The Three Modes of Tarot (a reading method)

This is a basic yet multi-layered reading that can help you identify some problem areas in your life and gives advice about what energy may be best expressed.
First, sort through your deck and divide it into three piles;
– Court Cards
– Numbered Cards
– Major Arcana

Shuffle each deck with your question or problem in mind. Draw one card from each deck, respectively.

Card 1 – Court Card – You, the current role you are playing in this situation
Card 2 – Numbered Card – Your situation
Card 3 – Major Arcana – The archetypical energies that are being expressed… the root of your actions and situation, the advice card

If you wanted to, rather than randomly drawing the first card (the Court Card) you could choose one as a significator. Conciously choosing a card to represent yourself or the role you play may help you focus the reading in that direction. Not sure what card represents you in this current situation? Try Court Card Excersize 1 (previous post) and choose a card from the list you create.

Here is a format for anlyzing and interpreting the cards in your reading, from the book “Tarot For Yourself” by Mary K. Greer. Write the following sentence and fill in the blanks with the card meanings.

“I am acting like a ________________[Court Card], a ___________________________ __________________[describe the type of person you see in that card] in a _________________[Minor Arcana] situation in which ________________ ___________________________ __________________ [describe your situation using action verbs] because of ___________________ [Major Arcana], which describes my need to _____________________ __________________________[describe the archetypical energies in you that need to be expressed].”

EXAMPLE- I used The Queen of Pentacles and drew the 3 of Pentacles and The World.
“I am acting like the Queen of Pentacles, a nurturing and down-to-earth teacher who is rescourceful in a 3 of Pentacles situation in which I am working on my goals and seeing progress because of The World, which describes my need to gain and share wisdom for the greater good.”

Taking it further; How can I best deal with this situation?

“I can use the attributes of _________________ [Major Arcana] to _________________ ________________________ [describe the best qualities you see in this card] in order to deal with ________________ [Minor Arcana] , which expresses my desire for (to) _____ ________________ _________________ [ describe the situation you have drawn to yourself] experienced by my Inner ________________ [Court Card], the one who ___________ _____________________ ____________________ [describe that aspect of yourself that chose to experience the situation].

“I can use the attributes of The World to gain wisdom and understanding that lead to completion of my goals in order to deal with the 3 of Cups, which expresses my desire to cooperate with others as progress is made as experienced by my Inner Queen of Pentacles – the one who chooses to be nurturing & generous with her resources.”

As you can see, I used one of my own cards from the Court Card Roles excersize to give the examples posted above.  The Queen of Pentacles is the card I chose to represent my role as teacher, since I am in this moment acting as a teacher by passing on this knowledge to others.  I laughed as the other cards came up – the 3 of Pentacles which can represent working on goals or getting a job done because of your knowledge or skills.  I have been feeling bad latley about not writing much on my blog, and it felt really good to be sharing and writing again.  Then The World card popped up – oh, hello Saturn/Capricorn energy!  I’m a Capricorn and really feel best when I’m getting a task completed – especially one that reflects my soul’s desire to share with and lead others.  Capricorn is ruled by Saturn – the planet of Structure and Wisdom – and Saturn is related to the Tarot card The World.  So it felt really good to me to have that card pop up as I worked this excersize as a confirmation that I’m doing the work I’m supposed to be doing.  I really hope that this reading can help you on your own journey of self discovery.  Feedback and thoughts appreciated – leave a comment with your results if you try this reading for yourself!


Understanding Court Cards – part 1

Court Cards can be problematic for many people as they learn to use tarot cards… for many they are difficult to interpret in a reading. Some people will say that the Court Cards ALWAYS refer to other people in the querent’s life, but I have found this to be far from true. My rule of thumb is this; Court Cards almost always refer to YOU and alternatively will sometimes refer to someone you know. In fact, the Court Card can refer to you AND someone you know. After all, the people in our lives often reflect some part of ourself.

Jungian psychology provides a framework for integrating both points of view; the Court Cards as yourself and as another person. The concept called “projection” refers to projecting (or thrusting) inner qualities of yourself onto other people around you, whether or not they have these qualities. They become shadowy reflections of yourself. It works like this: You notice in other people some of the characteristics that you do not recognize in yourself – both positive and negative. As a result, you tend to let these people act out your own unconscious perceptions of yourself and your own inner situations, or you get angry with them when they don’t.” ~ from Tarot For Yourselfby Mary K. Greer.

So, a good first step in understanding the Court Cards is to recognize their aspects and personalities within ourselves. We all have many different roles that we play in life… we change gears, energy, and focus depending on which role we are playing at any given time. Myself, for example; I am a Mother, a Friend, a Lover, an Employee, a Blogger, an Astrologer, and many other things. This excersize suggested by Mary K. Greer inher book, “Tarot For Yourself” not only helps you understand some Court Card personalities better but also helps you on your road of personal self discovery.

Make a list with two columns. On the first side write down the many different roles you play in your day to day life. On the second side, write the Court Card that you think is expressed in that role. Male/Female doesn’t matter, and you can use the same card in more than one role if you feel it fits. Use this chart by Joan Bunning if you need help determining what card applies to each role.

Current Roles In My Life / Corresponding Court Card
_________________________ / ____________________________
_________________________ / ____________________________
_________________________ / ____________________________
_________________________ / ____________________________

My Court Card Roles
Current Roles In My Life / Corresponding Court Card

Lover / Knight of Cups
Friend / Queen of Cups
Mother / King of Cups
Employee / Knight of Pentacles
Blogger / Page of Pentacles
Teacher + Astrologer / Queen of Pentacles

(interesting to note, I did this excersize back in 2010 and found my journal entry after I just did it again now.  The cards I chose to represent the different roles I play in life are totally different now than they were 8 years ago!  Really thought it was interesting to see how I have changed – or at least how my view of myself has changed over time.  Also previously I was more Pentacles / Swords with just one Cups card.  This time I’m all Cups & Pentacles, no Swords. )

If you wanted to take the self-discovery a step farther, you could revisit each of these cards to help you understand yourself better, make improvements on flaws, embrace your strengths, etc. The next blog post I make will be a follow up excersize of this nature – check back soon!!

Spica: Virgo’s Light

The Hermit from The Celestial Tarot by Kay Steventon & Brian Clark

Spica; Virgo’s Light

My eyes search the darkened cosmos
Searching for a light to lead me
Orion, he is always there, and
Ursa Major dominates the night sky
I recall an ancient phrase;
“Arc to Archturus, then speed on to Spica.”
Following the Arc of the Great Bear
(once the pure and chaste Callisto, princess of Arcadia; Raped by Zeus and cursed by Hera)
Past her protector, Archturus
To find Spica, brightest star of Virgo –
A yellow sheaf of wheat,
Golden ear of corn
White Spark of light
Fire of Hearth,
In the hands of a something so Pure
That one name will not suffice.
She is the Virgin, Virgo
Astraea; Goddess of Purity and Innocence who clung to hope for human kind longer than any other
Shala, Goddess of Grain
Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Home
Vesta, Keeper of the Flame
The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Father Time has watched her transform,
Watched her name change,
Watched as Man’s study of Spica
Brought the knowledge of the Equinoxes.
What other secrets may she hold?
Father Time, the Hermit only nods and winks
As if to say
“Time Will Tell,”
And he turns to walk away “but don’t give up the search”.
And suddenly I know
I am beautiful
I am pure
You are beautiful
You are pure
And Astraea can return;
Through us.

~ Wendy @Hestia’s Muse

Notes:  I wrote this poem in 2010, inspired by the image and meaning of The Hermit Tarot card from The Celestial Tarot (pictured above).  The booklet that comes with that deck described the Star called Spica as the central star of the constellation Virgo. Quote from the booklet to The Celestial Tarot: “At this point in the journey we meet the Hermit, the Major Arcana card associated with Virgo, the harvest maiden, intertwining the paradoxical themes of fertility and purity. In the Celestial Tarot she holds the wheat in her left hand and disseminates seeds with her right. The card depicts the season of withdrawal. For psyche the time of harvest has come; it is time to withdraw and prepare and reflect. In the background is the traditional image of the hermit holding the lamp of inner guidance necessary during this time. Virgo embodies the wisdom of cycles, a respect for fate and an openness to destiny. The Hermit augurs a period of meditation where the inner world is fortified to prepare for a major shift on the life path.”
Original poem post at my old blog.

At the time, I did some research on the star Spica, and the Virgo constellation and was inspired because I was also working closely with Hestia / Virgo – Virgin Goddess of the Home & Hearth.  Astrea is the Greek Goddess of innocence and purity – known as the Celestial Virgin.  Ovid wrote that Astrea fled the earth during the Iron Age -“fleeing from the wickedness of humanity”, she maintained her innocence and ascended to Divinity and became the constellation Virgo.  Legend states that one day Astrea will return, bringing with her the next Golden Age.

Here are some highlights on the star Spica from Constellation Guide:

“Spica, Alpha Virginis, is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo and the 16th brightest star in the sky.  The name Spica (pronounced /ˈspaɪkə/) comes from the Latin phrase spīca virginis, meaning “Virgo’s ear of grain.” The Latin word spicum refers to the ear of wheat Virgo holds in her left hand. In Greek and Roman mythology, the constellation and the star were associated with Demeter (Ceres), the goddess of the harvest.”

“Spica can be located by following the arc of the Big Dipper‘s handle. The first bright star along the imaginary line is Arcturus, the Bear Watcher, and following the same curving path, the second bright star that appears is Spica. The apparent distance from Arcturus to Spica is roughly equal to the distance between Arcturus and Alkaid, the star marking the tip of the Dipper’s handle.”

“Along with Regulus in Leo, Alpha Virginis is believed to be one of the bright stars that made it possible for Hipparchus (160 – 120 BC) to discover the precession of the equinoxes, after comparing his data to that of the Alexandrian Timochares, who had observed Spica and Regulus around 300 BC. Spica was later observed by Nicolaus Copernicus, who also used it to study precession.”

“A number of temples were oriented to Spica’s setting, including the temple of the Sun at Tell el-Amarna (2000 BC), two temples at Rhamnus in Greece (1092 and 747 BC), another two at Tegea, Hera’s temples at Olympia (1445 BC), Girgenti and Argos, the temple of Diana of the Ephesians (715 BC), and the temple of Nike Apteros at Athens (1130 BC). The temple orientation indicates that these cultures had knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes far earlier than Hipparchus documented his discovery.”

“Babylonian observers called the star Sa-Sha-Shirū, meaning “the virgin’s girdle.” The star represented the wife of Bel.”


Taurus and The Hierophant; Preserving our Values

I’ve been thinking a lot about Taurus and the tarot card The Hierophant.  It’s always been an odd correspondence for me, since I tended to think of Taurus in a more Venusian light as a sign of sensuality, pleasure, and desire.  While the tarot card The Empress ceratinly fits with it’s correspondence to the planet Venus, I was always a little unsure about how The Hierophant could represent the sign of Taurus.  Perhaps I was so focused on the Feminine, receptive, sensual side of Taurus that I was just missing this whole other side to Taurus energy!  Meditating with The Hierophant over the past week, I’ve begun to see this other side of Taurus (see my earlier post Taurus & The Hierophant (plus Minotaurs and Judges)

Hierophant, Tarot, keywords

The Hierophant represents Institutions such as monetary systems (banks), Religious Organizations (churches), Educational Systems (Schools), and Group Institutions (Clubs, Communities, Governments, Political Bodies, and even Secret Societies)  All of these institutions were at one point created for the purpose of maintaining order.  Why do we find the need to maintain order surrounding anything in life?  Well, simply put, if we VALUE something, we try to preserve it.  We found value in a system of currency exchange to streamline and simplify our need to trade and barter.  We found value in the preservation and passing on of knowledge (both practical and esoterical) so we created schools, colleges, and religious orders.  We found value in a structured family unit, so we created the institution of marriage.  (I am using “we” to describe a collective consciousness, though I will add that not all cultures have developed these values in the same ways, and some cultures have totally different sets of values altogether.)

These structured institutions and status-quo parts of life seemed so opposite of the sensual Venus-ruled Taurus to me.  But I began to realize that within all of these structures lie one simple driving force: desire.  Somewhere along the line, all these conventions were created as a way to collect and preserve something that was good or beautiful (at the time).

Within these structured institutions there is the potential for greatness, but also the risk of great corruption.  Just like the story of Minos and the Minotaur, (previous post) greed and desire can have dire consequences, especially when the greed is perpertated by a person in a position of power and influence.  I don’t think that The Hierophant will always represent corruption in a reading, there will be other factors and intuition to help you determine whether these institutions are positive or negative in a reading.  For example, The Hierophant might represent:

  • persuing a higher education
  • seeking great knowledge
  • finding a spiritual leader or wise teacher
  • sharing a cultural heritage
  • having loyalty to a group or community
  • honoring ritual and ceremony
  • getting married, graduating, or becoming a community leader
  • working as part of a team
  • Fitting in

Taurus, astrology, traits of Taurus

Reflecting back on Taurus energy and personality traits, I began to see how their stubborn, immovable nature combined with determination and a strong desire for stability could create exactly the type of personalities who dvelop and maintain the institutions of The Hierophant.  When I am learning more about an astrological sign, I like to look up some famous people who have this sign.  What I found in searching for famous Taurus people was a whole bunch of Hierophant archetypes!  (This was the “OH! DUH!” moment for me with connecting the dots between Taurus and the Hierophant)  There was wide range of Politicians, religious leaders, scientists and writers (preservers of knowledge) – both who operated as creators or shifters of sytems, or as conservative preservers of systems.  Here is a list of a few here that stood out to me as strong Hierophant personalities. (Including four United States Presidents, two popes, an Emperor, a Queen, and a couple Tyrants)

  • Roger Ailes (creator of Fox News Network)
  • Tony Blair (Former British Prime Minister)
  • Antoinette Brown (First female Clergy woman in the United States)
  • James Buchanan (15th U.S. President)
  • Prescott Bush (Father of George Bush & Grandfather of George W. Bush)
  • George Carlin (political comedian)
  • Tucker Carlson (conservative talk show host)
  • Stephen Colbert (political comedian)
  • Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector of England, 1653-58)
  • James Dobson (Founder and host of Focus on The Family)
  • Sigmund Freud (founder of Psychoanalysis)
  • Ulysses Grant (18th U.S. President)
  • Stephen Harper (former Prime Minister of Canada)
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Saddam Hussein
  • Jim Jones (Preacher who led 908 followers in mass suicide)
  • Karl Marx (founder of modern communism)
  • Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bomber)
  • James Monroe (Founding Father and 5th U.S. President)
  • Michael Moore (Political film maker who created “Bowling for Columbine”)
  • Nicholas II of Russia (Last emperor of Russia)
  • John Oliver (political reporter)
  • Pope Pius IX (the longest reigning Pope in history)
  • Pope John Paul II (the first Polish Pope)
  • Queen Elizabeth II (the Queen of Great Britain)
  • Maximilien Robespierre (French Revolutionary leader)
  • Rick Santorum (U.S. Senator 1995 -2007)
  • Harry S. Truman (33rd U.S. President)
  • Melania Trump (First Lady of the United States)
  • Malcolm X (leader of Black Power movement in the 1960’s)

Taurus Positive Keywords

Taurus Negative Keywords

As we can see in these lists of Positive and Negative traits of Taurus, there are the traits of the Hierophant as well – both when fuctioning at it’s best and at it’s most dysfunctional.   Taurus energy activates within everyone the simple desire to maintain what we have that is beneficial or feels good and right to us.  It asks, “What do I have?  Is this worth having?  If so, is it worth preserving and sharing?”  Taurus energy inspires a very deep devotion to whatever it is that we value . . . and perhaps this devotion can sometimes lead us to try and force our values upon others.  When we find something that makes us feel good and safe, of course we want to share that with others!  Sometimes, sharing what we value with others can have great and positive impact on the world around us!  Yet it is important to remember that not all of us value the same things, and pushing our personal values or beliefs on others often leads to conflict.  Taurus energy can teach us this balance – both by helping us define our values, and by strongly resisting anything or anyone that may be pushing values on us that don’t align with our own.   In a couple weeks Uranus, the planet of Rebellion and Revolution will enter the sign of Taurus and really begin to challenge some of the structured institutions that are currently imposed upon us.  The last time Uranus transited the sign of  Taurus was in 1934 to 1942.

Note that not all famous Taurus people are religious leaders or politicians – there are quite a few actors, musicians, scientists, and writers.  Here is a great list of many more famous Taurus people.  I only shared the ones listed above as I found they really embody the energy of The Hierophant that is relevant to this post.  

Aries Season’s Fiery Conclusion

Aries season has had us rushing around in a big busy flury of discovering and expressing our self-identity in new ways.  With the start of the zodiac calendar year, Aries bursts onto the scene with the great shout of “I AM”!  No matter what your zodiac sign, we all feel the sun’s transit through Aries and the Spring Equinox on some level as a rebirth of our personal identity.  I touched on this a little with my previous blog post, “I’m back!  Renewed by Aries Sun” yet even I wasn’t prepared for the profound renewal I would experience.  How was it for you?

Aries is the Cardinal Fire sign of the zodiac.  As a Fire Sign, it is transformative, purifying, and energetic.  As a Cardinal sign, Aries is direct, initiatory, and carries the “start up” vibe of the spring season.  So within Aries energy we have this ability to find initiative, burn away the excess, and jump right into the next big thing.  This can be powerful and it can also be dangerous.  If you have ever jumped head first into a new project because of passion and “it seemed like a good idea at the time”  but then get tripped up on some minor detail and fall on your face?  Yeah that might have been an Aries Energy influence at work in your life.  But don’t hate!  Life NEEDS that risk taking fiery force of nature!  Where would we be without the instigators, risk-takers, and “do it now” moments?  Spring would never come if the seeds didn’t take that chance to crack open and send a fresh new blade of grass up through the dark soil.  As the Sun, Venus, and Mercury emerged from the watery depths of Pisces we collectively awaken from the cozy dream that is the end of winter and say, “Oh!  I have things to do!  I have individual goals that are important to me!”  With a fresh new spark of fire, it’s time for some soul-alchemy to turn this seed into a sprout.  We’re inspired to step up as the leader of our own life.

Tarot, tarot card The Emperor, Aries, Aries Astrology
IV The Emperor. Rider-Waite Smith Tarot

In the Tarot, Aries is represented by Major Arcana card IV – The Emperor.  The Emperor brings messages of Strength, Leadership, Structure, Stamina, and Reasoning.  As you can see in the classic RWS version of the card, the Emperor is depicted as a wise military type leader, his age represents wisdom and experience.  Robed in red (fire, action, strength) with armor underneath (knowing that sometimes he has to fight for what he wants).  His throne is adorned with carvings of the Ram’s head (the symbol of Aries).  In one hand he holds a golden sphere (the world) and a scepter (status and leadership) in the other.  In the background there are mountains, depicting the lands he has conquered or trials he has overcome.  Yet with all his wisdom, the Emperor knows that at times he needs to be the one to take risks, push for change, challenge the status quo, or shake things up a bit.

I know, it’s all very Patriarchal.  But there is value here.  Remember that there are different kinds of leaders and emperors.  Some might rush into war head first or abuse their power, and Aries certainly has the potential to start some epic battles!  Yet, look again at this Emperor. He’s not holding a sword or weapon.  He’s holding the world – and he seems quite aware of the weight of it.  He’s not standing up and rushing into battle.  He is sitting down, listening and waiting for the right time to act.  This Emperor is the type that has seen battle, but has developed the wisdom to know that there are times to fight and times . . . not to.  He knows how to choose his battles with the thought of the greater good at heart.  The Emperor is refined Aries energy.  This card depicts Aries energy at it’s very best; powerful yet reserved.

As we approach the end of Aries season – ask yourself, “What kind of Emperor am I”?  If you’re truly the master of your own life (whether you are a leader or authority figure to others or not), you have moments when you have to make big decisions.  Should I fight for this ideal?  Should I fight to defend who I am?  Wait, in order to really know my ideals or defend who I am, I have to know WHO I AM and what my ideals are!  Thus comes the transformative, purification and rebirth of the Aries season.

Tarot, Justice, Tarot Card Justice, Libra
XI Justice. Rider Waite Smith Tarot

In the middle of the Sun’s transit through Aries, there was a balancing point with the Full Moon in Libra.  Libra is the polar opposite sign of Aries and brings balance by focusing this energy outwards through community and relationship.  Libra encourages us to reflect on how the “I AM” is changed by the presence of and awareness of “WE ARE”.  We can’t just run amok pushing our identity and goals into the world with much success without the cooperation and support of those around us.  Here is where the Wise Emperor differentiates from the Oppressive Dictator.  The wise Emperor knows the value of community, relationship, cooperation, and even love.  Without these, the Emperor’s reign is short lived and remembered as terrible. The Tarot card associated with Libra is XI JUSTICE – the great balancer.  Interestingly, here is where we find the sword.  The wise Emperor does have a sword nearby, but he trusts in Justice to tell him when it is time to use it.  Libra teaches about balance through the lens of relationship to others, reminding us that our individual actions have an impact on those around us.  Through the balancing counter-point of Aries and Libra I am reminded of the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”   That Full Moon brought our relationships into light and many revelations may have occurred about what kind of support system you have around you.  How are you building up or supporting your community and your partners?  Are your partners and community supporting you in meaningful ways?  If you think of the Tarot and Astrology in terms of Greek Mythology, the Aries/Libra connection is like Aries (the God of War) working side by side with Athena (Goddess of Justice).  Together they can create powerful and lasting change.  On that Full Moon I found myself surrounded by an amazing group of like-minded people.  I reveled in the glorious feeling of finding my “soul tribe”, and I even fell in love.  (THAT was unexpected but has been transforming my life in powerful ways – THANKS ARIES & LIBRA!)  I had been struggling to define who I am and what I should be doing with my energy – and found this loving embrace of a community that appreciates who I am and what I do!

On Sunday, the New Moon will be in Aries.  Soon the sun moves on into Taurus and the next cycle begins, but first it’s time for one last fiery celebration for The Emperor.  The lesson will be driven home as Aries asks “What have you learned from me?  You’ve worked with my energy for nearly this whole month and had the chance to redefine who you are and what you fight for.  You had the illumination of the Full Moon in Libra to remind you of balance and others.  What kind of Emperor are you striving to become?”

These will be some powerful reflections for you to make as you set your intentions with the New Moon on Sunday.  I hope that this Aries season has brought you just the lessons you need to help propel your growth forward in positive ways through the rest of this year.  So Mote It Be.

Artwork by valhadar