Last week I was in Lisbon for the International Tarot Month. What a wonderful event, with speakers from Portugal but also Brazil, and along with my own participation for the U.S., Lisa de St. Croix. Even as I was teaching I was learning, and now that I’m back I wanted to bring some of the exciting ideas to my Tarot on The Hudson Class. And even though most of you reading this cannot attend, I thought the ideas might be interesting.

This is actually a big travel year for me. In July I go to Brazil for a week of Tarot with Arto Tudjarian, Mary Greer, Marcus Katz, and Tali Goodwin. Then, much closer to home (six miles from my house!), there’s the Omega Institute, again with Mary Greer, plus this year, Caitlin Matthews, Robert Place, and Joanna Powell-Colbert ( Then in October it’s off to London, Amsterdam, and several appearances in Germany!


For this gathering we will be looking at some ideas about Tarot inspired by my trip to Lisbon, and how to apply them in our readings. Here are some possibilities. We probably won’t do them all, but that just means it gives us something to look forward to for next time.

1. What is the real relationship between the higher and lower numbers of the Major Arcana? From numerology, or the concept of personal life cards we know that, for example, 18, the Moon, “reduces” to 9, the Hermit (1+8=9). But how do we work with this dynamic in readings, or in considering our life or year cards? If we get the Moon in a reading does it automatically invoke the Hermit? Is it different if they both appear? Does the Hermit call forth the Moon in the same way the Moon evokes the Hermit? Or is there a subtle difference?

2. Readings are usually individual, for one person, at a particular moment. But is it possible there is always a larger context, belonging to the times we all live in? I’ve been thinking how the last century, 1900 to 1999, was the century of the Sun, card 19. On the one hand, science made great advances, and on a simple level electric light brought the sun to the night. But it also was the century of nuclear fire, the energy which actually powers the sun. Now we are in the century of 20__, the century of Judgement. What will this be like? How might it lurk behind all our readings, whether card 20 shows up or not? Let’s bring Judgement cards from different decks (it’s called Awakening in the Shining Tribe deck) and we’ll look at them together to see if we come up with some sense of this card’s messages for the century—and the readings we do.

3. Here is a very interesting idea I encountered from a Portuguese astrologer: the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, all represent large archetypal energies, based partly on their positions, but also on the mythological associations of the names they were given. And yet, she told us, these energies, which she emphasized are not physical, could not actually manifest in our psychic world until the physical planets were discovered by astronomers. If I understood her, it was not just that people were not aware of these energies in their lives, the energies actually were not active. So what does this tell us about the power of Tarot images, and how they work in our lives?

4. Here is a grouping I call the Three Sisters: Destiny Divination Desire. What is the actual function of divination in this group? Does divination simply report destiny, or does it in some way allow desire to transform destined events (or maybe just give us a fighting chance)?

5. Some may remember the biographies we did of the Magician and High Priestess (remember how the Magician was a carnival huckster until he met a woman lion tamer?). In Lisbon I decided to look at the life of the Empress.

a. What is her empire? 3 of Cups
b. How did she come to rule it? 9 of Wands
c. What is her relationship to the Emperor? Queen of Wands
d. What will she do to protect it? 9 of Cups

So how does this strike you? What do you think of her life secrets? If time permits, we will lay this out and discuss it (and I will see how it compares to what the Lisbon folks came up with).

Published in: on May 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm  Comments (5)  

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  1. As one who is just reading and not able to attend your class, I appreciate the questions and ideas you pose. Some of my own thoughts follow on a couple of them.
    #3) I am not sure I would agree that these unknown planetary influences weren’t active until they were discovered. One can track back and see their influences prior to their modern discovery. I’m reminded of the saying ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’, not so much as about ‘law’ but about the idea of influences being only active if we know about them, or are aware of them.
    I would say that perhaps since their discovery astrologers have been tracking back to ascertain what their influences or powers are, so they would have to have had a prior influence. In relation to tarot, I think the same process, i,e, observing via divinatory use how the representative energies of the cards interact with us, and how they may also shift in their influences in our lives, led to ascertaining their ‘powers, or meaning, and perhaps how they are changing in meaning.
    #4) as on who works with magic, one of the axioms I was taught is “divine long, cast short”. I use divination to discover those forces which may be working towards my desire or against it, and so determine how my magical approact should proceed. So perhaps a little of both in that it reports the as found condition and what may come of it, and what needs to be adressed to transform influences to give one a fighting chance:-)

  2. I was recently picked for a Most Inspiring Blog award, it is not a giant industry thing, just us bloggers congratulating folks we like in the old school round about way, like back when we had banner awards in the late nineties, but I did want to give you some acknowledgement. I read Doom Patrol, had the Shining Woman Tarot, and read 78 Degrees back in the day, and just love you. I am 43, old for my age, and am starting a new career as a writer, right now focusing on my blog, and the reason I chose WordPress is because I saw you had a blog here, so for what it is worth, I chose you as one of my Inspirations. I am currently reading all your blogs and doing my best to catch up to current posts that you have put out. Thank you ever so much for your words, they have been some of the best I have ever read. here is the obligatory spammy style message, but know that I mean it with all my heart.

    I picked you for a Most Inspiring Blog award, if you are interested, follow up at:
    I found something to learn from you, and though this a copy and paste message, it applies to all 15 I picked. Enjoy, have fun, and thanks for teaching me.

    • wow, you really made my day. I enjoyed your blog about yourself, especially that you are picky about food. I think it’s great that you would include that. I should do an acknowledgement blog but unfortunately don’t read enough blogs to do recommendations. I’ve been trying to limit time on the computer so I can do my writing. Thanks again, and good luck. I hope you get an award.

  3. Greetings, Rachel!

    So glad that I have found my way by chance [or is it Destiny :)] here today. i think that I have actually fallen off your e-mail list so must send you an Zoe an e-mail about this. But I can’t do in-person things this June and July as I am in Montana and that commute is just too crazy.

    But I am particularly musing about #4.

    I think the placement of the words is apt because my first quick thought is that Divination is a bridge between Destiny and Desire. Perhaps a bridge between connected communities that we have to travel between frequently. The Divination Bridge is made of our pausing in the regular pursuits of our days to acknowledge and invoke and seek counsel from the larger forces in which we are held. These forces shape our Destiny. But if we work with them, plan with them, flow with them, then we can introduce our own Desires as a strand into the tapestry of Destiny. A quick thought. I think this might merit a Wisdom Reading!

    I posted this on my Art of Change Tarot page so I’ll report any interesting tid bits from there … and when I get to a Wisdom reading.

    Hope I can make my way to your neighboring valley sometime in the fall … thought it sounds like you might be away. Enjoy all your travels.

    Be well,

    • Thank you, Carolyn!

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