Tarocchi di Mantegna (1465) Instructional Engravings

My current tarot obsession is the 50-card Tarocchi di Mantegna (or Mantegna Tarot) from 15th century Italy. These are 50 instructional cards subdivided into five “suits” or groupings:

  1. The Human Condition,
  2. The Muses & Apollo,
  3. The Classical Liberal Arts,
  4. The Cardinal Virtues, and
  5. The Heavenly Spheres.

From 1 to 5 we see the ascent of the human soul. Grouping 1 represents the social hierarchy from the Wretched (Impoverished), Servant, and Artisan to Magistrate, King, and Pope. This is the Earthly realm.

The Nine Muses led by Apollo in Grouping 2 corresponds with the Aristotelian element Fire. The Classical Liberal Arts are the intellections that arise from the element Air. The Cardinal Virtues correspond with Water. And finally, Grouping 5, the Heavenly Spheres, corresponds with Spirit.

Below I’ve arranged the cards in sequential order by their card numbers, and by the five groupings, with 10 cards in each set.

You can click on any of these image files for an enlarged view of the cards.

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Tarot Tableau: The Fool’s Journey & Card Journaling Therapy

Click on photo to purchase book

Tarot Tableau: The Fool’s Journey (2020) by Thomas of Hermit’s Mirror is a versatile, power-packed tarot reading method based on the Grand Tableau from the Lenormand tradition. Thomas takes that method many steps further and presents a way of reading the cards that you’ll turn to time and time again, for your personal readings and for your professional client readings.

Skill LevelAdvanced

To start, let’s introduce the basic tableau, the foundation of Thomas’s Tarot Tableau: The Fool’s Journey. I’ve put together a Sightsee the Tarot video to guide you through the basic spread along with 22 tarot journaling prompts excerpted from Tarot Tableau.

In this workshop, we’ll be using the Tarot Tableau for a long session of free-writing as therapy. Writing therapy helps you to process your thoughts and experiences, which opens you up to new insights on how to get back to equilibrium, facilitate much-needed spiritual healing, and grow emotionally.

Working with your reading results from the Tarot Tableau method, you’ll answer 22 questions inspired by the 22 Major houses of the spread and after you’re done, you’ll attain newfound clarity in the situation you were inquiring about or, at the very least, understand the “why.”

22 Journaling Prompts with the Tarot Tableau

DOCX   |   PDF

Click above to download.

Print out the PDF linked above and free-write your answers to the journaling prompts. If you have a particular tarot journal layout and design going on already, you can download the DOCX and edit accordingly.

Click on worksheet to download fillable PDF

Download the above-pictured worksheet and either print it out or copy the layout into your tarot journal before you start the video. You’ll be recording your reading results on the worksheets.

The rest of this post will be my review of the book.

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The Oracle of Human Destiny: Cartomancy + Bibliomancy Reading Method

This is fun! A delightful soul and kindred spirit gifted me with the above book, which you can download a pdf of at the Internet Archive, since it’s in the public domain. The Oracle of Human Destiny (1825) is credited to someone going by the pen name “Madame Victorine Le Normand” and is written in first person, with references to doing divinatory readings for Napoleon.

You’ll need a standard deck of 52 playing cards. I opted for the pips, pages (knaves), queens, and kings from a Tarot de Marseilles deck. Works just as well.

From the below charts, decide which of these 12 questions (along the right side of the page spreads) best expresses what you want to ask the oracle. Then note the corresponding zodiac sign on the left side of the page spread.

Table of the Celestial Signs with Corresponding Questions, Part 1 of 2

For example, say I want to ask about financial stability to come, business opportunities, or employment. I might opt for Libra and the question I’ll be asking will be, “Inform me whether I shall ever be Promoted, Wealthy, or Fortunate?”

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Ciro Marchetti’s Encore Tarot (& New Media Art vs. Old Visual Arts)

If there is one Ciro Marchetti deck to have, it’s the Encore Tarot. This is the deck that fully showcases Marchetti’s talent as an artist, the consistent clarity of his vision, and evinces the magnificence of tarot art, taking what had been possible traditionally to new modern heights.

When future tarot scholars look back at our era, the one deck artist’s name I am very sure will come up time and time again is Ciro Marchetti. His style is so distinct, so unique that it has indelibly trademarked itself in the collective consciousness. I can spot a Marchetti deck by the artwork before knowing he was the creator, just as I (and all of us) can spot a Marchetti wannabe.

I’ve always been a huge admirer of Marchetti’s talent, though admittedly, in my own past I’ve been known to be ambivalent about digital art decks or, more specifically, new media art. But then that’s been a long-raging cold war in the arts community anyway– new media art vs. the old visual arts (or “fine arts”).

Marchetti is the new media artist who changed my mind. New media art is defined as art created by using digital technology, forms of digital art and computer-generated graphics. Old visual fine arts would be drawing by hand, painting, sculpture, in essence what is “hand-crafted.” However, these definitions can get a bit dysfunctional, especially when you get into hand-drawing with a stylus digital pen on a computer pad vs. hand-drawing with a pencil on sketch paper.

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Bad Bitches Tarot (Second Edition)

Fresh year, fresh edition of the Bad Bitches Tarot by Ethony. You can read my review of the first edition here. I’ll be comparing the new second edition of the deck, published in late 2019, with the first edition, side by side.

By the way, if you order the deck from ethony.com, you’ll get the platinum bonus, which includes a complimentary 10-module online course, “How to Read Tarot Like a Bad Bitch.

“The Bad Bitches Tarot is a Modern spiritual tool for enchantresses, CEO’s, mothers, moon daughters, witches and sages that brings the classic archetypes of the Tarot to a new generation of empowered women.” I love that mission statement and the deck really does deliver on those counts. For sure.

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Download Major Arcana Card Meanings

These were prepared specifically for enrollees of the Witchcraft Fundamentals course, but maybe you might find them helpful, too. Pictured above is the back pocket folder I recommend you making with the last pages of your Doctrinal Basis workbook.

Oftentimes tarot books with card meanings focus on the practical, mundane indications of the cards. Heck, that’s what Holistic Tarot did, and did so almost exclusively.

That means when you’re using the deck for readings where the purpose is spiritual (meaning, directed more toward religiosity or aspirations of personal transcendence), reading for card meanings out of a text like…. well, I’ll just keep throwing myself under the bus… like Holistic Tarot is not going to be too insightful. Maybe a little bit. (I’m proud of that book.)

But trying to make sense of Pictorial Key or Book of Thoth if you’re not already acclimated to that style of writing may be presenting a barrier of entry that we can quite easily break down right now.

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The Light Seer’s Tarot by Chris-Anne Donnelly: Healing for the Ages

Although this Kickstarter indie-published version of Light Seer’s is now out of print, you can get the mass market version from Hay House, which will be released on December 3, 2019, so stay tuned. In the pre-order stage, it is already one of Amazon’s #1 New Releases, so this is definitely a deck to pay attention to.

I’ve been working with this deck for the last month and would like to share my impressions and offer a walk-through of the cards.

Right out of the gateway, we have just the most exquisite work of art. I found the tarot art here emotionally and intuitively moving.

Our Fool or lightseer is holding an amethyst in one hand, with a subtle elemental nod to Air, while holding a walking stick in the other, which can also be interpreted as a staff of office, denoting a certain spiritual status, or potential here.

The sacred geometry below with golden light emanating upward lets us know that this is about a spiritual journey. The Fool has her eyes closed and is about to do the trust fall over the edge of a cliff into the fountainhead of Spirit below.

Click on photographs for an enlarged view.

Here’s the First Septenary of the Major Arcana. I love the continuation of the sacred pool imagery from The Fool here in The Magician, though instead of the trust fall, now our lightseer can harness energy or Astral Light from the sacred pool.

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Rune Equations by Simon H. Lilly (Deck + Book)

Rune Equations by Simon H. Lilly, an artist and writer from Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, is a 34-card deck where rune divination has been converted into cartomancy. It’s a black and white deck at standard tarot dimensions (70 mm x 120 mm) that comes with a 170-page book. The book, Rune Equations, is an invaluable reference manual on rune divination and very much worth acquiring for your personal occult library.

There are three main rune systems that we know of:

  1. the Elder Futhark or Germanic runes, which consists of 24 letters arranged in three groups of eight, or aetts (above photo, left page, top);
  2. the Younger Futhark from the Viking Era, which consists of 16 letters and is the system associated with the Norwegian and Icelandic pagans (above photo, left page, bottom); and
  3. the Northumbrian Futhorc, a 32-letter system best known as the English runes (above photo, right side).

This deck allows you to work with either the 32 Northumbrian runes or the 24 Elder Futhark runes.

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Halloween Mood Decks

Does any tarot reader not end up having to sling a ton of cards around Halloween season? =)

Halloween seems to be that time of the year when everyone wants a tarot reading. Pro readers are getting booked for spooky parties and local festivities. When the mood is light and celebratory and the veil is thinning, here are some of my favorite decks to tinker with in late October. Even when the crowd you’re reading for are teenagers, I think these decks are age-appropriate and sure to enthrall.

Each of the hyperlinked headings with the deck name will take you to my review of that deck.

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Tarot Fortune-Telling, Divination, and Life Coaching (Part II)

This is a continuation from Part I.

So what do we mean when we make the distinctions between tarot as fortune-telling, or as divination, or psychology-based tarot, or even the popular notion now– tarot as a form of life coaching?

I have a free 30-minute audio presentation plus 12-page handout, “A Comparative Analysis of Fortune-Telling and Divination,” which you can check out here. The 12-page pdf handout includes a compilation of quotes from various renowned Western occultists and cartomancers on the issue of fortune-telling and divination, some who don’t seem to make a distinction between the two and others who make a very clear distinction.

In other words, I don’t think we can say in any absolute terms what constitutes fortune-telling and divination, and whether there should be any distinction made between the two.

It boils down to a matter of subjective opinion and perspective. Maybe your perspective is that the two are totally different, and maybe your perspective is that fortune-telling and divination are one and the same, with no distinction of note. Either way, it’s just a personal opinion.

We each have to discern for ourselves what the implications of fortune-telling and divination are for us, and with all the chatter about psychology-based approaches to the cards and life coaching, we need to figure out what those terms mean as applied to the tarot.

Whether you bask proudly in the appellation of “fortune-teller” or you shirk from it and go out of your way to disown that label says more about you than it does anything about the tarot, and that’s okay.

Here are my own approaches to these terms and the distinctions I make for myself. What are yours?

Fortune-Telling

“I will tell you something you don’t know.”

Or as it’s more often phrased, from the querent’s point of view: Tell me something I don’t know. If you’re a fortune-teller, I would say you must be prepared to take up that challenge.

Fortune-telling is premised on the notion that some among us possess an ability for precognition and therefore can see beyond our ordinary constraints of space-time. Psychic ability and the four clairs– clairvoyance, claircognizance, clairaudience, and clairsentience– will be presumed. There is the potential for omniscience, but more realistically, the accuracy and the scope of information that can be provided is based entirely on the skill of the fortune-teller.

Continue reading “Tarot Fortune-Telling, Divination, and Life Coaching (Part II)”