Monday, December 19, 2011

Deck Review - Crystal Visions Tarot

Crystal Visions Tarot- Nine of Wands
The Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc is a lush new deck inhabited by angels, fairies, dragons, unicorns, and all sorts of fanciful creatures.  Even so, it is a great working deck for people who are drawn to those types of images, and anyone who loves twilight colors.

I recently used the deck in my Daily Draws, which you can find here, and for an intense tarot class given locally, Journey to the Ultimate Boon, by Joy Vernon, which really is the best praise I can give a deck.  Using it in the class required a commitment to the deck, and it's not just any deck I want to tell me about my personal issues and deep shadow things.

Crystal Visions Tarot- The Unknown Card
The Major Arcana are traditionally named, with Strength at trump VIII and Justice XI.  The four suits are named Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with court cards assigned traditionally to Page, Knight, Queen, King.  The cards are glossy and sturdy, as it appears U.S. Games has returned to publishing in Italy with a shiny lamination.  The cards are approximately 2.75" x 4.75", easily shuffled, and packaged in a tuckbox with a Little White Book written by the artist.  The Major Arcana feature an extra card, labelled The Unknown Card, which represents the things that we cannot yet know.  It did not appear for me in my readings, and I think that is likely because I often see the High Priestess as the guardian of deep secrets.  If it does appear for me I will have to give some thought to how the cards differ and how they are alike so I can make a distinction, but the deck seemed to realize I was not ready to deal with the card, so it never came up.

The images largely follow Waite Smith interpretations of the cards, with some twists, and there are plenty of places in the imagery to assign your own meanings and symbolism to the cards.  The colors are rich and deep, and if flying creatures speak to you there is much for this deck to say.  My particular favorite suit is the snowy Swords.  I think this deck would be great for lovers of fantasy, and the cards are likely suitable for all ages, with no nudity or gratuitous violence.  They would probably be good cards to read for people who are new to tarot or nervous about getting a reading.  Tarot is a visual language, and when we find the ones that speak to us we know we are on the right track.

Here are several images from Crystal Visions Tarot, which is available wherever you usually purchase your decks.  Enjoy!

Crystal Visions Tarot

Crystal Visions Tarot

Crystal Visions Tarot

These cards are from Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Daily Draw - Empress, Two of Wands, King of Swords

Universal Transparent Tarot
This week brings the Universal Transparent Tarot from Lo Scarabeo publishers.  For me, this deck can't be used without acknowledging that Emily Carding's fantastic Transparent Tarot and later Transparent Oracle, published by Schiffer Books, were the first, innovative decks to use the concept of clear cards with images that could be layered.  These decks are simply astounding in use, but I am eager to try some more traditional images as they come together in composite pictures.

Today, I have the nurturing Empress, the mother in the tarot deck, and mother is probably my most important role today.  The kidkins are officially on winter break and I have a house full today!  I think the stern King of Swords on the bottom represents the dentist we will be seeing today.  Although I find him to be a kindly man, and gentle, too, at least one of the kids is terrified of the dentist and is likely to see him as an opposing figure.  I think that child is represented by the dark haired figure in the Two of Wands, with the tooth being held in his hands as he examines it.  Unfortunately, the terrified child seems to have a tooth that has gone bad, and that is always a scary place to be.  The good news I am trying to get him to focus on is that it seems to be a baby tooth, so if it has to go another, healthy tooth should soon appear.  Gladly, it does not seem to be causing him pain at the moment, but I think the fear of pain is a great motivator to him to not be in this position again.  With  the child figure placed between the opposing energies of the soft Empress and the harder King of Swords, I think we can see that he needs both the healthy fear of losing a tooth or going through pain and gentle, consistent reminders to properly care for his teeth.  Some kids only need one, but this child probably needs both, and part of the trick of parenting is figuring out what each individual responds to, and as I take part in raising five individual people I have come to understand that no one thing works for all kids, or for any child throughout their growth.  It's constantly changing, and being a mom requires creativity and willingness to go with the flow, which is probably partly how we come to associate the Empress with creative projects.

Happily, I do not see any tears or pain, and I do think the cards are positive, and point to an experience that will not be as bad as anyone fears.  The Two of Wands gives me the feeling that we will go forth into a new era, one where this child cares for his teeth better and gets his regular check ups without further incident.  And if he doe snot choose to willingly, there I will be, brandishing brush and floss and gently reminding until it becomes a habit.

These cards are from Universal Transparent Tarot by Roberto De Angelis for Lo Scarabeo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review - Easy Tarot Reading (And A Contest!)

Easy Tarot Reading by Josephine Ellershaw certainly lives up to the promise of the front cover: The Process Revealed In Ten True Readings.

There are many great books for beginning tarot readers, one of which has been written by Josephine Ellershaw and is packaged with the gorgeous Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti, but there are many fewer for intermediate to advanced readers.  I feel this is likely because like Othello and the guitar, tarot is quite easy to pick up, satisfying to do so from Day One, but takes a lifetime to master.  Everyone learns differently, and the myriad books on the market offer great starts, but very few books cover what happens after you know what the Four of Cups means to you.  This book begins to fill that gap quite neatly.

The author writes from the perspective of a working tarot professional, and professional she is as she takes us step by step through readings with her clients (all of whom knew they were going to be included as case studies in this book).  It is actually not that difficult to learn some meanings for seventy eight tarot cards, in my experience, but the magic lies in learning to combine them into a reading that paints a story.  Josephine Ellershaw shows how to take the multiple cards of her particularly used spreads and weave them into a story to which the sitter can relate, and that is a truly wise thing.

The spreads the author uses are large, but she breaks them down into small groupings so that they are easily strung together into a relevant story, and while she makes it look deceptively simple as a long time reader I can assure you it is not always.  Even so, by following her sage and easily read advice, anyone can learn to make their readings flow as well.  As someone who mentors new readers and teaches tarot, I feel as frustrated as my students do when they come to me with large spreads that are not clearly labelled and separated, but that is not an issue with these spreads at all.  If I had learned nothing else from this book, the price would have been justified in learning these spreads alone, as within them is a potential mine of information for the reader to relay to the client.

My one complaint with the book is that there are no pictures to illustrate the spreads given, only diagrams, as tarot is a visual art, with the pictures on the cards being cues to the reader and jogs for the sitters' mind, but once I took the author's advice to lay out my own cards to reflect the reading I was studying with her, everything became quite clear.  By the time I had gotten through a couple of her readings, I actually saw using my own cards as a positive feature because my own speak to me, just as yours should speak to you.

Josephine Ellershaw has written a tarot book worthy to grace every readers' shelf, and has done so with grace, wit, and honesty.  She offers excellent advice that pertains to both the art and business side of tarot reading, for students of any level.  You won't find a list of what she thinks each card means, since the book assumes the reader to have a working knowledge of their cards, but you will find new and deceptively simple ways to read for yourself and others in this book.  I give it glowing praise!

I take tarot reading seriously, as a deep pleasure, and I do not endorse books or decks I find less than brilliant.  Because I think this book is so great and I believe all my tarot reading buddies could probably benefit from it, I am offering a free book to the winner of the contest.  To enter, just leave a comment on this post.  I'll draw a winner on Monday, January 2, 2012.  Good luck!

Update:  Congratulations to Josephine Robin Dalton, who wins a copy of  this great book, also by a Josephine.  Please contact me with your address so I can get the book on its' way to you, and big thanks and hugs to everyone for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Daily Draw- Judgment, Five of Swords, Empress

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Judgement, Five of Swords, The Empress

Today I am using a spread I have often used called Thorhammer's Daily Spread, which was crafted by someone I knew on a forum, a lovely Australian lady named Kat.  The positions are "What I Did Well Today", "What to Leave Behind From Today" and "What to Carry Forward From Today".

What I did well today- Judgment:  Generally speaking, Judgment is a card that urges me to spiritual self care, to listening to the call I am hearing, so that I am not left behind as others move forward.  That is a kind of generic meaning for that card, for me.  This one features a lightning bolt bearing god and a more distant angel, supplicants offering what they may have, and one soul turning away, choosing to remain a dessicated corpse.  It's a heavy card, deep with meaning.  Today, I made a vat of chili, wrote a little, and laid about, resting up from some sleepless nights and the rock concert last night.  In that way, I cared for myself, gave myself a respite I really needed, so I followed the meaning of the card I have, but the imagery of this card is not necessarily restful or of a calling nature.  I did not have any great epiphanies, except to not rub one's eyes immediately after dicing jalapenos, so I struggled a bit for the meaning of this card for me today.

I think today, this card is more about forgiveness, and the proper dispensing of Judgment.  And the person I forgave was me.  Usually I am very hard on myself, and while I work at home, discipline is a part of getting that work done.  In most circumstances, had I essentially taken the day off work, I would have beaten myself up terribly for that, but today I just went with it.  The little nap and the mindless tv watching has left me refreshed.

What I need to leave behind from today- Five of Swords:  I don't need to fight, and I don't need to "win".  I experienced a bit of a bump in the road of a longtime friendship today, and this particular person and I are notorious for bumping heads, and hard.  I could very clearly see where I thought he was in the wrong today in our conversation, but I decided to just let it go, because it's his life to lead, not mine, and his lesson to learn, if it is his time, and even assuming that I am right where I think I am.  I don't need to win at any cost, and people's feelings matter more to me than being right.  At least that is what I am working on.

What to carry forward from today- Empress:  More cooking tomorrow, more cleaning and laundry, because when you have five kids that never ends.  I take extreme delight in the small pleasures of home and hearth, and I enjoy making my home pleasant, so this card is not a surprise.  After finishing NaNoWriMo about a week ago, I have found the habit of writing at l east 1,667 words is sticking, so that creativity, at a good clip even, continues to flow, and the Empress is all about nurturing the creative aspect of ourselves, as well as others.  And incidentally, I find it far easier to write with a full and warm belly at a clean desk without chores weighing on my mind, so by taking care of those things I am freeing myself for other work I like more.

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Knight of Coins
The shadow card of this reading is the Knight of Coins, slow and steady wins the race.  Energy to get projects started, that I have in spades, but what really determines success is not so much that we can start things, but that we can see them through.  Writing books, building a business, nurturing a marriage, raising kids, these are all long haul, big picture concepts, and I am working on being consistent in my efforts with each rather than the explosive surges of energy I have at various times.  I need to utilize those, as well, but I need to build a life of good habits, because how we spend our days becomes how we spend our lives, and we see more return for the little consistencies than for the sun spark burst method of reaching goals.

These cards are from The Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot Deck by Deirdre O'Donaghue and Wayne McGuire, available from her website, Tarot Unlocked.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Daily Draw - Eight of Swords, Queen of Cups, Knight of Cups

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Eight of Swords, Queen of Cups, Knight of Cups
These are a melancholy set of cards today, or maybe it is just me.

I don't generally air a lot of my dirty laundry on my blog, although I am pretty open when I write.  Mainly I think if you just don't have any dirty laundry to air you don't have to worry about it, and I work very hard on living my life in such a way I would have no issues with anyone seeing the way I live, truly, even when no one is watching.

Even so, no one gets out of any relationship alive, not wholly as they were before, and I understand that my perspective is only one when I discuss these relationships.  If the other people want to share they should write a blog.

Currently we are dealing with a set of custody orders that is very old and extends back to when my stepkids were toddlers, over ten years ago.  At one time, their mother was a little more lenient about allowing extra time with their father, my husband, when his schedule allowed for it.  I was not around for the breakdown of this situation and I cannot comment as to why it may have happened, but I just know that now it is a holy living terror to try to adjust anything about the scheduling, and since we have a houseful of teenagers and almost teens, scheduling is a big deal and changes every week for them.  It seems like the only solution is to go to court and ask for an amendment, which makes me sad for the kids.  Going to court will put the kids in a position of feeling like they have to choose, and that should not at all be the case.  They should get both parents equally, without any guilt being laid upon them, and although I can't claim to be unbiased, I feel they are being pressured and made to feel guilty.  I also know that getting the court to say the kids go here at blah blah blah time and here at blah blah blah time will not address the changing needs of teenagers and all of us, including their mother, as a changing family, and I really just wish the adults would make a commitment to parent the kids where the kids need it, and not where the parents feel their rights are.

These are excellent young men, who love their mama, and who love their dad.  I know both of their parents love them.  I see my husband in the first card, worried and brooding, looking towards the broken part of his family, with the kids' mom in the second card, who the Queen resembles on her good days, and my younger stepson, with the tousle of dark hair, who plays at his mother's feet, the two of them taking delight in each other, which they should, but leaving my husband and other stepson out of their exchange.  Far off, in the third card, is my older stepson who is turned away from everyone in the picture and possibly only going further, because he does not feel he has a safe place to voice his true feelings.  There is a lotus, a symbol for beautiful things that grow out of muck and ugliness, so all is not lost for him.

I hate even saying this, but I am so pissed at the adults in the cards.  I hate saying it because I love my husband and want to always be his staunchest supporter.  I hate saying it because I want to respect and admire my stepsons mom, and I can't right now.  The man hurts, and he looks upon the pain of the sons, but does nothing because he feels like he can't affect any real change, which is the message of the Eight of Swords.  The mother as Queen of Cups is not truly engaged with her child, but just holds him there as an emotional lever, one of the lowest expressions of the energy of this court card.  The getting older by the moment older son as Knight of Cups has no place for all his water to flow, and so he heads anywhere he can dump that Cup, and in this instance it is clearly away from his parents.  The Knight is full of emotions and he has no voice.

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Justice
As the shadow card of this reading, Justice makes her solemn appearance.  She is the underlying reason for all of this.  Both adults think they have the right of it, and neither is going to budge without intervention from the court.  Justice is a great thing, and one we should strive for, but sometimes the need for justice outweighs the compassion we should be feeling for other people, and in this case it truly is innocents who are suffering, kids who should be worried about getting their homework done and who they want to ask to the next dance, thinking about Magic cards and getting their license, not worrying about if their mother is going to lose her shit if they express a desire to see their dad more.  The kids need fluidity and a schedule that adjusts to their needs, and they are not going to get it as long as lady Justice has to dispense her specialty ala King Solomon and the baby has to be cut in half to ensure each parent gets their ever so precious rights.  One thing most people don't consider is this- there are times when gaining your rights keeps someone else from having theirs.  This is such a time.  The boys' mom is technically within her rights to deny extra time with their father, but in doing so she is infringing on the boys' right to see their father and their fathers' right to equally parent the children.  And it appears court, because apparently her compassion and common sense have to be court mandated, is the only option.  Justice is usually a card we want to see in readings that have anything to do with legal proceedings, since it offers promise of a just reward, but here she is cold, and I do not want coldness to touch my family.

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Temperance
Because this is not my situation to affect, only to deal with the aftermath when I see my husband and kids hurting, I feel like I need another card to offer me advice.  What is the best thing I can do to help a positive outcome for everyone?  Temperance, the angel of mercy, the card of git 'er done, and doing so with a deft touch and a light hand.  I see both sides of this situation, because I have custody issues of my own to contend with, and I also understand why the boys' mom holds such animosity for my husband.  I don't condone it or agree with it, but I do understand her.  I also see my husband, and how much he wants to be there for his kids as much as he can, and how much he has both not been allowed to and not pushed for it.  And most of all, I see my stepsons, who are in the middle.  They are young men, and young men benefit so much from strong father figures as they learn to become strong men themselves.  They are young men who love their mama, and are highly aware of how they affect her emotions.  They are young men who are not always sure of their place in this family, and who I want to be assured of it.  My place in this situation is to lightly tread, to offer healing where it is accepted, to continuously be calm and steady and light.  Keep the love and compassion flowing from one cup to the other.  It's all I can do.

The Majors are the most important aspects of this reading.  The man can stop brooding and start taking action, the woman can shift her emotions to the most positive side of the Queen of Cups, empathic and nurturing, and the Knight of Cups can turn around and find his place.  The Minors are not set in stone.  What is troubling is that it seems the need for Justice may not ever trump the need for peace for these two, and that will extend to me, as well as my children, all of them, those I birthed and those I chose, so I have to become the creatrix of peace within my own domain and where I can affect change.  I will love my husband and I will love our kids, and I will love the baby mama, and to the extent she will allow me to she can experience that love and compassion.  I am aware that my husband is not able to extend it, but I am, so I do.  I can create a home that is fragrant with the love he and I share, the love we have for the kids, with gratitude for their mother, with desire to all live to highest potential and be the best we can be.

My biggest reason for posting so sporadically has been that most of my readings are along this line, too personal, which I do not want to foist upon my readers, but I am coming to believe that tarot is intensely personal, and if I want to write about tarot I am going to expose myself at times.  I don't intend to monger drama, and I have said everything I wrote in this post to my husband and to his ex, who truth be known was once a close friend, via the friendship with my now husband.  She has access to this post, though I won't draw her attention to it I don't hide what I do either.  I do not intend to down on her, because in every relationship, including the one she and I shared, and share now, both parties have responsibilities and both do both good and wrong.  I really, truly hold no animosity for her, as our friendship reached its' natural conclusion so many years ago, and I hold nothing but fondness for what good times there were, gratitude for the gift of that friendship, and the wish that she always be joyful.  Life is so short, and focusing on what brings us happiness is the only thing that makes that short time worthwhile.

And, living well is ALWAYS the best revenge.

These cards are from The Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot Deck by Deirdre O'Donoghue and Wayne McGuire, available from her website Tarot Unlocked.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Daily Draw - Sun, Hermit, Eight of Swords

Crystal Visions Tarot- Sun, Hermit, Eight of Swords

These cards today are a reflection of how I feel about my Hermit week.  The Sun and The Hermit are facing away from each other, somewhat at odds with each other.  The Sun is a bright and merry card, and while The Hermit may feel a deep serenity, merry is not a word to describe her.  I think how many times I put on a happy face, for my kids, for the people around me, so they don't see me in what I perceive as my weakness, and for my kids because I think a positive mom has a lot of power in their lives.  I fake it til I make it sometimes, which can be good advice, but is not universal.  Sometimes we need to just feel what we feel, and not put on an overly sweet face when we feel like hell on wheels.  So, the Hermit is facing away from The Sun, and perhaps is offering her wisdom to the bound lady in the Eight of Swords.  Miss Thang in there can't figure out how to loose her bonds, but if she listens to the sage Hermit she may yet have a chance to bust free.  In some situations it is best to just admit we don't have the answers, to not be fakely optimistic, and to just take the help anywhere we can get it.  Knowing who to ask for help, and how to graciously accept it, can be a kind of wisdom all on its' own.

Crystal Visions Tarot- Death
The shadow card of the day is Death.  Because everything is better in Latin, the stone is inscribed- "VITA MUTATAR NON TOLLITUR", which for us plebes translates to, "Life is changed, not taken away."

As the piece of information I least want to deal with in this reading, I take that to be a gentle reminder to roll with the punches, even those I think I don't like, because sometimes the only choice we have in a given situation is how much grace and aplomb we show in it.

These cards are from Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Daily Draw - Lovers, Ten of Pentacles, Three of Swords

Crystal Visions Tarot- Lovers, Ten of Pentacles, Three of Swords

To me, these cards embody the phrase, "Do what you love and the money will follow."

The Lovers are about love, of course they are, but the card also represents the choices we make, and its' advice is to follow your own heart.  The Ten of Pentacles is success, on a material plane, and enjoying rich rewards well deserved.  The Three of Swords, again, with dark words on dark wings.  I think this card is a reminder to me that my idealization only brings me pain.  I  have to live in each moment and enjoy it for what it is, not what I wish it were.  Ultimately, it is a hard lesson but God always knows best.  I think I know best, but part of my lessons here are to let go and let God, not to be trite, but I struggle so much for control and I only end up mucking things up that way.

Often, I just let my daily draws tell me whatever they may, but today I had a specific thought in my head, "What will be the result of throwing myself into this card reading thing for business?"  Of course, I don't like the thought of that Three of Swords, but really that is exactly the point- attachment to an outcome causes sorrow, but openness to whatever Spirit has to give leads to fulfillment.  I see doing what I love, making a conscious choice to go with what I love, to follow my heart, even though that does not necessarily lead to a secure paycheck, but it does reap rewards that are beyond money.  And even though there are richer rewards in life than cash, the grocery store seems to prefer the cold hard dollar, and the Ten of Pentacles, with the castle waiting for her to return home, promises that, too.  The catch is, not without pain, of some sort, and since Swords deal with thoughts and communications, I think it must mean mental anguish of some sort.  There is also this- although pierced through the heart with those wicked Swords, she has not fallen.  She refuses to.  She continues on, through pain and through tears and ice and snow, and doing what you love requires you to be strong, sometimes.

Crystal Visions Tarot- King of Cups
The shadow card is the King of Cups, the patriarch of the suit that deals with emotions.  He is the oldest and most mature of the Cups court, and when he shows up he advises emotional maturity.He's balanced, firmly in this world, but not of it, not so serious about himself he can't get his feet wet, but not blithely splashing about, oblivious to his obligations.  Elementally speaking, he is the passion and immediacy of fire, mixed with the coolness and depth of water.  He urges me to embody those traits, to seek my natural balance, to feel what I need to feel, but not to let it unhinge me, so that I can focus heart and soul on the work that needs me.

These cards are from Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Daily Draw - Wheel of Fortune, Four of Pentacles, World

Crystal Visions Tarot- Wheel of Fortune, Four of Pentacles, World

This set of cards today speak to me about changing fortunes, and a good way to cope with those changes.

The Wheel goes up, the Wheel comes down, and that is just a part of life.  I waited tables for years, and a trick I had to learn to keep myself together was that of saving when times were good.  Some shifts brought in a couple hundred dollars; some I would have made more if I worked at McDonald's.  It's good to remember to save when we have money, and to spend judiciously at all times.  This isn't always easy for me, I know it's not easy for most people.  We have a few dollars in our pockets and after all, we deserve it, right?  Commercials tell us we're worth it and we want to believe it.

The World urges that we garner our worth from inner contentment.  The Wheel and the World are similar images, the spheres resting upon the lotus leaf.  There is nothing wrong with wanting abundance and prosperity, and even when we do not covet material things we all have to eat.  The bloom in the Wheel looks a bit trodden upon, though, while the World's sparkles.  I am reminded that even when I decide that groceries are a better use of my money than new boots, I am a very rich woman- children I adore, a man who is better than my wildest fantasies, a home to care for, talents to nurture, friends and family, and the beautiful blend when the two become one.

The combination of the two Majors bookcasing the Four of Pentacles also brings to mind the thought of hoarding time, which is the most precious resource we all have.  More money is findable, things can be replaced, but time is gone forever once its been squandered, and squandering time is one of my worst habits.  I lose it everywhere!  I have so many interests, and so many people pulling at me, but seeing the central figure demonstrates to me how important it is that I put the brakes on and make priorities, and then stick to them.  My family is first and foremost, then my art and business, and everything else has to fall in behind those things.

Crystal Visions Tarot- Three of Swords  

The shadow card today is the Three of Swords, a tangible reminder to look at things as they really are, and not as I might wish they were.  This card shows me when I need to grieve, but remind me not to get stuck in grief.  I have made mistakes, with time, with money, with my business, with my relationships, but they are not the sum total of who I am and what I have to offer.  They a just one piece, and making mistakes paves the way for success as we learn what doesn't work.

These cards are from Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Tea Leaf Tuesday - November 8, 2011

Tea Leaf Fortune Cards

This week it seems like I need to pay close attention to my health, which my doctors have already told me.  I'm experiencing a lot of change and different ways of doing things and some of that is being forced.  Having said that, I ate chocolate cake for breakfast and cheese sticks for lunch.  This is not my normal way of eating, and I did so before this not so subtle reminder that a body is a temple, but eating this way is not fueling my tired body for success.  I prepare healthy meals for my family three times a day, and get them up and moving as much as possible.  I hope that firecracker of Excitement does not have to do with a health crisis, but I am a firm believer that forewarned is forearmed and now that I know I can be extra diligent.  Cards do not make my destiny.  I do, but not always wanting to make the best decisions for my body and my health could definitely be my Mountain, a major challenge to overcome.  It could also indicate my Karma, having reaped what I have sown in the field of my health, and they are not all good seeds.

The Sun card of happiness and well being is the first card, and I think it carries the most weight, although I recognize that two cards referring to health, side by side, means something.  I am ridiculously happy with my life, with my husband, my kids, my writing, reading tarot.  Those are the things that matter most to me, and they are immutable.  They cannot be taken from me.  It seems that my lot in life is to love and be loved by people I cannot physically be near, and I am thinking of my distant friend too.

I just wanted you to know that these cards are available again, beautifully reprinted by U.S. Games Systems, Inc after having been unavailable or ridiculously expensive on the second hand market for years.  I have received a set, and if possible they are even lovelier than the original version!  So if you have always wanted some, hie thee to Amazon and order some up!

These cards are Tea Leaf Fortune Cards by Rae Hepburn, recently reprinted by U.S. Games Systens, Inc.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Daily Draw - Chariot, Star, Ace of Cups

Crystal Visions Tarot- Chariot, Star, Ace of Cups

"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!"

~Lyrics from "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor

Today these cards make me think about the love we have to have for what we do, and the fact that as much as we love, that is still never enough.

The Chariot, my birth card (for more information about birth cards check out Bonnie Cehovet's Tarot, Birth Cards, and You, Keys to Empowering Yourself.  It's a great book with practical ways to actually use tarot in your every day life!) is a card that shows victory, and charging forward, but it is does not just happen.  "Victory through mastery" is a common set of keywords for The Chariot, and mastery comes from doing, every single day.  I have heard the number 10,000 hours bandied about, and that seems pretty close to me the amount of time it takes to master something.

And what do you do to a Chariot?  You drive it, right?  Drive is both a quality and a verb, and both aspects are required.  Without the drive, those horses are gonna go any which way they choose, and Rush reminds us, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."  The Chariot is a card that is so promising, so positive, but is a card that requires action.  We will win, but we have to go after it, with every ounce of our being.  Victory is assured, as long as we show up and play our A game.  It won't just be handed to us.

The Star is a beautiful card, of hope and healing, beauty and poetry, but it is a far away card.  It's a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a far off light.  It does not illuminate, only promises that you are not forgotten.  To me, this card speaks today about the optimism and deep faith it takes to follow our dreams.  We have to really believe that it is possible, and we need that ten percent luck Fort Minor rapped about at times.

The Ace of Cups is all about love, and we have to love what we do.  Aces are potential, and as the culminating card of this reading I see that Drive + Unflagging Faith = Unlimited Potential for Love, which surely is an equation I can get behind.

Crystal Visions Tarot- Two of Cups
The shadow card for this reading is the Two of Cups, which is all about sacred contracts to me.  It's also pleasure and adoration, so while the work we are sent here to do is sacred, and there is nothing more important than being the best possible version of ourselves, it doesn't have to always be so serious.  We can approach life, and our own purpose, with a sense of love and fun.  I see the teeny little fairy in the background as the figure from The Star, having left her vessels representing hope and trust with the couple, and as they drink deeply and slake their thirst they become ever more what they were always meant to be.

These cards are from Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Monday Majors: Theme for the Week- The Hermit

Crystal Visions Tarot- Hermit
This week I am using the brand new Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  I am not even gonna lie; this has been one of my most anticipated decks of the year.  I love the purple dusky colors and the 80's fantasy feel of the deck.  What I do not like is the apparent return of U.S. Games to the stinky, slick lamination we all thought we had left behind, but I will save that for the forthcoming deck review.

My theme this week will be The Hermit; or learning to be wise.  This is an apt theme for me, and I know this.  I'm smart, and I am savvy, and I have a good amount of common sense, though I know I sometimes lack something when it comes to exercising it, but I am not always wise, and it may be a matter of quality  of life that I learn to be so.

The Hermit is all alone on the top of a mountain.  This tells me that looking to tv, to books, to the internet, to other people, for wisdom is just not gonna cut it in my world, not this week.

The Hermit bears a silver lantern, a light that shines out in the gloaming.  I love to read tarot because I love to light the way for people who are lost, but to be able to do that, I have to become wiser myself, and have my own affairs in order.  I know this, and I am working on it, day by day and issue by issue.  It's not really as arduous of a journey as it might sound, thanks to having already been on the journey, but it's never ending, and it's better to just realize that and go with it.

The Hermit is a teacher, and it is important that I take the advice of those smarter and more experienced than me.  I need to put ego aside and pay attention to the idea that as much as I know, there is always someone who knows more, and there is always more to learn.  I am a good reader, I know that.  I am a terrible business person, not because I don't care, but just because I don't know.  Ignorance can be remedied, though.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." ~John Muir

This card is from Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Back to the Blog

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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Comfort Me, Transparent Oracle

Have you ever seen Emily Carding's innovative round oracle deck, the Transparent Oracle, published by Schiffer Books?  It is really fun, and a perfect foil to her Transparent Tarot.  They can totally be used together.

I'm a bit in a funk after returning from my trip, and a bit nervous about what comes next as I am not too much looking forward to the next trip, on Friday, so I asked these clear round cards for some comfort.  My cards are Mercury, Gateway: The Celestial Realm, and Element: Fire, which you can see combined here.

Mercury is the planet of communications, as many of us have felt recently while it was in retrograde, and the Gateway card to the Celestial Realm combined with the element of fire suggests I will get comfort from checking the astrological chart for the coming weekend.  It would also likely help me to have some clear communications about what I expect, what is expected of me, and how to bridge the two.  Two of the cards I have are from the direction of Above, and the book's entry from the 13th card of Element: Fire advises that Fire combined with Above cards speak of the power of prayer and divine will.  To me, this suggests two things- One, that I will feel better about the situation through spending time in prayer and meditation, which is always sage advice, but being particularly pointed to it now is telling.  Two, some things about the upcoming trip, and just my life in general this week, are as they should be, are in accordance with the divine will of God, and I don't have a lot of options so I can let go and just trust.  The meditation part will probably help me feel calmer and more readily accepting of whatever may come, and I have been repeatedly been getting messages that meditation is what I need to move to the next level in many areas.  This also relates back to my weekly Tea Leaf Fortune Reading as I need to pay close attention to my health, and be aware of the Angel that is watching over me.  I'm not convinced I need a whole angel just for little old me, but I'll take what I can get.

These cards are from the Transparent Oracle by Emily Carding for Schiffer Books.

Daily Draw - Queen of Rings, Two of Wands, The Fool

My first thought upon seeing these cards was that was me, the Queen of Rings, dancing in the shower like I do, which makes me feel light hearted and happy, like the Fool card.  It also reminded me of the Zumba classes I have started, and how I feel kinda foolish as I learn the steps and moves, but how good it feels to move the body in joy.

Then I thought about how the Queen of Rings looks like she might be a little reticent, holding some of herself back, but the faery in the Two of Wands, she is all in.  She is acting like a focal point to draw all of that energy from the stars and into the plant she is nurturing, and the Fool is jubilant.  He is always an "all in" kinda card, for better or for worse.   I feel the Two of Wands is the fulcrum of this reading, because the position of her hands beckons to the practical Queen of Rings to let go, to experience freedom, while the hand nearest the haphazard Fool is grasping tightly.  I feel she is counseling balance, a blending of the two energies for the perfect mix that will allow the potential of the flower to burst into full bloom.

The shadow card for this reading is the Wheel of Fortune, more dancing!  It is a gentle reminder that while sometimes we just grasp the Wheel, hold on tight, and wind up wherever it takes us, more often we make our own luck, with our everyday choices, the things we tell ourselves, and preparing ourselves to ever become more fully the person we are meant to be.

If I view this reading through the lens of my Major for the week, the Devil, I realize that being a total slave to my obligations is another way of tying myself down, but that when I let go of all those things and just cut loose, still I am responsible for what may come of that.  It's a sobering, comforting, terrifying, thrilling thought, that I am the creatrix of my life, and my destiny, that I have the power to nurture and grow those things I desire, as well as the power to prune and pare away those that I do not, and when I have done it right, for at least one moment there is nothing but peace and joy and contentment where I am.  Then we start all over again, because this moment is all we really have, or are guaranteed.

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