Friday, April 21, 2006

Tarot's New Card - The Ten of Pencils

I have friends who believe in various types of magic. I try to keep my lack of belief in irrational superstitions from interfering with these friendships1. I figure if others will be nonjudgmental about my religious beliefs, I will do my best to be nonjudgmental about theirs.

My friend R is big on personality and life analysis through Astrology (both Zodiac and Chinese Year), Eneagrams, Meyers-Briggs and Tarot. She told me once that her totem card is the Ten of Swords. The Ten of Swords typically has a picture of a man on the ground with ten swords sticking out of his back.

You'd figure this is not a good card to have as your totem, but these magic systems always have a dark side and a bright side2.

The dark side of the ten of cards is the fairly obvious: "Holy cow3, you've got ten swords in your back! You are seriously messed up!" and the somewhat less obvious: "But come on, ten swords? Isn't that over doing it? Wouldn't one sword have been enough to kill you? Nobody likes a martyr you know."

The bright side? "Hey, there's nowhere to go but up! Things are going to improve! "

I've been trying to come up with a way to give R something that would remind her that better days are on their way. My first brainstorm was a ten of swords knifeblock. But when I tested that idea with a focus group I was told it was too creepy.

Here you have my solution - the Ten of Swords pencil holder:

  • Pencil Crayons from Big Buds: $1
  • Little Doll from the Buck or Two: $2
  • Piece of scrap wood
  • Photoshopped background image colour printed and glued to wood
  • 2 pushpins
  • Some old linen scraps

Post Script: R received her pencil holder early this week. At first she thought it was a voodoo doll, but I'd included a handy card with photo describing its true function. She likes it:

Thank you for the lovely gift! And when I pull a card on my birthday this year, I'm willing to bet it won't be the 10 of swords but something happy like the 3 of cups.4



1 Phrases like "irrational superstition", "ludicrous nonsense", and "complete bullcrap" turn out to be counter-productive to this goal, but sometimes, you have to be honest about what you're thinking, right?

2 Like if you were born in the Chinese Year of the Rat, you'd figure that would be all bad, but no: "Clever and quick-witted, the Rat of the Chinese Zodiac is utterly disarming to boot". Of course, it's not all good: "Behind that sweet smile, though, Rats are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas" [cite]

3 My apologies to those of you whose religious superstitions make phrases like "holy cow" offensive.

4 "The Three of Cups can stand for a mood or experience that makes you feel like dancing and singing."


Anonymous said...

as if there is not one single comment about this brilliant invention! i assume you can change the pencil crayons to regular pencils and pens? but i suppose you wouldn't want to inadvertently only leave 9 writing instruments in that back.... who knows what that might mean.

David Scrimshaw said...


Thank you most sincerely! I was beginning to wonder at the complete absence of accolades on the ten of pencils.

I had been thinking that R could replace the coloured pencils with pens or makers.

But I hadn't considered whether there would be implications from having only 9 sticking out of the doll while one is being used.

This is the danger when an uneducated person like me starts messing around with unknown areas of magic.