TAROT DE MARSEILLE: 10 READINGS

September must be the student month. School has started again, after summer, and people are eager to learn. Yesterday I got a request from another student, who would like to see more three-card readings for which the full Marseille tarot deck is employed.

It’s nice to see that there’s interest in the Anglo-American world in reviving this venerable tradition of reading with this old pack of cards. So, here’s a quick run through a few, recent readings done with the full deck.

Each comes with a question. As I do many of these every day, I’ve selected three samples that address each of the three main areas of interest and what people mostly deal with: love, work/money, and health.

At the end, I’ve appended one reading that can be catalogued as falling under the category ‘answering the odd question’. Each of these readings are real-life readings, and thus based on cards drawn at random. So, no reading here is based on preselected cards.

For the basic, simple method of reading the pip cards, I refer the general reader to my post, Fortunetelling in Three Steps, where I account for where the logical meanings of the pip cards arises from, namely from observing the laws of nature.

TDM: 10 READINGS

LOVE

IMG_1747Q: I’ve had an affair for 3 years and my husband has just found out about it. What attitude can I adopt in facing the tensions in our marriage right now?

The Emperor, The Devil, 7 Batons

A: Your husband (Emperor) is facing your dishonesty (Devil), and there isn’t much you can do about it. You can, however, attune yourself to what he may propose on a practical level (7 Clubs). Your attitude must follow his lead (Emperor holds the scepter), as right now you’re not in the position to make any decisions (Devil’s chains). As you’re still experiencing the bondage, your way out is through a practical solution, even though this may not be the most comfortable for you (the 7s are always trouble). Listen to what your husband has to say.

. . . . . .

IMG_1748Q: My wife has a way of doing useful things for the family in the most practical way, but she lacks the kind of creativity that can move us all beyond conventionalism. How can I deal with the general boredom that she raises to some virtue?

Death, The Pope, Knight of Batons

A: You cannot change the way your wife is and what she is inclined towards. She is a dead end where your need here is concerned. You can adopt the attitude of the good father (Pope) who instructs the smaller kids in the best possible way, and who blesses the youth who is ready to move out. Perhaps by following him, you can get excited about his undertakings (Knight of Batons), and thus live a more passionate life by proxy.

. . . . . .

IMG_1752Q: There is the pragmatic aspect of love, and then there’s its unspoken of dimension. How does our love for each other manifest in that invisible, spiritual and unconscious plane that is useful to us both?

The Magician, Queen of Batons, Two Batons.

A: You each do your thing and what you are best at. On the unconscious plane you’re back to back. You don’t acknowledge each other, but your beams intersect. You hold the trick and she the magnetism. There’s intersection between the two of you, a core that you can think of as being a connector in point.

. . . . . .

WORK

IMG_1749Q: My male boss is making common front with the other males in the office. He likes to consult me creatively, but he offers me little to no acknowledgement. Whatever bonus there is to share goes to the others in the office. What can I offer myself against this background so my soul won’t revolt against the regular injustice?

8 Coins, Page of Swords, Page of Coins

A: You must leave the talking suits full of ideas to their tables (8 Coins). As you have rightly observed, their negotiations don’t involve you (Page of Swords). Turn your suspicious gaze from the unfair distribution of resources to the ones who already hold some in their hands (Page of Coins). Collaborate with the assistant.

. . . . . .

IMG_1750Q: I’m part of a spiritual commune, but I’m not always in agreement with the ideology of ‘follow the flow and say yes to everything’. How can I offer constructive critique without the risk of being perceived as being judgmental?

5 Batons, Two Swords, Knight of Batons

A: It looks like this particular community does not tolerate any personal exercise in the criticism department, as they probably already perceive you as some kind of a wanker. Seek greener pastures. Hit the road.

. . . . . .

IMG_1751Q: I want to change my line of business, but I’m not so sure how I can go about it. What is the most significant factor in this shift that I must pay attention to, so that the change is successful?

King of Batons, The Lovers, Strength

A: You may have to decide leaving the man of action behind, and going your own way. Or else, you may seek partnership with the bossy type, but then be prepared to struggle with the fact that he may not get what you’re all about. Struggle there is, but you have forceful resources. Bank on that.

. . . . . .

HEALTH

IMG_1753Q: I’m experiencing a lumbago crisis. How can I help myself?

The Moon, Death, 4 Cups

A: Interrupt your nights – don’t lie down for 8 hours to get even stiffer – and medicate yourself sensibly.

. . . . . .

IMG_1754Q: My body is full of tension caused by psychic resentments and regrets. How can I release it all?

Ace of Batons, The Tower, 3 Cups

A: What was once natural vitality turned into tight pressure. Let the lid come off. Gather the pieces and find something to love.

. . . . . .

IMG_1755Q: I’m going through hormonal changes. How can I take better care of myself?

4 of Swords, 10 Coins, 9 coins

A: What is now exhausting, but at a standstill (4 swords) will get electrified at the maximum in the head area (10 coins). Beware of your nervous system and the hormonal changes that affect it, especially the brain (9 coins).

. . . . . .

ODDITY

IMG_1756Q: There’s this place in nature I go to almost every day. I also go there in my mind, when I can’t go there physically. The other night I dreamed that a neat, long line of cows was aligned with the west entrance. What are the cows telling me?

Page of Cups, Ace of Cups, Queen of Batons

The cows tell you that although you don’t see it, there’s an abundance of love in your relation with the young ones. Turn around and acknowledge it.

. . . . . .

A NOTE ON THE GENERAL METHOD

Now, as you have observed here, the way I go through each movement, each card, is by considering it as part and parcel of the whole spread. As in the case with the first example in the Work section, I haven’t read the 8 of Coins as a positive thing, even though in and of itself this is generally a positive card that emphasizes financial plans, or communicating ideas.

Next to the suspicious Page of Swords (who may or may not be right in his observations, as these they can be based on immature reflections and projections), the 8 of Coins forebodes something that cannot be materialized in the present form. It means more a situation based on speculation. Given, however, the context of the question, we must find a solution that the querent desires.

Here, following the gazes, it’s clear that the woman must see past her dissatisfaction with whatever injustice at work, and look more into what she can do at the lower level, here perhaps involve the assistants, and draw on their collaboration rather than waiting for the insensitive boss and the others to ‘see’ her.

The point is always to shoot for the synthesis. What can the three cards mean when we take them together? How are they in mutual aspect (opposed or compatible)? Is the synthesis I arrive at useful, or merely descriptive of the situation? How can I distinguish between offering real advice and avoiding confrontation, if the cards offer a challenging point of view for taking action?

A NOTE ON THE QUESTION

If you read for others, you will discover that most people have a hard time formulating a question that yields the most useful answer. Many tend to pose questions on behalf of others. Ex. ‘My son hates me, how can I make him stop?’, instead of asking perhaps, ‘how can I change my attitude towards my son so he can see my love for him?’ ‘When can I get that job?’ instead of asking perhaps, ‘what does it take for me to get that job?’ ‘Does he love me?’, instead of asking perhaps, ‘how can we relate to each other in a mutually loving way so that we can see the love we both have for each other?’

Context is everything, and the question helps determine and narrow down the focus of the context. Without the question there is no reading. Just guessing. Make up your mind as to what approach you prefer to take. Some like to guess. Some find it fascinating to shoot in the dark and hit the target. Sometimes they also miss. Some like precision and no dilly-dally. Some like closeness to the querent, some neutrality. It’s quite important to decide what your own aim is before you engage in any reading.

Go get them, and keep going. Or:

BOOK A READING

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For more of this stuff, check out my book, Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading, available at Amazon US  UK and others.

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Note on the deck: Tarot de Marseille, Jean Noblet (1650) as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy.

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5 Comments

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  1. Thanks for the demonstration and also thanks to whoever asked for this. Very helpful.

    So if I’m understanding correctly, you also read Tarot suits of Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins directly parallel with the French suits of Clubs, Hearts, Spades and Diamonds? I’ve always meant to ask this myself.

    Pips have been difficult for this reason. Always saw Coins as slow and cold, not hot and fast like Diamonds. Perhaps the Golden Dawn influence of starting with the Waite-Smith? So I guess it to say I’ve never made firm associations with Marseille pips. Then even Etteilla (and thus Waite) associate Clubs with Coins. Never understood that until I saw the three Trefoils featured on the Dodal four of Coins.

    But if it as direct as I believe you’re saying, I can certainly appreciate the simplicity. Sure I could get used to it.

    Then would you see Swords as “craft” like Spades, in that the Queen of Swords is a witch and the Eight could be a coven? Or are some of these nuances specific to playing cards? For example, the Ace of Coins a letter like the Ace of Diamonds?

    • Great questions, Ryan. Let me go by each of them, and start with your first.

      1) Yes. I use the exact same method for reading the Marseille pips as I do when I read the playing-cards. The reasons for this is simple. The tarot has presumably borrowed quite a bit from the method of reading for divination with playing cards from the cunning-folk. That is, from the people who prioritized working with the cycles of nature, rather than from the ones inventing fancy systems of counting – Etteilla was good at that – simply because they had their eyes on the cash. Like with everything else, raise the shit to science, and then you’re legit. To some, anyway, for the people with common sense don’t have a history of falling for new trends and races of who is to be master.

      2) Why are coins slow and cold? Nonsense. Last I’ve checked it’s still money that makes the world go round, ever so fast. We’ve only got the fortunetellers who get to be famous and masters over night to prove it. Coins are also hot. They can buy you passion at the brothel, a hit man, or a nice young wife, if you are George Clooney. That’s hot enough I’d say. So, whatever the Golden Dawn folks have invented, it doesn’t hold any water the logical way.

      3) The Swords are the Craft if you pose a specific question about the craft. The Queen of Swords in the context of the craft may well be the wise one, and the one who will take no shit from nobody. You go against her, good luck to you.

      4) About the Ace of Coins. Use your brain. If we agree that in the system we’re using – you may as well have another for all I care – the coins are associated with the intellect, the nervous system, and fire, then the Ace, being in the beginning means either that a brand new idea is hot in your head, or that new money in coming your way. It can mean a letter, if your question is one such that implies your waiting for news.

      It’s all the in the context and in the formula. Without a very clear agenda in mind, you can’t read cards. Well, you can have some fun pondering over them, but they will do little for you in terms of giving you a crystal clear answer that’s as sharp as a samurai’s sword.

      I hope this clarifies for you what’s what. Thanks for wanting to know. All best. C

  2. Perfectly clear and simple. Thanks for spelling it out 🙂

  3. I believe in this post you used the Noblet not the Dodal as indicated in the ‘note on the deck:’ section. Out of curiosity do you prefer Dodal or Noblet? I’m indecisive on which deck to get, does one offer more than the other?

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