Thursday, 31 December 2015

Tarot readings for New Year

Happy New Year! 

May your year be full of happiness, love and prosperity.

What would be a better time to set intentions and start manifesting than the turn of the year?

To be honest, I'm a newbie in this manifesting business and I've been a hardcore sceptic about the whole concept. However, the more I read about the nature of reality (quantum physics, neuroscience and different philosophical takes included), the more I start to - if not 100% believe, at least suspect, that thoughts affect our lives much more than previously acknowledged. So why not imagine and visualise the best possible outcome - the effect can only be positive or neutral, after all.

To know where you want to get, you most often need to learn where you've been and where you're at right now. Another important aspect is knowing why a particular goal is important to you. After all, people want to be in a relationship, change jobs etc. for a myriad of different reasons and no life path is the same for two persons. So, let's explore.

This blog is about sharing knowledge but also recording my own thoughts, practice and progress, so it's quite natural to share readings here to show what interpretations cards can get.

Here are a couple of very handy and topical spreads for the New Year...

The Bridge from the Little Red Tarot - where have you come from and where are you heading. Lay the cards horizontally in a semi-arch to form a bridge, the highest point being card #4.

1. What you have left behind; KING OF SWORDS. This King is the embodiment of rational, logical, analytical thinking, and a "thought authority", such as a work supervisor in a very mental field. I work in a legal/engineering/commercial field and this card often comes up relating to my job. Personally, it also means that I've left behind the mindset that only relies on conventional natural sciences: the measurable and verifiable. I'm moving towards a more intuition- and experience-based world view that also acknowledges the value of emotions and unverifiable: the mystic side of life.

2. The hardest lesson you learned: 3 WANDS. This card traditionally means planning for the future, but I've come to realise it also means: being able to be fully oneself. It's the moment when plans align with passions - things start to fall in place because you believed in your vision and were willing to take a chance to make it happen. I've left behind my home country, my family and relatives, my established social circles and a career along with my native tongue, culture and (ex-)husband in order to find the true me. And now I've successfully arrived - into myself, at the other side of the world.

3. Something that helped you: 8 WANDS. This card is about fast-paced communication, action, swift movement, travel and internet. Yes, all of those helped me. It's now easy to keep in touch with the loved ones via technology, and I also love chatting and blogging. I travel as much as I can, also to my home country, and in general I love fast-paced action and newness. Thank you for your help, 8 Wands!

4. The high point – where you are right now, looking back and looking forward: 3 CUPS. Friendships, close connections, gettogethers, reunions, loving the company you have and having fun. Yes, my life feels now fulfilling in terms of social life and even though I've left behind some loved ones, I've gained a lot of new friends and also online connections - I frequent at the Aeclectic Tarot forum for the interesting, intelligent people who interact there.

5. The next step: QUEEN OF WANDS. This Queen is all about fire, energy, passion and drive. She's fun-loving, enthusiastic, inspiring and creative go-getter. Queens in general mean the energy of the suit turned inward, experienced internally: Queen of Wands deals with her emotions in the field of passion and creativity. Kings in turn are mentors, authorities, leaders of others, and expand and empower the energy of the suit in others. However, the Queen of Wands is also an inspirer. I'm more than happy to see her pop up - and me becoming her, my favourite Queen!

6. Something that will help you: KNIGHT OF PENTACLES. Hard work, slow approach, willingness to complete a task after task, being dutiful and loyal. So clearly I don't get to be the Queen just like that, there's some tedious, slow work ahead. Maybe it's about this blog: Rome was not built in a day and neither is a successful, popular teaching tool. This Knight is a reminder to stay patient, bow your head and just keep ploughing it.

7. Your destination: the new shore: 6 WANDS. Well well well, that's what the doctor ordered. The card of success, celebration, acknowledgement, recognition, acclaim. I don't know in which area of life I'll prove to be popular and successful, but I'd take this card in any area, s'il vous plait. Maybe it's my tarot readings, maybe it's something else, but this is probably one of the most welcome cards for a New Year's reading. Great to end on a high note!

A similar spread can also be used for setting intentions for the coming year.

Lay the cards like you'd do for the Bridge, but the positions in this spread are:

1. Where are you now?

2. What should you leave behind to achieve the goal?

3. What is the most important element for you in this goal (a lesson to learn, an emotion you want to feel etc. to pinpoint, why this particular goal is important to you)

4. The best advice regarding this goal?

5. Help available for you to achieve the goal? (can be internal or external resource).

6. Your special strength/skill to achieve this goal?

7. Where you'll be by the end of the year regarding the goal?

Best of luck with the plan!

Happy readings and celebrations! Photo

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Find your passion with tarot

We all must have heard this advice thousands of times when considering a career move: follow your passion. But what does it mean exactly?

Firstly, not everyone has a clearly defined passion. In fact, I suspect most people don't have a single defined passion or a handful of passions to follow; or if they do, they are not consciously aware of these. Secondly, even if you have a passion - say, collecting stamps - how to turn it into a career?

One of my passions is learning. I absolutely love reading all kinds of books from fact to fiction and my most cherished childhood memories are about trips to the local library to borrow more books from this miraculous Wonderland of Stories. But, who on earth would pay me for reading books? Or hire me to be a life-long student just for my own interests' sake? Sadly, no one (or I simply haven't figured the right path yet...).

But does this mean passion has no place in work life? Nope. It just means that passion needs to be redefined.

I've come to realise that passion is not an action or pastime as such. Passion is created by the feeling that the action gives. One of the greatest career advice I've read and tested about finding a passion goes like this:
  • List all the jobs you've ever done, including student jobs and summer jobs (if you don't have at least five jobs, list also volunteering gigs or jobs you'd like to do).
  • Pick a top 5 list of your jobs based on which ones you enjoyed the most (or at least to some extent).
  • Put the five jobs in order, from the most enjoyable to least enjoyable.
  • Dig out what exactly in each job made you like it. Was it the work environment, the job content, the chances to learn, chances to interact with customers, flexibility with hours, what?
  • Then dig one step deeper. List why exactly you liked the said positives? How did they make you feel? Which positives made you feel the best? Why? For example: if you liked interacting with customers, was it because you felt you made a difference in someone's life?
  • When you write down a positive emotional element that makes you feel elated, or your spine shiver (or in the strongest scenario, makes you cry), you've hit the nail in the head. That's what you yearn - that's what to get more in your life.
The purpose of this exercise is to identify the exact emotional element of life (and work) that makes you feel alive, driven and happy. As mentioned, passion is not so much about doing a certain activity or engaging in a pastime but what that activity evokes: what emotion it triggers and nurtures. And ta-dah, because passion is not an undertaking but a feeling, it can be integrated in the work life, too!

Now, let's bring tarot into the equation to explore the idea of passion a bit more. Joie de Vivre deck by Paulina Cassidy comes with a spread called Spread the Joy and its purpose is to identify what brings you joy.

Joy and passion are, if not interchangeable, at least closely related to each other. What brings you constant joy usually is your passion, i.e. a pastime that you enjoy and do even when no money is earned.

Here's my reading as an example. Card positions are:

1 - 0 (crossed by 5) - 3
0 - What is joy to me?
1 - Where to find joy the easiest?
2 - Where must I work to find joy?
3 - What am I allowing to block the joy?
4 - Who or what could teach me to experience more joy?
5 - Universe's gift to experience joy?

Spread the Joy, Paulina Cassidy, Joie de Vivre. Published under permission.

0 - what brings me joy is KING OF SWORDS. This is no surprise, as the King is the master of thought, logic and intelligence, and also an authority and mentor in these areas. My joy is deeply seated in my feeling of mastering logic and thought, understanding issues (as a reward of learning), and spreading my thoughts and ideas via this blog, for example.

1 - where to find joy is 7 PENTACLES. My joy comes from all sorts of learning and communication projects, big and small, in various stages of completion. I thrive on recognition and reward, so an occasional reward apple dropping from that pentacle tree keeps me going. And I always have to have a project of some sort going, I love the feeling of seeing where things can go and working towards a goal. Completion in itself is not the reward, but having these projects underway is.

2 - where I should work to find joy: PAGE OF WANDS. Explore creativity and newness, embrace adventure. Yes, please :) That most definitely is the area where I find joy: exploration, both physical and mental. I love travelling both in my head (to different worlds of books) and in real life. And I love brainstorming new ideas, even though only 10% of them actually lead to somewhere!

3 - what am I allowing to block the joy: 6 WANDS REVERSED. As mentioned, I thrive on recognition, and lack of recognition is the biggest turn-off for me. Why am I doing this if nobody notices, my ego yells. I should learn to remember that nobody needs outsider validation for their passion: passion is a passion because it brings inner joy, not publicity or fame.

4 - what could teach me to experience more joy? TEMPERANCE REVERSED. This is a cryptic card in this context at a first sight. Less compromise, less balance, less mixing things that don't mix easily? I take it to mean that I should align my life all and all in a direction that allows me to experience more joy, without having to compromise so much. My current bill-paying job is far from my passion and I'm only free to explore my passion out of office  hours. Point taken.

5 - gift from the Universe? ACE OF SWORDS REVERSED. This card at a first sight is not the most uplifting. I've been toying with a new business idea and this card seems to slam it to the ground: will not work.

However, as I strongly believe in my idea (and my previously consulted cards also support its success), I'm inclined to take this card to mean something else: possibly my husband and his razor sharp yet playful wit and intellect, because this card sometimes comes up as him. Reversed cards in my readings often mean: not you, someone else, i.e. this is not my bright idea, but his. It could also mean that the idea I have now is not yet mature, but it will be with time - the reversed card "wants" to turn upright. I'll stay tuned for even better ideas than my current one then!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

"Bad" cards in tarot - are negative outcomes really negative?

Planning a life change? It's natural to want to know whether the change will be a success. But, what if you get a negative card for an outcome? What's the point in trying then? Isn't it easier just to give up and save yourself from the hassle?

The short answer is no. There are very few situations, if any, where a card is "bad" or negative.

Sure, some cards symbolise strong negative feelings and will feel like an electric shock when the event pictured in the card happens. But is that a bad thing - in the grand scheme of things?

What I'm NOT saying is that failures and disappointments don't matter. I actually hate the phrase "is X really that bad in the scale of a hundred years?" Well, just because something is not the literal end of the world, doesn't mean it's not devastating. What I do mean is: there can't be a positive without negative, success without failure, light without dark. It's all about balance and perspective.

Different decks approach this from dozens of angles.The illustrations vary deck by deck and can frame the meaning in a very different, eye-opening way. Here's a look on the "bad" cards of tarot; the cards that have a bad rap due to the emotional devastation or distress they reflect.

The most unwanted outcome cards for life change, top 5

5 Cups. This card in the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck shows a cloaked person looking at three chalices that have tipped over. There are two chalices behind the figure but s/he is too absorbed in the grief of loss to notice what's left.

The message is "disappointment". Something was lost or not achieved, despite all the effort. I actually got this card for "is this blog a good idea?", and naturally was disheartened: what's the point of setting it up if there's only disappointment on the way? However, this card is a road bump, not the end of the journey. Yes, not everything will work out as planned and something will let me down. But some parts will work out, if I change my perspective.

The eye-opener 5 Cups card for me came from the Victorian Fairy tarot deck. A young female fairy watches her sandcastle being washed away by a wave. She's been working on that castle for the whole day, just to see it crumble at the end. Her creative efforts go to waste, there's nothing tangible left.


Is tangible the only thing that matters? She had a great day filled with joy, sun, play and happiness. She learned new skills, got to express herself, built a happy memory alongside that sandcastle. Some of our efforts have to crumble to make way for new ideas, plans, paths and people. Destruction and creation work hand in hand.
Victorian Fairy Tarot, Five of Summer (5 Cups).

8 Cups. This must be on everyone's unwanted cards list. The traditional meaning is turning away from something: the emotional investment proved not to be what was hoped for. It's a notch more serious than 5 Cups, which is a temporary disappointment with silver lining. 8 Cups is a full-blown abandonment, walking away from a situation or a relationship.

The a-ha! 8 Cups card for me came from the Zombie tarot. A well-dressed housewife rushes out of her favourite shopping mall because there are zombies crawling all over the parking lot. What used to bring pleasure, is now full of bad memories - it's turned haunted and is not the same it used to be. The only reasonable action is to walk away, find another place/thought/action/person to invest in.

Even though 8 Cups can denote leaving a job, partner, home; or a need for a more spiritual outlook in life, it can quite practically mean "your decision regarding this question is NO because it's the most sensible course of action."

8 Cups, Zombie Tarot.

5 Pentacles. The card of financial hardship, health problems, insecurities and being without is surely on the most hated cards top 5. The traditional RWS card has a pair of miserable young people wandering through snow, but it contains a promise of something better.

This card is the only one of the Pentacles suit in RWS that doesn't show actual pentacles, besides the painting in the stain glass window: yes, material security has shaken and life feels scarce, but the pentacles (security, money, health) exist as an idea and an opportunity. The pair can find the door to enter the warmth and shelter.

The eye-opener 5 Pents for me is the Shadowscapes version. A young woman is desperately weeping in the shadow of a big stone building (a church or temple?). A vivid orange butterfly is approaching the crying girl from the direction of a beautiful stained glass window. Above the girl's head is a stone carving: a pentacle.

It's a reminder that in every situation, the seeds for something better exist. The girl just needs to calm down and see the approaching idea or opportunity (the butterfly). There's no shame in asking for help (the spiritual or religious society depicted by the temple) and she still has the most important element she needs in life: her own self (the Ace above the girl's head pointing to the material world). Life goes on as long as there is breath left in the body, and a new dawn is always possible. Don't give up.
5 Pentacles, Shadowscapes Tarot.

Death. This is a scary card and probably one of the reasons why tarot still has a witchcrafty reputation. Everyone's more or less scared of dying, the great transition to the unknown. However, as all tarot readers know, Death hardly ever means physical death. It's the end of something for sure: outdated beliefs, values, thinking patterns, emotions or a mindset.

Death card points to a painful transition of letting go of something familiar and secure. But letting go, moving on, is essential for growth: for the new fresh saplings to shoot.

The eye-opener Death card, again, comes from the Shadowscapes deck: a bright, beautiful phoenix. The mythical phoenix sets itself on fire and burns to ashes - to emerge as a refreshed, young, vibrant, energetic new creature to start a new life phase. Burning alive must hurt like heck, yet the phoenix does it to renew itself. Death is walking through fire to destroy the clutter and debris of the old.
Death, Shadowscapes Tarot.

Tower. This is possibly the most dramatic and least wanted life change card - or a card for any situation. Tower is a sudden destruction, shock to the system, dismantling of the old: be it beliefs, values, hopes or something physical, like health, financial security or a relationship.

With tarot's prior warning, unexpected becomes less unexpected. Tower gives time to prepare and feel less shaken when the unexpected hits. The tricky bit with Tower is that it's difficult to assign which area in life it relates to, and that usually causes (unnecessary) anxiety, worrying and fears.

Tower comes with two meanings: some things in life just happen, whether we want it or not. The only thing we can control is our own response and attitude. The other meaning is: if something's been built on a unstable ground and has become shaky through years (think a house of cards), it won't last. It's bound to crumble to reveal the weaknesses in your plan / life / attitude.

The bull's eye Tower meaning for me is the Victorian Fairy tarot version, the Burning Oak. A community of fairies flees to the night - their home tree is on fire. It perfectly captures the Tower feeling: need to evacuate from the situation, panic, frantic action, disbelief, fear, feeling of being out of one's depth and home turf, losing something solid and trusted for good.

Tower, Victorian Fairy Tarot (Burning Oak).
How could this possibly be a good thing in any situation? The Tower moment, the feeling of ground disappearing under one's feet, is hardly ever welcome. But what follows afterwards is what matters. Destruction - - - reconstruction. Tower only reveals a weakness in a person's mental and emotional constructions.

A personal example: I got married for life with someone I met in my early 20's. In a decade, it became clear we were growing to the opposite directions: our personalities, values and beliefs drifted to the opposite ends of the spectrum. It was hard to realise but eventually it hit that even though I cared about him deeply, I merely tolerated our life together. The Tower crumbled, we divorced.

The whole Tower year an ongoing divorce was a nightmare, but now I see it set me free. The slate was wiped clean, my life took a turn that led to happiness, satisfaction and feeling complete. So Tower as the outcome might be exactly what the doctor ordered, even though the positives might only be revealed years later. Life is a journey, not a speed lane to perfection.

This list lacks "negative" cards such as Devil = obsessions, negativity; 3 Swords = heartbreak and 10 Swords = sudden end of a situation/thoughts/feelings, they will be discussed in the future!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Tarot and science - access to another dimension?

I am a curious person by nature and hence, I spend quite a bit of time pondering all sorts of questions from "why is x like it is" to "where did this world come from, what's the nature of reality?" The topic of today relates to tarot only loosely but it sprang to mind when I bought a book called Memories from Heaven (Dyer & Garnes 2015), about kids talking their pre-birth memories.

This particular post probably only appeals to science geeks but what the heck, let's do this! It's about what's the nature of our universe anyway?

Some time ago I stumbled upon a website called Multidimensional Man. Jurgen, the writer, tells about his "trips"to other dimensions through meditation. The accounts and Jurgen's illustrations are extremely beautiful and tell about exotic, wondrous places, nature, cities and people. Whether it's all Jurgen's vivid imagination or real trips to another 'frequencies' or reality, is at this stage unprovable. But the beauty of these stories remains unchanged.

For years, I've been reading everything I can about (popularised) quantum physics, astrophysics, philosophy and any recent scientific discoveries that could explain what is this world really - what is time, what is reality, what is space, where did it all come from, how is it sustained etc.

One theory - super string theory - says everything in the world consists of tiniest strings of energy linked together. These energy "rubber bands" form a net that is the basis for absolutely everything: particles and forces, atoms, planets, humans. These strings vibrate in 11 dimensions and that's our world; and apparently some unseen elements or aspects of our world too. Meaning that in a very real, tangible manner everything that exists is one and the same, we are all connected.

Another theory says the world is a hologram: what we see is a mere reflection of some sort of a base or source, even though it feels and seems very solid. Other theories suggest there are multiple dimensions we can't currently access, but they nonetheless exist. There might be countless other universes, known as the multiverse. We don't know if these other dimensions interact with our dimension or not, because currently we don't have means to measure this. Science can only discuss topics that are measurable and verifiable, everything else is either philosophy or religion/spirituality. But, what science can't measure, is not automatically non-existing.

The most recent theory postulates that our universe has a twin universe, a parallel one that was born in the same big bang. In this sister universe, time is moving to the opposite direction, from future to past. Or, time might be a spatial dimension, meaning that its inhabitants (maybe our counterparts/higher selves?) can move around to any direction in time, but not in space. Space or surroundings as we know it don't exist, but are more like in our thoughts or dreams: when we think or dream, we don't actually move anywhere but stay put. Yet, in our thoughts, we can travel around the world.

How this all ties to tarot? Well, just as an idea, if these other dimensions exist, maybe tarot is a method (and not necessarily the only method, just something human brain can easily understand because of tarot's stereotyped symbols) to deliver information from that sister universe, the universe of thought and reversed/non-causal time? If time is a place that can be travelled around, or time moves to a different direction, then events that will happen in our future have already happened or can be visited in this other universe.

Maybe one of these other dimensions or the sister universe is what many think as Heaven or the spiritual plane. If this thought is followed further and these two (or more) universes are inherently linked, what if the concept of reincarnation merely means we pop in and out of existence, taking turns in both sides of this film between dimensions? It would be fascinating if science developed a method to explore this.

Personally I'm on the fence about "life after death" or "reincarnation" topics, because of their current un-provability through science. I'm a researcher, after all. But it doesn't stop me from enjoying the beautiful descriptions of the Multidimensional Man, or Memories from Heaven. And believing or not believing in any of these topics is not a prerequisite for using tarot. But I guess that's the main reason I love tarot: it's a way to enjoy and access the mystic side of reality, the unknown and unseen, be it "just"our subconscious - or another dimension.

There's so much we don't yet know about our universe. Photo source.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

How to use tarot wrong II

This is a sequel for the previous how to use tarot wrong post. Again, I reiterate that I'm no tarot police and not one way exists to use tarot right. Different people find that different methods suit them, and these methods may change and grow over time. However, it's easy to trip into pitfalls, in particular while learning. My own personal pitfalls are...

Too many cards per spread

I know that some readers like to pull out a deckload of cards, but I believe this should only be done when a) the reader has experience and can genuinely, intuitively know what the cards mean; and/or b) the cards have assigned positions, i.e. each card answers one specific question. Now, I'm well aware that I represent one view and plenty of people disagree with me, but - again, subjectively - I'm yet to manage to make more than half a dozen cards work without assigned positions.

Each card has multiple meanings and interpreting one card incorrectly can change the whole message. So, for me, the more cards there are in the spread and less structure (assigned positions) there is for the message itself, the seeds of chaos are sown: the message becomes a blur of unrelated, unconnected words my intuition struggles to piece together.

I'm all for de-cluttering in life in general, so I find that 3-4 card cards can usually answer any question. For more information, ask a new or a follow up question. Of course, Celtic Cross and other longer spreads are absolutely and definitely fine and useful, because with assigned positions, each card has a certain question they answer and the spread as a whole tells the complete message.

Getting stuck with a stalker card

At some stage of practising tarot, this seems bound to happen. One specific card (or cards) start popping up, for almost every possible question or spread but due to the repetition, the message is not clear. In my experience, the stalker card keeps appearing as long as it takes to figure the message. It might be an important decision or a suppressed thought or emotion bubbling under. Or, an approaching turn of events.

It's important not to ignore the card, because the issue being raised won't go away before it's been addressed by you. Also, it's simply annoying to get muddied messages for all possible questions due to this one persistent card/energy desperately wanting to chime in...

Some methods to figure the stalker card message include:
  • Remove the stalker card from the deck and ask the cards what's the message (i.e. "please explain in other words..."). 
  • Ask what area in life the stalker card relates to.
  • Do a "general" spread, for example Personal Compass or Chakras (listed at the end of this post) to see, what area in your life might be blocked or hindered by unhelpful thoughts.***
  • Meditation or good old deep pondering. Try and not think the card itself, but scan through your life, thoughts and emotions to identify anything that's sticking out, needs addressing and/or might be an issue you've been trying to ignore. 
My own favourites are a general spread combined with meditation/deep thinking - not focusing on the stalker card as such, but on my inner world (where the card's message is coming anyway).

Unclear timeframe

Accurate timing with tarot is notoriously difficult and it's probably the easiest question to get wrong.

Some readers have developed tried and tested methods that work for them, but there is no single sure-proof system that would work for everyone. I share the view that timing can't always be done, because the future is not set in stone and both our own actions and everyone else's actions affect it moment by moment. However, it seems that the stronger emotional impact an event will have, the more likely it is to show up in the cards in advance.

For me personally the future events start showing up 1-3 months early depending on the mentioned emotional force attached to them (how strong positive or negative feelings the upcoming event or change will cause in the querent), but life-changing events - such as meeting my future husband -  showed up a year early. I'm sure longer predictions can be made too but tracking and confirming them is, of course, slow.

Timing can be figured via two principal methods: setting a timeframe with the question ("what will happen within next three months") or asking a more open-ended "when" question. I personally prefer setting the timeframe because afterwards it's crystal clear whether or not the event happened. However, most of us have burning "when" - questions in mind, for example when we'll meet the love of our life, get married, have children, find a dream job, find a dream house...

The most widely known methods for scoping for timing employ the Minor Arcana suits. Each suit governs a season (approximate starting dates based on the northern hemisphere): Cups = spring (March 20), Wands = summer (June 20), Swords = fall (September 21), Pentacles = winter (begins December 21). Alternatively, you can interpret the suits as time periods: Swords = days, Wands = weeks, Cups = months, and Pentacles = years. The numbers of cards give the week of the season in the first option; and the number of days, weeks etc. in the second option.

However, as each reader has a personal relationship with their deck, everyone more or less hones their own system. I mostly rely on intuitive interpretation based on the card illustration and the overall message of the spread. Frustratingly, timing often depends on your own or someone else's actions, so asking for "when will I meet Mr/Miss Right" might give you an answer: "when you free yourself from your emotional baggage, adopt a more positive outlook in life and get active!".

Useful links for timing methods:

     Spreads to try to figure a stalker card

Personal Compass (Little Red Tarot)

1 - you at this moment. 2 - crossing card; something you're carrying now. 3 - basis that brought you here. 4 - something leaving your life. 5 - something entering your life. 6 (3 cards) - resources available to you. 7 - word of advice. 8 - purpose or direction where to head.

Chakras (Galaxy Tarot).

Chakras, according to the Indian tradition, are seven energy centres located in the body. When the chakras are "open", the life energy flows freely through mind, body and soul and the person is in balance. When one ore more chakras are "blocked", life feels unfulfilled, inauthentic or even suppressed in particular in the area where the chakra is blocked. Are your chakras in balance? Check from here too.

From bottom to top: 1 - root chakra: this card represents your sense of survival and basic needs. 2 - sacral chakra: this card shows your centre of creativity, enjoyment and pleasure. 3 - navel chakra: this card is about self-esteem, the key to feel more powerful in life. 4 - heart chakra: what's the status of your balance and love in all forms, including self-love. 5 -throat chakra: how is your self-expression, how well you can speak your truth. 6 - third eye: the status of your intuition. 7 - crown chakra - your connection with the divine, spiritual guidance.

More interesting and fun spreads just to flex your reading muscles:
Photo by G Schouten de Jel, via FreeImages.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Tarot 101 - how to start reading?

How to get going and start interpreting cards? Here's what worked for me and why I think it worked. There are plenty of tutorials and methods around, both online and in books, and different systems work for different people. But this one proved to be the most useful and accurate for me. It takes time, but then again, tarot is a "language" and learning a new language will never happen overnight. So unfortunately this is not a "get rich quick" scheme, it's old fashioned slow effort! :)

Daily draws

I noticed through practice that daily draws are a useful method to get acquainted with the deck. For this to work, it's essential to keep journal or log about the cards you got, what you think they mean and what they turned out to mean at the end of the day. I believe that one card for a day is enough, because more cards can create confusion. Meaningful questions for the cards can be for example: what's my day like, what's the main theme/energy of my day, or what's the main lesson of this day.

Keep a journal

After drawing a card, write it down: I had an excel workbook for this purpose! I started daily draws as a "scientific" experiment, wanting to see how well the cards actually correspond with what will happen. At night (or the next morning at latest), write down what really happened - did the card's message match or not. For me, daily draws seem to deliver the strongest or the most lingering emotions of that day, so you will notice whether the card's message "materialised".

Study the imagery

Starting tarot journey by focusing on each card's picture or meditating on it is a good way to learn, but for me, weaving together the card, the day, the real events, actions and feelings; and the imagery worked the best. Say, I got the 5 Wands which usually means conflict, frustration, irritations and competition, and usually shows wands clashing, not managing to align. And what do you know: on a 5 Wands day, there are small obstacles on they way at every turn, little annoyances building up, maybe colleagues or friends causing frustrations with lack of cooperation. By living these emotions and thoughts through, going back to the card's image at the end of the day really makes it pop out and become clear: yes, now I know how this particular card feels!

Don't get discouraged

Daily draws come with a problem challenge that they might predict a very crappy day. Nobody wants to see the said 5 Wands, 3 Swords (heartache), 5 Cups (disappointment) or 8 Cups (abandoning something, fed up) first thing in the morning. Speaking from experience, it's easy to get discouraged and negative about the day ahead. But, this pessimistic attitude is bound to deliver a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The beauty of tarot is the chance to focus more on your inner life, target unhelpful thoughts, weed out negativity: and prepare for challenges, but aim for balance and positivity. I've managed to avoid quite a few emotional lows by being prepared for a potentially disappointing news or a period of time. Just stay zen and trust it will pass. It always will! The next day might deliver happiness and joy of 10 Cups, 2 or 3 Cups, 4 Wands and so on.

Learn card keywords

Cards can be read either intuitively without any background knowledge at all, or in a constructed manner based on the traditional meanings of each card, originally set by the creator of the deck. Or as a mix. I'd say all readers use both aspects and the style differs in how far to each side one ventures.

Keywords help with getting the base line meanings out of the cards. There are plenty of good tutorials online, easily found by Google. As a more or less strict thumb rule, I used to check meanings from at least five different sources for each card and build my own mental database by combining the fixed meanings and my own experiences with each daily card to have enough width and depth in my interpretations.

My favourite sources for keywords are American Tarot Association (because I like lengthy and well argued explanations...), Learn Tarot (because of the handy and accurate keywords list), Aeclectic tarot forum (both the meanings list and the discussion forum, where you can ask others to help), Keen and Biddy Tarot (for their user-friendly style).

I have also used Psychic Revelation and Tarot Teachings but for my liking these lack depth and breadth. Just a matter of taste, I guess!

Use your intuition

This is, simultaneously, very easy and easier said than done. How to teach an improved or enhanced use of intuition? There are no rules that work the same for everyone. But card images are there for a purpose: to give cues and clues about what it could mean. Study each card carefully to see what's happening in it. Who's in the picture? What role they have? What are they doing? What's happening in the background? Are there other people involved and if yes, are they supportive or menacing? How could the main character feel in this situation? Is the card full or emptier, organised or cluttered, busy or calm? What colours are used and how do they make you feel? How about all the pictures and symbols on the card? What comes to mind? What is the overall "vibe", the feeling this card evokes?

Know what time period to focus

Daily draws are a good way to learn because one day is a set timeframe that makes it easy for the reader to identify whether or not the card "took place". But feel free to expand to weekly, monthly, quarterly and even annual readings to gain more practice!

I often see people struggling with interpreting daily draws because the card was too strong, too dramatic for the day. Does it really count as a Tower - sudden shock or crumbling of beliefs and assumptions - that the copy machine jammed and the bus home was late? Tarot contains many symbols for serious, life changing and even shocking events (e.g. Tower, Death, 10 Swords), but in my experience in a daily reading setting they hardly ever mean the "strongest" version of themselves. It seems to me that the shorter the time period in focus, the more diluted the messages are.

Think tarot and your life as a book. A yearly reading would capture the main themes of the whole book (titled the Year of Your Life), a monthly reading would explain one chapter, a weekly reading will highlight a few paragraphs and a daily reading gives a sentence or two. Of course, one sentence in a book can make the world's difference and change the course of the plot. But it's more likely than not that it will just carry the overall story forward: in the framework of one day, that one card was the "peak" moment or the strongest element, compared to the rest that happened that same day.

I hope this helps with getting started or honing your style!
Navigating the uncharted waters of intuition is easy and difficult simultaneously. Photo by Noah Rosenfield, creative commons licence. 
Reach new beautiful heights with improved skills. Photo by Jenny Marvin, creative commons licence.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

For tarot newbies - do you need to believe in tarot?

The theme of this blog is to advocate life change with the help of tarot and it is meant for people with or without experience in tarot - from fluent users to complete beginners. This particular post is for you, if you don't have much experience, but are curious but hesitant to start learning and using tarot.

Firstly, to explain this blog's theme, I'm not saying everyone needs a life change - you might be completely content where you're at and that's great! Again, not everyone who wants a life change needs tarot. My point is that if you are unhappy with something, the only person who can take action is you. And if you're struggling with identifying a) what exactly is wrong with your life; b) what to do about it; and c) what could follow from implementing change, that's where tarot can step in very successfully.

I personally believe that tarot is a mechanism we don't yet fully understand and it has a capability to dig out information about very personal or subconscious matters, even matters that have not yet happened. Yes, the future. Interestingly, many scientist now say that time does not flow forward, but it's an illusion of the mind: everything that ever was and will be - - - exists simultaneously. So glimpsing to future is not impossible, it's just not easy because we don't know how to do it - other than with "divination" methods such as tarot, possibly!

But none of this is a prerequisite for using tarot. You don't have to believe in tarot for it to work. Even though there are spiritual aspects in tarot and many people use it for a more spiritually enlightened and enriched life, it's not a must, it's simply an option. You don't need to believe in any form of a religion or spirituality at all to be able to glean useful information from the cards. And conversely, your religion will not be "tainted" by tarot, because...

In practice, tarot is a framework that helps its user to organise one's thoughts. It's like meditation or mindfulness made visible and tangible; the building blocks of cards showing what should/could be in the spotlight of your focus. Each card represents a concept in life: an event, situation, emotion, action, behaviour or a state of mind. When you draw cards - or a reader draws cards for you - they show a certain selection of these stereotypical concepts, such as satisfaction, team work, family, feeling content, heartbreak, feeling betrayed, feeling bored, feeling confident and so forth. Tarot cards can be interpreted by 78 to the power of x so your specific feelings will be found in the cards too.

A skilled reader is able to see a story in these pictures and can tell what you should pay attention to - and potentially change. But the final word rests with the querent, the person who is receiving the reading; you'll know whether or not the advice resonates. Based on my own experience with talented readers, more often than not the interpretation fits 95-100%.

People have always sought direction, guidance and answers to the burning and not-so-burning questions in life. It's part of human nature to be curious and keen to prepare for the future. Tarot is one method among many and it's easy to try out and even learn with a bit of  patience and open mind.

This year is nearing it's end and a new one is about to begin. Now is the perfect time to set goals and map for what you could change, release or achieve during 2016.

If 2015 was a success, next year you can build on that. If it wasn't, 2016 can be, if you know what the direction could be. The "puzzle piece" meditation of tarot can help you immensely!
9 Pentacles, the card of prosperity, affluence, confidence, independence, growth - all great wishes for the year 2016! (c) Paulina Cassidy / Joie de Vivre tarot, published under permission.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Tarot and reconciling with an ex?

I have mainly read for myself for the past four years, but a few months ago I made the leap of faith to start reading for other people – remotely, completely online. My sitters come from all over the world, the only things that connect them are the access to internet, interest towards tarot and a burning question they need an answer for.

I never meet my clients, I don’t know anything about them and next to nothing about their questions, and yet I’m supposed to generate a meaningful answer. And mystically, amazingly, that’s exactly what cards do. Sometimes people give me a sentence or two for background information, such as is the situation about romance, friendship, work or what. Sometimes all I get is “what is X planning regarding me” and I have no clue who is X and what these plans could be: hire the querent? Promote him/her? Marry him/her? Kick them out? And… the cards tell me.

There is a certain element of danger in tarot but it’s not what some people fear – that it’s some sort of a gateway for malevolent entities or attract demons or whatnot in your life. It actually is about tarot being a gateway, but it's into one’s own mind, and being cuttingly honest in it. What’s the deepest, most bare thought or desire about something, will surface with the cards.

How to fly when you feel like breaking down? Picture Sabrina M, published under CC licence
Through cards, I have got answers for myself and for others that the querent most definitely did not expect or want to hear.

I’ve been asked to describe someone’s beloved, and the description I got was not the person’s current partner, but her ex. And it came as a shock to the sitter herself that the ex, indeed, was the one in her mind. I’ve been asked how to make the “misbehaving” soon-to-be ex to act like the sitter wanted. And the answer I got was not about the uncooperative partner but the sitter herself: what should she fix in her own behaviour and tantrums to be able to ask for changes in her partner. Or for myself, what is my most negative personality trait and that also revolved around hysterics and tantrums in relationships… I don’t even lose my **** often but it still came up!

The most disheartening answers are, of course, negatives for question we’d so yearn to hear positive news about. Will I get this job? NO. Will X ask me out? NO. Will things work all right between me and my ex? NO. Will I be happy soon? NO. However, with tarot the answer is never black and white and that’s why also my readings follow the pattern: yes, and… or unfortunately looks like no, but… There is simply more to the story than the plain, short positive or negative affirmation. "Yes, because of these reasons and this will follow", or "no because of these reasons and here’s what you could do about it to make things better".

I actually hesitated setting up this website and reading service because the questions I am asked about most often relate to reconciling with one’s ex. That, by nature, is a very difficult topic, because exes are usually exes for a reason. At least one person, if not both, walked out because they were so fed up and done that there was nothing left to try. 

Oftentimes, of course, the situation is not this simple and the relationship is much more complicated – or the circumstances are complicating it – and things could still play out to any direction. Nevertheless, the general life experience tells me that if a couple breaks up, the odds are at the side of not reconciling; how could I keep delivering these dire news to hopeful people who are willing to try anything to give it a one more try? 

Tarot has an answer. Yes, quite often I get gloomy cards for the idea of reconciliation: nah, not gonna happen, just keep walking. But sometimes the cards show cautious hope, a tiny ray of light. But they also often show what the sitter should do and change in his/her behaviour to make any progress and that's the key: we can only change ourselves, we can't force others to do anything - man up, take responsibility, treat us better.. Nope. It all starts from ourselves and setting our own example and boundaries. And tarot will handily, readily and honestly tell you if there is something that should or could change from your part, so that any changes can happen from other's part. 

I think the biggest advantage of a tarot reading in a break up situation is to prepare oneself for the worst, if it (a permanent separation) were to come; or armor oneself with hope and resilience, if the emotions could still be salvaged to full-bloom, more mature love with more mature and loving actions. Maybe the relationship could be saved to friendship, affection and respect, if no romantic love can bud anymore.

At the very least, the cards tell what you can learn about the break up, the finished relationship and about yourself to be able to move on and succeed with much better chances next time. There might be a reason why this relationship didn't work - - - a better one might just be in the horizon!

Sun will always rise eventually.

Beginner's super fast guide to tarot - Minor Arcana

What is tarot? In essence, it's a system to seek guidance, dig deep into one's own and other people's subconscious to identify and understand topics, feelings and motifs that are not necessarily visible to the outside. And how do yo do it? By interpreting "readymade" presentations of these inner workings, i.e. card pictures.

Major and Minor Arcana

Tarot decks are divided in Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards. Of these, Minor Arcana is very similar and related to regular playing cards: four suits, 14 cards in each suit, 56 cards in total.

The suits have different names in different decks, but they represent four elements: fire, earth, water and air. Fire is often represented by wooden wands (branches, torches etc.); earth is represented by coins or pentacles (Medieval golden disks); air is symbolised by swords because they cut through the air with sharpness; and water is represented by cups or vessels of some form, containing - surprise, surprise - water.

The definitions for what the elements mean differ a bit deck by deck, but usually they mean:

  • Fire - inner drive, motivation, energy, inspiration, passion (from the negative side including exhaustion).
  • Water - emotions and feelings ranging all over from love and affection to sadness; and from heartbreak to bliss.
  • Air - thoughts and mental capabilities, ranging from clarity to confusion; and from frustration and anxiety to mastery of logic.
  • Earth - stability, long-term planning and goals, pragmatism, material world, earnings and finances, nature.

Tarot can also be read in terms of numerology and astrology, as each card has connections to these aspects too; and because tarot cards are based on esoteric philosophy, they also embody Kabbalah etc. which I'm personally not familiar with, and have still managed to practice tarot with success. So understanding tarot history and every possible angle of the cards is not necessary, only optional.

Major Arcana contains a storyline, called the Fool's Journey, and it begins with the Fool card numbered 0. The story lasts until the card called the World, numbered 21 (22 cards in total). The journey contains symbols - cards - for each archetypal character and a life lesson a person can encounter in life and learn from it. This journey repeats and/or rewinds over and over again in life, it doesn't mean we only encounter each situation or archetype once.

The two Arcanas ("secrets") work together and represent major or far-reaching live events (Major) and smaller everyday actions, thoughts, feelings and situations (Minor).

Learning basic card meanings is as fast as you can make it, if you simply go through a deck of 78 tarot cards and memorise a few key words for each. The pictures of cards give plenty of hints for these key meanings. That's your starting point.

Good tarot tutorials

Handy tutorials for getting started can be found for example:

  • Phuture Me, tarot tutorial
  • Biddy Tarot's list of free tarot learning resources.
  • the American Tarot Association's website - in my opinion the most comprehensive accurate list of card meanings.
  • Aeclectic Tarot website because it offers a wealth of resources, explained card meanings and a community to discuss and ask help for interpreting any card.

For a more straightforward version than tarot, maybe check out the Oracle system, which I'm not acquainted with but which is explained for example here: the Little Sage. Oracle decks do not have a set structure and are more based on key words and subjective interpreting of pictures, I've understood.

Learning tarot key words doesn't cut the mustard, though. It's where everything starts to get you on the right track with what the cards could possibly mean! The real learning comes from practising.

Choosing your deck to learn

My favourite learning deck is Rider Waite Smith, any version will do. There are plenty of reprints around of this 1910 classic deck, they mostly differ in brightness of colours. Pick which appeals to you. RWS is my favourite because its pictures are both simple and packed with symbolism. I've been reading with RWS for four years now and I'm still learning layers and deeper meanings for each card - and probably will continue as long as I use the deck.

RWS is handy because it is illustrative and descriptive, not abstract. The cards depict humans doing something, giving clues about what could be the situation, feelings, thoughts, plans and motifs involved. It is also archaic enough to give the cards sort of a "legend" or archetypal feeling: because the people and scenes look like from the Medieval times, it's easier for us to focus on the symbolic meaning of the card instead of getting entangled with the specifics of the aesthetics too closely.

There is absolutely no reason why you couldn't learn with any other deck available, there are thousands to choose from. However, given that the majority of today's decks are based on the meanings and symbolism of the RWS, it's sort of the "mother" of where the most decks have branched out. Learning RWS is almost like learning to walk to be able to run, ride a bike, jump, dance, do parkour, you name it!

Court cards and pips of Minor Arcana

What do I mean by the archetypal? Well, let's examine for example the court cards of the swords suit. The suit represents thought, logic and clarity and it begins with the Ace of Swords, the birth of a great, clear idea or seeing through the clouds of confusion with absolute clarity. The card numbers range from 1 to 10, then we meet the Page of Swords (the messenger or the student of clarity and new ideas); the Knight of Swords (the fast and furious word fighter), the Queen of Swords (the person who deals with her/his emotions through logic) and the King of Swords (the master of logic and analysis skills).
King of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith under instructions of A.E.Waite (c) US Games.
The meaning of King - or court cards, in general - is easy to understand in the context of "legend". What is a king? He's the ruler of the land (suit). He has absolute control and power over what he rules. He doesn't sway or hesitate, he doesn't need to. He has a life time of experience in being raised to rule this suit. The Queen, traditionally and in this legend context, is the mother of the country, the leader of emotions, the person who can offer emotional guidance and solace. A knight is a fighter and protector, a soldier of the suit; and the page is the messenger or someone who's learning the higher skills of the suit.

Queen of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith under instructions of A.E. Waite (c) US Games.

In my opinion, the Queens of RWS mean the feeling when you are well in charge and enjoying your own abilities of that suite, be it passion, logic, emotions or finances. The Kings, in turn, mean that you are in charge of others around you, are able to give guidance and support for others in the realms of that suit: logic, emotions, inspiration or finances/livelihood.

In my personal opinion, the number cards or pips of each suit are the easiest to understand through numerology, where even numbers often mean harmony and balance and odd numbers mean instability and risk, but also a possibility.

The pip card meanings in a non-exhaustive nutshell: number 1 represents the beginning, number 2 is balance, choice or pairing up, number 3 is growth and expansion (from the pair of two comes three, a couple and a baby for example); number 4 means stability and culmination (4 legs of a chair for example); 5 is instability and seeking for new directions (growing out of the stability of 4); 6 is overcoming the instability of 5, i.e. success of some sort; 7 again is about growth, taking a risk inspired by the success of 6; 8 is when something suddenly aligns perfectly to reveal either a very positive or negative moment; 9 is close to culmination so it's either the very edge of success, the last push or the darkest hour before the dawn; and 10 is the end, closure, culmination - the highest or the lowest point depending on what was culminating.

Combine the number meaning with the suit element meaning and voilà, you have the starting point where to work from with your own intuition. Intuitive reading tips coming up soon!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Online readings, mobile apps or paper cards?

Tarot readers seem to be divided into two camps or schools: the ones who are happy with electronic versions of cards (online or on mobile) and the ones who want to physically touch the cards, shuffle them, lay them out, feel the texture, have a tangible element in the reading.

Toth deck cards, photo: Kyknoord, under Creative Commons licence.
I personally use mostly apps because they are so incredibly handy. I find paper decks cumbersome because they require quite a bit of space to shuffle and lay out, whereas with an app, the cards are shuffled by a single tap - even shuffling can be skipped - and you get a neat row of cards by tapping and swiping. Apps enable me to read wherever I please: at work, in a bus, in a queue...

At the beginning of my tarot journey I was apprehensive towards online readings because so many of the websites offering free readings have a tacky, New-Age-clichéy appearance. It somehow smells like a scam miles away, even if it weren't! However, the cards don't seem to mind in what settings they are. I've received surprisingly accurate readings on platforms I didn't otherwise like; and the same cards repeated across different websites I tried, if I asked about the same matter.

However, because of this initial distrust towards online cards I purchased my first paper deck, the Pamela Colman Smith centennial edition package (Rider Waite Smith) and this deck proved to be great for learning purposes. The somewhat archaic and simplistic illustrations are, in fact, fascinatingly deep and packed full of meaning and symbolism, beginning from the facial expressions of the characters.

This year I've moved away from the RWS because I discovered the world of mobile apps, as flaunted before. I think it's important for the reader to be somewhat calm, focused and clear when doing a reading - to avoid the answer being a mudslide of unrelated info -, but I personally have never required any sort of meditation, rituals, dim mood lighting, candles, whatnot to do a reading. Meaning that I seem to be able to get reliable answers on the go, no need to be securely at home with a paper deck (which was too big to carry around).
The beautiful Queen of Cups from Paulina Tarot (c) Paulina Cassidy, published here under permission.
If pre-meditation, candles, rituals etcetera work for you, cool, stick with them, but tarot doesn't seem to be too fuzzy about when and where it's read. The answers depend on the nature of the deck, the question and how well the question was formulated for a comprehensible answer.

My new tarot love is the Fool's Dog Tarot Sampler app,* which is free to install and it offers a great selection of spreads to practice with, including a free form spread. The Sampler does require a shift in thinking: it literally whisks cards across a number of decks into the same spread. This at first felt confusing and even annoying, because a user can't pick and choose which deck to use. You might end up getting cards you don't particularly like or connect well with.

However, after using these apps for a few months now (there are Tarot Samplers II, III and IV available in Google store) I'm utterly surprised by their accuracy. For a fluent or intuitive reader the Sampler gives much more information than one particular deck usually can, because it combines the strengths of a number of decks and imagery. I also like the surprise element of this tool because you never know - even less than you'd know with one deck - what will come up and how the answer wants to be interpreted. Keeps you on your toes!

This app also links to individual decks which can be purchased for around five AUD; extremely affordable. I now have my favourite decks Shadowscape by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law; and Paulina Tarot by Paulina Cassidy on my phone anywhere I go. How great is that! The only problem is that after seeing so many beautiful decks, I now also want them as paper versions just to admire the artwork and possibly frame them. Oh the choices in life...

* I am not affiliated with Fool's Dog, I simply love this product because it works well for me. 

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Saturday, 5 December 2015

How to use tarot wrong

If you already have a deck of cards, it's more likely than not that you've been using them wrong at least in some occasions.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't claim to be a tarot authority of any sort, nor from the tarot police. But I've simply learned through my own unaided journey through tarot (I'm self-taught and later on, actively learned from other readers via blogs and online forums) that there are many many pitfalls a tarot rookie - and even a more experienced reader - can and will encounter.

Tarot collage by Littledeadgirl.

Because tarot cards are not easy to understand at first sight - after all, each has multiple and layered meanings, and can be more or less cryptic depending on the deck - the most natural thing to do is to ask another card to clarify the previous ones. And then another. And one more. And... that's where things go downhill.

The problem is that the more cards are pulled, the more information is gained. Great, right? No. I firmly believe - and again, just based on my own experience - that one to four cards are more than sufficient to answer any question. If you still don't understand, ask another question. Maybe the wording  of your question simply can't provide a clear answer. Yes and no questions are the hardest to get right, more about that soon. Did you forget your question in the midst of pulling more and more cards? That happens easily too.

The best way to start working with tarot is to write the question down. If you use a mobile app, type the question down. Or use a journal, piece of paper, a post it note, your phone's memo option... anything goes, as long as you get the exact wording down. If the question itself becomes muddied and fudged in your head, the answers will be muddied and fudged too.

Because each card has multiple meanings, a single card can tell a whole story. With tarot it pays to be patient. That sure is something I'm still learning. I used to be the queen of repeat questions and clarifiers. If I didn't get a card I understood (or didn't like the answer, let's be honest here...) I'd keep pulling more until I got one I understood/liked. But, was the answer correct then? 95% chance it was not. It is the nature of tarot that each card requires attention, focus, unravelling, meditating, even. They will open up, but only to the ones who wait, i.e. stay calm, patient and observant.

Repeat questions

This was already touched in the previous section but it's a slightly different problem than clarifiers. Nowadays, if I can't comprehend the message, I might say: "show me the message in a way that I understand" to direct my own mind and subconscious, and then pull another card(s). But this can't be done to death: I don't want to flood myself with irrelevant extra angles that cards so love delivering.

Funnily enough, tarot has a mechanism to stop repeat questions. At some stage, cards just start giving nonsensical answers and often repeat cards like 9 Swords and 10 Swords: overthinking, overworrying and this matter is being thought to death, it needs to be put to rest. That's the end of story with that question, at least for now.

As strange as it may sound, cards behave like a trusted but brutally honest friend. No matter what's the question, the first few answers for the same question are crisp clear honest. But if you keep repeating the question, the cards sort of "cave in" and either go on a blabbering mode (have you thought of this, how about that, you really should consider this...) or throw in a row of super positive or super negative cards, as if spreading one's hands in the air: "I can see you're not listening, here, have the answers you want OR fear the most, I'm done!".

Emotionally investing in the outcome

Well, truth be told, if people were not emotionally invested in the outcome, they wouldn't have invented tarot in the first place! Of course we read cards because we want to know answers to questions that matter to us most. Will I get the job? Will I succeed in this undertaking? Will I meet my dream partner? Will I marry soon? Will s/he like me? Will I have kids? Will I be happy next year?

The trick is, however, to not be too attached to a specific outcome. Firstly, never ask a question you are not willing to hear an honest answer to. Don't ask "do I look fat in this dress"... or "when will I die" if you can't handle the answer (timing questions are horribly difficult anyway so you'd end up fretting for nothing, most likely).

Secondly, accept that whatever the answer is, it doesn't mean you can never get around it. Yes, you might get a NO for "will I get this job". But that can mean that this specific job is not the best one for you and there is another better one in the pipeline, just stay patient and keep doing your best. Same goes for partners, or even children. Will I have a baby this year with a negative answer doesn't mean you'll never have kiddies.

Tarot works best as a troubleshooting, problem solving and self development tool IMO, and you can't beat an obstacle and choose a different, more fruitful path if you can't identify the problem/obstacle in the first place. So sometimes negative readings are blessings in disguise as they warn you about an outcome and give extra time to prepare and change your plans. And sometimes, they actually show a negative outcome brought to you by... you.

I've had more negative answers to my own job application questions than I care to remember. However, in half of the questions I learned later on that a) the job opening didn't go forward and no one was selected or b) I actually didn't want the job after some reconsidering! So, sometimes a NO answer can mean that you yourself will end up changing your mind in the future and YES was never a long-term possibility. Funny that!

Yes/no questions

Unless you have a reliable, established system for knowing when cards mean yes and when they mean no, it's always better to ask something more open-ended or descriptive. Such as: what would be my best course of action in relation to... Or what should I take into account... Or how should I proceed in this matter. A snappy quote I once saw was: my deck doesn't come with yes and no cards, so it's not realistic to expect yes or no pop out.

Each card has multiple, layered meanings, which can take positive or negative flavour depending on the question. Say, 10 Cups is one of the happiest cards in any deck: the attainment of dreams, culmination of happiness, the ultimate bliss. But you might not want to see that card pop up for your love interest and his/her current partner, in case you are sneakily hoping it would be on a shaky ground and you'd still have a chance in winning this popular person's heart. So, depending on a question, even the most positive card can take a negative vibe for you personally.

Some readers use a fixed system where certain cards or reversed cards mean no and certain others mean yes. Feel free to experiment and find your own system. I myself haven't found a fool proof system and I always treat yes and no questions with a pinch of salt, trying to see the context and the wider answer and angle the cards inevitably provide. It can be helpful, too, to not just expect black and white but to accept the gradual greys in between.

Do you need to be a psychic to learn tarot?

I stumbled upon tarot in 2011, when I was going through a major life change, a divorce. I hadn't had any particular interest towards tarot earlier, because I regarded it as either a hoax or something only psychics and mediums use - and I wasn't sure I'd believe in those concepts either. The left-brained science geek, you see? 

But what do you know. On a whim, to distract myself from the heartbreak, I ordered a free online astrology reading (funnily enough I found astrology more plausible than other forms of "alternative" or "esoteric" knowledge) which happened to come with a complementary tarot reading. 

My first encounter with tarot cards was pretty much simple, pure shock and disbelief. The three card reading delivered cards called Death, Tower and Hanged Man. 

Pictured: Hanged Man and Tower from the Tarot of the Magicians, Oswald Wirth 1927, based on the Marseilles Tarot from 1499.

It summarised my situation to a T: I was going through a major personality change and life change, my surroundings and circumstances were crumbling from what I had previously assumed and planned; and I couldn't move out just yet due to financial reasons and having promised to my soon-to-be ex-husband that we'd discuss the break up properly, neither of us would just escape. So there I was, watching myself and my life dismantle, yet hanging in there at the scene because I had made a promise - - - Hanged Man is the card of self-sacrifice and change of perspective. 

Of course I didn't simply know what the cards meant, when I saw them. But the imagery is so visceral I got a hint what they could mean and was shocked and curious enough to start studying. I read everything I found online about these specific three cards. Then I read some  more about other cards. I learned about the Major and Minor Arcana, the different parts of a standard tarot deck. I learned that all those cards were Major Arcana, meaning that they were not mere everyday events or feelings, but much more profound and even life-changing. And I kept reading more, and started doing free online readings for myself to learn more. 

Now when I look back to that moment, the first reading I got may well have been a hoax. It's a well known fact that people turn to tarot and its insight and predictive powers in the midst of distress. When else would you need more solace and a peak to the future than when going through something dramatic? So the row of Death, Tower and Hanged Man could have been just a standard issue of cards the online system sent to everyone. But... 

The more I read about tarot and the more I did readings for myself - first with online decks and then with my own paper copy of RWS (Rider Waite Smith, the "classic" tarot) deck, I realised that these specific cards could not be a coincidence. Not after repeating so many times, and conveniently fading away from my readings when I started feeling better and healed from the emotional turmoil. 

But, now to my question: do you need to be a psychic to learn tarot? Well, what is a psychic anyway? 

If it means someone who is well connected with their intuition, then yes, it does help. But even that is not a prerequisite. An analytical and logical person can do equally well with cards, that's the beauty of it. I've read cards for five years now and I have been a very structured and methodological reader, relying on the set book meanings of each card, and I'm only now venturing towards the intuitive style: relying more on instant feelings, emotions and flashings of "knowing" when I see each card and the whole spread. 

Tarot is a language and each card is a word, description or concept, just in a symbolic form. It can be learned like any other language in the world. Some people seem more naturally prone to learning and some struggle a bit more, but it's possible for anyone. You'll only need an open mind to look at what you see without bias or preconceptions. And then tell yourself what is it you see and how it fits in your life (or, someone else's, if you're reading to another person).

More about reading tips and techniques coming up soon!

Friday, 4 December 2015

How does tarot work?

How does tarot work? Well, nobody knows for a fact. Thousands of tarot readers around the globe simply know it does work, based on their everyday experience with the cards. But, there are a few theories floating around.

Subconscious knowledge

In essence and in the most practical possible view, tarot is nothing more than looking at pretty pictures and analysing or interpreting what they could mean.

This theory assumes that we all know much  more than we realise in our subconscious, the hidden realm of the intuitive thoughts. Tarot is a framework that helps our conscious to focus on matters the subconscious already knows, and bring them to surface in an organised manner. Sort of aided dream interpretation, or structured Roschach (ink stain) testing.

A standard tarot deck contains 22 "Major Arcana" cards and 56 "Minor Arcana" cards, meaning 78 cards in total of stereotypical human life events, emotions, situations and actions. This provides enough variables for one's subconscious to be able to pick up a meaningful message from any combination of cards that come up. Such as...

Do you suspect your partner is cheating? You might get the 3 Swords card, a heartbreak. Yes, it's very possible that there is turmoil in the relationship. But not necessarily because of cheating, but because of mistrust and miscommunication. Are you in high spirits? If you get the 10 Cups, the "happily ever after" card, you'll feel elated and convinced that your utterly positive mood is predestined and here to stay.

But... how about the fact that sometimes - actually, almost always - the cards lay out the truth about matters we have no way of knowing? Like matters concerning other people, or matters about to happen in the future, i.e. predictions? I've been one of the strongest advocates of puristic, scientific and fact-based world view and here I am now, doing remote readings for people and somehow mystically and magically getting them right. What could that be about?

Multi-dimensional universe and/or spirit world

Another theory purports that tarot cards have an access to knowledge that is not accessible via regular human senses. This knowledge perhaps comes from another dimension (check out the Multidimensional Man for a very intriguing account on where meditation can lead a person and what can be glimpsed via a mind's eye). Or, it comes from the spirit world or from a divine source; the other dimension and this divine force not necessarily being mutually exclusive.

In any case, this theory presumes that the cards simply show what is a fact in this other dimension, the world of thought or world of intentions. Cards can somehow capture the most accurate symbols for what is going on in the mental plane - the same plane where thoughts and dreams reside - instead of our everyday physical plane, and translate it into a material manifestation in the form of these pre-structured pictures.


The third theory is that cards are simply magic. They deliver meaningful, useful and insightful messages, yet nobody knows how. So, it must be magic. But, what is magic exactly? Simply something that defies our everyday understanding of how things should work. Maybe there is no such thing as inexplicable or supernatural, there are only things that we haven't figured out yet.

Unfortunately the scientific community is notoriously apprehensive towards any topic even remotely psychic and has not yet conducted any published studies on tarot or its possible mechanisms.

I personally think that the measure of true science is to approach any topic without bias or prejudice. So I'm hopeful that tarot will one day be seriously studied, in the same manner as out-of-body-experiences, telepathy etc. are nowadays being scientifically examined.

Before that happens, we'll have these three theories (at least) to pick from or to combine together, and keep exploring the world of tarot on our own.

Let the journey begin!

Time to plant seeds and learn new skills - with tarot. Photo: