While my last Q&A was about the overall spirituality in my life, I have received so many practical questions about reading and studying Tarot, I thought it would be helpful to answer some of them. As always, feel free to send me questions in any format you wish, including in the comments and I will be sure to add them into the next Q&A session.
What kind of other disciplines (if any) do you tie in with your Tarot practice?
This is one that many people have asked! It is definitely easier to read Tarot, if you don’t do it exclusively, but rather draw from an extended pool of knowledge you have from several mystical traditions. Methodically speaking, I use a lot of Kabbalah in my Tarot readings, and the Tree of Life is definitely the coat-rack on which I hang my own interpretations. In addition to that, I take a lot from Thelema, O.T.O and the Golden Dawn; I also rely on heavily studying the history of symbols through the ages, and relating them to several pan-cultural archetypes.
I always take elements into account, but not always elemental dignities. I very rarely use reversals, but I make a note of them, if I feel that it is pertinent. I don’t really use modern astrology, but I do use classical planets and the classical Zodiac correspondences for the Major Arcana. Not overly, though.
As for all kinds of props, I don’t use any (crystals, sage, reading cloths or whatnot), but sometimes I do like to burn natural incense or white sage – I adore the smell. If I want to feel really special, I will use a shawl as a reading cloth and put some props up, but it is not really a ritual, just something fun.
You gave me a reading which had the same card that the last one, but the meaning was different. Why?
The card represents an archetype of a situation, energy, person etc. It does lay a blueprint of the situation, but what is even more important, is to look at the other cards in the reading and take into account their influences (or the lack of). If a card is your only Wands card on the table in a sea of Swords, it means very different things than, say, being one of many – or being one amongst many Cups. Patterns, positions, pairings – it all plays a role and influences what the card means. I didn’t study Tarot from a book that gave lexical meanings to the cards, and I don’t intend to go to that method any time soon. Tarot is about storytelling, not copy-pasting.
How do you do online readings?
I read for an app online, which gives me a little bit of information on the sitter, a pre-chosen spread (there are 3 choices for the sitter), and a selection of cards from a selection of decks. I usually lay the cards out physically as well – I feel it helps me ground myself. Actually, when I started doing that, I found it to be an awesome learning experience, especially regarding my patience: if the message was clear, I would give it to the sitter in 1-2 sentences or maybe 10 minutes, and then we could move on to looking at other problems or situation. That app requires you to write at least 1000 characters per card (which amounts to 3000 characters for a 3-card spread), so that has really made me appreciate the amount of information you get from each spread. Yes, okay, it might be clear to me, but the sitter deserves to know it all!
When I do e-mail readings, I have a design template where I write a personal introduction – what spread I used, which deck I chose and why, and add a photograph of the reading. Then I write the interpretation – short listing for each card, long interpretation of the whole reading. Whenever possible (or appropriate) I add a small abstract at the top, to give a brief overview if the sitter is looking for a clear answer.
I actually love doing online readings – they are quite different from face-to-face ones. Personal sessions are very similar to counselling, and it is the process that matters more. Also – the sitter gets to speak a lot and often, this is what people come for. Online readings allow me to go really deep into the matter (like, really deep), so it is a completely different experience for both me and the querent.
What decks do you use for readings?
To be honest, I rotate between different decks and I don’t have any logic behind it – if I feel I must use a certain deck, so I will. For querents, I usually choose a deck myself (which kind of becomes a part of the reading), or let them choose if they wish to do so.
That said, of course I have some “favourites”, the most obvious being my dear Sacred Rose Tarot, which is my absolute go-to deck.
Tarot Illuminati is one that I don’t especially like aesthetically, but the clarity it offers in readings is uncanny! I use it for many online readings and it never fails to deliver.
Archeon Tarot has been a love affair of mine for years and I use it mainly for shadow work. A very deep, enchanting deck.
Shadowscapes Tarot is another favourite, especially when reading for people who are new to Tarot. It doesn’t offer very good readings, but since it is so stunning to look at, noone usually minds!
Do you have any Tarot rituals?
I don’t really use any props (unless I’m in the mood), but I do like to drink tea while I’m reading. My absolute favourite tea is Earl Grey, which I drink more in a day than a colonial British household in a month. Having a warm beverage at hand is something that has grown to be a part of my Tarot experience (or any other experience, truth be told).
I’m studying and studying, but I can’t get the hang of it. Should I just quit trying?
This is another one I hear way too often. If you can’t get the hang of it, stop studying in the way that you have. It is obviously not working. Don’t try to be lexical. Create flash journals. Write what you feel about each card. Meditate. Carry the cards in your purse. Draw dailies. Try to describe mundane situations in Tarot cards. Write a short story, using a card per sentence or paragraph. Enjoy it! Tarot is not meant to be a chore.
That said, if you are really serious about it, do study – but not the meanings. Rather, try to create a strong foundation in, say, Kabbalah, or read anything you can from Crowley (or other Tarot books that go deeper). It is important to create a cohesive system for yourself, rather than just mechanically study meanings by heart.
What is on your Tarot wishlist?
I have a very long Tarot wishlist! But if we are talking those hard to get, I am dreaming of Tarot Rikit, the original Bonefire, and Vertigo. If I ever get massively lucky, then my holy grail is Fantastical Tarot…I would also absolutely love the Zerner-Farber Tarot (the original borderless one with colour-coded titles).
On my get-soon-if-possible list are Dark Carnival, Japaridze, Lumina and Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot.
What is your favourite Tarot card?
The card I feel that resonates most with me is the Star, although my birth card is the Empress. Funnily enough, I don’t find many beautiful Stars in the decks – Fantastical Tarot and Thoth being good exceptions to the rule.
My favourite-ever Tarot quote comes from Landscapes of the Abyss by Marie White, also about the Star card:
In the Darkness that is the Tower, the Star shall guide you home
I usually take a look at the High Priestess and the Queen of Swords, as I feel that these cards speak of the creator and the deck in an uncanny manner. This approach has never let me down.