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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Reading by Zanna

My Halloween Reading using Helen's spread - Tales from the Graveyard
Deck: Elemental Tarot
(artwork by Marco Turini, published by Lo Scarabeo)

1: Grave Stone ~ What do you keep buried?
I agree with Babs -- when I saw this positional definition, my first thought was, "I don't want to know." But I shall take a deep breath and bravely proceed. The suit of Pentacles is the suit of Earth (appropriate for being BURIED in...) The 5 of Pentacles in this deck shows water washing seeds away, suggesting erosion that occurs little by little. There is a sense of loss and of losing here, even if I can't quite define or explain what has been lost. Perhaps what I keep buried is that, in fact, I feel lost or alone or displaced -- cast adrift and abandoned.

2: Lighted candle: How can you bring it to light?
Lots of light on this card! That will help bring things to light, I guess. Linked with the element Fire, the suit of Wands is usually about passion, inspiration, and creativity. The LWB for this deck says of the 10 of Wands: "Inspiration understood. The energy of everything in the Universe is connected. You have access to all that you will ever need." It is this connection, then, that can help bring to light the feelings of loss or being lost that I keep buried.

3: In The Beat of a Heart: How do you get to the heart of the matter?
The Empress is a fine candidate for this job. She typically represents Creativity, giving birth to one's own creations. On this card she is bathed in gold, her hands transect what seem to be beams of light. The light of the Universe illuminates the right path. She can get to the heart of the matter with compassion and kindness.

4: Graveyard Shadows: How do you stop this casting a shadow on you?
Associated with the element Water, the suit of Chalices relates to love and relationships. Its energy connects and binds. The LWB states that the King of Chalices in this deck represents a blending of love and independence that creates a unique strength. The key here is to love myself and to encourage myself to set forth to find the answers to my questions, to seek illumination and connectivity with the Universe. My relationship with myself and relationships with others can help hold back the shadows.

5: The skeleton is out of the closet: How can you finally lay this skeleton to rest?
The suit of Swords is the suit of Air, representing communication, understanding, and truth. What better tools to use in laying this skeleton to rest? With the 3 of Swords, there is a sense that perhaps this is not something to accomplish "on my own" but with assistance or external guidance. Internal confusion and distraction may interfere with my ability to analyze and understand everything necessary to achieve my goal. I may need a more objective perspective.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

5W's and an H: THE DEVIL (by Zanna)

Today's edition of 5W's and an H features the Sharman-Caselli Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli (Eddison Sadd Editions).

To refresh your memory: For the 5W's and an H exercise, we 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.

The card: THE DEVIL

I seem to be drawing some heavy hitters lately for this exercise! Last month it was Judgment. Now, we have The Devil.

Who? Someone who is addicted to something, or so fixated on something that he or she can't see beyond appearances.

What? Something that blocks or hinders progress, development, or growth.

When? When you permit repression and oppression of your spirit.

Where? In the place where your innermost fears and feelings reside.

Why? Because what you see is NOT all there is.

How? By accepting and understanding your shadow side so that its energy can be used productively.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Interview with the Artist of the Tea Leaf Fortune Deck - Shawna Alexander

(NOTE: This interview was originally posted by Helen Howell.)

The lovely Tea Leaf Fortune Deck is a deck I have always wanted and so was disappointed when it went out of print. However U.S. Games Systems.Inc re-released it this Autumn and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this wonderful little deck from a very dear friend.  It will be a gift I always treasure.

Being a watercolor artist myself, I was attracted to the artwork of this deck, its simplicity of style and colours. Shawna Alexander is the talented artist who illustrated this deck and I am delighted that she agreed to be interviewed on Tarot Notes.

Tarot Notes (TN) Hullo Shawna and welcome to Tarot Notes.  I know that our readers would love to know how you got into art?

Shawna Alexander (SA) - I always have had an artistic nature that seemed to manifest in some form or another.  It's something you're born with, a creative nature, and you either enhance it by teaching and learning along the way, or just dabble in it.  I chose to make it my life's path.  My creativity enriches my life in many ways.

TN: When Rae Hepburn asked you to illustrate these cards, were the illustrations your own visualisation or was it more of a collaboration with Rae?

SA: Rae presented detailed descriptions for the images that she had envisioned for each symbol or card.  I just put down on paper what her mind saw, and tried to portray the images as best as possible.  They were mixed media drawings done with an extremely fine tip pen, then watercolors and colored pencils.  The style that Rae desired was reminiscent of old world Chinese paintings, so there was a lot of that influence in there too.

TN: The cards themselves - how did you decide on the colour palette and or the tone of the deck?

SA: The colour palette was just staying in the mood of each card's meaning.  If the card was a dark, ominous cloud, then the colours were dark and heavy.  If the card was a beautiful rose, then I chose to use brighter, lighter hues.  The overall 'tone' of the artwork was based on traditional Chinese art.  They were detailed in a style that was to encourage the 'reader' of the deck to embrace the history of tea leaf reading. 

TN: I read in the accompanying book to the deck that your interest lies in ceramics. How different did you find designing artwork for this oracle deck as opposed to designing for ceramics?

SA: Ceramics...mainly tile decoration, came to me by chance, and is now a full time career.  It is a completely different art form, however I use my love of drawing in my tile work.  I also use glazes like regular paint, but instead it's on bisque tiles.  So, I still incorporate drawing and painting on a daily basis.  The illustrations for Rae's cards were fun because we were collaborating on the artwork, yet she allowed me much freedom to bring my own personal style into them as well.

TN: Have you done any other deck illustrations or do you plan to do so in the future?

SA: I have kept mainly to ceramic design, trying to grow my talents as a tile artist.  Drawing and painting will always be my passion, so we'll see what comes in the future.  I've recently started designing jewelry as my newest artistic endeavor.  Its just another outlet for my creative mind....it keeps evolving and changing, bringing in something new, but always keeping the old techniques as the basis to it all.  Nothing is mightier then what you can create with basic tools, like a pen and a piece of paper.  Nothing can go wrong with them.  Nothing to fix, they don't break and they're always accessible.  Simple, yet wonderfully perfect, like Rae's Tarot deck...nothing hard to understand or realize, just pure.  They're based on history, enlightenment, culture, fun, knowledge, intrigue and spirit.  I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to illustrate for her!

TN: Thank you so much Shawna for taking part in this interview and giving us some insight into the artwork creation of this deck.

Tea leaf Fortune Cards by Rae Hepburn- Illustrated by Shawna Alexander
Published by U.S. Games Systems Inc.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Interview with Rae Hepburn (by Zanna)

I was first introduced to Rae Hepburn's Tea Leaf Fortune Cards in 2000, when I purchased the set published by Journey Editions, an imprint of Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd. In the very first reading I did with the cards, my husband (who is totally not into this sort of thing) pointed to one of the cards I had drawn and said, "That's talking about me, right there." Needless to say, I was impressed!

In May 2010, I wrote a post about this deck here at Tarot Notes. I did a sample reading in that post and noted that the deck was out of print.

While looking for additional information on the deck and its creators, I came upon a customer discussion at Amazon.com. There, I learned from Rae Hepburn that a new edition of the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards would be published by U.S. Games this fall. To read my review of this new set, click HERE.

I am thrilled that the cards can now find a whole new audience, and delighted that Rae Hepburn agreed to be interviewed for Tarot Notes: Major and Minor.

Tarot Notes (TN)Hello, Rae, and welcome to Tarot Notes: Major and Minor! I'm sure our readers would love to know a little bit about you.  Could you tell us where you're from and how you became interested in divination?

Rae Hepburn (RH): I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north of England, just below Scotland.  Newcastle is one of the oldest cities in England and is built on the site of an old Roman fort that was built to keep the Scots from invading Britain.

It's difficult to say when I first became interested in divination as it is something I have done all my life.  Everyone in my family could read tea leaves, although some read them a lot better than others.  One aunt was an absolute whiz at reading symbols and everyone used to love having their fortunes told by her.  She helped me a great deal in recognizing symbols and how they connected.  In our family it was common to turn over the dregs of your morning cup of tea into your saucer, spin the cup three times and then read what kind of a day you were going to have.  This can be emulated very easily by picking out a single Tea Leaf Fortune Card each day to use as a guide.     

TN: Do you currently read tea leaves for yourself or others?

RH: Absolutely.  Although I have to admit that I use the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards much more than I use tea leaves.  They are just so much easier to use.  Reading actual tea leaves can be a bit messy at times.

TN: What prompted you to create a set of cards related to reading tea leaves?

RH: All of my friends loved having their tea leaves read and wanted to be able to read for themselves, but none of them ever had enough time to master the art of reading tea leaves.  It can be quite difficult.  They would recognize a few symbols but not enough to give an accurate reading.  Also, tea leaf reading is very subjective.  If someone has no knowledge of the symbols, then an unscrupulous seer can basically tell them whatever he or she wants.  I wanted to create a set of cards using tea leaf symbols and their meanings that would make it easy for everyone to accurately read his or her fortune without the need of an expensive seer.   

TN: Do these cards represent every symbol used in tea leaf readings?  If not, how did you choose which symbols to depict on the cards?

RH: No.  There are over five hundred symbols and that's not counting letters of the alphabet and numerical symbols.  To make a deck of that many cards would be unwieldy and unfeasible.  Many tea leaf symbols have the same meaning e.g. "buffalo," "bison" and "bull" all mean "Do not back down from opposition.  Show strength and fortitude."  The only difference between the three is the size and strength of the opposition.  In this case, I chose "bull" to represent all three symbols as it is the more common animal.  I did this will all symbols that had similar meanings.  I also chose the symbols that most frequently occurred in my tea leaf readings.  Some symbols are so obscure, I felt it unnecessary to include them.  I omitted all numerical symbols as well as letters of the alphabet which often depict a name or place connected with the reading.  I did include the letter "V" because it also means "Victory in some endeavor."  By culling and doing test after test readings with the cards, I was finally able to arrive at the 182 symbol cards which I feel give the most accurate readings.

TN: What do the Astral House cards represent in this set?  How does one use them in connection with the Tea Leaf cards?

RH: At the beginning of a tea leaf reading, the querist can ask a question of the cup.  This is called the Astral question as the answer is thought to be in the Astral.  The seer will then read the symbols as answering the question the querist asked.  It would be impossible to make up cards for all the questions that could be asked.  Instead, I used the six subjects people want to know about most when they are having a reading; love, marriage, success, wealth, happiness and career.  It is very easy, though, to duplicate the Astral question.  Just search through the cards until you find the one that most resembles your question, then place it at the top of the Astral House Pyramid. 

TN: Do you have a favorite memory or story about a specific reading that you did using the Tea Leaf Cards?

There are a few that stand out in my mind, but I will tell you about the one where I felt the most helpful and the one where I felt absolutely dreadful.  Let me set the scene.  This was when I was living in Los Angeles and I used to tell fortunes once a month from 7:00-9:00 pm at Brentanos Book Store in the Beverly Shopping Center to promote the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards.  Each querist had the choice of an Astral House or a Coming Week reading (the Coming Year took up too much time) and I used to figure 10 minutes for each reading.  (You would be amazed at how slowly some people can pick cards.)  I would arrive at the store and see the line of people waiting and ask the manager to tell anyone past the twelfth person that I probably wouldn't be able to read for them as I would only have time to read for twelve.  Once in line, people don't like to leave and I always felt dreadful about asking them to leave.

The most helpful reading:  It was a young man in his twenties and he was having an Astral House reading on his career.  His central card was "DOOR - opportunities are waiting for you."  I told him that this meant there were opportunities waiting for him but that they wouldn't present themselves without him taking the first step.  I could see I wasn't getting through to him, so I tried again.  "Think of it as a computer," I said, "if you don't access a program, you will never know what it can do."  His face absolutely lit up.  "Computer programming.  That's what my mom wants me to do and, now, here it is in my fortune."  His "DOOR" card was next to the "OWL - good advice from a wise person."  I pointed to the "OWL" card and said, "That's your mother, she's giving you good advice."  He came back to see me a few months later and told me he was taking computer programming and thanked me for setting him on the right path.  I told him it wasn't me, I just read the cards he picked, but it was very gratifying all the same.

The worst reading:  Again it was an Astral House reading, this time on Success.  A Korean couple in their late forties were sitting opposite me and the man had chosen the cards.  As each card was turned over, it was worse than the one before.  It was one of the worst fortunes I have ever seen.  The meaning are written on the cards so there was very little I could do to put a positive spin on it other than saying that this represented short term energy and things could be very different in four months.  Suddenly, the wife let out a shriek and started cursing out her husband in a mixture of Korean and English in front of all the people still waiting to have their fortunes told and all the shoppers in the store.  It seemed that the husband had made an investment against his wife's advice and it was turning out to be a dreadful mistake.  The store manager had to come over and ask them to leave.         

TN: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

RH: Yes.  May all their fortunes be good.

TN: Thank you so much, Rae!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

REVIEW (by Zanna): The Playing Card Oracles


The Playing Card Oracles
A Source Book for Divination
by Ana Cortez
Illustrations and essays by C.J. Freeman
256 pages; 9 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN: 1-57281-522-1

[To see a practice/trial run reading I did with the Playing Card Oracles deck, click HERE.]

Before I continue with my review of this marvelous book, I want to make something clear: The book is not about learning how to read ordinary playing cards. [PLEASE NOTE: I am editing this part of the review to avoid confusion. You can definitely use this book to help you interpret ordinary playing cards. However, it is not *purely* for that purpose. The images in the book are not ordinary playing cards, and the text does go into the symbolism and meaning of those images on each card. I just want people to understand up front that this book is not *strictly* about reading ordinary playing cards.]

The purpose of this book is to explain, explore, and elaborate on a system designed to be used with a deck of cards called The Picture Book of Ana Cortez. At this writing, the cards published by U.S. Games are not readily available.* I found a deck through Amazon.com. I plan to share a reading and/or deck interview in the future on this blog. You can purchase the original deck (produced by Two Sisters Press) directly from Ana Cortez. Contact her at ana@anacortez.org. You can also visit her blog at www.anacortez.com.

You can also use the system described in this book with ordinary playing cards. Ana Cortez tells us to "find a deck of playing cards that you like and follow along." You can even use some aspects of this system with Tarot cards. For example, the notes on numerology and the elements can be applied to Tarot cards. I am planning to experiment with using geomancy (as described in this book) with Tarot cards as well.

"Every now and then a book comes along that is so strikingly original that it can completely change popular perceptions on a given subject. This is one of those books. In this work of poetry and prophecy, a new voice emerges from a rare father-daughter team."


The book is divided into three major sections. BOOK ONE contains four parts: Card Symbolism; Preparing for and Doing a Reading; and Something Old, Something New; and Final Frontiers.  BOOK TWO consists of Essays, Notes, and Commentary written by C.J. Freeman. As Ana Cortez explains in her Introduction, the book is a collaboration between her father (C.J. Freeman) and herself. Cortez first saw her father's larger-than-life oil paintings of the cards when she was about 13 or 14 years old. Over the years she came to see what a valuable tool her father's system could be. In the book Cortez includes material on calendar systems, the four elements, alchemy, astrology, and geomancy. The amount of information may seem overwhelming, but the book offers excellent advice: "Take it in pieces, and practice, practice, practice."


This paperback book measures 9 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches, thus fitting comfortably in the hands. The black and red ink used for the text stand out nicely on the cream-colored stock. For the most part, the type size and style are easy on the eye. I found the scroll-y font used for the titles of the cards to be beautiful but almost unreadable. However, that did not interfere with knowing which card was being discussed.  The paper is good quality and the binding seems sturdy. The book is very well organized and well written. As a professional copy editor, I usually spot numerous typos and other types of errors in the books I read. I saw none in this book. Win!


As might be expected, the illustrations used in the book are from The Picture Book of Ana Cortez, created by Cortez's father, C.J. Freeman. I found the artwork on these cards to be so compelling that I had to purchase the deck. The artwork is highly symbolic and explained clearly in the book. The illustrations in the book are black, white, and red. In contrast, the back cover features images of the cards in full color. I assume that is what I will be receiving. However, I like Cortez's explanation of the red, black, and white color scheme: "To the alchemists, the trinity of black, red, and white was the magical color combination that corresponded to the three essential phases of spiritual evolution."


I am fascinated by the material included in this book, particularly the information about divinatory geomancy. As I mentioned above, the book is very well written and a pleasure to read. The various spreads presented in the book -- for example, The Cat Spread and The Lost Man Spread -- are intriguing. You don't have to know anything about other divinatory systems, like the Tarot, but I enjoyed comparing and contrasting the descriptions of these cards with my knowledge of Tarot cards. I am really excited about this system and using The Picture Book of Ana Cortez cards, once I receive my order.

Review edited 21OCT11 and 26 OCT11 by Zanna Starr.

* My source at U.S. Games tells me that the company will be reissuing The Picture Book of Ana Cortez cards in a smaller size but printed on better stock.
In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this book 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.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tarot & Astrology by Corrine Kenner - Book Review

(NOTE: This review was originally posted by Helen Howell)

Tarot & Astrology by Corrine Kenner.
Illustrated with the Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner & John Blumen
Published by Llewellyn

In a previous post I had said that I was privileged to see an advance draft of the manuscript for this book, so I was looking forward to receiving the published book and was excited when it finally arrived on my doorstep.  The book itself is a nice size, not too big or too small, easy enough to handle. The front cover design is just a delight to look at and the paper quality throughout is good.

In the introduction, Corrine tells us that it will enable one to learn astrology, or tarot or both—depending on whether you are already competent in either one or not. She also tells us that Tarot and Astrology will ‘give you the tools you need to combine the science of astrology with the art of tarot.’  Now to someone like me who is astrologically challenged, I was eager to see if this book lives up to its promise.

Before I tell you any more about this book and what I personally think of it,  I thought I would ask the Book three interview questions and see what it actually had to say about itself. Now you might say how can a book answer questions? But believe me I have found books are just as clever at answering questions as a tarot deck is!

With my first question in mind, Tell me what you consider to be your most important quality? I held the book gently in my hand and let it fall open—it opened at page 225-Houses of the Horoscope and the line that caught my eye was; ‘The planets, signs and houses all come together in a horoscope chart.’

My most important quality as a book is to bring together all the various elements and combine them, so that they form a working platform from which you can glean the information you need.  My strongest quality is to show you, not just how this can be done, but that you can do it.

Now I really like that answer.  You’re a very confident book.

Question two; What is the best way I can work with you? Closing my eyes I flicked the pages until I stopped at page 176. I ended up on the Three of Pentacles page!

The best way you can work with me is to take in the bigger picture, and formulate a working plan. One that you can adhere to, one that allows you to take each step with me, so that we build a partnership together. A partnership that will help you achieve your goal.

That’s very good advice Book!

And the final question; What is the potential outcome of us having worked together?  I ended up on page 95 - The Top Piece caught my eye - The Zodiac Wheel -  Understanding the Wheel of the Year is the key to understanding the astrological associations of the Minor Arcana.

The potential outcome of us having worked with each other, is that you will have gained an understanding of all the elements needed to bring everything together in a working order. One that will allow you to use the information to enhance either tarot or astrology in your use of it.

Well, thank you Book now lets see what I’ve got to say about you. 

In the Introduction Corrine goes on to talk about the History of Tarot & Astrology. This was presented in a way that didn’t overwhelm the reader with information but gave just enough to paint a rounded picture. I particularly liked the simplicity of the section ‘The Dawn of Modern Tarot & Astrology. 

In the final part of her Introduction ‘Tarot and Astrology in Action,’  she informs us that she will show us how to combine tarot and astrology by starting with the basics and work up to a complete reading utilising both these modalities. She says that this book will cover all aspects of astrology, along with how to relate them to tarot cards, but she also includes practical spreads and techniques.

In the section ‘Overview,’ we have a breakdown of what to expect to learn and gives us as a starting point the correspondence between the Major Arcana and astrology. This is set out in such a way as to be simple to understand and relate the specific cards to their planetary attribution. At the end of this section she gives us an example of astrology in action using her own deck the Wizards Tarot to illustrate this.

Part 1: Tarot Planets and Signs.
This examines the correspondence between the Major Arcana cards, the planets and the zodiac signs. But first it starts with:-

The Building Blocks of the Tarot - Corrine gives us a basic background of the Major and Minor Arcana and also the sphere of influence for the four suits, along with their elemental attributions of fire, earth, water and air. She tells us that we often describe people using these elemental descriptions such as ‘fiery person’ etc. and she says that these associations are essential to an understanding of astrology.

Included in this section is also an introduction to the Court Cards. She finally touches on number associations for the cards such as Ace being a number 1 and representing beginnings etc. and how that relates to the individual suit. For example: Cups being emotions etc.  For anyone unfamiliar with tarot this section gives a good basic springboard from where to start.

The next part of this section included a list of the planets. When I read it I went  ah ha, I see how that relates, and once put together with the individual cards it made understanding the planets that much easier.

I liked how scattered throughout the book,  we have Cosmic Connections, offering us snippets of information and background to enable us to gain just a little more insight in the subject of how tarot and astrology as a pair have evolved.

Also included in this section was a breakdown of the zodiac signs and their modes along with either their feminine or masculine characteristics.  Following this is a rather nice  Phases of the Moon Spread, which shows one how to set goals and see them through using the phases of the Moon.  - Now I tried this spread out for myself using the Wonderland Tarot Deck. It worked very well and did show me how to achieve that goal.

The section is finished off with a nice touch of providing a summary of the Major Arcana correspondences, so that the reader can see at a glance the astrological attribution given to each card - very useful when one is learning something new!

Part Two - The Minor Arcana
Corrine explains that the Major Arcana elemental correspondences are based on the zodiac signs and that the Minor Arcana are based on the nature of the four elements. For example: Wands relate to the fire signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. We are given the primary and secondary characteristics of the elementary dignities and how that determines how well they mix and match - an example Water is cold and wet as opposed to Fire which is hot and dry.

Next we’re introduced to the Aces and their correspondences. We learn that they go with the four elements and the four seasons. Following this is an introduction to Tarot, Astrology and Qabalah. I liked the detail in this section that gave me a basic insight into the belief and thought system of this philosophy.

So far we are traveling step by step in this book, which is good news for the beginner. I like that it is written in such a way that is not overly technical and therefore easy to grasp.

After that comes the numbered cards and we find that these relate to the 10 degree subdivisions of each sign (the decans). The first Cosmic Connection is showing a chart of the decans and the numbered cards and how they are distributed by element, number and mode. In this part it covers the Zodiac Wheel, Dealing the Cards, Elemental Associations and Planetary Rulers and Sub-rulers signs.

I like the way the elemental associations have been shown along with the modes and seasons, which simplifies the learning process of cardinal, fixed and mutable. Then another chart is presented that allows one at a glance to see the Minor Arcana Assignments.

I enjoyed the tour of the Minor Arcana—the decans were nicely explained by highlighting the sign, mode/quality, element, duality and corresponding Majors. I also think the wheel with each card illustration was a nice touch.

The Court Cards we are told are stationed around the wheel of the year—it appears that it’s their interaction that keeps it spinning. Court Cards in tarot can often be the most difficult to understand, but Corrine has made this easier by their breakdown into their elements and corresponding sun signs. This gives us insight into their characteristics by understanding which sign and element they are attributed.

For example it helps to know that the Queen of Wands is a Fire sign tempered with Water. Also that she represents the zodiac sign Aries, which tends to be more masculine—this helps explain her leadership skills for us. Understanding this connection helps to understand how and why the Queen has the characteristics she has.

The charts at the end of this segment supply a quick reference as to how the various elements describe the characteristics of these Royals. Also how the Wheel of the Year and the Minor Arcana works. A useful and practical aid to learning these correspondences.

Part Three - The Houses of the Horoscope
In this section we learn all about the Houses and that the wheel is divided into 12 pie like sections, one for each sign of the zodiac—easy to grasp? Yes it is!  We learn that the sun, moon and planets move through the houses as the earth cycles through space—the 12 houses then anchor the planets and signs in time and space—even I can remember that!

Again we have a chart that gives you in a glance an overview of the 12 houses along with their ruling planets and signs. There is a spread to try out called The Houses of the Horoscope Spread. Corrine then gives us another visual called Houses of Cards, where we can get to see the signs and planets in their houses and also place their tarot-card counterparts in position. Finally each house is explored focusing on their area of activity. To help us grasp this concept she shows us how to view them from the perspective of their tarot-card counterparts.  Example the first house is ruled by Aries, which is related to The Emperor, but Aries in turn is ruled by Mars, which then relates to the Tower  - this adds that Tower energy to this first house—now we have a feel for this house.

We are walked through polar opposites and shown how to look at them in pairs, again all very easy to understand and make sense of.  There is a brief section on a simplified guide to chart interpretation. Sample readings are provided also of famous people like Prince William and Marilyn Monroe just to name a couple.

What I have liked all the way through this book, is that Corrine has made learning what has always seemed to me at least, a difficult subject, very easy. This book is a springboard to get the student started in either tarot or astrology or both so that they can go on to learn more.

All in all I think that this book keeps it’s promise it made in its introduction, and offers the student the chance not only to learn either astrology or tarot or both in an easy to understand way. But it also shows you how both modalities compliment each other and can take tarot reading to another dimension.

If you have ever wanted to learn either of these skills or both,  then I would recommend this book as a starting point.

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that the item being reviewed 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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

REVIEW (by Zanna): Tea Leaf Fortune Cards


Tea Leaf Fortune Cards
by Rae Hepburn
Illustrated by Shawna Alexander
200 cards; 98-page guidebook
Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1-57281-670-1
ISBN-10: 1-57281-670-8

As a proud owner of the "original" Tea Leaf Fortune Cards (Journey Editions / 2000), I eagerly awaited the U.S. Games version of this attractive and clever deck. A few things have changed in the new version. For example, the accompanying book is a different size and has a different cover from the old. A quick look through the new book reveals a number of revisions to the text. Another difference is that the U.S. Games version includes photos and descriptions of actual tea leaf readings that were left out of the older version.

For me, much of the appeal of this deck comes from the round shape of the cards (round, like a teacup!) For my original set, I found a charming box that is absolutely perfect for them.

"Tea Leaf Fortune Cards set offers an innovative system for reading with 200 beautifully illustrated cards depicting the traditional tea leaf symbols. The 98-page guidebook explains how to divine fortunes using tea leaves or Tea Leaf Fortune Cards.
Rae Hepburn, an accomplished tea leaf reader, teaches you to unlock the ancient secrets of reading tea leaves. Follow a few simple guidelines, and you can immediately read your fortune."

The set comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a lid that lifts but doesn't come completely off. The 3-1/4 inch round cards are stacked within the larger box in two deep, square trays. The set consists of 200 cards; a 98-page, 5 x 7 inch guidebook; and an 11 x 9-1/2 inch organza bag.

The card stock is relatively thin but sturdy enough. The pattern on the back of each card features spirals and tea leaves in purple, red, or green, depending on the purpose of the card. There are 12 Months-of-the-Year cards (purple backs) and 6 Astral-House cards (green backs). The red-backed cards feature a title at the top and a key word or phrase at the bottom, for example, "FOREST" and "Muddled, unclear thinking" or "FLUTE" and "Disappointment in a friend or lover."

The accompanying book is a true treasure trove of information and sample readings. Hepburn leads with A Brief History of Tea and Tea Leaf Reading, followed by The Development of Tea Leaf Fortune Cards, Traditional Tea Leaf Reading Methods, Divining Your Fortune Using Tea Leaf Fortune Cards (The Coming Year Method, The Coming Week Method, The Astral House Pyramid Method), and Tea Leaf Symbols and Their Meanings. The final chapter is About the Author and Artist.

The Sample Readings are detailed and informative, giving a clear picture of how the reader can relate various cards to each other to gain insight. The section containing the Tea Leaf Symbols and Their Meanings contains a paragraph about each card that expands on the key word or phrase.

Shawna Alexander's realistic artwork depicts objects and experiences from everyday life. The images are small but nicely detailed. The style reminds me of children's picture book illustrations. The coloring is soft, yet rich. I am able to relate easily to the scenes on the cards.

In the near future, Tarot Notes plans to post an interview with Shawna concerning her artwork for this deck.

I have enjoyed using the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards I purchased ten years ago. The readings I did with the old deck were invariably insightful and thought-provoking, and always called attention to important aspects of the Seeker's outlook and life. U.S. Games has not only recreated the best aspects of this set but has provided extra value with its revisions and additions to the material in the book. I loved reading all about traditional tea leaf reading methods, and I think the images of actual tea leaves in the bottom of a cup are fascinating.

To read a Tarot Notes interview with Rae Hepburn, click HERE.
To read a Tarot Notes interview with Shawna Alexander, click HERE.

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this deck and book set 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.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Journey through My Decks: Queen 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 QUEEN OF CUPS from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck*.

Who is this lady seated at the edge of the sea? Water nymphs decorate her throne. Small rocks, polished smooth by the relentless waves, lie at her feet. She is dressed in the colors of the sea -- light blue like the water and white like the foam that rides the crest of the waves. In contrast, a red shell fastens her cloak, which seems also to have red lining. In her hands she holds an object that appears to have her full attention. It resembles a ciborium (a covered receptacle for holding the consecrated wafers of the Eucharist in Christian churches). Winged angels decorate the handles of this impressive container, which can be seen as a representation of the Holy Grail.

In The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages (Macoy Publishing Company), Paul Foster Case tells us that the Tarot Queens symbolize Soul, the inner "pattern" part of a particular human personality.

The Queen of Cups gazes intently at the ornate chalice, symbol of her power. The chalice is closed, its contents concealed from the general public. This Queen is similarly contained and introspective. She is unlikely to reveal all of herself and maintains an air of mystery, like Scorpio, the zodiac sign sometimes associated with this card.

In The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (WeiserBooks), Arthur Waite describes the Queen of Cups as "beautiful, fair, dreamy - as one who sees visions in a cup." He adds, "She sees, but she also acts, and her activity feeds her dream."

Divinatory Meanings (from The PKT): "Good, fair woman; honest, devoted woman, who will do service to the Querent; loving intelligence, and hence the gift of vision; success, happiness, pleasure; also wisdom, virtue; a perfect spouse and a good mother." Reversed: "The accounts vary; good woman; otherwise, distinguished woman but one not to be trusted; perverse woman; vice, dishonour, depravity."

In his book Thinking Tarot (Simon & Schuster), Edward A. Aviza sums up the disparities between the upright and reversed meanings: "She is both the good mother, lover, wife, and so on, as well as the unfaithful woman who falls into a relationship because she is overwhelmed by feeling and passion."

Intuitive, nurturing, and receptive, the Queen of Cups calls our attention to both the positive and negative possibilities inherent in emotional involvement.

* The Rider Tarot Deck, also known as the Waite, Rider Waite, and Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck, designed by Pamela Colman Smith under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite. Copyright 8 1971 US Games Systems, Inc. ISBN 0 913866 13 X.