SUBSCRIBE

Learning Lenormand

August 1st, 2018

Notes from My Lenormand Journal

Thirty years ago, when I received my first set of Tarot cards, I read the cards nearly every day. I didn’t have a separate journal for my Tarot readings in those days – I just put the readings into my regular day-to-day diary. My life was very melodramatic in those days and the various readings reflected the histrionics of my daily life. Mostly I used the Celtic Cross spread but I would try out any spread that I discovered in my study of the Tarot. I was sure that I would eventually find the answer.

Well, here we are all these years later and I am still looking for the answer – or maybe it would be more correct to say that I am looking for answers in general. Naturally some of the questions have changed radically in the past thirty years. But some questions – really, the most important and vital ones – have not changed at all. They have only become more critical and far-reaching.

In the mid-1990’s, a very dear friend gave me a beautiful bound journal with a marbled cover of a glorious royal blue. That was the start of the separation of my Tarot journal and my day-to-day journal. There are pros and cons to this. I like being able to see the divinatory reading in regards to what happened that very day – having the two posts side by side can be very instructive. But having all those Tarot readings – or any kind of reading – broke up the diary’s natural prosaic flow. I have maintained two journals to this day.

These days, I do a three-card Tarot reading and then a five-card Lenormand reading. While I am focusing on the Lenormand in this essay, I must say that I am constantly amazed at how the two systems reinforce the same message. Sometimes I pull a Rune from my bag and nine times out of ten, whatever Rune I pull has the same divinatory message! Somedays I go through all my various means of divination to see if I am getting the same vibes from all the sources! And sometimes they all add up to the same one message. BUT – sometimes it’s just a big fucking jumble of nothing. It’s really tempting to say, the hell with all of this, and not write it down in the journal. I mean – that all takes time and time is not something I have a whole lot of nowadays. The thing is – just because you can’t see the message today doesn’t mean you won’t see the message tomorrow or next week or next year. Or even five or ten years from now. It can be argued that being able to “see” a divination five years after the reading is dubious at best but on the other hand, it’s all a learning experience, isn’t it? And sometimes the cards are talking about events far in the future. It’s human nature to see everything in the here and now.

The past several weeks, I have been pulling these cards over and over again:

Of course, these five cards were pulled with other cards. These cards are just showing up more often in the daily 5-card spread than the rest of the cards in the pack. And given that in the Lenormand, card relationship – the combination of cards to create a single meaning – is more important that a card landing on a certain point, just looking at these cards in and of themselves really doesn’t say very much. For instance, the 5 Tree 7 of Hearts card has come up fifteen times in the last twenty-two days, which is a pretty good percentage. But that doesn’t say anymore than I have been concerned with family and health issues, which are paramount right now. It’s the combination of the tree card with the surrounding cards that enhance and define its meaning. On July 5, the 5 Tree 7 of Hearts card was winged by 8 Coffin 9 of Diamonds and 36 Cross 6 of Clubs. Given the state of my father’s health on that day, this was a totally apt reading – his bad health and the feeling that no matter what happened, it was going to be difficult for all of us in the family.

26 Book 10 of Diamonds has been paired with 21 Mountain 8 of Clubs seven times in the last two weeks. I think this is pointing to the various problems I’m having with my writing – not a writer’s block per se – although that would be the obvious idea. But in my case, it’s not so much that I have writer’s block but I am so horrendously busy that I don’t have the time to write – the mountain is keeping me from my book. Again – the tree is another modifier – it’s family issues that are pressing on me. My father’s ill health – my son, who recently moved back home and now I have triple the housework that I used to have – and sibling drama that doesn’t really concern me but is nonetheless part of my life.

Isn’t 32 Moon 8 of Hearts a beautiful card? Caitlín Matthews says that this card is a “false friend” from the “Tarot World”. She writes,

“In Tarot, the Moon means illusions, mutability, or anxiety – words that are better expressed in Lenormand by Clouds. Stork, and Birds,

respectively. Lenormand Moon is about work, honor, recognition, and creativity. This is because Moon governs the sublunary regions

and is symbiotic with the life of our planet. Everything that the Moon shines upon is under its influence. Beware of assigning disordered

emotions to the Moon, which has more to do with the emotional satisfaction arising from the act of our hands.” (Matthews, 83-84)

But again, in context of my personal life right now, the Moon card in its Lenormand aspect is perfectly apt. I am concerned with issues of work – writing, specifically – but also my collage work – and of course the additional housework with my son now living here!

Naturally, of course, 25 Ring Ace of Clubs represents my commitment to all of the above – my son, my family, my work and my divinatory studies. This card has been paired with each of these cards more than once in every way imaginable.

Do keep a Divinatory Journal? What methods do you use the most? Do you use the Lenormand Oracle? What cards show up the most often? What relationship do you have with those cards?

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

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

References

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

***

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.

Five of Cups

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

Last month we talked about the Two of Cups. This month we will talk about another Cups card, the Five of Cups. This one, like the other Five cards, appears sad on the surface but we will look for the silver lining.

The Five 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. Remember, while on the surface a Minor Arcana card can appear insignificant or mundane, it can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

We already know that 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 5, and the suit of Cups, and just examining these two ingredients could actually give you enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation to a seeker. But we have even more to consider, so let’s get started.

We talked about the suit of Cups in detail last month, 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. The traditional image on the Five of Cups shows a person facing away from the observer dressed in a long, flowing dark blue robe, head bowed downward and seeming to emanate grief. The person is looking at three toppled Cups lying on the ground before him, their contents spilled out, and sometimes the Cups are broken. Often there is a river flowing nearby and in the distance beyond the river are rocky hills. Behind the robed figure and out of his view are two other Cups also on the ground, but these two are upright and undamaged.

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 a tool that can offer subtle effects for us to consider as we analyze this card. The Five of Pentacles corresponds to the planet Mars (action, aggression, drive) when it is in the sign of Scorpio (“I desire,” intense, controlling, mysterious, obsessive).

Mars is known as the “Red Planet,” and this makes sense because Mars is about energy, passion, drive and determination, all fiery personality traits. Mars is commanding, confident, and powerful, asking us to stand up and be noticed without fear. Ambition and competition are also associated with this planet; Mars encourages us to face challenges and to be our best with honor. Mars rules our sexuality and sexual energy, and governs weapons, accidents and surgery. It’s important to remember that Mars’s energy can be either constructive or destructive. In the end, however, the energy of Mars can be quite useful if used properly.

Scorpio is a fixed Water sign. In Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. For Scorpios, these traits are found 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 Cardinal and Mutable Signs. On the other hand, 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; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable.

Mars and Scorpio have a connection (Mars is said to rule Scorpio), and thus they support each other. Together they create a greater ability to work through difficult times. These energies are not about compromise but rather about finding a way to get the job done. These signs are not afraid of looking under the surface or exploring the dark corners, and together they have the endurance to bring about a major transformation. The down side of this combination is the potential for passion to slide into obsession.

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, perhaps the most important ingredient besides the suit of the card is the number of the card. In the Tarot, the number 5 is seen as adding motion to the depth and stability of the energy of the number 4 card, often toppling or destroying that depth and stability in order to prevent stagnation. If we look at the card right before the Five of Cups and follow it through to our card, we can gain some insight into the effects of the number 5.

The Four of Cups is about visualizing goals and dreaming of the future, however it also warns us that too much dreaming of the future can cause us to miss opportunities that present themselves in the present. The number 5 adds Motion to the potential for distraction from reality that is the Four of Cups, kind of like a tap on the shoulder to wake us up. All of the Tarot Fives are uncomfortable mainly because of this added Motion. In the other Minor Fives we have the need to control others (Swords), the lack of possessions and support (Pentacles), and ideas moving in random and unorganized directions (Wands). If we dream of pleasures and become addicted to those dreams, we will end up soft and weak with deadened senses, but if we find a way to counteract our tendency to indulge ourselves, we can be awakened to the possibilities in the outer world and the present moment. This awakening is the job of the Five of Pentacles.

The Tree of Life offers us further insight into this uncomfortable Motion that is causing our troubles. All of the Fives of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the Sephira of Geburah (which means “Might”), the fifth Sephira on the Tree, the second on the Pillar of Form/Restriction. Geburah is also known as Judgment, and Fear, and its effects and manifestations can indeed be difficult. To some, an easy life is an ideal situation, but in the end the easy life offered through never experiencing any true tests lacks the opportunity for growth and evolution, and growth and evolution are the purposes of living.

Geburah is about courage and power and invincibility, and these things can bring us true fulfillment, or they can help to release our cruel side. But unless we are exposed to these temptations, we will never know if we have the will to set them aside when they become unbalanced. Believing that we have the power and authority to make decisions for others is often a recipe for disaster.

That is a lot of information to consider!! We are dealing with a Five card, so we know that it will present some discomfort. This is a Cups card, so we know the discomfort will be connected to our dreams, visions, feelings, emotions, and the actions and effects of the subconscious and the Inner Voice.

The Hermetic Tarot Five of Cups shows plant growth, yet no flowers. The five Cups in this image are empty, and the plant stems look a bit leggy to me, as if they had water but no sunlight. In the Hermetic Tarot, the Five of Cups represents partial loss, and the death of pleasure (indeed the card is named “Lord of Loss of Pleasure”). The key here is that while we are losing something, we can go on and perhaps have a happy ending. The reversed pentagram in the middle of this image hints at what needs to be corrected: we are focusing too much on strong feelings and physical pleasures, without allowing the mind and the feelings and the Higher Self to have a voice.

The Thoth Tarot Five of Cups, named “Disappointment,” also has flowers in its image, two lotus blossoms that appear to be drooping and losing their petals. The five Cups are in the shape of an inverted pentagram, similar to the Hermetic Tarot, symbolizing the triumph of matter over spirit. The beautiful sea of the Four of Cups (named “Luxury”) has turned stagnant. Here we can see a clear progression from Love (the Two of Cups) to Abundance (the Three of Cups), which brings Luxury (the Four of Cups); the next step is boredom, frustration, and decadence, and the Disappointment of the Five of Cups!

The Llewellyn Welsh Five of Cups has a traditional image. It tells of unfulfilled dreams and the difficulty of accepting a loss. Here is the spilled milk that we are not supposed to cry over. This card also tells of being limited by the memory of a past pain, and of being manipulated by emotional strings. “Suffering over one’s suffering” is a great description of this card.

The Gateway to the Divine Tarot Five of Cups shows a woman huddled against a wall, face filled with distress. Before her on the ground are three shattered glass Cups; she holds an unharmed Cup in each hand. She is not looking at those two intact Cups, but instead focuses on what might have been, symbolized by the broken Cups before her, rather than accepting what has happened and moving on with the two remaining Cups. Her loss is probably connected to something that was expected to bring pleasure, such as a loving relationship.

When the Five of Cups shows up in a reading, we are being told that our discomfort and dismay are valid and painful, but they are also a wake-up call telling us all is not lost. Our vision is focused narrowly on the spilled Cups and the loss and disappointment they symbolize, but if we could tear our eyes from the destruction and look around, we will find that all is not lost. There, behind the cloaked figure bowed in grief shown on the Five of Cups, are two intact Cups, filled to the brim. He has only to take his focus away from the lost potential and what could have been, and instead look around him at what he still has now and he will see that happiness is still available to him. This could very well be an opportunity to leave behind what has hurt him and turn to a different and more fulfilling direction.

** 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 Journey 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.

Click Image for Amazon Information

The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Spreads by Liz Dean helps you answer your life questions instantly, while showing you how to read your cards and create your own layouts.

If you would like a definitive answer to a question, try this spread. In it, you ask your question three times and lay one card each time: in total, the cards yield a yes or no meaning.

Three Cards: Ask Three Times: Yes or No?

Shuffle the deck while thinking of your question, then spread the cards face down in a fan shape from left to right or right to left, so that the whole deck is before you. Now ask your question again. With your left hand, choose one card and place it to the left.

 

Ask the question again, and choose a second card. Place it in the center, to the right of the first card. Now ask your question a final time: choose a third card,

 

 

placing it to the right of the second. Turn over the cards and look at the list below to determine whether they’re “yes,” “no,” or “neutral” cards. Here’s how to

interpret the results:

 

Three yeses: Your answer is yes

Two yes cards with one no or neutral: A yes outcome is most likely, but you may need to wait

All no cards: The answer is no

A mix of no/neutral: The answer is no

One yes, one no, one neutral: Repeat the reading

All neutral cards: The answer is not known at this time; ask the cards again in a few days

 

 

Yes” cards

All cards apart from those listed as “no,” neutral, or exceptions

No” cards

Swords: Three, Five, SIX Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, and Knight

Cups: Five, Seven, Eight

Pentacles: Five

XIII Death

XV The Devil

XVI The Tower

XVIII The Moon

Neutral cards

Swords: Four

Cups: Four

IX The Hermit

XII The Hanged Man

 

Exceptions

Two of Swords, Ten of Wands: The answer is not yet known.

Five and Seven of Wands: The answer is yes, but you must fight for your prize.

 

** This has been an excerpt from the book The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Spreads by Liz Dean provided by The Quarto Group

 

***Reader Surprise***

The Quarto Group knows how Magickal Tarot is! They are Amazingly & Graciously offering PaganPagesOrg Readers a 40% off coupon for the month of JUNE on their tarot books, cards, and accessories with Coupon Code TAROT18. Now have fun shopping!!!

 

The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Spreads: Reveal the Answer to Every Question about Work, Home, Fortune, and Love

The Line of Five

Anyone who knows me or follows me on any of my Wordpress blogs or Facebook or Twitter knows that I have been fighting a major depression – one of the worst depressions in over ten years. It’s affected every aspect of my life – eating, sleeping, my ability to write – and it has affected my desire to use my divination skills. For years, I longed for a deck of Lenormand cards and now I have a beautiful set of oracle cards – actually two historic decks – and probably the best learning manual on the market, The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards by Caitlín Matthews – but for weeks, the cards have sat on the shelf and the book barely cracked.

Yes, as depressed as I am, I feel guilty about this. I know that this guilt is a residue from my Catholic childhood but it’s there. I know that I *should* be practicing with these new cards – and the Playing Card Oracle deck I just got – like I should have been practicing the piano all those long years ago when I was ten, eleven, twelve years old. But like the preteen Polly of the early 1970’s, I sit and dream of other times. Of California and golden, wind-swept hills. Of Johnny Lancer. Of wild horses that couldn’t drag me away.

My son has been very worried about me. His lease is up at the end of July and he decided that for his last year of college, he is going to move back in with me – it makes economic sense – for him, anyway. But he wants to watch over his Mama – make sure that she doesn’t do herself any harm. Which is sweet – unnecessary but sweet. I don’t mind him moving in. Like everything, there are pros and cons either way.

I got out the Lenormand deck and shuffled it. I wasn’t even sure what I was doing but I thought – just lay out five cards – do a line of five. As explained in The Lenormand Oracle Handbook: “This is a small, useful spread in which the most important card is the middle one, the main focus. It is the basis for any line of cards, whether it be 5,7,9,or 11 cards: the center card becomes the hinge or focus and the two sides are the wings.” (Caitlín, 113).

I shuffled my cards and laid them out accordingly. I focused on the question – I’m not sure if question is the correct term – but the issue – of whether or not it was a good idea for James to move back in with me. Although I am lonely, I do cherish and protect my solitude. And James can be stiflingly over-protective, like most men. Plus, he tends to treat me like I’m much older than I am – like I am as old as my own mother. Which is annoying, to say the least. I mean – I’m only fifty-eight years old – and in quite good health! I just get depressed now and again!

This is what I got:

The middle card (card #3) is the main issue. 25 The Ring is about commitment. Think weddings and marriage but any kind of strong bond. If there is one thing about James and me, it’s that there has always been a strong bond between us. He’s my only child – the only one I was ever able to have – and I almost lost him early in pregnancy. James has a close relationship with his father but he lives in Florida and only visits a few times a year. James has been with me most of his life.

I know that when I got pregnant with James, I felt the he was the one. I had been pregnant numerous times before James – I was thirty-two when I became pregnant with James and my first pregnancy was at age seventeen – and I had suffered so many miscarriages that even my OB/GYN suggested that I have an abortion. But I just knew – this was the one. And without Planned Parenthood in the early months of that pregnancy, I might have lost James, too. I have nothing but great things to say about that organization.

Cards #1 and #2 tell what has led to or influenced this situation. #14 Fox and #30 Lily suggest that there is some kind of trickery going on (the fox) which could affect family welfare (the lily), which is why James is so concerned about me – I am not going into personal family affairs here, but suffice it to say that James is not happy with the ways things have been going with the family politics and he wants to be my defender! Which is seen with the King of Spades on the #30 Lily Card – holding his sword against the fox.

Cards #4 and #5 are the likely outcome. #15 Bear and #6 Clouds is a confused mother – me. #6 Clouds has another King – the King of Clubs – two black Kings means success in court but I am not sure if that applies here! But I might need all the help I can get!

Like many Tarot readings, I do not see a true outcome here. The #6 Clouds card muddled up the whole thing. And yet – perhaps this is telling the whole story. I am not sure if it is a good idea for James to move back in – and yet, I can hardly wait for him to be here. I guarantee you, he feels exactly the same way. What virile young man wants to live with his witchy old mother? But – you can’t argue with economics. If he is to graduate, he needs to live in a place he can afford. I do understand that. At his age, I couldn’t afford to go to college at all – I was working three jobs.

I am sorry that I missed you all last month. I will fight this depression harder and be here with another Lenormand lesson next month. Until then, Brightest Blessings to all of you.

References

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

***

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.

Death

(The Death Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

This month, since we are heading toward Samhain and Halloween, we will return to the Major Arcana, and talk about Death. The Tarot Major Arcana card Death, that is. Once we take a closer look at this card, you will come to understand that the Death card rarely foretells death of the physical body, and it really is something to be celebrated, not feared. Before we begin, let’s remind ourselves of some terms. If you know them, go ahead and skip down to where we talk about the traditional image of the card.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior. In the analysis of personality, the term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype” (a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; for instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype), or an “epitome” (the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; for example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty). Archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has personally experienced (or will experience) these archetypes.

Besides the symbolism in its traditional image, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.

The traditional image on Death is of a skeleton in black knight’s armor, sometimes also wearing a black robe, riding a white horse whose bridle is decorated with skulls and crossbones, and carrying within his bony hand a flag or banner featuring a white rose. Standing before the horse is a priest, his hands together in prayer. At the feet of the horse are people who are dead or in the process of dying, one of which is often a child. Also at the feet of the horse is a discarded crown. Where the horse walks, the ground is brown, yet in the background are green trees, mountains, and a river on which a boat moves, its white sail filled with air. On the horizon are two white castles, and what could be either the rising or setting sun. In some decks, the horse being ridden by Death is also a skeleton. Other Death cards show the traditional version of Death himself, a Grim Reaper skeleton in a black or a blood-red robe, carrying a scythe, with skulls and bones and body parts littering the ground around him; often he is standing beside a stream or body of water, and sometimes the sky is filled with dark clouds.

Most of the symbolism within the traditional images of the Death card tells of endings and beginnings, transitions of some kind, and often, a return to balance. Death is a frightening figure, and yet his banner is emblazoned with a rose, the symbol of promise, hope, love, and new beginnings. The rose is also often found on The Magician, Strength, and The Fool, all three of which could offer us advice for dealing with the Death card. The sun on the horizon could represent the ending of a day or the beginning of a day. Water tells of emotions, visions, and dreams, all ways to communicate across the Veil between those who are alive and those who have passed. Water also tells of birth and death. The scythe represents the harvest, which happens at the end of the growth season when the harvest is leveled, and the discarded crown tells us that no one, even a king, is immune to death.

The Death card is numbered XIII. The number 13 has a lot of baggage attached to it, not all pleasant. We can break this number down several ways. We can add the digits, 1 + 3, and get the number 4. The number 4 is about balance, stability and depth, not concepts we would connect to Death. However, cycles of being born, living, and then dying and resting only to be born again are a part of our natural world, and death is a key part of the renewal that comes with birth, a part of the balancing of those cycles. We can break the number down as a combination of the numbers 10 and 3. The number 10 tells of the completion of a cycle or effect, and the number 3 tells of broadening our ability to perceive, or the physical manifestation of an idea, or a new creation out of the union of opposites. Or, we can take the number on its own. 13 is seen by many as representing bad luck, rooted from that Friday the 13th in 1307 when the Knights Templar were mostly assassinated. However, the number 13 can represent the “enlightened guest”; Christ had 12 disciples, which means there were 13 people at the Last Supper: 12 disciples and the “enlightened guest,” thus offering keywords such as ascension and resurrection to the Death card. In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered the 13th god of the pantheon, and the most powerful. This offers keywords such as completion, attainment and realization to our card. The number 13 is also a prime number, which tells of purity and an incorruptible nature.

The Death card represents the archetypes of The Reaper and Rebirth. The Reaper clears the growth from the fields and brings in the last harvest. Again, we are shown the cycle of life, and the importance of endings and completions. Only then, once the harvest is gathered and the fields are cleared and allowed to rest, can Rebirth begin. For even during the darkest winter night when the fields are covered with snow, the seeds of the last harvest begin to germinate. These archetypes tell of letting go of the old to make way of the new, of moving from the known into the unknown (which can be frightening), and that new beginnings will follow a period of grieving for what has gone.

Death corresponds with the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. 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.

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water. Emotions flow and have currents, 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, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious, the dark and unknown depths hidden below the smooth reflective surface.

In astrology, Death corresponds with the astrological sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is a fixed Water sign; in Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. For Scorpios, these traits are found 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 Cardinal and Mutable Signs. On the other hand, they are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios will ruthlessly fight on behalf of their beliefs, regardless of any contrary evidence, but they are most at home when immersed in a sustained, worthwhile situation. Scorpios love to learn about others; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable. Scorpio is about beginnings and endings, and about understanding the deep, dark secrets of the self. Scorpios stick to the plan (Scorpio is a Fixed Sign, after all); they are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. These creative forces express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. Death of the Major Arcana corresponds with the Hebrew letter Nun, the fourteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet which falls into the level of manifestation, representing the fish. In Aramaic, the fish is a symbol of activity and life. Nun is said to represent both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness. The origin of the pictograph representing the letter Nun is said to be a seed sprouting, representing perpetuation, offspring and the verb “to continue.”

On the Tree of Life, Death represents Path 24, running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Netzach (the stimulating factors of emotion and inspiration). The 24th Path explores the differences between materialism and spirituality; it connects Netzach, the bottom of the Pillar of Force, with Tiphareth, the center of the Tree. The 24th Path helps us to face our fear of change; it shows us that death is a natural part of the evolutionary process, and of living. Through working with this Path, and with the Death card, we learn that death is actually a beginning, and we learn that change and transition are healthy.

The alchemic process of Putrefaction can be seen as a form of death. In biological death, putrefaction is one of the stages of decomposition in which the cohesion between tissues is broken down and the organs are liquefied. Within the alchemic Great Work, Putrefaction destroys the old nature and form. “Everything that has lived, dies; everything that is dead putrefies and finds a new life.” Dom Pernety.

In the Tarot of the Magicians, Oswald Wirth shows us a skeleton with a scythe, surrounded by body parts and the head of a woman with long hair and a man wearing a crown. In this deck, many of the cards are named: the Magician, the Priestess, the Empress; however Death is not named, only numbered. Wirth tells us that death is not to be feared for it is liberation, rather, Death “extinguishes nothing, but sets free the energies overwhelmed by the weight of Matter’s increasing inertia.”

The Dreams of Gaia Major Arcana Death/Rebirth card is **the** change card of this beautiful deck; the keywords for this card are endings, beginnings, cycles, transformation, transmutation, change and growth. Death/Rebirth tells of the death of the things that no longer serve and the birth of the new and exciting things that will replace the things that died. The process is not reversible (which is one reason we fear death); once we pass through Death and into Rebirth, there is no re-do. The LWB offers pointed advice: “. . . it is time to take a long, hard look at your life, and understand that it is time to let go.”

The image of the Death card in Thoth deck is what attracted me to this deck initially. The Death card shows death as a dancing skeleton bearing a scythe. He wears the Crown of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead and is shown in the waters of Amenti, an Egyptian after-death state. The sweep of his scythe creates bubbles which contain the seeds of new life. This version of Death does not show the usual version of the Grim Reaper; instead this being dances!

I adore the image on the Wild Unknown Death card; it absolutely captures the idea of transformation without bringing in the fear. Here is the duckling of The Fool and the swan of the Cups Court Cards of this deck, or at least what is left of them after their life forces have departed and their bodies have mostly decayed and gone back to where they began so new life can spring from their ingredients. There are still some feathers left, and a beak on the skull, like the fading memories left in our minds of someone who was once alive. Most of what was here once has gone on to another plane of existence, the life force back to the Divine and the body back to the Earth. We don’t know what it is like to die, but there is a rightness to this image that reassures. Life may not be forever, but neither is Death.

The Legacy of the Divine Death card has everything you would expect: a skull, spiders and scorpions, a grim reaper on a rearing steed, wearing armor and carrying a tattered banner, a dead bird and winter-bare branches along with a beautiful, perfect white rose blossom. This card tells us that we have indeed died, maybe not physically but we have been irrevocably transformed. We are not existing in the same form. The keywords are letting go, death, rebirth, regeneration, and metamorphosis, among others.

Endings are as necessary in life as beginnings, and the Death card reminds us that the cycles of life, no matter how pleasant or feared they may be, have a beauty about them. Our life cycles have an elegant simplicity about them. Nothing is wasted, and everything has value. As we move through the changes and transformations of life, we need to remember to not dwell too much on the events of the past, or the possibilities of the future. Instead, we should embrace this moment in time and look for the possibilities hidden within it. Those possibilities have so much to offer, and they are right here, in our hands.

** 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/ .

Book Review

Tarot For Your Self, A Workbook for Personal Transformation (Second Edition)

by Mary K. Greer

To me, any Tarot book written by Mary K. Greer needs attention, and Tarot for Your Self, 2nd Edition: A Workbook for Personal Transformation is no exception. Tarot For Your Self is published by New Page Books, a division of The Career Press, Inc, Pompton Plains, NJ; it is a 7”by 10” paperback with a glossy color cover and contains 298 pages of nicely-sized typeface printed on white paper.

This is not a typical how-to-read-the-Tarot book. Tarot For Your Self does not only present card images, keywords and sample interpretations. Not that there are no correspondences or meanings offered at all (Appendix A has all that great Little White Book information, with upright and reversed meanings, an affirmation, and questions to be answered for each card), but rather the meat of Greer’s workbook offers great suggestions, explanations, and exercises focused on learning to integrate crystals, pendulums, visualizations, affirmations, numerology, astrology, self-exploration, rituals and meditations into our Tarot practices.

There is a chapter that offers new ways to get to know the cards of the Tarot, and new ways to use the cards for personal exploration. There is a chapter that focuses on getting to know and understand the personalities of the Court Cards. Another chapter takes familiar spreads and breaks them down so that a Tarot reader can make use of useful variations of even a simple three card spread. Greer even addresses yes-no and either-or questions in this chapter.

Throughout the book, along with the many charts and correspondence lists, meditations and visualizations, images and descriptions of a myriad of spreads to fit any circumstance imaginable, are valuable exercises that help a reader to see the cards in new ways and experience how the meanings of the cards can directly connect to and explain our own life experiences. Like any workbook, there is space within each of those exercises for us to record results and descriptions of experiences we may have while doing the exercises. At the end of each chapter is a list of suggested reading connected to the information provided in that chapter.

Besides the information about the individual cards in the Appendix, there is also a history of the Tarot and some theories regarding its origin, and a very useful correspondences chart.

What I like about Tarot For Your Self is that it offers many useful tools that allow us to use our Tarot cards for self-discovery and self-healing. There are exercises for dealing with depression, clarifying relationships, and clarifying money issues. There are meditations for relaxing and grounding. There are descriptions of rituals for purifying your cards, and descriptions of how to formulate a question and how to interpret reversed cards within a spread.

In Tarot For Your Self, Mary K. Greer has created a book that can help new readers to get a glimpse of how much information a Tarot card can offer, and that can help more seasoned readers to tap into the personalities of the cards in order to tell the story of a spread. Here is a workbook that does not require us to memorize keywords but rather encourages us to do the exercises and journal our own unique experiences in order to become personally acquainted with the cards of the Tarot. This is a classic that has stood the test of time, and has something to offer to new readers and longtime Tarot enthusiasts alike.

Tarot for Your Self, 2nd Edition: A Workbook for Personal Transformation

***

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

Comments are closed.

Trackback URI |