Tarot Tip:Lack of Humanity

IMG_3879Yesterday, I posted about how the RWS deck was noteworthy in part because it added scenes to the Minor cards.  Instead of a few Suit emblems bobbing in a sea of featureless white background, we finally had people and other beings actually doing things in these cards.  Granted, the Aces each feature only a celestial hand appearing in the frame, but all of the other Minors offer fully-developed characters.

Except for two: the 3 of Swords and the 8 of Wands.  So what might that decided lack of humanity say about the messages these cards represent?

The 3 of Swords is all about sorrow.  It’s what happens when we try to let the brain take charge in matters of the heart.  The results are often so painful that until a certain amount of healing can take place, there’s simply no bandwidth left available for additional human interaction.  Haven’t you been so heartbroken at some point in your life that other people were reduced to moving props in the background of your anguish, all bungling about and mouthing silent, unintelligible words at you, and getting in the way of your grieving…?

And the 8 of Wands concerns the concept of swiftness.  Things happen so quickly here that humans can’t even keep pace.  The best we can do is try to track the leading edge of progress as it hurtles past us and beyond, and hope we can find those rocketing Wand-missiles when they finally drop down out of the sky and crash to Earth.

The lack of humanity signals us that something extreme is happening in these cards.  Other people are swept out of the picture for a time, and it’s like these particular Minors have been set loose to wander an empty, echoing city.  Until such time as their effects can die down, these influences will be profound…

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Tarot Tip: Scenic Minors

IMG_3866One of the greatest innovations of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck was the creation of scenic Minors.  Instead of, say, four Cups or six Wands emblazoned on a plain white background (as in early Tarot “pip” cards), you now had Minors that were every bit as populated and detailed as the Majors, with actual characters and fleshed-out scenarios.

So the tip here is that if you’re working with a deck that features scenic Minors…use those added details!  For instance, the RWS 7 of Swords corresponds to a playing card deck’s 7 of Spades…but look at all the additional info in the RWS card!  There’s a theft going on, for one thing, which is certainly not a given in that 7 of Spades, so the reading may involve something being stolen.  And it’s a bold theft, going down in broad daylight right next to a little tent city, so there may be some element of brashness or recklessness.  It’s not a 100% clean sweep of a theft, though — two of the seven available Swords have been left behind.  Why might the thief have chosen to forego some of the potential haul?  All of these details can inform your readings in ways that likely wouldn’t have come up if you’d been reading with playing cards or pre-RWS Tarot decks.

Some people prefer the starker pip cards — they feel that terrific input comes swimming out at them from the blank spaces.  If you like the scenic Minors, though, it can pay huge dividends to really spend time with the various scenes, and see how many details you can pick up, and how many different interpretations you can uncover based on those details.

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Tarot Tip: Reading Space

IMG_3844Obviously, it’s not always possible to trick out a given area before you get busy with your cards. For example, if you’re reading for someone in a coffee shop, you can’t really violate local fire codes by setting up handfuls of candles and incense, and you can’t demand that the local populace shut its collective pie-hole for half an hour so that you can have the requisite ambience you desire.

But when you do have control over a space, it can be incredibly helpful to set the stage for a reading beforehand. Changing the atmosphere to signal to all involved that you’re entering into a window of time that’s removed from your usual mundane concerns can really help you to lock in to the reading, and to get that intuition blazing.

As mentioned, candles and incense are great aids, and you can also use crystals, feathers, essential oils, herbs, leaves, shells, bones, trinkets, figurines, masks, artifacts, pictures, arts and/or crafts – really, anything that helps you to feel more Tarot-attuned is “right,” and experimenting is beyond recommended. Try devoting a specific area to your readings, and then see if doing that and adding a few extra touches helps to tighten up your work.

Time in which to sign up for the Tarot Toolkit online course is rapidly disappearing – sign up now!

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Tarot Tip: Point of View Characters

IMG_3831Tarot Tip: Point of View Characters.

You’re not under any obligation to read a card in the same fashion every time it comes up in a reading. One characteristic that can vary each time out of the gate is point of view. That is, which character in the card (if any) represents the subject of the reading, versus which ones stand for outside people or forces?

Say you’re reading for yourself… Are you the wealthy character handing out dough at the center of the 6 of Pentacles, or are you one of those less financially well-off types receiving it? Are you the cocky victor in the 5 of Swords, or one of the vanquished, humiliated parties slinking away along the beach? There are no necessarily right or wrong answers to these questions – you could be any of these figures at any time – and your answers may change from one reading to the next. And this is absolutely okay!

It’s best to cultivate your intuition here: which character feels most tied to you in this moment and context as you look at the card without second-guessing? You shouldn’t ever feel bound to cling to one constant interpretation over time. Allowing for your point-of-view character to shift across readings will expand the cards’ vocabularies tremendously.

You can still sign up for the Tarot Toolkit online course – but act now, as there are only a few days left!

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Tarot: Yes/No Questions

Tarot Yes-NoAlong with questions about the timing of events, Tarot practitioners often consider binary yes/no questions to be some of the inquiries that Tarot is most ill-equipped to handle.  After all, using Tarot to answer questions isn’t really the same thing as flipping a coin.  Or at the very least, it’s like flipping a 78-sided coin — no easy task!  But there are still ways of getting these binary queries addressed…

You can assign the “Yes” answer to, say, the Yang Suits (Wands and Swords) and the “No” answer to the Yin Suits (Cups and Pentacles), and then if you draw a card from one of those Suits, you have your answer, and if you draw a Major card, you simply push past it and keep going until you pull a Minor.

You might also allow all odd numbered cards, including Majors, to represent a “Yes” answer, and all even numbered cards to signify “No” (let The Fool be card 22 rather than 0 if you go this route, so as to preserve equality between the Yes and the No).  Treat Court Cards as having no numbers at all, or treat Pages and Queens as odd numbers, and Knights and Kings as evens.

You can field the binary queries — you just need to assign some values beforehand. Tarot…is there nothing it can’t do??

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Tarot Tip: What *Isn’t* There…?

Tarot - what isn't thereWhen you practice Tarot, you spend a tremendous amount of energy on examining what’s there in a reading: “What cards show up, and which of their meanings can apply in the context of this reading…?”

Take a look at this example reading… Let’s say it’s looking into a potential new romance.  Of the cards revealed so far, a lot of boxes get checked: we see a Major card, an Ace, several numbered cards, a Court Card.  We’ve got Wands, Swords, Pentacles…

But wait– look at what *isn’t* here.  We’re asking about romance, and so far, we haven’t turned up a single card drawn from the Suit of Cups.  And if any one Suit is the home base of romance, it’s Cups.  The lack of Cups may therefore not bode well at all for this relationship.  So here’s a case where the absence of something may be just as significant as the presences…

If you’re curious about Tarot, you still have a few more days in which to sign up for the Tarot Toolkit online course!

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Tarot Tip: On Adding Other Metaphysical Systems…

Tarot and other Systems♈️ Once you start studying Tarot, you’ll quickly realize that it’s become common practice to use other metaphysical systems in conjunction with it. Some of the cards in the RWS even tell you this outright if you know what to look for, and where to find it. ♉️

♊️ For one example, concepts drawn from Astrology have been mapped onto Tarot, and you can see the various glyphs representing the Planets and Zodiac Signs embroidered into the quilt of that restless sleeper in the 9 of Swords.  ♋️

♌️ For another example, that oddly compelling pattern of the discs in the 10 of Pentacles is no accident – they’re arranged exactly like the 10 spheres, or Sephiroth, that make up Kabbalah’s Tree of Life, a mystical uber-symbol that represents all of existence. ♍️

♎️ So one of the greatest characteristics of Tarot is the fact that it lends itself so well to such collaborations. ♏️

♐️ Another great thing about Tarot is that if you have no interest in studying all of these other systems…you don’t have to. Tarot is more than deep and rich enough to stand on its own without the added layers of meanings and symbolism, and you can enjoy a terrifically fulfilling practice with it while never once missing that additional material. It’s there if you want it…but you shouldn’t feel obligated to pore over it unless you have genuine interest in it…♑️

♒️ Learn Tarot – sign up for the Tarot Toolkit online class! ♓️

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