A Tarot Student's Journey

Archive for the ‘Major Arcana’ Category

Daily Sketch – Death


Every ending is also a new beginning. The death card often depicted showing a skeleton or grim reaper is arguably the most dreaded card in the tarot. It needn’t be though. It’s position in the Major Arcana at 13 indicates that is not a final ending. There’s still plenty more journeying to come. As such it represents a transition and presents us with the opportunity to decide how we are we going to handle this transition. Will you fight it, avoid it, or embrace it openly?

In this sketch I wanted to show this transition. Moving through to the other side, setting aside our worldly attachments, letting our physical attachments dissolve away and going into a place of light with open arms.


Daily Sketch – The Hierophant

Tarot - The Hierophant

Are you saved?!

I admit. I have never liked this card. The traditional image is that of The Pope or a priest in full religious regalia sitting between two columns giving a blessing with one hand while two lesser priests gaze up at him dutifully. The word literally means ‘the one who teaches the Holy things’. It represents the power to reel in our human base instincts and to lay down the moral law. The Hierophant is the intermediary between God and Earth. He can also represent a teacher, a therapist, a guru, good advice, a career path, morality, individuation. To me, The Hierophant smacks of hypocrisy and oppression.

I grew up, a lone voice of dissent, in the ultra conservative Bible Belt so what comes up for me around The Hierophant is not positive at all. Today I imagined into being a Christian Fundamentalist Street Preacher or maybe a circuit preacher as was common in the old days. Here he is all fire and brimstone laying down the moral law. I imagine that just out of site one of his flock have been overcome by the Holy Spirit and are speaking in tongues. The Hierophant is there to interpret the meaning of this divine message. But he’s holding his Bible upside down. And he looks a bit like Elvis. The performance and showmanship is important. The trappings of a pious life are part of the message. His teaching leads up the hill to the confines of a little white country church wherein one presumably finds salvation. Or maybe just some stale communion wafers.

“If you want to get anywhere in religion, you got to keep it sweet.”
― Flannery O’ConnorWise Blood


Tarosophy, Living The Archetypes and The Magician

Last week I picked up a copy Marcus Katz’ Tarosophy and plowed through it in a couple of days. While I have mixed feelings about the book it does have some terrific exercises to help open up your intuition and get to know the cards on a much deeper level.  After reading his book I decided to embark on his ‘Living The Archetypes‘ exercise. Touted as the ‘most powerful and life changing’ exercise in the book, the exercise can take from six to eighteen months to complete. Most people, Katz says, will only complete this exercise once in their entire life. (He’s done it three times over 30 years).

Living The Archetypes Method

This exercise is designed to show you how the archetypal energies of the Major Arcana are turning up in your life. Starting with The Magician you remove the card from the deck and place it somewhere of prominence where you will see it on a regular basis throughout your day. And then you wait. Eventually an event will occur that you will recognise as The Magician. When it happens, you return the card to the deck and move on to the next card. If you have to ask ‘Was that really The Magician?’ then it probably wasn’t. When the event happens it will be unmistakable.

Where’s My Magician?

Tarot - The Magician

The Magician channels divine energy into earthly manifestations.

I started this exercise 5 days ago by pulling The Magician from an old Rider-Waite deck and sticking him up on the wall in my living room. I read a few descriptions of The Magician in different books and tried to imagine how he might turn up for me but kept drawing blanks. I couldn’t think of one single example of something that could possibly happen to me that might constitute Magician-like qualities in my life. I secretly worried that it wouldn’t happen before I flew to America in two weeks time. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be sitting on a trans-atlantic flight worrying that The Magician’s trickster qualities might strike at any moment.

Keywords associated with The Magician are power, focussed will, creation, manifestation,skill, concentration, action, resourcefulness. The Magician is associated with Hermes, can be a bit of a trickster and balances that place between Sleight of Hand Con Artist and Magus. None of this particularly resonates with where I am at the moment, which is generally low – both physically and emotionally. I’ve been more Hermit than Magician for some time now.

This Is Where The Magic Happens

The Dog Tarot

Nostradogus – The Magician

Today, against every fiber of my body telling me to go back to bed, I decided to take the dog out for a long walk along a bit of the London Circular Walk from Finsbury Park to Highgate, a wooded trail following, for the most part, a disused railway line. Today was cold but bright and sunny. We walked fast, the dog running circles around me, dashing off ahead exploring, following scents undetected by my mere human senses but always coming back when I called. He was immediately happy to have space, to have fresh air, real dirt and leaves and grass under his paws, squirrels to chase, other dogs to greet. Have you ever seen a dog smile? It’s unmistakable. It wasn’t long before I realised that I was smiling too.

I took a deep breath and understood that this was my medicine. Nature. And that I’d been neglecting taking my medicine for the entire Autumn. Several times the dog would dart off to my left, dash up a bank of trees or into some shrubs and disappear long enough for me to worry that he wasn’t coming back. Each time, the second I began to go off to the left to look for him there he would be running up to me from the right. He seemed to understand it was a game – this disappearing and reappearing act. He was laughing at me. Enjoying the game. And he was totally in control. This was his game. Not mine.

Then something shifted. Everything began to slow down, the light filtering through the autumn leaves turned golden and sparkly casting shimmering speckles over the ground beneath my feet. Something stirred in my heart and I saw the dog as a pure flash of light, a spark of  instinct, totally in his element, at one with the environment and at one with me. We understood each other without words and were moving completely in sync and in tune with each other in the forest. Here was my Magician in the guise of a scruffy little dog delighting in this single, golden, moment.

Yes,  I thought, I can still see the magic.

Daily Tarot Sketch – The Tower

The Tower

Let’s Blow The Roof Off This Mutha!

The Tower is one of my favourite cards since it heralds the end of something making way for the beginning of something new. Endings can often be traumatic and The Tower portents a sudden ending, shocking, a flash of light delivering disaster. But you can also look at it as blasting away all the negative thought patterns, mental hang-ups, emotional patterns – all the things that bind us and keep us where we are. Once these are cleared away then we have the opportunity for expansion, raised awareness, and spiritual growth. I think there’s also an element of Kundalini Rising in The Tower, rising up the spine and blasting out the top.

I’ve always felt that the people being cast out of The Tower in Rider-Waite deck don’t look too unhappy about it. In fact they seem to be smiling in my deck. In the sketch I’ve captured that joy and freedom by adding figures dancing around the base of The Tower. They’ve pushed the nuclear button and are celebrating by holding a rave. On the horizon it’s a dawn of a new day…

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Daily Tarot Card Sketch – The Hermit

The Hermit is solitary figure who has retreated inward to go on an inner journey, reach a new spiritual level. She shines her light for others, from the heart. She doesn’t teach a lesson to others, she is the lesson.

I did today’s sketch on an iPad app called Paper which I absolutely LOVE. You get to create tiny little moleskine like sketch books and fill them with notes, drawing, whatever you like.

The Hermit - Tarot

The light comes from the heart

Daily Tarot Card Sketch – The Magician

Tarot - The Magician

The Magician as Con Man?

Today’s quick, stream of consciousness sketch is The Magician. Keywords, ideas, that came to mind for me today were: performer, trickster, bag of tricks, travel, movement, dynamic, fast talking, things are not what they seem on the surface, coyote, dancing circus bear, dynamic male energy.

What he’s selling isn’t as important as the performance and the belief both in himself and from the audience. Maybe what he’s selling has real power but not necessarily in the way he’s selling it. There’s an arrogance here that needs to be tempered with more life experience perhaps?

What is magic? How does it turn up for you?


True Stories: Life As The Hermit

Deep Country: Niel AnselNeil Ansell spent five years living alone in the hills of Wales totally and completely alone.

‘I lived alone in this cottage for five years, summer and winter, with no transport, no phone. This is the story of those five years, where I lived and how I lived. It is the story of what it means to live in a place so remote that you may not see another soul for weeks on end. And it is the story of the hidden places that I came to call my own, and the wild creatures that became my society.’

This is the story of how he journeyed into himself learned to become completely self-sufficient and self reliant and having done so found that rather than uncovering his one true inner voice he began to forget himself. His focus turned wholly outward rather than inward. His journal shifted from a record of all the things he’d seen and done to something more akin to an almanac – the passing of the seasons marked by the comings and goings of birds etc.

Perhaps this is the greatest lesson of The Hermit. Sometimes solitude is needed to move forward. Sometimes an inward journey is necessary to find wisdom, to heal, to find your truth. This will give you a certain peace, self sufficiency, an awareness of your place in nature, but the eventual end may be the annihilation of the self. Is that your path? Or do you have more to give by coming down from the mountain and living your life in accordance with the things you’ve learned? The Hermit carries a lantern which shines outward for others. He emerges from his solitude a guide and a teacher – an example to follow.

I’ve just ordered the book from Amazon so haven’t read it yet, but you can read more here from The Guardian.

How does The Hermit turn up in your life? How are you with being on your own?

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Evolutionary Tarot & Circle Ways

Collaborative conversations with Life's wise whispers in service to personal and communal evolution. To book personal appointments and group experiences, contact me at circleways.james@gmail.com or at (416) 966 - 2685.

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