Friday, November 28, 2014

The Hanged Man - It's All About Soul....

The twelfth card of the Major Arcana is The Hanged Man. In most decks, he is a simply-presented man hanging upside down by his ankle from a tree, archway or crossbeam.

This card is just past the mid-point of the Major Arcana. The Fool has traveled his journey through the physical and mental aspects of life. He has learned lessons about personal power, intuition, creativity, relationships, limitations, love, reflection, solitude and balance.

The Hanged Man - Anna K Tarot
There have been trials and tribulations in all these areas and he is ready to step it up a notch.

As the Fool approaches the lessons of The Hanged Man, he has a lot of experiences with life under his belt. He has been through a variety of earthly struggles, and has developed some effective strategies with which he addresses these issues.

However, at this point the Fool is coming to the realization that control of his outer world is not the true way to achieve the contentment for which he strives. Rather, the Fool is looking for a greater peace – one that comes from the inside.

While there are many historic and mythological figures to whom you could compare The Hanged Man, I find this card reminds me of the Apostle Peter and his death from a reverse crucifixion. Peter was one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. He was actually one of the most trusted of the disciples; Jesus’s right-hand man you could say.

When Jesus was arrested, Peter – for fear of his own life – denied knowing Jesus. He did this three times. This created great anguish in Peter for a couple reasons. One obvious reason was that he turned his back on a beloved friend during a time of great need. A second, more subtle reason was that it created a crisis of faith within Peter. His decision to deny “knowing Jesus” was in his mind a complete denial of his faith. He chose a life of earthly existence, governed by fear and conformity, rather than a spiritual existence, governed by personal beliefs and internal freedom.

After Jesus’s death, Peter’s crisis of faith led him to an epiphany about his purpose in life. He accepted his position as the “rock” on which Jesus would build his church, and laid the foundation for what would eventually become the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, he was martyred in 64 AD by Roman Soldiers for propagating his religious beliefs. Reports indicated that he requested to be crucified upside down because he felt he was not worthy of dying in the same manner Jesus did. 

I think it is safe to say, that at the time of his death, Peter had resolved his internal spiritual tumult.

To me, that story really underscores the message of The Hanged Man. Like Peter’s experience, The Hanged Man speaks of our need to connect with the deeper truths of life. The Hanged Man heralds the beginning of the soul’s connection with the realm of true happiness and inner peace.

When The Hanged Man appears in a reading, it is suggesting the individual is at a point of transformation. This usually occurs in tandem with more challenging situations that can only be resolved through control of one’s inner, not outer, landscape. The lessons of The Hanged Man are some of the most challenging ones among the Major Arcana. However, once mastered, these lessons open the gate to the garden of internal mastery and a paradise unlike any you can ever hope to physically experience on the earth plane. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gaining Clarity With Justice

Justice (Major Arcana 11) appears, by and large, to be a very welcoming Tarot Card - regardless of the deck from which you view it. In almost every deck, Justice presents itself as a calm, balanced and trust-worthy figure bringing reason and fairness to all interactions.

One common image of the card includes the scales of balance. These suggest a sense of even distribution, almost a reap-what-you-sow mentality.

Justice - Radiant Rider Waite
Sometimes our figure is blindfolded, suggesting impartiality in decisions. Other times, she possesses a knowing look – as if she has the uncanny ability to see the truth in all situations.

Often, Justice is presented in long, flowing robes of various colors, representing wisdom and commitment to the process of clearly resolving an issue. On rare occasions, she appears as a lightly dressed or partially naked woman, representing the purity and simplicity of truth.

Always Justice appears with a sword. Its double-edged quality promises to mete out the truth and deliver a fair response impartially and without malice.

Regardless of how she appears, lady Justice primarily represents one thing – an understanding of right and wrong, and the consequences that come from one’s actions.

When Justice appears in a spread, it suggests all parties will get what they deserve – for better or worse.

Another aspect of Justice deals with the idea that the card is synonymous with the word balance.

Besides the even-looking appearance, Justice is marked by the number 11. In Numerology, 11 is considered a Master Number. The focus of this particular number is spiritual enlightenment through the use of intuition, insight and experience.

(Note, in some decks Justice is identified as Major Arcana Card 8. There is no definitive right or wrong number for Justice. My choice to identify with the 11 was the result of my personal connection to the energy of the card.)

The combination of 11 with the Justice card can add a deeper interpretation to the card’s meaning.

For instance, when Justice appears in the spread, it can suggest the querent is developing an inner-knowing about what is right and wrong. By following this moral compass, the individual is living a life more aligned with their deeper personal beliefs. As a result, an inner harmony blossoms and this balance begins to manifest itself in the person’s external world creating greater calm in all facets of life.

This experience parallels the philosophy of: As is above so is below, except it may be better explained: As is within, so is without.

The truth is that Justice represents attempts to create both an inner and outer balance in the life of the individual. These two situations are not exclusive of each other. Rather, they actually co-exist beautifully.

When Justice appears in the spread it tells us the Universe is providing a learning opportunity for this particular individual. The card foretells the fair resolution of a situation – according to the parameters of Universal justice, not human justice or the ideas of the individual.

Justice tells us that the querent will reap what has been sown. Ideally this will be considered a positive outcome by the individual – particularly if his/her actions come from a place of genuine alignment with their higher purpose.

However, if the person has not been making decisions that are in the best interest of all parties involved, then it suggests he/she is out of balance with their higher self. As a result, Justice will step in and provide an external experience designed to assist them in their transformation as they work to become a more highly evolved individual. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wheeling and Dealing with Some of Life’s Biggest Lessons

What goes up, must come down … and so explains one of the biggest themes associate with the Wheel of Fortune (Major Arcana card 10).

Actually, the concept applies to life as a whole. Let’s face it, things run in cycles:  Day gives way to night, only to give way to day again; Winter gives way to spring, which gives way summer, fall and winter again; Life gives way to death and then to rebirth. These examples are just some of the ones with which we are more commonly familiar.
Anna K Wheel of Fortune

However, what about the more subtle shifts that occur in life? These are the shifts that cause great
internal growth due to a perceived outer hardship.

For instance, there is the beauty and innocence of a first love. It is uplifting and hopeful – that is until it experiences destruction when faced with the challenging realities of the external world. What seems like a crushing blow to one’s heart can give way to a healthy cultivation of a later more mature love.

Another example might be the gift of youthful strength, which eventually gives way to the infirmities often associated with age. This in turn gives way to a greater appreciation for one’s body and a return to self-care.

The Wheel of Fortune is rife with imagery and symbolism to support these ideas. Depicted in the center is a large turning wheel surrounded by images of glory and adversity. It is a reminder of the precarious nature of life and the necessity to make the most of all the situations in which we find ourselves – regardless of whether we consider them to be “good” or “bad”.

In some decks a single hand or a mysterious elder is turning the wheel showing little concern or emotion for the outcome of this shift.

The card’s number – 10- is also highly symbolic. Ten is the number of Karmic completion and resolution. It is where the individual (represented by the number 1) possesses a “clean” slate (symbolized by the number 0).

When the Wheel of Fortune shows up in a reading, it is heralding news of a change of fortune. When the card appears upright, it suggests good fortune is continuing or returning. When shows up reversed, it suggests a streak of difficulty might be headed your way. What is important to remember, regardless of the card’s prediction is the temporary message of the card.

The Wheel of Fortune is not about the events themselves. The situations you experience will either be a test of your resolve or a restoration of your faith. What is important to remember is that this card is about the lesson these events bring to you.

Overall, it is safe to say The Wheel of Fortune is a card of Fate. It is telling of destinies and lessons yet-to-be experienced that -in the long run - are expected to connect you with a greater, richer and more evolved version of your own self and your life. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Hermit: A Cocoon of Spiritual Enlightenment

The Hermit is a card of deep thinking. His presence in a reading marks a period of inner reflection and quiet solitude.  This often follows an incident or period of time when an individual has encountered some serious challenges.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term Hermit as: A person who lives in a simple way apart from others especially for religious (or philosophical) reasons.

The Hermit - Anna K Tarot
We have all had periods in our life where we have embraced the energy of this card. In fact, at some point I am certain you used the term Hermit to refer to either yourself or another.

One look at the Hermit card, and you immediately get the feel of isolation. Granted, this is a self-imposed isolation, but nonetheless, isolation. When this card comes up in a reading, it is often met with mixed reactions. The card itself, tends to be shrouded in darkness or a background of grey. A light – often in the image of a candle, lantern or star - is the sole source of illumination. An aged man, sometimes dressed as monk or in very simple garb, sits quietly in contemplation.

To put it simply, the Hermit card makes most people nervous. They often point to is cautiously and ask in an apprehensive voice, “What does that mean?” When I explain that it is a time of reflection, contemplation and evaluation – sort of like a personal time out – I am often met with a simple, “Oh.”

At that point, one of two things will happen. The person asks what I mean by this and waits for detail or they will completely ignore me and move on to another idea pretending not to have heard what I said. More often than not, it is the latter that happens.

Interestingly, it is this lack of inner perception – or down-time – that has resulted in the very situation with which they find themselves vexed. I have to be honest, a lot of people don’t like to think deeply. Actually, they hate it and avoid it like the plaque. It is not until they receive a powerful smack-down from the Universe that they become willing to contemplate alternative methods of living. (By the way, as hard as it may be to believe this “smack-down” is not arbitrary or vicious. It is in your life plan and may even follow several previous, more-gentle attempts at redirecting you because the course you have taken in life is not the one aligned with your higher self.)

When the Hermit comes into a spread it is a message that the answers you seek can only be found within yourself. It is a turn away from the materialistic and societal pursuits for a deeper truth. Only through intense soul-searching will you find these answers.

The Hermit is also a sign of spiritual enlightenment. You are on the verge of very important break-through. Once you have come out the other end, you will be changed for the better. No longer will you be able to blindly follow your previous path. In addition, you will serve as a beacon of light to others when you share this hard-earned knowledge with the world – whether on a small or large scale.

When the Hermit card shows up, your best approach is to accept there are lessons to be learned and work earnestly to comprehend them. Take time to see things as they truly are, but don’t get lost in the isolation or pursuit of the lesson. Be an active observer and learning while being present in the circumstances that brought you to this period of great reflection.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strength is about Calming Your Inner Beast

In my personal opinion, The Strength card (Major Arcana number 8) is one of the most beautiful cards in the entire Tarot deck. When I look at it, I can’t help but feel a message of peace, hope and true balance.

Anna K Tarot - Strength Card
The Strength card is almost always depicted as a young woman controlling a powerful lion through gentle domination. She is not forcing her will on the animal through brute strength. Rather, the lion is bowing down to her because he recognizes a power much greater than his own– even though he has the ability to destroy her if he wanted to.

That seemingly intangible power is what makes the Strength card so beautiful.

Looking at this card, you can see how mesmerized the lion is when he looks into the eyes of the fair maiden. He may offer a growl, but the ferocity is more hot air than true anger.

What is equally impressive is the depth of the expression in the eyes of the young woman. She seems to understand the source of the lion’s frustration. Her look is one of patience, love and understanding. Rather than show anger in the face of anger, she shows love. She is like a mother soothing a frightened child who is lashing out.

And that is what the lion in the Strength card represents – our ego-based fears. He is the externalization of our weaker self. His focus is completely on earthly experiences. He contains great power, but struggles to use it correctly. He represents the earthly human who forgot about his divine origin.

The young woman represents our higher self. She is our inner guide – the one who reminds us that no outer circumstance can destroy who we truly are. She works to calm the savage beast we call our ego. Her goal is to remind us of our real essence.

What I love most about this card is the message it offers. This card tells us that we are both the maiden and the lion. At our strongest we operate from the point of view of the young woman. She is the ‘queen’ of our inner world. When we connect with this energy, we are in touch with ourselves and don’t feel the need to control our outer world to bring inner peace. At our weaker moments we are the lion. We may growl and threaten because we feel our outer world is under attack. This, in turn, disrupts our inner world.

The trick here is to live in the space between these two extremes. We need to experience the earthly domain with all its pleasures and pains in order to grow as spiritual beings. After all, that is why we came here. We can’t forget this

However, the real message of the Strength card mimics the age-old message of good versus evil; darkness versus light; Cain versus Abel. The Strength card hints at the idea of our power being directly connected to our ability to find a balance in our opposites.

We were born with a mind for a reason. It is our mind and our physical body that allows us to enjoy all the beautiful sensations we came to earth to experience. We must be careful though not to mistakenly believe that this visible dimension – the things we process with our mind - is all there is to experience on earth. When that happens, our ego takes over and causes us to seek a greater connection with the creations of the earth. 

This causes an imbalance that skews our spiritual focus.

The Strength card reminds us that the only power strong enough to conquer the ego and silence the inner beast is love – love of self and others. This love is the only way we can uncover the spiritual courage and wisdom needed   to differential between our ego-driven desires (the lion energy) and our higher-level desires (the maiden energy).  In addition, the card is not asking us to “fight fire with fire” per se. Rather, it is asking us to show kindness and gentleness when acknowledging our weaknesses – much like a mother would when interacting with a small child - because we must realize this is the true intellectual capacity of the ego.

The card actually warns us that by using aggression to conquer aggression we pretty much guarantee the escalation of hostility.

To grow spiritually, we must embrace this mother energy when dealing with our own shortcomings and those of others. It does not mean we accept poor behavior or erroneous thinking. Rather, we calmly acknowledge the issues and behavior. We offer our understanding of the behavior without condoning it. We accept that such happenings are the in the nature of a physical human being, but offer the reminder that we are not here to simply exist as the average lower-energy animal does. With that, we focus on the Light that exists within each person, and we attempt to turn ourselves and others in the direction of this higher, more genuine source of existence. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Chariot: Passion and Perseverance Always Trump Adversity

The Chariot (Major Arcana card 7) is a card about triumph over adversity. It is the last frontier the young Fool must conquer in order to ascend to the higher levels of mental, emotional and spiritual growth. The Chariot is all about success on the earthly – or physical - plane.

The Chariot - Anna K Tarot
Up until he hit the Lovers card, the Fool has had the protection and guidance of spiritual and earthly teachers as he began his journey through this life. He first met the Magician, and learned about personal power. He then met the High Priestess and Empress, where he worked on developing his intuition and creative skills. With the Emperor and Hierophant, he learned about structure and order, and how to use his talents to affect positive changes in his life and the world around him. It is safe to say, that the Fool was pretty protected as he gained familiarity about the workings of the earth.

That all changed when he encountered the experiences identified through the Lovers card. It is at this juncture that he came in contact with others who were at similar points in their journeys. He experienced love, choices, challenges and disappointments. This is where he began to internalize the far-reaching consequences of the decisions he has made.

To equate this to a “real-life” situation, this section of the Fool’s journey would be similar to a very young adult, getting ready to assert his or her independence in the world. The choices they have made in their interactions with others and themselves have consequences – both good and bad. Up until the Lovers card, they have had the structured guidance of the preceding four major arcana. If they followed that advice – or if they didn’t follow that advice – they are feeling the effects of this now.

This leads us to the Chariot. The Chariot represents the efforts of that same young adult to make his or her way in this world. The individual is using all his or her experiences and talents in order to move toward a goal. There will be obstacles for sure. Some are self-imposed from previous choices. Additional obstacles will come into play because of choices yet-to-be-made by themselves and others.

The Chariot represents the determination of the spirit to overcome these challenges and reach one’s goals. Depending on where the Chariot shows up in a spread, its presence could herald a successful outcome. However, regardless of where you find it, the Chariot does indicate successful forward motion despite hardship.

The images on the card usually depict a lone charioteer attempting to control two animals that are pulling in opposite directions. He maintains a look of steely determination and does not remove his eyes from his goal. This image symbolizes the constant pull of opposites within the spirit of man. It can represent simpler concepts like youthful desires versus age-related responsibilities. It can be more complex and suggest an inner struggle between virtue and vice. Or it can represent deeper desires of dreams versus the harshness of reality.

Regardless of the specific struggle the Chariot represents, the true beauty of this card can be found in the underlying message about the strength of the human spirit. When this card shows up in a spread, it is a reminder about the importance of fighting the “Good Fight,” even in the face of overwhelming adversity. Sometimes the lesson of the Chariot is really about the triumph of the spirit to survive and thrive when enmeshed in an environment that appears on the surface to only want to destroy it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Lovers - Delivering Lessons on Love and Life - June 2014

The Lovers (Major Arcana card 6) is often a welcomed sight in any Tarot spread. Many times when I give a reading, a client will point to the card and say something like, “Oooh…that looks good!” When I hear statements like this, I often chuckle and then explain there are no “good” or “bad” cards in Tarot.
Yeah right!

Let’s be honest, people. Nobody starts jumping up and down with unbridled excitement when the Tower, Death or the Devil show up in a spread. Even the most experienced readers take a pause and carefully survey the setting when any of these cards appear. Now imagine how an average person presenting an inquiry about the state of an important relationship would respond to this. It doesn’t take years of experience with the Tarot to know that certain cards suggest a less-than-harmonious outcome for a given situation.

But if the truth be told, you cannot determine how things will turn out on simply one card. For the record, a “positive” card doesn’t promise a perfect outcome, and a “bad” card does not confirm a horrible endings either. It is important to keep this in mind during a reading because we all desire the black-and-white, happily-ever-after ending.

This desire for a perfect ending is what makes the Lovers card so enticing. Just looking at this card, you can’t help but feel a hopeful energy associated with it. Depending on the artist and the deck, you will most likely experience a mood of sensual optimism. There is a dynamic – often sexual – connection between the individuals in the image.

When the Lovers card appears it is often talking about a union of souls. It can be an intimate connection between two people. There may also be symbols that suggest this connection goes beyond the physical realm. You may see angels, flames, fruit, the sun, and general abundance. This can refer to deeper ties that result in mental and spiritual connections between the client and another.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Now you can see why everyone would want this card to appear in a spread.
Not so fast!  What can be regularly missed in the meaning of this card are the deeper, more subtle concepts. This card is a reminder of the lessons the soul must first learn in order to have a successful relationship with anyone else.

The Lovers card tells us of the need for a union within the soul of the individual posing the question. It reminds us that we must first unite and heal our own soul before we can hope to have a healthy relationship with another. After that we must then be clear on what we believe about ourselves and about love. We must be confident and complete on our own before we can ever successfully merge with another soul.

This leads us to the last element of the Lovers card. Sometimes the card comes into a spread to remind us that we need to make some important decisions about the direction of our life. It is only by feeling this completion in our own Being that we are able to make decisions about sharing our lives, gifts and ideas others. Sometimes, this card is about figuring out what you need to do, what decisions you must make and what actions you must take in order to live the life you were meant to live.

The Lovers card is indeed about relationships. It’s about love and all the wonderful things that spring from it. However, this card tells of a deeper lesson we all must learn. The lesson is this: Before we can truly experience the love of another, we must first experience the greatest love of all – the love of our true self.

The Hierophant: Structure, Order, and ..... Change? - May 2014

My interaction with the Hierophant has been a long and colorful one. There are times when I have welcomed his presence in my personal Tarot spreads. There were other times when the mere mention of this card caused my upper lip to curl in a way that can only be described as a sneer. 

The Hierophant is definitely a Major Arcana Tarot card that has caused me some real mixed emotion because the ideas associated with this card are  pretty much a living paradox.

The Hierophant (Number 5) also goes by the name of the High Priest and the Pope. In ancient Greece, the Hierophant was the chief priest who oversaw rites, rituals and ceremonies associated with the country’s infamous mythological culture. His role was to supervise the precarious blending of tradition, structure and spirituality. It was his responsibility to interpret, explain and recommend how the average person could best navigate the dangers of the mortal world, and hopefully find himself worthy of reward in an afterlife amongst the Gods.

I don’t know about you, but that is quite a tall order to fill – especially in a world where uncertainty and fear were the regular themes of the day. Even today, these themes are still a very powerful presence in the psyche of the average person.

When the Hierophant appears in a spread, he is signaling the need for – or presence of – guidance.

When the Hierophant shows up it can be indicative of a person who is attempting to enact order, structure and direction in the life of the querent. This person can be a counselor, teacher, a mentor, a spiritual leader or someone else who is available to guide the client.

This sounds great right? Someone is there to save the day; to show you the way out of trouble. After all, there is nothing like order and routine to provide a person with a false sense of security about their ability to control their lives. That is the beauty of social order and organized religion. It suggests the false presence of answers and security in a world that is seriously lacking both.

However, The Hierophant is associated with the number 5 – a number of change, spontaneity and disorder. How is that possible? The energy associated with the number 5 is almost the antithesis of the Hierophant’s energy. When I was first learning the Tarot, I remember thinking this must be some kind of mistake. I was sure that someone, somewhere – long ago in history – accidently screwed up the numbers of the Major arcana.

But, as I thought more about the card and what it represented, I began to appreciate this apparent dichotomy. If you think about it, there is a significant down-side to the type of order the Hierophant represents. In a reading, the Hierophant can also signal restrictions in your life – the feeling of confinement that comes from having to live within the stricter rules of social order. The Hierophant can represent conformity for the sake of conformity, rather than for fulfilling the individuals’ needs. While some people thrive in this structured set up, others wilt. When operating from lower energies, The Hierophant can indicate a system that interferes with an individual’s ability to manifest his creative and Authentic self. This card can represent social order, restrictions or groups that are meant to elicit some type of authority over the individual and force them to act in a way society believes they should act.

Therein lies the challenge of interpreting this card. As with any structured unit – parents, educational systems, governments, churches – it is a fine line between nurturing growth and fighting for control. We must be careful to not obsess about the need to maintain order. If we prioritize the preservation of the very thing we created to advance ourselves, it will limit and eventually destroy us. By clinging to structure for the sake of structure, we will become like a stagnant pool of water that eventually recedes and dies.

Instead, we must embrace the higher energy of the Hierophant and search for genuine and healthy connections between the earth and spiritual planes. Structures, organizations and leadership are systems that help us evolve while we are visitors in this life school. However, these systems are only effective when there is a healthy balance within them. When the Hierophant appears, it is a message to us to use the earthy tools available but to also embrace the change associated through the number five on this card. Only through realizing our need to change and allowing our “structures” to grow, can our mortal life evolve into the realm of a God-like existence.

The Emperor - A Man of Responsible Action - April 2014

Everyone knows an “Emperor.” He comes in many forms – and can even cross the genders. The Emperor is a “do-er.” He makes up his mind and moves forward. He is decisive, confident and bold.  Basically, the Emperor (Major Arcana card 4) is your quintessential “man-of-action.”

While everyone reading this can certainly think of an “Emperor,” not everyone likes the emperor with whom they are in contact.

Unlike his counterpart, The Empress (whom we discussed last month), the Emperor is the epitome of dominance. Whereas the Empress has a softer, motherly approach to problem solving, the Emperor takes a patriarchal tack. Expect the Emperor to weigh the facts and make a decision devoid of emotion. His focus is on maintaining order, promoting structure and exercising control. The Emperor does not believe in the gentle domination his female counterpart practices. He issues a command and expects it to be obeyed. He has no qualms about using brute force if necessary.

And that is exactly why people have mixed feelings about the Emperor.

At his highest, he is a man of vision with a clear mission. He believes in his cause – whether it is running a country, a municipality, an organization, a business or a family. He rules from his head and makes decision about what is best for the entire group. He is all business. 

Unfortunately, this approach can be a difficult one to appreciate. While the Emperor’s intentions are in the right place, his lack of emotional consideration when making decisions can leave some of his “subjects” in a state of discontent. Mind you, the Emperor isn’t one to care too much about this – except for the impact it will have on his ability to govern.

When the Emperor is functioning at a lower energy…… Watch out! This is a man who is not really in control of himself.  In this state, his thinking is skewed and he is distracted by the dangerous emotions of arrogance, fear and paranoia. This is the problem with power. When some people get a taste of it, they lose their perspective. They forget the reason they wanted power in the first place – which was to make good things happen. An Emperor corrupted by power is being driven by the sole purpose of having power for the sheer sake of it. This is dangerous for both the Emperor and his “constituents.” A person corrupted by power can create nothing good. The focus is gain for selfish reasons, not the common good.

Therein lies the lesson of the Emperor card. Basically, it is hard to be a good leader. A strong leader makes difficult decision s/he believes are the best interest of the entire group. It is rare that everyone will be happy with these decisions. However, everyone can understand why the decision was made. This is the Emperor you should aim to be. Even though you may not be liked, you will most likely still be respected.

Conversely, the Emperor who rules for the sake of attention, glory and greed is a leader who is imprisoned by his own vices even if he doesn’t see it himself. Like any vice, his need for power will become an insatiable monkey-on-his-back. In the quest to feed this vice, he will completely sell his soul and become the very thing he originally came to power to destroy.
Being the Emperor is tough. When the Emperor card shows up in a reading, it represents a person or situation where control must be exerted in a responsible manner. It is about connecting with your more masculine side and making logical, difficult decisions that create the most benefit for the group as a whole. While the Tarot does recognize the importance of the softer nuances of human emotion, when the Emperor shows up we are being told to shift our focus to structure, logic and decisive action.

The Empress…… March 2014

In almost any Tarot deck you look, you can’t help but notice the beauty and dignity and grace the Empress  card carries. The Empress is often pictured as young, nubile and fertile. This card is bright and airy, and depicts the epitome of abundance. Symbolically, the Empress (Major Arcana card 3) represents Mother Earth – and seemingly she is able to be everything to everyone.

The Empress is the wife of the Emperor (Major Arcana card 4). She is his balanced counterpart. While he may be out conquering foreign lands, it is the Empress who makes the castle a home. Without her, he would have no true purpose; no reason to fight to his kingdom. It is the Empress – through her nurturing acts - that brings joy and pleasure to the Emperor’s life.
Tarot card images used with permission from
Anna Klaffinger, creator of the Anna K Tarot.
 For more information on this deck,

I personally like this card a lot because of the message it relays. It draws attention to feminine power and the effectiveness of gentle domination. Unlike her male counter-part, the Empress does not need to conquer her opponents. Instead she ‘kills them with kindness’ and wins them over with her dedication to their well-being. And this is not an act. The Empress truly believes in promoting growth and the well-being of the individual.

However, in my personal opinion, I feel the art on this card is a bit unrealistic at times. The typical Empress card usually depicts the youthful version of the creative mother. She is vivacious and surrounded with the natural abundance that comes to her as a gift of her youth. Yes, the garden is lush and her belly is swollen, and she is in the process of creating her dreams. When the Empress appears in the spread it can literally mean a pregnancy. It can also mean the growth of something important  – a dream, a business, a beautiful home, etc. Without a doubt, when the Empress shows up, nurturing and creation are in the air. Her actions bring wonderful gifts to the people around her.

And therein lies my uncertainty with this card. As I said before, the Empress is almost always pictured as an incredibly attractive and youthful woman. I feel this depiction is inaccurate. Rather, I would like to see this card showing that same woman approximately 20 years down the road. Let’s be real. Creation and nurturing are not a one-time thing. This is a gift the Empress gives continuously throughout her life, and that type of giving takes a toll on a person physically and emotionally.

Don’t believe me? Try this:  Imagine a young woman leaving the hospital with her brand new baby girl  in her arms. This woman is bright, courageous and energetic. She is much like that baby herself – innocent and optimistic about the future. Now imagine that same woman 25 years later. She is standing in a church watching her baby girl exchange wedding vows and beginning a life of her own. Twenty-five years of love and nurturing have been given to this baby, and now the mother must step back and let her child go.

That woman leaving the hospital and that woman leaving the church are not the same woman. They will not look anything alike and they will be much different on the inside as well. There is a wear-and-tear that happens to the body and the soul. To create her beautiful garden, the Empress needs to give of herself, and very few decks incorporate these deeper images associated with this type of giving

On occasion, you will see this version of the Empress. In particular, the Anna K deck does an excellent job morphing the energy of the good intentions of the young mother with the impact of those intentions on the same woman years later. There is still a kindness in the Empress’s eyes, but the wear on her body and soul is evident.

When the Empress shows up, it does tell us something is growing. However, it also tells us to exercise care over ourselves and our well-being. The Empress is a nurturer, she cannot change that. What she can do though is broaden her scope of nurturing to include herself so that the garden she has already planted, as well as future gardens for which she has plans, will continue to grow with a healthy and productive fervor.

To me, this is the where you see the true meaning of the Empress. Her beauty is not fleeting like a gift of youth. Rather, her beauty is inside and lies in her ability to continue to nurture herself and others as a means to make the world a place in which everyone can feel at home.

Awaken Your Inner Priestess - February 2014

There is something about the High Priestess Major Arcana Tarot Card (Number 2) that makes people stop and take notice. She has a presence about her, yes, but there is something more – something almost intangible that we all desperately want for ourselves.

What the High Priestess has that so many of us seek is a deep connection to our Authentic Self, and an understanding of how to interpret the Divine Light that exists within us.

Traditional images of the High Priestess have her sitting on a throne in religious-type garb. The image is of a conservative, reserved woman similar to a nun. Her head is covered and she is surrounded by objects that suggest balance, spiritual knowledge and abundance.
More modern versions of the High Priestess present a different view. These variations show a more nubile female who has manifested her spirituality more clearly on earth. The female in this second rendition can vary in age, but she is still very much connected to the energy of the earth.

Regardless of which image you prefer, the element which commands the most attention in every High Priestess card is the intensity of the look in her eyes.  It is impossible not to connect with her powerful stare.

One look at her eyes and it is becomes obvious to even a novice reader that the High Priestess knows why she is here and lives her life according to that purpose. She understands the depth of her power, yet does not feel the need to impress people with it. She has an inner knowing – an intuition – that guides her as she makes difficult decisions. The High Priestess is independent in thought and action, but still manages to remain connected to her fellow man. She is a leader, a teacher and a spiritual advisor. She believes in sharing her knowledge, but does not force it on anyone.

The High Priestess teaches us that it is okay to listen to that voice inside you when making life decisions. More importantly, the High Priestess advises us to be confident and courageous in the actions we take as we follow our paths. She is a testament to the individual who spiritually awakens and follows her calling despite being surrounded by the masses who choose to remain in a spiritual slumber.

When the High Priestess appears in your reading, you are being encouraged to pay attention to your intuition. Your higher – more Authentic Self – is trying to get your attention. There is something you know you should be doing, although you may be hesitating to act. Her presence suggests an inner knowing is already present and that action is required. The High Priestess appears in a spread to inspire and motivate you. She is reminding you that you already possess everything you could possibly need to be successful. She represents a physical manifestation of your more intuitive self who is you asking you to cross the threshold and align with a life more in tune with your Divine Purpose and Authentic Self.

Make Magic Happen in 2014 - January 2014

Take one look at The Magician card (number 1), and it is easy to see the personal power this character possesses. Clothed in a red cape with one hand stretching to the sky and the other to the ground, his calm demeanor underscores the energy of this confident and capable individual. Actually, everything about this card suggests The Magician is a person who has not only developed his skills, but utilizes these talents for the betterment of himself and those around him.

The Magician is confident but not arrogant. He is independent but not selfish or out of touch. He is decisive but not dictatorial. He is communicative and intelligent, but not a braggart. Basically, he is a person who has claimed his personal power, and uses it responsibly, and for its highest good.

As we step into 2014, this is the person we should strive to become – a person who works to develop our unique talent, skills and power so that we can improve the quality of our life and the lives of those around us.

Many times when I do a reading, I will see The Magician come up in areas such as “advice from the Universe” or in a “negative” or “challenge” spot. Depending upon the cards around it, I will often deliver the same message of:  “It is time to (re)claim your personal power.”
When I say this, it’s not uncommon for the client to confess that they had been involved in a situation where they were giving their power away to another by refusing to make a decision they knew they should make, by refraining from expressing an opinion or idea that should be expressed, or by refusing to act when action was needed.

The truth is, when we don’t embrace our power, or when we give it away to another, we help no one. We certainly don’t help ourselves, because we are not using the gifts given to us by the Universe. When you look at the Magician’s table, you will see examples of all four elements. The pentacle stands for earth (finances and gifts of the earth). The sword stands for air (thoughts and ideas). The wand is fire (spirit, desire, dreams/plans, action) and the cup is water (emotion). The Magician is a person with proficient understanding and use of these elements.

This card also suggests the Magician is in the process of mastering the fifth element of ether. Ether represents the spiritual plane – the dimension where the physical mind attempts to connect with the higher mind of the Authentic Self. The Magician is a person who seeks balance in his life (as indicted by the infinity sign above his head and at his throat). His thoughts and words are in sync. In addition, he attempts to use his accomplishments and talents (represented by the red rose) with the purest of intention (represented by the white lilies). His actions here on earth are not without positive end result (represented by his stance). He truly attempts to actualize his life purpose.

The Magician, when realized in our life, is representative of our Authentic Self manifested on earth. He sits solidly between The Fool (who stands for our quest for our Authenticity) and the High Priestess (who possesses many of the qualities of our Higher Self in spiritual form).
If you refuse to claim your power or allow another to take it from you because you are afraid to stand up for what you know if right, you will never connect with your Authentic Self. It really is that simple.

In addition, when you hand over your power to another person, you hurt the person you are allowing to dominate you. Your inaction teaches that person that it is okay to throw their weight around to get what they want. They learn that gain on this earth plane comes from subjugating the needs of others and from inconsiderate and narrow-minded actions. Because you don’t stand up to them, they will continue this behavior with others. They will spread discontent and injury to others through the selfishness of their actions, and they will definitely hurt themselves because they will never have learned to develop their own skills, talent and power. They too will never realize their Authentic Selves if they continue to act in this manner.

The truth is you are actually helping yourself, the other person, and the Universe when you decide to develop the attributes of The Magician. Be like The Magician and really connect with your talents. Make 2014 a magical year for yourself and others. By doing this, you will be a grounded, intelligent, communicative and forward-thinking individual who is closer to connecting with your Authentic Self, and brings this world closer to becoming a much more peaceful place to live.

Go Ahead … Be The Fool - December 2013

or me, learning Tarot has been like starting out on a journey withou t a clear plan in place. I have always known where I wanted to go. I just wasn’t exactly sure about how to get there. My work with the Tarot has been an exciting, life-changing adventure. Because of this, it is no wonder I have such an affinity for the very first card of the deck - The Fool. With its rich symbols and meanings, it is a fitting character to meet as we begin to explore all 78-cards.
Regardless of the particular Tarot deck you choose, the images on The Fool almost always contain similar symbols. The most pronounced image is that of The Fool perched precariously on the edge of some type of precipice – usually a cliff. Despite this unsteady environment, The Fool seems blissfully ignorant of the dangers around him. On his head he wears a cap of some sort, often adorned with a feather. A faithful companion can be seen nearby, and he carries a white rose in his hand and his meager possessions on a stick over his shoulder. While not all Tarot decks contain all of these images, many of the symbols are visible regardless of the Tarot artist.

Tarot card images used with permission from
Anna Klaffinger, creator of the Anna K Tarot.
For more information on this deck,
What’s important to note is not so much the individual symbols, but the message they deliver. It is easy to feel the reckless abandon with which the Fool embarks on his journey. His youthful courage can be both inspiring and disturbing. He is so excited to use the knowledge he has acquired and to make his mark in the world, he appears oblivious to the obvious pitfalls around him. Despite this, he ventures forward with the confidence that his faithful posse (symbolized by the dog)will be there to support him. After all, they were there as he made some impressive accomplishments already. (Symbolized by the feather in his cap.) He is confident in the skills he has acquired so far (symbolized by the sack over his shoulder – which in some decks has a distinct ‘anatomical’ look to it) and is sure he will use these talents when so many wonderful opportunities emerge (as symbolized by the white rose).

Ahhhhhhh…… To be so sure of one self and one’s future. That is the gift of The Fool. He has yet to be burned. His dream has not been squashed. His confidence not shattered by some of the harsher realities of the world. The Fool truly is the Authentic Self. He is pure and innocent and undamaged. He carries no karma. His slate is clean, and his focus is on his True North.

To learn the Tarot, or follow any dream, one must deeply embrace the energy of The Fool. This does not mean fumbling blindly into a career or pursuing a course of study without direction. Rather, it means you must become the very excitement and courage The Fool exudes. If you look carefully at the card, The Fool is not without some assets. He has many skills that he has acquired and a few accomplishments under his belt. He has opportunities that are presented, and the support of a loyal network of people. But, what he has that truly drives him forward is enthusiasm and commitment. As I look at the card, I feel The Fool is much more intelligent than he appears to be. I believe The Fool paused at the edge because he does see the cliff before him. He is not dashing recklessly forward. Rather, he is perched near the cliff looking for other ways to cross this unexpected chasm. Instead of giving up or turning around at this seemingly insurmountable obstacle, he directs his focus beyond it, looking for ways around it.

To me, that is the biggest lesson this card conveys. Basically, he’s telling us to pursue our dreams full-speed ahead and not let unexpected problems get in our way. The Fool reminds us that there is no straight line in life when it comes to following your plans. Instead, it’s a series on twisting paths and broken roads. The Fool lets us know it is okay to be flexible and change direction on your path to your goal. However, he also warns us not to lose sight of that goal.

Basically, if we remember the lessons of The Fool – to always make an enthusiastic start, to use our skills to help us, to keep ideas and plans flexible and to not lose sight of our desired destination, we will experience a world of contentment as we move in a direction that aligns us with who we really are at the core of our being.