the runes as a guide, obviously, but my views on the runes are changing a bit, and don’t really fit the cards anymore. I might take them off on the final versions. Still, trying to figure out how the symbolism fits into situations is a lot more difficult than I imagined starting out, even with a basic knowledge of the meanings already in place.

Tarot is different. Tarot is familiar. Tarot isn’t easy, per se, but it interacts and weaves into itself in known and predictable ways. The specific imagery can be twisted and shaped but the archetypal meanings stay roughly the same. Death is always change and rebirth. Strength is always endurance and boundaries. The Fool, as it turns out, was what I was missing the meaning of when I first tried to create the Five Realms Tarot (or the Revenant Tarot, I can’t remember which) a few years ago. I didn’t have a good enough scope of the whole story and the players in it. Who was powerful, who was learning. And part of what made the original set of symbolism so off was that I picked the wrong Fool.

Esper is the Fool. He’s the protagonist. He’s the one who goes on an epic journey, and whose journey gets reflected and faceted over and over again throughout his five and a half hundred years, and even after that. He is both catalyst and solution. He is the Fool that walks through the twenty-one doors, being changed by and in turn changing the people that he meets behind them. He’s walked through doors nobody was ever meant to come back through and done it anyway.

The other cards I lacked a decent understanding of? Death, Temperance, Judgement, and the Lovers. Which ties directly into what happened last April. I think I’ve finally walked through enough doors myself to do the Tarot justice. (Heh. Justice.) Watch me change my mind at the end of the Major Arcana. 😛

So… I think I might have another go at the Five Realms Tarot, now that I know who the Fool was. Funny enough, I wrote his Tales in first person. Read into that what you will.

~*SYMBOLISM*~

Aside: Quick Localisations of Four Rune Poems

Read as: I like playing with metaphors and wanted to make sense of some funky translations. This may or may not have been my life for the past few days.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional linguist. I just play with words.

Fehu

“Fé vældr frænda róge;
føðesk ulfr í skóge.”

Translation:
“Wealth is a source of discord among kin;
the wolf grows up in the forest.”

My understanding:
Knowing your own worth can be controversial;
Those who don’t lose themselves in others.

Uruz

“Úr er af illu jarne;
opt løypr ræinn á hjarne.”

Translation:
“Slag comes from bad iron;
The Reindeer races over frozen snow.”

My understanding:
Burning yourself out accomplishes nothing good;
Go steady and you will not fall.

Thurisaz

“Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu,
kátr værðr fár af illu.”

Translation:
“Giant causes anguish to women;
misfortune makes few men cheerful.”

My understanding:
Don’t belittle what others go through;
Nobody enjoys being in pain.

Ansuz

“Óss er flæstra færða
for; en skalpr er sværða.”

Translation:
“Estuary is the way of most journeys;
but a scabbard is of swords.”

My understanding:
A meandering tale will get you far;
Sharp words stay in you.


All poems and translations were referenced from ragwedforge.com

Also this experiment was inspired by the work of Jackson Crawford, in particular the “Cowboy Hávamál.” Someday I will do the whole Elder Futhark. Probably.

Five Realms Oracle Unboxing

The excitement is palpable. At least for me, given that I can, in fact, palp the deck. Forgive my not-wording there. My proof copy of the Five Realms Oracle showed up today and I had to make a video even though the light was fast approaching unfilmable territory. I AM SO STOKED. GUYS. I MADE A THING. Yes, the amount of caps lock in this description is completely necessary, trust me.

This is the site I went to for card printing, in case you also would like to make a deck:
http://www.makeplayingcards.com/design/design-your-own-tarot-cards.html

Let me know what you think, and I’ll see you soon!
φ

Thurisaz

A glass to take the edge off,
The spear at your throat,
The fangs of a wolf, his claws.

A sharp focus, time is still,
Claws on your spine,
Giants bellow in your blood.

A strike of lightning,
Hammer crashes down,
The barberry pierces red.

A wolf bites, the edge consumes,
Pain focuses the mind,
The wounds will heal.

Thurisaz

A rough and ragged rune poem by me.

I’ll have to analyze this later. It just wanted to get out of my head as soon as possible.

φ

November Not-Blues

Hello friends!

No aim for this one, just updating. November tends to be the month where I get bogged with all sorts of stuff I wasn’t expecting, as well as some stuff that I was. I suspect this has something to do with Hagalaz and Nauthiz sharing this month. I figured I need to take a post to reconnect a little. Been feeling kinda distant lately as a result of all the stuff I’m doing and preparing for.

NaNoWriMo has been my main focus the past few days, and surprisingly enough I’m actually beating my dad for word count. Which to me is hilarious given that he’s a full-time author and I just do it because I’ve got a world that wants to be read. I have a feeling he’ll get few thousand words in edgewise over the weekend, because I’ll be doing stuff where I can’t write for long periods of time like I’m used to, but for now I’m winning. (I’m a competitive person. I get it from my Other dad.) The world that has bloomed out of a couple day’s worth of splatting words onto paper is giving me all of the “proud mother” feels, which is rather disconcerting but you know what? My fictional children are amazing people. Fox-butt is a cutie. Legion is still my favorite, though he is a bit of a creepy bastard.

Weirdly enough, now that the summer is more or less vanished at this point and my seasonal grossness is over with, I’m finally back on some kind of schedule, and most of that is actually because of the writing. Apparently, having long-term projects is good for me, and after the job I had for the first part of the year, I desperately needed some kind of cycle to latch onto. The creative cycle is a good one. (I imagined Odin on a motorcycle just now and almost snorted coffee out my nose. Thanks, Gramps!) It’s been a quiet, peaceful, relaxing couple of days, and I am so grateful for that. There are a lot of people who can’t just decide to sit down and write a book, and the fact that I can is something that I try not to take for granted. It’s my way of honoring my friends, my skill, and the talent that my family/Family handed down to me. My stories have, on the surface anyway, very little to do with what I write about on this blog, though some of you might catch the little hints here and there. It’s what I do besides draw, and it’s something I never thought I’d end up doing at all, let alone be on my third year of NaNo and have six books already published. Holy magic beans, Batman!

That said, Hagalaz despises too much peace, and I do have A Thing coming up this weekend. The capitalization is rather apt in this case actually. I feel like I’m going to be put through a trial. My nerd friends and I decided a few months ago to plan a startup for a Pathfinder group in their town, but having seen the dearth of faces that showed up to our trial run a few weeks back, as well as the actual location of this thing, I’m getting the suspicion that this is a project doomed for failure. Of course, that’s not going to stop the single extrovert in the group from trying anyway, and dragging the rest of us along with him. Val actually agrees with me. Loki’s being cagey about it but he doesn’t like this guy trying to run it at all and I tend to trust his judgement too. Heck, even Frey keeps saying(politely) that my time and energy would be better used elsewhere, and my friends’ probably would too. Still, we’re going to try again on Saturday and hope for the best. I don’t mean to be the dark cloud over this particular party but there’s a season for everything, and this is not it. Finals(or midterms? Idk) are coming up for the people still in school(who are, oddly enough, the target audience for the group) and they’re going to be tired and stressed thinking about that, Thanksgiving is coming up so people probably won’t be wanting to make commitments that they’ll have to bail on to be with family, and anyone doing NaNo and school will want the weekends to be able to sit down, get homework done, and then write the SNOT out of their stories! ‘Tis the season for trimming back obstacles, reflection, contemplation, and solitude. If we’re going to do this thing, we really ought to wait until spring, or early summer, when the kids will be out of school and looking for things to do so they don’t get bored. *sigh* Ranting, ranting, ranting. Sorry about that.

Aside from that, everything is going surprisingly well, now that I’ve gotten my head out of the summer fog. I actually had myself a proud moment yesterday: I walked into a busy fast-food place that I’d never been to before and managed not to panic and run away. It was a good moment! Of course, I had to giggle when I realized that the mantra keeping me from turning into a non-functioning pile of goop all over Brandon was the phrase, “Van Helsing doesn’t panic.” Apparently that character was good for me. I’ll make a post about stories and mantras another day, though, because Bran and I had a discussion about it afterward. Also, a post about why people don’t (usually) remember their past lives, and what happens when they do. Good ideas, good ideas!

Alright, back into Redgate with me. I’ve got another 5,000 words to write today and it’s going to be a dramatic chapter. Let’s do it.

(I’m not even sorry. XD It’s been a good week.)

Also, Val’s birthday is tomorrow(don’t ask how old he is. It’s a high enough number that he’s probably forgotten at this point). I should do something for him before I have to go deal with people.

Hero’s Journey Spread

Warning: This spread takes 16 cards. It is a HUGE spread. EPIC. In the truest sense of the word. Which is probably appropriate given the subject. Either way, this is going to be a long post.

HeroJourneySpread1

I told you it was huge.

This is what the cards look like all laid out, nothing flipped over, so you can see how the parts work. Here’s a brief explanation of the big parts:

  • The middle “card” is actually the deck, which, when flipped over, reveals a potential or main theme of the story. This can also just be a card, but I find that flipping over the entire deck lends a different sense of purpose to it. Fitting of a theme or macro-concept. (yes I know the two aren’t interchangeable, shhh.)
  • The five cards in the left arch of the oval represent the “separation” or “departure,” usually from normal life and the reality they have come to know and love. Basically it is an unexpected turn of events that forces the character to cast off assumptions or connections, or perceptions.
  • The five cards at the bottom of the oval represent the “initiation” or the “descent into darkness,” which is where the character is both presented with a new reality and a path they may have to fight through in order to get to the other side in one piece. The long and arduous road through Act 2 teaches the character something valuable, something that they’ll have to use in the next part.
  • The last five cards represent the “return to reality,” or “reintegration,” which really ends up testing the mettle of whomever goes through this journey. This is do or die time, and if the character doesn’t make it through the return, they often end up worse than they were when they started, rather than better. Most stories with a happy ending generally have the character make it, but in tragedies… not so much.

The spread could, I suppose, be simplified down into one card for each of the big parts, particularly if you’re not someone who is inclined to spread cards all over hither and yon, but I do prefer to get more into the details in order to get more ideas off of which to springboard. On that note, I’m going to try my best to avoid spoiling my own book, here, but I suspect that the actually work will change significantly from the original concepts, so, don’t worry if you are inclined to read it, eventually. With that, let’s begin looking at specific details.

HeroJourneySpread2

Card 0 – Theme: Six of Wands
The Theme is a concept that presides over all of the story. Perhaps it is a kind of running gag of Fate, or a lesson that the protagonist needs to learn, or something of that ilk. My theme was a strong message (to me at least) of “what goes up must come down… and there’s nowhere to go from here but down.” This was an easy one for me to work out several other potential meanings as well. For example, the main premise of this story has always been, in my mind, the protagonist’s decent into madness. This made me think, “what if he comes out on top at the end?” Or, “what if he finds power in chaos?” Perhaps he’ll end up on top of the world, but at what cost? There are many ways this theme could go, especially when thinking in both the broadest terms possible and the tiniest detail.

HeroJourneySpread3

Card 1 – Home: Six of Cups
The Home is the setting, and the situation, that the protagonist has come to accept as “normal,” whether they like it or not. This can be family, friends, career, love, or lack thereof any of those things. Our hero starts out with pretty much everything he needs… but dang is it ever lonely. Somehow, he feels very disconnected from his family, and finds comfort and company within, and through a rather, shall we say, “shady” group of individuals. I really clung to the image of the “imaginary friend” that seems to appear in this card.

Card 2 – Call to Adventure: Four of Cups
The inciting incident, the horrific accident, the thing that makes everything else happen, happens here. This “hero,” however, is called away not by fanfare, or some twist of Fate, but by boredom. Sheer, unadulterated boredom. He feels stuck in his life and wants something exciting to happen to him, like it did for his two siblings, or his parents. Despite having everything, he wants more.

Card 3 – Refusal of the Call: Queen of Pentacles
Sometimes the idea of leaving everything that has become precious is painful, and the hero turns down the offer for something greater. Think Bilbo Baggins at the beginning of the Hobbit. However, our hero doesn’t so much deny the call as much as it is denied him. By his mother. Come on, mom. Really, all she wants to do is protect him, because she’s seen the shenanigans his older brother has gotten into, and she doesn’t want to even chance the idea that she’ll lose her baby. Which, he is, in a way, being the youngest in the family. Much to his chagrin.

Card 4 – Supernatural Aid: Ace of Cups
Having refused the call, something has to happen in order to get the hero going again. This can be supernatural aid, or supernatural interference, depending. In this case, it is more like interference, as something big starts to make some serious ripples in the calm waters of our hero’s life. In this story, this is where things that were once unseen, or imaginary, suddenly have more worldly bearing than anybody would like, and things start to get real.

Card 5 – Crossing the First Threshold: Three of Wands
The moment when Bilbo runs out the door, waving his signed contract in the air, shouting about adventures. This is the entrance into a new reality, and in our hero’s case, a new world entirely. His threshold is, like Bilbo’s, a literal one, as he passes through a Gate and into a place he’s never been. And he ends up a long way from anywhere useful, if the image on the card is to be believed.

HeroJourneySpread4

Card 6 – The Road of Trials: Five of Wands
This begins the hardships, and can last for a long time. It is the kinds of challenges the protagonist will face in the entire rest of Act 2, if not the entire rest of the story. For our hero, it is an uphill battle trying to find his place, both literally and figuratively. Given the location on the last card, part of the battle may be one against the elements, if he is completely unprepared to face them. He’ll be up against perhaps improbable odds, but he’ll struggle through them anyway.

Card 7 – Meeting the Soulmate: Six of Swords
The word “soulmate” can be a little deceiving in this case. In Runesong, for instance, the person we meet at this point ends up not being a whole lot more than a sharp slap in the right direction. Sometimes, it can be a literal soulmate, but sometimes it may just be an ally for the journey. In the case of our protagonist, the person he meets ends up pulling him out of his rather precarious situation, much to the chagrin of this “savior’s” crew, and against his better judgement.

Card 8 – Overcoming Temptation: Three of Swords
Something happens here that tries to pull the protagonist off the path, perhaps an escape from the trials, or an illusion of a better direction, but it’s up to them not to take that new path, or, failing that, to deal with the consequences. In this case, the temptation is to run from the constant harassment of our supposed ally’s crew. Given, however, that our hero doesn’t really have anywhere to run to, he ends up withdrawing internally to try to tune out the constant pestering. So, he doesn’t run, exactly, but he doesn’t resist the temptation completely, either.

Card 9 – The Big Picture: The Tower
Usually, this is the part where all of the pieces start clicking together, and the protagonist realizes, or begins to realize, something crucial about the journey. Maybe they even begin to learn their lesson. However, this can also be the part where things the hero has failed to do before have consequences come home to roost. In our case, something especially terrible happens. Suddenly, our hero has had enough of running, and decides, for better or worse, that it’s time to fight back, and in doing so, stuff gets real all over again, and he realizes what kind of power he actually has.

Card 10 – The Ultimate Goal: The Star
This is the place where the hero makes a dedication to a cause, realizes what it is they really want, and really lets their purpose on this road sink in. In our protagonist’s case, however, all he really wants is a break, and maybe a little hope. Since he’s stepped into this world, it has been one thing after another, and most of those things have sucked. He wants a light in the darkness… and finds one in the last place he expects.

HeroJourneySpread5

Card 11 – Refusing to Return: Ace of Wands
Now, having learned their lesson and made their dedication, the hero is likely to want to stay in this new place of peace, comfort, and understanding that they have. For whatever reason, the return to where they are most needed is often denied. In our hero’s case, the offer of return comes in the form of a family member who had finally found him, and wants to bring him home. He literally refuses to return home, and ends up trying to escape from said family member. Which doesn’t end well…

Card 12 – The Chase: Five of Swords
A race against time ensues, and the protagonist realizes that they can’t stay where they are any longer. This would be the part where Rohan is literally racing to Gondor’s aid, despite the wishes of Denethor. The family member that our hero was trying to escape from before ends up backing him into a corner, and from there, the hunter becomes the hunted. Our hero does not react well to being chased and harangued, after his time in Act 2, and he takes it out on his pursuer. Probably violently.

Card 13 – The Rescue: Five of Pentacles
The proverbial damsel is very much distressed right now, and Gondor is very much in need of an extra few dozen pairs of spectral hands. Our hero, after turning on his own blood, is in need of rescuing from himself, at this point. He has dug himself into a hole of despair and regret, and the only one who can dig him out of it is the “light in the dark” that he found before. This person tries at least two approaches: one being gentle, like the butterfly, and one being more like the thorny rose bush. I don’t know about you, but I know which one makes me jump faster.

Card 14 – The Final Threshold: Eight of Cups
The calamity is upon us! The final battle is at hand! The last final of high school is sitting on the desk! This is the boss battle, the final piece of the puzzle, the last step to the goal. In our hero’s case, this last step involves not a battle, but a question answered. It is a difficult question, to be sure, but the answer ends up being something along the lines of, “everything you need is within arm’s reach… if only you’d reach out and take it,” which results in him finding exactly what he’s been looking for this whole time: something to take away the boredom, and something that gives him hope.

Card 15 – Master of Two Worlds: Six of Pentacles
The hero finally returns home, a changed person, having conquered the challenges laid out for them. They have learned a valuable lesson, gained a powerful skill, or collected a helpful treasure. Sometimes all three. In our protagonist’s case, he has learned much about the world he now inhabits, about himself, and of what he is capable. He has realized that he has the ability to change the world, and when he asks for help, from his “light in the dark,” he does indeed receive it. Thus begin his plans for a new world. Gee, doesn’t that always end well?

 

Now, I believe some congratulations are in order, because you just made it to the end of this longer-than-usual ramble. Good job! And thank you for taking the time to read it. Also, thank you to the creator(s?) of the Shadowscapes tarot deck, they are wonderful, beautiful cards that really resonate with my current state of being, in a way that the Elven tarot has ceased doing for me. Don’t worry, that deck now has a new and probably better home with my sister. But thank you so much again for reading, feel free to use this spread or the concept thereof in your own workings, and I will see you all again soon!