Tales From the Tarot Table: A Fresh Perspective

Secret QWandsI took my own advice about gaining a new perspective, and am happy to report that the tide has definitely shifted.

It’s hard to learn to think differently ’cause you can only think what you think until something comes in to help you think differently. And that “coming in” doesn’t happen easily, especially since the mind is usually about as flexible as a jailhouse door.

But with the help of a friend’s insightful Tarot reading and what I suspect is a simple matter of timing (and perhaps an auspicious alignment of stars and planets), my jailhouse doors are beginning to rattle open.

Shake-ups can be a good thing. Along with the inception of a personal organization business called She’s NEAT,” I’ve decided to more-regularly use those Tarot decks I own but which are rarely brought out for professional readings.

Different Tarot authors/artists interpret the 78 pieces of the Tarot through different lenses, and so the use of a variety of Tarot decks can not only bend the iron bars of the mind, but can offer up some pretty interesting visual cues as well. This is the topic of today’s Tale From The Tarot Table.

NOTE: I’ve produced a YouTube video  (“Love the One You’re With”) demonstrating the importance of paying attention to the Tarot deck in front of you, and of not making the erroneous assumption that card meanings are equivalent across the board.

SecretTarotStrengthSecret Tarot Queen of Swords Tarot cardFor the specific client in question I chose the “Secret Tarot,” published in 2004 by Lo Scarabeo, a kind of European U.S. Games.

My friends and I have perversely nicknamed this deck “The Sex Deck” because many of the images look like they belong on truckers’ mud flaps rather than on esoteric cards displaying the wisdom of the ages (see the Strength card at left). At the same time, the Secret Tarot’s Queen of Swords (right) made it onto my Pinterest board as “The Best Tarot Card of Its Kind.”

For the particular client for whom the Secret Tarot was chosen, there were several unique applications that spoke to us during our session:

1. The Secret Tarot’s Queen of Wands (shown above top) is languidly seated, and depicted in muted colors. This interpretation is a stark contrast to most other Tarot decks where the Queen of Wands is either sitting upright or standing, is draped in brightly colored fabric , and emits a guns-a-blazin’ attitude.  The Secret Tarot’s more-reserved posture here clearly displays the more-effective manner by which to wield personal power at the present time.

Secret Tarot 10Wands2. The 10 of Wands, rather than feeling oppressive, tired, and at the end of one’s rope, shows us another quietly confident woman, this one poised at a gateway that seems to be creaking open. Stately and regal, this 10 of Wands again conveys the notion that relentless self-possession will win the day. Rather than a traditional interpretation of “exhaustion,” this card offers “release” and “possibilities.”

3. The highlight of our session was the appearance of the 6 of Swords. I sincerely doubt that any other version of this card could have been more evocative of our client’s situation. 

About the only thing the Secret Tarot’s 6 of Swords has in common with most other cards at this position in the Tarot is that there is a man and a woman in a boat, a boat that appears to be moving from one shore to another. Most all other details of this card differ from the crowd and were specifically relevant to our querent’s life:Secret 6Swords

While they are in the same boat, the man and the woman in this boat are facing in different directions. In the background we see a grand house, which we are left to assume is their home. The man sits, facing the rear of the boat (i.e. “the past”) and the woman stands at the helm like the Nike of Samothrace, facing the right side of the card (“the future”). Yes, there are six swords in the card, but three of them aim toward the left and three aim toward the right. Unspoken conflict and cross purposes are spelled out at every turn.

A more apt description of this woman’s marriage could not have been spoken.

If we had used a different Tarot deck for the session, we would not have gotten one quarter of the insight and information that came from these few cards.

So remember: At least when it comes to the Tarot, Love The One You’re With!

All card images from the Secret Tarot (c) Lo Scarabeo

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.com

Jeanne Fiorini is available to use whatever Tarot deck you’d like to help you gain clarity, insight, and confidence about what matters most in your life. Visit the TarotWorks site for the holiday gift guide where you can find Gift Certificates and Unique Tarot Goods for your holiday giving.


Tales From The Table

As promised in an earlier post, when interesting things happen at the Tarot table you’ll be sure to hear about it. Here’s a remarkable set of cards from a reading that occurred this past weekend at a metaphysical fair.

As soon as these particular cards hit the table I had to ask the client to give me a moment to jot down a few thoughts. Sometimes there’s so much information immediately available that you have to sit back and catch your breath.

Our querent had prefaced her session by saying, “I’m really in flux right now.” Her facial expression and body language said it better than did her words. To keep our options open and to get as wide a view on things as possible, we asked the general question:
“What’s really going on [i.e what are the energy patterns currently in play] in my life right now?”  We drew three cards.

8 of Wands         9  of Swords        Fool

The first thought that flew into my head was, “She’s the meat in a Universe sandwich.”

Who/whatever it is that creates such thoughts to form in one’s mind sure has an odd sense of humor.

Let’s the begin with “the bread,” the bookends, the beginning and the end of this reading. Both the 8 of Wands and The Fool are ruled by Uranus, the planet which aids and abets the individual as it transcends the limits/boundaries of cultural expectations and social programming. Both these cards carry the swift energy of change along an unfamiliar route. Scary perhaps, but certainly not limited or restricted in any way, shape, or form.

As for “the meat,” the one caught in the middle, the thing that is being carried away by this current of change: 9 of Swords. The frantic, overwhelmed, ego-centric thinking mind that cannot figure this out even though, it seems, life itself depends on such clarity.

Whereas the Uranian cards are rushing toward the unseen future, the personality is playing catch-up by trying to decipher the process. The 8 of Wands and The Fool are moving to transcend the personality, while the personality is grasping for any and all rational thoughts, no matter how tenuous, to serve as a lifeline. It aint’ working.

Since the non-personal forces are currently having their way with her, the only effective query we can address is, “What can help me ride the wave? What can help me relax into this process? What can guide me through this tunnel which will eventually open into an unknown landscape?”

The querent draws the 10 of cups.

This card shows there to be a strong emotional network around her, that she can count on kind and loving support from family and friends. “I’ve had trouble accessing this because I’ve been so anxious about the state of my life,” she admits. The Tarot equivalent of such a statement is the 10 of cups crossed by (that is to say, “sat on”) by the 9 of Swords.

We need to find a way to reverse these two positions so that the 10 of Cups  occludes the 9 of Swords, and not the other way around as it has been; that situation has created a no-win situation for this querent.

We can’t pretend that the querent can move through this phase without anxiety, without stress, or without slamming into walls of self-doubt and fear. But these worries don’t have to run the show. “Let others support you. Let yourself have some fun every once in a while. Remember that people care about you.” This is the message of the 10 of Cups.

Somewhere in another dimension, or in a galaxy far, far away, beings are observing all this and saying, “Silly humans. They make it all so hard on themselves.”

Jeanne Fiorini is a silly human trying to make sense of it all. Jeanne is an established Tarot reader, teacher, and author with over 20 year’s experience with the Tarot and the symbols of archetypal psychology. Visit the TarotWorks home site to learn more about Jeanne and the Tarot Work.

Card images from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, (c) US Games Systems, Inc.

King For A Day

Turn-about is fair play, right?

Although we need to address them by their title and use the proper pronouns when speaking of them, the Tarot’s Kings are not about gender, but attitude. And no matter what your gender, you’ve got to admit that it’s good to be the King.

As we saw with the Tarot’s Queens, it’s also true that sometimes the Kings represent us and the energy we’re holding, sometimes they represent other people and their modus operandi, and sometimes they represent non-actualized aspects which are calling out for attention.

Given all the variables, it helps to have a really good handle on the particular vibe that each one of the Personality Cards carries. Here’s a little synopsis for each of the Kings, and then the challenge for you!

King of Wands:
The Leader
He’s the first guy to leap off the cliff, to run toward a challenge instead of away from it, to meet obstacles with boundless courage and a thumbed nose. Daring, confident, driven, and visionary, this King is creative about life and all of its possibilities; no innovative thought or concept is beyond his capacity to envision or embody. But like the bright sun burning too hotly, his arrogance, abrasiveness, and reckless abandon can, at times, make him dangerous to be around.

King of Pentacles: The Businessman
This guy knows how to work the physical plane. He understands the mechanics of business, how to make money, how things fit together to create the finely tuned engine of success. Serious, traditionally minded, and ambitious, he does not pass up an opportunity to build something that will be here long after he’s gone. Not a big fan of spontaneity or a radical new idea, but if you’re looking for tried and true knowledge about how to build a building, a business, or a career in the “real world,” he’s your man.

King of Swords: The Enforcer
This is the embodiment of the attorney, the accountant, and the police officer. This King lives his life through – and finds his comfort in – rationale and objective truths. There is no gray area with the law, the balance sheet, or the speed limit, and this suits him just fine. He is authoritative because he’s backed up by facts, he’s in charge because he knows the rules of the game, and when “right makes might” he’s unstoppably powerful.  When out of balance he can be unyielding, tyrannical, and unsympathetic.

King of Cups: The Controller
“Control” isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s a tricky thing. This King thrives on relationship with others and yet tends to become unmercifully entangled in and by them. At his best, this King is the always-loving, ever present, kind-hearted, most empathetic best friend or partner or boss or parent you’d ever want. But when he doesn’t know when to quit, he can turn into the most manipulative, complicated, co-dependent, and snidely friend or partner or boss or parent you could ever imagine.

Now for the challenge:
Take a look at that list and make note of which King speaks most loudly to you; which one really resonates with you; which one would be very useful in your life right now; which one is calling out for attention. Pick a day sometime within the next 5 days, and make an effort to embody that particular King for the entire day.

How does this King dress? How does he speak? How does he move through the day? What are his priorities? How does he spend his free time? Who are his allies? Who is not going to appreciate his attitude? How does “being him” change your day?

Bring out the qualities, attitude, approach, and energy of this King. Really become him. Also keep in mind his negative aspects as you’re embodying your King of choice, since they too are part of the package!

Just one day. Try it, and remember that it’s good to be King.


Visit the TarotWorks website and learn how you can embody your best Self through the Tarot: Readings*Classes*Videos*Webinars
Card Image of the King of Swords from the Robin Wood Tarot Deck


Queen For A Day

Although we need to address them by their title and use the proper pronouns when speaking of them, the Tarot’s Queens are not about gender, but attitude. And no matter what your gender, you’ve got to admit that it’s good to be the Queen.

In truth, none of the Tarot’s Personality Cards, aka “Court Cards,” are gender-specific, or age-specific for that matter. It’s because of this fact that these 16 cards (The Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages) are the most troublesome section of the Tarot deck.

It’s also true that sometimes these cards represent ourself and the energy we’re holding, sometimes they represent other people and their modus operandi, and sometimes they represent non-actualized aspects which are calling out for attention. It’s no wonder the appearance of a Court Card can throw a reader for a loop!

Given all these variables, it helps to have a really good handle on the particular vibe that each one of the Personality Cards carries. Here’s a little synopsis for each of the Queens, and then a challenge for you!

Queen of Wands: The Heroine
This is the Queen of creativity and personal power.  She’s magnetic, extroverted, capable, dynamic, and driven.  She enjoys a challenge and knows how to manage people and situations with finesse and ease.  Give her a stage and she shines like the sun; people are naturally attracted to her. She is the center of her own universe, ebullient, optimistic, and easy-going. When in her negative state she can be over-bearing, rude, pushy, and overconfident.

Queen of Pentacles: The Nurturer
Whether she’s nurturing a garden, a family, or her multi-national corporation, the Queen of Pentacles enjoys the tangible value of stability, security, and the forces of the natural world. She’s comfortable in her body and enjoys taking care of the physical needs of herself and those around her. She appreciates good food, nice clothes, and pretty things. Change upsets her and she’s not the first person to come up with a radical new idea, but if you’re looking for a reliable friend and a calming presence, she’s your girl.

Queen of Swords: The Advocate
This Queen lives her life around principles and ideals. Her thoughts are her fortress and she’d rather stick with them than with those people who might disagree – or heaven forbid – be ignorant.  She does not compromise her position nor does she suffer fools.  She’s independent, authoritative, often intelligent, and always assertive.  She knows her own mind and relies on her personal sense of truth to pave the way. When out of balance she can be cutting, irrational, and insensitive.   

Queen of Cups: The Feeler
It’s all about feelings for the Queen of Cups.  What she wants (which is, to her, the same as what she needs), who she’s connected to, what her intuition tells her, these are the things that determine her mood for the day.  Still waters can run deep, but emotions are clearly visible and there’s no hiding how she truly feels about anything.  Loving, compassionate, intense, and insightful, she can become so immersed in her inner life that she becomes unreasonable and perhaps even unreachable.

Now for the challenge:
Take a look at that list and make note of which Queen speaks most loudly to you; which one really resonates with you; which one would be very useful in your life right now; which one is calling out for attention. Pick a day sometime within the next 5 days, and make an effort to embody that particular Queen for the entire day.

What does this Queen wear? How does she speak? How does she move through her day? What are her priorities? How does she spend her free time? Who are her allies? Who is not going to appreciate her attitude? How does “being her” change your day?

Bring out the qualities, attitude, approach, and energy of this Queen.  Really become her. Also keep in mind her negative aspects as you’re embodying your Queen of choice, since they too are part of the package!

Just one day. Try it, and remember that it’s good to be Queen.

Visit the TarotWorks website and learn how you can emody your best Self through the Tarot: Readings*Classes*Videos*Webinars
Card Image of the Queen of Wands from Kat Black’s Golden Tarot

One Or Ten: Either Way It’s All Good

When you’re reading Tarot for other people, you never know when a single card or a most innocent comment will make a huge difference in another person’s life.

My Monday morning Facebook page was graced by a mention of gratitude by someone for whom I had recently done a casual one-card reading. It was an example of just the right message, just the right words that found a home in this person’s heart.

One card, a simple message, a resonant chord, and this woman has already taken off, making big changes in her life.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the 10-card Celtic Cross spread. If the beauty of a single-card draw is its simplicity, the terrible beauty of the Celtic layout is its unending pattern of interwoven connections. You could literally spend all day on a single Celtic spread and still not fathom all the information contained therein.

Much of this past weekend was spent working on a 6-part video course for Udemy demonstrating the ins and outs of this complicated layout. The Celtic Cross isn’t an all-occasion kind of spread, but one to be used when the time and the energy to unravel its mysteries are at one’s disposal. This layout represents traditional Tarot at its finest and as such is venerated, held as a standard by which “real” Tarot readers are judged.

But the bottom line is this: by whichever method you seek out your guidance from the Tarot, it’s all good. Resonance doesn’t lie; when you hear the truth you know it; when you are ready to be touched by a word you will hear it.

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. And, Tarot works.

It’s that simple.

Is it time for YOUR reading? Visit the TarotWorks site to view your options for bringing clarity, insight, and confidence into your life.

Too Much Tarot: Is There Such A Thing?

The Tarot can be a powerful resource for understanding, clarifying, and empowering the actions we take and the choices we make in our life. But does it ever reach a point when there too much of a good thing?

We see the incessant use of the Tarot very often when people first become acquainted with the Tarot. It’s a new toy, it’s different from anything we’ve had before; it’s like getting a new puppy who’s always ready to play with you.

When you find something so compelling, so multilayered, so relevant, and so true, it is hard to put the thing aside and go about your business.

Usually, eventually, the newness wears off and things settle down. Yet there are likely to be times that we reach for our faithful friend the Tarot when we really should be letting sleeping dogs lie. Here are a few guidelines for signs that it may be time to set the Wisdom of the Ages on the shelf for a bit and allow life to unfold of its own accord:

1.  When you’re really tired. Thoughts are swimming, emotions are all over the place, focused attention is not serving you. Wait to call on the Tarot after you’ve had a good rest and your head is clear.

2. When the question is one to which you really do not want an answer. You know those questions that you really shouldn’t be asking: Is my partner cheating on me? Will Nick and I be married forever? Will my children always be safe? Stay away from a query the reply to which might make you miserable.

3. When you keep getting the same cards over and over. Repeatedly getting the same message from the cards tells you to take your ball and go home. If things on the table aren’t changing, it’s up to you to change the rules of the game in the outer life.

4. When you’re on some serious medication. This may sound a little silly, but if for whatever reason you’re on pain killers, strong antidepressants, sleeping aids, or even overindulging with alcohol, stay away from the Tarot. Complications will surely ensue.

5. When seeking guidance from the Tarot becomes a substitute for autonomy in your life. This one is an insidious little bugger, but it’s more common that you might think. When Tarot “works” it’s easy to assume that “It” knows what’s best. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Tarot is here to inform, not direct, our life. The Tarot is here to guide, to provide information upon which we can reflect, and to help us hone our authenticity. Any way of using the Tarot that moves us into dependence is antithetical to healthy self-determination.

Tarot can be a faithful friend and helpful companion; don’t make it bite you on the hand.

Visit the TarotWorks website to see all the ways the Tarot can help empower your life!

A Useful Truth

That phrase has been floating around in my head for about a week now, “a useful truth.”

It started one day as I was preparing to do a reading. In addition to getting the cards in order, clearing the table, and making sure that I’m sufficiently calm prior to the reading hour, I ask for help and guidance from whomever/whatever might be involved in the Tarot reading process. It doesn’t matter to me who/what they/it are/is, I know they/it are/is there.

No wonder I need help, with a sentence like that.

Anyhoo, as I was making my little plea for assistance, I heard myself ask, among other things, that we bring forth “useful truths.” As soon as I heard it out loud, I recognized this as a particularly important element of a “good” Tarot reading.

Lots of things are true: the sky is blue, the type of car you drive, how much money you made last year, blah blah blah. A reading can be filled with lots of truths — a let’s hope it does — but sometimes it all sounds like a lot of blah blah blah. Where is the truth that makes us see things differently? Where is the truth that wakes us up? Where is the resonant truth? Where is the useful truth?

I’ll take back what I said about this being an important element of a good reading; conveying a useful truth is what makes a reading great. If a truth has become useful it means the client “gets it.” This means that a new thought has made an impact on someone’s psyche. Awareness shifts. Lives change.

And like the hokey-pokie, that’s what it’s all about.

Visit the TarotWorks website to learn how to use the Tarot to help you find the useful truths in your life. There’s tons of good information there, check it out!

Ace of Swords image from Tarot of the Sephiroth (c) US Games Systems Inc.

Remember “Tales From The Dark Side?”

In an interesting synchronicity, the new “Tales From The Tarot Table” feature on this blog crystalized on the same weekend that a friend sent me the link to a 1980’s episode of Tales From The Dark Side.

I do have a vague memory of such a series, a psychological mystery drama a la Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, only a bit more campy. OF COURSE such a series is going to have at least one episode witnessing the enigmatic and exotic persona of the Tarot. “Come into my pahlor, dahlink ….”

First off, the show has some great one-liners for Tarot folk. My favorite is when the main character ( young blond woman, attractive in an 80’s sort of way) is bustling around prior to reading for a drop-in client — apparently they did this a lot back then, drop in on Tarot readers at their homes– and mutters something like, “What a way to make a living!”

I feel ya’, sister.

The title of this episode is, “In The Cards.” Is that the best they could do? It appears that TV writers in the 80’s were grossly overpaid.

It also appears that all readers in the 80’s used the Rider-Waite deck. This might seem strange to us 30 years later, but the truth is that prior to 1988 there wasn’t much else to choose from. Good thing, because they’re swapping decks all over the place here.

Oh, this thing is filled with stereotypes, for sure, but I would have been disappointed if there hadn’t been at least one turbaned old woman. And pay special attention to the background music and sound effects, they are amusing and eventually, do make a point. (No pun intended here, hee hee … you’ll see.)

All this being said, if you give the episode the full 22 minutes, you’ll see that there are some significant Tarot truths hidden in the seams between the hideous set decoration and the overacting in this cornball drama.

Take what you will from it, at the very least it’s an amusing look at one more way American culture has perceived the Tarot.

Be sure to visit a place where videos are neither cornball nor overacted: the TarotWorks website where the Streaming Video Classes page has been Updated and Repriced!

Tales From The Table

Introducing: A new series of stories appearing in this blog, “Tales From The Table.”

Some really fascinating things happen at the Tarot table, things too juicy and dynamic and remarkable to let pass between two people only. So from now on, when such an occurance happens during a reading you’ll be hearing about it.

Here’s the experience that prompted this whole notion of “Tales From The Table;”  it’s one that will stick in my mind for a long time to come:

A client finds herself in an unfamiliar place in her life, a place where the hard work of self-awareness has been tended, leaving her with the knowing that the familiar routines must pass in order to make way for a new version of her life.

We see her groundedness and capability very clearly in the first part of the reading, and yet to really think of making changes brings up fear, hesitation, and self-doubt. “There’s that knot in my stomach again,” she admits. 

The question to the cards becomes, “What can help me remember that I’m capable of making these changes in my life?”  A straightforward question with a clear goal. She draws the 10 of Cups.

There are many ways this card could be read, most of them with a very positive vibe. In that specific moment my eyes were drawn to the two children depicted on the card.

When you get a “hit” that speaks directly to you, you can’t help but smile. 

“You raised two happy, healthy children, didn’t you? They gave you a run for your money, didn’t they? They’re solid citizens and successful adults now, aren’t they? If you can do THAT, you can do this.”

We laugh, we cry, and we know the reading has supported and encouraged this person in her desire for a more meaningful life.

Tarot card image from the Rider-Waite Tarot (c) US Games Systems Inc.

Visit http://www.tarotworks.com to learn more about how the Tarot can help you have a more meaningful life.

Jeanne’s Version of Creating a Tarot Deck

Here’s one of my work’s most FAQ: When are you going to create your own Tarot deck?

Here is my most frequent answer: Only after receiving a severe blow to the head.

I know people who have created their own Tarot decks. It takes years out of a person’s life, and I don’t even want to think about the massive amount of both inner and outer work required to create a “new-and-improved” version of Tarot that is worth the paper it’s printed on.

No thanks, I’ve got yard sales to attend.

And then along comes Pinterest, yet one more way for us to share with others the full fabric of our being; as if Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Bing, WordPress, Flickr, Foursquare, and the omnipresent Google have somehow been unable to get the job done.

BUT, Pinterest is a place where I can create the deck of my dreams! And it’s simple: use cards from decks that are ALREADY CREATED! Someone else has poured out their blood, sweat, and tears, and now I get to pick the bones.

Here’s a project I can embrace. Oh yes, I can compile, of that I am capable.

My deck is not a fait accompli, more a work in progress. And I must say, the whole thing is very satisfying! If you’re at all interested in the Tarot and the many ways that different cards are interpreted by different scholars/designers/artists/creators, not only do you need to take a look at my board, why not start one of your own?

Once the 78-pieces are all in place on my Pinterest board, I may have to go out and buy the various decks required to build the composite deck. Until then, being on the lookout for the next “Best Tarot Card of Its Kind” is almost as a satisfying as the Saturday morning yard sale hunt.

PS– In case you’re wondering about that colorful image at the top of this page, that’s the TarotWorks gift-wrapping paper I designed along with a friend in 2004. It’s great stuff– well made and beautiful. Not quite an example of a “severe blow to the head” moment, but close! Visit the TarotWorks site to see more about the gift wrap and other cool handmade Tarot goods.

The colorful image on the right is the Aliester Crowley Thoth Tarot’s version of the Two of Discs… best of its kind, in my opinion.

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