Friday, December 12, 2008

Cleansing and Protecting Your Cards

by Genie,

Here's my take on ritual and ceremony in regard to divination. The more rules you create for how tarot reading should be done, the more you put yourself in a box. The fact is, there are no rules. The only wrong way to read tarot is to do it with bad intentions. The only wrong way to treat your cards is to treat them in a way that makes you uncomfortable or goes against your belief system.

Your cards don't need a moon bath or to be passed through incense smoke. They don't need special colored cloths to cover them. They don't need a sacred box to be stored in or to be kept on an altar. They don't need to be prayed over. They don't need protection from evil spirits. They don't need any of these things unless it makes you happy to do them. Tarot cards are just a tool, like a hammer or a screwdriver. The "magic" is in you. So, in caring for and cleansing your cards, do what You need, not what someone somewhere says your cards need. They're just paper. All they really need is to be kept out of direct sunlight (or they will fade over time) and to be kept away from liquids.

My tarot cards frequently get moon baths. I do it because I like having an excuse to go outside and play in the moonlight. If there is a thunderstorm about I will open a window and set my cards near it--not too close--so that they can soak up all that awesome pre-storm air. I frequently pass my cards/runes/divination tools through incense smoke as I recite the following, "Through the use of (insert name of divination tool here) I shall do no harm. Under the influence of the full moon (or whatever phase the moon happens to be in at the time) I re-commit myself to serving a higher purpose. Through the use of __________ I seek to help others find their own truths. I release myself of any negativity, I release myself of illusions. I am cleansed. I am perfect. I am a clear channel of wisdom, love, and understanding. I am a part of All That Is. I am one with Everything." Is any of this ritual necessary? No. Not at all.

The thing is, it's not my cards that need this "spell." It's my mind that needs the reminder of why I read cards or cast runes or walk around with divining rods in my hands.

It's important, of course, to honor your personal beliefs and work that into your own personal rituals. I don't mean to discount what you believe in. I'm just suggesting that you don't box yourself in by creating too many new rules for yourself.

If I've been reading with a deck for a long while or if I do a reading that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I put all my cards in order by playing solitaire with them. If you cheat, it goes very quickly. This is a way to cleanse cards.... not cheating at solitaire but putting them all in order. I don't think it really cleanses the cards, although it could, but I think it does clear the mind. Playing solitaire with them is hardly a requirement for putting them in order. I just wanted to have more fun with my cards.

I once got a little too enthusiastic about my tarot ritual. I decided my cards needed to be anointed with my favorite oils. I thought I was being so smart to rub the oil into my hand and then, basically, just touch the cards a bit to pass the most minute amount of oil onto them. Well, I can tell you, this was really stupid of me. My cards stuck together and later I had to rip them apart in places. I still use that deck, but it's forever marked by my brilliant idea. Now I just keep a sachet of cloves in my tarot box (where all my tarot decks are stored) that I occasionally drip a few drops of oil onto. All my tarot bags smell so nice.

I honestly don't believe that a tarot deck needs the protection of a tarot cloth or bag. Not on a spiritual/cosmic level. But it keeps them together, protects them from light and dust, and it's very attractive. For this reason, all my tarot decks are in bags or bandanas. I found that I could buy bandanas in enough different colors that my decks are now color coded and I don't have to unwrap every deck to find the one I want. A dear, sweet, wonderful but sadly departed friend made me several tarot bags, each of a different fabric, that now provide excellent protection as well as easy identification for six of my tarot decks. I will treasure these bags forever. When I first started collecting decks I'd read that decks should be wrapped in black cloth for protection. Well..... this makes them nearly impossible to differentiate from each other. So I changed the rule.

Use a rule because it works for you, not because someone told you that you should do it. Use a rule so long as it serves you and when/if it ceases to serve you, change the rule! Make a ritual of it if you need to. Ritual can be so fun!

A final note on cleansing your decks of whatever it is you feel they need to be cleansed of or to protect them from whatever you feel they may need protection from: Whatever higher power you pray to, worship, or connect with... do you think it forgets you after a while? If you ask for protection from _______ for yourself or your tools, that same amount of protection will always be with you and your tools for as long as you desire it because Goddess/God/Source/The Universe doesn't take coffee breaks and s/he doesn't forget. I encourage you to have faith.

Genie, enjoys reading tarot as much as she enjoys teaching it. Feel free to ask help from her in learning tarot. What else can she give away? Rune casts, tree drawing analysis, and dream interpretation. What's in it for her? This is how she continues her education! Genie is also the author of Tarot 101 & Free Tarot Reading

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tarot in Christianity

by Celestian

It's interesting to know that many of us who belong to various Christian denominations would be interested in Tarot Reading. Many of my friends who asks for readings are actually people who are very spiritual and devoted to their religions.

This morning I received an email from one of our church members in the US telling me that she is very interested in playing Tarot, but most of the Tarot books she found in the stores are all in divination concepts. What made her interested to ask me is about a series of responses I posted on our church members forum website (not an official church website) regarding Tarot reading. A question was posted inquiring if Tarot is acceptable in our Church. So, I responded that it all depends on how one uses Tarot. I explained further that Tarot is a great counseling tool and it helps and guide the querent to make proper decisions most especially in times of very difficult situations or problems. The principle taught in Tarot is very much the same as the principles taught by all Christian churches.

So, what makes it difficult for Tarot to be accepted in the Christian world? Some reasons could be something about the past history of Tarot when it was mainly used by sorcerers or occultists as a tool for divination. Take for example the story of Aliester Crowley who designed the Thoth Tarot. He was well known in history as a cruel man and a tormentor of animals. He lived a dark life, practiced and have written books on dark magic. We also have the stories of the gypsies who because of their inferior social status in the society used Tarot as one means of earning their livelihood.

All in all, it was not really a pleasant history for Tarot. In fact, if I haven't studied Tarot I would think likewise. So, what makes Tarot interesting to me as a Christian? One quick reason is its arts. Nowadays, there are hundreds of beautifully designed Tarot cards in the market. You can even find some cards specially designed for children (Gummy Bear Tarot), for teenage boys (Dragon Tarot), for teenage girls (Vanessa Tarot), and for the rest of us. There are several Christian themed cards, too. ( So, Tarot is now catering and are designed for all ages and people of all walks of life.

Another good reason why I love Tarot is the principles taught in the readings. It teaches common principles to that what all Christian churches teaches on Sunday schools. It teaches us how to shun evil, to make right choices, to seek for spiritual guidance from our spiritual leaders, to free ourselves from all weakedness in order to find happiness in life. These are just few of the many teachings of Tarot.

In common sense, Tarot is actually a spiritual guide for everyone who needs light to shine their paths in times of darkness and sorrow. It encourages us to reach our goals by living a good life. It gives us a sense of direction. It is what the scriptures are all about. Leading us to that Light where we can find joy and happiness in life.

Tarot for me is like a torch that I am carrying when I am enter a dark tunnel. Everything inside the tunnel is illuminated and touched by its light so I could find my way to reach its very end. It is a faithful friend who teaches me to do what is right.

I would sincerely want to hear from you about your own Christian view on Tarot. Cheers.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sure It Is, Cards Can Tell!

by Celestian

I have been reading cards since I was 16 years old, inspired by my stepmother who was a gifted card reader herself. When I started at that early age, I have never heard the word Tarot not until the early 2000s when it was introduced and popularized in a TV show in the Philippines, where a Tarot Reader reads fortune for local celebrities.

I was trained to read by my stepmother using ordinary playing cards - diamond cards means money, spades indicates trouble or problems ahead, hearts simply means love, and clubs means travel. It was a very simple method, but surprisingly that is when I also discovered that I have a special gift of knowing. I read for my friends and families predicting travels, paper works, love life, studies, jobs, and even coming births. Oftentimes, I only knew I was right when I meet them back again after long years of absence.

Twenty years ago, I read for a friend, predicted that a certain mother would give her family twin baby girls for adoption. I foresaw that she will take one of the twin babies and her sister will most probably adopt the other one, too. I also saw that these twin babies will give their family a good luck.

I met her recently here in Hong Kong and told me to my surprise that all my predictions about the twin babies did really happen! She told me that a few years after my reading, a neighbor did gave birth to twin baby girls but because of poverty, the woman offered her babies to my friend’s family for adoption. My friend agreed to adopt only one of the babies because that is all that she can afford due to her own family’s low financial standing. To her surprise, her sister, who was still single at that time, wanted to adopt the other baby, too! So, in other words, they got the two babies as predicted. After years of raising these two little girls, my friend’s husband was able to work abroad as a seaman, on the other hand, she found a job in Hong Kong and was able to raise their children to college. She became successful and is now contended with her life. So, what happens to her sister who adopted the other baby? After a few years, she married a rich young man, started a successful lumberyard business and is now enjoying all the bounties of life.

In Hong Kong, I gave my friend another reading, this time using my Tarot cards. I told her that she has a secret and that she does not know what to do with that secret. I told her that if she opens that secret it would bring her fortune. She was confused, I, too was confused. Then, I added by saying that, that secret was a gift to her by someone close to her heart. More confused, she told me that she does not have any secret at all and that her life is an open book. So I dismissed it and told her that it may probably something that she has just forgotten for a long time.

Early in the morning the following day, my phone rings! It was she. She told me that she couldn’t sleep that night thinking about that long forgotten secret. What could that be? Alas, she remembers! When her husband came back, after his first job assignment abroad, he presented her with a box full of interesting stones. It was stones of different colors. Her husband wasn’t sure of the true value of these stones since it was just given to him as a gift by a friend he met abroad. She kept it for a long time, until her husband passed away. When she went to work in Hong Kong ten years ago, because of its sentimental value and afraid that someone would steal it, she buried the box under the ground in her backyard. Now, are these stones precious? Has it have values? Will it give her a fortune? We’ll find it out when she goes home. She’ll let us know.

These are only a couple of the many predictions I saw from the cards. I joined LivePerson only three months ago and I can share with you one interesting experience I have there. My computer rings and it was a request for a chat reading. It came from Malaysia. A young executive is on the other line. He asked me where I am and I told him that I am in Hong Kong. He said, “good to know that”. He then asked me a question that I usually don’t want to answer. He asked me, “Will I pass my exam?” “What…?”, I replied in my head. “… You mean this guy wants me to know if he will pass his exam? What if he didn’t study and the cards say “yes”, and he fails. Oh, my goodness, this is going to be the end of my career in LivePerson.” Inspite of my apprehension to answer his question, I drew three cards for him. Three upright cards which means a “yes”! So, I told him that it’s a “yes” and that he will pass his exam. Wow, I told myself, what a prediction. We’ll see then.

A few days later, he came back to me for a chat. He told me that he took a pre-test and he failed and is now a hundred percent sure that he will not be able to pass his coming exam because of its level of difficulty. He wants to back out! I told him firmly, that I have faith in my reading and that he should go for it. I then confirmed to him that he would pass.

After chatting, I quickly pulled out my cards and check if I am right. The answer was “yes” again. Still not convinced, I pulled my other set of tarot cards to reconfirm the answer. It was a clear “yes” again. Frustrated, I asked myself when is it going to say “no”. A week later, I received an email from him. He told me that he did take his exam because of my encouragement and surely he did passed! He promised that when he comes to Hong Kong, he would treat me for a grand dinner with his family. Whew!!

Sure it is, cards can tell!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Introduction to Archetypes

by Janet Boyer

It can be di
fficult to discover personal meaning and purpose when we don't zoom out to get a big picture of the patterns and symbols in our life. One way we can discover the patterns and purposes of our life is by discerning prevalent Archetypes and symbols.

What is an
Archetype? An Archetype is a template or original pattern from which copies are made. Psychologist Carl Jung, author Joseph Campbell, storyteller/author Clarissa Pinkola Estes, psychologist Jean Shinonda-Bolen and others are among those that have brought the concept of Archetypes into our consciousness.

To break it down in practical, every day terms, Archetypes are patterns that are universally recognized. We see Archetypes in myths, fairy tales, literature, and movies. Think about your own life. Which types of movies do you like? Do you consistently cast yourself in the Hero role? The Underdog or Victim? The Detective? What about the Warrior, Princess, or Femme Fatale?

Do any of the "characters" you play interact consistently with others? Do you find that you clash with Victims, for example, and wish they'd stop whining? Do you want to kick them? Are you a Bully? (Coward?) Do you seek to rescue them? (Rescuer) Empower them? (Liberator) Ignore them?

Many Archetypes "dance" with one another. Advocates are often paired with Victims, Knights with Damsels, Students with Teachers, Mother/Father with Child, etc. These Archetypal dramas play out repeatedly, whether we are conscious of it or not. The benefit of becoming conscious of these energies is that we find ourselves entering an awareness of what animates us and the kind of relationships we are drawn to. "Animation" is usually an emotional reaction of either enthusiastic affinity or extreme distaste. When we are able to identify these energies, we can step back and begin to see the forest for the trees. That is, we can see the patterns in our life and in others, instead of viewing everything so personally. In recognizing these patterns, we become more conscious, and when we become more conscious, we then have choice. There is no choice without awareness. This is why many Archetypal dramas in relationships have identifiable repeating patterns, even with different partners: there is no awareness of what energies we our using, our motivations, or the Archetypal dynamics of our relationships to others and the world.

Archetypes are neither good or bad, despite the reputation of some. Each one can strengthen, protect, and help fulfill our soul's curriculum we designed before incarnation. For example, the Prostitute archetype sounds quite negative. Yet, when we are aware of this particular pattern, we become empowered--refusing to "sell out" for survival or security.

There are light and shadow connected to every archetype. However, they do not correlate to good/bad or positive/negative. Rather, the "light" areas of an archetype are the ones we recognized and readily embrace. The "shadow" areas of an archetype are the ones we project onto others. This projection can either be in the form of adulation and hero-worship or in the form of demonetization and judgment. Either way, to project an archetypal patterns to another is, in some way, not to own it. Carl Jung believed that archetypes reside in the collective unconscious, which is why they are universally recognized and contained, to a greater or lesser degree, within the psyche of every person. Jung asserted that when an individual over-identifies with an archetype--to the point of almost becoming "possessed" by a pattern--psychosis results.

Another way we can see our life symbolically is to examine symbols that surround us. What animals, trees, or objects do you identify with? List as many qualities you can about them. Are there any correlations to your life, personality, or interactions with others? What are you good at? What is your bliss? If you could turn into a character or Archetype, which would it be? What do you collect? Do certain symbols crop up in your dreams?

Disciplines such as astrology, Tarot, and personality models all contain archetypal patterns. For example, in Celtic astrology, archetypal patterns are correlated with tree spirits and their personalities. In Chinese astrology, archetypal patterns are correlated with 12 different animals who display certain hallmark traits. The Major Arcana of the Tarot features 22 developmental archetypal patterns such as Fool, Magician, Empress, and Hermit. In the Enneagram, there are 9 Types which manifest specific archetypal patterns. A Type 7 often manifests the Hedonist and Renaissance Person pattern, while a Type 9 often manifests the Peacemaker or Diplomat archetype. In the Ansir system, the 14 Style "Bosses" are named for their archetypal behaviors, with monikers such as Visionary, Empath, and Healer. David Keirsey has categorized humanity into four temperments which contain four variants each. For example, The Idealist termperment (NF) includes Champions, Healers, Counselors, and Teachers.

Guidance and information is all around you in the form of Archetypal energy patterns and symbols. Insight is transmitting like a radio signal on a specific frequency. Learning to see ourselves and our lives symbolically sharpens our ability to see these patterns, and injects greater meaning and purpose into our lives. It also helps us discover areas where we are "asleep", and in waking up to the parts we and others are playing in this drama called life, we become more flexible and skilled at making conscious choices for our highest good.

Janet Boyer is the author of The Back in Time Tarot Book and creator of BIT Tarot Method. An Top 100 Reviewer, Janet is a prolific writer and reviewer, having authored over 1,000 reviews and articles at Janet,, Edge News, Coffee Magazine, Tarot World Magazine, Editor of the 2009 Tarot World Annual (TWM Publishing), and an Editor at Janet also performs intuitive Tarot readings for her worldwide clientele via email through her site at She lives in Southwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and son.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Archetypal Tarot: A Template for Our Life Experiences

By Geraldine Amaral

Pick up just about any book on the Tarot and you will probably find more than a few spreads at the end of the book or interspersed throughout the book. There are even Tarot books that are solely about spreads (such as The Complete Book of Tarot Spreads by Evelin Burger), with page after page of spreads. Since there is an almost limitless number of layouts in which the Tarot cards can be placed, how do you know which one(s) to use? How can you choose?

Choosing a Tarot Spread

Using the Tarot, especially when you are just starting out in your Tarot studies, is one of those times when “less is definitely more.” The symbols and metaphors within the cards’ images, and the wisdom in the stories they tell hold enormous depth and breadth. The fewer cards you use in a reading the more impact they will have and the easier it will be for your psyche to integrate the messages which are coming through the cards. A simple spread—one to four cards—can be quite powerful and can provide you with endless insights and guidance. If you use a lot of cards in a spread, the messages you receive could be confusing or overwhelming, leading you to a point of sensory overload. Keep it simple!

Here’s one such straightforward spread:

1 2 3

1 The Current Issue/Problem
2 Action or Lack of Action Needed for a Favorable Outcome
3 New Possibility (Based on Advice of #2)

Purpose of the Spread

Another factor to consider when selecting, or even creating your own spreads, is determining the purpose of the spread. Do you want help solving a problem? Do you want predictive information? Do you want to find comfort during a difficult time? Or do you seek a creative brainstorming session to help you make a wise decision? Each one of these situations would call for a different type of spread.

Since my personal favorite use of the Tarot is for self-understanding and inner exploration, one of my favorite spreads is a very simple one called “Advice from the Archetypes.” It is not a predictive spread, or a brainstorming spread or a decision-making spread. Rather, it is meant to help you see and understand yourself more clearly. This compact spread may help encourage a “dialogue” between you and your deck, showing you a mirror of your current state of consciousness. You could even consider these cards to be your own personal panel of wise advisors.

Begin by shuffling the deck, taking some nice deep breaths and focusing within. Using the 22 Major Arcana cards only, draw and lay out three cards as follows:

1 2 3

1. The Archetype influencing where you are now
2. The Archetype influencing where you desire to be
3. The Archetype influencing the path to your desires

Because it utilizes only the Major Arcana cards, this spread will show you the cosmic and psychological forces operating in your life in the three areas (where you are now, where you desire to be and the path to get there). It will help you explore the energies around you. It will show you the current themes operating in your spiritual journey in the current phase of your life. But, if you would like to take it one step further, you can add a Minor Arcana card to each of the Major Arcana cards. These cards would represent the specific aspect of your life that the archetype is addressing. While the Major Arcana card shows you the general energies, the Minor Arcana card shows you the particular life experience that the Major card portrays. Place these cards above the archetype card in the spread, as if the message was a bubble above each card’s head. Now observe how the cards modify and interact with each other in each category.


But let’s back up a moment and talk about what we mean by “archetypes” and why we care about them. Applying concepts developed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, you can use the Tarot Cards to assist you in the process of "individuation" or individual healing. Individuation, according to Jung, is the process of becoming a more complete or whole personality, primarily through the exploration of symbols and myths; it is the process of becoming one's whole, unique self beyond the cultural stereotypes. Jung focused his work on mankind’s search for integration and wholeness. His "psychology of wholeness" was primarily concerned with man and his relationship to the unconscious. Jung encouraged the idea that the unconscious could serve as a guide for living. He described a personal unconscious which consists of the contents of an individual's mind acquired during that individual's specific life[1] -- experiences and images that have been forgotten or repressed. He further believed that we all share in the collective unconscious, a realm deep below the personal unconscious.[2] He proposed that all humans are linked together through the collective unconscious since all humans share in the archetypes,[3] which compose the collective unconscious.

The archetypes are inherited behaviors: innate predispositions to experiences that portray universal human situations. They are a template for human experience. They are "cultural imprints" -- images and ideas reinforced by the thoughts and actions of humans throughout time.

Further, these archetypes have cross-cultural implications; their meanings are consistent from culture to culture. A few examples of experiential archetypes are finding a mate (as in the Lovers card), confronting death or change (as in the Death card) or seeking a spiritual path (as in the Hermit card). Examples of personal archetypes are the young hero (as in the Magician), the impetuous adolescent (as in the Fool card), or the nurturing mother (as in the Empress card). Because these archetypes have developed throughout the centuries, they enable people to react to situations in ways similar to their ancestors. Therefore, Jung believed that the collective unconscious contains great wisdom -- wisdom that has the potential to guide humanity – and each one of us. He believed that psychological healing should bring people into contact with both the collective and personal unconscious, and the archetypal symbols found there. Such contact could act as a means of uncovering inherent wisdom and integrating any experiences that may be disassociated from the rest of the psyche.

Jung also suggested that the information in the collective unconscious is in a non-verbal state -- it is portrayed through symbols and pictures. Is it possible that the Tarot images are a visual expression of the archetypes that Jung described? Since the cards portray human experiences, the totality of our earthly existence, I think they do portray archetypal experiences. They show us a snapshot of the templates governing our lives.

In short, Jung's collective unconscious is a repository for universal, shared symbols; the Tarot is a visual expression for these same shared symbols. Since the symbols of the Tarot depict the kinds of shared experiences described by Jung, each Tarot Card can be viewed as an archetype, representing experiences from either one's personal or collective unconscious. By exploring the symbols of the Tarot as archetypes, as in the Advice from the Archetypes Spread, we are able to delve into deeper levels of consciousness, integrating experiences that may have been repressed or suppressed, and calling forth experiences and memories from the deepest recesses of our minds.

Using the Advice from the Archetypes Spread is meant to interpret the Tarot symbols in a Jungian manner – to strive to attain a state of absolute self-knowledge or, as Jung called it, individuation, as described previously. The Tarot offers a unique way to enter into and explore powerful energies that can help one to heal, to grow and to approach individuation. Further, using the Tarot in this particular way can express a special state of consciousness in which the conscious mind turns inward in order to access the wisdom of the deeper mind. This deeper mind has no boundaries and no limitations. Through it, we can tap all our resources and none of our ego's self-imposed restrictions. Tarot Cards offer a unique conduit to the unconscious.

Examples from the Advice from the Archetypes

For example, in the Advice from the Archetypes Spread, if the Empress Card (the archetypal mother) appeared as the first card in the spread (where you are now), it might suggest that you are exploring matters around mothering – your own motherhood, or perhaps your relationship with your mother. You might be called upon to conceptualize your definition of "mother," or to resolve issues with your mother. If the High Priestess appeared in the second card of the spread (where you desire to be), it might suggest that you are seeking to develop your intuition, to learn to trust yourself more, especially in regard to a particular situation in your life. The High Priestess often acts as a catalyst for activating the wisdom of the unconscious mind or the intuitive mind. And last, if the Death card came up in the third position (the path to what you desire), it might suggest that in order to achieve what you seek, you will need to make some major changes -- perhaps letting go of some old self-concepts, patterns of behavior, or even some toxic relationships.

The Tarot Gifts

So you see, despite what you may have thought, Tarot Cards are NOT only about fortune-telling! They are a useful tool for self-development and for accessing inner wisdom through meditation or contemplation. Tarot Cards can assist you in identifying and replacing beliefs that are counter-productive to your well-being. They can assist you in focusing your intentions and energy towards both your internal and external goals. The 78 cards of the Tarot deck can do so many things for you – help you to meditate, brainstorm new ideas, inspire you to act on a particular seed idea, help you to try on a new persona, help you visualize what you want to achieve, or give you hope when you are feeling down.

But if you are seeking self-understanding, then the Advice from the Archetypes Spread is one that can give you much insight for a very long time. In fact, I might suggest that you lay the spread out in plain sight and keep it out for several weeks . . . Let the archetypes “work” on you, showing you the many layers of your psyche that you might not know.

If you are looking for a quick fix reading, then the Advice from the Archetypes Spread may not be right for you. If you believe that life happens from the inside-out, rather than from the outside-in, that our life experiences are determined largely by our internal beliefs, then this spread may provide you with invaluable insights and personal clarity. But no matter what spread you use, your understanding of the individual meanings of cards will develop, and your ability to interpret the interactions between and among the cards will expand as you continue to spread the cards out. There is always a learning curve involved, and you can make it easier on yourself by keeping your spreads very simple. The Tarot holds many gifts for those who are sincere about accessing its wisdom, but be gentle in your learning. Take your time. The wise counsel of the archetypal interpretation of the Tarot images are right there, waiting for you to ask for their guidance. May you be nourished and healed on your Tarot journey.

[1] C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams Reflections ed. Aniela Jaffe (New York: Vintage Books, 1961) 401-402.
[2] Jung 401-402.
[3] Jung 392-393.

Geraldine Amaral is the co-author of Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice, publisher of Celebrating the Tarot Journal and creator of “Tarot 1-2-3,” an instructional video. She conducts a series of unique and creative Tarot classes in the Washington DC area, utilizing Jungian and archetypal psychology. You can contact her at 703-671-7421 or or visit her website at

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Post-It Spread

By Genie,

Questioners a.k.a. Querents rarely have very clear questions for the tarot. An example of this is the woman who came to me recently worried about her son because he had suddenly become very religious and fearful of God and what would happen to his and her soul. She couldn't figure out where it was coming from and wanted to know what the tarot had to say. How do I ask the tarot THAT? That's where the Post-Its come in. Using one Post-It note for each question, I wrote the following on several sheets.

What does he fear? Who might be influencing his thinking on this subject right now? What does Mom need to consider about this situation right now? Oracle.

I spread the Post-Its out on the table and considered them as I shuffled, trusting the Universe to spit out the right cards for the right Post-Its. I drew four cards, one for each Post-It. For me, "Oracle" is sort of a wild card, giving Source the option of sending me a message it knows I'll get.

Once I drew all the cards and considered them, I had the option of drawing more cards for each original card that I drew. These extra cards are often called Clarification Cards. If I don't understand what Source is trying to tell me on a particular question or aspect, then I draw a clarification card on top of that card. If that doesn't help, I know that I'm probably asking the wrong question.

Ultimately I ended up drawing about eleven cards on this issue because the cards that came up opened doors to more questions that helped us narrow down the issue and gave Mom some ideas on how to help her son. Having the Post-Its helped me keep track of what we were asking and what the cards represented.

Post-Its let you create a spread on the fly without having to remember what position represents what. You can lay them out very artistically, if you like. They help you narrow down the question like you'd narrow down a Google search.

Spreads are very personal and there is no right way to do a spread. Some look very fancy, others are quite plain. The Celtic Cross is very popular because it's so aesthetically pleasing and has a long history. I only use it when I'm working with someone who seems to need a big, pretty, fancy spread. Otherwise I prefer the more practical (for me) Post-It spread. Sometimes I rely on a simple three card spread, often ascribing the different meanings to the different positions:

Examples of what meanings I might use are:

1. Past, 2. Present, 3. Future. or
1. The heart of the matter, 2. what is desired, 3. what is suggested (by Source). or
1. What I want, 2. What I need, 3. What Source suggests I consider.

Sometimes no matter what spread you use, Source will have its own ideas about things. Pay attention, if the cards aren't making any sense it could be because the question that was asked is not the question Source cares to answer or it could be that you are asking the wrong question.

When seemingly inappropriate cards come up, pay attention to them and see what message or story they may be trying to impart. Do they make you want to ask the Querent questions unrelated to the issue they are asking about? Then do! It's often the case that the Querent doesn't know or doesn't want you to know what they're really searching for. Be mindful of this and listen to your intuition as you view the cards you draw. If all else fails, ask the tarot what the Questioner is really concerned about or, ask the tarot what the Questioner should be asking.

Genie, enjoys reading tarot as much as she enjoys teaching it. Feel free to ask help from her in learning tarot. What else can she give away? Rune casts, tree drawing analysis, and dream interpretation. What's in it for her? This is how she continues her education! Genie is also the author of Tarot 101 & Free Tarot Reading

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sun Card: Your Bright Shadow

By Geraldine Amaral

Who do you admire and emulate? Who has attributes and qualities that you want to achieve? Perhaps those qualities that you admire in others are aspects of what Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist, called the "Bright Shadow" or the "Golden Shadow." Jung postulated the notion of the dark shadow, as well, which contains our fears, negative self-image, low self-esteem and other destructive capacities. In the dark shadow, we deny these negative attributes in ourselves, and project them onto others. Often, criticism of others is really self-criticism projected outward. In the Tarot deck, the Sun card personifies Jung’s Bright Shadow and the Devil card personifies the shadow.

The "Dark" Shadow and the Bright Shadow work in a similar way. Just as we have a dark part of ourselves that we project onto others, we also have more positive aspects of ourselves that we see in others. People we admire, emulate and respect reflect potentials within ourselves such as aptitudes, abilities, talents, creative urges and creative ways of thinking. These neglected pieces, that which never had a chance to develop, reside within, hidden in the psyche’s inner recesses. Could the person you most admire be a projection of your Bright Shadow?

The meaning for the Sun as the source of earthly life reflects the promise of the Bright Shadow. The Sun card captures the essence of the life force and the capacity for growth within each of us. The nude child portrays the innocence and ebullience of this capacity that we had as children. Like the Star card, which also pictures a nude figure, the naked child represents unabashed self-acceptance -- complete self-love. The child plays in the warmth of the sun, expressing a simple, joyful and happy experience of life. Unlike The Moon card (which portrays hidden influences and subterfuge), there is nothing hidden here. The Sun card heralds a new day dawning, a day filled with liberation, attainment, truth, happiness and contentment. This card depicts pleasure derived from the simple things in life. The Sun card brings rebirth, warmth, happiness, light, love, contentment, freedom. It shines light into your veiled potentials.

When the Sun appears in a reading, it usually means happiness of all kinds: truth, revitalization, attainment and a joyful affirmation of life. It may also suggest that a rebirth of some kind is about to occur. It brings a message of glory and respect to Spirit. It may also assist you in enjoying the simplest pleasures in life. It suggests that your obstacles are behind you in the current situation. It beckons you to have a positive, upbeat attitude regarding whatever situation you are embracing. Like the Star card, when the Sun card appears in a reading, it is a very good sign. The symbolic warmth of this Sun brings healing and renewal.

When the Sun card appears in a Tarot reading, it may be guiding you to explore some part of yourself that you have not nurtured in the past. Perhaps you’ve felt drawn to flute-playing, photography, dancing, or pen and ink drawing. In the Tarot spread, you would look to surrounding cards for clues as to how and in what direction the Sun is guiding you in developing these hidden talents or abilities (See the Tarot spread that follows for a framework for using the Sun card as a guidepost to these hidden talents).

The "random" appearance of the Sun card is one method of working with the positive gifts of this card. You would use the guidance revealed in the spread for direction. Another way of working with the benefits of the Sun card is to consciously choose to use it as a means of uncovering your own unexpressed potentials and talents. You could meditate on this card, carry it with you, put it under your pillow at night or place it in any strategic place in your life in which the rich imagery of the card will enter into your conscious and unconscious mind. The goal is to allow the symbolic meaning of the Sun in its role as the Bright Shadow to help uncover and release the potentials locked within. Gently allow the symbolic warmth and light of the Sun card to nurture and nourish your inner abilities.

THE BRIGHT SHADOW SPREAD - Created by Geraldine Amaral and Lola Lucas

This spread is based on Jung’s concept that the dark shadow has an equal counterpart: the bright or golden shadow which contains our highest potentials and abilities, the inner aspect of ourselves which is our best and brightest aspect, our finest potential. These potentials may not yet manifest themselves in our life and this spread is meant to guide you to where these higher abilities reside.

THE FIRST STEP: The Seeker begins by thoroughly shuffling the deck as she contemplates the question: "Where do my highest potentials and abilities reside?" Then the Seeker will cut the deck into four "randomly" divided piles as follows:

o o

Physical Realm; Mental Realm

o o

Emotional Realm; Spiritual Realm

Each pile represents an aspect of ourselves: physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

THE SECOND STEP: Now look through each pile until you find The Sun card (which signifies the Bright Shadow). The pile in which you have found The Sun card represents the area in your life which contains your highest (as yet untapped) potential. Take a moment to contemplate this area in your life.

THE THIRD STEP: Take this stack of cards in which you found the Sun Card and set the other three piles aside. From here on, you will be using just this stack of cards.

THE FOURTH STEP: Shuffle this new pack again and cut it into three more piles. The first addresses the question: "What aids me in developing my Bright Shadow?" Chose one card to answer. The second: "What hinders me in developing my Bright Shadow?" Choose a second card. The third shows you the possible outcome once you have found and developed your Bright Shadow. chose your final card. Read the cards within each group with emphasis on encouraging the Seeker’s achievement of her highest possible potential.

o o o

What Aids You; What Hinders You; Likely Outcome of Bright Shadow’s Development

Geraldine Amaral is the co-author of Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice, publisher of Celebrating the Tarot Journal and creator of "Tarot 1-2-3," an instructional video. She conducts a series of unique and creative Tarot classes in Washington DC area, utilizing Jungian and archetypal psychology. You can contact her at 703-671-7421 or or visit her website at

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Death Card: Symbol of Transformation

By Geraldine Amaral

The Tarot's Death card, key #13 of the Major Arcana, does not mean physical death. Rather, the Death card portrays symbolic death--a change or transformation. Often, it heralds the end of a familiar or more comfortable mode. It conveys a release that is necessary for growth and expansion. Perhaps it even brings a whole new set of principles that will guide you spiritually, emotionally, psychologically or financially. Joseph Campbell, author of A Hero with A Thousand Faces, describes times of personal change as periods when "The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand." The sunrise depicted in the background of the Death card holds the promise of the transformation that is about to take place: the death of the old self, but also the dawning of a new day. The Death card is a cue that you are at a "threshold"--a crossing into a new phase, unbounded by the past.

If you are casting the cards in a tarot reading for another person, as a sensitive reader, you should always address this card immediately when it appears in a reading, and then go back to the rest of the reading. The "Seeker" (who is receiving the reading) should be reassured that the "death" being depicted here is symbolic and transformational, not literal. You might even encourage the individual to discuss his or her reactions to the card, relating it to events that may be occurring in his or her life. The white rose which the Death figure holds is the symbol of rebirth. It also portrays the mystery that surrounds death and transformation. Since there is no tarot card that specifically portrays birth, we may wonder: Is the Death card really the birth card? The cycles of life, especially birth and death are mysterious and paradoxical. Such mystery is embedded in the tarot's system. It is meant to challenge you and allow you to explore the meaning of life on a deeper level and from a broader perspective.

When this card appears in your reading, it may be an invitation to embrace change and transformation, especially as it refers to your consciousness or past lifestyle. As such, it represents a quintessential form of "letting go." Its appearance may encourage you as you are clearing out the old and making way for the new. You can even meditate on the Death card in a creative visualization process, allowing its potent imagery to infuse your unconscious with its implied invitation to trust the process of transformation and release. The Death card can assist you in dissolving any negative forces that, knowingly or unknowingly, have taken root in your unconscious mind.

At other times, the Death card may appear in your reading when there are changes that you know you need to make, but which you are resisting. The potent Death imagery may serve to remind you that the more you hate something and the more you run from it, the more you are bound to it. You are caught by that which you seek to avoid. Resistance leads to persistence and sometimes that resistance to a problem or situation may actually help to maintain it. The Death card may help you to become liberated from your resistance. As the symbolism makes contact with your deep mind, it retrieves the more elevated doctrine that shows the meaning of death in a broader context. You can never know what miracles, what healing, what insight or growth might come to you through the difficult times of your life, as you face life's challenges. It is likely that the spiritual forces flowing through your periods of change or difficulty will bring an expanded life, a greater self or a greater good. The symbolic death that follows may allow you to move forward. For example, perhaps you are holding onto friendships that are no longer supportive or nurturing. Perhaps your career or job is no longer satisfying. The Death card’s appearance in your reading may be inviting you to deliberately address the issues at hand regarding these changes. Perhaps Death asks, "Is it time to let go and move on? Can you trust that some greater good will come to you as you surrender to the change?"

It can be one of life’s greatest challenges to know when it is time to let go and allow "death" to claim whatever is being embraced. Meditation on the Death card may allow you to discern if, and when, it is time to let go, to mourn and grieve if necessary, and prepares you to be open to whatever is next. The Death card may guide you through a loss or sorrow so that you will not dwell on it excessively.

If you are in the midst of a difficult life challenge, the Death card may also represent the process of spiritual purification in which you gain a deeper understanding of the love of a higher force. That is, often during times of adversity, you may be called to turn to a higher force to guide and sustain you. The Death card challenges you to expand your spiritual beliefs, allowing more of Spirit to touch and heal you. It also holds great hope--the hope that you can start over, embark on a new journey. As we are purged of the old, we are lighter, more receptive--we are freed of the past, ready to start on a new course.

As the year 2004 draws near, the meaning of the Death card, and the hope it carries for transformation for humanity, seemed a good topic for Tarot Passages. The global conflicts and potential for terrible consequences keep us in a constant state of anxiety. Are we at a turning point for humankind? Are we able to release the old ways of dealing with conflict? Can we hope for a spiritual renaissance, a spiritual revolution? Is the shift in consciousness that our planet desperately needs ever coming? Will this shift elevate Homo Sapiens to another evolutionary level? And if so, what exactly is this shift, and how can we as individuals contribute to the evolution of our species as spiritual beings? Many spiritual leaders believe that there is a spiritual revolution and transformation at hand. Carolyn Myss states that our spiritual journey is about “breaking our allegiance to human reason and entering into divine order.” Marianne Williamson says, “We are now experiencing an alteration of collective consciousness . . . a spiritual renaissance is sweeping the world . . . it is a revolution in the way we think.” Williamson believes that for many this spiritual revolution represents a “yearning for the mind of humanity seeking its source.” It is a shift in our understanding of who we are and what our purpose is on earth. And in that shift, we see a reversal in our focus, away from the external chaos and confusion toward the internal values of love and Spirit.

This “consciousness reversal” is certainly implicit in the Death imagery. It conveys the possibility of a very different view of any situation and provides a fresh perspective. Like the Hanged Man, the Death card’s imagery suggests that a complete reversal of our normal perceptions is needed. Perhaps the transformation that we seek and that we need will come from turning away from the material world and looking inward to the Spirit that resides within each of us.

The darkness of winter is upon us; we have pause to contemplate death's message. As we hunker down into the chill, Nature reminds us that death is part of the cycle of life. All the signs of winter, the bare trees, the raw cold, the barren terrain may keep our spirits at bay. But we can keep Death's emblem of transformation in our hearts, allowing it to remind us that there is a sunrise in the horizon and it holds the promise of a new dawn.

Geraldine Amaral is the co-author of Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice, publisher of Celebrating the Tarot Journal and creator of "Tarot 1-2-3," an instructional video. She conducts a series of unique and creative Tarot classes in Washington DC area, utilizing Jungian and archetypal psychology. You can contact her at 703-671-7421 or or visit her website at

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tarot Books for Beginners

By Vixen Feyfire

Three of my favorites:

1. What Tarot Can Do for You (Barbara Moore) This is a really nice, straightforward overview of information I wish I had had when I was starting out. She writes in an easy, conversational tone, does not overwhelm you with too much detail - enough good information in comfortable-sized bites, with a lot of good ideas regarding how to get to know the cards, a variety of ways to approach & use them, & a nice selection of illustrations for those seeking a deck. Some books I obtain & skim, then use as a reference...all three listed here are in my "read it cover-to-cover" category, & are well-worth re-reading, IMO!

2. Tarot Tips (Ruth Ann & Wald Amberstone) This book is largely question-answer format, drawn from questions brought to the writers by students & tarot enthusiasts over the years. The wealth of knowledge these two are willing to share is wonderful, & their responses to questions allow learners to feel comfortable in the asking & confident in the answers provided...I think even the most experienced of readers could gain a lot from opening this book to any given page, & for a beginner - many of the questions that will arise over the first months (or years) of reading are addressed at the get-go.

3. Tarot Outside the Box (Valerie Sim) Valerie Sim gives the reader permission to explore beyond the expected, & the results can be amazing! I've incorporated some of her ideas into my practice, & absolutely love them...her approach is very innovative, & she encourages readers to take that step right off the cliff alongside (or ahead of?) the Fool - & trying her ideas brings the joy into tarot adventuring that some of us lose when we get too wrapped up in dogmatic learning.

I started out learning years ago via a correspondence course (before this newfangled glowing box was sitting on the desk!), & like a good little scholarly witch read every book that promised to teach me what the cards meant & how to use them, wrote endless pages of meanings for self-created guides, journaled & studied diligently, until I finally realized I was reading my cards easily & what I was reading did NOT come from those books, but from an intuitive approach to simply "reading what was there" in the images offered. The books listed above advocate for the most part a self-directed reading style, which is what I grew into - a far more natural way of working (for me, at least) than memorizing meanings & worrying so much about whether I was getting it right according to "the experts" & their definitions. When I teach tarot, I take an "Intuitive Tarot" approach - & those in class who are just starting love finding out that it really can be "this easy" - & those who've read for years embrace the permission to base their practice on trust in their own instincts.

All three of these are available from Amazon, as is Llewellyn's anuual Tarot Reader, which is a great place to read short articles that might lead you to an author or a deck you'd like to explore further.

One other suggestion - if you like reading, investigate some of the fiction out there featuring tarot readers...that gives you a really good opportunity to follow along with a character who does this & see how it works (& sometimes doesn't) in their life! Some I've really enjoyed:

1. Better Read Than Dead (Victoria Laurie) - This is the second in her "Psychic Eye" murder mystery series (I'd recommend reading them in order, if you like the genre) - I loved this, because she uses my favorite the descriptions of cards & her consideration of them as they appeared really rang true for me!

2. Card Shark (Gigi Miner) - A little expensive (trade size) - but well worth it, as far as I was concerned. The main character inspired me back into drawing daily cards...& this writer really is very good at "getting inside a dog's head & speaking from his voice" if you are a fan of canine characters.

3. David Skibbins' Tarot Series - One of the few I've found that feature a male card reader, & a great motley crew of characters. Not sugar-coated, not with all nice happy "wrap it up neatly" endings...but mysteries that make me ask "when will the next one be out?" Three so far: Eight of Swords, High Priestess, & The Star...& a fourth on the way with The Hanged Man, due this fall.

The fiction mentioned (I've got a list of others, if anyone out there is looking...& would be glad to learn of any I've missed in my travels!) can be obtained through Amazon as well.

This may have been more answer than you wanted...I am not known for being "short-winded", I'm afraid! Hope it may have helped, & let us know how it goes for you...Happy Reading!

Brightest Blessings,

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tarot Decks for Youngsters

By Vixen Feyfire

I would recommend The Inner Child Cards (Isha & Mark Lerner) & The Whimsical Tarot (Dorothy Morrison & Mary Hanson Roberts - sadly OOP, but can be had online), both on the basis that they use very familiar characters from fairy tales...easy to learn & work with for the inexperienced, when you already have a good (or at least passing) understanding of many of the characters. I was delighted when I got the Inner Child Cards - vivid colors, vibrant only complaint is that they are physically a little large. I'm also a fan of the Hanson Roberts Deck - softer & more muted, but a better size for smaller hands - & a mini-deck has been published, which I love!

Something the boys (& some of the girls) who are put off by "pretty fairy tale" images might enjoy is the Phantasmagoric Theater Deck. I gave a set of these to my Pagan-interested sixteen-year-old cousin last Yule, & it was perfect. It reminded me of a bizarre mix of Nightmare Before Christmas & South Park, in the artwork style (someone else said it reminded them of the Rugrats) - but the images are solid & it reads very well that I had to get a deck for myself, as well!

My goddaughter just aged out of that range - & for her seventeenth birthday I gave her Ellen Cannon Reed's The Witches Tarot, because that's the "grown-up deck" she has always wanted. I'm leery of recommending decks with nudity for younger folks - not because they might have issues, but because that is an instant red flag for the other Pagan-concerned adults in their world, & a conflict not needed by the younger set nor their respective adults is the one that ensues when Joey's best friend Jimmy's parents object to the fact that their son is exposed to images of nudity.

The Tarot of the Magical Forest features odd-but-appealing characters of sheep, rabbits, frogs, mice, etc. taking the roles of the standard tarot figures. Quirky, but it seems very child & teen-friendly. There's also a deck out there that's out of print that I would love to have called the Children Tarot - it looks like the pictures drawn by your six-year-old & hung on the refrigerator...non-threatening, & very enjoyable, from the images I have seen of it.

One of my recommendations would be to investigate any decks you would be considering on or - in either place, you will find images & reviews of many decks that might offer a good idea of whether this is the one to pursue. Wicce (of the second website) has also created a deck called the Pagan Tarot, which would be good for a young adult who is being raised in a Pagan household, as she wraps the mundane & the magickal aspects of day-to-day living into her deck. If you have any questions regarding a deck, I have also found her to be extremely helpful when contacted for information.

I would also advise choosing a deck that has fully-illustrated minor cards - some only use suit symboks as pip cards, & I think this can be a little off-putting for new readers. Visual imagery helps a lot when you are first stepping into the tarot world, & pictures make that far more accessible & enjoyable for most.

All of the decks referenced here are available through Amazon...although the OOP ones tend to run high in cost, & might be better sought in odd places. (Smaller online sellers or occult shops with dusty shelves...)

Hope some of this helps, & best of luck in seeking the one that works!

Brightest Blessings,