A Tarot Student's Journey


I am The Fool, an acrobat, a jester. I have taken the first steps of a new project. Maybe a new job? And have had my first fee successes. I see the potential of something really coming from this. However, suddenly I’m aware of what a precarious place I find myself in. While The Fool steps off the edge of the cliff with total openness, I am fully aware of the dangers. I have a choice that I am balancing and it involves doing a little dance, a performance, in order to work out the best option. Do I go for it? Do I jump off the cliff into the sea? Or do I stick where I am on the top of this green and lovely cliff with this fabulous view?



My daily sketches have slowed down a bit for the time being. It’s December after all and that means holidays, family, and visiting old friends. So for the time being I probably won’t be updating daily. I am still enjoying this as an exercise in creativity and tuning into the energy of the cards.

The latest card is The Empress, symbol of feminine power. I see in The Empress not only symbols of fertility and maternal caring but I also think: glamour, dazzling, bewitching, fierceness and protectiveness. The Empress gives life, celebrates life, nurtures life and infuses creation with a sense of awe.

I’ve recently been working with the Wildwood Tarot and came across a great spread to do when you are getting to know a new deck. Below is my interview of The Wildwood.

1) Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic.
I drew The Hooded Man but The Pole Star fell out of my hand in the exact place I was about to place The Hooded Man so I decided to keep it as an additional message.

I have hidden lessons to teach and guide you on this inner journey in The Wildwood. I will shine my light so that you won’t get lost thus revealing parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed. The journey in the forest can be dark and mysterious sometimes frightening but I have ancient wisdom and knowledge to guide you. You will not be alone. Working with me will also be part of a larger spiritual journey for you. This is what will help you really resonate with my lessons.

2) What Are Your Strengths As A Deck?

Eight of Vessels – Rebirth
I am connected to nature’s deeper rhythms and understand that every ending is also a new beginning. I can show you your connection to the cycle of life, the changing of the seasons, how the cycle of life, death, and rebirth is reflected in your being. My cup runneth over.

3) What are your weaknesses as a deck?20131212-182809.jpg
The Forest Lovers
You will fall in love my images and may lose sight of deeper meaning hidden within me. You may find it difficult to separate your own emotional attachments to my images when reading for other people.

4) What are you here to teach me?
Two of Vessels – Attraction
How fire can be transmuted into water. We all have animal instincts. Releasing yourself to this will fill the cup of emotions. This relationship between us is the beginning of deep polaric bond between the two of us.

5) How can I best collaborate with you?

Three of Stones Creativity
By using my messages to make something new, build something, create. I won’t fail you. I will ground you, protect you, support you and enable you in your creative life. Start by making me a special bag or box so you can keep me close.

6)What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

10 of Stones – Home
I will bring you comfort and security and solace. I will connect you to your true, authentic, self. Take me with you wherever you go and I will always show you the way home.

Not really sure about The Forest Lovers and how that might be a limitation of the deck? Any ideas?


I’m an Aquarius so I’ve always felt an affinity with the star. In the Rider Waite deck this card shows the star as a naked woman pouring or collecting water in two cups. It represents hope, inner guidance and asks us open ourselves up to the spiritual. I produced this sketch quite unconsciously without any words or thoughts to coming to mind. I think what emerged shows the great shining light of the star both rising from and filling the sea of our emotional, creative and spiritual selves.


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.

For this sketch I spent some time meditating on the energy behind this card. In the Rider Waite deck it shows a man hard at work, bent over a large pentacle that he is engraving. Seven other pentacles that he has already completed hang around him. You also see in the background the walls of a distant town. Normally I associate this card with hard work, diligence, skill and the rewards that come from it.

However there’s another side to it that I wanted to show in my sketch. This card has reminded me from time to time of an artist friend who goes through long periods of withdrawal from society in order to dedicate herself to her work. She can spend days in her studio, barely seeing anyone else, working away well into the early hours. She becomes single mindedly focused on her project, neglects her friends and family all for the sake of whatever project she is working on.

In my sketch I wanted to show this side of it. The work has become bigger than the craftsman, who is alone, all he can see is the work before him and his own face reflected in it.

Six of Cups

Six of Cups – Happy Memories

Six of Cups As Resources

This is the card of happy childhood memories, recollection of more peaceful times. Nostalgia. Positive formative experiences. I’ve chosen to show a child blowing out her birthday candles because this is a rite of passage that is looked back on both by children and parents. We reflect both on our own birthdays as well as those of our children. As parents we are the ones responsible for creating the happy memories for our children.

I also see this card in the context of the two cards surrounding it. The Five of Cups (in the Rider-Waite) shows a hooded figure lamenting the loss of three of his cups. I think this card represents depression, despair, lack of perspective – being stuck in a dark irrational emotional place. The Six of Cups represents the thing that will bring us out of our despair –  our emotional resources. Connecting to a resource is an important technique used by councillors and therapists to lesson the pain of traumatic experiences. They bring us back into the here and now and make the tough times easier and less painful. If we can recall some time or place when we felt happy and safe and loved then we can build our resources to tackle the really tough dark times. Of course we don’t all have memories of happy childhoods. For some, a resource might simply be connecting to a time when they did not feel pain.

This card is saying take a break from the emotional pain, even just for a moment. Think back to a happier time. Know that you are capable of feeling OK again. Let this knowledge nourish you and give you the strength to make the choices you now have to make.

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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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