Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ostara Blog Hop: Lily Renewed

Final card - Martagon Lily

For those who don't yet know, the Celtic Lenormand is a 45 card deck due to be published by US Games later this summer.  While it is a standard Lenormand which can be read following that deck's tradition, it also has pagan influences.  For instance, there are associations between the cards and the eight sabbats on the Wheel of the Year.  These can be used for timing questions, or as a focus for readings around the sabbats.

Last year, I posted about the Lily card as part of that Ostara blog hop.  The responses I received to that post led to the card being overhauled.  So, I'd like to share those changes with you all, as part of this blog hop focused on renewal.

Lily of the Valley version
Originally, I thought to have a Lily of the Valley on this card.  White lilies are fairly common in Lenormand decks, and the Lily of the Valley also has connections to the Goddess Eostre, linked to this pagan celebration.  However, it turns out that the Lily of the Valley is no longer considered a true lily (it used to be, but botanists changed their minds!)  Combining that with the fact that traditionally the Lenormand Lily is associated with the King of France in particular (linked through the Fleur de Lys), and wise, older men in general (through the King of Spades playing card association), I decided to choose a different, true lily for this depiction. 

The Martagon Lily combines the purple of royalty (and spiritual enlightenment) with the more masculine protruding stamen you now see in the card.  I placed it at the foot of a great oak, to suggest the wisdom of age, and the commanding, masculine virtues of the Greenman/King of Spades.  As well as the association to an older man, the card can also be linked to sexuality (those protruding stamen and its pink/purple colour), and to harmony and balance (the wisdom brought by experience, and the purple of the crown chakra).  These associations connect well with this time of year, too, a time of renewal.  After all, you can get that feeling of renewed energy and vigour both from finding a better harmony and balance in your life and from enjoying your sexuality!


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Imbolc Blog Hop: The Making of the Songbirds

Final image

Our wrangler on this blog hop is the delightful Christiana Gaudet.  As someone inspired by the Goddess Brigid, whose festival this is, she suggested we talk about divination, healing and creativity, and that fits just perfectly with the card I chose to represent this spoke on the Wheel of the Year.

The card is one variant on the Birds: there are three in this deck (including the Owls, which you can see here).  You can use all three, or pick the one you prefer to stick to the traditional number of Lenormand cards.  This one is the Songbirds, and shows three songbirds sitting on a branch, looking out over a frosty winter's morning.

When thinking about timing for the Celtic Lenormand, I considered nature-based ways of connecting with the seasons.  The old saying "one swallow does not make a spring" emphasises the idea that when songbirds migrate back to more northerly climes, it does not mean that the warmer weather has actually arrived.  So, while it is still chilly, we may yet see some of these lovely, colourful creatures.

Original "Cliodna" birds
Another association I had with the Birds was a connection to the Goddess.  And researching Celtic Goddesses, I found Cliodna.  As one source describes, she had three birds, one blue with a crimson head, one crimson with a green head, and one golden with a speckled head.  However, when Will painted the card that way, the contrast between the songbirds and the misty morning landscape just didn't work.  We tried a couple of variants, before agreeing to the finished card, which no longer respects the myth, but is more true to real-life birds you might see in the British Isles.

Another facet of the Cliodna story is that the birds could heal the sick with their song, a theme often found in myth and fairytale.  And of course, with the connection to Brigid and her power of healing, that also seemed to fit well with this sabbat.

Birds are also often associated with being messengers.  We see this in ideas around divination, be it watching the flight patterns of birds or looking at their entrails.  And we also find it in traditional Lenormand meanings for the Birds card, which include conversations and telephone calls.  The Birds can also represent nervous energy and anxiety, which would then call for the healing these Songbirds offer - finding the solution in the issue that the darker side of the card portrays.

Now, onwards to more thoughts and ideas around divination, healing and creativity...


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Yule Blog Hop: The Light of the Moon


Wow, look at that!  It's been a year since the Celtic Lenormand first posted as part of the Tarot Blog Hop.  Last Yule, the cards for this deck weren't finished, and I shared a spread that will be in the companion book.  This year, I would like to share the finished card that represents this spoke on the Wheel of the Year in the pagan-themed Celtic Lenormand deck. 

Our wrangler, the Sun Goddess herself, Joanne, presented us with our theme: turning darkness into light.  And that's an interesting one to consider in the light of the Moon, so to speak.  The Moon travels around the earth and around the sun, and brings light to our nights by reflecting the sun's rays.  And yet, it is still nighttime, despite the light.  In the same way, Yule is still midwinter, the longest night, even if it does reflect the point after which days once again start to get that little bit longer.  So, it was the Moon card that I chose to represent Yule in the Celtic Lenormand.

The black-and-white sketch is incredibly atmospheric, yet I still prefer the colour version.  Interestingly, Will suggested that the dark of a moonlit night be painted in green, as he has in other decks.  It's also a choice made by several artists from the Victorian era, heroes of his, such as John Atkinson Grimshaw.

I adore the play of the light on the water in this image, and the way the rocks stand out, jagged and sharp.  The clouds, too, are very atmospheric, and the moon itself is shadowed and textured. 

One meaning of the Moon in the Lenormand system is about reputation and fame, the way we are reflected in other people's eyes and minds.  This can be seen as coming from the fact that the Moon reflects the sun's light, and is also why I put the reflection in the water in the Celtic Lenormand image.  Another meaning is that of emotion, not necessarily just happy, loving emotions (more the realm of the Heart).  Hence the deep waters and jagged rocks.

Here's hoping you enjoy the Moon's light on this longest night: that it helps illuminate how others see you, and how you feel.


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Samhain Blog Hop: The Making of the Burial Mound

©McCracken & Worthington
Previous / Master / Next

Welcome to another hop around the world via the blogs of tarotists and other diviners :)  Our wrangler this time is the wondrous Alison Cross, who asked us to talk about love.  Well, that's a tough one as I love many things about this Celtic Lenormand deck!  One of the things that makes it rather different, though, is the fact that it uses the Pagan sabbats rather than days, weeks, months and years to look at timing.  I also love this season, with its spectacular colours and the suggestion to take time to look inward and to connect with those who have passed.  Honouring our forebears is something which I am finding more and more relevant as I grow older.

Connecting all these dots, I would like to share with you the card that I designed for this spoke of the Wheel of the Year: the Burial Mound (Coffin).  It's one of my favourite images in the whole deck: I think Will Worthington did an exquisite job on it!
©McCracken & Worthington

This card was a slightly tough one, as the Celts didn't bury their dead in coffins, instead inhumating them (putting the whole body inside a burial mound in the earth).  Still, I tried to capture both the traditional aspects of the Coffin card, and also to honour celtic practices.  So, in this card there is a crow flying off to the left, to echo the black pall often found draped on the left side of Coffin cards.  The crow also points to the sickness interpretation of this card, as they are known to feed on carrion, the meat of animals that may have sickened and died.

The mists emphasise the idea of the thinning of the veil between the worlds at this time, as well as adding an edge of uncertainty to the card.  The dark of the inside of the tomb echoes the dark of the grave into which a coffin is lowered, and also lends more eeriness to the card.  Yet, the slight crescent moon in the sky above reminds us that new beginnings follow endings, no matter how dark they seem at the time, and that even in times of sickness, there is hope of improvement.

A dark, but beautiful card, then, and one I hope you will love as much as I do.  My partner refused to have a print of it on our wall, finding it too dark, but I think it's wonderful, deeply atmospheric!

Previous / Master / Next

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Prototype on Show

This week, I will be running a workshop at the UK Tarot Conference on ways to combine the tarot and the Lenormand in readings.  The Celtic Lenormand will be there, both in prototype form, and in the images on the slides of my presentation.  On top of that, I've created a slideshow with a selection of the images from the deck - 33 of the final 45.  Wouldn't want to give away everything, with still 5 or 6 months to go until the deck is to be published!

So, if you're anywhere near London, why not think about attending?  And if not, well, I'll keep sharing more images here over the coming weeks and months - ever the ambassador spreading the word of the Celtic Lenormand :)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Mabon Blog Hop: The Making of the Meadow

©McCracken & Worthington
Welcome to another Tarot Blog Hop!  You may have hopped forward from Tarot Trends, or back from Pure Blessed Tarot, depending on which way round you like to go.  Or maybe you found your way here from the Celtic Lenormand Facebook page, or somehow else.  Whatever the case, I hope you'll make your way round the hop, there are sure to be plenty of interesting posts!  And if you get lost along the way, here's the Master List.

For this hop, our wrangler, Christiana Gaudet, invited us to look at myth as it connects to the cards.  What I'd like to offer is a look at the card that I chose to represent this spoke on the Wheel of the Year in the Celtic Lenormand, and the myths that might be associated with it.

In traditional decks, this card would be the Garden.  While there is much evidence of the Celts being involved in agriculture, there is little evidence of them having gardens.  And those they did have were more of the kitchen-garden variety.  Whereas the Lenormand garden was originally based on the Parisian (or generally city) practice of going for a walk or ride in the local gardens to see and be seen.  It is connected with socialising, events, and hospitality, as well as our public persona.

To represent that idea, I decided to rename the card Meadow, and show a space prepared for the gathering of a village or tribe to celebrate the Mabon harvest, focused more on fruits than on wheat, though that is present, too.  Of course, one myth we see here is that of celebrating Mabon.

There is plenty of discussion as to whether or not people in the past actually celebrated any or all of the 'pagan' festivals which are highlighted today.   And strangely, the myths associated with Mabon refer to Beltaine as the time of his birth and to the Winter Solstice as the time of his rescue from imprisonment by King Arthur's knights.

The naming of the second harvest for Mabon is probably a later pagan association, connecting with the idea of the cyclical battle between the Summer and Winter Gods.  The young Son/God defeats the old to win a wife and continue the cycle of life, bringing fruitfulness to the earth.  The time when Mabon is imprisoned could be associated with the harvest and the storing up of those fruits over the winter.

Yet, even if Mabon is a name only later associated with the time of harvest, there is clear evidence of harvest festivals from the past.  Though they may not have fallen on this exact date, the fact of giving thanks for the fruits of the season would have been a common occurrence.  And gathering to celebrate that as a village or tribe would have been one of the times when groups came together, seeing friends old and new, telling tales of the trials of the year, and generally socialising and putting on a public face.  So, though not exactly a Garden, the Meadow fits the spirit of the Lenormand card, and the spirit of this turn of the Wheel.

Now, for more myths and cards, please hop on over to Pure Blessed Tarot.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Wheel of the Year

Image from White Goddess
In the Tarot Blog Hop posts since last Yule, I've been writing about the eight cards in this deck which are associated with the festivals of the pagan Wheel of the Year.  You might wonder what these cards are intended for, when reading with the Celtic Lenormand.

Timing is something which a lot of people ask about, and having a simple system to look at it was my intention with these cards.  One possibility is to use them in specific spreads to look at the energies around that time of year in particular, as I did for the Yule blog hop back in December 2012.  This can be done not just with a nine square reading, but also with simpler lines of 3, 5, 7 or 9, or with more complex spreads such as the Master spread.

Another thing you can do with these sabbat cards is to look around each one in a Grand Tableau, to assess the timing of certain situations and events.  Or, as with the timing board system, you can re-shuffle the cards after a GT and lay them again, looking to the sabbat card houses for the timing of the events you saw in the GT. 

And speaking of the Wheel of the Year, the next post on this site will coincide with Mabon, on the 22nd of September at 7pm BST.