Anna.K Tarot – 5 of Swords
July 9, 2010 § Leave a comment
The Anna.K Tarot is a very honest deck. What I mean by that is, it doesn’t have any airs or graces and it doesn’t dress things up.
For example, one of the things I really like about it is the head-on way it depicts negative situations. The 5 of Swords is an excellent example of this with its violent scene of barbarians pillaging and burning and preying on the weak. Some might see it as too extreme for most everyday readings, but I like it because it cuts to the chase. The subject of the reading might not be as dramatic as the scene on the card but it certainly makes you confront the reality of the situation – whether that’s your boss abusing his position to advance his career or your own treatment of the new girl. It says, “Hey, the bottom line is, someone here’s being a real bully”.
And the 5 of Swords isn’t the only card to speak out in the deck. Another favourite of mine is the Devil, which shows a scene of such debauchery and depravity, the real Devil would be proud. 😉 There’s greed, lust, war, gluttony – probably all seven of the deadly sins if I could remember what they were. And everyone in the card has completely lost sight of themselves. Everyone, that is, except for the Devil, who is the only one in control. What an incredibly powerful and unapologetic image. It would certainly make you think twice if it came up in a reading.
Before you start running for the hills, let me say that these cards are in the minority. In fact, the Anna.K Tarot is a very well-balanced deck which covers the full spectrum of real life. So, alongside these cards and others like them – the Tower, and the 3, 4, 8, 10, and Knight of Swords (okay, let’s just say the Swords suit!) – there are wonderful paintings of joyful family celebrations, of warm summer days, and of growing old with the person you love. And then there are the cards in-between, that show the daily struggles, exchanges, hopes and dreams that we all experience. It’s a deck that feels very much like life itself: painful and joyful, beautiful and messy, cruel and yet mind-bogglingly tender.
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Anna.K Tarot copyright Anna Klaffinger
Shadowscapes Tarot – The Magician
July 1, 2010 § Leave a comment
What I find interesting about this Magician is that his “tools” – the lantern, the seashell, the feather and the leaves, representing the four elements and four tarot suits – are behind him. They hang from his wings while he focuses on the magic he’s performing. The traditional image, one that is repeated in many decks, is of the Magician standing behind a table with his tools in front of him. In those decks he is actively using them yet in the Shadowscapes he almost seems to be ignoring them.
Why is that? It made me think about the tools we have at our disposal at any given time. Some we actively use – a pen, for example, or this keyboard I’m typing on, or a violin. Others are passive, stored in our brains, integrated and assimilated into our existing skillset. For example, the ability to type is a tool but it’s one that I’m so comfortable with, so familiar, that I don’t really need to refer to it anymore. It has become automatic.
A common interpretation for the Magician in a reading is something along the lines of “you have all the tools you need”. Which sounds great. But what are we saying there? Imagine someone doing a reading about an upcoming presentation that they’re nervous about. The Magician comes up as advice and we say “you have all the tools you need – just be confident and charismatic and you’ll be fine”. In other words, you don’t have to do anything and you’ll knock their socks off.
With the Shadowscapes Magician, maybe the advice would be more along the lines of: “Make sure you know your stuff. Don’t get caught out. Memorise any stats you might need. Be prepared for any questions they might throw at you. Rehearse your presentation over and over again until it rolls off the tongue like a saleman’s spiel. Learn how to operate the projector with one hand.”
And isn’t that what magicians do? All the great illusionists are just very very good at practising. They practise a trick a thousand times until it’s second nature. They read about other great illusionists. They study tricks done by others. They practise on their friends. They’re brilliantly committed to making you believe in them.
So maybe that’s the message of this Magician: Make sure your tools are behind you, where they will be of most use.
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Shadowscapes Tarot copyright Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Kali in my Corner
February 23, 2010 § 4 Comments
Kali – Mother of Wands in the East
Everyone should have a friend like Kali.
A few days ago I drew a card to help me decide what to do about a loved one who disapproves of my interest in tarot. When I sat down to do the reading, I braced myself to do some soul-searching. Then Kali barged in.
“Screw them!” she says, in the most literal way imaginable. “You love tarot. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about doing what you love!”
I see her point. It’s hard not to.
“And don’t try to hide it either. Live it. Own it. Wear it all over your body. Show everyone – this is what you do. This is who you are! It’s not a dirty little secret, it’s a wonderful beautiful exciting thing. And so are you.”
Well, that solved that problem. It’s great having Kali in my corner.
November 11, 2009 § 1 Comment
Strength bears the Hebrew letter Teth, the ninth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. On the Tree of Life, Teth is associated with the 19th pathway, the path that connects Chesed and Gevurah. Chesed is mercy and Gevurah is power. In The Kabbalah Tree, Rachel Pollack writes of Chesed:
“…here in Chesed we revel in the sense that the cosmos loves us, and will protect us and help us as our souls journey through experience. When New Age people say ‘The universe will take care of you,’ or ‘Ask the universe for what you need,’ they are invoking Chesed.”
Of Gevurah, she writes:
“Kabbalists often describe Gevurah as the most severe place on the tree, a testing point. If we think of ourselves as traveling upwards on the tree (in a sense, back to our origins), then Gevurah becomes the place where we must shed our own weaknesses before we can revel in the overwhelming love and mercy of Chesed.”
I know very little of Kabbalah and am learning as I go along with the Haindl Tarot. If Gevurah is the testing point, then it seems to me it’s the place where Strength is needed most. I can identify with Strength (or, rather, Teth) being placed on the pathway between mercy and power. I have been pondering this a lot and I have come to the conclusion that Strength is not a quality or trait like honesty or patience as I once believed.
Strength – at least in the tarot card sense – is a process. It’s not a noun, it’s a verb. It is not an Oscar-winning moment of grace under pressure; it is the continued giving of yourself, your love, your kindness, and your soul when all you get in return is pain.
October 26, 2009 § Leave a comment
Strength is the card I drew for this week.
Number: 8 (VIII)
Hebrew Letter: Teth (“snake”)
Rune: Sigil (the “Sun”)
Title*: Inner Strength
Motifs: Snake, naked woman, crescent moon, pool of water.
*from The Reader’s Handbook.
What Tarot Can Do For the World
July 3, 2009 § 9 Comments
This morning I asked, “What can Tarot do for the world?” I wanted to know if Tarot had anything to offer us in the 21st Century. By us, I don’t just mean tarot lovers; I mean the world at large and people in general. I wanted to know if Tarot could save the world.
The answer I got, drawn from the Aquarian Tarot, was the Seven of Pentacles. Which is such a perfect answer if you think about it. The Seven of Pentacles is the pause button. Tarot gives us the opportunity to pause, to evaluate our lives. I have spent the past six, almost seven months, stuck on play (occasionally on fast-forward). I’ve had very little time for Tarot. Almost every day I have questions I’d like to ask but don’t. Instead, I just get on with things that need doing, leaving the questions unanswered.
Having an unanswered question or two doesn’t sound so bad. What that really means, however, is that I daily have thoughts and feelings that go unexamined. I repeat the same mistakes because I don’t make time to understand why I’m messing up or to work out how I can do better. I’m making big, huge, major decisions – moving house, finding childcare for my daughter, falling out with my parents – without sitting down to consider how I really feel. I am being swept along by my life instead of stepping out ahead of it.
I’m not saying I need tarot cards to tell me how I feel. But when I sit down to do a tarot reading some kind of switch goes off inside. It’s the intention: by taking the time to do a tarot reading and putting the rest of my life on pause I’m saying this – this issue, this situation – is important to me. It matters enough to warrant careful consideration. Without tarot cards, I may think endlessly about the same problem, but not in the same way. I think in circles. I might think about it as I’m washing up, bathing the baby, cooking dinner, working, but without Tarot I don’t have an excuse to sit still and only think. Tarot takes the problem out of my head and spreads it in front of me. It freezes it so I can walk around it, look at it from all angles, see what’s really going on. It’s these moments of stillness in life that allow me to check my progress, to make sure I’m still on the path I want to be on.
In the 21st Century, everything moves at the speed of light. Tarot gives us the opportunity to slow down – not to stop, but to pause, check where we’ve been and where we’re heading, and make navigational adjustments if necessary. Or, as Ferris Bueller says:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
And that’s what Tarot can do for the world.
What card am I?
May 8, 2009 § 4 Comments
Last night I came across this poem by Robert Frost in a book.
Can you guess which two tarot cards it made me think of?