Some of you may know of the online video companion course to Holistic Tarot already. I put out the first few video lectures for the series this past week. The videos supplement the study guides and handouts, which supplement the book, Holistic Tarot. To check out the course outline and description, click on the above hyperlinked banner. This blog post is just to offer some of the behind-the-scenes commentary.
Offering a Beginner’s Tarot Course
I have been pressed ad nauseum about offering a beginner’s tarot course. While I haven’t felt called to start production of materials with that specific intent in mind, as in an online multi-media course that teaches you how to read a deck of cards, I wrote Holistic Tarot with that specific intent (i.e., to instruct on tarot at the beginner level) in mind. Then when the book launched back in 2015, I created a portfolio of syllabi, study guides, and handouts to help people navigate the 800+ pages. That was my “beginner’s tarot course.”
Still I got pressed. Apparently that wasn’t what many of you folks had in mind when you think “beginner’s tarot course”?
If you haven’t watched the episode of ArwenTalks where Arwen Lynch interviews author and deck creator Jaymi Elford about the Triple Goddess Tarot, then do so right now. It’s a fantastic interview and Jaymi gives you incredible insights into her deck creation process. I count Jaymi as one of the tarot community folks I’m closest to, so I’ll disclose the potential bias upfront. I adore her, so it’s going to be a bit hard for me to not by extension naturally adore everything she does. However, I’ll try my best to remain neutral and objective. I’ll even throw in some criticism. Promise.
The deck is produced by Lo Scarabeo with art by Franco Rivolli, an Italian illustrator who produces some of the world’s best pagan-inspired art. So the Elford-Rivolli team is going to be a powerhouse. The color palette was well thought out, as you can see above, and I love how Triple Goddess uses the structure of tarot to tell the story of the Triple Goddess, an archetypal motif found across many cultures, East and West, and not just in specific strands of pagan faiths.
Holistic Tarot gets criticized for allegedly being unkind in its treatment of practitioners of craft, in particular witchcraft. Folks have interpreted my book as proposing that the magic of divination ought to be stripped of tarot entirely and that I’m telling you to approach tarot from a staunchly atheistic point of view. I wonder why for so many, life choices must be so mutually exclusive. Why does my personal spirituality let alone religious beliefs need to be apparent in everything that I produce?
The book’s tone has never been shy or misleading about taking an academic approach to understanding tarot. That is hardly a concentrated attempt to strip magic from tarot, an allegation rendered even more absurd if you know anything about my personal background. Also, I wrote Holistic Tarot as a beginner’s tarot book with a specific target reader in mind.
My intention for the book is to get you to a level of technical mastery over tarot. Technical mastery. That means yes, in the beginning, magic is stripped of the tarot the same way when you first learn a musical instrument for the purpose of someday mastering it, you strip all artistry from the practice of that instrument.
During your first 10,000 hours of lessons for mastering violin, it’s about how you hold the bow, how to string your own instrument, how to straighten your own bridge, how to tune your instrument, how to hold a whole note with no vibrato, not allowing you to use any vibrato at all until you’ve mastered your bow work, then how to master the vibrato, perfecting the execution of various techniques, rote learning, stripping you of all personal creativity and compelling you to learn technique your teacher’s way, playing boring scales and etudes until your fingers are blistered and your neck is bruised. It’s hardly musical at all. You could argue that such an approach is stripping the musicality from music.
Recently Arwen started a Tarot Tag consisting of 15 really interesting questions, #tarottag15. You can watch her original video here. I’m still a blogger at heart, not a vlogger, so I’m going to join in on the tag via blog post.
The Botanical Inspirations deck published by U.S. Games is one of the most exquisite botanicals inspired decks I’ve ever come across, and from these photos, I’m so sure you’ll agree. How lovely of a hostess gift would this be for that loved one cooking Easter Sunday dinner for you! Or a gift for celebrating the upcoming Beltane?
Botanical Inspirations is created by Lynn Araujo and the artwork is from the portfolio of painter and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759 – 1840). The copyright page of the guidebook notes Nora Paskaleva as the designer of the deck. What I love most, though, is the rich content contained in this beautiful box.
I’m so unqualified to talk to you about search engine optimization that even the idea of this post is hilarious. My own site is not well-polished, littered with typos, I don’t hire any professionals to do any of anything for me, no fancy logo that I hired a freelancer in Portland to design for five figures, no impressive webpage design, no paid-for templates or infrastructure, just me on my home desktop with a mug of coffee, WordPress login, and access to Google search when I need to figure out how to do something.
Yet in terms of getting my name out there and generating buzz, I think I’m doing okay. In fact, I’m doing more than okay and it’s a total hoot how well I’m doing because I have no clue how I got here. Well I had no clue. To write this post, I did some deconstruction and tried to unpack the path I took to see if I might be able to offer some useful insights on, err… SEO.
Damn, I can’t even type that sentence with a straight face. It’s as absurd as me offering expert advice on molecular engineering. Anyway, take it or leave it, here are my observations on how to optimize your SEO.
The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings by Brigit Esselmont is the long-anticipated print book copy of a text on tarot card meanings she had published previously as an e-book and which formally memorializes much of what had become one of the most popular go-to card meanings site on the interwebs, BiddyTarot’s Tarot Card Meanings.
If you don’t know Brigit of BiddyTarot, then you simply do not know anything about the tarot community either– meaning, this woman has a loyal cult-like following of avid tarot enthusiasts who have propelled her to the top of the ranks for all things tarot. She defines the present generation of tarot readers and in many ways, her latest book The Ultimate Guide reflects that newfangled epistemology of divination-can-be-for-the-masses camp of thought. That has become the new wave of thought in tarot, collectively the loudest voice in current modernity, and leading that camp really is the BiddyTarot culture.
The Ultimate Guide is a fresh, contemporary voice in the body of tarot literature and will resonate more with those who embody the modern approach to card meanings. Not to be confused with The Ultimate Guide to Tarot by Liz Dean (the two titles can be confusingly similar), Esselmont’s The Ultimate Guide expresses a new consciousness of tarot, which is to integrate it into everyday mainstream, to normalize tarot, and to promote the practice of personal spirituality through living a tarot inspired life.
Artist Nicole Piar has hand-painted 48 cards that call upon the familiar spirit of the cat to heal us, guide us, inspire us, and bring us joy. When I’m hit with a bout of anxiety, feeling stressed, fatigued, or need comfort, going through these cards will lift my spirit up immediately. There is a soft, playful, and gentle energy about the Spirit Cats oracle deck that will absolutely elevate your mood and put a smile on your face.
Piar has depicted these cats as kami, or nature spirits, and reflect a cat kami that is here as your guardian spirit or spirit guide. The deck in its entirety is the embodiment of a cat animal totem, which you can call upon for daily guidance, creative or intuitive inspiration, and to cultivate peace of mind.
Installment Payment Plan Available! (Details Below)
This is a beginner’s course on how to read both a Placidus and a Whole Signs astrological chart with the tropical zodiac (the sidereal zodiac is not taught in this course, though we will cover the differences between a tropical and a sidereal zodiac). Yep, that’s right. Both will be taught. The mission of this course is to get you to know how to read both Placidus and Whole Signs, even if Whole Signs is my preferred system. (Meaning, there’s going to be a bias in favor of Whole Signs…)
This course does not teach chart construction and will only cover how to read a chart that you already have on hand, Placidus or Whole Signs. After covering the basics, you will learn how to read a natal chart, perform transits astrology readings, get a sense of both traditional astrology and modern astrology, dwarf planets and asteroids included, and if I’ll be damned, you are going to have one rock solid foundation in Western astrology that won’t be beat.
Competitive in content, by scope and depth, to beginner astrology courses that cost in the hundreds, Astrology Course for Beginners is intended to be budget-friendly, so everyone can learn how to simplify the complexities of Western astrology.
The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner was first published in 2013 but has recently resurfaced in a surge of popularity. I speculate that it might be attributed to the recent rise in interest for the intersection of tarot and psychology and use of tarot in life coaching. That particular facet of tarot practice is on trend right now, so perhaps that’s why there’s this collective revisit of Matzner’s treasure trove of a book.
Matzner is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, life coach, adjunct professor, and published author. His other works include Male Bodies, Women’s Souls: Personal Narratives of Thailand’s Transgendered Youth and The Buddha Diet: A Guide for Creating a Positive Relationship with Food and Eating. You can read Matzner’s full biography and background here.
By the way, I also came across the podcast interview of Matzner on psychology, self-care, and the tarot. The theme of the podcast is centered on the intersection of tarot and psychology. You can listen to it here, on The Hermit’s Lamp podcast.
The Tarot Activity Book is an indispensable resource to be included on any tarot enthusiast’s bookshelf and I maintain this stance for several reasons. The prompts in the book help you to build relationships, not just a relationship with yourself, relationship with others if you work through the exercises collaboratively in a group setting, but also your relationship with any particular tarot deck.
One of my favorite uses for this book is to follow a handful of the exercises with a newly acquired tarot (or even oracle) deck that I want to connect with better. Although maybe not shadow work per se, many of these prompts are incredible for personal reflection and rumination, so they’re great to incorporate into your private journaling, especially if you’re trying to wrap your head space around a particular situation.