You may have heard people say the 22 trumps were grafted onto a pack of playing cards for gaming purposes. Actually, the 22 trump cards and the four suits were always a set. You need 78 cards to play the game of Trionfi/Tarocchi/Tarot. The 22 trump cards were never sold separately until occultists put them on a spiritual pedestal while scorning the suit cards (minor arcana) as a vulgar fortune-telling tool.
Many contemporary French and Italian tarot books discuss only the trump cards. If they deal with the minor arcana at all, it’s with a few lines for each card in the back of the book, as if the author were embarrassed to be caught talking about them. 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
This series of live webinars is one of the most exciting things to happen in my tarot life since I first learned to read with the TdM over a decade ago. Instead of registering for a conference and paying for transportation and hotel, I sat in my California living room with teachers from Chile, Denmark, Toronto, NYC and Tel Aviv, learning about their cutting-edge techniques for reading with the TdM.
Here are highlights from the five videos, which can be purchased from The Hermit’s Lamp (Link at bottom). Read more
Before 2014 ends, I want to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The New Tarot Deck, as well as the “projective” reading technique, and two men who were at the center of the late 20th-century tarot scene in the San Francisco Bay area.
The counter-culture shock waves that rippled up and down the California coast in the 1960s swept Jack Hurley and John Horler into a three-year residency at Esalen in Big Sur. After falling under Joseph Campbell’s spell, they designed a radically new tarot deck and created a new way of reading the cards. Read more
One of the biggest hurdles for students of the Tarot de Marseilles is learning to read the suit cards fluently without memorizing a bunch of keywords. I’ve come up with some techniques that ensure you get lots of suit cards to practice with. In fact, I enjoy these techniques so much, they’ve become my favorite spreads.
In my reading style, the suits are the meat and potatoes of the reading. They tell you what’s going to happen, how it’s going to feel, and who’s involved. The trump card derived from the sum of the suit cards is the background situation, the underlying tone of the spread, the lesson, or the archetypal energy working behind the scenes. 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
The best way to develop a personal relationship with a deck is to give yourself a short reading every day and record it in a tarot journal.
I like to do my reading first thing in the morning using two or three cards. I jot down a few notes in my journal about the cards’ meaning and how it relates to my life. Then in the evening, I review the spread to see how it actually played out during my day. Sometimes I’m surprised at how well the cards described an incident that happened.
A while back I pulled the 7 of Swords on the day of a dental appointment. I couldn’t help but see the vertical sword as a drill! Read more
My journal is a three-ring binder with a page for each card. Sometimes I wish I’d started my journal on a computer so I could do searches, but my mind works better when I’m holding a pen; and after more than a decade, I’m stuck with my current system. The advantage to organizing your journal by cards rather than chronologically is being able to see clusters of associations around each card. Sometimes a card will give you surprising insights, and sometimes the patterns that emerge over time will validate what you thought the card meant all along. Read more
It’s Spring Equinox this week when the Sun enters Aries! This cardinal fire sign shares the spontaneous, passionate and freedom-loving energy of the Knight and Ace of Rods. These two cards conjure up the image of a hero galloping over the horizon brandishing a blazing torch.
In the Tarot de Marseilles, the image is gentler than in Waite-Smith-style decks. The Knight of Rods has stopped his horse so he can offer a leafy branch or a bouquet to someone standing just beyond the card’s border. In some decks his expression seems a bit flirtatious.
This year, the Knight gets a booster rocket of energy a few days after the Equinox when the New Moon is conjunct Uranus and Mercury, all in the first four degrees of Aries. In Tarot terms this means a pile-up of the Moon, Sun, Magician and Tower cards, presided over by the Knight of Rods and fueled by the Ace. Read more