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 Ravenwood 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*~

Art Post: Hyndla

Hyndla by EjLowell

Hello again! This has been a long time coming.

A piece I’ve been meaning to do for a long time but finally had the oomph to complete for reasons. (I owed her a favor.) Another experiment in lineless art, much gloomier than the other one I did.

Hyndla is rather an obscure figure in the Eddas. She shows up in one short story and reads Ottar’s ancestry, before disappearing again. She’s a jotunn, albeit small and a bit fragile. She walks with a walking stick and has a pack of hounds and wolves at her call. Hyndla is a witch to some, a goddess to others; a goddess of bloodlines, curses, past-life exploration, and genetic weirdness of all kinds. She tends to be a bit grumpy and cold to outsiders, but can be warm and even motherly to those in her good graces.

She’s also my “matron,” though I kinda dislike the word. I haven’t found a better one yet. From my understanding of her she might as well be Frey’s opposite, which makes the fact that she’s the only goddess so far to claim me as one of her own rather amusing to me. I can see myself being something like her if I live past sixty. I already have to use a cane in the winter, sometimes.

Again, I’ll make an update post or a video at some point. Things have been wonky and I need to figure out how I want to say things.

See you soon, probably

Art Post: Freyr of the Vanir

Freyr of the Vanir by EjLowell

Holy crap it’s been a while. Sorry about that, guys. Nothing bad happened this time – nothing on the order of soul-close-friends dying, anyway – I just haven’t had much to talk about. Life’s been happening and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Might update soon.

A personal (I guess??) piece for Ingvi-Frey, lord of peace and good seasons. and pants I mean plants. Whenever the sunflowers and tiger lilies start blooming I think of him, and I haven’t done an art for him in a while.

I went out for an impromptu picnic with my lovely Moose man the other day and it was just so peaceful and warm, birds were chatting and bumble bees kept checking in to say hello (and scare the crap out of me), and all I could think of was, “this is Frey. This is what he’s all about. Peace and laughter and loving moments shared with friends and family.” We sat under a tree which is actually two trees twisted up together and surrounded by a bed of clover. It was hot as heck out, as summer on the front range tends to be, but it was so… Frey. I wish I could take that feeling and distill it, stick it into a bottle, and wear it forever. Give it to those who need it more than me.

Hi, btw, for those of you who don’t know I am actually rather devoted to this particular deity. He stands for so much that I try to stand for, that I try to be. He represents a version of masculinity that I deeply admire – giving without being pushy, protective without being possessive, friendly without being obnoxious, strong without feeling the need to prove it or show it off, respectful and kind toward all people – and working on this piece for him lit me up from the moment I started sketching it. I don’t do lineless art very often; it just takes so long to do, so I tend to reserve it for special pieces. This is in thanks to him for all of the things that have been going well lately, all of the crap I’ve been trying to sort out emotionally and mentally, all of the courage I’ve found whilst digging in the depths of hopelessness, and hope that I might actually have the wherewithal to follow the paths I can’t help but stare at from a distance because I’ve been so scared of being judged for taking them.

That got a little weird but I hope someone finds some peace in the picture, at least. Peace and Good Seasons to ya’ll.

Aside: And guess what just happened while I was getting ready to post this? A friend asked for help. Spiritual help. That. Was. WHAT?! I still get flabbergasted when shit like this happens!!

Test Reading – Five Realms Oracle

Hello!

Full disclosure, I’ve done three other readings with this deck already and it’s a bit scary how on-the-nose the results can be, sometimes. The reason for so many readings is simple: understanding the cards in different contexts. The more situations I find the cards in, the more facets I can look at and interpret.

Which brings me to my Yule reading for this year, which is actually a rune reading spread that I found on Pinterest and decided to try out since my cards have runes on them. Rather than tossing runes onto my rug, however, I asked my pendulum how many cards to pull for each position and read them from there. This deck seems to work really well with my pendulum, actually.

So, here’s the spread(which I’ve actually flipped from the original, for flow reasons), followed by my interpretation of the cards:

yulespread-dec16-1

Past – The Warrior, The Sage, and The Wounded

This one is pretty straightforward. All the crap in April happened, I got called down a path I never thought I’d have to go down, and I’ve been struggling with trying to live without someone who had a massive effect on my life. Not only have I been trying to get a handle on the grieving process and trying to move past it, I’ve been in situations where it feels like people expect me to pretend it never happened and move on with my life. I can’t do that. This year changed me, for better or worse, and while I’m probably stronger because of it, I still don’t think I’ve got enough of a handle on anything to start really living again, even though the gods know I’m trying. Long story short: shit happened, and I’m still trying to deal with some of it.

Present – Wyrd

Speaking of on-the-nose, things are currently weird. I feel like I and many others are in a kind of between-space right now. Chronologically this seems to be true, since we’re between Yule and the New Year right now, and that seems like a rather funky time in most peoples’ lives, and not just because of the holidays or lack thereof. Right now, I’m taking a bit of a breather. Taking space – hee – from life while I try to figure out how to do anything remotely resembling moving forward. I feel a bit like life knocked me down hard over the last several months, and I’m just now getting up to limp into 2017. For the sake of understanding, I feel obligated to say that while I do try to put my best face forward on camera or in text, my mental/emotional state has been an absolute clusterfuck for the last seven months or so. That said, things are happening outside of my awareness right now and I think – I hope, anyway – that whatever strings are being pulled will lead to a reprieve at the least, and a breakthrough at best.

Action – The Rune

If you’re thinking this card has a very Odin vibe about it, you’d be right, and it was definitely designed that way on purpose. My tentative meaning for The Rune was something along the lines of embracing the unknown as a challenge, rather than an insurmountable wall. Looking into shadows you normally shun or shy away from. Ordeals and confrontations of the self come to mind immediately, and actually make me recoil a bit. I feel like I’ve already had enough crap thrown at me for one year, but unfortunately I believe the Powers That Be aren’t done with me yet. I know this is an action will have to initiate, and taking action is by far the thing that I’m the worst at. This card represents stepping into the unknown and trusting that it’s for a reason. Or stepping into the unknown with a purpose, or a target. The Gar rune has always looked a bit like a crosshair, to me.

Stagnation – The Victorious, and the Realm of Spirit

This is what happens if I don’t take that action. That tower sticks out like a sore thumb in an, “I’m just waiting for the lightning strike,” kind of way. While it might make me feel like I’ve beaten something or won out in some way, I feel like it’ll be short lived and hollow. Yes, I could be happy, but I’ll still be stuck in the same place and just asking for something else to come along and push me out of the tower. (Oh hey, Bran Stark reference on accident.) So the question posed by the cards turns into, “Would you rather move of your own power or be moved by something you can’t control?” Being a Taurus, I’d rather just not move in general, but I see where this is going.

Future – The Guardian and The Alchemist

Now, this pair I find interesting for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that my primary archetype is the Alchemist. There’s a lot to pick out of these cards. They’re both facing each other, and are pulling magic in the same sort of way, but one is much more purposeful and the other is experimental. The Guardian is controlling water, and the Alchemist is playing with fire. The Guardian, being a dark-elf, is old, while the Alchemist is a young girl. Frankly, I’m still struggling a little with the meaning of the Guardian, but together these two cards synergize so well. Like the inner child and the inner parent (hm. “Guardian.” Interesting. That actually explains a little about why I’m terrified of the Guardian in the Wildwood Tarot, now that I think about it) coming together to make things happen of their own power, and at their own pace. So this seems like coming into power as a self-reliant being and not just being swooped around by forces beyond anyone’s control. I’m not quite sure yet, but I’ll definitely know it when I get there, if I get there.

Overview/Bottom of the Deck – The Smith

yulespread-dec16-2
Also, a snail shell, amethyst geode, and blue quartz in rhyolite.

Recently I’ve started looking at the card at the bottom of the deck for an overview or a, “here’s what you’re missing” piece of information. The Smith has actually come up in a couple of other readings with this deck. I tend to be drawn to the Rune, rather than the actual figure, and the bit of the Uruz rune poem that says, “dross comes from bad iron.” Meaning, nothing worthwhile comes out of half-assing it. So, elbow grease and a steel resolve will likely be useful going forward. A common thread with me is that whatever I really put my mind to, I will achieve, because I’m a stubborn bull like that. So when a path isn’t really meant for me, I will plow my own. Make my own spear and throw it, too! At least, that’s what I like to think, and that’s been the case in the past. This deck is the result of being dedicated and determined, so hopefully that willpower carries through into whatever The Rune wants me to do.


The future is still a little blurry, but I’ll get there when I get there. In the meantime, what do you think of this deck? I’m pretty proud of it, if not as a functioning deck (which, I think it is) than as an artistic experiment. So far, most of my readings with it have been pretty spot-on, character and world knowledge aside.

Have a good one, see you when I see you.

φ

 

 

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

As promised, here’s the link to my Facebook Author page so that you can check out all the wonderful artwork (and temporary card meanings):
https://www.facebook.com/pg/authorejlowell/photos/?tab=album&album_id=544522945726797

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

Art Post: Where There’s A Shaman, There’s A Drum

where_there_s_a_shaman____by_ejlowell-da9sgs0

Because I didn’t mention this in the last picture he was in, this is my moose. We’re both walking slightly different but intertwining versions of the same path, and more often than not he ends up taking care of me, rather than the other way around.

(He’s not actually a moose, but he is much taller than I am.)

φ

Art Post: Suddenly Blue

 

Hallo, friends!

Another weird thing I forgot to mention in my ramblings about what I’m coming to call, “The Mongol Incident” was that, in addition to having a rather sudden, strong, and short-lived fever, I also had a weird perception shift happen, in which the color blue suddenly stuck out like a sore thumb. It was as though I was seeing the color for the first time. So, this happened:

suddenly_blue_by_ejlowell-da5ewiy
Subtle ambient occlusion mixed with my normal style. Also, blue. Lots of blue.

 

See you when I see you, everyone! Hope you like.

Open for Business!

Hello, everyone!

Today, my little shop in the digital woodland is open for business! Not only do I offer Tarot, Oracle, and Rune readings, but also art commissions. It’s gonna be a great time!

Being the Hermit on Etsy

By the way, if you requested a free reading on the last day, it’s still free, and I’ll be sending it to you as soon as I can. You’re all awesome for being so patient.

See you soon!