majors and my story

I’m slowing down in the Alternative Tarot Course; the exercises for the Majors are taking awhile. So I’ll just go bit by bit.

The point here is to think about how each of the trumps corresponds with my personal history.  And obviously that’s not always a great thing to think about.  Plus, there’s a lot of damn cards.

I see my childhood defined by the Wheel of Fortune and the Hierophant: the jumble of luck and circumstances that made me who I am, and the religion of my parents.

I also see a lot of the Hermit. I loved to read or just be out roller skating by myself. I was either uncomfortable around others or overcompensating by trying to do the things I thought other people did. I may have had a touch of something that impaired social interaction; I really didn’t understand what people were doing, and so I didn’t know how to make friends. I could fake it, but eventually kids figured out I wasn’t really there there. If that makes sense.

But that disconnection helped me, in a way. I was able to be calm because I didn’t care (I didn’t know what I was supposed to care about), and I still identify with Temperance today. A lot of times I still feel like I’m faking it; I never quite learned how to be intimate with others, in the sense of being myself. Alternatively, I feel comfortable around someone and just talk about whatever pops into my head.

I got married at 18: the Fool.

Also the Chariot, rushing out thinking I know my strength.

My wedding night: the Tower. (Yep, that bad.)

After that, it’s a jumble: the Moon, for being the crawfish always trying to crawl out of the water and the wolves howling a warning while the moon looks disturbed about something. This is definitely a good card for my marriage. But, bad as my marriage was, I don’t see the Moon as a bad card. It was a difficult time, but that’s just how long it took for me to pull my determination together and get out.

Losing my faith in the Christian God: Death.

My ex-husband not able to deal with that: the Emperor

Me, not giving a fuck: the High Priestess.

The Star, pouring myself out, trying to give the whole thing one last chance.

And Strength, of course, for finally leaving.  And now that I think about it, the Tower belongs here, too.

All that is the easy part, stuff I’ve already processed.  I’ll try working on the more recent stuff another day.

majors and my story


ok ok ok ok ok


I just found something cool.

Maybe this is common knowledge for tarot people, I don’t know.  Even if it is, I still feel great for having noticed it on my own.

Get out your majors and put them in order.  (I did this with Rider-Waite-Smith.)  Pull the Fool and set her aside for now.

Now you’re going to look at them in pairs.  Put the one from the top of the deck (The Magician) next to the one from the bottom (The World).  That’s one pair.  It’s also somewhat obvious; the magician, full of youthful confidence while the world holds not one, but two wands, and holds them lightly, without flourishes.  Her power is evident; she doesn’t have anything to prove.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: Go to the next front and back card: High Priestess and judgment.

Etc, until they’re all paired up and justice is left.  Put it with the fool.  Now look at what you’ve got.


Look at that.

The High Priestess, sitting quietly with her secrets; and the last Judgment, where everything is revealed.

The Emperor and The Moon; his realm of order contrasted with the things that keep him up at night.

The hierophant, sitting on a throne wearing trappings of authority while others come to him for knowledge; and the Star, sky-clad and pouring water freely with both hands.

You’ve probably noticed that The Lovers pair visually with The Devil.  But now you see the lovers falling from the tower.

The Devil, meanwhile, is with the Chariot, showing a warning to reign in your impulses and your freshly gained power, because you may head down the wrong path.

Strength and Temperance.

The Hermit, bowing his head, understanding and accepting that Death is inevitable.

The Wheel of Fortune, and the Hanged Man, victim of its turning.

And in the middle: Justice, deciding what to do with this Fool.


The Fool

I’m not trying to pull trumps. It’s a coincidence.

I am a deep believer in coincidence. As in: I’m not a believer in fate, or messages being sent from the universe or literal gods.  Humans are pattern-seeking machines, and whatever happens, we will find meaning in the patterns we notice.

That being said, yesterday was the first time I shuffled and pulled a card with a question in mind: how should I approach sobriety from alcohol?

I originally called this blog “sober tarot” but I messed up registering that name with wordpress.)

So who pops up? The Fool.

Maybe I should have called this blog “lol tarot” because it’s starting to feel like my deck is trying to be cute.

So The Fool at first glance: we’ve got this dumb motherfucker going on a journey, head in the clouds, walking off a cliff.

But when I keep looking, the fool is excited. He’s dressed in fine clothes, it’s a beautiful day, he has a little puppy companion with him. He has packed light, maybe because he’s only planning on a short journey. There’s a lot of brightness and joy in this card, speaking to that feeling of having endless possibilities. It’s also showing the innocence of youth or inexperience, and foreshadowing that this is not going to go as planned. So it’s a very hopeful card, but one with a pretty big caveat.

The tradition of the fool in a royal court is to be an entertainer. But he’s also the one guy who can say anything– he’s safe from accusations of treason. It’s part of his role: he is entertaining, but he’s expected to have insight, even if he’s only saying things everyone else is too afraid to say. So the fool isn’t as dumb as he wants you to think he is.

Yesterday I was thinking about who I know that is most fool-ish. The first person I thought of is my dad. He also happens to be where I get my tendency toward alcoholism; his mom once told me “everyone in my family is a drunk.” My dad has always been a carefree kindof guy. Bit of an artistic type, crafty and handy, musical, a tinkerer. His dad told me once, “your dad has always been a sensitive person.” He fell in with an authoritative church before I was born, so he always had to be the Head Of The Family, and I don’t think that ever sat too well with him. He was told that his family needed to respect and obey him, and so he tried to be that guy, but it really wasn’t him. Eventually he fell apart. Lost his faith, was laid off during the tech bust, started drinking too much and smoking pot. I had moved out, but he turned pretty nasty to my mom and my siblings. He’s mellowed a bit (lots of pot will tend to do that) and works as a contractor when he can get a gig, but mostly sits in his office playing video games and vaping.

This isn’t a blog about my family. But for me, associating this card with my dad reminds me to know who I am and be true to myself– not just when starting out on a journey, but at different points along the way. There are people who will try to lead you astray, and there are cliffs to fall off. Don’t be as dumb as you look.

What does the fool have to say to my sobriety question? He might say, like grandma’s AA tradition, “one day at a time.” Every morning I wake up sober, I am the fool setting out on a journey. Alcohol is for celebrating, not for forgetting. If I want to be carefree and excited, I better also be sober and aware. If not…

Anyways, the Fool’s little bag is only big enough for a sandwich.

The Fool

The Chariot

Well, this guy stumped me for a day. I couldn’t even see the wheels of his chariot at first. And why are these lady sphinxes just hanging out? What is this symbol in the middle?

Okay, slow down. What do I know about chariots. Pretty sure they were elite fighters. I mean, imagine having to drive a damn box around by controlling some animals, plus, you’ve got reins in one hand and a spear in the other. You’re not driving while someone else is fighting, you’re wrangling horses and stabbing bad guys with a long pointy stick.  (Or at least the charioteer in this card is; I’m sure someone in history had the bright idea to let one guy drive and another guy stab.) That means there’s no way to carry a shield. You are going to die unless you’re the best of the elite.

Back to the card. The animals are resting, the charioteer is dressed ceremonially. He’s hanging out having his portrait done. Why? Because he won.

This card is victory– and not due to luck, either. Skilled victory.

Also, I’m thinking about control– having it, taking it, being respected for it. Also, the benefits or rewards associated with skill, control, and just overall winning.

I like this one.

The Chariot

The Emperor

This morning I drew one card: IV, The Emperor.

Let me pause here a moment to say: I’m a feminist. I don’t read books by “dudes” (some men are okay) and I don’t listen to music with dude singers.  Having grown up in an authoritative, patriarchal religion, I avoid men and male authority whenever possible.

So, The Emperor, huh?  Well played, tarot. Well played.

First, the facts.  The Emperor sits on his throne holding a scepter and what looks like a little golden lemon. He is wearing red robes, but also greaves, so he is a warrior. He has a long white beard and a crown, giving him a pretty solid appearance of authority.

But he’s looking to his right, rather than straight at me. He’s not confident in his position. Does he have enemies? Has someone challenged his right to the throne? He fought to obtain it; will he lose it the same way?

The Emperor might be armored, but he is unarmed; he’s delegated his defense. Where are his soldiers? Has he been betrayed? Or are they uncovering the plot while he waits?

How much longer will they be loyal to him?

In this card I see the insecurity of the authoritative men of my childhood, their need to control me– not for my own good, but to prove their holiness to each other and to secure their place in heaven. I see the death of the god of men, maybe even religious anarchy.

Perhaps this is the perfect card to begin with, after all. 

The Emperor