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.