Friday, April 27, 2007


Over at 78 Notes to Self, Ginny Hunt has posted a delightful sharing of her experiences at the recent Tarot School’s Readers Studio here in New York city. In this post of April 23, among much else, she says:

“I guess it kinda tweaks me that there's this distancing going on in the tarot world from divination and fortune telling. I get it, cranks and charlatans have given tarot a bad rap, but the tradition of fortune telling tarot is valid as well. Rather than distance myself from it, I embrace it as part and parcel of the whole thing. Because I do want to know what might happen next week and if tarot can give me a glimpse into that, I'm all for it. It is a tremendous tool for personal growth, so it is certainly proper to focus on that, write, teach, and talk about that. But please. While there may be a few of you who seriously do not use the tarot for divination, most of us do and we shouldn't have to feel like we're scumming up the cards to do it. It's not immature tarot reading. It's just another facet of tarot reading.”

To be sure, her overall experiences at The Tarot Studio were apparently extremely positive. I’m just picking out this particular paragraph because it points to an issue that has been bothering me for many years. That is, the differences of opinion among Tarot lovers as to it’s “best” or “highest” or even sometimes “only real” use. And not really so much the differences – I find those very embraceable – but how some folk will put forth their position as the right or correct or only one. In years past, I have found this certainty all too often in the group of users one would think least likely to be “hard nosed,” those who believe its best or most evolved use is for spiritual growth only.

I guess I would fall in the “camp” of using Tarot for personal growth. I stopped doing readings for others many years ago (long story). So my preferred way of using The Tarot (at present) is for personal psychological and emotional growth and healing, and spiritual development. The operative word in that last sentence being “preferred.” For me, The Tarot is a tool: powerful, subtle, flexible, and far and deep ranging, but a tool nevertheless. And we creative humans, therefore, have and will continue to find various uses to which we can put this ancient and at the same time ever more modern tool. Among which uses individuals will and do find strong preferences for a particular use. More simply put, I do not believe The Tarot has an inherent or best or more evolved use to which it is meant to be put. As with any tool, the use is up to the user.

This is not to say I do not respect those who believe it is meant to be a spiritual tool. (In fact, I can readily understand why they believe so.) That is their path with The Tarot and I learn from them. Also, even though I sometimes feel marginalized in the larger Tarot community of professional readers and writers, I also enjoy and learn a great deal from them. I have to admit, though, that I wince when I hear of games, plain ordinary card games, that some folk play with The Tarot. But I would never suggest that this is wrong or a mis-use of The Tarot. It simply is (most definitely :-D) not my way.

So what this ramble is attempting to address is my opinion that each person develops her own unique relationship with The Tarot. In my case, it has evolved into a personal psychological and emotional guide with spiritual underpinnings. However, I’d never suggest that my way is the only or correct way, or the way it is meant to be, or a more evolved way than someone else’s. Nor would I even say the relationship I have now with The Tarot is how it will always be for me. Who knows? I may have an epiphany tomorrow and feel my path is now to read for others again! (That would be exceedingly strange but odder things have happened in my life. :-D)

The upshot is, I’m suggesting we remember we are individuals, with different needs, talents, shortcomings, goals, histories, spiritual paths, skills, etc. Therefore, what we each look to The Tarot for will vary. How could it not help but vary when The Tarot is such a rich and endlessly flexible tool? One that tickles and entices our – also endless – imaginations?

P.S. I also recommend reading the post “Our Tiny Community” on The Tarot Channel (under Archives/Personal Experience), by Mark McElroy, and the comments thereto for a related discussion.

P.P.S. I just realized I posted my design for The Lovers in my Taiga Tarot just yesterday. I tend to relate to The Lovers as being about major choice(s). And that is certainly in keeping with my opinion in this post: we choose our way of using/relating to The Tarot.

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‘til next time, keep enjoying The Tarot,


[aka: Patricia Kelly]

****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)**** SEE ALSO: Roswila’s Dream & Poetry Realm for Tarot poetry and Roswila’s Taiga Tarot for taiga (illustrated tanka).****

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The Hermit (IX) from Gioseppe Maria Mitelli Tarot,
commissioned in Bologna, 1664

I've been fascinated by this version of The Hermit ever since I first came across it in The Art of Tarot. I can't say I understand its symbolism, only that it speaks to me very deeply the way my dreams sometimes do, stirring some wordless depth and coaxing a puzzled recognition.

I've been thinking a lot about this particular Hermit recently as I feel I've been stumbling along in my life, both literally (knee osteoarthritis acting up) and figuratively (you don't want the details :-D). At the same time I know there have been times when I have flown, balanced and energized. How is it one finds one's self in either state at any given time? That's just some personal projection on to this version of IX that I think of from time to time.

At another time when I sat with this version of The Hermit I had thought, so, we are able to fly, why is it we do not? And at yet another time I thought "in this world we stumble, in others we fly..." We are creatures of both flesh and spirit.

As to how these musings might fit in with the more traditional sense of IX? Maybe: the road to wisdom is long; sometimes we fly, sometimes we crawl or stumble. Also, maybe that aspect of The Hermit that represents the "wounded healer" (those who are wounded sometimes become healers themselves) can be seen in this rendition.

P.S. added hours after posting: A friend just emailed me a link to a article on poetry and animals. In it is this paragraph:

"In other cases, the animal becomes a metaphor to venerate humanity, or more specifically, the poet, as in "The Albatross" by Charles Baudelaire. The poem follows a majestic bird after it is captured for fun by the crew of a ship, and describes its awkward appearance on board and its humiliation by the deck hands. The final stanza, here translated by Richard Howard, declares:

The Poet is like this monarch of the clouds
Riding the storm above the marksman's range;
Exiled on the ground, hooted and jeered,
He cannot walk because of his great wings."

Wow! How's that for a more painful take on this version of The Hermit? (See also the comments to this post, made before I received this link.)

To view two other versions of The Hermit card and read some of the other sorts of meanings I've seen for IX over the years, click here.

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‘til next time, keep enjoying The Tarot,


[aka: Patricia Kelly]

****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)**** SEE ALSO: Roswila’s Dream & Poetry Realm for Tarot poetry and Roswila’s Taiga Tarot for taiga (illustrated tanka).****

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Sunday, April 15, 2007


TODAY'S CARD IS The Page of Swords. This version is from The Via Tarot (in which Pages are called Princesses), art by Susan Jameson and book by John Bonner:

For comparison, here's The Page of Swords in the Rider/Waite/Smith deck:

THE PAGE OF SWORDS: I tend to identify with this card, as she's said sometimes to be a child of difficult parentage who ultimately prevails. (The former is most certainly true for me, but the latter still is yet to be seen. :-D) It is intriguing for me that the figure on The Via Tarot's Princess of Swords is "Medusa haired" as Medusa has been a favorite mythological figure of mine since early childhood, though I must admit I would see Medusa more as a mature Queen, than a youthful Page. However, in The Thoth Tarot (which The Via Tarot was designed as a continuation/extension of) the Princesses are much more powerful and active than pages usually are so I can somewhat see Medusa fitting with this Princess of Swords.

DIFFERENT OR LESS COMMON, EVEN QUIRKY MEANINGS FOR (i.e. the below is not intended to be an exhaustive exploration of this card; a quick google will produce a wider variety of takes should you not be familiar with this card):

May indicate someone who had abusive or addictive parents/caretakers.

Your mind is quite powerful. Be sure you do not mesmerize yourself with your myriad wonderings and intensities, especially the negative ones.

Something you went through in the past may help you now. What does this current situation call to mind?

It may be that what you are thinking is causing this mood. Apply yourself to examining the sense of what you are thinking and you just might "vanquish" this negative state.

If you are isolating, it may be an instinctive move towards learning new things on your own before trying them out.

Your unusual view of things may make you appear a bit odd, off-putting, or even scary to some folk. If it seems important to communicate, try "dialing back" a bit on the amount and/or intensity of your presentation.

You can do it, no matter how embattled you may feel.

You are able right now to cut through others' obscuration and pretense, and get to the central issue(s).

Someone who enjoys verbal sparring and argumentation and is probably quite good at it.

The Princess of Swords above in The Via Tarot might make an excellent lawyer, or advocate for children. (In decks other than this, I'd say this would be more likely about The Queen of Swords.)

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‘til next time, keep exploring your mind's power wisely and enjoying The Tarot,


[aka: Patricia Kelly]

****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)**** SEE ALSO: Roswila’s Dream & Poetry Realm for Tarot poetry and Roswila’s Taiga Tarot for taiga (illustrated tanka).****

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007



by Tiffany Jansen

Some time ago, I received an email from Tiffany Jansen, sharing an idea for a Tarot layout that she’d developed. She had no idea she’d hit on one of my favorite Tarot pursuits: using new layouts. The LetterQuest Layout uses Tarot cards to determine numerology/letter correspondences to obtain an answer in words. Since numbers are a central aspect of the Tarot cards and the cards pulled for their number value can still be interpreted in light of the answer the words give, it certainly qualifies as a Tarot layout.

Here are The LetterQuest Layout parameters, copied from her email:

"....[T]his prompted me to figure out a system of using the roman alphabet, numerology and the tarot in a way that I could understand. I went to sleep thinking about it and I don't know if I dreamt the answer, but this morning I just knew exactly how to make it work.

Every card in the tarot will be looked at in it's reduced numerological form. So 15 the Devil will be 6, etc. Aces, pages and the fool have no numerological value for me (although some may place the fool at 22) so they're like blank tiles in scrabble. Knights are 11/2, Queens 12/3 so Kings would reduce to 4 respectively.** Each number carries the energy of 3 letters, except for 9 which has only 2 - I and R.

1- A, J, S
2- B, K, T
3- C, L, U
4- D, M, V
5- E, N, W
6- F, O, X
7- G, P, Y
8- H, Q, Z
9- I, R

One card is pulled for every word in the question, in rows of three across (or less possibly for the last line). The position of the card will determine which of the three letters (or two) for a number will be used. If a card that reduces to 9 happens to fall into the third position of that row, it can be considered a blank..."

Tiffany also shared a reading she’d done for herself, and I could readily see how she came to her conclusions. I then did a reading for myself and it, too, was quite something. I asked "How likely is it I will move to California?" As I shuffled a card popped right out. As a popping card is always significant in my readings, I thought "That will be the exclamation point to the words." Since an exclamation comes at the end of a word, and it was a 7 card, I chose the letter Y at the end of the line of the three 7 value letters. My reading letters and cards were:You’ll note I pulled only six cards, which had been the number of cards Tiffany chose for her reading. I’d somehow forgotten the instruction to pull one card per word in the question. However, though I should have pulled nine cards, it worked anyway.

As long as I kept reading the letters across I could not get anywhere, though I was quite sure that the seventh letter Y from the "popped" card meant literally "Why?" Then, just as when I’ve been pondering a dense Tarot card, it hit me "Read down, Patricia." So: EC = easy; MM = months (my abbreviation for "month" is "m"); and YT = yet. Add "Why?" at the end, and you get "[Take it] easy, [there are] months [to go] yet, why [worry]?" This answer made perfectly good sense as I did this reading in late December 2006 and was not even thinking of visiting California before April or even later in 2007.

Although the words I saw in the reading above were limited by the end of a row, this need not be the case. A word's letters can "wrap around," i.e. continue past a row's end. In fact, I have found it very helpful to write out all the letters in one string to see what words are suggested, especially if there are any blanks.

At the time I did not feel the need to relate to the Tarot cards pulled beyond their numerological values.*** However, it did strike me that the Knight of Wands is a card that can indicate a change of residence. Showing up beneath The Tower it seemed to indicate that a change of residence would follow tumultuous change. Thus, the "Why worry?" at the end of the answer became even clearer. I would have enough to worry about in the months before I could make my California visit, e.g., my roommate moving out (!) to get married (and many other issues).

I’d like to thank Tiffany for sharing this layout of hers with me and giving me permission to post it here. Please contact Tiffany or leave a comment for me here if you try it yourself. We’d love to hear how it works out for you.

P.S. Tiffany also indirectly influenced my idea for The Taiga Tarot. She had asked if I’d ever written tanka and I hadn’t. That set me off and "googling," where I stumbled across "taiga" (illustrated tanka) for the first time. The rest is slowly becoming history on Roswila’s Taiga Tarot.

* As she had not indicated a name for her layout, I suggested this one and Tiffany has approved it.

** My number values are a little different for the courts: Pages = 11; Knights = 12; Queens = 13; and Kings = 14. I give Aces a value of 1. And I would give The Fool whichever value (0 or 4) contributes to a comprehensible answer. Although I hasten to add I strongly believe it doesn’t matter which number values we prefer, just that we are consistent in using them.

*** I recently did a reading using this layout. After obtaining the words, I looked at the Tarot cards whose numbers/letters comprised each word, as amplifying that word, which worked extremely well.

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‘til next time, keep enjoying The Tarot,


[aka: Patricia Kelly]

****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)**** SEE ALSO: Roswila’s Dream & Poetry Realm for Tarot poetry and Roswila’s Taiga Tarot for taiga (illustrated tanka).****

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