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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Aftermath
Great Eastern IX was a blast. It rained off and on all weekend, and not just light sprinkles, but heavy downpours that came through the mountains like a freight train drenching everything thoroughly, then disappearing just as quickly. The tent stayed dry, though, which was a plus, because everything and everyone else didn't.

There were castle sieges and company battles, an all night lit ditching (fighting) field, knightings, and drunken knight brawls. Assassin ninjas were captured and humiliated. A Margarita party was thrown with a gas-powered blender that looked like a cross between a small lawnmower and a motorcycle.

It turned out to be one huge, soaking medieval party. It was great. The people there were wonderful. I knew many and met more warm, friendly, crazy, Amtgardians from all over the US and Canada.

All that to say, I'm now back to this tarot thing and will be answering your questions in the following posts.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Weekend Warriors
This weekend I am off to Pennsylvania to attend an Amtgard event, Great Eastern IX. This is the largest Amtgard event on the east coast and it is being held this year at the same campsite as the SCA's Pennsic. I did a reading last night on the event and in the immediate future position these two cards came up:Ok so, how literal is that? I laughed out loud when I saw those cards together. At Amtgard events people literally play battle games with sticks as depicted in the Five of Wands and the events are fun affairs, like the party atmosphere of the Four of Wands. Tarot could not have been more literal.

Anyway, I will be out of here Friday, May 25 through Monday, May 28. So I won't be blogging or doing readings until next week. I hope everyone has a nice Memorial Weekend, too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So You Want To Read Online?
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If you've thought about reading online, Leisa ReFalo of The Tarot Connection Podcast interviewed me about two months ago regarding reading for online psychic services. I hoped to be as unbiased as possible, giving the pros and cons of reading via the online venue, so take a listen to this week's podcast, Episode #43, if you thought to pursue that venue of professional tarot reading. This is just one more episode Leisa has put out dealing with the ups and downs and ins and outs of professional reading. It's tremendously valuable information Leisa is providing through these various interviews, information that just isn't available widely. There are few articles and books on professional tarot reading so these interviews are really a wonderful resource for those thinking about entering into reading for the public.

Also in this episode, Jeanette Roth of The Tarot Garden discusses three new tarot decks, the Abysmal, the Vanessa, and the Love decks. I met Jeanette at the Reader's Studio and she is so knowledgeable and obviously has such a passion for the decks she collects and sells. Bonnie expounds on the meanings of The Hierophant and the Lovers, too, so don't miss this episode.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Couple Answers
1 comment
The question about reversals needs its own post, but I thought I'd answer a couple of the posted questions in the meantime....

Evangelios said...

Hi Ginny,
I would like to hear your thoughts about using 2 or more decks in a reading.

Though it isn't a regular practice of mine, I have used different decks simultaneously while reading and it is a very interesting exercise. It's better left for those times when you have time to really reflect on the reading and not trying to shoot from the hip on some online pay-by-the-minute reading service. Some decks work really well together and others just will not speak to each other no matter how you ply them with bribes, so you kinda have to experiment with your decks to see which ones gel and which ones conflict.

Basically, it's kind of like doing a double card spread. You can do it two ways:

1. Lay out the spread in your normal way with one deck, then take the second deck and find all the cards that came up in the spread and lay them, in order, next to its mate of the first deck. Because deck imagery differs, each version of each card will shed a different light on the message.

2. Shuffle two different decks and lay one out in the spread, then randomly lay out the next "layer" of cards from the second deck. This spread would be read like a double spread, using pairs of cards for each position. This can be interesting because a card may show up twice in the spread in different positions because you are using two decks.

Another dual deck option is to use an oracle deck with your tarot deck. I have several and have found they can compliment a tarot spread very well, depending on your choices. I would recommend trying this method on a night when you have some time to really delve into the cards and soak up the imagery.

Katherine asked about "Quintessentials" of a spread: whether I use them at all, and what role they play in a reading. First of all, "Quintessence" is a classic alchemical term referring to aether. The aether was believed to be the substance which filled the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. Aristotle included it as a fifth element distinct from the other four, Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Aether was also called Quintessence (from quinta essentia, "fifth element"). Quintessence was also supposed to be a definition of pure energy. Its force was imagined to be like a lightning bolt. In tarot, this term is used as a reference to a way of rather "distilling" all the cards, numerically, down to a number between 1-22 to get a "quintessence" card of the Major Arcana to sum up the reading or with which to relate the reading together.

One calculates the Quintessence card by adding up all the cards in the spread used, excepting the court cards, then reducing them down to a number between 1-22, with 22 representing the Fool. You can use this card to shed additional light on the reading and often it does relate rather well to the theme of the reading. It is not necessary to do, but it is a practice some readers use to add another kind of depth to a reading. I don't tend to use it, mainly because there has to be a very fine reason for me to do math.

Another practice some readers use is the "Shadow Card." This is the card at the bottom of the deck after the cards have all been shuffled, cut and laid out in the spread. Often readers don't even look at it until the reading is complete. It likewise tends to be used as a "summary" card or a card that gives additional information, advice, or warning. Once again, I tend not to use this card, and I'm not sure why I don't. It's just not a practice that became habit for me. Once again, try it and if you find you appreciate the information gleaned using this card, go ahead and incorporate it into your readings. Why not?

More answers to come. Meanwhile try these methods and exercises and let me know what you think of them.

Friday, May 18, 2007

You Ask, I Answer
That last post about card pairs got me thinking that you might have questions I might be able to answer about tarot reading in general. Or at least give you my opinion at any rate. What do YOU want me to talk about in here? Here's your chance. Strike while I'm in the mood to be agreeable. Use the comment section of this post as a suggestion box.
New Tarot Fiction and More
I noticed her at the Readers Studio absorbed in her project. She was friendly, as were most of the people there, engaging and funny. But she spent a lot of time writing, writing, writing. It was clear she was working on a book while she was there, and others had mentioned that she had already published another. But it wasn't until the last day of the conference when she was invited to step to the podium and share an excerpt from her recently released (March 2007) novel, Accidentally Engaged, that we were able to truly appreciate Mary Carter's considerable talent. The reading was hilarious and it was clear that she completely understood the insanely obsessive moments most, if not all, tarot readers have experienced while attempting to read for themselves in the midst of a very emotionally tenuous time. She poked good fun at all of us, including herself, and the room erupted in appreciative laughter as we identified with her main character sitting in a seedy hotel room frantically trying spread after spread in vain attempt to divine her own romantic situation. That excerpt alone is worth the price of the book.

Mary Carter is Leisa Refalo's most recent guest on The Tarot Connection Podcast. Episode #42 features an interview with her as well as a guided ritual using the Aces by Bonnie Cehovet and I have begun recording my Tarot By The Numbers series for the podcast so this episode features the introductory post: "The Twos"

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pairing Up
Pairs of cards read together is a skill you don't necessarily have to learn to read tarot, however many readers want to know how to relate the cards to each other. Some spreads naturally have pairs of cards together, too, so if you want to learn how to use those you're going to need to know how to see the two cards interacting with one another. I often use a Double Celtic Cross, so I've become pretty comfortable with card pairing. Reading pairs also comes into play if you use clarifiers.

To clarify or not to clarify, that is the question. Some readers say no way, clarifying cards confuse rather than enhance meanings. Others, like me, say wellllll....not always. Sometimes, especially if you are unsure about the meaning of the first card, they can muddy the waters further, but it depends on how you use them. You knew you wouldn't get a straight answer out of me, didn't you? I'm all about the "well, it depends..." when it comes to tarot.

For those who don't even know what I'm talking about, clarifying cards are cards laid on top of an existing card in a spread in order to double-check or enhance the meaning of the first card. I find their best use is when you know what the first card means but want to know more or you want to be sure you've got the right aspect of the card. For example, if The High Priestess comes up and I'm feeling the card is stressing the secretive side of the Priestess rather than say, the passive feminine side, I may draw another card asking if I'm on the right track. If say, the 7 of swords clarifies it, BAM! I'm on the money. If the 4 of pentacles clarifies it instead I can change my track and go with the more passive, withdrawn meaning. Other times clarifiers can be used is when one may desire more information. I like to pull another card when, say, the Tower shows up in order to see what the result of the shake up will be. Another card that is useful to clarify is Death to indicate what may come afterwards, what the situation is transforming into. They aren't always necessary or desired, depending on your own intuitive sense about the card and the reading as a whole. Just remember, when using a clarifier, the first card is still provides the main message and should hold the most weight. The clarifier is meant to add some depth but not be read with the same weight as the first.

This isn't so for spreads that use pairs in each position, such as the Double Celtic Cross. In those spreads, each card in each pair holds equal weight so the interpretation comes from a blending of the two. This is where it can get a little difficult, depending on the pairing up of the cards. It helps to begin thinking outside the box of "good" versus "bad" cards because if you think along those lines and get one of each in a pair you're going to have trouble right off the bat thinking they are negating each other. I'm going to give some examples here because actually reading the cards is really the only way to demonstrate what I mean.

First, here is an example of using a clarifier card:

The question is about a situation with a co-worker that has the seeker concerned about the possibility it could endanger her stability at work. This three card spread's position meanings are Situation/Advice/Outcome.

So the situation, Temperance, shows that the situation with the co-worker will take time and patience to work through, but it's not as dire as the seeker may believe. They may have opposite views on this situation, but it can be worked through. They are attempting to find a middle ground between them, and given time they should be able to find an equitable solution. Certainly this is what the seeker hopes anyway.

The advice, 2 of Wands, tells me that the seeker needs to focus on her own work primarily and not allow this interpersonal problem with the co-worker distract her too much. If it appears the situation could indeed threaten her job, she should put out some feelers to other places to work. She needs to examine her options and choose her course of action.

The outcome card, 9 of Wands, seemed to be saying that she will find herself a bit hemmed in by this situation, but I wasn't sure if the conflict would be resolved or not. Given that it is a nine, I do see an ending, but it looks like it's going to leave the seeker a lot more reserved and cautious around the co-worker. I also see that her job status will be protected, but I was a little concerned about the woundedness of the figure and how it may affect the seeker's job performance, so I clarified the last card. The 7 of Wands shows that all in all, the seeker would successfully overcome in this situation, she would prevail, though it won't be easy. She will need to stand her ground on some very crucial points and compromise on others, but in order to protect herself she will have to stand firm. The two cards together show a cautious but successful attempt to work things out in a way that benefits the seeker.

For pairs of cards, the interpretation is similar, but the cards interact in a slightly different way. Neither card holds more weight than the other, unless one is a Major and the other a Minor, but even then you have to see how they blend. For example, here we have the Tower and the 4 of Pentacles.

Depending on the position meaning, the cards could be saying several different things. Initially, the Tower is the stronger card given its intensity and the fact that it is a Major. With the 4 of Pentacles solidity, though, I get the sense that while the Tower will shake things up quite a bit, there will be a solid core that will not be shaken. There will be something left to hold on to throughout the Tower experience and afterwards as well. It's as if the cards are saying, hold on, let things quake around you, but you will be able to hold centered throughout, just keep it together. You may see something different. I can also see several different interpretations depending on whether these cards are advice, prediction, past, or whatever. This combination could also indicate that while the Tower will shake things up in several areas of the person's life, their finances will not be affected, per the 4 of pentacles. Or it could be saying the reason the Tower is erupting is because the person has been holding on to something too tightly and has created a kind of pressure-cooker which results in a Tower experience. See, it all depends on how the cards fall in the reading and which way your intuition is telling you to go with them.

I don't use elemental dignities, but they can also be used when interpreting pairs. When you have opposing elements, or elements that strengthen or weaken each other, you can bring that, too, into play. However you choose to interpret the cards, it's easiest if you don't necessarily view each one separately then try to blend them, but look at them as a unit to begin with and see how the messages of the cards interact and blend. Place elements of each card in the other card. For example, you can envision the man in the 4 of Pentacles sitting fast in the Tower basement, debris falling round him, but he remains guarding his treasure. Blending the elements of the images like this will help you feel out the meaning rather than trying to interpret them individually then try to connect them somehow.

I use pairs of cards a lot in my readings, but I wasn't always comfortable with the practice. It's something I've grown into and become more fluent with, so if it's not for you, don't worry about it. It's just one more way to read the cards.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Sun
"This must my comfort be:
That sun that warms you here shall shine on me."
William Shakespeare (Richard II)

This be the happiest card in all of tarot: The Sun. It is drawn in a reading and you know all is well, or will be well, at least for a time. It's all about doing the happy dance and feeling utter abandon and joy. It's difficult to turn this card around and see anything at all negative about it. It's party time!

So what is there to say about all that? It's interesting that we spend so much time analyzing the darker cards of tarot and rather skip over the brighter ones. Oh, we're really glad they're there, but we just think we know what it means to be happy and carefree so, enough said, right? I should think you'd know me better than that by now.

Worship of a sun deity is as ancient as dirt. As far back as there have been humans, there is indication that the sun was revered and spiritually significant to every human culture. This is not at all surprising as the sun plays a significant role in our daily lives and without it life as we know it would not exist. Though western cultures have associated the Sun with a male deity, such as Apollo, many other cultures have personified the Sun as a goddess. This is appropriate to remember when we look at the earthly abundance in many tarot Sun card images and relate it directly to the procreative and generative qualities of The Empress. The dualism of sun/male/light and moon/female/darkness is found in many European traditions that derive from Orphic and Gnostic philosophies, with a notable exception being Germanic mythology, where the Sun is female and the Moon is male. So while historically tarot, being developed in Europe, would have associated the Sun with a male deity, specifically the Son of God as Christianity claimed, one can also see the feminine influences in the card as well.

The Sun card often features a child or children and is associated with a sense of returning to a simpler time, a more innocent, carefree way of living. It can also denote childishness or childlikeness in one's approach or view. It is full of optimism and lives fully in the present moment. All of the historical meanings from Waite to Mathers and Etteilla point to happiness, bliss, contentment, and joy. Even reversed the card isn't negative, per se, but is simply muted in its joy. Shall I leave good enough alone? Um...no.

The Sun is the primary life force that governs our existence on earth, but we lose sight of that given its regular appearance in the sky on a daily basis. We often take for granted the daylight that allows for the regeneration and fecundity of the earth. We remember only during an eclipse or during some kind of natural disaster that clouds the sky with smoke or ash that blocks out the sun's light. We think how awful it would be to live perpetually in darkness. Well, we couldn't live perpetually in darkness, as nothing would grow to sustain life. The earth would grow cold and lifeless. But we forget that each morning as some of us draw the curtains to block those morning rays.

Oh sure, we appreciate the sun when we've made weekend plans for an outing at the beach or a picnic. "What a beautiful day," we say when the sun cooperates with our plans. We expect the sun to rise and it does, so it's easy to take it for granted and we do. So it is with the Sun card in tarot. It comes up and it makes us smile, but like not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, we tend not to delve too far into the meaning behind it. Yet the Sun is such a powerful influence. It can make us feel wonderful or it can parch and dry the landscape with too much intensity and heat. It causes us to sweat, to become thirsty, and if we're not careful, it burns our skin.

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with scoliosis and wore a back brace for 3 years. By the time I was sixteen, I was so not going to wear that contraption when I went out with my boyfriend. So, I'd take a change of clothes, ditch the brace and throw it in the back of his car. One summer day we decided to head to the beach. My torso had not seen the sun in two years but this day vanity took over and I so wanted to wear this new bikini I had bought just for the occasion that I threw all common sense to the wind and spent all day out in the sun with no protection. We had a blast that day, playing in the water and laying in the sun. On the drive home I began shaking. I felt ill and cold and yet I could not stand the blanket against my skin. As I stood up to walk, I fainted. My boyfriend caught me, helped me in the house and stayed by my side as I waited for my mother to return home. Over the next week the skin on my stomach peeled away to reveal stinging, burning, raw skin underneath. I stood in front of a fan to get some relief from the burning pain. The Sun, I learned, is not always a friend.

The Sun follows The Moon in the ordering of the Major Arcana, and so brings light to darkness and clarity to confusion. While in the Moon landscape you cannot see nor know what you are seeing is true, but when the sun comes up, you see what you could not in the bare light of the moon. The Sun brings clarity of sight, of mind, and a feeling of safety. It reveals and enlightens. Think that's a good thing? Usually it is, but revelations can be painful as well. Sometimes delusions are a refuge and, once revealed as such, can be heartbreaking to face.

No, I'm not trying to bring everyone down. The Sun really is a great card and as such denotes really happy times, long lasting relationships, happy endings. It can also signify a time period of one year, as it takes the earth one year to orbit around the sun. Or it can indicate one day, the time it takes for the earth to rotate once around. We say things like "having our day in the sun. " Still, in the backs of our minds, just as we know the sun sets each day, we also know that good times don't last forever. As such, the Sun's advice could very well be to take time to appreciate this day rather than take it for granted as we tend to do. This is why I chose to feature The Sun card from The Hudes Tarot deck. The image of the bright sun against a grey sky allows one to both appreciate the breakthrough of the sun after the long, dark night of the soul and clearly see that the clouds are still there, though in the background. This card doesn't neglect the reality that, without those darker times, the Sun times would not taste nearly as sweet.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More To Come
I am working on a post about The Sun card. Meanwhile, head on over to The Tarot Connection because Leisa has put out a new podcast featuring none other than Robert Place, artist and author of The Alchemical Deck, The Buddah Deck, and the Vampire Deck and more. He was the artist from whom I bought that wonderful High Priestess print at the Reader's Studio. Bonnie discusses the symbolism of The Emperor and the 78 Notes segment is In Love With Love which puts a different spin on the Two of Cups.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

One Card for Me
I have a decision to make. I have a job offer that, if I take it, will require me to move two hours away from my kids. It's a writing job, at least in some capacity, and it is with a start-up online game design company. I will continue to read tarot online here, so that's not the issue. The main issue is the distance from my kids, although there are other important issues at hand as well. *sigh* It's complicated. However, the question is: Should I take the job?

Now, we know tarot readers usually suck at reading for themselves and I am no exception. So I drew one card and I am asking you to tell me what this card is saying in answer to my question. Help me out here, ok?