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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

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.

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

7 of Swords

Today, I have decided not to do a triad analysis, but concentrate on the enigma that is the 7 of Swords.

Lon Duquette in his book Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. Says, “For me, the Seven of Swords is often difficult to interpret in a tarot reading.” Crowley states, “It is like a rheumatic boxer trying to “come back” after being out of the ring for years.” The element of the 7 of Swords is Air, and like all Air cards it denotes thought. You will find a plethora of meanings for this card, on the internet. But if we come back to basics and  remember the card shows the Moon in Aquarius=Futility, we are somewhere near the truth.
This is an argument of the mind. Shall I shan’t I? What is the use? Why am I bothering? I can’t make up my mind. In which case there is definitely more than one idea here. My belief is, the central sword is the main idea and the route a person wants to go. The other swords are personal negative thoughts butting in. Or, they are other peoples thoughts on the same subject; trying to give you advice. Other cards around will show you which one. Also, look to see how this card  is dignified with the elements around it, and in the background. The 7 of Swords is a card that says “make up your mind.” You are confusing yourself and it is futile.  The confusion is shown in the background with the pin wheels/wings that Lady Harris has painted. They seem to be spinning in all different directions=confusion.
Often in a reading, the 7 of Swords will come up when least expected. In those cases ask yourself or your client the question; what is it that is worrying you? If the answer is nothing, then look to the future to see if there is something on the horizon. The significant dates are February 9th to February 18th.
Like all cards in the Thoth deck the 7 of Swords is a fascinating card, and one I suspect will be argued about forever.

Blessings All

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October 8, 2013 · 12:34 pm