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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cards and Quotes: The Gryphon

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

REVIEW: Tarot of the Magicians


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

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

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Talent and Career Potential Reading

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

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

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


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

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

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

(1) Writing, teaching, communications, innovative career

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

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

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

(2) The theatre, diplomacy service occupations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) Law, banking, The Power Structure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In the Stars: Transiting Venus square Natal Pluto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what this might sound like:

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

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

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

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

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

Judgment: "What's your point?"

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

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

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

Monday, December 3, 2012

Words from the Wise: Nature's Wisdom Oracle

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Journey Through My Decks: 10 of Swords

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 TEN OF SWORDS from  Tarot of the Origins (Sergio Toppi /  LoScarabeo).

Tarot of the Origins (LoScarabeo)

In the four suits are as follows:
  • The Soul suit (blue) - refers to the traditional Chalices (Cups) suit
  • The Jewels suit (yellow) - refers to the traditional Pentacles suit
  • The Nature suit (green) - refers to the traditional Wands suit
  • The Blood suit (red) - refers to the traditional Swords suit

In the little white book (LWB) that comes with the deck, Pietro Alligo and Manfredi Toraldo write:
"The Blood suit was defined in place of Swords as the last suit, developing the meaning of energy, movement, and in some cases, aggressiveness and representing every action tied to survival: hunt, war, etc." The Ten of Blood is called "Environment of Blood." The LWB describes the image on the card as "a piece of meat cooking on the fire and a man seemingly self-satisfied for the meal which he is about to prepare."
The keyword provided for this card in the LWB is Satisfaction -- which could be seen as the opposite of the meaning given to the Ten of Swords in Book T*: Ruin.

Thoth Tarot (U.S. Games)

In his Pictorial Key to the Tarot  (WeiserBooks) A.E. Waite allows that the Ten of Swords reversed can suggest "advantage, profit, success, favour" then hastens to add "but all of them transient." Bummer.

Rider Tarot (U.S. Games)

For the moment, however, let's dwell on the obvious satisfaction and joy we see in the face of the man on the Tarot of the Origins card. He seems to be very much "in the moment," pleased that he has made it through another day and that he knows where his next meal is coming from. That's all that matters to him right now.

* 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.

About the deck: Llewellyn, the publisher that distributes Tarot of the Origins, describes it as "the perfect expression of raw, primal archetypal conditions while maintaining the complexity of the modern human experience. . . . allowing the reader to reconnect with humankind's shared spiritual origins."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Life Lesson Spread from Helen!

It is my pleasure to welcome an exceptional Tarot reader and dear friend, Helen Howell, as a guest blogger today on Tarot Notes.

Some time ago Helen shared a spread on this blog called _Spirit Message Reading_, which examined something that one's guides wanted to get across right now. The spread she shares today takes that idea a little further in that it asks what is the one lesson that they feel we should learn in this life.

And now... here's Helen!

Life Lesson Spread

The Layout

Hello everyone! Helen here.

The Positional Definitions are:
1: What's the one lesson in this life that my spirit guide/s want me to learn?
2: Why do they need me to learn this?
3: How will they help me to achieve this?
4: How will I recognise the signs from them?
5: What will be the outcome of completing this task?

I'll take this spread for a run and show you it working - shuffling up my Joie de Vivre Tarot (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Joie de Vivre Tarot
1: What's the one lesson in this life that my guide/s want me to learn?
Five of Swords

From the image of this card, and it's quite different from the traditional RWS image, the message I am getting about the one lesson I need to learn in this life is that life is not a battle, and that there is no need to prove myself in any way. It seems to say all this does is isolate one from another. I thought I had a pretty good handle on this, but the ego is a tricksy thing and if allowed will show itself. I understand this and the temptation when in a group to shine along with the rest. I guess I must still work on this one.

Joie de Vivre Tarot
2: Why do they need me to learn this?
Three of Swords

They need me to learn this lesson, so that I do not bring unhappiness upon myself and that I can instead focus on things that really are important. The ego can dull one's view and when not focusing on it you are able to see things in a different light.

3: How will they help me to achieve this?
Four of Swords

They will guide me in meditations that will allow me to gain a better perspective on my life and my achievements. If I take the time to be quiet and still they will help me to heal from things in my past that make me feel I should prove myself and I will emerge with a different focus.

Joie de Vivre Tarot
4: How will I recognise any signs from them?
Two of Wands

All I have to do is trust my intuition. It will tune into any messages they want me to receive and help me take the next best step in my journey and growth. By staying in harmony with my thoughts, feelings and higher self, I will be able to create with their help a life that offers me more benefit from a spiritual point of view and an emotional one.

Joie de Vivre Tarot
5: What will be the outcome of completing this task?
Three of Cups

Harmony will be fully restored, and I will achieve what they desire for me, which is a balance between mind, body and soul. This in turn will improve not just my life as it is, but also my relationships with those around me.

Putting this all together it seems that the life lesson I need to learn is to be content to be who I am, and release all desire to prove myself, because in the end this is not important to my spiritual journey. They will assist me through meditation and I should trust my intuition to guide me and translate the messages they send. Once I have completely overcome any desire to prove myself or compete in anyway, I will have achieved the balance required that will enhance my time on this earth, not just spiritually but physically too.

You'll notice that in this set of cards there are no Majors, and so that tells me that this is something I am making progress with but still need to pay attention to in my everyday life. Also the majority of cards are swords and this relates to my thinking. So the change has to come in the way I think about things.

Thanks to my spiritual guide/s for reminding me of this worthy lesson that I embarked on only a couple of years ago - obviously I still have a way to go.

If you try the spread, do come back and tell Zanna and me how it worked for you.

~ Helen Howell

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Deck Test: Oswald Wirth Tarot

Awhile back I developed a _Deck Test_ -- a 3-card reading (partly in fun) for insight into how well I can expect to work with a new deck.  One of my recent acquisitions is the esteemed Oswald Wirth Tarot (U.S. Games Systems). Let's see what the potential is for our partnership.

Here is the spread:

(1) Drawn from Pips only
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being "absolutely fabulous" and 1 being "truly awful"), how does my ability to work with this deck rate as of right now?

(2) Drawn from Court Cards only
What personality trait(s) do I need to cultivate if I want to be able to work better with this deck in the future?

(3) Drawn from Majors only
How likely is it that I will be able to do amazing, awesome, astonishingly accurate readings with this deck?
Trumps 0-6 = not very likely
Trumps 7-14 = somewhat likely
Trumps 15-21 = very likely

Results for the Oswald Wirth:

Not too bad! It appears I already have a connection to this deck that could very well grow with time.

(2) REINE DE DENIERS (Queen of Coins)
Patience, commitment, determination, taking a practical approach. With a strong Earth influence in my birth chart, I identify with this intelligent and thoughtful Queen. Cultivating her most positive qualities will help me work even better with this deck than I already do.

(3) TRUMP 17 - LES ETOILES (The Stars)
Ah, excellent. It is "very likely" that I will be able to do amazing, awesome, astonishingly accurate readings with this deck. :D

I like the way down-to-earth, practical energy blends with wishes and dreams in these three cards. I sense a very nurturing, generous spirit that will help me read with compassion and attention to detail when using this deck.

Monday, November 19, 2012

REVIEW: Sacred Sites Tarot


Sacred Sites Tarot
Concept by Massimiliano Filadoro
Artwork by Federico Penco
78 cards
Lo Scarabeo / Llewellyn Publications / 2012
Art Tarot collection edited by Pietro Alligo
ISBN 10: 0738735000
ISBN 13: 978-0738735009

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I really like the international flavor of this deck, which includes sacred sites, people, and mythical characters from a huge number of cultures. Although the theme is "sites," I appreciate that artist Federico Penco includes people in most of the paintings, helping us relate to the cards personally. Even if I were not going to try to read with this deck, I would enjoy studying the images and "visiting" each site via the descriptions in the instruction booklet.

The fact that the cards do not have titles might be unappealing to some, especially those who are just beginning to learn tarot. I would not recommend this deck for beginners who want to learn the "traditional" Tarot card symbols, imagery, and interpretations. However, the deck could certainly be used by someone who prefers to read through intuition alone.

You can watch a video of an interview with Massimiliano Filadoro (concept) and Federico Penco (artwork) at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daykj5eEy9E&feature=plcp


"From Stonehenge to the Egyptian Pyramids to the Taj Mahal, the world is filled with holy structures and ancient places shimmering with mystical energy. Recognized over the centuries for their mysterious connection to the Divine, the power of these revered sites is still felt today. This utterly unique tarot offers a rare opportunity to connect with the age-old wisdom of temples, shrines, and sacred places across five continents."

  • Theme: Sacred Sites ranging from "the most remote past to modern times"
  • Number of Cards: 78
  • Major Arcana: 0 (The Fool / Mount Graham) - 21 (The World / Shambhala)
  • Justice is 8; Strength is 11
  • Majors are numbered in the upper left and lower right corner, using Roman numerals, but do not bear titles
  • Court Cards: Knave, Knight, Queen, King
  • Courts have a suit symbol top and center and a title-related symbol bottom center (helmet for Knave, horse for Knight, different types of crowns for Queen and King)
  • Suits: Chalices (Places of Water), Pentacles (Places of Earth), Wands (Places of Fire), Swords (Places of Air)
  • Pips have a suit symbol top and center and a number bottom center in XXXX style; the Aces bear the number "1" instead of the word "Ace"
  • Little White Book (LWB) contains Introduction and 10 pages in English, with translations of those pages into Italian, Spanish, French, and German


Although the deck is structured traditionally, it is not a Rider-Waite "clone." The imagery is culture-specific, but those familiar with the RWS deck will understand why a few of the sites and characters were chosen for specific cards.

For example, the idea of sacrifice connected with The Hanged Man, works well with the choice of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for Trump 12. Krakatoa, which erupted violently in 1883, seems an appropriate choice for Trump 16, The Tower. On the Judgement card, a huge angel literally blows down the walls of Jericho with her horn. On Strength, a woman poses next to a sculpture of a lion. The Chariot depicts a man sitting on a wagon at a sanctuary.

The card faces have light blue borders. You will not be able to trim these borders without losing the card numbers, suit symbols, and Court Card symbols. However, I find the borders to be unobtrusive.

On the faces of the Majors an image of the world peeks up from behind the upper right corner and lower left corner of the main image. Card backs are light blue with a slightly darker blue design and an image of the world in the center.

The cards measure 2.7 (w) x 4.9 inches, and are printed on average weight stock.


Federico Penco chose watercolors for the artwork in this deck. He felt this allowed him to show real places with actual details, while conveying the mystical or exotic nature of many of these sites. The cards have a high level of detail, which makes them fascinating to study.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

4 of Swords - Astrological Associations

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve a planet, a zodiac sign, and/or a house. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, there are other associations out there. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations. (The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is intended to be interesting and fun!)

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

Thoth Tarot
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Four of Swords is linked with the placement of Jupiter (luck, expansion, optimism, generosity) in Libra (a Cardinal Air sign known for being peaceable, artistic, and socially adept).

Crowley titles the card "Truce" and notes "the card proclaims the idea of authority in the intellectual world. It is the establishment of dogma, and law concerning it. It represents a refuge from mental chaos, chosen in an arbitrary manner. It argues for convention." Crowley also writes: "Minds too indolent or too cowardly to think out their own problems hail joyfully this policy of appeasement."

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "Faith/hope (Jupiter) for peace and justice (Libra)." 

Whispering Tarot
The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Four of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Jupiter/Libra. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "Rest, retreat, reconsideration of a matter." Well-dignified, the Four of Swords may suggest "Recuperation after an illness or injury." Ill-dignified: "May be impatience, or a rash need to take action of some sort."

One World Tarot
One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Four of Swords with the third subdivision of Gemini, along with its natural ruler, Mercury, and subruler, the Sun. She writes: "The creative powers of the Sun are added in abundance to the literary and talented Gemini."

Mandala Astrological Tarot
The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Four of Swords with the energy of Mercury (planet of the mind and communication) in Libra. Mann calls Swords Two, Three, and Four "The Winds of Libra," and links the Four of Swords with the period between October 13 and October 22. Yellow is the color associated with Mercury and green is associated with Libra on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Four of Swords: "Creative thinking within already existing patterns often avoids unpleasant but critical issues." Reversed: "A lack of tact and a tendency to overintellectualize."

_The Tarot and Astrology_ by David Thornton
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

_David Thornton_  associates the Four of Swords with the placement of the planet Mercury in the Seventh House (House of Partnership, Relationships, and Marriage). The Seventh House in astrology is associated with the sign Libra, an Air sign (in keeping with the association of the suit of Swords with Air).

David Thornton's description of the energy of the Four of Swords is: "Creative thinking within set limits. A well developed sense of justice. An ability to see both sides of an issue."

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

In Anna Cook's TD system, Subject Card Four signifies Incentive and Security (Tarot Dynamics) or "Belonging and Security" (Tarot Dynamics Unleashed). The key word for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Incentive and Security (or Belonging and Security) for the Four of Swords.

In astrology the Fourth House, ruled by the Moon, is commonly known as the House of Home and Family (among other things). The Moon represents emotions. The sign associated with the Fourth House is Cancer. However, Cook uses the third decan of Libra for the Four of Swords.

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)

Just when we think we are safe with an "Air" association for the Four of Swords, we read that Thierens associates the Four of Swords with "The element Earth on the Fourth house." He writes: "The element of Earth on the Fourth house, house of the home and the sign Cancer . . . Solitude, repose, retreat, retiring from the world. . . gathering, collecting, taking home one's savings or impressions, meditation, economy, avarice, precaution, testament, and the place occupied at the end of life."

(Note: If you are interested in learning more about this system put forth by Thierens, I recommend the book referenced above.)

In summary, for the Four of Swords we have:
  • Crowley and Hazel with a Jupiter/Libra association
  • Love with Gemini/Mercury/Sun
  • Mann with Mercury/Libra
  • Thornton with Mercury/7th House (ruled by Libra)
  • Cook with Libra
  • Thierens with Earth/4th House (ruled by Cancer)

With the exception of Thierens, the common factor in all of these is the element Air, whether represented by Gemini or Libra. Planet-wise we have our choice of Jupiter, Mercury, or the Sun. 

I do like the incorporation of Mercury and/or Gemini into the interpretation of the Four of Swords. Mercury, planet of the mind, rules Gemini. The image on this card in traditional RWS-based decks certainly suggests deep thought and contemplation. That image also seems appropriate for a Libra association, with Libra being the sign of harmony and peace. Jupiter, to me, implies a beneficent influence for the most part. However, the association of Jupiter with "excess" could caution us to avoid taking retreat or repose too far, perhaps because we fear confrontation or "getting on with" something we are reluctant to do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Take a Number: NINE!

I am working my way through the numbers, comparing the ways in which I have used them in Tarot readings with observations and comments from numerologists and occultists. I welcome your comments and observations about this fascinating subject!

Tarot Cards: The Hermit, Nines of all suits


Writing about the occult meaning of numbers, Paul Foster Case gives the following keywords for Nine: "completion, attainment, fulfilment, the goal of endeavor, the end of a cycle of activity. . . yet. . . completion is not absolute cessation. The end of one cycle is the beginning of another." Case adds that "In Qabalah, 9 is called Basis or Foundation, and corresponds to the mode of consciousness named Pure or Clear Intelligence, because the completion of any process is the pure, clear, unadulterated expression of the intention or idea which initiated that process." (The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Macoy Publishing Company)
Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (U.S. Games)

Gary Meister, CTM offers the key phrase "End Of A Cycle Of Life" for the number Nine. He writes: "Numerologically, life is lived in a series of cycles consisting of nine levels. . . They are actually a series of cyclical spirals. When we complete one cycle, we are a little higher than we started -- usually. . . In a reading, Nine indicates the completion of a cycle in the area of life suggested by the Element involved. As an example, the Nine of Swords could indicate that one is completing a cycle of learning."

In his book Numerology: Key to the Tarot (Whitford Press), Sandor Konraad gives the Keywords "emotionally charged, humanitarian, universal" for the number Nine. He writes: "In the beginning the 1 entered the world stage as an individual concerned only with self and ego. The 9 has now grown in wisdom and is concerned with all of humanity."

Quoting from Numerology and The Divine Triangle by Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker (Whitford Press): "9 is selflessness and compassion. . . Keywords: love, compassion, patience, universality, tolerance, selfless service, endings."

The web site Numberquest.com provides the following key words for the number Nine: "Humanitarian, compassionate, romantic, selfless, generous, philanthropic, loving, wisdom, idealist, artistic, spiritual healer, all allowing, other worldly, blending."

In Anna Burroughs Cook's Tarot Dynamics system, Subject Card 9 represents understanding. She notes: "Understanding refers to your willingness to expand your horizons. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. . . Like the 9th House in Astrology and Card 9 the Hermit, the ninth subject card also tests or rewards your beliefs, values and understanding. . . They can assist you in tying up whatever loose ends could be impeding your progress as well as any you've been avoiding." (Tarot Dynamics Unleashed / Kima Global Publishers)


Konraad views The Hermit as: "The 'Wilderness Card' -- a time of searching or spiritual renewal. A person who is fearful and cautious." Reversed, the card can suggest "Rashness. Lack of control."

For Javane and Bunker, Key 9 is "a symbol of ageless wisdom, standing on the mountain of attainment. . . He has achieved mastery."

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (U.S. Games)

Anna Cook writes that the Personal Strength of Key Nine is Logic; the Personal Weakness is Irrationality. Her keywords for The Hermit are Karmic / Understanding.

My keywords for the Number Nine are basis for completion, endings, preparation (for new cycle), growth through experience, perfection, integration, and fruition.

I hope you enjoy these quotations I found that include the number Nine:

“There are nine requisites for contented living: HEALTH enough to make work a pleasure; WEALTH enough to support your needs; STRENGTH enough to battle with difficulties and forsake them; GRACE enough to confess your sins and overcome them; PATIENCE enough to toil until some good is accomplished; CHARITY enough to see some good in your neighbor; LOVE enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others; FAITH enough to make real the things of God; HOPE enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist

“Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.” ~ George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist; 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature

“The cat has nine lives: three for playing, three for straying, three for staying.” ~ Proverb

“There are nine orders of angels, to wit, angels, archangels, virtues, powers, principalities, dominations, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim.” ~ Billy Graham (1918-), American evangelist

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Tarot Foundations: 31 Days to Read Tarot With Confidence


Tarot Foundations: 31 Days to Read Tarot With Confidence
written and published by Brigit Esselmont
Publication Date: September 2012

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

This is, without question, a comprehensive, thorough guide to reading the Tarot. For the most part, if you are just getting into Tarot, you really can't go wrong with Tarot Foundations. Not only will you get the basics, you'll be guided through specific exercises and activities that will help you internalize the symbolism, significance, and sense of each card. Brigit Esselmont's engaging, conversational writing style makes reading a pleasure.

I like the fact that Brigit deliberately omits astrological correspondences from this introductory-level book. She writes that this is "due to the complexity of astrology." I appreciate that! It really bugs me when someone presents a specific set of Tarot-Astrology associations (usually the system developed by the Golden Dawn) as if it were the only existing set of correspondences, often without even saying where that set of correspondences came from or revealing that there are other systems out there. If you are going to get into astrological associations, I feel you need to cover more than just one system, and that really does become quite complex.

I also like that Brigit's learning system combines both rational and intuitive learning. The system presented in this book is highly organized and "left brain" in many ways (which I personally appreciate), but students are also encouraged to let their subconscious mind and intuition become involved in interpreting the cards.

Another "plus" from my point of view is Brigit's comment that the Celtic Cross spread is not necessarily the best spread to use for everything. In her words, "I don’t know why, but so often, the Celtic Cross is taught as one of the first Tarot spreads to use. Yet this spread is highly complex and often inappropriate for the question in mind." I also appreciate Brigit's comment that it's perfectly okay to purchase your own deck, rather than waiting for someone to "gift" it to you.

One thing I feel I need to take issue with: The section on selecting a Tarot deck lists "some of the more popular Tarot decks" to help the student "get started." Listed are the Rider Waite, Crowley Thoth, Osho Zen, Robin Wood, Enchanted Tarot, and the Golden Tarot. I am concerned that students reading this book might think these decks are being recommended for beginners to use with the Tarot Foundations eBook. Unfortunately, several of them would probably be very confusing and difficult to use with this book. For example, someone might buy the Osho Zen deck only to discover that it has different names for the Major Arcana cards and suits. I think it might have been more helpful in this situation to list decks specially suited to a beginner who is using Tarot Foundations -- i.e., decks based on the Rider-Waite tradition (which Brigit uses to illustrate the book) in terms of Major Arcana titles, suit names, court cards, and so forth.

Overall, I heartily endorse Tarot Foundations: 31 Days to Read Tarot With Confidence. It is comprehensive and provides a structured yet engaging approach to learning to read the cards.

(a combination of statements from the Tarot Foundations web page)

"The Tarot is a powerful tool we can use to access our subconscious and tap into the wisdom and answers that reside in all of us. You can learn the Tarot just as easily as I (or anyone else) and become equally as skilled. Yes, it takes time and yes, it takes practice…but it’s all really very simple. I have taken everything I’ve learned in my 15 years’ experience as a professional Tarot reader and broken it down into one, easy to use system. In this practical, hands-on learning system I’ll show you how to become a successful and confident Tarot reader in just 31 days. It truly is that easy."


Brigit Esselmont is a professional Tarot reader, blogger, self-published author and mentor who started reading Tarot when she was 18 years old. She started her first website in 1999 and later created her first eBook. In 2009, she updated the eBook and re-titled it The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings. Brigit views the Tarot as "an excellent tool for analysing problems and identifying solutions," adding that Tarot readers do not have to be a "fifth generation psychic or see auras around people" as long as they are open to connecting with their intuition and the energy around them. She firmly believes that "Tarot can be learned. It doesn’t have to be a ‘gift’."


With its professional layout and design and color illustrations, Tarot Foundations is easy and pleasant to read.

This 145 page eBook is divided into 31 lessons and over 60 activities that you can work through in your own time. The lessons are grouped as follows:
  • Days 1 – 5: Getting Started
  • Days 6 – 18: Learning the Tarot Card Meanings
  • Days 19 – 23: Deepening Your Tarot Knowledge
  • Days 24 – 29: Learning to Read Tarot with Confidence
  • Days 30 – 31: Establishing Your Networks

Brigit provides more detail about each of these sections on her Tarot Foundations web page: http://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-guides/tarot-foundations/

Examples of subsections within the chapters are:
  • Day 1: Learn About the Tarot
  • Day 8: Learn to Create Keyword Charts
  • Day 16: Understand Basic Numerology
  • Day 23: Create Tarot Card Combinations
  • Day 28: Discover Timing Through Tarot
  • Day 31: Practice Your Tarot Reading Skills
In Brigit's words, "Each day you’ll be given in-depth instruction on a specific area of the Tarot that is essential to reading Tarot with confidence. Every lesson is followed by something to DO and to put your knowledge into action."

The book continues beyond Day 31 with a section called Where to From Here? and an Appendix that contains Tools and Templates (for example, keyword charts and card profiles).

When you purchase Tarot Foundations you are invited to join other readers in the Tarot Foundations (TF) Community Garden, where students can learn from and connect with each other as you progress through the program.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lenormand Exercise

Many thanks to InnerWhispers for directing me to Jase's Lenormand Five-Finger Exercise!

Being totally new to the Lenormand deck, I decided to try this 3-card exercise. The steps are these (adapted from the Five-Finger Exercise web page referenced above):

(1) Theme card: Lay out a card. Look at it, think about its meaning, and think about what you want to know regarding that card.

(2) Draw a second card, and it will be the answer to the question.

(3) Optionally, draw a third card and treat this as the outcome of the two cards you’ve already examined.

I am using my French Cartomancy deck (Lo Scarabeo). Here we go!

French Cartomancy (Lo Scarabeo)
(1)  Theme: Card 34 / Fish

I like fish. I eat fish a couple times a week. Fish is the symbol for the zodiac sign Pisces. I see the King of Diamonds on this card, which suggests leadership, control, and/or wise counsel. In the LWB by Laura Twan, keywords for this card upright are "Success proportional to the speed of the action." Her advice is: "Act quickly but without losing your head."

None of this is really *speaking* to me, so I turn to The Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle by Sylvie Steinbach for more clues. According to Steinbach, the Fish card relates to self-employment and freelance work. . . businesses and entrepreneurs. Now we're getting somewhere! I am the sole proprietor of three small businesses. It looks like the question I need to ask here relates to that area of my life.

My question: What do I need to understand about my jewelry-making business?

French Cartomancy (Lo Scarabeo)
(2) Answer: Card 14 / Fox

To me, a fox symbolizes slyness and cleverness, instinctive behavior, adaptability, and survival. Twan's advice: "Always be watchful of other people's plans: Some could harm you." Her keywords for the upright card: "Vigilance, astuteness, hidden intentions." Hmmm... it sounds like in my jewelry business, I need to be alert when dealing with or collaborating with other people.

Interestingly, Steinbach writes: "The fox usually applies to a job while the fish card talks about a business." She adds that the card "could also reveal deceit, lies and manipulation. . . traps and disloyalty among 'friends' or coming from new acquaintances. Prudence in all actions and words is advisable."

I like to think that I am always prudent where my jewelry business is concerned, but it seems I need to make sure to be extra vigilant in this area.

French Cartomancy (Lo Scarabeo)
(3) Outcome: Card 7 / Snake (reversed)

Yikes. I am very leery of snakes, mainly because I don't have ready knowledge about which ones are poisonous and which are harmless. However, if I know that a particular snake is not poisonous and I am allowed to interact with it in a controlled environment (for example, a zoo or animal park), I'm okay.

Twan describes this card reversed as representing "hypocrisy, justified jealousy, misplaced trust." She advises: "Don't trust a woman who is dark-haired, kind, and loving only in appearance."

Steinbach writes: "The snake predicts difficulties of all sorts: disappointments, jealousy, manipulations and tricks brought on by familiar people." Further, Steinbach states that the number 7 could symbolize that the outcome could occur in 7 days, 7 weeks, or during the month of July. Snake plus Fish: "business troubles, illegal practices." Snake plus Fox: "serious enemies, bad employee, tough job."

Oh dear. Fortunately I believe that an Outcome card typically represents what might happen IF the advice of the other cards in a spread is not followed. So I feel that if I remain vigilant (or possibly raise my own personal threat level somewhat), I should be able to detect and avoid the disastrous results suggested by the Snake.

This has been. . . well, maybe not fun exactly but certainly informative and intriguing. I shall try it again sometime!