Tarot

It’s in the cards.

Tarot court cards as creative archetypes

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Tarot, photo by Kristin AndrusWhen I bought my first tarot deck, I did not immediately connect to the Queen of Pentacles pictured on the Universal Waite box. She was calm and contemplative. She was still, and I was a 17 year old woman in motion.

I trusted that the decision to engage in tarot would awaken a journey of discovery, but remained fixated with the legacy of a great-grandmother who taught English. Grammy was the Queen of Pentacles, connected to teaching, but the lessons of reflecting on tarot through poetry and more have been part of my educational adventures. Continue reading


Chinese fortune telling, tarot, and divination

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I Ching, photo by Ross GriffHolistic Tarot, by Benebell WenOn page one of my book Holistic Tarot, I wrote, “I do not support fortune telling.” When I sat down to write my book, I made the conscious decision to state my position on that particular issue. I wanted to pull professional tarot practice outside the scope of anti-fortune telling laws that are still enforceable in many parts of the United States. More than that, my position comes from a definition of what fortune telling entails that might differ from Western perspectives, a personal definition influenced by the Chinese theory on fortune telling. I hope this article will provide context for my position.

While I wouldn’t dare assume that all Chinese metaphysicians think the same about fortune telling and divination, by general practice the Chinese metaphysical view seems to make a clear distinction between fortune telling and divination. In Chinese, 算命 (suànmìng) is fortune telling;卜筮 (bǔshì) is divination. Continue reading


8 swords and no hands

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Detail from 8 of Swords in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The 8 of Swords and I have a long history. It’s shown up in so many of my readings that for a long time I was surprised if it wasn’t there. But lately, as my life has changed (thankfully for the better!) I haven’t seen it as much, and in a way I’ve come to miss it, even though it always signified struggle and hardship for me. I’ve developed a close relationship with the 8 of Swords, and my own web of interpretations and associations, and now that the card stepping out of my life I feel compelled to share them.

The 8 of Swords, in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and in most of its other incarnations, depicts a woman, bound and blindfolded, standing in a field of swords which seem to cage her in. She wears a red dress and has dark hair — an interesting contrast to the archetypal blonde damsel in a white gown. Perhaps her life has been marked more by passion than purity. There are puddles of water near her feet (which make me think of a flood plain, perhaps adding an additional danger) and behind her is a mountain with a castle-like structure on it. Continue reading


Epistolary tarot: Love, letting go, and learning

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Letters, photo by Lenore EdmanDear Reader,

The practice of writing tarot letters has brought me joy and comfort as well as enriched my understanding of the arcana. In 2014, I came up with the idea of sending my friends and family individual tarot cards with handwritten letters for holidays, birthdays, and other special events.

First, I had to select a deck to break up and give away. I wanted to use a deck that I read with professionally and wasn’t the standard Rider-Waite-Smith (as some of my friends already own it), a deck that spoke to me and to strangers. One that was field-tested and familiar. After trying out Corrine Kenner’s Wizards Tarot at a couple festivals as well as in private readings, I bought a second pack of cards to mail with letters. Continue reading


Crafting a tarot wreath

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Star anise wreath, image by Hans

Whether designed to recognize a winter holiday, created as a gift or used as a reflective hobby, wreaths can take on many themes and incorporate a variety of materials such as fruits, twigs, leaves, paper, fabric or wire. They need only to hold to the shape of a ring, and sometimes loosely at best.

Tarot-themed wreaths are a craft that can enrich those who love to create, those who may be daunted by the system of traditionally 78 cards and archetypes known as tarot, or those who may wish to deepen their relationship with the cards. Continue reading


Reading tarot professionally at parties and events

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Tarot, photo by Ricardo RosadoIt’s nearing the end of the year and I get a familiar message in my inbox, “Will you be joining me for New Year’s this year?” I reply with a yes, and mark the day on my calendar as booked. As much as it sounds like it, it is not a date. It’s actually a large party where I will be reading tarot professionally.

Tarot readers often attend parties and festivals in order to earn income from their craft. Although festivals tend to be large and well attended, private parties can be much smaller and more intimate. The type of parties I read at, however, are quite large, often with hundreds of people in attendance.

For this particular event, I am one of three readers hired. We will all be together in the room, and may read up to 150 people each over the course of one evening, depending how busy it is. If this sounds impossible, believe me, it isn’t — it’s just exhausting.

Large events can be very lucrative for readers. Organizers, who may be from corporations throwing holiday parties, private party planners, or neighbourhood committees, and so on, like to have unique performers at their events, and everyone is at least a little interested in divination. The key to handling these draining events is thoughtful planning. Continue reading


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