THE CHURCH of TAROT

A cruciform spread in six cards.

Spreads shaped like various forms of crosses is a fairly common occurrence in cartomancy. The Celtic Cross presumably being the most well known, to the point of almost being the archetypical de facto spread. However, other variants exists, like my personal favourite The French Cross. Like many things, the origins of this particular idea came about whilst trying to develop a similar concept utilising a cruciform as its basis for layout. Such is the fractal nature of creativity that once you open the gates it’s an infinite rabbit hole of discoveries, and literally as I type this yet another conception of a seed for a spread occurred. It’s also something that’s useful to keep in mind as each card unfolds, leading you your thoughts in new directions. This is just an attempt at exploring the possibilities of using a traditional structure in an unconventional manner. Please think of it as a first draft, or a rough sketch, rather than something fully developed and set in stone.

For deeper immersion, face east, with the top card pointing towards the respective direction. Deal cards face down in order as shown in the illustration. Imagine it all as a top view of a church. Turn over one card at a time.

1. NARTHEX

Feet.

Open the doors. This is the threshold. A transition from the outside world in to a spiritual place. Often representing death. What is not allowed inside? What you must leave behind before you enter? 

2. NAVE

Torso/upper body.

Nave derives from the Latin word navis which means “ship”. Symbolically connected to such things as Noah’s ark for instance or your life’s journey. This is the current path you are on. Where are you headed?

3. THE CROSSING

Heart.

Yeah another transitional space. It’s literally the middle of the cross, a holy crossroads, connecting back to the past, leading towards the future and/or possible detours to the left and to the right. The heart of the matter. The core issue.

4. Left SEMITRANSEPT

Left arm.

Negative (outside) Influences. Might be relating to something or someone haunting you from the past. Liminality. Darkness.

5. Right SEMITRANSEPT

Right arm.

Positive (outside) influences. Light.

6. THE ALTAR

Head.

The most sacred part of the whole church. What do you need to sacrifice in order to become reborn? The word altar comes from the Latin words altārium and adolere, meaning “high” and “to ritually burn or sacrifice” respectfully. The latter meaning alluding to what was its original purpose. What do you need to place high upon the altar? Which bridges do you need to burn? What no longer serves its purpose? How do you clear your head? Symbolic of rebirth…

Variants:

Not too keen on the Christian connection? Want a more satanic approach? Try reversing the order, inverting the cross, reading card 6 as number 1 etc.

For a religiously neutral spread, just remove the transepts (wings) altogether, leaving you with four cards instead of six, and just call it The Temple of Tarot (I might expand on this idea later), and perhaps change the names of the various rooms if you are so inclined.

And lastly, if you’re feeling even more adventurous, try adding further locations, like left and right aisles, a sanctuary sanctum, bell tower, crypt, or a pulpit etc.

One-armed Bandit Tarot

A Slot Machine Spread

The archetypical slot machine usually has three reels of symbols, but there’s of course nothing wrong with adding more reels (rows of cards) if you are so inclined, and if it fits a particular reading you would want to do.

In this example, I will use 3 card reads, which literally could be anything that’s supposed to be read in a linear fashion (past, present, future – mind, body, spirit etc.)

You will need: A deck of cards, a coin or something similar (like a stone)  and at least one six-sided die.

With your, or your client/sitter’s question in mind, shuffle the cards in your normal fashion. Cut the deck as normal, and deal out three rows of cards, each with six cards in them, laying them all face down. 

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Offer a coin as a symbolic gesture. This could be a “magical” (consecrated) coin if you have one, or you could make one specially  for this specific purpose, or if you like to practice post-apocalyptic witchcraft, you could use a bottle cap, or really any kind of stone or an object of symbolic value to you or your client. Whatever you feel will work best for you. 

Pull an imaginary lever. Roll the die one time for each row. Turn over the card corresponding with the number on the die. Violà! There you have your results.

Variations:

It’s easy to modify this spread to better suit you needs. I’ve got some more thoughts and suggestions though, if you’d like to try it out. 

For instance, you could use more rows, as mentioned above, or put more, or less, cards in each row, and use polyhedral dice, like a D4, D8, D10, D12, or a D20 if you own them. If you don’t, you just use a random number generator either online or on an app on your phone. They’re easy to find. 

You might also consider using only 9 cards total if you are short on space. Still use three rows, but with only 3 cards in each one. And then use the 6 sided die as a D3:

1-2 = 1

3-4 = 2

5-6 = 3

Additionally, If you have one of those mini tarot decks or oracle cards, then that might be easier and more handy if your reading table or floor is small. 

If you’re like me, you probably have more than one deck. How about using three different decks? A separate one for each row. Maybe just use the Major Arcana from the decks, so that you increase the chance of getting two or three similar cards in a row! Jackpot!  

You could even turn over all the cards before rolling the dice and “pretend” you are allowed to step up or down a number of times in order to make a more favourable read Yes, I know this is a heretical notion, but shouldn’t we break the rules once in a while and deconstruct how to read cards? Why do you think I made this spread up in the first place? Trust me, I’m all for tradition, but let’s experiment more when it comes to actually using the cards. 

Here’s an example of a read: 

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You can see that I rolled 2, 2 and 6. The Four of Pentacles didn’t quite “fit” and I didn’t really see how it related to my question. So decided to “step up” one card (Page of Cups) and that made much more sense, and was definitely something I had hoped for regarding the outcome.

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M.O.R.E. Tarot

Mobile Outdoor Reading Equipment

I really enjoy reading Tarot outdoors, however, this does have some challenges. Mostly having to do with wind. I’ve had cards fly off the top of my deck, and over the roof, and/or just taking off over the balcony, landing on gravel roads or in bushes. Not only is it annoying to have to run after your cards in the middle of a read, but it would suck to have the cards either get damaged or worse; lost!

So, here’s my tips, tricks and hacks:

Stones, crystals rocks, dice and coins…

I don’t know about you, but I always carry at least one small bag of gemstones with me, and not only do these look super cool and witchy, they are great for putting on top of the cards you’ve pulled so they stay in one place.

Also, it’s not uncommon for me to have a handful of dice with me, or at least somewhere nearby. These are fine substitutes for cute little card weights. Also you could devise a way for incorporating die divination alongside your standard Tarot reads (maybe I’ll get into how to do this in another post down the line). Also, dice bags are great alternatives to tarot bags, and every comic book shop tends to have them (at least here in Norway).

If you’re a witch on a budget, then just use some rocks. They’re free, and everywhere! Coins will also do in a pinch, and even bottle caps (I find these lying around on the ground all the time).

Laundry Witches are known to use cloth pins, and the office or student kind might have some paper clips handy. Just look around, I’m sure you can find something useful. Card holders, sticks, tea candles? Matchboxes or lighters? Whatever you’ve got in your bag or pocket.

Just don’t forget to put something on top of your deck as well, and not just the cards you’ve pulled!

Serving/breakfast/lap tray, a lid or a lunch box…

Get a serving tray, or something similar, with high sides. For some reason, during my tests, this worked much better than a deep wooden box. This right here really is the best solution I’ve found for reading outside. It’s just the perfect size for small to medium layouts.

The budget option is finding some kind of lid, from a shoe box or anything you’ve got lying around. If you’re just doing a one or two card spread, even a lunch box would work, as well as doubling as a stealthy container for your deck, if you are traveling undercover or you’re  are not out of the broom closet yet.

So go, step out the door, and read MORE!

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The Ch.A.O.S. Tips

The Coffeehouse Augur’s Oracle Survival Tips

Try saying that 10 times in a row! And, yes, I know, it’s a stupid acronym, and I’m just trying to be clever and trying to make a cool sounding title, while hopefully catching your attention.

So, one of my favourite rituals is to read tarot and have a cup of coffee at the same time. Usually I’ll do this in the safety of my of home, nonetheless, on occasion I brave the great outdoors in order to spice things up a little. However, it’s not always practical to carry around all your standard cartomantic reading accessories, and sometimes you’ll either forget to bring your gear, or you just want to travel light. So what follows is some tips and observations I’ve made:

Turn on, tune in, drop out (i.e. connect)

First, always ask for the “secret” (wifi) password if it’s not written anywhere clearly visible. You never really know when you need to ride the digital broomstick, and access to the astral waves of the web will always come in handy. Like downloading tarot apps (in case you find yourself without a deck, or if you really want to be an undercover cyberpunk witch) or streaming music (see below) and looking up meanings and/or correspondences if your memory doesn’t serve you too well.

No spread cloth? No problem!

Napkins are the perfect as make-shift solution.

Is the place a little too busy and/or noisy? Consider this:

Set up a stealthy ritual space. It can sometimes be hard to get into the zone, with all the things going on in the background. But you have all the elements you need right there in front of you to help you get into the right frame of mind.

Earth: Salt packets or salt shakers, even pocket change can double as symbolic pentacles. Or you can think of the plant or flower on the table as suitable representation for this.  

AirSmell the coffee? Well, there you go!

Fire: Candles. Easy, Perhaps the hot cups of coffee too?

Water: A glass of water, as you should always remember to hydrate, and drink water. Again, the cup of coffee will do in a pinch for this.

Lastly, music!

Put on your favourite tarot reading album, and you’ll find it much easier to concentrate and get in the mood. This one’s my go-to:

Jared Ambience Inc. & Sverre Økshoff – Rats

Which is yours?

As an option, just putting in earbuds will keep some of the noise down, and also people are less likely to disturb you if they think you’re listening to something.

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The Dark Exact Tarot Guide – Review

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  • Paperback.
  • 168 pages.
  • Black and white printing (The Dark Exact Tarot is just black and white, so color would make no sense in this case).
  • Self published.

I have been an avid user of the Dark Exact Tarot, and I have been along for the journey ever since the first edition, so safe to say, I have been waiting for this guide book for a while now! That means I have had plenty of experience of using the deck without a full dedicated guide, although it does come with a pretty standard LWB (little white book).

Right off the bat I want to say that having access to this guide book really changes how you work with the Dark Exact deck. It really opens it up, and adds a great deal of depth to it. And this is a much, much, much deeper deck than I had originally thought. It is like a dark portal that transports you and your mind and to a secret place that reversals some of the mysteries hidden inside the Major and Minor Arcana of Colman’s wonderful take on the Tarot.

First of all, this book has a very nice Preface, which describes some interesting facts about designing the Dark Exact Tarot itself. I do wish it would go into even more details about the creation and the choices made, but I know there is some more information about this online and if we’re lucky, more interviews will show up in the future were Coleman talks about this. Anyway, I’m glad the preface got into this nonetheless, and it is always an important aspect to address, as it will help you understand the deck better.

The second section is called Reading The Tarot: Major and Minor Threads. It deals with ways to read tarot and the “proper” practices and the basic procedures. All good stuff. It takes a modernistic approach which I really love. It talks about letting other people touch your cards (often a big no-no) and that makes me happy. I don’t go about showing my cards to just about everybody, but if someone shows interest, I will let them touch the cards with their own hands, and I get excited it when friends and family wants to hold the cards as I talk about them. In a way, it feels very much the same as when a good friend or family member plays one of your precious instruments. You get a new perspective. You get to see (or hear) the “tool” under a different light and that might grant you valuable insight. But I digress. This chapter has a wealth of wisdom and advice for both new and old tarot readers.

Next up is the Major Arcana. The Fools Journey. This has the information of the cards themselves and their divinatory meanings. You get two pages for each card. The first page has a picture of the card itself (a little smaller in size than the physical cards) and it features stone correspondences. Now, that is not something that’s useful for me right now, but my practice both in terms of divination and magick/witchcraft is ever evolving, so I appreciate it being included. Also, a few of the pages has extra explanations of what the name of the some of the specific symbols featured on the cards are. The second page is the description of the card, which includes keywords, interpretations and reversed meanings. At first I had one gripe about this presentation… as it has a lot of wasted space, and I thought it could have been utilised a little better. However, I rapidly changed my mind as I continued reading the book and suddenly realised that this extra room was perfect for adding your own notes! A blessing in disguise. This is probably not what Coleman intended, but I actually find it to be a good thing. For me, this is very much a workbook, and the art of reading Tarot is always a work in progress, so adding your own touch and insights will make your own personal journey more meaningful and unique. And Coleman, if you are reading this, how about you make a Dark Exact add-on sticker pack to this guide? They could include additional alchemical and esoteric symbols related to the cards, general updates and even some extra few sentences per card. I would love to modify and decorate my book in this way. Just a thought.

Following this is of course the Minor Arcana. This presentation does take a slightly different approach. You get one page with a picture of the Ace, and the opposite page has a few lines about the appropriate suit with it’s alchemical elemental symbol, and beneath that are the meanings for upright and reversed positions. Then after that, it deals with three pip cards at a time, with one page presenting three cards in a row and another page with the three card descriptions. The court cards gets the same treatment, but with 4 cards instead of three. I would have liked a little more information for each card, especially because reading “pips” with no scenes or people can sometimes a little tricky for me. But what we get here is good, and it goes above and beyond the LWB. Again, there is plenty of blank space to add some notes of your own, so it is not a big deal, you just have to do some of the extra work yourself, but you should do that anyway!

Later on we get some sample spreads, both the classic ones and some new and exciting variations. Six in total. The original “Dark Exact” spreads are really interesting and it is always nice to see some different and unusual spreads to get inspired. And that is not all, because after the spreads we get treated with three sample readings. This was a very neat surprise and they are very thorough and I think they will be particularly useful to novice cartomancers, although the more experienced readers should find these fascinating as well.

At the very end there is an index, a References and Recommended Reading list and Acknowledgements. I cannot praise the author enough for including an actual index! Now, this is a small book, so the index is not that long, but it is still hugely useful to have, and I know later printings will expand on this. Also, a recommended reading and reference is a must and these last sections of the guidebook is what really brings it up to a serious and professional level. Being a bibliophile who buys way too many books on esoteric subjects, I am m all too aware of the fact that many authors of niche publications skip over this part, rendering their release rather useless in an academic sense. In no way am I an academic, but I consider myself a student (and sometimes even a teacher) so I like to know the sources of where the information came from. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Occult and esoteric writers, take notes.

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Conclusion:

I learned something new about reading Tarot in general, not just relating to The Dark Exact deck. My feelings are that this book was written from a Tarot reader’s perspective and from someone’s personal experience over a long period of time, and that the deck was primarily made to be practical and highly functional as opposed to just a design project from the artist. This is real Tarot, real Magick, real Witchcraft, and definitely NOT style over substance. My experience up until this point, having worked with the Dark Exact deck for way over a year, is that this peculiar deck is MUCH deeper than I initially though. Straight out of the box, it always lived up to its name; Exact. It has been very exact and has cut right to the chase, but it sometimes left me feeling that it couldn’t quite reach the depths of some of the other decks I regularly use. However, after having read this guide, I can see that impression was wrong, and I have now gained a brand new appreciation of Coleman’s wonderful Tarot. This even has the potential to become a modern classic in my humble opinion. With a guidebook as good as this, I can’t see why not!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheDarkExact

https://www.instagram.com/darkexact/

 

Red Pill/Blue Pill – Tarot Spread

The Red Pill/Blue Pill Tarot Spread

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the redpill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

– Morpheus

Inspired by the Neon Moon Tarot, and its cyberpunk themes, I came up with this weird little variant of a tarot spread…

This Tarot spread is for when you a feeling a little bit like Alice… for when you’ve tumbled down a rabbit hole, and you’re out of your depth. Or maybe you’re lost in the woods somewhere… and you can’t find your way back home, or see the forest for all the scary trees? Perhaps you’re in a pickle, or just are faced with a tough decision. Could just be you need a reality check.

A wake up call.

Think about your question. Feel it. Shuffle your deck. Focus on your query. Stop when you feel like you’re ready for your naked lunch*. Do whatever you usually do before you deal the cards (cut the deck etc.). Pick the top two.

1. The first card is the Red Pill:

It represents Knowledge, Freedom and the Brutal Truth of Reality.

2. The second card is the Blue Pill:

It stands for Security, False Happiness and Blissful Ignorance of Illusion.

How does this relate to your situation? Is it a tough pill to swallow? Make your choice now. Do you take The Red Pill, or do you take the Blue Pill?

Whatever you choose is up to you, but don’t take it too lightly. Put the card you chose somewhere where you can see it. Maybe take a drink of water as a symbolic act. Return the other card to the deck. Go about your day.

*Naked lunch; a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.

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21 + 1 The Fortune Teller’s Rules – Review

21 + 1: The Fortune Teller’s Rules

read like the devil manifestos

edited by Camelia Elias

fortuneteller-front

  • Paperback.
  • 180 pages.
  • Black and white printing.
  • EyeCorner Press

“Read like the Devil”  I’ve heard Camelia say. Here we even have the catchphrase in the subtitle. Well, this reads just like the devil is whispering all the secrets, all the tricks of the trade, into your eager ear. You don’t even have to sell your soul, all you need to do is buy this book! And it’s not even that expensive. Bang for the buck, as they say.

In a nutshell, it’s a collection of essays. Each of the 38 contributors presents 21 + 1 of their personal “rules” when it comes to divination with cards, specifically the Tarot.

Jack in and download. Before you know it you’ll say “I know kung fu”!

Or perhaps something more like “I know card-fu”. This is martial arts cartomancy.

It’s just the right amount of crazy, wild, profound and energetic. I can go on and on, and I will; poetic, stimulating, funny. and thought provoking. A treasure trove for those wanting to dive deeper down into the art of divination. One word: Inspiring. 

So get out your pencils and/or marker pens out, because this is filled with gems you’d want to highlight. Actually, it would kind of be easier to just mark the sentences that aren’t pure gold! But even most of them are pretty good as well.

However, after a while it tends to get a little repetitive. 

I think it would be best to read it in a few chunks at a time, as I think I got a little overexcited and read one third of the book in rapid fire fashion in one sitting. So learn from my mistake, and space it out. Contemplate. Mediate. Think. Absorb. 

Although it’s put out by a small publisher (EyeCorner Press), it does look a little bit like a self-published book, which is a shame, because a better looking book, with better typography and better formatting would make everything stand out even more. Also, the pages are very transparent, resulting in a very “noisy” and distracting reading experience.. Very distracting. Still, it’s a minor concern. 

All in all, it’s a goldmine, and you’ll become a much better card reader after reading it. That is, if you read like the devil 😉

More information and where to buy:

http://www.eyecornerpress.com/211-the-fortune-tellers-rules/