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June 2013

Letter Cubes for Divination

Jim Girouard developed a divinatory method using the 25 letter dice from the game Boggle. "Ask a question, [then gently] throw the dice 5 times and write out the letters in the middle of the page. You'll have 125 letters to make words from. On the bottom of the page write out the anagrammed words as you find them. The letters of the word you're looking for should all be next to each other." Once you have listed all the words you can find, "start writing out the words at the top of the page to form your sentences" (Dice Code Divination, 2012).

Very cool post at Craig Conley's blog!. Read the rest at

-- Janet

Kicking Back

Happy Summer Solstice! (For my readers Down Under, Happy Winter Solstice!)

Either way, I have a pic I think you'll enjoy:

8 of Cups Cropped 500
This is the Snowland Deck's version of the 8 of Cups (8 Emoting). In the Rider-Waite-Smith version of this card, a figure is walking away from eight perfectly good goblets--perhaps signifying leaving behind something that's whole or working just fine (unlike the 6 of Swords, which is leaving behind a difficult situation).

In our version, the snowman is leaving behind any worries or obligations he may have back home. (Who knows? Maybe he's a happy chap that doesn't even have those in his "other life").

Notice there's no buttons in his body? There's a phrase "buttoned up", or "buttoned down", which means conservative, carefully planned, conventional, supervised. Ron chose to eliminate the usual coal buttons altogether, signifying quite the opposite: relaxed,unconventional, unplanned and free to do as he pleases.

But irresponsible he is not. Notice that sunscreen with a SP of 500 on the table?

What cracks me up most about this card is the snowman's stick feet; fortunately, those sandals will fit him perfectly!

Hope you have a great first day of summer--and remember that sunscreen!

-- Janet

Fate vs. Destiny (Or, The Wheel vs. The Chariot)

Fate and Destiny are two different things, in my opinion.

Fate is the state of waiting for things to happen. It puts a person’s life trajectory, happiness and success in the hands of something other than the individual. It’s the backseat of someone else’s vehicle.

Destiny, on the other hand, is active and self-directed. It takes life’s reins by the hand, snaps them with assurance and heads towards purpose.

Carl Jung said, “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate”. William Jennings Bryan noted, “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

In Tarot, I see Fate personified by The Wheel and Destiny by The Chariot.

I’ve come up with some traits I feel are characterized more by a Fate/Wheel outlook—and those reflected by a Chariot/Destiny worldview:

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Makes Excuses
Interprets Failure As Proof of Life’s Unfairness
Stuck in Familiar Loops
Views People as Competition
Envious of the Success of Others
Participates in Gossip and Slander
All or Nothing
Uses Rocks to Throw at People
Drives on Autopilot
Wants Spoonfed
Points Fingers
Spins Wheels
Withholds Praise from Others When They Accomplish Something
I Can’t
I Won’t
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Makes Things Happen
Interprets Failure As An Opportunity to Redefine Success
Tries New Approaches 
Views People as Colleagues
Inspired by the Success of Others
Stays Focused on the Work at Hand
Uses Rocks as Stepping Stones or Building Materials
Drives Manually
Unafraid of Work
Takes Responsibility
Goes Somewhere
Congratulates Others on Their Accomplishments
I Can
I Will



-- Janet

Steampunk Tarot

Steampunk Tarot Cover 400Steampunk, and any genre or subculture, reflects our current struggles and concerns as a culture. The genre of steampunk itself also shares some fundamental characteristics with tarot. In tarot, many of the cards explore the relationship between opposing energies and the desirability of balancing opposites within ourselves. Some cards even hint at serious issues that occur when our lives are not in balance. This search for balance is part of the spiritual quest that the cards reveal.” – From the Steampunk Tarot Manual by Barbara Moore

I bought the Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore and illustrated by Aly Fell when it first came out. Although I found the images attractive, I just didn’t feel drawn to work with it. Like some decks I own, I put it on the shelf, believing that someday I would pick it up again when the time was right.

That time is now.

There is so much to love about the Steampunk Tarot. I especially appreciate the complete lack of nudity in this deck, as well as the respect that it shows to women. There are no bodacious babes with boobs spilling out of tight corsets nor naked platinum blonde bimbos serving only as fantasy objects. In fact, all the Pages and Knights are—drum roll—female! How’s that for turning Tarot on its head?

Steampunk Fell 4Guess who else is portrayed as female? The Chariot, Death and Judgement. Hell yeah!

How refreshing to see strong, competent, independent women working right alongside men as mechanics, pilots, drivers, builders, bartenders and fighters in this steampunk milieu. Don’t get me wrong—women also show up in the form of healers, fortunetellers, lovers, socialites, hostesses—the usual suspects—but the majority of depicted roles are atypical for Tarot, and a welcome update. 

As you’d expect with a steampunk theme, earth tones permeate this deck—sepia, olive, mustard, ecru, etc.—but there are lovely punches of color throughout (blue electric sparks, rich violet fabrics, glowing purple lemniscates and so on). 

In the Steampunk Tarot, the Minor Arcana suits and Court Card designations follow Rider-Waite-Smith designations—Cups, Wands, Swords and Pentacles for the former, with Page, Knight, Queen and King for the former. Featuring the four suit symbols among gears and cogs, the card backing is non-reversible.

The 294-page companion book does a nice job of providing basic Tarot knowledge—deck structure, how to perform a reading, numerology—with each card description a creative narrative describing the image and how it may apply to person situations. These make for a highly enjoyable read, and truly add to a card’s import and possible interpretation. Also, a brief core meaning is provided, taken straight from Moore’s beginner Tarot book.

Moore doesn’t address reversed cards in the 
Steampunk Tarot because she says they complicate things too much for her style of reading. 

Steampunk Fell BlogOne section in the book, however, causes me great concern. On page 22, Moore list some questions would be considered valid questions for a reading by some readers. Among them:

• Is my husband cheating on me?

• Do I have cancer? Will the test come back positive?

• When will I get married?

• Will I ever have a baby?

• Should I marry Susan?

• Why isn’t Mark returning my calls?

• Is the spirit communicating with me through my dreams benevolent or evil? [What an assumption...that evil spirits actually exist!]

She’s absolutely right that these types of questions would only be considered valid by SOME readers. Many readers, like me, would consider these types of calls irresponsible at best and illegal at worst. In fact, Moore doesn’t even discuss ethics in her companion book, not even after the list of eleven dubious questions. She just leaves them there as if they’re good examples of questions to ask Tarot (they’re not). 

Unless a reader is a doctor, it is illegal to read for questions like “Do I have cancer?” not to mention highly irresponsible. Asking if a spouse is cheating or trying to find out information about people not present at the reading is psychic voyeurism. 

Psychological readers interested in the self-empowerment of their clients won’t even answer yes/no questions (they can be easily answered by a coin toss, after all), nor would they answer “should” questions (because they don’t seek to direct a client’s life). Or, the reader would re-word such question. Thus, most of the sample questions Moore provides is only valid for fortuneteller ilk.

Steampunk Fell Blog 2In my opinion, Moore should have included tons of qualifiers in this section, provided (instead) sophisticated questions encouraging self-reliance or (better yet) scrapped this section altogether. 

I would have loved to seen more spreads (card layouts) in the Steampunk Tarot Manual—and given that Moore wrote a book about spread creation, you think this would be doable—but, alas, all we get are the usual 3-card spreads and two other layouts that are actually truncated versions of the Celtic Cross. One addendum spread called “The Difference Engine” provides convoluted machinations like taking the outcome card from a previous spread and putting it in the center, reducing it numerologically, drawing that number of cards to put in four separate piles around the central card and then interpreting the piles as alternate possibilities—confusing, unhelpful and mere mental masturbation. 

The spreads in another Steampunk Tarot (by John and Caitlin Matthews, illustrated by Wil Kinghan) are complex, but extremely insightful and profound—and while I can wish THIS Steampunk Tarot by Moore had those kind of spreads, I understand that Moore isn’t the Matthews…

Minor reservations about the companion book aside, the Steampunk Tarot is an extraordinarily beautiful deck illustrated by Aly Fell. His artistic renderings of Tarot archetypes, personas and steampunk accoutrements are among the best on the market right now. I’m using this deck on a regular basis, and find it to be clear, accurate and chatty. If you’re interested in steampunk mythos, I think you’ll find this a lively, relevant, usable deck.

To see 17 more images from this deck, click here.

Animal Wisdom Tarot

Animal Wisdom Tarot Cover 350Choosing animal spirits to represent the various cards was an adventure in co-creation. Contemplating each card’s essence, I turned inward, opening my intuition and imagination, and invited an animal representative to appear. Some that showed up seemed obvious choices; others were surprising.” – From the companion book to the Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke

 Bison, owl, shark and spider, the world of animal medicine provides a deep, ancient reservoir of both practical and spiritual wisdom. In the past, diverse cultures and tribes have relied on the messages from the animal world—sea dwellers, birds, insects, mammals and amphibians—to guide group decisions and answer personal questions.

When you combine the breadth of animal wisdom with a comprehensive structure that addresses all aspects of life—in this case, the Tarot—a powerful tool emerges.

Enter the Animal Wisdom Tarot, created by Dawn Brunke and illustrated by Ola Liola, published by Cico Books.

 A 78-card deck, the Animal Wisdom Tarot renames all traditional designations to reflect its theme. The Minor Arcana suits are renamed Branches (Wands), Shells (Cups), Fossils (Pentacles) and Feathers (Swords), while the Court Cards are called Seer (Page), Seeker (Knight), Nurturer (Queen) and Guardian (King). The Major Arcana are transformed thusly:

0 Coyote – The Trickster
1 Raven – Messenger of Magic
Animal Tarot Blog2 Cat – Knower of Secrets
3 Cow – Earth Mother
4 Ram – Earth Father
5 Bull – Keeper of Sacred Tradition
6 Honeybee – Heart Awakener
7 Horse – Spirit of Freedom
8 Lion – Ruler of the Open Heart
9 Owl – Keeper of the Light
10 Spider – Sacred Spinner
11 Elephant – Bearer of Justice
12 Bat – Master of Suspension
13 Moth – Omen of Death
14 Swan – Angel of Alchemy
15 Goat – Shadow God of Liberation
16 Serpent – The Quickener
17 Peacock – The Illuminator
18 Rabbit – Moon Dreamer
19 Rooster – Call to Awakening
20 Crocodile and Butterfly – Masters of Discernment
21 Whale – The All-Encompassing

Author Dawn Brunke does a wonderful job of describing Tarot structure, even including certain symbols within the cards to remind readers of numerological and rank considerations. For example, all the 4s in this deck contain four-leaf clovers, all the 7s include rainbows, all the 10s have Xs (X marks the spot!) and all the Seekers contain bridges. However, she notes that all the 2s include a Yin/Yang symbol—but there is none on the 2 of Feathers (Heron).

Also, she mentions that the ancient symbol of the pentagram is featured on all 5s, but an actual pentagram is ONLY on the Five of Branches (Scorpion). The other cards only have stars on the imagery. I don’t mean to be nitpicky  about these omissions, but if you’re going to go through the trouble of trying to embed such symbols—and explain their importance—then they should be present in the cards. Otherwise, you may confuse and frustrate the reader, especially those new to Tarot and/or ancient symbolism.

Animal Tarot 15Borderless cards awash in pretty pastels, the art of the Animal Wisdom Tarot reflects a very loose, almost impressionistic watercolor style, so some animals—for example, the 5 of Feathers (Blue Jay)—are far from anatomically correct. However, these animal denizens appear friendly and knowing, making these cards perfect for kids or those more comfortable with gentle imagery.

The other day, my 14-year-old son and I were sitting at the table. I was going through the Animal Wisdom Tarot deck and he began looking through them, too. Our orange tabby cat, Stewart, was on his lap, giving us curious glances…so I suggested we give Stewart a Tarot reading. (Hey, he’s an animal…why not?)

After thoroughly shuffling the cards, my son picked a card for Stewart. Because the illustrations on this deck don’t really provide much intuitive information on their own, he began reading what the companion book said about the card. He marveled that the card actually reflected what HE was experiencing! “The cards must pick up on the energy of the one selecting the cards!” he exclaimed.

So while Mr. Stewart did not get a Tarot reading that day, my son did.

And then we did a reading for me. Again, it was so accurate that my son said “Oh my gosh, that sounds just LIKE you!” 

A very accurate deck, as you can see.

But, as I said, it’s not an easy deck to read at face value. You’ll likely have to rely on Ms. Brunke’s engaging insights into each animal and its corresponding card to get the most out of a reading. 

Animal Tarot Blog 2At 95-pages, the full-color companion book depicts a reproduction of each card, its traditional Tarot designation, Keynote (Majors), Theme (Minors) or Quality (Courts)—just names for keywords, really—and a brief message. There’s also four spreads: the usual 3-card spread, Celtic Cross and two new fantastic layouts: the 6-card Bear Pause Spread and the 8-card Honeybee Lovers Spread. 

The Bear Pause Spread was so freakin’ insightful, I SO wish Ms. Brunke had included more layouts!

Unfortunately, I stumbled on some typos in the companion book—“to being” on page 17 (which I assume she meant, “to begin”) and the Six of Fossils on page 74 (it’s supposed to be the Seven of Fossils) are just two of them. Again, I don’t mean to be nitpicky, but animal wisdom by itself can be quite overwhelming to beginners, let alone when combined with the complexity of Tarot. Thus, I highly esteem clarity and accuracy in a companion book (although I realize that some mistakes may very well be no fault of the author, but of the editors, proofreaders or publisher). 

The Animal Wisdom Tarot is a wonderful deck for learning about a myriad of fauna. By integrating the deep wisdom of various animals with the structure of Tarot, a doubly powerful tool emerges. I don’t feel this is a deck you can use right out of the box—perhaps if keywords were placed on the cards, you could—but Brunke is enough of an engaging, informative tour guide that most people will remember her associations after one read. 

If you love animals and would like to see how their wisdom meshes with the Tarot—and find the card illustrations appealing—I think you’ll greatly enjoy this deck and book set. 

To see 17 additional card images from this deck, click here

-- Janet

Writer Quirks (and Advice!) from Hugh Howey

I am extremely pleased and honored to have Hugh Howey on my blog today!

Hugh smallerIn case you've been living under a rock, Hugh Howey is the self-publishing sensation and inspiration between the sci-fi book Wool. I'm happy to say that I was one of those readers who bought installments of the Wool series while it was becoming a smash hit. 

And, it was very cool to see Hugh on the cover of the May/June 2013 issue of Writer's Digest magazine, too!

Hugh was kind enough to take some time to answer my nosy questions about his writer quirks (yes, he has them!), as well as advice to his fellow scribes. Take it away, Hugh!

The quirkiest thing I do as a writer is probably the programs I use and my crazy workflow. Two years ago, I started using Pages for my writing, and I fell in love with the all-black screen with just my word count and page number on the bottom. Once I got used to writing like this, I couldn't switch to anything else. I tried Word's fullscreen mode, but it could no longer cut it. I tried Scrivener, and that didn't work. Which leaves me writing in a program the developer has stopped supporting and which exports abysmally into every file format imaginable.

Wool 300In order to get an e-book out of my Pages document, I used to copy and paste the entire thing into notepad to remove the formatting, and then paste it into Word. And then go through and re-italicize every word that needed it. A major pain. I eventually found I could export to an .rtf and have a pro format the e-book for me. I'm sure there are a dozen other solutions, but I never found any that worked.

Is that too geeky and technical a quirk?

I also write in my underwear a lot, but I imagine that's quite normal. The only other weird stuff I do are the things I stick in my rough drafts. I write BOOKMARK anywhere that I leave off and need to come back and write more. This makes it annoying when I use the actual word "bookmark" in a story, and have to sort through these to find my space. I also type XXX anywhere that I forget a proper noun, like a name or place that I'll need to fact-check later. I've sent rough drafts to my wife and mom with these weird notes to myself. They probably just assume I'm off my rocker.

Dust hugh 300The best writing advice I ever got was from the mother half of the Charles Todd writing duo. At the Virginia Festival of the Book, she became very animated and told those of us in the audience to stop dreaming of becoming a writer, stop talking about coming a writer, stop thinking about becoming a writer, and go home and write! It motivated me to go home and write my first novel. I've been writing nonstop ever since.

Thank you so much for spending some of your valuable time with us, Hugh! Best wishes for your continued success--and thanks for being such an inspiration to fellow writers, as well as a hugely entertaining author. 

You can visit Hugh online at his brand-spanking new website,

Dust, Hugh's latest installment in the Silo Saga, descends upon the world August 17, 2013. 

-- Janet 

No Hell (BIT Tarot Snapshot)

Inspired by Jerry DeWitt's new book Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Faith to Atheism, I decided to share my "No Hell" BIT Tarot Snapshot with my blog readers. Excerpt from The Back in Time Tarot courtesy of my publisher, Hampton Roads Publishing.

No hellFrom the time I was a small girl, I felt a connection to the Presence some call God. This connection was unusual, because my family didn’t go to church at the time. Yet, I felt closeness to God, often talking to “him.” I begged my mom to take me to church, which she did, and I eventually acquired an olive green, leather King James Version Bible. I won the Bible in a “sword drill,” a Sunday school game where the teacher would call out a verse in the Bible and the students scrambled to be the first one to find it, then to stand up and read aloud the correct text.

As I devoured the Bible, I couldn’t understand the concept of a supposedly loving God sending anyone to hell. I used to get angry when I read the verse asserting that hell was made for “the devil and his angels,” but not humans; yet humans could end up there regardless if they didn’t ask Jesus to be their savior (or so the preacher said). As I sat fuming in my bedroom, I asked God, “How can this be?! If you’re so powerful, how can it be that you created a place called hell for one intention, but then—oops!—it eventually becomes a place of torment for people?” Every time I asked this question, I “heard” a voice that said, “One day, Janet, you will know.”

This internal argument with God, especially about hell, went on for years, even after I entered Bible college to study to become a minister. After college, I became ordained and copastored a Pentecostal church with my first husband. We were pastoring in a new area about an hour away from where we both grew up. We became friends with the pastors and congregation of a nearby church, sometimes guest teaching for services.

I became close friends with the other church’s assistant pastor and many of the congregation members. After a few years, my friend and his wife went on to be the main pastor of the congregation. My friends were with me through thick and thin, including my first husband’s diagnosis of leukemia, hospitalization, rigorous treatments, relapse, and eventual death. We remained close even after I moved an hour away. After I remarried, my present husband and I traveled an hour one way to attend church to be with our spiritual “family.” They rejoiced with us when I became pregnant and held a lovely baby shower in our honor.

BIT COVER large 3One day, the son-in-law of one of the congregation members came to preach. He was a young itinerant minister with an unusual, but fascinating, teaching style. His teaching seemed to convey wisdom beyond his years, and I eagerly soaked it up. Attending church three times a week since I was a child, as well as mandatory Monday through Friday chapel services at college, intense theology classes, rigorous personal study, and frequent teaching left me with a “already heard it/know it” attitude towards 99 percent of Bible teachers/ministers. That this minister captured my attention so completely was quite a feat at the time.

After church, many of us went over the visiting minister’s in-laws’ house for dinner and conversation. There was lots of laughter and sharing. I ended up asking the minister one of my nosy questions—I can’t even remember what it was, at this point—when he looked at his mother-in-law and said, “Should I tell them?” The minister went on to tell us that he didn’t believe in a literal hell and quickly, but thoroughly, gave us the scriptural, linguistic, and historical reasons why he felt this way. I “heard” a voice in my spirit say, “Now, Janet, you finally have your answer.”

I felt an indescribable sense of peace and clarity. It seemed so simple—and so obvious! I even declared, “Wow, I felt like I went to a spiritual chiropractor!”

However, my friends the co-pastors and the rest of the congregation present at the dinner (other than his in-laws) weren’t so thrilled with this revelation. You see, they had no idea of his “heretical” theology before he guest-preached at the church. Because I had even considered that the minister’s theology might be correct, my friends shunned me. They’re behavior became so bizarre—and my husband and I became so uncomfortable—that we left the church a few weeks after that fateful day. Our friends cut off their relationship with us to the point that the co-pastor—one of my closest friends for years, so close that he was like a brother—forbade his twelve-year-old daughter from contacting me (she tried to call me on her own one day to wish me a happy Mother’s Day).

Decks Used: Universal Waite Tarot and the Lo Scarabeo Tarot

Ace of Swords: I chose this card to represent my childhood anger towards God about upon the unfairness of hell and the suffering of humanity. The single, upright-pointing sword reminds me of “giving the finger,” which I sometimes did in my room behind closed doors towards this ridiculously contradictory deity that I feared and loved.

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The Hierophant: I often see this card as “the system,” especially in terms of religion. I’ve come to associate this card with bearing the power of the “tribe,” which often controls who is in—and out—of its special circle. Those that defy the decrees of the Hierophant (whether within the confines of a church, denomination, club, family, or culture) usually pay the price by becoming an outcast, or even a scapegoat. The moralizing right and wrong stems from his pious decrees (written, spoken, or unspoken).

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The High Priestess: The “gospel of inclusion” was heresy to my former friends and is a somewhat secret doctrine within Christianity. One reason this doctrine of universalism was largely unknown in Pentecostal circles at the time (despite the widespread historical tradition) was the consequences of believing and preaching a gospel that condemned no one. While I tend to see the Hierophant as organized religion, which tends to exclude those it considers to be undesirables, I tend to view the High Priestess as one who wishes to include all and whisper her secrets to those who quiet themselves to hear the still small voice that’s always there.

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Five of Pentacles: My favorite Bible passages to teach as a minister were those dealing with self-righteous Pharisees. In Jesus’ world, this group of religious people made it very difficult for average folks to reach God, and they were the only people Jesus ever slammed in his ministry. Every time I see this card, I think of a song by the Christian band Petra titled “Rose-Colored Stained Glass Windows”, which speaks about the “locked doors” of churches that keep out anyone deemed “unholy” or “tainted,” while the leaders of these churches hoard the “light” for themselves as they refuse to behold and remedy the suffering of others.

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Four of Pentacles: In the Universal Waite deck, this card shows a man clutching a coin to his chest, with a coin under each foot and one on his head. During one of our last services in my former friend’s church, he called up the church board (made up mostly of relatives) and asked them to stand in front of him as a “spiritual barricade.” The board president prayed a very odd and loud prayer about protection for the pastor (from the devil’s wiles or some such). Their unusual theatrics reminded me of the man in this card who holds tightly to his belongings, seemingly fearful that someone may try to steal them from him or possibly destroy that which he worked so hard to obtain and maintain. In the Lo Scarabeo Tarot version of the Four of Pentacles, a man sits smack dab in the middle of a walled fortress, clinging to a coin—much like the congregation members who tried to keep at bay any insidious influences from tarnishing the “treasure” of (their version) of “the truth.”

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The Tower: The bolt from the blue represented by the lightning is an apt symbol of my spiritual chiropractic adjustment. My new perspective destroyed the theological tower built up by clergy, my theological studies, and years of reinforced belief. However, my newfound illumination cost me my reputation and friends as I was forced out of my beloved spiritual community.

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The Hanged Man: I chose this card to represent the complete turnaround of my perspective. While the fallout of my new ideology resulted in the Tower of rejection and upheaval, there was spiritual peace and clarity that defied logic. I felt as if I had been reborn, that the questions I had wrestled with for years were now answered. I no longer had to struggle and strive for answers, because they were coming in stillness and silence. Like the Hanged Man resting upside down with a peaceful look on his face, I was willing to wait in the place of not knowing until understanding came.

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Three of Swords: Having my friend tell me that my mere consideration of a new theology made me a heretic grieved me. But when he continued to shun me and turned everyone in the congregation against me, it cut deeper than most anything I had experienced in my life. The wounding from a faithful friend cuts deep, so the saying goes, and it took me many months to heal from this rejection. I felt as though my heart was ripping out, and the card image of three swords impaling a bright red heart over the backdrop of a gray, rainy sky captures my hurt and bewilderment.

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Death: Although my former spiritual beliefs passed away, I entered a new path that led me to where I am today. There is no way I would have touched a Tarot deck in my old life, let alone consider that there were vibrant spiritual truths in other faiths and traditions. I wouldn’t trade the pain and loneliness caused by the disapproval of the Hierophant, the locked church doors of Five of Pentacles, or the grief of the Three of Swords for the life-affirming vocational and spiritual experiences that have brightened my way on this unexpected journey.

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When I was in college, one of my theology professors taught us about gezerot, a Hebrew word describing the hundreds of laws erected as a “fence” to keep people from getting anywhere close to breaking Torah laws in Judaism. When I think of the religious formality of the Hierophant in the Rider-Waite, I sometimes think of all the “laws” (spoken and unspoken) that ministers and denominations create to keep people in line or to prevent them from breaking accepted rules.

The Ace of Swords reminds me of focused power and cutting ability. While this card can relate to an idea, ideal, or act of communication, I’m reminded of how Christians call the Bible a sword. This doubled-edged sword has been used for centuries to persecute those who believe differently, sometimes to the point of excommunication or even death, as seen in the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Salem Witch Trials. The concept of no hell was such a threat to my former friends that they chose to use their “sword of truth” as an excuse to reject my husband and me and brand us as heretics.

The Five of Pentacles reminded me of my former friends, who would actually help the suffering and the poor, as long as the poor believed like they did. They acted like modern day Pharisees, willing to throw away a deep and abiding friendship based on a mere theological concept. Jesus once called the Pharisees “white washed tombs,” noting that they strived to look perfect on the outside, but their insides—their lack of compassion and kindness—may as well have been a boneyard.

Interestingly, Joan Bunning associates the Four of Pentacles with blocked change and control, which fits perfectly with the attitude of my former friends and church board.

In his book The Spiritual Science of the Stars: A Guide to the Architecture of the Spirit, Pete Stewart makes the powerful observation that although the thunderbolt has been considered a weapon of God by some, that its use by Zeus was actually a tool to reduce the world to its original state. It was a symbol of an utter restructuring of the universe. He notes that Buddhist iconography indicates that the thunderbolt was actually a symbol of indestructible enlightenment—a vajra signifying the shattering of an illusory reality.

In my case, the bolt hitting the Tower came in the form of a peculiar minister bearing a forbidden secret—one that instantly, quietly disintegrated the ivory towers of theology and my shaky “house built on the sand,” as Jesus would say. My eyes were now clear, my understanding finally illuminated in one pivotal instant, and the jumbled puzzle pieces of my relationship with God suddenly assembled into a reasonable picture that finally felt right to me.

The companion booklet to the Jean Noblet Tarot echoes my experience perfectly and says this about the Tower: “The multitude of past experience and memories suddenly rearrange themselves into an orderly, meaningful constellation. It is a dazzling experience of fusion with the divine, appropriately named the House of God.”

Your Turn

  • Is there something about you that makes you feel or seem different from those around you? Have you ever been ridiculed or shunned because of your beliefs, religion, looks, or orientation? While it may be painful, journaling can often be healing and enlightening when we distance ourselves from the situation. In this spirit, choose cards to represent all the components of your experience, including what you learned from it and where you are right now.
  • Do you know of someone who has a secret that could cause them to be humiliated or shunned if someone found out? Select cards to represent the secret, as well as what the person must go through to keep it hidden—and what has happened to them thus far.
  •  Can you think of a public figure who goes against the status quo, often reaping a backlash of controversy or even hatred? Which cards would you pick to represent their actions or ideology, as well as the reactions of those involved?

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.

-- Janet

Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism
BIT Tarot Snapshot - Sint Anna ter Muiden Church
Are Christianity and Tarot Incompatible?
Using Tarot for Affirmations (Snowland Deck Edition)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas BIT Tarot Snapshot

365 Tarot - Daily Insights from the Cards

I'm pleased to report that I've signed another contract with Dodona Books!

365 Cover My 4th Tarot book--and idea I've had for a long time--will be 365 Tarot: Daily Insights from the Cards.

This Tarot book will be much different from my other ones, in that it will be a daily devotional, not instructional. 

What is that?, you might be asking.

Daily devotionals provide bite-sized thoughts for contemplation, inspiration and encouragement. Once the realm of only biblical passages, devotionals have now expanded to topics like Celtic mythology (366 Celt), Taoism (365 Tao), writing craft (A Year of Writing Dangerously, The Writer’s Devotional, etc.), the Dalai Lama (365 Dalai Lama), Creativity (The Artist’s Way Every Day, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, etc.), goddesses (Goddesses for Every Day), self help (A Daily Dose of Sanity, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, etc.) and other themes.

However, one subject for the daily devotional format that has never been attempted by any writer is the Tarot.

Until now. ::curtsies:: 

Below are three sample chapters from 365 Tarot (estimated release date: Fall 2014): 

Assumptions and Paranoia

AssumptionMany Tarotists consider the 9 of Swords the “nightmare” card (which it can be), but I consider it the “assumptions” card.

The untrained mind jumps to conclusions and worst-case scenarios at an alarming rate, setting off a landslide of anxiety, suspicion and paranoia. Convincing, catastrophic images play on a mental loop so realistic, these anticipatory movies cause the same emotional and psychosomatic turmoil as if they were actually happening.

But they’re not.

In the Rider-Waite Smith version of this card, nine horizontal swords crowd the wall above a figure sitting upright in bed. Those swords are not pointing down at the figure in some over-the-top reenactment of Damocles’ sword, so there’s no actual danger.

No, they’re just swords piling upon one another, like a game of Tetris about to “top out”. They represent accumulated fears and anticipatory anxiety.

In the Snowland Tarot, a snowman teen sporting a carrot mohawk loiters under a streetlight while listening to his mp3 player. A paranoid elderly woman—literally “wound tight” (as evidenced by both her hair curlers and the old-fashioned telephone cord coiled around her body)—gasps in horror at his presence, either calling a friend for a gossip session or, worse, the police.

The generation gap begs to be bridged between these two, but her assumption that “different” means “dangerous” or “up to no good” results in the busybody tied up in the knots of her own making.

What are you assuming?

Happy and Burning

SunArguably the most utilized symbol for happiness, a bright yellow sun with reaching rays portends clear skies and big smiles. In late spring and summer, the sun’s heat encourages garden growth, picnics and swimming. During fall and winter, the lowering sun almost appears white, offering a brief respite from iron clouds and the hope for the return of longer days. For those who suffer from the traditional version of SAD (Season Affective Disorder), the sun’s rays (or a close facsimile, like a light box) provides literal joy: without the necessary UV rays, life becomes bleak and melancholy.

Interestingly, there’s a “reverse” SAD condition where sufferers prefer rainy days and cooler temperatures. The sun, a colorful balm for their fellows on the other side of the spectrum, becomes a source of irritation, lethargy and anxiety. Individuals with photosensitivity, often caused by medication, also suffer from the sun’s rays…sometimes, with life-threatening symptoms. And, of course, too much sun can result in sunstroke and sunburn, the latter—with repeat performances—causing skin cancer.

This goes to show how even the most glorious of symbols and celestial bodies elicits a range of effects. Likewise, the Sun card, which often indicate supreme gladness and effervescence, may also hint at “too much of a good thing” when reversed or ill-dignified in a Tarot reading.

How do you handle the heat?

First Fruits

FirstfruitsToday, my son and I shared the very first strawberry of the season straight from our backyard. The luscious red fruit, puckered with tiny green seeds, tasted delicious. Noah exclaimed that it “tasted just like from the grocery store!” which it did…but even better. There’s something magical about the first fruits of a garden. The first ripe blackberry, the first shiny green pepper, the first bumpy cucumber—all promises of a bountiful harvest to come. Even the first cheerful dandelions of spring make me smile, let alone the flowering dogwoods, blooming crabapples, purple hyacinths, white crocuses and screaming yellow daffodils.

Some say the Aces of Tarot are the seeds of potential, the mere suggestion of what may become under the proper circumstances, encouragement and nourishment. I get what they’re saying, but I can’t help but think such invisible possibilities belong to the domain of The Fool, where nothing has yet to be germinated, let alone gestated.

An Ace, though, is a singular something—one fruit, one coin, one step, one brick—that can be eaten, spent, measured and built upon. It has already penetrated the material realm, especially in the earth suit of pentacles. It’s the tiny, plump, pale green tomato which—given proper nutrients, water and sunlight (and absent any disastrous blight or infestation)—promises to grow into a red, juicy, delectable fruit.

What new fruit do you see?

I hope you enjoyed this preview of 365 Tarot! What did you think of it?

If you'd like to become an early fan of my upcoming book, I have a Facebook page here.

-- Janet

Floriography Tarot

Floriography Cover 300"Tarot is fascinating. No matter the deck, each card represents a circumstance, situation, or type of person that can be encountered along the human journey. Our whole experience of life can be reduced, to a degree, to a system of varied archetypes or highly applicable situational portraits. To make the most of each Tarot reading, it’s important to ask how each card meaning can apply to your life and simply allow it to stir up the dust." – Ana Haydee Linares, creator of the Floriography Tarot

Imagine a Tarot deck filled with vintage photographs and designs, where the heads of the Major Arcana figures are replaced with bushes, flowers, plants and trees—and where the Minor Arcana suits happen to be Sunflowers, Birds-of-Paradise, Tulips and Tree Trunks. 

I know such renderings may sound bizarre, even look bizarre, but somehow, it works in the form of the Floriography Tarot

A full color chart accompanies this deck, detailing which flower, plant or tree serves as each Major’s headspace. Such substitutions for actual heads make me want to research the various flora to discover the attributions of each, including historical symbolism, so I can (possibly) figure out why Ms. Linares made these artistic and botanical choices. 

Floriography BlogBut even without human heads, the poses in the Floriography Tarot are suggestive enough to elicit intuitive questions critical for deep and contemplative readings. You may get answers from this deck, but I find the questions it asks far more interesting and challenging.

For example, I’ve always felt that the Rider-Waite-Smith posing for The Star was silly and meaningless at face value. Why would a naked woman bother pouring water in a stream at night, as well as on the bank beside her? But what about a figure—with a Lotus head—stooping down next to a jar, both hands holding a cloth above its opening?

Has the figure just collected life-saving water from a dew-soaked rag, about to wring it into the jug? Or, does the bottle contain some type of disinfectant, salve or medicine that will help an injury? Or is the figure merely about to wash his hands outdoors? And how do these questions connect with what I know of The Star card, including traditional meanings and self-created interpretations?

Floriography Blog 2Or take the 5 of Pentacles. Why is the boy “split”? Is it even the same boy? Does it signify a “split family”…or a split personality? What connections can be made by pondering “separation” in light of this card? How might that line of thought inform RWS imagery or traditional interpretations?

I think the Floriography Tarot is a fantastic deck for probing the psyche, performing wisdom readings and for contemplative journaling. Because of it’s abstract design, however, and lack of Minor Arcana titles (only Roman numerals), unless the imagery and presentation call to you, this may prove a difficult deck for beginners or those wanting clear, direct answers to shallow fortunetelling questions. 

But those who appreciate fresh, surprising twists on Tarot imagery—and love flowers, plants and trees—will no doubt found the Floriography Tarot by Ana Haydee Linares a welcome addition to their collection. 

You can purchase this deck directly from the artist at To see 18 additional images from this deck, click here.

Tarot Illuminati

Illuminati Cover 400When I bought the Tarot Illuminati, I assumed two things: 1. It was about the Illuminati (or, at the very least, secret symbolism through the ages) 2. It was designed under the guidance of the author, Kim Huggens.

Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts. Not only is this deck not about secret societies or symbols, but also it was created before the author came on board for the project. (I found this out via the companion booklet, which states that the “panicked” illustrator needed an author to pen the text in a matter of weeks, so took to Facebook to put out a call to writers). 

 Although author Kim Huggens attempts to perpetuate the aura of “secret symbols” by saying the full-length companion book (Tarot Illuminati Revealed, available separately and only digitally) illuminates the multiple symbols imbedded in each card, the sample chapter on the High Priestess—included at the end of the companion book—reveals merely the usual Rider-Waite-Smith motifs (moon, pillars, scroll, etc.).

Illuminati blogThe 160-page companion book to the Tarot Illuminati is full-color with glossy pages—a lovely presentation (despite spelling errors such as “peek” instead of “peak”), with each card’s text giving a “voice” to its meaning (i.e. a first person narrative), as well as about a dozen Themes and Concepts (key phrases). I enjoyed the fresh take on the cards, a dialogue with the reader, even though the imagery itself is the same old Rider-Waite-Smith posing.

Some of the card images by Erik C. Dunne are stunning and vibrant, but the mishmash of CGI, cartoonish illustration and cut-and-paste collage has a jarring, skewed result. Some of the heads and hands are too small or large for the figures, and the photorealistic backgrounds (or actual photos) with detailed foreground smashes the planes together for a flat effect. (In sophisticated art, the background is more muted or faded, which produces visual depth). Some images are quite pixely (brown horse in The Chariot) and others appear to have design flaws (the vertical line going right down the middle of The Hierophant). 

Illuminati blog 2The Minor Arcana suits are conveyed with four ethnic groups/eras: Wands are Persian, Pentacles are Asian, Swords are Elizabethan England and cups are a “fantasy culture”. Court Cards are Princesses, Princes, Queens and Kings. Huggens attributes Earth, Air, Water and Fire to each respective designation, but some Tarotists like myself attribute Fire to Knights (Princes) and Air to Kings (Kings)—and, really, this information unnecessarily complicates the text, especially for a general companion book.

While the opulent trappings of the cards—including shiny gilt edging and borderless imagery—will no doubt enamor some, the Tarot Illuminati just doesn’t work for me (nor anyone I showed it to). I love the sturdy, magnetic box with the flip top lid and the looks of the slick companion book—Huggens truly has a gift for storytelling and her key phrases are excellent—but these positive elements aren’t enough for me to like, or recommend, the deck itself. I've tried reading with it, and it says nothing to me.

There is truly nothing new here in terms of imagery, but if you like your Rider-Waite-Smith iconography warmed over for the millionth time via cluttered illustrations and bright colors, then you may want to give this deck a try.

To see 18 additional images from this deck, click here.

Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism

I was becoming painfully aware that I didn’t understand the Bible, the bedrock that everything in my life was built upon. I had investigated concepts like eternal punishment but I had never broached the idea that the Bible might contradict itself or promulgate ideas that I didn’t believe in… It was like a tornado had torn down every structure I inherited and built upon. I was not even standing on a slab but on bare dirt.” – From Hope After Faith

Hope largeIn his fascinating spiritual memoir Hope After Faith, ex-pastor Jerry DeWitt (along with co-writer Ethan Brown) shares his tumultuous experience as a devout Pentecostal, hungry to be close to God and see the fires of revival sweep the South, and the crash/burn that resulted from witnessing too many unanswered prayers, ineffective ministrations, clergy hypocrisy, denominational infighting and Biblical contradictions.

From a salvation experience in the lush amphitheater of Jimmy Swaggart’s Family Worship Center in its heyday to tiny, destitute churches of Louisiana, the author details the dizzying heights of frenzied revivals—and the crushing lows of personal rejection (after getting saved, his grandmother asked if he spoke in tongues—and because he didn’t, his experience was negated), extreme poverty, dashed expectations and persistent doctrinal doubts.

Jerry’s countless attempts to survive as a traveling evangelist—including trying to “sell” himself to pastors to get a booking, dealing with legalistic ministers with bizarre beliefs and attempting to reconcile the various doctrinal differences between Pentecostals—is heartbreaking to read. As a former Pentecostal minister myself, so much of Hope After Faith mirrored my own experiences—so while I couldn’t put this memoir down, it stirred up some uncomfortable memories.

The first half of the book focuses on the numerous personalities within various churches and the author’s own family—pastors, congregants, cousins, aunts, former schoolteachers, bosses, evangelists, etc.—and how each affected Jerry’s personal doctrine, self-esteem and desire for fierce devotion to God. There’s so many names, not to mention doctrinal minutia, that some readers may feel overwhelmed with details at first.

But stay with the book.

Once Hope After Faith reaches about the halfway mark, I realized why all this information was necessary: to show that Jerry was, indeed, a kind-hearted, servant of humanity who “searched the scriptures” just as the Bible admonished, sacrificed enormously (as did his longsuffering wife, Kelli) and strove for purity.

Except, when Jerry started to investigate the Bible, itself, instead of swallowing the Pentecostal doctrine du jour—going so far to delve into church history and the work of Joseph Campbell—the rational, sensible answers that surfaced shattered his world.

Jerry realized that he was an atheist.

The last half of Hope After Faith chronicles Jerry’s anxiety and confusion as he continues to feel the magnetic pull of evangelism and desire to minister to humanity’s suffering, yet realizes that that he no longer adheres to supernaturalism (the intervention of God or supreme beings in the affairs of men, especially in the form of healing, prophecy and miracles) nor believes the tenants he once cherished.

It then dawns on the author that ministers are “meaning machines”, required to provide a sense and purpose to suffering humanity. When Jerry experiences a series of deaths—including a preacher’s callous attempts to explain it (a beloved, smart teenage boy was killed in a car accident because, had he lived, he would have been tempted by worldliness and eventually lose his soul)—and advises a man to get surgery (he dies the next day, leaving the author wracked with guilt), the final, tenuous connection to Christianity (and its trappings) evaporates.

But what happens when a Pentecostal minister attends a Freethought Convention, gets his picture snapped with prominent atheist author Richard Dawkins and uploads it to Facebook?

Jerry thought he was actually going to get away with atheism in his hometown of DeRidder, Louisiana—but if you know anything about vengeful, shunning Pentecostals…

If you want to know what happens—and believe me, Hope After Faith is one helluva ride—then you must read this book. It’s one of the most engrossing memoirs I’ve ever read (and I’m very picky). If you’re a believer, it will have you reassessing what it means to be an atheist, especially a humanistic one (silly me, I assumed you had to be offensively pugilistic like Christopher Hitchens, Penn Jillette or Ricky Gervais to be one!).

And yes, if you have an open mind, your faith will be challenged…as it should be. Because as Jerry said at a NOSHA (New Orleans Secular Humanist Convention) banquet in October 2011:

 “Reason and science have done more to ease human suffering in the last two hundred years than all the sermons put together have done in the last two thousand years.”

-- Janet

Symbols in The Empress Tarot Card

In his book The Pictorial Key to Tarot, Arthur Edward Waite says that The Empress is:

“A stately figure, seated, having rich vestments and royal aspect, as of a daughter of heaven and earth. Her diadem is of twelve stars, gathered in a cluster. The symbol of Venus is on the shield which rests near her. A field of corn is ripening in front of her, and beyond there is a fall of water. The scepter which she bears is surmounted by the globe of this world. She is the inferior Garden of Eden, the Earthly Paradise, all that is symbolized by the visible house of man. She is not Regina coeli, but she is still refugium peccatorum, the fruitful mother of thousands.”

UW Smaller7
Universal Waite Tarot
©U.S. Games Systems

Both the High Priestess and Empress wear crowns. Paul Foster Case asserts that is no fundamental difference between the two, “but the High Priestess symbolizes the virgin state of the cosmic subconsciousness, as it is in itself, whereas the Empress typifies the productive, generating activities of the same subconsciousness, after it has been impregnated by seed-ideas originating at the self-conscious level represented by The Magician.” (The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages).

DiademDiadem: The Empress wears a crown of 12 stars. Crowns signify rulership and authority, a “marriage ring” between heaven and earth. The Empress rules over fertility and reproduction; it is under her rule that all manner of flora and fauna proliferate unchecked.

12 Stars: In their book The Secret Language of Tarot, Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone call this crown the “Diadem of the Zodiac”. In his book The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Paul Foster Case notes that the 12 stars not only connects to the zodiac, but also the 12 months in a year and the 12 hours on a clock. On the shape of the stars, he says, “The stars are six-pointed, or hexagrams, to show that she has dominion over the laws of the Macrocosm, or great world.”

RobeWhite Robe with Numerous Fruit: White symbolizes the “blank slate” of purity. For Buddhists, white is associated with the lotus flower, which is a symbol of light, purity and illumination (Signs & Symbols). Some theorize that the fruits on the robe are pomegranates sliced in half, which would connect to Waite’s comment about The Empress being “the fruitful mother of thousands”. As we learned in the High Priestess eBook, in Phrygian myth, castrated Agditis became the goddess Cybele, and his the blood formed the first pomegranate tree. This ruby red fruit is also associated with Persephone, Hades and the Underworld (death, life and rebirth cycle), and thus is central to Eleusian Mysteries honoring Demeter and Persephone as the feminine source and symbolic of the continuity of life. Note that the fruit on the robe of the Empress echoes the glyph for Venus, found on the heart-shaped shield.

ScepterScepter: Scepters are phallic, masculine symbols of authority and sovereign power. However, scepter of The Empress features an orb at the top, which is a feminine symbol (although a sphere sometimes symbolizes Heaven or the spiritual universe). The Empress rules, but with a different energy than the organizing and limiting approach of The Emperor.


CushionsRed Cushions: Red is the color of passion, sensuality and love. Some Tarot enthusiasts connected The Empress with feminine sexuality (unlike the virginal High Priestess). And yet, red is also associated with war, aggression, blood and warning. Cushions imply comfort and sensuality, so it could be argued that red cushions imply the application of “feminine wiles” in the attempt to neutralize or influence powerful males (e.g. Delilah).

 Field of Wheat: The lush field of wheat in the foreground further implies abundance and fruitfulness. Paul Foster Case says of The Empress, “The apparent multiplication of images is really the splitting-up of the seed-ideas into manifold presentations. This is symbolized by the multiplication of the original seed in the wheat-ears at her feet.”

WaterfallWaterfall: Waterfalls are continual, rushing waters symbolizing perpetual refreshment and life-sustaining nourishment. In Buddhist tradition, waterfalls represent “permanent impermanence” (Signs & Symbols).

Venus ShieldHeart-Shaped Shield with Venus Symbol: Hearts symbolize love and romance, while shields offer protection. Venus is the Roman version of the Greek goddess of love, sexuality and beauty, Aphrodite, and the “mirror glyph” is a universal symbol of femaleness. In her fascinating book The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, Barbara Walker writes of Venus: “It also denoted the day sacred to her, Friday (Latin dies veneris), in pagan tradition the day of eating fish—which was thought to be an aphrodisiac food—in anticipation of sexual rites honoring the Goddess. The practice was copied by Christians, who changed its meaning. “Veneration” used to mean the worship of Venus because the Romans regarded her as one of the most sacred of all deities. The Latin word for “grace”, venia, meant the Goddess’ favor.”

Possible Pregnancy: Some theorize that The Empress is pregnant, although we can’t be sure from the image alone. If it’s true, then this connects further to the themes of fecundity and fertility. 

Would you like to know more about The Empress? Get the latest installment in my Tarot Explorations Card-by-Card series, the 4,500+ word The Empress. It includes:

Explorations Empress 400• Phrases and Keywords

• People and Archetypes

• Characters, TV and Movies

• Places, Objects and Actions

• Quotes

• Esoteric Correspondences

• Investigating The Empress with the 7 Clue Method

• 5 Affirmations

• 7 Journaling Questions

• Empress Spread with placements and image (created just for this eBook!)

• Essay on The Empress and Emperor in the Garden

• Bonus Empress and Emperor in the Garden Spread

• Essay on the Mother Archetype

• Light/Shadow Continuum and Reversals

• Link to special Pinterest board featuring images of the Empress from over 35 Tarot decks


Amberstone, Ruth Ann and Wald. The Secret Language of Tarot. San Francisco, CA: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2008.

Case, Paul Foster. The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. New York, New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2006.

Ronnberg, Ami and Kathleen Martin, eds. The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2010.

Waite, Arthur Edward. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. (Public Domain)

Walker, Barbara. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.

Wilkinson, Kathryn, ed. Signs & Symbols. London, England: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2008.

-- Janet

Using Tarot for Affirmations (Snowland Deck Edition)

I'm a huge proponent for the conscious use of Tarot cards for inspiration, contemplation, creative writing, therapy, bridge building, brainstorming and so on. 

Another valuable method for conscious Tarot practice involves using the cards as visual affirmations.

You can use any Tarot or oracle deck that features a range of emotions and situations for this purpose. Simply decide what you'd like to feel or what you'd like to experience more of in your life, go through a Tarot deck (face up), and select the card or cards that embodies this state for you.

I've compiled dozens of visual affirmations for you using our Snowland Deck, but you can transfer most states to the deck and card/s of your choice.

Tarot Affirmations - Snowland Deck Edition

For when you want to feel:

Relaxed - 8 Emoting (8 of Cups)


Fair-Minded - Justice


Trusting - 7 Energy (7 of Wands)


Connected to Your Mother - Nurturer - Emoting (Berchta aka Queen of Cups)


Graceful - Strength


Like You Have Options - 7 Emoting (7 of Cups)


Studious - The Hermit


Indulgent - 9 Emoting (9 of Cups)


Included - 3 Emoting (3 of Cups)


Prepared - 7 Material (7 of Coins)


Conciliatory - 10 Mental (10 of Swords)


Creative - The Magician


In Control - The Commander (Emperor)


Refreshed - Youth - Emoting (The Snowdrop aka Page of Cups)


Heroic - Quester - Material (Balto aka Knight of Coins)


Committed - Commitment (Lovers)


Meticulous - 6 Mental (6 of Swords)


Like You Matter - Calling (Judgement)


Patient - 4 Mental (4 of Swords)


Open-Minded - 9 Mental (9 of Swords)


Abundant - Mother Nature (Empress)


Balanced - Temperance


Generous - 6 Material (6 of Coins) or Director - Material (Ebenezer Scrooge aka King of Coins)

CroppedSmallest18 CroppedSmallest66

Psychic - Oracle (High Priestess) or Nurturer - Energy (Lucia aka Queen of Wands)

CroppedSmallest64 CroppedSmallest59

Thrifty - 4 Material (4 of Coins)


Smart - Teaching


Purposeful - The Train (Chariot)


Victorious - 6 Energy (6 of Wands)


Mysterious - The Moon


Self-Promoting - 3 Energy (3 of Wands)


Wonderment - The Stars


Cooperative - 3 Material (3 of Coins)


Comfortable with Public Speaking - Director - Emoting (Charles Dickens aka King of Wands)


Assertive - 2 Material (2 of Wands)


Intimacy - 2 Emoting (2 of Cups)


Communal - 4 Energy (4 of Wands)


Competitive - 5 Mental (5 of Swords)


Mentally Sharp - Ace Mental (Ace of Swords)


Adventurous - Quester - Mental (S.A. Andree aka Knight of Swords)


Humanitarian - The World and 5 Material (5 of Coins)

World Smallest CroppedSmallest14

Satisfied - 9 Material (9 of Coins)


Artistic - 8 Material (8 of Coins)


Focused - Quester - Mental (Uller aka Knight of Swords)


Productive - Youth - Material (Tomten aka Page of Coins)


Accomplished - Quester - Energy (Sir Hubert Wilkins aka Knight of Wands)


Dedicated - Nurturer - Material (Snowflake Bentley aka Queen of Coins)


Nostalgic or Connected to Ancestors - 6 Emoting (6 of Cups)


Infatuated - Quester - Emoting (The Snowman aka Knight of Cups)


Influential - Sun


Organized - Nurturer - Mental (Hulda aka Queen of Swords)


Accepting of Change - Impermanence (Death)


Unconventional - Inversion (Hanged Man)


Part of a Group - 10 Material (10 of Coins)


Surprised - 2 Mental (2 of Swords)


Stealthy - 7 Mental (7 of Swords)


Original - Ace Energy (Ace of Wands)


Connected to Family - 10 Emoting (10 of Cups)


Resilient - 9 Energy (9 of Wands)


Receptive - Ace Material (Ace of Coins)


Helpful - 10 Energy (10 of Wands)


What about your, dear reader? What Tarot cards would you use for visual affirmations--and for what purpose?

Do you have our Snowland Deck yet (art by my talented husband, Ron)? If not, you can order the cards (which comes with a snow-themed bag with your choice of 3 fabrics, Snowland Deck Companion book and full access to the secret Snowland Explorers Blog) at To see the card images in larger format, visit our Facebook pan page (over 2,300 strong!) at this link.

-- Janet

Cucumber Mojitos

Ron made the most amazing mojitos last night...with cucumbers! Behold, a recipe for Cucumber Mojitos:

Cucumber Mojito smaller
Photo © Janet Boyer
Cucumber Mojitos

4 Cups Water

2 Large Cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped

30 Mint Leaves

3/4 Cups Agave Syrup

1/2 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

2 Cups Sierra Mist Soda

1. Combine water, cucumber, mint, agave and lime juice in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Strain through a sieve; discard solids.

2. Refrigerate cucumber mixture. Before serving, stir well. Serve over ice with soda (50/50). Makes 12 mocktails.


* You can add rum to make alcoholic cocktails

* You can substitute honey or natural sugar for agave syrup

* You can add soda to the cucumber mixture if you're serving a crowd immediately

* Sparkling water, Sprite or other type of lemon-lime sode can be substituted for Sierra Mist

* You can use prepared lime juice (but I don't recommend it)

* We used the mint growing right out of our garden--you can use more, if you'd like


-- Janet

Permutations of the Magician Archetype

A powerful and enigmatic archetype, The Magician is arguably one of the most troublesome cards of the Tarot, perhaps because it embodies several powerful patterns that can be, at times, conflicting.

One of the main differences between the Light and Shadow permutations of The Magician is motive: gain for others versus gain for self. After all, every permutation of this archetype involves some form of skilled manipulation.

Let’s examine a few of the powerful archetypal permutations of The Magician and some examples of each pattern:

Shaman 250Shaman - This is the powerful healer of the tribe, one often seasoned in animal communication, herbology and ethnobotany (the use of plants in hallucinogenic rites, vision quests and soul retrieval). In the higher expression of the Shaman, we have noble medicine people and wise, sporadic advisors such as Rafiki in The Lion King or Mama Odie in The Princess and the Frog. In the lower expression, we have the proverbial "snake oil salesman" who feigns the ability to cure, reverse curses or see the future (for example Dr. Marvel/The Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, Dr. Facilier/Shadow Man in The Princess and the Frog and Dr. Terminus from Pete's Dragon.)

Mercury 250Communicator - This is the silver-tongued individual that influences and inspires the masses—the great orators of history known for sagacity, insight, communication skills and, sometimes, diplomatic wizardry. Mercury, the god of communication, governs The Magician (which is why the term "Mercury retrograde" often strikes fear in the heart of those who believe in astrology because they dread the snafus that may assault conversations, contracts and electronic gadgets during these times.) On the other hand, this permutation can also be the "spin doctor", copywriter or advertising specialist that distorts or repackages reality in order to manipulate or influence readers, viewers and consumers.

In many ways, Jesus embodies The Magician archetype, especially with his healing ability, transformative touch and the power to sway/inspire/encourage crowds with his sermons/parables. However, what he was to "become" through religious tradition via modern Pharisees and institutions falls under the aegis of Trump V, The Hierophant. "Magicians" of this caliber change perspectives, which often results in the literal shifting and healing of ingrained belief systems and cultural attitudes.

Jester 400Jester/Trickster/Provacateur - While some say that The Fool embodies the Jester archetype, I feel that this is more the domain of The Magician for one reason: The Fool doesn't yet know enough to manipulate or influence others, but The Magician does. In fact, he has all four domains/elements/tools at his disposal to do so (symbolized by the four tools on his table--the Coin/Earth, the Cup/Water, the Sword/Air and the Wand/Fire). Thus, he can be a great force for good--or for ill. The Jester was the only one in the King's court that could not only mock the King and get away with it, but also speak harsh truths about politics and politicians without getting killed; the modern version of this archetype is the satirist (e.g. Jon Stewart, Sacha Baron-Cohen in roles like Borat and Bruno, Steven Colbert, etc.) The Jester differs from the Clown archetype (which is within the domain of The Fool, in my opinion) precisely because of the manipulation factor: Clowns exist to entertain or distract, but Magician provocateurs have a “change” agenda.

Tricksters were often called "Trickster gods" or “messenger gods”; several examples that come to mind are Loki, Blue Jay, Reynard the Fox, Eshu, Coyote—even Hermes (Hermes is the Greek version of Mercury; thus, it's connected to communication, too). The Trickster mythos and archetype is utterly fascinating. Tricksters bring chaos, sow discord and disrupt harmony. However, they are not "evil" (as in the myth of Satan from Christianity). In fact, many traditions consider the Trickster a divine messenger; by disrupting order--"shaking things up", as it were--veils were pierced and curtains lifted, allowing truth to be revealed.

Blue jay 250In fact, it's said that the colors of the blue jay symbolize this connection between the Divine and humanity through trickster behavior: blue for the heavens/divinity, black for the earth/humanity and white for the wisdom that joins them via the lessons of the Trickster. By clearing obstacles and opening up channels of communication, Trickster energy shifts paradigms, which births illumination, enlightenment and even healing (some Trickster-gods were also healers). In fact, the Caduceus (winged serpent on a wand held by Hermes) symbolizes healing and medicine to this day. Trickster energy also brings chaos to order, provoking new cycles of change (whether individuals want it or not!).

Mindfreak smallWizard/Illusionist
- The term "wiz kid" or "wizard" denotes someone who is adept in a particular trade, skill or predisposition. Savants are "wizzes" at math, music or other disciplines. Magicians have the ability to juggle and pull off multiple feats with aplomb. Metaphorically, those who can multi-task with ease and meld various interests/ideas into something new (like inventors, entrepreneurs, writers and artists) are Magicians. "Renaissance Souls" and polymaths like Da Vinci would be this type of Magician, as would Steve Jobs (Apple) and Jeff Bezos ( Pixar, the movie company that produced the first CGI movie in 1995 (Toy Story), embodies the Magician archetype, as well, both in terms of skill and the result.  An offshoot of the Wizard is the Illusionist, who pretends to perform the miraculous, but is in fact "fooling" the audience with sleight of hand and "smoke and mirrors"—with the audience’s consent (and delight). In some manifestations, such as illusionist extraordinaire Criss Angel's feats, the results are awe-inspiring and mind-boggling (but nevertheless able to be explained).

Emp clothes smallSome Illusionists merely use the power of their words and peer pressure to perform their trickery; for example, in the fairytale The Emperor's New Clothes, the shyster tailors pretend to weave clothing of the finest fabric, declaring that only stupid people cannot see their fine work. Of course, no one wants to appear "stupid", so they deny what they see (nothing) and agree that the emperor’s garb is the finest they’ve ever seen. It takes a clear-eyed child (The Fool) to speak the truth ("the emperor has no clothes!"), much to the horror of everyone. The Fool has not yet been sullied with peer pressure, societal expectations or ingrained mores, and is thus able to evaporate the gossamer lies of the shadow Magician.

As you can see, the Magician archetype is rich in lore and pop culture relevancy! So the next time you encounter this pattern in one of its permutations, consider the manner, the motive and the expression in order to mine this multifaceted archetype for its powerful lessons and insights.  

-- Janet

"So Go On Thy Wintry Way"

This vintage illustration depicts an errand of hope and cheer.  The accompanying poem reads:

What if the skies be drear?
What if the wind be chill?
There's a spirit reigning everywhere
That sings, "On earth, good-will."

So go on they wintry way
With an inward hymn of mirth,
For thy errand brings hope and cheer to-day
To a sad and hopeless hearth.

From Arthur's Home Magazine, 1885.