After 8 years of blogging and copious amounts of tea drinking, the time has come to say goodbye. I am wrapping up this blog so I can concentrate on creating content more in line with my consultancy, Whitsunday Oracle. This will still include tarot, however it will also feature astrology posts on a regular basis.
Close to 100 posts from this blog have been migrated over to the consultancy website – I tried to keep those I feel have something of substance to offer the reader, such as my Case Studies and tarot deck reviews.
I thank everyone for your support and comments over the past 8 years, and look forward to a new chapter in blogging about tarot and astrology.
This deck arrived a while ago, in a box that boldly stated in capital letters, “CONTAINS MAGIC”. While I had seen images of the cards online and thought they were powerful and substantial, I did feel at the time this was a big claim to make.
Little did I know that as I came to work with this deck over the months that followed, I found these cards to indeed hold an enchanting and connecting magical energy. It is difficult for me to place my finger exactly on, and define the timeless pulse that flows through these cards, yet for me personally, the readings I have conducted with this deck have been nothing short of magical. I would go as far as adding “shamanic” to the overall feel of this deck, though I’ll let the card pictures tell a thousand words of their own.
The deck is the creation of artist, writer and seeker Kim Krans. If you like what you see, I would encourage you to check out The Wild Unknown website for the deck and other work available for purchase.
I would describe the imagery and scenes in the cards as minimal, yet the carefully chosen use of colour and symbolism allow for a rich visual interpretation. You have to sit with the cards, and allow time to uncover layers of meaning.
I think the departure from descriptive pictorial scenes in the minor arcana is excellent for those of us who feel the need to exercise the intuitive faculty – no reliance on textbook meanings here! And while the deck does have an accompanying book, I would set this aside when reading the cards first, to allow my own intuition to work and bring forth messages – and only later check what the book has to say (this is, of course, a guiding principle in all tarot work, however I think it is even more important with minimalist decks where the lack of descriptive “action scenes” may tempt one to refer to a book first, rather than, you know, exercise that intuitive muscle).
The deck keeps with the four classic suit names, Swords, Cups, Pentacles and Wands. Throughout the deck you will find all sorts of appearances from the animal or plant kingdom depicted in rather beautiful and perceptive ways. Take for example the 8 of Swords above, showing a butterfly cocoon surrounded by 8 swords. Now this is a classic card of bondage, restrictions, inability to be free – and this can be due to the surrounding environment, or in the querent’s own mind. I love the way this card is portrayed in this deck: it shows the attributes of restriction, yet the symbolism makes it clear this is only for a limited time. Eventually the caterpillar, safe in that cocoon, will transform. And what will emerge – often from rather painful life experiences – will be a beautiful butterfly. Who among us knows this to be an all too familiar story in life’s journey? How many times have we felt so utterly hopeless, or in despair, by our circumstances – and yet, as we move through this, as time flows, and we are able to transform, we understand the power of perseverance, of not giving up.
Take a look at the Fool, a card known for foolishness, as the name suggests, but also to listening to our hearts, to taking that leap of faith, regardless of what others say: our little duckling must take that plunge and learn to fly. It’s scary, isn’t it, but learning to fly is both freeing and a necessary skill of survival.
There is a departure in the naming of the court cards, so that instead of Page, Knight, Queen and King we have daughter, son, mother and father. Each suit has its own animal representative in the court cards: Swords – owl, Wands – snake, Cups – swan, and Pentacles – deer.
The guide book accompanying this deck is written by the artist, and offers brief, succinct and insightful descriptions for the cards. I would certainly recommend getting the guide book, for it is always interesting to read the artist’s perception and insights into each card – though as I’ve noted above, allow your own mind and intuition to make a connection and bring forth the messages before reading the book.
To summarise, personally I do love this deck and have found it brilliant for my own readings. I have found that at times, the masterful use of colour is, by itself, a way to interpret a reading. In some cards it is scarce, in others abundant. When you lay 3 or 4 or 5 cards next to each other, sometimes the colour transition across cards tells a message by itself.
Finally, I must add a few words on the card stock – let me begin by saying it is excellent quality – at least in the 2016 edition I own (I think there may be later editions but I’m not entirely sure). Dear independent tarot creators and publishers, please please please do not overlook the quality of your cards. I have been disappointed one too many times by cards that are flimsy, or smell like a toxic chemical factory, or are too plasticky, and so on. I understand this may be a personal opinion, however the tarot is a tangible, tactile tool. One must shuffle the cards to use them, and the sensory experience is as important as the art, in my humble opinion.
The Wild Unknown deck does not disappoint in this regard – the cards have a nice solid feel to them, and are a pleasure to shuffle. No plastic coating – at least not that I can tell anyway.
I look forward to deepening my relationship with this deck in the years and decades to come. It is a great guide, and I think it will become even more so as I start to explore and practice natural magic, plant spirit work, and other such delectable pursuits.
This blog post has been sitting with me for a while, slowly brewing in the background. This is the first of 3 posts in this series, looking at what and how to ask a Tarot question, specifically those exploring the minefield territory that is a relationship. (Part 2 will look at the more pragmatic side of life such as work and business, and in Part 3 I’ll focus on the divinatory, or fortune-telling aspect – more to come later).
So here’s a hypothetical scenario:
You meet someone you rather fancy. Perhaps you really, really like them, though you are not quite sure how to proceed, or whether you should in the first instance. Perhaps past experiences have scarred you a little, and doubt and hesitation hold you back. Should you, shouldn’t you…. Or maybe, you are already in a relationship, but not really sure where it is heading.
At some point you decide to see a Tarot reader, and after explaining the scenario, you ask the question: Will this relationship work out? Sometimes, this gets rephrased as, Is he/she the one?
And this is where I have to pause and do a delicate dance around this question. It is not that I avoid the question – and I’ll look into the fortune telling aspect of readings in Part 3 of the series. I understand all too well that sometimes, there is a fated element to a relationship (or work, business, and life in general), and there is no avoiding this.
However, my experience, as both a reader and a client, is that in most cases, these are not the right questions to ask. For starters, one is placing a tremendous amount of power in the hands of the Tarot reader – and equally, one is disempowering themselves by doing so. The repercussions of this are vast, but essentially can be summed up in one word: responsibility, or lack of should I say.
Taking responsibility for your own actions, rather than laying the blame somewhere else (our parents, society, or the Tarot reader), if one of the hallmarks of maturity and empowerment. So, you may wonder, what should one ask instead?
This largely depends on each person and what stage the relationship is at, and also on the ethics of the reader, however here are some suggestions:
What does he/she need from me?
What does he/she want from me?
If you are in an existing relationship, you can go a step further and ask, What does he/she need (or want) from me that I am not offering (or not able to offer)?
What do I need from a relationship?
What does he/she think of me?
What are his/her feelings for me?
How do we emotionally relate? Or mentally?
How sexually compatible are we?
What does he/she hope for in this relationship?
What are his/her fears in this relationship?
What is our relationship based on?
How do we communicate?
What are my strengths (weaknesses) in this relationship?
How does he/she deal with conflict?
What do we need to do in order to overcome this issue/obstacle?
What am I not able to see clearly about our relationship?
What are his/her intentions for our relationship?
What do I need to do in order to make this relationship work?
The last one in particular is relevant to my earlier point about taking responsibility – for it’s really up to two people whether their relationship will work out or not, rather than the reader. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule, and I certainly do not mean to diminish or ignore the role that certain karmic energies play in our lives. This post, however, is more about the destiny we create when we actively and consciously work on our own issues, rather than lay the blame at the feet of some divine intervention or the Tarot reader.
If you are exploring the more psychological aspects and complexities in a relationship, here’s a good one: What was his relationship like with his mother? (or her relationship with her father?). Or, what am I projecting onto my partner? etc.
Finally, for those who are dealing with infidelity, a good question might be, what can my wife/husband be (or express) with the other person that they are not able to be with me (rather than, what do they see in the other person).
As you can see, the options are endless. In writing the above, I must articulate that I am not a counsellor or psychologist. I am a Tarot reader who shuffles the cards to help clients to the best of my ability, and that ability has largely been coloured by both life experience and experience as a reader.
In Part 2 I’ll be looking at questions pertaining to work, business, career, and the like.
I have entered The Tower year, rather reluctantly. In fact, after last year’s dance with the Devil, I’m not too sure I can handle any more intensity, but here we are. So welcome to my visual journey through The Tower, a card that conjures much fear and anxiety when it turns up, yet the energy that unfolds when we meet the Tower scenario is one we need to experience so we can be free and no longer imprisoned by our own fears or desires.
Let’s start by having a good look at the more undesirable effects of this card.
Jean-Pierre Payen, 1713
Jean Noblet, circa 1650
The historical imagery of the Tower, starting with the earliest Marseille decks (above, from 1650 and 1713, France), shows two people falling from a tower. The structure is usually shown being struck by lightning, or some other intervention that is now outside of their control. Modern renditions of this card more or less stick with this imagery. The underlying atmosphere is one of sudden, unexpected changes.
How scary must it be, to fall from the safety and security of a man-made Tower? To have your rock solid structure, the foundation of your life, crumbling, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to let go. For you are in free fall.
Sun and Moon Tarot
Tarot of 78 Doors
Tarot of Prague
Our protagonists in the Tower card are facing a situation that, sooner or later, most people are faced with in life. Some go through this experience a few times, until the lessons are finally learned. What might these lessons be?
My experiences, and those of my clients when faced with this card, essentially describe a situation of our own making, yet one that, once created, imprisons us. We are no longer free, when we are living in the Tower. The lovely house that we so eagerly bought, now chains us down with a big mortgage and all the responsibilities that come with maintaining it. The career that we so badly wanted when young, with its allure of power and money, is now one big vortex of long hours, stress, and a lack of free time to pursue that which truly makes our heart sing, rather than that which our ego desires.
And let’s not even start on relationships…
Anna K Tarot
Victorian Romantic Tarot
Actually, let’s have a talk about relationships and the Tower – for it comes up rather regularly where a relationship question is asked, and particularly where the two people in the card have found themselves in an oppressive, restricting relationship – and then the Tower situation comes along, and the structure breaks. This could be a sudden realisation – such as that they are, after all free to break up and pursue a different path, or perhaps one discovers an affair, or maybe, simply, they have changed. They have changed to a point where they can no longer deny that they are a different person, and they have different needs and wants, and the other half no longer meets these.
My experience is that people who value the longevity of their relationship, or its financial trappings, above their own core needs, really struggle to break free – for a while. Ultimately, and unexpectedly, a situation, or someone, comes along, and they can no longer deny that which becomes all too obvious. To be fulfilled we need to be honest – not just with others, but be honest with ourselves.
You might think after all of the above, that this is the card of doom. Far from it. It’s only an unpleasant experience because we’ve created this Tower, and for far too long, have refused to acknowledge that we have become trapped and oppressed.
Thus, the experience of the Tower is one that ultimately, for all its pain, sets us free. Some artists have chosen to show the more positive aspects of this card, such as in the Fey Tarot below, where the Tower disintegrates to allow its occupant to fly free. Of course, our little fey has wings and is already able to escape the Tower – again, this conveys the message that ultimately we are free to break away from that which no longer serves us.
Or the sexually charged Eruption card from the Sensual Wicca Tarot, where the energy is concentrated and channelled towards the ultimate act of release, the orgasm. In a healthy relationship, the Tower experience enables two people to let go of control, and enjoy each other without shame, guilt, or the need to manipulate each other.
I should also note that this is the ultimate card for the passionate start of a new relationship – is there a more apt image to show two people falling for each other and falling in love? Particularly when you see it next to the Lovers card, or other positive relationship cards such as Ace of Cups, 2 of Cups etc. I think there is an almost fated quality when this card comes up next to the Lovers card – someone can’t really ignore, or walk away from, what they feel for someone else. It’s a bit like the astrological transit of Pluto over natal Venus, for the astro fans out there: there’s no denying it, no matter how hard one tries. It only grows bigger with time, and fighting what one feels is a futile exercise…
A number of artists have chosen a tree to be the focal image in the Tower card, such as the Wooden Tarot and the Wild Unknown Tarot, below. A tree may have strong roots, but it is no match for the forces of nature outside its control. We may not want to acknowledge it, but us humans are also subject to these forces, despite our best technological pursuits to dominate the natural world around us. It is a humbling, yet necessary, insight to recognise our place in the wider cosmos.
The Wooden Tarot
The Wild Unknown Tarot
I recall one day when nice and early I drew my morning card, and shock horror, it was the Tower. Immediately I started running through every conceivable scenario of doom that could possibly befall me – until I came across the day’s news of the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand (I was living in Auckland at that time). Talk about natural forces beyond our control!
In a positive way, the Tower allows us to gain sudden insights and breakthroughs for situations where we could not perceive these before.
“One of the more positive portents of the Tower is the possibility that you’ll be cut loose from a situation that you really aren’t happy with (for example, being laid off from a job that you really hate.) Although this can leave you disoriented and confused, it can open your life to new opportunities. Many Tarot readers feel that when the Tarot card appears, something in your life is not as it should be, and that the disruptions are therefore needed to put you back on your rightful life path.” Janina Renee, Tarot for a New Generation
Well, I’m all for new opportunities and walking the right path, so I shall aim to embrace rather than dread the Tower.
A young woman sees me for a tarot reading. Her question is about her current relationship.
Being a reading about a love relationship, I choose the excellent and topical Victorian Romantic tarot. I shuffle the deck, except this time I spread the cards, face down, in front of her. I ask her to pick three cards, and leave them face down. Once she has done this, I turn the cards over, and this is what comes up:
And in one instant swoop, I know this will be a difficult reading. Anyone familiar with the cards can tell this from the combo above. I proceed with care.
I see the first card, the King of Cups, as describing her current partner. I describe the qualities of the King of Cups to her, although I don’t elaborate on the visual description of this card, since it shows a King enjoying a drink and I don’t see this as relevant in this instance.
Next, I move on to the Wheel of Fortune. Now this is a great example where this card does not bring fortune or great benefic changes – precisely because it is followed by the 3 of Swords which I will discuss shortly. Again, I keep to the core meaning of this card, which is that of a great change. One way or another, the relationship will face such a great change.
And then there is the 3 of Swords: in tarot, this is the card of heartbreak and pain. In this particular version of the card, we see a young woman in distress, possibly crying, while a man rides off in the background. I try to be as gentle as possible in describing this card and what it means, and my young querent has tears rolling down her face. To try and tell her that she is young and has many years ahead of her to find another love, is to downplay the power and genuine feelings of first love, and dismiss my client’s sorrow: this I won’t do.
When I finish, she tells me that her current boyfriend is looking to move with his family, as one of his parents recently obtained a job in a different part of the country (and Australia being as vast as it is, this is no small move – in essence it spells the end of the relationship). This, to me, is that Wheel of Fortune card at play. Because my querent is so young, making the move herself is not an option. So her boyfriend will move, and she will feel the pain of loss acutely – this is the 3 of Swords above.
While this was not an easy reading, and it was not a happy reading, I see it as a good reading: what I mean by that is, it is a very simple reading with 3 cards, that delivers the message so well and clearly. There is no guess work here, though such readings always challenge me as a reader to be compassionate and to carefully describe the cards with gentleness.
I was in the midst of a rather painful and unsettling time. It was so raw and cutting in fact that I remember considering either running away to India (an ashram looked particularly appealing at the time), or getting a caravan and moving in the middle of nowhere. The location ultimately did not matter: I was so broken up that I realised I could not remain in my current flat, or take up a full job, or even deal with people.
I simply needed to be alone and have the time to lick my wounds. I needed time and space to heal, and being in the midst of a busy city was no place for that.
I also needed some sage advice. This came from my psychologist, who put it very well: “No matter where you go, Monica, you’ll take yourself with you.”And with that, I realised I didn’t need to do something as drastic as move continents, but I still could not handle staying where I was or trying to get back to “normal”, whatever that meant.
As it happens I came across a small “bush hut” for rent. It was nestled among tress and Nikau palms on Auckland’s lush west coast. It was only a couple of minutes drive up to the local village, so I was not exactly a hermit’s cave, but still, it was very secluded.
At the time, the Tarot was a strong guiding force in my life – as it continues to be to this day and beyond. I decided to draw a card to check whether this was a right move for me. The main problem being, the realisation that I’d be alone, in a forest, at night… you know, those kind of fears. I mean, I wasn’t well enough to be dealing with people and life in general, so was it a wise move to be someplace that forced me to deal with my own issues and fears?
I shuffled the Rider Waite, cut the deck into three piles and turned over the top card from the middle pile: 10 of Swords. Ouch. In part, this card showed exactly how I felt at the time. And as an answer card to my question of moving to the bush hut, it was not exactly a yes.
I checked the card underneath the deck: the Star.
To me, the card underneath the deck adds an extra layer to the answer. Sometimes, it is just as important as the card drawn. This is the answer as I interpreted it: moving to the hut will be a really painful experience; it will facilitate the process of ending one stage of my life, and that in itself would be a difficult transition (10 of Swords). Equally, it will also be a time of healing; a time to take care of myself and process whatever I needed to; and a time to draw on the universal energy of wellness and to become whole again (the Star).
Next, I did something all tarot readers and teachers advise not to do, yet most (if not all?!!) have, at one time or another, tried: I decided to try again one more time. Just in case, you know, I got a really good card after all…
So I give the deck a good shuffle. I cut the deck into three piles. And I turn over the card from the middle pile: 10 of Swords. I look at the card underneath the deck, and it is the Star.
I will always remember this moment, because I instantly got goosebumps, and simultaneously I felt time stand still. The common advice for sticking to the original cards received in a reading, no matter how unpleasant, is to avoid the confusion that can arise when re-doing the same reading and receiving different cards. I may also add to this, consider what would happen when you receive the same card despite shuffling well a deck of 78 cards, not to mention having the exact card underneath the deck come up as well. A part of you will try to comprehend what has just happened, but alas, the mind is no match for the wonderment of magic. You’ll simply be awe-struck.
In the end, I chose to move. It was, as the 10 of Swords showed, a deeply, deeply painful time – in part because a part of my life – essentially who I had been up to that point – had to end; it truly had to end, and I knew there was no turning back, and I had to let go, and that was excruciating at times. But I also got the chance to face some fears, some past hurts, to start the journey towards healing (for that was just the start of it) – in essence the Star was also there.
I remember finishing my yoga course at night and having to walk through the bush in the middle of the night – this was at times terrifying, and other times magical. I felt, for the first time, the effect of the Moon: on a Full Moon, the path to my hut would be lit up and easy to see, while on a New Moon, it was pitch black. Primordial fears would surface up whenever I had to walk through on a dark night, hearing the critters and the rats moving around.
Yet at the same time, it was so, so deeply healing. The Star, alongside Temperance, is one of the great cards that signal healing, although it is much more than that. I got to live surrounded by nature and birdsong and that in itself was an incredible soothing experience.
I was there for almost 9 months, a perfect cocoon of transformational gestation. So I guess in the end, I experienced the 10 of Swords in its full meaning, and part of that meaning was the much-needed ending of a cycle. Which of course, when it was done, heralded the beginning of a new one – but that’s a story for another time.
I’ll be straightforward: this is a brilliant, well executed deck. It is fantastic for pragmatic questions, topics on mundane affairs, and concerns dealing with the tangible, material world – yet it is far from being a dry, uninspiring deck. In fact the only thing dry when working with this deck is the martini you’ll be savouring as you shuffle the cards from the immaculately clean kitchen table 🙂
Let’s start with the package: a well made, sturdy box that serves as a filing cabinet, with tabs for the Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, and the instruction book: a perfect start towards domestic orderliness.
The deck is a collage of retro images from 1950s Americana, complete with vintage cars, domestic bliss (or nightmare!), scotch on the rocks, a plethora of martinis, the start of suburbia and kitchen appliances, and let’s not forget the politically incorrect (that Justice card, in particular…) Strictly speaking, I am not a fan of retro vintage art, however I love the creators’ clever use of words, colour and decor that bring the message across with ease.
The design is based on the Rider Waite tradition, and, for the most part, keeps well in line with the Rider Waite interpretations.
The suit of Swords features sharp utensils that can be equally used to cut a cake or to backstab: knives, skewers, pins and scissors are the favoured tools here.
The suit of Wands is all about cleaning – now I don’t know about you folks out there, but this is a brilliant choice. As a fire sign myself, and knowing quite a few other fire signs too, I can attest to our love-hate relationship with keeping the house clean. Most of us end up hiring a cleaner at one point or another, since there’s just too much going on out there in life, than sweeping floors and wiping windows. Sure, I want a spotless home to come to, but in reality I am faced more with a 10 of Wands scenario at the end of the month, rather than that admirable 6 of Wands above.
The suit of Cups can be summed up in one word: Martini! It’s great to have a deck where there is no room for ambiguity or grey messages in a card. In the Four of Cups above, the woman is leaning away from what she is being offered: a full glass is being handed to her, while 3 empty ones sit in front of her. This is a great visual interpretation of not taking an opportunity when offered, which is something most people do at one time or another. Unless, of course, she’s an alcoholic – and then of course it is a wise choice 😉
The suit of Pentacles features mostly plates or dishes – in the Nine of Pentacles above we have, what must have seemed at the time, the ultimate in kitchen fulfilment: the invention of the dishwasher.
The Major Arcana is equally ingenious and quirky – in the Temperance card we find “a delicious and healthy combination of opposite sides of the spectrum – a heaping helping of compromise or cooperation in marriage, relationships, or partnerships. Spoon this mixture into every aspect of your life“, the little book sagely guides.
In Judgment we find a literal interpretation – still a common experience in many women all these decades later, the constant inner and outer judgements of how we look, how much we weigh, etc etc. It gives an immediate visual visceral punch: no matter the circumstance, the message is simple: you are not good enough.
Throughout the deck we find a liberal encouragement of cake making, martini drinking merriment. Heck, the devilish little package even comes with a few inviting recipes, such as “Madame Marlena’s Mystical Martini”, to go with their Martini spread, because, as the little book explains, having a dry martini will “enhance the effect of a reading.” Well if you say so, who am I to argue? I also need to point out the little book is excellent and the messages contained fit the cards well. This is no generic little white book, and the creators have done a brilliant job of succinctly getting the message across without getting too fluffy about it.
My favourite card? It would have to be the Tower: just check out how happy our lovely protagonist is! For she’s breaking from convention, she’s breaking from the known and comfortable and secure, she’s breaking the mold. What a brilliant Tower moment – for anyone who is afraid of it, for anyone who fears that limitless unknown, this is the card to see every time you wake up and face another day in the mundane mediocrity of conformity: break free, be yourself, and be joyous.
To conclude, this deck, my dear reader, is certainly worth your moolah: at worst, you’ll enjoy a few martinis and give the bathroom a good scrubbing. At best? You’ll get a deep, sensuous satisfaction of the simple life: a home in order, a garden well maintained, a wardrobe meticulously put together, a pantry well stocked, a decent martini at the end of a well lived day – even if it may all very well just be a vicarious experience and not in the least related to the actual state of your ramshackle, chaotic and messy life.