Choosing a Tarot Deck


For a Tarot beginner, choosing a first deck is an incredible and impactful moment. The right deck will communicate clearly to you and become a powerful ally, while the wrong one will end up gathering dust somewhere in a corner. So what makes a deck right or wrong? There are as many answers as there are individuals. There is, in fact, no such thing as a wrong deck. A cousin of mine taught herself the Minor Arcana with playing cards. Others I know collect 5 or 6 decks as beginners and slowly become introduced to each.

One deck is more than enough to learn how to read Tarot. The most important criteria is that you feel connected to it, this connection will create the bond that allows you to communicate with your cards. I know it can be overwhelming to choose a deck from the myriad options available. I put together this comparison of TWELVE decks which I hope will help you get a feel for what you want in your Tarot cards and some inspiration in which ones you might like.

I chose the Star and the Two of Cups to photograph, not for any particular reason other than that they are both happy cards to me that can display some range. One Major and one Minor Arcana, although of course looking at two of seventy-eight cards does not give a full picture of the deck it does give some feel for the cards. I invite you to spend some time comparing the images below. What’s different and what’s the same? Do you get a feel for the archetype the cards are all referencing? This is a wonderful way to learn the cards.

L to R :: Rider-Waite, Claude Burdel, 1751, Thoth, Voyager

These four decks are classics in their own right. None of them are the first but each has made large contributions to Tarot readers and taromancy as a practice. The Rider-Waite deck, illustrated by Pamela Coleman, is probably the most well known and widely used Tarot in the world. They were first published in 1909 and many modern Tarot are modeled after these. I recommend learning with this deck or one inspired by it to beginners who ask me. This isn’t the only option for a new reader but it certainly does make the road to learning a bit easier, especially as many books on how to read are also written in reference to these cards.

The Claude Burdel, 1751 deck next to it is much older as the name implies. The Major Arcana have many similarities, the Rider Waite expanded on these images in many cases. The Two of Cups makes a major difference known, before the Rider-Waite, all Minor Arcana contained very little imagery and mostly the suite symbol displayed in arrangement. The Two of Cups actually has quite a bit more symbolism on it than some of the other cards in this deck as it contains the lion’s head and intertwining serpents. These cards are wonderful but in my opinion harder to read from as they give you fewer symbols to interpret and require more memorization.

The Thoth deck was designed by the controversial Aleister Crowley in 1944. Crowley made many changes to the Rider-Waite cards along with Lady Frieda Harris, who painted the original images. It is not exactly the same in numbering and interpretation of some cards including a few Major Arcana. Learning with the Thoth deck can also prepare you to read many others as it is similar enough to most decks, and there are many decks which take influence from the Thoth directly as well. This was my first Tarot deck and I have always found it to be very powerful.

In 1984 the Voyager Tarot was released making it more modern than the others. It’s incredibly different than the classical Tarot and uses collage as well as different suites and some differing Major Arcana as well. I’ve included it here as I feel this deck really opened the door for Tarot to have a vast interpretation and there are many modern Tarot, particularly made by independent artists, that explore the boundaries of the Tarot with their own suites and symbols. I’ve seen many decks using collage in more recent years, these decks usually deviate quite a bit in imagery and sometimes meaning, they are just as powerful as the classics if you are drawn to them.

L to R :: Ethereal Visions 2018, Mucha 2015 , Fenestra 2008, Sun and Moon 2018

In the Ethereal Visions Tarot, designed by Matt Hughes, the style is quite minimal but some of the same symbolism appears in these cards, giving you more of an essence of the meaning and a bit less to work with. There’s a lot of beauty in this deck and it has a wonderful thick stock with gorgeous gold foiling; however, it’s more minimal style may be harder for new readers and this is something to consider in choosing your deck.

The Tarot Mucha (created by Lunaea Weatherstone) have a classical feel and beautiful painting modeled after the work of Czech artist Alfonse Mucha (1860-1939). It is relevant to note that while the feel is very classical, this deck reimagines many of the classical Tarot symbolism in order to stay true to the aesthetic and inspiration. The images are parallel to Rider-Waite but there are distinct differences. This is true of many of the decks here if you look closely. What difference does it make for the figure in the Star to be gazing into the water, into the sky, or off into the distance? There’s actually quite a different feeling and these gazes can be interpreted in their own ways as well; one being reflective, one aspirational, and one avoidant. Again, there is no right or wrong, as I’ve collected more decks I’ve come to get to know each one and I honor each deck’s energy as well as what I know about each archetype (each card).

The Fenestra Tarot by Chatriya follows the Rider-Waite imagery like a lot of the decks we see here. It’s very romantic with rich symbolism. I love this deck for readings related to matters of the heart and love. At the same time, there is something quite orderly and pleasing about these cards, they feel extremely well thought out to me and, being more classic, a wonderful deck for a beginning reader.

Finally, the Sun and Moon Tarot, inspired by Thoth and designed by Vanessa Decort, is quite modern in it’s beautifully illustrated and deceptively simple artwork. I say deceptively simple because this deck is very rich in symbols and gives you a lot to work with as a reader. Looking at the Two of Cups from this deck as well as the Thoth referenced above, you may see the different meaning given for this card “Love” as opposed to “Equilibrium” or “Balance” from others. Maybe you see how these interpretations stem from the same concept of balance in your emotional body. I point out this distinction only to remind you of the importance in getting to know each deck that you purchase. Do your homework and research the meanings of the cards, read books etc. to give yourself a fuller understanding of each card and how to interpret them for yourself in collaboration with the artist’s intention.

L to R :: Spiritsong 2017, Ostara 2017, Sacred Rose 1987, Zillich 2018

The Spiritsong Tarot, from Paulina Cassidy, offers a combination of traditions, introducing animal guide symbolism with classical Tarot meanings. In my opinion this deck is really well done. While not traditional, it does contain rich symbolism through the animal chosen for each card, including the Minor Arcana. The meanings of the cards remain pretty true to Rider-Waite; learning these meanings will help you get to know Tarot more generally, the symbolism will be different and change things a bit. The guide book on this one is very good as well and gives wonderful rich meanings for each card. Overall this is a strong deck which could be great for a beginner, especially an animal lover.

The Ostara Tarot was a collaborative effort between four artists and friends in British Columbia. It also comes with a gorgeous and really well done guide book that offers really good information. This deck is again inspired by the Rider-Waite, however it has been reimagined quite a bit. The essence of the cards feels the same to me and some cards bear more resemblance to the classics than others. The Ostara comes on a very nice, more plastic card stock. The cards stick together at first but with some handling the deck has become easy to use and I imagine it will hold up very well in time. The feel and stock of the cards can play a huge role in your connection to a deck, and unfortunately is pretty difficult to know unless you feel the cards in your hand. This is not always possible so researching and reading reviews is the best way to get an idea of what a deck will actually feel like in your hands.

Johanna Gargiulo-Sherman is an artist and psychic who designed the Sacred Rose Tarot. This deck does stick to a lot of the classic imagery but has been heavily stylized into a Gothic vibe. This is a good example of a deck having a kind of “vibe,” to me it’s moody and feels more serious than a lot of the others displayed here. This has a strength in some situations and I wouldn’t say this deck is negative. I do think decks with this much of their own flavor are very individual. A certain feeling can be great for readings of that nature, or for a client that exudes a certain energy.

The Zillich Tarot is another that’s based on the Thoth, designed by Christine Zillich, it comes in a smaller size in a wonderful tin you can easily carry. The cards are a nice stock and easy to use. I’ve used this deck a ton since I received it this year. These cards, like others in this row, reimagine the Tarot using the meanings of the classical decks and exploring new imagery. This deck gives you a lot to work with, there’s color symbolism in addition to image and shape. When it comes to shuffling, size does matter. Thinking about the size of the cards you want to use can be helpful! If your hands are smaller or larger, you may want to consider how well a certain deck may sit in your hands. Many classic decks are even available in more than one size if you find you have a preference.

If there is one lesson I can really push (and maybe am pushing?) it’s that each deck is going to have it’s own experience. As a reader, getting to know each deck you use is most of the work! It’s also incredibly joyful work to examine the cards and explore what you see in each one as well as what you receive from the author in the guidebooks provided. If you do have more than one deck to look at, compare a few of the cards for yourself and notice what is the same and what’s different. This practice gives you an idea of the quintessential meaning of each card as well as your own particular tastes as a reader. Spending time with your cards is the best way to learn Tarot and create a powerful connection with your deck as a tool and friend.

I love talking about Tarot and sharing with you. I offer one on one guidance for readers in addition to readings, and I’m always happy to answer a quick question via email. I hope you’ve enjoyed this comparison and that you have fun picking out your next Tarot deck! Let me know which is your favorite in the comments section!

***please note the Ethereal Visions, Sun and Moon, Spiritsong, Sacred Rose and Zillich Tarot were gifted to me in exchange for use and review by US Games.

June Tarot for Yogis (originally published on Wanderlust Journal)

this post was originally published on Wanderlust Journal here.

Summer is almost upon us. Have you been growing in the direction you wish? June is a month of heightening energy and you may find yourself facing a need to redirect and refocus. The growing light in the Northern Hemisphere increases the fire element within. Passions are heightened and with that can come an increase in sensitivity, irritability, anxiety and feelings of instability. (Or is it just me?) When used well, this increased energy is a skyrocket for growth that will lead you closer to your dreams. So I have asked the Tarot for June, “Where is our energy best used this month?”

The beautiful deck I used this month is the Zillich Tarot, created by Christine Zillich with a guidebook written by Johan Von Kirschner. These lovely watercolor illustrations offer deep symbolism and follow the tradition of the Thoth Tarot. The Thoth Tarot is another classical deck quite similar to the Rider Waite, but with a few differences in court cards and the interpretation of certain Major Arcana. I thoroughly enjoy this take on the deck, and I’ve been getting very accurate readings with the Zillich Tarot so it’s become a fast favorite of mine.

Our trusted three cards this month work well to paint a picture. In this case all three cards are relevant to the matter at hand. They represent the foundation of the matter, what is under the surface. The path forward, advice for these circumstances. And finally the ultimate fruition, what this approach is leading towards.

The foundation: Eight of Wands
The path: Three of Wands
The fruition: Prince of Cups

The Foundation

The foundation of the moment is the eight of wands, swiftness. This represents the growing fire of the season, the heightened energy and the swift movement of emotions and reactions right now. Recognizing this foundation is a reminder to slow down. As fire rises, use your practice to slow down and seek the stillness within the movement. Restorative Yoga classes are ideal to find calm through the storms that arise this season. If you look closely at this card you see a woman frolicking. A rainbow runs through her mind with a diamond prism above her; her thoughts are liberated and she is free. This is the beauty of passion, it bears freedom and independent growth. Honor your most authentic wishes right now.

The Path

The three of wands, virtue, is the advice of the Tarot this month. Generosity, honesty, and strength are symbolized by the lotus flowers, in various states of opening, various states of understanding. These flowers also represent the unity of body, mind and spirit. The three of wands still has fire at its heart as a wand, in this case the fire is balanced and grounded in the body. This card represents choice and choosing from your highest Self. When do you feel most connected to your highest Self? Meditation, yoga practice, intuitive dance, walking through the woods… Whatever brings you peace will be an important part of your practice right now to remain in balance.

The Fruition

Finally, the Prince of Cups calls us forward, he is the airy part of water. While the cups are tied closely to emotions, the Princes are logical and ambitious. Therefore, the Prince of Cups is well-balanced between his head and heart. The scorpion tail on his crown represent passion and action; the snake is transformation and intellect; and the eagle over his shoulder is perspective and vision. The sinking lotus is a reminder not to overlook the matters of the heart and spirit, yet this figure is equipped with all of the tools necessary to work with these matters and grow. This archetype is your inspiration for the month. You are capable of finding the balance within of your passions, your commitments, your intellect and your emotions. Journaling and other introspective practices will help you maintain this balance and make proper use of all of the tools that you’re equipped with.

Tarot and my Grammy

Here in the states it was Mother’s Day yesterday, May 12. My Grandmother’s birthday is May 11, and had she lived another 12 months and 3 weeks, she would have been 95 years old this past weekend. Grammy was the matriarch of our family, my mother and her two sisters each had three children of their own, upon Grammy’s passing she had 9 great grandchildren to boot including my sister’s baby in her belly. She was a truly special woman and her loss affected me greatly, I have looked up to her since I was a small girl.

My grandmother inspired me by living alone for many decades in New York City, dancing and taking painting classes well into her retirement. She had a strong relationship with Tarot, before I was born she taught yoga at Integral Institute (her mother was a yoga teacher and student of Transcendental Meditation also). Most of all, Grammy took each of us aside at our tenth birthday parties and showed us how to use iChing for divination and guidance. She had many decks of Tarot cards tucked in baskets and onto the shelves amongst her dozens of books. She was mystical and quiet about it, while simultaneously generous and lavished me with teachings whenever I asked. Which was more and more often as we both aged.

I owe much of who I am today to my Grammy, and I’m beyond grateful for everything she has given me. The practices I’ve learned from her inspired me to continue on this path and shape my own spiritual practice. My practice involves a lot of privacy and it’s always a balancing act for me to discern what I’d like to share with the public and what remains for me and those in relationship to my practice. Reading Tarot is such a wonderful place to share one of my dearest practices with others. I have read Tarot for people in many different walks of life, who are on their own spiritual journeys. Sometimes the only overlap we both share is an interest in the Tarot, other times there are many layers of overlap and there are further practices we might share like yoga or ritual.

Sharing Tarot had been slowly growing as more of my public practice as well as some ritual work, and suddenly in 2018 Grammy became ill, and within six weeks was gone. I had the chance to say goodbye to her, and it was incredibly hard for me. The following months I took space away from sharing publicly because of how much Tarot was tied to my relationship to Grammy. Even as recently as 2 months before she died I was in her apartment comparing dozens of decks with her and learning from her long time relationship with the cards.

This year I decided I was ready to return to sharing Tarot, it brings me so much joy and it delighted my grandmother to know I was sharing this work with the world. I started a monthly article for Wanderlust Journal, I’ve loved writing for them for a long time and it’s been wonderful to collaborate with the amazing team on these posts.

You can see them here :: January, February, March, April, May.

I offer readings via phone call or FaceTime video (your preference) and I’ve got some great workshops coming up for you soon on Tarot. Contact me to discuss one on one readings, group workshops or mentoring sessions.

May Tarot for Yogis (originally published on Wanderlust Journal)

this post was originally published on Wanderlust Journal here.

May in the Northern Hemisphere is a beautiful month of flowers and sunshine. It’s a great time of year to get outside appreciate Mother Earth—particularly as spring is a season for growth and evolution. It’s also an apropos time to ask from the abundance of the Earth, and in the modern era more than ever it’s important to remember to give back to the Earth with conscious, green actions. Growth is an exchange after all: Exchanging energy is easier during the spring and fall; both transitional times of year when it’s easier to connect with other humans. This means it can be a harder time to stay connected to yourself with all of the excitement and transformation and social time, so this month we are focusing on keeping the ground under you. I asked the deck, “How can we stay grounded while growing this month?

This month I am using a non-tarot guidance deck. This is the Practice You Daily Awakening Deck created by someone very dear to me, Elena Brower. I have been connected to her for many years as a student. Elena has been a guide to me in my own life many times; her deck brings a lot of great feels for me. It’s simple to use with clear messages on exquisitely designed cards much in the style of her journal, Practice You. I personally do not use many decks that are not in the traditional 78 card Tarot style, but this deck really speaks to me because of my connection to Elena, as well as the gorgeous simplicity and quality of these cards.

Three card spreads are so versatile—I use them often and have another three card spread this month. Decks are often printed with suggestions for spreads and meanings for the placements of the spread. Elena offers suggestions as well, but I chose to create my own purpose for each placement. In this instance; the first card represents the immediate path, the second card is the advice/obstacle, and the third card is the ultimate fruition or an expansion of the path.

The present moment on the path: Gift
Advice: Blessings
The path expanded: Breathe

Working with a guidance deck is a lot like working with Tarot, and also has some key differences. Traditional Tarot cards are steeped in rich symbolism offering a whole world within itself for interpretation. It’s true that some modern decks can be put together with far less intention, and this variety of thoughtfulness shows up in other kinds of inspirational and guidance cards as well. In the end, if it speaks to you, it will work for a reading as the energy that a card conjures for you is essentially what you are working with for interpretation.

The Present Moment

These cards speak for themselves, and offer questions and thoughtful ways to guide your own further inquiry. In the first position, this present moment, the path is standing tall. This card offers the color purple, a feather, simple instructions for cultivating presence, and an invitation to remember that life is a gift. Purple as well as the symbolism of the feather are related to the Third Eye chakra: Lightness, intuition, wisdom. The message of the card is to stay present and grounded, yet there is a deeper invitation to bring your higher Self here to this moment. Being grounded doesn’t mean slouching in place, it is Tadasana practice, it’s bringing your head and your heart and your feet together in one moment. The negative self speak that disguises itself as “realism” isn’t grounded; that’s your small voice. Your big voice sees the gift in every moment and stands tall even in the challenges.

Advice

The second card continues this message in blue, the color of communication. “These are the BLESSINGS that are touching me today.” Your advice is to keep counting all of the blessings around you. What are your thought loops communicating to you? What world are you creating in your mind? Meditate and use your practice to work with your mind so that you can have choice in your vision. Everyone suffers a negative outlook sometimes, when you realize you are stuck seeing the world in a harmful way this is the moment that you have the chance to make a change. Keep looking towards the beauty, the helpers, the things that make you feel good; even in the most difficult moments we all have something to be grateful for and gratitude is a transformative emotion. Gratitude is a choice that changes you for the better.

Path Expanded

The path expands like practice. “Place hands on heart. BREATHE. Feel grounded and safe. This is how I quiet my body. This is how I steady my system.” Red, the root chakra, sends you back to the ground and to yourself. In the end, the practice is simple, and also life long. You are grounded when you are the master of your mind and yourself. Sit, breathe, repeat; forever. This space offers you the opportunity to see yourself more clearly, every time. To redirect and soothe yourself, cultivate contentment and understanding from the wealth of wisdom that you already possess. To access it you simply must quiet your mind and steer yourself towards wisdom and knowing rather than the constant chatter of the fear based ego. You are the ground and you are the path. This leads you to the understanding of this as a lifelong practice.

April Tarot for Yogis (originally published on Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

Spring has almost sprung! It’s getting easier to believe that the cold is actually over, and it’s time to clean house. In the astrological calendar, spring marks the beginning of the year. This season is associated with transformation, renewal, resurrection, and rebirth. These themes predate modern religion and related holidays; it is the Earth that was the first to offer this theme. Throughout human history, we’ve been continually revived by those first crocuses and green buds appearing on trees. This powerful time of transformation offers you an opportunity for serious growth in the direction of your choosing. As such, I asked the Tarot this month where should we look for support.

In honor of spring I chose the gorgeous Ostara Tarot deck created by artists Molly Applejohn, Eden Cooke, Krista Gibbard, and Julia Iredale. This deck was designed to honor spring and the goddess Ostara, the Germanic goddess of the season. Ostara is associated with Neopaganism, though she was likely historically worshipped before then as well. Much evidence of pre-historical goddesses has been destroyed by conquering kingdoms throughout the centuries.

I purchased this deck recently; I tend to charge a new deck before I use it for readings. For me, this means spending time meditating with the deck, shuffling, looking at the cards, and reading whatever materials are provided. It’s an opportunity to “break in” your new tool and form a two-way connection.

This month I used a top-down pyramid spread with the first card representing our advice. The bottom left card symbolizes the unseen, unconscious energy present. The bottom right card is the conscious manifestation, where we feel the most supported. Creating a spread is an opportunity to be very specific with the Tarot and receive a clearer reading. For me, this really only works if I have assigned my intended meanings to the card placements before I pull the cards. My experience is that deciphering the meaning after the fact can lead to more “negotiating” with yourself over what you want the reading to say… Which can make it too easy to overlook the advice presented.

Subconscious manifestation: Strength reversed
Conscious manifestation: The Star reversed
Ultimate advice? The Five of Coins

The Ostara Tarot is a good example of a deck that is based on the Rider Waite but has taken many liberties. The artwork for each card does have rich and intentional symbolism, and for this reason the meanings of each card can deviate from the traditional meanings in some ways. My Grandmother insisted that you should use the meanings provided with each deck. I only partially agree, but in the case of this reading that’s what I’m doing.


Subconscious Manifestation

The Strength card here is reversed. Rather than a classical lion, we see a young woman with cities on her shoulders, night on the left, and day on the right. She is holding a glowing heart gently in one hand and stroking the head of a dragon in the other. Her expression is serene and she is wearing an eye patch. This wise woman has been through war and found her calm. She represents a balance of Yin, the Moon, night, feminity and Yang, the Sun, masculinity, daylight. Seeing this card reversed tells a different story.

This is a warning and a question. When the world turns upside down do you keep your calm? Your own self-confidence is what supports your subconscious mind. Without it, your emotional self feels unsafe and you become weak. This is Tadasana practice. Forget any of the fancy tricks, learn how to stand on your own two feet. For the wise this is a lifelong practice. Without it the foundation of every other pose is cracked.

Conscious Manifestation

The Star is also reversed—in this case representing boredom and the dulling of the creative mind. It is a suggestion to step outside of the mundane and monotonous routines you may have built. A cozy routine helps you survive the winter, but it is time to give yourself a little push in a new direction. Change doesn’t have to be dramatic; try a yoga teacher who is new to you, explore a new style of yoga or movement, make time for a long walk through a not-often visited area of your neighborhood. This card is also a reminder that creativity is supported by the mundane. If you want to be good at drawing, draw. Commitment is more powerful than inspiration. Keep steady through boring times, and you will find inspiration again. Balancing postures will help you remember what’s important by creating harmony and focus in your mind.

Ultimate Advice

The Five of Coins offers final advice, a naked woman wrapped in a thin cloth and a serpent. A frosty winter scene, this card also shows a glowing pink window with five illuminated coins. This woman has come to refuge, the Five of Coins suggests that support in a time of need will come from your community. The woman can also be seen as one who has refused the help of others and now suffers due to her own pride.

Support from others can look like many things. If you see yourself as weak for accepting help you will only find yourself weaker. It is the generosity and support of those around you that makes you strong. Meditation will clear your mind to give you insight on who, what and when to reach out to others. Life is a balance, remember that you are needed as much as you need and be generous with your own help this month. We are all strongest together.

March Tarot for Yogis (originally published on Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

Winter is the time for deep internal transformation. It’s a powerful time when you are asked to look inward and strengthen your emotional and mental self. While it is a great time for a fiery and sweaty physical practice, it serves to remember that the aim of intense physical practice is to bring aid you in settling down for meditation and introspection (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana).

Whatever you hold in your heart through the winter will become your bounty in the seasons to follow, so be a snake and shed your skin this month. March is quite powerful as it’s the last bit of winter and the beginning of sweet spring. As such, I asked the deck this month: “What is holding us back from transformation? What is the way forward?”

Our deck this month is the Claude Burdel, 1751, a variation of the Tarot de Marseilles. While the Rider-Waite-Smith deck is considered classical at this point, and it’s certainly widely used and recognized as the Tarot deck, the Tarot de Marseilles predates it by over 150 years. While the game of tarot originated in the fourth century, the Tarot de Marseilles is the first deck released for the purpose of divination in 1709. A few decades later, master card maker Claude Burdel released this version in Frigourg, Switzerland. The particular deck I have is a limited edition run of the Claude Burdel, 1751 Tarot released in 2015.

This month I used a different spread, one I improvised for this reading but exists in many variations among readers. It’s a basic inverted triangle with the first card representing the main answer to your reading. Subsequent cards give further information. I drew one card to represent what holds us back, and then two sets of cards to represent possible outcomes, one where we successfully transform/shed this energy and one where we do not.

What holds you back? The High Priestess reversed
Outcome of transformation: The Ace of Cups and the Page of Coins
Outcome of holding on: The Ace of Wands and the Lovers reversed

Looking Back

This is really a great reading to contemplate this month, and it could not be more indicative of personal power. In the first position “La Papesse,” the High Priestess, is reversed. The High Priestess represents several aspects of femininity as classically defined in Yoga, think Yin. She is passive, deep, and turned inward. The High Priestess moves from intuition and a steady connection to Self. Reversed as it is here, the card represents a loss of the self. A disconnect, often through the opposite of introspection. This is a clear warning that external seeking is a mistake right now.

The reversed High Priestess is far too concerned what others think. She wants approval from people around her and is never satisfied, even when she receives it. There’s a fire to her searching as well, a restlessness. While the winter time is a great time for heat building practices like Vinyasa, this month Restorative and Yin Yoga styles will empower you. It’s a great time to try a sound journey or group meditation class.

Outcome of Going Forward

Two outcomes lie before you: One in which you nourish and support yourself and prepare to blossom in the spring; and one where your fire burns out your passions and partnerships. (Gulp!) On the right we find the Ace of Cups and the Page of Coins and on the left the Ace of Wands and the Lovers reversed. Interesting to note that the Ace of Cups and the Ace of Wands are in opposite positions in this reading and these two cards are also in many ways opposite from each other. The Ace of Cups is the power of femininity and water while the Ace of Wands is masculine and fire. It’s remarkable to see them in this reading, representing your motus operandi in these two different scenarios.

The Ace of Cups appears with the Page of Coins, a sturdy backbone, hard worker and a somewhat mystical being who is enthralled in his work. The Page of Coins is glad of the work itself and his commitment carries him through the difficult or mundane, just as how the effort of your practice is meant to be with you moment to moment. Use joyful effort to greet both familiar and unfamiliar obstacles in your yoga practice. The Page cards are sometimes represented as Princesses in other decks and in contrast with the Knight, the Page is a softer side of the suit represented. In this case the Coins suit represents Earth element, abundance and financial gain as well as success and in the case of this card, a kind of satisfaction. This outcome is saying that turning inward and using a soft, heart centered approach will help you bloom abundantly this spring.

Outcome of Dwelling

On the other hand, the Ace of Wands is coupled with the Lovers, reversed. There is a continued trend here of seeing cards from the previous month’s reading (despite different decks each month), so the Lovers is a repeat from February. You may remember that the Lovers is a card that also represents commitment, typically of a romantic nature and it can also include any type of partnership or object of devotion. To see it reversed indicates an imbalance, relationships gone awry, coupled with the Ace of Wands the source of the trouble right now is forceful will, too much fire, too much passion, a heat that burns out and burns things up.

Have you ever had the experience of practicing Sun Salutations while you are really angry? I have experienced myself become more and more agitated as I continue these repetitive heat building postures. I remember speeding up more and more, my breath louder and louder, if I had walked out of the room at that moment I may have snapped someone’s head off for getting in my way. This is one of the ways that introspection in your practice can be a cathartic experience. I did not walk off of my mat in anger, I continued through Warriors, balances, long seated postures, a supported Savasana. I released my anger that day and found sweet rest by surrendering and accessing the High Priestess within me.

Your ability to be with yourself is powerful, use these next few weeks to enjoy introspection and spend the best quality time with yourself. Yes, it will be the best thing for the valuable relationships in your life, and more importantly, it will be the best thing for you.

February Tarot for Yogis (originally posted to Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

There has always been something mystical about the month of February. The only month with 28 days and the one in which we dedicate a holiday to love, it is the last full month of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. This February, for our monthly Tarot for Yogis forecast, I asked for advice for how to keep going if the winter slog hits during this otherwise magical month.

This month’s deck is the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, also called the Rider deck. Rider is the original publisher of this deck, and esteemed occultist Arthur Edward Waite directed the illustrations. Interesting to note here is the backstory of unsung illustrator Pamela Colman Smith, a woman of color with Jamaican ancestry who was born into an aristocratic New York family. The deck originally appeared in 1910. Today it is the ubiquitous Tarot familiar to people with even only a burgeoning interest in the subject. You will find it called many combinations of Rider-Waite-Smith, and you can also find many more modern artistic decks inspired by this old faithful. (Like the Fenestra Tarot I used last month).

To me, this is actually a newer deck. While I was thrilled to learn Tarot from my Grammy, Aunties, and Mother over the years, my secret rebellion was to choose my own deck that none of them used. (Though I wanted nothing to do with the ever popular Rider-Waite deck until after adolescence, I now hold a great appreciation for the rich symbolism of this deck and the ones it has inspired.

This three card spread is the same as last month. The first card symbolizes what lies behind us, the middle card is our current place and time, and the third card represents advice for what lies ahead. Remember, a three card spread can be used for nearly any reading you’d like as long as you are clear about the representation of each place before you pull your cards. Meditate on the specific place as you draw each card. For example, as I pulled the Lovers card (which I pulled first), I thought “Where are we now?”

What’s behind you? The Six of Pentacles
Where are you now? The Lovers
What’s before you? The Star

Looking Back

The Six of Pentacles is in the past position and I’m not surprised the Tarot is being playful. This card was in the future position of our January reading—there’s obvious symbolism here beyond the meaning of the card. What once was the future is now the past, the Wheel of Life is always turning and taking action is important because today’s future is tomorrow’s past. Learn your lessons and move on, yogis!

If you remember, the Six of Pentacles is a complex card which represents generosity and charity (service, seva), and also the relationship between those who have and those who have not. The classical depiction of this card seen here makes it clear that there is a great difference between the man giving out the coins and the ones who ask for it. It’s hard not to see political and economic implications in this card. In this reading, however, the card seems to take on additional significance. Looking at the card from a spiritual sense and referencing our January reading, the man holding the coins is a judge. His scale represents discernment and balance itself. He can also represent Abundance personified, and sharing with the one who knows how to ask and receive.

What is your relationship with abundance? Do you pursue opportunities that will help you achieve your goals? What I see in this reading is a backbone, a past supporting you with a foundation of receptivity. Ask for what you need and what you want, bring your intentions to the mat. Find discipline, devote yourself to rituals that serve your greater purpose, and increase your receptivity like yoga, herbal tea, bubble baths, and meditation. This could be a good time to meditate with mantra that represents your desire or intention. These practices support you on your way forward.

The Here and Now

The Lovers take center stage this month (an appropriate nod to Valentine’s Day). Yet this card is not only about love and romance. The Lovers represent balance of opposites, commitment, relationships of all natures, co-operation and growing together. In today’s world the Lovers might well represent the partner your launching a start-up with as much as your romantic interest. Where are you committed right now? What are you building in your life, and with whom? These questions are important as we begin the month to let you know where your work needs to be done.

Balance means that you’re not only focused on what you want and need out of these partnerships. Are your partner’s needs met? Do they feel heard? Being receptive is a real theme right now. Important to consider, given the rich symbolism of this card: While both members of this couple are standing in front of a tree, the one behind the man is burning and barren while the one behind the woman bears fruit (and a serpent, another rich symbol which can point to abundance and transformation).

Just as in yoga, masculine energy is associated with the sun, with rational over emotion, and the element of fire. This card represents a time when being passive and, yes, receptive, is the more abundant path. Focus on how you practice Savasana, practice soaking in the experience. It’s not about fixing the pose and making it perfect, just absorbing the place and time you’re in. This could be a great month to take some Restorative yoga classes.

Facing Forward

Finally, a wonderful future outlook. The Star depicts a peaceful scene, an unencumbered figure who is not collecting water to conserve, but is actually playing in the water. There is no need to conserve, there’s trust in abundance. You’ll notice that both of the figures in the foreground of the Lovers as well as the figure in the Star are all naked. This represents innocence and also a freedom. The Star is someone who has been through difficulty, felt loss and struggle, and has found their peace.

This month, the path to this freedom and inner peace is truly through listening before acting. Practice Ujjayi breathing to balance your throat chakra and cultivate ease in communication. Be reflective in your practice, be in partnership with yourself as well as others and be less forceful with your own will this month. Your best opportunities may arise through others. This is the month to enjoy your community, your kula, your tribe. Receive the gifts they have to offer, and celebrate the cultivation of your own abundance.

why I still collected eclipse water

On this past Saturday evening as I tidied my apartment and put my work away, I looked out my window to see a slow rain. I leave a pot on my fire escape (I’m the top floor) to collect rain water for my beloved plants. This evening I realized the Full Blood Moon Eclipse would be the next day. (pictured above and captured by my talented cousin Jesse Martinez)

Without any hesitation, I dumped the rainwater that had been collecting into a mason jar for my plant babies and set the container out anew to harvest this gift of rain water charged with the energy of the coming moon. It rained through Sunday afternoon and I collected a large jar of this water. Quite pleased.

Later this day I saw a lot of warnings floating around the Instagram witch community I follow. Essentially, “I wouldn’t want to drink or bathe in eclipse water! This is not good water for setting an intention or purifying!”

While still respecting these witches and their practices, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Especially after seeing it shared by a few people who I recognize as quite new to the practice. At the same time I was amused, I also feel a little bit badly for these practitioners who seem to blindly follow social media for their spiritual practice.

Let me explain further, and explain a couple of things ::

  • Full Moon water/New Moon water/Eclipse water actually refer specifically to water placed in a cauldron or other container and left out under the night sky to be charged with the energy of the moon. The distinction being that this was rainwater, which I consider a gift as it falls pure and I believe carrying the charge of the Moon when within the day before or after a Full or New Moon.
  • You may find varying information about the uses of this water, I would say that Full Moon Water is purifying while New Moon Water would be better to set and seal an intention although I would also substitute one for the other in a ritual.

This brings me to remind you that it’s truly the symbolic meaning that you assign to any object which gives it that meaning. Magick is an energetic practice and the stronger your relationship to your own subtle body the greater ability you will have to work in conjunction with the Moon’s energy towards your purpose.

Finally, I do understand the online opinions I saw regarding eclipse water. An eclipse does have a very different energy than a traditional Full Moon. Eclipses reveal things, they have darker energy, the energy of secrecy and also with this particular moon the energy of a closing cycle. Personally I can think of many reasons to use this water in ritual. Rather than share my own reasons with you, I’d like to honor the energy of secrecy and instead invite you to consider your own purposes for this water.

My practice follows the opinion that there is great power in secrecy. My practice is personal to me, I am so lucky to have a matriarchal lineage of practitioners that I can speak with for guidance and I do share my practice within my family. As keeping my spirituality personal is so important to me, I do not share much of it in yoga although to me they are linked. I have had a few students who seek this kind of guidance and I will offer it although I have not had a serious student of witchcraft. I’m open to this in the future but any student interested in this would have to be quite dedicated and motivated independently as well as I firmly believe the only way in to this kind of practice is through intense self-study and reflection with guidance from trusted sources.

I am happy to be sharing Tarot monthly via Wanderlust Journal and plan these posts to be both a reading as well as some useful information for those wishing to learn to read Tarot.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic in the comments below. Are you interested in this material? Do you have a relationship to magickal practice? Comment below or shoot me an email!

January Tarot for Yogis (originally posted to Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

Yoga is an ancient practice for self-examination, as is meditation. With origins as a card game that became a tool for divination and self examination in the 15th century, the roots of the tarot are comparatively modern. Occultists from this time and since have incorporated all three practices in ritual practice. Today, there are hundreds of different decks relating to all manner of interests, and tarot is widely used as a tool for insight. In my personal practice, I use tarot readings to guide my reflection, my meditations, and my home yoga practice as well as my teaching to the public. I take these reflections to my mat to help bring even deeper insight and lead me on my spiritual path.

January is named for Janus the god of doorways. It’s a powerful time of year to set an intention and decide what you will nurture throughout the coming months. It’s a time to evaluate growth, and nourish yourself in a way that’s consistent with your goals as well as your needs. Our first tarot reading of the year offers advice for seekers in 2019.

I performed this reading with the beautiful Fenestra Tarot by Chatriya. (It’s based on the classic Rider-Waite deck that will be be more familiar to many practitioners.) My personal connection to this deck is through my grandmother who was my first tarot teacher. I purchased this deck shortly before she died while on my way to visit her and shared it with her; we agreed it was very romantic.

This particular spread is a simple three-card spread. The first card represents the past, the second is the present and the third is the future. You can actually assign any meanings to the three cards in a 3 card spread so long as you are clear on the meaning before you shuffle and pull the cards. This makes it a very useful spread to know and one I often use for shorter 30 minute readings. This Past-Present-Future reading was in answer to the question “What advice do you have for practitioners at the start of 2019?”

What’s behind you? The Magician.
What’s before you? Six of Pentacles.
Where are you now? Ten of Swords (Reversed)

Looking Back

The Magician is in the Past position, representing what’s behind us. He is a symbol of action, skill, wisdom and craft. Do you trust the skills you’ve built to be there for you? Can you remember the efforts of 2018 and feel confident in what you’ve crafted? In practice, this is akin to crossing the threshold to be able to balance on your head or forearms. The journey can be so long and sometimes you won’t see your progress, until suddenly that work amounts to an ease with a pose that was once impossible. Suddenly, you’ve developed a new nature. Even if the image is still unclear, you can still find trust for the efforts you’ve made when they have come from your authentic self.

The Here and Now

In the Present position is the Ten of Swords, and here it’s reversed.* The Ten of Swords is a very unpleasant card symbolizing ruin, pain, sacrifice. Reversed however, the message is quite different. Now is the time of strength and determination. It’s a moment where you have overcome adversity, or you are in the final processes of this difficulty as 2018 closes and the last moon cycle of the year winds down. Strength and determination are typical qualities of Capricorn, and we are in the season of the Ram right now. Call upon your own strength, and trust that the skills you’ve developed (the Magician behind you) are here to support you. Trust in your capabilities, release the story of pain and torment and recognize that all along you’ve been in training and now you are S T R O N G. Use your strength and your skills wisely. Be realistic and gentle with the goals you are setting for your body and your mind this year. Value progress over measuring it and trust that you are already enough. If that headstand still eludes you, trust that showing up and working as you are will get you there; pushing too hard is unwise and unskillful, it often harms more than helps.

Facing Forward

The future looks, complicated, so you will need your steadiness. The Six of Pentacles represents generosity and charity, and the inequality represented between one who has and those who have not. What is your relationship to help? Do you receive it well? Can you ask for it? Can you give help to others wisely? As a student, are you willing to be vulnerable and ask a teacher for guidance where you need it? The wise one knows when to be a beggar and when to be a benefactor. There comes a time when we all must ask for help. Those who don’t know how will suffer greatly in life, and may find that they plateau and lose interest in their goals. The squeaky wheel gets the grease—and there is nothing wrong with being a squeaky wheel sometimes. Give yourself permission to need people. Your kula (tribe) are those who authentically care for you. When you receive help from someone who loves you, it gives you an opportunity to deepen your appreciation and your relationship with that person. Vulnerability is a strength.

There is also a time for you to extend what you have and what you know to others and there is nuance in this. Do you give your money to beggars on the street or a well researched organization with outreach programs? Service (seva) is a step on the path of yoga that enriches your life and your perspective. Consider your commitments to service, where do you feel you’ll have the most impact? On the same note, how does it feel when someone “bestows” unwanted advice on you? A true practitioner is one who knows how to listen.

The best way to practice listening is listening to your own inner voice in meditation. Sit quietly, breathe, hear your thoughts without responding. Give this gift to others as an act of service and support. Unwanted advice may come from a place of good intention but often it feels to the recipient like an ego trip, or perhaps like they haven’t been heard. Knowing when and how to give is what allows you to be truly impactful. Be wise with your aid, do not give where it’s not needed and do not hold back where you are able to help. Complicated right?

This is your task to overcome, and to fall in love with along the way. As the New Year begins, wake yourself from the singular focus of mastering your skills. Master instead the delicate balance of humility and generosity. After all, intentions are a dance—not a one way street. Be easy on yourself as you explore new ways of being and inevitably fall into old patterns sometimes too. The only way to fail your resolution is to stop trying… just like yoga. Ask and offer help wisely and you will find success.

* Card reversals can be controversial, some people use them and some do not. I only recognize reversals if the information provided with the deck mentions them. I like to work with the intentions of the authors and artists who create a deck as well as my own intentions. It works for me.

new moon january 2018

Tuesday offers another New Moon, a cycle beginning. This one is in Capricorn, which is the energy of a boss bitch who will get in your face if you try to resist her way. So, be steady, and be the boss this month. Set your goals and see your future, then go after it. Be gentle on yourself and the people you love, you might feel unsettled right now, just chill out and do something that makes you feel accomplished and happy while you settle down again.

Do yoga that makes you feel steady, standing poses and twists, it can be a good time for binds that will give you structure to work with. Practice Pranayama and Restorative Yoga to stay fully charged so you can accomplish great things during this achievement driven Capricorn time. Prioritize yourself and you will feel important and strong.

Keep Citrine or Pyrite close this month for motivation and cultivating your inner power. Use Hematite or Agate for extra strength and grounding if you need it. Perform an intention setting ritual on Tuesday, take a nice bath, be quiet and receptive even if only for 30 minutes, set a little time apart for yourself.

I get much of my astrological information from my incredible Aunt, Lauren Coleman, who is so wise and has a wonderful way of writing. Check out her post on this New Moon in Capricorn here for more on what this New Moon means.

Keep loving yourself and sending love to the world. We all need it.

xoxo

E