While faffing about autumnal Kiev, I met a new love

But before I tell you about that, here are some tourist pictures (since it’s been dawning on me that most of the people who read this blog don’t really live in Kiev, and haven’t even been there):

OK, I need affordable real estate. Right. Hello? God?
Podol. OK, I need affordable real estate. Right here. Hello? God?

I took the funicular up from Podol, and took a look at the bell tower of the Sofievskiy Cathedral. The picture doesn’t work at all and is blurry and rather crap-tastic overall, but I like the pretty colours:

For whom the bell tolls. Etc.
For whom the bell tolls. Etc.

And just off Independence Square, I saw this:

The haunted, frightened trees.
The haunted, frightened trees.

I think there are few urban centers where autumn is sadder, or more intense, than in Kiev. I know what you’re going to say – you’re going to say, “but what about St. Petersburg?” and while I haven’t been to St. Petersburg since the days when I ate dirt and tried to flush shoes down the toilet, I’m going to stroke my chin and point out that St. Petersburg is, um, crisper. Yes.

Anyway, the actual point of this post is the fact that I now have found, and bought, a gorgeous new tarot deck. It’s so gorgeous, that I squeaked “please hold this for me” and dashed out into the street and in search of an ATM. I never do this with these kinds of purchases; usually, I mull things over, call a friend and bug them for advice, wrinkle my nose, have a cup of tea, et cetera. Not this time, though. This was love at first sight. I was sitting there with a catalogue on my knees, telling the nice grandmotherly shopkeeper that I really, really wasn’t finding anything that matched my overall aesthetic and general philosophy, and suddenly, it was as if a mishmash of Eric Northman and half-forgotten dreams of giant cats and stars caught in trees had fallen into my lap. The lap went all a-quiver.

The cards feature Vikings. They’re weird and beautiful, and we’re having fun getting to know each other already.

16 thoughts on “While faffing about autumnal Kiev, I met a new love

  1. OOH! Hooray for new Tarot Cards! 😀 I know what you mean – I have 5 decks at the moment and one in particular ‘The Goddess Tarot’ is so beautiful I had to have it. I wasn’t even thinking of buying a deck that day either.

    Do you find (if you have more than one deck) that different decks are more successful for different types of readings? If you don’t have more than one deck it’s a good idea to have at least two because I find they get ‘run down’ if you use one deck too often and the readings can go a bit squiffy.

  2. Those photos are gorgeous.

    St. Petersburg is not crisper, though. St. Pete is chill and damp and has no crispness whatsoever.

  3. I usually just have one deck, but I needed to branch out from this one. Some of the designs are a little much, and I could never get used to the cards 100%, even though it’s a really cool deck. I think this one will go down quicker – hopefully.

    St. Pete just looks crisp to me from a distance, you know? Well, the nice buildings do. Kiev is messier. Older. Etc. 🙂

  4. Only the facades of the nice buildings look crisp. You have to go into the dvors to really see and feel St. Petersburg. The dvors are not crisp. They are messier, older, crumblier, full of odd corners and weird lines and roofs silhouetted against the ever-gray sky.

  5. Maybe it’s just my born-again-ness, or my former witch mother-in-law who determined life for all by her Tarot cards, but please be careful in taking too much of what they say to heart. I think God has much better plans for you than anything a card would put together (which can be manipulated by the one who speaks darkly in the night), and He knows how much you like surprises. Thanks for putting up with my always different viewpoints.

  6. Strange and kinda beautiful. I never could figure out that Eastern way from my side of 9 time zones of separation. Is Nabokov hilarious or creepy or tragic? Is that real angst that’s about to become a self-hanging, or stoic irony? I never could figure out the Goth thing either. Do you have any advice for a Canadian girl who loves pretty old buildings and might want to visit (or teach English?) in your country someday, but doesn’t want to get her ass kicked or get her life savings (about 200 Euros) stolen by crooked police?

  7. That’s a lot of questions.

    Are you referring to any specific work by Nabokov? Or just his most famous? Lolita is a pretty brutal and beautiful book, I would say. One of my favourites.

    Whose angst are we referring to here? If it’s mine, well, this is just your garden variety depression. If we’re talking about the way that Kiev looks in the fall – well, I don’t know. People respond to it differently.

    Getting a work visa to Ukraine is a pretty big bitch at the moment, as I understand. I would wait until the worst of the economic crisis is over. The best time to fly over for a visit is, by far, May. That’s when the chestnuts bloom.

  8. Yeah, I was talking about Lolita. I started Pale Fire in an English class that I didn’t finish. It was way over my head without professional help. I still have it though. I might read it someday just to prove I can, and then find out that it wasn’t so hard to begin with.

    I meant Kiev is strangely beautiful behind the haunted trees, but sometimes the words that come out through depression about orthodoxy, goth music and American assholes can blend together in a really weird way that sounds kinda beautiful at the same time.

    As far as visiting right now, that would be impossible anyway, but I’d like to see those old buildings up close someday. Maybe when I finish my degree. We don’t have many structures here that are that old (unless you want to count the native artifacts the archaeologists have to dig up because the natives here were all colonized and forced to live like the French&British).

    When I do come, I’ll try to do it in May. Is yours one of the countries where the “myth of the maple leaf” is something to live by? By that I mean, we hear urban legends from the time we’re little about how people all over the world like to throw American tourists out of bars and arrest them, kick their asses, usually with good reason, but not always. “Wear your maple leaf when you travel” is right up there with “Don’t eat the space cake if you visit Amsterdam.”

    Does wearing a Canadian flag make a difference there?

  9. I thought I’d put this one in a different blog because it’s about the Tarot. I like the William Blake deck, for the way the artwork lubes up my creative processes when I’m trying to write and doing it badly.
    My favourite when I’m contemplating life&death and evermore is still Lady Frieda Harris’s deck (a.k.a. the Aleister Crowley deck, but I don’t acknowledge him much because I’m not impressed with his contribution. She did all the work–all he did was peck her half to death about it) The artwork is exquisite. It has the same type of hypnotic effect as ritual drumming or a Gregorian chant.

  10. Well, let’s see.

    I definitely don’t think that Vladimir Nabokov himself was a creep. Lolita is certainly both hilarious and tragic, though.

    I don’t think that wearing any kind of foreign flags serves one well in Ukraine. I don’t really detect any heightened levels of animosity toward Americans, although maybe I just hang out in all the wrong places to be able to gauge that. I googled the William Blake deck – it’s pretty cool, but I think I still prefer my Vikings. Have you tried the Arthurian tarot? That one used to be my favourite. There are two versions, I believe, and the one I liked is the Legend one:


    It has a dark side, though, I think. Well, I guess they all do.

  11. Yes, my sister had an Arthurian deck. I thought at first that the pictures were pretty, all lord of the rings, with robed and armoured dudes that looked like a young Tony Iomi. I could hear Led Zeppelin and Yes offering up the counterpoint to my shuffling as I asked my questions. I’m a total classic rock loving, role-playing geek, by the way. Hence my blog name, “Warrior Princess”. Do you have satellite t.v.? Xena kicks ass!

    Anyway, I had the creepiest experience ever during a reading about my as yet unborn son. I was asking the cards about relocating to a cheaper place, applying for government housing, post-secondary education–which was still just a dream at that point–trying to see something in the images that might give clues about making the transition easier for his older sister, that sort of thing.

    Now keep in mind when I tell you my spooky story, I work really hard to stay skeptical and look for scientific explanations for the way our minds&bodies work. I call myself a cultural relativist and an agnostic for the sake of others’ self concepts, but I believe that most churches are completely full of shit, and out to stuff themselves full of the almighty buck. I am still open to a spiritual presence, but if it does exist, nobody has the right to tell anybody else that the “devil” will eat them for not being spiritual in a certain way.

    I’m still divided on matters of the “paranormal”. Most American and British psychologists have dismissed it, but the funny thing is, in just over half the studies I’ve read on clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis, etc. the authors of the studies conclude by directly or indirectly defending their own Christian beliefs. A tiny number of avowed atheists tell a very different story. One Stanford research psychologist actually paid for her doctorate with lottery winnings and dividends from long-shot stock market investments. She DID NOT ever publish a “how to get rich” book, and just knowing that makes my inner skeptic say: “Of course not; why the hell would she if she was for real?”

    At any rate, I use the cards as a meditation tool when I’ve been stuck in “left-brain” linear logic conformist mode for too long, and I feel as if atomistic divisive logic-chopping systems of measurement are splitting ME in half. I see the cards as my own thematic apperception test and a bridge to my creative, holistic, nurturing. “feminine” processes, or the part of me that likes to feed bunny rabbits and hug trees just because they’re pretty.

    So here I was, with my vanilla candles lit and my cinnamon incense burning, trying to think happy thoughts of baking cookies and “little firsts”, when an ugly shadow that was just a little too solid and dark to be a real shadow reached through the closed window beside me. It looked like a cross between a small, leafless tree branch, and an extremely large, gnarled hand. It swept through the room, palm down, and turned wrist up at my hip. It reached between my legs toward my belly with these vile grasping gestures as a voice behind me whisper-hissed, “KILL IT!”

    After I took a few hours to calm myself with humanistic psychobabble about inner fears and righting the in-congruences in my perceptions, I finished the reading, a Celtic Cross spread, and I still can’t find a satisfying naturalistic explanation for what I saw. The rest of the cards told a story of love and self- deception, with the 5 of cups in position #10, the final outcome. In position #6,the near future, was the 8 of swords. Check out the illustration on that one if you want to give yourself goosebumps.

    My son was born with a severe cognitive impairment that I suspect may have been a result of medical malpractice. The official diagnosis is Autism, but I’m more skeptical about that than I’ve ever been about any type of self-guided meditation. I hope I can trust my perceptions now, when I ask if we’ll be okay, and the cards answer, “Yes, you’ll be so much better than okay that you can’t even fathom what we’re trying to tell you.” All I can really do is hope that consistent appearances of #21, The World, means I will finish my “Great Work” before I’m too old to enjoy it, and that Isaac will enjoy it with me.

  12. That last blog of mine got stupidly long. Not exactly Poe, either. On Nabokov, no, I don’t think he was creepy. I looked up his bio, and the man was in every history making place in every paradigm making moment of the 20th century. He was a freaking Anne Rice character. Tres cool.

    Thanks for the advice about not flag waving. I’ve always wondered if that urban legend about the maple leaf was just some narcissism of minor difference thing that Canadians shove at Americans. Anyway, back to your lovely wheat coloured hair…

  13. I used to watch Xena as a kid in Charlotte, as I recall.

    You know, I personally don’t use tarot cards to predict the future. I look at them as a way of making sense of the present. That story with the shadow sounds creepy, and could point to some anxiety on your part at the time. Probably very much justifiable anxiety.

    Good luck to you both. The World is always a good card. I think it’s my favourite, actually.

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