Saturday, January 15, 2022

CARD OF THE WEEKEND: January 15-16, 2022


Ace of Swords

from Oak, Ash & Thorn Tarot

by Stephanie Burrows with art by Adam Oehlers


January 15-16, 2022:  Oak, Ash & Thorn Tarot is a great "talkative" deck for storytellers, especially for those who love shamanic journeys under the guidance of archetypal animal spirits. Today's card--Ace of Swords--veers far away from Rider-Waite-Smith territory and opens up a story of tantalizing mystery.

In the story it will tell you, whose crown has been discarded on those rocks? Whose sword, plunged into the stone, has been left behind? And the raven perched on the sword's hilt? Has this creature of air--Swords represent the element of Air, the mind, and communication as well as conflict--come to witness the outcome of a dramatic event, or does it represent the murderous agent of that event?

By the way, if all of this stirs your imagination, I recommend The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple TV+ and in theaters), a masterpiece directed by Joel Coen and starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. I happened to watch it yesterday, and the echo of it in our Ace of Swords card, randomly drawn today, is quite eerie. 

Shamanic Meditating with Tarot

Gaze at a card's image for a short while, at least a few minutes. You can start with this Ace of Swords or, really, any card that intrigues you. Next, gently close your eyes. Bring the card's image to mind with as many details as you can comfortably remember. Don't strain. 

Don't worry if you can't immediately recall all the details presented in the card's illustration. And please don't worry if the image--now, as you're seeing it in your mind's eye--has changed in any way for you. That's actually a positive sign.

What are you seeing? How is this card talking to you and telling you a story that will have a particular meaning for you?

Any changes or developments in the imagery, and details that especially draw your attention, are very important to note.

I love ravens, and this majestic one--wings stretched out and back--has as much dynamic energy as the stormy sky in the card's background. You can almost feel the flap of its wings and the sting of all that autumnal air around it. The leaves fall in silence.

That's actually a bit unusual, tradition-wise. If you'll remember what I've written about the Aces, there usually isn't that much air aswirl at that point in the progression from the Ace through the Ten of Swords. Aces indicate a new, refreshing little breath of air; at most, a beginning, not the brewing threat of a storm. Another sign, then, of Tarot basics upended by a different Tarot vision and a call to make this new vision work for you and your necessary story.

So...what will it be? What will it be?


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Friday, January 14, 2022

CARD OF THE DAY: January 14, 2022


Two of Swords

from World Spirit Tarot

by Madame Onca O'Leary, Lauren O'Leary, and Jessica Godino


January 14, 2022: My Barbados-born dad was a smart guy--and a pretty open-minded one. He taught me some of the best lessons in my young life. One was this: "You have to learn the rules so you can break them."

I remember this often when I think of the basic ingredients that went into my headfirst dive into writing from childhood. It applies to my work with Tarot, too. I don't claim to know everything--for one thing, I am far from a learned Tarot historian--but I do respect the basic structure of the art, and I do enjoy having its basics and traditions close to hand when needed.

Today's card--Two of Swords--comes from World Spirit Tarot. It's a knockout. Such a clear, strong, dynamic image! Not all of the World Spirit images are great; in fact, a lot are murky, visually and in other ways. But this one really captures a sense of being imperiled by conflicting thoughts and impulses within oneself.

What it might not do, though--with its so specific imagery, unlike, say, a more abstract pip--is speak to your facing an external conflict like a disagreement with a co-worker, an argument with a relative, a tough practical choice that goes against your needs or values. Hey, even a literal fistfight!

That's when it helps to be able to know and remember some basic ideas and details that might not be visually represented in the style of the particular Tarot or oracle card you've drawn.

Basically (no pun), learn as much about the cards as you can in whatever way you can--and there are many. In a future post--perhaps the one for this coming weekend--I'll write about how meditating with any card can enrich your understanding of it.

For today, consider what this card might suggest for the need to get out of your own way. How are your own thoughts, ideas, and ways of communicating holding you back or tripping you up? How can you open up your awareness and stop fighting yourself?


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Thursday, January 13, 2022

CARD OF THE DAY: January 13, 2022


Seven of Chalices

from Ancient Minchiate Etruria,

a reproduction of a 1725 Florentine Minchiate oracle deck

January 13, 2022: Yesterday, after discussing a pair of cards from Neo Tarot, I briefly introduced one pip card from Lo Scarabeo's reproduction of the Ancient Minchiate Etruria (AME), a somewhat Tarot-like but actually non-Tarot oracle deck with 97-cards. Here's another image from the AME--the Seven of Chalices (Seven of Cups).

If Tarot is considered by some potential readers to be way too complex, Minchiate decks take that complexity to the max. But it's a story-filled beauty, and we can have fun and get something out of the getting-to-know-you process.

I've been hoping for an excuse to write about Tarot's Seven of Cups, anyway, as my interpretation for that card diverges from tradition.This is the sort of thing I promise will happen for you as well as you explore card divination more and more.You'll learn new things perhaps unseen before, land on meanings that are unusual and for you alone, blaze new trails in the forest. Spirit will get your attention and gently whisper: "Listen, when this card comes up, it means thus and so."

When these sorts of things happen, it means you're forging your own connection to the symbolism, and it's working with (and on) you. Hooray, you're really, really reading the cards now, not just relying on what you've seen in those Little White Books--or any book! You are your own book!

Anyway, back to Seven of Cups--or Chalices--as the AME would have it.

While more familiar Rider-Waite-Smith imagery suggests a plethora of cravings and distractions, another, more positive thought about the Seven might view it as a pause to consider and appreciate the variety of desires or options one has in a given situation. Or the variety of elements that make up the self that you are, each with its particular energy and purpose. Where does a recognition, acceptance, activation, and even celebration of that fluid multiplicity become the right move?

Looking at the relatively abstract AME pip, you're not...ahem...distracted by Rider-Waite-Smith imagery which shows you a heap of colorful baubles, laurel wreathes, a crouching dragon, and other illusory fantasies spilling enticingly out of golden goblets while a shadowy figure, back turned to the viewer, gazes in apparent longing, confusion, and indecisiveness. Oh, my! Which of these goblets to grab?

In doing a reading, should you wish to revert to traditional interpretations--because they accurately fit the question or situation--you certainly can do so. And this, again, is where being familiar with the basics and keeping them somewhere in your hip pocket to pull out as needed can be so helpful. But you're also free to make of the cards what you will, and read them as you need them. They are a language between you and Spirit.

Sure, it will take a dedicated time--with a combination of the basics and the creative--but this confidence will develop. You'll get to the point when you can feel in your bones when your unique way of looking at things is completely on target.

Trust yourself, trust Spirit, and you will know.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

CARDS OF THE DAY: January 12, 2022



Nine of Pentacles and Eight of Wands

from Neo Tarot

by Jerico Mandybur with art by Daiana Ruiz


January 12, 2022: Pip-pidee-do-dah! Today, two pip cards from Neo Tarot display two different ways of communicating a message.

IX of Pentacles brings us another of artist Daiana Ruiz's graceful human figures. Unlike some Nine of Pentacles images, this figure is moving, not so much smugly resting on their assets but actively enjoying them. A bird in the hand is a nifty symbol of all that is needed being reliably close at hand in the Nine's pleasing environment. It's a card of sufficiency and satisfaction.

VIII of Wands, like the classic Pamela Colman Smith pip on which it is loosely based, avoids human imagery altogether. Instead, it suggests turbulent, heavy weather in motion, an atmosphere ablaze with activity (wands equaling the element of fire in Tarot symbology). I often think of this card as the sign of lots of energy roiling around in either a literal or metaphoric environment--sometimes too much, much too much to handle. Things, thoughts, talk, tasks, challenges, people, what have you.

So, here are two cards again reminding us of the value of the basics to any Tarot study. As a Tarot newbie looking at the Nine, you're likely to figure out (no pun) a story to go with the figure that will work for your reading. Looking at the Eight, however, might prove more daunting. There's less here to go on, visually, and there are Tarot decks with pips that are even trickier to decipher--like the very early European ones and modern ones based on them that might show you merely a neat arrangement of six fancy pentacles or four elaborate cups.

Nine of Pentacles

from Ancient Minchiate Etruria,

a reproduction of a 1725 Florentine Minchiate oracle deck


That's when you need a clear understanding of what each of the suits are about--swords, pentacles, wands, and cups--and a grasp of how numerology can influence Tarot interpretation and storytelling.

One possible story arising from this particular encounter--Nine of Pentacles and Eight of Wands--is of sheltering with everything you need and staying out of the developing stormy weather. You'll know whether that message should be interpreted literally or metaphorically. It works either way.

An alternative story might show a past or current condition--call it Nine of Pentacles-hood, if you will--that is safe, secure, and even stodgy dramatically changing with a sudden wild infusion of new energy/weather! 


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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

CARD OF THE DAY: January 11, 2022

 Ace of Cups

Universal Waite Tarot

Art by Pamela Colman Smith recolored by Mary Hanson-Roberts


January 11, 2022: Tarot's Aces can be viewed, at times, as symbols of gifts from Spirit, right out of the blue--or out of a spirit hand extended from a cloud. Given quietly and with such subtlety that they might be overlooked if you are distracted--as you tend to be--by mundane matters and worries. So small, sometimes, that you can tuck them away in your pocket, or in your subconscious, or in a patch of fertile ground that will prove perfect for their nurturing and future growth. Secreted away where they can't be discovered and stolen from you. But don't forget they're there to be retrieved and activated when the time is right. The key that turns the lock. A dash of the secret ingredient in your great-granny's  recipe, passed down the generations.

From the Universal Waite Tarot, I was gifted the Ace of Cups for you today. Since we're talking a Rider-Waite-Colman image, you'll notice more than a hint of Christian mysticism here--the golden chalice from which springs holy waters of life and to which a white dove descends, bearing a communion host--the Body of Christ--in its bill.

Such a gentle, peaceful card. And yet, the thought that was also gifted to my mind right before I drew this card was about 'breaking the mold" and "upending the order of things." There are Tarot archetypes that speak more directly to those themes.

I will leave it to you radical social justice Christians--and I know you're out there--to take this Ace of Cups in the obvious, quite justifiable direction. But from a different perspective, in which Tarot can speak to one of any or no faith, I want to argue for the power of the element of water as a force that can go from the subtlety of the tiniest teardrop to the mystery, depth, and ferocious power of a wind-whipped ocean.

Don't sleep on the power of the drop. Enough of them over enough time, and they'll wear away stone and create new channels for their movement. They will break the mold. They will upend the order of things.

How does this tiny, heartfelt, powerful gift manifest in your life today? What does it make possible tomorrow?


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Monday, January 10, 2022

CARD OF THE DAY: January 10, 2022


 The Fool

from The Tarot 

by Hoi Polloi, Inc.

January 20, 2022: My first Tarot deck was The Tarot, a brightly-colored Rider-Waite-Smith interpretation created and marketed in 1972 by the game company Hoi Polloi. They called it, simply, The Tarot. With its vibrant, super-clear imagery, it ushered me into a world of symbolism that never ever seemed daunting. I adored everything about it.

"Don't fear!" the Hoi Polloi deck seemed to say, cheerfully. "Tarot really is for you!"

The Hoi Polloi, I see now, is out of print and rare, and one is currently going for $300 on Etsy! I'm sorry I no longer own mine, having long ago passed it along to an eager student.

For more on the history of Hoi Polloi's Tarot,

click here.

When some people tell me they find Tarot an overly complex, intimidating system--or, even, a somewhat frightening one--I understand, but I'm always a bit sad, remembering my time with Hoi Polloi's deck.

Working with Tarot was never something alien to me but a natural outgrowth of my early interest in the occult and psychological and spiritual matters. Connecting the myriad, intricate symbols of Tarot and applying them to people, places, and situations was a stimulating game that challenged my intelligence and creativity. I could not get enough of it. Still can't!

As you can tell from my posts here on hummingwitch, I love many types of decks within and outside of Tarot, and I do believe readers should go with the decks that speak to their personal interests, values, and aesthetics. There are so many from which to choose and from which to learn.


The Fool

from Universal Waite Tarot

Art by Pamela Colman Smith with coloring by Mary Hanson Roberts


Universal Waite Tarot (from Stuart B. Kaplan's U.S. Games Systems with Pamela Colman Smith imagery recolored by Mary Hanson-Roberts) has played the same role for me that Hoi Polloi's Tarot once played. It takes me--and my clients, when I choose to consult it for them--back to useful basics. This imagery can serve as a launching pad for a journey of knowledge and skill development that need never end for any reader or be limited to the world and symbol system of Arthur E. Waite's Golden Dawn.

Our Card of the Day--The Fool--definitely symbolizes going back to basics and beginning a journey. The journey requires courage (even foolhardiness, if you will, in a positive sense) and faith. The Fool's little satchel contains the basics. You don't have to have much to get started. But The Fool's wreath of laurels declares that our Fool--despite being a beginner or, perhaps, because of it--is already a hero. The very first step on the path is, in itself, a victory.

The last time I listened to someone say that Tarot was way, way too complicated to study, I bit my tongue. That person's experience, their choice, is their own; let them speak. Later, I humbly remembered I had chosen to stay away from studying astrology for the very same reason!

But what I thought of saying to this person--and might yet say, if given a chance--is this: Just start small. Even if you notice one thing--one detail that catches your eye, stirs a memory, makes a connection, makes some useful sense--you're on your way.

Try it out, step by step, and let it teach you. Tarot has a way of guiding you and giving you gifts all along the way. It's so worth it. At any level of ability, Tarot can bring you something valuable and so often amazing!

With all the renewed interest in Tarot and other oracle cards, I'm sure you can find or form a wonderful support group of like-minded beginners. Or connect with a Tarot coach--like me!--to support you as you go!


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Saturday, January 8, 2022

CARD OF THE WEEKEND: January 8-9, 2022

The Guardian Angel

from The Tarot of the Orishas

by Zolrak with art by Durkon


January 8-9, 2022: Having been raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I know the relationship with one's official guardian angel is a pretty big deal. As a spiritualist/pagan adult who maintains a relationship with the ancestors, the Mighty Dead, and Spirit within and around, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about a specific guardian angel. But the concept of a one-and-done vigilant pal who knows you well and has got your back is one that can simplify things for many people.

The artist Durkon's Guardian Angel image--from The Tarot of the Orishas, based in Afro-Atlantic traditions--also has Tarot Temperance vibes, introducing ideas of finding refreshment, balance, cooling, and healing. For this weekend, then, the idea might be to devote time to appeal to your "better angels" for counsel and direction when matters seem especially fraught and heated.

What attitude, decision, or action will bring the most balance to a situation? What will foster restoration of harmony and promote healing?

Of course, straight-up protection from harm--from others or, frankly, from one's own self--might be the prayer. Some angels are warrior angels.

May your loving angel or angels guide you appropriately and well this weekend and always!


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