International Tarot Day

Whoop!  I can’t believe I have only been into tarot for eighteen months or so.  It feels so much longer (in a good way).  As I’ve talked about before, I find them such a useful tool for self reflection and getting to know myself and hear myself.

I saw a post somewhere recently about why having a question in mind is important when you go for a reading.  For me, this is such a useful thing in itself.  It helps me clear my head, focus on and whittle down what it is that’s going on and in part, this is a helpful tool in itself.  To ask a question, you have to have a vague idea about what you’re feeling or thinking after all!

 

Ways I’ve been enhancing my understanding of tarot and deepening my readings have included guided visualisations, using oracle cards alongside them and looking at the astrological symbolism.

Each card has an astrological link and I’ve found these a helpful way to see further into the card.  There’s a lot of in depth info over on Virgo Vault (which goes way beyond my basic astrology knowledge but is still clear enough that if all you want is the sign, or sign and planet of a card, you can).  Labyrinthos has some nicely portrayed info about the Major Arcana.

I also use my tarot cards to do readings for, and to help me understand, my house of helens on a group and individual level.  And I have used them to kickstart story ideas.

A few posts on tarot you might want to check out, in no particular order:

Alternative Tarot Course: Take 2

At the beginning of the year I completed the wonderful Alternative Tarot Course from Beth over at Little Red Tarot.

As I mentioned back then, it’s a great course which Beth provides at a very accessible price.  I got a discount through her newsletter so only paid $20 but full price it’s only $25.  It’s designed to cover 8 weeks but as a learn at your own pace course, it’s obviously very flexible.  And you get possibly life long access.  At least I can still access it now!

So, it’s been one hell of a year.  My life looked so incredibly different when I first started the course back in January.  It was my first venture into learning about tarot in detail.

And I feel like it would be interesting to work through the materials again, in this new permutation of my life and with the tarot knowledge I have developed throughout the year.

I had intended, the first time round, to blog about the course but time and life meant I didn’t really do this, or at least not as much as I’d have liked.  Perhaps this time will be different.

Week One: What kind of tarot reader do you want to be?

I answered this in part in my 10 questions every tarot reader should answer post.

The main answer is that I use tarot as a psychological tool and a way of communicating with myself.

Beth provides a number of prompts and questions to help us explore our journey with tarot, our thoughts around the possibilities etc.  How did you find out about tarot, what is the purpose of tarot etc.

The reason I want to learn tarot is… as a tool for connecting with myself, as a method of self care, as a way of meditating and being mindful, as a way of listening to myself and of caring for my mental health.

I wrote that in January and to be honest, my reason for wanting to read tarot hasn’t changed.  I still use it to connect with myself, to check out if my needs are being met, as a way of listening to myself and a way of carving out a space and time for my emotions.

In learning tarot, I hope to… find a way of listening to myself, and of hearing myself, a way for me to validate myself and acknowledge and act on my needs

I do think I have found a way of listening and hearing myself through tarot. However, I know that I often listen and then don’t act on what I’ve heard.  So I might realise I need to get out the house more but then I willfully forget that discovery and not actually get out the house more.  That’s a rubbish example but I hope it illustrates the point!  I also know I need to look at ways of using the cards to validate my feelings and experiences.

I think my main challenges will be… maintaining a routine, reading and putting in the effort on bad days when my depression is worse, physical challenges because of my hands.

But I will try to overcome them by… keeping the cards nearby, working through this course, signing up for newsletters etc about tarot so that there are lots of reminders and reading isn’t a hard thing, letting other people handle the cards whilst I read them for myself.

Having retired, some of the physical challenges have lessened as I am no longer using my hands all day at work.  I have been reasonably good at using the moon cycles as a way of maintaining a tarot routine.  I do read at other times but I almost always do a reading on a new or full moon.  I have also recently started drawing a card a week, a sort of riff on the Memento Mori that Carrie Mallon is doing.  My tarot cards are in my eye line when I’m in my living room chair and given that I spend most of my time there, this works as a helpful reminder.  It also means I don’t have to put much effort in to getting cards out etc.  I have subscribed to a number of newsletters and as well as the Alternative Tarot Course, I have done Susannah Conway’s 78 Mirrors this year.

The beautiful Lumina Tarot

lumina

An amazing fellow 78 Mirrors student very kindly gifted me her Lumina tarot deck after I feel in love with it.

One of the first things I do with a new deck is interview it… For me, it’s a fun way to start using the deck and get familiar with the cards.

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My full moon spread using Lumina and the Wild Unknown Tarot decks
not my interview spread*

What is your most important characteristic – Maiden of Pentacles

This beautiful card is about possibilities and potential as well as blossoming dreams and inspiration.  Given the gorgeous art work, the deck is definitely inspiring and I find it quite energising.  I feel like they are gently nurturing but also pushing me out of my comfort zone.

What are your strengths – 5 of Cups

The book which comes with the deck says this card is about healing or self destruction.  Given the context I’m going with healing from self destruction which tends to be how I read the five of cups anyway.  The card is also about being stuck, having difficulty accepting something or letting go of it.  Tying yourself to your pain means you can untie yourself.  I see this deck as being helpful in that process; helping you to see where you are causing yourself pain and then releasing it.

What are your limits – Judgement

The cards alone cannot change things.  I need to step into my power, I need to work on my understanding.  Further, if I am not open to hearing the truth, I can limit my interpretation of the cards and hence limit the role the deck could play.

How can I best learn and collaborate with you – Temperance

The book actually says “this is a card of practice”.  It doesn’t get more blatant than that!  Further, it’s about taking the wisdom from the readings and actually melding it into my life.  Consciously choosing to take what I discover and use it to harmonise myself and create balance in my life.  I’m good at getting insight from the cards and then not really doing much with that.

What is the potential outcome of our relationship – Knight of Cups

A new venture which ignites your heart and soul. Following your heart over head.  Creative action and passion.  Sounds exciting!


*apologies for the strange photo and lack of interview photo – my tablet smashed and I can’t use the right hand side of it which includes the click button for the camera…

Why I don’t like the RWS tarot deck…

So the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck tends to be the one most people have, it’s very common, there’s been different editions of it and it’s the “standard” deck.

I have never been especially drawn to it but it was one of the suggested decks in 78 Mirrors.  And that’s a very sensible recommendation because it’s the commonly used deck and because many decks are versions of it (clone decks) or use the imagery as a starting point for their own interpretation of the cards.

Also, the deck is supposedly the first to add relevant images to all the cards.  Prior to this, the minor cards would display five cups instead of the more detailed imagery we are now used to.  This was groundbreaking and would make tarot much more accessible and much more useful as a tool for reflection – prior to this, you would learn by rote the meanings of the cards.

However, we have not clicked.  At all.

And I started to wonder why and as I learnt more about tarot, and hence about RWS, I found a few answers.

Firstly, it’s normally referred to as the Rider Waite deck which completely erases the artist.  Rider was the publisher, Arthur Edward Waite was the mystic who co-created the deck and Pamela Colman Smith was the illustrator.  Without her, the cards would not have been what they are today.  And yet, she received no acknowledgement in the naming of the deck which would go on to be the first mass marketed tarot deck.  She would die penniless in 1951 having received little payment for the deck and no royalties…

According to Rachel Pollack (in 78 degrees of tarot wisdom), Waite was accused of altering the cards meanings to fit his personal vision.  For example the Fool used to be portrayed more like a court jester and the Sun, depicted in the RWS deck by a child on a horse leaving a garden, used to be two children holding hands in a garden.  She also says, which I’d noted through my own use of the deck, that the pictures can completely contradict the meaning of the card.  The example she gives is the two of swords but I’ve come across it a few times as well. In addition to that the  meanings themselves can include contradictions…

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Taken from 78 Degrees of Tarot Wisdom

 

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Taken from 78 Degrees of Tarot Wisdom

From what Pollack writes, he was also had a very high opinion of himself… “He believed his Tarot to be right and the others wrong… throughout his book he scorns the versions of his predecessors”.

As the deck itself was created at the beginning of the 20th century, there is inevitably potential for it to feel dated.  Some people find the images still work for them and the story in the card is relatable for them.  However, there are religious and patriarchal aspects to them which I have found off putting.  I also dislike the male-centric nature of the cards.  These were a by product of the time and culture they were created in and so it’s very understandable, I just find that this blocks the meanings for me.  On a related note, Girl Boss Woo discusses reclaiming the Hierophant from the patriarchy over on her blog.  Her post about religion, trauma and tarot is also well worth a read whilst you’re over there.

In terms of the cards themselves, I find the images and the meanings to be disempowering and I strongly dislike the air of entitlement that I get from them.  Where in the wild unknown, the cards focus on self empowerment, the strengths within us and our hard work, the RWS deck has images of giant hands (god like), giving the reader their success or money or whatever.  The world card comes with the meaning “assured success” in my RWS deck thus invalidating all the hard work I may have done to get to that point.  If my success was “assured” then I needed have bothered!

Consider the ace of pentacles pictured below. The top row is the wild unknown tarot, middle is RWS and the bottom is Pagan Cat Tarot. The wild unknown card talks to me of the potential within, the seed of greatness in you which you can nurture into success. But the RWS card seems to be the hand of God giving you what you need for success. This feels like patriarchy patting me on the head and saying here are your ingredients, go away and bake a cake but don’t doubt, we won’t let you forget you couldn’t have done it without our help…

The Pagan Cats seem to be more of a middle ground, that cat is putting in some hard work pushing the coin up that hill.

Making use of the picture above, I also don’t like the focus on war and conquering and the traditional interpretations of the court cards. The son of cups from the Wild Unknown is a swan which is awesome and he’s artistic and introspective and romantic and I love that the creators have stepped away from the page, knight, queen and king. The cup beside him is filled with love and emotions which he has found around him. The knight of cups from the RWS deck however is riding in on his horse, presumably to woo the Princess and whisk her away. Indeed he’s holding out his cup in a very expectant way – he feels entitled to have that cup filled with love.

Obviously these are my perceptions of the card and everyone will see the images in different ways but for me, this all adds to the lack of interest in working with this deck. Except for as an educational tool to help me see where other cards have derived from and to help deepen my understanding of other decks. They also work well as a compare and contrast exercise which brings out things you might have missed or taken for granted in other decks.

If you’ve just started looking into tarot, you’ve got yourself a deck and you were excited until you started using it and then went meh… get yourself a different deck.  There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds out there, you won’t click with all of them.  Find the one you do.  My first deck was the wild unknown and I was very lucky in that I loved it, I clicked with it and it’s still my go to deck.

Storytelling tarot spread 

I’ve seen writing inspiration tarot spreads on pinterest and thought they were interesting. Then a while back a friend asked if I’d do one for her.

I had a look and couldn’t settle on a particular spread, they all had strengths and weaknesses and in the end I pulled together the strengths and my knowledge of writing to make my own.

Half focuses on characters, their motivations and their relationship. The other half is based on the story arc idea with a card for each key point in the plot.

The reading I did for my friend was really interesting with some great stuff for writing I think. I hope so anyway!  I was inspired to do my own reading which turned out to be very different even though there were a couple of the same cards.

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Normally when I read for myself, I just note ideas down but when I did this reading for my friend, I used full sentences and wrote all my thoughts which turned out to be quite helpful. So I repeated this for myself (PDF).

Following this, an essential step is to actually sit down and write… I did a writers block spread for my friend as well. For me, I’m going to try and create a writing plan or routine which sees me do a little each week. I’d love to say each day but I know that my unpredictable pain and energy levels will mean I don’t achieve that. And once I’ve missed one day, it becomes very easy to miss another and so on… I’m thinking it might be worth adding to my Friday check in /week ahead planning.

If i don’t get far with a plan, then I’ll do the writers block spread for myself but I think I probably know my own blocks; lack of self discipline, lack of energy at times, wanting to get something spot on first time but mostly just not sitting down to write. I have all the excuses… Pain, brain fog, using the computer can worsen my pain, using voice recognition software is frustrating… But I have the time, I have vague ideas and the inspiration from the above spread, I just need to actually turn on my laptop and start drafting and jotting down ideas…

Wish me luck!!

​10 questions every tarot reader must answer

I subscribe to a number of tarot websites and get emails from time to time. Last night, I received one from Lavender Moon which included an article about the ten questions every tarot reader must answer.  The idea is that it’s a way for potential clients to get to know your approach and your style of tarot reading. I found it interesting as I did a similar exercise as part of the fantastic Alternative Tarot Course at the beginning of the year and the beginning of my tarot journey.


1.Were you mentored, or were you self-taught?

I’m self taught, through blogs and Google mostly. I’ve taken Beth’s Alternative Tarot Course, and part way through 78 mirrors. Prior to learning tarot, I’d never had my cards read.  I recently bought a reading by Carrie Mallon and I know it’s something I’ll do again (another reading from Carrie and one from Beth are on my radar for the future).

2. Are you a psychic or a Tarot reader?

Tarot reader. I don’t know what I believe around psychics. Other than there are definitely a lot of frauds. Rationally I want to say they don’t exist but I’ve had my own weird experiences including feeling my sister’s (very specific) pain on a number of occasions despite there being no way I could have known about it at the time I felt it.  I’m trying to be more open minded and I know I believe in the power of all that’s good in the world and the synchronicity of the universe.

3. Are your predictions accurate, and is accuracy important to you?

I don’t use the cards in a predictive way. I use them as a tool for reflection, a tool for accessing my mind, a tool for psychological wellbeing, a tool for helping the decision making process. As such there is no accuracy, what I read in the cards is what I need to hear at that time. However, that being said, you do get some freaky coincidences and strange synchronicities with the cards. For example drawing the same card time after time despite shuffling the deck at drawing at random. Also, I sometimes use two decks, drawing a card from each for each position in the spread. A reading I did recently gave me the Tower and the two of pentacles paired together in two places. I mean what are the odds of that?!  With 78 cards per deck and four places for them to show up, the odds are low. I’m tempted to work it out but despite my maths degree, my stats has always been sketchy…

4. Is there anything you can’t predict in a reading?

I believe strongly in self determination and as such I can’t predict anything. However I do believe that once you’ve done a reading, your mind looks out for things related to it, thus making it more likely that what you’ve read in the cards will be noticed and “come true”. I tell you I see a tall man in the cards, the next time you see a tall man it will have added relevance so you’ll note that he’s a tall man and then perhaps place meaning on him.

I think tarot tunes you into your world more sharply.  It helps you to see patterns and notice details.

I think, as is human nature, we are prone to believing the good predictions and disbelieving the tough ones. But for me all the cards can be positive or negative, I don’t read reversals, instead I read each card as the positive and negative and see what chimes best with its position, context and where I am mentally and physically. Sometimes “negative” cards are something which has happened or will happen and other times they’re a warning of what could happen.

5. Do you use only Tarot, or are you multi-disciplinary?

I use tarot and oracle cards as well as using crystals for setting intention. I’m interested in runes although I’ve not done much (very little) research into them yet. I am interested in herbalism and am waiting impatiently for my horrid neighbours to leave so I can plant things in our shared yard (if I did it now, their dog would wreck things and I don’t like being in the yard in case they come out, they are not nice people). I’m trying to follow moon cycles and seasons but am not doing as well as I’d like yet.

6. Is the message in the cards, or in your head?

Both. Your head interprets how you see the images and what jumps out at you on a given day.  The cards can include beaut, incredibly detailed images which clearly have a message.  It’s like the image is a phrase in a language you don’t speak and the reader is the translator (when reading for another person, otherwise you’re translator and receiver).

7. Are you a priest or a fortune-teller?

Priestess please… Er, no, someone who’s interested in spirituality, who’s working out what they believe and who’s using tarot to build a stronger connection to herself and the universe

8. Are you a fixer or a looker?

Both, depending on the time and place and what’s happening. I do like to problem solve but I’m getting better at stepping back and letting the other person lead.

9. Do you read for free, or for fee?

I’ve only done a couple of readings for others and they’ve been free. Due to complicated, stupid rules, any money I earn will go straight out of my bank and into the hands of the government. But that’s a different post. My point is most people can’t do readings for free and nor should they but as it makes no odds to me, providing I’m not undermining people who do get paid, I will read for free. So I’m thinking friends who wouldn’t turn to a paid reader cos they aren’t interested enough or can’t afford it or whatever.

10. Is there anything you won’t predict in a reading?

Everything but in particular I don’t like readings about a third party. It’s either me and me or me and the querant, I don’t want to read about someone for someone else (eg does he love me, is she cheating…). You put so much of yourself into readings the way I do them that third party readings just don’t make sense. Think of tarot as a conversation between you and the cards, that doesn’t work if the person doesn’t know they’re in the conversation!

If you want a reading from me, let me know but bear in mind I’m a beginner and I have a chronic pain illness and fatigue so it may not be quick!

Tree oracle cards (again)

Apologies for any strange formatting issues. Each time I preview the formatting is different despite me making no changes…  I’ve messed around a lot and still can’t figure out what’s going on…

I’m still loving my tree oracle cards!  And despite them all having words on them I’ve found they’ve been revealing deeper meanings as I use them.  Some comes from the context of the picture and thinking about where I took it etc.  Some comes from how it interacts with other cards in the spread (particularly how it sits alongside tarot cards in my dual deck readings).

Anyway, I have started putting together a little guide and thought I’d share some of it here as well as ask for feedback and ideas for cards which are holding back on me.

A couple of the cards I’d like to hear feedback on in particular are:

a fork in the path
Which direction should you take? Does it matter? Both paths actually lead to the same place
dreams
Be careful not to squash dreams that aren’t fully formed, they are fragile, let them develop
perseverance
It takes time to achieve your goals, perseverance can help you to thrive against the odds
shadows
Things are often not black and white, explore the greyscale. Perspective and context are important to understanding confusing and unclear situations
the future
The future is delicate and there is not just one possible future.
the past
The past can imprison us as well as protect us