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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inspired by the Tarot

Most of us have various passions, interests, and activities that occupy our time. Sometimes it can be fun when these passions intersect. I make jewelry and sell it on the internet through the online shop Jewelry by Scotti. Recently, I was trying to decide what jewelry project I wanted to do next. Calling on one of my other major interests, I consulted the Tarot.

The card I drew was THE EMPEROR from Ciro Marchetti's Legacy of the Divine deck (Llewellyn).

After sharing this on Facebook, I got some great suggestions about what sort of piece I should create:
TS: Maybe something made of horn or bone. He's wearing an ankh...maybe something with that. The colors you mentioned work, too. Or maybe something less feminine...maybe something in gold or brass, but not delicate. Also notice the sun behind him.
SC: Maybe some Dude Jewelry -- there is nothing for us to buy!
RI: Some serious bling!
HH: Something commanding, something fit for an Emperor or Empress to wear, something that demands attention when worn.
I decided that I would use materials that I already had on hand, which did limit my options somewhat. I also decided to make a necklace that could be worn by a man or woman. I had some large red agate nuggets, but was disappointed when I realized they all had flaws that rendered them unsuitable (in my opinion) as a focal bead. The next best thing were some red agate bamboo beads.

The Emperor card is often associated with the zodiac sign Aries, a Fire sign. Interpretation also usually emphasizes stability and authority. Therefore, I created a necklace that combines fiery red-orange and gold with solid, stable brown to create a blend of radiant confidence and unshakable reliability. Here is what I ended up with:

Red agate bamboo beads, carved olive wood beads, double-sided betel nut beads in black and mahogany, and 5mm dark wood beads form the foundation of this necklace, while shiny gold spacers and gold chain add a royal glow. The necklace can be adjusted from 18 to 20 inches.

It's not terribly flashy or brassy, but I feel it does reflect The Emperor's passion as well as his dignity and stability. Comments welcome!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Magic Wand Spread (by Zanna)

I developed this spread/exercise several years ago and recently came across it again. I'm going to post the spread here, and will hopefully post a sample reading with it later today!

Magic Wand Spread

For this exercise, pretend that the Ace of Wands is a magic wand. You will use it to help you answer the following question: What do I need to be more conscious of regarding myself, my work, other people (not family), and my family? (Keep in mind that work is whatever you consider work, not necessarily a job for an employer.)            

Take the Ace of Wands from the deck of your choice and place it face up. Then draw four more cards from the deck. Place them face up around the Ace in this manner:


1     ACE     3


Position 1: Self
Position 2: Work
Position 3: Others    
Position 4: Family

As you look at the cards in their positions, think about how the energy of the Ace of Wands might help you or hinder you in each case.

Please share your results with us!

My results with the Magic Wand Spread

My Question: What do I need to be more conscious of regarding myself, my work, other people (not family), and my family?

Using the Sharman-Caselli deck, I drew the following cards:

Position 1: Self

This card seems to encourage me to be more conscious of my successes as a person, in my various roles in life. We all fall short, disappoint, and outright fail from time to time, but dwelling on those times can be self-destructive and pointless.

The Ace of Wands in the center supports and reinforces the energy of the Four, giving a sense of confidence, enthusiasm, and optimism.

Position 2: Work

I usually see this card as a representation of wider horizons, efforts rewarded, and the completion of the first stage of an activity or endeavor. My "work" involves several different activities, and it's obvious to me that I am probably not going to excel at any of them to a large degree. I simply don't devote enough time and energy to any one thing. In fact, now that I think of it, I am currently pursuing THREE career paths -- writing, Tarot/Astrology, and jewelry making. With Wands being the suit of Career, this card may be telling me that I can make sufficient progress in all three areas.

As with the Four of Wands, the Ace is very supportive here, lending its magic to the successful achievement of goals represented in the Three.

Position 3: Others

For a minute, I thought I was going to draw all Wands for this reading! But no, here is the Four of Cups -- quite a departure from the energy and fiery coloring of the Ace, Four, and Three of Wands. It seems that where relationships with others are concerned, I am not as enthusiastic or optimistic as I am about Self and Work. I normally see the Four of Cups as a card of discontent or boredom. I some ways, I am dissatisfied with my relationships with others. I'm not a "social" person. I don't like group activities. I am usually uncomfortable and impatient with group dynamics. Yet I envy people who have a lot of friends, people that everyone seems to like. The Four of Cups suggests to me that I need to look up from my introspection on this subject and see what is really available to me, what is being offered by that hand coming out of the clouds!

The Ace of Wands is not supportive of the Four of Cups. Fire and Water are antagonistic toward each other. Yet Fire's influence on Water can be productive. Fire paired with Water creates steam, a powerful force.

Position 4: Family

Wow, another FOUR! This time is the suit of Swords. Typically I see this card as being about mental retreat or rest, a "time out" to think things through or recover from a stressful situation. About a month or so ago, I moved across country to be closer to several members of my family, including my elderly mother. I am now about 5 minutes from my mother after being hundreds of miles away for 10 years. This allows me to be available and accessible to her, which is actually a huge relief to me. I no longer have to worry and wonder at a distance. This may seem an odd way to interpret this card, but it makes sense to me.

As a Fire card, the Ace of Wands is compatible with the Four of Swords (Air). It is easier now for me to direct active energy toward family responsibilities, instead of fretting about my inability to be directly involved.

I find it interesting that I drew three FOURs in this reading. The number Four, to me, represents stability, security, structure, and practicality. I know it can also suggest stagnation, but in my case, I think recent developments have given me the more positive aspects of the number Four -- although the Four of Cups may indicate being stuck in an emotional rut where relationships are concerned.

Deck Credits:
The Sharman Caselli Tarot Deck
by Juliet Sharman Burke (Author), Giovanni Caselli (Illustrator). 
Packaged with The Complete Tarot Pack
Eddison Sadd Editions

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Five-Ten-Fifteen (a new spread by Zanna)

I like playing around with ideas for new spreads. I thought it would be fun to try something that involves turning over a certain number of cards rather than just choosing one at random. This is totally experimental, so feel free to give it a try yourself!

The purpose of this spread is to gain insight into a situation or problem. Once you have determined the question or area of life into which you seek insight, shuffle the deck of your choice using whatever method suits you.

Count down to the 5th card in the stack and turn it over. Count down to the 10th card after that and turn it over. Count down to the 15th card after that and turn it over. Is there a significance to five-ten-fifteen? I don't know. It just sounded good to me!

These three cards go into the following positions:

(1) Urgent. Deal with this right now.
(2) Important but not urgent. Can be set aside for now, but don't forget.
(3) Not important. Not urgent. Let it go. Forget it.

I guess I'd better take this for a trial run myself! My question is: What area(s) of life need my attention most right now?

Using the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg*, I pulled the following cards:

(1) Urgent. Deal with this now.
THE MOON: To me, this suggests a major emotional or subconscious issue that I need to deal with sooner rather than later. This could be revealed to me in dreams or through meditation. The key is to go beneath and beyond the surface to discover what lies deep within. It is possible that I am being deceived about something or that I am creating an illusion about something, refusing to see reality for what it is. Perhaps I am giving something a cursory glance when it requires in-depth investigation.

(2) Important but not urgent. Can be set aside for now, but don't forget. 
FOUR OF SWORDS: It is important for me to rest, to replenish myself  in the midst of busy-ness. This is not talking about getting a good night's sleep, although that's always a good idea. I feel this refers more to quieting my mind and putting myself in situations that renew my spirit and energy level.

(3) Not important. Not urgent. Let it go. Forget it.
THREE OF SWORDS: Some wounds heal more slowly than others. This one should have healed long ago but has not. It is time to stop giving this more importance and influence on my life than it deserves. Don't dwell on past injustices, hurts, and failures.

Well, that was very interesting! I hope you'll give this spread a try and let me know how it goes for you.

*Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg
Artist: Yury Shakov.
Copyright 1992 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Journey through My Decks: 9 of Cups (by Zanna)

In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring the NINE OF CUPS from the Millennium Tarot by Dorothy Simpson Krause (published by Viewpoint Studios).

In Dorothy Simpson Krause's Millennium Tarot (not to be confused with several other decks of the same or a similar name), the suit of Cups is the suit of love, intimacy, intuition, emotional energy, empathy, forgiveness, spirituality, and compassion. In the LWB (or LGB – little gold book), Marina Dubois writes that the question posed by the suit of Cups is "How can I help?"

The LWB does not identify the sources of the art depicted on the cards, nor does it discuss the various symbols used on the cards. All of the pips in the suit of Cups feature the same backdrop, which includes a ring that resembles an orbital path, with a solid circle at the top that could represent a full moon. At other positions on the ring are what appear to be moons in different phases (gibbous and crescent?). At the center of the ring is an orb that resembles the moon. Above it hangs what seems to be a mass of thick, gray clouds. The cups are ornate and heavy-looking. With their two handles, they remind me of "loving cups" – large ornamental vessels passed around at gatherings or, in modern times, given as awards or trophies.

I have no trouble making an association between the suit of Cups (linked with the element Water) and the Moon (ruler of the water sign Cancer). The Moon's association with emotions and intuition is well-established in astrology and elsewhere. The clouds, I think, could  represent the way emotions can create illusions and obscure reality. Clouds are also symbols of fertility (rain makes things grow). This, too, connects with the suit of Cups.

Book T* assigns the placement of Jupiter in Pisces to the Nine of Cups and gives it the title "The Lord of Material Happiness." It is described as suggesting "Complete and perfect realization of pleasure and happiness, almost perfect; self-praise, vanity, conceit. . . yet kind and lovable. . . High-minded, not easily satisfied with small and limited ideas." For Waite, the card indicates that "the future is. . . assured."

In my personal tarot system, Nines can indicate the basis for completion, endings, preparation (for a new cycle), growth through experience, perfection, integration, and fruition.

Dubois gives the following DMs for the Millennium Tarot Nine of Cups: "Spiritual and emotional good health. Prosperity and accomplishment, a balanced and happy time." Reversed: "Material success at the expense of healthy relationships and spiritual growth."

*Book T - The Tarot, Comprising Manuscripts N, O, P, Q, R, and an Unlettered Theoricus Adeptus Minor Instruction. A Description of the Cards of the Tarot with their Attributions; Including a Method of Divination by Their Use. A public domain manuscript.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five W's and an H

I thought it might be fun to try an exercise or "game" in which I use one Tarot card to answer the questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

As an additional requirement, each answer can be only one phrase or sentence. The idea is to respond intuitively, without a lot of description or explanation.

Using The Wizards Tarot (Llewellyn Publications), I shuffled and drew:


Who? Someone who is allowing fears and worries to rob them of sleep

What? Frightening thoughts that may not be founded in reality

When? During a time when doubts and fears flood your mind

Where? In your mind and in your way of perceiving things

Why? Because fears and worries -- whether real or not -- are getting in your way

How? By challenging your negative thoughts, you can put your fears through a "reality check."

I hope you'll share your reactions or insights into this card as possible answers to these questions!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Eight of Cups - Astrological Associations (by Zanna)

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve both a planet and a zodiac sign. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, some Tarot decks use a different set of associations. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations from deck to deck. The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is merely intended to be interesting and fun.

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.


Eight of Cups - Astrological Associations (by Zanna)

Tarot Dynamics System by Anna Burroughs Cook
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

In Anna Cook's TD system, cards 2 through 10 are known as Subject Cards. They are viewed as having a strong impact on our immediate agenda, on situations, moods, opportunities or obstacles that pass quickly. The number on the card reveals the situation. The suit and definition suggest the reason for the situation, along with options and the most beneficial approach to take.

The suit of Cups represents Emotion, including dreams and that which gives meaning to your life. This is a fairly standard Tarot association. The astrological aspect of this system comes into play when we start talking about the number on the card.

To interpret the number Eight, we can look at the astrological Eighth House, which is considered to be the house of death, regeneration, your partner's money, sexual attitudes, and occult studies. In general, the Eighth House is about transformation and the deeper mysteries in life.

The Eighth House is associated with the zodiac sign Scorpio (a fixed Water sign known for being sensual, secretive, emotionally intense, imaginative, and psychic). Scorpio's traditional ruler is Mars (representing energy, force, sexual desire, and aggression). Many modern astrologers assign rulership of Scorpio to Pluto (regenerative forces, destruction, transformation).

In the Tarot Dynamics system, Subject Card Eight stands for renovation. The TD system's keyword for Subject Card Eight is "Renovation". As mentioned above, the keyword for the suit of Cups is "Emotional." Thus we arrive as "Emotional/Renovation" for the Eight of Cups.

(Please note: There is more to the TD astrological connections than I have included here. My intention is to convey the basic flavor and tone. A much more detailed, comprehensive discussion will be provided in Anna Cook's forthcoming book, Advanced Tarot Dynamics.)

Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley
For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD), the Eight of Cups represents the energy of Saturn (discipline, restriction, responsibility) in Pisces (a Water sign ruled historically by Jupiter and/or Neptune, for many modern astrologers). Pisces is known as an emotional, romantic, impressionable, adaptable, imaginative, and intuitive sign. Crowley writes: "Pisces is calm but stagnant water; and Saturn deadens it completely." He titles the card "Indolence."

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "hardened, dead (Saturn) feelings (Pisces)."

One World Tarot by Crystal Love
Crystal Love associates the Eight of Cups with the first subdivision of the sign Pisces, with Jupiter/Neptune as the natural ruler and Saturn as the subruler. She writes: "The imaginative and sensitive sign of Pisces is given extra weight and responsibility by Saturn in the first subdivision. . . If the inspirational qualities of Pisces can be harnessed and disciplined constructively by Saturn, then poetry, art, music, and drama -- or dedication to a worthwhile cause or institution -- can be expressed extremely successfully."

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)
Thierens describes the Eight of Cups as follows: "On the Fourth house the Water of the soul will be in its own element, so to speak, and will consequently rejoice in its existence. . . Feelings, sentiments, wishes have very little chance of becoming reality in this house, and this may be called the true reason for 'leaving the house.'" In astrology, the Fourth house is associated with the zodiac sign Cancer, ruled by the Moon. It is described by astrology.com http://www.astrologyzine.com/what-is-a-house-in-astrology.shtml as the house of "Home, Nurture, and the Past." Joanna Martine Woolfolk tags the Fourth House as the "House of Beginnings and Home Life."

Thierens writes that the Eight of Cups can indicate "Leaving the house or home; changes in the family (-circle), little chance to see one's wishes and ambitions realised. Shyness, timidity. . . Despondency. . . No strongly preponderant feeling, unless it be that of dissatisfaction." (Note: The astrological system devised by Thierens is radically different from that of the OGD. I will not go into detail here, but will simply provide the astrological associations for the card under discussion. If you are interested in learning more about Thierens' system, I recommend his book Astrology and the Tarot.)

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann
Like the OGD, Mann's deck associates the suit of Cups with the element Water. Mann describes Cups Eight, Nine, and Ten as "The Pools of Pisces" and associates them with the time period from 19 February to 20 March. Cup Eight is assigned to the First Decan of Pisces -- Neptune in Pisces. It represents the time period from 19 February to 28 February.

On the King Scale of Color, the color linked with Neptune is pale green. The color for the sign Pisces is red-violet. Mann's keywords for Neptune are "divinity, idealism, spirituality, dreamlife, clairvoyance, sensitivity." For the sign Pisces, his keywords are "swelling seed; purifying rain; serenity; potential. Sensitivity; destiny; receptivity; self-sacrifice; psychic impulse; karma; seclusion; mysticism." Mann's divination meanings for Cup Eight include "separation from the outer world leads to artistic reverie, fantasies and idealistic visions which do not have a realistic foundation. . . craving alcohol, drugs and sex as an escape from dealing with self. Hidden pathological tendencies."

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel
Liz Hazel's suit of Cups is the suit of the Water element, embodying "emotions, feelings, relationships, love, as well as the nature and consequences of emotional attachments." The Eight of Cups represents Saturn/Pisces energy. Hazel's illustration depicts a silhouetted woman who "is having a really bad hair day. Her hands are in a pose that indicates agony and deep emotional distress." Eight cups surround her, "spilling poisonous, noxious fumes into the dark scene."

Hazel notes that this card can suggest "sorrow and emotional anguish about the past. . . emotional cleansing, ego attachments dissolved. . . penitence. . . siblings in trouble. . . downsizing." Ill-dignified, the card might indicate "deceptions, bitterness and regrets. . . A lonely older person. . . rejection, emotional abandonment."

In general, I typically see the Eights of the Tarot as representing movement or being held back from movement, mastery, an inquiring mind, power, regeneration, and magic.
The Saturn/Pisces designation for the Eight of Cups is the most common among the systems described above. Thierens, as usual, is different, proposing a link between the Eight of Cups and the Fourth House (Cancer/Moon). A.T. Mann goes with a Neptune/Pisces connection. An association with Water is common to all of the above-referenced sources.

In my experience, Pisces is a complex sign. Jupiter and Neptune express vastly different energies, although both can be linked with excessive, irrational behavior. Saturn represents the opposite type of energy in the form of restriction, limitation, and discipline. As Crowley and others have pointed out, a Saturn/Pisces combination is not a happy one.

As always, I welcome your comments!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

What? When? Where?

At Helen's suggestion, I am posting a reading I did with the What, When, Where spread she introduced a couple days ago on this blog. (Thanks, Helen! It's a great spread!)

Using The Wildwood Tarot, I decided to query about a book launch I need to plan and execute.

1: What should I do about the book launch I am planning?
NINE OF ARROWS (Dedication) - Well, this makes perfect sense, doesn't it? If I am going to try to make a success of this event, I need to employ discipline, skill, and hard work. On this card, the woman is protected by an invisible shield that deflects the arrows that are flying at her. She ignores them, focused on her own bow and arrow (perhaps on her inner journey). I need to focus on what I want to do and refuse to worry about obstacles or negative thoughts that threaten to derail me.

2: When should I do this?
SIX OF BOWS (Abundance) - According to the system on which this deck is based, the Time of Bows runs from 1 May to 1 August. I have already tentatively scheduled my event for July 9, which falls within this time frame. The Six of Bows is specifically about "enjoying the fruits and rewards of the summer season" -- and I think perhaps this suggests that I will reap rewards from this event later this year, perhaps in autumn.

3: Where should this take place?
FIVE OF VESSELS (Ecstasy) - If I take this card literally, this event should take place "in an ecstatic trance state." I don't think that's too likely or practical! But the card does suggest to me that in this case, "where" refers more to a state of mind or attitude than to a physical location. In other words, I have an opportunity to experience this event in whatever spiritual or emotional state I choose. I can seek to be energized, and to experience joy at a deep, fulfilling level.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Journey through My Decks: 8 of Cups (by Zanna)

In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring the EIGHT OF CHALICES from The Dragons Tarot by Manfredi Toraldo (artwork by Severino Baraldi, published by Lo Scarabeo).

"In the sky of the eight lakes,
the white dragon confronts the
boar dragon but nobody is
interested." (from the LWB)

Keyword: Indolence

As we can see by closely inspecting the image on this card, the people on the ground below the fighting dragons are going about their business, looking down or straight ahead. The action in the sky is apparently of little or no interest to them. Maybe they have seen such things many times before, or maybe they are completely absorbed in their everyday cares and responsibilities.

In keeping with the association between the suit of Chalices (Cups) and the element Water, we see several lakes in the landscape beneath the dragons.

My internet search for "boar dragon" netted (pun intended) several references to the creature as it appears in Chinese culture. According to this web page, "the dragon image coalesced into animal head and snake body in the Hongshan cultural period and remained unchanged until the Han dynasty, nearly 4,000 years later."

In Chinese astrology, the sign of the Boar (or Pig) is known for "scrupulousness, gallantry, sincerity, voluptuousness, culture, honesty, credulity, wrath, hesitation, materialism, gourmandism, and pigheadedness." The Dragon's characteristics include "strength, success, good health, enthusiasm, pluck, sentimentality, rigidity, mistrust, dissatisfaction, infatuation, braggadocio, and volubility." (from The New Astrology by Suzanne White, St. Martin's Press)

In Book T*, the Eight of Cups (Chalices) is called "The Lord of Abandoned Success" and is linked with the energy of Saturn in Pisces. Like Toraldo, Aleister Crowley titles the Eight of Cups "Indolence" in his Book of Thoth (Samuel Weiser, Inc). He writes: "Pisces is calm but stagnant water; and Saturn deadens it completely."

When I look at the Eight of Chalices in The Dragons Tarot, I can't help wondering if the people should be paying attention to the fight going on in the sky above them. Are they ignoring something important? Why? Will it matter to them which dragon wins? Do they assume the boar dragon will win? What if he doesn't? Or is it in their best interest to go about their daily activities and let the dragons fight it out?

* Book T, The Tarot, Comprising Manuscripts N, O, P, Q, R, and an Unlettered Theoricus Adeptus Minor Instruction. A Description of the Cards of the Tarot with their Attributions; Including a Method of Divination by Their Use. A public domain manuscript.