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, a “monk for the modern age” by George Parker, 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
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Found 11 posts tagged ‘portmeirion’

Images Moving Through Time – January 11, 2021 (permalink)

An old postcard gifted to me by friends in Wales.  Date uncertain.
This precise location is now developed with something highly unusual.  See Puzzling Portmeirion.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .
#portmeirion #vintage postcard
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Images Moving Through Time – December 7, 2020 (permalink)

An old postcard gifted to me by friends in Wales.  Undated.  The very intriguing mysteries of this place are explored in Puzzling Portmeirion.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .
#wales #portmeirion #vintage postcard #the prisoner
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Images Moving Through Time – November 14, 2020 (permalink)

An old Portmeirion postcard gifted to me by friends in Wales.  Undated.  The very intriguing mysteries of this place are explored in Puzzling Portmeirion.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .
#wales #portmeirion #vintage postcard
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Images Moving Through Time – January 17, 2020 (permalink)

An old Portmeirion postcard gifted to me by friends in Wales.  Undated.  The very strange mysteries of this place are explored in Puzzling Portmeirion.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .
#portmeirion #vintage postcard
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Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore – July 31, 2018 (permalink)

Pictured, we're listening to the whispers of a standing stone at Portmeirion, Wales, part of our research for the Tarot of Portmeirion deck and book.  We're delighted by a new review of that project:

The Trump L’Oeil Tarot of Portmeirion is an exciting Tarot experiment that cannot be missed in your deck collection. It’s an invitation to delve into those elements that day by day challenge us to think about the coincidences that manifest the archetypal energy contained in the world of men. Do you dare to find the archetypes that govern your life? You can see them in Portmeirion, that’s for sure.

Here are some additional snippets from the insightful review:

Any tarot deck is a journey, but Trump L’Oeil Tarot of Portmeirion represents an adventure of multiple nuances and layers. In this card set, you will find a photographic trip through the streets of Portmeirion, a small but very peculiar Village located in the north of Wales. ...

Craig Conley, the author of Trump L’Oeil, is a multifaceted artistic documentarian, with a passion for literature, arts, photography and, of course, Portmeirion. Conley is dedicated to spiritual growth, transformation, and study from the most diverse perspectives.  In some sense, his personality is as baroque as that of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the visionary who built Portmeirion. With great achievements in the world of music and technology, this hard working artist was captivated by the charm of Portmeirion village and fell into the psychic spell of the archetypes that abound in its streets. ...

Walking through Portmeirion inch by inch we will find those little miracles of the collective unconscious that let us glimpse the depth of Jung’s research. Each corner holds a powerful relic that immediately takes us back to think about a Major trump and its important guidance towards personal enrichment.  The statue of a cherub on the verge of falling from a cliff is one of the most touching and impressive interpretations that we can confer to the Fool Major Trump. Usually portrayed as an older man being chased by the intuitive dog that protects him, we can easily connect with the erratic energy of this little angel who sloppily throws himself into the world of mortals in a decision that could change his life, isn’t that a perfect analogy for our dear Fool?  Of course, the Magician cannot be other than Sir Williams-Ellis, the alchemist who took all the elements at his disposal during a construction and reconstruction process that took him 50 years to complete. The minor Trumps are symbolized in relation to the elements with which they have traditionally been associated.

See the full review here.  The deck is also available at GameCrafter.  Look inside the book over at Amazon.

> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .
#wales #tarot #portmeirion #standing stone
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Restoring the Lost Sense – September 19, 2017 (permalink)

From The Unknown Way by William Cullen Bryant, 1885.  We, too, have taken the Unknown Way, and we have photographic evidence.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#off the beaten path #portmeirion #unknown way #less traveled
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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory – April 29, 2016 (permalink)

Here's our Droste effect of the day — Prof. Oddfellow holding his portrait in Jim Girouard's letter-dice divination book Journey Into Eternity and standing in front of a print of said portrait, itself in front of Oddfellow's photo of Portmeirion's camera obscura which features in the drawing.  
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
#droste effect #portmeirion
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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory – August 4, 2015 (permalink)

For an upcoming book, the artist Jim Girouard depicts Prof. Oddfellow listening to a mysterious whisper in a liminal zone between Portmeirion, Wales and a museum of the weird.  We made an animated gif of sketches he sent throughout the creation of the piece.

> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
#divination #magick #wizard #alphabet #fortune teller #magician #wales #portmeirion #animated gif #artistic process #sketch to completion
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Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore – June 27, 2015 (permalink)

For fans of the 60s cult TV show The Prisoner and the Welsh fantasy village of Portmeirion, our Tarot of Portmeirion deck is now carried by The Game Crafter.  (See Bonnie Cehovet's review of our deck over at Aeclectic Tarot.)

> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .
#vintage illustration #tarot #portmeirion #the prisoner #tarot cards #tarot deck
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The Right Word – May 1, 2015 (permalink)

How to Use a Magic Word as a Tarot Spread Template

(from our guest post at Thematic Tarot)

The great alchemist John Dee designed a protective magical talisman under the direction of the angel Uriel: crossed lines, a central circle, and the letters A, G, L, and A.  These letters constitute an acronym (also known as a kabbalistic "notariqon") of the unspeakable primordial name that was lost through the ages.  It's a well-kept secret that this talisman can serve as a revealing template for a four-card Tarot spread.  


The Hebraic words of the acronym are understood to be: Atah Gebur Le-olahm Adonai.  This sentence is translated many ways, but you'll see the underlying similarities:

  • "You reign for eternity, O Lord."
  • "Thou art mighty forever, O Lord."
  • "Thou art strong to eternity, Lord."
  • "Thou art mighty to the ages, amen."
  • "Thou art great forever, my Lord."
  • "Thine is the power throughout endless ages, O Lord."

(Interestingly, in the Middle Ages, Christians in Germany used AGLA as a talisman against fire, the letters standing as an acronym for a German sentence meaning, "Almighty God, extinguish the conflagration," as noted in The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion by Adele Berlin.) 

We'll explore three approaches to AGLA for purposes of Tarot spreads.  The simplest is based upon this interpretation of the Hebraic words: 

"You are strong through the ages, so be it."


The card placed upon "You" is, of course, the significator.  The card placed upon "Are Strong" refers to the querent's greatest strength.  The card placed upon "Through the Ages" refers to an ongoing issue that seems woven into the entire course of one's lifetime.  The card placed upon "So Be It" refers to a truth or certainty that one need not waste energy upon resisting.

Here's how such a reading might go.  Drawing cards from the Tarot of Portmeirion, we place the King of Wands on A, "You"; the Ace of Swords on G, "Are Strong"; the Empress on L, "Through the Ages"; and the High Priestess on A, "So Be It."  As the significator, the King of Wands depicts a golden Burmese statue of a dancer high atop a stone column, communicating artistic flair and confidently setting a glowing example far and wide.  As the symbol of strength, the Ace of Swords depicts a sea-beaten shaft of iron that has survived the cliffside structure it once supported, symbolizing a steadfast spirit undaunted by adversity.  As a symbol of the ages, the Empress depicts a statue of the Nordic all-mother Goddess Frigga (labeled "Frix" on the plinth).  Wielding a broken crossbow in her left hand and the hilt of a sword in the other, the Empress stands assuredly atop a limestone pedestal, head turned toward her right.  She is framed by greenery and overlooks a small fountain -- a popular wishing well -- establishing her as a heeder of prayers and granter of desires.  Her broken sword (presumably ruined over time) is of interest, as it symbolizes a firm grip on intention, free from lacerations.  Within the context of this spread, we can interpret the Ace of Swords as depicting the Empress' lost blade.  The "So Be It" High Priestess is a trompe l’oeil mermaid "sculpture" painted on sheet metal.  She sports two tails, symbolizing duality.  They curl up to suggest, along with her curved arms, a figure-eight/infinity shape.  The infinity shape is echoed in the dramatic curls of her hair.  Eyes closed, she cradles a large fish from whose mouth flows the water of the deep realm of the unconscious.  The High Priestess, framed by an archway, meditatively sits atop a sphere in a stone pavilion near a tollgate.  In terms of "So Be It," she indicates the wisdom of the inner voice during contemplative silence, the need for patience, and the importance of a deep understanding.

Unity-fruitfulness-perfect-cycle-synthesisAnother way to approach AGLA is explained in Eliphas Levi's The History of Magic.  Levi proposes that the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, signifies unity; the letter Gimel, the third in the alphabet, signifies the triad and hence fruitfulness (as in two parents creating a third life); the letter Lamed signifies the perfect cycle; and the duplicated Aleph signifies synthesis.

Syllepsis-analysis-science-synthesisLevi offers a third way to understand AGLA: syllepsis, analysis, science, synthesis.

Syllepsis (from the Greek meaning "taking together") is a term of semantics and refers to a word or expression that is simultaneously figurative and literal.  It's a word that we can understand in two different ways at the same time.  But those two ways are bound together like two sides of the same coin, as the theorist Riffaterre has put it.  Whatever card is placed upon Syllepsis refers to something whose polar opposite we're overlooking, like what's embossed on the back of a coin.  In other words, there's an inescapable duality at play.  To find the bright side, look for the humor in this, because Syllepsis is a form of punning, a wordplay of double meanings.

The card placed upon Analysis refers to what needs to be examined in detail to determine its constituent elements or structure.  Analysis comes from the Greek word meaning to "unloose," so on the bright side this is something about which we can loosen up, quite literally.

The card placed upon Science refers to something that could benefit from discipline, observation, and experimentation.

The card placed upon Synthesis (from the Greek meaning to "place together") is a call to combine ideas into a theory or system.

Levi reminds us that "according to Kabalah, the perfect word is the word realised by acts."  Acting upon AGLA with Tarot cards can be a profound way to translate its knowledge into action and thereby understand its mysteries.

For more details about the talisman AGLA, see The Young Wizard's Hexopedia (pictured below) and Magic Words: A Dictionary.


—Craig Conley is author of The Young Wizard's Hexopedia, the Tarot of Portmeirion, HarperCollins' One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, Pomegranate's One Letter Words Knowledge Cards Deck, and Weiser Books' Magic Words: A Dictionary.  He is co-author of New Star Books' Franzlations: A Guide to the Imaginary Parables.  He has published dozens of articles in such magazines as Verbatim, Pentacle, Mothering, and Magic.  His work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, Publishers Weekly, The Associated Press, and dozens of others.

> read more from The Right Word . . .
#divination #talisman #tarot #agla #john dee #portmeirion #magic word #notariqon
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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? – October 7, 2010 (permalink)

You can’t step on the same stream bank twice.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .
#photography #waterfall #wales #portmeirion #photographer #people with cameras #stream
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Original Content Copyright © 2020 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.