Gaining Clarity By Using Multiple Tarot and Oracle Decks

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The Fortuneteller, Mikhail Vrubel

In the past on my own blog I’ve talked about the fundamental differences between tarot cards and oracle decks. I’ve also shared here about how I complement my tarot readings by using other systems of divination such as the I-Ching. Now I’d like to explore how readers use multiple decks of cards in the same reading or in multiple readings on the same issue.

Most of the cartomancers I know own several, if not several dozen, different decks of cards. And most of them, if they aren’t outright card collectors, own different types of decks, not only tarot. Card readers often use various decks to suit their mood, question, or need, such as playing card decks or oracles like the Lenormand or the Vera Sibilla.

Sometimes, a reading will end by presenting additional issues that need further depth to fully clarify. Perhaps the initial question was something that was already generally understood, and the cards nudge the recipient of the reading to push a bit more to get to the real nitty gritty. That happened to me in a reading today, where I was left with an overabundance of swords (!) and not knowing how to proceed or handle that, given that the initial scope of the reading was already complete. You can see this reading at my post What To Ask When You Don’t Know What To Ask.

I’m going to explore this issue further by using a combination of card decks.

First, I want to spend some more time with my newest deck, Rebecca Schoenecker’s Creatures of the Moon oracle.

When you want to gain clarity into a murky issue, it can be helpful to start with a broad question to an oracle to gain a general overview of the scenario and its main theme or themes in your current life path.

Referring back to my previous reading, I ask:

“What are the cards Judgement, 10 of Swords and 8 of Swords trying to tell me about what’s coming into my life now?”

Rebecca’s deck is a unique double-sided one, with a moon side and a creature side. I got it because one of my aims this year is to connect more deeply with the moon cycles and learn about their different energies.

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On the moon side, I got Waning Moon Fourteen. Even though I don’t know much about the moon cycles yet and haven’t used this deck much yet, I can immediately see how the super narrow sliver of a waning moon could easily symbolize the closing of a chapter shown in the 10 of Swords and the step just before the deep transformation and rebirth of Judgement.

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As for the creature side, I got the snake of Courage, and this also comes as no surprise because all those swords look mighty challenging, especially the work that will be required to step out of the psychological limitations I’ve imposed on myself shown in the 8 of Swords. And it goes without saying that answering the clarion call of Judgement requires a huge dose of courage; how else might one have the audacity and strength to rise up from the proverbial dead?

Rebecca’s deck comes with a lush full-color, 296-page LWB (which is neither white nor little). Waning Moon Fourteen is in fact the last waning moon card in the deck. Rebecca says that Waning Moon Fourteen is the skin of Snake. The story of Snake perfectly reflects that of Judgement in my previous reading:

The uncomfortable process of shedding your skin shows that as Snake, you are filled with true grit. You need to trust that change may not be clear, but that the end results clothe a new you.

In fact, the people who rise up from their tombs on the Judgement card are of course unclothed. Rebecca also mentions the symbolism of the ouroboros and the cyclical nature of life and death. Metaphorically speaking, this oracle card reflects Judgement and further indicates a transformative process. She says the message of Snake is to embrace change with courage.

Already now I have more food for thought and reflection. I can move further in this process by bringing in the Lenormand. Even a simple three-card spread can give some information. I learned the following easy spread from Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin’s Learning Lenormand, which I found to be a good beginner book for me.

For this reading, I decide to charge the Lady card to represent me. The process involves taking the card out of the deck and concentrating on it for a moment to “charge” it. Then, shuffling and cutting as normal, after which, you go through the cards face-up until you find the charged card, in this case, the Lady. You then lay the card before it and after it on each side and you have your three-card spread. (You can increase the cards as you wish, for a five, seven, or larger card spread).

I ask the cards:

“In what area of my life is this upcoming transformation going to manifest?”

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Fish + Lady + Garden

The fish represent money, generally speaking, and increased material abundance in terms of projects. The Garden is about being social and expanding networking and opportunities with others. It could be that change is coming in terms of increased money from work through more contacts.

I expanded it out two cards further and got:

Mountain + Fish + Lady + Garden + Tower

Perhaps this money/social transformation is couched within overcoming an obstacle or sticking point and then needing to become more strategic and long-range visionary in overseeing my career, without isolating myself. Tower can also indicate security from risks and thus could be the natural outgrowth of a transformation towards increased material abundance in work and widened social contacts.

All true things. And, all things I’m aware of but don’t feel the ambition or energy to pursue at the moment. (Maybe that’s why Judgement needs to trumpet his horn and get me to rise up from my “dead” position. But I’m tired!)

Further questions can abound, especially regarding how to best approach the transformation and work with it to bring it successfully about.

When you need additional clarity on a reading, don’t be hesitant about bringing out different decks and different oracles. It can be eye-opening to see how the same message and themes are expressed across different vehicles. You’ll also increase your symbolic vocabulary as well as your ability to translate the imagery of the cards into practical, everyday scenarios. Plus, you’ll be practicing through different mediums which increases your overall cartomantic fluency.

Your thoughts?

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Could You Help Us Create a New Queen of Cups?

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Yes… That’s the original painting you’re seeing here. Poorly photographed by yours truly in a dark room with no flash, so there you go. As for the how… it was a few months ago, at the Biennalle in Venice. As some of you might recall, a few of the Original paintings for the Thoth deck were part of the main exhibition, the aptly titled “The Encyclopedic Palace” or, as I prefer to call it, the En-Cyclop-Edic(t) Palace, a truly wonderful showcase of what human imagination is capable of.

Anyway, the subject of this post is not to talk about the show, but to tell you about a wonderful reading I had the privilege of giving today. Or, more up to the point, of one of the themes that got asked.

The consultation started as I usually start with my readings. “What is the most important thing I need to know right now” which then evolved into various particular questions regarding the querent’s life, a young woman in her thirties. At the end, when we were about to close the session, she popped out the question “Should I let Magic back into my life?” (Actually, the exact word she used was “Esoterism”, but what she really meant was Magick, as the cards so plainly expressed).

So I drew three cards from my ever so faithful Thoth deck and got

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And as always, the cards seek for themselves, and better than any words could do. We have Queen of Swords / Ace of Wands / Ten of Disks. And here’s the first special thing about the reading: you’ve got the cards that both open and close the Minor Arcana in a three card reading!!! And both of them have a representation of the Cabalistic Tree of Life. As tongues of fire, in the upper half of the Ace of Wands, or as metal coins filling out the ten of disks. She was offered a choice. A choice between the Ace of Wands and the Ten of Disks. Between the Primordial Fire and the security of the mundane; the gift of creativity or the security of the Earth. The vibrant ascending energy of the Wands or the dull free-falling coins. It was one of those questions where you really can’t give an answer, rather you should point out the available paths and where they might lead you. Which was exactly what I did.

But then I got curious. What would happen if she did indeed embrace Magick back into her life? I shuffled the deck a little more and got for the reading the King of Cups / Three of Cups / Queen of Cups.

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What an odd thing to get. The Royal Couple of Cups with the Three of Cups in between… Her attention was first drawn into the three of cups, which she saw as “Light”. Never-ending light. To which I added the balance of the card. It’s an odd number (three) but every element is placed in such a way that the picture is balanced. And then there’s the never ending flow of waters and the cups made of raspberries and you have this feeling of fulfillment, of nurture it truly feels like the Lord of Abundance, as Crowley put it. And the Queen of Cups, I could only see it as a preliminary stage into what could one day become a High Priestess.

Have you ever wondered how some cards seem to repeat the same themes with the same motives over and over? This is how it felt when I saw this Queen of Cups. As an embryo for something that can turn out to be truly special. Here’s the two cards side by side:

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And these two cards, which were laid side by side so that she could see what I meant, had such a mesmerizing effect that she ended up taking both cards with her. She just couldn’t stop watching.

Getting to the gist of the post, here’s what I wanted to do today. To ask you, friends and readers and all tarotists or otherwise magickal people (which, of course means every single one of you) to write down one or two sentences in the comments below about  what it means for you to let magick inside of your lives.

Why? The magickal scene here in Portugal is appalling. Even though we are one of the oldest countries in Europe and even though we had contact with practically every major magickal culture there is in the world (African, Indian, Arabic, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Pre-Colombian, Chinese, Japanese, Norse, Gaelic, etc, etc), what most people have access to is a mash of wishy washy New Age/Saint Cyprian kind of thing. The low level Esoterica. Something that doesn’t really translate all the vibrancy and life of that Ace of Wands. Or the soft energy of that Queen of Cups.

It can be a poem. It can be an observation. Or a thought. It can be whatever you want. A gift from all of us to someone who through a tarot reading rediscovered a spark within herself.

A Vision of an Emperor

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The description of the tarot cards as “pictures printed out in paper” has become increasingly common in recent years. It is an apt description, and one prone to take the mystery out of what we do, and present it as an activity which anyone can do. As card readers, we do know that anyone can read them. We all managed to learn them, regardless of our background, our education, our “sensitivity” to spiritual planes. We learnt that there were keywords that could frame the picture. And we learnt that if those keywords couldn’t be used for whatever reason, we could always go back to the image, and search it (and our unconscious) for some more.
With time, this reading process starts to become easier, as we tune in with the frequency of the cards. Little by little, the walls start tumbling down. And there comes a time when the images and its meanings break out of the “fourth wall” and start to take a life of its own in our own reality. As if they are crossing over from their pictorial reality into this Universe and are taking shape. Shapes of people; shapes of objects; shapes of places, etc. And that is something that when you start to notice, it can take a life of its own. You start looking at buildings and seeing this little part that resemble symbols from the minor arcana. Or situations, that immediately bring to mind something portrayed in the cards.
For me, it’s people. It is not uncommon for me, to look at someone and notice something that instantly makes me think about a certain card. Some people will remind me of Court cards; others, of characters that appear in the minor arcana and others still, of the major arcana figures. And as I usually work with the Rider-Waite deck, which was the deck I started with and the one closest to my heart, this type of exercise becomes even easier.
A few days ago, I was walking in a garden. There were some people there, playing domino, others just sitting in benches passing the time. One in particular, caught my attention. One of the old guys playing domino.
He was somewhat old and his face was stern. That’s the first thing I’ve noticed. His stern face. He was playing dominoes in the garden and you could see, from the way that he moved, that he knew very well what he was doing. He moved with certainty, placing pieces around like they belonged there. You could see that his face was calm and his eyes gleamed. There was conviction in his stare, like he already knew he was going to win and it was just a matter of time before it happened.

There was no chair. Rather a garden bench. He would move, back and forth, going backwards and raising a hand into his chin; the other, resting on his lap. He would go forth to place another domino piece. One hand only, his eyes fixed on the exact place he would put the piece down. Then going back. And forth. And back again.
There was no armor. Or maybe there was. Not a physical armor, but the way he would act.  Sometimes, he would tell a joke, and then he would laugh, melting for a few moments that severity in his expression. But the game was never forgotten, and the concentration would soon reappear.
 There were no rams there, obviously. No dogs, no animals. But there was no need.
The Emperor card might speak to us of various things: of courage, will to win, confidence. Of spoiled brats and determined individuals. It tells us of someone who wants something and is going after it no matter what. Of anyone success driven. But there is also a joy to live, to experience, that is common to the Fire cards. Every moment should be savored and every battle should be won.
And here I was seeing my little emperor… ruler of his own kingdom – it might not be more than some garden benches, a table and a few domino pieces, but he sure made good use of them. There were his partners, or maybe subjects, whose role would be providing him with a game to be played and, of course, won. For this game was his whole world.
I always enjoy seeing something like this. A little fiction playing itself right before my eyes. In a way, it tells me that I can visualize an aspect of the card, establishing a connection with its image. As the fictions change, so to does my understanding of the card changes. And, what’s probably more important to me, the card looses its esoteric meaning and gains something else. Something more concrete: it tells us of how it would play out in a day-to-day scenario. No keywords, no mythological stories and fables. Just plain day-to-day situations. Knowledge that we can then bring to our work and help ground our readings.
There is an exercise which we, as students would make, which is to imagine how would a certain character behave. This is nothing more than a variant of it. You’re not going to imagine, you’re going to see it, to examine it with your own eyes. And by doing this, you will start to take your own conclusions about meanings and situations related to each card of your deck. For each card has a way to present itself. And better than phrases and words in a book, nothing beats real-life observation and connecting what we see with our cards. With this method, you’re going from the statistical to the personal. You’re building your own vocabulary and your own references. You’re building your own relationship with the cards.

The Great and Marvelous Tarot Game of the Goose

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Have guests over and don’t know how to entertain them?

Tired of the same old games, which don’t bring anything new?

Want to know every dirty little secret your friends and acquaintances have, without too much trouble??

Want to astonish and mesmerize everyone with the depths of your arcane knowledge?

Say no more!!! Check out our new game, The Great and Marvelous Tarot Game of the Goose, designed by our own Myristic Miguel Marques to give you hours and hours of entertainment!

What do you need? Why, just a pack of wonderful tarot cards (like the utterly fabulous Tarot of the Crone, by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince depicted above), from one of your astonishing collection, two dices, and a marker for each of the players.

Give the cards a shuffle and spread them out across the table, in the form of a goose game. Three different levels available: Major Arcana, Minor Arcana or our amazing Full Deck!!!

For extra craziness, you can also add a few white cards in-between, in order to make the game more challenging!!!

Ideal for:

  • inspiration
  • exquisite corpses
  • poetry
  • divination
  • storytelling
  • and anything your imagination can fancy!!!

Don’t wait any longer!!! Gather everyone around and start playing today!!!

NOTE: variant editions with normal playing cards, Lenormand cards, Rorschach cards, ESP cards or any kind of oracular deck also available. Please leave a note below with your  name and address for a complete catalog.