Introducing the Minimalist Oracle: An Interview with Rachel Lieberman

by Marianne in ,

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

by Marianne in

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

by Marianne in

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

by Marianne in ,

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

by Marianne in , ,

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

Tarot Goes Galactic! An Interview with Tarot in Space! Creator Laura Douglass

by Marianne in ,

Today on the blog, we've got a visitor from outer space! Animator and artist Laura Douglass comes to us from another dimension via Savannah, GA, to talk about her forthcoming tarot deck, Tarot in Space. You can support the creation of this geeky awesome deck by sharing and backing Laura's Indiegogo campain. Now, from the interstellar traveller herself!

UPDATE: I'm so happy to say that Laura's crowdfunding campaign was a success, and Tarot in Space is now out in the world. Happily, it's also in stock here at Two Sides Tarot! You can pick up your copy in the shop

Hi Laura! Tell us a bit about yourself - as an artist, a tarot reader and creator, a human person, etc.

Hello! I’m a student of animation with an interest in spirituality and teaching. My primary goal is to empower and inspire people, to raise them to their highest vibrational level. I hope to accomplish this through accessible and fun art, animation, and writing. Humor and story telling are my favorite tools to use, people may remember stories well but they remember funny stories even better! I hope to attract people to meditation, deep thought, and raised awareness through characters and stories.

Creating a tarot deck from scratch is no mean undertaking - how did you find yourself inspired to create the Tarot in Space deck? What has the process of making the art and creating the deck been like so far?

My good friend and mentor Dame Darcy created her own Mermaid Tarot Deck in just 3 weeks so I thought, hey, can’t be that hard? Well here I am one year later eating those bitter, bitter words. Darcy is a maniac in the best of ways, because, holy hierophants! I can’t even imagine having done this in 3 weeks. It might have been easier if I didn’t have to take three 3 month long breaks over the year in order to focus on classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). As for process, well I basically replaced my blood with caffeine on my off days and chained myself to a table in my favorite local cafe, Foxy Loxy for hours at a time. It’s all kind of a blur.

Looking at the deck itself, what can we expect to see from the Tarot in Space deck? 

Alright here we go. This is Rider-Waite-Smith meets Futurama meets the Jetsons meets She-Ra meets Hitchhiker’s Guide meets Steven Universe with a heavy sprinkling of my own brand of stardust. The main difference is that you’ll see recurring characters with names throughout this deck. Characters that you’ll get to know in depth and explore in different ways the more you use the deck. They bring a whole other level of story and meaning to the cards, when you’re connected to the character in the card you feel the emotion of the card and the subtleties more. This is why I’m writing up a pretty extensive booklet that goes along with the deck. So many stories to tell!

What kind of experience do you hope readers might have when working with the Tarot in Space deck? Any pro tips or advice to offer to users of this deck?

This deck wants to show you things, to help you look at your life through a different lens. Every card is eager to speak with you and has something to share. Though there is a good helping of mystery in the deck it really is an open door, simply open up to it and allow tradition to go out the window for a moment and you can explore so many new things! Pro tip (I do this with every new deck I get, honestly) look through the deck and find the card that really hits you hard. That one card that speaks to you. This is going to be your card. Whenever you are representing yourself in a reading find this card, it’s your compass. It’s you and what you have learned and what you will learn. It’s your soul card! And don’t worry, soul cards can always change over time as you change.

How can we help Tarot in Space come to life?

Ah yes, the call to action! Alright, so, as you now know I am a poor college student with two part time jobs and still no money (there’s this weird adult thing called rent and bills and I’m not sure I’m okay with it). Printing and shipping these puppies is going to get expensive. Like, thousands of packs of Ramen expensive. So I’m running the campaign in order to give everyone a chance to get a deck at base cost. No profit, no nothing. I’m literally just covering the cost of the deck and shipping it out to everyone who pre-orders! Any left over money (from people who donate but don’t get a full deck) will be spent on a small stock of decks that I will sell after the campaign ends for $42 (the answer to life, the universe, and everything). I never drew this to make money, I just really want everyone to enjoy it. I would give it away if I could afford to haha! Maybe someday I will :)

If you can’t buy a deck please do share the campaign with everyone you can. The more people who see it the more I can afford to purchase! I would so appreciate Facebook shares, twitter, Tumblr, whatever you can do to get the word out would mean a world of good for the deck <3


Thanks so much for stopping by, Laura! You can find out more about Laura's work at her website, YoutubeInstagram, and Tumblr.

Good news! Tarot is Space made it into print and is now available right here at Two Sides Tarot. Grab your copy here

Making Friends with the Golden Thread Tarot

by Marianne in

There are so many fun things about running a tarot shop, but one of the things I love the most is the act of curation. I love thinking about the decks I carry hanging out together in my online shop, progeny of some of the best tarot and oracle creators in the biz rubbing virtual shoulders in my little corner of the internet. It fills me with major warm fuzzies! 

Major warm fuzzies is probably the only way to describe how pleased I was to pick up a nice full box of Tina Gong's Golden Thread Tarot earlier this week. I've been playing with the accompanying app for a while now, and the physical deck has been on my personal and professional wish list for what feels like eons. What can I say, I'm a sucker for gold foiling!

After so much anticipation, I'm happy to say that this gorgeous shiny thing more than lives up to my great expectations. The design is beautiful, and I love that it brings such a clean, modern, golden vibe to the traditional Rider Waite Smith deck. I love the stylised figures, the strong lines, and the goldness. Did I mention the goldness? The card stock could be a little thicker for my taste, but the foiling really makes up the lushness quotient and this lighter stock does shuffle like a dream. Sigh. People, it's love! 

A new deck means introductions are required, which means, of course, a deck interview! Let's see what the Golden Thread Tarot has to say for itself, shall we? This deck interview spread is, as ever, from Little Red Tarot

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

To put it simply, the Golden Thread Tarot has abundant chill! This deck is poised, powerful, and not one to lose its cool, no matter the seriousness of the question. When I see the Strength card, I think of safe containers, calm places where rages and confusions can exhaust themselves without doing any damage, a steady hand to guide a stumbling seeker through the dark. It seems this deck is ready to hold safe and sacred space for any and all manner of inquiries.

What are your strengths as a deck? Ace of Pentacles

More than anything, the Ace of Pentacles says this deck's strengths lie in how grounded it is. Maybe it's all the gold, but the Golden Thread Tarot is great for earthing elusive and vague inquiries, taking the wispy and ephemeral and turning it into something comprehensible and concrete. 

I also associate the suit of Pentacles with the practical, making-ish aspects of creative work, and y'all know creativity is one of my favourite topics to read on. With the Ace of this productive suit landing here as a strength, it seems this deck will also be good for tapping into creative potential and supporting the process of getting projects off the ground. Excellent news!

What are your limits as a deck? Five of Cups

This deck really loves to focus on the powerful, transformative stuff, perhaps to the point of being a little over-serious! This is the right place to come for healing and shadow work, as well as those big creative projects, but it's probably not the right deck to ask pithy, playful questions. Ask it where your lost car keys are and it'll probably tell you that you always lose things because of your dysfunctional childhood. Be ready for it to go straight to the heavy stuff!

What are you here to teach me? Five of Swords

Speaking of heavy stuff, this deck is super keen to confront and explore shadows, to get to the root of wounds and disappointments, to help us overcome limiting blocks and habits. I often see the Five of Swords as being related to ego, to a need to assert or receive validation of the superficial self at the expense of true growth. When it comes to that sort of behaviour (and we're all guilty, from time to time!), the Golden Thread Tarot is going to call us all out. It may not always feel comfortable, but grappling with these challenging aspects of the self will prove to be invaluable. 

How can I best learn from and collaborate with you? Eight of Wands

Dive in, don't wait! We've already seen that this deck isn't one to beat around the bush, and the Eight of Wands confirms that the best way to work with it is to plunge right in. Get straight to the tricky questions! Embrace spiritual and creative dilemmas. Ask the true question, the one that rises up before your conscious mind can edit it for politeness and safety. Get to it!

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship? Nine of Cups

Oooh! Who doesn't love to see the wish fulfilment card appear as the potential outcome? All that confronting Five of Swords work promises to pay off, if we're diligent with it. When the Nine of Cups appears, all we need to do is set an intention. What result do you want from this working relationship? It seems the Golden Thread Tarot is ready and willing to help you get there!


Time to make like the Eight of Wands and dive right in! You can see more of this beautiful deck in my daily Weather Report. Snap up your own copy of The Golden Thread Tarot here. As usual, I ship anywhere and everywhere, and shipping within Australia is free! 

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Further Reading, July 2016

by Marianne in

It's that time again - time for this month's reading roundup. I've been devouring books and music this month, as well as interviewing some amazing deck creators and inviting new versions of old favourites into the shop. Here's what I loved in July!

Around Here

I was so honoured to share a forecast for Scorpio as part of Siobhan Renee's legendary collaborative Tarot Scopes. This project is so cool - not only do you an awesome scope every month, you get it in a new and different voice each time. It's such a wonderful little slice of our community! You can find forecasts for your signs this month here.

I wasn't able to blog as regularly as I would've liked this month, but I did manage to post the next instalment in my now very sporadic series on the Wooden Tarot, on the court cards from the suit of Plumes. Birds and arrows ahoy!

I was also blessed with two wonderful guests on the blog this month. Rebekah Erev kindly shared with us a little more about her Malakh Halevanah/Moon Angel cards, and I swear every word that comes from this wonderful, powerful priestess artist wizard is gold! You can find the Moon Angel cards in the shop here

Art Nouveau artist Matt Hughes also stopped by to talk about his hopefully forthcoming Ethereal Visions Tarot. The Kickstarter for this deck is in its final days and still needs a little nudge, so if you like pretty, pretty tarot decks, do consider backing it!

In shop news, the reversed edition of the Spirit Speak Tarot landed this month, and it. is. delicious. Y'all know I'm a big fan of the original, but folks, I may even like this version of it more. It's so dark and rich, fit to lose oneself in! If you're so inclined, you can read my interview from a few months ago with this deck's creator here.

On the Bookshelf

I read greedily in the month of July, so there are too many books to list in detail. The standout favourite was The Lonely City by Olivia Laing, one of those indefinable pieces of non-fiction that might be memoir, might be art history, might be cultural studies, but is actually all those things at once and more. This book felt like spiritual food so rich it almost hurts to eat it! 

A voice from beyond the veil might have whispered to me in a dream, for I now forget how Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner found its way onto my radar. I was even puzzled when I received a notification from my library that it was ready to collect, as I couldn't even recall being familiar with the title, but I'm so glad it has made its way into my life. Another gem from Virago's Modern Classics range, Lolly Willowes is a funny and biting novel about women's independence, life in the country, and, naturally, witchcraft. 

It's been a long time coming, but I finally picked up a copy of The Raven's Prophecy Tarot, by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm a huge fan of her books, and although I finished it months ago, thoughts of The Raven Cycle continue to destroy my heart on the daily, so I thought it fitting that it spread its tendrils into my tarot work, too. I'm still in two minds about whether I'll trim those orange borders off. We'll see!

I've also been listening to a lot of, of all things, Tori Amos. Every moment of my life from ages 16 to about 21 were soundtracked by her music, but she's not an artist I've needed much in the last decade or so. Until now, apparently! It's nice to be reminded that From the Choirgirl Hotel remains one of my most-beloved albums, even if I haven't heard it in years. 

The Best of Elsewhere

Perhaps because I've been greedily reading books, I haven't read all that much online this month. A few gems, though: 

It isn't new, but I return to this post about an amor fati approach to life and magic by Carolyn Elliott again and again. It's a long read, and each time I revisit something different piques my interest. 

This interview with the editor of the forthcoming Asian American Tarot. This looks like a really amazing project, representing Asian American experience and exploring mental health struggles and self-representation. You can back the Kickstarter for this deck here.

I've already shared my undying love for the Tarot del Fuego by Ricardo Cavolo, so no surprises, I'm loving seeing it pop up more and more in the community. Paloma's deck interview takes a look at what it's like to work with this weird and wonderful creation.

I really enjoyed Ten Questions Every Tarot Reader Must Answer over on Dana's blog, Lavender Moon. It really got me thinking about how I define myself as a reader, what's important, what isn't. Expect more on this in the future!

STOP THE PRESSES, this is amazing (and I haven't even tried it yet!). Jeanna of Girlboos Woo has, as usual, outdone herself with this tarot spread for content planning. Essential reading for all internet mystics, and on my weekend schedule to test out!

Ok, that's it for me this month. What have you been reading? You know I love a recommendation! Share yours in the comments, or come say hi on Twitter!

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Ethereal Visions: Explorations in Tarot and Art Nouveau with Matt Hughes

by Marianne in ,

If there's one thing I like as much as discovering new and interesting tarot decks, it's having tarot artists come and visit me on the blog and talk about their work, so today, I'm pretty stoked!

Artist Matt Hughes is undertaking to create the lush, Art Nouveau inspired Ethereal Visions Tarot, which looks - if I do say so myself - delicious

This deck is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and with just a week of the campaign to go, Matt is stopping by to share a little about his art practice, Art Nouveau, and how the tarot deck came about.

Hi Matt! Before we talk tarot, could you tell us a little bit about your artistic background and your work?

I hold a BFA but am a self-taught fine artist. For the past few decades I have been exploring various mediums and techniques focusing mainly on the work of artists from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Their methods for conveying the human form and emotion are fascinating and I feel this time period has showcased some of the most provocative exploration of the subject to date. I first began researching this time period using mixed mediums such as watercolor with colored pencil. My first art book from 2001 showcased this technique of mixed media. Then I began to explore traditional Oil painting techniques and focused on the works of artists such as John Singer Sargent, Herbert Draper and John William Waterhouse. This period of my research culminated into my second art book that came out in 2014. For the past few years I have been focused on refining my technique and have returned to mixed mediums in an effort to practice the methods used during the Art Nouveau movement of Europe. I feel every step that I have taken in the past has led me to this style and I am enjoying the pursuit!

Tell us about Art Nouveau - what is it about this unique style and philosophy that has captured your imagination?

The Art Nouveau movement was spawned from a need to express beauty to all walks of life in a way that moved art from the gallery into the home. Their approach of “art is beauty and beauty is art” is an important message for today’s world. From a personal artistic endeavor, I see their work ethic, craftsmanship, and approach to the limitations of the printing medium of that area to be an inspiration. In today’s digital world it has become far too easy for an artist to take the quick approach to art (especially those practicing Art Nouveau). The majority of Art Nouveau work that I see today is approached as novelty or a “disposable” form of art. Some artists do produce their work by hand but then bring the line work into the computer to colorize it.

If one were to look at the original works of the Art Nouveau artists of the past one would see mistakes, mistakes that make that piece of art personal and real. We have lost that to a degree. The approach to Art Nouveau today has become a sort of puzzle game in which commonly recognized elements of that movement (circles, arch ways, flowers, macaroni hair) are incorporated into standard poses in an effort to create Art Nouveau. I feel it is important for artists to recognize, much like the Symbolism movement or the Pre-Raphaelite movement, that these elements were used with purpose for the piece. For example – the archway behind most of Alphonse Mucha’s figures represents the Female or the Divine. The wings or feathers so common in Mucha’s work represented enlightenment or spiritual connection. Then add to this the basic elements of design used in Art Nouveau (mainly the 3 to 5 ratio and the desire to convey nature’s balanced perfection in all aspects) and you can quickly see that Art Nouveau is far more than a simple seated figure covered in cloth sitting in front of an archway. It can be that if done correctly but it also has so much more potential that I am still in the process of learning. This is why I am so devoted to studying Art Nouveau.

How did you happen upon the notion to bring together tarot and Art Nouveau, and how have these two art forms informed and fed off each other during this creative process?

The catalyst for this project was my wife, Hope. For years she has been asking me to produce a tarot deck for her that was more artistic and original than what she was finding currently available. I listened but felt I was not ready to approach such a task as a full 78 card deck until I was more comfortable with a chosen technique. Then last year I began working more with inks and found a technique that I wanted to explore further. I tried a few tarot cards in this style and received a great response so I decided to explore it further with this Kickstarter campaign. The symbolism in the tarot cards lends itself perfectly to Art Nouveau. This is a journey for myself as well since I was unfamiliar with tarot cards prior to this campaign. Every card that I approach has to be researched and developed so that I stay as true as possible to the cards as the community understands them. The meanings of each are very helpful when developing the concepts. Thankfully my wife is helping with this exploration and is teaching me the meanings as we go.

Looking at the deck itself, what can we expect to see from the Ethereal Visions Tarot?

The ETHEREAL VISIONS TAROT DECK will be a full 78 card deck based off of the Rider-Waite deck and style. With my experience in the publishing industry I knew I wanted to do something more unique than a “print on demand” approach with the deck. Therefore, the cards will be high quality in every way – upgraded card stock with premium “snap” when shuffling, easy size for handling, larger text for readability, and finally gold foil stamping as opposed to gold ink or prism-paper. To be honest, finding a printer capable of handling this deck was a challenge in itself. Many printers wouldn’t even quote the job! But it was essential to me to produce a deck that I can be proud of years from now – not just in regards to the art but also the quality of the product.

The process for producing each card was originally a challenge but has now become second nature. Each card begins with a concept sketch that I then send to a small private group I have put together – an advisory board if you will. This group of tarot card enthusiasts give me pointers and catch any elements that are off or missing. Then I enlarge the sketch and begin work on the refined line drawing. Next I transfer the line drawing to the illustration board via carbon paper. Next comes the application of color with soft pastels and ink. Once that stage is complete I apply the 18 karat gold leafing to the design. Finally, I scan in the original, color correct it, clean up any issues and hand select out the gold leafing areas (this will be needed by the printer). Then I share with the community with my figures crossed!

I have been asked if this project will continue regardless of the success of the Kickstarter. Unfortunately, if the Kickstarter is unsuccessful I will have to move on to other projects. The time involved in such a project would not be possible if unfunded.


On that note, if Art Nouveau is up your alley, please do consider backing this project before Monday, 1st August, and helping to bring this beautiful deck into the world!

You can also find out more about Matt and his work at his website.

A Visit from the Moon Angels: Getting to Know the Malakh Halevanah Cards

by Marianne in

Every now and then, as I’m racing around this giant web of deliciousness that we call the internet, I stumble upon someone makes my brain go all, “WOAH. Hold up!” Interesting voices, interesting projects, diverse creators, badass babes… these are all things that grab my attention, and it’s safe to say that Rebekah Erev and her work are all of the above!

I came across Rebekah via a seriously awesome interview in Beth’s column over at Autostraddle (seriously, go read it!). Not only is Rebekah forging a path for inclusive spirituality as a Hebrew priestess and working her ass off as an artist and business owner, she has also created a beautiful and original tool for spiritual work, the Moon Angels/Malakh Halevanah card deck. Be still, my beating heart!

I’m so happy to say that Rebekah’s Moon Angels deck is now available in the Two Sides Tarot shop. As a thoughtful, beautiful, original, and practical tool for reflection and divination, it’s just the kind of thing I most love to champion and to share with my people – i.e., you!

Today on the blog, Rebekah is stopping by to tell us a little about her work and to share some ideas for working with the Moon Angels/Malakh Halevanah cards.

Before we start, Rebekah, tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a queer, Jewish, Hebrew Priestess and feminist artist. I work in a variety of materials and world including: object-making, ritual, performance and the written word. After giving a stab at teaching in the public schools I turned my life around and decided to pursue my calling as an artist and priestess. I currently make my home in the San Francisco Bay Area and I’m enrolled in a DIY MFA program that meets in libraries. (Tag line: I applied and I accepted myself.) I feel really lucky to live such a creative life.

In January 2015 I self-published the Moon Angel / Malakh Halevanah deck and book, a modern day spiritual tool, born of my interest in providing creative resources to shift cultural healing towards the expression of liberation in all its complexities. In 2013, I was ordained through the Kohenet Institute as a Hebrew Priestess. Under this title I officiate life cycle events including marrying people, doing ceremony for new born babies and mikvah (Jewish ritual immersion in water). I offer spiritual counselling including readings with my deck and public ritual.

What was your motivation for creating the Moon Angel / Malakh Halevanah cards?

My purpose in creating this deck was to make an accessible tool for creative inspiration and spiritual access. I think a lot of us in the modern world have looked to art as a divine inspiration where religion has failed us. For me, I need an easy, simple access into spirituality but it also needs to be substantial and speak genuinely to me. That’s what I hope this deck will be for people. I’ve drawn on the wisdom of my cultural background as a Jew and Hebrew priestess. Growing up my family was very assimilated. Art and writing have always been my personal, private access into the mysterious creative energies in the world. As an adult, integrating all of this has been an essential part of my life’s work. The deck was my first attempt at sharing that integration.

How do you suggest readers might work with the Moon Angels cards?

I always suggest people use the deck intuitively in ways that feel right for them. I’ve had people buy the deck and frame it and hang it on the wall. That’s lovely! I’ve also heard some gorgeous interpretations of the numbers and images that I could have never imagined. That’s how the deck becomes really personalized and takes on a life of its own.

One of my favourite ways to use the deck is to ask it a question if I’m undecided. So I’ll ask: What will be the outcome if I choose option #1? And then, What will be the outcome if I choose option #2? I’ll pick a card for each of the options and then reflect. Sometimes the answers can be quite revealing. Sometimes I get the message that either option is great. Like Oprah says, “There are no mistakes.” Phew!

Another great way to use the deck is to pull one in the morning to reference throughout your day. I always start off my day picking a card, meditating on it and placing it on my altar. I love seeing how it shows up or gives me lessons throughout the day. On my website I also give suggestions for how to use the cards with the moon’s turning. I find in general, the cards have been a reminder to look at the moon more frequently. With a greater awareness of the moon’s cycle, I get more aligned with my own emotional states.

It’s been this life-changing lesson of embracing all of my feelings. The cards are inspired by a teaching in Judaism that when you have a feeling, it’s an angel visiting. I’m forever coming back to this non-patriarchal embrace of feelings. I see the recognition and embrace of feelings as vulnerable. I truly believe this vulnerability is a source of strength and something we can lean back in. That’s the feminist agenda I want to get behind.

Rebekah also offers suggestions for working with the cards in sync with the cycles of the moon -

"On the new moon: Reflect on the past moon cycle. What are things you would like to let go of? Pick a card to elucidate what needs release. Sit with that. Take a moment to reflect on what you would like to bring in and focus on in the coming moon cycle, as the moon becomes bigger. What do you want to grow bigger in your life? What do you want to get started on? Pick a card for that intention. On the full moon: What big dreams do you have? What would you like to manifest? What needs to be closed in order for something else to begin? Pick a card to guide that intention. Make a wish! Put the card under your pillow. This is a turning point, a chance to move things in a new direction. However you use the cards, they were made to open up the sweetness of the moon’s turning. Their sometimes-audacious learning isn’t meant to obscure the mystery of life but instead enliven its complexity in your heart, and move you closer to its most authentic desires.

On the full moon: What big dreams do you have? What would you like to manifest? What needs to be closed in order for something else to begin? Pick a card to guide that intention. Make a wish! Put the card under your pillow. This is a turning point, a chance to move things in a new direction.

However you use the cards, they were made to open up the sweetness of the moon’s turning. Their sometimes-audacious learning isn’t meant to obscure the mystery of life but instead enliven its complexity in your heart, and move you closer to its most authentic desires."

Thanks so much for stopping by, Rebekah, and sharing a little about the Moon Angel / Malakh Halevanah deck!


You can find more of Rebekah's work at her website, where readers in the US can also pick up a copy of the Moon Angel / Malakh Halevanah deck, and on Instagram and TwitterThe deck is also, happily, available from yours truly, here. I ship everywhere, and shipping within Australia is free! 

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Working with The Wooden Tarot: The Suit of Plumes Court

by Marianne in

In this instalment of my series on The Wooden Tarot, I'm getting acquainted with the Suit of Plumes court. So far, we've seen that this suit signifies its element, Air, and its key themes, momentum, communication, the intellect, and just a little danger, with feathered things - birds and arrows. Let's see how these play out in the court cards.

I must say, I find the court cards in this deck particularly challenging, because my identification skills are not great! Although I have some ideas, I don't immediately recognise the birds in this court and so I had to do a little digging before their significance could fall into place. As well as being an exercise for the intuition, this deck is also very educational! 

I will posit that the fellow on the Page of Plumes is a sparrow. This light little bird is a great choice for the light touch of the Page of Plumes. This card is traditionally associated with nascent ideas, whispers of inspiration that sneak in on the breeze, looking for a mind that will grab hold and run with them. It's so clever that the artist has included the birds in flight in the background, as they give the sense of air in motion, which is quite strongly linked to the windy Page of Swords in the Rider-Waite deck. The breeze brings breakthroughs, new perspectives, and the youthful and eager Page encourages us to be inspired by them. Pages are, of course, usually associated with youthfulness, play, the idea of beginnings, and the philosophy of "beginner's mind". Here we have a caterpillar, a creature in its juvenile stage, learning what it can about the world before it takes that knowledge, and shapes itself into a mature form. 

The image of the caterpillar leads us naturally into the Knight of Plumes, where our humble green friend has transformed into a butterfly. Clearly, the line between these two cards is one of growth and maturity. The ideas that whispered on the wind in the Page of Plumes have been grounded and transformed by conscious action into real, measurable things. The Knight of Plumes is depicted as a great egret, a fish-stalking, solo hunting, water bird. The great egret, like many herons, catches its prey with a rapid swipe of the bill, a quick-fire manoeuvre  very apt for a speed- and movement-loving Knight. Where the Page of Plumes rests atop two arrows, the Knight grasps an arrow in its beak, which suggests to me that this card demands a proactive approach, that we take our situation in hand, and shape it according to our vision and intention. And quickly! 


The Queen of Plumes is depicted as a Victoria crowned pigeon. A cursory read of available online resources about the attributes and behaviour of this beautiful and unusual bird didn't immediately put me in mind of this Queen, but knowing how meticulously this deck has been constructed, there's bound to be a connection (and if you can discern it, do let me know in the comments below!). I suppose the most obvious link is the fact that this bird is rather rare and elegant, a good aesthetic fit for the Queen of Plumes. This species is also known for its strange and resonant call - perhaps a fitting feature of the Queen of the suit of communication and transmission? Whatever the connection, I do think she very accurately conjures the vibe of the cool and remote Queen of Swords. This Queen certainly seems ready to give zero fucks and look great while she's doing it, which is definitely an approach I associate with the Queen of Swords!

The Queen of Plumes' correspondences can be further found in those outward-facing crescent moons. Their placement puts me in mind of the symbol for the triple goddess, signifying this Queen's multifaceted feminine power. Outward facing moons, as well as the full moon in the background, may also suggest the idea of receptivity and intuition, qualities traditionally associated with the feminine (if you want to get all binary, which I know not everyone does!). The notion of power is reinforced by the arrowhead, suspended between the crescent moons - a tool that the Queen presumably has no qualms wielding when the situation calls for it! 

Heading in the opposite direction, the King of Plumes is the yin to the Queen's yang. The sun in the background is the day to the Queen's night. These cards actually put me in mind of The High Priestess/Magician opposition that we find in the Major Arcana - on the one hand, we have the watery light of the moon, the intuition and subconscious, and on the other, the fiery, outward-looking power of the sun. I'm not entirely sure if the inwardly facing moons are an established masculine symbol, but when placed side by side with the Queen's open and receptive lunar feelers, I have to wonder if the moons on the King's card are intended to signify the other side of the binary, whether that is masculine/feminine, receptive/active, yin/yang, and so on. Certainly, the King's upright arrow does seem obviously *ahem* manly! 

The King himself appears as some variety of vulture, a bird with interesting associations. Being a consumer of carrion, vultures are associated with death, decay, inevitable demise. This King isn't the most uplifting fellow! He is resourceful though, and not one to let a good lunch go to waste! This King is always ready to make the most reasonable and practical decision, never one to be swayed by emotions or sentimentality. That can be threatening for some of us, but there will always been times when a King of Plumes approach is needed. 

A final note - all the cards of this court have a visible third eye, reminding us of the importance of insight and clear-mindedness. This suit may not be as strongly associated with intuition as, say, the suit of Blooms, but the airy suit of Plumes does put us in mind of vision and clarity, so a piercing, triple-eyed gaze is appropriate!

And that's all she wrote for the suit of Plumes. As I've said in the past, these musings aren't intended to be exhaustive or definitive card meanings but rather, a collection of my own impressions on this strange and marvellous deck. I'd love to know what your thoughts are on these cards! If the spirit moves you, please do share your impressions in the comments!

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Further Reading, June 2016

by Marianne in

Do I begin every monthly reading post by loudly exclaiming about how quickly the time is going? Probably. I'll spare you today, except to say, umm, it's the second of July. How did that happen? Ok, now I've exorcised that little tic, onwards with some good stuff to feed curious and contemplative minds!

This month's reading-related things: fiery tarot decks, Moon Angels, and a candle that allegedly smells like John Steinbeck (then, I assume, not now. Ick.).

Around Here

I kicked off the month on the blog with a little love letter to one of my favourite cards, The Wheel of Fortune. Thrills! Spills! Mud in yo' grill! What more could you want from a tarot card?

We're a couple of weeks out from the Solstice now, but you may still feel like indulging in a little mid-year inspired tarot. Here are my ruminations on the Solstice, with tarot spreads for Winter and Summer

And in case you were curious, my (current) top five tarot decks to take when stuck on a desert island.

Also - EXCITING! - Rebekah Erev's Moon Angels/Malakh Halevanah cards have landed in the shop! I'm so happy to be stocking this beautiful deck, and you can bet your boots that there'll be more of it on the blog very soon. As usual, I ship worldwide and shipping within Australia is free!

On the Bookshelf

To be honest, I still have a pretty heady Raven King hangover from last month, so although I read a bunch of books in June, there isn't anything I really want to shout from the rooftops about. You know when a book just gets into your blood, and nothing else can hope to move your cold, dead heart in its wake? Yeah, that. Thanks, Maggie Stiefvater!

In book related news, some dark witch on Twitter (you know who you are!) convinced me to rejoin Goodreads after several years' absence. If you're so inclined, come over and show me your books! Look at my books! Be my friend! 

In card reading news, I picked up a copy of the Tarot del Fuego for my personal collection, and it is SO. GREAT. It just pushes so many of my freaky weird buttons. If you have freaky weird buttons, too, you might like it!

The Best of Elsewhere

Foolishly, I failed to save up any of the great blog posts I read this month, so instead of a link roundup, I'm going to tell you all about the radical genius magicians who light up my inbox. I don't even need to go chasing blog posts, because these wonderful people come to me! These are some of my current favourite email lists to be on - if you're looking for inspiration, look no further!

Austin Kleon's Weekly Newsletter always delivers the goods, whether on creativity, art, music, education, or just generally interesting internet tidbits. It's like a jumper cable for your brain!

I swear by Rob Brezsny's wacky weekly horoscopes. They're always filled with good advice, couched in a wink, a nudge, and delicious references to art, mythology, and popular culture. He's like a kindly zen master, delivering essential wisdom under the guise of riddles and quips, and I invariably revisit his words throughout the week.

For interesting reflections on making stuff and selling it on the internet, Paul Jarvis' Sunday Dispatches are not to be beat. I find a lot of writing about entrepreneurship pretty cringy, but Paul Jarvis is so obviously just a real dude doing real things that your bullshit metre won't be tickled!

Speaking of no bullshit, good advice for spiritual entrepreneurs, I love Girlboss Woo's newsletter. What makes Jeanna's missives so great is that they always make me pause and ask questions - about my goals, my business, my customers, my mystical mojo, all of the above. Expect to be rendered challenged and curious! Just read this awesome list of business lessons from Queen Bey and head to the bottom to sign up! 

I sincerely hope everyone reading this is already subscribed to Briana Saussy's Lunar Letters, and if you aren't, why the heck not?! Always exquisitely written, and definitely channelled from beyond the hedgerow, Bri's emails are a treat. Bonus, you can find past editions on her website - I recommend the recent 10 Teachings I Learned from Fairy Tales.

There's a special place in my heart for the deeply amazing work to be found over at Siobhan's Mirror. Seriously, is #faceuptarot not the future of this art form?! Siobhan's radical tarot emails are rich with ideas and reflections and breathtakingly innovative ways to work with the cards. Also, monthly tarotscopes. What's not to like?

I always relish receiving an email from Carolyn Elliott of WITCH, because to be perfectly honest, they're always a little bit wicked. Carolyn writes about the craft and spiritual living with just a glimmer of something-something in her eye, and her fresh perspective piques my interest every time. 

It wouldn't be a reading roundup without mention of one of my favourite corners of the tarot web, Little Red Tarot. Beth's newsletter is always packed with amazing content, because her site is packed with amazing content. I've found this to be the best way to keep up with all the wonderful writers contributing to Little Red Tarot, plus, I love hearing about life and adventures from the boss lady herself! If you've been thinking about joining the wonderful Alternative Tarot Network, email subscribers are notified when registrations periodically open up.

Jessa Crispin's Reading the Tarot mailings are always opened with eagerness, mostly because I love her writing. There's zero fluff here, just cool and thoughtful reflection on the cards through the lens of the reader's experiences. Superb! Also, subscribers get 15% off readings in her shop.

It's news to nobody that Theresa Reed's website is jam packed with awesome, useful stuff, so it should come as no surprise that her emails are overflowing with bounty. Everyone's favourite Tarot Lady seems to pack more hours into the day than Beyonce (she obviously read Jeanna's post!), so her email list is indispensable if you want to keep up with all the blog posts, e-guides, workshops, books, astrology forecasts, interviews, affirmations, and tarot exercises that this wonder woman creates!


There you have it folks, the shining stars of my inbox! Now, lay it on me - who you do love receiving email from? Leave me a recommendation below or come share your picks on Twitter!

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Turning Inward - Approaching the Winter Solstice (and a Tarot Spread!)

by Marianne in

It's almost that time again, the mid-point of the Wheel, that long, dark night of Winter Solstice. I've written a bit over the past six months about my flailing relationship with the Wheel of the Year (including my last post, where I basically threw my hands up and decided to forget cross-quarter days altogether, and probably equinoxes, too, in favour of other, more personal, celebrations), so if you've been following along, you'll know that this hasn't always been a joyful or meaningful process for me.

Solstices, though, I get. I feel them in my waters and bones and brain. Perhaps I'm just a creature of extremes, struggling with the subtleties of the cross-quarters but able to jump right in to the big, blunt fact of the longest day or night of the year. Whatever the reason, I'm ready to throw myself into this Solstice season - and a season is what I'm making of it.

For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, the dark is tugging at our edges, and what passes for cold in Australia is driving us indoors, under blankets real and imagined. 

Not everyone is a fan of the lack of light, the chill, the pull towards solitude and quiet, but whatever your feelings about such things, if you decide to engage with them, they can be useful. This is the perfect time to explore shadows, to dive into deep and strange dreams, to spend uninterrupted hours in reflection, to examine the rich varieties of darknesses within and without, and what they might mean. In addition, astrologically, with both Neptune and Saturn currently retrograde, we're in a good place to examine our dreams and beliefs and the structures we rely on, the truths that sit on the surface of our lives. 

For my own part, I'm ready to turn my attention inward. After a few weeks of abandoning any structured spiritual practice in favour of less intentional (but often equally fun) pursuits, I'm feeling the need to rebalance my scales with some inner work. In a stroke of good timing, the schedules of some my loved ones have necessitated an open stretch of solitary time for me in the coming weeks, which I intend to use for secret and interior activities. 

After the Solstice passes, we'll be turning back toward the sun, and summer will be here before we know it. Until then, though, let's use this dark, quiet time to dive deep, to get weird, to explore and heal and question and excavate! If you need a little support with getting started, here is a short tarot spread to help you figure out how to productively work with this Solstice's inwardly-directed energy. 

My Winter Solstice reading, using the Tarot del Fuego by Ricardo Cavolo. Seems apropos to use a fiery tarot at this dark time, since we're at the pivot point before we turn back towards the sun!

Turning Within: A Winter Solstice Tarot Spread

Card 1: CONTEXT: What part of my life or self would benefit from receiving the inwardly directed energy of this season?

Card 2: ACTION: What steps can I take to put this inwardly directed energy to use in this part of my life or my self?

CARD 3: REFLECTION: During this time of introspection, where are my opportunities for learning and integration?

CARD 4: SELF CARE: How can I nourish and care for myself as I undertake the inwardly-focused work of this season?

You may have noticed that this spread is sort of a dark-night analogue of the spread I shared for Summer Solstice - and you would be right! Fundamentally, what we're asking stays the same, but the focus shifts to reflect the inner, instead of the outer, and rest and integration instead of growth and expansion.

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, partying in the sunshine, you might enjoy taking a moment to try out my Summer Solstice spread.

How are you celebrating your season, whatever it might be? If you try out one of these Solstice readings, I'd love to know about it! Drop me a line in the comments, or pop over to Twitter and let me know how you got on!

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My Five Desert Island Tarot Decks

by Marianne in

If you spend a little time in the tarot community on youtube, you may already be familiar with the gauntlet that Kelly Bear recently threw down before those of us with healthy (i.e., large and ever-growing) tarot collections. Kelly challenged her viewers to name the five decks they would use if they could only work with five decks for one year.

Although I don't have youtube channel, I just couldn't resist answering the question. You may notice, though, that although I said "recently" above, the date on that video is actually March 24th. This lil' post has been languishing in my drafts for that long because this question is TOUGH, y'all! The struggle is real. 

I'm no stranger to tarot deck overwhelm. I have a big collection, and even though my working decks only form a small proportion of that collection, I often feel like my attention is spread too thinly. This is particularly true now that I have decks in my shop, as I try to give a little airtime to all the tarot and oracle decks I carry in the store. Of course, having the means to build a large collection of tarot decks is hardly something to complain about, and I am gratefully that I'm able to pursue my passion in this way. Sometimes, though, all these deck options can feel like a double-edged sword.

Periodically, I think about using a single deck for all my work for one month... and then I break out in a cold sweat and try to pretend I never had the thought. Different decks serve different purposes, and each deck brings its own unique sensibility to a reading. Not to mention, at different phases of one's life - even different seasons - some decks feel more resonant than others. Decks that I thought essential to my tarot practice two years ago now don't speak to me at all. Decks that I thought would never ring my bell (like the Sakki Sakki Tarot) are now at the top of my reading rotation. 

Having said all of that,  it's a hypothetical question, so calm the heck down! But it does seem valuable to ask the question - what is essential to me in a tarot deck? Even if it's just at this moment that the answer resonates. What do I need out of a deck? And out of a group of decks, what sensibilities and styles would I want to capture? 

Ok, quit stalling. If I were going into tropical exile for a while, which decks would I choose to take with me?


1. The Spirit Speak by Mary Elizabeth Evans

Regular readers won't be surprised to see the Spirit Speak tarot at the top of my list. It's one of my favourites - deeply intuitive, deceptively simple, supportive, clever, clear to read with, and its images have a kind of bendable quality that really encourages personal interpretations. Something about the stark, symbolic style of the deck allows me, as a reader, to be more receptive. I like having those blanks to intuitively fill in!

(By the by, the pictured second edition of the Spirit Speak Tarot is on the way out, but Beth over at Little Red Tarot still has some copies in stock!)

2. Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot

It wouldn't be a desert island exile without the mermaids! Once again, if you're a regular around these parts, you'll know how I feel about Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot. It sticks quite closely to the symbolism of the Rider-Waite-Smith, but with sailors and mermaids and hot, seaside babes of indeterminate genders. It reminds me of the riot grrrl zines I loved as a teenager, so fresh and raw and beautiful. If any of that makes it sound like it's not a practical deck to work with, don't be fooled - these mermaids read well! And hey, if anyone is going to help me get back to civilisation (and the rest of my tarot collection), it'll be these seasoned sailors.

3. The Sakki Sakki Tarot by Monica Clio Sakki

I mentioned above that the Sakki Sakki Tarot was a slow grower for me. When I first became aware of it a few years back I was immediately certain it wasn't for me, but when our paths crossed more recently, something about it just clicked. Perhaps it's the emphasis on creative practice (this deck includes an additional trump, The Artist), which is increasingly what I use tarot for in my own life, or perhaps my taste has just lightened up, but I love this playful, colourful, and sometimes-abstract tarot deck. It has a kind and slightly silly vibe, and always gives supportive and practical readings. Definitely essential for lightening the mood when one's desert island exile is getting one down!

4. The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans

At this point, The Wild Unknown Tarot doesn't require much of an introduction. It's one of my workhorse decks, ready to take on any and all types of queries, treading a perfect balance between the practical and the esoteric. I use it for clients and for myself, and thus far haven't read for anyone who didn't respond to its nature-inspired images. Somehow, The Wild Unknown never seems to run out of juice! Handy if we're spending a year together, trapped on an island.

5. The Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi and Kwon Shina

The Dreaming Way Tarot is an old favourite of mine. In fact, it was one of the first decks I bought back when I started getting serious about tarot, and unlike some of the decks I've worked with over the years, the shine has never worn off. Like The Wild Unknown, it's a workhorse deck that reads well under practically all circumstances. Perhaps there won't be wifi on my desert island so I may not be doing many client readings, but this is one of the decks I use most frequently when reading professionally because it's very accessible, even to the casual user. And don't get me started on the outfits! With this as my inspiration, I'll be carving out a fine silhouette in my Ariel-style sail canvas island attire.

I ummed and ahhed over this list for weeks, knowing that whatever five decks I decided upon would be subject to change at a moment's notice! Who knows what five decks I'd deem essential in a week, a month, year?

For now, though, these are my picks. What are your five desert island tarot decks? I'd love to know! As ever, leave me a comment below or come and give me the lowdown on Twitter.

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A Love Letter to The Wheel of Fortune

by Marianne in

The Wheel of Fortune popped up as today's Weather Report, so it's on my mind today. In many ways, this card is always on my mind - it's my year card for 2016, so it bubbles away in the back of my consciousness at all times (by the way, if you wish you can find out how to calculate your card for 2016 here). 

The Wheel of Fortune from Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot, Second Edition.

I never used to like this card much. It used to feel like a dark card to me, risky, chancy, a portent of potential mess and chaos that no amount of planning or good intentions might avert. Sure, it governs good fortune as well as bad, but I've never been much of a gambler, and I feared any mechanism that might detract even as it was adding. 

I wish I could point to the moment when my relationship with the Wheel changed. Actually, I don't think it was a moment so much as a slow unravelling. Perhaps a credit to my spiritual practice, as I confront and unpick my need to know, to influence, to control, to have certainty of any kind. Perhaps it's a result of exposure, as the more I work with the cards, the more their nuances reveal themselves, their darks and lights flushed with a whole spectrum of grey. Maybe I'm just getting more chill, or a little wilder, in my old age. Whatever the cause, I'm grateful to feel less anxious, less desperate need to dictate the outcome.

These days, when I see the Wheel come up in a reading or in life, I feel a rippling thrill deep in my insides. It's a little flash of temptation, of warning. A reminder that anything can - and probably will - happen. It's a risk, a dare. That used to scare the pants off me, but these days, I'm suddenly inclined to chase that chancy, spinning feeling. 

Spinning is, after all, what the Wheel is all about. Cycles, seasons, twists and turns. Sweeps and cranks of fortune and luck. The Wheel tells us that things are motion, and we can't always know which way that momentum is going to take us. Perhaps we'll rise up, get a grand view of the landscape from the top, or perhaps we'll get a face full of dirt, squashed beneath the turning.

The Wheel is a rogue, a renegade, who gives zero fucks about pandering or pleasing. It challenges so many problematic paradigms in the current popular, Western, spiritual model. It is, frankly, a big middle finger to phrases like, "Do what you love and the money will follow", and to much of the law of attraction lite philosophy that gets thrown around in inspirational quotes on social media. You can do what you love, but you might never make a living out of it. You can try to raise your vibration, but it doesn't guarantee you'll get that job or find fairytale romance. This card is a challenge to entitlement, an honest and thus destabilising, anarchic force. 

The Wheel reminds us of the fundamental truth that no matter how well and how intentionally you live your life, you will probably face loss, confusion, existential doubt, illness, abandonment, and death. You will probably also experience love, curiosity, deep satisfaction, revelation, belonging, and untold physical, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures, whether you deserve them or not. The Wheel cares not for promises, compromises, worthiness, prayers, or pleading. It treats all outcomes as neutral, and possible. 

So, what do you do with that? What can you do, when circumstances and possibilities spin out of your sphere of influence? As I see it now, there are only two options when the Wheel appears. You can tap out, resist, petition your chosen deities, stay in bed and wait for it - whatever it is - to be over. Or, you can climb aboard the spinning carnival ride and try to laugh it up if you happen you puke your guts out (your chosen deities will probably be laughing along with you). Who knows, you might manage to keep your lunch down and have a good time. And even if you spew, it won't be too long before it makes good story. When it's over, all we can do is remind ourselves of this basic truth, and try to find the fortitude to get back on the ride. 

The Wheel says, climb aboard, take a risk, surrender control, accept the outcome. Or don't. Your call!

How do you relate to the Wheel of Fortune? I'm a little obsessed with this card, so I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment or come over and chat on Twitter!

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Further Reading, May 2016

by Marianne in

What a busy month May has been! I've been pouring love and energy and care into life here at Two Sides Tarot this month. With the release of the much-anticipated new Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck, and the arrival of the Sacred Symbols deck in the shop, I've had many new toys to play with and so much great stuff to share with you folks!

All of that, coupled with a busy time at my other job and what was, to be honest, a bit of a tough Mercury retrograde, has meant I didn't read as much as I ordinarily would. These are this month's diamonds in the rough!


First, Around Here

This month, I released my first free ebook! Oh, happy day! Journaling the Major Arcana is a guide to personal exploration through the cards of the Major Arcana. All you need to explore these journal prompts is a human psyche and a little curiosity, so they are suited to both tarot beginners and advanced readers. Download your copy here!

May saw two esteemed visitors to the blog - I just love having guests! Ashley of Story by Tarot came by to talk shop, and I interviewed Marcella Kroll about her creation (and my current favourite oracle), the Sacred Symbols Deck.

I also threw my hands up in frustration about traditional Sabbats, and decided to go off-grid with my own Wheel of the Year. Why not!

On the Bookshelf

I've already ranted and raved about this on my social media, but this month marked the release of the last book in one of my favourite fantasy series, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. My bookshop boss kindly brought me a signed copy of The Raven King back from BEA, and I gobbled it up like the rich and delicious soul food it is, and now I'm reeling! I have a Raven hangover, and it feels so good. 

Anyone feel like a snack? May also marked the release of Chronicle Books' delightfully silly Food Fortunes deck. This deck comes with minimal explanatory notes, so you've got all the scope in the world to divine with your favourite foods. Yes, it turns out you can use quinoa as a metaphor for productivity!

Ok, it's not technically reading, but this month I've been compulsively revisiting Jason Isbell's 2013 album, Southeastern. It's an enduring favourite of mine, having been the backing track for many a kitchen sink singalong. Highly recommended if you're of the folk/bluegrass/touch of Southern rock persuasion!

The Best of Elsewhere

I LOVED this article by Kate Kiefer Lee about opening up the narrative of entrepreneurship and the myths we attach to about "following your bliss" and finding a calling. A validating read for multipotentialites and those of us who have a day job and aren't ashamed of it!

Actually, speaking of multipotentialites, I have Beth to thank for introducing me to, an incredible resource for people who have a zillion and one passions and interests, and want to make space in their life for all of them. I definitely relate! shared a great interview with Mary Elizabeth Evans, creator of the Spirit Speak Tarot. I could read about Mary's art and process for days! (You can find my interview with Mary here).

That's it for me this month. What have you been reading and loving? Leave me a recommendation in the comments, or come and share your love on Twitter!

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Readers in Profile: Ashley of Story By Tarot

by Marianne in ,

Welcome to the latest instalment of my series, Readers in Profile! In this series, I talk shop with some of my favourite tarot readers about their origin stories, approaches to the cards, and their pro tips for fellow readers and professionals.

Today, my visitor is Ashley McElyea, from Story by Tarot. Welcome, Ashley!

First,  tell us a little bit about yourself as a tarot reader and a human person.

Thank you so much for having me! My name is Ashley and I am a tarot reader + tarot writer over on Story By Tarot.

As a human person, I am a queer witch, wild introvert, coffee drinker, and book addict. And if I am being completely honest, a Netflix binger, currently binging Leverage and Ghost Whisperer. As a magically inclined person who dabbles in astrology, I also claim being a Scorpio Sun, Libra Moon, and Aries Rising. I love being a home-body, unless I need to take a road trip. I love doing nothing but reading or writing, unless I need to do yoga or an intense work out. I literally feel like a walking contradiction most of the time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a tarot reader, I am honestly of two minds. I love the traditional, “here are what the cards say about potential circumstances” and “here is what you can do” approach. Just super straight forward (but with my own flair) and use it as a preparation of what is to come. But I also love using the cards in a non-traditional way for myself, using the cards for writing prompts, journal prompts, or as a storyboard. Nothing serious, but more creative. 

What is your tarot origin story?

Ooh, yes! I love origin stories! Here’s the quick and dirty version:

I picked up my first deck in January 2015. So a little over a year ago. I have not been reading long, but it feels like I have read forever. I picked up my Rider Waite deck at Earth Bound Trading Company and the day after was referred to Beth Maiden’s Alternative Tarot Course. And I have been reading ever since.

On a personal note:

I grew up in a super religious household and all my natural inclinations to the occult, the witchy, and the woo were basically squashed so I wouldn’t go to hell. So cards like The Devil and Judgement come with a very religious overtone that I have spent a lot of time deconstructing in order to become the reader I want to be. It’s a process, but I’m getting there.

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?

In my day to day activities, I pull a card (or five) every day. I like to get a sense of where my energies are and how the day can be best spent.

In terms of learning, I find that each new deck brings its own learning style. For example, the Hidden Realm tarot was my second deck and I connected with it immediately. So much so, that I rarely need to read the guidebook. Each person comes alive as I lay them out in a spread and they craft their own story, all I have to do is write it. On the flip side of that, my recent tarot deck The Hermetic Tarot, is like learning all over again. It’s filled with symbols, mythology, astrology, and occult goodness. I really am taking my time with this one and feel like I’m starting over. I absolutely love it. When it comes to tarot, I never want to stop learning.

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

I use it in almost every spiritual practice that I use. I have a chakra deck for when I’m tapping into my energies to see what is happening. I have a few decks for shadow work (I typically don’t use these for other people’s readings). I also have an astrology deck for when I am studying current star and planet patterns. And I have several decks that I use for creative writing.

If you read professionally, are there any pro tips or insights you’ve picked up along the way that you’d like to share? If you’re not offering professional readings (or even if you are!) we’d love to know, what killer piece of wisdom have you picked up along the way that has transformed your tarot journey?

Oh, I do not consider myself a professional reader just yet, but I have done several readings. And side note: I am working on opening a shop, but I do $5 and $10 flash sale readings on my social media sites whenever I am inspired to do so until I open the shop.

But this one piece of wisdom, I can absolutely share!

Don’t sling the cards when you aren’t feeling well. I think this is so essential and readers can forget to take this into account. If you’re sick, if you’re upset, if you’re tired, you need to be resting. Don’t take on more clients, tell current clients you will follow up when you are feeling better. You need to take care of yourself first, otherwise you will be no help to anyone else.

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

Oh goodness, I would have to have my Rider Waite Coleman Smith deck. It was my first deck and when I can’t figure anything out, that is the deck I turn to. I would also take my Tarot of the Hidden realm so I could continue to craft stories. That deck is just filled with so much magical energy for storytelling. Hmmm, definitely the Arcana of Astrology so I could stay connected to the sky. The stars really teach us so much and I would be so sad if I couldn’t find a way to connect. And my last two would be the Deviant Moon and Green Witch tarot, both of them to represent my two “sides” : shadow magic and nature magic.

Finally, where can we find you?

You can find me on my website Story By Tarot. There I post spreads for tarot writing, personal magic posts, fellow readers stories about their favorite cards (Stories By Tarot – I’m always looking for submissions!), and currently I am running a series called A Retelling – my take on “difficult” cards that I craft into new stories. As far as social media, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you so much for having me on, Marianne! I look forward to finding more readers via this series! Thank you for creating it. ☺


I hope you enjoyed hearing from Ashley as much as I did. And I have to second her piece of extremely sage advice - if you're not feeling up to it, put those cards away and take a break!

What's your number one piece of life-saving tarot advice? Let me know in the comments, or share it on Twitter!

Personalising the Wheel of the Year

by Marianne in

The title of this post should probably have been, "Whoops, what happened to Samhain?", as weeks have gone by and I've failed to write about it. I know what happened to Samhain - it fell on the 30th of April for us in the Southern Hemisphere. Despite knowing it was coming, I couldn't really get in the mood. On the day, I lit a black candle for my dead, said their names, read some poems aloud and meditated, and that was that. It didn't feel like a dark and intuitive time, the veil didn't appear to lift, and most people I mentioned "Australian Halloween" to looked at me with great bewilderment.


My lunchtime view on day of writing, under an unseasonably warm Autumn sun.

Last year, just before the Summer Solstice, I set about a blog project in which I intended to catalogue my experiences of working with the Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year. We're not quite halfway through, but I think the results have been a little lacklustre. To put it bluntly, I am struggling to make any meaningful connections, particularly to the cross-quarter days. I've griped about all of this before, so I won't bore you today, but I will say that I've discovered that imposing a European, nature-based system of Sabbats upon my life - even when corrected for Hemisphere - is just not working. I'm uninspired by this project!

So, what to do? In short, I'm going rogue.

I'm devising my own calendar of celebrations and sabbats, subject to constant change, evolution, and experimentation. I'll keep the Solstices, and maybe the Equinoxes, and to that, I propose adding a few days of my own, days on which I can celebrate the luminaries who inspire me, or remind myself of energies that I seek to cultivate. I'm beginning to suspect that I'm a chaote at heart!

Pamela Colman-Smith's Birthday, 16th February.

A day to celebrate the craft and community that Pixie was so instrumental in creating.

David Hockney's Birthday, July 9th.

A celebration of colour and creativity, a reminder that art transforms the way we see.

Mary Oliver's Birthday, September 10th.

A reminder to be in awe of the natural world and the written word.

The World Series, Late October.

Because baseball is holy. May the goddess have mercy upon the Giants this year!

Our Lady of Guadalupe's Feast Day, December 12th.

A celebration of the goddess, with a tip of the hat to my Catholic roots, and both of my wicked Catholic grandmothers.

No doubt, as I play with this, there will be days added and removed, and rituals invented, cemented, and discarded. I suspect the main problem I will encounter with this system will be lack of community, but let's face it, I couldn't get anyone to celebrate Australian Halloween with me so this won't be much different! At heart, anyway, I am a solitary practitioner. 

Want to play?

If you, too, have been struggling to connect with traditional pagan celebrations, I encourage you to join me! Perhaps you'd like to add Talk Like a Pirate Day to your spiritual calendar, or to bake a cake for Martha Stewart's birthday? Consider who or what makes the turning of your world a little more joyful, and celebrate it with a ritual, a festival, a feast of your own devising.

A final note, before I go off to make my new calendar. It is not my intention to trivialise the traditional Wheel of the Year or disrespect those who follow it. Just as those who observe the Sabbats find deep meaning in doing so, I seek to find my own, personal meaning in the passing of the year. Let's respectfully do our own thing, side by side!

On that note, do let me know - what do you celebrate throughout the year? Are there any unorthodox or invented festivals or observances in your calendar? Any suggestions for dynamite spiritual holidays or rituals?

Leave me a comment below or come say hi on Twitter!

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Exploring Sacred Symbols: An Interview with Marcella Kroll

by Marianne in

Today, I'm SUPER JAZZED (that's right, ALL CAPS SUPER JAZZED) to have a fabulous new guest on the blog and a fabulous new deck in the shop!

Marcella Kroll's Sacred Symbols oracle deck only recently popped onto my radar, but as soon as I saw it, it was as though a lightning bolt had struck some deep, dark part of my brain. The cards are deceptively simple, and the symbols they depict are so resonant, it's evident from only a glance how powerful they are! Diving in to the cards is for another day, though - a full review to come. Today, we're going back to the beginning and chatting to their creator, Marcella Kroll, about her work with the deck and beyond! 

Marcella Kroll Sacred Symbols

Photo by Diana Zalucky, for the Modern Mystics Project.

Hi Marcella, thanks so much for stopping by! By now, I think we know that you’re here because I’ve fallen head over heels in love with your Sacred Symbols oracle deck, but before we talk about that, could you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and what sort of work you do?

Hey! Thank you so much, I’m so happy you dig them. My full-time profession is my Spiritual Healing Practice. I’m a professional Empathic Medium, Metaphysical teacher, host of the podcast Saved by the Spell, and Artist. 

 I’d love to know, what’s the story of the Sacred Symbols deck – where did the inspiration come from, what is your intention for it, and what was your process of bringing it into being? 

Over the years, I have kept sketch pads, and journals of random symbols that I have encountered during sessions I have had personally, and have given. Several years back I attempted to create a tarot deck. It was so much work and kept running into blocks when trying to draw or paint. It never flowed. After a series of gypsy caravan style, moving all of my belongings across Southern California, the Southwest, and Northern California I found myself back in Los Angeles. When I finally stood still long enough I just started painting these symbols in my notebooks.

The process of bringing it into being was certainly a channeled one. Once I started drawing and painting I didn’t stop. I should also mention I didn’t have a computer or tablet at the time, just my iPhone 3. So I did all my editing in apps. Yes apps. HA! From start to finish of writing the booklet, it took a total of 40 days to complete. Then with the help of a generous backer and graphic design friend the first pressing was created.

Once the cards were printed it was important to me to really give them a personal touch. So with each pressing I create a grid with crystals, sacred objects, and other tools with the cards in the center. On the coinciding New or Full Moon I charge the cards within this sacred space, reiki charge, anoint, and smudge each deck with the highest intention of their purpose. 

How does your own oracle deck fit into the broader context of the work you do? Do you integrate the deck into any of the services you offer, whether readings, or your work with ceremony, shamanism, healing circles, teaching, your podcast, and so on? 

I use this oracle deck more than I ever imagined, and not just because I created it. In combination with Tarot, in workshops, healing circles, personal ritual, and daily reflection. I feel like they continue to shift and change how I use them weekly. 

Backtracking a little, could you share with us a little about your artistic background, and how that has informed and influenced the way you envisioned and created your deck?

I am a high school drop out. I was fortunate to grow up in a city (Providence, RI) where the arts were encouraged and supported. Immediately ushering me into a professional (i.e.: getting paid) artistic career. My early twenties I was professionally represented and selling illustrations, and silkscreened posters by commission. I did some painting but my style was heavy on the illustrative side. I’ve never played by the rules of how you are supposed to create or go about having a career. I guess that’s how the cards came to being too. By just following my gut and going for it when my psychic channel opened me up to do it. 

As much as you feel comfortable sharing it, what roles do tarot and oracles have in your own spiritual practice, and how has working with your own art – both making the deck and reading with it – influenced and shaped your personal spiritual and creative journeys? 

For the first 27 years of my life, these two worlds (the psychic and the creative) were completely separate. I never imagined my spiritual work becoming ya know, my work. So marrying the two has been a feat in and of itself. They were different aspects of myself. Often the creative representing my Shadow, and the Spiritual repping my Light. To bring the two together in this way has shifted the idea of separatism on my path, and continuing to challenge my former beliefs that they couldn’t coexist. It’s often challenging but at the same time I thoroughly enjoy. I feel that it’s another aspect that I’m learning about to help others have the same kind of understanding of all their sides, to help find fulfilment in this lifetime.

Apart from your own inspired creation, are there any other decks you love to work with? Have they been an influence on your own deck creation process?

I currently love working with the Golden Dawn Tarot. Other cards I find influential and fascinating are the Medicine Cards, Thoth deck, Sacred Rebels, Tarot Nefetari, the Greenwood Tarot, and on and on and on…I could keep going really. 

 Finally, do you have any advice, guidance, or insider tips for working with the Sacred Symbols oracle? 

Treat the cards well and they will treat you well too. It’s really an energetic tool and relationship that can grow alongside of you. Also don’t be afraid to go outside the meaning of the booklet inside. The book of meanings is brief for this reason. So you can develop your own personal system. Also, allow yourself to have fun with them. 


As well as being the mastermind behind the Sacred Symbols deck, Marcella is an artist and spiritual healer, with an impressive resume that ranges from mediumship to shamanism, reiki to curanderismo. You can find out more about Marcella at her website, or follow her on instagram

And of course, if you're after some Sacred Symbols of your own, you can find it here, in the shop. Having been lovingly passed from Marcella to yours truly, I'm now so happy and honoured to be able to pass this powerful deck on to you!

As ever, I ship anywhere and everywhere (although customers in the US may find it speedier to purchase direct from Marcella, here), and shipping within Australia is free!

Thoughts on the Sacred Symbols Deck? I'd love to hear them! Leave me a comment below, or come and chat on Twitter.