A few years ago, I did a radio show where I performed live readings for callers. They weren’t asking me about their love lives or job or family. No, this was a Black Friday show where I was reading….Christmas gift ideas.
Yep, you read right. Tarot can be used for anything. It’s especially good for brainstorming, I’ve found.
Stumped on what to get that hard-to-buy-for friend, teacher, minister, nephew, sister, brother-in-law, aunt or babysitter? Here’s some ideas using the first 22 cards of the Tarot, the Major Arcana (Note: you can choose gifts according to the keywords I've provided or that you've come to associate with each card--but you can also select presents quite literally, taking a cue from the actual imagery or title):
The Fool – Something that inspires play, silliness, laughter, fun, risk or childlikeness. Wacky Packages; Awkward Family Photos; F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson; Regretsy: Where DIY Meets WTF by April Winchell; Sir John Hargrave's Mischief Maker's Manual; Jester Hat (with bells!); Disney Trivia from the Vault by Dave Smith; Think Naked: Childlike Brilliance in the Rough Adult Word by Marco Marsan; America's Top Roller Coasters and Amusement Parks by Pete Trabucco; Poster Art of the Disney Parks by Daniel Handke; Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean (DVD set); Eggcentric Fool Mousepad
The Magician – Something that requires invention, promotes ideation, reflects technological wizardry, instills "magic", involves communication, relates to advertising or uses satire. Walt Disney Imagineering by The Imagineers; Criss Angel MindFreak Platinum Magic Kit; Mad Men (Seasons 1-4); Harry Potter Box Set; Fantasia and Fantasia 2000; Totally MAD: 60 Years of Humor, Satire, Stupidiy and Stupidity; Wired magazine; Popular Science magazine; Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky; The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry; Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon; Ignore Everbody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod; Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work by Michael Michalko
The High Priestess – Something involving hidden wisdom, secret societies, conspiracy theories, the occult, mysterious women or the Divine Feminine. The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain; When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone; The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall; Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality by Gary Lachman; The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown; Conspiracies and Secret Societies by Brad and Sherry Steiger; Sophia: The Feminine Face of God by Karen Speerstra; Seeing in the Dark: Myths and Stories to Reclaim the Buried, Knowing Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes; Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler
The Empress – Something that nurtures life, fosters creativity, relates to homesteading, promotes natural healing or celebrates motherhood. Gourmet Herb Seed Kit. Deluxe Art Set. Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller. Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occassional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman. Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son by Anne Lamott. Beginnings by Anne Geddes; Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills by Abigail R. Gehring; Backyard Homsteading by David Toht; Mother Nature Mug
The Emperor – Something related to leadership, organization, boundaries, assertiveness, the military, war, business or fatherhood. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau; Rework by Jason Friend and David Heinemeier Hansson; The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee; Organize Now! by Jennifer Ford Berry; Boundaries: Where I End and You Begin by Anne Katherine; The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner; Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son by Michael Chabon; Fight Club (movie)
The Hierophant – Something connected to traditions, formal learning, teaching, religion and the Divine Masculine. Coexist Bumper Sticker; Because I Said So!: The Truths Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids by Ken Jennings; God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism by Jonathan Kirsch; A History of God by Karen Armstrong; I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza; Wisdom of the Ages by Wayne Dyer
The Lovers – Something related to commitment, love, romance and marriage. The Fountain (movie); Lovers in Art by Bettina Schumann; And the Rest is History: The Famous (and Infamous) First Meetings of the World's Most Passionate Couples by Marlene Wagman-Geller; Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!; Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (movie); Couples' Black and Silver Heart Pendant; Spiral Chimes with Heart Crystals; Cozy Cups Mousepad; The Essential Rumi; The Song of Songs: The World's First Great Love Poem by Ariel Bloch
The Chariot – Something related to speed, transportation or vehicles. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig; I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford by Richard Snow; Cars (the movie); Ben-Hur (movie); Extreme Trains (Season One); Gearation Refrigerator Magnets; Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom by Sue Macy; History's Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths and Rumors Revealed by Matt Stone and Preston Lerner; Snowland Express Train Mug
Strength – Something related to courage, strength, endurance or grace under pressure. V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone by Seth Godin; Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown; Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self- Confidence by Debbie Ford; 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston; Grace Under Pressure by Rush; Finesse Mousepad; Don't Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger, Resentment and Other Destructive Emotions by Pema Chodron; Courage Doesn't Always Roar by Mary Anne Radmacher; Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges by Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney
The Hermit – Something connected to solitude, contemplation, pampering, silence, meditation, cloister life, withdrawal and individualism. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain; Hermit Mug; LED Lantern; Starbucks Coffee and Tazo Tea Collection; Hermit Mousepad; The Cookbook: Shower Gel/Bubble Bath/Shampoo from Philosophy (Old Fashioned Egg Nog, Peppermint Bark, Cinnamon Buns and Hot Buttered Rum); Christmas Morning by Philosophy; Starbucks Home and Away Coffee Set; The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris; Tales of a Magic Monastery by Theopane the Monk; Sound of Music (movie); The Path of Centering Prayer by David Frenette
Wheel of Fortune – Something connected to chance, gambling, luck, chaos, repeating patterns or randomness. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb; Owning Mahowny starring Philip Seymour Hoffman; Luck by Ed Smith; Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb; Snowland Carousel Mug; 21 (movie); Rounders (movie); Ocean's Trilogy (movie); Pi (movie); The Fractal Geometry of Nature by Benoit B. Mandelbrot; Fractals: Hunting the Hidden Dimension (documentary)
Justice – Something related to the legal system, crime, law or anarchy. Lord of the Flies by William Golding; Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel; Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make It Right by Barry Scheck; Peter Neufeld and Jimy Dwyer; O.J. is Innocent and I Can Prove It by William C. Dear; Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Beyond Cold Blood: The KBI from Ma Barker to BTK by Larry Welch; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; Erin Brockovich (movie); Conviction (movie); Doubt (movie)
The Hanged Man – Something related to being suspended, halted, "up in the air", or the "hanged" gods. Shaun White (Amazing Athletes) by Matt Doeden; Jesus for the Rest of Us by John Selby; The Prose Edda: North Mythology by Snorri Sturluson; Judas and Jesus: Two Faces of a Single Revelation by Jean-Yves Leloup; Waiting by Marya Hornbacher; Cliff Jumper Art Print; Adrenaline Rush (documentary); Steep (documentary)
Death – Something connected to passing, transformation and transition. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler; Phoenix Rising Figurine; The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross; Death (Deluxe Edition) by Neil Gaiman; Mortality by Christopher Hitchens; The Life Cycles of Butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards
Temperance – Something connected to experimentation, alchemy, the "Middle Way" or drinking. Shot Glass Roulette Drinking Game; Cocktail Shaker and Bar Tool Set; Prohibition by Ken Burns (Documentary); The Professional Bartender's Handbook by Valeria Mellema; Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett; Beyond the Self: Teachings on the Middle Way by Thich Nhat Hanh; The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason by The Dalia Lama
The Devil – Something related to addictions, co-dependence, manipulation, bondage, debauchery, sexual freedom, horned beasts, hell, "evil" or wildness. Horns by Joe Hill; 50 Shades Trilogy by E.L. James; Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward; Hellboy (movie); Dante's Inferno by Marcus Sanders, Doug Harvey and Sandow Birk (illustrator); Requiem for a Dream (movie); Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia; Vamps & Tramps: New Essays by Camille Paglia; Horns of Power: Manifestations fo the Horned God by Sorita d'Este
The Tower – Something related to explosions, calamity, towers, apocalyptic themes or dealing with chaotic situations. Towering Inferno (movie); 9/11 Documentary (movie); Independence Day (movie); War of the Worlds (movie); Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London by Nigel Jones; The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart; SEAL Survivor Guide: A Navy SEAL's Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster by Cade Courtley
The Star – Something related to the Age of Aquarius, astronomy, astrology or UFOs. Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide; Ancient Aliens (Season One, Season Two, Season Three and Season Four); The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams; The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk; Astrology for Yourself by Douglas Bloch and Demetra George; Refractor Telescope;UFOS: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record by Leslie Kean
The Moon – Something involving dreams, intuition, fears, mermaids, maritime, seafood, deep waters or illusion. Donnie Darko (movie); The Moon by Seymour Simon; Iceberg Under a Full Moon poster; The Secret History of Mermaids and Creatures of the Deep by Ari Berk; Mermaids: The Myths, Legends and Lore by Skye Alexander; Fish & Shellfish: The Cook's Indispensable Companion by James Peterson; Finding Nemo (movie); Lady in the Water (movie); The Dream Book: Symbols for Self Understanding by Betty Bethards; The Deep: Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian; IMAX Deep Sea (movie)
The Sun – Something connected to hot climates, summer, fame and reaching towards excellence. Baltic Amber Sun Pendant; The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin; Sun Lamp; Sunflower Hand-Painted Clock; The Sun by Seymour Simon; The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway; Solar by Ian McEwan; Sun Wall Art; Sunflowers Canvas Art Print by Claude Monet
Judgement – Something related to past lives, karma, the afterlife or discovering your life purpose. Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential by Caroline Myss; The Language of Archeypes: Discover the Forces that Shape Your Destiny by Caroline Myss; Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Dr. Michael Newton; Desinty of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Dr. Michael Newton; Your Soul's Plan: Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born by Robert Schwartz; It's Your Karma Past Life Reincarnation Oracle Card Deck by Kathy Dannel Vitcak; Snow Angel Calling Mug; What Dreams May Come (DVD); The Five People You Meet in Heaven (DVD)
The World – Something involving global awareness or world events. Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings. Antique wooden mini-globes. Subscription to National Geographic magazine. Oxford's Atlas of the World. Subscription to National Geographic for Kids; Subscription to Smithsonian magazine; Antique Weather Watch Globe; The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2013; The CIA World Factbook 2013; TIME for Kids Almanac 2012; Earth by Seymour Simon
What about you, readers? What gift ideas come to mind for each of the 22 Major Arcana cards?
In the Snowland Tarot, we've changed the title of the Lovers card to Commitment and The Devil to Chains.
Keywords for Commitment: Contract; Commitment; Marriage; Promises; Devotion; Dedication; Resolution; Pledge; Proposal
Keywords for Chains: Confinement; Enslavement; Trapped; Misplaced Values; Oppression; Consumerism; One-Sided; Co-Dependent; Neglect; Held Back; Habits; Addition; Confronting “Demons”; Materialism
Tarot Combo Exercise for Commitment and Chains
If Commitment and Chains told a story, what would it be? How would the story be different if Chains came before Commitment?
How does a ring, and the word commitment, connect to the traditional meaning and implication of The Lovers?
How does enchained barnyard animals (and the slain devil) relate to the traditional meaning and implication of The Devil?
Commitment and Chains Spread
Shuffle the deck of your choice. Choose at random one or more cards for each of the seven positions in the spread below.
To find out more about the Snowland Tarot, visit SnowlandDeck.com.
Are you fascinated by Christmas? Love trivia? You'll love my eBook 111 Facts About Christmas!
111 Facts About Christmas provides entertaining tidbits surrounding the myths, traditions, symbols, movies and songs of the holiday.
At over 6,000 words, you'll discover fascinating facts like:
* Legend says that people kiss under the mistletoe because it is neither tree nor shrub, and thereby equated with freedom from restriction.
* Which Sherlock Holmes short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is set during Christmastime? None other than “The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle”.
* For the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, Macy’s refused to let their name be mentioned in the film for fear of bringing attention to their bankruptcy problems.
* You can get your Christmas cards sent with a decorative postmark from Santa Claus, Indiana by sending them pre-stamped in a large envelope to: Postmaster, Santa Claus Station, Santa Claus, IN 47579-9998.
* In Sweden, a popular Christmas decoration is the julbukk. It’s a figurine of a goat made from straw.
Relax, unwind and enjoy these 111 Facts About Christmas by yours truly. Come time for family gatherings, office parties and holiday dinners, you'll be chock-full of engaging trivia to share!
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Click here to find out more and get your very own copy for only $1.99 (or free with Kindle Unlimited).
Just in the last week, I've come across these seven word groups used incorrectly.
It drives me nuts!
Four of them were used by Tarot "professionals".
C'mon, guys. The world already thinks we're nuts. Let's not have them think us illiterate and stupid, too, m'kay?
Here are some commonly confused words, all cleared up for you.
Pouring vs. Poring
Unless you plan on pouring coffee or some other drink over your client's "business plan" (which I don't recommend), you will, instead, be poring over their business plan.
Pouring - To send liquid or loose particles falling or flowing. The waitress poured me another glass of sweet tea.
Poring - To read or study with earnest attention. I'm poring over my checkbook, looking for mistakes.
Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique
This week, I received a Tarot magazine from Down Under that promised a "sneak peak". Well, unless you're going to unveil a secret mountain top, you mean "sneak peek".
Peek: To sneak a look. Imagine the two "e"s are eyes looking at you. The boy peeked in the closet, looking for his Christmas presents.
Peak: Top of the mountain or the highest point. My energy peaks around 10 PM.
Pique: To excite, arouse or sharply irritate. When her husband promised a surprise, Linda's curiosity was piqued.
Edition vs. Addition
Edition: A version of something. You can purchase our Snowland Deck Life Themes Edition here.
Addition: The process or act of adding. 2 + 2 isn't 5. You need to check your addition.
Raise vs. Raze
Raised: To lift up or elevate. The partygoers raised their glass in a toast.
Razed: To tear down or demolish. Because of the fire, I'm not sure if the entire home will need to be razed.
Threw vs. Through
Threw: Past tense of "throw". The quarterback threw the football.
Through: To go in one end and out the other. Robert Frost famously said "The only way out is through."
Roll vs. Role
Roll: To turn over and over (verb). Or, a piece of baked dough (noun). You gotta roll with the punches.
Role: A part that is played. Joan of Arc was her role model.
This last example is courtesy my adorable husband. Yeah, he rocks. Seriously. Even when he mixes up big words.
Permutation vs. Permeation
Permutation: To alter, transform, change or rearrange. Mash-ups are permutations.
Permeation: To penetrate or saturate. Grammar faux pas and rife misspellings permeate Tarot blogs and publications.
Don't mix these words up again. You are without excuse.
When is difficulty too much trouble?
You do your best, try to take the high road and yet...someone's not satisfied.
They want more.
Too many hands on your time.
7 is a very spiritual, mystical number...but it's also a number of strategy, even cunning.
Consider yourself a spiritual strategist when any of the 7s surface in a reading (including the Major Arcana cards The Chariot and The Tower).
When the 7 of Wands shows up, ask yourself:
To answer these questions with the right brain, go through a Tarot deck--cards face up so you can see the images--and choose which one feels best as a solution.
For example, for the question "How do I regain my footing?" you may feel drawn to the 8 of Cups.
What might its advice be?
Or, perhaps you feel drawn to the The Chariot card.
What might its advice be?
To answer these questions with random Divine Guidance, shuffle the cards face down so you can't see the images and pick a solution card.
7 of Wands Journaling Prompts:
You can use Tarot cards--consciously or unconsciously--to answer these questions in the form of a spread for your prompts...or just journal your thoughts and feelings without their aid.
If you use this Tarot Devotional as a part of your contemplative or journaling practice, I'd love to hear your results and insights...so feel free to leave a comment!
Your first Tarot deck must be given to you as a gift. You must shuffle seven times before every reading. Tarot decks should be stored in a silk cloth. Tarot is incompatible with Christianity. You shouldn’t read Tarot while intoxicated. There is no wrong way to read Tarot. The best deck is the Rider-Waite Tarot.
It’s time to dispel the myths surrounding Tarot and introduce some truths.
My special co-host Amanda Donnelly (78 Whispers Blog) and I give you the straight story on what you need—and don’t need—when using Tarot cards.
Tune in below!
Click here to go the show page on BlogTalkRadio.
I just discovered that my Tarot Basics eBook is a number one bestseller in New Age Divination with Tarot!
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Don't have a copy? Get your very own at this link. Don't have a Kindle? You don't need one to read my Tarot Basics! Just get Kindle for PC, for free, directly from Amazon at this link. You can get free apps, too.
Widely known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, author Theodor Geisel (1904-1991) created a cast of lovable characters and wacky worlds in his children's books. From Horton to the Lorax, the Cat in the Hat to Marvin K. Mooney, Dr. Seuss's whimsical characters entertained children through dozens of books, some of which were turned into animated specials and feature films.
One of the most famous of Seuss's characters was the leering green monster with "termites in his smile" and "garlic in his soul": the despicable Mr. Grinch. Based on the children's book, the TV classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas featured the voice talent of Boris Karloff (who played Frankenstein and starred in other horror films), animations by Chuck Jones (who also drew the Warner Brothers' characters the Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, and Pepe Le Pew), and special song lyrics by Seuss himself. This amusing tale of redemption takes viewers from the Grinch's mountainous cave down to the cheery hamlet of Who-ville, where the "cuddly as a cactus" villain attempts to wipe out Christmas.
Ten of Cups: The story begins with a circle of joyous creatures, called Whos, singing in the center of Whoville. Besides thinking of a happy family when I see the Ten of Cups, I also associate this card with harmonious relationships and cooperation. Some renderings of the Ten of Cups show children holding hands or couples embracing--a fitting image for the good-natured Whos!
Four of Wands and Seven of Cups: With their dizzying array of musical contraptions, festive boisterousness, and glorious feasting, the celebratory Four of Wands just didn't seem to be enough to capture the wonder of the Whos. Although the Seven of Cups can be a "castles in the air" card, I tend to view this card with great fondness: so many choices, so many opportunities--which do I focus on today? I sometimes think of the Seven of Cups as the "life is a buffet" card. The Whos seem to have many material distractions readily available, and they enjoy them immensely. However, as the end of this story shows, their amusement arises from something much deeper and is independent of frills, thrills, and even food.
Five of Swords and Seven of Swords: For over fifty years, the Grinch put up with the happy Whos. One day, a menacing smirk creeps upon his visage when he gets a "wonderful, awful idea": "What a great Grinchy trick! With this coat and hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!" I chose the Five of Swords to express this sentiment because it depicts a gloating man appearing to best two others who are walking away, maybe dejectedly.
Because the Grinch has a heart "two sizes too small," the jubilation of the Whos sets his teeth on edge, and he's determined to destroy what he thinks is the source of their happiness. The Grinch feels that it's him against them, and he plots to ruin the Whos' Christmas by demoralizing them, assuming they'll cry "boo hoo" when they discover that everything--light bulbs, poinsettia petals, and even ice cubes--has been taken from them.
The Seven of Swords shows a figure walking away from a group of tents with an armload of blades--a picture that some interpret as theft. When the Grinch stealthily takes every bauble, morsel, and stocking from Whoville, he resembles the figure on the Seven of Swords.
I also tend to think of the Seven of Swords as the "wolf in sheep's clothing" card in certain instances. When little Cindy Lou Who catches the Grinch taking away their decorations, the "smart and slick" Grinch, dressed in a Santa suit, thinks up a lie on the spot. He quickly notices a burned-out light on the Christmas tree and tells her that he's taking the entire tree to his workshop to fix it. The Grinch goes so far as to give Cindy Lou a drink, patting her on the head with faux kindness.
Six of Cups: With her wide-eyed innocence, Cindy Lou Who embodies the naiveté of children. In her world, it's inconceivable that someone would brashly enter her house and steal everything for the express purpose of causing grief. She believes that the Grinch is indeed Santa, and her trust borders on heartbreaking. Originally, I thought of the Sun card to represent Cindy Lou Who, but this scenario reminded me of the times when a trusting child is left in the presence of a predatory adult--and the pain and loss that can often ensue. (If you look closely at the Universal Waite image, a guard seems to be ascending the stairs to the left, leaving the child unattended in the presence of a larger person.)
In the Universal Waite deck, the Six of Cups shows a taller figure handing a cup of flowers to a little girl. This taller figure appears to be wearing an elflike costume and is almost double in size compared to the little girl. Although this card is sometimes interpreted as reconciliation, nostalgia, innocence, sharing, compassion, simple gifts, and childhood, there seems to be a sinister element to the Rider-Waite rendering of the Six of Cups when viewed in a particular light. It seemed like the perfect choice to represent the scene where Cindy Lou gently confronts "Santa."
The Devil: The Grinch enslaves his dog, Max, forcing him to carry loads much heavier than his little body. A circular attachment connects the dog's harness to the Grinch's getaway sleigh. Interestingly, in the Universal Waite image, a similar circular fixture connects the Devil's perch with the enchained humans.
The Grinch wrongly assumes that depriving the Whos of their material goods will result in sadness and despair. The flip side to this belief is, of course, that material abundance brings joy and contentment. One of the ways I view the Devil card is the insatiable belief that things equal happiness or that the relentless pursuit of the new and improved will fill an emotional void. Because the Grinch thinks that materialism is the source of the Whos well-being, he assumes taking just about everything they own is the same as stealing Christmas from them.
Judgment: On Christmas morning, the Grinch gleefully anticipates the wailing of the Whos, but boy is he in for a surprise. Instead of hearing boo hoos, a "glad sound reached his ears. All the Whos were singing without any toys. Somehow or another, Christmas came anyway! It came without ribbons, tags packages, or bags!" It is in that moment that the Grinch has an epiphany: "Maybe Christmas . . . doesn't come from a store--maybe it means a little bit more."
When the Grinch sees the error of his ways, he has a literal "change of heart," because his heart "grew three sizes that day." He blew on his trumpet, returned all the games, food, and decorations, and even joined the Whos at the supper table, carving the roast beast. When I see the trumpet blowing angel in the Judgment card from the Universal Waite, I think of a wake-up call that results in changed behavior--just like the Grinch experienced.
Ten of Cups: I chose this card to frame the beginning and the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas because the Whos' joy and well-being remained the same--independent of the machinations of the Grinch and their personal losses. The end of this heart-warming story sums up my view of the Ten of Cups quite nicely: "Christmas day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.
One of the ways I see the Judgment card is "turning over a new leaf," or the realization that some approach or belief system just isn't working for us. Whether this conscious acknowledgment comes as a result of the Tower, the Devil, the Hanged Man, or other archetypal energy, the "aha!" moment of realizing what will invite or promote our personal heaven on earth can be a gloriously pivotal moment. (Two great books on this topic are Loving What Is by Byron Katie and What God Wants by Neale Donald Walsch).
Do you enjoy this way of learning the Tarot? If so, get yourself a copy of my Back in Time Tarot (print book or for Kindle), which features over 100 Your Turn exercises for practicing connecting pop culture with the cards.
Let's hack the symbolism of the enigmatic High Priestess Tarot card from the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition.
Balance; Yin/Yang; Opposites Unified (Taoism); "Good Things Comes in Pairs" (Chinese philosophy); Diversity (Pythagoras); Potential for Disorder/Evil (Pythagoras); Balance; Duality; Opposition
Black and White Pillars
As the number 2, black and white signifies duality—yin/yang, dark/light, feminine/masculine, severity/mercy, passive/aggressive, esoteric/exoteric, heart/mind, intuition/logic and so on. Toggling back and forth, they are "either/or". However, the central veil featuring pomegranates and the date palm tree connects the two pillars—suggesting integration and the union of opposites. The two pillars, when joined by the veil, signify "both".
B and J – In I Kings 7 (Old Testament), the author offers a detailed description of Solomon's temple, including the pillars that marked the entrance. Verse 21 states: "Then he set up the pillars by the vestibule of the temple; he set up the pillar on the right and called its name Jachin, and he set up the pillar on the left and called its name Boaz." (NKJV) In Hebrew, Jachin means "He Shall Establish", while Boaz means "In It Is Strength".
Equal-Armed White Cross
The Christian cross is not equal-armed, but features vertical lines that stretch longer than the horizontal ones. That particular symbol, known as the Latin Cross and derived from the crucifix, suggests the Divine reaching further towards man in a gesture of reconciliation, comfort or salvation…often through mortal sacrifice. Symbolically, it represents excruciating psychic tension. However, the white equal-armed cross in the Rider-Waite High Priestess, known as the Greek Cross, was a common symbol from the 4th century that indicated the world-wide spread of the gospel.
A more inclusive, mystical interpretation of the equal-armed cross indicates the reconciliation of the psychic angst represented by the Latin Cross, thus making it a symbol of spiritual and psychological integration. The result is not only a sense of peace and well-being, but also of oneness with the Divine—that then engenders feelings of at-one-ment with all beings.
Yellow Crescent Moon
The crescent moon looks like the horns of a cow, which connects this symbol to the cow goddess Hathor. It also signifies the maiden stage of the Maiden/Mother/Crone triple goddess archetype, which also connects to virginal Persephone, Artemis and Mary. In Mesopotamia, the likeness to the horns of a bull connects with the masculine principle of insemination. Jung felt that the boat-like shape of the crescent connected to Ishtar's "Ship of Life", a Babylonian symbol referring to a vehicle containing the seeds of all life. The Christian Madonna (Mother Mary) is often portrayed with her feet on a crescent moon, which would indicate the paradox of "chaste virgin and vessel of divine birth". (Taschen, 30).
The color yellow symbolizes the masculine Sun, which is a paradoxical color for the feminine Moon symbol—also indicating integration of masculine/feminine polarities. Islamic tradition considered bright yellow indicative of good advice and wisdom, while the Chinese used the color gold to welcome fertility. Jungian analyst James Hillman says that yellow connects to the citrinitas stage of alchemy, a transitional phase after the nigredo (black) of chaos gives way to the albedo (white) of contemplation and stillness, on the way to the rubedo (red)— the return to full engagement with the outside world. (Taschen, 644)
The entire lengthy alchemical process—black to white to yellow to red—represents transmuting base metals into gold (and prolonging life), but mystics and Jungians consider it a metaphor for psychic wholeness. Indeed, the famed medieval Philosopher's Stone was an imagined substance that could elevate base metals into gold, the material equivalent of perfection.
Some have connected the white crown on the High Priestess to the Egyptian goddess Isis, but Isis' crown typically shows a throne for a headdress. Thus, a connection to Isis seems rather specious. From appearance alone, the crown looks like three stages of the moon: Waxing Cresent, Full and Waning Crescent. This could be a shortcut for the eight moon phases, signifying endless cycles of birth, death and rebirth. It makes sense to also connect these three moon stages to the idealized Triple Goddess:
Apart from oceans and the sky, blue is the rarest color in nature. Interestingly, Tarot scholar and artist Robert Place once said to me that the pigment ultramarine was used liberally in commissioned medieval art because it was derived from costly stone lapis lazuli. In this light, the blue robe suggests "concealing that which is precious" or even preciousness itself. Mother Mary is often enrobed in blue, suggesting spiritual beauty, purity and transcendence. Note that blue was rarely used in primitive art or among illiterate peoples, but is often connected with the elite (blue ribbon, blue blood, blue-chip stocks). (Taschen, 650) Blue is a calming, meditative color.
Scrolls often symbolize monumental declarations. The opening of Revelations' scrolls (New Testament) comes to mind, as do the Hear ye! Hear ye!s found in film and literature. When a scroll is rolled up, it's unreadable—and therefore, contains secrets.
The origins and meaning of TORA (and even Tarot, itself), is hotly contested. Many take the easy route, connecting TORA with the Hebrew Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch, the cornerstone of Judaic Law). In his 1888 book The Tarot, Samuel L. Mathers recombined the letters T-A-R-O in several permutations, connecting them to the essences of the Major Arcana cards. In the book The Complete New Tarot by Onno and Rob Docters van Leeuwen, the authors provide an extensive treatise on the origins, meanings and benefits of connecting, chanting and singing permutations of T-A-R-O, especially with the Tarot Majors in mind. They liken TARO to an infinite loop, much like the ourobouros belt on the Rider-Waite's version of The Magician…especially with the additional T at the end.
Water – Water is refreshing, cooling and life sustaining. You can survive weeks without food, but only a few days without water. It often symbolizes the vast subconscious, although water also plays a prominent part in spiritual rebirth or dedication rites through baptism, sprinkling holy water, bathing in the river Ganges or ritual cleansing.
Veil – Veils conceal. From the Islamic burka to the gauzy masks of Turkish dancers to white bridal coverings to black mourning garb, veils conceal all or parts of the face. However, the High Priestess doesn't wear a veil but, rather, there is a tapestry "veil" connecting the two pillars. According to the Bible, there was a thick curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple (see Hebrews 6:19; 9:3 and 10:20 in the New Testament), which is referred to as a "veil". In Matthew 27:51, it is reported that that the "veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom: and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split" (NKJV) at the moment of Jesus' death.
Christian theologians say this signifies the ripping of the partition between man and God, allowing full access to Divine communion, without the need for a human mediator like a priest. Because the veil was ripped from top to bottom, it was an act of God, since it would have been much too high to be ripped by man, who would have started at the bottom. If the Latin Cross symbolizes the unequal balance of spiritual connection (the vertical, divine lines being longer)—with a spiritual "veil" still intact—then the equal-armed Greek Cross on the High Priestess could connect to the post-torn-veil state of union with, and free access to, God or Divine Knowledge.
In mystical spirituality, it's said that a "veil" separates the living from the physically dead; thus, contact with spirits goes "beyond the veil". During Samhain or Halloween, pagans often say that the "veil is thinnest" during that time; that is, the separation between the material and spiritual plane is more easily traversed.
In Phrygian myth, castrated Agditis became the goddess Cybele, the blood forming the first pomegranate tree; Associated with Persephone, Hades and the Underworld (death, life and rebirth cycle); Central to Eleusian Mysteries honoring Demeter and Persephone as the feminine source and symbolic of the continuity of life. In I Kings 7:20 (Old Testament), the pillars in the Temple of Solomon are said to have pomegranates above them, as well as "two hundred rows on each of the capitals all around". (NKJV)
Date Palm Tree – Vital fluids; Sacred tree of Hathor, queen of the Date Palm, who feeds the deceased from the fronds and provides sacred milk; Lingam (trunk) and Yoni (leaves); Hidden spring found underneath for fleeing Holy Family (Apocrypha); Divine brook and ripe dates provided for pregnant Mary (Koran).
What about you, dear reader? What symbols do you see in the High Priestess Tarot card? Feel free to leave your insights and comments for me!
High Priestess images from the Universal Waite Tarot published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Let's hack the symbols in The Magician Tarot card from the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition.
Right Arm Held Upward
The right hand is active, masculine and logical--connected to the left brain. The upheld arm suggests the active pursuit--a "reaching for"--of Source energy (Higher Self, the Divine, archetypal realm, etc.)
Double-tipped White Wand
A pure channel of spiritual wisdom and clear inspiration. Because it's double-tipped, it "works both ways". That is, The Magician not only reaches for the Divine (or Higher Realms)--putting his/her attention (and intention) skyward--but also serves as a conduit from Above. It's phallic shape echoes the numeral 1. The Magician grips the wand, suggesting a firm grasp of both intention and will.
Left Hand Pointing Downward
Manifestation on the earth plane. Not only is The Magician willing to seek Higher Wisdom and channel it earthward, but he's also willing to "point the way"--showing initiates that they, too, can manifest etheric ideas, substances and energy into the denser material realm. Whether he actually shares how to do it is a different matter altogether...
Lemniscate Above Magician’s Head
The "figure 8" signifies eternity, as well as the infinite capacity for creativity. As long as The Magician holds his active, right arm upward and his left arm downward--willing to remain an open 2-way channel of universal energy--he retains the ability to create and re-create at will in the material plane.
Ouroboros Belt (snake eating its tail)
The snake is another phallic symbol. In Ancient Egypt the cobra symbolized divine wisdom, while in Oceania, the snake is a creator figure connected to pregnancy. It's lidless stare connects to all-seeing wisdom, suggesting that The Magician refuses to look away from uncomfortable truths--and enters the creative arena with "eyes wide open". The snake eating itself speaks to the power of reinvention. At any time--with will and intention--we can shed our "skin"...and don or "grow" a new one.
Red Roses and White Lilies
A table symbolizes an area of attention. When we "put something on the table"--or "lay our cards on the table"--we signify a willingness to disclose our thoughts, feelings and intentions to others in order to discuss or evaluate them. When we put the intangible to words or actions, we begin the process of manifestation on the earth plane. Once something's "on the table", it can't be retrieved or easily reversed back into the etheric plane. A table is also used to "hold" things or make them easier to examine. The Magician needs a "place" to channel his energy and focus his will. Three etched symbols are on the wooden table in the Universal Waite Magician Tarot card. They appear to be waves of water, tongues of fire and a dove (similar to the one on the Ace of Cups, except this dove is facing upward, not downward).
Water symbolizes emotions/relationships (connected to the Minor Arcana Cups suit), Fire symbolizes passion/will/matters of the self (connected to the Minor Arcana Wands suit) and the dove connects to Air, which symbolizes the realm of ideas (which connects to the Minor Arcana Swords suit). It stands to reason that the fourth element, Earth, is contained in the wooden table itself (which is where the rest of the elements play out in life).
Could it be that this three-symbol code says, "When you start with water (feeling) and add fire (passion), the result is steam (ideas) that flows upward as vapor...only to condense once again on the earthly table of manifestation"? After all, the water cycle certainly echoes the snake eating its tail...
Four Elements on Table
Yet again we have echoes of the four elements and the Tarot's Minor Arcana suits: Cup (Emotions); Wand (Will); Sword (Intellect); Coin (Physicality). The Wand and Sword are both phallic (and thus masculine/active), while the Cup and Coin are both vulvic (and thus feminine/receptive). Both Yin and Yang are necessary to create...and to make magic.
The Magician is master over the four elements and the realms they govern. The four elements are a rich and fascinating exploration, especially since the Aces embody them and the Minor Arcana suits reflect them....and they're right on the Magician's table.
Let's take a closer look at the four elements, keeping in mind the other symbols we've already spied in The Magician.
Usually, and from my experience, associations and issues connected with the four elements and suits are:
WATER - Cups, chalices, bowls, hearts or other receptacle for holding. It is considered feminine/passive in nature. Colors often used in Water cards are deep blues, aqua and, in some cases, gold (in terms of cup color and preciousness). WATER/CUPS connects with relationships, intuition, feelings, dreams, the unconscious/subconscious, psychic phenomena, empathy, compassion, forgiveness and matters of the heart. Its energy is of a slower nature--steeping, stewing. In ancient Tarot de Marseilles style decks, CUPS was associated with the clergy. In the four-humor model, WATER is sanguine. In terms of Jungian function, WATER is Feeling.
EARTH - Coins, pentacles, disks, crystals, diamonds or other round object. It is considered feminine/passive in nature. Colors often used in Earth cards are greens and browns, sometimes gold (in terms of money). EARTH/COINS connects with the physical realm, such as material possessions, money, job, health, land, home and environment. Its energy is of a slower nature--cautious, methodical. In ancient Tarot de Marseilles style decks, COINS was associated with the merchant class. In the four-humor model, EARTH is phlegmatic. In terms of Jungian function, EARTH is Sensing.
FIRE - Wands, batons, staffs or clubs, its phallic shape connects it with the masculine/active. Colors often used in Fire cards are red and orange, sometimes bright yellow. FIRE/WANDS connects with passion, energy, enthusiasm, courage, gumption, vocation, career (as opposed to actual job), and many issues related to the "self" (as in, "self starter", "self propelled", "self possessed", etc.). Its energy is of a faster nature--sudden, and sometimes explosive. In ancient Tarot de Marseilles style decks, WANDS was associated with the peasant class. In the four-humor model, FIRE is choleric. In terms of Jungian function, FIRE is iNtuition.
AIR - Swords, blades, arrows or spades, its shape is also phallic, and thus masculine/active. Colors often used in Air cards are powder blue, gray, white and at times, yellow (especially pale yellow). AIR/SWORDS connect with the mental realm--thoughts, communication, decisions, beliefs, judgments, clarity of ideas, opinions and so on. Many people believe that thoughts cause suffering, not situations. Thus, AIR/SWORDS is often attributed to arguments, hostility, anxiety and suffering. In ancient Tarot de Marseilles style decks, SWORDS was associated with nobility. In the four-humor model, AIR is melancholic. In terms of Jungian function, AIR is Thinking.
What about you, dear reader? What symbols do you see in The Magician Tarot card? Feel free to leave your insights and comments for me!
Magician images from the Universal Waite Tarot published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
I love it when I'm reading a book and a passage just jumps out at me, brilliantly capturing the energy or import of a Tarot card.
Gurney made his way back to the parking area. A foursome of golfers in traditional plaid pants and V-neck sweaters were just getting out of an oversize white SUV that reminded him of an upscale kitchen appliance. Normally the thought that someone had paid seventy-five thousand dollars to ride around in a giant toaster would have made him smile. But now it struck him as just one more symptom of a degenerating world, a world in which acquisitive morons were conniving endlessly to amass the largest possible piles of crap.
The Devil Tarot card often indicates bondage to the material world ("things"), slavery to addiction (co-dependence, drugs, eating, shopping, insatiable collecting, alcohol) and habitual self-destructive habits.
It could be said that the maxim "Too much is never enough" encapsulates the energy of The Devil. While the 9 of Cups may indicate temporary gluttony or drunkenness, The Devil--as a Major Arcana card--symbolizes the archetypal pattern of bondage, addiction and self-debasement that permeates a life for years.
Sometimes (oftentimes?) this archetypal pattern is passed down through generations--whether through nature (genetics) or nurture (environment)--as "sins of the father".
And how's this for irony: it wasn't until I was about to type this post that I realized the title of the book I quoted from above is Let the Devil Sleep (I kid you not). It's book #3 in the retired detective Dave Gurney series by John Verdon.
Care to share a quote that captures the essence of The Devil card for you? What about a passage you've recently read? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.
Image of The Devil Tarot card from the Universal Waite Tarot
A few months ago, I envisioned an eBook series that would feature quotes or facts about a particular topic.
I got the idea as I was looking through my 100+ writing craft books, noting the passages that were highlighted.
Then, I began considering how I love coming across great quotes--often sharing them on Twitter or Facebook. And, of course, I've been a life-long trivia buff...
With Kindle, you can easily highlight quotes from eBooks and share them with your friends or followers, posting a passage right to Twitter or Facebook.
The rest is, as they say, history. Well, at least, it's history in the making!
I have dozens of topics mapped out for my new Call 111! series, but the first three will be 111 Facts About Christmas (almost done!), 111 Quotes for Writers (halfway done!) and 111 Quotes for Tarot Lovers (30% done!):
Each of these eBooks are meticulously researched from source material. Hey, I have to use my huge personal library for something, right? What this means is that I'm not getting quotes from Bartletts, Bartleby or Oxford.
No, I'm going through all my books--reading up a storm--and culling the very best quotes related to a topic. Most of these won't be one-liners, either. We're talking a decent portion you can really chew on (and which still falls under copyright's "fair use" laws).
With the 111 Facts About Christmas book, I'm doing extensive research into all aspects of Christmas using my personal library and direct sources--symbolism, movies, songs, statistics, myth and more. And how cool is this? All Call 111! eBooks will be priced at only $1.11!
Have a particular topic or focus you'd like to see covered in my Call 111! eBook series? By all means leave your suggestions in the comments section! I'd love to hear what you would like to read.
For now, here are some topics I have on my list:
111 Quotes for:
Finding Your Purpose
Living Your Passion
Banishing Your Fears
Loss and Grief
Getting Back Your Mojo
Dealing with Idiots
I love the #TarotToo card combination challenges mzzlee posts on Twitter. They're a great exercise in combining the energy of two cards and forcing you to sum up the pair in only 140 characters (Twitter's post limit).
I often get requests to do posts (or teach) on Tarot card combos, so I'm happy to expand upon what Daughn Lee does via Twitter--sometimes, even including my #TarotToo reply on the combo--but then elaborate on each pairing.
One recent challenge was the 7 of Wands + The Emperor:
When considering this combo, the first thing that popped into my head was "Wait until your father comes home!". This is because the figure in the 7 of Wands reminded me of a beleaguered parent trying to deal with the demands and shenanigans of multiple kids. The Emperor often indicates the Father archetype. In the Universal Waite version (pictured above) he's not only looking at the action, he's got a no-nonsense look on his face!
Another scenario that I thought of was an overwhelmed substitute teacher getting "rescued" by the school principal. I don't know about you, but when I was in Junior and Senior High, substitute teachers often received quite a bit of razzing at the hands of students. I could just see a class getting out of hand as a clueless teacher tries to figure out what to do with their spit-balling young selves. Ah...but the principal happens to walk by, hearing the cacophony emanating from the school room. Relief, at last, for the substitute teacher!
Further pondering the 7 of Wands + The Emperor, two other scenarios came to mind:
If the individuals were dangerous and armed, the commanding officer would likely recommend one of two scenarios--each that could be summed up by a Tarot card.
If the commander advises to advance, that would be the next card...the 8 of Wands (the "full speed ahead" card as I like to call it). And if he calls for a retreat? The 8 of Wands reversed. Why? Because it is the swift "pull back" or withdrawal of energy.
So what happens if the two cards were switched? What happens if the Emperor card comes before the 7 of Wands?
Emperor + 7 of Wands
Now, we have the authority figure preceding a situation--not coming in "after the fact". How would you interpret these two cards in this order? Here are some scenarios that come to mind for me:
I'd love to hear your insights on the Emperor and 7 of Wands combination, so please feel free to leave a comment! And if you have any questions for me, don't hesitate to ask.
Emperor and 7 of Wands images from the Universal Waite Tarot published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.