Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cards and Quotes: The Gryphon

Today's Cards and Quotes features THE GRYPHON from Madame Endora's Fortune Cards (Monolith Graphics; featuring art by Christine Filipak).


"It's all about as curious as it can be," said the Gryphon.
(Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)

Friday, December 21, 2012

REVIEW: Tarot of the Magicians

R E V I E W
 

Tarot of the Magicians
The Occult Symbols of the Major Arcana that Inspired Modern Tarot

Oswald Wirth, Introduction Mary K. Greer
Weiser Books
8 x 10; 256 pages; 22 4-color illustrated cards
ISBN: 9781578635313
February 1, 2013

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

Having recently acquired the Oswald Wirth Tarot (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.), I felt I simply must take a look at the latest reprinting of Wirth's book Tarot of the Magicians. 

Mary K. Greer's Introduction, written in March 2012, contains a wealth of information for those of us who know next to nothing about Wirth and his deck. Greer suggests that those who are new to the Tarot in general read only certain portions of the book at first, followed by reading the entire book from beginning to end. As a seasoned Tarot reader, I decided to read the book in the order it was written, from start to finish.

It's a lot to absorb, but if you are as keenly interested in the subject as I am, you will devour the pages in very few sittings. I was fascinated by Chapter 8: "The Programme of Initiation as Revealed by the Tarot" in which Wirth explains how each Major represents a stage of initiation. Equally fascinating are "The Tarot Seen in the Light of Hermetic Philosophy" (Chapter 9) and "The Masonic Harmonies in the Tarot."

On many occasions, Wirth's exploration of an individual Major Arcana card triggered an "aha!" moment for me that gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of that particular card. For example, I was able to relate better to The Pope (Hierophant) after reading these words: "The uprights of the pontifical chair represent. . . the two opposite poles in the sphere of faith: an anxious search for religious truth and confident adherence to the beliefs which are held respectable. . . Keeping the middle way between tradition on the right (rational theology) and the demands of the left (the feelings of pious souls) the Sovereign Pontiff adapts religious knowledge to the needs ot humble believers."

Of The Devil (arcana 15), Wirth writes: "Let us learn how to treat him fairly, not as a systematic and irreconcilable enemy, but as an inferior whose services are precious. Let us not forget that it is the Devil who makes us live in the material sense."

In "The Astronomical Tarot" (Chapter 4), Wirth provides associations that bear little if any resemblance to those used by Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn. For example, The Empress (arcana 3) is linked with the zodiac sign Virgo (Golden Dawn: Venus). Temperance (arcana 14) is linked with Aquarius (Golden Dawn: Sagittarius). The Tower (arcana 16) is linked with Scorpio (Golden Dawn: Mars). The Sun (arcana 19) is linked with Gemini (Golden Dawn: Leo).

In Chapter 15, "Consulting the Tarot," Wirth suggests a 5-card spread that I took for a spin here at Tarot Notes almost three years ago. Click HERE to read that blog entry.


Tarot of the Magicians is not an "easy read" or a "quick read." I don’t recommend it if you are not the studious type or you don't want to delve into the history, background, and symbolism of Wirth-style decks.

As Mary K. Greer points out in her Introduction to the book: "Most of today's Tarot readers come from a modern perspective that blends Jungian, Neopagan, New Thought, New Age, and earth-centered Eco-Spiritualism with New Physics and a sprinkling of Theosophical concepts in a kind of quasi-pantheistic idea of the immanence of Spirit in all beings and in nature." If you fall into that category, you need to understand that Oswald Wirth did not look at the Tarot that way. As Greer puts it: "The idea was to work with Nature but ultimately transcend it."

Those who have a thirst for knowledge and insight into "the great occult and metaphysical ideas that coalesced in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries" (Greer), will take delight in Tarot of the Magicians and refer to it for years to come.


[THE PUBLISHER'S] PRODUCT SUMMARY

"Tarot of the Magicians by Swiss occultist artist and author Oswald Wirth was first published in Paris in 1927, and a Weiser edition was later released in 1985. The Weiser edition is a direct translation and the first and only English-language edition of this important work.

Long unavailable, the book is back in print in a beautiful new package with full-color pull-out cards reproducing Wirth's 1889 tarot deck. With a new introduction by bestselling tarot author Mary K. Greer, Tarot of the Magicians offers tarot enthusiasts and students of the occult an in-depth and authoritative analysis of one of the most beautiful and evocative of all modern tarot decks."

THE AUTHOR

Oswald Wirth (1860-1943) was a Swiss occultist, artist and author. He was a student of Eliphas Levi and was mentored by Stanislas de Guaita.

Mary K. Greer is a Grandmaster of the American Tarot Association and teaches workshops and classes on Tarot and astrology throughout the U.S. and abroad. She is the author of several books, including 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card and Tarot for Your Self. This book is a revision of Mary Greer’s Tarot Constellations.

BASIC INFORMATION

This 256-page book measures 8 x 10 inches. Pages are cream-colored, nice quality stock. Illustrations are black and white.

In the back of the book, the Major Arcana cards from the 1889 Wirth deck are printed in color on thin cardstock. Pages are perforated for easy removal, but you will need to use scissors or a paper cutter to cut out each card. Cut-out cards will have a solid red back.

Contents include:
  • Introduction by Mary K. Greer
  • Author's Preface
  • Author's Introduction
  • Part One (The Tarot)
  • Part Two (The Symbolism of the Twenty-Two Keys to the Secret Knowledge of the Middle Ages - contains 2-3 pages on each Major Arcana card)
  • Part Three (Resume and Recapitulation)
  • Part Four (The Tarot as Applied to Divination)
  • Appendix
  • References
  • Wirth and Wirth-Inspired Decks

Mary K. Greer's Introduction contains the following subsections:
  • The Man and the Deck
  • The Tarot Chapel
  • Sacred Symbols
  • Transcendental Magic and the Astral Light
  • Making the Invisible Visible
  • For Tarot Newbies: How to Read this Book
  • The Meditation Patterns
  • Divination

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Talent and Career Potential Reading

from Numerology: Key to the Tarot by Sandor Konraad (Whitford Press)


On page 185 of Sandor Konraad's detailed and fascinating book Numerology: Key to the Tarot I came across a Talent and Career Potential spread that I just had to try.

I am doing this spread as a "retrospective" spread in a sense, because I'm pretty sure I already know where my talents lie and which careers I might be most suited for. My purpose in doing this reading is more to check my experience and understanding against the information the cards provide.

Layout
3....6....9
2....5....8
1....4....7

Each positional definition describes the career potential associated with its respective number.

(1) Writing, teaching, communications, innovative career
(2) The theatre, diplomacy service occupations
(3) The creative arts and sciences, particularly music, anything expressive or creative, including parenting
(4) Clerks, bookkeepers, psychotherapists, health-related vocations, detailed work of any kind
(5) Politics, guidance work, bartending, glamour jobs, work involving much travel or adventure, any job where there is tactile gratification
(6) Commerce, garden-variety jobs, selling, collecting, home management
(7) Religious, spiritual or occult calling; research, any profession involving food
(8) Law, banking, The Power Structure
(9) Humanitarian service, social work, people-oriented enterprises on a grand scale

------------------------------
Using the Mystic Dreamer Tarot (Llewellyn Publications; art by Heidi Darras), I drew the following cards:

(1) Writing, teaching, communications, innovative career

THREE OF CUPS
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-Three-of-Cups-45393792

My keywords for the number 3: creativity, synthesis, initial completion, expansion

In her book The Dreamer's Journal (Llewellyn Publications), Barbara Moore describes this card as "an all around good omen in financial, relationship, work, or spiritual concerns." I certainly agree with that interpretation in this case. From earliest childhood, I wanted to be a writer, and I have held many jobs where my writing was a major factor. I have written 10 books that have been published by mainstream publishers. I have also worked in Marketing and Communications. The joyous tone of the Three of Cups clearly represents the fact that I have always enjoyed using my writing talents in my work.

(2) The theatre, diplomacy service occupations

THE EMPRESS (Trump 3), reversed
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-The-Empress-43932019

My keywords for the number 3: creativity, synthesis, initial completion, expansion

My first reaction here is "uh oh, not a good career choice." An upside down Empress can suggest blocks or delays in the areas of creativity, synthesis, or expansion. I did enjoy acting in a few plays in school, but I never saw myself as having a career in that field. Diplomacy service doesn't sound attractive to me at all.

(3) The creative arts and sciences, particularly music, anything expressive or creative, including parenting

KNIGHT OF WANDS*, reversed
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/tarot-Knight-of-Wands-70897282

My keywords for the number 3: creativity, synthesis, initial completion, expansion

Interesting. Music has always been a major interest of mine. I play piano and guitar. In my younger days, I wrote a lot of songs and performed them in public. However, the reversed position of the Knight of Wands suggests to me that these would not be the best careers for the expression of my creativity.

Barbara Moore writes that this card reversed can represent someone who "always has to be center of attention." I confess that my interest in writing and performing music declined as I grew older and realized that nobody seemed to think I was "all that good." At least that was my perception based on the comments (or lack thereof). As far as parenting, I was extremely reluctant to become a parent, partly because I was concerned that I was too self-involved to do a good job! My (now adult) children seem to think I did okay...

* The Court Cards present a bit of a challenge from a numerology standpoint. The Mystic Dreamer deck follows the Rider-Waite-Smith model (as opposed to the Thoth model) for the Courts: Page, Knight, Queen, King. I confess that I use a very simplistic method for assigning numbers to the Courts.
  • Page = 11 or 2 (1+1)
  • Knight = 12 or 3 (1+2)
  • Queen = 13 or 4 (1+3)
  • King = 14 or 5 (1+4)

(4) Clerks, bookkeepers, psychotherapists, health-related vocations, detailed work of any kind

TWO OF CUPS, reversed
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-Two-of-Cups-44871980

My keywords for the number 2: relationships, harmony, unity, balancing polarities

The Two of Cups reversed suggests to me that the occupations listed above might not help me create balance, unity, or harmony in my life. Barbara Moore writes of this card reversed that it "can indicate a union or partnership that in theory or on paper should be amazing, but the reality is that there is just no emotional connection." The fact is, I am a detail-oriented person, which served me well in my jobs as a secretary for various employers. But that sort of work -- while fulfilling in the sense that I do it well and I know I do it well -- is not satisfying emotionally.

(5) Politics, guidance work, bartending, glamour jobs, work involving much travel or adventure, any job where there is tactile gratification

KING OF WANDS*, reversed
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-King-of-Wands-73186166

My keywords for the number 5: restlessness, adventurousness, flexibility

While the occupations listed above might have provided travel, adventure, or tactile gratification, the King of Wands reversed suggests to me that these careers might not have been a good choice for me. Barbara Moore notes that the King of Wands reversed can represent someone who is demanding, impatient, and tyrannical, perhaps with anger issues. This suggests to me that the occupations listed above would not be suitable for me, perhaps because I would desire or expect more attention and control than I would be given in those jobs.

* The Court Cards present a bit of a challenge from a numerology standpoint. The Mystic Dreamer deck follows the Rider-Waite-Smith model (as opposed to the Thoth model) for the Courts: Page, Knight, Queen, King. I confess that I use a very simplistic method for assigning numbers to the Courts.
  • Page = 11 or 2 (1+1)
  • Knight = 12 or 3 (1+2)
  • Queen = 13 or 4 (1+3)
  • King = 14 or 5 (1+4)

(6) Commerce, garden-variety jobs, selling, collecting, home management

FIVE OF WANDS
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-Five-of-Wands-47684542

My keywords for the number 5: restlessness, adventurousness, flexibility

A few keywords for this card from Barbara Moore: "combat, competition, strife." I don't know about "garden-variety jobs," but I have always had a strong aversion to selling. I absolutely hate being expected to convince people they want or need something they don't actually want or need. Unfortunately, being self-employed means that I am selling myself and my services, whether I like it or not. And it is stressful for me. I feel the competition keenly, and I am not comfortable with it.

(7) Religious, spiritual or occult calling; research, any profession involving food

TWO OF WANDS, reversed
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-Two-of-Wands-44730835

My keywords for the number 2: relationships, harmony, unity, balancing polarities

I'm not quite sure what to do with this. Having chosen to be a Tarot reader and astrologer, I clearly feel a "spiritual or occult calling." And I truly enjoy doing research. Barbara Moore writes that the Two of Wands reversed can indicate being "unable or unwilling to make a choice," or "being faced with two unappealing choices and feeling forced to pick the lesser of two evils." I'm going to have to give this one more thought.

(8) Law, banking, The Power Structure
FOUR OF PENTACLES

Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-Four-of-Pentacles-46767506

My keywords for the number 4: stability, security, hard work

I have worked in both banking and law -- in clerical or secretarial positions. In both jobs my bosses told me I should consider those professions (lawyer, banker) because I would do well in them. Too bad I had no desire to be a lawyer or banker! I do wonder if I had gone into one of those fields, if I would have become the miserly person depicted on this card, focused on controlling things and making money.

(9) Humanitarian service, social work, people-oriented enterprises on a grand scale

THREE OF PENTACLES
Link to picture of card: http://azurylipfe.deviantart.com/art/Tarot-Three-of-Pentacles-45550446

My keywords for the number 3: creativity, synthesis, initial completion, expansion

This card seems to indicate that the occupations listed above would suit me well, especially in terms of personal fulfillment and recognition. It is satisfying to feel that my work "helps people." I like using astrology and Tarot to help people deal with or address challenging situations in their lives. It's not quite the same thing as "social work" and maybe I don't operate on a "grand scale," but what I do certainly is "people-oriented."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In the Stars: Transiting Venus square Natal Pluto

Tomorrow, transiting Venus (in Scorpio) squares my natal Pluto (in Leo).


Quick Primer/Refresher
  • Venus is the planet of love, beauty, relationships, values, and art.
  • Scorpio is a Fixed Water sign, the sign of desire, transformation, and power, known for being imaginative, passionate, and intense; ruled by Mars and Pluto.
  • Venus is in its detriment (ill dignified) in Scorpio.
  • Pluto is the planet* of regenerative forces, destruction, and transformation.
  • Leo is a Fixed Fire sign, a sign of creativity, exuberance, generosity, pride, and charisma; ruled by the Sun.
  • The square aspect occurs when two planets or luminaries are at a 90 degree angle to each other. This is considered a difficult aspect. I usually remember that by thinking of the expression "square off against."

* Yes, I am aware that in 2006 a group of astronomers re-classified Pluto as a "dwarf planet" (as opposed to a "regular" planet). My view of this is the same as that of _Astrodienst_: "The understanding which astrologers have gained about the astrological effect of Pluto since its discovery in 1930 is not changed by the new astronomical definition. The meaning of Pluto in the horoscope remains the same."

In Tarot terms (using my attributions, based primarily on those of the Golden Dawn) this transit gives us The Empress under the influence of Death in conflict with Judgment under the influence of The Sun.

The Rider Tarot Deck (U.S. Games Systems)

Venus is in its detriment in Scorpio, which in Tarot terms means that The Empress is not comfortable under the influence of Death. It's easy for me to see why a card that typically represents birth and creation might not be entirely happy under the influence of a card that typically represents death and destruction (even though that death and destruction can lead to transformation). All you have to do is look at the two cards to observe the stark contrast in mood and tone.



So we have Venus (The Empress) in its detriment in Scorpio (Death), a sign ruled by Pluto AND on December 7 in my chart, transiting Venus (The Empress) is square (in conflict with) Pluto itself (Judgment). Both Pluto and Judgment point to endings as part of a cycle of birth, death, and resurrection. The Judgment card lets us know that we have an opportunity to make a wise decision about something that needs to be allowed to "die" to make way for a second chance or fresh start.

What we have in this particular Venus-Pluto square is an uncomfortable situation all around. There is a sense of energies chafing or grating or bumping up against each other in an unfriendly manner -- a sort of shoving match or "this town ain't big enough for both of us" attitude. As mentioned above, Pluto is in Leo in my birth chart. Pluto's influence is generational rather than personal -- it can stay in one sign for years -- but we have to take into account that the combination of Pluto's power with Leo's pride and self-interest creates a picture that is often far from pretty.

In his book Planets in Transit (Whitford Press), astrologer Robert Hand describes Venus-square-Pluto energy as follows: "At its best this transit can signify intense emotional experiences within a relationship." He adds: "You may become aware of changes occurring in a relationship to which you will be forced to accommodate. They cannot be ignored, because a real breakdown in your relationship would result." In other words, trying to cling to the status quo is just not going to work, and may have the opposite effect from what I desire.

Here's what this might sound like:

The Empress (Venus): "I'm so happy and comfortable sitting here in my idyllic garden surrounded by beautiful plants and sunny skies. I don't want to change a thing."

Judgment (Pluto): "Wake up and smell the coffee, lady. Whose house do you think you're in? Scorpio is my sign. Death is my domain. I couldn't care less about your comfort level. You need to get up off that throne and make some changes."

The Empress: "But it's such a lovely, sunny day, and I just want to stay right here..."

Judgment: "Not gonna happen, babe. Mr. Sun over here is tired of shining down on your lazy, complacent self. Are you gonna initiate transformation on your own, or do I have to give you a push?"

Venus: "Why, you're just a big, mean old bully!"

Judgment: "What's your point?"

And so it goes. It will be interesting to see how this energy expresses itself in my life!

I may need some assistance. I asked my Rider-Waite-Smith deck: "What will help me deal with this difficult transit?" The answer: SEVEN OF PENTACLES (Saturn in Taurus / The World, The Hierophant).


Okay. I'll keep both feet on the ground, assess the situation carefully, and acknowledge that much has been accomplished thusfar. (I have to love that Taurus is ruled by Venus...) A traditional, grounded approach is my best bet.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Words from the Wise: Nature's Wisdom Oracle

Today's Words from the Wise are delivered by the FROG from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle by Mindy Lighthipe (Schiffer Publishing). To read my interview with this deck, click _HERE_.



"In ancient Chinese tales and legends, the toad is a trickster and a magician,
a master of escapes and spells. In ancient Egypt, the water goddess Heket
appeared as a woman with the head of a frog."
(from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle guidebook)

Words from the Wise:
Look before you leap but having looked,
don't be afraid to leap!