Quarantine Tarot: My Top 2020 Decks

A year.  An entire year now in basic quarantine.  Even as we phase to reopening, we have only recently become vaccinated enough to start hanging out more, planning events.  Like many tarot readers, I found myself incredibly blacked-out divination-wise during the lockdown.  I didn't want to explore the past, present or future.  I was tired of seeing disaster on every horizon, grief in every path... I just took a break and started focusing on practical crafts to keep my wandering mind busy.  The crushing anxiety of a pandemic, chronic illness, book release and personal losses made everything about reading for my path (or anyone else) just a nauseating thought.  And frankly, I've never gone so long in my life without being asked for a reading, which was honestly a breath of fresh air.  

But, all that aside, I never let go of my love for the cards.  I kept the collection growing, exploring what these incredible authors and artists from around the world have to offer.  And while 2020 may have been the dickiest year I've ever lived through, I have never been so impressed with the direction that cartomancy is taking. If you have been at a loss for inspiration and direction after a year sitting with this ridiculous nonsense of a past year, then maybe some of these fabulous offerings from 2020/21 will give you some fire.  I mean, these decks are fire.


1. The Infernal Tarot by E. Pollitt


I had begun backing this project in 2020 and it is a phenomenal deck, one that should prove very interesting for readers into that old-world demonology vibe.  Bendy, smooth, thinner cardstock, great gold edges, the etching/woodblock style is fascinating and the colors were a nice slash against the more muted background.


2. Materia Prima by Uusi


Uusi is basically the premium deck maker of our day with some really astonishing offerings in their catalogue, this large deck based on the periodic elements and their relationship to our universe is an interconnected journey through the spiritual interpretation of science and really takes some getting used to.  Those who know their chemistry will really excel with this deck, but people a little less familiar with the science will need to make sure they get the booklet that accompanies.  Perfect cardstock, silky and probably some of the highest quality you can get. Unboxing below...


3. Jonasa Jaus 5th Edition

Every green witch in the world needs this deck.  It's literally green!  And yellow, and black, and white.  It's seriously a wonderful pallet.  Floral, feminine, sensual and emotional, it is my favorite overall artwork for the 2020 picks and I highly recommend ordering her other editions as well.  What I loved was that the cards tell everyone a different story, and they tell me the story of a lush, wild, shaded garden and a woman's romantic journey through it. All of the editions are fascinating, and this edition is wider than a typical deck, but not too difficult to shuffle.  I'm a big fan of the overall aesthetic and you will be too. Unboxing below...


4. Ad Orbita

A wonderful offering through Old Rose Press is an interesting combination of nature and space, teaming planets and stars with rooted vines and seashells.  For those who prefer to do some work in interpreting and who dig the poetry of the abstract, this deck is very appealing.  While the cards are a bit heavy, and the deck is thick enough to be a little difficult for a traditional shuffle, I can't complain because as always, the quality is just so damn fine and the simplicity is refreshing.


5. True Heart Intuitive Tarot

Beloved figure in the world of witchy media Rachel True brings us a long awaited gift that really stood out last year in the best way.  Offering hope, guidance, positivity, color and inclusion, this deck was a splash of good vibes in a dreary year, and really reflects the wonderful evolution of tarot styles.  Frankly this is the deck I'd get anyone looking to start because it is so easily interpreted.  The packaging was great, the accompanying booklet was thorough and useful and frankly the whole thing looks really unique and classic at the same time.


Seriously, if you need to reawaken during these, the vaccine times, then these decks are ready to guide you.

North American Witches

Cover-art by A. Jimenez, from Folkloric Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience by Via Hedera


Nightflyer, Spirit Wanderer-  we fly in our dreams, or by other means, alone or in teams, under moon beams, on the backs of horses, without their skins, to the hilltop with the Devil and all of his friends.


Shapeshifter-
changing into beetles, black and fat; wandering through keyholes as a frog or a cat. To unshoe horses or just to make mischief, or to haunt the barn like a common milk-thief.


Healer- of the living


Hexer- unforgiving


Diviner of unknown things: tells fortunes from eggs and rings, makes friends with the damned and reads omens in hands and sees whatever your future will bring.


Conjuror of spirits- who dwells between worlds, who opens doors for the dead; and makes spirits tremble as they wander the wood, in awe, and in honor, and dread.


Speaker to bees,

Fly as we please;

Worshiping at idols,

And braiding our bridles.

Knotting up love charms,

Cursing your side-arms.

Summoning the blue-jay,

keeping rivals away,

put lizards inside you,

make nightmares that ride you.

Snake-rooter, dairy looter,

Hair-ball and bullet-shooter.

Hilltop matron,

Crossroad patron.

Hair-tangler--

Mind-mangler;

Bone-boiler,

And body oiler.

Through a keyhole,

And through the sieve;

Dancing at Midsummer and All Hallows' Eve.

Through thick, through thin
and way over the hillside;
we are new world witches,
and that's how we ride.

-Via Hedera

Vernal Awakening: News, Revisions and Spring


Awakening:

It's up to the cherry blossoms and dandelions now... it's up to the sun and the new day.

Whoa this has been a lot.  I mean a lot.  Have you ever stood in the shallows only to look over your shoulder at a massive wave as it inevitably rolls towards you?  I have.  I remember that moment on a beach in California.  Vague memories of visiting the wildlife center, and then down to a crowded beach with waves so sudden and high, they scared me to death.  That what Spring has been since last I wrote here- a tremendous wave coming right at me.  Thrilling, fun, daunting, humbling, sad.

Out there, beyond the walls of pre-vaccinated restrictions, there is a world itching to open up.  We plan to hit the road for summer, see the Oregon high desert, Yosemite, the Bay and back up the Coast again, scouting new living locations along the way.  We're westerners to our bones and prefer to stay over here, but the world is changing and it's time to go see it.  Spring is about movements, and we are all so jittery.

If you're feeling very jittery, one way to pass the time is by going outside- to the garden, wide-open parks, to the greenbelts, national parks to places where the land is greening and changing (and you can be safely distanced from others).  Watch those changes each time you go to a place, the turning of buds overnight into bushels of flowers, the awakening of spiders in every corner.  Remind yourself that life is a cycle, and it is always changing to a rhythm.  Not much left to do after that but dance the jitters out.


Spring:

Did you know that I have a YouTube channel?  Featuring folk charms in real life; everything from clay withering hearts, to tarot unboxing, to black witch-bottles  The channel hasn't been updated in a little while due to winter/covid, but now that the daylight has returned, so will the videos.  I'm working on covering every aspect of folk-magic that I find interesting, including rat-letters and egg fortunes.  Mostly. I'm aiming to get better equipment and take more time to show off the beauty of the Northwest.

Updates:

Last I wrote here, I was waxing poetic on the sweetness of Valentines Day, but since then there's been a lot of spring changes; small improvements to my long declining lung health, a scheduled vaccine, a new bunny buddy, a book debuted to kind and compassionate responses, I've finished a bunch of deadlines and now have more time for art, parks volunteer opportunities are restarting for the spring, I'm transferring to complete my major, looking to leave the area and start new adventures elsewhere... but then again, who isn't trying to move right now?   Seems like the pandemic has given us all the itch to get closer to family and further from the expense of the metro areas...  I guess we're all free-falling a bit, standing before the wave...

I've been getting a lot of wonderful questions and feedback about my statues, the writing and some of my social media content and it's been incredibly humbling and kind.  Being able to speak with the fine folk over at That Witch Life Podcast was a highlight of my year honestly, they were so welcoming and forward and funny and open-- it's that kind of energy that makes me grateful for the community we've built- a sentiment I expressed recently with Cory over at New World Witchery Podcast.  It's always a pleasure to speak to Cory, to bond over our mutual appreciation for so much magical shit in the world.  And if you somehow didn't know, Cory has a new book out that you simply MUST have in your collection!

Those of us flying free on that wild magic seem to be coalescing into a mutually respectful and supportive niche community of witchy weirdos and being able to nerd out like this the last month or two has brought me some incredible peace at a time of incredible fear and stress in the world.  A huge de-stressor was hanging with Lori over at My American Melting Pot Podcast and vibing on the mystique and media of witchery.  Hanging out with so many writer and speakers and thinkers in the world of multiculturalism and magic has been incredibly humbling, and I'm thankful for it.


Authors Note: A Vital Revision to Folkloric Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience: A Crucible at a Crossroads

In the process of writing and publishing we meet all sorts of challenges and difficulties.  Most authors I talk to walk away feeling just a little more anxiety, as there are always parts of their books that needed  a seconds more attention in the editing process.  While there are a few noticeable inconsistencies in the punctuation and typeface, a glaring error that must be addressed is the misidentification of the tribal affiliation of story-teller Vi Hilbert, who belongs to the Upper Skagit people of the Pacific Northwest and is a revered figure in the cultural restoration movement of Lushootseed-speaking tribes of the Puget Sound.  It is imperative that I correctly identify this elder and I apologize for this mis-affiliation and ask that readers please make a note of this change going forward in current editions, and be aware that that e-books will be updated and print editions revised going forward.  With love, support and acknowledgement to the first people of the Pacific Northwest and their traditional territories.


"by way of ivy"
via Hedera

Valentine VVitch


“Of flowers and plants employed as love-charms on certain festivals may be noticed the bay, rosebud, and the hempseed on St. Valentine’s day, nuts on St. Mark’s Eve, and the St. John’s Wort on Midsummer Eve.- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, The Folk-lore of Plants


St. Valentine's day, a day imbued with the folk magic of love and romance; more common to the early American superstitious fabric of the common people than the old pagan fertility rites are.  There's something about Valentine's that makes love magic feel normal in the world for a moment, for everyone, even those who would typically never dabble in magic.  It's a social more than spiritual day, and there's something strangely likeable about the energy as it shifts and people put passion and love and thought into romance and friendship and desire.

"Before going bed, sprinkle a sprig of rosemary ad a sprig of thyme three times with water, place one in each shoe, put a shore on each side of the bed and say: “St. Valentine that’s to lovers kind,
Come ease the trouble of my mind,
And send the man that loves me true
To take the sprigs out of my shoe.”"

- Morrison, Lillian, p. 23, Touch Blue



"All who walk on St. Valentine's day should wear a yellow crocus; it is the Saint's especial flower and will ward off all evil in love."
- C.L Daniels, Encyclopedia of superstitions, folklore, and the occult sciences of the world

Love Magic,  that's my bailiwick.  Where sweet tastes meet rough feelings, where fury meets frenzy, where want and infatuation are a detonation... that's the realm I most enjoy.  It is not always moral, it is not always wise.  It is a short fire, one that burns quick and lingers after.  I like the kind of magic that send shivers up your legs when you reminisce about it years later.  Red magic, that's what this is to me.  That place where amorous and relentless spirits reside; the ones they talk about in the old folklore, you know, the succubae and night riding hag, the specter who tangles the hair of men in their sleep.  I don't dabble in it for myself much, but I love working with and for others.  Never direct love spells; no names used, no pictures of specific people- I've got my rules, my hard-stops.  But to inspire lust?  Spells of attraction, charms of allure, bewitching cosmetics and persuasive incantations... now that, I do.  St. Valentine's day has become one of the many days of romance and love that I dedicate a moment of my life to that red and pink and wild magic.

Bird Augury
It was believed once that birds pick their mates on St. Valentine’s day. Those birds of specific color who foretell the occupation of a future lover on St. Valentine’s day:

A blackbird- a man of the clergy

A redbreast- a sailor

A goldfinch- a millionaire

A yellowbird- a reasonably rich man

A sparrow- love in a cottage

A bluebird- poverty

A crossbill- a quarrelsome husband

A wryneck- no marriage

A flock of doves- good luck in marriage in every way

A seahawk- 11 handsome hard-headed, broad-shouldered husbands and a rainy wedding


"If you meet a bird in a scarlet vest on St. Valentine's day, you will follow your love to the beat of the drum."

"If you chance on that day to meet a goldfinch or any yellow bird, it is extremely lucky."

- C.L Daniels, Encyclopedia of superstitions, folklore, and the occult sciences of the world


It may not be some ancient pagan festival- a far cry from the old Lupercalia of Rome, but it is the modern feast of love itself in the Western World, and we folk witches find magic in everywhere we can, especially in the old charms, tricks and incantations associated with St. Valentine's day. Just like Midsummer, May day, Halloween and New Year's, St. Valentine's day was ripe for the practice of love spells and romantic magic.  As always, divinations and fortunes are the popular pastime of the day; involving bay leaves and sprigs of rosemary, involving sweet scented waters and warm fires.  Hail to all those red and wild spirits that fill the day with kindness and passion.

Incantation spoken when tossing a pinch of salt into a fire every Friday for three Fridays: “It is not this salt I wish to burn,
it is my lovers heart to turn,
that he may neither rest nor happy be,
until he comes and speaks to me.”
-Salt in the Fire Charm, p. 13- Duncan Emrich, The Folklore of Love and Courtship


“A popular charm consisted of placing two bay leaves, after sprinkling them with rose-water, across the pillow, repeating this formula:
“Good valentines, be kind to me,
On dreams let me my true love see.”"

- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, The Folk-lore of Plants



Further Reading:
  • The Folklore of Love and Courtship- Duncan Emrich
  • Touch Blue- Lillian Morrison
  • Love Charms- Elizabeth Pepper
  • The Folklore of Plants- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer
  • Magical Symbols of Love and Romance- Richard Webster

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