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ExercIse One

Facevalue

This is an easy exercise, but it is also the most important part of your journey along the path which is the Tarot, so please do this one often, even long after you have "mastered" the meanings and hidden wisdom of the Tarot. Regardless of what you read anywhere, including in the pages of this book, the most important meaning you can discern from the Tarot is the one that resonates within you. Nothing else matters. That is why Tarot cards have images on them. Visual symbols provide an immediate stimulation of your subconscious mind that written descriptions cannot achieve.

subconscious mind that written descriptions cannot achieve. You are impacted and affected by what you see,

You are impacted and affected by what you see, so rather than allowing your knowledge of the Tarot

to become little more than a knee-jerk reaction to the writings of some long-dead "authority" of mysticism, we want you to see with your own eyes first. This skill is vastly underrated by too many peo- ple, but it is the fundamental talent of the grand master (shhl Don't tell anyone we told you that- you

aren't supposed to

ability to combine traditional scholarly knowledge with ageless wisdom (which we can all use some of), and their finely attuned instinct to know what the best course of action is at the moment. This is true of any profession, and most especially true in the esoteric sciences. So the easiest and most direct path is to start training you to trust and sharpen your instincts from the very beginning, rather than try to force you to learn a set of rules and dogma in a sterile environment. Look at it this way:

Long before you learned vowels and consonants, you knew what an apple was, or what flavor of ice

learn that until year 7 of mystery school). What makes a "master" just that is their

cream you liked the best. Labels are identifiers; they are not the object itself. That being said, let's start with the objects. We will begin with the so-called "minor" Arcana.

Dig out your cards, and if they are not in order, please take a moment to put them so. Make five piles: One for each suit, or house, and one pile for the "major" Arcana, which you can simply toss haphazardly in no particular order. They are not important right now. Sort out each of your suits Ace through 10 and then Page, Knight, Queen, and finaIIy King.

Now pick up the suit of Wands. If you are using a different deck than the one we use to illustrate this book, your deck may use any of the following terms: "Rods, Slaves, Clubs, Sticks, etc." Once you have the right suit in your hand, please proceed.

Starting with the Ace of Wands, look at it and ask your mind what it sees. If you were standing in that picture:,. how would it affect you? You can describe the image to yourself ("1 see a hand holding a stick-so what?''), or you can focus on any symbols you happen to be familiar with. The image may be static, or in this case, the falling leaves may indicate that the stick is being shaken, as in the term "shaking the tree." It's all very personal and highly individual. All that matters is that you look at the card and see what it says to you.

If any particular card makes an impression on you beyond what is in the picture, that is good as well. For example, if the Ace of Wands says to you, "God's got his thumpin' stickl" that is just as valid as any interpretation you will ever read in a book, for it is your mind processing the visual stimulus to create a sense of meaning and order from the card. This is the purpose of the Tarot in any case.

So, on to the next card. Take a look at the 2 of Wands. That's the one with the man standing between two sticks, holding a globe. What does that say to you? What does it look like he is doing? Why would he possibly do that anyway? If you were standing next to him, what would you ask him? What is he looking at anyway? Is he planning something big? Can you tell who he might be in society (a mer-

chant, a guard, a king, a thief

) by the way he is dressed and what he is doirJs?

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Go through the rest of the suit of Wands, examining each card casually for as

Go through the rest of the suit of Wands, examining each card casually for as long as you like. Generally we recommend no more than 2-3 minutes per card your first few times through. You can even "spot" read them, forcing yourself to look at them for only 10-15 seconds before flipping them over and asking yourself what you just saw, and what it means to you at face value. Remember, ~ opinion is as valid as~any "expert's" you will ever meet. Other people can enhance your under- standing of what you experience, but no one can dictate what you see and feel. When you feel comfortable, go through the rest of the suits, lOOking at each and asking each card who it is and what it does. Start with the Cups, then the Swords, and finally the Coins (or Pentacles). Don't push yourself too hard, but try to do this at least once a day over the next few weeks.

A quick note on "Pentacles." No matter what your deck calls them, see them as :wId coins, not as reli- gious or magical symbols. The seditious act of changing coins into pentacles in the circles of the suit of Coins was a whim of an artist long ago that detracts from the meaning of Jh~ which is "money." Instead they look like wooden pagan symbols painted yellow, which makes interpretation needlessly confusing and counterintuitive. Adding "stars" to the suit of Coins has served no purpOse except to confuse and intimidate the public, and of course to enrage conservative Christian sects in the twentieth century (which is always fun). When you create the art for your own personal deck one day, you can add pink fuzzy bunnies if you like to your coins with no ill effects. In any case, please proceed with your glances at each individual card of the "minor" Arcana, suit by suit, asking yourself what surface impressions you get from each card.

Okay I did that

now what?

mi1,

Hopefully now you have gone through each of the suits, 1 through 10 and glanced at the royal family of each suit. You should see the subtle themes of each suit starting to form, and the differences between the royal families. Now pick a suit and layout all fourteen cards of that suit. If you have the space available, toss the royal family down in order (Page, Knight, Queen, King) and make either two horizontal rows of five cards each, or one long row of ten cards with the rest just below the court cards. In either case, put them in order from Ace to 10. Leave the "major" Arcana off to the side for right now. Do any patterns jump out at you? Do you see any themes'! It's okay at this moment if you can, or if you can't. At this point we are just glancing at the cards as a group and seeing if anything jumps out. If not, pile them back up in order and set them aside and do the same with the rest of the suits. If you would like an example of what we mean, please see the shaded box below. Our example theme below is entirely optional, and should not impede your personal conclusions.

Throughout this book we will consistently admonish you not to accept other people's interpretation of the Tarot cards as your own unless you agree with their perceptions, and even then we strongly encourage you to remember that meanings change from reading to reading. Listen to your teachers but hold random opinions you hear or read in polite contempt until you have had an opportunity to verify them for yourself. The very worst thing you can do to yourself is to accept any teaching as sacred and sacrosanct, above questioning. The sooner you learn this and adapt to the liquid nature of the Tarot, the easier (and more accurate) your readings will be. Modern "traditional meanings" are nothing more than a confusing amalgamation of centuries of opinion and interference by countless "experts," much of which is highly contradictol)'. Keep studying, keep practicing. Perhaps one day in the near future Yill! will rewrite the ''true meaning'" of the Tarot and we will all have to listen to you

as "the preeminent authority."

to listen to you as "the preeminent authority." fJI (ir die 5)~ l1li4' onemfgllf a:e" .

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.

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Exercjse One vjsual examples

Exercjse One vjsual examples >-Jere are a few visual examples with some thoughts on what the

>-Jere are a few visual examples with some thoughts on what the cards might be saying at first blush, These are in tended only as an aid to thos e who are having difficulty with this exe rcise. Please do not a low these examples to cloud or distort your own unique perceptions.

examples to cloud or distort your own unique perceptions. T!lis s u)' looks likc he is

T!lis s u)' looks likc he is tlying ',' hold onto his mOllcy and

, ilow off how wealthy he i he sa mc time ,

is al

and , ilow off how wealthy he i he sa mc time , is al This
and , ilow off how wealthy he i he sa mc time , is al This

This card looks pretty happy Falllily, nicc house with lots of land, even a rainbow, Looks like Ihey got whal Ihcy wanl,

Whal a jerkl li s beld enough 10 bully people, but 10 stand alld g loal over Ihem <IS welI won't makc you !III)' friends.

Ihem <IS welI won't makc you !III)' friends. And here are three cards jn sequence, ,

And here are three cards jn sequence, , . (make up your own intetpretations jf you like)

, . (make up your own intetpretations jf you like) So much fightillg here! Nolice Ihat

So much fightillg here! Nolice Ihat evelyone has Ihcir own !ilke on Ihillgs,

z

,

Nolice Ihat evelyone has Ihcir own !ilke on Ihillgs, z , Wcil, looks like this g

Wcil, looks like this g uy

wall. Now he is Ihc killS of Ihe hiil for a l i1lle

uy wall. Now he is Ihc killS of Ihe hiil for a l i1lle Well, Ihat

Well, Ihat didn't lasl very long, It seems 1I0W Ihal evclyone wants 10 !ilke him on

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Exercise ""lA" Looking be~ond uface value" (Please get o ut y o ur study deck.)

Exercise ""lA" Looking be~onduface value"

(Please get o ut y o ur study deck.) This is a good exe rci se to practice with a friend or two, or in a class. There are no " rig ht" or " wrong" answers to th e questions posed her e, mere ly the value of eac h

observation in a particular reading. The goal of this exercise is to quickly spot the "face" value of

no more than five seconds

something, give yourself a gold sta r. If not, si mply flip th e card and proc eed

to th e next. In a classroom set ting it is usually best to ask for students to volunteer a nswe rs du e to the esca la ting difficulty with ea c h additional meaning applied. If you happ e n to be alon e at the moment a nd want to stretch your perceptive ab ilities, then simply give yourself a few seconds to "look beyond

per p e rson. If you see

each card, and th en to

quickly spot additional implica tions suggested. Take

th e most o bvious," but limit yours elf to what co mes to mind qui ckly. There is absolutely no value at this time in adding stress to your studies. Below are a few visual exa mpl e s.

(Person olle:)

Okay, first impression :

Our friend here has "had eno ugh" an d now he is leaving. He ha s set everything in order and he docsn't even stop to say goodbye.

(Person two:)

Yes, but look! It 's nig ht! He's proba bly skipping town.

(Person three:)

i thoug ht he was going hiking ac tually. See? He has a jacket, and boots, and a walking stick

See? He has a jacket, and boo ts, and a walkin g stick (Person on e:)
See? He has a jacket, and boo ts, and a walkin g stick (Person on e:)

(Person on e:)

i d unn o

It looks

like

a I h icf to /li e.

(Person two:)

I got nothing. (g, rrr

.

.

.)

(Person three:)

aut look at those g uys in

the backgro und on

the

left. They look like the camp belongs to Ih em . It seems that somcone is goofing an-:>lIl1d instead of doing their job. They probably should ha ve had a guard dog rather thall the lazy bU/li they hired to wa tch th eir swords.

thall the lazy bU/li they hired to wa tch th eir swords. (Person one:) This is
thall the lazy bU/li they hired to wa tch th eir swords. (Person one:) This is

(Person one:)

This is emptiness of the soul. It is an allegory o f having wealth without

a deeper connection to

what is most important in life: health, love, and

a connection to nahlrc.

(Person two:)

r th ought th ey were just homeless.

(Person three:)

Ow. [got this card once. Two days laler, my jerk iandle>rd kicked me 011 1 of th e hOllse!

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my jerk iandle>rd kicked me 011 1 of th e hOllse! 18 (Person fOllr:) No, can't

(Person fOllr:)

No, can't you see? This is the abjeet

failure of religion to attend to th e

needs of the poor, the il]jured, and th e dowl1trodden. These are the

~ people religion claims to help

wh en the chu rch asks you to fork

over your wal/eIT This is the basis of e verything th at is wrong with society, when compassion is jLlst a marke ting tool for greed and a lust

for llnquestionable power-

(Per son one :)

f2kfD', r thin k my beloved activist giri[rien d has had II wee bit too much caffeine loday.

(Person two:)

1 wallt <I Pop-Tart