Aside from 50+ decks, I also keep on hand many Tarot tools, as I know other readers do. Some tools are for the care and feeding of the cards themselves. Others are for readings and daily practice. Here are a few tools in my "Tarot Kit."
Deck Care: Nancy Antenucci taught me the very first time I ever got a deck that Tarot cards you're going to make use of really don't belong/enjoy being in the cardboard box they came in. You never know who's touched it with what energy, it's flimsy, and it shows a lack of deck care. Never mind the fact that shoving them into that tight little box often causes damage to the cards themselves. I have several scarves and Tarot card bags that I employ for every deck I've taken out of its packing (which is, I'll admit, more than half of them). Finding a good "home" for your deck is also a good way to bond with your deck. My first deck wanted a purple-and-gold goddess scarf, for instance. It just seems to make the energy of the deck calm and "happy."
Another tool I use is sacred stones. While I am not entirely versed in the many attributes of different healing stones, I do know a few, and most importantly, I know amethyst. I have some tumbled amethyst stones that I bought in bulk once, and when I am finished reading with a deck, I will set an amethyst stone or my amethyst wand on top of it to cleanse the energy from the deck. Amethyst is imbued with spiritual and cleansing properties. I do have to admit I am not a terribly good caregiver to my healing stones, however. I basically keep them in a small pile with white quartz and hope for the best as far as cleansing the stones themselves goes. I really should have them settled with some selenite.
I will also use my own chakra energy to cleanse the cards sometimes, though this is a bit more draining, so I don't do it very often anymore. I realize this may be a bit "woowoo" for some people, but a belief in the power of Tarot is really a belief in the divine energy that connects us all together. And the negative energy, of course. Yin and yang and all that.
Sacred Space: It is important to carve out space, no matter how small, for reading your cards, especially if you're reading for someone else. The space should be clear of clutter and clean - somewhere you aren't going to be more worried about knocking over a stack of papers or getting your elbow stuck in a ketchup stain than reading the cards. This will make you, your reader, and your cards more comfortable. You don't want ketchup on your cards, either.
Create an atmosphere conducive to reading and meditation. I have a sage candle I burn, for instance. To cleanse the space itself before a reading (energy or bad tuna sandwich), I will also either use my spray sage from Eye of Horus or burn the real sage I have in an abalone shell (thank you Pyramid Collection). Wafting the smoke around not only creates a pleasing scent, but also chases away any negative energy that may be lingering around.
Offer water to your querent, and have some for yourself. Water also has cleansing powers for your body, and keeps your voice from frogging up. Do not use mind-altering substances when reading the cards and limit caffeine and alcohol intake before a reading. It is not fair to you or the querent if you are not wholly present in the moment.
Tools of the Trade: I always have a Guatemalan Quetzal on me when reading cards (it keeps me grounded - element of Earth and suit of Pentacles/Coins). For those curious about the Quetzal, it is the national bird of Guatemala and also what they call their money. Inscribed on the Quetzal is the word "Paz" or "Peace," which you can see here. I find it both hopeful and calming. The Quetzal usually won't be on the table when I'm reading, unless I don't have pockets. I like to keep it close to my skin, and it is almost always warm to the touch.
Another tool I always have when reading cards is my amethyst crystal (wand). Amethyst facilitates sacred connection, and wands are the seat of creativity and action. I first got it because purple is my favorite color, and I have an affinity for amethyst. I researched its actual properties later. The amethyst wand I keep on the table during the a reading, close to my right hand. I can touch it if I feel my consciousness may be wavering (or wandering), and it also encourages divine energy to join us during a reading.
Tools I do not usually take out, but I have to hand if I feel I need them or for ritual work, are an athame (sacred dagger - suit of swords), a chalice (suit of cups), a sodalite orb (encourages clear thinking, truth, and emotional sharing), an amethyst pendulum (I gave my rose quartz one to someone in need), a rendition of Kali (constructive and destructive forces - the Tower card in the Tarot of Transformation), and assorted sacred stones (white quartz, rose quartz, tiger's eye, obsidian, etc.).
I *mumbles* may or may not have a bald eagle feather from Canada *cough* that floated on the water towards me that I will use to waft sage smoke.
Why don't I usually use these tools? Well, the athame I consider unnecessary, as well as the sodalite orb, because I am all air - Gemini with a Libra Rising Sign and a Moon sign of Aquarius. I don't feel the need to introduce any more air into the space than is already there. The chalice is rather large and cumbersome to a reading, and its absence really hasn't affected anything at all. I almost never use a pendulum for anything. Kali is a goddess energy that is always close to hand (I like to think of it as a shade of God) for me, and... well... I love amethyst.
I'd love to hear what tools you use. Don't be shy!
Here it is, folks! The first card I ever read/learned was the High Priestess from the Tarot of Transformation deck. I think that was rather apropos, given that I was going to be exploring Tarot more.
I remember it like it was yesterday. My aunt Suzi (a gifted labyrinth designer and guide, also choreographer and all around creative genius) took my cousin Karen and me to the Women and Spirituality Conference in Mankato when I was 19. I was completely clueless about anything there, except Tarot, which I had heard of and read about (e.g.: heard tell of) in books. At the time, there was only 1 Tarot class at the Woman and Spirituality Conference (now there are often several), and I decided I'd like to have my own deck for classroom purposes. I walked straight up to Amazon Books (later True Colors, now closed) and looked over the boxed decks they had there. There was this purple deck with stunning artwork, that seemed to scream "MEMEMEMEMEME!!!" and I bought it, having absolutely no idea that it was one of the most nontraditional decks on the market, even to this day. I just knew it was beautiful.
I would later get tingling and a warm sensation in my fingers when I touched the deck, which I wouldn't understand until I got to class with Nancy Antenucci. She was in her third year of teaching one Major Arcana class every Mankato conference.
The class was fascinating, as Nancy's classes always are. I learned a lot about the High Priestess, got to see a lot more High Priestesses from other people's decks, and got to spend time learning about my own deck a little bit as we broke out into small groups for readings. I scampered right up to Nancy's stall when the class was over and signed up for a reading with her, as well as purchased her "Between the Worlds" packet, which guided me on the very beginnings of my Tarot journey. We later turned that packet into a book called Psychic Tarot, which, according to my royalties checks, is still filling personal Tarot libraries to this day. I find this very humbling, and am forever grateful to Nancy for the opportunity to write with her and to those who have found our book helpful in their Tarot journeys.
I say the High Priestess was an apropos first card because the High Priestess is the keeper of our sacred scroll and the gatekeeper of the mysteries of the Moon. Your sacred scroll is the scroll of your life, detailing the milestones you are supposed to hit and containing the future, present, and past. It's a reflective card, and a card of intuition.
This High Priestess is still my favorite High Priestess, and the High Priestess is still my favorite card. She was the beginning of my Tarot journey, which continues to this day.
It's time for another spread! Because even I had trouble reading my handwriting on this one, I'm going to write out what it says below:
"If this spread shows up, generally indicated the querent does not see herself or her situation clearly. Tends to contain pitfalls & hard lessons. A come to Jesus spread, generally reflecting a path the querent must take internally to know their truth."
Many people ask if Tarot works if you're not there with the reader in person. The answer to that question is yes, it does still work. I've read over the phone and over chat, and as long as the person at the other end is focused on the reading, there haven't been any problems.
That being said, there are certain things I can't do if you're not with me in person. I can't light my citrus-sage candle, you won't see that I have a Guatemalan coin in my pocket (not that you'd see that anyway) and an amethyst crystal (wand) at my right hand. It's difficult for me to let you see enough cards of the deck in order for you to really choose which deck you want, and I certainly can't have you hover your hand over each to determine which one speaks to you. There are ways around that, especially with internet, but it's still not quite the same.
I can't ask you to shuffle the deck yourself. There isn't the intimacy of the two of us sitting at my kitchen table. I can't offer you something to drink or some nibbles.
But there are also things I can do with technology that would be difficult to do in person. I can take a picture of your spread for you to keep. I can give you a link to where you can purchase any particular deck I use, if you really like the deck. My explanations, especially via chat, can be kept and reviewed later for greater insight. A lot of people bring note pads to a reading, which I encourage, in case they want to write things down, but that can also be cumbersome when you're writing and also supposed to be touching the cards and being spiritually present.
Every way of reading Tarot has its advantages and drawbacks. I enjoy creating peaceful space for people to have a reading, so in-person readings are probably my favorite, but I also really like being able to give someone something to keep from their reading. A lot of readers will record sessions and give a web link to access it to the person they are reading for. I have not started that practice yet, but probably will in the future.
I hope that answers that question for you, and I look forward to reading for you, in any medium, in the future.
Note: The photo is of a new iPhone from the Apple website, in case the picture police frown upon me.
I thought I would use this evening to talk about the fundamental elements of Tarot, namely the four (five) elements represented in the cards. These would be Swords, Wands, Cups, and Pentacles/Coins (the fifth element being Spirit and represented by the Major Arcana).
When talking about the four suits, or elements, if you will, I like to start in the East, with Swords, the element of Air, the direction of the rising sun and the seat of Thought and Truth. My oldest deck, the Tarot of Transformation, has the Server of Swords (Paige) slicing the air with a sword, basically cutting through the bullshit. That is my favorite representation of the innate qualities of the suit of Swords.
I'm a Gemini myself, so my element is Air (actually, my moon signs and rising signs are Libra and Aquarius respectively, so basically I'm ALL about Air). I'm rather fond of the Swords suit, even though the Swords cards contain some of the hardest Tarot lessons.
Next comes Wands, the direction of South, the element of Fire, and the seat of Creativity and Action. Wands are most often represented by a sprouting or growing branch, or a branch on fire. Like a tree, Wands inspires your ideas (thoughts) to sprout and grow into a creative or passionate endeavor. The most powerful image I've seen thus far of Wands is the Nine of Wands from the Legacy of the Divine deck. It shows a man bowed before a wand he is holding, with another eight wands behind him. I think it shows how we can be ruled by our passions, and often end up defending them to others.
After Wands is Cups, the direction of West, the element of Water, and the seat of Emotion. Like a cup, we are often filled with emotion. Though the most powerful image I've seen for Cups is the Five of Cups from the Legacy of the Divine deck, I am more partial to the Rider-Waite-Smith Five of Cups, which shows a figure who is not only sad over his/her spilled Cups, but cannot even see the two Cups he/she has remaining. Emotions are like that sometimes. We become so focused on what we've lost and negative emotions that we ignore or do not even register positive emotions and experiences.
Finally, there is the suit of Pentacles/Coins, the direction of North, the element of Earth and the seat of the physical (the human body - head, arms, legs) and often financial. Its main concern is safety. Am I in good health? Do I have enough money? Etc. For me, the image that speaks to me the most with regard to Pentacles/Coins is the Five of Pentacles/Coins. This card, put simply, depicts not having enough. The Legacy of the Divine Tarot has the most heart-wrenching image of the Five of Coins. It shows a beggar outside a church (not invited in, of course), seeming to reach out to the reader for alms. However, in today's political climate, I am most reminded of the Five of Pentacles from the Santa Muerte Tarot, which depicts someone in heavy boots crushing skulls beneath their feet. The entire deck is designed around the calaveras from the celebration of Dia de los Muertos. So, basically, not only do these particular skulls not have bodies, they're also being stomped on.
All these suits make up a Tarot deck, along with the Major Arcana. As Rachel Pollack's book 78 Degrees of Wisdom suggests, there are 78 cards ready to pour out wisdom about your life. That and a good reader can lead to an awesome and enlightening experience.
I know you all cannot contain yourselves - you must know more about the Devil card. Pictured here is my favorite Devil card by Ciro Marchetti from the Legacy of the Divine deck. It's my favorite not only because Marchetti is a very gifted artist and the deck itself is gorgeous, but also because this card represents how I think of the Devil card better than any other Devil card I've ever seen.
Traditionally, the Devil card shows a man and woman (naked) chained before the throne of a horned goat devil. The lesson of the card is not only that you are trapped, but that the chains around the man's and woman's necks are loose enough that the man or woman could take off their chain themselves anytime. They would simply have to find the will and strength to do so.
The Devil card represents being stuck in unhealthy patterns, such as addiction. I sometimes think of depression as being chained to the Devil's throne (I have rather severe depression and am pretty open about it because I want people to know it's okay to talk about it and get help). When you're chained to the Devil's throne, often you can't even see that you can take your own yoke off with work, determination, and help.
This particular Devil speaks to me because, on the one hand, he has stolen the Fool's time (FYI - you are the Fool, if you didn't see my past Fool entry). He's also taken all of the Fool's tools: the Sword, the Cup, the Wand, and the Coin. That's what I think the Devil feels like. Not so much that you're serving evil or that evil has befallen you, but that you're stuck in a place where all the tools you have don't seem to be working for you, and your time has been sucked away by this perpetual state of helplessness.
As an aside, there's a lot of back and forth about the inverted Pentagram. Here I see the pentagram as being reminiscent of the Hanged Man - a person (arms, legs, head) hanging upside-down caught between the last stage and the next. The inverted Pentagram is not, in itself, inherently satanic, from what I've read. It's when you make one of the five points larger than all the other that it symbolizes imbalance and egocentricity. But, it's hard to argue with popular culture's fascination with it, however it is drawn.
The most important lesson of the Devil is that, even though it feels like you can't, you can get out. That's not to say you won't be stuck in a different situation, or that same situation later. It's just that you're not always going to stay there, and it's important to keep sight of that. The Wheel turns. You're not always crushed beneath it - sometimes you're on top.
This spread is several years old. Because my handwriting is unintelligible, I will write out the explanation here:
"Laid this spread once for a child. Indicates the type of qualities one is looking for in/or that their mate will possess. Pattern of human body (or Star). Positions, especially head & heart, may indicate how future mate thinks/feels. 5 & 6 roots. 3 & 4 balance/work."
As a Tarot reader, you of course get a lot of requests for spreads about one's romantic life, but I've gotten fewer of them than I anticipated going in. It remains my number 3 request. Number 2 is about work (we are Americans, after all. As they say, we ask for your name and then what you do - that's how most of us define a large chunk of our lives). Number 1 has always, always been "am I on the right path"?
I get a small smattering of people who want to know about loved ones, living or dead (mostly dead), but those are the top 3.
I know that's a cheesy title, but today I want to post about my very patient dog who likes to oversee readings with little growls. He takes a little warming up, but then he's very affectionate and is always hopeful that visitors will supply him with treats or pets.
This little guy is named Joe-Joe. He's a rescue, that they think is a Lhasa-Pug mix. He was found by the Humane Society in a Minnesota hospital parking lot. In February. Brrrr!
Joe-Joe is pictured here with his paws on one of his favorite toys. If you sit next to him and you've become one of his favorite humans, he'll put that paw on you, too. Just so you know you belong to him.
I don't usually get political, pero he visto mucho de mis amigos guatemaltecos que
Trump ha buscado maneraa de dañar Guatemala también. Especificamente, tiene un acuerdo con el gobierno de Guatemala para no permitir refugiados ir a los EE.UU.
Pienso que eso es una poliza sin corazón, sin humanidad, y refleja un relación tóxico entre el Guatemala y los EE.UU.
Estoy muy ansiosa por mis amigos guatemaltecos, y mis niños de Nueva Esperanza, para el país entero mientras que Trump tiene tanta influencia en las polizas guatemaltecas, y mientras que tiene so mano dentro del gobierno.
No quería que nuestro serpiente involucrarse en mi querida Guatemala. Espero que salga pronto.
Viva la revolución.
Apologies, it looks as though I can't keep up a daily blog, but I'm trying my best! Work is apparently a thing. I am a Claims Specialist by day, and to be honest, that takes a whole lot of my energy during the week.
I am hoping to get a promotion (fingers crossed!), and if that happens, I may or may not be as wiped out.