At the bottom of an old carton, I recently found a file folder stuffed with divinatory meanings (DMs) for the Tarot de Marseille (TdM) pip cards. When I began reading with historic decks about 20 years ago, I bought European TdM books, snapped up English language books when they became available, and downloaded lists of card meanings online. Then I took copious notes and made charts comparing various authors’ meanings.
I pulled the 4 of Swords out of a deck at random and listed the DMs for that card given by the eleven authors in my folder: Read more
I just did my first reading with my new Rosenwald deck. This deck reads like a dream. The fluid lines bring the images to life, and the pips are enough like the TdM so little adjustment is required.
Since my question was “should I or shouldn’t I” do something, I used the Cross Spread. (There’s a link below to a blog post I did a few years ago on the details of this spread). Read more
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