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For centuries, the love-struck, lovesick, and lovelorn have consulted the tarot-a tradition still thriving today. Tall Dark Stranger makes it easy for anyone to explore matters of the heart through tarot.
Corrine Kenner's tour of the tarot begins with its colorful, romantic history. She goes on to describe the deck itself-explaining its structure, suits, symbolism, archetypes, and astrological associations-while relating its special significance in love and relationships. The ...
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For centuries, the love-struck, lovesick, and lovelorn have consulted the tarot-a tradition still thriving today. Tall Dark Stranger makes it easy for anyone to explore matters of the heart through tarot.
Corrine Kenner's tour of the tarot begins with its colorful, romantic history. She goes on to describe the deck itself-explaining its structure, suits, symbolism, archetypes, and astrological associations-while relating its special significance in love and relationships. The second part of the book is devoted to the nitty-gritty of tarot readings: choosing a deck, preparing for a reading, asking appropriate questions, timing events, and interpreting cards and spreads. By the end of the book, readers will have a powerful edge in conquering the ever-mysterious ways of love.
Tarot's Romantic History
For centuries, the Tarot has been used to answer questions about love and romance.
From teenage girls in Renaissance Italy to contemporary cartomancers, the cards have been shuffled and spread in search of tall, dark strangers.
Love at First Sight
Picture yourself in Italy, in the year 1440. You are living during a momentous time in history. The Renaissance has begun, and culture is literally being reborn. For the next two hundred years, society and culture will undergo a dramatic transformation, as Europeans leave the dark ages of medieval times behind and give birth to the modern world.
The leading thinkers and artists of the day are inspired by the golden age of Greece.
Age-old myths are told and retold, and the ancient gods and goddesses are everywhere-
in art, in song, in poetry, and in drama. Young people are even memorizing the classic philosophical works of Plato and Aristotle.
In the winter of 1440, a teenage girl named Bianca Maria Visconti found herself immersed in the heart of Renaissance art and culture when she was sent to visit the royal court of d'Este in Ferrara, Italy, a regional center of Renaissance art and culture.
Bianca was the daughter of a duke, so she was a member of high society. In those days, young nobles would travel from palace to palace to study and spend time together.
Their pursuit was high-minded: the young aristocrats were preparing to assume the rulership of their country. So by day, Bianca and her friends would read, ponder, and debate the great works of science, history, and literature.
But at night, theyplayed cards.
Bianca was especially fond of a new card game called tarocchi. It was a complicated pastime, because it involved a whole host of literary and mythological figures, all of whom embodied the virtues and ideals of the ancient Greeks and Romans. There were twenty-two cards that depicted allegorical figures like Justice, the Wheel of Fortune,
and the Moon. There were also four suits in each deck, numbered one through ten, as well as four sets of court cards-a page, a knight, a queen, and a king.
Bianca was so captivated by the game that when it was time for her to go home in January 1441, one of her friends gave her a set of fourteen hand-painted cards to take with her. And later that year, when Bianca was engaged to marry a young man named Francesco Sforza, her father Filippo actually commissioned a deck of his own to commemorate the wedding.
Bianca's tarocchi deck, of course, was the forerunner of today's Tarot. And Bianca's wedding deck, the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, is one of the oldest Tarot decks still in existence.
To this date, it also rates as one of the most romantic decks of all time. In fact, the Lovers card may even be a portrait of the newlyweds Bianca and Francesco, dressed in their wedding best. Many of the surviving cards are housed at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City, and you can find replicas of the deck practically anywhere Tarot cards are sold.
At first, tarocchi was a game reserved exclusively for royalty and upper-class socialites like Bianca. Typically, adventurous noblemen would discover card games on their travels,
and then bring them home to entertain the ladies at court. From there, the pastime spread-to the cooks in the kitchen, the maids throughout the palace, the gardeners.
Before long, the game moved off of the palace grounds and out into the rest of society.
Initially, Bianca may have been attracted to the game because the cards themselves were breathtaking. Every card was a miniature masterpiece, hand-painted with expensive pigments that had been ground from semiprecious stones and gilded with real gold.
Later, the designs were simplified a bit, as wood-block printing made it relatively easy and inexpensive to produce card decks for the masses. Playing cards soared in popularity. Parents even bought specially designed decks for their children to use-in part, to keep them entertained, but also in the hope that their children would pick up a few moral lessons from the game.
The Game of Life
Ultimately, a core set of ethical values and beliefs were at the heart of tarocchi. While most people treated the cards as a game, it was a game with meaning-because those who played it, like Bianca and her friends, were well versed in the allegorical symbolism of the cards.
Renaissance people were trained to see beyond the literal and the obvious. They spoke the secret language of symbols that was firmly woven throughout their culture and their studies. That language was the foundation of their worldview.
Bianca and her friends had been taught that the world was a place of symmetry and order. They believed that four elements-earth, water, air, and fire-combined to form the physical world. They believed that mankind was the measure of all things and that humanity's place was squarely at the center of the universe.
They also studied the metaphoric language of astrology, in which the movement of the planets measured and reflected the forces that shaped human existence. They knew that the sun was more than a mass of incandescent gas: it represented enlightenment and the illumination of God's will.
Bianca and her friends were well versed in the corresponding symbolism of mythology,
too. They knew that Apollo was the Roman god of the sun, Venus was the goddess of love, and Mars was the god of war. When mythological figures appeared on the first Tarot cards, Bianca wasn't confused: she knew that the Magician was closely allied with Mercury, the trickster and messenger of the gods, and she understood that Cupid would naturally make an appearance on the Lovers card.
Other ancient gods and goddesses from the cards were also present in daily life, personified and clothed in the guise of the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity, as well as the Greco-Roman virtues of justice, fortitude, temperance, and prudence. In fact, images of Christian life abound in the Tarot. During the fifteenth century, Pope Pius II and Cardinals Bessarion and Cusa even used tarocchi cards with allegorical images to enhance their discussions during a church council in Mantua.
The Language of Love
Tarot cards were first developed in Italy and then spread to France. Given the fact that those are two of the most romantic cultures in history, it's probably not surprising that the Tarot's first language is the language of love. In fact, some of the Tarot's design might even be based on the starry-eyed poetry of a hapless Italian romantic named Francesco Petrarch.
In 1327, when Francesco was twenty-three, he met a nineteen-year-old blonde named Laura-at church, no less. Unfortunately, Laura was married, so Francesco was consigned to love her from afar. When Laura died of the plague shortly after their first encounter-heartbreakingly young and still beautiful-Francesco wrote a poem called
"To Laura in Death," in which he pined, "To be able to say how much you love is to love but little."
Throughout Francesco's life, he continued to dedicate his musings to poor, dead Laura. His poetic masterpiece, the Trionfi, describes six allegorical figures: Love, Chastity,
Death, Fame, Time, and Divinity. The poem is important to Tarot historians, because each one of those figures is remarkably similar to the images depicted on the early tarocchi cards.
In the poem, Love conquers ordinary men-like Francesco himself.
But then Chastity comes along and conquers Love, just as the chaste young Laura declined Francesco's advances.
Death defeats Chastity in the same way that the plague had stolen Laura away.
But then Fame defeats Death. To illustrate, Francesco describes how Laura's memory lived on even though she was gone.
Time has the upper hand, however. It trumps even Fame, because those who once knew Laura also pass away, and Laura's memory is slowly erased from the face of the earth.
Finally, Eternity triumphs over Time, as Francesco looks forward to rejoining his beloved, forever, in the afterlife.
The Dawn of Divination
The symbolism and depth of the early Tarot images naturally inspired at least one form of divination: some players used the cards to improvise clever sonnets about other people,
which they called tarocchi appropriati.
Over time, the structure and the symbolism of the cards also lent themselves to use as a more traditional fortune-telling device-similar, in many ways, to other systems of divination that were already in use, like dice. Eventually, some experts believe, wandering bands of Gypsies picked up and spread the practice of telling fortunes with Tarot cards, and they've been associated with the art ever since.
The Gypsies had migrated away from their native home in northern India during the mid-ninth century, and they moved west through Afghanistan and Persia. In smaller groups they crossed Egypt, Spain, Turkey, and Greece. In 1417, Gypsies were first reported in Germany. By 1430, they were also in England.
In Europe, many people mistakenly believed that Gypsies were the descendants of ancient Egyptians-hence their name. In some places, Gypsies were also known as
"Bohemians," because their route into Europe brought them through Bohemia.
Wherever they went, Gypsies earned money as acrobats, animal trainers, musicians,
dancers, and singers. For a price, the Gypsies would also read palms, tea leaves, and crystals. Ultimately, the Gypsies became legendary for their skill at divination with playing cards. Eventually, they helped romanticize the use of Tarot cards for fortune telling.
In Russia, a teenage peasant girl named Zaira seems to have learned the Gypsies' art of card reading. In 1765, when she became the traveling love slave of the notorious Giacomo Casanova, she took her cards with her.
In his memoirs, Casanova gushed about her physical beauty, but he also reported that her dependence on the cards was a serious character flaw.
"Her skin was as white as snow," he wrote, "and her ebony tresses covered the whole of her body, save in a few places where the dazzling whiteness of her skin shone through. Her eyebrows were perfectly shaped, and her eyes, though they might have been larger, could not have been more brilliant or more expressive. . . . If it had not been for her furious jealousy, and her blind confidence in fortune telling by cards,
which she consulted every day, Zaira would have been a paragon among women, and I should never have left her."
Casanova recounted the episode that nearly forced him to abandon his young lover:
One morning, after a wild night on the town without her, Casanova returned to find Zaira enraged. She had "seen" his exploits in her cards. His description of a fortuneteller's spread she used is actually the first such description we have on record.
"I got home, and, fortunately for myself, escaped the bottle which Zaira flung at my head, and which would infallibly have killed me if it had hit me. She threw herself on to the ground, and began to strike it with her forehead. I thought she had gone mad,
and wondered whether I had better call for assistance; but she became quiet enough to call me assassin and traitor, with all the other abusive epithets that she could remember.
To convict me of my crime she showed me twenty-five cards, placed in order, and on them she displayed the various enormities of which I had been guilty."
Macho man that he was, Casanova simply threw Zaira's "damned grimoire" into the fire and threatened to leave. She apologized profusely and reportedly never touched another card.
The Magic and Mysticism of the Cards
Before long, Tarot aficionados all across Europe were using Tarot cards for divination and related pursuits. Most of them used a deck that is still available today-the French Marseille Tarot. One of the mystic scholars was Antoine Court de Gebelin, a Swiss pastor.
He was the first person known to seriously pursue the use of Tarot cards for "esoteric"
or secret studies.
In 1781 Gebelin announced that the Tarot was actually a secret book of ancient wisdom passed down from the ancient Egyptians. Unfortunately, he made up the theory out of thin air. Eighteen years later, in 1799, archeologists discovered the Rosetta Stone,
which made it possible for scholars to translate hieroglyphics for the first time. Since then, despite many rumors to the contrary, no one has ever found a link between the Tarot and ancient Egypt.
Gebelin's book, Le Monde Primitive (or The Primitive World), was notable for one thing: it included the first two essays we have on record about esoteric Tarot. Gebelin found a fan and a follower in Jean-Baptiste Alliette, a wig maker who reversed the spelling of his name and used the pen name Etteilla. He was the first to develop correspondences between Tarot, astrology, and the four ancient elements of earth, air, fire,
Etteilla also wrote two books about divination with cards: the first, in 1770, focused on regular playing cards; the second, in 1785, was dedicated to Tarot cards. In about
1788, he published the first Tarot deck specifically designed for divination.
The trend continued with Alphonse Louis Constant, who used the pen name Eliphas Levi. He wrote a book based on the twenty-two trump cards-the first to link the Tarot with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It was a milestone for Tarot interpretation.
Dr. Gerard Encausse took the process a step further by issuing cards based upon Levi's ideas; they were signed by a man named Oswald Wirth. Encausse's book The Tarot of the Bohemians claimed that the cards had originated in Egypt and traveled with the Gypsies.
Meanwhile, mysticism was growing in popularity all across Europe.
In Paris, a fortune teller named Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand was renowned for her card-reading skills. Although her deck wasn't a Tarot deck, her technique set the tone for generations of seers to follow. In fact, variations of her thirty-six-card deck still exist. It's known as the Petit Lenormand or the Gypsy Witch deck, and it's still popular with cartomancers-people who tell fortunes with cards.
Marie Lenormand was born in Alencon, France, in 1772. When she was fourteen,
she started studying astrology, mythology, Tarot, and numerology. During the French Revolution at the end of that century, members of the upper class visited her salon in Paris's Rue de Tournan to get their fortunes told. Unfortunately, some of them didn't have much of a future, and Lenormand occasionally had to tell them they were doomed.
Marie even read cards for the Emperor Napoleon and his wife Josephine. Marie reportedly met them at a swanky, high-society party. Napoleon reportedly laughed out loud when she predicted that he would ascend to the throne of France. But later, when her prophecy came true and Marie followed up by predicting Napoleon's eventual divorce from Josephine, the emperor had Marie imprisoned until the split was final.
And later, when Marie predicted the fall of his empire, Napoleon banished her from Paris.
Modern Tarot was born in 1909, when a scholar named Arthur Edward Waite designed a new Tarot deck and asked an artist named Pamela Coleman Smith to execute his designs.
By trade, Smith was a stage designer and set decorator. She used her theater background to add drama to the Tarot deck by painting a scenic illustration on every single card. Until then, the only cards that featured people and places were the Major Arcana cards. Minor Arcana cards generally consisted of a repeated motif, such as six cups in a row, or seven swords. Smith's illustrations worked as a prompt for each card's meaning,
and the concept revolutionized the Tarot.
Both Waite and Smith also found inspiration from their membership in a turn-ofthe-
century secret society called the Order of the Golden Dawn. Both Waite and Smith were active members of the group, which was similar in many ways to other secret societies,
such as the Masons. The Golden Dawn borrowed liberally from other esoteric studies, and the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, as a result, incorporates many elements from astrology and kabbalah.
While you don't need to know anything about the Golden Dawn, Masonry, astrology,
or kabbalah to use Tarot cards, you'll undoubtedly notice symbols and signs that are derived from their work. The more obvious examples are described in this book and examined in a little more detail in the chapters on astrology and kabbalah.
Most beginner's books and classes are based on Rider-Waite-style imagery, and most Tarot readers are well versed with the images on each card. Many Tarot readers consider it the standard by which all other Tarot decks are compared, if not judged. In fact, most of the meanings and correspondences listed in this book as "traditional" are derived from Waite's descriptions of each card.
Acknowledgments / xiii Preface / xiv Introduction / xvi
Part I: History and Mystery
Chapter One: Tarot's Romantic History / 3
Love at First Sight / 3
The Game of Life / 5
The Language of Love / 6
The Dawn of Divination / 7
The Magic and Mysticism of the Cards / 8
Modern Love / 9
Chapter Two: Stacking the Deck / 11
Size Matters / 11
The Archetypes of the Major Arcana / 12
The Minor Arcana / 14
Elements of Attraction / 15
The Suit of Wands / 16
The Suit of Cups / 17
The Suit of Swords / 17
The Suit of Pentacles / 18
Courting Favors / 19
Opposites Attract: The Duality of the Tarot Deck / 20
Chapter Three: The Secret Language of Symbols / 21
Symbols and Stories / 21
The Objects of Your Desire: Basic Symbolism / 22
A Great Hue and Cry: The Symbolism of Color / 23
Figuratively Speaking: The Symbolism of Numbers / 23
It's Elementary: The Symbolism of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth / 27
Branching Out: The Symbolism of the Tree of Life / 28
Chapter Four: Astrology and the Tarot / 31
Signs from Above / 31
Sun Sign Correspondences / 32
Made for Each Other / 32
Aries and the Emperor Card / 33
Taurus and the Hierophant Card / 33
Gemini and the Lovers Card / 34
Cancer and the Chariot Card / 34
Leo and the Strength Card / 35
Virgo and the Hermit Card / 35
Libra and the Justice Card / 36
Scorpio and the Death Card / 36
Sagittarius and the Temperance Card / 37
Capricorn and the Devil Card / 38
Aquarius and the Star Card / 38
Pisces and the Moon Card / 39
Planetary Correspondences / 39
Minor Arcana Correspondences / 41
Court Card Correspondences / 41
Moon Madness / 42
Chapter Five: How Does the Tarot Work? / 43
Art Imitates Life / 43
Purely Academic / 44
Psychic Forces / 44
Synchronized Swimming / 45
Quantum Leaps / 46
Chapter Six: Meet Your Match / 49
How to Choose a Deck / 49
How to Personalize Your Deck / 50
How to Take Care of Your Deck / 51
Chapter Seven: Get Ready to Read / 53
Set the Mood / 53
Prepare Yourself / 55
Prepare Your Partner / 58
Chapter Eight: Tarot Ethics / 61
The Do's and Don'ts of Tarot Reading / 61
A Tarot Reader's Code of Ethics / 63
Chapter Nine: Popping the Question / 65
The Heart of the Matter / 65
Refining Common Questions / 67
Chapter Ten: Playing the Field / 71
Your Significant Other / 71
Mix It Up / 73
Spread the Cards / 74
Read Out Loud / 74
Analyze This / 76
Body Language / 77
Reversal of Fortune / 78
Read 'Em and Weep / 78
Happily Ever After / 80
Chapter Eleven: The Dating Game / 81
The Clock is Ticking / 81
Chapter Twelve: Spreads and Layouts / 85
Spread Your Wings / 85
Past, Present, Future / 86
Elements of a Relationship / 86
The Court Card Consultation / 87
The Celtic Cross / 88
Zodiac Spread / 90
Selective Spreads / 90
Part II: What's in the Cards
0. The Fool: A Leap of Faith / 95
I. The Magician: The Power of Love / 98
II. The High Priestess: Silence Is Golden / 101
III. The Empress: Mother Nature / 104
IV. The Emperor: Solid as a Rock / 106
V. The Hierophant: Tradition, Tradition / 108
VI. The Lovers: Opposites Attract / 110
VII. The Chariot: Driven to Distraction / 112
VIII. Strength: Brute Force / 114
IX. The Hermit: A Solitary Life / 116
X. The Wheel of Fortune: Spin Again / 118
XI. Justice: The Balance of Nature / 120
XII. The Hanged Man: Swept Off His Feet / 122
XIII. Death: The Kiss of Death / 124
XIV. Temperance: Mix and Match / 126
XV. The Devil: Face Your Demons / 128
XVI. The Tower: A Bolt from the Blue / 130
XVII. The Star: A Match Made in Heaven / 132
XVIII. The Moon: Some Enchanted Evening / 134
XIX. The Sun: Your Time to Shine / 136
XX. Judgment: Last Call / 138
XXI. The World: Last Dance / 140
The Ace of Wands: Light My Fire / 142
The Two of Wands: In Control / 144
The Three of Wands: Third Time's the Charm / 146
The Four of Wands: The Wedding Dance / 148
The Five of Wands: Lost in the Crowd / 150
The Six of Wands: A Hero's Welcome / 152
The Seven of Wands: King of the Hill / 154
The Eight of Wands: It's Electrifying / 156
The Nine of Wands: Sadder but Wiser / 158
The Ten of Wands: Carry On / 159
The Page of Wands: Playing with Fire / 161
The Knight of Wands: Fire and Lightning / 163
The Queen of Wands: Steam Heat / 165
The King of Wands: Hot, Hot, Hot / 167
The Ace of Cups: Your Cup Runneth Over / 169
The Two of Cups: A Toast to Romance / 171
The Three of Cups: Girls' Night Out / 173
The Four of Cups: Opportunity Knocks / 175
The Five of Cups: Crying over Spilled Milk / 177
The Six of Cups: Childhood Sweethearts / 179
The Seven of Cups: Dream Lovers / 181
The Eight of Cups: Looking for Love / 183
The Nine of Cups: Love Potion #9 / 185
The Ten of Cups: Love and Marriage / 187
The Page of Cups: Message in a Bottle / 189
The Knight of Cups: Prince Charming / 191
The Queen of Cups: Queen of Hearts / 193
The King of Cups: Still Waters Run Deep / 195
The Ace of Swords: Straight to the Point / 197
The Two of Swords: Second Chances / 199
The Three of Swords: Heartbreak / 201
The Four of Swords: Sleeping Beauty / 203
The Five of Swords: Spoils of War / 205
The Six of Swords: Crossing Over / 207
The Seven of Swords: Thief of Hearts / 209
The Eight of Swords: Damsel in Distress / 211
The Nine of Swords: The Nightmare / 213
The Ten of Swords: Crimes of Passion / 215
The Page of Swords: Man of Letters / 217
The Knight of Swords: Fire and Lightning / 219
The Queen of Swords: A Cut Above / 221
The King of Swords: Man of Steel / 223
The Ace of Pentacles: Let's Get Physical / 225
The Two of Pentacles: Balancing Act / 227
The Three of Pentacles: Form Follows Function / 229
The Four of Pentacles: Alone Again / 231
The Five of Pentacles: Poor in Spirit / 233
The Six of Pentacles: Charity Begins at Home / 235
The Seven of Pentacles: Harvest Time / 237
The Eight of Pentacles: Strut Your Stuff / 239
The Nine of Pentacles: A Garden of Earthly Delights / 241
The Ten of Pentacles: Grow Old with Me / 243
The Page of Pentacles: The Tall, Dark Stranger / 245
The Knight of Pentacles: Slow but Steady / 247
The Queen of Pentacles: A Woman of Substance / 249
The King of Pentacles: King of the World / 251
Appendix A: Sample Reading: John / 253
Zodiac Spread / 254
Appendix B: Sample Reading: Beth / 261
Celtic Cross / 262
Appendix C: Sample Reading: Julie and Bob / 267
Relationship Spread / 268
Appendix D: A Guide to Tarot Terms and Symbols / 271
Recommended Resources / 293
Posted September 24, 2005
If you've ever wondered what the cards hold in store for you -- especially when it comes to relationships -- you're just the person I had in mind when I wrote 'Tall Dark Stranger: Tarot for Love and Romance.' For centuries, the love-struck, the lovesick, and the lovelorn have consulted the tarot with questions about love and romance. The cards are a time-honored tool for exploring romantic relationships - and my book can help you use that tool to its fullest. With a copy of 'Tall Dark Stranger' at your side, you'll learn how to use tarot cards to reconstruct past events and decisions that have led to the present moment. You'll learn how to use tarot cards to reflect on the current situation. And you'll learn how to use tarot cards to explore options for future growth and development. The information you'll find in its pages is grounded in the work and studies of generations of tarot experts. But it goes beyond theory into the real world of practical application. Whether you are a newcomer to the tarot or an old hand at the cards, 'Tall Dark Stranger' will help you learn how to conduct romance readings, with step-by-step directions, tips, hints, and suggestions. You'll discover how you can get answers to specific questions about love and relationships. You'll find ways to interpret each of the tarot's seventy-eight cards in light of romance and relationship issues. You'll see how easy it is to spot symbols and images that directly relate to specific romantic issues. And you'll walk away knowing how to find good advice in 'bad' cards. All in all, you'll learn how to use a tarot card reading to change your life for the better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2010
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