APPROACH TO METHOD
The best way to approach my method is to have a look at an essay published on Patheos, Fundamentals in Reading a Visual Text. This essay states pretty much what I’m doing when thinking and writing about the cards. For a direct application of this, you may want to check out my latest book, What is Not: Marseille Tarot à la Carte (2019).
I refer to this essay and book first, as not everyone is keen on the ‘artist’s statement’ idea.
When that is said, for a general view, here’s what I do:
My reading takes a martial arts approach to reading visual text of sacred and occult orientation. The art of reading is magic. When it’s well cut, it’s penetrating.
In order to get a better sense of what angle I use in my readings, and what methods for reading I have developed, here is a list with some posts on Taroflexions that say something about that.
For a storytelling approach to the method of reading cards, check the posts on Patheos.
For a specifically poetic voice in the form of power spells, check the posts categorized as Spells. These posts tend to go a bit viral, so you may want to get a sense of what makes people move, what they respond to, and what they share.
Some of these posts include credits to existing material for reading cards and sources for inspiration.
But my primary approach can be said to follow the cunning-folk approach, which is to say that everything I have to say about a method rests entirely on making logical inferences and keeping close to nature; the nature of nature and the nature of being aware of the nature of things, which is to say the nature of reality.
Unless otherwise credited, all the writing on Taroflexions, Patheos, Spells, Witch, and other journals is based on my own personal ideas, opinions, and experience. This writing combines my competencies, both as they are consecrated in the university and as they are the result of studying with private masters.
PHILOSOPHY OF READING
I read cards with view to developing extraordinary vision. Mine and the other I read the cards for.
I read cards with view to anchoring a situation in the present moment. Most of us are heavily invested either in the past or the future. Hence an cloudy sense of what to do, grounded in ambivalence. My work with the cards is invested in bringing everyone’s awareness to the present. If you can stay present, you know what to do. If you know what to do, you know your future. It’s that simple. I help people go, ‘Ah, I get it now.’ Right.
In addition to the many essays and posts on cartomancy that I have written and where I have explored these notions, I have also written two books on divination with the cards. In these two books you will find a fuller and more focussed statement of my reading philosophy in general, along thoughts on the practice and pedagogics of reading cards with all that it entails, from ‘cold’ readings to predictive and to spiritual readings.
My Marseille Tarot book is an introduction to reading the Marseille cards, and covers readings with both the trump cards and the pip cards.
What is Not: Marseille Tarot à la Carte is a direct application of the fundamentals of reading a visual text, while holding deconstruction up against received traditions.
The Oracle Travels Light is a book that combines reading cards the straightforward way with reading cards for a magical purpose.
I’ve written 20 books to date, a few dealing with the philosophy and practice of reading cards. You may want to have a look at my pamphlet: Divination with Cards: A Short History, or check out The Power of the Trumps and the Power of the Pips, both referencing the Marseille Tarot.
Basically, what I’m interested in all my cartomancy writings is exploring the method, or the skills of reading the cards independently of ‘knowing’ history, or philosophy, or mysticism, or esoteric systems of correspondence.
I simply just want to know how I see, how I go from A to B. I’m interested in what my logic and common sense tell me about what is possible and plausible when I deal with identifying how the visual elements in the cards translate into meaning; meaning that arises also from following the visual cues in the cards and their dynamic transformations.
MARSEILLE, LENORMAND, PLAYING CARDS METHOD
For a few posts that display the function of ‘know thy method’, have a look at some of my essays in the archive:
The essays featured as part of Aradia Academy’s list of resources form a bouquet of ideas in action that deal with how we can think of the cards beyond emotion and logic; how we can play with the cards as an exercise in seeing the obvious.
To begin with, you’re welcome to check out my popular post: Blind Spot: Are You a Fortuneteller or a Psychic?, that gives you an idea as to what I think of divination.
METHOD FOR READING THE PIP CARDS ACROSS DECKS
- On comparing the pips across the cards, see All’s Well that Ends Well.
SOULWORK AND UNUSUAL SPREADS
- For a soulwork reading, how to balance between giving Cesar what Cesar wants and God what God wants, see, Soulwork.
- For how to read with ART-cards, see Queens.
- For a Lenormand grand tableau, see The Clover.
- For a reading with playing-cards for special situations, see Entitlement.
SPELLS AND USING CARDS AS POETRY AND STORYTELLING
- On old magic with new cards, see New Moon Magic
- On love spells, see: Spell and Mandrake.
- On tarot as poetry, see: Maura’s Pantoum.
- On meeting ‘nutters’, see: Tarological Touch
- On writing stories with Tarot, see: Renewed Mantics.
- On creating a collaborative creative writing project with the Lenormand cards, see: Exquisite Corpse.
- On using cards as a Detective Agency, see: A Family Secret (Part 1) and Incubation (Part two), as part of the same investigation.
CARDS AND STARS
- On recovering lost things with horary charts, see How to recover what you lost
- On cards and horary charts, see Purpose
- On cards, magic, and constellations, see Blue Star.
- On the relation between planetary aspects and cards, see Quincunx.
- On planetary magic and teaching, see Sigil.
- On horary astrology, see Abandoned House.
- On agency in horary astrology, see The Pathetic Fallacy.
- For reviews, see the miscellaneous tag, Review.
For a list of featured posts that resurface from the archive and deal with storytelling with cards and my life and times as an academic and as a fortunetelller, see the category: Selected Writings at the main hub.
- Check the list of categories at the bottom of each page or post. You can choose between Tarot (Marseille or modern), Oracles (Lenormand or modern), Magic, Astrology, Cards and Poetry, and more.
OTHER PEOPLE’S METHODS
Enrique Enriquez’s books on tarot are the best. As he uses the old-fashioned cartomantic tradition, everything he says about the tarot can go back to being applied to reading with playing-cards and the Lenormand cards in a fresh and original way. Check out his amazon page here. For a peep into his method, you may like to read my intro to his first volume of interviews, HE RECO ME: Enrique Enriquez’s Poetics of Divination, and Bent Sørensen’s intro to volume 2, TAR O TAR T: The Entires and Exists of Enrique Enriquez.
Another one who reads cards like a true devil is the famous Italian fiction writer, Italo Calvino. His book, The Castle of Crossed Destinies is the best manual in tarot readings.
I’d also recommend the work of Tchalaï Unger for those interested in the Marseille tarot. Her idea with grouping details, becoming a voyeur – ‘sizing up’ the genitals in the Devil card – measuring the wall in the Sun card and then comparing it to the tall buildings in La Maison Dieu and La Lune, and that sort of thing, is very useful. Answering questions for yourself, such as, why the Papesse is the biggest figure among all the other figures on the cards, makes one think of the value of perception. Her basic idea is that we must all develop a dynamic sense of looking. What makes a good reader is the ability to pay attention to details. Imposed meanings are not nearly as interesting as derived meanings. And you can only derive meanings from the cards if you care to look at the cards properly. Give yourself time, she suggests, and I’m all for it. Though this is exactly the hardest part.
A good contemporary Lenormand card reader is African-American Joeanne Mitchell. And I find affinity with the work of Dawn Jackson on playing cards. She does the same thing as I do, namely, focus on the logic of the cards. I could mention more names, but these people are not in the business of being popular and making themselves ‘visible’, so I leave it here.
I like readers who have class. I do not like the ones who act as charismatic politicians, who, while popular with the public opinion, often talk nonsense. My statement here is not based on my being judgemental, but rather, it is based on observation.
Consequently, to the beginners who approach me to check my opinion on self-proclaimed card-masters, or idiotic neo-traditionalists who are always right and know best, I have this to say: Pay attention to what people say, in whose name, from what illegitimate position, and for what business purpose they say it. If you pay attention to what acts language discloses, you’ll be able to distinguish between the hordes. If you think you have a hard time with figuring out who’s doing what and how well, think of what Margaret Thatcher said: “Being powerful is like being a Lady. If you have to tell people you are one, you aren’t.” Same thing with cards. If you have to tell people that you know cards and you’re a master, you aren’t.
Reading cards is not a business you get certified in, and it certainly helps little to say that you’ve been reading cards forever and that’s the reason why you’re good at it. The world is full of people who claim skills in the name of ancillary practice or fancy lineage. Good luck to them.
In reading cards, the only rule is this: Pay attention to what the cards show you right here and now. Period. Demonstrate that you can actually see what stares you in the face. That’s all it takes.
Being a master is not what you say but what you do. Demonstrate excellence through steady doing and habitual awareness of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That will be enough for others to call you a master.
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