Archive for the ‘Reflections on the Cards’ Category

The Fool Meets a Vampire

October 12, 2009

Gothic Tarot of Vampires, The Fool Rider-Waite, The Fool

In this recent post, which features cards from the Gothic Tarot of Vampires, I selected The Fool as my personal card for the week of 10/11/09 (GTV Fool, above left).

I was drawn to that menacing shadow, but then I started to think, who is The Fool in this card? The young woman clinging to the young man’s hand? She doesn’t seem to notice his other hand’s shadow is poised with ill intent. Or maybe it’s the young man who is The Fool by being unaware of his metaphorical shadow side.  Maybe they are both being Fools—they seem intrigued by something in the distance when perhaps they should be running. Or maybe The Fool is someone outside the frame of the card who is running from them—someone who can only see the larger-than-life shadows and not the innocuous beings beneath.

While pondering this original, elusive interpretation of The Fool, I couldn’t help but think about my familiar friend, the Rider-Waite-Smith Fool (above right). Now that is one sunshiny card! Stepping off a cliff never looked so good.  Then I imagined him waking up one morning to find himself in the Gothic Tarot of Vampires. Whoa!

Exercise for Reflection:

Pull The Fool card from several different decks. Imagine each Fool figure confronting a vampire. Which handles the situation with grace, confidence, or wit? Now imagine that Fool in your shoes facing a dreaded situation where fear often gets the best of you. You may find you have something to learn from him—or her.

Here are a few Fool cards. Place your cursor over a card to see what deck it is from. Click on its image to take you to Tarot Garden, where you can see more samples from the deck and make a purchase.

Housewives Tarot, Fool Vanessa Tarot, The Fool

Deviant Moon Tarot, The Fool Arthurian Tarot, Seeker

You Can’t Take It with You

June 11, 2008

It’s closet cleaning time—time to purge. Summer vacation has begun, and there’s no more excuses. I start with my teaching files and get three grocery bags of recyling. I weed out the bookshelves again. It seems they’re just as full, though I guess there’s a little more room to walk around the bed. I fill the trunk and backseat of the car with donations—old clothes, lamps, purses and so on. Then things get a little tougher. There’s that stack of high school yearbooks, notes passed during class in 6th grade, my Bat Mitzvah practice folder, way too many photos…. I’m about 80% ready to toss it all, can already anticipate what it will be like to open a closet door without things tumbling out. There’s that 20%, though—that habit of holding on. And then a thought occurs to me. If I were to drop dead tomorrow, my husband would have one hell of a time cleaning up after me. (He is appalled at the suggestion.) I stuff the garbage can with the unrecyclables and tape a tip to the lid for the guys who take away the heavy load. Today I pull these cards: Death and The Four of Pentacles.

New Vision

March 19, 2008

Tarot of the Crone, 5 of Wands Five of Wands

I was away from the computer yesterday and am delighted to see the discussion that went on regarding the post: Choose your card for the week of 3/16/08. The Tarot of the Crone, by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince is such an inspiring deck.

Cathy’s question about card meanings varying from deck to deck, and Ellen’s response, which I read late last night, clearly influenced a dream I had this morning. In it, my brother was doing a reading for himself with a Rider-Waite deck, which has been a favorite of mine, and the one I typically read with. The dream took place in the back seat of a car—we were on a road trip, and I was there trying to keep the cards in the spread from sliding all over the place. He picked up the Knight of Wands and said, “What does it mean?” I asked him to tell me what he saw, and he enthusiastically delivered an interpretation that had nothing to do with the traditional meaning of the card. (I wish I could remember what he said!) My response was, “Well, there you go. You don’t need me to tell you what the card means.” The dream morphed and some of the cards were lost and then the whole deck. We reached our destination, and I anxiously searched under the seats and through bags and suitcases. Other decks kept turning up in different sizes and themes, but all I could focus on was finding my missing Rider-Waite. I woke up and looked at my tarot altar. For the first time yesterday morning, I had placed non-Rider-Waite cards there. The reading I did with the Tarot of the Crone moved me so much that I wanted to preserve it and simply put the Rider-Waite deck aside. I’ve got tons of decks that I love to play with, but I’ve been holding on a little too tightly to that classic RW.

Like many readers, when I give a reading, I always first encourage the seeker to tell me what he or she sees, and I really do believe that there isn’t one “right” interpretation. And yet, if I’m honest with myself, I must recognize that I’ve been unconsciously and irrationally thinking about the RW deck as the definitive deck.

The discussion yesterday, along with my dream, has made me think about the connection between reader and deck creator. The deck creator is a special kind of reader who visually manifests their interpretation of the tarot. He or she may embrace or redefine the ideas behind more traditional decks—and certainly there is no one “right” way to go about it. I suppose this is obvious, but I’m really feeling it in my heart and am excited by all the different visions in my collection.

Anyway, I love Tarot of the Crone because it is so original—and haunting as Jan said—and worth a second look as Carly said. I think the uniqueness of the philosophy behind this deck is what has stirred us all.

Image from Tarot of the Crone is reproduced with permission from Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. Image from Rider-Waite Tarot is reproduced with permission from U.S. Games, Inc.

Tug of War: The Fool, Eight of Swords, and Knight of Pentacles

February 17, 2008

The Fool Eight of Swords Knight of Pentacles

That’s been me—there in the middle of the spread—the Eight of Swords, paralyzed and stuck in the mud. For weeks I’ve been contemplating a new endeavor, one that involves risk and a significant commitment. Yesterday I took the leap and sent off an email to seal the deal. I shuffled the deck and drew these cards.

I laugh when I turn over The Fool. I can imagine him grabbing my 8 of Swords self by the arm and  running into the sun. My blindfold shakes loose and drops into a puddle. For a few moments I’m tangled in the ropes that bind me, but they, too, loosen and eventually fall behind. It feels good to run. The Fool is radiant, his laughter infectious. He’s got me by the hand now, and I manage, if barely, to keep up.  We’re approaching what looks like the edge of a cliff.
I turn over the Knight of Pentacles and can feel his lasso grip my waist. He pulls me steadily towards his horse, promising a safe ride in the opposite direction. I swing myself onto the back of the Knight’s saddle. The bulk of his armor leaves little room for me to stretch and is a bit stifling, though I do feel a comforting sense of security. We trod forward at a slow, steady pace.

It’s easy for The Fool to catch up. Soon his little white dog is yipping at the Knight’s horse. The Fool teases me with the pole of his knapsack, dares me to latch on.

We run, under the bright sky, towards the snow-capped mountains.

Maybe he’s got a fever.

January 24, 2008
Four of Pentacles

Sometimes it’s nice to get sick—just sick enough to stay home from work and sip tea all day and read and play with the cards. A mildly uncomfortable vacation.

This past week I was home sick, but I was too sick. Too sick to read, too sick to look at tarot cards, even. Now and then I’d glance up from the couch at the pips framed on the wall, and it was like looking into the sun. Too much brightness there, too much vitality. It was exhausting and made me edgy.

And, darn it, wouldn’t you know, The Bohemian Gothic deck had just arrived. It occurred to me that it could be quite interesting to give it a spin while I had a fever, but I didn’t have the courage. My dreams were weird enough.

I’m feeling human again, and having neglected this blog long enough, I thought I would randomly draw a card for this post.

The Four of Pentacles. Poor guy. I think he’s got the chills. He’s bundled up in that blanket and all curled into himself—every muscle straining against the cold. The pentacles are the aspirin tablets he clings to with hope that the fever will soon break. Hang in there, buddy. It’ll pass. Soon you’ll be itching to give your limbs a good stretch, and then you might enjoy a nice long walk in that pretty town behind you.

P.S. I love The Bohemian Gothic! Sonia, you’re right, this is a fantastic deck for probing characters!

The charioteer goes to the amusement park

October 27, 2007

The Chariot

Have you ever seen those photo booths at an amusement park, or maybe the county fair? They provide costumes and sets and you can stage a family photo in a wild west saloon—Mom the sexy bar wench, Dad the piano player, pounding out a ragtime tune, and little Jason with the sheriff’s badge.

Well, sometimes the charioteer strikes me as a guy posing at a photo booth. It isn’t his idea—his girlfriend has dragged him there with the promise of a wild night.

They put what could be an apron over his Kelly’s Pub t-shirt and his long cotton shorts and strap cheap plastic moons to his shoulders. The wig, with the crown sewn on, is slipping, and the belt is too big.

He steps into the chariot, a wooden set that creaks and groans under his weight. And then they hand him a wand. What the hell is he supposed to do with a wand?

His girlfriend thinks it’s a riot.

Seven of Swords: The Library Card

October 11, 2007

Seven of Swords

Can you see this guy tiptoeing around a library, those swords in his arms like a stack of books? He’s eyeing the two he left on the shelf, wondering if he could manage them. Nope, he’ll come back.

Mary Greer, in her book, Tarot for Yourself, includes the following as part of her interpretation of the the Seven of Swords—”Research: collecting the knowledge and ideas of others.”

And what better place to research than the library? Next time you go to check out a book, don’t forget your library card—the Seven of Swords. And don’t forget to peruse the tarot section!

The High Priestess Goes Swimming

September 13, 2007

The High Priestess

Sometimes when The High Priestess card turns up, I’d like to shove her stately ass aside and tear down that pomegranate veil. I want to take a good look at that body of water behind her. I imagine stars out there, and maybe a dock. Mostly I want to dive deep and swim far.

I love to swim. I’ve always loved to swim, and this week I’ve gotten back into the water after a long absence. That first afternoon, when I slipped in and sprung off the wall, going as far under as my breath would take me, I thought of The High Priestess—queen of the watery world of the subconscious.

Swimming on the surface, you can hear the pool’s generator, which hums rather loudly, and then there’s the kids, of course, laughing and screaming their heads off in the recreation lanes. Submerge, and you can’t hear a thing, not even your name. It’s utter solitude down there—just you, alone, till you have to come up for air. Could there be a better place to turn within? To tap into those experiences and feelings submerged long ago?

My question is, Why does The High Priestess screen off the pool behind her? Is she afraid we’ll catch her swimming in the nude? Or maybe she just doesn’t like to share a lane!

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Death, the Four of Cups, and The Hermit

September 2, 2007

Death Four of Cups Hermit

Yikes! Would you want to be the guy at the center of this spread?! With two powerful forces like Death and The Hermit at his sides, no doubt big things are coming his way, and while it seems to promise transcendence and growth, it’s hard to imagine there’s not a little shake up in store for this guy. He looks fairly peaceful underneath his tree, contemplating the possibilities in the cups before him. Or maybe he’s feeling apathetic or restless, disatisfied with his choices. Either way, is he prepared for the jolt that’s about to transform his life?

I pulled these cards yesterday—could that be me at the center of the spread?!—and The Tower card came to mind. The Tower represents an event or a situation that shakes us up and forces us to take action or reexamine our beliefs. The circumstances that ignite The Tower may be unforeseen and beyond our control, but the card also warns us that being immobile or passive for too long will inevitably force a situation to a crisis point.

Ideally the gifts of Death and The Hermit will accompany The Tower. The Death card teaches us that after a life-changing event, there is no turning back, and therefore we have the chance to redefine ourselves, or to liberate ourselves from sadness, bitterness, or guilt. The Hermit encourages us not to ruminate as we think about our challenges but to become more introspective and thoughtful as a result of them.


Six of Swords: Into the Looking Glass

July 24, 2007

Six of Swords

Need to put on your lipstick? Straighten your tie? Or take a metaphorical look at yourself? If you need a mirror, make sure you use the left side of the boat for your reflection—the water’s calmer over there.

* * *

A couple weeks ago I was telling my friend Carole Pierce how disoriented I was when I received an email from a Carol Pearce. She then told me that long ago she had been drawn to the author Carol S. Pearson—in part because of her name—and in part because she had written a neat book called The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By.

When Carole recommends a book, or anything else for that matter, I must, at the very least, make a note of it. This time I hopped online and ended up ordering Pearson’s more recent book, Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World. I can’t put it down—and quickly realized it would provide the perfect framework for a course in mythology that Carole and I will be teaching in the fall. Even I, cynic of cynics, have to admit this seems a bit synchronistic. Do you agree?

I’m very excited about the mythology course, which I’ll write about in the future, but I want to put in a plug for Awakening the Heroes Within. While it’s not a tarot book—tarot doesn’t even show up in the index—every page deepens my understanding of the major arcana. Pearson takes twelve archetypes and maps them onto the hero’s journey. She also looks at their part in the development of our Ego, Soul, and Self. It’s an accessible introduction to the principles of Jungian psychology and demonstrates, if not explicitly, the psychological depth of the cards.

You may be asking, What’s the deal with the Six of Swords? Well, there’s a quote from the book which, while talking about the Sage archetype, offers a new interpretation of the Six of Swords:

“In therapy, the Sage allows us to notice our pathological patterns, and to see the way we have been projecting our own scripts or perceptions onto the world. It observes those patterns and is capable of experiencing greater truth beyond them. The difference between reflecting reality in a relatively adequate way and through distorted thinking is like the difference between looking at the world reflected in a calm pond and in one in which the water is moving” (59).

Many tarotists note the imagery of the Six of Swords, which suggests moving to calmer waters. The card can also symbolize, in part, the need to accept the truth and move on or risk being imprisoned by a limited point of view. Taking a look at oneself and one’s circumstanses seems pretty important here, but it’s truly self-defeating if the reflection isn’t clear.