Tarot for Teens: Picking a Deck

Grace over Tarot (2)Tarot for Teens is a book I am working creating.  After more than 30 years studying the Tarot, I have realized that even the best Tarot books are incredibly dry and boring to today’s teens and young adults who are comfortable with a more interactive way of learning.  Tarot for Teens is my answer to this.  Its final form might not even be a book.  It might be a series of Youtube videos or maybe a chip that can be directly uploaded to special receptors that everyone will have installed in their cerebral cortexes in a few years.  Whatever its final form, Tarot for Teens is my way of bring the Tarot to a new generation of occult students.

The first thing that I want to talk about is deck selection.  If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you already have a deck.  Maybe it was given to you or maybe you bought it.  However, if you get into the Tarot on any level, you will probably buy at least one more deck eventually.  So you should know what to look for.

All the Tarot everywhere fall into two umbrella-like groups.  They 4 of pentacles comparisonwere either designed to be divination tools or they were designed to be 78 cool pieces of art.  Both are perfectly valid reasons to design a Tarot deck.  Both are perfectly good reasons to buy decks.  However, while Tarot decks that were designed mainly to be cool works of art, can be used for divination, they really aren’t the best choice.  Beginning readers need a deck that has clear symbols and traditional images.  So while you may just LOVE the Vampire Tarot that you picked up, you might want to think about getting a more ordinary deck until you have some experience under your belt.

 

Within Ace of Swords Morgan Greereach umbrella group, decks can be divided into two more broad categories.  Are they ‘Rider’ based decks or ‘Thoth’ based decks?  Back during one of Western Europe’s many occult revivals, specifically the one during the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century, two very prominent occultists designed Tarot decks.  The Rider pack was designed by A. E. White and illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith.  The Thoth deck was the brain child of Aleister Crowley and FrAceOfSwordsThothTarotieda Harris was his illustrator.  There are many similarities between the decks and many differences.  Some schools of occult thought adopted the Rider pack and others adopted the Thoth deck.  There are readers who will passionately defend one style as being superior to the other.  I have found it to be purely a matter of personal taste and how a deck ‘feels’ in the
hand.  If you have an allegiance to either style feel free to pick a deck from that tradition.Magician compared

When you are picking up what will be, for all intents and purposes, your training deck, there are some specific things you need to look for besides style.  These are clarity, color, background, symbolism, artistry and empathy.

Art Tarot Card 2It is important for the picture on each card to be clear.  Many ‘artwork’ decks fill the card with a jumble of images.  The card is busy.  There’s a lot going on.  Sometimes the artist adopts an abstract or impressionistic style.  These are often some of the coolest looking Tarot cards ever, but they are difficult to read.  So look at the pictures and see if they’re clear.

“How do I know if the picture is clear when I don’t know what the card is supposed to look like?”  This is reasonable question.  An artist who is creating a picture with the sole purpose of communicating two or three intimately connected ideas better be able to get that idea across in general terms even to a complete novice.  Take, for
example, the five of cups. It does not take an art degree to know that these cards are about regret.  So look for a deck with clear pictures whose meanings come through to
you even without knowing the ‘book cups05bdefinitions’.  Most of the Tarot practitioners I know have three or four cards that they use as measures when picking a new deck.  I use the 2 of
Cups, Death and the 9 of Swords.  You will eventually find your ‘measuring’ cards as you grow as a reader.

Let’s talk about color next.  This part is completely a matter of personal taste.  The pallet an artist chooses says a great deal about the emotions they want to inspire and the themes they are focused on.  How you react to that pallet will affect how you interpret the cards.  I once owned a deck whose colors were circus-poster bright.  The colors nearly gave a headache every time I used the deck.  Needless to say, I didn’t use it that often.  So pick a deck with colors you like and that speaks to you.

Background is related to clarity.  Unlike other forms of divination, the Tarot does not rely on isolated symbols, patterns or runes.  In the Tarot the entire picture tells the story.  It embodies the idiom “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  DB Pentacles 10The ten of Pentacles illustrates this perfectly.  The traditional 10 of Pentacles shows an old man with a young child in the foreground.  Behind them is a castle surrounded by lush fields and an adult couple.  The ten pentacles are often on banners hanging off the castle walls or on pennants flying above it.  The card is about wealth and family and the stability that comes from having both.  Without all three background images, the full meaning might not be clear.

Symbolism.  What can we say about symbolism?  Symbolism is the backbone of the Tarot.  Everything else hangs on the central symbols of a given card.  While different decks sometimes use different symbols, the symbols themselves should be easy to see and their messages clear.  Common Tarot symbols include food, flowers, animals, lightning, pillars, plowed fields/wildlands, tools and the lemniscate (a.k.a dict_lemniscate smallthe infinity symbol {a.k.a. sideways figure 8}).

The second to last thing to consider is artistry.  Do you like the artist’s work?  Period.  If you don’t like the artist’s work, it will be almost impossible to read with the deck regularly.  The Tarot is a divination system completely centered on aesthetics, the psychological responses to beauty and artistic experiences.  If the artistic experience you get whenever you layout a reading is negative, you won’t get much out of the reading.  Pick a deck you enjoy looking at because you’re going to be looking at it a lot.

The last item to consider when picking a deck is closely related to artistry.  It is a nebulous.  One that is completely subjective.  I call it ‘Empathy’.  Do yoaceofcups Robin Woodu feel a connection to the deck?  Does it feel good in your hands?  Do you find the pictures evocative?  Does it speak to you?  Do you get an ‘I-must-have-this!’ feeling when you see it?  You will not have empathy for every deck you buy.  Some you will buy because you like the pictures. Almost every Dali deck ever sold was bought by someone who just wanted 78 Salvador Dali prints.  Some decks you will buy because they’re ‘good enough’ and you just need a deck.  However, if you study the Tarot in depth, you will find a deck that speaks to you and that will be the one you use most frequently.

There is no precise formula to find out which deck is right for you.  The process of picking a deck makes me think of Harry Potter’s first trip to Olivander’s Wand Shop.  For those who have neither read the book nor seen the movie, Olivander announces that “The wand chooses the wizard” after Harry has tried dozens of wands without finding the right one.  Another way to look at it is “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”  You have to try a lot of different decks before you find the one that works best for you.  After you have worked with your deck for a while, you will know if it is right for you or not.  Meanwhile, shop around.  Look online, at bookstores and specialty stores. You will eventually find ‘your’ deck.Occult bookstore

One last thing about choosing decks. If you work with the Tarot over many years, it is possible that you will change decks.  The deck that fit your hand like a glove will slowly stop feeling so right.  Another deck will feel like a better fit.  When that happens, change.  People change over time.  What was a favorite in your twenties, will be on a shelf gathering dust in your thirties.  It is the way of things. When you feel it is time to move on to a new deck, move on.  It’s all good.

 

 

 

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The “Five Things” Rule

"Titania and Bottom" by Edwin Henry Landseeroil on canvas 1848

“Titania and Bottom” by Edwin Henry Landseer
oil on canvas 1848

The best dating advice, indeed the best lifetime advice I ever received was from my mom’s best friend.  I call her Penny for the Queen of Pentacles.  The Queen of Pentacles is a mature practical woman who is generous and intelligent.  She is the bountiful mother that sees to it that everyone has plenty to eat and clothes on their backs.  She is less concerned with abstracts and more focused on concrete practicalities.  This is Penny to a T.  I came home from college one weekend and went to see Penny.  She was overjoyed to see me and asked me all about my life in college.  She also asked how Benjamin, my first serious boyfriend, and I were doing.

“Well, we just had this huge fight and I just don’t know if we’re gonna make it.”  I replied.

Penny tried to look concerned even though I knew she didn’t like Benjamin at all.  “What did you fight about?”

I sighed and replied with complete seriousness, “Artistic integrity.”

Penny burst out laughing.  I was amazed and sort of annoyed.  I was ready to tell all about our fight and how Benjamin was a complete jackass and totally wrong, to boot.  Penny just kept laughing.  Then she called to her husband and told him the subject of my fight and he laughed too.  By now I was completely annoyed and a little confused, too.  I was a young art student and integrity was pretty important to me.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.”  Penny said wiping the tears from her eyes.  “I didn’t mean to laugh at you, but…” she started to laugh again, but controlled it.  “In my life I’ve listened to a lot of people talk about their relationships and NEVER have I heard of an argument over artistic integrity.  People fight about money and bills and if you’re cheating, not about artistic integrity.”

“Well, you always knew I was special.”  I said with a laughing smile.  This launched a long discussion about relationships and dating.  I was a late bloomer and kind of new to the dating scene and needed some guidance.  Towards the end Penny gave me a tool that has helped me throughout my life ever since.
“Gracie, here’s the thing.  When you’re dating you got to know what you’re looking for.  Before you even start looking around, you need to figure out your 5 things – five qualities that you want in a partner.  You can have as few as four or up to six, but keep it around there.  Now, if you’re just dating casually they can be missing one or two, but any guy you are even thinking about marrying has to have all five.”

That sounded like good advice to me, so I thought for a while and came up with my five things.  Now since I was young and idealistic (did I mention I was an art student), my list was heavy on ideals and WAY short on practicality.  He had to be intelligent.  He had to be creative.  He had to follow a spiritual path or at least respect my spirituality.  He had to have integrity and he had to make me happy.  Notice that there was nothing about responsibility, income or having a job.  I told you that I was an idealistic artist.  The partner that I had for fifteen year, not Benjamin, did have all five and we were pretty happy.  I did learn that when both partners in a couple are impractical idealists things are rough financially.  However, when my relationship of fifteen years ended, it was NOT because I had any false or misguided ideas about what he was or what he brought to the relationship.  Needless to say, my list has changed as I have grown older.

In the years since Penny passed on those wise words, I have shared them with friends, family members and countless Tarot clients – male and female.  Those who took the “Five Things” rule to heart may not have had perfect relationships thereafter, but they knew what they were looking for.  Now that I think about it, many of them did have solid relationships that lasted pretty long.

Eight of Pentacles from the Druid Craft Tarot

Eight of Pentacles from the Druid Craft Tarot

Years later after I got fired from a job I hated, I finally saw the obvious fact to which I had been blind for years.  The “Five Things” rule works for more than just relationships.  If, instead of taking the first job offered out of financial desperation, I had a list of Five Things I MUST have in a job, maybe I would have better luck in my job hunting.  That very day, as I drove home, I decided upon the first item in my new “Five Things for Work” list.  My new job had to have flexible hours.  As a single mother, I needed to be able to leave work for doctor’s appointments and to stay home with sick children.

My “Five Things for Work” is actually four things – Flexibility, a small company, $X00.00 per week and work that I find interesting.  Just like with dating, if I find a job which is missing one or two items, I might take it for a year or so.  However, I job I plan to be at for more than five years needs to have all four.

We like to think of Love as being something that just happens to us.  Cupid shoots us with his bow and BAM we love the next person we see like Tatiana in Midsummer Night’s Dream.  However the truth is that we pick the objects of our desire.  It is just that usually the choice is made by our subconscious.  In today’s workplace, most job seekers feel even less in control that a teenage girl in the throws of her first crush.  A person submits his resumes and waits passively in hopes that the employer will pick him.  In these days of online applications, their usually isn’t a way to contact the employer to follow up.  All the job seeker can do is wait and hope.  The “Five Things” rule empowers a person whether they are looking for the love of their life or just a job.  If you want to be more in control, before you date or job hunt make sure you know your five things.