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Strength as #8 in the Major Arcana

The interchangeability between Strength and Justice

The layers and depths that both novice and experienced readers can use within the Major Arcana, and all of the tarot for that matter, to deepen a reader is too much to explain in one blog post. One of the last episodes on the Tea & Tombstones went in depth on the interchanging nature between Strength and Justice in positions #8 and #11. Depending on the deck that you are using, these two may flipflop from other decks.

In that podcast episode, I explained why I think that Strength makes the most sense as #8. To demonstrate why I hold beliefs, I broke out my Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck (pictured above) to illustrate these points. As always, if you read in another or different way, I honor your relationship to your tarot practice, but these are some of the thoughts I have cultivated from reading tarot for 5+ years.

The 3 Horizontal Lines of the Tarot

We are going to be using this image a lot!

As you can see, once we lay out the Major Arcana starting with the Fool (card 0) as the head, and then line up the rest of the cards in numerical order from 1-21, we get 3 lines of 7. Many readers, myself included, place significance on the 3 lines. Some will place titles on these 3 lines such as: LIFE, DEATH, REBIRTH or EGO, UNCONSCIOUS, SUPEREGO.

I place the titles of CREATION, DESTRUCTION, EVOLUTION. Each of the first 7 cards speak to creation within ourselves. The second line is the destruction that we must go through in order to evolve. In the wild, when a species evolves to survive, they often must lose a characteristic, behavior, or facet of their DNA in order to go through that evolution.

I think that Strength makes sense as #8 because it begins the Destruction line. We need the Strength in order to move through the Destruction processes. We need to be able and willing to get honest, raw, and real about what needs to change so we can shift into higher alignment.

The cards that precede and follow Strength

So, we have our 3 lines of 7 and each line speaks to the Creation, Destruction, and eventual Evolution that will happen when we move through these cards. ** It should be said here, that in real life, we don’t often move through the Major Arcana in such a linear fashion. We bounce around, move forward and back, and skip cards as we jump into others. That is how life works**

Following our 3 lines of 7, it is helpful to see which cards would precede and follow Strength in the 8th position. The 7th card (last in our Creation line) is the Chariot. The Chariot invites us to take the sacred connection formed from the Lovers, and let that move us into even higher alignment and felt sensation with the world around us.

However, the Chariot is more of an initiatory card. The minute that we start to cultivate the energies from the Chariot is the moment that we have to leave it behind. The Chariot cannot go with us on our full evolutionary journey. It literally cannot carry us into some of the spaces that we need to be in.

That is one of our first destructions. The destruction of our assumptions, expectations, or beliefs that the Chariot can carry us through all we experience. Strength follows the Chariot to give us the Strength to step off, and let it go. After we do that, we get to the Hermit. The Hermit asks us to further expand on an unknown spectrum, confront all we are losing and about to lose. The Hermit asks us to see the light and the dark as equal teachers, because the lineage of both is where the Hermit resides. From that knowledge, we can collaborate with all the energies we experience with a sense of reverence. Strength comes before the Hermit to help us fortify ourselves to do the hard work that comes with the Hermit.

The 7 Columns of 3 Cards

I keep adding this picture so you don’t have to keep scrolling forward and back FYI

Another way to look at and read the Majors, once we understand the horizontal lines, is to begin to look at the 7 columns with the 3 cards. The column that has Strength as #8 also has the Magician (the first card of the Creation line) and the Devil begins our Evolution line. The Magician is the awakening of our personal magick with the magick found in every corner and crevice of this magnificent world. The Devil begins our Evolution line because we find both sovereignty and higher interconnection with Spirit. With the Devil, we literally find ourselves home and and in every corner that exists.

Each of these cards act as an initiation into the line we go through. We need the Magician to begin our creation because we need to awaken to our spirit and the Spirit of the world. We need Strength to cultivate the courage and will within our hearts to walk this path. We need the Devil to begin our Evolution by stripping away all that doesn’t serve so we can move into our wild reclamation.

One final note on the columns in relation to this deck and the idea of initiation. The Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck includes a specific herb for each of the cards. If you look at the 3 herbs that make up of the column of Strength as #8, you see that Magician is Sunflower and the Devil is Blackberry. Strength is garlic.

Each of these herbs provide healthy nourishment and key nutrients for the body. Sunflower seeds and oil have heart-healthy fats. Garlic has nutrients beneficial for the immune system. Blackberries have tons of vitamins, fiber, and anti-oxidants. If each of these cards initiate us into the line, it only makes sense that their herbal counterpart would be herbs that provide key health benefits.

What about Justice

I am not going to mention the associations that then place Justice as #11 because that would be a TON more information to go into. I will post about Justice as #11 at some point, but if you want to hear about Justice, I go into a deeper narrative on that same podcast episode. You can find that, and all my podcast episode, by clicking the link below.

THE TEA & TOMBSTONES PODCAST

I hope that this helps you in your readings and workings with the tarot. Keep howling wild one!

Ashlie

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4 tips to read tarot cards in weird positions in a spread

Reading the cards when they throw you for a loop

If you are like me, you prefer to use set spreads to read the cards, for you or others. This is because a set spread helps me align the narrative with the cards, and gives me a foundation for reading the cards honestly and clearly.

However, even in specific spreads with specific positions, there can be cards that come forward that throw you for a loop. I know because it has happened to me often.

So, what to do about this surprising card in this position that now has you asking more questions instead of providing clarity. Here are the ways that I read the cards that surprise me, or throw me for a loop.

1.) Focus on the spectrum of the card

The Sun from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot

Let’s use an example:

Let’s say you are doing a simple two-card reading with the spread positions WHAT TO FOCUS ON and WHAT TO RELEASE. For the WHAT TO RELEASE position you turn over the Sun. The Sun is always a welcome sight in any reading, so what to do when it is in this position? I mean, who wants to release the energies of the Sun card? Go to the spectrum of the Sun card.

It isn’t saying you need to release your luminous light. It isn’t a bad omen. The Sun card invites needed illumination, and nourishment to feed your wild spirit and the growth you working through. So, in this position (at least the way I would read it), is to say that you have gained what you needed from the Sun. You have been given the clarity and the nourishment. You have fed your wild appetite. The burial part of the spectrum of the Sun would be to stay in this energy now could merge into complacency, or a comfortability that is no longer serving you.

Simply put, what you are releasing is the inclination to stay. You have gained what you needed. You have the clarity, the resources, and the strength. At some point, comfortability confines you to a space you have outgrown, and your spirit is ready to go forward.

2.) Look to where the card resides within the deck

Let’s go back to our previous example. Another way to read the Sun from the position WHAT TO RELEASE is to look at where the Sun sits within the deck.

The Sun comes after the Moon, and before Judgment. The Moon invites us to call in our wild magick, the Sun gives it nourishment, and Judgment invites us to take that wild magick and move into a position of purpose and interconnection with the world, or the bigger picture.

So, in releasing the Sun (again, how I would read it), it is saying that your wild magick and wild reclamation are ready to align into your devotion to yourself, and your bigger purpose.

The Sun has given you everything you need to take your wild and beautiful spirit into a position that expands to cosmic reclamation and sacred devotion. There isn’t any bad omen in that, is there?

3.) Look to how the cards interact with each other

From the Hush Tarot

I hate to depart from the example of the Sun, but for this section I have to highlight a real moment that happened to me, because it speaks to this tip perfectly.

For a little backstory, a little over a year ago I was looking at potentially renting office space with another person to do in-persons readings. I knew the person, adore and admire her still, the office was intimate, and was in a location that I loved (downtown Littleton to be exact). This little hamlet was my stomping ground since I was little, and I thought the location was a sure sign that I should sign the contract and get the keys.

I left the meeting with a lot to think about. Much of it seemed great, but I was also dealing with a lot of personal changes that could affect my decision, and before I make any big decisions like this, I consult my cards. So, I sat down when I got home and pulled three cards. These were the positions

Card for renting office space / Card for not renting office space / and a card for myself between these two huge choices.

The card pulled for renting the office space was the Page of Pentacles (not a bad sign). The card pulled for not renting the office space was the Queen of Wands (again, not a bad sign), and the card that represented myself was Strength. Look at how the Strength card is looking clearly at the Queen of Wands.

I had my answer. The Strength card was literally directing her focus, and mine, to the option that would best direct me. The Strength card was also looking away from a card that may have provided a lot of opportunity and growth, and I needed the strength to let an opportunity like that go.

I didn’t take the office space, and moved a few months ago to Conifer. The drive would have been over an hour if I taken the office and was committed to a lease.

So, look at how the cards interact together, or don’t interact. This isn’t about forcing it either. They may not interact, but you have the previous tips to help if there is no interaction to be had. However, if you look close enough, many times you will find interactions that you initially didn’t catch.

4.) Look to the symbolism in the card image

Sun Card from the Ostara Tarot. Perhaps my favorite depiction of this card

The final tip is to look at the symbolism in the card. Symbols speak to the unconscious mind, create depth outside the rudimentary understanding of what the symbol is, and encourage a deeper narrative and connection to occur within us. Most decks are stacked full of symbols.

The beautiful thing about this is that symbols create a very personal dialog within us to help take the invitations of the card and work them into the fabric of our lives. This is also subjective. I don’t connect in any way with the traditional symbol of the baby or the sunflowers in traditional depictions of the Sun card. I do, however, connect deeply with the beautiful warrior in the Sun card from the Ostara tarot.

The symbol of the wings, the armor, the scepter all speak to me on an unconscious level that the Sun invites us to take all we have, use it promote more light, protect what is sacred, and journey to the places that need our light and our fight.

So, use the symbols to create connections that transcend the spread position. Use what you see to create an internal dialog that helps build the foundation for the card energies to move from surprising to clarifying.

Certain cards can throw us for a loop in reading, but these are the tips that I have found to really help for my personal and professional readings. May they do the same for you. Thanks for reading!

If you like the way I work with the tarot, and need some guidance, check out my Store and Services page to see the spreads I offer!

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Journaling is the Initiation

Journaling is the Initiation

Now that we have discussed the pull-reflex

the next step in making sure that your tarot readings are unbiased is journaling your initial thoughts, feelings, and responses to the cards.

There is no wrong way to do this. Seriously…….

The only wrong way to engage with the tarot is through not engaging. It is important, especially in making sure that you are giving yourself an unbiased reading, that you are taking notes or documenting the way you work and interact with you cards.

This doesn’t have to be some long poetic diatribe on each and every card. It can be a list, bullet points, pictures, connections to things like colors, songs, or memories.

Why is journaling the initiation?

Journaling is the initiation between you and the cards because it shows the natural and free-flowing thoughts and emotions that come through in that moment. It shows the nuance.

Each day that you engage with the tarot there is a difference in energy, and in connection. It may not be exactly “correct”, but as a tarot reader I believe that correctness should not come before perfection. That is why every reader, no matter how many books, courses, or workshops they attend will have those slight differences in their own interpretation and understanding of the cards.

If you journal in the morning, at night, during a moon ritual, return to your latest journal entries and then write down how the card came forward in actuality. This is why I think it is important not to strive for complete correctness. That can create expectations of the ways that the cards are going to flow in your life, and when they don’t adhere to that expectation (and they never will), you find yourself questioning even more.

So, return to your latest journal entry, and check in. Write down how the card(s) actually came forward. Document how your initiation contained similarities, differences, complete out-of-the-blue surprises with the cards. This is the connection forming in real time. What a beautiful thing!

Some things to consider when journaling about the cards:

  • It is important to date each entry. That way you have a roadmap of your personal path with the tarot. How beautiful is that?
  • No matter the format (handwritten, electronic, art-inspired), keep your entries. Return to them, read them again, see the similarities and the differences between you and the cards from that space now in the past, and the present moment.
  • You can use your journal entries to compile a set of notes that form a clear-running connection with the cards.

After you have engaged with your latest entry, and some of your earliest ones, you will start to see the threads forming that encourage a deeper understanding of how the cards come forward for you. You will see the ways in which your free-flowing initiation was spot-on. These are the times when your intuition (whether felt or not) was speaking to you. Other times, you will see that your entries are completely out of alignment. This could be a time when ego was present, when a feeling was not fully worked through, or any other situation that could have altered the understanding.

Don’t get discouraged at these moments. These are the ways you really learn the tarot. It isn’t in some book or course. It is in the precious and intimate unfolding each day, seeing where you are truly in alignment, and where you need to connect more deeply to intuition.

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the next blog post in creating an unbiased connection to your cards. Don’t forget to sign up for the Trust the Tarot booklet which is designed specifically to help you engage with the tarot in this way.

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How to Work with the 6 of Pentacles


As each day begins to bring us closer to March, distancing us from the shortest month of the year, it is therapeutic, dare I write it…….even cathartic to write my workings with this card onto the public page of my platform. In working with the 6 of Pentacles, and as I mentioned in the podcast episode (click here to listen), it is important to see and work with the 6 of Pentacles beyond an act of charity. I don’t like to work with the 6 of Pentacles based on a capitalistic narrative that puts money in the form of hierarchy between people. Instead, I am going to discuss how the themes within this card open the space for sharing for the bigger picture, and what that means. I am also going to discuss how abundance and generosity make magick and reality a fluid cycle, ending within the metaphor of pollination- and how it relates to this card.

When talking about sharing for the picture, I cannot help but reflect back on 2020, and the beginning of this year. I know…I know, we have discussed about the last year to the point that it has become a trope of itself. However, when I look back on the last year, I see that our lives are communally based. We may not be the most social of people (I am definitely not overly social) but the good of the individual enhances and elevates the good of the community. The good of the community leads to the good of a society.

This is not merely related to health, although 2020 showed how health is not a individual issue. When discussing the theme of sharing for the bigger picture, it is about all of that, and more. Sharing for the bigger picture means that we do not seek to shut ourselves off or away from the world. Instead, we open ourselves to the goods that abound with gratitude and companionship. We share with the community, with our spirit guides and ancestors, with our friends and family, so that the layered energies become enriched with stability and support.

From the Herbcrafter’s Tarot, the 6 of Pentacles is shown as Pine. Pine offers it’s medicine, resources, and support all year. This consistence supports all living things.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck shows the layered meaning of this card. When we share for the bigger picture, it is not merely monetary or based on someone’s altruistic acts. This card speaks to sharing in ritual and magick and community because that is how the bigger energies change for the better. When working with this card, we are being asked to commit to sharing in the ways that we can, so that the community, society, and the very Earth experiences more stability, more support.

Building on this narrative, when we look to generosity and abundance, we are being asked with this card to be generous with all the layers and faculties of ourselves. We can use our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and our spirits to direct the bigger picture towards more support and stability. By offering out and being generous with ourselves, we charge the Universe to send back to us what we have put out. We merge into the large and small cycles of what is, was, and will be with more direction being paid towards wider description of abundance.

From the Hush Tarot deck, the Meadowlark is the only bird that sings while flying, indicating joy and bounty. Meadowlarks are a symbol of abundance and good harvest.

When we look to generosity, prosperity, and sharing it is important to find the space to really sit with what abundance means to us. Abundance and prosperity are not terms and themes that exist in a vacuum. They are around us all the time. It requires that we take notice, be part of the collaboration for prosperity’s own sake. Being part of the abundance for the bigger picture means that we actively choose the ways we are fulfilled continuously, constantly.

When abundance and prosperity move and guide us, we are freer to offer out our internal truth more. We are freer to find the small and subtle layers that bring abundance into our days. With all of this glorious energy, it can be easy to see this card as all love and light, sunshine and rainbows shit. Not true.

This card is a positive card, and indicates quite beautiful themes, but this card also points to work that needs to be done. It points to what is out of alignment with prosperity. It can also indicate our attention to money, the privilege that many (me included) hold and how that privilege has created deep, systemic imbalances. This card indicates and guides us toward move and bring abundance into spirit, but it also shines a light on where the balances of power are tilted.

When we work with this card, it is important to look at how we build and collaborate from a space of prosperity. When we take abundance and prosperity into our spirit, and then give it out to the world along with our truths, it is vital to see and reflect on how these systems, resources, and guiding forces can be called on and cultivated in times of hardship. In short, this card encourages us to not see and work with abundance as some fleeting, charitable influence. Rather, it is a form of stabilizing and ensuring that all things have a seat at the table of abundance.

From the Wild Unknown, we see the 6 of Pentacles as a form of growth, symbolized by the seed. Through pollination, more and more living things thrive.

Finally, we can work with the 6 of Pentacles by calling to mind the role of pollination, both metaphorically and physically. If you really want to be share in the totality of abundance for the bigger picture, go thank a pollinator! metaphorically, we can use pollination as an analogy for the 6 of Pentacles. Through the act of pollination the plant can grow and thrive, and others plants can grow and thrive. Pollination contributes to the whole ecosystem, with each living thing benefitting and offering their own abundance to keep all things in equilibrium. For us, on a spiritual scale, we can see pollination as a way to encourage our spiritual thriving, as well as the thriving spiritual ecosystem for all things.

I would love to hear how the 6 of Pentacles has benefitted you. I really love this card, and see the prosperous blooming in all things. In you, in me, in all things, we bloom together or we wither together. Thank you so much for reading.

Many blessings and much love,

Ashlie

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Challenges with the Page of Wands reversed

I am one of those tarot readers that rejects the idea of reversals meaning bad, no, or anything opposite of joy. In fact, some of my best tarot medicine has come from reversals, reminding me to tune into the subtle vibrations within me to elevate my heart and my spirit. However, I had an experience pulling a tarot card the other day that has not left me alone. When that happens, I know I need to give it a bigger and broader voice to let these messages be of service.

I have been slowly rebuilding my routine of pulling a tarot card every day. Actually, right now it is about every day, but what is one or two more days, right? I sat out in the suddenly chilly Colorado air Saturday morning, and pulling a card over, I asked for guidance. I pulled the Page of Wands reversed. Immediately, I felt a tightening and gripping sensation with this card. My intuitive way of confronting the challenge.

Tarot is NOT all rainbows and butterflies, and any tarot reader who tells you that is selling you a bill of goods. I am sorry, but it’s true. Tarot can be incredibly challenging, and also incredibly healing. With tarot, you are getting all the energies that come with the cards. Some days that energy is beautiful and radiant. Other days, it is a struggle to meet the energy on solid ground.

That is how I felt pulling the Page of Wands reversed. So, in the spirit of meeting this energy with grace and love and honesty, let’s dive into what challenges can come from the Page of Wands. First, a quick reminder about this card. The Page of Wands is the dreamer and initiator of spirit movement. The Page of Wands is the one who calls into being the outline and calling of spirit manifestation that the Son will then move and shake and stir into action. There is also the elements to consider.

These two elements come from the elemental association of the card, and the Court Title of Page. The wands represent fire. The Pages (as their own identity) represent Earth. These two energies stand at polar opposites in many ways, mostly in movement. Earth growth is often shockingly slow, with some exceptions. Fire growth burns hot and quick and it feeds. This means that the fire energy within wants to move, but the earth energy needs time to stir and dwell and hold.

Passion and growth are not on the same time table: My passion for tarot is a ferocious fire that will never go out. However, growing into this process is like the growth of a tree. It is happening, but it is hard to see or feel it in the moment sometimes. If there is something that you are passionate about, and you feel it so deeply in your bones that it almost hurts, but it is slow to rise towards the vision you hold within, that is Page of Wands energy in its shadow form.

One of the reasons that these two energies are so opposite of each other is that both passion and growth work with visions and dreams and wants. Passion sees everything through rose-colored glasses, while growth is met by the ego, who wants everything to be kept safe and comfortable and understandable. Growth needs time to stop, pause, reconsider, and thrive. Passion wants everything to unfold beautifully, organically, passionately.

This can be a huge challenge for the ego. It can be hard to remind ourselves that growth is happening, especially when it seems like it happens so quick for other people. Sometimes it does, and that is just the luck of the draw. Other times, it is important remember how you are seeing someone else’s growth. Are you seeing it through the lens of social media or a website, or are you seeing the real and raw energy that comes with growth?

When the pages are in their shadow element, and the dreams and visions become cloudy, it can be hard to keep your head above the metaphorical water. It can be hard to see the forest for the trees. It can be hard to hold the burning desires of the wand’s fire, while moving with the vibrations and rhythms of the earth. If this resonates with you at all, I invite you to take time to see where your passion can be directed, mindfully. Where can you place some energy so that it feels like you are merging these two elemental spaces?

One of the best ways I know, is that when I deeply feel the passion of the wands, but my growth is that of a tree, I tend to my physical space. I tend to my body. Movement, exercise, food, and tending are all beautiful ways to give your passion purpose. Move your passion back into alignment by redirecting it. Also, take a look at where you are putting your energy. Are you getting caught in the scroll-hole of comparisons? Are you getting caught up in drama because it’s exciting? See where your passion may be meeting forces that could compromise it.

Finally, remember that patience will allow this energy to pass. Practice patience and stillness. The Page of Wands never wants to be still. By practicing even a little bit of mindful slowing, you may be surprised how the pace that many people set for themselves is based more on output and expectation that need and control require. I wish you many blessings. If you would still like some help setting this space into alignment, consider my spiritual wellness coaching sessions. At $40 for an hour, we will look at how to use these confrontations and contractions towards your purpose and higher alignment.

Much Love!

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How to Create the Perfect Tarot Spread

Write the spread that guides you home…

If you read tarot cards, chances are you know about the classic spreads. These are the spreads like the Celtic Cross, the Horseshoe Spread, Past / Present/ Future, and so on. These are the spreads that have stood the test of time. They are iconic because they are bring in and cover such a broad base of messages. When I first started reading tarot, I turned to these spreads, and any others that accompanied the beautiful books of my teachings. I felt these spreads would last with me through my whole tarot journey.

And, that hasn’t been entirely incorrect. Every now and again I will turn to one of these tried-and-trues, but to be honest, once I got a handle on how I read tarot, and what I want the messages in the cards to offer me, I stopped relying on most of these well-known spreads. The main reason is that I like spreads with a little more direction. To me, the Celtic Cross started to move me in circles. Like I was driving to a new location that I have never to before. I know the zip code. I know the general location I am in, but the side streets and landmarks are not leading me anywhere helpful.

I started to write my own spreads. It may seem easy to write a tarot spread, and there are days where the needed messages just come flowing forth, from somewhere within me that I cannot name, only feel. Other days, I feel like I am on the right track, but still getting nowhere. So, if you want to write the perfect tarot spreads for yourself, or for your business, keep reading!

Tarot lets you explore your reality, your possibilities, your elusiveness. What do you want your cards to say?

To make it easy, there are three key things that I feel should be considered when writing a tarot spread, so that it includes everything to make your tarot experience beautiful and empowering….

Those three key things are:

  • Knowing the insight or clarity you / your client’s need from the reading
  • Knowing what is reasonable (within your ability to ask)
  • Being mindful of receiving the whole truth

Let’s begin with needed insight or clarity. It is vital to understand and be able to articulate what is being asked of this spread. For a spread like the past, present, future, the insight being gained is an understanding of what has passed, what is coming in, and what is within the present moment. If the spread is stop, start, continue, the spread is giving insight into actions that help or hinder.

So, in writing your spread ask what and where you need insight. Do you want your spread more general or specific? Do you want options or choices in your spread, or are you open to receiving concrete messages from your cards? Are you looking for a more spiritual or a more psychological approach, or do you want both covered in your spread? Your spread can include anything you want, as long as it includes the second part of the key themes.

A great way to gain full clarity of what you need from your spread is to do a freewrite journal exercise. Write down whatever you are feeling, thinking, experiencing, or considering. Just write. After you feel you have written down everything that honors and captures your point of view or your needs, put it aside for a day. Let the words sit for a moment. Return to your writing and highlight what you feel the key words or key themes are within your words. These highlighted passages are the bare bones of what you can explore in your spread.

Use journaling as a way to see what themes, feelings, or thoughts keep coming up. This could become the structure of your spread.

Once you have decided what you need your spread to speak to, it is time to move on to the second key theme: what is reasonable to ask of the cards. This theme is open to interpretation, as everyone has a different style of reading. Your style of reading will dictate and determine what is reasonable to ask. For example: my way of reading is intuitive, but not predictive. Therefore, while I have spreads that speak to possible outcomes, I do not in any way instruct or inform my clients that a certain circumstance or series of events will unfold. If you read from a purely spiritual point of view, your spread positions will speak to spirituality.

Once you know your reading style, consider what is reasonable to ask the spread. It is reasonable for you to ask about 3rd party readings? Is it reasonable to ask about financial matters or health issues? Only you can answer what is right for you and your reading style. Once you have decided what is reasonable, your spread will reflect that truth. If you find it reasonable to read for others, include in your spread questions that speak to this. If you feel it unreasonable, keep all questions in relation to you, or whomever is the seeker.

After you have decided what is reasonable, or unreasonable to ascertain from your spread, we move on to the final key theme: honesty, brutal honesty. If we think about it a tarot spread as a dinner plate, the insight and clarity is the main course. It is what is going to probably benefit you the most because you are getting to the bedrock to what has been elusive. The ability to discern what is reasonable to ask is the side dish, which makes honesty the bill.

A needed exchange…

The bill (brutal honesty) is the exchange so you can have this glorious plate of energetic beauty. It is needed, but it may be hard at times to recognize that this exchange is paramount. Just as you could not have a lovely dinner at a restaraunt with paying the bill, you cannot have a truly profound spread that is of service unless there is an exchange. In all tarot spreads it is useful to have specific position that highlight the positives, the love and light if you will. These positions can include: strengths, resources, gifts and offerings to the world, lasting energy, and more. These positions are beautiful, and can highlight the beautiful nature of your / your client’s unique self.

However, it is also important to be willing to have a thorough exchange with the card and include positions that speak to the shadows. These can include: fears, weaknesses, obstacles, things to change, things to let go, and more. It is important to include spread positions like this because your tarot cards are your ally, and the spread is the conversation it is having with you / your client. It is important to go into not just the love and light, but also the shadows and the blockages, because that is how we grow. We don’t grow within the comfortable, we grow with the full spaciousness of possibility, which needs to include that which we may not want to hear.

Obviously, these three focuses are, in my opinion, needed to create a badass tarot spread. You may have a different take, and that is totally fine. You need to find what works for you. If willing, I invite you to utilize these focuses while writing your own tarot spreads. They have never led me astray, and I am confident it will be of service for you as well.

**One side note that I wanted to mention was writing a spread with a specific deck in mind. All tarot / oracle decks can be of service no matter the reading (unless there is an energetic block that has nothing to do with the spread), but sometimes it might be useful to write a spread with the focus through one certain deck. I love using my Mystical Dream Tarot deck for a more psychological, symbolic feel. If I want tangible and of this earth, the Herbcrafter’s Tarot has been it for me. For all things relating to spirit and wild reclamation, The Wild Unknown decks have never done me wrong. Again, all decks can be interchanged, no matter the spread, but if you are really struggling, or really wanting to connect to a certain deck, try writing a spread specifically for the artwork and themes of one particular deck.**

Many Blessings XOXOXO

Ashlie

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Reading the Devil Card

The Dragon Tarot (left) and the Ostara Tarot (right)

The Devil card is quite a loaded tarot card, in fact, the mere mention or turn of this card can change the whole tarot reading, especially for someone just beginning to read to tarot for themselves, or for other people, but this card doesn’t have to the dark little cloud that rains on a beautiful tarot reading. In fact, this card can be a wonderful, amazing teacher, if we are willing to shed the archetype as we have known it for so long. Many religious texts and teachings place Lucifer as the direct anti-thesis to God, to purity, to ascension. I believe that the Devil card can provide the space to create some great work in this world, and I wish to add new narratives to this card. If you view and work with this card in a different way, I respect, but if you are open to a different interpretation, I gladly invite you into this space. I also highly recommend that you look to Lindsay Mack’s Tarot for the Wild Soul podcast with the Devil as one of the great liberators of the tarot. I love her work, and this episode really struck me when I first heard it.

Let’s first get started by talking about the meanings of the Devil tarot card. The Devil card is all about finding your autonomous center, or your own autocracy. This means that the Devil card is all about responsibility, accountability, freedom, and spaciousness. When finding your autonomy, you step into your power. You are the creator of your life, free to make it what you will. That also means that you need to take accountability for actions and movement and choices. This is a not a card of bad omens or terrible evil. It is a card that is inviting the seeker into a space of rebirth, but requires that you confront this space with a willingness to move and shed the former self. You are being asked to be your own light-bearer, willing to step into the transformative fires.

The Devil card is about the cause, or the why, and not the what when it comes to circumstance. This is why I don’t read this card in relation to addiction, vices, toxicity, or attachments. Those are consequences of a deeper cause. It is within that cause, that why, that the Devil is asking for understanding and merging. For example, for two monogamous people who are in a committed relationship, an affair or adultery would not be the focus of Devil energy, it would be the why. It would be the trajectory off-course between these two that would be where Devil energy is.

Another meaning about the Devil is about finding freedom from expectations, dogmas, or external forces that do not serve you. The Devil as a means for rebirth means that the self needs to shift away from perceptions and energies that do not serve you. If you are not hurting anybody else, or forcing your will on anybody else, there is nothing you owe to anybody in terms of reasoning or explanation. Your body, your spirit, your personal light is yours and it is within you that balance and pleasure and indulgence and pain and understanding sit. What you promote within and outside of your body is your choice, again as long as it does not infringe on the autonomy of another person, or as long as it does not incite violence or promote harm to another person.

Now that there is a little bit of an overview of what the Devil card represents, let’s go to some key themes when reading the Devil card. When working the Devil card, I think there are three things that should be present in order to fully work with this card. These three things are:

  • Release judgment, for yourself and others
  • Let go of the need to see external proof of this card
  • Allow for the human space to be present, step into your creature self

I believe that the first thing when working with the Devil card is to release judgment. Judgment creates bias and a hierarchy that does not serve this card, or the reading. When the Devil appears, there is an invitation to move into the source so that great work can be done for rebirth. The card that immediately follows the Devil is the Tower. This means that by finding that autonomous center, and shifting attention to the cause and not the consequence of circumstance, you are creating the space for the Tower to fall, disintegrating that which does not serve.

This requires confronting the cause, finding understanding, and shifting perspectives back to self with honesty. This is not easy to do. The Devil may be one of the great teachers in the card, but it is not easy work. That is why it is important to remove judgment from yourself. If you judge what comes forth, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Judging what comes forward honestly and authentically will stifle growth and intuitive guidance. It will shunt what the Devil is asking you to do, which is to find your own power, take accountability, and move into a spacious freedom that releases external narratives.

The next thing I think is important when reading this card is to not try to find external proof of this card. This card, as mentioned, is often considered the card of addictions, vices, or toxic attachments. Those external manifestations further judgmental thoughts and behaviors. The need to see and point the finger to something external is exactly the kind of narrative that shifts the energy of the Devil away. It is within you to take control and accountability. It is within you to step fully into your beautiful power. It is within you that your autocracy lies. These energies do not always have an external shape or outline to point to and say, “there is the Devil.” They may, and it can include those listed entrapments, but it could also be found in so many other things, things that may be little and hard to miss.

So, when looking to Devil energy, it is important to remember that the Devil can be in the smallest of details and moments, and they do not have to be bad in any way. Coming into your autonomy, and creating a spacious space for freedom within you can be as simple, yet profound, as saying no to an energetic vampire. It can be in seeking answers, and doing the research, not believing everything that you are told. Devil energy can be found in taking accountability and apologizing. In reading this card, let go of the need to see or speak to external embodiments becauce Devil energy is so much more complex than that.

Finally, when reading the Devil card, let the space for the human-ness to come forward. To go back to the need to read this card in relation to addiction, vices, or toxic connections, if that is truly what the Devil card was about, it would be pulled every time. Why? Because we are all human. We all have bad connections within us. We all have vices and things that we can’t pull ourselves away from. Again, these can be related to a behavior or a state of mind. For a comedic metaphor of this, I recommend watching the clip of Jim Gaffigan talking about McDonald’s, and how everyone has their own form or version of McDonald’s. The point is: we all have things in our life that may not be the absolute best for us, but we are not perfect beings. There is no such thing. Let the Devil invite you into the human aspect. Let it provide you with the comfort and freedom to be a human in this world, with judgment or constant need to point the finger to something external.

It is important to recognize this especially if reading for someone else. When the Devil card is pulled, as a reader, it is important to recognize that what makes this seeker a human is based on their internal, core why’s, so let the space open for them to find their own answers instead of placing this card into the evil, bad, dark space. We all have been the toxic person at some point, so approaching this card and each reading where this card comes up as a space to step into internal power rather than see it as some bad omen will completely transform the reading.

I hope this was helpful for you and your tarot readings, for yourself and others!

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The Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck review

The Major Arcana

I received the Herbcrafter’s Tarot as a birthday present last year, and I am so glad that this deck has come into my possession. I love this deck, and will take the rest of this blog post to break down all the key details about this deck. If you would like to purchase this deck or learn more about it after this blog post, you can click this link, which will take you straight to the Herbcrafter’s Tarot website (this is not an affiliate or promotional code or link). The deck was written by Latisha Guthrie, an herb / kitchen witch, teacher, and homesteader. The artwork is by Joanna Powel Colbert. She has created the Gaian Tarot, the Pentimento Tarot, and also teaches workshops and retreats related to the craft, the Goddess, and more.

What is immediately clear about this deck is that is created with a true knowledge and love of herb-crafting. You do not need a previous knowledge of herbs in order to use this deck. You will need to be invested in learning about the herbs. Each card in this deck relates to a specific herb (the one exception being the World card, which I will get into here in just a bit), so if you aren’t invested in learning about, or using herbs, this probably isn’t the deck for you.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot is so beautifully made. The cards measure 5″ x 3″ which makes them a decent size. The paper has a nice glossy sheen which makes them easy to shuffle. The illustration for the back of the card has a very different feel than the front of the card. To be honest, I am not in love with the illustration for the back of the card. It feels disconnected from the gorgeous artwork of the cards themselves. The artwork is reversible if your cardback to match your reversal preference. I don’t mind if the image is non-reversible because I still don’t know the particular card chosen until I turn it over, but there many who want card-front and card-back to match.

If you choose to keep the deck in its box, the material has some heft, and will keep your decks well-protected. The green string allows for easy access of the cards, and the guidebook fits snug at the top, making a substantial tarot set. If you choose to put your cards in some other container or bag, I would recommend keeping the guidebook. Normally, I tend to forget the guidebook for my tarot decks, but this deck brings in so much more information, that I find it worthwhile to keep the guidebook on hand.

The guidebook is packed full of information that speaks to the formation of this deck, the intention of the herbs used for each card, and how those herbs are handled or grown in nature. These intentionally chosen herbs also relate heavily to a more numerology-based system of reading. As you can see in the picture below, the herbs chosen do not merely reflect the identity of their corresponding tarot card. They correspond to the numerology and to the herb in nature, and how it is used. Working with this deck and this guidebook will give you a good understanding of herbology, numerology, and tarot, all within one tarot deck!

The perimeters for the tarot, herb, and numerical correspondence in nature.

One of the other main differences is the titles for the Minor Arcana. Instead of staying with the elemental object (swords, pentacles, etc.) for each suit, the Minor Arcana are named in relation to the elements themselves: earth, fire, water, and air. The elemental token that is featured in the minors are:

Air/ bolines

Fire / mortars and pestles

Water / kettles

Earth / baskets.

Three of Earth / Raspberry, Eight of Fire / Ginger, Four of Air / Lavender, Two of Water / Mallow

Each of these tools are needed to participate fully in herb-crafting. The elements also take on an additional layer of understanding to help with learning and skill acquisition.

Air = learning, fire = creating, water = nourishing, and earth = giving.

This is somewhat similar to a more traditional understanding of the tarot and the elements.

Air / Swords = the mind: thoughts, brainstorming, ideas, and communication.

Fire / Wands= the spirit: creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, and ambition.

Water / Cups= the heart: connection, understanding, compassion, emotions.

Earth / Pentacles= the body: production, tangible, sensory, and environmental.

One of the final differences is the court card titles have also changed. Instead of Page, Knight, Queen, King, the court cards are now named Hija (daughter), Adelita (Warrior), Madre (mother), and Curandera (healer). Each of these titles bring similar energy to the more traditional court cards, but also represent the transformation of energy that comes from the different thresholds of the herb path. Each court card shows an image with outstretched hands, and shows how the herbs are handled differently as you progress through the court rankings.

Hija of Fire / California Poppy, Adelita of Fire / Cayenne, Madre of Fire / Thyme, Curandera of Fire / Damiana

The picture above has the four court ranks for the element of Fire. The Hija of Fire may be my personal favorite card of the deck. The Hija sits on her blanket, adorned with incense, costume jewelry, California Poppies, and she is both witnessed and protected by her stuffed tiger. She is undertaking the path in a way that is both playful and imaginative. The Adelita of Fire carries the tradition of her people’s medicine by crushing cayenne to make fire cider. The Madre of Fire keeps a whole-hearted and fierce spirit to create and use ingredients that fill her hearth and home. Finally, the Curandera of Fire teaches the power of love and intimacy, healers in their own way.

Speaking of the imagery, Joanna Powell Colbert’s artistic rendering of each card is simply stunning. Her images are so detailed and intimate, that it really feels like a part of time was captured, not just the herb. Each image feels so heavenly, that you can almost smell what’s on the stove, feel the sunshine, or test the nearby water. The artwork is so beautiful and important, but one of the other reasons I really recommend keeping the guidebook is because Latisha Guthrie’s description for each card is informative and easy to understand. Her writings detail how you can either begin or reinforce your herbal path with each herb, and benefit from each card you turn over. It is not a mere guidebook; it is an informative text for the herbal path.

If you have a decent understanding of herbs or numerology, this may be a decent deck to learn the tarot on. If new to all practices, I personally would not recommend learning on this deck, only because there is so much information that comes with this deck. By fully learning tarot through a more standard or straightforward deck, there isn’t a need to learn both herbs and tarot at the same time. However, that is merely my personal opinion, and I am sure that for many people, this deck would create full expansion in their beginning practice.

This deck has been a recent go-to for bringing in an understanding of garden magic and kitchen medicine. I would give this deck a 5/5, it is simply that beautiful, and that useful. I am getting loads of ideas for teas and tincture I want to create. I am gaining a deeper respect for the earth under my feet, and all that comes forth from its foundation. If you want to learn more about herbs, numerology, or gain more knowledge from the expertise of two powerful women who have walked this path for decades, this is a great deck to invest in.

The World begins a new chapter: awakened, alive, vibrant and gazing forward. There is a palpable readiness.
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Deck Forecast – 2020 (Wild Unknown Archetypes and Tarot)

The deck forecast begins at the very top of the table, with the Desert and the Hanged Man

For 2020, I am going to switch up the decks that I use. The Wild Unknown Archetypes decks is STUNNING. I cannot get over these cards. Plus, archetypes are meant to explored, discovered, understood, and utilized. This makes them the perfect deck for doing a monthly deep dive. The

Wild Unknown Tarot is the companion card, creating a layered message of what archetypal energy is present, and how to invite this potent energy into your life. Patrons will still receive a third card in their monthly card forecast. If you would like to become a patron, click the badge on the right hand side and join the dwelling!

For reference on how to tell upright vs. inverted, I pull every card with my right hand, and then turn each card over pulling from the left side. If I were to take these cards out of the circle, and place them in a straight line, I would then grab from the right side and move left if it’s on its side (horizontal). I hope that makes sense! It can be hard to tell when it is this kind of formation.

I tried to get a picture that did justice to the imags, while keeping the names visible. For clarity, here is the monthly forecast:

January: The Desert and The Hanged Man

February: The Shadow and the 8 of Swords inverted

March: The Eternal Child and the Tower inverted

April: The Poet and the Devil

May: The Castle and the 9 of Wands

June: Eros and the World

July: The Crone and the Mother (Queen) of Swords inverted

August: The Creator and the Ace of Cups

September: The Queen and Temperance inverted

October: Thanatos and Judgement

November: Aletheia and the 10 of Cups inverted

December: The Mirror and the Son (Knight) of Wands

So, that is the forecast for 2020. I am not going to lie, when I say the card pairings for January through April, I said to myself, “Here, we go….” That is not to say that the cards are bad or that I don’t like them. Cards like the Tower and the Devil have some of the most profound blessings, but they are not easy cards to grasp and hold. Those cards, and many others, can be incredibly daunting, and speak to growth in ways that are often uncomfortable or hard to bear at times.

Some things to note about the complete forecast: the year is divided into 6 major arcana cards, 4 pip cards, and 2 court cards. Major Arcana cards speak to great forces, forceful momentum, and encompassing shifts. When a spread, or here a forecast, is dominated by Major Arcana cards, that means that the year forecast is going to see a lot of transformation that is effective more on a grand scale of life, rather than dealing with the more minute details of the day to day. The Majors are archetypes unto themselves. They represent the macrocosm. Their energies are so large that, at times, it can be harder to feel their presence.

We have the 8 of Swords inverted, 9 of Wands, Ace of Cups, and the 10 of Pentacles inverted. With the majority of the pips and court cards falling to the Swords, we can safely say that the majority of the microcosm will be focused on the threshold of thoughts, communication, brainstorming, ideas, and narration. We will be looking into the mental faculties that gauge the energies, and how that logical clarifying accompanies the larger forces at play. The Court cards are the cards that speak to us between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Side note: I do not read Court cards as other people. I read them as the threshold between the majors and the minors. That means that July and December present invitations for a more intimate conversation about how to bridge yourself between the energetic forces and shifts available, and how to make energies available.

What are your thoughts on these card pairings? If you would like to download my free monthly ezines from 2019, do so by the end of the year. After that they will be getting deleted to make room for 2020 ezines. Much love to you!