Introducing The Melanated Classic Tarot!

I feel like I start every single tarot creator interview with the phrase, “I’m so excited…” It’s always true, but today it feels especially accurate, because I am completely chuffed, utterly thrilled, exceedingly delighted, so excited, that I got to pick the brain of a new tarot creator whose work has captured my heart.

Oubria is one half of the vision behind the newly released Melanated Classic Tarot. Produced in collaboration with artist Julia Goolsby of Blaque Penn Comix, the Melanated Classic Tarot reimagines the classic Waite Smith deck with all of its archetypes and characters depicted as people of colour. As the creators say, representation is vital, and especially in matters of powerful, archetypal magic, so I’m very happy to be able to share Oubria’s story below, and to have this awesome deck in my shop!

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Tell us about you! What’s your spiritual story, and what kind of work do you do?

Wow! That’s a big question. My spiritual story started at birth. I’ve always been super sensitive to people’s feelings and moods. I also grew up with a violent and angry father & and an emotionally repressed mom, so I think I learned to read feelings as a barometer at home. I had to know how people were feeling so I would know whether to talk to them or stay out of their way.

And of course getting older and being an outcast, and a black sheep, and the one who made wild choices that people whispered about. If you’re being taught to use your intuition and trust your inner voice, I’ve learned the universe will consistently put you in situations where the only person you can trust in yourself.

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The work I do now is just the work of being myself, and I’ve worked really hard to be able to say something so simple. I am a stay-at-home entrepreneur mom of five; this deck is my first really successful financial endeavor but it’s definitely the whole ten-years-to-become-an-overnight-success sort of thing. Growing up I always thought I would become a poet or fiction writer. My parents thought that was cool but steered me toward teaching so I would be sure to eat. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in creative writing; if you google me right now you’ll find hundreds of little information articles I’ve written for ehow. com and the like. I’ve taught English at the community college level, I’ve taught after school programs, I’ve worked retail, reception, production (my mom was a producer & my dad is a cameraman and my mama was big on nepotism). But the thing I’ve always been best at is listening intently to people, permeating their metaphysical space, reading their feelings and giving sharp but loving advice. It’s like a chiropractor in the spirit- I know what to adjust. I know how to make a soul pop, crack and release. I asked the universe over and over to show me a way to make money doing that one thing, without having to go back to school be a minister or therapist. Eighteen months ago I picked up my first pack of tarot cards, and the store where I bought my first deck hired me to be a reader a couple of months later. Things just took off from there.

How did you come to tarot, and what part does it have in your personal and professional practice?

I came to tarot slowly, with a side eye at first. I was raised black girl, south side of Chicago Christian, so tarot cards and fortune telling and psychics are all spirits from the devil, according to my family. I didn’t even get my first tarot card reading until 2014, when a woman I was in a fb group with put up a 3 card, $5 reading sale. My reading was so positive but scary. It said I would lose everything but that I shouldn’t worry about it because everything I lost would be restored, and it was necessary to shake me free of some toxic ties, and then I would be wealthy and perhaps go into publishing. Just typing that now - it's crazy to realize every word of that reading came true. Except for the “wealthy” part, but honestly I do feel richer than I’ve ever been, but it’s in my spirit, not my wallet. A month later I got another reading from her because I was pregnant with my 4th child unexpectedly, and even though I was grown, married, and working as a salaried teacher on a fellowship, I was scared to tell my mama. I was scared of what people would say. And that reader told me to grow the fuck up! Ha!

When I first started reading cards I started putting tarot-scopes on facebook (I’m a writer, I can’t help it) to practice reading better. I had advertised a bunch of free readings but people stopped taking me up on it so I was just looking for another way to practice. My aunt emailed me reminding me that tarot cards are from the devil and our family doesn’t do this. I told her it felt alright with God to me. God didn’t feel mad at me.

And the only reason I felt strong enough to say that was because I’d been through the hardest year of my life, including being pregnant and homeless in San Francisco with my husband and four children, and no one in either my or my husband’s family stepped in to save us, or offer us a place to live. We got through that all on our own, trusting ourselves and trusting God. So I knew that if I felt called to tarot cards after everything I’d been through, then that’s what the fuck I was supposed to do and I was grown and I didn’t care what anybody said. Tarot cards was a big step in using my own mind and thinking for myself in every way. I’ve read for myself nearly every day since getting my first deck. It’s actually connected a lot of dots for me, concerning what the bible teaches. The tarot is very practical and common sense wisdom, like the book of Proverbs. It also teaches that the most important element in life is a sense of inner value. I had really low self esteem, but the tarot has worked with me to recognize that if I am connected to the source of life, how can I possibly have low self esteem? And the more you realize you are inherently worthy, the more you will be financially worth. The tarot and bible are both practical tools to removing the issues blocking your abundance and pentacles.

How did you arrive at the decision to make your own deck?

My first three decks were Rider Waites - two Radiants and then a borderless. I love the Rider Waite deck because I felt it told a story. I didn’t know what the story was, but those pictures were so… alive. You know I’m a writer, lol. I know when there’s a story afoot. Except nothing I read told the story. They tell the individual meanings of the cards, but I needed the story. I don’t know how I came across this but there’s a website that talks about the astrological and cosmological designations of the cards- for example, two of cups as venus in cancer, five of wands as saturn in leo, etc.

So I put the cards in order according to the way the signs appear. I emptied out a closet in my house and turned into a tarot chamber, and I used pushpins to arrange the entire deck on the wall, as a grid, with the sun signs across the top (not in order but as they appear in the tarot), Aries (Emperor), Leo (Strength), Sagittarius, (Temperance), and then coming down in a row from the major arcana cards were the minor arcana cards, two of wands (Mars in Aries), etc. I was trying to see the story. And all these faces were staring back at me, telling the the story.

And I just felt like I would hear them better if they were black, like me. I just sort of casually mentioned it to my husband and he was like, yo, you should do that. He knew a couple of artists and and messaged them on fb to ask them what they would charge per picture, to just replicate it but make it black. The first dude flaked out but Julie didn’t. Julie is AMAZING. A-MA-ZING.

Melanated Classic Tarot Australia Suit Cards

What was that process like? And what was it like to collaborate with an artist to realize your vision – or was it a shared vision?

The process was shockingly easy. We first asked her to replicate a coloring book page and her drawing skills are just freaking phenomenal. There ain’t nothing Julie can’t draw. After that, I sent her a non-disclosure agreement. After she signed it, I explained the project and negotiated a work/ pay schedule. We started in June 2018 and she finished in January 2019. We worked in batches of ten cards roughly every three weeks. I would send her photos of the original deck and she would send back the melanated version. And we became friends in the process. It’s crazy because we’re both from Chicago and she still lives in Chicago, but I live in California. We have hella mutual friends but we’ve never met face to face. We’ve done this amazing thing and we’ve never met. Isn’t that crazy?!

And wait -- let me say it was easy on my end but not on Julie’s. She worked while going to school, taking care of her daughter and other relatives, deaths in the family, her computer breaking down… but she’s such a positive person and just always came through. She even gave me pep talks! She’s dope. I feel like I said that already but I want to say it again.

The deck shows so much love and homage to the Rider Waite Smith. How did your relationship with that classic deck inform the process of creation?

I feel like I sort of answered that already but, I already felt super drawn to the Rider Waite because other decks are sort of based on it. And then I don’t know what made me look it up but when I found out Pixie was biracial it felt meant to be! Also if you look at the High Priestess in the original Rider Waite, her features look black. That’s a black woman if you ask me. I think Pixie snuck her in.

I feel like more black people would read tarot cards (which is great for spiritual AND entrepreneurial growth) if there was more representation. I love the basics, the fundamentals- because you can build anything you want from a solid foundation. I just really, really, really, really wanted a solid foundation that looked like us.

Melanated Classic Tarot High Priestess Australia

We’re arguably in the beginnings of a very fertile moment in terms of representation of varied identities, bodies, and experiences in tarot, but of course there’s still so far to go before we can say that our decks and vocabularies and spiritualities are decolonized and inclusive. How do you feel your work sits in this moment? Any thoughts on what work still needs to be done, or where this might all go from here?

I feel that our work sits perfectly in this moment, and I think that’s one of the benefits of being psychic actually, is being mystically drawn to where things are most fertile. I think this deck is just the tip of the iceberg. I would love to see somebody draw an Asian Rider Waite, one that represents Latin and Southern Americans, etc. I think there is room for EVERYBODY. In fact someone emailed me and said they were glad to see this deck and there needed to be one for brown people. And I thought, you right, so do it lol. It’s not my responsibility to do that for you. I did this for mine, now you gotta do it for yours. That’s the point. The tarot teaches you to do shit for yourself. The tarot cuts co-dependecy away in the five of pentacles. From there on it’s about standing on your own and marvelling at your own strength. Like the bible says, when I was a child I thought as a child. Once I became an adult, I thought as an adult. I think this is the moment where other races begin to realize nothing is stopping them from doing this and this market is WIIIIIIDE OPEN.

How has working with your own deck (assuming you do!) informed or shifted your own practice, whether for yourself or for clients?

Not really. But it’s made me really happy and it feels like a dream come true. If anything, it makes my readings more clear, because Julie is so good at drawing facial expressions that the cards are more detailed. The emotions really come through, which translates to the reading.

Apart from your own creation, are there any decks you’d want to be stranded with on a desert island? What are your faves?

I love the Rider Waite borderless, and the Isis Oracle, and this weird little amazing deck I got in San Francisco called the Tarot of Personal Experience.

Finally, do you have any advice, guidance or insider tips for working with the Melanated Classic Tarot? Is there any way you would like to see it used or shared, now that it’s out in the world?

My deck has a lot to say. It likes to be asked questions, lots of them. If you see someone holding a cup, say, what’s in that cup? and pull another card. If someone’s holding a sword, say, what are they saying? and pull another card. With wands ask, what’s he/she doing? and pull another card. Ask what the pentacles represent. Ask what the Empress is creating. Ask the High Priestess her secret. Ask what the Emperor is warding off on his left and holding onto with his right. Ask what the Hierophant’s rules are. Ask what will come between the lovers. Ask what the Strength is holding herself back from. Ask, ask, ask.


What better imperative could a tarot reader hope to hear? Ask, ask, ask.

The Melanated Classic Tarot is in stock now right here in the shop!

You can also pick up a copy, find out more about Oubria, and book a reading at her website, or on Instagram, and see more of Julia Goolsby’s Blaque Penn Comix on Instagram.

A Tarot Spread for Integrating Change

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have recently heard that I moved house. My flatmate and I decided that it was time to move on from our cosy (aka, tiny) space, to say goodbye to its quirky charms (aka, a leaking roof), and find some greener pastures.

We decided 2019 would be the year for this, and so we tallied up our desires, did a little witchcraft, and lo! By mid-January, we had a lease signed on a lighter, roomier, more recently renovated space, still in our favourite neighbourhood, with room for my business, her writing, and a big, deep bathtub.

This move felt extremely blessed – timing of our choosing, an upgrade in so many ways. A speedy turnaround, the financial means and many kind volunteers to ease the load. We’ve been lucky from start to finish. Thank you, St. Expedite!

Nonetheless, moving is a long, tiring, discombobulating process. I’m still collecting myself and emptying boxes, and will be for a while yet. For the first week or two, I was unable to write, or read cards, or really have any reflective process whatsoever.

To help slowly coax my thoughtful, introverted self out of hiding, I designed this tarot spread to help me start to process all this work and change. I hope it might prove helpful to others undergoing a relocation, whether that’s around the corner (like me), or around the world.

Indeed, this spread can be repurposed for any big move – to a new job, a new relationship, a new spiritual path. Feel free to substitute whatever your transition might be.

Give yourself a little uninterrupted time and space, maybe light a candle or incense if that’s your thing. Have a journal or recording device handy, should you want to make notes.

Take out your tarot cards. Shuffle, and draw.

1. A card to reflect on for this transitional phase.

2. What approach might you take to manage and work with the move or change?

3. How might you integrate and ground this change?

4. A ritual to bless your new space, project, or path.

5. How might you rest and replenish yourself during and after this process?

6. What might come next on this new path or in this new place?

Here’s what I pulled for myself (and because I’m taking everything slowly right now, I’m still processing this):

tarot spread for moving house change

Cards from my most beloved Pagan Otherworlds Tarot (pick up your own copy here).

Lots of power, and passion, and perhaps portents that I’ll be doing some workings with the moon to bless this place. Plenty to digest as I settle in over the coming weeks!

Has this spread been useful to you? Let me know in the comments, or drop me a line and tell me how it went!

5 Ways to Bond With Your New Tarot Deck

One of the most common question I get asked is, “How do I connect with my new tarot deck?”

I’m so familiar that feeling - you’re holding in your hands a brand new deck of cards, still pristine in its wrapping, and you can feel how full of promise and potential it is. You want to pour your heart out to it, uncover its secrets, fall in love with it.

You also know that tarot cards have a mythic status, and that there are a lot of stories and rumours around the right way to receive them and the right way to work with them. They have to be given to you. They have to be charged under a full moon.

Cards from the Sasuraibito Tarot

Personally, I don’t go in for a lot of those old tales. Or rather, I think old tales only serve a good purpose if they feel useful to you, here and now. The best way to bond with your tarot deck is the way that feels right to you. This is your tarot story, and you get to decide how it goes!

If you’re looking for some ideas to get you started, here’s a few ways that I’ve bonded with decks of cards over the years. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way, so take what feels good, and leave the rest. Happy reading!


More often than not, the first thing I do when I pick up a new deck of cards is set aside a little quiet time to take a good look at them. Give yourself a moment or five when you won’t be interrupted. Switch off your phone, maybe pick up a notebook and pen if you feel the need to make a note or two. Peel off that wrapper, open the box, and see what you find inside.

You may decide to look through the cards in order, one at a time. You might prefer to first locate your favourite card, or your birth card (check out #2 in this post for how to calculate your birth card). You might decide to dive straight into your favourite suit, or lay out all the Majors side by side.

Take a moment just to be curious about your deck. Which cards grab your attention? Which artwork do you immediately love? Which images do you find confusing, or confronting? Which images are immediately familiar, and which challenge your ideas about what a card might mean?

At this point, you might decide it’s a good time to read your deck’s book, if it comes with one. I love to take a look at a deck creator’s description of their work. Each tarot creator brings a unique sensibility to their creation, and when you’re first meeting a deck, exploring the creator’s writing on their work, if they’ve provided it, is such a great way to get a sense of how the deck might feel and work.

(With that said, don’t forget that you’re going to develop your own relationship with these cards you’ve chosen. The creator can state their intention and offer their ideas about the meanings of the cards, but as you get to know your deck, you’ll make your own associations and develop your own sense of the cards’ meanings. So, don’t feel like you need to take anything as gospel!)

2. Bless, Consecrate, or Charge Your Deck

There are a million and one ways to ritually prepare your deck for use, but here are just a few that I like. All of these methods will be enhanced by bringing a little intention to the process, so I recommend taking quiet time when you won’t be disturbed to cleanse and charge your deck. You may wish to meditate for a few minutes (or longer) before you start so that your mindset is clear and fresh.

Also, throughout the process, talk to your deck! What are you achieving by doing this ritual? What kind of relationship are you hoping to build with your cards? Where do you want your tarot journey to lead you? While you cleanse and charge up your new tarot deck, it’s a great idea to infuse it with these hopes and intentions by speaking them aloud, or simply focusing on them in your mind.

Full Moon Charge

Full moons are potent times of the lunar cycle for taking advantage of peak energy, and many readers also find the moon’s bright light during this phase to have cleansing and clearing vibes. So, you get two for the price of one - your deck is wiped clean of any lingering dull energy, and powered up by the moon’s most intense light.

Check the date and time of the full moon in your location (I use or the app Full Moon). Before I put my deck out for a moon bath, I like to make sure all of the cards are in order - Majors 0-21, and Minors Ace-King in the order of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles (if your deck is brand new, it might already be in order). Once you’re happy your deck is arranged as you’d like, place it somewhere, like a windowsill, where it will get to bask in the moon’s bright and powerful light.

Bonus tip: You can also use the sun to clear and charge up your deck! On a bright afternoon, let your deck catch some rays with the intention of freshening it up. Be careful, though, not to leave it out for too long - your deck’s print may fade if it is exposed to the sun for long periods.

Dani Costello Unsplash

Image Credit

Clear and Charge with Crystals

Many folks like to use crystals to clear and absorb energy, and also to charge up their tarot cards with a particular intention. Crystals like clear quartz, selenite, and obsidian are great for soaking up old vibes and wiping the energetic slate clean, while some readers like to enhance the intuitive power of their new decks by charging them with intuitive stones like amethyst or labradorite.

Once you’ve selected the stones you’d like to use, arrange them on or around your deck, and let them sit a while. I like to place them on my altar, or to add crystals into a full moon charging ritual. Some readers like to keep a clear quartz or other cleansing stone with their deck when it is stored, too.

Clean and clean with smoke

One of my favourite methods of clearing a tarot deck is to immerse it in sacred smoke. Personally, I like to use incense (I like this one for clearing, and this one for charging with intuitive intention), but some readers prefer sage, palo santo, or other herb or wood bundles (as it turns out, many of these products are over-harvested, to the detriment of their habitats, so do your research and source ethical herb bundles where possible - or even better, grow and dry your own!).

Light your incense (or your chosen smokeable thing), and let its aroma seep into your space. When you’re ready, hold your cards in the smoke as it rises, and envisage it carrying away any stuck or stale energy. Visualise the smoke resetting your cards, and ripening them for receiving your intuitions.


Getting a new tarot deck is a bit like making a new friend. They all have their own qualities and quirks, and part of bonding with your deck is starting to get to know its unique personality. One of the ways I like to say, “Nice to meet you!” to a new tarot deck is an interview spread. I have to thank Beth of Little Red Tarot for bringing this particular interview spread into my life - it’s a good one!

The card positions for this spread are:

  1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?

  2. What are your strengths as a deck?

  3. What are your limits as a deck?

  4. What are you here to teach me?

  5. How can I best learn from and collaborate with you?

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


An interview spread is a great way to break the ice, but one of the best ways to build on that first meeting with your new tarot deck is to do a daily draw. Learning tarot - whether that’s from scratch, or just getting to know a new deck - can be really overwhelming, and a daily draw lets us do just a little each day to slowly build our competence and familiarity.

Personally, I like to pull a card each morning with a view to seeing what I might focus on or be aware of for the day. You might prefer to pull a card over lunch, or before you go to bed - whenever suits you is good! You might like to ask, “What do I need to know about today?” or “What approach or qualities might I try to cultivate today?” or even “What tarot card do you want me to study today?”

You might like to record your daily draws in your tarot journal, your calendar, or on social (you can find my daily tarot Weather Reports on Instagram), and you may like to revisit your notes form time to time to see how your connection with and understanding of your new deck has evolved over time.


So, you’ve looked through your deck, cleansed it, interviewed it, and done a few daily draws. Now what?

Working closely with a deck over months (or even years) can yield such deep relationship and understanding between reader and cards. It’s a beautiful thing! When we’re just starting out, though, that work can seem a little amorphous - like, what are we even meant to do with this tarot deck, now that we have it?

If, like me, you need a little structure for your studies, you might like to knuckle down and do a course of study with your deck. This might be an actual course, delivered online or in person, or it could be a tarot book that you work through by yourself or a with some tarot pals over a period of time.

Here’s my mega list of tarot reading and study suggestions. Happy learning!


Whether you’re into cleansing with crystals, or committing to a class, I hope these suggestions have given you some inspiration for bonding with your new tarot deck. Pretty soon you’ll be the best of friends!

Want more tips for going deep on your tarot journey? Sign up to my newsletter to get more tarot spreads and lessons, as well as the latest on new decks, right in your inbox!

The Best Tarot Books & Resources for Beginners and Beyond

I’m often asked what resources I’d recommend to people keen to learn more about tarot. We’re so blessed at this point in tarot history to have such an abundance of books, blogs, podcasts, courses, and conversations, both online and off, to nurture our understanding of this rich and complex art form.

When you’re starting out, though, that abundance can be pretty overwhelming. Who’s got the time or the cash to try courses that don’t resonate, or read books that barely skim the surface? Sometimes, we need a little help sorting the signal from the noise.

Best Tarot Learning Resources Books.JPG

To that end, here is a list of books and other resources that have boosted my tarot game and enriched my understanding of the cards. Of course, I can’t claim to have tried everything that’s out there, but I do have a stable of recommendations I can wholeheartedly hand over to tarot beginners, and also some juicy gems for more advanced readers to sink their teeth into.

I intend for this list to be a rolling resource, so I’ll update it from time to time as new and worthy things cross my path.


My Ultimate Go-Tos

This is a pair of books I always recommend in tandem, because I read them both when I was first learning, and together they helped me to deepen my understanding of both the philosophy and the practical applications of the Rider-Waite-Smith system.

Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack is hands down, my go-to for learning the Rider-Waite-Smith system. It gives some history, and looks at individual card meanings with a lot of focus and depth, particularly for the Major Arcana. The real gold in this book is the way it describes the underlying philosophical structure of the deck, with attention to its historical origins in the Western esoteric tradition. I’d say this is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand what this branch of tarot is, in the deepest sense.

If that all sounds quite theoretical, fear not! Rachel Pollack’s masterpiece is well paired with a more accessible and practical tarot handbook, Tarot: Plain and Simple by Anthony Louis. Louis’ book is also based on the Rider-Waite-Smith system, and it goes through card by card with key words and phrases, as well as situations and types of advice that might be represented by each card.

The approach is immensely practical, so I often recommend this guide as an on the go reference, when you need some clues about how a card might relate practically to a particular query. It also arranges the Minors by number rather than by suit, so you see all the Aces side by side, and so on. This gives the reader excellent grounding in how the numerology of the tarot functions, and how readers use the structure of the deck, rather than just individual cards, to make meaning.

New Favourites

My go-tos, dating back to my beginner days, might be some of the most well-thumbed books in my collection, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t found other new favourites over the years. Here are some other tarot books I’d recommend:

The Creative Tarot by Jessa Crispin is one of only two tarot books I’ve sat down and read cover to cover, like a novel. That’s how juicy and compelling it is! The Creative Tarot is exactly what it sounds like - a method of reading tarot for creative questioning, especially as it relates to art practice and other creative work. There are many things to love about this book, but one of my favourites is that Jessa gives recommended media - books, poems, songs, films - for each card, so you can dive deep into the archetypes. You can find tons more detail about this book in my full review here.

Tarot for Life by Paul Quinn isn’t a new book, but is a new favourite here at Two Sides Tarot. I love the anecdotes that Quinn includes to demonstrate how each card might play out in real life, but what really captured my attention is the table he lays out for each card, which includes Keywords, then suggestions for each card as Being, Doing, Shadow, Reversed, and Possible Advice. I like thinking of card meanings as different parts of grammar - like, what is the Nine of Swords as a verb? A noun? Thinking about cards in this way gives them flexible applications, and Quinn’s handy dandy tables have plenty of accessible inspiration for that way of thinking.

I picked up Michelle Tea’s Modern Tarot mostly because I love Michelle Tea. I wouldn’t say that Modern Tarot is a perfect resource for the beginner, because it doesn’t include what I would consider essential learning tools, like a history of tarot, and chapters on how tarot spreads work, how to shuffle, how to read for others, and so on. What does make it great, though, is that it includes extensive anecdotes from the author’s own experience to illustrate how each card might appear in the world, and it includes a spell or ritual for working with every single card of the deck. LOVE!

Finally, an honourable mention goes to a funny little book called The Tarot Masters, edited by Kim Arnold. This isn’t really a reference book, but when I was getting more seriously immersed in my tarot studies, it proved to be a rich treasure trove of stories that inspired me to go deeper with the cards. Editor Kim Arnold has assembled a true dream team of tarot masters, and each one writes about a card from the Major Arcana, as well as a memory or story from their own tarot history. It’s like eavesdropping on the ultimate tarot celebrity dinner party. There is tea!

Advanced Books

Some of the books mentioned in this post (especially the ones in the next category) do deal with more advanced level tarot practices, so in terms of books that stand alone for more advanced readers, I’ve just got one that I love.

Tarot Interactions by Deborah Lipp doesn’t include card meanings, instead, it gets straight into how cards interact in a reading, and how readers can use the structure of the deck - the suits, the numbers, the elements - to inform the way they read multiple cards at a time. My favourite part of this book is the table where Lipp uses some basic maths to help readers determine what is statistically significant in a reading (what counts, mathematically, as “a lot” of Pentacles, or a lot of Majors, in a reading with six cards, or ten cards, for example). I’ve never come across that in a tarot book before, but it seems like pretty important knowledge to have! This is particularly useful intel if you read with reversals.

Books That Are Kinda Like Courses

Rather than sitting down and reading a book cover to cover, many of us would prefer something that feels a little bit more like a course or a workshop, with a bit of reading, a few worksheets, and maybe some homework if we’re feeling super motivated (and who isn’t feeling super motivated to learn tarot? Come on!).

Tarot for Yourself by Mary K. Greer is stuffed full of exercises you can undertake to really go deep with the cards. Its focus is on using tarot for self-inquiry, and it contains a ton of practical ideas from figuring out your soul card, to doing meditative pathworking with the cards, and so much more. You’ll learn plenty about the cards, of course, but this book is really focused on putting the deck to work so you can learn about you.

Tarot 101 by Kim Huggens is not numbered like a college course for nothing! This book is best treated like a term of study, and worked through in order. Huggens weaves her lessons in interesting ways, arranging archetypes thematically, and interspersing the study of individual cards with exercises on designing spreads, doing readings, and using the cards for self-reflection.

If you’ve not seen Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen in the flesh, you’ll have to trust me when I say it is A Tome. This brick of a book from one of the most knowledgeable and prolific esoteric scholars working today will see anyone go from stumbling beginner to sage expert, because there is just SO much in here to learn. This book is technical, academic in its approach, so if you’re an absolute beginner I’d say you could start here (and certainly, the earlier part of the book is aimed at beginners), but if you’re easily intimidated by vast swathes of occult knowledge and you’ve never read so much as a blog post about tarot before, well, maybe proceed with caution! When you’re ready to dive in, you may want to supplement your reading with the Holist Tarot resources on Benebell’s website.


I’ve taken an online course in tarot here and there over the years, most of which don’t seem to exist anymore, but I’m thrilled to find that one of my favourites, Little Red Tarot’s Alternative Tarot Course, is still very much alive and kicking. This self-paced, delivered-by-email course is a really great way to dive into the cards. I especially love that it reflects Little Red Tarot’s ethical, inclusive approach to, well, everything! So many tarot decks and resources fail to grapple with problematic and exclusionary power structures and gender roles that exist in traditional tarot, but you can be sure that this course isn’t afraid to challenge that status quo and make tarot available to all of us.

If you’d rather take things card by card, Little Red Tarot also offers a Card A Day course. I haven’t tried this one myself but I think I’d happily vouch for the quality of anything that Beth makes.

For those of us with a passion for the Tarot de Marseille, or perhaps just for a different approach to the heavily metaphorical way many of us read in the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, Camelia Elias’s courses are fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to read like the devil?

Other Resources

This part of the list is a grab bag of things I’ve found helpful and interesting, across different media. No doubt there’ll be updates to come!

First, if you’re looking to deepen your relationship with the archetypes of the Major Arcana, you might enjoy a free resource I created for journaling with each of the tarot trumps. This guide will encourage you to dig into your own experiences and make connections with the cards.

If you enjoy doing some tarot study on the go, try Lindsay Mack’s podcast, Tarot for the Wild Soul. Lindsay shares deep dives into individual cards and themes, as well as some really amazing interviews with luminaries in the worlds of tarot and other spiritual crafts.

I mentioned above that Little Red Tarot has some great courses, but if you’re not ready to commit to a course (and even if you are), don’t miss the incredible blog. It’s an overflowing wellspring of tarot knowledge and exploration, and captures so many marginal, magical, and necessary voices.

And of course, you can find lots of deck reviews, tarot spreads, and card analysis right here on the Two Sides Tarot blog. Perhaps start with this one, or this one. Enjoy!

What are your favourite tarot resources? Give your beloved books, blogs, and podcasts a shoutout in the comments!

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Anatomy of a Daily Tarot Draw

Recently, someone commented on my daily instagram Weather Report, and asked what question I ask when I do this draw each day (incidentally, do you follow my daily tarot draws on instagram? If not, come visit!).

You’d think that’d be an easy one to answer, but in fact I’ve been mulling that over for days now, and the answer is a little more… amorphous than you might expect!

First, though, what do I mean by a daily tarot draw? Well, a lot of readers like to pull a card each day. This ritual serves as many purposes as there are tarot readers on social media - some of us do it to practice our card interpretations, to get to know a particular deck, to get a feel for what to expect that day, to receive a prompt or idea for reflection or journaling, to connect with guides or ancestors… the possibilities are limitless!

If the intent of the draw is to check in with the cards about the day ahead, readers might begin with a question like, “What do I need to know about today?” Or perhaps, “What approach should I take today?” Or even, “What lesson is available to me today?” Or, “What archetype or idea should I tap into today?” Depending on your style and your desire, there are many questions you might ask.

Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot Australia Queen of Cups

A recent Weather Report photo, the beautiful Queen of Cups from Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot.

When I pull a card for the daily Weather Report here at Two Sides Tarot, I pull it with the intention of receiving and sharing a message that’s useful to all my readers, not just for my own personal circumstances. With that in mind, I never approach the card as a prescription, but as a suggestion, or an idea to temporarily inhabit and play with. It’s loose, flexible, open to interpretation. A little nugget of advice, a provocation, an idea that anyone can chew on and use as a point of departure throughout the day.

Of course, none of that really answers the question: What do I ask when I pull that daily card?

Being asked this question prompted me to pay attention to what question I was asking each morning when pulling a card, and what I found was a little surprising, even to me.

I actually don’t ask a question at all. At least, not with words.

As it turns out, what I do when I pick up the cards and shuffle is generate a feeling of open curiosity. This is sensational, energetic, entirely un-verbal. At best I can describe this as an energetic opening that I feel in the front of my body, a sense of shutters opening out.  

I rarely think of it in words, and even more rarely do I say anything out loud. Instead, I come to my daily tarot draw with a feeling. When I open myself up to draw that card, what is held within that curious opening is all questions, any questions, no questions.

In my last post here, I wrote about interpreting tarot cards without using words. Perhaps before we even get to the point of interpretation, we can let our words go. Instead of naming and describing what we desire to know, perhaps we can access the feeling of curiosity. The feeling of being open to symbols, insight, information. No words needed. Just openness.

Openness to what the day holds, and what we might make of it.

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Tarot Without Words

It's a bit of understatement to say that things have been quiet in Two Sides Tarot blogland this year. I've spent a lot of time over the past few months wrestling with ideas about what kind of content I want to make, what kind of content you might want to read, what would be useful and not just more noise in the increasingly bustling world of online tarot media. 

My drafts folder is full of unsent newsletters, unposted blogs, unfinished thoughts that never quite get off the ground. Ideas, words, just don't seem to stick. Actually, maybe it’s the recent Mercury retrograde, coupled with Mars retrograde, that’s making things hard to pin to the page right now.
I usually try to be accepting of ruts of all kinds, so I haven’t been too concerned about this round of unscratchable writing itches. Yes, I do really want to find ways to say new things about the tarot, and no, I can’t seem to manage that right now.
A few things fell into place for me over the weekend of the eclipse. I listened to an interview with Damien Echols, who described the way so much of Western magic is about symbols and images, rather than words, working on our subconscious minds. I’ve also been listening to a lot of my favourite Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron (here’s one I currently recommend), and reading one of the ultimate spiritual mind melters, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
 Of course, Damien Echols is right. Our subconscious minds do speak a language deeper and older than words, and all those Buddhist sages are right – such as there is a thing that is “right” – when they say that reality is so much more than the “small mind” way of perceiving things as fixed concepts, binaries, certainties. Reality is much more bendy than that.
We can analyse tarot card imagery and ideas with our left brains, we can describe and categorise what we see and what it means, but let’s not overlook the magic that happens when we turn a card over and our deeper selves, beyond the level of our rational awareness, receive a transmission of the image, the symbolism, the idea.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve turned over a card or two in your life, and I’m sure you’ve probably had that feeling when you first glimpse the image. That knowing. You know what it means, you know what it speaks to you, and yet, as soon as you try to capture it with words it slides through your fingers like the Page of Cups’ slippery fish.

A very slippery fish from the beautiful Spolia Tarot

Now, I make at least part of my living writing about tarot on the internet, so I’m not about to say that communicating about this art form is futile or shallow or pointless. Language is one of the most powerful tools we have to make sense of our world. Not to mention, I hope we’ve all been able to experience the solace and revelation that can come when a good tarot reader explains a card to us in the context of what we most long to know.
Talking about tarot connects us – readers to clients, scholars to students, passionate enthusiasts to each other – so let’s keep doing that. But also, let’s consider letting the sub-lingual transmission do the work sometimes.
Let’s inhabit that slippery space of subconscious awareness that traffics in sensation and symbol. Maybe sometimes it’s ok if your tarot reading is more like a dream you can’t quite describe, one that leaves an obscure feeling of sense-memory in its wake, trailing behind you like smoke as you go about your day.
During my eclipse magical working, I drew The Hermit. I don’t plan to say a word about it – to myself, or anyone else! I think, deep down, I know what it means.

Readers in Profile: Siobhan of Radical Tarot

If you've been around these parts for many moons, you might remember my interview series, Readers in Profile, in which I sit down with some of the many cool cats in our tarot community to talk shop. It's been a while since we've had an instalment of this series, but I'm very glad to be breathing some life back into it with one of my favourite radical cardslingers, Siobhan of Radical Tarot.

Siobhan's one of those readers who inspires me in my own practice, because she never takes a boundary or brick wall as a given. Siobhan's writing and thinking about tarot always, always stretches this old art form into new shapes, and her compassionate, curious, and expansive approach always manages to find new ways of seeing the cards. It's pretty magical! 

Siobhan Radical Tarot.jpg

Let's get to it, shall we?

Hi Siobhan! Tell us a little bit about yourself as a tarot reader and a human person. 

I'm a person that both starts with and rallies against a series of labels. Black. Poor. Anxious (or crazy depending on who you ask). Empathic (or crazy depending on who you ask).

I came to the cards with a great deal of fear. Growing up where I grew up there were doubts or questions about my place in the world. I never fit. There was a constant question about my worth. Metaphysical differences complicated these issues. 

When I was younger, I saw and heard which were not of the physical world. And I knew back then to keep my mouth shut. Because I was raised in a family that while very Christian and relatively conservative, still acknowledged the unseen. They had to, there were too many unexplained incidents shared between us. 

What is your tarot origin story? 

By the time I handled the first tarot deck, I was searching very hard for a way to feel safe. I wanted to believe that there were mechanisms through which I could wrangle my own intuition. I wanted to make peace with the part of me that whispered me bits of information that I shouldn't know about myself and others. 

I wanted to turn my gift off and on at will, and I had a hunch that the tarot was the way. Even if the cards themselves did nothing, I thought they might at least train my mind so that I might get a say in when I would pick up on things. I hadn't met anyone like me other than my grandmother and other relatives.

I set out to learn about my premonitions at all costs. Even if it meant studying witchcraft and things I was raised to believe came from the devil. I came to the cards out of kind of psychic desperation. I would come to learn as I got older and met more metaphysicians and practitioners that this isn't a typical way to come to the craft. Most come looking to tap into more, not less. 

I used the Tarot not to contact spirit realm but to limit contact. I felt that if I could give myself a spiritual outlet, time and space where it was ok to deal with the unseen, maybe the unseen would stop flooding the rest of my life and my dreams. And sure enough, things got better. 

The spellcraft I did, and the cards that I pulled signaled to my brain that there was a time for such things and that it wasn't all the time. I could sleep easier, and I had substantially less fear. 

The only reason I ever even laid eyes on a tarot deck was through a dear friend. Through school, I was exposed to media that my family couldn't afford, anime, comics, and of course, tarot. My best friend showed me her mother's Morgan Greer deck. 

There was a definite weight to the cards. Even though I don't remember the art blowing me away. I don't remember fear or trepidation handling the cards. Even though I had been raised to be afraid of them. 

How does tarot fit into your life day-to-day – what are the regular practices you use to connect with and learn from the cards?

I notice myself pulling cards in waves. When I feel like I would be put at ease by knowing how something is going to turn out, when I'm anxious or stressed about the future or when I notice that I'm fixating on something from the past and I want to let it go. 

I pull my cards when I'm biking through a particularly beautiful trail, and feel at peace, and when I am visiting places of power. Geographical locations where I feel strong spiritual presences or a spike in energy for whatever reason. 

I notice that even on the days when I don't pull a card, I'm thinking about the images. This is how I really came to embrace pulling cards face up. I was doing in my head anyway, so it made sense to pull the cards this way as well. 

I reach for my cards when I need to make a decision where I would normally second guess myself or look for someone else to tell me what to do. I'm recovering from a time in my life where I didn't have a lot of confidence in my decision making or even my perception of reality. I have an old habit of looking for reassurance outside of myself. 

The cards help me to remember that I can look to the unseen for answers and also that there are parts of myself that I can draw from. That I almost never need to look anywhere further than my own judgment.

Do you integrate tarot into any other aspects of your spiritual or creative practice? 

One of the most unlikely spiritual combinations in my life is tarot and sexuality. I’ve pulled cards Face Up, consciously rather than at random, for Tantric rituals before. And lately, I've been drawing cards for my kink. 

This is partially due to one of my decks, Manara's Erotic Tarot. It's a hard deck to read. It's one of those made of images that weren't intended for tarot. I don't usually like decks like these. But it's comic art. And I do like comics, so it ended up being one of my first decks. But it's a dark and obscure deck. 

It focuses entirely on the male gaze, something that was interesting to me when I was younger but in the last decade or so, underwhelms me. It has some pretty kinky images. At least, at the time, indie decks have pushed the envelope in recent years.

I was already interested in kink when I bought the deck, but I wasn't so experienced at the time. I hadn't been exposed to the range of fetishes and kinky activities that I have at this point. So I used the deck but didn't really hear it, you know? 

Years after I bought it, after much more kink play, I recognized one of the images on the card as something I had (almost) done. There were cobblestones in the picture and a partially nude woman flashing traffic at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This card really came alive for me after I'd seen the Arc in person for myself AND after I'd done a brief stint modeling for fetish photography. 

I'm outside with a photographer one day wearing this corset and these heels and not much else, and it's a real struggle balancing on these cobblestones in 7-inch platforms, and I was cold and nervous about being so scantily clad in the middle of the financial district. I had to use the restroom and the photographer, being a bit of sadist suggests I go right there in the middle of the street. 

I tell him absolutely not. 

But I go ahead and imagine what it would be like, the relief, the release. I imagine what it would be like to be a person who has no shame about doing this very private act in a very public place. It would feel free. The kind of freedom and bliss you can only get doing something extreme. 

This is the image on the nine of cups in the Erotic Tarot. It has this puddle beneath a woman in the photo. And after this fetish shoot, I realized it's not rain water underneath her. It's not the exhibitionist flashing that causes her to bite her lip. 

Once I could understand this deck, it changed the way I looked at all the others, opening up a world of interpretation concerning all kinds of sexuality that had never occurred to me. 

In your professional work, are there any pro tips or insights you’ve picked up along the way that you’d like to share? 

At least two things stand out to me about reading tarot for others. Both things that it took me a long time to realize. The first is whether or not the reading is about you. The reading can be about you. Many people read tarot this way. Some realize it. Some don't. Some do it pro this way. 

They read tarot to fulfill a need that they have, and this is the primary focus. And I suppose on some level this will always come into play. Any interaction between humans will involve, hopefully, the needs of everyone getting met. The difference I am focusing on is one of primary-ness. 

Some people never bother to ask themselves the question of what is primary to their tarot practice. Are you looking to feel wise? Magical? Holy? Caring? Useful? Are these needs primary? Are you looking to be of service? 

And even if you think you mean to serve, it can be tricky to see the root of why we do the things we do. Until we face something annoying. The no-brainer. The stupid or infuriating things. These things are the clues. The pregnancy questions. The questions about a third party. The questions where some people feel the ethics are plain as day and not even worth looking at. 

These are the places where we find out our real motivation. Are we drained or are we angry when we receive the less-than-ideal questions? If we feel any heavy charge when reading, there's something we're taking personally or a need that we feel is not being met. 

If we don't happen to have the awareness to notice moments like these, we may spend our entire practice thinking we are doing one thing but in actuality doing another. This comes back to a question I've asked before on my blog that I got from Betty Martin, an educator that I love: "who's it for?"

The second thing is what a reading actually entails. We all know it can take days, months, or years to learn the cards, the symbols and their meanings and our own personalized interpretations of the archetypes. We all agree on that part. But what about communicating the reading to the querent? What about doing so without unintended triggers, microaggressions, miscommunication? What about how we listen? 

Many of the people who want readings may not have another outlet to express their issue. What about recognizing when to refer someone for services outside the realm of tarot? And if you read tarot professionally there are several more layers of expertise that it wouldn't hurt to cultivate the same as with any business. What exactly does it mean to be spiritual or emotional triage for someone? 

Having a business is its own journey without even considering the part where we learn to use the cards. There are so many ways to both run a business and use the tarot that it really behooves a person to know why they do what they do. What their values are. And yet there are so many who don't know these things about themselves. Discernment is key. 

Discernment of the teachers that we choose to learn from, the words we use, the attitude with which we approach other humans. It takes a lot of actions, daily habits, and work to handle all those things with grace and integrity. And not everybody will want to invest what is needed, and not everyone will realize that they don't want to right away. 

I just have to ask – what would be your five desert island tarot (or oracle) decks? Which ones couldn’t you live without?

If I were on a desert island, I'd honestly really focus on my God-given divination tools, words, breath, and dreams. One day you ask me this question I might say the Margarete Peterson. One day maybe the St. Croix. One day Thoth (No really, it might just have to be Thoth. That deck seems to scream at me.) And maybe that means I'm a bit ambivalent about the decks I've seen so far. And maybe there's room for me to fall in love and for this to change. 

The further down the rabbit hole I sink toward minimalism and toward letting go of objects, both of which are pretty important to me lately, the less I notice preferences that I used to hold so strong. I sometimes think about a year-long ritual I could do that involves getting rid of every deck I own, til' I own one or maybe even no more decks. To test myself and see if I could remember the impermanence of everything. 

I read a book years ago, I don't remember which one in it said, "a witch has no possessions." And me, with my Aspie-leaning heart, took it quite literally. That I couldn't call myself a witch until I had nothing or until I did not consider my relationship to things one of ownership.

I don't identify as a witch anymore. But this concept works well with my more recent Buddhist approach to things and so still serves. And when we think about the earth, isn't this for the best? The mindset that is the most sustainable is to be attached to absolutely nothing, not even the bones we breathe through. Not the most fun way to look at this question I know...

Where can we find you? 

You can find me blogging at It’s a good idea to sign up for my newsletter. Between my column on Little Red Tarot, random publications, free monthly tarotscopes, and seasonal professional readings, there’s kind of a lot to keep track of. 


You can probably tell now why I love Siobhan's tarot brain! I highly recommend her Little Red Tarot column, and do make sure you get on her mailing list so you never miss your monthly tarot scopes!

On Art & Cards: An Interview with Jennifer Dranttel of the Nomad Tarot

The hard-to-find Nomad Tarot has long been a favourite here at Two Sides Tarot. I cherish my personal copy, and every time I have it in stock in the shop, it gets snapped up within weeks. It's been a little while since this cult favourite deck has been available, but if you've been longing for a copy, your prayers are about to be answered! 

Nomad creator, Jennifer Dranttel, has just announced that, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of this deck, a new edition is on the way, seeking funding now through Kickstarter. Can I get a HELL YES, please?! 

I had a chat with Jennifer about her tarot origin story, her art practice, and what's new with this edition of Nomad. Read on for all the juice!

Nomad Tarot Interview Jennifer Dranttel

Image by Yulia Volchok

Hi Jennifer! Welcome to Two Sides Tarot. Could you introduce us to yourself, and to your work, tarot and otherwise?

Hello! I’m Jennifer, I’m an artist, illustrator, educator, mother, and traveling nomad. I’m American, but am currently living and working in the UK. My whole life I’ve been drawn to creative fields- my undergrad degrees are in Architecture, Graphic Design & Printmaking, and after a decade-long career as a professionally exhibiting artist and curator, I decided to go back to school to get my MFA in Textiles (from Savannah College of Art & Design) because I wanted to be a teacher at the University level.

I always begin my creative process with tons of research, and am inspired by a pretty wide (and wild) range of material from scientific journals to botanical gardens to poetry. I am drawn to both high-tech and low-fi materials, processes, and ideas. The history, layered imagery, and ties into traditions of folk healing, witchcraft, and other religions made Tarot a natural draw for me.

Tell us about your tarot journey - how did the cards first find their way into your life?

I had friends who read the cards and for years they were just always around at parties, dinners, and lazy sunny afternoons in the park. I never really identified as a reader myself, but always really enjoyed using them as a lightly fun way, like a horoscope or a palm reading.

I had an art show booked in 2014 and randomly decided to start looking into the Tarot, and illustrating the Major Arcana as large silkscreen prints. After about six months of research and development of my own interpretations, I became obsessed with having the entire deck in my hands, and illustrated the remaining cards. I really only set out initially to create the deck I wanted to use- with imagery drawn from my life, from the specific things that are inspirational and evocative to me- and I have to admit I’m still amazed every time a stranger wants to use it as well. So I initially began the Nomad Tarot project looking at it from the point of view of an illustrator, but in the past five years they’ve really become a part of my everyday life, and now I frequently do readings for myself and friends, have lectured on Tarot, and have sold this deck to customers all over the world.

Nomad Tarot Interview Jennifer Dranttel

Image by Holly Penikas

How did you come to be inspired to design your own deck? What was the process of creating the Nomad Tarot like?

After the initial research, I have to say that most cards I had an immediate reaction to how I wanted to interpret the material in my own way, and the artwork came quickly to me. Some (The Emperor! Ugh!) still haunt me because I don’t feel I’ve gotten them just right yet. I drew all the artwork by hand, screenprinted them at double size, then scanned in the artwork and added text, borders, and numbering digitally. I prefer to work in that way- combining the high-tech with hand drawing, because I appreciate the quality of the hand that can never be perfectly replicated by a computer. I wanted to cards to be very obviously hand-drawn, not to feel too slick.

How has creating your own deck influenced your tarot practice, or your spiritual practice in general? And what about your art practice - do you feel that working with tarot has informed your creative process at all?

I have to admit I’m still a bit of a novice when it comes to Tarot. I’m not a super experienced reader who has felt a connection to this tradition for years, I found my way here mainly through the art first and then have fallen in love with the spiritual aspect of Tarot. It was always a fun tool to self-reflection when I was younger, but since I created the Nomad Tarot I’ve definitely deepened my practice. I now try to really connect with the cards several times a week, both as a reader- as someone looking for that connection to Universal energy- and also as the creator of this deck- to keep checking in and making notes about how the cards are working and feeling, so I can make slight improvements to them to improve their use.

I think that working with the Tarot- reading and using it now for myself, as well as the result that illustrating the deck had on my career- has made me more confident and focused in all areas of my art. I think it’s made me feel more dialed-in to the world around me, tapped into a larger reservoir of creative inspiration, and more sure in my gifts as an artist.

Nomad Tarot Interview Jennifer Dranttel

Image by Fern Gray

Tarot geeks can't help themselves, so I just have to ask - what are your favourite tarot or oracle decks? What were the decks that helped to inspire or influence the creation of Nomad?

I love the spirit of the Wild Unknown Tarot, though I was pretty conscious as I was illustrating the Nomad Tarot to not look at a lot of other indie decks, because I wanted to keep my interpretations original and not be influenced by what was already out there. And I’m currently crushing on the aesthetics of the Wooden Tarot and the Ophidia Rosa Tarot.

The Nomad Tarot has been through a couple of editions now, and this relaunch looks like it'll be an exciting new chapter in this deck's story. How has your relationship with Nomad evolved since you first conceived of it? What can we expect from this new edition?

As I said, when I began this journey with the Nomad Tarot nearly five years ago, I just created the deck I wanted to use. I was new to Tarot, didn’t have a lot of experience reading, and I think that really influenced the type of deck I created. I wanted something that felt modern and fresh, that would appeal to people like me- who had dipped their toes into the Tarot pool but hadn’t really connected with a deck yet or felt slightly offput by some of the more typical and traditional Tarot imagery. So I used imagery drawn from my life, and drawn from my specific interpretations of the cards that were mostly very personal.

I’m interested in creating a new edition of the deck because after actually working with it for five years, I have a lot of new insights and small changes that will improve the Nomad Tarot for readers everywhere. There are some cards that made complete sense in my head, but after receiving tons of feedback from customers, they’re not responding to them in the way I’d intended- and I can see slight shifts that will improve their clarity and the ease of using this deck. I think the biggest improvement for this relaunch will be in the guidebook, however. I am working with a professional Tarot reader, Sara Galactica, to add new insights and make it both more specific by including way more information about using the Nomad Tarot, as well as including a lot of general ideas about how to use the Tarot as a tool for self-knowledge and realization. It’s going to be worlds better, with beautiful full-colour photographs, more ideas for spreads to use, and inspirational words from Sara. I can’t wait to get it into my hands!

Nomad Tarot Interview Jennifer Dranttel

Image by Jennifer Dranttel

How can we help get this new edition of Nomad out into the world? Where can readers find and support your work?

Well, if you don’t yet have the deck, buy one through the Kickstarter! There are also some options in there for items like limited-edition screenprints and the new edition of the Nomad Guide to the Tarot, for those who already have the deck but still want to help us get it out to a wider audience. And of course, word of mouth is the most important way to support an indie deck. The success of this deck so far has always depended on the tight-knit community of tarot fans, who have shared it, gifted it, and used it in their readings for years.

You can also follow @thenomadtarot on Instagram, and tag pictures of the deck if you’ve already purchased one with #nomadtarot. The more pictures we have out there the more people will fall in love with and want to support the project! If the funding goal is met, the deck will be available through Two Sides Tarot (Australia) [THAT'S ME!], Little Red Tarot (UK), and Altar PDX (USA).


You heard that right, Two Sides Tarot will have the new edition of Nomad in stock later in the year, but only if we all band together and get this Kickstarter campaign funded so Jennifer can send the deck to print!

Head over to the campaign to secure yourself a copy of the deck, pick up a print or book, or make a donation to help make the new edition of Nomad a reality!

3 Ways To Make Your Tarot Readings Super Empowering

If popular culture witches were to be believed, the only thing tarot is good for is telling you that a tall, dark, and handsome stranger is going to sweep you off your feet (yay!), or that a terrible, unavoidable demise awaits (boo!). Tarot has a reputation for being all about fate, and that fate usually feels pretty set in stone.

I love pop culture witches as much as the next person (The Craft, anyone?), but this limited, simplistic understanding of tarot is really not my jam!

Tarot is, in fact, an incredibly flexible tool, one that can be used not simply to predict a future that’s fixed and unchanging, but to give you insight and strategies so that you can mould that future into the shape you want.

I’m talking about using tarot readings for major personal empowerment. Isn’t that way more exciting?

1 Tarot Reading Victoria Pickering.jpg

Image Source

Whether you’re the reader, the client, or both (reading for yourself is great!), I believe you get the most value and use out of your reading when you approach it with a desire for greater personal empowerment and agency.

And where does that start? Why, with an empowering question, of course!

This is a question that puts you in the driver’s seat, a question that focuses on what information you need and what action you can take, rather than on just predicting what’s going to happen, regardless of what you do.

So, how can you ask an empowering question? Here are my tips.

1. Avoid the yes/no trap

In my time as a reader, I have often been asked, "Will I get that job?", "Will my ex come back?", "Will I have another child?". It's human nature to want to mitigate uncertainty, to crave predictability and to reduce risk and doubt.

Wouldn't it be nice to know for sure what was coming down the pipe? Then, we could sit back, relax, and wait for the promised outcome to fall in our laps! 

Sadly, reality doesn't really work that way. Sometimes things follow a predictable course, and sometimes they don’t. I don’t set a lot of store by making hard and fast predictions with the cards, simply because the future is so fluid.

Also, we can't lose sight of the fact that the future is fluid because we have a role to play in it. Sure, our world and our lives are comprised of many, many factors that are outside of our influence, but I personally believe the future is a product of our agency. It’s a story we haven’t written yet, not just a book we’re just passively reading.

So, your tarot reading is a chance to get the tools and information you need to write your story. Don't worry so much about asking will it/won't it, yes or no, and start thinking about yourself as the author of this story! What do you need to know and do in order to guide your narrative in the direction you want it to go? 

2. Take a pro-active approach

Ok, so there is one addendum to this fabulous you-as-author metaphor, and that’s the fact that when it comes to our lives, there are a lot of factors that are out of our control.

Writing your life is not so much like holing up in an isolated cabin with a pen and a blank notebook as it is like having a multi-layered conversation across a loud dinner table in a restaurant that serves food which occasionally takes you by surprise – sometimes your palate is dancing, and other times, you get a fly in your soup.

When it comes to our lives and the subject of our tarot readings, randomness and luck and the influence of powerful external forces do have a bit of a role to play. But that doesn’t mean we have to just sit back and let them walk all over us!

In order to make your tarot question empowering, it’s time to hone in on the places where you do have agency. What can you control? You guessed it! Yourself. Your mindset, your attitude, your preparedness, your decisions.

Think about it this way: we can use a tarot reading to guess at whether you'll get that job, but if you don't actually submit an application, your chances aren't good. You might have a new love in your future, but if you aren’t prepared to say yes to a single date, how can it begin to blossom?

This is your moment to think about what information you need, and how you might take action and put that to good use.

If you're searching for that new job, think about asking your tarot reader, "How can I put my best foot forward in my job search?" Or, you could ask, "What aspects of my professional self should I most emphasise to my prospective employer?" Or, "What mindset should I cultivate going into this job search?"

If you’re focused on romance, you could ask, "What action can I take to reconnect with my old lover?" or perhaps, "How can I begin to heal my broken heart?”I love it when my clients ask me, “What steps can I take to make room for new love in my life?” instead of asking me to predict when a lover will show up while they sit passively by.

All of these questions invite a response that is action-focused and practical. We've already acknowledged the fact that you can't control every aspect of your future, but you can take charge of your own attitudes and behaviours. With the right attitude and course of action, you increase your chances of creating the future you really want. And what is tarot for, after all?

3. Decide how specific you want to be

Ok, so this one’s a little flexible. When it comes to deciding how much information to give to your reader or put into your question, I tend to think you get out what you put in. A general question gives a general answer.

Sometimes a general answer is what you want, but sometimes, what you’re really looking for is detailed, specific information about how to approach your situation. If that’s the case, you want to make your question detailed and specific, too.

For example, a question like, "What should I do next?” will naturally lend itself to a pretty vague answer!

On the other hand, asking "What do I do next in order to end this difficult business partnership?" or, "What do I do next in order to get that promotion I want?" will mean the advice that comes back to you will be specifically tailored for the situation you have described.

You don't need to give your tarot reader an essay, but a little detail goes a long way to making sure your reading is specific, personal, and empowering for your situation. The more detail you put in, the more juice your reader's intuition has to work with, and the more rich and personal your reading will be!


Whether you're booking a reading with a tarot pro you trust, or getting ready to throw some cards for yourself, a client, or a friend, I hope these tips help you to make your reading as empowering as it can be! 

Feeling the need for an empowering reading of your own? You can book a reading with me here

5 Tarot Myths That Need Busting Like, Yesterday

I know many of my readers are keen tarot enthusiasts, and experienced and even professional readers. We have a whole lot to say to each other! Today's post, though, is for those of you lurking in the wings.

Maybe you stumbled upon my blog by accident, or while doing a little research into a subject you don't know too much about (yet!). Perhaps tarot has just appeared on your radar and you want to learn more, or you've been curious for a long time but haven't yet taken the first step on your tarot journey. 

Image via The Lioness Oracle Tarot

For the newly tarot-curious, the very word “tarot” is evocative, summoning up images of psychic priestesses in their temples, fortune tellers glimpsed through clouds of incense smoke, and secret ceremonies conducted by moonlight.

All of that is seductive and magical, but I know when you're just starting out, it can feel a little unapproachable. The arcane, occult trappings of tarot can be part of its appeal, but from the outside, all those rumours and rules can also feel like impenetrable obstacles!

Over the years, I’ve encountered so many people interested in the art of tarot, who felt that it wasn’t accessible to them because they weren’t psychic enough, or because they hadn’t been initiated into the Secret Psychic Tarot Readers’ Club (we have a secret handshake and everything!).

Sure, I’m the first to admit that one of the most alluring things about tarot is that it has its own mythology and mysticism. But popular culture and occult tradition alike tell a lot of stories about what it means to be a tarot reader, and way too many of those stories suggest that tarot is only available to a certain kind of person, for a particular kind of use.

I’m all for embracing arcane traditions if they make things a little more magical, but all that stuff that holds us back? Let's take a hard pass on that! The gates are open. Tarot is for everyone who chooses to make it their own.

Let's break down some barriers, shall we?

1. Your tarot deck must be a gift

We’ve all heard it said that in order to be a real tarot reader, you must be given your tarot deck as a gift. Over the years, so many aspiring tarot readers have said to me that they’d love to start reading tarot, if only someone would give them a tarot deck.

The origins of this myth are hard to pin down. Many of the occult aspects of tarot as we know it originated with the esoteric society, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, so it may be that this myth was cooked up to reinforce the idea that becoming a tarot reader required initiation and secrecy (the Golden Dawn were definitely big on ceremony!). It's possible, too, that secret initiations were necessary to keep occult practitioners safe at times in history that were less tolerant of alternative spiritual practices.

Fortunately for today's readers, though, this myth is just not true. Just think, if it were, how few tarot readers there would be in the world!

If you want to start reading tarot, I have good news. You don’t need permission. You don’t need initiation. You don’t need to be given your deck as a gift. And don’t let anyone tell you that your deck should be stolen, either – theft really sucks for bookshops, new age stores, and your bestie's carefully cultivated tarot collection, so please don’t do it!

All you need to get started on your tarot journey is an interest in tarot and willingness to get going. Treat yourself to the tarot deck of your choice, and get reading!

2. You can't start reading tarot until you've memorised all the cards

A standard tarot deck contains seventy-eight cards, which is a lot to take in, especially when you’re starting out. So many tarot-curious folks have expressed anxiety to me about how much there is to learn before you can get started, and I know there are plenty of people out there too daunted to even begin. What a pity!

Tarot is a rich, many-layered esoteric tradition, which pulls symbols, ideas, and beliefs from all corners of the Western occult and philosophical canon. From Hermetic philosophy to Kabbalah to numerology to astrology, there’s certainly plenty you can investigate to enrich your understanding of this beautiful discipline.

To begin with, though, all you need to do is shuffle, and pull a card.

Seriously, I mean it! Take out your tarot deck, and draw a card. Look at the image. What feelings does it provoke? What does it remind you of? Are there any colours or symbols that are significant to you? What would it be like to be in the situation on the card? What could you learn from this situation?

If you answered these questions, congratulations! You just read a tarot card. Well done!

When learning tarot, it is important to bury yourself in the books and drink up all you can about the symbolism in the cards. Theory is nothing without practice, though, and so it’s just as important that you give yourself time and space to play with your cards, to respond to them intuitively, through the lens of your own experience and subjectivity. In time, you’ll learn to draw your book learning and your intuitive reading together, thus transforming yourself into a tarot reader extraordinaire.

And as for memorisation, well, it’s a little overrated. Even the most seasoned tarot reader consults the books from time to time, because there’s always more to learn. Let memorising the cards be a natural side effect of your intuitive play with tarot, and not an overwhelming goal that stops you from ever getting started!

Image via the Spirit Speak Tarot Reversed

3. Tarot is only used for telling the future

This myth probably doesn’t need too much busting among the seasoned tarot readers, but if you’re new to tarot, this might be an assumption you’ve inherited. In the popular imagination, tarot readers are psychics, predicting when and where that tall, dark, and handsome stranger is going to come along and sweep you off your feet.

In practice, the turban-wearing, crystal ball-toting tarot fortune tellers are few and far between (although Two Sides Tarot has nothing against a good turban, don’t get me wrong!). There are great readers out there who offer predictive services, but this is certainly not the only way to use a deck of tarot cards.

Many readers – myself included – are more interested in the present than the future. When it comes to the questions and conundrums we all face, we want to know what’s going on under the surface. What extra information can we glean? What perspective should we take? What approach will help us make a good decision? What skills or tools should we use for this or that situation? How can we challenge our perceptions and ignite our creativity and move towards our goals, starting right now?

Sure, a good tarot reading equips us with tools for what’s to come, but I believe that the cards are most useful when we focus our attention on what’s happening now, in the present moment. Chances are, it’s more than you might think!

So, don’t be fooled. A tarot reading doesn’t have to be all about sitting back and waiting for a pre-destined future to come to you. A good tarot reading explores your inner and outer worlds as they are now, so that you can use that information to shape your own future. Knowledge is power, after all!

4. You have to be psychic to read tarot cards

This one is definitely intimidating for beginning tarot readers! Of course, in pop culture, tarot readers have long been associated with mediumship and psychic revelations and, well… a certain kind of spooky knowing. You could be forgiven for thinking you need to have prophetic dreams or communicate with the dead in order to read tarot cards.

Sure, there definitely are some folks out there who feel blessed with The Sight and who have no qualms identifying as psychic. Many of them make great tarot readers.

For a lot of us, though, “psychic” isn’t really a word we throw around. Personally, I don’t believe I’m psychic, but that’s ok, because I’ve found that there are other, even more valuable skills that make a great tarot reader.

For one, a willingness to practice. Tarot is a skill anyone can learn, and like any skill, it takes a little time to learn and a lot of time to master. Any person who picks up a deck of cards, psychic or not, will get the best from this art form if they’re dedicated to honing their craft. Practice, practice, practice!

The next thing that will help you on your tarot journey is intuition. Believe it or not, we’re all intuitive. Maybe some of us have spent more time honing that part of ourselves than others, but everyone has the ability to take information and experience and instinct and use it to make cognitive leaps in understanding about our situations or environments. And like any skill, practice only makes our intuition sharper!

Finally, it’s important to remember what we call ourselves. That is, tarot readers. Tarot is a language of symbols and associations that beginners simply need to learn to read through study and practice. Your tarot skills will grow and flourish if you focus on reading what you can see with your own eyes on the cards in front of you – no Second Sight required!

5. Tarot decks don’t reflect real people’s identities, backgrounds, and lives

This last one is really important!

A look at some of the most popular decks from the last hundred-odd years might lead you to believe that tarot is only representative of certain kinds of people. I.e., slim, able-bodied, gender-conforming, straight, white people.

Like so many types of media, tarot has been historically poor at giving a voice to the truly diverse and often marginalised types of people, relationships, and lived experiences that we actually embody and see in the world around us.

Tarot readers and creators, like people from all walks of life, come from many genders, cultures, sexualities, and ethnic groups, and in all shapes and sizes, and of course, we want to see our true selves represented in the decks we read with. For a long time, though, decks like that were few and far between.

The good news is, this paradigm is slowly changing. When second-wave feminism got hold of tarot in the 1970’s, woman-centered, and queer decks – like the Motherpeace Tarot and Thea’s Tarot – began to appear. Court cards were renamed to reflect family and social relationships, rather than feudal hierarchies, and figures on the cards were liberated from at least some of their traditional and gendered roles.

There was still a ways to go, though, and fortunately, in the last few years, this shift has really picked up in pace and scope! In the midst of tarot’s current renaissance, more artists than ever are creating tarot decks that better represent diverse lives and identities. 

They may not yet comprise the majority of decks on the market, but if you go looking, you can begin to find decks that give voice to people of colour, differently-abled people, gender-diverse and queer people, and roles and relationships that don’t conform to so-called traditional norms. And thank goodness for that! It’s so, so powerful to draw a card and see our own, true stories reflected back to us, whatever they may be.

For help on your quest for truly diverse and representative tarot decks, check out Asali Earthwork’s wonderful labour of love, the Tarot of the QTPOC list. Therein lies goodness! And for broad and inclusive tarot discourse, you really can’t miss Little Red Tarot.

We’ve come a long way, but the world of tarot publishing is by no means perfect, so let’s keep this conversation going! And if you value inclusive and expansive tarot decks and resources, vote with your dollar and support the artists doing this vital work. 


So, tarot novices, lurkers, and babes who got lost here via google search, take it from me: tarot is for you, if you want it to be! Forget about the rules and restrictions. If you want to embrace this beautiful, intuitive, dynamic, weird art form, you don't need permission. All you need is a deck of cards. Good luck out there! 

Nature or Nurture? An Interview with Marcella Kroll

Today, we're talking about one of the newest additions to the Two Sides Tarot stable, the beautiful and powerful Nature Nurture oracle deck. 

Marcella Kroll 2.jpg

If you've been around here for more than a few minutes, you probably know that I'm a big fan of artist and intuitive, Marcella Kroll. "Big fan" probably doesn't quite cover it; maybe over-excited fangirl gets a little closer!

A few years back, Marcella created the iconic Sacred Symbols oracle deck (I talked to her about that deck here), and since then she's been reading cards, changing lives, and working her ass off to raise funds and awareness for several vital environmental and social justice concerns. Marcella is the kind of spiritual leader who walks her talk, always ready to speak up in service of love and justice, and this shines through as much in her divination work as it does in her work as an activist.

Yes, ok, I am fangirling. But look at this beautiful, radiant angel! 

Earlier this year, Marcella created a new oracle deck, Nature Nurture, a sort-of follow up to Sacred Symbols, but very much its own beast. Of course, I wanted to hear all about it, and so Marcella kindly offered her time to tell us the story of how Nature Nurture came to be.

Brace yourself, there are psychic crystal skulls!

Congrats on the publication of your new deck! Could you tell us a little about what the Nature Nurture oracle is and how it works?

The Nature Nurture Oracle is a divination deck featuring animals, nature, and archetypes that might soon be extinct if humanity continues consuming and abusing our resources, as well as forgetting where we come from.

So the cards have a dual purpose. While one might get a personal reading and benefit from the messages, the subjects painted in the cards will also be given some recognition and healing as well.

I've heard that you had an unusual champion for the creation of this deck! Could you tell us a little about how the Nature Nurture oracle deck came to be, and what the process of creation was like?

In the spring of 2016 I received a psychic hit (aka message) informing me that I would create another deck. I had no idea at the time how it would happen. So I just let go of the idea since it wasn't something I had been planning. Also since I was having some health challenges that needed to be addressed, it hadn't become a priority.

That summer I was psychically pulled to a metaphysical shop in Los Angeles (where I live). It felt like I was energetically summoned to go to this place, even though I had no intention of going there that day. When I arrived I was greeted by an ancient crystal skull 💀 named Einstein. He was there giving readings with his guardian Carolyn.

In the reading they informed that I was to not give up on my creation because it would help contribute to the Earth's healing. It was powerful to say, but it took me another 6 months to get to work. After a gruelling few months of getting my health on track, getting sober, and becoming heavily involved in organising raising funds for a couple of key political movements I crashed.

Over the course of January and February 2017 I hand drew all of the cards, wrote the booklet meanings, and taught myself photoshop to graphically lay them out and design them. To get them printed I applied for a loan through which is a fantastic non-profit that allows others to support small business and creators all over the world. Through that generosity I have been able to print the first edition and get them out into the world. A magical and humbling experience.

Nature Nurture Oracle Australia

Your previous deck, Sacred Symbols, is very much a favourite here at Two Sides Tarot! How would you say your art and your ideas have evolved between Sacred Symbols and this new deck?

Well for one, I'm not homeless. Sacred Symbols happened without intention really. I was homeless and bouncing around trying to figure out my purpose. I never imagined it would be something that would completely change my world. Part of creating that deck was to get these symbols that I would see repeatedly in my psychic readings out of my brain and onto paper.

I knew it was some kind of language that needed to be translated but wasn't sure how or why. Also because with the growing revival of the mystical and the current fashion trends of all things witchy, I felt it was important to offer some kind of educational aspect to the symbols and those connecting to them. The booklet is very simple, but I wanted to include a source of imagery. So folks knew what they were connecting to on a more conscious level.

Has working with Nature Nurture influenced or changed your personal spiritual practice, or your work with clients? If so, what has it brought to the table?

I have found that the Nature Nurture deck has become a staple in my readings with clients and my daily practice. It commands me to give it my full attention. Not in a bossy way, but just in a "please respect this energy message" way.

It allows me to connect in a way with clients and they connect with the cards in a more relaxed way. Most folks can recognize the imagery and have an instant sense of how to work with the energy. Allowing them to stay present moment and get the information they really need for their growth and evolution.

How would you recommend that readers work with the Nature Nurture oracle? Any pro tips?

Take your time, court it, or dive right in. I would say connect however the hell you want. Honestly I'm not a big traditionalist when it comes to divination or anything for that matter. I mean I'm self taught and don't play by rules. So do what works for you. Yes by all means read the booklet but find your own connection, and meanings if that resonates more. After all you are the interpreter.

The only other advice I would offer would be: Respect the cards, Respect your practice, Respect the space that comes with offering insight, and Respect yourself.


Now that is some good advice!

You can find out more about Marcella at her website, or follow her on Instagram

Purchase the beautiful Nature Nurture oracle from Marcella (US only), or from right here at Two Sides Tarot (worldwide shipping available). 

Making Friends with the Light Grey Cosmos Tarot

A new deck in town is always an exciting thing, and maybe I’m crazy, but the Light Grey Cosmos Tarot & Oracle Deck had me extra excited. If you’ve had a glimpse of this deck online, you’ll know that the production is lux and the art show-stopping. Not only that, but in addition to the standard 78-card tarot deck, it also includes a bonus 22-card oracle deck. Effectively, it’s two decks in one. A hard proposition to resist for those of us who like our cards a little… extra!

Shop the Light Grey Cosmos Tarot & Oracle Deck here!


Cosmos is the second collaborative tarot project from the masterminds at Light Grey Art Lab (you can find the first Light Grey Tarot here). Like the first deck, each card in Cosmos is the work of a different artist, bringing together 100 artists from around the world to riff on tarot and astrology in this unique and beautiful deck.

I don’t know how they managed it, but like the original Light Grey Tarot, Cosmos is simultaneously diverse and cohesive, aesthetically speaking. It’s an amazing feat of fortune and coordination to have one hundred artists – not necessarily versed in tarot – create one hundred individual artworks that come together to make a singular working deck. Honestly, it’s kind of remarkable!

Oracle Cards from the Light Grey Cosmos Tarot & Oracle

The other feat of unification that the Light Grey Cosmos deck achieves is its parallel exploration of tarot, mythology and astrology. Each card has a celestial attribution, bringing together traditional tarot meanings and the symbolic and mythological significance of constellations, planets, and other astral phenomena. Although, to say the tarot associations are traditional is not strictly correct; some of the cards read like their Rider Waite Smith equivalents, but many have been taken in unique directions. Cosmos is definitely kind of deck that rewards study, so get those tarot journals out!

When I look at a new deck, I like to check out how it deals with sexuality and gender, usually by looking at the Ten of Cups, the Two of Cups, and the Ten of Pentacles, and The Lovers. Interestingly, each of these cards depicts a woman either alone or with an animal (The Lovers, which is associated in this deck with the sign of Cancer, shows a woman with an abstract, crab-like creature).

When it comes to racial diversity, there are cards that depict people of colour (to name a few, The Sun, The Star, and the Five of Earth). The art definitely errs on the side of fantastical, so there are also a lot of magical blue people, for example. Cosmos’ depiction of people of colour is not overly realistic, but then, there isn’t much realism at all in this strange, celestial deck.

Interestingly, a goodly proportion of the cards depict non-human figures, landscapes, or symbolic objects. For that reason, Cosmos will definitely appeal to readers who prefer their decks to place less emphasis on mundane human images, or who like their art well steeped in fantasy.

Since this deck very much marches to the beat of its own drum, it’s fortunate that it comes with a pretty detailed book. There are also keywords printed on each card, along with the card name and associated constellation, which you can utilize or ignore at will.

So, I’ve been taking my time getting to know this deck (a lot of which has been spent just oohing and ahhing over the lush gold foiled edges and the gorgeous imagery). After a while, though, it’s time to stop looking and start reading! For the purposes of this deck interview, I’ve excluded the oracle cards. I’ll give them their own review and interview at a later date.


Keywords: Consequences of Arrogance. Vanity and Pride.

The Queen of Fire tells the story of Cassiopeia, and her daughter, Andromeda, women punished for their pride by the sea god, Poseidon. While the story of Cassiopeia warns of the potential pitfalls of pride (or perhaps of cranky gods who’d rather keep women in their places), the accompanying booklet says that really, this card is about Andromeda rising above her trials and breaking free.

Freedom is something the Light Grey Cosmos Tarot has in spades! Traditional tarot structures and elemental associations are all up for grabs here, and this deck makes no apologies for it. This deck captures all that dark stuff – pride, revenge, subjugation – but also brings a liberated spirit to the reading table.


Keywords: Subconscious. Indecision. Critique. Sensitivity.

I’m not surprised to see The Moon come up, because this deck can be pretty weird! From the imagery to the keywords to the astral phenomena, Cosmos follows its own lead and resists any assumptions you might want to impose upon it (there’s that free thinking again!). Obviously, this uniqueness and weirdness is a great strength!

When it comes to working with The Moon, we know the best tools we have are intuition and creativity. It’s fair to assume that Cosmos is in its element when the reader approaches with these tools in hand.

3. WHAT ARE YOUR LIMITS AS A DECK? 10 of Water (Corona Borealis)

Keywords: Triumph After Sacrifice. New Beginnings.

Cosmos associates the Ten of Water with the story of Ariadne, who, after being abandoned by her lover, Theseus, finds redemption and a new beginning when she is wooed by Dionysus (it’s worth noting that while the artwork on this card depicts a woman with two leopard-like cats so is not overly heteronormative, the myth that the card is associated with obviously is, so your mileage in that regard may vary!).

So, what do we make of this as a limitation? It would seem Cosmos is not overly concerned with tidy endings, or clean-cut tales of redemption. Don’t expect any coddling here! This deck is complex, and maybe even a little cool, so until you’ve learned to speak its language, reading with it is not going to be a soothing experience. Who doesn’t love a challenge, though?

4. WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO TEACH ME? Three of Air (Hercules)

Keywords: Great Effort. Trial.

Personally, I love this take on the Three of Air. Unlike the traditional meaning of this card (pain, heartbreak), Cosmos makes the Three of Air about proving yourself through strength and endurance. The scene on the card depicts Hercules’ eleventh labour, and demonstrates that we often have to weather many storms in order to get to where we want to go.

Cosmos is obviously here to toughen us up! Or to remind us of how resilient we actually are. I’m already finding that the mixture of tarot, astrology, and mythology in this deck is forcing me to flex my reading muscles, and that’s evidently part of Cosmos’ design. This deck is here to push us as readers, which can only be a good thing!


Keywords: Seeing the Big Picture. Gaining Perspective.

The King of Water is associated with Camelopardalis, the giraffe constellation, and is associated with the Qilin, giraffe-like creatures from Chinese mythology. This King is all about taking an aerial view of things, stepping back and seeing the big picture.

That definitely feels like a good strategy for reading with a deck that’s so ambitious in scope! The best way to work with Cosmos is to step away from narrow assumptions about traditional card meanings, and instead to allow elemental, mythological, and astrological associations to coalesce into something bigger and more complex.


Keywords: Incubation. Pregnancy.

The Two of Fire tells the story of the Roman goddess of the hearth, Fornax, who was honoured with the festival of Fornicalia to ensure that the year’s grain would be properly baked. Buns in the oven, anyone? I hope we’re all using birth control!

It seems Cosmos is so slick it might even get you laid, but it’s probably more likely that working with this deck will lead to some cool creative breakthroughs. There’s so much richness to delve into here that fruitful inspirations are bound to bloom. Personally, I’m excited to delve into this deck’s depths and get those fiery, creative ideas incubating!


Phew! It's been a long one today, but there's just so much in this rich and beautiful deck. Cosmos is definitely a deck that rewards close study, so I'm looking forward to spending more time with it and discovering all of its quirks and secrets!

The Light Grey Cosmos Tarot & Oracle deck is, of course, in the shop now and ready to ship! You can pick up your own copy right here.

5 Clues You're In Deep With Your Tarot Cards (And You Love It!)

Unless you’ve been in a cave working on some seriously dark witchcraft, you’ve probably noticed that tarot is having A Moment right now. Public figures are coming out of the closet as long-time readers, your best friend has a copy of the Wild Unknown Tarot, and even that preppy dude in your office knows that the Death card doesn’t mean literal death. The cards are everywhere, and suddenly tarot is more than just a curiosity. Suddenly, tarot is actually kinda cool.

Just because tarot’s de rigeur right now, doesn’t mean that our flirtation with the cards can’t have serious substance. Tarot is a powerful tool for self-reflection and exploration, and an amazing way to work with art and archetypes in our every day lives. “Every day” is key: tarot might seem occult and mystical (and it definitely can be – if turbans are your jam, please don one now!), but it can also be infinitely practical and worldly wise.

Of course, you already know that. You’re probably shuffling your deck as we speak, In fact, I bet you'll recognise at least a few of the following traits of the tarot-obsessed!

1. You can’t leave the house in the morning without drawing a card

We’ve all been there – you wake up late, five minutes after you were meant to leave the house, throw your clothes on, juggle your keys and handbag and a piece of toast, you’re seconds from racing out the door when you realize, “Oh shit, I need to pull a card for the day!”

Ok, ok. It isn’t always so hectic. Sometimes we even manage to get up early, light some incense, and meditate for a few quiet minutes before doing our daily draw. But whether it’s at the altar or on your lap in traffic, you know the best way to start the day is by checking in with your tarot deck.

A daily tarot draw is a great way to ground and centre yourself in the morning, to take a conscious pause before the day kicks off, check in with yourself, and choose your focus or intention. It’s also an excellent way to get to know your tarot deck, one card at a time. You might draw a card on what energies are coming up during the day, or ask what approach it would serve you to take right now.

Can’t manage a draw every morning? Try once a week instead, or even once a month. Checking in with your cards on the reg the perfect way to build a close relationship with your deck.

2. You know your tarot birth card and either do an epic fist pump or burst into happy tears every time it appears in a reading

Your birth card uses your birthday to determine which card of the Major Arcana is your mascot or your archetype. A little like your sun sign in astrology, your birth card highlights some of your most integral traits and tendencies.

You know tarot’s in your blood when you’re facing a tough situation and visualizing the awesomeness of your birth card, because it reminds you to play to your innate strengths. You also know your birth card makes a great cheerleader. When it shows up in a reading you take it as a sign you’re in the right place at the right time, and you can trust yourself to make the best of it (hence the triumphant fist pump or the relieved tears!).

Don’t know your tarot birth card? It’s super easy to figure out! Just take your birthday – day, month, and year – and add the numbers together until they reduce down to 21 or less. For example, 25/7/1987 would be 2+5+7+1+9+8+7 = 39. 3+9 = 12, making your birth card arcanum number 12, The Hanged Man. Go forth and learn about your card and see what wisdom and encouragement it can offer you!

3. You use tarot as a metaphor for literally everything

When you’re living and breathing tarot from dawn ‘til dusk (and let’s face it, probably from dusk ‘til dawn, too, since witching work naturally lends itself to the cover of darkness!), it’s totally normal to see your cards everywhere, from that sweet Nine of Pentacles feeling you get when your pay rise comes through, to visions of Beyonce with her babes as the resplendent Empress on your instagram feed.

You’ve probably even confused a colleague when she announces her imminent breakup by nodding emphatically and saying, “I get it, a total Eight of Cups type sitch!” Jenny from Publicity might look bewildered, but you know that the Eight of Cups teaches us to choose growth over security, innovation over the status quo, which is a great sign for Jenny’s next adventure.

When you’re out in the world, keep your eyes peeled for real life manifestations of your cards, whether it’s your workmate’s breakup journey with the Eight of Cups, your meditation teacher channeling The Hierophant, or The Devil appearing in your urge to buy shoes after a bad day at work. Tarot might be a centuries-old art form, but its concepts and scenarios are as relevant as ever. Looking for chances to see your cards in the world is a great way to put tarot’s ideas into action!

4. You mark all occasions on the calendar with a tarot reading

You know your tarot deck is a valuable tool for reflection and self-exploration, and what better way to reap that benefit than a reading for the new year? While you’re at it, better check in each month on the new moon, with a follow up for the full moon. Is there a solstice coming up? Better line up a tarot reading for that, too!

You know you’re mad for the cards when nary a significant day goes by without a chance to check in with your cards. Birthdays, new months, moon cycles, Mondays… all great opportunities to draw some cards and reflect on where you’re at and where you’re going.

If you don’t already, explore reading your cards with the phases of the moon – what’s waxing in your life as the moon waxes, and how might you bring it to fruition? What’s waning, and needs to be released? With its journey from The Fool to the World and back again, tarot teaches us about the ever-turning cycles of our lives, so casting a spread for the turning of the lunar calendar is a great way to dig deeper into your deck.

5. You have a crick in your neck from sleeping with your new deck under your pillow

Is there anything better than racing home from your local new age store with that cellophane wrapped deck in your bag, or finding your latest Kickstarter-funded tarot parcel waiting on your doorstep? You know you’re truly tarot obsessed when you can’t wait to get to work on bonding with your new deck and getting it ready for use.

There are a ton of popular rituals for building your relationship with a new deck, and you’ve probably tried them all, from cleansing with smoke to charging under the moon to sleeping with your new deck beneath your pillow. Tarot readers have been known to charge and cleanse their decks with salt or flour, and some light to place a clear quartz crystal on their decks between readings to clear any leftover vibes.

Subliminally bonding with your deck while you’re snoozing is great, but if it’s too hard on your head you might also like to try something more practical. Get to know your new deck by looking through the cards, pausing on the images and symbols that grab your attention. Journaling with your deck is a great way to forge a relationship, or you could invite your new friend to speak for itself with a classic deck interview spread


There are so many ways our cards can positively impact our spiritual lives and our day-to-day routines. No doubt you’ve tried at least a few if not all of the above! Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to make tarot part of your life. Do what feels resonant to you, and remember, if you love your cards, they’ll love you back!

All About Love: A Meditation on The Lovers

If you've been here before, you probably know that when it comes to writing, I like to follow my whims. If it's been quiet on the blog front, which it has, it's because at the moment I'm mostly sharing my writing in my occasional email newsletter (that's where this piece originally appeared). If you'd like to keep up with my latest tarot musings and news, you can sign up here

The Lovers from Tarot in Space! and The Wild Unknown Tarot.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about love. In a little over a month, it'll be a year since my last relationship ended, and throughout that time, I've thought a lot about what place love ought to have in my life. I also wonder what it means to love well, not just your lover, but your family, your friends, your community, your clients and colleagues, your work.

I recently devoured bell hooks' meditation on this subject, All About Love, and it left me with a lot to ponder. hooks borrows her definition of love from the psychiatrist M. Scott Peck (who in turn follows the work of psychoanalyst Erich Fromm), who describes love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." I haven't yet managed to fully understand and integrate that as a definition, but suffice it to say that lightbulbs are going off in the deep recesses of my mind! I hope this idea - one that seems simultaneously obvious and world-shaking - gives you pause, too.

hooks draws on Peck further, quoting that "love is an act of will - namely both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love." Again, this seems both obvious and revolutionary. What if we didn't think of love - in any of its forms - so much as a feeling that steals over us as a course of action we willed ourselves to undertake?

As it turns out, the trusty tarot already has this idea well and truly covered. Our friends in the Major Arcana, The Lovers, are all about helping to guide our choices. We're all familiar with the Rider Waite Smith Lovers, the union of a woman and a man presided over by an angel, but unless you're Marseille Tarot savvy, you may not have noticed that earlier iterations of this card depict a man, struck by cupid's arrow, choosing between two women (see Rachel Pollack's excellent book, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, for a more extensive history of both these cards). The notion of choice, particularly in matters of love, has always been at the forefront of this card's meaning.

The Lovers from the Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition and the Tarot of Jean Noblet.

Here we have a marriage, ordained by spirit, freely entered into, of opposites, complements, chosen loves. Of course, when we look at the Rider Waite Smith's imagery, we must acknowledge that not everyone is straight, not everyone believes in marriage, not everyone sees their gender represented. As we get better at listening to each other and seeing each other's unique identities, we know that this isn't the best way to represent the choice to love and to commit. Nonetheless, the ideas here remain powerful. This is love in service of spiritual growth and inner unity, and when we draw this card, we're being invited to choose that path.

While this card is usually associated with romantic love, its lessons about choice have a much broader application. Just as The Lovers must choose the right partner if they are to reap the spiritual benefits of an angel-blessed union, so too must we choose what and whom we love, and choose again and again to love well so that our spirits - and the spirits of the people and places and projects we love - can grow and flourish.

What does this mean, practically speaking? I don't think bell hooks wants to make a prescription, and for my part, well, I'm still figuring that out. For now, though, let's chew on this idea that when we love well, we're striving to nourish each other's - and our own - spirits. And that it's through our will that we make this commitment. Every minute we get to choose to love, or not, and choose again.

What are your thoughts on The Lovers - or on love in general? Love it? Hate it? Been there, done that and bought the t-shirt? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Twitter. I'd love to hear your perspective!

Introducing the Minimalist Oracle: An Interview with Rachel Lieberman

You might have noticed things have been a little quiet over here on the blog - and by a little quiet, I mean, yikes, I haven't posted since November. What's up with that? Well, I'd always rather save a post until I have something truly epic to share, and while that might not have been the case for the past couple of months, I definitely have something epic for you today! 

I'm always on the lookout for new, independently published tarot and oracle decks that exemplify beautiful design and interesting, original ideas, so naturally when I came upon the Minimalist Oracle, I knew I had to have it! As is usually the way when I find a gorgeous new indie deck, I get a copy for myself, and a truckload for the shop, too. 

What better way to get to know a new oracle deck than to chat to its creator? Today, we're joined by mystical creative person, Rachel Lieberman (clearly "mystical creative person" is the best descriptor of any artist I've interviewed so far!), who's here to tell us a bit about marrying up minimalist design and divination for deep soul work!

Welcome, Rachel! Tell us a little about yourself as an artist and oracle/tarot reader and human person.

Hi! Thank you so much for having me, Marianne, and for supporting what I have created. Let’s see – I live in Portland, Oregon, where I was born and grew up, though I’ve traveled and lived in lots of different parts of the USA and world. I have a very “normal” non-creative corporate day job as a Project Manager at a large translation company. 

I live a sort of double life as a corporate employee and a mystical creative person, which I love. I am really inspired by aesthetically beautiful objects that also hold wisdom and meaning, so it would make sense that I would be drawn to tarot and oracle decks.

I actually knew absolutely nothing about tarot or divination or the mystical world until about two years ago when some unexpected life events introduced me to some unseen things I didn’t know existed. I wanted to make sense of what I was experiencing, so I turned to tools like tarot to help me process. This journey for me has turned out to be about self empowerment, self love, and some very painful but rewarding deep soul work, and the tarot was a very important guide for me.

Tell us a little about your creation, the Minimalist Oracle. Where did the inspiration for this deck first come from? What was the process of creating the deck like?

I knew I wanted to create this about a year and a half ago, but I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how I would possibly translate the vision inside into something physical. By January of last year, the inner whisper to do it had turned into a scream, and I knew I needed to drop everything and make it happen, so I pretty much did literally that. Last minute I took a week off from my job, and spent the whole week shut in my apartment formulating what this might look like. I’ve always been attracted to minimalist art. I also loved tarot and oracle decks but wasn’t seeing something that I felt really reflected my aesthetic. So, I figured I would create it. That week I only accomplished a fraction of what would be the final deck, but at that point I knew I couldn’t stop. The art I put in the deck is a combination intuition and precise calculation. I would typically sit down and let myself go wild with the color, shape, etc. Then I would carefully edit it until I felt that the emotion I wanted to convey was distilled to the most simple and powerful form possible.

It took almost exactly a year to finish creating it, printing it, and launching it, and a lot of edits and changes took place along the way, but I made it happen! It’s exciting to do something completely new.

Backtracking a little bit, could you tell us a little about your artistic background, and how that has informed and influenced the way you envisioned and created your deck? What does your art practice look like, day-to-day?

To be honest, when I set out to create this, I really didn’t consider myself an artist. I’ve always felt the desire to create, but as an adult I didn’t make it a priority. In a way I think I had a fear and judgment of that impulse in myself, which actually has made this process even more powerful, so I’m thankful for it. Two years ago, I randomly found myself at a point in my life where I had a lot of solitude and space from the rest of the world. I started asking myself the big questions – what do I NEED to do with my life? The answer was – create something visual. So, I started painting, drawing, making paper cut outs, everything I could, just for the sheer joy of it. I had no direction or idea what I was doing, but I came home every night and worked a little bit. Eventually I found that I was getting better at taking what was in my head and finding some way to make it real.

Even now, I don’t create art everyday. Sometimes I don’t create anything for months at a time, though I think that is changing. I make sure to leave the space in my life for it, and when I feel the visceral need, I go for it. However, everyday I consume images through tumblr, instagram, blogs, pinterest. There is something inside of me that feels hungry for it, so I take a little time everyday to “feed” myself. This inspiration helps refine, expand, and stimulate my aesthetic sensibilities.

As much as you feel comfortable sharing it, what role (if any) does reading cards have in your own spiritual practice, and how has working with your own art - both making the deck and reading with it - in this setting influenced and shaped your personal journey?

This deck is, in many ways, based on my own personal journey. The cards I chose to create were themes or feelings I experienced in my own life as I decided to start overcoming fear, limited beliefs, and old patterns. Creating the deck actually helped me define and gain perspective on how I saw both myself and the world, which was really beneficial. In a way, tarot and oracle decks are an organization system for the most chaotic thing in the world – the human growth journey, in all its messy glory. To see my journey in a more objective way was helpful.

Holding my own physical deck for the first time when I printed a test copy was such a magical feeling. Then, I worked with the deck everyday on my own for months before finalizing it and printing it to be released to others. I wanted to make sure that every card’s message was clear and expressed exactly what I wanted to say. Creating this deck was a huge victory for me – it made me feel powerful, free, and confident. It has changed the way I view myself and the way I operate in the world. I’m so glad I get to share it with others but my own desire to make it and use it was really my motivation.

Because we at Two Sides Tarot can never resist a good deck recommendation, what are the tarot or oracle decks that you love to read with? Are there any decks that have been a big influence on the Minimalist Oracle?

The Osho Zen Tarot was my first deck and I would say it was my biggest inspiration for the Minimalist Oracle. It’s a quirky, playful deck with a lot of personality, and I love that about it, though I rarely use it anymore. All of the independently published decks are my favorite now – I met fellow Portlander and tarot deck creator Coleman Stevenson of The Dark Exact during this process, and I love her everything she creates, including her deck The Dark Exact Tarot. Right now I am loving Rachel Howe’s Small Spells Tarot, Spirit Speak’s Iris oracle deck, and the After Tarot.

Finally, how would you like to see the Minimalist Oracle used? Any pro tips for working with it?

I really wanted this deck to have a friendly, loving, but direct personality. It will tell you the truth, but in a thoughtful way. So, I hope that the owners of this deck develop a relationship with it as a companion. It’s a deck that can be used everyday, since it helps connect with emotions, and those are constantly changing. It’s also a great addition to tarot spreads, partially because the clean lines go nicely with almost any aesthetic, which was my intention.

I designed the packaging specifically so that it could withstand being thrown in my bag everyday and come along – it travels well. I bring mine with me everyday to work and draw a card or two for inspiration that day, or use it as a journaling aid. For me, personal growth is at its best when its practices are integrated into our day to day lives – not as something that is limited to any one time or place. Use this deck to turn anywhere into a sacred space for you to connect with yourself!


You can find out more about Rachel at her website, and I'm so happy to say that the Minimalist Oracle is in stock now at Two Sides Tarot

Thoughts? Questions for Rachel? Reflections on these beautiful cards? Leave us a note in the comments or come and say hi on Twitter!

Introducing The Holly Simple Tarot: An Interview with Holly Simple

Today on the blog, I'm super excited to roll out the red carpet for artist, animator, and tarot creator, Holly Simple.

The Holly Simple Tarot has just landed in the Two Sides Tarot shop, and I can't even tell you how stoked I am to have it in stock! This deck blends freakiness and simplicity and a gorgeous pastel palette in the best possible way, and Holly's take on traditional tarot ideas and symbolism has challenged and delighted me at every turn. Read on to learn more about Holly's art and spiritual practice, and about the creation of this unique deck - and to see one of her beyond cool animations! 

Welcome, Holly! Tell us a little about yourself as an artist and tarot reader and human person.

Hi Marianne - Thank you so much for asking me to join you in your wonderful world! My art is an extension of me. My creativity started at a young age as form of escape into fantasy. I have always been creative in nature, therefore ALWAYS producing work. I am a Brooklyn, NY based cartoonist, illustrator, animator and maker. My daily sketchbooks over the years are of utmost inspiration and help me to adapt my pieces to my current mood.

After self publishing several indie comics and zines, I took that form of expression and combined it with my personal spiritual and emotional condition - this resulted in my "emo digital sketch blog" - here I was able to turn my sketchbook images into animations which helped emote the truest emotions I was experiencing during any given time in my life.

Congrats on the publication of your new deck, the Holly Simple Tarot! Where did the inspiration for this deck first come from? What was the process of creating the deck like?

THANK YOU! I am living in elation right now... This deck has been a yearlong project and finally having the deck physically in hand feels like I have birthed a child! I am SUPER connected to this deck and very proud of the final result :)

The inspiration for this deck happened instantly after my VERY FIRST TAROT READING about a year and half ago to the day... I was struck with awe at how the cards spoke to me and brought clarity to my innermost fears, dreams, etc. The deck used was The Wild Unknown, and the artwork on the cards was just stunning. As a fellow illustrator I dove into this project. It was certainly an "AHA" moment. Like, "DUH I HAVE TO DO THIS!"

I hit the ground running researching each card's meaning and history and kept a live diary and sketchbook. This helped me create my cards' imagery in a very personal way. I turned these pages into a guidebook and something to share with others. I believe it allows others to understand my creative process. Each page is dedicated to a card so it truly acts as a guide for those learning tarot.

Backtracking a little bit, could you tell us a little about your artistic background, and how that has informed and influenced the way you envisioned and created your deck? What does your art practice look like, day-to-day?

Art and creation have been a part of my life since birth! I was always creating weirdness. My art is NOT conventional. I am inspired by my truth - and so far it has been a roller coaster of beautiful growing HIGHS and deep, dark, painful LOWS. It is the dark that really motivates me and inspires me. I like to combine the feeling of pain and hurt with colorful joyous color and poppy visuals. For example, a bloody hand spewing out the colors of the rainbow. I can always tap into that place, because I have been there. Now in the light, I see it as an opportunity to show others that beauty can come from these places if you put in the work and BELIEVE you are taken care of by the universe :)

My art studio is in my apartment - my boyfriend can attest that it is an ever-growing space lol. I tend to let my work take over sometimes but because I am a visual person it is alllllll part of the process. Living amongst my studio allows me to dapple with it each day. I am always working on something. Be it penciling or inking comics or illustrations, coloring with acrylics or watercolor, coloring digitally, or using clay to mold wearable jewelry pieces.

As much as you feel comfortable sharing it, what role (if any) does tarot have in your own spiritual practice, and how has working with your own art - both making the deck and reading with it - in this setting influenced and shaped your personal journey?

I do have a daily personal spiritual practice. Tarot allows me to enhance this practice by shedding more awareness on my most subconscious thoughts. I like to use an oracle deck to pull a daily card of reflection, and use tarot when I am in a place of uncertainty. I prefer doing readings for others, because I like the idea of being helpful to others and of service to the universe.

Using my own deck is BEYOND a spiritual experience. I am so connected to it and feel very confident in its energy. It is a beautiful thing to be able to share it with others through readings and now through its availability to the public! I am a super novice reader, but have always been connected to something, so look forward to growing and learning with the practice.

Because we at Two Sides Tarot can never resist a good deck recommendation, what are the tarot or oracle decks that you love to read with? Are there any decks that have been a big influence on the Holly Simple Tarot?

The classic Rider Waite deck was the only deck I allowed myself to handle during my creative process. I wanted no outside influences artistically. However, through social media, I stumbled upon some STUNNING decks and amazing artists. My top two are Circo Tarot's use of soft color and Tarot Del Fuego's bold traditional tattoo-like images (OMG obsessed).

Finally, how would you like to see the Holly Simple Tarot used? Any pro tips for working with it?

There are no particular spreads, ways, or suggestions for tarot that I feel work best for using my deck. I believe it is intuitive and that this gift is within all of us. Personally I like to throw a quick 3 card PAST PRESENT FUTURE reading but as a novice I am the one looking for suggestions and pro tips on how to further my study :) Lately I have been working with the Celtic cross spread - My deck's artwork and visual story telling really help me when doing readings, it is very clear what the card is saying. I believe beginners will find my deck helpful in that way :)

I look forward to hearing about your and other readers' experiences with my deck! YAY!


You can find the Holly Simple Tarot and Guidebook right here at Two Sides Tarot! Find out more about Holly's work at her website or tumblr, and catch her on Instagram or Twitter.

Further Reading, October 2016

Another month gone by, another collection of excellent reading! Here's what got my mental and spiritual juices flowing in October.

Around Here

Things have been a little quiet on the blog of late. I oscillate between being furious at myself for not writing at all, and permissively accepting of fallow periods where nothing gets done. Some middle ground would be nice, but oh well! C'est la vie, and all that. I did manage to dive into why the Seven of Cups was appearing so frequently in the Weather Report, which yielded interesting results, and to answer 10 Questions Every Tarot Reader Should Answer about my approach to the cards. 

October was also an exciting month for new decks arriving in the shop. The Mayhem Tarot is keeping things creepily cool, while Tarot in Space! ticks all of your retro futurist boxes. The Small Spells Tarot has impressed me to no end with its clean lines and thoughtful symbolic cohesion, and of course, I'm besotted with Mary Elizabeth Evans' new oracle deck, Iris (pictured above). Also, after a period of absence, Vessel is back in stock. Huzzah! Watch this space, because there's more goodness coming soon. 

On the Bookshelf

As ever, I had a few books on the go throughout the month, but standouts include We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (who can pass on gothic familial horror about murderesses? Not I), and King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes. The latter was recommended to me as part of a truly excellent tarot reading from Jessa Crispin, and although the book served a purpose in my life last month, I think what I'm actually recommending here is a reading from Jessa, because she's great, and because the one thing I love more than a helpful tarot reading is a a thoughtful book recommendation, and she offers both. Book a reading with Jessa here (seriously, do it!).

The Best of Elsewhere

Ahh, the thorny question of questions! Sometimes I think half the battle of reading tarot is figuring out what you want to know and how to ask for it, so naturally I loved Hilary of Tarot by Hilary's suggestions for asking the cards good questions (you can also see my take on this topic here).

It may surprise you to know that I'm not overly fussed about rituals and consecrations of my tarot cards. When I get a new deck, I'm usually too excited to bust it out of the packet and play with it to worry too much about full moon charging or smudging or whatever. I like to think reverence and sacredness accretes with use! With that said, I'll always stop and listen when Mistress of Ceremonies, Briana Saussy, has something to say, and her guide to blessing a tarot deck is no exception. 

Sarah von Bargen's blog is filled with gems, but I particularly enjoyed these 37 blogging and business tips Sarah shared for her birthday. Whether you're curious about blog formatting or writing practice or networking, this list will have you covered!

Ever since Krista Tippett interviewed my most beloved poet, Mary Oliver, On Being has been one of my favourite podcasts. This week's episode is an interview with the Irish poet Michael Longley, and it had me laughing and crying in equal measures. 

Artist and deck creator, Rebekah Erev, has just launched Hebrew Priestess TV, where she'll be talking about, among other things, her beautiful and unique oracle, the Moon Angels deck. What can I say, I just love Rebekah's thoughtful, spiritual, and zero-bullshit approach to practically everything! You can buy the Moon Angels cards from Rebekah, or from right here at Two Sides Tarot

That's what I've been reading and loving. What about you? Leave me a recommendation in the comments, or come say hi on Twitter!

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Why Is This Tarot Card Stalking Me? The Seven of Cups Edition

It seems there's a stalker lurking outside our metaphorical window right now. If you follow the daily Weather Report, you might have noticed that the Seven of Cups has popped up three times in the last fourteen days. I'm not mathematically minded enough to say for sure how statistically significant that is (and I know it'll take me 5 years to begin to understand the google search results if I try to look it up, so), but I feel like that's of a frequency worth noting, don't you?

When a card appears persistently in the daily Weather, for the first couple of times I take it to mean we need to reiterate the original message. If it continues to appear, I start to wonder if it isn't time to delve into some of the dustier corners of a card's various meanings.

The Seven of Cups calls us to make choices with discernment. It also cautions us about flights of fancy and distractions that threaten to nudge us off course. It says that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is, and that our imaginations are wonderful tools when deployed in tandem with our capacity for critical thought. Like all the Sevens, it's a pause, a chance to get back on track or to tumble spectacularly off. The question is, which message do we need to heed right now?

When I draw a card for the Weather, I do so with the intention to get a message that's useful for anyone who might happen upon it. Sometimes the card will reflect what's going on in my life, but not always, and no doubt that's equally true of a subset of my readers each day. We're all in different places in our lives, and perhaps not everyone is having a Seven of Cups moment right now. Clearly, though, some of us need to think about fantasy and choice and discernment! 

Thankfully, we don't have to keep drawing the Seven of Cups and wondering why the heck we're not getting the message. Kristen, of Over the Moon Oracle Cards, is a bit of genius and has crafted a spread for figuring out what's going on with persistently recurring tarot cards. Phew! The spread is interpreted like a letter from the Seven of Cups to all of us. You can see a full explanation of the spread in Kristen's original post. Shall we try it out?

From the Small Spells Tarot by Rachel Howe

Bloody hell, that's a lot of Majors. The Seven of Cups is clearly not fooling around! 

Dear loyal readers of the Weather Report,

When I show up in your readings, I'm giving you a message about recalibrating and starting over (The Fool). I'm showing you that you're getting stuck because you're looking at things in the wrong way (The Hanged Man) and I want you to try to grow out of those old assumptions so you can approach this new beginning with a little more maturity and self-awareness (The World). When I appear, I'm asking you to release your knee-jerk desire to cling onto old beliefs (Strength) and embrace what's actually happening in the real world, outside your head (Queen of Pentacles). When you see me, it's time to cut through your own BS and see things as they really are (King of Swords).


The Seven of Cups

Ok, does anyone else feel a little schooled by that?! Ok, just me. Ouch! Clearly, the distractions and fantasies described by the Seven of Cups are born out of erroneous assumptions and attachments to old narratives. It's time to put those old tales to rest and allow ourselves to see things in a new and truer way. Less fantasy, more reality.

So, next time the Seven of Cups makes an appearance, ask yourself what story you're telling. Does it truly reflect what's in front of you? Chances are, it needs a revision! 

How do you feel about the Seven of Cups? And do you have a tarot card stalker right now? I want to hear all about it! Leave me a note below or come and share your tale on Twitter

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10 Questions Every Tarot Reader Should Answer

Well, it's been a little while, hasn't it? I took an unofficial break from blogging for most of this month, so if you've been wondering what's become of me, I apologise! Perhaps I'll write about what's been occupying me (or, even better, my terrible, chronic procrastination) at a later date. For now, though, let's ease back into it with a little tarot talk!

Oh - before we kick off, a bit of exciting news! The Small Spells Tarot, by the inimitable Rachel Howe, is now in stock! You can pick up your copy here. Expect to see more of this unique deck in weeks to come. 

A reading from the archive, featuring The Starchild Tarot

Dana of Lavender Moon first brought this questionnaire to my attention a couple of months ago, and I've been wanting to tackle it ever since. There are so many kinds of readers in the world, especially now that tarot's popularity is growing so quickly, so it's more important than ever for us readers to speak up about what who we are and what we do with the cards. If you've been wondering whether I'm the reader for you, I hope my answers to these questions illuminate that for you!

1. Were you mentored or self-taught?

A little of both. For the first year or so that I read cards, I worked on my own, reading as much as I could online and in books (which make great mentors!), and reading for myself and friends so I could make my own associations with the cards. I reached a point where I felt like I needed more support in my learning, so I took Biddy Tarot's Tarot Circle Live course, which I have to credit with helping me recognise that I could trust what I was seeing in the cards. I don't think that course exists anymore, which is a shame because it helped me build so much confidence in myself as a reader. I later went on to do Tarot Foundations 1 and 2 with Brigit, and although I was already reading professionally at that point, those classes really helped me to cement my grasp on the fundamentals.

Over the years I've done a few other classes and collected a reasonably sized library of books and decks, but I think the magic lies in synthesising what one learns from mentors and books with what one discerns from one's own experiments with the cards. By which I mean, do a class by all means, but don't forget to also play with the cards for the sake of your own curiosity. You don't need permission to read. Your own experience and inquiry can teach you so much!

2. Are you a psychic or a tarot reader?

I most definitely fall into the latter category. I'm certainly intuitive, but psychic? That describes an entirely different field to the one that I operate in. My true skill lies in being a reader of signs and symbols and stories, a skill that has been honed as much in my academic background as it has in my tarot study. When I read cards, I do open myself up to intuitive hunches, but what I'm working with is the story that's on the table in front of me, not in information I receive from anywhere else. Perhaps the lady doth protest too much, but I think reading well is an equally magical skill!

3. Are your predictions accurate, and is accuracy important to you? 

There are two things I want to bring up in answer to this question. Firstly, my style of reading is not predictive, although it is oracular. By which I mean there is a magical process at work when I am discerning meaning about your life from the cards I've drawn, but my focus in comprehending that meaning is rooted in the present rather than the future. In my own life I've found it's far more useful to look at what's going on right now than it is to worry about what might happen later. So, my readings will necessarily be focused on the information you need and the action you can take in the present, rather than hard and fast predictions about what's coming down the pipe. 

Because I don't make predictions, accuracy is not important to me; however, resonance is. It's always my goal to create a reading that strikes a chord in the querent, that presents a version of the story that harmonises with who the querent is and what they know to be true. That's not to say that my readings will always give you what you want to hear (if only tarot worked that way!), but I hope that a reading with me will offer something that feels true to you, even if it is surprising or challenging.

4. Is there anything you can't predict in a reading?

Since I don't read for predictions, I guess the answer to this is technically everything! While I don't wish to pass judgement on those who offer or those who seek predictions, it's my personal belief that the best thing we can do for our wellbeing is learn how to be comfortable with uncertainty (and hey, it's not like I have that all figured out or anything, when I reach enlightenment I'll be sure to let y'all know). When I read cards for a client or friend or myself, it's my aim to help the querent open up to what's happening right now, in the present. We often lose sight of the present because we're so fixated on trying to pin down the future, but the present is where the magic happens! The present is where we have agency. It's where we can begin to create the future, whether we get the outcome we desire or not. 

5. Do you use only tarot or are you multidisciplinary?

Tarot is pretty much always my drug of choice! I will occasionally throw in an oracle card or two, but generally my readings are entirely tarot-based. You could say that tarot in itself is multidisciplinary, since its structure and history incorporate numerology, hermetic philosophy, magical practice, astrology, kabbalah, and so on, but I only draw on these systems as they relate to the cards on the table. I do have a dream of one day becoming more knowledgeable about astrology, but I haven't found the right time to pursue that - yet!

6. Is the message in the cards or in your head?

This is an interesting question, and I've been chewing over it for a couple of days now. My answer may change, subject to further rumination, but I think where I stand now is to say, both. We need both story (cards) and storyteller (mind) equally to make sense of a tarot reading. I tend to see the cards as the tools we use to excavate the message from the mind. They help to illuminate and elucidate messages that we can't access or understand on our own, even if those messages do ultimately come from within us. 

7. Are you a priest or a fortune teller?

I don't identify with either of these monikers, really, but if I had to choose, I suppose I would be a priest. Although it can have purely worldly applications, tarot is a spiritual activity for me, and a reading with me is a kind of ritual pause, an opportunity to step out of the flow of everyday life and take a look around. I approach the cards like a ritual and an opportunity to connect with my community, which I think could both be considered priestly activities!

8. Are you a fixer or a looker?

A little of both! Part of the value of a tarot reading is the chance to pause and take a look around. It's also always my goal to make sure that the querent retains their sense of agency - I might offer some advice, but the decision about whether and how to apply it should always stay in the querent's hands, so in that sense I'm a looker. What you do with the information I offer is always going to be entirely up to you!

But, then again, there's not so much point taking a look at what's going on if you're not able to do anything with what you see! I don't think it's enough to take a look, and then send the querent on their merry way. A tarot reading is a great opportunity to strategise and make an action plan, so why not take that opportunity? Whether I'm reading for myself or someone else, I always include cards for suggested courses of action or advice.

9. Do you read for free or for a fee?

One on one, I read for a fee, from big, detailed readings at the more expensive end of the spectrum, to short and speedy readings if you're on a budget. You can find all my personalised, paid offerings here. I also offer a free daily reading for my community, the Weather Report, which you can find on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, depending on your fancy!

10. Is there anything you won't predict in a reading?

I've already covered my feelings about predictions in question four, but it's important to add that there are some topics I don't feel comfortable reading on - for example, medical and health questions, legal and financial matters, and anything that might infringe the privacy of a third party (which is to say, if you want to know whether your ex is coming back, it's my advice to save your money and go ask them!). 

As ever, I welcome any questions about my tarot work - leave me a comment or drop me a line if your curiosity is getting the better of you! And hey, if you've got a pressing problem or a tricky dilemma and you want some cards thrown, you can book a reading with me here

Further Reading, August 2016

Happy new season! Happy new month! Happy new moon! Happy... Mercury retrograde? Maybe I'm going to eat my hat on this one, but I don't think Mercury Rx needs to be so tough. Let's petition for a little looseness, a little flexibility, a little go-with-the-flow-ness, even when it doesn't feel like there's much flow to be had. We can do this! 

Before I share my picks for good reading from the past month, I wanted to share a spread for this new moon in Virgo. The reading I did for myself (pictured above, with the delightful Circo Tarot) was certainly illuminating, so I hope you might find this spread to be so, too. 

Tarot Spread for the New Moon in Virgo

Card 1: Where am I standing at the beginning of this new lunar month?

Card 2: What do I need to release in the month ahead?

Card 3: What steps can I take in order to do this?

Card 4: What new energies and opportunities are available to me now?

Card 5: How can I best embrace this newness and bring it to fruition?

Card 6: A mantra for courage and comfort in the month ahead.

Now, to the reading!

Around Here

August was a little quiet on the blog. Partial disclosure, I've had some stuff going on. When one isn't in the right headspace to write, though, one is grateful to be able to count on one's visitors for entertainment, and I wasn't short of that this month. Animator and tarot creator Laura Douglass stopped by to talk about her forthcoming deck, Tarot in Space! If you're a bit of a nerd with a taste for retro futurism this deck is going to be right up your alley, so please do consider supporting Laura's Indiegogo campaign if you're able!

On the Bookshelf

I didn't get much writing done in August, but lordy, did I ever read. A few choice selections - 

The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin - one of that excellent variety books that's sort of travel, sort of lit crit, sort of memoir, sort of something else. Just the kind of non-fiction I like from one of my favourite writers and tarot readers. P. S., if you don't already receive Jessa's tarot newsletter, I very much recommend signing yourself up!

One of my bookshop colleagues gave me a pretty firm recommendation for Sarah Schulman's Gentrification of the Mind, and after finding it cited in one of my other recently beloved books, I thought I better pick it up. Schulman's searing and rageful accounting of the parallel gentrifications of the history of AIDS, queer culture and literature, and the city of New York is challenging and thought-provoking and in places, hard to take on. Schulman repeatedly dares the reader to drop their gaze away from truth and trauma. Not for the faint of heart, but then, who has the right to be faint hearted over such things?

If something a little lighter is more your cup of tea, Laura Ruby's gorgeous magic realist YA novel, Bone Gap, was a gift of pure light this month. I delight in a plot that defies my attempts to describe it, and it's so rare to find a novel that has me flipping back to page one upon finishing to start all over again. You could also try A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, the charming first novel in a trilogy about four parallel, magical Londons. 

A couple of new tarot decks also popped onto my radar in August. Fast favourite The Circo Tarot (pictured above) arrived, and it was love at first shuffle. This deck is now available to order from the artist. I highly recommend it!

My Kickstarter copy of The Wanderer's Tarot also landed on my doorstep - just yesterday, in fact, so we haven't had much time to get acquainted. It'll happen, though!

The Best of Elsewhere

It wouldn't be Mercury retrograde without... incessant talking about Mercury retrograde? We all have our own ways of using this celestially wacky time so I won't labour the point, but here's a good'un from Moon+Quartz about how we might set intentions under this Virgo new moon, while Mercury does his thing.

Northern Lights Witch wrote so beautifully about her evolving relationship with tarot, inspired by the writer Jhumpa Lahiri's lifelong passion for learning Italian. I love the idea that deepening any knowledge, skill, or practice is not so much about closing the gap between what is known and what is not yet known as it is about finding ever new ways to exist in that space in between.

This post from Stacy about finally being one's witchy self really resonated with me. It may not be the right time for everyone to feel safe coming out of the broom closet, but there truly is nothing like even a small amount of free and regular spiritual expression. Living in accordance with one's weirdness is truly where it's at!

I tend to resist suggestions for prompts and structure in my journaling, but this method of vision journaling looks like it could work a treat for planning all sorts of things (thanks to Jeanna of Girlboss Woo for sharing this gem in her excellent newsletter).

Thorn of The Tarot Skeptic always tackles the big questions - this time, Is Tarot Necessarily Spiritual?

Austin Kleon's weekly link roundup always yields something excellent, and this post about taking time daily at your bliss station was a recent standout. I'm definitely aspiring to make either a little time or a little space in my life for creative incubation.

Uh oh, looks like I owe Austin yet more thanks for filling my August with good reading (seriously, subscribe to his thing!). Here's George Saunders on exalted states

Carrie Mallon knocks it out of the park, as usual, with these reminders of what's really important


Ok folks, that's what I've been reading and loving. How about you? Leave me a recommendation in the comments or come and share your picks on Twitter!

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