When approaching reading the tarot a common exercise is called A Card A Day. A single card is drawn each day to contemplate. This takes the seeker through the cards a little less than five times in a year. This is a great way to learn the cards and to practice opening up to intuition.
I do one-card readings regularly for people. It’s a great way to get a quick message and a single card can actually tell you a lot. Someone I know is going through this card-a-day exercise and I thought I’d join them. The last time I did it, there was not really a good way to share my thoughts and results. Now, with the web, people can see an example of this journey.My preferred deck is the Robin Wood Tarot. Robin illustrated the covers of several of Scott Cunningham‘s books. It’s colorful and joyful with some different takes on a few of the cards that connect strongly for me.
Each day I will draw a card and take its picture. I’ll give my thoughts about the general meaning of the card and what I feel the card means for me in particular. Of course, when doing a reading one would always make the entire deck available and be OK with the same card coming up more than once. Here the deck will diminish as I go and I’ll have fewer choices. So, some cards I draw may not have the strongest connection with my personal day, but part of the exercise is to consider what meaning a card can have for you, even if it’s not obvious. One must be prepared to accept any card at any time.
Feel free to join along with your own deck, either drawing your own card and writing your own thoughts, or simply contemplating the card I draw by looking at the one from your own deck.
Some time back I did blogging exercise where I would read a tarot card for the day. When COVID-19 forced us all to innovate, I redesigned my webcam setup so I could have a face view and a table view, allowing me to do remote readings that would feel more like what we would do in person. I realized it was time to restart the Card A Day with live video broadcasts. I do them every day that I can. Eventually we’ll get through the entire tarot and we’ll move on to some other kinds of oracles. You can watch the latest video below and all the previous broadcasts.
If you are curious about your own personal reading we can arrange a remote session that will feel very much like what we would do in a face to face session at a fair or event. Set yours up now by filling in the contact form.
Another late entry where I end up drawing the card in the morning and write about it at the end of the day. I suppose that’s not so bad, because I get to reflect on how the card actually did connect with my day. My only requirement is that I must address the card on its day. No setting it aside and letting it be tomorrow’s card instead!
Today we get the Four of Swords. Disused swords hang, reverently, around a stone efigy. This is a tomb. We don’t know who this person was, but they are clearly important. The swords hanging in the tree look almost like a tribute. Are they the swords of comrades or enemies? In either case, they have been laid to rest, an act of great honor.
One is tempted to view this card negatively, as a sign of death, but that is not its meaning. We are not looking at the life of an individual meat puppet, but the journey of the soul. When the body is laid to rest, the soul journey’s on.
Many traditions suggest that when a life cycle ends the sould takes time for reflection and stillness. That is what we see here. All distractions are ended. All needs and demands are removed. Nothing more is expected. Nothing more is asked. Repose, rest, reflection, meditation are all that is here. Anyone who journeys to this place is also expected to enter into quiet reflection.
When this card appears it is a call for release, for quiet. It is time to let go of control and not worry about the chaos of the world or the tasks left undone. It is time to make a full stop and simply reflect, simply be.
You would expect this to be a welcome card. Who wouldn’t like to just drop out of things a little and rest… but many aren’t sure what to do with this energy. It reminds me of the phrase I’ve heard (and sometimes used) in the go-getter mode: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
We don’t really want it to come to that, but our society demands constant motion, constant production. We don’t respect rest, yet we must have it.
I had great plans for myself today. I had several things that I needed to get done. Then I had to deal with a mild health issue for a family member. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t life threatening. It did require me to just set aside my list and go buy some things at the drug store and go help. My checklist is all unchecked.
At one point in my life this would have been very frustrating. I might have even stressed the importance of my time and tasks and demanded that someone else handle this. I did not. I did not even explain how I was doing this in spite of all the important things that I would now leave while I did these errands. I simply let it go for the moment. A new priority had emerged.
Upon reflection, it’s not so bad that I did not get some of these things done. I didn’t even spend my day thinking about the things I hadn’t done, or the possible consequences, or how much better things would be if I hadn’t been interrupted. I actually just let it all go. I spent the time thinking simply about the new tasks at hand, which did not require a whole lot of mental investment. Outside of that I allowed my mind to simply rest a little. No need to worry. No need to dwell.
In general, I think I did some honor to this card in my day. I also think that seeing it before my day changed made me much more open to being more relaxed about it all. This was a good exercise of using the card to help me address my day. As the day draws to a close I am not stressed. Tomorrow is a new day. I pay no price for today. Everything was as it needed to be.
Today we greet the King of Cups. Cups are connected with the element, water. This is a flowing element that moves easily from one context to the next, allowing itself to be shaped. It is a cleansing element, also connected with healing energy. Water also calls to mind intuition, collaboration, creation–particularly artistic.
The king invokes a strong male energy and all that goes with that. The king rules less by art and more by decree. He could be a tyrant, but he is a man of honor, using his reason and his power for the greater good of his kingdom, knowing that when all prosper he does as well.
When a person, this is a compassionate man, fatherly, kind. He is artistic and the water energy causes him to be even and balanced in his demeanor. This is a deep person, but quietly powerful.
When cards like this appear there are several possibilities. I might encounter this man. If I do, I should pay heed because he will likely have an influence on me today. Perhaps this is a call for me to bring out these qualities within myself. A single card has little context, like a lone word. That’s why we normally lay out a few others to create a complete sentence.
I will try to be a flowing, quietly powerful force today. I will allow myself to be shaped by the day a bit and not worry about controlling my day. If I encounter this energy in another I will try to engage with it and see what opportunities come.
The triumphant hero returns. He is greeted by throngs of enthusiastic people who cheer his arrival and praise him as he rides, upright, through the streets. His banner flies in the breeze of a beautiful day as flower petals are strewn at the feet of his steed.
The quest may not have gone according to plan. History may revisit these deeds later with harsh criticism, though they weren’t there. Today, however, none of that matters. Today is a good day, a proud day!
This is not a bad card to see at all. It shows that despite the hardships and the struggles that things will be appreciated and rewarded. People are paying attention. You will get the rewards that you have earned. Set aside the bad news. Set aside the critical voices, especially those internal ones that obsess over imperfections. Today, accept the praise and join in the celebration. Today is about today.
As I reflect on this card for myself, I have a certain amount of relief. The last few cards, especially the successive appearance of The Chariot and Death, made me a little unsure of what sort of vibration I was building to. It could have been a card of loss and turmoil. The Six of Wands suggests that the path is opening up and that I should be bolder. So, I did take some bolder steps today. I started an event a few had asked for, gathering people for a regular dose of positive, manifesting energy. (I’ll write more about that soon.) I’ve been considering this for a while, but the appearance of this card with the others suggested that the time for action is right now. Do I feel completely prepared for it all? Absolutely not! That doesn’t matter. It’s not really so much about what I think or get from it but what others do. This is not about self-evaluation. It’s about honoring the opinions of others when they raise you up.
Some of us are not good at accepting praise. Perhaps we’ve been teased or dealt with some abusive behavior that conditioned us to think that praise was not sincere or that we were not praiseworthy. While true that we should not be focused on the opinions of others and that we should follow our own heart for our path, we can get so lost in living the “hard, cold truth” that we ignore or even discount those people who are raising up our good qualities. Accept the praise. Enjoy the party.
OK. Here it is, the most abused card in any story, TV show or movie that invokes the tarot. This is it. We’re going to die! Game over! Pack it in! Say goodbye!
When doing a spread for someone the appearance of this card is often followed by the words “hang on a minute” by the reader (or at least me) because of the negative reaction this often invokes. (Thank you lame-ass TV shows, stories and movies.)
So, what is this card about? Most spiritual cultures agree that death is not the end. There is something that continues outside of the crude matter of flesh and goes on to do other things. It is a threshold, albeit a door that tends to only swing one way and locks behind us. We can go through, but we won’t pass back this particular way again. It is a card of transformation, of evolution. The caterpillar is consumed to become the butterfly and emerges anew.
When Death appears things are changing and not in subtle ways. Something big is changing. There is certainly an air of “Careful what you wish for.” You can’t necessarily prepare for what is about to happen, but you can decide to be open to it. What happens next is likely for your greatest good. You will be taking on new things and leaving some old things behind. What you leave will be left forever.
This card appears during life changes. It is a harbinger of new jobs, new relationships, new discoveries. That’s good stuff, and should be welcome. However, it’s not necessarily gentle with routine and may have some shocking reverberations as you grow accustomed to the new situation.
I can’t help but think of this beautiful song (which I really must start performing myself) when I see this wondrous card.
Alone, this card is interesting and means that things are going to start happening NOW. I’ve been open to—and needing—change in parts of my world. I’m open to it and I welcome it, though I would like to manage it somewhat. That’s OK, though. Let it come!
Of course, if I look at this card in context with yesterday’s card, The Chariot, I should fasten my seat belt. Things are moving and changing and I should prepare for massive, perhaps even rapid transformation and change. It all points to good stuff, but some stuff is going to be left behind. I should be packed light and ready to go. I can’t possibly predict what is about to happen. It’s not for me to to say. I must be ready to flow and not resist. Am I up for this? There’s only one way to find out. I have to let myself be taken through that door.
Another one of the big ones makes its appearance today. This time it’s The Chariot. What a beautiful card! A golden-haired figure strokes a harp and sings as white and black unicorns pull him in a beautiful, star-studded chariot.
The Chariot talks about travel and movement. We leave trouble behind and we find harmony, balance, triumph. Things which need to move will move, even if it’s us. If we’ve been looking for a change of scenery this is our ticket! Overall, this is a tremendously positive card.
This is a late entry, so I have already experienced much of the influence that this card brings, though I suspect I am at the beginning of its affects and that I will be feeling them for some time to come. Without delving too deeply into personal issues, I do need some changes in my world. I need different actions and activities. I need them to carry me through to the next part of my journey. This card says that the motion has begun and I should begin packing my bags and picking the sights I want to see.
I admit that it is difficult for me to see what this card promises. So much seems to stand in the way and to hold me back from the journey. But I don’t have to predict how it will work. I can accept that the journey has begun and, in accepting, call to me the things that are required. I must also be conscious to not reject these things as they appear. Let the vacation (see vacate) begin!
Today’s card comes from one of the mini-stories we see throughout the Minor Arcana. We see a young boy doing apprentice work. He is carving pentacles over and over and over again until he can do it perfectly without thinking. It is the lowest rung on his way to mastering his craft. He probably doesn’t appreciate this. He probably feels like he is being squandered in this task. He feels ready to move forward, but the master can see what is lacking. He will continue in this tedious work until it is time to move forward. Later he will likely look back on this time with a different appreciation, understanding its value and necessity.
This is a card of learning and doing the hard, low-level work to acquire skill and knowledge. Movies and television show that we learn things through montage, an edited sequence of moments where the hero builds ability with a few humorous mishaps along the way. He emerges a new man, fully capable and ready for the task. In reality, this sort of development takes time, and rather a lot of it. Studies suggest that one needs to spend 10,000 hours doing something to achieve expertise. Assuming that one worked 40 hour weeks at a thing, mastery could occur in about 5 years. Reality, though, in our modern society is that one will likely spend more like 10-20 hours a week on the actual item of mastery, the rest of the time spent in meetings and various other things that are not the core work. That means it takes between 10 and 20 years to achieve mastery.
When we take on new things we start over to a degree. Yes, some experience may carry over, but that will only show in the evolution. We must be prepared to take on new learning with the same diligence and deference as a much younger version of ourselves. Overnight success is the result of years in preparation. During this apprenticeship, whether actual or self-imposed, we will have to work through our mistakes. We may have to suffer some indignities and disrespect by other, more accomplished people in the craft. We may be treated like a child. These things do not matter. What matters is the dedication and determination to see the thing done, to not just be competent at something but to be amazing at it. Many never make it that far. They give up too soon.
The appearance of this card should reassure you that you can learn new things. It’s a good time to take something else on, provided you are patient with yourself and accept that it will take hard work to achieve. It should also remind you of the value of the hard, underpaid, underappreciated work that you do right now. It is not for aught. Provided that your work is a part of a further goal and not merely submission to the will of others, enduring this time builds the skill and strength that you need to cross that next threshold. So, whistle while you work, envisioning that day when you leave this behind and move to the next level.
It must be related, though. Washing dishes is not going to make you a rock star. Practicing your music and playing gigs is needed. Washing the dishes may help to fund that and be a part of the bigger picture, but if you’re not putting in the musical effort it will never go further. Washing dishes becomes your secret identity, while the other work continues. This is all exhausting and it can be easy to become discouraged. The Eight of Pentacles is here to encourage you and say that it really is all worth it.
Now I reflect on this card for myself. I am in the midst of all of this. While I have accomplishments, I am somewhat new on the current version of my path. I attract respect from some and derision from others and I am prone to the frustration of wanting to be further on the path, faster. Yet, all the work needs to be done, and there are no shortcuts. I can see the bigger vision or at least parts of it. It’s becoming clearer every day. The things that frustrate me today are relevant and I try to keep that in mind and maintain a sense of humor about it all. That’s not always easy.
Today I have some tasks to perform and I will do them, though it would be nice to be at my leisure today. I have some learning I should be doing that I have let slide because I was “busy.” I need to be more focused on that as well. Everything around me at the moment is building the better, more confident, more competent me. Later I will look back on this time with a different appreciation, recognizing its value and necessity.
A lone figure looks out over the bay as ships approach. He is dressed in a livery with a crest, so he looks official. The sky shows the oranges and yellows of a dusk or a dawn. Are these ships returning friends? new visitors? invaders? Whoever they are, they are coming and he will sound a call of either joy or alarm.
This is a card of signs. In general it feels joyful. It doesn’t have the ominous darkness that we would expect from bad news. Traditional interpretations say that these ships bear prosperity, resources for future growth, things which will positively shape the future. The ships that ventured out into danger return laden with profit and luxuries. Soon the market will open and be filled with people, anxious to possess these amazing goods from distant lands. Their experience will broaden as they connect with items and flavors of another culture. They will be transformed as they incorporate things and ideas that evolved elsewhere. That’s good stuff!
However, I also consider the lookout, standing day by day, gazing into the bay, waiting. He is not an adventurer on the ships. He is probably not a merchant who will profit by any of this. He is suspended, driven by the impulse of the ships to give a call for action. Don’t we sometimes find ourselves in that position? We freeze and wait for a sign, wait for our ship to come in. We want something to show that our action is warranted, some proof that we are on the right track. When this card appears it is a sign to stop waiting! It’s happening now! It’s time to leave the lonely perch of the lookout and to welcome things into our life.
For me, shortly after drawing this card I had a brief conversation with a business connection about expanding our collaboration. There is some risk involved. It could open new doors for me and create a better energy and opportunity for the kind of work that I need to be doing. However, it could also create some waves and ripples in my “sure thing.” This card reminds me to be excited about the new and exotic things that are arriving. I need to be confident as this approaches and seek the opportunity rather than dwelling on the obstacles.
Today’s card is one of the big ones from the Major Arcana. It’s also one where my personal experience and connection differs from some of the conventional opinions on the meaning.
The Moon shows a wolf and a hound baying at a moon. The moon is shown as multi-phased. We see it full, but we also see it as a sliver. Is this a sort of eclipse, or just a reminder of the ever-changing nature of the moon? We also see a crawdad-looking creature emerging from the pool of water, disturbing it. Between the standing stones we see a turbulent sea.
Interpretations that I’ve seen of this card speak to enemies and dangers hiding in the shadows. They talk about being careful. They talk about nefarious secrets. One cannot completely ignore these ideas, but they are a very skewed view of the moon and its power. Anyone who paid attention during the recent solar eclipse saw what happens when the moon overtakes the sun. To some it was frightening and disturbing. For many it was a glorious experience.
As a magickal practitioner, I have a very different take on the moon and the darkness of the night. The moon embodies feminine energy. The mysterious moon cycle that women experience is an undeniable connection. It’s amazing the way in which the moon’s visual appearance so closely aligns to the fertility experience. To paraphrase Terry Pratchett—that’s real magic, and it doesn’t stop being so just because you know how it works.
I live in Texas, where it’s hot a good deal of the year. The night provides a blessed time of relative cool. When you’re a bit more of a night person, like I am, you look forward to the darkness and relief from the harshness of the day. Many amazing animals come out at night. Owls, opossums, raccoons, coyotes, fireflies, deer and many others make their way into the night. My cats enjoy the night. Some nocturnal animals are dangerous predators, to be sure, but many of them are quieter animals that enjoy the safety of the shadows. In many cases, what lurks in the darkness is fuzzy and adorable.
The Moon says that rather than the harsh illumination of The Sun, we will be seeing everything in the strange, silvery light. It alters colors; it creates illusions. Some things will not appear as they really are. Some things will be acting upon their true nature. It is a time of intuition and, yes, magick! It is a time when things may be done successfully in secret, but not all of these things are villainous. Some things are better done quietly so as not to outrage those who are easily disturbed and frightened. It is a time for awareness, to reach out with other senses heightened by diminished sight. Listen. Smell. Feel. Trust that inner sense that warns of danger and leads you to comfort.
Know that The Moon may bring a little disorder. They say people go a little crazy when the moon is full. Expect some irrationality, and be forgiving of it when it occurs, especially in yourself. But also enjoy the freedom that the moon provides. Respect the moon’s energy. Don’t fear it.
What does this mean for me today? Well, today I will try to embrace the witchier side of things. It would be a great day for workings. While I don’t have anything arranged, I do have some projects needing thought that are related to that energy. I should spend time thinking about them and take inspired notes about what occurs. I need to consider that some people may act a little outside of their typical nature today and be especially conscious not to judge them for it. Anyone may bay at the moon from time to time. I also need to be open to my own reactions to moon energy. The actual moon in the sky is in it’s first quarter, waxing. The moon energy is emerging and slowly growing to full. It’s not at its strongest right now, but it’s growing. Time to start taking things on. Time to prepare for when it is full.
There has been a lot of activity in my world, not all of it particularly spiritual. This has delayed some of these entries. There is a point of view that says that when we focus ourselves on the spiritual that everything else falls into place. It’s a good point of view. I agree with it, though I don’t always put it into practice. I suppose that’s why we call it practice. You try again until you can do it right.
That all makes today’s card a very appropriate one. The five of pentacles shows a pair of destitute beggars in the snow. They are not in good shape. Looking behind them we see an ornate window that is likely a church. Will they make their way inside? Will they seek shelter and food from people who are likely very happy to provide it? Probably not. Pride or fear seems to stand in the way. They will remain out in the cold, stubbornly looking for their own resources.
Pentacles speaks to earth energy, that which nurtures us, grounds us, our foundations.
When this card appears it is a sign of being lost in loneliness and destitution. We feel detached from warmth, from love. We are depressed and not reaching for our higher selves. We might consider simply laying down in the snow to die. There is no shame in poverty, though we may feel ashamed when we compare ourselves to others. There is no shame in needing help. However, if we remain in ignorance and only look to ourselves we will never be lifted up. Now is the time to seek that hand, that spiritual guidance. Now is the time to look to other paths and possibilities. If we continue to do the same thing nothing will change.
This card was appropriate today. I had a long, exhausting day without much in the way of connection. At the end of it all I felt drained and, yes, a little depressed. Once home I needed to deal with a minor legal issue and found out that I had to do it the hard way. That was frustrating. Overall, I did not feel uplifted by today. I was frustrated by the futility.
But it is all done. Overall the issues are not very important in the grand scheme of things and, while I would have preferred some different outcomes, my world could be a lot worse off. It’s time to retune my spiritual strings and get back to the harmony. I can dwell. I can use words like “unfair” or I can just restate my vision and work to manifest it. Important things need my energy. I should not squander it on revisiting frustrations. I put today to bed and arise anew in the morning. See if I don’t!