Beyond the darkened skies

Tarot is in my experience a rather unforgiving tool. It will try and force you to be honest with yourself and your situation whether you like it or not. And that is probably why it by some people has received a darker reputation. Some people try to remedy that by creating decks where all the cards have had their negative meanings removed. I don’t agree with that at all. Cards like the Tower, the Devil, the 9 and 10 of Swords etc all have their uses. Rather than trying to remove the negative message that these bring I think it is more important to meet them with acceptance and an open mind.

Even if one or more of these mentioned cards reveal themselves in a tarot spread, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a looming disaster around the corner. That is probably number one to remember when these appear. The second thing is of course that they can appear very dramatic and the message they bring is often not the most positive. The Tower for example has probably the most sinister reputation of all the tarot cards. Usually it is pictured by a tower in a thunderstorm struck down by a lightning strike. Many people are frightened by thunderstorms too and it is not so difficult to understand why when you experience these powerful forces of nature. They often tend to focus on its destructive forces though. I rather see it as a tension that has been built up which finally gets its release. After the thunderstorm the air feels so fresh again. And I think it is the same when the Tower finds its way into a tarot reading. The cards are always meant to be read together to create a context (a reason why I am not very fond of one card readings).

The Tower is attributed to the planet Mars, which has resolution through conflict as one of its domains. The keyword here is resolution, not conflict. The conflict is just a method to find a resolution. Sometimes there can be other ways to find that resolution, but sometimes you find yourself in a deadlock and the solution comes through some kind of conflict. The tarot was never designed to deal with people’s everyday problems, even though it can help out with that. There is so much more to it. On a grander scale for example you can see how The Emperor relates to the Tower through the martian energies – the ruler that goes to war to settle a dispute.

My point is that I think it is more constructive to try and understand the forces in the cards and  what kind of function they have in the universe. Once that is understood, it is also easier to relate to the cards on a more personal level in a tarot spread. When you realize that it has a function and although it might not be pleasant, the universe did not put it there to make your life miserable or more difficult.

I freely admit that I was not thrilled when the Death card appeared in my own yearly spread for 2018. I did not like it back in January, and I still don’t like it now that it is May. I feel somewhat resistant to any grand changes in my life right now, but maybe something happens so I don’t get to choose during the summer period. And if that happens I only have the option to accept it, transform and adapt. But I am not thrilled about it – even if it long term would benefit me. Short term it sounds like a lot of work and hassle. It’s just how things are. That’s the thing though, while it doesn’t mean that everything will go all south for me, it doesn’t mean that I need to embrace it and be all excited about any changes either. It could be something quite neutral.

And I think that is a very viable option when those difficult cards appear – to accept that it doesn’t have to be all black and white, good or bad. It’s so very human of us to feel the need to relate to something as either good  or bad for us. It’s so coded into us that when we learn a new language some of the first words we learn are “Yes” and “No” and “Good” and “Bad”. As you get more proficient in a language more opportunities open up to express yourself in a more complex way and gain deeper understanding. And that is how tarot works too. In a way, it is its own symbolic language.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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The evening skies at home…

Why I don’t like reversed cards

There are a lot of opinions about the use of reversed cards in various tarot communities. Some people like them and some people don’t. In general those who use them think you might miss out on half the deck if you don’t use them and those who do not use them either think they are too negative or make it too complicated. I don’t use them either, but for a very different reason and here is why.

In all tarot decks you have the four suits corresponding to each element fire, water, air and earth. Sometimes they differ in name. For example wands may be called scepters, pentacles may be called coins or disks etc, but they still represent the element of fire and earth. That is not something random. The tarot is designed around these elements and how they interact with each other. Some elements are hostile towards each other and would influence each other negatively such as for example fire/water or air/earth. So when you have cards next to each other in a spread, you can see which elements are influencing the others either positively/negatively or in a neutral way. If you have three cards for instance you would then look at the card in the middle to determine how it is influenced by the elements to its left and right.

So, if you have one fire card in the middle with two water cards next to it, it would be influenced negatively by the element of water. This could mean that the meaning of the fire card is weaker or that it takes on a more negative meaning similar to that of a reversed card. It is called looking at the cards’ “Elemental Dignities”.

Another benefit of this method is that it forces the tarot reader to look at the relationships between the cards. This is a good thing and a good habit to develop for tarot readers. A lot of readers who start out find that to be troublesome, but when you make a habit of using a method that will force you to look at the cards in relation to each other you will naturally develop that skill faster than if you do not practice it.

In short, there is already a system place within the tarot to determine if the card meanings are positively or negatively influenced that will also encourage you to get good reading habits and look at the relations between the cards, so what then, is really the need for reversed cards? And in my opinion, it is much easier to learn than how to use reversed cards.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

Reversal

A few random cards from the Arcanum Tarot

 

I don’t want to miss a thing!

All tarot readers secretly live by the title of this Aerosmith song. It hurts both our pride and self confidence when we aren’t spot on with our readings, but the fact is that it happens to all of us. No matter how good we are.

The question is then how to handle it. The first step is to accept that we cannot always be right. We need to be open for that we might have missed a clue, misinterpreted a card and so on. There is a big but here though, and that is that even if that is the case, it is still us as tarot readers who need to be in control of the situation. It is our reading, our mistakes, and it is not up to our clients to tell us how we should have or could have interpreted our own reading. So don’t invite them to do that.

The second step is to realize that it isn’t as easy as it sounds to admit a mistake. Pride is often in the way both for the tarot reader and the client. It is not uncommon to come up with ideas that the client will not relate to immediately. Perhaps they don’t sit on all the information for it to make sense yet as events may be revealed to them in time. It can be particularly tricky if the client is just after getting a confirmation of how they think or wish something should be. So before you admit to doing a mistake it would be wise to at least map out the situation and find out whether the client is that type of client or not.

If the answer is no and the client seem pretty open-minded about the reading, but it still seems completely off to them, it is time to open up for the possibility that you as a reader might not have the best day. And you need to allow yourself to not have the best day every single day. It’s not a defeat. The best advice would probably be to politely ask them to reschedule for another reading at a later point. Don’t try to do a new reading then and there. That would be extremely awkward for you when you miss a second time. If the client doesn’t accept it, offer them a refund, if you take payments for your readings. If you are being polite and humble about it many will show empathy and try to understand you. If you slander someone for being honest, polite and humble about a mistake I would argue that the problem does not lie with you. So if you can manage to be humble and polite then you are less likely to take a reputation hit as well.

In classical magic there are strict protocols for when and how various beings can be contacted. Usually there is always a specific time window when contact needs to be established based on astrology, where you are in the lunar cycle, time of the day and so on. If you are into esoteric tarot, you might want to have a tarot journal where you log these events as it potentially also could influence your tarot readings. After a while maybe you will find a pattern for when you have on or off days. Unlike the books of old, it will not tell you when the best time for a tarot reading is. So here you are left to do your own research for the best timings.

The third and final step is to not dwell on what happened. You need to move on. Perhaps it is best to take a break for that day, but don’t let it discourage you from taking on new clients. Your confidence will come back with the next good tarot reading.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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Another mountain to overcome.

Signifier cards – are they worth it?

This question pops up every once in a while for tarot readers. Should I or should I not be using signifier cards? There are many ways of how to decide what signifier cards to use,  I prefer to pick one of the court cards that I think suits best with the client’s personality, but I will not go into detail of this method here.

Most of the time when I am doing tarot readings I use a spread called the Opening of the Key. It is standard for that spread to use a signifier, but even when I use some of the more popular tarot spreads I prefer to have one. Probably I use it in 9 out of 10 readings.

A lot of people are concerned that when they use a signifier card they will take a card out of the deck and therefore potentially miss out on information. I reject that idea. By choosing a signifier card I get a focal point for my reading and all the cards that I draw will somehow be related to the signifier card. Sometimes I can even get clues depending on where the other cards are located compared to the signifier card. Perhaps it is looking backwards towards the past or maybe forwards towards the future or maybe you see a father looking over his son like a guardian? There are many possibilities when using them.

I think it gives the reading an extra depth that would not have been possible if I had not been using a signifier card. The benefits of it outweigh the cons by a great deal. In my experience it can be the difference between a hit or a miss when doing a reading. If you have not tried it, I encourage you to try it out. It is not complicated and I think it helps to give a reading more structure.

 

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

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Court cards of fire and air from the Tarot of Stars Eternal

 

How often to do a tarot reading for the same person?

Have you ever wondered how often it makes sense to do a reading for yourself or maybe even how frequently it makes sense to do a reading for others on the same topic? I have some thoughts on that.

Generally I would say that it doesn’t make sense to do a reading too often. The point of a reading is often to map out a situation and see certain plausible scenarios and then make a plan according to that. If you then decide to have readings done too often are more likely to than not to get a very unclear picture of what is really going on after a few readings. So what I recommend is to maximum get a reading done every 3 months for the same topic.

There are many people out there who come to tarot readers just to get confirmations from someone – or perhaps they are looking for that easy solution and just want to hear that it will work out. I suspect there will be more posts about that in the future, but that is not a proper tarot reading though. In fact, I find it unethical to “read” tarot that way just as a means to get an income. Often many of these people are in a vulnerable spot in their lives, and even if it is their choice to come to you and pay you with their money, it is still your own choice if you want to give them that or not. It is probably more responsible to try and help them out and empower them to make active changes in their lives. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy to hear that. Particularly not if they just came to get a confirmation of their own feelings in the first place, but honestly, then they shouldn’t have come for a tarot reading. That is not what it should be all about. That is not a way of reading tarot that I would be comfortable with.

It is not any different when doing readings for myself. I try to limit it to 3 months for the same topic and during that period I work according to my plan. I make my own decisions, never the cards.  It would be irresponsible if I did not. It is I that must live and learn.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

Tarotkort

Sacred Space – is it important?

Most tarot readers have a set of rules they follow before they start a reading. Some say a short prayer or do a simple exercise to clear their mind. Others might not even do that. I, on the other hand, feel like going in the opposite direction and prefer to do a little bit more than what the average reader does. But is it necessary?

The answer is, yes, I think so. If it wasn’t necessary I wouldn’t be doing it. For me it is important to create a sacred space and feel that what I am doing has a purpose. If I don’t, I might not manage to take it seriously enough or maybe I feel that the connection to the divine either isn’t there at all or at least that it is weaker. Perhaps I could be doing my tarot readings on the bathroom floor and get good results, but I don’t think I would get the best results, simply because my mind would not be as focused.

Ok, so I don’t put on my robe and wizard’s hat (although this has been considered too…), but at least I like to make an altar of sorts and use a colored table cloth, dim the lights and light some candles. And to top it off, I also prefer to use some incense. Then I like to take a few moments to enjoy the atmosphere I have created, before I state the purpose of the reading and say a short personalized prayer.

I am not saying that everyone should be doing it this way, but I encourage you to try it out. For me it makes it feel a bit more special and I take a bit more care when analyzing the cards. It also gives me a bit of discipline in what I am doing and I don’t pick up bad habits such as drawing additional “clarifying cards”. I also am more confident about that I will be getting the messages I am asking for.

I could probably get good readings without all that, but when I think that it gives me a better edge when doing it this way there is no reason not to. Besides, I think it makes the tarot reading itself a lot more interesting and fun.  So I would definitely recommend that you at least try it out once and see if it has any positive effect on your own tarot reading experience. Even if you don’t see any improvement in the accuracy in your reading maybe it would be worth it for the relaxing experience which could be to your own benefit in other ways.

-Thus spake the Night Spirit

 

Tarot Philosophy

Tarot readers – are they psychic?

A lot of people wonder whether tarot readers are psychics or what the connection is. And sometimes you will find that your clients are after testing your abilities as a psychic. Some tarot readers claim to be psychics and others don’t. In my opinon it is an irrelevant discussion.

The reason for that is that there isn’t any good tangible definition of what a psychic is or what abilities you need to classify yourself as a psychic. So what is really the point of using a classification that really doesn’t say all that much? Non-existant in my book. Probably it will create more problems  for you to define yourself as a tarot reader as a psychic, because people will always have made up their own thoughts and definitions of what they think a psychic should be like. Some people are clairvoyant and see visions and images, others can hear sounds and others again just get thoughts just jumping into their head seemingly from nowhere or have strange sensations. There are also varying degrees of it happening, which is why it makes very little sense of talking of being psychic. There isn’t a clear threshold and you cannot be “a little bit psychic” or “extremely psychic”. Either you are psychic or you are not, and that definition does not hold. So better not be using it at all.

Whether or not you decide to classify yourself as a psychic, it does nothing to improve your accuracy as a tarot reader. Some people do readings in which they claim to speak with the departed or spirits, but that’s the thing – then it is no longer a tarot reading. Then it is something else. And I think it is important to be clear about that. It is when you use your tarot cards as the focus point of your reading that it is a tarot reading. It doesn’t mean that is worth less, after all, it is your results and what you get out of the reading that matter.

So even if I  try to”connect” with something for a tarot reading and use all my senses and input that I can get. It just doesn’t make any sense to classify myself as a psychic. I find that it limits my abilities and put the focus away from what is really being important in a tarot reading.  After all, most of us, are there to help the client and perhaps give them a little coaching along the way so that they can make better decisions.

– Thus Spake the Night Spirit

 

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The Magician and the High Priestess

I hinted slightly at these two characters at the end of my previous post whom I both feel quite strongly about. My impression of the tarot community today, is that there is a slight imbalance between these two characters and what they represent, when it comes to what you need as a tarot reader. I find that the feminine and passive energies are being the most dominant ones, but both of these character traits that you can find in these cards need to be represented.

When you are a part of a minority in a community you will always feel that way to some extent. And that is exactly how I feel when frequenting tarot forums or if I go to a regular spiritual convention. For some reason feminine energy seems to be predominant, and I write feminine “energy”, because that is what it is about. It is not about gender. For some reason there are many homosexual men with a feminine vibe into tarot (not judging anyone here, so please don’t be offended). My point though, is that the feminine qualities of the High Priestess are often being used for the wrong reasons. And also tend to get too much emphasis.

I absolutely agree that the intuition of the High Priestess is important in tarot reading. Intuition must be a natural part of the process, but it is incorrect to rely on intuition and talent alone. That is why we need the Magician to take on that active role and bring in that willpower to study and acquire skill. Too often I find that people are looking for talent in replacement of doing the hard work. That is what kind of balance the Magician can offer. And believe me, people absolutely hate to hear that. A lot of people just automatically shut down if any effort is needed.

The idea that intuition is the most important has been popularized by tarot tutors and is being taught to people. Most probably because that it is easy and intuitive to learn tarot is exactly what people want to hear to open their pockets. To be fair it is not all that hard to learn tarot, but teaching it that way just because people are willing to pay for an easy way out is not the right way. Intuition is important, but it is not equivalent to “talent” or “no effort”.

It is also equally true though, that you cannot only study and acquire skill and completely ignore the understanding of how to utilize it. There must be some sort of balance. When you study though, eventually, the knowledge will be internalized as tacit knowledge and it will present itself to you in a more intuitive way when you draw upon it. That is when you also will be able to make the connections between cards and so on even if you are having difficulties with putting it into your own words. You are using both and cannot have one without the other. The intuitive forces of the High Priestess and the willpower of the Magician are both needed to get to the point where using intuition actually makes sense to create something meaningful.

Oh, the irony of this being something I “feel” so strongly about!

-Thus Spake the Night Spirit

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The Magician and the High Priestess from the Shadowscapes Tarot