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Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Lovers Revisited

This "reprint" from my "Journey Through My Tarot Decks" series seems like a good one for today, which is, of course, Valentine's Day.


In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. This week's card is The Lovers from Tarot of the Cat People by Karen Kuykendall.

I love cats, and I was always drawn to this deck when I saw it in shops or on line. Even so, I didn't pick it up right away. To me, there was just something "creepy" about some of the images. However, over time, the deck convinced me that we really should be together.

Tarot of the Cat People is based on a fictional world called the Outer Regions, created by artist Karen Kuykendall (1928-1998). Renowned science-fiction writer Andre Norton wrote a two-part fantasy novel based on Kuykendall‛s world – Mark of the Cat / Year of the Rat -- which I highly recommend.

In Kuykendall‛s tarot deck, the five kingdoms of the Outer Regions correspond with the Major Arcana and the four suits of the Minor Arcana. Throughout the Outer Regions, cats are loved, honored and even obeyed (just like at my house!).

In Tarot of the Cat People the Major Arcana cards belong to Vapala (Va-PAH-la), The Diamond Kingdom. This is the kingdom of the Sky People. Associated colors are sparkling whites and pastels. Earth equivalents are the Grand Canyon, Arizona, and Kenya. The people of Vapala are "formal, proud, regal ceremonious, snobbish, reserved, subtle, conservative, conformist, class-conscious, austere." Prosperous, stable, and technologically advanced, The Diamond Kingdom produces the most renowned philosophers and scholars of the Outer Regions.

Kuykendall views the Major Arcana as "the synthesis of all the cards in the deck." On Trump Six, we see lovers "enveloped in a single, all-embracing drape, symbolic of a union and harmony that is both physical and mental. The drape is loose and carefree. . . It has a circle pattern, symbolic of eternity." (Kuykendall) At the feet of the human lovers, their companion cats "echo their feelings."

The DMs (divinatory meanings) provided by Kuykendall include "Love. Beauty. Perfection. Harmony. Confidence. Trust. Honor. Beginning of a possible romance. . . The necessity of testing or of subjecting to trial." Reversed, the card can suggest "Failure to meet the test. Unreliability. Separation. Frustration in love and marriage. Interference by others. Fickleness. Untrustworthiness. Unwise plans."

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sherlock Holmes Card of the Day:The Hierophant (revisited)

Today I'm revisiting a long-ago "Card of the Day" from The Sherlock Holmes Tarot by John Matthews and Wil Kinghan (Sterling Ethos).


The Sherlock Holmes Tarot (Sterling Ethos)

I am a huge fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories by A. Conan Doyle, but in  this deck, The Hierophant is linked with The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, a novel written by American writer Nicholas Meyer in 1974. Published as a "lost manuscript" of the late Dr. John H. Watson, the novel focuses on Sherlock Holmes’ recovery from his addiction to cocaine. The title of the novel (and the card) is a reference to Holmes’ use of the drug in a seven-per-cent solution.

Keys for this card, upright, are: “revelation, inspiration, insight, tradition, preservation of heritage, initiation, advice or counsel, transformation of the mundane into the spiritual.” Reversed meanings: “rigidity, giving away too much, depending on institutional ways.”

The book that accompanies this deck also provides interpretations for each card under the headings “The Game” and “The Fog.” The former elaborates on the upright keys, while the latter expands on reversed meanings. An example from “The Game” for The Hierophant: “By transforming the mundane into the mystical, you suggest new ways to live.” An example from “The Fog”: “Be careful of seeming too self-important.”

In the book accompanying The Sherlock Holmes Tarot, the creators of the deck write: “While we in no way condone the use of such stimulants, the effect of the drug upon Holmes is a perfect metaphor for the opening of the consciousness to deeper and inner levels offered by the Hierophant.”

As the Card of the Day, The Hierophant may be alerting me to an opportunity to use my insights to inspire others, to transform the mundane into the mystical, or to mentor someone who is young or inexperienced. I am cautioned to be careful that I don’t attach too much importance to myself, that I avoid getting bogged down in rigid procedures, and that I refrain from projecting my ideas onto others. I need to find a way to preserve and honor tradition or heritage without being a slave to them.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Reincarnation Reading

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, I am willing to bet that you at least find the concept interesting, even fascinating. I think the perfect deck to use in an exploration of this theme is the Tarot of Reincarnation, designed by Massimiliano Filadoro (Lo Scarabeo).

Let’s get personal. I am going to ask this wonderful deck three important questions about myself: What was I in a past life? What am I now? What might I be in a future life?

Ready? Here we go!

What was I in a past life?

HAWK / Knave of Spades (Swords)

I was, perhaps, an actual hawk (very cool) or perhaps a human being who was able to identify his objectives, made quick decisions, and swiftly pursue those objectives. I may have been somewhat lacking in compassion, but I was also protective and may have had the role of guardian or messenger.

In The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing), the Hawk plays the role of the Knight of Winged Ones (Swords). He notes that hawks “spend three-fourths of their day perched somewhere observing the area around them, searching to detect the subtlest of movements, patiently waiting until the best moment to strike.”

What am I now? 

BEETLE / Two of Clubs (Wands)

I love the description of the card from the Little White Book (LWB): “External provocations that can push us to exaggerated reactions as well as reawaken hidden potential.” Which could mean that I act as an “external provocation” that pushes people “to exaggerated reactions” (oh yes, I can see that) or I am the sort of person who is pushed to exaggerated reactions by external provocations (yes, I can see that, too).

Ted Andrews chose the Beetle for his Seven of Shapeshifters (Cups) card. Andrews notes that the Beetle exhibits the energy of being on the right track, pursuing our goals, making decisions. The front wings on a beetle have thickened into hard covers that protect its underside – so we can also see this insect as an indication of being protected or shielded.

What might I be in a future life? 

DOG / Seven of Diamonds (Pentacles)

When I look at the illustration on this card, I do not see a dog. I see a fox or possibly a coyote. All three are canids, to be sure, but the symbolism is very different for each of them. The LWB states that this is a Dog, however, indicating that I might be either a dog in a future life or a person who exhibits the qualities of a dog: “blind faith in a person or idea, aggressiveness caused by stress” along with, I might add, loyalty, devotion, and companionship. I could be some man’s “best friend.”

As a child, I used to enjoy pretending to be a dog, crawling around the house, barking and panting. When auditions were held for The Wizard of Oz at the Junior Theater Guild, I wanted very much to play Toto. Instead, I was cast as the Wicked Witch of the West – a much meatier role, to be sure, and great fun for me. My point is that although I prefer to live with cats, I am very much drawn to dogs in all shapes and sizes. There is certainly a connection or “spark” that I feel around them. Precognition, perhaps? One never knows.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Animal Tarot Time: JUSTICE

For this series, I am exploring the choices of animals made by various deck creators to correspond to traditional Tarot cards. My initial goal is to get through the Major Arcana using cards from seven different decks:

  • Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
  • The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
  • The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
  • The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
  • The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
  • The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
  • Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

To read my previous posts in this series, enter “Animal Tarot Time” in the search field on the main page of the blog or scroll down and click on Animal Tarot Time under CATEGORIES.

As many of you know, the numbering of the Justice and Strength cards in the Tarot varies, depending on which deck you are using. For this post, I will be viewing Justice as Trump 8. Let’s look at how JUSTICE is portrayed in seven different animal decks.

Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)

(“Fair decisions will be made after all the evidence is reviewed impartially. 
Have compassion for others and try to see all side of a disagreement.”)

In this deck, the Elephant has been chosen to represent standing up for what we believe in as well as fighting for equality and fairness for all. To see this card in a reading suggests that if we are involved in a legal proceeding or situation where a resolution is required, we can be assured that a just decision will be made. Elephants symbolize strength, wisdom, longevity, and prosperity across a wide range of cultures and spiritual systems. It is also seen by many as a symbol of the qualities required for good government, such as dignity, intelligence, and prudence.

The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)

(“Balance is not just about being even. Balance is about finding the 
middle path or making it back to one’s center.”)

As you can see, in this deck, Justice is Trump 11. However, to be consistent with the animal symbolism, I will include it here. The red-capped Crane on this card is “standing his ground, wanting others to know that he cannot be swayed from his own mind.” Even as he does this, he keeps his emotions grounded and calm in order to continue to seek a balanced outcome, “a solution for the good of all and harm to none.” Like the Elephant (see description above), the Crane commonly symbolizes wisdom, fidelity, and longevity. Some cultures view the bird negatively (for example, in India, where it represents treachery).

The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)

(Bearer of Justice)
“Play fair, love true, live in harmony.”

As you can see, here we have another deck that assigns the number 11 to Justice. Keynotes for this card in this deck are “Balance, Truth, Honor, Integrity.” One argument for equating Justice (as key 11) with “Balance” is that the number 11 card is at the center of the Major Arcana, which consists of 21 Keys (plus The Fool, which is number Zero). Dawn Brunke writes that Justice suggests that “whatever is imbalanced will come to light. This could indicate legal issues, arbitration, or tough times if we ignore the call.” Brunke also notes that this card “advocates alignment between personal and sacred justice…”

The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)

“Ancient Powers of Justice at Work”

Another vote for Justice as Key 11. Oh well! In addition to the qualities I have already mentioned that are associated with the Elephant, Ted Andrews mentions the way a herd of elephants demonstrates “the ideals of true society.” He points to the Elephant’s trunk and its acute sense of small. He writes, “Those for whom Elephant has appeared would do well not to trust what they see, but what smells right – especially where important decisions are concerned.”

The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)

“judgement, balance, legalities, making decisions”

Well, obviously I should have done a quick check of these decks before going with The Animal Tarot Cards designation of Justice as Key 8. It’s Key 11 in The Animals Divine Tarot, and is represented (quite understandably) by Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. She is not an animal, of course, but the animal standing beside her on the card is an Ostrich. An ostrich feather was the attribute of Ma’at, and it was the ostrich’s feather against which the hearts of the dead were weighed to ascertain if they were heavy with sin. One reason for using an ostrich feather was that the feathers are of even length. Also, it didn’t hurt that the Ostrich was (and is) Africa’s largest bird. As with the Elephant, it appears that size does matter when it comes to animals representing the Justice card.

The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)

adaption, objectiveness, awareness, 
compassion, honour, understanding

Of course, Justice is Key 11 in this deck as well. (I am no longer surprised, if I ever was.) The Chimpanzee is an interesting animal to choose for this card. Instead of balanced scales, we see what appear to be two identical chimpanzees facing each other, touching palms. The image does suggest the idea of balance, equal sides, cooperation, and harmony. Joanna Cheung writes that this card can be about “a time to right wrongs, a time for change and balance.”

Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

“agreement, order; lack of freedom, prejudices and misconduct”

As in the Animal Tarot Cards deck, Justice is Key 8 in Lo Scarabeo’s Tarot of the Animal Lords. A female Barn Owl is featured on the card, holding scales in one hand and a sword in the other. This pose mimics the Rider-Waite-Smith card in that respect. The Owl, as most of us know, can symbolize wisdom and knowledge or it can have a sinister, even ferocious nature, as it did in many ancient cultures. Its association with intelligence comes from the Athenians, who made the Owl sacred to their goddess of wisdom and learning.

To summarize, we have:
Elephant – 3
Crane – 1
Ma’at (Ostrich) – 1
Chimpanzee -- 1
Barn Owl – 1

As I thought about the concept of “justice” in the animal world, I decided to do a quick search on line to see what I could find. I came across this _fascinating article_.

The article provides several interesting examples of how various animals have displayed “moral behavior, that they can be compassionate, empathic, altruistic, and fair.” I do lean towards the Elephant for the Justice card, but would love to hear what you think! Here are some photos I have taken of elephants on my travels.