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August 2011

Modern Day Oracle Meets the BIT Tarot Method

BIT COVER 250When I wrote down my intuitive process for working with the Tarot and turned it into my book Back in Time Tarot, my greatest hope wasn't for astronomical sales or gazillions in royalties (yeah, like that can happen with a Tarot book of any stripe!).

Sure, I've always wanted to write a book and have it traditionally published. Some day. And sure, it was a great feeling when it happened in 2008.

But what I really hoped and wanted for Back in Time Tarot was individuals discovering the amazing layers of intuitive gold buried in memories and their perceptions of stories, songs, art, myths, TV shows, news items, historical events, renowned figures and more.

By mining these "everyday" experiences--whether mundane or profound, joyful or traumatic--and then pairing them with consciously chosen Tarot cards, I knew that a powerful link would form between waking reality and the personal unconscious, the material plane and the vast storehouse of symbols, archetypes and intuitive vision (the collective unconscious).

However, the BIT Tarot Method requires work. Plumbing intuitive depths, putting in the time to excavate memories and unearthing the soul is not for the faint of heart. Not only does it require actual physical work (creating a BIT Snapshot, choosing the corresponding Tarot cards and journaling the connections), but deep spiritual, soul work (so much so that this method has reportedly helped people to heal from emotional trauma and actual physical injury--not to mention "blown open" their Third Eye Chakra).

And frankly? People are lazy. Even Tarot people. They want their meanings handed to them for easy digestion and regurgitation. They want experts to tell them the "right" way or the "best" way or the "estoteric-let-me-bore-you-to-tears" way. But create your own meanings? Discover your own inner library? Nuh uh. Not for most. And that's OK! Not everyone is on the Earth at this time for intense soul work!

But when I encounter a brave soul who dives head first in any profound soul work--wow. I smile and give a hearty, silent hell yeah! to them as I witness their amazing journey.

Thanks to the internet, one ways we can witness extraordinary soul journeys is through blogs. I'm privileged to have met a wonderful soul named Michael Baneulos--aka Modern Day Oracle--who bought my book just a few days ago...but already has three incredible blog posts already up detailing his experience with the BIT Tarot Method.

Modern day oracle 
You can visit Michael's site and read his posted experience with my BIT Tarot Method here, here and here.

To say I'm honored, humbled, excited to read Michael's responses to the Your Turn exercise from Back in Time Tarot--well, those apt terms would be an understatement to how I feel, to be perfectly honest. To somehow contribute to a person's going deeper, wider and higher with their symbolic sight and personal growth...wow. That's what I'm all about. That's my purpose.

Thank you, Michael, for buying my book and supporting my work. But what I'm most appreciative of is your courage, commitment and transparency to share your BIT Snapshots with the world. I'm benefiting from your blogs posts, and I'm sure others will, too.

I'll leave you all with two interesting quotes relevant to this blog post. One is a Facebook status update from the revered dream expert, author and shaman Robert Moss. He wrote: Physicists David Bohm and L. David Peat got it right: it takes "courage, energy and passion" to break out of consensual and habitual patterns of thinking. ("Science, Order and Creativity").

Illuminara Cover 300 The other is a quote from the Illuminara Intuitive Journal With Cards that I'm working with right now (which is quite similiar to my BIT Tarot Method, but used with her special art cards). Author and artist Elaine Clayton writes:

When I first began reading intuitively, all of this associative memory came to me as vibrant information when interpreting during a reading. My own meanings and symbols emerged and spoke during the readings, coupled with the spiritual, healing sensation that you get when you know that you and every person alive are part of God and that we are all connected...

I knew that my intuition was linked to those personal meanings I had stored inside of me. Those meanings were not factual or rational, but they were potent and seemed to be a part of an inner library, a pictorial language of my own, a guidance system that I could use for myself and share with others.

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin)  


Self-Care for Writers and Obsessive Creatives

Pencils Hard to believe, but not all writers love to write.

Me? I usually have a notebook (er, many notebooks) on hand to jot down ideas. I’m not picky: I’ve been known to write down ideas on book jacket covers, bookmarks, grocery lists, receipts, Kleenex…

Some of these ideas turn into full-blown blog posts, reviews, social media postings, portions of eBooks or even parts of a book proposal.

But what if you write (and read and think) so much, you neglect your well-being?

If you love brainstorming and writing and much as I do, you may be swept along in “creator’s high”—a place of exhilarating, tantalizing “what ifs” and the magical birthplace of readable, usable, helpful content.

As I sometimes joke to my husband, “I’m only alive from the neck up”.

And that can present a problem. Or two.

Here’s a recent example: I was experiencing unusual fatigue and sleepiness over the weekend. This lasted two, three days.

My husband said, “You’re dehydrated.”

Glass waterWhaaa? Me? But, but…I drink three cups of coffee a day! And ginger ale! And sweet tea (decaffeinated!), brewed with loving hands with fresh mint from the garden!

“How much water do you drink?”, he asks solemnly.

No sooner than he asks me this, the other half of the Boyer health police comes barreling in from the other room: “She never drinks water! I even filled up a bottle for her!”

Sigh. Just write me a citation and leave me the hell alone.

Then, Ron mentions a health article he had just read on the symptoms of dehydration.

Lethargy? Check.

Fuzzy thinking? Check.

Yikes.

Isn’t it funny how we tend to ignore our loved ones, even with they are the (divine?) messengers of health and well-being?

What’s up with that? Do we not trust their observations and wisdom? After all, they know us better than anyone!

So today, I’m contemplating how I, as a writing-loving writer, can take better care of myself. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Tree Sky 2 Physical:

• Drink more water
• Sit outside, on the grass
• Take deeper, longer breaths
• Cut back on coffee
• Get moving or walking
• Don’t “push through” aches or pains
• Make more food “from scratch”

Mental:

• Take time to just “space out” and daydream
• Read just for fun (no reviewing in mind!)
• Allow thoughts to attach to clouds, then drift by
• Watch old black-and-white movies with Noah
• Any ideas that arise, write them on note cards for later consideration

Emotional:

• Cuddle more with the kitties
• Pursue peace and joy in the moment
• Put on feel-good music of choice
• Take time to “feel” feelings (Aquarius Moon here!)

Spiritual:

• Check in with my values. Am in living in alignment with them?
• Practice loving-kindness meditation
• Talk with The Helpers
• Actively contemplate a Tarot card or sacred object
• Bless others who are brought to mind

Rainbow water In just 24-hours after writing this list, I’ve already referred to it—and used it—twice. It may not stop me from drinking Starbucks (I’m on my second cup of Colombia at this typing) or working marathon hours every time, but at least by mindfully considering this self-care for writers prescription, I can ameliorate some of the drawbacks of being a writing-loving writer and obsessive creative.

What about you, dear reader? What areas of life might yoube neglecting? What steps can you take to increase your own well-being? What self-care tips and tricks can you offer to your fellow writers and obsessive creatives? I'd love to hear your insights in the comments section below!

-- Janet


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

"The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold." -- From The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I am floored at the starred reviews and attention this book is receiving. I've had it for months and, believe me, when I first heard of it, I WANTED it. Badly.

I'm a professional Tarot card reader, so I'm "into" the mystical and magical. Because Tarot cards make an appearance in this book, my interest in The Night Circus was heightened. The idea of a mysterious circus, only held at night, and dueling young magiicians that become lovers...irresistable! Perhaps even in the league of Potter, I surmised.

NOT.

Night Circus small I'm not going to repeat plot points; you can find them elsewhere. What I WILL tell you is why The Night Circus didn't work for me, and why I gave up on it 100 pages into the book.

In an online Wall Street Journal piece about this book, the article begins with the statement that author Erin Morgenstern "has never published so much as a short story before".

I totally believe it. Granted, just because you haven't had a fiction piece published before doesn't mean that you haven't practiced writing for years, nor studied the craft.

But from early on in this book, I thought it read amateurish...like poorly written YA. I HATE that it interjects with the ill-suited POV of telling ME where I supposedly am, e.g. "You walk through the gate..." (something authors are warned about using, and for good reason). Not only does this POV pull you out of the other narratives (that is, another ill-chosen POV--2nd person, "the boy applauds..."), but it's irksome.

Although the young girl's magician father is cruel, opportunistic and abusive (this happens early on, so no spoiler there), I didn't feel very sorry for the girl--largely because the point of view and word choices wedged a gaping void between me and Celia. Same with the other characters, as well.

Some of the prose is stylized and interesting, but the plot is convoluted. By 100 pages we know there's a showdown coming but we don't CARE. (At least, I didn't). Nothing felt at stake here! The author hops about in time, back and forth, further distancing the reader from the characters AND the plot.

No, we don't know why the two adult magicians are making a diabolical "gentlemen's agreement" but, again, WHO CARES. I have no reason to pity Celia, or even like her. Same with Marco.

Several times, I had the thought "Ohhhh, this could be interesting!" But I kept getting disappointed that the plot didn't move forward (too busy flip flopping in different time periods), nor did the characters develop in a way to make them compelling.

Some may say "You owe this author more than 100 pages in order to make a judgment!"

Do I?

You mean, if I slogged through the first 100--hoping, desperately hoping, that it got better because of the potential here--that I should waste my valuable time pushing through the next 300 pages? Why, I ask you?

It is the author's job to make me want to read; if after 100 pages and a good deal of anticipation/expectation I am becoming increasingly irritated and disappointed, I have every right to not only put the book down, but also share why I didn't like it--especially in the face of glowing reviews that I just. Don't. Get.

In deft hands, and with some tweaking, The Night Circus may have had some potential. But with the chosen point-of-views, weakly drawn characters, inexplicable convolutions and a "who gives a damn?" plot, it's one of the worst fiction books I've picked up this year.

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin) 


Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg

Wild mind cover My very first book on writing was Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. It gave me the confidence to write wild and free, without self-judgement or self-consciousness.

I'm thrilled to present the Introduction to the eBook version of Natalie's Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, newly published by Open Road Media. Stay tuned after this excerpt for short video featuring Natalie describing herself, her surroundings and the writing life. Enjoy!

LIFE IS NOT ORDERLY. No matter how we try to make life so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of applesauce. In summer, we work hard to make a tidy garden, bordered by pansies with rows or clumps of columbine, petunias, bleeding hearts. Then we find ourselves longing for the forest, where everything has the appearance of disorder; yet, we feel peaceful there.

What writing practice, like Zen practice, does is bring you back to the natural state of mind, the wilderness of your mind where there are no refined rows of gladiolas. The mind is raw, full of energy, alive and hungry. It does not think in the way we were brought up to think—well-mannered, congenial.

When I finished Writing Down the Bones and people in my workshops read it, I thought I would not have to say anything else. I felt embarrassed to say, “Steve, you ought to be more specific there.” I thought he would retort, “We know. You already told us in chapter eight.” I thought I would be redundant, but reading a book about writing is different from actually getting down and doing writing. I was naïve. I should have remembered that after I read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, I was still afraid to die.

Continue reading "Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg" »


Empress and Emperor in the Garden Tarot Spread

The Empress and Emperor in the Garden Tarot Spread goes with my blog post found here. To get the most out of this spread, I encourage you to read The Empress and the Emperor in the Garden.            

Emperor Empress in Garden Spread 600Below is the horshoe-shaped layout you can use with this spread, if you choose. Of course, this spread can also be used with oracle decks and runes...not just Tarot cards!

Horseshoe 9 Card 400
Do let me know how this spreads work out for you in the comments section, as well as what deck you used (if you're willing to share)!

-- Janet


Brilliant Smart-Ass Responses to Well-Meaning Signs

I discovered this blog post at HappyPlace.com today, and laughed so hard and loud that 1. I almost peed myself 2. My son came downstairs to investigate the source of the ruckus.

Needless to day, I can't wait for my husband to come home so I can show him! Here's one of the signs below. To read them all, visit this link.

God Slayer Smaller 

Brilliant, huh? Make sure you come back here and tell me your favorite sign/s in the comments section of this post! Then, we can laugh all over again...

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin) 


Tarot in Reverse Cover Design Winner by Ana Linares

Check out this awesomely unusual cover submitted by Ana Linares for my upcoming book Tarot in Reverse! She submitted FOUR innovative covers, but we tweaked one of them slightly and came up with the one below.

My editor at Schiffer Books likes it a lot! What do you think, folks? Please weigh in!

Tarot in Reverse 

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin) 


7 Word Tarot - The Major Arcana

Inspired by Geoff Talbot's 7 word challenge on Twitter (describe your perfect boss in 7 words), I wrote up 7 words to describe each of the 22 Major Arcana cards of the Tarot.

Not content with that, I decided to make a video of them...with the corresponding Tarot cards. The Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles Tarot cards are forthcoming, as are the Court Cards. Enjoy!

Thanks, Geoff, for being a make-a-difference creative! You can visit Geoff's awesome blog at SevenSentences.com.

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin) 


Reflections on Little Lord Fauntleroy - The Pictures We Hold

Little lord 5 This afternoon, I watched the 1936 black and white movie Little Lord Fauntleroy with my 12-year-old son. A heartwarming, well-acted film, what struck me most about the storyline is how our vision of a person—what we hold to be true about them, the “picture” in our mind—not only affects how we treat them, but, possibly, what they end up becoming.

In the movie, based on the 1886 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the English Captain Errol dies, leaving his young American wife and their son, Cedric in “genteel poverty” in Brooklyn.

One day, a lawyer named Havisham visits them, saying that Cedric is next in line to become Lord Fauntleroy because his grandfather is Duke of Dorincourt—and he has no living sons to pass on his lineage. The ill-tempered, cold-hearted Duke wants to raise the boy in his English castle, giving him everything he could ever wish for, with one stipulation: the mother, Mrs. Errol, may not live with them in the castle (the grandfather is decidedly anti-American).

Little lord 3 Fortunately, the Duke provides her with a nice house and staff nearby the castle, so at least the son can visit her every day.

The point of this blog post, though, is the dynamics and expectations between the mother, young Cedric and the aristocratic grandfather.

Because Mrs. Errol sees the opportunity to give her son a better life, she agrees to the arrangement. Although disappointed and saddened, she isn’t bitter. Knowing that if her son realizes the stipulation for their move to England (that she not live with them in the castle) he would likely be resentful of his grandfather, the mother doesn’t tell him.

Like his mother, the boy is kind and polite. He takes his gentle disposition with him into the castle, none the wiser as to why he must live apart from his mother (she admonishes him to not ask questions and just trust that he’ll understand some day).

Little lord 4 Thrilled to meet his grandfather, Cedric takes to him right away. Soon after, the lawyer Havisham confides to the Duke that the mother didn’t tell Cedric that it was the grandfather keeping them apart—which understandably surprises the Duke.

Most mothers in that situation, even kind and sensible ones, would be angry that they couldn’t be with their child. But Mrs. Errol has an overreaching vision, understanding that her attitude and opinion will affect her son—and thus, the attitude and opinion of Cedric towards his grandfather.

Choosing to hold a vision of a kindly man with good intentions, not to mention a better future for her son, Mrs. Errol passes on this “picture” to Cedric. Thus, Cedric treats his grandfather with affection.

And it doesn’t take long for the Duke to take to the endearing grandson. The Duke transforms into a kind, playful and benevolent ruler to the town’s residents—largely because of how Cedric treats him, but also because of how Cedric treats others with respect, generosity and warmth. 

Fauntleroy Mom and Son Now what if Mrs. Errol chose to infect her son with vitriol—griping about her selfish father-in-law, complaining that they must be separated, asserting that his prohibition was not only unfair, but also unnecessary…?

What if she called the Duke names, monikers easily thrown about in the throes of emotional distress and, in some ways, accurate: self-centered, divisive, cruel and so on?

Not only would her attitude and judgment have affected her son’s view of his grandfather, but it would have also affected what the Duke ended up becoming: benevolent, fulfilled, joyful, connected and magnanimous.

That was my “takeaway” from the movie Little Lord Fauntleroy: how we choose to see others, in the present moment, and how we choose to speak about them (privately and publicly) may, in fact, affect their evolutionary trajectory.

It’s no secret that if you tell a child that he’s worthless, he’ll likely grow up to feel inadequate. If you tell a girl she’s bad, she’ll grow up to feel defective. These are no-brainers.

But have you considered that how you see, treat and speak about your contemporaries, your fellow adults, may not only affect their actions and choices in life—but also what they become? What a concept! What a responsibility!

Reflection So before you choose to exclude someone from your circle, consider Little Lord Fauntleroy and the gift that his mother gave him.

Before you speak ill of someone, throwing about a convenient label you hope to be propagated because of your own issues, consider how your “vision” may affect him or her…and everyone they end up touching.

Consider that the vision you hold of another may very well be your mirror.

What do you want to become?

What do you wish for your fellow traveler?

Your thoughts, attitude, words and action may hold the answer to these profound questions.

-- Janet Boyer, Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer 2012) and the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer 2013). Featured in Tales of the Revolution: True Stories of People Who Are Poking the Box and Making a Difference (A Domino Project eBook edited by Seth Godin) 


Knut the Polar Bear Passes Away

Knut small I was saddened to hear that Knut, the polar bear that was born in captivity at the Berlin Zoological Gardens, passed away March 19th, 2011.

His story touched the hearts of many: the adorable Knut was rejected by his mother at birth and raised by zookeepers. What was amazing, too, is that Knut was the first polar bear to survive past infancy for more than three decades at the Berlin Zoo.

Examinations showed that Knut drowned after suffering brain inflammation. He was four years old.

RIP, beloved furry one.

December 5, 2006 - March 19, 2011

You can learn more about Knut at Wikipedia and at this ABC report.

-- Janet


New to Tarot? 20 Things You Should Know

Q mark 150 Because I’m a published Tarot author, reviewer, blogger, teacher and reader, I often get emails asking about prevalent superstitions surrounding the cards, as well as questions on the best books, decks, techniques and modes of learning.Here are twenty of my top suggestions for those new to Tarot, those struggling to learn the cards and gain confidence, and those wondering if they’re “doing it all wrong” or confused by all the advice swirling around:

1. Your first deck, or any subsequent decks, does not have to be given to you as a present. That’s just ridiculous (and probably an old control tactic by “those in the know” to keep the cards out of the hands of the masses).

Magician 250 2. Tarot does not conflict with any religion, nor does it advocate any spiritual path. If the Christian-looking images of the Rider-Waite Tarot decks (and its clones) offend your sensibilities, you can view such depictions as symbolic (after all, we all have “moments of judgment” or karma, in case of Judgement, or must confront “spiritual leaders” or traditions represented by the Catholic-looking Hierophant—to use two examples). Alternatively, you can pick a deck that does support your spiritual path (Wicca, Paganism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Elementals, Sufism, Buddhism, Mayan, Druidism, Norse, Native American, etc.)—or a deck without any spiritual connection.

3. There’s no wrong way to read Tarot. I don’t care what anyone tells you, there is no wrong way. You imbue the cards with meaning, which you then absorb for your own edification or for the benefit of those you read for. Yes, there may be archetypal patterns, symbols and motifs that may be mined for extra information, but using those for interpretation doesn’t make a method any more “right” (or wrong) than just “saying what you see”.

Hermit 250 4. Studying esoteric subjects like Astrology, Numerology, Kabbalah, Hermeticism or Crowley’s writings are not necessary to learn, understand and use the Tarot effectively and accurately. They may supplement and enrich your understanding, but they are not required.

5. Each person has different learning styles. What works for someone else, or is touted as the “best way”, may not be suitable for your own style. For example, learning rote keywords never made sense to me, nor did they enhance my way of experiencing the cards. However, making the Tarot “mine” by associating real-world examples and pop culture with the cards helped me make friends with any deck (this approach turned into my BIT Tarot Method, the subject of my book Back in Time Tarot).

Find out your preferred learning style, and approach Tarot from that strength. For example, when talking to someone you may say, “I see what you mean” (Visual learner), “I’m not following you” (Kinesthetic learner), “Let me think about it” (Analytical learner) or “How does that sound?” (Auditory learner). When learning, you may prefer hands-on exercises (Kinesthetic), reading text (Visual) or studying with music, surrounded by noise, or by listening to audio classes or podcasts (Auditory).

Mother Nature 250 6. You are not required to meditate, say a prayer, do a ritual or invoke anyone/anything before doing a Tarot reading. If one of these helps you create a sacred space or center your energy, do it. However, it is not necessary. Some people, consider their life a “living prayer”, so doing something special just isn’t relevant most times.

7. You do not need to store your cards in a special cloth, box or bag. Nor do you need to “cleanse” it with crystals, moonlight, sage or any other accoutrement. Again, you may if want to, but it’s not a requirement and will not affect the cards or its messages.

8. Shuffle the deck, and cut it, any damn way you please. “Shuffle with your non-dominant hand, cut into thirds and do the hokey pokey” is nonsense. Do what you feel is best—hand over hand, poker style or “finger painting”. Know, though, that some shuffling methods are harder on the card stock, which may shorten the life of the deck.

Moon 250 9. Choose a deck with an animated Minor Arcana. That is, for the number cards (Ace-10s), make sure the images show people or animals doing things. This will help you come up with meanings and cement card associations. A deck that just shows “pips” alone—four swords, three cups, ten coins, etc.—will be more difficult for you to pair with relevant associations and meanings.

10. Becoming familiar with the cards takes time. Be patient with yourself and the learning process. Play with your cards every day, even if it’s just looking at them. Soak up information on Tarot (as long as it doesn’t overwhelm you). But whatever you do, do not measure your progress against others nor become discouraged if you don’t “get it” within a few weeks…or months. We’re talking 78 cards here! Cards filled with wisdom and symbols and hidden meanings! Just as you can’t truly know a person within super-short time, it will take awhile to comfortably devise, and remember, what each card means for you.

Sun Final 25011. Tarot is not just for fortunetelling. The cards can be used for creative writing, meditation, visualization, affirmations, conscious creation, dialoguing with others, brainstorming, journaling prompts, talismans, art and so much more.

12. If the idea of learning 78 cards overwhelms you, start with your memories, history, favorite movie, a book, fairytale, songs, news headline, etc.—and work outwards towards the cards. (Click here for an introduction to this technique, known as the BIT Tarot Method).

13. Spreads are not necessary. In fact, they can often be cumbersome, and give you a whole bunch of extraneous stuff that only distracts and confuses. You’d be surprised at how much information you can glean from just one card, or even three, for any given situation.

2 of Cups 250 14. Acquire decks that appeal to you, not what others say are the “best” decks to use. If you love fairies and those types of decks “speak” to you, then by all means get them. Likewise, vampires, angels, flowers, constellations, herbs, gummy bears, dragons, snowmen and so on. As long as there is movement in the images, “stories” that seem to be playing out in the scenes, then pick whatever looks attractive and feels right for you.

15. Consider keeping a journal of your Tarot card associations and impressions. Many Tarot enthusiasts regret not having done so. When you start using one from the ground up, you’ll eventually have a comprehensive and illuminating personal cache of associations that you’ll be able to draw upon and, perhaps, one day share with others new to the cards.

16. Get to know one or two decks intimately before acquiring new decks. Not only will this be easier on your wallet, but you’ll also have a better idea of what kind of decks resonate with you…or will likely expand your experience in a different direction when the time comes for new ones.

Ace of Swords 250 17. Keep your Tarot library small…at first. If you feel you must have a few beginner or intermediate books on hand, I recommend The Back in Time Tarot Book (my first first book); Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Tarot by Mark McElroy; What’s in the Cards for You? by Mark McElroy; 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer and The 2-Hour Tarot Tutor by Wilma Carroll. In all honesty, if you follow the methods and suggestions in these five books, you’ll never need another Tarot book. (Note: I said need, not necessarily want!)

18. Hold off learning and using reversals (upside down Tarot cards) until you have a strong grip on upright associations and meanings. You can always add them to your practice later, should you choose to do so. (My book Tarot in Reverse is the first book to provide extensive key phrases and pop culture anecdotes specifically for reversals, which will aid many trying to understand those cards that fall upside down in a reading).

19. If you come across a Tarot card meaning that makes no sense to you, toss it out. Remember, what matters most is the associations you come up with for the cards—meanings that make sense to you.

20. A brilliant researcher and personality system pioneer once told me “Trust Self first, last and only”.  Not only was this one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever received about life in general, but also for learning the cards. Lack of self-confidence is the biggest obstacle to sticking with the Tarot and using it effectively. Trust that the meanings you create, and the answers you receive, are valuable and appropriate. This confidence will translate into greater self-reliance, accuracy and insight when reading the cards.

The Tarot cards used to illustrate this post are from the Snowland Deck by Janet and Ron Boyer. You can learn more about this deck at SnowlandDeck.com and the official Facebook page here.

-- Janet


The Truth About Mercury Retrograde

Mercury Small Striking fear in the hearts of many, Mercury Retrograde heralds a time of email glitches, power outages, miscommunication, lost paperwork, snags with fine print and so on. More about that, and what Mercury Retrograde means, in bit.

Now, the truth is, I thrive during Mercury Retrograde periods.

Yes, you read right. And surely, I’m not the only one.

I have tons of energy during Mercury Retrograde periods, getting craploads of writing done—especially reviews. And no, it’s not psychological: last week, after completing my second book, Tarot in Reverse, I assumed I’d be crashed and burned from all the work. Even planned to take a week off writing.

Well, what do you know, I had a burst of energy the day after I sent in my manuscript (and this was after five, 15-hour writing days in a row, mind you). I even overheard Noah say to Ron “I thought she was taking a break after her book was done. I saw her writing”—to which Ron replied, “I know. I don’t think she can help it…”

But I was just as surprised as they were!

A few days later, I heard it through the Astrology grapevine that another Mercury Retrograde was approaching…

Aha!, I thought. Maybe that’s why I’m finally catching up on reviewing and making such progress with research for our Snowland Tarot!

So read on for the scoop on Mercury Retrograde, and how you can not only successfully navigate these dreaded periods, but also use them to your advantage…

The term "retrograde" means "backwards". Obviously, no planet actually goes backwards. However, from our perspective here on Earth, all of the planetary bodies (except for the Sun and Moon) appear to move backwards. Imagine that you're driving down the road parallel to a set of railroad tracks. A train is speeding along to your left, and you pass the train. It appears to be going backwards, but what is really happening is that you are going faster.

Communication Mercury is a mental planet and governs all forms of communication, including writing and speaking, as well as methods of communication such as computers, phones, faxes, and the mail system. Yes, it’s true that messages often get lost during this time and misinterpretation abounds. In fact, it's a good idea to check all the fine print in legal documents during this time, as well as back up computer files.

Mercury is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Hermes. Both were considered trickster gods, so couple this mischievous nature with messages and communication and you can guess what may happen! Some examples would be leaving a message on an answering machine, only to have the recipient's child accidentally erase it. Or, addressing a letter to your beloved aunt who lives on the other side of the country…but accidentally writing your own zip code instead of hers!

For those of you who like to talk behind people's backs, a Mercury Retrograde period may find you accidentally emailing the person you're dishing on rather than your best friend who was the intended recipient. Ouch.

Despite the fear that often surrounds Mercury Retrograde periods, it’s possible for us to work with the energy by taking the time to tie up loose ends. Consider Merc Retro as an opportunity for course correction—or for “do overs” for rectifying mistakes, sloppiness, mediocrity, offenses or poor decisions from earlier in the year.

To get the most out of Mercury retrogrades, concentrate on activities beginning with the prefix “re-“. Here are some examples:

Re-do
Re-write
Re-pair
Re-call
Re-examine
Re-new
Re-decorate
Re-schedule
Re-view
Re-organize
Re-negotiate
Re-think
Re-address

If you focus on these types of tasks, slow down, take extra care and release your expectations of perfection or things going “right”, I think you’ll find that you’ll not only survive Mercury Retrograde periods, but also complete or achieve more than you could imagine.

-- Janet