CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is OneLetterWords.com.
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Historians must reconstruct the past out of hazy memory.  "Once upon a time" requires "second sight."  The "third eye" of intuition can break the "fourth wall" of conventional perspectives.  Instead of "pleading the fifth," historians can take advantage of the "sixth sense" and be in "seventh heaven."  All with the power of hindpsych, the "eighth wonder of the world."  It has been said that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.  Therein lies the importance of Tarot readings for antiquity.  When we confirm what has already occurred, we break the shackles of the past, freeing ourselves to chart new courses into the future.

February 15, 2017 (permalink)

Count Cagliostro's notorious Golden Wheel of Fortune, from Pearson's, 1897.
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December 11, 2016 (permalink)

Here's a tip from The Care and Feeding of a Spirit Board on how a clockwork spring placed upon a ouija board's "Farewell" will ring in the so-called fullness of time.  (You heard it here first, folks.)  The caption reads, "The talking board’s 'Farewell' implies its opposite: a welcoming.  It bids farewell to darkness, doubts, wants, and fears, even as it welcomes light, assurance, fullness, and safety.  Placing a clockwork spring at 'Farewell' formally rings in the hour, a so-called fullness of time in which we know not parting from reunion."  The reconstructed text at the top reads, "The hands stretch thitherward, and the password is not 'Farewell' but 'Welcome the hour.'"
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December 1, 2016 (permalink)

Here are some gift pairing ideas for Tarot decks.

The Tarot of the Cat People can pair with the guide on How to Be Your Own Cat.

The very charming If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow can pair with the Night Sun Tarot.

The Impressionist Tarot deck can pair with How to Paint Like the Impressionists.

The Raven's Prophecy Tarot can pair with an investigation into the Mind of the Raven.

The Archangel Oracle Cards can pair with a 12-week workbook about Walking with the Archangels.

The Tarot of the Elves can pair with How to Believe in Your Elf.

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November 2, 2016 (permalink)

Due to our mysteriously esoteric studies, we're often asked for oracular predictions about the new year.  For the upcoming transition, we consulted our own Mimetic Oracle, and here's why: life is a grand pageant, and it's been said that theatre reveals what is behind so-called reality.  Our Mimetic Oracle draws from 92 characters in six vintage plays, with 166 spoken lines and 31 stage directions in the mix.  With the system, one randomly draws five characters and generates a script to illuminate the current drama of life.  (There’s a detailed F.A.Q. which explains how the scripts are created, how to make sense of the dialogues, how to determine whether a reading is positive or negative, what to make of the various characters, and why these specific 6 plays were chosen for the system: http://www.mysteryarts.com/play/.)

Here's the strangely positive scenario that the oracle generated when asked about the new year:

The scene begins ominously: "They're putting out all the lights."  That vague pronoun seems to refer to the "powers that be."  Yet the character Snookums feels "perfectly fan-tas-a-ma-gor-ious."  This is crucial, not just for its positivity, but also for how the word is broken down.  This means: separate out the component parts, get down to the roots, see how it all fits together, and it'll all be good (albeit sort of unreal; the fantastical is removed from reality).  At the heart of the scene is some weeping, nervous rocking back and forth, darkness, and unconsciousness.  Yet a tin soldier (symbolic of humble, innocent, uncorrupted authority) points to the rear of the stage where a candle is being lit.  "Here is a candle," says Paddy Mike; "Now I'll light it."  A single candle dispels all the darkness.  The scene ends on an extraordinarly positive tone.  Note that the candle has been placed upon a box.  A lingering question to ponder is: what's in that box that supports the illumination?

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October 26, 2016 (permalink)

"The mystery of the ages is clear to me."  From "The Mysterious Painting" by C. N. Barham, in Cassell's, 1893.   Also very much of interest: The Young Wizard's Hexopedia.
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October 20, 2016 (permalink)

Due to our mysteriously esoteric studies, we're often asked for oracular predictions about Hallowe'en.  For this year's holiday, we consulted our own Mimetic Oracle, and here's why: Hallowe'en is a grand pageant, and it's been said that theatre reveals what is behind so-called reality.  Our Mimetic Oracle draws from 92 characters in six vintage plays, with 166 spoken lines and 31 stage directions in the mix.  With the system, one randomly draws five characters and generates a script to illuminate the current drama of life.  (There’s a detailed F.A.Q. which explains how the scripts are created, how to make sense of the dialogues, how to determine whether a reading is positive or negative, what to make of the various characters, and why these specific 6 plays were chosen for the system: http://www.mysteryarts.com/play/.)

Here's the surreal scenario that the oracle generated when asked about this year's Hallowe'en:

The first line says that "Nobody knows it better than you do."  This indicates that your deepest instinct about this year's Hallowe'en will prove correct.  Note that two characters in this scene laugh: a lame boy and a constable—a foreshortened leg and the long arm of the law.  We interpret this as meaning that high spirits are the long and short of it.  At the heart of the scene is a secret.  The character Biddy Mary proclaims that if there's anything on earth she does love, it's a secret.  She repeats this statement until the end of the scene, as if giving the maximum emphasis possible that a delicious secret will be learned this Hallowe'en.  Note that every character in the scene except one is facing left.  Biddy Mary is facing right, suggesting that her secret will carry things forward in some way.  The scene ends with Enlarged Snookums' own echoing words, "Oh, goody, goody, goody!"  This reinforces the positivity of the oracular reading as well as suggests Hallowe'en treats/goodies.  It's a profoundly favorable reading with a juicy secret at its heart.

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August 2, 2016 (permalink)

"Divination by a daffodil" -- how the flower can presage your death.  From English Illustrated, 1890.
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June 26, 2016 (permalink)


Here's an AmazonUK review by Clem Neville of our book Trump L'Oeil: Tarot Of Portmeirion:

5 stars.
Is this book worth the price? In a way no. It is of the size and quality of a guide that you would find at various country houses, museums and places of interest and expect tp pay in the region of £6.95. Is it worth it for the content? Well if you are as interested in the Tarot and the village of Portmeirion as I am, then without a doubt. Hence the 5 stars. It would have been better if all the cards of the minor arcana had a descriptive text to accompany them, and the choice of some of the architectural features to illustrate them is rather tenuous e.g. the 4 of wands uses a picture of a pinnacle supported by columns above the roof of the dome, my issue being there are 8 columns, but 4 remain hidden at the back behind the 4 at the front. But as an idea of creating a Tarot deck in an urban landscape it does make you think. Portmeirion is a small location with a restricted number of possible subjects. Imagine doing the same for the City of London.
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May 26, 2016 (permalink)

"You don't have to be a psychic to sell oriental rugs.  You only have to be a psychic to buy them."  From Raymond Chandler's "Killer in the Rain," 1964.
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May 19, 2016 (permalink)

We don't vote, but due to our mysteriously esoteric studies we're often asked for oracular predictions of elections.  For the result of the 2016 presidential election, we consulted our own Mimetic Oracle, and here's why: politics is a grand pageant, and it's been said that theatre reveals what is behind so-called reality.  Our Mimetic Oracle draws from 92 characters in six vintage plays, with 166 spoken lines and 31 stage directions in the mix.  With the system, one randomly draws five characters and generates a script to illuminate the current drama of life.  (There’s a detailed F.A.Q. which explains how the scripts are created, how to make sense of the dialogues, how to determine whether a reading is positive or negative, what to make of the various characters, and why these specific 6 plays were chosen for the system: http://www.mysteryarts.com/play/.)

Here's what the oracle generated when asked about the presidential election:

Our scene begins with a character called Wishing Man, his pockets full of lucky charms, who symbolizes a voter hoping for his respective candidate to win.  Also on stage are the "Dutch Twins," who represent the two Clintons.  One of the twins, here named Klinker, is "almost asleep," presumably exhausted from campaigning.  A character named Hulda holds a tinsel star, and we interpret her as a delegate appointed to the electoral college.  The "Third Spirit" points to the stony ground, as if directing the tinsel comet to fulfill its destiny and let shimmering dreams become the hard facts of reality.  Finally, Baby Jumbo enters, dancing to the music, and we need not specify the symbol of the elephant in American politics.  Interestingly, the scene comes full circle, with the Wishing Man from the start returning to whisper in the elephant's ear.  This is a bit of mystery within the reading -- what is the Wishing Man's secret or request?  The elephant's response possibly offers a clue: it raises a front foot and gives the Wishing Man a pill box.  Though the nature of the pills is unspecified, we know that the most commonly prescribed drug is hydrocodone, an opioid.  Is the implication that the very idea of an election is a political opiate for the masses?  As Douglas Herman has asked, "Is voting a patriotic duty, placebo or drug of choice?  ... You can vote and feel really, really, really good about yourself.  Like a drug addict getting a powerful dose after a long time away. ... Rigged elections are for drugged fools, who believe that to participate is a worthy, patriotic high."


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May 1, 2016 (permalink)

Here's one of the cards from the Self-Intuiting Polarity deck.  A heart is on one side of the scale and a feather on the other, recalling the ancient Egyptian concept of one’s heart being weighed upon one’s death and needing to weigh less than a feather.  Without one side of the scale or the other, things can feel very unbalanced.  The heart’s arteries are tangled like the serpent.  The serpent in the center may represent the rise of energy in a relationship to bring things back into harmony, balance and interaction.  Is this the motion of kundalini and the heart chakra as uniter?  The feather, the serpent, and the heart all point the same way.  1 is the number of focus, initiation, beginnings, and male aspects.  2 is the number of reflection, receiving, manifesting, and feminine aspects.  The feather may represent light-heartedness, higher ideals, divine intervention, wings.  The feather is not, however, in a position to fly away or flee, but rather rests comfortably, nested, balanced with the heart.  Other interpretations: weighing one's options, the philosophy of “less is more,” trusting that things will balance out.

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April 19, 2016 (permalink)

In a magical shop at Universal Studios Orlando, we discovered a crystal ball that seems to project holograms of its gazers in all directions.  Here's the snap we captured of the effect as we consulted the mysterious sphere.

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April 13, 2016 (permalink)

"Somebody, with fervour unavailing, is pleading for an answer—'Yes, or no?'"  From Cassell's, 1886.
If you'd like to divine the answer, our Augural Agglomerator has it, here.
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March 6, 2016 (permalink)

Someone asked our Augural Agglomerator, "Will Peter and Wendy get back together?"  The Agglomerator answered "Open" (exactly 50% between Yes and No) (and here is the exact report, with all 59 separate oracle readings).  At first we thought that the Agglomerator was in error, because we all know that Wendy chose not to fly away with Peter Pan, deciding instead to remain with the Darlings, and when she visited Neverland once a year to clean house, her eyes were less and less able to detect Peter's presence.  Where does the uncertainty lie?, we wondered.  And then the obvious hit us like a little ball of light: Tinker Bell.

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March 2, 2016 (permalink)

"Ask Henda.  'She knows the answers'" to these questions: "Will I be lucky in love?"  "Will I have financial trouble this year?"  "Is this my lucky day?"  "Am I putting on too much weight?"  "Will it rain today?"  "Will my health improve?"  From the State Fair of Texas, 1984, photographed by Lynn Lennon.
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September 27, 2015 (permalink)

It's been said that theatre reveals what is behind so-called reality and that a text exists only as an event that reveals the reader’s self.  And so we present our new Mimetic Oracle, which draws from 92 characters in six vintage plays, with 166 spoken lines and 31 stage directions in the mix.  With the system, you randomly draw five characters and generate a script to illuminate whatever drama of life you find yourself in.  There’s a detailed F.A.Q. which explains how the scripts are created, how to make sense of the dialogues, how to determine whether a reading is positive or negative, what to make of the various characters, and why these specific 6 plays were chosen for the system: http://www.mysteryarts.com/play/.

We generated a reading concerning the blood moon this evening:

Our scene begins somewhat ominously, with a deepening darkness: “They’re putting out all the lights.”  We aren’t told who “they” are, but there’s a force beyond our immediate control that is behind the darkness.   But then a character laughs, and soft music is heard in the distance along with some faintly chiming bells, so the feeling is less sinister than we might have first felt.  Another character bemoans that it’s so dark she can’t even see stars or the moon, yet at that moment an old fiddler comes on stage, sits on a barrel, and begins tuning up.  So the darkness isn’t foreboding but rather in preparation for a musical performance; house lights go down in advance of stage lights coming on.  The fact that the scene ends with a fiddler indicates that there will be harmony.  This is a decidedly positive reading, assuring us that any darkness associated with the blood moon is merely preparatory to something favorable.


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September 1, 2015 (permalink)

We're pleased that one retail store is offering our wide-awake dreaming card deck (deeply rooted in Mystery traditions so as to instantly illuminate any question) for fully 60% off, taking the price down from $100 to $40.  The deck won't be signed or numbered, but it will be boxed and will include a printed booklet revealing secrets about each card.  Here's the link:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/self-intuiting-polarity-cards

One of our favorite reactions so far:

"I'm nearing the point of obsession.  I can't look away, and don't want to -- like Tarot cards, but with built-in illumination, and much more fun.  Brilliant, says I!"  —Jeff Hawkins

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July 31, 2015 (permalink)

Our highly unusual guide to astragalomancy received on the same day a one-star and five-star review.  We'll reveal what a roll of 1 and 5 means, but first, we'll tell you what the five-star review says: "If you have an interest in divination and an interest in the history of magic and language...this is a great source of extensive research into an obscure science. Craig Conley has a natural gift to uncover hidden knowledge from the ancient past and present it in artistic and understandable write ups and illustrations."
And here's the roll of 5 and 1 from page 19 of our book:

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July 27, 2015 (permalink)

The "Seven Sleepers" Spread

(our guest post for Thematic Tarot)

Here's a seven-card Tarot spread based upon the ancient legend of the Seven Sleepers, a Greek story popularized in Christian and Islamic lore about a group of youths fleeing from religious persecution who fall asleep in a grotto outside of Ephesus and awake centuries later to find a very changed world.  (It's a rather heart-wrenching tale, as the awakened sleepers go off in search of their families and find only strangers living in their homes who treat them as if they've gone mad.  The seven finally realize that they had slept for centuries and do not belong to this new world, so they lay themselves down to die.)  The Roman Martyrology commemorates them on July 27, hence the timing of our Tarot spread in their honor.  Our illustration appears in a retelling of the story by the great American humorist Mark Twain.  Though the sleepers' names have been lost to the ravages of time, Twain identifies them thusly: Trump, Gift, Game, Jack, Low, High, and Johannes Smithianus.  

Draw one card for each sleeper in turn.  Here's how to approach the seven, and because the legend is so old, we'll include some antiquated interpretations:

Trump: Like the "trump card" of a game, this points to a valuable resource that you can use in order to gain an advantage, perhaps in a surprising way.  An antiquated meaning for "trump" is a helpful or admirable person.

Gift: This suggests something that ought be given willingly, without compensation, like a present or donation or bequest.  It may also suggest a natural ability/talent that you can tap.  An antiquated meaning for "gift" is a "thing lifted up," as in an offering or sacrifice to a higher power.

Game: This refers to a competition, a pleasurable distraction, perhaps a gambit.  Skill, strength, or luck may be at play.  Antiquated meanings of "game" are "a jest or joke" and "a laughing stock," so the Tarot card would identify something to be lighthearted about.

Jack: A jack is a device for lifting heavy objects, so a Tarot card placed here will identify a way to ease a burden.  An antiquated meaning of "jack" is an unskilled worker (hence the old saying, "a jack of all trades and master of none"), so the Tarot card would point to something that needs training, experience, or practice.

Low and High: The "highs and lows" of life recall the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below."  Low (something worldly) will illuminate what is reflecting from on high (something spiritual).  A Tarot card on "low" might indicate a stepping stone, while that on "high" might point to something to reach toward.  An antiquated meaning for "high" is "holy," so the Tarot card would indicate something sacred.  An antiquated meaning for "low" is "shout," so the Tarot card would carry a strong emotion.

Johannes Smithianus: This is a fancy way of saying "John Smith," or a typical human being.  Everyman is the name of the principal character in the 15-century morality play.  The Tarot card here will point to your better qualities, such as kindness or sensitivity.  Originally, "human" and "humane" were the same word, so an antiquated meaning is "compassion."

Three optional cards to draw:

Mark Twain notes that on the gravestones of the seven sleepers were also inscribed, in ancient letters, the "names of three heathen gods of olden time, perchance: Rumpunch, Jinsling, [and] Egnog [sic]."  So three additional cards may be drawn:

Rumpunch: One of the original names for this sugarcane liquor rum was "kill-devil," so a Tarot card for "Rumpunch" would point to a way to dispel darkness.

Jinsling: An old nickname for this juniper berry liquor gin is "kill-grief," so a Tarot card for "Jinsling" would point to a way to dispel sorrow.

Egnog: This creamy egg punch ritualistically marks the occasion of a holiday and is synonymous with comfort, so a Tarot card for "Egnog" would point to a source of strength, relief, encouragement, consolation, and/or cheer.

A final possible card:

Some versions of the legend, including Mark Twain's, feature a canine companion to the seven sleepers.  The dog Ketmehr accompanied the seven when he accidentally ran his head through the loop of a noose that one of the youths was carelessly carrying.  When the seven fell asleep in the cave, Ketmehr lay at the entrance and scared off any strangers who approached.  So a Tarot card in honor of Ketmehr would point to a guardian or source of protection, perhaps even an accidental or unwilling safeguard.  In the legend, when the sleepers awaken, the dog is long gone, with nothing save the brass that was upon his collar as evidence that he had kept guard.

Mark Twain's account of the seven sleepers appears in The Innocents Abroad, 1869.  The earliest known version of the story traces back to the Syrian bishop Jacob of Sarug (c. 450–521), itself derived from an earlier though lost Greek source.  A well-known medieval version of the story appears in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (c. 1260).  The story is also told in the Qur'an (Surah 18, verses 9–26).

 

 

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July 8, 2015 (permalink)

From our guest blog at Thematic Tarot:

Tarot "Witnesses"

Have you ever called upon a Tarot witness?  Our idea here shouldn't be confused with eye-witness testifiers in a law court, or with Christianity's idea of openly professing one's faith through words and actions.  There's a more metaphoric concept of witnessing, since even eye-witness accounts tend to be of questionable factual accuracy.  As Berel Lang notes in Philosophical Witnessing (2009), it is "less the specific details in [witness'] accounts that give them their special force, but the fact of their speakers' presence in the event witnessed, and the persistence of that fact in the continuing (in this sense, perpetual) present.  The metaphoric aspect of witnessing thus adds itself to the historical reference, even for those who were physically present" (p. 14).  And so when we call upon archetypal witnesses via Tarot cards, we summon a cultural or collective validation from visible, trusted presences who articulate after the facts so as to separate important events from the mundane, thereby facilitating understanding and meaningful change.

Imagine our delight to encounter in an old book four witnesses who can serve as a Tarot spread template.  Underground, or Life Below the Surface by Thomas Wallace Knox (1873) introduces us to "the interesting witness, the knowing witness, the deaf witness, and the irrelevant witness."

A Tarot card placed upon the "interesting" witness would testify to something in particular that should catch and hold the querent's attention.  This is something you should want to know or learn more about, and it's something positive, perhaps even exciting, but certainly worthy of curiosity.

The "knowing" witness points to something that you have knowledge or awareness of that others do not, or to something that you can now discover through observation or inquiry.  We say informally that to know is to be "clued in," and the "knowing" witness is your clue.

The "deaf" witness is oblivious or otherwise indifferent to what his Tarot card communicates.  This is a message that is within earshot but which hasn't yet penetrated and may need to reach shouting proportions before it does.

The "irrelevant" witness points to something that has been exhibited as evidence but which is immaterial or otherwise beside the point.  This is an issue that is actually unrelated to the matters at hand and can now be let go of.

 

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Original Content Copyright © 2017 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.