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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Journey Through My Decks: 10 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 TEN OF SWORDS from  Tarot of the Origins (Sergio Toppi /  LoScarabeo).

Tarot of the Origins (LoScarabeo)

In the four suits are as follows:
  • The Soul suit (blue) - refers to the traditional Chalices (Cups) suit
  • The Jewels suit (yellow) - refers to the traditional Pentacles suit
  • The Nature suit (green) - refers to the traditional Wands suit
  • The Blood suit (red) - refers to the traditional Swords suit

In the little white book (LWB) that comes with the deck, Pietro Alligo and Manfredi Toraldo write:
"The Blood suit was defined in place of Swords as the last suit, developing the meaning of energy, movement, and in some cases, aggressiveness and representing every action tied to survival: hunt, war, etc." The Ten of Blood is called "Environment of Blood." The LWB describes the image on the card as "a piece of meat cooking on the fire and a man seemingly self-satisfied for the meal which he is about to prepare."
The keyword provided for this card in the LWB is Satisfaction -- which could be seen as the opposite of the meaning given to the Ten of Swords in Book T*: Ruin.

Thoth Tarot (U.S. Games)

In his Pictorial Key to the Tarot  (WeiserBooks) A.E. Waite allows that the Ten of Swords reversed can suggest "advantage, profit, success, favour" then hastens to add "but all of them transient." Bummer.

Rider Tarot (U.S. Games)

For the moment, however, let's dwell on the obvious satisfaction and joy we see in the face of the man on the Tarot of the Origins card. He seems to be very much "in the moment," pleased that he has made it through another day and that he knows where his next meal is coming from. That's all that matters to him right now.

* 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.

About the deck: Llewellyn, the publisher that distributes Tarot of the Origins, describes it as "the perfect expression of raw, primal archetypal conditions while maintaining the complexity of the modern human experience. . . . allowing the reader to reconnect with humankind's shared spiritual origins."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Life Lesson Spread from Helen!

It is my pleasure to welcome an exceptional Tarot reader and dear friend, Helen Howell, as a guest blogger today on Tarot Notes.

Some time ago Helen shared a spread on this blog called _Spirit Message Reading_, which examined something that one's guides wanted to get across right now. The spread she shares today takes that idea a little further in that it asks what is the one lesson that they feel we should learn in this life.

And now... here's Helen!

Life Lesson Spread

The Layout

Hello everyone! Helen here.

The Positional Definitions are:
1: What's the one lesson in this life that my spirit guide/s want me to learn?
2: Why do they need me to learn this?
3: How will they help me to achieve this?
4: How will I recognise the signs from them?
5: What will be the outcome of completing this task?

I'll take this spread for a run and show you it working - shuffling up my Joie de Vivre Tarot (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Joie de Vivre Tarot
1: What's the one lesson in this life that my guide/s want me to learn?
Five of Swords

From the image of this card, and it's quite different from the traditional RWS image, the message I am getting about the one lesson I need to learn in this life is that life is not a battle, and that there is no need to prove myself in any way. It seems to say all this does is isolate one from another. I thought I had a pretty good handle on this, but the ego is a tricksy thing and if allowed will show itself. I understand this and the temptation when in a group to shine along with the rest. I guess I must still work on this one.

Joie de Vivre Tarot
2: Why do they need me to learn this?
Three of Swords

They need me to learn this lesson, so that I do not bring unhappiness upon myself and that I can instead focus on things that really are important. The ego can dull one's view and when not focusing on it you are able to see things in a different light.

3: How will they help me to achieve this?
Four of Swords

They will guide me in meditations that will allow me to gain a better perspective on my life and my achievements. If I take the time to be quiet and still they will help me to heal from things in my past that make me feel I should prove myself and I will emerge with a different focus.

Joie de Vivre Tarot
4: How will I recognise any signs from them?
Two of Wands

All I have to do is trust my intuition. It will tune into any messages they want me to receive and help me take the next best step in my journey and growth. By staying in harmony with my thoughts, feelings and higher self, I will be able to create with their help a life that offers me more benefit from a spiritual point of view and an emotional one.

Joie de Vivre Tarot
5: What will be the outcome of completing this task?
Three of Cups

Harmony will be fully restored, and I will achieve what they desire for me, which is a balance between mind, body and soul. This in turn will improve not just my life as it is, but also my relationships with those around me.

Putting this all together it seems that the life lesson I need to learn is to be content to be who I am, and release all desire to prove myself, because in the end this is not important to my spiritual journey. They will assist me through meditation and I should trust my intuition to guide me and translate the messages they send. Once I have completely overcome any desire to prove myself or compete in anyway, I will have achieved the balance required that will enhance my time on this earth, not just spiritually but physically too.

You'll notice that in this set of cards there are no Majors, and so that tells me that this is something I am making progress with but still need to pay attention to in my everyday life. Also the majority of cards are swords and this relates to my thinking. So the change has to come in the way I think about things.

Thanks to my spiritual guide/s for reminding me of this worthy lesson that I embarked on only a couple of years ago - obviously I still have a way to go.

If you try the spread, do come back and tell Zanna and me how it worked for you.

~ Helen Howell

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Deck Test: Oswald Wirth Tarot

Awhile back I developed a _Deck Test_ -- a 3-card reading (partly in fun) for insight into how well I can expect to work with a new deck.  One of my recent acquisitions is the esteemed Oswald Wirth Tarot (U.S. Games Systems). Let's see what the potential is for our partnership.

Here is the spread:

(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

Results for the Oswald Wirth:

Not too bad! It appears I already have a connection to this deck that could very well grow with time.

(2) REINE DE DENIERS (Queen of Coins)
Patience, commitment, determination, taking a practical approach. With a strong Earth influence in my birth chart, I identify with this intelligent and thoughtful Queen. Cultivating her most positive qualities will help me work even better with this deck than I already do.

(3) TRUMP 17 - LES ETOILES (The Stars)
Ah, excellent. It is "very likely" that I will be able to do amazing, awesome, astonishingly accurate readings with this deck. :D

I like the way down-to-earth, practical energy blends with wishes and dreams in these three cards. I sense a very nurturing, generous spirit that will help me read with compassion and attention to detail when using this deck.

Monday, November 19, 2012

REVIEW: Sacred Sites Tarot


Sacred Sites Tarot
Concept by Massimiliano Filadoro
Artwork by Federico Penco
78 cards
Lo Scarabeo / Llewellyn Publications / 2012
Art Tarot collection edited by Pietro Alligo
ISBN 10: 0738735000
ISBN 13: 978-0738735009

_About My Reviews_

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I really like the international flavor of this deck, which includes sacred sites, people, and mythical characters from a huge number of cultures. Although the theme is "sites," I appreciate that artist Federico Penco includes people in most of the paintings, helping us relate to the cards personally. Even if I were not going to try to read with this deck, I would enjoy studying the images and "visiting" each site via the descriptions in the instruction booklet.

The fact that the cards do not have titles might be unappealing to some, especially those who are just beginning to learn tarot. I would not recommend this deck for beginners who want to learn the "traditional" Tarot card symbols, imagery, and interpretations. However, the deck could certainly be used by someone who prefers to read through intuition alone.

You can watch a video of an interview with Massimiliano Filadoro (concept) and Federico Penco (artwork) at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daykj5eEy9E&feature=plcp


"From Stonehenge to the Egyptian Pyramids to the Taj Mahal, the world is filled with holy structures and ancient places shimmering with mystical energy. Recognized over the centuries for their mysterious connection to the Divine, the power of these revered sites is still felt today. This utterly unique tarot offers a rare opportunity to connect with the age-old wisdom of temples, shrines, and sacred places across five continents."

  • Theme: Sacred Sites ranging from "the most remote past to modern times"
  • Number of Cards: 78
  • Major Arcana: 0 (The Fool / Mount Graham) - 21 (The World / Shambhala)
  • Justice is 8; Strength is 11
  • Majors are numbered in the upper left and lower right corner, using Roman numerals, but do not bear titles
  • Court Cards: Knave, Knight, Queen, King
  • Courts have a suit symbol top and center and a title-related symbol bottom center (helmet for Knave, horse for Knight, different types of crowns for Queen and King)
  • Suits: Chalices (Places of Water), Pentacles (Places of Earth), Wands (Places of Fire), Swords (Places of Air)
  • Pips have a suit symbol top and center and a number bottom center in XXXX style; the Aces bear the number "1" instead of the word "Ace"
  • Little White Book (LWB) contains Introduction and 10 pages in English, with translations of those pages into Italian, Spanish, French, and German


Although the deck is structured traditionally, it is not a Rider-Waite "clone." The imagery is culture-specific, but those familiar with the RWS deck will understand why a few of the sites and characters were chosen for specific cards.

For example, the idea of sacrifice connected with The Hanged Man, works well with the choice of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for Trump 12. Krakatoa, which erupted violently in 1883, seems an appropriate choice for Trump 16, The Tower. On the Judgement card, a huge angel literally blows down the walls of Jericho with her horn. On Strength, a woman poses next to a sculpture of a lion. The Chariot depicts a man sitting on a wagon at a sanctuary.

The card faces have light blue borders. You will not be able to trim these borders without losing the card numbers, suit symbols, and Court Card symbols. However, I find the borders to be unobtrusive.

On the faces of the Majors an image of the world peeks up from behind the upper right corner and lower left corner of the main image. Card backs are light blue with a slightly darker blue design and an image of the world in the center.

The cards measure 2.7 (w) x 4.9 inches, and are printed on average weight stock.


Federico Penco chose watercolors for the artwork in this deck. He felt this allowed him to show real places with actual details, while conveying the mystical or exotic nature of many of these sites. The cards have a high level of detail, which makes them fascinating to study.

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, November 8, 2012

4 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
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Four of Swords is linked with the placement of Jupiter (luck, expansion, optimism, generosity) in Libra (a Cardinal Air sign known for being peaceable, artistic, and socially adept).

Crowley titles the card "Truce" and notes "the card proclaims the idea of authority in the intellectual world. It is the establishment of dogma, and law concerning it. It represents a refuge from mental chaos, chosen in an arbitrary manner. It argues for convention." Crowley also writes: "Minds too indolent or too cowardly to think out their own problems hail joyfully this policy of appeasement."

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "Faith/hope (Jupiter) for peace and justice (Libra)." 

Whispering Tarot
The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Four of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Jupiter/Libra. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "Rest, retreat, reconsideration of a matter." Well-dignified, the Four of Swords may suggest "Recuperation after an illness or injury." Ill-dignified: "May be impatience, or a rash need to take action of some sort."

One World Tarot
One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Four of Swords with the third subdivision of Gemini, along with its natural ruler, Mercury, and subruler, the Sun. She writes: "The creative powers of the Sun are added in abundance to the literary and talented Gemini."

Mandala Astrological Tarot
The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Four of Swords with the energy of Mercury (planet of the mind and communication) in Libra. Mann calls Swords Two, Three, and Four "The Winds of Libra," and links the Four of Swords with the period between October 13 and October 22. Yellow is the color associated with Mercury and green is associated with Libra on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Four of Swords: "Creative thinking within already existing patterns often avoids unpleasant but critical issues." Reversed: "A lack of tact and a tendency to overintellectualize."

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

_David Thornton_  associates the Four of Swords with the placement of the planet Mercury 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 Four of Swords is: "Creative thinking within set limits. A well developed sense of justice. An ability to see both sides of an issue."

Universal Waite Tarot
_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 Four signifies Incentive and Security (Tarot Dynamics) or "Belonging and Security" (Tarot Dynamics Unleashed). The key word for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Incentive and Security (or Belonging and Security) for the Four of Swords.

In astrology the Fourth House, ruled by the Moon, is commonly known as the House of Home and Family (among other things). The Moon represents emotions. The sign associated with the Fourth House is Cancer. However, Cook uses the third decan of Libra for the Four of Swords.

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

Just when we think we are safe with an "Air" association for the Four of Swords, we read that Thierens associates the Four of Swords with "The element Earth on the Fourth house." He writes: "The element of Earth on the Fourth house, house of the home and the sign Cancer . . . Solitude, repose, retreat, retiring from the world. . . gathering, collecting, taking home one's savings or impressions, meditation, economy, avarice, precaution, testament, and the place occupied at the end of life."

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

In summary, for the Four of Swords we have:
  • Crowley and Hazel with a Jupiter/Libra association
  • Love with Gemini/Mercury/Sun
  • Mann with Mercury/Libra
  • Thornton with Mercury/7th House (ruled by Libra)
  • Cook with Libra
  • Thierens with Earth/4th House (ruled by Cancer)

With the exception of Thierens, the common factor in all of these is the element Air, whether represented by Gemini or Libra. Planet-wise we have our choice of Jupiter, Mercury, or the Sun. 

I do like the incorporation of Mercury and/or Gemini into the interpretation of the Four of Swords. Mercury, planet of the mind, rules Gemini. The image on this card in traditional RWS-based decks certainly suggests deep thought and contemplation. That image also seems appropriate for a Libra association, with Libra being the sign of harmony and peace. Jupiter, to me, implies a beneficent influence for the most part. However, the association of Jupiter with "excess" could caution us to avoid taking retreat or repose too far, perhaps because we fear confrontation or "getting on with" something we are reluctant to do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Take a Number: NINE!

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!

Tarot Cards: The Hermit, Nines of all suits


Writing about the occult meaning of numbers, Paul Foster Case gives the following keywords for Nine: "completion, attainment, fulfilment, the goal of endeavor, the end of a cycle of activity. . . yet. . . completion is not absolute cessation. The end of one cycle is the beginning of another." Case adds that "In Qabalah, 9 is called Basis or Foundation, and corresponds to the mode of consciousness named Pure or Clear Intelligence, because the completion of any process is the pure, clear, unadulterated expression of the intention or idea which initiated that process." (The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Macoy Publishing Company)
Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (U.S. Games)

Gary Meister, CTM offers the key phrase "End Of A Cycle Of Life" for the number Nine. He writes: "Numerologically, life is lived in a series of cycles consisting of nine levels. . . They are actually a series of cyclical spirals. When we complete one cycle, we are a little higher than we started -- usually. . . In a reading, Nine indicates the completion of a cycle in the area of life suggested by the Element involved. As an example, the Nine of Swords could indicate that one is completing a cycle of learning."

In his book Numerology: Key to the Tarot (Whitford Press), Sandor Konraad gives the Keywords "emotionally charged, humanitarian, universal" for the number Nine. He writes: "In the beginning the 1 entered the world stage as an individual concerned only with self and ego. The 9 has now grown in wisdom and is concerned with all of humanity."

Quoting from Numerology and The Divine Triangle by Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker (Whitford Press): "9 is selflessness and compassion. . . Keywords: love, compassion, patience, universality, tolerance, selfless service, endings."

The web site Numberquest.com provides the following key words for the number Nine: "Humanitarian, compassionate, romantic, selfless, generous, philanthropic, loving, wisdom, idealist, artistic, spiritual healer, all allowing, other worldly, blending."

In Anna Burroughs Cook's Tarot Dynamics system, Subject Card 9 represents understanding. She notes: "Understanding refers to your willingness to expand your horizons. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. . . Like the 9th House in Astrology and Card 9 the Hermit, the ninth subject card also tests or rewards your beliefs, values and understanding. . . They can assist you in tying up whatever loose ends could be impeding your progress as well as any you've been avoiding." (Tarot Dynamics Unleashed / Kima Global Publishers)


Konraad views The Hermit as: "The 'Wilderness Card' -- a time of searching or spiritual renewal. A person who is fearful and cautious." Reversed, the card can suggest "Rashness. Lack of control."

For Javane and Bunker, Key 9 is "a symbol of ageless wisdom, standing on the mountain of attainment. . . He has achieved mastery."

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (U.S. Games)

Anna Cook writes that the Personal Strength of Key Nine is Logic; the Personal Weakness is Irrationality. Her keywords for The Hermit are Karmic / Understanding.

My keywords for the Number Nine are basis for completion, endings, preparation (for new cycle), growth through experience, perfection, integration, and fruition.

I hope you enjoy these quotations I found that include the number Nine:

“There are nine requisites for contented living: HEALTH enough to make work a pleasure; WEALTH enough to support your needs; STRENGTH enough to battle with difficulties and forsake them; GRACE enough to confess your sins and overcome them; PATIENCE enough to toil until some good is accomplished; CHARITY enough to see some good in your neighbor; LOVE enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others; FAITH enough to make real the things of God; HOPE enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist

“Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.” ~ George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist; 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature

“The cat has nine lives: three for playing, three for straying, three for staying.” ~ Proverb

“There are nine orders of angels, to wit, angels, archangels, virtues, powers, principalities, dominations, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim.” ~ Billy Graham (1918-), American evangelist