What Draws You to the Cards?


Donnaleigh de LaRose (Tarot and Lenormand educator extraordinaire and owner of cool birds and cute dog) asked a really cool question on Facebook the other day. What draws you to the cards?, she asked.

For me, two things: The stories, the myths they reflect of the human desire to understand the intangible; the power they give me to channel the energies of what I know through my brain so my insights can be interpreted and expressed.

The cards (whether pictorial or just playing cards) all have traditions attached to them that reflect universal human questions and conditions that have been explored in mythological stories and more recently using the scientific method and perspective. We learn from both. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says in his new version of the show Cosmos, no matter how we approach the universe, it’ll always be with a combination of rational observation and wondrous imagination.


And then there are the energies. The web of the universe’s energy and matter is also available to us to feel into what’s going in with the collective consciousness that I think pervades the entire universe. God, if you want to call it that. It’s physical, and the scientists will get a handle on how this works as time goes on (the quantum physics area is providing some current mysteries that may eventually shed light on what I can feel but not measure yet). Some folks interpret the voices they hear or the visions they see; I feel waves of emotional energy from others and the universe at large. I use the cards as a symbolic language to translate that. My Tarot readings seem to be getting some very synchronistic results for my querents as a result, so I can tell I’m getting better at the translation. It’s a very cool thing!

I need to create a spread for the current edition of the British Tarot association’s (TABI’s) newsletter, so let’s play one off of Donnaleigh’s question.

Physical/Metaphysical Spread

Use for a question where you want to know where to look for the answer to something, like a new idea, relationship, career move, etc.

Three cards, like this:

1) In the physical, what should I look for to shed light on this question?

2) In the metaphysical (inside me), what should I look for to shed light on this question?

3) Integration: What insight can I use to integrate these two perspectives and set my direction?

physics-metaphysics draw 4-21-14I took out my trusty Universal Waite deck and went after this one with a question about how to express the “I give good space for you to be your own star” service that I’ve been providing on an informal basis to friends and family for the last fifteen years.

So, in the physical, I see that I need to take some risks and then my results will be tangible (as this guy’s ships come in). I’ve planted the seeds and practiced; it’s time to make this my business, one way or another. Turning inward, I’m meant to take a very practical but nurturing approach, starting close to home, but looking for a fair energy trade (usually money) for this service that I provide. I need to share in a practical way, but close to home first. To integrate these aspects, I need to use the clear and rational perspective of the Queen of Swords. Keep it straightforward and again share and work with others to build an intellectual structure for this service.

So, let me know how this spread works for you, and what draws you to the cards. :)

The Fool—Cosmic Whispers Deck

Here’s the image I’m thinking of using for The Fool in my deck. I keep going back and forth about whether or not the outline of the fellow is obvious enough for doing readings. Here’s the text that will go with it. Let me know what you think in comments, please. Many thanks! (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU))


beginning, taking risk, trusting, spontaneity, apparent folly, the world in the egg, innocence

The Physics

The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant from an event that occurred relatively recently in universal time, your time of 1054 CE. Chinese and Arabic astronomers recorded the event. Supernovas are my most creative entities, since they make the heaviest chemical elements right when they go off. Without them, we wouldn’t have gold, silver, or lead, for example. It takes great mass and great focused energy to pull this off. And now, all the ingredients for a brand new creation! In addition, at the center, there’s a pulsar, a neutron star as massive as the Sun but so dense that it’s only the size of a small town.

Metaphysics and Myth

The Fool began life as a pretty wild character, literally a wild card character in the original use of the Tarot as a playing card deck.  He looked like the village idiot with an animal nipping at his heels. But the Golden Dawn esoteric shift in the deck thanks to Pamela Colman-Smith and Arthur Waite gave him a whole new function as the initiate into the realms of magic. He seems to have taken on the role of the innocent going on the hero’s journey (only more like Don Quixote going off to tilt at windmills) or a version of the court jester; foolish and clever at the same time.

In this image, depending on how one looks at the lines, there could be just the little dog (facing right), or the Fool himself towards the right side of the shape, standing upright and maybe looking down and to the left at his hobo bag.

In the universe, the Fool represent the singularity at the time of the Big Bang. Even smaller than the neutron star at the center of this Crab Nebula. Much smaller. He is the Cosmic egg, holding all of the universe in potential and just about to expand into existence, into particles like these that will organize eventually into stars.

For the Reading

Your Self, like the universe, won’t be built in a day, and will include many spirals of creation and destruction. Life may look like the primordial soup when everything is in probability but not actuality. Take a small step in the direction of your passion; it may not look like more than the unconnected particles at the beginning of the universe, but the combination of expansion and the gravity of your intent will coalesce into beauty. But you have to give that intent; you have to say, “Let there be light.”

The Story

I’m just sitting here on this wall,
The sun is beating down,
I wonder if I’ll fall.

What am I waiting for?

Could be a true blue norther,
A major avalanche,
Or a world to be born.

What am I waiting for?

You’re standing in the doorway
With shadows on your face,
And longing in your eyes.

You hesitate; you stop,
You bend and tie your shoelace.

What are you waiting for?

Could be a windblown kiss,
The light from a lantern,
Or gateway to bliss.

What are you waiting for?

Lying here among the stones,
With hearts in our eyes,
And songs in our ears,

What are we waiting for?

For stars to fall, the sun to die,
The earth to quiver,
Clouds to vaporize?

What are we waiting for?

Now’s the moment and here’s the time
To be, to do, to live, to shine.

What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?

The “Re-” in Resurrection—Ostara Tarot Blog Hop


earth_spring_equinoxWelcome to the blog hop, to equinox (see Earth to the left there), to spring in the northern hemisphere, to the feast of Ostara (goddess of the dawn), the origin for the name Easter. Yes, many Christian labels and symbols connect to their European pagan ancestors. Old traditions never die, they just change form, kind of like matter and energy in the universe at large (very large!).

My theme for this blog hop, is the resurrection aspect of Ostara/Easter, about the renewal of spring, the ever-ongoing cycle of death and rebirth of…everything. I emphasized the “re-” in resurrection in my title to get you thinking about past cycles, past passions, for they feed into the present, even after we let them go. There are always memories, records, of changes, things we used to know, used to play with, almost forgotten in the corner of a closet or even tossed in the dust bin of time. So let’s ask, not whether or not it’s time for rebirth (it always is), but what we might want to remember, resurrect, re-create from those “wonder what would have happened if I” times.

Resurrection Spread

Wait, this is an oracular blog hop, so we can ask some cards and the Universe toe help us remember and choose something to resurrect. Just a little three-card spread, then, like this:

1) Where in my past can I find a wondrous enlightening, creative, beautiful thing to resurrect?

2) Hobby or life’s new work/play, where should I express my resurrected self?

3) What will be the result of breathing life into this old, raggedy thing?

My draw  for this question, from the Wildwood Deck:


1) The Ten of Arrows is more like the Eight of Pentacles in this deck, with an old man teaching the young boy to shoot. I remember that well, learning to do that at my grandparents’ cottage on Merrymeeting Lake in New Hampshire. Could renew my skills in archery or something else I learned from my childhood.

2) The Three of Cups is next with friendly storks celebrating. Hmmm. Seems like this might be a hobby and something social to do with friends. I do work more than I should, so that’s an interesting thought, to let go of making everything into a business and just enjoy!

3) The Seven of Bows in the Wildwood is called “Clearance” rather than being about vanquishing one’s foes from a position of strength. I see that we have bows here, from which we can shoot those arrows from the first card. So, some skill from my childhood, perhaps taught by my grandparents, will clear a space for me to relax and breathe, and pause to see the sky.

I shall have to look for another inspiration from the Lake and my grandparents’ past, but I have already begun to knit again. My nana taught me that. I do find it very relaxing and a lovely change from staring at a computer. I think maybe I shouldn’t put pressure on myself to be able to sell my little creations and just enjoy the process for now. Often the process of stretching body and mind to do something is much more helpful for the soul than the ending accomplishment.

Clear your mind of present concerns then, and find a space in the past to retrieve and resurrect some experience that feeds your soul so it can also bloom this spring. And in the meantime, I’ll share a poem I wrote about the past and that place on the Lake half a century or so ago.


Ghosts on the Water

Ghosts of grandfathers
curling like smoke over the grill,
long gone it is to rust and ruin.

I remember the charcoal smell
of that perfect patty, still.

Vapors of tasseled hammocks
creaking on old hooks;
now they’re buried in tree growth.

I remember the swing
of being toes in the air, still.

Shafts of arrows long ago
thumping into target bales;
straw and fletches have gone to earth.IMG_0217

I remember the glory
of aiming true and releasing, still.

Shades of old garden ladies
cocking straw hats toward the sun,
their proud pansies are gone to seed.

I remember the life
of soil on my fingers, still.

Moonbeams of swimmers
gliding through water;
now they’re just ripples of wind.


I remember the cold
of that first brave dive, still.

Wraiths of child laughter
echoing in a piney breeze,
now lost to work and parenthood.

I remember jumping free
on those pine beds, still.

Only the shreds of memories remain,
of merry meetings and farewell sighs,
and the light of the ghosts on the water.

Let me know if you try the spread what you learn and enjoy stretching your soul in resurrection. :)

Also, please do visit my neighbors: Tierney Sadler to my left, a great reader and creator, and Stacey Carroll, my Tarot colleague Down Under in Adelaide, Australia, where the cycle turns toward autumn instead of spring.



The Question’s Role in Tarot Readings

stuck_in_maze_questioningI’m currently tutoring in TABI‘s tarot course on their membership forum, and as we’ve been going through lessons on ethics and question formulation, I’ve been reminded of my own struggle as a student with the question of…the question. I started out being rather vague and internally introspective in my readings, largely because I’d been doing them for myself and a friend or family member for twelve years, and not for the general public.

Boy, was I in for a surprise when I began doing free readings for TABI! Most querents ask much more down-to-earth questions about their circumstances and relationships to other people; the “spiritual” or “psychological” question is just one of many possibilities.

The Ethical/Philosophical Aspect

So I had to learn to deal with these often predictive questions (“Does X really love me?” “How will my new investments do in the market?”) and decide on my own approach to them, given that I do believe we are the final arbiters and decision makers in our own lives, and that I’m not going to do deterministically predictive readings. On the other hand, I do believe that we are not necessarily totally free to create our own reality without influence from other people and the collective consciousness, so Tarot can give some insight into what’s going on around us, but I can’t tell you if X really does love you for sure, although the Tarot can give general direction on the potential in the relationship since the querent has influence there. Although I think the Tarot (and the reader) has an ability to tap into the collective energetic potentials planet-wide, there are so many free-will decisions involved that I wouldn’t ask it to give a deterministic prediction on a querent’s financial investments. That’s really not under its jurisdiction and I’d refer to a human financial advisor.

So, I believe the combination of querent, reader, collective consciousness, and Tarot symbolism can give indications of hidden or potential future situations directly relating to the querent and their question. Which leads me to the next part of the question: staying focused on the question.


Question as Context

So, given an appropriate angle for the question (“How’s my relationship with X going?” What’s my best general approach to creating wealth?”), the main thing I’ve had to learn as a reader is to not forget the question when I’m assigning meanings to the cards individually and together. I used to have a tendency to turn every question into an internal psycho-spiritual journey, and that’s not really what a lot of querents are looking for, especially if they are used to traditional fortune-telling methods. I’ve found myself often having to scroll up during a free email reading composition to check the question again to make sure I’m not going off track.

For example, say you have that first question, “How’s my relationship with X going?” Keeping it simple, let’s just put out a single card and say it’s the King of Pentacles. Now, Pentacles usually indicate issues involving health, wealth, nature, physical circumstances. And the King is often indicative of authority and control over whatever the suit theme is. In a health reading, I could take this card as indicating good health or even a call to get fit or otherwise exercise control over one’s health, but mostly it would indicate that health is good. Or, the King of Pentacles could be a call to reconnect with nature or enjoy the good things in life.

King of Pentacles Universal Waite

© US Games, Inc.

But wait! What’s the question? Oh, yeah, it’s about relationship. Refocus. :) In this case, the King could definitely indicate a person (although he could be a person in other contexts as well), maybe even the querent’s significant other. One could simply take this to be an older, wealthy man, or a particularly protective one (if the querent were male, I’d think the card referred to him). It could also indicate that the relationship itself is based on practical considerations, or even that it’s an arranged marriage. The reader could also talk about what’s missing, since this is a relationship question, and there’s no sense of passionate attachment with this card, for example. As long as the querent is happy with a practical cast to the relationship and isn’t looking for excitement and hot sexual passion all the time, things are good. In the end, it will still be the querent who decides whether or not this type of relationship is what they want.

Overall, I like to think that the Tarot and I are partnering in clearing the mist (or peek over the top of the maze) that often surrounds an individual’s view of their situation (including present influences and potentials into the future) so they can then make their own decisions about what’s best for them.

This Week’s Favs

Anna Cebrian is working an interesting Tarot theme deck based on the Oz stories (you did know that there are lots more than just the one they made a movie out of, right? ;)). I like the collaborative comic book-artist perspective. You can check out the Shadow of Oz deck at the Kickstarter here.

Thanks to my Tarot buddy Theresa Reed (The Tarot Lady), I was introduced to Paige Z’s Tarot and Tea blog and generally fun site on both Tarot and the joys of aromatic teas. Paige has a wonderfully whimsical style that I really like.

So, let me know how you see the question of the Question and how you approach interpreting cards for different types of questions. :)

Breaking Through—Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop 2014



Welcome to the first signs of abundance to come, the first milk of the ewes, the stirrings of life beneath the snows, the Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop!

We’ve had more freezes this year in Houston, Texas, than in several of the previous ones, so the grass and subtropical shrubs are brown and leafless, although the Chinese fringe flowers continue to thrive and will produce little pink flowerettes soon.  Oh, and we still have a bloom or two, plus leaves, left on the roses. Roses actually seem to like it better in the cool weather. We rarely get the snow that falls farther north, but the damp cold of January does feel like England, and a cup of hot tea goes down nicely. Whether you’ve come in from Chloe McCracken’s Inner Whispers in one direction or from the Joanna Ash’s Sun Goddess Tarot blog (from tropical Singapore, no less!) in the other, welcome!

brighde_Stuart-LittlejohnOur lovely Hop wrangler, Christiana Gaudet, has given us an inspiration to celebrate Brighid, the Celtic goddess of healing and fertility (or in this case, creativity). Brighid, or St. Bridget as she seems to have morphed into in her Christian guise, is one of my very favorite Celtic deities. Here in Stuart Little-John’s artistic eye, she’s surrounded by what looks to me a sword of great intent, a crook to herd the pregnant sheep, the snow-drops a-blooming, the healing serpent emerging from the newly thawed soil, and a swan who will soon be tending her young. She carries the torch of eternal light while the trees in the distance still sleep. Earth, air, fire, and water, the whole universe, waiting for the sun to arc just a little higher.

“Imbolc” or “Imbolg” means “in the belly” and refers to the season where sheep and goats are carrying their young, the first domesticated mammals to be born in early spring, and therefore are, or will soon be, lactating. Wait! Milk and snow = ice cream! A very tasty thought, although I think I’ll have mine by the fire at this time, thank you.

One good way to break through the cold fog of spring’s early morning and expose what might be striving in the womb of your heart is to set the beautiful images of Tarot down and see what the cards, and you, say will lead to the healing that opens the gap for creative beauty to surface.

I know my best creative work has often come from healing some inner fear or sorrow and then finding the opening to grow into something new. Lately for me, new creation has meant knitting, although sometimes I feel like I’ve ripped out and started over more than I’ve stitched. ;) I love the process of making stitches more than the final product so far. I wonder if snow drops enjoy the sting of the snow as they unfold and stretch into the sunlight?

How do challenges inspire you to do more creative work and play?

Let’s use this Imbolc spread I developed last year with some modification for this year’s theme to see what sorts of breakthroughs we can find:

1) As it seems: What’s on the surface? Is it crusty or soft with new rain from released emotions? Where’s your obstacle to growth, or has it just now dissolved?

2) As you will: Reveal your great desire, that push to see the sun. Why do you want to grow into something new?

3) As you feel: How does it feel to stretch and grow past those barriers? Tears or laughter? Or deepest calm?

4) As you move: Will it be all easy and flow, or will you be “ripping out” and starting over more than once?

5) As you are: What is really inside you that longs to see the sun?

Ah, lay them out then, your five cards, in whatever shape you like (a star, flower petals, the face and ears of your favorite ewe, even) and see what comes up out of the snow. And let me know in the comments, if you will. I love to chat!

I will leave you with my Rebirth card (#20) for the Cosmic Whispers deck, since Imbolc is  all about the beginning of a new cycle of growth rising up after the deaths of winter have passed. Bright Blessings!


And when you’re done, don’t forget to visit my neighbors (links reprised below) or head over to the master list to get re-oriented after a break.