Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tarot and the Economy

So I saw something interesting on Mary Greer's blog today that I thought I might share. Mary is the author of one of my favorite books of all time, Tarot Made Easy. I read with it for many years before I went off book and highly recommend it!

Anyway, take a look and see what you think. Would tarot card readers, other psychics or astrologers have a better or worse chance to predict economic changes?

I applaud CNN for running this, even though many of the YouTube peanut gallery think it's all crap. But hey...what else is new? :)

For me, I'd put my money on psychics before I'd bet on the economists for a few reasons. Yes, the fact that I'm a psychic plays into it. But did you notice the psychics came up with a pretty similar answer in each case? Get two economists to agree on the economy and I think hell might indeed freeze over.

Personally, with the economy the way it has been, many of my readings have money or money-related themes, including job, relocation, education and overall finances. And I agree with the video: We often have to ease our clients' fears about where the economy is going. But I feel honored that so many people trust me with issues of importance in their lives.

So where do you stand? Post a comment and let me know!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tarot Book Review: Tarot 101 by Kim Huggens

Hello everyone! This review appeared in last falls American Tarot Association Quarterly Journal. Enjoy! 

Tarot 101 is an imposing title for a book, since the implication is clear: This book is required reading for beginning tarot students. If you scan the table of contents, it certainly appears different from many other tarot books, because there’s not a listing for each card; it has entries like “Optional Homework” and “Further Reading”.  And whole chapters on archetypes? Are you sure this isn’t American Lit 101 from freshman year in college? And what does all of this have to do with the tarot anyway?

The answer to the question is that it has everything to do with the tarot, both the big picture of an entire reading and the individuality of each card. Huggens does an excellent job of putting the tarot in context for the reader, which is something that many books do not even attempt. And this concept of tarot information in context really resonated with me as I read this book. Everything seems to be exactly where it should be, and flowed through each chapter.  The book felt “real” to me in the sense that the book was organized naturally, not cobbled together in a forced or artificial way or thrown together in a list.

It seems that as readers, we start learning the cards individually and eventually start to weave that into the bigger picture. Huggens has grouped together the cards into themes and archetypes, which was a brilliant move. Now the tarot student gets a look at both the card meanings themselves and where they fit into the overall picture of the tarot.

One chapter, for example, is entitled, “The Major Arcana: Feminine Archetypes.” The chapter has only three cards listed: The High Priestess, The Empress, and The Star. But while it does go into detail on each of the three cards—and provide symbol interpretation for them, which I thought was an especially nice addition--it talks about feminine archetypes like maiden, mother, and crone, and how they fit into the tarot as a whole.

Many of the chapters also had “Further Reading” lists of recommended books. Once again, these works are listed in context. The feminine divine chapter has books on that topic, and many other chapters have similar lists. It not only shows that Huggens is well read in tarot literature—many of the books she gives are written by well-known and respected tarot authors—but it also makes life easier for the reader to pick out topics of interest.  Yes, there is a bibliography, but it’s much more likely that the reader is going to read to the end of the chapter than pick through the bibliography. 

Now lots of books give extras, but what I liked most about these resources is that they were listed in the context of the book as a whole. For example, during the chapter on the feminine archetypes, there is a section on developing intuition, complete with exercises, as well as a Goddess spread.  Listing the spread with the chapter on the feminine divine—and not hiding it in a chapter called “Tarot spreads”—makes it more likely that it won’t be glossed over.  In addition to the homework, exercises, and recommended reading lists, there are small sections on astrology, numerology and the Cabbala as well.  They are not too overwhelming and give the beginning student a taste of what is to come as they continue to study the cards.

Another chapter that I particularly enjoyed was the introduction to the court cards, the first of three chapters on the court cards. Reading the tarot court can be difficult for novices and advanced readers alike, but the approach Huggens took with this chapter was particularly innovative. She presents the court cards and gives equivalents for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Keirsey Temperaments, which is not something I have ever encountered in a tarot book. I also found the elemental associations with the Keirsey Temperaments quite useful. If you’ve never looked at either of these systems, you’ll want to do so. Then the author weaves both systems through the other two chapters on the court cards, placing the masculine elements (fire and air) and the feminine elements (earth and water) together, but in separate chapters.

I discovered another unique feature:  A small section explaining that there are differences between the Rider-Waite-Smith and Thoth symbolism. It’s not a long section but for a beginning tarot reader who has an affinity for the Thoth deck, it may make them feel less left out. It is appropriately listed in the chapter on the water element.

One of my pet peeves about many tarot texts is that the major arcana gets a lot of the press while the minor arcana is thrown in almost as an afterthought.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tarot 101 includes four complete chapters without the court cards, one on each suit of the minor arcana. The elemental focus of each of these chapters helps the reader retain the information, and Huggens provides a short paragraph describing the meanings of each pip card.

Finally, the layout and editing of this book were very well done. The text was pleasing to the eye. Spread illustrations were clear. No spelling, grammar, syntax or punctuation problems to detract from the message. And there were no pictures of tarot cards anywhere; the only pictures of cards you will see are on the front and back covers. I don’t look at that as a bad thing, considering the book bills itself as a resource no matter what deck you use.  

Let me end with this bold statement: Tarot 101 should be required reading for all tarot enthusiasts, from neophytes to expert practitioners. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and intend to keep it handy. 

Tarot 101
Kim Huggens
Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN 978-0-7387-1904-7

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, US Army and Contest!

Happy Birthday, U.S. Army!

On June 14, the US Army celebrated its 236th birthday. To honor all of those who serve, I’m giving some highlights from the Army’s astrological chart. I’m also giving away a full astrological workup as a prize! Read this over for the details.

For those of you new to astrology, what I’m doing is taking the Army’s creation date, place and time of June 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, PA, and casting an astrological chart for it. In other words, I’m looking at astrologically what was going on at that moment to get insight into the Army. You can do this for any event, but usually it is done for a person’s birth—a natal chart—to get insights into personality and other facets of a person’s life.

Here’s a quick look at the planetary setup at that moment. Since we don’t have an exact time, I chose noon. A summary of the chart is below. 

Rising Sign

So what can this tell us? Well, here are a few clues.

With so many planets in mutable (changeable) signs—Gemini and Virgo in this case—the Army’s flexibility is highlighted here. That’s great when things change on the fly, and the Army can take on many different missions well.  On the flip side, it’s not great over the long-term, since the potential is that the Army 1) could sent in too many directions at once (how many wars are we involved in right now, folks?) and 2) could become a “jack of all trades, master of none”. Lots of direction changes are possible with such an organization, and if a leader wants the Army to go in one direction, it can do that easily, but the changes are usually not long lasting. 

The elements of the signs where the planets fall also have an impact on the overall chart. Earth and Air signs rule this chart almost completely, which makes sense. The Army focuses on doing a job that is done on the ground, and that’s Earth, which also rules the physical body. The Air part deals with the objective way the job is done, and that you can see from military language, designed to communicate quickly and objectively. With the other two elements so weak, it can indicate a lack of drive and self-confidence (Fire), and a distinct lack of emotion (Water).

The great majority of planets in this chart are in Gemini and Virgo, both signs that are ruled by the planet Mercury. Let’s start with Gemini, a sign that rules communication and short-term trips. It’s interesting that the Army has the tanks, since Gemini rules the 3rd house, which rules all transportation matters. And communicating with the various Army elements is likely one of the most important parts of what the Army has to do well.

Virgo, the Rising Sign (the “glasses” through which the Army sees life) and the chart signature (overall flavor of the chart) make total sense: Virgo rules order as well as the 6th house, the house of SERVICE and RESPONSIBILITY.

The Moon rules our emotions, and our emotional security. For the Army, she is sitting in Capricorn, which is the worst possible place for it (opposite of the sign the Moon rules, which is Cancer), astrologically speaking.  This Moon placement is difficult—I have it in my personal chart, so I live it every day—because it can make you unemotional and seemingly unfeeling. It’s the ultimate “SUCK IT UP” Moon placement; emotions are de-emphasized, stifled, and not expressed. One danger for this placement is the lack of mercy that can come with it as well.

With that said, it’s great for ambition and getting ahead, devoted to DUTY above all things, and will succeed eventually because of its long-term view.  For mission completion without letting emotions get in the way, Capricorn Moon is your best friend.

As you can imagine, Capricorn Moon can be an unfeeling SOB. But add to it the fact that it is the 4th house, ruled by Cancer (again, its opposite sign), and that’s even worse. Cancer and the 4th house rule the family unit and home sweet home, and considering some of the burdens that are placed on our soldiers and others who serve in the Army, this makes way too much sense. So many people deployed over and over again, away from home and family.  You couldn’t ask for a more unfavorable Moon placement, but again, it does have its advantages in combat.

Mars is the planet of war and conflict, and in this case it’s very appropriately in Virgo. So that means discriminating, carefully thought-out and well-planned conflicts; in other words, being very careful to destroy your enemy and not everyone who happens to be around. And since Virgo rules the armed forces, once again we’re right on track. Virgo is also an Earth sign, which is where the Army does its job.

Anyway, that’s a quick overview of the astrology chart of the US Army. I’m just scratching the surface; a full chart is normally more than 20 pages and goes into detail into the entire chart, not just the planets and what signs they are in but how they interact and what that could mean for you. If you’re interested in having your own chart done, send me an email at hierophant@cox.net and we’ll chat. All you need is your date, place, and time of birth (as close as you can).

To enter the contest for a free birth chart and complete workup, you need to do two things:

1)   Follow my blog; and
2)   Post a comment here about your experience with astrology. If you only know your Sun sign, that’s just fine too!

Once I get 100 followers I’ll do a drawing and pick a winner. Thanks so much for stopping by! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shameless Marketing and Contest

Hello everyone!

Here's a look at my schedule for my in-person readings the rest of June and July at 13 Magickal Moons!

Wednesday, June 22 6-9pm

Saturday, June 25 11:30am-4:00pm

Saturday, July 2 11:30am-5:30pm

Wednesday, July 13 6-9pm

Saturday, July 16 11:30am-5:30pm

Wednesday, July 27 6-9pm

Also, stay tuned for a contest that's coming up in the next few days!

I look forward to seeing you across my tarot table soon!



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wisdom and the Bald Soprano

As a tarot reader, I have a specific job. It's to tell you what I see. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

I believe that the tarot gives you the message that you are supposed to hear at that moment; it is a "snapshot in time". So what I see is just that. No more and no less. 

As a client, you decide what to do with the information, and it is your decisions that make the future. What I say is just another opinion on the matter at hand, and it should be taken in that context. The fact that I uttered it doesn't mean it's going to happen; the information gives you a new perspective so you can move forward. 

When people say to me, "That's what I thought you'd say," after a reading, I'm always pleased. It means that your intuition is talking to you, and you used a reading to confirm it. That's one of the best uses of the tarot: To confirm what you are already feeling might happen. 

I start to get a little concerned when people feel the need to "debate" what I tell them. One client made a point of coming back to my table a little while after getting a reading and said, "I don't think you're right about what you told me at all." I was confused; I wasn't sure what she was expecting. The reading is what it is. So I ended up saying, "I understand." She asked for my perspective and she got it. My guess would be that she didn't like what I had to say. There's nothing I can do about that. My job isn't to tell people what they want to hear.  

The point of getting a reading is to gain wisdom, whatever it is, and then to decide what to do with it. If you decide that what I say is total crap, that's fine with me. My ego won't be bruised at all. Just take what I have to say in context of what's going on in your life and decide what's best for you.  Once I give you the message, presented as clearly and as compassionately as I can, I've done my job. 

There's this really bizarre French play called "The Bald Soprano". No, it's French, so of COURSE I'm not making it up. And yes, their names really are Smith. Anyway, in this extremely odd play, Mr. and Mrs. Smith are in their living room when there is a knock on the door. Mr. Smith goes to answer the door, and there is no one there. This sequence repeats itself two more times, and Mr. Smith finds no one at the door. So he and Mrs. Smith discuss the knocking.

Every time Mr. Smith has gone to the door, no one has been there. He now posits a theory that whenever there's a knock on the door, no one is EVER there. That's based on his experience of opening a door three times after a knock to find no one. Being French, Mrs. Smith takes up a contrary position, assuring Mr. Smith that every time someone knocks at the door, there is ALWAYS someone there. 

When there is a fourth knock at the door, Mrs. Smith goes to answer it. This time, lo and behold, there IS someone there, proving her theory that someone is always at the door when there's a knock. It's the fire chief, who decided that since it is raining and he won't have to work tonight, he would stop by to say hello to the Smiths.

Even though the arrival of the fire chief probably made your head explode and question why you chose to waste your time reading this blog, there is a definite message for us here: Wisdom is relative. Whether it comes from cards or crystal balls, your life experience, friends or family or fortune cookies, it's about what we DO with it that counts. Your decisions about what is wisdom and what is not really determine your future. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saturn Vs. Neptune Redux: They Meet

Neptune:  Hey there, Old Man!
Saturn: Well, well, well…if it isn’t the “Great Deceiver” himself! Or is it…herself?
N: I can be whatever you want me to be, Saturn.
S: See, that right there is your problem. You’re unpredictable. How can you get anywhere in life being one thing and then just all of a sudden change to being something else? No one can count on you if you’re all…well, you know…
N: What?
S: Well, unstable… and unreliable…and…uncontrolled. How can you be like that?
N: It’s who I am. I’ll admit that “Great Deceiver” is a title I have definitely earned—anyone who has been drunk will tell you that—but we can discuss my true essence another time. I know you’re on a tight schedule and I didn’t call before I showed up…but do you have a few moments?  I’m here to talk about John.
S: Certainly! I’m so proud of him. His emotions are under control, he’s absolutely rock-solid reliable, and people know what to expect from him. He’s a productive member of society, and of course, he has plenty of titles. Titles make the man, you know. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that I made him who he is.
N: You had better be sure that the Sun can’t hear you. He would be pissed at you for making a statement like that.
S: Since I rule the sign Capricorn, I AM the ruling planet of his astrological chart—he has Capricorn rising, if you forgot. And I have influence over his emotions, too. Moon in Capricorn, baby! He went through a phase in his youth when he dated Capricorn girls. He didn’t understand it at the time, but I was driving that bus. I was kind of disappointed when he didn’t marry a Goat girl, but Jen has Capricorn rising so I was still pretty excited. But I’m the cock of the walk for him.
N: And that is precisely what I wanted to talk to you about, Old Man. You like titles? Well, you are personally ensuring there is a title he will never get: Author.
S: I’m sorry about that. When it comes to John, Neptune, we’re opposed. We’re never going to agree on him. So I’m not sure what you expect me to do.
N: Actually, I’m going to ask you to do two things. I’ll even number them so your structured brain will understand them better.
S: You don’t need to be rude, Neptune. I’m listening.
N:  Great. Keep listening. Ready? 1) Shut up. 2) Step off.
S: OK, now you’re starting to make me a little irritated.
N: Hey, look everyone! Saturn’s having an EMOTION! He actually FELT something!
S: Come now…no need to point it out to everyone.  That makes me uncomfortable.
N: Good! Discomfort is good for the soul. It builds character.
S: I know plenty about discomfort. Have you seen a stable government in the Middle East recently? Re-establishing hierarchies is my specialty but all of them at once is a little much. Who do you think is going to have to clean up THAT mess? Uranus SHOULD be the one doing it…
N: I couldn’t care less, Old Man. Are you finished? Interrupt me again and I’ll make sure that I do something VERY uncomfortable with that ring of yours. We’ll only be able to see half of it. Or I could call Uranus over here and…well, you never KNOW what he’ll do. He’ll take great pleasure in it.  
[Saturn silently glowers at Neptune]
N: You follow directions very well.  Here’s my simple point: John’s going to write a book, and this time he’s going to FINISH one. He’s started a whole bunch that he stopped working on. And you’re the reason for it. Every time he starts, you decide it’s not good enough and that no one will want to read it. So you’re going to step the fuck off and let me have a little more influence over him.
S: I don’t know how to do that. I really don’t.
N: Don’t worry. John’s already helping me out by doing Neptunian things.  He just got back from a vacation of more than a week, the longest he’s had in YEARS. He didn’t feel obligated to do anything for anyone but himself. He even went out a number of times and had a few drinks just to let loose. And he didn’t think about work at all.
S: Yes, that was very unlike him.
N: And that is good. Perhaps not for you, but John had a great time. I need you to take a break for a while so he can imagine and create this book.
S: You’re crazy if you think I’m just leaving.
N: But that’s what you don’t get, Old Man. With you, everything is so FINAL. John’s going to need you to edit this book; that’s the part where you shine. But at the moment, he has no book because you’re around. He needs to CREATE it before you improve it. You dig?
S: I think so. You’re talking about a controlled, temporary departure, right?
N: Sure, Old Man.
S: So you’ll create and I’ll edit, right?
N: Right. And under no circumstances are you to raise your ugly head until John writes this book. If that happens, I’ll sic both Pluto AND the Sun on your ass. Scorpio Sun is a real bitch.
S: I agree to this, but I don’t like it.
N: You don’t have to. Just do it.
S: OK. And maybe you’ll tell me about why everyone is so into Bourbon Street in New Orleans? I just don’t get it…
N: I'll try, Old Man, but I just don’t think you'll understand it…

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Saturn vs. Neptune

Quick astrology lesson: In astrology, Saturn is the planet of structure, responsibility, and self-discipline. He's boring, but stable; shy, but reliable. The area where he has influence can make you inhibited. Basically, Saturn is the planet that says, "No, you shouldn't do that." Neptune, on the other hand, is known as the "great deceiver". She--astrologers give a feminine influence to this planet even though the god is male--provides us with imagination, creativity, and spirituality but also delusion, doubt, and addiction. She rules the arts, especially music, and provides an interesting counterpoint to Saturn, saying, "The only limits are the limits of your imagination."

Before I knew anything about astrology, I knew that I had difficulty being creative and could never understand why. I started lots of projects but didn't finish them. I did well with anything where there were very solid rules (Saturn), and struggled with more free-form projects (Neptune). Once I finally started studying astrology in depth, I found that Saturn is a very powerful planet in my chart, ruling my rising sign and Moon sign (both are Capricorn). All of my serious relationships before I got married were with Capricorn women, for example, and as people will tell you, I'm very serious about playing by the rules in every facet of my life. Play Monopoly with me and you will see what I mean; don't even think about pulling out the house rules on me, buster. It's tournament rules or I don't play. Saturn strikes again.

What makes things more interesting in my astrological chart, however, is Saturn and Neptune are "opposed" (180 degrees apart).  Think of the great rivalries in any discipline. Yankees vs. Red Sox. Cowboys vs. Redskins. The French vs. the English. For me personally, in high school it was BC High vs. Catholic Memorial; in college it became Susquehanna vs. Lycoming, and in grad school it was Maryland vs. Virginia. That's how they behave in my life.

Saturn and Neptune are always at odds for me. Neptune drives to create but Saturn picks it apart. Neptune says "Look at this awesome thing I created!" and Saturn says, "It's not good enough so no one will like it, let alone care." (Saturn can be an asshole sometimes, but at least he kept me out of trouble in my youth.)

At one time, I was a musician. I started taking clarinet lessons when I was about 10 and played woodwinds all the way through college. I majored in music and considered making my living that way, and at one point in my life music was all I wanted to do. I loved playing and did it all through college, especially jazz. Once I got done with college and went on to grad school, real life took over.  I got married and started working, and went on with business as usual. No more music. Saturn was exceptionally happy. But when I stopped playing jazz, Neptune was left out.

Tonight, here in New Orleans I got to see live jazz, a very rare occurrence for me. This band was amazing, even more so for me since I understand the amount of work and talent it takes to be a professional jazz musician. And for them to walk in and say that they don't use sheet music? Wait a second, back up. Even the best big bands use sheet music. Not these guys. They walked out and played from their heart, but they were definitely attuned to each other as a group. Then, the big brother of the bandleader, Branford Marsalis, just shows up during the second song. This was an awesome surprise! Branford is an extremely talented saxophone player, and I couldn't have been happier to see him show up.

Anyway, it occurred to me that jazz is actually an allegory for Saturn and Neptune working in harmony. There is a form--music has a structure--but in jazz, it's extremely relaxed. Everyone is working toward the same goal but how they get there is determined during the song. And people get to show off their individual creativity and yet be part of something larger.

Maybe I'll have to dust off my sax when I get home and just play for a while. Then maybe I'll be able to work on a tarot book--I've started at least four but haven't finished one.

For tonight, I'll be happy knowing that Neptune got a lot of attention, and it felt good.