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Friday, December 26, 2014

Ghosts of Christmas: A Reading

As of December 25, 2014, I am the happy owner of the _Ghost Tarot_, with artwork by Davide Corsi (published by Lo Scarabeo). I was introduced to this deck by one of my Tarot students. As part of an assignment, she discussed her impressions of several cards, and I quickly decided I wanted to work with this deck. A little hint to Santa (in this case, my daughter) and here we are!

A thought came to me (which I’m sure has come to other people, so please don’t credit me with an original idea or accuse me of stealing yours) of drawing three cards to represent (1) the Ghost of Christmas Past, (2) the Ghost of Christmas Present, and (3) the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The positions are based, of course, on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Let’s see what messages the ghosts have for me…

(1) the Ghost of Christmas Past

The THREE OF PENTACLES speaks: “I am linked with the element Earth and the nature of material things. Roots. Security. Stability. A secure foundation was laid in the past  -- by others and by yourself -- on which you were able to build.”

My response: I know that everything starts small, but with dedication and sacrifice “on our part and by those who love us” (as it says in the LWB) there will be growth, expansion, and completion

(2) the Ghost of Christmas Present

The FOUR OF CHALICES speaks: “I am linked with the element of Water and to human emotions. Memories made today contribute to new emotions. Not all of this is happiness and light. Yet it is most important that you learn to see the hope offered to you, even if it seems to arrive from nowhere.”

My response: I know that at any given time, even at Christmas, it is all too easy to fixate on what feels wrong or sad in life. The key is not to get so bogged down emotionally that I cannot or will not look up and see the chalice of happiness and love that is offered to me.”

(3) the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

THE EMPRESS speaks: “I bring authority tempered by humility and grace, power infused with love and compassion. As The Empress, you must blend these qualities, being willing to both exert your influence and to step back and sacrifice for the greater good when necessary.”

My response: This is a high goal indeed, but one to which I can aspire.  I see The Empress as a card of fertility and of giving birth to new ideas, stories, and songs. Her importance as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come cannot be overstated. The possiblities and potential are there. It is up to me to bring them to fruition.

Wishing everyone many memorable blessings during this holiday season!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Old English Tarot: 6 of Batons

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
6 of Batons
by Helen Howell

The Six of Batons (Wands in more traditional decks) really does speak to me about progress. This card, like its more traditional counterpart the Rider Waite, also talks of victory, fulfilment along with recognition for past achievements.

In the Rider Waite we see the figure riding his horse and enjoying the acknowledgement for his past achievements. The horse is moving, symbolising that one must keep moving onto the next challenge if they are to remain successful. This whole image reflects the idea of victory and success.

The Old English Tarot’s depiction at first glance doesn’t speak as the Rider Waite one does of victory or the acknowledgement gained, as seen in the laurel wreath the rider wears. But what we do see is a ploughed field that is burgeoning with produce. A woman tosses feed to a hen and her chicks.

 So what does this image represent for us that fits in with suit of Batons/Wands and its energy of creative action? The fertile field along with its crop shows the success she has achieved. While the hen and the chicks could represent, in the form of the chicks, the next challenge. This could be the new potential that exists.

Both images show us the need to keep moving, the horse in the Rider Waite and the woman still working in the Old English. Although the Rider Waite card does have a difference, in that its rider on horseback seems to have time to enjoy a moment or two of acclaim. The woman in The Old English suggests to me that there is no time to sit back and enjoy what has already been achieved if the potential of one’s goals is to be reached. For her, the fertile field and its crop is her acknowledgement, but the card does appear to emphasise that one must keep working towards one’s outcome.

This idea of keeping moving fits in very well with the Wands suit, as it is a suit of fire and fire is never standing still, even if it burns in a fireplace. The field with the crops ready to harvest indicates, I feel, that one cycle has now been fulfilled and the hen with the chicks indicate the potential of the next one.

I really like this card’s imagery as it shows us that what has been achieved is worthy of note but that there is always more to achieve.

The LWB says:
Triumph, gain, provision, advancement, results of efforts.
Reversed: Indefinite delay, fear, apprehension.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Journey Through My Decks: 10 of Pentacles (Disks)

The Haindl Tarot
Ten of Stones

"Hermann Haindl has created a sacred Tarot, one which reaches back to 
ancient spiritual traditions of many cultures. 
The Haindl Tarot ... opens our minds. It leads us to see the world
 in a new way (or perhaps a very old way), 
as a vessel filled with spiritual power and truth."
~ Rachel Pollack ~

My study of this complex deck is ongoing, aided by Rachel Pollack's two volumes of commentary. My goal here is simply to provide what insights I have been able to gather on this card to date. The suit of Stones is associated with North America (west); Wands are associated with India (east); Cups are associated with the Celtic countries (north); and Swords are associated with Egypt (south).

Stones in general deal with work and nature. Indeed, the Stone is the only suit symbol in the deck that comes from nature (Wands, Cups, and Swords are made by human beings). Associated with the element Earth, the suit of Stones is considered "feminine" yet Pollack tells us that Stones (along with Swords) have a "dark" or "yang" quality (as opposed to Cups and Wands, which are seen as "light" or "yin.")

In her Introduction to her book on the Minor Arcana of The Haindl Tarot, Pollack notes that in many Tarot decks, the Minors refer to aspects of everyday life. The Haindl deck follows this pattern, but the Minor Arcana cards are also considered "communal." We are looking at the realm of daily life, work, money, and the physical world on a large scale. The suit of Stones teaches us how to create a new foundation for progress in our lives and encourages us to *work* not just for our own personal reasons but for the restoration of the world.

Titled "Richness," The Ten of Stones in this deck features ten stones that form the same pattern as the cups in the Ten of Cups card B titled "Success." In both cases, we are being encouraged to examine what constitutes true "riches" or "success." Pollack tells us that Haindl wanted the Ten of Stones "to go beyond the traditional meaning in order to show the richness of an abundant nature, a sense of both the world and the individual person healthy and alive."

The hexagram on the Ten of Stones reflects the spiritual origins of wealth. It is number 48, which Wing calls "The Source." In addition to culminating the suit of Stones, this card could be seen as the culmination of the entire Haindl deck. A transformation has been completed.  Pollack writes: "In a deep valley water rushes forth, white and foaming, like mountain snow melting in the spring. Above the cleft of rock we see a bright sky."

Pollack tells us that the Ten of Stones "refers to a good life, to health and a sense of solid reality. . . the materialization of the person's hopes and desires." Reversed, the card can suggest that "a potential good development has not yet occurred" or that "material wealth and security are there but the person does not appreciate their value."


The Haindl Tarot. Created by Hermann Haindl. U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
The Haindl Tarot, Volume I: The Major Arcana by Rachel Pollack. Newcastle Publishing, Inc.
The Haindl Tarot, Volume II: The Minor Arcana by Rachel Pollack. Newcastle Publishing, Inc.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Old English Tarot: 6 of Cups

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
6 of cups
by Helen Howell

Now I had to study this card in order to get some sense of the meaning from it, as the Old English doesn’t automatically give out that feeling of nostalgia or memories as does the traditional Rider Waite card. However it does express a sense of happiness in its depiction.

Let’s take a closer look. We have six cups arranged in two sets of three, equally placed one set above the other on the card. Just looking at the cups alone gives me a sense of balance, as though the top set influences the second. What has gone before, now exists in the present. The cups seemed to be in harmony with each other. From this if we think of how the Rider Waite 6 of cups leans towards harmony and the past influencing the future, then we can see this symbolism in the placement of the 6 cups in the Old English.

The figure at the bottom of the card is a woman who looks almost as though she is about to dance while holding two bells. Bells tend to catch our attention and bring us to focus on whatever it is they are calling us to. The sound of bells can be a happy thing, and depending on the bells and their ring or chime, even an uplifting spiritual experience. Perhaps the lady in this image is celebrating because the effort from the past is now paying off. Or maybe she is remembering something that makes her happy.

I think the key to interpreting this card (and it’s only my opinion; you may or may not agree) is the arrangement of the cups, and how one set follows on or repeats from the other. This helps us to see that either something from the past is now influencing the future, or that they are in perfect balance and harmony with each other. Coupled with the figure, this indicates that perhaps something that has been long held and hoped for is now coming to fruition. Of course in a reading the cards that surround it will help you decided how to interpret it.

I admit that the symbolism in this card at first look is not so easy to interpret, but when you apply your knowledge of traditional meanings, you can see how it reflects those.

LWB says:
Memories, nostalgia, longing, past influences.
Reversed: Future, new opportunities.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Chatelaine Spread

The Chatelaine Spread
from the Vintage Wisdom Oracle 
by Victoria Moseley (U.S. Games, Inc.)

As promised, here is a reading with the Vintage Wisdom Oracle using The Chatelaine Spread, which appears on pages 78-79 of the guidebook that accompanies this deck.

To read my review of this deck, click HERE.

Victoria Moseley tells us: “The origins of the term chatelaine date back to Medieval times and referred to the person responsible for carrying the keys to the house. The chain on which the keys hung was also called a chatelaine and during the 18th and 19th centuries evolved into a pin from which all manner of practical household tools were suspended from chains.”

The Positional Definitions and the cards I drew into those positions appear below.

Card 1. The Chatelaine – Foremost issues of the wearer

Such an appropriate card to draw, given that my Sun sign is Sagittarius, the foremost “freedom loving” sign of the zodiac. On the card we see castle walls, symbolizing austerity and containment, against a darkened sky. In the foreground, a dove (symbol of purity) is about to be released from the hand of a young maiden. Birds are well-known living metaphors for freedom of the soul. This card suggests that my foremost issues have something to do with feeling limited, held back, perhaps even victimized. Freedom may seem desirable, but I need to remember that “every freedom carries responsibility” and I need to use it wisely.

Card 2. The Scissors – The most effective way to release unwanted influences

“Surrounded by a field of wildflowers, an exasperated fairy-child stands with her head buried mournfully in her hands.” When I first saw this image, I thought of a child playing hide-and-seek, counting to whatever number was decided upon before being allowed to seek the children who are hidden. It’s only a game, but it does require patience!

My patience tends to grow thin in the face of delays or obstacles that block my chosen path. Is this because I really am waiting an unbearable amount of time? Or is it because our society has conditioned us to expect immediate gratification? Impatience is the “unwanted influence” here, and in my search for Freedom, patience will be my ally.

Card 3. The Magnifying Glass – Hidden areas, which are either buried or in need of confrontation

On this card, “a woman emerges from a bed of roses, symbolizing pleasure and pain. . . This auspicious card speaks of new light on your pathway.” It seems that this “new light” is hidden from me at the moment. Why? I may be tempted to blame others, but perhaps I need to “wake up” and own my part in a situation. Old fears may be buried so deep that I am not even consciously aware of them.

Card 4. The Needle Kit – Your healing strengths to the world

This is one of the images in this deck that strikes me as just plain silly. We are supposedly looking at an exotic dancer holding a “rapturous pose.” I see the woman as artificial and self-conscious, and I have trouble equating her with the beauty of the natural world. However, the card also incorporates wildflowers, seed heads, sky, sea, fire (the sun), and earth. Red poppies loom large in the foreground, symbolizing death, remembrance, and renewal. My deep affinity with Nature could be seen as my “healing strengths to the world,” and it is important that I keep my energies aligned with that.

Card 5. The Notepad – The lesson

This adorable vignette shows two little children dressed in their Sunday best. To many people, the past does seem like a safe haven compared to modern-day realities, and a vintage picture like this really brings that home. Whether it’s 100% accurate or not, our perception of the past is often that it was a kinder, gentler time – innocent and decent – when we trusted each other. This, then, is the lens through which I need to consider my foremost issue: Freedom. How would I have defined Freedom as a child? How can I learn to appreciate the Freedom I do have in a child-like way? How will this change in perception affect feelings of judgment, guilt, or blame towards myself or others?

Card 6. The Key – The wisdom that opens your secret door to new possibilities

Like The Hanged Man in the Tarot, the woman in this card is “caught in a poignant moment of realization.” Butterflies float from her open palm, and tiny seed heads are carried upward on a gentle breeze. The woman is letting go, releasing attachments that no longer serve her purpose. She relinquishes control, opening her heart and mind to a Higher Power. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation and renewal. To open my secret door to new possibilities, I need to “step bravely into the unknown,” embracing change, leaving behind whatever prevents me from becoming what I could become.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

REVIEW: Vintage Wisdom Oracle


Vintage Wisdom Oracle
by Victoria Moseley
ISBN 978-1-57281-781-4
52 cards
Cards and Guidebook
measure 3.75" x 5.5"
Box measures 4" x 5.7"

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

I confess that the art in this deck is not the kind I would normally be drawn to. Having said that, I also confess that I am drawn into many of the images – for example:

  • Protection (a “statuesque warrior goddess stands on the threshold between two worlds. . . Two regal swans, symbolizing the element of light, stand proudly at Protection’s feet.”)
  • Shadow Self (“Night has fallen and a young girl pauses beneath a stone portal, perhaps seeking guidance from the raven above.”)
  • Wisdom (“The last rays of the setting sun fall on this portrayal of mythic Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and her wise protector, the Little Owl.”)

Some of the images, I also have to confess, strike me as just plain silly. It’s a personal thing, I know, and has nothing to do with the quality or talent obviously possessed by the artist.

There is a definite Victorian “feel” to these cards, and those who love that period will certainly notice and enjoy.

The more I wander through this deck, the more I understand its appeal. I am looking forward to doing one of the spreads provided in the guidebook and sharing it here on Tarot Notes! (And/or maybe a deck interview... hmmmm....)


From the artist: “My hope, dear reader, is that the spirit that inspired this project from the start will breathe new light on your pathway, and that the haunting beauty of these iconic muses will speak as profoundly to you as they have to me.”

From the publisher: “Vintage Wisdom Oracle deck presents 52 lavishly illustrated oracle cards infused with the beauty and inspiration of goddesses, divas and muses from bygone eras. Rich in symbolic detail, these nostalgic montages have been artfully crafted from French vintage postcards and sepia family photographs, embellished with delicate flowers and lace. This exquisite gift set includes an 80-page guidebook filled with evocative insights and timeless feminine wisdom, as well as five custom card spreads.”


The cards present such concepts as Abundance, Gratitude, Perception, Surrender, and Wisdom. Keywords are centered at the bottom of the cards in black, in a feminine, easy-to-read script.

The unillustrated guidebook begins with a long Introduction in which Victoria Moseley explains how the idea of creating this deck began to take shape when she was looking at postcards in a shop window. The guidebook presents each card in three or four paragraphs of text, and the entries are arranged alphabetically, beginning with Abundance and ending with Wisdom. The text is beautifully written in prose rich with imagery and depth of meaning.

The guidebook also contains five unique spreads: the Four-Leaf Clover Spread, the Spyglass Spread, the Penny Farthing Spread, the Walled Garden Spread, and the Chatelaine Spread.


The 52 high-quality cards in this deck measure 3.75 by 5.5 inches. They are packaged in a sturdy cardboard lift-top box. The matte finish has a silky feel. Too large to be shuffled like a standard card deck (Tarot or playing card), they require a slower, more deliberate process that is very much in keeping with the quiet, feminine images.

Borders on the front of the cards vary in color from gray to brown to purple. Each image is set against a scrolled ivory background that is primarily visible at the bottom, behind the card titles.

Card backs feature a marvelous close-up of a woman’s face in the center, surrounded by curls and swirls, with flowers and a moth. The rest of the card back is brown with an ornate golden ivory design.


After acquiring the postcards she admired in the shop, Moseley “began experimenting with the images and creating montages using my own watercolor paintings, pressed wildflowers from our local meadow, bits of old lace and embroidery, as well as contemporary digital elements from fellow crafters.” She also included elements from historic painters such as John Waterhouse and Van Gogh. The result is a series of gentle images with an antique Victorian style. Each image contains layers of symbolism that are well worth exploration through meditation.

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.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Old English Tarot: 3 of Coins

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
3 of Coins
by Helen Howell

I really like the illustration that goes with this card. We have a large castle which sits atop a grass mound. It could represent for us a goal or security, perhaps something we aspire to. Leading down from the castle to one side is a ploughed field in which it looks like something has been planted but has not yet fruited -- it reminds me in its layout of a vineyard. This could symbolise for us the potential of abundance. The figure is checking out the progress of one of the plants.

Now this card can be interpreted the same as the Rider Waite one, generally meaning, progress, focus, more work to be done but there is a difference between this card and the more traditional image, and that is it doesn’t speak of collaboration or teamwork, but shows that the individual is responsible for the outcome. It indicates that the results lie in one’s own ability to maintain a focus and effort towards reaching their desires. Both this and the more traditional images do both indicate that great skill and a desire to perfect something exist.

I like the Old English rendition, especially as it brings home that the end result really depends on the effort that the figure is willing to put in without relying on anyone else. It shows like its more traditional brothers, that one is on the way to reaching that goal, but more has yet to be done.

So it seems to me that the one singular difference in this card’s interpretation to other traditional images is that one must rely on their own imagination and skill rather than on a group or team to get things done.

The LWB says:
Great skill, mastery, artistic ability perfection.
Reversed: mediocrity, money problems, poor quality.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

When Are You Most “Yourself?”

I remember a conversation with my brother years ago, after I made a major, life-altering change in my life. He asked, “Are you happy?” I said, “I feel like I can be myself. And that’s really important.”

To one degree or another, I think we all play various “roles” during the course of our life. All of those roles are part of who we are, really, but I think most of us experience times or moments when we are truly relaxed enough to just “be ourselves,” without consciously (or even subconsciously!) thinking about any role we could be playing.

I decided to draw three cards to answer the question: “When am I most ‘myself’?”

For this reading I am throwing caution to the winds and using a new oracle deck (watch for my review in the near future): the Vintage Wisdom Oracle by Victoria Moseley (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) This deck consists of “52 lavishly illustrated cards infused with the beauty and inspiration of goddesses, divas, and etheric muses.”

And the winners are:


On this card, “a tantric goddess sits within an ancient temple of worship. She is filled with the ecstasy of divine union, which permeates the room in a rainbow of hues radiating from her aura.”

“Union suggests the possibility of a new relationship, special friendship, creative project or meditation. The entwining of the divine energy of union seeks authentic expression. The heavenly energy represented by this card could also signify the answer to a prayer.”


On this card, “Isis, giver of life and diviner of magic, is depicted standing motionless in a haunting moonlit river.”

“The Dreams card signifies that now may be time to make a significant decision or to rethink your direction and make some changes, which, however small, could lead to larger things.”


“Portrayed on a fantasy landscape of clouds and falling stars, the mystyerious hand of fate writes scripture into the ether, as if recording the karmic destiny of a soul’s earthly sojourn. . . An angel leans nonchalantly against the clock, awaiting her next assignment. . .”

“The appearance of the Divine Timing card invites you to align with your intuitive nature, while being patient and flexible. . . Be ready for synchronous happenings, unexpected blessings, and sudden endings or beginnings.”

I relate to each of these cards at a deep level, and I have to agree that I am “myself” in situations and circumstances where I can experience the energy and gifts of Union, Dreams, and Divine Timing. In fact, I experience Union with many different spirits and symbolic representations in my Dreams, some of which do reflect a sense of Divine Timing. As a Sagittarius, I am most “myself” in a setting that represents higher thoughts, philosophies, and spirituality.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Old English Tarot: 7 of Cups

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
7 of Cups
by Helen Howell

Now the Old English Tarot’s depiction of the Seven of Cups at first had me wondering how one would interpret it. Unlike the obvious depiction in the Rider Waite and many other modern decks of seven cups all holding different things, the Old English has none of that. We know from, let’s say, the Rider Waite deck that depiction speaks of imagination, or too many choices or even fantasies.

As I look at the Old English card I’m suddenly reminded of the famous dialogue about the “vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace” that appeared in the 1955 movie starring Danny Kaye called The Court Jester. (You can find the dialogue HERE.) It was all about choice.

Here in this depiction we have seven chalices spread evenly across the card. To each side of the middle chalice stands a figure playing an instrument. Each plays something different to the other. They obviously chose their instruments. However, even though there are seven cups for them to choose from, right now they both choose to stand by the same cup. Is that a wise choice I wonder? Are they under some illusion that they can both have the same thing?

I admit that with the visual of this card it’s not so easy to see what it may mean, but I definitely feel that choice is the fundamental meaning. So when it comes down to it, it really doesn’t differ too much from the meanings associated with the Rider Waite card. If the figures are not focused enough to see the reality of their situation and each chooses a cup that will work for them, then perhaps the card tells us that their desires and goals will just remain a fantasy rather than something real.

The LWB says:

Fantasy, out of touch with reality, imagination, foolish whims, illusionary success.
Reversed: Desire, will power, a well-considered choice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

REVIEW: Lojong for the Layperson


Lojong for the Layperson
by Beverly King
self-published / 2014
Cards: 3.5''×5.75"
Booklet: 8.5” by 5.5”

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

First, I really do need to place blame where blame is due. In this case, it falls squarely on the shoulders of Sharyn Mallow Woerz over at _Quirkeries_. Sharyn recently did some daily draws using the Lojong for the Layperson deck, and that’s where I saw it. I loved the cards she shared, along with the slogans and interpretations. Soon I was poorer in one sense, but much richer in another sense!

Anyway, I invite you to visit Beverly King’s _Lojong for the Layperson blog_, and if you find that you do have an interest in Lojong, I recommend this deck. The photographs are lovely and appropriate for the slogans, which are quite thought-provoking and meaningful. I am looking forward to using the deck a lot!


On her blog, Beverly King describes herself as “A student of Earth and all her inhabitants. Walking a spiritual path that has no label.” For about a year, she took photos to go along with her lojong (Buddhist 'mind training') practice. This resulted in 59 pictures for each slogan along with her personal notes on each one. A friend suggested that she turn them into a deck with a Little White Book for those who are interested in this practice.


(from the LWB) “Lojong is a mind training practice in the Buddhist tradition. Brought to Tibet from India by Atisha (982-1054), it was originally a secret teaching given only to a select group. Geshe Chekawa (1102-1176) wanted to open the lojong instructions to other people. As a result, he wrote The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind, based on the slogans of Atisha. Lojong is a way to learn how to see things from a larger, inclusive perspective rather than a self-absorbed one. The seven points of mind training are comprised of fifty-nine slogans. Their purpose is to change the way we think, what we think about, and how we manage our emotions.”

The slogans are grouped into seven categories:
I. The Preliminaries (Slogan 1)
II. The Actual Practice (Slogans 2-10)
III. Transforming Adversity (Slogans 11-16)
IV. Maintaining the Practice (Slogans 17-18)
V. Evaluating the Practice (Slogans 19-22)
VI. Commitments of the Practice (Slogans 23-38)
VII. Guidelines for the Practice (Slogans 39-59)

The LWB is in the form of half-sheets of white paper fastened together in the upper left corner. Beverly King used buttons tied together with elastic to fasten the pages. Printing is black type for the text with blue for headings and green for photo descriptions. At the end, King provides a list of Sources.


The cards were published using printerstudios.com in a 3.5''×5.75" size using their linen card stock. Card numbers are at the top of each card in bold white type and underlined. The cards and LWB are shipped in a sturdy clear 6.5” x 4.5” plastic box with a latch for safekeeping.


Card backs feature are green with a leaf pattern. The photographs are colorful, crisp, and clear, incorporating a variety of textures. It is easy to imagine touching the items shown in the photos – the rough bark of a tree, the prickly blades of grass, smooth stones, silky flower petals, satiny leaves.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Old English Tarot: 2 of Batons

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
Two of Batons 
by Helen Howell


The Old English Two of Batons (Wands in other decks,) is totally different from the  better known image of a figure holding the world, etc. In this image we have two batons that are equal distance apart. The figure below walks in front of two horses that pull a plough. He looks back and holds a stick that waves in the air as though commanding the horses to obey.

Now, particularly in the Rider Waite image of the Two of Wands, we see a man who holds the world and looks out across a river/lake towards the mountains on the other side. From that image we can draw the interpretation of someone who is considering his options, his next move. But in the depiction in the Old English Tarot, it doesn’t give us that sense of contemplating his next move. He is already making it happen.

What we’ve got in this card is someone who is in control and who is ensuring that what he wants gets done. So it indicates a person who might be strong willed or dominating, but also it indicates someone who can and does take control of a situation and makes sure he gets the end results.

It is similar in a sense to the Rider Waite card, as both card images show us the potential of succeeding. Providing the energy is put into the outcome, then the rewards can be reaped.

I would say then from what I can see of the Old English card, that it lies more in getting on and doing it rather than thinking about it. It’s an action card, which of course is typical batons/wands.

In a reading it might suggest that the person needs to harness their confidence and get on with their plans, and not to be afraid of the hard work it may take to achieve their goal but to remember that they are in control. Of course, on the negative side, this image also shows us someone who can and will dominate those around him, whether it be beast or man!

The LWB says:

Ruler, attainment of needs, boldness, dominant personality.
Reversed: Sadness, trouble, loss of faith, unexpected surprise.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading – Part 5

To read Part 1, click HERE. 

To read Part 2, click HERE

To read Part 3, click HERE

To read Part 4, click HERE

In Part 1 of this General Reading, we covered “Overall Focus.” Part 2 was about “Drive, career, or work (Wands).” Part 3 focused on “Communication and understanding (Swords).” Part 4 looked at “Relationships (Cups).”

The last part, Part 5, is about “Physical world, manifestation (Pentacles).” The cards are:

Physical world, manifestation (Pentacles): 9 of Pentacles
energy helping/opposing: The Hermit
advice: 4 of Swords
potential outcome if advice is followed: The Magician

By design, the top card was chosen from the suit of Pentacles, the suit associated with the element Earth, growth, and potential, particularly on the physical plane. This is potential energy that is always moving toward manifestation. The NINE OF PENTACLES came forward to represent the suit for me.

All of the Pentacles cards are given titles that include the word “seed.” The Nine of Pentacles is called “Contemplating a seed.” On the card, a cow grazes in the foreground as Earth elementals cavort on a ridge in the background. The LWB states that even the simplest things can baffle many – yet the earth and her creatures don’t worry about it. So perhaps the message for me here is “Go ahead and contemplate, but don’t worry.” Easier said than done, especially when we consider that the Nine of Pentacles is linked with the sign Virgo by the Golden Dawn. My rising sign is Virgo, and I can tell you that telling Virgo “Don’t worry” doesn’t have much of an effect.

Energy helping/opposing: THE HERMIT

As with all Major Arcana cards, The Hermit suggests the involvement of a “higher,” very powerful energy. In this deck, the card is titled “Guidance” and we are told in the LWB that the Universe will always guide us, if we ask. Like the Nine of Pentacles, The Hermit is typically seen as an Earth card, specifically related to the zodiac sign Virgo (Golden Dawn system). But I can see The Hermit as pointing to a “higher vibration” of Virgo (for lack of a better expression), where one rises above the often miniscule or petty concerns that frequently plague Virgo by seeking a connection with and guidance from the Universe. The Hermit can also represent withdrawal or solitary contemplation, and this can either help or oppose the fulfillment of the potential for manifestation represented by the Nine of Pentacles. The number Nine gets a double hit here as well, since The Hermit is trump Nine. My keywords for the Number Nine are “basis for completion, endings, preparation (for new cycle), growth through experience, perfection, integration, and fruition.”


Looking at this card next to The Hermit, it’s as if the figure on Trump 9 has turned around and is walking towards me. The suit of Swords is associated with the element Air, communication, understanding, and truth. It is the suit of the Mind. It is also considered to be an “active” suit. In the Elemental Tarot, the Four of Swords is titled “Everyday guidance.” In the LWB, we are told that the Universe leaves signs and symbols to guide us along the way. This complements the message of The Hermit on that subject. However, whereas The Hermit is outside in the wilderness, the person on the Four of Swords is inside a massive, secure, safe structure (reflecting a common meaning for the number Four). I think the advice to me in this reading is that it is safe to “come out” to face forward and venture forth, following the everyday guidance the Universe provides (perhaps represented by the fairy-type creatures, the cat, and the raven on the Four of Swords card).

Potential outcome if advice is followed: THE MAGICIAN

Notice the progression? We start with The Hermit, facing away from us, wandering in a wilderness. We move to a figure striding purposefully towards us within a protective structure, and then we come to a lively woman who seems to be dancing out in the open, in the midst of the four suit symbols (Sword, Pentacle, Cup, and Wand). The Elemental Tarot subtitles The Magician “Doing something well.” The LWB offers this description: “The energy of the Universe surrounds you, skills dwell within you. Be bold and use what is available.”

The Golden Dawn links The Magician with the planet Mercury, which rules the zodiac signs Gemini (an Air sign) and Virgo (remember Virgo?) I had to smile at that.

This collection of cards overall seems to suggest using the energy of Air and Earth together – the mind and communication manifesting itself in the physical world. Ideas become physical realities. However, they can only do so if I bring those ideas forward, if I “come forward” and express myself outwardly in my creations, if I translate that which is “above” (or inside?) to the world “below” (outside?)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Old English Tarot: 9 of Swords

Today I am pleased to introduce a new series of posts by Helen Howell, former co-author of Tarot Notes. Helen will be exploring cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
9 of Swords
by Helen Howell

In this series I’m going to be taking a look at the Minor Arcana of the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen, published by U.S.Games Systems Inc. I’m going to attempt to look at the symbolism and see how we can interpret these cards for not just how the four elements are arranged by also by the small depictions that accompany each of these cards.

I will pick the cards randomly but over a course of time hope to cover all the cards in the four suits.

My first card is the Nine of Swords:

Old English Tarot (U.S. Games)

In the Old English we see eight of the swords woven together with the ninth sword  pointing directly down over the head of the figure, who is tied to the stake and stands on a pile of kindling.  It’s an interesting depiction, because it differs from the traditional image which often gives us the interpretation of impending doom but from a mental point of view. That is to say the person in the image is thought to be overwhelmed with doubts and fears.

This image also gives us a sense of impending doom, but more from a physical aspect. Yes, the Swords still do represent mental activity, but we see the figure actually bound to the stake with no means to free himself while the sword hangs like a heavy weight above his head. He’s not imagining this; he is actually in that situation.

The way the swords are locked together, seems to me to symbolise that those thoughts he may have are trapped within his thinking pattern and he is helpless to free them, because he is tethered and cannot move away. But more than symbolising that he has troublesome thoughts, this card also indicates for us that he is in an unhappy situation, one that probably causes him mental suffering as well as physical.

How did he end up like this? Who tied him to that stake? He must have had a disagreement with someone for this to have happened, and so another aspect of this card could be that he has come out the worse for wear from a quarrel and now he is suffering for it.

I think the Old English depiction of the Nine of Swords gives us that extra element of of physical suffering as well as mental, whereas, for instance, the Rider Waite depiction tends to indicate that it’s all in the mind.

I particularly like the way the swords have been placed in an interlocking pattern with one that hangs free in a threatening position. It enhances the idea that one can get locked into a train of thought that you can allow to loom over you so that it threatens your physical well being.

So if you draw this card in a reading, depending on the surrounding cards, just remember that the message it may be trying to impart could be more than a mental fear or anxiety. It may well be telling you also that the person feels isolated, trapped, threatened or locked even in an unhappy situation. The very act of being tied to the stake is a shameful position to be in and could indicate that the person concerned feels shame for something they may have done or are thinking of doing.

You may or may not agree with my interpretation of this card, but I hope that some of it will be useful to you.

The LWB with this deck says:
Misery, suffering, unhappy situation quarrel
Reversed: Slander, doubt, shame.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Magician Times Four

This is the second entry in a series in which I share four versions of a particular Major Arcana card, and write a poem that takes us through all four versions. Click HERE to read my post about The Fool.

To simplify the process for myself, I am going to go in alphabetic order by deck. In this post, representing The Magician, we have the Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Publications), the Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Rainbow Crazy), The Arthurian Tarot by Caitlin and John Matthews (The Aquarian Press), and the Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone (U.S. Games).

The Magician
by Zanna Starr

Animals Divine Tarot
“I am The Magician,”
says the Celtic goddess Cerridwen.
“I reach up and out,
Into the branches of trees,
Into the souls of all creatures,
Animism Tarot
Into that which is Above
And that which is Below.”

“I am The Magician,”
says Coyote.
“See how I become one
With earth and air and fire and water.
See how I transform all that I touch,
Then disappear as if I were never there.”

The Arthurian Tarot
“I am The Magician,”
says Merlin.
“Was there ever any doubt?
Who else has inspired as many dreams?
Who else commands the mountains, the wind,
The flaming sun and endless sea?”

“You are The Magician,”
says the man with the beard
And the top hat
And the walking stick.
He holds out a flower...
Art of Life Tarot
And as I take it, the world
Begins to spin, tossing wild colors
Here and there
Stripes swirls stars.

I am The Magician.

Friday, November 7, 2014

In the Dream: Let It Be

I don’t know if this will be a “series” here on Tarot Notes, or if this is a one-time effort, but in any case it’s called “In the Dream.”

Instead of pulling a Tarot card and writing a poem about it, I wrote a poem about a dream fragment from last night, then asked the Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi, illustrated by Kwon Shina (U.S. Games) for a card that represents or relates to the dream/poem.

First, the poem:

In the dream
In a darkened room
Four people stand around a microphone,
With no audience but me.
In soft, wise voices
In the deep darkness
Of the dream
They sing “Let It Be.”

~ Zanna Starr

The card that came forward is:

Dreaming Way Tarot (U.S. Games)


From the LWB by Rome Choi: “Taking the time to reflect on what you have and what you need, questioning your choices.” Reversed: “Wanting to have attractive things but not doing anything to obtain that.”

Concerning those things described by Choi, I believe I simply do need to “let it be.” All is well and as it should be.

(And for those who might wonder, at least one of the four people singing was a woman, so... probably not The Beatles!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading – Part 4

To read Part 1, click HERE 
To read Part 2, click HERE.
To read Part 3, click HERE

In Part 1 of this General Reading, we covered “Overall Focus.” Part 2 was about “Drive, career, or work (Wands).” Part 3 focused on “Communication and understanding (Swords).”

For Part 4, we are looking at Relationships (Cups). The cards are:

(Part 4) Relationships (Cups): 6 of Chalices
-- energy helping/opposing: Justice
-- advice: Queen of Chalices
-- potential outcome if advice is followed: Death  

By design, the top card was chosen from the suit of Chalices (Cups), the suit associated with the element Water, emotions, the subconscious, and relationships. This is the type of energy that connects and binds. The SIX OF CHALICES came forward to represent the suit for me.

Sometimes called the “nostalgia card,” the Six of Chalices is perfect for me on several levels. I have been married to my current (third) husband for 14 years now, but we first met each other when we were both in elementary school. We were high school sweethearts, but went to different colleges and married other people. The traditional Six of Cups card typically shows two children, a boy and a girl. In the Elemental Tarot, the card is subtitled “Experienced Love.” You can see why this applies to my situation! The relationship is founded on past connections as well as experience in other relationships over the years.

Energy helping/opposing: JUSTICE

When referring to relationships, I often view Major Arcana cards as indications of a past life or soulmate connection. That connection could be certainly seen as “helping” the present-day relationship. Justice represents, to me, the concept of karma, of give and take. The subtitle given for Justice in The Elemental Tarot is “Law of reciprocity.” It’s not hard to see how this applies to a relationship. If the flow of energy is balanced, that helps the relationship. If it is out of balance – if one person gives or takes much more than the other – that opposes or harms the relationship.


How perfect is this? The Elemental Tarot LWB simply states: “Recognizing that you have much love to give is a form of empowerment.” I am indeed the Queen of Cups in all my relationships, especially my marriage. I am responsible for how I deal with my emotions, my subconscious activity, and my behavior within the relationship. The advice is to cultivate or maintain the best qualities of this Queen. In The Tarot Court Cards (Destiny Books), Kate Warwick-Smith talks about the Queen of Cups as “Confidante,” as someone who displays “Compassion.” Her negative qualities can include playing the “Victim,” and she sometimes suffers from “Depression.” I can easily identify with all four of those aspects of this card.

Potential outcome if advice is followed: DEATH

As a Major Arcana card, Death reinforces the “past life or soulmate connection” seen in Justice (above). If the advice is followed, the relationship will evolve and transition from one form to another, moving over a threshold into a new phase or stage of existence. I think this is what happens in any successful relationship. People change. The relationship changes. But if the two people can maintain balanced energy, express compassion, and use their experiences wisely, their connection evolves and matures, forming something stronger and more precious with the passage of time.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading – Part 3

To read Part 1, click HERE. 

To read Part 2, click HERE.

* * * * * *

In Part 1 of this General Reading, we covered “Overall Focus.” Part 2 was about “Drive, career, or work (Wands).”

Part 3 focuses on Communication and understanding (Swords). The cards are:

(3) 7 of Swords
-- energy helping/opposing: 7 of Pentacles
-- advice: 2 of Chalices
-- potential outcome if advice is followed: Knight of Pentacles

By design, the suit of Swords leads the way here, but Pentacles and Cups fill out the set. In this deck, the keyword for all Swords cards is “Guidance.” Swords focus on the connection (and communication, I think) between the questioner and the Universe.

Communication and understanding: 7 of Swords (Obvious guidance)

In my work with more traditional (RWS-based) Tarot decks, the Seven of Swords is known as “the thief card” or, at the very least, signals an attempt or desire to “get away with something.” I think that the idea of “information withheld” – or the “sin of omission” -- might make sense when we look at the Seven of Swords in the Elemental Tarot. It appears that the Universe is attempting to offer me “obvious guidance” but perhaps I am not willing or able to get a complete, useful message. Who or what could be keeping important elements of this guidance away from me?

Energy helping/opposing: 7 of Pentacles (Protecting a seed)

The suit of Pentacles is associated with earth, growth, and potential, particularly on the physical, material plane. The LWB for The Elemental Tarot Seven of Pentacles reads: “No matter how deep the water, land is always underneath, cradling the mysteries of the sea.” The traditional Seven of Pentacles typically shows a man cultivating a crop, hoping for a good return on his investment. There is a sense of protecting what one has or what one is working toward, probably something in the physical or material world.

Perhaps, when it comes to communication and guidance from the Universe, I am unwilling or unable to receive or understand the whole message because I am too focused on protecting or maintaining something I am trying to build or create in the physical, material world, and therefore cannot “hear” all of what the Universe is trying to tell me. On the other hand, it might actually help me to look for obvious guidance or messages from the Universe in the things that I plant, nurture, and harvest in the physical world.

Advice: 2 of Chalices (New love)

Love and relationships are the realm governed by the suit of Chalices and the element Water. In the Two of Chalices, we are shown “a promising new relationship.” (I am not fond of the “Barbie doll” female figure on this card, but whatever.) 

I think perhaps this speaks of the need for me to create a “new relationship” or bond with the Universe so that I might better receive and understand communication meant for me. It could be like “renewing our vows,” pledging to make a fresh start.

Potential outcome if advice is followed: Knight of Pentacles

Following the advice of the Two of Chalices could give me the patience, determination, and commitment represent by this Knight. Knights in general suggest forward progress. It’s as if the cards are saying: “You will get there” if you commit to a new relationship with the Universe. It may take a while, but you will no longer miss important messages from the Universe or receive only a portion of what you need.

To read Part 4, click HERE.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading - Part 2

To read Part 1 of this General Reading, click HERE .

Having covered “Overall Focus” in my last reading, I am now ready to look at “Drive, career, or work (Wands).” The cards are:

Drive, career, or work (Wands): 9 of Wands
-- energy helping/opposing: 2 of Wands
-- advice: Queen of Wands
-- potential outcome if advice is followed: 4 of Pentacles

Well, the Wands certainly came out in force for this segment of the reading! The only card deliberately drawn from the suit of Wands was the card for “Drive, career, or work”. In the Elemental Tarot, all cards in the Wands suit represent some form of Inspiration.

Drive, career, or work (Wands): 9 of Wands (“Inspiration rewarded”)

Yes, I would have to agree with this. The man on this card stands tall and strong. He appears to be fending off a threat or advance from someone or something that he has deemed undesirable. In the Golden Dawn system, the 9 of Wands is linked with the energy of the Moon (emotions, subconscious) in Sagittarius, my natal Sun sign. Crowley calls this card “Lord of Great Strength.”

Energy helping/opposing: 2 of Wands (“Inspiration divided”)

This card suggests polarity or opposing energies, and the need to make a choice or choices between two opportunities. Career-wise, I have been pulled in more than two different directions, choosing at one point between work that provides sufficient income and work that I would really prefer to be doing (guess which one was the winner in that competition?) These days, I would say I have three “careers” – three areas on which I focus my energy, talent, time, etc. These three are, at long last, what I desire to do, not what I am required to do to earn a living. I can see the division of energies over the years as helping, in that I learned a great deal about many different things, but also opposing, in that for many years, I was not able to pursue the career that my heart wanted to pursue.

Advice: Queen of Wands

This is perfect, of course. As a Sagittarius, I see this card as representing me and the energy that I possess or can raise, and use as I choose, in support of my career (s).

Potential outcome if advice is followed: 4 of Pentacles (“a seed among the rocks”)

Key phrases for the suit of Pentacles in this deck all include the word “seed”. We are talking about manifestation on the physical plane. As the only non-Wand card in this set, the 4 of Pentacles is a welcome presence to me, suggesting achievement, stability, and security in the material world IF I am willing and able to overcome challenges and difficulties and turn them into opportunities. The key is to gain inspiration from these challenges, to view them as a chance to prove my worth.

To read Part 3 of this General Reading, click HERE.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Elemental Tarot General Reading - Part 1

I recently had a great experience using Lo Scarabeo’s Elemental Tarot (artwork by Marco Turini) in a reading for a client, and it seemed like a good time to do a larger reading for myself with this marvelous deck. The Little White Book (LWB) that comes with the deck offers a couple of general readings. I chose one in which five cards are chosen initially, one each from the Majors and four suits, to represent broad areas of life. Then, three more cards are chosen for each of those cards to represent energy helping/opposing, advice, and potential outcome if advice is followed. The spread looks like this:

and here are the cards I drew in each of the five positions:

Because this is quite a huge spread (at least for me!) I am going to divide up my interpretation into separate blog posts, each linking to the next. Let’s start with Position (1) Overall Focus. From the Major Arcana, I pulled The Stars. To accompany that card, I drew:

Overall Focus (Major Arcana): The Stars
Energy helping/opposing: Knight of Chalices
Advice: 3 of Pentacles
Potential outcome if advice is followed: 5 of Swords

I can hardly go wrong with The Stars (Trump 17) as my Overall Focus. The LWB for this deck calls the card “Faith restored” and follows that with: “As the wheel turns, so we move from darkness to light. The glimmers of light bring hope, healing, and renewal.” All of this fits in nicely with my usual interpretation of this Key.

Let’s see what energy might help or oppose me in that effort. The Knight of Chalices seems to sit a bit precariously on his steed as the horse steps cautiously into the water. The Knight is not holding on. One arm hangs loosely beside him and in the other hand he holds a Chalice whose contents appear to shimmer and shine. The LWB offers the following statement about this card: “The roughest, toughest people will go the extra mile for that which thrills their heart.”

Certainly this Knight is capable of understanding and tuning in to The Star’s message of hope, healing, and renewal. But sometimes he is too easily deceived. He could fall prey to addiction, escapism, and illusions. Those characteristics will likely not help me focus on what is needed to experience “hope, healing, and renewal.”

Now let’s see what advice the cards want to offer me concerning this Overall Focus. The 3 of Pentacles depicts three earth elementals capering about a large amount of vegetation that grows from the brown earth. The LWB notes that this card represents “the gifts of a seed – strength and nourishment are found in the sweet, ripe fruit and softly scented flowers of the earth.” I feel I am being advised to make my hopes and dreams a reality through activity, dedication, and perseverance.

Finally, we come to “potential outcome if advice is followed.” On the 5 of Swords, five Air elementals dance on an open hand. The LWB tells us that this card stands for “Long term guidance,” adding: “Your destiny is literally in your hands. But the key is deciding how to play the hand you were dealt.” So, let’s see… I have been “dealt” these five Air elementals. Let’s call them Communication, Ideas, Mental Activity, Attitudes, and Perceptions. They are “in my hands” for me to use for good or for ill.

Looking at the “advice” card I can see that my success or defeat – as already stated – depends on how I play the hand I was dealt. Will I play it hesitantly, timidly, half-heartedly – or will I confidently “go for the gold”?

To read Part 2 of this General Reading, click HERE.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

8 of Swords: Astrological Associations

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

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


Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Eight of Swords is linked with Jupiter (geniality, optimism) and the sign Gemini (a mutable Air sign known for being intellectual).

Crowley titles the card "Interference" and notes "It is simply the error of being good-natured when good-nature is disastrous.” He writes: “Good fortune, however, attends even these weakened efforts, thanks to the influence of Jupiter in Gemni, ruling the Decan. Yet the Will is constantly thwarted by accidental interference.”

Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as: "High goals (Jupiter) that are threatened by doubts and inner conflicts (Gemini).”

The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Eight of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Jupiter/Gemini. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "frustration, an inescapable situation, confinement, must develop new strategies and attitudes to exit." Ill-dignified DMs include: "imprisoned, confined by illness, guilt complexes, arrested development, misunderstood mental problems.”

One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Eight of Swords with the first subdivision of Aquarius (natural ruler Uranus; subruler Venus). She writes: "The humane nature of Aquarius is blessed with the presence of Venus in the first subdivision. . . This card may also indicate the unpredictable” She notes the following "Traditional Interpretations": "Highly intelligent, inquiring mind. Resourceful. Indicates intellectual study. Opportunities must be grasped.”

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Eight of Swords with the energy of  Mercury in Gemini. Mann calls Swords Eight, Nine, and Ten "The Vibrations of Gemini," and links the Eight of Swords with the period between May 21-31. Yellow is the color associated with Mercury and orange is associated with Gemini on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Eight of Swords: "A continual love of variety and constant change can create beneficial work situations if enough concentration is applied. Mental originality with difficulty in focusing on practical applications." Reversed: "Too much complexity creates confusion, stress and sudden outbursts of anger. Accident prone and inconstant.”

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

_David Thornton_ associates the Eight of Swords with the placement of the planet Mercury in the Third House (House of Environment and Perceptions, Communication, Siblings, Short trips). The Third House in astrology is associated with the sign Gemini.

Thornton's description of the energy of the Eight of Swords is: "Versatile thinking, adaptability, a love of variety and change, lack of constancy, honesty or tidiness.”

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

Anna Cook associates the Eight of Swords with the first decan of Gemini. In Cook's TD system, Subject Card Eight signifies "Future Renovation." The key word for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Renovation for the Eight of Swords. Cook notes: “There’s some extra work, or news coming your way that could upset your day, preempt your agenda, and lead you to feel momentarily, ‘bound and tied’ by circumstances that you can neither prevent nor control.”

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

Thierens associates the Eight of Swords with "the energy of the element of Earth on the Eighth house (the house of death and of the greatest difficulties of life, the inner problems and sex).” He notes: “The image on this card may well indicate the blindness of man amidst the dangers of this world and of his own desire-nature.”

His keywords for this card include: "Obstacles, conflict, danger, hampering, affliction, criticism, sex-problems of a threatening nature. . . revenge, debt, poverty, sickness."

(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 Eight of Swords we have:
  • Crowley and Hazel with a Jupiter/Gemini association
  • Mann with Mercury/Gemini
  • Love with Aquarius/Uranus/Venus
  • Thornton with Mercury/3rd House (ruled by Gemini)
  • Cook with the 1st decan of Gemini
  • Thierens with Earth/8th House (ruled by Scorpio/Mars)

According to Arthur Waite (Pictorial Key to the Tarot / Weiser), the Eight of Swords “is rather a card of temporary durance than of irretrievable bondage.” The Rider-Waite-Smith card shows “a woman, bound and hoodwinked, with the swords of the card about her.” Waite’s DMs: “bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict, calumny; also sickness.” Reversed DMs: “disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen; fatality.”

From an astrology standpoint, Jupiter is in its detriment in Gemini. In other words, Jupiter’s expansive, generous, optimistic nature is dampened by Gemini, a sign known for being detail-oriented and for “over-thinking.” Jupiter’s desire to look at the “big picture” is thwarted in Gemini. Hazel’s keyword “frustration” certainly applies.

A Mercury/Gemini combo would seem to be desirable, given that Mercury rules Gemini. It is difficult for me to associate such a favorable combination with the traditional RWS image of the “bound and hoodwinked” woman. Indeed, Mann speaks of “a continual love of variety and constant change,” neither of which seem to fit the traditional image. His keywords for the reversed card – confusion and stress – seem more appropriate.

If nothing else, the information I gathered on the astrological associations for the Eight of Swords clearly shows the wide range of possible interpretations, based on one’s preferred system.