The Plight of the Free Reading Requests

Bitstrips - Free Reading Please

So today I am going to talk about something no tarot reader has ever, ever talked about before. A novel topic, one not yet addressed by anyone. (Okay, truth: I am like the 39,458,323,492,345th tarot reader to talk about this issue. But I want to talk about it anyway.)

As a budding tarot practitioner, you will have done countless free tarot readings for folks, friend and stranger, before a light bulb goes off in your head and you realize you’re good at reading tarot and could go pro with it. So you do. Now you’re a professional tarot reader, or at least that’s what you’re telling yourself and everybody else. You have a price list up and you’ve sent out a press release or announcement notice to everyone you know that you’ve launched your own tarot business.

[Wait, hold up. “Press release? Announcement notice? What is this woman talking about?” I went on a bit about press releases in a previous post here. And here is a template announcement notice you can use to create your own to send to your contact list: SAMPLE ANNOUNCEMENT NOTICE FOR TAROT BUSINESS LAUNCH (PDF file).]

Okay, back to the topic at hand. As you can see in the sample announcement notice, assuming yours was something like it, you’ve clearly given out your pricing list and everyone knows you’re now a business. This isn’t just a hobby and your friends know that because you’ve told them. Complete strangers oughta know it, too, considering it’s clearly posted on your website.

Yet you would be a unicorn if you didn’t get any audacious requests for free tarot readings. It’s a plight every tarot reader deals with.

The Friend Who Wants You to Just Pull a Few Cards, Please, This is Important

Bitstrips - Friendly Request for Free Reading

Now that you’ve disseminated the announcement notice for your tarot business launch, the pro is lots of people are aware of your service and you are now on their radar. The con is at least a bunch of them are going to try to haggle a free reading out of you.

You’ll want to know what your own professional policy will be for handling such situations. Most professional tarot readers would probably advise you to say no and not step foot onto the slippery slope of giving out free readings. I would say it depends on how much free time you have, what makes you happy, and whether you have bills to pay.

If you say yes, then you’re enabling that person to come back to you again in the future for more free reading requests. And then what? What if you say yes for the first free reading and no for the second request? That friend will–whether she admits it or not–feel betrayed by you (because it’s basic psychology) and resent you for saying no because, after all, you said yes before. Now the appreciation for that first free reading is shot and your friend can’t believe you’re now saying no to her.

Continue reading “The Plight of the Free Reading Requests”

My Review of the Starchild Tarot

Starchild Tarot - Box Set

The Starchild Tarot is a self-published deck by the Canadian-based Danielle Noel, with the first printing released in 2014. The artwork for the deck is photography and digital collage with some illustration in a light, muted color palette. It’s surreal, symbolist, and yet blends those artistlc styles with portrait photography.

The deck is pastel in hues, dominating mostly in light blue, pinks, and purples. The style of the art and how Noel has pieced this deck together conveys the sense that each card is a gateway to an other-worldly dimension. Use of this deck for meditation or pathworking would be ideal.

The cards are a beautiful matte finish (love!!), thick, sturdy, larger in size that typical tarot decks, i.e., 3.375″ x 5.0″, and have white borders that I think work very well for the deck. I really love the font that Noel used for the card titles!

Starchild Tarot -All Cards Splayed

The deck is inspired by the New Age concept of star people, or star seeds. Brad Steiger, a paranormal author, introduced the idea of star people, humans who have extraterrestrial genes in them (maybe? I might be butchering this idea, in which case my apologies) and are an alien race born into human bodies to serve humanity through a higher spiritual purpose. Under Steiger’s concept, star seeds are more psychic or intuitive than ordinary humans. That’s as much as I’ve read on the topic and I don’t even know if it’s accurate. But it’s an interesting spiritual theory and I began my thoughts on the Starchild Tarot within the star people/star seed context.

Continue reading “My Review of the Starchild Tarot”

Kabbalistic Visions: The Marini-Scapini Tarot

Author: Marco Marini
Artist: Luigi Scapini
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Pub. Date: 2014
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-4662-0

First published in The Cartomancer, 2015

Kabbalistic Visions: The Marini-Scapini Tarot (Schiffer Publishing, 2014) is a box set with a tarot deck and perfect-bound companion book. The deck presents a Kabbalistic leitmotif throughout the Marseille or Continental tarot architecture, i.e., the esoteric deck style pre-dating both Waite’s Rider-Waite-Smith and Crowley’s Thoth. Marco Marini is the intellectual and scholarly engine behind the deck’s genesis while Luigi Scapini is the artist who brings Kabbalistic Visions to life.

Luigi Scapini is a well-known name in the tarot world. He came out with the popular Medieval Scapini Tarot back in 1988, the Shakespeare Tarot in 1996, and has recreated several editions of the historic Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi, among other notable tarot projects. Scapini has a background in both architecture and esoteric studies. He is a professor of art history and considered an academic expert in 15th century Italian art. Seeing his hand influence a Kabbalah-based tarot deck is an incredible treat and Marini could not have found a better artist for the project.

Per the Marseille or Continental structure, the deck features Justice for Key VIII and Force (also known in other decks as Strength) for Key XI with the four Minor suits being Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins. There is silver gilding along the edges of the deck and a semi-glossy finish. The cardstock is thick and sturdy, and at 3.25” x 5.375” dimensions, are larger than typical tarot cards. The card backs are reversible and feature Scapini’s vibrant illustration of the seven heavens per Kabbalistic Jewish mysticism.

Each card face depicts an open scroll with the tarot card illustration on the scroll. Behind the scroll is a solid black background that takes up roughly a quarter of the surface area of each card. I don’t like how much passive space there is on each card. I would have preferred less black border and a more attentive focus on Scapini’s scroll illustrations.

The art for the deck is entirely hand-drawn. Even the card titles and numbering are rendered by hand, which I love. The medium here appears to be mixed, using pencil, ink, and watercolor, which give the illustrations a bold, vibrant aesthetic. Scapini utilizes an ornate, two-dimensional artistic style iconic of 15th century medieval art and illustration. Most of the drawings are done in single-point perspective.

The Marini-Scapini Tarot reinterprets the 78 cards of tarot through a Kabbalistic framework, expressing the cards through the Tree of Life and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. More than its Kabbalistic foundations, however, the Marini-Scapini Tarot brings much of the two creators’ gnostic point of view to the deck. In Key II: The Popess, we see the Venus of Willendorf representing that high priestess energy. Key VI: The Lovers features the sun and moon binary. Key XII: The Hanged Man calls to mind the story of Jonah from the Abrahamic religions. There seems to be a reference to the story “The Lady, or the Tiger?” in Key XVIII: The Moon.

Key XX: Judgement (spelled Judgment in the book, but Judgement on the card) reminded me of imagery more typically iconic of The Devil in tarot, though Marini’s card description in the companion book explains the intellection for the art. The figure is female and three-headed, symbolizing the Supernal Triad. Boxed and confined beneath her is the Vitruvian Man, a reference to a 1490 sketch by Leonardo da Vinci, in the cage of Malkuth, the lowest sephirah on the Tree of Life. And yet it is here, from this position that the Vitruvian Man possesses the potential to reach the highest sephirah, toward the revelation of IHVH.

While earlier I noted the influence of medieval art in Scapini’s work, here we also see many Eastern mystic and religious references. In the Two of Wands, there is a reference to Kali and her outstretched tongue, a symbol of power and even bloodlust. Per Marini’s companion book, the Two of Wands represents the devouring aspect of Chokmah, which can lead to indescribable power and domination. The Taj Mahal and white lotus blossom are pictured in the Princess of Cups and the seven chakras of Hindu and yogic traditions are embedded into the Princess of Coins.

A meditating Buddha exemplifies the deck’s Seven of Wands. The Buddha has his right hand formed into the jnana mudra, which represents the dharma wheel, or wheel of the law. Incidentally, the meditating Buddha suspends a set of balancing scales from the hand mudra. The companion book notes that the Seven of Wands shows the Buddha suspended in the Yetziratic dimension, maintaining balance in the world of Formation. The two pants of air coming from the nostrils are symbolic of the power of breath. Thus, the card means clarity in judgment, the ability to make a constructive decision, and as symbolized by the two pants of air, great inner energy or verve.

Some of the cards feature English Golden Dawn adopted astrological decan correspondences, such as the Two of Swords, which integrates the moon and Libra glyphs into the art. Some of the illustrations are mid-century modern, such as the Four of Wands, Four of Cups, Eight of Cups, Nine of Coins, or Ten of Wands. The Six of Wands represents victory and success, but per the companion book, is also indicative of possible health matters, as illustrated with a 21st century relay race.

The standout feature of this deck set is the companion book by Marco Marini. Marco Marini is a researcher and academic in the Kabbalistic discipline, in archetypal symbology, and other esoteric studies. He has taught the Kabbalah for over 15 years in Italy and England and has been widely published on topics relating to the Kabbalah, numerology, and the Hebrew culture.

The companion book is 252 pages in length, and 5.5” x 7.5” in dimension. The book and deck come in a beautifully prepared high-gloss magnetic top flap box. At a retail price of $45.00, the set is an investment, but well worth it if you’re interested in the intersection between tarot and the Kabbalah. The set also comes with a high-gloss 14” x 20” poster print illustration by Scapini of the Tree of Life.

The companion book opens with an in-depth explanation of the Tree of Life and its structure, and a full-page essay on each sephirah. We get into the Four Worlds (IHVH; Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiah) and then the Three Ways (Way of the Body, of the Soul, and of the Spirit), upon which the foundations of the Three Septenaries in esoteric tarot are based. Building on that, Marini then explains the letters of the Torah, the three mother letters, seven double letters, and twelve simple letters per the Sepher Yetzirah.

Great attention is then devoted to each of the Major Arcana cards, tying in traditionally established tarot meanings with Kabbalistic principles. The Fool, for instance, depicts the 22 letters around him, symbolic of the Creator guiding the fool’s conscience through the journey of acquiring knowledge of the Creator’s universe.  Each card illustrated by Scapini is steeped in Kabbalistic principles and deeply symbolic. The companion book does an extraordinary job of explaining each of those principles and the significance of the symbolism.

After a description of the card and its essential themes, Marini offers a more practical application of the card with a subsequent section on divinatory meanings, i.e., the application of that card if it appears in the past, present, future, obstacle, or final result positions in a spread. Likewise, the Minor Arcana follow the same structure, beginning with essential themes and followed by practical divinatory meanings.

The Minor Arcana are subdivided into one chapter focused on the court cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Princess) and another on the decans, or pips (Aces through Tens). Finally, the book is rounded out at the end with four amazing reading systems, or spreads, such as the Kabbalistic Cross, a six card spread that resembles the central cross layout from the Celtic Cross.

The tarot is “the most ancient system of communication used by men” and is a language that can be “universally understood and accepted by humanity,” asserts Marini. Marco Marini and Luigi Scapini have come together to produce a monumental work for both the study of the Kabbalah and the study of tarot. I have not seen a more in-depth study of the Kabbalah and tarot than the Marini-Scapini.

While the publisher’s deck description notes that the cards can be used by both novice and experienced readers, the novice will only be able to work proficiently with the deck if he or she comes with a background in the Kabbalah. I would approach Kabbalistic Visions as an advanced study deck for readers who want to deepen their understanding of mystical esoteric and Kabbalistic traditions. Kabbalistic Visions is a marvelous showcase of Scapini’s art that transcends time-space with its blending of medieval style illustration, Eastern esotericism, contemporary narrative scenes, and fine detailing work that animates Marini’s staggering knowledge of the Kabbalah. I highly recommend.

Tarot of The Holy Light: A Continental Esoteric Tarot (A Book Review)

Tarot of the Holy Light, ISBN: 978-0-9673043-2-8
Tarot of the Holy Light, ISBN: 978-0-9673043-2-8

Tarot of the Holy Light: A Continental Esoteric Tarot (Noreah/Brownfield Press, June 2015) is a book that started ten years ago, and so when I talk about the long-awaited arrival of this book, I’m not kidding. It is the first volume of companion text to the Tarot of the Holy Light tarot deck by Christine Payne-Towler and Michael Dowers, which I’ve reviewed on this site before.

Volume two, forthcoming, will be Foundations of the Esoteric Tradition. The two volumes together function as left and right hemispheres of the same mind. This book review will only be of volume one, Tarot of the Holy Light (“THL Companion Book”)

THL - Book and Deck Closed

The THL Companion Book is self-published by Christine Payne-Towler and Michael Dowers under their publishing entity, Noreah/Brownfield Press. The book is soft-cover and perfect bound, and at 492-pages, is full of meat. I love the unique dimension, too, at 5″ x 7″, which makes it an incredibly compact text to throw into your handbag.

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Whispers of Love Oracle Cards Deck Review

Whispers of Love - 3 Box Set

Whispers of Love is my first Blue Angel oracle deck that comes with a matte finish instead of the usual high gloss and I am loving it. I hope they stay with this finish and subsequent decks are printed in matte. The feel to the touch is fantastic; shuffling is fantastic; I love the swishy sound these matte finished cards make compared to the tacky-sticky glossed ones; and they photograph beautifully, with no glare. Here is one high-quality deck and I am thrilled.

Whispers of Love - 2 Box Only

The Whispers of Love oracle cards were conceived by Angela Hartfield, an ascribed angel channeler, psychic medium, and intuitive healer. Per the biography on Hartfield’s website, “Her angelic assistance focuses on the empowerment technique of helping individuals learn how to get help and guidance from the angels, spirit guide, Archangels, departed loved ones and Ascended Masters.”

Whispers of Love - 4 LWB and Set

Hartfield created Whispers of Love to bring insights and messages for building stronger interpersonal relationships. This is a deck about relationships, though not necessarily romantic. If you’re trying to make sense of your relations with a colleague at the office, why your boss is acting the way she’s acting, or how to handle a minor dispute with your neighbor, this would be a great deck to reach for. Of course, if you’re seeking guidance on a romantic relationship, then this would be your deck.

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Copyright Cease and Desist Letters for Tarot Professionals


You are a tarot professional and like all other tarot professionals doing business in the 21st century, you’re on the Internet. You have a great web presence. You have cool content up.

And then this happens: You spent hours over the weekend writing content for your website and poured so much of your knowledge and effort into it. Or you went through the trouble of getting exclusive licenses to use cool photographs for your site. And now suddenly, a lesser tarot professional has ripped your stuff off your site and posted it on his own page. Your jaw hits the space bar on your keyboard.

What do you do?

You send out a C&D, fool.

Cease and Desist Demand Letters

A cease and desist demand letter (often referred to as a C&D) is basically a strongly-worded letter to someone requesting that they stop doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. It’s often used to get the legal ball rolling in defamation cases (libel, slander), alleged infringement of personality rights (such as right of publicity), claims of invasion of privacy, false light, or other claims of misappropriation.

Perhaps the one most familiar to us is the C&D notice sent out for alleged intellectual property infringement. That’s copyright, trademark, and patent, but also use of trade secrets. For the tarot professional, the one likely to be most applicable is the C&D notice for copyright infringement. Defamation and the other misappropriation claims I mentioned come up, too, but that’s for another time. Let’s focus on C&D for copyright infringement today.

C&Ds are often sent out by attorneys on behalf of their clients, and the client pays a couple hundred bucks for the attorney to drop the case file on a paralegal’s desk, who is going to open up a template not unlike the one provided below for your free download, input the applicable client information, and then print it on heavy, creamy, expensive lawyer’s letterhead. What you’re really paying for there, I hope you realize, is that heavy, creamy, expensive lawyer’s letterhead and the scare factor that it causes when someone receives it.

You can just as easily send out C&Ds yourself. It’s going to be less scary to the recipient, I admit, but sometimes that is all it will take to get the infringing material off the web.

Continue reading “Copyright Cease and Desist Letters for Tarot Professionals”