Monthly Archives: October 2013

Is it all too complicated learning to read the tarot?

Is it all too complicated learning to read the tarot?

It is not surprising that many newcomers to the tarot give up in frustration.
Seventy eight cards to memorise and learn a multitude of meanings for each card. Add to that the reverse meanings (if you want to use them). And the never ending questions about the court cards. And there is a potential recipe for disaster.
Now, I’m not saying I can overcome all beginners’ problems in one short post; as it takes years to become comfortable with yourself and the tarot.
However, I do believe that learning a list of meanings for each card is less than helpful. In truth, for the minor arcana, one meaning for each card will be enough to start you off. The quicker you start reading, whether for yourself or family and friends, the better. And you will gain more knowledge in a shorter time.
But here is what I believe to be a better way.
First of all learn the Suits. Each one has its own unique meaning.

Major Arcana…Primary Causes or Influences.

Wands: Creativity. Drive, potential, action, impulse, passion, progress, ingenuity, enterprise, pioneering, enthusiasm, momentum, inspiration.
Wands are about bringing action to all those ideas. For good or bad.

Cups: Emotions illusion, intuition, inclusion, obsession, sensuality, temptation, elusiveness, completeness, impermanence.

Swords: The mind, thinking, perception, observation, ego, control,
being decisive, analysing, intelligence, confidence, uncertainty, muddled thinking, over analysing.

Disks: Money, the home, nature, equality, generosity, appreciation, dedication, being grounded, taking responsibility, determination.

Once you are familiar with each suit, you can look at the minor arcana and the court cards with a fresh unbiased mind. Buy yourself a large notepad or book; foolscap is ideal. And of course a few pens or pencils….I love pencils, especially new ones with rubbers on top. Write down everything you see.
Look up the symbols on the cards as you go along. Or write a list you can refer to.
Take each card and study it. What do YOU SEE? This might not be the same as meanings in books, or on here. It doesn’t matter. If all your cards have different meanings than is generally accepted; you will have a unique deck of tarot cards that are personal to you. And your deck will read as accurately as anyone else’s. Don’t forget, write everything down, even if you think it is stupid or not correct. Remember, this is your interpretation, not anyone else’s.

Here is an example.
I have randomly drawn the Prince of Swords from the Thoth deck. This is what I see.

The Prince of Swords

A card of chaos. Look at all those lines, coming from background to foreground. They give the impression of chaotic speed.
It looks like the chariot is out of control.
Is the Prince trying to cut his ties with the figures pulling his chariot? He has a sword and a scythe.
We know from our study of the suit that this is about the mind, and how we put into practice what we think.
In the Princes’ case, it seems he has a very erratic mind. And by the figures and circles on the card, it seems he moves from one idea to the next; without much thought.
Is he trying to cut ties with this sort of behaviour? Will he succeed as he gets older?….Look at his older self; The Knight.
Summing up our observations, we could say. Here is a young Royal always rushing about. Thinking up a number of ideas, which have no basis and therefore won’t come to fruition. His mental world is chaotic.

Your views about the Prince of Swords might be different than mine. But it really doesn’t matter; there is no right or wrong way to read the tarot. What is important is the way we learn and understand our cards. By writing down our own thoughts about each card, we will reach a better understanding of the whole.

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October 24, 2013 · 7:16 pm

Poetry

The Problem With Tides

      Michael Arnold

I watch the death throws

Of a Mid – Atlantic storm.

Climbing breakers pummelling

Rocky outcrops.

Spray, high jumping fallen

Boulders, crashing

Down like monsoon

Rain, soaking

Green slimed rocks;

Soaking me.

Your laughter teases me

As it did at breakfast,

When you said

“Let’s go down to the cove

There’s been a storm.”

Why are you laughing?

I turn – in horror.

Your laughter fading

Into an angry

Foaming sea.

Why did I listen to you?

The tide comes in

On angles here;

Every cove, all the way

Down to Lands End.

I’m cut off.

I see your face

I hear your laughter

In every plume of spray

Washing over me.

Fear roots me like

A statue carved from

These ancient rocks

That will be my grave.

Then a hand grabs

My shoulder, shaking me,

Waking me.

“Come on you, if the drink

Don’t get you

This weather surely will.

Get in that doorway over there.”

It’s the blue people.

I can’t tell them

She was calling me

Again.

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October 21, 2013 · 3:43 pm

Reading for the Silent Minority


 

Have you ever had a client who refuses to speak?

They turn up without a question. “Oh, just a general reading please,” which is usually a lie. And then they sit there ‘poker faced’ until the end. Most disconcerting.

 

I had a case like this a few years ago, which turned out to be most unfortunate. As I got it wrong and told her the opposite of what she wanted to hear. I must admit I was less experienced then; but it did make me question myself, and for a time put me off reading. Of course I did recover, but instead of dismissing the client as a one off. I formulated some ideas to get over this particular problem. This is how I react now to the silent minority.

 

First off all, and let’s be honest about this, not everyone arrives with a question. A few clients do genuinely require a general reading, which is fine.

But there are some people out there who can be the bane of our lives if we let them.

You know the ones. They sit opposite you with a smug expression on their faces, almost daring you to get anything correct.

So what can we do?

The number one tip I can pass on is this. Always include your client, whether they like it or not. I show them certain cards. I ask them if they can relate to certain cards. I explain what I am doing, how I am reading the spread, and sometimes point out the symbols and what they mean. Try to include your client at every stage of the reading, even if they are a bit reticent.

   

Sometimes I use a bit of psychology, if I have  a married lady in front of me. I might see a ‘strong willed Queen or Princess’ staring out at me. So I say to my client, something like “I can see you’re not a lady to be messed with.” This usually brings a smile. I quickly follow with, “and your husband thinks he is the boss.” This normally brings a great deal of laughter….And relaxation on the part of the client. Be careful of course; if you are reading for a young lady, she might still be in the ‘loved up stage of her marriage.’ Don’t get too cute or you might slip up. I would only ever use the above with people I know something about.

 

If nothing works…Tell them…Be honest with your client and say there is no charge, as you feel it is a waste of time. Don’t be afraid to tell them you are not a fortune teller. My stock phrase is, “why would you want to pay me money, to tell you things you already know?” In my case, they haven’t listened; as I always inform them before the reading, what it is I do, and not do. And the way I will go about it.

 

Don’t be put off by the ‘silent minority,’ use all your skills to get them to talk. I’m sure some of you have other brilliant ways of getting over this problem. Please do share.

 

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Filed under Thoth Tarot

The Art Card

The Art Card

Several years ago I wrote a short poem about Hiroshima and the atomic bomb. Today as I was studying the Art card, the basic meaning reminded me of the poem….Here it is.

Hiroshima
Michael Arnold

An atomic bomb dropped.
A man standing by a wall
Metamorphosed into a shadow.
His whole being becoming
At one with the wall.
Blood, bones, tissue.
Genes from centuries past.
Here, he will wait for aeons
To be released from the wall
Of shadows and walk his land
Once more.

A type of metamorphosis is going on in the Art card. It is about making something new out of two opposites. It’s a bit like the political problems the USA is experiencing. Two sides are trying to forge an agreement from different viewpoints. In the background of this card there are a number of, what is generally thought to be, cobwebs. Crowley doesn’t mention this in The Book of Thoth. However, it is touched upon in Liber 777. Looking more closely at the card I see two Quasars; one in each corner. This would fit in very well with the meaning of this card. But of course that can’t be so, as Quasars were not discovered at the time the cards were painted. Unless, Lady Harris knew something we didn’t.

The other interesting thing about the Art card is the Latin writing around the disk.
‘Visita interior terrae rectificando invenies occultum lapidem.’ This can be traced back to Christian Rosenkreuz, who was the legendary founder of the Order of the Rose Cross…Seen on the backs of the Thoth tarot.
Translated the phrase means, ‘visit the innermost of the Earth and by rectifying thou shalt find the hidden stone. The philosophers stone no less. Wow! But hang on a minute. We are perhaps going too deep, and what we really want to see is how this card, Art, translates in a reading.

I like the basic meaning of this card; because no matter where it turns up in a spread it is significant to the final outcome. For example, say the Art card turns up in a business spread. It could mean the melding of two ideas. The client’s business plan for expansion, with the cautious bank managers idea of cash flow. Or the question might be about love, and how two people of differing personalities are going to become one. In both cases other cards will guide the reading to a conclusion.

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October 16, 2013 · 5:05 pm

The Fool

The Fool

Looking at The Fool card in the Thoth tarot we are overwhelmed with symbols. This card contains everything we need to know about the next twenty one cards of the Major Arcana. The Fool is directly descended from The Universe card, and is a perception of ‘what might be.’
The following ideas about The Fool card are based on my studies, readings, and my, perhaps, nebulous ideas concerning this card.

The first question is; is the Fool male or female? I believe the Fool is hermaphrodite. Therefore I will refer to it as a sh/he.
Looking at the card with merely a glance, it is quite obvious the Fool has not landed yet. Sh/he is coming towards us, looking for a safe place to land.
Where has the Fool come from? I suggest The Universe. And if we, just for a moment would believe in a holographic universe; this would make perfect sense. The Universe is always there (as it is in our deck) and we are seeing a projection of it, looking backwards.
Preceding the Fool was potentiality, or the potential for something to happen. The Fool is zero. Sh/he is not potential: this was a state before the Fool. The Fool is probability, and comes armed with all the symbology to make a probability (for good or evil) happen at some point in time. I believe that, ‘at some point in time’ is important to us in a reading. Don’t be too hasty in interpreting the Fool. Yes, look at the cards close by in your chosen spread. But also be open to other possibilities further along. This is especially important when reading a linear spread. The answer to the Fool might be in the string you are reading, or, as your story develops, in other strings not yet read.

The Fool is a fascinating card, and a card that throws up many questions. As do all the cards in the Thoth Tarot. From my own experience I would say, don’t be too hasty, let the Fool land and then see what happens.

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October 15, 2013 · 11:05 am

Freedom of the press.

Here in the UK, we are dangerously close to losing our free press. Something we have had for over three hundred years. In light of the Milly Dowler scandal, phone hacking, and now the piece about Ed Milliband’s father. And of course the Levison enquiry. The politicians are keen to poke their noses into press freedoms. All the bad practice the press have displayed over time is probably covered by current laws. We do not need government poking ‘its nanny state nose’ into more of our freedoms.

     A charter, Royal or not, written by politicians and controlled by politicians is a dangerous precedent. All of us have to ask the question. Is this payback time from politicians of all parties? Not because of the Milly Dowler fiasco or even David Milliband’s father. But more to do with the press exposing the politicians fiddling their expenses, at the tax payer’s expense.

     Politicians from all parties are telling us and the press, that in order to change a Royal Charter it would need a two thirds majority in both houses. No need to worry then, it would never happen. Or could it? Who is to say in the future, we might get a far right or far left megalomaniac government in power. What then? Another hundred or so years fighting for press freedom.

     Today, we are still balancing on the tightrope of democracy and freedom. Press restrictions might just tip us off the wrong side.

       

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Filed under Poetry and Prose

How do we use the tarot?

How do we use the tarot?

 

Is there a right way or a wrong way to use the tarot?

 

I believe there is only one true way to use the tarot. It starts with a question, moves on to a story. And when the twists and turns of the story have been researched, and answered. We might, as readers be able to give an answer.

Yes/No questions are a definite no,no for me. They imply there is something so magical about the tarot it will give a definitive answer in seconds. Of course not. Admittedly the tarot has divination built into it. But it also has hundreds, if not thousands of nuances built in. It is up to us, the readers to investigate these nuances during the course of our story. Take a look at this example.

    A young girl came to me for a reading. Her question was. “will my boyfriend come back to me, I mean he’s just being an idiot?”

Now what I could have done is thrown a two or three card reading at her and given the answer. Whether it would have been the right answer is anyone’s guess. What I wanted to do is probe a bit deeper into the problem of this couple parting. So I did my usual spread-and I will shorten this-and low and behold it turned out that my client had cheated on her boyfriend with his best friend. “No he won’t come back.” “He not only lost you, he also lost a best mate.”

One week later I was on the internet; looking at some free sites. There was my client of a week ago, asking the same question. I was shocked at some of the answers. “No, not until he grows up a bit.” “You poor thing.” “I mean, do you really want him back, he seems immature.” “Yes of course he will be back when he realises what he has thrown away.” And more, and more, and more. These people were not readers; they were poor fortune tellers.

     The Tarot is not a Fortune Telling vehicle. It is a story teller, it is counselling. It is informing clients of possible pitfalls if they stay on the path they are on. It advises them of changes they can make. And yes, it can answer questions, but it needs more investigation than a straight yes/no.

 

Blessings All.

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Filed under Thoth Tarot