deck

Book Review – Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot by Lon Milo DuQuette

March, 2019

Book Review
Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot
New Edition
by Lon Milo DuQuette

I have in my hands the new edition of Lon Milo DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot published in 2017 by Weiser books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC (65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950), and I am excited and intimidated. Excited because I already own the 2003 edition of this valuable book (I purchased it early on in my Tarot career, right after I bought the Thoth Tarot alet, nd Crowley’s The Book of Thoth), and intimidated because compared to DuQuette (who, by the way, was intimidated by the idea of writing this book in the first place), I am a neophyte as far as the Thoth Tarot goes. Excitement wins out, so let’s dive in.

Like many Tarot enthusiasts, I originally purchased my Thoth Tarot Deck, and then decided that I must have Crowley’s version of a LWB (“little white book,” the pamphlet included with many decks), his 287 page companion book to the deck titled The Book of Thoth. While filled with amazing knowledge and lore regarding Crowley’s deck, this book is not for beginners and I found that I could not read it without having several reference books beside me. My next purchase was DuQuette’s book and I have never regretted that purchase. DuQuette is known as a “Crowley expert,” an authority on both the man himself and the deck he fashioned. As DuQuette is also an O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis) member, he is able to present in plain language the ideas and concepts that Crowley had in mind as he created his deck.

Understanding the Thoth Tarot has a soft cover with a matte finish color photo of the image for the Princess of Disks created by Lady Freida Harris, the artist of the Thoth Tarot Deck, on the front. This is the same cover image as the 2003 edition, but with more intensity added to the colors, a hint of what is to come. The book is 6 inches by 9 inches and has 330 pages printed on white paper with an easily-readable black type face that is a bit small but considering the astounding amount of information to be found in the book, understandable and worth the effort.

DuQuette offers quite a bit of information about Crowley, the Tarot in general, and the Thoth Tarot in particular, beginning with his Preface to the second edition and continuing with chapters regarding Aleister Crowley, Lady Harris, the artist who created the potent images of the Thoth Tarot, and the images she created, and background information that serves as the foundation for the Thoth Tarot, such as Thelema, the Tree of Life, the Rose Cross, the Egyptian Pantheon, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and shifts of consciousness, as well as symbols, colors, sex magick, and the Holy Guardian Angel. Part II, The Cards, does not come until page 79, and the actual information regarding the individual cards begins with The Fool on page 96. In this book DuQuette truly offers us deep and extensive background information regarding the Thoth Tarot, and he shares many rabbit holes that will lure us to learn more about the topics covered.

There are 176 pages of information regarding the cards themselves. Each Major Arcana card is described with an image of the Thoth card, a description of the traditional image of the card, the name of the card, the element, Hebrew letter, and the colors associated with the card, several quotes, and two or more pages of descriptions. The Minor Arcana cards are described with an image, a description of the traditional image, the name, element, astrological information and colors associated with the card, and at least one page of descriptive text.

After the card descriptions, DuQuette continues with chapters describing the divination process and suggested divinatory meanings for the cards. Chapter 21 contains a glossary of Thelemic terms and Tarot terms, followed by footnotes. The inside back cover contains a beautiful full-color image of the complete Hermetic Rose Cross, described and defined by DuQuette within the book.

Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot is a necessary book for even the most casual Tarot enthusiast. Yes, it is like any other textbook: it is no easy read but rather reaches deep and challenges us to become familiar with terms and concepts that might not be a part of our everyday life. But since we are drawn to the Tarot because it broadens our minds and allows us to articulate ideas and visions, we should open ourselves to the opportunity to learn presented by this book, without hesitation.

There are small additions to the original 2003 edition. DuQuette has added an introduction that provides information regarding sex magick and the cards, a description of the unicursal hexagram card that is included with some Thoth decks, and DuQuette’s own Roll-With-the-Flow spread.

In my opinion, DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot is the quintessential book on the Tarot in general, and the Thoth Tarot in particular. This is truly a comprehensive read on the Thoth Tarot and the esoteric knowledge connected to the deck. This is a Tarot book you will return to again and again, for the more you learn about the Thoth Tarot deck, the more you will get from re-reading the chapters of this book.

Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot: New Edition on Amazon

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Tarot Talk

March, 2019

The King of Pentacles

(The King of Pentacles card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We have one more King to talk about, the King of Pentacles. Let’s get busy!

As a reminder, the 78 cards of a Tarot deck consist of 22 Major Arcana cards (dealing with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, and archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives) and 56 Minor Arcana cards (customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements and dealing with day-to-day issues).

The Court Cards are a part of the Minor Arcana, acting as a representation of the family unit (“families” of all kinds) and individually representing particular personality traits of people, places and events in our lives. These cards can also tell us about our own personality and how it is perceived by others. Thinking of Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, is particularly appropriate for the Court Cards, as they are the most human of all the cards in a Tarot deck. Even the illustrations for the Court Cards show humans in the majority of Tarot decks.

Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The lowest ranking Court Card is usually called the Page, the messenger or intern or apprentice who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Next comes the Knight, the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.

Both the Queen and the King represent mature adults. The Queen manifests her suit in a feminine or yin or inner way, and the King manifests his suit in a masculine or yang or outer way. This manifestation does not necessarily correspond to gender; a man can be represented by a Tarot Queen if he has a strong inner focus, and a woman can be represented by a Tarot King if she projects a strong sense of authority. Some decks change the names around, but the meanings in the hierarchy of the Tarot Court are pretty standard. Since we are talking about the King of Pentacles today, we already know that our King will manifest his suit in an outer yet mature manner. Our King is concerned with results; he exhibits outer, public expertise in his field, and he is an authority figure. In many ways, the Kings of the Tarot Court can be seen as four facets of The Emperor of the Major Arcana.

Our King’s suit this month is Pentacles. The suit of Pentacles (or Coins, Stones or Disks) corresponds with the element of Earth, and of the physical body, physical manifestation, and wealth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins or disks on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards as well as trees, flowers and green, verdant growth, all of which will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Earth itself.

In its natural state, Earth is cool and dry, and it binds or shapes the other elements. Earth is of the physical or physically formed or manifested world, and of nurturing, health, finances and security, and the wisdom associated with living simply and being well-grounded. Earth is the element of form and substance; it is connected to material world security (and even wealth), and to our physical bodies and physical senses, and the pleasures and pains they bring. Earth represents the nurturing and serene side of Nature, and it represents the tangible end result of our labors. Earth is about security and stillness, and knowing what to expect; it is about strength, discipline, and physical manifestation of all kinds, and about enjoying the fruits of our labors. Earthy energies are fertile, practical, and slow to change.

You can see how easy it is to connect the element of Earth to our daily lives, our physical bodies, our careers and our finances, our families, and the natural world around us. These things are all the main correspondences of the element of Earth, the suit of Pentacles, and of course, are connected to the realm of our King of Pentacles.

In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence (in this case, the element of Earth), and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Pages correspond with Earth, Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, and Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). Since we are talking about a King today, we are also talking about the element of Air, or the element of Fire, depending on the deck. For our purposes today, we will see the King of Pentacles as Air of Earth.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. It is hot and wet, and separates and adapts. Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance so we can clearly see and understand, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds. Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen. If you see the rank of King as representing the element of Air, this information applies to the Kings of your deck, including the King of Pentacles. Elementally, the King of Pentacles would represent resolute force, where intellect overrides the senses, and since Air and Earth are unfriendly (they share no qualities), they weaken each other.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our King of Wands corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Aries and Taurus.

Aries is a cardinal Fire sign that acts as a catalyst, a person that inspires others by being totally committed to his or her own vision. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, the leader of the pack, first in line to get things going. Those born under this sign prefer to initiate, and they won’t shy away from anything new. Aries people are action oriented, assertive, and competitive. Aries is ruled by Mars, the god of war and passion, bold and aggressive, and able to tap into the focus needed to take on any challenge. The symbol of Aries is the Ram, blunt and to the point, and a sheer force of nature. The great strength of those born under this sign is found in their initiative, courage and determination.

Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, is all about reward. Physical pleasures, material goods, and soothing surroundings are all important to a Taurus. The good life in all its guises is heaven on Earth to those born under this sign. Taurus is a fixed sign, and it represents steady persistence sometimes seen as stubbornness. Taurus is symbolized by the Bull, and Bulls are among the most practical and reliable members of the zodiac, happy to plod along slowly but surely toward a goal. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure, which is why harmony and beauty are a huge part of this sign’s personality. Taurus is a true-blue, loyal sign as well, and slow to anger; like the element of Earth, Taurus is about strength of body as well as strength of heart.

The energies of Aries and Taurus together tend to mesh nicely because what one sign is lacking, the other sign supplies. Aries keeps our King from being boring, and Taurus keeps him from being too independent. Aries is ruled by Mars and passion, and Taurus is ruled by Venus and sensuality and love. Aries will push for growth, progress and new developments, and Taurus will keep to the budget, make sure the resources are in place, and keep everyone safe. While there is always the danger of conflict within this King, he also has the ability to lead and inspire all of his subjects, no matter who they are.

Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Kings correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, along with all of the Twos of the Minor Arcana and the element of Fire. The Kings sit at the top of the Pillar of Force in the sephira of Chokmah, representing the Sacred Masculine and the Catalyst of Life. Chokmah is seen as dynamic thrust, the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus is connected to the Wheel of the Year. The energies of this sephira represent dynamic male energy and are the origin of vital force and polarity.

The Shadowscapes Tarot King of Pentacles is shown as a strong tree laden with ripe and juicy fruit. His roots grasp the earth with strength as they reach and absorb the resources of the soil, allowing a powerful trunk and wide-spreading branches to reach for the stars. He holds a seed in the palm of one hand, and around the base of the trunk a beautiful dragon is coiled, guarding all. This King is an enterprising individual who has the Midas touch; he turns everything he touches into brilliant success. His branches shield those around him, his trunk offers sturdy support to lean upon, and his fruits are shared with everyone. From the seed, new sprouts will grow, spreading the wealth.

The Tarot of Bones King of Pentacles is represented by a bison skull. The bison was the ultimate provider for the natives living on the American plains; from the bison they received meat for food, hides for clothes, and bones and horns for art and tools. Non-humans benefited from the bison as well, from wolves and other predators to vultures and other scavengers, to insects and bacteria. The grazing of the bison helped to keep the grasses in check, lessening the impacts of wildfires, and their hooves churned and aerated the soil and buried seeds, ensuring the continuation of the grasses in the next season. This card reminds us to examine our resources and prosperity, and to remember those upon whom we rely for sustenance and well-being. It also reminds us that at times we must be the backbone, and offer our own skills and resources to assist others.

The Thoth Tarot Knight (King) of Disks stands next to his grazing horse, gazing at the surrounding hills and fertile fields lit by the afternoon sun. He seems to be contemplating a harvest rather than a battle; he tends to keep his nose to the grindstone without indulging in intellectual musings. He tells of being materially focused, clever and patient regarding those material matters but can also be a bit dull.

The image on the Wild Unknown Tarot Father of Pentacles shows a Stag’s head, regal and in his prime. The feeling evoked while looking at the image on the Father of Pentacles is one of respect, honor, the ability to protect, and prime masculine creativity. The Stag gets to reach this stage of life because he is able to defeat all that challenge him; he is in a sense the fittest of his species that has survived to breed. This card is about having a mighty presence in the physical world; it is about not only the thrill of competition, but it is also about turning a win into both honor and status, and the continuance of a fertile lineage, to the benefit of all.

The Legacy of the Divine King of Coins stands on a richly appointed balcony decorated with golden leafy vines, clothed in green and gold robes and holding a large golden coin. He does not wear a crown, showing his connection to the common man and indicating his purpose: regulating the energies of heaven and earth and balancing the forces of nature. He oversees growth, wealth and resources, and manages them for the benefit of all.

The King of Pentacles is the embodiment of his element. He is realistic, dependable, values possessions and tangible things, and is a good provider. He prefers steady progress and is loyal and honorable. This King attracts opportunities and knows how to take advantage of them. He is good at managing others because he inspires them to succeed. He is a philanthropist who gives generously of his time and attention because he knows that the more he gives, the more he receives in return. Others rely on the King of Pentacles because he is always there for them and he never fails to support them.

When the King of Pentacles shows up, you can be confident that you have the ability to recognize opportunities and the skill to take advantage of them. He tells you that now is the time to manifest your vision of success and translate your ideas into reality!

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

The Gilded Tarot (Book and Tarot Deck Set) on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Review – Animal Totems And The Gemstone Kingdom- Spiritual Connections of Crystal Vibrations and Animal Medicine Book & The Animal Allies and Gemstone Guardians Cards by Margaret Ann Lembo

February, 2019

This is a book and oracle deck that go together. The book is titled “Animal Totems and the Gemstone Kingdom” and the cards are titled “The Animal Allies and Gemstone Oracle Cards”. Both by Margaret Ann Lembo. The book is 222 pages and the deck has 44 cards with images and written information on both sides of cards. work by Richard Crookes, crystal photos by Andy Frame Photography and Ines Blersch Fotografie. Published by Findhorn Press, 2018. The book retails for $19.99 U.S. and the cards retail for $15.99 U.S. They are available at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The oracle deck has 44 animals on one side of the card, and 44 crystals on the other side. Each side has a small image of the respective animal or crystal, and a paragraph with prompts, guidance and food for thought. You could simply pick a card and receive both an animal spirit message and a crystal message. If you just got the deck this would function nicely on its own. I like the variety of animals and crystals, there are some different ones you don’t see often included.

This is a book and oracle card deck that are meant to work together, but honestly both are also great on their own. Both have a ton of information and different content.

The book is a tool in and of itself as you could just randomly flip to any page you feel called to to do your reading like that. 

Or you can use the book to gain further insight on each card. There are two full pages on each corresponding oracle card in the book. After you read the card, go to the matching card in the book (they are in alphabetical order by the animal). It has many correspondences and interesting information to make your experience richer. Another thing that’s included in this book are multiple great appendixes at the back as well as a fabulous glossary. You can use the appendix to look up other crystals that correspond to a given animal, or to look up animals that correspond to archangels and angels. It even has an appendix for wheel of life locations for animal totems. How cool is that? Whether you want this book as a resource or as a tool to receive messages, either is covered with this book. I’m very impressed by the amount of content here.

In conclusion I have really thoroughly enjoyed both this book & the oracle cards. I have used them for myself and for friends and family and everyone loved them. Crystals and animals are two of my very favorite things and this combines them both in a cohesive and unique way that I haven’t seen before. I recommend them both completely. I will use these forever and thank you so much to Findhorn Press for allowing me to review them. 

Crystal blessings

Animal Totems and the Gemstone Kingdom: Spiritual Connections of Crystal Vibrations and Animal Medicine on Amazon

The Animal Allies and Gemstone Guardians Cards on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Retha N. Lent has been married for 17 years to her husband Mark & they have four cats that are their life. She lives in Norristown, Pa. Retha has her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Behavioral Counseling Sciences from Drexel University. She is the owner of “Retha’s Crystals” & sells sterling silver unique crystal jewelry & specimens on her FB business page. She has a FB group for her customers and those interested in learning more about crystals & all things magical called “Retha’s Crystal Circle“. She is also an advisor in the Sage Goddess Affiliate Program. She has her Holistic Healing Certificate and Pillars of Priestessing certificates from Sage Goddess. She is also an Ordained Pagan Minister from the Universal Life Church. Retha has a passion for crystals, nature, astrology, working with moon cycles, ritual practices, tarot and oracle cards, runes, essential oils, herbs, manifestation work, ancient cultures, magic & music. Her favorite place is New Orleans, La. Retha has an extensive personal crystal collection and loves sharing her love of crystals with the world. She has been a practicing pagan since she was 16 years old. 

You can reach her at rethalent@hotmail.com or on her business page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/Rethas-Crystals-197411227666484/

Or in her FB group:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1960619300929876

Her Sage Goddess affiliate link is:

www.sagegoddess.com/ref/84/

Or follow her on Instagram at @spookygirl16

Tarot Deck & Journal Review – The Fountain Tarot Deck

January, 2019

Tarot Deck & Journal Review

The Fountain Tarot Deck

The Fountain Tarot is created by Jonathan Saiz, visual artist, written by Jason Gruhl, writer, and designed by Andi Todaro, graphic designer. The deck was originally self-published in 2013 via a Kickstarter project and is currently published by Roost , an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc., 4720 Walnut Street, Boulder CO 80301.

The deck itself consists of 79 cards, the typical 56 Minor Arcana cards and 22 Major Arcana cards, along with a bonus 23rd Major. The 23rd Major Arcana card is named “The Fountain,” the signature card of the deck, and assigned the values of infinity, oneness, and being fully awake. The deck is printed on sturdy cardstock (similar to the Wild Unknown Tarot), with a matte finish, almost powdery to the touch. The stock is sturdy enough to make a “bridge” or “riffle” shuffle a bit challenging, but the cards are otherwise easy to handle and nicely-substantial to the hand. The cards are 2¾ by 4¾ inches with a narrow white border around the images and a startlingly reflective silver guild on the edges of the cards. The titles of the Minors are at the bottom of the card image and at the top for the Majors, both in an easy-to-read font.

The deck comes in a very sturdy and practical hard cardboard glossy box designed by Andi Todaro that has a magnetic closure and a ribbon that allows the deck to be lifted from the box, rather than dumped out. There is plenty of room in the high-quality box to securely store the deck and the companion book that comes with it.

The softcover companion book has 112 pages. After a brief note from the creators of the deck, there is a suggested daily practice, a description of The Fountain card, the Major and Minor Arcana, the suits of the Minors, a few suggested spreads, and a sample reading and interpretation. The rest of the book is devoted to the individual cards themselves, with a page for each card containing the name and number of the card, a keyword, a brief description of the card image and the symbolism and artistic choices made in the creation of the image, and an upright and reversed meaning.

The images are modern and somewhat minimalist, with a subdued palette and geometric lines and angles. The art has an abstract or contemporary feel similar to the slight distortions of expressionism and combined with the non-traditional images, could be challenging to those who are more confident working with the traditional images of the Tarot. However, the artwork is not simple or shallow by any means. Each card image originated as an original full-size oil painting by artist Jonathan Saiz, giving each card image depth, power and intensity. The back of the cards, designed by Andi Todaro, have a beautiful geometric kaleidoscope design containing the palette of the deck and easily reversed (for those who read reversals).

If you are an intuitive reader, this deck might interest you. Normally I would not recommend a deck with non-traditional card images for beginners. Yes, the images do deviate somewhat from the traditional R/W deck in part because of their fluid abstract interpretations of the more traditional Tarot symbolism, however these ethereal and dream-like images are strongly grounded within the known and established traditional meanings found in the companion book, so the images make sense even to someone who has just begun to work with the Tarot. The setup of the companion book is well-balanced, with equal consideration given to the Minor Arcana as to the Major Arcana (unlike many companion books, which often offer more information and suggested interpretations for the Majors).

The Fountain Tarot Journal

Also available as a companion to The Fountain Tarot is The Fountain Tarot Journal: A Year In 52 Readings, also published by Roost . The Journal has a matte finish color soft cover and 160 pages; it begins with a Note From the Creators followed with some useful information including How to Use This Book, Tarot Basics, Sample Spreads, among others. The rest of the 130 pages are for journaling, beginning with instructions for choosing a Card of the Year, space for a 3-card, 5-card and 10-card reading, and then space for the 52 readings (with 2 pages for each reading), including Quarterly Cards and summaries, and ending with a Year-End Summary and Reflection. Each reading section has space for the date and time, the question asked, traits and meanings, initial reaction, connections/relationships between the cards, patterns and themes, a summary of what the cards represent, personal reflections, action to be taken, and people to enlist. Although presented as a companion to The Fountain Tarot, this Journal could be used with any Tarot deck, and it offers a useful tool and process for nurturing a deep connection to the cards of Tarot.

The Fountain Tarot: Illustrated Deck and Guidebook on Amazon

The Fountain Tarot Journal: A Year in 52 Readings on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Review of The Queen of the Moon Oracle Deck Created by Stacey Demarco

December, 2018

Review of The Queen of the Moon Oracle Deck

Created by Stacey Demarco

 

 

The Queen of the Moon Oracle is an Oracle deck created by Stacey Demarco, an author and animal activist known as The Modern Witch and the creator of Natureluster, a group which educates people about and connects people to the powers of nature. The Oracle comes in a nice sturdy 4” x 5½” cardboard box with color images on the front and a bit of information about the Oracle on the back. Inside the box are the 44 6” x 9” cards of the deck and the companion guidebook. This hauntingly beautiful Oracle and guidebook were published by Rockpool Publishing, PO Box 252, Summer Hill NSW 2130.

The companion guidebook is the same size as the cards (so everything fits neatly into the beautiful box) and contains 108 pages printed on white paper with an easy-to-read black font, bound in a sturdy glossy softcover with a beautiful card image of the Queen of the Moon on the front cover and a continuation of the starry skies behind the Queen on the back. The companion book begins with a preface written by Demarco, an introduction that offers brief information about the Moon and its phases and a description of some of the correspondences we associate with lunar energy. Next are instructions for using the Oracle including spreads and a simple dedication, and a description of the setup of the deck itself.

There are three categories of cards in the Queen of the Moon Oracle: 28 cards representing a full cycle from the Dark Moon and back to it; 12 cards, called Seasonal Lunar cards, based on the Lakota terms passed down through Native American generations; and 4 other lunar-related cards including 2 astronomical cards. The cards begin with Dark Moon (card 1) and New Moon (card 2), then move on through 6 Waxing Crescent cards, a First Quarter card, 6 Waxing Gibbous cards, a Full Moon card, 6 Waning Gibbous cards, a Last Quarter card, and 6 Waning Crescent cards. The Seasonal Lunar cards follow, offering descriptions of the energies of the Wolf Moon, the Snow Moon, the Flower Moon, and the Harvest Moon to name a few, followed by the Queen of the Moon, the Lunar God, the Blue Moon and the Super Moon. Each card section offers a color image of the card, a keyword, a description of the keyword meaning, an affirmation, a discussion of the individual card meaning and/or the theme of the Moon phase that encourages and supports a useful interpretation, and a suggested companion crystal or metal.

The images on the cards and in the guidebook are created by Kinga Britschgi, a Hungarian-born artist, digital artist, published author, and language teacher who lives in the US with her family. The cards themselves are 3½” x 5”; each card is printed on sturdy cardstock in vibrant glossy color on both the front and the back. The face of each card contains a number at the top, the name of the moon phase, and the keyword also found in the guidebook, along with the sumptuous images. The card art is gorgeous, with jewel-toned colors and images filled with powerful symbolism that instantly attracts me into each card and draws me to learn more about its energies. The art on the back of the cards shows the phases of the moon in a circle on a beautiful blue background. Because of the combination of the glossy finish that allows the cards to slide easily and the sturdy cardstock, even though they are a tiny bit wide for my hands these cards absolutely invite interaction. Shuffling the deck was easy and once the deck was spread before me, the images resonated deeply and powerfully.

The Queen of the Moon Oracle is a useful tool for tapping into the energies of the moon and the lunar cycle and determining how to integrate them into our lives and our goals. Shuffling the cards and drawing a card or a few cards each day, or throwing one of the spreads suggested in the guidebook, would create a spread that offers emotional, spiritual, and energetic messages that would be useful to any seeker. But there is another purpose for this beautiful Oracle: learning about the cycles of the moon and how they affect us. The deck contains a full lunar cycle of 28 days with suggested energies available on each day. Going through the first 28 cards of the Oracle in order and meditating daily on the corresponding card would bring a hugely useful understanding of our planet’s satellite, and would offer suggested focuses for the day, week, and lunar month going forward.

If you are drawn to the Moon, its meanings, its changing appearance in the sky, and the symbolism and effects on our lives that have been passed down through the generations from our ancestors, you will enjoy the Queen of the Moon Oracle.

Queen of the Moon Oracle: Guidance through Lunar and Seasonal Energies (Rockpool Oracle Cards) on Amazon

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Tarot Talk

November, 2018

Four of Coins

(The Four of Coins card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Pentacles, and remind ourselves of what happens when we have begun to find success within the physical world.

The Four of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Pentacles. As we have already discovered, these two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation. We have other useful things to consider, too, such as symbolism, astrology, and more.

The traditional image of the Four of Pentacles is of a well-dressed person wearing a crown and sitting on a throne, with a pentacle under each foot, a pentacle above the crown, and a pentacle held firmly with both arms. Behind the seated person is the skyline of what appears to be a well-organized and prosperous city; above is a blue and cloud-free sky. Most versions of the Four of Pentacles are similar: four Pentacles being guarded, although there is no indication exactly what they are being guarded from.

The suit of Pentacles (or Coins, Stones or Disks) corresponds with the element of Earth, and of the physical body, physical manifestation, and wealth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins or disks on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards as well as trees, flowers and green, verdant growth, all of which will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Earth itself.

In its natural state, Earth is cool and dry, and it binds or shapes the other elements. Earth is of the physical or physically formed or manifested world, and of nurturing, health, finances and security, and the wisdom associated with living simply and being well-grounded. Earth is the element of form and substance; it is connected to material world security (and even wealth), and to our physical bodies and physical senses, and the pleasures and pains they bring. Earth represents the nurturing and serene side of Nature, and it represents the tangible end result of our labors. Earth is about security and stillness, and knowing what to expect; it is about strength, discipline, and physical manifestation of all kinds, and about enjoying the fruits of our labors. Earthy energies are fertile, practical, and slow to change.

You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Earth to our daily lives, our physical bodies, our careers and our finances, our families, and the natural world around us. These things are all the main correspondences of the element of Earth, the suit of Pentacles, and of course, our Four of Pentacles.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, or suspicious of or averse to change.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience abundance, good luck and comfort (the Ace of Pentacles), the power to deal with change in a balanced and beneficial manner (the Two of Pentacles), and the ability to practice our skills with talent, dedication and a focus on details (the Three of Pentacles). The Four of Pentacles offers a glimpse of the success that comes with a long-term application of luck, skill and dedication, and an awareness of just how much we have to lose once that success begins to manifest.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Pentacles offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Pentacles represents our Sun when it is in the astrological sign of Capricorn.

In astrology, The Sun corresponds with our sun, the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve. The sun provides our Earth with the heat and light necessary for life as we know it. The arc that the sun travels in every year, rising and setting in a slightly different place each day, is a reflection of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, which is particularly applicable with our Four of Pentacles and the astrological sign of Capricorn (an Earth sign). The sun is thought to represent the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health and vitality, or simply the “life force.” In Chinese astrology, the sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle. In Indian astrology, the sun is called Surya and represents the soul, ego, vitality kingship, highly placed persons, government and the archetype of The Father.

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a Cardinal Earth sign ruled by Saturn. Capricorn people are stable, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. They are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals. The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality, the voice of reason in a chaotic world. A Capricorn person may seem unfriendly, but remember the image of this astrological sign has a fish’s tail. The emotions are there, just hidden within that inhibited exterior. As far as material wealth is concerned, Capricorn approaches finances with prudence, planning, and discipline, and thus, there are not many Capricorns who are lacking in physical-world resources.

If the Sun is about the Self, and Capricorn, an Earth sign ruled by Saturn, is about resources and reality, then when our Sun is in Capricorn, there can be a strong focus to deal with and master the more tangible aspects of life and living. We are talking about ambition here, but also responsibility. These energies are not about going forth into the unknown, but rather they are about working hard and making the most out of the resources at hand, solving challenges through focus and endurance. The Sun in Capricorn is about being admired for accomplishments, as well as dependability, creativity, discipline and a sense of humor.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

In The Naked Tarot (the awesome book I reviewed this month; check it out!), the Four of Coins is described as someone who is poor-minded rather than someone who is actually deprived, a perfect description of the personality of this card. Janet Boyer’s description of the Four of Coins as actually about withholding and stockpiling to the point of being paralyzed by what we have accumulated, is spot-on. The personifications of King Midas and Ebenezer Scrooge fit well with the message of the Four of Coins, as does the health issue of constipation.

The Wild Unknown Four of Pentacles shows four Pentacles, each connected to the others by belts or straps. We can almost hear the hum of those belts as they turn, creating lots of energy but only allowing each Pentacle to turn in one direction, in only certain ways. The image shows the benefits of the energy of this card, as well as the restrictive nature of the devices which not allow things to grow or evolve in new ways. This card is about valuing the things we have right now and protecting them to the point that they are stifled. Keeping things as they are, holding tightly to those possessions we value, prevents us from using them to create new things. But the support offered by structure and a strong foundation can just as easily grow into a prison.

The image on the Thoth Tarot Four of Disks, called “Power,” looks like a fortress with four square watchtowers, surrounded by a moat that can only be crossed at one place. The Four of Disks represents assured material gain in the form of dominion, rank, and earthly power that have been obtained but are leading to no further growth. After all, a fortress offers useful protection but if our enemies surround us with strength and focus of their own, a siege becomes a long and painful process.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Pentacles shows the traditional image for this card, and tells of a need to focus on growth opportunities closer to home, and of acquiring new possessions and guarding them, maybe to the point of over identifying with them. The card hints at a tendency to parade our wealth in front of others and warns of the danger of ostentation.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Coins shows a man dressed in a manner that indicates material wealth and success achieved through effort. Despite his outward appearance of power and security, the man grasps four golden coins to his chest in a very insecure way, and looks at us out of the side of his eyes as if saying “these are not the Coins you are looking for; move on!” Saving for a rainy day is a prudent thing to do, however the fear of losing our physical possessions can easily overcome our ability to enjoy them.

The message here is pretty clear: yes, managing our resources in order to make certain that our physical-world needs are seen to is smart. The ability to provide for oneself takes training, effort and perseverance, but constantly questioning ourselves as to whether or not we have enough ends up blinding us to the true pleasure of personal satisfaction and comfort, and the joy of sharing our own bounty with our loved-ones. These kinds of connections are valuable too, and they are also necessary for our sense of worth and our joy of living.

This process of holding tightly is well and good for a little bit; it allows us to gather ourselves in order to take the next leap. However, realizing that eventually the process of holding tightly will begin to prevent the very leap for which we are preparing is a necessary realization for that leap to actually happen.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

The Gilded Tarot Deck on Amazon

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

Learning Lenormand

November, 2018

A Portrait of the Morning

My sun is in Taurus and I most definitely a creature of habit. My morning routine is a good example of this. I generally wake around 4 a.m. I stay in bed for a half-hour or so, cuddling with a kitty – usually Radar, who sleeps with his head on my pillow – and praying. Then I get up, put on my flannels and go into the kitchen, where I start the coffee. I feed the cats. I have my oatmeal and coffee while reading and replying to emails and then it’s in the shower. I’m in and out of the shower by 6 a.m., generally. After I’m all clean and dressed, I make my bed and straighten up my room. While I do this, I listen to classical music on the radio. I like peace and quiet in the mornings.

This is when I meditate. My son James is still sleeping and the cats are fed and back to sleep so it’s a nice serene environment.

I used to do Tarot readings after meditation. When I got my Lenormand cards, I started doing both – but with James living here, I usually don’t have time to sit and read cards for over an hour anymore. Honestly, I barely have enough time to do anything I want to do anymore but that’s a whole ’nother issue!

I don’t have to read the Tarot everyday to learn it – my life is immersed in the Tarot whether I am reading the cards or not. My poetry and my artwork are both mostly about the Tarot and uses Tarot themes. I am not so arrogant to suggest that I don’t need to learn anymore about the Tarot – there’s always more to learn! I’m just saying that my Tarot journal is now essentially a Lenormand journal.

I decided to stop doing daily readings of any cards except the Lenormand because – like learning a new language – I just wasn’t getting it. That’s the honest truth. If you are only using the cards once in a while – or if you are only using them after you have already done a reading with your favorite Tarot deck – how are you supposed to actually learn anything? I had to get in a schedule where I was sitting and only using the Lenormand. I also had to use the same format everyday – like I had with the Tarot thirty years ago, when I was using the Celtic Cross predominantly. So – after working with several different Lenormand spreads I found in Caitlín Matthew’s The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards – I decided upon Spread 6 “The Portrait”, which you can find on page 132, if you own this fundamental book – and I highly recommend the purchasing of this text! – I cannot stress that enough!

The Portrait Spread is a 9-card spread that is the basis for many of the spreads that follow in subsequent chapters. Therefore, it’s perfect for a daily spread – it’s a quick and easy look on what is going on in your life. Nine is such a great number on so many levels – as the saying goes, “Three times three, so mote it be”. Matthew writes that, “Nine is a powerful number in that it replicates itself in all its multiples.” (Matthews, 131). There’s ten cards in a Celtic Cross but when you consider that the first two cards are “crossed” over the same position, it can be argued that there are actually only nine positions in the spread, which gives it a different dynamic.

The Portrait Spread is laid out with three cards along the top, three in the middle, and three along the bottom.

(Matthews, 132)

Card 5 – the middle card – is the focus of the reading. I can’t tell you how many times that card is absolutely dead on. Sometimes I can’t get heads or tails out of the cards around it – especially when I try to blend meanings of cards – but usually that one card tells me everything I need to know.

Cards 1+4+7 = the past.

Cards 2+5+8 = the present.

Cards 3+6+9 = the future.

Card 1 tells me what “provoked or instigated the issue” (Matthews, 133). On a daily basis, there might not be an ongoing “issue” but then again, there might be stuff going on that you are not yet aware! The corners 1+9+3+7 shows what that basic issue is. The diamond cards of 2+4+6+8 (who do we appreciate, sorry couldn’t help it) show the inner aspects of the issue.

After this, read the rows 1+2+3, 4+5+6, 7+8+9 as well as 1+8+3 and 7+2+9 to get all the aspects of the portrait. If this seems like a lot – well, it is! But like learning any new language, doing your daily homework is the key and that’s the only way to learn. And I’ll be honest with you – quite often, I lay out the cards and start writing my analysis in my journal and have to stop because life intrudes. So now I have started setting aside time after lunch to finish up any unfinished Lenormand “homework”. Since it is my habit to take a nap after lunch, it’s nice to drift off to sleep with Lenormand images and concepts floating through my head.

Here’s today’s portrait:

I usually shuffle the cards as part of my morning meditation. I don’t focus on a question or anything at all. I just let the cards slide through my fingers and back through between my hands as I drift through consciousness. I’ve found that I get better readings when I don’t have a specific question then when I try to get the cards to “tell me something” – I just let them talk to me.

32 Moon 8 Hearts is Card 5 – the middle card – the focus of the reading. After months of being artistically blocked, I am once again working at my poetry and my artwork and other writing projects – I am getting up before dawn to work. I am also baking bread and thinking of other creative things to cook. My life seems to be bursting with creativity and I am working harder than ever. And I am loving my work!

30 Lily + 11 Whip + 28 Man is my past – I always read this as resent past, within the last twenty-four to forty-eight hours. At first glance, I really can’t make any sense of these cards together but I will take a guess – I’m always guessing! – and say that these three cards refer to the maturing man in the house – my son, James – and how he is increasingly in charge of things.

20 Garden + 32 Moon + 23 Mice is my future – I read this as “what’s happening today” – and this tell me that having to go out into the world (running errands) will cut into my ability to work today, since getting around Buffalo on public transportation takes up so much time.

16 Stars + 5 Tree + 4 House is my future – which I take to mean as the near future, tomorrow or the next day – I will be focusing on my health and well-being and doing things at home.

That seems really straight-forward and to the point, doesn’t it? When I first started reading Lenormand cards, I was obsessed with getting the perfect reading, the correct reading of the cards and the most precise reading but now I realize that I could read these cards today and get a certain reading and then read these same cards tomorrow and see something different. There is no true correct reading. There’s only the reading that resonates for you.

After I read all aspects of the Portrait Spread and make notations in my Lenormand Journal, I put the cards and the journal away for the day. Later in the evening, I get the journal out and see how closely the cards predicted the day and remind myself of tomorrow’s prediction.

When you have been doing a spread like this for say – two or three weeks – a month, tops – look through your readings and see what cards have been showing up most often. This past month, I have been seeing 32 Moon 8 Hearts, 26 Book 10 Diamonds, 5 Tree 7 Hearts, 6 Clouds King Clubs, and 33 Key 8 Diamonds more than any of the other cards. Given that my focus has been on creativity and writing and just how to get going on my novel again, I think these cards really show my struggles with those issues.

I really like this spread. It takes a bit of time to do but the more I do it, the easier it gets to read the cards. For me, I think the trick is to read the cards quickly
“First thought, best thought,” as Allen Ginsburg famously said – put the concepts together into a coherent thought and go with that. The more I ponder the “meaning” of the cards, the less meaning they actually have. I get lost in layers of implication and nuance and end up confused and frustrated. So I have found that the first thought that pops into my head when I am looking at a group of cards is generally the one that I should listen to.

And like I said before, there is no true correct reading. I haven’t been keeping a Lenormand journal long enough to see this in action, but I can tell you that when I look through Tarot journals from ten, twenty, thirty years ago, I can see where I made rookie mistakes but also where I was spot on – even as a beginner! Your journals are a great learning resource, even years after the reading. And it’s fun to relive whatever drama was going on at the time! And be grateful for the happy serenity I enjoy right now.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

References

Matthews, Caitlín. The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards. Rochester, VT: Destiny , 2014.

The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards on Amazon

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About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Tarot Talk

September, 2018

Four of Swords

(The Four of Swords card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Swords, and remind ourselves of what happens to the energies of a card when we move forward from the Three.

The Four of Swords is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Swords. These two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation, and we have other things to consider, too. Let’s begin our examination of this card.

The traditional image of the Four of Swords is of a knight laying on a bed with his hands in prayer position. There is a stained glass window in the background depicting a sacred image, as well as three swords hanging on the wall; the fourth sword is on the side of the bed. The knight’s helm is down, so we can’t tell if he is sleeping or meditating or dead. Some versions of this image actually show a coffin with the reclining knight sculpted on the lid. Another version of the Four of Swords shows a man reclining on the ground with his back against a rock (a very grounded image) and his sword laying by his side; behind him is a large Mullein plant (representing focus and grounding) and three other swords. Still another version shows the four swords grounded (points inserted into the ground), with a person laying on the four hilts with his face pointing toward the blue sky with its fluffy white clouds. There is stillness to these images (as if the figure is deep within a meditation or out-of-body experience) and a sense of deliberate solitude, and the sacred.

The suit of Swords corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow; Swords cards usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation, or a struggle and then an outcome. Swords cards are about purposeful and deliberate actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them. Swords cards and the effects they describe are sourced from within us; they teach us that we create our own reality from our expectations. The Swords cards give hints as to our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we choose to take in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression. The Swords cards also represent an opportunity to feel more empowered; self-empowerment happens when we successfully deal with challenges, but self-empowerment can be dangerous if it is not balanced with a bit of humility.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance so we can clearly see and understand, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds. Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen. This information applies to all the Swords cards in the Minor Arcana, including our Nine of Swords.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, averse to change, or suspicious.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience potent ideas, thoughts and the ability to reason (the Ace of Swords), the power to focus inward and shut out distractions (the Two of Swords), and the perception of personal isolation and heartbreak that can be created by focusing solely on logic and analysis without including partnerships and interactions (the Three of Swords). The Four of Swords offers a “time out,” a period of healing before renewed efforts.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Swords offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Swords represents the planet Jupiter when it is in the astrological sign of Libra.

In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the ruler, guardian and protector of the gods. Similarly, the planet Jupiter is in many ways the ruler of our solar system. Some astronomers believe that Jupiter with its massive gravity actually protects the rest of our solar system by attracting or deflecting comets and asteroids that might otherwise threaten Earth. Like passions and emotions, Jupiter is brightly colored and covered with large and intense storms; the planet is symbolized by a lightning bolt. Astrologically, Jupiter is associated with growth, expansion, prosperity, freedom, exploration, and good fortune. Jupiter is connected to long distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion, all humanitarian pursuits, and the law (and its role as a protector of society). Jupiter is also associated with gambling and merrymaking.

Libras are usually very focused on the people around them, and how they interact with those people. Libras are true team players, concerned with balance and cooperation, with fairness to everyone. Libras always put their minds to good use, considering and balancing carefully before choosing a course that brings the highest good to all. Because Libra is Cardinal Air, this sign initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people. Libra is about partnerships, and about a focus on other people rather than just on the self. Libras are most happy when they are paired up with another, and they are good at partnerships of all kinds. Balance is important to Libras, too, and they don’t like conflict. Libra corresponds with the planet Venus and with the element of Air. They use the intellect and their ability to communicate to form those partnerships and to maintain harmony.

When Jupiter is in Libra, matters focused on equality, liberty and balance are of importance. The energies associated with Jupiter, expansion, growth and good fortune, harmonize with the traits of the sign of Libra, partnerships and collaborations, and bring us balance, harmony and equality, a good foundation for building on and improving all kinds of relationships. Communication between groups and people will be positive and beneficial, and patience, compassion, empathy and an effort toward manifesting the highest good for all are possibilities for the future. This combination does not necessarily create passion, but cool, calm and collected is a good state of mind in which to be.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

The Wild Unknown Four of Swords shows a lamb with a brightly-glowing third eye chakra, all curled up and serene beneath four Swords hanging point-down above him. This tender, untried youth is resting below four Swords hanging precariously above him, and yet he does not appear frightened. He is alert, so he knows those Swords are there even though he does not even spare them a glance, but he is not even prepared to run should they come loose. Perhaps his stillness is part of his protection. It is as if he is keeping those Swords up there with his serenity, his stillness, his awareness of what is going on around him, and his belief, his mental force . . . his Will!

The Thoth Tarot Four of Swords is called “Truce”; the original name for this card was “Lord of Rest from Strife.” Crowley states that Swords are weapons, and weapons are connected to the discipline of war, not of peace. Thus, while equilibrium and justice are a part of this card, the “truce” being represented in the Thoth Tarot Four of Swords is a peace enforced by the threat of violence, a mutual deterrence. That kind of peace is not usually lasting.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Swords shows a woman warrior, resting with her hair streaming under her head, her eyes closed, and her mouth slightly open, with her white dog asleep beside her. In the background are four Swords floating above her, holding up a curtain that shields her, and a tree with naked branches whose trunk appears to be echoing the position of Christ after death on the cross. The card represents a vigil, withdrawal and silence, asylum, finding sanctuary, and a deathlike phase in life which incubates future dreams.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Swords shows a man asleep, floating above a bed of four Swords with points facing downward, representing an inward focus. Behind him is a round stained glass window through which light shines faintly as if from the moon; upon that window is the Greek symbol for Christ. A hawk flies above the sleeping form, dropping a red rose, representing life, and a white rose, representing death. The card represents the need for recuperation, inactivity, physical healing, and distance from the stresses and responsibilities of life.

Our first three Swords cards, the Ace, Two and Three of Swords, have caused an imbalance that often creates the perception of being harmed. The Four of Swords can represent a pause or truce or mutual deterrent, or a time of silence and isolation used to prepare for challenges to come. Often it is necessary to take a moment to absorb what has happened thus far within our current situation, and this card offers that valuable pause. The truce represented by the Four of Swords does not happen due to weakness, but rather through a conscious and deliberate choice and through a balance of power. After all, the truce is “supported” by Swords, the suit of the intellect. This moment spent in limbo is not a surrender, but rather it gives us the opportunity to heal and rejuvenate, so we can once again face the challenges of the day with renewed optimism and focus.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Review of The Sibyls Oraculum: Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa

September, 2018

 

The Sibyls Oraculum: Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa is an Oracle deck created by cultural anthropologist Tayannah Lee McQuillar, with artwork by multimedia artist Katelan V. Foisy, and published by Destiny , Rochester, Vermont. The Oracle comes in a nice sturdy cardboard container with glossy color images on the front and a bit of information about the Oracle on the back. Inside the box are the 44-card deck and the companion book.

The cards themselves are 3” x 5”; each card is printed in glossy color on both the front and the back. The images on the Oracle cards, appearing to be ancient mosaics, in glossy color are taken from beautiful full-color paintings created by Katelan V. Foisy, is filled with the powerful symbolism found within Libyan mosaics created in the first century BCE. The art on the back of the cards, also in color and glossy, is of a black dove, the namesake of the Oracle, and is color-coded in order to create four subsets for divination interpretation purposes.

The companion book is 6” x 9” and contains 147 pages printed on white paper with an easy-to-read black font, bound in glossy softcover with an image of the Oracle’s black dove on the front cover and four sample card images on the back cover. The companion book begins with a brief history of the African Sibyls, the forgotten source of the sibylline traditions that are the theme of this Oracle, and a brief tutorial on how to use the symbols in the Oracle, as well as a few ethical considerations to keep in mind.

Next is a substantial section describing the structure of the Oracle itself and the system McQuillar created for using the cards. There is a description of the four color-coded divination segments: Core Issue cards (black, representing the spiritual issues connected to the issue), Projection cards (copper, representing mental rationalizations and justifications regarding the issue), Blue Action cards (representing the internal state of mind affecting the issue), and Red Action cards (representing the external response affecting the issue). There is a description of the process suggested for using the Oracle (including examples of how to correctly phrase a question for the Oracle), as well as reading examples, journaling recommendations, and a detailed section on how to make use of the messages received in a reading.

The section on card meanings is information-filled 85 pages long and is divided into Core Issue, Projection, Blue Action and Red Action cards, with most of the card entries consisting of two pages. For each card entry there is a card image, the name of the card in Latin and English, an inscription, a description of the key symbols in the image of the card, religio-mythological associations describing the Deities corresponding to the images and meanings of each card, a detailed commentary, and a divinatory meaning, with the Core Issue cards also having questions for the seeker to consider. At the end of the book are brief bios of the author and artist, a suggested reading list, and a list of books focusing on related interests.

While the cards are both beautiful and powerfully effective, I feel that some of the images could be a bit clearer. I occasionally found myself holding a card under a bright light in order to attempt to see the image more clearly. Also the color differences, black, copper, blue and red, on the back of the cards do not immediately stand out, and I still have difficulty telling the red and copper cards apart.

Even those issues have not discouraged me from working daily with this beautiful Oracle. The companion book is a valuable and well-written resource filled with fascinating information about the African Sybils, the sibylline traditions, and the symbols used in the Oracle, as well as the individual cards and their messages. I have been using these cards to supplement my daily Tarot card throw, and I find that without fail they integrate seamlessly with my Tarot cards. A beginner would be able to use this Oracle with ease, and an experienced reader could use these cards to add depth and texture to a Tarot reading, or as a stand-alone divination tool. The card stock is somewhat flimsy, but not enough to discourage me from using the cards regularly.

In the Sibyls Oraculum, McQuillar has created a valuable tool for addressing the spiritual lessons underlying the experiences of living that pays homage to the long lineage of Sibyls and Oracles of the past, the present, and into the future.

The Sibyls Oraculum: Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Tarot Talk

June, 2018

Seven of Cups

(The Seven of Cups card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)

We’ve been talking about the Cups cards for a few months now. Let’s continue and talk about the Seven of Cups this month.

The Seven of Cups is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. We should remember however that every message, no matter how insignificant or mundane on the surface, can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue; nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

The traditional image of the Seven of Cups is a fascinating one: it shows us the silhouette of a person (we see the person as if we were standing behind him or her) viewing seven golden cups, each filled with what appears to be a treasure, however a few appear to be potentially dangerous. Traditionally the cups contain a laurel wreath, a treasure hoard, a castle or tower, a dragon, a human head, a snake, and a shrouded glowing shape. Some decks offer variations: rainbows, flames, a green and verdant vine, a dove, brilliant light, a butterfly, or a heart with wings. All the Cups are floating on a fluffy cloud or floating in a blue sky, as if they were being imagined or dreamed of or wished for by the person viewing them. The person appears uncertain or confused; which cup should he choose?

There are meanings ascribed to the contents of each of those Cups. The laurel wreath represents victory, but if we look closely at the Cup we see the shadow of a skull, perhaps warning of the danger of vanity. The treasure hoard represents wealth and abundance. The castle or tower represents power and stability, or perhaps one’s birthplace. The dragon can represent fantasy, magick and the supernatural, but it can also represent anger, envy or bad luck. The human head represents a potential companion or love interest. The snake could represent animal passion and desire, or it could be offering knowledge and wisdom. The shrouded shape could represent the seeker’s need for self-understanding, or of hidden information.

What makes this card’s image even more interesting and powerful is that there is an astrological correspondence to the contents of each of the seven Cups, and the contents of each cup corresponds to a Major Arcana card. The laurel wreath represents Saturn and The World, the treasure hoard represents Jupiter and The Wheel of Fortune, the castle represents Mars and The Tower, the dragon represents our Sun and The Sun, the human head represents Venus and The Empress, the snake represents Mercury and The Magician, and the shrouded shape represents our Moon and The High Priestess. This indicates that even though this is a Minor Arcana card, the choices being presented could very well have Major Arcana effects and consequences!

We already have a lot of information, and a good way to get a deeper understanding of our Seven of Cups is to examine its number, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 7, and the suit of Cups.

In the Tarot, the number 7 tells of that period of time when effort and growth are running out of gas, and degeneration or a period of ebbing is approaching. A perfect illustration of this concept is the way it looks when we toss a ball in a high arc; at first, the ball soars upward with power. Soon enough, the upward motion slows, then ceases, and the ball travels parallel to the ground for a bit. Then, inertia begins to affect the trajectory of the ball, and it begins its descent to the ground. The Tarot Seven cards describe possible effects during that period when the ball is traveling parallel to the ground; not enough power to continue growth, but enough to keep degeneration on the sidelines. Often, the Seven cards tell of some pause or assessment that happens as growth (created by the Motion of the Fives and the Harmony of the Sixes) begins to approach the end of its lifespan.

All of the Tarot Sevens offer this pause or slowing of activity in order to learn something. We have the realization of something achieved and the fortitude to stay with that achievement and defend it (Wands), we experience the pause to assess the readiness for harvest of the fruits of our labors (Pentacles), and we have the pause that comes when our mind and our intellect perceive the approach of a change that we believe may not be beneficial (Swords). In the Seven of Cups, we have the pause that comes with a choice between many seemingly beautiful and desirable offerings, each with the possibly of containing some hidden peril.

We have talked about the suit of Cups in detail already, but let’s go over it all again. Many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. This makes sense because the suit of Cups corresponds with the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, the playing cards of Hearts, and the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. Water has weight; picking up a gallon of water proves that. Water tends to gather into or flow to the lowest place; it will use already-in-place channels to get there if it can, but will create its own roadways or channels if necessary. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

The element of Water corresponds to our feelings and emotions. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, and a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing. Emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice. Our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the mysteries of the subconscious. That calm body of water can reflect the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky around it, on its still surface and hide from our view the dark and cold depths inhabited by mysterious creatures. In order to explore those silent depths and discover the mysteries there, we must break the surface and enter this quiet and hidden realm.

Astrology is another available tool that can offer further information about our card. The Seven of Cups corresponds to Venus when it is in the constellation of Scorpio. The planet Venus is seen as representing the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure. Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature. Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness, friendship and fidelity, relationships of all kinds, youth, lust, fertility, travel, and an appreciation for art, social life, and beauty. And yes, sex and sexual pleasure are a part of this too. Venus is often seen as being a twin planet to our Earth, and is the second brightest object in the night sky, the Moon being the brightest.

Scorpio is a fixed Water sign associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. Scorpios manifest these traits through achievement, and through going deep into the timeless mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are powerful and willful in all they do; they stick with a task to the end, often achieving much more than the other signs. They are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios are extremely loyal and will always remember a kind gesture. They love to learn about others and about themselves; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable. Scorpios are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

Venus and Scorpio are not always a comfortable match. Scorpio is not superficial and prefers deeper relationships that go below the surface, rather than the social niceties, friendship and affection of Venus. The energies of Venus and Scorpio give us a bit of a reality check, whether we want one or not. Power struggles can happen, and deep dark secrets will be brought into the light, perhaps not willingly. Intense for sure, but there is a good possibility that all the intensity will bring powerful transformation.

The Tree of Life offers us further insight into the Seven of Cups. All of the Sevens of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the sephira of Netzach (which means “Victory”). Netzach is the seventh sephira, at the bottom of the Pillar of Force (the masculine side of the Tree). When you think about the concept of Victory, you will realize that it tends to bring a bit of inertia into the picture. Often, when we succeed (or think that we have succeeded), we cease focusing on the reason for the conflict and focus instead on maintaining the status quo. Netzach is also about dreams, feelings, and visions, connections with others, and an appreciation of Nature, the pleasures of the flesh, beauty, creativity, and art.

The Llewellyn Welsh Seven of Cups shows a young woman seated on the ground surrounded by butterflies, looking at seven Cups each containing something different, floating in the sky. This card represents dreams, a fertile imagination, window shopping for possibilities, realization of a long shot, and being bemused by options or possibilities. Reversed, it tells of clouded judgment, exaggerated dreams, being ruled by emotions, or extreme effects of alcohol or drug addiction.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Seven of Cups shows a couple standing precariously on top of a hill, with Cups arranged at their feet. The woman, pointing to a castle floating in the sky, is not watching where she steps but rather is looking upward, entranced by the floating castle. The man is examining the real castles on the nearby hills and examining a map that might get him there. The card tells of indulging in fantasies, having too many desires, or too many paths to choose from.

The Thoth Tarot Seven of Cups also has a non-traditional image. It shows seven lotus flowers that are rotting away because of too much water. Crowley sees this card as representing delusions and addictions, and the sinking into the mire of false pleasures. Way too much of a good thing!

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot Seven of Cups shows seven crystal cups filled with treasures lit by a golden light, arranged for our viewing pleasure. We are warned that we need to do our homework before choosing because some of these gifts may not be what they seem to be. This card represents fantasies, romantic illusions, too many choices, and viewing things through rose-colored glasses.

All these interesting choices presented by our card may create a sensory overload of sorts, but we are told again and again, through looking at the image of the Seven of Cups, the meaning of the number 7, the suit of Cups, the astrological correspondences, and the sephira on the Tree of Life that we need to pay close attention, do our homework, and not depend on luck to save the day, when the Seven of Cups shows up in a reading. Visualizing our goals can be beneficial, but not when we become so distracted by possible future achievements that we step into a hole and break our ankle.

There are good possibilities here, but there could be some dead ends as well. The Seven of Cups reminds us that while it is fun to imagine being able to take all seven of those Cups, perhaps our time would be better spent in a more practical manner by carefully examining our choices and their potential consequences. If we do our research and if we are careful not to grab more than we can carry, we may end up happy and content in the end.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

 

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