Dragonlance Tarot: Fantasies and Archetypes, part 1

I was thinking one day about the effects of story upon our lives.  In today’s era it’s difficult to find good examples of heroism and honor, humility, and what power really is.  As a young man I had some good people in my life that were examples of how people should act…but I was probing why I feel the way I do about deeper issues of faith, community, religion, education, and honor.  Being over forty, I was even more curious about why things from my youth are still with me, why interests that I had and why stories I enjoyed way back when still live with me on a daily basis.

One of the ways by which I think about stories is through the lens of Tarot (Runes as well, but modern man is more easily definable via the Tarot). The Tarot path holds many lessons and the archetypes found within it arise from history and fiction, religion and humanism, esotericism and exotericism and therefore Tarot encapsulates the whole of modern western culture. Once one is familiar with the symbolism of the Tarot it can be placed like a transparent layer over any story or experience in order to pull out nuances of subtle wisdom.

not the Dragonlance Tarot
not the Dragonlance Tarot

This post is about me creating a Tarot deck from the Dragonlance series – Which I did, and which is a physical deck that I currently own and conduct readings with.  It was born out of me wanting to personally define the importance of it’s characters in my life and why this fictional world (among others) continues to be one that I think about.  It is a world of moral questions, of gods and dragons, knights and wizards…I’ll admit I don’t read much (or any) of it these days, but I believe that like any loved story in ones past it still influences me to this day.

I am refraining from posting images of the deck, simply because I wouldn’t want them to be copied, printed, and sold (I have included a snapshot from an online reading done for a client).  But I thought I would share some thoughts on the cards I chose and what changes I made.  Unlike my Star Wars Tarot which was constructed from already published playing card decks, the Dragonlance Tarot is a cobbled together deck from well known Dragonlance images. Creating a Tarot deck is an interesting task, it was a process of growth that forced me to examine these stories with a new eye.  rather than just being entertained by these stories I was  looking below the surface, probing the motivations of characters, wondering why the authors built the world the way they did, why it functions the way it does.

Lance deck in use
Lance deck in use

It is a complete set of Tarot, 78 cards. It uses only well known Dragonlance images and novel cover art, but for the Moon and Sun cards. The Minor Arcana, the pips, are not images, but like older decks are merely numbered.

The cards:  Lances = Wands and the courts are represented by Heroes.  Orbs = Cups and are represented by wizards and clerics; Swords = Swords and represented by knights; Pentacles = Discs and represented by Dragons.

Court Cards:  Lances = King is Tanis, Queen is Laurana, Knight is Gilthas, Page is Gerard;  Orbs = King is Dalamar, Queen = Crysania, Knight= Palin, Page= Elistan;  Swords = King is Sturm, Queen is Kitiara, Knight is Steele, Page is Mina;  Discs = King is Aurican, Queen is Malys, Knight is Skie, Page is Chaos dragon/draconian.

Major Arcana: 0 = Tas, 1= Raistlin, 2= Goldmoon, 3 = Heart/Silvara/Humas Tomb, 4= Huma, 5= Flint, 6=Caramon and Tika, 7= Citadel, 8= Kerianseray, 9=Porthios, 10= Stars of Krynn, 11= Cataclysm, 12= Kerrick, 13= soth, 14= Caramon, 15= Takhisis, 16= High Clerists tower, 17=Lost Citadel, 18=Tower of Moon/Takaluras, 19= Tower of the Sun/Qualinost, 20= Kingpriest, 21= Inn of the Last Home/Solace.

If you’ve read my Star Wars tarot posts you know that I go into some detail about why certain cards were used.  Being that this deck is so unique I th0ught I’d do the same.

Highlights of the Major Arcana:

the Fool: Tasslehoff Burrfoot is the Fool.  He exemplifies the idea of Wanderlust (as does the Fool), moving before thinking just for the sake of the experience and new adventure.  He is also changed by his voyages and perhaps in the end the most wise of all the archetypes.  Is the Fool the beginning of wisdom or the end result of life’s adventures?

the Magician: Raistlin.   The Magician doesn’t necessarily have to be a good character but merely one who understands power and the elements by which power is attained/accomplished.  Raistlin here is depicted in his study within the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas, ready to delve deeper into the mysteries of existence and magic.

Strength: This is Kerianseray a Kagonesti elf (wild elf) and rebel.  Her nickname is the Lioness.  She is a servant when we first meet her in the series, behind the scenes she however is a warrior fighting for her people.  Strength is the card that holds the wisdom of subtle power, a power that comes from gentleness rather than physical force, a strength of intellect that is like a yoke for physical prowess – brute force tempered with knowledge and patience.

the Hangman: This card depicts Kerrick, a dark elf (outcast) of Silvanesti.  The image shows him floating on a bit of ice following his exile and on his way to Icewall.  Along with the unsteady nature of the ice and water, Kerrick much like the Hangman is unsure of where he will start or end his journey.

Temperance: Caramon.  Caramon is a man of heart and action.  His greatest asset is compassion and the love he has for his friends and brother.  Like the lessons of Temperance Caramon tries to balance many things in his life that sometimes cannot be reconciled.  In the end he realizes that some things must be left behind in order to find happiness.

the Tower: Probably one of the heaviest scenes in all of Dragonlance.  I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t read Dragons of Winter Nights.  The tower here is the High Clerists Tower and it’s being tested by the armies of Takhisis.  Sometimes destruction and obstacles make us stronger and force us to rebuild or reconfigure our lives.

the Moon: This is the Tower of the Moon found in Dargonesti (I believe), it is the residence of the Speaker of the Moon. These elves are water elves and their cities are undersea.  The moon card has a deep relationship with water and its illusory nature.

Judgmenet: The Kingpriest is depicted here.  Judgement is not justice and it doesn’t mean a balanced or wise indivisual is dispensing it.  Judgement merely tells us that it’s time to choose something-  good, indifferent, or bad.

the World: This shows Solace, more specifically the Inn of the Last Home.  The home, or at least the base for the heroes.  Solace is the example by which right and justice are evaluated in Dragonlance.  It’s a place of beauty and ‘home’, the place where the adventure begins, and what the heroes are fighting to maintain as the example of social order.

This deck being based off of Rider-Waite  symbolism I thought some direct comparisons would be interesting:

The pic I used for the High Priestess depicting Goldmoon in this role is from the cover of Dragons of Autumn Twilight:

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DL High Priestess
maj02
RW HP

Goldmoon mirrors the original RW example very well.  She is the holder of ancient wisdom and the medium between which the old worlds and the new communicate, the gateway through which the old gods return to a world that has forgotten them, the balance between opposites.  Both cards depict the HP holding the important occult vessels, important artifacts of hidden lore.  Some quotes from Waite’s The Pictorial Key to the Tarot illustrate how closely these versions relate to one another:

“The scroll in her hands is inscribed with the word Tora, signifying the Greater Law, the Secret Law and the second sense of the Word.”(1)…According to Kabalism, there is a Shekinah both above and below. In the superior world it is called Binah, the Supernal Understanding which reflects to the emanations that are beneath. In the lower world it is MaIkuth–that world being, for this purpose, understood as a blessed Kingdom that with which it is made blessed being the Indwelling Glory.”(2)
This passage directly discusses the power of the HP to unit heaven and earth which can be seen signified by the Blue Crystal Staff held by Goldmoon in the picture touching the earth and the sky. Further…
“Mystically speaking, the Shekinah is the Spiritual Bride of the just man, and when he reads the Law she gives the Divine meaning.”(3)
Elistan (portrayed as the Page of Orbs in the DL Tarot) who is healed by Goldmoon via the Staff and the power of the old gods, eventually is able to read the Discs of Mishakal which relate the laws of the old gods.

 The previous example is exactly how a seeker after the mystery of the Tarot delves into symbolism.  It begins with a concrete image and begins to flower into a mosaic of pieces that fit together in odd correspondences.

Perhaps I will post a second DL Tarot article that compares other cards shortly.

*****

1,2,3.Arthur Edward Waite (2014-06-15). The Pictorial Key To The Tarot (Illustrated) (p. 39). . Kindle Edition.

Dragonlance Lexicon found at: http://dragonlancenexus.com/lexicon/index.php?title=Main_Page

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A Game of Tarot

Here’s a good little solitaire game that will give you some time with Tarot.  It’s called Queens of Fate.  It’s a good metaphysical and Occult themed game that even though it’s mundane in aspect really carries alot of symbolism if your paying attention.  I’ve been playing it for some time and even though the rules at first are strange, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

So, if you have a bit of free time and want to give it a go, the rules can be found here: Queens of Fate

Perhaps I’ll do a Youtube video on it.  It’s a pretty challenging game, and I like to use it as teaching aid.  When a card comes up I’ll go over its meaning and depending on the time I have I’ll see how it interacts with whats already on the table.  It’s also fun to see what cards ‘defeat’ others or work together to clear another from play.

This is me playing Queens of Fate with my Star Wars Tarot deck:

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Queens of Fate

The main focus of the game takes place with the cards on the blue mat > I keep my Queens at the top, the next layer down are the Court cards, and the next the Minors that come into play.  On the left of the mat the draw pile (Destiny) is on the bottom left, drawn cards go directly to the right (challenge area), and Fate cards above that. My two discarded piles are for Major Arcana which with this Tarot deck are the black boarder cards face up, and the one laying horizontal on the top left face down are the minors along with the court cards – basically anything not a Major Arcana.  My play area differs a little from the rules, but I accomplish the same thing.

I’m not gonna go over the rules, because it takes a bit of practice to understand them fully.  I may post a video shortly playing a few hands.

Overall this is a fun game to play that if you’re open enough can not only be entertaining but also enlightening.

Star Wars Tarot: episode 1

What is Tarot supposed to accomplish?

It should function as a guidepost and accomplish the task of allowing for personal reflection.  Tarot is not, to me, a magical oracle that casts a future set in stone.  Tarot is only a symbolized representation of life’s common challenges, a tool or a lens by which we can better understand the choices available to us within the framework of  what Western culture presents as common experience.

So I believe it’s important to use common themes when working with the Tarot to explore these challenges, themes that can be recognized, mythologies that are shared, and images or memes that exist throughout modern human experience.  Don’t get me wrong I think there are many great decks out there…but what good is a deck that uses symbology that only I understand or draws on myths that only I think are important.  If I’m doing a reading for a client wouldn’t I want that client to be able to tap into his/her own understandings and experience?  What better way to do that than by using images, stories, and personae that we have a shared experience of.

About a year ago I crafted a Star Wars themed Tarot deck.   Now many Tarot users would probably scoff at this, but I’d like to think that more serious Tarot aficionados and the more mystically/magic(K)ally inclined in the community would completely understand its creation and use. After all Star Wars is merely a mythology that is current, no different in my mind from classic mythology or the tales of gods and heroes that our ancestors revered and told, it’s only difference lies in that it is being manufactured as we speak. Anyone who was born during the 1970’s and who lived through the original trilogy release experienced the power of Lucas’ mystical/mythical/magical retelling of the Hero’s Journey, and doesn’t need to be convinced of its effect.  And yes it’s fun and odd and a bit strange…who says Tarot has to be so damn serious all the time!

Being as there is no manufactured Star Wars deck out there I had to be creative and thought I’d share a bit about mine and why I chose the cards I did…and perhaps it may help other Tarot creators and users out there to get their own Star Wars deck started.

I used playing cards to build the deck:  The first pack was used to create the Pip or Minor Arcana cards.  For the Trumps or Major Arcana I used a combination of the Heroes deck and the Villains deck.  The first deck is called “Famous Quotes”, I used this for the Pips because each card has a different scene and a unique quote.  Most of them work very well within the established meanings found in Tarot, and I have found them to be insightful.

3 decks = 1 Tarot
3 decks = 1 Tarot

I started with those three decks of normal playing cards – using the entire Quotes deck but cutting out a majority of the Heroes and Villains cards until I felt comfortable with my Major Arcana choices.  It’s important to note that the Minor Arcana cards have white borders while the Major Arcana have black.

Fool - Hierophant
Fool – Hierophant

Major Arcana:

Fool = Jar Jar (I’ve also used Wicket in this position)

Magician = Lando

High Priest/ess = Qui-Gon Jinn

Queen = Leia

King = Han

Hierophant = Yoda

Lovers = Padme Amidala

Chariot = Biker Scout

Hermit-Temperance
Hermit-Temperance

Strength = C3PO

Hermit = Obi-Wan (Episode 4)

Wheel = R2D2

Justice = Luke (Episode 6)

Hangman = Anakin (Episode 3)

Death = Darth Vader

Temperance = Bail Organa

Devil = Darth Maul

Tower = Boba Fett (Episode 6)

Tower-The World
Tower-The World

Star = Mon Mothma (Episode 4)

Moon = Stormtrooper

Sun = Boss Nass (holds a glowing orb above head)

Judgement – Grand Moff Tarkin

World = Shmi Skywalker

Highlights of the Major Arcana:

The fool – Jar Jar acts without thinking but his impetuousness eventually leads him into roles of power where his experience and intellect have allowed him a good life.

The Magician Lando is an expert at many things – gambling, politics, economics, business, he’s a ladies man, a fighter, a thinker, stately and thoughtful – He commands the elements of the Tarot well.

Strength – C3PO is my favorite Star Wars Character.  Like the traditional meaning of Strength in the Tarot C3PO’s power is not in brute force but in mediation, smarts, and will.  He tackles his goals in odd ways and always remains to address the next challenge.

The Hangman – Anakin Skywalker is the man in the middle.  The Hangman in the Tarot is a representation of being drawn in opposite directions, sitting between heaven and earth, and points to a time of indecision and possibly misdirection.  The Hangman isn’t sure which way to go and cautions the seeker to sit it out and think rationally about choices.  Anakin is a good representation, especially during the time depicted in the card image, of being at precipice or a time when sitting back and rethinking ones options is important.

Temperance – Bail Organa is sensible.  He is not heavy handed, in fact his presence in the Star Wars mythos and films is hardly felt, yet his role is paramount to the survival of the Jedi and the Republic.

The Tower – Bob Fett symbolizes the Tower well; a turning of events that drastically force the rebellion and the heroes to rethink their goals.

The Moon – Stormtroopers were always a mystery to me when I was younger.  I wasn’t sure if they were men or if they were robots.  The Moon in the Tarot is about illusion and about seeing things differently, somehow Stormtroopers still embody that odd something.

Judgment – Moff Tarkin is the ultimate outgrowth of judgment.  It’s important to remember that Judgement is not Justice.  Judgement is only the utilization of the wisdom gained by the fools journey up until this point.  that journey may be different depending on the goals of the individual.  Tarkin is merely able to make concise judgements based on his experience…right or wrong judgements may be different all together.

The World – Shmi Skywalker is perhaps the progenitor of the tales that take place in the Star Wars films.  It’s from her that everything blossoms.  The World in the Tarot terms is the full awareness of life and all its wonder by the Fool at the end of his journey, but the World is as also the beginning and a reminder that the cycle never ends.

Episode 2 will discuss the Pip cards and a bit about how they relate to the traditional Tarot.

Lights of Marfa

A few nights ago, after work, I got in the car and drove roughly 3 hours to a small town in Texas called Marfa.  Me and my nephew had been wanting to explore the well known light phenomena of this area for awhile. Well, mostly I wanted to, but he has an interest in such things, and he has an odd enough schedule that allows him and his uncle to spend time together.

So the Marfa lights have a fairly rich history, and if you’re at all familiar with UFO phenomena, ancient mysteries, or literature about earth energies you’ve probably come across this topic before.  I’m not going to rehash the legends and hypothesis that one finds with Marfa…just be aware that it is a Mystery and remains so.

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viewing area

We arrived at the official viewing area at about 1am and left around 4am.  It was a spectacular night full of stars with a half moon that eventually dropped below the western horizon about 2:30am.  It was windy and cold, as is normal for this area of west Texas in spring.  We stood outside for about an hour, then got in the car to avoid the cold.   Prior to getting in the car I commented to my nephew that lights to the west had appeared but that I had internally dismissed them as the small towns street-lamps 4 or 5 miles back the way we had come.  When I stood taller to look over the horizon I could tell there were no visible city lights…maybe I had seen the lights of Marfa I thought.

Once in the car and out of the cold we sat for about an hour eating snacks and talking.  Lights began to appear in the south, small wispy looking things near and above a communications tower.  A single light would begin to the left and move to the right, it would disappear and then wink back to life a short distance away.  To the west more appeared and these would dance about a bit then fade away.

As we watched and discussed what was happening, I found myself narrating the events.  I would consciously voice how the things were moving…”Left, Right, Down, then Up.”  I joked about it but I realized that I was looking for confirmation of what I was seeing, because as I watched and as we sat there the phenomena became more intense.

To the South another orb appeared, we had been waiting for another half hour for something to happen following a series of orbs appearing and disappearing.  We were discussing what we thought it could be.  We were ruling out various things like cars and trains and airplanes.  I had read a number of testimonies prior to planning the trip, and found it interesting that some people go night after night and don’t see anything, while others see them as though it’s expected.  This led to me ruling out very easily that cars and other vehicles couldn’t account for much of the phenomena simply because there would have to be some amount of traffic nightly;  the route is a well travelled road for truckers.

Official Mystery Notice

It was then that another orb appeared and like the rest it lazily drifted above the horizon and made it’s way to the right then disappeared.  This time it didn’t reappear but another did appear some distance away to the right and shortly another alongside it.  They moved together, and then joined, and the single orb continued to move as though it was climbing a hill.  In fact I said to my nephew that it looked like a motorcycle light, and it was hard to dismiss this from my rational mind.  When the light split again into two I felt it was heading for us, growing larger.  I said out loud that there has to be a mountain road back there, that it had to be a cars headlights, but I knew it was too close to be that and that a car would have to be hovering to be in the spot it appeared to be.  The lights merged again and then were gone.

As we continued to watch more lights come and go, they became even more odd in their movements.  Some spiralled up and down, others darted left then right, back and forth, and seemed very erratic.

I commented on the fact that they were making me a bit nauseous, that I was feeling dizzy watching them.  I wanted to make sure that I voiced this both to have confirmation from my nephew about this feeling and to make sure that I was placing the memory of asking about it into my rational and everyday mind.  I felt weird asking about this, but he very quickly said he was feeling similar things.
The lights also changed as they moved.  At one point I saw a light emit a pulse of red and blue/green separate from its main form.

When we decided to leave we had been sitting for about 20 minutes without a light appearance.  I think we both were incredibly awestruck about what we experienced.  I know I didn’t expect such a show.

I have noticed that when I am confronted with mysterious occurrences it is best to write them down immediately or to vocalize the event – even if you’re alone.  Just from personal experience I find my rational self forcing strange occurrences  into a dreamy and hazey region of unbelief, and they can easily become like dreams and difficult to remember.  By vocalizing these occurrence as they happen or by writing them down immediately, one cannot lose the experience quite so readily.

I am including a small video of a Marfa expose from the 80’s.  This is well worth the time to watch…pay attention to the soundtrack for this piece, it’s really a fun and eerie piece of work.

Mystery Voyage

So, today I printed out a map of my zip code and attempted to pinpoint an energy spot in my city.

Method

Using a pendulum and some string to find the point was simple.  Prior to starting I sat down and centered and also performed a simple banishing while seated before the map.  The pendulum was used to indicate two lines over the map,  if the lines merged I would take it to mean that a point of energy or portal was at this spot.  I didn’t specify strength or what type of portal/energy, merely that one be found.

The lines merged.  Following the pendulum detective work I got in the car and drove to the location not too far from my home, but far enough to allow for a drive.

The tools I took were simple and unique:

1. a homemade dowsing rod

2. digital voice recorder

3. And a nintendo DS with the game Treasure World.

The location was residential.  One side of the street was houses the other was the perimeter of a golf course.  At the time this didn’t strike me as unique, but thinking about it now this could indicate a place between, a bridge between two very different aspects of life, or a place where time is thought of as different and therefore oddly changed because of this polarity.

So here’s where the game comes in.  Treasure World is a unique game; One uses it to hunt for virtual treasure in the real world.  As you walk around in the real world the game picks up WiFi signals and converts these signals into in-game treasure.  The reason why it can be used as a communication device is because it assigns these WiFi points unique names – sometimes these names are just names given to the Wireless router by the home owner – but more often the names are given titles of fictional Stars or Galaxies within the games universe.  And these can be very unique…

Energy or Portal?

I was curious to see what would come up, and if the names/titles held any messages that may indicate why the spot was important energetically speaking.

I parked and got the game going and I also sat in the car with my dowsing rod.  Though I didn’t get out and walk around on this visit I tried to get a feel for the place.  Honestly I wasn’t relaxed enough, I was excited and hurrying through the process…next time I will be more calm.  The fact that there is a sliced up tree at the spot is a neat coincidence, one I think is important.  Also the spot coincides with a tee-box…need to find out which hole it is, perhaps the number may have some importance.

The dowsing rod spun clockwise when asked if this was the right spot.  It did it so fast that I cleared it and asked again.  This time the result was the same but slower in its spin.

The game chimed, an indication that it had found a signal.  It found two signals and assigned them the names of Dexamenus and Punchinello.

What do these names mean?

Punchinello has a few Wikipedia and some other interesting hits,  Google images comes up with this and I found this as well:

Punchinello

Dexamenus has some good stuff as well to mull over.

Results

It was a fun sacred landscape experiment and the names given are cause for some research.

I’ll be getting over there a little bit more to see if I can feel anything from the area or if there is an entity associated with the place that can communicate.