Tuesday 31 December 2013

Strife! Yay!

Thoth Tarot, Crowley-Harris
First thought on drawing the 5 of Wands from the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot -- oh, great. Just what I needed today. 'The Lord of Strife.' Perfect.

The RWS version of this card shows five boys play fighting with sticks. But this card shows a very imposing and Egyptian-looking stave, topped with wings, a central 7-pointed star combined with Crowley's 'Mark of the Beast' insignia, and a couple of serpent heads. The bottom has two more wings. The stave is marked at the top with the symbol of Saturn, at the bottom with the symbol of Leo. The four intersecting wands or staves are blue and red. The blue is topped with a lotus blossom and nothing at the bottom, the red with an ibis head and wings at the bottom. Or at least, it looks like an ibis to me. Crowley himself says it is the head of a phoenix. I think maybe he told Harris to paint a phoenix and she just did what she wanted and painted an ibis. (It wouldn't be the first instance of Harris not exactly painting to Crowley's specs). The 'phoenix' is meant to represent purgation, the lotus the 'mitigating influence of the mother.' At each point where the wands intersect, flames flare. The entire configuration stands out in stark relief against a yellow background.

'One of the most difficult doctrines with regard to Geburah is that, while it represents all this tameless, irrational energy and disturbance, yet it derives from the benign and gentle influence of the feminine,' says Crowley in his Book of Thoth, the companion book to this deck, which Crowley actually instructed must always be included with the deck whenever it was sold. (So much for Crowley's instructions! How many boxsets have you run across that include Book of Thoth?) -- Geburah is the Tree of Life association with the number 5. All this Tree of Life stuff can get quite complicated, so I will spare you the details other than to say all fives are of Geburah, and if you want to learn more, get some books on qabalah. :)

So it would appear that this 'Lord of Strife' card isn't as bad as we first might think. Paul Hughes-Barrows even says, 'The natural feeling about it is really little more than the reluctance of people to get up from lunch and go back to the job.' It's that kind of conflict, that sort of 'strife'. Now that I can relate to today!

Monday 30 December 2013

True Will: The Ace of Swords in Thoth

The crowned blade of the Ace of Swords from the Crowley Harris Thoth Tarot floats before a sunrise amongst the clouds. Engraved on the sword is the word 'Thelema' in Greek lettering (Θελημα). The word 'thelema' itself is Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament of the Bible, and means 'will'. It is rarely seen in the Bible, but significantly, it is in the Lord's Prayer itself:

ἐλθέτω  βασιλεία σου· γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
(Matthew 6:10)

'Thelema' is also the word used in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus is praying to be spared the suffering of the cross, but concludes, 'Not my will but thine be done' (Luke 22:42).

Aleister Crowley uses the word 'Thelema' as the name of his personal philosophy: 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.' It is the religion created by Crowley. 

The card seems to be saying that the Will is the crowning glory of us all, which we use to cut through this life, to make our own way. There should be nothing, according to Crowley's philosophy, which should (or could) stand in the way of our True Will. It is appropriate that the Ace of Swords is chosen to represent Thelema, as it is recommended by Crowley that one practice skepticism and scientific method to assess everything and decide for oneself what is true. True Will, Crowley teaches, is different for everyone, and no one can help you find it. It is a sword you must lift and wield all by yourself. 

Now, what does this mean for me today? Looks like I may be called upon to plow through some b*llshit, and probably make some choices, which I would do well to approach with clarity and without too much emotion. 

Friday 27 December 2013

An end of year clear out

I have some decks on offer for sale or trade...

This not the most handsome photo I've ever taken, but the items on offer are:

Silicon Dawn Tarot -- £15 with free shipping within UK
condition excellent, in box with book SOLD

The Fool's Wisdom Oracle Cards -- £8 with free shipping within UK
Brand new, never used, just looked through

8-Bit Tarot -- £10 with free shipping in UK
Like new condition, never used. This is a self-published deck and I have no idea how widely available it may be now. SOLD

Titania's Star Tarot -- £8 with free shipping in UK
Packaging shows wear, condition used. Cards are in good nick, though.

Nefertari's Tarots -- FREE
This deck was given to me by a good and generous friend. Unfortunately, the gold foil finish flashes in my eyes and gives me a headache. If you like shiny stuff, and you like Egyptian stuff, give this one a try. Spoken for by Delphine S

Radiant Rider, borderless, with custom bag -- £20 with free shipping within UK
Cards in pristine condition, absolutely perfectly trimmed to borderless.
Bag has orange silk lining, decorated outside with vividly coloured owls. Sold to Diane B

Wheel of the Year Tarot -- £9 with free shipping within UK
Deck is trimmed to borderless, with silver embellishments added using silver metallic paint pen. Includes box and LWB.  SOLD

If you would like to buy any of these items, or if you have a tarot or oracle deck to offer me as trade, please leave a comment and/or email me at rowan_tarot@yahoo.co.uk. You can also contact me on Facebook. Please do not send any money via Paypal until sale has been agreed.

Happy shopping!

Saturday 21 December 2013

Cats in the Wild Unknown Tarot

Wild Unknown Tarot
There are four cards in the Wild Unknown Tarot featuring cats - Magician, High Priestess, Justice and Strength. I like that these cards have natural links to each other and also share the same animal theme. That is logical and sensible.

Let's start with the pair of Magician and High Priestess. For some reason, a leopard looks more feminine to me and a tiger more masculine, so already I see a yin yang type thing going on with these two cards - a masculine energy of the Magician with the slender, feminine lines of the leopard, and the female energy of High Priestess with the chunkier, hulkier appearance of the tiger. The Magician is active and his card is filled with light, and his cat is associated with agility and speed, particularly adept at climbing trees, leaping and running fast. The High Priestess is passive, her card is dark, and her cat is the largest of the cat species, and while it can run fast in short bursts, is mostly portrayed as lying around looking formidable. (Did you know the global tiger population is under 4,000? That's not really tarot-related, but comes as a shock to me.)

Then we have the two cards, Justice and Strength. In the Wild Unknown, Justice is card 8 and Strength is card 11. I don't really care which way around they go, but since I first learned with RWS, to me Strength will always be number 8 no matter what the card says at the top. Anyway, it seems to have no bearing on these two cards. Justice features what looks to me like two domestic short-hairs, a black one and a white one. Of course this refers to the 'black and white' nature of the concept of justice. We often see black and white patterns in Justice and Emperor cards in other decks. Also, since 'justice' seems to be a construct of human civilization, I think it makes sense that the animal chosen to go on the cards would be a product of human genetic modification - the domestic cat. And of course, as there is a lion on the traditional RWS Strength card, it's no surprise to find one on the Strength card in the Wild Unknown. The maiden of the RWS card is represented by the rose clutched demurely in the lion's jaws.

I like these four cards.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Trees in the Wild Unknown Tarot

I thought I'd try to get my head around this deck by looking at themes, patterns and recurring images. There are six cards that feature trees, so let's have a look at them.

The Emperor and Empress
These two cards swap black and white -- Emperor is black on white, Empress is white on black. The Emperor tree is a longer, pointier shape, which could perhaps be seen as phallic, while the Empress tree is a rounder shape. The Emperor tree has lots of spaces between branches, while the Empress tree is more lush. The Emperor tree stands out in stark black on white, and the sun is blotted out by a total eclipse, though the sky remains colorless, neither blue nor dark, but white. The Empress on the other hand is beneath a waning crescent moon. The sky is black. The tree is tinged with red, though, and this strikes me both as a warm colour, and also a reference to fecundity, the richness and the darkness of the womb. 

The Tower and the Moon
The Tower and the Moon cards both feature evergreen trees in white against a black background. In the Moon card, we again see a waning crescent. I don't know if this has significance, or if it's just because the artist likes the moon drawn in the shape of a letter C. I am just not sure how much purposeful meaning went into these cards, beyond design, and how much we are putting into the after the fact. So-called 'intuitive' readers can load imagery with all sorts of meaning--can take anything, a photo from a magazine, an advertisement, a beermat--and see symbolic significance there. That said, the two trees in the Moon card are probably acknowledging the two towers in the RWS Moon. 

The Tower card shows a tree being struck by lightning, which seems to be a very straightforward Tower depiction. 

The 6 of Cups and Ace of Pentacles
People talk a lot about how 'natural' these cards are, and they are, but actually there is manmade stuff all over the imagery in Wild Unknown. We have cups, swords, domesticated flowers (roses), domesticated animals (horses, goats, cats), we have crosscuts of tree trunks, such as you get from using a saw, there are ribbons wound around swords and twigs -- there is evidence of man in many of the cards. For me, this does not detract from the deck, but rather adds to it. Most of my favourite decks feature people very heavily, and a way in to the cards for me is the human element present there. 

So in the 6 of Cups we have a tree that is growing upward against a sky that has horizontal lines. These lines make me think of measuring the height of the tree over time, as it grows. The view of underground shows that the roots of the tree are deeper and wider than the tree itself, which of course is true of trees, but we also have the suggestion that this is also true of ourselves. Our roots, our past experiences, our lessons learned, the things we have been through, loom deeper and larger and wider than our present manifestation. Without them, our present manifestation could not exist. The card shows it to the point that all the actual colour is in the roots. That is a strong message! 

Finally the Ace of Pentacles shows a cross-section of a tree trunk. In the heart of it, a glowing orange core with five points radiating outward, like a cross-cut of an apple. The tree trunk itself seems to glow outward--not only do we grow upwards, but we also expand. Height suggests aspirations to the spiritual, whereas outward growth suggests an expansiveness that encompasses the earthly plane, and all its sensations and experiences. 

Tarot cards are about people. These Wild Unknown cards are about people, too. This deck explores the human experience and spirit through images of nature, which in some ways could be seen as adding a layer to get through to get to the heart of the meaning. The tree cards aren't about trees. The cat cards aren't about cats. They're about us. Figuring out how a tree is like a mother is one degree of separation from an image of a human mother. In this way, for some at least, the Wild Unknown Tarot can have the same barriers presented by any 'themed' deck, such those based around mythology, or fairy tales, or Jane Austen.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Looking at the Wild Unknown Tarot

The last couple of days I've been looking at the Wild Unknown Tarot. Last night I laid the whole deck out in the floor in order and sat and looked at it for a long time. Then I put the deck back together and examined each card, trying to find the meaning in the images. I haven't been that enamoured of this deck, to be honest, so I've been trying to find the appeal of it. Obviously it is very striking, all that black and white with the splashes of colour here and there. But I see little value in a pretty deck if you can't read with it, and I haven't done much in the way of trying to read with the Wild Unknown.

The first thing I did was look really closely at the majors. With each card, I stared at the image, trying to make the connections, until I felt a click of understanding of how this particular image evokes the card's meaning. When I understood a card, I put it on the 'understand' pile. When I never quite could get the connection, I put it on the 'don't understand' pile. These are cards where I can't quite see why the animal or image chosen represents the card meaning to the deck creator. This pile for the majors consists of: Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Wheel of Fortune and Temperance. I just wonder why big cats were chosen for Magician and High Priestess--why a leopard for Magician, tiger for High Priestess? What is that globe the High Priestess has? Is it the earth? Why are the Empress and Emperor trees? I can kind of see why the Emperor is black and white, but why is the Empress white on black with red tinges? Why is the Hierophant a crow clutching a key? Why a crow? The Wheel of Fortune I kind of get, but why is Temperance a heron? Is it a heron? I'm not sure. Is there some symbolic significance to the heron? No answers -- yet.

Then I looked at the courts, and at first, these were all on the 'don't understand' pile. Why were these particular animals chosen for the courts? Then I got a bit of a click. The Cups court family is made up of geese, famous for their lifelong loyalty to their mates. There is a pair of geese on the Lovers card as well. The Swords courts are owls, which makes sense because we associate owls with wisdom, and Swords with the mind. It took me a while to twig why the Wands courts are snakes -- but if snakes are about transformation, and Wands are about the fires of creation/transformation, that makes sense. And finally, the Pentacles courts are deer, which seem to be quite in tune with their surroundings and deeply connected to earth and the signals of the physical. So all the courts went into the 'understand' pile.

A few of the puzzling cards from Wild Unknown Tarot

Finally, the pip cards, which are 'semi-illustrated.' I sorted them again and again into the 'understand' and 'don't understand' piles. I examined the piles and put them in numerical and suit order. Funnily enough, I understood nearly all of the Sword cards, and almost none of the remaining cards. The ones I don't get are:

Swords - 4
Cups - 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Wands - 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10
Pentacles - 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9

Why is there a calf with a glowing forehead on 4 of Swords? Why is there a rat on 4 of Cups? Why are there colourful tree roots on 6 of Cups? What the heck is the deal with the upside down cups and the indentation of lines in 7 of Cups? Why are all the cups broken in 8 of Cups? Why are the cups arranged in a huge circle in 9 of Cups and what is that crescent moon there for? Why are rainbow rays connecting the cups in 10 of Cups? I don't know.

What does 2 of Wands have to do with anything? Why does the 4 of Wands look like an eye? Why is there another moth on 6 of Wands? What does a light shining in darkness have to do with 7 of Wands? Why does the 9 of Wands look like a stairway to the moon? How is a pattern of dropped sticks a burden in 10 of Wands? I don't know.

Why is there yet another moth on 2 of Pentacles? What is the deal with moths?? What does a mountain have to do with the 3 of Pentacles? What is miserly about the pattern on the 4 of Pentacles? Is the 6 of Pentacles a nod to the flowers in the RWS? What does the right angle mean in 7 of Pentacles, and why do the coins make a diagonal division across the card? Why are there feathers on the 9 of Pents when I thought it was a 'deer' suit? I don't know!

I do not have the companion book, but it doesn't look terribly heavy on text and I don't want to waste my money on a book that doesn't give me answers. I will continue to try to come up with something myself, but if I can't --well, then I can't use this deck. I'll keep looking at it.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Book and Deck Review | Tarot: The Open Reading and CBD Tarot de Marseille

I haven't had much dealing with the Tarot de Marseille, and the main reason is that I think the majors and courts are, to be frank, extremely ugly. And yet, I find the pip cards gloriously beautiful, and so I keep finding myself drawn to the deck. I do love unillustrated minor cards (or 'pips only' cards, as I like to call them), and the TdM pips are wonderful, particularly the swords suit, with its amazing curving shapes,and the coins, with all those scrolling vines and leaves twining around the disks. If it weren't for those god-awful majors...

A few years ago someone gave me the Jean Noblet TdM. I tried to like it but I just couldn't get into it, and it was considered such a special deck that I felt bad about it sitting ignored in my collection, so I traded it. (I can't even remember what I traded it for now, but chances are that deck, too, has been traded or sold, because I do ruthlessly cull my collection of decks.) The only reason I bought the my current TdM is because I read about it on Facebook (darn you, Facebook!) and thought I ought to have one TdM that is considered 'correct' -- whatever that may mean. I trust those who know better than me in that regard. (You, Caitlin Matthews!)

Which brings me round to today's post, a review of the CBD Tarot de Marseille (Yoav ben Dov, 2010) and the companion book, Tarot: The Open Reading (sold separately). The full title of the deck is 'CBD Tarot de Marseille: A faithful reproduction of the traditional Tarot based on the standard deck printed by Nicholas Conver 1760, restored and adapted by Yoav Ben Dov.' I just call it 'CBD Tarot', which is an acronym for 'Conver-Ben Dov'.

The Deck
Ben Dov says he didn't set out to create a tarot deck, but rather to write a book about tarot. During the course of writing the book, he realized during the process of copyright negotiations that he might as well create a deck himself. Using several Conver decks, he kept the original lines, including their bizarre anomalies, and selected shades of the original colours. If it was red in Conver, it's red in CBD, but of course Ben Dov had to choose the shade. He also made adjustment to faces to be more appealing to modern eyes. He commissioned an illustrator to draw the lines of the original by hand, then a digital graphic designer to correct line details and add titles and colour. He then tweaked the designs digitally himself, and there we have the CBD Tarot de Marseille. The deck can be purchased online at www.cbdtarot.com.

It comes in an off-white tuck box featuring an illustration of the World card on one side, and the figure of the Fool on the other. The box has Hebrew writing on it (because Yoav Ben Dov lives in Israel, though the deck is printed in Belgium), but the LWB is in English. The 63-page LWB is well written, with decent sized print for easy reading. The tuck box itself is fairly sturdy and should stand up to gentle handling.

The full deck measures 12 x 6 x 2.5 cm (4.75 x 2.5 x 1 inch, approximately). It is a long, skinny deck. Some people like that, and consider it 'tarot shaped'. I prefer a chunkier shape, but never mind. All of the cards have white backgrounds, not stark white but not off-white. They are noticeably white. The deck has eight colours: white, black, yellow, red, blue, light blue, green and 'flesh colour', a red-beige. Each of these colours has taken on symbolic meaning to TdM readers, and one of the reasons I wanted this deck is that it is acknowledged (by those who know) as having 'correct' colours for a TdM, which apparently is significant if you want to read the TdM in a traditional way. (I am just getting my head around traditional cartomantic techniques using the TdM.) The titles of majors are in French. The serial numbers on minors are on the left and right sides, or not at all. There is an extra blank card ('carte blanche') which can be seen as a wild card in readings. The card backs are a plain but pleasant blue design. Here's a major, a minor with number, a minor without number and the card back:

The card stock itself is supple and soft, riffles like a dream straight from the box, and has very slight waxy feel. No lamination to speak of; if it's there, it is very light indeed. It is really lovely stock, neither too thick (like Tarot Illuminati, Enchanted Lenormand, or Tarot of the Sidhe) nor too thin (like Druidcraft).

The Book
The book has a similar plain off-white cover with The World on the front and The Fool on the back. I ordered mine from Amazon. It is available in paper or Kindle format, and just came out recently. This 259-page book consists of eleven chapters, plus card interpretations. In the usual manner, the majors get several pages each, while the minors receive only a half page each (less than half a page, really, as a large chunk of space is devoted to a black and white image of the card), and actually about half of the text for each card is devoted to a description of what the card looks like. I've never understood why companion books do this. I can see the card. I can see the illustration of the card. I don't need you tell me what it looks like, I need you to tell me what you think it means, please. But oh well. In essence, each minor card gets roughly 6 lines of  interpretation. The same material is in the LWB that comes with the deck. This is not unusual in tarot publications, but I do wish a little more thought would be put into the minors. I think minor cards are underrated.

The chapters in this book are:
1. The Tarot Deck, in which Ben Dov gives an introduction to the history of tarot and overview of the French and English schools of tarot.
2. The Reading Session, in which he gives his ideas about the proper way to set up a reading space and conduct a reading.
3. Reading the Cards, which is more of Ben Dov's thoughts on how to go about a 'proper' reading.
4. The Symbolic Language, in which we get information about directions, colours, numbers, figures and body parts.
5. The Major Suit, which takes a close look at the majors, and of course goes into the 'Fool's Journey'.
6. The Major Cards
7. The Minor Suits, in which we are instructed in the meanings of suits and their correspondences
8. The Ace Cards
9. The Court Cards
10. The Number Cards, where the minors are looked at individually
11. Additional Spreads
and then Quick Interpretations.

So far I have read through Chapter 4, and skimmed the rest of the book (I will finish it this week, I hope) and I believe that, armed with this book and deck, a beginner could start out with the Tarot de Marseille and do quite well, learning traditional cartomantic principles and techniques, without all the Golden Dawn bumpf you encounter in a Rider Waite Smith deck. I have said before that I wish I had started with the TdM, but it didn't work out that way for me.

All the information in this book seems to me be entirely solid and acceptable to firm tarot tradition. There is nothing here that is idiosyncratic or highly personalized. Some of Ben Dov's thoughts on how a reading should be conducted are his personal opinion, and it would have been nice to see a few alternatives given, but that is a minor point. In most cases, he does do that.

I think this book and deck set is a must-have for tarot enthusiasts. I see it as my definitive (and probably only) Tarot de Marseille, and the book is certainly the best and most expansive guide to the TdM I have yet seen, written in English.

To me, the definitive collection for any tarot newbie would be this:

CBD Tarot with Tarot: The Open Reading by Yoav Ben-Dov
Yellow Box Rider Deck with Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack
Green Box Thoth Tarot with Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot by Lon Milo DuQuette

If you were to lay your foundations with these three decks and books, I have no doubts you could go on to read with anything out there.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Triumph of the will

I'm not sharing a spread today, even though it's Sunday. Instead, I'm making an announcement. I have a goal in a different area of my life that I would like to focus all my energy on. And so I am reducing my posts on this blog to once a week. It will probably be a Saturday.

Of course, even though I am only blogging once a week, my services as a tarot reader are still fully available and I will happily do tarot readings for you any day of the week! Please continue to order readings in the usual way, regardless of whether the blog has been updated.

I've drawn the 6 of Wands today, and that helps assure me that my decision is the right thing for me. The victorious warriors ride proudly, and so will I, when I return to daily blogging here having accomplished my goal.

I think I'll do a reading on this. Even though I have been featuring big spreads on Sundays, my favourite draw has always been and will remain the 3-card open reading, followed by a 3-card draw with card positions. Let's do that right now.

What are the three things I need to do, or what three areas must I cultivate, in order to be successful in achieving this goal?

There is a lot of fire here,which is exactly what I need to achieve the goal. My thoughts are confirmed. I need to focus on it, I need to move toward it with optimism and confidence, I need to see the bright side of it, and I need to settle in to a routine wherein I find the abundance within myself and my personal situation. I should take this fiery impetus and follow through on it, making the most of this time of inspiration. Strike while the iron is hot, and all that. And I also need to keep the iron hot, and keep striking it, like striking those gold coins in that 10 of Coins card. I see them repeated in the angel's halo in Ace of Wands, in the Sun, and of course in the 10 of Coins card. Now is the time, now is the hour, mine is the fire, mine is the power (to paraphrase a spell from a favourite movie of mine, 'The Craft'.) 

So! I am resolved. 

Meet you back here next Saturday. Many blessings to you. x 

Saturday 30 November 2013

Uneasy lies the head

This week is the beautiful Golden Tarot by Kat Black (US Games, 2003). I do love this deck. It is extremely well done, made up of a collage of images from medieval and Renaissance paintings. The story is that Kat Black was fashioning a deck for herself, and decided it was worth trying to get it published. It is unashamedly RWS. I saw this deck online when I was relatively new to tarot and my only tarot decks were Osho Zen and Universal Waite Smith. That a tarot could be this beautiful was a revelation to me! I thought it was so creative and delightful, and I still find it gorgeous to look at.

Today's card is the Five of Cups. It's funny I should draw this today, because I don't feel like this within myself today. This is a card of focusing only on the negative without considering the positive. I actually feel more lively today than I did yesterday, and more hopeful. Perhaps the card shows some residual feelings from yesterday's despondent mood. Or maybe I take the role of the comforter today.

Whatever happens, I finish work today at 4.00 and when I get home I'm doing a workout!

Friday 29 November 2013


Our last draw from Grail Tarot gives us another court card, the Lady of Lances, or Queen of Wands. This is Mary after the crucifixion of Jesus, and the meaning given bears little resemblance to the traditional Queen of Wands:

'Sympathy, support, refusal to condemn, restoration, companionship. The Lady of Lances offers support to the Seeker at all times on their journey. When things seem too heavy to bear, she walks beside them, offering her gentle wisdom and loving kindness to restore their spirits. She suggests alternative ways to overcome fear and doubt.'

That sounds more like the Queen of Cups to me, or at a push perhaps the Queen of Pentacles.

Anyway, the only message I received yesterday was that my new timetable is still not ready and that I will probably be on a four-week rotation rather than a two-week one like everyone else. Doesn't seem like it would be rocket science to timetable me in half a week in one work base and half a week in the other, but looks like it is.

I certainly hope nothing happens today that would cause me to need the comfort of the Lady of Lances. It's Friday and I can't be asked to deal with any trouble.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Did you hear something?

Grail Tarot, 2007
I'm glad I've drawn a court card today to show you. The courts in the Grail Tarot are: Lady (all depictions of Mary), Master (all Grand Masters from the Knights Templar), Preceptor (a teacher or mentor on an initiatory path) and  Brother (neophyte). These of course are equivalent to Queen, King, Knight and Page.

The companion book of the Grail Tarot gives a very traditional Page of Wands meaning: a message.  'An extraordinary emissary comes, strengthening and encouraging the Seeker to access their inner resources.' I wonder what sort of message I will receive today.

The image shows the Brother of Lances standing guard or keeping watch in the Templar Commanderie. Over his head, an angel hovers. He is looking upward, as if he senses something. It would appear that the messenger in this card is not the Brother of Lances himself, but the angel, a traditional bringer of messages in the Bible. (In fact, the word 'angel' itself comes from the Greek 'angelos,' which means envoy or messenger, and comes from the verb 'angello' which means to announce something or bring news. 'Angel' is the word used to translate the original Hebrew 'malek elohim' (messenger of God) or 'malek YHWH' (messenger of the Lord).

So perhaps the message I get today will be a little loftier than a simple email. You never know!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Spiritual Sat Nav

Grail Tarot, 2007
Oh, I am very happy to see this card today, the 10 of Cups (or 10 of Vessels, as it's called here) from The Grail Tarot by John Matthews. This card depicts the Seeker as Grand Master of the Order and Guardian of the Grail, having fulfilled his life's mission of achieving the Grail and then gone on to teach others about its mysteries. He has come full circle and thus the card represents wholeness, perfection, contentment. The Grail Tarot companion book says, 'We have come home after a long journey. Esteem and honours await us. We feel a sense of deep contentment and security in the knowledge of a job well done. The Seeker stands at last before the Grail.'

How can I draw a card that shows the beginning of a turning point one day (Seven of Swords) and then a card that shows the end of a journey the next, with nothing in between? Sometimes the same level of contentment associated with finishing something comes just from knowing you've turned in the right direction.

The Guardian of the Grail here is not finished with his journey. If he were, he would be dead, and even then it could be argued by some that his journey would still not be finished. But being on the path you're on now, and knowing why you're on it, can be a sort of homecoming. It can be type of finish line, in some ways. Like when you're lost, then you recognize a landmark and suddenly all the landscape that had been whirling around you while you trotted along on a treadmill in the middle stops spinning and sinks back to the ground, settling in place. You find yourself moving forward again with confidence. That's the kind of homecoming I'm thinking of with this card.

Yesterday I took a big black marker pen and wrote huge numbers in my diaries (2013 and my new 2014 one), starting at 100 on 26th Nov. I numbered each day 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, in huge writing. The point is to remind myself that time passes whether I'm on the right track or not, so it's to my advantage to stay on the right track. It's a countdown. I look forward to seeing where I will be by the time I get to Day 1. The big, bold numbers, taking up most of the page and seeping through to the other side of the page, cannot be ignored. I like clear signposts for the journey. The Guardian of the Grail is providing those to his listeners. He's also providing them to himself.

Knowing where you are and what you are working toward, that's a 10 of Cups feeling.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Band of brothers

Grail Tarot, 2007
Here is the Seven of Swords from The Grail Tarot by John Matthews. In this image, the Seeker-Knight has just escaped from a captor and meets some fellow Templars on the road. He is relieved at the prospect of being in a band of brother; being a lone warrior hasn't worked out to well for him! But of course, there is also a bit of fear there, too. After all, back in the Three of Swords, he had been brutally thrashed by a fellow Templar, so he can't be completely certain that these men can be trusted. Even if they turn out to be genuine Templars, that is no guarantee they won't do him a serious mischief!

I posted about Seven of Swords not long ago. It seems this card is stalking me a tiny bit. Am I being called to act with Seven of Swords energy, or am I being warned of it? Or both?

I have to admit this particular image, and the episode in the story that it represents, does not remind me much of any of the traditional Seven of Swords meanings. The Grail Tarot companion book says, 'Those who have faith in their own abilities, who trust their companions on the quest, will find their strength growing or returning. What seemed an impossible dream may suddenly become real and viable. Help comes from old friends and the long, weary road suddenly seems less frightening.' Hey, did you catch that phrase? Impossible dream? Didn't I just write about that yesterday?

Okay, I see how this applies to today. There is something I was thinking of starting today, which would involve starting over yet again, on a very long road where the daily rewards are few but the ultimate goal is fulfilling on many levels. This card encourages me to turn my back on past failures or mishaps and take up with familiar methods that worked in the past, and carry on with them, facing future challenges with these 'old friends'. It could also even mean enlisting the help of actual old friends.  And I realise as well that if I am to be successful, I will need to use Seven of Swords energy in all its aspects -- studying and preparing, being wary of pitfalls, being wily myself in the way I deal with the world. Yes, yes. I can see this.

Monday 25 November 2013

A heavenly cause

Grail Tarot, 2007
Well, after yesterday's post, isn't it appropriate that today's draw from The Grail Tarot: A Templar Vision (John Matthews, 2007) is Perceval, major arcanum 17, Star.

In this card, the Seeker stands beside the ethereal Perceval, who is mounted on a horse and holding aloft the Grail. The Seeker holds out his hands tentatively to receive it, while in the background the Shekinah looks on. In the golden sky, a single tiny star glows faintly.

I can't help myself, there's something about this card, and the whole Grail Tarot, that makes me hum 'The Impossible Dream', from the musical Man of La Mancha, to myself while working with it. Look at Perceval's face in this card. He does not look particularly triumphant. He looks like he is practically outside his body. He looks surreal. He looks shell-shocked. (He has a similar shell-shocked look in the Haindl Tarot, where he is depicted as the Prince of Cups). This has cost him everything, which he gave willingly. Having failed to ask the Grail questions on his first visit to the castle of the Wounded King, Perceval has traveled  far and had many strange experiences, ending up at the Grail castle again, and this time achieving the Grail, accompanied by Galahad and Bors. But, not unlike Frodo, it occurs to me, Perceval is so changed by his experiences that he is no longer suited for this world. This happens to all three of them. (Bors though, perhaps because he was always better grounded, being the only married man amongst the Grail knights, does eventually return to earthly matters and to Camelot.) I don't know what the word is for this feeling I associate with the deck. It's a sort of wistfulness. Yearning. Hope where there is no hope. Oh, let's just listen to Peter O'Toole sing it and get it out of my system (I like Peter O'Toole's version. I like the fragility of his delivery):

The Star is a card of hope, and faith, a luminescence distinct from the hazy mysteries of the moon and the fierce brightness of the sun. It is untainted by arrogance, disappointment, or doubt. It is a card of clarity inspiration, salvation and enlightenment. On the other hand, the Star could also be aspirations and standards so high that no one could ever live up to them. However, in true Star fashion, their being impossible is no reason at all to stop believing in and seeking them.

The thing is, I don't think Don Quixote ever actually believed he would achieve his quest. He seems almost certain that he will die trying, the point being to never give up. Perceval has the look of a man who also thought he would die trying, and now that the quest is achieved, nothing seems real. (Not that anything had seemed real for a very, very long time, in the strange world of the Grail quest.)

I myself am not on any particular quest today, unless you count going to the audiology department to pick up more batteries for my hearing aids as a 'heavenly cause'. (Though it may be argued that visiting an NHS hospital is not unlike 'marching into hell', but that may be a bit of an overstatement).

What does the Star card make you think of? And what does this particular card image bring to your mind?

Sunday 24 November 2013

Share a Spread Sunday: Perceval's Questions

Perceval and the Grail Procession
Sometimes it feels like our journey through life is too brutal to be borne. We feel like the pain is too much for us. We want answers. We want someone to solve the mystery. Or at the very least, we want a way to make it hurt less. This spread was born out of those feelings.

In Chretien de Troyes' Perceval: Story of the Grail, Perceval fails to attain the Grail when he refrains from asking questions about it. (Chretien never finished this poem, and so the mystery has fired the imaginations of generations.) Perceval, a simple youth raised away from the world of men, has undertaken to find a mysterious object called 'the graal', and finds himself invited into the very odd castle of the Fisher King, where in the hall, a strange procession marches past him: a young man carrying a bleeding lance, two boys carrying a candelabra, and a beautiful girl carrying a highly decorated 'graal', a flat serving dish. Having been upbraided by other knights for asking too many questions, Perceval keeps silent about these strange sights. The next morning, he is told by a 'loathely lady' that if he had only asked the right questions, the Fisher King would have been healed. He should have asked why the lance bleeds, and whom the grail serves. Chretien's poem ends here, unfinished. 

Saturday 23 November 2013

Grail Tarot: A Templar Vision

This week we will examine a deck that might annoy purists -- tarot purists in this case (coincidentally, Chloe at Inner Whispers is looking at an unconventional Lenormand). It's the Grail Tarot: A Templar Vision by John Matthews. Combining Grail and Knights Templar legend, it requires commitment to learn to use. I suppose you could read it based solely on pictures straight out of the box, but then you would miss the point of the deck entirely, and that would be a shame, as quite a bit of thought has gone into it, and using the complete system properly gives considerable insight into Grail lore, Templar history, and a light introduction to the tenets of the Gnostic heresies. (I have read some people say that this deck is a 'very Christian' deck. This could only be said by someone who knows nothing about orthodox Christianity, because the Grail legend and the Gnostic thought behind it are rejected by the orthodox church as complete heresies -- ie, not Christian. So take heart, those of you who say you find 'Christian things' distasteful -- you won't find much Christianity in the Grail Tarot. Lots of Bible imagery, but that in no way makes something Christian. Just look at Mr Crowley's work, if you need examples.)

Friday 22 November 2013

Dude, what's going on with your behind?

Today's the last day for the CBD Tarot, and I've drawn The Sun. Just looking at the details on this card. I've never been much of a fan of TdM art, anyway, but the Sun card always puzzles me. Why the twins? I've read so many ideas about why there are two figures on the card. And look at the art. They both have skin that looks like it's made of folded sheets of something flat, like origami figures, and the one on the left looks like he has a tail. Both are wearing blue loin cloths that don't actually cover their bits, which aren't there. The brickwork on that wall doesn't match up at all. Then between their little legs, the blue from the ground goes up between the knees of the left figure, notching into the wall, and the wall between the right figure's knees is flesh-colour. They both wear odd red collars and their faces look like they've pulled all-nighters at the local dive. There are strange multi-coloured drop shapes in the sky. The best thing about the card is the sun itself. I like that he has so many rays, and that he takes up so much space on the card.

Now, I know many TdM readers do something called 'colour pooling' and that the colours have significance. I know that the droplet thingies are sometimes seen as looking like Hebrew alphabet markings. I know that the twins are variously Castor and Pollux, Romulus and Remus, or the Children of Pleasure from the 5th House of the zodiac. But I still don't think this is a very pretty card. Except for the Sun, I like him. :)

Oh well, anyway. Drawing the Sun today gives me hope that it will be a pleasant day for me -- and that will be a nice change from yesterday. I hope these hives go away. I broke out in hives yesterday morning, and they are still here with a vengeance.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday 21 November 2013

I see...trouble on the way

If you draw the 10 of Swords, is your first thought, 'Oh no!'?  Mine is. So when I drew it this morning from CBD Tarot, I quickly turned over the next card to find out more. 5 of Coins? You must be joking. Next, please -- Magician.

So...an interesting day ahead. There will be an exhausting and complex situation, probably conflict, caused by a disruption. There will be something discovered today which throws a spanner in the works. Someone is going to have to do some 'magic' to fix it. Hopefully, if it's me who has to do it, there will be others on hand to help out.

I like the way the Magician is looking toward the two troublemaker cards, and pointing the wand in their direction, too, in the attitude of a spear chucker! Zap! Take that! He seems to say. And his expression shows no fear whatever, but rather, more like amusement. From this I take courage that the 10 of Swords and 5 of Coins may be a tempest in a teapot or petty complaint from someone, that I will have to sort out for them. It will be a big deal to them and they will try to make it a big deal to me, but really it's nothing. This I can handle.

ETA: Well, the work day is done and things played out pretty much as predicted -- instead of it being a member of staff, though, it was a customer! I had an absolutely vile customer complaint via phone, which also pivoted around the number 5 (can't go into details of course), and though I managed the situation well, it did shake me up enough that after the call I went upstairs and to my surprise very briefly burst into tears. So there it was.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Taking charge and damn good at it, too

Hey, how about that! I shuffled thoroughly this morning and still drew the next card in the CBD Tarot, 10 of Cups. Those of us with RWS habits will immediate start to picture rainbows and the domestic bliss of the nuclear family. But, nope. the CBD Tarot LWB surprises with this: 'Leadership. A person with special qualities receives appreciation and high status. Assuming responsibility for others. Maintaining a superior position.'

First off, I can see this idea reflected in the arrangement of cups on the cards. There is one gigantic cup at the top, and nine little cups all in obedient lines beneath. The cup is sideways, both to make sure it covers all the rows, and also sort of, I think, to signify a notion of service to those being led. The best leaders both lead and serve. They take care of their charges. If it comes to that, I suppose the best leaders (like in the military) are willing to lay down their life for their charges. On a more mundane level, it could represent being willing to take the fall, ie, take the blame or the ultimate responsibility for the outcome of the team's project. That's a very good leader.

The Golden Dawn title for 10 of Cups is 'Lord of Perfected Success.' You can see a comparison of the meanings of the 10 of Cups card at Super Tarot  (I think it is so awesome of Paul Hughes-Barlow to assemble this website for us. It must have taken ages!).

Yesterday, I found out I'm to be the 'apprentice specialist' for the division. Well, it would have been nice to be told months ago--they started on the 4th of November and no one mentioned this to me! But I am taking the situation in hand because I rule. Ha ha. So I think that's what this card may point to.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Happy happy joy joy

CBD Tarot, 2010
I'm very pleased to see 9 of Cups from CBD Tarot today, as I'm off to the workplace that I don't much enjoy, and the LWB says, 'a group or organization working harmoniously with everyone finding the proper place.' Yay! This bodes well for a smooth-running work day.

Nine of Cups is known as 'Lord of Material Happiness' in the Golden Dawn tradition. The RWS interpretation is usually something along the lines of fulfilled wishes, happiness, a feeling of well-being, a satisfactory conclusion or outcome.

However, there is a sense with the number nine that as an ending is being reached, the tipping point to a new cycle is also coming close. So in some readings, depending on surrounding cards, the interpretation may be more along the lines of a coming end to a happy period, rather than predicting a happy period.

Monday 18 November 2013

Do or do not: Seven of Swords

CBD Tarot, Ben-Dov 2010
Are you kidding me? Seven of Swords again! Today's draw from the CBD Tarot gives me the same card I drew on Saturday. The LWB says the card means 'Concentrating on a clear goal and doing what it takes to reach it.' This not my favourite activity any day of the week. I'm much better at procrastination and excuse-making! Doh. Is this card going to become a stalker?

Just what does the Seven of Swords mean? One fantastic thing about pips-only decks is that they make you consider many ways of interpreting card meaning.

Eteilla's key word for 7 of Swords is 'esperance' -- it means expectancy, hope, or conviction.

The Golden Dawn meaning is the more familiar to most tarotists -- taking risks, being partly successful/partly unsuccessful, deceit, betrayal, theft, or just being cunning. We see some of these ideas in the Rider Waite Smith image.

Some people have a seemingly different take on the 7 of Swords and see studying and learning, such as in the Druidcraft Tarot or the Gaian Tarot.

Numerologically, seven signifies challenges or tests, using skills and courage, mastery, projection, putting forth an effort, getting things done, a push; proving oneself, taking chances, perhaps even confrontations. Maybe uncertainty, mystery, or misgivings. It is a number of reflection and assessment.

In the guidebook to the Pathfinders Tarot, David Fontana suggests that 7 is most frequently occurring in connection with profundities -- 7 heavens, 7 pillars of wisdom, 7 chakras, 7 days in a week, 7 ruling planets, 7 notes on the tonic scale, 7 cardinal virtues, 7 deadly sins, 7 wonders of the world, etc. He says 7 is concerned with the imagination, dreams, and openness to the hidden realities behind appearances.

If a 7 is a challenge and the suit of swords is thought, then Seven of Swords could be 'challenging thoughts'. Perhaps this is why the Golden Dawn named this card 'Lord of Unstable Effort'. Things could go either way. The card, then, calls for a thorough examination of both the situation and one's motives for taking various actions. Of course, pondering this could lead to Pamela Coleman Smith's Rider Waite figure tiptoeing away with the apparently stolen swords (what was his motive? did it seem right in his eyes?) OR the scholar at his desk in Druidcraft (perhaps he's making a list of pros and cons, or writing a treatise from both points of view). Either way, we see an artist's conception of examining motives.

Maybe the Seven of Swords could represent a crisis point -- a point at which we must decide whether we are going to do something, or just leave it. Time to make up your mind. Press on, or turn back. I can think of several areas in my life where I could apply this. The thing is, the tarot can only point in a direction. It's up to you to do or not do -- and in that way, maybe every reading is like a Seven of Swords.

Sunday 17 November 2013

WINNER of the Vampire Tarot!!

Congratulations to


Winner of the Vampire Tarot
by Robert Place!

I wrote all your names on slips of paper and had my husband stir his hand around in the bowl and draw one. So congratulations to Louise!

Thank you to everyone else who liked my Facebook page and kindly left comments. I hope you continue to visit me here--and you never know when there'll be another give away. :)

Have a blessed full moon. 

Share a spread Sunday: The Anxiety Roundabout

I created this spread back when I was taking driving lessons. I cannot overstate the level of driving anxiety that I developed while taking driving lessons. One of my biggest fears was roundabouts -- a foreign concept and a terror. It became a metaphor for me of anxiety itself. And so this spread was born. The card positions are based on the steps my driving teacher taught me (she taught me to pass my test the first time, but she also created a lifelong fear of driving, bless her):

This is a page straight of my spread notebook :)

Card One goes in the centre and is the hub or source of the anxiety. If you are unsure why you are anxious, you could draw a card for this one to see what tarot reveals about the source of your anxiety. If you are aware of the source, you might choose to pre-select a card that represents the anxiety as you understand it. 

For the remaining cards, shuffle and draw as usual and lay out in the above arrangement. If you want to draw a circle on a sheet of paper, or create one out of a piece of string, a string of beads or some small crystals, that would be helpful in visualizing the layout.

1. Recognizing the roundabout - This is the hub of the anxiety.
2. Approaching the roundabout - These are factors creating the anxiety.
3. Hesitation (a thing you're not supposed to do at the roundabout!) - Your fears; the thing that keeps you paralyzed.
4. Moving off - The 'truth': the 'reality' of the situation (as opposed to your fears or illusions about it)
5. MSM ('Mirror-signal-manouevre--the scariest part of the roundabout, where you have to get yourself into the position to leave the roundabout) - The ACTION that will take you from fear to acceptance of reality
6. Leaving the roundabout - How you can overcome the fear for good

If you try this spread out, please let me know how it worked for you! :) 

If you would like a reading from me using the Anxiety Roundabout Spread, please click on the Order a Reading tab at the top of this page, select the appropriate number of cards in the drop-down menu, and write 'Anxiety Roundabout' along with your subject in the topic line. I will have your reading to you within 48 hours. 

Here's some feedback I got for my most recent reading: 

'A big thank you to Carla Tate who did a Lenormand reading for me and I can say that I was absolutely blown away by it. It really resonates with me, which means that it's 100% spot on (my opinion). I'm a psychic but can never read for myself and it's rare I find a person able to read for me. Carla's read brought a lot of things in line and perspective. Thanks!' 

Saturday 16 November 2013

The Devil made me avoid it (?)

This week's featured tarot is the beautiful CBD Tarot DeMarseille, by Dr Yoav Ben-Dov, a 'faithful reproduction of the traditional Tarot cards based on the standard deck printed by Nicholas Conver, 1760, restored and adapted by Yoav Ben-Dov, 2010.' I bought it from Ben-Dov's website: www.cbdtarot.com. I've decided to do 3-card draws at least some of the days, because the pips-only TdM can be a bit hard to relate to in single-card draws (though I actually quite like doing single-card draws with it).

The Devil - 7 of Swords - Queen of Coins
CBD Tarot (2010)
Today's draw: There will be a struggle between temptation and the physical or material plane. This could be anything from a temptation to overeat to a strong impulse to buy something I don't really need. Well, I face this kind of temptation every day! However, I can't say that I do much  resisting against them. The 7 of Swords shows great determination in achieving a goal, so the message for the day must be that I should stand firm when these temptations present themselves. I think it's most likely pointing to skipping my yoga practice. The Devil doesn't like discipline. I will take this as a warning that some sort of strong impulse to misbehave is coming my way today.

Friday 15 November 2013

Giveaway - The Vampire Tarot

Uh oh!! Our final draw from the Robert Place Vampire Tarot is The Tower (cue crashing music from 'Young Frankenstein').

The companion book by Robert Place references the scene from the novel Dracula which for me is one of the creepiest in the book: the scene where Jonathan Harker looks out the window of his high tower in the castle and sees Dracula crawling headfirst down the castle wall like a lizard. It is the moment when Harker has the rude realization that Dracula is not a human being, and his beliefs about reality completely shattered. It is one heck of a Tower moment in young Harker's life.

I have ended up with an extra Vampire Tarot deck. It is the deck only, no box or companion book, but it is a complete deck. If you would like to be entered into a draw to receive this Vampire Tarot deck, please like my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/readingsbyrowan and come back here leaving a comment saying you've done so. If you have already liked my page, THANK YOU. Could you share my page or perhaps your favourite post so far on your own timeline, and come back here and comment that you've done so?

I will draw at random during the full moon on Sunday 17th November.

Good luck!

Thursday 14 November 2013

Splash a little holy water on your jaded soul

Today's card from the Vampire Tarot by Robert Place is the Knight of Cups, or Knight of Holy Water, in this instance. The figure on the card is Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, an Irish author and writer of the novel Carmilla, published in 1872. It was this book that inspired Bram Stoker to write about the supernatural. Carmilla is considered the most important vampire story after Dracula. (An interesting side note about Carmilla...people tend to think lesbian vampires are a product of the shlocky early 70s horror flicks, but Carmilla, one of the earliest literary vampires, is a lesbian, so this notion has a long lineage.)

According to Robert Place's brief notes in the companion book, Le Fanu's style 'introduces psychological insights that were innovative at the time,' and so the card is said to represent someone who has insight into the unconscious and people's hidden motives. In other words, a sensitive type.It must have been pretty tough to come up with a character from Dracula or vampire legend that would fill the bill of Knight of Cups. I guess this link, tenuous though it may be, will serve.

I myself will always associate Knight of Cups with a particular character from the film American Beauty, the boy called Ricky, who spends his time mooning about on the sidelines of life, filming plastic shopping bags floating about on the breeze, and proclaiming life to be so beautiful that sometimes he feels like he 'can't take it'. I've provided a link many times to the clip in question, but I find it so perfect for the Knight of Cups that I can't resist showing it again:

Maybe I've drawn this card today to remind me to try not to be such a cynical butt hole. ha ha ha ha Seriously, though. Sometimes maybe seeing fathomless beauty in a bit of trash blowing around might make a nice change. (And with the level of litter picking our council provides, may as well try to get something positive out of all those blowy crisp packets, eh?)

Wednesday 13 November 2013

An apple a day: listening to the Hierophant

This is Van Helsing in his study, his books littering the desk top, contemplating the golden crucifix with which he not only defends himself and the others from the vampire Lucy, but also fends off Count Dracula himself. In Robert Place's Vampire Tarot, he represents the Hierophant.

The Hierophant is a much-maligned fellow. So many people dislike the card because of its associations with the Pope, organized religion, and authority in general. I must admit I don't understand this at all. I feel no rebellion toward either organized religion or authority, though I subscribe to no organized religion and often mistrust the information provided by so-called authorities. I still don't mind the Hierophant card when it comes up in a reading.

In a reading, the Hierophant may point toward social conventions or institutions, such as marriage, the teacher-student relationship, or doctor-patient relationship. It may point toward people who have more knowledge than ourselves in particular areas, people such as surgeons, lawyers, philosophers, mathematicians, computer programmers, and yes, even theologians and clergy. The Hierophant might even be interpreted to mean conventional wisdom, which we find in all sorts of sayings, like 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away,' or 'A stitch in time saves nine,' lessons learned by experience and passed on through tradition.  Van Helsing of course would be the Hierophant in the Vampire Tarot, and the novel Dracula, because he is the expert of vampire lore and has the most knowledge about vampirism. All the characters in the novel turn to his expertise and authority, and he does not abuse their trust. He represents the best of the Hierophant.

Today I take advice from tradition and take a break from my newly adopted daily ashtanga yoga practice. The tradition is to practice 6 days a week. So it's time for a break. I wonder what other areas of my life today will see me turning to tradition or authority, or taking advice from a source that probably knows more or 'better' than I do about a subject.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Step away from my hoard. Grr. Arr.

The 4 of Garlic Flowers (also known as 4 of Coins or Pentacles) greets us today from Robert Place's Vampire Tarot. This card obviously carries the usual RWS meaning of protecting one's material possessions, or being protective of one's position in life. It is a place of fear, a place of not wanting to lose what you have, even if it means placing limitations on the possibility of future growth.

It is from this hoard of Count Dracula's that he funds his move to England, where, yes, he does meet the beautiful Mina, but also meets his death. So maybe in that instance, protecting the hoard instead of spending it would have been a better idea. The 4 of Coins is not always a negative card. Sometimes it really is a good idea to sit and protect what you've got, where you are. Self-preservation has its advantages -- like keeping oneself preserved! It's striking the proper balance of self-preservation while still allowing room for new experiences and growth that's the challenge.

It's Tuesday and I'm off to the not-so-preferred work place, so basic survival seems to be the order of the day, for sure.

Monday 11 November 2013

Lusty Ligeia

Looks like I got my wish for a court card to show you from the Vampire Tarot by Robert Place (St Martins Press 2009). This is the Knave of Stakes, or Page of Swords, and the character is Ligeia, from the Edgar Allan Poe story. 'Ligeia' was always one of my favourite Poe stories. It was first published in 1838, and is really quite sick! Poe was a bit obsessed with the notion of a beautiful young woman dying and awakening in the tomb, having been buried alive, or in some way rising from the dead. You can read the whole story here, and I do highly recommend it. But if you just want the low-down,  Shmoop is a wonderfully funny tutorial site which has provided this summary. Basically, the narrator of the story was once in a relationship with the beautiful and mysterious Ligeia; she dies, he marries again (opposite in every way to Ligeia), the new one dies, and he is sitting at her deathbed high on opium when she rises in her shroud and the body has been transformed into Ligeia! (Cue spooky music).

For some reason, Place's companion book calls 'Ligeia' a poem, but it most assuredly is a short story, and one which I taught back in the olden days, when I was a teacher of American literature.

 In the short story, Ligeia is portrayed as a statuesque beauty, with glowing black eyes, wild black hair, pale skin, brilliant teeth, a very sharp intelligence and willful spirit. Her dying words are of overpowering death. Apparently, she finds a way - by reanimating the dead body of her lover's blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife. In the Knave of Stakes card, we see Ligeia moving toward us, unwinding Rowena's burial shroud as she advances. Her skin is so pale it is lavendar, her eyes rimmed in red, her lips and her sharp pointy fingernails are brilliant red. Her face looks a bit dewy and sweet compared to my image of the lusty Ligeia. Place says, 'This card represents someone who is beautiful, passionate, and possessing a strong will.'

Now, I like to compare court cards to fictional characters, and I usually associate Page of Swords with Lisa Simpson. Thinking about it, I suppose Ligeia does have some things in common with Lisa. They both are very bright. They both think outside the box. They both latch very passionately on to their causes, are tenacious in that respect. Just Lisa doesn't tend to come back from the dead to reanimate another woman's body, but then she's only 8.

I wonder in what capacity I will need to call upon my inner Ligeia. Will I need to play devil's advocate? Will I need to find the most expedient means to my own ends, even if they go against the norm, or even what the average person would consider within the realm of possibility? I hope not. It's Monday, for goodness' sake. I'm not ready for that kind of aggro.

(By the way, if you don't know how to pronounce the name, it is 'Lye - JEE - ah.')

Sunday 10 November 2013

Share a Spread Sunday: 'What Should I Do Next?'

I don't know where this spread came from but it's a nice one. I may have made it up myself, because I tend to write an attribution when I copy a spread from somewhere. If you recognize it, let me know! The layout is in the shape of an arrow pointing upward. It's designed to help you find your way--what you should do next.


1. A snapshot of where you are now
2. Your feelings about your future
3. The direction you need to go in
4. Obstacles you might encounter
5. Who you should accept advice from
6. Who you should not accept advice from
7-9. A general assessment of what you should do

Not my best snapshot, but here's a summary of a reading using the mini Rider. 

The person in this spread feels pretty in control of his life at the moment (Emperor) and wants to hang on to that (4 of Coins). Perhaps, though, this person ought to focus less on control and material things, and more on happiness with life and its simple pleasures, particularly of family life (10 of Cups). Of course, he may be faced with temptations of various sorts -- in this case, I'd be inclined to think it's the temptation to work, to keep putting his priorities in a skewed place (Devil). He should take advice from his more impetuous side, his more fun-loving friends (King of Wands), and take less notice of the expectations of external forces, society, work colleagues, etc (World). In general, he should combat his need to be logical about his approach to life, and go more with his feelings (5 of Wands - King of Swords - Queen of Cups). 

If you would like a 'What Should I Do Next' reading, please click on the 'Order a Reading' button above and select the 7-9 card option. Just put 'What should I do next?' in the topic line and you will receive your reading within 48 hours. Hope to hear from you!