Lately I’ve been doing readings with just two cards. I don’t read the cards one-two, past-present, cause-effect. I read the space between them: the field of energy, the tension, the interaction. I ask what must happen for one card to turn into the other, or for one card to reach out to the other and transform it?
A few weeks ago I asked Lo Scarabeo’s Ancient Italian deck what I can do to kick off a summer of creative and artistic experimentation. I got the Star and Nine of Cups: waters of heavenly inspiration cascading through the levels of cups. But the Nine of Cups has a sterile, conformist feel, like rows of soldiers or synchronized dancers. Something stale and dry is being watered. The cards resemble the fountain in my living room where water cascades down several vertical levels of copper flowers. 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
Here’s a technique for getting a quick answer to a question. It’s especially useful if you want to know whether the universe, or Dame Fortune, supports your plans.
Designate a significator for the question. Keep it in mind, but don’t pull it out of the deck. Shuffle the deck while focusing on your question. Look through the deck for the significator and take it out along with the cards on either side of it. Line the cards up and look at how well the flanking cards support the significator. Read more
Recently, I’ve been rotating through the four TdM books listed below, reading about each trump card in turn. I’m struck by the individual voice and unique viewpoint in each book. It’s like holding a gem up to the light and turning it back and forth to appreciate each facet individually.
Ben-Dov supplies meat-and-potatoes card meanings and practical advice for readers. J-M David gives us a foundation in art history and 15th century iconography interspersed with practical exercises. Jodorowsky is an original who shares his deep understanding of the cards while presenting the deck as an organic structure. Elias invites us to look over her shoulder as she interprets spreads for her clients. Read more
Most of the questions we put to Tarot have the same basic structure: Subject-Object-Verb; or Querant-Question-Bridge. There’s the person asking the question, what the question is about, and what’s going on between them. We can use these three components as spread positions for a made-to-order layout that works well with the Tarot de Marseille.
Will I win the lottery next week? There’s me, the lottery, and what’s possible between us. Read more
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
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
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