Today’s Tarot Reading

Although I continue to do a brief tarot reading every morning for practice, the cards still don’t tell me much of anything. In fact, they generally seem too disjointed to tell any sort of story, whether mine or anyone else’s. Nor do I see a metaphor for my life in the cards, which is what some people believe a tarot reading is — a metaphor for the querant’s life. The querant, for those who don’t know anything about the tarot, is the person seeking answers. In my case, I am both the reader and the querant, so perhaps I’m too close to the querant’s situation to make sense of the cards.

Unlike most people, I don’t ask the cards specific questions; I stick with a generic, “What do I need to know today?”

Apparently, since I don’t glean anything more specific than bad things happened or will happen, or good things happened or will happen, I don’t need to know anything else. But then, that’s pretty much life, isn’t it? Those good and bad things that happened or will happen don’t need to be anything earthshaking because except for a few truly earthshaking moments — births, love, death — most of life is about small happenings.

I suppose I could change my question to see if I get any other sort of result with a different query, but the truth is, I don’t really need the cards for answers to life’s questions. I don’t seek insights into the past because the past is done with. I don’t care to know what will happen in the future because if I live long enough — a day, week, year, whatever — I will experience the future firsthand. I don’t need a metaphor for my life because I am living my life, metaphor or no. I certainly don’t rely on the cards to give me investment advice or anything like that because . . . well, for one thing, I have no funds to invest, and for another, if I have to rely on myself to interpret the cards, I might as well rely on myself to interpret the various investment possibilities.

Still, it’s possible that someday a certain tarot deck, the preponderance of my readings, a greater understanding will all click, and then I will know . . . something.

Meantime, there is my daily practice.

Despite my earlier declaration that the cards generally don’t tell a story, today’s three-card reading did, at least to an extent. The first card, the four of swords tells what happened in the past. (After facing multiple crises, you needed time for solitude and getting ready to face new challenges). The second card, the ten of swords, hints at the results of that past. (Pain, loss, desolation, but in that darkness are the seeds of hope.) The third card, the four of wands, suggests what will happen next or what actions will need to be taken. (Country life, work/life balance, peace, a sense that our projects are a wider expression of who we are.)

Did this reading change anything about my life or tell me anything I didn’t know? Well, no, but it did give me a blog topic, and that’s not a small thing.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Telling a Tarot Story

I don’t often deal out tarot readings for myself that make a lot of sense. The cards seldom tell me anything I don’t know, mostly because all I can do is read what I know into the cards. Even leaving me out of the reading, the cards still don’t make sense since they don’t seem to relate to one another. Today’s reading, however, delighted me because the cards all fit together to tell a story.

The deck I’ve been using this month is the Renaissance Tarot Deck, a deck that reflects interests of that period, using deities of Olympus and other mythological gods and goddesses. The ordinary folk, such as the court cards (ordinary in comparison with the classical deities, that is) are dressed in garments from the era.

I’ve never used this deck before because I wasn’t sure I liked the anatomically correct nakedness, but I’ve come to appreciate this deck. It helps knowing that the naked people aren’t people at all but various mythological beings. Still, in the photo accompanying this post, I castrated the poor fellows, lest I offend anyone with such “pornography.” (I have a hard enough time with how people perceive this blog without adding fuel to the fire.)

The first card, representing the past, was the eight of swords. The picture is Achilles grieving for his friend Patrocius, who was killed by the spear of Hector of Troy. The meaning of the card is emotional disaster, loss of a beloved person or a valued situation, a sadness that creates new strength and resolve.

The second card, representing the present, is the ten of cups. The picture is Psyche and Eros in perfect happiness, reunited in a marriage feast on Olympus. The meaning, of course, is happiness in love, balance in friendship, and joyful equanimity in oneself.

The third card, representing the future, is the two of cups. The picture is of Eros falling in love with Psyche. The meaning is love at first sight, the invisible and formidable bond between two people.

So, the story of the cards is loss, finding eventual joy and a new balance and, if this were a romance novel, finding a new love. But since this isn’t a romance novel, since the reading is only good until the next reading (tomorrow morning), and since the chances of me meeting and falling in love with someone this afternoon are nil, the future card has to mean that the bond between Jeff and me is still strong, in my own mind if not in fact.

Or something like that.

Whatever the cards actually mean (as opposed to what I say they mean), it does seem as if these particular cards tell a very linear and distinct story.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Practicing the Tarot

Tomorrow starts a new month, which means I need to pick out a different tarot deck to use. I still haven’t found one that I have any special affinity for, so I am still in the habit of rotating decks to give me an opportunity to learn each of them. (Each of them in my collection, that is.)

Tomorrow also starts a new year. The first year of doing a daily tarot reading for myself, I picked one card. The second year, I picked two. Starting tomorrow, I’ll pick three, which means that not only do I have to choose a different deck, I have to decide what sort of reading I am going to do since there are an unlimited number of possibilities for a three-card reading.

A few examples:

Past, present, future
Situation, Obstacle, Advice
Opportunities, Challenges, Outcome
Your strengths, your weaknesses, how you can progress
Current situation, action to take, outcome
What will help me, what will hinder me, what is my unrealized potential
How to accept a change, how to care for yourself during the change, how to center yourself,
This happened, this was the result, this is what I need to do now

Lots of choices. Come to think of it, I should have done a reading today to figure out what my next reading should be!

The most common three-card reading is past, present, and future. The past can be anything in the far or near past that happened to affect you, either for good or bad. (If you’re doing a weekly reading, the past is the week since the previous reading, so if I am doing a daily reading, the past could be yesterday.) The present can be the current situation or current challenges. The future can indicate the outcome of the present situation or the direction things are moving. Another way of looking at the past, present, future reading is the final item on my example list: this happened, this was the result, this is what I need to do. That’s the one I am leaning toward, though it’s my game, so I can change the focus of the reading every month if I want so I can learn various three-card spreads.

That’s not the end of the choices. Next I have to decide how to pull the cards for the layout. Up until now, I’ve shuffled the deck, fanned out the cards, and picked the cards — one card the first year, two cards the second year.

I could continue fanning the deck and pulling random cards, or I could cut the deck then deal out the top three cards, or I could split the deck into three piles and then turn over the top card of each pile. I’m leaning toward the final way, though knowing me, I’ll end up just pulling random cards. That’s what I did when I started my two-card reading: split the deck into two piles and then turned over the top card. I don’t remember why I reverted to pulling cards, but that’s how I ended the year.

I’m not really sure why I’m continuing with the daily readings since they don’t seem to be telling me anything about myself or even about the cards overall. (I still don’t know the meaning of the cards individually without looking them up — I’d hoped that the daily use of the cards would help me memorize them, but it hasn’t happened, and I don’t know if it matters.) The main reason I’m starting a three-card reading is that I’m following through on a long-term plan. I’d probably get just as much out of the tarot if I went back to a one-card reading and spent more time figuring out what that card has to do with my life, but I should learn how to fit the cards together. (That’s why I’m leaning toward the final item on my example list — it lends itself easily to telling a story.)

Still, you never know — it’s possible something will come of my daily tarot exercise no matter how many cards I use. And if not, well, I have all those decks and plenty of time, so I might as well keep on practicing the tarot.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Day for Friendship

The first year that I did a daily tarot reading, I used a single card. This second year I used two cards. Next month starts my third year, and I’ll probably graduate to a three-card reading. Not that I’m learning anything much either about the tarot or myself, but you never know. If there’s anything to learn, I’m sure I’ll eventually learn it, and if not, well, it’s as good a way to start the day as any other.

Mostly the reading is rote — I pick the cards, look up their meanings and try to figure out how the two cards fit together. Sometimes there seems no discernable relationship; other times, it’s obvious.

Last night, I dreamt of a wedding. I’m not sure who was getting married, though I tend to think it was one of my sisters. The main thing I remember about the dream, other than the talk of her getting married, is that the bridesmaids dresses were going to be brown. This morning’s tarot cards were the four of wands and the ten of cups. In the deck I am currently using, the Egorov Tarot, the four of wands is about completion, prosperity and satisfaction, and love affairs leading to a wedding. The ten of cups is about true happiness in love and friendship, and weddings.

I must admit, this reading amused me, reflecting, as it did, my dream of an upcoming wedding rather than any real-life experience.

Today was a day for friendships, however, so the cards got that right. One friend stopped by this morning to return a pattern for a paper project that she’d borrowed. We chatted for a while until it was time for me to get ready to host a different friend for tea out in my gazebo. Since today was vastly cooler than the past couple of days, this seemed a good time to try out my new gazebo furniture.

The chairs were comfortable, though after our tea, we took a walk to the dollar store to check to see what sort of cushions they might have. Although I liked the cushions I found, I wasn’t sure I needed them. It just seemed as if they would be more things to have to take care of. We also decided the furniture would be able to withstand the elements better without any cushions, so that’s how we left it.

On my way home, I visited with another friend in the middle of the street. The only time I see this woman, it seems, is happenstance when I’m out walking and she’s out driving. Hence our visits in the middle of the road.

That was the best thing about today — seeing friends.

I still feel a bit sick at the desiccated swath of grass (the only good thing about the desiccation is I’ve finally learned to spell desiccate, just as the only good thing about high temperatures is finally learning how to spell Fahrenheit). I’m pretty sure what happened to that grass is that there are no reserves of water beneath that part of the lawn since that patch of grass is being grown over an area that once was part of a gravel driveway. Although there wasn’t much gravel to be seen when the sod was laid, I have a hunch there were many layers of buried gravel beneath the dirt. So, great drainage, but poor sustainability. I’m not giving up, though. The grass did fine for many months, and if I can get resuscitate it, I’m sure it will again do fine. Meantime, I’ll be watering that patch every day for a while.

Many of the plants that were also affected by those hot, arid winds have recovered though, not surprisingly, the Siberian wallflower had no use for the heat and is struggling.

Still, there are plenty of flowers and greenery to enjoy, especially when I’m sitting in my gazebo, on my new chairs, sipping iced tea with a friend.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Momentous Day

This is turning out to be rather a momentous day. Shortly after I woke up, I heard banging. I kept looking outside at the neighbors’ houses, trying to see what was going on. I even stepped outside for a minute to peek across the alley, but I couldn’t see anyone doing any sort of work.

The banging continued, and then I heard the sound of a pipe reverberating near my house, which made me realize the banging was in my yard. So I went back outside and walked around the house, and there was one of the people who has been sporadically working on my property. He was pounding in the metal edging between the path and the grass to make it easier for me to mow. It was supposed to be done anyway, so it wasn’t a special consideration, but still I was thrilled to see him doing the work today. It’s been a while since anyone stopped by to anything. (The last time was when they came to check the plumbing to make sure a leak didn’t account for my exorbitant water bill.)

He did a few other minor chores while he was here, and we talked about some of the work that needed to be done (apparently, this worker is one that my contractor trusts to do my work). He says he’ll be back, and I’m sure he will . . . some day. Still, I’m delighted that a bit of work was done!

My tarot reading amused me today since it seemed to reflect the work he did: “What was accomplished up to now gets an even greater boost.” A secondary meaning to my reading was: “Everything grows and becomes more abundant.” For sure!! Weeds, anyone? Lots and lots of weeds are growing everywhere.

Adding to the momentousness, today is the birthday of a tree in Denver’s City Park near where I grew up. Shakespeare’s Elm, a tree planted from a scion taken from the tree on Shakespeare’s grave, is 106 years old today. The tree was always special to me. In fact, a friend and I threw birthday parties for the tree many years ago. We’d sent out invitations to friends as well as the media and some city bigwigs, but the only people who showed up besides those we knew were a couple of cops. We made them welcome, gave them green punch and tree cookies, but they weren’t really there to party. They were scoping out the gathering, thinking perhaps it was . . . I don’t . . . some sort of drug rendezvous. Anyway, after about a half an hour, they looked at each other, and one said with amazement in his voice, “They really are having a party for this tree.”

Back then, it was a forgotten historical monument, but over the years, there have been several articles in the Denver newspapers and magazines showcasing that amazing tree.

So all in all, a momentous day, and it’s not even over yet!

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Decisive Action

I find it interesting how often, when I do a two-card tarot reading, that the keyword in the meaning of first card is repeated in the second card. For example, the first card of today’s reading was the Seven of Sceptres. (In this deck, the Ibis Tarot, the sceptres replace the wands.) The meaning of this card as set out by Josef Machynka (the Austrian artist who designed the Ibis Tarot) is “a victory” brought about by a person with “the necessary discernment and intelligence. Obstacles, arguments, and resistance are overcome by decisive action.”

The meaning of the second card I drew today, The Magician, is “a mature, spiritually developed person with sharp intelligence and great insight” who is “capable of acting decisively and correctly.”

So I acted decisively, and made plans to take a walk. I also took decisive action by calling a friend to see if she wanted to go with me. Later, I took decisive action and determined the route. It was no big deal — we had just naturally continued along the street where we met, and using my sharp intelligence, I noticed that there was a lot of traffic on the road, so I suggested we walk along an adjacent street.

When I returned home, I took more decisive action by fixing myself a meal, and then decisively reading on the couch while I ate. And then I took a nap. There was no decisiveness involved in that particular action, nor was there any intelligence involved. I simply drifted off. I suppose you could say it was the correct thing to do since apparently, I was tired after my time in the sun and wind.

And now here I am, poking around on the keyboard, being neither decisive nor particularly intelligent, though I am managing to do the correct thing and get today’s blog written.

Facetiousness aside, the Ibis Tarot is an interesting deck. It is about the width of a deck of playing cards, but a little longer, which makes an attractive deck, though the size feels awkward. It’s also the remaking of a much older deck, one that has been around since the nineteenth century. The original Ibis Tarot was the creation (or perhaps recreation of an even earlier deck) of Edgar de Valcourt-Vermont. The poor design of those cards kept them from being widely appreciated. Josef Machynka spent years researching ancient Egyptian culture and tarot-related topics so this Tarot is a combination of old Egyptian and modern forms as well as the commonly accepted elements of traditional Tarot.

The Ibis Tarot is certainly visually appealing, and the tiny handbook that comes with the deck is as detailed as the bigger companion books that are often sold with other Tarots. (That sort of book irritates me. They seem as if they should be chock full of interesting information or mystical insights, but mostly they include long descriptions of the cards that anyone can see at a glance, with only a brief guide as to the card’s meaning.)

I still haven’t found “my tarot,” the one that will talk to me and tell me things not included in the handbooks, but this one seems closer than most.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Today’s Tarot Cards

I’m still doing my daily two-card tarot reading, and will continue until July when I begin a three-card reading. I still don’t know what I hope to gain from the study of the tarot. It isn’t a great prognosticator; from what I’ve read, although the tarot is used for cartomancy (fortunetelling using cards), it isn’t supposed to be a fortunetelling tool. Which is good for me because I really don’t want to know the future. Obviously, I will know the future when I get there (though we can never really arrive at the future because “the future” is always ahead of us), but I don’t see any benefit to knowing either the good or the bad before it happens. All I can do is the best I can do each day, and hope those myriad small decisions lead me to where I need to be.

A lot of people use the tarot to help them make decisions, but again, that’s not something I need help with. At least not now. So many of the important decisions in my recent life have been made, such as where to move to, what to do once I get there, if I should buy a house, if I should get a job. The little decisions take care of themselves.

The real purpose of the tarot, or so they say, is to offer insights into our lives, to help us see our thoughts and behaviors (both past and present) more objectively, and to give us a better understanding of ourselves to help create a better future. It’s like an in-depth discussion with yourself, or if you’re doing a reading for someone else, the discussion is between you and that person. Although the tarot makes sense to me in this regard, it’s as little help to me as using the cards to tell the future or make decisions.

So far, in the almost two years I’ve been doing a daily reading (first, a one-card reading and now a two-card reading), I don’t think I’ve learned anything about myself that I didn’t already know. I’m sure there’s much that I don’t know — to be honest, I think there is much we can’t know — but so far, the cards haven’t been helping me reach any deeper understanding. Part of the problem, I suppose, could be in the question I ask. Since I don’t have any questions (I’ve pretty much given up on asking the unanswerable questions, and the answerable questions are easy enough to find answers to), I stick with “What do I need to know today?” And the answer often seems to be, “not much of anything.”

I do find it interesting that at times the cards seem to reflect what I am thinking (though that can be more a matter of my reading into the cards whatever it is that I am thinking). More often, they repeat themselves. For example, in today’s reading, the Six of Cups is about wish fulfillment. It’s also a reminder to see the beauty around us, to find pleasure in simple things, and to become more appreciative of the world. The Empress is about abundance and creativity. She calls us to connect with beauty to bring happiness to our lives.

Admittedly, that’s a nice reading, but does it tell me anything or bring to the fore any new insights? Nope. I already try to see the beauty around me, to find pleasure in little things, to appreciate the world with its beauty and bounty, though I suppose a reminder to continue trying to do so doesn’t hurt.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Changes

I’m getting over a rather severe allergy attack that kept me idle all weekend — a lot of rest punctuated by ginger-lemon tea and reading. Normally such an attack comes when I’ve let the furnace filter go too long without changing it, but that wasn’t the case this time, so I didn’t think it was the culprit. I changed it anyway. As it turned out, the filter was dark with dust, darker than normal, but I’d changed to a filter with a higher MSR (Micorparticle Performance Rating), so perhaps this filter does a better job of collecting dust than the previous one I used. Maybe, now that the filter is changed, my allergies will settle back down and give me a respite from the aggravation.

One thing I was remiss in changing is my water filter. I always let it go a couple of extra months because there is just me drinking the filtered water, and I haven’t been doing a good job of imbibing the stuff straight. I just use tap water for making tea, which I think is okay. The water here has a pretty good rating now, though once upon a time it was terrible — terrible tasting and terribly high in naturally occurring radioactive particles as well as contaminants from agricultural runoff. I hedge my bets by drinking tea with tap water, filtering the water for drinking, and occasionally buying bottled water (mostly because the bottles are easy to stow in a pocket or a purse). A water pipeline bringing water directly from the mountains has been in the works for decades, which is great, but by the time it gets all the way out here, I’ll be gone.

Since I’m talking about all the things I’ve changed today, this first day of the month, I might as well mention that I’ve changed tarot decks, too. This deck, I Tarocchi delle Stelle, is much more pleasing to me than the one I used last month. The cards have a good feel — both physically and psychically — at least compared to last month’s cards, and even though they are much larger than playing cards, I can still shuffle them without too much trouble.  The instruction booklet is written in an archaic dialect of Italian, which seems a bit ludicrous since the deck was published in 1991, but I can use the meanings I’ve collected from various sources to interpret the cards.

To my amusement, when I googled these cards trying again to see if I could find a translation of the booklet, I found a previous blog post of mine: I Tarocchi delle Stelle | Bertram’s Blog

In case you’re interested, today’s cards are the seven of wands and the king of pentacles. The seven of wands is about obstacles and overcoming opposition. The king of pentacles indicates that the way to overcoming is by being practical and methodical. (Actually, even if you’re not interested, those are still today’s cards.)

These are all the changes I’ve made today. So far, anyway. Most of the day is still to come.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Strife, Strife, and More Strife

This is one of those perfect days: clear blue skies, bright sun, light-jacket temperatures, still air. Admittedly, there are a lot of such days throughout the year, but there’s something even more perfect about such a day appearing between two glacial fronts. You delight in the warmth when coming out of a cold spell, and you make a special effort to enjoy the day when more cold weather is on the way. (Tomorrow will another warm day, but desperate winds will be blowing in a new storm that will drop the temperature more than 60 degrees tomorrow night.)

In memory of the cold weather we just had and in preparation for the cold to come, I am making chili, which also adds to the perfection of the day. I like to cook but I don’t often feel like making big batches of anything, so there will be enough to last a while. Also, this is Jeff’s chili recipe. It took me almost a year after he died before I could make it (even the thought of the meals we shared made me sick to my stomach). It’s been two years since the last I made his chili, though I don’t really know why except that I haven’t been cooking much of anything that takes an effort.

I have also the windows open to air out the place. It never smells musty, which is interesting for such an old house, but the air coming in makes the house smell sweet and clean.

Considering the perfection of the day, it’s odd that my two-card tarot today was all about strife. The first card, the five of wands is about violent strife and contest, boldness, and rashness. The second card, which is supposed to temper the first card, is The Emperor, which in this deck is about war, strife, war, conquest, and ambition.

Admittedly, my question “what do I need to know today” is so vague the response is not necessarily about me, so although I am planning on taking care of myself and keeping calm so there’s no strife in my life today, I can’t do anything about what is going on in the rest of the world — strife, strife, and more strife. I’m not sure why I need to know this, but I do know it anyway. Even if I didn’t want to know (which I don’t) it’s hard not to learn of such things.

I suppose it’s possible the tarot is telling me to enjoy my strifeless time as I do the interval between two winter storms, because like it or not, there will always be strife.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Ritual Tarot

The tarot cards I am using this month are The New Dawn Ritual Tarot. The deck is based on the traditional teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It touted itself as the tarot deck of the 1990s (it was published in 1991), and was geared toward people who wanted to get back to the basics of Ceremonial Magick.

I’ve waited this long to use this particular deck because the cards never appealed to me. The cards themselves seem to be cardboard without any sort of slick coating to make them easy to shuffle and deal, which is bad enough, but the designs are also off-putting. Still, I have the cards as well as an oversize 230-page book, so I figured I should at least try to learn something from this particular tarot. So far, the only thing I’ve learned is that my original assessment holds true: these cards don’t at all appeal to me.

As for the book, it gives the history of the tarot, an account of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an examination of the principles of the Qabalah (an ancient mystical system that more or less parallels the tarot), and explains a variety of rituals and divination procedures specifically “designed for magickal work with the Tarot.”

Mostly, the book describes in great detail each card, telling us what we are seeing (though why they need to point out the red and yellow and black parts of a card when the colors are obvious even to the most disinterested person, I don’t know). The book also describes what each part of the card signifies, how the card relates to the Qabalah, what the cards significance is to the earth and the solar system. Two pages to describe a card, but when it comes to discussing the meaning of the card itself, all they can come up with is a brief phrase. In other words, that huge book says nothing more what the booklet that came with the cards says.

I suppose for those who are deep into the mystique of the tarot, all the intricacies of the card are important, and perhaps someday I will be interested enough to delve further into the cards, but for now, all I need to know is what they mean.

Today’s cards are the six of pentacles, which means “success and gain in material undertakings,” and the ten of swords, which means “ruin, defeat, disruption.” An interesting combination, right? The cards seem to negate each other, though I suppose it could also mean that I will find some sort of success today followed immediately the ruination of that success. Or . . . something.

I’m still searching for a tarot deck that speaks to me, one that I might care to learn about its intricacies beyond the few divinatory words that usually pertain to the cards, but this is not such a deck.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.