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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Reading with the Playing Card Oracles Deck

I was so enthralled with the reading method described in The Playing Card Oracles by Ana Cortez, I immediately wanted to do a practice reading for myself using the Playing Card Oracles Divination Deck by Ana Cortez and C.J. Freeman (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Ana graciously agreed to review what I did and offer suggestions and comments that would help me benefit even more from this reading.

Below is my reading, followed by Ana's comments. Thank you so much, Ana, for taking the time to do this! I know my blog readers will find it useful!

In her book, Ana Cortez rightfully asserts that her method of card reading "is not meant to be mastered in a short period of time."

I make no claim to having "mastered" this method. I consider this reading to be part of the "practice, practice, practice" also advised by Ana Cortez.

The purpose of this four-card spread -- called The Present Spread -- is to provide a "snapshot" of the time at hand as well as the four weeks to come. My question is: What do I need to understand about  my jewelry-making business now and in the next four weeks?

Following the instructions in The Playing Card Oracles book, I shuffled the cards and turned four of them over, as if turning a book page -- in other words, NOT by flipping them head over tail, as is commonly done when playing card games. Cortez writes that "Flipping negates the nature of the deck as a book and reverses the original direction of the card, potentially altering the way the card is read."

Position 1: The Head Position (ruled by the suit of Diamonds)

Note: This position tends to dominate the general character of the reading. It takes on additional significance when the question refers to finances, self-esteem, or creativity -- or questions specifically related to the head and face.

I have drawn the Three of Hearts in this position. This position is ruled by Diamonds. When Diamonds are paired with Hearts, the result is often unpredictable energy or a lack of self-restraint.

Threes suggest that things are fluctuating and unstable. It may be time to make a choice or consider an opportunity. I am being encouraged to tune in more closely to my personal goals and where I want to go with my jewelry-making business. The suit of Hearts tells me that emotions play a large role here. I need to understand what my emotional needs are and whether those are being served by my current approach. Am I just adding emotional drama and stress to my life?

I confess that the illustration on this card is a bit puzzling to me. On the card I see three connected hearts, a single heart with a keyhole, and a fragmented heart. There are a total of FIVE Hearts on the card, yet the card is the THREE of Hearts.

Position 2: The Throat Position (ruled by the suit of Clubs)
TWO OF HEARTS (The Lovers)

Note: The card in this spot usually refers to ideas and communications. This can include legal documents and other written or verbal agreements. It also relates to social relationships.

I have drawn the Two of Hearts in this position. This position is ruled by the suit of Clubs. Hearts paired with Clubs can suggest a fertile imagination and strong creative ability.

The number Two indicates an initial exploration outside of ourself, taking into account both self and "the other." It can suggest partnership and cooperation or opposition and division. As mentioned above, the suit of Hearts indicates emotional involvement. The illustration depicts what Cortez calls "a heartfelt entanglement" of some sort, not necessarily limited to male/female lovers. Am I being encouraged to consider a partnership with someone else?

Position 3: The Torso Position (ruled by the suit of Hearts)
NINE OF SPADES (The Throne of Spiders)

Note: This position includes the heart, solar plexus, womb, and sexual organs. Therefore, it relates to questions of love, reproduction, and emotions in general. Hidden, unconscious issues may appear in this position, or it may refer to questions about one's mother. Health, vitality, and healing are also included. This position is also likely to reveal the "heart" of the matter.

I have drawn the Nine of Spades in this position. This position is ruled by the suit of Hearts. Hearts and Spades are called "The Gravitational Partnership." Paired with each other, they can indicate security and dependability.

Nines often speak of endings, final trials, or the last stages of something. There is a sense that moderation is lacking. We are moving at full tilt through the passageway between the pips and the court cards. Nines are occasionally seen to represent people themselves, typically young people.

With the Nine of Spades, we are looking at something that has gotten way out of hand, especially in a physical or material sense. Energy and resources are being drained and depleted. There is a sense of overwork, burden, or even addiction/co-dependence.

I'm speechless at this point. I have invested a lot of money and time into my jewelry-making business. Is this card saying that I have wasted enough money and time on the enterprise and that I should let it go? Or is there a way to "cut the load" without dumping it altogether? What is it that is actually burdening me? The feeling that I *need* to make money with the jewelry or the desire to create the jewelry in the first place? And what do I make of the Hearts/Spades partnership?

Position 4: The Foot Position (ruled by the suit of Spades)
EIGHT OF SPADES (Field of Stone)

Note: This position corresponds to the most practical, fundamental areas of life. This might include housing, possessions, career, daily routines, and living habits. One's father is also a possible subject for this position.

This position is ruled by Spades, and I have I have drawn the Eight of Spades here. This is somewhat comforting. Spades can carry largely negative (or negative-seeming) energy, and the Eight of Spades has a history of being considered a card of ill omen (the unluckiest card in the deck). It can suggest difficult karma, obstacles, bad timing, a threat -- or a need to wait and rethink strategies. The fact that my card is dignified in this position does offer a wee bit of hope, but not a lot.

The Foot Position makes me think of the expression "the bottom line." It seems to me that the Eight of Spades is pointing out that my timing is terrible in this case, and that I need to hold off on further expansion until the timing is better. The figure on this card is helpless, tied to a rock. Circumstances (the economy, for example) are beyond my control.


The reading contains two Red (Heart) cards and two Black (Spades), suggesting a balance of energy. Hearts and Spades are called "The Gravitational Partnership," which indicates security, dependability, practicality, and traditional values. All of this seems encouraging.


Geomancy by Number

The "First Witness" (geomancy by number) indicates the beginning stages of the situation.

The pattern created with the asterisks above is called AMISSIO, ruled by Venus. It represents "A loss. Diminishing. That which is taken or given away. Emptying out. Shedding an 'old skin.' Letting go." Interestingly, in astrology the planet Venus rules jewelry.

Geomancy by Color

This "Second Witness" (geomancy by color) corresponds to the unfolding of circumstances as time progresses.

The total value of the red cards in this reading is 5, an odd number. Therefore, the red cards will be represented by a single asterisk. The black cards will be represented by two asterisks (even).

The pattern created with these asterisks is called FORTUNA MINOR (ruled by the Sun). It represents "Lesser fortune. Exterior protection. Help from outside. Not very positive."

We now combine the testimony of the two "Witnesses" to determine a "Judge."

The Judge is CONJUNCTIO (ruled by Mercury), representing "Connection. The lost being found. Relationship. Contracts. Agreements. Negative coming together with negative. Positive coming together with positive. Generally considered a neutral figure."

Overall, I don't get positive vibes from these cards concerning the matter in question. There seems to be a lot of loss here and almost no encouragement on the horizon. At the same time, the bigger picture shown by the Gravitational Partnership of the Hearts and Spades could suggest that I might be okay if I just "hold steady" right now rather than completely discontinuing the jewelry business. The outlook for the next four weeks isn't good, but the Judge does offer a small amount of encouragement that things may eventually improve.

Let's see what Ana Cortez says about my trial run with her deck:

"Hi Zanna,

Very ambitious and precise with your information I see here. Good job on many counts! I do SO appreciate the recent attention you have given to my work :-)

So regarding your reading. Yes, I see that this is in no way time for expansion, as you yourself surmised. The 8 of Spades being dignified in the Spade position, as you mentioned, gives this card greater gravity and power and always when you push forward with this card you will encounter only obstacles. And so magnified for you in regard to everything most practical. That being said... I would surrender instead to stillness and see what opens up for you in your heart.

There is beautiful heart energy nurturing this reading but it is floating around at the top of the spread. We are going to bring it DOWN. :-) EVENTUALLY :-)  So... the lovers being in the thinking and mental position tells me that you have a dream of absolute devotion to your work, so I would spend some quiet time and ask your heart what it would like in your creative life. Put your hand over your heart and whisper the question directly to it :-) Then listen!!! Write it down, so your head is in sync with your heart.

There is something on it's way out, as witnessed by the 9 in the heart position, so dream with your heart as to what you would like to come to you next. As you mentioned, the three is begging direction and manifestion, and it is the governing energy of this reading (top position). A challenging influence. Again, once you tune in to your heart and ask it what IT wants, new directions will open up for you.

I hope this is helpful.

Fondly and with great thanks,
--Ana C."

To read my recent interview with Ana, please click HERE.

Monday, November 28, 2011

REVIEW: Cat's Eye Tarot


Cat's Eye Tarot
By Debra M. Givin, DVM
Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN-10: 1-57281-685-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-57281-685-5


"Cats can teach us many things about how to make the best of almost any situation. Cats are pleasing to the eye, complex in their behaviors, and mysterious in their moods, providing a “purrfect” model for a visually evocative medium like the tarot. Every card in Cat’s Eye Tarot tells a story, illustrated from a feline point of view. Let these cats guide you as you use the tarot to learn about yourself and your cat. The card meanings and numbering follow Rider-Waite interpretations, with reptiles, fish, birds, and mice replacing the usual suit symbols. Even the newcomer to tarot will be able to relate to these delightful images of cats and learn valuable lessons from them."


The creator of this deck is Debra M. Givin, DVM, who has been a practicing veterinarian for 28 years, 22 of them in an exclusively feline practice. In her Introduction to the Little White Book (LWB), Givin writes: "For me, the tarot has become a tool for reflection and a way to think through a situation."

Many of the images on the cards are compatible with the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith interpretations. For example, on the Four of Pentacles, a cat has one mouse in its mouth and is holding down three others with its paws, as if hoarding them. The Magician is surrounded by symbols of the four elements: in this case, a fish (Water), a lizard (Fire), a bird (Air), and a mouse (Earth).

I love what Givin has done with the Aces. On the Ace of Swords, we see a cat's paw swiping at a feather that has fallen from a white bird on a perch. On the Ace of Cups we see a cat's paw through the glass of a goldfish bowl. On the Ace of Pentacles, a paw grabs a mouse's tail. On the Ace of Wands, a paw reaches toward a snake. 

The LWB provides several keywords and a description for each card, along with how it might be interpreted in a reading. The keywords follow the RWS tradition as interpreted by Joan Bunning in her book Learning the Tarot. For example, the keywords for the Seven of Cups are "wishful thinking; options; dissipation." The keywords for The Tower are "sudden change; release; downfall; revelation."

In the back of the LWB is a Nine Lives Spread based on the old proverb: "A cat has nine lives: 3 he plays, 3 he strays, and 3 he stays." Nine cards are drawn -- three for "Youth", three for "Mid-Life," and three for "Maturity."


The cards measure 2.75" x 4.75" and are printed on glossy stock the same weight as most of my Tarot decks. There is a white border around the images on both the front and back sides. Card titles are printed in black on a pale yellow bar under the card image. Major Arcana cards are numbered, with Strength as Trump 8 and Justice as Trump 11. The image on the backs of the cards is a close-up of a long-haired, green-eyed tabby cat's face. If you use reversals, you'll be able to identify reversed cards by noting which way the image on the back faces.


The art is realistic, with a soft, gentle quality that emphasizes the grace and beauty of the cats. Purple is a prominent color on most Major Arcana cards. Wands cards have orange backgrounds (representing creative energy); the Wands cats are ginger tabbies. Swords cards feature shades of blue (intellectual energy) and Siamese cats (some appear to have long hair, which would make them Himalayans or Balinese). Pentacles cards have a lot of earthy green and brown, and feature brown tabby cats. For the suit of Cups, Givin has chosen to depict black and white cats against a red background, representing emotional energy. Many of the Wands cards incorporate reptiles. Cups cards often include fish. Pentacles cards incorporate mice, and Swords cards include birds. These creatures are the cat's natural prey, as well as being associated with the four elements.

The Court Cards are lovely, with kittens as Pages, young adult cats as Knights, and adult cats as Queen and King. As a long-time cat lover, I am delighted with the way Givin has captured the many moods of cats -- contemplative, curious, playful, alert, threatening, frightened, relaxed, and affectionate (to name a few).


If you dislike themed decks or cat decks, this is not the deck for you. I feel that it does incorporate a fair amount of the traditional card meanings, but it is certainly not an RWS "clone." As Givin notes: "There are few, if any, esoteric symbols." I think anyone who enjoys cat-themed decks will find these cards a pleasure to work with. Because each suit has a consistent color scheme, the reader can quickly identify the dominant energy in a reading. I, for one, am pleased to add it to my family of feline Tarot cards. Givin advises us to "let these cats guide you as you use the tarot to learn about yourself and your cat." I look forward to doing just that.

You can read more about this deck at http://www.catdocmaine.com/NewStyle/CatsEyeTarot/TarotCats_stucco.html . This page is part of the larger http://www.catdocmaine.com, which is The Cat Doctor web site. The site not only provides information about the Cat's Eye Tarot but also offers cat "Tips and Tails," information about cat behavior, and a bio of Dr. Givin.

Listen to the Beyond Worlds Tarot program in which Dr. Given discusses the Cat's Eye Tarot:

Listen to internet radio with Beyond Worlds Tarot on Blog Talk Radio

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this Tarot deck 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, November 27, 2011

Cards and Quotes: 8 of Pentacles

Each Sunday I hope to share a card from one of my decks along with a quotation that conveys at least part of the message of that card.

Today's Cards and Quotes features the EIGHT OF PENTACLES from the Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) The Eight of Pentacles is often considered to refer to an apprentice, someone who is working to hone a skill, hoping to become an expert. On the Crystal Visions card we see a woman at her spinning wheel, paying close attention to what she is doing. The quotation I have chosen to go with this card is under the image of the card.

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with
ardor and attended to with diligence."

- Abigail Adams (1744-1818)
Wife of U.S. president John Adams

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Interview with the Crystal Visions Tarot

Following my review of the Crystal Visions Tarot, I decided to interview the deck about our future together.

I was not surprised when The Unknown Card arrived to act as spokesperson for the deck. I was fascinated by her eye makeup, her crystal ball, and her purple nail polish. She had a raven with her.

"I love your dress," I said. It was deep purple, and looked exactly like the dress I wore at my wedding 11 years ago!

"Thank you," she said in a low, husky voice. "I understand you have some question for me?"

I poured us each a glass of red wine, and began the interview.

(1) How would you describe your essence or essential energy?

I am summer and heat and light. I am motion and passion and confidence. I can sweep you off your feet and take you on great adventures. I dare you to travel faster and farther than ever before. I am charming and arrogant and honest to a fault -- and I may not be overly concerned with your feelings.

(2) Which card do you feel reflects my essence or essential energy?

Of course you are The Magician. Who else? You can harness and command the emotional, physical, mental, and creative energy depicted on my cards. You have acces to Air, Water, Fire, and Earth -- and to the vast, sweeping Spirit of the Major Arcana.

(3) What story do you hope to tell me?

I am an excellent communicator and I have much to tell you. The story is one of aggression, truth, and intellect. It is the story of how your point of view, attitude, and mind set influence everything. The ways in which you use the power of your mind create the story of your life.

(4) What should I not expect from you?

Do not expect me to choose your options or focus your energies for you. Only you can do that. I will not stop you from living in a dream world or creating illusions, if that is what you want to do.

(5) Which card most closely represents us as a team?

Together we are the energy of Fire and the creativity of youth. We are young in spirit yet powerful. As a team we have the enthusiasm and confidence to develop new ideas and visualize new paths to explore. There is never a dull moment. We hit the ground running, and we don't look back.

"Well!" I said to The Unknown Card. "Four active cards and one passive card. Two knights. It certainly looks like I'm in for a wild ride."

She arched her eyebrow and gave me a small, mysterious smile. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," she said.

[Edited to add: The cards have a white border, not a gray border as shown in the images on this page. I used images of prints the artist offers on her website.]

Crystal Visions Tarot
by Jennifer Galasso
Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Take a Number: One

Numerology & Tarot

My Keywords for One: 
independence, beginnings, purposeful behavior

Tarot Cards: 
Aces of all suits, The Magician

According to that 1970s song by Three Dog Night, "One is the loneliest number." I can testify that it does feel a bit lonely here at Tarot Notes, now that Helen, my blog partner of three years, has retired from Tarot blogging.

Fortunately, One is also the number of new beginnings and fresh starts, so for my first post as a solo Tarot blogger, I'm going to initiate a new series called Numerology and Tarot. I shall do it in a fiercely independent manner, while demonstrating impressive leadership skills. Read on.

In Astrology, the First House is the House of Self, Self-Image, and Self-Interest. It's all about ME. The first sign of the zodiac, Aries (a cardinal fire sign), is known for fierce independence, leadership, and taking initiative. Yeah, they can be bossy and arrogant, too.

Writing about the occult meaning of numbers, Paul Foster Case gives the following key words for One: "beginning, initiative, originality, unity, singleness, isolation, and the like." He also writes that "This is the consciousness of the true Self or I AM. . . the essence, substance, energy and consciousness expressed in all forms." (The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. Macoy Publishing Company)

In Numerology, the number One is associated with leadership, the ability to stand alone, independence, and self-assurance, along with less desirable traits like egotism and impatience.

Aces are typically seen to represent new beginnings, and certainly the number One can be said to rule beginnings. However, when interpreting an Ace, we need to take into account other traits associated with that number, such as those listed above.

THE MAGICIAN (Trump 1): It is easy to see the astrological and numerological traits of the number One in this card. In decks based on the RWS tradition, The Magician stands alone with all elements at his command.

ACES: Aces combine the numerological meaning of the number One with the characteristics of their suit or elemental association. Using my keywords, we are looking at independence, beginnings, and/or purposeful behavior in the area represented by the specific suit or element.

For example, with the Ace of Cups or Chalices (Water), I begin by looking at independence, beginnings, and/or purposeful behavior in the area of emotions, the subconscious, and relationships.

Next time, we'll look at the number Two. According to the Three Dog Night song, it's "the loneliest number since the number One." Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

REVIEW: Crystal Visions Tarot


Crystal Visions Tarot
by Jennifer Galasso
Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. (August 2011)
ISBN-10: 157281702X
ISBN-13: 978-1572817029


"Fantasy artist Jennifer Galasso has created Crystal Visions Tarot in a unique style with ethereal faerie imagery and a vibrant color scheme inspired by the four seasons and the four elements. Crystal Visions Tarot remains true to the classic Rider-Waite 78-card system in much of its symbolism, as well as in card and suit names.

The luscious card imagery also illustrates the elemental aspects of each suit in order to aid the novice in forming associations with the cards.

The Crystal Visions Tarot deck includes 78 cards with an additional unknown card for gazing into future situations that have not yet been revealed, or for exploring issues with deeper insight. The instruction booklet offers both upright and reversed meanings."

Unknown Card

Artist Jennifer Galasso tells us that the name Crystal Visions Tarot was inspired by singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks' CD “Crystal Visions,”  released around the same time that Galasso was planning the deck. An "About Jennifer Galasso" card packaged with the deck provides a considerable amount of information about the artist.

In addition to the standard 78 cards, which are based on the Rider-Waite-Smith system, the Crystal Visions Tarot deck includes The Unknown Card. According to the "little white book" (LWB) that accompanies the deck, this card represents "an answer that's not yet meant to be revealed."

The LWB provides an Introduction to the deck along with descriptions and divinatory meanings for each card, including meanings for reversed cards. I am impressed with the amount and value of the material in this LWB. We are given the usual DMs but we are also given insight into the reasoning behind the depiction of the characters on the cards. For example, the description of The World includes: "The characters depicted in this card sits on top of the world in the lotus pose. She appears to be meditating, listening to the hum of the universe. She wears a necklace with the Hindu symbol 'Om' symbolizing the most perfect integration of mind, body and spirit."


The cards are 2.75" by 4.75" in size and printed on reasonably sturdy, glossy stock similar to other decks I own. There is a 1/4" border on both sides. The backs are lovely shades of lavender and mauve, with a crystal ball in the center and a delicate pattern of purple-mauve roses. Symbols for the four elements are also incorporated into the design. [Edited to add: The cards have a white border, not a gray border as shown in the images on this page. I used images of prints the artist offers on her website (link provided below).]

9 of Pentacles

The colors on these cards are soft yet vivid. The images have a distinctly fantasy feel. The characters primarily consist of broad-shouldered, well-proportioned men and beautiful, slender women with long, flowing hair. These ethereal images are pleasing to the eye in both color and style.

Each suit has its own consistent color scheme, inspired by the element associated with that suit. The Cups cards feature violet and magenta backgrounds; the card titles are black on a pinky lavender bar. Swords cards are indigo and lavender, with the titles written on a lavender-blue bar. Pentacles cards are shades of green and brown, with the titles written on a pale olive-green bar. Wands cards are orange-red and maroon, with the titles written on what I would call a rosy beige bar. The artist's "cool" and "warm" palettes make it easy to recognize the elemental associations in any given spread.

The World
The symbolism on the cards also ties in nicely with elemental associations. For example, the moon appears in in various phases on all of the Cups (Water) cards. Lions and dragons appear on many of the Wands (Fire) cards. Birds or butterflies appear on most of the Swords (Air) cards. Trees and plants dominate the scenes on the Pentacles (Earth) cards.

The colors of the Majors are not as clearly linked to the elements, although fiery colors do dominate The Sun, The Emperor, and Strength. Most of the other Majors are predominantly purple, violet, orchid, and magenta.


King of Wands
This deck is likely to appeal to readers who prefer traditional RWS titles and symbolism, but also like to work with cards that feature romantic, fantasy-style art suggestive of the Faerie realm. The level of detail in the images encourages closer study of the cards, yet is not overwhelming. Although the characters are not people you are likely to see in your everyday life, many of them are approachable and engaging. The Unknown Card may not appeal to everyone, but you don't have to use it if you don't like it. I recommend meditating on The Unknown Card before shuffling and drawing cards from this deck for a reading.

For more information, visit the Crystal Visions Tarot website at http://crystalvisionstarot.com/about.html

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this deck 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, November 14, 2011

5W's and an H: EIGHT OF SWORDS (by Zanna)

Today's edition of 5W's and an H features Tarot of a Moon Garden by Karen Marie Sweikhardt, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

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.


Who? Someone who can't or won't face a difficult situation.

What? Crisis, conflict, and turmoil.

When? When everything seems to be going wrong.

Where? In the darkest corners of your mind.

Why? Because we fear what we don't understand or control.

How? By opening your eyes to positive potential and real solutions.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Journey through My Decks: King 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 KING OF CUPS from the Tarot of the Era of Aquarius*. Having studied Russian language and history, I was naturally drawn to this deck designed by Marina Bolgarchuk and published in 1998. The scenes and characters on these cards carry a distinctly "fantasy" feeling to them (as opposed to a "Russian Culture and Civilization" feeling). The characters wear sweeping, swooping capes and garments with voluminous sleeves.

The LWB for this deck states that in general, Cups usually signify such ideas as love, luck, happiness, joy, goodness, and other deep or profound emotions. The suit also refers to marriage, children, and material delights. The Cups cards express wishes and desires that satisfy us in various ways, including love, celebrations, and rest or relaxation.

Kings in general are described as embodying authority, power, and might -- and they do not always take the form of an actual person. The characteristics of the suit influence the nature of any King, but there is usually a foundation or personality that exudes power and authority.

The King of Cups is viewed in this deck as being creative and thoughtful, with an engaging personality. He tends to be attentive and kind and may be connected with the arts, sciences, or religion. Reversed, there may be tendencies toward destructive behavior, self-destruction, or frivolity.

In Tarot of the Era of Aquarius, the King of Cups is dressed predominantly in red (passion, will-power, courage, strength, aggression), green (health, fertility, prosperity), and purple (power, royalty, imagination, mystery). He has a dreamy expression on his face, and one can't help wondering what is creating the silver smoke or steam that billows from his goblet.

Note: I take full responsibility for any errors that may have been made in my translation of the material in the LWB, which is written in Russian.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with The Gaian Tarot (by Zanna)

(To read my review of this deck, click HERE.)

I decided to interview The Gaian Tarot in my back yard, surrounded by oaks and maples wearing their gorgeous autumn colors, near the pond with its soothing, bubbling fountain. As I sat on a blanket, wondering which card would appear as the deck's representative, I saw a shimmering light emerge from the highest branches of my magnolia tree. I watched, fascinated, as the NINE OF EARTH descended slowly, touching down right beside me. I recognized the figure on the card immediately: It was Joanna Powell Colbert dressed in sky blue, carrying a sprig of lavender.

At first I was surprised, but then I realized that this was the perfect candidate for the interview -- not only because of the image on the card but because of the Affirmation that Colbert gives to the Nine of Earth: "I am grateful for the place I call home." Indeed, I do appreciate living in this lovely setting!

After sharing mint tea and an assortment of fruit, I began the interview.

How would you describe your essence or essential energy?


"My essence is the beauty, health, and refreshment available at all times from the natural world. My essential energy is that of the oceans, the lakes, the rivers, and the streams. This is the energy you need to seek when you want to replenish your emotional reserves. I contain the energy of all four elements, but Water offers the cleansing, purifying energy that will soothe your soul."

Which card do you feel reflects my essence or essential energy?


"Although your Sun sign is Sagittarius,  a Fire sign, its ruler, Jupiter, is in Pisces in your birth chart. Thus Water is a powerful part of your essence. You have reached a stage in your life at which you qualify as an Elder, not just due to physical age but based on experience and study. The harbor seal who accompanies the Elder of Water is your totem, a reminder to pay attention to your dreams and to make yourself at home in both your inner and outer worlds."

What story do you hope to tell me?


"The story I hope to tell you is a cautionary tale. I want to speak to you about Fire, which provides warmth and light, but can also injure and destroy. Fire is courage and transformation, yet it also rages and burns with anger. This story has more than one level. Its application to you, personally, must be acknowledged. Yet it is also important that you hear the message it brings concerning the world in which you live."

What should I not expect from you?

JUSTICE (Trump 11)

"Do not expect me to balance your karma for you. I can help you gain insight into your past actions and to examine your current motives and values. I may even be able to advise you on how to right any wrongs you wish to address. I am here to assist you as you seek to understand your place in the web of life. Yet ultimately the responsibility is yours."

Which card most closely represents us as a team?


"As a team we are most like a community or gathering of friends, working together to create and to nourish each other. Both of us represent and encompass many elements, characteristics, experiences, and world views. Together we are stronger than either of us can be alone."

With a friendly smile, the NINE OF EARTH caught a gentle breeze and sailed over the treetops. The light was fading. I gathered my blanket and went inside, having received much to consider and contemplate!

The Gaian Tarot
by Joanna Powell Colbert
Published by Llewellyn Worldwide

Saturday, November 5, 2011

REVIEW (by Zanna): The Gaian Tarot


The Gaian Tarot
Deck and Book Set
by Joanna Powell Colbert
Published by Llewellyn Worldwide (September 2011)
Book: 288 pages; 8.3 x 5.5 x 2.4 inches
ISBN-10: 0738718912
ISBN-13: 978-0738718910

I first encountered Joanna Powell Colbert's Gaian Tarot when I ordered the second edition of the Major Arcana cards back in 2004. I received a deck signed by Colbert: 22 glorious 5-1/4" by 3-1/2" cards printed on heavy stock, with shiny gold backs and a small spiral notebook bound in the same gold stock. I was attracted to these cards because of the images with their rich, natural colors and the real people who served as models.


"From the joyful brilliance of a golden field of sunflowers to the roiling waves of a sapphire-blue sea, our planet's divine beauty elicits a sense of wonder and reverence. Deeply spiritual and rooted in the natural world, the Gaian Tarot deck offers a true connection to our Earth Mother.
Presenting a lush, contemporary, and multicultural world steeped in Gaian myth and lore, internationally acclaimed artist Joanna Powell Colbert beautifully updates the classic Rider-Waite-Smith archetypes. Radiantly bearing new life, the gardener shines as the reimagined Empress, while the Magician is transformed into a ritual drummer . . ."


The Gaian Tarot consists of 78 cards and a 288-page guidebook. Some of the titles on the cards match those on traditional Tarot decks, but some do not. For example, instead of The Fool we have The Seeker; The Empress becomes The Gardener; and The Hanged Man is The Tree. The Minor Arcana cards are given elemental names: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The Court Cards are called Child, Explorer, Guardian, and Elder.

The guidebook provides an 8-page Introduction that covers The Meaning of "Gaian," Creating the Gaian Tarot, Tarot Structure, and Using the Deck and Book. As a group, the Major Arcana cards are described as "Soul Lessons." For each Major Arcana card, Colbert provides sections titled "When you get this card in a reading...", "When you read the Shadow side of this card," "Deepen Your Understanding of [Card Title]," Symbols, Journal Questions, and an Affirmation. Each Major Arcana card is given a subtitle: The Seeker (The Fool) is "A New Beginning," The Magician is "Spirit Made Manifest," and The Priestess (The High Priestess) is "Dreams, Voices, Visions."

The Minor Arcana cards are described as "Elements, Numbers, People." Colbert discusses the nature of the elements, the meaning of numbers, and the Court Cards as a group. She provides a brief introduction to the Aces, Twos, Threes, and so forth before discussing specific cards in detail. She also gives keywords for each number: Aces are "Birth, Potential, Gift of Grace," Twos are "Balance, Receptivity, Attraction, Test of Choice," and so forth. For each numbered card, Colbert gives an explanation of symbolism, "When you get this card in a reading...", "When you read the Shadow side of this card..." and an Affirmation.

Descriptions of the Court Cards are grouped under Children (Learning, Wondering, Beginning), Explorers (Seeking Challenges, Being Driven By a Quest), Guardians (Protecting and Nurturing the Community), and Elders (Holding Wisdom, Giving Counsel). As with other cards, each Court Card section has subsections for symbolism, "When you get this card in a reading...", "When you read the Shadow side of this card..." and Affirmation.

At the back of the book is a section called Working with the Cards, which contains information about Reading the Cards Intuitively, A Card a Day, and The Art of Asking Questions. We are then given some positional definitions for 3-card readings as well as several spreads. A Bibliography provides an excellent list of resources for further study.


Looking at the 3-1/4" by 4-1/2" cards in the Llewellyn set, I have to say that the colors are not as deep and vivid as those in the Major Arcana deck I received in 2004 from the author. However, the coloring is still very appealing. The glossy stock is not as heavy as my Major Arcana set, but it is comparable to most of the decks I own. The images have a white border which I think I would make narrower if I had a choice. If you like to trim the borders from your cards, you may have trouble with these because bits of the images extend into the borders. You might find yourself amputating the tail of a fish on The Canoe (The Chariot) card or the antlers of a deer on Gaiai The World. The titles of the cards appear at the bottom of each card in an unobtrusive, easy-to-read serif font.

The back of the cards features a lovely wreath of green leaves and purple flowers set against a deep blue night sky. In the center of the wreath we see a large, glowing orb of light.

The cards can be shuffled without difficulty, although I always recommend against using the "poker card" shuffle with Tarot cards. I much prefer the push-pull method, or laying the cards face-down on a large surface and spreading them around.


The art is realistic, as one might expect in a deck that is connected so closely with Mother Earth. It is clear that real people were used as models for many if not all of the cards. On her "Thank You" page, Colbert expresses appreciation to her husband "for being willing to model for half a dozen cards on a moment's notice." Joanna Powell Colbert herself appears on the Nine of Earth card.

I love that the people on the cards range in age from very young to very old. They are diverse in terms of race, gender, and cultural background.

The coloring of the cards brings to mind words such as "rich," "deep," and "natural." The Fire cards sizzle with red and orange; Water cards overflow with peaceful blues, greens, and purples; brown and green roll through the Earth cards; and soothing shades of blue breathe life into the Air cards.

Lifelike animals appear on many cards, and the scenery contains a delightful amount of detail.


The book Journey through the Gaian Tarot offers an inspiring collection of facts, mythology, numerology, symbology, and mysticism. Colbert skillfully blends the Tarot with the natural world, introducing us to Gaia, "the primal Greek goddess who embodies the earth" and the concept of earth-centered spirituality, which means "to both give and receive spiritual sustenance from the natural world."

I especially like Colbert's discussion of the themes of each card and her use of the term "the Shadow side" instead of "Reversal." Her discussion of the symbolism on each card is extremely useful and enlightening. The Journal Questions encourage deeper understanding and enrich the reader's experience with the cards.

If you prefer decks that strictly adhere to the traditional names for the cards, you might be put off by the changes Colbert has made to these cards. However, I do not find this to interfere with my enjoyment of the cards. Her new names are logical and meaningful.

Mary K. Greer has described The Gaian Tarot as a "doorway into a community of people living close to the land and its creatures." I agree. The people, settings, and messages of these cards will enhance your life, no matter what spiritual path you follow. 

To read my interview with this deck, click HERE.

For more information about Joanna Powell Colbert and The Gaian Tarot, visit http://www.gaiantarot.com/ and http://gaiantarot.typepad.com/artists_journal/ .

Friday, November 4, 2011

One Card One Meaning: KING OF PENTACLES

For this series -- "One Card One Meaning" -- I will pull one card from a deck and offer a brief, simple *possible* interpretation -- not the ONLY interpretation, of course, but one possible interpretation of that card from that deck. I hope you will offer your thoughts on each card as well!

Today's card is from Tarot of the Old Path by Sylvia Gainsford and Howard Rodway (AGMuller).

A shrewd, sensible, practical approach is needed as you seek to rely only on those who have proven themselves trustworthy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Interview with Ana Cortez

Ana Cortez
Ana Cortez, the author of The Playing Card Oracles (A Source Book for Divination), describes the book as "the result of a remarkable journey that began more than twenty years ago, a journey not of miles but personal discovery." I invited Ana to join us here at Tarot Notes to talk about her journey and how we all might benefit from what she has learned.

Hello, Ana, and welcome to Tarot Notes: Major and Minor!

Tarot Notes (TN): I love the part of your book where you describe the first time you saw your father's paintings of playing cards. Would you tell our blog readers a little bit about that experience?

Ana Cortez (AC): Certainly! As I remember it, I was in the ninth grade, visiting Dad from out of state, as my parents were not together at that time. Well, my dad’s whole house was kind of like a museum of things strange, to begin with. One day he took me down the narrow creeky staircase to the basement to see his current project. There were teeny tiny rooms - dirt floors - stuffed with stacks of large paintings, the image for the King of Hearts in progress on the easel. He was weird looking, no doubt. Sort of ghostly with  flouncy vermillion attire. My dad showed me how the names of my sister and myself had been worked into the folds of the fabric on this King. Really, to me at the time, it was just one more curious thing my dad was doing.

TN: In the book you mention learning about reading the cards from a woman named Lainy and another woman called Laddy LaDoux. How did those experiences propel you along your path?

AC: Well, Lainy in particular made a huge impression on me in terms of card reading. She was equally as strange as the weird things my dad was collecting in his house. He took her in from the street and taught her card reading. He pasted together a 52-card deck for her using photographs of his paintings from the basement. She had such a peculiar and child-like way of looking at things. She existed in her own magical world. To me (at about age 18), it was the first adult I had ever seen who lived like a child. This is so important in tapping in to messages from the Spirit world - to be like a child. She taught me this.

TN: How old were you when you decided to write a book about reading the cards? Were you inspired or prompted by anything in particular at the time?

AC: I guess I was about 30 or 31 years old, on the heels of a crushing Saturn return. Writing the book was my therapy. Meditating on the cards was a way to focus my energy. Also, along with this, I felt a very palpable calling, or responsibility to write the book. The information that was coming through about the 52-card deck was so profound, so detailed, and so unlike anything else that my dad and I realized we had to document everything.

TN: Would you explain to our readers how a deck of playing cards can be seen as a "time machine"?

AC: Well, it actually is a time machine put into card form. This allows you to shuffle and cycle through time. The numerology in the deck is so obviously derived from natural time keeping. I hear people pull numerological correspondences together as proof for this and that just seems like such a stretch. The 52-card deck is not that way. It is plain, simple, and obvious.
  • 52 cards are the 52 weeks of the year and the 52 years of the Mayan cycle.
  • The 4 suits are the 4 seasons of that year. 
  • The 13 cards in each suit represent the 13 weeks in each season. Did you know there are exactly 13 weeks in each season? I did not know that until I studied the cards. 
  • If you add every number in the suit, you get 91 - and there are exactly 91 days in each season.
  • 364 numbers total in the deck, corresponds to 364 days in the lunar year. The deck is a lunar or natural calendar. So we must use it as such. There is no known game that uses a calendar, except of course, the game of prophecy.
TN: Do you have a favorite memory or story about a specific reading that you did using the methods you describe in The Playing Card Oracles?

AC: Oh there are so many. I have been reading this way for so long. If I have to choose, it is typically the most recent reading I have done, because they linger with me. To me, to be a good reader, you are always learning from your cards - always maintaining that child-like perspective. When anything feels stagnant it is time to re-evaluate how you are doing your readings. My expectation with each reading is to be the child walking out the door into my very first snowfall.

TN: In the book, you write that geomancy "makes use of the seven original planets of astrology plus the North and South Nodes of the moon." How would you describe the degree of difficulty involved in using geomantic calculations with a playing card deck?

AC: Oh, it is so easy.  I am surprised at how many people assign difficulty to this aspect of the system before they have given it a try. It is as easy as throwing an I-Ching figure. Odd and even. It is not hard. Learning the meanings of the 52 cards and how to lay them out should be more intimidating than learning the 16 figures of geomancy. Plus, always, you pull in the information that is useful in a reading. Not everything on the table is relevant. The amount of information possible in a spread would be overwhelming if you attempted to analyze every single detail. That is not necessary to give a good reading.

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

AC: I so appreciate the opportunity to give this interview, Zanna! The 52-card deck has existed under a veil for so so long. It is time for the gifts encoded here to come out into the open. We have been in the dark ages for so long, on so many levels. It is no coincidence that the secrets embedded in the deck so many centuries ago are coming out now (like everything else!!), as we approach the galactic center.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To find out more about Ana Cortez and the Playing Card Oracles or to request a reading from Ana Cortez, please visit www.anacortez.com. I highly recommend listening to the recordings of her interviews on Transitions Radio out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, posted on that site!

To read my review of her book The Playing Card Oracles, please click HERE.

To see a practice reading I did with the Playing Card Oracles Divination Deck (with comments by Ana Cortez), please click HERE.