Category Archives: Tarot

A Tarot Grand Tableau Pt 2

Although houses can be used to quite some success when combining Tarot with a Grand Tableau, it probably isn’t the best starting point for a learner. Directions and smaller clusters of cards on the other hand, people get those quite quickly and easily and can apply them with very little skill or experience required.

What follows here are techniques I have garnered from various sources, I cannot claim them to be my own, although how I am using them is.

Box 1 – The overall meaning of the reading

2 of Cups, Page of Swords, 10 of Wands. A relationship is headed for troublesome news and quarrels, and the querent just can’t see the wood for the trees. This is the straw that broke the camels back.

Box 2 – The heart of the problem

10 of cups, Kn of Swords, 7 of Swords. Ohh boy we have the “happy home” matched up with the impulsive grudge holding knight with the pokey swords, he’s the only one in the deck who rushes away from the future, headlong as fast as he can, and what he is running from is the 7 of Swords, the Sneaky Pete card, if you think someones talking about you behind your back and this card comes up, then I bet a pound to a penny they are.

The 10 of cups is directly above the Knight so he is focussed on wanting that happily ever after even if it means making a few swift cuts along the way.

Box 3 – The querent (and their love interest if any).

6 of Swords, Strength. Although we are not using the house system it is really useful in a Tarot GT (and this interpretation of the original spread) to keep the “Man” and “Woman” houses, to represent the querent and the partner. It can give very interesting insight into each persons mindset and paired with the corner cards (marked with stars) can reveal previously unknown aspects to personality and intent. Here we have the “wife” studiously ignoring her husband in favour of her cat, the cat which we see echoed in the Queen of Wands, so “I ain’t saying she a gold digger but she ain’t messing with no broke” and the 7 of swords crowning her suggests she’s got a spiteful tongue and she’ll use it if she has too. Looking at the 2 of Cups, the Devil and the Ace of Wands I’d also be cautioning the “husband” to watch out she could use sex as a weapon too.

Box 4 – The outcome

Judgement, 4 of Coins. We are starting to move into predictive reading here, which is great. This suggests an amenable outcome to the divorce with the powers that be literally ruling from above in favour of the querent, financial stability and the hard earned cash will be theirs.

Arrow 1 – What is behind them

The Devil, 9 of Swords, Tower. Codependence and toxicity are a trap of their own making, sleepless nights will only cease if you are prepared to make a change. They’ve done their thinking, they’ve acted and now its all done bar for the shouting. They’ve worked through the heart ache mentally and its time to move on. What we don’t get here now by not including the house system is that the paperwork has been drawn up which we would have seen with the Lenormand houses of “Book” and “Letter”, this is where Lenormand can be far more succinct and fusing the two systems is really powerful.

Arrow 2 – What is in front of them

The future is relatively unknown at this point because the querent didn’t lay a full spread. But one thing is clear, growth an opportunity will take a front and centre role in the querent’s life once all this muck and gubbins is over.  And if we are going to get a little crude, that great big wand is a waving, so he looks like he will get some.

The 4 corners (marked by stars) Additional details of note that can shed additional light on the situation, see explanation of Box 3

This has all been written from a male querent’s point of view, but what if this was a woman that laid those spreads, well we don’t get to chose our clients. Best case scenario they are just a bit spoilt and selfish in which case a blunt read may have just saved a marriage as it may have bought them time to self reflect. If they were a narcissist there would be nothing I could do, they would protest their innocence, stamp and shout, declare me wrong and not making a connection possibly. Until they contact me again a few months later for another reading! And therein lies the true skill of a Tarot reader 😉

A Final Word…..

So using techniques from another system we can adequately interpret what on face value looks like one red hot mess of a spread, we have allowed the newbie reader to consider “houses” which really aren’t so different from the titles given to various card placements in more traditional spreads associated with the Tarot such as the horseshoe, Celtic cross or Wheel of the year. We have allowed them so search for connections in the cards to see deeper meaning, and we’ve looked at directionality, past, present, future and boxing, all in a hap hazard grid layout. By examining both approaches we can see that the interpretations are not so different, but that combining the two gives a more detailed picture. Not a bad knowledge dump for a shoddy meme. Can I reiterate, please folks don’t stop posting these spreads this is how you learn ignore the negative nellies, they are not your people!

I truly hope this helps someone, maybe inspires them to pick those cards back up, or for once stays a scoffing tongue when they see a spread like this.

Peace out xxx

 

 

 

 

A Tarot Grande Tableau – Pt 1

I thought I might start this post in a better frame of mind but at the time of writing I am sad to report that pointing out that its a bit mean to mock and also that lateral thinking could have been used to help the person is me wanting “to pwn people with my magical knowledge of leno”.  It never ceases to amaze me how unaware people truly are and how readily they attack rather than reconsider a point of view. But I shall continue regardless.

So let’s talk for a moment about the Lenormand GT as mentioned in my post yesterday, the GT is normally either 9×4 or 8×4+4. This uses every card in the Lenormand deck and each “slot” relates to a “house” (sort of a bit like in astrology) so position 1 in the spread relates to the Rider, 2 to the Clover etc. Then when you lay your cards down what you are seeing is the information relating to that area. So let’s say you get “The Ring” in the house of “Clover”, what does that mean, well depending upon the question it might mean success and good fortune regarding a business contract or maybe a marriage proposal.

These are not discrete interpretations though, not only does the card relate to the house within which is sits, it also relates the cards that are around it and even what card is in a reciprocal house. So whilst Ring in the house of Clover may seem very fortuitous, should The Clouds be in position 25 which is the house of the ring, then I would caution that the engagement may be short lived or overshadowed in some way.

Houses obviously aren’t necessarily very helpful when it comes to helping the beginner who laid the original spread which we looked at yesterday, especially when you consider the crude ad hoc nature of that spread. If the poster was a completely new then complicating the issue by mixing system is also a no-no from a teaching perspective, but for purposes of this post lets look at them briefly anyway as after all the whole point of this was to see the different ways that we could pick apart the original reading to help. (click back here to refresh your memory if you want)

So what could we do here with houses to help a person interpret the spread that was confusing them so much?

After studying the cards for a few moments my considered opinion is that the best way to go was to scrub out the houses where a card wasn’t laid. We are after all told that we should read what we see, and only what is relevant. Seems to me that maybe then those missing cards just aren’t relevant to the read!

Let’s have a look now at a few details. I am going to out on a limb and hazard a guess and suggest that this is a relationship read. There isn’t a lot of psychism here I am afraid, those cards are gnarly and there are far too many pointy swords and weepy cups for my liking. Also in my experience, I would say at least 70% of my clients ask me for a relationship read, even if they start the session by asking about career, or to find a lost object or help with a house move, it nearly always ends up with an “actually before we finish could we just look at my love life”. It’s just the way it is, human nature if you will, we all want to be loved and to be happy.

It’s not necessary to read every card here to get the main point of the read, it rarely is unless clients start asking deeper questions so my draw is to the bottom two lines primarily.

Here is my rationale as I would explain it:

Studiously ignoring what is going on around her, preferring to turn her focus away from the inevitable, the woman is oblivious to the actions of her husband (strength in the house of the Woman). He however is taking action and getting ready to move on from this toxic relationship no matter how painful and argumentative it may get (6 of Swords in the house of the Man with Kn of Swords above in Garden, Devil in the House of Ring) he’s going to try and take the money with him too, after all he worked hard for it (Judgement in the house of Fish and 10 of wands in the House of House *ha! thats a mouthful*). The divorce papers are drawn up, but he’s been having sleepless nights not knowing when to tell her. He knows his mean spirit wife, will bad mouth him (7 of Swords in the house of Mountain) which may cause complications and she will try and take him for everything he’s got (4 of Pentacles in the house of Anchor).

We could go into more details but let’s face it, there is plenty to go on right there and if its worth saying once its worth saying again. You do not have to read every card in a spread! It’s still not an ideal learning exercise though. Tomorrow we will look at how we can use directionality to help decipher the cards in a more beginner friendly way and also see if it changes the reading at all.

Lets talk about this meme shall we?

I don’t know who created this meme and even if I did I am not sure I would want to give them any credit*. Why? because to me it is indicative of a worrying trend I am seeing in certain parts of the Tarot community. The trend of mocking and gate-keeping.

Its also indicative that the meme maker was most-likely a little short on both knowledge and compassion.

What followed on the social media thread where it was posted was a lot of guffaws, laughter and out right piss taking. Here and there, one or two people said they felt sorry for whomever had posted it, others worried for the person saying it was s sign of a chaotic mind. I looked at it and went – Oh its almost a GT we could work with that.

So what is a GT (Grand Tableau/Große Tafel), well its a spread not often used in Tarot. Mostly found amongst Lenormand or Kipper readers it is a spread according to Cafe Lenormand that :-

“explains how you got to where you are at present, what you’re dealing with today (even what’s on your mind), and what will happen next. It will show external influences that you may not be aware of – such as a secret rival at work, a hidden health issue, or a friend lending you a helping hand. The insights the Grand Tableau gives you can help you to know what course of action to take to achieve the best possible outcome.

It’s an excellent spread for gaining an overall synopsis of your life and the months to come.” ~Cafe Lenormand

Normally a GT is laid out either as a 9×4 grid or as an 8×4+4 so as you can see this isn’t exactly correct but there is no reason why, with a little bit of lateral thinking, a sincere discussion couldn’t take place with the person who posted this and some semblance of a reading gleaned that would be both educational and helpful to all concerned.

But instead it was used to mock and scorn. I don’t know how you would feel but assuming this spread was a genuine one nabbed from one of the plethora of Tarot groups on social media (and there is no reason to assume otherwise because I have seen similar) if this was my photo and I came across this meme I would have been devastated. Maybe even devastated enough to put my cards away and not bring them back out again. And like that *poof* a potential Tarot star may fall into obscurity never to be heard of again. How sad. Shame Tarot community, shame, shame, shame.

So over the next week I am going to recreate this spread, use it as a teaching tool, not just to help all the people out there who have posted images like this on Tarot forums  – BTW keep doing it that’s how you learn – but also for those who were so quick to mock they forgot that they were once learners too. Remember that you’re never too experienced to look at things in a new way.

So look out tomorrow for Pt 1 of the Tarot Grand Tableau – A teaching tool!

*I will credit the deck however, thats only polite. It looks like the Centennial Waite by U.S Games but not being able to see the backs or get a clear look at the cards I’m guessing a bit here. Maybe some can come along and tell us.

Thank you Frieda, Lady Harris

“She devoted her genius to the Work. With incredible rapidity she picked up the rhythm, and with inexhaustible patience submitted to the correction of the fanatical slave-driver that she had invoked, often painting the same card as many as eight times until it measured up to his Vanadium Steel yardstick!”

― A. Crowley, The Book of Thoth

Ancestral Spirits play a huge part of Pagan and Magickal world view. For me this isn’t just blood Ancestors, although I’ve got a couple of pretty exciting ancestors in my history. If my fathers tales are to be believed my family line includes a Scottish Cattle raider and a sailor who went with Columbus to find the New World. But that is by the by. I also believe that our political, religious, spiritual and magickal ancestors should also be venerated. Their lives, their work, their struggles, have all contributed to who I am now. Had Emmeline Pankhurst and her sisters never been born I would not have been able to vote in our local elections last week. Thats worthy of rememberance.

Without Gerald Brosseau Gardner, Philip Peter Ross Nichols (who I have recently discovered went to school in the same village I grew up in) or Orrell Alexander Carter (Alex Sanders) I would not have the religious and philosophical view that I have. They are another form of ancestor. And I also venerate them accordingly. As a result my personal diary doesn’t just contain the important dates relating to family and friends it also lists the birth and death dates of other important people. This week we have the anniversary of the death of Helena Blavatsky and Frieda, Lady Harris. Both movers and shakers in the Occult world in the last 150 years.

I shall leave Mdme. Blavatsky for another day because her influence on the world probably deserves several posts dedicated just to her alone. But Lady Harris is currently of great personal interest for she, along with Moina Mathers and Pamela Coleman Smith form a Triad of talented mystical women who have shaped the face of the world of Tarot. One of my life’s great passions.

Much of late has been done to recognise Pamela ‘Pixie’ Coleman Smith and the part she played in the Rider Waite Smith deck. And not surprisingly because its is probably the most popular deck in the world. I know very few readers who didn’t start out life with some variation of this deck. But two other decks have also shaped the world of tarot, although they are somewhat less talked about. Possibly because their symbolism is a little bit more obscure, a little bit more abstract, and at times dare I say it, more beautiful.

The Thoth, sometimes called ‘The Aleister Crowley Thoth’ is to me as much the work of Lady Harris as it is of the Great Beast, as Crowley liked to call himself. And it is said that this deck is the stunning, complex, detailed and deeply occult deck it is today because Frieda encouraged Crowley to add his own knowledge and imagery to the work rather than just creating another derivative Book T inspired Tarot deck.

Born in 1877 Marguerite Frieda Harris seems to have lived the first half of her life in relative comfort and respectability. The daughter of a Surgeon she went on to marry an MP of the liberal party who thanks to a baronetcy awarded in the 1930s was entitled to call her self Lady Harris. There is an interesting quirk regarding this title. As the wife of a Baronet she was entitled to use the name Lady before her surname, so in formal situations she could be introduced ‘Lady Harris’ but in more informal situations she could not be called ‘Lady Frieda’. Thus when discussing her it is correct to call her Frieda, Lady Harris. However this didn’t seem to stop her from ‘adopting’ the name ‘Lady Frieda’ and it seems to have stuck. It’s not very common to read articles or listen to discussion involving her that use her correct title.

Although an apparently quite private conventional person, in my opinion this little quirk alone is indicative of a more free spirited personality hidden underneath. The fact that at the age of 60 she took up with the man who was known as ‘the wickedest man in the world’ to paint the most amazing tarot deck ever created cements that belief in my eyes. What is it they say, behind every strong man there is an even stronger woman and I truly believe that to be the case when it comes to Coleman-Smith, Mathers and Harris.

She was obviously a deeply loyal woman, she continued to care for Crowley supporting him both physically and financially right up until the end. She used her connections to promote gallery exhibitions of the original artwork for the deck. Helped finance the first run of 200 decks, and as a woman of means even paid Crowley an allowance to allow him to pursue his work in the Occult. And when his body (and many friends) failed him she provided nursing care. Finally she then gifted the original artwork to Crowley’s secretary Gerald Yorke before moving to India to live out her days.

She died on this day 11th of May 1962 in Srinagar Kashmir.

 

Travel well Lady Harris,  daughter of the firmament, may your artwork continue to inspire students of the Tarot and the Occult for generations to come.

A is for Apple

Two posts in one day, gosh I hear you say this blog is like the bus service nothing for ages and then two come along at once, well sort of. I wrote this back in early 2007 for an earlier incarnation of my blogging life, I’d actually forgotten about it, but somebody I know and respect brought up today the concept of beauty from a magickal perspective, and I was reminded of this. So I thought I would trot it out for a 2nd run around the block, I hope it is of interest.

Apple mythology and folklore abounds, it is found in ancient irish, greek, welsh, norse and english liturature. From Adam and Eve, through to Merlin and Vivianne it’s symbolism appears over and over again. After a visit from the apple lady a month or so back I took it upon myself to understand more about this fruit and what it means from a mythological and magical perspective.

That the Apple Lady chose to visit me came as no surprise, I grew up on a very large fruit farm, where apples were the primary crop. There is something very eery about an apple orchard at dusk, there is a presence as old as time, that will manifest under just the right conditions. It effects man and beast alike, I have seen domestic cats momentarily turn ferile, attacking anything in thier path and dogs shiver and yelp in fear at something that to the eye is not there.

Perhaps this occurance of the veil thinning in such a manner is a reflection of the long history man has had with this fruit, creation myths aside. Apples have been cultivated for millenia, although in the British Isles not in the format we most commonly think of, in all likelyhood most of the earlier apple tales would have referred to the “crab” apple, rather than a Granny Smith. But none the less this long relationship has ensured that it has a prominent place in our conciousness and subsequently our mythology.

Irish Mythology

Aillinn

The Ogham stave “Quirt” is most commonly taken to mean apple and more specifically the crab apple (although there is some contention about this amongst scholars), in an Irish myth Aillinn, the granddaughter of the king of Leinster, in true Romeo and Juliet style fell in love with Baile the heir to the throne of Ulster, these two kingdoms were sworn enemy’s and in true romantic tradgedy style the pair died, it was said that from Baile’s grave grew a Yew tree and from Aillinn’s an apple. These tree’s were purported to have been cut down by the Filidh (Irish poets) and the tradgedy was written upon them in Ogham. They were eventually gifted to Art son of Conn, but upon his reading them, they drew shut never to be opened again.

~ Theme, death and rebirth, knowledge and withheld knowledge.

Conle

A mysterious and beautiful woman appears one day to Conle, she throws an apple at him and then promptly disappears. Conle then exists on nothing but the flesh of this apple for an entire month, an becomes consumed by the thought of this woman. When she appears again to him, he follows her to the other world never to be see again.

~ Temptation, Journey to the otherworld, inability to return to this world.

Bran Mac Febal

After hearing a beautiful woman sing, he falls asleep and upon waking discovers he is holding the “silver bough” of Emain. This was a beautiful branch containing golden apples purported to have come from the apple tree in the centre of an Otherworldly Isle (the Irish version of Avalon). After many adventures he makes it Emain, where he stays for a long period of time, and for everyday that passed in Emain many more years passed in Erin (Ireland), home sickness eventually over takes him and his comrades and the resolve to return home, only to discover the pasing of time and the inability to return home. They too sail away never to be seen again.

~ Temptation, Journey to the Otherworld, inability to return to this world.

Cormac

One day a mysterious stranger appears to Cormac, carrying an apple branch containing golden apples, besotted with this treasure he agrees to trade his wife and children for this wondrous item. Eventually the thrall of the branches magic starts to wear off and realising his loss, he resolves to venture into the otherworld to find them. Upon arriving he is greeted by Mananan, who declares the branch was a lure. Discussion passes between them and Cormac enquires about the meaning of a sight he witnessed upon his journey. Mananan lies to Cormac and Cormac catches him out, but Mananan refuses to give him the answer. Later they fall asleep and wake in thier own beds in this world.

~ Temptation, Journey to the Otherworld, Knowledge and withheld Knowledge.

Cu Roi

His otherworldly wife betrays him for the love of Cu Chulain and he is slain. In some recensions of the story he hides his soul in an apple that resided in the stomach of a Salmon that would only surface every seven years.

~ Temptation, Death, Knowledge.

Welsh Mythology

Culwch and Olwen

Culwch journey’s to the otherworld to gain the hand of Yspadden, the giant’s daughter, Olwen; To win Olwen’s hand he has to complete many impossible tasks. He petitions Arthur his cousin to help him in these tasks, his aparell during his appearance in Arthur’s court, it that of a four cornered cloth of purple which has golden apples of great value on each corner.

~ Journey to the Otherworld, Epic Challenges, Giants.

Peredur

Hidden from the concept of war by his mother, a chance meeting with a group of knights; set him on the path of becoming a great warrior. One of the knights he encountered was Owain, who is described as the one “who kept track of the knight who had divided the apples in Arthur’s court”.

~ Epic Challenges, Knowledge and withheld Knowledge.

Afallach

Purported to be the father of Modron (Father of the Mother), his name possibly derives from the welsh word “afall” meaning apple.

Greek Mythology

Eris/Discord

Eris is snubbed when is not invited to a wedding, she turns up anyway and throws a golden apple (possibly from the garden of hersperides) inscribed with the word Kallisti, into the proceedings. Kallisti means to the fairest, the goddesses assembled argue over who this gift is intended for. This argument in a round about way sparked the Trojan war.

~ Temptation, Death

Hera

Gaia gifts Hera enchanted apples trees upon her marriage to Zeus. She plants them in the grove of immortality, also known as the Garden of Hesperides.

~ Otherworld, Immortality

Atlanta

After rejecting many suitors, Hippomenes asked Aphrodite to aid him in persuing his suit of Atlanta. Atlanta declares she will only marry a man who can beat her in a foot race, knowing full well that she cannot be beaten. Aphrodite gift’s Hippomene’s apples from Hesperides, and instructs him to drop them along the route as he run’s. Atlanta cannot help but pause to scoop up these treasures and thus looses the race.

~ Temptation, Epic Challenges

Herakles

Charged with pergorming twelve seemingly impossible tasks to atone for commiting infanticide. His 11th task was to gain the golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides. Later as a gift for achieving these tasks, he is given the gift of immortality.

~Epic Challenges, Immortality

Norse Mythology

Idunn

The keeper of the apples of immortality in Asguard, she is stolen and taken to the giant Pazi in Jotenheim. Without her apples, the gods start aging and a battle ensues between the gods and the giants, the gods eventually win and Idunn is restored to Asguard.

~Immortality

English / Arthurian Mythology

Morgana/Morgraine/Morgan Le Fey

Half sister to Arthur, she plots his downfall, yet at the brink of his death when he is mortally wounded; accepts him into Avalon (The Island of Apples) to heal him and keep him safe until the hour of Britains greatest need.

~ Immortaility, Death/Healing

Merlin

Having been driven mad after the loss of his men in battle, he retires to the forests of Cumbria, he laments his loss. “Nineteen were the apples trees which once stood here with thier fruit: they stand no longer. Who has stolen them from me, where have they gone so suddenly. Now I see them now not. So fate both supports and opposes me, letting me see and preventing me from seeing”.

~ Otherworld, Death/Healing, Knowledge and withheld knowledge.

Apples and the Tree of Life

I encountered my Apple Lady whilst scrying, specifically I was in Tipareth of Geburah (the beauty of severity), she entered via Nun the 24th path of the Tree of life, which joins Netzach (victory) with Tipareth (beauty), which corresponds to the 13th Tarot Trump – Death. This is the path of “The pain of the obligation”; Regardie describes it as “the path of hidden energies that, when aroused, leads to increasing levels of illumination”. He futher explains, “Outmoded ideas of the ’self’ evaproate as new self-images and ’similitudes’ form to replace them. The task of the student on this path is to let go of the old and yield to that which is unfamiliar”.

Many of these stories have common themes, death and resurrection, knowledge and hidden knowledge, temptation often by a beautiful woman, percieved impossible challenges. So what does the apple teach, who is the “Apple Lady”. She has a role in just about every pantheon and every mythology group, her role is that of transformation, of progression, challenges that elicit spiritual and magical growth often through a purification through death, death of apects of the practitioner that bind them or cause conflict within thier ego that prevents them from reaching thier potential, from discovering thier true will.

The Apple Lady offers you the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but to accept that fruit requires that step your feet along a path from which you cannot return, no matter how much you would wish it. And to eat that fruit will ensure that you will never be the same again. Possibly better, more complete, but undeniably different.