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About the Author Scott Martin has been involved in theater since he was a high school drama student. He pursued his interests in college, earning a BA in Speech and Theater and, in graduate school, an MFA. in Directing. He taught theater and directed plays in high school, community, and regional theaters for 36 years. He studied acting at the Herbert © Britney Young Berghof Studio in New York City. He has also performed and directed in community and regional theaters, summer stock, and the Off-Off Broadway theater. After retiring from full-time teaching in 2002, he pursued his fascination with the tarot. His studies began at the Tarot School with Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone. He has also studied with Rachel Pollack, Ellen Goldberg, Elinor Greenberg, Robert Place, and Mary Greer. Recently, he has worked as a mentor for theater teachers at the New York City Department of Education. He has also mentored graduate student teachers of theater at City College of New York.
Llewellyn Publications Woodbury, Minnesota
Copyright Information Bringing the Tarot to Life: Embody the Cards Through Creative Exploration © 2017 by Scott Martin. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Llewellyn Publications, except in the form of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. As the purchaser of this e-book, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. The text may not be otherwise reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or recorded on any other storage device in any form or by any means. Any unauthorized usage of the text without express written permission of the publisher is a violation of the author’s copyright and is illegal and punishable by law. First e-book edition © 2017 E-book ISBN: 9780738752860 Book design by Bob Gaul Cover design by Ellen Lawson Cover illustration by Chris Beatrice Editing by Aaron Lawrence Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot by Barbara Moore and Eugene Smith © 2014 Llewellyn Publications Llewellyn Publications is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Martin, Scott, author. Title: Bringing the tarot to life: embody the cards through creative exploration / Scott Martin. Description: First edition. | Woodbury, Minnesota : Llewellyn Publications,  Identifiers: LCCN 2016054413 (print) | LCCN 2017006450 (ebook) | ISBN
9780738752624 | ISBN 9780738752860 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Tarot. | Acting. | Drama. Classification: LCC BF1879.T2 M363 2017 (print) | LCC BF1879.T2 (ebook) | DDC 133.3/2424—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016054413 Llewellyn Publications does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business arrangements between our authors and the public. Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific reference will continue or be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to current author websites. Llewellyn Publications Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive Woodbury, MN 55125 www.llewellyn.com Manufactured in the United States of America
Dedicated to Sasha Graham, whose belief in me inspired this book
Contents Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction Book Sections
Section One: Journaling Exercises Intuition and Creativity Personality Inventory Tarot Card Questionnaire Cast the Deck I Am What I Do Tarot’s Magic If Owning the Cards Animal Exercise All the World’s a Tarot Deck Changing the Where Costuming the Card The Voice of an Object in Tarot The Name Game Tarot Stars in the Revival Conflict, Objective, Obstacle, Tactic, Resolution A Piece of Advice Past, Present, Future Suit the Subject: A Tarot Storyboard Defining Moment A Secret Revealed Tarot Symphony: Opus Number 78 Tarot Free Writing
Iconic Characters on Stage and in Film Want to Know Please Take Your Seat A Commencement Speech It Takes a Village: A Tarot Eulogy
Section Two: Tarot Theater Games Introduction to Theater Games Group Introduction: The Fool’s Traveling Companions Twenty Questions Mirror, Mirror Crossing the Line: Group Mirror The Tarot Detective A Lump of Clay Creating a Card’s Vocal Sound and Movement Tableau One Tableau Two Tarot’s A Cappella Chorus The Machine of Tarot Show Me Who I Am Tell Me Who I Am Character-Driven Plot Stage the Card Dueling Tarot The Interview Creating an Event Tarot Poetry Show and Tell Object Metamorphosis A Tall Tarot Tale Topical Topics Tarot Improvisation Face-Off In the Manner of the Card
Private Moment Pantomime 1-6-6-1 The Interrogation: “Person of Interest” A Perfect Match The Majors: Face to Face Tarot in the Park Press Conference
Section Three: Tarot Card Meanings Tarot Card Meanings: Introduction The Major Arcana The Minor Arcana Conclusion
y thanks go first and foremost to my tarot teachers. I was initially introduced to the study of tarot by Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone at the Tarot School in New York City. Not only did I gain a wealth of knowledge during my ten years there, but I was also introduced to others in the tarot community, many of whom have become my valued friends. After I read Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, I, like many before me, called it the “Tarot Bible.” I never imagined at the time that I would meet this great lady, study with her, and count her among my friends. She has deepened my understanding of tarot immeasurably with her 360 degrees of wisdom! I continued my exploration of tarot and later the subject of palmistry with Ellen Goldberg in her cozy apartment on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village. My understanding of the Golden Dawn and the Kabbalah were illuminated by her expertise in teaching those correspondences to the tarot. It has been my good fortune to participate in tarot workshops led by Robert Place. It was he who first made me aware of the importance of the relative position and direction of the figures on the cards. I am also a great admirer of the tarot decks that he has created, particularly his Alchemical deck.
Even though we live on opposite ends of the continent, my appreciation of the tarot is richer as a result of Mary Greer’s astounding knowledge and expertise in looking at the tarot in unique and creative ways. One only has to read her 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card to appreciate her inventive contributions to the art of cartomancy. I was fortunate to attend classes she team-taught with Rachel Pollack, as well as her presentations on numerous occasions at the Readers Studio, a tarot convention, which is held each year in New York City. Dr. Elinor Greenberg, psychologist and gestalt therapy trainer, has been a wellspring of inspiration, both in her small group seminars, as well as the occasions when she presented at the Readers Studio. She has shared techniques that have given greater breadth and meaning to my readings. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Viola Spolin, whose Improvisation for the Theater: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques inspired a number of the theater games in this book. I was introduced to these games as a student of theater. They later served as a basis for the theater courses I taught in New York City high schools for thirty-six years. I am forever grateful to Mr. James Lewis Casaday, my drama teacher at Central High School in South Bend, Indiana. It is due to his influence that I developed a love for theater and pursued it as a career. And, of course, without my background in theater, the concept for this book would never have occurred to me. A number of my friends along the way have provided invaluable feedback by reading the early drafts of this book and providing their astute feedback. They are Lauren Fein, Catherine Kelly, John Kelly, Rory Schwartz, Paul Quinn, author of Tarot for Life, and Michael Galluzzo at Remsen Graphics, Brooklyn, NY.
I would like to extend a special thanks to my dear friend Marie Pauwels for her selfless generosity, her keen insights, and her love of language, which have enhanced this book in incalculable ways. And, finally, one posthumous acknowledgment: When I was teaching playwriting at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, New York, one of our honored guests was Wendy Wasserstein, who wrote The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig, and others. A student of mine asked her, “When do you know your play is finished?” Her response: “It’s never finished; there’s just a point when you have to get it out of the house.” So, recalling that sage piece of advice, I’m getting it out of the house! —Scott Martin
s a writer, I have always been in awe of actors—their level of craft, their dedication to learning. Because of a foolish idea that writing can’t be taught, many writers have to stumble along and discover things for themselves. I used to teach writing (in an MFA program), and it’s fascinating to me to realize that what worked best with my students was often the same kind of approach that Scott Martin uses here, which is to say, games. I would give my students assignments based on a challenge—write a story with no conflict, write a story from the point of view of someone you despise. And sometimes we would use tarot, either making up stories inspired by a few cards, or doing a reading for a fictional character (both Scott and I have done readings for Hamlet!). And I have played simple games in tarot workshops, in particular recruiting people from the class to stage a scene from a card (for example, the Rider Six of Pentacles, which shows a merchant doling out coins to a pair of beggars), and then letting them take it from there. But Scott has a big advantage over most of us who struggle to come up with games—he has spent his life teaching acting, so he can draw on that incredible tradition. Since theater classes are by their nature group activities, some of the games in this book involve a group of people, most of whom have a basic knowledge of the
cards (though his short, precise interpretations of each card will help the beginner get up to speed). One interesting exception to the group actions is Scott’s approach to journaling. Because actors so often prepare for a role by imagining the character outside the script, Scott’s journal ideas include ways to stretch our sense of the card beyond the picture—and certainly beyond any official “meaning.” He suggests we might ask what a tarot figure’s pet peeve might be or where she or he might go on vacation. As I read these ideas, it struck me that it might be a wonderful approach for beginners, or people working with a new deck, to do these sorts of journal interrogations before they actually read whatever book has come with the deck. I also thought how this would be a great way to work with Court cards, those families of Page, Knight, Queen, and King that so many people find hard to interpret. When we ask something like “Did the Queen of Swords have a happy childhood?” or “What school did she go to?” we are not just making things up, we are interrogating the picture. But of course we are really interrogating ourselves, elaborating on a vague unformed sense of what this figure is about. In various branches of the arts people will take classes, as well as practice, all their lives. In, say, dance and music, they do this to perfect their craft and technique. Actors do something different. They attempt to get out of their own (or the writer’s, or director’s) conceptualization of a character through the wonderful kinds of games Scott has so brilliantly adapted to tarot. With Scott’s ideas the deck can become alive beyond the printed image. Tarot works so well with this approach because it began its life as a game (the ancestor of Bridge, the game of tarot is still played around the world). Not a set of doctrines and symbolic teachings, or even a tool for divination—these things did not come until the end of
the 18th century, a good three hundred years after the cards’ invention. And unlike a book, the tarot can be shuffled, the cards rearranged, without plan or even looking—to reveal new possibilities. Remembering that tarot began its life as a game liberates us to explore it, to experiment, to play with it. Thinking of it as theater opens up new directions as well. Scott describes the deck as “a script with a very large cast.” Or perhaps we might call it a pool of seventy-eight actors, and when we do a reading with, say, seven or ten cards, we do a kind of blind casting, letting that number of actors step forward at random. Scott’s long career in teaching theater is one side of the unique background he brings to this book. Another is his dedication and intense training in tarot itself. He has studied the cards on many levels, with some of New York’s best teachers, and occasionally, when I’m lucky, in some of my own workshops. I love it when Scott attends, first because it’s just a delight to see him, but also because I know I can ask something like, “Scott, what is the Golden Dawn esoteric title for the Six of Swords?” and I know he will have the answer. This book is a treasure for anyone wishing to go beyond official book meanings of the cards and truly bring them to life. I congratulate Scott, but also all those who follow his lead and learn to explore the cards in such creative and playful ways. —Rachel Pollack, author, poet, and artist
or years, some of my friends in the tarot community encouraged me to write a book on tarot. I couldn’t imagine having anything to say that hadn’t already been said, so I never pursued it. Then I had a conversation with Sasha Graham, author of Tarot Diva, 365 Tarot Spreads, and 365 Tarot Spells, who recommended that I think about what I know and love, and combine it with tarot. With that thought in mind, an idea was born. I do know about the theater, and I love the theater. As an actor and theater teacher, I learned to explore character through text analysis, historical research, backstory, improvisation, theater games, observation, scene study, The Method, and more. It struck me that just as an actor delves into his character, so a student of tarot can explore the archetypes that are represented in the seventy-eight cards in the tarot. He can develop his intuitive abilities by participating in the written and performance exercises an actor uses to hone his talent and to create his role in a play. As a student of tarot, I was not interested in the cards as a tool for fortune telling, but rather as an instrument for life coaching through the lens of psychology. This marrying of tarot to theater made even more sense to me from that perspective. Psychology is the study of human behavior; theater is the illumination of that behavior by representing it on stage. The common thread that runs through both
the theater and tarot is the exploration of the human condition in terms of what we want in life (objectives), what gets in our way of achieving it (conflict or obstacle), and what we may attempt to finally obtain it (tactics). Paul Foster Case became interested in tarot in 1900 when someone asked him where he thought playing cards came from. This led him to becoming one of the early members of the Golden Dawn. He went on to write The Tarot and founded B.O.T.A. (Builders of the Adytum). Prior to that, he was actively involved in the theater. He was the musical director on a showboat and later worked in musical theater and vaudeville. It was he who said, “The tarot is a book, disguised as a pack of cards.” It might also be said that the tarot is a script with a very large cast, which has taken life within the theater of cartomancy. So what is the “book” or “script” about? It is about us and everyone else who has ever lived. The seventy-eight cards are active in each of us at one time or another. Sometimes, we see ourselves in a particular card. At other times we see people we know, possibly the querent at a reading or those associated with the querent. Each aspect of who we are expresses itself from that particular card’s point of view. So, with that in mind, whatever card is drawn is the “right card.” If one is asking the tarot about dealing with stress, the Four of Cups may advise him to take a time-out and try meditation, while the Five of Wands may recommend working off stress by engaging in some vigorous physical activity.
ection One of the book contains written exercises that an actor may engage in when analyzing his character. Those are best recorded and kept in a journal format for future reference. Section Two is populated with theater games. Both the journaling exercises and the theater games are designed to breathe life into the cards, to get into their hearts and souls and lift them off the stock on which they are printed. This is the kind of work an actor does when he creates his character from the pages of a script. A convenient reference of some standard meanings is provided in Section Three of this book. It should be helpful when working with some of the written and performing exercises. The Llewellyn Classic Tarot deck is the one that will be referenced throughout the book. However, any pictured deck may be substituted if that is your preference. A deck that is familiar to all members of the group is recommended for the theater games. The Llewellyn Classic Tarot deck was inspired by The Rider-WaiteSmith Tarot (RWS) deck, whose illustrations were designed by Pamela Colman Smith. There’s actually an interesting connection between the RWS deck and the theater. Pamela Colman Smith, the illustrator of this iconic deck, was also a set designer for the theater. It has been suggested that because of the theater’s influence, Miss Smith designed some cards that have come to be known as “stage
cards.” We know that the stage is a place of illusion, of heightened reality. She may have meant to imply in these particular cards that what appears to be reality from that card’s perspective is really only an illusion. Let’s take the Nine of Wands, for example. The figure holding a wand with his head bandaged seems to be standing on a stage and girded for battle. One way of interpreting this card is one who remains vigilant and defensive against a supposed enemy who is no longer a threat. Therefore, the “stage card” may be saying, “The enemy is only an illusion. It’s okay now to lower your guard.” Bringing the Tarot to Life is not a book about acting. On the other hand, if theater is part of your experience, this book is also meant for you. In fact, a person with a theater background may be a good choice to serve as a facilitator for some of the theater games Section Two. It is my intention to open up new and creative ways of understanding and enjoying tarot through the medium of theater. It is to that end that I have written this book. This book is not only for students of the tarot who have some familiarity with the cards, but for those who are new to the study of tarot as well. So, with that said, class is in session. Tarot goes to acting school!
Section One Journaling Exercises
Intuition and Creativity
efore launching into the journaling activities and theater games that follow, let’s explore intuition and creativity and how they can serve as keys to unlocking deeper levels of meanings in the cards and in readings. Since the Renaissance, when tarot evolved from a card game to a tool for divination, more and more ways to interpret the cards have emerged. We can now consider, among other things, the teachings of the Golden Dawn, the cards’ astrological attributions, how they fit onto the Kabalistic Tree of Life, number symbolism, their elemental correspondences, their associations with alchemy, and more. Yet, with this entire arsenal at our disposal, there is a general consensus among tarot readers that a good intuitive reading trumps them all, or, at the very least, enhances a reading in a way that scholarly learning alone does not. The burning question then becomes, “How does one develop one’s intuition?” One obvious answer is to expose the mind to more creative and imaginative ways of thinking and looking at the world. Creativity and intuition are inextricably linked. One only has to Google “intuition + creativity” to become deluged with a host of articles on just that topic. This doesn’t mean we should discount any of the traditional, triedand-true approaches to tarot interpretation. They work and provide
structure to a reading. However, if you are also an intuitive reader, you are able to enhance everything your left brain knows about the cards and bring a richer, deeper interpretation to your readings. The exercises that follow in this book tap into that creative, imaginative source. They are designed to unlock the intuitive, rightbrain kind of thinking and to encourage you to trust and use your intuition to probe the deeper and boundless mysteries that the cards are prepared to offer. The journaling exercises can be done on your own or shared in a group setting. The theater games work best in small groups, with one member sometimes serving as the facilitator. This book then can be tailored to individual work, an ongoing tarot class, or a larger group setting, such as a tarot conference. In the tarot community to which I belong, we enjoy getting together informally from time to time in our homes to share our tarot-related experiences. It might be a book, a new spread, a deck that inspires us, or insights gained from a recent reading. This kind of gettogether would be another opportunity to try out some of the material in Bringing the Tarot to Life.
heater students complete an inventory much like the one that follows, whether they are preparing for a role in a play or a character from a scene in an acting class. Its purpose is to fill in the blanks that the playwright leaves for the actor to imagine. Carefully considering each one of them begins the process of the actor getting to know his character in greater depth. The same investigation can be successful for a student of tarot in discovering certain aspects of the cards that might otherwise go unnoticed. Choose a card from the deck, either one randomly or one of particular interest, and answer the following questions. If there is more than one figure, choose one that most typifies the meaning you assign to the card. If there is no figure, as in the Eight of Wands or one of the four aces, consider the suit’s energy, its number, and imagine a character that would embody those traits. The more specific you make your choices, the more alive the card will become for you. The questions address the card as you, and you will answer in the voice of the card. • Age? • Ethnicity? • Physical appearance?
• Dress? • Identifying facial features? • A typical physical mannerism (i.e., limp, twitch)? • Body language (open vs. closed, arms folded, legs crossed)? • Gait? (long strides, brisk, short steps, etc.) • Posture? (erect, slumped) • Vocal characteristics? (pitch, volume, rate, force, quality—i.e., nasal, twang, resonant, shrill) • Beliefs? (religious or otherwise) • Sexual orientation? • Romance life? • Requirements in a relationship? • Marital status? • Family background? • Economic status? • Education? • Political affiliations? • Social clubs? • Social strata, place in the community? • Occupation? • Personal ambitions? • Hobbies, amusements? • Favorite book, movie, play, song? • Ideal vacation? • Really good at __________? • Health? • Morality? • Temperament? • What makes you happy, sad, angry, or depressed? • Frustrations?
• Complexes? • Fears that keep you from __________? • Worries? • Major obstacles? • Unique personality peculiarities? • Pet peeve? • Dominant emotion expressed? • Self-image? • Perception by others? • What would you change about yourself? • What’s the last thing you were most proud of? • Chief disappointments? • Guilt about? • Regrets? • An animal you are most like? (Explain.) • A defining moment as: (1) a child, (2) an adolescent, (3) an adult. What advice would the adult give the child and the adolescent? • Person most admired? • Secret desire? • If given three wishes? • One change in your life yet to be made? • Greatest disappointment? • What do you want? Why do you want it, and why do you want it now? (Sense of urgency) What’s next if you get it? What happens if you don’t get it? Now that you have answered these questions, choose the most pertinent responses and include them in a brief autobiographical essay of approximately five hundred words.
Go back to this exercise as often as you like, choose another card, and repeat the process. With certain cards, only a few of the questions may be relevant to your inquiry.
Tarot Card Questionnaire
hoose a card from the deck, either randomly or one that you’ve selected, and imagine how the figure in that card would answer the following questions. A different card was chosen in each question for the sake of example. However, only one card should be chosen at a time when doing this exercise. Choose the best answer for each question. There is no right or wrong answer and there may be more than one. Simply justify your choice to yourself or a partner. Keep in mind that any card can answer any question from that card’s point of view. 1 . When Strength makes a decision, she is __________. a . clear-headed b . uncertain c . quiet but sure d . weak-willed 2 . When the Nine of Swords gives directions, he is __________. a . forceful
b . hesitant c . overly aggressive d . timid 3 . When people’s opinions differ from the Emperor, he is __________. a . prejudiced b . broad-minded c . trusting d . suspicious 4 . The Eight of Cups is __________ toward the people he knows well. a . loving b . cold c . generous d . withdrawn 5 . When the Moon talks about herself, she is __________. a . boastful
b . modest c . honest d . overbearing 6 . When the Devil goes to work or school, he is __________. a . competent b . excellent c . efficient d . manipulative 7 . The Four of Cups clothing is __________. a . fashionable b . out of style c . ill-fitting d . ostentatious 8 . The Hanged Man walks __________. a . quickly b . slowly
c . with a shuffle d . with a limp 9 . When the Queen of Wands sits, she __________. a . slouches b . sits straight-backed c . sits cross-legged d . leans forward 10 . When no one is looking, the Seven of Sword’s facial expression is __________. a . tense b . angry c . puzzled d . happy 11 . When the Chariot argues with someone, he __________. a . shouts b . strikes out
c . gets sarcastic d . goes silent 12 . The Seven of Cups is most often __________. a . honest b . a habitual liar c . deceptive d . half-truthful 13 . The Sun knows herself __________. a . very well b . rather well c . not at all, only thinks she does d . not at all 14 . The Tower’s physical condition is __________. a . excellent b . good c . fair
d . poor 15 . Given the news of a likely fatal illness, the Eight of Swords __________. a . becomes morbidly depressed b . rallies her strengths c . give up d . ends her life Did you have any “aha” moments as you worked on this exercise? Enter them in your journal.
Cast the Deck
ost of the cards in a tarot deck have parallels to stock characters or types in the theater. In this exercise, work with the character cards. If there is more than one character in the card, choose one. Go through your deck and identify as many cards as possible that are more likely to be protagonists (Hero, “The Good Guy”) and antagonists (Villain, “The Bad Guy”). Divide the cards into three stacks: the good guys, the bad guys, and those you could not identify as either. Go through each stack and see how many cards you can identify as the: • Leading Man • Leading Lady • Anti-Hero • Ingénue (“The Girl Next Door”) • Juvenile (“The Boy Next Door”) • Femme Fatale • Cad • Character Man (usually an older man in a supporting role) • Character Lady (usually an older woman in a supporting role) • Soubrette (a young, flirtatious, and sexy female) • Nerd
• Bully • Clown • Fool • Braggart • Miser • Clever and Cunning Servant • Martyr • Loner • Charismatic Leader • Dictator • Tough Guy • Wise Guy • Sidekick • Spinster • Crone • Mamma’s Boy • Damsel in Distress • Bimbo • Fop • Hag • Absent-Minded Professor • Brute • Bad Boy • Battle-Axe • Grande Dame • Jock • Shrew • Macho Man • The Darling • Snob
Explain your casting choices. Keep this list in your journal so you can continue adding to it as other casting types occur to you. Note: Any of the stock characters or types listed here could also, in various scenarios, be a protagonist or an antagonist or fit into more than one category.
I Am What I Do
any people in life, as well as characters in plays, define themselves to a great extent in terms of what they do. Rather than Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am,” for them it is “I do, therefore I am.” By extension, “If I do nothing, I am nothing.” With a well-mixed deck, lay out the cards one at a time; write down the name of the card in a vertical column on the left-hand side of the page, and next to it write a profession that you think would best suit that card. Do this for all seventy-eight cards. This exercise may require more than one session to complete. Once you’ve assigned one profession for each card, go back and brainstorm. Add as many more professions as come to mind. You may consult the list of meanings in Section Three of this book for more ideas.
Examples Of course, the possibilities are virtually limitless: The Ten of Pentacles: a family counselor The Five of Swords: a crooked hedge fund manager The Knight of Cups: a poet The Magician: a motivational speaker The Ace of Wands: an entrepreneur
How did assigning professions to a card inform the meaning of the card? Did this exercise add to how you might view this card if it came up in a reading? Explain.
Tarot’s Magic If
ne of the acting techniques of the Stanislavski Method is known as the “Magic If.” This approach is based on the notion that an actor has to rely on his imagination when his character has done something or felt something that is out of his own range of experience. In order to create a fully three-dimensional and believable character, the actor must go beyond what is provided in the script. The classic example is the actor whose character murders someone. Presumably, the actor has not committed a murder—well, all right, John Wilkes Booth—but in all likelihood, the actor would have to find another way to relate to this experience. This is where the “Magic If” comes into play: “How would I feel if I murdered someone?” He might begin with what it feels like to “murder” a fly that has persistently been annoying him all morning, waking him up, creeping across his lips, and buzzing around his ears. Just swatting the detestable creature away in hopes that it will go away and stay away is no longer an option. Now, the fly must die! The actor takes this emotion and builds upon it until he can imagine what it might be like to take the life of another human being. This same technique can be useful in tarot when imagining how a figure in a card might react under extraordinary circumstances. That is, after all, what most drama is about: how does an ordinary
character react under extraordinary circumstances? Likewise, people who come for a tarot reading are often coming because of something out of the ordinary in their lives for which they are seeking clarity or resolution. So put the cast of characters in a tarot deck to the test. Select a card, meditate on what the card means to you; refer to the meanings provided in Section Three and then ask the question: “How would __________ (name of card) react if he/she: a . was faced with an unwanted pregnancy. b . was told his partner was cheating. c . won the lottery. d . got lost while driving. e . was found guilty of stealing. f. was denied a deserved raise. g . was fired from a job. h . lost custody of a child. i. saw an animal being abused. j. found his home destroyed by fire. k . had to file for bankruptcy. l. became embroiled in a bitter divorce or breakup.
m . was betrayed by a close friend. n . became blind. o . received a love note from a secret admirer. p . had been told by a partner that he/she is no longer attractive. q . lost a limb. r. found a lost child at the mall. s . had been given a court summons to testify against a close friend. t. witnessed a mugging. u . became stuck in an elevator alone. v . had to spend the night in the airport due to weather conditions. w . was falsely accused of a crime. x . found a wallet with identification, containing $500. y . was asked to give a speech at a wedding reception, retirement party, business meeting, and the like. z . was rejected by family or friends based on lifestyle choices. This is only a suggested list. You may add to the list as you continue to explore how a given card might react under circumstances that are beyond the normal realm of its experience. Do this with as many
cards as your time and interest allow, and record your entries in your journal.
Owning the Cards
ne way of identifying with each of the seventy-eight cards in the tarot deck is to use a modified version of an actor’s technique called emotional recall, or sense memory. This method, created by Stanislavski, goes to the heart of Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio approach to acting. Simply stated, the actor recalls a personal experience that evokes an emotional response analogous to his character’s experience in the play. The result is a more believable sense of emotional truth. In this journaling exercise, make a list of all seventy-eight cards down the left-hand column of a page. Leave space between each card for notes, composed of a sentence or two. Shuffle your deck so that it is in no particular order. First, go through the entire deck and determine how many cards you can identify as your “public self” and which ones you more associated with your “private self.” Place PB by those cards that are aspects of the self you are generally comfortable sharing with others publically and a PVT next to those cards that are reserved for the private you and perhaps a few of your intimates. Next, go through the deck again, in no particular order, and recall a personal experience and an accompanying emotional memory that
that card evokes. Jot it down next to the card. You may ask yourself the questions, “How am I now or how have I ever been the __________?” Star, for example. “How did I feel?” “What did I do?” This may be an exercise that you come back to from time to time. Initially you may draw a blank with some cards. However, as you revisit the exercise, other memories are sure to surface. For those who have expressed a desire to make their deck more personally meaningful, this exercise should move you along in that direction. Record your insights in your journal and add to them as you revisit this exercise.
uite often actors will observe an animal’s behavior when they’re creating a role in order to focus on the physical life of the part they’re playing. For example, a young Lee J. Cobb famously observed elephants when he was working on the role of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman; he wanted to imagine what it would be like to have the “weight of the world on his shoulders.” Marlon Brando, on the other hand, while in rehearsal for A Streetcar Named Desire, moved like an ape to study the brutal manners of Stanley Kowalski. In an animal exercise, the actor is instructed to notice the animal’s posture, its movement, why it moves the way it does, what it could possibly be thinking, and so on. Once the actor has completed these observations, the actor begins moving like the animal and imitating its movements. Ultimately, the actor selectively adapts and integrates these animal qualities into the human life of his character. In a similar way, students of tarot can gain additional insight into the cards by doing animal observations. In this exercise, go through your tarot deck and pull out the cards that remind you of an animal in some way. List the qualities you see in this card that could be analogous to animal behavior. Follow this
by observing this animal either in a zoo, online, in nature shows on television, or wherever you can observe this animal in action. It could even be the family pet! Make notes detailing the animal’s behavior. Compare your sets of notes and determine if actually observing the animal gave you other ways of viewing this card and enhancing its meaning. Take the Strength card for instance. Agreed, that’s an obvious choice because there is actually an animal illustrated in the card. However, while watching an animal habitat show on TV where people are allowed to pet the big cats, I thought, “What’s keeping this lion from turning around and making a meal out of that ‘intruder’?” Then my thoughts wandered back to the lion in the Strength card. One of the meanings of this card has to do with control. Building on that, I came to the realization that one cannot be controlled if he knows his own strength. The lion in Strength is surrendering control by choice. Give it a try and see what animals might teach you about the tarot cards, and record your insights in your journal.
All the World’s a Tarot Deck
bservation is a tool an actor uses in developing a character in a play. When he cannot relate fully to the role from his own experience, he observes people in life who are more like the character in certain ways than he is. For example, when I directed a production of The Boys Next Door, a play about four mentally challenged men living in supervised housing, the cast and I visited a day care center in Brooklyn for mentally challenged adults. We not only observed, but we also participated in activities with them for the day. We would have benefited from more time there; however, this interaction brought a kind of authenticity to the roles the actors were playing that might otherwise have been reduced to stereotypes. Similarly, we can experience another level of meaning to the figures in the tarot by observing people in life, noting specific behaviors, and associating them with particular cards. For this exercise, find a place where you can unobtrusively observe people going about their daily lives. It should be a place where you can observe for at least ten to fifteen minutes within the same location. Perhaps it is at the beach, on public transportation, in a park, or at a playground. Choose someone whose behavior attracts your attention. If it is not convenient to take notes, make mental
notes and write them down later. Record several qualities which motivated you to choose this particular person: distinct gestures, clothing, body language, personality, walk, the way he talks, the way he interacts with others, and so on. Based on these observations, what do you imagine about his family? His occupation? His selfimage? What drives him? Would you like to get to know him any better? Why or why not? It is important to avoid looking for someone who reminds you of a tarot card. Rather, develop as full and detailed a three-dimensional description of this person as possible. After you’ve completed your notes, ask yourself if a character from the tarot comes to mind; perhaps you thought of the Queen of Pentacles. Make a list of meanings you have come to associate with the Queen of Pentacles; refer to the list of meanings for that card in Section Three of this book. Compare it to the notes you made from your observation. Do they enhance the meaning of this card for you? Do you view the card in a way that you may not have considered prior to working with this exercise? Enter your reflections in your journal. This technique may assist you in making stronger associations between people in life and the rather static depiction of characters drawn on a tarot card. Repeat this exercise whenever it suits you, and notice that all the world truly is represented in the seventy-eight cards of a tarot deck.
Changing the Where
here we are affects how we behave, regardless of who we are. This applies to our personal lives and, by extension, characters in plays and people illustrated on the tarot cards. Most of the figure cards in a tarot deck are in a familiar setting, whether they are comfortable there or not. When we are in a familiar environment, we generally know how to behave based on our past experience. We are in control; we are often where we want to be. But one might say, “Really? The Ten of Wands is comfortable?” Well, yes, in a way, he is. He may feel that unless he does it all, it won’t be done “right.” One may also ask, “Is the Seven of Cups really vacillating among his options?” Perhaps not. Haven’t you noticed that those who seem to have a number of choices available to them are unable, or unwilling, to make one? It may be his or her way of relinquishing control and thereby shifting the responsibility to someone else: “I can’t make up my mind; you decide.” In this exercise, take the cards out of their customary environment, and observe how they might behave differently in another setting. Go through the deck and select ten cards that call out to you.
Make a chart with three columns. In column one, write the name of the card. In column two, write a phrase or two, stating the kind of behavior you would expect from the figure in that card in its traditional setting. In column three, change the setting to one that is in stark contrast to the setting illustrated and briefly describe how the behavior changes. Does this mean that you’re changing the meaning of the card? Not at all. You are exploring an additional meaning that can be just as valid. If we exude confidence as the host of our own party and then become a fly on the wall at someone else’s, have we changed? No. We’re the same person; we are behaving in another way, because the environment and our role in it have changed.
Change of Environment/Behavior
at work: in charge, decisive
at home with spouse: relinquishes authority, indifferent
In both settings, the issue of authority is the subject and in both settings, the behavior is believable, given the circumstances. By changing the setting, other possibilities might occur that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Enter your responses to this exercise in your journal.
Costuming the Card
he people illustrated in the Llewellyn Classic Tarot deck are dressed in period clothing. Some may find identifying with these figures difficult because they are so removed from modern times. Imagine that they are contemporaries wearing costumes. If they changed out of them, what would their street clothes look like? In the theater, for example, we know that period plays are sometimes done in modern dress, in part to make the play more accessible to today’s audience. For instance, Shakespeare’s Hamlet was produced on Broadway starring Jude Law; the actors were costumed in what appeared to be ordinary rehearsal clothing of the day. In this exercise, choose ten or more cards from the deck that you would like to “make over.” If you have some artistic ability, you may draw your own “costume plates,” as they are called. When I was in a costume class in graduate school, I had to design a show a week. I was not an artist by any means, so I used paper dolls to trace the body silhouettes. And then, from my research, I drew clothing on top of the forms and colored them. You could also peruse magazines, newspapers, the Internet, or the like and find clothing that you think would be the modern equivalent
for the character in the card. You might even cut out pieces of clothing from various pictures from print and put them together as an ensemble by pasting them onto a body shape. Once you have completed the costume, write a brief explanation supporting your choices and enter them in your journal. How is this new look true to the traditional meaning of the card? How has it enhanced the card’s meaning for you?
The Voice of an Object in Tarot
he illustrations in tarot depict not only human figures, but many objects as well.
Choose an object in a card, either one you’ve selected or at random, and give it a voice. 1 . What is the significance of the object to the figure in the card? 2 . If the object could speak, what would it say to the figure? 3 . What is the most important piece of information the object needs to say about itself? 4 . Take a look at the Seven of Pentacles, and focus on the hoe. a . Yes, it’s a tool for tilling the soil, but at this moment, it is also supporting the farmer’s weight and keeping him balanced. b . What do you know about the card that would suggest that the hoe is what this farmer needs right now? c . Does the hoe accept its role of aid and support gladly, or could it feel taken advantage of and unappreciated?
Based on these questions, write a monologue in the first person from the object’s point of view. Did this exercise expand your understanding of this card and its meaning? Explain. Go back to this exercise from time to time and repeat it with other cards in the deck.
The Name Game
ctors will often adopt character or personality traits of a friend or well- known personality and integrate them into the fabric of a role they are playing. In a similar way, a tarot student may associate a card with a person well known or not, living or dead, in order to better understand the meaning of the card. Through personification, this can be done just as well with non-figure cards, such as the aces, as it can with any other card. This process may be particularly useful when approaching those elusive court cards. Quite often, when the tarot community engages in a discussion about the cards that most challenge their understanding, it is the court cards to which they are referring. In this exercise, make three vertical columns. In column one, list all seventy-eight cards in order. In column two, write the name of the person that reminds you of that card, and in column three, list a few qualities that card and the person share. Do this for all of the cards with which you are able to make associations. This exercise can enhance the traditional meanings you have for the cards; it can provide a quick snapshot of the card when you are experiencing a block. It may also bring to mind a more contemporary
image of the card, transferring it from a centuries-old setting to a modern one, and therefore making it more available. For example, when I think of the King of Wands, my mind immediately goes to President Bill Clinton. Reading a list of that card’s meanings, I don’t see one that I could not apply to him. So, that connection cues me right into the card. You, of course, will have your own correspondences. It is unlikely that this exercise will be completed in one sitting. In fact, it will probably be more useful if it evolves over a period of time. Keep a record of your work in this exercise in your journal and add to it as you go along.
Tarot Stars in the Revival
elect a play, a movie, a TV show, or even a book with which you are familiar and make a list of the main characters. You are the casting director. Choose a tarot card to “play” each of the characters. To illustrate this exercise, let’s consider the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz and the four main characters: Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man. They are all on their personal journey of discovery. Dorothy: Perhaps Dorothy is the Fool on the Fool’s Journey. At the end of her journey, she discovers that “there’s no place like home.” The Cowardly Lion: The Eight of Swords. He thinks himself a coward, but finds that he was imbued with courage after all. Like the Eight of Swords, he possessed what he needed all along but was held back by his lack of self-confidence and belief in himself. The Scarecrow: He is indecisive and confused because he thinks he lacks a brain. In his search for a brain, he may be represented by the Eight of Cups, who is also on a quest for what he thinks is missing. By story’s end, we discover that the Scarecrow was deemed “the wisest man in all of Oz”! The Tin Man: This touchingly vulnerable character wishes he had a heart. Perhaps he doesn’t notice it because he has always been in
the service of others. Let’s cast this gentle soul as the Six of Cups, which epitomizes that generously giving spirit. Choose your own vehicle now, and cast from the pool of seventyeight “actors” who have arrived for the audition. List your cast of characters, the “actors” you have cast in the roles, explain your choices, and log them into your journal.
Conflict, Objective, Obstacle, Tactic, Resolution
onflict—a problem or issue that needs clarity. Objective—what you want. (Objectives should always be phrased using a positive action verb.) I want _________, never I don’t want; the objective should not be expressed as a state of being, as in I want to be _________. (There is no action in state of being.) The objective as stated should lead one toward action.
For example: I want to acquire more land so that my wealth will increase. Not: I don’t want to settle with what I currently possess, and not: I want to be wealthier. Drawing on a classic example from the movie Grand Hotel, Greta Garbo famously said, “I want to be alone.” This stated desire did not give her behavior to accomplish that end. She might rather have said, “I want you to leave now!” Obstacle—what gets in the way of achieving the objective. Tactics—attempts made to eliminate the obstacle in order to achieve the objective. Resolution—the final result of the conflict. These terms form the basis for what drives the character through the play and frames his strategies in reaching his ultimate goal.
What is the strongest motivating factor that drives all of us in our lives and, by extension, characters in plays and people that populate the tarot? It is an objective followed by tactics used in an attempt to achieve that objective.
Exercise Select two cards from the deck, either randomly or of your choosing. For this example, let’s look at the Fool and the man in the Four of Cups.
Four of Cups
Imagine what the Fool wants from the man in the Four of Cups, and what could the man in the Four of Cups want from the Fool? Conflict Two friends want to spend the summer together before heading off to college in the fall, but each has a different idea of how that would look.
Objective The Fool: “I want to go backpacking through Europe with you for a month.” Four of Cups: “I want you to stay home and together we can look for a job this summer.” Obstacle Each man has a different plan about how the summer should be spent together. Tactics The Fool’s tactics: 1 . We’re young; we have the rest of our lives to work. 2 . Are you always going to play it safe? When are you going to take a risk and have a little fun? 3 . Live in the moment, man! Tomorrow guarantees nothing. 4 . I thought we were friends! The Four of Cups tactics: 1 . I can’t afford it. 2 . I’m starting college in the fall. 3 . Traveling sounds boring; I have to find a job to help pay for college. 4 . I need more time to think about it.
Resolution How this plays out depends on how persuasive each can be in achieving his objective. Does the Fool persuade the Four of Cups to travel with him? Does the Four of Cups, along with the Fool, stay home and get a summer job? Using what you know about the nature of each of these cards, continue with a dialogue that comes to a resolution one way or the other. It might begin like this: Fool: You know, I really don’t know why I hang out with you; you never want to do anything fun. Four of Cups: I do fun things; just not always what you want me to do. Fool: Yeah, like what? Four of Cups: I watch TV; I read. I play video games. Fool: Man! I thought we were friends. That’s couch potato stuff. This summer’s our last chance to have some fun before we go off to school. Tell you what: You’re right; we need to get a job, but let’s get a job for half the summer and backpack in Europe for the second half. That way, we’ll have some money to travel and have some fun before burying our noses in those books for four years. Four of Cups: You may be right. Let me think about it. It does sort of sound like it could be fun. Fool: Now you’re talking!
Who do you think achieves his objective? the Fool? the Four of Cups? Both of them? Try this exercise with other cards in the deck and see how they talk to each other. When time is limited, go through the deck and pick out five to ten cards you’d like to explore in terms of objectives (1) and tactics (3). Here is an example: The Hermit’s Objective 1 . I want to connect more authentically with my spiritual life. The Hermit’s Tactics 1 . I will seek out a guru. 2 . I will set aside five minutes a day to meditate. 3 . I will work on eliminating those things in my life that I know are not for my greatest good. How does dialoguing bring greater dimension to the card? Explain in your journal.
A Piece of Advice
n this exercise you are writing a letter requesting advice about a personal matter. Before you write the letter, make the following decisions: 1 . What is the specific nature of the issue about which you are seeking advice? 2 . Select a card that represents the person you think is in the best position to give you advice, and explain why. 3 . Give this person a real name, other than its tarot name. 4 . What is your relationship with this person? advice columnist? relative? friend? partner? therapist? or other? Now that you have articulated the nature of the problem and the kind of advice you are seeking, write the letter in the first person using a traditional letter format. It is time now to switch roles. You are the personification of the card to whom the letter was written. Write a response, again in the first person, giving your advice from the card’s point of view.
How can letter writing be a more intimate way to communicate when you are sharing a personal concern? Enter both letters in your journal. Repeat this exercise from time to time with a different tarot card.
Past, Present, Future
hoose a card with a figure illustrated on it and think of it as a photograph that is capturing a particular moment in time. If there is more than one figure in the card, choose one of them. Let’s look at the Eight of Cups, for example. Past: What led up to this moment in the life of the figure depicted in the card? An actor would call this the backstory. The Golden Dawn’s title for this card is “The Lord of Abandoned Success.” Ask yourself, what was he doing that was successful? Why is he walking away from success? Where was he just before we see him here? Present: What was the catalyst today that prompted him to take action and move on? Does he know where he is going? If so, where? Future: When he gets there, what does he think he will find? How likely is it that it will be more fulfilling than what he left behind? Explain. Chart his journey from the moment he steps out of this frame. If the Eight of Cups came up in a reading, what insights have you gleaned from this exercise that would inform the card’s meaning? Enter your responses in your journal.
Eight of Cups
Go back to this exercise from time to time, choose another card, and use the same approach, creating your own questions appropriate to that particular card.
Suit the Subject: A Tarot Storyboard
n this exercise, you will run a topic through the evolution of a suit, ace through ten, and observe how it may play out.
Here is an example of a relationship that is being put to the test in the suit of wands. Of course, all stories will vary depending on the storyteller’s interpretation. Lay out the cards, the Ace through the Ten of Wands, in a horizontal row. This is your storyboard. You may want to write the story in prose paragraphs or in a list as seen below. Each card will mark a milestone in the journey of this relationship. Alternately, you may wish to shuffle the cards and lay the storyboard down randomly. This approach mirrors events that do not evolve chronologically. Ace of Wands—Two people meet for the first time and sparks fly. Two of Wands—“Love conquers all” turns into “you and me against the world.” Three of Wands—Making plans for the future. Four of Wands—A proposal of marriage is announced soon followed by wedding bells. Five of Wands—The honeymoon is over. The couple discovers that they are incompatible and they then separate.
Six of Wands—The groom enlists in the armed forces. After his tour of duty has ended, he returns home. Reconciliation fails. Seven of Wands—Though he survived the war, he returns with PTSD. He sees everyone as his adversary, including his spouse. Eight of Wands—He has nightmares in which he is the target of enemy artillery. Nine of Wands—His paranoia develops into agoraphobia. Ten of Wands—The marriage dissolves. He is left a homeless veteran. Try the same combination for yourself: relationship + wands. Keep to the generally accepted meanings of the cards. Your perception, creativity, and intuitive approach are what will make your reading stand apart from others. No doubt you will come up with quite a different scenario. Granted, the example above is rather dark. You may spin it quite differently and with a brighter outcome. It may even be a business relationship that you’d like to examine. As you continue to work with this exercise, choose other subjects and tell the story through the suits of swords, cups, and pentacles as well as wands. Keep a record of your storyboards in your journal.
lays are often about a defining moment in a character’s life that requires a change in direction; it may be brought on by an epiphany, a crisis, or some extraordinary circumstance. A querent often comes for a reading to ask questions around a defining moment. He may want to know, “What options are available to me now?” “Which one should I choose?” “What may I expect as an outcome?” This exercise is intended to look at a defining moment in the life of a card about which you have a particular interest. You are placing the character in the card in a hypothetical situation in order to explore how he might react under given circumstances. Choose a card and a defining moment that you want to explore. For example, let’s consider the Magician who is faced with the loss of a child. Choose a card at random that relates to that defining moment. In this case, the Six of Cups was drawn, a card usually associated with pleasant childhood memories, but it takes on much greater weight in this context.
Choose a third card at random that represents the querent after that defining moment. Here, the Ten of Swords came up in that position. The Magician may want to know how he can possibly survive this terrible loss and get on with his life. Write a brief paragraph from the querent’s point of view, in the first person, in which he describes his life before that defining moment; describe the specifics of what happened in that moment and what changes occurred in his life as a result. Do a spread based on the first three suggested questions in paragraph one of this chapter: 1 . What options are available to him now? (Pull 2–3 cards.) 2 . Which one(s) should he consider? (Pull one card for each option and place them below the option cards.) 3 . What may he expect as an outcome? (Pull one card for each option, and place it below the other two in each row.) You now have three rows of three cards in vertical columns. What advice do you recommend as the best option to consider? Explain. You may also choose to create a spread of your own or use one that is tried and true for addressing these kinds of questions. Compare the monologue you wrote to the tarot reading. Explain how effectively you think the reading addressed the concerns of the querent. Enter your observations in your journal, along with the monologue you wrote and the results of the reading.
Come back to this exercise from time to time and repeat it with other cards in order to examine their defining moments.
A Secret Revealed
t is part of the human condition to withhold certain kinds of information about ourselves that we feel would be unsafe if others were privy to them. More often than not, the reason is fear: fear of disapproval, rejection, humiliation, embarrassment, a wrongdoing exposed, or being perceived as weak or a loser. These are only a few examples. Of course, the list is virtually endless. However, we know that what we resist persists. Sometimes, unburdening these pent-up feelings is liberating. Actors know from the script what the characters are saying, but what they are not saying is just as much a part of who they are. One of the actor’s assignments in character analysis is to write a monologue in which the character gets to speak from that place that he has kept hidden. By extension, the same principle can be applied to the figures in a tarot deck. We know what they are saying by our familiarity with the cards’ traditional meanings. In this exercise, it is time to explore what they are not saying, but were it not for their fear, they would want us to know. Choose a card from the deck whose inner secrets you would like to explore. Meditate on the card and imagine what the card has yet to reveal, and write a monologue from that card’s voice. You might
even want to begin by thinking about what you would write if you were writing this monologue about yourself. From time to time, return to this exercise when another card comes to mind, repeat the exercise, and enter it into your journal.
Tarot Symphony: Opus Number 78
ctors often look for character traits in a role they’re playing by listening to the sound of a musical instrument. An actress playing Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf might study a trombone for the aggressive movement of the slide and the blaringly loud sound that it can produce, while another actor portraying Hamlet might be drawn to the oboe for that sad and mournful drone. By the same token, the seventy-eight cards in a tarot “orchestra” might also be compared to musical instruments by the way the card “sounds.” If we think of the personality of an extrovert like the Two of Pentacles, we may be reminded of a saxophone or trumpet, while if we imagine someone stubborn and determined like the Chariot, a bassoon may come to mind, and so on. There are no hard-and-fast rules about these correspondences. A great deal will depend upon your personal response to the sound the instrument makes. The connections you make are relevant and valid in so far as they make sense to you. As you do this exercise, keep in mind that you may associate a number of cards with the same instrument but for different reasons.
Note: Before beginning this exercise, Google the instruments in an orchestra and make a list of them. You may discover instruments that you never knew existed. Make three columns and label them: Column One: Name of Card; Column Two: Name of Instrument; Column Three: Key Word (or words). Key word is the word(s) that connects the card to the instrument.
Example Name of Card
Name of Instrument
Do this for the entire deck or for as many cards as you are drawn to at a given time, and add them to your journal entries. How did making these musical associations contribute to your understanding of the cards?
Tarot Free Writing
ne of the ways an actor awakens his senses is by quietly observing a place in nature and the people who inhabit it.
What follows is an adaptation of that exercise as a means of seeing tarot cards from another perspective. This is a free-writing, stream-of-consciousness exercise. 1 . Select a card and meditate on it. Create a relationship with the card through your senses. a . Notice all the details in the illustrations. b . Bring your awareness to the shapes, the sizes, the colors, the tones, and the textures. c . What mood is the card conveying? Is it cheerful? gloomy? calm? frantic? depressed? d . Imagine the relationship of one feature in the card to another. Do they feel connected? Do they feel separated?
e . What is the speed of the card? Is it fast? slow? plodding? peppy? racing? soaring? sprinting? ambling? f. What sounds do you “hear” in the card? Are they pleasant? strident? shrill? soothing? harsh? g . Can you “taste” the card? Is it sweet? sour? acidic? bitter? h . How does the card “smell”? Is it fragrant? lemony? moldy? fresh? putrid? i. What is the weight of the card? Does it feel heavy? light? dense? ponderous? airy? j. What is the posture of the card? Is it erect? slumped? aggressive? bent over? slouchy? kneeling? reclined? k . Which aspects of this card do you embody? 2 . Now write ten to fifteen lines based on your observations. a . Do not use complete sentences. Use a list of one word or short phrases. Each word or phrase should be written down the center of the page on its own line. b . Make no attempt to put them in any kind of order or even try to make sense of them. c . Avoid the temptation to edit, rewrite, or “improve.” 3 . Now read what you have written. Did you make any discoveries about this card as a result of this exercise? If so, what were they?
4 . If you have done this as part of a group exercise, each member could read what he has written and see if the group can identify the card and discuss the answers. 5 . What you may notice here is that you have written a kind of poem. However, it should never be the intention at the outset to write one.
Example bathed in blood stabbing pain body dying mind racing my fault? last moments dawn breaking? night falling? lost legacy your fault? end This free writing was inspired by the Ten of Swords.
Iconic Characters on Stage and in Film Want to Know
he fate of many iconic characters we’ve come to know through film and theater might never have made it to the silver screen or on the boards if they’d sought out a tarot reader. Create a five-card spread or one of your choosing and give a reading for the following querents: 1 . Henry VIII comes to you and says that he’s had six unsuccessful marriages. He’s now considering a seventh. What should he look for in a prospective mate that would bode well for a successful union? 2 . Superman’s superpowers have finally been zapped by kryptonite, once and for all. (That is, until the next sequel!) He needs to continue serving his community and wants to know how this can best be accomplished. 3 . Hamlet is agonizing over how to avenge his father’s death. He’s considered murdering his uncle and even soliciting actors to reenact the scene of the crime. He is paralyzed by indecisiveness. He’s finally decided to come to a tarot reader for guidance. What should he do?
4 . Dr. Frankenstein thinks he has discovered a way to cheat death. Though he questions the moral and ethical implications, he is ego driven by his obsessive need to be godlike. He wants to know the possible outcomes if he moves forward with his plan or abandons it altogether. 5 . Bonnie Parker has just met Clyde Barrow. He wants her to run away with him. She’s very attracted to him and finds his invitation almost irresistible. Still, she’s a small town girl, living a very conservative lifestyle and questions the advisability of such unconventional behavior. She seeks out a tarot reader for input. If she goes with him, what will her new life look like? Should she stay or should she go? 6 . In the film Fatal Attraction, Dan Gallagher has had a brief affair with Alex Forrest. A one-night stand for him has become a relentless, obsessive pursuit for her. No is not an answer she understands: “I will not be ignored.” Dan has decided to consult a tarot reader to find a way to get her off his back and to end this nonsense. How should he proceed? 7 . Joan of Arc, a simple, peasant girl, has received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine giving her a mandate to support Charles VII and to reclaim France from English domination. What to do? What to do? She goes to a tarot reader. She wants to find out what her life will look like if she ignores these visions and continues living on the farm with her parents. 8 . Blanche, in A Streetcar Named Desire, is between a rock and a hard place. She’s down on her luck, out of money, and has been
publicly disgraced for immoral conduct. She goes to a tarot reader for some sort of clarification concerning her future. She can stay where she is and suffer the continuing social condemnation; move in with her sister, who is married to a brute of a husband; or perhaps consider a third option, which hasn’t yet come to mind. In this case, rather than a five-card spread, create three five-card spreads and arrange them in columns, one column for each option. What’s the best advice a reading can offer Blanche? 9 . Julius Caesar is so exhausted after having his enemy, Pompey, assassinated and then eliminating his two sons that he almost skipped going to the senate. After all, his wife, Calphurnia, had a bad dream about an assassination plot and begged him to stay home. He even ignored the advice of a soothsayer: “Beware the Ides of March.” If there had been a tarot reader around, Caesar might have said, “All right, I don’t believe in any of this nonsense, but my wife and this soothsayer think I shouldn’t go to the senate today.” What do the cards say? 10 . Really? Thelma and Louise had no other choice but to drive off a cliff? They wouldn’t be the first to have gotten away with murder. Or perhaps the poor sap would still be alive and the girls would be sipping mojitos in the Bahamas, if only they had consulted a tarot reader before that fateful day. If they’d come for a reading before this predicament had gotten so far out of hand, what wisdom would the cards have revealed? On the face of it, these examples are rather tongue-in-cheek. However, being privy to possible outcomes can be helpful when you are reading for a querent who is anticipating a certain result and hoping for another. If you have done this kind of reading for a
querent, enter it in your journal and compare it to the spreads you created and the readings you gave for these above.
Please Take Your Seat
ou are attending a movie at a theater by yourself on a typical day in your life. There is open seating. Where do you choose to sit? Do you sit near the front? in the middle? in the rear of the theater? Do you sit at the end of the row or somewhere in the middle? Do you sit near a stranger or as far away as possible? Why do you choose to sit where you do? As you are considering your response, also think in terms of your relationship to space and the spatial “rules” you’ve created about the distance that should exist between yourself and non-intimate others. Once you have answered these questions for yourself, answer them for the following tarot cards. Where do they sit and why? • The Hanged Man • The Knight of Swords • The Three of Wands • Death • The Two of Cups • The Four of Pentacles • The Empress • The Hermit • The Nine of Pentacles • The Moon
When you return to this exercise, choose other cards that you would like to explore in this context. Enter your observations in your journal.
A Commencement Speech
ou have been asked to deliver the commencement speech for the graduating class of either your high school or college alma mater. Personify one of the following tarot cards; determine the backstory of the person who now embodies that card, and write a brief commencement speech from that card’s point of view: • The Ace of Swords • The Knight of Pentacles • The World • The Six of Cups • The Nine of Cups • The Sun • The Eight of Wands • The Devil • The Hierophant • The Queen of Cups As you revisit this exercise, select other cards and see how the content of the speech changes based on the card that is in play. Here are some typical commencement themes you may wish to consider when writing your speech. If they do not seem appropriate
to the card you’ve chosen, create your own: • Follow your bliss. • Trust yourself and take bold steps. • Don’t let others define you. • Dream big. • Persistence pays. • Develop a personal code to live by. • Use mistakes to build a brighter future. • Remember the Golden Rule. • Honor your roots. • Perfection is not a prerequisite for success. In your journal, enter the speeches you’ve written, and note how they compare and contrast based on the speaker’s point of view.
It Takes a Village: A Tarot Eulogy
et’s assume that the seventy-eight cards in a tarot deck represent the inhabitants of a small community, all of whom know each other. This exercise is meant to emphasize the interconnectivity of the cards and how they relate and play off of one another in a reading. Actors have done similar exercises when they are exploring how their lives are inextricably linked to the other characters in a play. A member of the community has passed on, and you have been asked to write and deliver the eulogy. 1 . Randomly choose a card from the deck that will represent the person being eulogized. If it is a card without a figure depicted, like the Ace of Pentacles, for example, think of a person who would best be represented by that card. 2 . Randomly choose a card from the deck that will represent the person chosen to deliver the eulogy. 3 . Let’s say that the person being eulogized turns out to be one of the characters in the Four of Wands and the person delivering the eulogy is the main figure in the Six of Wands. What would the
Six of Wands have to say about the character in the Four of Wands? 4 . Here are some suggestions for writing the eulogy: a . In what context did they know each other? b . Give a brief life history. c . Share important achievements. d . Mention details about their family, friends, work, and hobbies. e . Your favorite memories f. What was he/she passionate about? g . What is his/her legacy? Place the eulogy you have written in your journal. Come back to it from time to time, randomly select two more cards, and repeat the exercise.
Section Two Tarot Theater Games
Introduction to Theater Games
arot is no stranger to the world of games. Tarot’s association with games dates back to the Renaissance. In the fifteenth century, the Italian aristocracy played a card game known as tarocchi appropriati. In this game, the players randomly drew cards for inspiration and made up poems about each other. The modern game of bridge may be an incarnation of one of the earliest tarot decks known as carte da trionfi, or “cards of triumph.” There were four suits in the deck. Essentially, high card wins unless it is trumped. As a learning device, games offer a way to discover and examine information in a fun and interactive way. The dynamic of group work removes the pressure and risk taking away from individual participation and into the safety net of collaborating with fellow players. The outcome is a more creative atmosphere in which to learn and share newly formed insights. When the game format employs role-playing, it can also be an effective tool for delving into personal and psychological issues in transformation workshops and in counseling sessions with life coaches and therapists. In those settings, one can gain profoundly personal insights regarding the recognition and the claiming of one’s
power. This enlightening and life-affirming experience can also be the outcome of a meaningful tarot reading. Dr. Elinor Greenberg introduced a way for her clients to role-play by utilizing the evocative images on the tarot cards; she calls it “Be the Card.” In readings, I use a technique inspired by that approach. The querent is shown a card and asked to describe it objectively; he is then asked to describe it again with his personal interpretation, including any emotional responses he may have; finally he is asked to relate to the card, not as a third person observer, but as himself. Here is an example using the Two of Wands.
Two of Wands
1 . A man is standing on what appears to be the parapet of a castle. He is wearing a red cloak and a green tunic along with brown boots and gloves He is looking out over a landscape. He is holding onto a pole in one hand and a globe in the other. 2 . A man is standing by himself on the parapet of a castle. He seems to be longing for something that is not there. Even if he finds it in his present state, he could do nothing about it. He is
anchored to his possessions: a pole in one hand, the world in the other. 3 . I am alone with my possessions. I want a relationship in my life, but I am afraid to take the risk of losing what I have. I have become an immovable, paralyzed force. I want to be able to let go of what I have, and take that first frightening step into the future. Interacting with the cards in this way can be useful in getting to the heart of the matter rather quickly. Try it for yourself with a partner. Take turns being the querent and the reader; each of you will have a question; it can be a personal question or a hypothetical one; the reader will select a card that suggests to him the heart of the question; he will ask the querent to describe the card, according to the steps outlined above. For example, the Nine of Cups can sometimes be about issues of overeating and weight gain. The question: How can I successfully deal with my issue of overeating? Conclude by sharing insights you may have gleaned from this exercise. This may be the first step in an expanded reading that would continue to explore the querent’s concerns. I hope that this game and the ones that follow will take you in a new direction with the tarot and that while developing your creative and intuitive abilities you will also have fun along the way! Note: Game playing at a party and game playing as an instructional tool are two distinctly different things and should not be confused with each other. Game playing at a party is for fun and entertainment, which is perfectly fine in that setting. However, game
playing for instructional purposes, in order to be meaningful, should be approached primarily as a learning experience. This is not to say it can’t also be fun and entertaining, but that is not the focus. The games that follow are not deck specific, so, for example, if you are embodying the Magician, you are not trying to recreate a specific illustration of the Magician card in your favorite deck. Rather, you are conveying the meaning and the energy of the Magician. So, no matter the deck, those correspondences remain the same.
Group Introduction: The Fool’s Traveling Companions
his game is intended to introduce the players to each other and to associate them with a particular tarot card.
The players sit in a circle so that everyone can see each other easily. A volunteer, or a person selected by a facilitator, begins by saying, “The Fool went on a journey and with him he brought __________.” He then says his first name, a tarot card with which he identifies, and an appropriate physical object or gesture that he associates with that card. (The object need not be one illustrated on the card, and will probably be more interesting if it is not.) Each player should have more than one card in mind in case his is taken before his turn. Cards should not be repeated so that as many cards as possible are in play. For example, the first player might say, “The Fool went on a journey and with him he brought Cristina, the Hermit” (holds up a lantern). The player to her right may say, “The Fool went on a journey and with him he brought Cristina, the Hermit” (repeats Cristina’s gesture) “and Rita, the Nine of Pentacles” (strokes the falcon). Then James, to Rita’s right, may continue with “The Fool went on a journey and with him he brought Cristina, the Hermit” (repeats Cristina’s gesture), “Rita, the 9 of Pentacles (repeats Rita’s
gesture), and James, the Magician,” (arms on a diagonal) and so on, moving right around the circle. Again, besides learning the players’ names, this is also an interesting way to reveal each player’s personal connection with the card he chose. Perhaps, even more importantly, it develops listening skills so essential for a conscientious reader. After the first go around, a few of the first players may volunteer to repeat the first names of each member in the group.
Reflection Ask yourself why you think the players chose a particular card. Do you see that card in them? Why or why not? Do they project qualities that you would not have associated with that card? Could you consider that as another possible way of interpreting that card? Open the exercise up to discussion. Ask questions. Make comments. Give feedback, always in the context of respecting the boundaries of each player.
ost of us have played this game at one time or another at a party. The name of a famous person is taped to our backs; we guess who the person is by asking a series of questions which can only be answered by a yes or a no. In this version, each player picks a tarot card at random from the deck. Once everyone has his card, the players pair off and decide who is “A” and who is “B.” “A” will begin asking questions about the card that “B” is holding as though he is that card. Neither player reveals his card until the round of questions has ended. Questions should not be asked about the suit, the number, the arcana, or anything depicted in the card. For example, Player A might ask this question about the card Player B is holding: “Would it be easy to get to know me?” or “Would I come to you seeking advice?” If, after approximately 20 questions, the card has not been guessed, reveal it. “B” will now ask questions about the card that “A” is holding. This game is particularly effective as a warm-up when a new group is forming.
Discuss with your partner any new meanings that may have occurred to you about the two cards in play. If you think your insights may interest the group, take time to share them at the end of the exercise. Open the feedback to discussion.
ne of the qualities of a good reader is to really look at the card in all its detail rather than simply taking a “snapshot.” This exercise will encourage that kind of keen observation. It will also focus on how the card might move if brought to life. One of the players should be chosen as a facilitator for this exercise. Each player will go to the same deck and select a card. Turn the card facedown next to the deck and keep it in mind. These will be the cards in play later in the exercise. The facilitator will instruct the group to mill around the room, and at his signal, the players will stand opposite a partner and freeze. (If there is an odd number, the facilitator will become a player.)
Warm-Up: Change Three Things The facilitator will give these instructions: 1 . Face your partner and for one minute observe his appearance carefully: clothing, hair, jewelry, and so on. 2 . Now turn your back to your partner and make three subtle changes in your appearance (e.g., unbutton a button, untie a
shoe, take off an earring, change the hole your belt is in, untuck the back of your shirt). 3 . Face your partner and, in turn, share the changes you noticed. If your partner missed one, tell him now. 4 . The powers of observation that you just exercised will now be called upon in Mirror, Mirror. The facilitator will tell the players to decide who will initiate the exercise as the image in the mirror. Communicate this non-verbally. The player who initiates the exercise will begin moving as the spirit of the card he chose inspires him. His partner will mirror the movements, including facial expressions. At no time should an actual pose on the card be mimicked. Eye contact should be maintained throughout. The movements should be simple so that they are easy to mirror. For example, think, “How would the Devil move if he were dancing in slow motion?” The exercise will continue until the facilitator says “switch.” There should be a smooth transition into the other card, which might be the Ten of Swords. (That would be a real challenge! But remember, the spirit of the card is being mirrored, not the exact moment captured in the picture.) This exchange between the two cards may continue for several rounds, signaled by the facilitator’s prompt “switch.” So in this example, the players are going back and forth between the Devil and the Ten of Swords. When the facilitator says “freeze,” one player, who volunteers to begin, will tell his partner the card he thinks was being mirrored.
Then, his partner will do the same. A few minutes should be allowed for the partners to engage in a conversation about the experience.
Reflection The facilitator will ask volunteers to share in the large group. The primary questions posed might be “Who would like to share what insights were gained by participating in this exercise?” “What new awareness did animating the card and seeing it move bring to those insights?” “Why is observation so key to a good tarot reading?”
Crossing the Line: Group Mirror
he players are divided in half on opposite sides of the room and facing each other. A line, either made with chalk, masking tape, or the like, is placed equidistantly between the two groups of players. Each player will have a tarot card in mind, either that he has drawn from a tarot deck or given to him by the facilitator. One player will leave his line, making a repetitive movement and a vocal sound (no language) that represents that card to him. Do not attempt to duplicate any image that is illustrated in the card. This should be an abstract and creative interpretation of the card; the movement and sound should also be simple and easily mirrored. As he approaches the players opposite him and crosses the centerline, they will begin mirroring him. He will move up and down the line until one player from that group, who may think he recognizes the card, steps out of the line, mirroring his movement. He may have a different card in mind; that’s okay. Player 1 will join that group and their mirroring will stop. The player who has left the line will continue the same movement and sound until he crosses the line. At that point, he will change the movement and sound to the card he has chosen to represent. When he crosses the line, the players he is
approaching will begin mirroring and so forth until all players have ended up on opposite sides of the room.
Reflection What was your card and what prompted you to make the choices you did? Which cards did you think you recognized based on other players’ choices? Did this exercise inform a particular card in a way that you hadn’t considered? How did adding a vocal sound contribute to the meaning that the player was trying to convey?
The Tarot Detective
A member of the group volunteers to leave the room. He is “the detective.” In his absence, another member volunteers to be the leader and will start the action before the detective reenters. The group will decide on the card that the leader will embody. Think of him as an undercover agent conducting a convert operation. The detective returns and stands in the center of the circle where he must remain throughout the exercise. It will be his job to identify the agent and the card that he is embodying. It is the job of the agent, along with the group, to keep the agent’s identity from being discovered by the detective. The agent will choose a series of movements that can be done while seated. All the other players will mirror what he is doing. The group will keep their eyes on the agent as inconspicuously as possible. The agent will change the action frequently. If he’s really bold, he might even change the action while the detective is looking right at him. Here are some examples that might be executed when embodying the Star: (These gestures are repeated until changed to the next action.) 1 . Tap chest alternately and gently with fists (healthy, feeling great).
2 . Move hands, palms down, from center of body to either side (calm). 3 . Recline slightly, legs extended, ankles crossed, accompanied by a pleasant sigh and thumbs up (all’s right with the world). 4 . Extend arms and legs in an open position (nothing to hide). 5 . Place hands in the Buddhist mudra position (tip of index fingers touching tip of thumbs, meditation). 6 . Place fingers together, then open hands quickly and spread fingers like stars in the sky (a time to shine). 7 . Makes offering with hands moving from heart chakra out to the world (giving without restraint). 8 . Pantomime painting with a brush and an easel (creativity, the arts). 9 . Closing your eyes and cross index and middle fingers on both hands (hope, making a wish). 10 . Flex biceps (strength). The detective will carefully observe the group in his attempt to identify the agent and the card he is embodying. After a series of actions, he may wager a guess. If he is correct on both, the round is over. If he is incorrect on one or both, he may observe the group as they execute another set of actions. He will be given a final guess. At
that point, if the agent and the card have not been identified, they will be revealed.
Repeat the activity by bringing new cards into play and two new volunteers.
Reflection In addition to exercising what you know about the cards, how does this develop a keener sense of observation and concentration? How are these qualities helpful in giving an effective reading?
A Lump of Clay
his exercise begins as a nonverbal activity that employs the art of pantomime.
The players will sit in a circle, but before they do, they will randomly select a tarot card from a facedown deck and keep it in mind. There should be a discard pile next to the deck so that no two players choose the same card. One player will volunteer to begin the exercise. He will have an imaginary lump of clay in front of him. He will mold it into an object that he associates with the tarot card he has chosen, and then he will use it as that object. The object need not be one illustrated on the card. Once he has used the object, he will pass it to the player on his right. That player will accept the object and, inspired by its shape and size, use it as something else; he will then return the object to the lump of clay and mold it into an object appropriate to the tarot card he has chosen, pass it to the player on his right, and so on around the circle. For example, the first player may have chosen Strength. She could shape the clay into a rope, form it into a lemniscate, and place it above her head. She will then pass the lemniscate to the player to her right, who may take it and handle it like a slinky. He will then form
it once again into a lump of clay. The card he chose may have been the Two of Wands, so he decides to form the clay into a ball, suggesting the globe that the character is holding in his right hand. He passes it to a player on his right who may take it and blow it up into a balloon. Note: All pantomime activity should be confined to the seats in which the players are sitting. Getting up and moving about the room will slow down the momentum of the game.
Reflection At the end of the round, the players will share their thoughts about which cards they thought were in play. At this point, each player will reveal his card to the group. A discussion follows in which members of the group will share their responses. Did this exercise prompt you to expand your views about the tarot cards in play? How and why? How can this kind of creative play open up new possibilities of interpreting tarot cards in general? Explain.
Creating a Card’s Vocal Sound and Movement
his exercise is a scaled-down version of Crossing the Line. Creating a Card’s Vocal Sound and Movement is more suited for a smaller group. In this exercise you will convey the meaning of a card with one gesture (not one pictured in the card) and an accompanying vocal sound. After you have chosen a card from a facedown deck, keep it in mind, put it aside, and stand in a circle. One player will volunteer to begin. He will face the player to his right and execute the sound and gesture of the card he chose. That player to his right will mirror it back to him. Then, player 2 will turn to the player to his right and perform the sound and gesture for his card; player 3 will mirror it, and so on around the circle. The focus here is to think creatively and imaginatively about the essential meaning of a card from each player’s own perception and the guesses that it evokes from the other players. There are no wrong answers. Therefore, the concern should not be on making
obvious choices, but rather on making choices that go to the heart of the card from each player’s perspective.
Reflection At the end of the game, feedback will follow. A few volunteers will share the cards they thought they saw, beginning with the player who initiated the exercise. Once the round of guesses is complete, the players will reveal their cards to their fellow players. A discussion might include the variety of responses that were given for the same card. Players may wish to share any new insights that were gained about a particular card and explain them to the group.
he purpose of this game is to create living pictures inspired by the cards in the tarot.
The first player, with a card in mind, will come to the playing area and strike a pose that the card suggests to him. The pose should not attempt to mimic the exact picture in the card, but rather the meaning that the card suggests to the player. Other players will join the tableau one at a time as they think they recognize the card until the facilitator thinks it is complete and says “freeze.” The tableau may end quite differently than the first player intended, and that is okay. The idea is to tap into the creative imagination of the players. This is a very valuable tool for a reader who reaches beyond the traditional meanings that are commonly associated with the cards. A player may choose to represent with his body not only human figures but also animals, objects, or atmospheres, like the smothering darkness in the Nine of Swords, or the bright and shiny radiance of the Sun. Repeat the exercise as often as time allows.
The tableau should remain frozen while members of the group are sharing their interpretations. Who thinks he knows what player 1 had in mind? What suggested that to you? A number of audience members should respond before player 1 reveals his card. The players in the tableau may now come out of the freeze. Player 1, what card was it? What was your reaction as other players joined the tableau? Of the remaining players, what card did you think you were representing when you joined the tableau? Why? Did the final tableau represent a card other than the one player 1 chose to begin the exercise? Explain. How did the exercise open up possibly new ways of looking at the card?
n this exercise the players will work non-verbally in groups of three at a time. The other players will observe until it is their turn.
The players will walk randomly in the playing area until the facilitator calls out the name of a card or a one-word meaning described below in the key word alternative. The facilitator will then slowly count “1, 2, 3,” during which time the players will create a tableau of that card; the facilitator then says “freeze.” After the pose is struck, the facilitator will say “unfreeze;” the players will break out of the pose as the facilitator calls out another card, counts “1, 2, 3,” and says “freeze” again. The players will strike the pose of that card, and so on with three more cards, which the facilitator calls into play, for a total of five cards. Those players will then leave the playing area; three more players will repeat the exercise with different cards until all players who wish have participated. Keep in mind that a player may choose to represent animals, objects, or atmospheres with his body, as well as human figures. The frozen pose does not necessarily have to capture the illustration of any particular deck. A spontaneous recreation of the card may lend itself to greater insights.
Here is an example of how the exercise may look with one group of three players and their first two cards: The facilitator calls out a card, “the Four of Cups,” and counts “1, 2, 3.” One player may become the figure sitting; the second player transforms into the tree behind him, while the third player positions himself as the extended hand holding the cup. The facilitator says “unfreeze.” He then calls out “the Chariot” and counts “1, 2, 3.” The players form a new tableau. Two players may crouch on the floor and suggest a tug of war with an imaginary rope, while the third player may stand behind them, arms extended far apart, and then bring facing palms to the center of his body, as if to bring the other two players into alignment. The facilitator says “unfreeze,” and so on.
Key Word Alternative As an alternative to calling out the name of a card, the facilitator may call out one key word that taps into the meaning of the card: Instead of the Four of Cups, he might say “boredom,” or for the Chariot, he may say “control.” The group would then guess the card through word association. A list of key words for each card should be prepared in advance for this exercise. Reference the meanings in Section Three for ideas or come up with some of your own.
Examples Star: Hope The Tower: Epiphany Five of Wands: Conflict Six of Wands: Victory Ace of Swords: Intellect
Three of Swords: Heartbreak Nine of Cups: Indulgence Knight of Cups: Narcissism Five of Pentacles: Hardship Ten of Pentacles: Family
Reflection If you played Tableau One, how did this experience differ? Did any new insights come to you about these cards as a result of participating in this exercise? Which one(s)? Explain. Did the limited time count encourage you to think more spontaneously and creatively? Explain. Are these qualities you’d like to further develop as a reader? Did you prefer working with the names of the cards or their key words? Explain.
Tarot’s A Cappella Chorus
n this exercise, the group will be asked to identify a card based on key words. The card chosen should be one that shares some key words with others so that the card in play does not become immediately obvious. Begin by choosing eight members of the chorus and one conductor. (The number may vary, depending on the size of the group.) The remainder of the class becomes the audience. It will be their job to listen carefully and identify the card. The members of the chorus will gather together, along with the conductor, and each will agree upon a card. Each chorus member will give one key word for that card which will be his throughout the exercise. It is the conductor’s responsibility to keep each member’s card in mind. For example, the card chosen is the Four of Swords. The members of the chorus choose these key words:
The chorus will stand in two staggered rows. The conductor faces them. He will use the following signals or others that the group understands and agrees upon: The conductor points to a chorus member. He says his word once. The conductor repeatedly points to a chorus member. The chorus member repeats the word as many times as the conductor points at him. The conductor points to two chorus members simultaneously. Both chorus members will say their words at the same time. If the conductor points to two members (one at a time), the chorus members will say their words one after the other. The conductor points to one member or the entire chorus and lowers his hand to decrease the volume. The conductor raises his hand high to increase the volume. The conductor puts his fingers together on both hands, touches them, and then pulls them wide apart. The chorus member will stretch the word. The conductor points rapidly or slowly for tempo. The conductor makes a sweeping gesture to indicate that all the words are said simultaneously on top of one another. Here is an example of the chorus’s rendition of the Four of Swords: (In the opening set, each member says his word consecutively when the conductor points to him. The conductor may follow this by scrambling the words to create a variety of associations.)
Rest Retreat Peace Healing Refreshed Truce Sleep Recover (Scramble the words above for the next set at the conductor’s discretion.) (The following set is said alternately, or together, and in various other combinations depending on conductor’s signal.) Rest
Retreat, Retreat, Retreat, Retreat, Retreat (grows louder each time) Truce (quieter) Refreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeshed Refreeeeeeeeeeeeshed (said quietly) Sleeeeeeeeep Sleeeeeeeep (said quietly) Refreshed Sleep Refreshed Sleep (said alternately and slightly louder) Rest Retreat Peace Healing Refreshed Truce
Sleep Recover (said consecutively) The conductor may use his own discretion and creativity in terms of how he conducts the chorus. The chorus will generally close with each member in turn saying his word as in the opening. In the case of a “loud” card, the conductor may end with all members of the chorus shouting their words on top of one another, ending in a cacophony of voices. The conductor does a cutoff with a dramatic flair and turns to face the audience. The conductor and the chorus take a bow. Note: If the group is small, there may be four chorus members, each of whom has two words. The conductor will point to the chorus member with one finger, for the first word, and two fingers for the second word.
Reflection The audience will be asked to identify the card and explain their choice. Was more than one card suggested? Discuss other possibilities. How does this exercise engage the class in examining what they know about the cards? Did new meanings emerge as a result? Add them to Section Three.
The Machine of Tarot
hat would a tarot suit look like if it were a machine with moving parts? Would Cups be a love machine? Swords, a think-tank machine? Pentacles, a moneymaking machine? Wands, a motivational seminar machine? Begin by having a player choose a card at random from the deck and show it to the group. The suit is the theme; ace through ten or a court card of the suit is the variation. For example, if the Six of Cups was drawn, cups is the theme and six is the variation. What would the Six of Cups look like if it morphed into a machine? A generosity machine? If it is a card from the Major Arcana, use the elemental attribution of that card as the theme and the card itself as the variation. For example: The Magician’s elemental attribution is air, so swords is the theme and the Magician is the variation. Perhaps the Magician becomes a machine that creates magic in the world— an “abracadabra machine.” Player 1 moves to the center of the playing area and begins a simple, repetitive movement in place. This is the first moving part of the machine, inspired by the card that was chosen. He should move as many parts of his body as possible so that other players can join the machine to become another part of it. His movement should not vary. Once he has established the movement, he should add an
appropriate vocal sound. Each player who joins will add his own unique sound to his movement. Player 2 will join Player 1. His movement must be initiated by one of the moving parts of Player 1. That is, there must be physical contact. He too should move as many parts of his body as he can manage. Player 3 now joins the machine in like manner, finding a moving part that he can join, and so on until the facilitator thinks the machine is complete and running smoothly. Do not limit positions by merely remaining on two feet. Try a variety of stances. One player might lie on his back and move all four limbs. The important concept to remember here is that all moving parts are interconnected. At this point, the facilitator may give the machine directions in the form of adverbs or adjectives, i.e.: “faster” or “slower” or suggest words that are consistent with the theme of the machine. If it’s cups, for example, he might give a prompt such as “flowing,” “nurturing,” “joyfully,” or “sorrowfully.” When the machine has run its course, at the facilitator’s discretion he “pulls the plug” and says “power off.”
Reflection What physical movements were in keeping with the tone or mood that the card suggests? Explain. What vocal sounds were consistent with the card’s essential meaning? Explain. If you hadn’t known the card ahead of time, how would the machine have given you a clear indication of the sense or nature of the card chosen?
Did participating in or observing this exercise expand the meaning of the card for you? If so, how?
Show Me Who I Am
Avolunteer leaves the room, during which time it is decided which card he will be when he reenters. It is the role of the other players, one at a time, to reveal who he is by interacting with him non-verbally. Touching is allowed as long as boundaries are respected. (If a member prefers not to be touched at all, this would not be an exercise for which to volunteer.) It is important that at no time does one duplicate any aspect of the picture illustrated on the card. The purpose of the exercise is to communicate the meaning of the card without suggesting the actual images or postures. After all, there are many tarot decks whose images vary. These games should be applicable to all of them. For example, if it has been determined that the volunteer is the Empress, the player would not position her in a lounging position while holding an imaginary scepter, but five players, one at a time, might: 1 . place an imaginary baby in the arms of the volunteer and rock her arms (mother/nurturer).
2 . pantomime a plant growing from the earth (nature, growth) by putting the volunteer into a squat position and raising her to full height and lifting her arms high above her head. 3 . position the volunteer as a painter, painting a canvas (creativity) and moving her arms as if she is painting. 4 . behave in an alluringly, flirtatious manner (sexuality) by taking the volunteer’s hand and stroking her fingers through your hair; caress your face. 5 . pantomime suddenly having a burst of inspiration (the birth of an idea) by raising the volunteer’s index finger, other fingers bent, and thrusting it up in the air as if a great idea has just occurred. After five attempts have been made to communicate the card to the volunteer, and not until then, he gets one guess. If he is correct, that round is over. If he is incorrect, five more attempts will be made by other members of the group, with a final guess from the volunteer before the card is finally revealed. Repeat the exercise with other cards as time allows.
Reflection Were the choices made authentic to the meaning of the card? Explain. What insights about the card did this exercise suggest that built upon the standard meanings?
Tell Me Who I Am
his game is similar to Show Me Who I Am, but now language is included, and it becomes an improvisation with dialogue.
A volunteer, player 1, leaves the room, during which time the group decides on the tarot card he will become. Another player, player 2 (an anonymous character, not a card), is chosen to interact with him when he reenters the room. The choices that player 2 makes should not be misleading, but, at the same time, should not be so obvious that player 1 recognizes who he is right away. For example, the group may have determined that player 1 is the Nine of Wands. Player 2 would not say, “Why are you wearing a bandage around your head?” Player 1 will not respond until he thinks he knows the card that he has been assigned. (It should not be a guessing game from the start.) At that point, he will attempt to engage in dialogue and action with player 2. If he is incorrect, player 2 will not acknowledge player 1. If he is correct, player 2 will begin to dialogue with him. After a few lines of dialogue have been spoken between them, the round ends. It might go like this:
Player 1: Reenters the room. Player 2: (Approaches him cautiously.) Will it be safe for me to proceed from here? Player 1: (Who is not likely to know who he is yet, will remain silent.) Player 2: You look as though you’re on watch. (Looks behind him to see if someone is coming.) Player 1: (He thinks he is the Two of Wands) I am surveying my realm and contemplating my next conquest. Will you join me? Player 2: (Does not respond. He then says … ) You seem to be in such a defensive position. (This interchange may go on for some time before player 1 concludes that he is the Nine of Wands. Player 1 then might say … Player 1: I have created a fortress of protection from those who have injured me in the past. Player 2: Would you consider leaving the past behind you and venturing out into the world again with me? Player 1: Some wounds cut too deeply. At this point, the round ends, since player 1 has figured out who he is. You may also let it go on for a while longer if it is going in a particularly interesting direction and shedding new light on the card. Continue playing the game with new players and cards.
Reflection How can improvising assist in exploring other levels of a card’s meaning? After each improvisation, discuss what new insights may have been revealed?
his game is mostly for fun, and why not? However, it’s also a way to experience how a plot can take a different direction based on the tarot character’s point of view. 1 . Spread the deck in front of the players, facedown. 2 . Select one player to begin. He will choose a card and begin telling a story based on how the picture inspires him and without describing specifically what he sees in the picture. All storytellers are developing the same plot with the same set of characters. 3 . To make the game a little more entertaining and challenging, each player will begin his turn with a word that begins with the next letter in the alphabet. For example, the first player begins with a word beginning with the letter A. He will pass the story on to the next player by saying “and—” (Always stop mid-sentence.) The second player continues the story by drawing another card and begins with a word beginning with the letter B, again prompted by what he sees in the card and from that card’s point of view, and so on through the alphabet. If the games goes as far as Z, go back to the beginning of the alphabet. The group may also decide to begin the story at any point in the alphabet. You may start with L and go on sequentially from there.
4 . A player can bring the story to an end when he feels it has reached a resolution by saying “curtain.” 5 . The plot should have a sense of a beginning, middle, end, and a conflict and resolution, regardless of how absurd it may become. Have fun! 6 . As the cards are chosen by each player, place them facedown in a horizontal row without revealing them to the group. At the end of the game, turn them over, and observe how the story line unfolded.
Reflection Can you see how a querent can project himself and his story into what he sees in the card? Explain. Could you use a modified version of this game to support your client into gaining insight into his question? How would that look? Did a card meaning emerge that perhaps you had not considered? Explain.
Stage the Card
his is your chance to create a tarot card, the one that symbolizes everything that card means to you. Even in your favorite deck, there are likely a few cards you wish you could tweak a bit. Here’s your chance. If you’re using the Rider-Waite-Smith deck or one of its clones, you might want to choose a card without human figures, like the Three of Swords, the Eight of Wands, or one of the aces. You will be creating this card as a living tableau with the members of your group. Call to the performing area, one at a time, as many players as you need to create the card. The players can be animals, inanimate objects, atmospheres (like stormy, bright and sunshiny, threatening), as well as people. Avoid picking the number of players that match the number of the suit. Let’s say you had the Three of Cups in mind. If you limited your choice to three players, we would know that it is the three of one of the suits or the Empress. Make it a little more challenging for the group to figure out. There’s nothing to say, for example, that the Three of Cups must have three and only three figures or may not also include objects.
Choose one player and move his body into the position you have in mind. He will freeze in that position. Do this with the remaining players until you are satisfied that you have created your version of this card. Though it should be consistent with the generally held beliefs about the card, it should also reflect your particular interpretation of the card. The tableau should remain frozen while members of the audience are sharing their responses. If time allows, repeat this exercise with the remaining players.
Reflection The audience will now share the card that they think you have created and explain their reasoning. Any new insights? Surprises? Will you add to your catalog of meanings for this card as a result of this exercise? Share with the group.
n actor will often gain added insight into the personality and character of the role he is playing by doing a kind of stream of consciousness brainstorming. This often unlocks some of his intuitive connections after he has exhausted the more conscious and analytical approaches to his role. In like manner, a tarot student can make discoveries about the cards by participating in this game of Dueling Tarot. Two players face each other. They each randomly choose a card from a deck that is placed between them and revealed to the group. They say, in turn, one word at a time, beginning with the first letter of that card’s name in a face-off duel of words. Once the letter of the card is exhausted, he may move on to other letters. For example, player 1 chooses the Strength card. He may say: strong, silent, soft, sexy, smooth, silky, and so on. Player 2 may have chosen the Hermit card. He says: healing, high-minded, holy, hallowed, honorable, and the like. The first round might begin like this: Player 1: Strong Player 2: Healing
Player 1: Silent Player 2: High-minded (After letters beginning with the of the card no longer occur, the game may continue with any other words that apply): Player 1: Controlling Player 2: Guru The game ends when one player can no longer come up with a word association. Play as many duel rounds with new players as time allows.
Reflection The audience should jot down notes of words that gave them new insights to particular cards and discuss them at the end of the game. At this time, they may also offer some of their own. Suggestion: Add your new word associations in Section Three: Tarot Card Meanings.
he playwright provides the spine of the character. It is up to the actor to provide the flesh and blood. One of the ways the actor “fills in the blanks” is by creating a backstory for the character, imagining his life before the action of the play begins, placing him in imaginary circumstances to see how he will respond and asking him questions to hear how he will answer. In a similar way, we can go deeper into the characters and energies depicted in a tarot card. This game is a group share version of Guess the Card. In this exercise we turn the tables on the cards, so to speak. Rather than providing answers to questions about ourselves, the cards answer the queries we put to them about their own psyches, their values, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and so forth. Two players are chosen to be the interviewer and the interviewee (the card). The one being interviewed chooses a card and shows it to no one. The card need not have a figure in it. If it is the Ace of Pentacles, for example, then imagine a person who embodies those qualities and speaks from that place.
The interviewer asks questions like the ones suggested below. You may use them, add to them, or make up your own, as long as it covers a broad range of personality and character insights. However, the questions should not make reference to 1 . anything illustrated in the card—i.e., “Are you sitting on a throne?” 2 . the suit—i.e., “Are you a sword?” 3 . the arcana—i.e., “Are you a card in the Major Arcana?” 4 . a role—i.e., royalty, a worker, a beggar, a farmer, an aristocrat After the first ten questions have been asked and the responses have been shared, the group may guess the card; If they are correct, the round ends and it is time to move on to the next card. If the guess is incorrect, ten more questions may be asked with one final guess. At that point, if the card selected has not been identified, the player personifying the card may reveal who he is.
Proposed Questions 1 . What is one piece of advice you would give the younger generation if you were addressing them at a graduation ceremony? 2 . If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? 3 . What decision do you most regret, if any? 4 . What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
5 . What have you yet to learn? 6 . What have you yet to teach? 7 . What is your greatest fear? 8 . What is the most memorable “aha” moment in your life? 9 . Where would you like to be in your life ten years from now? 10 . How do you think others perceive you? 11 . Referring to #10, how is this the same or different in terms of how you perceive yourself? 12 . What are some of the things you do when you are alone? 13 . What is your #1 pet peeve? 14 . What is your dream job? 15 . What do you need most from your partner in an intimate relationship? 16 . What do you like to do in your free time? 17 . What is your best and worst attribute? 18 . How do you handle stress in your life?
19 . Under what circumstances are you the most expressive? Explain. 20 . In what ways do you feel blocked?
Reflection A discussion should follow each round, focusing on any new insights that might have been gained about the meaning of the card.
Creating an Event
he player who begins this exercise thinks of a card and an activity that could be associated with that card. He may also choose a card at random from the deck. The activity should not be illustrated on the card; it should also be one that others can join. For example, if the card chosen were the Two of Pentacles, the player would not begin by juggling but would initiate an activity in which the Two of Pentacles would possibly engage. If we think of this card as one who is having fun in the moment without too much regard for the future, player 1 might be flipping burgers on a barbecue grill at a picnic. The other players join the activity as they figure out how they can become a part of it. The only tarot card in play is the one chosen by Player 1. The other players may be thought of as aspects of the same card. It is not important that the members of the group are sure of what card Player 1 has in mind; therefore, the other players should join in as soon as an idea occurs to them. In fact, it might be more interesting if it evolves into something quite different than intended. That’s okay. The point is to encourage the group to think creatively about the cards and to expand the context in which they are typically associated. This is a non-verbal activity and is over when the facilitator determines that it is complete.
Reflection During the discussion that follows, share the cards that were thought of as the activity progressed. Explain what prompted you to think it was one card rather than another. Did this card take on added meaning for you as a result of this exercise?
n this exercise, the group sits in a circle with a table in the center. On the table are placed five index cards marked ADJECTIVE, COMMON NOUN, PRONOUN, VERB and ADVERB, respectively, along with a tarot deck placed facedown, sheets of paper, and writing implements. The players will each be given five cards and asked to write one word for each category. They will place their words facedown on the table under the appropriate category. Each group of words will now be mixed together. Each player will select five words, one from each group. They will select a tarot card from the top of the deck, keep it in mind, and return it to the bottom of the deck. They will also take a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. Each player will now write a short poem, incorporating his five words, from the voice of his tarot card. Other words may now be added in order to construct a coherent poem. The writing should be as spontaneous as possible and take no more than five minutes to complete. Now, each player, in turn, will read his poem. Members of the group will guess the card that they think inspired the poem. This should
generate a lively discussion, focusing on the various interpretations that could be inspired by a particular card. Note: This exercise could be adapted to a journaling activity if individuals would like to continue exploring the exercise on their own.
Reflection Did writing a poem inspired by a particular tarot card open up new ways of relating to that card? Explain and share with the group.
Show and Tell
n the face of it, Show and Tell is a game that many of us associate with elementary school. Perhaps we brought in our pet turtle or an arrowhead we found on a trip with the family out west. Of course, in this case the object will not actually be present in the room. As an acting exercise to develop a character or as a way of delving into the many complex levels of a tarot card, it becomes a very interesting tool for discovering layers we might have otherwise overlooked.
Exercise Spread out a well-shuffled tarot deck facedown in the middle of the group. Each player chooses a card and is given a moment to study the card. The first player selected will share something that is important to that card. 1 . Show us the card. 2 . Describe an object that is important to that card. 3 . Say why it is important.
4 . If this card came up in a reading, what might the object tell the querent? (You may want to imagine the circumstances about which the querent came for a reading.) On cards where an object is illustrated, try to imagine another one instead. For example, what would the Eight of Pentacles bring in for Show and Tell? Perhaps he would bring his lunch box. He is so devoted to his work that he wouldn’t want to waste time by going out to eat. He may also be trying to save money. The game will continue until each player has had his turn. Here’s an example of a card that does not have a figure shown on its face: the Ace of Swords. For the purpose of this exercise, personify that card; give it human qualities. What is vitally important to that card? Perhaps it is the fire and the water that temper and cool and temper and cool the metal so that it will not break under tension. If this card came up in a reading, what would it say we needed so that we won’t break under pressure? What would the Hanged Man bring in for Show and Tell? He might bring in a watch to remind him that staying in suspended animation for too long could produce stagnation. When it is time to move on, the watch will prompt him.
Reflection To conclude, share your experience of this exercise with the group. What insights did you gain about the card you chose or about one of the other cards shared by a member of the group?
he purpose of this exercise is to use a familiar object as something other than its intended function as the character in the card would use it. Gather together a group of objects, the more the better, and place them on a table in the center of the room. The objects chosen should have a function, like a can opener, a toilet plunger, a coat hanger, a toothbrush, a cheese grater, a pocketknife, and so on. One player at a time will choose a tarot card randomly from the deck and share it with the group. Then, as that card, select an object and use it as something other than its intended function. Let’s say the player chose the Knight of Pentacles and picks up the toilet plunger. Being the practical, down-to-earth kind of guy that he is, he might use it as a torch to explore a dark cave, while the Fool may use it as a bindle, or the Five of Pentacles may transform it into a cane. More than one player may use the same object as long as it is used differently as suggested by the card that was in play.
Reflection How can the way the object was perceived and used give us insight into the card? Cite examples from the exercise.
A Tall Tarot Tale
here’s usually one in every group who enjoys spinning a yarn. He or she would be the perfect player to volunteer as narrator.
The narrator will tell a story with the use of tarot cards. The plot should have: 1 . a beginning, middle, and end 2 . a protagonist and those in his camp 3 . an antagonist and those in his camp 4 . a conflict 5 . tactics on both sides to overcome and win the conflict 6 . a resolution The narrator will turn over the first card, show it to the group, and thus the story begins. Let’s say the first card is the Page of Wands. So he says, “There was a passionate young student who was on a school trip in Egypt. He found himself walking among the three pyramids of Giza.”
Whenever the narrator mentions a character or an object or an atmosphere—i.e., a storm, a lightning strike, a downpour of rain—the other players volunteer to enter the playing area and take on those roles and do and say what is described. The action and the dialogue are always generated by the narrator and mirrored by the players. So someone would be the Page of Wands and three others would be the pyramids. This, of course, depends on how many people are in the group. In some cases, a role may need to be abandoned and another role assumed. The narrator continues: “The Page of Wands says, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually in Egypt!’” So the player who is the Page of Wands says, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually in Egypt!” and so on. The narrator turns over the second card and shows it to the group; it is the High Priestess. He says, “Suddenly, from behind one of the pyramids appears a woman dressed in a flowing blue garb, balancing a ball on her head.” A player becomes the High Priestess. The narrator says, “Young Man, you are here to unravel the mystery of the flames of passion” (Player says the line). Narrator: “The Page of Wands approaches her and says, ‘Who are you?’” (says the line). The narrator says, “Never mind that. Are you willing to take on the challenge or not?” (says the line). And the story continues with successive cards, uncovering the plot’s twists and turns, until it reaches its final resolution. The “play” should reach a conclusion within five to seven minutes.
Reflection Though this game was included with fun in mind, it also taps into the kind of creative thinking that can enhance and bring greater depth to your reading style.
How were the actions of the characters true to the traditional meanings of the cards? If some of the choices seemed “out of character,” How could you justify them rather than judge them? Explain. It is worth noting that everyone has the capacity to behave uncharacteristically at times.
ake a list of hot topics of the day. They might include:
1 . A presidential campaign 2 . Gay marriage 3 . Policing in inner-city neighborhoods 4 . Climate change 5 . Gun rights 6 . Capital punishment 7 . Illegal immigration 8 . Drinking age 9 . Cell phone obsession 10 . Legalizing prostitution
11 . A woman’s right to choose 12 . Nuclear weapons 13 . Stem cell research 14 . Vaccines and autism 15 . Euthanasia 16 . Cloning This exercise is formatted as an interview. The players are: 1 . A moderator, preferably one who can easily come up with questions on a variety of topics and can intervene when necessary 2 . Two interviewees who will personify the tarot cards The topic will be taken from suggestions from the group. The two who are interviewed will choose one card each from a facedown deck. These cards will be shared with the group at the end of the round. They will answer questions on this topic from the point of the view of the card they have chosen. The discussion may develop into a lively debate between the two interviewees.
When the moderator feels the interview has reached a satisfactory conclusion, he will thank the guests and end the interview.
Reflection The group will be asked to guess the two cards they think were in play and give an explanation for their choices. At that point, the cards will be revealed. Did you expand your understanding of any of the cards in play by observing this exercise? Explain.
Tarot Improvisation Face-Off
wo players sit facing each other. The facilitator shuffles a deck, cuts it in half, and places each half next to the players.
At the signal from the facilitator, each player picks up a card. He will become the impersonation of the card in the improvisation. The facilitator, or someone in the group, will call out a conflict or one suggested by the group. It might be: 1 . A disagreement about travel plans. One may want to drive, the other wants to fly. 2 . Which friends should and should not be invited to a party. 3 . Buying a new car vs. paying off the mortgage. 4 . Thinking you deserve a raise and your boss does not. 5 . Asking your friend/spouse to give you another chance. 6 . Two aspects of self in conflict (the classic Hamlet conflict). In this case, the two players will each have a card representing two aspects of the same person in conflict with himself. For example,
“Should I risk a friendship by airing a continuing, long-term grievance or live with it and settle for what works?” 7 . A friend asking another to lie for him in court and risk perjury or to tell the truth. 8 . A vegan arguing with a carnivore to become a vegetarian. 9 . A tarotist and a non-believer arguing their positions. 10 . Taking sides on the pro-life vs. pro-choice issue. The group can come up with its own list. The important thing is that what each one wants is in conflict. The conflict should be rather meaningful to both so that each has something significant to win or lose as a result. After the conflict and the setting of the scene have been agreed upon, the facilitator will choose one of the players to initiate the improvisation. The improvised dialogue will begin. Each will try to be persuasive from the point of view of the tarot card he has drawn. At a signal from the facilitator, either a bell, buzzer, or by saying “next card,” each player will choose another card from the top of the deck. The dialogue continues as seamlessly as possible from where it left off, but now from that new card’s perspective. The conflict remains the same; the characters are the same; each new card the players choose will represent a new tactic they are employing to achieve their objectives. Keep in mind that if the next card is the Hermit, you are not speaking as though you have become the Hermit, but from
that aspect of you that is the Hermit. As has been previously stated, all seventy-eight cards live in us and will manifest as the circumstances of our lives dictate. The game will end at the facilitator’s discretion after three to five cards have come into play. There is no hard-and-fast rule about the number of cards used between any two players. If the exercise is going particularly well and is instructive to the purpose of the exercise, the facilitator may allow it to go for a while longer. The game continues with two new players using the same deck. The cards that have already been used will be put aside.
Reflection The group will provide feedback about the cards they thought they detected in the exercise and explain their reasoning. At the end of the discussion, the cards will be revealed. At this time, the players may also wish to contribute to the discussion.
In the Manner of the Card
he purpose of this exercise is to explore the physical life of the card by giving it a specific action to execute. The Empress may wash her hands quite differently than the Tower. Actors approach their characters in a similar way. We, in our daily lives and those we observe, move in part because of what we want and how we attempt to get it, supported by our personality traits, self-image, age, sex, state of mind, and more. The players sit in a circle. Someone volunteers to leave the room. In his absence, the group chooses a card whose identity he will attempt to determine when he reenters. He will return to the center of the circle and give a series of directions to specific players, one at a time. He may direct them to walk across the room, tie their shoe, comb their hair, shake someone else’s hand, or whatever else his imagination suggests as long as individual boundaries of the players are respected. The director will instruct the player to execute the direction as a particular card would do it. If a player is asked to sing, he should sing, “Happy Birthday,” so that neither the song nor its lyrics will provide too strong a clue. It is not what the player sings, but how the player sings that is important.
After five directions, he will have one guess. If he is incorrect, he will give five more directions and offer a final guess. If he has not guessed the card, it will be revealed. The structure of the direction is as follows: 1 . Address the person by his or her first name. 2 . Give the direction. (If objects are involved, the player will pantomime them.) 3 . Say “ … in the manner of the card.”
Examples Donnaleigh, look in the closet for something to wear in the manner of the card. Zoe, set the table in the manner of the card. Beth, comb your hair in the manner of the card. Angelo, look in your crowded bag for something you need in the manner of the card. Rana, open a present in the manner of the card. Mitchell, skip across the room in the manner of the card. Carrie, shake the person’s hand next to you in the manner of the card. Barbara, applaud in the manner of the card. Lauren, sing “Happy Birthday” in the manner of the card. Sheilaa, eat an ice cream cone in the manner of the card. Laisi, beat an imaginary drum in the manner of the card. Jenny, stand up and bow in the manner of the card. Dina, walk on tiptoes in the manner of the card. Ferol, put on a pair of gloves in the manner of the card.
Jeannine, walk a tightrope in the manner of the card. Francesca, dance in the manner of the card. Repeat the exercise with other cards and directors.
Reflection Follow the exercise with feedback from the group. How did what you know about your card motivate you to move as you did? What did you observe in other players’ choices? What new insights about a particular card can you add to the meanings you assign to that card?
tanislavski, the well-known Russian acting teacher, inspired an exercise called “Private Moment.” This exercise was later adapted by Lee Strasberg and taught at the Actors Studio in New York City. The goal of this exercise for the actor is to feel comfortable performing a personal and private act in public. The idea is that although the actor in a play is performing on stage before an audience, he should give the illusion of being in private. Of course, what may immediately come to mind are aspects of one’s morning ablutions or certain acts of intimacy. Then again, a private moment for one person may be quite different for someone else. For example, I’m sure we’ve all seen someone cleaning his nose in public with seemingly no qualms at all in doing so. I think it’s safe to say that most of us would choose to perform that act in private. On the other hand, dancing alone with absolute abandon or singing operatically when one can barely carry a tune might be another person’s definition of a private moment. At issue here are the factors that make a particular moment private for one person and public for another. Here is a suggested list of some of the influences in that regard:
• Age • Gender • Social station • Environment • Culture • Ethnicity • Morality • Geography • Self-image • Family background • Beliefs, religious or otherwise So, one may ask, “What does this have to do with our understanding the cards in a tarot deck?” Simply, it is peeling away another layer of the onion. I think we could agree that when we get to know someone intimately, we are more likely to share moments that heretofore had been reserved for ourselves alone. This provides another dimension of ourselves to which others are usually not privy. In this exercise, each player will choose a card from a facedown deck. He will be given a few minutes to meditate on the card and decide what a private moment might be for that particular card. This should not be confused with a reversed meaning of the card. Each player will in turn enter the playing area and pantomime the private moment. This is a non-verbal activity. Let’s imagine a private moment for the High Priestess: She’s alone and performing an exotic and sensual belly dance. Standard meaning: introvert
Reflection After each player presents, the group will guess the card they think was in play and explain their thinking. Remember, this is not what would normally be associated with this card. It is a private moment. It is not important to be spot on with your guess, but rather to think creatively and intuitively about the possibilities. In fact, a variety of guesses could spark a stimulating discussion about the card in play. What insights can we gain about the traditional meaning of a card by seeing it behave in a non-traditional way? Did looking at the cards in this way open up other ways of possible interpretation? Share your thoughts.
n this non-verbal exercise, the first player enters the playing area and strikes the pose of a tarot card that has essentially one predominant image illustrated. The pose is held until the second player joins him, acknowledges that he recognizes the card by interacting in some appropriate way, and then transforms the two of them into a card with two predominant images. (Note: these images may be people, animals, objects, or atmospheres, i.e., gloomy, cheerful, tranquil.) The exercise continues in the same way until the sixth player has joined in with a six-image card.
Example Player 1: Enters as the Hermit with his lantern and holds the pose. Player 2: Stands behind him, putting both hands above his head, and forming a teepee to represent a mountain. He then begins to limp on crutches; player 1 recognizes the Five of Pentacles and takes the posture of the second figure in the illustration. The picture freezes. Player 3: Enters the playing circle and becomes snowflakes falling on the two figures (hands spilling imaginary snowflakes). Standing over them, he then transforms himself into the Devil and the other two players become the two lesser demons. (But it could just as
easily be the Lovers or even Judgement. That’s fine. Be in the moment and go with it.) Player 4: Enters and become the bat wings of the Devil. He then takes the two hands of one of the players and starts skipping “Ring Around the Rosie,” becoming the children in the Ten of Cups. The other two players become the parents and freeze. Player 5: Enters and becomes the rainbow in the Ten of Cups. He then picks up an imaginary pole with both hands and begins goading the others on into light-hearted combat. They should recognize the Five of Wands and take up their poles and freeze in approximately the postures of the card. Player 6: Enters and takes the poles from them as a kind of referee and then gets down in a crouching motion, howling at the moon. The other players become the wolf, the crayfish, the two towers, and the Moon. The game continues in reverse as described above. Player 6 exits and we return to the Five of Wands; Player 5 exits and we return to the Devil and so forth until we are left with the Hermit. Each time a player exits, the remaining players will make adjustments to form the card in play at that time. This game illustrates your familiarity with the cards and the interaction that takes place among them. It also taps into that creative, imaginative spirit which is a valuable tool for tarot readers to be able to access.
Reflection Did this kind of interaction suggest another way of interpreting the cards? Explain. How did this activity illustrate the interconnectivity among the cards?
Discuss how the cards are more than an entity unto themselves. How are they members of the same community with different points of view?
The Interrogation: “Person of Interest”
e all must have seen those true crime dramas where the “person of interest” is asked the same question over and over, hoping that he will eventually crack and divulge the information the interrogator is seeking. This is also an effective technique for the actor to get to the unexplored areas of his character, and in this exercise, for the tarot student to delve into the meaning of a card that goes beyond the traditional definitions. Once those standard meanings have been exhausted, what follows may produce some surprising and unexpected results. One person is chosen as the POI. The interrogators are the remaining players. The person of interest may choose a card at random from the deck, or a card may be chosen because it is one that the group would like to explore. For the purpose of example, let’s say the Hierophant was chosen.
The POI sits before the group. The members of the group, in turn, fire the same question at him: “Who are you?” Initially, the question never varies, and the game continues until the POI has exhausted all the possible responses that occur to him. He says, “That is all that I am.” Now is the time to encourage him to continue by changing the questions to, “What do you not want us to know?” What he says next may be the most original and insightful discovery. Just as we do not reveal all of who we are with everyone, those private aspects of ourselves are no less a part of who we are.
Example Interrogator 1: Who are you? Hierophant: I am a pope. Interrogator 2: Who are you? Hierophant: I am a counselor. Interrogator 3: Who are you? Hierophant: I am a traditionalist. Interrogator 4: Who are you? Hierophant: I am a conservative. Interrogator 5: Who are you? Hierophant: I am a teacher. Interrogator 6: Who are you? Hierophant: I am a guru. Interrogator 7: Who are you? Hierophant: That is all that I am. Interrogator 8: What do you not want us to know? Hierophant: I am the leader of a cult. Interrogator 9: What do you not want us to know? Hierophant: I am a false prophet. (Yes, under these circumstances, the person of interest, under pressure, will confess to things he would normally keep under wraps.)
When this round seems to have gone as far as it can, choose another POI, another card, and repeat the process.
Reflection Following each interrogation, allow feedback so that the group can share the responses they found most interesting and insightful. When we speak from a place of absolute honesty, without fear of repercussion, we may reveal more than we would have ordinarily. How can this right of way provide greater insight into the cards embodied in this exercise?
A Perfect Match
his game is similar to a popular TV show that began airing in the 1960s. The format of the show placed a young woman on stage who then posed questions to three male contestants; based on their answers, the woman would choose the one who most impressed her with his responses. The men were hidden on the other side of a wall. (Rather than a wall, for the purposes of this exercise, the questioner can turn his or her back to the three contestants.) The contestants who are to be interrogated (male or female) will choose a tarot card and will become the personification of that card, answering from that card’s point of view. For this game, a moderator isn’t really necessary, but you can add one if you choose. This exercise can reveal how a particular card might respond when asked about relationship. The group can make up their own questions, but here are some to get you started: Address each contestant as Contestant 1, Contestant 2, or Contestant 3. The same question can be asked of all contestants or changed at the discretion of the questioner. Note: The player who is asking the questions is not posing as a tarot card, but rather as himself or an imaginary character of his choice. In subsequent rounds, the questioner may elect to choose a tarot card
and speak from that card’s perspective. In that case, the card would suggest the appropriate kinds of questions to pose. 1 . What is your picture of the ideal first date? 2 . What does commitment mean to you in a relationship? 3 . At what point in a new relationship is sexual intimacy appropriate? 4 . What would you consider a great travel destination that we could share? Explain. 5 . What kinds of activities would you suggest doing together on a rainy day? 6 . How would you make up to me after an argument? 7 . Is infidelity a deal breaker for you? Why or why not? 8 . What specific qualities do you look for in a potential partner? 9 . If we were dating seriously, and I told you that I would like to see other people, how would you react? 10 . What do you not want me to know about you?
Reflection At the end of the game, the group will guess the cards they think the contestants were representing. After the final guess, the contestants will reveal the cards they chose and will explain their approach.
How did your perception of the card change when you thought of it only in terms of relationship?
The Majors: Face to Face
n this non-verbal exercise, you will interact with a partner. A volunteer facilitator will remove the Major Arcana and show one card to you and another to your partner. You will sit facing your partner, knees touching, and holding your partner’s hands. Rest your hands on your knees. At a signal from the facilitator, close your eyes and meditate on your card for one minute; get inside its skin. Feel the card living in you. What is it thinking? What does it want to say through you? You have become its vessel. The facilitator will call time when one minute has elapsed. Open your eyes and maintain eye contact with your partner for one minute. Through eye contact and facial expression alone, communicate your card to your partner. The facilitator will tell you when time is up. Your expressions should be natural. Avoid exaggerated facial expressions in an attempt to transmit the card to your partner. This is where your psychic or intuitive abilities may come into play; that is more important than communicating the specific card. For example, let’s say your card was Strength. Strength is, in part, about control, but so are a number of other cards. If your partner was getting
“control” from you and named another card associated with control, that would be an equally bona fide response. It would clearly indicate that the intuitive energy was flowing between the two of you. At the prompt from the facilitator, each of you will share with your partner the card that you felt he was transmitting. Members of the group will be given the opportunity to provide feedback. After all have shared, reveal your card to your partner and to the group. Repeat the exercise with other members of the group.
Reflection How did you feel as you were maintaining eye contact with your partner for one minute? Were you more card-conscious or selfconscious? If you found that you were more self-conscious, how could you go deeper into the card so that you are less aware of yourself and more aware of the card? Did this exercise trigger any psychic or intuitive responses? Did you gain new insights into one or both of the cards that have provided greater clarity? Share you experiences with the group.
Tarot in the Park
lace a bench or three chairs in the center of the playing area. Three players will volunteer to play a character that is inspired by a tarot card they choose randomly from a facedown deck. The characters, who are strangers to each other, will sit and one will begin engaging the other two in a conversation; other members of the group may suggest the topic. The topic could be as innocuous as the weather. How would Death talk about the weather, as opposed to the Seven of Swords or the World? Through the course of the improvisation, the subject of the conversation may change. The object of the game is for each player to figure out the card identity of the other two; this will be based on what they say about the topic from their card’s point of view. When a player thinks he recognizes a card being played by one of the other players, he will say a line to indicate that without naming the card.
Example Perhaps he thinks that one of his fellow players is the Sun, so he may say, “I wish my outlook was as optimistic as yours. You’re a really upbeat guy.” If the player he’s addressing thinks he is right, he will make an excuse for why he must leave and exits. He may say, “Well thank you. I hope you’ll excuse me but I just have half an hour for lunch. Good day!” If the player identified him incorrectly, he might
say, “I think you may have me confused with someone else,” and he will remain in the game. The game continues until one player remains or five minutes have elapsed, whichever comes first. At the end of the game, each of the three players will reveal his cards. In some cases, it may turn out to be a different card than was supposed. That is okay. There are cards that share some of the same meanings. Being in the ballpark is close enough.
Reflection Which cards did you think were in play before they were revealed? What led you to your conclusions? Can you add to your card meanings? Which ones?
n this exercise, a member of the group volunteers to leave the room. In his absence, the group will determine which tarot card he will embody when he returns and what circumstances in his life has made him the subject of a press conference. Five other members of the group will volunteer to be the reporters, each attempting to get his question answered above the rabble of the others. When the person in question returns to the room, it is his goal to determine who he is, based on the questions he is being asked. The questions the reporters ask should not be misleading. On the other hand, they should not be a series of obvious hints. Initially, they may be rather vague. As the press conference progresses, the questions can become more explicit. The person in question should not reduce the exercise to a guessing game from the start.
Example Let’s say the card chosen was Justice. It has been decided by the group that the person embodying that card is a judge who has been accused of corruption. The questioning may open with, “How would you defend yourself from accusations that you have been unfair by those who criticize you?” A later question may be, “What did it mean to you when you took your oath of office?” Near the end of the questioning, a reporter
may ask, “If you were asked to step down from the bench on corruption charges, what proof could you offer to prove your innocence?” This is still not a dead giveaway. While the choice may seem obvious that the card in play is Justice, it could also be the Emperor, the King of Swords, or the Queen of Swords. Others may occur to you as well. Further questioning may narrow it down even more. If the person in question determines that it is any one of those cited, he accomplished his goal. The player who is being questioned should answer as logically and truthfully as he can based on his evolving understanding of his identity. When he thinks he has assimilated all the information and can offer a well-considered opinion, he may say, “I have presided over my court for twenty-five years, and I have never rendered a decision that has been challenged by any jurisdiction.” At no time should the name of the card be mentioned until one of the reporters, who realizes the card has been identified, takes on the role of moderator and says, “Thank you, gentlemen; no further questions.” At this time, the card in play should be revealed. In order to keep the game from losing momentum, the running time should be limited from five to ten minutes, unless, of course, it’s on a roll and there is value in continuing to play.
Reflection This exercise provides an opportunity for all the players, both the person in question and the reporters, to explore the card in greater depth and arrive at new meanings and insights. Can you assign new meanings to this card? If so, share them with the group. How can this kind of role-playing expand the way you think creatively about the cards? Explain.
Section Three Tarot Card Meanings
Tarot Card Meanings: Introduction
he tarot cards have many meanings. In the following pages you will find a brief description for each card. They are by no means definitive. There are almost as many meanings for a card as there are people who propose them. So, if you attribute a meaning to a card that may not be a part of the mainstream understanding and it works for you, by all means use it. I hope the meanings listed in this section are encompassing enough to be useful as you reference them while engaging in the written exercises and theater games in this book. Keep in mind that meanings in a reading will be influenced by whether the card appears upright or reversed; both are included in the following pages: first upright, then reversed. If meanings that are new to you occur, turn to those recorded here and see how they compare. You may even want to pencil them in so that you will remember them for future reference.
The Major Arcana
he Major Arcana cards, beginning with the Fool and ending with the World, embrace the evolution of the soul from innocence to wisdom. Each of these twenty-two cards is an archetype that represents what have been called the stages of consciousness in the journey to spiritual self-awareness. From this perspective, the Major Arcana may also be understood as our destiny or our fate, leading us to greater meaning and understanding. When these karmic themes appear in readings, they are always given extra weight for their potential to inspire profound transformation.
The Fool is a free spirit. He is enthusiastic, fearless, and trusting. He takes chances. He is aptly described as footloose and fancy free. He lives in the moment, seeking new experiences and adventures. He has a childlike innocence with an uninhibited lust for life. “First you jump off the cliff, and you build wings on the way down.”—Ray Bradbury However, at times he can be reckless and truly foolish, i.e., “the terminal adolescent.” Or, on the other hand, he may become overly cautious, paranoid, and fearful. Yes, look before you leap, but don’t go blind in the process.
The Magician is charming and eloquent. He is well grounded in reality. He gets what he wants because he knows what he wants. He is effective, inspiring, and knows how to make things happen. He is focused, self-confident, and he is a dynamic communicator. His strong willpower makes him a very persuasive communicator. You might see him in the role of performer, writer, artist, teacher, problem solver, or literally, a magician. “As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad When his positive energy is blocked, he becomes unfocused, apathetic, and depressed, and he feels weak. Conversely, he may abuse his power or become a con artist, a liar, a trickster, or a swindler.
The High Priestess
The High Priestess appears enigmatic and unapproachable. She is psychic, intuitive, and mysterious. She keeps her beliefs quietly to herself, living by her actions rather than her words. She knows what is best left unspoken so that others can learn from their own experiences. She is a keeper of secrets and is therefore a good listener. She is still, contemplative, meditative, and spiritual. At times she can become too reclusive; loneliness and moodiness can set in; at other times she can become more extraverted and involved. She may appear more passionate and have a deeper involvement with life and other people. While often thought of as the virgin in the tarot, she may evolve into a more sexually expressive being.
The Empress is motherhood, Mother Nature, fertility, and the life force. She loves the outdoors and gardening. She is nurturing and protective with unbridled creativity. She can stand for pregnancy or the desire for a child. She can also give birth to an idea. She has a sunny and warm personality and is devoted to her friends and lovers. At times she can suppress her emotions and decide she needs some alone time. She can be an overwhelming and smothering mother, wife, or she can behave in a sexually irresponsible way. She may lack charm or become a social climber and neglect her family altogether. This card may also represent feeling unloved by your mother or a broken engagement.
The Emperor stands for law and order, the rules of society, good judgment, and leadership. He is stable, grounded, logical, and he prizes structure. He is willful, wise, and reasonable. This card may come up when issues of father or fatherhood come into play. He is known for his insight, so you might go to him for advice. He always has a rational approach to issues and is analytical rather than emotional. He does everything by the book. He is “the boss.” He can also become overbearing and rigid, dominating and possessive—a dictator of sorts. He can over intellectualize and become fanatical about rules. If he becomes too compulsive about order, he may smother spontaneity and miss out on the joys of life. He can hurt others to achieve success with cruelty disguised as strength. He may also mellow and defer to others. As he grows older he can become senile.
The Hierophant stands for traditional education, teacher–student relationships, rituals, doctrines, and blind faith. Personal responsibility is surrendered. Conformity rules. The contradictions of life are answered but not solved. He may be a guru or a member of the clergy. The card represents the establishment and marriage. At other times, he may be a false prophet or an unethical teacher. He may represent unorthodox views or one who questions authority or his faith. He may become more of a freethinker or be more concerned with outer form rather than true spirituality. He may find it difficult to separate from formerly held beliefs that no longer make sense but are part of a tradition.
The Lovers follow their heart. They may be soul mates, married, or in a long-term relationship. Here there is trust, intimacy, and sexuality with nothing hidden and nothing withheld. There is also cooperation, joining forces, and making important choices. Overall, there is harmony and balance that comes from giving and receiving. Here you may also find the integration of the inner and outer self. If this relationship breaks down, then there is a kind of destructive love characterized by rejection, lack of cooperation, imbalance, infidelity, or irreconcilable differences. There may be issues with intimacy or sexual incompatibility. You may be allowing a love interest to be a priority when you are only an option.
The Chariot controls feelings and directs the will with self-discipline and decisiveness. Conflicts are controlled but not necessarily resolved. There is a risk here of being too rigid. However, the Chariot moves forward despite conflicts. There is a unification of opposites directed by unstoppable drive and single-mindedness. When the Chariot is derailed, conflicts may become overwhelming. Courage is replaced by weakness and feeling out of control. There may also be a sudden outburst of anger or forcefully imposing your will. Under those circumstances, power is replaced by arrogance, selfishness, and over aspiration. On a more literal level, there may be travel to a known destination, car trouble, or a delayed or canceled trip.
Strength is about imposing your higher will on your lower nature. Strength is imbued with love and gentle understanding that comes from strength from within. Strength knows how to transform enemies into peaceful allies with loving firmness. She is quietly effective and self-disciplined. She faces life passionately but peacefully. She is a lovely lady with the heart of a lion. This card can also be about overcoming addiction of various kinds. “Too much of the animal disfigures the civilized human being; too much culture makes a sick animal.”—Jung Strength can feign weakness to manipulate others, or she can become openly aggressive and abuse her power. Under those circumstances, her lower instincts trump her higher will. Strength may show her vulnerable side by seeking help and support when the courage to face life fails, leaving her feeling weak, overwhelmed, and pessimistic.
The Hermit is searching for self-knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment. He is a seeker, a guide, a guru, and a giver of light. This may be a time for you to withdraw from the outer world to seek inner truth by journeying to a spiritual retreat. It is a time for solitude and isolation—a time-out for contemplation. The Hermit may also be a roamer, running away from problems and refusing the call. He can become too isolated from others and literally become a hermit. He may be a false prophet or question his spirituality. The Hermit can fear old age and being alone, or he can have a paranoid fear of other people. This also can be a time when he reaches out and becomes more involved in society. “…Now that I can see it all from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision, given to a man too weak to use it.”—Black Elk on the Battle at Wounded Knee
The Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel of Fortune suggests a turning point for better or worse. It is time to roll with the punches and remember that this too shall pass. “Pride cometh before the fall.” The Wheel suggests a second chance or what goes around, comes around. Be prepared for new cycles with life’s ups and downs and learn from the experience. The Wheel of Fortune may also bring unexpected good luck. Attempting to resist change will send the wheel spinning out of control and literally going around in circles. Expect the inevitability of change and setbacks. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again.
Justice brings with her balance and fair play. Absolute honesty, levelheadedness, and a just decision are absolute. Justice is a seeker of truth and pursues it with impartial scrutiny. This may also indicate an encounter with law enforcement, courts, negotiating a compromise, or arbitration. If Justice is not true to her nature, then there may be unfair judgments or punishments. There may be indications of unethical behavior, corruption in the law, or leaping to a hasty decision. Justice may be a pretense with the outcome already decided. It may also be an example of one who forces her version of the truth onto others.
The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man represents a spiritual awakening that entails withdrawing from society to search for inner truth. There is a commitment to his convictions regardless of how they are viewed by the world. The Hanged Man is an independent thinker who lives to the beat of a different drummer. It is a time of inner transformation, letting go of control, and thus achieving it. Surrender to the Higher Power. There is progress in apparent stillness, attainment in sacrifice. This may be a time to turn a problem on its head in order to look at it differently, and perhaps, more clearly. When the Hanged Man succumbs to social pressures, he denies his inner truth and questions whether the sacrifice is worth it. He may become fanatical about spiritual pursuits or become “hung up” between two ways of thinking. There is also a danger of remaining still for too long; it is time to reap what you have sown.
The Death card marks endings, change, movement, new beginnings, afterlife, and death. It may also indicate that it is time to let go of the past and close those doors so that others can be opened. Death may serve as a doorway to liberation from what has been fixed. Now may be a time to release restricting habits and obsolete ways. Death may also suggest a fear of death, or denying your mortality. It may point to stagnation, a sluggish and boring life, or resistance to change.
Temperance points to the blending of opposites, balance in the face of extremes, self-control, and anger management. Temperance can be a negotiator or a diplomat. Spontaneity is combined with knowledge. There are also associations with health, healing, and flexible strength. The downside of Temperance can manifest as anger, lack of selfrestraint, and going to extremes in a life that is out of balance and out of control. In terms of your well-being, it can indicate poor health, blocked energy, stress, or addiction. Blocked emotions can lead to depression or violence.
The Devil is all about temptation, obsession, libido, self-limiting behavior, and indulgences. The Devil displays an attractive surface appearance through his sense of fun and laughter. He is a charmer, that’s for sure. But if one looks deeper, there’s a sense of feeling chained, imprisoned, trapped, and spiritually empty. You can become a slave to your desires with drugs, bondage, and S&M to the extent that desires overpower judgment. If the Devil is rehabilitated, there’s the possibility of fighting off the demons, confronting the dark side, and unleashing the Devil’s hold. You may pursue a healthier lifestyle, which includes finding spirituality and loving yourself and others. For those with various forms of addiction, therapy may be indicated.
With the Tower comes violent upheaval, literal or psychological, which may take the form of a tumultuous breakup of a relationship or any other sort of revelation that hits like a lightning bolt. A more contemporary understanding of the Tower is male orgasm, or, by contrast, male impotence. This is an aha moment in life. It is helpful to keep in mind that to live the ultimate dream is to face the ultimate nightmare. The result is an epiphany, which is meant to enlighten, not destroy. However, if you stay so tightly controlled, there is no room for growth. Seize the day or it will seize you. The Tower can be a blessing in disguise. By overcoming ego and facing beliefs that are based on false assumptions, you can connect to the higher power of enlightenment.
The Star brings with it openness, freedom, an inner calm and the loss of pretense. This is a time for seeing yourself as part of nature and the accompanying humility. In more modern contexts, the Star has also become associated with female orgasm. It promises hope, especially after an upheaval. As a humanitarian, it gives and expects nothing in return. The Star may recommend seeking calm surroundings for meditation and contemplating new beginnings. The Star also provides an opportunity to “shine,” particularly in the area of the arts. “Hope sees the invisible; feels the intangible; achieves the impossible.”—Helen Keller If the Star is not shining brightly, then this could be a time of shame, depression, low self-esteem, and feeling closed off. You may lose hope by denying your true gift when you are cut off from your source of inspiration.
When the Moon appears, it may bring with it strange emotions, dreams, fears, visions, and hallucinations. You may find that you are struggling with the wild and the tame within yourself. The Moon may also have a calming effect, which can awaken the unconscious and open up channels of psychic energy and pure intuition. The Moon also speaks of cycles—e.g., female cycles. When the Moon is to your detriment, you may experience difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and feel psychically drained or be prone to compulsive lying. Under its extreme influence, insanity may prevail. There may be indulgences in secret addictions to escape the demons and avoid the things that go bump in the night.
The Sun is very optimistic and brings with it an array of positive energy: joy, freedom from limitations, boundless energy, selfconfidence, enthusiasm, good health, and childlike excitement. You will undoubtedly be drawn to the Sun because of the life-affirming radiance it exudes. Even on a cloudy day, the Sun continues to shine but perhaps not quite so brightly. Happiness may be slightly diminished. There may be some loss of interest in life. Joy requires more effort to achieve. The childish side of the Sun may appear and show its immaturity and inflated ego or discover that it is too innocent to live in a dangerous world. Issues concerning your health may surface. Since the Sun exposes all there is to see, the dark side may now be exposed. That said, the Sun is still generally a very positive card.
Judgement is a wake-up call, a time for starting over. It is a radical change from the past. It says that now is the time to shed old ways of believing and thinking and rise to your higher nature. This is a true calling, but you must heed the call. As a result of this revelation, decisions and choices must be made if you are to journey to higher spiritual ground. Judgement encourages you to think outside the box. If you choose to ignore the call for fear of the unknown or are resistant to change, your life remains at a standstill with all the accompanying limitations. It may be a case of “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” There are growing pains to be sure, but remember, no pain, no gain.
“All’s right with the world!” comes to mind when this card appears. Here you will experience a wonderful sense of well-being, exhilaration, and fulfillment. You have truly found your bliss and are at one with the world. Life is good! This full circle brings with it joyous victories, total self-acceptance, and commitment to a future of limitless possibilities. Should you succumb to the negative energy of this card, the world may have turned upside down. Life can be riddled with self-doubt and impatience when progress is slow. Your willpower and drive may have been replaced with perceived limitations and stagnation. However, the World will rebound. The dance of life may be delayed, but it will resume.
The Minor Arcana
he Minor Arcana cards contain the four suits: wands, swords, cups and pentacles. These fifty-six cards mirror the human experience in more ordinary ways. They shine a light on our day-today circumstances—the familiar challenges and opportunities of work, relationships, heath and home. Because the Minor Arcana cards are more immediately relatable, we can more easily recognize ourselves in them as we go about living life with all of its joys, sorrows, successes, and failures. When these cards appear, they’re not likely to have a lasting influence, yet it is through them that we grow and evolve on a daily basis.”
Ace of Wands
The Ace of Wands heralds new beginnings. It is the fire of enthusiasm, inspiration, and strong desire. It is the vital spark needed to take risks and launch new projects. It is bursting with energy, particularly sexual energy. This is a card that says, “Go, now is the time to seize the day!” In matters of childbirth, a baby boy may be about to enter your life. If you ignore its insistence, then energy and creativity are blocked, your interest fizzles, or you may attempt half-hearted efforts that fail. Your sexuality may be out of control, or you may feel impotent as a result of a weak libido.
Two of Wands
The Two of Wands is about where one is versus where one wants to be, asking yourself, “Is this all there is?” It is a time of feeling successful but bored, having everything and wanting more. This would be a good time to consider a profitable partnership or to ponder over the next step. This may require choosing between security and adventure. Caution may be holding you back. By taking the risk, you fear rising to your level of incompetence. You may give up on a proposed project due to your lack of motivation or ambition. On the contrary, you may stop procrastinating and take the risk to regain that sense of competing in the unpredictable but exciting arena of life. You make take on a new role or launch a new and challenging enterprise.
Three of Wands
The Three of Wands is centered and focused on the future. It is “wait and see” after the bread has been cast upon the water. As a result of purposeful living, you are on the right track, and your ideas have taken off. You may have broadened your horizons through group cooperation and teamwork. Though this is a period of resting strength, don’t wait too long or you may miss the boat. A project could fail as a result of fearing to venture out. The initial project is complete, but there is room for expansion.
Four of Wands
This is a time of peace and harmony, security, renewal of life, a celebration after a period of hard work. It is that healthy balance between work and play. Relationships blossom; a proposal of marriage is in the air. This is also a rite of passage, which could include graduations, buying a new house, retirement, or coming out. All is going well, even when happiness may not be so obvious: the celebration may have been somewhat disappointing, or you may be afraid to join the free-spirited group but wish you could. Keep in mind that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”
Five of Wands
There is conflict here, but it is more about competing for the sheer joy of it. It is that adrenaline rush that comes when the wands are on fire. There is fighting, but no one gets harmed. There is rivalry, there are arguments and disagreements, but rules are honored. It all takes place in the context of fair play. There are exceptions though. Sometimes the rules are thrown out and the fighting becomes ugly; the competition is unhealthy. When rules are ignored, expect to see unethical behavior, one-upmanship, and sore losers.
Six of Wands
This is pure and unadulterated victory. You have reached the top of your game as a charismatic leader. You are now receiving all the recognition and high praise that you deserve. You are enjoying a hero’s welcome from your enthusiastic followers, who shower you with accolades and awards. If victory goes to your head, however, you may quickly find yourself a legend in your own mind. Beware of vanity, hogging all the credit, or becoming a user. Resting on your laurels may lead to a rudely awakening defeat and a loss of power.
Seven of Wands
When you are uncertain of victory, it is time to stand your ground. At the same time, keep in mind that you are on a slippery slope of control and need to know when to retreat. The competition is unhealthy here and you may find yourself struggling to survive. Conversely, you may be overreacting to a perceived adversary. Do not reject support if it is offered or be blind to the opportunity for diplomacy. Here the project may have been aborted, or you may be on the road to undermining your ultimate goal.
Eight of Wands
The Eight of Wands points to everything going in the right direction. It may be a group of people working positively and harmoniously toward a shared goal. It may be a literal journey, possibly by air, or action taken in a love affair. You may be swept off your feet and enjoying the rush. No wonder then that this card is sometimes called “the Arrows of Love.” It may also indicate finding direction in life and moving toward greater clarity. Whatever it is, it is happening swiftly. The Eight of Wands supports multitasking in an orderly way. If you miss the target though, everything may seem up in the air. You may be getting ahead of yourself or looking for a quick fix when more methodical planning is called for. Sometimes speed sacrifices quality.
Nine of Wands
If you see life as perpetual conflict, then you are always poised for a fight. That chip on your shoulder may have been brought on by past wounds. However, you can feel drained from thinking you must always be on guard. You may be holding onto childhood survival strategies long after they are necessary or useful. If so, they may be getting in the way of current growth and maturity. Accept a helping hand if it is offered, and let go of your conviction of righteousness. This is not to say that you should let down your guard altogether. It is important to remain vigilant and cautious when the threat is real.
Ten of Wands
There are those who are in love with responsibility. They are the classic workaholic, the martyr whose motto is “Do it all or it won’t be done ‘right.’” They complain, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.”— Lena Horne. The downside of the workhorse, however, is feeling oppressed and burdened by life. There’s no denying that the job gets done, but at what price? Now may be the time to get in touch with your limitations and learn to delegate. You may discover a new lease on life when you allow time for yourself. Remember, cemeteries are filled with people who thought they were indispensable.
Page of Wands
The Page of Wands is the youthful student or one who is young in spirit. He may also mark a new phase in life or the start of a project or relationship. He is the innocent opportunist with the attitude of “look out world, here I come!” He is ambitious, idealistic and has an active imagination, willing to take creative risks, which are inspired by his fiery passion. He is precocious and simply enjoys life just for itself with no external pressure. He may lack social graces, but he has a kind of quirkiness, which is appealing. He has a strong and healthy sex drive. He can be stymied by disruptions when life does not meet his expectations. Then he can become confused, indecisive, and lose his self-confidence. He can become the hyperactive and unmanageable child who acts irresponsibly and impulsively. Being without a creative outlet can lead him to depression and isolation, or he may try to compensate by burning the candle at both ends.
Knight of Wands
The Knight of Wands is a Type A personality, a real show off, but good-natured in his boasting and action-driven life. He is an idealist who lives by inspiration. He is apt to fly off in all directions, so he needs something to focus on and to channel his irrepressible energy. He can easily lose patience with details and is likely to say yes before realizing what he’s committing himself to. He loves change, so that is why he is drawn to travel, adventure, and secret missions. He has an irresistible urge to “go for it.” He has a generous spirit and is devoted to his friends, although he may infuriate them at times. Though he is the object of many erotic fantasies, he is not ready to settle down. He’s a “love ’em and leave ’em” kind of guy. He needs to be careful that his hothead does not get the better of him. He can become a braggart and a bully—a rebel without a cause. He is easily thrown when he is not grounded, and his fire gives way to depression. He can demand recognition when he does not get his way.
Queen of Wands
The Queen of Wands is warm and compassionate. People are drawn to her. When she enters a room, it becomes electric. She is vibrant and powerful in her role as a charismatic leader. She is a walking cornucopia of ideas and is tirelessly busy. She radiates love and a certain joie de vivre. She has a seemingly charmed life and cordially gets her way. She is a terrific hostess and a great friend. She can be rather theatrical, but that is part of her charm. She is also bold and the most sexual of the queens. She struggles with setbacks, however, and when she sees life as unfair, she can become bitter. Under those circumstances, she can display her controlling and aggressive nature: “It’s my way or the highway!” She can become temperamental, even ferocious when attacked or when defending others. Her good nature depends on life responding in a positive way. When her generosity is not received with what she considers appropriate appreciation, she becomes resentful.
King of Wands
The King of Wands is a natural born leader and is at the top of his game. He is positive, optimistic, truthful, and intolerant of weakness —“If I can do it, so can you.” He is charismatic, self-assured, charming, and a great communicator, a real take-charge kind of guy. He can be an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a business leader, or a politician. He has powerful drive with strong sex appeal. The downside here can be a loss of identity without his accustomed role. Melancholy may set in or he may become a self-centered despot who is hot tempered, uncompromising, and impulsive. This behavior earns him the crown of “King Baby.”
Ace of Swords
With the Ace of Swords comes the gift of intellect, pure perception, and clarity. It signals the birth of a bright idea. Associated with law and order, it insists on truth above all as it impartially weighs both sides of an issue. It offers the choice between self-torment or selfliberation. In legal matters, check the facts and put it in writing. The sword cuts through material reality to reach the pure mind. In a literal sense, it can also predict that surgery will be successful. If the question relates to a pregnancy, a baby boy may be joining the family. However, when the sword isn’t there to serve the highest good, it can indicate that your power was used badly, that your ideas are confused, and that you are procrastinating with indecisiveness. In every day parlance, it may suggest unsuccessful surgery, writer’s block, or … the condom broke!
Two of Swords
The Two of Swords speaks of defensively going inward in order to keep the world at bay. What weighs in the balance may concern a decision that needs to be made between desire and duty. Are you putting up barriers against someone who is trying to help you? It may be a time to go on a retreat for meditation and soul-searching. The result of this kind of introspection may be a renewed commitment to restore balance and to remove mental blocks in order to become more open to compromise. You may begin by removing barriers between yourself and others.
Three of Swords
With the Three of Swords, the mind has lacerated the heart, bringing with it mental anguish, heartbreak, and suffering. You may be torturing yourself mentally over a complicated relationship, a betrayal, or a failed affair. Then again, it may be you who is bringing sorrow to someone else. In rare cases, the Three of Swords may predict the possibility of a heart attack. If that is the case, this will serve as a reminder to make better decisions concerning your health. More optimistically, if heart surgery is indicated, this card bodes well for its success. The mental process of healing will begin with facing the problem head-on and allowing the healing process to begin. Procrastination can exacerbate the pain and make it feel overwhelming.
Four of Swords
The Four of Swords is a time of withdrawal for the purpose of meditation and healing—physical, mental, or spiritual. It may also be a needed break from the ordinary worries of the day. To that end, an escape from the rat race by taking a holiday or a spiritual pilgrimage for restoration and rejuvenation may be recommended. Then again, it may indicate sleep, where solutions to your problems are revealed in dreams. Finally the card warns of staying too long in the comfort zone; this may lead to worry, stagnation, and boredom. Eventually, it is necessary to return to active life with a renewed commitment to live your life more productively.
Five of Swords
There is more than enough defeat, humiliation, and shame to go around in the Five of Swords. There are winners who will win at any cost, but at what price, glory? We see a pyrrhic victory for one who has won the battle but lost the war. The victory was won dubiously by abuse, cheating, and bullying. If you are the one defeated, it is important to avoid letting your defeat define you or mourning over losing a battle or a stupid fight. Cut your losses and move on. If there is any consolation, the victory over you may be short-lived.
Six of Swords
The Six of Swords speaks of a passage to greater understanding. It might involve a physical journey, but more likely a spiritual one. It is certainly a passage toward peace after making a difficult decision. Though the going is rough, better times are coming. Support has been offered and you have wisely accepted. You have learned what to leave behind in order to concentrate on growth and to seek a safer harbor. If, on the contrary, you are so paralyzed by conflict that you see no foreseeable way out, you may become a victim of your own indecisiveness. You may think your friends are jumping ship and leaving you behind.
Seven of Swords
The Seven of Swords is often seen as one who is crafty with hidden agendas. You may see him as someone who is two-faced, sneaky, a thief, a con artist, a liar, or a spy. He tiptoes around issues to avoid facing them directly. He acts spontaneously and impulsively when careful planning is required. If that’s not the case, then he may be a clever diplomat who understands the need for secrecy. He may even be taking back what is rightfully his or returning stolen goods. At times, this card suggests elopement or a secret affair.
Eight of Swords
The Eight of Swords is about living within perceived boundaries. It includes oppression, humiliation, shame, and isolation. You’re living in an imaginary prison, believing in your own helplessness. You may try to manipulate others by using your victim status. Your problems are self-imposed, perhaps brought on by fear of change. You may also be chained to fixed ideas, or you are intimidated by authority. A more positive approach is to work on overcoming your fears and building your self-confidence. When you realize that you are the source of your past, you can get out of your own way, admit you’re stuck, and seek help.
Nine of Swords
When the Nine of Swords surfaces, you may be steeped in deep sorrow, agonizing mental pain, panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, and the demons you do not want to face. It may also include fear of dying, overwhelming depression, and self-doubt. Feeling there’s no way out may put you on the verge of a mental breakdown. The pain suffered by those whom you love may also be the source of your grief. Often things are not as bad as they seem. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Liberation can begin by confronting your pain and fears. This would be a good time to come out of isolation and seek support, whether it is from a friend or a professional therapist.
Ten of Swords
The Ten of Swords signifies the end of a downward spiral. New life springs from the clarity that results from facing painful revelations. You’ve hit rock bottom by thinking things to death and overly exaggerating your plight in life. You’ll stay pinned to the ground if you allow yourself to become everyone else’s doormat. Your vision of the universe as oppressive, antagonistic, and chaotic may not have been accurate after all. There are times, though, when the Ten of Swords is as painful as it seems. If that’s the case, then backstabbing, disloyalty, psychological breakdown, and even death may not be out of the question. On a lighter note, it may just be time to make an appointment with the acupuncturist or get over being a drama queen.
Page of Swords
The Page of Swords is often seen with his head in the clouds and appearing above it all. He needs lots of mental stimulation to escape being bored. He is witty, intelligent, and is proficient with words and writing. He can hold his ground with adults. He is impatient with fools and intolerant of authority, since he is the self-proclaimed smartest kid in the class. Yes, he can be a precocious brat. He can also be overly critical, sarcastic, and cynical. If he appears aloof and detached, it may be attributable to his being a loner and socially awkward. He would prefer to be an outside observer rather than the life of the party. He has qualities that would make him a good spy. His suspicious and defensive nature may come from early childhood betrayal or wounding.
Knight of Swords
The Knight of Swords is attracted to causes. He is a fierce competitor and he is brave, skillful, and ambitious. He is invested in being “right.” He likes living in the fast lane. He can be very opinionated, impatient, and headstrong. He is keenly intelligent, often more respected than liked, and he loves excellence. As a lover, he is a “fly by night.” If he fails to channel his mental energies, he can start projects with excitement and end them in chaos. He is not above stealing your ideas and arguing for the sake of arguing. As he ages, he may begin to soften and abandon his cold logic for greater empathy.
Queen of Swords
The Queen of Swords knows both sorrow and wisdom from hard experience. She faces pain courageously. She uses her intellect to free herself from confusion. She can be very critical and usually sees what’s wrong first. She has a sharp tongue and can be tactless and sarcastic. In her eyes, dishonesty is punishable by dismissal. She does not suffer fools gladly. She is well educated, and as a problem solver, she is just, fair, and truthful. As a parent, she believes in tough love. She can be loving but always keeps something of herself for herself. At her best she is charming and witty, attracting listeners and followers. She is an idealist without illusions. She needs lots of time alone to recharge and regroup. With age, she may begin to soften and show emotion.
King of Swords
The King of Swords is synonymous with authority, power, judgment, wisdom, and fair-mindedness. He is often a man of law or a counselor who is tough and sometimes rigid but always objective and impartial. He ignores thinking that depends on preconception and prejudice. He can delegate authority, but his is the final say; his voice is absolute. There’s nothing personal when heads need to roll. He has the ability to unveil truth behind appearances. As a partner, he can be dominating and controlling. If he becomes corrupt, then he abuses his power and uses it for personal gain. He will argue for the sake of being devil’s advocate; the letter of the law becomes more important than the spirit of the law. He can become cold, impersonal, and emotionally unavailable. His emotional side may manifest later in life.
Ace of Cups
The Ace of Cups embraces emotional happiness, joy, loving and caring relationships, creativity, and heartfelt inspiration. It is truly a gift from the heart. At times, it may also suggest a new relationship, marriage, fertility, conception, and birth—particularly of a girl. Additionally, this Ace may represent kindness, compassion, emotional growth, and trusting your heart and, in the process, learning to love yourself. If the Ace of Cups is to your determent, it could point to a fear of commitment, unhappiness, or the end of an affair. You could be feeling new love and passion but hesitating to allow it in. Regarding reproduction, it may indicate infertility or a delay in pregnancy.
Two of Cups
The Two of Cups heralds the beginning of a new relationship. It could be romantic in nature, but could just as well be discovering your soul mate. Like all the Twos, it is about balance, cooperation, and an agreeable union between doing and feeling and the willingness to do what it takes to make it work. When there is negative energy around the Two of Cups, there may be a failure to communicate or love is feigned. Furthermore, this card may be saying that you should be mindful of unrealistic expectations in a relationship and avoid overdependence on a partner.
Three of Cups
The Three of Cups is about finding your own tribe and celebrating with joy and shared experiences. It is a happy event—a party—about teamwork and trust among friends and finding solace with them during a difficult time. Conversely, the Three of Cups may advise against overdependence on group acceptance. You may feel like you don’t belong or there has been a breakup of a group of friends. It may also point to discord brought on from lack of teamwork. You may be overly indulging in sensual pleasure, e.g., alcoholism, gluttony, or sloth. It may be time to go on the wagon. On a more mundane level, the party was canceled.
Four of Cups
The Four of Cups is oblivious to opportunity when it is staring him in the face. This may come from apathy, restlessness, depression, or complacency. There is a sense of sameness that breeds boredom and lifelessness. You may have become too comfortable with the status quo. On the flip side, you may simply need time for yourself to meditate and to contemplate, so you have intentionally withdrawn in order to find new purpose. When you come out of yourself, you feel invigorated—ready to take risks and embrace new opportunities.
Five of Cups
The Five of Cups is focused so much on what’s lacking that little or no attention is paid to what remains. You may be grieving from some sort of loss, the end of a relationship, or you may be beating yourself up for what might have been. When you are able to turn the page, you may leave your isolation and look toward the future with a more realistic view of the past. At this juncture, you are more likely to accept support from others, with a commitment to rebuilding your life and moving forward. If the loss is about the death of a loved one, after grief there is relief.
Six of Cups
Like all the sixes, the Six of Cups is about giving and receiving. In this case, it is about the sharing of sweet memories, nostalgia, or serene moments in the present as you reminisce with an old friend. You may also be picturing your childhood as a safe and happy time. In some instances, it is about caring for someone more vulnerable, whether it is a child or an older adult. From another perspective, you may be clinging to a fixation on the past, unwilling to change, and disappointed in friends who grow up and leave you behind. Ideally, you should let go of the past if it is crippling; live in the present and look forward to the future.
Seven of Cups
In the Seven of Cups, you are blessed and cursed with the paralysis of abundance. In trying to weigh your many options, you may become indecisive and overwhelmed by the choices before you. As a result, you may find that you are confused between reality and fantasy. With your head in the clouds, wishful thinking may have replaced purposeful doing. When greater stability enters the picture, false assumptions are abandoned and dreams are exchanged for reality. There is also the possibility that you were seduced by fantasy and your dreams are dashed. Cliché, but nonetheless true, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Eight of Cups
The Eight of Cups professes that it is time to leave a good thing behind and search for something better. It is a difficult decision but necessary for growth. Perhaps it is seeking greater inner awareness or moving from dogma to your own vision; it could even be knowing when it is time to leave a support group. If detachment is too threatening to your security, then you may be in danger of hanging on after the cup has run dry. Or, perhaps you are being too hasty in your decision to leave. There may be more to reap before you set out to sow on higher ground.
Nine of Cups
“Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!” That’s the watch cry of the Nine of Cups. Here you may be indulging in hedonistic pleasures: feasting, pleasures of the flesh, casual sex, enjoying the good life. In the healthiest sense, you are taking a break from the rigors of life that is needed for refreshment. Everything in moderation; that’s the key. There can be too much of a good thing, and it can lead to addiction and risky behavior. You may be in that phase of substance abuse when you think you’re still in control. Now is the time to reach out for support, leave material pleasures behind, and seek a spiritual awakening.
Ten of Cups
The Ten of Cups epitomizes “the perfect family.” The heart has found its home and is surrounded by loved ones, life’s sweet blessings, simple pleasures, harmony, and tranquility. You are grateful for the riches of life and are sharing it with others. If the Ten of Cups takes a downward spiral, then perhaps the “perfect" family is not so perfect after all. There may be domestic unrest: divorce, rebellious children, or physical damage to your home. At times this card may also represent alternative families (i.e., same sex couples, communes, or religious affiliations, such as mega churches or cults).
Page of Cups
The Page of Cups is free from responsibility so he can indulge in fantasy and develop his psychic abilities. He truly is an old soul in a young body. He is sensitive, artistic, creative, joyful, and intuitive. He’s a real people pleaser. He is the most romantic and sentimental of the pages and, sometimes, a rather naïve and gullible idealist. Work is not his forte; he’d rather inspire than perspire. He can be unreliable, given to flights of fancy, broken promises, and shallow commitments, but he means well. In romance, he can become a victim in an emotional relationship if he becomes overly needy for love and reassurance.
Knight of Cups
The Knight of Cups is a charming dreamer but not particularly good at completing anything. He is self-indulgent, chases rainbows, and is generally bored with the real world. He frustrates those around him as he builds castles in the sky. He’s hopelessly romantic but often a heartbreaker, since he fears commitment and typically escapes when things seem to be getting too serious. He has trouble discerning truth from falsehood, which makes him a rather congenial liar. Making a commitment is in direct conflict with his need for freedom and having fun. Unless he overcomes his passive-aggressive behavior, he ultimately fails himself.
Queen of Cups
The Queen of Cups combines imagination with action. She displays unwavering devotion in matters of the heart and provides great emotional support to those whom she loves. She is a loving mother and devoted to her children. She will often be drawn to care professions. In all, she is sensitive, gracious, generous, and kind. She is the first to fight for the underdog. When she is not at her best, however, she can be a drama queen, powerful but untrustworthy, self-indulgent, impractical, and unfocused. Depression plagues her. She may play the role of an emotional manipulator who enjoys getting caught up in other people’s dramas. When her sexuality is out of control, she may become a seductress or dominatrix, abusing drugs and alcohol.
King of Cups
Responsibility comes before self-expression and personal dreams for the King of Cups, but, in truth, he would rather abdicate. He is the king who would be man. He is a loving and nurturing father and skilled in helping others. However, he finds it difficult to ask for personal support. He is kind, considerate, understanding, and easy to talk to. He tends to veil his emotional intensity, but he is deeply sincere, profoundly caring, and emotionally stable. He may have a secret desire to do something eccentric and outrageous. When he turns his back on his characteristic good nature, his builtup emotions can become explosive. His repressed feelings and passive-aggressive behavior can manifest as dishonesty, untrustworthiness, and irresponsibility. In a relationship, he may cheat on his partner. He may even turn to alcohol and drug abuse when demands on him become too great.
Ace of Pentacles
The Ace of Pentacles is bursting with unrealized potential. It is a doorway that may include an inheritance, a successful business opportunity, and promises of prosperity. It is infused with the gifts of nature and honors the home as sanctuary. Relationships under the Ace of Pentacles are stable and solid, and pleasures of the body are celebrated. When matters of pregnancy and birth are concerned, a girl may be on the way. If this Ace is misguided, then what lies in its path may be wealth that corrupts or good money thrown after bad. There is overdependence on material security along with an inordinate fear of leaving the comforts of home.
Two of Pentacles
There is a precarious balance in the Two of Pentacles, though generally a happy one. If you are influenced by the Two of Pentacles, you may be one who makes multi-tasking look easy. You’ve learned to go with the flow and be in the moment as you welcome change and trust in the process. Stability and routine bore you. You enjoy taking risk and are willing to roll with the punches. The trick in juggling, however, is knowing which balls are made of rubber and which are made of glass. You may find yourself in the position of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul; you’ve finally put too many irons in the fire and you’re suffering the consequences. Now you may be pretending to take things lightly, but the game is forced; your enjoyment is feigned once you’ve realized that while you were playing, you missed an important opportunity.
Three of Pentacles
The Three of Pentacles proclaims the integration of mind, body, and spirit in the workplace. You have achieved mastery here through hard work, dedication, and working as a team. You take pride in your work and have received well-deserved recognition in your chosen field. Your work is dedicated to the greater good and serving the community. Unfortunately, when the environment in the workplace is tainted, there may be trouble with coworkers; your efforts produce little results or you feel that your work goes unappreciated. You may even find yourself out of work altogether.
Four of Pentacles
In one way, the Four of Pentacles is holding on to money for dear life. If you find yourself under the influence of this card, material comforts equal stability and security, but you may find no joy in your possessions if you’re holding on too tightly. “All you are unable to give possesses you.”—André Gide However, you may also have developed a very respectful approach in regard to your finances, and you are simply making wise choices in order to protect yourself from economic problems down the road. Once you feel sufficiently secure, you may loosen the grip on your purse and realize that there’s more to life than money.
Five of Pentacles
Life is extremely challenging when the Five of Pentacles appears. You may be in a codependent relationship in which the blind is leading the blind. You may be suffering from poverty, illness, or isolation and abandonment brought on by social stigma. You may be experiencing spiritual starvation. “Please try not to need me. That’s the worst bait of all to a lonely man.” — John Steinbeck, East of Eden There is such a long-standing hardship here that you are oblivious to the possible opportunities that are available to you, except perhaps traditional doctrines, which you reject. You may prefer suffering to asking for help. Yet, despite your many problems and barely surviving, you are moving forward. You may collapse under overwhelming odds or finally accept help when it is offered to you.
Six of Pentacles
Generosity and charity are the hallmarks of the Six of Pentacles. As a benefactor, you are in the privileged position of sharing your wealth. However, as a giver, you have to learn how to set limits, because takers never do. Furthermore, your giving should never foster indolence or dependence or come from a place of ostentation. If you are on the receiving end of this generosity, caution is advised when you are promised something for nothing. You may become a financial hostage, allowing yourself to be controlled by the unethical tactics of a manipulating charlatan.
Seven of Pentacles
The Seven of Pentacles takes pride in work accomplished. There is healthy growth in an enterprise or relationship. Now it is time for you to take stock before going on to the next step. As you build on your achievements, you may find that you are doing even better than you thought. Slow but steady increase is the name of the game here. Remember, patience is a virtue. If you become dissatisfied with the slow progress, you may lose sight of your goals, become discouraged, and abandon the project altogether. Time and effort will pay off. Second-guessing your efforts can lead to dissatisfaction and undermine your self-esteem.
Eight of Pentacles
Fine craftsmanship as opposed to art is the cornerstone of the Eight of Pentacles. This card may be telling you that it would be a good time to learn a new trade that requires methodical attention to detail. Satisfaction and pride come from a job well done. This is work that serves the community, and grateful recognition is its reward. At the same time, it is important to avoid being married to your work and ignoring your home life. If your work turns out to be boring and feels like drudgery, then you may be stuck in a dead-end job that is unsatisfying because it requires no skills. Therefore, you may feel underutilized and insulted by the misuse of your talents.
Nine of Pentacles
The Nine of Pentacles confirms that you have achieved “the good life” through self-reliance and discipline that is freeing. You are truly at home in the world, blessed with material abundance and a culturerich environment. You have the air of graceful silence and wordless certainty. However, loneliness may be a part of achieving your goals. So, you may be rich but alone and longing for companionship to share your abundance. In addition to that, lack of necessity breeds boredom. This may bring into question whether success and sacrifice to achieve it was worth it after all.
Ten of Pentacles
At first glance, the Ten of Pentacles gives the appearance of the established home that is secure and comfortable. This is the kind of stability that comes from family wealth and tradition. Investments prosper; property is acquired and there is harmony among generations. However, if this is all façade, then your loyalty may be more about family duty and waiting for the inheritance, rather than genuine devotion. You may feel trapped by the dependence on old money and find older relatives overbearing and demanding. You may even turn away from the family, chance being disinherited, and pursue a more spiritual path in life.
Page of Pentacles
The Page of Pentacles is the persevering student who respects learning and is fascinated by the work itself. He is practical, sensible, diligent, always ready to please, and quick to learn, almost to the point of being overly thorough. He takes life very seriously. He was born with an old head on his young shoulders. He goes cheerfully and dependably about his duties, though at times he may seem a bit shy. He is happiest among family and friends and loves nature and all the comforts that come from physical pleasure. If he is thrown off track, then he could become scatterbrained, easily distracted, and prone to going off on tangents. His love of life and learning remain endearing, minus the work ethic required to follow through. Or, he may become so obsessed with practicalities that he takes no time off to dream.
Knight of Pentacles
The Knight of Pentacles is hardworking, responsible, humane, uncomplaining, patient, trustworthy, and rooted to the outer world and simplicity. He is dedicated to purely practical matters. He is the enemy of impulse. He is the workhorse who is predictable, unimaginative, and conservative. He follows the rules and is committed to doing the right thing. He is a faithful lover, but not terribly exciting. The Knight of Pentacles can run the gamut from being addicted to work to avoiding responsibility altogether. He can lack class, become a plodder, and deal unethically when it comes to financial matters. Socially, he can be a deadweight at gatherings and a couch potato at home. Ideally, he could overturn materialistic obsessions and focus on his inner worth and value.
Queen of Pentacles
The Queen of Pentacles is deeply connected to nature and the earth. She is the epitome of the physical expression of love. She is good-hearted, nurturing, self-aware, and sexually fertile. She is a hard worker with no particular need for recognition or attention. The reward is the work itself. In that regard, she is best described as quietly effective. She is practical and perseveres through chores for the good of herself and others. She is most at home when she is gardening, doing volunteer work, or in the role of caretaker. The Queen of Pentacles can become ill at ease when she is cut off from earth connections. She may become stressed, moody, lose her self-confidence, and begin to neglect her responsibilities. Domestically, she can ignore her comfortable home, become a stifling mother, or uncharacteristically, turn into a conspicuous consumer to stave off melancholy.
King of Pentacles
The King of Pentacles is a successful business or professional man. He wants the best that can be afforded comfortably. He has the Midas touch with money; he’ll take risks, though few and carefully measured. He is a good provider for his family. He has a rather stiff outer shell that hides a heart of gold. He is old fashioned in his ways and can seem dull and flat. He has no time for frivolity. The King of Pentacles can develop an over-attachment to his possessions and become almost paranoid about losing his wealth or status. At home he can be a cold and unfeeling father. When he lacks influence or authority and cut off from his wealth, it can manifest in terms of poor health and depression. It may be followed by bad investments, accepting bribes, or becoming miserly.
orking in the theater as an actor and engaging with the tarot as a reader involve both creativity and imagination. Both arenas call upon one’s intuitive skills and the ability to respond to situations spontaneously. This allows the actor and the tarot reader to be fully present, moment-by-moment. It also supports deeper levels of creativity and awareness. In order to keep those creative channels alive, it is essential to continually practice the skills inherent in each. Once an actor has learned his craft, he continues to study even though he may be working professionally. Likewise, one who has studied the tarot and has begun reading needs to find new ways of looking at the cards and practicing so that they are allowed to speak from their many voices. Bringing the Tarot to Life offers an imaginative and playful approach to interacting with the cards and getting inside their skin. Perhaps by now you have begun your journaling and have found that new ways of understanding the tarot are opening up for you. You may have played or observed some of the theater games. In the process, you may have noticed that the cards leapt from their onedimensional surface and became living, breathing characters who became very real and accessible to you.
As you return to the activities in this book, it is my hope that they will serve as catalysts for creating your own journaling exercises and games. Make the book your own. The possibilities are virtually endless. Shakespeare once famously wrote, through the voice of Hamlet, “The play’s the thing .” In Bringing the Tarot to Life, to play is the thing! Break a leg!
Tarot Diva Ignite Your Intuition, Glamourize Your Life, Unleash Your Fabulousity!
Tarot Diva is a fresh, fun, and fantastic way to discover the Tarot. You begin by working with each card’s unique energies using meditations, exercises, recipes, spells, and charms. For example, you’ll learn about abundance (10 of Pentacles) by spending money on a luxurious gift. Tap into the “nutty” aspect of the Fool by making some Raspberry Roasted Nuts. Do you get the idea? By using Tarot Diva, the Tarot becomes more than a divination tool; it becomes a part of you, weaving its enchantment through every aspect of your life. It will help you discover your authentic self and fire your intuition, leading you to the style and energy that’s really you, really fantastic, and truly that of a Tarot Diva! Everyone has a chance to become a star in their own lives, but most don’t grab the opportunity. Don’t settle! Become a Tarot Diva— and learn to give readings, too! 978-0-7387-2604-5, 336 pp., 71⁄2 x 91⁄8 To order, call 1-877-NEW-WRLD Prices subject to change without notice Order at Llewellyn.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week