Writing your own L.W.B.

While the Tarot is a well defined method of divination, not all decks speak the exact same way. I’ve noticed that with one of my decks the Wands cards consistently keep coming up in readings with contexts around ‘work,’ while with a different deck’s Wands come up in ‘relationship’ contexts. So when doing readings with the first deck I know that the Wands have to do with Work, and with the other, relationships. Having spoken to fellow readers about this idea it seems this isn’t an uncommon occurrence and many of my fellow Tarotists have different frameworks of interpretation for each deck in their arsenal. I also find that readers, experienced or newb, need time with a new deck until they get a handle on it’s particular ‘accent,’ and I want to share an idea for a technique for ‘breaking in’ a new deck and it’s particular meanings and interpretations. Hopefully this will be useful for both experienced tarot readers as well as newcomers to the art.

Nearly all decks come with a book describing the iconography and meanings of the cards. This can vary from massive and gorgeous tomes of artwork and references and background information, to the (in-)famous ‘Little White Book,’ which is tiny, cheap and often more difficult to read than the cards themselves. While I personally find having the “LWB” to understand what the creator may have intended with their cards initially useful at first, I also find the cards and I develop our own meanings often far afield from the original intent. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t feel restricted to the original intent of the creator. Once you buy that deck, it’s yours and your relationship with that deck is more important than authorial intent.

So how do you go about learning a given deck’s ‘dialect’? By spending time with it, of course. Immersion is good for learning languages and the subtleties of a new tarot or oracle deck. Doing single card readings every day for yourself is a great practice. I first learned all the cards meanings and how to explain them to others by performing single-card readings to passerby’s to our tarot booth. For the newcomer, it’s a great way to drill the meanings of the cards and practice your delivery. It also lets you focus on one card at a time, discover it’s intricacies and note when and how it comes up. The context when a certain card shows up has a lot to do with what that card’s trying to tell you as well and should be noted.

I’m a visual and rote learner; I remember better when I see things (as opposed to hearing them) and when i write things down. Thus, I recommend making your own Little White Books for your new decks. Acquire (or make!) yourself a small journal and keep it with your new deck. When you discover a new meaning or association for a given card, write it down in that LWB!

What kind of journal should you use?

Well that’s entirely up to you but here are my suggestions: Nothing too big. A5 to A6 size on the ISO scale, 5×8” or smaller for American scales. (See HERE for a breakdown of paper sizes.)

An A6 or 3.5” x 5.5” should be able to fit in the same bag as most tarot decks. You’ll want 48 to 80 pages or so. Designate the first couple pages as an Index then set aside a half-page to a full page for each card in the deck (78 cards, at half a page each is 39 pages. Plus a couple of Index pages and some spares means a 48 page ‘field notebook’ should do you fine.)

Here are some Amazon links to similar journals to what I’ve used:

A 6-pack of A6 line ruled 30 sheet journals.

A pack of basic A5 60 page journals.

Some 3.5×5.5” Field Notebooks.Same as above, but in bright colors.

Now you don’t have to write out long expository delves into each cards meaning. Go make an online blog for that! Instead your LWB should focus on the keywords that come to mind when viewing the card as well as contextual notes about when and how it comes up in your readings. The very act of writing these down helps reinforce their meaning in your memory. Later, when you draw that card again and you reference your LWB journal, you’ll see the contexts and correspondences that have come up with the card previously, further reinforcing what that card means for you. Feel free to add new ones or modify old ones as needed. Your LWB should be a ‘living’ document: constantly changing and updating with experience.

Cryptocurrencies and the suit of Coins

Cryptocurrencies are a hot new item in the world of digital engineering and social experimentations. Bitcoin being the best known, these ‘alternative currencies’ are evolving to solve the challenges an increasingly complicated world that is also increasingly paranoid about both personal privacy and privately held monetary systems (I.e. Big banks).

At its simplest, cryptocurrencies are digital objects, with built-in transactional history that can be verified via complex cryptographic means. Unlike other digital assets, you can’t just copy a bitcoin and give it away; the original and the copy have the same history and anyone checking that history can tell that it has been copied. Every time a digital ‘coin’ changes hands or is otherwise interacted with, that action is recorded in the history of the object, and thus can be verified.  There are still tons of legal and social questions surrounding the use of cryptocurrencies, but they aren’t going away as a concept anytime soon.

It may seem strange to want to write about digital alternatives to cash and credit, but the  Tarot is also evolving with the times and I’m here to explore those possibilities spaces. So just what do cryptocurrencies have to do with the Tarot? Well it starts with the suit of Coins, naturally.

Coins, Pentacles, Earth energy; all the variants of this suit refer to physical goods, tangible assets, wealth and power. Physical currencies are an abstraction for wealth and make trading and accounting easier; cryptocurrency is just the latest example that started with seashells used in barter. But most of all, if you look at the suit of Coins as a chain of exchanges, then the linkage between the suit of Coins and Cryptocurrency becomes even more important. If one goes linearly from Ace to Ten, one sees a legacy of events and exchanges that ‘coin’ has been involved it. From the decisions of the Two and Three of Pentacles, to the stability of the Four, the fallow times of the Five, and the entrepreneurism of the Six, Seven and Eight, to the accumulation and display of the Nine and Ten; the lifecycle of the suit of Coins show economic life-flow. Remember: that card didn’t just spring, fully formed for economic impact, from the nothingness of someone’s purse. It has been exchanged for work, for goods, for usury and for investment time and time again. It’s history is part of its value: the dollar is strong because it’s done so much, been used everywhere, appreciated by everyone for it’s value.

When you draw a Coins card, consider that it’s face value represents the stage of its economic journey. Perhaps draw again until you have two more Coins cards, and lay them next to the original; this show where the coin came from and where it shall go. While I can’t know the complete history of the quarter in my hand, I can know the transactional history of a BitCoin because that transactional history is part of the very identity of that BitCoin. Since Tarot cards are instances along lifecycles, I can use them to tell the history of something, because that’s part of its very definition; it’s cryptogram.

Cryptogram,

Pentagram,

Pentacle,

Coin.

22 days of BATS 2014. Day Twenty-Two: The Fool

And we’re back at the beginning.

How fitting that this 22 day journey started with The Magician, and ended with The Fool? And here, the day after BATS2014, life seems to begin anew. New ideas, new friends, new inspirations and new opportunities. Not to mention new aches and pains and debts to pay off 🙂 So The Fool is entirely fitting for the day after BATS2014.

So often we interpret the Fool as a know-nothing adventurer and free spirit wanderer, but now we can also see the Fool as the spirit of new beginnings; his association with all the Aces of the minor Arcana isn’t accidental: He’s the archetype of inspired explorer, stepping forth with a head of questions and a desire to find answers.

22 days of BATS 2014. Day Twenty-One: The Devil

The Devil is in the details, but so are the secrets of the universe. Everything isn’t made of earth, fire, water, and air. It’s made of atoms. Those atoms are made of baryons and other sub-atomic particles. What are they made of? We’re still figuring that out.  The Devil is the perpetual chase down the rabbit-hole of understanding. Today, the second day of BATS2014, is a chance to reflect on what has been learned and how our knowledge has grown.

When the Devil comes into play, ask: How far do you wish to go? What are your limits in the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, experience and sensation?

“‘Excuse me, teacher, may I be excused? My head is full.

I have no doubt, by 2015, I’ll be ready to dive deeper into the rabbit hole again for next year’s BATS!

Tomorrow’s card is The Fool

22 days of BATS 2014. Day Twenty: The World!

BATS 2014, day one!

How fitting the card of the day is The World; for BATS is a crossroads of continental and international TAROT enthusiasts; all here to share and intermingle and explore out mutual interest in the metaphysical and .

So the lesson of the World is: don’t isolate yourself. Science and genetics tell us that organisms that are isolated will spiral off on their own paths, often becoming too distinct and different to interact again with their hereditary siblings. The World warns us not to become detached from what’s going on in the world (except when necessary) .

Tomorrow’s card is The Devil!

22 days of BATS 2014. Day Nineteen: The Sun

The Sun is often described as ‘the source of all life and energy on Earth.’

But the Sun is so bright and so overwhelming, we can’t see the Stars while the Sun is in the sky. Even the Moon is difficult to see clearly when the Sun is shining brightly. We depend on the Sun, deify it and worship it.

So when the Sun comes into play, what all-important source does it represent? More importantly, what is it obscuring you from seeing? What alternatives is the Sun blinding you to? Draw another card, place it face-down and underneath the Sun card; when and if you want to know what you can’t see because of your dependence on The Sun, turn that card over.

Tomorrow’s card is the The World.

22 days of BATS 2014. Day Eighteen: The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man is about patience and perspective. But day lets turn it a bit more around and seek an alternative way to look at the Hanged Man (like I’ve been doing so far on this writing challenge). The Hanged Man is suspended, either by rope or pinned to a cross.

When the Hanged Man comes into play, look what cards are near his head, feet and hands. What significance are these other cards in terms of what’s keeping the Hanged Man where he is, or what may they have to do with the means of his escape?

Tomorrow’s post is The Sun!

22 days of BATS 2014. Day Sixteen: The Star

” Twinkle Twinkle little star,

How I wonder what you are.”

Stars have always represented mystery and wonder. From the spirits of ancestors, to literal holes in the blanket of night sky, we humans have longed to know more about these lights in the sky that only appear at night. That wonder drove philosophers, naturalists, scientists to keep asking questions and learning more about this universe and the way it works. So here’s today’s alternate way to look at the star: A subtle mystery that begs resolution. The Star inspires speculation and investigation; learning and growth.

Tomorrow’s card is The Lovers