Tarot Masterclass With Kathy Hughes & Lily Wight #1

A HUGE thanks to Lily Wight for posting our conversation.  She was awesome to read for! Her site is so much fun, too!

This is a little different because I used my Shadows and Light Oracle deck, by Lucy Cavendish and Jasmine Beckett-Griffith. it’s one of my favorite things!

Tarot Masterclass With Kathy Hughes & Lily Wight #1.


She Smells of Gingerbread and Pine Trees: The Queen of Pentacles

The Queen of Pentacles, like any court card, is usually associated with a person in the questioner’s life. She can also represent an aspect of the questioner herself.  Since she is the Queen of Pentacles, she has certain qualities. While the Queen of Swords is the Queen of the modern, jet-set woman, the Queen of Wands the successful social butterfly, and the Queen of Cups the artistic romantic, the Queen of Pentacles (or Coins) is the archetypal nurturing mother or grandmother.

What do you think of when you think of the perfect mother, or grandmother? Probably a warm bed, and yummy food cooked with love, and big hugs. This is someone who is patient, solid, and reliable, someone who knows exactly what to do in a crisis. She pampers, but it’s practical. She will dish out solid advice along with tea, sympathy, and amazing baked goods.

This is a person with wisdom. In fact, this archetype is one of the oldest there is.

This is Erda, an ancient Earth goddess, chosen by Barbara G. Walker to represent the Queen of Pentacles. You’ll notice that she has large, maternal bosoms and wide hips. This speaks to her fertility and nurturing ability. Her cave entrance leads to the warm, dark womb, where all life begins and ends.  Her pentacle promises abundance and protection.  The word “Earth” comes from Erda’s name, and the word material (which used to imply rocks and plants and all things from the earth) has the same root as Mother.

Kris Waldherr chose a different goddess for her deck. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and beauty in Hinduism.  Her beautiful costumes and jewelry underscore this association. Queen of Pentacles people, with their practicality and good sense, can accumulate quite a bit of wealth. Out of balance, they can be miserly, but in balance they are generous, including with themselves, and love fabulous things.  Lakshmi is known for giving riches to those she loves, just like Queen of Pentacles people.

Please do not think that this Queen can only be seen in women.  Men, too, can be nurturing, giving, and sage with advice.

Robin Wood’s Queen of Pentacles cradles a Pentacle gently, looking at it with loving eyes.  She proves, along with Lakshmi, that the Queen of Pentacles is not necessarily an older woman.  In fact, Pentacles women can be very sensual, because of the alignment with Earth, and its material blessings. The Queen here is also fertile and abundant–she is surrounded by flowers, fruits, vegetables, and our favorite little fornicators, bunnies. Her green gown and orange apron make her one with the Earth’s grass and leaves, and her purple embellishments symbolize richness, royalty, and abundance.

Mary Guinan’s Queen of Pentacles, for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck, is also decked in orange and green. Her red hair is different from the brunette associated with Pentacles court cards, but I like it.  It makes me think of the marriage of Earth and Fire, with volcanos and magma flowing underground. There’s a kinetic energy along with practicality and reliability associated with Earth.  Her arms and gaze are open, waiting to hear about your issues. She will be a fabulous listener, and then she’ll clap her hands and say, “okay, here’s what you gotta do! Let’s go!”

Archetypes/People associated with the Queen of Pentacles:
–Nurturing Mothers and Grandmothers who are practical and loving (and men who have these traits)
–Sensual people who love textures, colors, and fine things
–Great chefs
–Pregnant women, expectant fathers preparing a nest
–People with a gift for money management and are extremely generous.

Out of balance, Shadow Queen of Pentacles:
–cold, hard parents who care more about wealth than family
–a nosy, bossy person
–a lazy person
–a stingy miser
–someone who can’t even nurture herself, preferring to work herself to sickness

A Spread to Keep You Steady

Dear readers,

exciting things. I am getting ready to embark further on this journey of becoming a therapist, and have been doing readings at the local metaphysical bookstore!


One of my favorite spreads to do to help get a feel for aspects in a questioner’s life is the pentacle spread.


For this spread, I chose the Robin Wood deck.  The Page of Wands in the center represents the questioner for this month. Once a month is a good way to use this spread.  The second card, representing the element of Earth, is directly to the left of the center card (the reader’s left. You will see). The third card is placed directly above the second and represents the element of Air.  Crowning the center card (here the Page of Wands) is the Spirit card.  Going downward, the fourth card is placed to the upper right of the center card, and the fifth card directly below it.  These represent Water and Fire, respectively.


My dear friend, wheresmytower (who also runs onerunetofindthem), who taught me this spread, places the cards in a different order. She places the center card, followed by Earth, Spirit, Water, Air, and Fire, in that order and in those positions. Do what feels best for you.  Also, depending on the reader, the elements may be in different positions. What’s important is that the Spirit card is always on top, and that the reader is consistent whenever he uses the spread.

It is also a good idea to look at the cards as a group, and see how they relate to each other, as well as individually.


This month, the questioner feels a strong enthusiasm for life.  There’s a lot of fun and shenanigans.  There is an anticipation, an excitement. The questioner is looking forward to an active social life.  In these social interactions, there will be a sharing of ideas and great support (the wand’s glow represents the bright idea).


The second card, the Earth card, represents physical and financial health in the questioner’s life.  It represents emotional security as well.  It represents how practical and realistic the questioner can/should be.

9 of Swords, in the Earth position.  The impression from this is that the questioner is anxious about changing circumstances.  She needs to take on more responsibility, and this is frightening. There is a change in how finances will be coming on, and what can be done with that money.


The next card is Air, right above Earth.  Air represents mental acuity, obstacles and how to get over them, communication, and travel.  For this questioner, the Emperor is in the Air position.  This indicates intelligence and confidence, providing a nice antidote to the anxiety of the 9 of Swords in the Earth position.


The Spirit position can indicate the essence of the matter, the aspect that the questioner can best focus on. It can also indicate an outcome to avoid or the best possible outcome, depending on the other cards. In this instance, the Spirit card is the lovely 3 of Cups!


This is awesome! The questioner is due for some celebration with loved ones. There is much to celebrate! The questioner should be proud of herself for what she has accomplished so far on this path to a new life! She has enthusiasm, confidence, and energy, and smarts. The path she is striking is a good one, and her intuition to take it is correct.


Next is Water, right next to the Spirit card on the reader’s right. This represents creativity, emotions, romance, and the subconscious.  At home in his element is the King of Cups.

The questioner, who has been apart from her fiance (not separated emotionally, just physically), will have a wonderful, romantic time with him. She has greatly missed him. Also, I would add that there is a feeling of great compassion on the part of the questioner (necessary for her line of work) as well as a lot of great, creative ideas (she has been keeping a notebook).


Last is the Fire position.  The Fire position is the position of energy and passion, specifically energy and passion made bringing dreams into reality.


The 3 of Swords, in this position for this reading, seems to show a sadness on the part of the questioner, a grief for the path she was taking, but is now leaving for other options. She feels regret that things didn’t work out with her original career path. These feelings are natural. She should allow herself to feel them.  However, she only has to look at the overwhelmingly positive cards in this spread–The Emperor in the Air position, the Three of Cups in the Spirit position, and the King of Cups in the Water position, to find solace. She is making the right decision.

Above is the complete spread. It is important to examine the cards in their respective positions individually and together. This is a great spread to do once a month, or even once a day, just to get a gauge for where you are.

The Fire’s Child

First, I want to apologize for my extended absence.  I am excited to say I am starting a new career path, and have gone back to school. This is why the topic of this post is so apropos–I feel like I’ve got the Page of Wands on my side 🙂


The beautiful Page of Wands is the perfect companion for reaching goals.  Also known as the Princess of Wands, she is the youthful, feminine aspect of Fire energy.  This is an exuberant, friendly energy.  It makes me think of the sign of Leo–fun, playful, perhaps even flamboyant, but also very committed and motivated.




The bright red hair Mary Guinan gave the Princess of Wands for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck is loose and flows to her shoulders, indicating passion and freedom.  She stares into the strong, steady flame of her torch, studying the living colors and kinetic energy.  Since this is the Page/Princess, and thus is a “youthful” energy, its appearance in a reading may indicate that the potential of a fledgling idea.


Like the Princess of Wands in the Celtic Deck, the Princess of Staves for Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck shows the goddess, Freyja, with long, free-flowing red hair. Instead of a torch, she carries a thick staff with sprouting leaves. This symbolizes the fertility of the imagination, and Freyja is a creative fertility goddess.  The Fire energy I feel from this card is warm and encouraging, like the sunshine on growing plants. Freyja, a member of the Norse Vanir, may be the goddess of fertility and beauty, but she is also a warrior goddess.  This reminds us of the dualistic nature of fire itself; this necessary, beautiful element is dangerous and destructive. Nowhere is this duality more evident than in the case of certain forest seeds. These seeds can only sprout after a forest fire, as they need intense heat.

Creativity is a messy process. It involves destroying ideas that don’t work, destroying first drafts, and raging frustration.  The Page of Wands joyful demeanor reminds us that keeping the process play keeps these fires banked and working for us, not out of control.


Robin Wood’s Page of Wands is a little girl with long, flowing hair and a row of firecrackers hanging from her belt.  When the Page of Wands indicates a person, this person will usually be a young, energetic, fun-loving little girl.  Alternately, the person may be a youthful, exuberant adult.  This energy is rather androgynous.  Whoever this person is, they have tons of potential and are very bright.  The little girl on this card has so much enthusiasm and inner glow that the wand she is holding becomes a blazing beacon. The light is strong and pure. The girl is inspired, but she is also a conduit, channeling enthusiasm and inspiration to others. She is a risk-taker, a path-maker, and a leader.

 In some readings, it may seem like she is holding a lightning rod, instead of a beacon. The person the card represents attracts luck and abundance through their joie de vivre, their optimism, and their risk-taking. The person this card represents may be a fount of ideas and encouragement.  Like all court cards, the Page of Wands may also represent an aspect of the questioner herself.


Okay, this next one is kind of unexpected and esoteric, like many of Barbara G. Walker’s cards.

Atargatis is an ancient Canaanite goddess.  Here, she represents the woman as a fearful devourer/castrator of men, with her vagina dentata. At the same time, she is offering her breasts for sustenance. I read this as a metaphor for the dangers and rewards of risk-taking, a specialty of Wands. It could also be read as a metaphor for dysfunctional obsession, sexual or otherwise.  

Now, I want to say that I myself believe very strongly in women’s empowerment. While I admire Walker’s work, I feel that this card alienates male questioners.  While it is successful at portraying the negative, Shadow, reversed Princess/Page of Wands, how does this image illustrate the dynamic, joyful, friendly energy of the Page/Princess of Wands? 

I do have to give kudos for the marriage of the phallus (seen on the top of Atargatis’ head) and the yoni. 


Reversed, the Page/Princess of Wands is a person who is impulsive, reckless, manic, and emotionally exhausting, consuming those around them.  If appearing in regards to a question about an event, Page of Wands indicates that either the event will not “ignite” or it will burn out of control.  Look to the other cards for clues, and trust your intuition. 

Ace of Swords: Inspiration and Expiration

Before we discuss the Ace of Swords, let’s first review Aces and Swords.  Aces are the cards that indicate new beginnings, and Swords correspond to the element of Air.  Swords are symbolic of intellect, rationality, reason, wit, problem solving, and challenges.  They can also signify medical care, ill health, betrayal, and sadness.
Because I like to get bad news out of the way first,  let’s begin with Barbara G. Walker’s Ace of Swords, titled, as you can see, “Doom.”

Clutching a sword, a sorceress stares at the reader impassively, sizing them up. Behind her swirl the spirits who float in the ghostly ether.  A crowned skull is at her feet, not only to remind us of death and doom, but to proclaim that in the world of Air, intellect is king. 
Interestingly, I notice, right now, that the swirling spirits look like sperm fertilizing an egg! This, to me, symbolizes that sorrow and strife can be used to create something new. 
Since Ace of Swords signifies new beginnings, if it appears in a negative reading or if you feel a warning vibe from it, take it as something that may be preventable.  After all, the sorceress isn’t stabbing at the viewer; she’s simply eyeing him warily.  The questioner might be able to use his problem solving skills to nip this in the bud. 

Beginning the cycle of Ace of Swords cards that depict a lone sword standing point-down, I should like to present the Ace of Swords from Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck.  The sword stands in the arid desert, the pyramids in the background. The culture of ancient Egypt (Isis is the goddess chosen to represent the Swords in the Goddess deck) is rich in invention, story, art,  theology, medicine, and government.  This intellectual fertility belies the seemingly lifeless desert.  Air people are gifted in these realms, and seem to be good at everything they try.  The Ace of Swords could thus be a signpost to a new interest for the questioner, one they will be particularly sharp at (sorry for the pun).
In an interpersonal reading, the Ace of Swords may indicate that the person the questioner is curious about is very intellectual and competent.  It may also be a little heads-up that this person may be more comfortable in her head than she is anywhere else in her body. This person may be emotionally cold. On the other hand, this person might be witty, well-traveled, and fascinating.
The ankh and a bull’s head glyph are etched into the sword’s handle.  The ankh is a symbol of life, luck, and love, something we cannot have without intelligence.  The Bull’s Head symbolizes the bulls of Egypt who represented Ptah, the god of crafts and inventor of the Word. Word is thought made visible, which is a fitting paradigm for Air!

The beautiful Mary Guinan art used to illustrate Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Ace of Swords shows the sword softly glowing, and vines growing out of and around the stone of the window. The brightness of a passionate intellect shines, and sometimes bursts, forth from the brow of its owner.  Athena, an intellectual, Air-y goddess (Raven Kaldera chose her as the patron goddess of the Sun in Aquarius), was born from the brow of Zeus, the ultimate idea. Her birth came with pain for Zeus–the worst migraine times 100–reminding us that Air is the element of pain and discomfort.  Some ideas are breech  births, or involve a difficult gestation. Like the ivy on the card, sometimes ideas must push through a layers of difficulty to shine forth. 
Here, the sword is in a block of stone, an altar.  Remember The Sword In the Stone, and Arthur having to pull the sword out of the stone to prove himself worthy to be king? The Ace of Swords may present a challenge that calls for the questioner to prove herself, either to the world or to herself.  Perhaps there is a job interview or the questioner is returning to school.  The open window behind the altar shows the road to adventure, and perhaps success. 

Robin Wood’s Ace of Swords is, like all her cards, rich with symbolism. What stands out to me is the location of the Sword–instead of planted, it is floating in its element, surrounded by a “brain storm” of clouds.  Or, perhaps the clouds, which form a tunnel around a flash of light, are muddled, everyday thoughts, and the light is inspiration. Inspiration means, literally, breathing in, as well as messages from the Muses.  Again, very fitting thought for Air.  The Ace of Swords can tell the questioner of coming “divine inspiration, total disillusion”  just as KMFDM sang of in their song “Light.” 
The blue stone at the center of the hilt is deep blue of clarity and calm.  It is hard to tell whether the sun is glinting off the blade, or if the light comes from within the blade itself.  Either way, the intellect is anointed–it is even crowned with laurel and white roses. The twining plants are similar to the Greek caduceus, the symbol of healing and medicine.  The element of Air heals through invention, through finding cures. 
The sword, while it inflicts pain, and can kill, also slices through illusion, like Kali’s knife.  It hacks through the brambles that form a barrier around the Edens of our dreams.  It cuts a clear, clean swath, and lets in the sunlight and fresh air.  It may bleed us, but, as Rumi says,  “The Wound is the place where the Light comes in,” where we learn love and gratitude, the greatest knowledge there is.

Undine Energy: The Healing Properties of Water

Water is our last element for our healing energy series.

The power of water (and I heard the Captain Planet intro as I typed that. Sorry.) cannot be denied.  Human beings are mostly water, as is the earth, so, when it comes to sympathetic magic, like truly works with like.  I believe it is important that we view our bodies of water as living organisms, because if our waters are healthy, it will be reflected in our own bodies.  The health of the waters also directly influences the health of the soil, and vice versa.  Water, like Earth, is a feminine, nurturing element, and, when both are balanced, the two tend to support each other.  Water signs tend to get along with Earth signs.  Emotional Water likes the steady, comforting, warm presence of Earth, and Earth is soothed by the cleansing, fertile inspiration of Water. Earth cradles Water, and Water helps Earth make new life.  Don’t think Air and Fire are left out. The warmth of the sun helps seeds sprout and the wind helps spread the seed to their new homes. All the elements are needed; it’s simply that, just as Air and Fire feed each other (sometimes whipping each other into frenzies) Earth and Water just mesh.

Water is the energy of deep feelings.  We “well up” with emotion. The sea inside can be calm and sunny, or froth-capped in irritation or anxiety.  When out of balance, the emotions become a tsunami, threatening to wipe out all other aspects of the personality, including rationale, intellect, motivation, and esteem for self and others.

On a positive note, Water is the energy of compassion and empathy.  It is the element of shared tears, and we spend nine months curled up warm and safe in its embrace.  It is any wonder Water energy, as well as Earth energy, is the energy of mothers and children, and of nurturing?

Water energy is tremendously healing because it embraces and cleanses.  It cools a fever and warms a chill.  It not only accepts but wraps itself around anyone who chooses to step into it, without any discrimination or judgment. In this way, Water is the energy of unconditional love. It’s a salve to anger, self-loathing, and anxiety.

Since Water can be hot or cold, and can exist in different material states (as a solid, liquid, or gas) it is extremely versatile and adaptable. This is where the admittedly cliche term “go with the flow” comes from.  If you tap into (see what I did there? I can’t stop!) Water energy, you will find that it helps you calmly relax into your tasks and comfortably fit in to tight situations, just as water used to mop a floor effortlessly rolls into all the nooks and crannies and covers the floor like a blanket.

Water is also the element of the subconscious.  The ocean has been compared to outer space because of all the treasures and terrors it hides from us.  We have our own ocean inside of us–it is where all our dreams and memories are stored. It is where universal truth can be discovered through meditation. It is, according to Jung, where our primordial knowledge lies, and where the archetypes dwell.  As such, this energy is transcendent.  It propels us into other realms. It carries us on its currents through darkness (and sometimes through the sewers). If consciousness is like a river, then its head begins at the deepest part of the subconscious.

A good way to manifest creative ideas in reality, or to alleviate artist’s block, is to free write or doodle–move your pen and write without any censoring or knowing where the train of thought is going. This is a good way to access that river of the subconscious, which is always brimming with ideas. When your words and shapes flow like a river, it bursts through any blockages and allows the ideas to come.  This is a good use for Water energy.  It is extremely helpful for when your imagination feels all parched and chapped.

Water is the energy of dreams and secrets.  When you pay attention to your dreams, you are tapping into Water energy, the energy of the subconscious.  These are watery visions, not always clear, like images viewed through water.  Just because you cannot see to the bottom of the pond does not mean there is nothing there, however. Looking through water helps you learn how to tell truth from illusion. It also makes you brave.  Are you willing to dive deeper into yourself?

The elemental spirits of Water are Undines. There are variations of the Undine–sometimes they are depicted as tiny water sprites, and sometimes as being identical to mermaids.   A similar creature that I think of as a Water elemental is the Selkie, or Seal-Woman of Celtic folklore.   A Selkie could remove her seal skin and become a woman, and, if a man found her seal-skin and hid it, she couldn’t go back to the water, and had to marry him.  However, even if she fell in love with her husband, and had children with him, she would still go back to the sea if she ever found her seal-skin. This, to me, is an apt metaphor for Water energy people–they always are yearning for love, and their true homes.  Water is associated with parental/child love, and the bonds Water energy people can forge are unbreakable.

If You’re Drowning

The best counters for Water are, naturally, Fire and Air. So if you find yourself feeling weepy, or sorrowful, or unable to stop giving, or having mood swings, try these:

1) Work out. I’m not going to go into the scientific proof that exercise is good for your mental state, because it is–it releases endorphins and other chemicals in the brain that relieve stress in depression. It also increases Fire and Air energy.

2) Get out in fresh air. If you aren’t afraid of heights, go someplace high up, like a balcony, a roof, or a tree.  Take a panoramic view.

3) See my entries on Fire and Air and perform the visualizations.  Air is here: https://turtlephoenix.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/energy-and-elements-air/

and here is Fire:


Visualization for Forgiveness of the Self and Others

If you are feeling lonely, unloved, or hateful, or are having trouble forgiving someone (or yourself), imagine stepping into a pool of water.  If you can step into a pool or a bathtub in real life, so much the better.  A visualization will work just as well on dry land, though, provided you let yourself really get into it.

As with all the visualizations, make sure you get yourself into a place where you can be relaxed and undisturbed for at least 20 minutes.  Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position.  Breathe naturally for a few moments. As you pay attention to your breath, you will find it slows and deepens.

Imagine that you are approaching a pool. The pool is deep blue and turquoise. The sand around it is soft and warm. If you find the night more calming, imagine the water reflects the clear sky, and all the stars in it.

Step into the pool. The water is silky, and smells like jasmine.  You splash your face with some of it.  As it touches your face, you feel a loosening. This loosening comes from a cleansing of any guilt or shame you may be feeling.  It floats away like grime, carried by the gentle lapping of the water.   You may decide to pour some of the water over yourself, washing everything away.  Or, you may dunk yourself, like a baptism, and have a little rebirth–the symbolic intention of baptism.

Imagine someone you are angry with, or afraid of, standing at the edge of the pool. This person is unable to harm you in any way.  He dangles his toes over the edge of the water. You make eye contact with him.  He asks you, either verbally or wordlessly, if he can step in.

If the thought upsets you, don’t force yourself to welcome this person into your healing pool. Perhaps, in time, with repeated practice of the visualization, you will be able to give your assent, and the person may enter the pool.

You may already feel welcoming to this person. If so, he may simply join you.  If you’d like, you can also gently splash him with the water, as well, or carefully anoint them with the water.  Don’t dunk them, as you might get a little carried away (just kidding). This person leaves whenever you want him to.

When you feel you are ready, gently rise from the pool.  The sun shines gently, or the stars sparkle brightly. The path welcomes you back home. If you are doing this in the bathtub, you can visualize your feelings of guilt, shame, and/or anger being sucked down the drain when you release the stopper.

Visualization for Greater Self-Awareness

Find your place where you will be uninterrupted, a place where you will feel safe and cozy.  Focus on your breathing, and relax. In this visualization, you are diving into your own subconscious, so, wherever a question is asked, don’t think to hard about the answer.  Let the images and words pop up to the top, like ducks bobbing on a lake. Just let it flow.

Visualize yourself walking on a beach.  The sand is soft and fine under your feet.  The waves are the breath of the world as they move in and out with the tide.  The water is cool and pleasant, and a shade of deep blue.  Around you are bountiful seashells of pearl and peach and blush.  Among them are chips of onyx glittering smooth.  As you walk along, picking them up, you notice they lead you right up to the rocky part of the beach.   The land slopes upward from the rocks here, and inside the slope, you see a cave mouth.

The floor of the cave mouth is damp and smooth.  Through the middle of it runs a little stream that begins deep within the cave.  The little stream is lined with rocks that make perfect stepping stones. You step from rock to rock, following the stream.

As you go deeper into the cave, it becomes lit from within with phosphorescent colors.  Pay attention to the colors your subconscious picks for this exercise. Pink is innocent and happy. Yellow is sunny, but can also be sickly to indicate fear.  Green may be dark and cool, encouraging calmness and objectivity.  It may also be oozy and gangrenous.

No matter what the color, you are not afraid. You feel a sense of well-being, and excitement about what you will discover.

You reach the end of the path, to the mouth of the stream, and find yourself in a magnificent grotto, lined with precious gems and stones, stalagmites and stalactites, and looking at them is like finding shapes in the clouds–quick! what form do your stones shape? Are they castles? Dragons? Reclining mermaids? Monsters with wide jaws, or wolves with wise eyes of amber?  What do these shapes tell you? Do you see a humongous cluster of rubies in their pure state, forming what you swear looks like a Ferrari?

Do the stones sparkle, or are they dim?

Waterfalls flow down the walls and into the pool.  Droplets spray up and land softly on your lips and cheeks. It tastes like ice wine–sweet and cool.  Looking at the surface of the pool, you see the colors that swirl around the edge.  Are these colors greens, yellows, and blues?   Or are they the colors of the sunset? Maybe the water is murky, and yet, no matter how murky the water is, you still are not afraid.

You step into the pool and swim until your feet can’t touch the ground. And then you dive.

You swim deeper and deeper, and as you go you realize you can breathe.  This is a relief, and it gives you confidence. If you feel a little nervous, that’s okay. Just keep breathing deeply. The deeper you go, the more you feel yourself relaxing into sinking deeper, and deeper.



Then, you’re at the bottom.

Now, what do you see?

What does it look like?

What is waiting for you, or who?

What do they have to say?

Is there an object? Can you take it back with you?

Spend as much time here as you need.  Then, gently breathe yourself back up. Imagine that each breath brings you closer, and higher, and closer to the surface.  You see the lights of the grotto getting brighter, and brighter.

When you break the surface and swim to the rocks, take a moment to enjoy the feel of the water. This is your subconscious. It is a safe, nurturing place, even when it seems scary.  It can be tough, but once you explore it, and trust it, it will be your wise coach, your friend, even your savior.

Once you are out of the cavern, stay as long as you’d like in a relaxed, meditative state.


Nine of Pentacles: Dreams Come True

The Nine of Pentacles has been showing up a lot in my own personal readings, so I think it best if I write about her (she has a very feminine energy to me, which I will explain).  I also think she’s a suitable card for around St. Patrick’s day, because it is a wish card, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Numerology assigns the qualities of altruism, compassion, and mastery to the Number 9. It is the number that signals a completion, the home stretch.  The Nine of Pentacles usually foretells wealth, luxury, and security. I also like to think of it as a karma card–you’ve laid down the foundation for your wish, and it is coming true.


Barbara G. Walker’s Nine of Pentacles shows a pregnant woman in a garden rich with blooms. The keyword for the card is “Accomplishment”–but she hasn’t given birth yet.  There is still some eager anticipation to go.  The work is mostly done, however, and she can sit back and watch as creation hits its own momentum.  This pregnancy does not have to be a literal, physical one that ends in the birth of a child. It could be a business, a degree, a novel, an invention…the list goes on.  A wish has come true, and a reward is due.

The white elephant in the garden is no accident. He is a representative of Ganesha, the Hindu remover of obstacles, the god of luck.  On his back is an offering in a golden bowl.  The woman has made her sacrifices, and Ganesha has noticed.  The Nine of Pentacles, like all Pentacle cards, is concerned with practicality, and hard work.  A stroke of luck that seems unconnected to any actual work on the questioner’s part is probably an unexpected gift for sacrifices the questioner made, or good deeds done, that he or she may not even remember, or thought was too tiny to make any big difference.  But small causes may lead to large effects, and nobody knows this better than Ganesha. He rode on the back of a mouse, after all.


Kris Waldherr’s Goddess deck shows Lakshmi, our lady of the Pentacles, in a garden, greeting a dove, the messenger of peace and good tidings. This card is analogous to the dove. It tells you that you are entering, or are already in, an idyllic period in your life. The card is rich in the colors of gold (color of wealth and nobility) and the pinks and purples of the large gerbera daisies around the border. The blessings of the questioner are as plentiful as the daisies’ petals.  The color pink is the color of joy.

Robin Wood’s Nine of Pentacles is rich with color and life. The vines are rife with an abundance of nourishing, delicious, sweet grapes (packed with antioxidants!) and deep red roses.  The woman in her garden is provided for, not only with food, but with beauty and sensual delights.  Her red sleeves indicate her energy and love of life, and her purple skirt is symbolic of royalty, along with her gold embellishments. Roses, of course, have thorns, which, to me, symbolizes that the reader has paid his dues to get to this place of joy and prosperity.

Her hawk is her messenger, the bird that connects the earth to the heavens and the gods to the mortals. But this is where the imagery gets tricky–the hawk is tamed. It’s hooded and its talons are bound by leather strips.  This could symbolize the questioner’s self control and focus. This is a good thing–it means the questioner showed up for her own life.  It means she buckled down. The golden fence can show that the questioner will (or has) achieved harmony and security in his life. However, the appearance of the hawk, combined with the elaborately designed golden fence, may indicate a self-imposed imprisonment.  The Nine of Pentacles may be warning to not value security so much that you stop taking risks (Wood 113).  It all depends on your intuition.


The illustration Mary Guinan drew for Julian DeBurgh’s Celtic Deck is the only one (of my current decks, anyway) that breaks away from the woman in the garden theme.  The sea has just enough of a wave to bring the warriors smoothly home. The man in the bow stands tall and strong.  The sky is soft behind them.  Their mission was a success. Their leader’s sword and shield are of gold, and their boat is in beautiful condition. Depending on your own intuition as a reader, or the other cards surrounding the Nine of Pentacles, you may determine that the fulfilled wishes portended by the Nine of Pentacles will either come as a result of back-breaking work, or a walk in the park.

Yet, even when I look at this card, I refer to it as a “she.” Perhaps because of the association with the nurturing, traditionally feminine Earth, and also the fact that there are nine months to a pregnancy.


Reversed: Reversed, the Nine of Pentacles means that either your dream will be disappointed, or postponed. Perhaps there are more steps that must be taken before it reaches the promise of the card. Or, there should be a change in the way you’re going about achieving the dream in this late stage of the game. It could also mean that you have lost enthusiasm for the dream, and need to do some soul-searching to figure out what it is you really want.


Archetypes: Pregnant women

People getting closer and closer to their goal

Business start-ups

a romantic partnership or friendship that can bring security and creative fertility to both parties

An artist or writer nearing the end of their projects, OR someone who is now courageous enough to sit down and take the steps necessary for the project to gain momentum.



Wood, Robin. The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book. Livingtree: 2009.

This book is chockfull of information about the symbolism of Robin Wood’s art, card by card, by Robin Wood herself.  If you are a student of symbolism, this is for you.

The Lovers (NSFW)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s look at the Lovers (really look at them, in one case).

The Lovers card is, of course, a portent of love.  Barbara G. Walker even included Eros (Cupid in Roman), the personification of love, in her Lovers card. However, being a critical reader of cards (like a critical reader of literature) involves looking at the details as well as the big picture, and reading between the lines. For example, the officiant of this marriage is a priestess, not the traditional priest.  This is not only a legal marriage; there is a deeper, subconscious connection.

Barbara G. Walker writes that since the young man is between an older woman and a younger woman, this card may indicate a choice between mother and wife, youth and maturity, body and spirit (Walker 8). If this triangle sticks out to you, by all means, that interpretation may be what your intuition is pointing you toward. On the other hand, the older woman may seem like a wise teacher, giving her blessings to the young couple. This may tell the reader that the relationship in question is blessed and approved, by destiny if not by the couples’ parents. If the teacher archetype really sticks out for you in this card, it could mean that the questioner should contemplate (or is contemplating) the pursuit of a passion, in all its many forms. They may be beginning a yoga practice, or starting a painting, or about to go on a date. This is a good omen that they are on the right track!

Venus is, of course, the perfect goddess to represent The Lovers in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck. While Venus (Aphrodite in Greek) was a goddess of romantic love, she was also a goddess of beauty in general. Thus, if Venus (or The Lovers) show up in a reading, they may indicate a surge of creative energy, or simply that the questioner needs (or is being given) plenty of beauty to feast on.  This can also indicate a person with a gift for making things beautiful.

This is where it gets racy–

Sometimes The Lovers are just The Lovers. The card is simply telling the questioner she has a crush, or lusts after a new partner. Look closely at the moon in The Lovers card for the Celtic deck– Mary Guinan drew it as a waxing crescent. This could be the beginning, or the honeymoon phase, of a relationship, and it is swelling just as the moon does.

Okay, send the kids out of the room, if you’re squeamish–

I’ll give you a minute to get the staring out of your system.

All done? Good, because there’s more to this card then privates and thingies and naughty bits, as in all Robin Wood cards.  The nudity, while of course underscoring romantic love and sexual passion, is also symbolic of a pure, unashamed state. This could be speaking to a relationship where the couple is secure in themselves with each other, or the two are exploring new things together, a la Jasmine and Aladdin. This state can also describe a new interest in the questioner’s life. Remember “beginner’s mind”? This Zen concept is defined as the purest, most open state of mind, the mind most receptive to learning. The person’s interest is unadulterated.

Looking at other parts of the couple’s bodies besides the very obvious ones, you may notice the color of their hair. Yes, they have hair on their heads. The man has golden hair, and the woman has raven hair. You may also notice that the man is balancing a sun, and the woman is balancing a moon.  They are connected by a arcing rainbow.  This is symbolic of the balance between yin and yang, male and female, bright and dark.  The masculine attributes of strength, ambition, power, and consciousness is equal to, no more or less, to the feminine attributes of intuition, the ability to plumb the subconscious, and nurturing.  Combined, this leads to fertility (as can be seen in the blossoming flowers and fruit on the card).  This fertility may be physical, artistic, intellectual, or spiritual. If the question is about a couple, they would seem to be a perfect match (of course, nobody’s perfect, but they’re pretty happy, indeed!). If it’s about an individual, this means that this person is extremely harmonious internally.

The Lovers can also mean that the person has committed himself to a new spiritual or intellectual practice.  The beloved in this case is a Higher Power, or a new philosophy of life.  It may also show that the questioner has chosen to commit to her Self, and this is a romance that lasts a lifetime.

Reversed, The Lovers card means that He or She is Just Not That Into You, or there is a lack of commitment in the scenario being analyzed.  There is a mismatch.  It might not work out.

But enough negativity.  As we have seen, The Lovers is an excellent card for, well,  lovers. However, it shouldn’t be underestimated as a one-dimensional card. It can refer not only to the love between a lover and the beloved, but between the lover and a Higher Power, a Lover and Nature, a Lover and Art, a Lover and Philosophy– the list goes on, including between a Lover and the Self.  So, if you’re single for Valentine’s Day, don’t despair–as The Lovers have shown us, Love should flow freely wherever the heart wills it, not just on our romantic partners.

I’d like to leave you with some quotes by Rumi, who knew a thing or two about Love:

When life ends we are given another.

Love is the water of Eternal Life;

when you enter that immense sea,

you will know that each drop of it

brims with Life.

We are in love with Love

because Love is our salvation.

Our guide is the Soul

and Love, the water of life.

Woe to him who cannot find the source

for his path is barred by ignorance.

Your body is woven

from the light of Heaven.

Are you aware

that its purity and swiftness

are the envy of the angels

and its courage

keeps even devils away?

You stepped on the ground

and the earth, pregnant with joy,

gave birth to infinite blossoms.

The cheering spread up to Heaven!

The moon glanced  amazed at the stars.

Sources: Rumi’s Little Book of Love: 150 Poems That Speak to the Heart.  Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin, editors. Charlottesville: Hampton Roads, 2009.

Walker, Barbara G. Barbara Walker Tarot.  U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 1986.

I thought, since Yemaja is the goddess depicted on Kris Waldherr’s Temperance (called Balance) card, that it would be good to offer more information about this beautiful and fascinating goddess (I can’t help it. I love everything watery and lunar :)) This entry from Journeying to the Goddess is fantastic! I also recommend Moon in Pisces entry in Raven Kaldera’s MythAstrology, and the “Yemanja” chapter in Kris Waldherr’s The Book of Goddesses. Both are excellent books and you should purchase them.

Journeying to the Goddess

“Yemaja’s themes are providence, blessing, luck and fertility.  Her symbols are fish, the color blue and the crescent moon.  Yemaja, the Nigerian Goddess of flowering water, bears a name that literally means ‘fish mother!’ As such, Yemaja generates providence and fertility, especially on the physical plane. In legends She gave birth to eleven deities, the sun, the moon, and two streams of water that formed a lake. In art she’s often shown as a mermaid or a crescent moon, and Her favorite color is blue.

The name for the day is definitely fishy. Not surprisingly, new year festivities in Nigeria mark the beginning of the fishing season. Having a teeming net today portends prosperity for the rest of the season. So, what is it that you hope to catch today? Cast out your spiritual line to Yemaja for help in meeting or exceeding any goal.

To bite into a little…

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Temperance is about balance, on both the concrete and abstract levels.  On the concrete level, it indicates that things are calming down after a bout of busyness, or that you have the skills necessary to take on multiple responsibilities.  On an abstract level, it shows peace, confidence, and tranquility.






The angel Barbara G. Walker chose to depict Temperance is powerful in her calmness. She skillfully pours water from one jug to another. As water is the element of emotions, this symbolizes that she has her emotions under control, but they are not repressed. They are allowed to flow. She expresses them with poise and skillfulness.

However, amongst all this order, you’ll notice that the jugs are red, the color of passion–passion is tempered and molded by wisdom into something useful. Even the trees behind her are organic, but ordered from tallest to shortest. This is not a wild card.  It represents intelligence and dignity. At the same time, it respects nature, and passion is part of nature. Those who live a balanced life must respect nature, for it has its own temperance.  Those who practice true temperance acknowledge passion.



Like Barbara G. Walker, Robin Wood’s Temperance has golden wings. Gold is the color of Heaven and riches, and is a masculine color. The questioner may be accessing higher planes of existence, and soaring to new heights. The golden ball in the angels right hand (the “masculine” hand) also represents these qualities.

The other two balls are silver and crystal. Silver is the color of intuition, a feminine color, and, with the gold, indicates the balance between the masculine and feminine, the intellectual and the intuitive, the sun and the moon. The crystal ball symbolizes foresight. Temperance smoothly balances all these aspects and qualities.

Another detail that Robin Wood’s and Barbara G. Walker’s Temperance have in common is that they are in the same pose–one foot on the land, and another in the water. This means that there is skill in the “real” material, intellectual world (the land), and also in the emotional, creative, mysterious realm (the water).  As you can see, the land is immaculate and the water is a pristine, crystal blue, so everything is in harmony.

A path leads from the water to the mountains in the background. The mountains are mysterious, but the sun is breaking over them, the future with all its gifts and challenges will be revealed. The questioner has the skills to bring their ideas from the abstract realm of dreams and wishes (the water) and into reality.


The Celtic Deck shows a woman standing in the liminal space of land and water of a swamp, again demonstrating the balance between practicality and imagination, and the skill of bringing dreams into reality. She pours the water of emotions into the golden cups–there’s that color again!–and turns the intangible emotions, fantasies and subconscious desires and insights into sources of all kinds of riches–material, creative, and spiritual.  These gifts are for the questioner.



Kris Waldherr’s Temperance is represented by the goddess Yemana. Yemana is an orisha–a deity of the African and Afro-Caribbean beliefs of the Yoruba tradition. She is also known as Yemaya or Yemajya. Yemaya/Yemana/Yemajya is a lunar goddess and the orisha of the sea. She guards all ocean life, and she also protects mothers and children on land.  The land and the sea are of equal value to her–metaphorically, the concrete and the abstract, the intellectual and the emotional, the conscious and the unconscious, are in balance.


If Temperance turns up in a reading, it means that the questioner already has the qualities Temperance symbolizes, such as control, harmony, poise, and balance, or could do with developing some of them.  It may indicate a leveling off of energy that has been frenetic.  It may also be a reassurance before a change or an increase of responsibility that the questioner can handle it.


If drawn reversed, Temperance is giving the questioner a wake-up call. Things are dangerously out of balance, and harmony is endangered. The questioner is taking on too much, or choosing a path that is unhealthy for them.  The questioner may be feeling out of control, or sickened mentally and physically. The questioner must seek help if necessary. On a smaller level, the questioner needs to look at her priorities and lifestyle.