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Intro to Cartomancy Class

Laura’s introductory class on the art of reading playing cards. In this class we cover the historical origins of playing cards, their use in divination, and tips for learning cartomancy at home! Class includes a copy of The Suicide King’s Quick Guide to Cartomancy and a sharpie and pack of cards to make your own study deck.

 

Upcoming Classes –

Thursday, December 13th, 6:30-8:30pm

at Oracle, 130 W 18th Street, KCMO

Back by popular demand… Laura’s introductory class on the art of reading cards will be back at Oracle this December. Reading cards is a great way to bring a sense of playfulness to your practice! Class size is limited to 9, email Oracle to reserve a spot.

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Reading for Children

This Halloween season I got to read for a wide variety of people at various events. At one party, a four year-old girl sat at my table and wanted a reading. Many professional readers I know refuse to read for children. Very often children are struggling with very real and somewhat heavy issues too. And many readers are uncomfortable having a conversation with a young querent* about these topics if they show up in the cards. And that’s fair, it is much better to set boundaries and refer a querent to another reader who would be more suitable for their needs.

(*querent: one who is receiving the reading)

I, personally, enjoy reading for children. The most important part of reading for a minor is that you treat them like every other querent… you have a conversation with them as a person. The card interpretations and the suggestions should be specific to their life situation and needs. Just as you would for anyone who would sit at your table. Being aware of their sensitivities and taking care with their emotions.

Also… not every deck is appropriate for minors. I suggest carrying a family-friendly deck with you if you read for minors and your regular working deck is too mature, startling, esoteric, etc. I happened to be using my Halloween Tarot deck by Kipling West for most of this Halloween season’s events and it is a perfect deck for family and youth readings.

While I have read for many children over the years, I think that four years-old is the youngest querent I’ve ever had (with the exception of my son who was also four when he asked for his first reading).

9 of Swords – 

Me: “Do you ever get bad dreams?”

Girl: (nods)

8 of Wands –

Me: “Sometimes, if you have one bad dream, does it seem like they just keep happening when you try to sleep again?”

Girl: (lowers eyes slowly and nods)

Strength –

Me: “See this card? What’s happening in the picture?”

Girl: “There’s a lion by her.”

Me: “Looks kinda scary, right? What about the lady… who is she?”

Girl: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Is she a lion tamer maybe?”

Girl: “Maybe. Yes.”

Me: “She’s looking at the lion’s teeth. Does she seem scared?”

Girl: (shakes head enthusiastically “no”)

Me: “Exactly. Next time you have a bad dream, you be the lion tamer and look that bad dream in its teeth.”

Girl: (slightly cheerier) “Ok!”

The Moon –

Me: “Have you ever looked at your back yard at night? Looks kinda spooky, right?”

Girl: (wide eyes, vigorous nodding)

Me: “But it’s still just your backyard. Nothing’s changed. Right? Just spooky lighting.”

Girl: “Yeah.”

Me: “When you wake up at night, it’s still your bedroom. It’s just dark. That’s all.”

Girl: (happy smile)

Conclusion –

Me: “You’ve got this. Look that bad dream in its teeth and say ‘This is my room, if you want to be here… you behave.’”

(we high-fived, she giggled, hopped off the chair, and ran to hug her mom)

 

Now if I’d done this reading for myself it would’ve looked more like this:

9 of Swords – Stress and anxiety are starting to have an affect on your health. While there are things to cause concern… you are giving them too much power over your thoughts.

8 of Wands – It’s a busy time and there’s a lot to do. Busyness itself, is neutral. It’s how you handle the busy times that shape your experience of them.

Strength – Remember you have inner strength and stamina. Tend to it to keep yourself healthy.

The Moon – Really look at your habitual reactions to stress and triggers… are you acting based on old patterns that grew from anxiety and trauma or are you truly engaging with the present? Don’t let your subconscious keep playing the same nightmares over and over again. Are you really talking to the person in front of you or to ghosts from your past?

Conclusion – Keep your focus on maintaining your inner strength during this active time and don’t let subconscious triggers overshadow reality.

Obviously interpreting the cards like this would’ve been confusing, boring, and not relevant for my young client. So when reading for a young querent make sure you are speaking to them appropriate to the stage of life they are currently in. One of the greatest gifts you can give to a child who sits at your table is to treat them like a regular client; don’t speak down to them and don’t underestimate the depth of their experiences. Have an honest and caring conversation with them guided by the cards and they will remember that you took them seriously. Really, that’s what any seeker truly wants.

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Pop-Up at Oracle

Tarot Supplies & Readings Pop-Up:

Friday, November 3rd, 5-9pm

at Oracle, 130 W 18th Street, KCMO

Moth & Candle will be at Oracle this Friday!

I will have Tarot supplies for sale: deck bags, zines with original Tarot spreads, Tarot and cartomancy study guides, deck cleansing powder… treat your cards right and they will serve you well!

I will also have the last remaining decks of the Paris Tarot first edition! It will be bittersweet to send the last Paris Tarot out into the world.

I will also be available for drop-in Tarot readings. See you there!

 

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Halloween Tarot Readings at Noir

Tis the (Halloween) season!

Noir Arts & Oddities, KC’s favorite “creepy but cool boutique” in the historic West Bottoms is hosting two nights of in-shop Tarot readings. Get in the Halloween spirit, drop in for a reading, and check out the fabulously odd offerings in the parlor!

I will have my favorite Halloween deck in tow (as well as playing cards and my trusty Smith Waite deck)… so pick your poison… er pick your deck and let’s see what the cards have to say for you!

Readings available on a first-come-first-serve basis. You can choose your reading to be anywhere from a $5 single card reading, a $15 four-card reading to a $25 seven card reading.

Thursday October 25th: 4-6pm

Friday October 26th: 5-7:30pm

Noir Arts & Oddities: 1101 Mulberry Street, KCMO

The Halloween Tarot by Kipling West published in 1996.

My heart will always belong to The Halloween Tarot deck I bought 22 years ago… I don’t get to use it for client work often because most people consider Halloween a season (pffft, I know, right?)

That beautiful vintage bottle behind my deck came from Noir Arts & Oddities, by the way…

 

 

 

 

The only deck I feel compelled to pick up and hug every time I pass by. It’s the first deck I bought for myself and the deck that helped me reconnect to cartomancy when I was struggling with the inherent misogyny of the Golden Dawn tradition.

This sweet old deck will be on my table and working for the special Halloween Tarot nights at Noir Arts and Oddities this week.

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Obscure Card Game Night

Laura is hosting a monthly Obscure Card Game Night at The Moth & Candle studio!

OPEN TO ALL! NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! Laura will teach the group how to play the month’s chosen card game, we will learn a little bit about the background of the game, then we’ll play several rounds and see how we like it. A little bit history, a little bit fun and games… Obscure Card Game night is something a little bit different to shake off the “same-old same-olds.”

  • Third Thursdays 7 – 9 pm **Unless otherwise noted.
  • Moth & Candle studio, 3130 Bell Street, KCMO
  • Free & open to the public. $5 suggested donation

Upcoming Dates

  • March 21st: Piquet – Is one of the oldest card games still being played today. Referenced as early as 1535, Piquet remained the most popular card game in France until the early twentieth century.
  • April 18th: Skat – Is the national game of Germany and is considered one of the most interesting card games for three players.
  • May 16th: TBA
  • June 20th: TBA
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Deck Review: Zillich Tarot

The Zillich Tarot by German artist Christine Zillich was released by U.S. Games Systems, this Spring, 2018. I purchased my copy about a month ago and have been working with it for a few weeks now.

This is the first Thoth-style* deck I have owned. In the past I have had strongly negative reactions to every single Thoth deck I’d ever picked up. Even before I knew anything about the background of Thoth decks or their designer, Crowley. The Zillich Tarot, however, I instantly loved. It is beautiful. Zillich’s watercolors are ethereal and timeless, the human figures are vague and culturally indeterminate, and none of the illustrations seem violent or overtly alarming which makes this deck a great choice for giving public readings.

The illustration still captures the weight of the card without the violence of more traditional images.

It comes as a pocket-sized (2.5” x 3.75”) deck which is my FAVORITE size for a Tarot deck; small enough to carry and handle easily but large enough to clearly see the images. It is printed on glossy, firm card stock in a full-color tin box. The little booklet is black and white, 60 pages long, and was written by Johan von Kirschner (translated from German to English by Jonee Tiedemann).

Now, while the publisher says this is a Thoth-style deck, it truly seems to be a bit of a hybrid between RSW and Thoth*. For example, The Zillich does title the Strength card as Lust in the Thoth manner, but keeps it in the VIII position like the RSW rather than move it to the XI position like a standard Thoth. Some of the cards cary strong RSW-influenced imagery and, thankfully,  Zillich leaves out Crowley’s esoteric Aeon.

Although a Thoth-style deck, Zillich drew heavily upon traditional RSW imagery for many cards.

The booklet by Kirschner is poetic but abstruse. The syntax is a little odd and I’m not sure whether it’s just an awkward translation or if the original German has the same jumbled feeling to it as well. The opening essay is confusing and references both Knights and Kings although the Zillich deck follows a Thoth structure to the court cards (Princess, Prince, Queen, Knight) and has no Kings. However, the booklet does include associated signs and ruling planets for each card, which is a plus. 

Adjustment replaces the Justice card and Justice replaces the Judgement/Aeon card.

As with most Thoth-style decks, it is not necessarily beginner-friendly and the booklet doesn’t help with that at all. However, this is a beautiful and gentle deck. If you love the art and are intrigued by this deck, don’t let me deter you. Love always wins and you will find a way to work with this deck if you are motivated to do so! Just don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come easily… this isn’t an easy deck.

Some of my favorite cards from the Zillich Tarot.

I would declare my undying love and devotion to this deck and never, ever put it down…:

  1. … if it had borders. There’s a reason cards have had borders for HUNDREDS of years. Actually several reasons. I’ve talked about this before.
  2. … if U.S. Games Systems removed their copyright stamp from the otherwise lovely card backs. Come on, guys, copyright and your name does not need to appear on every single card. At least not in such an artless way. Ick.
  3. … if it was printed on slightly nicer card stock. The card stock it’s on is decent. Not great. Pretty average feel. The images would be better served on a higher quality stock that would allow the pigments to shine.
  4. … if it had a better font and no typos. The card images are so beautiful, but the titles really should be hand-written by the artist. I get that the original was probably in German, but surely Zillich would be willing to write titles for multiple translations? And, oh man, that doubling of XIX on both the Sun and Universe cards is a rough mistake to overlook. Hopefully U.S. Games Systems will fix this in subsequent editions.
Unfortunate typo on The Universe card.

But even with these four quibbles… I truly adore this deck. Zillich’s art is mesmerizing and creates a unique world. If you’ve been looking for a Thoth deck to try, I highly recommend this one.

*There are two main styles of contemporary Tarot decks. Both decks were reinventions of the original Marseilles-style Tarot decks and were heavily influenced by the beliefs and practices of the British occult group The Golden Dawn which existed from 1887-1903. The Rider-Smith-Waite (RSW) deck was published in 1910 and was illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith under the direction of A. E. Waite. The Harris-Crowley-Thoth (Thoth)  deck was illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris under the direction of Aleister Crowley in 1943 but was not published until 1969.

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Deck Review: Nature Nurture Oracle

I picked up my copy of the Nature Nurture deck by Marcella Kroll last week. I’ve spent a few days now with this 45-card nature-inspired oracle deck and it has already earned a place of honor in my deck library.

The presentation is really sleek. The deck is petite with 2.25″ x 3.5″ cards. It comes in a sturdy rigid box with a simple design. The cards themselves have gilded edges, are glossy, and seem to have a very subtle glittery sheen to them. The card stock is thin but seems to be fairly durable nonetheless. The card backs are not reversible, but that’s generally not an issue when working with oracle decks.

The artwork is minimal and beautiful with simple drawings that quickly convey the card symbols. They are numbered 1 through 45 and contain both the title of the card and a single keyword making this a great beginner’s deck.

Some of my favorite cards from the deck.

While the deck itself is beautiful and has a unique aesthetic amongst the oracle decks currently available… the real star of the show is Kroll’s little booklet. This 50 page book comes nestled in the box on top of the deck with a full-color cover and is packed with poetic interpretations of each card. I found myself reading it cover to cover before I even really handled the cards much at all.

My 4-Card reading.

Kroll includes instructions for three ways to work with the Nature Nurture deck: 1) The one-card focus/meditation draw, 2) The standard three-card past/present/future spread, and 3) A four-card guidance spread.

It’s occasionally difficult to get oracle cards like this to function easily in a guidance-oriented reading as their strength really lies in their inspirational/meditative qualities. But I’ve found that this deck can ask you to consider situations and suggested actions in a very gentle way. When the harsh truths other decks can deal out are just too much to take in… sometimes the quiet peaceful guide who whispers to us is what we really need.

I cannot recommend this deck enough for people who are interested in trying their hand at working with cards for the first time. This deck would also be a great supplemental deck: once you lay out your normal spread with a Tarot deck you can draw an additional card from the Nature Nurture deck as an added “tone” card. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down…

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Cartomancy Class at Oracle KC

Ever wondered why the King of Hearts is known as The Suicide King? Or why the Ace of Spades is always extra fancy? Or where playing cards even came from in the first place?

I will be at OracleKC this Friday, July 13th to teach about the traditions of Tarot and how you can learn to do readings with a regular ol’ playing card deck! We will learn a little about the history of playing cards, a few of the different systems used for cartomancy (the art of reading cards), and do practice readings together! Everyone will take home a little bag with a wide-bordered deck of cards, a fine point sharpie, and a booklet with keyword meanings for about four different systems of reading cards to create your own study deck!

  • Friday, July 13th – 6:30-8:30pm
  • Oracle KC – 130 W 18th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108
  • $30 class/materials fee
  • Class size limited to 15. Reserve your spot now!

Oracle is one of my favorite locally owned businesses in my hometown! Oracle, Natural Science, specializes in sustainably sourced animal specimens, taxidermy, minerals, framed insects and butterflies. They provide workshops to promote education and creativity in their fields, as well as venturing into the occult, pet preservation, and interior design.

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Create a Safe Space

Given the recent news of the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade by suicide, I wanted to address how we as readers should care for people in distress who seek our assistance.

Tarot card readers are not licensed healthcare providers (*although some licensed health care professionals may in fact be card readers). I do not provide that kind of mental health care. However, I am a compassionate human being and by the nature of my job, I am often discussing these issues with my clients. And I take it very seriously. I’d like to share how I personally handle “crisis” issues when they surface during a reading and my tips for being prepared.

First, a little background. 

To be honest, I am not unused to being the “safe ear” for people. Throughout my life I have had people I don’t know turn to me and start telling me their inner feelings, worries, and struggles. This would happen in lobbies and waiting rooms, in bathrooms at the sink washing our hands next to each other, and numerous other places where strangers find themselves spending brief amounts of quiet time together. These impromptu confessionals would generally surprise both of us and frequently the other person would say, “I really don’t know why I’m telling you all of this.” It used to confuse and worry me, especially in my teens. I felt like I was unknowingly running around with Wonder Woman’s golden lasso of truth. I couldn’t understand why they would turn to ME or what I was supposed to DO about it.

As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that sometimes the safest outlet for our deepest fears is precisely someone who doesn’t know us and who at least appears outwardly gentle. I’ve learned to value just how important my reaction to their pain and vulnerability is as well. Their trust may not have been a gift I asked for, but it is one they have offered to me and I must be kind.

I have learned to be a compassionate ear in the moment and offer what little advice I may have for them; always aiming to leave them feeling more empowered to live their lives than when they first approached me. Mostly they need to feel heard without judgement and, occasionally, pointed in the direction of the help they need. I even trained and worked briefly as a volunteer for the crisis hotline at MOCSA (Missouri Organization to Counter Sexual Assault). This training included ways to offer support and guidance without crossing the boundary of “prescriptive mental-health care.” If you are at a place in your life where you can volunteer with an organization in this type of capacity, I highly recommend it. It will serve you well the rest of your life.

(I’ve also learned more coping strategies for protecting myself and my own emotions through this process. Taking in the trauma of others can be difficult and if not handled carefully, even harmful. But I will go into that more at another time.)

The first year I worked at the local Renaissance Festival as a Tarot reader, I worked a shift in which four of my clients that day were in extreme emotional duress: The first sat at my table, when I looked up at them and into their eyes, before either of us had said a word, they began to cry. The second, it became evident, was in an abusive situation and her abuser was sitting at the table with us. And two more clients confided that they felt suicidal. I helped each as best I could and strongly encouraged them to reach out to counseling and hotlines that could help them. I went home that evening feeling powerless and overwhelmed. Particularly about the client who sought my help despite their abuser watching and listening to our every word. I just remember the horrifying 30 seconds when the abuser had gone to get a chair and my client looked me in the eye with such desperation and told me they didn’t want to be controlled anymore. I analyzed every last detail of our interaction and tried to figure out what more I could’ve done to help them. I just kept thinking, if only there’d been some way I could’ve slipped them a note tucked under my business card with the domestic-abuse hotline scrawled on it. But hindsight is 20/20 and I didn’t have that number memorized. I carry this experience with me as a reminder of the importance of the trust my clients have in me and how absolutely important it is that I help them in the most appropriate way.

So here are my top tips for creating that safe space for my clients:

1) HOTLINES

I have typed up a list of hotlines and printed them on small slips of paper that may be discretely handed to clients I suspect may benefit from any or all of these services.

My current list (and the numbers included are mostly based for the Kansas City area as that’s where a majority of my clients are.)

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

KC Domestic Violence Hotline (connects to all 6 local shelters): 816-468-5463

Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

KCAVP (LGBTQ Domestic Violence / Hate Crimes Hotline): 816-561-0550

LGBTQ Youth Hotline: 1-866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

Make your list specific to the area/city where a majority of your clients are based. If there’s a topic that comes up for your clients frequently that is not addressed in the organizations above, look it up and add it! Sometimes different people attract the trust of those going through particular issues. For example, if you have clients struggling with gambling addiction on more than one occasion… find the hotline for that and put it on your list!

2. PROVIDE TISSUES

It really is that simple. I have a small fabric case with a travel packet of tissues that I keep on my table. The moment I recognize the tell-tale signs of tears rising… I quietly move the tissues next to my client. This not only gives them the tissues to use, but it sends a silent signal that it’s ok to cry (or sneeze) and that they are obviously not the only ones to have done so at my table. Sometimes even I need the tissues.

It is common in our culture to shame others for crying. So many people are automatically ashamed or even afraid to cry in front of others. On the other hand, I feel it is equally important to not go to the other extreme and demand that they “let it all out.” Tears are a physical symptom of emotional distress. Just as I wouldn’t look at someone’s paper cut and say, “Yes, that’s it, bleed!” I’m not about to make any sort of demands on someone’s tears. I generally don’t say anything at all, offering them tissues is my gentle acknowledgement. Inevitably they will apologize. I simply say, “No, it’s fine. It’s totally normal.” and then continue on with our conversation.

3. RESPECT THEIR BOUNDARIES

I am respectful of my client’s boundaries. If we are getting into topics that are difficult for them or I notice a rising discomfort, I am sure to say, “Feel free to stop me. This is all up to you. If you don’t want me to say anything more about this, you just let me know.” And then I STAND BY THAT. I do not push my clients. Ever. They have hired me. It’s their reading.

4. EMPOWER THEM

The biggest damage that the “fortune-teller” style of reading can do is to disempower the client. I do not predict the future. I do not tell anyone what they or someone else is absolutely going to do. That is not my job; that is not what my cards and years of expertise and life experience are for. Fortune-telling and purely-predictive readings are useless in my opinion anyway. 

The client must always feel empowered to be doing positive work in their own lives by the time they stand up from my table. This is what I learned from a lifetime of people-I-don’t-know crying to me in desperation in public bathrooms… we have a brief amount of time together and the only real gift I can give them are words and a demeanor that will encourage them to take steps to help themselves. It’s different in every scenario. But there is always SOMETHING that can be said to another person that will help them take action to better their situation. Sometimes it’s, “Maybe you should go to the park and watch the ducks while you think through what’s going on.” Sometimes it’s, “It sounds like you don’t feel safe, do you know where you can go to be safe?” If you listen, most of the time they have an answer. If they don’t, some gentle nudges in offering possibilities will generally get them going in identifying the options available to them. They know themselves better than we will ever know them. Period. No matter how many subtle clues and signs I pick up on over the course of a conversation, no matter how amazed they are at my ability to have insight into their situation, they are the ones carrying their life story. Respect that.

Those mini-crisis moments with strangers have helped me develop a reading style that offers my clients ideas and encouragement about how they can help themselves. Even if that empowerment is, “You can call this number to get the additional help you may need.”

There is a mental-health crisis in The United States (and many other countries as well.) Depression is a deadly predator. It dresses itself up in our own voices and dances around inside our brains saying the most damaging, hurtful, and awful things to wear us down. Someone dying from depression (suicide) and someone dying from a physical illness are not that different, they both eventually just wear away at our stamina. A friend of mine once said, “The only thing depression wants is to get you alone so it can have its way with you.” The most important thing we can do is to make sure that when anyone expresses fear, loneliness, or depression… let them know in some way that they are not alone and do not ever need to be.

Be a safe recipient of trust. For others and yourself.