Tarotmoon Press

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Tarot and the I Ching

I’m currently on vacation in Mexico, and I had planned to spend much of the time working on the astrology book and course materials to upload (I promise I will still do that). As luck would have it, the CompTarot list broke out into an interesting discussion of the I Ching just as we were discussing the Wheel of Fortune. That has some interesting synchronicities of its own, but suffice it to say that I was encouraged to renew my interest in I Ching, and acquired the best translations I could find, one of which (Huang) accompanied me to Mexico.

I’ve spent most of my vacation so far reading through the initial 16 or so hexagrams and learning how the system works. In the past, I had only ever conducted random divinations with it, throwing the coins, determining my hexagram, and then reading it – out of context. Much like you might do if you had never read tarot, did a tarot reading with one card, and then looked up its meaning in a book. You’d certainly get something out of it, but you’d really have no appreciation of tarot as a system and the deeper meanings that the cycles, progressions, structures, and archetypes within tarot lend to even a single card.

Reading the first 16 hexagrams, along with the introduction and various commentaries from Confucius and Lao Tzu on down, really enhanced my appreciation of the I Ching and the fact that it is a similar coherent system of beliefs. The entire set of hexagrams is represented as a progression (starting with no less than the creation of the universe), with interrelationships among them. The hexagrams are made up of smaller meaningful units, like the symbols in tarot.

Hence it was no surprise to me when I felt prepared enough to do my first divination on a subject of some pressing personal importance, and received 17 as my initial hexagram – the first one beyond those I had already read – making it at once fresh and yet, I had enough knowledge of the system to really understand how to read the three changing lines that were part of my divination. Just another of life’s little synchronicities.

One of the listmembers of CompTarot commented that her readings with I Ching were so accurate that it made her wonder why she used tarot.  This got me to thinking, given that there are more similarities than I initially realized, what would make you choose one tool over another – either generally speaking or for a given situation? Both are rich, centuries old, and composed of deep symbolism. Both are many-layered, structured, cyclical. Both express philosophies – Western and Eastern, about how heaven and earth function and our place within them. Both provide accurate depictions of existing situations and possible futures, while still relying on the free will of the querant to bring about these outcomes.

The I Ching seems a little more direct to me, good for reading for yourself and in situations that may be difficult for a tarot reader to approach directly. The I Ching gives good advice about the conduct that will give the best result – something tarot CAN provide but may not always, if the reading is not done in that manner or the question is not asked in that way. The I Ching is very specific about exactly how things are changing. Does that specificity limit its uses in some way? Does it make the I Ching most useful when things are demonstrably changing? What do you think?


September 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Pity poor Saturn… more on the health care debate

In the last post, I wanted to keep it simple and show how tarot could be used with just one aspect and one issue – which was already quite complex. However, it turns out there’s a lot more going on that just a Saturn-Uranus opposition. Saturn is in a quincunx with Neptune (which means 5 houses apart), which is a fairly tense and uncomfortable aspect. On top of that, in November Saturn will be heading into a square (3 houses apart) with Pluto, an even more difficult aspect.

This is no fun for our poor Saturn – representing the forces of authority, government, conservativism, and the status quo. All you liberals out there may be cheering, but the more threatened Saturn feels, the more tenaciously those who identify with these feelings may fight against change. Neptune is in Aquarius, which is one of those visionary combinations, and not incidentally ruled by Uranus. This is a time of ideals; there is a feeling of oneness, that anything could happen if we are not afraid to embrace and love one another. In terms of health care, this translates to an egalitarian vision of full coverage for all, equal treatment, and a triumph of humanitarian principles over capitalism. It’s not too surprising that this is stressing out Saturn in Virgo, a very practical-minded responsible combination who is probably wondering just how we’re going to pay for all this and whether everyone just has their heads in the clouds.

Neptune also brings an energy of dissolving boundaries, mysticism, and yes, illusion and manipulation. It may be hard for the average person to tell what is real, who’s telling the truth, what is illusion. Between Neptune and Uranus, there’s a lot of energy for change in unlimited ways, ways that may not be well-bounded and could cause a lot of dislocation before they’re over. But wait… we’re not done yet.

Next comes Pluto squaring Saturn, starting in November and heading well into 2010. Now we have a planet of deep transformative change challenging Saturn directly, not just in minor stressful aspects, but head-on. Pluto’s flirting with Sagittarius right now, but by the time of the square will be firmly back in Capricorn, which is normally Saturn’s comfort zone. Saturn, on the other hand, will be heading into indecisive Libra. Pluto just went direct after a period of retrograde motion, so it’s going to be bringing a lot of pressure to bear on the government for substantial change. This would be the type of powerful, transformative, thorough change that Pluto is known for, not just minor fiddling around the edges.

With all these powerful forces in play, it’s obvious that this health care situation is going to be fraught with difficulty on all sides. We have four heavy-weight planets, three seemingly lined up against Saturn, but two of those are retrograde and the other was until recently. Neptune will be going direct at the end of October, and Uranus in November – all that pent-up energy will be released just as the square with Pluto hits. Are we having fun yet?

So let’s try a tarot reading that’s a little bit different from the one we did yesterday. With all these challenging aspects and planets currently retrograde, I’m having a hard time believing that health care will get solved before Congress adjourns for the holidays. But let’s not make assumptions – we can draw two cards for the influence of each planet, one for 2009 and one for the 2010 session that runs approximately Jan-July. Using the Morgan-Greer:

Saturn 2009 – Knight of Cups
Uranus 2009 – Nine of Pentacles, reversed
Neptune 2009 – Ten of Pentacles
Pluto 2009 – Ten of Swords, reversed

Well, some serious end-of-suit cards there. The Knight of Cups appears to be searching for the Holy Grail of health care reform – working in good faith, idealistic, but knowing that he is searching for something he may never find. If this represents Saturn in the guise of Congress, they’re at least trying their best, and not without compassion and creativity. It is quite interesting that the one idealistic card appeared for Saturn, and the others are more down-to-earth or difficult. All three of the other planets are working to bring something to its end, with Uranus and Neptune focusing on the suit of Pentacles. The Nine of Pentacles in this deck is a particularly opulent looking woman, and Uranus may be focusing its energies on wealth disparities in the system.

The Ten of Pentacles is in part a card of legacies and institutions, as well as families. In this version of the card, two flags with five pentacles each bar the viewer’s way to a doorway, as if to prevent us from entering the house. Neptune may be working to dissolve the barriers in existing institutions and redistribute the wealth or disrupt the established order to make way for something new. Pluto manifesting as the 10 of Swords reversed feels a little like the death of 1000 cuts, which in the context of Congress is not encouraging. Looking at these four cards in a row, one gets the sense of society starting out somewhat naively in good faith, searching for the grail of a compassionate and idealistic health care system – then running into barriers related to money and established institutions, followed by a dismal and legalistic dismemberment of whatever is put forth. If they do manage to put an end to our current health care system this session, you can bet it won’t be pretty or the way anyone wanted it to end.

Saturn 2010 – Eight of Pentacles, reversed
Uranus 2010 – The Hierophant
Neptune 2010 – Six of Wands
Pluto 2010 – Three of Swords

I have to say, things look a lot better in 2010. Now the only reversed card is Saturn, representing the status quo and possibly the fact that Saturn goes retrograde in January and its influence may not be as strong. Even this card is somewhat encouraging, the Eight of Pentacles suggesting that those who represent this side will continue working and continue trying to be involved, even if they don’t prevail on all their issues. We are now moving backwards from the establishment 9 and 10 to the 8, representing real hard work.

Jupiter will be conjunct with Neptune early in the year, and then later with Uranus, possibly strengthening them and bringing them the more positive energy seen here. The forces of change may finally find their voice in the form of someone who can lead the public out of their current divisiveness and therefore rededicate Congress more strongly to its task. Neptune carries the wands of Victory, which also suggests better and more visionary leadership on this issue than is currently making itself known – together Uranus and Neptune look like an unstoppable force, able to prevail over the weakened Saturn. Lastly, Pluto – the Three of Swords, upright. In this position, I see pain, struggle – and eventual illumination after the storm. There is a third way, the way of transformation through ideas, suffering, and storm clouds.

Wish us luck – we’re going to need it :)  The next post in this series will focus on using astrology and tarot in a more personal situation – something you could do for yourself.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Saturn-Uranus opposition and health care

Looking at planetary aspects now, one of the biggest things going on in the sky is the Saturn-Uranus opposition. This means that these two planets are exactly 180° apart. This opposition was exact about a week ago, but because these planets travel relatively slowly, it is still being felt. In addition, because of the retrograde motion of both planets, this is actually part of a larger pattern of 5 periodic Saturn-Uranus oppositions occurring from late 2008 (around the election) to 2010. We’ll start this post by discussing the astrological particulars of this opposition, and then add a little tarot and current events into the mix.

Any opposition between Saturn and Uranus can be thought of in simple terms as the forces of the status quo and structure (Saturn) vs. the forces of change and chaos (Uranus). Uranus is a planet of idealism, especially when it is in Pisces as it is now. There is a strong vision of change, of a better world, of willingness to embrace upheaval and chaos needed to bring this about – by forceful or unique means if necessary. In Pisces, this may be a time when hidden dreams or desires are expressed – things lurking under the surface of society that through a random or unexpected event can be brought to the forefront. Explosive public demonstrations may be triggered by repressed emotions and a need for change.

Saturn, on the other hand, represents the forces of authority, structure, limits, and conservative behavior – especially when it’s in practical Virgo, as it is now. Saturn in Virgo might agree that incremental changes could bring about improvements, and will focus on those details – but would never condone the instability of wholesale societal change. This would appear very threatening to a person who identifies more strongly with Saturn, as a complete abdication of responsibility and an unrealistic idealism.

An “aspect” between two planets refers to the angle they make in the sky, and an opposition is a particularly interesting one. Neither strictly beneficial nor entirely challenging, it can best be described as a tension between two forces that needs to be resolved. These two planets have medium-long orbits, and are therefore what is known as “societal” planets. While they do (especially Saturn) affect us personally over long cycles of our lifetimes, they also affect entire societies and generations. The last time these two planets came into opposition was in the 60s, which was a period of great social struggle and change in the US. This time, at least in the US, the struggle seems more centered around the government – the election, which was all about change, the economy, and health care.

When I saw this opposition recently, the first thing that popped into my head was the current struggle over health care issues in Congress and around the country. We certainly have the forces of the status quo (Republicans, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals) vs. those of change (Democrats, social activists). Virgo and Pisces are also both signs that rule houses related to health, making it not surprising that this issue should be reflected in this particular opposition.

Yet, in an opposition, it’s never as simple as the forces described above arrayed against each other, and we can see that here too. Doctors and hospitals – which one would expect to be aligned with Saturn/Virgo – are suffering from the status quo and are at least cautiously in favor of change. The question is, how much, and can they feel comfortable with the more radical proposals? Large and small businesses are in many ways in the same boat – the costs of health care are rising so fast that they see this as a key business challenge that needs to be resolved to maintain their competitiveness and provide for their employees, but they fear both massive, unpredictable change in the system and the 12th house consequences of allowing this threat to grow unseen and undercover without being addressed. Activists feel both a need for change (Uranus) and a responsibility to provide for everyone (Saturn, but also idealistic Uranus).

So here we are with an astrological opposition pretty well describing the current status of the health care debate in the US. What kinds of insights can the tarot bring to this debate? Here we can work at either an individual or a societal level, although the extent to which we can affect the societal debate is more limited. If I were a Congressperson, perhaps one of the “Gang of 10” working on this issue, I might be tempted to look at it like this:

Card 1: What is the most important fear or concern of the Saturn/Status Quo forces that I need to address?
Card 2: What is the most valuable proposal from the Saturn/Status Quo forces that I need to include in the package?
Card 3: What is the most important ideal of the Uranus/Change forces that I need to address?
Card 4: What is the most valuable proposal from the Uranus/Change forces that I need to include in the package?

As an individual, one could always draw cards to look at the various alternatives being proposed and get some idea how they might work out. This could be valuable if, like most of us, we really have no idea whether some of the ideas being proposed might work and how they will affect us. There is quite reasonable fear of making the wrong choice, and an almost impossible task of understanding what the consequences really might be, through just trying to reason it out. Hence, the added insight that a tarot reading might bring could be quite valuable. The only caveat to doing this kind of reading is the utter unpredictability of Uranus, meaning that what ultimately gets voted on could change at the last minute as inspiration, idealism, or accident – perhaps buried in subconscious Pisces – strikes in the midst of last-minute negotiations.

So let’s try the reading above. Using the World Spirit deck, I received:

Card 1 – Justice
Card 2 – 10 of Cups
Card 3 – Sibyl of Cups, reversed (Queen of Cups)
Card 4 – Ace of Wands

11 JusticeThat first card is powerful – it suggests to me that those who prefer the status quo have some truly fundamental beliefs at stake here. They may fear upsetting the current system – getting things so far out of balance that we’ll never recover our equilibrium. They may worry that we don’t really know what we’re doing – we’re working in a system where we really can’t see all the consequences of our choices. They may prefer the system we have, which isn’t necessarily fair to individuals but serves constitutional principles of individual responsibility and freedom from government intrusion. It’s interesting for me to contemplate how differently this card would have been read had it been on the other side of this debate, but it’s a good reminder that the forces of the status quo have sincere, fundamental principles involved in this debate.

Tens are cards of the end of a cycle, but also of celebrating what you have built, especially in the emotional suit of Cups. This is a very positive card, and it suggests that anyone working on this debate needs to understand and appreciate what Americans and what the Saturn folks love and celebrate about the current system, what makes them feel emotionally attached to it (as they so clearly are) – and not take that part away in the new proposals. There has been a lot of negativity in the current debate on both sides, and if the center could find a way to express gratitude, value, and celebration of the good parts of our system and make it clear that they’re incorporating those in, they may stand a much better chance of relieving folks’ anxiety.

The Sibyl of Cups reversed is an interesting way to express an ideal. In many ways, this is a very Piscean issue – she is the most watery of the Cups courts, and is often associated with Pisces, the sign that Uranus is currently in. This suggests to me hidden, deeply emotional issues about illness, incarceration, addiction, and helplessness that are shaping the debate on the side of the forces of change, and the terrible burden of emotions that this places on nurturers who feel this pain as deeply as does the Sibyl of Cups. These are all 12th house issues, ruled by Pisces. With our demographics changing so that many families have elders in a not-too-friendly health care system at the same time as we ourselves are beginning to experience more serious health issues, fears about being in a nursing home, end-of-life issues, serious illnesses, and medications are coming to the fore. These emotions are difficult to express but are nevertheless key to the need for change – the need for universal coverage, compassionate end-of-life care, and support for families. These fears are coming out in repressed and not necessarily direct or positive ways – further complicating the debate. Yet, they are the most important issues driving those who feel the need for change – love, compassion, the relationships among us as a society, along with fear of illness and being trapped alone and helpless in a hospital or nursing home by the current system.

The Ace of Wands as a proposal is on its face an idealistic, enthusiastic card that says – start completely over! Build something new! Be creative and build what you want from the ground up. Of course, this contrasts directly with the Ten of Cups, not only elementally, but one is the beginning of a suit and the other is the end of a suit. Yet, numerologically speaking, 10 = 1. Ten is the number of transition and really leads to a new beginning, even though it is the final culmination of a suit. This is the paradox of 10s in tarot that is the key to resolving the opposition – which itself is a tension between the old and the new. This card says – let the forces of the Status Quo retain all that is best and celebrated about the old system, while bringing in fresh new ideas of Change that can burn away what doesn’t work from the old and replace it with something entirely different. Don’t be afraid to be bold about replacing what didn’t work – at the same time, don’t throw out the best of what was.

So now our Congressmen have the task of identifying the best of the old and the exciting of the new :)

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 5 Comments

Tarot and astrology

This is the first in a series of posts exploring a long-standing fascination of mine, the interface between tarot and astrology. I started studying this years ago by looking at Moon signs and phases and how they affect everyday life, which led to writing a book on astrology for tarot readers (in progress). I’m now moving into the rest of the planets and following their transits and aspects to one another.

These are things we all feel in our daily lives as a vast backdrop of energies and cycles. However, tarot really brings it into focus. With astrology we can ask questions like:

  • What universal forces are at work today, next week, next month, over the next 10 years?
  • How are the individual planets aspecting each other? In other words, which ones are creating challenging or supportive energy with one another?
  • How do these generally felt influences interact with my specific natal chart to create times when opportunities, difficulties, or creative tension may arise?

Overall, astrology tells us the energies that are operating and when specifically they come into play. But, like free will, astrology doesn’t tell us exactly how these forces will affect any individual’s life or the specific circumstances at the time. That is up to the person, and to some extent others in their lives and the surrounding environment that happens to be in place.

This is where tarot comes in. With tarot we can add to the questions above and ask questions like:

  • How is the astrological energy that is generally present now specifically manifesting (or most likely to manifest) in my life?
  • How can I make best use of the opportunities, challenges, and tensions that are presenting themselves now?
  • How is a particular energy that is present likely to affect a given situation, and what is the best way to work with that influence?

This combination of tools seems particularly powerful to me. After 30 years of tarot reading, and growing up in a family with astrologers, I feel somewhat ready to start this exploration. I say “somewhat”, because astrology is a very complex subject, and it seems like another 30 years may be needed. On the other hand, you have to start somewhere! The modern astrological tools that are available has made this type of work infinitely more accessible – I remember my mother calculating charts by hand! Now I have a little tray icon that shows me the phase and sign of the moon at all times, and a slightly more complex program that shows me the transits and aspects of all the planets in my location – as well as a nifty flash animation that shows the paths of all the planets in motion. Not to mention I need to send a shout out to my fave online astrologer, Terrence Guardino, for sharing his astrology knowledge on video and tweets, and all the other great astrologers who take the time to share their knowledge with us.

So, having assembled all these tools, I plan to start blogging incessantly about astrology and tarot. I hope this will be of interest to some of you :) I will be looking at specific planetary transits and aspects that are actively affecting all of us, and showing how one could use tarot to help make sense out of and work with these planetary energies. Look for the first one coming up in the next day or so on the Saturn-Uranus opposition occurring now and for some time, and how that plays out in, among other things, our health care debate.

September 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

A fresh take on the Seven of Swords

In addition to publishing new tarot and astrology materials, I may have mentioned that I’ll be blogging more here on those topics than I ever did on my personal blog, knowing that the readership is interested :) Today is the first of those posts.

I’m out in Idaho, working as a facilitator for a group of government and tribal scientists. We’re having a 3-day annual planning meeting, and at times it can get pretty tense. Outside of the meetings I occasionally socialize with one of the women, and had once done a tarot reading for her. She shared with me an interesting insight on the Seven of Swords today, and how it helped her get through the frustrating parts of these meetings.

At first, I thought – sure, it would. When you’re looking at it in its more positive and less sneaky aspects, it’s all about making do with what you can carry or manage, and leaving some things for another day – or, thinking with ingenuity about difficult problems that may not have good solutions. But her take on it was quite different.

I don’t actually remember which deck we were using that day – perhaps it was Druidcraft (I don’t have it here to check the image). She remembered a Seven of Swords in which some of the swords were stuck in the ground. She often feels ignored in this group, even though she has more experience in the subject matter than many of these folks. So, she imagines herself placing her swords in the ground, like gifts of ideas or thoughts to the group, which the group can take or leave as it chooses.

I have also seen this card as trying (but not succeeding) to take or carry all of the swords. I never thought of giving away the swords (and perhaps holding back a few of your own), without really being sure of whether they would be wanted or how they would be used – as ideas or as weapons? – but offering them anyway.

It was also interesting that she held that particular image and used it productively in the meetings. This is a very difficult group and it is not easy to facilitate, and I realized that working with tarot after the meeting always calmed me down, although I had never tried to connect the two activities. I think I’ll have to ask the tarot which card would help me keep a positive outlook throughout :)

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The best tarot class I’ve ever taught

This week I added some new materials to the site, including what I consider the most fun and enlightening tarot class I ever had the pleasure of teaching, which was really at least as much about the four elements as it was about tarot. I had just read Deborah Lipp’s book The Way of Four, and was anxious to put it into practice. So, I designed a 10-week online course that integrated study of the four elements in tarot with study of the four elements as they manifest in our lives, and included conscious manifestation of a balanced life and specific objectives using tarot and the elements. This was such a great course, not least due to all the fantastic “students” that participated – definitely one of those where you get at least as much out of it as you give. I hope you enjoy these materials, which can be found on the Course Materials page.

I have also added a couple of new articles to the Articles page, including one on gaining confidence in your tarot readings, and one with tips for reading at psychic fairs and other public venues. Enjoy!

September 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment