On 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
Benebell Wen’s first book, Holistic Tarot, has just been published with North Atlantic Books. Holistic Tarot is a comprehensive guide to tarot, great for beginners just learning the cards, intermediate students needing guidance to get deeper into the cards, and business tips for professionals.
In this chat, we talk about Benebell Wen‘s first deck, fortune telling, Eden Gray’s influence, and reading tarot for teddy bears. Continue reading
Trees of the Goddess: A New Way of Working with the Ogham, by Elen Sentier
Moon Books, 9781782793328, 101 pp., 2014
For millennia, trees have been held sacred among indigenous cultures and great civilisations alike. Tree mythology features in all major world religions. Trees speak deeply to our human collective unconscious, as symbols of otherworld connection, longevity, nourishment, and the mysteries of transformation.
To the ancient Celts, certain trees held special value as a magickal alphabet known as the ogham. Trees of the Goddess is a short book describing these sacred trees in the context of the mystical “Song of Amergin,” translated by Robert Graves in The White Goddess. While the ogham’s popular use as a calendar is loosely based on Graves’ work, his interpretation has been disputed (in true Pagan style) as a corruption of original sources. Continue reading
It’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
The Wicca Deck, by Sally Morningstar, illustrated by Danuta Mayer
Connections Book Publishing, 978-1-85906-380-4, 42 cards plus instruction booklet, 2014
When The Wicca Deck came up for review I was excited to put in my bid for it. I’ve worked with tarot and oracle decks for about a decade, but never one based on my own spiritual path. The Wicca Deck is a 42-card oracle deck originally published by Godsfield Press in Great Britain in 2001 and republished this year by Connections, also from Great Britain. Some key elements account for its staying power.
First, the illustrations are simple, cleanly drawn and easily relate to their titles and keywords, reminiscent of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. There is some abstract art in the cards, but card themes are always easy to detect; this is perhaps because the artist, Danuta Mayer, illustrates children’s books, which usually depict real, basic objects. The clarity works well in this deck. The nature of the Wiccan path is diverse; every practitioner has a slightly different vision, and by keeping visuals straightforward one is invited to see the cards in her own way.
As you’d expect, the artistic interpretations are clearly Wiccan: The Green Man is depicted as the classic face on a tree, Spiral is depicted as the spiral goddess, Black Cat (my favourite) depicts a cat in an Egyptian temple, taking her rightful place as the goddess Bast. Continue reading