Monday, March 29, 2010

Reading for Strangers

There is a moment when the owner of a Tarot deck has to decide to be more than a student and become a reader. In the prospect of reading for a stranger there is a certain amount of fear and anxiety. Going public with the Tarot is a defining moment. Many use Tarot privately and personally and some who venture to layout the cards for family and friends. These are all relatively safe ways in which to explore the cards, their meanings and reading them. Yet there is a divide to be crossed to read for a stranger for the first time.

It is my guess that along with the issues of fear and confidence there may be an barrier of opportunity. Some locations do not lend themselves to an open acceptance of the Tarot. Small towns, conservative communities and even some family members may be obstacles for some to be able to find opportunities to do it for the first time. In a great many areas there is an openness to non-traditional spiritual exploration and even an excitement to search out the mysteries of life in a myriad of ways. These areas are encouraging and lend themselves to sharing about and using the Tarot. Yet for some they live in an area that is a closed, restricted and hold to limited social conventions. For the new and ambitious reader there is a compounded sense that along with the normal first time jitters there is the consideration of being a Tarot ambassador in a potentially hostile environment.

There are many obstacles that block and deter us on our pursuit to develop. Crossing the threshold of Tarot for myself and into Tarot for others is one of many testing grounds. The battle to find yourself with a stranger and a tarot spread between you is worthy and full of rewards. Without the attempt there will always be lingering questions about if it is possible for you to read for a stranger. This question may linger perpetually over your understanding and confidence.

So what are the rewards that are the fruit of reading for others? First and primarily is the sense of self-understanding. What is your depth of knowledge about the meanings of the cards and the ways they communicate to you? Do you have the skill to verbalize the symbolic language of the cards to another who has limited or zero understanding of Tarot? The very attempt at in your reading skill will help you gain a perspective on where you are in your understanding of a subject. When you are out there for the first time you may need to remind yourself that it is a reward. Remember that important rule of Tarot reading, insight is always a gift.

A second reward is practice. It may seem odd to discuss practice as a reward but for many it is a sweet opportunity. Being isolated and feeling alone, there is a claustrophobic feel knowing that there are only so many ways of using the cards alone and by yourself. Engaging the challenge of reading the cards for strangers is insightful, fun and confidence building. I am staying away from the issue of reading professionally but simply focusing on the act of reading. When you read for family and friends you know there stories and can connect the cards with greater ease than with a stranger you know nothing about and simply have to rely on the cards. The very chance to discuss Tarot with another live person is amazing but greater than that the chance to use your skills is a validation.

Finally there is a truth in life and practice that we all must give as well as receive. As a tarot reader, I believe that the very truth of the universe is waiting to be revealed in a spread of cards. To receive that blessing of revelation demands that I in someway bless others. By reading for others we are able to complete that cycle and renews the balance. One of the best ways to break through a dry spell or a learning plateau is found in pouring yourself into a spread to give someone else a clearer picture of their life and place in the world. Giving back to the universe in this way you reopen yourself up to the cycle of recieving again. In this idea there are more ways to give a blessing than performing readings but for me it is a ritual part of my practice read for others to prime the pump for my own personal insights.

If you have not yet taken the leap into reading for strangers but are excited by the possibility take heart there are opportunities available! In my next post I will be discussing how I learned learned to read for strangers in a safe and rewarding environment and how you can as well.

Be well,


Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Look and Direction

We had a great class this week (Wednesday, 3/24) and it was great to see many new folks with interest in the Tarot. It is my hope that you felt welcome and left the class more than you knew when who came into the class. I have decided that I am going to adapt the blog a bit and write it more as a conversation from me to you rather than just continuing to post the notes. I would like to see this become more an extension of the class than simple a place to download and print the notes. Please feel free to e-mail me at by clicking on the Contact tab. I am also playing around with Twitter and if you would like to follow me there then my username is thefifthtrump as well. NO Promises! I don't know if Twitter is going to take but it will be a chance to see.

I will be posting the notes on reversals first and then in a couple of days posting the notes on Dignities. The posts get quite long because of adding the material into the post. I have also been considering that addition of exercise to augment the conversation that he have in class and on the topics that we cover. Since we will be having a break from the class for a couple of weeks I might do in the next post for you to try at home and on your own for practice.

Thanks for coming and adding to the class.


When you begin to work with spreads there is something that you will have to figure out for yourself. That issue is what to do with cards that appear in ways other than in upright positions. This is most commonly seen in Reversed cards or cards that appear upside down from their normal orientation.

Reversals have been and will continue to be an interesting topic for many. It is my purpose to expose you to a variety of ways in which you can understand the meaning of a reversed card. I hope that with this information and that you will be able to find your own way that will work. It will take some doing and personal experimentation to figure out what will work.

The use of reversals is not universal and there are many who do not use reversals at all, there are some that don't use them until they have a firm understanding of all the upright meanings, and there are some that will use reversals with some decks but not others.

I want to give you some avenues of understanding that will give you a chance to find your way to understand them and their special meanings.

First things First

If you are going to look into using Reversed cards then there is a first step that you have to take. You will need to work through the entire deck and make certain that you have a clear understanding of the cards in their upright orientation.

It is my belief that no card is inheriently good or inhereintly bad. They are images that convey ideas. These ideas have a wide spectrum on understanding and they can be favorable in some areas and unfavorable in others. Now I will not say that some cards are not more troubling than others as to sugar-coat the meaning of the cards like Death, Tower, Ten of Swords or the Devil. Each card has a place where it means something different.  If you are able to see the whole spectrum of the card's meaning then you are well on your way to understanding the way that the reversed cards may show up in a reading.

What Are Our Options?

There are many ways to look at reversed cards. I want to give you a broad view of the options that will help you to see how you can use them.

1. Blocked or Resisted

The energy or movement in this card's meaning maybe blocked, repressed, denied, rejected or resisted. This could be a correct and normal expression of fear, depending on the circumstances. This is a very common way to look at a reversed card and one that is very good to consider.

2. Projected

Projection is a psychological term used to mean the unconscious attribution of one's own characteristics (including emotions, attitudes, and desires) to someone or something else. Simultaneously, the originator denies or rejects these qualities in themselves. This would look in a reversed card that the seeker is confronting or rejecting one set of characteristics that they possess in others.

3. Delayed, Difficult, Unavailable

This may seem similar to "Blocked or Resisted" but it is different. Blocked hints that there is an action that needs to be taken to get "unblocked." Here it shows some hesitation, uncertainty, or unavailability. The card may illustrate what is going to take longer than expected, be harder than expected to accomplish or not to be expected at all. It may be that in a relationship reading this shows what a partner is not willing to do.

4. Inner, Unconscious, Private

The upright meanings can illustrate what is active, dynamic and externally expressed in a situation. Here the reversed card may illustrate what is happening behind the scenes. It may show a true emotional state that is being hidden or suppressed. It may show actions that need to be taken in a seekers inner life rather than an outer expression.

5. New or Dark Moon (and other round deck variations)

With rectangular cards it is very easy to see when cards are upright or reversed. In cards that are round you have a greater chance to engage the cards in a variety of degrees of reversed nature. One idea that can work well for both is to look at the cards orientation as part of the lunar cycle. The reversed card can signify the dark or new moon phase and show instinctual, hidden and suppressed energies.

6. Breaking through, Overturning, Refusing, Changing directions

This could show where the seeker is overturning, getting out from under, breaking free of or turning away from the conditions pictured. It can also show what is ending or passing away of a situation, a loosening or a change in direction.

7. No or not the upright meaning; Lacking

The most common understanding of the reversals is the opposite meaning of the upright. You could simply put a "no" or "not" in front of the upright meaning. This is an easy way to begin using reversals but it is not necessarily the best way. It is good to see the card in contrast and know that in the course of a reading there is a chance that you will see that a reversed card can illustrate that Seeker or a person discussed in the reading is not acting in a way that they should. For the Seeker it is good see if they are not acting in a way that is needed.  If so then the reading can discuss how to get them back on course. If they are interacting with someone else who is not acting the way that they should then the Seeker has a chance to acknowledge this.  They can begin to compensate and act in new ways.
8. Excessive, Over- or Undercompensating

The reversal may intensify or lessen the meaning of the card. This may take the meaning to extremes of overindulgence, immaturity, condescending attitudes, overdeveloped, obsessive attention to, or even senility. The reversed card can act like a child in the middle of a restaurant or grocery store that sits and throws a fit to just get some extra attention. Often when I see a card that is expressing this meaning it will stick out like a sore thumb and will at first just not fit into the flow or a reading. When I then consider how this may show what the Seeker is over doing or excessive about then it can come into view.

Now on the other hand, this is can also show where the Seeker is too laid back. Where they are choosing to ignore the issue, not act when they should and not give attention to an issue that is painful, demanding or difficult. This may seem like it is the opposite of what was just discussed but the truth is that obsessing about an issue comes from the same place as when a Seeker chooses to ignore a situation. There is a wisdom that takes place when you choose and are able to walk the middle path of just the right effort and attention.

9. Misused or Misdirected

This reversal indicates that something is not right in the timing, that there may be a faulty start or that the efforts in this area are not coming together very well. This is a warning to look at how all the elements are interacting and to be sure that there aren't any weak links, loose cannons, or flat tires.

10. "Re" words: Retried, Retracted, Reviewed, Reconsidered

This may seem a bit like a catchall category but it isn't. The prefix "Re-" is dead useful and can denote backwards motion, withdrawal, opposition, negation or to do again. This is especially important if this comes up to represent a past action or event. The Seeker may do well to look at the event or the situation to examine to ensure that they have a full understanding of what happened, what the consequences were, what it cost them. This is the card of evaluating the past and so often the tide of a reading is to the future and what can be in potential but it is often important to look back and carefully reflect on what was to see how it shapes what will be.

11. Rectification: Disease into Remedy

Got a reversed card and you don't like it, Change it! This is a great chance to look at what is not going right and needs attention. This may be a potentially immediate action that needs to take place. I have been using this method from the moment that Kris taught it too me. I love the idea of a reversed card illustrating what needs rectification. Rectification is the alchemical process of refining and purifying to the essence through distillation and by adjusting the "proof" of liquid spirits. In electrical terms, to rectify is to convert alternating to direct currents.

By Rectification we change what harms us or a situation then we move to remedy. A remedy is what will heal us. Remedy is that which will take action against what is causing harm. I like to think of this as the idea that a reversal can show us the "poison and the antidote."

12. Unconventional, Shamanic, Magical, Humorous

Now we come to the this way of looking and examining the reversed cards in a spread. Now if you have worked with Tarot for a while there are a couple of things that you will observe and come to know that are a bit harder to explain. One thing is that Tarot decks, if you work with them long enough, will develop what can be referred to as a voice. They will develop their own personality. There is a lot we don't know about how Tarot works and how it can seem that with time a deck of pictured cards can seemingly take on a personality. You will find that the Tarot can play jokes, tricks and generally mess with you head. So at times you will see a reversed card that is just going to throw you for a loop and it might be that there is something about that card that you should not look at in a conventional way. When do you do this? I don't know if i can teach it but it is something that your own intuitive sense will just need to look for and act.

Another thing about the Tarot is that there are a lot of potential uses for the cards. I have found that if one card comes up reversed in a spread then it needs to get special attention. I may be that this is a card that holds special depth or significance and not necessarily in a reversed meaning sort of way. This card may demand that the Seeker meditate on the meaning for a while. It may be the something that the Seeker needs to affirm in themselves. I often have used affirmations in my readings. If I get a sense that a Seeker needs to build these concepts or ideas into their daily life I will write an affirmation for them to repeat to themselves.

Finally, one area where I don't have a lot of experience but know that some have had great success at is using the cards in magical acts. I am using the term in the widest sense possible. While I am a straightforward Tarot reader, I also know that there is a lot more going on in this world than what I see with my own physical eyes. If a card comes up reversed it may be worth a few minutes of consideration of who this may imply or speak to the spiritual in our lives.

13. Court Cards and Reversals

Working with Court Cards and Reversals needs a bit of specialized instruction. While all of the previous ideas will work with the Court Cards here are a couple of other ideas that you might want to keep in mind as you do readings.

First as Court cards can represent specific people the reversal may give us an additional set of ideas on how to identify who they are in the Seekers life. If the card is reversed, it may indicate one who is not necessarily bearing ill intent but is bumping heads, in disagreement with or opposed to the Seeker. This may be the wife or husband who has different ideas in how to raise the kids or spend the family money. It may be the boss who is pursuing different goals than the Seeker. It can just show the conflict in the dynamic with the Seeker.

Second the Court card reversed can be referring to a person of the opposite gender than the one depicted on the card but acting the same manner as the person on the card. Example would be a nurturing Father showing up as a reversed Queen of Pentacles or a commanding officer which is a woman showing up as the King of Swords reversed.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spread Theory Session One

Teaching Tarot Spreads

Defining Spreads


Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking at how to use spreads and who card appear in those layouts to give us more depth of meaning and understanding to us as readers. In the weeks to come our goal is to better understand what is a spread, what makes a spread a good spread, how do we use reversals in a spread and examine in detail the classic Celtic Cross spread.
Tonight we will focus on ground work of what defines a spread and who to examine spreads as well as develop our own unique spreads.

Spreads . . . a beginning

Tarot is a great tool that can be used in a wide variety of ways. One thing that has evolved with the use of Tarot cards is the use of spreads or layouts.

Tarot is a flexible tool that does not require the use of a spread, but for many it is an important part of the ritual to a Tarot reading. I personally both use and don't use spreads. So while spreads may not be essential to a Tarot reading I think that it is understood that they can be very helpful. Tonight we will begin our study of what I call "Spread Theory." Spread Theory is the understanding and application of the parts and use of spreads or layouts to facilitate a deeper, clearer, or organized use of Tarot cards to gain information. Spreads deserve a lot more thought than we give them at times.

First I would like to begin by trying to find a definition for Tarot Spreads.

*How you would define what a Tarot Spread is?

*What is required to make something a Tarot Spread?
Jim Wells in a Tarot Connection Podcast gave a great set of definitions for Spreads.

A Tarot Spread is:

• A diagramed plan to how we will lay out the Tarot cards
• A plan of our intent, predetermined meanings, questions (When we use a spread it will shape the way that the reading will go.)
• A map of a Consultation
• Contract between the Seeker and the Reader
• Show what we will look at in the reading
• Sets the goal of the reading
• Allows both the Reader and the Seeker to understand the purpose of the consultation
• Sets the intention with the Universe
• Muddled intentions, questions lead to unclear readings
• Refines the question being asked
• A mandala of the Seeker and their life
• An information filter
• A visual storyboard of life
• James Wanless, "Spread is a hall of mirrors reflecting different views, perspectives or a cross-section of ourselves.
• Cynthia Giles, "An information environment" (almost the idea of a landscape of meaning that we enter into so that we may examine an issue, question or idea.)
• Mary K. Greer from "21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card"
• A combination of cards answering a question
• A series of one-card readings answering sub-questions

What is a Good Spread?

While we believe that all men are created equal, not all spreads are created equal. Now that we have defined what a Tarot spread is we will look at what makes a good spread.

How do we identify what is a good spread?

1. Spreads are maps. A map must get you to your destination. The destination of a spread is an answer or clearer understanding. When you look at a spread you will want to see if the positions will get you to that answer.

2. Layouts should be clear and organized. The spread will work best if it makes sense to both the Reader and the Seeker.

* Does the Spread progress in an easy to understand way? Are the positions logical? Is there a flow of connecting ideas?

*Are the cards grouped in a way that makes sense” Do the cards located by each other relate to each other? Is there meaningful geometry?

3. Is the spread grounded in a worldview, climate, process or outlook that is relevant to the seeker?

*Will the spread use terms, ideas or concepts that the Seeker is unfamiliar? The spread must make sense to the Seeker

4. As few position as possible

*Positions for the sake of positions are not helpful

*Keeping the number of cards in a layout to as few as possible will help keep the message/answer clearer

*More cards can confuse as much as they can help

5. Adaptable? -- Is the spread versatile enough to be used in a variety of questions or is it limited to one type of reading?

6. Perspective -- Does the spread give the Seeker a variety of information from different points of views?

What do you think is the most important first step in a Tarot reading?

The Role of the Question

One thing that must not be overlooked in talking about using spread or even talking about readings is a carefully phrased question.

1. The Question rules everything!

A. When we begin to shuffle the cards, choose a spread there is one thing that must dominate the whole process and that is the question. Choosing, phrasing, rephrasing (if necessary), and clearly stating the question that the Seeker has is essential to a productive and effective Tarot reading.

B. Questions can be tricky but here are a few guidelines

*Open-ended Questions (What, When, Where, How, Who, and Why)

*Best (What, How)

* A word about "When" questions . . .

i. if you are going to make predictions then you will want to work out a clear system of timing.

ii. If you are not going to predict then "When" questions may revolve around a sequence of actions or choices and not the calendar. (Example: When will I get a boyfriend? 7 of Cups When you open up to more options and see what is available to you. When you get your head out of the clouds looking for mister perfect who is just a fantasy man.)

*Where and Who will always be a bit tricky

*Why questions are fine unless they become "Why-ning"

-Why does everyone hate me? vs Why is this job offer good for me?

-Why don't I have a lover? vs What can I do to attract love?

*Clear topics and specific question vs. Vague, unsure or general questions

*What actions should I take at my job to succeed vs. What do I need to know about my job?

C. Your Question will shape your choice of spread

*With thousands (if not infinite) number of spreads to choose, knowing what you are asking will help you decide which is the right spread to find your answer.

*A ten-card relationship spread might not be the best choice for a career reading

2. "Series of One-Card readings answering sub-questions"

A. Any question can get an answer from a one card
*One-card readings are good, useful and legitimate
*They are to the point and focused. They give precise answers.

B. By choosing a larger spread you gain a greater breathe of meaning
*More cards equals more information
*Cards will begin to work together, oppose each other
*A broader perspective

C. Choosing a spread with positional meanings
*You choose which area of the question to focus on
*You work with a collection of one-card readings
-Each position has its own question
-Each position will have its own voice.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who are you People? Court Cards of the Tarot

Who are you People? Court Cards of the Tarot

Session Three

In the last two sessions, we began to see how the parts of the Tarot Deck work. In the first lesson, we examined the way in which we can see the Major Trumps and the Archetypes communicate to us with image and symbol. Then in the second lesson, we looked at the Suit cards. We learned how to combine the number and the suit to create a grid where each new card has a unique position and meaning. In this final lesson we will now look at how the people in Tarot show themselves and how we can begin to see them and understand how they fit into the world of Tarot.

Chances are that the Court Cards can be the most difficult set of cards to understand in the Tarot Deck. The reason that they can be a struggle is because they are open to many different understandings and approaches to the Court Cards. There are a couple of things that I want you to keep in mind as we begin to study them today.

1. You can do this. The Court Cards fit in the system we have been learning.

2. The Court Cards are your tools. You can choose how to use them.

3. There are a few simple steps to use to get started.

4. Observation and use are how you will get an understanding of them best.

Introduction to the Court Cards

In each deck of Tarot cards, there are the Major Trumps and the Suit Cards. The Suits of the Tarot include the numbered cards Aces through the Tens but they also hold the Court Cards or the Face Cards. There are four members of the Suits Court and this is different from the standard deck of playing cards, which only has three Court Cards. The evolution of Tarot Cards has allowed different deck creators to change and adapt the Court Cards to meet their own system and so you will find that they vary in naming from deck to deck.

Common Names:

• Rider-Waite-Smith: Page, Knight, Queen, King

• Crowley-Harris Thoth: Princess, Prince, Queen, Knight

• Elemental/Vision Quest: Daughter, Son, Mother, Father

• Voyager: Child, Man, Woman, Sage

• Shapeshifter: Seeker, Warrior, God, Goddess

• World Spirit: Seer, Seeker, Sibyl, Sage

• Lo Scarabeo: Knave, Knight, Queen, King

For this class I am sticking with the most common Rider-Waite-Smith names. Each of these decks have significant reasons for renaming the Court and reordering it they way that they do. It may be that with some study that one of these systems may standout as something that you identify with more clearly.


We will begin by looking at what is distinctive about each of the Ranks. (Page, Knight, Queen, King) We will look at how each of them is distinctive and how they are all different from each other. Just as we discussed last time with the numbers, the ranks should all have things in common across the suits.

Looking at your sixteen Court Cards I want you to look at them in the groups according to the Rank. Look at all the Pages together, all the Knights together, all the Queens together and all the Kings together. I want you to write down two things that each of the Ranks have in common with each other.

One of the most common uses for the Court Cards in a reading is to show how the individuals in a situation are relating to each other. If the Court Cards are people then they will help us to see how people are the same and how they are different. What are the categories you could group under the Rank of Pages, Knights, Queens or Kings?

Aspects of the Ranks -- As People or Characteristics


Gender: Child or Unmarried Woman

Age: Youth -- Child

Relationship to Querent: Younger Than . . .

Developmental step: Learning

Barbara Moore: Novices and Eager

Element: Earth

Kabbalah: Malkuth

Astrological: Seasons


Gender: Youth or Unmarried Man

Age: Teen or Young Adult

Relationship: Same as . . . Equals

Developmental Step: Doing/Practicing

Barbara Moore: Extremists and Experimenting

Element: Fire

Kabbalah: Tiphareth

Astrology: Mutable Signs


Gender: Mature Woman

Age: Mature and Responsive

Relationship: Above but Supportive

Developmental: Feeling/Teaching

Barbara Moore: Producing

Element: Water

Kabbalah: Binah

Astrology: Cardinal Signs


Gender: Mature Men

Age: Mature and Expressive (of the Suit)

Relationship: Above and Authority

Developmental: Ruling/Controlling

Barbara Moore: Leading

Element: Air

Kabbalah: Chokma

Astrology: Fixed Signs

There are three main ways in which to use the Court Cards.

1. Court Cards can represent People. This can be the Querent or others in the situation

2. Court Cards can illustrate a relationship or how people in a reading are connected.

*This can be literal

*This can also be what is perceived in the relationship

3. Court Cards can also show a person is a stage of progression

Court Cards -- The Break Down

The Suit of Wands -- The Fire Suit -- Representing creativity, action, movement, enthusiasm, adventure, risk-taking, and confidence. A Masculine principle, it is the outer expression of ego and drive.

Page of Wands

Element: Earth of Fire

Astrological: Season of Spring

Myers Briggs: INTP

Joan Bunning: Be Enthusiastic, Courageous

Linda Gail Waters: The Initiator

WebWeaver: Wow!

-- A free spirit, Enthusiastic, impatient

Knight of Wands

Element: Fire of Fire

Astrological: Mutable Fire (Sagittarius)

Myers Briggs: ENTP

Joan Bunning: Charming, Daring, Fool Hardy, Hot Tempered

Linda Gail Waters: The Fulfiller, Inventor

WebWeaver: Errand

-- Taking a Journey, Passionate, Headstrong Action

Queen of Wands

Element: Water of Fire

Astrological: Cardinal Fire (Aries)

Myers Briggs: INTJ

Joan Bunning: Attractive, Whole-hearted, Cheerful

Linda Gail Waters: The Seer

WebWeaver: Optimist

--Charismatic, Creative, Assertive, She knows what she wants

King of Wands

Element: Air of Water

Astrological: Fixed Fire (Leo)

Myers Briggs: ENTJ

Joan Bunning: Creative, Bold, Forceful,

Linda Gail Waters: The Field Marshall

WebWeaver: Entrepreneur

--Leadership, Visionary, The Idea Man, Presence, Enterprise

The Suit of Cups -- The Water Suit -- Emotions, spirituality, inner states, feeling, intuitive awareness, The Feminine principle of flowing energy and passive responses.

Page of Cups

Element: Earth of Water

Astrological: Season of Summer

Myers Briggs: INFP

Joan Bunning: Be Emotional, Loving, Be Intuitive

Linda Gail Waters: The Dreamer

WebWeaver: Sensitivity

--Affectionate, Expressive, Touch, Intuitive Messages

Knight of Cups

Element: Fire of Water

Astrological: Mutable Water (Pisces)

Myers Briggs: ENFP

Joan Bunning: Romantic, Imaginative, Introverted, Over-emotional

Linda Gail Waters: The Carefree Spirit

WebWeaver: Invitation

--Idealist, Fanciful, The Dreamy Romantic

Queen of Cups

Element: Water of Water

Astrological: Cardinal Water (Cancer)

Myers Briggs: INFJ

Joan Bunning: Deep Emotions, Loving, Intuitive

Linda Gail Waters: The Free Spirit

WebWeaver: Empathy

-- Damsel, Deep-feeler, Internalizes, Spiritual

King of Cups

Element: Air of Water

Astrological: Fixed Water (Scorpio)

Myers Briggs: ENFJ

Joan Bunning: Wise, Calm, Diplomatic, Tolerant

Linda Gail Waters: The Lover

WebWeaver: Liberal

--Expansive, Controlling, Artist, Priest, Emotional Maturity

The Suit of Swords -- The Air Suit -- Intellect, thought, reason, communication, truth, logic, reason, a Masculine principle of mental clarity and the constant state of mental change, volatile.

Page of Swords

Element: Earth of Air

Astrological: Season of Autumn

Myers Briggs: ISTP

Joan Bunning: Use your mind, Be Just, Be Truthful

Linda Gail Waters: The Professional

WebWeaver: Quickness

--New ideas, Quick and Lively mind, Over thinker

Knight of Swords

Element: Fire of Air

Astrological: Mutable Air (Gemini)

Myers Briggs: ESTP

Joan Bunning: Direct, Blunt, Logical, Opinionated

Linda Gail Waters: The Communicator

WebWeaver: Forceful

--Valiant, Quick witted, Sarcastic, Hell-bent Charger

Queen of Swords

Element: Water of Air

Astrological: Cardinal Air (Libra)

Myers Briggs: ISTJ

Joan Bunning: Honest, Forthright, Witty, Experienced,

Linda Gail Waters: The Provider

WebWeaver: Candor

--Structured, clear-eyed, demanding, Widow, Ice Queen, Amazon

King of Swords

Element: Air of Air

Astrological: Fixed Air (Aquarius)

Myers Briggs: ESTJ

Joan Bunning: Intellectual, Articulate, Just

Linda Gail Waters: The Administrator

WebWeaver: Analytical

--Philosopher, Editor, Judge, Truth tempered with Mercy

Suit of Pentacles -- The Earth Suit -- Practicality, security, material concerns, work, stuff, money, a Feminine principle of a pragmatic understanding of them as a mutual singular, prosperity, wealth, need and charity.

Page of Pentacles

Element: Earth of Earth

Astrological: Season of Winter

Myers Briggs: ISFP

Joan Bunning: Be Practical, Prosperous

Linda Gail Waters: The Listener

WebWeaver: Diligent

--Studious, Fascinated with the new, Messenger

Knight of Pentacles

Element: Fire of Earth

Astrological: Mutable Earth (Virgo)

Myers Briggs: ESFP

Joan Bunning: Unwavering, Cautious, Stubborn, Pessimistic

Linda Gail Waters: The Promoter

WebWeaver: Reliable

--The Boy Scout "Be Prepared" Faithful, Hesitant

Queen of Pentacles

Element: Water of Earth

Astrological: Cardinal Earth (Capricorn)

Myers Briggs: ISFJ

Joan Bunning: Down-to-Earth, Big Hearted, Resourceful

Linda Gail Waters: The Builder

WebWeaver: Nurturing

--Warm, Generous, Hospitality, Crafty, Domestic Goddess

King of Pentacles

Element: Air of Earth

Astrological: Fixed Earth (Taurus)

Myers Briggs: ESTJ

Joan Bunning: Enterprising, Adept, Reliable, Steady

Linda Gail Waters: The Conservator

WebWeaver: Resourceful

--Captain of Industry, Successful, Reaches his Goals

The Four Nodes Spread

At the end of the session, we all read for ourselves using the Four Nodes Spread. This is a spread where we were able to use all the information that we learned from each of the sessions in the class. You begin the spread you take your deck and you separate the Court Cards into a first pile, then the numbered pip cards (Twos through the Tens) into a second pile. The Major Trumps are all separated into a third pile and the left over Aces are in the final and fourth pile.

You begin to shuffle the pile separately and contemplate the question, "What am I experiencing?"

Position One -- Court Card -- This card is the "who" and it tells you who you are acting like. The card is read and you describe the person in the card.

Position Two -- Pip Card -- This card is the "what" and it tells you the situation that the "who" is in. The card is read and you describe the situation in the card by using verbs and action words.

Position Three -- Major Trump -- This card is the "why" and it tells you why the "who" needs the "what". The card is read and look at the archetypal lesson of the card.

Position Four -- Ace -- This card is the "Where” This card tells you the elemental realm of consciousness that all of this is taking place. "Where" the "who" is experiencing the "what."

So with this we end the first set of classes. I think we will be moving to looking at Spread theory, Ill-Dignified cards, Reversals and Elemental Dignities for our next couple of lessons. If you have any specific questions or concerns that you would like to see addressed in the class please let me know so that I can be sure to include those in the lecture and I would also be happy to clarify any of the information that has been covered so far.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Numerology and its Fulfillment in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the class this week I discussed how I used the images on the forty pip cards of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck to create my own personal numerology and keywords for the pip cards. It was requested that I post it as a blog entry. I am happy to do this with one reservation. My reservation is that I want to show how my observation of the deck's images has shaped what I have come to see the cards meanings. I have done this with other decks with mixed results. It is not my intention to provide a list of keyword meanings that someone will blindly accept as the meaning for these cards without the personal observation of their deck.

To explain this structure I am going to go through the numbers one by one. As I discuss the number's meaning I will list how I see the suit expresses that theme. It may be best if you read this while looking at the images from the Suit cards in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck or one that is very symbolically close to it.

As a matter of full disclosure, I have been strongly influenced by Mary K. Greer's book, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card. In the book she discussed the idea that not only could the Major Trumps be seen as a Journey that the Fool takes but also that the Suits can each be seen as a Journey as well that follows an established pattern. It was my interest in the narrative approach to the Tarot that was engaged with this idea. I have envisioned each of the Suits as a journey and I have used the capitalized "Journey" to refer to the sacred pilgrimage of life. This is often referred to as "The Great Work." This Journey is an idea that we encounter the events of our lives not as mere observers or victims in the course of events but rather that we are making our way through in hopes to find our true, higher, more authentic self at the end.

In working out these keywords there was also an attempt to develop my own set of keywords but not with the effort to exclude but to rather tie in what I have come to know are the Esoteric Titles given to the cards in the Liber T a hermetic book used by the Golden Dawn in their understanding of the cards as symbols. For those who are familiar with these Titles may recognize them.

Aces -- Ones

The primal force of the Aces is that embodying energy of the suit and its element. The Aces are the energy at its core and its foundational sense. A burst of elemental energy. Aces can express themselves in a few ways. They are beginnings, gifts, seeds, and as catalysts for the journey of life. They are the spark of inspiration, the curiosity to discover, the pilgrims unsettled spirit, the businessman's good idea, a lover's intuition or a farmers change of season.

Ace of Wands -- Inspiration -- The Ace of Wands is the fiery start that lights the way as a torch, the warmth of heart to empower the person to hope for what might yet come. The fire of the soul that creates and moves out of a sense of greater hope and enlightenment. I like the idea of Inspiration as it is related to the idea of breath. Breath as a the burning of oxygen for the fuel of the body is not that far off from what happens in the chemical process of flames. The fire that burns in our bellies and the burning of oxygen seems it connect us with the idea that we are living flames given flesh. The Spark. The Flame.

Ace of Cups -- Emotion -- The Ace of Cups is the blessing of emotions and feelings The overflowing of our souls into our lives. The heart's longings and voice. How we experience the complex world beyond the nuts and bolts. Emotions are the messy excess of our beings. As the cup overflows with the abundance so often does our own emotional cup overflow with the release of emotions. The Drop. The Wave.

Ace of Swords -- Understanding -- The Ace of Swords is the thoughts and words we use to place the world we live in order. The enlightenment that comes from a new discovery. There is a sense of revelation and the concept of the new idea. Intellect and the Air are both cutting and loaded objects. The intellect carries thoughts, ideas, hopes and understandings as Air carries clouds, storms, rain and snow. The edge of the Blade. The Wind.

Ace of Pentacles -- Growth -- The Ace of Pentacles is about finding where to produce, where there is a new enterprise or expansion of what has been planted. The Ace of Pentacles is where we find grounding and renewal. The Ace of Pentacles shows growth but all growth must come from being grounded. Grounding oneself in the solid, firm and practical there is a potential to allow the base energy of earth flow through the body and into the work of our lives. The Rock. The Sprout.

Twos -- Duality

The look of twos just shout duality of the Western mind. The modern western mind dictates that all of life must or can be placed in a category. It is always "this" or "that". Duality is an idea that is steeped in my personal sense of understanding the world. Many pairs show the division that exists in the world. In or Out, Light or Dark, Right or Wrong, East or West, Up or Down, Color or Black and White, Male or Female, Teacher or Student, Man or Woman, Dine in or To Go, Paper or Plastic, Cash or Check, OU or Texas. The line is different for everyone and many distinctions are not easily made but these are dualistic ideas as I see them in the cards. Looking at the Waite-Smith deck we see the twos show us that lesson of who we divide opposing forces.

Two of Wands -- And -- Twos can be parallel. These are boundaries, guidelines, meaning two things that exist separate and equal. Oil and Water, Light and Darkness. They each have their own substance and essence, neither blended or mixed. The Duality of dominion and tolerance. Where we accept what is in play and allows for the other.

Two of Cups -- Both -- Twos can be mixed. They can be joined, blended, or combined. With unity of two things there is a third new substance created. The element of Water helps us here to see how it is the great dissolver. Emotions create grey issues out of what might have been black and white.

Two of Swords -- Or -- Twos can be crossed. These are contradictions, disputes, rivals, crossroads, a literal clash of swords. This could be competing thoughts, ideas, egos, jealousy, spend or save. This is the concept of mutually exclusive items or stalemates until resolution.

Two of Pentacles -- Alternate -- Twos can be juggled. When twos must mutually remain and not unified they must take turns. Mutually held, divided, shared. Children in divided custody, responsibilities to teh sacred and the secular, budgets that require the management of funds. The idea of the Aces as a solo, a single but here the two is multiple Aces.

Threes -- Adding

Threes speak of addition and outcome. The adding to what already is and how that change affects the dynamic of what has been established. The elemental property can give us insight to the realm in which we see that increase but I also see how that addition looks.

Three of Wands -- Compensation -- The increase is seen on the card as one which as joined the two. Two on one side and one on the other, the wands in the picture more than any other shows the imbalance of the three. But as the man reaches past one wand to the second on his right there is a sense that he changes to make the inclusion. There is a wisdom, creativity and leadership to understand and act to allow the addition.

Three of Cups -- Join -- The addition of joy: the new child, new friend or ally. The more the merrier, this is the thriving of emotions in growth. In depth and the natural growth of life is in reproduction. Religious, business, and families -- infertility is nigh unto death. A wholeness is found in creation and peace can be restored through a moderator.

Three of Swords -- Disrupts -- The increase is a betrayal and the excluded is added. The mistress, the corporate spy or falsehood integrated as a belief. The addition brings chaos, sickness or sorrow. This can also be the unwelcome addition of the third-wheel, pushy mother-in-laws, a tumor or drug addiction or even just bad news. Truth becomes real.

Three of Pentacles -- Aid -- The forces join together to prosper to a higher level. We are better together, greater than the sum of the parts, 'a cord of three strands is not easily broken.' The student finds his master and begins his mentoring in the balance of skills to become proficient. Small Victories.

Fours -- Stopping

It was the Fours that got me set on this round of study. As I looked at them, the Emperor illustrated one aspect of Fours while the Suit cards another. The moment when we stop, pause or cease to move forward there is a force that is acting. Inertia dictates that things in motion remain in motion until something acts upon them. What is acting in these cards?

Four of Wands -- Celebration -- We stop to celebrate, give rewards. To pause in our progress to enjoy what we have accomplished. To build on the foundation that has brought our success and a moment to enjoy. "All work and no play . . . ." Expressing the joy in the Journey.

Four of Cups -- Apathy -- How sad is it when we stop, simply give up because we no longer care? The opposite of love is not hate but apathy. The Journey, the goal or the road has lost its appeal. There is a lack of desire, depression or regret that high cost of the Journey will require us to pay. There is a feeling that disillusionment is a cage in which pilgrims can become ensnared.

Four of Swords -- Recover -- Often we must pause to recover, rest, heal or regain. There comes a time when limits pushed require a time of recuperation, restocking and preparations are taken again. A day off, a vacation, a good night's sleep, a healthy meal, vitamins, vaccinations, sabbatical, or spiritual retreat. Yet the road still calls.

Four of Pentacles -- Controlling -- The Journey stops when the ability to control is at a max. A person's ability and management skills may limit his drive. Rightly or negatively limits show control and hold up continuation. Limits of control are different for everyone, it may be three children, defending the land you possess, being the leader of a group, coloring in the lines, fences, speed limits, maxed out credit cards.

Fives -- Mazes

On every Journey there are moments when we face darkness, setbacks, struggles, or even being lost. A labyrinth of life experience. Fives are about a crisis we are facing. The fierce struggle to survive is found in the Fives. I read a book when I was overseas about the nature of a Pilgrimage. In the book the author discussed the idea that with each trip we take there can be moments of frustration, delay and unexpected difficulty. It taught that these difficulties should not be shun or grieved over but to be embraced as part of the Journey. I have seen that in any vacation or meaningful travel that it has been helpful for me to remember that these moments shape the trip and if I can embrace them as part of the adventure then I am able to allow them to work in my life the purpose for which they have come.

(Also please keep in mind that I consider that the Five hold a unique position as they more than any other number hold special lessons that I need to learn.)

Five of Wands -- Fight! -- The Maze of Passion. When we fight, our passions can get the best of us. In practice we can begin to fight. Stress, feeling overwhelmed by teh challenge. When we are in the moment and a challenge arises we must be careful not to allow the fire of ego and pride take over but use control to press to victory.

Five of Cups -- Grief -- The Darkness of Emotions. The struggle with grief. Life always shorts us. We will always lack something. A grief of loss is within us and we can get lost in regret. There are moments when grief and depression is truly a maze in which we all can get lost and even lose ourselves beyond simply losing our way. Often we need help recognizing what we still have.

Five of Swords -- Defeat -- The Struggle of the Mind. In our own minds we can seem the master of all knowledge. The world out where we live though will show us how we become small, weak, or lacking. There are many ways in which defeat can come: arrogance, pride, lack of being prepared. How do we get past the defeat and get back on the road?

Sixes -- Apex

Sixes are a peak in the Journey and are the start of the slide to the completed cycle. Here is also a sense of completed small victories. The top of the mountain with a view of the action and the landscape from which we have come. It is a short-term situation but is also a moment to apply yourself to the lessons learned or to receive the recognition deserved.

Six of Wands -- Victory -- The battle won! The war may or may not be over but for now there is a victory. A chance to receive a pat on the back or pat someone on the back. The moment to see that you can move forward in confidence and honor.

Six of Cups -- Memory -- Embrace the lessons of the past, there is a blessing in the experience and more so when it is shared. There is a positive exchange with ourselves or with others when wisdom is shared or life is mutually considered. A struggle completed with your good nature still thriving and a positive moment not to lose track of your own ethics. The Journey and struggle has not damaged our spirits.

Six of Swords -- Moving On -- The rough waters churned by struggle of thought and stress. There is a relief in conquering and moving on to new ventures, new homes, new vistas. Not a completely positive outcome but not negative sense of quitting (8 of Cups), just turning to something new with lessons learned and experience gained.

Six of Pentacles -- Generosity -- In the moments of life when we get out of the Maze we must share the wisdom, the profit, and even a bit of ourselves. There must be an answer to the responsibility. This is the responsibility that we owe when we gain the blessing. this is the free-will offering, the shout of praise and giving of alms to the poor in order to show how we are thankful. As cheesy as it sounds, pay it forward. We have a karmic debt to share the learning we gain with others. We gain so that we can give.

Sevens -- Challenges

As we begin to ready ourselves for the success we fight, yearn for, wait for and imagine there are some challenges we face. Each is one we face on our own and all alone. The challenges test our resolve and our discipline. How we see ourselves through these challenges add to our character for good or ill.

Seven of Wands -- Courage --In our lives we come upon times when we must fight off all challenges on our own. We can only trust our own instincts and our own training. Here we face overwhelming odds or fears. Courage is something we muster from within and in a moment’s notice. The challenge is to stand firm when the emotions and the weaker baser self calls us to run. Times when we must summon the courage to count the cost of what we are willing to lose for the right and good cause. This may be to swim up the stream against popular opinion or to fight the good fight alone knowing the ship is sinking or the plane is going to crash somewhere.

Seven of Cups -- Reality -- Moments when the fantasy world lure away from the real choices we face. Don't allow false hopes keep you from reality. The postmodern life offers many different diversions and we must focus on what is before us. We may enjoy a moment of escapism in a film, book or television but we must remember it is what we do that matters. We must take care not to lose ourselves in the glittering of fool's gold.

Seven of Swords -- Integrity -- In each battle on the Journey there will be a moment when we can take what we have not earned. We will be tempted to take the short cut, sleep late and abandon our responsibility. We must fight the impulse, be true, faithful and honest. In the Journey of our lives we need to remember what we are risking. We journey as a part of the battle for our spirits and our souls.

Seven of Pentacles. -- Patience -- The challenge of waiting can be agony. The moment of harvest requires an ability to simply allow time for growth. The whole period of waiting and work can be lost in an instant of an uncontrolled hand not willing to wait. The maturity to know that things come in times, seasons and cycles comes from the struggle with the appetite, greed, and the secret of being content in the wait can only be learned but never really taught.

Eights -- Reactions

If the Sevens show the challenges then the Eights show the response to them. Each of the Suits response as the expression of their element. The way we react to challenges will show how we act in pressure situations.

Eight of Wands -- Action -- The fiery suit demands a swift response. The quickness of the fire suit is seen in the spread of an erupting blaze from just a simple spark. The lack of hesitation and surety are signals of Wands. The challenge is responded to in a burst of emotion, the swing of the fist, the unforgiving tongue, or a burst of energy.

Eight of Cups -- Retreat -- When the emotional battle comes to a head there is a natural option of unhooking, giving up and surrender. The moment when we choose to abandon the success we have gained in relationship or endeavor for the easy out. The moment when our reaction is to heal our emotions in separation. This card is opposed to the 6 of Swords because in the 6 of Swords there is a next step after an ending. This is the step away as bringing about an ending.

Eight of Pentacles -- Work -- The reaction of the earthly is on of prudently getting back to work. The reaction we sometimes need to redouble our efforts and study, research and simply toil away at a task. The card can hint of training and the proactive move to find a mentor or the help we need to succeed.

Nines -- Rewards

The Nines were the biggest struggle to bring together as a group. I began to reflect on the Hermit as a Nine and saw how each of these cards show individuals. People are who they are as individuals. These are all at a moment when they are reaping a reward they earned for themselves on the Journey. This is the position that their reactions to the Journey have brought them too. How are people as they near the end of their Journeys?

Nine of Wands -- Strong -- This is a card of a person left on guard. One who has been injured in battle and has the strength to stand at his defensive post knowing that there may be more fighting left. This is a card that shows the power to carry on and even intensify the energy to accomplish a victory in the battle. There may be a recovery when the battle is won but now the power of self to stand at your post.

Nine of Cups -- Fat and Happy -- The Wish card. This card shows a man who is happy with what he has gotten. One rich man when asked how much was enough his reply was "one more." How sad it is to not find joy and contentment in what you have. The prosperity of the Cups have developed into a state of bodily abundance and emotional fullness. A man or woman quick with a joke, a laugh and another full cup to hand you.

Nine of Swords -- Anguish -- A card of sorrow and emotional pain. There may be a brave smiling face in the light of day but alone at night there is depression, fear and tears. A mind and a spirit bothered by sleepless nights, doubts, grief, regrets, and secrets. A person alone with one's thoughts is truly alone. The Journey has brought and overwhelming reward of fears, sorrows and guilt may haunt a mind that made poor choices. We do not know of the anguish is based in the reality of the situation or if the product of the mind.

Nine of Pentacles -- Stability -- A woman stands comfortable in her garden. There is security gained from foresight, planning, hard work and right timing. There is a sense of well earned pride and satisfaction from what has become of her work.

Tens -- Endings

All things that have a beginning must have an end. It is the very nature of our existence. The Tens in the Suits truly grasp the finality and the outcome of a situation.

10 of Wands -- The Frodo Ending -- The Journey has cause a profound change and the result will always be a burden or oppression that we must bear as we move onward. "You can never go home." We may find a measure of relief and peace but we are not what we were before we started. The price has been a high and lasting one.

10 of Cups -- Riding off in to the Sunset -- The happy couple has found true love and the reward will be happy children and a peaceful, abundant home. The prize of the Journey has been emotional fulfillment in the fight for home and community.

10 of Swords -- Romeo and Juliet Ending -- A total loss, while the Wands allows for a hope to move on, the end of the Swords is utter ruin. All is lost and there may never be any recovery. When the couple commit mutual suicide the hope of love is gone. Tragedy is always a potential ending for all Journeys. The world goes on but it is at a severe loss and cost.

10 of Pentacles -- Happily Ever After -- The fortunes have smiled and the end grants material success. The check comes in the mail, the inheritance gets through probate, the sell of stock nets huge profits. A happy ending almost in a sense that all is well with the world. Enjoying the prosperity of well being.

I hope that this will be helpful for you to look at and begin to develop your own set or system of keywords and deeper understanding of the Tarot. This is a evolving process and there is a chance for all of us to develop and grown in the area of understanding of card meanings. I do not think that they are necessarily static or universal.

Mapping out the Tarot Minor Pip Cards

Life Numbers, Birth Cards and Year Cards

We started out the lesson this week with the interesting exercise where we all discovered our numerological Life Number. This is done through a mathematical equations where you use the Month, Day, Year of your birth. For an example I will use my information to show you the equation.

My birthday is April 10, 1971. That is 4-10-1971. You start by adding those three numbers together. 4+10+1971=1985. Once you have that four-digit number you then add all four digits together. 1+9+8+5= 23. You then take those two numbers and again add the digits together until you find a single digit. 2+3=5. So my Life Number is 5.

This process is called numerological reduction. This is taking any set of number and reducing it down to a single digit. Now there are many who will then look at this number and correlate it to a Tarot card of the Major Arcana. Again looking at my first reduction equation 4+10+1971= 23 we see that the number 23 is not a number among the Major Trumps. If the first reduction does result in a number that is 1 to 21 then many will associate the corresponding Trump to be your Birth Card. So if you Life Number and your Birth Card may be different numbers. (The Tarot School has a Birth Card calculator on their website and is loaded with support literature on the practice as well. Mary K. Greer in her book Tarot for Yourself also covers this information as well.

One think that we didn't really cover that much in class was the idea of a Year Card. This is where you find out where you are in the numerological cycle. You take your birth month, birth date, and add it to the current year. So for me it looks like this. 4+10+2010=2024 2+0+2+4=8 So my Year Number is 8 and my Year Card would be Strength or Justice depending on how you order the deck. (See, last week I said order matters and this is a case where it does for me.)

Surveying the Landscape

Last week we looked at the Major Arcana or Trumps. We looked at them in a hands on practice. By looking at them as cards and asking our intuition to give us insight into what they mean to us as symbol. The Major Arcana are universal archetypes. An archetype is a person, persona, experience or challenge that is common to all people in all places at all times. When we use the Tarot we look at the way one set of images of these Archetypes as seen through the worldview of the Italian Renaissance. I believe that the Major Trumps are essential and distinctive to the system of Tarot.

Tarot began as a trick taking card game like bridge, spades or rook. The majority of the cards in the Tarot deck are what are referred to as the Minor Arcana or the Suit Cards. The Suit cards are 56 cards that work alongside the Major Trumps. They are most definitely historically related to the common playing card deck though historians debate what the relationship came to be and which came first.

The Suit Cards, often called Pip Cards, are organized in four Suits with ten numbered cards and four court Cards. What may be the most common arrangement for the suits are the Ace through the 10, followed by Page, Knight Queen and King. There are significant systems that may name and/or order the court cards in a different manner. For now we will be setting the Court Cards aside for nights lesson and visit them with more detail and clarity in next week’s class.

The four suits tend to be named Wands (Rods, Batons, Clubs) Cups (Chalices, Bowls, Hearts, Shells), Swords (Knifes, Blades, Spades) and Disks (Pentacles, Coins, Diamonds, Spheres).

Labeling the Landscape

When we start with Tarot it is often easier and many teachers teach Tarot by piggy-backing it on a established system of understanding of th Tarot. The Hermitic Order of the Golden Dawn were a group of magician in Europe, mostly England, that saw who the Tarot and the Suit cards 4 X 14 structure along with the 22 Trumps as a potential teaching and divination tool to their personal practice and worldview. Two members of the Golden Dawn, A. E. Waite and Aleister Crowley both created Tarot Decks. These two decks, the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot and Crowley Thoth Tarot, were each ground breaking decks that shaped much of Tarot in the 20th century.

For decades many have encountered these two representations of Tarot as the one and only way to do Tarot. These decks are influential because of their depth of symbolism, study, insight and supporting literature (books, teachers) that empowered others to embrace the one system. It is a perfectly good system that has stood the test of time, actually lasted much longer than the organization. They used the Tarot as a teaching tool for their system. It is effective and many Tarotists have used their system with little or no understanding of the greater worldview that the Golden Dawn had. In a very pragmatic way the Golden Dawn have done a great service to the Tarot and all who use it because they showed us all that Tarot structure is a flexible and meaningful.

As history as proven that the Tarot can accurately express the pattern of the world for the Golden Dawn I believe that it is a tool that we can use to map out the world and the journey of our life within the pattern of the world view we each hold. Tarot purists may cringe and become violently opposed to my idea here but I welcome the debate. It is the answer to the Question "Is their only one true and correct Tarot?" I say that with the success of so many who use it in different ways, obtaining different results, and with different associations that the answer to that question is clearly no. If then the Tarot is open to greater and more expansive understanding then there is a lot of work that needs to be done and important put smaller questions that need to be asked.

The Suit cards of the Tarot are the DNA of the Tarot. In many ways it is what gives it life and structure. Every person in the entire word is a unique individual and that is because the variation of four acids that pair up in long strings of pairs. These pairs are our genes and is the biological makeup of who we are. Like with the human body the Suit are Four Elements that come together and give depth and individuality to any Tarot reading or exercise.

The two things that we will look at in the most detail in this lesson are how the Suits and the Numbers come together to create a system of forty different meanings for the a Aces through the Tens of the Four Suits.

The Latitude and the Longitude of the Suit cards.

I will start by asking you to consider that forty cards of the Suits as a grid. Let's think of it as four rows with ten columns.

Think of the four rows as the four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles). Think of the ten columns as the numbers of the suits (Ace through 10). If you have room you may want to lay out all the pip cards of the Suits to get a good look at all of them in that grid pattern.

Each of the Suits of the Tarot represent a common thread that you should be able to see when you look through the ten cards. I will be providing you with Elemental associations for the Suits. Please remember that this is just an example. This is simply one way to look at the Suits.

Wands as Fire. Fire is creativity, action, movement, enthusiasm, adventure, risk-taking, and confidence. A masculine principle of the outer expression of ego and drive.

Cups as Water. Water is emotions, spirituality, inner states of being, feelings, intuitive awareness, flowing energy and the feminine principle of passive response and energy.

Swords as Air. Air is intellect, thought, reason, justice, logic, truth, ethics and mental clarity. Air is in a stat of constant change and volatile.

Pentacles as Earth. Earth is practicality, secure, mental concerns. Earth rules work, stuff (belongings and money), Relationships (the practical understanding of them) prosperity, wealth, need and charity.

Look through the rows of the suits and see if you can see in those card these representations of the suits. Does this understanding of the suits make sense with your deck?

Now we will look at the Number columns. I will now give you some keywords for the numbers. Remember again that these are just a place to start and that you may agree or disagree with these meanings for the numbers.

Ones (Aces)-- Unity, Solitary, Beginnings, Spark

Twos -- Duality, Balance, Union, Partnerships

Threes -- Creation, Abundance, Multiplication, Fertility

Fours -- Structure, Order, Foundations, Leadership

Fives -- Change, Conflict, Unstable Equilibrium

Sixes -- Bring into Balance, Stable Equilibrium, Short-Term Successes

Sevens -- Thoughts, Consciousness, Full Perfection

Eights -- Expansion, Power, Sacrifice

Nines -- Integration, Solitude, Beginning of the End

Tens -- Completion, Perfection, Finished, Cycle Renews

Now looking down the columns of numbers can you see how the four suit numbers each express the meaning of the number? Are the four suits in a way four ways of seeing the number?

Constructing Your Map

Now that you have seen how this idea of how the Suits and the Numbers can come together as systems of intersections to give each of the card a place in a system it is time to have fun and discover which system will work for you.

I have taken this idea of the grid with empty boxes and played with creating my own unique system of meanings for the Tarot. I challenge you to draw out or print out a four by ten grid with empty boxes and see how your understanding of the system fills in the boxes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Session One: Finding Your Way into Tarot

Here is my outline that I create for the class on January 13, 2009. 


I want to thank you all for coming and I look forward to a great time of exploration and discovery. It is our hope that is the first of many classes where we can get together and learn about Tarot together. I think it is safe to say that everyone in this room is on a road of learning and growing understanding of the Tarot. It is a subject and an object that continually rewards those who invest time in understanding its depth and meaning.

I wanted to start with an introductory session. I also wanted to start with a chance to be active and experiential with the cards. I want to be looking at decks, cards and images and sharing together. It is my hope that no matter where you are in your journey in understanding the Tarot that you are able to learn more about yourself, your deck, and how you communicate together. There are many, many, many books, websites, podcasts, audio books, newsletters filled with card meanings. I want to start by doing a couple of exercises that do not include these hints at card meanings. A good deck will speak for itself.

Tonight we will be only using the 22 cards of the Major Trumps or Arcana. Take your deck and separate these cards from the rest. If you need help figuring out which cards those are then just ask.

Tarot is in many ways similar to a regular deck of playing cards.  The greatest, most important difference is the addition of the Trumps.  The Trumps, Major Arcana, are twenty-two cards that act as a seperate suit in the deck.  The twenty-two card of the Major Arcana can be used on their own for a reading or reflective work.

First things I want you to do is order the deck.

How do we order the deck? This exercise may seem simple enough but there is a lot to it when we think about it. We may or may not be people who in our lives are overly ordered but when we put a tarot deck in order we set ourselves a path of understanding. To come to understand the Tarot it is important to know what your path is going to be. Not mine, not Kris’s or anyone who has written a book but your path is the one that will bring you the best understanding.

There is a chance that most of you put them in numerical order. Right? If not then what order did you put it in? There are some decks out there without numbers on the Major Trumps how would that make a difference to how you order the deck?

Now look at how you ordered your deck. Which is the most important card in the deck based on your order?

* 0 The Fool -- he does stand outside the numbering

*1 The Magician -- he is number one, the eternal striving of all who are ranked.

*21 The World -- In the game of the Tarot this is the Trump that trumps all Trumps.

Does it matter how you order your deck? Maybe, if it matters to you.

Now separate them into three categories of your own choosing. Look at the cards and decide which ones are the most alike somehow?

The understanding the Tarot will require you to start to see patterns and correspondences. You will be the one who will judge what matters and what doesn't so the patterns and trends you see are essential. Cards in readings will work in differnet ways.  You will be the one who will judge what matters and what doesn't  Seeing patterns and reinforcing cards can help shape your understanding  of a reading.

Look through the deck and find four pairs of opposite cards.

If Tarot is to work at all it will need to accurately represent the full spectrum of the life experience. Seeing contrast and conflict will be important and almost always present in a reading. Already you are starting to see what cards are conflicting messages.

Pick the Three Trump cards you like the best?  (follow the steps and don't read ahead)

*Now for each card I want you to write a few words or a phrase on why you liked that card.

*Now look at these cards and try to determine what they mean. Write this meaning below your reason for liking the card. (No looking at the books!)

*Let's look at these three cards as a reading answering the question, “What draws you to Tarot?"

Select four cards:

1 for an ambition you have

1 for a fear, concern or mystery you have

1 for a life lesson that you have learned

1 for an quality in an ideal mate

There are many choices to make when we start to look at the cards. What they mean when we use them is one of the choices that we make.  In many books there are written meanings, but they are not the only ones that can be chosen.   If you draw meaning from the image on the card and you see meaning in it then it will be an authentic meaning for you.   What you see when you work with the cards is personal and will connect more in your mind and give your readings more depth.

Each card can represent an emotional state, a bit of wisdom, a warning, a quality in a person. Some of these are easier to see than others but with practice you can see them with more clarity.

Pick a Major Trump to use as a blessing for the person on your right.

The Emress:  "I want to bless you with the Empress, may she give you prosperity, comfort and growth.
The Emperor:  "I bless you with the Emperor, may he give you order, structure in your days next week.
The Tower:  "May you be the agent of change in areas where they have stood too long in opposition to what is right and good."

Here are some of the exercises I prepared for the first class but we never got around to using.

You can consider this the online bonuses!

Sort through the Majors and I want to pick out cards that you think best represent three important people in your life.

Which card in the Trumps would you say represents your idle self or greatest quality?

Which card/cards holds the most mystery to you?

Draw out one card from the Trumps.

*Look at it and write down a noun (person, place or thing) that this card represents.

*Look at it again write down a verb (action) that this card represents.

*Look at the card again and write down an adjective (descriptive word) that this card represents.