Tag Archives: reading

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!

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Pathways Natural Living Expo


Today, I spent most of the day at the Pathways Magazine Natural Living Expo in Bethesda, MD.  It’s not a Pagan expo by any means, but since it’s New Age/metaphysical, I thought some of my lovely readers would be interested in hearing about it.

This was my first time attending the expo, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I don’t attend many conferences/fairs/expos, etc., though I plan on changing that in future (I’m going to Karmafest in May, for example).  What I found was a lot of booths offering metaphysical services, natural products, jewelry by the bucketload, gemstones, clothes, and aura photography.  There were also 80-something workshops throughout the day.  I chose not to attend most of the workshops so I could roam the tables more, but I did attend a 1:00 meditation.  More on that later.

The aura photography was one of my favorites.  I was literally the first customer for it, I was so excited.  The last time I’d had my aura photographed was in Sedona, AZ in 2011, so I was curious to see how it had changed.  I was rather surprised by the result.  It’s very red now, when before it had been red with a mass of yellow.  This seems like a huge change to me, and I’m not entirely certain of what it means.  Because of the large line that had already formed behind me, the photographers couldn’t offer very much insight beyond a quick look at the picture and a few words of their initial impressions.  That’s fine, I understand that at an event like this, everything is going to be more abbreviated than a normal session.  If you’ve never seen what an aura photo looks like, here are two of mine:

My aura photos. The one on the left was taken at The New Age Center in Sedona, AZ in 2011. The one on the right is from today at the Pathways Expo. I've covered my face for privacy purposes.

My aura photos. The one on the left was taken at The New Age Center in Sedona, AZ in 2011. The one on the right is from today at the Pathways Expo. I’ve covered my face for privacy purposes.

The picture above isn’t very good, since I took it with my crappy cell phone, but you can clearly see that my aura today was very red with a hint of pink at the top. And it’s much smaller than it was in 2011 (pic on the left).

I’ve always believed in the existence of auras, but the aura photography has seemed a little more sketchy at times.  I’m a skeptic by nature, so it’s a bit of a habit to doubt things.  However, this being the third time I’ve had my aura photographed, my skepticism has (mostly) been laid to rest.  Especially since the first two times were done by the same reader in Sedona, but nearly ten years apart, so there was no way she could remember me.  She gave me a lot of the same information the second time as the first, but more than that, what she saw confirmed a number of things about my personal life and helped me get clear on a direction to follow.  Anyway, while I know there are frauds out there (as there are in just about everything), I think aura photography is a fun thing to do and share.  I don’t necessarily think that if a photographer tells you they see disease or something like that in your aura that you should take their word for it, but perhaps consider going to the doctor if you’ve had any symptoms, etc.

[By the way, I apologize if this is a bit rambling.  I’m rather tired from spending the day in a crowd of mostly unshielded people.  It’s always draining for me, and the meditation I attended didn’t help in that respect.  So I’m a bit tired!]

After the photography, there was a table of polished, raw, and geode stones.  I was in heaven. I adore stones.  I’m always happy to go through stones and feel their differences and just appreciate these natural beauties.  This particular merchant, Mahalo Minerals, had a lot of different stones on display, and very reasonable prices.  I found a table of celestite geodes for very decent prices, and I ended up buying one.  It’s so happy to be home with me, and I’m so happy to have it!  Celestite is one of my favorite stones, for both its beauty and its properties.  Mahalo also had a number of beautiful stone spheres, some very clear.  They had spheres of selenite, which I had never seen before, and I ended up buying one of those as well.

Luckily that was the only money I spent!

After that, it was one booth after another.  My particular favorites were Sranrom Urban Wellness and Melissa Feick’s table.  At Sranrom Urban Wellness, they make natural products such as hand lotions, body cream, room mists, candles, etc.  They don’t use animal ingredients, parabens, glycol, petroleum derivatives, or synthetic colors or fragrances.  I tried the hand lotion and wanted to buy some on the spot.  It left my hands feeling so moisturized and soft without the oilyness that usually happens with other products I’ve tried.  And it lasts a long time–it’s been seven hours since I tried the hand lotion, and my hands still feel super soft!  Sadly, by that time, the representative had already sold out of the lotion, so I didn’t get to buy any, but I am definitely wanting to get my hands on some of their products.  They also have a men’s line, if any male readers are interested.

Melissa Feick is an excellent reader, and I was so happy to meet her in person today.  I’ve had two readings with her in which she connects to my guides and passes to me the information they have (and answer my questions, of course).  Both readings I’ve had with her have been spot on, and I would definitely go back to her in future.  She teaches a number of classes and workshops, and also runs a webinar about ascension.  I had never met her in person–my readings had been done over the phone for convenience, but she is such a warm and loving person, I felt immediately comfortable in her presence (and that doesn’t happen easily for me!) and just felt so welcomed by her.  She’s a lovely person and I have great respect for her work.  If you’re looking to go to an intuitive reader for a reading, I can suggest no one better and encourage anyone interested to explore her website. As I said before, I attended a meditation workshop this afternoon that she led, and the meditation she guided the class through was excellent.  It’s difficult to do in that sort of setting because people want to come in and out, and I have to say, there were a number of rude and inconsiderate (and pushy!) people at the expo today, who thought it was acceptable to try to come into a meditation workshop more than halfway through the hour.  I don’t understand people like that.  Anyway, I’m glad I went, because I felt clearer and better at the end than I had been feeling when I went into it.

I should’ve taken more pictures through the day, but I was too busy looking at everything.  The amount of jewelry was phenomenal, and I nearly spent more money than I had budgeted for the event because of the jewelry alone!  Clothes too, but I just stayed away from those booths.

I can’t wait for next year’s expo!  This was fun and exciting, and it was lovely to be surrounded by so many like-minded people who just want to live a better life, reach their individual potential, and share their experiences and learning with others.

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Question of the Week: Pagan Authors and Books


So I’m on a reading kick this week.  I got into a good book and now I just don’t want to stop.  This post will be short, sweet, and to the point so I can return to my book!

Do you have any favorite Pagan/New Age/metaphysical books or authors?  Why are they your favorite?

Share your response below!

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(PBP) The Letter B: Books


**This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project. Weeks 3 and 4 are the letter B. For more about PBP, check out their website here.**

This week’s post is more of a reflection on how books have played a role in my spirituality.

row of old books

I adore books.  I always have.  So when I wanted to learn more about Paganism, I went straight to the books.  My first Pagan book was Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.

Books have been instrumental in developing my spirituality.  Without the beginner’s guide Cunningham’s books offered, I don’t know if I would ever have moved forward.  The Internet back then wasn’t very helpful and was still growing as more people gained access, so while it had some resources, I think there were more questionable sites than there are now.  Books were the best resources I had, since I lacked a teacher.

I don’t have many books on Paganism or metaphysics.  I’m very choosy in what I buy.  Some of my favorites have been Cunningham’s various books because they make a great starting point.  I also like Penczak’s books.  I haven’t read any of Buckland’s books yet, but I’ve heard good things about them.

Although I’m a big fan of books, I also realized quite early that books can only take you so far.  Even though the books were very helpful, they couldn’t be everything I needed them to be.  I wish I could have found a teacher sooner, but that was not to be.  I still give book recommendations to people though, because they do make a great starting point for research or study.  It’s wonderful that we can publish and access so many different books on Paganism and witchcraft and all the different traditions now; I mean, just 100 years ago, this would have been unheard of, and 300-400 years ago, this kind of material would have earned you a trial.

Some favorite books/authors:

  • Scott Cunningham
  • The Witches’ Goddess, by Janet and Stewart Farrar
  • Christopher Penczak
  • Ellen Dugan
  • Psychic Tarot, by Nancy Antenucci and Melanie Howard

Some not-so-favorite books/authors:

  • Silver Ravenwolf
  • A Witch’s 10 Commandments, by Marian Singer

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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!