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The underlying message of all oracles:

‘We will now show you a little part of its divine intention, a part that pertains directly to you. Be assured that you are not alone. You belong to the Matrix that holds and beholds us all.’

So, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, the message is that the universe is both intelligent and purposeful.

Taken from ‘When Oracles Speak‘ – Diane Skafte

What can Tarot Card Meanings tell us about the UK Election result?

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I sometimes ask the Tarot to predict the outcome of various situations. Putting myself on the line like this is an interesting challenge!

So, earlier this week I drew a few cards to look at the results of the UK General Election (the voting for which ended nearly an hour ago). This evening I realised that if I want to make this a prediction, rather than a corroboration (or contradiction), I needed to get writing!

The first card was The Wheel (change, a major shift), and Healing/Compassion from the Devas of Creation. Well, we know the country does need healing; the economy is in a parlous state and because of that, many people are feeling vulnerable and short of money. Not only that, with the economies of Greece and Spain down the pan – and owing massive amounts to all the other European countries – we may all need quite a lot of compassion in the next few months.

I then asked about the next prime minister and got the impulse to draw 2 cards (a hung parliament?). The first was the Nine of Rods reversed [Wands] – a strong man but wounded, and very defensive (maybe with a few blind spots) (Brown, I assume).

The other was someone lying down, back towards us, looking at all the energy flying around. The meaning for that card (7 Discs) is an observer, someone who watches everything before he acts. It was also reversed, which I interpret to mean that he is waiting, or may have waited for rather too long before taking any action. There’s also a need to look honestly at one’s motivation before acting. I guess this is the Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg (one of my criticisms of the LibDems was always that they didn’t see themselves winning until quite recently, after Clegg impressed everyone in the televised debate). However, the reversals could refer to a hung parliament. If I remember right, the last time we had one (a hung parliament), the governance of the country ground to a halt because the politicians were so busy blocking along party-political lines that total paralysis ensued. We need some new blood, a new vision, an Obama – rather than the bunch of immature, greedy, short-sighted politicians we have. My father used to say the only good politician is a dead one, and I have to say I think he’s right – the only time you hear what good people these guys are, is after they kick the bucket.

So … let’s hope that it is a shift of the wheel, a new era, as the cards first said, rather than a hung parliament, which might have just been a bad interpretation. I don’t see how a new era can dawn if we have a hung parliament. Anyway, whatever the outcome, may the Devas bring some healing and compassion (and vision) to all of us.

12th May – Well, it seems my prediction was correct in that after 5 days of watching and waiting, with Nick Clegg holding the balance of power, he and the LibDems are now helping the Conservatives form a government. After Brown resigned yesterday afternoon I was concerned that Clegg would try to ally himself with Labour instead – and I think 3 terms of Labour is more than enough. So yes, a big turn of the wheel. Let’s hope that instead of playing their normal political games, this coalition continues to pull together for the good of the country. With the economy still in a complete mess and a desperate need for intelligent farsightedness, we cannot afford to have our politicians scoring off each other like kindergarten kids.

Fourteen: the Higher Helpers

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When we get to the higher numbers, we often can gain insight into their meanings by looking at the divisors (in this case, 2 and 7). Two is feminine, primarily about balance or tension between opposites, while 7 is one of the powerfully magical numbers. Fourteen takes those qualities and shifts them into an even more potent combination.

14 is often associated with the moon, as it takes the waxing moon 14 days to reach full moon, and 28 days to complete the full lunar cycle. Lunar deities are often associated with the underworld – presumably because of the fear of those nights when the moon was dark. In ancient Babylonia an Akkadian poem describes how the ruler of the Netherworld, Nergal, was translated from heaven down to the underworld, with an escort of 14 deities. In Egypt, another ruler of the dead, Osiris (whose wife, Isis, was a lunar goddess), was cut into 14 different parts by Set, his dark brother.

In Islam, a religion where lunar symbolism plays an important role, there are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet, 14 ‘solar letters’ and 14 ‘moon letters’. The Hurufis, working in the late 14th century, combined letter and number mysticism with physical attributes of the body and found that the words to depict hand and face (yad and wajh, respectively) both have a numerical value of 14. Another Islamic link to 14 is a Shiite reference to 14 innocent saints.

Similarly, In Christian lore, we hear of fourteen helping saints who assist in dangerous situations: kindness allied to reason. Various churches and monasteries were erected in medieval times to these heavenly helpers, the Vierzehnheiligen in Franconia being the best known.

These qualities may go some way to explain the potency of the number in the Temperance card in the Tarot. It is depicted as an angelic figure, pouring liquid from one vessel into another. Some have linked the figure to Aquarius, the water carrier, and to the Egyptian Hapi, god of the Nile; either way the symbolism contains elements of fruitfulness and inspiration. The word Temperance  in the tarot is used here in its alchemic sense (the right mix of ingredience in the right proportions at the right time – the hieros gamos, or sacred marriage). It might be relevant here to recall the story of the marriage of Cana, where Christ who transformed water into wine, as one of the meanings of Temperance is a deep balance, and transmutation of energies. We might also see it as replenishment of the conscious mind through creative interaction with the unconscious.

Number fourteen marks the completion of the Minors with the Kings of each suit. The Kings usually depict mature men – the emphasis being on attitude rather than age.

The King of Swords represents the detached, rational, intellectual male who dislikes emotional outbursts, staying detached if at all possible. He is difficult to get close to; if you’re in a relationship with someone like this you’ll find him at his best in games of strategy, looking down from his mountain-top and moving humans about like chess pieces. In older times he would be a warrior, while today he might be a philosopher, scientist, mathematician, politician.

The King of Cups, in contrast, is someone who understands the emotions. He may not find it easy to express his emotions, but he feels very deeply. He’s usually an older man, someone who has gone through the mill; he may be a divorcee, and often still has emotional baggage from previous relationships. He has drained his cup but still needs support, indeed negatively aspected he may be a bit of a parasite.  At his best, though, he is a warm, genuine, generous family man.

The King of Discs is strong, practical, and hierarchical. He is good with money, likes to deal with real-world issues, and is intelligent, acute, forceful and charming. He has a grounded physicality and assurance which is very attractive. Feelings of controlled sensuality and power emanate from him; he may well consciously generate these feelings for his own ends. He often lacks subtlety and imagination, but this is not a man to cross. Anyone trying to better him or take advantage of him might be advised to think again. His ruthless egotism and need to control can make him a dangerous enemy.

Finally, the King of Rods or Wands. As King of the creative suit and (in the Intuitive Tarot, the King of Air), he is equally as charming as the King of Discs but at his best has real depth and power. He has learned to ground his energy, through his staff (which symbolizes his inner vision, as well as his potency). He is perceptive, intuitive, and keenly self-aware; he could be a charismatic leader, teacher or spiritual searcher. However, negatively aspected he can be arrogant, manipulative, so sure of his own judgment that he becomes tyrannical. Alternatively he may become a shape-changer, never settling, never fulfilling his manifest destiny.

Of all the kings he is most aware of the unconscious and can work with it. Because of this understanding and talents this man can do great good – though you’ll have to be strong to keep up with him.

Tarot Meanings and the End of Times

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At a tarot cafe recently we were discussing the end of times (as one does – nothing like a tarot cafe to get some good discussions going). I decided to ask the tarot about this – is it going to be in 2012, as the end of the Mayan calendar seems to have indicate, or what is coming?

I drew one card, and three more fell out, so I read them all.

The Hermit. It doesn’t look like this is Armageddon. It does, however, look like we’re all going to have to do some soul-searching. This is about a withdrawal – from the rat race, from the status quo, and from the familiar. We follow our sole/soul light from the lantern, and go down into the dark, surrounded by fears of the unknown.

Most people will avoid this journey into themselves. We fill our lives with noise, with material things, houses and mortgages and cars, in order to avoid that dark place within. But – as we see from current society – the lack of substance that results is a soul-sickness which ultimately ends in some sort of a crash, a war or a plague, an enforced re-evaluation. You’d have thought that the recession, and all the other ills we’ve created, would have made us think, but no – still we carry on regardless.

The Wheel. There is a big shift coming though. We have reached the end of one cycle, and it’s time to move on to the next. Again, this is not Armageddon, it’s relatively gentle (far gentler than we deserve, I think). It is an opportunity to change our perceptions and thus improve our lives. We can rewrite the future if we change the way we see things – indeed, we must rewrite the future. We cannot go on the way we are.

What’s good (and a little surprising) about this is its apparent gentleness. This is not the Tower or Judgment. The Wheel is the cosmic cycle, the natural flow of things. Nevertheless, it is the end of an era and change will come – is coming, and our only choice is to move with it or fight it. Either way, the world will change.

Five of Cups. This is the card of grief, loss and sorrow. It’s not terminal – we will recover – but at the moment we need to stay with that grief.

Grief is not something we enjoy. Clients are often scared that you’ll tell them there are difficulties ahead. Actually, though, trying to avoid difficulties is worse than experiencing them. To live – to be alive – often means we have to feel. Again, as stated with the Hermit, most of the stuff we surround ourselves with is a means to avoid facing difficult emotions. Perhaps this is why we refuse to acknowledge the parlous state of the world.Here, though, it isn’t enough to acknowledge it – we’ve plenty of doom and gloom merchants rubbing our noses in it. But none of them actually express the pain and sadness we must all feel, at some level, about what we’ve done – and are still doing – to the earth and our fellow humans. If we can feel that – truly grieve for what we’ve accomplished – then we have a chance to move on into the future without destroying ourselves.

The Four of Cups. Is this looking further into the future, or is it again about the grief we need to feel right now about what we’ve done? The four is about satiety, passivity, draining energy (as a description of our current state of lassitude and apathy, this could not be bettered). It also points out that, although we have lost something precious (the overturned cup), we still have huge gifts being offered to us which we are ignoring. The world is still beautiful, still there, still our birthright. It’s up to us now. There are huge numbers of us who know things can’t go on, and if we banded together instead of feeling it is all too big and too awful, we could change the world.

The Four also indicates that there’s a need to clarify goals and identify what’s important to us, instead of bewailing what’s gone.

Gaia. To get a feel for the energy around us, and the protection and challenge for us now (with reference to the ‘End of Times’), I drew one of my Deva cards ( The Devas often cut to the heart of a question, and this was one of those times, as Gaia appeared (you have to look quite closely at this card to see Gaia herself – she’s in the centre at the top, her arms enfolding the world).

This is the crux of the question. At the time I read it as Gaia herself taking a hand in the story – she can choose at any time to shrug and say enough. In the last few days she’s coughed – or perhaps it was just a little burp (the volcano in Iceland) – and thousands of people are stranded away from home because the planes are grounded. She isn’t well, let’s face it – pollution, deforestation, water and oil running out because of our profligacy and greed. What happens when she really gets sick?

It’s time for us to wake up.

Tarot and Astrology

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For the last six months I’ve been producing illuminated manuscripts of the different astrological signs and have been fascinated by the links between tarot and astrology. The connections between the two systems are more tenuous than I originally thought, although there are some direct correlations between the symbols of the tarot and the ruling planets of the different signs – the most obvious being Saturn and The Hermit, and the Magician and Mercury (I’ll go into this in more detail in the future).

Astrological study stretches back thousands of years – to ancient Egypt and Babylonia at least, while early mankind would almost certainly have created their own star-lore. At that stage in our evolution, we probably used the right brain to a far greater extent than we do today, and those early people would have automatically assigned images to the patterns of stars. [In fact, the mythology of some indigenous populations shows an extraordinary, intuitive knowledge of the heavens – for example, the Dogon, who knew about the invisible companion to Sirius (for details, see]

The ancient astrologers identified the planets, attempted to explain heavenly events such as eclipses and comets, and assigned images and psychological characteristics to constellations which they identified by name based on local myths, and to the different planets.

This use of figurative imagery – together with an underlying animistic concept of the universe – continued for thousands of years, through the collapse of the Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations. In medieval times symbology was employed for religious and philosophical ends – the alchemists, for example, used figurative symbolism to describe the alchemic process. The tarot, appearing around 1415, used the same language. Like astrology and alchemy, the tarot referred to images that all understood – which Carl Jung called archetypes: the fool or jester, Emperors, Popes, Justice, Death, The Star, The Sun. (The Minchiate deck incorporated all the astrological signs, plus the elements and virtues – and was one of the first medieval packs to change the pages to ‘maid’ cards.)

Many recent decks place astrological symbols on each card, assuming a correlation which may or may not be useful. Crowley’s Thoth deck was one of the first to attempt a synthesis of all the magical systems – kabbalah, astrology, tarot and a few more besides. You can, of course, read tarot quite adequately without knowing any other system, but in future posts I will detail some of the parallels which can enrich your readings.

Tarot Spreads – the Spiral Life Spread

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This is a big spread – both in terms of numbers of cards and its subject-matter, which is a pretty comprehensive life path spread. The layout is given together with the positions, which are fairly self-explanatory.

1 – Who am I?

2 – Soul purpose, soul contract

3 – What energies do I need?

4 – What is my highest dream?

5 – What stops me getting it?

6 – How do I see myself in the future?

7 – What’s my greatest gift?

8 – Strengths, hidden resources

9 – What I need to release

10 – Ancestral or past life issues

11 – Blind spots

12 – Male-female energy

13 – Money, the material world

14 – Anything I need to do now

15 – Long term love/partnership issues

16 – What’s still missing?

17 – Benevolent energies

18 – Fate, apparent problems (may be your greatest gifts)

19 – New paradigm choices

20 – The unexpected

21 – A last core issue to be processed

22 – What I will pass on to the world

Thirteen: Death or Rebirth?

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Number thirteen is the sixth prime number, and many cultures find it portentous, if not unfortunate. Its negative associations can be seen as far back as Babylonia and ancient China, when an extra 13th month had to be added every now and again to keep the seasons in line with the solar year. In China this extra month was called the ‘Lord of distress’ or ‘opposition’.

This association with the lunar vs solar year leads me to wonder whether it is yet another example of the patriarchal downgrading of everything feminine, which probably began in Sumerian or Babylonian times. The thirteen moons of the old calendar were always associated with the feminine for obvious reasons; so in order to ensure the patriarchy had no possible threat to its authority, everything to do with the feminine was subtly demoted – a situation which continues to this day.

However, not all cultures had found such negative connotations in the number. Egyptian lore posited thirteen steps that led up to eternity: at the thirteenth step, the soul was said to reach a state of completion. In Judaism the Torah states that God has thirteen ‘Attributes of Mercy’, while the Qabalah talks of thirteen heavenly fountains, thirteen gates of mercy and thirteen rivers of balsam in paradise. In ancient Greece Zeus, the thirteenth god, was seen as the most powerful of all the gods. However, in Norse mythology the gods numbered twelve, with Loki the trickster coming in as an uninvited thirteenth to cause the death of the hero Baldur. That, then, led directly to Ragnarök, the battle of the gods.

Christian tradition saw thirteen as unequivocally evil, presumably because Judas, the thirteen disciple, betrayed Christ. In classical and medieval times, this grouping of 12+1 was quite common, with the 1 being the leader, or fated to die (or both, as we see in the Christian story). In addition Christians associate thirteen with witchcraft, the number of witches in a coven.

In contrast, Gnostic lore suggests a thirteenth aeon which will bring about the completion and resolution of the previous twelve eras. Similarly, in Mezoamerica, thirteen also had favourable connotations: the Mayan calendar was lunar and they saw the thirteenth day as the turning point, its symbol being the butterfly. The calendar was divided into periods of 52 (4 x 13). There were also thirteen heavens and thirteen deities.

The early creators of the Tarot seem to have followed the more negative connotations of the number. They certainly ensured that number 13 was always associated with the Death card, although numbers fluctuated for the other cards. However, today the interpretation is more of transformation and change than bad luck. Every time we alter something in our lives, we encounter a little death; when we move, change jobs, even (according to Lisa Alther in Kinflicks) have sex. So the Death card is about mortality and a voluntary surrender of the old (in comparison with The Tower, which destroys the old in a flash, whether we will or no). It’s also about stripping away the ego, necessary if we are to move on spiritually. If the card is reversed, it probably indicates an inability to change, stagnation.

Number thirteen also relates to the Queens of each suit (not the Kings, as previously and erroneously inserted in the previous version of ’13’! Apparently no-one noticed this as I would have expected at least one comment, if you had).

As we’ve seen already, 13 is a number particularly associated with the feminine, so it is apt that we find the Queens occupying the 13th slot of the numbered cards.

The Queen of Swords is depicted as a stern-faced woman, sword at the ready. Standing on the beach with an active volcano in the background, we might see her as an ancient queen awaiting some major disaster – the immolation of Atlantis or Hera, perhaps. In the Intuitive Tarot her element is fire, and thus she combines a stringent intelligence with deep passion – a passion that is under strict control most of the time. However, in readings, you may find her as a divorcee or a wronged partner; she is often a woman in the grip of a potent anger which, although usually well-hidden, can sometimes explode into the open.

The Queen of Discs is a pragmatist. Dealing with business, money, things of the senses, she enjoys the good things in life, particularly her home. If she is a business-woman you’ll expect to find her very successful. She wheels and deals, brings people together, and then expects them to dance to her tune. She can be very controlling and does not enjoy people doing their own thing. Normally she gives the impression of being a rock for all around her, but this can be misleading. She’s more vulnerable and fragile than she thinks, and should ensure she has a good support network to call on.

The Queen of Rods is creative and highly intuitive. She can get a bit airy, floating over the hills like a butterfly, but if she can harness her gifts she can become a powerful healer or intuitive. As a mother she can be a bit scatty, but so charming no-one really minds (though her children may need therapy later!). Sensitive, perceptive, and creative, she can sometimes be a little arrogant (a trait she hides well). I often connect her to Ishtar, queen of all gods, who went down into the Underworld to challenge her dark sister, Ereshkigal, who (not surprisingly) took exception to this and hung her on a hook to die. Rescued by the god Enki’s servants, she was able to return to the land of the living – sadder and wiser.

The Queen of Cups, her arms open, bare-breasted, stands looking out at us in invitation, and challenge. Surrounded by the deep ocean, she is traditionally seen as warm, inviting and passionate. She is powerful, desirable; with a strong connection to her emotions and body; she can find herself ridden by her emotions (or hormones!), lacking much ability to think objectively. She often appears in readings where someone wishes to offer themselves fully, but are constrained by external circumstances to keep within clear boundaries. If she appears reversed, she may well have offered herself but been rejected. She can also be the devouring mother, preventing her children from living their own lives.

in the Minors

Tarot readings online?

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There are various sites offering free tarot readings online. Some are excellent, some just passable. One of the best (at least in my view!) was produced by a friend of mine and offers different spreads from a selection of tarot and oracle decks. Have a go – –  feedback from readings is excellent. The link will take you direct to the The Intuitive Tarot page (if you want to try a different pack, see below).

The first thing you need to decide is which spread you want: they range from the Celtic spread to a three-card spread, or even a single card. If you choose the three card spread, identify what you want each card to stand for (Past, Present, Future; or Advantages, Disadvantages, Outcome, would be useful categories.

Most of the remaining options are fairly obvious: you can choose to enter your name or remain anonymous. You can choose to read with Major Arcana only, which is probably not a good idea for a large spread. You can choose to shuffle the cards, and finally, you can have the date displayed. Having ticked the relevant boxes, you can now move onto the next page. If you’ve chosen to shuffle the deck, place the cursor over the deck (don’t click) and the cards will shuffle about. Then choose each one, identifying the positions if necessary. Once you’ve chosen the right number of cards, click ‘Show me my reading’.

At the moment there are no facilities for printing or storage, so if you wish to make a note of the cards, you can highlight the whole reading and copy and paste it into a Word document. In a few weeks’ time we hope to give you the facility for both storage and print, so watch this space.

If you would like to try a different pack, go to the Students-of-Tarot homepage. Here you’ll see a whole raft of decks including an option for ‘Modern Packs’. If you hover your mouse over any of the deck titles, they should display mini-thumbnails). In addition, the list in the centre offers a few more decks, (see a choice of classic decks and spreads).

To get a reading from an oracle deck – for instance my other deck, the Devas of Creation – follow the same procedure as I outlined for The Intuitive Tarot. Bear in mind the Devas are higher level energies and although they often give very grounded and specific advice, asking them about financial matters or whether your relationship will work, is probably not the best use of their power.

I should stress also that tarot and oracles are not ‘fortune telling’. Most readers today see the tarot as a tool to look at general trends and underlying issues in our lives, the options facing us, and suggested actions. Although the tarot certainly does give glimpses into the future, we are the arbiters of our own destiny.

The Tarot and Quantum Physics

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Mankind and Oracles

Mankind has probably been using oracles of one sort or another for as long as we have been recognisably human. We’ve used bones, entrails, yarrow stalks, coins, water, stones, the stars, dreams, cards, tea-leaves, handwriting. The Delphic Oracle functioned for hundreds of years, with eminent kings consulting it regularly and even fighting wars based on its predictions. The Bible is full of references to prophets and prophetic dreams. Contemporary Chinese still make a point of ensuring that any action they are planning takes place on an auspicious day, and even here in the sceptical West, every newspaper carries astrological predictions. Unfortunately these, and other predictive tools, are currently considered either highly suspect, or solely for the simple-minded. The reason for this is primarily our reliance on reductive logic and scientific empiricism (and our tendency to think that we have all the answers).

It’s ironic, then, that the explanation for how oracles work will almost certainly come through the latest scientific research – specifically through quantum physics. However, don’t worry – there’ll be no equations here, just the bare bones of the latest concepts.

The Quantum World

Physicists consider that as we move ever smaller from our usual world of matter, past the level of the most powerful electron microscopes, down into the world of subatomic particles, we reach a world with laws that seem fundamentally different to our own: filled with probabilities and organized chaos, where matter may and not exist simultaneously, where our perception of phenomena can bring them into existence, or alter them. Underlying all this apparent chaos, however, there is an underlying unity: an energy or ‘field’ that exists throughout the universe, a constant ‘particle exchange’ that is never completely static. They call this zero-point energy (the nearest that subatomic matter ever gets to zero motion) and for a long while ignored it, subtracting its effects from their calculations. But then one physicist, Hal Puthoff, realised that this zero-point field (ZPF) could be a vast unharnessed energy source – and started what may well prove to be the breakthrough of the third millennium. The more Puthoff studied the ZPF, the more possibilities he saw in this vast underlying sea of energy. All matter in the universe could now be seen as interconnected by waves of energy. Matter itself is part of the same energy field – in other words there is no division between the material and the immaterial. Nor is there any longer a disconnect between the quantum and the macro worlds. Even gravity – the sticking-point of scientific theories for centuries – can be explained by taking the ZPF into account.

The implications of this, and other new discoveries based on this energy, are mind-blowing; the wonder is that it is taking so long to filter through to general consciousness. Lynne Taggart’s book ‘The Field’ discusses the different aspects of the research and its tantalising possibilities: for example the ability to ‘turn off’ gravity (the long-term applications of which are world-shattering); produce new WARP drives for space exploration; or even travel through wormholes to distant parts of the universe. We could extract energy from The Field as a solution for the looming energy crisis; produce new digital medicine-applications; even kill dangerous bugs with electromagnetic signals.

More relevant to this article is the discovery that the ZPF implies information exchange, as well as energy exchange, and could therefore provide instantaneous communication. The phenomena we call the occult or paranormal, such as telepathy, telekinesis, the Tarot and other oracular devices, foresight, intuition, and dreams, would just be part of this exchange, as we are part of The Field. As mystics have said for millennia, there is no separation. Equally important, this also corroborates the metaphysical tenet – that we create our own reality.

Developing Your Own Tarot Reading Style

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When first you start working with the tarot, your ‘reading style’ is probably not going to be uppermost in your mind. You’ll no doubt be concerned about the meanings and how on earth to remember them, or, if you’re an intuitive reader, whether you can trust your intuition and how you’ll find enough to say to the people who ask you for a reading – ‘it’ll take me 5 minutes and then I’ll run out of things to say’. (Actually, that won’t happen; if you make enough of a connection to the cards the meanings will come. You put your mind into neutral and allow yourself to say what streams off your tongue. Even after 34 years I often listen to what I’m saying and think ‘what on earth am I talking about? Is this total rubbish or does it make sense?’ Often it sounds like garbage to me, so I often ask the client whether it makes any sense to them. It’s rare that they look absolutely blank and say it’s total rubbish.)

But to return to style. When I first started researching the tarot I had about 5 books I read constantly, Alfred Douglas The Tarot being the most useful. Douglas’s approach was quite Jungian and that suited me; I’d become interested in psychology at the age of 18 and so references to the unconscious, myth and archetypes rang all sorts of bells, and actually inspired me to start reading into history, mythology, and psychology – I have always said that the tarot educated me. Jung’s personality types – intuitive/creative, feeling- or sensory oriented, or intellectual – made perfect sense in correspondence with the suits (Wands, Cups, Discs/Pentacles, and Swords). My readings naturally had the same slant – they were concerned with underlying concerns, background history and all that entailed, and interpersonal issues, often at work. The readings worked fine, especially using my own deck (The Intuitive Tarot), but I wasn’t sure this was actually what most tarot readers did. So when I began reading professionally, I figured I’d be a one-off, doing psychological tarot – and in fact, I met a psychic fair reader who informed me that she didn’t know what sort of reading I was doing – it wasn’t tarot, she said. It was only when I met other tarot readers that I was reassured: most readers nowadays consider that their readings are more counselling than psychic. Some readers prefer to concentrate on character-readings and past issues, and avoid looking into the future (based on the premise that it’s all in flux and can change without warning). However, I know the cards can, and do, look into the future – often with frightening accuracy. It’s just we haven’t got there yet. Trust the cards – they will be telling the truth; it’s our own vision which is limited.

Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself psychic. In my experience ‘psychic readings’ contain a lot of the reader’s ‘stuff’, whereas by using the tarot (especially if you get the client to draw the cards), you have a good chance that they will be accurate: all you have to do then is to interpret them. We all have some sort of psychic awareness, but it can exhibit in different ways. Each ordinary sense – sound, sight, taste, touch and smell – is matched by a subtle level, or ‘psychic’ sense. So you might get words or ideas ‘coming through’ (clairaudience), some ‘see’ clairvoyantly; some ‘just know’ things, sense atmosphere or get information on places (claircognizance); some can pick up information from items such as hair or wristwatches (psychometry and psychokinesis). Some can sense energies in and through the body (clairsentience), and the subtle level sense of smell (clairgustant) may well be something we used to rely on far more (animals have far greater olfactory abilities, but we are certainly still able to pick up on sexual pheromones, for instance). Indeed, it may be that all these extrasensory abilities are atavistic – throw-backs to our animal origins, when our lives depended upon what we picked up from the environment. This ‘secondary awareness’ is just about being fully awake. In our polluted, over-stimulated, over-populated world, we have forgotten what life is really about.

Anyway, finally, the most important ‘style’ a tarot reader needs, is to develop empathy. Empathy, the ability to feel someone else’s emotions and reactions, isn’t necessarily inborn. Some have no empathy at all, and they would not be particularly good tarot readers. However, the ability certainly can be learnt: practice by putting yourself into someone else’s shoes. Ask yourself ‘how would I feel in this situation?’ And, of course, the more life experience you have the more you’ll be able to understand how others feel.