So this is a deck that took me a bit longer to parse out and have something to say about. It’s the PoMo Tarot by Brian Williams. My friend David Ricci gave this postmodern deck to me in a Secret Santa gift exchange some time in the mid-to-late-90s. It was published in 1994 by HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollins. The beginning of the blurb on the back of the box will tell you something more about it: “It’s almost 2000 A.D. Does your tarot deck seem more suited for a Renaissance court or a gypsy tent than for navigating the next millennium? Continue reading “Witchy Weekends: PoMo Tarot”
Welcome to another Witchy Weekends post here on the blog, my annual online celebration of October.
This weekend I’m featuring the Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore and Aly Fell (illustrator), published by Llewellyn Worldwide in 2012.
The Steampunk Tarot is a wonderful deck for anyone fascinated by the Steampunk aesthetic or iconography. It’s firmly founded on classic Rider-Waite imagery, and while you won’t find a whole lot that’s groundbreaking about this deck because of this, the lush illustrations will absolutely be comfort food if you’re into Steampunk literature and graphic novels. You can see this quite evidently in the major arcana, such as on the card for the High Priestess, which is replete with gears, a top hat adorned with goggles, a somewhat edgy stylized version of Victorian clothing, and various other elements of familiar Steampunk imagery.
As we move into the suits, we never stray too far from the expected, but the artwork is done with such elegance, it’s okay. The suit of wands encompasses stories of resolve, of will, of bold or audacious action or intent. Some of the wands cards in this deck actually give me strong Mistborn (a book by Brandon Sanderson) vibes, such as the two.
This deck’s cups, the suit of water and emotion, are particularly adept at conveying whole narratives in a facial expression.
The suit of swords has a lot to say about our (or the characters’) thoughts. One card that has always represented this best to me is the ten, whose image depicts a dead man with ten swords sticking up out of his back. As the adage goes, never beat a dead horse; well, stabbing a dead man is much the same thing, isn’t it? This card reminds me of someone who needs to let go of obsessive or intrusive thoughts that aren’t serving any useful purpose.
Finally, the pentacles, the suit of physical experiences and the material world. I’ve chosen the ace here because the aces in the tarot represent the pure form of the element or suit, and the imagery on this card is another iconic sample of the Steampunk aesthetic, with brass and gears and a cybernetic arm holding the coin up to glow from within, juxtaposed almost ironically against a polluted sky above a pastoral setting.
The Steampunk tarot is great for fans of the genre, full of decadent artwork and a wealth of storytelling possibilities.
I am all in when it comes to autumn and think the holiday season begins pretty much as soon as Labor Day is over. I love decorating my house for the holidays, starting with Hallowe’en. I even decorate for Thanksgiving and celebrate that aesthetic for several weeks before launching myself headlong into Christmas. I put my house back to Ordinary Time sometime in January — and depending how things are going, sometimes it’s late January. It’s all good. The more festive the better, am I right?
So it’s October again, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a minute, you know that means it’s time for Witchy Weekends! This year I thought I’d do something a little different, so each week my intention is to feature a different beautiful tarot deck. I have collected these my entire adult life, and while yes, of course, I have the classic Rider-Waite and its popular derivatives, the decks I most love are the ones with more unusual imagery, the ones that interpret the stories of the Major and Minor Arcana in unexpected, or at least thoughtful, ways. I’m fascinated by the way the cards have traditionally embraced the plot structure archetype of the Hero’s Journey. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to read them all, but even if I never do, I can admire the gorgeous artwork.
The first deck I’m featuring is the Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot, published by Lo Scarabeo in Italy, copyright 2014. The collection was edited by Pietro Alligo.
The artwork on this deck is reminiscent of Mark Ryder’s work, I think, in the way it blends the Gothic with a sort of candy-coated palette. It fetishizes youthfulness but not in a particularly indecent way: I don’t find a significant theme of sensuality in these cards. Rather, there’s a strong undercurrent of precociousness in this artwork and an acknowledgement that the innocence of youth is a cliché. You also will not find a wealth of diversity here.
Many of the cards allude to fairy tales or other children’s stories. Wonderland’s Alice shows up more than once, and this example from the Major Arcana references Snow White.
Now for the Minor Arcana. The first suit, cups, typically deals with emotions and corresponds to the element of water. Many of the cards in this deck reflect nautical imagery or creatures or interpersonal connections.
The next suit — called discs in this deck but sometimes called coins or pentacles — concerns itself primarily with material issues and the element of earth. Like many reflections on consumerism or materialism, you’ll find depictions of power imbalances here.
The wands suit is primarily about actions and the element of air. In this deck the wands appear to be clubs; in some decks they’re called staffs or staves. Many of these cards, in this deck, include animals, suggest movement or travel, and portray interpersonal dynamics.
The final suit, swords, concerns itself with conflicts and the element of fire. In this deck, the artwork for this suit includes many images of implied or explicit peril.
The artwork of the Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot is just lovely, if you’re interested in a pale and waifish aesthetic with a dose of world-weariness thrown in.
Are there any tarot decks whose artwork you particularly enjoy? Tell us about them in the comments section. And Happy October!
Hello again! I’m a bit late getting this announcement out on the blog, but the first Sonic Chihuahua issue of 2022 (volume 3 issue 1) is out! And we are hard at work on volume 3 issue 2 (March/April). Here are some details for the January/February issue.
What’s in this glorious issue, you ask? Read on…
* Embracing My Inner Goth (part 4)
* monsters and how we deal with them
* NeriSiren’s Coffee Grotto
* guacamole (seriously!)
* convo with Kristen Bird
* a Top 5 List not to be missed!
* poetry and art
I have copies of this and all back issues still available for sale, if anyone would like them. Just let me know!
As of today, the December issue of the SONIC CHIHUAHUA is ready to go out the door and to a mailbox (or eagerly awaiting open hand) near you!
So how are things going, eight issues in, with my little zine?
Well, frankly, WELL.
I will be the first to admit that restarting this zine after a twenty-nine-year hiatus was an impulsive lark. It was a decision that I made quickly, even if the seeds of that decision had been planted and quietly sprouting for a couple of years or so. And for the first couple of issues this spring, I was very much feeling my way (again) around the mechanics and logistics of putting a project like this together.
Every month. With paper and black pens and scissors and an adhesive roller.
The first issue ended up being almost twice as long as I’d intended, but it was a good length and is one I’ve stuck with. Figuring out the layout of the zine and the formatting of the content that was printed involved a fair bit of trial-and-error, but I got there. During our pandemically deprived social life, the Sonic Chihuahua became my new Friday night jam, and I loved it.
And even better was the reaction I enjoyed from nearly everyone I sent it to: excitement, enthusiasm, eager support, encouragement. Even, occasionally, someone giving me money for it! (Though financial contributions have always been optional.) There were even a couple of months when the income earned from the zine surpassed the royalties earned on my books!
And the zine grew. Oh wow, did it grow. The distribution, which wasn’t small to begin with, is half again larger than it was when it started, and now I have regular contributors sending me wonderful content to include. I’m loving that!
Without putting too fine a point on it, the Sonic Chihuahua has been, for me, exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. And I’ve heard from several readers that it has been what they needed, too, and this also makes me quite happy.
In November, Han and I went to Zine Fest Houston. I’d never attended before and was thrilled that Sonic Chihuahua got in. The event itself was excellent — it was a gorgeous day with perfect weather, the fest was in an open-air warehouse space that caters to arts events, the organizers were totally on the ball, and the crowds were big enough for Han and me to be busy all afternoon but not so thick that we felt unsafe. (And yes, we wore masks.) It was a delightfully good day, and we got to browse around and see dozens of other zinesters and their work. I learned a lot.
- For one thing, our little zine was well-received. That’s always nice.
- For another thing, there’s a whole bunch of incredible indie and self-publishing and artwork happening out there, and it’s well worth checking out.
- And finally, our production schedule is way aggressive!
Putting an issue out there once a month, turns out, is rather more frequent than most zinesters are doing. (In fact, we encountered maybe none who were, besides us.) Add to that the increasing costs to produce the paper zine, and the fact that a few of my readers have told me they don’t always finish reading it before the next issue comes (there’s a LOT in each one, y0), and the other fact that I would really like to finish at least one of the novels I’m currently writing…
You can see where this is going, can’t you? I’ve decided that in 2022, volume 3 of the Sonic Chihuahua will come out every other month instead of every month. I’ve also standardized subscription rates — for those who wish to pay for it — and even added a limited digital option (by subscription only). All of this feels like the right direction to go in, for various reasons which are boring but which I’m happy to expound upon if people want me to. (Leave your questions in the comments, if you have them.)
You’ll see the same awesome content as before. You’ll just have more time to enjoy it before the next issue comes out. Also look for more art in the zine, starting with December’s issue this week.
So on balance, I would say the zine has been a highly worthwhile project for me personally and highly appreciated by those who read it, and therefore I will keep making it. Woot! Thank you to everyone who has subscribed and/or read and/or shared photos of the zine on their social media. I appreciate all of this more than you know!
Happy Small Business Saturday!
I hope you’ve had a lovely Thanksgiving (for those of you celebrating it) or else just a very nice week. Here in the US we have launched ourselves full-force into the holiday season, and the day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday, a day designated to encourage and buy from small businesses in an effort to shop local and indie. And something useful to remember is that authoring is a business, and therefore every author is a small business owner. (That includes me!)
I have several items that might be of interest to you and yours:
- My books include Finis. and Homecoming in the Animal Affinities series (urban fantasy), and The Sharp Edges of Water (poetry). I also currently have the international anthology The Milk of Female Kindness–An Anthology of Honest Motherhood available; I was one of the lead contributors on that project, which includes fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, and art.
- I have my zine, Sonic Chihuahua, issues 1-7 in stock. (Click on this link to see what’s in each issue.) These are $3 each and include poetry, essays, fiction, art, recipes, interviews, and fun-and-games. Rejoice in the 90stalgia that is this fabulous and popular zine!
- Poetry art cards, which include my handmade designs and often my poetry on them, are blank on the inside and — with your thoughtful note written in — make lovely gifts in themselves, suitable for framing. Click here to see all 19 designs in more detail. Cards are $8 each.
You can order all of these items from me directly. You can also see all of these, plus my handmade jewelry and decorated blank journals, at the Sawyer Yards Market on December 11th.
Although you can buy my books Finis., Homecoming, and The Sharp Edges of Water in bookstores — and I hope you will! — you can also buy them directly from me. Just leave a note in the comments about it, and I’ll be in touch with you, or else email me (forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot] com), and I’ll put your items in the mail to you right away. (I recommend you order from me before December 12th for the best chance of receiving your package in time for Christmas, if that’s what you’re aiming for.) Shipping costs will be as low as I can make them.
Of course you can also get my books from Amazon and Bookshop and other big online retailers. If you’d like to get them from local and indie bookstores — and I encourage you to do so! — I know they’re currently on the shelves at Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston) and The Twig Bookshop (San Antonio). And any bookstore can order it from Ingram if they don’t currently have any copies left in stock. (Interesting note about Amazon: they currently have Finis. and Homecoming on sale, though I don’t know how long that promotion will go for.)
So that’s it! I hope you’ll support your local and indie shops and authors and makers, not just now at the holiday season but all year round. Happy holidays to you! And thank you for your support.
Many of you know that after a 29-year hiatus, I restarted my zine, the SONIC CHIHUAHUA, this spring. It has been one of the best decisions I made this year! I’m pleased to report the zine is thriving and growing far beyond my expectations, and that it feeds a part of my creative spirit I wasn’t aware I needed to be fed. It will continue.
For those of you who are not yet subscribers, here is a preview (i.e. a look at the Table of Contents) for each of the issues that has come out this year.
This month is the book-iversary for Finis., and I haven’t had a lot of time to devote to it while I’ve been promoting The Sharp Edges of Water and starting the school year back up. But I have managed to get a few IG posts. I don’t know if they’re as visually dynamic as the one I made recently for SEW, but they do tell a little bit of a story in a series of three posts. My favorite part of all of this is that these posts contain new character cards for Elsa, Lois, and Gerard that were made by my daughter. Her interpretations of these characters go beyond what I visualized, and I really like them! I’ll let you head over to IG to read the accompanying text, but here are the visual details.
So this week I branched out and did something new: I joined Instagram. I’ve resisted it for a long time because I wasn’t sure I could keep up with it. It’s hard enough to find time to post anywhere on social media — you, dear blog readers, are no doubt aware of my lack of free time! — but I think I’ve learned enough about how to do it and how to plan to do it that it won’t be onerous. And honestly, even though it’s been just a few days, already I think it’s pretty fun.
So if you’re on IG, pop on over and give us some love. Here I am over there. You may expect to see photos of my cats, my handmade jewelry, and my paintings, as well as whatever else strikes my fancy. Enjoy!