Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Rise above

What is the most helpful thing I can do for myself today? 

Ancien TdM, Grimaud 1973
Hew down troubled thoughts and give them as an offering to your inner knowing. 

Thoughts that seek to destroy you should be met by the serene indifference of your inner knowing.

The 8 of Swords is all about troubled thoughts. The number 8 itself stand for 'ideas or thoughts of the mind', and Swords 'are the troubles that plague every man'. So the 8 of Swords is the perfect card to represent overthinking, particularly obsessive worries about the 'troubles that plague every man' -- thoughts about things like losing a source of income, having a catastrophic illness, or someone dropping dead, contemplating your own mortality, right down to smaller universal troubles like never being sure you're doing the right thing, or looking back on the past and wishing things had gone differently, all of these are 'troubles that plague every man'. They happen to everyone. The 8 of Swords represents worrying about these things. In fact, the Grimaud LWB says, 'This card has powerful undercurrents and possesses no meaning in the abstract sense. Heavy and overpowering, it marks despair because of the evil undercurrents that it attracts.' Wow. We can all justifiably worry about these things. But does it do us any good?

In this story of the cards, even though Death is facing the High Priestess, I don't think he's going for her. I think he's making obeisance to her. It looks like he's just chopped up worries from the 8 of Swords and is looking to her for approval. She certainly looks on at him with a benign and pleasant expression. They see eye to eye. So it could be that he's destroyed the overthinking and is turning it over to the higher mind, the aspect of self that exists above the ego. That's one way to read the story of the cards.

Another way to look at this draw is that in fact 8 of Swords and Death ARE working together -- the overwhelming thoughts and Death have teamed up to try to destroy you. But they find themselves squared up against a more powerful force than themselves -- inner knowing. In this story told by the cards, Death uses the 8 of Swords as his primary weapon, wreaks havoc in the mind, turns toward the High Priestess looking rather exhausted and hoping to go for her next, but nope. She is wise to his tricks. She looks mildly at him. She even looks somewhat amused by him. He can stand there panting and clutching his scythe all he likes. She knows that while she's locked eyes with him, he doesn't have the strength in his scrawny arm to raise it against her.  And that's another way to read the story of these cards.

That is the most helpful thing I can do for myself today. Rise above troubled thoughts that believe they can destroy me. They can't. I cannot be destroyed -- not even by myself. No, not even if my thoughts have convinced me that they can. They can't. Not if I look them in the face and let them know I see them. They can't get the real 'I'. Not the higher me.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Ancien Tarot de Marseille -- a very old deck finds a new forever home

Ancien Tarot de Marseille, Grimaud 1973
I bought this deck on eBay the other day (£8 -- bargain). In the photograph, you see the box with plastic insert to hold the deck divided in half, the instruction booklet, and on left, the Ancien Tarot de Marseille deck. Next to it on the right, I've placed the CBD tarot for comparison, so you can see how thick the card stock is. It is about twice the thickness of the average tarot deck.

I was really surprised at how pristine the deck is, considering it is 43 years old. The cards still had the cellophane bands around them. They look brand new. The box has some slight yellowing, and both box and deck have that curious smell that comes with old paper. I can't describe it, but you know it when you smell it. It isn't terribly strong, but it's there. The cards have a tiny copyright imprint: G & P Grimaud 1963 (not 1973). The cards are extremely oversaturated with colour, consisting of golden yellow, dark blue, dark green, deep red, a peachy flesh tone and black. The background and some card details are vivid white.  The deck is solid and chunky in the hand, and there is no way to riffle it. Hand over hand is the only way to go.

There are some endearing quirks to this deck, for example, the coin suit is called 'money' and cards are labelled 'Knave of Money', 'Queen of Money'. The Tower is called 'Tower of Destruction'. Lovers is called 'The Lover'.  Batons are called 'Clubs'.  The Popesse is called 'The High Priestess' but the Pope is still 'The Pope'. And card XIII is labelled 'Death', on the side of the card. I have no idea who did the redrawings or what deck it is based on.

Here's my draw for today:

9 of Clubs, 2 of Swords, Knave (Page) of Swords. The Knave has his eye firmly on the flower configuration in the centre of 2 of Swords.


An obstacle or delay causes conflict; the best course of action is to take up a mildly defensive posture while keeping attention focused on the heart of the matter. Be prepared to swat lightly, like at a fly. It's very likely you'll not have cause to strike. It will probably resolve itself. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Line of sight reading starting with three majors - what should be my priorities today?

Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014 
I decide to use majors only, and if I need more cards, I will draw from the minors. Boom boom boom. Magician, Popesse, Pope. But what are the Magician and Popess looking at? Let's draw some more.  Knight of Swords (not pictured). He's facing the left, too, so what are they all looking at? 4 of Coins. And on the right, what is the Pope looking at? 8 of Cups (not pictured).

The trickster and the warrior have their eyes on material stability, but the Popesse has their number and sets it down in her little book. She's not fooled. Back to back with the Pope, who is casting a spell toward the future -- thoughts and ideas that bring happiness; plans for future happiness. Expecting a good emotional outcome.

The three central cards, the original three card draw, show the female and male counterparts back to back. They could either be divided, working in opposition and not pulling together, or they could be seen as back to back in a defensive position, like you see in martial arts films. If the Magician were looking toward the Popesse I might suspect that he is trying to trick her, and that he represents her suspicions about the Pope, who she has her back toward. But he isn't he's looking away, and that makes me think there's something beyond him that he's focusing on, and has nothing to do with the Pope, so that puts the the Popess and the Pope in a defensive couple posture instead of as adversaries. The Knight of Swords suggests that the Magician's tricks are meant to harm, but harm what? and 4 of Coins is solid, material stability. The Trickster is out for my money. But I'm watching. I've got my intuition and I'm taking notes. The Pope's got my back and he's looking toward the future and trying to keep spirits up.

So my priorities for today are to do some research to make sure that my financial stability is not under threat. In fact, the Magician and the Warrior could be aspects of the Popesse sent out in pursuit of financial stability, not necessarily adversaries. Either way, information should be gathered today, and about what? Trust my instincts.

Another interpretation is a division between one partner who feels the need to keep the focus on these concerns and the other partner who just wants to be happy and puts all his attention on happiness. So in that way they turn their backs to each other. And boy does that sound familiar.

Lots to think about today.

So okay, second try -- my priorities for today are to take care of the financial security in whatever ways I can, in whatever ways my intuition tells me I need to, but also not to turn my back on my partner, who might be feeling ignored. I don't know if you've noticed, but I can be pretty intense, and often forget to be 'happy' about stuff. :)

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Elemental correspondences -- have you thought about yours?

I've just been reading The Oracle Travels Light by Camelia Elias, again. The first time I tried to read it, it just didn't click for me. I couldn't follow. It was a bunch of gobbledygook. And this after I was so utterly smitten by Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading. I admit, I was trying to charge through with a pen in hand, looking for the 'good stuff' to incorporate, and not really reading it the way it was meant to be read. Several months later, it seems to be falling into place. And today, I felt a real paradigm shift with regard to elemental correspondences -- the elements we assign to the tarot suits. I initially rejected this when I read it in Marseille Tarot, and even wrote in the margin of that book: 'These are off base -- but as long as she is consistent, I guess it doesn't matter.'

I learned on the Golden Dawn system, which is used in the Rider Waite Smith and most tarot decks. Nearly all readers in the English-speaking tarot world use this system:

Fire - Spring - Wands
Water - Summer - Cups
Air - Autumn - Swords
Earth - Winter - Coins

If you want a book that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about applying this particular system to tarot, then Benebell Wen's Holistic Tarot is the book for you. I read that one cover to cover and thought my life was complete, until I got hold of Marseille Tarot directly after reading it!

Now I'm not an expert on various systems and don't know the origins, but I do know that some decks switch Air and Fire, having Swords = Fire and Wands = Air. Decks such as Silicon Dawn and Legend Arthurian do this.

The Crystal Tarots by Elisabetta Trevisan switches Cups and Swords so that Cups = Air and Swords = Water, which is really hard to fathom.

Let it be known that you don't have to use elemental correspondences in tarot readings. It's not necessary in the slightest. And you don't have to use a widely accepted system, or follow the system of the deck you're using -- though it may be a challenge to deviate, as some decks make the elemental correspondences very plain in the art work and colouring. But if you do use correspondences, you ought to have a good reason behind your choices, beyond, 'It's the one everyone uses,' or 'I just like them like that.'

In Marseille Tarot, Elias gives her set, saying, 'This is my own rendition, and based on my understanding of how the card readers of old, the cunning-folk, must have thought of it when they passed down the essential idea':

Fire - Spring - Coins
Water - Summer - Cups
Air - Autumn - Wands
Earth - Winter - Swords

What? My brain could not compute how Coins could be anything but Earth, or how Swords could be anything but Air. She wasn't even switching Wands with Swords, which at least I'd seen before in other decks. No, she's switching Wands with Coins and Coins with Swords!  I dismissed this as some personal quirkery and moved on, because her explanations were too impressionistic and I could not follow them:

'Coins/Diamonds are for spring and fire. A fresh idea is a hot idea. Coins are chiseled for exchange and culture. We hold coins in our hands. They denote working with our head. Coins represent the nervous system. All things on fire. Travel vehicles that use an engine. Expensive computers. A cooking range. The kitchen. The dining room. The roof of the house. East.' (Marseille Tarot, page 123)

What what?? Coins, fire engines, computers, what the hell?

'Batons/Clubs are for autumn and air. An idea needs to be harvested. Trees grow in the air. Tall trees turned into batons to fight with are at arm's length. We exercise with a stick. Make fences. Clubs represent the muscular system. We run. We use our legs, or take an airplane to whiz through the air faster. West. The floors of the house.'

Okay, I thought -- whatever! This must be really over my head or else this lady's just got some very kooky ideas, but it doesn't matter, because the rest of the book is so useful. Those are some crazy words and phrases hooked together there. I made question marks in the margin and turned the page.

Then, this morning, I was up at an even more ungodly hour than usual (4.00 AM -- sciatica), and encountered these notions again in the book The Oracle Travels Light. This time, it seemed to click. Reluctantly, I might add, because I do not like writers meddling in the affairs of my fixed ideas, for I am subtle and quick to anger. :) But click it did:

'What are the four suits in a pack of cards? Nature, our own bodies, and prompters of action,' I read. Hmm. Tell me more...

'The cups suggest our blood, and the way it circulates in our bodies. Without our blood streaming we are dead.' Yes, true. Cups are essential. Liquid is life. Yes, yes.

'With the diamonds or the coins, we make transactions. We can feel our adrenaline making our blood hot when we're about to close a deal that's important to us. Having your brain on fire is no small thing.' Pause. Squint. Coins as fire? NO. That's not right. I pictured all those tarot cards showing coins nestled in earth or growing on trees. And own feelings about money aren't cold like the earth, or in any way about growth cycles. My feelings about money are fevered. I have to admit it. I carried on reading...

'With the clubs or the batons, we build dwellings, or compete.' I pictured wattle and daub construction, and cavemen hitting each other with sticks. 'They have the energy of the wind. Before they are cut down, tall trees know who whispers in their leaves.' By god, I suddenly saw treetops swaying in the breeze and heard the noise and thought holy crap! Trees are wind! That's how they talk! What else is here?...

'With spades or swords, we dig the earth. We go to war to conquer territory, more land - more earth.' Great gods, I see this. Spades ARE used to dig the earth, and swords ARE forged to conquer, and to conquer what? More land! Holy paradigm shift, it hurts to have your gears switched. But I could actually see how swords could be EARTH.

So here I am. Changed again. I've already given up esoteric blah-blah when thinking about the suits. Taking the example of Enrique Enriquez, I've started looking quite literally at cups, batons, swords and coins in my readings. And it feels to me as if these correspondences are also more literal and mundane, more suited to the actual emblems themselves. I could never really see how batons were fire, but I can relate to trees swaying in the wind; it is an image that is much more deeply meaningful to me than imagining sticks burning. And I can relate to the fire in the brain caused by coins. Yes. And digging the earth with spades and battling for land with swords makes far more sense than the vague image of a sword slicing through the air. So yes.

Will this last? I'll just have to try a few readings and see. And with the TdM, no artist has imposed any elemental ideas onto the cards for me to fight against. I can use whatever I want, or not use any. Beauty.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Judgement - Noblet

Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014
'With this trump appears another judgement: the person must accept what he has become. He must ignore the urge to leave all behind and become a hermit in the desert. He has been through so many transformations on the energetic level that he is wary of believing that the phoenix has at last risen from the ashes. An immense sincerity invades him. And yet, the individual is now accepted, summoned by the heavens to rise and exert himself in the world. ...[He is] someone restored to life on earth in order to work for heaven.' 
                                                         -- JC Flornoy, Tarot of Marseille of Jean Noblet, LWB

I think it's pretty impressive that he is able to take all this in, having risen with a dislocated shoulder, missing arm and a brioche for a head. If I were those other two hipsters, I'd be staring, too.

'Dude...your head.'

'Silence, bro.  Angel's trumpet solo, man.'

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Line reading the Emperor

Noblet Tarot, JC Flornoy 2014 edition
I drew Emperor for today and thought, hm, what's he looking at? So I drew 6 of Coins. But then I wondered, well, what? And I drew King of Swords. Well, then. What are these two looking at? And I drew Ace of Swords, which felt like the end of the line, so I stopped.

I'm seeing here a lot of clarity and mastery in the material realm -- finances, health, security, etc. The Emperor is certainly looking over the remainder of the spread. Six is the most harmonious of the numbers, so the Emperor rules over the material realm quite well. He's aided by the King of Swords who looks toward Ace of Swords, his emblem -- he's prepared to marshal all his strengths and skills to create this material harmony. Logic, rational thought, careful planning. The Emperor's crown is held aloft by the strengths of the Sword.

I guess this means I'm heading in the right direction lately. That's good news! I do feel like I've had more clarity, less fog, the last few days. Long may it continue.

Some line readings:

Taking control of financial and health situation requires mastery of emotion and clear thinking. 

Keep looking forward with the knowledge that you have the skills and the power to take control of your financial and health situation. 

Turn your back to the past and face the current situation. Wrest control of it with logical and clear planning. 

Control of the situation depends upon being rational. Emotion plays no part in it. Keep your eyes on that prize of a simple plan. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Line reading with 7 of Cups

7 of Cups today from CBD Tarot (not shown in image. Image is from Google images, an unidentified deck.)

It's been a rough couple of days. My emotions have been very volatile, explained by hormone fluctuation, the pressures of a house buy and the reality of a mortgage that possibly extends longer than my employability.

7 of Cups is troubled emotion or relationship(s). That pretty much sums it up my last few days. It's been stormy round here, people!

To expand on this card, I drew two more: 2 of Coins and 8 of Swords. Ideas and plans for balancing finances. Yes again.

To read the story of the cards, here are a few different possible interpretations:

--Troubled emotions/relationships caused by overthinking the balance of money.

--Troubled emotions/relationships require schemes for getting to grips with the reality.

--Troubled emotions/relationships find balance (become grounded) through careful analysis.

--A financial partnership is stormy but can be balanced by a rational approach.

No matter how you slice it, the message is clear. Get a grip. This looks like a job for CBT, some research, and some very flexible short term and long term planning. And a bit of faith and trust.