Archive for April, 2012
This weekend was different from all other weekends out of the year. Readers Studio’12, tarot conference was in town. Organized by the Amberstones of The Tarot School (NYC), Readers Studio is the place to be to meet tarot people, talk tarot and learn about tarot. 2012 is a special year for Readers Studio, it is it’s 10th anniversary, and I am crashing the party!
I wanted to attend the event this year but was unable to; instead I planned on “crashing” the event. I am going to try and recollect the events that transpired to the best of my ability. So I visit Readers Studio 3 nights in a row, on Thursday,Friday and Saturday night. I live about 25 minutes or so away from where Readers Studio was so I was able to visit. I was so happy that I did, the experience was so touching and great. I was able to meet face-to-face many of the prominent names in Tarot. Upon my arrival the first person I spotted in the lobby was James Ricklef. I joined James at a lobby table with Alec Satin and other readers. Alec and I had a nice conversation. Thalassa Therese showed in the lobby and I greeted her. We hit it off right from the start, which I knew would happen. Thalassa has such a great personality and lovableness you cannot resist. We took some funny photos together.
A little later my Tarot Thug mother Therese Reed aka The Tarot Lady along with her daughter Megan found me and we went on the search together for my other mother, Donnaleigh de laRose who was missing in action someplace with Mary Greer lol
Once we found Donnaleigh I ran into her arms for a hug. We all ended up in the hotel bar at a table with other readers, Chanah Liora Wizenberg was among them. We ate dinner, talked tarot, took photos and Donnaleigh was doing readings for Megan. It was all so surreal being there with my tarot peeps. To be able to meet them was all so surreal. Even thought this is the first time I am meeting Theresa and Donnaleigh I feel like I have meet them before, as if I knew them my whole life.
Through the night I meet some more people. I had a checklist of people I needed to meet lol I was able to meet more men of tarot, Mike Hernandez, Ciro Marchetti, Robert Place and Dan Pelletier. After dinner I got to meet my “stalker” Nancy Schultz and my new buddy Toni Brooks.
Back into the lobby I found Ferol Humphrey who is such a sweet woman I felt a connection to her quickly. She is very open and kind. Then I spotted Tarot Diva Sasha Graham and had a few words with her. Then whom did I see next? The ravishing Barbara Moore! Dressed in a beautiful green dress, I just had to twirl her around just a little. By the end of the night midnight I went home.
Friday, night 2 I got back to R.S at around 9:30 and stayed until 2:30 into the morning. I got into the lobby looking for a familiar face; I was greeted by RoseRed Robinson who recognized me as that “tarosophist” guy! That was one thing that made my night, thanks Rose! I spent a little bit with her. I dropped off three decks I no longer wanted at the free deck and book table. I got to see Donnaleigh again, she brought me my Gilded Royale Tarot which I was dying to get my hands on. That deck is simply stunning in it’s quality, I am sacred to shuffle it because it is just so stunning. More people started showing up in the lobby, Ciro Marchetti and Robert Place joined Donnaleigh and me in the lobby and we spent some time in a deep conversation on tarot, history and religion that was amazing. It was so amazing to be able to converse with one of the smartest men in tarot!
Later on I met Doug Reuschel and Oliver Puzon. James Ricklef showed up again and was hanging with us. Then I saw James Wells. So at one point there was large group of us in the lobby just hanging and talking. I got to see my long Island tarot mother, Stacey laRosa. Then all of a sudden who do I see coming up, non other than Mary K. Greer! I walked up introduced myself and gave her a hug. It was so wonderful to meet Mary. I was still waiting to see Rachel Pollack and finally I saw her come in with other people and I said hello and gave her a hug as well. It was a great pleasure to have met both Mary and Rachel. Two tarot legends and idols right there with me was amazing. They are so humble and so approachable; I felt very comfortable with them. I spent more time with Ferol and she showed me a spread she uses which I will have to try.
The night was getting late and I was about to leave but I popped into one of the rooms where the free deck and book trade was and I found a group of readers at a table. I spent the rest of the night here. I made some new friends; one of them was Rana George who is my new favorite person! She speaks faster than me and I was shocked. Normally I am the one who speaks the fastest. I have finally met my match. Toni Brooks was there along with other great people. I was not sure what the conversation was about, I knew it was heavy and deep but I was a little lost lol It was getting late and I was tiered, I had a blast with them and finally I had to leave.
Saturday night I returned once more, I did not plan on coming back a third time but I could not stay away! I spent the whole night at the bar hanging out with Donnaleigh, Theresa, Barbara and many others. Barbara had with her a very special device called The Prognosticator. A steampunk fortunetelling device, a one of a kind in fact made just for her! Oh how I wanted to sneak off with it 7 of Swords style lol Stacey LaRosa finally made her way into the bar where me and her spent some time together talking and looking at the new Gilded Royale tarot and comparing it to the older version. As we were doing that who shows up next to us? Ciro Marchetti, perfect timing Ciro! We spoke to him about the cards and some of the changes with him. I finally got to meet Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone in this finale visit to RS. Which was a real nice treat. I had to meet the hosts of the Readers Studio, how could I not! The treats did not end, it turned out that Valerie Sylvester who I was sitting with me had a tarot deck which I want so much. She had a deck in a pouch and I asked, which deck did she have. I learned that this question can lead to some exciting results. Val had an The Illuminated Tarot by Carol Herzer. I am a Rider Waite Smith junkie and this deck was giving me an overdose! I did 2 quick readings and posed for a picture with the cards lol. As the night came to end, I left parting ways from my tarot peeps saying good night and safe journey home to them all.
Overall it was simply amazing to meet everyone, even though I did not attend any classes as an official guest of the event I enjoyed visiting. To be with like-minded people was a welcome change. To converse with those I consider to be mentors and idols was a very special experience. I will never forget these three nights. I feel more closely connected to the tarot community now and have more to reflect on in terms of my own place and role in everything.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 4 is down to the top three, a queen will be crowned soon. This season’s top 3 is an amazingly talented group, however only one will win, who will have to sashay away? Let us see what the cards have to say.
The top 3 consists of Chad Michaels,Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O’Hara
I pulled three cards, one for each.
Chad Michaels – Strength /// Sharon Needles – Justice /// Phi Phi O’Hara – King of Cups
Interesting cards, I could not see a clear winner in this cards right off the bat, however I did see that Phi Phi would be eliminated and that would leave Chad and Sharon as the top 2. But which of these two would win? So I pulled clarification cards on all three to really make it more clear.
My feelings about Phi Phi were validated with the 8 of Swords. Which leaves us again with Chad and Sharon. Looking at the 4 of Pentacles combined with Strength it gives me a feeling that Chad is being blocked or held back in a way. Sharon’s cards Justice and Knight of Wands gives me the sense that Justice is referring to a fair and just verdict / decision being made. Knight of Wands adds a feeling of energy, starting up and new adventures which makes me feel confident in her.
Prediction – Sharon Needles will be crowned America’s Next Drag SuperStar.
Gasp! Death, The Devil, The Tower…. OMG The 9 of Swords and gosh the 10 of Swords! What horror are the so called “bad cards” of the tarot. Normally these cards make some readers uneasy and the clients on the other side of the table a little on edge. Who wouldn’t? These cards are bold, in your face, they represent the things in life we rather avoid and not deal with. Death, change, addictions, anxiety, worry, downfall and all sorts of nasties. However it is these “bad” cards which are more easy to understand and relate to at least for myself.
In my opinion people experience more pain than pleasure in life. We are always seeking happiness and pleasure because we are in a state of pain or at the least discomfort. The Buddha said life is “dukkha” which often translates as “suffering”. However “dukkha” can mean many things and suffering is just one possible meaning. But at the core life is challenging, it is in flux, going up and down. It is the times of pain and trauma I feel which have the largest impact on us. A silly example would be Batman, Bruce Wayne would never have become Batman if his parents would never killed. So it is the tough cards in the tarot which seem to be more real to me, easier to connect with and understand. Take the 9 of Swords, this is the anxiety/stress card. The Anxiety Disorders Association of American says that “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).”
Women are twice as likely to be affected from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Post traumatic Stress Disorder. So seeing a woman in the 9 of Swords makes a lot of sense. If you look at the troubling swords (6,8,9) there are woman in them which may signify a anxiety issue or another psychological problem. So as I said 40 million adults are affected, children are also affected by anxiety, “About 13 out of every 100 children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 experiencing some kind of anxiety disorder, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder.”
Because of the high levels of anxiety that people experience it makes the 9 of Swords so relatable. It is so easy to understand that card and feel the pain of the woman in the card.
Backtracking a little into the Major Arcana, Death is a card which I like because like I said it is clear, death means something is ending. Done over and finished. Death is a name that everyone understands because it is the ultimate fate of us all [shudder] and for that reason we connect to the concept so very easy. Everyone comes into contact with death sooner or later. I came into contact early with death with grandparents and my own father. I understand what death was at a early age (about 6 or 7). Over 150,000 people die every day.
The Devil well this is a card many people think they know based off the title but they will be wrong, this card has nothing to do with the Biblical devil. When I look at this card I see bondage and attachments such as addictions (of many kinds). You can look at the Devil as drug and alcohol abuse. There are countless people who are addicted to drugs both legal and illegal. There are adults alcoholics and in teenagers there is binge drinking. Addictions come in other fashions like material attachments to shopping (like myself) or attachment to someone in a bad relationship. So again we see here that the concepts of The Devil are almost universal to everyone and easy to understand and relate to.
The Tower is yet another so called “bad” card which is so easy to relate to. This is the card which signals that things are going to fall apart. Things will change and not as you expect. Things are sudden out of the blue that rock your world and pull the rug out from under your feet. We all experienced this. Our current economic crisis would be a perfect example of The Tower. People purchased homes with mortgages that really could not afford which lead to large scale forecloses. To get an idea how large of a problem this is you can compare the foreclosure rates of 2000 which was 470,000 to 2011 which was 3,920,418.
The 5 of Pentacles can come in here as well and related to this to. We can look at natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina which killed At least 1,836 people and the total property damage was estimated at $81 billion. On the small scale we can relate to the Tower when we get a flat tier, the roof starts leaking, the boiler breaks and your computer hard drive crashes. Sudden out of the blue problems which just ruin things. We all experience things like that.
In the end what I want to stress is that life is filled with many experiences, good and bad. As tarot readers we need to be realistic and live on earth where shit happens. Pain is real, my pain your pain your client’s pain. It is alive and real. We cannot have our heads in the clouds and makes all the cards chocolate covered bunnies. We need to understand the realities people go through, the drama, pain, suffering and valid it. If we ignore it exist will not make it simply go away and it does not help the client. As tarot readers we however can redirect the energy of the client into a path that can solve the issue and bring change. I would also like to say that yes, the cards have many interpretations and they don’t always go to such extremes like the ones I pointed out, I am just making a point.
Inscribed on top of the Oracle of Delphi’s temple are two sayings. The first the most well known and most quoted, γνῶθι σεαυτόν, translated as “Know thy self”. Know thy self? What does this mean? The saying has taken a life of its own through incorrect interpretations because the context of the saying is taken away. Most people think the saying implies self introspection and reflection into ones self, identity and coming to an understanding of who we are. I call this the new age view of “know thy self”.
To understand the orignal Greek meaning we need to examine the next phrase because there is more than the “know thy self”. The second part, μηδέν άγαν translates as “nothing in excess”. So what does “know thy self’ & “nothing in excess” mean? What do they both mean together?
Know thy self and nothing excess is not spiritual advice to make you a better person it is a lesson or warning to people to not be hubris. In other words, don’t be arrogant and overestimate yourself. It was to remind people that you are mortal and that you have a certain place in the order of things. Know thy self means know that you are human, know your limitations and know your place. Nothing in excess simply reminds people not to indulge yourself, because if you indulge yourself with too much of anything it can lead to hubris.
With Tarot we can make sure we “stay in line” as not to offend the gods. Take your deck and ask
1) How do I boast/overestimate myself?
2) In what do I indulge in the most?
What is Tarot is much like asking what is meaning of life. Everyone has an opinion but no one is really correct. It is open to endless hours of debate, theory, philosophy and the like. We could talk about it’s historical history or talk about its mythos. We can speak of its countless connections to spiritual attributions in astrology, numerology, Kabbalah, alchemy, hermetism and magick. Things things however are not what tarot is. It is justa few parts of the whole picture. Tarot is much more than the sum of it’s parts.
If you asked “what is tarot?” my simple response would be, Tarot is a divinatory system of 78 cards. These 78 cards hold within the wide rainbow of human experiences and expressions via archetypes and symbols. They are used however you like, with the endless list of possibilities, the tarot is open to your imagination. Tarot is not made of magick, but the experience of tarot is. Everything else is commentary.
“The journey of tarot continues on, Rachel Pollack presents tarot in a simple and direct manner in the style of Eden Grey, that proves there is always more to learn”
Tarot author, teacher and all-round legend best known for her “78 Degrees of Wisdom” has written a new book, “The New Tarot Handbook”. I was very excited when I saw that this book was an upcoming release, anything that Rachel writes is simply worth reading. I was looking forward in seeing what The New Tarot Handbook had to offer. What more is there to be said? If you have read 78 Degrees of Wisdom or her 2008 release, “Tarot Wisdom” you may think the same thing. To be honest I had some concern as to what was going to be presented. Was it simply going to be another 78 Degrees, reworded in a different fashion with a few updates? Or will be refreshing offering new insights? Let us explore and find out.
To start the book is in total 280 pages long and is grouped in six chapters. Listed as Introduction, The Major Arcana, The Minor Arcana, The Court Cards, Readings and Further Study.
In the introduction Rachel explains her background in how she came across tarot. Rachel speaks about the influence that Eden Grey author of Tarot Revealed impacted her and on modern tarot reading. This is a very nice homage to Eden as Rachel also describes The New Tarot Handbook as restoring the Eden Grey tradition by saying “I like to think that this book revives Eden Grey’s tradition – a work that is short, direct, yet hopefully is backed up by deeper knowledge and awareness”. This statement gives us our structure and intention of this book. A book that is simple, easy to read, that is backed by real knowledge and solid understanding that people can grasp onto. After reading most of the book I can say that Rachel had done exactly what it was she was hoping for. The New Tarot Handbook is short, direct and easy to understanding. Now to say short I do not mean short in content, there is plenty of solid background on the cards, explanations of symbols and meaning.
To give a brief description of how this is setup, there is a Waite-Smith image of the card, in this case The Empress. Below that are a few keywords to generalize the essence of the card, for The Empress it is “passion, love, motherhood, abundance”. Below that is Rachel’s spiel about the card. After that you will see divinatory meanings and reversed meanings in the style of Eden Grey’s Tarot Revealed. After each card is a “reading for” the card, a spread customized for each card.
As for what is presented in the actual description and explanations of the cards in the words of Goldilocks “Ahhh, this porridge is just right” so to is the amount of information just right. In 78 Degrees of Wisdom and so to in Tarot Wisdom there is a sense of information overload, that there is a lot to soak up. This is not the case here, where you are given the right balance of knowledge needed without feeling like a deer caught in headlights. The writing is casual and easier going than previous writings. But by all means this is not dummied down tarot, a good way to describe it is as Diet Tarot Wisdom or 78 Degrees of Wisdom Lite, still has that refreshing taste with no calories! The New Tarot Handbook provides new insights along with already established ones, so readers of Rachels others books will find out there is more to learn.
The flow of the book is smooth; Rachel shows how cards are interrelated to one another, building up from previous cards and showing the development and growth from one to the other. This is a very important thing for tarot readers to understand, how cards are connected to each other and how that impacts the meaning. In the example of The Empress she does this by showing the connection via pairs, the Magician and Empress, High Priestess and Empress and Emperor with Empress.
I love to read about the mythologies in the cards, with The Empress we are taught the association with two goddess, Venus/Aphrodite and Demeter, then going further explain the myth of Persephone’s kidnapping by Hades. I would like to make a quick side note that Rachel says Hades is the god of death; in actuality he is the god of the underworld, not death himself. Death is represented by another figure, that of “Thanatos” who is the personification of death. But Rachel was making a point with associating Hades with death in that in the end Demeter gets her daughter back from “death”, revealing a lesson that you should never underestimate a mother.
Moving onto the Minor Arcana Rachel explains the suits in terms of their elemental qualities and explains the numerological meanings of each number, the foundations that all readers should have. The minors are setup just like the Majors with the removal of the keywords under the card instead replacing it with the Element & Theme of the card. The minor are at times linked to the majors to give you a sense of deeper connection, while some cards like the 2 of Swords simply states it “links her to the High Priestess”, without any other explanation of that that connection.
Towards the end in the section of “Readings” Rachel explains the reading process and goes with the “do as you will” mentality throwing to the wind the notion that you have to follow certain ritualistic “rules”. She also lists several complex free spreads.
In conclusion The New Tarot Handbook was a wonderful read. Rachel’s aim at writing a book that was simple and direct to the point was achieved. Who would is this book good for? Anyone really, however I would recommended it to a new reader who is looking for a deeper awareness to the cards meaning, mythology and symbolism without feeling lost in the esoteric translation.
“A workbook which builds strong tarot foundations in 78 knowledge packed days”
- Angelo Nasios
All aboard! You are going on a journey around the tarot in 78 days with authors Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin. All you need is your tarot deck, Around The Tarot in 78 Days is tarot workbook which explores the cards. in you guessed it, 78 days I am normally not a fan of tarot workbooks, however when I heard about “ATTI78D” I was automatically excited. After reading and reviewing Marcus’ previous work “Tarosophy: Tarot to Engage Your Life Not to Escape it” I knew this workbook would be different, unique and useful. I was right!
The book is designed to be read one card per day, each day has a lesson attached to it. The lessons are designed to give a new reader a well rounded introduction to tarot. The lessons are not just for newbies but intermediate readers will also learn from this workbook. Along your journey spreads, methods and techniques fill the pages so the learning never stops. In addition to the normal lessons there are “wayside lessons” which are optional lessons for intermediate readers. Which provide useful information everyone should know. With this said, let us explore the layout/structure of the book.
Marcus and Tali do a wonderful job in the “Let’s Get Started” section. It is in-depth and provides a lot. In this section the tarot foundations are laid out for you. I like how the cards are explained in the context of the theme of the book, Majors are “The Landmark Cards”, which allow us to get our bearings. Minors are “The Signpost Cards”, which illustrate all human activity. Court cards are “The Direction Cards”, which represent forces at play in the universe through people or events. Further more within the Majors there are “Pitstop Points”, which include Change Cards, Teaching Cards, Challenge Cards, Opportunity Cards, initiation Cards and Stop Cards. The inclusion of these pitstop points is a great thing as it places the majors into certain groups of a general meaning which is very useful in a reading when you notice a pattern developing.
It is also in this section the order of the cards is explained, most books list the cards in number sequence, from Fool to The World then Ace through King with each of the suits. The order here is based on what Marcus and Tali say is by the soul’s journey through the Tree of Life.
Moving deeper into this section you will find yourself learning about the Keyword Kaleidoscope, a method of reconcile different card meanings. We all have been in that position where we seen different sources saying something different about a card. This method uses these meanings to create new meanings. At first I was a little confused about how this technique worked but after putting it into practice I was amazed at how cool and helpful it was! It is definitely unique and probably the number one thing I can walk away with learning. When you read about The Keyword Kaleidoscope I am sure you will be in agreement. There are additional methods included after the Keyword Kaleidoscope that aims to give you new approaches to using the cards.
With all that said it is time to move on into the core of the book, the cards and lessons. Each of the cards come along with side bits of additional info. Ways of connecting with the cards through affirmations, meditations, numerological equivalent and astrological correspondences, elemental quality and the Kabbalastic placement in the Tree of Life. The cards are then related to aspects in our life like work, relationship, health and the like so this book can also be used as a reference for when you reading the cards.
There are certain lessons which I personally liked. On day 15 you learn about the 9 of Wands. The lesson on this day is looking at the four levels of reading a tarot card. Day 20, the 8 of Swords the lesson is about using Astrological Correspondences. There are a few days you do one card narratives and my favorite was Day 28, 7 of Cups which was a fun exercise. Day 31, The Wheel of Fortune the lesson is narrative in time, where you learn how changing which tense you place the card can change your perspective. Being a big fan of 3 card readings, on day 36, Justice, you practice doing a 3 card reading answering a question presented to you. Love that one. Along in the lessons you are shown different spreads, spreads are not relegated to one section of the book, they are spread throughout it. One day 38, The Emperor you learn the Dawn Spread which is a useful daily spread. Another spread which really sparked my interest was the Discover Your Demon Spread, on day 45 learning about the 5 of Swords. You will also learn about “Opening of the Key Method” on day 59, The Empress. A card counting method created by the Golden Dawn in 1888. As I mentioned before there are wayside lessons, a few of these wayside lessons deal with numerology, the astrological deacons and elemental dignities.
Are all the lessons game changers are amazingly unique? No, I did not expect that, what I did expect though was lessons that could be used by everyone on any place of the tarot reading spectrum. There are basic lessons and there are more advance lessons. There is little negative to be said about the book, since this is a workbook with lessons you are in the end left to apply what you learn yourself. Not all the lessons are applied to all the cards through out the book. Which you can’t expect because then it would be the never ending tarot book lol. There was one little thing I noticed which was the title change of The Wheel of Fortune, called simply The Wheel and The Tower which is called The Blasted Tower. I assume that is how the cards are called over in England, our authors are British after all. So I can’t really complain about that because that is a linguistic issue and also these are the much older titles of the cards. The publisher is however based in the USA so I am surprised the titles were not changed because of the main market which the book will be sold in. The only reason I bring this up is it might cause a slight confusion to a new reader.
All in all, Marcus and Tali hit the ball out of the park with this book. Around the Tarot in 78 Days is a excellent workbook that any reader can use. The book holds within it a great collection of knowledge that only Marcus and Tali could have presented with such ease and grace. I recommend it to new readers as it will give them a strong foundation in tarot which will give them the proper tools and knowledge needed. The book is also good for veterans of tarot because there is always something new to learn.
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3 of Pentacles
- Team work, cooperation, collaboration, directing, direction, giving instruction, compromise
You are in a team working towards a common goal. You may either be the one giving the directions or taking them. Either case it is important to compromise and find the middle ground.
-Building foundations, growth, expansion
Growth is at the heart of this card, 3 is The Empress the card of birth and creativity. The 3 of Pentacles reveals tangible growth and expansion of ideas and projects.
- Work, change in experiences, skills, knowledge, know-how
If looking for work you shall find it. The 3 of Pentacles can indicate changes in experiences regarding to work, perhaps a new type of job. The 3 of Pentacles has a certain level of know-how and skills to get what it is need to be done.
Lack of ethics at work, refusing to take responsibility for what you produce, desire for fame and recognition.
Examine what needs to be synthesized together. What may seem to be opposites and incompatible may be a benefit.
criticism Ask yourself, how open are you to taking direction and constructive?
Teamwork and working together will produce good results.