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Friday, March 30, 2012

Journey through My Decks: Five 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 FIVE OF SWORDS from Tarot of the Masters by James Ricklef.

Tarot of the Masters by James Ricklef

James Ricklef writes: "The suit of Swords is customarily associated with elemental Air, which traditionally relates its cards to qualities such as mental activity, logic and reason, and all forms of communication. This suit is also associated with conflict, strife, and stress."

The border on all of the Swords cards in this deck is yellow, the color associated with the mind and intellect.

The Five of Swords in this deck is based on the right panel of the St. John the Baptist Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden.  Not being familiar with this piece of art, I initially thought that Ricklef made the executioner's stockings red and yellow in keeping with a system of symbolism in Tarot. However, the stockings are red and yellow in the original art. Interesting!

Red is commonly seen as a color of passion, will power, courage, strength, and aggression. Yellow typically represents enthusiasm, joy, intellect (intelligence), and communication.* I can see a place for both of these colors in the Five of Swords (as well as the original painting).

Ricklef writes: "One of the things I liked about this painting was the bright, almost cheerful ambiance of the setting that surrounds this ghastly deed. This jarring juxtaposition emphasizes how reprehensible this action (the beheading of John the Baptist) is."

5 of Swords, Rider-Waite-Smith
In RWS-style versions of the Five of Swords, the victor often has a pleased, self-satisfied expression on his face (Waite calls it "disdainful"). It seems to be a very bright day for him, as he observes the dejected demeanor of his opponents.

Back to the Tarot of the Masters card: Ricklef points out that Salome (the woman in black) and the executioner look back over their shoulders, facing away from each other, rather than looking at the evidence of their crime. Is this out of a sense of guilt and remorse? Or are they simply worried that someone might see them and punish them for what they have done?

Divinatory Meanings included by Ricklef: "a ruthless attempt to be right or victorious, regardless of the effects on other people, revenge (versus justice), a costly victory, devious plots, bad sportsmanship, bullying, kicking a man when he is down, and 'winning the battle but losing the war.' . . . insensitivity, dishonor, and gloating."

In a group situation, the Five of Swords may be advising us to choose our battles wisely. In relationships, it can ask the question: "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" (Ricklef)

* My color associations are based on several sources and personal study over a period of time.

About the deck: James Ricklef writes that the cards in this deck "were inspired by classic paintings by old masters, such as Rembrandt, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bouguereau, Rubens, and Hieronymus Bosch." To create the deck, Ricklef perused hundreds of paintings and statues, seeking those that could relate to the 78 cards of the Tarot.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Queen Zest

Today I am sharing a card that a dear friend pulled for me to help me deal with something I have to do today (and with possible related developments to follow).

Queen Zest from the Joie de Vivre Tarot is a joy to behold in my situation. First of all, the Queen of Wands is one of my significator cards (based on my Sun sign being a Fire sign). Paulina Cassidy provides the following keywords: nurture, motivation, inspiration, balance, happiness. I can certainly benefit from all of those.

This Queen encourages me to believe in myself and to face my challenge with confidence and a thoughtful focus on details. Good suggestions.

I may also need to guard against being short-tempered, manipulative, or ego-centric. Yes, I can see that too.

All in all, I am fortunate to have Queen Zest at my side today.

Joie de Vivre Tarot
by Paulina Cassidy
Published by U.S. Games Systems

Monday, March 26, 2012

REVIEW: Who Are You in the Tarot?



Who Are You in the Tarot?
by Mary K. Greer
7 x 9, 288 pages
Weiser Books / 2011
ISBN: 978-1-57863-493-4


"The tarot cards associated with your birth date and name form a pattern of personal destiny. They describe the theme of your life—the challenges and the gifts. In Who Are You in the Tarot?, popular tarot practitioner and astrologer Mary Greer connects astrology and numerology to the tarot to create an in-depth personality profile that anyone can use for self realization and personal harmony. Greer takes the reader on a very personal exploration of how the tarot can be used as a tool for learning more about themselves and others."


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.

Who Are You in the Tarot? measures 7 inches by 9 inches. It is a paperback, with sturdy, glossy stock for the cover. Type is a nice size for reading and the pages are layed out attractively, with black-and-white illustrations, subheads, and white space breaking up the type. Paper is a good weight, not flimsy or thin. Blank charts are provided throughout the book so that you can write in your personal information (such as month, day, and year of birth), add the relevant digits, and arrive at a total. The book is illustrated with the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.

Contents include an Introduction and chapters titled:
1) Constellations, Principles, Archetypes, and Beliefs
2) Techniques for Working with Your Personal Cards
3) Your Birth Cards
4) The Tarot Constellations
5-13) Individual Constellations of cards/numbers
14) Your Year Cards
15) Interpreting Your Year Cards
16) Soul Groups and Relationship Dynamics
17) Your Name Cards
18) The People or Court Cards
Appendix A: The 8-11 Controversy
Appendix B: The Qabalah of the Nine Chambers
Appendix C: Summary of Card Names
Selected Bibliography

In the Introduction, Greer writes that the book "teaches two major concepts. One focuses on your nature, and the other on the nature of tarot." She goes on to discuss The Original Edition of the book (called Tarot Constellations), Tarot and Your Destiny, The 8-11 Controversy and Astrological Correspondences, How to Use This Book, and Researching Your Lifetime Card.

The charts contained in this book make handy references, especially the chart showing Alpha-Astro-Numeric Correspondences for the Major Arcana cards. Greer's writing style flows beautifully, and her writing is clear and concise. 



I appreciate Greer's explanation (in both the Introduction and Appendix A) of the "8-11 controversy." By this, of course, she means the dilemma tarotists face concerning the Strength and Justice cards. In continental European Decks dating from the 17th century (e.g., the Marseilles-style), Justice is usually Trump 8 and Strength is Trump 11. In 1910 occult scholar Arthur Edward Waite designated Strength as Trump 8 and Justice as Trump 11 in his well-known Waite-Smith deck.  Greer's position is that both systems are valid. Who Are You in the Tarot uses Strength-8 and Justice-11.

The astrological associations used in this book are based on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (as in decks influenced by Crowley/Harris, Waite/Smith, and Paul Foster Case.)


When I first heard the term "Tarot Constellations," I thought it must be a system for associating constellations in the sky with Tarot cards. Instead, as Greer explains it, a constellation can be any grouping of objects, properties, or individuals. Greer's Tarot Constellations are made up of cards that resonate to the same theme, with each card giving a different perspective on that theme. Greer gives credit to Angeles Arrien for this concept. Each of us has a relevant Tarot constellation determined by our birth date.

Using this book, I made the following calculations based on my date of birth:

Month (December, the 12th month of the year) = 12
Day = ....................................................................19
Year = ...............................................................1950

Adding these numbers, I arrived at 1981, which reduces to 1+9+8+1 or 19. Therefore, my Personality Card is The Sun. That makes me one of the lucky ones who has three (instead of two) cards: 19, 10 (1+9), and 1 (1+0). In Greer's system, this makes The Sun my Personality Card, The Magician my Soul Card, and The Wheel of Fortune my Teacher Card.

Again based on Greer's system, I find myself belonging to The Constellation of the Magician. In addition to The Sun, The Magician, and The Wheel of Fortune, I can count all Aces and Tens among my relevant cards. Greer writes: "Your association with one of the constellations based on your birth date described you in terms of the cultural beliefs of solar cycles. The characteristics described are general tendencies."

Chapter 5 gives us a detailed description and interpretation of The Constellation of the Magician. Chapter 6 does this for The Constellation of the High Priestess, Chapter 7 for The Constellation of the Empress, Chapter 8 for The Constellation of the Emperor, Chapter 9 for The Constellation of the Hierophant, Chapter 10 for The Constellation of the Lovers, Chapter 11 for The Constellation of the Chariot, Chapter 12 for The Constellation of Strength, and Chapter 13 for The Constellation of the Hermit.


Our Year Card, as you might imagine, is based on our Month and Day of Birth, combined with the Current Year. For 2012, my Year Card is 9 - The Hermit. For the purposes of this system, the Year Card Cycle runs January to January in terms of events happening to us. The Birthday-to-Birthday Cycle refers to inner response and integration of the lessons of the year. Greer provides detailed a description and discussion of each Major Arcana card as a Year Card.


The Name Card system is given an equally thorough and clearly stated presentation by Greer. Naturally, Name Cards are determined by our birth name. Each letter has a card assigned to it. Greer offers two major methods for determining numerical equivalents for the letters of one's name. She has chosen the number of the 22 Major Arcana as the numeric base for use in her book.

The numeric value of the vowels in my birth name is 83. The numeric value of the consonants in my birth name is 151. The sum of these two numbers is 234. Using this method, I discovered that My Desires and Inner Motivation Card is The High Priestess; my Outer Persona Card is The Chariot; and my Destiny Card is The Hermit.

Because each letter has a corresponding card, you can lay out your name in cards.
Moving beyond vowels and consonants, Greer introduces Musical Correspondences for the cards, as developed by Paul Foster Case. Using this system (or one you create yourself), you can "play your name" on a musical instrument. 

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can compute a set of 11 different Name Cards, including First Name Card, Middle Name Card, Last Name Card, Rhythm Card, Melody Card, and Life Potential Card.


Greer opens up the Court to include more than just the King, Queen, Knight and Page of traditional decks, acknowledging that many decks have other names and roles for the "people" of the Tarot. After covering the traditional associations, she explains how these cards can represent  stages in our psychological development and in the development of our skills, as well as personality types.

Greer even addresses the differences between Crowley's Knight and Waite's Knight, and Crowley's Princess and Waite's Page.

I like her idea of using a People Card to tell me what qualities I am learning from a particular person at this time, with another People Card telling me what that person is learning from me.


If you enjoy the idea of numerology, you will enjoy doing mathematical calculations to determine the various cards that apply specifically to you, whether based on your birth date or name. Greer's discussion of the Tarot Constellations is fascinating. If you like to combine astrology, numerology, and Tarot, you'll love this book.

If you are a Tarot beginner, this book might overwhelm you. I think you'll enjoy it much more if you have a foundation in Tarot that allows you to understand references to the 8-11 controversy (for example). I feel that it would be helpful to have a basic understanding of The Hierophant (for example) before trying to interpret what it means to have that card as your Personality Card or Destiny Card.

The "workbook" aspects of this book are a real boon, allowing you to compute and analyze your personal data on the spot, right in the midst of all the glorious information and inspiration this book provides.

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, March 25, 2012

Cards and Quotes: Lady of the New Buds

Today's Cards and Quotes features the Lady of the New Buds from Oracle of the Dragonfae by Lucy Cavendish (Blue Angel Gallery).

Oracle of the Dragonfae

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, "The Sensitive Plant"

Azalea Bush in My Front Yard


Friday, March 23, 2012


Back in June I introduced a 3-card spread called Five-Ten-Fifteen. This seems like a good time to give myself an update on what area(s) of life need my attention most right now.

For this spread, shuffle the deck of your choice using whatever method suits you. Then, count down to the 5th card in the stack and turn it over. Count down to the 10th card after that and turn it over. Count down to the 15th card after that and turn it over. Is there a significance to five-ten-fifteen? I don't know. It just sounded good to me!

These three cards go into the following positions:


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

The Faery Wicca Tarot volunteered for this reading. While shuffling the cards, I meditated on the question: What area(s) of life need my attention most right now? Here are the cards that came forward:

Faery Wicca Tarot

(1) Urgent. Deal with this right now.
Representing opposition from hostile forces difficult to identify, this card typically serves as a warning to watch my back. Deceit and betrayal of trust are highly likely. This makes me a bit nervous, of course. I find myself thinking of an unpleasant online encounter I recently had with a stranger. I dealt with it by ending the conversation and removing myself from the group in which it took place. Was that enough? What else could/should I do?

(2) Important but not urgent. Can be set aside for now, but don't forget.
TWO OF TINE (Fire), reversed

Kisma K. Stepanich tells us that in this deck, reversals can serve various purposes, including:
  • Providing insight into the energy state of the querent
  • Signifying the possibility of an event
  • Indicating where an energy blockage is occurring
  • Acting as a warning or challenge about to present itself

The number Two naturally makes me think of polarization or duality, the need to balance conflicting energies, making partners out of antagonists. Fire is a powerful force. It must be tempered and controlled to avoid or limit destruction. Given the nature of the Seven of Aer in position 1, I suspect that this card is also a warning about a conflict or challenge -- one that has yet to be presented. Again I am perhaps being encouraged to watch my back. I also wonder if this refers to an important internal conflict that I need to resolve, if not immediately then at some point down the road.

(3) Not important. Not urgent. Let it go. Forget it.
RIDIRE OF TINE (Knight of Fire)

In this deck, all Knights are associated with the element Air. So we have Air and Fire in position 3 -- Air put into action. The Ridire of Tine often represents someone who acts without thinking things through, someone who is mischievous or cannot "sit still." Look at Cu Chulainn on this card. He has the heads of his enemies hanging on the sides of his wagon!

Tine (Fire) is the element associated with "willpower...ego politics...the games of life...pretenses" (Stepanich). In any situation, I must choose whether to give my power away, exert my power over someone else, or neither (remain neutral). That last option is what I would associate with position 3: "Not important. Not urgent. Let it go. Forget it."

When asking my question -- What area(s) of life need my attention most right now? -- I imagined the cards pointing to three different areas, in order of urgency/importance. Instead, with this reading, I feel the cards could be referring to the same issue, or perhaps variations of that same issue, advising me that while I need to be vigilant and aware of possible opposition or hostile forces, I need to bring my own energies into balance within myself in order to remain "above the fray."

Faery Wicca Tarot
By Kisma K. Stepanich
Illustrated by Renee Christine Yates
Llewellyn Worldwide / 2004

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ostara Tarot Blog Hop

Many thanks to those who got Tarot Blog Hop started and who organized this year's Ostara Hop. "Hop" is such an appropriate word when paired with Ostara. Why? Well, Ostara comes from Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Her symbols are the egg that represents rebirth, and the hare that represents fertility. Also derived from "Eostre" is the word "Easter." I say "Easter" -- you say. . . Bunny! (hop hop hop)

Okay, seriously, the goddess Eostre is said to "paint the Earth with new life" every spring. The topic for this year's Ostara Tarot Blog Hop is: "Ostara: Paint a journey with new life."

I'm just really feeling in tune with eggs and bunnies right now, so I designed a Tarot spread based on this easter egg, which I colored myself in The Print Shop:

(1) How can I paint a journey with new life using my physical body?
(2) How can I paint a journey with new life using my mind?
(3) How can I paint a journey with new life using my heart?
(4) How can I paint a journey with new life using my spirit?
(5) Who or what will I become on this journey?

I am using the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert (Llewellyn Worldwide). Here are the cards that came forward for this reading:

(1) How can I paint a journey with new life using my physical body?
SIX OF AIR - The card depicts a group of friends who have gathered to greet a new day. I can paint a journey with new life using my physical body by collaborating and interacting with my community, especially with like-minded people, in the physical world. Joanna Powell Colbert's Affirmation for this cards is: "I greet the new day with a song in my heart." By manifesting this song in the physical, material world, I paint a journey with new life.

(2) How can I paint a journey with new life using my mind?
TEN OF FIRE - Transition and transformation are keys to the number Ten. On the Ten of Fire we see a forest fire. Although it may be frightening and destructive, this fire is clearing away undergrowth and improving the overall health of the forest. I can paint a journey with new life using my mind by releasing or clearing away thoughts and ideas that are not contributing to my overall mental health, making room for new growth. Affirmation by Colbert: "I release what is finished, and clear the way for rebirth."

(3) How can I paint a journey with new life using my heart?
ACE OF WATER - What a perfect card for this position! Water is the element associated with emotions (the heart) and Aces represent new beginnings. The Ace of Water depicts this by showing salmon that have spawned in a deep pool. Salmon travel hundreds of miles to the ocean, then back to the stream where they were born. I can paint a journey with new life using my heart by following my intuition and trusting that my heart is wise enough to lead me where I need to go. Colbert's Affirmation for this card: "I seek my heart's desire."

(4) How can I paint a journey with new life using my spirit?
THE CANOE (Trump 7) - On this card a man paddles a canoe. He is focused on his goal, looking neither left nor right. I can paint a journey with new life using my spirit by focusing on my chosen spiritual path, setting aside any unnecessary distractions that threaten to deter me. In a very real sense, I must "paddle my own canoe," steering where my spirit leads me, aided by my guides and allies. I need to make every effort to keep my energy from being scattered. Affirmation from Colbert: "By focusing on my goal, success is mine."

(5) Who or what will I become on this journey?
JUSTICE (Trump 11) - On this card we see a person who has, in effect, become the scales of justice. In accordance with Egyptian myth, he holds a heart in one hand and a feather in the other. Justice is a card of karmic balance -- of cause and effect, of coming to terms with my past actions and accepting the consequences. Colbert points out that all of the creatures shown on this card are from an endangered or threatened species. On this journey I will learn to examine my motives and values, to seek justice, fairness, and balance in all my endeavors. Colbert's Affirmation: "I strive to be fair and just in my dealings with others."

I am loving the strong presence of cards representing "endings and beginnings" in this reading. The two Majors suggest the involvement of powerful, high-level energy. Joanna Powell Colbert's affirmations seem to fit perfectly. I plan to type them on a list and post it beside my computer making these affirmations my"Spring Resolutions" for 2012.

On this edition of Tarot Blog Hop, I am fortunate to have two remarkable gentlemen on either side --

The Incomparable, Mysteriously Brilliant J. Jordon Hoggard:


The Wise and Eternally Gleaming Golden Child, Morgan Drake Eckstein:


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cards and Quotes: 3 of Swords

Today's Cards and Quotes features the 3 of Swords from the Elemental Tarot by Marco Turini (Lo Scarabeo).

"However confused the scene of our life appears,
however torn we may be who now do face that scene,
it can be faced, and we can go on to be whole."

~ Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980)
Poet, Political Activist

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

5W's and an H: THE MOON

Today's edition of 5W's and an H features Tarot of the Mystic Spiral by Giovanni Pelosini, illustrated by Giuseppe Palumbo (Lo Scarabeo).

To refresh your memory: For the 5W's and an H exercise, we use one Tarot card to answer the questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? As an additional requirement, each answer can be only one phrase or sentence. The idea is to respond intuitively, without a lot of description or explanation.

The card: The Moon

Who? Someone who is letting his emotions or illusions cloud his judgment.

What? Dreams, delusions, and deceptions

When? When you are not sure that what you see is real

Where? In a dark or dimly lit place

Why? Because dreams can inspire or deceive

How? Through a healthy scepticism and determination to embrace reality

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cards and Quotes: SEVEN OF CUPS

Today's Cards and Quotes features the 7 of Cups from the Mary El Tarot by Marie White (Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.). I am totally stealing the quote Marie White uses for this card in her book The Mary-el Tarot: Landscapes of the Abyss.

"Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost."
~ Opening lines, The Divine Comedy, Inferno
by Dante Alighieri

Thursday, March 8, 2012

REVIEW: The Mary-el Tarot


The Mary-el Tarot
by Marie White
Boxed Set: 78 Cards, Trade Paperback Book (192 pgs)
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. / 2011
ISBN: 9780764340611


"Exquisite and powerful, if there is a theme in The Mary-el Tarot, it is one of the alchemy of the soul; of finding balance, symmetry, mastery of the self, and becoming your own genius. This long-awaited 78-card deck is stunningly illustrated with traditional oil paints and a depth of symbolism found in the old classics. The accompanying guide, Landscapes of the Abyss, takes the reader through the meanings of each card via the landscape of the Moon and the High Priestess, through the geometry of the temple and the Tree of Life, the Merkabah, and the caduceus! Enter a doorway between heaven and earth, between microcosm and macrocosm, between the world of eternity and infinity. A rare gem suitable for all levels of tarot experience."


I suppose my review of this deck could consist of just one word: WOW. That would pretty much sum it up. However, this wonderful boxed set deserves more, so here we go.

In keeping with Tarot tradition, the 78-card Mary-El Tarot has of 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana cards, including 16 Court cards.

The accompanying 192-page paperback book -- Landscapes of the Abyss -- is a treasure, not only because of the wealth of information included but because of the author's writing style and talent for describing the cards in an original, lyrical manner. Marie White expresses her love of mysticism, symbolism, words, and art in this deck, which she began to create in 1997.

The book contains the following sections:

Part I - Introduction to Tarot

From the author: "The Mary-el Tarot is built on the three pillars of the Marseille, Rider Waite, and Thoth decks, in deep respect of their wisdom and tradition as well as this evolving iconography that has slowly come, as many works of art do, to reflect an inner truth that we humans carry inside us."

Part II - The Major Arcana

This deck uses the traditional cards titles and numbering system, with Justice as Trump 8 and Strength as Trump 11. For each Major, the book includes two or three pages of material, including a black-and-white illustration of the card, its number, title, Keywords (both upright and reversed), and Traditional Divinatory Meaning (both upright and reversed). Most of the Majors descriptions also incorporate a quotation. For example, under "III The Empress" we read, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The discussion of The Hermit features a long quotation from Victor Hugo. For The Star, White has chosen to quote an Eskimo proverb: "Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."

Part III - The Numbered Cards

Suits are Wands, Swords, Cups, and Disks. As with the Majors, many (but not all) of the descriptions of the pips include relevant quotations. White goes bilingual in her quotation for the Three of Disks: "Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen. (No master craftsman ever just fell from the sky.") ~ German proverb. The book groups the cards by number, not by suit. In other words, we have pages for the Ace of Wands, Ace of Swords, Ace of Cups, and Ace of Disks, followed by the Two of each suit, and so forth. Each pip gets two to three pages of description, including title, Keywords (both upright and reversed), and Traditional Divinatory Meaning (both upright and reversed).

Looking for patterns, I notice that all four Aces feature hermaphrodite figures (the Ace of Swords isn't as obvious as the other three, but still could fit that profile). Three of the four Sixes feature figures with wings (angels?) If the figure on the Six of Wands has wings, I can't see them. In the suit of Disks, as one might expect, the colors brown and green are prominent. Wands pips tend to incorporate red, orange, gold, and reddish-brown. I do not see strong color similarity among Cups or Swords cards -- although there is more blue in cards from those two suits than in Disks or Wands. I look forward to hunting for more patterns!

Part IV - The Tarot Court

Court Cards in this deck have traditional names: King, Queen, Knight, and Page. Within this section, White provides a lengthy discussion explaining how she has arranged the deck around the zodiac (a brief explanation of the origins of astrology is also included here). To me, this discussion probably should have had its own section. It covers the whole deck, not just the Courts.

To the lightest element, Fire, White assigns the Fire sign Leo, the season Winter, the Lion, the Heart (Courage), Plasma, Yod, 1-Kether (Crown), Soul, and White Horse to the suit of Wands, The Magician, Strength, and all Pages (numbered 11, thus corresponding to Trump 1 [The Magician] and Trump 11 [Strength]). To the densest element, Earth, she assigns the Earth sign Taurus, the season Spring, the Bull, Strength, Solid, Heh, 4-Chesed (Love), Body, and Chariot (Throne) to the suit of Disks, The Emperor [Trump 4], Temperance [Trump 14], and all Kings (number 14). Notice that White is not using standard numerological "reduction" techniques here. She associates Pages (card 11) with Trump 1 and Trump 11, and associates Kings (card 14) with Trump 4 and Trump 14.

This brings us to the elements Air and Water. Here is where White breaks from the associations that I and many other Tarotists/Astrologers use.

She assigns the element Air to the sign Scorpio (a Water sign) and the element Water to the sign Aquarius (an Air sign). White explains: "I did not hinge the elements of this Tarot onto Babylonian stars from the Aeon of Aries but on the more ancient Sumerian stars from the previous Aeon of Taurus, that is, during this 2,100 year period when the Sun rose on the Vernal Equinox, it rose in Taurus. When it rose on the Summer Solstice it rose in Leo. When it rose in the Autumnal Equinox it rose in Scorpio. When it rose in the Winter Solstice, it rose in Aquarius." The Bull, Lion, Eagle (the old symbol for Scorpio) and Angel are the basis of the four suits in this Tarot."

The discussion of astrological and elemental associations is followed by detailed information about the Court Cards. White notes: "Depending on context [a Court Card] can be you, another, or advice for you or another on how to deal with the energies and situations present in the other cards. . . I tend to see them as all aspects of our self." She describes each suit and what it represents (again, it seems that this information really belongs in a separate section). We then receive keywords for the Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings. Each Court is given approximately one page, including a black-and-white version of the card, title, Keywords (both upright and reversed), Traditional Divinatory Meaning (both upright and reversed), and -- occasionally -- a quotation.

Part V - Using Tarot

White offers the typical recommendations for reading with the Tarot, followed by a Daily Reading spread, Relationship spread, Yes or No spread, Past-Life spread, and Tetractys spread. I'm sure others have heard of the Yes-No method White presents, but it was new to me. Basically, you shuffle and lay out three cards. You then add together the numeric value of all three. If that value is an even number, the answer is Yes; if it's an odd number, the answer is No.

On a page titled "Interpretation," White gives us examples of color symbolism, general meanings for Majors vs Minors (universal influences vs microcosm), elemental definitions.

I find this statement interesting: "Something I always keep in mind is that the cards laid out, as they are laid out, are always right. No more cards are needed to clarify, what you need can be found in what is there."

Conclusion: "Lastly, there is no knowledge that can be found outside yourself that is better than what is inside yourself. You have access to it all (as does every person), alone; you are enough. . . Potential reality is wide; experienced reality is narrow and supports what is in your heart and mind."

This section is just over three pages of sources and resources related not only to Tarot but mythology, poetry, symbology, and spirituality.

Endnotes and About the Author can be found at the end of the book.


I can't say enough about the quality of Schiffer decks and books. An 11-3/4 x 6 x 1-7/8 inch sturdy, laminated gift box with a magnetic closure holds the set. Card stock is high-quality with a gloss finish.

The cards measure about 3-1/2  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.

Each card is bordered in black. The number and title appears at the bottom of each card in light beige-gold text on black. If you cut off the borders, you will lose the card titles.

The backs of the cards are black with an ouroborus (ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail) interlocked with another ouroborus to form a lemniscate or figure eight. The serpent's bodies are half orange-yellow and half blue, patterned with red Yods.


In the "About the Author" section of the book we discover that Marie White began creating art at a very early age, recording "the substance of dreams, visions, nature, and the human form." We are told that her favorite medium is "oil paint used in a method called grisaille, a technique also favored by the old masters, where thin layers of color are slowly built up bringing out the natural depth and luminosity of the paint."

I had planned to show my "favorites" of the cards in this deck on the blog, but there are way too many to do that! I think it's the blend of realism with fantasy that appeals to me most -- oh, and the gorgeous colors. White incorporates just enough detail to make the images worthy of exploration, without boggling the mind. I discovered (no big surprise) that most of my favorite cards feature animals (Never fear, this is not an "animal deck"). I also realized that most of my favorites are Court cards -- which is not the case in every deck I see.


Marie White is one of those amazing people who can not only create stunning, compelling works of art but also write with grace and skill. Her decision to build on the Marseille, Rider Waite, and Thoth decks could have led to a mish-mash of confusion, but this did not happen. Her detailed discussions of the cards in the accompanying book illuminate the symbolism and messages inherent in each card. Her descriptions are personal and beautifully worded, so that you feel she is talking to you personally -- not just reciting and explaining traditional meanings. And I love the quotations she has chosen.

If you are a Tarot beginner, you are probably not going to understand a lot of the references and connections White has made with this deck and book. At the same time, however, you can still get a lot out of both. As you continue with your Tarot studies, more and more will become clear to you, increasing your appreciation for this astounding set.

Experienced Tarot readers -- ENJOY!


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.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Deck Interview: Joie de Vivre Tarot

First of all, I want to thank Mandy Sue at 78 Whispers In My Ear for giving me the idea of a shorter, 3-card interview to try instead of my usual 6-card deck interview. Here are the three questions I have chosen to ask:
  1. What would you like me to understand about you?
  2. What would you like me to understand about myself?
  3. What strengths and/or weaknesses do we have as a team?
I am starting off this new interview series with the Joie de Vivre Tarot by Paulina Cassidy (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) To read my review of this deck, click HERE.

In this new series of interviews, the deck chooses the location for the interview. The Joie de Vivre chose a Ferris wheel in the midst of a carnival. With some trepidation I followed her into one of the brightly colored passenger cars. I had not been on a Ferris wheel in a long time, having decided years ago that I prefer for my stomach to remain in its original position.

Nevertheless, the deck assured me that we would have a marvelous time, and the Tarot never lies, right?

(If you look closely at the drawing to your right, you can see us. We're in the red car.)

As our car rose slowly backwards into the air, I asked: "What would you like me to understand about you?"

The KNIGHT OF WANDS (aka Blaze) popped out of the deck to reply: "Whee! This is great fun, isn't it! I would like you to understand that I am eternally energetic and dynamic, driven and fearless. Life is full of new opportunities, and I insist on pursuing as many of them as possible!"

At that point, he leaned way too far out of the car. Had I not grabbed his tail I'm sure he would have plunged to his death!

Our car was now at the highest point on the wheel. I took a deep breath and asked the deck: "What would you like me to understand about myself?"

Who should appear but Trump 20: JUDGMENT (aka Renaissance). He blew his tiny trumpet and declared: "What I would like you to understand about yourself is that you can transform yourself and create the life you want to live. You can rise like a phoenix from the flames. You have the wisdom and experience to make sound judgments." With that, Renaissance handed me the trumpet, flapped his wings, and flew away.

Smart of him to bail out just now, I thought. My stomach lurched. Our car dropped rapidly as the Ferris wheel continued to turn. I swallowed and tried not to look down as I asked: "What strengths and/or weaknesses do we have as a team?"

The ACE OF CUPS (aka Euphoria) stepped out of the deck holding a large cup overflowing with water. I was soon drenched.

"My dear," said Euphoria, "together we live and breathe the spirit of love. We are open to spiritual awakening and messages from within. At times, emotions may be hard to work through. We will need to exercise compassion and reason to avoid deep disappointment. But overall, our relationship will be one of beauty and harmony."

"Beauty and harmony. Beauty and harmony," I repeated, scrunching my eyes shut and clutching the side of the car in a death grip. Whoosh! We swept past the ground and rose into the air again.

"Whee! Whee!" shouted Blaze.

I opened my eyes, blew the tiny trumpet Renaissance had given me, and laughed.

Reading with this deck could be quite a lot of fun after all, I thought.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cards and Quotes: PAGE OF WANDS

Today's Cards and Quotes features the Page of Wands from the Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner, Illustrated by John J. Blumen (Llewellyn Worldwide).

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."
~ Plutarch - Greek historian, biographer, essayist
(c. 46 – 120 AD)

"Zeal without knowledge is fire without light."
Thomas Fuller - English churchman and historian
(1608 – 1661)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Journey through My Decks: 4 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 FOUR OF SWORDS from The Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov (Magic Realist Press).

"Like a graceful vase, a cat, even
when motionless, seems to flow."
~ George Will ~

In this deck, the suit of Swords is "about the higher forms of intellect, the mind and mental force. . . and can refer to conflict, struggles, particularly psychological ones, willpower, pain and anger." (Mahony) The suit emphasizes the importance of incisive, intelligent thinking yet also underscores the need for balance between that quality and a practical or compassionate approach.

On the Four of Swords we see a ginger cat sleeping deeply, "completely oblivious of both the magnificence of the setting and, indeed of the sculpture of a happy dog with lolling tongue that's just below him."

In general, cats are more alert during their waking hours than human beings and also better at napping than humans. Karen Mahony notes that "the average domestic cat is believed, incredibly, to sleep seventeen hours a day).

As Mahony points out, Arthur Waite's commentary on this card has dark associations, among them "exile, tomb and coffin." He describes the Four of Swords as "a bad card, but if reversed a qualified success may be expected by wise administration of affairs" (The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite, WeiserBooks). However, more modern interpretations of the card often center around "a respectful stillness, peace and meditation."

Divinatory Meanings provided by Mahony: "Time out from the fray, rest and recuperation, mental silence and stillness, a pause to retreat and reflect." Reversed, the Four of Swords can suggest: "A return to the world, being awakened and brought back to real life, cautiously emerging from retreat."

The cat on this card is a stray photographed at the Prague Cat Rescue Home. The stained glass window is from the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. The stone slab is based on part of a carving on the wall of the Jesuit Clementinum.

About the deck: Following in the footsteps of Louis Wain, the English Victorian cat artist, Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov created a Tarot deck in which each card features a well-dressed feline or two. The background scenes are from the city of Prague. Their aim was to "produce a tool as well as a piece of art" and to offer "not only one of the most attractive but also one of the most readable cat tarots to date."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

First Qtr Moon in Gemini: Tarot Dynamics Unleashed

In Issue 4 of Anna Burroughs Cook's Tarot Dynamics Unleashed newsletter we learn about using the Tarot Card of the Week -- the 8 of Swords -- to explore the potential and possibilities for the week ahead. I encourage you to read the newsletter! Click on the link ("Issue 4" above). Do it now! (LOL)

As Anna explains in the newsletter, the 8 of Swords (Card 62 in the TD system) is linked astrologically with the first decan of Gemini (0 to 10 degrees). Today, we have a first quarter Moon at 10 degrees Gemini, which is why the 8 of Swords is considered to be the Tarot Card of the Week (TCOW).

Quoting Anna:
"With the 8 of Swords as this week’s TCOW, whether directly, (through your own goals, health and/or employer) or indirectly, (through the goals of your significant other, their employer, family, friends, or their health and well-being ) everyone, all over the world will be thinking a bit more, or a bit more seriously about where they want to go in life from here, and how to get there!

The Eight of Swords is NOT predicting a nasty week. Although it DOES warn of some extra work or news coming our way that could upset our day or pre-empt our agenda..."
The newsletter provides a simple spread that can be used to further explore how this first quarter Moon placement might affect our week.

For my reading, I am using the Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

I place the 8 of Swords card face up to represent me and the general mood or tone of the week ahead.

Next I shuffle the remainder of the deck and choose a card to cover the 8 of Swords. As per the TDU system, this card represents "whether it's likely to prove a little easier or a bit more challenging for me to deal with people and matters this week."

And I pulled . . . (drum roll please) . . . 3 of Cups (Card 43)!

In Issue 4 of the TDU newsletter, Anna graciously provides a detailed discussion of how we might interpret various cards that appear as Card 2 in the reading. Here's what she says about Subject Card 3:
"The 2, 3, and 4 of EVERY SUIT indicates an upcoming opportunity, setback or new phase of awareness that will arouse the Seeker’s enthusiasm and confidence, or their selfishness and impatience."
In general, the 3 of Cups comes across as a "positive" card, one that suggests cooperation, sharing, and "Emotional / Thinking, Networking" (from Tarot Dynamics by Anna Burroughs Cook, Kima Global Publishers). With the elemental dignity system I use, Air (Swords) and Water (Cups) are somewhat friendly or neutral toward each other. There can be moderate stress, irritation, or annoyance -- but not outright antagonism.

When I put the 8 of Swords and 3 of Cups together, I get a sense that my thoughts about where I want to go in life from here and how to get there could veer in the direction of cooperative projects or collaboration with another person or persons. Since Swords and Cups are not always 100 percent super-friendly (and because the 8 of Swords warns of "some extra work or news coming our way that could upset our day or pre-empt our agenda"), I need to be aware that a partner or potential partner may not be 100 percent reliable, supportive, and forthright.

Consider the contrasting images on these two cards: an individual bound and blindfolded vs. three people celebrating, dancing, and displaying their emotions. Constraint vs freedom. Tight vs loose. Somber vs festive.

I actually spend a lot of time collaborating with others in several areas on a daily basis, so this is interesting, useful information! The suit of Cups may also refer to family relationships, and some sort conflict or snag related to "getting along with" family members in a specific situation. I tend to be the "sober, serious one" in my family, while my siblings are more carefree.