Since the Ace announces the energy of its suit, let’s look at some Aces of Cups to see if they conjure up romantic associations.
In the image above, the 1830 Vergnano ace is a big bowl of flowers. The Avondo Brothers 1880 knock-off of the soprafino pattern (published by Lo Scarabeo as the Ancient Italian Tarot) has a cherub popping out of the window in a fancy urn. Green dolphins, sacred to Aphrodite, play around the base. Claude Burdel’s 1751 ace (from the Universal Tarot de Marseille by Lo Scarabeo) is energetic and cheerful, with a phoenix rising from a fire under a bright sun. To my mind, all three cards conjure up love, romance and friendship. Read more
The Pierre Madenié deck (1709) and The Tales of Mother Goose (1696) emerged from the same cultural milieu at nearly the same time. A small archive of letters has recently come to light showing that Cinderella, Bluebeard and their friends frequented a fortuneteller who read cards with the Madenié deck. Here’s the transcript of a reading that was delivered by post to a rather cautious prince.
The Question: While on a hunting trip, I discovered an ancient, crumbling castle in a forest at the edge of my father’s kingdom. It was so overgrown with brambles and brush I couldn’t get near it. Some villagers said the castle is haunted by ghosts. Others told me that witches hold coven meetings in the grand ballroom on the full moon. Then there were stories about ogres who drag children into the castle to eat them. Read more
I woke up this morning feeling happy and positive; so I asked the cards how I could keep the feeling going all day. I got the unlikely duo of the Page of Swords and Ace of Cups.
Of course, the Ace of Cups is a very good thing. It promises creativity, inspiration, loving encounters — maybe even unicorns and rainbows! You never know.
But the Page seems cynical and skeptical. He’s set up a barrier with that upright sword tilted slightly toward his head and blocking the ace. He’s a wise-guy who’s too smart to be taken in by promises from a fat little cherub popping out of an over-decorated urn. In fact, the Page has a short dagger in his belt, ready to stick any cherub, or unicorn, that gets too close. Read more
Yesterday morning, before pulling my two cards for the day, I asked myself how I wanted to feel during the day. I have several writing projects stacked up, so I wanted to feel focused and productive. I asked the cards what I could do to make it a productive day, and pulled the King of Cups and the Seven of Batons from the Ancient Italian deck.
This combo isn’t very compatible. The King is planted solidly in his chair, grasping a very large open goblet that shows his enormous capacity for imbibing whatever life has to offer. Those frothy feathers and red garters don’t bode well for the kind of focus and dedication that the seven batons require. Read more
This exciting book by Camelia Elias is a new addition to our small supply of Tarot de Marseille books in English.
We hit the ground running on the first page with an actual reading done in a café. This sets the tone for the book, where every card, and every teaching, is accompanied by a three-card spread illustrated in color.
The essence of Elias’s technique is to tell a concise story with three cards, staying close to the reality of the images. When she amplifies her card meanings with another system, she goes to folk traditions in cartomancy, which she calls the “cunning folk” method. Read more
The author of several poetry books based on historic tarot decks now offers us poetic meditations on all 78 cards of the Tarot de Marseille.
Each card is given a double-page spread. On the left-hand page we see a black-and-white reproduction of the 1701 Dodal deck restored by Jean-Claude Flornoy. On the opposite page there’s a very compressed and evocative meditation on the card. Read more
The other day, I read the booklet that comes with the Tarot de Marseille published in France by Heron hoping to find some traditional card interpretations. Instead, I found myself in a topsy-turvy world where the Star card means death, the Death card indicates marriage, and Temperance can predict disasters of a sexual or marital nature. (Temperance with the Ace of Batons means an illegitimate child, and reversed Temperance means a man will kidnap a married woman.)
The card meanings are evidently derived from a traditional cartomancy system where fortune tellers aren’t squeamish about predicting death (Star and Ace of Cups). According to the LWB, if the Five of Swords with reversed Emperor turns up in your spread, a relative will drown. The Star next to the Ace of Batons means the death of a child, and the Star and World together predict the death of a beloved pet. Read more
Cleo from 5 to 7, The French New Wave film directed by Agnes Varda in 1962, begins with a lengthy card reading scene that’s a lesson in what not to do when you see bad news in the cards.
The film follows a woman as she wanders around Paris for two hours trying to distract herself while waiting for the results of a biopsy. Cleo starts her sojourn by visiting a middle-aged woman to get her cards read. The reader spreads out nine cards from Le Grand Jeu de Mlle Lenormand, three each for past, present and future. It’s nothing but happy news until she gets to the last few cards. As the message gets darker, the reader gets more flustered and distressed and is obviously not saying everything she sees; which, of course, makes Cleo suspect the worst. Read more
My favorite card-of-the-day draw involves shuffling the trumps and suit cards separately, then pulling a card at random from each stack. I like to flip the two cards over simultaneously so they hit my retina at the same time, setting up resonance between them.
Suit cards describe the details and address specifics. The trumps are like a color filter or a pinch of herbs – they bring out certain qualities of the suit card without altering its core meaning. Here’s an example from my tarot journal of several entries for one suit card in combination with different trumps. Read more
I firmly believe that intuitive tarot reading should rest on a solid foundation of study. Read books, take notes, visit forums, compare decks, take more notes. Then let it all sink into your subconscious mind. Trust that during your readings you’ll know what to say without having to rummage through your mental file cabinet for memorized keywords.
Brigit at Biddytarot.com recently posted a brilliant tool on her blog at http://www.biddytarot.com/blog/tarot-card-profiles that will help you study your cards in depth. In her blog post “Rapidly Deepen Your Tarot Knowledge with Tarot Card Profiles”, she provides a form to fill out that will help you think about each card from all angles. Print out 78 copies of the PDF file she provides, put them in a notebook, and you’ll have a personalized book of card meanings to go with your deck.
Here’s how I answered the questions on Biddy’s form for the Two of Batons from my favorite deck, the Avondo Brothers version of the Tarot de Marseilles.