Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Is Valerie Still Alive?

If, by any chance, you are planning to read the novel Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter or if you watch the Inspector Morse television series, you may not want to read this post, as it reveals the ending of the story!

I have been experimenting with oracle cards lately by doing Yes/No spreads. On a couple of occasions, my friend Helen has pulled Tarot cards to answer the same question, just to see how similar the two readings might be. We decided to team up again and share the results here on Tarot Notes.

This time, I am using the Mystical Kipper fortunetelling cards by Regula Elizabeth Fiechter (AGM Urania). My question comes from a novel in which a teenage girl named Valerie disappeared about six months ago. The police had been treating it as a runaway situation, but as the novel begins, a new detective assigned to the case is convinced that Valerie is dead, even though her parents recently received a note signed by her, telling them that she is fine and not to keep looking for her.

So the question is: Is Valerie still alive?

Before reading any further in the novel, I am drawing cards to answer that question.

In the method I am using, even-numbered cards represent the answer “Yes” and odd-numbered cards are “No.” Let’s see what answer the Mystical Kipper gives to my question.

Bereavement (19) – Wow. Being an odd-numbered card, this one suggests that No, Valerie is not still alive. And it’s called Bereavement. Can we get any more direct, obvious, or on-point?

A Journey (10) – An even-numbered card, which suggests the answer “Yes.” An appropriate card for Valerie’s situation, as she disappeared from a small town in England, and the note her parents received was postmarked from London – which does indicate that she went on a journey, traveling away from home.

Military Person (22) – Another even-numbered card, suggesting a “Yes” answer, and also intimating that perhaps a military person is involved or was involved in Valerie’s disappearance or in her current life away from home. Regula Elizabeth Fiechter tells us that this card “has the quality to emphasize and underline a fact that shows in the card’s layout. It tells you that this particular matter is to be expected just so.” But which of the two other cards is the “fact” of the matter?

Let’s see what Helen’s cards can tell us!

Helen writes:

“I am using the Hanson Roberts Tarot by by Mary Hanson-Roberts (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) and my Yes/No spread that works this way:

- Deal out cards until either you get an ace or get to the 13th card, then start a new pile and repeat once more
- You should end up with three separate piles either consisting of 13 cards each or stopping at an ace before the 13th card.
- 3 Aces = Yes, 2 Aces = probably yes, 1 Ace = probably no, No Aces = No

The cards seem to think that it’s probably unlikely that Valerie is still alive.  In this line up of three we have The Emperor, Wheel of Fortune, and Ace of Cups. What does this tell me?

Well, the Wheel of Fortune seems to indicate that things are not as balanced as one may hope, perhaps for Valerie they have taken a down turn. There is a person who’s in control. He’s strong and cannot be manipulated and he’s the one that calls the shots. I think that the Ace represents Valerie and shows the overflow of emotion that she felt/feels. I think she may have known her kidnapper. The Ace indicates that she panicked, acted on a rush of feeling, and her actions may have backfired. The wheel may have turned in the wrong direction for her. However it is the Wheel of Fortune and there is just a slight possibility that she may be alive. The Emperor is not a forgiving  man, he does what it takes to stay in control.

In these cards we have a number 4 which in tarot can represent stability and structure but also if you think of four walls it can indicate entrapment. The Emperor I think represents what is holding her where she is. The wheel is number 10 (1+0 = 1). It’s endings and beginnings all in one number and also the Ace is a 1. 1 is the number that  indicates a new beginning, now, for Valerie, whether it is in this world or the next, we’ll have to see.

All in all the cards seem to offer no real hope for her survival and they think that the odds are against her.”

Now for the reveal!

Ultimately, near the end of the novel, we learn that Valerie is alive. However, over the course of the story, the author cleverly flips readers back and forth, up and down, so that we think for a time that she must be dead, then we are certain she must be alive, and then back the other way again.

The detective in the novel starts out being certain Valerie is dead. At one point, he decides she is alive but Valerie herself tricks him into thinking he is wrong. Eventually, he does confirm that she is living under an assumed identity, but she vanishes again, having committed a murder in the meantime for which she does not want to be arrested.

Both Helen and I drew a card representing authority and control (Military Person for me, The Emperor for Helen). I see this as perhaps referring to the detective in the novel, an authority figure who wants and needs to have the situation “under control.” A quote from the book: “Morse slept fitfully that night. Broken images littered his mind, like the broken glass strewn about the rubbish tip. He tossed and turned, but the merry-ground was out of control.”

Helen’s Ace of Cups does reflect Valerie’s emotionally motivated actions throughout the novel (most of which we only learn about late in the story).

I now see the Bereavement card as referring to the murder that Valerie commits. Morse expects to find a dead body – namely Valerie’s – but when a body does turn up, it is that of someone he considered a suspect in Valerie’s disappearance.

The Journey, as I mentioned before, shows how Valerie traveled far from home – first to end an unwanted pregnancy, and later to escape being arrested for murdering someone who had wronged both Valerie and her mother.

Helen’s Wheel of Fortune card seems to apply quite well to the ups and downs of the detective’s efforts to solve the case, as well as Valerie’s own “ups and downs” in her life and the decisions she makes. One reviewer described the novel as a “spiralling and dizzying collection of dead ends, mistakes, and good fortune.”

The “entrapment” suggested by the number Four in Helen’s reading seems to be of Valerie’s own making. By trying to hide her identity and then murdering someone, she paints herself into quite a corner! As to the number One, Valerie did try to make a new beginning under a false identity, and at the end of the book, she flees the country in hopes of starting over again without paying for her crime.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

10 of Swords: Astrological Associations

Astrological associations for the Minor Arcana cards typically involve a planet, a zodiac sign, and/or a house. The attributions established by the Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) are by far the most commonly used. However, there are other associations out there. As a professional astrologer, I find it interesting to compare and contrast these associations. (The use of astrological associations with Tarot is completely up to the reader. This is intended to be interesting and fun!)

Credits for the decks and books mentioned in this post can be found HERE.


Thoth Tarot
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley

For Crowley and the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ten of Swords is linked with the Sun (identity, ego) and the sign Gemini (a mutable Air sign known for being intellectual).

Crowley titles the card "Ruin" and notes "The mercurial airy quality of the Sign [Gemini] serves to disperse [the Sun’s] rays; this card shows the disruption and disorder of harmonious and stable energy.” Hajo Banzhaf and Brigitte Theler (in Keywords for the Crowley Tarot) describe the energy of the card as "fragmentation (Gemini) of vital force (Sun).”

Whispering Tarot
The Whispering Tarot by Liz Hazel

Liz Hazel's astrological associations for the Ten of Swords align with those of Crowley and the Golden Dawn: Sun/Gemini. Hazel's DMs for this card include: "the death of a concept or idea that was ahead of its time. . . the journey of a soul from the old body to the new. . . if well-dignified, may indicate that an ending is welcome, or a project is completed. A welcome release; relief." Ill-dignified DMs include: "divorce; separation, permanent ending, finalities. The last word. . . Looking forward to a new start, but still seeking exactly what that will be.”

One World Tarot
One World Tarot by Crystal Love

Crystal Love associates the Ten of Swords with the third subdivision of Aquarius (natural ruler Uranus; subruler the Moon). She writes: "The Moon ruling this subdivision indicates changeability and melancholy, solitude, strange terrors and weird experiences. An instability in the emotional nature may be cruel and impersonal, and the tendency is to unusual or erratic behavior.”

Mandala Astrological Tarot

The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann

Mann associates the Ten of Swords with the energy of  Uranus in Gemini. Mann calls Swords Eight, Nine, and Ten "The Vibrations of Gemini," and links the Ten of Swords with the period between June 11-20. Pale yellow is the color associated with Uranus and orange is associated with Gemini on the King Scale of Color.

Mann's divinatory meanings for the Ten of Swords: "Quick comprehension of organizational matters leads to easy boredom and restlessness. The need to control intellect and apply will power to real needs." Reversed: "Scattering energy in a disjointed fashion makes for confusion and relationships which are insecure.”

Universal Waite Tarot
The Tarot and Astrology by David Thornton
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

_David Thornton_ associates the Ten of Swords with the placement of the planet Uranus in the Third House (House of Environment and Perceptions, Communication, Siblings, Short trips). The Third House in astrology is associated with the sign Gemini.

Thornton's description of the energy of the Ten of Swords is: "The tendency to take everything in fits and starts. Quick comprehension can turn to restlessness, scattered energies.”

Tarot Dynamics System by Anna Burroughs Cook
(illustrated in this blog by the Universal Waite tarot deck)

Anna Cook links all Tens to Astrology’s Tenth House (Capricorn), representing ambition, status, reputation, career, and the parent who set limits for you as a child. She associates the Ten of Swords with the third decan of Gemini. In Cook's TD system, Subject Card Ten signifies Achievement. The keyword for the suit of Swords in this system is Challenging, which gives us Challenging/Achievement for the Ten of Swords.

Cook applies the keyword “Despondency” to this card, noting: “Beware of a tendency to imagine the worst or to create self-imposed restrictions such as ‘I can’t.’ . . . This card is just as likely to appear when success is within your grasp as it is to appear when you’re grappling with a recent loss or setback.”

A.E. Thierens, PhD. (Astrology & the Tarot)

About the Ten of Swords, Thierens writes "The element of Earth on the Tenth house: Capricorn., of course, relates to authority and earthy might or power.” He goes on to state: “It is ultimately the card of inexorable karmic results, say material karma itself. To the profane this means very often affliction, etc., and the personality may be burdened by the weight of fate.”

His keywords for this card include: "Karmic results, whether benefic or malific; material limits, physical necessity; authority, official might and power, obedience to the same; official persons. . . Affliction, sadness, etc.”."

(Note: If you are interested in learning more about this system put forth by Thierens, I recommend the book referenced above.)

Speaking strictly in astrological terms, for the Ten of Swords we have:

  • Crowley and Hazel with a Sun/Gemini association
  • Mann with Uranus/Gemini
  • Love with Aquarius/Uranus/Moon
  • Thornton with Uranus/3rd House (Gemini)
  • Cook with the 3rd decan of Gemini, also referring to the 10th House (Capricorn)
  • Thierens with Earth/10th House (Capricorn)

The sign Gemini is linked with the Ten of Swords by five of my sources. Three of them link the planet Uranus -- planet of sudden upheaval, rebellion, surprise, individuality, disruption, and the future – with the Ten of Swords. I sense the energy of Uranus in this card more than I do the Sun, which is the choice of Crowley and Hazel.

The Tenth House association referenced by Cook and Thierens resonates with me because of its link with the planet Saturn, ruler of Capricorn. Saturn is the planet of karma, lessons, limitations, and discipline.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Listen to the Animals: Cheetah

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 starting with the Ancient Animal Wisdom deck by Stacy James and Jada Fire (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) To read my review of this deck, please click HERE.

My card is CHEETAH (22). 

Stacy and Jada see the Cheetah in this deck as representing the Divine Feminine. In numerology, the number 22 reduces to 4 (2+2), which Stacy and Jada say represents “discipline, order, devotion.” The appearance of this card encourages the Seeker to celebrate the divine feminine energy with the special women in his or her life, and to “acknowledge the yin energy on the planet as unconditionally beautiful and nourishing.” We are also encouraged to honor the divine feminine within ourselves, whether we be male or female.

The colors used on this card strike me as “fire” colors, which I normally associate with masculine energy. The color yellow is commonly associated with the element air, also a “masculine” element. I see strong Solar (traditionally male) energy rather than Lunar (traditionally female) energy here. Astrologically, the scales suggest the zodiac sign Libra, an Air sign, yet also a sign ruled by Venus, a strong feminine symbol. And the abstract figures facing each other at the top of the card are clearly female.

In Susie Green’s Animal Messages deck, illustrated by Csaba Pasztor (Cico Books), the Cheetah card means “A decision once made will be followed by unwavering action.” The Cheetah stalks its prey with unwavering patience and focus, then breaks into a run at just the right moment, using its speed to achieve the goal it decided to pursue.
Similarly, in Steven D. Farmer’s Messages from Your Animal Guides Oracle Cards (Hay House, Inc.), the Cheetah’s message is: “Get clear on your intention, stay focused, and move quickly to achieve your goal.” Associations provided for this card are “Speed; Focus; Insight; Passion; Swiftness; Elusiveness; Flexibility; Efficiency; Self-esteem; Powerful; Graceful; Purposeful; Energetic; Sensuous; Accomplishment; Directness.”

Like so many things, the Divine Feminine is perhaps more complex than we sometimes think.

Finally, here are some photos I took of cheetahs. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Has he decided to end the marriage?

Today I am doing a Yes-or-No reading using the Playing Card Oracles divination deck by Ana Cortez and C.J. Freeman (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) For this reading, I am drawing three cards. In the method I’m using, the answer is based on the playing card association for each card. Reds (hearts, diamonds) are taken as a “yes” answer and blacks (spades, clubs) as a “no.”

The question concerns a fictional married couple currently living in different cities because of work. However, there have also been problems in the marriage. I think it is possible that the man may want to get a divorce. So my question is: Has he decided to end the marriage?

The answer is:

12 Hearts / Déja (red / yes)
8 Spades / Field of Stone (black / no)
13 Spades / Mardoc the Heartless (black / no)

According to the system I described above, the answer is “not very likely.” The red card suggests that he may be leaning that way or may have been considering that option, but the two black cards seem to override that, at least for the time being.

I find it fascinating that in a question about a marriage, the cards brought forward a 12 (Queen) and 13 (King), with a Field of Stones between them. That image speaks volumes about the state of the relationship. Ana Cortez writes of the 8 of Spades: “The unluckiest card in the deck, the dense field of Spades represents numerous obstacles and the fruition of bad seeds.”

Of the Queen of Hearts, Ana Cortez writes: “Déja possesses a softness that is her strength, a quiet knowing that dignifies her. This Queen’s closed eyes symbolize her attunement to the inner world.” Her description of the King of Spades reads: “As the last card within Spades, the suit of material form, Mardoc assumes the role of terminator, the conqueror without mercy or compassion. He exemplifies mastery over earthly affairs.” Whether we look at these two cards as actually representing the man and woman in the marriage or not, it is certainly appropriate to consider that the energies they symbolize are important factors in the situation.

Based on current conditions, things don’t look great for this couple. A firm decision to divorce may not have been made, but the emotional groundwork seems to have been laid. It also occurs to me that the Queen of Hearts could represent another woman in whom the man is interested, and her existence is a factor that could ultimately sway his decision.