Sunday, September 29, 2013

October Tarotscopes

  October means we're firmly entrenched in fall, and winter is on its way- a time of harvests, pumpkins, apple cider and cooler weather! Looks like Mercury is going retrograde for the last time this year, from October 21 until November 10th. Now, this is certainly not the end of the world, though it tends to give us a somewhat contrary influence on occasion. At any rate, remember that the planets can influence- not compel. So let's take a look at the month ahead:
Aries (March 22-April 20)

October looks like a busy month for you, Aries- the Hierophant is joined by the 9 of Pentacles, indicating that though you're working hard and driving onwards in typical Aries fashion, don't neglect what is important. Although your natural tendency is to be stubborn, don't let this stand in the way of both seeking out and offering guidance. The Hierophant is definitely a two-way street for you. The Hierophant represents, if you'll pardon the Tarot pun, a wealth of knowledge and experience. You've come a long way, so don't quit now, and don't let impatience stand in the way of helping someone else along. You may find you have the same goal, and in helping someone else, you help also yourself.
I know that Mercury retrograde is on the minds of all those astrologically inclined, and will say that things are not that bad; the worst thing you can do at this point is go it alone, and to reiterate, that's very much a two-way street. You never finish learning, Aries, as do we all. Your experience, as well as what you can learn, will help you this upcoming month.
Taurus (April 21-May 21) 
This harvest month brings with it a change of perspective for ever-practical Taurus: the World promises that same stability and reliability that this sign is so comfortable with. But at the same time, don't let that fear of change keep you from making some much-needed renovations. The 5 of Swords warns against being too... bull headed. (Is this a month for terrible puns or what?) What is it that's no longer working for you? What is it that you're continuously butting your head against? Don't be afraid to make changes this month, and remove what is obsolete and just in the way for you. Take a new perspective, which is not always the easiest thing to do, but take a step back, and see what you've held onto out of either stubbornness or simple habit. Out with the old and in with the new is the theme for this October in Taurus. It's natural to want to fear change- but don't. Change is not your enemy this month, and can very much work in your favor. Why not make yourself comfortable? Sometimes that means stepping out of your comfort zone and going somewhere new. At first it seems strange, but in the long run, it's to your benefit.
Gemini (May 22-June 21) 
It looks like a focus on finances this month for Gemini, as here we have the 3 of Pentacles and the Knight of Pentacles. The 3 shows your hard work and creativity has not been lost on those around you, and creative projects really are taking off! You may not see the immediate results, but it's sure as anything there. But this is only the beginning. The Knight, ever the practical figure as he moves along his way, indicates new opportunities. Look for more projects, and there's a very real possibility of a little extra green coming your way! It's up to you to use this wisely, and keep a practical head on your shoulders. Mercury going retrograde in the last two weeks of the month may throw you a curve or two, but just take a step back, take a look around you, and you'll be just fine. Remember, the forces around you can influence- they cannot command.Often that retrograde Mercury can bring about change- and again, is change really that scary? You know what to do, so don't hesitate to do it. Those born in the sign of Taurus are reliable, true, but at the same time often slow to change. Don't hesitate to change this month- this stability means you command a great deal of force behind the changes you make.
Cancer (June 22-July 22)

The natural tendency for Cancers is to cling to relationships and things they love. This evaluation is certainly not intended as a criticism, and this is in fact highlighted this October. We see the Queen of Wands and Justice, an interesting mix. People born under the sign of Cancer may sometimes have a little insecurity inside, though at the same time their naturally caring and sensitive nature often makes up for it. This month you'll have plenty of opportunities to display that charm and sensitivity, and to build lasting relationships.Look for a balance, and bring that balance to bear. There's a good indication of an opportunity to guide things this month; if you're feeling out of balance, like things aren't quite the way you want them, well, you know what to do. Set it right, take the initiative, and go for it. This may not be a natural tendency for you, but nonetheless, you can make a positive impact. There's a sense of worry there, like the planets aren't quite right, and it's true that you may tend to take a backseat to forces you consider out of your control. Well, they're really not out of your control! Step up and take the helm this month, and make those things you wish to see a reality.
Leo (July 23-August 22) 

When does a Leo do anything halfway? Just about never, is the answer. This is both a strength and weakness for Leos. The 8 of Swords and the 2 of Wands this month point to a period of rare uncertainty and indecision. Where to go, and what to do? You'll be faced with an interesting challenge this month, and opportunity is knocking. But which way to go? Instead of charging forwards with your usual optimism, you might feel uncertain. But this is a question of the grass always being greener on the side of the fence you didn't choose. Weigh your decisions carefully, and stick to it. When you doubt, you doubt with every ounce of your being. But on the other hand, once you reach that decision, know that you've made the right decision for you. Don't let that bad case of the "what-ifs" get to you- it's true that self-doubt is something of a stranger to you, but in the long run thinking out this decision you'll be facing this month can only make you stronger in the long run.
Virgo (August 23-September 22)

There's a strong focus on relationships and development this month, with the 6 of Cups and Page of Cups cropping up. Virgos tend to idealize, true enough, and remember things the way they wanted them to be rather than the way they actually were- but from this, it's a way to take the positive and learn from the negative. It's a great month to make full use of that curiosity and desire for knowledge as well. None of us are perfect, but the dedication and hard work that mark a Virgo are coming to prominence this month. However, be on the lookout for retreating into memories, or becoming overly withdrawn this October. Don't hesitate to get your hands dirty and dig for what you want, and let your idealism guide you. Not always the most practical approach to a situation, idealism is often a gift. Don't lose it this month, and don't lose sight of the way you imagine things could be. Keep chasing that dream is the theme for this month.

Libra (September 23- October 22)

October is often a good month for Libras, as the Sun is in your house, bringing energy and drive to put that analytical and thoughtful mind to work. And you'll have plenty of opportunity to improve this month, as Temperance points to a month where introspection and improvement are favorable, and the Empress points to lots of "good vibes" coming your way. There may be a tendency this month to become too engrossed in your own mind, and to lose perspective. Don't stand on the tracks, Libra- you might not hear the train until it's right on top of you. The Empress points to positive energy, and this can be very useful during this time, but don't get too complacent, and don't coddle yourself this October. Despite Mercury's retrograde in the second half of the month, there are opportunities to advance this month- be sure to make use of them!

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) 

You'll be feeling attractive and upbeat as the Sun heads your way, bringing with it good fortune. Now is the time to lay plans for the winter, and further down the road. You've heard the phrase "make hay while the sun shines"? Well, now is the time to do just that. The Ace of Cups promises a great start to the month, and with it the 2 of Swords warns of questioning your decisions. There's also a message here that if you don't use it, you may lose it! Look for opportunities earlier in the month, and take advantage of them. Don't let uncertainty and doubt stand in the way of getting stuff done this month, and don't wait too long. Not to worry, trust your own judgement this month, and don't second-guess yourself. This isn't a natural way to feel for self-confident Scorpio, and you may feel uncertain of how to proceed. But rest assured, that understanding you have will get you through.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) 

Single? Looks like romance will be in the air this month for you! In a relationship? Look for a deepening of that relationship, and drawing closer to your partner. This fall looks like a good season for you, rounding out a productive year. Now's a great time to get ready for the future, and look for new opportunities this month. The Page of Pentacles points to new opportunities, and employment looks favorable this month for you, taking you in new directions and finding you learning new skills. This will spill over into all areas of your life, improving as it goes. Prepare for the future, and let your natural optimism lead you to what you might even think impossible.

Capricorn (December 22-January 20) 

This month promises to be one of hard work and ambition, something Capricorns are no stranger to. The Knight of Wands points to swift, determined motion. Where do you want to go today? Keep this in mind, and avoid rash actions- don't make a decision solely to get out of a point of uncertainty. Thinking through the decisions you make this month can make all the difference in the world, and sticking to the decisions you have made will make all the difference in the world this month. As time goes on, you may find things weighing on you, and find yourself seeking out a break from the battle. Though practical, even hard working Capricorns need a break once in a while. The 10 of Wands tells us that if you're not happy with the decisions you make, well, the power to change that situation is with you this month. Avoid going in too many directions this month, and avoid trying to take on too much; your thoughts are sometimes bigger than your abilities, and an occasional reality check may be needed this month. But never fear, as always it's up to you!

Aquarius (January 21-February 21) 

Things are looking up this month, as the work you've done this month will begin to pay off. Going your own way and blazing your own path has resulted in a good foundation this month. Stability and staying the course are in the cards for you this month. With a tendency to go your own way, look for returns and developments in investments coming back to you this month. Don't be afraid to go out on a limb for someone, or to take a chance on your future this month, Aquarius. With a firm foundation underfoot, begin to expand and head outwards, looking to that far horizon. The 4 of Wands indicates that you've come this far, and things are fairly stable- a good balance that's easy to maintain! So move forwards from there, and build on that stability.

Pisces (February 22-March 21) 

The influence of Mercury's retrograde might be felt this month, Pisces. Naturally sensitive, you have a tendency to avoid conflict. However, once in a while you need to step back and take a look around. You may feel on top of the world this month, but don't let those good feelings go to your head. With a vivid imagination and a tendency to daydream, you might be missing something right in front of you. The Magician points to great dreams and great designs, and success can sometimes go to your head. So from that success, don't get too comfortable. Instead, make sure your foundation is as stable as it seems. Watch out for gossip and jealousy, which you can sometimes overlook. Everyone likes to have their ego stoked, but beware of any ulterior motives. Is everything as it seems? There are two things to keep in mind- one, have a clear goal in mind, and two, make sure you really reached that goal.

So overall, it looks like a mixed bag this October. But remember, it's always what you make of it- not where you start from, but where you go and how you get there!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

September Tarotscopes

While this certainly isn't an idea I can claim credit for creating, Tarotscopes are an interesting and often helpful take on horoscopes. And so, here's my take on a time-honored favorite. I'm considering expanding the readings, and further research into structuring the Tarotscopes is in the works- for now, here we go!
Aries- (March 21-April 20) Two Of Pentacles:
Things are looking up this month! The 2 of Pentacles indicates change on the horizon. Keep your eyes open for new opportunities, especially in the field of your career and work. Things may not be ideal as of yet, but change is on the horizon, Aries. Be ready, and perhaps most of important, know what you want to do. An impossible dream may become a little more possible this month- so don't miss the boat!
Taurus (April 21-May 20) Two Of Cups
This month looks lucky in love for Taurus. Eminently practical and trustworthy, those born under Taurus tend to be reliable, patient but determined, and that patient determination will be met with appreciation this month. Look for a new partnership, friendship, or if you're single, maybe a new relationship! Taurus is ruled by Venus, so embrace that love for comfort and happiness, and let that combination of reliability and enjoyment lead you this month!
Gemini (May 21-June 20) Three of Cups
Geminis tend to be cheerful and outgoing, and love to try new things, and this month will give plenty of opportunities for that. As Geminis also tend to be flighty and easily distracted, the advice this month is to stick to it. What you've been working on and cultivating is coming to fruition, both in your personal life and in the lives of those near you- don't get distracted now! There's great things on the horizon, and cause for celebration at present. Don't let it go to your head, though. Enjoy a month that will have cause for celebration, but at the same time don't overindulge- in ego, in success, or in seeking out gratification.
Cancer (June 21-July 21) Temperance
Ruled by the Moon, people born under Cancer's influence tend to be more introspective, and have great insight into their own conditions and limitations. The message this month is balance, balance, and balance some more. An introspective personality may tend towards moodiness, or even obsession. You need to strike a balance this month, between looking within and looking without. Focus and determination are never a problem for a Cancer, but at the same time, don't let that rule you; be aware of what's going on around you, and what you can bring to the situation at hand- it can make all the difference!
Leo (July 22-August 22) The Emperor
If there's one Tarot card that sums up Leo, this might well be it. Ruled by the Sun, Leos are charismatic, natural leaders, and love to be the center of attention. So this month, Leo, time to step up! The Emperor promises that you'll be where you love to be best- in the driver's seat. Don't hesitate to move forwards and set in motion any longer-term plans you may have. September looks like a good month to start something new, or to revitalize an existing project. Do what you do best, and lead the way.
Virgo (August 23-September 22) The Hierophant
The Hierophant signals that this month might be a time to seek outside advice. Virgos tend towards self-examination and analysis, and this can lead to self-doubt and uncertainty. In this case, this month may bring with it a sense of not being sure which way is up; you may feel like you can't break out of the mental or emotional gridlock you're in this month. But never fear, because you're not alone. Don't hesitate to ask someone, and gain a little perspective on the situation- ask someone who's been there and done that, and can provide the insight you may be lacking. Don't take that lack of perspective personally, as it's not so much a shortcoming as the tendency of Virgos to over-analyze.
Libra (September 23-October 22)  The Sun
Librans, like Virgos, tend to be introspective and analytical, often their own worst critics. Well, never fear, the Sun is here! Your biggest challenge this month, Libra, will be to put aside doubts and realize that yes, everything is just as it seems. Again, like Virgo, don't miss out because you're not absolutely certain. There are a lot of good forces going on around you, and now's the time to tap into that energy. Have a clear purpose in mind and go for it.
Scorpio (October 23-November 22) 9 of Swords
This month may bring some new information for Scorpio, and a bit of a surprise. Tending to dislike conflict, you may have overlooked something you didn't want to see. But nonetheless, being often imaginative, things are not as bad as you imagined them to be. Simply put, don't make a mountain out of a molehill. The key to September is that though life has its storms, we can weather them. Birds sing after a storm, and so should you.
Saggittarius (November 23-December 21) 10 of Wands
This month may be a month to examine what's going on. Saggittarians tend to be the most optimistic sign in the Zodiac- a definite positive, but this month is a good time to examine what you take for granted. Are you certain you need to do it all by yourself? Saggittarians likewise tend to crave adventure, and though this is the case, September is a month ripe for self-examination. Don't take on more than you need to, and let someone close to you know what's going on. You think you can take on the world, Saggittarius- and you may well be right. But don't disdain help where you can find it!
Capricorn (December 22-January 19)   4 Of Wands
This month is another good match for structure-loving Capricorn, as the 4 of Wands indicates a time of stability and development. Knowing what you want to do this month is important, and with this you can definitely make that a reality. The 4 of Wands is a card of foundations and building upon those foundations. Take what you've already worked to build and keep working on it. You're on the right path, and in this case a somewhat stubborn nature works in your favor.
Aquarius (January 20-February 18)  King of Swords
For Aquarius, the King of Swords means an opportunity this month to put a dream into more practical terms, and begin to work on the nuts and bolts of making what they imagined a reality. Not always the most practical, tending to rely more on emotion and intuition than cold hard facts, nonetheless now is a great time to start using those very same facts, and develop a plan for what you want to do. Combine lofty goals with practical planning, and success is yours this month.
Pisces (February 19-March 20) 3 of Swords
While the naturally caring and sensitive nature of Pisces makes them gentle and genuinely warm people, you may be looking at a little difficulty this month here and there, and may feel unusually down about it. Perhaps it's just a series of small things piling up. The main thing to do this month, Pisces, is to set some time aside for yourself. You want to save the world, and you want the world to be happy. Very admirable, but nonetheless, strike a balance. Don't let the weight of the world rest on your shoulders, and allow yourself time to take care of you. Doing this will allow you to reach out to others.
Well, that's the scope of things for this month. I hope you found it informative and helpful, and look forwards to continuing this next month!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Not To Worry About In Terms of Tarot

It's good to be back! I have to admit to being in a little bit of a creative slump over the past few months, and wondering if in fact the blog had reached the end of its useful existence; nothing left to add. Like it says in the Bible, nothing new under the sun. That may be the case, but can I really say I've plumbed the depths of experience and understanding?
So I decided to put my own spin on a common theme among Tarot readers- the timeless FAQ section (that's frequently asked questions, by the way.) I've heard a lot of people express the same concerns or thoughts, and figured I'd do my own part to address them here.
1. I don't believe in that stuff/You need to convince me you're genuine.
While this second part actually is fair enough, if you don't believe in the Tarot, why are you coming to me for a reading? While I'm of a somewhat empirical frame of mind, either a thing is or it is not, I also know that having a confrontational or negative outlook and approach to the reading will make it a lot harder than it needs to be. If you have an open mind, and are willing to listen and share your own thoughts, the reading will be much more successful, and you'll gain much more from it.
The second part of this is somewhat subjective. If you're absolutely convinced that I'm a con artist, I doubt there's anything I can do to convince you otherwise; everything will usually have an explanation, be it coincidence, trickery or the like. Let me emphasize at this point that yes, I am aware of the tricks that con artists of this stripe use. And the reason I'm aware of them is that I make it a point to avoid them like the plague. I don't do these things, and it's my firm belief that neither does any other reputable Tarot reader. But again, if you have an open mind, and are willing to see things objectively, I trust in my own abilities and talents to convince you.
2. I'm afraid of finding out bad news/trouble/death if I get a reading.
If you're that afraid of trouble, ask yourself, why do you feel that way? What makes you think trouble is just around the bend for you? If it's something you're doing, or not doing, remember that it's never too late to change the path you're on. There are consequences, sure, but it's always what you do in the present that determines what's to come.
If you are worried about trouble, well, yes, once in a while life deals us a crappy hand. But the Tarot is not about doom and gloom- when we see trouble, us readers will then examine what can be done about that. Tarot is not about the problem, it's about developing a solution, and uncovering solutions and resources you may not have known were there.
3. Asking the same question over and over until you get the answer you want
Putting it bluntly, this won't work. The cards don't tell you what you want to hear, they tell you what's going on. Believe me, I'd be much happier if I had every reading I do for myself or someone else come up roses. But the thing is, when the cards show trouble, there's usually a reason for it, and usually a way through. This world is not meant to make us fail, but rather to reveal in many cases a higher purpose and direction.
4. I'm afraid to ask questions that may seem stupid or make me seem like I don't understand.
Never, ever be afraid to ask a question. Part of our jobs as Tarot readers is to make sure you understand and are able to take away something from the reading. A good reader (and, I might add, an effective reader) will not belittle clients or discourage dialogue. Believe it or not, we can't read your minds. Well, maybe some people can, but I'm not one of them. And that's probably a good thing! The point is, a reading is all about you. Ask questions, give your impressions of an image or card (this has on occasion opened up some great dialogue about the reading, and brought new aspects of the reading to the forefront, which proved very useful). Tarot readers are not like the Oracle of Delphi- you shouldn't need to puzzle out our mysterious utterances.
5. What if I get bad news?
Again, it's your decision to have a reading done, and as a client, you get to stop it at any point if you're feeling uncomfortable, or there's something you don't want to know, or are not ready to face. That's fine, and it's not my place or my concern to judge you. No one is perfect, and us readers are just as human as you. But again, remember that with bad news, there's not a message of "you're screwed", but rather "Here's what you can do in this situation." A Tarot reading should encourage positive action, not reaction, and especially not buckling down and expecting the worst. Storms come in this life, but they also pass. Trouble comes, but often we can learn from it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

An Exercise In Reading- Ash Williams

Original movie poster for Army Of Darkness

Seeing as Ash Wednesday is coming up, as well as the imminent release of an Evil Dead remake in theaters (where today's subject comes from) I figured I'd tackle this character and give him a reading. For those not familiar with the name, Ashley J. "Ash" Williams is the protagonist of the Evil Dead movies and comics. Portrayed by Bruce Campbell in all three movies, Ash is kind of a blue-collar everyman, driving around in a battered Oldsmobile and working at a department store. As the movies progress, Ash first finds himself doing battle with a bunch of demons who seem intent on nothing more than messing with his mind, losing his right hand (literally) to these same demons, and finally getting sucked back in time to the year 1300 to continue doing battle with the demons. Finally, he manages to defeat an army of reanimated corpses and, in an alternate ending to the film, winds up in the future, where these same demons have pretty much razed the whole of human civilization, so it's pretty much back to square one for our reluctant hero. However, in the version of this film that was released to theaters, Ash manages to return successfully to his own time and his department store job, where he continues to likewise battle demons. So, whichever way you slice it, it seems Ash is destined to take on the demons that are seemingly knocking around in every era.
So what would the future hold for our hero? I decided to do a Celtic Cross reading for him, and the results were interesting.
The first card, representing the present, is the Queen of Wands. This pretty much sums up our subject, keeping in mind that gender is often very mutable in the Tarot courts. The Queen is a figure of authority and charisma, a natural leader. Ash does demonstrate leadership abilities, as well as a creative and practical streak, also characteristics of the Queen. He also tends to be egocentric and self-centered, more concerned with his own ends than with others, which often makes for a complex figure.
Covering this, indicating present influences, was the 6 of Pentacles, an indication of balance and exchange. The card indicates a give and take of resources, and here we find that Ash indeed often finds himself in situations where an exchange needs to be made. Ash frequently finds himself where he must help others to help himself; and work for a common good. This, in this hypothetical situation, shows that the key to survival and success is cooperation.
This theme of cooperation and working together continues in the Past position. Here was the Justice card, telling us that the things that have come about for Ash are the results of his own actions and decisions. Granted, we can't always know the consequences of our actions, but we can see that Ash's actions always have consequences- this can be both a positive and a negative, as we see in this instance. Sure, Ash is able to fend off attacks from the demons time and time again, but at the same time, it's often his own errors that produce the situations in the first place! But nonetheless, from these I would say that his leadership and practicality, as well as his self-interest, will ensure a future for him, though not necessarily an easy one.
In the Foundation position was the High Priestess reversed- an indication of forces beyond his control. These forces beyond his control are, to a large extent, simply because he does not or cannot grasp the larger picture. Developing farther sight and a more objective viewpoint would definitely help him. Ash tends to operate from a perspective of self-interest, and in so doing can miss a larger network of cause and effect.
Moving on to the Near Future position, we find the reversed Sun card. Again, a Major Arcana card, and again reversed. The Sun is a card of positive energy, and its reversal indicates something blocking or preventing this energy from manifesting. Judging from the cards that have come before, it would seem that the main issue remains a somewhat stubborn nature- Ash may well be capable of putting ego and self-interest aside, but will not do so without a major change in perspective and a major shake-up. This likewise can point to the stubborn nature of ego- we often go to great lengths to prevent a bruised ego.
Finishing out the 'cross' section of this reading, we find the card in the Aspirations position to be the Chariot. The Chariot represents force of will, and also provides some insight to Ash's situation. I found it interesting that the influences around a strong-willed court card were almost all Major Arcana cards. The Chariot represents driving forwards, subjugating conflicting or opposed aspects to the force of will. Again, we find stubbornness; Ash will persist to his last step on the path he's on, which is both admirable in some ways and an indication of a lack of any viewpoint other than his own.
The next position in this reading indicates the future- here the card was the reversed 3 of Pentacles. The 3 is an indication of being recognized for one's abilities and skills, as well as hard work. Granted, a lot of hard work has gone on over the course of these movies, but at the same time, it would seem that a great deal of it is running just to stay in the same place, as these demons are constantly on the lookout for people to attack. So from what we see here, Ash's situation seems to be one without a ready win- the best he can generally hope for is holding the fort down.
The next position in this reading is the reversed Knight of Wands. This indicates hopes and fears of the subject. In this case, it seems to go back to that maintaining the status quo; Ash is able to defend against attacks, and this consumes most of his time. There seems to be little more that he can do. The Knight is a figure of boundless energy, and the reversal indicates that this boundless energy is not, or cannot, flow into productive channels, when all of Ash's energy and resources are put towards simple survival.
Next up we have the Hidden Influences position, and here was the reversed Hanged Man. This seems to combine two factors in this reading- one, Ash's lack of long view, and second, the fact that his situation is somewhat unique. In a constant fight for his life, he simply lacks the time and mental energy to look beyond the immediate situation. Looking back to the High Priestess, it seems unlikely anything will change soon for Ash. But at the same time, there's hope for him in that he has a strong will, and an unstoppable desire to survive.
Finally, the Outcome here is the 7 of Cups- a card of choice. As time goes on, we can reasonably assume that Ash will continue fighting, and continue his survival. The time may come when there's a break in the battle, and Ash is faced with choices as time goes on. No doubt his continued survival will provide new learning opportunities, and the discovery of his enemy's strengths and weaknesses. This indicates to me a chance to change and advance- the situation will change for Ash, and it will fall to him to make the right decision.
In doing this reading, I did pick a rather extreme situation. It's unlikely that we'll find anything like this in everyday life. Nonetheless, the moral of this story, so to speak, is that the choices we make have repercussions- not always negative ones.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Arrow Spread- For Meditation

As many people have already so well demonstrated, the Tarot can be a tool for self-examination, a jumping-off point for meditation, and a tool for self-examination. The cards of the deck can be considered individually, each card representing a specific energy that appears in our lives. Picking out this pattern in the Tarot can provide insight to the current situation, and in many cases put it into context. The goal here is to view a situation or set of circumstances from a new perspective, and in so doing, perhaps move forwards with something you're facing or working through.
I found this pattern can work well for self-examination or insight. When you're faced with a problem or something you can't seem to get past, sometimes simply sitting down and thinking it through. The goal of this spread is one of two things- to provide insight into a situation, or to provide a fresh perspective on a question.
The layout of the spread looks like this- I'll define the positions below.


                                                                           4             5

                                                                     2          1          3

1. The Keystone- Look to this position to clarify thoughts on the situation, as well as any important factors on the situation or in your own mind that you might be overlooking or not seeing at present. 
2. Thoughts- This position is meant to provide insight into cognitive factors in the present, and how you are reasoning or thinking about the matter at hand. 
3. Emotions- This position provides the other half of the equation; the emotional factors and how you may feel about the situation are expressed here. 
4. Directions From Higher- This indicates what your higher self may be telling you- below this are the more obvious, conscious factors, but at this level the focus becomes the subtle promptings and clues we may be picking up from the world around us. 
5. Directions From Spirit- Here again on this side we see the emotional and spiritual factors- here are concealed or unconscious feelings, desires and wishes- these too can come from the world around us. 
6. Higher Direction- Here, at the apex of the pyramid, is an indication of a more grand design- what is this card indicating about a greater purpose or higher design to life, and how does this factor into the current situation you find yourself in? 
This spread is called the Arrow spread because first, it can provide direction, and at the same time, can call us to look up, not down. When we look down, we may see only what's in front of us- looking up and around can provide a new perspective, as well as context. Sometimes we find ourselves stymied, seemingly with no way forwards. When that happens, sometimes sitting down and thinking through the situation can provide new insight and a breakthrough. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The 12 Houses Spread

Today's spread comes from the Opening of The Key spread, which is long and complicated. This is actually one section of five operations- however, going through the spread, I noticed it's possible to use each different step as a stand-alone (and perhaps a little more accessible) spread. This particular spread deals with the 12 different houses of the Zodiac (not the signs, just the divisions of the natal chart) and what they represent to the individual. This spread is useful for either addressing a specific point in time or a specific question, just as the natal chart identifies the "initial conditions" at the time of an individual's birth.
In a natal chart, the sky is divided into 12 positions, or houses. The location of the planets across these 12 houses is said to indicate a good deal about each person's mental, emotional and spiritual makeup. However, for purposes of this spread we're concerned with what area of life each of the houses influences, and what cards appear in that house. So in many ways the spread does operate similarly to the idea behind a natal chart, though instead of using the influence of planets, we'll be examining the cards that appear in each house. 
Like the natal chart, this spread is composed of 12 positions, set up counterclockwise, beginning with what in the natal chart would be the Ascendant position. The divisions of the natal chart is shown here:

The houses begin with the Ascendant, at number 1 here, and move counterclockwise. Each of these "pie slices" represents a different aspect of the individual, and how they relate to the world. Each position can contain one or more cards, though there is a danger here of over-complicating the spread. Let's look first at each position and what information it provides about the querent. 

  1. (Ascendant) Here is the querent's image of themselves- their ego, self-esteem and core characteristics. What makes up the querent's self image, as well as driving factors and long-term goals, will appear here.
  2. The second house deals with income, assets and values- how the querent uses the things at their disposal to an end will be shown here, as well as any resources they may have overlooked or not taken full advantage of.
  3. The third house addresses communication primarily- what the querent communicates to the world, either intentionally or unintentionally, will be expressed here. Also in the third house are matters relating to writing and siblings, so how these factors enter into the question at hand can also appear here.
  4. (Imum Coeli) In the fourth house, family is addressed. What does the querent feel towards their family, history and roots? How these factors come to bear on the present situation is expressed here. Look also for any longer-term trends, as well as long-term forecasts for life.
  5. Creativity and romance are in the fifth house- relationships, courtship and how the querent expresses themselves creatively (I.e. talents, predispositions toward an area of study or art) will appear here.
  6. The sixth house tells of work and health- here look for any physical or otherwise limitations on the querent, as well as their work style, and how this can help or hinder them in life.
  7. (Descendant) In the seventh house marriage and partnerships are addressed- it may at first seem odd that this is not addressed in the fifth house, but here longer term and not necessarily romantic unions are addressed. Lifetime partnerships, such as marriage, are expressed here, though there is a correlation between the Seventh and Fifth Houses.
  8. The Eighth House deals with renewal and re-development, as well as picking up the pieces from past trouble, as well as psychic and emotional resilience. What legacy the querent leaves is often expressed here.
  9. The Ninth House covers journeying and seeking, and associated concepts such as philosophy, religion and the relationship the querent has with the world around them, both seen and unseen. How the querent's religion and/or philosophy factors in to their life can be seen here
  10. (Midheaven) In the Tenth House the querent's status, career and esteem by peers is shown, and how this affects their life. How the querent is seen, as well as how they wish to be seen, is indicated here.
  11. The Eleventh House deals with peers and friends, as well as aspirations. How do these friends and peers either help or hinder the querent? This is expressed in this house.
  12. The final, Twelfth House contains unconscious factors, things that the querent may be carrying and unaware of. Likewise, untapped potential and unrealized assets or weaknesses are here. 

    From this, we can see that this spread may likewise be used with multiple cards, as a separate spread or as a preliminary spread to more specific questions. Be sure to look also for patterns across the cards and positions- are there corresponding patterns across different houses, and what can these patterns tell us? Multiple cards, numbers and also Major Arcana cards can provide a good indication of important factors at the present time. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Scary Cards, Part 2- The Minor Arcana

Moving on to the  Minor Arcana, we find a few more negative cards, and as with the Major Arcana, often the question here is how to change the things we encounter, and in what context they occur. Often it's simply a question of finding what stands in the way, and what needs to change or give in order to relieve the negative aspects of the situation. Remember that though there are temporary troubles, the deciding factor is how those troubles are handled, and what we make of the changes in our lives.
The first card that often has negative context is the Three of Swords- the "heartbreak" card. Looking at the common imagery, here from the Rider Waite deck, the image is of a heart, here an indication of the emotional center of our being, is run through with three swords.
In the background, storm clouds and rain seem to add to the idea of gloom and heartache. But examining this card, there is a positive aspect as well. At least it's a development from the 2 of Swords, which is often marked by uncertainty and vacillation. Here, things have run their course, perhaps for the worse. But nonetheless, the positive aspect of this card is that now is  the time to move forwards- the heart (so to speak) here has been emptied out, and all the things we were holding onto can now drain out. This card can mean heartache, but in that also is a chance to let go of the things that have been long inside us. This card can be a message- don't make it worse by holding on to the heartache as well, and letting it compound and build. This card falls in the suit of Swords- this indicates intellect and thought, and also reason. The card tells us, though you're hurting at present, take a step back. Don't let emotions overwhelm you, but rather think it through, even in the face of trouble.
Continuing with the suit of Swords, let's next examine the Ten of Swords. This one too has a theme of  getting stabbed with something, as does the Three. The most common image is that of a person lying prone, their body pierced with swords. We can assume not only is this person dead, they are undoubtedly dead. This is kind of a grim image, and a seemingly hopeless one. So what comes next? This card has a definite sense of finality about it, with little room for doubt. But the Ten tells us that even from this, a new beginning can come.
Think of this card as saying "Well, that's that. Now what comes next?" Perhaps more than any other card, this is about endings. Again, the suit of Swords tells us that this end has not been gained easily- everything you could think to do has been done, and every aspect of the situation has been thought out- and it just didn't work out. In some ways resembling the Three of Swords, this card is not so much about abandoning as it is having nothing else left to try. Once in a while, we have to simply let go and start over, and the good news is, once we do that, things can only improve. You might well need to hit the bottom before bouncing back up- but that momentum can indeed carry you back upwards.
Moving on to the suit of Cups, another negative card, though one perhaps with a more apparent message of hope, is the Five of Cups. Using the Rider-Waite imagery again, we see a figure seemingly absorbed in his own thoughts and missing something important.
Here is a message of loss, but with that, not a complete loss. Again, we see that there seems to be a question of perspective- the figure in the card is so occupied with the three spilled cups that he seems unaware of the other two that remain. The suit of Cups is tied to emotion, and emotion can be a volatile aspect of the self. Sometimes irrational and sometimes overwhelming, emotions can sometimes mean lack of perspective, and this seems to be a theme throughout the negative cards. The message here is again, take a step back and assess the situation- what did you lose, what do you still have, and what can you do with this present situation? Often it's not as bad as you might think. One thing that struck me about the card is that the figure is solitary and alone. Perhaps he is so wrapped up in himself (pun kind of intended, look at the cloak) that he doesn't see what might be obvious to someone else.
Next is a similar message, in a different suit. The Five of Pentacles is a message not of loss and hardship as it is overlooking something. In this card from Egypt Urnash, we see a figure out in the cold, in a manner of  speaking. She seems distressed, and the Five traditionally means hardship and trouble, and this card takes an interesting turn on things, showing that all is not well apart from the protagonist of this card. Two people are arguing in the background, and it seems the woman would like nothing better than to simply get away.
The message here is that again, these things can seem overwhelming, especially in this suit, often related to things like health, home and finances. Again, these things can seem overwhelming, but as before, there's a call for perspective and insight. Another interpretation of this card is often missed resources and missed assets. The two people in the Rider-Waite version of this card seem to be missing the lighted window behind them-
Again, we see that these two are so wrapped up in their own troubles that they don't see a potential source of help. Someone has their lights on, and might welcome them in out of the cold, if only they would ask!
So throughout the negative cards of the Minor Arcana, we see that there is a consistent message of needing perspective- it's easy to get caught up in negative thought patterns, negative emotions, or even negative patterns of behavior. Often the cards can indicate something needing to be released or changed, and it's often the easiest thing to overlook. It's important to remember also that the ultimate force for change in our own lives is us.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scary Cards, Part 1- The Major Arcana

Ah yes, the so called scary cards. These are the cards that you don't want to see in a reading. Do they promise toil and trouble? Or is it something else? Here I'll examine the four most commonly dreaded cards, and hopefully show why they're not really that scary- the Tarot reflects the world around us, and like a mirror, is neutral. It's up to us to play the hand we're dealt (pun not really intended) and learn what we can from it.
The first thing to remember in any reading is that the cards themselves are neither good nor bad- they simply reflect forces and energies at work in our lives. Calling them good or bad depends largely on the context they occur in, and what that means for us- whether this is in line with what we wish to see, or whether it is not.
First, let's examine the Death card. This one comes from the Halloween Tarot, and I used these cards because, well, they're kind of whimsical and cute, and hopefully reflect the fact that the things we may be afraid of may not be that bad after all.
First, let's examine some of the imagery of this card- much of it is common across decks. We have the iconic skeleton, here without his horse and armor. He holds, of all things, a watering can. On this watering can we see a pentacle, a symbol of the elements combining. In other words, there are a couple symbols of life here- on a card called Death. It looks like Death is watering the pumpkins, tending them so they'll grow. In the background we see an ankh- another life symbol. The vulture watching on the fence is likewise a life symbol, as the vulture eats carrion- life from death, one might say. And there are big sunflower-like plants behind the fence as well. All these life symbols translate to the meaning of this card. Death isn't so much an end  as it is a transformation. Though not present on this card, some decks incorporate a butterfly somewhere on the card. Butterflies come from caterpillars, and are often used as a symbol of transformation and renewal, and this too is a part of Death's message. It's time for things to change when we see the Death card in a reading. The skeletal figure we see is an indication that yes, change can be scary. We move from the comfort of the known into uncertainty and changes. However, going back to the butterfly, we see that the butterfly can't stay in the cocoon forever- in order to spread its wings and fly, it needs to come into that new state of existence. And when the Death card comes up, it's a message that change is needed and though this change may be difficult, in the long run it's for the best. Again, it's up to us what we make of that change, and whether that change can be a positive force or a destructive and worrisome one. For comparison purposes, let's look also at the Rider-Waite version of Death.
There's that same skeletal figure, but examining the symbolism in this card, we see a few other aspects of the card. First,Death here rides as a conqueror, like an inevitable force. He seems to be taking out kings and commoners, impartial to their station in life. But look at the bishop in this picture. He doesn't seem to be afraid, and perhaps is welcoming Death, knowing the change he'll bring and knowing this too is a necessary part of life. In the distance we see the sun, either rising or setting- likewise, a symbol of change and its inevitability,. When the sun sets, remember that it sets only to rise again- night follows day, and from endings come beginnings. It falls to us to use this time of change, like the vulture in the previous card. Kind of an odd analogy, I know, but think of it in terms of death leading to new life; the vulture uses the death of its food to sustain and continue life, and we too can use the change Death brings to make a better place for ourselves.
Next up, let's consider the Tower. This is a card that indicates destruction and a tearing down. Here is the Halloween Tarot version of this card, which likewise contains some interesting symbols.
The ghosts in the house don't look particularly happy to be there- is this because of the lightning bolt crashing into the top of the house, or is it because they are stuck in the house? The fence around the house indicates perhaps that it's a difficult place to get into, and apparently a harder place to get out of. The message of the Tower is both tearing down and renewing. Think of the destruction the Tower indicates as renovation and demolition. The space needs to be cleared out so that new construction can begin on that site. Often what's torn down is a facade, or a false front- the things we build up, either intentionally or not, that perhaps have outlived their usefulness, and are now simply in the way. Though these things are comfortable and known, again the change they indicate is in and of itself neither good nor bad- it's up to us to determine whether or not we can make use of the change, and build upon the foundation that remains here, and use the space to build something new on the cleared space.
The next card is one that has several aspects to it- The Devil. The Devil is interpreted as a figure of addiction, and being stuck in a cycle of self-destruction and negativity; the things we'd either like to let go of and can't, or the things that we allow ourselves to be bound to. Here again is the Rider-Waite imagery of this card.
Hardly a pleasant-looking figure, the Devil has two figures chained to the pillar he crouches on. But looking closely, the chains around their necks seem a lot like they're loose- those figures could perhaps just as easily slip the links over their heads and be on their way. The horns and tails indicate corruption-whatever it is that holds them to the Devil was originally something good, yet through warping and misusing it, they became trapped. So where's the positive here? The Devil can be a teaching figure, as well. Like the rest of the cards, the Devil simply reflects the situation. When we see the Devil in a reading, it's a call to examine what it is that holds us to our present circumstances- and how we can change that very set of circumstances. It's often a bit more subtle than addiction or something that may well seem readily apparent. It could be negative, self-defeating thought patterns. In psychology, there's a concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy; if a person expects to fail, they may unconsciously undermine their efforts, or not try- the result is, of course, failure. This then becomes interpreted as something wrong with themselves, or the world around them- either way, they expect to fail, so they do, and thus reinforce their own hopelessness. Bringing this to light can be a difficult and painful thing to do, but it also calls for courage and strength to examine the situation for what it is- and in this way, finally moving forwards and past the things that have kept us stuck spinning our wheels.
Finally, a card with some less negative interpretations is  the Hanged Man. This is a card calling for new perspective, and this new perspective is sometimes born of trouble and discomfort. The Hanged Man often is used to represent Odin, hanging on Yggdrasil, the World Tree for nine days. The story goes that he was wounded, left out unprotected in the elements, and in a great deal of pain. His cries reached all over the World Tree, and even the other gods covered their ears at the sound. So why did Odin do it? To gain understanding and the wisdom of the runes- because the suffering was worth it, in short. Here is the Hanged Man image from the Halloween Tarot.
The Hanged Man here is represented as a scarecrow, perhaps indicating that he was hung there without a choice in the matter, and cannot free himself. Sometimes the message of the Hanged Man is not a welcome one, as circumstances put us in a rough spot. Yet like most of the "scary" cards, this seems to point to forces beyond our control- we fear what we don't understand, and fear the unknown, as well as the impartial nature of fate. Yet again, through this suffering and trouble, new perspective can be gained. To go back to Odin, it was through this suffering that he gained the knowledge he was after. And this too is a part of the message of the Hanged Man- that we need to keep our eyes, so to speak, on the prize. Remember that the rewards are worth the work. More than anything else, we  can de-scary the Hanged Man by taking a longer view. What we see at present may be only the difficulty and trouble, but in the long run, what will we gain from that in terms of wisdom and understanding, and even strength of character? Hanging upside down is indeed one way to gain a new viewpoint, and in a more symbolic sense, the card represents things being shook up, turned upside down, and generally disrupted. But at the same time, it challenges us to examine assumptions and the things we take for granted in our day to day lives.
So in these cards, there is a theme of forces seemingly beyond our control- and indeed, we'll encounter things in our lives that are beyond our control. We are creatures of habit- we like predictability and stability, and when that stability is thrown to the four winds, we get scared and upset. But at the same time, change is a necessary part of life. And it's neither good nor bad, in and of itself. The message here is use that change as well as we can- determine where and how we can be most effective, and use the change around us to make the world we want. Change and growth may well be inevitable in our lives, like Death riding as an unstoppable conqueror. However, lamenting our situation and struggling to hold onto the past are not.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Curses, Negative Energy And How To Avoid Them

Do you think you're cursed? Unlucky? Born under a bad sign? Well, you may well be unlucky, and I think we've all felt that way now and again. But cursed? That's a lot less likely than people might think. And unfortunately, there are con artists willing to remove a curse from you- for a fee. The odds are you're not cursed, unless someone really has it out for you. While it's certainly possible that there are some malevolent witches, sorcerers, or what have you out there with nothing better to do than hurl curses at people, the odds are you are not cursed. Let's start by reviewing the basic anatomy of a curse. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a curse as a prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon one; imprecation. So we can assume first, a curse is deliberate. It's not like tripping on the sidewalk and poof, you're cursed. No, like all such things, a curse requires will and intent. It also requires a specific target- curses are not generally mechanical in nature, like you see in the movies- pick up the artifact, step into the house/tomb/whatever, open the door, read from the book, whatever else Hollywood has come up with, and you set the curse in motion upon yourself, like winding up a watch.
Don't mistake negative energy for a curse! And don't listen to anyone who does. 

Many of us may be familiar with the idea that what we send out comes back to us three times. I think the three is a bit of an arbitrary number, but the principle is certainly true. So when cursing someone, you wind up with the same malevolence coming back on your own head. Like I said, if you're cursed, someone must really have it out for you. There's an interesting article on the Witchvox website about curses- though it raises an interesting point- there is a distinction between a curse and negative energy. The author doesn't seem to fully make this distinction, but I think it's one worth examining  here.
So to review here, we have two distinct areas of negativity- one is indeed, a curse. The other is simply negative thought patterns, self-fulfilling prophecies, and self-doubt. This second is much more common than a curse, and will crop up in the context of a reading. If you're feeling down and bad luck seems to have your number, don't despair! The best antidote to negative energy is, well, positive energy. Take control of your own life, and make things happen that you want to have happen. It could be you're working through some negative aspects of your past- that's fine, just know that this too will pass. Try to keep things in perspective- I can tell you from experience, when you're stressed out and one thing after another happens, you're ready to just about lose your mind! This is human nature, but understanding it can go a good ways towards helping you. If you consult your friendly neighborhood Tarot reader with a question about why your life seems to be going south in a hurry, the answer shouldn't be "you have a generational/whatever curse, you need to have it lifted". At least, not right off the bat. I can't rule out the possibility, though I myself have never encountered this situation so far. I will say that the odds of you being under a curse, generational or otherwise, are very, very slim. Coming to a reader with this type of question, you'll usually find that there are some patterns in your life, either conscious or otherwise, that can trap you in a cycle of negativity. Some of these are easier to change than others- some not. Nonetheless, it can be done. The main thing is to keep an open mind where these things are concerned. Don't let habit, ego or both stand in the way of what you want to see happen. In some cases the person stuck in this cycle of negativity may not realize the nature of the problem, but always keep an open mind, and always be willing to change for the better, and to listen to the guidance the world around you is providing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Hecate Spread

There are a great many spreads available- perhaps even more spreads than there are readers! The right spread can assist in clarifying a question and providing insight, just as the wrong spread can confuse the issue and cloud the answer. In some cases a reader can customize a spread to fit the question or personality of the querent. The question can also aid in determining what type of spread will be most effective- what does the querent want to know from the reading?

I developed this spread to help answer questions relating to the direction of life and decision making- what factors contribute to thought patterns in the present, as well as what factors on an emotional and tangible level. The design of this spread was inspired in part by the Present spread from Anna Cortez, and also incorporates Hecate, the Greek patroness of witches. She is often portrayed with three faces, or three forms- a young woman, the maiden, a mature woman, the mother, and finally an old wise woman, the crone. These three aspects also represent various phases of life, or various phases of development, from potential to actuality to consequence, and this is in part what the spread is meant to convey. This spread is useful for decision making or examining a life path- where things are going, and what factors contribute to where the querent currently finds his or herself.
The layout of the spread is here:


2  5  8

3  6  9

4  7  10
In this spread, there are three vertical columns, and three horizontal rows. (We'll leave the first card for now). The vertical columns represent the three aspects of Hecate- the left hand column represents the Maiden aspect, the middle column represents the Mother aspect, and the right- hand column represents the Crone aspect. The three horizontal rows indicate three levels on which the querent interacts with the world around them- the top level represents cognitive factors, the middle represents emotional and spiritual factors, and the lower level represents physical aspects- assets, stepping stones or stumbling blocks. I gave each position a name to indicate its position in time and level of influence.
1. The Torch- this position represents the overall influence and direction the querent has taken so far, and represents the path of life this person has chosen. This position can also provide the overall theme of the reading.
2. The Maiden's Eye- in this position, we're dealing with the past, things that have occurred already, yet nonetheless can continue to influence the present. Here are past experiences and memories.
3. The Maiden's Heart- here are emotional memories, as well as guidance provided in the past that has led up to the present- think of this position as where the querent's heart and emotions, as well as higher intuition, have led them. Here also we may see subconscious factors, or something in the past that the querent has overlooked, but nonetheless does influence the situation.
4. The Maiden's Foot- this is any obstacles, tangible factors (employment, finances and similar) and opportunities that have led the querent to the current situation in material terms. Financial hardships, job opportunities they have taken as well as troubles will appear here.
When interpreting these first 4 cards, the key is to understand where the querent is coming from- the Maiden represents a malleable, shapeable aspect of the querent, and what factors have shaped who they are today. These experiences and beliefs will likewise guide and shape who they become in the present- and by extension, where the future will lead them.
5. The Mother's Eye- This position tells of the querent's current outlook and viewpoint on their current situation. Positive or negative, this also can influence what decisions the querent makes. An important factor to keep in mind here is what the querent sees and likewise, overlooks.
6. The Mother's Heart- here again are emotional factors in the present, and spiritual guidance the querent finds. Here also are subconscious influences, things the querent may not be readily aware of, or again, overlooked. Here are the subtle nudges that guide the querent, for better or worse.
7. The Mother's Foot- Again, in this position we find current tangible influences- whereas the previous position dealt with hopes and fears, this position deals with physical factors- decisions the querent makes, as well as opportunities and goals at the present time.
With the middle three positions, the goal here is to provide a current viewpoint of the situation; mental, emotional and physical. This can be influenced by what has come before, as experience can contribute to current understanding, as well as  the querent's current outlook.
8- The Crone's Eye- Here is the outlook of the querent, what they expect to see. Here also are desired outcomes and expectations about the future. This likewise is based on the current situation and past experiences, which create in turn expectations.
9. The Crone's Heart- here are factors involving hopes and fears for the future. What the querent hopes and fears for the future may be represented here, as well as where the Divine may be guiding a given individual in the longer term. Look here for clues to where the querent is being led, or what decisions they make regarding their future.
10. The Crone's Foot- Here we find the final, physical manifestation of the querent's decisions and path of life. This position can also indicate the jumping-off point, so to speak, for the next stage of the querent's life.
When interpreting this last column, the key is understanding both how the querent has been influenced by the past and present, and using these factors to determine probable outcomes. As the Crone is a figure of wisdom coming from experience, think of this as a kind of hindsight without the hind. The three right hand cards are meant to determine likely outcomes from what's going on at present. If the querent wishes to change this outcome, the factors to do this can appear both in their own thoughts and actions at present.
Overall, this spread is meant to determine longer-term influences on a person, and how those influences manifest, and have manifested already. Remember, the ability to change your path is always within you, and the key to initiating change is understanding.