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Monday, February 27, 2012

Cards and Quotes: THE HERMIT

Today's Cards and Quotes features The Hermit from The Hudes Tarot by Susan Hudes (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.).

“The mind can weave itself warmly in the cocoon of its own thoughts, 
and dwell a hermit anywhere.”
~ James Russell Lowell, American Poet and Essayist

Thursday, February 23, 2012

REVIEW: The Secret Language of Birds Tarot



The Secret Language of Birds Tarot
by Adele Nozedar
Paintings by Linda Sutton
Boxed Set: 78 Art Cards, Trade Paperback Book (208 pgs)
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. / 2011
ISBN: 9780764339004


"Birds were once considered to be messengers from the Gods to humankind, and the Tarot was once called '...the game of Gods and Birds.' . . Every bird in this beautifully illustrated 78-card deck has been carefully chosen for its relationship to each Tarot card, and uses mythology, folklore, and legend, as well as the natural characteristics of each bird, to underline that connection."

In keeping with Tarot tradition, this deck has of 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana cards, including 16 Court cards.

The 208-page paperback book that accompanies this deck is a great value all by itself. It begins with brief bios of the author, Adele Nozedar, and artist, Linda Sutton. Nozedar is a  photographer, musician,  expert in augury, author of several books, and member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Sutton is a British artist whose paintings are displayed in many international and private and public collections. Click on their names at the top to find out more about each of these super-talented women!

A Little Bird Told Me...
Following the bios, Dedications, Acknowledgments, and Contents is a Foreword titled "A Little Bird told Me..." by Philip Carr-Gomm, Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Carr-Gomm explains that the deck combines the original Italian names for the Major Arcana with "half a dozen faces of famous singers to be discovered by opera lovers or the simply curious." The history of Opera, like that of Tarot, is linked with Italy. Carr-Gomm also writes that with this deck, we are being invited to hear the Tarot's song.

Introduction: The Winged Chariot
Adele Nozedar's informative Introduction is an entertaining read that includes discussions of when and why people turned to birds as messengers of the gods, free will and destiny, and combining Tarot and ornithomancy. We are also given a short history of the Tarot, with a description of "The Game of Birds & Gods" referenced in writings as early as 1420.

Major Arcana
For each Major, the book includes four pages of material, including a black-and-white illustration of the card, its number, title (traditional name in English followed by an Italian title and its English translation), a quotation related to the card, Keywords, Description, and an in-depth discussion of the symbolism and meaning for that card. The last entry for each Major describes the reversed meaning of the card.

The suits are the typical Cups, Wands, Swords, and Coins, with each suit assigned to a particular type of bird. The associations are as follows:
  • North - Earth - Wren - Coins (Denari)
  • South - Fire - Skylark - Wands (Bastoni)
  • East - Air - Seagull - Swords (Spade)
  • West - Water - Kingfisher - Cups (Coppe)
The book devotes a page to each suit and its bird. For each pip, we are given Keywords, a Question Inspired by this Card, an Upright meaning, and a Reversed meaning. I love the Questions. It would be fun to draw a card at random and then do a reading to answer the question associated with that card. For example, the Question for the Ace of Cups is "What can make me happy?" For the Two of Wands: "How do I share my ideas?" For the Seven of Coins: "What are my priorities?"

The images on the pips contain the appropriate number of birds (e.g., five skylarks on the Five of Wands), the Italian word for the suit (e.g., Bastoni for Wands), and -- in some cases but not all -- the Italian word for the type of bird (e.g., allodole for skylark). I'm not sure why the Italian word for the bird isn't on all of the pips of that suit.

I happened to notice what I think is an error in the book description for the Two of Wands. The suit of Wands is represented by skylarks, yet the book description for the Two of Wands reads: "Think of the kingfishers on this card as alchemists of transformation..."  These things happen, hopefully not too often in one book.

The deck breaks tradition by naming the Court cards Queen, King, God, and Goddess. This could be a problem for those who prefer to interpret Knights and Pages as "young people." Also, the God and Goddess have a mythical bird "totem" (if you will) instead of the bird associated with the other cards in their suit. For example, Wands are skylarks, but the God and Goddess of Wands are pictured with the Gandaberunda, or Berunda, a mythical bird that often appears in Hindu temples.

In the book, each Court card gets two pages of information, including a quotation, keywords, description, upright meaning, and reversed meaning.

S/he Looks Familiar...
If you think you recognize some of the people on the Majors and Court cards, you're probably right.  For example, The Magician (Il Bagatto) looks an awful lot like Johnny Depp. When you check the book, the quotation given with this card is from ... Johnny Depp. That was my first clue. Depp's quotation is quite appropriate for The Magician: "Me, I'm dishonest, and you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. It's the honest ones you have to watch out for..." The bird on this card is the Jay. I love Nozedar's comment: "The mercurial appearance and disappearance of the jay is like an avian exclamation mark; it carries all the elements of surprise and astonishment of the most skilful sleight of hand. Like a magician's trick, there's smoke and mirrors here, and something else besides..."

Other celebrity guests include Elizabeth Taylor (Queen of Cups) and Luciano Pavarotti (The High Priest). The guy on The Emperor (L'Imperatore) card looks familiar to me, but I don't know who he is -- and these people are not identified anywhere in the book. The quotation on The Emperor's page is from the Dalai Lama, and I can tell you for a fact that the man on the card is not His Holiness. I'm pretty sure that the Queen of Coins is Brigitte Bardot, even though the quotation is from Charlotte Bronte.

This incorporation of celebrities seems a bit random. As I mentioned above, they are supposed to be "famous singers" (in keeping with the Italy / Tarot / Opera connection). But I honestly don't think of Liz Taylor or Johnny Depp primarily as singers, do you?

The End
The last few pages of the book explain Divination with The Secret Language of Birds Tarot, Tarot Card Superstitions (such as "You should never buy your own deck," "Tarot cards should be stored in a silk bag," and "Tarot decks should be handled only by their owner"), Spreads (The Celtic Cross, The Wheel, The Flock), and Notes on Reversals.

In her Conclusion, Nozedar advises us to "try watching the real birds. . . Respect them. Understand them. Meditate on them. . . Enjoy your flight."


We're talking about a Schiffer product here, so naturally this set is contained in an attractive, sturdy, laminated gift box with a magnetic closure. As always with Schiffer, we have good quality card stock with a gloss finish.

The cards are larger than typical Tarot cards, measuring about 4 x 5-1/2 inches. That's too large for my hands to poker shuffle, but I prefer to use a push-pull shuffling method anyway, and that works just fine with this deck. The cards have rounded corners.

The backs of the cards are deep indigo with dark blue flecks, reminding me of a night sky with a bit of cloud cover. In the center is a sort of lavender-blue-gray diamond. The card fronts have a gray textured border. (And yes, you border trimmers can easily crop these cards if you like without removing part of an image.)

Card titles are in Italian, in a script font, placed in various places on the cards so that they become part of the illustration/design. There are no numbers on the Trumps, and the Courts are numbered with Roman numerals: XI (Queen), XII (King), XIII (God), and XIV (Goddess). Courts and pips have the suit name in Italian, in the same script font as the titles on the Majors.


Linda Sutton's striking, collage-style illustrations are painted in relentlessly strong, bright, vivid colors. The backgrounds swirl with rich color, texture, and energy. The Majors and Courts are detailed, with an assortment of images and symbols to explore.

In addition to a particular bird being on each card of a particular suit, there is a consistent color scheme. For example, the Coins cards are painted in shades of tan, green, and gold. Swords are blue, gray, and turquoise. Wands are red and orange. Cups are indigo, and incorporate stars and constellations.


I would not recommend this as a Tarot deck for beginners, simply because it departs in several ways from the RWS tradition. If you prefer RWS clones, you might not enjoy this deck. However, if you don't like it as Tarot, you could use it as an oracle deck. The book is thorough and extensive, providing more than enough information on card symbolism and interpretation.

If you are looking for a "bird deck" that features naturalistic images of birds, this isn't the deck for you. The images have a decidedly exotic, "fantastic" quality that goes way beyond what Audubon could have imagined.

As I mentioned above, the book is a definite plus, with its wealth of information, insights, and descriptions.

I do plan to use the deck as a Tarot deck, so we'll see how that goes!


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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In the Stars: New Moon in Pisces

Today we have a New Moon in the first decan of Pisces. In honor of that event, I am doing a reading featured in Anna Cook's most recent Tarot Dynamics Unleashed (TDU) newsletter. I encourage you to hop over and read it, then try this spread for yourself!

Joining me for this reading is Tarot of a Moon Garden (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.).

In the TDU system, the Tarot Card of the Week is the Eight of Cups (linked with the first decan of Pisces). Therefore, for this spread I place that card face up. It represents me and the general mood or tone of the week ahead.

Anna Cook tells us that the Eight is one of three cards (8, 9, and 10) that indicate "an upcoming opportunity, setback or new phase of awareness that will inflate or deflate the Seeker’s sense of future stability, optimism, understanding and sense of achievement. . . . Like the 8th House in Astrology, our 8’s can provide clues concerning the stability of the Seeker’s future with anything or anyone that is important to them, such as health, source of income, or the health and prosperity of those they care for."

The suit of Cups is associated with the element Water, representing emotions, relationships, and the subconscious.

After placing the Eight of Cups upright, I shuffle the cards, pull one, and place it face down across the Eight of Cups. This card signals whether it’s likely to prove a little easier or a bit more challenging for me to deal with people and matters this week.

I pulled The Magician.

In their book Numerology and The Divine Triangle (Schiffer Books), Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker assign the planet Mercury to The Magician card and the planet Mars to the number One (Mars rules Aries, the first sign of the zodiac). The energy of these two planets combined is fiery, creative, intellectual, and focused. The Tarot Dynamics system describes The Magician as a card of Self-Reliance, the ability to handle or confront anything.

So what happens when the energy of The Magician meets the energy of the first decan of Pisces (Eight of Cups)?

From an elemental standpoint, I see a challenge and the potential for instability. Water (Cups) and Fire (Mars) are antagonistic toward each other. Water (Cups) and Air (Mercury) are neutral toward each other. I get the feeling that I could be frustrated if I attempt to demonstrate self-reliance, creativity, and control with my trademark Sagittarian impulsiveness, impatience, and excessiveness. 

The mutable Water sign Pisces is famous for being emotional, impressionable, imaginative, and intuitive. Not only do we have a New Moon in Pisces, but Neptune (modern ruler of Pisces) is conjunct the Moon, creating additional Pisces Power.

In my dealings with people and matters this week, I will probably need to tone it down, mellow it out, and/or go with the flow rather than leading a one-person parade. I need to take care that I don't come across as an overly ambitious control freak who relentlessly pushes her own agenda, disregarding other people's feelings and opinions. I can be sensitive and considerate when I want to.

At the same time, if I can channel  that fabulous Magician energy properly, I may be able to use Water and Fire to create steam, a powerful force.

It also occurs to me that these two cards may represent the opposite of what I just described. In other words, I may be the one whose dreams get quashed by someone wielding his Magician's wand a bit too energetically. If so, the key is probably to relax, listen, and seek whatever benefits and truths I can find in the situation.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Card and Quotes: 6 of Swords

Today's Cards and Quotes features the Six of Swords from the Celestial Tarot by Brian Clark (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.).

"And over the pond are sailing
  Two swans all white as snow;
Sweet voices mysteriously wailing
  Pierce through me as onward they go."

~ Heinrich Heine

Friday, February 17, 2012

Of Owls and Orchids: Exploring the Nature's Wisdom Oracle Deck

In addition to my 75 Tarot decks, I own a great many oracle decks. I love these decks, but don't use them as often as I would like. Every now and then, I am going to share a card from one of these oracle decks here on the blog. I hope people will enjoy seeing cards from various decks and will gain something from the interpretations of the cards!

Exploring the Nature's Wisdom Oracle Deck

For this oracle card exploration I am using my brand new Nature's Wisdom Oracle cards by Mindy Lighthipe (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.).

Each card in this deck depicts either fauna or flora, so I'm going to show you one of each in this post.

OWL (Wisdom)

The owl is a common symbol for wisdom. In the booklet that accompanies this deck, Mindy Lighthipe gives us information about the role of owls in nature and in mythology. About their role in nature we learn that they:
  • are birds of prey, at the top of the food chain
  • belong to the order Strigiformes
  • are predominantly nocturnal
  • can pivot their heads about 270 degrees
  • hunt and eat rodents, insects, frogs, and birds
  • are typically solitary but can live in groups called parliaments

Lighthipe tells us that Athene, the Goddess of Wisdom in Greek mythology, honored the owl by making it her favorite bird. Athene believed that the owl was able to see so well at night because of a magical "inner light."

The owl was not viewed this way in all cultures. My research reveals a long-standing association with death (ancient Egypt, India, Central and North America, China and Japan) and occult powers, particularly prophecy. The Plains Indians in North America also considered the owl to be a guardian of the night or guide to the afterlife. Christianity linked the owl with the devil or witchcraft.

Our special message from the owl (via Nature's Wisdom Oracle):
"Look to the owl to find the truth about what is happening around you. Use keen, silent observation to aid you in your situation."


Facts provided by Lighthipe:
  • Orchidaceae is the largest family of flowering plants
  • Orchids live on every continent except Antarctica
  • Orchids can imitate the appearance of insects with the patterns on their petals
  • The orchid lures a pollinator to the edge of of its pouch and the insect falls in; as the insect makes its exit, it pollinates the plant

In addition to obsession, the orchid is known as a symbol of love, luxury, and beauty. This exotic, evocative flower is highly prized and coveted by collectors.

My research reveals that orchids were used to drive off evil influences (particularly barrenness) during Spring festivals in ancient China. This association with fertility and procreation is further illustrated in the flower's name: the Greek word orkhis means "testicle." The Chinese also believed that cutting an orchid would result in the death of a child.

Our special message from the orchid (via Nature's Wisdom Oracle):
"The orchid represents a possible obsession. Look at your present circumstance and decide whether you have become infatuated with something. It could get out of control."

I'm looking forward to working more with this deck!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

REVIEW: Tarot Leaves


Tarot Leaves
78 Tarot Cards; Interpretation Booklet
ISBN: 978-0-7643-3903-5


"Explore the Tarot through the beauty of nature as seen in images drawn within the silhouettes of the Maple, Apple, Oak, and Birch leaves. Utilizing color to convey the meanings on 78 artistic Tarot cards, each card is represented by a leaf in which innovative images and symbols are hidden. Colorful and intricate, the leaf image overlaps the imagery message and vice versa. The magician phrase, 'Now you see it; now you don’t,' surely applies as, with each reading, some images are noticed and seem to “pop” from the leaf, while other symbols are overlooked to be seen at another time. Enjoy the simple beauty of nature as you explore the roots of Tarot."


Beth Seilonen grew up in rural Maine, where she often wandered through the woods communing with pine, cedar, birch, maple, oak, and evergreen. She is the creator of approximately 60 decks featuring a variety of styles and concepts. You can learn more about her by visiting her website and blog.

The Tarot Leaves cards follow the traditional Tarot format, with 22 Majors and the Minors divided into four suits: Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. Seilonen associates Cups with the spiritual realm, Pentacles with abundance, Wands with thoughts, and Swords with actions.

The foundation for all of the Swords cards is an oak leaf; for the Cups, a maple leaf; for the Pentacles, an apple leaf; and for the Wands, a birch leaf.


The packaging for this deck is superb in terms of quality, durability, and attractiveness. Made of heavy laminated cardboard, the magnetic lift top box provides a secure, lovely home for the cards and 96-page Little White Book (LWB). Small ribbons on either side of the box keep the top from over-extending when you open it.

The LWB is nicer than most -- soft bound, with a laminated color cardboard cover. Following an Introduction we have a page for each card, including a small black-and-white rendition of the card with its title and divinatory meanings. Reverse meanings are printed on a dark gray bar at the bottom of each card's page. Personally, I find the black on dark gray print very difficult to read. If the book is ever redone, I recommend using reversing out the type for the reversed meanings. (Interestingly, the word "Reverse" is in white in each case, and easily readable.) At the end of the book we are given a three-card spread and a seven-card spread, along with a Conclusion and About the Author page.

Printed on sturdy, glossy stock, the cards measure approximately 2 3/4” by 4 1/2”. They are easy to handle and shuffle. Card faces have a white border with images set against a light gray background. Card titles are printed at the bottom of the cards in white outlined in gray, in a script-style font. Trumps are not numbered. The reversible card backs feature a blue-gray border and a collage of leaves in all colors set against a black background.

If you are one who likes to trim the borders off your cards, you'll be able to at least reduce the width of these borders. Removing them entirely would cut off the titles "at the knees."


Each card face features a large leaf. Each leaf contains an illustration representing the card's meaning. I like the way we seem to be getting a glimpse into the "inner life" of the leaves, stories they want to share, impressions they have received from the world around them. The overlapping images invite us to stay awhile within their world.

Mostly pastel shades of rose, mint, violet, umber, azure, melon, and gold create a contemplative mood, perfect for conveying the spiritual aspects of the places Seilonen remembers from her days in Maine. I say "mostly pastel" because the colors are deep and vivid on some of the cards (for example, Judgment, Lovers, Wheel of Fortune, Ten of Cups). The colors and style of the art set a gentle, reflective tone, encouraging us to explore the depths of the images.

Details include traditional Tarot symbolism. For example, we see the sigil for the planet Venus behind the down-to-earth Empress. The Emperor's distinguished profile is set against a backdrop containing the symbol for Mars and a ram, for the sign Aries. The face of a lovely lavender lion dominates Strength. There does not appear to be any particular color scheme related to the elements or suits.

I like the way Seilonen conveys the feeling of "something being broken" in Devil and Tower by segmenting the pieces of the leaf on each of those cards. On Devil, a pentagram cuts through the leaf, severing its pieces from each other. The leaf on Tower seems to be exploding from within, sending fragments of the leaf in all directions.


A strong working knowledge of the Tarot is the best preparation for reading with this deck, although it will speak to readers at all levels. When not used as a reading deck, Tarot Leaves is a perfect deck for meditation and contemplation.

As mentioned above, the packaging is exceptionally attractive and sturdy. No need to buy a special bag or box to keep this deck in prime condition.

I think this will be a great deck to use in conjunction with other similarly themed decks, such as Mickie Mueller's Voice of the Trees (Llewellyn Worldwide) and The Green Man Tree Oracle by John Matthews and Will Worthington (Barnes & Noble Books).

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.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cards and Quotes: 2 of Cups

Today's Cards and Quotes features the TWO OF HEARTS (Cups) from The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber (St. Martin's Press).

“Here is the deepest secret nobody knows.
Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
Which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide.
And this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.
I carry your heart.
I carry it in my heart.”

~ E.E. Cummings

Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Interview with Mickie Mueller

I first *met* Mickie Mueller about a year ago through Etsy and Facebook. Mickie is a fantasy artist, illustrator, writer, and lecturer whose art can be seen in divination decks (Voice of the Trees, The Well Worn Path, The Hidden Path); in various new age and occult publications such as Llewellyn's Magical Almanac, Witchcraft & Wicca Magazine, The Witches' Voice, and Magickal Light Magazine. In her Etsy store, Mickie offers handmade gifts and jewelry in addition to limited edition and open edition prints. She even has a special Voice of the Trees shop, where you can purchase Voice of the Trees mugs, jewelry, bags, and more.

You can learn a lot more about Mickie on her web site at  http://www.mickiemuellerart.com/ . The site even includes a fascinating series of pictures showing how Mickie creates her gorgeous works of art: http://www.mickiemuellerart.com/Art-Step-By-Step.html.

Welcome to Tarot Notes, Mickie!

Tarot Notes (TN): You grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with prominent artists as parents. How did your surroundings and family life influence you?

Mickie Mueller (MM): Albuquerque is such an inspiring place to live, they call it “The Land of Enchantment!”  My parents knew all the big artists in town, and those artists all treated me like just another person, not how many adults treat kids talking down to them, artists are very open minded folks.  So lots of these people loved to show me techniques or chat about inspiration, and I grew up going to gallery shows and even sat in on some of the watercolor classes my dad taught.  There was always something creative going on in my life when I was a kid.  Every kid in town went to the State Fair, but my parents usually had a booth selling my dad’s paintings or my mom’s puppets or other crafts. Creativity and thinking outside the box was always encouraged.

a sconce I recently purchased from Mickie
TN:  When did you first become interested in the fairies, nature spirits, and goddesses living in the trees and forests? Have you had any experiences with those folk that you would like to share?

MM: When I was a kid, I used to think that the textured window in our bathroom was a magical portal to a castle on a hill.  Looking back, it was probably the neighbor’s house through the tree tops, but I believed.  My sister Robin, and my childhood friend Lisa and I all believed in magic, we just knew it was real, and I guess I never lost that.  I used to drive my teachers nuts daydreaming out the window! 

Being from the Southwest, I was always fascinated by the Native American concept that everything has a spirit or life force, then when I discovered my Celtic roots later on in life I found those same concepts in their spirituality and never turned back.  I remember believing in spirits of nature/fairies, and feeling their presence in the mountains near my home in Albuquerque and in the gardens my mom tended.  The house I lived in later in life here in Missouri had lots of fairy activity.  There was an old community well on the property near a circle of trees.  I remember one evening in particular in that house while my husband Dan and I were drifting off the sleep, we actually heard tiny bells making their way across our bedroom floor, and our cat didn’t wear bells. 

TN: You and your husband, Dan, ran a new age/metaphysical shop for a time. What did you like most and least about that?

MM: We ran that shop for a couple of years, it’s an experience we’ll never forget.  Dan and I both agree, the best thing about running a shop like that is all the people we got to meet and help along the way, people tell you their personal stories and ask for advice.  It’s very fulfilling to get to contribute in some small way to a person’s spiritual journey.  The vibe in the shop was great, it was a very uplifting place to be.  The hardest part about it was the long hours and dedication, you really don’t get a day off, even when the shop is closed your whole life revolves around the shop.  We’re doing that now also but in a much different way.   We run our online stores and I’m working full time as an artist and writer, but doing it from home.  It’s a lot of work, and also positively magical!

TN: I love that you add magical herbs to your paint. Can you tell us a little more about that?

MM: I came up with the concept long ago that I wanted to add magic to my art so that each piece is more that what you just see, but also what you feel.  When you work with watercolor paints, you use water mixed in with the paint so I decided that instead of just water, it could be an herbal infusion of herbs that would lend the right vibrations to the art that I was looking for.  If I’m working on a specific fairy or Goddess, etc. I ask myself what herbs are associated with this entity or concept and that’s what I use.  When I created Voice of the Trees, each piece had a bit of that tree infused into the watercolor.  I gather up my magical materials into a teaball, pour in piping hot water and let it steep.  Once it cools, I strain it though a coffee filter and that’s my watercolor water.  I use it to mix with the paint and create magic on my illustration board.  Sometimes I think this process wakes up my muse, gets me going and opens the flow of creative energy between subject and artist in a way that is very magical.  I do all of this with the specific intention that the vibrations created in the piece of art will carry over into all of the prints, cards, or anything made with that art.  Whether you have a print, coffee mug, or deck, the magic that created the art is accessible to you the same as it would be in the original. 

TN: You wrote a wonderful companion book for Voice of the Trees. What other writing projects have you been working on?

MM: I’ve been writing for the Llewellyn periodicals every year since 2006, mostly for the Magical Almanac and Spell-A-Day Almanac. I also get to illustrate for the Magical Almanac, so it’s really great to be able to contribute to those great publications every year.  I’m also writing materials for the class I’m offering at Pathways in St. Louis on the Celtic Tree Calendar and for those who can’t make it to St. Louis every month; I’m offering the class in an online version at my Voice of the Trees website.  It’s a really cool class, we do a different Celtic tree every month and I include lots of material, full color pages, printable candle labels and extras, spells and rituals for working with the Celtic trees.  Because this is a cyclical calendar that turns along with the Wheel of the Year, there is no beginning and no end to the class. I've broken this class down so that no matter what month you begin with, you will build tree wisdom and magical tree techniques while you cycle through the Celtic Tree Months.  The years worth of lessons will include over 200 pages of tree wisdom, and over 60 spells and rituals, it makes a really nice book when you’re all done. 

TN: I understand that you and Dan have adopted a grove of trees in the Caledonian Forest in Scotland. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

While doing research for Voice of the Trees I discovered Trees for Life in the U.K. They have lots of great information about the Celtic Trees, and one of the reasons for that is that they’re actually planting and growing them. There are areas all over the world where forests are in trouble, the Caledonian Forest in Scotland is one of them. Trees for Life is an organization working to replant and renew these areas by planting groves.  They allow people to adopt their own grove there to celebrate a birth, a wedding or in remembrance of a loved one, this helps fund the good work they’re doing over there.  Realizing that it takes trees to create a deck and book, it occurred to us that it would be a great idea to offset our footprint on the earth from the creation of this deck by planting a grove dedicated to Voice of the Trees, and replant trees in the areas where some of this great tree lore was born.  We decided to open it up so that anyone who feels moved to can be a part of this very special and magical grove by donating a tree, and forever be a part of the magic there in the Scottish Highlands.  You can find the link on the Voice of the Trees website.

TN: What's next for Mickie Mueller?

MM: What isn’t next?!  Haha! Creating art and writing full time is keeping me very busy.  Sometimes I have more ideas than I have hours in the day; I have to schedule my time to stay on task.  My next big project is very exciting, I’m working on artwork for a new deck, a tarot deck this time called Mystical Cats Tarot with fellow cat lover and traveler to the magical place where cats go, Lunaea Weatherstone who is doing the concept and book for this one.   We haven’t shown any of the art yet, as this project is in its early stages, but I can’t wait until we begin to show some of the pieces publically.  I’m very excited about this project, it will be like no other cat deck you have seen, slated for release by Llewellyn in 2014.  I also have a couple of book ideas brewing so we’ll see what comes of that.

TN: Anything else you would like to share with us? Words of advice? Words of caution? A favorite recipe?

MM: It’s so much easier in life to do what you’re supposed to according to society.  Sometimes other people might not like it if you don’t do things the way they want you to, they might try to impose their ideas of what your life should be upon you, herd you into their way of thinking and living, sometimes it’s the people you least expect. It’s so much easier not to rock the boat.  But sometimes the easy path is not the right path, sometimes you have to dream and dream big.  The big truth I’ve found is that what you focus on in life is what you get.  Never ever give up!  If you spend all your time thinking about how unhappy you are with your current situation, you just get more of the same.  Focus on what you want your life to be, and that’s where life will steer you.   The most powerful magic in the world comes from right inside you!  Be true to yourself no matter what and you can make your dreams come true.

To read my review of Voice of the Trees, click HERE.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Take a Number: Five!

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!

My key words for the number Five: struggle, instability, flexibility, opportunity for change

Tarot Cards: The Hierophant, Fives of all suits


Writing about the occult meaning of numbers, Paul Foster Case gives the following keywords for Five: "mediation... adaptation, means, agency, activity, process, and the like." Case also writes, "5, then, is the number of versatility, because it shows the changing aspects of the One Law. . ." (The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Macoy Publishing Company)

In his book Numerology: Key to the Tarot (Whitford Press), Sandor Konraad writes that Five is "the number of the senses and thus the number of humanity. . . It is the number of the adventurer, the explorer, the merry rover. On the negative side, 5s can be restless and leave behind them a pile of unfinished projects and broken love affairs in their endless quest for fresh adventures." I think the idea of five as the number of the senses sometimes gets lost in our attempts to interpret the number five. I'm going to try to keep it in mind.

Quoting from Numerology and The Divine Triangle by Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker (Whitford Press): "Five is freedom, change and adventure. Curiosity and constant activity produce a resourceful, adaptable and versatile entity always read to take a chance." Key words for Five: "versatility, resourcefulness, adaptability, change, activity, travel, adventure, promotion, speculation."

Gary Meister, CTM offers the key words "Changes, Sometimes Crises" for the number Five. He writes: "In every life, indeed in the life of every creation of any kind, change is inevitable.  Five is the number of change.  The Universe changes as a matter of course and keeps itself balanced through it all."

The web site Numberquest.com provides a much longer string of key words for the number Five: "Adventure, change, freedom, exploration, variety, sensuality, unattached, curious, experienced, periodicity, knowledge seeker, knowledge teacher, traveler, imagination, child-like, playful."

In Anna Burroughs Cook's Tarot Dynamics system (based in large part on Javane and Bunker): "Subject Card Five denotes conflict."


Konraad writes, "The Hierophant is concerned with spiritual matters, and because 5 is a number of change, there will often be spiritual change. And while there may be changes also in the material realm, it is the inner changes that will be most important."

Concerning The Hierophant (Card 5), Cook writes: "Card five means conflict between what you feel, what you know and what you want." To this I can only say, Wow. That is the perfect description for this card, based on my personal experience anyway!

According to Javane and Bunker: "The Hierophant represents our inner teacher, our inner hearing, our intuition."

In astrology, the Fifth House is known as the House of Creativity, Procreation, Recreation, and Pleasure. It is ruled by the zodiac sign Leo, known as a creative, exuberant, egocentric sign.

Most of the above seems consistent and makes sense to me, although some of the references are clear to me than others. Five is at the center of the range from 1 to 10, which suggests a pivot point or "halfway" point that offers opportunity for change or adjustment.

Personally, I don't view The Hierophant as a "flexible" character. I see him as a representative of belief systems, conformity, societal "norms," and tradition. The way you're *supposed* to do things. All of that *feels* inflexible to me and, of course, it can be. However, it doesn't have to be. The Hierophant has been described as a vehicle for religious knowledge. What do vehicles do? They move. They transport. They take us from one place to another, and not always on the same road. It depends on who's driving.

I hope you enjoy these quotations I found that include the number Five:
Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.
~ Terry Pratchett

The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.
~ E. M. Forster

Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between victory and defeat. ~ Horatio Nelson

God made man merely to hear some praise of what he'd done on those Five Days. ~ Christopher Morley

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In the Stars

On February 8, transiting Mercury in Aquarius will form a trine with my natal Neptune in Libra.

Quick Astrology Primer/Refresher
  • Mercury is the planet of the mind, communication, and short trips
  • Neptune is the planet of dreams, imagination, illusions, and spiritual urges
  • The trine aspect occurs when two planets or luminaries are at a 120 degree angle to each other. This is considered to be a highly favorable aspect.
I'm going to expand In the Stars to include a bit more of a Tarot presence by showing the cards associated with Mercury and Neptune. It's important to remember that there is no "universal" system for this. Many readers use the associations developed by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD), but that is by no means the only system in use. At the moment, I enjoy comparing the OGD attributions with those presented by David Thornton.

Mercury: Both the OGD and Thornton associate Mercury with The Magician.
Neptune: Neptune is not in the OGD system presented in Book T because it had not yet been discovered when that system was first developed. These days, many systems associate Neptune with The Hanged Man (associated with the element Water in Book T). Thornton links Neptune to The Moon card. (Side Note: Neptune rules the sign Pisces, which Book T associates with The Moon card.)

I actually like all of these associations in this situation, so I'm going to pull The Magician to represent Mercury and both The Moon and The Hanged Man to represent Neptune. The traditional Rider-Waite-Smith cards represent the Mercury and Neptune trine.

The triangle in the middle is the symbol for the astrological trine. So in this scenario we have The Magician making nice with The Moon and The Hanged Man. Hugs and kisses all around. The noticeable effects of this trine may begin on February 7 and linger through February 9.

Since the trine is such a beneficial aspect, I am asking the cards:
How can I make the most of this harmonious transit?

I am using two decks for this reading because I don't want to keep those three Major Arcana cards out of the reading, yet I want them in front of me as I shuffle and pull my answer from the deck.

The Universal Waite is going to tell me how I can make the most of this harmonious aspect. Drum roll please... and we have...


This is rich! I love it! In the OGD system, Temperance is associated with Sagittarius, my Sun sign. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, the Greater Benefic. Who better to advise me on how to make the most of a trine?

My keywords for Temperance are moderation, balance, and blending of energies.

During this transit, I can capitalize on a harmonious mixture of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy -- a balance between intellect and intuition. This would be a great time to write (Mercury) something based on a dream (Neptune) or put wild imaginings (Neptune) into words (Mercury).

Under this transit, my logical side is less likely to find fault with my imaginative, other-wordly side (and vice versa). Instead, these two powerful components of my Self will find common ground and actually appreciate what the other brings to the mix.  Here there is compromise and an opportunity to benefit from a powerful "whole" made up of parts that often clash or compete.

The Magician hands the Temperance angel the chalice from his table. Temperance fills another chalice with water from the Moon-lit lake. The angel blends the contents of these two chalices skillfully as The Hanged Man looks on in approval. This makes his sacrifice worthwhile.

For additional Astrology/Tarot insights, skibble on over to the Tarot Dynamics web site and read the premier edition of Anna Cook's newsletter!

My guests today on In the Stars:
  • The Rider Tarot Deck (conceived by Arthur Edward Waite; published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)
  • The Universal Waite Tarot Deck (drawings by Pamela Colman Smith, coloring by Mary Hanson-Roberts, conceived by Stuart R. Kaplan; published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Card and Quotes: The Tower

Today's Cards and Quotes features THE TOWER from the Fenestra Tarot by Chatriya (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

"It's exhilarating to be alive in a time of
awakening consciousness; it can also be
confusing, disorienting, and painful."
~ Adrienne Rich, Poet  and Feminist
(born May 16, 1929)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

REVIEW: Tarot Spreads & Layouts


Tarot Spreads & Layouts:
A User's Manual for Beginning and Intermediate Readers

by Jeanne Fiorini
Schiffer Books
ISBN: 978-0-7643-3629-4


"Easy-to-read, this manual provides methods to gathering useful information from your Tarot cards. Basic card meanings and principles of the Tarot are given and are followed by effective ways to use the cards. Gain reading tips and practical advice for beginning and intermediate-level practitioners. Learn suggested techniques for designing and expanding your queries. Create queries about relationships, money and work issues, health concerns, decision-making, and matters of choice—the big questions of life as well as the mundane. Readers are encouraged to blend intention, intuition, and a sense of adventure with visual images and card meanings to gain maximum benefit from this ancient system of wisdom. Take out your cards and be prepared to ask the right question and get the right answer!"


This slim, well-made paperback book measures 6 x 9 inches. It has a rather unexciting glossy gray cover depicting card layouts in red, green, blue, and purple. Included in the 126 pages are:
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Section I: The Ground Rules
  • Section II: Simple and Effective Spreads and Layouts
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix

The font used for the text is easy to read, and pages are broken up by text boxes, subheadings, lists, and an effective, generous use of white space. Simple black-and-white diagrams of card layouts are included in Section II. Divider pages feature black-and-white illustrations of Tarot cards.


I have been enjoying Jeanne Fiorini's articles/columns in the American Tarot Publication Tarot Reflections for a long time. I loved her recent "Reading for Readers in 2012" (in the January issue), in which she explored what we must bring to our clients (from our perspective as readers), what our clients need most from us, and a key thought for readers to keep in the forefront during 2012.

Naturally, I was predisposed to like Jeanne's book Tarot Spreads & Layouts: A User's Manual for Beginning and Intermediate Readers. And guess what? I do like it. Very much! Let me tell you why.

I'll start with the layout and organization. From its detailed Table of Contents to its handy, dandy Quick & Easy Tarot Card Reference Guide and List of Resources, this book is a pleasure to read and study. Text is broken up by boxes and subheads, and there is plenty of white space around and within the various segments. After reading it once all the way through, you can actually go back and review the material by reading only the text boxes labeled "Important" that are sprinkled throughout the book.

Subtitles are engaging and inviting. For example, under The Art of the Question, we have:
  • Importance of Intention
  • Beliefs Inform the Question
  • What Are You Looking For?
  • Don't Save it For a Rainy Day
  • Size Doesn't Matter
  • No-No's
  • Who is Right and What is True
  • What if Nobody Answers When You Knock on the Door?

Jeanne Fiorini's views on many Tarot issues happen to be the same as mine, which of course makes the book even more appealing to me. For example, she writes that spreads with a huge number of cards "aren't always the best choice. . . because they provide much more input than is required." She goes on to say that "all those images and all those card meanings and all that information can be overwhelming, and in truth, are unnecessary." (Yes, I realize that many Tarot readers disagree!)

I love the way Fiorini stresses the importance of "formulating a clear and concise question." She does not advocate pulling cards randomly from the pack in moments of uncertainty. (Again, I do realize that quite a few Tarot readers swear by that method.) Before beginning the reading, Fiorini recommends that we "think very carefully about what we really need to know, what is possible to know, and what we'd like the cards to address."

We are advised to keep in mind that interpretations of the cards depend to a large degree upon the reader's (or client's) ingrained perceptions, beliefs, and world views.

One of my favorite comments from the book is the part where Fiorini describes "No-No" number two: the use of the words "should" and "will" within the query itself. As she points out, these types of questions "imply that there is a correct answer written somewhere and that you'd darned well better discover it before you make a grave mistake."

Fiorini also covers the use of a significator in readings, reversals, and the absence of an element in a reading.

I also like that Fiorini recommends a balance between knowledge and intuition when reading the cards. One of the "Important" text boxes reads: "In any and all layouts illustrated herein, remember to ask yourself: Does intuition provide any insight beyond the meanings of the images and the surface definition of the cards?"

In Section II, we are given a variety of layouts using from 1 to 5 cards. For each of these, Fiorini provides suggested lines of questioning and Guidelines for Expansion of the Layout.

What I really appreciate is the way the author gives us questions to ask as we study the cards that were drawn, in order to help discern the message. For example, with the Mind/Body/Spirit Spread (a 3-card layout), we are encouraged to consider the following thoughts as we view the cards that were drawn:
  • Where, if at all, do cards of strength and power appear?
  • Where, if at all, do cards of frailty, caution, or fear appears?
  • Is one of the aspects more intact than the others?
  • Is one aspect noticeably weaker than the others?
  • Is any one aspect calling out for attention?
  • Do you see a harmony -- or a schism -- among the aspects?
  • Is there a common theme among the three cards shown?
  • Are differing needs expressed by different aspects?
  • What might it imply that certain elements appear as indicators of certain aspects?
  • Do reversed cards appear? If so, what does the reversed position depict or imply?
  • Where, if at all, do Major Arcana cards appear, and what do they indicate to you?

In the book's Conclusion, we have a Reader's Check List that provides "the essential keys for getting the most from any Tarot layout." The Quick & Easy Tarot Card Reference Guide provides succinct, basic meanings for the cards. For example, The Hanged Man is "The need for patience; suspension of willpower; standing on the sidelines while matters unfold; unwillingness to accept responsibility" and the Six of Wands reads, "Success; reward for one's efforts; support of community; pride in one's accomplishments."

The insightful information, clear and engaging writing style, and logical organization of Tarot Spreads & Layouts combine to create a valuable reference book that I know I will consult regularly from this point forward.


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.