Archive for March, 2012
The 7 of Cups
- Imagination, fantasy and illusions
Things are detached from reality, you are not seeing things objectively but via a subjective emotional view. You escape reality and enter a alternate world.
- Opportunities and choices
You are faced with many choices, paths to take, options and opportunities which you have difficulty deciding over.
- Wishful thinking
You are not looking at the facts of the matter but rather wishing and hoping for the best.
Giving into your fantasy and living a lie. Illusions become delusions. Giving into temptations. Possible drug abuse as a means to escaping reality.
Messages of the 7 of Cups
Look at things realistically when deciding and making choices. Don’t let your imagination run wild with “what if”. Come down from the clouds and see things for what they really are.
Use your imagination and visions as a means to create what it is you desire.
Be careful of becoming lazy and indulging in pleasurable pastimes as that will hinder your development.
Step into a world where the past has been rewritten and reimagined. Steampunk is a genre, which came into prominence during the 1980’s and 1990’s. It incorporates science fiction and fantasy together to create a world that is simply described as “what the past would have looked like if the future had happened sooner”. Steampunk is normally placed in the Victorian era, where steam engines are widely used. What would tarot look with this wonderful spin on history? Barbara Moore along with artist Aly Fell has manifested this in a well-executed deck that is The Steampunk Tarot.
I am a big fan of Barbara Moore’s work within the tarot field. I recently reviewed her new book Tarot Spreads: Layouts & Techniques to Empower Your Readings and was dying to get my hands on the Steampunk Tarot because this is Barbara’s first deck she has commissioned and just loved the teasers should would post on Facebook. So now that I had the deck in my possession for some time I present here my opinions and thoughts, oh lord where do I start?
Firstly let me start with the artwork. Aly Fell did an excellent job at creating this deck. The artwork was done digitally but you would never suspect it because it looks it was drawn by hand. The colors are soft and subdued with some areas of contrasts colors such as The Hermit’s lantern, which emits electric blue shocks. The reds of The Empress and Justice are rich. The stained glass of the 5 of Pentacles creates a huge contrast against the dark snowing scene, which is welcoming. The black borders are always a huge plus on any deck especially with this deck since it blends well with the overall color tone of the deck. The card stock is standard for what Llewellyn produces, I really would like to see them step their game up and get a thicker cardstock. They are easy to hold in your hands and shuffle. They also fan out nicely on a table, which I like for my cards to be able to do. Some decks can’t fan out. The cards measure approx. 4.5 X 2.5 inches.
Looking at any deck which spins the traditional Waite Smith I look for uniqueness while at the same time being able to recognize the so called traditional meanings or symbols while adding new ones on top of it. Does the Steampunk deliver? Lets see.
Examining the Major Arcana there are cards which standout for their unique spin on the card. Though I cannot talk about all of them here are a few I want to showcase. The High Priestess is portrayed as a fortuneteller; on her table is a crystal ball and tarot cards, a portrayal which seems to be gathering popularity in newer decks. I am mixed with this type of portrayal, on one level it is comical as it feels like a little cameo of the reader themselves inside the cards. On another level it removes the traditional woman on a seat holding a scroll veiled in mystery. In this High Priestess though it retains the air of mystery a High Priestess should have. The grin she gives you makes me unsettled, worried as to what she knows, she knows something and she wishes to tell you. So at the same time the grin invites you to sit down and get a reading. The Empress also shakes tradition by removing the typical garden and nature theme with an Empress that is rawer. This Empress looks like she is in her royal chambers, laying on a luxurious lounge tempting you to join her. With her hand on her belly, it still brings me back to the idea that the Empress represents birth and creation.
The Hierophant retains much of what you expect but plenty of change that makes it fresh. For many this is a tough card to connect with normally because of its link to the church and Christian connotations. However here we have an elder sitting and teaching to two children. There are books to his side, which denote knowledge. The golden keys of Saint Peter appear on the floor between the children. This has to be my favorite Hierophant to date. It removes any theological representation and still holds to the idea of teaching, mentoring, of learning and the passing down of traditions. While other decks give the feeling that the Hierophant is closed minded to one way, this Hierophant makes me feel more free and open to all sorts of ideas.
Strength takes a nice twist. Instead of a woman clamping shut the mouth of a lion here we have a woman taking a cog out of the paw of a lion. This brings to my mind compassion and healing. Helping those in trouble and in pain. Barbara explains more of the symbolism of this change in the companion book as relating to the Jungian “shadow” of our subconscious and extracting the problem larking in the shadow.
The last Major Arcana, which I want to draw focus on, is The Devil, which redefines what we typically expect. This devil is not a supernatural creature or beast but rather a mechanical creation that has grown so large that it has dominated the lives of the humans in the card. Not bounded by chains are these people but rather bounded to serve and care for this monster of metal which demands its. This card brings to my mind how technology as become in some ways a monster which has demanded much of our attention and energy as well as ruling much of our lives.
Exploring now the Minor Arcana I want to reveal cards, which also take a twist to the traditional. In the Wands, two cards pop out at me. The 3 of Wands for its inclusion of the wands themselves as a prop in the scene is a nice change. Rather then the normal placement in the foreground behind a man looking out in the distance. Here the man uses the wands, which also have lanterns hanging from them, as a tripod for a telescope so he may see off into the distance further and more up-close in detail. The 8 of Wands, is also a welcomed change. Here we have a solider firing the wands from a machine. I mainly like the change of perspective where we see where the wands are coming from, instead of them simply being in the air with no context or reference.
In the Cups I like the interpretation of the 3 of Cups and 5 of Cups. In the 3 of Cups we have as Barbara describes, three women, however the middle figure looks like a man to me. In my eyes it is a man with two women, which really can take this card into another level. We are in a house, people are drinking getting wasted and having a good time. From my view of it being one man and two girls, is that this card becomes more sexually charged then a traditional 3 of Cups. This can have many meanings, among them the normal love triangle. There is a lot to ponder about in this card and no 3 of cups has made me really ponder.
In the Swords, I would like to point out the 3 of Swords and 6 of Swords. In this 3 of Swords we have a broken mechanical heart jammed with 3 swords. I like this take on the 3 of Swords; it is familiar but at the same time brings new meanings. For me looking at this image brings to mind what happens when our minds come into conflict with our emotions. Things get jammed up and breakdown. There is a feeling of being stuck on something and not being able to move passed a certain issue, which lingers on the mind and heart. The 6 of Swords, takes up high into the air on a fast moving balloon airship which I really like stead of the gloom and doom of the boat ride across the water. Here we have an image, which still rings true to traditional meanings but expresses it in a new image.
Lastly the Pentacles, in this suit the 4 and 8 of Pentacles are two cards, which stand out. In the 4 of Pentacles we have a rich woman’s hand coming in from the side with a golden coin that is being handed over to a another hand, which is mechanical that takes the coin and locks it away in the box it is attached it. Right away I think of saving which is something the 4 of Pentacles represents, the presentation is nicely done. The 8 of Pentacles stays very true to tradition but the perspective in which we see the image is changed, we are looking at a downward angle and each of the pentacles is crafted differently as opposed to being the same as in other decks.
A quick word on the court cards, out of all of them my favorite is the Queen of Swords. That is one Queen you don’t want to F**** with. She holds a sword to her side, as if to hide it from the person she is greeting. At any moment she may attack, with her mind of course. It appears she is one smart woman with lots of life experience. The Knights however are lacking horses, which are really disappointing; I would have liked to see horses with the knights. Keeping with the Steampunk theme they could have mechanical horses.
The companion book to the deck, which Barbara wrote, is fantastic. Because this deck is of her creation the book is the key into her mind to understand what she wants to express in each of the cards. The book is almost 300 pages in length so it is not a Little White Book, it is a companion book worthy to be read cover to cover. It covers the basics at the beginning, discusses the cards in detail and at the end provides you with some spreads.
In closing I want to say a few things about the deck. Barbara commented in her companion book about wither or not the Steampunk tarot is just a novelty deck or something more useful for tarot readers. It is my opinion that this is not a novelty deck at all. I think this deck will fill the needs of readers who feel there is something missing in a deck. For myself, this deck fills the need for something on the modern/contemporary side while at the same time making it removed enough from our modern life that were if it did not we would not find it special in any way. Which is the problem I think contemporary decks have, they are too close to our frame of reference it does not take us out of the world we live in. Tarot should take us out of our world and common mindset. The Steampunk does both, it updates the traditional Rider Waite images, which many people feel is outdated and makes it feel adventurous because it is based in the alternate world of Steampunk.
A star, cross, circle, square or triangle spreads comes in many shapes and sizes. The spread is the corner stone to a tarot reading, it is that very thing that makes the reading possible. Even laying out just one card is a spread, a one card spread but a spread non the less. There are numerous books that are devoted to the subject of spreads, listing spread after spread out of countless spreads. Some spreads are classic, some are created at the time of the reading, and they all can be edited, modified by each reader to suit their needs and the needs of the client when needed. Spreads are magical in that they can be created out of inspiration from anything. Seriously, anything. I saw a spread that was inspired by the cast of the Comedy Central tv show South Park. A spread can make or break the reading. A poorly designed spread could create a horrible reading as compared to a properly created spread which will allow the reading to flow with ease.
Spreads have been a issue I have contemplated over since I first picked up my cards. I went to the LWB and saw that there was something called a “celtic cross” spread. So I tried it and had no clue what I was looking at or what I was reading. what the heck does “that which is crossing you” mean?? Someone please explain? It was not till later I found out “crossing” means something which is opposing you. I wish someone would have explained that in the first place. Later on I saw other spreads like the Star Spread, the Horseshoe spread or the horoscope spread. At one point i had a collection of spreads that I printed out. But over time I found that I liked it best to create custom spreads for each client and their unique question & situation. I did that for a long time and a few years ago I shifted once more, focusing on 3 card spreads only. Using three cards fit well into my philosophy of Keeping it Simple.
I never liked putting spreads into shapes. So I would just put them in a straight line. What the heck is the point to a star or circle?? Pointless in my opinion. However lately I have been having to question my beliefs, I have been reevaluating my of my opinions for my book I am writing. Spreads have been something I had to question. I was hoping someone who write a book that would make a case for the purpose of spreads, the purpose of the shapes and give me some reason to change my mind. Give me a reason why I am wrong, show me the alternate way.
Enter “Tarot Spreads” by Barbara Moore.
Barbara does an excellent job in her latest creation. Tarot Spreads is a fantastic addition to the subject of Tarot Spreads. This book has given a lot for me to think about, it has caused the gears and cogs in my brain to turn. I can happily say that my position on spreads has been influenced and I am rethinking the subject.
Barbara says “Tarot Cards are like the subconscious mind, full of inspiration and wisdom that we didn’t know we knew. Tarot Spreads are like the conscious mind. They help organize all that glorious raw data triggered by the cards so that we can interpret it and apply it properly to the situation in question”. Which is a perfect analogy and really defines the role and purpose of the spread. It organizes the information presented by the cards in clear defined positions.
Barbara describes why the layout of the spread is important, which is something I wanted to hear. Ok Barbara what is it? Well she states that you need to think about art and graphic design and the psychology used in designs. Everything is designed with purpose. How people read either right to left or left to right. We see time as moving from Left to Right and so forth. So for example a linear line in a spread suggests time and events in a chronological order. Like the Past Present Future spread.
Barbara goes on to explain the “design principles” which is great. Here she talks about the characteristics of spreads, such as Balance, Symmetry and Spacing and others explaining their implications and influence of the spread. Ok so far she has me thinking and I am liking what I am reading.
No spread is the “end-all, be-all” as Barbara says, each spread has it’s strengths and weakness. I really liked it when Barbara talks about our assumptions, that all spreads make assumptions about that question and about the answer and she give examples of this. This gives all of us some food for thought next time we use a spread or create a spread for someone.
Barbara stresses in her book that your personal style and beliefs are what are most important when it comes to the reading and the choice of spreads. Do you believe that the future can be known? If you don’t you would not use a spread with an “outcome card” or edited a spread that has it to not include it. So you can pick up this book and will not have preaching you dogma on how you should read or what spreads you must use, rather gives you the tools to create your own or modify existing spreads.
This is not a Spread Bible or Encyclopedia on Spread, however it does have over 60 spreads which is just enough, there should be a spread for almost any situation in here for you and your clients. Yes there are other book that have more spreads but it is not quantity but rather quality which is the focus of this book. This book is better than most of the other spread books on the market. Because Barbara presents the information in a manner, much like if you were going to take a workshop on spreads where you have Barbara in front of you teaching why spreads are important, the inner workings of spreads and their purpose. Not simply throwing a bunch of spreads together and leave you to fend for yourself as is the case with most books on spreads. This is exactly what I have been looking for!
I compared Barbara’s book to other books which deal with spreads. Eight books to be exact. What I have noticed in most of the books on spreads is that it is just a collection of spreads or it is a book with a large amount of spreads in addition to quick card meanings. Other books give spreads which sample readings using the spreads. Only one book is geared towards trying to teach spreads but in my opinion it was formulated and constructed poorly so it is not user friendly. Barbara’s book really stands out as unique to the rest, there is only one other book that I own which comes close to being a true competitor, so we are looking at here a book which is above the rest in the spread category.
But this book goes beyond just listing spreads and explaining them, there is a chapter called “techniques to add to any spread”, which are little techniques to add to your readings to spice things up. Barbara also guides you through creating your own spreads. This section is not overly complicated as you might think. Barbara says that a spread can be created via inspiration in many different things like pulling out a card from your deck and creating spread from it, like The Wheel of Fortune spread. At the end she shares with us how to do a “78 card reading” which is very ambitious and I don’t think I will ever try it, but it is always good to know it is there.
There are somethings which are not in this book. There are no sample readings. You will be presented with the spreads but no follow up samples to see the spread in action. I am not sure if that is a bad thing, that is up to you. It would have been a nice addition but not having sample readings is not a huge deal in my opinion. Just be aware there are none.
There is something which I was hoping that would be in this book that is not, which is the subject of when “bad cards” appear in good positions in a spread and vice versa. This is something which I think stumps many readers. What I mean by this is , if a spread has a position called “What is good in the relationship” and The Devil comes up, how the heck is that suppose to be read? And vice versus. If you have a spread with “What is bad in the relationship” and you get The Sun how should this be viewed. I was hoping there might be tips and suggestions to deal with this issue however there is not. Maybe down the line Barbara could address this issue in a later edition to the book.
When I read a book I want to feel like the author is conversing with me as if we were face to face and I swear at one point I thought she wrote one passage just for me! The passage goes like this “there are ways to incorporate two or more decks into a reading… Do you have several versions of a favorite deck? (YES I do)… Some artists produce and sell a special edition of their deck and then a publisher will release a mass market edition.. (Yep I do, Legacy of The Divine Special edition and Mass market).. or perhaps you have a traditional RWS deck as well as one of the many variations, such as Radiant or universal. Guilty as charged, I have 17 RWS. I laughed while reading this passage.. It was a real pleasure to read this book. Barbara’s writing style was very inviting and I read it all in one day, which I normally don’t do with books. I was able to try one of the spreads listed for another fellow reader with good results.
In conclusion, Tarot Spreads by Barbara Moore is a breath of fresh air on the subject of spreads. It is a unique addition to the tarot market and will be a great addition to your tarot practice. I can honestly say that this book has giving me much to think about and I know the more I study it and apply it to my practice it will help make me a better reader. This book should be picked up by new readers in addition to a normal book on learning tarot cards meanings and basics for a well rounded introduction to tarot. Even if you have been reading tarot for years, this book can make you a better reader.