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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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


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

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lenormand Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Snowland Deck: Life Themes Edition

On my porch the other day sat an ordinary white shipping box, taped up all neat and tidy. When I brought it inside and opened it, I discovered twinkles and sprinkles and blues and silvers and winter magic in the form of 24 dazzling cards, a pendulum, an inspirational "ice cube," a huge but delicate snowflake, and a gorgeous blue drawstring bag covered with silver snowflakes, with one tiny, glittery snowflake charm stitched at the top.

My Life Themes Edition of The Snowland Deck had arrived.

The best way to get all the details and background information on this deck is to visit the web site at http://www.janetboyer.com/SnowlandDeck.html

When you visit the Snowland Etsy shop, you'll see some pretty darn *cool* bracelets that I happened to design (in collaboration with Janet Boyer) and which I made under my Jewelry by Scotti label. Janet has given each bracelet a clever name, and like snowflakes, no two bracelets are exactly alike.

At the Snowland Zazzle shop, you can purchase a wide variety of items featuring art from the cards (by Ron Boyer). Yes, I bought a mug with The Carousel on it. I love that image! (I'm probably going to buy more mugs to give as Christmas gifts this year.)

But here at Tarot Notes, I really need to focus on the cards themselves. The Life Themes Edition is a Majors-only set. Many of the card titles are non-traditional, but anyone who knows Tarot will recognize some familiar characters: Beginnings (The Fool), Magic (The Magician), Oracle (The High Priestess), Mother Nature (The Empress), Commanding (The Emperor), Teaching (The Hierophant), Commitment (The Lovers), The Train (The Chariot), Strength, The Hermit, The Carousel (The Wheel of Fortune), Justice,  Inversion (The Hanged Man), Impermanence (Death), Temperance, Chains (The Devil), Removal (The Tower), The Stars, The Moon, The Sun, Calling (Judgment), The World.

But wait, there's more! In addition to all of the above and a title card, the set includes a bonus card -- the delightful "Chillaxin" -- designed by the Boyers' son.

The cards measure 3.5 x 5.5 inches -- too large for the poker shuffle (unless you have large hands), but I find them easy to shuffle using the push-pull method. Card stock is sturdy but not "heavy." As promised by the deck creators, the colors really are eye-popping, most of them dominated by bright shades of blue or turquoise. Card backs are reversible -- blue background with a large, centered snowflake in white.

Card faces have an unobtrusive white border. Titles appear at the bottom in black against white. The Majors are not numbered, but I can see from the web site that the pips do have numbers.

The winter theme is consistent yet expressed differently on each card, so that each has its own personality -- from quirky (Removal) to moody (The Moon) to sweet (Calling). Among my favorites are Teaching (which shows a snowy owl standing at a tree trunk podium addressing a gathering of animals), Strength (a woman on ice skates leads a huge polar bear by a slender ribbon), and The Carousel (I want to go for a ride on it right now!)

I'm looking forward to trying a Majors Only reading with this set of cards!

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, October 21, 2012

Cards and Quotes: The Star

Today's Cards and Quotes is one from the past that I thought worth sharing again.

It features THE STAR from the Celestial Tarot by Kay Steventon and Brian Clark (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) The Star often represents hope, renewal, inspiration, and spiritual guidance. On the Celestial Tarot card we see Hebe -- goddess of youth and daughter of Zeus and Hera -- pouring the invigorating waters of life over mankind.

"Reach high, for the stars lie hidden in your soul.
Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal."
Pamela Vaull Starr (1909-1993) / Poet, Artist, Writer

Friday, October 19, 2012

5W's and an H: THE MOON

Today's edition of 5W's and an H features Twilight Realm: A Tarot of Faery by Beth Wilder (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.

The card: The Moon

Twilight Realm by Beth Wilder (Schiffer)

Who? Someone who is not what they seem

What? A dream or subtle message from your subconscious

When? At night

Where? In a place between waking and sleeping, between reality and fantasy

Why? Because you need to see things the way they really are

How? By questioning what you perceive, hear, or  imagine

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Journey through My Decks: Nine 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 NINE OF SWORDS from  the One World Tarot by Crystal Love and Michael Hobbs (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.).

One World Tarot

The One World Tarot provides a perfect opportunity for me to comment on deck-specific differences concerning astrological attributions and associations.

Crystal Love assigns her Nine of Swords to the second subdivision of Aquarius; natural ruler Uranus; subruler Mercury. Book T* associates the Nine of Swords with Mars and Gemini. A. T. Mann, in his Mandala Astrological Tarot (Thorsons, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), links Sword Nine with the second decan of Gemini, i.e., Venus in Gemini. And, just for fun, let's include A.E. Thierens, who attributes the Nine of Swords to the element of Earth on the Ninth house, the house of Sagittarius.

My tendency is to use the system proposed by the creator of the specific deck I am reading with. If the deck's creator doesn't mention astrology, I sometimes use Golden Dawn attributes (as presented in Book T).

Crystal Love describes the astrological influences in her Nine of Swords as follows: "The inventive genius of Aquarius is given intellectual capabilities by the presence of Mercury."

Now, I don't know about you, but I actually don't see any Swords on this card. What we do have are symbols for Aquarius and Uranus (ruler of Aquarius**) in the upper left corner and the symbol for Mercury in the upper right corner. There's a nice blue, partly cloudy sky to represent Air (the element associated with Swords in this deck and many others).

All of Love's Swords cards feature these shimmery orbs instead of Swords. As I have mentioned before, her other three suit markers make sense to me: Leaves for Earth, bright yellow Sunflowers for Fire, and Starfish for Water. I am familiar with the symbolism of the circle or sphere. I just can't quite get from there to Swords.

Love's DMs (based on "traditional interpretation"): "Success and gain after persistent effort. Cruelty, unreasonable passions, anxiety. Misery. Quarrel. Strength and new life arising from suffering. The card of the martyr." Reversed, the card can suggest "Tyranny. Cruelty. Failure through eccentric and confused thinking. Clever but devious. Impractical Ideas. Scandal. Gossip. Malice."

* Book T   The Tarot, Comprising Manuscripts N, O, P, Q, R, and an Unlettered Theoricus Adeptus Minor Instruction. A Description of the Cards of the Tarot with their Attributions; Including a Method of Divination by Their Use. A public domain manuscript.

** Some astrologers give rulership of Aquarius to Saturn or assign Uranus and Saturn as co-rulers.

About the deck: Crystal Love writes, "The One World Tarot deck is a fusion of traditional tarot and modern design. It incorporates astrological, numerological, esoteric, and color symbolism. . . Each card of the One World deck describes a different archetypal life situation to which, as humans living on the planet Earth, we are all subject."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cards and Quotes: Page of Cups

Today's Cards and Quotes features the PAGE OF CUPS from Twilight Realm: A Tarot of Faery by Beth Wilder (Schiffer Publishing).

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, 
but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
~ Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)
Dutch painter

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Deck Test: Twilight Realm

Recently I asked my Facebook friends what they are looking for when they read a review of a Tarot deck or book. One thing that some folks like to see in a review is a description of how the deck "works" for the reviewer.

Logic tells me that you don't really know how a deck works for you until you have used it for several (many?) readings. But I wanted a quick method for evaluating the potential of a recently acquired deck in terms of how well I would be able to work with it.

Here is the 3-card reading I created. I hope I will be forgiven for injecting a little humor into it.

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

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

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

Let's see what this test reveals about my ability to work with the Twilight Realm deck by Beth Wilder (Schiffer Publishing). You can read my review of this deck HERE.

(1) Drawn from Pips only
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being "absolutely fabulous" and 1 being "truly awful"), how does my ability to work with this deck rate as of right now?
SIX OF CUPS -- Okay, that's not bad, especially since I just got the deck. This card suggests to me that I am already able to work so well with this deck because it resonates with me emotionally and perhaps even triggers fond memories of the past or a past life. It also suggests to me that this deck can help me avoid dwelling in the past and help me continue to grow and move forward.

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

PAGE OF SWORDS -- I need to cultivate curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, a talent for observation, and a vigilant mind. I see this Page as a student or scholar, which makes perfect sense as I begin to explore this new deck.

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

THE MOON (Trump 18) - Well! Now that's pretty cool. The Moon indicates that the answer is "very likely." Not only that, The Moon suggests to me that with this deck I have a good chance of revealing illusions, deceptions, and false hopes for what they are. Combining these cards with my dreams and subconscious insights, I can bring hidden things to light and further develop my psychic abilities.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

REVIEW: Twilight Realm


Twilight Realm:
A Tarot of Faery

by Beth Wilder
78 cards
Schiffer Books / April 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7643-3393-4

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I was going to begin by saying that I'm not that big a fan of "fairy" (or "faery" or "faerie") decks. But then, if you look at my Tarot deck shelves, you will see Faery Wicca Tarot (Stepanich, Yates / Llewellyn), The Fairy Tarot (Lupatelli / Lo Scarabeo), and Mystic Faerie Tarot (Ravenscroft / Llewellyn) -- not to mention the Dream Fairies oracle (Jeffrey, Luna / Lo Scarabeo) and Oracle of the Dragonfae (Cavendish / Blue Angel Gallery). Okay, fair(y) enough. The truth is, *some* fairy-themed decks do appeal to me. It depends on various factors.

Having said that, Twilight Realm (A Tarot of Faery) definitely does appeal to me. The evocative art is probably the main reason. While I like some cards better than others, in general the images not only make an emotional connection for me, but also prompt contemplation and a study of the details.  The accompanying guidebook offers much to consider and digest, which I enjoy. I feel deeply connected to the 5 Cups, Hierophant,  3 Wands, Sun, King of Cups, and Queen of Wands from this deck. The Page of Cups and Page of Wands are adorable!

It does not bother me that the images depart from the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) model. As I may have mentioned before,  I like to combine my existing knowledge of those traditional symbols and images with personal touches and insights provided by the person who designed the deck. Yes, this is what many would call an "art deck," but for me, that doesn't automatically exclude it from my reading decks.

I like Wilder's approach to Tarot, which she describes in the Introduction: "The reader should always do what feels most comfortable." She does indicate that a card that falls from the deck during shuffling should receive special attention, as "that card wants to be heard." I think that is a matter of personal belief and reading style.

To summarize, I find a lot to like about this deck. If you prefer decks based strictly on the RWS model or if you prefer light, airy-fairy decks, this probably isn't the one for you. Also, the cards are difficult for small-ish hands to shuffle. The only shuffling method I can use with these is to deal the cards out face down on a table and "stir them around."


"Journey through the mystical land of Faery with this unique Tarot book and art card deck. Glowing images of ethereal creatures evoke the mystic nature of Faery, drawing readers into their twilight world of wonder. The accompanying book provides explanations for each card using Faery lore as the basis. Touching on aspects of nature and Faery tradition, readers will gain insight through the magical painting style of Beth Wilder."


Beth Wilder writes that she created this deck "as a way for fairies to communicate with other people" because that is what the fairies asked her to do. In her Introduction, Wilder apologizes to Tarot enthusiasts "who are used to cards appearing in certain ways with specific symbols and meanings attached to them." She explains that the cards in this deck were inspired by the fairies around her and therefore don't necessarily "reflect typical Tarot ideology."

For this deck, Wilder uses images of fairies (and elves, dwarves, leprachauns, etc.) who have come to her in dreams and fairies she has seen in a waking state. She describes these circumstances in the guidebook.

Although the images are not tied strictly to the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, many of them incorporate recognizable symbols, characters, and activities. For example, The Magician does not stand in his traditional "As Above, So Below" pose, but he does have the four suit symbols on the table before him. The Empress is not pregnant but the flowers surrounding her remind us of that card's association with fertility and regeneration.

The Hanged One (Trump 12) shows a woman hanging by her neck (instead of a man hanging by his ankles). An overturned stool lies under the woman's dangling feet, and she appears to be struggling with the rope around her neck. Yet Wilder tells us that "she is actually only testing the full extent of her own powers, fully confident that she will be able to free herself." Wilder also notes, "she has no fear of death, since it is merely another experience necessary for the growth of one's soul."

Major Arcana cards bear traditional titles and numbers, with Strength being Trump 8 and Justice being Trump 11.

Minor Arcana cards bear their titles at the bottom of each card. The suits are Swords, Wands, Cups, and Rings. Swords are associated with the element Fire, Wands with the element Air, Cups with Water, and Rings with Earth. Instead of Knights, we have two Princes (Swords and Wands) and two Princesses (Cups and Rings).

The guidebook has the following sections:
  • Introduction
  • Tarot Spreads (includes three spreads)
  • Major Arcana
  • Minor Arcana
  • Conclusion
  • About the Author/Artist

For each card, a black-and-white reproduction appears in the guidebook. Both upright and reversed meanings are provided. Majors get one and one-half pages of text each; Minors get one page of text each.


The cards measure 3-1/2 by 5 inches. They are printed on sturdy (but not heavy), glossy stock. They are too large for me to shuffle using my usual push-pull method.

Card faces have wide black borders, which are bound to put some people off. If you like to trim the borders, I think you can do this with Twilight Realm without destroying anything of value. You'll probably want to preserve a portion of the border at the bottom of the card on which the card title appears -- unless you like cards without titles, in which case, just slice away!

Card backs are reversible, decorated with a circle of white and purple violets in the center. A criss-cross lattice design forms a rectangular border.


The style of art is realistic -- well, as realistic as possible, considering that many of the characters are (possibly) imaginary. Wilder has seen faeries, and depicts them as she sees them. In this deck, most have human characteristics (faces, arms, hands, body shape -- with occasional wings or mermaid tails). Some are not human in appearance. A decidedly not-human dragon graces the 3 of Swords card. The 2 of Swords is based on an image Wilder saw in the bark of a favorite tree one rainy day.

The colors are dark, deep, moody, and mysterious. Each scene is set against a black background. I get a late autumn or winter feeling from the color scheme -- definitely a sense of shadows and secrets.

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, October 7, 2012

Cards and Quotes: Victory & Success

Today's Cards and Quotes features Victory & Success (6 of Spirit) from the Psychic Tarot Oracle deck by John Holland  (Hay House).

"What is success? 
I think it is a mixture of having a flair for 
the thing that you are doing; 
knowing that it is not enough, 
that you have got to have hard work 
and a certain sense of purpose."
~ Margaret Thatcher
born 13 October 1925
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 1979–1990

Friday, October 5, 2012

Past Lives Reading

As promised in my Review of Sandor Konraad's Classic Tarot Spreads (Schiffer), I am sharing my reading using the Past Lives Spread (page 115 of the book). For this monumental undertaking, I chose the Simply Deep Tarot by Chanel Bayless, with artwork by James Battersby (Schiffer Publishing). You can read my review of Simply Deep HERE.

I am not a big fan of gi-normous spreads like this, simply because I feel they provide an "information overload" that does more to confuse me than to help me. However, I really did want to give this one a go. Also, one reason I do not typically do readings about myself on this blog is that I have no desire to share intimate details of my life with the world-wide web. I hope I will be forgiven for not "spilling my guts" below.

This Past Life Spread uses only the Aces and Majors.  It is based on a "Table of Thrones":
Throne I - Destiny and Early Childhood
Throne II - Career
Throne III - Love and Marriage
Throne IV - Psyche (Past Lives)

It appears that only Throne IV is about Past Lives, so I'm not sure why the spread as a whole is called a "Past Lives" spread.

For each Throne, I dealt an Ace. Then I dealt Majors into various positions under each Ace, as instructed by Konraad's book. Konraad provides an interpretation for each of the Aces, so I will share that information below (followed by Konraad's name). After each card, I jotted a few keywords provided by Chanel Bayless in the LWB for Simply Deep. My comments follow that.

Throne I - Destiny and Early Childhood (first 30 years or so)
ACE OF WANDS = Work and Responsibility (Konraad)
Hierophant: "Profound religious, ethical, or moral significance"
Lovers: "Choose between falling into someone and losing your 'self' or remaining separate"
High Priestess: "Energy is working behind the veil"
Temperance: "Moderation, Balance, Equilibrium"
Tower: "Everything you knew as true before now is being tested by the Universe"

I definitely see the relevance of each of these cards to the "first 30 years or so" of my life. Temperance is the card associated with my Sun sign, Sagittarius. When I was born, I had a life-threatening health situation that naturally carried religious or spiritual significance for my family (Hierophant). I know that many prayers went up from my ardent Baptist, Lutheran, and Catholic family members, and there were probably even some attempts to "bargain with God." I believe my recovery was at least in part due to energy "working behind the veil" -- and the talents of an excellent surgeon "in front of the veil." I married at age 20 and had a Tower experience at age 33, in which I realized that I had indeed lost myself in the marriage, and that what I believed for years was simply no longer true for me. The "work and responsibility" (Ace of Wands) mentioned by Konraad probably refers to my lifelong tendency to be "responsible" and to "work hard" in every area of my life. With Virgo rising and my Moon in Taurus, that tendency is not surprising.

Throne II - Career
ACE OF COINS = Great Power (Konraad)
Sun: "You are your own individual with many layers of creative radiance to spread in this world."
Hermit: "You are being asked to take a deeper look into your psyche."
Fool: "Chase the sun! Have faith that you will succeed at all costs."
World: "Each time you reach another phase of completion, another root firmly plants in the ground to support your core."

Wow. This is pretty awesomely accurate. In a nutshell, I worked many different jobs to earn a living before I finally felt able to single-mindedly pursue a career as a writer, which was really the only career I ever wanted to have. I admit that I can't really call writing a career because I have never made enough money at it to support myself financially. However, I have achieved much of what I hoped to achieve as a writer, and that is what matters most to me. I now not only write but design and make jewelry, a creative effort that I never imagined myself pursuing. My Tarot and Astrology is a third "career" that engages my inner Self and creative energy in wonderful ways.

Throne III - Love and Marriage
= Joy (Konraad)
Devil: "Temptation. Addiction. Lust."
Emperor: "Supervise. Discipline. Boundaries."
Chariot: "Decision. Crossroads. Freewill."
Hanged Man: "taking a wait and see approach... seeing things from different angles"
Empress: "Respect. Creation. Beauty."

Well, it's interesting that my first husband was a Capricorn (the sign associated with the Devil card). Putting that aside, let's just say I know exactly what the Devil means in this position. And how amusing that both the Emperor and the Empress appear under Throne III (Love and Marriage). I do have a very traditional view of marriage in some ways, although I have never bought into the "obey" part of "love, honor, and obey." It is interesting that the Chariot and Hanged Man separate the Emperor and Empress, which makes a lot of sense to me with respect to my experiences with love and marriage.

Throne IV - Psyche (Past Lives)

= Great Power (Konraad)
Strength: "Personal Power. Control. Confidence."
Moon: "You don't know what's going on behind the scenes, it's all an illusion. There are secrets being kept from you."
Death: "You are emerging as a re-birthed soul."
Wheel of Fortune: "Fortune. Cycle. Destiny."
Judgment: "In order to move forward from this place, it is time to reflect on all that has happened, and be prepared to forgive both yourself and others."
Star: "Your skills, talents, and inner beauty spread the essence of your spirit through everything you touch."
Justice: "There are consequences, whether good or bad, for your behaviors. Have you learned the lessons?"
Magician: "Gather all your tools and knowledge together in order to manifest your will."

In the sample reading provided by Konraad in his book, his client tells him she thinks that she has a Past Life connection to czarist Russia around the turn of the century and during the years before the revolution -- specifically, she thinks she may have been one of the daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra. Konraad proceeds to explain to her how all of the cards he has drawn for her under Throne IV could easily refer to Rasputin, who would have played a significant role in her life. After doing a follow-up spread, he concludes that the Tarot does not choose to reveal whether this woman was a daughter of the czar or Rasputin. He explains that the cards do not "always tell us what we want to hear, but rather, what is best for us to know for the development of our soul." He then proceeds to interpret the cards that appeared in this follow-up reading.

Having read this transcription, I was prepared for the fact that the cards might not give me a name or details about someone I was in a Past Life. Interestingly, like Konraad's client, I have always felt a connection to Russia. I majored in Russian in college. I have never gone to Russia (a trip during my college years was cancelled), but I would like to. I love Russian music, literature, and culture. So perhaps that suggests a Past Life in Russia? Let's see if my cards reference this at all.

We begin with Strength -- Leo, Fire, gentle rather than forceful control, especially over one's own base desires and ego. This is one of my favorite cards in most decks, mostly because it almost always incorporates an animal and shows a human-animal bond. I am a major cat lover. I wrote a children's book about cats. So I love seeing the woman on this card sitting casually on a lion's back. I wonder how literally I should take this? Did I have a strong rapport with actual "beasts" in a Past Life?

Next is the Moon -- Cancer, Water -- another of my favorite cards in most decks. Why is that, I wonder? The Moon is usually a reference to illusion and deception, not things that a "normal" person would be attracted to. Perhaps my attraction is due to recognition. Maybe I identify with the card because of who I was or what I did in a Past Life. I feel a kinship with the Moon. In many Tarot decks, there are animals on this card as well. Often a wolf is included. I also wrote a children's book about wolves.

Death -- Scorpio, Water -- is next, suggesting a major transformation in a Past Life, significant changes and shedding of old habits and people. As Chanel Bayless writes, I emerge "as a re-birthed soul."

The Wheel of Fortune -- Jupiter, Fire -- strikes me as a possible reference to the cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth we experience continually across our Past Lives or during our current life. It makes sense that this would follow Death. The Wheel turns.

Judgment -- Fire -- suggests an evaluation or assessment -- perhaps my own evaluation of my own life. I get a sense that this is also interwoven with Death and the Wheel, as part of a process of evolving from one stage or life into another. Is it perhaps true that we have some role in deciding who or what we will be in each life?

With the Star -- Aquarius, Air -- I feel myself entering a new cycle or new life as a brilliant, optimistic being.

Justice -- Libra, Air -- suggests to me that I entered this subsequent Past Life with an understanding of the responsibility I must take for my actions. Perhaps I am being given a chance to remedy a defect in that area from the previous life.

Finally, we arrive at the Magician -- Mercury, Air. In this Past Life, I seem to be ready to manifest or project the energy to which I have access. I need to use the tools with care and respect for myself and others.

I get a strong sense that these cards are talking about two different Past Lives. I see the first Past Life as being represented by Strength and the Moon -- a feminine energy that could be saying I was a female. I get a sense of a somewhat primitive energy here but also a powerful connection between conscious and unconscious mind.

I see Death, the Wheel, and Judgment as representing the transition to a second Past Life.

The second Past Life is represented by the Star, Justice, and the Magician.

But what do these cards tell me about who or where I might have been during a Past Life?

Past Life #1
Astrological associations (as per the Golden Dawn) and countries associated with those signs:
Leo (Strength): France, Italy, Romania
Cancer (Moon): Scotland, Holland, New Zealand

I can either choose to focus on Europe (because most of the countries are there) or on New Zealand, as the one "odd" country of the bunch. Food for thought. Interestingly, I have long felt drawn to Scotland. I love bagpipe music and my two visits there have been like visiting a "familiar place."

I also want to note that my husband's ancestors came from Italy and Romania. Now, I know this reading is about me, not my husband, but it intrigues me that those two countries (out of all the possibilities) are showing up here.

Past Life #2
Astrological associations (as per the Golden Dawn) and countries associated with those signs:
Aquarius (Star): Russia, Sweden, Ethiopia
Justice - not associated with any sign
Magician - not associated with any sign

Aha, there's Russia! Of course Sweden and Ethiopia are also possibilities...

Whether or not we can rely on this astrological method, I find it intriguing that Scotland and Russia -- two countries I have long felt connected to -- both made an appearance.

And that, my friend is my Past Lives reading. I apologize for such a long post, but perhaps you have found it useful or interesting!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

REVIEW: Classic Tarot Spreads


Classic Tarot Spreads
by Sandor Konraad
Whitford Press (Division of Schiffer Publishing)
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN-10: 0914918648 / ISBN-13: 978-0914918646
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.5 inches

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I can see where Sandor Konraad's Schedule for Learning the Tarot in Thirty Days would be a major attraction to anyone who wants to read the cards. I did not try the system Konraad presents because, well, I already read the cards. However, his method is systematic and organized, and might work pretty well for a lot of people.

Konraad recommends decks with unillustrated pips for beginners. I'm not sure I can agree with that advice. Certainly a non-illustrated deck can simplify the learning process, but in some ways (or for some people), I think it's more difficult to read with such a deck.

Konraad's writing style is straightforward and easy to understand. I know that I will often refer to the Table of Root Number Associations and the Summary of Meanings in Divination included in the book. I appreciate the fact that after he gives detailed instructions on how to handle the cards ("seal" the pack by placing benevolent cards at the top and bottom of the deck; wrap them in purple silk or velvet; place them in a wooden box, etc.), he writes: "It is difficult to say exactly how important the above is regarding the effectiveness of the pack in a reading but what is of considerable importance is the reader's attitude." Konraad views compliance with Tarot traditions to be an indication of the reader's "seriousness and respect for the Tarot." Obviously he is entitled to his opinion, but my respect for the cards is enormous even though I choose not to tie myself to rituals or traditions.

The one-page descriptions/interpretations provided for each Major Arcana card are well worth reading. Konraad discusses some of the symbols on each card, astrological associations, and associations he makes with Jungian and Freudian psychology. As I looked at the black-and-white illustrations, I found myself (yet again) drawn to the Oswald Wirth deck, which I do not yet own. Hmmmm.....

Moving on! Just so you'll know, I'm not a big fan of HUGE spreads. The times I have used them, I got such "information overload" that I was forced to lie down with a cold pack on my head (okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point). An exception would be a zodiac spread, where each card represents one of the 12 houses of the zodiac. In that case, it's easier for me to see which information applies to which area of life.

In Classic Tarot Spreads, Sandor Konraad presents 22 spreads, most of which involve 12 or more cards. If you dislike large spreads, this may not be the right book for you. I confess that I will probably never use a lot of these spreads -- although I am going to try the Past Lives Spread. I hope to share my reading on this blog. Stay tuned for that.


Classic Tarot Spreads presents one of the most comprehensive collections of card spreads available in one book. It includes 22 classic spreads that provide a key to the history, mythology and metaphysical meanings of the cards. The book not only covers the practice and ritual of card reading, it treats the Tarot deck as a magical tool and counseling medium that can be used to resolve basic life issues. Sandor Konraad includes spreads for opening a reading - answering questions about health, love, marriage and money - as well as spreads for ending a reading.


According to the introduction to this book -- "Confessions of a Reluctant Tarot Reader" -- Sandor Konraad spent much of his life engrossed in parapsychology, not Tarot. He was staying at a guest home in New England, preparing a course in parapsychology, when he picked up a Tarot deck and book at a local shop. His purpose was simply to familiarize himself with the imagery on the cards. He ended up doing a reading for a woman who insisted he read for her, even though he warned her that he was a "total neophyte." His fascination with the cards grew from that experience, and the rest is history.

Konraad has studied extensively with the renowned Rolla Nordic. He holds a B.A. from Cornell and has done graduate work at New York University and the New School for Social Research. In addition to Classic Tarot Spreads, Konraad is the author of Numerology: Key to the Tarot.


This 160-page paperback book measures 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.5 inches. It is not a new book, having been copyrighted in 1985 by Sandor Konraad.

Following a Preface and the above-mentioned Introduction, the book is divided into four parts:
  • Exploring Inner Space: Reading and Interpreting the Cards in Divination
  • Questions of Concern Spreads
  • Life Reading Spreads
  • Transcriptions of Tarot Readings

Part One contains:
  • Schedule for Learning the Tarot in Thirty Days
  • Basic Patterns (summarizing Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, Court Cards, and Numerical Correspondences)
  • Interpretations related to cards numbered 1, 2, 3, and so forth (Kings=11, Queens=12, Knights=13, Pages=14)
  • Summary of Meanings in Divination for Major and Minor Arcana (by number)
  • Detailed descriptions and interpretations of the Major Arcana cards

Part Two addresses:
  • Opening a Reading
  • Using a Significator
  • Getting the Big Picture
  • Answering Questions Concerning Health
  • Finding Answers to a Difficult Question
  • Looking at the Year Ahead
  • Ending a Reading

The smallest spread in Part Two uses seven cards; the largest uses 49.

In Part Three we are given spreads related to "Life Readings" -- readings that are "less concerned with immediate questions and more questioning with regard to ultimate concerns." Like the spreads in Part Two, the spreads in Part Three are quite large. The smallest uses seven cards; the largest uses 50.

Part Four consists of transcriptions of four readings done for one client, four readings done for a second client, and three readings done for a third client.


Although the cards shown on the cover of the book are from the Aquarian Tarot (Morgan  Press), Konraad bases his descriptions of the Majors on cards from the Oswald Wirth deck (U.S. Games Systems). The Majors section is therefore illustrated with black-and-white images of the Wirth cards.

For the type of reading presented in Part Three, Konraad suggests that a deck with illustrated pips, such as the Rider-Waite  or Morgan-Greer (U.S. Games Systems), "might prove more evocative."

Even though Konraad gives us a lot of detailed information to learn, he also reminds us that when reading the cards, we should trust our instincts: "Just say the first thing that comes to mind. . . Do not hold back what intuitively comes to you."