78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Leisa's Been Busy: New Podcasts
The Tarot Connection brings so much in the way of depth and insight to we of the tarot inclinations and these two podcasts keep bringing it on. Leisa just continues to find the most interesting people to interview and my co-regular contributors are always bringing such quality stuff to the table. In Episode #39 Leisa interviews Dan Pelletier of The Tarot Garden and he jam packs the interview with insight into "dark decks" and offers up his tried and true spreads for your taroting pleasure. Also in the podcast, Bonnie delves into the symbolism of The Empress.

Episode #40
features Leisa demonstrating a Career Reading while Bonnie discusses the concept of "Right Speech" in ethics as it applies to tarot reading, Bill talks about when to know it's time for a tarot break, and the 78 Notes To Self segment features my post on Christian roots of tarot: Strange Bedfellows.

I know you must get tired of me saying this over and over, but The Tarot Connection Podcast is truly of such a high caliber and I am always awed by Leisa's ability to put together such informative and enjoyable listening and learning experiences each week. And I'm not just saying that because she features my stuff. I've enjoyed her podcasts even before I joined the party.

Monday, April 23, 2007

2007 Readers Studio Recap
Getting there was the hard part, but that was my fault. One act of stupidity set off a chain reaction that left me stranded at Reagan National Airport for almost six hours. I could have driven to New York in that time and probably should have in hindsight. I haven’t flown since before 9-11, so all the new security measures had me a little bewildered, but that wasn’t the problem. I went to the wrong airport. I thought I was to fly out of Dulles International Airport but my flight was departing from National. Oh well, I thought, no big deal. It’s a commuter shuttle and I’ll just catch the next one. No such luck. The next flight was full. At that point I knew I would miss the entire first day’s session of The Reader’s Studio. I wanted to get in my car and go home, but my bag had traveled ahead of me and was sitting in LaGuardia Airport. Nothing to do but make sure I got on one of the next two flights out. I made it on the next one, but by the time I arrived at the conference, the last session had just ended. I was in no mood for it anyway, so I went to my room, chilled and became human again, then went down to the lounge to see who I could find.

Corrine Kenner’s was the first familiar face I saw. I said, “I believe a Cosmopolitan is in order.” She jumped out of her seat and hugged me, “Soooo glad you made it!” she said and invited me to sit down with the others. Joanna Colbert, James Wells, and Ferol Humphrey among others were noshing and introductions were made. Too embarrassed to admit I had gone to the wrong airport, I simply said, “I missed my flight.” Oh, I 'fessed up later that weekend, and we all got a good laugh from it. I so appreciated that warm welcome. It helped ease me out of my aggravation and tension and brought me safely into the embrace of the tarot community. And what a wonderful group of people it truly is.

I checked in with Ruth Ann Amberstone and was greeted with, “We missed you!” You’d think we were old friends, but this was the first time I’ve met any of these wonderful people in person. Her husband and partner of The Tarot School, Wald, greeted me in the hallway as I left the conference room and again I felt welcomed by a familiar friend. That’s how the weekend went, time after time, people I had only communicated with online materialized before my eyes as faces and smiles and hugs.

By the way, the gig is up for you lurkers here. I met several people who are regular readers of 78 Notes to Self but who do not comment or participate. I want to see your names in the comments section, you hear me? It was so wonderful to know there are lots of you out there who feel you know me and I want to get to know you, too. For me, meeting other tarot readers, both professional and non, was the highlight of the weekend. Though the sessions were both informative and full of incredible insight and gave me lots to chew on over the coming weeks, connecting with so many of you in the tarot world was so very rewarding. It’s so easy to communicate with your own peeps, you know?

Getting up in time to make the 7:30 am Breakfast Roundtable with James Wells was a bit of a challenge for this night owl. Mornings? What are those? But I didn’t want to miss a single minute more than I’d already missed of this event. Some of my friends from Aeclectic Tarot were fantastic, prodding me to ask Dr. Elinor Greenberg for her notes from her session on Tarot Counseling I had missed the day before. They filled me in on what I missed. Marcia Masino was conducting the first session on Saturday and Mary Greer was scheduled for the afternoon. Robert Place was there selling his new Buddah deck as well as his prints. I came home with The High Priestess from his yet unfinished The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery. I really, really want a copy of his Alchemical Tarot, but it is out of print and if I can locate a copy the price is a bit too steep for my cheapness. Jeannette Roth was there from The Tarot Garden, too, with many hard to find gems. And I won a prize! Door prize drawings were held all weekend long generously donated by the vendors as well as others. The schwag from this event was amazing. I came home with two free tarot decks, the Cleopatra and the Witches Tarot, plus the 2007 Llewellen Tarot Reader, lots of helpful handouts on various subjects from publishing your own book to techniques of reading. After hours, you could sign up for private readings with the likes of Rachel Pollack, Mary Greer, Corinne Kenner, James Wells, Julie Cuccia-Watts. The sign up sheets were already full by the time I got there, but Corinne did a short read for me anyway. Being surrounded by over a hundred tarot readers, I wasn’t really worried about whether or not I’d get a reading that weekend.

We’d get into deep discussions late into the night. Being among others who more or less share my own quirky, eclectic, mish-mashed spiritual ideas brought a sense of comfortableness. I didn’t feel like I had to watch my P’s and Q’s, not that I would have anyway, but still, it's nice to not only be accepted but welcomed into a community. At one point, folks were sharing about how tarot had contributed to their personal evolution, a question prompted by James Wells. While it was an excellent open-ended question, the kind he is known for, I found myself disgruntled by the common response: that while predictive readings were “okay” most people who answered spoke about “moving beyond that” and primarily using tarot for personal growth. Ok, fine, and that’s all well and good, but let’s be honest, brutally honest, here. You’ve got the cards, you have the skills, you’re gonna ask the mundane questions, too. I didn’t answer the question because I was getting the itch to be an ass, so I went out for a smoke instead. My answer would likely have been, “Tarot hasn’t done a thing for me except contribute to the manifestation of my out of control Obsessive Compulsive Disorder."

I guess it kinda tweaks me that there's this distancing going on in the tarot world from divination and fortune telling. I get it, cranks and charlatans have given tarot a bad rap, but the tradition of fortunetelling tarot is valid as well. Rather than distance myself from it, I embrace it as part and parcel of the whole thing. Because I do want to know what might happen next week and if tarot can give me a glimpse into that, I'm all for it. It is a tremendous tool for personal growth, so it is certainly proper to focus on that, write, teach, and talk about that. But please. While there may be a few of you who seriously do not use the tarot for divination, most of us do and we shouldn't have to feel like we're scumming up the cards to do it. It's not immature tarot reading. It's just another facet of tarot reading.

Corrine took notes the entire time and has put them up on her blog, so I'm not going to repeat them here. Suffice it to say I was incredibly inspired and enjoyed every minute. I would recommend The Readers Studio to anyone interested at all in tarot. The Amberstones don't distinguish between beginner readers and more advanced, we're all put in the same classes, the same pool, and we all swim together. I recognize the cost of the event might be prohibitive for some, but as conferences go it's not that high. I didn't share a hotel room this year because it was my first time, but next year I will. I might drive up next time as well. Some folks wrapped the trip around other activities such as visiting family and friends in the northeast, too, so that helps. If it is even remotely affordable, do it next year. I'll see you there, and next time I'll be sure to go to the right airport so I don't miss a thing.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'm Off
1 comment
Well, I am off to New York for the Readers Studio tomorrow through Sunday! I'm really very excited and can't wait to dig in to all the fine teaching, discussions, and schmoozing with other tarot readers all weekend long. If you want a reading with me, you can send your request via email, but realize I won't get to it until, at the earliest, Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Until then, "Ciao!"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Podcasts To Go
The Tarot Connection has two more podcasts up and running, if you haven't been keeping up. Obviously, I'm falling behind, as Episode #37 has been up since last week. This one is a wonderful episode covering the Zodiac Spread with astrologer and tarotist Dena DeCastro. Leisa has had Dena on the show before and she is just phenomenal with her abilities to translate often complicated astrological correspondences with tarot into simple language and concepts even I can understand. Bill Vincent's commentary on tarot and its divinitory usefulness is thought provoking and Bonnie Cehovet's insight into the High Priestess is very enriching. The 78 Notes To Self segment is "And Justice For All" with my own take on the Major Arcana Justice card.

Episode #38 features a main segment on 900-Line Readers. These are tarot readers who give paid readings through a phone reading service. Bonnie gives her experienced opinions about reading in this manner and Leisa interviews Amanda, a 900-line reader. The 78 Notes To Self segment is called "Paper Moon," my reflections on the Moon card.

Once again Leisa provides an invaluable service to the tarot community with these quality podcasts with tremendously useful information in a format that's easy to understand. The show notes offer additional information, charts, graphics, etc. that can help as well. I urge you to visit her site and listen to the podcasts and read the show notes, too.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Case of the Scurrying Scissors
I think the highest item on my What I Hate Most About Being A Mother list is not being able to find my things when I look for them. Maybe its because I shared my body, my boobs, my bed and my whole freaking life with these people that they think everything is fair game? I've torn through this house like a banshee many times yelling, "WHERE IS MY [insert missing item here]?!? WHO TOOK IT??? PUT IT BACK NOW!!!" Yesterday morning it was my flat iron, you know, that appliance that straightens your hair, and I knew it was Son #2 who took it. He is more finicky about his hair than I am about mine. But he had already boarded the school bus and Son #3, who I tend to assume knows everything about Son #2 but isn't telling lest he get smacked in the nuts by same, stood by going, "I dunno what he did with it." My daughter found it and gave it to me, but that hardly relieves the aggravation of everything I own being community property. They have helped themselves to my costume jewelry (yes, my boys have -- silver chain necklaces, small hoop earrings, etc.), my electronic equipment, mints in my purse, my jeans, my socks, my toothpaste, hair products, razor, and pretty much anything else they thought they could not do without. Son #1 even once wore my nightie. Ok, so it looked a lot like a Henley thermal shirt, but still. I have threatened their very lives if anyone even so much as lays a finger on my purse, my iPod, my jewelry ANYMORE! They touch my laptop, they will be subjected to medieval torture devices followed by a very slow and painful death.

I know this is karma. I was a very inconsiderate teenager. I "borrowed" both my mom's and my sister's stuff without asking. A lot. They would get so angry with me, but for some reason it didn't faze me. When I had three boys I thought, well at least they won't borrow my clothes and jewelry and other girl stuff. Ok, I was wrong. It's my daughter who doesn't. My sons? Sure. What is up with that? My daughter is the only considerate one. She has always asked to borrow CD's, books, jewelry, and has asked to look at my tarot decks. If I say no, she doesn't do it anyway. Thank Goddess for her.

There is one item that is still missing and it is just nagging at me. The dog scissors. We have a standard brown poodle, Sophie, who requires regular grooming maintenance. As such she has her own scissors. Last time I was grooming her, I threw the scissors in the box, and when I went to get them out again they had-- POOF!--disappeared. I went ranting through the house. Some boy with a need to cut his hair had surely made off with them. The DOG scissors. Ok, there are lots of scissors in this house and I'm always finding them laying on the bathroom counters with bits of hair in the sink. So why the DOG scissors? I dunno. But she's having many consecutive bad hair days and I need them.

Some say you can find missing items with tarot cards. I've heard stories. Several of them. I really don't doubt it. I know our subconscious minds are treasure troves of untapped storage, so tarot cards would be useful to locate missing items. So let's try it, shall we?

Where are the missing dog scissors?

Ah, so the King of Cups took them! Alright, fess up, where are they? In a cup? Somewhere near water? Ok, well, I was grooming the dog last in the bathroom. I need to check all the bathrooms because that's also where the boys like to do their own grooming as well. Hang on...I'm going to go look. Ok, nope. But I did find a pair of scissors I think I can use. They're not THE scissors, but they might work. We don't have any fish, so don't suggest looking behind the fishtank. Oh! They might be at their father's house. I will have to ask him. I will keep you updated whether we find the scissors or not and where they were found to see if they have anything to do with the King of Cups.

Meanwhile, if any of you have any solutions apart from thumbscrews for prohibiting the children from absconding with my things, let me know. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tarot By The Numbers: The Tens
So if nine is the finale, why the ten? Because ten is neither the end nor the beginning, but a transition between an ending and a beginning to a higher order of things. See, the number ten is the start of a whole new order of numbers and the culmination of the numbers that come before it.

All the base ten numbering systems in existence from ancient times such as Hebrew and Greek systems use the number ten as this natural transition between the numbers that come before into the numbers that come after. A look at the number values assigned to the Hebrew and Greek letters show that the letters were given values from one to ten, then increasing in tens to 100 then increasing by 100's and so on. Numbering by tens is natural for us given our ten fingers which are quite useful for adding and subtracting. You have to re-use fingers when you get past ten, so it starts a new "order." So ten represents "completeness of order." It symbolizes a cycle has completed and all is where it should be. As such it represents the perfection of divine order.

But if nine represented the end with nothing but "the void" beyond it, how does it make ten "completion?" Well, think of it this way, nine is the act of completing and ten is looking back on all you've done and knowing it is finished and looking forward to your next adventure.
Ten is one of the perfect numbers, and signifies the perfection of Divine order, commencing, as it does, an altogether new series of numbers. The first decade is the representative of the whole numeral system, and originates the system of calculation called 'decimals,' because the whole system of numeration consists of so many tens, of which the first is a type of the whole.

Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.

---Ethelbert W. Bullinger, Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1967), 243.
The number ten is significant in several religions and cultures of the world. Buddha is possessed of ten noble states, ten powers, understands ten paths of karma and is endowed with ten attributes of arhatship. In the Ottoman Empire, the aura of the fabled sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was enhanced because he was the tenth son of the tenth generation of his dynasty.
In Judaism there are one of the most ancient and obvious uses of the number ten in the scriptures, the Ten Commandments. Both the Greeks and Hebrews held ten to be the perfect number. Pythagoras considered that ten comprehends all arithmetic and harmonic proportions, and, like God, is tireless. All nations calculated with it because when they arrive at ten, they return to one, the number of creation. Pythagoreans believed the heavenly bodies were divided into ten orders. According to the Kabbalah, there are ten emanations of numbers out of Nothing. The emanations form the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life, which contains all knowledge and shows the path back to God. Associated with Malkuth on the Tree of Life, it is the number of manifestation, the only number that corresponds to the material world through which we experience life - in this association, it is thought of as 3+3+3+1 - the one sphere in the realm of Earth. Ten is considered a magical number, produced by the addition of the first four numbers, 1+2+3+4, important in Pythagorean and alchemical philosophy.

So what do you do when you've done all you can do on one thing but have yet to start something else? Sit idly by and twiddle your thumbs, I suppose. Which is why there really isn't a lot of energy in the tens. They're kind of stagnant and need the impetus of an Ace (or The Magician, whose number is One in the major Arcana) to get things moving again. In some ways they embody the zero aspect of The Fool, a directionless time that may leave you floudering for a bit. While there's no going back, there really isn't a forward to go towards just yet. So the Fool's aimless wandering fits with the zero part of this number. The one indicates the beginning, but the zero is like, but what? Where? I dunno. This transition can be difficult or more easy, depending on the situation, and tarot gives examples of both.

Ten is the number of The Wheel of Fortune in the Major Arcana and if there was ever a wild card, apart from the Fool, this one is it. Pretty much anything can happen with The Wheel, good and bad and indifferent. It's all about Change, that card, so with tens you just kinda have to roll with whatever happens to see where the next Ace will present itself. But just as tens are a unique combination of earth and ether, so as with the Wheel one sees a stable core or hub around which the wheel spins. In life, too, there are things that stay the same even while other things cycle through their changes. As such, the tens really are about how these changes can affect us and how to best approach them.

The Ten of Swords. Ugh. What a card. This card is undeniably graphic and there's just no quibbling when it appears. Done. Overdone, in fact. The card is shocking, even to those who are familiar with the cards and speaks with a finality that is rather unique to this one card. The sword suit tells us that the subject is a matter of thinking, communicating, and actions based on those thoughts and this card says the issue is dead. You've done as much as you can with it and it is quite enough. In fact, you've probably beaten this dead horse, as one sword was plenty, but now there are ten in the guy's back. As graphic as this card can be, try to remember that the swords represent not literal death but the end of a particular way of thinking, a particular issue or conversation. In many cases this card can show the end of worry, and in that aspect can come as a relief. The anxiety of the nine of swords is fully realized in the ten and you "give up the ghost" so to speak on the source of the worry. You've basically done all you can, said all you can, thought all you can on it and it is time to stick a fork in it because it's done. The transitional aspect of the ten is seen in various signs and symbols in the card. In most Rider Waite versions the dawn is breaking in the distance so it signals that, while this issue is dead, there can be hope and a fresh start. The dead man's hand is posed in the same sign of blessing as the Hierophant's hand, so there is the feeling that this ending is a blessing, though maybe in disguise. Often our minds refuse to let go of old thought patterns and some of us are very dogged in our need to win an argument, so this card really shows the consequence of clinging too tightly to outworn notions and stubbornness.

The Ten of Cups is all "Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!" Often featuring the idyllic scene of a family gathered together in warmth and love and happiness with a rainbow arching over them as a promise of continued blessing, this card is representative of those golden moments in life when it just doesn't get any better than this. These moments really feel like bottled sunshine and we so wish they could last a lot longer than they do. But tens are transitory and are meant to be a rest stop, not a destination. While the Ten of Swords often arises from resistance to change, the Ten of Cups shows a kind of resistance as well. When things feel this good, one is reluctant to fix what isn't broken, mess with perfection, or dare make a move else lose this glorious feeling. Let's not eff it up, shall we? But rainbows only last so long. In time, storm clouds will gather again and life won't feel so grand. Sometimes this card shows up in a reading to say, "This is the best it's going to be." In that respect, if you had future hopes for something to get better or develop into something more, this card kinda says well...no, this is it. This is as good as it's going to get. It can also signal that the stormy times in a relationship are over, at least for now, that all is well between you again and you can move on from here together. I don't often see this card literally represent marriage, although it can symbolize the end of the courtship phase and moving to the next level. But it just as often can show that the relationship has reached its natural conclusion and everyone is ok with that. Nobody is heartbroken or grieving, it's quite alright.

The Ten of Wands conveys such heaviness. Unlike the Ten of Swords which at least shows relief from a taxing mental trial, the Ten of Wands displays the resistance to change of responsibilities. There come times in life when one must recognize one's limitations. Maybe you used to be able to juggle two jobs, parenting, and being president of a local club, but it's really gotten to be too much. You're tired, you're aching, and your head is so buried in your daily responsibilities you can't see anything or anyone else. You may have an overactive sense of commitment which won't allow you to let go and so you drive yourself to go on and on even though your health and your relationships are suffering. As a ten, this card signals that something is going to break, something will end this insanity, and if you don't choose to put some of those wands down, something will force you to. I'm always struck by the way the figure's face is buried in the stack of wands and it reminds me of someone burying their head either in the sand or up their arse, depending on the attitude. It's as if this person thinks they are the only one who can do what it is they do and the world will just collapse if they don't do it. Not. More likely he will be the one collapsing. Though the card often seems to be saying, "Press on, you're almost there," I see it more often showing someone putting too much on their own shoulders that causes them to lose focus on what is truly important. Thus, when they finally are released from their burden, one way or another, they find a sense of freedom and are open to being creatively inspired in a new direction. Until they complete this journey, though, no new firey wands energy can enter in.

The Ten of Pentacles, like the Ten of Cups, shows a scene of contentment and ease, but this one is based more on the material comforts of life rather than an emotional high and as such are less fleeting, though not entirely secure either. For as we have seen in the progression of the pentacles numbers, wealth can be gained or lost suddenly or by measure, depending on circumstances and your own choices. This ten focuses more on reaching the place in life where you've established yourself in such a way that you can now begin to start new ventures, share your wealth, connect with others to help them get started on something new. Here in this card you can relax for a time, but maybe you can look to ways to use what you have, spread it around. As with the Ten of Cups, too, this card can tell you you've reached as far as you're going to go with a particular job, venture, or project. If this card comes up in a career reading about your current position, you may want to start sending out your resume because you're not likely to see much more increase in your salary in your present job. While it can bode well for future plans, when seen in the present it indicates that something has reached its potential and other seeds must be planted for new growth.

Tens can indicate endings, but they also show new beginnings as well. They really are kind of like that Ennead the Greeks believed lay beyond the nine because there is a sense of not really doing much but possibly tying up the very last loose ends of things and yet not having moved on to the next thing, stopping a moment in relief, grief, happiness, contentment, or some combination thereof. This is that time between and sometimes it can feel somewhat of a void as we move from one phase or cycle to the next, but the time is essential to get our bearings, a breather, and to reflect on the previous cycle. You never know when the next unexpected Ace will pop out of the clouds, so use this ten time wisely before you "level up" to the next phase of your journey.

Tarot of the New Vision by Pietro Alligo, artwork by Raul & Gianluca Cestaro Published by Lo ScarabeoTarot of the White Cats by Severino Baraldi © 2005 Lo Scarabeo ISBN# #073870463-6
DruidCraft Tarot By Stephanie Carr-Gomm & Philip Carr-Gomm & Will Worthington Published by Connections 2004
The Fey Tarot Deck and Book Set Copyright © 2002, LoScarabeo Book written by Riccardo Minetti Artwork by Mara Aghem Published LoScarabeo ISBN 0-7387-0280-3