Tarot Reflections

Anatomy of a Daily Tarot Draw

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

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

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

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

Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot Australia Queen of Cups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tarot Without Words

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

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

A very slippery fish from the beautiful Spolia Tarot

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

3 Ways To Make Your Tarot Readings Super Empowering

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

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

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

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

1 Tarot Reading Victoria Pickering.jpg

Image Source

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

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

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

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

1. Avoid the yes/no trap

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

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

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

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

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

2. Take a pro-active approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Decide how specific you want to be

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. You use tarot as a metaphor for literally everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

10 Questions Every Tarot Reader Should Answer

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

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

A reading from the archive, featuring The Starchild Tarot

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

1. Were you mentored or self-taught?

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

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

2. Are you a psychic or a tarot reader?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Are you a priest or a fortune teller?

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

8. Are you a fixer or a looker?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redeeming The Hierophant

Top: Dreaming Way Hierophant, Rider Waite Hierophant, Shadowscapes Hierophant. Bottom: Wildwood Ancestor, Aquarian Tarot Hierophant, Wooden Tarot Hierophant.

Top: Dreaming Way Hierophant, Rider Waite Hierophant, Shadowscapes Hierophant. Bottom: Wildwood Ancestor, Aquarian Tarot Hierophant, Wooden Tarot Hierophant.

Such a polarising card, The Hierophant. In fact, polarising could be the wrong word, since its opponents seem myriad and defenders very few! Almost universally disliked might be more appropriate. Stuffy, conservative, oppressively masculine, disciplinarian, tyrannical, overly traditional, restrictive, limiting... These are only a few of the charges often levelled at this card, and when we look at The Hierophant in its historical context, it's hard to disagree. 

Le Pape from the Pierre Madenie 1709 restored Tarot de Marseille

Le Pape from the Pierre Madenie 1709 restored Tarot de Marseille

The Hierophant in modern tarot grew from The Pope of the Marseille Tarot. It was Waite who threw off the overtly church-y title and made it the figure most of us know today, although even with a new name, the Rider Waite system still associates him with "the 'outer way' of church and dogma" (Pollack, 53). Unsurprisingly, this card's association with religious doctrine and Renaissance political power-playing doesn't do much to endear it to the modern reader! 

Apart from the creepy priest/oppressive father figure sort of vibe, The Hierophant signifies education (mean maths teacher?), conformity and orthodoxy (boring!), doctrine (stupid rules!), traditions (but wait, I'm an original thinker!), and patriarchy (don't even get me started). What's not to like, right?!

So, I get it. It can be an ugly pill to swallow, and one that feels like it's going to force itself down your throat whether you want it or not! It's tough to fly in the face of all that tradition (and indeed, would The Hierophant want us to?), but I think there's a possibility here to see the same old stuff from a new perspective. Beneath the papal undergarments, there are opportunities for us to connect with the divine, with our ancestors, and with a long tradition of wisdom that shouldn't be ignored. I'm calling for a Hierophant do-over!

The Direct Line

In the Catholic tradition, The Pope is God's representative here on earth, and in the modern tarot, The Hierophant isn't much different. He's the guy with all the answers, and the one who makes the rules. He's the direct line to the Big Cheese, a conduit for divine grace and wisdom down here on the earthly plane.

Most of us modern seekers, however, know that the Divine doesn't always call the boss's number. We don't need to go through an old guy in a tall hat to connect with god or spirit or the universe or whatever you want to call it. So in that sense, I can see that The Hierophant's privileged position as God's rep is a bit presumptuous and annoying. But! If you'll let me stretch that metaphor, sometimes we just can't summon up the right change for the holy pay phone.

What about those times when we feel cut off from the universe? To whom can we turn when that spirit part of ourselves feels remote, unreachable? Alone? The Magician might tell us to start a new creative project. The High Priestess to go into meditation. The Empress to bring it in for a hug. The Emperor to get back to work. But The Hierophant? He picks up the phone on our behalf and puts us back in touch. Having the numinous on speed dial is his superpower.

They're Called Traditions For a Reason

In practical terms, how does that work? There are a number of forms that lifeline to the cosmos might take, but ultimately, what The Hierophant offers is tradition. When you don't know how to call your power by its name, when you can't see past the separateness into the big everything, traditions and rituals are there for you. These practices, whatever they be in your school of thought, generally become traditions for a reason. I.e., because they work. 

There's no denying that some circumstances demand original, innovative thinking, and for that reason, we can all be glad that the deck contains such out-of-the-box thinkers as The Fool or the Page of Wands. Sometimes, though, conforming to a set of tried and tested prescriptions is just what the doctor ordered. 

Indeed, look at the tarot itself. Although it has undergone countless mutations in the last five hundred years, and countless more of those in the last thirty, the structure, the logic, the tarot-ness of the tarot prevails. We know the difference between an oracle deck, a deck of playing cards, and a tarot deck. Whatever the artwork or philosophy, something of the tarot's internal integrity - that Hierophant quality - remains unchanged. It is within the bounds of that rich tradition that we all get to play!

Your Personal Hierophant

Like all things tarot, the deepest connections come when traditional ideas are placed in personally meaningful contexts. Forget about oppressive old men in tall hats. I've focused on The Hierophant in some of the deck reviews I've done, and you'll see it takes many forms - nature gods, Turkish goddesses, and even sassy felines - which draw out the nuance of this card and its relationship to our spiritual lives. But, even in its most traditional, mitre-wearing incarnation, there are valuable and supportive energies available in The Hierophant. So, where is that energy in your life? 

Look to your teachers, mentors, gurus, sacred texts, predecessors, ancestors, priestesses. Call your grandma, if you can.  Ask, "What does this mean?" "What do I do now?" "I've made a huge mistake and I don't know how to fix it!" and let those tried and tested pathways be your guide. Much like calling your grandma, there's no guarantee you won't get a little tough love for your sins, but you'll get some good advice, too. That's the function of The Hierophant. 

So, how do you feel about this tricky fellow? Love it? Hate it? Don't mind it in the right circumstances? Share your thoughts in the comments!

GUEST POST: Resting In Your Centre - Exploring The Hermit's Wisdom (Part 2)

Yesterday, one of my favourite humans shared a spread she designed based on The Hermit card. See Part One of Resting in Your Centre here. This blog series is courtesy of tarot reader, poet, apprentice druid, copy editor and writer Janine Prince. Find out more about Janine at her website, or follow her on Twitter

Yesterday, I described how I was inspired to spend some time with The Hermit in these strange days after the Solstice. It's that funny time when we're compelled to notice how many months of the year have already flown by, and to wonder what happened to our intentions and plans for 2014. This spread asks us to take a little time out, to go out onto our spiritual mountainside, and to realign with our values, our hopes, and our intentions (you can find details of how I created this spread, and instructions for its execution in yesterday's guest post).

From the Crowley Thoth Tarot

From the Crowley Thoth Tarot

So how does this play out?

I did a reading for myself using the Thoth deck. Here's what I came up with.

In position One, The Hood,  I drew The Universe.
This happens a bit for me – I wasn’t too surprised to see this card. I can get caught up in the interconnectedness of things and the wonderful exhilarating everything dance of the cosmos. My boundaries are a bit loose. That’s fantastic for my sense of universal love and compassion and overall spiritual integrity but it can make practical things (like moving house) really awkward. So In this period, I need to draw my hood up against the swirling energies of union and work through my practical lists and plans. 

Position Two, the Lantern, Queen of Cups. 
You and I have never met, but I love you. We and I are part of this amazing world together and your pain, your history, your hopes and happiness, they resonate in a unique way through your life that nonetheless reinforces the deep truth that we are all one. You and I are the sisters and brothers and cousins. My life’s purpose is somehow to help you. Maybe I can make you laugh when your heart is dry or give you some light in a dark night. My guiding purpose is to manifest love, to learn how to solve problems from a position of love, to forgive those who inspire hate (include those dark parts of myself). To remember that humans live and thrive inside relationship even when we’re tired and even when we’re angry and pushing people away. That’s not always easy, but it is a light for me when I hit a difficulty. So at the moment, I am moving house and I feel very vulnerable about the change. I need to remember that love is available to me too as a resource and as a support. I can accept help, not just from family but also friends and even acquaintances and strangers. I need to create an opportunity for that to come in and *ask*. That light can flow both ways right now.

Position Three, The Staff, 2 Cups.
Love is my guide, as you will have picked up already from the previous two cards. What steadies me personally inside the maelstrom of living is the daily reality of being present in an intimate partnership. This wasn’t always the case and I am grateful every day for this opportunity. There have been some hard, and painful times earlier this year when I veered badly off course and this love held strong and steadied me. I have been very ill and wondered anything could get better. It did, and the courage to act on it each day came from this support. That reminds me, I’ll get some flowers and chocolates on the way home.

Position Four, The Legs, Death.
I laughed out loud when I turned this card over. My friend Death has been in every personal reading for the past 18 months or so, but you don’t know that, and I thought “That might spin people out a bit.”. The propulsion and motivation I have for moving house is that I was so very very stuck. I was in the rut of ruts. This October would have been 7 years in that position. You want stale energy - I was your poster child! So you can imagine that every single project and intention and activity leading up to the ability to make the decision (let alone undertake the move) required little deaths, I have died and died and I will die again soon. This series of external transformations has been liberating, terrifying and awakening. This card in this position is a very positive reinforcement for me that I am on track. Death has taught me how letting go of the right things can be a strength.

Position Five, The Mountains, Queen of Disks.
In my story I am indeed looking back over the barren past and seeing a long journey towards manifesting wealth of experience in the physical plane and learning how to nurture my body. This is a card of renewal and of fruitfulness. I love her sensual horns and her confident pose and in this position she gives me a sense that the deaths and the pain and the darkness have not been unnoticed. This journey is bringing me closer to mastery of this level. This Queen reinforces the message in the Hood too – the physical world takes physical skills and a physical engagement to effectively dealt with. A higher purpose and a greater calling still need one’s body to be fed and for the rent to be paid.

So there it is, a return to your centre via the surly old Hermit. If you like this or have any questions or comments, please let me know by either emailing me directly or through a comment here back to Two Sides. Please feel very welcome to link to this page too and share this reading if you find it useful, which I really hope that you do. My love to you.

Don't forget to catch up on yesterday's post about Returning to Centre with The Hermit. We'd love to hear your insights about The Hermit and your experiences with this spread. You are welcome to drop Janine a line or share your thoughts in the comments! 

GUEST POST: Resting In Your Centre - A Hermit Reading (Part 1)

Today's guest post is the generous contribution of one of my dearest friends and fellow spirit travelers, Janine Prince. Janine is a tarot reader, apprentice druid, poet, freelance copy editor and writer. Find out more about Janine at her website, or follow her on Twitter.

From the Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini

From the Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini

I find that the six weeks after each solstice can be awkward times. The culmination of the ‘event’ of the solstice is not a switch that turns things from one state to another (this is part of the insidious shift in our modern culture where we’ve let the idea of commoditised or oversized ‘experiences’ infest our expectations and swarm through our mental spaces). The true flow of the wheel of the year has a place for everything outside of that flow, so we experience periods of separation, listlessness, directionless, a maybe a bit of a lull. (Think about that odd time after boxing day, when you just seem to ….wait… for NYE.) Fallow times are important in a deep way, they’re the times that can lead us to the insights that turn our wheel to the next stage, the next level. Not always, maybe not directly, but there is value in isolation.

Early on in our journey, we each discover that we face many challenges alone. We are truly ‘islands in the stream. Although we have support, friends, networks for news and connection – we all face the occasional long dark night of the soul. It is a lonely night. It is good to remember that you have power in this time. You are in a part of your journey that is important in its own right.

Although you set intentions at the beginning of the year, you may be feeling that the year has gotten by you, you’ve been swept up in the general swirl of events and reacting to the unexpected. I sometimes feel that I’m so far off course that I’m a failure, and may as well just start from scratch again. If you can remember what your resolutions or goals for the year were but you wonder how you drifted from them, or if like me you remember that you kinda wrote them down somewhere but you might have to scrounge around to find them, then you know the state of mind we’re talking about. The days can zoom by but the sense of value or focus can be lacking. Am I just reacting to what is urgent rather than navigating by what is important? Good time for a check-in!

Of course the Tarot has many guides for us, and in this time I thought it would be useful to explore IX The Hermit. When I say “I thought it would be useful” what I mean is, “I asked the tarot what it thought would be a useful guide and Mr Hermit stepped forward.

From the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot

From the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot

This is a card I have come to value deeply and especially in these times of busy activity where I find myself questioning if I’m ‘on track’ with my bigger picture.  The Hermit reminds us that there can be a source of power in acknowledging that we’re alone on our own path – shouting out occasionally to fellow travelers – but primarily guided by our own light. In the immortal words of the American philosopher John Denver “Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.”

So we are going to access our Hermit and check-in on our search for inner fulfillment – however we’ve defined that for ourselves. The Hermit is also annoyingly willing to cast some light onto difficult and troublesome aspects of our shadow-selves and in the context of this check-in you may see some things playing out that you’d rather not see, or have been trying to dodge. 

Particularly if there are changes or habits that you have chosen to work on to move your life into a different shape, then you, my friend, will be experiencing all kinds of wobbly days and sometimes your shadows will be fighting hard for you to forget you ever had that intention! On the other hand, maybe you’ve already accomplished some major life projects out here in the year. If so, well done! That will have taken a huge amount of focus and energy. After you’ve celebrated, returning to centre will help you to send some energy back into the other areas of your life and regain balance in your new level.

I’ve designed this reading to use whatever you need to check in with as the base questions or theme. The Hermit himself is the model and source for the positions and meanings. The time frame here is roughly 3 to 6 weeks. This is a check-in, a light touch, not a deep analysis.


Review your intentions or resolutions for the year, or the plans/goals you’re feeling out of touch with. If you didn’t write/journal/draw/set to music them in the first place, now’s a perfect opportunity to do so. Reconnect to the powerful emotions and desires that stimulated the goals, and also the rational evaluation you went through to develop the plan and steps you put in place or have been working within. Honour the past you, who did the best job possible with what you knew at the time. Update and expand on these emotions and plans now if you want. You’re ready to draw the cards (use your own way).


1. The Hood – What in the world do I need to draw my hood up against and protect myself from?

2. The Lantern – What is my guiding light at this time for these activities?

3. The Staff – What steadies me and keeps me connected.

4. The Legs – What propels me, motivates me, what is the incentive in this time.

5. The Mountains – A view of attainment so far. Keep perspective, you’re in part of a big picture, you can take some reassurance form this position.

Tomorrow, Janine will share her own reading with this powerful and thoughtful spread. In the meantime, we hope you are inspired to spend some time meditating with The Hermit! We'd love to hear your insights about The Hermit card and your experiences with this spread. You can get in touch with Janine directly, or share with us in the comments!