Tag: Tarot

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


Tarot Origins Workshop begins soon

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Detail from the Hermit, Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

Tarot Origins runs on Sundays from 3 May – June 28, 2015 from 2-4 pm EST, except for Sunday, May 24, which is a long weekend in Canada.

The 8 week workshop is available in-class for those in Toronto, and via video conferencing for distance students. Distance students will also get a 30 minute one-on-one study session with me via Skype. A private podcast will be available to all students for download for private study should a class be missed.

Most books and classes on tarot cover begin with how to read tarot, but Tarot Origins digs deeper, and looks at how tarot came to be, and where these divinatory meanings actually come from.

What it covers

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 learn about important figures like Court de Gebelin, Papus, Eliphas Levi, AE Waite, Pamela Colman Smith, Aleister Crowley, Lady Frieda Harris, and more.

Over the years so many diverse systems have attached themselves to the tarot, and we’ll look at how and why, and if (!) this makes sense, particularly through alchemy, astrology, the classical elements, the I Ching, the Hebrew alphabet, kabbalah, and a myriad of other esoteric associations.

Sign me up!

The course fee will be $160 for the full 8 weeks, and is offered in-person for those in Toronto, and via video conference for distance students.

In addition to the live workshop you get:

  • Detailed notes and a tarot timeline
  • Figures and diagrams comparing dozens of decks
  • Private podcast recording of in-class sessions

Following the course, distance students also receive a one-one-one 30 minute tutoring session via Skype.

Please contact me at nico@nicomaramckay.com to reserve your spot. I look forward to seeing you in class!

 


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


A chat with Benebell Wen about analytic tarot

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Benebell Wen

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, by Giulia F. Massaglia

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The Tarot MuchaThe Tarot MuchaTarot 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.

Continue reading


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