Introduction to TAROT CARDS, and a STORM BOUND giveaway

The heroine of my latest novel, STORM BOUND, is modern witch and magic-shop owner, Brooke Halloran. She reads the tarot, both for herself and others, daily --- but she is surprised when she suddenly receives the same reading nine times in a row!  


What does it mean?  And how does it apply to the naked stranger who shows up in her arms after a spell goes awry?

Because of my heroine's use of tarot in the story, I thought it would be a good time to dust off a blog I wrote a while back which might explain a few things. And probably the first thing a person needs to know is this:

Tarot cards are not Magic 8-Balls! 

You will meet a tall, handsome stranger...” is more the stuff of fortune cookies than tarot. The purpose of a reading isn’t to tell you what to do – it’s to engage your own intuition. The pictures on the cards are powerful psychological archetypes which can help you gain insight about yourself and your circumstances by tapping into your subconscious.

About the Tarot Deck
The traditional tarot deck has 78 cards, although modern variations may have fewer. Like ordinary playing cards, fifty-six of them are divided into four suits.

Instead of Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs, you have Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles.
Each suit has 14 cards, with numbers 1 through 10 plus four royal cards – Page, Knight, Queen and King.

What most people think of when they hear the word tarot are the archetypal cards, like “The Tower”, “The Star”, “Justice”, “The Fool”, “The Lovers”, and “The Sun”. There are 22 of these trump cards, called “The Major Arcana”. The 56 suit cards are “The Minor Arcana”. Arcana means mystery in Latin, and the term wasn’t applied to tarot cards until later in their history, about 1870.

A Sampling of the Major Arcana

THE FOOL – Often the appearance of this card signifies a beginning of a journey, although not necessarily a physical one. It may be mental, emotional or spiritual in nature. Happiness and optimism abound.


STRENGTH:  From one of my all-time 
favorite decks, The Annotated Tarot of the 

Sevenfold Mystery by artist Robert M. Place*

THE LOVERS – This card often indicates harmony and union, but is not necessarily about love at all. It may represent choices to be made or a decision between two paths.

STRENGTH – This card typically shows a woman with a lion. She may be holding the lion’s mouth open or just standing beside it. The image represents not just strength, but courage, self-control and determination.

THE CHARIOT – This card often represents triumph over adversity, some obstacle overcome, a well-deserved victory.

THE EMPEROR – As might be expected, this card signifies authority, corporate structure or government. It may stand for someone in a position of authority in your life, like a boss or a parent.

THE HANGED MAN – The picture is usually of a man dangling by his foot, and as such, often means a temporary suspension of progress. Circumstances may actually be turned on their head and a waiting period may be in the works.


(* here's a link to The Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by artist Robert M. Place  http://www.amazon.com/Annotated-Tarot-Sevenfold-Mystery/dp/193519402X )

OMG, I’ve drawn the Death Card!
DEATH:  From one of my all-time 
favorite decks, The Annotated Tarot 
of the Sevenfold Mystery
by artist Robert M. Place.
Let's just lay this one to rest (no pun intended!). With its skeletal figure, the Death card has been often been used in stories, movies and even video games to scare the bejeebers out of people. First and foremost, it’s not about literal death (whew!).

In fact, the Death card can be a very positive card. It's usually the symbol for CHANGE, signifying either the end of one thing or the beginning of another. It can mean transformation and regeneration, hope and rebirth. In fact, psychologist Carl Jung attributed the Death card in tarot with a new standpoint or perspective.

Think of the Chinese word for crisis – the glyph contains the symbols for both danger and opportunity, and opportunity is stronger. Drawing the Death card can indicate that despair can now give way to hope – a very good change!

(* here's the link again to The Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery by artist Robert M. Place  http://www.amazon.com/Annotated-Tarot-Sevenfold-Mystery/dp/193519402X )



Choosing your Tarot Deck
HELLO KITTY TAROT has the least scary Death card imaginable!
(Apparently not in print at this time - darn!)

You need to use a deck of cards that appeals to you and there are thousands of decks out there to choose from. Many people collect tarot decks for their gorgeous artwork (I own a Celtic deck called the Sacred Circle Tarot, simply because it’s beautiful).

Two popular decks have a Native American theme, the Sacred Path Cards: The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings and Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals.

If you have a particular passion, someone is sure to have designed a deck around it. For instance, the Tarot of White Cats (yes, all of the characters depicted in the cards are cats), Mystic Faerie TarotSalvador Dali Tarot and Golden Dragon Tarot. There’s even Hello Kitty TarotShapes and sizes vary too. There are even decks with round cards, hexagonal and triangular cards!


It’s important to find cards that you feel good working with.

It’s an intensely personal choice – what feels right to one person may feel very differently to someone else. The very first deck I purchased was the traditional Rider-Waite design. When I opened the box and touched the cards, I was repelled. It’s not that I didn’t know what they were going to look like, it’s that they didn’t feel good to me. I got a headache every time I tried to use them and I soon gave them away. Other people swear by the Rider-Waite and use nothing else.

Through trial and error, I eventually found a deck called The Gilded Tarot. It’s a beautiful deck (see picture below), but more importantly, the cards resonate with me and I can work with them easily.

By the way, the deck that inspired the one that my hero, Aidan, chooses for himself in STORM BOUND, is the beautiful Llewellyn Tarot shown at left.

This is my all-time favorite deck, THE GILDED TAROT, the one I use myself. It comes with an excellent and
easy-to-understand book by Josephine Ellershaw: “Learning to Use the Tarot Once and For All”

http://www.amazon.com/Easy-Tarot-Learn-Read-Cards/dp/0738711500/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400201641&sr=8-1&keywords=Josephine+Ellershaw+Learning+to+Use+the+Tarot+Once+and+For+All
Be Energy-Conscious


I keep a large chunk of clear quartz
with my tarot cards to clear them
of negative energy. I don't know if
it works, but it makes me feel good!
Owning your own deck of tarot cards and handling them regularly is very important. This is so the cards pick up your energy and hold it. For this reason, they shouldn’t be handled by anyone else. (This is also why buying a used deck of tarot cards isn’t advised – they’re saturated with energy from strangers.) In fact, most people who do tarot readings keep a separate deck only for that purpose or ask you to bring one of your own.

The more familiar you become with your personal deck and the more you develop a close working relationship with them, the more your natural intuition will be enhanced and the better your readings will become.

Some people believe that it’s bad karma or bad luck to buy your own tarot cards, that your first deck must be gifted to you by someone else. Most tarot readers agree that this is a myth. There’s nothing wrong with getting your own set of cards – in fact, it’s desirable to do this so you can select the deck that appeals most to you, or that you feel drawn to.  

Note: You might love all things Victorian, but a Victorian-themed deck of tarot cards may not work for you. Who knows, you might respond better to Feng Shui Tarot or even the brightly colored Hawaiian Tarot! Sometimes you have to experiment a little.

Books to Help You


There isn’t room in a blog to discuss all there is to know about tarot. You’re going to need a good book (or more than one) to use as a resource. As I said before, I mostly use Josephine Ellershaw’s “Learning to Use the Tarot Once and For All”, but you need to find the one that resonates best with you. Many tarot decks come with their own books, which is a good place to start.

You might want to look at books specifically designed for beginners such as Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners by Joan Bunning, Tarot for Beginners: An Easy Guide to Understanding and Interpreting the Tarot by P. Scott Hollander. There's even an Idiot’s Guide and a For Dummies book on Tarot! (I didn't like the For Dummies book myself, but someone else might.) 

For someone who wants a deeper understanding of Tarot, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack or Mary K. Greer's 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card may be for you.

Most of all, don't forget that no matter what a book says, the meanings of the cards are fluid and adaptable. What a card means is what you feel it means. Intuition trumps all! 

Dani Harper
www.daniharper.com

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PS - THIS GIVEAWAY IS INTERNATIONAL!
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