Piatnik-Wien Three-Card Read

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

I am trying to learn to read tarot cards with unillustrated pips (minors) by merely reflecting on the geometry and colors and whatnot scribbles in the card. My favorite is the Tarot Piatnik Wien, which has beautifully colored un-illustrated pips.


I ask the deck to help me free my mind and learn to read unillustrated pips my own way. I draw at random one card for study. Valet de Baton. I am looking for numbers only, no people, so I draw another card. Valet de Denier. My third card gives me Troi de Epees, so I stop here and lay them out in a row.


Three of Swords


The Valet de Baton wears his fancy buttoned uniform in a field of flowers. The colors are warm. He kind-of reminds me of a British redcoat. He seems as if he is pondering something, tho not something unpleasant. According to the dictionary (one of my favorite references,) a valet is a man’s male servant who performs personal services. I think of batons as sticks. Sticks are natural things that come in all shapes and sizes. They are no longer living. This man is the Valet of Sticks, so he performs personal services for the natural world and those who love it. He likes to be outside doing stuff, but because he is immature, he does not have a great sense of direction in life in terms of what he wants. He knows what he should do, and he knows what is in his line of work, so, in general, he does what he is told. But because he loves the natural world so much, he also loves to explore. This leads him wandering down unexplored paths at inopportune times.


The Valet de Denier wears his fancy flower-embroidered uniform near a diamonded fence. He is a young man who performs services for money. Any blue collar worker (and he is blue indeed) can relate to this. He holds a big coin in his hand as if to say, “Hey! I just got my paycheck!” I think he is eager to learn what kinds of things he can do to make money. Until he matures, he might not care so much about the ethical side of the work he becomes engaged in. He knows that money is powerful but he isn’t sure why.


The Troi de Epees is black with a yellow border, as are all the epees in this deck. I call them blades. The backgrounds of the blades remind me of chalkboards, and the squiggly designs remind me physics equations or something I can’t comprehend.


What this says to me about my ability to read pips intuitively is this:


Like the Valet de Baton, I often run off into the woods without a proscribed trail. I do like to follow trails, one after another, but I do not know where I am going and I don’t necessarily care. I simply enjoy the woods.


Like the Valet de Denier, I hope to find a tiny bit of worldly success off what I do. But the success I will have at relating to plain pips in a worldly manner without outside influence will be mighty small. However, I know an awful lot and I can learn put it to use.


Finally, if I expect to be able to find insight using the pips alone without outside reference whatsoever, I will find nothing but blackness, indecipherable scribbles, and frustration illustrated on the Troi de Epees. This is but a small failure: a normal, every-day failure that occurs when one is not interested enough in the task at hand.

Strength — Three of Swords — Seven of Coins — Russian Tarot of St. Petersburgh

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Artist: Yuri Shakov


Last night, in an attempt at sleep, I read the entirety of Wang’s An Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot. Unfortunately, I found it riveting. I want to try moving towards multiple card readings. I would like to try to remember the stories behind how one card relates to the other. I draw three cards— past, present, future.


The past is Strength. Not that Strength is past, but that physical Strength was the most obvious manifestation of my very-independent Self. That Self has past in the direction of the Three of Swords. The body and one’s apparent independence are ultimately impossible to hold onto. It is best to become less attached to them before necessary. This decreases heartache and increases freedom. The Three of Swords leads onward to the Seven of Coins. Having a child is always the Seven of Coins. I imagine the investment is perpetual, tho one hopes to put less effort into it over time. And I imagine harvest thus:


—hunting for ripe blackberries at the beginning of the season—

among the brambles
not quite out of reach
one sun-kissed drupe
placed upon the tongue
evokes a wash of purple
dripping from the sky
melting over thorns
a be-here-now
of sunlight

in the mouth

Three of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Artist: Jessica Rose Shanahan


[Annotation: I was having a terrible time figuring out what this card meant, and thus I could not illustrate it. Then one day, walking through the public library, I saw a woman with a tattoo on her neck: three swords piercing a heart! Delightful! After speaking with her, I wrote the following.]


The opposite of heartache
still is freedom.
It is the hand of the heart
that holds the blade.
And tho this heartache
is a necessary part of living,
it is also but a sign of holding on.
Release the blade.
Release the blade
and see what comes of love.
Release the blade and watch
the wings of your own heart
emerge like those of butterflies—
wings trapped within
some thin, translucent shell—
Release— and feel
the wings of your own heart
begin to beat—
Release and find—
It is holding on that brings
the only necessary hurt
of living.

Three of Swords — Fantasy Showcase Tarot

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Jim OdbertArtist: Jim Odbert


From the LWB*:

Meaning: Sorrow; strife in love.

Reversed: Disarray in love affairs; caution against loss.


Again, the same card two days in a row. I said, “Tell me something about printing my tarot deck.” I am really looking for advice. I got a few estimates. I have to decide how many decks I want to print, what size the deck should be, how to package it, and (especially) how much money I want to spend up front. I’m beginning to settle on a limited edition of 500 signed and numbered copies. I would kinda like to package them in a folio-type cover, tied closed by ribbon, designed & stamped. It would take a while to make those folio covers, tho. The printing company I’m thinking of going with doesn’t seem to make card boxes, but they have a reputation for very good card quality and they do small runs. I’m horrible at marketing.


So anyhow, I drew the Three of Swords reversed which, according to this little white book, can mean “caution against loss.” I can’t think of what that might refer to other than loss of money. I’m really pretty paranoid about losing money in this endeavor. I’ve already spent so much time drawing the pictures. I mean, I guess it just might not get as spectacular reception as I’ve hoped. That would feel like a loss. Or sorrow. What about sorrow is not loss or loss is not sorrow? I do hope for a lot in terms of what others think of my work, but there are so many people and so many opinions. Like color? Not this deck! “Traditional” tarot symbolism? Not much here! Conformity? Forget it! But if you want some new ideas, a new way of looking at things, I have a story to tell in rich black and voluptuous curves and eventually, some day, words.


Anyone out there who wants to tell me what they really like in a deck and how it is packaged is more than welcome to (please) let me know!


*Little White Book of Possibly Arbitrary Meanings


Three of Guns — PoMo Tarot

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Brian WilliamsArtist & Author: Brian Williams


My younger sister is visiting. Not wanting to wake her with my early-morning kitchen antics, I put the sprouted rye berries in the pot with the 10-hour home-cooked all organic beef broth and did NOT set the timer, despite the fact that I forget everything except my bladder if I do not set a timer for it these days. “I won’t forget this time,” I said to myself. I sat down at the computer and forgot immediately. Soon enough, the smoke alarm went off. It is a bit louder than the kitchen timer, to say the least, and now the house is full of smoke. The worst part is that I ruined the most delightful broth on the planet! Oh! Such love went into that broth—


Will I be doomed to setting timers for everything for the rest of my life? I drew a card from my “new” Brian Williams PoMo Tarot Deck for my forgetfulness. Three of Guns.


From the book:

Threat, scare, alarm, disquiet. To catch a wolf by the ears, an eel by the tail. To suffer indignities, to eat crow, avaler des coulevres, to swallow adders. Ir por lana y volver trasquilado, to go for wool and return shorn, spare the rod spoil the child. Qui amie bien châtie bien, who loves well chastises well.

Conditioned aversion; once burned, twice shy; and repression, forgetting all about that hot stove. Dare in guardia la lattuga ai paperi, to trust the lettuce to the geese, raccomandare il lardo alla gatta, the lard to the cat.


The deck tells me: “It is better to wake your sister than to burn the house down out of politeness.” There is nothing wrong with setting timers for everything the rest of my life— as long as I remember to set the timer.


I love Brian Williams, may he rest in peace.

Three of Swords — La Corte dei Tarocchi

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011


Artist: Anna Maria D’Onofrio


[I didn’t really want to draw this card. I wanted the one above it, but this one fell out of the deck so I felt obliged to take it.]


The three of swords is
that normal-sort of heartbreak—
when you live and things hurt
because you are willing to feel them.


If you aren’t willing to feel
nothing hurts
but that is not living.


It is very difficult to stay not-living
while walking on this earth.
Not even people-hating people are non-living.
People-hating people hurt and hate
and maybe live in heartache more
than you or I with broken hearts.


Zombie-people are the sort
who never draw the three of swords.
I do not know what sort of cards they draw—
they have no future and no past because
they are not present.


Maybe, soul-less, they draw the devil every time
and devils only devils.
Maybe I am wrong— perhaps
they draw threes of swords one after another—
threes and threes of swords that scream—
feel something! feel something!— but—
they cannot hear because
they are not present. Silence.


Zombie is a state of deep, near-death addiction
where times of lucidity are so few or never that
no light comes in and then there is no point
and then there is no living— real death—
beyond which there cannot be feeling like we feel—
feeling that makes us alive.
Feeling makes us alive. Be thankful and
be thankful for the three of swords.