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Category Archives: Tarot

Review: Twelve-House Tarot Spreads – Uses and Variations

Twelve-House Tarot Spreads – Uses and Variations

Author: Elizabeth Hazel
Kosmic Kitchen Press
2020
ISBN#: 978-1-73537701-8

I am thrilled to see a book coming out, from someone I trust, combining Tarot and astrology. I have a very basic understanding of astrology, at best, so it means a lot to me to have astrology-based Tarot spreads that someone at my level can work with.

In her introduction, Hazel talks about new ways to use the basic twelve-house spread, and how digital publishing allows authors to add “copious amounts” of images to their written work. (I think this makes a huge difference in all fields of writing and adds a sense of panache to any work.)

One sentence stands out for me from the introduction (probably because I have spent the morning reading about our current president, and how he plans to contest a loss in the upcoming election): “Uncertain times drive people to seek knowledge of the future in any way they can get it.”

From the very beginning, you will see why I admire Elizabeth Hazel. She has an in-depth understanding of both Tarot and Astrology,  combined with a true “take no prisoners” sense of humor.

Hazel begins by explaining the construction of the twelve-house chart form. She explains the symbolism of the circle, along with the horizontal division of the circle into two hemispheres – the upper hemisphere being an individual’s public life, while the lower hemisphere is the individual’s interior life. She then goes on to explain the vertical division of the circle, resulting in self (left hemisphere) and others (right hemisphere).

These two-axis intersect to form the Cosmic Cross, with the Future on top, the Past on the bottom, Self to the left and Other to the right. Explanations are given for the four axis points: the Ascendant, the Descendant, the Nadir, and the mid-heaven.

Chapter Two provides an explanation of each of the twelve houses and their relationship to each other. There is a listing of meanings for each of the twelve houses, describing the energy that is covered by that house. For instance, the First House covers the self, the body, the identity, as well as the condition of the self and the body.

Spreads in this book include The Cosmic Cross Spread, The Sequential 12-House Spread, The Polarity 12-House Spread, The Spiral 12-House Spread, The Vala Cross, The Expanded Cosmic Axis Spread, and the Etteilla 12-House Spread.

At the end of the book, there is a list of suggested reading, and an appendix with blank spread forms.

Each chapter in this book is written for ease of understanding, with a review of the information provided at the end of the chapter. Sample spreads are included for each spread, which I find to be a huge benefit! Included in the chapter on the Expanded Cosmic Cross Spread is a delightful eight-card spread entitled the Eight-Fold Path (Sabbats) Spread. I am going to use this spread on October 31st for Samhain, the Wiccan New Year.

I am impressed with the professionalism shown in this work, including the note to print shops on the back of each blank spread form that the owner of the book has permission to make copies for personal use only. The forms are not for resale, or to be shared on the Internet in any form. This is a book that all levels of astrologers and tarotists will appreciate and be able to work with.

© September 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
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Posted by on September 24, 2020 in Tarot

 

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The Notorious RBG

It was an incredible shock to hear of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In a year turned upside down by the COVID pandemic, and by the continued misbehavior of the current occupant of the White House, we are now faced with the GOP wanting to force a replacement vote before the election (which is just over a month away!). Please know that the title The Notorious RBG was gifted to Justice Ginsburg in good faith, and as an honor. The title was the brainchild of NYU law student Shana Knizhnik, and was intended as a riff on the iconic rapper The Notorious B.I.G. Both the rapper and Justice Ginsburg hail from Brooklyn and respectively carry great power. The humor comes in when you put the two side by side – the large, rather imposing B.I.G., and the 90-pound Jewish grandmother.

What I am going to attempt to do here is to take a look at the energy that Justice Ginsburg’s passing carry’s overall (a reflection of who she was/is), what it means for me personally, and what it means for the populace in general. I choose to use images from Joanna Powell Colbert’s “Gaian Tarot” (majors only, self-published, 2004). The images were deliberately chosen, for what appealed to me, for what seemed to be the right card for each section.

For the energy of who Justice Ginsburg was/is as an individual, and as a judge, I chose The High Priestess. Judge Ginsburg lead a very open life, and yet she remains a woman of mystery. How deeply did she have to go within herself to see the larger picture on issues that came before her – even though she may not have even though about the concept of ancestors, she had to have held the thought, in some manner, of seven generations down. In other words, she had to understand how things came to be as they were, she had to recognize what was unfolding in the present, and she had to have the vision to see (a) what would happen if things continued on in the direction they were going, and (b) what would happen if change were brought into play. IMHO, she listened to the voices in her dreams (paraphrasing Joanna Powell Colbert from the book that accompanies this deck). She reflects the wisdom of age, the openness of youth, and walks the fine line between both.

She is a lady for all ages.

I choose The Hermit to represent what her passing means to me personally. I have always loved this card, and it is one of my birth cards. Justice Ginsburg’s death threw me into a tailspin, not only because I knew that in our current state of political upheaval in this country that Trump would rush to appoint a new Supreme Court Judge, which would alter the balance of the court in a negative manner. I don’t blame the Republican party for this – the more astute Republicans are saying that no appointment should be made until after the election. I also feel that there is no one that can fill her shoes. It will be hard for anyone to carry on her legacy, but someone must attempt to do so. In the past (almost) four years women’s rights have eroded at warp speed – not just reproductive rights, but all of our rights. I grew up under Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s influence – I hope that my actions reflect this, and will continue to reflect it. I need to go into the darkness to find my truth. I need to walk with spirit.

To represent what Justice Ginsburg’s passing means to the general populace, I choose The Teacher/Hierophant. Dignity and peace abound in this card. The Teacher is asking all to walk with spirit. In another way, we are being reminded that Justice Ginsburg herself is a teacher. Take what she has taught you over the years, and in turn, teach it to others. This is how we keep her legacy alive. Recognize what you are being called to do at this time.

(c) September 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
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Posted by on September 20, 2020 in Tarot

 

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Review: Mindful Tarot – Bring a Peace-Filled, Compassionate Practice to the 78 Cards

Mindful Tarot
Bring a Peace-Filled, Compassionate Practice to the 78 Cards

Author: Lisa Freinkel Tishman, PhD
Llewellyn Publications
2019
ISBN #978-0-7387-5844-2

In “Mindful Tarot” Tishman combines the modalities of mindfulness, meditation, and the Tarot archetypes to assist the reader in actively placing compassion into their lives. The focus is on developing skills on three levels: (1) mindful awareness of yourself and your querant, (2) a deeper relationship with your cards, and (3) a transformed understanding of the Tarot system.

In her preface, Tishman talks about living in the present with joy and generosity. She defines a complete Tarot practice as about learning to live a more abundant and joyful life, in addition to deepening the readers connection to the 78 Archetypes of the Tarot.

The first several chapters of this book help the reader to define mindfulness in the present moment, and that the present moment is all there is. (Very Eckhart Tolle.) It is best to treat these chapters as what they are – rather a stream of consciousness writing, and one that wanders and rambles at times. One good take from this is that in mindful Tarot nothing is hidden, and nothing is broken.

Throughout the book Tishman has included her own life experiences, examples of Tarot spreads (such as the Wheel of Life and the Chariot), and exercises to help the reader put the information presented ot work in their lives.

Tishman associates the four suits with what she terms as “abodes”. Wands are the abode of compassion, Cups are the abode of Cheer, Swords are the abode of calm, and Pentacles are the abode of Care.

In Part Two each of the 78 cards of the Tarot is presented with a black and white scan, the energy of the card, and a short explanation. For example, The Fool carries the energy of Beginner’s Mind, with the thought that when it appears in a reading, the reader is being asked to lean into the present of the present moment. I found it interesting that Tishman refers to The Fool as “she”.

While the concept of mindfulness and the Tarot lends itself to endless possibilities, I found it to be a bit sketchy to put together from this book. I found the book interesting, but what I would say is that the reader is best served by taking away what works for them and leaving the rest behind. It also comes to mind that revisiting this work from time to time will bring the reader fresh insight.

© September 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
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Posted by on September 16, 2020 in Tarot

 

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Review: Tarot For Transformation

Tarot For Transformation
Using the Major Arcana to Discover Your Best Self and Create a Life Worth Living

Author: Andy Matzner
Artist: Katya Little
Independently Published
2020
ISBN #9-798667034391

At 8.5 x 1.2 x 11 inches, and 476 pages, “Tarot For Transformation” is a BOOK! I opened it up with some trepidation, thinking it would take a lifetime to work my way through. While it is not in the “large type” category, the type was a large enough size that I could read comfortably for as long as I wanted to. Letting out a sigh of relief! I did have to laugh when I saw that Matzner INTENDED the book to be big so that the reader could lay it open on a table or desk while they reflect, perhaps journal, and allow it to become a “workbook for the soul” (Matzner’s words).

We need to consider that Matzner is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. This becomes important when you realize that the foundation for this book is that of making best use of the archetypal nature of the Tarot Major Arcana. As a professional Tarot reader, I love and respect the nature of this book, and its ability to help the reader establish goals and create the life that they want. I can use it as a tool to help myself and my clients.

For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to
be ready to abandon our view about them.
Thich Nhat Hanh (from the book)

Two things impressed me at the very beginning of the book: (1) a series of quotes with large spaces left between them, and (2) a page entitled PLEASE READ. The PLEASE READ page reminds the reader that this is a journal-based book, and that there are questions and writing prompts for the reader to reflect on. The reader’s progress is based on their doing the work in this book. The reader is instructed to purchase a notebook or journal to keep track of their progress. The reader is encouraged to take their time with this book, as many emotions will be brought to the surface. It is also recommended to have some type of support system in place. Something that really hit home with me was the statement that if a question seems that it will bring up too many difficult memories, then skip the question. While the book is designed to stretch the reader’s comfort zone, their emotional safety is a priority.

In his introduction, Matzner addresses using the Tarot as a tool for deep personal transformation. Each of the cards in the Major Arcana is used as jumping-off points for creating profound and permanent change. The first part of each chapter presents a commentary on the individual card, including a deep dive into symbolic and esoteric wisdom. Matzner notes that in order to live an authentic life, full of meaning, three things are necessary: (1) To discover who you are underneath all of the social conditioning of your life, (2) To determine what you truly want out of life, and (3) to master an array of life skills.

In the table of contents, each card has its own chapter. Along with the title of the card, there is a note on the energy of the card, on the work that will be done in this chapter. Some examples are:

  • The Fool – Mindfulness
  • The Emperor – Belief Systems
  • The Hierophant – Values
  • The Chariot – Boundaries
  • The Hermit – Emotional Intelligence
  • The Star – Spirituality
  • The Moon – Shadow Work, Disarming The Inner Critic

I am going to look at one card, as a representation of what this book offers. The Hermit is one of my birth cards, so he volunteered. Really – he did volunteer! The beginning page shows a black and white image of the Hermit, along with the following quote from Ram Dass: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

Matzner begins his commentary by comparing The Fool and The Hermit. One is youth, ready to step off the cliff, open and receptive. One is old age, holding the lantern of wisdom high. The suggested challenge for the Hermit is that of balancing prudence with the possibility of betraying his own interests.

The theme for working with this card is emotional intelligence. The goal is to create a healthy relationship with your feelings. Matzner lists our core emotions as fear, anger, sadness, and happiness. He suggests using mindfulness skills to notice when an emotion occurs, and to observe what happens next. Questions are presented for the reader to ask themselves, such as: How do I feel? What just happened? Am I willing and able to stay present with this emotion?

Emphasis is placed on being mindful and staying in the present moment. We need to notice and experience our emotions without letting our minds get in the way. The Hermit is all about “Know Thyself”. Self-knowledge is power.

Matzner discusses how emotions and feelings are developed as we grow up. He lists a series of beliefs that we carry with us, such as “Feelings shouldn’t be discussed”, “Sharing what I feel with other people is risky”, and “If I ignore a feeling it will go away”.

There are several scenarios that are presented, along with solutions to them. These are moments that we all go through, and they help the reader look at their emotional reactions in a different way.

There is quite an interesting take on intuition, as Matzner holds the belief that our intuition always knows how we should express and honor our feelings. He points out that a great challenge in following our intuition is fear. (He presents fear as False Expectations Appearing Real.)

At the end of this chapter is a great section on using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, tapping). Complete with diagrams this is a wonderful tool of empowerment that anyone can use.

I found this book to be a wonderful tool for self-help and a wonderful journey. Filled with examples and straight talk, the reader is given many options for creating a life for themselves that is worth living. Based on the tool of journaling, anyone from any background can use this book. I  plan to start from the initial chapter and work through to the end, beginning on my next birthday (late December). Why am I waiting?  Because I have other projects going, and I want to be able to give each project the time and focus that it deserves.

© August 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
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Posted by on August 23, 2020 in Tarot

 

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Review – The Muse Tarot

The Muse Tarot 

Author: Chris-Anne 
Artist: Chris Anne 
Hay House, Inc. 
2020 
ISBN #978-1401958329 

The Muse Tarot, by Chris-Anne, is a 78 card Tarot deck with accompanying 112 page Guidebook. The cards and Guidebook come in s sturdy, lift-top box. This is a female oriented deck, created for the purpose of connecting with your inner Muse. In her introduction, Chris-Anne talks about this deck being both unorthodox and experimental. It is not meant to be a learning deck in the traditional sense of learning the Tarot. However, it definitely qualifies as a learning deck from the point of view of connecting with one’s inner Muse. Chris-Anne talks about learning about what inspires us, and the actions we can take to make our personal creative ventures a wild adventure. Through connecting with our Muse we connect with the magic in life. 

The traditional structure of the deck has been maintained, in terms of 22 Major Arcana cards and four suits of 14 cards each. The Major Arcana titles remain the same, with the exception of The Wheel of Fortune, which becomes The Wheel, The Hanged Man, which becomes the Hanged Muse, Judgment, which becomes Awakening, and The World, which becomes World Cosmos. Strength is 8, and Justice is 11. 

The four suits have been renamed to reflect their elemental qualities: Wands becomes Inspiration, Cups becomes Emotions, Swords becomes Voices, and Pentacles becomes Materials. The titles for the court cards remain the same, with the exception of the King, which becomes the Muse. 

The Guidebook presents the cards in text only, with title, keywords, prompt, write-up, and a short poem. There are no reading spreads presented. 

The cards are presented on cardstock that is easy to work with. The backs show a pink flowered border, surrounding a pastel green with a darker green shape in the middle, emanating white lines (bringing to mind energy). The card backs are reversible, 

The card faces are borderless, with the card titles for the Major Arcana at the bottom of the card, with the exception of The Wheel, Justice, Death, and The Tower , which carry the title at the top of the card. The Minor Arcana show the title either the top or the bottom of the card, with the Muses showing the title on the side of the card.  

The colors used in this deck are for the most part pastels, with the imagery being quite evocative. As with any really good divination deck, every time you use it you learn something new. 

From the book: 

  • The Priestess: keywords – intuitive, psychic dreams; prompt – sacred sheer 
  • Death: keywords – rebirth, regeneration; prompt – rites of passage 
  • The Moon: keywords – illusions, facing your fears; prompt – confusing reflections 
  • 9 of Inspiration: keywords – protection, setting boundaries; prompt – winds of defiance 
  • Ace of Emotions: keywords – new relationships, emotional intelligence 
  • Queen of Emotions: keywords – love, emotional intuition; prompt – tentacles of experience 
  • Page of Voices: keywords – curious, restless energy; prompt – frenetic understanding of stillness 
  • Knight of Materials: keywords – productivity and diligence paying off; prompt – the tasks of joy 
  • Muse of Voices: keywords – abundance, material success; prompt – dirt magick 

I found this deck to be a wonderful tool for self-reflection, inspiration, and healing. 

© July 202 Bonnie Cehovet   

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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in Tarot

 

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What Does The Ace oof Wands Tell Us About Life As We Know It?

 

The Steele Wizard Tarot, by Pamela Steele, 2006

This is one of my favorite decks, and I have not worked with it in a long time, so I asked it to share its wisdom with me today. I drew a random card for what we need to know about the world around us on this day, and how we can maintain a semblance of sanity during a pandemic that is keeping us sheltered at home, with many not working, scared about finances, health, relationships, and a myriad of other things. This is a lovely, clean-cut Ace, with the green leaves of new life surrounding it.

I love the sense of power that we see here, and the feeling of conscious thinking. We are at the beginning of a new phase of life globally. Changes that are coming will affect all people and all cultures. It is amazing to see the photos of wild animals coming back to roam in areas that urban sprawl had taken over. The canals in Italy are running clear, and are populated with dolphins. In Yosemite National Park we are seeing coyotes, bobcats, and bears reclaiming their territory. In north Wales, goats are coming down from the hills and taking over the streets. Without air pollution, we can actually see the land around us. Will this last once the pandemic is past its peak, and we are back at work and out in the streets? Probably not, but we are being given a clear view of what climate change is all about, and how we as humans brought it about. It is a thump on our head to change our ways!

We can be reborn, we can do things better, we can be better stewards of Mother Earth. Our current crisis has myriad pieces – medical, financial, political, educational. We can fully expect all of those major areas to see huge changes in the near future. Why did we not listen to the experts? Why were we not prepared? Why did we deny what we knew was coming?

It is of interest that the seven countries that have handled this crisis best are all headed by women (Germany –  Angela Merkel, Taiwan – Tsai Ing-wen, Norway – Erna Sloberg, New Zealand – Jacinda Ardern, Finland – Sanna Marin, Iceland – Katrin Jakobsdottir, Denmark – Mette Federiksen).

We need to accept that we have the power to change, and that while reality after the coronavirus will not be the same as reality before the coronavirus, it will be our reality, and it is filled with many possibilities. Many individuals, and many businesses (large and small) have stepped up to help people through this crisis. We have breweries making hand sanitizer, Formula 1 teams working to design and produce a breathing device called a CPAP to help those affected by the coronavirus, clothing designers putting their people to work on face masks. The list is endless.

I feel hope in the Ace of Wands that we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move forward with purpose.

Here is a link to a guide that will help you prepare for sheltering in place – https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/3/19/21177527/coronavirus-guide-shelter-at-home-preparedness.

(c) April 2020 Bonnie Cehovet
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Posted by on April 15, 2020 in Tarot

 

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Review: Tarot of the Golden Wheel

Tarot of the Golden Wheel

Author: Mila Losenko
Artist: Mila Losenko
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
2019
ISBN# 9781572819764

The “Tarot of the Golden Wheel” is a 78 card Tarot deck that comes with an 82 page guidebook/companion book. The structure of the deck is based on the Rider/Waite/Smith deck, with the following exceptions: the suit of Pentacles has been changed to the suit of Wheels. Strength is VIII, Justice is XI, and the court cards are Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

The theme for this deck was inspired by Slavic folk culture, and the magic and wisdom of Russian fairy tales. The Golden Wheel acts as a sacred symbol of karma, symbolizing motion and the never ending cycles of life, and the four seasons.

The cover to the guidebook/companion book shows a vibrant picture of the Three of Cups, with three women in traditional dress. In her introduction, Losenko indicates that the most important issue addressed by this deck is man and his relationship to nature.

The Major Arcana are presented by number, name, and keyword. This is followed by a lovely story that describes the energy of the card. Upright and reversed keywords are given.

 

The Minor Arcana are presented by number and suit, an overall keyword for the card, a short discussion of the card, and upright and reversed keywords.

The Court Cards are presented by title and suit, a short discussion of the card, and upright and reversed meanings. At the end of the book an eight card spread entitled the “Golden Wheel Spread” is presented.

The cards and guidebook/companion book come in a heavy cardboard, lift-top box. The cards are 3.2 inches by 5.6 inches, with reversible backs, and are borderless. The card number and title (for the Major Arcana), number and suit (for the minor arcana), title and suit (for the Court Cards) are printed in black on a white background at the bottom of the card.

The artwork is quite well done, realistic in manner, and makes use of beautiful pastels. The colors are basic and minimal, making the cards a pleasure to read. It is magical the manner in which the culture comes through in the lovely costumes.

The one quibble I would have with this deck is that the cards are a bit longer than a normal Tarot deck, and the card stock is a bit stiff. Both of these things make shuffling a bit difficult (especially if you have small hands, as I do).

I recommend this deck for those that might want to peek into another culture through the Tarot, for those that like pastels, and for those that like cards without borders.

© October 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
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Posted by on October 21, 2019 in Tarot

 

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Review – Tarot For Troubled Times: Confront Your Shadow, Heal Your Self, Transform The World

Tarot For Troubled Times:
Confront Your Shadow, Heal Your Self, Transform The World

 

Author: Shaheen Miro, Theresa Reed
Weiser Books
2019
ISBN #978-1578636556

I was drawn to this book totally based on its title – because these are troubled times. Then I started to think that denizens of all times might have considered their times troubled. The focus in this work is clear – it is on how the Tarot can help us deal with what we consider to be obstacles/difficulties in our lives. In other words, how we can deal with our shadows. Miro and Reed address the spiritual nature of the Tarot, and how we can move beyond our self-imposed limitations and discover the magic in our own lives.

The magic begins with the foundation of this book – that we can help ourselves through the use of the Tarot. That we can address our shadow sides through the 22 Major Arcana, and that we can come to embrace our shadows, and learn to work with them and through them. To heal ourselves, and to take that healing out into the world to help transform it. We are given a multitude of tools to work with, including specific Tarot spreads, affirmations, and journaling prompts.

In their introduction Miro and Reed acknowledge the general and political unrest that marks this time. They also note that this is a time when shadow work is a necessary part of life. They encourage us to be part of the solution. They define “Tarot For Troubled Times” as a handbook for personal evolution, social justice, and healing.

The Fool begins our journey, by defining the tools that we have available. The spiritual tools that we have available, such as meditation, affirmations, the Tarot, and magical rites. Anyone, from any background, can put these tools to best use. We are presented with journaling prompts to help us get a grasp on where we currently are in our understanding of ourselves. (These prompts continue on through the book.) My thought here would be to start a journal dedicated to working with this book. This is definitely not a read it and shelve it kind of book. It is a book to be worked with on a continuing basis, focusing on whatever most needs to be addressed in your life.

I am a great fan of thinkers such as Eckhart Tolle, the Dalai Lama, and Thich Nhat Hanh. A common thread with each of them is staying in the present, living in the present, being aware of what is happening around us, and how we are reacting to it. This is also one of the first things that Miro and Reed address. Specifically, they say “You cannot heal the pain or create the dream if you cannot be in the moment with every part of yourself as it is.” They also speak of the necessity of changing our perception about ourselves, so that we can become “coherent and congruent” with all of our parts. We have to know our shadow to come to peace with it.

From the book: “Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

I am very impressed with the tools that are offered in this book, including meditation, meta meditation, EFT, creating sacred space, working with ceremony, learning to go with the flow, working with breath, claiming your own space, working with energetic chords, empowering and protecting yourself, and visualization.

Miro and Reed view the Tarot as a mirror of ourselves. Every good Tarot reader knows this. They present the Major Arcanaas archetypes and ally’s on our journey of self-discovery and empowerment. They also present the birth card system as a way for us to know which cards in the Major Arcana lend their energy to us. There is a synopsis for each of the 22 cards, as well as suggestions for working with them. Each card is presented with a black and white scan (from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot), an affirmation, the positive traits and the shadow side, and actions to take.

Part of the package includes the Minor Arcana – the four suits of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with their basic energy and elemental associations.

The three powers of the Tarot are listed as (1) Tarot is diagnostic, (2) Tarot is retroactive, and (3) Tarot is creative. It is through these avenues that we work with the Tarot to heal ourselves. Spreads included are Body/Mind/Spirit, When You’re Feeling Low, The Grief Spread, Twelve Steps To Freedom Spread, When You’ve Relapsed, When Your Loved One Is An Addict, Moving On, The Compass Spread, and When You’re Struggling To Make A Decision. There are also tips on creating your own spread.

Do you believe in magic? Miro and Reed do, and they have a wonderful section on placing magic into our lives, including creating magic, working with candle magic, and working with magical rituals.

Another wonderful tool is working with the enmagic,ergy of each year. Miro and Reed show us how to calculate the number for any given year, and associating it with the energy of each of the 22 Major Arcana.

“Tarot For Troubled Times” is all about doing the inner work, manifesting personal change, and then taking that change out into the world to effect global change. This is a powerful book, a book that shows us the path to self-empowerment. As a writer, I commend the author’s for the manner in which they present their work, and for their choice of words. Their work carries the expectation of a certain level of intelligence in their reading audience – bravo! Kudos to Miro and Reed for putting themselves on the front line for what the Tarot represents, and what we can accomplish through working with it!

© June 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
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Posted by on June 18, 2019 in Tarot

 

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Review – Pamela Colman Smith – The Untold Story

Pamela Colman Smith
The Untold Story

Author: Stuart R. Kaplan, Mary K. Greer, Elizabeth Foley O’Connor, Melinda Boyd Parsons
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
2018
ISBN #978-1-57281-912-2

Where to start! “Pamela Colman Smith – The Untold Story” is a gorgeous, 440 page hard-bound book that is filled with wisdom, full color photos, and amazing inserts. It gifts us with a whole new perspective on this iconic lady! It is a large book (10.3” by 2.2” by 13.5”), written by four distinguished scholars (Stuart R. Kaplan, Mary K. Greer, Elizabeth Foley O’Connor, and Melinda Boyd Parsons). It includes: (1) over 400 color pictures of Pamela Coleman Smith’s non-Tarot work, (2) excerpts from her personal documents, correspondence, portraits and photographs, (3) rare archival material from leading museums and libraries (4) an extensive bibliography, (5) essays on the events and people in her life (such as Bram Stoker and Ellen Terry), and (6) a chronological survey of her folktales, art and poetry.

Before I begin my review, I would like to share a bit of information about the authors, so that the quality behind this book is understood. Stuart R. Kaplan is the founder of U.S. Games, and the gentleman who really brought the Tarot from Europe into the mainstream of the U.S. He is the author of “Tarot Cards for Fun and Fortune Telling”, and co-author, with Jean Huets, of volumes I-IV of “The Encyclopedia of Tarot”.

Mary K. Greer is a Tarot scholar, writer (her books include “Tarot For Yourself” and “Tarot Reversals”), speaker, professional Tarot consultant, and featured speaker at Tarot conferences in the U.S. and abroad.

Elizabeth Foley O’Connor is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington College, where she teaches classes in modernism, twentieth century British literature, postcolonial literature, and journalism. Her published work on Pamela Colman Smith includes the articles “‘We Disgruntled Devils Don’t Please Anyone: Pamela Colman Smith, The Green Sheaf, and Female Literary Networks”, and “Pamela Colman Smith’s Performative Primitivism”.

Melinda Boyd Parsons is a retired  Professor of Art History at the University of Memphis, whose published work includes “The Rediscovery of Pamela Colman Smith”, and “To all believers : the art of Pamela Colman Smith” (exhibited at the Delaware Art Museum, and The Art Museum, Princeton University).

In the Tarot world, we think of “Pixie” as the artist behind the Rider-Waite Tarot – but she was so much more! This book covers her personal history (early childhood and life in Jamaica), her work in miniature theater, her life as an art student, and her various personal projects.

There is an amazing section with work that most of us would not have seen before on her writing, poetry, and artwork. We are gifted with full color photos and text of her art and stories that could clearly make a stand alone book on their own!

We see Pixie in terms of her Tarot work, her work in film and media, her part in the mid-20th century Tarot Renaissance, how she fit in with A.E. Waite and the Golden Dawn Society, along with critical commentaries on her work.

There is an addendum at the end of the book that shows her birth and death certificate, an article that she wrote entitled “Should The Art Student Think?”, a black and white image of a brochure from 1911 from William Rider and Son’s advertising Tarot cards, Pixie’s passport application, a full page photo, and more. This is followed by an extensive bibliography.

Pixie was a woman for all seasons. Born in England, she lived for many years in Jamaica, where she recorded Jamaican folk tales and music. She was an artist and illustrator who attended the Pratt Institute (she is primarily known in the Tarot world for her work on the Rider-Waite Tarot cards), was involved in the theater in both an acting and a costume design capacity, and had forays into printing and publishing (she was a pioneer in publishing, founding the literary magazine The Green Sheaf). Her acquaintances included actress Ellen Terry, author Bram Stoker, poet and mystic A.E. Waite, photographer and promoter Alfred Stieglitz, actor Henry Irving, and poet W.B. Yeats.

“Pamela Colman Smith” is both an iconic work, and a very scholarly work. A great deal of time, energy, and thought has gone into it. Each of the four authors speak in their own voice, in their own section. Beginning with the cover, which shows a well-known photo of Pixie, with the title in gold inlay lettering, we are presented with quality and class. The front and back covers, with their facing pages, show male and female figures in colorful dress.

Throughout the book, at the sides and bottom of many pages, we see small artwork done in all black, monochromatic, and full color. It is eye catching, and amazingly well done. I had to ask what the term for this is – they are called “spot illustrations”.  In this book you will find material that has not been shared before, and that will give you a broader view of Pamela Colman Smith, her work, and how she fit into her times. This is a reference book all on its own! Many thanks to the authors for gifting us with such an in-depth, high quality work.

Many thanks to Stuart R. Kaplan for allowing me to share scans of the visual material from this book.

© August 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2018 in Tarot

 

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Review: Seeing the World – Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception

Seeing the World –
Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception

Author: Jean-Claude Flornoy
Translated and Annotated by: David Vine
Editions letarot.com
2018
ISBN #978-2-914820-14-1

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“Seeing the World – Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception” is the English translation of Jean-Claude Flornoy’s “Le pelerinage des bateleurs” (2007). A 332 page book, it is one of two iconic Tarot books that have recently come out (the other book being “Pamela Coleman Smith: The Untold Story”, by Stuart Kaplan, Mary K. Greer, Elizabeth Foley O’Connor, and Melinda Boyd Parsons).

This translation came into being in a very magical way, when translator David Vine began a correspondence with Jean-Claude Flornoy, which lead to them becoming friends. At one point Mr. Flornoy mentioned to Mr. Vine that he was terminally ill – his oncologist had given him two months to live. (I remember this time period, as there was a significant Tarot seminar being held in France that Mr. Flornoy was to be a presenter at. The Tarot world was excitedly looking forward to this – unfortunately, Mr. Flornoy died before the seminar. Mr. Vine offered to translate the entire book (he had already translated one chapter) into English, and see that it was published. Mr. Flornoy gratefully accepted his offer. The world was gifted with incredible wisdom as a result of these two small acts.

Before going any further, you need to realize that I not only highly respect French Tarot historian Jean-Claude Flornoy, and his work, but I hold him in awe. He has done amazing work on restoring early Marseille decks (the Tarot of Nicholas Conver, the Tarot of Jacques Vieville, the Tarot of Jean Noblet, and the Tarot of Jean Dodal), as well as addressing divination itself, Tarot symbolism, and viewing the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot as a “coded description” of the journey through life. Flornoy sees the Arcanum as the teaching which the Ancients, master builders of the Medieval cathedrals, chose to entrust to a game of cards.

Flornoy studied philosophy, worked as a potter-ceramicist, and was involved in the construction of a hydraulic power station in France, as well as studying the Tarot for twenty years. Several years ago I queried Mr. Flornoy about interviewing him. His wife, Roxanne, responded, as Mr. Flornoy did not speak English. The result was an amazing interview with both Roxanne and Jean-Claude! You can see it here:   http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/learn/interview_flornoy.shtml. I am also going to include a link to an interview by Tarotist Enrique Enriquez, a gentleman that I totally admire! http://www.tarot-history.com/Enrique-Enriquez/pages/itw-EE-15-02-2010-eng.html.

This book represents Jean-Claude Flornoy’s view of Tarot from a psychological view, as well as that of spiritual development. Flornoy’s basic precept is that the journey that Tarot depicts is a psychological journey, rather than a spiritual one. The book is broken down into seven parts – Part One: History and Legend of the Tarot; Part Two: Tarot, Kabbalah and Sufism; Part Three: Jean Noblet, Master Card Maker of Paris, c. 1650; Part Four: The Pilgrimage of the Bateleurs, a Commentary on the 22 Major Arcana; Part Five: How To Use the Marseilles Tarot; Part Six: The Minor Arcana; Part Seven: Appendices (Rules of the Game of Tarots, 1637; Text by Thierry Dupaulis: Jean Noblet, Paris, Mid-Seventeenth Century; Bibliography).

The section on Tarot history speaks for itself. Concerning the Knights Templar we read: “The light of the sacred was all but extinguished on Friday, October 13th in the year of 1307 with the arrest of the leading authorities of the Knights Templar and then, definitively so, after Black Tuesday, March 19th, 1314. That day was marked by the burning of the chief Templars at the stake in the middle of the river Seine in Paris on the Ile aux Juifs, that is, the Isle of the Jews (though some of the men were executed elsewhere).”

In relation to the construction sites at that time, we read: “On the construction sites of the churches and cathedrals, it was not only the art of the building and of working materials that was handed down, but also, through the work in stone, wood and glass, an entire consciousness was assimilated experientially. Transmitted orally, from master to journeyman and from journeyman to apprentice, the tradition was lived in the stone, through the stone. Now, with the “strike of the cathedrals”, suddenly that system was in collapse. No one could guarantee the payment of salaries on the sites. The journeymen and the masters were being hunted by the Inquisition. In the end, therefore, they emigrated.” (This is important, because Flornoy basis his work on the late medieval apprentice-compagnon-master school of the great cathedral builders.)

The introduction to the section on Jean Noblet notes that he came from an age when the tradition was still being transmitted from master engraver to craftsman engraver at an introductory level. This puts Noblet “nearer the source” than those who came after him. His work is unique in the smallness of the card size, and in its age (it is considered to be the oldest deck in the Marseilles tradition). Another part of this section that I found intriguing was Flornoy’s descriptions of what the different colors used in the cards stood for. (An example would be the color red, in connection to the pouring out of blood.)

Flornoy sees the journey of the Tarot (and of life) in the following sequence: First Series – Trump I (incarnation) through Trump V – childhood; Second Series – Trump VI (first passion, the opening of the heart) through Trump X – apprenticeship of the building of the mental body, of the ego; Third Series – Trump XI (the self-made individual, reconstruction within and through the world of matter and the heart) through Trump XV (the period of COMPAGNONNAGE, of the building of the emotional body accompanied by the return of tears, emotional catharsis, the way of the heart and the ascent of vital energy); Fourth Series – Trump XVI (to die before dying, journeying while alive to  the other side … of reality); Remaining Arcana XVII through XX (This is the period of MASTERY, of the building of the energy body, of one’s masterpiece, the end of fear, the period of being “all heart”, and of the beginning of true education.); Trump XXI (This is the period of WISDOM, of the building of the sublime body, of the participation of individual consciousness in the World Soul. It is the period proper to the Master of the Age.); Unnumbered Trump – LE FOU (LE MAT) (LE FOU excuses himself and takes his leave. He sits astride the moment, extricates himself from the world and from life in the here and now. Past and future have both disappeared from his everyday experience. He has become the Holy Fool, the Idiot Buddha, the Divine Anarchist.)”

In presenting each Arcanum (Trump), Flornoy shows a full page black and white scan, the Key to the Arcanum, the Gateway, a discussion of the card, and the images in the card. For example: Le Bateleur (The Juggler) is the Gateway to Childhood. The Key to the Arcanum is Incarnation. The discussion includes the concept of rebirth, of being one of the cards in the Tarot where the central figure strikes a pose, along with a discussion of the tools shown in the card.

There is a short preface that I loved in “How To Use The Marseilles Tarot”– it is entitled “How Not To Use The Marseilles Tarot”. There is a reason – you will have to purchase the book to find out why!

I am totally impressed with this work! Many thanks to David Vine for the care with which he did the interpretation of Jean-Claude Flornoy’s work. Two master craftsman, resulting in an incredible, iconic work!

“Seeing the World – Tarot Signposts on the Path to Perception” can be ordered here – http://www.tarot-history.com/boutique/.

© August 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2018 in Tarot

 

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