Eruption at the End of Things: the Tower Sequence in the Tarot

I was thinking about how the Lovers card is an expression of Gemini and brushing my teeth when this sequence dropped into my head, almost fully formed.

These three cards — The Devil, The Tower, and The Star — are in order, and what’s more remarkable about them is that they are two Saturn cards bookended around a Mars card. And with that, an entire sequence, a narrative, forms around the three cards that is worth investigating to increase our facility with reading with and meditating on these cards.

Continue reading “Eruption at the End of Things: the Tower Sequence in the Tarot”

Stage and Ground: Scenic Tarot and the “Open Reading”

Open reading is a concept that, as best as I know, comes from the Marseille tradition. There’s much more to it than this, but you can think of it this way: looking at the way the cards are oriented on the table, do they look forward or backwards? Where are the obstructions? Taking in general patterns visually is how I might try to define it.

Now, the thing is, a lot of figures in Waite Smith decks are in scenes, which is to say, their facing can’t be taken on its own. They face certain directions to convey certain information already, and so while you could call attention to many figures facing backwards, some of them may or may not fit in with the overall "open reading." This essay is an attempt to test out certain possibilities for using the Waite Smith’s famous scenic composition to recreate a kind of "open" reading through distance.

Continue reading “Stage and Ground: Scenic Tarot and the “Open Reading””

Golden Dawn Influence on the Waite Smith Tarot

I’ve been talking about tarot a lot lately, in the past few months I mean, on the Hermetic House of Life server. It’s always nice to have other people to discuss stuff like this with. One of the themes that tends to come up is this perceived gulf between people who use stuff like astrological symbolism in tarot reading and those who don’t. And generally, I feel like the gulf isn’t really there. The Astro information is just information, like anything else, and if you don’t know it, you don’t use it, and that’s fine. And if you know enough to say that the 2 of Wands might mean the time around the Spring equinox and that’s it, great!

What I’m here to write about today, though, is the Waite-Smith tarot and astrology. It’s not necessary to know astrology to use the Waite-Smith deck, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that astrology was instrumental in the design of the deck. And that’s my thesis for today: to fully understand the WS deck you do need to know how it uses astrology, even if you don’t really end up using it for readings. However, let me be clear now: you can absolutely use the deck without knowing any of this stuff. But it’s in there.

Continue reading “Golden Dawn Influence on the Waite Smith Tarot”

Teacher Archetypes in the Tarot Majors

I’m a teacher for my day job, so obviously the idea of what a teacher is, or what one does as a teacher, is often in my mind. And since tarot is also often on my mind, it stands to reason that I think sometimes of which cards represent teachers and teaching. In this post I intend to talk about the two majors that I see as the teachers, as well as the card I suspect people put in that grouping but which shouldn’t be.

Continue reading “Teacher Archetypes in the Tarot Majors”

Tarot Case Study: Card Permutations 1

Here’s a kind of case study we can do every so often: I’m going to pull two cards and answer a variety of hypothetical questions with them. Keep in mind these aren’t advice readings, like my monthly Patreon forecast: they aren’t going to particularly apply to you, or to anybody. They’re pulled as exemplars, so I can demonstrate a variety of methods in something as close to a “real life scenario” as possible.

The Questions

Every time I do this “case study” exercise I’ll use the same questions, though I may add to them over time if I think of more, or if you suggest some! For now they are:

  • How can I improve my career prospects?
  • How can I meet a person who I can begin a healthy romantic relationship with?
  • What should I focus on in my spiritual life?
  • What’s something important in work environment that I haven’t noticed?
  • When should I move?

That covers a wide variety of topics, and are all things one might be asked by a querent.

The cards

We need a pair of cards at this point. Here they are:

The 4 of Swords and the Magician from the Sigil Arcanum tarot

The cards are from Sigil Arcanum by Taylor Bell, which you can find here if you’re interested.

  • 4 of Swords
    • Jupiter
      • Greater Benefic
      • Peace
      • Religion
      • Generosity
      • Lucky breaks
      • Day sect
    • Libra
      • Cardinal
      • Air
      • Justice (major card)
    • Chesed
  • Magician
    • Major card
    • Mercury
      • Clever
      • Communication
      • Words
      • Magic
      • Calculation
      • No sect
        • Matches what is around it in a chart
    • Four elements
      • Earth
      • Water
      • Air
      • Fire

These are just some of the correspondences the cards bring up. Let’s answer those questions!

How can I improve my career prospects?

Have you been fighting something or someone at work lately? Center yourself and breathe. Take a break – don’t stop working, but stop fighting. When you see an opportunity to give in, take it, so long as it does not weaken your position too much. Use that new time and freed-up energy to do something clever. Find someone to communicate with that you don’t usually loop in and see how you can learn a new skill or manipulate an existing structure to figure things out. The magician is the calm center of the universe, and the 4 of Swords supports this. Look out for opportunities you weren’t expecting. This isn’t about brute forcing it or showing yourself off. It’s about taking advantage of a something new or new-to-you that comes because you stop fighting a battle you can’t win at this time.

How can I meet a person who I can begin a healthy romantic relationship with?

Talk to your prospective partners and dates in calm situations, not rowdy messes. Don’t go to a bar or even a restaurant. Go to a café and spend a few hours actually getting to know each other. Think about what you actually want from a relationship. Get all the hopes and dreams out of your mind, breathe, focus on mindfulness, and then imagine what it is you need and what it would look like to have a relationship that gave you what you need. Be honest. If you’re sort of clingy, accept that you need a person who likes hugs. If you are standoffish, accept that you need somebody who can do their own thing for hours at a time. Go through this carefully. Make a list! When that’s done, go on a date and, very peacefully and happily, find out if this person can do those things. Go on a bunch of dates! Don’t brandish the list at people, but keep it in mind and slowly, gently discover the person, not the image. This process sucks, because everyone thinks they have to portray an image when they’re dating. Take your time.

What should I focus on in my spiritual life?

Meditation. Do imaginal workings in the middle of meditating. Read Jung’s Red Book, or at least a portion of it, and do what he did. Close your eyes, get peaceful, and imagine a door. Then open that door without any expectations. Find out what’s behind it. Examine the scene and the objects or people from all angles. Ask questions. Expect answers, but don’t expect specific answers. Repeat as necessary.

What’s something important in work environment that I haven’t noticed?

You’re probably not networking during down time, and someone else is. Take advantage of lulls in the workday, or in the seasonal calendar, to talk to everyone about any old thing. Learn what makes them tick. Don’t plan to blackmail anybody, or even hold it over their heads formally. But when you know a person, you know the names and the calls for them, and can ask them for help more easily. The process works in reverse, too, so be generous with your time without causing yourself stress. Stop anything that starts to stress you out though. But pay attention to the grapevine while also avoiding getting engaged in malicious gossip. If you never encounter anybody in all the gossip that everyone rags on, it’s you they’re ragging on when they talk to other people. Fix that.

When should I move?

Not right away. Take a breather. Start a calendar and get fussy with it. When does the sale go through? Add a month to that. When are all your deadlines? When does the current landlord want you out? How much would it cost to stay in a hotel for a week? Can you crash on a friend’s couch? Does that friend know you might need to? Get specific, get annoying, and only after that’s all done can you think about actually moving. Possibly September or October, most likely October. If you’re into astrology, look for when Mercury transits into Libra and try to move just before that, right when they’re near the cusp.

And we’re done

You’ll notice I haven’t gone into details about why each reading is the way it is. You can presumably see the obvious patterns, such as the 4 of Swords being associated with meditation and “breathing space.” Take the list above and think through the readings that followed. I want this to be a kind of guided exercise. You know the beginning and end points, so you can think through how to get from one to the other.

Next time, we’ll answer the same questions using the Magician and a randomly drawn card. In this way, we can work through how what the cards say changes when they’re paired up with different cards.

Support this work

If you like this piece and the work that I’m doing here, you can support it through Ko-Fi, Paypal, or Patreon.

You might also consider signing up for my courses! Or book a reading! I perform traditional readings as well as tutorial sessions.

Your support makes the this work possible and I am thankful for your consideration!

Card Combinations

This post builds on this post I wrote for Arnemancy.com about webbing. Given that, the whole post won’t be about doing the webs, but about the ways we can link cards together in a reading. It’s important to be able to connect cards across a spread, or even when the whole thing is a simple pair.

That post I linked is sort of the how-to guide for tarot webs. You can go about this in two ways: you can either link together cards you get in a reading or you can pull cards specially for this exercise. If you do the latter, then you can proceed systematically if you want, or you can shuffle the cards and choose them randomly. I will be using the cards that I get for my daily draw, since I already pull two cards per day.

And those cards are the 9 of Swords and the Queen of Wands. I am now writing the rest of this post on the following day, so I can actually talk about how things worked out.

Here’s the web:

A web of connections between the 9 of Swords and the Queen of Wands

So while there are some images that pop up for each, the connections are strongest around the zodiacal information. The 9 of Swords is associated with the second decan of Gemini, and that decan is ruled by Mars. The Queen of Wands is associated with the second and third decans of Aries, and that sign is ruled by Mars. As a little treat, I put down all the decans, and the “shadow decan” of the Queen is the final decan of Pisces, which is ruled by Mars. The first decan of Aries is also explicitly ruled by Mars, making that decan doubly Martial. So that’s a lot of Pointy Boy, is what I’m saying here. You don’t necessarily look at those cards together and think there’s a lot of Mars stuff happening, but apparently there is!

Now, how’d that go for me? Did I get in any fights? No, not specifically. But I did sleep poorly, both the night before and the night after. And it was a cardio day, so that was a treat to suffer through. My partner is dealing with a foot injury, I was grumpy all day, and I found what looks like half a bird’s worth of feathers in my backyard. This day is the day my partner finally admitted she probably needed to see a physician about the foot. Short term injuries are related to Mars, certainly, especially when there’s swelling involved.

It’s worth looking at where a planet is when you get it a lot in a reading. Mars was in Capricorn at the time, making a square to Chiron in Aries (as well as a trine to Uranus in Taurus). There’s our Aries and Mars energy: a rough square that happens to include the healer centaur as well.

Is a web really necessary to get this information? No. Of course, I did notice things about the pairing that I wouldn’t have because I did the web, so maybe it’s good practice anyway! But really the idea I want you to carry away is about connecting cards and what to do with the connections once you have them.

Another way to connect these cards is through their respective elemental qualities. Fire is hot and dry, while air is hot and moist. At least in some systems, there are a lot, and whether air should be moist or dry is a whole thing and I don’t have strong opinions about it. The thing to keep in mind is that a sword and a wand share an elemental attribute. They are supported by each other, but not strongly supported. So if you got two fire cards together, they add to each other’s heat, so to speak. If you think of it in terms of a fire, wind can spread a fire or kill it, depending on the intensity of the flames. So my sword and wand card will most likely play nicely together, which may not be the greatest thing for me. But it’s possible one could shut the other down. This would be more likely if they were opposed; if I got a wand and a cup, for example, the fire would dry up the water while the water damps the fire. Both cards would be somewhat weakened.

Now consider the web from earlier in the light of this strengthening and debilitating tendency. The cards are  not only slightly strengthened by their partial affinity (hot for hot), but also through their shared Mars correspondence. So this doesn’t just mean I’m getting Mars and no other planetary influence – though that’s true – it also means the two things are going to be connected. So I could get two cards in a day that are about two separate issues. In a larger spread, there’s no necessary reason for any individual pair of cards to be connected. But if they share these connections, as visualized in the web, then you can link them together, even if they aren’t otherwise connected.

Consider the good old Celtic Cross spread. If these two cards fell in the “recent past” and “hopes or fears” positions respectively, we might say that things that just happened in my life were XYZ, and I may fear ABC, but also that they’ll be linked – so what I’m afraid of either just happened, or I was very worried about it happening (that’s the card itself, the 9 of Swords, coming in again of course).

Saying the Quiet Part Loud: Silence in the Tarot

I got a daily draw that I felt was particularly “quiet,” and I got to thinking: which cards are quiet? Which are loud? I thought about it and the 2, 3, and 4 of Swords came to mind, all very quiet. But I sat down with my Waite-Smith deck and made some piles and while some things aren’t so surprising, others were, a bit. Most of the quiet cards are in the Swords! And the rest of the suit isn’t particularly loud. So now I’m wondering what we can do with this information.

Continue reading “Saying the Quiet Part Loud: Silence in the Tarot”

Astro Flash Cards: Tarot Astrology At-a-Glance

I think this one is TheNewAkkount’s fault: in the course of a conversation about getting into astrology, I mentioned that sometimes I use tarot cards to quickly understand planetary placements in the sky. The method is simple: just put together the planet(s) in a sign with the sign, and pull cards for each one. This method obviously uses the Golden Dawn’s attributions, and so your mileage may vary, given that not everyone finds those attributions to be, shall we say, bullet proof? Additionally, once the cards are lying in front of you, you also have to remember that the card meanings aren’t exactly the same as the planetary meanings. It is still helpful though, it’s just not going to immediately teach you everything you need to know about astrology! I wonder if the Sefer Raziel angel knows somebody who does astrology instead?

Continue reading “Astro Flash Cards: Tarot Astrology At-a-Glance”