Wednesday, May 18, 2011

3 of Swords, Reversed

Probably my least favorite card of any Tarot deck is the 3 of Swords. It is often depicted as a heart with 3 swords stabbing through it. As if one sword wasn't good enough, or even two. No, all 3 piercing blades have to cut in.

This card often predicts disappointment, heartache, suffering, and sadness. In the reversed position, is it any better? Only in that the pain will pass more quickly. If you are doing a reading the surrounding cards will help to shed more light on the subject on where your troubles are coming from and possibly what you can do to help the situation.

The best reading I ever had with this card was a situation in which the person wanted a particular outcome but it was not to be. Fortunately, what was waiting for the person was even better. They only needed to let the one thing go in order to embrace a brighter future. Now, there's a 3 of Swords I can get behind.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Mind is willing, but the Body isn't

I got this as part of a spread I recently did for someone, and I find it very interesting.

Mind – VIII Strength – There is no doubt that you have the will, the drive, and the determination to continue to strive for your goals.

Body – XIV – Temperance, Reversed – However, your body is going to stop cooperating. You are pushing it beyond its limits, are unsatisfied and impatient with what you think of as “poor” results (even though most people would find them incredible), and you are extremely hard on your body. You may be breaking it down too much, and health issues may start cropping up even more often in the form of aches and pains, possibly knee problems, and just feeling tired and run-down a lot. Due to your Strength, you tend to just push through the pain.

What do you do when the mind is willing, but the body isn't able? Do you push through the pain? Or do you take a step back, rest, and re-evaluate?

I used to push through the pain, and that's how I ended up using a wheelchair for two years, a walking boot for a few more, and now have permanent foot issues. Now I advise people to slow down and step back. However, they usually don't, and I see them go through some of the same things I did - over and over again. You can't teach life experience, though. Some lessons are meant to be learned the hard way and are much more valuable for people when they go through it themselves.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

4 of Swords: Rest and Recuperation

Yesterday I was tired. I kept trying to convince myself to get up and go take the dogs for a walk, but it just wasn't happening. I just finished the 10-day Zumba Exhileration Accelerated Program ("guaranteed to lose an inch off your waist or a pants size or your money back!"). Normally I do P90X and lift heavy weights, but I decided to change my focus this month to more cardio. So I finished the 10 days and took a rest day on Friday. Yesterday I was supposed to start back on my modified P90X program (I will continue to mix Zumba in), but I just couldn't do it.

Sometimes we just need a break. Whether it's physical, mental, our spiritual, we need time to recuperate. The 4 of Swords reminds us to do just that. It is time to let go and be at peace. This will give us a chance to renew our energies. We will be able to regroup and then will be more prepared to tackle our lives with increased energy and enthusiasm.

So listen to the 4 of Swords. When your life is constantly, "go, go, go!" it reminds us to take a little time for "slow, slow, slow." The rewards in all aspects of our lives when we listen to this card can be great.

As for me - I woke up this morning ready to work out. Both my measurements and my weight had gone down because I gave my body the time it needed to heal itself and renew. What can you gain from the 4 of Swords today?
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck

There are literally thousands of Tarot decks out there to choose from, and more being released every year! How do you know which deck is right for you?

As I've already mentioned, make sure when you look for decks you are looking at a Tarot deck. Other decks are called Oracle cards. These cards can be any number and are based on the author's own dreams or experiences. For this reason, some Oracle decks may not work for you. Tarot cards are based more on what is called the collective consciousness and are universal to more people. That being said, there are still decks that will resonate with you more than others.

One of the best ways to figure out what deck you may like is to go to and look through the published decks. Many decks are based on the Waite-Smith deck (it is still referred to as Rider-Waite at the website for familiarity's sake), so that is a good place to start. With this one deck you can familiarize yourself with what you may see in many other decks.

Most decks are the same size and the quality of the paper is pretty standard, so these aren't usually issues. If the deck is a different size, it will almost always mention this. There are round decks, large decks, and mini-decks as well.

The first thing to look at in choosing a deck is the artwork. All of the pip cards should have actual artwork - not just a couple of swords or coins on the card. Decks with characters on every card are much more useful in readings than those that only have the number of items on the card.

Things can get tricky when you are looking at the artwork. You may be drawn to the beauty or even "cuteness" of a particular deck, especially if it is a themed deck. One thing you need to remember is that decks may be used for readings, or they may be for artwork. For your first deck you want to pick a deck that you can use for readings.

I don't recommend themed decks for your first deck unless you are sure it really speaks to you. There are decks based on fairies (feys), dragons, vampires, angels, kittens, pirates, and even gnomes. While many of them contain gorgeous artwork, they may not always be the best for readings. I tried to use a fairy deck for some time, but found that items kept moving or even disappearing around my home. Fairies are very mischeivious little buggars, and I have since resigned them to the garage (and yes, things went back to normal, at least inside my house). Some people have much better luck working with them than I seem to. I may try again some day, but only after I take an inventory of where everything is!

Other deck themes include particular legends such as the Arthurian deck. Again, this deck has gorgeous artwork, but can be somewhat limiting because of the story. I do not use this particular deck for reading, though I know two people who use it on occasion.

Some Tarot cards integrate religious paths such as Druidcraft, Witches Tarot, Greenwood Tarot, Thoth Tarot, and Initiary Tarot of the Golden Dawn. There are many others. While many decks gravitate towards a Pagan or Earth-based theme, there are many that do not. Master Tarot, for example, is based on the life of Christianity's Jesus. You can also browse decks on topics such as gay/lesbian.

Aeclectic Tarot has a feature which lets you review all of their decks in alphabetical order. I have done this in the past, and it can take a lot of time over many days. It is very fun, and extremely interesting. Make sure if you use this feature that you look to see whether the deck is a Tarot or Oracle deck.

While you are looking at cards, you will definitely get a variety of opinions and see different reviews of them. Even if a deck is very highly regarded, if it does not speak to you, choose a different deck to begin with. You can always go back and pick up another deck later. The Thoth Tarot gets 5 stars, is a best-seller, and gets tons of positive reviews every year. I eventually bought one, but I do not ever use it -it just does not resonate with me. You have to find something that works for you. One of my favorite decks consistently gets slammed in reviews and low ratings. I don't care - it works for me.

If there is a store near you where you can look at the decks, that is your best option. Actually picking the cards up and holding them will help you decide if that deck really resonates with you. Once you do a spread or two, you will know for sure whether or not you can use that deck. If you can't find a store where you can do this, just go with your gut and how you feel about a particular deck. Remember to think about the difference between "art" and "reading" decks, and you should be able to pick out your first deck just fine!

If you are still really having difficulty deciding on a deck, I recommend the Gilded Tarot or the beginner's set or Legacy of the Divine Tarot, both by Ciro Marchetti.

Happy readings!
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21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card

As I've said before, Mary K. Greer's "21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card" is the book that really changed my life and gave me confidence in my readings. She invites you to step outside of the traditional meanings of the cards and really get a feel for all of the symbolism and nuances present.

This is a work book. You will need a pen and paper and at least one card from your Tarot deck. You will explore this card in depth, using a variety of techniques throughout the book. Exercises are based on a variety of factors such as numerology, astrology, dialoguing, and even story telling. This is a truly exceptional book, and one that can be used again and again. Once you go through it with one card, you can do the exercises again with a new card.

To use this book is a lifelong process, not only with different cards, but the same card from different decks. It is a thorough exploration and will give you numerous meanings and associations to draw upon for yourself and others.

I have owned this book for several years and I continue to be delighted with the results I get and the things I learn. This is one book I find myself returning to again and again.
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Google Blogsite Issues

It looks like with all of the issues Google Blogs had yesterday, they deleted my other blog as well as some of my work on this one. Bear with me while I get everything back together. I am finishing up my Doctorate Dissertation today and probably will not be able to fix these issues until tomorrow or Sunday.

Happy Friday the 13th, Everyone! :)
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Code of Ethics in Tarot Readings

Tarot isn't just about pulling out some cards and telling someone what is going to happen. When you do a reading for another person, you enter into a relationship with him or her, even if it is only for a very short time. It can be a very intense experience, and certain boundaries must be drawn. Also, the reader isn't there to tell the Querent what to do or to make decisions for him or her (much to the chagrin of some clients!). The reader is there to help the client navigate their way through a decision-making process or just to provide the information and step back completely. For that reason, there has to be a lot of care when dealing with others, especially when the cards point out possibly dangerous situations and bad news.

I like the American Board for Tarot Certification's code of ethics for Tarot readers.

A Tarot reading is meant to be a positive, supportive experience.
Code of Ethics:
- A Tarot reading is meant to be a positive, supportive experience.
- A Tarot reading looks at the energies that are currently surrounding the client
- All clients shall receive total confidentiality.
- The client will be advised to seek advice from professionals on financial,The client will be encouraged to make their own decisions.
- The client’s religious beliefs and spiritual path are to be respected.
- The intention of the Tarot reading is that it be for the highest good of the reader. The client will receive the reader's full attention and will be encouraged to participate in the process.
- The reader shall not coerce the client into making any additional purchases.
- The reader has the right to choose not to read for any prospective client if he or she does is not comfortable doing so.
- This Code of Ethics represents the minimum standards that the AmericanThe ABTC reserves the right to take appropriate action, including revocation
- The Code of Ethics is subject to review and update on a periodic basis by the
   ABTC Board of Directors.

I've looked around the American Tarot Association's website several times, and I just can't seem to find their ethics page. I know they must have some guidelines, but I guess it's in the course material that they charge for because I can't seem to find it anywhere else.

At any rate, the lesson for today is: be careful in dealing with others when you read the cards. I like to just assume that HIPAA laws apply. That will keep you out of a lot of trouble. Have fun, and happy readings!

I am currently working on contacting some people about using their cards on this site. Cards are usually copyrighted, and although many show up on the internet, it is unfair to use them without the author's permission. I am looking into the legal issues of this, but I would rather have the author's permission to show spreads using their cards on my blog.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Celtic Cross for A

Using the Gilded Tarot, I did a Celtic Cross Spread:

My first impression is that you are having some trouble with your current role and figuring out what your role should be. Are you a stay-at-home mom? Or do you have a job but it isn't what you want? I really get the impression that somehow a child or children is your main concern right now. Are you pregnant or trying to get pregnant or are there already kids? These are the questions I would ask if we were face-to-face. :) I also have a sense that you are married or with someone and maybe he is more traditional and while you thought you wanted that role now perhaps you are somewhat rebelling against it, at least on the inside?

Let's see what the cards say:

1. you - 2 of Cups - your relationship with someone take precedence, even over yourself and your own needs

2. what crosses you - the Page of Swords, Reversed - a strange twist or unpredictable event, perhaps a child who born with an illness or mental or physical health issues? Did you husband or another family member get sick and this is taking up much of your mental power right now?

3. your subconscious - III The Empress - You have in you a very strong, powerful woman, but maybe you are afraid to let her out, instead letting others take the lead.

4. what is conscious - 5 of Cups, Reversed - There has been a lot of pain in your life, a loss of some kind. It may not be a death, but something is not as you would have liked it to be. However, your energy is returning and you are determined to move forward by sheer strength of will (this is also drawing on the strength of the Empress)

5 your past - VII The Chariot, Reversed - okay, now I'm really getting curious. What is going on? Something happened that you felt you had no control over, that left you feeling completely powerless (also could have driven the Empress further into your subconscious). You may have blamed yourself.

6 the future - XII The Hanged Man, Reversed - the Hanged Man is saying that it is okay to let go, that it was not your fault, and that you can quit blaming yourself. The Hanged Man wants you to move forward with your life, but you may not be ready for this yet. He reminds you to "let go and let God" when you are able. There is no room for blame and guilt when he is here. You have made your choices, but you can make the best of them and still be satisfied and happy.

7 you - 2 of Pentacles, Reversed - You are juggling too many things right now. It may be time to let something go, focus on one thing, or one day, at a time.

8 environment - King of Cups - there is someone there to love you and support you (your husband, perhaps?) He is saying, "Come, lean on me." Don't be too stubborn and try to do it all on your own. You are lucky to have someone who loves you so much. Perhaps his love will help you forgive yourself? He does not blame you for anything in the past and only wants the best for the both of you. The King of Cups is very compassionate and understanding. Are you hiding something for the past that your are afraid he will think ill of you for? If so, you need to forgive yourself - it is affecting your ability to be close with him. (You don't necessarily need to tell him anything.)

9 Hopes and Fears - 8 of Cups - Your Hope is to get past your worries and fears of the past, and be ready to move on. However, you still feel like there are some loose ends or things in the past are in disarray.

10. the Outcome - 6 of Pentacles, Reversed - This card could indicate not having as much financial freedom as you would wish. Perhaps if you are returning to work, you find yourself spending more on day care, clothes, etc, or if you stay at home, you don't have as much income as you would like (whether or not you have children). An ongoing or old bill from a medical issue or illness or something from the past may continue to tax your finances for some time. However , you will eventually find a way through this. A state of harmony and happiness can be achieved; however, you may have to find creative ways to do it. Watch your finances as best you can. If you are not currently having financial issues, save as much as you can for a rainy day. Beware of feeling isolated. Find creative ways to spend time with friends and family. If you have recently become a parent, find a "Mommy and Me" group or something. Stay involved with others. Continue to pursue interactions with adults. Your Empress may be feeling somewhat stifled. Find a creative outlet for her - whether writing, reading, painting, or whatever. Do something to feed your spirit.
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3 Card Daily Spread

One of the more popular quick spreads in Tarot is the 3 Card Spread. Many people know this as the Past, Present, and Future Spread. However, as a daily spread it is much more useful to use this as the Mind, Body, Spirit Spread. This will give you a variety of clues as to what to expect during the day. A quick look in the morning can not only warn you of upcoming difficulties, but can help provide you with clues and advice about how to overcome any adversities throughout the day.

I advise everyone to do a quick 3 Card Spread in the morning and to write it down in their Tarot Journal. Keeping track of your daily readings will provide insight as to how your life unfolds. Over time, you will begin to notice patterns and cards that tend to repeat themselves. Pay special attention to these cards as they are trying to teach you something. Look for repeats in court cards as well as these cards may come to indicate particular people in your life. However, do not rule out the possibility that they are aspects of your own personality.

Most 3 Card Spreads include a majority of Minor Arcana cards as these are daily tasks. If a Major Arcana card shows up, it is a message to pay attention as something important is going on. Let's take a look at today's 3 Card Spread using the Gilded Tarot.

Mind - 10 of Wands, Reversed
Body - 0 The Fool
Spirit - XIII Death, Reversed

Right away it is important to note the appearance of not just one but two Major Arcana cards. In general if this suddenly happened in a spread, the Querent (person for whom the spread is for, or the person who is asking the question) would want to pay particular attention as there could be major events occuring during this day. However, in my own life, Major Arcana cards have been coming up quite frequently in even my smallest spreads. This is due to changing my focus and changing my life direction. Any time you are making major decisions in your life, you can expect a variety of Major Arcana cards to come up very frequently.

Let's look at what each of these cards could mean for me for the day.

The first card I drew to represent Mind was a Wands card. Wands are generally associated with the element of fire and represent growth and development, at least when upright. Some people associate wands with air and swords with fire. When I first began using Tarot, this was my association. It worked well with the deck I used for the first ten years or so. However, after I began using a variety of other decks and studying the cards more deeply, I switched interpretations. Depending on the deck you use, associating wands with air may be more appropriate. As long as your associations are consistent when using a given deck, your Tarot interpretations will still be valid. If you find yourself struggling with interpretations, you may want to experiment with switching this particular association to see if that works better for you and the deck you are using.

The number 10 can represent completeness, or the end of a cycle. Additionally, the end of one cycle means the beginning of a new cycle.

The 10 of Wands represents a person who is overloaded and carrying an abundance of heavy burdens. In fact, they may be carrying burdens that don't even belong to them! Some people attempt to help others by not only giving the person a shoulder to lean on, but taking on a majority of the load themselves. This can indicate a nurturing nature that has gotten a bit out of hand or even codependence.

When reversed, the 10 of Wands indicates that the burden is being lifted. The Querent is free to let some of the baggage go. It can indicate that it is time to prioritize your responsibilities and let others take on some of the work. It can also mean that you have to look at your activities, decide which ones are serving you, and which ones you need to let go. There is a time to say, "no" to new activities and responsibilites, and the time is now. How many committees are you serving on? How many times have you volunteered at school or for extra projects at work? Participation in activities is great for the mind and the spirit. But over-participating and saying yes to everything can lead to burn-out. It's time to let others step up and develop their leadership skills.

In my case, there are a plethora of issues I have been concerned with lately. My mind tends to work in over-drive and I have trouble sleeping because of this. Last night, for example, I got three hours of sleep. Perhaps if I heed the advice of the 10 of Wands Reversed, I will be able to better prioritize my responsibilities, focus on what really needs to be done, and get a good night's sleep.

For the Body card we have 0 The Fool. The Fool stands alone in the Major Arcana as it is the first card and is often not numbered at all. The Fool indicates the beginning of a new adventure. In my case in this particular spread, the Fool in the Body position is an encouragement of my new physical activity. I have been lifting weights for years, but have recently wanted to add more cardio back to my workout regimine. I have never been a dancer, nor have I ever really enjoyed dancing as I feel like I am not good at it. However, I recently ordered Zumba and just a couple of days ago started using it to work out. The Fool here is telling me that it is good to continue working my body in this new way. Not only that, but since I can work out in the privacy of my own home (thanks to the DVD's), I can look as Fool-ish as I want and don't have to worry about being embarrassed if anyone else sees me!

While some people may not think this is deserving of a Major Arcana card, dancing is actually a difficult issue for me. I have many doubts and feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness around dancing. Most of my memories of dancing include other people laughing at me and making fun of me. To order the videos and try it at all was, I felt, a major breakthrough. The Fool is just here to validate my decision and to encourage me to explore this new avenue.

It is also important to note that the person in the 10 of Wands, Reversed is looking towards The Fool. Might he want to throw down some of his burdens and go dance and enjoy life? Has he been struggling for too long? Maybe he is starting to realize that life doesn't have to be as difficult as he seems to make it.

Spirit - XIII Death, Reversed

Many people can't help but panic when they see the Death card in a spread, even if it is reversed. Relax, Death is just the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one (kind of like that 10 of Wands we talked about earlier, except on a much grander level). It is the rare occassion when it might indicate the actual physical death of a person. When in the Spirit position of the Spread, Death Reversed can indicate stagnation and the need to regroup and see if this is the path you really want to take. There is no doubt that this card will continue to come up for me at least occassionally. I am embarking on a new path, have new goals, and I am scared. I am afraid I might fail. I think about taking the easy way out instead of trying to do what I really want to do. On the other hand, when I conform to an expected life pattern, Death upright appears in my readings because on that path my Spirit slowly dies and depression creeps in. In order to find my way in life, I will have to get over the fear and carry on whether I am successful or not.

The position of the cards in this spread is important. It is worth noting that if the cards appeared in different positions, they would produce different interpretations. For example, if the 10 of Wands Reversed card had come up in the Body position of the Spread, it could indicate an illness the Querent has not gotten vaccinated for or a lack of physical motivation to get chores or work done. In the Spirit position it could indicate letting go of old patterns and habits which no longer serve the Querent.

As you can see, you gain a lot of information and insight from a 3 Card Spread. You can also receive a lot of encouragement and motivation to continue new activities you have started or to pursue new goals. Pull out your deck and try your own 3 Card Spread. Don't forget to write it down and date it. It doesn't have to be as elaborate or as long as this interpretation. You can write down each card and just write 3-5 words about what you think it means, what feelings you get from the cards, or traditional interpretations that came with your deck. As you go through the day, pay attention to whether or not your experiences match your interpretations of the cards.You just might be surprised by what you find.
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Monday, May 9, 2011

Tarot and Spirituality

I have been using Tarot cards since I was 12 years old. At some point I was told that they were "of the Devil" and I put them away off and on for a couple of years, but they were never far from my mind. I finally brought them out permanently when I was around 20 years old.

The Tarot is a deck of 78 cards. 22 are Major Arcana, and the rest are the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana are divided into 4 suits - usually wands, cups, swords, and pentacles though they may have other names such as rods or staffs, coins, etc. depending on the deck and its author's views. There are also court cards in each suit consisting of a page, knight, queen, and king. Again, these cards may be renamed such as prince, princess, daughter, son, priestess, shaman, etc. depending on the author's view.

Many of the cards are based on what many people refer to as the Rider-Waite Tarot. This deck is now more appropriately referred to as the Waite-Smith deck as Smith was the woman who did the illustrations. Some people refer to this deck as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Whatever you want to call it, it is the first common deck to display pictures for the pip cards, and many current decks are based on these images. (Yes, the Waite-Smith deck is based on the much earlier Tarot de Marseille deck, but this is a beginner's blog, so we won't get into that here. Yet.)

The pip cards are the Ace-10 cards in each suit. In the past they were represented merely by the number of objects for that suit. For example, the 5 of swords displayed 5 swords on the card. The Waite-Smith deck includes images with people and various colors for all of the cards. This practice to include people in various situations has become so common that it is now considered the norm. If a deck is purchased that features only the number of the objects on the pip cards, there is much backlash and lamenting about this in reviews of the deck.

How do we use Tarot cards? Tarot cards help to clarify our conscious choices as well as to look at our subconscious issues. They can help us understand why we have made our choices and can help us decide whether or not we need to change the direction of our lives. If we do decide to make changes, the cards give us clues as to what the best new choices may be. Sometimes it is easier to have others read the cards for us because we are too close to our own issues. This will also give us different perspectives on the meanings of the cards, and may help us view our question from a new angle.

I have given readings both in person and over the internet and have several favorite Tarot decks that I use. The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti has served me well the last few years. So well, in fact, that I own two decks! The colors are bold and the characters literally spring to life off of the cards. There are a variety of minor characters and animals on the cards as well, to help trigger the subconscious. I recently bought Ciro Marchetti's Legacy of the Divine Tarot. Without the gold border, some of the images seem to float. At other times, the images may seem darker due to the black border. However, this interpretation can vary due to the subject matter at hand.

Another favorite deck of mine is Tarot of the Magical Forest by Lo  Scarabeo. This whimsical deck features animals as the main characters. I bought it by chance and expected it to only serve as an "art" deck, but it has proven to be far more insightful than I first suspected.

Before going out to purchase your own deck of cards, take some time to browse these and others at . There are over 1,000 decks with examples and reviews at this site. I own over 50 decks now, some for the artwork and some to work on specific issues.

One caution: Oracle cards are different from Tarot cards. Tarot cards feature 78 cards with 22 Major Arcana cards. Oracle cards may feature any number of cards and are usually based on the creator's dreamwork, research, or own metaphysical experiences. I personally do not have good results with Oracle cards in general, especially when reading for others. They are often too-narrowly focused on a specific set of characters or situations. Many decks are 40 cards and feature animals, angels, or one-word answers. Instead of allowing the reader to explore subtle nuances and a variety of possible answers or directions, Oracle cards often seem to attempt to provide a short, pat answer. That being said, there are many people who have great experiences with Oracle cards. I am just not one of them.

Tarot cards are based on characters and stories that are stored in our collective conscious. Jung referred to them as "archetypes," and even Joseph Campbell had a few things to say about them (though I'm not sure how much experience he actually had with the cards). More people can generally relate to the Tarot cards because their stories are all of our stories.
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