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I’ve collected quite a few Tarot music albums over the years so I thought I’d share what I have. I ask you to contribute to this list in the comments section. I link mainly to amazon but you’ll find many of these on iTunes and probably other places on the web. Forgive the dearth of commentary but, lacking a musical background, I feel unqualified to speak of the characteristics of each album.

I begin with my personal favorite (otherwise the list is in no particular order). It might not even be a tarot album except that the CD cover features the Star and the Fool. Still, listen to the story-telling folk-style lyrics and tell me this is not about the Fool’s journey through the cards: Pilgrims by Eliza Gilkyson.

Tarot by Réjean Paquin. Serious musical compositions for the 22 Major Arcana (with voice/sounds reflecting social commentary). There is plenty of variety that accords well with each Arcana.

Tarots, composed by Tomás Marco, guitar by Juan Carlos Laguna. Booklet in Spanish and English. Classical guitar pieces for the Major Arcana.

Tarot Music for Readings by Gene Newton. New Age, synthesizer, meditative. Not much variation.

Music of the Tarot by David & Steve Gordon. Meditative space-music with 3 pieces that cover the 22 Major Arcana and separate pieces for each suit of the Minors.

The Power of a New Aeon: Musical Impressions of the Tarot by mixed artists. Two-CD set. A selection for each card of the Major Arcana. The styles vary widely but seem to emphasize heavy metal (?).

The Book of Thoth: A Musical Interpretation of the Tarot by Zehm Aloim. This album doesn’t seem to be readily available but you’ll find a review here. Music for six of the Arcana. Zehm Aloim also created music to go with several Israel Regardie Golden Dawn training audios (found on iTunes).

Tarot: a musical and spiritual album inspired by the Tarot, music by Kevin Kendle; text by Steve Hounsome. New Age, mystical, covers the Fool through Wheel of Fortune.

Tarot Keys by Ruth Ann Amberstone. Collection of piano improvisations for the Major Arcana composed in the key of the musical note assigned to that card by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Cups of the Heart: A Musical & Poetic Journey into the Minor Arcana by Emerald Joy and Paul Tye. Poetic visualizations narrated to music for the Suit of Cups.

Tarot Suite by Mike Batt and friends. I only have the vinyl and haven’t listened to it in 30+ years. Now available on amazon mixed with another Batt album.

Osho Zen Tarot: Music from the World of Osho is not actually tarot-related but is, rather, spiritual, India-influenced New Age music taken from other Osho music collections. You may enjoy reading the cards while listening to it.

Voyage of the Acolyte by Steve Hackett (thanks to P.D. Newman).

Teargarden By Kaleidyscope from Smashing Pumpkins (thanks to P.D. Newman).

Turn of the Cards from Renaissance (thanks to P.D. Newman). Described as classical/prog rock. The only direct tarot connection seems to be the cover and title. Nice.

Tarot: “Die  Welt” by Walter Wegmüller (thanks to Bertrand Saint-Guillain), Described as the “funkiest of funk”; Vol. 2 with images from Wegmüller’s deck found on Youtube here.

How could I have forgotten this one? Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles by Suzanne Vega. Several songs on this album are tarot-based by title or otherwise.

The Fool’s Journey: Solo by Liz Deyoe. Instrumental guitar. Ten pieces, each named after one of the 78 cards. Lovely.

Note: There is a heavy metal band from Finland named Tarot but I’m unaware of any tarot card-related music by them.

You’ll find plenty of individual tarot-based songs and tunes on non-tarot albums. The best of which is “The Wheel” by Rosemary Cash, while others, like “Pokerface” by Lady Gaga and “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” by Joe Nichols, feature tarot primarily through images in their music videos (as “The Wheel” also does brilliantly!). Others can be found by looking through my blog category: Tarot Music Videos.

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Joe Nichols music video with tarot reading at end.

Please mention your favorite songs in the comments along with why you like them.

Added to individual songs: Cassandra Wilson, sings “Tarot” on her album, Thunderbird (thanks to Charlie Harrington). “The Fool” from Hills and Rivers (thanks to Dovid DeHay). “Six of Swords” and “Four of Cups” from HobbyHorse (thanks to their vocalist Annie Aronson). “Tarot” by Chad Shank (thanks to Chad Shank); it’s really good!

Watch Xena: Warrior Princess Episode, “Bitter Suite,” available on youtube for only $1.99. The entire episode is sung, beautifully! It’s well-worth it. More info here including the Tarot references and sources for these.

A third category would be music that you play when you want to do deep work with the tarot, either for reading or meditation. My favorite deep trance-meditation music for tarot is El-Hadra the Mystic Dance by Klaus Wiese.

Lawman – “Tarot” – Season 4, Episode 13.

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Lily:  Did you bring the tarot cards, Joe?
Joe Wyatt ( Lily’s friend who has just arrived in town):  Ever see me without them? (gets tarot cards out of a large cigarette case) 
Johnny (the Lawman’s deputy):  What kind of cards are they, Mr. Wyatt?
Joe Wyatt: Fortune telling cards. The gypsies had them when they wandered the ruins of Rome. These were old when the pyramids went up on the banks of the Nile. Or so they say. Nobody knows who made up the first tarot deck. Some say the Devil himself. 
LilyTell my fortune, Joe. For old time’s sake. 
Joe Wyatt: If you remember old times, Lily, you know I never tell individual fortunes. Makes for disappointment and unnecessary worry. 
Lily: Please, Joe.
Joe Wyatt: Well, I suppose I could lay out the tarot deck for all of us, a  kind of general fortune that might apply to any one of us here. Will the fair queen cut? (He lays out the cards in a six card cross, the first card, crossed under the Wheel of Fortune, is face down and is never turned up.)
5 of Cups – Somebody’s going to get some money. 
The Juggler standing upright – Somebody’s going to take a trip.
The Wheel of Fortune beside the dark of the Moon – That’s kind of hard to figure, unless somebody’s going to sit up all night with a pot of gold.
Lily (looking at the final card): The Hanged Man.
Johnny: Well, what does that one mean?
Joe Wyatt: Oh, it’s not exactly the best card in the deck. Stay out of bad weather, bad company, something like that.
Johnny: Oh, I see. 
Lily: You better tell him what it really means, Joe.
Joe Wyatt: If there were anything to this nonsense, it’d mean that somebody at this table is going to die.
(Much later after two of the four predictions come true . . . )
Joe Wyatt: If you keep looking you’ll find everything in the tarot cards, one way or another. It’s a carnival act from a circus. 
(At the end, as Joe lays dying and all the predictions have come to pass, he gives the tarot to Lily): 
Joe Wyatt: Might even make a man think there was something to all those cards. But don’t you pay any attention to them, Lily. They only tell you what you want them to tell you.

Thanks to Paul Nagy I’m adding the Have Gun—Will Travel episode, “Everyman” from 1961 (Season 4, Ep 27) that starts with a Tarot reading featuring “The Drowned Sailor, the Phoenician” (the card is never shown, but according to A.E. Waite, it’s the true name of the Hanged Man). Could “Everyman” refer to the Fool?

Name that deck!

Learn more about an up-coming fictional documentary film about a mysterious deck of Tarot cards that reveals ancient alchemical secrets at this weekend’s Readers Studio at the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott in New York. The art and video are by Andrea Aste, an Italian artist and film-maker.

The Book of Shadows: The Lost Code of the Tarot

The song in English:

Fashion is constantly changing
But as long as the world exists
The Gypsy with an old pack of cards
Will have at least one client…
Someone longing for bizarre miracles
Will knock on her door
And she will lay out in front of him
Those noble kings of hers…
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this –
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this –
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future

Card-reading can foretell happiness
Or an unexpected blow of fate
Imprisonment and a long journey
Or everlasting faithful love…
Old cards will spread out like a fan
On a shawl decorated with fringe
And suddenly the Gypsy herself
Will believe her noble kings…
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this –
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this –
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future.

Time destroys granite castles
And covers towns with sand
But years don’t mean anything
For those cards in the Gypsy’s hands…
The heart melts as the fortune-teller speaks
And at all the crossroads of the world
The noble kings are telling lies
With the same expression on their faces…
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this –
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this –
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future.

Translation from around-lyrics.com.

Didn’t think it could get any better? Watch this version:

A tarot deck was created for the 1998 movie Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. You can get a reading with it here (warning: an old form of flash is used and may not work on many computers). See a selection of the cards in this fan video:

According to the trailer, the new movie Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows features a tarot card reader and an original Oswald Wirth tarot deck. (Thanks to Shelley for the heads-up.) Obviously Wirth and Holmes never meet, but wouldn’t that make a great story!!! For those who were blown away by Noomi Rapace as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version), she is playing the gypsy fortune teller. I’m looking forward to seeing her in a different role. Check out Oswald Wirth’s tarot spread—a reclaimed classic.

Danish tarot collector and author, K. Frank Jensen shared with me the story of how an original Oswald Wirth deck came to be used in the movie:

“In August 2010, a British woman, Laura Tarrant-Brown, addressed a number of members of the ‘International Playing Card Society’, including me, about buying or hiring ‘the original full set of Tarot cards that Oswald Wirth re-drew for his master, Guaita Stanishas in 1889′. It should be used ‘in a film set in Paris/London 1890’. An alternative could be the 1926/27 version of Wirth’s images. Tarrant-Brown did, of course, not have any response on this enquiry except from me. As far as I know, only two decks are known, one in the possession of a Japanese collector (formerly from the R.C.Bell collection of games); the other belonged to the late Belgian collector, Hans Wesseling, whose widow wanted it sold. Guido Gillabel, likewise Belgian collector, took care of the sale. At the time of Tarrant-Brown’s request Gillabel was preparing listing the decks on ebay. I was aware that the Wirth deck was among them so I asked Gillabel if he wanted to sell the deck directly and at what price? Wesseling’s widow wanted EUR 1200.- for it. I would have liked to buy it myself, but don’t just have EUR 1200.- available here and now, and Tarrant-Brown didn’t hesitate. That’s how the deck ended up in the film, and I have been annoyed ever after that I didn’t just buy the deck.

“Tarrant-Brown couldn’t really accept that the 22 cards were a full set, even if I told her so twice. She wanted to search further for ‘the missing 56 cards’, likely mislead by the so-called “Oswald Wirth Tarot – The Original and only authorized Oswald Wirth Tarot Deck” published by USGS (1976). Wirth worked only with the majors, and USGS’s deck has nothing whatsoever to do with the original Wirth illustrations. (The 22 Major Arcana cards of the USGS edition are illustrated by a Michél Simeon. The booklet that comes with the deck states however, that the majors are “as designed by Wirth” while the minors are “newly created”.)

“Tarrant-Brown was not very communicative and later she told me that the film was a Sherlock Holmes production but didn’t answer my question whether Wirth and Guaita are characters in the film. She likewise never answered my question of what would happen to the deck once the film was finished.

“Now I am at it: I’ve been working on a handcoloured Wirth deck. The line art are redrawings of Wirth’s illustrations by a probably German artist, the colours are based upon the pack in the Japanese collection.  It will be a very limited edition. Three decks are finished and disposed of. Further 6 or 7 copies are in work. There won’t be more than those due to the time-consuming work.” (Below: extremely limited edition, K. Frank Jensen hand-colored 1889 Oswald Wirth deck.)

Jeanne Fiorini asks a great question on her video “TarotWorks Tarot Tip #10”:

Do you use your tarot as you would the Emergency Room, or do you use your tarot the way you would the Health Food Store?

Think about this for a moment before you watch her video:

Jeanne is a tarot maven, with creations ranging from tarot wrapping paper to bags to books to instructional videos—all found at TarotWorks. In addition to her youtube videos you’ll find lots of helpful advice in her book Tarot Spreads and Layouts, especially as it relates to tarot for personal insight. In some ways, the title is a misnomer in that this short but pithy book contains far more in terms of sensible advice and good reading skills than you get in most other books. How often, as I read her text, I found myself thinking, “I wish I had said that!” To give myself credit, occasionally I have, as Jeanne is not reinventing the wheel but succinctly describing methods that take years to discover otherwise—in a no nonsense and elegantly easy-to-understand way. In a recent article in the American Tarot Association newsletter, Tarot Reflections, you can learn how Jeanne has integrated her studies of Psychosynthesis with her approach to Tarot.

The spreads and layouts comprise almost two-thirds of the book, and what is truly unique here isn’t just the layouts or the different number of cards or the range of issues (which we also get), but that we are given:

  • questions that will help us understand what a card means in a particular spread position,
  • things to consider about how the cards might relate to each other,
  • guidelines for expanding the layout,
  • helpful hints and reminders about intention, focus and attitude.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do you want to know how playing cards are actually made? Here are a series of videos that take you through the historical development of the major deck production techniques.

This video from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London shows how woodcut playing cards were created:

The Rider-Waite-Smith deck was produced by Lithography (technically chromolithography as several colors were involved). The process was similar to what’s shown here except with a really big stone, a big press, and a separate run for each color:

Cartamundi in Belgium, who have printed many modern tarot decks, demonstrate how they print their playing cards:

I really hesitated about including this video, as it breaks my heart, but, since so many tarot decks are now printed in China, I thought it important that we understand a little of what is involved in obtaining such cheap prices:

And for something a little more personal—

Check out these sites:

If you don’t want to design your own deck but like a bit of handwork and a deck that looks different and, in many cases, is more immediate in its impact, try cutting off the borders of one of your decks. Tarotforum has a page with pictures of hundreds of trimmed tarot decks—check out which ones work best here first. And, here’s a video by Donnaleigh on how to do it:

Heidi Kabel as Die Kartenlegerin

The German word for Cartomancer is Kartenlegerin. A YouTube search brings up two fascinating works. The first is the amazing singer/actor Heidi Kabel as the card reader in the made-for-TV play, Die Kartenlegerin (1968). A rough translation by Alexander Kurzwernhart of the reading is available in the Comments. One thing to note is the method of “counting cards,” which is a key cartomancy technique used when reading a layout of the whole deck (usually 32, 36 or 52 cards). One counts 5, 7 or 9 cards in any direction from the querent’s significator and from the significator of the ‘person of interest’. (It looks like she’s stabbing the cards with her finger.) Fast forward to Minute 6:00 to begin the reading.

Schumann’s – Die Kartenlegerin, Op.31 No.2

Robert Schumann (1810-1856) wrote this song in 1840 (based on a poem in French “Les cartes ou l’horoscope” by Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780-1857)), about a young girl stopping her sewing to quickly read her cards while her mother sleeps. Learn more about it here. The translation comes from the Lotte Lehmann League. You might want to listen to the music while you read the English lyrics.

Has mother finally fallen asleep
Over her book of sermons?
You, my needle, now lie still,
Stop this constant sewing.
I shall read the cards,
Oh, what things can I expect,
Oh, how will it all end?
If I am not deceived,
One, I think of, will appear,
Great, here he comes,
The knave of hearts knows his duty.
A rich widow? oh dear.
Yes, he woos her, I’m undone,
Oh! the wicked scoundrel.
Heartache and much vexation,
A school with restricting walls,
But the king of diamonds will take pity
And comfort me.
A nicely delivered present,
He elopes with me, a journey,
Money and happiness in abundance.
This king of diamonds
Must be a prince or king,
Which means that it won’t take much
For me to be a princess.
Here’s a foe, who strives to soil
My name before His Majesty,
And a fair-haired man stands by me.
A secret comes to light,
And I escape just in time,
Farewell, O life of splendor,
Ah, that was a cruel blow.
The one is gone, a crowd
Surges around me
That I can scarcely count them all.
What’s this?
A dumb female apparition,
A wheezing old woman coming my way,
To banish love and happiness
Before my youth has gone?
Ah, it’s mother, who’s woken up,
Opening wide her mouth to scold.
No, the cards never lie.

I’ve been busy recently doing a couple of interviews as well as my two-part webinar, and I wanted to make these links available.

Tarot Can Help Interview

I was thrilled to be asked recently to do an interview with Fiona Tankard from Italy. In return she offered to do a reading for me, which is included in the interview. After a couple of rough starts via Skype we had a really enjoyable talk. Then she discovered that her recording hadn’t worked. Luckily I was trying out my new iPad as a digit recorder and was able to send her the file. Ah, technology. Enjoy Fiona Tankard and myself at Tarot Can Help. Her reading for me really helped. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be on the receiving end of a reading and get direction about a big issue.

Tarot and Change Interview

I also did an interview with Andrew Kyle McGregor in Toronto for his blog, The Hermit’s Lamp. Andrew has been asking people about change and how we, as tarot readers, handle this with our tarot querents, and what our philosophy of change is. We had a really interesting conversation that you can find here.

And be sure to check out Andrew’s monthly podcast conversations with James Wells, available here, as well as Andrew’s other interviews on change with people such as Nancy Atenucci – here.

Webinar on Cartomancers

Don’t forget that you can still access the 2-part webinar that I did through Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies on “An Analysis of the Role of Cartomancers through Western Art.”  You get access to the webinar classroom where you can watch the PowerPt presentation and listen to the complete talk. The only thing you miss compared to being there ‘live’ is the opportunity to ask questions and the short after-class discussion and wind-up.

Yes/No Tarot iPad App

I was completely surprised to discover that a reading I designed for tarot.com has been turned into an app for the iPad called Yes/No Tarot (just out this month). The animated introductory scene is outstanding!—worth the price of the app for that alone. The Spread has been vastly simplified from the version available at tarot.com—the Yes or No Tarot Reading. In the App-version, you get the basic answer but the only details about the cards in the spread are a short comment for each Major Arcana (if any turned up in the reading). That’s disappointing since, in the on-line version, you also get an analysis of suits and what elements are missing from the spread. I guess the point of the app is that you get a quick answer and then can ask again (or from a different perspective) as much as you want. You can also save your answer to a journal. If you would, please leave a review or rating, as well as letting me know what you think here.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has listened to these interviews or talk and wants to continue the discussions we had there.

Now, I’m off to Readers Studio 2011.

ADDED: Check out Carrie Paris’ gorgeous new website, Learn Tarot and especially her interview with the Hierophant! My talk on “Death, Emperor and Fool”  for LETS can be viewed here.

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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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