A Magical Course in Tarot: Reading the Cards in a Whole New Way

A Magical Course in Tarot: Reading the Cards in a Whole New Way

by Michele Morgan

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"With a highly readable, hip writing style, Ms. Morgan unveils the rich and magical process of how to read the cards." -James Wanless, Ph.D., author of Voyager Tarot and Way of the Great Oracle

As interest in spirituality and divine guidance continues to grow, more and more readers are turning to the ancient art of Tarot. A Magical Course in Tarot

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"With a highly readable, hip writing style, Ms. Morgan unveils the rich and magical process of how to read the cards." -James Wanless, Ph.D., author of Voyager Tarot and Way of the Great Oracle

As interest in spirituality and divine guidance continues to grow, more and more readers are turning to the ancient art of Tarot. A Magical Course in Tarot offers an unprecedented understanding of this mysterious art. Appealing to both novice and experienced Tarot readers, Michele Morgan's method taps into the psychic energies that are inherent in everyone. Morgan's strategy, which can be applied to any of the various Tarot decks, allows the reader to begin reading cards after the first chapter.

Accompanied by 78 beautifully penned original illustrations, this guide is divided into three sections, including how to follow one's instincts, traditional and historical meanings of the cards, and a detailed analysis on the interactions among the cards.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A professional psychic, Tarot counselor and teacher, Morgan (Simple Wicca) carefully guides readers in using "a centuries-old mystical tool for communication with the Divine" the 78 cards of the Tarot. From "choosing, keeping and caring for your deck" to illustrated, card-by-card explanations, Morgan gets readers up and running quickly by fostering intuitive takes on what comes up, before tackling "spreads, timelines and why the king and queen aren't speaking." (Feb. 7) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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"With a highly readable, hip writing style, Ms. Morgan unveils the rich and magical process of how to read the cards." -James Wanless, Ph.D., author of Voyager Tarot and Way of the Great Oracle

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A Magical Course in Tarot

Reading the Cards in a Whole New Way


Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2002 Michele Morgan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-329-5


The Voice, and a Deck of Cards Using the Tarot to Access Intuition

What is the intuitive voice? How do you learn to listen, to distinguish it from all the other voices that clamor and contest for your attention? The voices of intellect and ego; of reason and ridicule; how do you still your mind and allow the whisper of your instinctual nature to rise and be heard above the din?

We live in a world of noise. Where our ancestors once awakened to the cock's crow and the rush of the wind through the trees, most of us come up out of bed each day by electronic buzz or hyper-caffeinated morning DJs. Nights of wolves and cricket song have long been replaced by late-night talk shows and discordant neighbors; we meditate with earplugs, attempt yoga poses tangled in the wires of headphones, and sleep to digital recordings of ancient oceans, trying to conjure sanctuary.

And the hours between waking and sleeping? Traffic, computers, ringing phones, low-flying aircraft, construction sites, twenty-four-hour cartoon networks—feel free to add your own favorites to the nearly endless list. And these are just the auditory confusions and stimuli of modern life. The greatest cacophony of all occurs within the coliseum of the human mind, and these musicians never sleep, not even when the ocean you hear from your bedside is real.

Jungian-influenced therapies and archetypal systems have their labels for these rabble rousers—the Wounded Child, the Shadow, the Inner Critic, etc. It is with the input of these very human voices that most of us create our lives. We follow their lead into unhealthy relationships and soul-starved professions, stay at their bidding despite our own misery, and stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they wage war on us regarding the very decisions they helped us to make. I call them The Committee. They gather in a pack, circling, saying Black when you say White, and to distinguish your own truth from theirs, let alone get them to be still, often seems a feat on par with finding the Holy Grail.

Intuition is a voice that resides separate from these. Scientists have divided the brain very neatly into two "hemispheres": the left, wielding logic and rational thinking; the right, ruling creativity and instinct. Intuition lies somewhere between, snuggling with the pineal gland, considered the center of faith in the body. It is the whisper of the gods, conveying its messages via the solar plexus, strung between faith and personal power like tin cans tied to a string. This nearly silent relay of information and energy, from the Third Eye to the third chakra, is what creates the "gut feeling"—the layperson's term for a psychic hit.

That Little Voice Inside

You know the feeling. That stirring, just below your rib cage, that tells of something beyond what is presenting itself in the moment; something deeper, asking to be known. Sometimes it's a warning, sometimes, a longing; as simple as knowing who's calling before you pick up the phone, as complex as recognizing faces or landscapes that in reality you have yet to see.

Think back to those moments when something inside just told you to and you acted. Turning left instead of right at the end of an unfamiliar street, and finding the perfect little rental house with a view of the lake and a landlord who loves cats. Avoiding the macaroni salad at great-aunt Margaret's eightieth birthday party (despite your mother's insistence that second-cousin Missy would be mortally offended if you didn't at least take a bite) and finding out days later that everyone else at the celebration ended up in the local emergency room that night with food poisoning.

Now, think back to the times when you heard that same quiet, unassuming voice, and you didn't follow it. Ka-boom! Or, at the very least, Ouch! Those dead-end relationships and careers mentioned earlier? If reflected upon honestly, there was always a moment before, one solitary heartbeat when you knew, just knew, that you were in for it.

Fight or flight is the primordial reflex kin to intuition; moments of serendipity and luck are its offspring. Trusted, practiced, believed in, that feeling of knowing will eventually morph into words and pictures, and you'll have a full-blown psychic experience.

So what is the difference between intuition and psychic energy? In my world, they are one and the same, separated only by degrees, and I tend to interchange the words at whim. Here, for the sake of definition, I will say intuition is the more ethereal of the two: wilder, perhaps, and less defined; more feminine in energy, the yin to psychic's yang. Think faeries in a woodland glade, fluttering in and out of the shadows, wanting you to follow them into the trees but not necessarily willing to draw you a map.

Psychic, on the other hand, is Merlin—propelling Arthur through the forest, opening portals in the sides of rocks, and otherwise offering up the Mysteries of his own volition. Psychic energy is no more tame than intuition, but it is channeled and more focused; the master to intuition's yearling nature. The moral of this story? You have to believe in faeries for awhile, before you can apprentice to Merlin.

On a practical note, the term intuitive seems to be more politically correct—and somehow easier for other people to accept—while the word psychic carries a distinctly dark and theatrical flair. This sense of drama around all things psychic might explain the popularity and proliferation of 1-900 Psychic Hotlines. Not to invalidate these kinds of services, just the hype surrounding them and the sideshow image that ensues—something I've sought to dispel every day of my career. No gypsy caravans or belly jewels here! (At least none that belong to this lifetime.)

I've known excellent psychics who worked for 1-900 services, and I've also had clients who were robbed blind by them. As in any profession, there are artisans, and there are snake oil peddlers—the responsibility for choosing a valid psychic ultimately lies in the lap of the seeker. (More on how to choose a psychic in chapter 14.) My biggest complaint with any of the spiritual or occult practitioners out there is the perpetuation of negative and discrediting stereotypes. As a result of the perceptual discrepancies and the existing clichés, there are times when I am careful to describe myself as a professional intuitive, and others, when I fly the psychic flag unabashedly. How do I discern which is appropriate? Why, I follow the faeries into the woods, of course....

Everyone is intuitive. Everyone can master psychic ability. It is not some rare gift, imparted to a select few; it is a spiritual muscle, part of the framework of the conscious human. To say that one person is more intuitive than another is akin to saying one person is more spiritual than another. We are all spiritual; the question is whether or not we choose to develop and express our spiritual natures, of which intuition is principal.

Intuitive information makes itself available in a variety of ways. Just as there are five physical senses to the human experience, so too are there five "channels" of psychic or intuitive input: seeing pictures or images, sometimes known as clairvoyance; (2) hearing sounds or words, sometimes known as clairaudience; (3) energy sensitivity, sometimes known as empathic ability; even through (4 and 5) a psychosomatic experience of taste and smell perceived beyond physical reality. These "Astral Senses," as termed by occultists, operate not through the normal external stimuli, but are connected to and accessed by the state of knowing that rises up within us via the intuitive pathway. Some people are more inclined toward a particular sense; others receive information from several, or from all five.

These inner senses unfurl like antennae and reach out beyond our physical and emotional bodies, probing other planes of energy and existence. These other realms are often referred to by specific names, such as the superconscious, the etheric plane, or the fourth dimension. I think of them all as a great big energy stream, pouring along just above our heads, with the collective voice of every soul that has ever existed chattering away inside. The point of strengthening your intuitive/psychic muscle is to be able to dip into this stream at will, consciously focus on a certain voice or voices, and access the most pertinent information for whatever your need.

Much has been written regarding the science of developing psychic ability, the necessity for tools such as meditation and breathing, and the purposeful practice of reaching "alpha" state, where brain wave frequency slows to between seven and fourteen cycles per second, in order to access the higher levels of consciousness. I believe in the importance of any practice that carries us into spiritual silence, and I agree that in order to cultivate intuition, it pays to have good garden tools. However, I also believe there is a distinct difference between science and spirituality, and sometimes the mechanics of science get in the way of the magic of experience. Intuition is much like desire, which requires more faith and faerie dust than physics to materialize. Don't get me wrong—science has its place. But in this particular forest, enchantment is the path to Merlin's door.

It's All in the Cards

Enter the Tarot, a centuries-old mystical tool for connection and communication with the Divine. Comprised of seventy-eight cards, each one with a specific and profound message, the Tarot speaks in an ancient and evocative language of symbols, charting the evolution of the soul and the mysteries of life. This system of archetypal and emotional imagery makes the Tarot an unprecedented vehicle for spiritual inquiry and intuitive growth.

The mind relates through words and images; the heart, through feelings; the soul, through an innate sense of connection to our God-self. The Tarot links all three by way of universal symbolism, creating a doorway through which the intuitive senses are set free to explore, gather, and translate timeless spiritual wisdom.

The origins of the Tarot are as mysterious as the cards themselves. Stories circulate of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and Hindu beginnings; hand-painted cards, circa 1500, from Germany, France, and Italy still survive. It has been speculated that Tarot began first as gaming cards, then became a tool for Gypsy fortune telling; still others believe the cards were used by monks as a means of recording and preserving ancient texts. This cryptic history only adds to the Tarot's appeal. That no one knows the true genesis of the cards, yet all can understand their language, is Spirit at its magical best.

When I hold a deck in my hands, I am reminded, always with wonder, that thousands of other hearts and souls have crossed through this same doorway, transcending time, religion, and the mercurial nature of the human condition to come to a common place, seeking answers from God. And my poet's soul imagines the many hands that have turned the cards and how the questions those hearts have asked are likely not so different from mine.

Buddhists believe the way to enlightenment is through the silence. The Tarot is a remarkable tool for just such a quieting; steeped in symbology and myth, tangible, deliciously visual, it reaches far beyond our modern world, circumventing critics and shadows, carrying us back to a time before alarm clocks and traffic when God sang us awake through the trees.

In the following chapters, we're going to talk Tarot—prospect its symbolism, unearth its secrets, bandy about the rules and traditions, and break most of them in the process—and connect you to your own instinctual wisdom in a way that you've never been connected before. The Tarot is a gateway to Spirit, and while some define intuition as a sixth sense, the Tarot takes it beyond sense to an essence —the true voice of the soul.

Are you ready to plug in?


An Owner's Manual

Choosing, Keeping, and Caring for Your Deck

Modern-day playing cards—kin to the Tarot? Some sources say Yes, and the Tarot came first; others say the opposite. One story has the two decks evolving independently of one another and then later converging. What's certain is, not unlike other "relations," there are similarities between playing cards and Tarot cards, and there are differences.

Like its contemporary counterpart, the Tarot deck contains the Ace through Ten of four different suits, as well as corresponding Court cards. The suits in Tarot are traditionally known as Cups, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords, which parallel the Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades of a playing deck. And while playing cards have a Court of three, Tarot goes one better with a King, Queen, Prince (or Knight), and Princess (or Page) in each royal house.

These fifty-six cards, known as the pip cards of the Minor Arcana, take a slight back seat to the twenty-two trump cards (from the Latin triumph) known as the Major Arcana, whose messages are always of the highest order. The Minor Arcana represents earthly experience and every manner of human design; the Major Arcana, with such heady characters as the Magician, the Empress, the Lovers, and the Hanged Man, depicts the journey of the spiritual archetype, from innocence to completion, and everywhere in between. The Latin word Arcana translates to "Life Secrets." Is that delicious? We'll dish the specific symbology of the two Arcanas in chapter 6, but for now, let's go shopping!

Choosing a Deck

There are literally hundreds of different Tarot decks in print. And while most bookstores and specialty shops carry just a fraction of that, it can still seem an overwhelming task to pick from twenty or thirty different selections. So, how do you choose? Some sources will tell you never to buy a deck, that it must be given to you. Still others say, buy your deck and never accept one as a gift. I say, choose a deck that turns you on. A Tarot deck should incite your imagination and make you sigh....

There are some definite aspects to consider. First and foremost, how does the deck make you feel? Do the colors engage you? Is the mood of the imagery dark or lighthearted? Do you want a deck with a medieval feel or something more contemporary? Are you looking for a particular mythology, such as Native American, Celtic, or Greek? And what of the medium the artist has chosen—watercolor, fabric collage, pen and ink, or computer-enhanced images?

Aaargh! Too many things to think about, you say? I say, Relax. This is not really a "thinking" thing. Finding a Tarot deck is much like finding a friend; you begin with an idea of the attributes you're looking for, then trust in the connection when you meet. Besides, here is the perfect opportunity to practice the art of listening to your intuitive voice. More times than not, I have seen someone come into a store with a very particular deck in mind, only to leave with something quite different in hand, and more understanding of magic afoot.

Here's my favorite scenario. Make it a game. Go shopping for a deck on a day when you can spend some quality browsing time. Choose your favorite metaphysical shop or bookstore, or even plan on visiting more than one to compare the inventory. Before you walk in the door, ask your spirit guides, angels, or whomever you believe in to assist you in making the perfect selection. Ask them to make it obvious! Watch for things like one deck upside down on the shelf, when all the others are right side up; a Tarot deck mysteriously tucked in between Gardening for Beginners and The A to Z of Furniture Repair; a salesperson bringing brand-new inventory out to the floor, and your deck is first on the stack.

This can be tremendous fun, but with a warning: Watch out for falling decks! Literally—my first deck came to me when I went into a B. Dalton bookstore (this was before I realized there were actually "metaphysical" bookstores in the world) armed with intense desire and some extra holiday money. I asked my guides to "make it obvious," and as I was perusing the selection of decks at eye level (I'm only 5-foot-2), from the top shelf high above me, for absolutely no reason other than magical, The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber toppled from its perch and whacked me on the head. Now, this is a deck and book set, mind you, so we are talking about a pretty good whack. Needless to say, I went home with that deck, and a second, tamer selection of my own choosing, a bump on my head, and a new appreciation for spiritual intervention.

Excerpted from A Magical Course in Tarot by MICHELE MORGAN. Copyright © 2002 Michele Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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