Animal Totems Part 2 ; The Insects



Ah, normally I do not buy into the whole trigger warning thing but I recognize that many have a fear of insects; in particular spiders. Why upset my readers if I can avoid it? Yet, for those not offended by our smaller inhabitants of earth, I share with you some which I have encountered over the years, mainly in Ireland, but further afield too!

The first totem post focused more on animals. This time around I wanted to focus more on insects.

tarot-totems-animals-meanings Featured here are photographs that I took, mostly about ten years ago, of the insects that exist in Northern Ireland.

I openly state that I do not know of their true names, but only that they wander about amidst the wild flowers and trees outside my home.

In the Twisted Tarot Tales we feature mostly animals, but insects also play a big part too. The spider, the bee and the ant play the role of attacker in some of these cards.

When I was younger I used to squash insects but as time passed, I felt bad about it. I try not to do that anymore and instead lift them and set them outside. Generally I look at it that they all have a right to live since God saw fit to put them together with body parts and life.

That being said, even to this day I am guilty of sentencing some of them to death. It tarot-totem-spiritual-interpretationis not maliciousness you understand, but out of fear. I do not like the wasps because i’m always told they have a really bad sting. That and unlike honey bees they can keep stinging without worrying about dying.

On the right we see the paper wasp. In Ireland we do not have those. When I first set foot in America and was in Ohio, I encountered these and I must say to you, they were a bit strange to me. They were a much bigger wasp than I was used to. I didn’t like them all that much. I admit I did kill a few and later found a full nest below the trailer I was staying in. They seemed to be as big as the huge dragonflies of Florida which I encountered four years later. The dragonflies, of course, were not a concern. I just do not like things that sting or bite and will avoid them if I can. In the U.S my favorite insects were the fireflies.

tarot-totems-spiritual-meaningsTo the left we see another photo I took in 2007. Again I do not know their names, but these bugs were found, mating i suppose, amidst the whin bushes ( also known as gorse bushes) which grow around N.Ireland and Scotland, England etc.

Sometimes when I was much younger I would follow some of the insects to their homes. I think what I learned about the insects was more the vastness of what God created. Millions of creatures exist, and many have yet to be discovered in the caves and jungles of the world. We tend to think that everything has been discovered, but news species are still being found today.


On the left is a strange creature believed to be a nymph. It was discovered after researchers from the University of Harvard trekked for three weeks to explore the untouched rain-forest of southeast Suriname.

While creatures like ants, spiders and bees exist in our Tarot deck, some of these creatures which i speak of, currently, do not. I show them, rather, to share with you a little of my photography but also to share the little world that exists in our own. They exist in a world where many giants roam about. Even a rabbit or fox is giant to them, never mind cattle or humans.

Below right is what I refer to as the C3P0 beetle, only because I do not know its name and it reminds of the Star Wars cyborg. I took this photo out in Belgrade, Serbia when i traveled through there in 2007. Perhaps an Eastern European may have seen this beetle before and be able to identify it.


I will relay a funny story. I normally am pretty understanding about people being scared of bugs, i mean I mentioned earlier that I do not like wasps. So one day Christine lets out a scream upstairs while I was downstairs. I thought she’d done something drastic, like accidentally cut herself doing whatever, it sounded very serious. So I rush upstairs to see if she’s OK. Turns out there was a little spider in the bath tub. I admit I got a little frustrated and said something a long the lines of “come on, it’s just a spider”…

So the next evening I’m sitting at the computer and above my head I see this big spider, I mean big for the UK / Ireland. It shocked the hell out of me. Normally I lift the spiders in my hand and set them outside but not this one…

tarot-meanings-totemsGod has a sense of humour! Yes, here I was figuring out how the hell I was going to get this spider out of the house. Ok so it’s no Goliath Bird Eating Spider, it’s no tarantula, I get it, but you have to understand that for all I knew it had come in on some foreign imports. Was it poisonous?

I reacted in the same way I would seeing the spiders in the states. In the states a few people would laugh at me for being a bit concerned with spiders etc, but we hear all these horror stories of poisonous spiders dissolving human flesh that I didn’t want to take my chances. In America I was warned about the brown recluse spider, and this spider in my living room, I must admit, looked a little like it

horror-tarot-comics-halloweenSo it turned out that the spider was probably called Giant House Spider, the largest spider in the UK, though it appears they can grow much larger. I learned something in that some spiders in the UK actually do bite. I have only been bitten by spiders in the U.S and Egypt, but not in the UK. And yes, the Giant House Spider does bite but is not poisonous.

Alright so maybe I was exaggerating. In the photo it doesn’t look too big of a deal. It was sucked up by the vacuum cleaner, and that was the end of him…

Until I see him walking past me the very next afternoon. A tough sucker! So I scooped him up and put him outside.

Thanks for reading this Twisted Tarot Tales Insects article 🙂


(ABOVE: an excerpt from the Twisted Tarot Tales companion book. The rat and seagull are just a few of many of the animals and birds found in the deck)


Animal Totems

horror-tarot-morbid-10-wandsBesides the metaphysical, you may have picked up that I have a keen interest in nature and animals. This interest inspired the inclusion of a lot of animals in the Twisted Tarot Tales. All in all there is about 25 different insects, animals, birds and marine life in Twisted Tarot Tales (The shark was an exclusive to the Indiegogo campaign, but 24 are still available)

In the deck I consider these totem animals. A totem ( A word thought to come from the Ojibwe word dodaem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe. While the idea of having animal spirits that represent groups of people exist all over the world, the idea is probably more popularly associated with Native Americans through the word totem.

On the right we see a totem pole from the Tlingit people in Alaska. In aboriginal totem-animals-tarot-new-age-meaningsCanada and the United States, the practice of creating totem poles seems to be uniquely found in the western part of the continent, particularly Washington State, British Columbia and Alaska.

All kinds of animals were carved into the poles and often the top features birds like ravens or eagles and sometimes the mythical Thunderbird.

According to the site, the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes, found in Alaska and British Columbia, included animals like frogs, geese, sea lions,beaver, mountain goats, wolf, bear and Thunderbird on their totem poles.


(ABOVE: an excerpt from the Twisted Tarot Tales companion book. The rat and seagull are just a few of many of the animals and birds found in the deck)

3f5e57d2-81b1-4dcb-abaa-7d75776fed0aOne of my fondest memories visiting the United States was seeing the animals in their natural habitat. Whether that be possums in Ohio, or armadillos in Florida, it’s always nice to see them in the wild (when back home you’d only ever see these kinds of animals in a zoo, although even at that we don’t actually have them there either!)

While normal tourists to Florida, and specially Orlando, will visit Universal Studios and Disney World, my brother and I decided to veer off the tested and true path. Admittedly I would have liked to take a trip into the Everglades with a guide but we had run out of money (this was near the end of our trip) Still we did manage to see one alligator lol


Here’s a picture i took of the alligator which was below a bridge near Orlando. f819eae9-7ad8-4554-a6df-cb7ee0dc3797There’s something nice about seeing these creatures out in nature but of course with the likes of an alligator…it’s nicer when they are at a distance!

There’s something special about animals. With pets we sense it more easily due to the fact that, for the most part, they trust us enough to get close to us.

Below: Another portion of the animal totem section of our Twisted Tarot Tales companion book.


We had a cat that came to us one winter and he was very hungry and sick. It was almost ten years ago now, and my parents took him in. He has a growth on his nose, and so his nose appears a bit longer than regular cats but it never seemed to bother the cat, and therefore it never bothered us. We named him smokey. He’s still living over at my parents place.

62f87f75-5e79-43dd-8c7e-c1cb3722d796I laugh at this picture because smokey is as old as my boots. I still have those boots but they are a lot rougher now…steel toed working boots…Italian made, so maybe there is something to be said for the Italian craftmanship lol

I realise I never talk much about pets, in fact I seemto remain quiet about a lot of the things in my life, because sometimes I figure that no one would care to hear about the things important to me. However since this section of the newsletter is about animals, I figure why not?

7d014cc1-7f8c-4a69-ba98-f2d85cc5dccfTo the left is Russell, our pet dog. He passed away about two years ago now but he’s still “my dog” if you get what you mean. Even though he’s gone I still feel he is not “gone”, but just on a different plane. That probably sounds crazy on the surface, but I’m sure pet owners will understand.

I believe animals have spirits and in my crazier moments, have toyed with the idea that animals have souls like humans. Maybe that is not so crazy? I don’t know.

Sometimes my brothers and I would joke that he was like a wise Yoda, especially in his older years. He had that old man “knowing” look, you know the one where the eyes have seen a lot of things through life. There used to be this show called School Around the Corner on Sundays and it featured school kids around Northern Ireland competing in choirs. Russell would always sing along with them in a strange dog like singing voice.

It’s a certain pitch of voice when the children sing that sets him off in song. Amazing dog and we miss him. I imagine my dad misses him especially since he used to sit on my dads lap in the evenings while my parents watched TV.

Words Found In The Twisted Tarot Tales

c147b8c2-490a-4426-b985-094fffb508caWords. They can create peace, or devastate the world, even lead to war. I know this all too well. I’ve made friends over words, but probably more often than not, lost friends over them; Usually through a difference of political opinion. In my case I’ve even lost friends over the various subject matter I’ve illustrated (regardless of if I myself actually agree with it or not)

I’ve stayed awake at night over words, and I’ve been comforted by them. They affect us all.

So what’s in a word? Everything. Things can be misinterpreted, but the very fact that it must be interpreted, be it the written word, or the vocal, seems like it could lend itself to the world of giving readings, fortune telling or whatever you would prefer to call it.

So it came to me that maybe I should document the words used in our Twisted Tarot Tales in the off-chance it might interest those who already have the deck, or for the casual reader.


Waldo (Querent card) – “cannot predict now”, “ask again later” “outlook good” and “don’t count on it”

The Fool – “Twisted Tarot Tales” and “tickets”

Magician (Alternative) A collection of words relating to magic and stage shows (too numerous to mention here)

High Priestess – the contents of a Ouija board which includes numbers, letters and “good bye” “yes” and “no”

The High Priestess (Elvira version) – A collection of fictional book titles (too numerous to mention here)

Empress (GMO laden shopper) – “Agent Oranges” “Satanto” “Gmo corn” “Gmo pizza” “crazy cola” and “cheese whiz”

Lovers (green mutant version) – “Death”

Chariot – “Road Works Ahead” “x-tine 666” “5 mph” and “caution”

Hermit – “Aguiar’s self serve”

Wheel of Fortune – “Must be this height to ride”

Justice (Mutant Frog Scientist) – “Frog Spawn”

Justice (Female Sheriff version) “Sheriff”

Hanged Man – “Twisted Tarot Tales” “no smoking” and “next stop hell”

Death (Trick or treat version) “Letters” and “No 13”

Temperance – “Snake Skin” “Crows Feathers” “Frog’s Legs” “Eye of Newts” “Flies” “Pigs feet” “love” “spells” “peace” “seed” “temper”

Devil (Alt Santa version) – “Toys”

The Tower (Stan Lee version) “Invasion” and “Giant Size Tales of Suspense”

e58c4e01-be24-4aa8-aef6-b10a730f16b9The Star – “Hollywood” “Hot dogs” “no parking” “tow-away” “free shuttle” and “express”

The Moon – “Girls” “Lady Luna” “xxx” and “pizza”

Judgement – “Zombie eat flesh” “A spoonful of GMO’s helps the truth go down” “special deep fried brains” “eyeball parfait”, “one billion zombies served” and “McSantos”

Judgement – (exclusive Pet Sematary movie Indiegogo campaign edition) “Pet Sematary”

Rabid Racoon – “Cardboard only” “notice” “Caution: Do not play in or around this container”


Ace of Cups – “fright for love”, “terror” “John 3:16” and “mega cup”

3 of Cups – “Happy Birthday” and “Good Guys”

4 of Cups – “Pine Ridge” “White Clay” “Open eyes not cans” and “office”

6 of Cups – “Twisted Ghost Train”

7 of Cups “Honey”

406c00f0-8931-4aa6-91a5-30ab491fd8cf8 of Cups (Giant sewer rat version) –“Twisted”, “The Killer Rat” “beer” and “grape”

Knight of Cups – “Knight”

Queen of Cups – “Cheese whiz” and “Crazy cola”

King of Cups – “White Clay Beer” and “Satanto”


Ace of Pentacles (palm crossed with silver version) “The Fool” “Strength” and “The Moon”

3 of Pentacles (booger monster version) – “snot nosed brats club” “twisted tarot tales” “nay nay”and “my little phoney”

4 of Pentacles – “Irish Whiskey” (on the bottles in the background)

7 of Pentacles – (exclusive movie edition) “Ex-Skull-ent Value Meats” “Farmer Vinny’s”

Knight of Pentacles (Alt version with Ice-cream van) – “I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream” “knight” and “truck”

4af9e85b-175d-4ccf-ab7f-1759f0c6c96bQueen of Pentacles – “Welcome to Fort Knox”

King of Pentacles – “The Prospector”, “The general store” and “oil of dog”


2 of Swords – “See the amazing Serina swallow swords”

3 of Swords – “Spells” and “Love curse”

7 Swords – “Romero’s Market” and “blow”

8 of Swords – (exclusive movie edition) “Peanut Butter” “Trapped” and “Michael’s Fright”

10 of Swords – (exclusive movie edition) “Bio-Tec” “Lab” and the name “Curran”

Page of Swords – A quote from Stephen Hawking which reads “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”

Page of Swords (ALT cyborg version) – “NSA” “Spyware” “Spybook” and “Prism”


2 of Wands (Triumphant Gorilla version) – “Tinder Box”, “mountains”, “sea” and “Undiscovered”

4 of Wands – (exclusive movie edition) “Bats Motel” and “No vacancy” (though somewhat obscured)

8 of Wands – “Welcome to Pahrump, heart of the new old west”, “coast to coast”, “roswell”, “spooky matter” “airstream” and “dark matter”

9 of Wands – (exclusive movie edition) “Horror in the 30’s and 40’s” “Twisted Tales” and “Ghosts” (though somewhat obscured). On the Calculator it reads “Hellhole”

There you have it. All of the words found in Twisted Tarot Tales. This article is an addition to the extensive information found in the Twisted Tarot Tales Companion Guide.

Maps and Tarot

cowmap_origMaps. They guide us where to go.

Surprisingly, the earliest known maps found in the world, were not actually based on the world, but rather the stars. Star maps have been found in the famous Lascaux caves.

My interest in maps started to manifest around my early 20’s, long before I even drew my first Tarot card and certainly before I even knew what a Tarot card really was.

I enjoy collecting maps of the places I’ve been (when I can). In terms of illustrated maps, Probably some of the best maps I’ve seen where from Florida, like SeaWorld. The very worst map I have in my collection, but it is not illustrated, is from Sharm El Sheikh, in the Sinai Peninsula. The map was pixellated to death, but that would have been forgiven if it were not for the fact that it was hugely outdated, probably by almost a decade, yet it was the only map I could find in any tourism shop. Streets were renamed, businesses had faded away; you get the picture.

twisted-tarot-tales-maps-1Since then there have been a few abandoned map projects, two of which are not real life maps, but rather were intended for some of our fictional world Tarot work. One was for King’s Journey about 7 years ago which I never attempted. I had every intention of creating a map for that deck as it was a map in the style of a Celtic Cross that was originally described to me before the actual cards themselves (the cross within the inner circle played host to the “Spirit Suit”) The problem was that the design given to me was so undecipherable that it would have taken the Rosetta stone to figure it out. In the end that map never came to be although the idea of creating a map interested me a lot.

The idea of creating Tarot’s very first map was something that I saw I would twisted-tarot-tales4eventually bring into existence. A few years would pass and although I never heard of Tarot having a map, I knew it was possible it had been done before.

I decided to start plotting out the entire world of Twisted Tarot Tales and had originally planned to add it to the Twisted Tarot Tales companion guide, more or less for the novelty.

When I really started to collate all of the images for the deck I noticed that a lot of the cards could fit into entire “areas”. The Wheel of Fortune, the Magician, The Fool, the 2 of Swords all seemed to belong to a circus type background.

Continues below


Then you had the genetic mutations like the Giant frog in the Justice card and the Mutant lovers (the alternative version). The King of Cups with his mutated feet, even the Knight of Wands with the gigantic bee (or depending what way you look at it, a miniature little rider on its back). I envisioned that group coming from a scientific lab with the nuclear power plant not too far away.

Continues below


Above: The map as it currently stands, without the “area” markers and the “card” markers. Can you spot the nuclear spill area and also the spills along the coastline?

The world of Twisted Tarot Tales at night. The map even has a “Should I be offended?” museum, which would act as the back of the 8 of cups card. It was a fun tongue in cheek jab at Dan P for hating our 8 of Cups Cowboy shootout!

I started asking myself “Would anyone really care for a map?” and “Would it ruin the deck?” What purpose did it actually serve? To this day I can’t see a map having any practical purpose other than novelty. Perhaps that is enough.

The Twisted Tarot Tales was postponed last year; only because I devoted my time to writing and piecing together the companion book for the deck to complete the crowd funding campaign. The map idea I had been going to be spread across the entire standard 78 card deck back side, a special edition deck where if you felt so inclined you could piece all 78 cards together to create one huge map (from the backs of your cards).

twisted-tarot-tales-5*As a side note, this is why I decided to swap the Stan Lee Tower card for the new Nuclear chimney tower; to tie into the nuclear disaster area responsible for the wild mutations throughout the deck. On the map you can see the nuclear spill, in the “scientific” quarter of the deck.

As we neared the completion of the companion book, I started to have doubts about my novelty idea. Some of the wackiest ideas are spontaneous and are the most successful, but the “wackiest spontaneous ideas” are sometimes the least successful too, so you have to be careful.

Sometimes they work, sometimes they get snatched up by other people before you have it finally complete (always a danger of that when showing works in progress) and other ideas don’t seem fully fleshed out at that current point in time, but might work at a later date.

I started to think that having a “map edition” of the deck would probably seem a bit pointless to most people. That being said, it is a novelty deck so it may work. One positive, I suppose, would be that it could become somewhat like a Jigsaw puzzle. With being about 70-80 percent complete, I will probably do exactly what I set out to do, at some point, possibly, on some distant Halloween.