Archive for the ‘Special Topics in Tarot’ Category

Lunchtime Tarot Exercise for 11/13/09

November 13, 2009
Debbie at Lunchtime Tarot

Debbie at Lunchtime Tarot

Lunchtime Tarot is a come-when-you-can group that meets each Friday at my office in San Mateo, CA. I post the exercises here each week for those who are unable to slip away to join us.

This week’s session was devoted to birth card(s). To learn a simple way to determine your birth card, click here. The Tarot School also has a birth card calculator.

Birth Card Reflection

  1. Explore the imagery of the card. What detail stands out when you first look at the card? What is happening in the card? Is there a story there? Consider what might have happened five minutes earlier and what might happen five minutes later. What is the mood of the card? Consider the setting, the weather, and the expression on the faces of the figure(s) in the card.
  2. When I look at this card I feel…
  3. These words and phrases come to mind when I look at this card:
  4. This card reminds me of this significant childhood experience:
  5. This card reminds me of this significant experience from my adolescence:
  6. This card reminds me of this significant experience in recent years:
  7. This card reminds me of this person who has shaped my life:
  8. This card challenges me to…
  9. This card represents my potential to…
  10. This card warns me against…
  11. I hate this birth card because…
  12. I love this birth card because…
  13. I wish was my birth card instead of this one because…
  14. Choose another card in the deck (perhaps your year card) to interview your birth card about what it sees as your strengths and weaknesses. Write a dialogue between them.
  15. Imagine that you are teaching a class on something that you enjoy doing and that your birth card is your student. Write the scene that unfolds.
  16. Imagine that your birth card is willing to barter the secret to its virtue for the secret to one of your own. Write the dialogue between you.
  17. Do a three card reading for your birth card.
  18. Calculate the birth card for a significant person in your life. Imagine each of your birth cards in conversation about the two of you. If you have the same birth card, you might use cards from different decks. Write a dialogue between them.
  19. Find your birth card in several different decks. Which do you like best? Which do you like least?

Tarot Table Talk Podcast Episode Number 5: A Tarot Ritual for Day of the Dead

October 31, 2007

Day of the Dead Marigold

Episode 5 of the Tarot Table Talk podcast is in MP3 format, 14.3 MB, and approximately 10 minutes in length.

In this episode, I share a bit about the Mexican tradition, Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, which is celebrated on November 2nd. I also suggest a simple tarot ritual to honor the spirit and memory of a loved one.

Day of the Dead Tarot Ritual
(This can be done anytime you wish to honor someone’s memory.)

Go through your deck, face up, and pull four to eight cards that remind you of a loved one who has died.

The cards you choose might reflect your loved one’s personality and/or talents, a struggle they endured, the gifts they left behind, your memories, etc.

Once you have chosen your cards, place them in a circle, face down, and light a candle at the center. Then turn each card over, one at a time. After turning a card over, allow yourself sufficient time to reflect before turning over the next.

If you would like to embellish the ritual by adding the traditional elements of a Day of the Dead altar, you might include

  • a photo of your loved one.
  • an offering of flowers, the fragrance of which will lead the way to your altar. Marigolds are the traditional flower, representing death, but you might, instead, choose to go with the favorite flower of the one whom you are honoring.
  • copal incense, another strong fragrance to help lead the way.
  • candles to light the way.
  • your loved one’s favorite foods and beverages.
  • any special objects that you know they would enjoy. For example, for an artist, you might include tubes of paint and brushes.
  • sugar skulls or playful images of skeletons as a non-threatening reminder that we all must die, that death is a part of life.
  • Day of the Dead Altar

    An altar I once did for family members who have died.

    * * *

    You might want to check out the tarot deck— Tarot of the Dead!

Tarot for Kids

August 23, 2007

Bar Mitzvah

Here I am preparing to give a birth card reading to Jack, at his Bar Mitzvah reception. What a fun party that was!

If there is a young person in your life who expresses an interest in tarot, you can’t go wrong with a one-card birth card reading. (See The Magician’s Table webite for instructions on calculating birth cards.) This limits the possible cards that will come up to The Fool, The Magician, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, and The Hermit—all friendly, innocuous cards.

Try this:

Calculate the birth card.

Lay the card in front of the young person.

Ask him or her to describe the card. You can give prompts: What is happening in this card? How would you describe this figure’s personality? Does it remind you of a part of yourself or anyone you know?

Explain the potential the card represents. For example, if the birth card is The High Priestess, you might frame it this way: You have the potential to make good decisions because you have the ability listen to your heart and understand what motivates you. Deep down you know when to stop and think before you act. You also have the ability to keep secrets. You may need to adjust your language depending on the age of the young person.

Because I don’t use the cards to make predictions and would never use them to tell someone what he or she should do, I feel comfortable sharing them with any child who expresses interest. Because of the tarot’s misunderstood and controversial nature, I do, however, feel it is in my best interest to have parental consent for minors.

When reading for a child, I pull out The Death card, The Devil and the Ten of Swords. Last month I had tea with my new friend, Anastasia, of Tarot-To-Go (check out her podcast!). She recommended a couple decks she likes to use with children: Children Tarot and Tarot of Oz. There is also a great site dedicated to using the tarot with children, and it includes images from several recommended decks: Tarots for Children and Children at Heart

For a young teen I will explain that the tarot has some images and cards that some find scary or negative, and that while they don’t predict that anything bad will happen, and may even validate what they are experiencing or feeling, we can take them out of the deck. I leave it up to them. When I had this conversation with my friend’s fourteen-year old daughter, she rolled her eyes and said, “The Death card would freak my mom out, but it doesn’t scare me.”

A fantastic book for a teen who wants to study tarot is Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled by Rachel Pollack. Even though this is written for a teen audience, I actually think it is one of the best introductory books anyone could have.

Write in if you have any thoughts about working with young folks—or techniques.

To Share or not To Share: Coming out as a Tarotist

July 20, 2007

I don’t often talk about my tarot work with others because I’m afraid of being judged. I’m not a psychic but people will think that I think I’m a psychic. People will think that I think I’m a fortune teller. People will think I’m a whacko or weirdo or a spacey new-aged hippy. Or maybe they’ll respond that tarot is the work of the devil or against their religion. I worry that I’ll be shut down or won’t get the opportunity to explain that I’m attracted to tarot because it’s a wonderful tool for self-reflection and creative expression—that I’ve never once used it to make a prediction.

This afternoon I finished a six-day intensive teacher education course in order to renew my credential. On the first day—of course—the professor asked us to introduce ourselves to a partner. And—of course—we were to share something personal as well as a little about our teaching experience. This is uncomfortable for an introvert, and for and introverted tarot reader, it’s a nightmare. My partner started oil painting four years ago. Lucky her. Me? Um. Well. Hmm. I like to write fiction, I said. (Never mind that I haven’t touched my novel in about a year.)

A few days later, I got a little braver. When we were asked to share something that was going on in our lives with a small group, I told them that I had just taught a beginning tarot workshop. Another classmate said that he was into tarot and different forms of divination and then we moved on with the next phase of the activity. Phew.

Today, as we finished our finals and were saying our goodbyes, my classmate wanted to know more about the workshop I did. I gave him my business card, and the professor noticed the exchange. “Why didn’t you share this with the whole class?” She asked.

“Well, not everyone’s into tarot,” I said sheepishly.

What she said next will stay with me even more than the wealth of wisdom I have filed away over the six days. She said something like this: “The universe doesn’t give everyone the opportunity to learn about and try different things. If people learn about something from someone they admire, they might develop an interest in it or gain a new perspective on it. That’s why I give students the opportunity to share.”


My professor made me realize that if I want to see tarot go mainstream—and I do, I do, I do—then I need to be willing to talk it up when I get the opportunity and not worry about misconceptions people might have or how I might be judged.

Thanks Professor C !

Questions about Tarot?

June 6, 2007

If you have any questions about tarot, or if there are any topics that you would like to see covered in this blog, please let me know. You can post them right here.



Would love to hear from you!

May 19, 2007

It’s a bit lonely out here at Tarot Table Talk. So far I’m the one that’s doing all the talking! I would love to hear your thoughts and insights on the cards, and I’m hoping I can encourage you to post some comments.


Tarot Birth Cards for Dummies

May 16, 2007

If you want to learn to read the cards and are feeling overwhelmed, a great place to start is with an exploration of your tarot birth card. Your birth card represents your potential. It embodies qualities you may have already developed as well as challenges inherent to the card’s theme.

There are different methods for calculating a birth card, but my favorite is the one my friend Carole Pierce of Crossroads Tarot taught me. It is simple, even for the mathematically challenged. (more…)


April 10, 2007

Recently my tarot partner, Carole, and I did readings at a birthday celebration. The guest of honor sat down for her reading and The Lovers card turned up. Ordinarily I love it when this card appears, knowing it is the most hoped for, but this time I winced inside.


I pushed on. “How would you describe this card?” I asked her. “Well, there’s a man and a woman,” she said, pointedly. She was a lesbian. I knew this only because her partner, a woman, threw the party.

I love the Rider-Waite deck, but The Lovers card, the Two of Cups, and the Ten of Cups—the three cards of love—all depict male/female couples. (more…)

How did you get into tarot?

April 9, 2007

When I was twelve I would get my little brother to test my psychic ability by holding up playing cards so I could guess if they were black or red. We would both hold our breath as I got a couple right but soon my brother would lose interest—my psychic aptitude proving to be naught, and I’d go back to the ESP books I checked out from the library and he’d go back to his matchbox cars.

It was around this time that I hopped on the bus and went to the Central Park Bookstore for my first deck of tarot cards. I chose the Rider-Waite knock-off by Merrimack Publishing. It has captions at the bottom of each card. At twelve, I could understand “Bad news” for the Nine of Wands and “A good marriage” for the Ten of Cups, but I was befuddled by “A good augury for military,” (Nine of Cups) and wasn’t sure what “Celebrity for a man’s oldest son” (Three of Pentacles) might have to do with my fortune. The cards got shoved in a drawer, but they survived high school, and college and several moves. I still have them.

A number of years ago I worked at a domestic violence agency and an art therapist suggested that I use Deborah Koff-Chapin’s Soul Cards or Chuck Spezzano’s Enlightenment Cards in my sessions with clients. The cards were a wonderful tool. I would lay out about twenty face up and ask the client to choose a card that represented what they were feeling that day, or for a last session I might have them select cards that represented where they were when they first came to the agency, where they were at that moment, and where they hoped to be six months later.

When I started teaching high school English, I brought the decks in for a creative writing exercise. I bought some tarot decks and threw them into the mix as well. It was fortuitous that Carole, the teacher I shared a room with, came in a little early that day. She saw the kids working with the cards and decided it was safe to come out to me as a tarot reader. She gave me my first reading that summer, and it was the start of a special friendship as well as my tarot addiction! We now teach classes and read at parties together.

I’d love to hear how other folks got into tarot, so please post your stories!

Welcome to Tarot Table Talk!

March 4, 2007

When I launched The Magician’s Table website, it was for the purpose of promoting and selling crafts and jewelry that featured cards from the Rider-Waite tarot deck. While I enjoy making crafts, I have come to realize that I take more delight in reading the cards and teaching others about them.

In this blog I hope to offer information, resources, and reflections on the cards that will be of interest to the curious as well as to those who wish to begin or further their tarot studies.

I am attracted to the blog format because it allows for discussion, and I am looking forward to hearing from others!