Further Reading, July 2016

by Marianne in


It's that time again - time for this month's reading roundup. I've been devouring books and music this month, as well as interviewing some amazing deck creators and inviting new versions of old favourites into the shop. Here's what I loved in July!

Around Here

I was so honoured to share a forecast for Scorpio as part of Siobhan Renee's legendary collaborative Tarot Scopes. This project is so cool - not only do you an awesome scope every month, you get it in a new and different voice each time. It's such a wonderful little slice of our community! You can find forecasts for your signs this month here.

I wasn't able to blog as regularly as I would've liked this month, but I did manage to post the next instalment in my now very sporadic series on the Wooden Tarot, on the court cards from the suit of Plumes. Birds and arrows ahoy!

I was also blessed with two wonderful guests on the blog this month. Rebekah Erev kindly shared with us a little more about her Malakh Halevanah/Moon Angel cards, and I swear every word that comes from this wonderful, powerful priestess artist wizard is gold! You can find the Moon Angel cards in the shop here

Art Nouveau artist Matt Hughes also stopped by to talk about his hopefully forthcoming Ethereal Visions Tarot. The Kickstarter for this deck is in its final days and still needs a little nudge, so if you like pretty, pretty tarot decks, do consider backing it!

In shop news, the reversed edition of the Spirit Speak Tarot landed this month, and it. is. delicious. Y'all know I'm a big fan of the original, but folks, I may even like this version of it more. It's so dark and rich, fit to lose oneself in! If you're so inclined, you can read my interview from a few months ago with this deck's creator here.

On the Bookshelf

I read greedily in the month of July, so there are too many books to list in detail. The standout favourite was The Lonely City by Olivia Laing, one of those indefinable pieces of non-fiction that might be memoir, might be art history, might be cultural studies, but is actually all those things at once and more. This book felt like spiritual food so rich it almost hurts to eat it! 

A voice from beyond the veil might have whispered to me in a dream, for I now forget how Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner found its way onto my radar. I was even puzzled when I received a notification from my library that it was ready to collect, as I couldn't even recall being familiar with the title, but I'm so glad it has made its way into my life. Another gem from Virago's Modern Classics range, Lolly Willowes is a funny and biting novel about women's independence, life in the country, and, naturally, witchcraft. 

It's been a long time coming, but I finally picked up a copy of The Raven's Prophecy Tarot, by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm a huge fan of her books, and although I finished it months ago, thoughts of The Raven Cycle continue to destroy my heart on the daily, so I thought it fitting that it spread its tendrils into my tarot work, too. I'm still in two minds about whether I'll trim those orange borders off. We'll see!

I've also been listening to a lot of, of all things, Tori Amos. Every moment of my life from ages 16 to about 21 were soundtracked by her music, but she's not an artist I've needed much in the last decade or so. Until now, apparently! It's nice to be reminded that From the Choirgirl Hotel remains one of my most-beloved albums, even if I haven't heard it in years. 

The Best of Elsewhere

Perhaps because I've been greedily reading books, I haven't read all that much online this month. A few gems, though: 

It isn't new, but I return to this post about an amor fati approach to life and magic by Carolyn Elliott again and again. It's a long read, and each time I revisit something different piques my interest. 

This interview with the editor of the forthcoming Asian American Tarot. This looks like a really amazing project, representing Asian American experience and exploring mental health struggles and self-representation. You can back the Kickstarter for this deck here.

I've already shared my undying love for the Tarot del Fuego by Ricardo Cavolo, so no surprises, I'm loving seeing it pop up more and more in the community. Paloma's deck interview takes a look at what it's like to work with this weird and wonderful creation.

I really enjoyed Ten Questions Every Tarot Reader Must Answer over on Dana's blog, Lavender Moon. It really got me thinking about how I define myself as a reader, what's important, what isn't. Expect more on this in the future!

STOP THE PRESSES, this is amazing (and I haven't even tried it yet!). Jeanna of Girlboos Woo has, as usual, outdone herself with this tarot spread for content planning. Essential reading for all internet mystics, and on my weekend schedule to test out!

Ok, that's it for me this month. What have you been reading? You know I love a recommendation! Share yours in the comments, or come say hi on Twitter!

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My Five Desert Island Tarot Decks

by Marianne in


If you spend a little time in the tarot community on youtube, you may already be familiar with the gauntlet that Kelly Bear recently threw down before those of us with healthy (i.e., large and ever-growing) tarot collections. Kelly challenged her viewers to name the five decks they would use if they could only work with five decks for one year.

Although I don't have youtube channel, I just couldn't resist answering the question. You may notice, though, that although I said "recently" above, the date on that video is actually March 24th. This lil' post has been languishing in my drafts for that long because this question is TOUGH, y'all! The struggle is real. 

I'm no stranger to tarot deck overwhelm. I have a big collection, and even though my working decks only form a small proportion of that collection, I often feel like my attention is spread too thinly. This is particularly true now that I have decks in my shop, as I try to give a little airtime to all the tarot and oracle decks I carry in the store. Of course, having the means to build a large collection of tarot decks is hardly something to complain about, and I am gratefully that I'm able to pursue my passion in this way. Sometimes, though, all these deck options can feel like a double-edged sword.

Periodically, I think about using a single deck for all my work for one month... and then I break out in a cold sweat and try to pretend I never had the thought. Different decks serve different purposes, and each deck brings its own unique sensibility to a reading. Not to mention, at different phases of one's life - even different seasons - some decks feel more resonant than others. Decks that I thought essential to my tarot practice two years ago now don't speak to me at all. Decks that I thought would never ring my bell (like the Sakki Sakki Tarot) are now at the top of my reading rotation. 

Having said all of that,  it's a hypothetical question, so calm the heck down! But it does seem valuable to ask the question - what is essential to me in a tarot deck? Even if it's just at this moment that the answer resonates. What do I need out of a deck? And out of a group of decks, what sensibilities and styles would I want to capture? 

Ok, quit stalling. If I were going into tropical exile for a while, which decks would I choose to take with me?

Five_Desert_Island_Tarot_Decks

1. The Spirit Speak by Mary Elizabeth Evans

Regular readers won't be surprised to see the Spirit Speak tarot at the top of my list. It's one of my favourites - deeply intuitive, deceptively simple, supportive, clever, clear to read with, and its images have a kind of bendable quality that really encourages personal interpretations. Something about the stark, symbolic style of the deck allows me, as a reader, to be more receptive. I like having those blanks to intuitively fill in!

(By the by, the pictured second edition of the Spirit Speak Tarot is on the way out, but Beth over at Little Red Tarot still has some copies in stock!)

2. Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot

It wouldn't be a desert island exile without the mermaids! Once again, if you're a regular around these parts, you'll know how I feel about Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot. It sticks quite closely to the symbolism of the Rider-Waite-Smith, but with sailors and mermaids and hot, seaside babes of indeterminate genders. It reminds me of the riot grrrl zines I loved as a teenager, so fresh and raw and beautiful. If any of that makes it sound like it's not a practical deck to work with, don't be fooled - these mermaids read well! And hey, if anyone is going to help me get back to civilisation (and the rest of my tarot collection), it'll be these seasoned sailors.

3. The Sakki Sakki Tarot by Monica Clio Sakki

I mentioned above that the Sakki Sakki Tarot was a slow grower for me. When I first became aware of it a few years back I was immediately certain it wasn't for me, but when our paths crossed more recently, something about it just clicked. Perhaps it's the emphasis on creative practice (this deck includes an additional trump, The Artist), which is increasingly what I use tarot for in my own life, or perhaps my taste has just lightened up, but I love this playful, colourful, and sometimes-abstract tarot deck. It has a kind and slightly silly vibe, and always gives supportive and practical readings. Definitely essential for lightening the mood when one's desert island exile is getting one down!

4. The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans

At this point, The Wild Unknown Tarot doesn't require much of an introduction. It's one of my workhorse decks, ready to take on any and all types of queries, treading a perfect balance between the practical and the esoteric. I use it for clients and for myself, and thus far haven't read for anyone who didn't respond to its nature-inspired images. Somehow, The Wild Unknown never seems to run out of juice! Handy if we're spending a year together, trapped on an island.

5. The Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi and Kwon Shina

The Dreaming Way Tarot is an old favourite of mine. In fact, it was one of the first decks I bought back when I started getting serious about tarot, and unlike some of the decks I've worked with over the years, the shine has never worn off. Like The Wild Unknown, it's a workhorse deck that reads well under practically all circumstances. Perhaps there won't be wifi on my desert island so I may not be doing many client readings, but this is one of the decks I use most frequently when reading professionally because it's very accessible, even to the casual user. And don't get me started on the outfits! With this as my inspiration, I'll be carving out a fine silhouette in my Ariel-style sail canvas island attire.

I ummed and ahhed over this list for weeks, knowing that whatever five decks I decided upon would be subject to change at a moment's notice! Who knows what five decks I'd deem essential in a week, a month, year?

For now, though, these are my picks. What are your five desert island tarot decks? I'd love to know! As ever, leave me a comment below or come and give me the lowdown on Twitter.

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Making Friends with the Vessel Oracle Deck

by Marianne in


I am a huge fan of Mary Elizabeth Evans' Spirit Speak Tarot, so it comes as no surprise that her new oracle deck, Vessel, was very highly anticipated around here! After seeing sneaky peeks of it on instagram for weeks before its release, I am so pleased to have this baby in my hot little hands. Now that I've had a little time to get to know it, I thought I'd share a bit of a tour around this deck, so you can see it for yourself.

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago I spoke to Mary about this new creation and she gave such in-depth and thoughtful insights into her work - a must read

I've said before that I'm not crazy about oracle decks (tarot structure nerd, hello!) but honestly, that is beginning to shift. There used to be a few exceptions to the rule, but now, I'm using a whole variety of oracle decks more and more. When reading for myself, I use them almost exclusively these days - what's that about, I wonder? I think I have to credit the amazing creators working in this space for that shift - there really is an oracle deck out there now for every approach and aesthetic taste! Vessel is definitely a deck after my own heart. 

vessel_oracle_deck

The first thing that bears a mention is the sturdy and sweet packaging. This box seems tough enough to survive all manner of handbag misadventures! The cards come in a very structurally sound gatefold box with a magnetic closure - a very nice touch! Nice touches are really the name of the game with this deck, as we find inside, the box is lined with Mary's heart illustrations, a detail that makes the whole package so delicious and pleasing to the eye.

The deck itself is comprised of thirty-five cards, and comes with a little white book on glossy paper with short meanings for each card. Perhaps I'm alone in this, but I really like that the cards are not numbered. Maybe it's my tarot structure nerd busting in and trying to take meaning from everything, but I often find the numbers on oracle cards distracting if they aren't meaningful! Here, there are no numbers to get in the way, just a word or phrase, and Mary's evocative and strange illustrations. Fear not, the book is arranged alphabetically, so even without numbers it's easy to look up the card in front of you. 

Vessel_Oracle_LWB

Getting into the deck itself, it's interesting to see the contrast between this deck and its predecessor. The Spirit Speak Tarot can be quite stark (which is one of the things I like about it), but Vessel is all warm pinks and love hearts. For my 80s and 90s babes, you could say the whole thing has a bit of a Weetzie Bat feel to it! It also brings to mind that other 90s cultural icon, the heart-shaped box, because this deck encourages us to think about the range of emotions that our hearts can hold and work through. As the creator herself says,

The idea is that our hearts are like vessels that contain our emotions and feelings. Looking at it that way makes me feel less consumed by one feeling because there is space for them all. Some feelings or emotions just need to be acknowledged or worked through and call for our energy.

Vessel reminds us that our emotional bodies are the stage for this rich aspect of life. By working with this deck, we can come to know our hearts more deeply, to heal their wounds, and open ourselves up to the variety of experiences available to us. It's a sweet and comforting idea, but one that runs deep. This is some serious healing business!

In terms of the subject matter of the cards, there are some straight-up warm and fuzzies, like Support, Love, and It Gets Better, while other cards run the gamut from what I would think of as more neutral concepts, like Choice, Make, and Freedom. Others take us into more challenging territory, with Fear, Anxiety, Defeat.

It's interesting to me, though, that the cards I consider to be positive, neutral, or challenging, might be rather different for someone else. What makes this deck so powerful is that while the emotions it describes are universal, our individual experience of them will be utterly unique. As a good card deck should, these simple concepts can be read in myriad ways, and each card offers many layers of potential interpretation, ready to be informed and coloured by the reader's intuition and personal experience. A simple idea like Rest or Movement can be made rich with complex and individual associations.

When I first sat down with Vessel, I did what I usually do after flipping through all the cards and oohing and ahhing over the packaging. I asked it what it wanted me to know - about its nature, and how it would like to be used. This was my first draw - 

Vessel_Oracle_Cards

POWER - LOVE - HEALING - BEGIN. You don't need to tell me twice! Vessel is clearly ready to get to work, to unleash connection, meaning, and heart healing. I'm looking forward to using it in my own readings, and also throwing a card or two into client tarot readings, too!

Vessel, as well as its sister deck, The Spirit Speak Tarot, is available from Two Sides Tarot now! As ever, shipping is free within Australia. If you're in the UK or Europe, you can find both these wonderful decks at Little Red Tarot, or directly from the creator in the United States.

What are your thoughts about Vessel? If it's part of your collection, how have you found working with it? I'd love to know, so do leave me a note in the comments!


Hearts Like Vessels: An Interview with Mary Elizabeth Evans

by Marianne in ,


People, I am super jazzed today - like, spirit fingers level jazzed - for two reasons. Firstly, the Spirit Speak Tarot and the Vessel oracle deck are now live and ready to ship in my little shop! Huzzah! I love both of these wonderful decks and I'm so happy to be able to share them with you through Two Sides Tarot.

The second reason for my spirit fingers is even more exciting, if you can believe it possible! Today on the blog, we are visited by the creator of Vessel and Spirit Speak, Mary Elizabeth Evans. The woman herself! Mary very kindly took the time to share the story of her new oracle deck, the ins and outs of her creative practice, her favourite deck recommendations, and some tips for working with Vessel - not to mention, some unmissable insights about creativity, judgement, and artistic freedom. Pull up a pew, make yourself a cup of tea, and dive in to the world of Mary Elizabeth Evans!

First of all, congratulations on the publication of Vessel, your new oracle deck! I know I'm not the only one who has been eagerly following its development and waiting for publication! Could you tell us a bit about where the idea for Vessel first came from?

Thank you so much Marianne! It’s interesting, after all of the work to make and self publish Vessel, it came out and felt like a dream. Almost like I didn’t make Vessel, it used me to make it. Haha.

At the time when I decided to start working on an oracle deck, I had been very influenced by Doreen Virtue’s “Magical Unicorns Oracle Cards”. I really look up to Doreen Virtue and her oracle decks had become a big part of my practice in teaching and with my clients. Spirit Speak had been the soul focus of my artistic practice and I was applying all of my creative energy into it for around five months. And then after, I was learning how to self publish for the first time. Once the dust settled, I knew I wanted to start working on a new project.

My creative work is truly the most important thing to me. I need my work to process my life experiences, to calm down my anxiety, to ground myself, and to reflect. So, little time goes by before I am itching to start on something new.

I knew soon after making Spirit Speak that I wanted to make a second tarot deck. However, I wasn’t quite ready to jump into that undertaking right away. With a tarot deck, everything is somewhat laid out for you. It has a specific traditional form that it upholds. With oracle decks, they can be wild cards, a free for all. When I decided to start working on an oracle deck, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I did know I wanted them to be easy to understand so people could feel their meaning and intention quickly upon pulling cards.

I feel like Vessel reflects emotions and experiences that I had been going through or mediating on during that time of my life. Looking through my drawings after I was finished, I was a little concerned that they didn’t reflect enough about the human experience being incredibly vast. But, they reflect my own experience, and as that grows, I can continue to make works that show that.  

The name “Vessel” came after the cards were all complete, just like with Spirit Speak. The idea is that our hearts are like vessels that contain our emotions and feelings. Looking at it that way makes me feel less consumed by one feeling because there is space for them all. Some feelings or emotions just need to be acknowledged or worked through and call for our energy.

As my readers are probably aware (because I'm constantly going on about how great it is!), you are also the creator of the Spirit Speak Tarot. How was the process of developing Vessel different - or not! - to your tarot deck?

The process was a little different in ways. Spirit Speak was truly such a gift to me as an artist. It was a way for me to accept my work for what it is. To use my art to make a tool, to connect with others. During that process, I tried my best not to fuss over my drawings, not to re-draw, but just to feel the meaning of the card and let it come out as it may. Looking at my drawings then was like hearing the sound of your own voice. My naive line work, lopsided drawings, the wiggly odd-ness of my forms, honestly made me cringe sometimes. But with making Spirit Speak, I tried to let go of that, to focus on it being a tool, not a “fine art” piece that was going to be under strong critique. That made all the difference because I forced myself to accept the way that I draw. It’s a little sad writing about this now. My art gives me so much, and it’s disappointing that I was so mean and unloving to it for so long.

Anyways, I was going through some deep work with myself as an artist with Spirit Speak. When it was time to make Vessel, I felt much freer from that heavy self judgement. I think you can feel that in Vessel’s attitude too.

As far as my actually physical process went, it was fairly similar. Even though I feel like a free-spirit and my work is wiggly and wild, my process as an artist is very organized and timely. I work best when I make a timeline for my work and a schedule. I like to decide how many drawings I want to make total, how many a week, how much paper will I need?, What kind of pens?. Maybe this is in result of my art-brain being this crazy thing that I am trying to communicate through the tangible world, implicating order keeps balance.

I know you've also been using both decks in your own tarot work with others - how have you found they differ when put to use in readings?

Oh yes! That is the most fun part of a project like this. It is a little indescribable how it feels to read with your own deck. It is such an amazing feeling. How it communicates with you, how it communicates with others. It’s something that is so deeply from you, but also becomes it own little creature at the same time. To me, when I use my own decks, I feel like I am connecting with something very deep within me, and not only seeing a reflection of myself, but having that resonate in my spirit and body. Using them in readings gives them life and I think they appreciate that so much :)

I am having a lot of fun using Spirit Speak and Vessel together. I realize, that each one is like a spiritual portrait of me at the time. I like to see how they are both different but still cut from the same cloth and that they communicate with each other in a really lovely way. 

Backtracking a little bit, could you tell us a little about your artistic background, and how that has informed and influenced the way you envisioned and created your decks? Are there any other disciplines or practices you enjoy that you see as related to your work with tarot and oracle decks? What does your art practice look like, day-to-day?

I have been drawing since I can remember. I drew on my baby dolls, on myself, on my parent’s walls and furniture (which was not always appreciated, haha). My parents kind of let me do my own thing, they gave me art lessons, bought me art supplies, and even gave me dedicated areas to paint on their furniture and house. Making marks is something I have loved since the very beginning. I continued to focus on art through high school and college. Although, I did try to do other things that I felt like might be a more responsible career choices. But, I was never able to convince myself to continue any of those educational avenues and was miserable when I wasn’t making art.

I grew up being a rather unpopular weirdo in a very conservative and religious town. I think a lot of my work comes from this pull. Being in an area that is so highly spiritual has a particular feeling. I went to church growing up, but never felt acceptance or love from the church. I think its grand stories of miracles and its rituals influenced me regardless. What I think now as I revisit these ideas, is that deep down I probably wanted to participate in something spiritual, and it was frustrating that I felt pushed out by my difference in opinion or the fact that I believe in feminism. I don’t feel like the church itself is directly responsible for this, but perhaps the communities it created at the time. Exploring my own spirituality through art has been a positive way for me to heal my past.

I love to explore other mediums. I majored in printmaking and it is one of my artistic passions. I also like to paint and sew. Painting was something I put a lot of energy into during my high school years. Currently I have been focused on metal smithing. Working with gems and metal to create wearable art has been such a joy. In the past year I have been working with the majorly talented and multifaceted artist, Lise Silva. Amongst her many creations, she makes lux and elegant fiber jewelry. We combined her Sacred Knots collection with the brass pendants I had been making at the time to create bold and intricately made art-to-wear necklaces. Each piece had a particular meaning inspired by our mutual love for mysteries of ancient rituals, and for films like The Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.

This year I will be acquiring my bench jewelers certification, learning how to properly work with gold, platinum, and, fine gems. I can’t wait to further explore how my work translates through these mediums & can’t wait to share what I come up with!

My day-to-day art practice changes with what I am working on and what my schedule looks like. But I have little artistic rituals that I do everyday. Costuming and adornment are ways that I honor my creativity every morning. Currently, I have started a new project with a new schedule and have been trying to make 1-2 drawings everyday. It a loose schedule though, it doesn’t align with a certain time of day. Sometimes after I make my tea, answer emails, and send out orders, I will continue to draw. Other days, I will work in the morning and in the evening when I wind down I will start working on my drawings. It makes me the happiest when I have completed at least one drawing for the day. Sometimes I will do a short meditation before I start drawing, other times I will just close my eyes and ask for an image to appear. Other days it’s not so spiritual and I am eating pizza and watching bad TV dramas while I doodle. I mean, who ever said that eating pizza wasn’t a spiritual experience? (Can I get an "Amen", people?)         

As much as you feel comfortable sharing it, what role does tarot have in your own spiritual practice, and how has working with your own art - both making the decks and reading with them - in this setting influenced and shaped your personal journey?

Tarot is a huge part of my spiritual practice. Being a visual artist, working with images through tarot and oracle decks has been so helpful for my own self discovery, healing, and reflection. Working with my own art and decks has brought me to a place of power within my spirituality, to have authority on what it means for me. Before I made the Spirit Speak deck, I kind of felt like the meanings of tarot cards were like a special club. That you needed to study, and be taught, and learn for years before you could practice. And also I felt like I wasn’t able to hold that knowledge for myself, I needed permission or confirmation that I was correct in my understanding of the cards. When I made Spirit Speak, it opened up the idea that my own understanding of spirituality and tarot is just as valid as anyone else’s. And that I could honor other’s opinions and also include mine as well. Not only that, but that all of our understandings could work together to create a rounded view of these cards that illustrate the story of life.

Reading cards for clients as well has very much shaped my spirituality and my personality. Being able to deeply connect with someone you might have just met, to take time out of daily life however crazy or peaceful, to hold space for someone, to listen and to talk. It has given me a wider view on people in general,a less judgmental, more compassionate, and peaceful way of looking at the people around me. Not just the people I love and often interact with, but strangers too. I understand that everyone is here trying to navigate what it means to be them, what it means to walk this earth. It’s not always easy, so I try to give grace to people as much as I can. I think I was a lot more angsty and impatient before I started using cards.

Apart from your own wonderful creations, are there any other decks that you love to work with? Have they been an influence on your own tarot and oracle art? We always love a good deck recommendation around here!

Yes!!! I have a large collection of cards and I love using other decks in my practice. In fact I feel like getting to know other decks has been completely instrumental in my learning of tarot in general. I have a few decks that I am really fond of at the moment and have been using frequently. I have a lot of love in my heart for The Starchild Tarot Deck, by Danielle Noel. Not only is Danielle a huge sweetheart herself, but her cards give a very soft and dreamy interpretation of the tarot. They are able to show you the deep truths and ancient themes of the tarot in a way that feels serene and calm. The artwork itself is also super beautiful. It means a lot that Danielle and I have been able to show each other support as deck makers. Supporting and feeling support from other woman owned, created, and self published works means the world to me. Danielle is coming out with a new deck soon called The Moonchild Tarot and it’s intention is to be the shadow side of the Starchild, I can’t wait to play with that deck as well!

 Two very special Bay Area makers also recently came out with oracle decks. Both are beautiful and unique and I have enjoyed getting to know and play with them recently. The Moon Angels Oracle Deck by Rebekah Erev and Visions: A Crystal Oracle Deck by Jessika Fancy. The community of readers and makers in the Bay Area is so strong and wonderful and I was really happy to meet both of these angels while I was there and acquire their decks. The Moon Angels is unlike any deck I have seen before. Rebekah’s artwork seems very intuitive and her interpretations of the cards are poetic, the deck leaves a lot of room for me to develop my own spiritual understanding of the cards. The Visions deck consist of stunning water colors picturing crystals from Jessika’s own collection. Her voice in the descriptions of the cards feels so warm and encouraging while also confronting the hard stuff. I just feel really lucky to know the makers of these decks and also be able to apply them in my own practice.           

One of my all time favorite decks is The Secret Dakini Oracle by Penny Slinger. I have turned a few friends onto using this deck as well. It was actually the deck that the first person to ever professionally read my cards, Dreamy Eves, the owner of Psychic Sister in Olympia Washington, used in my first ever reading! My mind pretty much exploded that day, and the artwork really affected me. In my experience with the deck I have found that it works from a more cosmic point of view, eliminating the material and humanness, and working from a karmic and deeply spiritual place of reference.

Finally, do you have any advice, guidance or insider tips for working with Vessel?

Vessel has changed the way that I use oracle decks. Before, I would just pull one or two cards, either after a tarot reading or by itself. I still do that, but with Vessel, I started doing 5-10 card readings with them. I think I am always being shown, to play, to experiment, and have fun!            

I think my best advice, and what I am always telling my students, is that you know best what the cards mean to you. Look at the images, what do they make you feel? Are you hearing any words come to mind? Is there something about that image that brings up an event or emotion? Before you grab the booklet, ask yourself first.

There are things that someone who just picked up the Vessel Oracle could say in their understanding of the card that could blow me away and be so accurate and I’m the maker! But that is because their understanding of the card means just as much as mine. Hearing their experience with the card can educate me on what that card wants to say.

The Vessel Oracle wants to help, love, and heal, and you are the one guiding it <3

***

Mary, thank you so much, to the power of a zillion, for sharing all of this with us! I really hope, dear reader, that you've enjoyed finding out a bit more about Mary's art practice and the behind-the-scenes adventures of The Spirit Speak Tarot and Vessel. I think you can see why these decks pack such an energetic punch, coming from the mind and pen of such an intuitive and thoughtful creator!

Both Spirit Speak and Vessel are available from Two Sides Tarot now, and shipping is free within Australia! If you're in the UK or Europe, you can now purchase The Spirit Speak Tarot and Vessel from Little Red Tarot. Readers in the US can find both of these wonderful decks at Mary's website. Mary also has one of my favourite instagram accounts - if you're looking for some beautiful photographs and more images of these decks in action, I recommend following her

Shop all Spirit Speak decks here!


Tarot Decks Have Landed!

by Marianne in ,


The day is finally here! We're under the Aquarius New Moon, the perfect time for declaring dreams and visions, and I'm so excited to announce that some of the best independently published tarot decks in the known universe are now available to peruse and purchase at Two Sides Tarot!

I'm so pleased and proud to say that my humble store is now home to such unique creations as The Wild Unknown Tarot and Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot. I feel I am in illustrious company!

I've been hinting at this new direction, and outright counting down for it for a while now. In truth, the notion has been months - maybe even a year - in the making. In the last year or two, it's been glaringly obvious that the most interesting and innovative work in the tarot world has been coming from enterprising artists, self-publishing and crowd funding. Without wishing to impugn to the wonderful works and illustrious histories of the big esoteric publishing houses, in my opinion, it's been many moons since a new deck from a traditional publisher has really pushed the artistic or philosophical envelope. Instead, we've been blessed with the outsider works of Kim Krans, A. L. Swartz, Dame Darcy, Mary Elizabeth Evans, Danielle Noel, to name but a few, and what blessings they have been! 

Some months ago, I had the thought, "Wouldn't it be great to collect up all these wonderful decks so they could be browsed all together? Wouldn't be good to make a little hub for great tarot art down here in Australia? We don't have anything like that! Don't as many people as possible deserve to have access to all of this amazing work? Shouldn't readers from all over the world be able to find the creme of modern tarot all in one spot? Shouldn't Australian tarot readers be able to enjoy local, or even free shipping for once in their damn lives?!" Of course, I immediately dismissed the idea as crazy, and got on with my life. 

Obviously, that niggling inspiration never went away, and my desire to do what I could to spread the word about all this unique tarot art only grew. After months of constantly recommending obscure or indie decks to my bookshop customers (that I then couldn't supply), to my friends and fellow readers, strangers on instagram, I thought, enough! Let's do this! 

So, here we are. I can't tell you how happy I am to see Dame Darcy, Kim Krans, and Mary Elizabeth Evans sitting side by side, in my little shop! I said a few weeks back that my vision for Two Sides Tarot is for it to be a conduit for goodness. I've been offering readings here to many happy clients for over two years now, and I'm so glad that the Two Sides Tarot goodness portal is now a channel for you to access some of the truly groundbreaking and beautiful tarot decks that I love to use in my practice. 

Head over this-a way to find The Wild Unknown deck and guidebook, and this-a way to find Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot. I'm excited to say, too, that my beloved Spirit Speak Tarot is coming soon, along with Mary Elizabeth Evans' intriguing new oracle deck, Vessel! Yay! So much yay. 

The Two Sides Tarot goodness portal ships to anywhere and everywhere - even the astral plane! Just kidding, although I'll do my best to transmit your purchase to you energetically. My fellow Australians, domestic shipping is free! Head over to the shop, have a stroll, take a look around, make yourself a cup of tea. You might find something you like!

Questions? Comments? Seen a great deck you think I should stock? Drop me a line, or leave a note in the comments below!


Ask the Agony Augury: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by Marianne in ,


The Agony Augury is a regular column here in Two Sides Tarot Land. Think a trusted agony aunt, armed with tarot cards, the Agony Augury is here to take on your most pressing problems and difficult dilemmas! Got a question? Drop me a line, and your quandary might just get answered right here on the blog.

Today's Agony Augury reading comes to you from beautiful Sedona, AZ. It's hard for me to believe that this landscape is even real! I'm currently sitting on the floor of my hotel room, staring out the balcony door at a vast, red cliff, silhouetted against a cloudy sky. Looks like we might get some rain today! My time in the city on this trip was busy, busy, busy, but in the presence of these natural marvels, it feels right to sit down quietly and shuffle the cards once again. I hope this beautiful and energetically charged landscape gives this reading a little extra magic! 

Today's question is a tarot classic! Our seeker is caught between two options, which is hard enough when both options are appealing, but really tough when neither of the roads available seem to offer anything good. Let's get to the question, and see what can be done with this tricky situation.

Dear Agony Augury,

Should I move away or should I stay in this town? The trouble is nothing good has happened since I moved here yet I cant form a vision to move towards either to make me want to relocate. So I feel stuck and trapped. Neither way pulls me. What can you see for me?

Miserable!

Miserable! I'm so sorry to hear you're feeling trapped in this no-good situation. When it came to reading on this question for you, I knew there were two sides to the situation that we needed to take into account. Firstly, the nature of the options at hand - that's a no brainer, and a feature of all decision making tarot spreads. More importantly though, in my opinion, is some investigation into what lurks beneath the decision - what are your hopes, needs, and desires for yourself? I often find that when we're stuck in a depressing situation, our connection to our needs and wants is the first thing to become clouded, which causes the situation to perpetuate itself because it's so hard for us to navigate our way through it. I hope this reading helps you to renew that connection to your inner compass, which in turn will help to guide you onto a more fulfilling path. Shall we get to it?

For your reading, I used the Spirit Speak Tarot. Please forgive the zany hotel carpet in the background!

My first impression after drawing these cards is of things hidden and obscured, of fires burning beneath the surface. If we hoped the solution to your dilemma would be found in the outside world, in a move and a new scene, I think we're going to be disappointed! At a glance, I think getting to the bottom of this situation will require a little work right where you are. I don't know if you find that heartening, but I do think it is an emboldening idea that you can make the best of things, no matter where you are!

1. What do you need to know at this time about staying put where you are? Ace of Wands

I must say, this was a card I did not expect to see here! The smouldering fire of the Ace of Wands is quite a contrast to the bland and suffocating feeling of being stuck in a place where nothing good has happened. It's not entirely unrelated, though. Given that this card is an Ace, I think there is a sense of waiting for things to get started - perhaps you felt that when you moved to this town, your life would really get started, and now that you're here you don't feel all that different. Aces are just the first step, after all, and perhaps some of your disappointment stems from the fact that you hoped you'd feel further down the road by now? Perhaps there's a feeling, too, of being exhausted by starting over in a new place. Making a good life for yourself does take work, and at times, especially when you feel like decisions don't pay off, that can be very tiresome.

As an antidote to the feelings of frustration and weariness that are reflected in this card, I think the Ace of Wands wants you to know that you're in charge of this situation. Key to the suit of Wands is the idea of personal agency, of action and drive and passion, and the message here is that in staying put, you will have to summon these fiery Wands qualities. It is a new beginning for you, and there are bound to be some teething issues, but this feeling of nothing good happening is not the end of the road, oh no! This is just the beginning of your journey in this place, and it is up to you where you take it from here. It's understandable that you're not feeling too fiery and bold since things aren't going well, but you're at a crossroads right now. You have a choice before you - do you throw in the towel, or do you power yourself up and make something of this situation? There is potential here. In order to make the best of this situation, to really start something here and get it flourishing, you will need to summon your fire. Can you do that?

2. What do you need to know at this time about moving away? Eight of Swords

Here's where the idea of things hidden and obscured comes in. The Eight of Swords is all about being unable to see things clearly, a mistaken belief that there's no way forward and no way out. There's also the suggestion of a fixation on circumstances, a preoccupation with how you are being limited by external forces. In this position, I think this card is - if you'll forgive the pun - a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, the message is, you're not really stuck here. You can move if you want to. That rose may be caged by swords, but with a little persistence and poise, she can keep growing up and blossom above the blades that seem to be holding her in. 

On the other hand, I think this card suggests that the idea of escape is unhelpfully preoccupying you. It's easy to point the finger at the town you're living in and say that if only you could go somewhere else, things would be different. This way of thinking about the place you live as a trap is making it hard for you to see what's really going on. Your ambivalence about moving suggests that you're aware of this to some degree, but I think it's very important that you aren't seduced by the idea that you just need to find the right place to live before you can flourish. Look at this rose - she might be penned in by swords, but she's still blooming. Her external circumstances can't diminish her inner capacity for growth. In a nutshell, the Eight of Swords says that the place where you find yourself is not the most important factor in your happiness. You can move if you want to, but the bigger challenge is to find the courage to blossom wherever you are. 

3. What is your biggest need - be it emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual - that is not being met at this time? Two of Cups

Ahh. Herein lies the key - or at least, part of the key - to your troubles. The Two of Cups speaks of the needs of the heart, for connection, love, companionship. To put it simply, I suspect that loneliness and isolation are big factors in your unhappiness where you are. Perhaps a break up was a factor in your move and the wounds are still a little raw, or maybe you've just had a hard time making friends where you are. Maybe being away from family is getting you down. Whether we're talking a lack of romantic, platonic, or familial love (or a combination), it seems that your biggest need right now is to find meaningful connection with other people.

I think the message of this card relates back to the Eight of Swords. You might be finding it easier to tell yourself "This town sucks, I want to move!" than to admit that you're feeling lonely and heartsore. Those feelings are hard to accept, I know, and for many of us it is easier to push them away than to meet them face to face. It's important, though, if you are to get to the bottom of what you want, that you're honest with yourself. Whether you stay or go, reaching out and asking for love and companionship must be part of your journey, because one simply can't live without it! 

4. What is your biggest desire or hope for yourself that isn't being realised at this time? Seven of Swords

Once again, something is being hidden! Perhaps you don't even know what it is! The Seven of Swords is all about the stuff that goes on under cover of darkness, the secrets we keep and the things we get away with. Sometimes this card is about doing something shady or secret, but sometimes it's related to the workings of the subconscious. You'll notice on this card that the figure has her back to us, the face is obscured, which I think suggests that your hopes and desires are bubbling away beneath the surface, obscure even to you! You've said in your letter that you can't form a vision of what to do, and I think this card reflects that. It's hard to see the road ahead when we are turned in the other direction! 

I suspect, though, that at heart, you are holding onto a secret desire. Your dissatisfaction with your living situation might be distracting you from it, or maybe it is more a fear of declaring your intentions that is keeping this desire under wraps. Feelings of shame or unworthiness, or imposter syndrome can also go hand in hand with the Seven of Swords, so it may be that you feel like you have no right to realise this secret hope, and if you go public with it you'll be found out.  Given that our first card is the Ace of Wands, I suspect that this burning, hidden desire is related to a creative project - is there some art that you are secretly desperate to make, an avenue of self expression you want but are afraid to explore? Maybe you're dreaming of starting your dream business, but it all seems too hard and scary? Whatever it is, I think now is the time to start drawing it to the surface. Bringing the Seven of Swords out into the light is going to be a great first step on the road of the Ace of Wands. If you do decide to stay put where you are and make the most of this situation, your hidden desires will have to be spoken aloud!

5. What approach, action, or mindset can you adopt in order to start feeding these needs and desires? Three of Pentacles

It's up to you to decide whether you stay or move on, but I think the bigger issues at play here will still need to be addressed, wherever you find yourself. The Three of Pentacles says that all of this inner turmoil, these unmet needs and secret desires, will be best explored by getting your hands dirty. This probably has something to do with that secret project that tied together the Ace of Wands and the Seven of Swords. This card suggests it's time to take up your tools, whatever they may be, and start putting them to use. Whether this means you apply for your dream job, start writing that poetry, set up your small business, apply for that course, go on some dates, join that life drawing class... Whatever form it takes, the Three of Pentacles says that small, tangible steps towards your goal are the key to overcoming your creative and emotional misery right now, Miserable! 

If you're feeling a bit of that Seven of Swords fear or unworthiness, it's important to remember that this card is just the Three - you aren't expected to be an expert on your chosen path right now. You don't have to be an overnight success, or have a professional qualification in order to get started on this path. These are all mental obstacles and excuses we use to discourage ourselves from getting started, and that isn't helpful right now. If you have the willingness to begin, then you have everything you need to get moving, to start fanning that fiery Ace of Wands and shaping your life from miserable into fulfilling. You can deliberate on whether to move or not, but save some energy for addressing your emotional and creative needs, because chances are, you'll be able to find a way to meet them, no matter where you live. You can start where you are, but just make sure you start!

Miserable, I really hope this reading gives you some food for thought about your situation. I can't tell you whether to stay or go, but I hope I've at least been able to nudge you back in the direction of your own inner compass! May it steer you towards greater fulfilment and happiness!

Much love,

The Agony Augury

Got a tricky problem or juicy dilemma for The Agony Augury? Send it my way! Oh and remember, you can summon The Agony Augury into your inbox by subscribing here.