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.


Aside: Quick Localisations of Four Rune Poems

Read as: Ej likes 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.


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

“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.


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

“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.


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

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

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


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

“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

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.

A Little Poem

Magic is a word I know intimately.
It resounds and dances off canyon walls
and whispers in trees and over fields
and sighs on your lips and fills your throat.

You, my dear, are made of magic,
and magic is a thing I know in my soul.
It fills my words to the aching brim,
till I can speak and write no more.

A little poem for Someone.
~ Erik Stormgaldr, 2016

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.

Newest Project: All’s Well in Asgard

Hello, friends!

It’s July! Loki’s month, and also Camp NaNoWriMo, which I am taking part in for the first time ever. I’m currently 15,000 words into All’s Well in Asgard, which is an idea that’s been blobbing around in my head since Odin suggested something like it to me back in October of last year, while I was still in the dorms. I decided a couple days before the start of July that I needed something to keep my hands busy while I waited for my proof copy of the Revenant paperback to show up – which it did today, I’m excited – and… well I didn’t expect to be a quarter of the way through it before July even started. Heck, I wasn’t planning on starting another book until November! So I’ve got a bit of a head start in Camp, but I’ll probably need it by the time everything’s sussed out. But for camp, I needed a working cover, so that I didn’t just have the synopsis and excerpt sitting there all lonely-like. So in honor of July For Loki, this is the cover:

AWiA Cover

I think He approves. He does feature prominently in the book, and is the first god the main character actually has contact with. The first goddess he sees is Sigyn, so I’m sure you can imagine where that particular scene takes place. My page on the Camp NaNo site is here, under the name OddBard, but since I’m not entirely sure if you can actually view my stuff if you’re not a member, here’s the synopsis and excerpt:


Roger Earlson is generally a normal guy. Yes, he grows his hair out like a viking, has a few anger issues, and works a day job that starts at 4 in the morning, but he’s otherwise average. Until, of course, the Norns decide to slap him with some cruel and unusual punishment, and he suddenly – and for no reason apparent to him – attracts the attention of Odin, Frey, and Loki, chief gods of the three old Nordic pantheons. Is he going mad? Is he becoming a shaman? Is he just drawing conclusions based on the wrong set of data? Or is all this a holdover from a long-past life? Whatever’s going on down here, though, Roger is sure of one thing: all’s well in Asgard.

The concept has been described as “American Gods” meets “Sherlock” in the middle of nowhere, Colorado. In practice it’s more like the red-shirted crewman got beamed into Midgard and the Enterprise left him there. He’s okay, but nobody expects any world-saving from him.


“The old ways are coming back. The old gods are coming back with them. I suspect some old folk are out recruiting new shamans and priests right now, more than they have in years, because nobody could or would answer the call for fear of persecution. If you’re one of them, you should feel honored,” Adam said.

“Adam…” Roger said, “I’m a physicist, not a shaman.”

“And I’m a spirit-worker, not a physicist,” Adam said with a grin, “My grandfather is a medicine man. I know this field better than you, don’t you think?”

Roger sighed, one last time, and looked at his hands. After a moment of deliberating, he shook his head slowly.

“I can’t be. My family is French-Canadian, what the hell would Norse gods want with me?” He asked.

“Your last name is Earlson, Earlson,” Adam said, “That’s about as Nordic as it gets.”

He was silent for a long few minutes, thinking his own thoughts. Adam wondered briefly if he was still breathing before Roger looked up, a plea in his eyes.

“What do I do?” He asked, quietly, “What can I do?”

Adam sat back and smiled, nodding to himself. He pointed at the sandwich.

“First, you eat,” he said, “Otherwise you’ll be of no use to anyone, including yourself. Then, you sleep, then you start researching the Northmen, and what their priests were like. I don’t know anything about them, really, aside from a few names, but you can start there. See if you can find someone who answered their call and has more experience than you. There’s got to be someone.”

Roger nodded, closed his eyes for a moment, and blew out his breath. Adam tapped his shoulder, and when he looked up, pointed to the ceiling.

“One more thing. If in doubt, ask someone upstairs for help. If they’re trying to pull you along a path, the least they can do is lend a hand once in a while, right?”

Roger smiled, and nodded.

“Yeah I guess. I’ll be polite. But…how will I hear them?” he asked back.

Adam just gave him a look, and picked up his sandwich. Roger huffed a laugh.

“Right. They know where to find me,” he muttered.

And that’s that! So, until next time, have a good one, everybody. 😀 Happy July!
-EJ Lowell


Winterdream: Tales from Liserna, Book 3

Look at me derping this post out a day late. DX

Chapter 0
12th of Oak, 2015

This final chapter in the Tales from Liserna trilogy follows Eirnin, the black sheep of the Ravenwood family, as he falls out of Liserna and into the Red Desert, the southernmost reaches of Lazarus. It is in this strange new world that he will strive to create a name for himself, find his place in the workings of the Empire, and overcome years of internalized doubt and uncertainty regarding his own identity. Ride through the arid mountains and endless rolling sands of Hargaoah with Eirnin, and the band of strange, terrifying, sometimes hilarious misfits that sweep him into their midst, as they strike out on a path to change the world of Omnia.


Now available for Amazon Kindle.