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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Assens-Flornoy Pyramid Spread - Greer Version

Today I am being quite adventurous (for me) and making a run at a potentially 22-card spread called The Assens-Flornoy Pyramid Spread. I encountered the spread in a blog post by Mary K. Greer: https://marykgreer.com/2018/08/27/the-cadillac-of-readings-the-pyramid-spread/
From Mary’s post: “Jean-Claude Flornoy’s book Seeing the World: Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception (translated from the French by David Vine), features what Flornoy describes as “the cadillac of readings… Flornoy was a French artist and tarotist who died in 2011. He was the foremost recreator of the earliest French tarot decks beginning with the Jean Noblet deck (Paris, 1650)… What thrilled me most was Flornoy’s introduction to a spread concept I hadn’t seen before that he learned from Parisian Jean Assens. With David Vine’s permission I’m presenting it here.”
Mary Greer modified the spread somewhat, and I am choosing to use her version.

Directions for the Spread (from Mary K. Greer)

1. Using only the Major Arcana, ask your question, then shuffle and lay out all 22 cards, face down, in the 21-position pyramid layout (see below) beginning on the bottom left. The positions are the same as the Major Arcana laid out in numerical order, but you’ll be putting face down cards from your shuffled deck into each position, in order from 1 to 21 plus one card that lies outside the pyramid.

21
19..20
………………..16..17..18……….22/0
12..13..14..15
7….8….9…10…11
1….2….3….4….5….6

2. The final, 22nd, card goes on the right; Flornoy called it the “Outside Card.” You start by interpreting this Outside Card in relation to the question.

3. The next card to be turned over should be the card in the pyramid layout that corresponds to the number of the Outside Card. For instance, if you get 9-Hermit as the Outside Card, then the next card you turn face up will be the card in the 9th position. If that card is 6-Lovers, first you interpret it, and then you turn up the card in the 6th position, and so on, interpreting each card as you go.

4. Continue until you turn up The Fool. As The Fool has no number, the reading stops here.

You may reveal, in total, as few as two or three cards or almost the entire Major Arcana! Unrevealed cards are either in their own position or form their own group of mutually linked cards. You don’t look at or read the unrevealed cards at all.

Flornoy says that if you need more information you can pull supplemental cards from a second deck (but he doesn’t explain what you do with these).

In Mary’s version, she takes the archetypal card’s position into consideration. This is similar to reading an astrological planet in its “house” in a chart. To ascribe uniqueness to each item in the pair, she thinks of the preceding card as asking a question of the card that lands in its position.

My question is: What would be a good way to go about solving this problem?

I start by laying out out all 22 of the Major Arcana cards in The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti (Llewellyn Publications). To see more of Ciro's fabulous work, click here: https://www.ciromarchetti.com/

Below you will see all of the cards I turned over, followed by descriptions and interpretations.

The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
(Llewellyn Publications)

Card 22: THE EMPEROR (4)
This card is all about structure, stability, order, rules, and control.

The question it asks of the next card is: “How, why, or in what area will an increase in structure and stability help me solve this problem?”
Answer (from the card in position 4): THE MOON (18), reversed
I am currently not seeing clearly or being led astray in some way. What I think I see is not what is actually there. Structure and stability can help me put my feelings and subconscious impulses in context, into a framework so they can be given direction and purpose.
Question asked by The Moon of the next card (in position 18): “What is it that I need to see more clearly? Where am I being led astray?”
Answer (from the card in position 18): THE HERMIT (9), reversed
By withdrawing and focusing too much within, I am not seeing life on the outside of myself clearly. If I focus on searching too long, I may not assume the leadership-guide role The Hermit represents because I am not aware of where and how I can fulfill that role.
Question asked by The Hermit of the next card (in position 9): “What will help me focus inward less and reach out more?”
Answer (from the card in position 9): THE HANGING MAN (12), reversed
In order to focus inward less and reach out more, I need to focus less on my own inner counsel and seek the wisdom of others. I might also want to focus less on the physical, material world and adopt a completely different perspective, “above the ground.”
Question asked by The Hanging Man of the next card (in position 12): “What will help me adopt a different perspective?”
Answer (from the card in position 12): THE EMPRESS (3), reversed
What will help me adopt a different perspective about solving this problem is to stop trying to do too much too fast, stop obsessing over how much “growth” or “progress” I see from day to day. Accept a slower, more gradual pace and understand that forward motion is not always possible or even desirable.
Question asked by The Empress of the next card (in position 3): “Where should my focus be if not on constant growth and progress?”
Answer (from the card in position 3): WHEEL OF FORTUNE (10), reversed
I need to focus on staying centered (in the middle of the Wheel) rather than on the rise and fall of my position or on trying to spin The Wheel faster. Sometimes The Wheel turns in reverse, covering old ground or putting a different “spin” on things. I can remain stable and centered the whole time.
Question asked by The Wheel of Fortune of the next card (in position 10): “What sign will show me I am on the right path towards solving this problem?”
Answer (from the card in position 10): THE HIGH PRIESTESS (2)
My sign will be a sense of knowing based on intuition, inspiration, and inner illumination. I will be aware of this sense of knowing no matter where I am or what I am doing. 
Question asked by The High Priestess of the next card (in position 2): “Once I receive this sign, what should be my next step?”
Answer (from the card in position 2): TEMPERANCE (14)
Once I receive the sign symbolized by The High Priestess, my next step should be to bring my life into balance, to seek moderation in all areas of my life, and to bring my internal beliefs into harmony with my external actions.
Question asked by Temperance of the next card (in position 14): “What will help me achieve balance and moderation?”
Answer (from the card in position 14): THE MAGICIAN (1)
Using all the tools available to me – physical, spiritual, emotional, mental – to channel energy from “above” to “below” will help me achieve balance and moderation. I am capable of doing this. Everything I need is available.
Question asked by The Magician of the next card (in position 1): “What will help me increase my skill with the tools available for my use in solving this problem?”
Answer (from the card in position 1): JUDGEMENT (20), reversed
What will help me increase my skill is to stop judging myself based on other people’s standards, to stop holding back or hanging back due to a fear of failure or not “measuring up” to someone else’s expectations. Stop over-judging everything I do.
Question asked by Judgement of the next card (in position 20): “How can I stop over-judging myself based on other people’s expectations?”
Answer (from the card in position 20): STRENGTH (8)
I can stop over-judging myself based on other people’s expectations if I accept, acknowledge, and continue to remind myself that I have more strength, power, and courage than I realize – and any “base desires” can be channeled and used productively rather than being allowed to control me.
Question asked by Strength of the next card (in position 8): “What will help me gently and confidently bring my ‘higher” and ‘lower’ natures into mutually supportive harmony?”
Answer (from the card in position 8): JUSTICE (11), reversed
What will help me gently and confidently bring my “higher” and “lower” natures into mutually supportive harmony is to accept and acknowledge that I have made and continue to make mistakes and poor decisions that affect my present and future. Life has not always been fair, and neither have I. 
Question asked by Justice of the next card (in position 11): “What will help me make wise, fair decisions going forward?”
Answer (from the card in position 11): THE LOVERS (6), reversed
I am more likely to make wise, fair decisions and choices going forward if I consider all the facets of a situation before committing to a particular course of action. I need to avoid letting one element of a choice overshadow everything else. I must weigh the pros and cons with equal emphasis on reason and emotions.
Question asked by The Lovers of the next card (in position 6): “How will making the best, wisest decision or choice affect the problem I am trying to solve?”
Answer (from the card in position 6): THE TOWER (16)
Making the best, wisest decision or choice will contribute to the destruction of a false foundation or the loss of something that was relied upon too heavily and perhaps foolishly. On the surface, this doesn’t sound pretty, and it may not be. Even so, if my decision or choice prompts needed changes that were likely to occur anyway, that could help lessen the chaos somewhat.
Question asked by The Tower of the next card (in position 16): “What can I build upon the ruins of The Tower?”
Answer (from the card in position 16): THE HIEROPHANT (5)
Upon the ruins of The Tower I can build new structures based on tradition and spiritual knowledge that has been previously established. There can be value in taking a conventional, established approach to a problem once the debris of a failed system or approach has been cleared away.
Question asked by The Hierophant of the next card (in position 5): “How can I honor and incorporate tradition and convention without becoming legalistic or inflexible?”
Answer (from the card in position 5): THE SUN (19)
I can honor and incorporate tradition and convention without becoming legalistic or inflexible by being constantly aware of the vastness of the Universe, its layers of meanings, its workings, and its power. By seeking to be one with the Universe, I will not be likely to narrow my views to the point of dogmatic conviction.
Question asked by The Sun of the next card (in position 19): “How can I come closer to becoming one with the Universe?”
Answer (from the card in position 19): THE STAR (17), reversed
I can come closer to becoming one with the Universe if I trust in the Universe, have faith, and never give up hope. 
Question asked by The Star of the next card (in position 17): “What will help me remain optimistic about my connection to the Universe?”
Answer (from the card in position 17): THE WORLD (21), reversed
What will help me remain optimistic about my connection to the Universe is to realize and accept that setbacks and missteps are possible even when one is connected to the Universe. Just because something doesn’t come to a nice, round, successful completion doesn’t mean contact with the Universe has been lost or destroyed. That connection can help me discover what went wrong and how to fix it.
Question asked by The World of the next card (in position 21): “How can I improve my chances of completing my goal of bringing the problem to a successful conclusion?”
Answer (from the card in position 21): DEATH (13), reversed
I can improve my chances of completing my goal of bringing the problem to a successful conclusion by letting go of old, outworn ideas and by welcoming change and transformation. I need to avoid playing any part in efforts to stall or prevent that change.
Question asked by Death of the next card (in position 13): “What will help me let go of old, outworn ideas?”
Answer (from the card in position 13): THE CHARIOT (7)
Exercising willpower and control will help me let go of old, outworn ideas. A key part of this is to resolve conflicting energies within myself such as the mind and emotions. I need to know that I am in charge of where I go and what I keep with me and what I discard.
Question asked by The Chariot of the next card (in position 7): “How can I harness conflicting energies and get them to pull together?”
Answer (from the card in position 7): THE FOOL (The End!)
I can harness conflicting energies and get them to pull together by taking a leap of faith and perhaps a bit of a calculated risk as well. Various approaches may succeed or fail, but I won’t know until I try.
Wow, I turned over every card except one (THE DEVIL, reversed) before I got to the end of my reading. It appears that the problem I mentioned in my original question is not likely to be solved quickly or easily. But then, I asked “What would be a GOOD way to go about solving this problem?” not what would be a QUICK way or an EASY way.

Many thanks to Mary K. Greer for sharing this spread with her modification. It took me on quite a journey (basically The Fool’s Journey, minus The Devil and in random order!) Here is the link to Mary’s blog post again: https://marykgreer.com/2018/08/27/the-cadillac-of-readings-the-pyramid-spread/


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sun Sign Astrology vs Birth Chart Transits

As a professional astrologer, I am not going to defend "Sun Sign Astrology" (the method used to write horoscopes, like the ones you see in the newspaper or on line). To say that everyone born with the Sun in Libra, for example, will have the same experience on any given day is, of course, pretty silly. Nevertheless, I do write Sun Sign horoscopes and I do not feel they are completely without value.

Let's look at my Sun Sign horoscope for today -- September 9, 2018. When I was born, the Sun was in Sagittarius. Here is the horoscope I wrote for today for Sagittarius at _Tell My Tarot_:
Your public persona and social responsibilities are in the limelight today, dear Sagittarius, as the New Moon in your solar 10th house offers energy to take a new approach in those areas of your life. Aspects favor finances (strong instincts and common sense prevail) and health (you may be attracted to an unusual approach).
My initial comments about the New Moon being in the "solar 10th house" are based on a method that assigns house numbers to signs. The New Moon is in Virgo. For a Sagittarius Sun Sign horoscope, we look at Sagittarius as being the First House. We go counter-clockwise around the zodiac wheel until we come to Virgo, counting Sagittarius as First House, Capricorn as 2nd House, Aquarius as 3rd House, and so forth. Using this method, Virgo is the 10th House for someone with a Sagittarius Sun Sign.


In astrology, the 10th house is the house of career, public reputation, status, social responsibilities, and people in authority. Therefore, in my Sun Sign horoscope for Sagittarius, I mentioned "public persona and social responsibilities" as the area where the New Moon would make itself known to a Sagittarius. The "new energy" I mentioned comes with the New Moon, no matter which house it is in.

However, as I mentioned above, in my birth chart, the New Moon (in Virgo) is in my 12th House. This is interesting because Virgo is actually my rising sign, so you would think that the New Moon would be in my 1st House. But it isn't, because my ascendant is around 22 degrees Virgo, and the New Moon is at about 5 degrees Virgo, which is in my 12th house.

Whereas the 10th house is a very public house, the 12th is a very private house. It typically refers to "secrets and self-undoing," sacrifices, karmic lessons, what we know subconsciously, and institutions (where people are confined or hidden from the public).

In the Sun Sign horoscope for the sign Libra today, the New Moon is in the solar 12th house. I wrote:
Today, dear Libra, the New Moon in your solar 12th house today presents you with an opportunity to take a new approach to the secret, private areas in your life. 
Rather than ignore my Sun Sign horoscope, I am choosing to consider it along with the transit Moon in my birth chart. How do the two areas of my life (10th house and 12th house) conflict with or complement each other? What influence do they have on each other? How might a new approach or path related to one of them affect the other? And what am I going to do about it, if anything?

If you know where the New Moon is in your birth chart, check your Sun Sign horoscope at _Tell My Tarot_ and let me know what you can do with the information about both houses (or maybe it will be the same house in both!)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Past Life, Present Influence with The Celtic Dragon Tarot

A student in one of my classes at _The Magickal Circle School_ recently mentioned The Celtic Dragon Tarot by D.J. Conway and Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Publications), and that made me realize that’s it has been a long time since I did a reading with that deck. It was one of the first Tarot decks I acquired long, long ago, and I’ve always loved it.

Today, I’m going to use a spread provided in the guidebook that came with this deck. This 9-card spread is called “Past Life, Present Influence,” and its purpose is to explore how traits or conditions from a past life or lives may have affected my present life at physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional levels.

The layout looks like this:


I did not ask a specific question for this reading. Instead, I am looking more at my overall state in general, past and present.

(1) Present face the inquirer shows to the world: FIVE OF WANDS


The “face” I show to the world is that of a person who is experiencing obstacles or opposition from within or without, someone who is struggling to get past obstacles or opposition to a place where I no longer compete with others, no longer feel the need to defend myself, and no longer resent someone else’s success.

(2) Past physical state affecting the question: KING OF WANDS


In a past life or lives, it appears that I was physically quite strong and powerful. I may have actually been a king or, at the very least, someone who could take command of situations and forge ahead with vigor.

(3) Present physical state: THE SUN


This card also suggests power and strength, but in a little bit different way from the King of Wands. My present physical state is such that I am able to enjoy life, feeling free to experience positive happenings. At my age, I do have my share of physical problems, but The Sun card indicates that I am far from “weak” or vulnerable physically.

(4) Past mental state affecting the question: FOUR OF PENTACLES


In a past life or lives, my mental state apparently consisted of a focus on material or financial matters and security. I was very “money oriented” or oriented towards the material world. This sort of mental state is quite limiting and confining, not helpful to stretching or expanding the mind.

(5) Present mental state: THE STAR


In this life, my mental state is oriented towards the spiritual aspects of life, towards things that cannot be grasped in the hand or hoarded like money. I am therefore more likely to be aware of opportunities and possibilities, the effects of unseen energy and universal power.

(6) Past spiritual state affecting the question: QUEEN OF CUPS


In a past life or lives, my spiritual state was psychic in nature, highly sensitive and in touch with my subconscious and linked closely with intuition.

(7) Present spiritual state: THE MOON


With some of the same energy at the Queen of Cups, the Moon represents spirituality in tune with dreams, intuition, and psychic experiences. However, there is also the chance of creating or believing in illusions or deceit. My dreams may have no foundation in reality; my imagination may be running wild.

(8) Past emotional state affecting the question: THE TOWER


In a past life or lives, my emotional state was apparently chaotic, discordant, and even destructive. I went through a process of breakdown and rebuilding due to a shocking event or catastrophe.

(9) Present emotional state: TEN OF PENTACLES


In this life, my emotional state is much more stable and secure – almost the opposite end of the spectrum from The Tower. The suit of Pentacles does represent the physical, material world, but can also refer to values in general and resources such as time and talents. I am at the peak of emotional health, confident, stable, and happy.

Let’s look at these cards in two sets: past life (lives) and present. Three of the cards (King of Wands, Four of Pentacles, Queen of Cups) represent to me a state of being in control or wanting to be in control at a physical, mental, and spiritual level. The Tower, in stark contrast, is about loss of control, chaos, and “falling apart” at an emotional level.

In the present, the face I show the world is affected by obstacles and opposition, forces competing against each other, a lack of coordination and cooperation. In contrast, my physical, mental, and emotional state (Sun, Star, 10 of Pentacles) all seem positive and solid. The Moon (spiritual state) does suggest the possibility of deception or illusion, not seeing things clearly, being fooled by my own imagination.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Animal Tarot Time: The Hierophant

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)

Let’s look at how THE HIEROPHANT is portrayed in these seven decks.

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

UNITY / POLAR BEAR (“Embrace this time of deep spiritual growth.”)

As someone who (childishly, perhaps) dislikes The Hierophant card in many decks, I am mollified somewhat by this use of the polar bear. Powerful, beautiful, and potentially deadly, polar bears rule the ice kingdom where they live, a kingdom of snow and freezing temperatures and – oh yes – the astonishing and breathtaking aurora borealis (“northern lights”). The tiny butterfly shown on the card hints at transformation and “eternal life,” while the polar bear facing us appears quite friendly and wise. I like the “Unity” title, which manages to expand the traditional “Christians-only” message of many Hierophant cards to include other spiritual paths.

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

POLAR BEAR (“I have faith that I am being who I was always meant to be, doing what I was destined to do, in the right place, in the right time. And so too should you.”)

On this version of the Polar Bear/Hierophant, we see this majestic creature with a “northern lights” backdrop, along with two keys, said to symbolize a balance between the conscious and subconscious minds (the inner and outer worlds), the keys to heaven (Keys of the Kingdom), heaven and earth, and so forth.

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

BULL / KEEPER OF SACRED TRADITION: “Honor the wisdom of experience.”

I like this choice for The Hierophant, which reflects its astrological association with the zodiac sign Taurus, the bull (according to the Order of the Golden Dawn system). Even though spirituality is above, beyond, or “outside” earthly matters, there is perhaps still a need to be grounded in some ways. In this deck, the Bull is seen to mediate between heaven and earth, serving as “oracle and guardian of temple entryways.” Here we see value in finding truth and inspiration through tradition and the guidance of elders, while avoiding the traps of rote patterns or fixed dogma.


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

WHITE CRANE: “Longevity, honor, and spiritual justice.”

Ted Andrews points out that the crane, being a wading bird, “moves between water and the land, earth and sky. . . between worlds, between realms, between times…” What we have here is not just “longevity” but ancient knowledge and teaching that dates back to the beginnings of spiritual experience.


The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)

THE HIGH PRIEST / GANESHA: “teacher, greater awareness, education”

In the Hindu faith, Ganesha is the god of wisdom, knowledge, and the arts. He typically represents good fortune. His presence at the threshold of houses and sanctuaries is said to impede potential obstacles.

The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)


STOAT: “purity, focus, truth, loyalty, understanding, knowledge”

Although Cheung does not explain her choice of the stoat to represent The Hierophant, it is interesting to note that stoats – similar to weasels, ermines, minks, and ferrets – are known for their stealth, cunning, cleverness, and keen observation skills. I confess I am struggling to sync this up with traditional meanings for The Hierophant, but Cheung writes that the Stoat/Hierophant “is the link between realms, able to bring worlds together in harmony… the vessel of knowledge and the keeper of order and peace.”

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

REINDEER: “Modesty, religiousness, wisdom, grievance, intolerance, broken promises.”

This deck does not explain the choices made for each card or other symbolism on the cards. Deer in general are well-known symbols of spirituality, regeneration, and creativity. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols tells us: “The role of the reindeer is nocturnal and funerary and that of conductor of souls.” In the physical world, reindeer survive in a brutal environment, which speaks to their hardiness and strength.

To summarize, we have:
Polar Bear – 2 decks
Bull – 1
Crane – 1
Ganesha (Elephant) – 1
Stoat – 1
Reindeer - 1

Which one do you like the best? Which one do you think works best as “The Hierophant”?