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
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
Tarot Mucha, artwork by Giulia F. Massaglia, colouring by Barbara Nosenzo, booklet by Lunaea Weatherstone
Lo Scarabeo, 9780738745589, 78 cards, 128 pp. booklet, 2015
The Tarot Mucha is an Art Nouveau style deck inspired by Czech painter Alphonse Mucha. Mucha’s style resonates in his unique lettering, and the stained glass work that seems to influence his paintings. He broke into the art world when noted stage actress Sarah Bernhardt became the model for his most famous posters.
This deck is a pleasure to work with: it provides an almost immediate sense that it works well as a deck for daily use, a workhorse for professional readers and a fine introduction for those new to tarot. The deck features quality, slick cardstock, a sturdy box that could well replace a need for a bag or other container, and a well-written book that offers a few straight-forward spreads.
Tarot Origins is my favourite tarot workshop to teach, because we start right from tarot’s early beginnings, through its history, how it’s been used, the symbolism attached, and how to read the cards.
In this 8 week Tarot Origins workshop series, we’ll look at tarot’s exoteric and esoteric histories: the Dance of Death (not as sinister as it sounds!), the Renaissance, the fin de siecle occult revival, and modern interpretations of the tarot today. We’ll also learn about important figures like Court de Gebelin, Papus, Eliphas Levi, AE Waite, Pamela Colman Smith, Aleister Crowley, Lady Frieda Harris, and more. Continue reading
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
In September 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the Museo Dei Tarocchi (Tarot Museum) in Bologna Italy.
Nestled in the mountains of Riola stands a beautiful 400-year-old building restored by Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazoli. The museum is filled with treasures including original esoteric artwork contributed by Italian and international artists, a plethora of tarot decks old and new, rare and unusual texts, mini art installations, and a gift shop to purchase decks made by local artists.
Morena Poltronieri taught me about the history of tarot in Italy, while guiding me along on an informative tour throughout the museum. Tarot artifacts filled the room, from the bottom to the top; an esoteric enthusiasts dream. Continue reading