Today I've taken a slightly different approach. Instead of showing two different card combinations I've decided to illustrate how important it is to remember that not every combination of two cards will work across the board using all decks.
To illustrate this point, I have chosen to use the Five of Rings/Disks/Pentacles and the Eight of Swords/Blades from the following two decks: The Zirkis Magi and Tarot of The Holy Light.
One is a deck loosely related to RWS and the other is one of a group of tarots classified as continental style, with meanings that predate RWS imagery. Keep in mind also, that readers who use Marseille style decks might have an altogether different interpretation between two or more cards that in turn will vary from reader to reader.
In my earlier blog articles about assigning meanings to numbers, I encouraged everyone to establish their own understanding of what each number means in relation to each suit.
Having said that, even if you have your own assignments to numbers, you will still need to go with the flow when presented with a deck whose imagery does not align with your number system. You might be able to make reference to your meaning as a possible alternate meaning, but (and I've made this point several times as well), it makes no sense during a reading to proclaim that a card means sunshine and happiness when the card portrays an altogether different feel. The same applies to vice versa scenarios.
Let's look at the first combination of cards represented by the Five of Rings and the Eight of Blades. This representation of cards more or less aligns with the RWS system. We have two cards that when presented together might suggest difficulties brought on by our own actions. The woman represented in the Eight of Blades has clearly willingly allowed herself to be put in harm's way.As she is preceeded by the Five of Rings, which has a tragic feel to it, it is reasonable to suggest that she will face some time of challenges, probably of a financial sort, as a consequence of a choice she has or will be making. Depending on the question of course, and the other cards in the spread and their positional meanings all taken into consideration, this interpretation is a reasonable jumping off point.
But what about the lower pair of cards? Here, although the Five of Disks does look like it has a powerful message, it doesn't look particularly upsetting. And when you investigate the symbolism of this card and its intent by its creator, you will learn that its meaning has more to do magnetism and charasmatic charm than it does to harships of a material nature. Likewise, this particular Eight of Swords next to it, does not communicate being trapped or being a victim of our own doing even if it does seem to represent a wall created by swords. It does have a 'Cross this threshold if you dare' type of feeling, but there is nothing about the imagery that suggests the querent has brought this condition to his or herself. As it is placed next to the Five of Disks that we just discussed, it would appear that the interpretation of these two cards together would suggest that by virtue of the querent's charisma and charm, she/he will probably succeed in whatever challenge they are facing. This interpretation differs greatly from the message of the same two cards of the previous deck. It is worth noting that in both, there is a possible challenge being presented, but the outcomes are strikingly different.
I've said it a number of times in previous blog posts, that reading from different tarot decks requires a skill set similar to learning multiple languages, or at least different dialects of the same language.
The more decks you use, the more you learn about symbolism and systems. They do not all fit the same mold, which is what makes it a fun challenge to keep learning and fuels my tarot card collection and addiction.
Tarot of the Zirkis Magi and Tarot of The Holy Light may be purchased through their respective websites.
The Death Card in Tarot is a card that can upset people when they see it. Despite assuring a querent that it doesn't necessarily mean death in a reading, the image itself as it appears on cards is rarely comforting.
A reader will often say that when 'Death' appears it means the end of something, and the positive spin on that sentiment is that it allows something new to happen in its place.
As I mentioned in my recent article pairing tarot cards (which was titled Power Couples) there are a lot of factors involved in interpreting any combinations of cards and I encourage you to read that article if you haven't already done so.
An over-all impression may be had if Death appears next to or near certain cards especially if it's a small spread. If a two or three card reading is given for someone asking about love, work, a house deal, or any number of situations it is sometimes easier to interpret when the Death card appears in the framework of fewer cards or by the cards near it in a more complex spread.
In the top photograph, we have first the image of Death and then the Four of Coins. Now bear in mind that not every tarot deck is a RWS clone and sometimes the imagery of a particular card doesn't jibe with the image we might haves in our memory banks. The four of Coins or Pentacles might be one of these cards. Go with the flow. It makes no sense to recite a meaning of a card when its description suggests an altogether different meaning. In this combination of particular cards, Death really seems to be about rebirth. Something is clearly coming to an end and being followed by something that already has taken root. Something is rising from the ashes. Perhaps the relationship can be salvaged, a company merger is likely to happen and replaced by a new company culture, and maybe the house deal will fall through but another one will present itself.
But sometimes the Death card might actually mean bad news without a new option. In the case of the bottom photo we have the Lady of Wands preceding Death. I think of the court cards in their historic context. The Pages, which is what Lady has replaced in this particular deck, ran the errands and acted as liasons between concerned parties. A Page of Wands might be making reference to work related news. Followed by the Death card, it would be reasonable to suggest to the querent that he brace him or herself for a shocking development that maybe isn't going to float his or her boat. A third card might be pulled for clarification, or if there are other cards in the spread those would have a bearing on further clarifying the issue.
In either case, cool heads must prevail and no querent should walk away feeling doom and gloom. There is always a best possible course of action and that is the responsibility of the reader to impart before the querent walks away.
Other cards in combination with Death can relay these same two possible meanings along with even other possibilities. For the sake of brevity these are the two examples I have chosen.
BTW, I agree that these cards are particularly beautiful and among the more intelligent decks out there. They deserve greater in-depth discussion, particularly as regards their symbolism and I think that is a great topic of discussion for another day.
The The Tarot of The Holy Light and The Alchemical Tarot may be purchased through their respective links.
I haven't been very productive keeping up with my tarot blog and I apologize for that. Part of the reason for that is because September/October is a very busy wedding schedule. As some of you know I am an ordained minister who creates and officiates custom ceremonies which during these months has consumed most of my writing efforts.
So please forgive my sporadic entries and know it is only temporary.
I seem to be on a roll, my last article was titled, 'The Odd Couple' and today's article continues on the theme of couples.
In an effort to provide interesting content to a broader audience, I realize that as much as I love tarot history, it's not eveybody's cup of tea. So I thought I'd mix it up a bit today by writing about Power Couples, pairs of cards that when they pop up in a reading, give greater weight to a concept or idea.
Today I am writing about two pairs when they pop up in a reading, the Lovers and Ace of Cups, and the Hierophant and The Tower. If this article is well received, I will write about other tarot power couples and frankly, this can keep me busy for the next few decades.
All the cards that that appear in the accompanying photo happen to be major arcana cards, as the major trumps tend to have the most 'power', and pack the greatest punch. But power pairing might also be noted between the major and minor trumps and even between the minors.
Bear in mind that other factors always come into play. For example, the other cards in the spread, the question intended for the spread, the position of the cards themselves in the spread, and their placement among other cards in the spread can all influence the meaning of any particular card. All those things considered, some cards when they appear together strongly suggest certain concepts.
I love using the beautiful Victorian Romantic Tarot especially for readings that concern matters of the heart. And truth be told, these readings tend to be the bulk of a tarot reader's bread and butter.
How very satisfying it is when doing a reading about one's love life for the Lovers card to pop up. And with the additional appearance of the Ace of Cups, a querent can leave the table feeling especially pleased, having been told that the probability of romantic love on the horizon is a distinct possibility. Yes, of course, other cards in the spread will have an influence, but just the same, these two in a romantic reading should be enough for anyone to have just a little extra pep in their step as they face the world solo. (If The Empress or High Priestess also makes an appearance one might be tempted to suggest a pregnancy. But that's a topic for another day.)
Another frequent topic for the cards are business related questions. It can be a question regarding office dynamics, company mergers, or even what the new boss will be like to work for. When the Hierophant (or Pope) and The Tower pop up for such a reading, it sends a clear message; old ways are about to crumble. It can be due to vanity, ego, lack of flexibility, unfairness (especially if an ill placed Justice also makes an appearance), or even because an authority figure has been fired and new blood is taking over. Nothing says shake up of old ways quite like the Hierophant and the Tower when they appear together.
For information on where to purchase the decks featured in the above photo please visit their respective sites: Victorian Romantic Tarot Noblet Tarot
I recently used this photo as an image for 'The Lovers' as part of an Instagram tarot challenge for the month of October. I liked the idea of two old farts representing the Lovers instead of two youngins. I had this image in mind when I asked a total stranger walking by to capture this exact image.
We were in Vermont for a few days to check out the pretty fall colors. I learned that the locals call us 'Leaf Peepers.' We don't care, we call them 'Shoobies' when they visit our beaches in the summer. So it all comes out in the wash.
Part of our trip was also spent in West Point, NY. My husband is a retired military officer with over thirty years service, so it was natural for him to want to visit West Point Academy and take a tour. His service was in the Air Force, not the Army, but it doesn't matter. They are all comrades.
We chose a two-hour tour which included a tour of the cemetery, which he of course knew I would enjoy.
During the tour, we did our own thing, taking photos, occassionally talking to others. Another woman on the tour seemed to take a fancy to my husband, At least, from my perspective it appeared that everywhere he was, she was right there. Being an Intel guy, he knows a lot of military trivia and details and she was asking him a lot of questions. Typically, he enjoys meeting people and chatting with them, but what I didn't know was that she was driving him nuts and he couldn't shake her loose.
At some point, she sought me out in the crowd. She approached me abruptly, and got in my face and demanded to know what my interests were. I mean really, she demanded. I'm a pretty private person, not one to tell a stranger my life-story. I hesitated when she asked, I smiled at her and changed the subject. She was relentless, "Surely, you have not sacrificed your life to follow him all over the world without having your own interests." "Surely you're your own person." She started pissing me off because her tone was dismissive of me. She was making assumptions and generalizations about me, like I'm some sort of passive woman who lets her husband chat with other women on tours. She had a preconceived notion that the wife of an officer must fit a certain mold, and that I've been his wife for thirty years and not that we are practically newlyweds with only a few years under our belts.
She demanded, "What are your skills, don't you have any hobbies that interest you? Surely you have your own identity." Oh man, I wanted nothing to do with her. I tried to walk away, but her legs were about two feet longer than mine and there was no escape. I could have turned the tables and asked her what she did and what her interests were, but I decided to have a little fun with her.
I have many interests, and after fifty seven years on the planet I could have shared any number of 'safe' and 'acceptable' interests that I have, art, writing, decorating, photography, or creating beautiful ceremonial objects for weddings. I could have mentioned my love of nature, building dollhouses, or any number of things.
But finally, and uncharacteristically, I turned to her and said, "I'm a tarot reader, I read tarot cards and I am also an ordained minister who officiates weddings for pagan couples." (Now truth be told, I am a non-denominational minister and I write custom wedding ceremonies for any couple who requests my services, pagan couples being among them, but I suspected that the word 'pagan' would freak her out because she genuflected when we entered each of the chapels. Yeah, I know, the devil made me do it.
I was a bit concerned that my husband might be annoyed with me, outing him as the husband of a 'tarot reader' and shattering the myth that she had in her mind about us as a 'proper' military couple. But as it turns out he was delighted by my response and almost choked trying to stifle his laughter. She retreated immediately, never to approach either of us again. We figured she was scared sh*tless that I'd put a hex on her.