Tag Archives: Oracle cards

Tarot 101: An Intro to Tarot (Part 1)


I’ve talked a couple of times on the blog about card meanings, how to read tarot, and what it means when a deck doesn’t feel right, but I realized that I’ve never talked about the basics. I just assumed that anyone finding my blog would A.) already know or B.) be able to find the basics elsewhere since there are so many websites out there now that cover this topic.

But I’m about to add one more.

I realized if I’m going to talk about the more advanced stuff, I should probably also cover the basics as well. Not only does this help add more information to the topic, but it also gives my readers a basis of where I’m coming from and how I work. Which seems like a pretty good idea to me.

Please keep in mind, not every tarot reader works the same way. I’m quite certain there are other readers out there who do things very differently. And that’s OK! That’s awesome! One of the great things about reading cards is that there are so many different ways of doing it and each reader is free to find the way that works best for them.

So, to begin . . .

What is Tarot?

Tarot is a tool. The cards can be used to gain insight and perspective into the self and situations. Tarot cards aren’t inherently bad or “evil”, though there are some negative stereotypes that persist about the cards and readers. Anyone can read the cards, though in my experience, some of the best readers are those who have spent some time studying the symbolism and meanings of the cards.

Tarot has been around since at least the 15th century and was originally a card game. At some point, they became a tool for divination. Probably the most well-known deck, the Rider-Waite, was designed by Arthur Edward White and published in 1910. Depending on how you’re taught, some say that the tarot cards are the journey of the Fool, the first card of the Major Arcana, and that the Fool travels through the deck to experience each card.

How are Tarot Cards Different From Angel and Oracle Cards?

For the most part, tarot cards are set up as a specific system and angel and oracle cards aren’t. The primary purpose of most angel and oracle cards is to be read intuitively and with very little or no study of the cards needed. With tarot, the reader often benefits from studying the cards as well as reading intuitively. There is a specific number of cards in any tarot deck (78), and they generally stick to a system of four suits plus the Major Arcana. Angel cards tend to be a deck of cards of any number with images of angelic beings. Oracle cards tend to be a deck of any number and usually with custom artwork or images of any variety. There are some varieties of tarot that deviate from the typical 78-card system and don’t stick to the popular Rider-Waite imagery, but they still tend to be divided into the suits and the Arcanas.

What are Tarot Deck Basics?

A typical tarot deck consists of 58 Minor Arcana cards and 22 Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits: pentacles, swords, wands/rods, and cups. The names of these may be different depending on author, but they tend to be relatively interchangeable. For example, I’ve seen the pentacles suit called the coins suit.

Each suit consists of fourteen cards: ace through ten, page, knight, queen, king. Again, the names of the royal cards may be different depending on deck, but they tend to follow a hierarchy. For example, I’ve seen the page also called the princess and the knight called the prince. It depends on the author of the deck. The Minor cards tend to be symbolic of everyday life and indicate everyday issues.

The Major Arcana is 22 cards going from the Fool to the World. These cards tend to reflect archetypes or overall lessons. Some say that the Major cards indicate karma or karmic rules, but not everyone agrees on this.

How Can I Learn What the Cards Mean?

There are many different ways of doing this. Some people take years to study and read up on the cards. Others don’t. I have a couple of suggestions for those who want to learn what the cards mean:

  • Keep a tarot journal. Record your impressions of each card as you come across it. You can even photocopy the card you want to work on a tape or paste it into the journal. Then study the card and write down any impressions you get. What does it mean to you? What to the symbols tell you? Listen to your intuition. Then, once you’ve recorded what the card means to you at the time, look up what it means to other people and see if there’s anything you want to add. A good website I’ve used before for card meanings is http://learntarot.com/cards.htm.
  • Pull a card a day. Every morning, shuffle and ask the deck what your day will be like. Pull only one card, study it for a few minutes, write down initial impressions, and then leave it alone. Come back at the end of the day and see how you did.

The suggestions above are more for those who want to learn what the cards mean to them on an intuitive level. I usually say that the cards have different meanings for different people. You can certainly look up what the cards tend to mean, and I encourage you to do so, as studying the symbolism can really help understand the nature of the deck. But I also contend that there’s an intuitive element to reading and the usual meanings will not always apply in every situation. This is why I encourage a mixed approach–practice the intuitive while also studying the symbolic.

That’s all for Part 1 of Tarot 101. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

name2

Store Review: Mysteries (London, England)


Address: 9-11 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9EQ, UK
Website: http://www.mysteries.co.uk/index.html
Rating: 4 out of 5

Mysteries has been in London for many years.  I heard of the store both online and through recommendations from locals and other visitors who had been there.  So, when I went to Coven Garden, I decided to check out the store.

Inside, it’s a mixture of so many different things.  Books, crystals and stones, incense, statues and figurines from a variety of different traditions and religions, tarot and oracle cards, jewelery, bags, and so much more.  I could have spent more time in there, honestly, just looking at the wide array of products.

I went in specifically to look for tarot cards, stones, and tools, especially an athame.  I found the stones and cards pretty easily, both in the rooms off the main room.  The store stocked many different decks, but none felt right or really appealed to me, so I didn’t buy a deck this time.  I found the stones, which I did buy, and I liked the selection they had in stock.  They did look like the kind of stones that could be picked up at just about any New Age-type store, but that’s not necessarily bad.  I needed to restock on my quartz stones.

I was disappointed at the lack of tools, however.  If they did stock them, I didn’t see them, and being so close to closing, I didn’t ask about them.  I tried to get back to the store during my stay in London, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I expected exactly, but I had been given the impression of a more Pagany kind of store, but it really wasn’t very different from any store in Sedona, AZ.  It has a lot of the basics and does very well in that, and also stocks a lot of interesting statuettes and such from traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, but I don’t think I would have found the things I was really looking for, namely, the tools (i.e., cauldrons, athames, wands, etc.).

It’s a decent store, the service was excellent, and the people were friendly.  When crowded, it’s a bit of a squeeze, but that can happen in any store.  So I give the store a 4 out of 5 rating.

When a Deck No Longer Works


You wouldn’t think that a deck of cards could have a mind of its own.  But I swear, tarot and oracle card decks, and any other metaphysical decks, do have minds of their own.  For the past few months, my tarot deck has been giving me a lot of trouble, and I know it’s time to move on to another deck.  This one has fulfilled its purpose for the time being, and now I should move on.  But it got me thinking.  Has anyone else had this problem?  Do other people even know that this can happen?

Well, it can happen!  I knew I’d outgrown this deck when I began getting contradictory answers or even answers that made absolutely no sense.  Even when I went back afterward and examined the questions asked to see if maybe they were too complicated, I found that no, the majority were decent or good questions that would work well with a card reading, so the deck should have been able to give me an answer.  Yet it didn’t.  That was the deck’s way of telling me I needed to move on to another deck–this one was done and clearly not going to help me out much anymore.

Now, before you get rid of your deck just because you’re not getting clear answers, there are some thing to consider first before moving to another deck.  In my opinion, moving on to another deck is the last resort because the problem could be with you and your state of mind, not with the deck.

One thing to consider is whether you should be asking the question in the first place.  For example, say you’re doing a reading for yourself and asking about a situation with a lover or family member.  The cards show an answer that doesn’t seem to make sense, or give an answer that seems to be negative.  You think the cards aren’t giving a clear answer.  But in this kind of situation, I would say that it’s not the deck, it’s the reader.  It’s difficult to read the cards for yourself, especially when you’re asking about highly-charged emotional situations.  You may get an answer that you don’t want to admit or can’t admit to yourself, so you think the deck is wrong or giving a confusing answer when in fact it’s giving the correct answer–you just can’t allow the answer.

Another consideration is the question being asked.  How clear is your question?  I tell people that their question should be as specific and non-ambiguous as possible.  This gives the clearest answer and allows the cards–and you as the reader–to focus in on the issue and only the issue at hand.  So if your cards aren’t giving a clear answer, then consider the question and see if it holds too much ambiguity and is thus confusing you and the cards.

  • A good question: What is the effect on my life of remaining on the path I am currently on?  This is a good question because it’s asking about the effect of something specific–the effect your actions, if you change nothing, will have on your life later on.  “Later” is OK in this case because you don’t want to know a specific time frame per se, you want to know the effect of X on Y.
  • A bad question: Will I get the job I applied for?  Which job?  Sooner or later?  Is this a job you applied for recently or do we mean a job you’re about to apply for?  It seems like a simple question, but it can be more ambiguous and leave open more holes than you might think.

Something else to think on is your emotional or mental state during the reading.  If you’re very emotional, you may not be able to read clearly and may jump to conclusions or see things in the cards that aren’t necessarily indicated.  If you receive an answer that is confusing or upsetting, then not only consider your emotional state, but this ties in with the first two considerations.  Now, I’m not saying that you need to be cool, calm, and collected all the time when reading the cards, but your emotional or mental state can have an effect.  For example, being rally tired can affect your abilities.

The last consideration I have for you is to consider whether the situation is too much in flux for the cards to give a clear answer.  It’s possible the a situation may be changing too rapidly or have too many possible outcomes that the cards can’t reveal a good or clear answer.  This doesn’t happen all that often, in my admittedly limited experience, but it can happen.

To summarize, these are the things you should consider before leaving a deck:

  • Should you be asking the question at all.
  • Is your question clear or too ambiguous.
  • Are you too distracted or emotional while reading to gain clear insight from the cards.
  • Is it possible the situation in question is too in flux to allow a clear answer.

If you consider all of the above and still find that the deck just doesn’t work for you, then it’s time to consider moving on to another set of cards.  I’m still trying to find my next tarot deck, and I may have finally found one that fits, but it’s taken a couple of months before I was given a deck that may end up working out pretty well for me.

I hope this helps all of you tarot and other card readers out there!  I wish someone had told me some of this when I first began learning years ago.  Especially about the questions–and I’m still learning that one!

Oracle Cards


Oracle cards.  What are they?  How do they work?  How are they different from tarot, and how do you use them?  These are the sorts of questions I’ve been hearing ever since I picked up my deck of oracle cards in Sedona and started using them.

First of all, what are oracle cards.  Oracle cards are a set of cards used for divination.  They are not divided up into suites like tarot–in fact, most oracle deck don’t have any divisions at all.  Each card has a picture and a name, and nothing else.  No suites, no elemental associations, no numerological or astrological associations aside from what’s given to the reader in the painting itself.  There is nothing outside of the oracle card to tell you what it means.  What I mean by that is, there is no association telling you that pentacles is connected to earth element and implies stability and fertility.  What’s in the picture is all you get to figure out the card.

How do you use these cards?  Pretty much like you would use a tarot deck.  You decide on a layout–one card, yes/no, three cards, crosses or lines, etc.–and phrase a question.  Shuffle how you wish and then lay out or pull the cards.  There are no reversals in oracle cards as far as I can tell.  Reversals would strike me as rather pointless, since oracle cards tend to emphasize positive occurrences by their very nature.  Then you read the cards to find the answer.

Because oracle cards don’t have number, elemental, or suit references to help read them, the reader is forced to be more intuitive in order to gain insight into an answer.  This is the aspect that I both like and dislike about oracle cards.  On the one hand, oracle cards are easier to read in that there are no outside associations for you to learn.  You have to learn the cards themselves rather than the associations with the elements or suits, etc.  On the other hand, there is nothing to tell you what the cards mean.  You’re pretty much on your own and have to trust your own instincts and intuition.  It can be a little intimidating to realize this.

Unlike tarot, oracle cards tend to emphasize positive thought.  You won’t find something like the swords suit in an oracle card deck.  There are some cards that look negative on the surface, but if you look closely, they are actually framing that negativity differently than expected so that it is positive.  Which is very, very interesting to work with.

Decks come in all different sorts.  A lot of them feature angels, fairies, mythological creatures, mermaids, etc.  The deck I have is one I absolutely love–Mystic Art Medicine oracle cards.  These cards have a Native American feel to the artwork even when the main feature of the picture is Christian or Buddhist or Hindi or something else.  I like that because Native American beliefs and traditions very much speak to me and have for a long time.  I can connect with the images on the cards and understand what they say.  I think it’s very important when buying an oracle card deck to really look at the pictures and find a deck that speaks to you, which isn’t that much different than buying a tarot deck.  The difference here is really in the pictures, because the picture is all you get to read the card, so you’d better find a deck that speaks to you and that you can understand.

I won’t be abandoning my tarot deck any time soon.  Oracle cards tend to emphasize positive thought, which strikes me as being very Fluffy Bunny.  It doesn’t leave as much wiggle room to acknowledge the negative aspects of life that are inevitable, not in the same way that tarot cards do in the swords suit and the Tower card.  Having said that, I also can’t deny that I’ve done some good readings with oracle cards.  While they do not have the same balance as tarot cards do between Dark and Light, the deck I use is not so positive-leaning that it completely discounts any negativity.  Rather, it acknowledges the negative and then gives a positive spin.  For example, in my deck there is a card called Fear.  It’s a frightening card with a depressing picture–but when you look at it, really look, it’s not so frightening.  There is hope and Light in the Dark.  That, I think, is the real advantage and real lesson of oracle cards.  Yes, they are more positive-leaning, much more so than tarot, but I think it is simply another way of framing the Dark in your mind in order to meet it head on.

Tarot cards have their advantages as well, and I see no reason why a reader couldn’t be equally familiar and comfortable with both types of decks.