Friday, September 9, 2011

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Intuitive Tarot- King of Discs, Knight of Swords, Six of Swords

After what can only be described as a craptastic weekend I decided I was too emotionally wiped to be of much good to anyone, plus I did not get my images uploaded and didn't get my posts done before I left, so I just took the week off.  I was days behind anyway, and really, did not have anything nice or non passive aggressive to write.  What became clear to me is that people are not always who you think they are and that hurt my heart, more for The Man than me, because I don't think he has really encountered that before.  Me, I am an old pro at recognizing assholes and systematically eliminating them from my life.

I am ready to blog again, though.

These cards are probably for The Man.  He tends to be the King of Discs in my readings, and I think he has been the most shook by the events of the week.  He looks right towards the Knight of Swords, who is archetypal warrior energy, and my honey sure had a lot of that to deal with over the long weekend and the days that followed.  Impulsive people, thoughts not tempered with compassion.  The Knight of Swords has his face mask pulled down tight.  No one is going to look in his eyes, no one is getting anywhere near his heart.  The Six of Swords is achingly poignant.  Because the steering figure has white hair, like the turbaned King of Discs, I have the feeling the it is the same fellow.  He is taking those that wanted to hop on his boat somewhere else, somewhere they can leave the combative Knight of Swords behind.  The banks are steep, and there is nowhere for them to land their boat, at the moment, so there is no choice but to follow the river wherever it may lead, and trust that this part of the journey serves a purpose as well.  One of the big things about the Six of Swords for me is this- we may not enjoy the journey, we may have to be drug away kicking and screaming, but we have to go sometimes.
Intuitive Tarot- High Priestess

The shadow card for this reading is the High Priestess.  Her appearance in that position for me is a signal that I can't know everything about the situation I am reading for, that my information is incomplete, and so any conclusions I may draw could be flawed as a result.  She also promises to reveal all, according the the divine plan that I am not always privy to, so that is rather comforting, looked at in the right light.  I just have to wait on her good pleasure, and to be honest, only part of this reading is any of my business anyway.

She also probably speaks to the parts of the reading that are about me.  I am unknown, I am unknown factor in this, and while the High Priestess is fairly cool and aloof as she sits on her throne, we can never forget she becomes Hecate, the dark side of the moon.

These images are from the Intuitive Tarot by Cilla Conway, published by St. Martin's Press.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Daily Draw - King of Wands, Hierophant, Three of Rings

Twilight Realm: A tarot of Faery- King of Wands, Hierophant, Three of Rings

These cards eloquently tell a story about success and how we achieve it- passion and creativity, from the King of Wands, being in alignment with the Divine, as we see in the Hierophant, and willingness to do the work, as the industrious fellow in the Three of Rings.

This is my last draw with these cards for the week, and it is a telling one, so I think they will stay on my altar for a while as I ponder the beauty and simplicity of their message.

Short post today, because the cards have said it better than I could have.

These cards are from Twilight Realm: A Tarot of Faery by Beth Wilder for Schiffer Books.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Turn Tarot- September 2, 2011

One of my main tenets of tarot reading is that laying cards is an excellent way to sift through the past, assess the present, offer choices, and a sometimes good way to see possible outcomes (as well as ways to change those outcomes if they are not pleasing).  I also believe the cards are a two way conversation between myself and the Universe.  Sometimes I am told things, and sometimes I get to tell some things myself.  Tonight I am using these cards to express a wish, an intention, even a prayer, about what I would like to see happen.

We leave today for a long weekend with The Man's group of friends, and my most fervent desire is that he enjoy himself and that the blessed bright energy of the Sun infuse everyone's time together.  He is my central concern in this spread, so I have chosen the King of Rings to represent him and laid it in the middle.  I have placed the Magician on his left, to help him manifest everything he needs in order to enjoy this time with his friends, and the Sun to his right to symbolize the deep contentment of soaking up the last rays of the summer Sun.

I ask for the weekend to be good, to be calm, to be energizing, for restoration of broken relationships and forging of new ones.  I ask to celebrate the past, enjoy fully  the present, and make new memories to see us through the future.

These cards are from Twilight Realm: A Tarot of Faery by Beth Wilder for Schiffer Books.

Daily Draw - Five of Rings, Princess of Rings, Strength

I was hoping the Strength card from this deck would show up sometime this week and say hello, in all its' 80s velvet painting glory.  I can just hear the musical strains in the background, "Just a small town girl..."  I am going to love unicorns forever and ever, I think.

Rings in this deck correspond to Pentacles, and as you can see there are two of them in this reading, the Five and the Princess, who would be a Knight, or at least the second youngest member of the court.  Except she is not a Knight, she is a Princess, and completely herself.

The blue skinned faery in the Five of rings has foolishly lingered too long at a Samhain celebration, and the doors to the Otherworld have closed, leaving her lonely in the first snow flurries.  She does not know how to care for herself, she is naked, and she has no resources, or so she thinks.  This card expresses all my deepest anxieties- being foolish, losing my home, being cut off from the people I love, feeling unable to care for myself.  The Princess of Rings is almost the complete opposite- she has used her resources so wisely she even has excess time to make beautiful things, like her wreath of posies.  This is the potential outcome for the first fae; she can pull herself up by her bootstraps and get by, even thrive, or she can lay down and die in the cold.

Strength isn't a card we get to promise some knight in shining armor arriving imminently, whether on just a white horse or a unicorn, but a card we get to remind ourselves that it is all up to us.  There is a rescue possible, but when we see Strength we are going to be the architect of it.  The promise of this set of cards is that we can travel, from even the most fearful place, to one of glory and beauty.  All Knights are hard working fellows, but the Princess of Rings does her work on the spiritual plane, so I know her advice is very practical, it is in all things that I can actually do, and not just in the way I think or feel.  So much of my inner work is emotional and spiritual, but she is pointing the way to actual actions I can take, and the message is coming through loud and clear.

These cards are from Twilight Realm: A Tarot of Faery by Beth Wilder for Schiffer Books.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book Review- Confessions of a Tarot Reader

I bought this book, Confessions of a Tarot Reader: Practical Advice From This Realm And Beyond, by Jane Stern, because I like tarot, I like confessions, and I like to read.  I did not then, and do not now, know exactly who she is supposed to be, but she writes as if I should, and so should you if you read this book.

This book is divided into chapters that correlate to each of the Major Arcana, and is illustrated with the luscious Bohemian Gothic Tarot Second Edition by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov of Baba Studio.  Each chapter is liberally sprinkled with examples she has experienced in client readings (which I should say bothers me quite a bit because I am not sure I would want to have been one of her clients, although I am sure she has changed the names) and her personal take on the card, which by no means should be taken as the last word on the subject matter.  The meanings portrayed are Jane Stern's opinion only, and it does not seem she finds any cards to be particularly positive nor does she seem to like her clients too much, and that tone dominates the book, I feel.  Even so, reading the book is often like watching a bad episode of a reality television show; you know you shouldn't be watching it, there are more edifying ways to spend your time, but it's kinda gruesome in its' great terribleness (Real Housewives of New Jersey, I am looking at you...)

The history of tarot cards as presented in the book is largely believed not to be the true history of the cards, as most scholars agree that they were originally a trick taking game in Renaissance Europe that came to mean more to certain people later, and since she is presenting this book as a nonfiction memoir I feel that should have been at least noted, even if she does not believe it to be true.  Apparently, she has many fans from other kinds of work she does, and I think it would be a real shame for people to read this book and have that be all they know of tarot.

I'm not sure what she confessed, either, so I think the title is misleading.   As a tarot resource book, I consider this book to be a failure, but I do not think that was the main intention of the book.  What it does do well is give a snapshot view of one readers' style, thoughts, and ideas, and if you like Jane Stern or will just read anything written on tarot, you will probably enjoy this book.  The tone rubs me all the wrong way, but the writing is quite good, and some of the stories are entertaining, if not definitive (in my view) examples of the way the cards interact together.  A slim volume is probably not enough to capture all of that, either, but at least a nod in the direction of other areas to explore would have been a nice gesture from an author who is probably garnering readers who have never experienced tarot before.

The author has apparently made many good decisions down her paths in life, and she seems to have very little patience for those of us who struggle more, and seems to have an air of superiority about her that makes me want to track her clients down and give them a big ol' hug and a glass of wine and a compassionate tarot reading, but one reason I have so many tarot reading buddies is I believe every person finds the right reader for them, so my fervent hope is the readings she gives examples of were the right one for those people, in that moment.

Update- October 18, 2011:  Someone linked this review to Aeclectic Tarot, and the resulting thread is here, if you wish to read it.  Jane Stern has showed up on that thread to chime in, which I would find more endearing if she had ever participated on the forum before, or if she looked around or commented on any posts other than the one about her book (which I did not start), but I don't think her main purpose is to endear herself to me, nor should it be.  She has some answers to my concerns, although I do not feel she took my review with the proverbial grain of salt, and I absolutely wish her no ill, or feel mean spirited in writing this at all.  Her tarot reading style as she presented it in this book does not jive with what I consider responsible, compassionate tarot reading, but I am not the final say in what makes a good reading.  I still feel the tone of the book was condescending, and when she came to the thread to discuss her book she pointed out that as Yale graduate and successful author, with a television show and having been played by Kathy Bates, she is not "your typical card reader".  I took issue with her tone there, too, as if most tarot readers couldn't possibly hope to be as successful as she, as if she reads cards as a lark and in spite of her intelligence and success, not because of them.  I again felt condescended to and looked down upon.  That could totally be my own shortcoming.  I also feel it is in extremely poor taste, and not professional at all, to lambaste thoughtful critics of ones' work.  I made no personal attack, and it is okay with me that we don't agree.  I'm not trying to change her mind.  As I said in the original review, I hope her clients received value, and I wish Jane Stern every success, as a tarot reader, as an author, wherever her life may take her, because there is room for all styles of reading that truly aim to help the client.  Every book that goes mainstream, every person exposed to tarot as a viable healing modality, is one more person that I have the opportunity to reach, as well, and that is invaluable to me, and I thank Jane Stern for possibly bringing some of those people into the fold of tarot.

If you'll forgive me a small bit of snark, Jane Stern has an MFA in painting, so I assume at some point she studied art in Europe at the time tarot was emerging, so surely she must have seen some types of tarot imagery, had some idea of tarot history, which she misrepresents in her book.  It's okay to not know, but it is not okay to pass off misinformation as fact when you don't.  There was also a mention of her pricing for readings, in the comments of this blog, and in the AT thread, and she has dropped the prices since we originally were speaking of it, but just for the sake of clarity- If my market would bear that cost, I would gladly charge it, because as much I love reading tarot and helping people I also have a thing for designer shoes and feeding my gaggle of kids every single day.  She should charge whatever she feels her time is worth, and as consumers we are free to pay it or not as we feel it is worth.  I think you all can guess that I was not lining up to get a reading from her, but I wouldn't take one if it was free.

Loving the great conversation, folks!  I am all for solidarity in the tarot community, and for rallying behind the brave souls that write, create, teach, and generally strive to make tarot fun, interesting, relevant, and that put themselves out there.  I know that is so brave, and I also know my work does not appeal to everyone.  I also feel as a small community we can be less than honest at times, not wanting to step on anyone's toes, and as energy workers we are often so aware of how we can impact others and mostly we want to be kind and make nice.  I do not like this book a great deal, although I have found positive points to it, but I do not know Jane Stern, and I do not wish her any ill.  I hope that everyone who wants to read this book does so, and I wish you all, Jane included, the joy of the journey!

Also, you can hear Jane Stern talk about her book, herself, and her life on Tarot Today Radio here, if you'd like.

Further Update, October 25, 2012- As I searched for the thread I found it has been removed, without explanation or any contact from the moderators to me.  Some people were personally attacking Jane Stern and her looks, which I found inappropriate, but that is one more reason I no longer frequent that forum.  Thoughtful even if it is dissenting, discussion should be allowed.  The forum is based in Australia, where I understood free speech was also a tenet, but maybe I am wrong.  In any case, I still don't care for the tone of the book, but after having read some of Jane Stern's other books, which are mostly about food and pop culture, I do still enjoy her writing.  This book just didn't do it for me.  I rarely post less than positive reviews, because if I don't like a book I can't get through it to review, and if I don't like a deck I can't spend enough time with it to get to know it well to review.

Daily Draw - Eight of Wands, Six of Swords, Queen of Cups

Today, these cards make me think of how we sometimes need a little (or gigantic) push to get to where we are supposed to be.  The couple in the Eight of Wands are probably getting on just fine, but Cupid is going to let his arrows fly and help them along.  To me, the Six of Swords is  journey, but often a reluctant one, one we didn't really want to take, but look- when we arrive the Queen of Cups greets us with open arms and a beatific smile.

When I think about the way these cards relate to my life, and in light of the shadow card of the draw, I can't help but think about a failed love affair.  Or maybe it wasn't failed, but did exactly what is was supposed to, which for me was put me firmly in the path and mindset to be open and ready for the amazing marriage I am experiencing today.  There was love between us, an immense amount of it, and friendship, too, which I am discovering more and more is the more important ingredient in a successful relationship, but nothing we did seemed to be able to make us able to be together.  This was an exercise in extreme frustration for both of us, and took a nasty toll on both of us, but one of my best and worst attributes is that I hang on tenaciously, and I refused to let go of this relationship.  Love should have been enough, right?  It wasn't though, and it took the Universe breaking both of our hearts over and over to finally make me understand that it just wasn't meant to be.

And I grieved.  I grieved so hard I made myself sick with it.  I cried so long and hard I didn't think there was any way out and I would never be happy again.  And I hated him.  As much as I loved him, I hated him too.  And I hated myself for letting myself go that far down that road.

Then one day I ran into an old friend, and one thing led to another, and then he had his hand on my knee, and it just felt  right, and then he had his lips pressed against mine, and that felt even righter, and all the feelings that had smoldered below the surface of our friendship for years lit on fire, and we have been inseparable since that night.  Now I am married to the absolutely right person for me, as I hope and pray and every indication seems to be that I am the right person for him.  The point I am making, though, is that I did not choose to be there, that way.  Things could have gone an altogether different way and I would have missed out on the very best thing that has ever been mine, if I had not been pushed and forced out of the thing that was very good, but just not quite right.  I did not choose that path.  I was forced down it.  And I am lucky for having had my heart broken so thoroughly.

The Lovers card in this deck really highlights the choice aspect, with the man being drawn to the siren of the watery depths, even though following her will surely mean his death, to the great grief of his other love.  I have tried to explain to my former love, though I am not sure he believes me, that there is room in the human heart for more than one person.  There is not room in my definition of marriage and fidelity for more than one lover, but what I feel for my husband does not diminish nor eradicate what I felt and feel for him.  I would not have been able to pick, so Love chose for me, and that hurt like a bitch, but I can't be sorry now, except for the pain we both felt in the meantime.  For me, that pain forced me to grow into the kind of person that is the kind of wife my husband needs, compassionate and gentle, like the Queen of Cups, and I am not sure I would have become that without the catalyst of the immense pain I went through.

These cards are from Twilight Realm: A Tarot of Faery by Beth Wilder for Schiffer Books.