August 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

7 of Wands – Courage

Seven wands reach for the moon. This card always makes me think of someone standing on tippy-toes, stretching as tall as they can, yet the thing they want remains out of reach. These wands are striving so hard to reach their goal yet they’re still clinging to the rocks. Is it fear that holds them back? The rocks are familiar, safe. They provide stability. But it’s madness to believe you can touch the moon without taking your feet off the ground.

What is courage? It’s a quality of spirit that pushes us forward in spite of fear. The word screws itself into a ball, like fear tightening your heart in your chest. Courage comes in all forms. Telling someone how you feel about them takes a lot of courage. So does standing up to the bad guys, or even the good guys if you think they’re doing something wrong. Anytime we put any part of ourselves on the line, we are courageous. Even when we know there’s a chance we’ll get hurt, the consequences of not doing anything are worse than the prospect of failure. Maybe just the smallest glimmer of hope that we might succeed is enough to help us overcome our biggest fears.

It takes courage to change the status quo as well. There’s nothing wrong with not leaving those rocks but could you live with yourself if you never even tried? That’s what this card is speaking to me about today. I’m trying to make a big change in my life and, at times, the enormity of it overwhelms me and I start allowing compromise to creep in. I start looking for a safety net. What if I didn’t take such a big step all at once? Would it really be that bad? Things aren’t so bad where I am so why take such a big risk? It’s very difficult to leave the familiar when you’re not entirely sure what you’re leaving it for.

The hexagram on this card is 40, Loosening. It symbolizes release from obstruction and from whatever has been holding you back. Knowing what that is is half the battle. If you look closely at the base of the wands (starting with the leftmost) you can see that the first, fifth and sixth wands aren’t touching the rocks. They have begun to rise, to leave behind the safety and stability of the rocks. With this small but tremendous act of courage they are on their way to the moon.

Some courageous quotes:

Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.  ~Arthur Koestler

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.  ~Raymond Lindquist

But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we’ll not fail. ~William Shakespeare, Macbeth


7 and 9 of Wands, 7 of Swords

July 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

Hi Tarot Doctor, I always have trouble grasping the meaning of the seven of wands , the nine of wands and the seven of swords. Could please explain them to me . Many thanks Eunice.

Hi Eunice,

Thanks for the question!

A lot of people struggle with the 7 and 9 of Wands as visually they are quite similar – that is, they both show someone in a defensive position. But a significant difference between the two images is the position of the wands.


In the 7, the wands are in front of the person, effectively blocking his path. For whatever reason, he’s coming under fire and he’s clearly outnumbered. I think of the 7 of Wands as a test of your convictions. Wands are all about what we do – the actions we take, the efforts we make, the goals we pursue – and the 7 raises questions about our level of commitment. How strongly do you believe in your idea? How much do you want to achieve your goal? How fiercely will you fight for this relationship?

To give a concrete example, say you came up with a brilliant ad campaign at work but your boss doesn’t get it, the head of marketing thinks it’s way too ambitious for the budget and your colleagues are trying to pick holes in it because they’re annoyed they didn’t think of it first. You’re trying to stand up for your idea and they’re all trying to shoot you down. It’s at this point that your belief in your idea is really put to the test. If you don’t believe in it, those jabbing wands are just going to knock you down. But if you’re really committed to getting the ad campaign out there, there’s a much better chance it could succeed. Of course, as this example demonstrates, the 7 of Wands also puts your project to the test. If there are any holes in your idea or if it isn’t good enough, here’s where it will fall down.

In the 9 of Wands, the wands are behind the person. They can be seen as representing his achievements so far and he stands in front of them protectively, as if he’s on guard duty. You could come up with any number of theories about what he’s guarding – whether he’s keeping the bad guys out or keeping them in – but the specifics aren’t really important. What’s important is what he’s having to do. Keeping watch over something requires continued vigilance and effort. If you were to draw this card as advice, it’s telling you to take nothing for granted, to do what you need to do to maintain what you’ve got. Even if you’re at the top of your game and everything’s going great, it probably took a lot of work to get there and this card is a reminder that you should sustain that effort to stay where you are. Or to put it another way, you can’t expect to stay afloat if you’re not prepared to keep paddling.

Being on your guard also means being cautious. It raises such questions as, are you as safe and secure in your current situation as you think you are? Are you doing enough to keep your job or to keep that important client (and if so, is enough good enough – should you actually be doing more than you need to, to keep the competition at bay?)

Of course, the interpretation of any card always depends on the position it falls in. For example, if the 9 of Wands were to appear as “Situation”, followed by, say, the Wheel of Fortune as “Advice”, I might read that as saying I was being too cautious and too guarded, perhaps that I’m afraid of getting hurt, and that I should allow events to unfold naturally and go with the flow.

Okay, finally, we come to the 7 of Swords and here we see someone apparently sneaking off with 5 swords.

Is he stealing or is he taking what belongs to him? Again, the specifics aren’t important (it could be either, depending on the situation!) What matters is how he’s going about it. He’s clearly trying not to be seen and he’s looking back over his shoulder as he leaves. For whatever reason, he’s felt it necessary to take indirect action. Perhaps he’s already tried the direct route by asking for his swords back and it didn’t work. So he’s had to find another solution.

Swords are associated with thought and also conflict. In the 7, we’re seeing an example of how brains can be just as mighty in a conflict as brawn. This card is all about strategy, planning, and tactics. If you can’t defeat the enemy by traditional means, you’re just going to have to outsmart them.

As a descriptive card, it can suggest that someone isn’t being entirely upfront – they may be keeping something from you or working on a secret project. As advice, it’s telling you to work smarter, not harder. You need to find a creative solution to your problem. It can also simply signify working alone and keeping your plans to yourself – not to be sneaky, but maybe just because the time isn’t right to reveal them yet.

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit.

Tarot Doctor

The Sun

July 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dear Tarot Doctor, I ended things with my boyfriend yesterday but then I did a reading last night and the card I drew for him was The Sun. In the book it says it means “joy, happiness, success”. Does that mean I shouldn’t have broken up with him? Thanks, Alys.

Dear Alys,

Thank you for your question!

First, I don’t know you or your boyfriend so I’m not qualified to say whether you should have broken up. I assume you had (good) reasons for ending it with your boyfriend, in which case you shouldn’t let a pack of cards change your mind. However, there’s nothing wrong with spending some time evaluating what went wrong.

Second, there’s more than one way to read the Sun card (as there is for every tarot card). For example, two possible meanings immediately spring to mind:

1) Like the real sun, your boyfriend always wanted to be the centre of attention. That might have made you feel like you weren’t important in the relationship.
2) Your boyfriend was too intense and full-on and didn’t give you any space. The sun’s wonderful, but if there’s no shade anywhere it can be difficult to take. Similarly, a boyfriend who’s constantly calling, asking how you are, and wanting to be with you can drive you mad – even if he’s just doing so because he really, really likes you.

I’ve deliberately plumped for more negative interpretations there, just to show the range of meaning the Sun can have. Which meaning is correct? Whichever rings true for you. You were there, after all.

Anyway, I hope that helps.


Tarot Doctor


Anna.K Tarot – 5 of Swords

July 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Anna.K Tarot 5 of SwordsThe 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.

Order the Anna.K Tarot from Tarot Chest
Anna.K Tarot copyright Anna Klaffinger


Shadowscapes Tarot – The Magician

July 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Magician card from the Shadowscapes TarotWhat 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.

Order the Shadowscapes Tarot from Tarot Chest
Shadowscapes Tarot copyright Stephanie Pui-Mun Law


2 of Pentacles

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

International Icon Tarot 2 of PentaclesAdrienne asks: Hi, can you help me to understand the 2 of Pentacles please?

Hi, thanks for the question. Actually, the 2 of Pentacles always used to give me problems too! There seems to be a big difference between understanding book meanings and actually “getting” a card well enough to feel comfortable interpreting it in readings. So, I’ll do my best to help you “get” it.

Imagine somebody surfing. They have to keep their feet firmly on the surfboard and they have to keep their balance. But they also have to stay flexible, to let their muscles relax and move in sync with the motion of the waves. If they’re too stiff, they won’t be able to go with the flow – their body will fight against the natural movement of the ocean. And if they’re too loose, they’ll just fall off. It’s this easy, relaxed attitude that the 2 of Pentacles is all about.

When you watch someone surfing, it looks so easy but there’s actually a lot going on to make that happen. A surfer uses their brain – to gauge wave strength, direction, and to keep their balance – as well as their body. Think of all the subtle muscle adjustments that are going on all the time. It takes a lot of practice to get in sync with the water, just like it takes a lot of practice before you can make riding a bike look easy. You have to be constantly aware of what’s coming up and yet you also have to relax and let your body take over.

A good phrase to bear in mind when the 2 of Pentacles comes up is “bend, not break”. That’s really the essence of the card. Stay relaxed and keep in sync with your environment or whatever’s going on around you – that way you won’t be bowled over by it but can move with it and harness its energy.

I hope that helps.


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.


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