www.schifferbooks.com (cardstock version)
www.dragonfiresigns.com (wooden version)
In my years of reviewing pirate products, I’ve seen a lot of repetition in product – multiple manufacturers of pirate hats, multiple varieties of pirate games, all sorts of varied pirate music, etc. This isn’t remotely a bad thing, as variety and options are indeed the spice of piratey life. But it is a rare thing to come across something truly new, as is the case with The Pirate Tarot.
For those unfamiliar, tarot cards are intended as a way of divining the future. Cards are shuffled, a question is asked, and the cards are layed out in patterns to represent past, present, future, and any number of other factors. Tarot deck designs are most usually mystical in nature – elves, wizards, etc, but can be made in any number of themes, including – at last – pirates. This particular deck is available in two formats – the affordable cardstock with printings of wood etchings, or the more expensive yet entirely awesome wooden deck in which the images are indeed laser etched into the woodface. The backs of the cards feature mirror imaged jolly rogers, while the fronts contain their pirate imagery representing the cards’ meaning, along with some helpful words to aid those of us who never bothered to study up on the meaning of all 78 cards in the standard tarot.
Rather than talk in generalities about this tarot deck, I figured it would be more fun for us all to see it in action. As such, I recorded the experiences of my first two readings – the first being a fairly basic spread, and the second more complex. Both were conducted per instructions found in the box that contained the deck. So prepare, dear readers, for a glimpse into the future…
By way of breaking in my new cards (and my fledgling fortune telling skills) let’s start with a basic Three Card Spread in which one card represents the past, one the present, and the final (can you guess?) the future. Generally there should be one person doing the reading, and another asking the question, but since I don’t have many sober friends I’ll be my own reader. And so my question:
Will Bilgemunky Radio be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone within 5 years?
I shuffle the cards. This in itself is no easy task as the cards are not only very big, but very stiff (if you just giggled, then go sit in the corner.) Combined with the fact that a tarot deck has significantly more cards than a regular poker deck, this makes shuffling very tricky indeed. I took my time and tried my best to get them nicely mixed. I concluded with a quick cut of the deck and the laying out of three cards…
“Past” – The 9 of Cups, which represents contentment, satisfaction and cheer. I am indeed satisfied with the past of Bilgemunky Radio, partly in that it’s been fun (hence the cheer), and partly in that it’s over (hence fewer technical glitches.) In this respect I suppose I’m content with the current stability of Bilgemunky Radio, although I don’t see what that has to do with Rolling Stone. I really wish these cards would stay more to question at hand.
“Present” – The 6 of Coins, representing charity, patronage, and responsibility. I do indeed view myself as the patron of pirate music lovers everywhere, and you are all my children. Like good children, I expect you to take care of me when I grow old and feeble.
“Future” – Not a tarot card, but an ad for two pirate books that was printed on cardstock and included in the package. I probably should have removed this prior to shuffling. Or perhaps this is the metaphysical version of the popup ad.
Alas, this first reading was something of a bust. Perhaps it’s my fault for not knowing what I’m doing, but I’d rather just blame global warming and move on to the next reading. This time I’ll tackle the more complex (and hopefully more informative) Celtic Cross, which features a full ten cards addressing a range of issues related to the question asked. And so a new question:
Will the popularity of Bilgemunky.com grow to such a degree that one day rogue boaters will follow me into the Caribbean so we might all conquer a moderately sized group of islands and create a new world order in the form of a pirate utopia in which all must drink rum, bathe in gunpowder, and bask in the teachings of Bilgemunky?
Again I shuffle, cut, and layout out the cards. The first card in this spread is “Covering,” which is filled by the 3 of Coins. Representing important issues and influences related to the question at hand, I take heart that the 3 of Coins indicates a mastery of skills, renown, and profit. This bodes very well for the future of a Bilgemunkytopia, as the endeavour should prove both glorious and profitable. However, “The Crossing” card which follows represents obstacles, and being the Ace of Cups (contentment, joy, fertility), it indicates that our greatest obstacle will be our own lack of drive. If we are willing to settle for a life of lying on the couch watching reality TV and eating nachos all day long, we will never master the skills necessary to conquer our own island nation.
“The Crown” card represents the best outcome we can hope to achieve. As the First Mate of Cups, it would indicate escapism, romance, and dreams. Perhaps this means that Bilgemunkytopia will never be a physical reality, but rather exist only in the hearts and minds of millions of starry-eyed pirate wannabees – or perhaps it means we will all indeed escape the drudgery of the ordinary world and found a society of swashbuckling romance and dreamy wenches.
“The Root” card speaks of the past and how it will influence the outcome. The 8 of Swords, featuring a tied up wench surrounded by blades, represents confinement, helplessness, and fear. Much like the teachings of Yoda, we must clearly overcome the fears that have held us back from achieving our goals. Also of note, the wench on this card is quite hot, and I’ll bet dollars to donuts she’s one of the many dreamy wenches awaiting us at Bilgemunkytopia.
We next view “The Past”, which seems a little redundant after “The Root,” except that it deals with the very recent past and how it came to bring about the question at hand. This card turns out to be The Sun (featuring a very happy cat with a very big fish). Representing contentment, clarity, and confidence, it obviously means that my decision to inquire the fates about the future of Bilgemunkytopia reflects the greatest clarity of mind, and is by no means a foolish notion. Following “The Past,” naturally, is “The Future,” which indicates what new influences might play a part. A 2 of Pistols, it represents satsfaction, chagrin, and restlessness. I’m unclear how satisfaction and chagrin share a card, and restlessness too seems out of left field. This card confuses me more than anything, so I’ll just assume I’m about to win the lotto.
The cross section of the Celtic Cross reading is now completed, but we still have a line of four cards that should clear up any remaining questions. “Factors” speaks of internal influences. A Captain of Swords, I’m now assured that I will indeed possess the willpower, judgement, and authority to lead the founding of a pirate utopia. “External Influences” are foretold by a Captain of Coins representing protection, business acumen, and grounding – it indeed seems clear that Bilgemunkytopia will be built on a strong foundation of commerce and strength. The “Hopes and Fears” card is meant to reveal what I personally expect the outcome to be, so it comes as no surprise that the 6 of Pistols represents triumph, accolades, and recognition. And all this leads to the “Final Outcome” card, whose title surely speaks for itself. I’m surprised to find it’s a Cabinboy of Coins, meaning that Bilgemunkytopia won’t merely be an awesome haven for piratey partying, but also home of piratey scholarship and study. Much akin to drunken vulcans, we’ll surely lay the groundwork for fun and wisdom alike.
And thus conclude my readings. Whether or not Bilgemunky Radio will soon be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone remains murky and clouded in shadow, but all signs bode well for the future of Bilgemunkytopia, pirate haven and home of the wise scalliwags. If you would like to peek into your own piratey future, I’d heartily recommend the Pirate Tarot. And if you can afford it, I’d even more heartily recommend trying the wooden version, although it’s likely even tougher to shuffle than is the cardstock version.
#1. Now that was a great, in-depth review. Good stuff.
#2. “if you just giggled, then go sit in the corner.”: #$%^!
Bilge Munky, Can I come outta th’ corner now? Thar be a spider build’n a web in me nose ‘n I gotta sneeze!!
Bilgemunkytopia? Where can a wench sign on?