The Intuitive Tarot edition 2

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Many people want a deck of The Intuitive Tarot but it’s out of print and the publishers aren’t interested in reprinting. In the end I decided that I would self-publish a 2nd edition. I’m getting quotes now, but will have to crowd fund it … I’ll put a link on here when I start the process. The new cards will be the same size as the Devas of Creation ( 88 x 126 cm) with a dark blue title border at the bottom of the card. There’ll be a 96 page booklet and a link to the original .pdf on my tarot website – and possibly on here too – for those who buy the new deck and want the original book as well.


However, just a heads-up to keep an eye out as next year I may amalgamate this blog into my CillaConway website. If so, I’ll let you know.


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I am designing a new deck which – though still under wraps – has occupied me for 18 months The Majors are now complete and look really good, though I say it myself; now I’ve started on the Minors.

A friend recently asked whether, when designing a deck, do I work with a particular type of person in mind? Or turning the question round: when designing, say, my latest deck, do I bear in mind what sort of people would buy it/ not buy it / love it/ not want to work with it?

The answer is that when I start designing a new deck I do it because it calls to me, and then somehow uses me to design it. I began my first deck, The Intuitive Tarot, one evening when the Fool drew himself onto my pad (don’t ask me how that happened, I just know it did: I was doodling; I looked down at the drawing pad and found the Fool there … I’m sure I’ve told the full story in another part of the blog, so won’t repeat it). In the new deck it was the Hermit who called me in. I work in an esoteric bookshop in the centre of London and one day I noticed a post card with an image that stopped me in my tracks. It was actually an icon of Elijah:

Elijah Sinai

but to me it was clearly The Hermit. I borrowed the postcard and placed it in a ‘would like to do’ folder in my mind, and there it would have stayed, except that one night I was invited by an American friend to the launch of a new tarot – the Nostradamus Tarot by John Matthews and Wil Kinghan. I wouldn’t have gone to the launch normally, but I hadn’t seen the friend for a long while, so I went. Chatting to John Matthews after the presentation, I mentioned my interest in this icon, only to find that he had wanted to do a deck based on these sorts of images for a long time. ‘But if you’re going to do it, I guess I had better give up the idea’, he said slightly wistfully. But John is a writer and I’m an artist – it wasn’t a problem in my book. We could work together on it. He wrote a proposal and I started researching the imagery, and found that it all fell into place, like magic. Those synchronicities – those meaningful coincidences that keep on coming until you take notice! – are usually a green light from the universe, so I began to paint.

So … back to the questions. Do I paint a deck with any particular type of person in mind? Yes, someone who’ll appreciate the work. Someone who wants a bog-standard empty deck to play with isn’t going to like my tarot – I don’t use Rider Waite imagery, I often change the elemental correspondences, and it has a few extra (historical /cultural) dimensions I discovered while painting it. Those will of course be included in the book when it’s published (2015).

When I design, do I bear in mind who will buy it? Yes, obviously, when it’s published we want lots of people to buy it – they will probably be collectors, people who have been working with tarot for a while, professional readers (I hope), and anyone interested in an iconic style of art and culture, as stated above. But in actuality, I paint the deck I want to use.

Do I bear in mind who will not like it? Yes, I bear it in mind – though I don’t worry about it. As an artist, I know that some folks really get my work and love it, and others probably think it’s a load of baloney. The Intuitive Tarot has passionate fans, but there are a lot of people who don’t like it at all. It doesn’t bother me – I still love reading with it, and still get fan mail. And the people who love it are impressive – they look deeply into life, are knowledgeable and insightful, and have usually done quite a bit of self-awareness work. What else can I say?

And the latest deck – I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, bar none, and a few detractors or critical words are hardly going to worry me. The only criticisms have come from people who know little about tarot or the culture that birthed this particular deck, and they have been interested enough to research what I told them about it. So the deck is already doing its job, and I am really looking forward to being able to post images of it! (Watch this space…)

Strange thing, intuition

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The way intuition works is weird. It is definitely like something other that kicks in. Normally with tarot you work with a low-level intuition – i.e., the base meanings are mostly the same but in each reading they may change slightly; you get a slightly different sense of what the card may mean to this person; or you find yourself saying – or seeing – something that you haven’t said or seen before. So for example, with the Lovers: with one reading the card will be about change, about growth, and about becoming mature. For another reading, it might be about a relationship that has become too stifling and the client needs to move away into the big world.

But as I say, that’s all low-level intuition. Sometimes, though, something else kicks in. The client is often someone who has done a lot of work on themselves so is very aware; or they are pretty psychic themselves. And then, it’s like a path opens up onto a different plane altogether, and information floods through. It’s not INFORMATION like writing on the wall (although it might be for some people); with me, it’s quite subtle and sometimes sounds a bit crazy – but if I trust it, it usually opens up all sorts of avenues for the client.

The trouble with it is that it is so ‘other’. It doesn’t feel like thinking usually does. Trying to explain it is almost impossible, but when I was trying I wrote ‘it comes through’ or ‘something opens up’. Is this opening up to the right brain, or to some other dimension? Who knows? I think this question is one I must put to other tarot readers and psychics to discover how they see it. Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts on this, please send them in!

Types of Intuition

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We are all more intuitive (or psychic) than we realise. It’s a natural ability to perceive far beyond our senses and logic; a flash of inspiration or insight; a gut feeling. We all have experienced that ‘inner’ knowing or awareness, a certainty that’s outside logical thought- perhaps as déjà vu, hunches, sixth sense, gut feeling; predictive dreams; psychic messages; solutions to difficult problems. But it’s often quite subtle, and we have to learn how to recognise and act on it.

Every one will have their own unique way intuition manifests. Some will ‘just know’ things – claircognizant – information just comes to you, with the sense that it’s important. You may know who’s on the phone before it rings.

You may see things (clairvoyance) – either inside your head, or in the outside world, seeing energies and / or images. You may see a person, scene, colours, auras, past lives, and visions of the past, present or future – they may be as if you’re watching a film, or still photos. Far-seeing comes under this category.

You may be clairaudient, psychically hearing thoughts, words, songs, or other sounds. These are usually inaudible to the normal hearing range, but can also appear within your voice, sometimes as a voice very different from your own.

Your intuition may also manifest as clairsentient – perceiving information through a sensation in your physical body. It may be a gut feeling, or sense the body issues of someone either with you, or close to you. You may also sense spirit guides, deceased relatives, angels.

Clairscentrist people sense through smell – tobacco, alcohol, a scent of candles, rosewater, etc (this is often reported with thoughts of spirit presence).

Clairgustant is psychically tasting a substance, liquid or food without actually putting it in your mouth.

Oddly, although we all have a certain amount of these so-called extra-sensory abilities, many adults in our culture ignore them or even close them down, either because they are scared, or because they couldn’t depend on their abilities – having been let down a couple of times, they then assumed it wasn’t safe to trust them at all. Certainly you will not have been trained in the use of intuition at school. But ancient humans probably used intuition to live by, sensing where the animals were running and, possibly, connecting with the animals themselves to check which beast to kill. Their cave art reflects the psychic link they felt with the natural world, and it could well be similar to how we work with in the tarot.


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Notwithstanding all the advances made by science over the last few centuries, which have seen our understanding of the universe change from the idea of a mechanical, ordered system in which humans stood triumphantly in the centre, into one where nothing is certain, all is flux, and humans, indeed our Solar System itself, are but miniscule aspects of a vast array of dancing particles. Perhaps the whole of existence is merely consciousness, perhaps part of some Meta-consciousness some might call Divinity. As for human consciousness – well, physicists consider now that the mind must be understood as part of a quantum system: in other words, the function of the mind operates along quantum principles, not through the usual physical laws, but we are still waiting to hear whether we can progress past the theory to the implications of this statement.

In the meantime, arguably, we know more about the workings of the universe than that of the mind. In our materialist, rational world, we find intuition extremely difficult to explain, let alone describe how it works – and yet we are use intuition to a greater or lesser degree. In some the faculty is so advanced we call it ‘psychic’.

My dictionary gives the standard definition of intuition: ‘immediate unreasoned perception; instinctive knowledge’. A second dictionary (published more recently) is more open-minded: ‘the power of the mind by which it immediately perceives the truth of things without reasoning or analysis: as truth so perceived, immediate knowledge in contrast with mediate.’

The standard dictionary’s take on psychic is ‘having occult powers; capable of telepathy, of seeing ghosts and spirits etc; of or studying occult phenomena.’ (The word occult as defined as: ‘pertaining to the psyche, soul, or mind; spiritual; beyond, or apparently beyond, the physical: sensitive to or in touch with that which has not yet been explained physically.

20th Century man’s arrogant view that we knew almost everything, and what we didn’t know would soon fall into place, begins to look distinctly shaky as chaos theory, multi-dimensional maths, and quantum physics redefine our current view of reality. Mystics and artists have of course been saying much the same things as the quantum physicists for centuries. If we wonder about the origin of such revelations we would probably say they are creative and intuitive. We might add that they come from the wellspring, or the collective unconscious, or right brain, or some other term. But they have a different flavour to the normal rational consciousness, which calculates and cogitates, functions in the outsider world.

Researchers in the 1960-1980s found a distinct different in the way the two halves of the brain functioned. The left brain was found to work well in step-by-step arguments, logic, calculations, rational thinking, ‘objectivity’. The right brain sees things holistically, taking the problem as a whole. It tends to jump to conclusions – correctly, but often with little obvious evidence. In recent years more research has found people to be predominantly left- or right-brained. Most of us use both, often unconsciously. In problem solving, for example, we may think we are using our left brain to pull together various different facts. We weigh, and um and ah, and sleep on it. In the morning we wake up, knowing what we need to do. That’s intuition – obviously a right-brain function.

But still we know absolutely nothing about how this marvellous bunch of cells and grey matter works. Synapses, electric currents, hormones, chemicals, and somehow it metamorphoses into intuition and creativity, logic and amazing mental prowess. No wonder physicists think it’s a quantum function: in normal physical law consciousness probably can’t be explained at all. Let alone intuition!

So where does that leave us? Well, rather like walking, we just do it – i.e., use both sides of the brain. Intuition, when we come down to it, is just a matter of listening to a different voice – the one that says ‘move!’ when someone steps too close, or ‘no’, when we think about an unsuitable projected action; the one that wakes us up when we’ve forgotten to put the alarm on, or the one that warns us through a wordless ‘feeling’ that someone we meet is up to no good. Most of us hear the voice and ignore it. Our left brain discounts it for a number of reasons, all ostensibly good; but later, we may well regret ignoring what our intuition has been whispering. It is a very small voice, and easy to talk ourselves out of it.

What then when you get an intuitive tool, say a tarot pack, which can be used purely as a way to open the intuition? Well, our mind is the key. We see in images, dream in images, understand images. We may not understand the message consciously but we certainly get it unconsciously. Think of the dreams you’ve had which made no sense at the time. Often, in a few weeks’ time, we suddenly realise what the dream was about. Dreams are a symbolic language – something that I believe our earliest ancestors understood very well, but the key to which we have mislaid. The more we insist that existence is 3-dimensional, the less we understand. The tarot even has a card that tells us that we need to rethink everything we’ve been taught. If we ignore this wake-up call there’s an even more powerful punch to the psyche that the universe often delivers in the shape of the Tower – the lightning strike of divinity, which destroys our current reality. Intuitively, we can understand these images completely. The archetypes of the tarot speak to us in many different ways: through our eyes, our hearing, our bodies, and our senses.

In the next article I’ll explain a little more about the different sorts of intuition.

The Intuitive Tarot

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Having painted The Intuitive Tarot between 1973 and 1981 it is, naturally enough, my favourite. I always use it for readings except at medieval fayres, where I use Kat Black’s Golden Tarot. The IT is a deck for the discerning – it doesn’t appeal to everyone, nor would I want it to. I use it in this blog because, for a start, I own the copyright, but also because the illustrations enable me to describe the card meanings more clearly. As I started using them, the interpretations often changed with the individual client, and over the years layers of meaning were added. Because I journeyed into the archetypal realms as I painted each card – and again when I wrote the book to accompany the deck – the cards became my inner reality, and my spiritual journey. I have experienced each of the Major Arcana, though I’m still working on The World, and unfortunately will probably never have the courage to surrender completely to The Moon!

A3 all tarotB-sm