Have you been reading my blog posts about Pithy Tarot meanings? (There are hundreds of them!) People have asked me if I would write a book with these pithy Tarot meanings, and it is now available on kindle. But I wanted to do more with these meanings, so I worked with a friend who creates iPhone apps, and now the Pithy Tarot app is here! Now you can access these pithy meanings quickly and easily everywhere you go with my Pithy Tarot iPhone app. (Search the iTunes store for “Pithy Tarot” or go to: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pithy-tarot/id816615119?mt=8)
It’s FREE and very easy to use. You can use it to do one-card readings, either to answer a quick question or to get a “card of the day”, and you can use it to quickly find pithy meanings for any specific card, which makes it a study guide and an aid for doing readings on your own.
Do you have an iPad or iPod touch instead of an iPhone? No problem. It works there too.
Finally, I hope you have fun using this app!
My book, The Soul’s Journey is doing well so far, but I would like to reach a wider audience with it, so today I was wondering what else I can do to publicize it. Then it hit me: I had not yet asked the Tarot for suggestions. Of course, it is hard to do a reading for yourself (there is a truism that you are the hardest person to do a reading for), but I have developed several “Tarot for Empowerment” techniques that can help get around that problem. One such technique, which I call “Brainstorming with the Tarot,” uses the cards to facilitate a brainstorming session to get ideas. Here is a quick overview of the process:
- Go through your deck, cards face up, and use your intuitive reactions to quickly pull cards that seem to suggest actions or steps you can take to solve your problem or further your success.
- Based on the cards you pulled, write a list of things you can do in the short term. Brainstorm this: Write anything that comes to mind without censoring any ideas.
- Once you have a list of actions, choose at least one of them and commit to doing something, no matter how small a step, to work toward accomplishing it within the next twenty-four hours.
What follows is one of the cards I pulled along with the actions it suggested. (Note: I used the Alchemical Tarot deck by Robert Place. Some of the cards in that deck are fundamentally different from the RWS versions, so I have included a picture for one such card, the Five of Swords.)
Six of Cups: The idea I got from this card is that I should offer quick, free one-card readings using the material in The Soul’s Journey. The venue I saw for this would be my Tarot Facebook page (LIKE that page if you want to participate in this!) so it could be open to comments and feedback, which furthers the visibility for my book. (I also pulled the Five of Swords, which suggested that I tell people that these readings will focus on healing your psyche, which will lead to practical solutions as a result. Note that the AT’s Five of Swords has a more positive spin than the RWS’s.)
So I have a few requests from my readers here:
- Check out my book, The Soul’s Journey. (And if you have other ideas or offers for publicizing it, let me know!)
- LIKE my Tarot Facebook page so you can participate in this journey: either to get a reading or to participate in the discussions, which will expand upon your understanding of my book.
- Post a comment here if you’ve used the Tarot for brainstorming and let us know how that has worked out for you, or come back and comment if you want to try it.
Postscript: This is just one way to use Tarot cards for brainstorming. There are other ways, which I’ll write about another time.
Ten of Cups:
Life is not about finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It is about being enchanted by all the rainbows of life, whether you do that alone or along with your loved ones.
This pithy meaning was inspired by the rainbow on the RWS version of the Ten of Cups.
The Lovers and the Two of Cups are two cards that seem very similar in meaning, especially based on their typical imagery. (Compare the RWS versions). But why should there be two cards for the same thing? Shouldn’t there be some fundamental difference between their meanings? I would like to suggest one way to view their differences with regards to the word “love.”
One reason for the conflation of these two cards is the fact that the English language has only one word for love. The ancient Greeks, however, had several words that had different nuances. Two of them are Agape, which means spiritual or unconditional love, and Eros, which refers to a more physical, passionate, or sexual love. There is, of course, some overlap of the two concepts, and they are integral to each other. For example, we get married for both aspects of love. However, their individual essences give unique flavor to the two cards, so for me, the Lovers card deals more with Agape and the Two of Cups with Eros.
With this association in mind, we can see that the Lovers card assumes a more spiritual or abstract quality while the Two of Cups is more earthy or practical in its approach. Consequently, the Two of Cups represents the initial flush of passionate love that overwhelms two people as they fall in love, and the Lovers card indicates the concept of love and its pure essence that binds a couple many years down the line. (This profound joining may be potential in their relationship at the outset, but Eros generally eclipses it for a time.) The Lovers card may suggest finding love—the feeling or essential quality—generally in your life, and the Two of Cups might indicate discovering or cultivating a specific relationship. The Lovers card may symbolize the spiritual quality of a relationship, and the Two of Cups might indicate the day-to-day work of maintaining that relationship. The Lovers card may deal with a relationship as a separate, overarching entity that embraces and encompasses two people, and the Two of Cups may represent those two people as individuals acting within the relationship. And so we may see the winged Lion’s head above the two people on the Two of Cups as a symbol of their passionate love and the angel above the people on the Lovers card as their spiritual connection. In any case, a relationship is neither ONE nor TWO; it is not a single thing, and it is not simply two people. It is both. And these two cards deal more with one of those aspects than the other.
Recently, while reading Roger Housden’s book Twenty Poems to Bless Your Marriage, I was taken with the author’s discussion of the difference between the words Agape and Eros and how their difference was exemplified by two poems. “We Take the New Young Couple Out to Dinner” by Carol Tufts, which is a poem about the ardor of a young couple and that of an older one, illustrates Eros. In his poem “A Third Body,” Robert Bly describes a spiritual relationship between two people as a third body, something ephemeral which is above and beyond the two of them. That poem may be seen as a description of Agape. I would refer you to those two poems, which you can find in Housden’s book, to see if they, in their differences, might inform your consideration of the Two of Cups and the Lovers.
 Obviously there are other ways to consider the differences between these two cards. There are many articles on this blog about both of them, and if you are interested, I would like to refer you to a list of them for the Lovers and another list of articles for the Two of Cups.
 Another word, Philia, has more to do with the love of friends. The Three of Cups seems a natural fit for that one.
For some expansion on this pithy advice of the Six of Swords, I recommend a great article titled “The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier” that I read a while back. (Note that this shows a relationship between the Six of Swords and the Six of Pentacles.)
There are no “good” cards or “bad” cards; they all have a spectrum of meaning. Here are some thoughts about negative aspects of a card that is typically seen as being positive.
The High Priestess is not actually one of the cards that is so vividly seen as either a “good card” or a “bad card,” but it is one for which we typically have more of a positive impression than not. Considering also its numerological implications of duality, I thought it would be a good one to examine from both sides.
Interpretations for this card cover a broad spectrum, including areas such as psychic and oracular visions, passivity and withdrawal from activity, the mysterious aspects of femininity, duality, and repressed sexuality. And in most of its interpretations, we can ask, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?”
The High Priestess represents occult or arcane knowledge, i.e., wisdom that is beyond expression or that cannot be understood directly with your rational mind—things like clairvoyance, precognition, and mediumship. On the other hand, its association with the Moon may imply insanity, and the problem is that it can be hard to tell the difference between that and psychic phenomenon. In fact, that is one implication of this card: that there is a blurry line between the two. For example, many people with psychic vision are thought to be crazy (especially in childhood), so they suppress or hide their gift, thinking it to be a curse. Also, there are crazy people who claim to be psychic. Generally, I would find this card to indicate the psychic or intuitive side of that scale, but it can beg the question, or at least indicate that other people are asking it.
The High Priestess represents the archetype of the Oracle. Unfortunately, many famous oracular predictions have been more self-fulfilling than prophetic, which raises the question of destiny and whether prophesies foretell the future or are a catalyst for it. (They may, of course, be a little of both.) For example, take the story of Oedipus and the prophesy that sealed his doom. Oedipus’s father attempted to thwart a prediction that his son would grow up to “murder his father and marry his mother” by leaving the infant to die on a mountainside. But Oedipus was rescued and raised by other people, ignorant of his origins. Years later, upon his return to Thebes, he unwittingly met and killed his father, and subsequently met and wed his mother, things he would not have done had he known who they were. (The story is much more complex than that, of course, but that should give you an idea.) Thus the prophesy was fulfilled due to steps taken to thwart it. Another famous case is that of Macbeth, who was set upon his ruinous career by a prediction that tragically came true only because he had heard it.
In myths, there are basically two archetypes of Oracles—the trusted ones (such as the Oracle of Delphi) or those that are distrusted, the most famous of which is Cassandra, the ignored and maligned Trojan prophetess of the Iliad. That latter case illustrates a dark side of this card and might cause us to wonder sometimes if this oracular aspect of the High Priestess is a good thing or a bad thing. If we see the High Priestess card this way, it can indicate someone whose advice, speculations, or predictions are misunderstood or disregarded. This happens often because people tend to react with denial, dismissal or disdain when they encounter predictions they don’t want to hear.
The mysterious feminine:
In her book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Rachel Pollack says, “The High Priestess … represents a deeper, more subtle aspect of the female; that of the dark, the mysterious, and the hidden.” Similarly, in The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals, Mary K. Greer says this card can indicate that “someone … may be acting mysteriously, cool and aloof.” This card’s astrological association with the Moon furthers that interpretation of mystery and darkness, things that can scare or put off many of us. This is also the part of women that straight men often find so problematic in their relationships with them (as opposed to the sensual feminine represented by the Empress, which they are so drawn to)—hidden or unspoken motivations, the use of innuendo and implications rather than straight-forward statements, and passive-aggressive behavior. Thus, if this card comes up with regards to a relationship, it can indicate those sorts of problems. Alternatively, it may say that someone is misinterpreting your quiet, reserved nature, and they think that you are unfriendly, standoffish, or unapproachable.
In ancient Rome, the priestesses of the goddess Vesta were called Vestal Virgins. Thus, this card has connotations of virginity and purity. However, along with those characteristics, the High Priestess (as well as the Hierophant) can indicate repressed or denied sexuality, and it may also include the negative connotations of a wallflower or a proverbial old maid.
With its connotations of intuitive insight, the High Priestess may indicate the solitude necessary for meditation and introspection. A negative implication associated with that, however, is that of loneliness or even some level of social anxiety disorder.
This card represents passivity, as opposed to activity (often associated with the Magician). Neither of those, however, are good or bad in and of themselves; there is a time and a place for each. Certainly there is value in a temporary withdrawal into quietude which brings respite from the hustle of activity typical of our modern life. With such introspection and soul-searching, we may find a great deal of insightful wisdom. However, a problem for the High Priestess arises when it involves an inability to initiate or carry out actions inspired by those insights. It is also problematic when passivity turns into lethargy or apathy. In addition, this card can indicate a non-confrontational response, which may be good sometimes, but in the wrong circumstances it can lead to being walked all over.
So we see that this card is filled with qualities and interpretations for which we may ask, “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” The various answers to that question lead to a balanced view of the positive and negative aspects of this card.
You can find more blog posts about the other side of the cards listed here: http://jamesricklef.wordpress.com/category/card-meanings/other-side-of-cards/.