My readings include forecasts not predictions. What’s the difference? Mainly presentation. Otherwise, very little. Forecasts are associated with technically based weather and economic predicting, nowadays largely based upon the interpretation of masses of computerised data, plus educated guesswork. A prediction is based on knowledge, experience, intuition or guesswork, and may be made in any context but is generally understood as being presented as almost a done deal, whereas a forecast deals in estimations of probabilities. I deal in probabilities.
Polls and other forecasts not infrequently get it wrong of course, as do fortune-tellers, no doubt.
When I talk to you about your present and past, as sensed and expressed through my Tarot or playing cards, you are in a position to evaluate what I am saying, and to validate it. When I address your question to do with likely future developments, no validation is possible; only time will tell; the future both exists and does not exist. You will die and so will I, the only things in life that are certain, so the saying goes, are death and taxes, and the taxes were only included as a joke.
But in-between, there are things within your direct personal control and things that are not, and a prediction may interfere, distract, block or stymie you, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy, while a forecast allows for the possibility of alternative outcomes depending on whether you do this next, or that next. This job or that job? This house or that house? This person or that person?
This freedom of choice may also be an illusion of course, just as ‘true’ objectivity is an impossibility, because we are always likely to do, and default to what is in our nature to do, regardless of advice, even when that advice is directly solicited. It is a wise and also essentially confident person who can, without instantly dismissing it, no knee-jerks, coolly pay out enough rope to listen to advice that is contrary to what they want or expect, or that challenges their own preferred version of events and vision of themselves and their past choices.
“Whatisbredinthebonewill not comeoutoftheflesh”, firstrecordedinEngland(inLatin) circa1290,widespreadinvarious versionssincethe15thcent.
The version I am used to says that what is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh…meaning, it will unavoidably manifest itself.
Norse mythology took a subtle view on prediction and the nature of destiny. Their Norns were not as absolutist as the Fates of Ancient Greece.
‘Wyrd’ is the Old English variant of the Norse word, ‘Urd’, referring to the destiny of each living thing, cast for them at birth by the three Norns. The Saxon variant is ‘wurd.’ The Well represents the Norse concept of the past – what we might now term birth memory, ancestral memory or the collective unconscious. The Norse view of destiny was that yes, it is written, but unlike the Fates of ancient Greek mythology, the destinies carved by the Norns can be overwritten…though does this pre-suppose that the hero on his or her life quest is aware of the existence and nature of that destiny and decides to challenge it?
The Well of Wyrd
She scrys alone; she is casting stones,
Disposing glyphs on graven runes,
No even numbers speak the Norns,
Wyrd runs water; she must deal,
In whisperings and Fates unsealed,
Winds of fortune shape and shatter,
Time, disposing of all matters,
Is Serpentine, the ouroboros,
Endless, rolling, still coils sinuous.
Circe by Waterhouse: Public Domain
“The Well of Urd corresponds to the past tense. It is the reservoir of completed or ongoing actions that nourish the tree and influence its growth. Yggdrasil, in turn, corresponds to the present tense, that which is being actualised here and now.
What of intention and necessity, then? This is the water that permeates the image, flowing up from the well into the tree, dripping from the leaves of the tree as dew, and returning to the well, where it then seeps back up into the tree.
Here, time is cyclical rather than linear. The present returns to the past, where it retroactively changes the past. The new past, in turn, is reabsorbed into a new present, whose originality is an outgrowth of the give-and-take between the waters of the well and the the waters of the tree.” Source and Further Reading:
One can see the flexibility of the Norns arising in the sphere of genetics.
It is not clear why blue eyes spread among ancient Europeans. One theory is that the gene could have helped to prevent eye disorders due to low light levels found in European winters, or that the trait spread because it was deemed sexually attractive.
Eh? I said to myself. Today began with a Tower moment?
No way does a Tower moment escape your attention. It basically says ‘kaboom’!
It may be an emotional shock. It may be physical. It may be getting fired from your job, or learning you have been lied to and now what are you going to do about it? It may be a plane crash, a storm, an earthquake, a tsunami, a detonated bomb.
The Tarot is somewhat under threat of ‘spiritual’ sanitisation these days. There’s a movement afoot to say Tarot’s Death card does not mean Death, the Tower card does not mean physical disaster. And the Eight of Swords no doubt, only means chagrin or an attitude of helplessness, and never means plumbing or toilets (which actually, it may do in my experience)
We are all so engaged in spiritual evolution, these rock bottom, immutable things will soon all be beneath our notice, except that we happen to inhabit the material as well as energetic plane, so had better engage with it while we are here.
But the oracular voice is older than anyone alive, and while it is a living oracle and therefore subject to vagaries of fashion in thinking, it must never lose sight of its roots and neglect the material plane. Life means struggle, Life demands Strength.
The Tower card is ruled by Mars, god of war.It’s day is Tuesday, named for Tyr, Norse god of war. If you ask when something will happen and then I draw the Tower card, it will likely happen on a Tuesday.
While Tarot is at times exceedingly subtle and The Death card may well not mean an actual physical death and the Tower card may not spell physical disaster, they well MIGHT. Real life readings for real life people demands respect, which means recognising terrible things really do happen, physically, and the reader needs to be prepared to acknowledge that and not seek to sugar coat Tarot with spiritual sounding avoidance, immediately jumping to say things along the lines of ‘the Death card. Well, this card means transformation.’
Oh does it? Does it now? Not that I am necessarily disagreeing, but try for a few specifics, and by the way, I do not wanna be transformed just yet, thank you. I’ve got things to do first, if the universe will allow it, and anyway I am transforming all the time, and so are you , like it or not, and hopefully not just with lines and wrinkles but with each new thing we learn .
And now that I thought about it, staring at my Tower card, I was being plum stupid. My day did indeed start with a teeny Tower moment. Teeny for me, but maybe not for some other living creature.
I can see the bird feeder from where I lie in bed in our first floor apartment. It hangs on the balcony door and it’s my delight to watch the songbirds arriving from about half seven. The robin arrives first and then the coal tit, and they each return a few times in quick succession, stocking up for the day.
This morning, a dark shape flared suddenly in the window followed by a smack and a thump as a bird hit the glass and the bird-feeder fell of its hook and dropped out of sight.
Il Matrimonio was out, pumping iron at the gym like a macho man, unless he was getting into quarrels with pensioners- again – and this is never too unlikely -the man is incorrigibly irritable and likely constitutionally deficient in Nat Phos -sodium phosphate.
I could not get up to see if there was an injured bird – pesky damn wheelchair business – and in fact when he got in ten minutes later, there was no bird. And no sign of loose feathers or blood.Even so a sparrowhawk could have come and snatched a bird of the feeder, hitting the pane in the process. Or else some little bird misjudged its flight. Either way, some bird got a shock, and so did I.
Was it the robin? I now draw The High Priestess, so probably it was.
Was it OK? Knight of Cups Reversed. Not really, poor thing. It had a fine fright.
But there was no Death card and I saw the robin again this afternoon, so hopefully, all’s well that ends well.
I was cackling peaceably into my cauldron as you do, ie; cooking lunch when Il Matrimonio meandered in, nonchalantly asking; what did it mean if you had lost something, and asked the Tarot where it was, and you drew the Page of Wands?
I paused in my stirring, and asked why. Il Matrimonio does not in general, derive interest from anything Tarot-related, unless he wishes to consult about financial matters, and, might I add, despite this not as yet – touch wood – coming back to bite him. He was not an accountant but would have made an excellently sound one.
His friend Ms X had lost her diary, she had just told him via ‘social meeja’. She is learning Tarot. She had looked in her deck of Tarot cards, asking where the diary was, and had drawn the Page of Wands but wasn’t sure what it might mean.
In general terms it means summer, a young person born under one of the Fire signs. It means a trip or a social gathering, or sudden good news, or a sale, or a bright idea for a new business or creative project. It might literally mean a candle, a torch or a cigarette.
But what did it mean in this particular situation? How could it help to find the missing diary in real, practical, where- the- eff- is- it, terms?
Using Tarot to locate lost objects can be quite a challenge. I once helped a client find a missing diamond ring, and she found it straight after she left me and went hom, after it had been missing for nearly three years.
I swear to God I acquired new grey hairs doing that reading. Not least at how the Tarot told me where it was. The lost ring was in the keeping of the dead, it said. The lady, a widow, swore blind the ring had rolled off her finger and under the bed as she was leaving for the airport, and she had left confidently expecting to retrieve it upon her return home, but it was never to be found again. Except that it was. She went home and found the ring on top of a furniture unit in the sitting room. Right next to her husband’s ashes. She needed a stepladder to climb up and see it prompted by that remark from the Tarot, that it was in the keeping of the dead. It was her wedding ring.
The Tarot’s imagery can prompt ideas or prompt the memory by visual cues and lateral association. Tarot reading very largely works on associative thinking although Logic has its part to play. Readers build their own relationships with the cards, over time and through practice. They embed their own memories and add their own meanings to the cards, so that one reader can never say another reader is wrong, saying that a card means this or that in real terms. Traditional meanings matter. They provide the overarching theme or thesis, but the specifics of interpretation arises from the reader’s own heart and soul.
Back to this missing diary. My response was to say, adding a glug of olive oil to the pan was that the card suggested she took it out with her and left it some local haunt. Why? Because:
Page = small. Wands = travel.
Additionally…or instead; I suggested, it was somewhere warm or loud, such as a radiator next to a TV, or in the kitchen near the oven. Wands is the suit of the south, of warmth and anywhere or anything noisy and quick.
He came back saying, Ms X had been adamant she never took the diary out with her, and I remarked that, well, it was between her and her own Tarot, but that card strongly suggested she would find it, and probably quickly.
Ms X shortly later remembered that she had been to the hairdressers earlier that same day. She returned and found the diary was on the arm of a sofa there, next to the stereo.
Let’s add ‘stereo’ and ‘hairdressers’, then, to the list of associations for the lively Page of Wands.
That’s how we do it. That’s how it’s done, and why Tarot divination is an on-going study, however long you’ve been doing it.
The rain beat down on the garage roof, washing August away, just as it had washed July away and most of June before that. The British Isles, like most of northern Europe, was losing its summer. It was coming soon, Joe thought, and fear gripped his belly.
He held Suzette, stroking her to calm himself while he considered the situation. Deciding when to put to sea was tricky. Too late would be…too late, but if he embarked too soon, he’d be eating into provisions unnecessarily. Noah had provisioned for a voyage lasting ten months, but then, he’d had the benefit of inside information.
‘We’ll be all right, Suzy, hinny,’ he told his pet, ‘I’ll make sure of that. But what am I going to do about the wife?’
Suzette cocked her head as if considering, her beady gaze held his, unblinking. Joe had tried to explain to Linda about the bird’s intelligence, but Linda detested Suzette, and said pigeons were thick, and they were vermin, and good for nothing but a pie. Joe knew better, and that that was just Linda’s jealousy talking. Suzette’s plumage was the colour of heather on the moors, or the hills at twilight, and with the little bird’s plump warmth in his hand, he always felt better, somehow.
He tidied away and she followed, pecking at wood shavings, picking them up and dropping them again until he was done and scooped her up, dropping a kiss on the top of the small head, hard as a nut, placing her in the cage he had built for her.
‘Sweet dreams, little hen. See you in the morning.’ The cage had everything he could think of; a nest box, a perch, toys, even a mirror. She had everything but the company of her own kind and the open sky, but Joe didn’t think she minded. He had reared her from a chick, hatching the egg in his beanie; she had never known anything else.
It was after five. Time to get the tea on before Linda came home from work. Joe went through into the house, there was a connecting door – straight into the hallway and no need to get wet.
Joe was an unemployed shipwright, nearly twenty years at Swan Hunter until the day came when they all got the chop and he had come home, stumbling with shock, his leaving cards in his hands, and walked in to find Linda, his wife, on the sofa on top of one of his friends. He’d never forget the look on her face as she ground her hips, looking down avid at the man on the sofa. Then she turned and saw him, and the look changed. Joe’s love for his wife died on the spot, snuffed out by the shock, though later when he calmed down, he understood why she’d done it.
They were childless. Joe was sad about it, but for Linda it was a sporadic madness, a devouring need she could not leave alone. I want more tests, she’d said. I want IVF. But Joe wouldn’t agree, and it wasn’t the money, though they had little enough of that to spare. No, it wasn’t that. But forcing gates just broke things in his experience, starting with the gate itself and now, he decided that Linda’s betrayal was not only a desperate attempt at a solution, but revenge.
Resisting his first terrible, desperate desire to punch her into the middle of next week – though he caught his friend later in an alley and gave him a kicking that left the other man retching on hands and knees, Joe mulled it over and decided he’d accept whatever blameless little cuckoo came as a result of this betrayal. He was even, secretly and not without a sense of shame, a little excited at the prospect and caught himself waiting, counting, watching for signs. But Linda’s plan, if that’s what it had been, came to nothing. Joe realised with the dullness of grief, there was not going to be any nestling. Not even a cuckoo. They talked about divorce but neither made the first move, and so they carried on, together but apart.
It was one night soon after this, that Joe had had The Dream. Had not God told Noah, hadn’t He solemnly promised, he would never do it again? But look what He was up to now! Flooding was never out of the news, rescue boats plying high streets the length and breadth of Britain and the price of everything going up. Lying as if paralysed in his solitary bed, staring sightless at the wall, Joe saw a land drowned by rain and river, sea and sky, and a wave that came as if from nowhere, the water cycle violently seeking new stasis as the ice caps melted.
He watched helpless, as a torrent came down the Tyne, bent bridges like hair grips and shoved them out to sea. People were swept away or crushed as they ran with their screeching children for the high places, and were overtaken. The Angel of the North looked on as buildings, bridges, roads were pulled apart like Lego, chewed and spat out. Afterwards came a hush, and the smell of rot, and the thriving of flies as the terrible silence and the empty days stretched on.
Everyone had nightmares and usually it was little more than a case of cheese at bedtime, Joe understood that perfectly well. But he also knew it could be something altogether different, something so much more. He’d foreseen his mother’s death in a dream and ignored it…it was only a dream, wasn’t it, and then, three days later they’d found her, dead on her bed, arm outstretched for the pills she’d been trying to reach, just as he’d seen in his dream.
There was indigestion, and there was prophecy, it wasn’t easy deciding which was which. Joe hadn’t forgiven himself for not going to his mother, he could not, and now, waking with a headache and needing to be sick, he decided this time, he would not turn away, to betray his vision. He would trust himself and carry out his own shipbuilding project. He did not tell anyone. Who would have believed him, and there was no-one he cared to confide in. But if a shipwright wasn’t up to the challenge, who was?
His decision made, Joe now had a plan, and was in oddly high spirits, negotiating the purchase of a little boat and two dinghies, spending every penny of his redundancy money. Linda spat fury. She even threw things, but Joe did not explain, didn’t make any attempt at trying to enlighten her, just stayed out of her way in the garage, customizing the boat, a seventeen-foot Arran, adding an outboard motor, a petrol tank and an automatic pump. He extended the tiny day cabin, and carpentered drop-down stabilizers, enabling the boat to function as a trimaran.
He applied himself, learning to use a compass and maps, he followed the shipping news. He took to hanging around the trawlers at Tynemouth until a skipper agreed to take him out as an unpaid pair of hands and he threw up all the way out and back again. Meteorology classes came next, and geography field trips with the Workers Education Institute.
Joe became a man of singular education, and though he had few certificates to show for it, he knew he was going to be put to the ultimate test, and he didn’t know when, but it would be soon. Meanwhile, he stopped seeing the few friends he’d kept in touch with after the thing with Linda, and kept his own counsel – the thing was too big, anyway, he wouldn’t have known how to set about telling people. He avoided Linda and he made the evening meal without fail every evening, his tribute for the uneasy peace between them, and was mixing a vinaigrette for a salad when the slam of the front door said Linda was home, and not in a good humour.
Linda Steel had one of those upside-down mouths that said she rarely smiled, and she was almost entirely sure she hated her husband with a passion. She would look at his lean, rangy body, and then his soft eyes, his soft mouth, almost flower-like in its softness, and think how deceptive were appearances. Joe was hard and cold, merciless and unyielding. He’d never touched her since that day. He barely ever even looked at her, never mind talked to her but he’d driven her to it, not listening to her about the baby. They ate in silence, rain oozing down the window panes, thick as dog slobber.
‘You do know it’s the Great Flood again, Linda?’ Joe said suddenly, over a forkful of tomato. She goggled at him, ‘You what?’
‘The Great Flood,’ he said, and took another mouthful. He had debated whether to say anything and had decided not to, but it seemed something within him had a different idea, some vestige of a love long dead, or just pity, ‘coming soon to a town near you. Want to ride it out with me, come with me on the boat? I’ll be taking it down to Tynemouth day after tomorrow.’
Linda spluttered and began to choke. Joe watched impassively. Her eyes were like gooseberries and he didn’t like gooseberries. Why did he used to think she was so pretty? It wasn’t until Linda’s face began to go purple that he scraped back his chair and slapped her back for her. Slap, slap, SLAP.
‘Water,’ she croaked, flapping her hand. He fetched it and sat down again. ‘You know,’ he went on as if nothing had happened, ‘we’ll need to be well out to sea when that wave comes in, not to get caught between it and the river. Then if we make it, if we can get clear, we’ll sail up to Hexham. Or mebbes the Cheviots. Whatever – Noah used the dove, Suzette’ll help us find the best place.’
‘I’d laugh,’ she said, still wheezing, ‘Except I’m not sure you’re joking? What have you been up to, Joe? Been at the wacky baccy, have we, out there in the garage? This isn’t Bangladesh or Japan. We don’t get tsunamis here.’
She drained the tumbler of water. ‘Aye, well,’ he said, clearing the plates. ‘We do actually. Ever heard of the Bristol tsunami, 1607? Ever heard there was a time once, you could walk from here to Denmark, till a tsunami drowned the land bridge? But never mind. Cassandra couldn’t tell them either.”
‘The wooden horse,’ Joe explained. ’She knew it was bad news, but you can’t tell people, can you? But I had to try. You’re still my wife, for what it’s worth.’
‘Oh, I see,’ she said, not seeing at all. ‘Well, thank you, kind sir, you bloody loony. I’m very grateful, I’m sure.’’
The Dream came to Joe again that night. Linda heard his whimpers through the wall, and thought, serves him right, turning over and pulling the duvet past her ears. Many a night she had cried herself to sleep.
Next day the boat was ready. One of the dinghies held provisions, while the other was for Linda, kitted with a week’s iron rations. Suzette perched on the rim preening, while Joe checked the inventories. Next evening he led Linda into the garage for instructions. She listened, arms folded, tapping her foot. ‘And how long may we expect this little jaunt to last?’ she said bitingly, ‘may one venture to ask when your lordship will be coming home?’
He sighed. ‘You don’t get it, do you, Linda?’
It was sausages and mash for tea, and Linda found sausages a lot easier to swallow than Joe’s prophecy, but watching the evening news, she was bound to agree things were getting alarming. ‘But it was as bad as this, almost, last year,’ she fretted, sitting alone with her coffee. ‘Nothing but rain and everyone ranting and raving about global warming. But August wasn’t too bad, and September, well, it was pretty good.’
Next morning they exchanged the barest of farewells. Linda spent the day at work dodging dripping ceilings and strategically positioned buckets, and came home to find he’d gone, the crackpot, just as he’d said, and so had the boat and that bloody useless bird. The silence boomed as she peeled off her sopping tights, and looked in the fridge. She couldn’t be bothered to cook. She made a cup of tea and cheese sandwiches instead, eating on the prowl, uneasy and unexpectedly lonely without her old enemy in range.
‘Well, pardon me for pointing this out’, she said to the empty room and the invisible Joe. ‘I’d hate to contradict you, Joe, but the world still appears to be here.’
But then in the small hours, something woke her. Strange noises in the street. She dashed to the window and looked out but the street was dark, the street lights were all out. A power cut again! She flung up the window and shrieked. Her car – everybody’s car – was heading down the street, borne on a rising tide. Other heads came poking out of windows, voices ascended, shrill with alarm. The street was a river. The river was growing. The rain was stabbing the earth to death.
Linda flew down the stairs and was met by water. She dragged the garage door open; a cold rill flowed round her thighs. Wading to the dinghy, her effort was impeded by the dark, and the ballooning of her pyjama bottoms. Linda sobbed, teeth chattering, as she flopped in bottom first, and fumbled to untie the mooring rope. Thank God she’d left the outer garage doors open as per Joe’s instructions. You’ll be trapped like a rat otherwise, he had warned her, and despite herself, despite everything, she had listened. Thank God.
‘Oh, Joe,’ she whimpered, and remembered all the ways she’d ever loved him, and he had loved her. And Joe had wanted her to make it, he had, sincerely, but she did not, all the same.
His vision was both correct and not. It was a point of technicality. Not the dam. The monstrous wave that came racing across the North Sea from Norway, the fatal collapse of a fjord wall, would have scuppered Linda’s frail chances for sure, but Joe’s pet had already secured the ultimate negative outcome. Rubber might not be tasty, but shredding it was a small amusement for a little bird in a moment of boredom, and now the idle activity of Suzette’s tiny beak slowly but surely laid waste Joe’s careful planning for his wife’s separate survival. Linda’s dead body went spinning down Church Street to St Peters, where her ankle got hooked in railings, and she was trapped there, a dancer graceful in eternal pilgrimage.
Joe came sailing in over her head some days later, coming in from the sea, following Suzette as they headed west under clear and sunny skies. The sea was blue again after the months of grey, and sparkling in the sun, but there were things in the water that did not bear looking at and Joe was careful not to look. What good would it do? The past was dead and gone. His new life started now.
First Published in ‘More Tonto Short Stories,’ by Tonto Press, 2007 . Performed at The Durham Book Fair, 2008 and & later, revised and published on-line with ‘Litro’ Magazine, 2014
Oh no! Oh, yes, I’m afraid. I wish it wasn’t so, but I undertake to demonstrate divination at work in the real world. Sometimes it’s fun, at least for me and I hope it is for you but sometimes it just can’t be. The title gives fair warning. Pass by if you can’t bear it, but if you’re learning Tarot, try to stay with it and not flinch. You may one day find yourself faced with someone in deep distress, hoping to find not solutions or advice, but some kind of sustenance, or at least meaning in their situation. The Tarot will rise to these occasions, if you will. because the Tarot is you, yourself, your deepest, archaic and arcane self.
Her Golden Tarot is another favourite, but one likes to ring the changes now and then.
It’s duckling time again out on the pond, and Nature is wreaking carnage, red in beak and claw. The most relentless predators by day are the sea-gulls. There are two duck mothers this season; one with an excellent track record of rearing and one with a dismal record. The successful mother has for the past 3 years, the neighbours downstairs tell us, reared at least 6 ducklings to independence from a brood of 12-15. The less successful mother loses them all and cries loudly. Anyone who says animals don’t feel what we do doesn’t watch closely enough. If they forget more quickly than we do, if they do, and I have my doubts, well, they need to, and it’s a blessed mercy.
It was cold, and the dismal duck was down to the last of her twelve ducklings on Monday night when Il Matrimonio went over to the pond to feed them, watching as the last duckling ran calling after its mother and she ignored it, eating and then wandering off. Maybe she had given up, and decided it was just no use, and all was lost.
A gull alighted, lingering near the duckling as it crouched shivering, calling for its mother. Seeing this Il Matrimonio could bear it no more, and it was not a ‘good’ thing to do; he knew that; we’ve watched enough David Attenborough, but there it is. The HUMAN animal, male as well as female, is hot-wired to respond to the cry of an infant in distress, and to the immediate, the personal and the particular.
Therefore, enter Il Matrimonio with one shivering duckling. By bedtime it had eaten enthusiastically (not bread; proprietary duck food) It had drunk lots, splashed about in a shallow dish and done much sitting in cupped hands, clearly regarding these as a warm place and acceptable brooding alternative.
It slept on a towel in the bath, curled into the lap of a large teddy bear. Next day it ran around, ate, drank, paddled, pecked my bare feet, calling for its mother, and was incessantly demanding of Il Matrimonio’s cupped hands for brooding.
‘What’s the plan?’ I fretted, ‘it’s been warmed and fed; it needs other ducks; it needs its mother, to go back as soon as possible and take its chances along with the other ducklings. Maybe the other duck will take it.’
Ducks can count, of course. There was no question of her being fooled by the appearance of an extra duckling.
‘It would be murder,’ said Il Matrimonio. The other duck was unlikely to accept it.
The one hope, and it was a long shot, was to get little D big enough to be safe from gulls, then return it in clement weather, and let it take its chances then. And indeed, it seemed to grow bigger even overnight.
But after Il Matrimonio brought D in on Monday night, I had drawn The Devil card, The Four of Coins and Death.
The Devil shows Pan/Nature in violent aspect. This is the truth, that Nature is full of violence. One creature or many creatures must die for another to live.
The Four of Coins represents holding on, a holding action, a brooding of money or other material possessions or objects.
Death speaks for itself. Many Tarot readers today won’t have it that the Death card may actually represent Death. Too unpalatable. Sorry to disagree. Call me old-fashioned, but the oracular mind is not susceptible to convenient reinvention.
The Death card does not always mean physical death, it is true. It may mean an ending in any other sense, or a transforming situation such as the ending of a job, or other situation, but to say it never does is to create the most enormous elephant in the room. Sometimes it has meant exactly what it says. Death as represented by this card is usually natural, often timely, rarely cruel or violent. There are worse cards the Tarot could use if it needed to communicate a sensing to do with such a terrible picture as that.
Last night at bedtime, little D looked so tired, head drooping as she sat in Il Matrimonio’s hands I felt a misgiving. I said, ‘she looks like she’s dying.’
‘Just a very tired little thing,’ he said, ‘aren’t you? Bed time! Yes!’
Little D passed away very early in the morning, found lying with her eyes shut, still warm, head snugged into the lap of the teddy bear.
Tears in my cup of tea.
Sick? I asked the Tarot? Had she got too cold? Stressed?
‘Strength Reversed’, replied the Tarot.
Little D had no strength left. It had all been just all too much.
She was too dead tired.
Read here for Mallard Duckling Rescue information.
It works by what Jung called synchronicity (see @Tarot Card Philosophy – HowStuffWorks.) The reader uses the imagery and numbers with all their associated symbolism to help them articulate their intuitive impressions more precisely.
Tarot is an old western esoteric artifact, but is only one of many available systems of divination.
The 78 cards offer a symbolic language. The reader ‘uploads’ a ‘programme’ by learning the meanings and associations of the cards. In a reading, the reader draws cards blindly and at random, and uses the imagery on the cards as a prompt, to share what they feel about a given person, situation or question. The thing that is most amazing, even uncanny, is the absolute relevance of cards drawn at random and blindly (being upside down when they are drawn). This is where the apparent miracle of synchronicity occurs.
The Wheel of Fortune; Public Domain
How does the reader choose cards supposedly at random, which so appropriately identify the enquirer’s situation or question? It can be darn spooky.
The answer is, the reader doesn’t know exactly. They simply trust, or learn to trust the unconscious process. What they have done is trained/strengthened a natural faculty by uploading a kind of programme or whether Tarot, or Astrology or Runes. There are many such ‘programmes’.
Sometimes the card does not actually contain literal relevant imagery. How could a deck of 78 cards contain all the possible images in the world? The cards deal with this by using archetypes, eg The Chariot = effort, progress, ambition, team work, or literally, a vehicle. Any vehicle or a driving job, or test.
Each card has a number of possible meanings attached, and this starts with book knowledge but the reader must still make a leap of intuition in deciding which meaning applies. Such a leap in the dark may result in a ‘psychic’ insight, where all existing book meanings for the card is bypassed and a unique meaning arrived at.
During one reading I drew the Page of Cups from the Universal Waite. The card generally signifies happy new developments, sometimes a welcome gift or a message. On this occasion, I looked at it and without thinking, asked the lady, did she ate a lot of those pink and white marshmallows? She was astonished and so was I, and we laughed when she opened her hand bag and there was a packet of those same marshmallows inside it.
It was the pink and white of the picture that leapt to my attention and prompted my question; the rest went into the background. How, exactly that happened, I do not know. I was almost but not equally astonished as my visitor and by now, take it for granted that a conference with the Tarot can result in these experiences.
Tarot accesses a natural talent of the most normal, ancient human mind. We all possess it. A ‘psychic’ reader is simply someone who noticed it, been interested and through study self training and often many years of practice, gone on to exercise and develop this natural ability, rather like a muscle of the mind.
Recently, there was a sudden death in the extended family circle. Not close to me, personally, but untimely and deeply sad, and I’d been seeing the Tower card for early June, ever since the end of April and had been holding myself slightly in readiness for unwelcome news. The Tower delivered more bad stuff after this sad event, and it’s still on-going, very sadly but it also did another job, to do with timing.
I asked the Tarot, what day of the week will V’s funeral be held?
I drew The Tower card and said to Il Matrimonio who’d asked. ‘I think it will be on a Tuesday.’
The Tower card corresponds to Mars, god of war, who is Tyr or Tew in Norse mythology, and Tyr gives his name to Tuesday. This ultimate warrior lost his hand in binding the great wolf Fenris, who threatened to eat the world.
Four days later we learned the funeral will be held on Tuesday 1 July.
Tarot and timing is notoriously tricky amongst readers, but there are a number of ways of having a stab at predicting when a thing might happen using the cards.
A dominance of Swords and Wands cards indicate now, soon or quickly. A dominance of Pentacles and Cups cards indicates later, gradually, delays.
Days of the Week correlations:
Monday The Moon card Tuesday, The Tower (Tyr’s/Tew’s day) Wednesday, The Magician (Odin’s/Woden’s day) Thursday, The Wheel of Fortune Friday, The Empress, Friday (Freya’s day) Saturday, (Saturn’s Day) The World card Sunday, the Sun card.
There is Tarot you learn by book study. Then there is the Tarot you develop through experience, in which you discover or allocate new meanings for the cards via association and your own intuition. An example from my own experience is in readings featuring the Eight of Swords.
Standard Keywords: Frustration, feeling trapped or stuck, being unable to see a way ahead, chagrin, mortification, sometimes melodrama. A drama queen. One may be making a mountain out of a molehill. Passivity, the person is awaiting rescue when she only has to step forward with care and negotiate past the fence of swords, but she lacks focus, or else the nerve to try.
This is what you will read in any Tarot study guide. But sometimes, you look at a card and think, no, that’s not it. Why not? Perhaps it makes no sense in the context of the discussion. What else is the Tarot trying…
I was looking in my cards to help Il Matrimonio. He was due to drive down to Leicester the following day, to meet with a telecom company with a view to a one off contract in Project Management. He wanted to know what hints and tips I might have for him, in consultation with the Tarot, and what was the forecast for the outcome.
I drew The Chariot Reversed, The Six of Pentacles and Judgement. This row of 3 cards represented the story arc and timeline for the next day.
Chariot Rev: Car trouble was possible, hopefully minor. I saw no injury. The following two cards were mitigating factors in deciding the problem was not too serious.
The Six of Pentacles: I felt they might not want to pay the proposed rate of £850 daily. I felt they would offer a rate in the £600’s.
Judgement: I saw a contract, comfortably acceptable as in the best interests of both parties.
I warned him to drive with extra caution and that the daily rate was the obstacle to be negotiated as the man himself did not have the final say on budget for the task, but had to refer it to committee.
There was nothing of sharp practise in respect of this to the best of my ability to detect. The Magician Reversed or the Seven of Swords would have been the signs of that, for me.
As it was a reading for Il Matrimonio I did not have long to wait to know the outcome.
The car problem was the exhaust. It pretty much fell off at Stoke. Fortunately he was not on the motorway at the time, and was able to carry out a temporary repair . He pulled in at a petrol station. He got oil on his shirt cuffs, and it was a bit fraught, but the car behaved thereafter and, getting the call, I booked it in at our local garage for next day.
The company wanted the service but already had a list of preferred suppliers in situ.
A rate of £650 was agreed and paperwork has now been signed with a contract for a few days work initially, perhaps more later. I feel there will be more because the Judgment card is like that. The Two of Swords also represnts a contractual agreement, but Judgement trumps it in terms of scale or longevity.
The Sixes in Tarot are generally indicative of something beneficial:
A lady had a number of things to discuss, seen from the first card layout. The 10 of Cups Reversed indicated that someone had left home and The King of Swords suggested this had been the man in her life. The Knight of Swords Reversed suggested there had been an element of shock about it. These facts, the lady confirmed.
There were several Swords cards, some upright, some reversed. I therefore asked about legal matters, to which she replied that I was mistaken if I thought she worked in a solicitors (because her booking email had come from a solicitors email address)
Nevertheless I replied that legal matters were indicated as relevant to her current situation, and it emerged later in the reading that there were major property matters to be sorted out between the two of them, which she had been holding fire on, in case of a reconciliation.
Sadly, he was with someone else now, and this looked extremely unlikely, as indicated by the Tarot, and we discussed ways to set about finalising matters and freeing herself from what, six months later, otherwise threatened to become a limbo of passive waiting.
The lady had questions about a business idea and I was able to answer these, but first, because she did not wish to tell me what the business idea was, I asked the Tarot and I drew the Six of Cups.
The Six of Cups: The Gilded Tarot:
By Kind Permission of Ciro Marchetti
This gentle card represents childhood, nostagia, old haunts and old friends. Its negative meanings are unhappy memories, a sad childhood, unhelpful sentiment, wallowing in nostalgia.
I suggested to the lady that the business idea was something to do with children and pets, toys and knick knacks. Perhaps picnic baskets? And, the number Six being symbolically associated with friends and local community, the business would probably be locally based rather than regionally or nationally distributed, or Internet based.
The lady was thinking of opening a gift shop in a nearby town centre. Aha!
Temperance suggested it was a good idea, the Three of Wands suggested eventual success, but the Wheel of Fortune Reversed suggested the time was not yet right for launching but might be better in another ten months to a year, while the Chariot card boded well for a partnership she was considering forming. I could just about ‘see’ another King coming into view, when the lady should feel ready, which was not yet. I sensed him about 18 months to two years away, and he was likely to be met through her new business activities. She might not be ready for that yet, but six months after what had felt like a blow to the heart (we had an appearance of the hurtful card the Three of Swords) the Tarot sensed she was ready to set a term on grieving for what she had lost, and move on.
True Tarot was so happy to see the signs a self-recovery set in motion, and brighter days not far ahead.
Click on this link for superstitions and symbolism associated with the Number Six
This could have been the theme for tarot blogs in recent unsettled weeks, in the fiery light of the London riots. In fact, I found my cards foreshadowed these events, and the tragedies that followed with the Tower card and the Ace of Swords Reversed. No, this is the story of a personal reading, in which I was struck by a definite theme.
There were Wands cards everywhere:-
Wands in Tarot is the equivalent of Clubs in playing cards and its corresponding element is fire.
The associations of this Tarot suit are: fire, energy. passion, drive, ambition, travel, communications, business, moving house, heading south, summer, speed, and speaking literally, such things as combustion engines, flames, hot foods…
The Five of Wandswas flagging up the client’s worries about disruption, gossip in her workplace and was indicating a certain amount of stress, even anger centering on failed communication.
The Page of Wands referred to a move at work that she was not happy about. It also referred to her reservations about a proposed house move. She had not fully realised just how uneasy the idea made her, she said, until she saw it reflected in the cards.
The Knight of Wands Rev. The man in her life had children and he didn’t want any more. She herself had no children. He had initially said he would consider having more, as she was helping look after his children, although they were not married. However, he had lately reconsidered and was saying no. This card spoke therefore of ardour dampened, ignition of new life denied.
The Queen of Wands Reversed referred to the client’s feelings about this situation. Astrologically speaking, she was a Queen of Pentacles, a Taurus queen. She was being shown as a Queen of Wands REv because her impulses were ruling her actions. Her common sense and her need for security, were being overruled by her passionate feelings, both happy and unhappy.
The King of Wands represented the man…an archetypal Wands figure, fun, dynamic, exciting, charismatic, but also, capable of carelessness, ruthlessness and selfishness. He could be chaotic and volatile and she had good reasons to feel cross.
Drawing another card of flames, The Devil I wondered what was her her job?
She couldn’t possibly be attached to the Fire Service, could she?
How was she to manage the flames of this relationship without getting burned? The Tarot’s answer came from the client’s own astrological suit…Pentacles.
The Tarot called for her to build and maintain a firewall of Taurean earth. to be able to enjoy the warmth of the flame in safe bounds.
What might this mean in practical terms?
The Four of Pentacles, the 10 of Pentacles and the Ace all asked her to reconsider begore agreeing to sell her house.
It was her own house, in her sole name, willed to her by a grandparent.
The Tarot could not have issued a louder warning against selling at urging of this man, her partner, without security of marriage.
Would she act on this?
True Tarot was secretly doubtful. Fire scorches earth, earth smothers fire, and what was the glue at work here?
The seductive power that’s also represented by that fiery Devil card. Uh oh. Can it be reasoned with, before it’s burned itself out? Does this golden oldie below remind you of the tarot card illustrated above?
Well, Valentine’s Day…get lost. (I say this though I am happily married, except for when I want to kill him)
Once upon a time you were a fertility festival called The Lupercal. Men in wolf masks ran about the streets of Rome, in honour of the fertility god Lupercus, and in memory of ther she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, symbolically thrashing (ie, lightly touching) any women they met who seemed of child bearing age. Any woman not wanting to be fertile had better have stayed indoors. Then Christianity claimed the festival, originally held on February 15th.
Valentine’s day, you’re a fabricated commercial-fest, but, still, you serve as a reminder of magical eyernal of the human condition – ‘that ol’ Devil called Love’.
The Devil speaks of passions and powerlessness. It betokens entrapment, frustration, a need to break free, even if the wish is not there.
Look at the picture below. The man and the woman are being held in bondage to one another and to ‘the Devil’…by the power of their animal nature; their physical passions (food, sex, drugs, alcohol, daily habits etc) to which they are ‘addicted’. In terms of human body chemistry, sexual passion might as well be regarded as an addiction.
I’ve only once encountered what you might call a vampire, in my professional reading work. One reading that left me so drained I had to go straight to bed afterwards, where I slept like a stone all night. My client was a very nice person to read for, but she was in the grip of ‘the Devil’ all right. She was married, with a passion for another man, also married. She was a good looking and glamorous lady. I could tell from the cards that the man had powerful charisma. In fact I had a ‘psychic’ moment and guessed who it was. He worked in the entertainment industry. She was shocked that I guessed his identity (but no more than I was!) All at once I seemed to ‘see’ him, looking out over her shoulder from the cards. I felt she might get a taste of what she was hoping for, but if she did, I could see no ‘happy ending.’
It was like being in a negative vortex. I hope she got free of her wish in time.
The Rider-Waite’s Devil card: U.S Games Systems
The Devil’s appeared in 3 readings recently, and each time drawn coupled with the Moon card, which signifies ‘hunting,’ fantasy, and emotional extremes. In each case, someone was having a hard time struggling to let go of a romantic relationship but it was now time they must. They were no longer welcome. In fact, one was now in danger of behaving like a stalker, although on none of these occasions did I personally feel anything like the negative physical impact of the ‘show biz’ lovers. But show biz is ‘ego, ego’ and a powerful aura, positive or negative is perhaps to be anticipated in such readings.
William Blake’s lllustration ‘A Whirlwind of Lovers’…from Dante’s Divine Comedy. where obsession Has Consigned the Lovers To A ‘Circle Of Hell’…meaning in Tarot…an unfree state of mind.
The Devil card drawn upside down, or in Tarot-speak Reversed or Ill-Dignified, is usually better for being drawn upside-down, as it often denotes clarity and liberation. So if you’re trying to give up a habit that’s proving harmful or restrictive to you it’s a sign you’re going to be able to kick that habit, whether it’s physical or behavioural.
The Devil’s a card known, with justice, for its powerful negative aspects. It speaks of fear, frustration, anger, unhealthy habits, obsession and addiction, and the evil that can ensue from these things. Usually, the situation that it’s referring to could do with overturning. The tough news is that it’s going to have to be you that overturns it, and maybe too, there is no real solution and the situation meantime must just be endured.
But The Devil isn’t all bad. As an image of Pan, god of all wild creatures, rather than in its guise as Christianity’s Devil, this beastly card is still strong stuff requiring careful handling but it signifies desire, animal magnetism, focus and passion…
It is charisma. It is a drive and passion to create. It is our connecetion to our roots in earth and our general animal vitality – (steady tiger!) – a strong glue for keeping relationships together over the long haul. As they say, a little of what you fancy does you good.
The anger of The Devil also comes in handy just now and then, should you be unfortunate enough to find yourself dealing with any bullies or tin pot gods. Let that Devil look out of your eyes, as you politely say ‘I beg your pardon?’
If a glimpse of your inner Devil wins you a bit of respite, and pushes cr*p out of your space, there’s not much the matter with that either.
No. The Devil’s not always bad. The challenge is to keep him in his place and not feed him too often, letting him get too powerful.
Just make sure it’s your naughty devil, or cheeky imp, that’s under control and inside the cage. Not you.