Interviewing your Deck

Bonding with a New Deck

I view my decks as some might view their boyfriends/girlfriends in a polyamorous relationship. One won’t do, but I want a few select lovers. I think if you have too many, you can’t give them all the love and attention they require, nor can they give you what you require. I know collectors and tarot enthusiasts who have hundreds of decks, but this will never be me. I want less than 5 – 10 close friends on my shelf.

Still, it is so exciting to receive a new deck. Whenever you get a new tarot deck, you should immediately get to know it and attempt to bond with it. A tarot deck is a close friend! This probably seems crazy to people who aren’t into tarot, but decks are a sacred thing that you need to bond with and nurture in order to have a good relationship.

Here are some of the usual (wacky) things I do to bond with a new deck:
  • Hold it as much as possible.
  • Shuffle it in my free time.
  • Sleep with it under my pillow.
  • Talk to it.
  • Breathe on it.
  • Take it with me everywhere I go.
  • Burn sage and let the smoke cleanse it.
  • Thank it for what it will teach me.
  • Ask it questions and learn about it.

Yesterday I received the new Wild Unknown tarot deck (which you can read about here), and after a thorough shuffle and thanks I conducted what is called a “deck interview.”

I asked the deck the following questions…

What kind of tarot deck are you? What card sums up your personality?
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I am a deck of new beginnings that are prosperous and fruitful. I enjoy helping people succeed with their finances and material security.
What issues/areas of life do you specialize in?
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I help you see things clearly and see the facts. I am very knowledgeable but I can be blunt. When your emotions muddle your thoughts I will help you cut through the nonsense and see what is really going on.
How can you best help me?
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I can help you when you are sad and feeling heartbroken. I will lift you out of your gloom.
What quality is most important in a tarot reader?
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A tarot reader needs to be strong and determined to see what is being revealed. Working with the tarot can be challenging and a tarot reader must have a strong will to become a master.
How do you see our relationship?

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Ouch! You see our relationship as a burden? I promise to go easy on you and to take your advice the first time you give it so you won’t feel so overwhelmed at the thought of working with me.
I look forward to a long, prosperous relationship with the Wild Unknown. I hope you find the perfect deck (or decks) to bond with on your tarot journey!

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The Wild Unknown 

Diving into the Wild Unknown

(This post contains expletives)

Here in the United States, yesterday was Election Day, but I will more fondly remember yesterday at the day MY MOTHERFUCKING WILD UNKNOWN tarot deck finally arrived!

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I was so excited to finally have this deck in my possession, having ordered it on September 25th and being forced to wait what felt like forever. Once I took it out of the Amazon packaging I promptly poured myself a big glass of wine and filmed my first unboxing video, which I immediately deleted because it was so terrible. I’m not made for film, folks.

The deck and guidebook did not disappoint. I am honestly so impressed with every aspect of this deck. Kim Krans created a beautiful work of art when she designed these tarot cards and the packaging for them is just as exquisite. The kit contains a gorgeous, sturdy guidebook that is really well done. I find the card meanings align very closely to a traditional Rider Waite deck, though the art is certainly different. The card stock is pretty good, maybe a little thin, but far better than some other decks (Thoth and the Gilded Tarot, for example).

The biggest distinction with this deck is that is features only animals, no people. For some that may be a turnoff, but it wasn’t a problem for me.

The court cards feature owls (swords), snakes (wands), swans (cups),  and deer (pentacles). Here are the “Fathers” of the court, aka the Kings.

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Now, I present to you some of my favorite cards from this truly rewarding deck.
The Majors:
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The Devil (this reminds me of Black Philip in The Witch): Addiction and Negativity
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The Chariot: Strong Will and Triumph
The Minors:

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Nine of Swords: I know the worms aren’t visually appealing, but there is nothing appealing about the Nine of Swords. Dark visions and Anguish

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Ten of Wands: Burdens, Blockage, Difficulty
 

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Ten of Cups: Radiating Energy

I am enthralled by the artwork on this deck and highly recommend it to anyone who may be considering adding this to their collection. I am looking forward to using this for my daily readings.

 

How do tarot readings work?

How do the cards arrange themselves into a meaningful pattern? Why should some pieces of cardboard with pretty pictures on them be able to mysteriously arrange themselves into an order which tells us about our life and experiences in a detail that often exceeds what we are consciously able to observe?

No one knows for sure. I can’t say exactly how the cards work, but I can assure you that they do. Several theories abound as to why this is. One is that when we shuffle a deck of tarot cards (or your reader shuffles them for you while concentrating on you and your question), the cards connect to your energy and they arrange themselves accordingly based on it. We all have energy within us. Christians call it the Holy Spirit. In Chinese medicine, it’s Chi. Yoga refers to it as Shakti. In the West, it’s commonly called Spirit. All great spiritual traditions talk about spiritual energy and the energetic body. Whatever the tradition, the energy and spirit within each of us is meant to flow as blockages result in physical and spiritual issues.

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Another possible explanation can be found in Karl Jung’s theory of synchronicity. Synchronicity can be defined as “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” Jung was fascinated with the tarot and worked extensively with the I-Ching, a Chinese form of divination based on the same principles. Sometimes in life we are gifted with “meaningful coincidences.” Can you think of a time (or several times) where you were simply in the right place at the right time?

By deliberately shuffling the cards we are invoking synchronicity into our lives and the cards will ‘just happen’ to arrange themselves into an order which tells us something useful about ourselves or the question we have asked.

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Different areas of psychic study credit the subconscious mind with an entire array of powers and abilities of which we are generally unaware. As an explanation for the tarot, it is usually supposed that in some way the subconscious mind ‘knows’ the order of the cards and through the shuffle, re-orders them so that they will lay out in an order which conveys a useful meaning to the person performing the spread, based on insights that the subconscious mind presumably already had.

Lastly, let’s not rule out magic (or magick). Magic means ‘to make events occur in conformity to your will’. In this case, the will of the reader is that the cards will arrange themselves in a meaningful way, in order to reveal something useful. The magical explanation is simply that this focused intent is enough to make the cards arrange themselves in a useful way. This involves accepting as an explanation that magic is real – the Universe really does respond and change according to the will of an individual. It also suggests there is some skill required in ‘making the tarot work’ as well as simply interpreting the cards. A deck of tarot cards is believed to be particularly susceptible to this form of magical influence, because of the way the cards are read.

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These are all theories. We will never know for certain exactly how tarot cards work.

The bottom line is…they do.

This post contains excerpts from http://www.weirdshitnotbullshit.com/articles/how-does-the-tarot-work.

Is Tarot Evil?

Is tarot reading a sin?

*Excerpts of this blog from Divination: Sacred Tools for Reading the Mind of God by Paul O’Brien.

I was born and raised in an area of the United States known as the “Bible Belt.” If you are familiar with this geographical area, you know you can’t throw a rock without hitting a church (this is a southern way of saying they are everywhere). Furthermore, in my hometown you will only find Christian churches. If you are Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, or belong to any other denomination, you must make the twenty mile drive to neighboring Tallahassee to worship.

I worked as a public school teacher for many years in this small town and as a result I continue to live life as a public figure in many ways. After working with so many children and families, it gets to the point where you can’t go to the grocery store without being recognized. As I live in a Christian community, I was deeply afraid to “come out” as a tarot reader because most people whose faith depends on biblical scripture believe that divination is a sin. That being said, it terrified me that once people knew I worked with the tarot they might whisper about my evil antics or, worse, it could even hurt my chances for future employment with the school system. After devoting over 12 years of my life to the field of education this was quite frightening.

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So why do I still do it?

I am a baptized Christian and I do not believe that tarot and other forms of divination is a sin against God. Why? The most commonly quoted verse in the Bible that is used to assert that divination is a sin against God’s will is Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

The book of Deuteronomy contains countless laws that were themselves abominable and are no longer respected or practiced by anyone. For instance, “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.” (Deuteronomy 15:1) There would be countless people in a much better financial position if this were enforced – myself included. Women might be interested to know that they are “an abomination to the Lord” if they wear men’s clothes (Deuteronomy 22:5), so forget about pants in the winter. Also according to this law, any bride who is not a virgin on her wedding night shall be stoned to death on her father’s porch (Deuteronomy 22:21). Sounds like Sharia law to me!

Over the centuries, churches, temples and mosques have narrowly selected which parts of their scriptures to heed, and which to ignore. But in this modern age we are free to look at ancient scriptures with fresh eyes. In so doing, we need to remember that the true value of scriptures does not lie in lists of ancient laws and “shalt-nots,” but in parables of virtue and timeless principles that are relevant to the cultivation of wisdom. If religious organizations have been hostile to divination, it is because they are not interested in cultivating the types of mystical experiences that inspired them in the first place. It’s also important to remember that “communicating with divinity” is what the word “divination” means, and what divination systems (tarot, I-Ching, etc.) are created to facilitate.

God’s People used Divination in the Bible
Organized religion’s condemnation of intuitive powers is especially ironic considering that the Bible itself is considered a channeled work, transcribed by its human authors through what St. Paul later defined as “the gift of prophecy,” which was available to all who believed in orthodox doctrine. It is an article of faith in scripture’s authority that God spoke through prophets, who received His message using what we now call channeling, a freeform psychic version of divination. The Bible describes this process in several places, including the following:

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. (Deuteronomy 18:18)

I have also spoken by the prophets, And have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets. (Hosea 12:10)

The prophets are psychic mediums who received wisdom in the form of voices and visions from a higher power, which they then conveyed to others, sometimes to make a decision or offer advice. The God of the Old Testament gave prophets knowledge of the future to warn people and persuade them to abide by God’s will. As it is recorded, the prophets who predict the future generally do so when a warning is necessary, but it is reasonable to assume that they do it at other times too.

The prophets were watchmen, guardians of the people, who looked out for the nation because they could foresee dangers coming. Prophets were also known to interpret events that were happening in the present and provided insights into God’s reasons for creating the conditions in question. Diviners and prophets were classed as being similar roles. In Isaiah 3:2-3 diviners are ranked with judges, warriors, and prophets as pillars of the state.

The mighty man and the man of war, The judge and the prophet, And the diviner and the elder; The captain of fifty and the honorable man, The counselor and the skillful artisan, And the expert enchanter. (Isaiah 3:2-3)

The book of Numbers (22-24) contains the story of Balaam, a diviner who was known for the effectiveness of his blessings—and his curses. This story is the furthest thing from an illustration of an abomination, or even a parable illustrating the dangers of the mantic arts. Balaam was, in fact, in the good graces of God and was chosen by God to speak for Him. He was obedient, dutiful, and fair. The Bible does not condemn his actions as a diviner and God freely spoke to him, in a friendly way, and considered him as His messenger.

Divination and the reading of omens are commonly used in the Bible when it comes to deciding all sorts of issues. Most that were recorded had to do with the safety of king or state. God used omens to signal Gideon’s victory over the Midianites. If the fleece of the sheep was wet and the ground was dry it was a sign of ensuing success (Judges 6:36-40). The prophet Elisha directed King Joash to throw two arrows through the window in order to find out whether the king would be victorious or not (2 Kings 13:14-19). There is nothing in the Bible disapproving of the reading of signs sent from God.

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The story of the Moses is a classic example of a mystical experience in the Bible. Moses repeatedly ascended Mt. Sinai to communicate directly with God. Not only did he listen to God’s instructions, he also was able to ask questions in order to confirm the divine commands. Moses also used the Israelite’s Urim method of divination described below.

The High Priest’s Divination System: Urim and Thummim
The Israelites had a sacred divination system, known as Urim and Thummim, given to them by Jahweh (Esther 3: 21-28). Several verses of the Old Testament that were not edited out mention the use of this sacred tool. The exact composition of the Urim and Thummim is not certain, but most scholars believe there were two sacred stone dice that were stored in a pouch inside the high priest’s “breastplate of judgment,” which he wore whenever seeking divine guidance with regard to important issues or strategic decisions of state. However it worked (and we do not know exactly), the Bible makes it clear that God himself granted the people this divination system, and that He controlled the answers it produced.

He shall stand before Eleazer the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation. (Numbers 27:21)

The great prophet Moses used the Urim and Thummim. Joshua was named as his successor using this divination system (Numbers 27:21). After Joshua died, the Israelites used it to determine who would continue to lead them into victory over the Canaanites. (Judges 1:1) When David was considering whether or not to pursue the marauding Amalekites, the divination tool confirmed for him that it was advisable to do so (1 Samuel 30: 7-8). There are many more examples of the divinatory use of the Urim and Thummim, which can be easily looked up in any Bible concordance. In most cases, God explicitly tells them to use it to divine His will.

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Since there are so many instances in the Bible in which God provides answers to his followers through divination, we ask ourselves how it can be that divination has come to be portrayed as evil by fundamentalist religions and sects. In the first century of the common era, as he was defining orthodox Christian beliefs, St. Paul labeled the ability to decipher the mind of God as “the Gift of Prophecy”—one of the Holy Spirit’s gifts to true believers. It was a form of channeling. Nowadays, thanks to universal access to authentic divination tools, everyone—Christian and non-Christian alike—who approaches the process with sincerity can go direct, without being expected to channel (or speak in tongues, for that matter). When it comes to communicating with the divine, we are truly the chosen people.

In ancient times, only the high priest had the power of direct access. Luckily, all spiritually inclined people alive today have access to better divination systems. We are now able to go direct on our own, bypassing religious and political hierarchies altogether.

Based on a fair and balanced look at the biblical record, it is safe to conclude that God intended us to use divination systems to better interpret the divine plan.

*Excerpts of this blog from Divination: Sacred Tools for Reading the Mind of God by Paul O’Brien.

 

 

What do tarot readers do?

What does it mean to be a tarot reader, anyway?

First, I cannot read your mind, nor can I tell the future.

The ability to read tarot cards is not a skill reserved for a select few who come from a long line of psychic mediums. Anyone can learn to read the cards. It requires passion, dedication, and immense amounts of study and practice to learn the meanings of the 78 cards contained within a tarot deck. It requires even more time and effort to learn reversed cards, and to learn a variety of spreads that are designed to provide guidance on different scenarios. (If you are interested in embarking on your own journey with tarot, I am happy to share resources on this topic in a future blog.)

The tarot reveals much about our past and present, as well as the larger forces at play in our lives. In exploring these themes you can glimpse at a likely outcome to a current situation. However, it is important to note that though the future is predictable, it is not predetermined.

But how does tarot work? It boils down to the belief in Spirit. We are all made of the same stuff – loving energy and light. Inside each of us is God’s incredible and powerful DNA. The energy that flows within each of us is known by many different names throughout the world. Christians call it the Holy Spirit. In Chinese medicine, it’s Chi. Yoga refers to it as Shakti. In the West, it’s commonly called Spirit. All great spiritual traditions talk about spiritual energy and the energetic body. It’s this same energy that some mediums connect with when the spirits of loved ones leave their physical body. Whatever the tradition, the energy and spirit within each of us is meant to flow. Blockages can result in physical and spiritual issues.

When we shuffle a deck of tarot cards (or your reader shuffles them for you), the cards are connecting to your energy and spirit. They come together in a reading to reflect your unique energy.

The 78 cards capture the entire human experience from birth to death. The 21 cards of the major arcana depict the spiritual forces at play in our lives. They deal with three phases of our life: consciousness and the outer concerns of life in society; subconscious, or the search inward to find who we truly are; and superconsciousness, the development of a spiritual awareness in the larger context of life. When many major arcana cards appear in a reading then the events taking place are largely out of our hands (in other words, the universe is doing its work) and there are big lessons being learned.

The minor arcana is made up of four suits – Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. The association of these four emblems with magical practice and underlying spiritual truth goes back at least as far as the Middle Ages. These emblems stand for the world itself and for human nature, as well as the act of creation of both specific things and the continuous creation of evolution. The four suits are also linked to the study of Kabbalah, and they each are related to God’s name, YHVH, which some translate as Jehovah. I could write an entire book on the esoteric meanings behind the cards. Suffice to say that the minor arcana depict us in our daily lives going about our daily business. Within the minor arcana there are also court cards that depict people and energy depending on the spread.

When you have a tarot reading, it’s like taking a picture of your life. You can see the present moment, the recent past, the near future, and the likely outcome that may result if you carry on your current path. The beautiful thing about the future is that nothing is set in stone. Predictable, not predetermined, remember? If a tarot reading reveals a poor outcome, you can take steps to avoid it. The tarot is less about giving definitive answers and more about giving guidance.

To me, the tarot is best summarized by the message of the Hermit card. Tarot is a tool for introspection. Just as the hermit in the card takes off alone with his lantern, the tarot provides a light in the darkness as we find our way through life.

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