Wednesday, November 30, 2016


I have read recently that the witch is born out of the needs of her time and is drawn or summoned to the place ehich most needs her particular powers. The other side of this one is of course that the witch will be faced with the same stuff repeatedly until she deals with it. I would also add that in the situation of working magic, sometimes the results confirm or disprove what you thought was happening in the first place, just like a doctor checking his diagnosis if the treatment he has prescribed doesn't work.
I have heard that one of the directors of my former employers is leaving; of course I refer to the one who finally pissed me off enough that I walked out. Funny that. It also confirms for me that despite being well loved in the department I wound up in (by people she has manipulated), another colleague's verdict of her as a turd was right.
I must however deny any magical responsibility for the recent flood in Selly Oak, since a friend thought it had me written all over it. The level of havoc would be very me but I keep my havoc from the innocent.
What is more characteriatic of my magic is giving people what they think they want. Zippy's fate is very me, for example. She's tried to adopt for a second time - the same baby that is, and the council rightly keep taking the baby off her and giving it to members of its own family. Normally I would feel sorry for a woman in this position, but Zippy is so psychopathic that whatever she does will always fail. Easy magic that, then.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tarot: 6 of Cups as Spring Cleaning

Yesterday my card for the day was 6 of Cups. I am quite sure I have written before about what a nightmare of a tarot card that is for me personally, since I believe that I naturally tend to interpret it in an ordinarily 'reversed' sense of referring to the past and the future in all its senses, including the effect of past trauma on the future.
In addition to the theme of being free which has been manifesting in my life recently, there has also been a theme of having a clear out. One of the reasons I am free is that so many things have been cleared out of my life which either no longer serve me or were wrong to start off with. My previous employers is the obvious one, and while not being a hoarder I have had a clear out at home while I have been off work and of course that is one of the classical magical ways to clear away psychic gunk.
There is a universal human way of having a clear out which we all engage in (except Edina Monsoon, who has colonic irrigation) and it is not for nothing that anciently there was a Roman goddess of the sewers, and having a clear out was one of the classic ways of making her an offering. Did I happen to mention that this blog is about real witchcraft and not fluffiness? The point of this physiological function of course is that ironically while faecal matter is the waste from our bodies, it actually can provide nourishment for things further down the food chain, so by having a clear out we are actually creating our own continuing life and future.
This may not seem to have anything to do with the 6 of Cups, but I'm about to make a connection in my own way. The usual association for that card is the past, in other words the things which are gone, and in fact Etteilla's reversed keyword for this card is the future, making the connection in a more subtle way between the past and the future I make above. There is an element of examining the past in this card, and in fact I can now see it as a collection of cups or things from the past, to be examined one by one and being kept or thrown out. The children looking at the cups represent the past and it is not without siginifcance that the adult male figure is walking away from the scene, because he isn't looking over the past but walking away from it to the future. In that light the message of this card is very clearly to look over the past if necessary, and then leave it in the past and move on.
And that is exactly what I plan to do in my own situation. At this point I need to leave the past as it is, and unless my registration body cause me to take action about the problems I experienced in my previous employment, that is where it will remain.
Another aspect of this 'spring cleaning', just as in the case of clearing out the house, is to make ones own psychic space free from other people's junk. That collection of six cups don't necessarily belong in the house, of course, and having a psychic clearout bears a surprising resemblance to clearing out the attic. Some of the junk we find ourselves accumulating can stay, some can find a new home which will appreciate it, and some is of no use to anyone and should be destroyed.
The only difference for the witch is that sometimes we end up carrying other people's psychic junk which they should be dealing with themselves, and I'm finding as I go on that I am sending much more stuff back to sender so that it is in the hands of the person who actually needs to deal with it, even though of course usually the reason it has ended up in my lap is that the person it belongs to doesn't want to deal with it.
So once all the psychic gunk is cleared out of ones life, examined, tidied, and put in its appropriate place, what is left? Ironically what is left is less of my own 'stuff' to deal with than I had to start off with, because the process of dealing with other people's psychic stuff helps me to move on as well, and that is why the 6 of Cups is about both the future as well as the past. I suspect the process of looking over the Cups and moving on overflows into the action of the 7 of Cups and the 8 of Cups, but the 6 of Cups is the card which lays the groundwork for establishing the plan for the future and an essential one so that you don't end up carrying too much of your past around.

Image credit: and both know exactly how he feels and want him right here now!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hidden City: Birmingham Street Fighting School

The warren of back streets between Bristol Street and Hurst Street in Birmingham city centre hold a hidden past. Nowadays they are in the area known as Southside. Of course you may want to call it the Chinese Quarter, or possibly the Gay Village, or the Gay Chinese Side, or whatever. The present conflicted name indicates a conflicted history, and in fact amongst other things it is home to the famous 'Rentboys' Corner' on Kent Street, where the baths used to stand, which the council did nothing to preserve from demolition despite being locally listed. The fact that there was a washing baths there indicates that the area of Wrentham, (Lower) Essex, Kent, and Gooch Streets were at one time a residential area and sure enough my First World War-era map of the area shows a warren of back-to-back courts and some industrial buildings.
By the time of the Second World War the area was in a parlous state. In true Brum fashion my source for this post (credit below) is unsure whether the inhabitants were emptied out in a 1930s redevelopment scheme which halted, or whether the houses were destroyed by bombing, but the illustrations I have found show windowless houses with no inhabitants, allowing the area to be used for manouevres by the GHQ Town Fighting Wing, which was the Home Guard's Street Fighting School. Far from the bumbling old men suggested by Dads Army, they were middle-aged men, who were trained very seriously to defend the country in case of invasion, and it was here in Birmingham it happened.
The school was based at the disused Unitarian Old Meeting church at 130 Bristol Street, and the students were housed at the Institute for the Blind on Carpenter Road in Edgbaston (the equipment list indicates they had to take their own mirrors). The courses in street fighting in case of invasion continued throughout the Second World War and culminated in a major exercise, the 'Battle of Birmingham' in 1944.
It is of course a matter of Brummie pride that not only was the area used to train the Home Guard, but that nothing is recognisable in the area from the 1940s photos I have found. In fact, Wrentham Street is still waiting for revelopment...
Credit: I am completely indebted to for the information and also the pictures.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Aquarian Tarot

Much as I'm loath to admit it, I suspect that there is a bit of a hippie inside me. Many of the elements of the counterculture of the 1960s chime with me in a way which, if it doesn't suggest I was there, suggest that I am plugged into the spirit of the age in an extraordinary way. This is very apparent in the tarot decks with which I feel most comfortable. I originally learned to read with the Morgan-Greer tarot, which while it is sometimes called 'Monty Python does the tarot', was actually published in 1980. Many of the Morgan-Greer images show the influence of the Aquarian Tarot, published in 1970.
in fact the Aquarian tarot wasn't the first tarot David Palladini, its designer, worked on. In the 1960s he contributed art to the Marseille-based Linweave Tarot, which was in part a publicity exercise for the Linweave company's papers. If the Linweave was a full deck of 78 cards, wasn't absolutely huge, and was printed on card rather than paper, it would be my perfect deck, since I like its groovy 1960s art the best of all.
Palladini went on to design the RWS-based Aquarian tarot. Like many of the things I am passionate about this deck tends to be a bit Marmite to tarot readers. While the images are based on the RWS each picture appears closer on the card, so that if you are used to getting lots of meanings from the detail in each RWS card this deck probably isn't for you. The only card where I feel the meaning is changed from the RWS deck is the High Priestess, where we get to see what is happening behind the curtain. Similarly, while I love the art, some people really dislike the palette heavily dominated by oranges, pinks, and browns. There is also a lot of relatively blank space in this tarot; I don't mind that personally, but I have read a lot of reviews which don't take to this deck at all for that reason.
If it may seem as if everything in the garden is uncharacteristically lovely, I just have one word of caution about this deck, which is that I would not advise buying the standard current US Games printing of this deck. I used to have one myself and the problem I have with it is that it is very shinily laminated, to the extent that it smells of plastic and feels like plastic. The plastic smell had not left my deck even after several years of use and was the most noticeable thing about the deck. US Games are obviously capable of producing a deck which doesn't have that synthetic feel and smell, and it is unfortunate that this deck is rather spoiled by its production.
There are two ways to get this deck without the smell. The more expensive one is to get a used or vintage one. Copies of this deck claimed as vintage are available on eBay at a premium. I would just say that sometimes they are claimed as first editions, and if they have the current psychedelic back, they are certainly not first editions, since the first couple of editions either had a plain back or an ourobouros. The cheaper way is to do what I did and buy the current Italian-language edition (ISBN 0880796936) which proves that US Games are capable of producing a tarot deck which while smelling new doesn't feel and smell like a bin bag. Apart from the Italian titles it is otherwise exactly the same as the current standard English-language deck.

My Apartment

In his comment to my post on our concierge's passive-aggressive notes, Inexplicable Device commented that I am the only person he knows who lives in a place with a concierge. All I can say is he's obviously mixing with the wrong sort of people, but his comment has pushed me into writing a post about my flat.
When my poor old ginger tom cat eventually kicked the bucket I sold the two-bed terrace house I had lived in in Bearwood for fifteen years and bought this instead. I had bought the house originally to be near my mother, so what I spelled for me was the way I used to arrange my life around what she wanted rather than what I wanted, and it was actually quite a large house, so energy bills were escalating ridiculously, and I was getting to the point where heating and looking after it were becoming crippling to me.
I hadn't planned on living in the Chinese Quarter (in true witch style I walked past the building I was originaly aiming for the other day and noticed that it has developed an alarming stepped crack in the back wall - gulp), and this flat had actually been on the market for a year when I looked at it. I genuinely can't think why because there really isn't anything wrong with it, except that the previous owner decided to be difficult so I had to exceed his difficultness. When I looked round it just felt like home and I went for it.
The flat is on the second floor - convenient if the lift breaks or I have to jump out in a fire - and looks inwards on a courtyard. It therefore doesn't really have a view, but it means that despite the flat being in a noisy social area of the city centre, it feels secluded and in fact I had to sleep with the radio on to start off with because it was too quiet.
It is a keyworker flat, so it is built into the lease that it must always be sold at a certain proportion of the market value and only to certain classes of workers, which has left me in a very good financial position. In fact my largest outgoing is the ground rent and service charge which isn't that much. I hadn't sussed that because the flat is the size of a shoe box with low ceilings and good insulation it is ridiculously cheap to heat and light: people think it is very expensive to live in the city centre but my bills are lower than they ever were in the suburbs.
In energetic terms the area I live in is surprisingly much calmer than it ought to be. I do vaguely remember what stood here before this building was built - it was a random collection of the sort of industrial buildings which replaced the slum houses when people originally moved out of the city centre. Originally of course, this area was merely fields near the manor house, so it doesn't have the long energy imprint which some areas have. The warren of back-to-back 'courts' which were here until relatively recently must have been a nightmare of conflcting emotions and desperation, and in fact I found from Kelly's directories that very near here the only really long-term business was a pawn brokers. Change is rather the motif, and in fact I recently found an aerial photo from the 1960s and the only pre-war buildings still standing on it are two pubs and the shops which are now a National Trust museum. When you step out into the street the ethos is very much a frendly. busy, one, with the only difference from the usual Birmingham mix being that there is a preponderance of Chinese businesses.
As soon as I moved in I redecorated the whole place in a style which it pleases me to call 'fortune teller's tent'. Not for me the porridge shades in vogue at the moment; I like solid colours, ethnic stuff, and I like my atmosphere dark and mysterious. The electrician asked if I had been a great traveller, and while I hadn't the heart to tell him I'm the world's worst traveller because I get bored and restless on long journeys, I had to explain that the world came to me.
Despite it being so cheap people still think I'm living in the lap of luxury when they visit (as indeed I am, because it's the poshest place I've lived in my life). People are really taken with the slate tiles in the bathroom - and the black grout in between is much lower maintenance than white grout. The flat does have one of my personal indicators of luxury, a separate lighting circuit in the living room, so that when you flick the switch at the door the lamps come on and you don't have to go round and turn them on individually. The fact that these use the old style round-pin plugs would have given my dad much amusement, that I may have a dishwasher but I've still got round-pin plugs.
I don't really like the laminate floors, but elected to cover them with kilims from Ikea rather than have them ripped out. One of my little decorating things is that I hate gloss paint - again this is a thing which would give my mother the screaming abjabs - and I prefer to paint the woodward in the same matt pain I use for the walls and coat it in matt varnish - it makes the ceilings look higher.
Despite its cheapness people do comment that it's very posh to be living in the city centre. And of course there are times on some days, when one is looking out into the compound, drinking a sundowner, that one could wish the cries of the natives being restless were a little further removed.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Direction in the Tarot, and Passive and Active Meanings of the Cards

I reflected in a recent post, on how a friend interpreted the 9 of swords in a reading for myself completely differently from how I would myself. I saw it as meaning that I myself would be faced with all these swords that I would be reluctant to look at, whereas she saw it as referring to my ability to face other people with a load of their own rubbish which they don't want to look at. This came in the wake of me reflecting on how the common interpretations of the 6 of Pentacles incorporate almost exactly opposite meanings, i.e. both of giving and receiving money.
I realise that this is an aspect of tarot which has tended to be completely absent from my own reading, such that it has almost hit me like a half-brick. I do incorporate a lot of a sense of direction into my reading, by which I mean that I relate the cards to each other often by referencing the way the figures are looking, and additionally there is often a sense of direction in a card's action, such as the approach to the veil in the High Priestess or the forever forward yet undecided motion of the Chariot. I will use this post to think more about the sense of direction in a selection of cards and also how each card incorporates an active (something you do) and passive (something you have done to you) understanding. An approach to reading tarot, which is often attributed to Pamela Colman Smith, is to assume the postures of the characters first of all. This is actually a very useful approach, because it means that we are tapping into the non-verbal communication of each card, and the likely emotions and events.

0 The Fool
Direction: Very clearly towards the edge of the precipice, although for me it is always interesting that the Fool can see where he is going and we can not. There is a sense of ambivalence introduced by the way the dog is trying to pull him back in the opposite direction.
Active: Knowing, or not needing to know, what is coming so that you can just go forward.
Passive: Having no option but to go forward without knowing the possible consequences.

2 High Priestess
Direction: For me the direction in this card is only forwards towards the High Priestess herself and the veil, and being stopped there before you can go through to what is behind.
Active: Having the answers to the questions or challenges that life throws up on the way.
Passive: Being taught in a purely didactic way.

3 The Empress
Direction: While the empress is looking towards the viewer, her body is oriented towards the right of the card, suggesting toward the future. The fact that she is traditionally pregnant indicates movement in that direction and downwards as she gives birth. Upwards movement is not lacking, though in the growth of the corn.
Active: Giving birth literally or metaphorically to your future.
Passive: Being left holding the baby.

4 The Emperor
Direction: The Emperor is going nowhere. This may actually be the tarot card with the least movement.
Active: Asserting a rigid rule system.
Passive: Coming up against a rigid rule system.

6 The Lovers
Direction: One of the most complicated cards in terms of direction, in my opinion. The direction in this card is literally all over the place, but perhaps the most important one here is that the man is looking at the woman but she is looking at the angel rather than looking back at him.
Active: Making your choice and sticking with it, focusing on what you want.
Passive: Being chosen by someone else, fancied, or conversely deselected, defriended, overlooked in some way.

7 of Cups
Direction: A single direction facing towards the cups one is presented with.
Active: Facing your own dreams and nightmares. I always feel rather out on a limb that I personally interpret this card quite positively in being able to dream in a constructive way.
Passive: Being faced with your own dreams. I would see this as confronting a 'Walter Mitty' character with the simple fact that he is living in a dream world.

Page of Cups
Direction: I love the direction in this card, because while the Page is clearly focused only on the fish peeking out of the chalice, if you get in the page's position, I always find myself going a bit like the Baldrick character in Blackadder. Alternatively, it feels like a kind of 'slap my thigh' Fool position. I also like that there is a completely alternative interpretation if you want to identify with the fish. It could be that the chalice isn't big enough for you and you are forced to look out of the top, or else that you are swimming around in there and just peek out to have  a look at the page.
Active: Looking at something you love and value, admiring it, caring for it, just checking on it.
Passive: Being looked on by someone who has an interest in you. It wouldn't be a wandy enough energy to be your employer checking your email, say. I think it would probably be more like the man I know who keeps wanting to see my cock on the internet. It's not going to happen and I'm happy just swimming around in my own world without doing what he wants me to.

5 of Pentacles
Direction: The movement is obviously towards the right of the card, but a lot of this card's meaning is suggested by what is going on on the other side of the wall containing the window.
Active: Being out in the cold, isolated, frozen.
Passive: Doing these things to others (sitting smugly in the church, as it were, after all this card immediately precedes the 6 of Pentacles).

6 of Pentacles
This was the card which made me realise how this active and passive thing can work.
Direction: Again multiple possible directions here. The man is looking at one beggar but not the other, while both beggars are looking at him. The scales introduce a sense of direction/balance all of their own. The fall of the money also indicates a downwards movement, which for me is the obvious movement in this card, but I am reminded not to ignore other possible movements in this card.
Active: Having enough or a surplus and giving.
Passive: Receiving.

9 of Swords
Direction: The direction is all towards the right in this card. The swords are all pointing right although there is an oppressive sense in which they are stacked up over the woman and possibly bearing down on her. The woman is also facing right, however she is not actually looking at anything at all, least of all the swords on the wall above her.
Active: Being confronted with difficulties which you don't want to face up to
Passive: Confronting someone with the things they don't want to see.
I appreciate that these meanings may have their active or passive status switched, and it is the reflexivity of this card which is one the things which got me interested in this aspect of tarot. The woman is being presented with a load of swords (passive) which she is actively not looking at.
If you were to do the action of this card to someone else, I'm guessing you can only be giving them a load of swords which they don't want to face up to.I feel I may be over-analysing to suggest though that if you do do the action of this card to someone else, the reaction may only ever be to have them try to avoid the swords.

7 of Wands
Direction: The man on the high ground is oriented downwards to protect himself against the wands of those below him. There is also much down-upwards movement in this card because of the (unseen) aggressors below)
Active: Protecting yourself against aggressors and winning.
Passive: Giving someone loads to do to deflect them from paying attention to you.

9 of Wands
Direction: In the RWS card there is no movement. A man with a bandaged head is holding a wand almost defensively and looking ?angrily ?petulantly at another eight wands.
Active: Defending your ground against your aggressors who have already injured you.
Passive: Giving somebody something to forgive you for!

Passive-Aggressive Notes

There is something in the psyche of the passive-aggressive person which inclines them towards leaving little notes. I have been reminded of this while reading in the wonderful Lucy Melford's blog (here which is also my source for the quotations as well as the illustration) about a bridge in Dorset which surely contains the world's most monumental of these notes.
Lucy, in common with me, thinks that this is a slightly excessive response to whatever the perceived problem was:
Really? Transportation for life - presumably to Australia - just for doing something to this bridge? Gosh, times were hard in the eighteenth century! And doing what? Painting seditious slogans on it? ('King George is a very bad man and much too Hanoverian') Sticking scandalous leaflets to it? ('Squire Benville is a seducer, cheats at cards, and must not be elected') Or chipping away at the brickwork? (In hard times the poor burned bricks, if they couldn't get coal)
And this wasn't an important bridge. It was on a country road. A road that might have been the best in the local area, but not a major through route. The bridge itself was a modest affair, spanning a little stream, and the stream was merely a parish boundary.
This post has reminded me of the various note-writers I have known in my life. The only one getting on the Hound's tits at the moment is the concierge of my apartment building. Well, only one of the concierges really, and if I was less of a bastard I would probably remind myself that she is only concerned about keeping a tidy environment and maintaining a certain tone among the residents. The trouble is she leaves her notices absolutely everywhere and they are all in the vein of 'if whoever doesn't stop doing such and such this instant we'll find out who you are and come after you'. I may be slightly exaggerating but that is very much the cumulative effect of these notices.
It obviously isn't limited to our concierge. If you step into any apartment building or place where a bunch of people share the space to whatever extent, you can tell what the 'issues' are by the notes. I looked at a flat in another building where there was a notice in the lift telling people to stop leaving rubbish about in the corridors. Fair enough. When the estate agent showed me my flat, there was a very stern notice in the entrance hall reminding residents that pets are not allowed under the terms of the lease. The estate agent was very keen to tell me that everyone ignored that requirement, and in fact the last people in my flat were keeping two house rabbits in there.
There are two problems with this note-leaving behaviour. The first is the mindset they come from. Even leaving aside the fact that if you feel obliged to communicate with someone else with a notice, there is obviously something very wrong there. I can't really talk myself: in my INFJ way I expect people to know without being told, what I consider socially acceptable and if they don't they're just beyond the pale for all eternity. In the case of our concierge the impression comes across loud and clear that she believes herself to be in some sort of pitched battle with the residents of the apartments.
The first day I went to collect post from the concierge's office she gave me a welcome pack to the development, which began with a list of things residents were expected not to do, in order to maintain the tone of the development. Put washing out on balconies, for a start. That's not allowed. Residents are expected to clean the inside of the windows once a month. They can f*ck off. I will start doing that when the maintenance company clean the outside of the windows more than once a year and they are actually clean when they've been done.
The second problem with the notice-writing mentality is the actual effect these sort of notices have on their target audience, in fact you can see from my comments above that the concierge has already got my back up and I'm disinclined to be co-operative. Lucy discovered that her Dorsetshire monumental passive-aggressive note had this same effect:
 'Ah,' [a man she met] said, 'That's a proper plaque, but not the original, which is now in a museum. It's a replica. There were attempts to steal the original plaque, so they made a copy and put it away safely. In fact two copies have so far been hacked out and spirited away.' Well, if you could do it, it would make a fabulous souvenir of rural Dorset - although obviously you'd be risking transportation for life. To Australia.
And this is also the case with our concierge's notes. Not that people try to steal them for a souvenir but they have the exactly opposite effect she intends. The lift is a favourite place for her to put them up, and you will often get in there to find that they are all upside down or people have scribbled comments and complaints on them. I have a friend who likes to visit me just so she can have some fun with the concierge's notices. And of course people pay less attention to the notices which actually have to be there by law (a no smoking in public areas one, a fire evacuation one, and anything as a result of a risk assessment).
Needless to say she also has her favourite target behaviours, one of which is the bins. She put up a notice in the lift telling residents to be careful there were no holes in bin bags in case they leaked in the lift. But she was asking for trouble when she put up a sign saying that people must stop just dumping their bin bags in the bin store, they should be but in the bin. I think if that had been it, or it had been phrased as a request people would have paid attention, but she made the mistake of putting in large letters that this is being monitored by CCTV and anyone found dumping rubbish would be fined. Sure enough shortly afterwards, CCTV cameras appeared in the bin stores. Well, you know what I'm like, I always give her a cheery wave when I take my rubbish down, I'm sure it drives her mad. And I'm completely sure she's watching the screen like a hawk because they made the mistake of putting the cameras inside the store so that you can just walk past and throw your bag in without being seen, which is exactly what people do. She was also asking for trouble when she put up a notice telling people not to put large items of rubbish out. The first time after that I had some rubbish I actually couldn't get in the bin store because of the amount of furniture people had left in there!
But she superlatively shot herself in the foot over parcels. If a parcel comes for you, the courier never even brings it up to your flat, they always leave it at the concierge's office, which as you can imagine is about as hospitable and friendly a place as a piranha fish in a prawn cocktail. When I moved in, if a parcel arrived for you, during her 'patrols' (that is the actual word she uses) of the building she would put a note (see a pattern developing here?) through your door saying there was a parcel for you. Of course this note would include a warning that if you hadn't collected it in three days it would automatically be sent back.
To get the parcel you would go to her office and you would have to knock on the locked door - there isn't a doorbell, the door is never open, and there is another notice on it saying that your fob will not let you into her office - and wait until she felt like letting you in, in a very suspicious manner, and eventually give you a parcel. Then she made the mistake (perhaps I should say that there is actually a concierge team, but I can tell the one responsible for the notes by the turn of phrase and the attitude) of sending out a notice saying that these notes about parcels would no longer be given out, residents would be expected just to turn up for their parcels when they arrived without being told.
Perhaps I should say that the development is in the Chinese Quarter, so there are a lot of residents expecting parcels from the other side of the world with no guarantee of when they will turn up at all, which in addition to the concierge's attitude may explain what happened yet. It back-fired on her spectacularly, because what happened was that all the residents of the flats (all 450 of them) went to ask every day whether anything had come for them. The queue used to come out of the office and snake down the path. After that she took people's email addresses to let them know.
I actually tend not to have run-ins with her. The only one I don't like is the night concierge, who I can tell in common with The Night Staff everywhere doesn't want to do anything. But our lift broke recently, and the notice she put up being apologetic about it was defaced by someone moaning about the inconvenience of going up the stairs. She was obviously pissed off about this, and I actually expected her to put up a notice saying not to deface her notices. Instead she put up a progress report about the repair of the lift which began with the words 'This is a polite notice...' Now I don't care who you are, that's fighting talk the world over.
Shortly afterwards a parcel came for me and I got the usual email. I went over twice in one day to get it, only to find there was nobody in the concierge's office. I went once the next day with no success, and shortly afterwards she sent me an email headed FINAL REMINDER in capital letters about it. I sent her back an icy email saying that since I had been for it three times without success I expected them  not to return it to the sender until I had been for it, and began the email with the words, 'This is a polite email'.
Her reply was an absolute classic of being torn between feeling she had to apologise to me and just plain fury. She said how sorry she was that I had been over so many times without getting my parcel but asked me to remember how much the concierge had to do, and so on. Of course after that I was in no rush to go and get it. I waited until the night shift and sauntered over so that that I could annoy the night concierge by giving him something to do as well.
Passive-aggressive notes don't work, they just create the opposite of what you want.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tarot: Seven of Wands

To log my reflections (or perhaps reflexions) on today's card I have to rewind a few days and pass comment on some things I haven't posted about here yet because they hadn't started to fall into place yet. A few days ago I pulled the Magician as my card of the day. Always one to elucidate tarot cards by drawing other tarot cards, I asked what were my magical tools and drew four other tarot cards to represent them. To disclose all four of them would be to over-disclose even by my standards, so I will only mention what two of them were.
The one which initially gave me trouble was the 9 of swords. Up until then I had been seing these cards as atttitudes or, uncharacteristically, seeing them rather passively as things happening to me. Since I got stuck on the interpretation of 9 of swords as staying in bed and refusing to look at anything, I asked a friend how she would interpret this card, and interestingly she gave this card a much more active, in fact almost opposite, interpretation to my own.
My friend saw the nine of swords as referring to one of my magical tools, as meaning my ability to confront other people with their own reality that they are trying to ignore. I felt rather embarrassed that I had almost completely misinterpreted these cards as meaning things happening to me, when given that they were representing magical tools, it was staring me in the face that they meant me doing things to other people.
Coming hard on the heels of my drawing the 6 of Pentacles, which I have seen both as referring to receiving and giving money, and therefore being active and passive - a tension I have attempted to reconcile by seeing it as a card of 'accounting' - I have been reflecting on how tarot cards can be understood passively and actively. Regular readers will know that I don't routinely read tarot with reversals, but perhaps these passive and active meanings are another way of understanding the sort of polarities of meaning that reversals often refer to. I am contemplating a whole post just on this dynamic, but as usual don't hold your breath, it will happen when inspiration hits the Hound.
Today I drew the 7 of Wands, which is ironically another of the four cards I drew for my own magical tools. This time I have been a little less dense in trying to understand what this card may mean for me. I worked from the obvious surface meaning of this card that I had been engaged in a struggle and won by exerting my will, or at least come to some sort of resolution of the struggle that I, rather than anyone else, could live with.
For me there is another reference in this card, in fact in the whole Wands suit in addition to the obvious one of magic wand - that Wands can become clubs, and can be used for, well, clubbing, competing, and what have you. You could do someone some proper damage with a club, and in fact hey are used as a traditional means of physical training in India, where they were originally imported from the middle East, and those sort of clubs form the illustration to this post.
It is interesting that this certainly seems to be one of the more fruitful tarot cards in terms of different interpretations, even down to the odd shoes in the RWS tarot, which attract various interpretations. I am intrigued by Katz and Goodwin's interpretation that the odd shoes refer to the character of Petruchio in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. I wouldn't like to say that this is the definitive, or even the only possible interpretation of the man's odd shoes (I find others such as the man defending his own personal eccentricities, etc, just as compelling and would avoid definitive interpretations as far as possible) but find it interesting that this interpretation places an element of discomfort in the interpretation of this card. Petruchio is a nasty piece of work, a wife abuser, and not someone we would probably want to identify with - in the light of that interpretation this card takes on a 'reversed' meaning that we are defending our own will against all odds, but that we may not be having a very nice effect on other people doing so!
Additionally the man is defending himself against six wands being brandished from below. Always interesting to see one tarot referring to another tarot card and the reference here is the six of wands, another ambivalent card in my humble opinion. The surface meaning is very simplistically triumph and acclaim, but it is always so obvious to me in the RWS deck that the horse is rolling his eye and indicating that there is something ridiculous about the man, or the triumph is a fake, or that the cheering crowd are just going along with it. A definite case of the Emperor's new clothes. The implication is that what you are defending yourself against is in some way either a fake, or a front, or an aspect of yourself that is undesirable and false: once again the tarot becomes completely reflexive and points the 'action' of the card inwards rather than outwards.
The suggestion therefore for me is that my magical tool at this point is defending my own will and eccentricities, but it is defending my true will against the false assumptions and victories inside. It is intensely uncomfortable, and references a sense I have had recently that I must let lots of stuff go and move on. The reading became even more reflexive when I drew another card to indicate what the one wand I was holding in the card could represent and got... The Magician!

Image credit: wikipedia page on Indian clubs