Art decks vs Accuracy
There are a number of tarot decks I absolutely love - mostly because of the art. One of those, for example, is Charissa Drengsen's Steampunk Tarot, a prized member of my growing deck collection. Beautiful pearled paper, very interesting photo-collage artwork, all together a wonderful trip through 78 pieces of art. There is one observation I must make, however - many of the cards in my estimation don't really express any meaning, period. They're pretty/interesting to look at, but really don't say much. Of course, if you're an experienced tarot reader, this shouldn't/wouldn't matter as you know your cards; but if you're a novice, or a mostly intuitive reader relying on imagery, the lack of well expressed meanings is a shortfall of the deck.
I wrestle with this in my own deck creations - the decorative and pretty vs clear proscribed meaning. Sure you can and should have both in the cards, and many decks do deliver both of these. But what of the ones which don't? Even the famed Baba Studio decks sometimes have this shortfall - at least in some of the cards in a particular deck. Those cards will carry the deck's theme well, but not, in my opinion express a clear point of view - or at least not one which I recognize.
I still treasure beautiful art decks, though I don't find myself reaching as often for the ones which do not express clear interpretations in the imagery. Sure, I can read with any deck, but most often use the ones which deliver both beautiful form and imaginative, but clear, meanings.
Off the Beaten Path Tarot Decks
Yes, it's been awhile since I've posted, I know. I've been busy creating a new oracle deck - The White Rabbit Oracle! You can view the entire deck right here on my site on its own page The White Rabbit Oracle and there's also a link to my Etsy shop there too.
Now to business - and the theme of this post - Off the beaten track tarot decks. By that I mean decks that are very different in their art and/or take than the usual - that is, decks not following Rider Waite Smith distinctly. I happen to love a lot of these decks - my appetite has grown for them as my immersion in tarot and tarot/oracle art has lengthened. I just love differences and originality - and usually these are found in independently produced decks. I have a number of them: Tarot of the Zirkus Magi (an old-fashioned circus theme); Tarot de St. Croix (bright visionary art); The Silent Tarot (printed from original paper collage cards); Frau Grand Duchess Tarot (also printed from original paper collage with a 50's kitsch theme); Pearls of Wisdom Tarot (new printing, very bright original artwork in a "primitive" style); Alice Tarot (from fabulous Baba Studios), and the piece de resistance - The Twin Peaks Tarot (yes, drawings based on the cult TV series from the early 90's which I loved!). These are all unique unto themselves and entirely different from one another, but one thing they all have in common is their uniqueness and lack of commercial feel.
I'm planning to start a new page to feature these unusual (and often beautiful) decks, as they deserve some air time, lacking the big PR machine a mass-market publisher can offer its authors and creators. These are fascinating decks with really interesting interpretations beyond the traditional. Now, sometimes the renderings seem to be in left field, but hey - maybe it means the user (me, for example) needs to concentrate more on unlocking that artist's particular slant, which could open up a whole new filed of viewpoint. It can only enrich our understanding of tarot to add new views to our toolboxes, don't you think? Stay tuned for the new page, coming up very soon!
The Tarot Game
Yesterday I got together with 3 female friends to play The Tarot Game for the 2nd time together. In case you're not familiar with this, The Tarot Game is a real board game (published by Schiffer Publishing) using Tarot cards and other cards supplied with the board and questions. It's sort of like Snakes & Ladders - the board even looks like it - but it gets down deep and personal. None of the group besides myself were familiar with Tarot, which was probably good as they had no preconceptions which could block spontaneity. Both times my friends and I played this game, we got to know each better by sharing new and fascinating (or sometimes sad) facts about our lives. Of course, the addition of a light wine and snacks helped to loosen us all up as well!
We had played this game many months before and ran overtime and had to quit before the game officially ended with a "winner." It was the same this time, as we each had so much to say that we could hardly move forward through the turns. But the point I want to make here is how often the appropriate cards were chosen by each person as a response to their particular question. At the end of our playing time, we each gave each other "gift" cards - that is, cards with a positive word on each that is our wish for the other. Someone handed me "romance" and I was surprised, as I am in a committed relationship and I got a bit flustered, strangely enough. Later, when I thought about the game and that particular exchange, I realized it was appropriate, as I do lament, at times, a lack of romance - and I suppose I'm a romantic at heart (I absolutely love the recently released Romantic Tarot by Lo Scarabeo, which I will be reviewing on here shortly). In this case, my friend was following her intuition, and it was spot on. Playing this game definitely feeds this ability and opens everyone up to the messages and shadows and shining things within them. It's a brilliant, heart opening, mind-opening game and really fun besides. Highly recommended!
SIGNS & WONDERS - The 10 of Coins
The juggling Mad Hatter in the 10 Coins from the exquisite Baba Studio's Alice Tarot deck aptly expresses in a unique way the meaning of this card. The Mad Hatter's playful exuberance on a beautiful day as he juggles his many tea cakes by a table overflowing with alluring delicacies, shows someone comfortably happy, materially fulfilled, open to the moment and overflowing with joy. The large manor house in the background further underscores the material comfort, even opulence this card may indicate. The sun is shining, the grass is a glowing healthy spring-green, the sky is blue with only a few puffy (non-rain) clouds floating by. The Mad Hatter's juggling ability also indicates balance and harmony in his life, where everything is working as it should, in its place and there's nothing more to do than enjoy.
The 10 of Coins is also a reminder that there's more to life than only the material. The very fact that the environment is glowing with lushness and illuminated with clear light shows us that riches are to be found everywhere and in everything. A mere table laden with cakes and tea becomes a crazy riot of color and abundance, eliciting joy at the very sight; There are flowers blooming from a teapot, glowing hearts and fruit on a bright yellow cake, hearts on the teacakes themselves. The beauty of the day itself, the profusion of colors and shapes act as heart-openers in themselves, bringing smiling appreciation and joy to the beholder. These are the "signs and wonders" of the world, the beauty and hence joy that's always there around us, and all it takes is the seeing and acknowledgement of the riches that fill our lives every day. This world is abundant with the pleasures of beauty and so we are all wealthy beyond our imaginations. When the 10 of Coins appears, it's an invitation to enjoy and a reminder of this truth. Like the Mad Hatter on the country estate, we've really got all we need and then some!
Getting the Message
Here's an interesting example on how an oracular message can work when its message turns out to be literal. Today I drew a daily card from The Enchanted Map Oracle deck and I got #53 - Listening. The card shows an elephant, head down with musical notes in the air around its head. Ok, I thought, I need to sit in silence, maybe meditate, listen for inner messages, sort of like the 2 of Swords, or The Hermit maybe. Sure, I do this a lot anyway, so no biggie, good advice but nothing really new here. I was on my computer doing this and that, and shortly after the card draw I got the impulse to listen to some Sound Healing music I have in my i-tunes music library. Now, this is not something I listen to regularly, or even frequently. In fact, I hadn't listened to any of these recordings in possibly months.
I have to admit that I'd been feeling just a little moody this morning for some reason, and I chose a recording called "Gratitude" to listen to. Almost instantly, I felt my mood completely shift! The scattered clouds in my mind drifted away effortlessly and a calm, clear and centered view emerged. Then it hit me - the card #53 with its musical notes literally was directing me to listen to music!
Sometimes the answer is not cryptic at all, but very literal - so literal that we can't see it because we're expecting to have to dig to understand the message. Guess that's why we have to consider every option when contemplating the cards - even the most simple!
What I've Been Doing, Part II
I've been hard at work on a 50-card Oracle deck, samples below. It's a vintage and modern photographic collage deck, created to stimulate imagination and contemplation, irreverent and profound together. While I've put my majors-only tarot deck on a back burner, I've brought this project to the front and am having lots of fun with it. I'll keep you posted. The deck as yet is nameless, but I'm also working on that. If anyone has suggestions, email me and if I use your idea, I'll gift you a free deck when it's completed!
It's been awhile since I've posted here, as I've been in contemplation and creation mode. That is, I was in the midst of the Tarot Counseling class taught by James Wells, tarot counselor extraordinaire, and as a result, I've been rethinking and revamping the way I relate to the cards, both for myself and for clients. I now have a more open-ended approach – meaning I ask more questions, rather than provide all the answers. While I can of course, still approach readings in a predictive mode, I'm choosing to be more of a guide - to allow the querent to answer specific questions I provide based on what their needs are at the particular time using the imagery of the cards as the catalysts. This method is based on the premise that everyone has the answers they seek already within them, maybe just not consciously, and all they need is a guide with the right questions (and illustrative cards) to uncover them.
Of course, a well rounded knowledge of Tarot – the meaning of the suits, imagery, symbols, and reading experience etc is still indispensable and necessary in order for the deepest understanding of any reading, predictive or not, but in Tarot Counseling, the questions are of the utmost importance. What and How are the strongest starter question-words and are empowering because they put the choice and ability into the hands of the querent; Will, Is, Should are now avoided as they lead to only simple Yes/No responses and are not, therefore, constructive and take away choice and self-direction.
I find this way of working with Tarot exciting and empowering and I believe others will too. Rather than being passive bystanders and looking to an expert for answers, querents are active participants and their own expert. I am a guide to enable others to uncover not only what they really want, but also how to get there . Together we can create a strategy for days, weeks, and months ahead based on what each person derives from his/her own reactions and input from their chosen cards.
I now provide a short questionnaire for every client, to be completed at least a day before a scheduled session. Based on their responses, I create questions and a spread that will specifically tie in to the issue(s) the client wants to address. The spreads vary in size depending on the chosen length of the session (30, 60, or 90 minutes) and the complexity of the issue(s). They can be anywhere from 3 to 10 cards; however, longer isn't necessarily better, as a great depth of information is available even with 1 card and can easily take 30 minutes of dissemination by itself!
Because Tarot Counseling relies so heavily on interaction between me, querents, and the card imagery, in-person and Skype sessions are the really the only way to do it. However, I still offer email readings, with a twist - while the readings will still be predictive, they will also include questions for querents to contemplate on their own based on the cards drawn and the question(s) asked. If you desire an interactive and deeper view, do consider trying a Tarot Counseling session – and ask me about my first-timer discount and referrals discount too.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE!
Well, Tarot de St Croix is my latest favorite working deck! I can't stay away from its warm, bright coloring, evocative art and deck creator Lisa St. Croix's succinct takes on the cards in the LWB. There are few "bad" cards in her interpretations; all are seen from a humanistic and healing point of view, with more personal applications. Take the King of Pentacles, for example, which I drew today as the Card of the Day. Normally, I view the Kings and Queens and sometimes the Pages, as actual people in a querent's sphere. In Lisa's tarot, she models this King after the historical King Solomon, "known for his wisdom as well as his riches." Her meaning here is "Know what you want and how to get it and enjoy the fruits of your labor." King Solomon, it seems, certainly knew how to enjoy his, so I really like her interpretation. It's not just about hard work and planning and perseverance, but also about being embodied, in physical form and enjoying life. This is an essential part of the Pentacles suit that is sometimes overlooked.
A few days ago, I pulled the 3 of Pentacles from this deck and here she adds "spiritual" to the interpretation: "Skill, knowledge, and awareness will manifest abundance." Here she has an artist painting a picture of the goddess of magic Isis, under a full moon. So, unlike the RWS interpretation, which focuses mainly on worldly achievement and power in the Pentacles suit, here magic and spirit are as important as work and planning and no success is a full success without those dimensions. I just love this!
Nearly all Lisa's interpretations bring the cards' meaning home to use on a personal, meaningful level and she often adds her own unique life experiences as explanations and demonstrations of her inspirations for the paintings of each card. Though the explanations for the Minor Arcana are brief (The Majors are a lot longer), they are, nonetheless, to the point and I find them enlightening, sometimes getting me look at other perceptions of meanings.
Ok, enough of a plug. If you're on the fence about this deck, or are thinking about getting a new deck but not sure which one, I say - choose Tarot de St. Croix if you want a unique, healing, beautiful, and powerful new addition to your toolbox and deck collection!
Am I validated today! First, there's been more synchronicity with the time, or clocks, to be clearer. It seems that when I'm not trying or thinking about it, I glance at a clock and find 11:11, 12:12, 1:11, etc. Now, I know this isn't an accident. The Universe is trying to tell me something, and that something , I think, is a validation of all the inexplicable things in life, including tarot; it's also an encouragement to listen to my intuition. You know - "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of..." For sure.
So on with my story of the day. First - I'm enrolled in an 8-week on-line class with the fabulous James Wells in Tarot Counseling. I did the first class assignment, part of which was to draw 5 cards to answer 5 questions. One of the questions was regarding what will be a challenge for me in this class. I got The Hermit here, which I admit, puzzled me. Hmm...The Hermit is usually not a bad thing - it indicates taking time out to search within. It seems like that would be what we will all be doing during this class, so why did it appear in a "negative" position, I wondered. I posted answers to the 5 questions on the group's private FB page, including noting my puzzlement over The Hermit. James noted some thoughts on it, suggesting it might be indicating a tendency to study too much and lose touch with reality. This felt close, but not quite right. Fast forward to today.
Another fabulously sunny gorgeous day in my little slice of paradise on the Bay. Instead of going as usual to work out at the gym, I was compelled to detour and play hooky and instead take a long walk on the beautiful and mostly empty beach by my complex. Of course, the beach wasn't empty - it was full of birds, running, walking, soaring and my spirit soared along with them. As I walked, I began to think about The Hermit draw from yesterday and what it might mean for me at this time. Then I knew it was showing me my tendency to hold back on my deeper insights and emotional responses when participating in a group setting, especially when I don't know the other members. Bingo. I knew this was it - my inclination to isolate myself rather than risk putting myself out there because of fear of being "wrong," appearing "stupid," etc, etc. I think we all know these, don't we? Unless you're very lucky and had fantastically supportive parents and teachers, etc; otherwise, you've got an inner critic too. I also began to think about my favorite card in tarot - The Sun, which is also my birth card. I thought I might take it from one of my decks and display it by my computer for the day or week to remind me of how much I have to love and be thankful for, and how amazing and miraculous is life, and how brilliantly beautiful. So on to the best part...
I came home after awhile and pulled a Card of the Day from the beautiful Tarot de St. Croix and got King of Cups. I looked up Lisa's (the deck creator) interpretation in the deck's LWB and bingo - the absolutely perfect fit! Here is part of what she writes: "The King feels and expresses his emotions intensely...Meaning: You are the master of your emotions; bring forth all that is noble, kind, and wise." Wow, this couldn't have been more fitting for today and the issue I'd been contemplating with The Hermit! But wait, there's more!
I decided to pull a Card of the Week from the very spiritual Chrysalis Tarot, hoping I'd get something "good," like The Sun. Guess what - I got it! I nearly shouted out loud! A gift from the Universe through synchronicity - a further validation of what I know to be true, that there are forces, things, which we can't explain and that they are good. That we are surrounded by beauty and miracles. And it reminded me of what I already know: that my underlying mission, role in this life, is to experience and express radiance, truth, optimism, and illumination through whatever ways are mine. Through interacting, writing, creating art, being a tarot guide, etc. I just love this stuff, don't you?
It's that time again - with Fall here, summer frenzy winding down, it's stock-taking time. That is - many of us find ourselves in thoughtful mode, like The Hermit walking down the contemplative road with the High Priestess on his arm. As the leaves fall from the once green trees, it's time to look backwards and forward. This time of year is a reminder of our mortality, of time passing, of change ahead, of goals met and unmet, of forks in our roads. It's time to see what's working and what isn't, what's fulfilling us and what we may need to release or change. With the day and night in equal balance tonight, you may too be thinking on how to reflect that balance in your own life. I know I am. Today's card is The Wheel of Fortune, a perfect card for the Equinox.
Now, The Wheel often indicates a winning ticket - success, good fortune, positive turn of events. But in the context of the Equinox, its expanded meaning applies. What goes up, must come down, what goes around comes around. That's the message and reminder the Equinox and The Wheel bring us today. Be passionate, be intense, love life, love all you do, feel deeply - but keep the balance. Having that third drink at that great party might not be the best choice even if you think you're having the best time of your life. Giving into those urges that we know may not be healthy or right may feel ecstatic at the moment, but there's always the later. Even things that are healthy, when overdone, turn into their opposite. Commitment to work is usually a good thing - unless we overdo it and pay the price in other areas of our lives - our health, our relationships, etc. Passionate intensity in anything can be good, or bad. Balance is the key. The Wheel tells us: What goes around, comes around. What I do today for good or bad will come back in one way or another. A balanced present leads to a balanced future; a good act leads to good feelings and in one way or another, it's paid forward. So, let's reach for balance, like the day and night, light and dark. Too easily light can become dark unless we consciously hold it steady. (Image below from the gorgeous Tarot de St. Croix)
I am an intuitive counselor and visionary artist who has studied and worked with Tarot for over 20 years. I am an avid collector of tarot art, as well as a creator. I am the creator of four oracle decks. I also have an extensive collection of tarot art images on Pinterest.com which you can enjoy.