Friday, May 31, 2013

Astrological Chart of Dwight Eisenhower

Let's take an astrological look at one of the most well-known military commanders of all time, Dwight Eisenhower!

NB: Big caveat here, folks. This chart has a Rodden rating of "DD", which means that two or more sources have given different birth times, and that while sincere efforts have been made, there are no conclusive results. Since a chart's accuracy is based on a very specific moment of birth, unless and until additional information is found concerning the subject's birth time, the analysis that follows is based solely on the birth time listed in this chart, 3:00am.

Heavy Air--Ike's chart has so much air in it, far overpowering any other element in the chart.  Air deals with the mental body--the collection of our thoughts and ideas and our ability to communicate are two big examples--so Ike was likely an excellent communicator. Considering the kind of commander and commander-in-chief that he was, this isn't surprising. When you're able to easily convey your message to others, and you do a good job of convincing them to follow you (there's another air trait!), you have a much better chance for success.

Grand Trines in Air--When two planets are trine, they are 120 degrees apart. This is an easy relationship between planets, which normally you'd consider a good thing, because it means that they are working well together. Problems can arise, however, because trines can foster laziness. Think of the person who is so talented at what they do that they don't ever have to practice it or work at it. There's no challenge, so it may be difficult for them to improve on what they can already do. 

In Ike's case, he has two grand trines in air. Mercury, Jupiter and Neptune all trine each other, forming a large triangle in the chart; you can see it above if you look at the 4, 8, and 12 clock points. What this means is that anything air-related would come very easy to Ike. Mercury is the planet of communication, so speaking, writing, and listening were all skills that Ike likely did very well. With Mercury in Libra, he would want to build consensus. With Jupiter in Aquarius, he'd want to expand his message by working through large groups of people; Aquarius rules things that affect a society as a whole, for example. Pluto in Gemini would allow for time and flexibility for the message to be understood. Neptune in Gemini would allow for creative visualization of the message. On the negative side, grand trine in air folks can be extremely talkative, and Ike probably wasn't in a rush to do most things.

Libra = Peace?--Libra is a sign that does well at mediating disputes and as I mentioned earlier, building consensus among people. One of the most interesting thing about Eisenhower's terms as President is that there were no new wars. He ended the Korean War, but no new ones were started. Libras are typically excellent at avoiding conflict. What can be a problem, however, is that Libra people tend to avoid conflict even when it would be the most efficient method of resolving a problem. They want everyone to get along. That's not to say that they LIKE everyone; they're human beings, and no one likes everyone else. Eisenhower certainly had his share of people he didn't like personally. But generally, he knew how to get them to do what he wanted them to do.

No Water at All--Water rules the emotional body, and there is not one single planet in a water sign (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) in this chart. This may have made it challenging for Ike to show emotion and use his intuition, so likely he wasn't used to doing either. People like Ike with heavy air in their charts work with information--intelligence--and "hunches" are not usually viewed in a positive light. I can see Ike having a conversation with one of his advisers, and the adviser says, "I just have a feeling we should..." and Ike responding with, "Get me the intel to support that opinion, and we have a place to start the discussion. But until then..."

When he had to be firm, likely he had no problem with it, and "sob stories" probably didn't move him, either. For a military commander, this is a fantastic asset, but in his personal life I'm sure there were many people who might have seen him as undemonstrative. Luckily, Libra sun and moon balance out some these effects. 

Interesting note: People who have little or no water often lack compassion and can be very cruel. One example of this is Hitler, who had almost no water in his chart at all, but Hitler had repressive Capricorn moon backing up as well. Luckily for us, we had Eisenhower instead.

Anyway, that's a quick look at Dwight Eisenhower. Tune in again next Friday for another famous military astrological chart! :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Astrological Chart of George Patton

Let's take a look at the astrological chart of Gen. George Patton. 

Capricorn Moon--George has a Capricorn moon. I can't stress this one enough. The Moon is our emotional body, or the sum total of our emotions and how they affect us. If you're sitting there thinking, "Patton wasn't an emotional guy!" you would be right. 

Capricorn moon is the WORST--as in least desirable--moon position, opposite Cancer, which is the best. Think about emotions as a river. While Cancer moon allows for free-flow of water and fantastic sensitivity, Capricorn moon is like Hoover Dam. It allows water through, but not much, and it's selective. 

In Patton's life as a general, this was a true asset. When you have to order people to do things that might get them killed, Capricorn moon helps you from worrying too much about the possibility of people dying and do what Capricorn does best: Focus on the long-term goal. I have a Capricorn moon myself, and I have to actively try to show emotions and not repress them to keep myself balanced. So while it is the hardest moon position to deal with, it can be a rewarding challenge as well. 

You probably also noticed in his speeches that he's not trying to win prizes for pretty words or being sensitive to others. He's just laying out the goal, plain and simple. 

Scorpio sun in the 6th--Intensity is always the name of the game with Scorpio, but with its placement in the 6th house, he was ideally suited for the military, which rules service in general and the armed services in particular.
Flexibility--Patton's planets were by and large in mutable (changeable) signs. Scorpio evolves over time, but it's a fixed (stubborn). The fact that there was so much mutable energy in this chart gave Patton another dimension most Scorpios don't possess. Had he had more planets in fixed signs--13% in fixed signs as opposed to 50% of this planets were in mutable signs--likely he would not have been as effective a commander. His "unpredictability" comes from that ability to change tactics quickly. His Gemini rising also helped with this skill.

Mercury in Sag in the 6th--Mercury in Sagittarius is also in its detriment, but it is bolstered for military work because of its position in the 6th house (see above). Patton and Petraeus share this sign placement; sadly, with Petraeus' lack of birth time we don't know what house it is in. But with Patton, we know that Mercury is sitting in the 6th house. Likely his colleagues found him too blunt, but you always knew where you stood with him when it came to military matters, and he knew how to give orders.

The 6th house--This is the strongest house in Patton's chart. We've mentioned its connection to service and the military, but people with this placement do well at the workplace in general and anything routine or day-to-day. The 6th house, ruled by Virgo, is also about being detail-oriented. I'd guess that it took Patton a while to give up the idea of being down in the weeds on every single thing. His Gemini rising sign, which is, like Virgo, ruled by fast-moving Mercury, would only have fueled his desire to know it all. Put this together with his Scorpio sun and Capricorn moon and you get "ultimate control freak", someone who has the potential to be extremely critical. I haven't done any historical research on Patton, but as an astrologer I'd wonder about his eating and health habits. Typically, a 6th house sun can indicate a health nut, or someone very concerned about what they put into their body. Patton was very concerned about the soldiers under him, and took extra steps to make sure they were well cared for; this is another manifestation of the role of the 6th house in his chart: responsibility to others.

Moon in the 8th--This house is naturally ruled by Scorpio, Patton's sun sign. While Capricorn moon is in its detriment here, the 8th gives it depth and a lot more intensity. The Scorpio nuclear explosion of temper from Patton was likely legendary, when it happened. But I'm guessing people didn't get to experience that much; the moon in the 8th lends a secretiveness to the moon, and since the moon rules private and emotional matters and is in its detriment in Capricorn, he likely kept his emotions to himself. But this position likely also fueled his interest in occult/metaphysical things.
Venus in Capricorn in the 7th--Married with children is exactly how you'd expect things to go with someone with this placement. Venus has more power here than the average Venus in Capricorn because one of its signs, Libra, rules this house. Astrologers call it an "accidental dignity". It was surprising to hear that he had extramarital affiairs; the sun, moon, and Venus signs in this chart don't really support that. But astrology is only part of the picture; our upbringing, society, and our egos have a role in who we are. I suspect in this case that it was the latter driving the bus.  

Neptune in Taurus in the 12th--This is a great placement for artistic and/or musical ability. Neptune in Taurus, a sign ruled by Venus, in the very sensitive 12th house, can indicate someone who is drawn to the arts. With it in retrograde motion--moving "backward" at the time of his birth--it may not have had as much effect.
Mars--The planet of war is not particularly well aspected in Patton's chart. While it is trine Venus--the two have a nice, easy relationship in the same element, earth--Mars also squares (shares approximately 90 degree angles with) both Mercury, planet of logical thought and communication, and Pluto, the planet of transformation. Squares are challenges to overcome in an astrological chart, and they tend to propel us forward. In this case, talking (Mercury) vs. doing (Mars) was likely something Patton struggled with.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at Patton's chart. Tune back in every Friday as I talk about the astrological profiles of other military leaders.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Misfortune Teller: The Moon

"The Moon"
Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot
US Games Systems, Inc.

"There's something rotten in Denmark." That sentence from Shakespeare should be going your mind whenever you draw this major arcana card. 

I'm not going to say there's nothing good about this card, but I'll say there's very little to like when you turn this one over, folks, and the watchword for it is BEWARE. Nothing here is as it seems.

Some of the standard meanings for this card for me include:
  • Deception and self-deception (including "wishful thinking")
  • Confusion
  • Bewilderment and/or illusion
  • Uncertainty and doubt
  • "Spin" of any kind
  • CAVEAT EMPTOR [Let the buyer beware!]
Some of us are good at lying to others. While I'm not one of those--I truly SUCK at falsehoods!--I'll bet I'm as good as anyone else in lying to myself. That's where we as human beings truly excel. When the Moon comes up, it's imperative to take a hard, honest look at a situation and start asking questions.Whatever the Moon's light hits should be called into question. 

The Moon can often alert us to a potentially dangerous situation. You know exactly what I mean. You're in a new relationship and you're on your best behavior and your date starts going off on his/her ex. You do your best to be polite and listen, but as you do so you hear some things that make you want to run in the other direction. Your gut is agreeing, and you find yourself making excuses why you can't go out again. Or you go in to sign what was supposed to be a sweet job contract, only the salary isn't as high as they said it would be and the percentage of time you will be traveling is much higher than what you discussed. 

I had a boss who epitomizes the Moon for me, a real scumbag whose didn't care what anyone's agenda was except his own. He asked me to lie for him to customers, which I hated. He held me to a standard that was totally unreachable, but he didn't tell me what that was, either. When you had a conversation with him, you had to be careful because he was an excellent wordsmith; try to hold him to a promise and inevitably he would say, "Well, that's not exactly what we discussed." When I transferred out of his department after a year or so, he continued to expect me to perform duties that weren't a part of my job description anymore. It took my new boss to instruct him to re-assign those duties to one of his own people. I think you get the idea. 

The Moon represents the entire idea of spinning any event or story to show what you wanted it to rather than the actual facts. We used to joke in the software industry that when problems with the software were reported--"bugs"--they were actually "unintended features". Any euphemism falls into this category, those words we use to soften the blow. Ever notice how the term "problem" has disappeared in favor of the term "issue"? I HATE that word because it's spinning something to be better than it is.

If a situation is confusing, the Moon will often appear. At that point, take everything that you see or hear with a grain of salt. It might not be what's really going on. You know sometimes how you hear noises at night and they sound like someone may be in your home when there's no one there? That's one of the few good points of the Moon: When something looks better than it was at first glance. But the opposite could just as equally be true when you "ding" your car door and brush it off, only to realize that it's going to need some body work when you look at it in the light of day the next morning.

One other example: When this card comes up in love, there is a lot that you don't know about that person you're with, OR you've decided to settle for this person and not see their flaws. Either way, it's a problem. What about that guy you met online who neglected to mention that he's in prison, married, or in serious financial difficulty?

With this card, nothing is as it seems. So blindly rush ahead at your own peril. Make sure that you're telling any client this as well if you're reading for others. You might not know exactly what's wrong, but there is definitely something off. This one may be easier for you to tell people about, simply because you can say, "Something in this situation doesn't feel right to me."

The Moon can also represent Pisces or Neptune-ruled people. It won't surprise you to know that Neptune is known as "The Great Deceiver". 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Solar Chart of David Petraeus

Here's a look at the solar astrological chart of former US Army General David Petraeus.

Many of you may not be familiar with looking at astrological charts, so let's talk about a few things first. Gen. Petraeus' chart has a Rodden Rating of "X", which means we do not have his actual birth time. We call this a "solar chart" because we use noon as the birth time on the day of his birth. All of the relationships between the planets, the rising sign, and the houses of the chart are inaccurate without the birth time. So this will be a general planetary overview. In future charts, I'll try to pick out the ones with more accurate information. 

As a sun sign Scorpio, David would be very comfortable with secrets of all kinds. Many Scorpios are drawn to professions that involve intelligence of some kind for that reason. Every Scorpio has their own moral code, and unfortunately his decisions to have an extramarital affair made front page news. Sadly, he had the ultimate Scorpio dream job as Director of the CIA. Not trying to second guess or judge him, but COME ON, MAN. Any Scorpio on the planet--including this one--would LOVE that job. Losing it must have REALLY hurt.

Scorpio is also the sign that rules sex. What I also found interesting was that his lover was also a sun sign Scorpio. But David didn't leave his wife for this woman. He may have known that it's entirely possible he'd have run into the same problem with another person. More detail on that below.

Moon in Cancer is the moon's most comfortable position (in its dignity in the sign that it rules) and it rules our emotional selves. Underneath the hard exterior Scorpio shell was an extremely sensitive individual. I wouldn't rule out some natural psychic ability there, either. But one area that we could consider is his relationship with his mother. Many lunar Cancers have problems with mom that carry over into their adult lives. In this particular chart, the moon is conjunct Uranus; that could indicate abrupt emotional changes or shifts.

Mercury in Sagittarius means we're dealing with a straight shooter. One area he likely has to watch for is being too blunt, but likely he also has a great sense of humor. Venus in Sagittarius, however, can be a problem romantically; Sag's attitude is "don't fence me in", and it can give the tendency to become restless in love. I also wouldn't be surprised if David enjoyed being away from home almost as much as he liked being at home, and not just for extracurricular activities.

Mars in Capricorn is great for slow, steady career growth. Mars is also the lust planet, so it's quite likely that his affair started slowly and very gradually.

Unfortunately, without a birth time there's not a lot else to say on this one. But I hope you will tune in again soon when I do another astrological chart. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Warning: Venus in Retrograde Begins Tomorrow

You know the drill by now, folks. But just in case, here's a reminder of just how vital Venus is.

OK, so let's start off with some background. Venus is a planet that is extremely important astrologically, although many of us don't really pay much attention to it unless it's Valentine's Day. Here are some of the things Venus rules:

  • Love and attraction
  • Beauty in form
  • Refinement of artistic tastes
  • Our romantic, poetic, and artistic selves

Taurus and Libra folks, this is your ruling planet, the lovely and charming Venus. Some of you may also know her as the Greek goddess Aphrodite. 

Most people think about love and attraction only when it comes to romance. I'm here to tell you that Venus also has a financial role. Why? Because if we are in business for ourselves, for example--like yours truly--our ability to make money and succeed depends on our ability to attract and retain clients. So Venus has an often overlooked role in our financial success. Also, if you're looking for work, Venus is an important planet for you to attract the attention of the right employer. Problems with Venus in your birth chart and indicate both love and money difficulties.

So I hope I've been able to convince you that this lady is nothing to be trifled with. Venus goes into retrograde once every eighteen months, and before you open your mouth to complain, it's the LEAST amount of retrograde time of any of the planets in the solar system. You gotta cut the girl some slack; she's busy and needs a break! 

Anyway, when this planet starts to move "backward" in the sky, the focused is on unfinished business in our emotional and financial relationships. Here are some things to know about what you might experience, in both love and money.

Love and social affairs--Overall, relationships tend to slow down. This is not a good time to:

  • Get married
  • Go on first dates
  • Have big parties
  • Change your hairstyle
  • Wear flamboyant clothing
  • Buy a new wardrobe
  • Re-decorate your home or business

Business--You may experience:

  • Legal issues
  • Problems with diplomacy or negotiations
  • Enter into a new partnership or significant business relationship

Relationships that are already having difficulty may feel additional pressure. Venus retrograde often forces us to face feelings that we have ignored in the past, and re-evaluate those friendships and romantic partnerships as these emotions re-surface. 

Since Venus is retrograde in Gemini, the focus will really be on words and understanding how people are communicating with you. Words really can hurt, especially those closest to us, so in this position, be extremely careful as you talk to your loved ones and make sure that you mean what you say and say what you mean.  

Venus starts officially in retrograde tomorrow. So you've got a little time. It goes through the rest of May and almost all the way through June; it will be over by June 27, but the effects could be felt through the end of July. 

Good luck weathering the storm, folks. Drop me a line if you have any Venus retrograde stories I can share! :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Misfortune Teller: The Devil

Hello we're going to look at one of the worst of the major arcana of the tarot to draw, and one that has almost no positive meanings: The Devil. 

The Devil
Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot
US Games Systems, Inc. 
This is truly a card no one wants to see. Some of the possible meanings include:
  • Deliberate (chosen) ignorance or xenophobia
  • Anything we are chained to by choice that hurts us, including:
    • Crappy job
    • Any person--romantic or otherwise--who takes advantage of us in any way
    • Addiction
    • Negative patterns in our lives that we refuse to acknowledge 
Here a few examples of what I'm talking about. This is the controlling, abusive boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. This is the boss who never leaves the office and has no life, and expects the same from you. This is the person who is intolerant of people of other races, creeds, religions, or sexual preferences, simply because those people are different from him or her. This is your best friend who "crashes" with you for a few weeks after she leaves her boyfriend, but she also quits her job...and then stays with you rent-free without offering to help with the household expenses. 
We all know people like this; the Devil doesn't play favorites. And sometimes the Devil is ourselves, when we don't rise to the occasion and allow our "animal" natures--notice the bottom half of the Devil is furry--to control our lives. 

In a reading, it can often come up in a central location as an obstacle to be overcome. But no matter what form it takes, it's essential for you to understand that the client's choices made this situation
As gently as you can, it's important for you to tell a client that their choices can also set them free. The chains around the necks of the two people on the card are big enough so they may be easily removed, but it must be a deliberate CHOICE to remove them. 
This is a challenging card to receive, but it can be even more difficult if you're the reader. And when something like this comes up, especially if your client is your best friend in a new relationship, you're not going to want to tell that person, "So...looks like this new guy is a major asshole." But you can't leave it alone, either; when you pick up those cards, you tell the truth, or you put them down. 
So how do you handle it? Be direct and compassionate. That's the best way to deal with it. Remember how you would feel if you were sitting in that chair. But don't you dare sugarcoat it. 
The one positive meaning for me for this card is an astrological one: I often see Capricorn people with this card appearing.   

Friday, May 10, 2013

News Flash: Psychics Can Be Wrong Sometimes

In many types of writing, you're supposed to to put your bottom line up front. So here it is: Psychics, even the really talented ones like Sylvia Browne, can be wrong. 

She told one of the Cleveland kidnapping victim's mothers during a reading that her daughter was very likely dead. Thankfully that wasn't true, and the victims in Cleveland were freed and brought home. You can check out the article here.
You may be wondering why, as a professional tarot reader, I'd draw your attention to such an article. It's because that's the reality. For any number of reasons, we can be wrong. We're not infallible, but then again, no human being is. Also, the Tradition of the Witches Circle has a basic tarot class going on right now, and this lesson is always a good one.

Any kind of divination, which includes psychic reading/clairvoyance, tarot reading, rune casting, and any other form of divination, is a "snapshot in time". We see what is going on in that moment. But the future is dynamic and changes constantly. I have confidence in my ability, but I'd be lying if I said I always get it perfectly.

Like any other profession, psychics have a bad days. We're human and we're subject to the same foibles every one else is. We get tired, sick, or depressed. We get distracted or unmotivated. We have biases, especially when we know our clients well; when the client is a loved one it can be especially difficult. And sometimes, we just miss things. Or the Divine/Universe decided we didn't need to know, so we didn't "see" it and couldn't tell you.

The point is that even though I enjoy a very loyal clientele, and love reading cards more than most things on this planet, I urge anyone who consults a reader to take the reader's advice into perspective of the larger picture you have of your own life. It shouldn't be your only resource, however. Solicit opinions and get information from those around you that you trust.

For example, if a reader tells you that you could be fired, ask some hard questions at the office. Get feedback from your boss and others to see if this is something you really should be worried about. Let's say you have a tarot reading that you'll be fired in six months. But you take the reading seriously and start taking more initiative at work. Six months later you're still gainfully employed and got Employee of the Month last month. GOOD FOR YOU! You heard what you needed to hear so you could be successful.

If you do any kind of divinatory reading for other people--my example below will be using tarot, but substitute as you will--here are a few guidelines I follow:

  • I don't read when I am sick, extremely tired, in a bad mood, or feeling depressed. It not only impacts how well I can connect with the Divine, but it can have a negative impact on the delivery of the reading to the client.
  • I don't drink alcohol when I'm doing paid readings. If I'm reading for a friend, I never have more than one.
  • If I feel uncomfortable reading for someone, or do not feel I can be objective, I decline. Stand your ground on this one. It's very rare that I don't read for someone, but when I say no, I stand my ground.
  • I ask permission before bringing divinatory items--like cards or runes--into someone else's home/space. If they're not comfortable, then respect their wishes; it's very important not to let your ego drive the bus on this one.
  • Unless it is explicitly stated that you may share a reading and with whom, I keep what I "see" to myself. You're just getting the message across and a client's personal information isn't yours to share.
  • I remind clients that this is a "snapshot in time", and that the information should be taken in that context.
Thanks as always for tuning in!

UPDATE: Here's a response from Sylvia Browne about the reading. She says she's been "right more than wrong", and that "only God is right all the time." Well said, Sylvia! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book Review: "I Believe: When What You Believe Matters" by Eldon Taylor

You hear it over and over again: Mind over matter. Even as I write it down it sounds tired to me, like a really bad fitness instructor exhorting his class of unmotivated students to push even harder. And yet, it really does matter...a lot.

I Believe: When What You Believe Matters by Eldon Taylor will give you many, many more reasons to check yourself and what you are telling your subconscious mind.

Before you dive right in, check your skepticism at the door. As you look over the Table of Contents you'll see a lot of different subjects, and it would be easy to say, "Oh yeah, in one chapter he's going to tell us that cancer patients cured themselves by believing that they were cancer-free." With chapter titles like "Love and Pain", I can understand your skepticism entirely.

But I read this book in pieces, not as a whole. I'm not sure if it was designed to be read that way, but I felt like it was a great inspirational reference guide when I was struggling in a particular area.

My favorite chapter overall was Chapter 4, "Integrity Inviolate". To me, there are very few things more important than your personal integrity in everything that you do. We live in a world of over-promise and under-deliver. We say we're going to help a friend move when we really plan to have a migraine, for example. We're all guilty of it, so I'm not judging anyone. But Taylor's experiences, like the story about his son receiving $40 extra cash out of the ATM, are great reminders of what we should be shooting for as people.

Chapter 3, "Be Honest With Yourself and Embrace Your Flaws" came in a close second. I loved how looking at your "flaws" differently, and changing your mindset to what you consider a flaw, could revolutionize your world view, and it was one that resonated with me.

Finally, Chapter 14, "Instinct and Intuition", was a good reminder about biases in the way we perceive intuitive messages about ourselves. Of course, this is one of the many reasons people consult psychics, and I am always gratified when a client says to me, "I've been getting the feeling I should [INSERT ACTION HERE.] Can you tell me if you think it's a good idea?" But if you're empowered enough to figure it out on your own without an intermediary, that's ideal.

If you're ready to re-focus and make some life changes, I Believe is a great choice. If you're not ready for change, then this book, like any other book, class, or mindset won't help you much. But even if you're 50% ready for change, this book will re-energize you and show you through Taylor's narratives the benefits of believing in and having faith in yourself above all things.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Misfortune Teller: An Introduction

Hello everyone! Recently I did a presentation for the DC Tarot Society entitled "Misfortune in the Tarot". It is about the importance of giving bad news with the cards when it shows up, and how to do so in a way that is honest yet compassionate. Since the lecture went well, I figured I'd give it a try here on Mondays for a while and see how you like it.

So this post is an introduction to that concept. Over time, I intend to post different cards up here and talk about their negative meanings and how they might come up in a reading. For today, however, this short post will only give you a taste of what is to come.

I believe wholeheartedly in the following statement:

If you don't want the truth, don't ask the tarot for the answer. 

I never, ever pressure anyone to get a reading, whether they're a paying client or a personal friend. The reason is simple: The tarot is remarkably even-handed about giving both good and bad news, and the client may not be ready to hear the message.

My point as a reader is only to give the message. That's it. I'm not there to judge the client, nor do I expect them to follow my guidance or counsel if I give any. All I'm doing is trying to help the client see what they might not otherwise, and honestly, that doesn't have anything to do with me personally. I'm just the messenger and I try not to get in the way of the message by allowing my own biases to take hold.

But when bad news comes, it is ESSENTIAL for you to tell the person you're reading for what you saw. Don't spin it to seem better than it is. Just tell them the truth.

One other important point for new readers is to know your limitations. If someone wants a reading about their health, for example, and that's not a topic you know much about, politely decline.

Finally, if you do have bad news, and the client wants to stop, then do what they say and put the cards away. They may not be ready to hear the message. So be compassionate enough to let them off the hook easily. Under no circumstances should you be using the tarot to give a message you're too afraid to deliver directly.

I think that's it for now. Thanks for tuning in! We'll have more misfortune next Monday. :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Tarot Tour Guide by Christiana Gaudet

Tarot Tour Guide: Tarot, the Four Elements, and Your Spiritual Journey
Christiana Gaudet
Jupiter Gardens Press

In April 1989, I stood outside one of the world's greatest art museums, the Louvre, with only an inkling of what I would find inside. I knew about the Mona Lisa, "Winged Victory", and a few other gems, but otherwise, I had no idea of the depth and breadth of the collections that stood all around me. It was definitely overwhelming. 

Working with the tarot can seem overwhelming, too: There are tons of books and other resources vying for the time and attention of the beginning tarot reader. Luckily for those interested in learning the tarot, Christiana Gaudet created something that I should have had at the Louvre: A tour guide! 

Tarot Tour Guide is a remarkably complete work that surprised me with its breadth and simplicity. Everything you'd expect from a tarot book is here: Card meanings, example spreads, suggestions for tools and various techniques, and meditations. The author's tone is conversational and not pretentious, making the reader comfortable. It also doesn't make judgments about how you should or should not use the cards; in other words, Gaudet presents the options without pushing one way or the other.

What I didn't expect was the elemental focus of the book--five entire chapters dedicated to this vital topic. To me, the four elements of fire, earth, air, and water are an essential part of not only tarot, but of spiritual practice. Gaudet includes a full chapter on each of the elements and asks the student to work with each one through exercises and meditations. Most books are content with a cursory "here are the four elements" portion, but the author really went over and above to ensure that the reader understood each element. I'd love to see an individual book on each of the elements in the tarot from this author someday.  

I really liked the additional information included in each of the elemental chapters. In Chapter 8, for example, "The Element of Air", Gaudet discusses the element and the mental body, but includes related topics, like reading for other people, tarot ethics, and what to do if you feel that someone is lying during a tarot reading. The other elemental chapters follow a similar pattern, with earth focusing on work and the physical body; fire focusing on the spiritual body, creativity, and sexuality; and water presenting the emotional body, as well as love and relationship readings. The fact that these topics were organized by element really stood out for me, and for that reason they resonated with me even more. 

One final point: The readings that Gaudet includes in the book really help understand not only the elements, but the role of the tarot reader. The reading "Single Again" from Chapter 10, "The Element of Water" really hit home for me as a professional reader, because these are the types of problems our clients face every day. It's about a man going through a divorce. While you should go buy this book and read it for yourself, I'll say this much: The author does a great job of showing how to react compassionately but honestly when a client doesn't want to see the truth of a particular situation. It's a regular occurrence in my own practice as well.  

Whether you are an aspiring tarot professional or just want to develop your intuitive abilities, I'd recommend this book. It's also great for beginners, especially those who may be interested in using tarot as a larger part of their spiritual development or are drawn to a Pagan/Wiccan spiritual path.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beltane Blog Hop: My Tarot "Traditions"

Hello everyone...and blessed Beltane to all of you! If you're working your way through the entire blog hop, you're probably coming from Vivianne's blog.

Today's post is on tarot traditions, and more specifically, my own tarot traditions. Every reader has their own, and as is likely true for many other readers, mine are an eclectic mix that have evolved over time. For me, those "traditions" also meld with what I would think of as "best practices", but let me be clear: Each tarot reader is different, and each has a different method. Mine aren't any better than anyone else's.

So, in no particular order, here are some of my "traditions":

  • The tarot gives you the message you are supposed to hear, every single time it is consulted. Whether or not it is what you WANT to hear is irrelvant.
  • The message that the tarot gives is a dynamic "snapshot in time". The client's decisions make their future. All we're doing is trying to help them by letting them know what's coming.
  • The deck should be cleansed using sage smoke or a light sage-water mixture spray between readings. If that's not possible, then I cleanse them mentally while holding them in my hands for a moment before handing them to the client.  
  • Whenever possible, the client should handle the deck and decide how they will mix or shuffle it. I've seen many different methods and if they're right for the client, and the client isn't doing anything to disrespect the cards--like throw them on the ground--I'm good with it. I've never had a client be disrespectful to the cards. Once the client is done, I take the cards and cut them in 3 piles with my left hand.  
  • The cards should be treated with respect, but how it is stored isn't really that important to me. In other words, if you keep the deck in the original box, that's fine. If you want to make or buy tarot bags, or wrap your cards in a particular material, that's fine, too. I don't believe that certain materials or storage techniques enhance or detract from the reading. Speaking personally, my wife has made many of my tarot bags from cloth remnants from the fabric store that I think are cool. One of my favorites was made from my "Tarot Readers Union" tee shirt that I bought in New Orleans many years ago on my first visit.
  • If you connect with a deck, buy it and use it.  There's no special significance to receiving your first deck as a gift. My mother bought me my first deck at my request, and I used it faithfully for 20 years. It now lives permanently on the altar at the shop where I read; my wife bought me a replacement Rider-Waite-Smith deck 3 years ago for our 15th wedding anniversary.  
  • Tarot cards live, breathe, and work in the spiritual/intuitive mind of the reader. Otherwise they are just cards--pretty cards, I'll grant you that--but they have no human characteristics in the physical world. I always find it amusing when readers say, "This tarot deck doesn't like me." If YOU don't like the deck, no problem; use a different one. But they're inanimate objects.
  • When I am reading at the shop, I usually leave a piece of amethyst on top of my tarot deck when it is not in use. it's another way for me of keeping the deck "cleansed". But it's also pretty, too. I mean...I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't like amethyst.
One other "tradition" that deserves a little more explanation is that of reading tarot professionally. I believe that if you're going to read tarot professionally--and by that I mean that you take money for readings--you have to have a whole lot of confidence that what you are seeing is the truth, as well as some experience reading the cards for others and some time hitting the books. You'll see "your" truth, of course, but if you're not confident in your ability, you will struggle. 
I think some people also think that reading tarot is a great career, and jump into the moneymaking mart of it without honing their skills enough. One beginner reader I met was more concerned about the "props" and marketing herself than on doing a great reading for the client, which really bothered me. It begins and ends with the client. And I don't know anyone who has gotten rich reading cards. By and large, even if we take money for doing readings, we're not living the high life on that money. That's not a complaint, folks; it's a fact. But it's a labor of love and service; at least that's what it is for me.

Finally, depending on who you talk to, some tarot readers will not give the client "bad news" in a reading. I believe with every fiber of my being that the client has come for a reading to get the truth as the Divine/Universe sees it. If I see it, I say it. I won't read for people who "only want to hear the good things" because life doesn't work that way. For me, I'm doing a client a disservice if I don't tell them what I really see. But I labor to do so in with compassion and a positive attitude, with the understanding that the client has the ability to make changes to improve his or her life.

In other words, the tarot reader shouldn't be doing the job as an ego trip or power trip. I don't want my clients to call me every time they have to choose paper or plastic, or mint chocolate chip vs. Swiss chocolate almond--although HOLY CRAP! What a choice that would be! Speaking totally personally, I might have to pull out my own cards for that one. [WINK]

All kidding aside, part of the "tradition" of the tarot for me is sending people away feeling like they 1) have control over their own lives, even when times are tough, and 2) can indeed make choices that will improve their own condition. I want to help create EMPOWERED people who consult me when they feel they need to, but who are also capable of listening to their own intuitive sense when it comes to their own lives.

Here's to a wonderful Beltane as the wheel turns again! Brightest blessings for the holiday to all of you!

Please continue with the blog hop by visiting Tierney's blog here. And while you're at it, go buy her new tarot tool set! It's awesome!