Sunday, December 18, 2011

How to get your cards to talk to you (effectively & in plain words)

Three easy lessons here: three easy exercises. These are each designed to help you develop your dialog with the cards instead of being forced to memorize keywords and phrases, or see them as some spooky coded message. They are, after all, only scraps of paper with printing on them. Get any of that "mysterious tarot" crap out of your head. YOU are the mysterious being scientists are still trying to figure out (they should use astrology  much easier that way). The tarot  or any oracle deck for that matter  is only a VISUAL TOOL to stimulate the psychic processes inside you. Leave all of the superstition to movie directors and people who come to you for a reading.  It may feel like I am robbing you of the romance of the tarot, but trust me  when you can see the distant past and future ACCURATELY, there will be enough romance of the tarot to go around. Superstition only clouds your perception and distorts the translation of psychic impulse to cognitive awareness. You will learn this sooner or later; best learn it now (free). So here are three fun exercises I would like you to do over the next few weeks. You can do them anywhere, but having a deck on hand really helps. If you have taped up your deck (like I tell you to in The Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot— EVER!!)  this will help with the first two exercises.

Noun: Simply think up a noun (person, place, or thing  event, location . . . ) and pick a card out of your deck to represent that. Give yourself no more than five seconds to do this, fifteen if you get stuck. It is important not to over-analyze this or get too picky about which card is "most exact." When you are reading for people ("in the real world" not in practice or tarot school) you will find that the cards have to have several variations of meaning. They cannot possibly be accurate if they only have 78 meanings (or 156 if you count reversals). Keywords and phrases don't work. They limit your thinking and they are a barbaric way of teaching the tarot. While it is best to study the traditional meanings of the tarot so you know what the artist who designed your deck was intending, and what people have figured out over the years, do not buy into any of the add-ons to the tarot taht just don't resonate with you. The most important meaning any card can have is the one that is right in front of you  right now. You will see this in real life readings. These exercises help you loosen up your attitude on the cards and free them to speak candidly with you, not stilted, and in only formal terms.

Always remember: divining the future is not a "logic-based" activity or we could just have computers predict for us  and don't think corporations don't spend billions of dollars trying. To correctly divine the future we must interpret the visions, symbols, and impulses correctly. We can't do that if we limit the vocabulary that we allow our tools to use when they speak to us.

Here is an example of how to do this exercise. I will give you a noun: "Taxi cab, or taxi driver."

Now I want you to go through the deck and pick out a card that represents that (occupation or physical object). When I pose this to my students, 99% of the time they say, "The Chariot." This is a good card, but I correct them that this is more weighty, more like an airline pilot or a bus driver, as The Chariot implies autonomy, authority, responsibility, and it may mean many other occupations.

But specifically the 6 of Swords (at least in W/S symbolism) shows us a man in a gondola ferrying across his charge. This may be the husband or a professional gondolier. If a taxi driver or chauffer came to you for a reading this would make a good significator card, or if it came up in a job spread it would be a good indicator of being someone who transports people around for money. Given that The Chariot is more bold and authoritative, that card may be more suited for a white collar job or even a military career by comparison.

These are just guidelines, not facts cast in stone.

Another example: Noun . . . Church, or temple. Well, without even having to put any thought into it three cards come to mind: the chapel in the 4 of Swords, the arch in the 3 of Coins (Pentacles), and the stained glass window set into the wall of the 5 of Swords.

Any of these would be a good "instant answer." Each card has its nuances, the 4 of Swords could also serv as a museum card or a funeral home. It is all about picking a simple common noun and assigning a card to it without adding any stress to your life.

This exercises teaches you to see the cards from a slightly different perspective and relax your mind, remove a lot of the superstition that people like to pile on tarot cards. It makes you a better reader fast because it helps the cards speak to you. If you have a tarot buddy you can do this as a simple game: One person says a noun and the other goes through the deck and comes up with a card. If you have the cards spread out the process goes much faster.

Verb: This is the same exercise but with an action. Let's say you open the fridge and discover you are out of milk. So you run to the store to get some. This is a simple daily action; no big deal. So let's pick a rather unobtrusive "minor" Arcana card to represent this action. How about the 8 of Cups? He threw on a cloak (jacket) and is headed off to the corner store. There is no reason he "has to be" abandoning his home and happiness, the crescent moon showing the emptiness he feels and the full moon showing his desire for fulfillment. You have heard me say this before, but I would have drawn the crescent moon, as a reflection of the full moon, in the water. Much more symbologically correct.

So "Verb" can simply be anything you do throughout the day: eating dinner. Why not any of the Cups cards? (2, 3, 4, Page, and so on. .  .) Each card might signify drinking versus eating, or being full/not wanting seconds (4), overindulging (3?), maybe a buffet (7), or even the 4 of Wands. If you do not like these cards when you should find a card that say "eating diner" to you. Because if you cannot pull a card that say "eating dinner" you cannot read the tarot. The tarot, as a system, must be able to describe ANY EVENT OR ACTION in life or it is a flawed system. It is not about ambiguities or vague notions. It points you in the direction of an answer as clearly as the 78 illustrations will allow (in singletons or card combinations) and your mind must tie the impulse you receive as a result to the real life situation at hand.

A word here: The cards do not spell out events and situations. This is a common misconception among tarot authors and casual students alike. Tarot cards ONLY "speak" to you. They are a visual alphabet that triggers your mind to realize the link between their image and the issue at hand. ALL of the magic happens inside you. The cards must be properly placed in a spread to give you valid answers: you can't just pick cards at random without tuning in and getting the order delivered to you (shuffle, cast). But the actual reading part is not the cards telling you something. They are only sparking impulses in your mind to create the chain of though that  leads you to the answer. Without your skills and talent (learned and natural abilities) they are rather useless.

Also while you are sitting in front of the TV . . .

Simply watch life happen. This is easiest if you are watching the news, because the news (reports of daily events) is so chaotic. you never know what's coming up. When the reporter says something that sparks that interest in your head simply draw a card and glance at it. Do not put any weight or validation to this card. Just see what comes up. Here we are training you to "hear" (physically and psychically) that "ding" inside your head that something was said of importance, or that someone just lied, or there is some reason that bit of information needs to be fleshed out. In comic book terms we are developing your "Spidey sense." This is a very real teaching we use in mystery schools. Do this, as basic as it sounds. Practice it for years and you will develop a BS detector that stuns people when they discover you have this talent. Eventually you will no longer need the cards.

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Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Did you know . . .

. . . that in 1701, 80 years before the lie originated that "the tarot came from Egypt"or had ANY connection or it at all—there were so many variations of card designs in France that they actually had to pass a law "standardizing" what images were to be allowed on tarot cards?

The tarot has always been a trump-game, and at times so popular, with so many artists and card makers trying to place their own version of it in the forefront of popular society that there were literally hundreds of different images. Large variations, small variations . . . all based on the whim and whimsy of the card manufacturer's in-house artist(s). The government had to step in and say, "enough is enough!" The tarot we have today is in large part based on the Tarot de Marseille, but even that was a deck that was manufactured in several parts of Europe and may have had its own variations due to local artist influence, skill, and design preferences of the region. 

Think about this the next time someone tries to con you into believing that the images on the tarot are anything other than government/mega-church influenced images. The "spiritual symbolism" and "journey of the fool" is a nice bedtime story but it is less true mystery school doctrine than it is wishful thinking mixed with government/religious propaganda of the 18th century. 

Oh, believe what you will, but here is some nice proof of my assertions in brief. ( A little valid research will prove even more. I don't say these things to be a curmudgeon (I am still a bit young to be one of those anyway, but I like the term). I do decry bullshit though, especially that which authors attempt to make vast amounts of money on. History will prove them fools and charlatans (and how out of date is THAT word?) but for now as long as they can pay their rents selling snake oil I suppose there will be people who believe anything.

Learn the tarot. Read the tarot. Develop your skills, but please; don't buy into the hype-machine that the tarot is anything more than it is: a fun game that over time has become a fun divination tool. One of many to be certain, but a rather good one given how many minds have gone into making it so. And always remember, no matter where the tarot came from what matters more than any thing else is that it works for you. Better to spend your time practicing with it to develop your psychic abilities (which we all have, but in slightly different strengths ;-) than to spend too much time trying to make it any more mystical than it is. It is only a deck of cards after all.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quick disclaimer (please take a moment to read)

Hey kids

I was just watching an old episode of the Twilight Zone (the Rod Serling TV series from the '60's—hmmm . . . is it time to start calling it the "1960's" yet? After all we are in a new century and who knows how long this post will be up). Anyway, if you are not familiar with it, The Twilight Zone (that is a link to Youtube)  was not for everyone. It is an all-time classic now, but it was definitely a niche show, and that is the point of this post. I want all of you to become Twilight Zones.

I have spent my life examining the world from a philosophical view; it is simply in my blood, who I am. I have studied magic, divination, religion, and philosophy since first awareness. Sometimes I wished I would have studied high finance, or how to become a celebrity—those paths seem to be more physically rewarding. I see things differently than most people it seems. I am adamant on things like truth in metaphysics and the destruction of superstition and lies perpetuated through the generations to make way for real truth and workable magic that gets you results you can see, touch, taste, and feel. This puts me at odds with many "experts" (and pseudo-experts) in the fields of metaphysics and divination. I am a niche in a sense, and I know I am "not for everyone." Many people desperately want to cling to fantasy and try to make it their reality, even if at the end of their lives they fail miserably. I simply cannot do that. I must find answers that work, are repeatable, and can be passed on to future generations.

So you will read here, and in my books, on my websites, and hear in my audio lessons and interviews, more than my opinions. You will be subjected to my philosophy on magic and divination and philosophy, even as I try to remain objective and allow everyone to believe whatever it is that makes them happy. I do not apologize for this and I don't want you to ever apologize for what you believe in, as long as it works for you and creates real, tangible results you can see, touch, taste, and feel. It is my "job" in life, my mission to help you evolve, even beyond what I have been capable of. I am here to help as much as I can for as long as I can, and then I will be somewhere else, learning and doing, and hopefully helping out.

In the course of all of this I will present the viewpoints of others: students, experts, artists, teachers, and authors. I may present points I strongly disagree with but see as valid enough that you should be exposed to them. Other times, like my previous post about the Joker in playing cards, I will refute lies and misinformation that is poisoning the well of current accepted knowledge. I will leave it up to you to do even a little research to verify that what I say is true, or if you do deep research and find I am wrong on anything I am eager to see proof where I have erred so that I may correct it.

I want you to stretch yourself beyond your perceived limitations and grow to your fullest extent, to find the lasting happiness so many seek (and often fail to attain). This blog, and the associated websites and books are  on the subject of tarot, but other times we will explore astrology, energy work, manifestation, confidence, popularity, and prosperity. It is my belief that to find happiness you must find a balance of responsibility which creates self-worth, pleasure, and evolution, so that you overcome obstacles that plague so many in this world.

Now, on a side note, given the basic capitalistic state of affairs our global society runs on, we all need to pay the rent. I can pay the rent by working a mundane job that has nothing to do with helping people, and squeeze in a few hours a week doing the great work or I can pay my bills by working full time to help as many of you as I can. I choose the latter. To this extent I will occasionally point you to products and services you may benefit from. I will never suggest anything that I have found to be a scam, or questionable. If I suggest an author whose views I personally disagree with and have a link to their products or services I may make that link an affiliate link, meaning that if you decide to try their style of teaching I may get a tiny commission of the sale. I want to make sure this is clear as I believe in transparency. I am not here to sell you products. I am here to help, and in that process things like books, videos, seminars, and so on may cost money. That is the way of life. Until health care is free (don't hold your breath on that ever happening) and my mechanic fixes my car for free, food being free, rent being free, and of course my internet connection :-)  . . . I think you get the idea. Until all of that happens it is natural that we all must find a way to earn money to survive and thrive.

It is not for me to tell you how to live your life but I hope you will provide real value to the world around you and know the labor and psychic expenditure you put forth has value. I want you to be the best readers the world has ever seen, unconstrained by false beliefs and ludicrous superstitions that hold so many back. I want people to value you, and the gifts you give to them. I am here. I am me, and not much else. I make no claims of supernatural powers. In fact all of us have abilities others would find amazing if we only knew ourselves and honed those abilities.

Find yourself. I can help you do this. Any competent astrologer can help you find your special psychic powers. But find them. Train yourself, even if "you have no time," because time is the only thing you truly own. We all make "deals with the devil" meaning that we all trade our time for work, family, or whatever responsibilities that demand we sacrifice our dreams and goals to the realities of the life we choose. We all have obligations and distractions. But make some time for yourself and find out who you are. Let me help, or get someone who will. No matter what your religious views are knowing yourself is paramount to success and happiness, and will cut years off of your attempts to find happiness. Knowing who you are tells you what you want and like.

This life, whether a one-shot deal, or one of many, is the only life you have right now. It is the only one that counts. Make something of it. Make yourself happy and bring value to the world by being that amazing super-human who lives inside you. Pick one thing and perfect it. Become a niche. You may "not be for everyone." No one is. That is the problem with religion; there simply is no "one size fits all" and the more we try to force our beliefs on others the more we are like a shoe salesman who tries to sell everyone the same exact shoe—one pair; forever. No choices but this shoe. Take the time to be you, and I will be me. I hope to god we can all find a way to get along. But until then just be you and I will try to understand and help you along. I hope you will do the same for others, even when we disagree.

Thanks for reading.

Joker does not equal Fool

Well howdy! (I have a Texas accent today because we are's about uhxploar gamblin!)

The Joker, in modern playing card decks is often thought to be a direct descendant of the Fool. This myth is so pervasive that many pseudo-scholars have lined up in a parade to pass on this misinformation.

Well, they are wrong and should be made to eat poo for banging the drum and spreading so many lies that now the general tarot reading public simply assumes it is true "because it says so on the internets." The Joker was only recently added to French card decks, which have had tarot decks for over five centuries. You see, it was the French scholars who invented "the tarot" as we know it. At the time (circa 1790) they thought the old Italian cards were heiroglyphics from "Ancient Egypt" which was thought to be the well-spring of all things Occult. This has caused centuries of misinformation and to this day pseudo-scholars who refuse to do the most basic academic research claim the Tarot is Egyptian and that "no one knows its origins" when we can clearly trace it from China to the middle east (but not "ancient Egypt--this is more like the 1300's) and into Italy, Germany, then France, and finally centuries later reinvigorated in France and still later reinvigorated in England by one Arthur Edward Waite.

It is very upsetting that the scientific information is easily found but the vast number of "tarot experts" persist in clinging to outdated beliefs. All one has to do is look at any tarot website or read a book on the tarot with a highlighter to mark the glaring errors. These are not opinions; these are proven facts and it is sad that we, as pagans, look like idiots for swallowing such tripe without ever thinking. Oh well. But...

Also, the Joker evolved from the game of Euchre, and almost immediately spread to Poker, which was all the rage at the same time as Euchre. Original "Jokers" were not Jokers at all, or Jesters, or Fools. They were the best or imperial bower or bauer (as in Jack Bauer, which is funny because the whole thing ties into Jacks--whomever created the show 24 has some secret voodoo knowledge and hid clues in plain sight for those in the know; a subtle nod to signal other adherents).

So . . . let us put this to rest. This information comes from the International Playing-Card Society, who has a stake in recording card history.

So let's not add wishful thinking to the dog pile of myths about the tarot. Okay, now get practicing!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What is a spread and why do you use one?

A spread is an organizational chart for cards. It is a basic structure, or set of rules, to add an extra layer of depth to your readings. The cards tell the story, but the spread marks the plot points (the juicy parts).

Let's say you are doing a one-card reading. This means you ask a question and pull "one card." This is useful for simple, or trivial, spreads. I see too many people relying on them however and then they ask what it means. What it means is that they have been trained poorly by self-study or bad books on the tarot (and there are no shortage of those). Something as important as knowing the future is worth the time and expense of hiring a decent teacher or at least buying a GOOD BOOK and really studying. Don't be lazy; we have enough people who are who pretend to read the tarot.

So with one-card you can answer simple yes/no questions by whether the card is a certain suit, or if it is reversed, or what number it is, whether it is a "major" Arcana or not. Simple stuff, but hardly informative. Generally for more detailed information you want to add more cards, not try to extract and entire reading's meaning out of one card. The point where this becomes absurd is usually above ten cards in a single spread that is dealt all at once. Asking your deck (the gods, your spirit guides, etc.) to answer everything all at once with a minimum of shuffling and using every available card means that you will have to cast ten thousand times to get the right answer (the actual truth--not an answer you like). 

Tarot cards work on random probability augmented by "divine intervention" (for lack of a better term) and interpreted by your psychic sense and cognitive awareness. Logic is the final step in the process, as if you try to apply it too early you will eviscerate the connection that allows you to gather information from the ether and your egoic self will commandeer the process and you will be relying on your personal judgments and biases, NOT on any real assistance from the collective awareness (or whatever you want to draw from).

So, short simple spreads work. Cast the appropriate number of cards (usually 1-12 but even more often 4-10) and seek your answers based on the spread you are going to use, and if necessary use clarification cards to help or open cards up to determine their hidden meanings. Note: All of this is covered in The Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot—EVER!! but don't let that hold you back from learning if you are dead broke and can't afford even one book on the tarot. Get free lessons We have lessons and a free tarot podcast to help you (with homework!) Use these resources

Know in advance what spread you are going cast (cast: throw or deal cards) or you will get unreliable results. Study the spread before you cast it. A good exercise that is 100% free and will teach you more on how to use the tarot than many books I have suffered through is to simply cast your favorite spread face down. Don't shuffle the cards and do NOT turn the cards over. The actual cards are irrelevant at this point. You are looking at the positions themselves. Look at the meaning of each card position (shortened to the abbreviation "CP" as in CP1, CP2, etc.) and establish in your mind what that CP means. Imagine any random card (of your choosing) in that spot. Just see what that says to you generically. Do this with all of the card positions in that spread. 

Now compare and contrast a few card positions. After this try combining a few (start with two and after a few passes try combining three) to get the feel of this. This one exercise will strengthen your ability and your confidence when reading fro a real-life situation with a real-life person sitting across from you.

Let's use the Celtic Cross (or "CC")  spread as an example. The version of the Celtic Cross spread I use can be found in The Easiest Way to Learn the Tarot--EVER!! I was just looking through a few books in my tarot library and found the version I use in Power Tarot. If you have that book, but not mine, flip to page 236 and find it there.

So... let's compare and contrast the most obvious: CP7 versus CP9. These two spots are extremely helpful in determining exactly what your querent is asking as they show first their fears and then their desires. If their fears (CP7) are stronger than their desires (CP9) than you know that they are fighting against themselves, or that there are outside circumstances holding them back. Check CP8 to see what other people are saying/doing/thinking. Is this (CP8) a supportive environment or is it harmful to their progress. Again, we are just looking at the backs of the cards, making the card positions tell us what the real story is behind the question. The final outcome (CP10) is highly dependent on these factors. The final outcome may be bright and sunny only to have limitations placed on it by the querents inner attitudes or the support or jealousies of other people involved in the reading. You can't give accurate answers just by looking at the last card in the spread.

John Donne, Elizabeth's master poet and spiritual advisor penned a famous poem entitled "No man is an island." Pardon he inherent sexism as that was the coin of the realm at the time. Let's witness his genius together:

No man is an island entire of itself; 
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, 
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, 
as well as a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; 
any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
it tolls for thee. 

The cards of ANY spread are no different. Past, present, future. All are intertwined. In a spread you can cast three cards and try to make them distinct and separate entities but they all blend into one existence, one enduring experience. The future rules us all, as it is our past efforts that were all accomplished in the hopes of the present, which was our future then. Our present is a slave to the future. We do things today to make our existence tomorrow bearable. All eyes are on the future even as we toil to make it to our desires. Thus it is with the tarot. All of the cards in a spread work for the employer who is that fateful, final card. 

Continuing. The crowning card, or CP5 affects CP10 and could come to be. It hangs over us as surely as CP6 must be passed through. Combine these cards after comparing them. First, we see what could be, what looms overhead, the spectre, or overtone of the situation. Is it congruous (or sympathetic) with CP's 6 and 10? If the cards line up to show a parade of activity and intent all in lock-step toward a final outcome then the future is assured unless a violent break from the path ("drastic action") is undertaken. If the cards are inharmonious and bickering then it shows problems and missteps that sour the victory, even if the final card is glorious. Combining them, do we see a pattern or patterns within patterns? Are these three cards all "major" Arcana? Are they of the same suit? Are they of similar meaning? Without straining yourself can these cards blend or are they inharmonious, or even indifferent to each other? It is by knowing your spread and how the card positions interact that we gain multiple layers of meaning from simple cards in a simple spread.

As this is getting long I wills top here and leave the experimentation to you. Do your favorite spread and take the steps I have outlined above. Compare and contrast the various card positions (CP's) and blend them. Get a feel for what would happen if supportive or conflicting cards showed up. Do this only with the card backs showing. The very next time you read using this spread you will be amazed at how much more information you get.

I am always available for private teaching if you need help. My rates are one-fifth of what they should be, so I would advise you get help now, or find a teacher you can learn from locally. If you have my book post all of your questions at the ATS forums where we can work this out together, with the help of other students and the occasional teacher. And don't forget to sign up for the easy tarot lessons (free) at The sign up form is very simple, takes all of three seconds, and is at the top of every page of that site.

Never quit. If you get frustrated get help. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A different way to learn the tarot

Hey kids,

So I have been following something new and as much as I believe in my own style of teaching and thank all of your for allowing me to help you learn the tarot, I have come across a wonderful lady who teaches tarot through video. All it all it is very affordable, being about ten dollars an hour (she just raised her price last week, but only by eight dollars (US) so that is not a big deal.

I could listen to her all day. I love her voice and she is genuinely helpful and very caring in her desire to help people learn the tarot. She offers a few free mini-lessons including a very long tour of her favorite decks. I tried to watch these but failed, however she was entrancing and charming in her presentation. She is completely comfortable in front of a camera and is most likely a professional on-camera reporter or newscaster or something like that.

What this shows me though is that for what she is offering (6 hours of video training) she is qualified for her task and proficient in getting her message across. I disagree with some of her teaching methods (but only mildly) but I want to present her to you because she may be just what *you* are looking for. Even if she is not you really must hear her speak. This is her site:

So, as I come across interesting alternatives to my style of teaching I will let you know, but only if they are top-notch quality and free (or at least mostly free) of outdated superstition or dogma that just gets in the way of you learning and mastering the tarot. Give Laura (that's her name) a listen. My recommendation is to watch her free videos (although you might skip through some of the two "tarot tour" videos as they are extremely in-depth on decks--but she does know her stuff). See if this is something you want to pursue and don't worry about the price. Just pay attention to her. She is very good at what she does and she wants you to learn.

In the meantime, the new site is up and running at and we have audio and print lessons ongoing, with more being added every week, and I am already looking into video. I wish I could get Laura (above) to record my video lessons for you as she really is a gem.

As always; thanks for reading. :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Easy Tarot Lessons: Lesson one-- start here

Staring at a spread that won't give you solid answers is frustrating. Spreads that are unclear or seem to wander away from the querents question (querent or petitioner = one who is asking/seeking) do a lot of harm to your ego. They delight in making you feel incompetent. When you are facing down a spread that refuses to cooperate you might be tempted to wonder if you shuffled enough or "did it right." This is a problem most (if not "all") Tarot students experience time after time. It is recurring. It is pernicious. And it is a pain in the butt!

Fortunately this problem can be solved with the following exercise. This exercise requires a fair amount of practice. It may seem simple and obvious, so much so that you would hardly consider it valuable, but the amount of time you do this exercise will determine how much the cards open up to you. This is the foundation of all advanced Tarot knowledge. I do this exercise to this day (but obviously not "every day" any more), even after several decades of reading and teaching the Tarot. So, got your deck handy? (I will wait) . . . 

. . . Okay I am timed of waiting. Let's begin:

Step one: If you are an absolute beginner do this step. If you like to think of yourself as proficient with the Tarot do this step. If you are a Tarot master you can skip this step. Remove all 22 "major" Arcana cards from your deck and set them carefully aside. Don't put them near a candle or anything wet. As obvious as this sounds please trust me on this. You don't want your cards to get bent, folded, or knocked over (wax on them, wet . . .) and you will forget about them within a few minutes of doing this exercise. Also, turn each card so that it is facing "up." We don;t need any reversed cards for this exercise as they will only slow you down.

Step two: With your deck prepared ("major" Arcana carefully set aside and all of the cards facing the same direction) you can shuffle the deck or have them in the order of your choosing. Just make sure they are facing "down" so you can't see their faces. Now . . .

Flip a card. 

That was easy, eight? So, what does the card look like? Is it cluttered with things and activity? It is a "busy" card or is it sedate, lazy, relaxed? How much is going on in this card? If you were the photographer of this picture--you were right there snapping the pic as it happens would you say it was loud or quiet? Are people shouting or making noise? Are they polite or argumentative? Is there music? If there is music is it light and charming or festive (dancing music)? Who is the "star" of this picture? Who is most important and are they happy? Do they fit into their world or does it conspire against them? Is this card a comedie or a tragedie? (roughly: happily ever after ending or sad ending) Is the card authoritative? Is it "a day in the life" card or an event? These questions you ask of the card help you get inside it and see what is really going on in the picture.

The Tarot is a visual divination tool. It's purpose and usage is based in "what you see" and little else. To kame (Na'vi word for "see" or "see into") it you need to be able to understand the relation of its participants. Don't underestimate the importance of this exercise. This one exercise will help you become a reader of legendary ability if you stay with it. But that is for later, after years of "real-world" experience. Right now let's just look at some examples. I will use the Rider-Waite, or "Rider/Waite-Smith" deck as it is the most popular deck in the world and the foundation of almost every modern Tarot deck. No matter what deck you are using please draw the appropriate card from your deck now and look at it and compare it to what "I see."

7 of Swords This seems to be a thief sneaking away from camp with other people's swords. If you look closely you can see silhouettes of people in the background. Presumably these are the warriors whose swords are being stolen. If this is the case (that the "main character" is a thief) then we are looking at something being stolen or someone "taking the wind out of someone else's sails". He is (seems to be) removing their ability to fight. After all how can you go to war without your sword?

But what if it is a practical joke? That could be what we see. Or he could be dancing. One of my students insisted this guy was dancing. So be it. Maybe he is. Maybe he is doing "the forbidden sword dance of Sheba." Perhaps he is gathering the swords because the idiots in the background DID go to war without their swords and he was ordered to go back to get them.

What is the most obvious scenario to you right now? Next Thursday when you see this card again you may have a different opinion of what is happening and that is just fine. Does he look like he is succeeding (getting away with his practical joke or theft, or whatever)? Does he have any opposition? Is anyone directly confronting him? Is it raining on him? (Yeah, yeah, there is almost no weather to be found in the Tarot)

Let's try another card . . . 

Ten of Coins Okay, so here we have an old man sitting in a chair petting a dog. In the mid-background is a woman talking/flirting with a man ho holds a spear and a small child trying to pet the doggie who is ignoring him/her. Beneath the layer of coins we can see that on the arch post are coats of arms and an expensive woven tapestry (rug) that shows a scene of power. It could be a painting but it is doubtful as it is outside, or at least exposed to the open air. Nonetheless we seem to be in town or on the estate grounds. Gauging by the fact that there are ten coins and a man with a spear (facing away from the old guy) this is probably a wealthy home. 

Everyone looks happy here. The old man does not seem to be in prison or uncomfortable. His hair is not bedraggled and he has a long flowing beard. This seems to suggest (for the time it was drawn in) that the man has wealth. He is a man of power and influence, not a beggar who is resting for a moment before being chased off. The dogs seem to know him (they are not barking at him). The lady has a sense of poise and relaxed confidence and is not concerned with her child's wanderings. Thus this card seems to indicate "a happy place." The nearby walls and tower show a defensible location, and given that this is "the end" of the suit of coins it is safe to say that this looks like a "happily ever after" card of generational wealth. That brat yanking at the dog's tail is probably worth more than I will ever be. The vines and grape clusters ("real" or painted/woven) also seem to indicate fertility if land and loin. All in all this card screams wealth and personal security. 

Compare this to the Page of Coins where we have a solitary young man delicately holding up a coin which he seems to stare worshipfully, or even philosophically at. The lands he stand in are well cared for. They are peaceful and fertile, providing grass for sheep, cows, goats, and horses to munch on happily, and also tilled farmland which grows crops for humans. The mountains provide a nice backdrop but they are far away distant things. No one needs to climb them any time soon. The day is sedate and casual, with time to reflect--even at the beginning of this young man's adventure. he is young and just starting out where as the man in the Ten of Coins is old and has done well for himself. But also the young man is "out in the open" versus the old man being walled in (securely). These are minor things that will mean nothing in some readings and mean everything in others. For now we are merely noting them in passing.

Okay, so now it is your turn. Go through the deck and see "what you see." Post a comment here please. Let me know of course if you have any problems or questions. I am here to help.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What to do if you "just don't connect with a Tarot deck"

I recently saw a post on a metaphysical social networking site. A beginner at the Tarot was having problems connecting with the Rider Waite (and don;t we all at first). She posted her problem asking what to do. She was immediately greeted with suggestions that she simply buy more decks and ignore the ones that she did not understand immediately.

My head almost exploded.

While I am all for mindless consumerism and the collection of divination decks, and other oracles, I am simply fed up with the impatience and complete lack of actual study so many readers try to get by with these days. Then there are the uninformed opinions based on countless superstitions and lies spread by earlier generations. All of this must end, as these do nothing more than publicly boast one's ignorance and give the impression that the Tarot is a sham.

Here is what you do if you cannot connect with the Tarot. Buy a book. Buy my book. By any well-designed Tarot instruction manual. Eileen Conolly made a set of three several years ago that are quite nice.There are several very-well-written books on the Tarot available today and hundreds of crappy ones. There are thousands of Tarot teachers and free and paid lessons online of varying quality. LEARN.

Study and practice. There are no shortcuts (unless you consider high-quality Tarot instruction to be a shortcut as it saves you years of trying this and that).

I hear, and read, almost every week people complaining that they have tried off and on to learn the Tarot for years, or that they gave up after getting frustrated. Most of the time these valid complaints come with the statement that they own several decks. They spend years buying decks instead of learning to read the ones they have. This is something so many people do (and complain about) that it needs to be addressed. Too many people are taught BAD INFORMATION about the Tarot even before they get a chance to learn what it is all about. This leads them to believe they must be "gifted" their deck (someone has to give you one of their own free will, without you asking or hinting--LIE!) or that they have to buy 5-6 decks to find the one that speaks to them. (LIE! The deck that speaks to you is the one thats peaks to you after you have learned how to read the tarot proficiently with a "starter deck.")

Deck-shopping is like bed-hopping. It can be fun but it leaves you empty and feeling used inside if you are not getting real value from each (deck) you spend time with. If you are having trouble learning the Tarot a new deck won;t magically make it all better. You may find a deck more attuned to your sensitivities (your personal outlook on life) but you still have to learn how to know th meanings of each card right side up, reversed, upside down, flipped out of the deck, and what it means when you cat stand on it (and your cat will). There is NO substitution for practice and the lessons of experience or we would have computers do readings for us.

If you cannot connect with a deck get a new teacher (or book), not a new deck. New decks are trinkets, toys, party favors, or tools for the job--one you know how to read at all. Collecting decks is fun but shopping is not a method of study. If you need help ask. I am always available at the student forums at and we have practice areas and interesting discussions. But you can also look locally and see if there is a teacher in your area. Not everyone who teaches the Tarot is a teacher, or any good. Teachers are like mechanics. Your best bet is to find a good one and stick to them like glue, but while you are shopping around (for a teacher or a mechanic) be willing to try out a few and ask for references, look at the reviews their students give, and maybe even get a reading (or repair) from them--which you should pay for--and tip if appropriate.

Okay, shameless plug: here is my book. yes, it is guaranteed. I do not write trash. The book works--but so do thousands of teachers all over the world. Find a good one and learn the Tarot.

Don't believe me. Check it out for yourself. Read the reviews. Flip through it. Study and practice. It is worth the effort.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Beltane is coming!

But first we have Imbolg! Check your calendars. On or around feb 7th it will be 15 degrees Aquarius. The "Fixed," or middle (dead-center) of Winter. It's check-up time. Every 8.5 weeks you get to do a self-progress report. Are things going well? How are those New Year's resolutions (you hopefully made at Yule) going? We have one more week to cram before the big test. Are you moving in the direction you like?

This year started with Merc. retrograde (in Sag!) so plans change--and we are expected to adapt. I have seen this already in my own life. Press on. So . . . time to think of how you are doing. Is "it" working for you right now? Next check up in 9-10 weeks!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Always remember this --- and you will "win!"

We are only trapped by our prejudices (things we refuse to change) and our luxuries (things we are afraid to lose).

Just a random thought---ooh pop-tars!