Friday, November 15, 2013

Love on Friday- Blog Links

Here are some of the wonderful tarot-centric things I have been reading this week-

Lisa at Love Dove Tarot gives you 5 Signs That You Are Cheating Emotionally.

Angie at Thematic Tarot muses on Tabula-Got Danged Rasa.

Jenna at Queen of Wands Tarot wonders You're The Psychic, You Tell Me!

Elendil ponders The Best Approach.

Carla at Rowan Tarot listens to The Hierophant in An Apple A Day.

Zanna Starr at Tarot Notes tried out a new spread in Native Glyph Reading.

Secrets are exposed at Inner Whispers.

Are there any tarot blogs out there you love to read?  What are they?  Reading blogs is one of the best parts of most of my days.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review- The Tarot Activity Book

There are many tarot readers who prefer to work with the psychological aspect of the cards, using them as a guide to delve the depths of the psyche and map the road to self knowledge.  Even the traditional "tall dark stranger" type of reader can be of the most service to their client, and themselves, by learning to use the archetypal patterns and energies ever present in tarot cards to open dialogue between the reader and the deepest parts of themselves.

The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner is filled with activities and prompts to help the reader connect the cards with self exploration and explore them in a non-occult manner.  The publishers' summary specifically markets the book to art teachers and mental health professionals as well as tarot readers.

You all know I love a good quote, and this book is full of them.  Andy Matzner is a social worker, psychotherapist, life coach, and professor, so he certainly boasts the experience to bring such a book into being.  The language is simple and plain, which makes the book accessible to everyone, and the author is a proponent of keeping a journal to track the exercises and record your experiences.  This, in fact, is not so much a book to be read and absorbed, but a book to be experienced and worked through.  There are 271 pages of activities to experience and record and each of them.  There are also tactile crafts to do with the cards, and I suggest making a copy of your deck of choice on your printer so as to be able to throw yourself into the experience without worry of replacing a deck.

There are no explanations of the cards, which allows you as the reader to lean deeply on either your previous understanding of the cards or the way the images speak to you.  There are no rules in this book but to honor yourself and be prepared to be honest with yourself.

An example of the activities in the book is Strength/Weakness.


To understand that your greatest strength can also cause distress if you are not careful.


Think about the personal quality or characteristic that you are most proud of.  Or the one that people consistently have complimented you on.  What is it about you that truly makes you unique, or has served you well in life?  Could it be your dependability?  Or that you're a great listener?  Incredibly creative?  Deeply compassionate?

But there is always a shadow side side to a person's strength.  For example, a creative person might find it easier to focus on his art and not bother learning about the business side of things.  Or a compassionate person might find it hard to cut off a dysfunctional friendship.  Or someone who loves helping others might spend all of her energy giving her time away and be left with none for herself.

Your challenge is twofold.  First, to make sure that you acknowledge and honor your greatest strength.  Second, to recognize that if you're not careful, it can become a liability.


Go through your tarot deck and search for a card that you feel represents your greatest strength.  Using that card as inspiration, please answer the following questions in your journal:

  1. What is your greatest strength?  How do you know?
  2. How has your greatest strength positively impacted your life?
  3. Is there some aspect of your greatest strength that could be detrimental to your well-being?  How so?
  4. Can you remember a specific experience where this positive aspect of yourself actually ended up backfiring?
  5. What are some things you could do to prevent your greatest strength from becoming a liability?
You will know if this kind of introspection suits you, although I feel we can all use some of this from time to time.  When I do not know the answers to questions like this, I find that a good time to pull out cards for a conversation, too.  Most of the activities require that you choose the card that best expresses the energy you are dealing with, but they can also be easily adapted into spreads which help to recognize the answers.

I feel it should be said that I feel strongly that people who are not trained for it should not be counseling others, and it is unethical at best and damaging, not to mention, illegal at worst.  I also want to emphasize the fact that for me, this kind of inner dialogue is crucial, but that tarot is also valuable as a divination tool, and as my area of expertise is in using the cards to answer specific questions, I would not feel comfortable taking clients into some of these exercises.  That does not stop me from finding them invaluable for myself, though.

If you are looking for new things to do with your tarot deck, or if you are interested in administering self therapy at your own pace using tarot cards, you will enjoy this book.  If you are looking for occult roots or to learn traditional tarot, this book does not contain what you seek.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Daily Draw- So Much Energy!

Maybe it has to do with Mercury going direct yesterday, but really it has been months I have been fighting lethargy and battles with myself just to get the most basic of things done.  Yesterday I felt as if a cloud had lifted and I was inspired, no, even driven to complete projects begun long ago and make headway on new ones.  Whatever the reason, I am grateful for it and I will take it!

Still, I am interested in keeping this momentum going so I would like to know where the sudden burst of energy has come from so I have the best possible options to sustain it and make it into a way of life.  So I did what I usually do- I asked my cards where my energy has come from.
Bonefire Tarot- Queen of Wands, Knight of Swords

I am using a method outlined in Dusty White's Advanced Tarot Secrets, which has become my best friend in tarot reading over the past couple months.  He calls it "Hero and Sidekick" and it is basically a method for linking the cards and having them strike up a conversation.  As you look at a pair of cards, drawn in relation to a query, you decide which of them is the hero, the main card of the answer, and you use the other card as a sidekick, a way to modify the meaning of the first card and fine tune it to your reading and question.  This is a tool I find invaluable as I believe the nuanced message of each reading lies in the context of the reading, which is achieved with a specific question, a positional meaning, or the interaction between the cards (or any combination and whatever other methods you prefer).  Without these things, I am often left guessing where a card falls on its' spectrum of meaning.  Intuition is an important component in reading cards, but one of my favorite aspects of tarot cards is that they show up, always, even if intuition decides to have a margarita at the beach instead.

The Queen of Wands is the one I am least likely to associate myself with, as I am a practical and sensual, sometimes overbearing Queen of Pentacles to my core, sometimes a sharp witted, sharp tongued, clear seeing Queen of Swords, and less often but still reliably a sensitive and sometimes over empathetic Queen of Cups.  But the Queen of Wands, with her confidence and creative force, no not so much.  Clearly I need to channel some more of this fine and fast lady, because I owe this burst of energy to embracing a bit more of her archetype.  I am going to wear that hat, because damn!  I am hot because I'm fly.  At least I feel so today.

The Knight of Swords brings a burst of masculine energy, or maybe he is being brought by his white horse, fairly out of control, which to me symbolizes a new found willingness to work with what is unpredictable in my life, and to ride the energy, wherever it takes me, for as far as it will go.  It's a wild ride, but exhilarating.  The two together create a burning combination, with air to feed the fire, and water to control the boundaries of the flame so that it can be fully utilized without burning.  In practical terms, this means I am uniquely able at this time to channel my emotions and my skills into my work without letting the intensity of them bowl me over.  It is a balancing act, although that precarious Knight shows it is more about faith than skill right now.

Bonefire Tarot- Emperor
I had a bit of help interpreting the Queen of Wands as her Aries self in full glory because twice while shuffling The Emperor decided to take a flying leap out of the stack.  The Emperor rules over boundaries and gives structure to that which may otherwise lay about all loose-y goose-y not ever living up to its' full potential.  Or their full potential, as is the case with me.  I need structure and I know it.  I have been made acutely aware of that and rather than returning to an imposed structure of working for THE MAN, which is not possible anyway, I must take control of my own domain and impose a structure I can both work in and love.  With style.  Like the Queen of Wands.

Are you struggling with blocks in your creative, professional, personal life, or in your relationships?  Book a reading today and we can either power through them together, or softly fold them, wherever the cards lead us.  You may be surprised, as I was today, by who you find waiting for you on the other side!

These images are from Bonefire Tarot, self published by Gabrielle West.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thematic Tarot Post!

I am proud to be part of a group blog with many fabulous tarot thinkers at Thematic Tarot!  Come read my post over there- Grateful Is As Grateful Does?

Bonefire Tarot- Judgement

Bonefire Tarot- Judgment
Today's card comes an exquisitely rendered and self published deck, Bonefire Tarot, self published by Gabrielle West.

Whenever I see the Judgment card I have to decide quickly if I feel it is referring to the biblical Day of Judgment, a concept which can span any theology or none at all when we consider it a day of reckoning, or a second chance, or if I feel it referring to literal meaning of the word- to judge.

Tarot cards never fail to entrance and delight me by managing to convey so many nuances of life and love, and so as I look through this card as the lends for my week I know I am likely to see both, and even more, meanings emerge from the card.

I am immediately struck by the ticking clock, which is on fire, adding to the urgency of the situation.  Judgment Day is coming, and no one can stop it, and neither can we know for sure the time it will arrive.  This is a distinctly Christian idea, but we can all apply to our lives and our journeys because the truth is the time we have to act on Earth will end for all of us, regardless of religious beliefs, and we aren't given to know when.  We just have to do the best we can with our finite time and make it all count.  I feel that especially lately, as my kids have grown to the point they do not need constant care and attention but still a good deal of it.

The golden hammer and gavel speak to a judgment being passed, possibly from an impossible position, as the richness of the tool places firmly out of my (current) reach.

The tattoos across the face remind me of the song lyrics by Jordin Sparks- "You're still a part of everything I do, just like a tattoo."  We end relationships of all types for myriad reasons, and many of them are just because it was right, but many people leave their stamps on our souls and they remain there.  I have dreamt this past week of a former lover, which is exquisite in both the memory of the immense love and the pain it causes.  We couldn't stay together, not least because I belong where I am now, married to my handsome man and taking this family where we are all meant to be, but in that time and that place I believe utterly that we needed to be together, too.  I have to, or all the tears and the constant undertone of love that never leaves, even when physical presence does, were in vain.

Do you tend to read the Judgment card as a kind of phoenix, or do you feel the discomfort of being judged, or maybe the righteous smugness of doing the judging?

This card is from Bonefire Tarot, self published by Gabrielle West, who you can contact at her site-

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Deck Review- Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards is a 50 card deck and book set brought to us from the imagination of P.C. Cast and Colette Baron-Reid.  In small print on the back of the booklet I see that the design is credited to Danielle Deschenes and the illustration to Jenna DellaGrottaglia of Duirwaigh, Inc.

The deck is based on the young adult novel series, House of Night by P.C. Cast.  I have not read the books and I am not likely to, which speaks more to my time constraints and my preferred reading material than it does to the worthiness of the series.  So many books, both for fun and learning, and so little time.

Despite not having read the books this oracle is based on, I used it to great effect, paired with Mystic Dreamer Tarot.  I find there are two kinds of oracle cards.  The first has a system and you learn the system and use the imagery of the cards to intuit meaning.  Tarot falls into this category of oracle cards, as well as lenormands, playing cards, Sabian Symbols, and many other decks.  Obviously tarot is my preferred method of divination.  The second type of oracle deck is prominent in New Age stores and even regular bookstores, and those are the type with artwork on the cards, usually with a number as well, and you look up the card in the book to garner meaning, as well as using the particular imagery on the card.  These types of oracles usually have beautiful artwork and apt messages, but no formal system that can be defined and worked with.  Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards fall into the second category, as do most of the ubiquitous Doreen Virtue oracle decks.

 The cards are large, measuring just shy of 3.5 inches by 5 inches.  They are slick and flippy, shuffling easily, and showing fingerprints on the glossy finish, especially the mostly black backs, which is a shame because the artwork is lovely.  The cards are gilded on the edges with shiny silver, which adds to the special feel of the deck, and they come in a sturdy two part box, with a small but full accompanying guidebook.  The book includes a description of each card with a small black and white inset of the card, and suggestions for how they can be read when they occur in a reading, as well as spread ideas.

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards
The images are computed generated, and populated by characters of the novels as well as some still life vignettes and a few animals, mostly domestic cats.  As could be expected from the name, the colors are dusky.  There seem to be far more females than males in the deck, and the males, for a change, are the less clothed of the two.  They certainly are eye candy, and the females are young, nubile and lithe.  It is a bit incongruous to me to see a kitten next to a hard bodied, shirtless male torso, and I certainly would not feel comfortable exposing my 12 year old daughter to the images, at least not together because the mixed message of the sweet kitten next to the undeniably sexed up six pack abs would confuse her, I feel, but it certainly appropriate for older teenagers and adults.  There is no violence or nudity, but the deck is probably edgy for some audiences.  There are five High Priestesses in the deck, one for each element, and Spirit.

The images did not intuitively speak to me, but this is not my preferred type of oracle, and upon reading the entries for each card I could easily find the thread of meaning in the readings.  It is not this decks' fault that I am so closely aligned with the system of tarot, and there are many people who greatly enjoy this kind of oracle.  What I read in the guidebook did pique my interest in the novels the oracle is based on, but ultimately not enough to drive me to read the books.  Even so, the guidebook as written in such a way I believe anyone could use the cards for divination or personal development.  A friend who has read the House of Night series also bough the deck and raves over the way they interact with the books, so if you like the story, you may find the deck a worthwhile visual to add to your enjoyment.  This is not a deck that is likely to enter my rotation, but few oracle decks would make it there, anyway.  It is a deck I enjoyed using and found value in.  As always, your mileage may vary.

There is also an app available from the iTunes store for iOS devices.  I have not used it, but I do have several different card apps on my phone, iPad, and Kindle Fire and I find them fun and useful when I do not have the deck I want handy.

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

These images are from Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards by P.C. Cast and Colette Baron-Reid, published by Potter Style.

Deck Review- Mystic Dreamer Tarot

Okay, so my use of the Mystic Dreamer Tarot, illustrated by Heidi Darras, companion book by Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn, was a few months ago.  Life caught up to me and we all do what we can do, right?

My neglect of issuing my review has nothing to do with the deck, which I have had since its' release in 2008, and it was one of my first decks when I began to collect them in earnest.  It has to be said before we dive too far into the review that the images we who watched the progress of this deck with excitement came out substantially different, so you have to take the ones you got.  If you would like to see Heidi Darras' art before the publishing company changed them, the images are available on Deviant Art.  One of the things I have read her say, though, was that she loved seeing her work published, but she was quite sad about the treatment of the borders.  On a personal note, if this deck sells well enough I would love to see Llewellyn go back and do what I consider right by this deck, which would be no borders and like all their decks, I would like a sturdy inner box rather than the over sized one they give.

The companion book was written by Barbara Moore, and as one of her earliest offerings it is maybe not as polished as her more recent ones, but it certainly fits the deck well, with a dreamy quality to the writing and prompts that help the reader look for symbolism and learn to follow that inner voice to wisdom.  It weighs in at 240 pages of insight into the cards, from Barbara Moore, not the creator, a few spreads, and constant encouragement for the reader to consider what different aspects of the cards mean to them.  That repetitive prompting can wear a bit thin when you read the book from cover to cover, but I believe many newcomers to tarot will pick up this set and for people trying to find their way, the permission to listen to their own intuition can be a revelation and an important piece of learning to read the cards.
Mystic Dreamer Tarot- Back

In the deck, you can expect to find 22 Major Arcana, which are both titled and numbered with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI.  You will find the suits to be Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, containing Court Cards labeled Page, Knight, Queen, and King.  The cards are 2 inches by 4 inches with a reversible back.  The borders are meant to mimic parchment, and they have the triple sin, in my eyes, of being far too yellow, which detracts from the colors, much too large, taking up valuable space which could have been art, and untrimmable, which is my usual method for dealing with the first two offenses.  The cardstock is quite thin, though sturdy, and shuffle-able, though the borders will chip, which is the point of having borders, so that the art will not be damaged by shuffling.  The deck and book come in a large box meant to hold both together and a flimsy inner box which will do almost nothing to protect the cards and keep them together, as is standard in Llewellyn sets.  My set included a black organza bag, but I recently acquired a newer printing of another Llewellyn set.  My earlier printing came with the black organza bag but the newer one did not, so I cannot promise a Mystic Dreamer Tarot bought today will have one, not that you would be missing much.  Organza is nearly as ethereal as the atmosphere in these cards.

The artwork is computer generated, which I have found people to either love or to hate.  There are a couple images which I feel are a bit clumsy, especially in the face or the facial expressions, but by and large they are lovely and flowing.  Five years ago, when the deck was first released, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  As time has gone on and my tastes, and exposure to the art form, have progressed I no longer hold that view, but I still find the images haunting, done in a vaguely medieval/fantasy style.  The twilight hues are done no favor by the large border, and some of the models seem to be repeated through the cards, though you may not notice it or it may not bother you.  To my eye, the use of the moon and ravens as symbols are used so often that they cease have meaning in the deck, and there is little diversity in the skin tone or physique of the depicted characters.  Some are scantily clad, though there is no overt nudity, and there is no violence.  I consider the imagery safe for most audiences.

This is a good Waite Smith clone deck, with most of the images being reworked directly from that famous deck.  This tarot deck will appeal to those who want to work within that system and are drawn to this art.  I feel it is a good deck for beginners, and for anyone who is attracted to the art.  The book will not satisfy serious students and is not exhaustive, but it will do quite well for people who read intuitively or already have an understanding of the cards.

Mystic Dreamer Tarot
Mystic Dreamer Tarot
Mystic Dreamer Tarot

These images are from Mystic Dreamer Tarot by Heidi Darras and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn.

Deck Review- The Healing Tarot

The Healing Tarot: 78 Ways to Wellness comes to us from the artistic rendering of Monica Knighton and the deep tarot knowledge of Juno Lucina, and is published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

This is a a deck rendered in black and white line drawings with a modern twist on Waite Smith imagery.  It can be used as you would use any other tarot deck, but it has a particular emphasis on doing the ever controversial tarot reading about health.  This is accomplished through the use of Medical Astrology translated into tarot specific imagery.

The deck comes in a magnetic closure box which measures a very manageable 6 inches by 9 inches.  I mention this because some older Schiffer box sets are housed in unweildly boxes which have to be stacked on most bookshelves rather than shelved upright.  Included is a comprehensive companion book of 192 pages written by Juno Lucina, who is the author of The Kingdom Within Tarot and The Alchemy of Tarot: Practical Enlightenment Through the Astrology, Qabalah, & Archetypes of Tarot.  She describes herself as "an empress by design and a star by nature. Ever fluid and changing, Juno is more a verb than a noun, more an introduction than a conclusion. She wishes that All awaken from Vishnu's dream, to see the truth and embrace All That Is. Juno is just a Story pointing the Way."  She includes a quote and a short essay about the meaning of each Major Arcana, astrological correspondences, traditional meaning (which of course must be read through the lens of the authors' experience, but I largely agree with her) and meanings specific to a health reading.  The Minors lack the essay and detailed astrological correspondence, but include the rest of the information, which is an excellent starting point for reading any deck of tarot cards.  A small image of each card is included next to or above its' text and the book is well done.

The Healing Tarot- backs
The cards come on glossy 3 inch by 5 inch stock, which my average size hands had no trouble shuffling, although decks on this stock do tend to be a bit stiff and sticky right out of the box.  The most recent deck I received published by Schiffer, Bleu Cat Tarot by Beth Seilonen, is on a much silkier and matte card stock, so they appear to have changed what they usually use.  The backs are reversible, and reversed meanings for health readings are included in the book.

The suits contain 22 traditionally named Major Arcana, which are titled but not numbered, so you can place the cheeseburger eating Strength card and Justice wherever makes sense to you in the ordering.  Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles round out the the Minor Arcana suits.  The Court Cards consist of Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings.

The artwork is black and white, with imagery that mixes modern imagery with more traditional Waite Smith imagery and alchemical and astrological symbols, as well, of course, various body parts and possibilities of ailments.  Whether this is successful or not depends in large part on the reader, to the degree these images stimulate the intuition and the readers' understanding of the symbols used.  My fear with this deck is that it will not get used as often as it may otherwise because it required me to sit with the book in hand, which was okay for me, here at home, but I would never offer anyone a reading with a deck I needed to look each card up for.  I do not have time to commit the cards to memory, and that will inhibit its' use to private only.

To my eye, which is of course subjective, some of the images point immediately to the specific health related issue, while others were more oblique.  It is an ambitious undertaking to try to portray both meanings to use in a regular reading (I hesitate to use the words "traditional meanings" or "usual meanings" as there will be as many answers as there are readings) as well as to point to specific health problems, and for me, this deck is not always successful in doing both, or even either, but I always encourage people to see and judge the images for themselves because everyone responds to images in a different way.  Even so, it has been an enjoyable deck to work with, and the times I understood, and even found a card brilliant, far outweighed my "Huh?" moments and I will happily use the deck again.  An activity I particularly enjoyed was making a large copy of a card and coloring it in, although I only managed it with one.  It was soothing and made me take the card in a new way.

The Court Cards are quite unique, without a throne or a mounted horse to be found.  According to the medical astrology used, the King of Wands speaks to issues of the head.  Well aspected it points to taking risks with new medical technology, the book counsels, while ill aspected it has to do with any issues around the head, like aches, stroke, even toothaches.  The Queen of Cups, according to the book, is concerned with the breasts.  The Page of Swords concerns herself with legs, and the very non-traditional Knight of Pentacles deals with the intestinal tract and optimal (or not) nutrient absorption.  I leave you with the images to decide if they speak of these things to you.
The Healing Tarot- King of Wands, Queen of Cups, Page of Swords, Knight of Pentacles

Using this deck will of course bring up the question of using intuitive or psychic abilities to discern physical ailments, which is hotly debated in tarot communities.  The answer for me is that I will read on medical issues for myself, my family, my pets, but not for clients or friends, because I will promptly follow my readings with a visit to the doctor or vet regardless of the cards information because if it was important enough to ask my cards it is certainly important enough to ask my doctor, and I cannot in good conscience give anyone else medical advice based on the cards without being sure they will follow up on it.  Of course, I say that as a person blessed with very good health insurance, and I have no judgement for people who feel they have no option but to look at cards for answers.

For me this is a niche deck with appealing artwork that I am glad to have in my collection, and certainly will use, but it is not a deck I am likely to become intimate with.  For the person who likes to study and memorize meanings, they may enjoy the system in this deck a great deal and become quite good at using it for health readings.  Of course any deck with artwork that appeals will work well for the purely intuitive reader, and I end this review with some cards for you to judge for yourself.
The Healing Tarot- High Priestess, Strength, Death
The Healing Tarot- Devil, Star, World
Healing Tarot- Four of Wands, Queen of Wands, Ace of Cups
The Healing Tarot- Six of Cups, Two of Swords, Seven of Pentacles