Tarot Class by Michele
Introduction to the Tarot
The course will be generic in nature and will not be keyed to any specific deck.
As long as you are using a standard Tarot deck with a theme that does not cause
the interpretations to stray too far from the traditional, you should be able
to follow along. The interpretations given will be simple, basic and have been
culled from many sources. They are by no means "the correct" interpretations,
but they will be based on the "traditional" meanings. Feel free to jump
in and share your insights and interpretations as well.
I will not go into a long history of the Tarot here, too many books are available
which can discuss this topic much more intelligently than I can. The standard
Tarot deck which is commonly in use today consists of 78 cards. They are divided
into the Major Arcana, The Minor Arcana and the Court Cards. There are 22 Major
Arcana or Trumps. These cards are thought to represent the Higher parts of our
consciousness and have been linked with the Archetypes proposed by Jung, the
22 Letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, The paths of the Tree of Life, The I-Ching
and the Runes among other things.
The Court Cards represent other people in our lives or aspects of our own personality.
The Minor Arcana are concerned with the everyday, mundane affairs of day to
day living such as work, school, the home and relationships. The Minors consist
of four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. In various decks these suits
might be renamed, but they are usually recognizable.
Some of the more common alternate names are:
Wands - Staves
Cups - Vessels, Bowls
Swords - Crystals
Pentacles - Disks, Coins
Tarot can be used in several ways; as a means of divination, as a tool for
self discovery, as an aid to spiritual or esoteric study or even as a game.
Tarot is such a diverse medium that an entire lifetime can be devoted to it's
There are 4 suits commonly found in Tarot decks: Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles.
While they sometimes have different names, the idea behind them is usually the
same. If you understand the meanings of the suits and have some knowledge of
numbers, you can read the Minor Arcana of any deck of Tarot cards, or even playing
cards for that matter.
I have included some basic astrological descriptions as the two systems, Astrology
and Tarot seem to complement each other. I have also noticed that many Tarot
readers incorporate their knowledge of astrology into their interpretations
and readings and that many people who are interested in one are also interested
in the other. Since a great many people have some knowledge of Astrology, I
thought the descriptions might be helpful in understanding the ideas behind
Wands: Wands can be described as the suit having to do with energy, creativity,
communication, action, passion, self improvement/self development, spirituality
and enterprise. If you look at the suit of Wands in most decks you notice that
most of the cards show some type of action in progress, or someone who appears
to be reviewing or enjoying the results obtained from a recently completed action.
Action and energy are two key words to this suit. Wands are usually associated
with the element of fire. If you know a little of astrology, think of the personality
attributes of the fire signs, the forceful Aries, the flamboyant Leo and the
honest and enthusiastic Sagittarius. Additional attributes include:
Direction - South
Season - Spring (Vernal Equinox)
Masculine/Feminine - Masculine
Cups: Cups are associated with the emotions, the subconscious, relationships
and intuitive or psychic abilities. Most decks try to convey emotions in this
suit; happiness, love, boredom, disappointment and dejection are usually represented
and easily identified. This suit is associated with the element of water and
like water can be calm and serene, or turbulent and rough. Astrologically, the
nurturing Cancer personality, the depth of the Scorpio and the intuitive, dreamy
Pisces could be applied. Additional attributes:
Direction - East
Season - Summer (Summer Solstice)
Masculine/Feminine - Feminine
Swords: Swords are the suit of mental activity, rational thinking, decisions,
and intellectual pursuit. Because much of the turmoil in our lives can be attributed
to our thoughts, this suit often depicts conflict and struggle as well. Looking
at this suit in most decks, one finds some of the more negative cards depicting
nightmares, craftiness, pain and restriction. Swords are usually associated
with the element of air. Astrologically one can think of the Libran desire for
balance, the contradictions inherent in the Aquarian personality, and the Gemini's
thirst for intellectual stimulation. Additional attributes:
Direction - West
Season - Autumn (Autumnal Equinox)
Masculine/Feminine - Masculine
Pentacles: Pentacles are the suit associated with work, money, crafts, the
home, the physical body. Looking at this suit, one sees craftsman at work, business
being conducted, the physical comfort and security of having material things
and the physical discomfort and pain of not having them. Pentacles are associated
with the element earth. Astrologically one can think of Taurean practicality
and love of home, the Capricorn's financial and business prowess and the Virgo's
industry, skill and productivity. Additional attributes:
Direction - South
Season - Winter (Winter Solstice)
Masculine/Feminine - Feminine
Swords and Wands are usually associated with Air and Fire respectively, however
some writers have reversed these attributions assigning Fire to Swords and Air
to Wands. Emily Peach does this in "The Tarot Workbook" and Ellen
Cannon Reed does as well in her deck ,"The Witches Tarot" and her
two books "The Goddess and the Tree" and "The Witches Tarot".
Arguments can be made for both points of view and you should chose whichever
attributions seems to fit best to you. The same is true of the directions assigned.
An alternative system for directions taken from Astrology is: Wands - East,
Cups - North, Swords - West and Earth - South.
Now is the time to make yourself a Tarot Notebook. Any notebook will do. Personally,
I like a 3 ring binder, which allows me to expand as needed. As we go through
the course, write down what you have learned. For instance in today's lesson
we went over the suits, Set aside a page in your notebook for each of the suits
and write a brief synopsis of what we covered here for each. Add any thoughts
you might have or any insights from Tarot books you are using. Should additional
ideas or information come to you in the future, go back and add them as well.
Over time, this notebook will become a valuable resource. It will document your
progress over time and be a source and record of interpretations.
Aces represent the energy of each suit in its purest and most concentrated form.
They also represent beginnings, ideas, commencement, opportunity, a fresh start,
inspiration, a gift.
Applying the above to what we have covered in the suits gives you the
meaning of each ace.
· Ace of Wands - New energy, a burst of creativity, beginning a self
improvement program, the start of a spiritual quest.
· Ace of Cups - A new relationship ( romantic or otherwise), awakening
intuition or psychic powers, the start of happier times.
· Ace of Swords - New ideas, a new intellectual interest or hobby, strength,
· Ace of Pentacles - Beginnings on the physical plane, a new job, a new
home, the start of a period of prosperity.
Many readers use Aces as timing cards. If a question of timing comes up during
a reading, write it down and put it aside. After the main reading is done, have
the querent re-shuffle and cut the deck, then deal cards face up until you get
an Ace. The suit of the Ace will indicate the time that the
event is most likely to occur. Using the seasons from the message on suits we
· Wands - Spring
· Cups - Summer
· Swords - Fall
· Pentacles - Winter
A method for answering yes/no questions uses Aces as well. Shuffle and cut the
deck while concentrating on the question. Turn one stack over periodically while
shuffling in order to get reversals. Deal the cards until you get an Ace then
stop. Deal a new pile until you get another Ace. Deal one last time until you
get a third Ace. The direction of the Aces will give you your answer. If two
or more are upright, the answer is yes. If two or more are reversed, the answer
is no. Personally, I rarely use Tarot to answer yes/no questions. I believe
that the answer will be correct for the conditions at that time, but as conditions
change, the answer may change as well. I prefer to ask questions such as "what
can I do to enhance my chances of...." or "What am I doing that is
preventing me from..." . This type of question gives me some control over
events rather than allowing things to just happen to me.
Twos represent duality, balance, choices, interaction, polarity, developing.
· Two of Wands - A choice or balance in applying energy. The first steps
have been completed, and one must decide where to apply energy from this point
· Two of Cups - Emotional interactions. Balance between opposites. Love.
· Two of Swords - Peace (hard won), a respite from conflict, a tenuous
· Two of Pentacles - Balance in practical matters; juggling several tasks
on the physical plane (home, work, hobbies, recreation, etc.). Change.
Some readers see a progression though the Minor Arcana with Aces representing
a beginning, twos further development, threes as planning, fours as practical
attainment, fives as unbalance, sixes as harmony, sevens as choices, eights
as changes and nines as conclusions. Tens are the ultimate
fulfillment of the suit and represent a transition which leads back to the Ace.
Various authors have assigned different progressions to each number. Some are
based on numerology and some are not. If you are familiar with numerology, you
can apply some of its concepts to Tarot as well.
A Tarot exercise
At this point we have covered 8 cards. Pull those cards from the deck, mix them
thoroughly and deal them in face down in four sets of two. Do not think of a
question, this exercise is for practice only. The first card in each pair represents
the past and the second, the present. Now turn over the
first pair and interpret the cards together.
Example: Two of Swords, Ace of Pentacles - You have just completed a fairly
tumultuous period. Things were difficult, but you worked them out, achieved
a balance and are about to begin a period of material prosperity.
Do the same with the other three pairs. This exercise is designed to get you
used to the idea of reading groups of cards right away. It should help you to
see relationships between cards rather than viewing each card in a vacuum. If
you have time, you should do this exercise every day, adding the new cards you
have learned to the group you use. If you like, remix and try it again, you
can't do this one too often.
Threes represent creation, abundance, group activity, building, planning, synthesis.
· Three of Wands - planning, reflecting, aspiration
· Three of Cups - Celebration, happiness, joy, sharing, abundance, friendship
· Three of Swords - Sadness, heartbreak, emotional pain, sorrow
· Three of Pentacles - creating, bringing into physical reality, work.
Most readers do some type of centering exercise before doing a reading. These
exercises can be elaborate or very simple. The method I use is in the latter
category. Before doing a reading I always shuffle the deck. While shuffling
I ask God/Goddess to guide my words and allow me to assist the
querent (or myself). Some people like to create an atmosphere by lighting candles,
burning incense or doing a short meditation before reading. Whatever your belief
system, it is best to approach the cards from a feeling of calm, rather than
in a harried, distracted way. Pray, cast a circle, invoke the
God/Goddess, meditate, do deep breathing exercises, or do whatever it is you
do to get in touch with your center.
Do the same exercise as yesterday, adding the threes and making a third column
for the future. Someone here in the forum once recommended that you do all readings
aloud, even those done for yourself. I think that is an excellent suggestion
and recommend you do the exercises aloud as well. It is one thing to recognize
the meaning of a card in your mind and an entirely different thing to articulate
that meaning to another.
In case you haven't noticed, I do not use reversals, however many people do.
You can take a book and learn it's interpretations of reversals or you can take
an easier approach and chose one of the methods of reading them listed below:
1. A block in the upright energy of the card
2. A delay
3. A subconscious wish or desire
4. A hidden or surreptitious energy
5. A weakened version of the upright meaning
The opposite of the upright meaning (this is the method most often seen in
books, however there are exceptions. Some cards have similar meanings whether
upright or reversed. Refer to the book for your deck when using this method
to learn which cards it does not apply to).
There are many other methods for reading them as well. The use of reversals
is not as prevalent as it once was. Many newer beginner books do not include
them at all, however you must do what you feel most comfortable with. Arguments
can be made for both sides. If you decide not to use them, bear in mind that
each card has a full spectrum of meanings. For example, the three of cups can
mean merriment and celebration, but carried to excess could mean drunkenness,
or excessive partying.
Fours represent stability, structure, order and practical attainment.
· Four of Wands - rites, inspiration, freedom, ceremony, harmony, peace
· Four of Cups - Boredom, apathy, discontent, dissatisfaction, withdrawal,
· Four of Swords - regrouping, introspection, illness, time out, rest
· Four of Pentacles - holding on to ones possessions, thrift, a reluctance
to let go, insecurity, selfishness.
This is a reading method I learned from another reader. Whenever she does a
reading, she throws whatever spread she is going to use and then looks at the
card left on the bottom of the deck. She calls this card the undercurrent. The
undercurrent is what underlies the question. It is the atmosphere in which events
are taking place. For example if the querent had a question about a relationship
and the 4 of pentacles was on the bottom of the deck, it could be interpreted
as someone in the relationship not wanting to let go. Perhaps for financial
reasons (very common), for selfish reasons, or for security reasons. It could
be an unconscious or unexpressed desire which the querent him/herself is not
even aware of. Depending on the rest of the cards thrown, letting go might be
the best thing. I find the concept useful and use it in my daily readings.
Reading for Yourself
Many Tarot books and readers warn against reading for yourself. The common thread
in this argument is that it is difficult to be objective and that one tends
to see what one wants to see rather than what is really there. That is a real
danger, however I think reading for yourself can be most
helpful, particular in seeing options that you might not have come to on your
own. You have to keep all possible meanings in mind when reading for yourself
and then decide which one fits best realistically, not hopefully. Reading for
yourself can help you change the outcome of a situation, by showing you where
things are headed presently and what you can do to change them.
I try to read for myself everyday. It gives me an idea of where the day is headed
and how things are going with me on an intellectual, physical and spiritual
level. I usually use one of the two following spreads, depending on my mood.
Mind, Body, Spirit
I spread three cards from left to right, with the first representing my mental
state, the second my physical state and the third my spiritual state.
Past, Present, Future
Again I spread three cards from left to right with the first representing the
recent past or events that have lead up to the present, the second card representing
today, and the third card representing the near future. I sometimes use this
spread in reference to a problem I am working on or a project or situation I
am dealing with, whether at work or at home. It is short and to the point. If
I feel I need additional information, I just deal more cards on the cards to
clarify the one that is giving me difficulty. For both spreads I also look at
the undercurrent card.
Fives represent change, unbalance, challenge , struggle, conflict, breakdown.
· Five of Wands - Competition, struggle, challenge to authority or established
· Five of Cups - Disappointment, loss, failing to see the good in a situation
· Five of Swords - hurt, bruised ego, a small defeat, loss or embarrassment.
· Five of Pentacles - Worry, fear, financial loss, difficult times, trouble,
All readers have cards they dislike (some of them are fives <G>). This
exercise helps one see the full potential in every card. Chose the 3 cards from
the deck you dislike the most. Now brainstorm and come up with five good or
positive things about each card. This is pretty difficult, but you might be
surprised at the things you come up with. The first few are fairly easy. In
the Waite-Smith 5 of cups for example, there are still two cups left standing,
all is not lost; the person in the card has a warm cloak and good solid shoes,
which seems to say his physical needs are taken care of; there is "water
under a bridge", which suggests that whats done is done and that he should
let go, pick up his two remaining cups and get on with his life. I'm sure you
all can come up with others.
Sixes represent Harmony, triumph, balance, a high point.
· Six of Wands - Victory, self confidence, advancement, well being
· Six of Cups - Happiness, pleasant memories, ecstasy, friendship, sharing
· Six of Swords - Journey, passing through difficult times, perspective,
· Six of Pentacles - Gifts, generosity, giving freely, an exchange of
Tarot relies heavily on symbolism. Esoteric decks, such as Thoth and to a lessor
extent, the Waite-Smith make use of every symbol on every card. This is why
I always recommend you purchase the book written specifically for your deck
if one is available. It will usually explain the designer's use of symbolism
in the deck. A dictionary of symbols is also an excellent tool for discerning
deeper meanings in the cards. It is especially useful for decks which have no
separate book available.
For an example where having the book enhances the interpretation, let's look
at the six of wands in "The Witches Tarot" The card shows a woman
kneeling in a forest clearing with six branches on the ground before her in
two horizontal groups of three. If you look in the booklet that comes with
the deck you find "Illumination, realization of bigger things...",
but if you look in Reed's book "The Witches Tarot: The Witches Cabala Two"
you read that the branches are laid in the I-Ching hexagram Ch'ien Ch'ien. This
gives you further insight into what the designer was trying to convey.
Using the Waite-Smith deck, let's examine the same card. We see a man on a
horse carrying a staff with a laurel wreath on top. If we look up laurel in
a dictionary of symbols we find "Triumph, victory", so even if did
not have Waite's book we could get an idea of what the card meant from the symbolism
augmented by the picture, which also suggests a triumphant march. If we were
not sure of the type of wreath, and looked up the word "wreath", we
find "..glory, victory, supremacy..." which still conveys the meaning.
If you look in the bibliography of most modern Tarot books, you will probably
find at least one dictionary of symbols listed. They are especially useful for
understanding cards that you have difficulty with.
Sevens represent reflection, inner work, the hidden, difficulties or struggle
· Seven of Wands - Self defense, holding a position, inner conviction
· Seven of Cups - imagination , fantasy, choices, illusion
· Seven of Swords - deception, stealing, strategy, secret plan
· Seven of pentacles - waiting, patience, delay, efforts paying off
I am listing directional attributes of the suits by various authors. You should
chose one that supports your personal beliefs or which feels right to you.
Wands = South, Cups = West, Swords = East, Pentacles = North
(Vicki Noble, "Motherpeace Tarot", Mary Greer "Tarot for Yourself",
"Tarot a New handbook for the Apprentice", Jana Riley "The Tarot
Wands = East, Cups = North, Swords = West, Pentacles = South
Wands = South, Cups = West, Swords = East, Pentacles = North (Witchcraft)
Wands = East, Cups = North, Swords = West, Pentacles = South (Astrology)
(Gail Fairfield, "Choice Centered Tarot"
Surprisingly, these were the only lists I could find. I thought some of the
older esotericists (Papus, et al) would have something since they tended to
like lists of attributes, but I didn't find anything :(
To some this seems very elementary, but I see questions on shuffling posted
quite frequently in my on-line travels. In my opinion, there is no right or
wrong way to shuffle. I think the important thing is to be calm, keep your question
in mind, and use whatever method you normally use to mix the
deck. Some readers feel Tarot cards should never be shuffled per se, but rather
mixed by holding the deck in one hand and pulling cards from various parts of
the deck and re-inserting them with the other over and over until you feel they
are well mixed. Personally I shuffle them like a poker deck, 3 or more times.
Why 3? I don't know, it just seems like a good minimum. I usually shuffle 4-5
times, but never less than 3. If the deck is new, I shuffle at least 11 times.
I read somewhere that statistically speaking, it takes 11 shuffles to get a
78 card deck in random order. One day when I'm really bored,
I'll do the math for myself and verify this. If you don't use reversals, you
should be careful to keep the cards all in the same direction. This is difficult
with some decks, because it is impossible to tell the direction from the back.
Getting a few cards reversed is not a tragedy, just flip them over. If you do
like to use reversals, turn one pile of the deck over once or twice
Cutting the deck
I have read many different ways to cut the deck. The only one I follow is to
cut with your left hand. I deal with my right hand, so I feel cutting with the
left gives the deal some balance. I also cut
into 3 piles. The most common admonition is to cut with the left hand into 3
piles to the left. It works for me, but I don't doubt some other method would
work as well, this is just the way I learned.
Large cards such as Thoth, Rohrig and Voyager present problems to those with
smaller hands. You can try shuffling them from the sides, vice the long way.
You can also try swishing them around on a table (make sure it is clean <G>),
or on your bed. Like poker cards, Tarot cards wear with time. I still have my
first Motherpeace deck and while it is a little "thick", I have not
been able to bring myself to part with it. If you read for others though, you
probably will not make a good impression with a deck so worn and fat that it
is difficult to shuffle. My old friend is reserved for my personal use
Another question that comes up is whether to deal the cards face up or face
down. I deal face up, because I like to get a feel for the spread as a whole,
but some people find it distracting. They feel that they start forming impressions
before they have the whole spread dealt. Dealing face down avoids this.
I think that we sometimes get too tied up in the ritual and "doing things
right" and forget that Tarot should be a relaxing, enlightening experience,
vice a nervous ordeal because we are trying to shuffle in a way we are not familiar
with, trying to remember the right way to cut, the proper
invocation etc. Relax, get the cards well mixed and read.
Eights represent balance, movement, order, change, giving and receiving.
· Eight of Wands - Energy, movement, activity, speed, things happening
· Eight of Cups - Withdrawal, retreat, turning your back on something
and moving off into a different direction
· Eight of Swords - Restriction, feeling blocked, feeling ganged up on
or attacked, frustration, waiting
· Eight of Pentacles - Craftsmanship, productivity, putting your affairs
in order, mastery, being busy
Personality and Soul Cards
Contrary to popular belief, these concepts were not developed by Mary Greer,
but by Arrien Angeles in "The Tarot Handbook", a book which does not
get the credit it is due in my opinion. She also presents several similar concepts
in the book. such as growth cards and growth cycles.
Personality Card - this card represents your expression in the outer world,
your talents, gifts, resources and how others see you. To find this card, add
your birth day, month and year together. Example: Sept 9th, 1956 = 9 + 9 + 1956
= 1974 then add the digits of the result together - 1 + 9 + 7 + 4 = 21.
This is your personality card. If it is a double digit reduce it again: 2 +
1 + 3. This is your soul/spiritual card. The soul card represents the deepest
core of who you are. It provides an internal base of energy and natural resource
for you to draw upon for your personality expression. If the first
result is more than 21 like mine:
June 6th, 1956 - 6 + 6 + 1956 = 1968, 1 + 9 + 6 + 8 = 24 (note this is more
than 21), reduce it again, 2 + 4 = 6. This both my personality and soul card.
When laying down a spread, it is useful to take a few moments to look at the
spread as a whole, before reading individual cards. Is there a preponderance
of one suit? Are there several Major Arcana, or several Court Cards? These are
indications that you should keep in mind when doing the
reading. They are often clues as to what is going on. For example, lets say
the question concerns ones love life. You throw the spread and see there are
lots of pentacles, but not a cup in sight. What does this mean? It could mean
that material security is a key issue in the relationship right then. It
could also mean that the person should be focusing on financial matters right
now, rather than the relationship. Perhaps worrying about the relationship has
led to them doing poorly at work, or to spending more than they can afford to
keep the other person happy. Perhaps they are telling you that the issue is
love, but the thing that is really worrying them is money. Tarot sometimes tells
us what we need to know vice what we want to know. You might want to ask questions
to explore these issues during the reading.
When I have finished interpreting each card in a spread, I like to sum up the
reading. I just review the overall reading, pointing out the key points we covered.
I always try to leave a reading on a high point. Even if the reading conveys
bad news, I try to give the querent the tools to change events, based on the
reading. A reading should be empowering for the querent, rather than a recital
of things that may happen in the future. The key words are =may happen=. We
have the power to influence and change the future.
Nines represent completion, conclusion, attainment, magic
· Nine of Wands - Wisdom, experience, defensiveness, wariness
· Nine of Cups - Wishes coming true, fulfillment, satisfaction
· Nine of Swords - Nightmares, anxiety, mental stress, depression, guilt
· Nine of Pentacles - Abundance, material prosperity, comfort, security,
To me, nines represent the end of a cycle. An interesting idea involving cycles
is the Year card. Angeles Arriens first proposed this in her book "The
Tarot Handbook". Mary Greer describes it her book "Tarot for Yourself"
and derived a similar system of her own in "Tarot
Constellations".James Wanless describes it in the booklet that comes with
the Voyager deck. I will be using his method here. Per Wanless, the year starts
for you on your birthday. There are two year cards for every year. One is the
card that corresponds to your age. At birth you are The Fool. At one you are
The Magician. This cycle goes through 22 years and starts again, so at ages
22, 44, and 66 you are The Fool. The other year card is calculated by adding
your birthdate to the current year, then reduce, much like we did the personality
and soul cards.
For my birthday, June 6th it would be 6 + 6 + 1995 = 2007 = 9, The Hermit.
For me this is a Star/Hermit year.
Tens represent the final culmination of each suit. The cycle is complete and
you are ready to begin a new cycle.
· Ten of Wands - burden, responsibility
· Ten of Cups - Joy, happiness, optimism, family
· Ten of Swords - Sacrifice, hitting bottom, release, letting go
· Ten of Pentacles - Wealth , abundance, inheritance, prosperity.
At this point we have gone through all the numbered cards. When we started with
the Aces, I mentioned that different authors assigned different qualities to
each of the numbers. Here are a
few for comparison:
Card Noble Gordon Ozaniec
1 Gifts Beginnings, creation, willpower Unity
2 Balance Love ,harmony, cooperation, polarity, duality, choice, balance Polarity,
3 Synthesis Creation, abundance, imagination joy, artistic expression Development,
4 Stability Organization, structure, discipline, work, order Measurement
5 Struggle Freedom, progress, change, courage, versatility Motion, adaptation
6 Exuberance Service, truth, responsibility, beauty, harmony Balance, equilibrium
7 Inner work Spirituality, wisdom Creative synthesis
8 Change Giving and receiving in balance Rhythm, alternate cycles
9 Completion Completion, brotherhood universal love Transition
10 Transformation New beginnings Manifestation, completion, fulfillment
Noble, Vicki - Motherpeace Tarot, ISBN 06-066300-6
Gordon, Richard - The Intuitive Tarot, ISBN 0-931892-84-8
Ozaniec, Naomi - The Element Tarot Handbook, ISBN 1-85230-488-X
Court Cards represent one of the greatest challenges to new readers. I think
this is because they force us to rely on our intuition, and we are usually afraid
of being wrong. I have found though, that when I went against my intuition in
an effort to "play it safe", I was usually wrong and my
intuitive answer was the correct one.
Court cards obviously represent personalities, but whose? They can be read
as aspects of the querent, or as other people in the querents life. One thing
that helps is to ask the querent. As readers we sometimes think we have to know
all the answers and feel shy about asking the querent for help, but the reading
is about the querent. Who knows better what is going on in that person's life
than they do? Should you come upon a Court Card in a reading and feel stumped,
describe the personality traits associated with the card and ask the querent,
"Do you know anyone like this?" If the answer is no, then it would
be safe to assume that these are qualities the querent has manifested or needs
to manifest in this situation.
A few months ago there was a very interesting thread here on Court Cards. If
you participated, you will recognize the next four lessons <G>. I would
love to post the views of others who particpated as well, as I gained some valuable
insights into court cards from them, however space precludes
this. You can get the whole thread from the library. It is a file called "CC.txt".
These posts are excerpts from the file with a little new info added in. We will
be covering the Pages and Knights tommorrow and the Queens and Kings the next
day, then on to the Majors. Many Tarot books tend to gloss over Court Cards,
or to say they represent certain physical charecteristics. I disagree with this
approach. Because Court Cards give so many readers difficulty, I am posting
the views of several
Tarot authors as well as my own. You can look them over and chose a way of dealing
with them that feels right to you.
It seems that many questions querents seek answers to involve relationships.
A simple spread that I find useful is called "The Relationship Path Spread".
It was designed by two friends, Nina-Lee Braden and Patsy Haggerty.
1 3 5 4 2
The cards are dealt in the pattern shown above. Should you need more information
on a card, don't be shy about throwing a few more cards in that position for
Card 1 - How you see the other person
Card 2 - How the other person sees you
Card 3 - How you see the relationship
Card 4 - How the other person sees the relationship
Card 5 - Something about the relationship the querent needs to know
Card 6 - Where the relationship is going
More Than One Deck
Most of the readers I know have several Tarot decks. The reasons for this are
many. Some collect decks. Some bought a deck they found interesting at the time
of purchase, but subsequently found they didn't "click" with. Some
learned to read with a certain deck and then branched out on their own.
Acquiring a new deck is a scary business. For one thing, Tarot decks are not
cheap and you don't want to spend $14.00 and up for something you will end up
throwing in a drawer, not to mention the large investment in time and study
required to learn it.
I recommend that when you are starting out you find a deck you like and stick
with it for a while, at least until you are comfortable reading it without the
book sitting by your side. If you find the going rough, don't be tricked into
thinking that a new deck will be easier to learn. While this is sometimes the
case, particularly if you really dislike your current deck, more often it is
not. A new deck won't be any easier unless you have a good base of interpretations
to build upon. Once you have that, a new deck can be exciting and can revitalize
a "stale" period. Don't feel you have to have the newest deck that
everyone is talking about. A Tarot deck is like a friend.
You don't (or at least shouldn't) discard old friends every time you make a
new one. I read with the Waite-Smith exclusively (on and off) for almost 20
years. I branched out to Motherpeace with much trepidation, remembering how
painful it had been to learn the Waite-Smith, but I found that it wasn't as
difficult as I thought it would be because I had a good foundation in Waite-Smith.
Learning my next deck was easier still. Remembering that I have the rest of
my life to learn made it much easier and less stressful. You don't have to learn
3 cards a day, or even one card a day. If you are following this course, print
the messages and go at your own pace. Spend a day on the Aces Lesson or spend
a week on it. No one is judging you, there are no exams. Take your time, develop
a rapport with your deck, record what you learn and in a few months you will
feel quite comfortable reading Tarot.
· Page of Wands - Active, energetic, enthusiastic, playful and passionate
· Page of Cups - Affectionate, dreamy, intuitive, sweet
· Page of Swords - quick witted, takes risks, sometimes brooding or thoughtless
· Page of Pentacles - Practical, thrifty, wise for age, physical
Pages are considered the children or young people of the deck. I personally
think they have many characteristics in common with The Fool. They are inquisitive,
impulsive, playful and eager to learn. To me they indicate a person who has
these characteristics regardless of age or sex. In reading
for myself I interpret them as a need to utilize these qualities (instead of
being my usual serious self). I then expand on that meaning by applying the
qualities of the suit and their position in the spread.
Mary Greer in "Tarot for yourself" says "Pages signal the need
to look into a matter - to study it, to be open to messages or new ways and
ideas. They act as catalysts for change".
Gail Fairfield in "Choice Centered Tarot" associates Pages with risk
taking. "With pages you are setting out to take the risks that you've contemplated
or avoided in the tens...you have all the experiences of the ace through ten
behind you, so your risk is a calculated one, but there are no guarantees!"
Most authors attribute Pages to the element of earth (I do too), so they have
the attributes of that element as well.
Angeles Arrien in "The Tarot Handbook" says "..the Princess
(page) of any suit indicate(s) consciousness that is centered and in the process
of deepening...the suit will indicate where the processes of centering and deepening
Carl Japiske in "Exploring the Tarot" says the court cards are "the
4 faces of the minor Arcana and they represent the different stages of maturity
the aspirant or The Fool attains as he learns the lessons of the path. The Page
represents the novice in working with the energy of the suit. He is the student,
the learner, and cannot be trusted with any responsibility. Whenever the Page
appears in a layout it is an indication of immaturity and the need to grow in
understanding and expertise."
Several authors state that the Page means a message, phone call or some other
type of communication. Most agree that it is a young person as well.
Other Court Cards Systems
Some decks have different systems for their court cards. Two I know of have
key word systems and one uses the court cards to modify other cards in the spread.
"The Witches Tarot" by Ellen Cannon Reed uses court cards as modifiers.
When you get a court card in a spread you deal another card on top of it which
will be modified by the Court Card. Her reasoning is based on the Cabala. In
· Kings represent the creative urge, (choosing the seeds to plant)
· Queens represent taking the first step, (planting the seeds)
· Princes represent the results of our planning taking shape, (plants
sprout and grow)
· Princesses represent the final form, (harvesting what we have sown)
For example "Queen of Cups is dealt, followed by the Two of Wands. The
Two of Wands represents ideas taking on energy...,the Queen means the energy
is at the concept stage - not yet taking on form, but on it's way to formation."
("The Witches Tarot", pg 149). Reed's system is quite different from
any other, but makes sense Cabalistically and certainly tames the messy problem
interpreting Court Cards.
· Knight of Wands - Searching, spiritual, enthusiastic
· Knight of Cups - Romantic, sensitive, caring, moody jealous
· Knight of Swords - Aggressive, communicative, interested in ideas and
· Knight of Pentacles - Secure, stable, reliable, patient
To me the Knights are the querents peers. They are seekers on a quest which
I interpret to be finding their place in the great scheme of things, therefore
they are like most of us, who are on the same quest.
Richard Gordon in "The Intuitive Tarot" states that "court cards
represent an individuals level of awareness, or their age (child, adolescent,
or adult)...(knights) represent theperiod of trying out new ideas while still
making quite a few mistakes, just as adolescents do in their attempt to master
Rosemary Guilley in "The Mystical Tarot" says that "court cards
reflect the influence of aspects of personality in our lives - either from ourselves
or other people:...Knight: Energy, Drive".
Paul Foster Case in "The Tarot" says that "Knights sometimes
represent the coming or going of a matter, depending on which direction they
Mueller and Echols in "The Lovers Tarot" state "As warriors,
the knights symbolize strength, service, mobility, courage, victory with honor,
and acting as champions for high ideals. Always ready to do battle with the
forces to be overcome, knights suggest action, sometimes hasty (knight of swords)
which will need to be tempered with with prudence or caution. Both men and women
can make good use of the constructive forces symbolized by their knight cards."
Knights are associated with fire or air depending upon the author (I associate
them with air). At this point I'm trying not to quote the same book/author twice
<BG>, but if you are interested in the views of a particular author, let
me know and I will post it if I have a reference.
· Queen of Wands - Self confident, powerful, generous, quick tempered
· Queen of Cups - Nurturing, psychic, emotional, empathetic
· Queen of Swords - Articulate, critical, aloof, distant
· Queen of Pentacles - Practical, trustworthy, earthy, comforting
Queens in my opinion are women who wield some power over the querent, whether
positional or emotional. I see Queens and Kings as very similar, though I feel
Queens are more subtle in their power. IMO men can be Queens and woman can be
Kings depending on how they use and wield their power.
Gareth Knight in "The Magical World of the Tarot" states that "The
Queens and Kings may represent older people according to sex, but this is by
no means universal...they represent people in established positions of authority,
but this may well be in the totally domestic context of father or mother - or
indeed something that takes the place of father or mother. It could be a company,
committee, social worker or peer group."
Pamela Eakins in "Tarot of the Spirit" says "...all Mothers
(Queens) are related to the element of water. Regardless of the suit in which
they appear, although they are conditioned or refined by the attributes of that
suit, it can be said that all Mothers personify the qualities of emotion and
understanding. The Mothers in their exalted state are receptive, loving, and
Eden Gray in "The Tarot Revealed" states "In readings, the the
King often symbolizes the spirit; the Queen, the soul; the Knight, the ego;
and the Page, the body." I found this interesting because in "Mastering
the Tarot" she uses the physical charecteristics method and says they are
I'll stretch a bit here and discuss the Voyager deck. In my interpretation,
the Women of that deck are not the same as Queens, but he has some interesting
correspondences which I wanted to include. In "Voyager Tarot, Way of the
Great Oracle" he has the following correspondences:
· Woman of Crystals (swords) - The Priestess, Justice
· Woman of Cups - The Moon, The Star
· Woman of Worlds (disks) - The Empress
· Woman of Wands - The Priestess, Strength He states "the Woman
cards are the human expressions of their archetypical seeds, which are symbolized
by the Major Arcana Archetypes."
One way to get familiar with the Court Cards is to personalize them. This exercise
Based on "Tarot for Yourself" may help you to remember the Court Cards.
We each show several faces to the world each day. We are mothers, fathers,
co-workers, bosses, subordinates, siblings, children, friends, students and
teachers. We are viewed differently in each of these roles. Divide a sheet of
paper in half. On one side write down the roles you play each day. On the other
side, write the court card which you feel corresponds to this role.
Do the same thing for other people you know, friends and relatives. For example,
I see my favorite aunt as the Queen of Swords. My current boss is a Knight of
Wands, though my previous boss was the King of Cups (he was also the Emperor!).
My husband is usually the King of Wands. My mother is usually the Queen of Cups.
· King of Wands - Forceful, domineering, risk taker, creative, sets
· King of Cups - Romantic, charming, fun, sensitive
· King of Swords - Analytical, intellectual, ruthless,
· King of Pentacles - Down to earth. sensual, secure, stubborn
Kings IMO are similar to Queens in that they represent someone with power over
the querent. They are different in that they manifest the characteristics of
their suits in a stronger, more raw manner. They can be excessive, or heavy
handed where the Queen is usually more balanced and reserved.
Richard Gorden in "Intuitive Tarot" states that "Kings represent
a great deal of awareness, combined with an assertive nature, or an adult man."
Sharman-Burke and Green in "The Mythic Tarot" writes "Kings
in all four suits are images of the dynamic, outgoing, directive qualities of
the particular suit. These powerful masculine figures represent the full use
of the energies of this sphere of life in building and concretizing in the outer
Mary Greer in "Tarot Constellations says"...(court cards) primarily
represent the roles, masks or subpersonalities we wear as our "identities"
in life....The kings demonstrate their talents, which are outer and public.
They seem confident of their expertise and secure in their positions. As a king
you administer, judge, take charge and handle your affairs competently. You
establish procedures and build empires. Kings show where you have developed
mastery, but also where you can be inflexible, and where you think you have
nothing more to learn. Kings are much like the Emperor. They are usually related
to the element air, but may be considered fire by some." I personally
consider them fire.
Other Court Card Systems
The Gill Tarot deck and the Voyager each use key words on their court cards.
They are as follows:
Voyager Wands Cups Crystals Worlds
Child Seeker Feeler Learner Player
Man Actor Surfer Inventor Achiever
Woman Sensor Rejoicer Guardian Preserver
Sage Seer Regenerator Knower Master
Gill Wands Cups Swords Disks
King Innovation Inspiration Intuition Conception
Queen Reflection Contemplation Reason Nurture
Prince Aspiration Creativity Action Construction
Princess Transformation Evolution Control Growth
As can be seen from these posts, court card interpretations vary greatly among
authors and readers. My advice is to chose a method that you feel comfortable
with, master it and use it consistently. There are several more court card interpretations
that I found interesting, but did not include because they were too lengthy
to explain adequately. Among them are Jana Riley's interpretations in "The
Tarot Book" which is psychological (primarily Jungian) in approach and
Rose Gwain's "Discovering Yourself through the Tarot" which she describes
as "drawn from the traditional Tarot literature as well as mythological
and psychological sources...further amplified by the I Ching". Many authors
were not included because their descriptions were too skimpy or were of the
"physical characteristics" school of thought, which is well known
and need not be repeated here.
The Major Arcana
The Minor Arcana and Court Cards represent the everyday; our physical and emotional
concerns, our environment, friends and relatives. The Major Arcana represent
our higher selves, the spiritual and the outside forces that influence our lives.
Many Tarot authors consider the Major Arcana to be the only important cards
in the deck, relegating the Minor Arcana to divination.
I have several books which address the Majors only relating them to Psychology,
Cabala, Numerology, Astrology, Alchemy, the Bible and Christian Hermeticism.
There are also many Majors only Tarot decks available on the market. These are
usually what I call "art decks", but they highlight the fact that
the Major Arcana can stand on it's own. I have never seen a Minors only deck
<G>. Some authors recommend you do readings with just the Major Arcana,
though it has been my experience that most querents seek answers to the everyday
problems they face, vice the spiritual ones.
Many beginning readers are somewhat afraid of the Major Arcana. I have seen
many posts saying "I got 6 Majors in my Celtic Cross, what does it mean?".
The Majors are nothing to fear. To me they indicate that powerful forces are
at work in the situation, some of which may be beyond your control.
Knowing they are at work however, helps you prepare to deal with them in the
most effective way possible. Some of the more frightening cards in the deck
are in the Majors. The Devil, Death, The Tower, usually present fearsome images
which we react to on a gut level. Again I want to emphasize that each card has
a full spectrum of meaning. The nurturing Empress can be a maternal tyrant,
The Devil has a fun side, and the drastic change indicated by the Tower is often
for the better in the long run. Keep these things in mind when we discuss the
These interpretations have been kept brief and simple. The symbolism of different
decks varies according to how the designer interprets each card. Each set of
Majors has it's own style and flavor. Use these interpretations as a jumping
off point for further study. Become familiar with the symbolism and idiosyncracies
of your own deck.
The Magician I
The Magician represents directing your energies to some purpose. He is creative,
skillfull, clever and capable. Most decks show the Magician with the four suits
somewhere in the picture, most commonly on a table before him. They represent
the four elements, the tools he uses to make magic. When we think of a Magician,
we commonly think of the rabbit in the hat trick or pulling a coin from ones
ear; the illusion of pulling something from thin air. The Tarot Magician does
the same thing, only it isn't illusion; he uses his knowledge, power, creativity
and force of will to transform the elements; to create. When you get this card
it is an indication that you are focused, confident, and ready for the task
at hand, or that you need to become so. It is a time of creativity and purposefulness.
The Magician is associated with the planet Mercury (communication), the musical
note E and the color yellow.
The word archetype is used in conjunction with Tarot to describe how the cards
fit into a universal symbology. Carl Jung developed the idea of the archetype
as a symbol which all human beings understand at birth. My dictionary defines
it as follows:
"2. (In Jungian psychology) an unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image
etc., inherited from the ancestors of the race and universally present in individual
psyches.". Some of the more common archetypes are "the shadow"
which represents things we fear or wish to deny in ourselves; "The
animus/anima which is the internal representation of the opposite sex (anima
-female within a male, animus - male within a female); "the wise old man",
"the great mother", "the trickster", and "the shaman".
Per Jung, every culture, society and individual recognizes these archetypical
figures. They are in our myths, our history and our legends. They have the ability
to elicit strong emotional reactions.
Tarot relies heavily on symbolism and pairing it with a system like the archetypes
was a natural. Do you need to understand the archetypes and Jungian psychology
to read Tarot? No you don't, but learning this material will give you additional
insights into the interpretation and meaning of the cards. I recommend you first
master the basic meanings of the cards. If you have a background in psychology
and are familiar with Jung, by all means use this knowledge to add depth to
your interpretations, but if you are not familiar with it, don't fret, there
are readers who know nothing about
archetypes and do quite well. The same can be said for Kabala, Astrology, Numerology
and other systems which are often linked with Tarot. Learning them adds depth,
but not knowing them will not prevent you from being a competent reader. Different
Tarot authors assign different archetypes to the various cards. I have seen
the Magician described as an aspect of the wise old man, an aspect of the trickster
and as an aspect of the shaman. Obviously any worthwhile discussion of this
subject is beyond the scope of this course. I am still learning about this subject
myself. I just wanted to mention it so that when you hear the word archetype
discussed in relation to Tarot, you have some idea of what is being talked about.
The High Priestess II
The High Priestess represents inner knowledge and wisdom. The card often shows
a woman seated or standing between two pillars, wearing a crescent Moon headdress
and sometimes bearing a scroll. She is wise, pure (virginal), and possesses
"hidden knowledge". Receptive and composed, she prefers seclusion
to the limelight, but she is willing to share her knowledge should the student
seek it. When you get this card it suggests that you already have the knowledge
necessary to deal with what faces you. It may be buried deep within you and
may be difficult to call to the surface, but it is there. You may be more receptive,
intuitive, or in touch with yourself at this time. The High Priestess is associated
with the Moon (mystery, intuition, compassion), the color blue and the musical
A significator is a card chosen from the deck to represent the querent, whether
it be you or someone else. Most commonly a Court Card is chosen, but some people
use a Major Arcana card and some just deal a card randomly from the deck. Some
spreads require a significator, some do not. Personally, if a significator is
called for, I just deal a card from the deck into that position, rather than
choosing a specific Court Card. Whatever card falls in that position represents
me or the querent in relation to the
question at hand. I feel pulling a specific card from the deck to use as a significator
removes that card and prevents it from being dealt into another position in
the spread where it might be more informative. Many readers feel a significator
provides focus to the spread however, and choose them carefully,
feeling that the deck will chose another card to convey the same message if
it is called for. In this, as in most things, you have to chose what feels right
This is a general purpose spread from the book "Tarot and Individuation",
which has 78 spreads in the appendix. It is similar to the Celtic Cross in scope,
but is linear, allowing the relationships to be more apparent, and shorter.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
· Card 1 - Distant past - the basic events and influences that may have
created the present outlook and attitude
· Card 2 - Immediate past - recent events that may have had a specific
influence and may be on their way out;
· Card 3 - Present influences - read with the previous card, it indicates
what may modify the present outlook;
· Card 4 - Present obstacles, hazards - even if a favorable card, in
this position (it) may mean a diversion from the true goal;
· Card 5 - Present outlook - usually an extension of cards 3 and 4, it
often indicates the way the current situation extends into the future;
· Card 6 - Future influences - a summary of all the preceding cards;
shows the way they combine to create coming events;
· Card 7 - Ultimate result; the culmination brought about by all the
preceding suggested interactions between past attitudes and the present.
The Empress III
The Empress represents the maternal. The card usually shows a woman (sometimes
pregnant) in a lush field or garden scene. She is fruitful, nurturing, creative
and has an appreciation of the finer things. She is indulgent and is in touch
with herself and her environment. When you get this card in a reading it is
an indication that you are or need to be nurturing or creative. It is a time
when you can bring ideas to fruition. The Empress is associated with the planet
Venus (love and beauty), the color green, the
musical note F#.
I have been including the color associated with each Major. Most color correspondences
are based on the Cabala, and they work well in terms of Tarot. Yellow (The Magician)
is a bright, vibrant happy color; Blue (The High Priestess) is cool and soothing;
Green (The Empress) suggests fertility and
abundance. Colors have the ability to affect our mood and thinking a few minutes
about the color associated with each Major Arcana card will give you clues about
the mood of the card.
The Emperor IV
The Emperor represents authority, a father figure, power, leadership, building,
protection, ambition, order, organization and confidence. He is usually depicted
as a stately looking older man on a throne. When you get the Emperor, it indicates
a need to set things in order, to organize and plan how
to meet your goals. It could be a time when your ambitions are driving you or
are being felt more keenly than usual. You are in a position to take charge
and guide things on their proper course. The planet associated with the Emperor
is Aries (action, assertion, courage), the color red, the musical note C.
This spread is a simplification of a 15 card spread. It is a good general purpose
spread which can be applied to a variety of situation or be used as a general
"where am I headed" spread. The spread is laid as follows:
2 1 3
Card 1 - The Significator
Card 2 - Inner Situation
Card 3 - Outer Situation
Card 4 - Direction things will take without outside intervention
Card 5 - Potential alternative action (what you can do to change the course
of the situation)
Card 6 - Information which will assist in the decision making process
Card 7 - Forces beyond control that can not be changed
If you have some time to spend, you can expand it to it's full 15 card configuration
13 9 5 4 8 12
2 1 3
14 10 6 7 11 15
Cards 1,2 and 3 remain the same, cards 4, 8 and 12 are read the same way as
card 4 was in the 7 card configuration, cards 5, 9 and 13 the same as 5 etc.
If you use the larger version, remember to look for the relationships between
The Hierophant V
The Hierophant is a teacher. He represents spiritual training and discipline,
convention, tradition and dogma. In older decks this card is called "The
Pope" (The High Priestess was called "The Papess" or female Pope").
In most decks this card depicts a male figure in religious robes, sometimes
with followers around him, sometimes not. When you get this card it could indicate
that you are bound in some way by tradition or orthodoxy. Perhaps it is time
to examine your belief system to see if it still serves your needs. Perhaps
you are seeking a teacher or leader, a new path to follow. The sign associated
with the Hierophant is Taurus, the color red-orange and the musical note C#.
Qabala, Cabala, Kabala, Qabalah, Kabbalah
The Qabala is a system of Jewish mysticism. Eliphas Levi, a 19th century occultist
was the first to link the Tarot with the Qabala, specifically linking the 22
letters of the Hebrew alphabet with the 22 Major
Arcana. Subsequent occultists siezed this idea and expanded upon it, including
A.E. Waite of the Waite-Smith or Rider deck, Paul Foster Case of B.O.T.A. (Builders
of the Adytum) and Aleister Crowley.
The major symbol in the Qabala is the Tree of Life. It is thought to be a blueprint
for the Universe. Most Tarot books have a picture of the tree and I believe
there is at least one available for download in the library here on CIS. The
Tree of life consists of four worlds, each of which corresponds to one of the
four Hebrew letters in the symbol for the name of God, IHVH. The four Worlds
Atziluth - The Archetypal World - This is the world of pure Spirit or pure
ideas. All other worlds originate here. It is assigned the element Fire and
corresponds to the letter I (Yod) in IHVH.
Briah - The Creative World - This is the world where the idea is given form
or a pattern. It is assigned the element water and corresponds to the first
letter H (Heh).
Yetzirah - The Formative World - This is the world where the pattern is given
expression. It is assigned the element air and corresponds to the letter V (Vau).
Assiah - The Active or Material World - This is the world where the idea is
given physical form. It also contains the unseen energies of matter. It is assigned
the element earth and corresponds to the second letter H (Heh).
The four suits and the four court cards are assigned to the four worlds.
Atziluth - Fire - Kings
Briah - Water - Queens
Yetzirah - Air - Knights
Assiah - Earth - Pages
Knowing these attributions will help you interpret the Court Cards. The King
of Wands for example is Fire of Fire (obviously a Firery personality!); the
King of Cups, Fire of Water etc. "The Witches Tarot" takes the assignments
one step further by using the attributes of each world as the way the court
card modifies the card following it (if you go back to the lesson which discusses
the Witches Tarot system, you'll see what I mean.
The Lovers VI
The most obvious meaning of the Lovers is a relationship, attraction or love,
however this is only a secondary meaning of the card. This card usually shows
a couple with an angel or Cupid overhead, however older decks often showed a
man standing between two women, looking as though he were
trying to chose between the two. This illustrates the primary meaning of the
card which is often overlooked. The Lovers represents a choice. It can also
represent the coming together of opposites. When you get this card it indicates
a choice. You must use your powers of discrimination to unite or
chose between two opposing energies. Included in this is the idea of relationships,
which are also a form of uniting two different energies.
The sign associated with the Lovers is Gemini (twins, duality, synthesis),
the color orange, the musical note D.
Qabala, Part 2
Each Major Arcana is associated with a Hebrew letter of the alphabet, although
different authors have made different assignments. A common (though not the
only) listing is given below:
Card Letter Meaning
Fool Aleph Ox
Magician Beth House
High Priestess Gimel Camel
Empress Daleth Door
Emperor Heh Window
Hierophant Vau Nail or Hook
Lovers Zain Sword
Chariot Cheth Fence
Strength Teth Serpent
Hermit Yod Open Hand
Wheel of Fortune Kaph Closed or Grasping Hand
Justice Lamed Ox Goad
Hanged Man Mem Water
Death Nun Fish
Temperance Samekh Prop
Devil Ayin Eye
Tower Peh Mouth
Star Tzaddi Fish hook
Moon Qoph Back of the Head
Sun Resh Head
Judgment Shin Tooth
World Tau Mark
Each letter also represents a Hebrew word. These words are also clues to the
meaning of the card. The Lovers for example is Zain or Sword. The sword is a
tool of division or separation and is viewed as cutting cleanly through to the
heart of the matter. It cuts off what is no longer necessary, thus it implies
a choice between what is to be kept and what is to be discarded. Amber Jayanti
calls it "the sword of discrimination".
If there is a card you want to know more about on an intuitive level, you can
try dreaming about the card. Before you go to sleep spend a few moments reading
about the card you wish to dream about. Pull the card from the deck and spend
a few moments looking at it. Close your eyes and try to recall the
details. Repeat if necessary until you feel comfortable that you have an impression
of the card in mind. Some people like to put the card under their pillow. You
may not dream of the card at first, it might take several days of repeating
this before you have a dream which includes the card. You may not
be successful at all, but if you do dream of the card, record everything that
happens in the dream in your Tarot Journal. The dream can give you some additional
insights into the card and what it means to you. The meaning may not be clear
to you at the time but don't fret, later events might shed some light on the
dream. That is why it is important to write it down.
Sometimes we dream of cards without trying. When this happens I try to see
how the card or cards play out in my life over the next few days. I also pay
particular attention to the cards dreamt of if they show up in subsequent readings.
Even if we can not figure out what the dream meant, just trying to interpret
what the dream meant is enlightening.
The Chariot VII
The Chariot represents controlled force, discipline and victory. It is a card
of confidence, action and will. This card usually shows an armored soldier riding
a chariot pulled by two horses or other creatures. He must push these creatures
to their fastest speed while maintaining control of them. When you get this
card in a reading it indicates controlling a situation though the strength of
your personality and will. You are marshalling all your forces towards victory.
It is a time for action and for moving ahead with your plans. It can also indicate
travel. The sign associated with the Chariot is Cancer (tenacious, compassionate),
the color orange-yellow and the musical note D.
Qabala Part III
The tree of Life is divided into three pillars; Severity, Mildness and Mercy.
On the pillars are arranged the ten Sephiroth. They are:
Kether - The Crown - Aces
Chokmah - Wisdom - Twos, Kings
Binah - Understanding - Threes, Queens
Chesed - Mercy - Fours
Geburah - Strength - Fives
Tiphareth - Beauty - Sixes, Knights
Netzach - Victory - Sevens
Hod - Splendor - Eights
Yesod - Foundation - Nines
Malkuth - The Kingdom - Tens, Pages
Each Sephiroth is on a pillar of the tree. They are arranged in such a way
that there are 22 paths between them. The Major Arcana have been assigned to
these paths. The Chariot for example, is assigned the path between Geburah (Strength)
and Binah (Understanding), both of which are on the Pillar of Severity. The
Sephiroth are the underpinning of the Minor Arcana interpretations. The fifth
Sephiroth (Strength), is the Sephiroth of destruction or tearing down. It's
influence is seen in the fives, which are all about strife and conflict, byproducts
of tearing down. Understanding the Sephiroth will help you to understand why
the Minors have the interpretations they have.
I will not bore you any further with the Qabala. As previously stated, it is
a subject to which one could devote a lifetime of study on it's own. It does
have a major influence on modern Tarot, however and now when you hear the terms
sephiroth, or paths, you will have an idea of what is being discussed. If you
wish to pursue this topic further, an excellent book is "Living the Tarot"
by Amber Jayanti. This book incorporates the Qabala into the interpretation
of the Major Arcana in a clear manner, and provides affirmations, personal anecdotes
from Jayanti and her students, and a series of questions for each Major card.
Strength represents the ability to persevere in the face of obstacles. It is
about subduing the passions or delaying pleasure for a higher goal. This card
usually depicts a woman with a Lion. She has no weapons, yet shows no fear or
apprehension. This card is not about physical strength, it is mental or spiritual
strength. When you get this card in a reading it can indicate the need to face
a situation and see it through to its conclusion. You may need courage and mental
strength to overcome something. The sign associated with Strength is Leo (protective,
bold, passionate), the color yellow, the musical note E.
A Tarot Exercise
This exercise is just an expansion of the technique used to dream about a card.
Chose a card that you like. Look at the card carefully and try to imprint the
details of the card on your mind. Close your eyes and see if you can recall
the card in detail. If not, try again. You may have to do this several times
to get all of the details. You will be surprised at the things you notice when
you do this that you hadn't noticed before. Once you can recall the card in
detail, put the card down and do something else. Periodically throughout the
day try to recall the card again. You can carry the card with you if you like
to check your progress, or wait till the end of the day, try once more and compare
Once you can recall the card easily and in detail the next step is entering
the card. To enter the card recall the card in your mind and place yourself
in the picture. This may take some practice, so don't be
disappointed if you have difficulty with this. Just keep trying. If there is
a person in the card you chose, try talking to him/her, if not, just look around
and enjoy the scenery. Note how you feel, what the weather is, any sounds, smells
or colors that stand out or any other detail that strikes you. Write down what
you have observed. Again, don't be discouraged if this doesn't come to you easily.
It didn't for me either. I find I can do it best when I am in a monotonous situation,
like riding (not driving!) on a long trip, or waiting for an appointment (I
am usually early and have to wait), or when lying in bed, before going to sleep.
The Hermit IX
The Hermit represents solitude, and inner work. The Hermit has withdrawn from
society in search of truth, whether it be spiritual truth or the truth about
himself. It can also represent a teacher or a guide. In most decks, the Hermit
is a solitary figure, often on a road with a lantern to light his way. When
you get this card in a reading it can indicate a need to withdraw, to take stock
and review where you are going and where you have been. It can also indicate
a preoccupation with details, a mastery of details, finding a teacher or guide
or being a guide for others. The sign associated with the Hermit is Virgo (practical,
productive, orderly), the color yellow-green and the musical note F.
Soothing Time Out
This exercise is from "Tarot for Everyday" by Cait Johnson (pg 111).
It is short, simple and comforting. You might want to sit on your bed or in
a comfortable chair. Breath deeply, close your eyes and relax. Pull 3 cards
from the deck at random and turn them over. Look for pictures of the problem,
advice on remedying the situation and general comfort.
The Wheel of Fortune X
The Wheel of Fortune represents karma, cycles and destiny. It can indicate a
change in fortune for the better or worse. Most decks show this card as a wheel
of some sort, though the designs around the wheel vary according to the deck.
When you get this card in a reading your luck may be ready to change,
usually for the better. It can mean a new opportunity is about to present itself,
or that an old project is about to take a turn. It could indicate an unexpected
windfall. This is a time to be flexible and alert for new opportunities in order
to take advantage of them. The Wheel of Fortune is associated with the planet
Jupiter (good fortune, rewards, opportunities), the color violet and the musical
The Celtic Cross
Yesterday I asked for each of us to draw a card as a contribution to a Celtic
Cross Spread. This spread has many variations, so many that when one says they
did a Celtic Cross, I always ask them what positions they used. I am listing
what is believed to be the original Celtic Cross, by A.E. Waite and
some variations for comparison.
A.E. Waite "The Pictorial Key to the Tarot"
1. What covers him.
2. What crosses him. 3 10
3. What crowns him. 6 1,2 5 9
4. What is beneath him. 4 8
5. What is behind him. 7
6. What is before him.
8. His house.
9. His hopes or fears
10. What will come.
Mary K. Greer "Tarot for Yourself"
1. What covers - general environment or atmosphere
2. What crosses - conflicts and obstacles
3. What is below - The foundation or basis of the situation
4. What is behind - The past
5. What is above - your goals 5 10
6. What is before - the future 4 1,2 6 9
7. You as you see yourself 3 8
8. Your environment (home, work family etc.) 7
9. Hopes and Fears
10. The outcome
James Wanless "Voyager Tarot" (This spread is called the Whole Self
1. Spirit: Archetypal Personality
2. Head: Mental State
3. Heart: Emotional State 7
4. Legs: Physical State 2
5. Left Side: Feminine 9 5 1,3 6 8
6. Right Side: Masculine 4
7. Finances 10
Justice usually indicates that a decision of some type will be or needs to be
made. It is a card of balance and equilibrium. In most decks the card shows
a woman holding a set of balancing scales. Interestingly she is not blindfolded
as the familiar statue is. When you get this card in a reading it can indicate
a decision of some sort. It can also indicate that the querent will be the facilitator
or judge in some issue. This is a time to be fair and even handed; to weigh
all the options and consider carefully before making a decision. The sign associated
with Justice is Libra (balance, harmony), the color green, the
musical note F#.
Whenever I lay a spread, I take a moment to look it over and see if anything
catches my eye. In the cards we drew, the first thing I noticed was a lot of
cups and wands, but only one pentacle. Since the question is about a career
change, I would expect to see more pentacles. In the Celtic Cross spread, the
first two cards (what covers and what crosses) are usually the most important
cards in the reading. Lets look at them.
1. What covers her: the general atmosphere or environment - The Hierophant.
Let's review what we know about the Hierophant:
· It is a Major Arcana Card, so it could represent outside forces beyond
· A teacher, leader or Guru
· Examining one's belief system
· Seeking a new leader or path
· Associated with Taurus: secure, practical sometimes obstinate and resistant
2. What covers her: obstacles or blocks in her path - 8 of Wands
· Things happening quickly
We don't know what Carla's present career is is, but looking at the first two
cards in this spread we could say several things about her present job situation:
The job is secure, probably pays well enough and she has built up a support
group or found a mentor. The workplace may be traditional and the company has
it's own ways of doing things; it's own dogma so to speak. Carla may not be
happy there, but she has probably grown comfortable.
The obstacle is energy, movement, activity, and things happening quickly. Perhaps
Carla feels that things are moving too slowly on her present job. She may not
be advancing as quickly as she would like. She may have ideas and plans for
which she can find no outlet. There is a block to her moving ahead. Conversely
this card could be interpreted as changes taking place in the workplace which
Carla finds unsettling. Things may be moving too quickly and she might be having
difficulty adjusting. The traditions she has grown comfortable with may be in
the process of being replaced with new and
unfamiliar ideas. We will decide which interpretation fits best as we interpret
the rest of the spread.
In these two cards we have a conflict - the Hierophant is a stuffy, slow to
change card and the 8 of wands is a fast moving, high energy card. Carla is
in a position where she has to decide which direction to take. This validates
and gives some background to her question: should she change careers?
Any other thoughts or interpretations would be welcome. We are doing this as
a group and the more ideas and points of view, the better. Please share your
thoughts on these first two cards.
A Tarot Tidbit
The Major Arcana represent many ideals which we can aspire to. The serenity
of the High Priestess, the creative will of the Magician, and the inner work
of the Hermit are just a few. If there is a card which represents ideals which
we would like to nurture in ourselves, it is sometime helpful to take this card
out and place it where we can see it frequently during the day as a reminder
of our aspirations. You can simply lay the card on your desk or work area, place
it on your bathroom mirror, put it on your refrigerator with a magnet, or even
matte and frame it elaborately. The idea is to place it where you will see it
often and to take a few moments when you see it to think about how you can manifest
it's qualities during the day. After a few days, you will notice the card's
qualities manifesting in your life more and more. Do this as long as you like,
and change cards when you have noticed a change or can see the qualities in
your day to day life. This is a kind of mini-meditation which gives good results
The Hanged Man XII
The Hanged Man represents a state of suspension. It can also represent self-sacrifice
or martyrdom. Most decks illustrate this card with a man (or woman) hanging
by his foot from a tree. In most decks, his facial expression is serene or even
smiling. This suggests that he is at peace with his position, even though it
appears awkward or painful to others. This card can mean unconventionality,
or marching to your own drummer. This is a time when things seem to be moving
slowly. You can allow yourself to become frustrated by this or you can use this
time wisely. The planet associated with the Hanged man is Neptune (gradual change,
dreams, visions and self sacrifice), the color dark blue, the musical note G#.
3. What is below - The foundation or basis of the situation - The World
We haven't discussed this card yet, but this is a happy card, a card of release,
of unlimited potential. Taken in conjunction with what we have so far, I would
say Carla has outgrown her present job and is ready to move on. She is feeling
stifled (Hierophant), impatient (8 of Wands) and longs for freedom to express
herself and fulfill her potential (The World).
4. What is behind - The past - Queen of Wands
This could be Carla, or it could be someone else. It is a woman who is self
confident, energetic, creative and enthusiastic. In the past position this could
represent Carla herself and the way she used to feel about her job. It could
also be someone who Carla knew and respected at her job who is no longer there.
I think it is Carla herself though. It fits with the other cards that way (she
was enthusiastic, but no longer feels that way). When in doubt, ask the querent.
5. What is above - your goals - 9 of Cups
This is the "wish" card. It represents satisfaction, and happiness.
Again in conjunction with the other cards it shows that Carla wants a feeling
of satisfaction from her work. She wants to be doing something she loves, rather
than just earning a living. She also wants to be compensated fairly for it.
6. What is before - the future - 4 of Wands R
The 4 of wands is inspiration, harmony, freedom and peace. I no longer read
reversed cards, but when I did I interpreted them as a subconscious wish, a
block or a delay. In this case subconscious wish doesn't seem to apply. The
wish is obviously conscious as shown by her goals. I would then interpret
this as a block or delay. Something is stopping Carla from reaching her goal.
We'll see if the other cards tell us what this could be.
Tarot and Crystals
The list is from the book "Tarot for Everyday" by Cait Johnson.
Wands - Amber, carnelian, citrine, diamond, garnet, gold, ruby, red tourmaline,
Swords - Agate, aventurine, feathers, mica, mottled jasper
Cups - Amethyst, aquamarine, azurite, moonstone, mother of pearl, pearl, sapphire,
seashells, selenium, silver, sodalite
Pentacles - Black Tourmaline, copper, emerald, fossils, geodes, granite, green
agate, green jasper, jade, hermatite, iron, jet, lodestone, malachite,obsidian,
onyx, peridot, roots
Possibly the most feared, hated and misunderstood cards in the Tarot, Death
represents change. It usually does not mean physical death, though it can. It
is about transformation, renewal, breaking free of old patterns and structures,
metamorphosis, letting go and growth. Most decks illustrate this card with a
skeleton, riding on a horse looking like the grim reaper. When you get this
card in a reading, it means that you are about to experience a change of some
sort. It is time to move on, to let go of the past and start fresh. This is
not a card of sudden, cataclysmic change, it is a slower, more gradual and natural
change. This change comes becomes you have been headed in this direction for
some time. It is the right way to go or thing to do. Change is often frightening
to us, but it is a necessary and natural part of life. I view this as a positive
card. I think of it as a butterfly emerging from it's cocoon, or the cycles
of the seasons; each has it's own time and it's own purpose and beauty. The
sign associated with Death is Scorpio (intensity,commitment, depth), the color
blue-green, the musical note G.
This is a subject that is hotly debated, but is really quite simple. As readers
we have an obligation to tell the truth as we see it in the cards. The querent
has come to you because they want to know something. I don't feel that it is
my place to decide what the querent can or can not handle. If I see negative
things, I tell the querent what I see, but I also look for ways the querent
can work with the problem to change or influence the outcome.
I often see questions about whether it is right to accept money for reading,
whether one should read for a 3rd party who is not present, or whether one should
discuss the 3 D's (death, divorce and 'dultery (adultery)), if not specifically
asked about them. These questions must be answered by each reader based on their
comfort level. What I feel comfortable doing may not be what you feel comfortable
doing. The key is to do what =you= think is right, not necessarily what you
think is best (we tend to want to spare the querents feelings and soften bad
news), but what you think you think is right in
accordance with your beliefs. I also think that readings should end on a positive
note. If you see bad things, tell the querent what you see, but also tell them
what they can do about it or why things are headed the way they are. Give them
the tools to change. This is why reading the whole spread and
looking for relationships between the cards is so important. You can show the
querent how things got to this point, and where they are headed if no change
or action is taken. Knowing what caused our present situation shows us how we
can prevent it's recurrence. We hopefully learn from our mistakes and you as
a reader are in an excellent position to point out things the querent can not
see because he/she is so close to the situation.
As for charging for a reading, I see nothing wrong with being compensated for
your time and effort whether it be by money, a loaf of homebaked bread or in
exchange for something else. Tarot is hard work. You have invested a lot of
time in study and practice. To be compensated in some
way is only fair IMHO.
Bottom line, be truthful to the querent and true to your beliefs. Reading for
others is not always fun or comfortable. It is a huge responsibility that should
not be taken lightly. What you tell the querent
will affect his/her life and probably the lives of those around him or her.
Keep this in mind.
Temperance represents a blending or melding together of diverse elements or
ideas. The card is usually illustrated with an angel holding two cups and pouring
liquid from one to the other. The angel usually has one foot on dry land and
one foot in the water. This card is usually a good indication that you are handling
things well. You are able to take diverse elements and make them work together
to form a stronger whole. You are adaptable, confident, flexible and are creating
harmony. This is also viewed as a card of healing, whether it be healing others
or yourself. The sign associated with Temperance is Sagittarius (reconciling
opposites, enthusiasm, optimism), the color blue, the musical note G.
7. You as you see yourself - Queen of Cups
Questioner (Queen Water/Cups) Receptivity: She's open to the flow of new ideas
and will winnow them out using her intuition and innate sensitivity. This *might*
point to heading into a field where she'll be able to use those traits as well
as her compassion. But I think it mainly relates to how she's
going to evaluate all the possibilities for change that the other cards highlight.
8. Your environment (home, work family etc.) - 10 of Swords
8. The Ten of Swords portrays the way that people close to Carla feel about
the possible forthcoming situation. They are not happy at all and feel that
Carla about to make a grave mistake. They are all very worried for her.
Tarot and Creativity
I believe that most people who are attracted to Tarot are creative in some way.
We are visually stimulated by the cards, they capture our imagination and speak
to us. Tarot has certainly enhanced my creativity. Here are some suggestions
for combining your creativity with your Tarot studies:
Draw your own deck - This sounds quite daunting: 78 pictures, but you don't
have to draw an entire deck. Start by drawing just your favorite cards. Try
making a Majors only deck. If you are like me and have difficulty with drawing
even stick people, you can color a deck rather than starting from scratch. The
following books have uncolored cards specifically designed for you to color:
"The Mythic Tarot Workbook", and "Living the Tarot". These
books both encourage you to color the pictures provided for this purpose. You
can also order a deck designed to be colored which comes complete with instructions
for doing so from B.O.T.A. (Builders of the Adytum), 5105 North Figueroa St,
Los Angeles CA. They make decks in two sizes for this purpose. You can also
Xerox cards from books just for coloring.
Writing - You can write short stories about particular cards, or spreads. You
can try your hand at poetry. Just writing in your Tarot journal is a form of
Crafts - You can make your own Tarot deck bags, or create a reading cloth,
perhaps with embroidery or cross stitch. You can decorate boxes to hold your
cards, make Tarot dolls, or design a Tarot card in quilt form.
Music - If you are musically trained you can try your hand at composing Tarot
Music. There is at least one tape of such music on the market, though I have
not heard it. Write a song about a card.
The Devil XV
Another card that makes many people uncomfortable, the Devil represents feeling
bound, oppressed or limited. Most decks illustrate this card with a fearful
looking creature, part man and part beast. There are also people in the card
who are chained or bound in some way. If you look closely though, the people
usually have a way to remove the chains. In the Waite-Smith card for example,
the couple's hands are free and the chain is loose enough around their necks
to be lifted over their heads. They are bound because they chose to be. This
card represents self imposed limitations, often due to fear. The
Devil can also represent addictions, all of the seven deadly sins (pride, greed,
gluttony, lust, envy, wrath and sloth), and deceit. We are often comfortable
with our problems and faults; they are familiar and safe. Breaking free entails
venturing into unknown territory. The Devil warns us to avoid excess, that many
of our limitations are self imposed and that we have the power to break free
and change things at any time. The sign associated with the Devil is Capricorn
( practical, materialistic, serious and cautious), the color indigo, the musical
9. Hopes and Fears - 7 of Cups
Hopes/Fears (7 Water/Cups) Projections: I'm not sure whether this is a hope,
a fear, or both. But reality may not be as it appears. Anything that looks too
good to be true probably is. Conversely, anything that looks awful is a cloud
with a silver lining.
10. The outcome - 7 of Pentacles
10. Finally, The Outcome - The seven of pentacles represents that there may
be a small financial reward if the opportunity is seized, however this may well
be at the cost of the present stability and happiness which Carla has so far
This works well also.It could indicate that Carla has decided not to make any
decision. She may just content herself with thinking about the change (7 of
cups) and may put off or delay making a move right now (7 of pentacles). A change
may jeapordize her present stability, but may be more rewarding to her, if not
financially, then at least in terms of her happiness.
Undercurrent - Child of Worlds (Page of Pentacles)
This card indicates that underlying these plans is a thought to practicality.
Carla is not going to do anything rash. She wants to do work that will satisfy
her creativity and be fulfilling, but she is not the type to disrupt everything
and everyone in this quest.
A Tarot Exercise
Over time we tend to change our views and interpretations of each cards. We
learn new things, hear other points of view and perhaps experience the card
in our lives. An interesting way to see this is to chose a card and think about
how this card applied to us at various points in our lives; as a child, as an
adolescent, as a young adult and right now. At each point in our life we see
that what that card stood for is a little different. As we progress in our studies
and become more experienced and practiced with the cards, we will continue to
see an evolution in what each card means to us. I would write this exercise
in my Tarot Journal and come back and look at it again in a few months. See
if you would change any of the experiences you related to the card in light
of your understanding at that point.
The Tower XVI
The Tower represents sudden change. This is not a natural gradual change like
Death, but a cataclysmic change which we are often unprepared for. Most decks
illustrate this card with a Tower being struck by lightening, with people falling
from it. When you get this card you can expect events to happen
quickly, usually to fast for you to do anything about them. Often associated
with loss, this card can signal a change in livelihood or lifestyle, a change
in beliefs changes from nature ( natural disasters). My mother always says "everything
happens for the best". The changes brought about by the Tower are
usually uncomfortable and unsettling, but they are survivable and will make
us stronger. The lightening, burns off what is not essential, forcing us to
make a fresh start. I always believe that the changes caused by the Tower are
in some way necessary to our growth. In the long term they help us, even though
it doesn't feel that way when they are happening. The planet associated with
the Tower is Mars (energy, action, self assertion, heat, violence), the color
scarlet red, the musical note C.
There has been a surge in the market recently of what I call "Tarot Paraphernalia".
I thought I'd mention a few of the things available. Most of these items are
from the "Pyramid Catalog".
Tarot Tray - A glass tray to sit your cards on. I don't know why you'd want
to do this, but if you do, it's available.
Tarot Stones - This is a set of 22 stones with simple glyphs representing the
Major Arcana. You pull the stones from the bag to make your spread rather than
use cards. The original release of this item was on black Marble, but the newer
version is on a purple stone or stone-like plastic.
High Priestess Mousepad - This is a mousepad for your computer desk with a picture
of the Waite-Smith High Priestess.
Tarot Decoder - This item is not available in the Pyramid catalog. It is a small
piece of folding plastic with Tarot card interpretations. There are wheels attached
with cut-outs and you rotate the wheel to the card you want to interpret and
read the interpretation through the cut out. I found it clumsy to use and the
interpretations trite, but it is available and it's easier to carry than a book
Tarot Card Tee Shirts - "Any image from the Rider-Waite deck on a 100%
cotton shirt! Full Color!" say the ad.
Tarot Card Counted Cross Stitch Patterns - Each Major Arcana of the Waite-Smith
deck is available separately or you can buy the entire set.
Tarot Software - There is a quite a bit available. Commercial programs include
"Virtual Tarot CD", "Cyber Tarot" by Harper Collins, a CD
Version of Axis Mundi's "Cyber Tarot" and a CD version of "World
of Tarot". There are also many shareware titles available including shareware
versions of Axis
Mundi's "Cyber Tarot" and "World of Tarot" (both are available
here on CIS).
I have a nice assortment of other shareware titles as well including an Egyptian
Tarot Card reading program, a couple of programs with original (though primitive)
Tarot art and a nice little learning tool that sits on your Windows Desktop
as a small icon. When you open it you can get the interpretation of any card
you need. It is not illustrated, but you can edit the interpretations to suit
yourself. It is sort of a memory aid.
Original Tarot Decks - There are a lot of limited edition Tarot decks being
produced. You need to subscribe to some Tarot publications to find them though.
I recently got a beautiful black and white deck done from linoleum block carving.
It is from a limited edition of 120 and was only $40.00, cheap
for original art in signed and numbered editions, particularly when you consider
that you get 78 pictures (or 22) ,vice 1 for the price. There are original decks
and cards available here on CIS as well.
The Star XVII
The Star is usually viewed as a positive card in any position in any spread.
The Star is a card of hope, renewal and inspiration. In most decks this card
shows a woman at the edge of a body of water with a pitcher. There is usually
a large star or group of stars in the background. She always looks serene and
peaceful. It signifies good health, serenity and peace. It can also represent
spiritual enlightenment. It is the light at the end of the tunnel. When you
get this card in a reading it means a period of optimism and well being. It
is a card of looking to the future. The sign associated with the Star is Aquarius
(new ideas, personal freedom, unconventionality), the color violet and the musical
Carla was kind enough to give us some feedback and we seem to have drawn the
right cards for her in her present situation. She had questions about the interpretation
of the outcome. Now that we have more information perhaps we should look at
it again. The 7 of pentacles can be a delay, a reward for work done (reaping
what you sow), patience or evaluating the results of your work. Since Carla
has just started this job, the 7 of pentacles probably indicates her future.
She will look back over his period with pride and and a sense of accomplishment.
Delay is probably not the best interpretation here. With her comments perhaps
a better interpretation would be having her dream job, yet being scared about
whether she could do it (7 of cups) and reaping the satisfaction of knowing
that she rose to the occasion and did a great job (7 of pentacles). I think
the disruption of stability still fits because Carla has probably had to make
some adjustments to juggle home, kids and the job. Because she is obviously
thrilled with her new job, she probably doesn't see the changes as onerous.
I would change my interpretation of the Page of Pentacles accordingly. She has
the practical skills necessary to make this
transition smoothly and with as little disruption as possible.
Were we doing this reading face to face with Carla, we would have been getting
feedback throughout and could have made corrections as we went. That is one
of the disadvantages of non-face to face readings. On the plus side, we have
had time to consider our interpretations carefully and at our leisure,
and to look at how the spread fit together as a whole. I have this spread under
the clear cover of my mousepad and have been looking at it for several days.
Tomorrow we will play with the spread to see what else we can glean from it
and we will probably summarize it the next day.
The Celtic Cross is usually considered to be a long term reading covering a
period of six months to a year. Throwing this spread everyday will probably
confuse more than clarify what is going on <G>. Mary Greer points points
out some interesting things in "Tarot for Yourself", though she doesn't
develop them. Per Greer, card 2 links cards 4 and 6. I see this as the things
in the past that have led to or created your present obstacle, and that coupled
with this obstacle will lead to the next turn of events if no action is taken
change the course of events. She also points out that card 1 links cards 3 and
5. I see this as where you are coming from (card 3), where you are now (card
1) and where you want to be (card 5).
I don't use significators, so I interpret card 1 as the querent. This card
is who the querent really is now, as opposed to card 7, which shows how the
querent views herself. Card 1 is her true, inner self, card 7 is the face she
shows the world. Another thing I sometimes do is to deal cards for the last
position until a Major Arcana card turns up. These cards are all parts of the
outcome and by dealing until I reach a Major Arcana I feel I am reading up to
the point where the outcome can no longer be influenced by the
querent; where things are out of her hands. I did not do that in this spread
in order to keep it simple. You can sometimes draw quite a few cards before
you get a Major. I use this method in freestyle spreads as well, dealing cards
for each position until I reach a Major Arcana. This method can make a simple
3 or 4 card spread quite full and revealing.
The Moon XVIII
The Moon represents mystery, the subconscious, the unknown, intuition and dreams.
In many decks this card depicts a night scene with two towers, two dogs, a lobster
climbing out of the ocean, and of course the Moon. Many people feel the Moon
is a somewhat sinister or negative card, but I prefer to
interpret it as getting in touch with your deepest self, facing your fears and
exploring the unknown. Many of us tend to shy away from our subconscious. We
are frightened of what we might find there. When we have what we perceive as
"negative" thoughts we try to push them back down under the surface
into the subconscious. Perhaps we should examine them before we shut them away.
determine why we think these thoughts and what they might mean. When you get
the Moon in a reading it can indicate that you are ready to explore the hidden
aspects of yourself. You can face your fears and examine them. This card can
indicate developing your intuitive or psychic powers, exploring your dreams
or fantasies, and exploring psychic realms by means of O.B.E., channeling, past
life regression or other means. This card can indicate a highly emotional period
when you may feel as if you are being pushed or pulled against your will. Some
interpret it as deception or disillusionment as well. The sign
associated with The Moon is Pisces (perceptive, imaginative, unworldly), the
color red-violet and the musical note B.
Another idea borrowed from "Tarot for Yourself" is permutations. Permutation
involve moving the cards from the spread into different positions and re-evaluating
them. She presents several ways of doing this, but the one I use is probably
the simplest. Once you have read the spread, separate the
cards into 5 piles, one for each suit and one for the Major Arcana. Then arrange
each pile into numerical sequence. When we do this with Carla's spread we get
4 of Wands (R), 8 of Wands, Queen of Wands
7 of Cups, 9 of Cups, Queen of Cups
10 of Swords
7 of pentacles, Page of Pentacles
The Hierophant, The World
Viewed this way we see freedom and creativity blocked or delayed (4 of wands
R) and a high energy and a desire for things to move more quickly (8 of wands).
These are aspects of Carla herself (the Queen of Wands).
Emotionally, Carla has dreams and hopes which seemed out of reach (7 of cups),
but which can be realized and satisfied (9 of Cups). These may indicate Carla's
emotions in this matter (Queen of Cups).
Mentally she feels a need for release and to start fresh (10 of swords)
Materially she wants to be rewarded monetarily, but that is secondary to her
desire for a feeling of accomplishment (7 of pentacles). She has the practicality
and stamina to make this transition smoothly and not be carried away by fantasy;
she is also highly capable, even though she is somewhat a
novice in her present field (Page of Pentacles).
Finally she felt constrained in the past (The Hierophant), but now feels free
The many Wands and Cups indicate that this is important to Carla on a spiritual
and emotional level. Although she has indicated that this job is a financial
necessity as well, I think the sense of accomplishment and self worth are even
more important to her. This is just one set of possible
interpretations. I like to do this at the end of a spread and use it as a summary
of the reading.
The Sun XIX
The Sun represents success, wholeness, joy, warmth, perfection. This card often
depicts a scene with a child or children. They are usually laughing and there
is a large sun in the background. This card usually signifies the beginnings
of a period of happiness and good fortune. The Sun is associated
with the astrological Sun (energy, power, life), the color orange and the musical
Here are a couple of interesting correspondence lists from "Tarot for Everyday"
by Cait Johnson.
Tarot and Clothing (Fabrics)
Wands - any fabric with a golden metallic sheen or warm color.
Swords - Chiffon, gauze, batiste, anything thin, sheer or floaty.
Cups - Irridescent or shiny brocades, satin, silk.
Pentacles - Fake fur, heavy linen or cotton, leather, velvet, wool.
Wands - Allspice, amber, bay, carnation, cinnamon, clove, frankinsence, ginger,
honeysuckle, lemon, myrrh, orange, sandalwood
Swords - lavender, mint, neroli, rosemary, sandalwood, thyme
Cups - eucalyptus, gardenia, jasmine, lavender, lilac, lotus, rose, musk, sandalwood,
Pentacles - cedar, cypress, honeysuckle, patchouli, pine, sandalwood.
If you are interested in Tarot and aromatherapy, Mary Greer has written an
entire book on the subject: "The Essence of Magick". It also discusses
herbology and Tarot.
Astrological Spread Variation
If you use the astrological spread (12 houses), you can get a much more detailed
reading by using the Majors approach I described previously. Deal the cards
for each house, then deal around the circle into each house until you get a
Major Arcana. Once a Major appears in a house, stop dealing cards into it. Keep
dealing around the circle until each house ends in a Major Arcana card. You
can read the cards in each house as a single group, or you can use each concentric
ring of cards to represent a time period; a week, a month, a season etc. This
is my favorite large spread which I usually do on New Years Day and my birthday
(since my birthday is in June, this works well).
Judgment represents resurrection, choosing a new direction, a judgment of some
type (legal decision, arbitration), repentance, apology, and possibly criticism.
This card is often depicted with an Angel blowing his trumpet and the dead rising
from the ground below him, reminiscent of "the last judgment".
When you get this card in a reading it can indicate that a decision has been
made or a course of action has been decided upon. It could indicate that you
have decided to make a commitment to change, to repent or to right wrongs which
you have committed or which have been committed against you. The planet associated
with Judgment is Pluto (transformation, changes, the underworld,
mysteries of life), the color red and the musical note C.
Creating your own Spreads
Many readers create their own spreads. You can do this by modifying an existing
spread, or design your own from scratch. Gail Fairfield in "Choice Centered
Tarot" provides some useful guidelines for designing your own spreads,
which I have borrowed from for this lesson. First you have to decide
what you want to know in general terms. Tarot questions are best framed with
the words "what, why or how" rather than questions that have yes/no
answers. Once you have decided what you want to know in general, break it down
into specific things you want to know about the general area. Then design a
spread to answer those specific questions. Determine the number of cards you
want for each question, the total number of card the spread will contain and
a shape for it if you like your spreads to have a particular shape. I like to
base spreads on a "past, present future theme" asking what past events
been important in this issue, where do things stand now and where are things
likely to head if no action is taken to change them. I might also ask what I
can do to influence events and what effects those actions will have on the outcome.
I might throw from one to three cards for each question, with more
for clarification if needed. Fairfield provides the following summary for designing
1. Discuss/brainstorm what the person wants to know in the form of questions
2. Organize what they want to know in a list of questions or issues.
3. Make adjustments to the questions/issues as needed adding new ones or rewording
what you have, until you and the readee both feel that you have the appropriate
questions and issues identified.
4. Draw out a layout plan for addressing the issues and questions, deciding
how many cards should be allocated for each one and deciding on a design shape
that appeals to both of you.
5. Number the layout positions on your plan.
The Blues Spread
4 5 6
Card 1 - Who I am right at this moment
Cards 2 & 3 - Why I'm feeling blue - the actual events that have made me
feel this way or the thought processes which have led me to this mood.
Cards 4,5 & 6 - Additional factors contributing to this mood - additional
issues that are contributing to this down feeling
Cards 7 & 8 - Activities for myself - things I can do right now to improve
this mood or take my mind off it
Card 9 - What I can look forward to or hope for - A thought about the future
to focus on, a dream or wish for the future.
Cards 7 & 8 are especially important for me because when I feel down, my
impulse is to go shopping! This spread has spared my checkbook more than once
The World XXI
The World represents the closing of a chapter and the start of a new one, completion,
victory over obstacles, freedom, and infinite potential. This card is usually
depicted as a woman dancing joyously in a wreath of some sort. When you get
this card in a reading it indicates that everything is falling into place for
you, things will come to a successful conclusion and end on a positive note.
The planet associate with The World is Saturn (loyalty, self discipline, hard
work), the color blue-violet and the musical note A.
A few more Spreads
The Horseshoe Spread
1 - Present position;
2 - Present expectations;
3 - The unexpected;
4 - The immediate future;
5 - Long term future.
This is a short and simple spread that can be modified by adding more cards
to each position. This is one of many, many Horseshoe shaped spreads.
The Six Card Cross
5 1,2 3
Cards 1 and two are laid out like the Celtic Cross, with card 2 crossing card
1 - The role the questioner plays in the current situation;
2 - The true nature of the situation;
3 - What created it;
4 - How it affects the questioner;
5 - Where it can lead;
6 - The key to the situation.
Four Card Spread
1 - One aspect or force at work in the situation;
2 - Another aspect or force at work;
3 - Critical assessment of the situation or attitude toward it;
4 - Decision based on all factors; prognosis.
The 5 Pointed Star Prosperity Spread
1 - What the universe can contribute to the querent's needs;
2 - What can help the questioner be relaxed and at ease;
3 - What will bring prosperity and contentment;
4 - What will counterbalance the questioner's negative feelings;
5 - What can provide rewards, positive feedback, reinforcement;
6 - What prosperity could mean to the questioner.
The Fool 0
The Fool represents being open to new experiences, spontaneity, curiosity, enthusiasm
and innocence. The Fool is usually shown as a youth on a journey, knapsack thrown
over his shoulder on a stick and sometimes ready to take a step off of a cliff.
There is some disagreement about the Fool's sequence in
the deck. Some authors feel it is card ), some feel it belongs between cards
21 and 22, and some feel that it is unnumbered and has no special sequence in
the Majors. The Fool has faith and trust in the Universe. He knows that he will
be provided for and that things will work themselves out along the way. When
you get this card in a reading, it indicates that you are ready to embark on
a journey of your own. You want to explore the world and discover it's secrets.
You are ready for a change and open to new experiences and ideas. The planet
associated with the Fool is Uranus (tears down established systems, individualistic,
independent, progressive), the color pale yellow and the musical note E.
This is the last lesson in the course, but I hope it is not the last Tarot study
you do. This course presents the ideas of myself and others. If you continue
your Tarot studies you will formulate your own ideas over time which will be
just as valid, in fact more valid than the ones presented here or in any other
class or book. Tarot is a fascinating tool which will reward the time you invest
in study and practice by allowing you to get in touch with yourself and the
universe around you. There are so many books, decks and ideas about Tarot that
you can never exhaust them or get through them all. I find
it a challenging discipline, but one that never ceases to fascinate and amaze
me. If nothing else, I hope this course has sparked your curiosity and thirst