How do I get started with tarot?

Cat Tarot Wrap, Purple Tarot Pouch, Purple Tarot Cloth, Four of Cups: This Might Hurt, Ace of Cups: Sasuraibito

Your First Deck

There’s this really pervasive myth that your first tarot deck should be gifted to you. I don’t know where this comes from, but to me that seems a lot like gatekeeping. I wouldn’t have gotten started in tarot if I had waited around for someone to gift me a deck. I don’t know anyone in my personal life who is interested in tarot, so this myth seems like a way to keep it inaccessible to most people.

When picking a deck for the first time, I recommend picking something that really appeals to you personally. This is another reason why waiting for a deck to be given to you doesn’t really work. If you don’t like the artwork of the deck, you won’t use it. 

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If you have the opportunity to look through the images on each card, whether in a physical store, or by looking it up online, you will have a much better idea of whether a deck is right for you. Don’t only focus on whether you like the art, but also if you are able to get a good sense of the symbolism or meaning of the card. You want a deck that gives you instant messages, not one that leaves your head a bit cloudy.

When you’re just starting out, it can be good to have access to a Rider Waite Smith deck. You can just check the images online if you like, but many tarot books are centred around the symbolism of the RWS. Being able to quickly check what a particular card looks like can really help you learn at first.

You can have one deck or many, just beware of becoming addicted to buying new decks all the time! Indie decks can be pricey, so if you can only afford a cheaper mass-produced or second-hand deck for now, don’t worry. All that I would ask is that you don’t buy a deck from somewhere like Wish or AliExpress. They are all poor quality faked versions of existing tarot decks, which takes revenue away from the artists, creators, and publishers of the real deck. 

Books

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There’s so much information online that buying tarot books isn’t exactly necessary. But if you’d like to deepen your knowledge or learn a little history and context behind the cards, I do recommend picking up a book such as Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom which is pictured above. Here are a few popular tarot books you might like to take a look at:

Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack

Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen

The Easiest Way To Learn Tarot Ever by Dusty White

Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea

Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova

Tarot For Troubled Times by Shaheen Miro and Theresa Reed

All Of Our Stories by Beth Maiden

For more ways to learn tarot, check out the Resources page of this blog.

Journal

If you take no other advice from this blog, please at least do this: keep a tarot journal! Write out your spreads and what meanings you took from them. Monthly readings are a great way to reflect on how your life is going, and you can also do readings for events such as birthdays, moon phases, or any other special occasion or event. Keep notes, little messages to yourself, stories, anything you like. You can use any notebook, but if you need something more guided, Liminal 11 are coming out with this tarot journal soon. 

Storage

You can of course just keep your cards in the original box. But some boxes are a little flimsy, and if you want to take your cards out and about, consider a tarot wrap or pouch. There’s an old myth that you have to keep your tarot deck wrapped in black silk. As luxurious as that sounds, you want something that is easy to access so that you can quickly and easily use your tarot deck whenever you feel like it. In the caption of the image at the top of this post, I’ve linked some storage options that I really like. Etsy is a great resource, especially for supporting small and home businesses.

Reading Cloths

Having your own little ritual for practicing tarot helps to make it a mindful and relaxing experience. You should do whatever you are most comfortable with, but it can be nice to set out a cloth, get a cup of tea ready and take some deep breaths before drawing cards. Reading cloths draw you into the spread that you’re looking at and help to prevent you from losing your cards. Again, Etsy is a great resource, but if you have any furoshiki they’re the perfect shape and size to use as a tarot cloth, and also to store and carry around your deck. 

Other Tools

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I really like this card stand I found on Etsy. I recommend beginning a new tarot practice by drawing a daily card. If you’re able to display that card somewhere you can see all day, it will help you to keep the meaning in mind, and to apply it to the rest of your day. You could keep it in your journal or your wallet if that works for you. Just don’t lose it!

 

If you are an experienced tarot reader, what do you wish you had known when you started? What has been most useful for your practice? I’d love to hear some tips and tricks. 

 

What’s the difference between sympathy, empathy, and compassion, and why does it matter?

Simon Baron-Cohen (yes, related to Sacha) is a British researcher who developed the idea that Autism is caused by an ‘extreme male brain’. This is a very controversial hypothesis. It’s the idea that Autistic people, regardless of gender process the world ‘through a male lens’, have typically male interests, and struggle with tasks that women are supposed to be better at. Men are typically better at systemising, which is recognising and understanding patterns and systems, and are not as ’empathetic’ as women. Therefore, the idea is that Autistic people are extremely ‘male’ in terms of the way their brains work. 

There are issues with this, such as that the questionnaires used to diagnose Autism typically contain a lot of questions about ‘male’ topics, so there is almost certainly confirmation bias at play here. It also erases the experience of non-binary people, Autistic people who are more feminine, and many trans people. 

An issue that has arisen from people hearing about this theory stems from a misunderstanding of the word ’empathy’. People hear ‘Autistic people are less empathetic’, and think that we are uncaring, unable to love, and even equate Autism with conditions such as sociopathy. This can be very stigmatising. 

Many Autistic people struggle with a concept known as ‘theory of mind’. This is being able to interpret others’ thoughts and behaviours as separate from your own. For example, a test used to diagnose Autistic children involves showing cartoon images of a doll being hidden from a character, and asking the child if the character knows where the doll is. Someone who struggles with theory of mind may think that because they know where the doll is, the character must also know. 

This is where the idea of a lack of empathy comes in. If you can’t understand what someone else is thinking, how can you be empathetic- that is being able to feel their emotions as they do. From the Cambridge dictionary, empathy is defined as:

the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation

Colloquially though, that’s not really how most people view empathy. Many people think of empathy as caring about another person. Therefore, when they hear that Autistic people may struggle with empathy, they think that Autistic people struggle to care about people other than themselves. 

Sympathy is defined as:

(an expression of) understanding and care for someone else’s suffering

It’s really quite a subtle difference, and in colloquial use, the difference is subtler yet. Sympathy doesn’t require a person to feel what the other is feeling. Sympathy is when you say sorry to someone because they lost a loved one, empathy is feeling the same sadness that they do.

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that Autistic people never feel empathy. I can only really speak for myself, and I certainly feel sad for someone else when something bad happens to them. I can feel pain when I see another in pain. My issue is that unless someone tells me how they feel, I can often miss signals in body language or vague language that perhaps neurotypical people would pick up on. Sometimes I don’t know that something even makes another person feel a certain way unless they tell me. But as soon as I know, I can feel something for that person. Whether it’s the same as they feel, can neurotypicals even claim to know if they do that? You can’t really know.

What I’m more interested in as a concept is compassion. I talk about it a lot in my tarot posts. I like it because I see it as more powerful. It’s a skill, you can learn it, get better at it, and best of all, there’s evidence that you are less easily exhausted. Empathy burnout is definitely a thing and it’s a problem. It’s when you have spent so much time caring about someone and feeling their pain, that you get exhausted and can’t empathise with others as well. You know when you see adverts on TV over and over again from charities about starving children, abused animals, people affected by natural disaster, and the shock starts to wear off. You care less. That’s dangerous. 

Here’s the abstract for an interesting journal article about compassion vs empathy (check references for source). Some of it is a little hard to understand so I’ll bold the important parts:

Although empathy is crucial for successful social interactions, excessive sharing of others’ negative emotions may be maladaptive and constitute a source of burnout. To investigate functional neural plasticity underlying the augmentation of empathy and to test the counteracting potential of compassion, one group of participants was first trained in empathic resonance and subsequently in compassion. In response to videos depicting human suffering, empathy training, but not memory training (control group), increased negative affect and brain activations in anterior insula and anterior midcingulate cortex—brain regions previously associated with empathy for pain. In contrast, subsequent compassion training could reverse the increase in negative effect and, in contrast, augment self-reports of positive affect. In addition, compassion training increased activations in a non-overlapping brain network spanning ventral striatum, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex. We conclude that training compassion may reflect a new coping strategy to overcome empathic distress and strengthen resilience.

Compassion doesn’t require feeling what the other person feels. That is why it’s less likely to lead to burnout. The article mentioned above shows that compassion and empathy even come from different regions of the brain. When you feel compassionate, you want to relieve another person’s pain. You don’t have to feel their pain, you might not even want to, initially. Compassion extends to people you don’t like, even people who have done terrible things. Compassion is recognising the inherent similarities in all human experiences and showing unconditional care. Compassion isn’t feeling sad when another is sad, it’s feeling love for them.

Thich Nhat Hanh said: In the eyes of Great Compassion, there is no separation between subject and object, no separate self.

I’d like to introduce you to a meditation that I learned from the teacher who ran my high school’s meditation club. It’s the practice of metta, also known as lovingkindness. 

Close your eyes, take a few breaths, and imagine yourself holding a ball of light. Imagine this ball of light contains your compassion. If you have aphantasia, perhaps you could stare at a candle or draw instead. 

Say to yourself ‘May I be well, may I be happy’ and let the ball of light envelop you. 

Think of a person you love and say ‘May you be well, may you be happy’ and imagine the light also enveloping them.

Think of a person you are indifferent to, maybe an acquaintance. Say ‘May you be well, may you be happy’ and imagine the light enveloping them.

Think of a person you dislike and say ‘May you be well, may you be happy’ and imagine the light enveloping them.

Think of the building or area that you are in, say ‘May you be well, may you be happy’ and imagine the ball of light enveloping all of the people inside it.

Think of the country you are in. Say ‘May you be well, may you be happy’ and imagine the light enveloping everyone in that country.

Think of the world. Say ‘May you be well, may you be happy’ and visualise all beings on the planet being enveloped by that light of compassion. 

Take a few breaths, and then open your eyes.

how-to-meditate
Source

 

References:

http://www.spectrumnews.org/news/profiles/simon-baron-cohen-theorizing-on-the-mind-in-autism/

http://www.spectrumnews.org/news/extreme-male-brain-explained/

https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/9/6/873/1669505

3 Magical Musicians To Uplift Your Tarot Practice

You sit down with your deck of cards, maybe a cup of tea ready, perhaps a reading cloth laid out or a notebook by your side. Most of the time, I practice in silence so that I can focus on the cards in front of me. But music can add extra dimension to a reading, and I recommend trying it at least once. If you’d like to give it a go, here are three of my recommendations for artists you should listen to when reading tarot cards.

The Visitor – Kadhja Bonet

She sets a tarot card
A fool lies on his face
Lost despite his own
Compass yielding pocket

Described as ‘psych-soul’ by Pitchfork, Kadhja Bonet has a honey-rich voice, and the timbre of the instrumentation is comforting and yet at the same time seems to transport you into a different world. From her Bandcamp page:

(sounds like) Kad-ya was born in 1784 in the backseat of a sea-foam green space pinto. After spending an extraordinarily long time in her mothers plasma, she discovered the joys and gratifications of making noise with her hands and face while traveling at maximum velocity through intergalactic jungle quadrants.

Orbit – Shenandoah Davis

If you’ve listened to Root Lock Radio, you might recognise this song from the opening of each episode. Sparkling notes from a toy piano or glockenspiel make you feel like you’re in an old house listening to a music box. I also love the artwork from the album cover of Souvenirs by Shenandoah Davis. This album is definitely worth listening to in its entirety. 

Sztoj pa moru – Laboratorium Pieśni

Laboratorium Pieśni are an all-female folk group from Poland. From their about page:

Using traditional, polyphonic singing they perform songs from all over the world, mainly: Ukraine, Balkans, Poland, Belarus, Georgia, Scandinavia and many other places. They sing a capella as well as with shaman drums and other ethnic instruments (shruti box, kalimba, flute, gong, zaphir and koshi chimes, singing bowls, rattles etc.), creating a new space in a traditional song, adding voice improvisations, inspired by sounds of nature, often intuitive, wild and feminine.

The rhythmic drumming of this song is great for getting yourself in a good mindset for tarot: forgetting about anything you need to do for the rest of the day, just relaxing and taking time to connect to your unconscious self. 


Do you listen to music when practicing tarot? What helps you to relax and focus when taking time for yourself?

Court Cards: Practical Pentacles

Sasuraibito tarot

The Suit of Pentacles is associated with the element of earth. This suit is very grounded, practical and hardworking. Concerned with matters of the material world, this isn’t a very spiritual suit, but it does have a love for nature and abundance. Sometimes called the Suit of Coins, it is also associated with money and financial concerns. 

Often associated with The Empress, pentacles is nurturing and fertile. Let’s see how these qualities play out in the Court cards.

Page of Pentacles: This Page works and studies hard. They want to explore the world around them and work with their hands. This card may represent someone undertaking an apprenticeship. They might have a lot of hobbies, particularly practical ones. The Page of Pentacles sees the value in investing time and resources into a particular goal so that they can reap the rewards later. They are adventurous and may enjoy travelling. They care for their community and like to help others. 

Knight of Pentacles: The Knight of Pentacles doesn’t know how to give up. They are responsible and productive. They are the least impulsive of the Knights, but still may take things to extremes. They are very focused but may burn themself out very fast. Determined and committed, they may experience inertia due to being so grounded. 

Queen of Pentacles: The Queen of Pentacles is an expert in nurturing others and creating abundance. Sensual and strong, they love the natural world and feel intrinsically part of it. They are generous and interested in the mundane matters of the world, rather than anything too abstract. This person has accomplished much in their life, and manages to keep an excellent work-life balance. They cradle a rabbit in their arms, able to comfort nervous and fragile beings. Stability is hugely important to this Queen. 

King of Pentacles: Materialistic in both good and bad ways, this King is good at business and has a well-developed professional life. They are generous and wealthy. They love luxury and want to share that with others. They may have started out with little and created this life for themself, as pentacles values hard work and achieving things by yourself. This King is a kind leader, but may assume that everyone wants the same things as them and not be able to see things from other perspectives. 


I have now explored all 78 cards in the tarot! I hope that you have enjoyed these lessons. Please get in touch if you have any feedback or questions, and I’ll be back soon to write about other topics relating to tarot and more specifically how I use it as an Autistic person. Please follow me if you haven’t already, and have a wonderful day!

Court Cards: Rational Swords

This Might Hurt Tarot

The Suit of Swords contains some of the most painful cards in the tarot. The sword can be used to cut through illusion, and it is used by heroes. But it also can cause pain and suffering. In tarot, the swords represent thoughts, communication, and the mind. Many of us harm ourselves with sharp and painful thoughts, and sometimes we hurt others with angry or hurtful words. 

How will you use the Suit of Swords? Each of these characters uses the swords’ potential in different ways. If you are careful and have good intentions, you can use this suit to appreciate your intellectual side, rationality, and an ability to see through illusion. Being able to recognise fake news is a good quality of this suit. But if you have bad intentions, this suit can lead you down a dangerous path.

Page of Swords: This Page is a little detached from the real world, and loves to learn new information. Always asking ‘but why?’ they are endlessly curious. They are known for being smart, but are still very inexperienced, as all pages are. The Page of Swords is a student, and wants to know the truth. The Suit of Swords is associated with the card Justice, so this page may have a very black-and-white view of what is right and wrong. Their inexperience can prevent them from seeing nuance. They love reading books and learning facts, and have great potential in academia.

Knight of Swords: Like the page, the Knight of Swords may be dogmatic and think they know it all. They hate being wrong, or perhaps just can’t accept it. Like all knights, they are impulsive, so they might learn something and run with it, rather than looking for nuance. They might be a bit of a fanatic. On a positive note, swordsy people can make excellent activists due to their love for justice. They are well-intentioned and idealistic. 

Queen of Swords: The Queen of Swords has been through a lot of pain in their life. They may have done a lot of difficult work related to personal growth to get to where they are. The Rider-Waite-Smith depiction of this card includes butterflies, which shows that the queen has gone through a metamorphosis. This queen is very wise and intelligent, and always knows how to give excellent advice. Deep down, they may feel a lot of sorrow, but they use that to inform how they deal with the world around them. Though they may not always be the most sympathetic person, they certainly have a lot of compassion. They wish for a fair world.

King of Swords: The King of Swords is a rational authority. They may be a little closed-minded, having had a lot of experience and studied for such a long time that they have lost their beginner’s mind. They may be arrogant and overly logical, denouncing the use of emotion in any decision-making process. They are perceptive and can see through you if you try to lie to them. They are honest and say things how they are even if it’s hurtful. They have excellent life skills, but maybe not so many people skills. 

Tarot Deck Review: Considerate Cat

Mac enjoying the Considerate Cat Tarot

This review is not sponsored.

Considerate Cat Tarot is a crowd funded tarot deck featuring the stories of rescue cats. The deck contains over 150 illustrations of cats, most of them real life cats with stories to tell. Each deck contains 78 cards that stay true to classic Tarot imagery but with a light-hearted, feline twist.

This deck supports the rescue efforts in Vancouver B.C. Of every deck sold 5% of proceeds go directly to the entirely no kill and volunteer run V.O.K.R.A. This deck is full of life, love, challenges, hard work and most of all: a love and respect for cats. Cats are magical, mysterious creatures with strong intuitions. This makes them the perfect subject for Tarot.

– Quote from the Considerate Cat website.

As a cat owner, I was instantly attracted to this whimsical deck featuring real rescue cats and dainty images of nature and the home. This is a standard 78 card deck, using the usual naming convention of wands, cups, swords, and pentacles. However the Court cards have been renamed as follows:

  • Page => Daughter
  • Knight => Son
  • Queen => Mother
  • King => Father

Rather than include a Little White Book, which would usually fit into the box with the cards, the creator of this deck, Madeleine Belanger has chosen to include a slightly larger Pocket Guidebook. This booklet is in full colour and features photos of the cats that inspired this deck. There is an option to order a hardback copy of this book, however I have the standard paperback edition. Here’s everything I got in my order:

From left: cardboard box with a ribbon containing the deck, paperback guidebook, enamel pin and tarot bag

There was a slight hitch receiving my order, the package going missing somewhere between Canada and Scotland, but Madeleine was extremely helpful and posted me a replacement, which arrived a few weeks later. 

This is a peaceful and positive tarot deck, and I think it would be great for gratitude and compassion practices. In the introduction, Madeleine describes tarot (for her) as similar to journaling or meditative yoga, a quiet time for reflection. Here’s a flip-through of the Major Arcana:

Major Arcana of the Considerate Cat Tarot

The Minor Arcana is also fully illustrated. That, and the descriptions of the cards in the booklet suggests that this deck is probably more inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith than other types of tarot such as the Marseilles. However the illustrations are not very similar to any other deck that I have seen, so it is really quite unique. 

A selection of Minor Arcana cards from Considerate Cat

As mentioned earlier, the booklet is in full colour, and the addition of rescue cat photos was one of the factors that made me decide to buy this deck. It’s so impactful to use an art project like this to bring attention to rescue cats, often forgotten and ignored in shelters. But here they take centre stage as Empresses, Lovers, and Magicians. 

In terms of the quality of the cards, overall I think they feel nice to touch. Slightly glossy, but not shiny, they’re fairly thin which makes them easier to shuffle. The image quality is nice– not pixellated– but on close inspection appears to be made up of tiny dots. The cards have borders and the edges are not gilded. The paperback guidebook is a little difficult to keep open at first, and some of the images and text is obscured by the binding, but it seems to get easier with use.

Video shows how bendable the cards are

If you would like to order this deck, you can order it at the official website based in Canada, or UK buyers may prefer to order it from Little Red Tarot. Either way, I recommend Considerate Cat for anyone who enjoys human-free or nature based decks, or if you love animals and support rescuing pets rather than buying them. 

Considerate Cat

Little Red Tarot

I’ll finish with a little reading I did for my cat Mac using this deck. I went for a simple Stop Start Continue spread:

From left: Stop- Daughter of Wands, Start- Mother of Wands, Continue- Three of Pentacles

The guidebook describes those three cards as follows:

Daughter of Wands: Enthusiasm, confidence. You’ve recently discovered a new passion or have been inspired recently to work hard on a current project. You’re excited and inspired to be creative and work hard. 

Mother of Wands: Attraction, fertility, confidence. Mother of Wands is a good and loyal friend and is always there for you when you most need her. This card can tell you that you’ll need the support of someone with these qualities and that you should be open to it. 

Three of Pentacles: Expression, hard work, creativity. You are ready to take on a new creative challenge in your life. You have new skills at the ready and you’re eager to put them to the test and get to work!

The way I would interpret this spread is that Mac has been like The Fool- ready for adventure and wide-eyed. Maybe because he has been zooming around and knocking things over, he should listen to his owner (me) saying ‘calm down!’, but he should continue to be creative and fun loving.


I hope you have enjoyed this review; please comment or contact me with any feedback or requests, and feel free to follow this blog from the sidebar. 

Court Cards: Overflowing Cups

Borderless Rider-Waite-Smith

The Cups Suit is associated with water, and represents emotions, love, relationships, intuition, and so on. It focuses on your inner experiences, and how you connect to the world around you. Although it can often be a harmonious suit, strong and uncontrollable emotions can cause us a lot of harm. We see how that plays out in cards such as the Five and Eight of Cups. Perhaps the character in the Eight of Cups is escaping an abusive relationship, a situation where emotions have been used against them. 

This little Cups family are romantic, dreaming of a better world. How does that play out with each card? 

Page of Cups: The Page of Cups is the kind of person who has an active imagination, daydreaming, very open. They might be a bit of a crybaby. They love falling in love and might be spiritual. Some people describe Pages as messengers, so if you pull this card, pay attention to new emotional developments in your life. This card may be asking you to trust you intuition and your creative process. In many depictions of this card, the Page is surprised at the fish popping out of their cup. Think about how you cope with surprises, whether you welcome or fear them, and how to improve your ability to deal with new developments.

Knight of Cups: The Knight of Cups is a hopeless romantic. A knight in shining armour, maybe a little dramatic. Slightly impractical, this knight loves fantasy and being the hero. They are learning to embrace and rein in their emotions, but they haven’t mastered that yet. They aren’t afraid of love, and maybe haven’t been hurt or betrayed before. If you pull this card and you see yourself as this knight, take some time to consider how you react to difficult situations. If you don’t see yourself as this character, maybe it’s time to bring a little romance and levity to your life. Getting in touch with your emotions might be a good opportunity for you.

Queen of Cups: This Queen is very intuitive and may be doing some kind of therapeutic work. They have mastered their emotions, perhaps practice mindfulness and gratitude a lot. In order to get to this point, they have had to go through some difficult times, so they are very compassionate towards other people. They are an excellent listener. They are stable and a comforting presence to others. 

King of Cups: Kings are more external than Queens, so the King of Cups using emotions to their advantage. The water around them looks choppy, so they may have difficulty with strong emotions. As a leader, they must learn not to lash out at other people or become paranoid at others’ intentions. This King does care about others, but may be a little passive until they feel attacked in some way. Once they have improved their feelings of security, they are a very compassionate leader, but may struggle to show their own emotions for fear of losing control.

 

Court Cards: Fiery Wands

Modern Witch tarot

A lot of people struggle to connect with the Court (sometimes known as Face) cards. Maybe it’s difficult to relate to royalty (for some maybe not!) or maybe it’s because there isn’t as much of a story in the images. The Pages all just stand there, the Knights are always on a horse, and the King and Queen always sit on thrones.

Some decks have tried to make these cards more relatable by renaming them. For example, Child rather than Page, or Elder rather than King. This can work really well, but it can also be a little confusing. Other people might relate each card to someone they know whose personality fits it. Maybe your mother is a lot like the Queen of Cups, or your friend is like the Knight of Wands. 

I mentioned in the posts The Empress and The Sun that in Root Lock Radio, Weston uses a form of psychotherapy called Internal Family Systems Therapy as part of his practice. In particular, he uses this approach with the Court cards. The Page could be your inner child, the Knight your inner teenager, the Queen your inner mother, grandmother or any other nurturing figure, and the King the parent/guardian who is a voice of reason. They don’t have to match the same gender, so a King can be female, a Queen could be non-binary. Adapt any of these methods and find what works best for you. 

If you recall that each element represents different areas of your life, and then try to imagine each court as a family, that can help make these cards click. That’s why I’ve chosen to cover each court separately, rather than the pages of the four suits, then the knights and so on. 

Page of Wands: The page is quite youthful, wide-eyes, ready for adventure. They’re like the Fool. They don’t know much, but they are comfortable with that. The Page of Wands could represent starting a new project, something you have no experience in. Some people say the court cards can represent someone else in your life, so think about if there’s anyone in your life with this kind of energy and how you can help each other meet goals. Pages are optimistic, creative and open. Look back at the concept of Beginner’s Mind if you pull this card. 

Knight of Wands: Knights remind me of teenagers, impulsive and self-assured. When you’re a teenager, you think you know a lot more than you actually do, and you’re more likely to take risks. Riding in on their horses, knights are adventurous and determined to win. This is especially true in the wands suit, fiery and creative. If you pull this card, think of areas in your life where you need to just go go go, without overthinking the consequences too much. The Knight of Wands is ready to put themself out there without fear.

Queen of Wands: This is one of my favourite cards. I love that this Queen has a black cat. The Queen of Wands is confident and self-assured, but with more experience and better balance than the Knight. Perhaps they have seen what can go wrong if you are too impulsive. There are lions on this Queen’s throne, which evokes memories of the Strength card, and the sunflower reminds us of The Sun. Not caring what other people think, the Queen is passionate and independent, a true master of their element.

King of Wands: The King is a leader of their element, inspirational and dominant. The salamander represents the element of fire, reminding us of the passion of this suit. This King is willful, and perhaps unwilling to accept compromise. Remember as we learned with The Emperor, that it is important to be aware of the difference between a good leader, and a tyrant. The King may face many challenges and threats, but if they are fair and compassionate, they can get through anything.

Ten: Cycles and Endings

Borderless Rider-Waite-Smith

Card 10 of the Major Arcana is Wheel of Fortune, which represents how your fortune changes, how you can be doing great one day and then be at rock bottom soon after. Have you ever been stressing out and dissatisfied with life, and then the next day something truly terrible happens and you wish you could turn back time to when you were just dissatisfied over nothing important? I’m sure the character in the Ten of Swords wishes they were the Ten of Wands, who in turn wishes they were the Ten of Cups or Pentacles. It’s all relative.

Take a moment to appreciate what you have today, because one day it will be gone. That doesn’t have to be a depressing thought. Without the changing seasons, the seed can never grow into a tree. If the leaves don’t fall to the ground and decompose, new plants can never sprout. 

The number 10 is an end to a cycle, and what happens when it ends? A new one begins. Rebirth.

Ten of Wands: The character in this card is clearly overburdened. They can’t even see in front of themself. It reminds me of the feeling of burnout, when you’ve taken on so much sensory input, used up all your spoons and you feel like you’re about to drop. Sometimes it’s just not worth it, and you have to drop what has become too overwhelming for you. The person in this card could delegate their task, give some wands to someone else. They could have said no before taking all the ones they have. There is choice. Sometimes we don’t feel like there is a choice, especially if we are taking on all these responsibilities for the sake of someone else. But you can’t fill someone else’s cup if your own is empty. 

There’s a story from Buddhism called The Raft Parable. Someone discovers he must cross a river and decides to make a raft to get to the other side. He puts a lot of work into it, and succeeds in crossing the water. When he gets to the other side, does he leave the raft or take it with him on land? He should leave it right, otherwise he will be overburdened. When something is no longer serving you, even if it was useful before, let it go.

Ten of Cups: This is like when you get to the end of a story and the last line is ‘And they lived happily ever after.’ Do you ever wonder, what does that even mean? What did they do next? 

If you pull this card, take a moment and ask yourself: ‘what is my end goal?’ What would be your happily ever after? Does that even exist in real life? This card asks you to find joy in life, appreciate the love and friendship you have, and never stop cultivating it. Life takes constant effort, and as stable and harmonious as the people in this image appear, they have to keep supporting and appreciating each other to keep that harmony going. 

I also think these characters look like when actors bow to the audience at the end of a performance. Don’t let your life be just an act. 

Ten of Swords: When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change — Avatar Aang

This is a pretty disturbing card to look at. It probably feels like there’s no coming back from that. Remember though, that in the tarot, swords represent thoughts. They could represent having negative thoughts about yourself, thinking that you can’t possibly move on from whatever bad things have happened. Remember that as 10 is the end of a cycle, it means a new one will begin. Now you might be at the bottom of the Wheel of Fortune, but tomorrow maybe not. If you can change your perspective even a little bit, you might find a way to move forward. Like the phoenix, you can always be reborn and change your path to a better one. 

Ten of Pentacles: We see several generations here enjoying their time together. The old man has achieved material wealth and abundance, and as his life cycle comes to an end, he can pass that on to the next generation, allowing them stability and comfort. I think the dogs look like greyhounds, which are famous for being lazy and loving to relax. Because the pentacles represent the material world, this card may be asking you to consider what else do you want to achieve if your physical needs are met? Sometimes it’s so hard to get to that level of stability that you might not have thought about what comes next. 


I hope you have enjoyed my exploration of the numbered cards of the Minor Arcana. Next I will be writing about the Court cards: Page, Knight, Queen and King, starting with the Wands suit. If you have any ideas for what you’d like me to talk about after the Minor Arcana is finished, please let me know!

Nine: One-Track Mind

This Might Hurt Tarot

It feels like I’m being called out if I’m procrastinating and pull a Nine of Wands. The Nines cards all ask you to do the work, the kind of work depending on which one you pull. Work isn’t just what you do to make money, it’s also working on yourself to improve your mental health, or working on your relationships so that they go as smoothly as possible. 

Like The Hermit, card 9 of the Major Arcana, sometimes you have to just close the study door and get stuff done. Avoid distractions, have time to introspect. In balance, this is healthy, and necessary.

Nine of Wands: After you’ve done planning and preparation, it’s time to buckle down and get on with it. Rachel Pollack interprets this card as meaning that you are trapped in conflict and can only see enemies around you. Sometimes when you have been working on something for a long time, you develop an attachment to it, and can get defensive if anyone points out any criticism. Maybe it’s because you’re exhausted and can’t face having to edit a paragraph in an essay, or you feel like you can’t practice a song or speech even one more time. 

I find that in these moments, we can experience a lot of growth. When things get hard, and we persevere and do better than we expected as a result, what a huge accomplishment that is. If what you are doing is truly worth it, you can power through a little longer. And then of course you deserve the most glorious rest. 

Nine of Cups: The Nine of Cups is known as a ‘wish fulfillment’ card. It’s about enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Think of the song Feeling Good by Nina Simone. Write down things that bring you joy and revisit it anytime you need a little sunshine in your day. Here’s some examples to get you started:

drinking a cold glass of water, taking a bath, watching a sunset, playing with a puppy, being in nature, smelling a new book, fresh bed sheets, hearing rain hit your window, kicking autumn leaves, eating comfort food.

Nine of Swords: I think of this as the insomnia card. It represents nightmares, not being able to sleep for worry or fear. It’s usually about something that you’ve got out of proportion, the monster under the bed. It’s a horrible feeling of dread, but when the morning comes, it often fades away a little. If you pull this card, make plans for how to cope when you get these feelings so that you are more prepared.

Insomnia is truly one of the most horrible experiences we commonly experience. If you can’t sleep because you’re worrying about something, it might help to write down what is bothering you to revisit in the morning. Don’t lie in bed tossing and turning, get up and try to do something relaxing for a while before trying to sleep again. If you get nightmares, it can help to re-frame what happened in the dream in a more positive way. Take a moment to make calming or comical changes to what happened in the dream. The killer chasing you with a knife finds that the knife spontaneously turns into a bouquet of flowers, the exam you didn’t study for turns out to have been rescheduled for next week. 

Nine of Pentacles: This is the card you can think of coming after the Nine of Wands. It’s about accomplishing something, usually in a material way. You’re self-reliant and self-aware, knowing who you are and how to achieve what you want. 

Think of the skills and attributes that you have and think about how you can use them to enjoy abundance in your life. Think about what you’ve achieved and how you got there. If you feel that you’re still at the beginning of your journey, this card encourages you to have self-confidence. Create your own life, and be certain that you can achieve things. Side note, it took me ages to notice the cute snail in this card! Pentacles can represent nature, so notice the natural abundance of planet Earth, and remember to be grateful for the beauty that exists all around us.