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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cards and Quotes: Knight of Swords

Today's Cards and Quotes features the Knight of Swords from the Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.). You can read my review of this deck HERE.

Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games)

The beauty of using this deck for Cards and Quotes is, of course, that I don't have to search for an appropriate quote. I love the quotation (and the painting) that Charlene Livingstone chose for the Knight of Swords. The painting is a detail from Don Quixote by Honoré Daumier, c. 1865-70.

The quotation is from Danish philosopher, theologian, and religious author Søren Kierkegaard.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Transiting Venus Conjunct Natal Midheaven

With Venus about to get up close and personal with my natal Midheaven, I'm going to take this opportunity to address the question many of you have been asking: "What is a Midheaven?"

What? You weren't asking? Well, I'm answering anyway.

First of all, the Midheaven is typically represented in its abbreviated form: MC. In case you're wondering how they got "MC" from "Midheaven," let me hasten to add that another term for the Midheaven is Medium Coeli, which is Latin for "middle of the heavens".

In most House Systems, the MC is the cusp of the tenth house (the "line" where the 9th house ends and the 10th house begins). The MC is the highest point in a chart, which helps us remember that it represents our "highest aspirations" (career, reputation, that sort of thing).

Now, just to create more confusion for you, I prefer to use the Equal House System. When using that system, the MC does not act as the cusp of the 10th house. Instead the MC moves around the top half of the chart, and can land in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th house, depending on the latitude. In my chart, the MC is in the 9th house.

In any case, the MC always represents career, status, life goal, and public reputation. Not surprisingly, my MC is in the sign Gemini, which rules writers, writing, and communication.

On April 30, Venus will form a conjunction (occupy the same degree) with my natal MC in Gemini. Venus rules love, beauty, values, goals, and art.

A conjunction between Venus and my MC has much to recommend it. What will it be: recognition from my peers? an award? getting a fantastic job offer? I'm nearly giddy with anticipation.

Bringing this around to Tarot, I can use The Empress (Trump 3) to represent Venus (Golden Dawn system). To represent my MC I will use the card associated with Gemini: The Lovers (Trump 6). A conjunction places these two cards side by side, linking arms as they walk in perfect synchrony.

Cards are from the Rider Tarot deck (U.S. Games Systems).
To me, The Empress signifies growth, fertility, and fulfilled potential. She represents creative pursuits and satisfaction that can be found from nurturing something to fruition. The Lovers usually suggests to me that a choice must be made. Because we are talking about the MC (career, etc.), I don't think this refers to a choice in a romantic relationship sense. Instead, I may be faced with a choice that could have far-reaching consequences related to my career, status, life goal, or public reputation. I will need to look at the situation from all angles before making a decision.

Numerically we have Three and Six. Threes suggest making progress in goals (growth, expansion), initial completion of Stage 1. Sixes indicate equilibrium and harmony -- "the second perfection," good luck (at least for the time being). Very nice.

All things considered, I'm looking forward to Monday!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

REVIEW: Art of Life Tarot Deck


Art of Life Tarot Deck
by Charlene Livingstone
78 oversized cards
32-page instruction booklet
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN 13: 978-1-57281-715-9
ISBN 10: 1-57281-715-1

Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games)



"ART OF LIFE TAROT presents a 78-card deck of oversized tarot cards. Each card features a treasured work of art paired with an insightful quotation. The cards in this unique deck may be used for traditional tarot readings or individually for daily inspiration."

Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games)

Charlene Livingstone, creator of Art of Life Tarot, has earned credentials in the study of both Art and Life. She studied design and architecture at the University of Michigan, and taught Visual Arts and English to gifted students in Toronto, Ontario.

The Little White Book that accompanies Art of Life Tarot is indeed "little" and thin (not a complaint, just an observation). For each card we are given two to four keywords or phrases. At the end of the booklet, in a section called "Using the Cards," is a five-card Creativity Spread with positional definitions, layout, and a Sample Reading using the spread.

In the Introduction to the booklet, Livingstone describes her journey into the heart of the Tarot, which began when her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2005. Inspired by a vivid dream about the Knight of Wands card, she realized that her unconscious was guiding her to take some sort of action related to Tarot. Drawing on her background in art history and her lifelong passion for quotations, she created Art of Life Tarot "to empower the reader. . . to give the reader a sense of strength, possibility and optimism. . . to encourage contemplation, and for the reader to discover that the answers to life questions lie within."

Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games)
Following her moving and inspiring Introduction, Livingstone gives us a brief paragraph about "Tarot Card Meanings," noting that "though there are traditional meanings associated with each tarot card, this guide is intended to help you bring your own emotional perspectives into focus."

In addition to choosing a work of art for each card, Livingstone also selected a quotation that relates to the meaning of the card. Quotation sources include a wide variety of well-known ladies and gentlemen from all walks of life, for example: Lao Tzu, Benjamin Disraeli, Euripides, Christina Rossetti, Shao Lin, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Proverbs from various cultures are also used (Seven of Pentacles: "With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown." ~ Chinese Proverb.)

I was disappointed when I saw that The Emperor was left out of the Major Arcana list in the guidebook. The card is included in the deck, so I suppose it's not a big deal, but omitting the keywords seems a bit careless. 


The box that contains this deck is something of a "work of art" itself. Not only is it made of high-quality laminated cardboard, it unfolds to create a stand-up display. You can slip any card into the frame. This is the perfect way to display a "card of the day" so that you can look at it or meditate on it anytime you like.

Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games)
The illustration on the front of the box is a detail from Still Life with Apples by Paul Cezanne. Along the sides of the box we have details from two Gustav Klimt paintings: The Kiss and The Three Ages of Woman.

The sturdy, laminated 3-1/2 x 5 inch cards are described as "oversized." I have fairly small hands, and I did struggle a bit to do my push-pull shuffle without dropping any cards. The problem was solved by slowing down, which is certainly not a bad thing!

For each card, the traditional title of the card is at the top, with all words except "of" in all-capital letters.  Directly beneath the name is a reproduction of a detail from a work of art.  Below the art, in very small type, is the name of the work (in italics), the artist, the date, and the museum or location where that work of art may be found.  In the lower third of the card, in italic type, is a quotation.


Ah yes, the Art (with a capital A)! Who among the Great Painters is your favorite? Degas? Wyeth? Monet? Renoir? I have a soft spot in my heart for Rembrandt -- only because he was the first artist I ever learned much about. I researched him for a report for Art class when I was around thirteen years old.

Alas, Rembrandt is not included in the Art of Life Tarot Deck, but many equally amazing artists are. You could actually use these as flash cards while learning to identify the styles of these artists. I readily confess that I'm not any sort of expert on art, but I am pleased with the reproductions of the details from these famous paintings. Someone who is familiar with the works of these artists will no doubt enjoy recognizing scenes from favorite paintings.

On the backs of the cards we see a detail from The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt.


When I received this deck I was immediately reminded of James Ricklef's Tarot of the Masters.  The decks are very different in a number of ways, but both use classic works of art to convey the spirit and messages of Tarot. It's fascinating see how the archetypes found in Tarot are expressed in creations by the world's most revered artists.

I am truly impressed and delighted with the choices of art and quotations chosen by Charlene Livingstone for the cards in Art of Life Tarot. My favorite quotation-card matches include:

Five of Swords
"Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all the time I am being carried
on great winds across the sky."
~ Ojibway Saying

Seven of Wands
"Life is not a matter of holding good cards,
but of playing a poor hand well."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The Chariot
"Do not go where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games)

Each of these cards can serve as a valuable focus for meditation, as each provides the mind with a rich blend of art and words worthy of contemplation. For a Daily Card today, I drew The Hanged Man, which features a detail from Two Acrobats by Ernst Kirchner, and the quotation: "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." I am placing the card in the Art of Tarot box-frame, so that I can visit and learn from it throughout the day.

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, April 22, 2012

Cards and Quotes: The Spider

Today's Cards and Quotes features The Spider from the Animal Messages deck by Susie Green, with illustrations by Csaba Pasztor (Cico Books).

Animal Messages by Susie Green / Csaba Pasztor (Cico Books)

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: 
from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, 
from a passing shape, from a spider's web."
~ Pablo Picasso

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Interview with the Nature's Wisdom Oracle

Recently Alec Satin posted a spread he created called the Tarot Deck Instant Message Spread. Alec has all kinds of free downloads on his web site -- so go check it out!

With Alec's kind permission, I am using the Instant Message Spread to interview the Nature's Wisdom Oracle deck (Mindy Lighthipe / Schiffer Publishing). Here are the cards that came forward to participate:

Nature's Wisdom Oracle by Mindy Lighthipe (Schiffer Publishing)

I love the overall "color scheme" of these cards! Lots of lovely shades of green and purple: a fresh, spring look. I also like the mixture of flora and fauna, including a mammal, insects, and a lizard.

Let's see what they have to say.

1. What I know: IGUANA (Communication)
"All Oracle decks should communicate with the unparalleled skill of an Iguana. Fortunately, this deck does. Oh, you won't see me bobbing my head, extending my dewlap, strutting, or twitching my tail. But I will, on occasion, give you the famous "iguana glare." I will tell it like it is, clearly and without a lot of chit chat on the front end."

2. Where I'm going: PANSY (Reassurance)
"The name pansy comes from the French word pensée. In his play Hamlet, William Shakespeare wrote: “Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.” I am going into a garden filled with pansies -- for remembrance and for reassurance that I am loved. Won't you join me?"

3. If you're looking for this in a deck, you'd do well to look elsewhere: SLOTH (Relaxation)
"So you were hoping to put your feet up and take it easy, were you? No, I don't think I can go along with that. I'm no sloth! Yes, I know there is a Sloth card in the deck, but don't count on me to play that role."

4. What my readings are like: LUNA MOTH (Light)
"My readings glow from within, like moonlight in a pale green sky. I may show you joy or I may show you misfortune, but in every case, my light will guide you."

5. How I can help you grow and develop as a reader and otherwise: ORCHID (Obsession)
"I can help you by alerting you to any tendencies toward infatuation in your life. Plus, I have a few beauty tips I'd like to share with you."

6. My greatest strength: DRAGONFLY (Transformation)
"My greatest strength is my ability to inhabit two worlds -- water (emotions) and air (intellect). I am accessible to both your conscious and subconscious minds, and able to guide you through the stages of transformation to a higher state of being."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

REVIEW: Tarot, Birth Cards, and You


Tarot, Birth Cards, and You:
Keys to Empowering Yourself

by Bonnie Cehovet
Illustrations by Karyn Easton
Paperback: 192 pages
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (September 16, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0764339028
ISBN-13: 978-0764339028


"Use archetypes of Tarot's Major Arcana, combining energy with affirmations and journeying to help you define the path you walk in this lifetime and to reach your full potential. The guidebook employs a Birth Card system that forms a frame of reference for opportunities and challenges you will face during your life span. The tool of affirmations has been interfaced with the energy of an individual's Birth Cards to form a powerful avenue for personal transformation. Using the archetypal imagery of the Tarot, affirmations allow individuals to become co-creators in their own lives, to define what they want to manifest, and to then successfully manifest it. Combined with images from the stunning Tarot Lovers' Tarot, this is the ultimate tool for understanding yourself, your loved ones, coworkers, and friends. For all reader levels."

PREFACE (from the author)

"My hope is that with this book, readers will find the tools that will help them to better understand themselves, define their path for this lifetime, find their authentic voice, connect with that which they consider to be the Divine in their life, and move forward on their spiritual journey. The tools that I have chosen to work with are those of the Tarot Major Arcana, Affirmations, and Journeying. Together, they will help the reader define their path for this lifetime, and reach their full potential."


Author Bonnie Cehovet has read the Tarot professionally for over fifteen years. She also writes reviews, interviews, and articles, and is a popular Tarot radio personality. To visit her web site, click HERE:

Illustrator Karyn Easton is proprietor of paranormality.com and a professional designer/illustrator living and working in the UK. You can read an interview with her HERE.

The book Tarot, Birth Cards, and You is a standard trade paperback measuring 6 by 9 inches and containing 192 pages. The type is set in an easy-to read font, broken up with abundant white space, subheads in a decorative font, lists, bullet points, and black-and-white illustrations.


The Preface contains the message quoted above, plus sections that describe and define The Tarot, Affirmations, and Journeying. Cehovet explains that the system used in this book was developed by Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone of the Tarot School. After providing the possible ways that our Birth Cards function in our lives according to the Amberstones, Cehovet amends that list of possibilities to include: (1) they are functioning well, (2) they are functioning poorly, (3) they are blocked, and (4) they are latent.

Following the Preface, we are introduced to a two-page section called Calculating Your Birth Cards. The formula is explained clearly and concisely: "The numbers for the birth month, day, and year are added together, resulting in a two- or three-digit number." Cehovet goes on to explain how to proceed depending on whether the resulting number is a two-digit number or a three-digit number. Cehovet does not use The Fool card. She notes: "I like to think of the Fool as the one who is taking the journey, and is therefore set apart from the other cards."

For each pair of cards (or in one case, set of three cards), we are given black-and-white illustrations of the cards from the Tarot Lovers' Tarot, Astrological Associations, Keywords, and a Theme. We are then shown how individuals with those birth cards can empower themselves. Next, in each chapter, Cehovet offers details about each card and questions the card might prompt us to ask ourselves. This is followed by Affirmations for the relevant cards, and separate Journeying "directions" to be used with each card. Cehovet advises either taping the directions or having someone read them to you.

We are encouraged to begin our each Journey by "calling in the seven directions" (more about this later).

Next each chapter has a Summary, followed by how individuals can "walk the lifetime" represented by their birth cards. This includes Gifts, Abilities, and Challenges for each card, along with how we can work with those gifts, abilities, and challenges.

After all of the birth card combinations have been explored, Cehovet provides a PostScript in which she lists questions we might ask about our life, belief system, and so forth. She talks about self-confidence, success, choices, adjustments, fears, and dreams.

We are then given a Bibliography and Quick Tarot Birth Card Reference with illustrations of the cards in color.

As I discovered in Mary Greer's book Who Are You in the Tarot (reviewed HERE),
I am one of those special people who have three birth cards instead of two. My birth data adds up to 19, The Sun; the first reduced number, 10, gives me the Wheel of Fortune; the second reduced number, 1, gives me The Magician. In Greer's system, this places me in the Constellation of The Magician (Consciousness; Outer Sense of Self; Persona).

In the system used by Cehovet, the Sun/Wheel of Fortune/Magician triumvirate carries the Theme of "Dealing with the concept of time in all its forms, and the change that comes with it." I love that!

Very briefly, The Sun asks me to open my heart to enlightenment, flow with life, enjoy my abundance, and honor it. In Cehovet's words, The Wheel of Fortune "screams 'Pay attention!' Stay in the present, be aware of what is going on around you, who is involved, and what their agenda might be. (Or what your own agenda might be!)." Finally, The Magician asks me to acknowledge and make use of my personal power and how I connect with spirit.

Together, these three birth cards "work together to help the individual understand the aspect of time (past/present/future) in their life." Astrologically, my birth cards link me to the Sun, Jupiter, and Mercury. How appropriate that Jupiter rules my Sun sign and Mercury rules my Rising sign!

Calling In the Seven Directions

To prepare for Journeying, we are encouraged to use a "summoning script" provided by the author. This consists of calling upon the Guardians of the four directions, along with the Sky, the Earth, and our Inner Self. For each summons, we also include a totem animal and specific gifts that will help us on our Journey. For example: "Guardians of the East, and Brother Owl, please join us on our journey. We ask for your help with vision and clarity."

I was fascinated by this, so I asked Bonnie Cehovet about its source. She tells me that it is based on U.S. Native American lore. Of course there were (are) hundreds of different Native American tribes (565 tribes as of October 2010, according to the U.S. government). Each tribe has its own legends and lore. The interpretations of animals and directions can vary within each tribe. All of them attribute certain characteristics or powers to animals, and most of them also use the four directions in their spiritual practices.

For example, according to the Four Directions web site maintained by a branch of the Northern Cherokee Nation, one set of associations pairs the Eagle with East, the Rabbit with South, the Bear with West, and the Buck with North.


Tarot, Birth Cards, and You has a very personal feel to it, with a separate chapter devoted to each combination of cards. As you learn to walk the Lifetime represented by your Birth Cards, you will have a wise and supportive companion in Bonnie Cehovet. Her hope that this book will "help the reader define their path for this lifetime, and reach their full potential" is certain to be fulfilled.

Of particular value are the lists of questions we can pose to each card. By reading and answering these questions, we gain tremendous insights into the cards and how we can relate to them  at a personal, practical level.

In addition to learning about my self from this book, I look forward to using it with clients. Cehovet recommends pulling the Seeker's Birth Cards from a deck that is not being used and placing them above the reading. I agree with her statement: "This gives both the reader and the Seeker a visual image of the energetic theme for this lifetime. The Seeker conducts his/her life between these parameters."

While astrological associations are included for the cards, Astrology is not a primary focus. Readers who know nothing of Astrology will still reap the full benefit of the material in this book.

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, April 17, 2012

3 of Swords - Astrological Associations

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

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

Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD), the Three of Swords is linked with the placement of Saturn (lessons, limitations, karma) in Libra (a Cardinal Air sign known for being peaceable, artistic, and socially adept). Saturn is exalted in Libra, but there's precious little "exaltation" displayed in this card.

Crowley titles the card "Sorrow" and notes "but this is not any vulgar sorrow dependent upon any individual disappointment or discontent. It is Weltschmerz, the universal sorrow; it is the quality of melancholy." Food for thought. Crowley also writes: "This card is dark and heavy; it is, so to speak, the womb of Chaos."

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "Blockage/end (Saturn) of peace and harmony (Libra)."

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Three of Swords align with those of Crowley and the OGD: Saturn/Libra. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "Conflicts and sorrows. Disappointment in others, a fear of loneliness or abandonment. . .Jumping to negative conclusions." Well-dignified, the Three of Swords may suggest "working in harmony with others." Ill-dignified: "News of a severe loss. . . Danger. Illness. . . Painful doubts. Blame and fault-finding."

One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Three of Swords with the second subdivision of Gemini, along with its natural ruler, Mercury, and subruler, Mars. She writes: "Mars adds much aggression and force to the nervous and skittish Gemini, thus making for a quarrelsome and aggressive personality . . . Put to positive use, this energy makes for ambition and dedication in all areas governed by Gemini."

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Three of Swords with the energy of Uranus in Libra. Mann calls Swords Two, Three, and Four "The Winds of Libra," and links the Three of Swords with the period between October 3 and October 12. Pale yellow is the color associated with Uranus and green is associated with Libra on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Three of Swords: "A focus on creative interests of great originality lead to compromised relationships. Unexpected material success through contracts or legal action." Reversed: "Ignoring creative possibilities leads to dissatisfaction with routine and a desire to break away in rebellion."

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

David Thornton associates the Three of Swords with the placement of the planet Uranus (planet of change and upheaval) in the Seventh House (House of Partnership, Relationships, and Marriage). The Seventh House in astrology is associated with the sign Libra, an Air sign (in keeping with the association of the suit of Swords with Air).

David Thornton's description of the energy of the Three of Swords is: "Unconventional or progressive views on relationships, crisis in a relationship due to resistance to change or to irritability."

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

In Anna Cook's TD system, Subject Card Three signifies Thinking and Networking. The key word for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Thinking, Networking for the Three of Swords. In astrology the Third House, ruled by Mercury, is commonly known as the House of Communication (among other things). Mercury is the planet of the mind and communication. See how nicely that works? The sign associated with the Third House is Gemini. However, Cook uses the second decan of Libra for the 3 of Swords.

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

Just when we think we are safe with an "Air" association for the Three of Swords, we read that Thierens associates the Three of Swords with "The element Earth on the Third house." He writes: "The element of Earth on the Third house acts in the way of the mind and mental processes, and must appear as 'troubles,' etc., because it gives the feeling of the mind being burdened, which might easily go as far as oppression. . . In general: affliction. Scheming, but not in a good sense."

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

All righty then! For the Three of Swords we have:
  • Crowley and Hazel with a Saturn/Libra association
  • Love with Gemini/Mercury/Mars
  • Mann with Uranus/Libra
  • Thornton with Uranus/7th House (ruled by Libra)
  • Cook with Libra
  • Thierens with Earth/3rd House (ruled by Gemini)
The common factor in all of these is the element Air, whether represented by Gemini or Libra. Planet-wise we have our choice of Saturn, Mercury, Mars, or Uranus.

It's easy to see why some Tarot readers throw up their hands and refuse to try to work with astrological associations. My advice is: If you want to use astrological associations, choose the system that makes the most sense to you and stick with it -- UNLESS the deck you are working with uses a different set of associations. Then, I feel, you really must consider using the system the creator of the deck describes. Otherwise, you could easily end up with conflicting or senseless interpretations that don't take into account the symbols and images on the cards.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cards and Quotes: 5 of Coins

Today's Cards and Quotes features the 5 of Coins from The Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg (Artist: Yury Shakov; Publisher: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

"Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, 
and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit."
~ Anton Chekhov, Russian Dramatist

Friday, April 13, 2012

5W's and an H: TEN OF SWORDS

Today's edition of 5W's and an H features the Simply Deep Tarot by Chanel Bayless, with artwork by James Battersby (Schiffer).

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.

Ten of Swords

Simply Deep Tarot (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.)

Who? Someone who is feeling overwhelmed or defeated.

What? Too many difficult issues to deal with

When? When it all comes crashing in

Where? In the darkness just before dawn

Why? Because you have allowed fears and negative possibilities to gang up on you

How? By learning to deal with each challenge separately instead of trying to solve them all at once

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

REVIEW: The Chakra Zodiac Healing Oracle


The Chakra Zodiac Oracle
by Cinnamon Crow, RMT
Deck and Booklet Boxed Set
44 Cards; 3-1/2 x 5 inches
150 page booklet
Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc. (Sept. 1, 2011)
ISBN: 9781886940192


"Beginner will learn the basic functions of the chakras, characteristics of the Zodiac signs, and the ruling planets and their functions. Those already familiar with these two systems will learn the ruling planets of the chakras and how to channel planetary energies into specific areas for maximum healing and balance.

Working with this oracle will help harness the energy of the planets for all matters of healing—individual and communal, physical and metaphysical."


Author Cinnamon Crow is a psychic, medium, teacher, and healer, and is a certified Reiki Master Teacher (RMT). According to the publisher, her divination system (which combines the Zodiac and the Chakra systems) is the only one of its kind.

As an astrologer, the first thing I noticed about this deck is that Crow does not limit herself to the Tropical (Western) Zodiac (12 signs based on the seasons). She incorporates the Sidereal (Eastern) Zodiac (13 signs, including the 12 Western astrology signs plus Ophiuchus).

Those who use the Sidereal Zodiac typically believe that those born after 2009 may have a different sign than that assigned to them under the "old" system. Not only are the beginning and ending dates for each sign different in Sidereal astrology, but the Sun sign for those born between November 30 and December 17 is not Scorpio or Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus. Crow thoughtfully provides theTropical and Sidereal Zodiac dates in her booklet. My Sun sign is Sagittarius in both systems.

Following the discussion of the two zodiac systems, Crow gives us several spreads to use with this Oracle deck (or any deck, really). These spreads are:
  • Daily Guidance (1 card)
  • Specific Question (1 card)
  • General Reading (3 cards)
  • Problem/Solution (2 cards)
  • Block (5 cards)
  • Problem and Solution 2 (4 cards)
  • Mirror Spread (6 cards)
  • Love Spread (6 cards)
  • Story Board (12 cards)
  • Celtic Cross (10 cards)

For each card, the booklet provides a black-and-white illustration of the card, several paragraphs describing the divinatory meanings, and a list of Additional Meanings, which include a Chant, or positive affirmation. The Index at the end of the booklet makes it easy to find each entry.

The cards cover 11 chakras, 10 planets and luminaries, 5 asteroids, 13 signs, and 4 elements.  There is also a card titled Resistance / Energy Block. Each card has a title (keyword or phrase) at the top, a symbol or symbols in the center, and the name of the sign, planet, asteroid, chakra, or element at the bottom. Crow tells us that you can use any of these cards as a focal point for meditation.

Chiron: Originally classified as an asteroid, Chiron (the Wounded Healer) is now considered by some to be an asteroid and by others, a comet. Some astrologers believe Chiron should be recognized as the ruler of the sign Virgo.

The Other Asteroids: Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno and Vesta were counted as planets between 1808–1845, when the smaller asteroids began to be discovered. Originally classified as an asteroid, Chiron is now considered by some to be an asteroid and by other, a comet. Some astrologers believe Chiron should be recognized as the ruler of the sign Virgo.


This deck and booklet set is packaged in a very sturdy, very attractive cardboard box with a lid that lifts off easily (so don't turn the box upside down in the air!). Both the box and the backs of the cards feature a zodiac wheel with the signs around the wheel and the symbol for Chiron in the center. The cards measure 3-1/2 by 5 inches. They are not heavy card stock, but reasonably sturdy -- fairly typical for Tarot and Oracle decks. I have no trouble shuffling them.


For the planets and signs, some of the cards simply have the sigil or symbol for the planet with a wide stripe of color behind it. Others feature the sigil or symbol with other effects surrounding it. For example, the symbol for Saturn is set against a tilted oval that resembles the planet Saturn's rings.

The elements cards have the traditional symbol for each element set against an appropriate background for that element. For example, the symbol for Water is pictured on a rippling pool of water.

The Resistance / Energy Block card has a diamond crossed by a square. In the middle is what I would call a rosette, with concentric circles in its center.

The Chakra cards also have the square-upon-diamond design in the middle. Several of them also include the rosette. Each Chakra card has a different symbol or symbols in the very center of the card.


All of the cards have a black background, with lettering and art in various colors.

The colors used on the Chakra cards correspond to the colors traditionally associated with each Chakra (for example, red for the Base or Root Chakra, orange for the Sacral Chakra, yellow for the Solar Plexus Chakra, etc.) The deck also includes cards for the Ear Chakra, Earthstar Chakra, Hand Chakra, and Higher Heart Chakra.

The cards representing the four elements have a color scheme that is different from what I expected: Fire is red and Water is blue -- that makes sense. But Earth is a deep blue or purple and Air is what I would call red-violet.

With the Zodiac signs, some of the colors are "obvious" choices (Aries-red, Gemini-blue, Virgo-green), but others are not what I usually see (for example, Scorpio - a Water sign - is red, perhaps because of the Mars rulership? and Taurus - an Earth sign - is purple). In similar fashion, the colors on the cards represents planets and asteroids are what I would in expect in some cases, but not in others.

The Resistance / Energy Block card is gray.


I had a feeling I was going to love this deck, and I was right.

Upon opening it, I immediately pulled the three cards representing my Sun sign, Moon sign, and Rising sign and was delighted to discover that they are purple and green (my two favorite colors!) I love the titles, too: Gypsy (Sagittarius sun), Creator (Taurus moon), and Analyst (Virgo rising). That's me in a nutshell, for sure!

The keywords used on each card are excellent, in my opinion. For example:
  • Saturn - Let Go of Regret
  • Moon - Moods & Behaviors
  • Scorpio - Detective
  • Libra - Peacemaker
  • Throat Chakra - Self-Expression
  • Third Eye Chakra - Intuition
  • Fire - Take Action
  • Earth - Manifestation

I have not worked with Chakras much at all, and this deck is the perfect way for me to delve into that a bit more.

The spreads contained in the booklet cover a lot of territory. I especially like the 4-card Problem and Solution spread, which I will try and share on this blog in the future.

I think people who are already familiar with astrology and chakras are going to have the most fun with this deck, but I can also see it as a learning tool for people who are studying these subjects. Crow's descriptions and meanings for each card are detailed and informative.

As a side note, I love the name "Cinnamon Crow." It reminds me of the character called "Cinnamon" on the old Mission: Impossible TV show. And the crow is one of my favorite creatures.

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, April 9, 2012

REVIEW: Simply Deep Tarot


Simply Deep Tarot (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.)
 Simply Deep Tarot
Chanel Bayless (Author)
James Battersby (Illustrator)
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (January 28, 2012)
Boxed Set: 78 color art cards; 3 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.; 96-page booklet
ISBN-10: 0764339842
ISBN-13: 978-0764339844


"A Rider Waite-style, 78-card Tarot deck designed to help a reader immediately connect with traditional meanings of the cards. Using a basic viewpoint, these vibrantly painted cards implore you to delve deeper on an emotional level, yet still supply interesting little nuances about everyday life. The booklet includes exercises allowing you to bond with your personal story through each card and describes the benefits of achieving emotional detachment energetically. Each card is defined in both upright and reversed meanings with keywords included. Find out how simple it is to read the Tarot and explore your own personal story!"

Simply Deep Tarot (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.)

Author Chanel Bayless is a professional Tarot consultant specializing in the creation of fun, innovative metaphysical tools for exploring complex spiritual topics. Illustrator James Battersby is keenly interested in ancient cultures. He is currently working on an Ancient Astronaut Oracle that touches on many of these cultures. Bayless and Battersby are also the creators of A King's Journey Tarot.

In her Introduction to the attractively bound booklet accompanying this deck, Chanel Bayless notes that using Tarot as a window into the soul requires opening up many layers. She writes: "Layers are made up of our core beliefs, false beliefs, walls, memories, and any other energy that has supported (either negatively or positively) the issue at hand." Bayless notes that to delve deeply,  a certain level of emotional detachment may be needed. Because emotional detachment can be very difficult when a personal issue is involved, she designed Simply Deep Tarot to help us "connect easily with the most simplistic meaning of each card, while paving a way to climb safely into the deeper meaning behind the card."

The section of the booklet titled "So How Do I Go in Deep?" gives us an example of the process we can use to "go in deep" using this deck.

After a page about the Structure of the Deck, we move into the Major Arcana, beginning with The Fool. The Majors have traditional Rider-Waite-Smith titles, with Strength as Trump 8 and Justice as Trump 11. Suits are Coins/Earth, Swords/Air, Wands/Fire, and Cups/Water. The Court Cards are titled Princess, Knight, Queen, and King. For every card we are given three Keywords, along with Upright and Reversed meanings. The booklet does not describe or explain the scenes shown on the cards.

Simply Deep Tarot (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.)

The deck and booklet are contained in an attractive, sturdy box with a magnetic closure.

The cards are printed on sturdy, laminated stock. They measure approximately 2-3/4 x 4-1/2 inches.

Each suit has a distinctive color scheme, including strips of solid color on both sides of the card, with a darker shade of the same color at the top of the Court Cards, and white at the top of the pips. Titles are printed in a corresponding color on white at the bottom of each suit card. Coins are green; Wands are salmon; Swords are gold; and Cups are teal. This color scheme makes it easy to see the suit/element of the cards at a glance, when they are drawn in a reading.

The Majors a similarly designed, but each has a unique-colored border (a light shade on the sides, darker shade at the top and bottom), with titles printed in white at the bottom. The Fool is olive green, The Magician is purple, The High Priestess is fuchsia, and so forth. At the moment, I am not seeing a pattern or significance to the colors chosen for each Major, although in some cases the color seems to correspond to the Golden Dawn elemental attribution (for example, The Hierophant/brown/Earth; The Sun/red-orange/Fire).


Simply Deep Tarot (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.)
Although this is a Rider-Waite style deck, many of the images depart somewhat from the scenes I normally associate with the RWS. For example, The Magician sits at a table with his back to us. His left arm rests on the table. He does not have one arm raised in the RWS tradition. On the table we see a wand, burning candle, a book titled Best Life Spell, an incense burner with a burning  incense stick in it, a glass of water, a plate with gold coins on it, a knife, a flower growing in a vase, and a small cup containing colorful objects of some kind. Underneath the table a tiny fruit-bearing tree grows in a pot. So we do have the usual references to Fire, Air, Water, and Earth -- but there is much more to be explored.

Not being an art critic, I don't have a name for this style of art -- but Battersby uses mostly bright, vivid colors and relatively simple-looking images that actually incorporate a lot of detail when you take the time to study them. There is a slightly "cartoony" aspect to the drawings, yet in many ways they are quite realistic.


I feel that beginning Tarot students can appreciate and use this deck fairly early in their journey. It is a highly approachable deck with mostly friendly images. Readers who are already proficient with the RWS will enjoy diving into the cleverly incorporated layers and levels of understanding found in this deck. I believe the deck could be used with older children, depending on how you feel about the sexually suggestive Lovers card and the potentially disturbing Devil card.

I think the color scheme and color coordination of the cards really adds to the usefulness and attractiveness of the deck.

I'm looking forward to performing the one-card exercise Bayless offers in the booklet, and hope to share my results later on Tarot Notes!


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, April 8, 2012

Cards and Quotes: Judgement

It's Easter Sunday! Today's Cards and Quotes features Judgement from The Celtic Tarot by Helena Paterson, Illustrated by Courney Davis (Aquarian).

The Celtic Tarot (Paterson/Davis - Aquarian)

"On Easter Day the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer."
~ Douglas Horton (1891-1968)
American Protestant clergyman and academic leader

Click HERE to see photos of Christians celebrating Easter around the world.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Take a Number: Six!


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 Six: reconciliation, integration, reciprocity, communication, resolution of tensions, social responsibilities

Tarot Cards: The Lovers, Sixes of all suits


Writing about the occult meaning of numbers, Paul Foster Case gives the following keywords for Six: "balance, equilibration, symmetry, beauty; harmony of opposites, reciprocity; complementary activities, polarity, love." Case also writes, "[Six] is named Intelligence of Mediating Influence, or Intelligence of the Separated Emanations." (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 gives the Keywords "Affectionate, Stable, Conservative" for the number Six.

Quoting from Numerology and The Divine Triangle by Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker (Whitford Press): "Six is conscientious; it desires to bring harmony, truth, justice and a sense of balance into its environment. Love and compassion are uppermost in its mind." Key words for Six: "family and social responsibility, service, love, compassion, counseling, healing, creativity."

Gary Meister, CTM offers the key words "Peace, Harmony" for the number Six. He writes: "Numbers were considered sacred in the distant past. . . Six held a special place as it is considered a 'perfect number.' The sum of its divisors, other than itself, add up to itself. Esoterically, this was considered to be a very harmonious interaction. So, six is a number of peace and harmony." He adds that Six suggests a period of emotional rest -- the crises have passed; things are back under control.

The web site Numberquest.com provides the following key words for the number Six: "Harmony, beauty, nurturing, love, marriage, family, responsibility, understanding, sympathy, healing, empathic, perfectionist, order, duty, comfort, service."

In Anna Burroughs Cook's Tarot Dynamics system (based in large part on Javane and Bunker): "Subject Card Six represents your level of commitment."

THE LOVERS (Trump 6): Konraad writes, "In Arcanum VI of the Tarot, a man must choose between two women, an older and a younger one. In the case of 6, the younger one could be said to represent adventure in the form of a creative calling and the older one, security in an established company or job in commerce."

Concerning The Lovers (Card 6), Cook writes: "Card Six means an opportunity to repair whatever needs to be repaired or clarified in the hope that matters will run more efficiently and harmoniously." Cook's key word for The Lovers is "Harmony."

According to Javane and Bunker: "The Lovers is an obvious reference to partnership and marriage, the union of opposite but complementary components. The keyword is discrimination. When we discriminate we set apart and separate in order to see the innate differences between two categories. In this manner, we can tell the true from the false."

In astrology, the Sixth House is known as the House of Work, Service, and Health. It is ruled by the zodiac sign Virgo, known as a discriminating, logical, analytical, and critical sign.

It is clear to me that Six does suggest peace and harmony, but often this is coming after a time of conflict and disturbance. I especially like Anna Cook's comment about Six representing "level of commitment."

I hope you enjoy these quotations I found that include the number Six:
"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
~ Lewis Carroll

"The natural term of the affection of the human animal for its offspring is six years."
~ George Bernard Shaw

You can only fall in love six times in your life. Choose wisely.
~ Doug Coupland

"I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who."
~ Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

REVIEW: Stalked by Spirits


Stalked by Spirits: True Tales of a Ghost Magnet
by Vivian Campbell
288 pages;  5 x 8 IN
Trade Paperback
Llewellyn Worldwide / April 2012
ISBN:  9780738727318

"Shadowed by the supernatural since childhood, Vivian Campbell has encountered angry wraiths, mischievous child spirits, terrorizing demons, and all sorts of bizarre, unearthly beings. In Stalked by Spirits, Vivian relives these thrilling experiences."
To see a videotaped interview with Vivian Campbell, click HERE.


The 288-page book is a standard trade paperback measuring 5 x 8 inches, with text separated  into an Introduction, seven Chapters, and an Epilogue. The author is a paranormal investigator and sensitive whose life in several different haunted houses has been chronicled in several books and a television documentary.

The text of Stalked by Spirits is arranged in rough chronological order, one story after another, with flashbacks along the way. Each chapter is divided by subtitles. Chapter titles and many of the subtitles are provocative and encourage the reader to continue. Beneath each Chapter title Campbell provides a place and range of time covered by the chapter. Examples of Chapter titles: "Spook Central (Lookout Mountain, Tennessee: 1970-1979)," "Honeymoon with the Shadow Man (Atlanta, Georgia: 1991-1993)," and "Unexpected Guests (Orlando, Florida: 1993-1995)." Subtitles include teasers such as "The Cat with Nine Lives" and "Mr. Creepy" as well as those that simply identify the date that an incident took place.


I love a good ghost story -- whether it is fictional (like Stephen King's The Shining) or just might be true. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the Weird & Haunted Tour I took a couple of years ago in Chicago (conducted by Weird Chicago), and I loved the tales I recently heard about haunted buildings in the South Carolina town where I currently live. I listened with fascination as one woman described her family's encounters with three different spirits or ghosts in her house. So far, that woman's experiences have been non-threatening. The same cannot be said for the experiences Vivian Campbell writes about in this book.

Our first clue is the title: Stalked by Spirits. Being stalked by anyone or anything is not usually pleasant, and Campbell shares quite a few ghostly encounters of the distinctly disturbing kind. She also discusses a variety of prankish, friendly, or harmless spirits.

Campbell's experiences are not limited to one house or even one town. A self-described "ghost magnet," Campbell has known spirits in Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. At various times over the years, her encounters with these phantoms have been shared by members of her family as well as friends and acquaintances. 

In Chapter One, we are introduced to Campbell's great-grandmother, Janet Rattray Thompson Hosie of Scotland, who warned her fiancé not to go to work one day in 1893 because she had dreamed he would die there. He ignored her warning, and as the story goes, he was killed in an explosion three hours later at the factory where he worked.

Campbell's ancestors and other member of her family are known for having "second sight." Campbell herself does not claim that talent. Instead, she attracts ghosts. She is also sensitive to paranormal "energies" in the places she visits, and senses a difference in the air when demonic or evil entities are present. Over time, she has learned that earnest prayer is the most successful weapon against such forces.

As a Tarot reader, I took note of the few references Campbell makes to Tarot in this book. Of her ancestors, she writes: "The Hosies were conservative, God-fearing Presbyterians who would literally cut off a hand before touching a tarot card." Campbell, however, does not share that view. She
gave her former stepson a pack of Tarot for his 18th birthday to help guide him as he began his adult life. [Edited based on direct communication with Vivian Campbell.]


In general, I enjoyed Campbell's prose style, which varies from matter-of-fact to descriptive bordering on lyrical. I do feel she goes a bit overboard with descriptions from time to time. For example: "The full moon spilled rays of silver over spider webs of Spanish moss hanging from ancient live oaks like corpses."  One particularly sensational passage describes an empty baby carrier tipped upside down as "...like the body of a battered child that had been viciously and silently kicked to death." I wanted to edit down many of her sentences to make them more effective. However, there are plenty of beautifully crafted, evocative lines in this book to more than make up for that.

If you are interested only in scientific approaches to paranormal investigation, this book won't work for you. It seems designed more for those who, like me, enjoy a good ghost story and find it fascinating to imagine what it might be like to experience the kinds of things Campbell describes. If you have encountered ghosts or spirits in your personal life, you might enjoy comparing your encounters with Campbell's.


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, April 1, 2012

Cards and Quotes: THE FOOL

It's April Fool's Day here in the U.S.! Today's Cards and Quotes features The Fool from Tarot of the Animal Lords by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo).

"The fool doth think he is wise, 
but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
~ William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
As You Like It, Act 5 scene 1