Tarot Card Borders

IMG_4288Most cards have some kind of framing margin that surrounds the card image, like a frame encloses a picture. For some Tarot people, the aesthetics of these borders is a pivotal issue, to the point where they’ll risk the structural integrity of their deck by using sharp metal tools to actually shave the borders off of their cards. For other people – like me – borders usually don’t make enough of a splash in the old visual cortex to even get noticed.

The publisher Lo Scarabeo seems to take a special amount of heat in this regard, as they often fill their card borders with text so that they can provide translations of a card’s verbiage into six different languages. Many people find the results to be hideous and intrusive. Personally, I think it’s nice that they want to welcome speakers of multiple languages into the Tarot world, and I barely notice the borders. But that’s just me.

How about you? Are card borders of paramount importance to you? Or do you hardly think about them?

The Unforeseen Dangers of Renaming Suits in Tarot

IMG_4223When you start collecting Tarot decks, you quickly realize that some deck creators like to get all jazzy with their nomenclature. Some will rename the Majors or the Court Cards. Some rename the Aces. And lots of them will rename the Suits.

And this can be totally cool…even if it means that you have to put in a bit of time and effort so as to relax your death-grip on the terminology that you’d learned first.

But then sometimes there’s an added degree of difficulty… Like here. My sister loaned me her copy of the Wooden Tarot. And it’s all stark and eerie, which I like. But the Suits are all renamed from traditional designations. For instance, the Earth Element Suit is called Bones. But I also really like this other deck called the Shaman Tarot, and that deck also has a Suit called Bones…only there, Bones = Fire, not Earth. So this morning, I’m wrapping an Ace Bandage around my brain, and trying to explore the Wooden Tarot a bit more. Has this ever happened to you??!

Cards That Speak of Challenge…

IMG_4210Today I was awakened before dawn by the insistent chirping of a smoke detector crying out for a fresh battery. I tossed my sister’s place where I’m housesitting, but found only other batteries of incompatible size. It was 56F…inside the house. I decided to go outside and bury the wheedling contraption in the yard so I could go back to sleep, but the ground was frozen (sidenote: I’m kidding – I’m not going out before dawn to take up a shovel…).

But anyway, in the midst of all that, I flashed on the Tarot 7’s, because they all have to do with challenges and facing adversity in its various forms, and also because I spent a few hours last night formatting part of the Workbook for the Tarot Toolkit online course, so this stuff was all over my cerebrum.

But anyway, which cards do you associate with challenges, difficulties, and trying to find grace under pressure…?

Tarot Cards and the Season Cycle

IMG_4177According to our good friends from the Golden Dawn, you can equate the four Suits with the four seasons. Swords signify Spring, Wands are tied to Summer, Cups ride with Autumn, and Pentacles roll with Winter. You can make use of these associations if you’re looking into questions that revolve around timing: “When will I be able to take my vacation this year?” And “When will I meet that good-looking and available stranger?” are the kinds of queries that might benefit from application of these correspondences…

Tarot Suits and Compass Points

IMG_4167In line with other correspondences, such as Zodiac Cards, Tarot practitioners also often assign other additional meanings to cards and Suits. Since we have four Suits, this works well with setting up correspondences to the four directions.

The most common such assignments – and the way I was taught these correspondences – pair up North with Pentacles, South with Wands, East with Swords, and West with Cups.  This is clearly a system set up by people who were dwelling in the Northern Hemisphere, since to us, “South” = “Equator” = “hot” — people in the Southern Hemisphere might want to reverse the Wands and Pentacles correspondences here…

So say you have a choice between two destinations: you’re in London, and you can go either to New York or Tokyo. You drew outcome cards for each to help you decide, but they were inconclusive. Using these directional correspondences, you can start pulling cards from your deck until you arrive at either a Swords card or a Cups card (ignoring any others that appear along the way). If you get a Swords card first before any Cups show up, you choose Tokyo (that city is East of you, and Swords = East)…and if you get to a Cups card first before any Swords make the scene, you elect to go to New York (NY is West of you, and Cups = West). Compass-point correspondences allow you to go Around the World in 56 cards!

4 of Cups

IMG_4122The 4 of Cups is a really interesting card.

The 4’s in general speak of stability. But while stability is often great and desirable, it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing. Check out the guy in this card, for example: he has so much stability (and resources, captured here in the forms of the three Cups arranged in front of him) that he’s bored out of his mind.

He’s so bored, in fact, and so jaded and uninspired, that he doesn’t even notice the small miracle playing itself out a few feet away from him. There’s a smaller-scale version of one of the Aces manifesting itself right there. No, it’s not a giant, disembodied Hand taking up most of the sky-space in sight while it inserts a Suit-emblem into Reality, as you’d find in any of the Aces, but even a miniature version of that kind of phenomenon should generate some amount of legitimate awe, shouldn’t it? I mean, *I’ve* never seen a disembodied hand – even a human-sized one – pop into this plane of existence from Elsewhere in order to slide some object into this Universe. I’d find that literally astonishing.

But here’s this poor, malaise-ridden figure, so mired in his doldrums that he can’t see the Sublime happening almost literally right under his nose. *That’s* the kind of existential stagnation that this card can be indicating when it appears in a reading…

12 Astrological Houses Spread

IMG_3996In honor of the Full Moon last night, I busted out a big spread based on the 12 astrological Houses.  I’ll be doping out the meaning of this reading for days to come!

Interesting note: the numbered Minors (not counting the Aces) make up just under half of the deck.  So statistically speaking, in a spread of this size, I should have been able to expect maybe 5 or 6 numbered Minors to show up.  I ended up with 9.  It always stabs my attention in the eye when I get disproportionate results like this!