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.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Initial Attitude Survey

As you prepare to attend a class on the Tarot it is helpful for you to get an idea of your current understanding and presuppositions about the Tarot. There are many different opinions and ideas in the world about these cards. Take this survey and while it is a bit comical do consider carefully what you think about the Tarot, what you questions are about a deck and what it is you would like to learn and do with the Tarot.
In answering the question on the survey you may not find one that is exactly what you believe but the options cover a range of opinions so choose the one that is closest to your current response to the question.

1. Which of the following best describes your attitude toward the Tarot today?
· A. I am absolutely and totally convinced that Tarot is bunk. It's the stuff of store front psychics and frauds and cheats. It is for weak-minded people who need to be told what to do and can't bear to think for themselves. It's right up there with rabbits' feet and lucky charms and "Things that go bump in the Night." I'm as likely to use Tarot for personal insight as I am to use leeches to reduce my blood pressure
· B. I wouldn't say Tarot is a fraud, but I'm not convinced Tarot "works" in any meaningful way. Very likely, most of what Tarot has to say is so general that it could be made to fit any situation . . . and any success in prediction is more a matter of coincidence than anything else.
· C. At this point, I don't have an attitude toward Tarot either way. I am completely neutral.
· D. I think something might be going on with Tarot -- but I'm not sure what, or why. I've seen some peopled do things with the cards that I found interesting, and I'm intrigued by the possibilities. While I'm not quite ready to put on a turban and call myself "The Great Mysterioso," I am curious and I’d like to know more.
· E. I'm absolutely, totally convinced that Tarot works. I’ve got a Tarot collection that shocks most of my family and friends, and I consult the cards on a regular basis. I guess you could call me a True Believer -- in fact, I think the world would be a better place if everyone owned a deck of Tarot cards and used them every day.

2. How likely are you to "have your cards read" by someone else?
· A. Not very likely. Frankly I'd rather have a long, slow root canal.
· B. Somewhat likely. I might do it if you paid me, for example.
· C. Likely. I think it would be cool to have this done every so often.
· D. Very Likely. I'd like to have my cards read at least once a month or so.
· E. Extremely Likely. In fact, I want a reading every hour on the hour, just in case there's something coming up I really need to know about.

3. How likely are you to "read the cards" for yourself?
· A. Not very likely. I'd just as soon try to divine the future using raw goat livers.
· B. Somewhat likely. I stopped thinking Tarot was cool when I stopped attending slumber parties with other neighborhood nine-year-olds.
· B. Likely. I've read my own cards pretty often. I do, however, have a life, so my interest waxes and wanes over time.
· C. Very Likely. In fact, Tarot cards are a regular part of my routine.
· D. Extremely Likely. I dare not make a single move without pulling a card from my trusty Tarot companion. In fact, before answering this question, I pulled a card that told me which answer to choose. Now, thought, you'll have to excuse me: I have to finish this survey so I can finish my pre-lunch Tarot card reading so I won't be late for the one scheduled in the early afternoon.

4. Do you "read the cards" for other people?
· A. Nope. Never.
· B. I might have , once or twice, but I managed not to make a habit of it.
· C. I read for others about as often as I go to church -- once or twice a year.
· D. I deliver at least one reading a month.
· E. I read for others on a daily or weekly basis.

5. How spooky, scary, or "occult" do you think Tarot is?
· A. It's not spooky . . . . it's just plain stupid.
· B. I don't think it is spooky at all.
· C. Okay, I admit it's a little spooky . . . you know, like a creepy movie can be spooky, but in a good, nonthreatening way.
· D. Tarot is pretty darn spooky. In fact, I get goosebumps just looking at the cards.
· E. Tarot is hands-down the most terrifying thing in the universe, apart from a long, slow IRS tax audit.

6. To what extent do you thing taking classes will influence your attitude toward Tarot?
· A. I know it all about most subjects, and Tarot is no exception. Taking classes will do little more than confirm my preconceptions that Tarot is just so much New Age metaphysical gobbledygook.
· B. The classes might change my attitude a little . . . but I am not expecting much.
· C. I'm unsure how classes will change my attitude toward Tarot.
· D. I think that a few informative classes is likely to suggest a new understanding of Tarot and provide new application and uses for Tarot that I will find useful and beneficial.
· E. I think that learning more about Tarot will absolutely and totally convert me to the Tarot cause. In fact, I'm almost certain that after completing a few of these classes I will quit my day job and start teaching Tarot and reading the cards for a living.

7. Complete this sentence: "At this point, I think Tarot cards can effectively and beneficially be used for . . . "

· Swindling the weak minded
· Revealing set futures that are fated to come to pass
· Exploring many possible futures
· Brainstorming new ideas, answers, and approaches
· Leveling a short table leg.
· "Seeing what you think" about a situation or question.
· Trying out a strategy or solution before putting that strategy or solution into place in real life.
· Boosting personal creativity.
· Improving your own intuition.
· Facilitating meditation.
· Building attractive card houses.
· Anticipating the most likely outcome of a given situation.
· Increasing your awareness and make you more perceptive.
· Enhancing your feelings of control and confidence.
· Communicating with the Dead.
· Enhancing your objectivity with regard to a question or situation.
· Writing and telling interesting stories.
· Frightening children (and some adults) at slumber parties and Halloween.
· Working magic and casting spells.
· Playing a trick-taking game like Bridge, Rook or Spades.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1= "not certain at all" and 10 = "extremely certain") how certain are you that you can look at a Tarot card and determine what that card means?

1      2       3         4      5         6     7     8        9       10

9. How likely are you to buy a Tarot deck for yourself in the next month?
· A. Very Unlikely. If I wanted to waste money on card games, I'll go to the casino.
· B. Unlikely. But who knows? I do all kinds of strange things when I drink.
· C. Unsure.
· D. Likely. In fact, owning a new deck seems like a pretty cool idea.
· E. Very Likely. In fact, I'm thinking of converting my spare bedroom into a vault for my growing collection.

10. What information would you most like to see covered in a class? (Check the three to five you would like most to see covered.)
· General Card Meanings
· Reading Techniques (Reading for Others)
· Understanding of Reversals (Upside down Cards)
· How to use and explore Spreads
· Personal Discovery using the Tarot
· History and Development of Tarot
· The Fool's Journey (Narrative Approach to the Tarot)
· Meditation and the Tarot
· Dream Exploration
· Tarot Deck specific study (Studying one specific Tarot deck)
· The Golden Dawn and its influence on Tarot
· Astrology and Kabala in the Tarot
· Court Cards and significators
· Tarot and Creativity
· Tarot and Intuition