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Announcing two Tarot Tours this coming summer in the British Isles. Last year’s trip, Tarot Magic in Merlin’s Britain, sold out early. We are doing it again, with a Tarot trip to Sacred Scotland preceeding it, and a discount if you go on both. Don’t let these journeys pass you by! Sign up before the November 30th deadline. Above is a photo of our private full moon sunrise ceremony in the circle at Stonehenge.

Just two weeks ago I discovered that the hotel where we stayed while searching for Tarot artist Pamela Colman Smith’s burial place, was a hotel she actually stayed at as a young woman. It was in 1897, the year King Arthur’s Castle Hotel opened, with its magnificent roundtable at which we did readings, that Pamela met Henry Irving of the Lyceum Theatre fame. Subsequently she toured with the Lyceum Theatre and designed costumes and sets, getting her nickname, Pixie, from her foster mother, the actress Ellen Terry. Here is what is now called the Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel, with Merlin’s Cave in the far bottom right.

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I can’t begin to tell you all the amazing things we encountered on our journey: sacred wells in out of the way locations; stone circles, several of which we had to ourselves; the special fairy glen; a ritual on a hilltop labyrinth; Glastonbury Tor and Chalice Well where Dion Fortune made her home. IMG_2104One of the most magical moments was our using dowsing rods to find what we believed was Pixie Smith’s unmarked grave. Linda dropped her pendulum, hearing it fall. We searched for it in vain, only to have the bus driver when we returned ask who had dropped a pendulum on the bus. It was Linda’s. That night at the Camelot Castle Hotel we used the pendulum to ask Pixie questions about her life – and it was months later that I discovered from one of her letters that she had probably drunk her favorite “Opal Hush” drink in that same bar 120 years before.

The Tarot Magic in Sacred Scotland Tour is

14-23 May 2018

and will feature Tarot readings in sacred sites for gaining insight into your own spiritual journey…readings whose messages will continue to unfold for years to come. Experience:

  • Inverness and surrounding area – Prehistoric Clava Cairns and standing stones, Rosemarkie Fairy Glen, Loch Ness
  • Orkney – Skara Brae, Maes Howe, Stones of Stennes, Ring of Brodgar, archaeological dig on the Ness of Brodgar
  • Iona – Abbey, Nunnery, St Columba’s Chapel
  • Standing stones at Kilmartin.

More information: https://globalspiritualstudies.com/travel/sacred-scotland/

The Tarot Magic in Merlin’s Britain Tour immediately follows on

23 May – 1 June 2018

and takes us to:

  • Stonehenge
  • Avebury and West Kennet long barrow
  • Glastonbury and surrounding area – Chalice Well, the Tor, Glastonbury Abbey, Cadbury/Camelot
  • Tintagel and surrounding area – Tintagel Castle, Merlin’s Cave, St Nectan’s Glen
  • Boscastle – Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
  • South Cornwall – Boscowen-un stone circle, Merry Maidens stone circle, holy wells of Madron and Sancreed.

More information: https://globalspiritualstudies.com/travel/avalon-to-camelot/

Watch this video of our trip, created by Linda Marson, to catch just a little of the magic: 

 

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Pamela Colman Smith was known for telling Jamaican folk tales about the spider-man trickster figure, Annancy, and also for her toy theatre performances. The toy theatre scene shown below is from her play, Henry Morganbased on a real life Welsh pirate who became lieutenant governor of Jamaica. The photo above of PCS telling a folk tale using her cutout figures was recently discovered by Dawn Robinson in Cornwall glued into a copy of The Russian Ballet.

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Toy theatres were nothing new, as from 1811 they had become a popular pasttime in pre-television, Victorian England (check out this toy theatre site). Below are two newsreels of the original Pollack’s Toy Theatre construction showing how Pamela herself would have made her theatres and especially how she would have used stencils to color her illustrations for “The Broad Sheet”, “The Green Sheaf” and other works.

Finally, join author Ronald Hutton (Triumph of the Moon, Pagan Britain and The Witches) on a tour of modern day Pollack’s Toy Museum and view the Toy Theatres seen in the old newsreels above (view about half way through Hutton’s video).

A photograph of a modern toy theatre using figures from Pixie’s Tarot deck can be found on Pinterest, but since I don’t have the original source for the photo I won’t show it until permission is given by the creator.

Check out this interview with me on The World Beyond Radio Show with Joe Weigant.  If my voice sounds a little rough it was 5:00 am as that was the only time we both could record the show.
Joe Weigant is a paranormal and parapsychology as well as reiki master who is an active police officert. Joe’s experience as a professional police investigator adds to the strength of his investigative findings and the facts that he reports to his clients.

Update: I’ve had more than 600 requests for my Tarot Scrivener template and many responses on how incredibly thorough and helpful it is. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this blog and to those who have written to tell me how much they love the template. I’m truly happy to provide this service.

Wondering where and how to keep your Tarot journal notebook? I’m offering a free Scrivener template below, but we have such a range of options these days that it’s hard to decide which way to go. I’ve tried almost every journal possibility. Here are questions to ask yourself if you are trying to decide which way to go. I suggest writing down your responses:

  • Do you prefer the experience of pen on paper or the ease of typing?
  • Do you want a fixed record of your Tarot development or the flexible changeability of computer documents?
  • Do you want to be able to carry your journal with you everywhere or do you like setting down at a regular place and time to write in your journal?
  • Do you want your Tarot journal to be completely private or shared (at least in part)?
  • Do you want it to emphasize your own drawings and sketches or be a repository for scans, photos and web research?
  • Is it more about personal contemplation of the cards, recording spreads, or research?
  • Do you prefer working within a well-developed structure or free-form (writing whatever strikes you at the moment)?
  • Would cross-referencing links and tags be especially helpful?
  • Would you like your journal to eventually become the basis of your own book on the Tarot?

Here are the main choices for your journal. Some people maintain several, for instance, recording readings on paper but writing study notes on the computer.

  • A blank-book or spiral notebook. A permanent, developmental record of your progress and the ability to integrate personal artwork and sketches. These are mobile, but sometimes bulky, can be beautiful and let you write and draw with your favorite pens on creamy paper.
  • Computer files. Use your favorite word processor (or consider Scrivener,  Evernote or Notability). With integrated systems and wifi you can switch among desktop and mobile devices with ease: taking, modifying and reorganizing your notes anywhere. Use dictation if you prefer speaking. Integrate photos and links. You can even include audio or video recordings of readings.
  • Blogs. A blog is not just for public sharing. You can set it to private or so only chosen individuals can read it. It can be a great resource especially for reviewing your readings (most recent comes up first) and writing about specific topics. Categories and tags allow you to cross-reference the same cards or symbols appearing in different contexts. Publicly blogging your ideas gives you an incentive to develop them.
  • A 3-ring binder. For those who like hard-copy, you can use a computer, print out the pages and update individual pages as they change. You can add in handwritten notes & sketches on a variety of pieces of paper, even napkins.

What if you prefer a super-organized yet flexible system but aren’t sure where to begin or what to include? Or you dream of turning your Tarot studies and experiences into a book and would like help with how to do that?

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I recommend the #1 writer’s resource for computers: Scrivener (for Mac and Windows). If you already use Scrivener then I don’t have to tell you how valuable it is. It is described as a powerful content-generation tool for long, complex writing projects. It allows you to seamlessly view your notes as a corkboard, outline, individual files or a single document. Along with tags and templates these are only a few of the structuring tools. You can work on your computer, tablet and phone, and sync through Dropbox. When you are ready, compile only those files you wish, and print, export to Word, or format directly into one of many eBook and insta-print designs.

To top it off, I’ve created a “Tarot Journal Template” for Scrivener, based on 50 years keeping a variety of Tarot notebooks, converting them into Tarot books, and editing other people’s Tarot books. The full template is hyper-organized into separate card and topic files and has “prompts” (such as for exploring each card’s layered meanings). It can also be easily modified and reorganized to suit your own preferences and needs.

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List frequently used keywords & correspondences in the Corkboard for instant access.

I’m making this template available for FREE, but if you like and use it, I hope you’ll consider donating any amount to my blog (see the PayPal donate button near the top left of my page). To receive this template, you’ll need to email me:

Click here and type: Tarot Journal Template” into the message box, then send.*
I’ll email you a .zip folder that includes instructions for importing the Tarot Journal into Scrivener.

*I’ve received a disappointing number of requests with emails that don’t work. Please double-check your email address before sending.

Scrivener is very reasonably priced for a computer application prized by published novelists, script writers and academics. While you can begin using the template immediately, you’ll want to check out all the bells-and-whistles that make Scrivener so fabulous. The program has a fairly stiff learning curve but there are many youtube videos and instruction websites that will inspire and assist you. 

I welcome suggestions and recommendations in the comments. 

Linda Marson: Internationally renowned Tarot author and teacher, Mary K. Greer, whose interest in the deck has led her down the path of teaching Lenormand, is a firm believer in the value of the traditional method. She’ll be teaching classes in Lenormand and the Tarot Court in Brighton UK, June 17 & 18, 2017. Click here for information.

Here I talk with Mary about the difference between a traditional and intuitive approach to reading the cards. First up, a reminder of where the cards originated.

Mary K. Greer:  The Petit Lenormand is a deck of 36 fortune-telling cards featuring simple images like a dog, house, and anchor. It first appeared in the 1790s in Germany, and was redesigned in 1845, soon after the death of the French fortune-teller, Mlle. Lenormand. The German publisher simply co-opted her famous name for promotional purposes as was common with occult and fortune-telling works. Although Mlle. Lenormand used a variety of card decks, she never created her own nor did she pass on her reading methods. Used primarily in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Eastern Europe and France and known in the United States in the 19th century, Lenormand cards didn’t achieve the wide-spread popularity in English that Tarot did until very recently.

Linda: What is traditional Lenormand?

Mary:  The Lenormand deck originally came with a single sheet of instructions containing specific card meanings and a single spread using all the cards. Translated into half-a-dozen languages, this sheet was included with every deck until quite recently. The pictures are emblems with specific meanings, rather than symbols with infinite ones. Thus, the meanings and method are clear, well-known and still used today. These meanings focus on general areas of danger and difficulties and of pleasure and success in one’s mundane life with no metaphysical content. They best address questions about what has, is, or will happen, like the plot of a story. Among other things, they can also help with describing people and finding lost objects through identifying particular clues to look for.

Tarot, by contrast, was originally a card game. Divinatory meanings, techniques and occult symbology were added nearly 350 years after its creation. There are significant variations according to different authors. Each symbol on a Tarot card can have an infinite number of references held together by a broad, allegorical theme. Tarot is used as much or more for spiritual guidance and personal development as it is for fortune-telling.

Linda: I’ve heard a lot about so-called traditional Lenormand versus intuitive Lenormand. What’s this all about?

MaryAt heart is the idea that one can either read the cards by following a rigid system or by using the cards as a trigger to one’s own intuitive impressions or psychic messages. Psychic messages come from an external, non-physical source. Pure psychic (extra-sensory) information doesn’t need an external tool, except, perhaps as a focus, so one isn’t really “reading Lenormand.”  Traditional and intuitive approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. The best traditional readers are intuitive!

Intuition, which is based on an instantaneous leap or perception of a meaning or pattern based on the sensory evidence and experience, benefits from knowledge about the tradition, which limits possibilities and lends precision and concreteness to an answer. Personal assumptions, bias and opinions can easily be taken for intuition, so a cross-check mechanism is beneficial. Intuition works best when it perceives patterns in the data laid before one; prior knowledge helps you see relevant meaning in those patterns. Like learning a foreign language, at some point you forget the rules and individual words and find yourself speaking fluidly.

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Cards from a Russian deck: the Lilac Twilight Lenormand.

Most traditional readers are very intuitive. Once you know the meaning and methods of the cards you can see at a glance what the cards are saying, plus you can double-check your insight by briefly reviewing the roots and, in larger readings, checking other cards related to the question to see if there are counter-indications. Furthermore, other traditional readers are likely to draw the same conclusions—you speak the same “language.” I saw this happen when a friend and I were looking at her Grand Tableau at a conference. Over two days we asked several different Lenormand readers (who had learned independently of each other) what they saw, only to have them report almost identical observations.

I’ve followed hundreds of personal readings in on-line study groups and found that the majority of interpretations reported as accurate were by traditional readers. Whereas those who confessed they were just saying what they “felt” were rarely spot on. Additionally, these “intuitive-only” readers often answered predictive questions (“Will I pass the exam?) with advice rather than a prediction, a teaching rather than a description. For instance, instead of seeing indicators of whether the querent would pass the exam or not, the intuitive reader might say, “I feel you’re over-stressed and not getting enough sleep. Have some camomile tea tonight and know that you’ve done everything necessary to get the result you really want.” It’s nice advice, but it doesn’t answer the question, and may have little or nothing to do with the traditional meaning of the cards.

The traditional method of reading Lenormand is to read all 36 cards in a layout known as the Grand Tableau. Modern traditionalists often use shorter layouts that are segments of the Grand Tableau, allowing one to focus on a very specific question, using a specific syntax for clarity. Cards modify other cards according to explicit rules. Intuitive-only readers tend to go with their “impression” of whatever strikes them most strongly. Or they may favor Tarot-like spreads where each card is interpreted separately in terms of its position meaning. There’s a tendency to see the good in negative cards and to seek a positive outcome or perspective. Traditional Lenormand, on the other hand, can sometimes be quite harsh, telling one definitively what he or she didn’t want to hear.

Linda: Can you give me an example of a traditional interpretation?

MaryI’ll go one better and compare three approaches. I’ve posited the querent as a man who wants to know “Should I hire this particular applicant for a job opening?” Three cards were drawn at random:

8-Coffin – 15-Bear – 28-Man

From Madam Morrow's Fortune Telling Cards (New York: McLaughlin Bros., 1886).
Madam Morrow’s Fortune Telling Cards (New York: McLaughlin Bros., 1886).

Original Tradition Reading

The Man card always refers to a male querent. (If the querent is female, Man is her significant other). The first card on the left is the subject. Coffin means illness, financial loss, endings. The nearer Coffin is to the person (Man) the more serious the situation is (here it is very near!). Bear means good fortune but cautions against envious persons. Being right next to a strongly negative card of loss (Coffin+Bear), Bear says the querent should be cautious of an envious person who has recently experienced great loss. We look at the cards both as a sequence, in terms of what modifies what, and also as three pairs:

  • Coffin+Bear: sickness; envy and jealousy. The applicant may have experienced his own loss: of a former job, money or health. 
  • Bear+Man: the querent’s good fortune creates envy in another (Bear is modified by a negative card). 
  • Coffin+Man: a recent loss on the part of the querent. Coffin could indicate a simple “no, don’t hire the person” but might also point to the fact that the loss of one employee has necessitated the hiring of another.

Answer: “No; you are cautioned against hiring this person.”

Modern Tradition Reading

Modern referents have been added to the traditional ones in order to fill in the gaps and make the cards a little more concrete. But, while some variations occur, the core meanings should always show through.

Man is still the querent. Cards to the left of Coffin show what is lost (money, health, etc.), while cards to the right may indicate a new beginning. (Modern thinking has added the meaning of box or container to Coffin but that’s not applicable here.) Bear has accrued meanings of strength, power, authority and stored money (invested or saved), while keeping the warnings about envy and jealousy. He appears “hungry following a loss.” Additionally Bear can indicate one or both parents or grandparents (among other authority figures). Given a different question these cards might point to the loss of a parent; it’s worth checking. The subject is still Coffin; the next card modifies the subject, like an adjective, indicating financial loss or loss of strength. The Man (querent) needs to be careful as this new applicant is not a good risk. At worst, he might embezzle money from the firm or try to overpower the querent (be “overbearing”).

Answer: “No; this applicant could cause problems for you and the company.”

From the Piatnik Lenormand Cartomancy Deck
From the Piatnik Lenormand Cartomancy Deck

We can see that the modern traditionalist has a little more latitude for interpretation and the possibility of richer details of which an intuitive person can make much. Someone who really knows their core meanings can easily check the story they’ve intuited against the original meanings for verification.

Intuition-only Reading

This could go so many different ways, yea or nay depending on the story being told, so here’s just one possibility.

Answer: “Since the company lost an employee (Coffin), you now have an opening for someone new (Coffin is in the past). Bears are strong, powerful and this applicant has appeared at just the right time to fill the opening. Bears can be very protective and take care of their young. He’s authoritative and, since Bear means money, he will bring lots of money into the firm. He’s a good investment for you. It’s like you’re closing the door on the past and someone strong is coming in. See, your losses are over. We see him (Man) at the end arriving at the office for his first day at work.”

This person knows some meanings for the cards but not all of them; it’s kind of hit-or-miss, but once a story element is discerned it tends to be elaborated upon; subsequent elements are fit into that original scenario, like the wicked step-sisters trying on Cinderella’s shoe. Emphasis is on the cards by themselves in past, present or future positions, rather than modifying each other. At times the card’s art is scanned for symbolic possibilities. The tendency is to “over-answer” the question and try to convince with too many details.

A traditional short reading requires a quick survey of card keywords, integrating them into fresh concepts according to a syntax or structure, to determine a succinct, specific, concrete answer to the question. In addition to a full Grand Tableau, Lenormand works well as an adjunct to Tarot where a quick Lenormand layout can clarify things that came up in the Tarot reading.

Linda: How does one become a traditional reader?

Mary There are both websites and online study groups at Facebook (search on Lenormand) and several recent books in English (check Amazon for books and decks). Or, best yet, take my introductory course in Brighton UK on June 17!  

Finally: practice, practice, practice.

Agatha Christie’s detective, Miss Marple, said she solved crimes by recognizing the characteristics of people she knew well from her own small village.

Come to my June 18 class on the Court Cards to hone your skills (details at the end of this post).

What if each of the Court Cards was a suspect in an Agatha Christie murder mystery? Why don’t we call it, Murder at the Tarot Symposium! Sixteen is a lot of suspects, so let’s whittle down the possibilities. That’s easy because it’s one of the Court Cards who’s been killed. I shuffle my deck and the first card off the top is the Queen of Cups reversed. Sorry, Isabella Donati. It seems you fell down a steep flight of stairs (3 of Pentacles is the next card), right in front of two of the Court Cards, the Queen of Wands and Knight of Swords who were standing at the bottom of the stairs. They saw a hidden figure stick out a booted foot forcing the lovely Ms. Donati to fall. That leaves thirteen suspects.

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Four teenagers, the Pages, who were newbies at this symposium, were at that moment being admonished by the Queen of Swords for bad-mouthing one of the presenters (9 of Swords). So that’s five more who are out, leaving eight.

The King of Cups reversed was in the bar – drunk as usual, telling his maudlin story to a High Priestess. Meanwhile, the Knight of Cups tried to extricate himself (8 of Swords reversed) from a lecture on the “true” history of Tarot by the argumentative, know-it-all King of Pentacles (5 of Wands). 

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That leaves five.

The King of Wands is followed by the Ace of Cups. He’s a passionate man who carried a torch for the beautiful and dreamy Queen of Cups, although she hardly deigned to take her eyes off her tarot deck to look at him. Hadn’t he offered to get Ms. Donati a cup of water?

The King of Swords, described by the 6 of Pentacles, was dispensing his definitive opinions to the vast unwashed masses via a podcast, so he’s out, isn’t he, or was the podcast pre-recorded? He didn’t like that students preferred Ms. Donati’s intuitive skills to the logic of his teachings.

The Knight of Pentacles reversed is a tee-totaler (4 of Cups reversed), supposedly off meditating in the retreat room. But I think a gift he’d brought Ms. Donati had been rebuffed.

The Queen of Pentacles reversed was doing voice exercises (Judgment) before her presentation on coming out of the closet as a tarot reader. Hadn’t she called out the blond-haired Ms. Donati in the past for being too blatantly revealing?

Last of the 16 and represented by the final two cards in my shuffled deck, the Knight of Wands, although young and impulsive, had considered Ms. Donati to be his special mentor (Hierophant). He had recently run off when he found her tutoring others. 

Who do you think murdered Ms. Donati, the Queen of Cups? And why?

I’ll be teaching workshops in Brighton, UK on 17-18 June, 2017, including a Court Cards class and a Lenormand class. If you are in England at that time, you won’t want to miss these experiential sessions where we seriously learn as well as have fun! I hope to see you there. Sign up now at GlobalSpiritualStudies.com

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What, you might ask, does the Cornwall of Merlin’s Britain have to do with the Tarot? And why am I leading a tour there? To join this unique tour, sign up by January 31, 2017 at Global Spiritual Studies.

Pamela Colman Smith, artist of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck died in Bude Cornwall, just north of Merlin’s Tintagel, in 1951. Smith owed a considerable sum of money so that all her possessions, including her artwork, was sold at auction to pay the bills. Prior to living in Bude she lived at the far end of Cornwall in a place called The Lizard, where she ran a vacation home for Catholic priests. Waite, Smith, Merlin and even King Arthur all share a major part of Britain’s magical past, with their stories converging in Cornwall and Glastonbury, which we will explore on this tour.

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H. J. Ford

We will visit Tintagel Castle, the birthplace of Arthur that came about through Merlin’s magic, and the supposed burial place of Merlin. We even hope to find the lost burial place of Smith herself.

‘Marvellous Merlin is wasted away
With a wicked woman:–woe might she be!
For she hath closed him in a crag
On Cornwall coast.’

The Death of Merlin by Ernest Rhys (1898)

The Minor Arcana of the Tarot by Pixie (her small stature and dark coloring led her to declare herself of fairy blood) is in a style quite different from that of the Major Arcana. A look at the late 19th and early 20th century Arthurian and Grail artists depicted in the University of Rochester’s Camelot Project, demonstrate that the Minor Arcana is of this artistic tradition. Could there be a reason for this? I believe so, as stated by Waite himself when he wrote that the Ace of Cups (the Grail) “is an intimation of that which may lie behind the Lesser Arcana.” Waite also named the Knight of Swords Galahad. This should not be surprising as the same year the deck was published also saw publication of Waite’s book, The Hidden Church of the Holy Grail. This work features a chapter titled, “The Hallows of the Graal Mystery: Rediscovered in the Talismans of the Tarot,” specifically on the Minor Arcana of the Tarot (each suit is one of the four Grail “Hallows”) with no mention of the Majors! On the tour I will reveal how Waite envisioned the Minor Arcana as rough outlines for a quaternity of ritual pageants depicting a great Spiritual Loss, while the Major Arcana represent the path of Mystical Attainment that’s at the heart of the story of Glastonbury and Cornwall. Come join me, Linda Marson of Global Spiritual Studies, and tour guide and author extraordinare, Jamie George, of Glastonbury’s Gothic Image Bookshop and publishing house, on a tour you’ll never forget.

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Florence Harrison

 

“What does he (or she) think (or feel) about me?” In the whole field of card divination this is one of the most asked questions online and one of my least favorite. In my experience people are a hotbed of conflicting thoughts and feelings that change from moment to moment and circumstance to circumstance. To say nothing of one’s head and heart giving us different messages! You think of your sweetie with longing as you anticipate going out with him that evening, then he calls to say he’ll be watching a game with his buddies instead. Suddenly you think he’s a scumbag and plan how you won’t be available when he wants some. Meanwhile, you’re facing an evening at home alone. Or, “he hasn’t called in a week—not since . . .” Or, “I want to ask her out, but am unsure if she sees me as anything other than an annoying co-worker.”

An old booklet from the 1890s might have just the spread for you. Taken from the Livre du Destin or Book of Destiny card deck printed by Grimaud in Paris, this simple layout may be exactly what you need. Furthermore, it may have been an inspiration for the core of the original Celtic Cross spread. I’ve included some clarifying remarks in brackets.

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Livre du Destin (Chartier-Marteau & Boudin/Grimaud), 1890.

“How To Read Somebody’s Thoughts”

“After shuffling and cutting the cards, ask the person to choose any five of them, and lay them down as follows:

“The first is laid across the blank one, which represents the person whose thoughts you are reading.” [Choose a Significator for that person. Next, fan the shuffled deck, and have the querent choose a card which you lay across the Significator.] “This shows what his heart is feeling.”

“A second one is laid at the top, and shows his thoughts.”

[These first two cards—following the Significator—depict what is consciously going on in the person’s heart and head.]

“Another is placed at the bottom, and represents what he tramples under foot.” [This is “beneath him”—the more unconscious feelings or thoughts that he (or she) is squelching or ignoring.]

“On the left is what he is fond of and on the right what he cares nothing for.” [That is, what he likes and dislikes in the querent.]

Try this with your favorite divination deck and let us know, in the comments, how it works for you.

 

Written by Lyn Howarth-Olds (New Zealand)
Friend and honoured to be assisting in the management of the K. Frank Jensen Collection

 It is with great sadness that the Tarot world said goodbye this week to a wonderfully unique human-being, K. Frank Jensen (Denmark). He was 83.

Frank’s interest in Tarot began in the early ‘70s. He was not a Tarot Reader. But, among other things, he was a Tarot collector, Tarot author, Tarot researcher and archivist.

In 1975 he established Spilkammeret (literally ‘The Chamber of Games’). Spilkammeret’s purpose was to collect, preserve, register and document divinatory and symbolic systems (mainly tarot and cartomancy decks) manufactured and used during the 20th century. At the turn of the Millennium the aim was fulfilled and his collection contained approximately 95% of all tarot and cartomantic decks published during the 20th century along with a number of earlier decks. The collection was unique inasmuch as it was considered the most complete in existence.

It was to my great delight that Frank took time in 2011 to contribute to my Letters to the Past Tarot Project. Letters to the Past was an international collaboration featuring 22 well known tarot contemporaries. Each contributor wrote a letter to an historical figure posing a tarot related question. Every letter – completely unique – provided fascinating insight into the world of tarot, its past, its present and its future. Frank’s contribution was a letter penned to Monseigneur Antoine Court de Gébelin. The final paragraph of this letter reads as follows:

Mon Cher Monsieur Gébelin, life is short and death lasts so long. We leave traces of whom we were; we sort of exist, as long as we are remembered. It is, however, only the very few who can leave an imprint that lasts over centuries. You did, but not by your linguistic studies nor by your studies of ancient myths. You lived on through your intuitive and unsubstantiated contention in volume 8 of Monde Primitif, that a deck of 78 playing cards was a secret book by the Egyptian god, Thoth. You would be amazed to see what the seed you sowed, 225 years later, has developed into. It’s likely that you would also be shocked to learn that tarot is no longer solely an esoteric system, but has become mass media, a vehicle for dreams and frustrations, and an industry run by commercial interests.

Fortunately for us all, Frank has also left ‘an imprint’. Something he will be remembered by. He too has ‘sown seeds’.

On December 21, 2012, Frank signed an agreement to generously donate his very large – one-of-a-kind – collection to the Roskilde University Library, Denmark. Much of the collection is already in the hands of the Library. The remaining items that were still in Frank’s possession will be transferred in the coming weeks/months.

It was Frank’s desire that his collection remained whole. Completely intact. In his view, ‘the real value of a collection is its degree of completeness’. Interested parties had contacted him over the years offering their services to act as custodians, care for the collection or to set up Trusts. But in the end Frank was adamant that his collection of around 1500 tarot decks, 600 cartomancy/fortune telling decks, along with some 3000 books and his archive of correspondence, should be kept together in an official institution.

And so it is. Roskilde University Library, only a short distance from where Spilkammeret was originally housed, will care for the K. Frank Jensen Collection. The Collection will not be broken-up, sold, or squirreled away behind closed doors in private collections. It will forever remain accessible to researchers and interested parties. The K. Frank Jensen Collection is managed by a Board of Directors.

So in closing I will add, Frank Jensen, you too will be ‘one of the few who have left an imprint that lasts over centuries’, and for that we are truly grateful.

More information about the Collection can be found:

https://rub.ruc.dk/en/about-library/k-frank-jensen-collection/
http://www.manteia-online.dk

Thank you, Lyn Howarth-Olds, for this detailed information about Frank and for befriending him in such a wonderful way. I corresponded with Frank many times over the years and appreciated greatly his generosity with all his knowledge about Tarot. –mkg

Many people come to Tarot readings in hopes of “fixing” their lives—obtaining information and guidance that will help them make the “right” decisions and no mistakes—guaranteeing perfection.

I subscribe to the BrainPickings blog featuring contemplative posts on creativity, literature and non-fiction. This week’s post has some applicable thoughts by George Saunders and Parker Palmer that show the narrowness of perfection.

George Saunders“Although we’re animated by conflicting impulses and irrepressible moral imperfection, we can still live rich and beautiful lives.”wpid-Photo-Apr-19-2011-710-PM.jpg


 Parker Palmer“Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.” 

I ask you, as a Tarot reader, how can we help the querent “embrace brokenness”?

On the other hand, I sometimes hear from clients that a reading primarily showed them something they knew already. I ask them if they knew that what was shown was the most important thing to take into account in their situation—the key to their decision-making process and the true value of their experience.

This is mirrored in a BrainPickings post on poet Denise Levertov in which she is quoted:

“One can anyway only be shown something one knows already, needs already. Showing anyone anything really amounts to removing the last thin film that prevents their seeing what they are looking at.” Talking High Priestess

Ah, what a perfect way to describe the best that can happen in a Tarot reading!

And one last quote. This time from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act 1: Scene 2). Imagine that the Tarot itself is speaking to you as your mirror—a metaphor often used in describing the way in which the Tarot works.

And since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.

It is not really that we don’t know these things, but rather that we don’t know their relevance. The Tarot offers us the in-sight.

 

 

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Mary K. Greer has made tarot her life work. Check here for reports of goings-on in the world of tarot and cartomancy, articles on the history and practice of tarot, and materials on other cartomancy decks. Sorry, I no longer write reviews. Contact me HERE.

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