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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sherlock Holmes Card of the Day: 3 of Observation

The Sherlock Holmes Card of the Day is:
THREE OF OBSERVATION
3 of Swords


In The Sherlock Holmes Tarot by John Matthews and Wil Kinghan (Sterling Ethos), the suit of Observation (represented by an eye) is comparable to the suit of Swords. The quotation chosen to represent the entire suit of Observation is from The Red-Headed League: “This is a time for observation, not for talk.”

The Three of Observation depicts Holmes stares out a window into the streets of London. A newspaper in which he is accused of a blunder falls from his grasp. Here we see him during one of his struggles with moodiness and depression. The creators of this deck note that Holmes could be deeply affected by events, and he was keenly aware that there were times when his judgment could go astray. He remarked to Watson, “Once or twice in my career I feel that I have done more real harm by my discovery of the criminal than ever he had done by his crime.” (The Adventure of the Abbey Grange)

I find this to be a highly appropriate representation of the Three of Swords, which refers so often to a state of mind or perception that we have that might need to be explored or brought into perspective.

The Holmesian Wisdom for this card is a quote from The Naval Treaty: “The most difficult crime to track is the one which is purposeless.”

Keys for this card, upright, are: “sorrow, separation, loss, deep disappointment, possession of thoughts by jealousy, analysis of your receptivity to events.” Reversed, the card can suggest “alienation, quarrel, disorderliness, mistakes.”

The book that accompanies this deck also provides interpretations for each card under the headings “The Game” and “The Fog.” The former elaborates on the upright keys, while the latter expands on reversed meanings.

Examples from “The Game” for the Three of Observation: “personal troubles. . . brooding upon personal slights. . . bereavement following the loss of a partner or friend.”  Examples from “The Fog”: “denial that anything is wrong. Enjoying melancholia and letting it feed your creativity… Painful truths are revealed… A disaster is narrowly averted.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Listen to the Animals: Opossum

For this Tarot Notes feature, I pull one card from an animal-themed deck to represent an important message from that animal.

If you are interested in finding out who your own Animal Guides are, you can get an Animal Guides Reading through my _Etsy shop_ or my _Web Site_.

Today I am consulting the _Power Animal Oracle Cards_ by Steven D. Farmer, Ph.D., with illustrations by Eric Nesmith.


Our animal for today is the OPOSSUM
Keyword: Strategy
Message: Have a back-up Plan.
Additional Associations
Grasping; Agility; Maternal Instinct; Stability

The opossum is such an interesting creature, reviled by many due to its rat-like tail, beady eyes, and propensity for eating trash. I can tell you from personal experience that when you catch one by surprise and it hisses at you, showing its teeth, you want to remove yourself from its presence immediately!

In spite of all this, one of my friends who is involved in animal rescue has taken in baby opossums on more than one occasion, even letting them sleep with her in her bed. (They are kind of cute as babies…)

I was amazed to learn that there are more than 60 different species of opossum, the most notable being the Virginia opossum or common opossum, the only marsupial (pouched mammal) found in the United States and Canada.

photo by Gary Owens

A popular expression, “Playing Possum,” comes from the behavior of the Virginia opossum, who can appear to be dead when threatened. This is not something it consciously chooses to do. Rather, because of the stress of an imminent threat, the opossum instinctively goes into shock and enters a comatose state that can last from 40 minutes to four hours. (Opossums are not the only animal to do this. The ploy may put a predator off its guard and allow the prey animal to make its escape.)

Dr. Farmer chooses to relate the opossum to having a “Plan B, or at least a few other approaches to the subject of your inquiry.” He notes that it is important to listen to your inner promptings in order to become aware of options that were not obvious at first.

I will go with that, but I also think when the opossum is your “power animal” it may bring you the ability to know when to “play dumb” or “play dead.” The best response to a threat is NOT always to fight back, talk your way out, or immediately try to escape. I can see a certain advantage, in some situations, to simply remaining silent and waiting for your moment to make a move.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Facing the Gap: A Reading

I had a very Tarot-ful morning yesterday in which I:

  • Did a reading for a paying client using the Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso (U.S. Games, Inc.) 
  • Did a free 3-card reading through the American Tarot Association using Tarot Draconis by Davide Corsi (Lo Scarabeo)
  • Graded papers written by a student in my Basic Tarot class at the Magical Circle School, for which the student is using the Dragons Tarot by Manfredi Toraldo, with artwork by Geverino Baraldi (Lo Scarabeo)

It seemed only fitting that I spend at least part of the afternoon on a reading for Tarot Notes!

I am using a spread from the Complete Book of Tarot Spreads by Evelin Burger and Johannes Fiebig (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.) The spread is called “Facing the Gap.”


The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot (Karen Mahony, Alexandr Ukolov, Magic Realist Press) gets to play this time.

(1) This is possible. JUSTICE

Responsibility and Accountability

Well, I certainly hope Justice is possible. I can’t help thinking about all that is going on the world these days, and after all, Justice is from the Major Arcana – so perhaps is referring to something larger than my own personal world. The Justice card can represent the law, courts, and police (as shown on the card), but can also represent “true justice” rather than formal law. I confess that when I see the shootings and death all around this country, I feel a sense of despair, a fear that we, as mere humans, can never hope for that. The cards are telling me otherwise.

(2) This is important. TWO OF SWORDS

A Tale of Two Minds

As Sophie Nusslé writes in the book that accompanies The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot: The sword “is an instrument for fighting… a symbol of idealism and justice” with an “ability to cut, to refine, to distinguish, to make distinctions – and to perceive… what others might miss.” The Two of Swords can represent a divided mind or a stalemate, within ourselves or with another. It can also suggest peace or a “rest” in the midst of conflict – taking a break from the struggle to allow for real exchange and compromise.

(3) This is courageous. TEN OF CUPS

Family Bliss

One of the key phrases Nusslé assigns to this card in this deck is “culmination of the open heart.” Indeed, keeping our heart open is courageous and difficult in many situations. Accepting other human beings – especially those we feel at odds with -- as part of our larger family is possibly one of the most difficult and courageous things we can do. Nusslé writes: “You are changed forever when your heart opens, when you love and are loved and have realised all that love can bring.”

(4) This is futile. THE EMPEROR

The Boss

Any effort made by myself or any other individual to exert absolute control is futile. Although the motive may be “world peace,” the result is more likely to be “autocratic rule, oppression, unjust law.” (Nusslé) Those who insist that we need to “lay down the law” or “come down hard” on anyone who doesn’t fit in are doomed to failure. That approach is simply not going to address or solve the problem(s) that lead to disaster in this world. I am not saying we do not need structure, protection, and stability. I am saying that this card in this position seems to suggest that a heavy-handed, “I am the boss” approach just isn’t going to work. (I really don’t want to engage in political debate, but I’m looking at you, Donald Trump.)

(5) This is necessary. NINE OF COINS

Peaceful Enjoyment of Prosperity

“Security… enjoyment of the fruits of one’s work… return on investment… self-discipline balanced with appreciation of pleasure.” (Nusslé) The cards are saying that it would not only be “nice” is everyone could have this, it is NECESSARY if we are to overcome the ills of our world. As long as people do not have a sense of security and a feeling that their labors reap just rewards, we cannot have peace. Make no mistake, this card is typically about material prosperity, but I also see it as representing whatever makes us feel secure, stable, and successful. By the time we get to the Nine of any suit, we have traveled a certain distance and experienced quite a lot. There is no room here for laziness or lack of self-discipline. Neither is there room for oppression.

(6) This is joyful. KING OF COINS

Being joyful when you “have it all” seems like it would be easy. However, that is not true. Wealth, accomplishments, possessions, and power to not automatically lead to joy. At the same time, a lack of those things isn’t likely to bring joy either. What brings joy is having what we feel we need and want, the comforts and relationships that sustain and enrich us. There is no joy in the dark side of the King of Coins: “stubborn, stuffy, boss person, domestic tyrant, laziness and irresponsibility” (Nusslé) I think the potential for being joyful increases with the degree of autonomy, the extent to which we feel we are the “king” (ruler) of our world and our life, free to pursue what we need or want to pursue.

(7) This is funny. TEN OF COINS

The Gate to New Experiences

It is funny that once we reach a certain level of success, peace, security, prosperity, and comfort, we often immediately ask, “What’s next?” Perhaps some of us are content to sit in place, to become complacent, stagnant, or stuck in a rut. However, as Nusslé points out, “Paradoxically, it is the Ten of Coins, that most material card in the most material of suits, that invites you to cross the threshold.” Strive. Strive. Strive. Arrive. Only to start striving again. Yes, it is funny.

(8) This helps you to get ahead. EIGHT OF SWORDS

A Mind Hemmed In

At first blush, it is hard to see how being stuck, mentally or physically, can help us get ahead. Frustration, emotional constraints, and feeling “tied up” or “boxed in” seems negative. However, this is exactly the type of energy that can propel us forward. As Nusslé so wisely writes: “Very often, the mind can free us – either by finding ways to break out, or by liberating itself so any physical constraint does not feel so bad… The mind overcomes the constraint, the walls give way…” If you do not feel resistance or limitations, you cannot feel a need or desire to “break free” and you will not get ahead.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Old English Tarot: 5 of Batons

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
Five of Batons
by Helen Howell
Today I’m looking at the Old English 5 of Batons and comparing it to the more traditional Rider Waite card. The visual we have here is very different to the one more often depicted for the 5 Wands (Batons). When we look at the more traditional Rider Waite, we can see from the image of the five figures that they are in some sort of struggle. Now this could of course be just competitiveness but also it may well show us some sort of conflict going on.

In the Old English we get a completely different image, but it is one that delivers the same sentiment as its more traditional brother and that is competitiveness, struggles and a situation that can be trying and irritating.  What we see growing out of the brown soil is a crop that the farmer has planted and it is being besieged by a murder of crows in competition with each other for the prize of the food. Now no doubt this activity will be very irritating to the farmer and his efforts to protect his crop somewhat trying.

So there we have it, two cards with very different images both delivering the same sort of message, that is one of trying times, or competitive times. It can be telling us of the obstacles that one encounters in everyday life that can be frustrating to deal with but not necessarily that hard to overcome. After all, all the figures in the Rider Waite card need to do is learn to work together and as for the crows, well the farmer needs a really scary scarecrow!

LWB says: Struggle, labor, setbacks, unsatisfied desire.
Reversed: Trickery, contradiction, complexity.