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Thursday, June 28, 2012

REVIEW: Astrology on the Cusp


Astrology on the Cusp:
Birthdays on the Edge of Two Signs

by Sally Cragin
Llewellyn Worldwide

Paperback: 240 pages
ISBN-10: 0738731544
ISBN-13: 978-0738731544
Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

Astrology on the Cusp by Sally Cragin (Llewellyn)
Born on December 19, with my feet firmly in the Sagittarius-Capricorn cusp, I was curious to see what Sally Cragin could tell me about "cuspies" in general, and my placement in particular. Also of special interest to me is the Leo-Virgo cusp, where the sun resided when my younger brother was born, and the Taurus-Gemini cusp, where my son was born.

Sally does a masterful job of thoroughly and clearly exploring the individual signs as well as the implications of being born during the roughly 11-day period when the Sun is departing from one sign and moving into the next. I love that she breaks this period down into three subsections. In the case of Sagittarius-Capricorn, these are:
  • December 17, 18, 19, 20 (Sagittarius, Cusp of Capricorn)
  • December 21, 22 (Sagittarius-Capricorn Cusp)
  • December 23, 24, 25, 26 (Capricorn, Cusp of Sagittarius)
Her comments on my situation are quite revealing. I confess that I did not find her list of my most likely careers to be on target. She did hit on one major interest of mine -- animals (as a child I thought I'd like to be a veterinarian). We Sagittarians are known for our love of animals. None of the other ideas on the list had any appeal for me. Some made me laugh out loud: physical fitness trainer!? bathroom tile specialist!? accounting?! It's important to note that my 10th house (House of Career) is in Gemini, which might explain why I always wanted to be a writer -- and actually became one!

The vocations listed for the Leo-Virgo cusp (my brother) did not seem to ring true for him, either. I had to laugh at "hairdresser" because on a long car trip our family took when he was about 10, he rode in the back of our station wagon, behind the back seat, and passed the time by "styling" my sister's hair. Once again, "physical fitness trainer" was recommended, but my brother is even less likely to be one of those than I am. (He does have a successful career as an industrial engineer/manufacturing plant manager.)

Astrology on the Cusp by Sally Cragin (Llewellyn)
My son was born in the Taurus-Gemini cusp, on the Taurus side. I don't see his chosen occupation (sport management) on the list for this cusp. Least likely for him: bridal wear, cake decorating, music teacher.

Another "mismatch" in the vocations area appears to be George Harrison of the Beatles, born February 25, under the "Pisces-Cusp of Aquarius" influence. One of the occupations listed for that cusp is "electrician." As all true-blue Beatles fans know, Harrison once said: "I had a short go at being an electrician's apprentice, but I kept blowing things up, so I got dumped."

Having said all that, I still think that the level of detail and enjoyable writing style in this book will appeal to anyone who wants to better understand what being born in the "cusp" might mean -- especially if you have never delved into this area before. It helps explain to me why I have never felt like a "pure Sagittarius."

Of course it's also important to take into account the entire birth chart if possible when trying to analyze a cuspy. For example, not only was I born in the Sag-Cap cusp, I have Venus and Mercury in Capricorn, reinforcing any Cappy traits I might have acquired by virtue of being in that cusp. My Moon sign and Rising sign are both Earth element signs, another reason I might exhibit a more down-to-earth attitude than a "pure" Sagittarius.


"Is your birthday between two different signs? Discover new insights into yourself and others with this first-ever guide to cusp astrology.

We’ve all heard the term “born on the cusp”—but what does it mean, exactly? What if you were born just as the sun moves into Aries, but you feel more like a Pisces? If your birthday falls on a date when a sign changes over to another, you probably possess traits of each. Engaging and easy to use, this book goes beyond simple, cut-and-dried archetypes of sun sign astrology, yet doesn’t require any special knowledge. You’ll get a deeper understanding of your personality and motivations—and those of your partner, friends, family members, and anyone else whose birthday is on the edge of two signs.

Organized by date of birth, this astrology book lets you quickly look up your birthday so you can identify your particular strengths, gifts, and challenges. You’ll also find out about your career and upcoming opportunities, times of the year when you can expect obstacles and rewards, and which signs are your best matches for love and romance. Helping to illuminate each cusp birthday’s characteristics are examples of well-known figures such as Robert Redford and Meryl Streep."

Sally Cragin

Sally Cragin (Massachusetts) is an astrologer and author who has published articles on astrology in newspapers across the country. She has written the astrology column for the Boston Phoenix since 1998, and can be heard live Mondays on WCRN-AM in the Worcester/Boston area. She is also a theater and arts critic for the Boston Globe. Visit Sally Cragin online at http://theastrologicalelements.blogspot.com/.


This traditional trade paperback has 240 pages and measures 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches. Paper is good quality. Type style is easy to read. There are no illustrations. Chapter One is titled "How to Use This Book." As the author tell us: "You can read this from front to back, but it can also be used as a reference tool."

Chapter Two is "The Twelve Sun Signs." This chapter begins with the definition of key astrology terms such as cardinal, fixed, mutable, houses, Air signs, Earth signs, Fire signs, and Water signs. Each of the 12 signs is given a little over one full page of commentary.

Chapters Three through Fourteen discuss the cusps. For each cusp, we have subsections titled:
  • The Signs at a Glance
  • Dates of Transition
  • Details on the Cusp Aspects
  • Lovers, Partners, Friends
  • Careers and Vocations

Astrology on the Cusp by Sally Cragin (Llewellyn)
These subsections are followed by a discussion of traits associated with those born at the end of the first sign, those born in the middle of the cusp, and those born at the beginning of the next sign. The last section in each of these chapters is Final Thoughts, which includes "Times of the year when you're 'on fire' and should move all projects forward" and "Times of the year when you may feel compromised or that your judgment isn't as sound as you'd like."

At the end of the book is a chapter called Cuspy Birthdays at a Glance, which includes a list of "actors, athletes, activists, writers, rebels and teachers, saints and sinners" born in each cusp.


In her Introduction, Sally Cragin provides some interesting bits of information. For example: "More than 20 percent of all birthdays are cuspy birthdays." I never stopped to think about that. There are a lot of us out there!

Cragin's writing style is casual and conversational. Some of my favorite lines:
  • Secretive Scorpio meets let-it-all-hang-out Sagittarius in a cusp combination that can bring a sublime sense of humor.
  • How can one see the big picture and all those tiny details at once? It's a gift for Leo-Virgo, but one that can make them thoroughly batty at times.
  • Capricorn's Eeyore-like gloom meets with Piglet's spirited sense of play in Capricorn-Aquarius.

As I mentioned earlier, the Careers and Vocations sections don't seem to work for me or the cuspies in my life, but they do make for interesting reading.


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, June 26, 2012

A Reading with the Ghosts and Spirits Tarot

To read my review of Lisa Hunt's Ghosts and Spirits Tarot (U.S. Games Systems), click HERE.
I decided to take the deck for a trial read using the spread Lisa provides in the Little White Book that accompanies the deck. It's called the Realm of the Spirits Five-Card Spread.

The cards are laid out like this:




by Lisa Hunt (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Card 1 reveals the Present: FOUR of CUPS

The card depicts sailors sinking to a watery grave -- aka "Davy Jones' Locker." With Four as a number of stability but also stagnation, and Cups being the suit of Water (emotions), I feel I am being prompted to explore my current emotional state with an eye toward breaking free from "the waters of indifference" (great expression, Lisa!) I am a good swimmer, and I can remember jumping off a high dive and plunging down, down, down under water. I learned to remain calm and to hold my breath, releasing a tiny amount of air at a time as I pushed myself up to the surface. It sounds like I need to do this in a "figurative" sense, to emerge from my own "watery grave."

Card 2 is about the Past: THE WORLD (Trump 21)

In this deck, The World associated with La Danse Macabre or "Dance of Death" -- an allegory that presents death as the great equalizer, affecting all people the same regardless of social status or personal fortune. This card seems to represent a major turning point or time of transformation that occurred in the past, which influences my actions, beliefs, and behavior today. As it turned out, this transformation or transition presented new opportunities and freedoms that I continue to cherish today.

Card 3 relates to Fears: FOUR OF PENTACLES

This card features the Wanjina, supernatural spirits of aborigines. As Lisa Hunt describes them, these spirits "are there to imbibe gifts." The traditional Four of Pentacles warning against greed also applies. I see in this card a fear of losing something that makes me feel secure. This could relate to money, possessions, health, work -- or a combination thereof.

Card 4 refers to Joys: THE LOVERS (Trump 6)

Here we have the Specter Bridegroom. In her description of the card, Lisa Hunt talks about the illusions about a relationship being swept away. What I see in this card are the Joys that I have found in my relationship with my husband, who happens to be a Gemini (the sign associated with The Lovers card in the Golden Dawn system). Because of past experiences, I am no longer prone to believing in illusions where relationships are concerned. Therefore I am able to experience joy from the very real and present aspects of my marriage, rather than from some sort of fairytale expectation.

Card 5 looks toward the Future: THE HANGED MAN (Trump 12)

Apparently I can look forward to an encounter with The Undead/Vampire in the Future. Not my idea of a good time. Lisa Hunt interprets this card as a warning to "beware of circumstances that can lead to stagnation and feelings of futility." How interesting, since that is the gist of what the Four of Cups referred to in the "Present" position. Once again I am being encouraged to examine whether I am letting myself sink into a "soul-sucking situation" (again, nice expression, Lisa!) Complacency is not my friend. The association of The Hanged Man with the planet Neptune (Golden Dawn) reinforces that Four of Cups watery grave thing by virtue of Neptune's rulership of Pisces.

The spirits have given me much to contemplate. I appreciate what I have been able to glean from this set of cards, and I will certainly use them again soon!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cards and Quotes: 10 of Cups

Today's Cards and Quotes features the TEN OF CUPS (Day of the Dead) from the Ghosts and Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Ghosts and Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

"Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
American Poet

Thursday, June 21, 2012

REVIEW: Ghosts and Spirits Tarot


Ghosts and Spirits Tarot
by Lisa Hunt
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-57281-661-9
Size: 2.75" x 4.75"


I am a big fan of Lisa Hunt's art and her Tarot decks. I love the theme of the deck and the choices that Lisa made for the cards. She clearly did an impressive amount of research and put considerable thought into the associations.

The illustrations for Ghosts and Spirits are, in many cases, creepy or disturbing. Some, however, are quite beautiful. My favorites include the Ace of Sword (Poltergeist), Temperance (Swan Maiden), and The Hermit (Dryads).

You may not like this deck if:
  • you are easily spooked or turned off by skeletons, skulls, dead people, and distorted facial features
  • you prefer to work only with decks based very closely on the Waite-Smith

The most common question people have about a deck is: How does it read? That may seem like a simple question, but it really isn't. A deck that reads well for me may not read well for you. All I can do is describe my personal experience.

I will post a reading I did with this deck soon. I think I will want to use this deck for readings where I have time to study and meditate on how each card relates to the question or situation. I don't feel it would work as well for me in on-the-spot readings where the client expects an immediate interpretation.


"Ghosts and Spirits Tarot explores the fascinating subject of ghosts, surveying supernatural lore and legend from around the world. This luminous presents 79 ethereal beings, some frightening, and some friendly. Through the symbolism of tarot, they deliver their messages from beyond, shedding light on human experiences."


Lisa Hunt is an internationally known, award-winning tarot artist whose work includes Llewellyn's The Shapeshifter Tarot, Celtic Dragon Tarot, Animals Divine Tarot and Fairy Tale Tarot, as well as the Fantastical Creatures Tarot (U.S. Games). Lisa is also the author of the fully illustrated meditation book Celestial Goddesses (Llewellyn). Lisa loves to read and has an impressive collection of books. She has spent her life studying and sketching fairy tales, myths, legends and other fascinating subjects that have driven her muse. She also holds a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on Jungian Psychology/Art & Drawing.

Ghosts and Spirits Tarot has the standard 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. Also included is a special bonus card "for questions that require deeper reflection." For each card, the Little White Book that accompanies the deck contains a brief synopsis about the ghost or spirit shown on the card, along with divinatory meaning and symbols. Lisa Hunt tells us in her Introduction to the LWB that the descriptions are based on research and her own particular input. Divinatory meanings do not include reversals.

Major Arcana cards are given the standard titles except for Trump 5, which is titled The High Priest instead of The Hierophant; and Trump 15, which is titled Chains instead of The Devil. Suits are Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. Court cards are Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

In this deck we meet a wide variety of ghosts and spirits from all over the world. Some are familiar, some not. Examples include the Dragon Ghost-Gods of ancient Hawaii, the Ghost of Banquo (from Shakespeare's Macbeth), Eldorado (from the poem by Edgar Allen Poe), and the Cloud People/Shiwana of Pueblo Indian legend.


The 2.75" x 4.75" cards are printed on sturdy, glossy stock. They shuffle easily. The cards and LWB are housed in a flip top cardboard box.

On the card fronts the images are surrounded by a thin border the color of parchment. Card numbers and titles are at the bottom of each card in an attractive, old fashioned script that looks like it could have been written with a quill pen. This gives a feeling of times gone by or ancient mysteries, the perfect environment for ghosts. The backs of the cards are dark blue with a white border. In the center of the back, three ghosts float within a circle of what, to my eye, appear to be olive-green bones.


Lisa Hunt's art never disappoints. The colors she uses in this deck are mostly subdued, soft colors, with the exception of a few cards on which the colors are stronger or more vivid (for example, the 10 of Cups). The ghosts and spirits vary in form, some being skeletons and others having the appearance of fully fleshed human beings. They all have distinct personalities. Some are depicted with living human beings or animals in the scene. Each card contains much that is worthy of contemplation.

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, June 19, 2012

Journey through My Decks: Seven 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 SEVEN OF SWORDS from the Hanson-Roberts Tarot by Mary Hanson-Roberts (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.).

The Hanson-Roberts Tarot

The man on this card wears a very sly, sneaky expression. I don't trust him, do you? I suppose it's possible that the swords he carries belong to him, but I'm not convinced of that. Dark gray clouds overhead suggest stormy weather, a disturbance in the air. The man seems to have left two swords stuck in the ground. Is it because he can't carry them all or is there some other reason?

Susan Hansson's companion book for the Hanson-Roberts Tarot (The Hanson-Roberts Tarot Companion / U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) lists the following keywords for the suit of Swords: aggression, decisions, courage, justice, power, action, forcefulness, alertness, extroverted thinking. It is interesting to compare Hansson's keywords for the suit of Rods, which include "positive force" (as compared with the "forcefulness" of Swords) and "natural action" (as compared with "action" for the Swords).

Swords suggest an abstract, clinical view of things which, when misused, can bring "war, hatred, suffering, and destruction." The element assigned to the suit of Swords is Air (thought and communication); its astrological correspondents are the Air signs of the zodiac: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.

Laura E. Clarson, who uses the Hanson-Roberts deck to illustrate her book Tarot Unveiled: The Method To its Magic (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.), writes that the number Seven of any suit "represents unexpected change, perception, and insight."  She adds that "with the Sword suit, the atmosphere is one of mistrust."

So we have slyness, dishonesty, and an abstract view -- all of which may create an unexpected change in the way we view something or our attitude about something or someone. 

As with many Swords cards, the seeker needs to determine whether suspicions or fears concerning trickery or theft are well grounded or imagined. The seeker must also explore whether the card refers to suspicions about another person or a situation in which the seeker himself is tempted to steal or break a trust in some way. Surrounding cards in a spread can provide clues to interpretation.

Divinatory Meanings provided by Hansson: "Theft. Ransacking or stealing. Sneakiness. Behind-the-scenes malice. Warning to be aware of dishonesty in business deals. Lock up and guard possessions. A thief is lurking about. Victimization. Exploitation. Extortion. A confidence is betrayed." Reversed, the Seven of Swords may suggest: "Crimes solved. Partial recovery of goods taken. Confessions. Thieves exposed. Petty crimes or vandalism."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cards and Quotes: 8 of Swords

Today's Cards and Quotes features the EIGHT OF SWORDS from the Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Crystal Visions Tarot
 "Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. 
No one can eliminate prejudices - just recognize them."
~ Edward R. Murrow
American Journalist

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ramblings from Helen and The Sun

Today I am * egg-stra * pleased to welcome Helen Howell as a Guest Blogger! Join Helen as she rambles through Wonderland with Alice, Humpty Dumpty, and The Sun.

A short ramble through the Wonderland Tarot's Sun Card

The Sun
by Emile M Tubiana
Let the sun rise high in the sky
Let's savor the honey from its supply
Let it cover us with its warm ray
To accomplish a productive day.

When I first looked at this image of the Sun, I wondered what Humpty Dumpty and Alice's connection to the usual meaning could be. After all, Humpty's an Egg, not Sun like at all, unless of course you soft boiled him and cracked him open to reveal that sunny yolk inside, but I don't think he'd like that, do you?

The Sun card is in most decks, depicted as a feel good card, something that relates to the poem above. It's considered the best card in the deck and in general means happiness and joy. It usually suggests energy, good health, optimism and a positive attitude towards life. Its more mundane meanings represent holidays, good news, birth of a baby, etc. In more traditional decks the Sun card is illustrated by a beaming sun radiating its warmth and energy outwards.

The Wonderland, with its depiction of Humpty Dumpty sitting on his wall and Alice about to shake his hand, does give you the impression that perhaps it's a cute and more frivolous deck than its more traditional counterparts. After all, how deep can an Egg be? Let's crack this card open. You'll see that what at first appears to be a superficial image does in fact touch upon the more psychological and self growth elements of this card.

Now indeed this card is about feeling good, but the Humpty Dumpty element does tend to border on the arrogant side. According to the LWB, the Egg is very pleased with himself, so much so, that he congratulates himself and allows Alice to shake his hand. He tells her that the King has promised to send all his horses and all his men, if he should fall from that high wall. Well, I've got news for you Humpty—you're scrambled egg if you do!

Humpty is so over-confident, that he has allowed his ego to place him in a position that could be a danger to himself, and maybe to others if they are standing under him when he topples – and topple he will - those with big egos fall the hardest, so they say.

Here in just that Humpty Dumpty symbolism, we have a positive and a negative aspect of the Sun card.

 1: There is that sense of well-being, confidence in who he is and the simple enjoyment of his situation. (Positive aspect)

 2: There is the arrogance, the element of showing off – confidence taken to the next step resulting in an inflated vision of himself. (Negative aspect)

Humpty offers his hand, not so much in friendship, but rather in acknowledgement of his own perceived achievement. So he thinks only he shines brightest, and in doing so, fails to see the light that others shine. This holds him back and stops him from reaching his real potential – it stunts his spiritual growth. I think Humpty teaches us a good lesson here, don't you?

Alice, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish! She holds out her hand in true friendship. She, has a quiet confidence, one that doesn't need to prove to Humpty or anyone else, who she is. Alice is happy to be Alice. It is in this acceptance of the self that she is comfortable with who she is and what she knows, and can in turn allow others to be who they are.

This aspect of being comfortable with the self, so that one has no need to prove anything, which results in a flexible attitude towards others and life in general, is a fundamental part of the meaning of the Sun Card. When you experience the energy of the Sun, you can reach a clarity that enables you to gain an understanding about the self and others, that brings illumination, hope and optimism along with a renewed positive attitude.

This dear Wonderland's Sun card, shows us that we need to accept ourselves as we are and allow others to be who they are. It is this self confidence and understanding, that creates a positive future for us. It says it's okay to celebrate our success, but it also shows us that if we take self confidence too far, so that it turns into arrogance, we can make bad choices that delay our progress in self growth.

Humpty needs to remember that even if all the King's horses and all the King's men are called, they won't be able to put Humpty together again! Now that's no egg-zaggeration!

Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass (1872)

“I don't know what you mean by 'glory,'” said Alice
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don't—till I tell you. I mean there's a nice knock-down argument for you!”
“But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument',” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

Wonderland Tarot by Christopher & Morgana Abbey
Artwork by Morgana Abbey - Published by U.S. Games Systems Inc.

Monday, June 11, 2012

REVIEW: Tarot in Reverse (Boyer)


Tarot in Reverse: 
Making Sense of the Upside Down Cards in a Tarot Spread
by Janet Boyer
Paperback: 192 pages
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (May 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0764341014
ISBN-13: 978-0764341014
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches



"Written in a fun, accessible style, Tarot in Reverse  is an accessible yet comprehensive reference for reading upside down cards in a Tarot spread. Interpreting reversed cards is one of the major obstacles for both the beginner and the seasoned Tarot reader. With this guide's extensive "at a glance" keyword list and contemporary anecdotes for each card, readers are equipped to understand reversals immediately, without complex psychological methodology. Hundreds of reversed keywords and phrases boost confidence in readings and expand personal card associations. Addressing life's reversals, each card also includes a related quote, advice, and twenty affirmations providing additional help with life's journey. Full-color card images from the Universal Waite illustrate the concepts."


"Janet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot  (Hampton Roads) and Tarot in Reverse  (Schiffer Books), as well as the co-creator of the Snowland Tarot  (Schiffer Books, 2013). As a respected, trusted Amazon Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer, she's penned over 1,000 published reviews that have also been featured in magazines and other online outlets. In addition to being a Tarot expert and professional reader, Janet is also a social media consultant, blogger and homeschooling Mom. A true Renaissance Soul, she describes herself with four I's: Innovator, Iconoclast, Initiator and Instigator. Janet makes her home in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania with her soulmate, Ron, their son, Noah, and two fur babies (cats Stewart and Neo). You can visit Janet online at JanetBoyer.com."


Encased in a sturdy, colorful, laminated cover, Tarot in Reverse  exhibits the usual high quality I expect from Schiffer. The inside of the book features full-color illustrations of all 78 cards from the Universal Waite Tarot  (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.), upright and reversed. Pages are sturdy, glossy white stock.

In the 2-page Foreword, Lisa Finander (Disneystrology) describes her own Tarot journey as well as her impressions of Tarot in Reverse.

The Introduction is well organized and full of useful information. After a general discussion about Tarot reversals, Boyer offers a thorough description of the various ways reversed cards can be interpreted -- for example, No or Not; Upright Energy Directed Inwardly; Hidden; Needed, but Not Utilized; Blocked.  These are based on the author's "experience as a Tarot author and reviewer, as well as a professional Tarot reader with a worldwide clientele (not to mention the hours of trial and error I invested in the cards when trying to learn Tarot, especially reversals!)."

In addition to noting the meaning of the reversed card, we are reminded to also consider the topic of the reading, surrounding, cards, symbolism, positional definitions, and so forth.

As an introduction to the Affirmations, the book has a short section called "Dealing with Life's Reversals." Boyer notes: "In contrast to affirmations which tend towards the abstract and 'airy fairy,' I've grounded most of my affirmations in rubber-meets-the-road reality. . ."

Next we have "Some Frequently Asked Questions" covering the most obvious questions one might have about the book. Following that, the author describes and discusses The Basic Structure of a Tarot Deck.

Chapter One covers The Major Arcana; Chapter Two, the Minor Arcana (Aces-Tens); and Chapter Three, the Court Cards.

For each card the book provides:
  • Color illustration of the card (upright and reversed)
  • Key phrases for the Reversed card in regular Roman type (black)
  • Cultural references that reflect or express the nature of the card (in italic type, black)
  • An applicable quotation (in bold italic script, black)
  • Advice (in a text box in blue type with a blue border)
  • Affirmations (title in blue, following by full-sentence bullets in black)

Sample Readings come next, followed by a description of The Online Cover Contest that Boyer ran in order to choose a cover for the book. Although the winning design was not used, information is provided about the artist, Ana Haydeé Linares, and her work.

At the end we have a wonderful 2-page Bibliography, Additional Recommended Books and Decks, and two lined pages for Notes.


Those who deplore Tarot books containing long-winded narratives in which the author elucidates, elaborates, and explains ad nauseum will love this book. Why? Because the key phrases for each card consist of single words, common expressions (e.g., "Up a creek without a paddle" for the Wheel of Fortune, Rx), and familiar terms (e.g., "Shades of gray" for The Lovers, Rx)

These are followed by interesting and recognizable cultural references (e.g., how and why Boyer relates the 2 of Swords Rx to the story of the "Bind, Torture, Kill" serial killer who terrorized Kansas).

The quotations are thought-provoking and beautifully related to the card meanings (e.g., "Security is a kind of death" by Tennessee Williams, for the 4 of Pentacles, Rx).

The Advice box consists, again, of brief statements and familiar expressions (e.g., for the 8 of Pentacles, Rx: ". . . nothing substitutes for dedication and 'butt in chair.'")

The Affirmations (how on earth did she come up with so many?!?!?!) feature serious statements alternating with occasional clever or funny one-liners (e.g., for the Queen of Wands, Rx: "I make things happen" and "Aggression has its place. Mrrowww!")

Tarot Reversals  is a breath of fresh air to anyone who is tired of seeing the "same old, same old" keywords for the cards.


From the mundane (I really like the body type style!) to the sublime ("I dwell in the House of God" - Affirmation for The Tower), Tarot Reversals  is a delight to read. Boyer manages to be thorough and comprehensive, while maintaining a light enough touch to keep me happily reading on.

I picture Janet Boyer and her "inner crew" sitting around a table in a dimly lit, smoke-filled hotel room coming up with key phrase after key phrase, line after line, association after association -- "We just need a dozen more Affirmations for the 2 of Wands, come on! It's not even midnight yet!" (Okay, I made all that up -- I don't know if Janet even smokes, nor do I care whether she does or not.)

My point is that I consider this book a real jewel. I can see a writer using the key phrases, Affirmations, and so forth, as story starters, perhaps combining several of them into one fascinating tale (e.g., 9 of Cups, Rx: bar fight... too good to be true... inability to smell...")

Do yourself a favor and check this one out!

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, June 10, 2012

Cards and Quotes: Movement

Today's Cards and Quotes features Movement from The Enchanted Map Oracle Cards by Colette Baron-Reid (Hay House).

"Many a trip continues long after movement
 in time and space have ceased."
~ John Steinbeck

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Reading with the True Magic Spread

Last month I reviewed Barbara Moore's wonderful book Tarot Spreads: Layouts and Techniques to Empower Your Readings (Llewellyn Worldwide). You can click HERE to read that review.

Among the many useful and intriguing spreads in this book is one that Barbara created called the True Magic Spread. I decided to use this spread to explore a project I have started, in an effort to learn what I need to understand about the positive potential and possible obstacles to its success.

My advisors for this reading come from The Secret Language of Birds tarot by Adele Nozedar and Linda Sutton (Schiffer). You can read my review of this fascinating deck HERE.

For the True Magic Spread, the cards are laid out like this:




Card 1 reveals what I have: QUEEN OF SWORDS

The woman on this card is a "study in blue." She looks calm, cool, and collected. A lone seagull flies overhead. The red rose she holds has thorns, and a drowsy white cat relaxes on her lap.

Logic, insight, and perceptiveness are among my gifts where this project is concerned (by which I mean that I do not always demonstrate these qualities, but they are among those I can draw upon when needed). Skillful use of words is implied by this Queen (with Swords being the suit of Air, representing the mind and communication). I can be detached when necessary, and as long as I don't carry that too far, it could be helpful.

Card 2 shows what I need: THE FOOL (Il Matto / The Cuckoo)

A young woman sits at the edge of a beach. A gaping crocodile flashes its teeth in the foreground. We see two cuckoos -- one flying up toward the woman and one that appears to be flying into the crocodile's jaws.

I need to relax and trust the Universe, allowing myself to be spontaneous and free during the development of this project. The Queen of Swords can be a bit controlling and buttoned-up, so The Fool is here to remind me to play and enjoy myself  -- without being careless or taking dangerous risks..

Card 3 refers to someone who can help: THE EMPRESS (L'Imperatrice / The Dove)

This lady's green skin suggests nature and growing things as she raises one arm toward the heavens and the other toward the earth. We see three doves -- one above the woman's shoulder, one at hip level, and one in the gold pattern on her dress.

Well, I can certainly use any help that "Ms. Fertility and Creativity" cares to offer! Adele Nozedar writes that "The Empress can appear as Muse, and you may find that your life will be very different in some months hence." The Empress also helps me by reminding me to take care of myself and have faith in my feelings. Best of all, this mega-feminine energy most certainly refers to the fact that I already have assistance from two amazing and talented women -- my daughter and a woman who was my closest friend from age 5 through high school.

Card 4 advises what to do: FOUR OF CUPS

Four kingfishers appear to hover in place in a night sky, among the constellations. A colorful cup-like vessel hangs in the middle.

If and when feelings of stagnation cloud my work on this project, I need to do my best to learn something from that experience, rather than letting it derail me or plunge me into depression. Everything goes through stages or phases, and a lull in forward progress doesn't mean all is lost.

Card 5 cautions what not to do: NINE OF WANDS

Nine skylarks take to the air, flying across a vivid red-orange sky. The energy that radiates from this card is at once stimulating and intimidating, forceful and possibly angry.

This card also cautions against letting myself despair over obstacles, hurdles, or challenges I face during the development of this project. The darkest hour comes just before dawn, and recognizing that will help me avoid giving up or giving in to the blues. This card also tells me not to forget that I don't have to carry the weight alone. I can ask for help, encouragement, and support from others.

Card 6 represents the outcome (the most likely result if I heed the advice offered by the previous cards): THE LOVERS (Gli Amanti / The Parrot)

Here we see two lovers in a sensuous embrace against a sky-blue background. One parrot perches on the man's shoulder, and the other parrot on the woman's wrist. Adele Nozedar tells us that in India, the Parrot is dedicated to Kama, the God of Love.

As in many decks, The Lovers card in The Secret Language of Birds suggests an emphasis on an intimate relationship between two people. Adele Nozedar writes about the importance of understanding whether you and the person you love share more than a powerful initial attraction. There needs to be something to build on, something lasting. Perhaps in my situation this is about not letting initial excitement or anticipation blind me to more important issues that I really need to take into account. I am more likely to be able to do this if I heed the messages of the Queen of Swords, The Fool, The Empress, the 4 of Cups, and the 9 of Wands.

I often see The Lovers as being about choice, and perhaps I will be faced with an important choice related to this project. I may need to choose between options that are attractive from different perspectives and for different reasons.

Air, Fire, Water, and Earth are all represented in this group of cards, with a predominance of Air. This mixture should be enough to keep me enthused and motivated to continue. The cuckoo, dove, parrot, kingfishers, and skylarks will ensure that there is never a dull moment!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Music and the Tarot: The Mary-El Tarot

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts offering a literal interpretation of the blog title: Tarot Notes.

In his book The Tarot, Paul Foster Case assigns a musical note to each of the Major Arcana cards. I have been fascinated by this for a long time, but only just now decided to make something of it!

My background in music is quite basic: I learned to play the piano in elementary school and taught myself to play the guitar in high school. In the 1960s, I wrote and performed my own songs in coffee houses.

The other day I drew three Major Arcana cards from The Mary El Tarot by Marie White (Schiffer Publishing).  I composed a piece based on Paul Foster Case's associations, with one significant departure: Instead of assigning each card a note, I assigned each card a chord (based on the notes provided by Case).

Here are the cards I drew and the chords I assigned to them, based on Case.

Justice: F# minor
The World: A
Death: G

My purpose was to create something that seemed to reflect or express the "mood" or "nature" of the Mary El deck in general and these three cards in particular. The video also includes a blank verse poem I wrote that was inspired by these cards from this deck.

Within the Hall of Two Truths
Ma'at weighs the heart of the dead:
Heavy or light?
The part of our heart 
that belongs to the World
is heavy
The part that is in the World 
but not of it
is light.
A cycle ends.
Marta the Crone liberates our souls
And we are reborn.

I composed the music using a web site called Jam Studio. I don't consider my composition to be a public-performance-worthy piece by any means. I just hope you enjoy it.

To read my review of The Mary El Tarot, click HERE.


Paul Foster Case's Musical Note Correspondences for the Major Arcana

  • Fool = E
  • Magician = E
  • High Priestess = G# or A flat
  • Empress = F# or G flat
  • Emperor = middle C
  • Hierophant = C# or D flat
  • Lovers = D
  • Chariot = D# or E flat
  • Strength = E
  • Hermit = F
  • Wheel of Fortune = A# or B flat
  • Justice = F# or G flat
  • Hanged Man = G# or A flat
  • Death = G
  • Temperance = G# or A flat
  • Devil = A
  • Tower = middle C
  • Star = A# or B flat
  • Moon = B
  • Sun = D
  • Judgement = middle C
  • World = A

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cards and Quotes: Meadow (Vulnerability)

Today's Cards and Quotes features Meadow (Vulnerability) from the Earth Magic Oracle Cards by Dr. Steven D. Farmer (Hay House).

Earth Magic Oracle Cards by Dr. Steven D. Farmer (Hay House)

"When we were children, we used to think that when 
we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. 
But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... 
To be alive is to be vulnerable."

~ Madeleine L'Engle, American Novelist