The Star and the Queen of Light

A couple of days ago, I mentioned how the two tarot cards I deal myself each day seem to relate more to each other than to me. Todays picks seem a particularly symbiotic pair — The Star and the Queen of Light.

This current deck is the i Tarocchi di Robot, one of the most fascinating of the decks in my collection. There is true irony is trying to delve deeper into the meaning of what it is to be fully human — which is what I understand is the purpose of the tarot — by using images of robots, the opposite of human (if anything can be considered an opposite).

The Star in this deck is about the experience of beauty, joy, fulfillment, finding inner harmony, to be centered and at peace. It’s also about hope, that light inside us that keeps us going even in the darkest times.

The Queen of Light in this deck correlates to the queen of pentacles in most decks. The suit of luci is about the light that creates rather than destroys, about the light that gives life. And that is typical of this queen because she is an earth mother type (since this is a robot deck, perhaps I should say she is a stellar mother type) filled with feminine creative energy, compassion, love, intuitive understanding, calm and balance.

Oddly, I glean the same message from these two cards as I did from the reading a couple of days ago: that my life is going well, and that I should continue to focus on creating a calm and balanced life for myself.

***

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.

More Tarot

I am continuing with my tarot studies — to the extent that doing a daily two-card reading can be considered studies — and even after more than a year, I’m not sure what to make of the cards. Although most cards do seem to resemble my life in some way, it’s the same sort of vague way that a newspaper horoscope represents one’s life. I am not learning anything about my life that I didn’t already know, and in fact, it’s my knowledge of my life that brings sense to the cards rather than the cards bringing sense to my life.

Now that I have progressed to a two-card layout (the first year was a daily one-card pick), I am noticing that even though the cards don’t seem to relate all that much to my life, they do seem to relate to each other.

For example, the other day, the cards I dealt out were the Empress and the Queen of Pentacles. As always, the question I ask is “What do I need to know today?” The first card represents my situation, the second the challenge I face.

Some readers interpret the Empress as the female principle the positive female attributes of creativity, love, abundance, intuition, nurturing, finding balance in our lives, connecting to the world through our senses. An earth mother archetype who loves beauty.

And some readers interpret the Queen of Pentacles as nurturing, filled with feminine creative energy, compassionate, hard-working, loving, intuitive. An earth mother archetype who enjoys the comforts and luxuries of life.

Such a correlation between the two cards! And a correlation between the cards and me too, I suppose, though these cards might be said to represent any woman. What I gathered from the cards is that my life is going well, and that I should continue to focus on creating a calm and balanced life for myself.

Since that’s what I am doing anyway, this personal interpretation might have nothing to do with the cards and everything to do with my own inclination. Which leads to another possibility — instead of me reading the cards, perhaps the cards are reading me.

***

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.

Odd Thoughts

Today is following the pattern of my previous two or three Mondays. I got up, did my knee exercises, made my bed, folded my quota of origami cranes, dealt two cards for a simple tarot reading, checked a few things on the computer, then drove to the mechanic’s shop.

As on the previous Mondays, I talked to the mechanic for a few minutes, then drove away. He’s dealing with some post-Bob issues, and even all these months later, isn’t back to his normal healthy self. He’s been closed the past week, and even though he’s way behind in his work, he planned to work on my car today. I didn’t want to put more pressure on him, so I made an appointment for next Monday instead.

The problem is one of the brake cylinders. Three were replaced, but the VW parts place sent the wrong part in the right box, so that fourth cylinder has to be replaced as well as — perhaps — the master cylinder. Because my brakes seem to work for the light driving I do — a few miles out and back on the four-lane highway outside of town — I can wait a while longer.

I did have an odd thought as I was driving that road — it was once part of the Santa Fe Trail, and it occurred to me that the brief journey I took today would have been an arduous, all-day trek for those folks. (Well, I did say it was an odd thought, not a deep thought.)

Once back in town, I went to the library and got a few extra books than I normally do because I wasn’t on foot. (Luckily, being a loyal and constant patron has its privileges, so they don’t hold me to the normal limit.)

And then, as I have done after coming home from a library visit ever since I was a child, I immediately grabbed a book and plopped down to read.

In the book I chose, the crime scene investigators used a CrimeScope — some sort of blue light — to check for fibers and stains, of which there were a lot. Afterward, they used Luminol to check for blood.

That’s when another odd thought popped up. I wondered what we would see if someone checked for those things in my house. After all, it’s almost one-hundred years old, and has probably seen a lot of living and maybe even some dying.

Except for purposes of this blog, I put the thought out of my mind. I don’t want to know where the invisible stains are, and I definitely don’t want to know what they are, especially since one over-night visitor claimed to have seen a ghost in my guest bedroom/office.

Which leads me to another odd thought. Why do people who think they see a ghost think they are seeing ghosts rather than that they are hallucinating? I mean, if I saw a ghost in my house, I wouldn’t get scared and think to myself, “Oh, no. A ghost.” I’d get scared and think, “What the heck is wrong with me?”

That’s enough odd thoughts for the day, though who knows. The day isn’t even half over, so there is plenty of room for more odd thoughts.

***

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

Today’s Tarot

A new month means only one thing to me — a new tarot deck. Otherwise, one month is pretty much the same as another. Well, August is certainly not the same as December, but August is similar to the end of July and the beginning of September, so the months slide right on by without a lot of fanfare. Or at least they did until I started changing tarot cards at the beginning of every month.

This month, the deck I am using is one of the classic decks: the Rider Tarot. Also known as the Rider-Waite Tarot or the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, it is one of the most widely used tarot decks in the world, with over 100 million in print. The deck was created by Arthur Edward Waite, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith, and published in 1909 by the Rider Company. In 1971, US Games Systems purchased the publishing rights, and that is the deck that I have. The copyright on the original deck is in the public domain now, so the only rights US Games Systems owns are any changes made after 1971.

One of the decks in my collection is a color-it-yourself deck — the B.O.T.A. deck. I thought coloring the cards would be an interesting way to learn the tarot, and since I didn’t want to ruin what might be a collector’s item, and since the B.O.T.A. deck is still under copyright, I downloaded a black and white copy of the Rider deck to color. Although I printed the cards on cardstock, they are too flimsy to use, and anyway, I only got through the major arcana. Someday, maybe, I’ll finish coloring the cards. But for now, this month, I’m using an official deck.

I’m also continuing my two-card reading, though I changed the layout from “Need to know/need to let go” to “situation/major challenge.” The question I ask, as always, is “What do I need to know today?”

Although many people use the tarot to learn the future, I have a sure-fire method of discovering what the future holds — get up each day and live to the best of my ability. Because, of course, today is yesterday’s future. Learning the future by living the future is a better way of foretelling the future than the tarot, because the tarot is not meant to be a divinatory tool. It’s supposed to be a way to connect one’s inner and outer life, to find guidance and gain insights, and to help with personal growth. I haven’t noticed any difference in me or my life since I’ve been doing a daily reading. Either I already know me or I am too obtuse to see anything I don’t already know. I suppose I could ask the tarot which holds true, but I’m not sure it would help to know either of those things about myself.

In the final analysis, the tarot for me is more about the discipline of it, and the curiosity — seeing what cards show up with what frequency.

In today’s reading, the nine of pentacles tells me about my situation: a time of comfort and luxury, discernment and deep satisfaction. The hierophant tells me my challenge: to learn to embrace the conventional, at least some of the time; that it’s not necessary to always be unconventional.

Does that reading help me at all? Not particularly, though it does seem to have an element of truth. It did, however, give me a blog topic, which is a help. After 679 straight days of blogging (3,155 days total), a blog topic is not always easy to find.

***

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

Tarot Classic

The tarot deck I am using this month is called “Tarot Classic,” and is based on medieval woodcuts. As with most decks, the given meanings of the cards are brief because tarot readers are supposed to assign their own interpretation to the cards based upon their impulses, subconscious, and conscious association of ideas with the symbols. I suppose some people can do that, but I am stuck with traditional interpretations because I look at the cards and feel . . . nothing, really. Luckily, I have a notebook full of various interpretations, so I can get a general idea of what each card is supposed to signify.

Today starts my second year of doing a daily tarot reading. Up until now, I’ve just picked one card per day, but it’s time to expand my studies, so today I picked two cards. Wow! So daring! I’m being silly, but I suppose in a way it is daring. It was hard enough to relate one card to my daily life, I can’t image what I will do with two. Still, it’s a way of using the dozens of tarot decks that were handed down to me from my now deceased brother.

Most layouts seem to be done with five or more cards, but even with two cards, there are myriad ways of reading. For example, the first card can demonstrate a strength, the second a weakness. Or perhaps the first can represent an emotion, the second a thought. Other possible readings:

Valid fear/invalid fear
Fear/reality
Perception/reality
Mistake made/lesson learned
Pros/cons
What empowers/what disempowers
Situation/main challenge
If this, then what
What to act on/what to leave alone.

A two-card layout can be about almost anything. So can a one-card, really, but I stuck with “What do I need to know today?” I decided to stick with the same question as well as adding an addendum for the second card, “What do I need to let go today?”

The first card was the Empress, the second the four of swords. (I got a kick out of the four ones for the Roman numeral four rather than the usual IV.)

The Empress is about beauty, creativity, entering a period of growth, feeling rather than thinking, being grateful for the bounty that surrounds you. The four of swords is about rest, replenishment, letting go of anxiety, taking time out to restore your energy.

I suppose those two cards fit — if what I need to know today is that I’m going to be entering a time of growth, then for sure I need to let go of any anxieties that might be keeping me back.

Even if that’s not what the cards mean, apparently the tarot means whatever anyone wants it to mean, so that’s what those cards mean to me today.

***

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.

Belief in the Tarot

Yesterday a friend told me she didn’t believe in the tarot. To be honest, I’m not sure I believe either, though I don’t exactly know what I mean by that. Obviously, I believe the cards exist because I have a few dozen decks. I believe they’ve been around for centuries. I believe that the cards have meanings, though I don’t know if those meanings are intrinsic or if they are simply assigned, especially since the cards themselves as well as their meanings have changed over the centuries. And I believe that they help people focus and perhaps help them delve deeper into their problems.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what there is to believe. Although people think the tarot is for for telling the future, those who study the cards say that’s not their purpose. Although the cards are said to help develop one’s psychic abilities, I have yet to see any evidence of that. I also don’t know if readings truly reflect anything in the past, present, or future, or if people simply read into the cards what they want to see. Nor do I find any deeper understanding of myself because of my card use. It’s possible, I suppose, that I have no hidden depths or even hidden shallows, that what I know is all there is.

This talk of belief and non-belief has made me wonder if it is necessary to believe in the tarot for it to work. If belief is all it takes, then one can use any sort of cards, such as a regular deck of playing cards (which some people do) or even seed packets, for that matter. Though perhaps “seed packets” are not a good example because in a lot of respects, seed packets can tell the future, at least for most people. Those people plant the seeds, and someday the picture on the packet will come true. In my case, I’m lucky to get a few scraggly seedlings.

If one’s own belief doesn’t matter, then it should be possible to learn something from the cards, if only to understand what they symbolize and what they mean to others.

After all (to continue the gardening metaphor) I have no belief in my ability to grow anything, though sometimes seeds do come up, and sometimes bushes I’ve transplanted do bloom, like this native rose.

Regardless of what I believe, I plan to continue learning the tarot. It’s certainly a multi-faceted study if nothing else.

***

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.

When the Clouds Stopped Bursting

It rained most of the night, and when the clouds stopped bursting, they left behind a dark and damp day. The tarot card I picked this morning wasn’t any cheerier — it spoke of strife and quarrels, illness and inner conflicts. Luckily, none of those things seem to have anything to do with me, but today was a good day for huddling under the covers and reading, and the books I got from the library are full of all those things.

When the story I was reading became as dreary as the day, I went online and basked in the light of the computer screen to do more research on the tarot. My latest plan of action is to finish out my tarot year (begun on July 1, 2020) with one-card readings, then go to two-cards for a month, then three-cards for the next month, then four cards . . . well, you get the point. Apparently, a person can use any number of cards for a reading, even using the whole deck, though I can’t imagine trying to make sense of that bit of chaos.

I’d planned to use a specific deck for that second phase, the deck that so far seems the only one to speak to me — if a vague affinity can be called “speaking” — but I haven’t yet finished sampling all the decks. If I continued the way I’ve been going, learning each deck by doing a one-card reading for a month, it would take me another year or two to try out all the traditional 78-card decks I have, and then another year for the specialty decks. Most decks, of course, combine the Major Arcana (the twenty-two cards depicting the human archetypes that show a person’s spiritual evolution into enlightenment) with the Minor Arcana (the court cards and the numbered cards), but I have a few decks that are simply the twenty-two Major Arcana cards, while a palmistry deck seems to be just the Minor Arcana. The Persian tarot has fifty-five cards. The Oracle of the Triad has fifty-seven cards. The Chinese Horoscope has forty-seven. The Book of Destiny deck has thirty-three cards. A cartomancy deck has thirty-two. If that isn’t confusion enough, I also have a Deva Tarot deck that has an additional suit called the Triax, for a total of ninety-three cards.

So many options and possibilities!

That, I think is what keeps me interested in the Tarot — the possibilities. I’m sticking with the traditional decks for now because that’s where I find most of the focus for study, both online and in the books I own, but even there, I find a plethora of possibility. There seems to be a vast array of spreads and layouts, and an even greater number of ways to read each spread.

There are also secret codes and arcane symbols on the cards adding further complexity to readings if one chooses to consider them in order to find deeper meaning. According to one interpreter, he keeps his interpretations of the cards brief because if he gave all the various meanings of the cards, he could fill an encyclopedia. Still, it amuses me that so many of the books accompanying the decks will spend pages describing each of the cards, defining the symbols, explaining the codes, and then, at the end of those pages will give the card’s meaning in a single sentence. I really don’t see the purpose of all those symbols and images and codes if it all just comes down to a few keywords.

But then, I am a neophyte. Maybe ten years from now, when I’ve learned much about the cards, I’ll be able to understand, but for now, not so much. Mostly, this research is a way to play with the cards I inherited from my deceased brother, rather than simply treating them like a curiosity.

And it gives me something to think about on this dreary day.

Besides, you never know — I might actually learn something important from all this research and study and practice.

***

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

Two-Card Tarot Spread

I’ve been doing a daily one-card tarot reading for the past ten-and-a-half months. I plan to finish out my “tarot” year with the one-card reading, then graduate to a daily two-card reading. To that end, I’ve been researching how to do a two-card reading, but even something as simple as that is as confusing as the rest of the tarot information.

For example, there is no such thing as simply choosing the two cards and laying them out since there are several ways of doing it. A reader can shuffle the cards, deal two cards off the top and lay them side by side. Or a reader can shuffle the deck, cut it, lay the two piles side by side, then turn over the two top cards. Or a reader can shuffle the cards, fan them out, and pick two cards and lay them side by side. The side-by-side layout supposedly gives the two cards more or less an equal strength.

Another possibility is to do one of the above ways of laying out the cards, but instead of side by side, one is dealt beneath the other, which gives the lower card a supporting role.

A third possibility is to shuffle the cards, deal one card upright, then deal a second card sideways over that card to cross it. Or deal one card sideways and deal the crossing card upright. Whichever way, it’s still basically the same thing — the bottom card is your situation or question, and the crossing card shows what is crossing you or challenging you.

As if that weren’t enough, there are all sorts of possibilities for the reading of the cards.

For example, in the side-by-side layout, the cards can show two different possibilities, such as yes and no; if this then that; a valid fear and an invalid fear; perception vs. reality; what you need vs. what you want; what you need to act on and what to leave alone; what you know vs what you need to know; what to banish and what to attract; your strength and your weakness; a mistake you made and what you can learn from it; what you are feeling and what you are thinking.

The top card in an up and down layout can show things like what your situation is or what you need to know and the bottom card can give any extra information that might further explain the top card. (Though it seems as if these would work just as well in a side-by-side layout.)

The crossing cards can show things like what your goal is and what is blocking you; what is blocking you and what the solution is; what your ideal is and what you are settling for; what your situation is and what your obstacle, challenge, or adversary might be; a possible opportunity and what might prevent you from following up on the opportunity; what is happening today and what you need to resolve; your state of mind and what problem you face because of it; how you perceive a situation and what the situation really is.

My first quandary, of course, would be how to lay out the cards. Up until now, I have been shuffling the cards, fanning them and then picking one rather than dealing the card from the top of the deck. I could continue to do that, but since I think I’d like to do a reading choosing one major arcana card with a supplementary minor card, I could also shuffle each stack, lay them side by side, then turn up the top card.

Generally, when a person does a reading, they need to ask the cards a question. Since I have no real desire to know anything in the future (since obviously, I will find out what the future is going to be once I get there), and since I think I’m fairly self-aware (the cards have not told me anything about myself that I didn’t already know), mostly I ask “What do I need to know today?”

So my second quandary is: if I continue asking that same question, how would I know what the second card means? Is it an explanation? Is it a challenge of some sort? Is it showing my fears or something else that could be stopping me from knowing what I need to know? Do I have to figure out ahead of time what the second card could represent, or would I try to figure it out from the card itself?

My third quandary would be how long to do a two-card spread before I continue to a three-card layout. Do I do it for a year as with the one-card or just wait to see how I feel?

I don’t suppose any of this really matters. All I know for sure is that it’s a good thing I have several weeks before I have to make any sort of decision.

***

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.

Tarot — My Next Step

It seems strange to me that although a tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards, almost all the deep studies focus on the Major Arcana (the twenty-two cards depicting the human archetypes that show a person’s spiritual evolution into enlightenment).

The other 58 cards in a tarot deck are classified as the minor arcana. The minor arcana is sometimes divided into two also, with forty cards being called “spot” or “pip” cards, and sixteen being the court cards (what are known as face cards in a normal card deck).

Most books about the tarot speak only of the Major Arcana, giving detailed descriptions of the cards, information about the symbolism on each card, as well as an extensive interpretation. Very little is said of the minor arcana. Even the books that are geared specifically to certain decks, give barely more information than is in the small leaflet included with most decks. Most of those books seem to be fill, devoting much space to a description of each card, which seems redundant. After all, I can see what the card looks like. What I don’t know is what it means.

Because of this, I have compiled my own book of interpretations of the minor arcana gleaned from a variety of sources. Still, the biggest emphasis is on the Major Arcana which leads me to believe that those twenty-two cards are the real power and the rest of the cards are more like helper cards to further develop a theme created by a layout of the Major Arcana.

In fact, there are tarot decks (some of which I have) that only include the Major Arcana, and there are divinatory spreads that only use the Major Arcana.

I am about to graduate from a daily single-card tarot pick to a two-card spread so I can begin learn how to read the cards and to figure out how they influence one another. Oddly, it’s hard to find such information. Most sites or books that talk about the various spreads will say what each card stands for in the spread, but not how to read them. Mostly, they say to rely on your intuition.

The first year of using the decks my brother collected was set aside for single-card readings. The year will be up in less than two months, so I need to figure out the next step in my tarot education. This second year (or at least the first month or two) will be for two-cards so I can begin to get an idea of how they influence one another.

My idea is that since the Major Arcana is . . . well, major, I should choose one card from the Major Arcana to answer my question (which is usually “What do I need to know today?) and then choose a card from the Minor Arcana to further develop the thought in some way.

Another possibility, of course, would be just to use the Major Arcana, but I wonder if that would limit my education too much.

A third possibility would be to forget the easy two- and three-card layouts and go directly to a complicated spread, then spend a week deciphering it. (All the tarot folk say not to do a major spread every day, but how else does one learn?)

I still have a couple of months to decide what to do.

Wait! I just thought of something — I could ask the Tarot what my next step should be!

***

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.

The Magickal Tarot

The tarot deck I am using this month is called The Magickal Tarot, though I’m not sure what makes it magical other than that the cards are supposed to be symbolic representations of the seventy-eight non-physical entities that rule the inner workings of the cosmos. Whatever that means. And anyway, if it’s true that the tarot is a representative of those entities, all tarot decks would be just as magical.

It’s a strange deck, at least to my eyes, with weird artwork. What makes it even stranger is that the artist used an interpretation of symbolism derived from Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth, so by all rights, I should have skipped this deck and gone straight to Crowley’s Thoth Tarot Deck, but I chose this deck because it seemed to be an interesting look at the cards. Instead of a single interpretation of each card, he broke it down into three separate sections per card, a moral level, a mental level, and a material level, which I thought would give me a greater understanding of the cards. Unfortunately, he only did this for the Major Arcana (the twenty-two cards depicting human archetypes that show a person’s spiritual evolution into enlightenment).

For the minor arcana (the fifty-two cards that are similar to a regular pack of cards plus an extra face card per suit) he did what everyone else does — gives a simple interpretation.

Even worse, from my point of view, the interpretation of the card in the book is often at odds with the card itself.

For example, today’s card was the ten of cups, which is basically a card of good fortune and success, harmony and fulfillment. And yet the card itself mentions satiety and conflicting elements. The difference could be one of interpretation — after all, the artist didn’t write the book, he only created the cards.

Still, for all the drawbacks, I’ll stick with the deck. Who knows, I might learn something I wouldn’t otherwise know if I had passed on it. Besides, the month will be over soon, and I’ll be able to use a different deck, perhaps one that really does seem magical.

***

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.