A few tarot books well worth your time

Robert Wang, Qabalistic Tarot

Even though I believe Crowley’s The Book of Thoth is the best Tarot book ever written, I wouldn’t start with it.  I recommend this book for those who want to learn the basics of the Golden Dawn’s Qabalistic attributions/correspondences for Tarot. Helpfully, Wang uses illustrations from the “big” families of Tarot: Crowley-Thoth based, Golden Dawn based, Tarot de Marseilles based, and Colman-Smith based.  If you want to start with something a little less intimidating, then I suggest Emily Peach’s Tarot for Tomorrow.
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Splat! Another Tarot Book Hits the Wall

I’ll never forget the day.  I had to be somewhere and being late wasn’t an option.  At the time, I had just been reading a new Tarot book, one that purported to “lift” my Tarot practice “above mere fortune telling” and to “facilitate internal healing and spiritual growth.”  So, as was my practice, I drew a daily card.

Aha!  The Chariot, reversed.

The moment I drew the card I saw a picture of my car flash in my mind like a lightbulb. In the past, I had seen The Chariot (R) reflect car trouble, even car accidents, as well as other travel, etc., but my new Tarot guru book said that The Chariot advised letting go of the reins of the ego mask to allow my Goddess-given lunar energies to lead me back to my authentic self.  If that didn’t make sense to you, don’t worry: it didn’t to me, either.

Anyway, I got ready to leave for my appointment, and I went outside to start my car, when, lo and behold, it wouldn’t crank.  Crap. I had waited four months for an appointment with this physician and if I were more than 15 minutes late, his officious little secretary would gleefully put my name at the bottom of his list.

Fortunately, I was able to catch a ride, and no harm was done.  No.  Scratch that. Harm was done, all right.  I did the harm to myself when I failed to listen to my intuition, a part of myself that’s gotten me out of many a scrape – some nearly-fatal ones, mind you – in order to let some smug New Age psychobabble do my thinking for me.  Not gonna happen again.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there are many times when I turn to the cards for insight on emotional or even spiritual matters.  However, life exists under the head as well as above it.  Just look at Maslow’s pyramid!   Sure, we need to become fully self-actualized.  However, there are other needs.  At any given moment, one or several needs will be in ascendance.

As for the book, I am very much afraid that it wound up hitting the wall with a wonderfully-satisfying smack, from there joining a small shelf of Tarot books I call my Wall of Shame.  Therein, you’ll find books full of fluff but free of substantive content, interpretation schemes the books’ authors dub “the only authentic” or “the one true” way, and books filled with socio-political agendas ranging from the most sexist, reactionary reinforcement of the Good Old Boys’ Club status quo (or even a return to 1950s ‘values’) to an Amazonian Separatist Womynhood State in which we write with the vagina.


The moral of this tale, if there is one, is simple and singular: at the end of the day, the best Tarot card interpretation is the one that seems right to one’s own intuition. Anything else is horse hockey.

I’m Baaaack

Hi, folks.

After a long pause, I’m getting ready to post a review of some of my favorite decks.

See you soon.

Daily Draw – Petit Lenormand – October 10, 2009

Well, the Blue Owl has been very reliable for me lately, so I decided to do my daily draw with them.  I’m using the 5-card no layout layout from Sylvie Steinbach.  Here’s what I drew:






in case the images get lost, it’s d0g+whip+woman+mice+bouquet.  Hmm.

First, I’d say that the dog represents a friend or someone I know; whips often represent arguments.  The whip lies between me and the dog, so I’d better watch what I say today to avoid having an argument with a friend, significant other, family member, etc.  I do sometimes get the impression that the whips represent sexuality as in the French tradition, but I don’t feel that here.  This is a definite warning to avoid arguments today – or just to accept it if they happen anyway.

I shall note, however, that I’m not feeling particularly well today.  My throat’s a little scratchy and I have that “I have a cold and I want to stay in bed” tiredness.  Appropriately, both the Dog and the Whip can refer to the throat or, as Chanah says, “anything that impairs linguistic ability.”  I get the impression the cards are referring both to the external situations I’ll face today and my own health.

Now to the mice.  I always have such trouble with this card…here, it could be referring to my feeling sick – perhaps this is a cold or other “infectious illness.”  It could refer to the blue funk that’s been “eating away” at me for days.  However, it could also mean a loss.

To its right is the Bouquet, which can mean a happy social situation with a friend, or a visit, a (good!) surprise, and all sorts of pleasant things.  It can also refer to recovering quickly from an illness.  I believe the way the Mice card works with respect to loss is that you lose whatever is to its right, which is the bouquet in this case.  I suspect that, again, both the external and the health meanings apply here.  I need to watch my words (dog+whip+woman) to avoid losing a nice visit, pleasantness, or amicable relations (bouquet) – or even the loss of a friend (dog+whip).  Also, the bouquet implies a quick recovery from illness, but the Mice suggests that if I’m not feeling better by Monday I’d better go to a Doc-in-the-Box and get checked.

Whew!  I’m still a babe in the woods with Lenormand cards, but they have a lovely “personality.”  As someone noted on a forum I frequent, they seem more practical than Tarot.  I suspect that is because when I began learning to read Tarot, I got lost in a tangle of well-meaning but vacuous fluffy-bunny love-and-light books.  Now that I’m reading Doris Chase Doane’s 1960s book on Tarot, I am getting much more of a real-world set of meanings.  Oops…I digressed again.

But you know me.

Well, I’ve gotta go.  The BF and I have a big night tonight at his show…I need to rest up and be pleasant, energetic, and as charming as this old broad can be.


Lenormand Draw for my Dad October 9 2009

As you may know from my earlier post, my Dad’s in the hospital and I did a draw to see the likely prognosis. I used Blue Owl Petit Lenormand cards. Here is what I drew:







I used Sylvie Steinbach’s 5-card no-layout layout with #28, charged as Dad’s significator, so I don’t interpret the Gentleman card. I take my Lenormand meanings primarily from Confessions of a Freaky Fortune Teller, which is one of the best cartomantic blogs that exist. Anyway…
here’s how I am trying to interpret it:

Key would be related to vitamin deficiency issues, and it also usually means a successful outcome – and the card that follows it is sure to happen.

Ring would relate (when reading for health) chronic health conditions. Thus, I take it that his lung-fluid problem may recur, and he may need to be checked for vitamin deficiency.

Crossroads – even before I looked at my list of meanings, I flashed on the idea that it could go one of two ways – that he may get better or things may take a turn for the worse…but I see here that it could also be related to veins and circulation, the lymphatic system (at 88 and in the hospital there is likely more than one thing wrong with him). The crossroads also suggests I should consider a second opinion if my sis and are not satisfied. She’s already switched doctors once and the new meds this new doc gave him are helping, so maybe this is a reflection of what JUST happened.

The tower, first and foremost to me, indicates the hospital building. It’s a big, tall one. It can augur loneliness and a feeling of isolation, and as much as I’ve been in the hospital, I can tell you that’s the truth. I gather from this that I should perhaps ask for additional bloodwork to ferret out any infections, and my dad’s true condition – the main thing that is causing all of these symptoms may be hard to diagnose. However, as Kapherus on The Art of Cartomancy forum said when he evaluated my interpretation, key+ring augurs the likelihood of a correct diagnosis.

Anyway, I am so close emotionally that I was afraid I’d be wrong in my interpretations. My more expert cartomantic compatriots seem to think I’m on the right track. I surely hope so because I love dear old Dad. You can see a picture of him at age 46, carrying me (at 4) on his shoulders – look in the Six of Cups post. He’s a handsome devil, isn’t he?

The Six of Cups

Let me apologize up front for the tone of this entry.  I shall probably talk much about myself and my family, but  it’s just the mechanism by which I demonstrate how I read the cards.  Usually, I’m both the reader and the querent, so a lot of my examples will be recollections.  Thus, I am sorry if it seems self-absorbed.

Anyway, Dad’s in the hospital with fluid on his lungs, and while he’s improving greatly – he has the nurses bringing him strawberries and other “verboten” goodies – he’s 88 and I am deeply worried about him. When we’re young, our parents seem omnipotent, omniscient. In my case, my parents were of the “Great Generation,” the one that survived the Great Depression and won World War II. Truly we stand on the shoulders of giants (I forget who said that).

All of this brought to mind with a sudden, sharp immediacy the warm feelings engendered by the RWS’ and compatibles’ versions of the Six of Cups. One can almost feel herself a kid again, safe and surrounded by folks who care for our needs, leaving us to run and to play, making our castles and forts out of drying sheets.

However, the Six of Cups can also bring other memories with pangs of their own. I guess it’s just a “National Maudlin Introspection Day” celebration, but my thoughts while contemplating the Six of Cups went something like this:

I haven’t been at this blogging business for long, but already I can tell this blog isn’t going to be like the other cartomantic/tarot blogs I’ve read. I’m far from experienced; I lack the erudition and the intuition that others command. For me, looking at the cards sometimes – just sometimes – takes me to someplace else. Somewhere, somewhen else. I can’t explain it any better than that. It’s a very personal, and oftentimes emotional thing for me. Images come to mind in response to what I see and I follow them…within the intellectual framework of the meanings I’ve learned by rote, though sometimes I vary from them. Anyway, I guess this blog is going to be more of an exploration of one would-be cartomancer’s encounters with these mysterious cards. Perhaps my musings will serve, if no other purpose, to illustrate how one particular person reads the cards.

And now for today’s card, the Six of Cups.


This is the Albano-Waite version.

And it hits me between the eyes in a very personal way. This card is at one and the same time both a comforting embrace and a mocking revenant of a past that never was. It haunts me. It’s as the poet said:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.
The Road Not Taken

You see, it is ages and ages hence, and I am telling you with a sigh: I took the other road. The safe one. The road for sleepwalkers who coast through their lives never really living them. My waking came far too late, for, as Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) said in Fried Green Tomatoes: “I’m too young to be old, and I’m too old to be young.” I went from 21 to 60 and stayed there until I was 42, and let me tell you, in the South, 42-year-old women are supposed to be faded grandmothers, who live vicariously through their young and sport “W” stickers on their gas-hogging minivans. I’m still wanting to stay out until the dawn breaks, being careless and a bit tipsy, having all night talks with friends the likes of which one can’t make when old. We grow so careful with our “selves” even as we realize we don’t know what those are, and as Descartes and Locke would say, the self isn’t contiguous but sequential with each one a little different from the last. So gone are the late night talks about everything and nothing, gone is telling “our BFF” secrets we wouldn’t ever want to come to light. No more soul-baring. But that’s that.

Now as for the Six of Cups….
The standard definition of this card is “nostalgia” or something from the past coming back to one in the present. When reversed, it can indicate the Miss Havisham personality type, someone sitting in the closet with her dusty, dry maiden’s wedding gown and her moldy cake, waiting for a bridegroom who never came and now never will. Whew. That hits a little too close to home.

When looking at the picture (always a wise course of action when we’ve drawn a pictorial card) we see also that this appears to be the giving of a gift. Is the masculine figure a boy or a little person? Two souls as yet unsullied by the realities of life, enjoying a moment of pure joy…is this card designed to cause us to associate one of our own memories from our own innocent memories?

Now take a look at the Six of Cups from the Tarot of the Old Path:

Tarot of the Old Path Six of Cups

Tarot of the Old Path Six of Cups

Here, it looks almost as if the guy is trying to flirt with the woman, and she’s giving him the “brush off.” In a case such as this, when the traditional meanings are steeped in my head but the image doesn’t match it, I confess…I resort to the dreaded LWB. The OP Tarot authors say: innocent and undemanding love, nostalgia, memories. I just don’t “get” that impression visually from this card, so I stay with what my subconscious mind “knows”…even though the picture doesn’t match.

Now, let’s look at the Barbara Walker Tarot’s Six of Cups:

Childhood - Six of Cups

Here, I get the negative side of that “parents as omnipotent” feeling we have as kids. To the tiny figure crouched on the floor, “Mother” is a Goddess. It reminds me of parts of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, where Pink’s smothering mother (like Eddie Kasprack’s overprotective mother from Stephen King’s It) is A Force To Be Reckoned With or some such. Ms. Walker describes this card as representing deep memory, looking to the past for help in the present, a search for Mother-Wisdom, and a return to childhood. I normally don’t like LWBs but I always keep them in case the imagery doesn’t fit with what I know…provided, that is, that the LWB’s author gives an interpretation that makes sense with the picture. Ms. Walker has done that here.

And now to the Noblet TdM:


When read in the context of suit and number, the six of cups relates to harmony, reward, balance, and peace, all at the emotional level. It’s also the number of Tiphareth. This could include healthy nostalgic moments, too, I suppose. Sedillot defines the card as meaning: easy communication, harmonious emotinonal rapport, creative impulse, or a new friendship. Negatively, she describes it as sadness, bad dialogue or lack of dialogue, or bad company. Tiphareth connotes spirituality, harmony, beauty and compassion. For Christians or those of other religions who admire Jesus, Tiphereth is the sphere of “Christ-Consciousness.” Amazing how rich in meaning the non-pictorial minors are, no?

Yet for me, even when I’m reading the TdM, I often find myself experiencing that stab of things from the past…it may be different from yours. However, whatever your warm, hot cocoa recollection is, that’s the healthy side of the six of cups.

It’s just that sometimes that card hits you right between the eyes, speaking Ray Batty’s words to you with some mockery and vehemence:

“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.”

And so they are.

Signing off, a little low today. Sorry.



Daily Reading, October 8, 2009

Mommy's Little Girl

Mommy's Little Girl

Today, malchicks and devotckhas, I’m using the Playing Card Oracles for my daily draw. You’re familiar with the spread by now, but here’s the layout if you’re reading this for the first time.

Head – unarticulated, preverbal stuff going on in your head, the overall situation, the controlling factors – ruled by the suit of diamonds (fire in this system)

Throat – what we say (or don’t say), fully formed thoughts, issues of communication

Torso – our gut feelings, our emotions

Feet – the practical matters in life such as beating the EL to the station

Here goes:

Head – Field of Stones – 8 of Spades


Hold off on any plans until the timing is better, difficult karma, numerous obstacles, bad timing/luck, a need to wait, a threatening group. (I’m not really planning anything today but I guess today’s just going to be one of those days when everything goes awry)

Icky poo!

Throat – Gilles de Rais – 9 of Hearts


overwhelming emotion, extremes of behavior and impulsiveness, fears and insecurities, suspicions, jealousy (so I’d better watch what I say and not give in to those negative thoughts)

Torso – The Peddler’s Ace – 5 of Diamonds


This is the card of deception. I’ve drawn similar cards (albeit in different systems) twice this week. Am I deceiving myself? Do I need to watch out for Jerry Falwell-like snake oil salesmen? I know to be careful in any transactions or with respect to any seeming “bargains,” and I need to be careful with my money.

Feet – The Ruin – 6 of Spades


something that’s been neglected or destroyed, a lingering past, form without substance or life, a past that can provide lessons for the future (oh, boy, another f_____ growth experience)

Here, since this is the “practical” slot, I’m thinking I’ve neglected my own health for too long. I’ve been having a lot of arthritis and esophogeal flare-ups…maybe it’s time to consult a doctor…but not to rush into a decision (as per the 8 of Spades).

When I calculated geomancy by color and by number for this spread, I drew “Conjunctio” for both. Conjunctio, which is ruled by Mercury, relates to connection, the lost being found, relationship of one thing to another, negative attracted to negative and positive to positive – it’s generally a neutral figure.

* *



* *


Anyhoo, that’s my take on today’s reading.

Books and Card Decks I’m Currently Examining

dvc01255 Well, it’s another lovely day in the Southeastern United States, and it’s been the first day without rain (so far) since I can recall.

With that in mind, I decided to show you guys some of the things I am working on and exploring – things that will show up in future blogs. I don’t own all of these books or cards, but I have trusting friends who’ve loaned them to me. Ain’t friendship great?


Here are some of the books I’m exploring. I guess I’d better go ahead and get this out of the way: My name is Barbarella, and I’m a book and card addict. 🙂 I’ve been reading voraciously since I was 2 years old and I haven’t stopped since. (Don’t get me wrong: I was and am no genius. I just had this weird quirk of being able to read at an adult level – hell, I couldn’t even tie my shoelaces or ride a bicycle or even walk without braces. Nor could I add properly. Math was a mystery. I could do two things well in life: read and spell.

The books are:

Fortune Telling by Nerys Dee

Secrets of the Tarot by Barbara Walker

How to Read Tarot Cards by Doris Chase Doane

The Book of Doors companion book


The Tarot Shows the Path by Rolla Nordic.

I am a terrible book slut so oftentimes I’ll keep six or seven going at once, never “cleaving unto” one book monogamously; instead, I’ll read a chapter here, then a chapter there…it’s weird. However, I promise to give you the best reviews I can once I finish.


Here are the cards I’m bonding with at the moment:


They are, from top left:

The Barbara Walker Tarot

The Brotherhood of Light Tarot

Tarot of the Old Path

36-card Zigeuner Wahrsagcarten

The Picture Book of Ana Cortez (a/k/a The Playing Card Oracles)


Mystiches Lenormand

I’ll get back to you when I have more info.  Please feel free to suggest any cards or books that you’ve found useful and delightful in your own cartomantic careers.



Daily Draw October 7, 2009


First, a note. Even though I’m drawing Lenormand cards, I’m using Ana Cortez’s 4-position spread (head, throat, torso, and feet). I find it good for a daily drawing.

Head – overall situation, what’s going on inside one’s “noggin'”


26 – The Book

Here, I’d say that I had a lovely long weekend with my sweetie, but the one thing I didn’t get to to was to spend much time with my beloved books and cards, so I see the Book here as representing my thirst to read and learn more about the cards.

Throat – what I say, what I think (as opposed to thought that haven’t yet taken form, as in the Head position)


21 – Mountain

Ick. Here I believe that the Mountain indicates that it may be one of those days when I feel I can’t speak my mind, or that I keep things to myself that others just wouldn’t appreciate, understand, or like. I often feel blocked like that – I won’t even answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number! I have drawn this card many times when I’m around folks whose politics lean 180 degrees from mine and a major political event happens.

it gets yuckier…

Torso – my gut feelings, my emotions


7 – Snake (gosh, these Mystical Lenormand cards are hard to read when you’re old and need glasses)

Here, I’ve almost always taken the snake to mean just that – a snake in the grass, someone who can’t be trusted, usually a woman – but that is so close to the fox! Does this mean I need to be wily today? Keeping in mind that it refers to feelings in this position, do I need to watch out for fooling myself, for unfounded emotions and suspicions, or is a female friend of mine going to do something that leaves me feeling betrayed?

Feet – the practical matters such as housing, food, getting to the bus stop on time, etc.


12 – The Birds

To me, this card represents four things: a flurry of activity (a la the 8 of wands), worries, gossip, and communications of all sorts other than written communication. Perhaps I’ll hear something that will cause me to have worries about some practical matter. Or it could simply be that I’ll be worried about finances or something like that all day. I hope it’s not a “collection call” because I’m pretty sure I paid all of my bills.

After looking at this, all I can say is, ick, folks. (Well, I could say some other things, but they’d be what you call “bad words.”) Any suggestions? As I’ve said, I don’t have a good rapport with Lenormand cards yet.


In Ancient Rome, there was a poem, about a dog who found two bones

barb3…he licked the one, he picked the other

he went in circles ’til he dropped dead.

-Devo, Freedom of Choice.

OK, folks, it’s time for a rant…and I’m the subject of same. Most of us remember from our childhood reading stories of giant dragons (like Smaug) who sat upon their mounds of unused rubies, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and gold…not using a one, but simply hoarding them greedily.

In cartomancy, it’s all too easy to become either the dog or the dragon – know what I mean? If you’re like me, the beauty of the different card sets, the intriguing notion that just maybe this book will have the definitive set of divinatory meanings we’ve sought for son long…all of these can conspire (ok, that’s the pathetic fallacy, but forgive me a few grammatical boo-boos, all right?) to make one buy, and buy, and buy, card set after card set, book after book…and we end up learning a weak hodgepodge of meanings and associations that don’t really give us a solid foundation on which to practice our craft.

I’m that way. I’m very much that way, and trying to fight that is harder than it was for me to quit smoking ciggies.

In life, I have always…no, let’s make that bold and italic…always found that when I have only one or two tools or resources at my hand, I’ll use them and learn them until they become a part of me- “baraka” to use Ana Cortez’s phrase.

Ladies and Gents, I’m trying really hard to do that. The only thing that keeps me safe is my limited budget…yet that siren song is always there, singing its deadly, seductive song.

Maybe that’s just me. I dunno.


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