The Power of Tarot
Isn’t it smart of the ancient Romans to decide to call July 3 – August 11 the “Dog Days” of summer? They used the relationship between the stars and the sun to identify exactly when we all should relax, goof off, and just let everything wait until next month.
And it seems the perfect time to take a trip back into Tarot history to celebrate the original Rider-Waite deck, with imagery that inspired the “gold standard” of classical Tarot interpretation. This deck brought about a worldwide revival of the ancient art of Tarot, and serves as a launching point for contemporary decks of all kinds.
Pamela Colman Smith, known to her friends as “Pixie”, was a Jamaican woman of diverse lineage. She was a brilliant interdisciplinary artist, illustrator, writer, and master Tarot reader. Born in London in 1878, she collaborated with Arthur Edmund Waite on the most popular Tarot deck in the history of the world. She was the deck’s illustrator. We know it as the Rider-Waite Tarot, and its images are engraved in the consciousness of most contemporary Tarot readers.
Pamela Smith had the gift of synaesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon where stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to involuntarily experiencing of another one. She could “see” the color of music or “taste and feel” sounds. Maybe that is part of why her images are so timeless.
Susan Wands, a University of Washington researcher, writer, and Tarot enthusiast is, in her own words, “obsessed” with Pamela Smith. She questions why Smith wasn’t credited in the original title of the Rider-Waite Tarot. In her fascinating interview on the Australian podcast Biddy Tarot, titled The Secret life of Pamela Colman Smith, she explores different facets of this riddle.
Part of what emerges is the fact that in 1909, when the images were created, women typically received little credit in the professional world. Not only was Pamela Smith female, she was black. So it’s probable that her originality and genius were discounted by the societal conditions of sexism and racism that were so prevalent then.
But Smith was known, also, as a practicing occultist, along with all the other hats she wore. She was invited into the Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn by poet William Butler Yeats and collaborated with him on several projects. Could it have been societal prejudice on the part of the Edwardians against the public display of intuitive knowledge that left her name off of the most famous Tarot deck in history too?
Let’s walk through Pamela Smith’s classic Tarot world together this week and see what we can discover!
August 9 – Sunday
Eight of Pentacles
In this image, a worker practices his craft. He is intent on excellence and gives himself wholly to the moment and the task at hand.
The chance to be “apprenticed” to someone with knowledge presents itself. If you take it and apply your energy and attention it will bring good things to you. There will be a learning curve with some discomfort but it won’t go on forever. You will come out discovering that you have mastered a field that is important to you.
August 10 – Monday
Nine of Pentacles
A woman leisurely enjoys the visit of a bird amid the foliage of her garden. She wears the dress of prosperity.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Don’t grab chances that are “chancy” and vague today. You may be better off than you think you are. If someone seems insincere they might really be that way. Don’t second guess your gut reactions, but err on the side of caution. Realize what you do possess now.
August 11 – Tuesday
Four of Wands
Two friends raise wreathes of celebration. A garland hung on four wands announces a celebratory event.
Prosperity arrives today. It may include something or someone from the country or a rural area. Happiness is increasing. There will be an uptick of beauty in your environment. A long awaited reward manifests for you.
August 12 – Wednesday
Queen of Cups
A lovely woman is holding an enchanting urn and peers at it meaningfully. She sits in a pool of water, signifying intuition and the heart.
An intuitive friend is “there” for you today. She is trustworthy and can keep confidences. Insights flow from dreams. Creativity and art give you answers. Your psychic and intuitive abilities are about to develop further.
August 13 – Thursday
Eight of Cups
A man walks sadly into a dark night. The moon guides him with light, if he would only look up. He is departing from the cups of his happiness.
It’s time to let go of what brought you happiness in the past. If you walk into the dark bravely, you will find your future cups of happiness that are even more delicious than those you’ve been grasping tightly. Your emotions will guide you. Listen to them for direction. Your body will tell you the truth if you “unplug” from the “shoulds” and “musts”.
August 14 – Friday
Nine of Cups
Rosy cheeked and happy, a man sits amid an abundance of “toasting” glasses.
You will be “toasting” something, or someone, significant. Party hardy, the guides are saying! Just do it safely and sanely. There will be time to live it up today, (and time to live it down later.) Appreciate something or someone wonderful in your life and celebrate!
August 15 – Saturday
A purple robed angel wearing red wings of passion blesses a couple who gaze happily into the distance.
A relationship mystery is illuminated today. A blockage is overcome. Your inner self and that of another communicate with clarity. Harmony reigns, and for a moment Earth seems like heaven. Today is a day of inner and outer balance and joy.
A Fun Spread to Try: The High-Summer Spread
This is a seasonal spread which illumines values and purpose. It’s a nine card spread, arranged in a “solar” clockwise spiral. It answers life path questions that you have. It connects you with your Higher Self who knows your purpose on the planet.
Shuffle the deck thoroughly and ask “What am I here for?”
When you are ready pull nine cards randomly from the deck, one by one, starting with card one at the center of the spiral. Place card two directly above it, in the 12 o’ clock position. From there, arrange cards three-nine, going clockwise, in a spiraling shape. Card six will fall at the 6 o’ clock position. Card nine will fall approximately at 11 o’ clock and end the reading.
Card One- What nourishes you, gives you energy and sustains you?
Card Two- How can you best express your truest, deepest self?
Card Three- What issue in your life now needs a little more insight?
Card Four- What can you let go of in order to go to your truest destiny?
Card Five- What is your greatest gift to others when you are your truest self and how can you do that more?
Card Six- What should you leave behind you in the shadow of the past?
Card Seven- What have you learned from the past that will make your future flow more easily?
Card Eight- What does your Higher Self want you to remember today?
Card Nine- What does your Higher Self want you to do more of in the future?
Stay cool and may the High-Summer fairies land on your lawn chair! Remember to leave them some lemonade!
Thanks for joining me.
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