Five Tarot Cards for Self-Love

Every September, tarot reader, lightworker, and all around goddess Kelly-Ann Maddox hosts Self-Love September, a celebration and an affirmation of the relationship we have with ourselves.

She posts content every other day for the whole of September discussing all manner of topics (confronting addiction, learning to trust your intuition, and forming strong boundaries have all popped up on the docket this year). For the past two years, she’s opened this celebration to the general public by inviting others to share their stories and struggles with self-love with the hashtags #selflovesept and #selflovestories so we can all find them and learn from their wisdom.

My self-love journey has been a long and arduous one. It may seem like I’ve always been this confident/prolific/active/involved, but I’ve spent plenty of time imprisoned by negative thought cycles and paralyzed by the false belief that I simply wasn’t good enough to see my dreams realized. Even though I’ve largely put my false belief system to bed and have embraced the expression of my truest self, I still have days when doubts creep in and threaten to slow my momentum. It’s on those days that I flip through my deck and pull out the cards I find most self-loving and channel their kind, nurturing vibes.

The Star

This card is known as tarot’s “healer,” and its message is indefinitely one of gentle self-care. I’m known to take a ritual bath when I’m feeling particularly funky, and as I’m adding the herbs and the salt and the oils and the crystals to this gorgeous watery concoction, the image of The Star never fails to pop into my mind’s eye.

The Star The Fountain Tarot

The Fountain Tarot, Self-Published, 2014

When I’m super busy and feeling a little burnt out, I set The Star on my altar to remind me that it’s time to take a step back and hold space for myself so that my mind, body, and spirit gets the R&R it needs to recuperate and regenerate.

The Nine of Pentacles

This card is so badass and body-positive that I count it among my top five faves in all of tarot. This woman is at peace in her prosperity, is confident in the continuous flow of abundance and is able and capable of caring for herself and building her empire.

Nine of Pentacles RWS Centennial Tarot Deck

RWS Centennial Edition, US Games, 2009

Whenever I’m feeling the sting of failure or an opportunity doesn’t pan out, I look to the Nine of Pentacles to remind me that there’s no shortage of abundance in the universe and that one small setback can never derail my passion and commitment to being the best self I can be.

The Queen of Cups

This is a card I look to when I feel that my well has begun to run dry. I spend so much time counseling and advising others that I sometimes forget to reflect on my own emotional landscape.

Queen of Cups Ostara Tarot

Ostara Tarot, Schiffer Publishing, 2017

The Queen of Cups reminds me to pull out my journal and write my furious thoughts so I can reach catharsis and release when I’m dealing with something heavy. She asks me to pull out my tarot cards and do a reading for myself so I may be privy to the same level of insight I offer others. And she reminds me to disconnect when things are way too overwhelming and I need a recess with my thoughts and feelings.

The Hermit

The Hermit asks me to spend some serious time at the altar to reconnect with my spiritual practice.

The Hermit Mary El Tarot

The Mary-El Tarot, Schiffer Publishing, 2012

He’s the voice that says please sit down and meditate this morning when I’m itching to launch straight into writing mode. He’s the force that carries my feet on long and aimless walks through the city and he’s the question I ask when I’m looking to connect with the great vastness of everything. He represents my spiritual practice, and if spiritual practice isn’t a strong component of self-love, I don’t know what is.

Temperance

There’s nothing more self-loving than recommitting yourself to temperance once you realize that you’ve dipped too far towards one extreme. We often fall out of balance when we feel insecure or out of control, and when fear and uncertainty guide our actions, we tend to make choices that don’t resonate with our highest good.

Temperance The Illuminated Tarot

The Illuminate Tarot, Clarkson Potter, 2017

Temperance is my year card this year, so I’ve deepened my relationship with the archetype to the extent that I know its importance in guiding us to a healthier, happier self. If you choose one card to channel on this list, let it be Temperance–your body, mind, and spirit deserve to feel well and in alignment.

Much Love and Happy Self-Love September,

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A Guide to Reading With The Illuminated Tarot

A quick announcement before we get to the “meat” of this article: Tarot Summer School is officially in session through August 2021, and if you’re a beginning reader who wants to master the archetypes in six weeks, this is THE way to do it. Learn More about Tarot Summer School

Queen of Hearts The Illuminated Tarot

Ever since I published my review of The Illuminated Tarot, I’ve been getting the same question from folks looking to work with the deck: how do you actually read with it?

This question blooms from the fact that The Illuminated Tarot is a 53-card deck while the tarot is a 78-card one. Creator Kaitlin Keegan combined some of the pips and the Major Arcana, a choice resulting in cards that represent two different archetypes simultaneously.

In other words, at least twenty-one cards in the deck can be read in at least three different ways, making an already complex system even more so.

Because I love this deck and believe that it would become an instant classic were it not for this difference, I’m putting forth a bitty primer on how to read The Illuminated Tarot based on my thoughts and experiences. If you’ve been having trouble working with The Illuminated Tarot or are hesitant to pick up the deck, it’s my sincere wish that this guide helps you read it with ease.

Method One | Choose the Pips (and the Courts)

The “pips” are the cards numbered 1-10 in each suit, and the court cards are the face cards in each suit. For the purposes of The Illuminated Tarot, the suits are as follows: Hearts (Cups), Diamonds (Pentacles), Spades (Swords), and Clubs (Aces). Within each of these suits, you’ll find archetypes from the Major Arcana inhabiting the same space as a pip or face card. Here’s a breakdown of the correspondences:

The Fool

The Magician | King of Clubs (Wands)

The High Priestess | Two of Diamonds (Pentacles)

The Empress | Queen of Hearts (Cups)

The Emperor | King of Spades (Swords)

The Hierophant | Five of Diamonds (Pentacles)

The Lovers | Six of Hearts (Cups)

The Chariot | Seven of Spades (Swords)

Strength | Ace of Clubs (Wands)

The Hermit | Nine of Diamonds (Pentacles)

The Wheel of Fortune | Ten of Hearts (Cups)

Justice | Eight of Spades (Swords)

The Hanged Man | Two of Spades (Swords)

Death | Four of Spades (Swords)

Temperance | Two of Hearts (Cups)

The Devil | Five of Clubs (Wands)

The Tower | Six of Clubs (Wands)

The Star | Seven of Diamonds (Pentacles)

The Moon | Eight of Hearts (Cups)

The Sun | Nine of Clubs (Wands)

Judgement | Ten of Spades (Swords)

The World | Ace of Diamonds (Pentacles)

Major Arcana | The Illuminated Tarot
Major Arcana | The Illuminated Tarot

Of course, some of the pairings are more obvious than others. The Hanged Man and the Two of Spades, for example, share a strikingly similar imagery. Likewise, the “pregnant pause before the choice” meaning of the Two of Spades translates incredibly well to the “surrender to that which you can’t control” meaning of The Hanged Man–in both instances, the figure is placed in a passive position that infers that reflection and greater understanding are needed before moving forward.

The Hanged Man The Illuminated Tarot

Some pairings are more elusive, however, and that’s where we run into problems.

The Hermit/Nine of Diamonds, The Wheel of Fortune/Ten of Hearts, and The Chariot/Seven of Spades are a few of the more tricky combinations. In order to circumvent any confusion, you can use the first method: interpret the card as a minor arcana card. In this case, you may read the card according to its traditional RWS minor meaning regardless of the imagery it conveys.

The Chariot The Illuminated Tarot

In the case of the The Chariot/Seven of Spades then, you may pull the meaning of deception and dishonesty from it even though that interpretation is not at all represented in the image on the deck. Perhaps the query you’ve received is such that it makes total and complete sense to interpret it that way, and if so, feel free to go for it. Likewise,The Hermit/Nine of Diamonds may speak more to abundance and body confidence (as it does as the Nine of Pentacles in the RWS) within the reading you’re giving, and if so, interpreting it that way may make much more sense.

Method Two | Choose the Majors

Favorite method or no, this is the one I find myself reverting back to most often. This is likely a reflection of the way that I read (more psychology-based than divination-based) than anything else–an appearance from a Major Arcana card indicates a more subconscious message to me. I find that the imagery of The Illuminated Tarot reflects the majors more overtly than the minors, so it’s “easier” in terms of reading for others one-on-one.

The Wheel of Fortune The Illuminated Tarot

If you’re more a numerically-leaning person than an imagery-leaning person (or if you’re a beginner-level tarot reader), than it may be better to read according to the minor arcana correspondence–there’s no label for the major arcana, so unless you memorize the correspondences beforehand, things might get a bit tricky.

Method Three | Combine The Two

This is by far my favorite method for reading with this deck, and it’s the one I endeavor to use most often mainly due to the added nuance it provides to a reading. There are actually two ways you can approach this method: 1) Read the minor first and the major second, almost as if you were reading two cards instead of one, or 2) read an amalgamation of the two, almost as if you were allowing the minor and its corresponding major to have a conversation.

I use the second approach with this deck because I naturally gravitated towards creating a cohesive message for each card. By doing so, I generated a deeper understanding of the whole and the sum of its parts, and for tarot/critical theory nerd like me, that’s my idea of good clean fun.

The High Priestess | A Case Study

Initially, The High Priestess in The Illuminated Tarot utterly boggled my mind.  Her archetype is one of esoteric mystery, of the deep inner knowing and intuitive messages that lie beyond the veil in the land of the hidden, of the subconscious. The Two of Diamonds (Pentacles), on the other hand, is grounded–very much concerned with the day-to-day practice of juggling our duties and responsibilities to bring our lives into balance.

The High Priestess The Illuminated Tarot

After puzzling a bit, I decided to focus on the meaning of the infinity symbol–that which exists ad infinitum (like the bottomless well of wisdom The High Priestess guards). Without, our lives follow a pattern of constant flux; within, our visceral inner knowing guides our actions without logical judgement. Therefore, the two coexist like two poles of the same planet, one aspect ethereal, the other grounded.

Method Four | Read Intuitively

I tend to view the tarot as I do wine–the nuances and flavors of both are subject to interpretation by whoever’s enjoying it. In this spirit, feel free to read The Illuminated Tarot however you like.

The Sun The Illuminated Tarot

No, I mean it. Look at the image and read what it conveys to you. Open yourself to a world where symbols speak through your consciousness in unique and valuable ways. Don’t limit yourself to meanings that don’t suit you or your querent. Walk on the wild side. And if you have no idea what I mean when I say “read intuitively” and you want to fall down that rabbit hole, check this out.

Much Love and Happy Cardslinging!

Biz Spread for Building Community

When it comes down to it, being a heart-centered, soul-based entrepreneur is all about reaching out and making contact.

Our efforts don’t exist in a vacuum, folks, and if it’s starting to feel a little lonely in your neck of the woods, it may be time to re-assess how you’re engaging with your people. Our tribe is the backbone of our business, and everything we lovingly create (and often provide for free) is done in an effort to speak to them. To reach them. To let them know that they’re not alone in this crazy world. So many of us got into the biz so we could help and guide others, and if we’ve lost sight of them and their needs, we’ve kind of lost the plot.

It’s difficult to consistently speak to your people, especially if you’re a human person with your own struggles, needs, and dreams. If you’ve hit a bit of a rough patch and you’re having a hard time connecting, give this spread a go and see if it can provide some insight on how to strengthen those bonds once more.

The Illuminated Tarot

  1. How can I connect and engage more deeply?
  2. What am I missing?
  3. Where do I go to expand my tribe?
  4. What value can I give to others?
  5. What’s the most useful focus area for me at this time?
  6. How do I honor my heart and my authenticity and still emerge successful?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I wrote this spread for myself yesterday. I felt that I’d somehow drifted from my heart-space in an effort to be everywhere at once. I wanted guidance and advice on how I could connect more meaningfully with my people. I did a proper reading for myself (which I don’t always do) and managed to boil the messages down into a potent paragraph that I plan to read every morning through the new moon in Leo. And here is that guidance:

Promote more meaningful and inspired dialogue in the community. Extend your current reach. Put what you know and love out there, and they will come. Share the most valuable parts of yourself with your tribe. Focus on generating fresh ideas. Give more weight and attention to your strengths rather than your weaknesses.

Much Love, Fellow Soulpreneurs.

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Reviewing The Illuminated Tarot

This is only the second deck I’ve reviewed, and for good reason: It’s Fucking Epic.

I had a similar reaction to The Moon Deck, and wrote a similarly gushy review of it. For some reason, I’m only pulled to review the decks I absolutely love–like a woman possessed, I want to share the goods with the world so everyone can bask in the awesomeness they bring. Without further ado, I bring you my review of the Illuminated Tarot–unabashedly biased and exalting.

The Practicals: Packaging and Quality

The Illuminated Tarot, 53 Cards for Divination and Gameplay was created by Caitlin Keegan and published by Clarkson Potter Publishers in 2017. As the blurb in the guidebook explains, Caitlin designed one card a week for a year, and by the time the year ended, she had a full deck. In her bio, it’s mentioned that she’s worked at both the Sesame Workshop and Nickelodeon Magazine which makes my inner child smile.

The Illuminated Tarot

I freaking love the box this deck is packaged in. It’s sturdy and perfectly sized at 5″ x 6.5″–I can store it with my other decks in the rather narrow space I have reserved for them, and the deep navy blue background offsets the dense, intricate gilded design perfectly. I must admit, navy and I are having a bit of a fling, so I couldn’t be more pleased with the choice. Inside, you’ll find a colorful, brief, and straightforward guide to the deck. Each card is categorized using three keywords/phrases, providing just enough meaning for the seasoned practitioner to work with. If this is your first deck, however, I’d recommend some additional reading in order to get a grip with the RWS system that the deck is based off of. Tarot 101 by Kim Huggens is a good place to start.

The deck itself is 3.5″ X 5″ and made with nice, sturdy card stock. The edges are a little rough, but whatever–it shuffles well and the barely-glossy laminate suggests that this deck can take a beating. It’s a little too sturdy to bridge the cards, but they slide together nicely when you push them. The surface of the cards have ridges to keep them from sticking together–something my shuffling-loving heart really appreciates.

The Details: Imagery and Symbolism

The deck is a hybrid between tarot and a traditional playing card deck. There are fifty-three cards (the extra one being key zero–The Fool) arranged according to four suits: spades (swords), diamonds (pentacles), hearts (cups), and clubs (wands). The pictorial representation of these pips definitely reflects the symbolism of the RWS, although you’ll find a rogue representation here or there. Still, it’s not a stretch–given a little bit of consideration, the traditional meanings become apparent.

The Illuminated Tarot

Each suit is represented by its own, unique color palette. This is incredibly useful for those who aren’t familiar with numerology and who have trouble translating playing card suits to tarot suits. When you see a card with purple, blue, and brown, it’s immediately recognizable as a swords suit. Blue, green, and orange represent the clubs suit, orange, green, pink, and red represent the hearts suit, and brown, yellow, red, and purple represent the spades suit.

The Illuminated Tarot

The twenty-two major arcana appear within these fifty-three cards, each inhabiting a pip that somewhat parallels the traditional RWS meaning. For example, the two of diamonds (pentacles) is also The High Priestess–the emphasis here is placed on the interplay of dark and light (like the white and black towers we see depicted in the RWS) and the ability to find balance between the two. In this sense, the High Priestess appears slightly less esoteric and a bit more practical, but the addition of the crescent moon reminds us that hidden knowledge is still very much alive in this depiction. The infinity symbol at the bottom practically screams two of pentacles, so if the more mundane, grounded interpretation seems pertinent within the context of your reading, it’ll jump out at you and prompt you to go in that direction.

The Illuminated Tarot

I’ve already posted a few daily draws from this deck Instagram and Facebook, and many have been hesitant to purchase the deck because of the pip/major arcana mash-up. In all honestly, I was able to wrap my head around this change within twenty minutes–you don’t have to learn a whole new system in order to use this deck. The images and meanings are so straightforward that you barely have to put in additional study. Likewise, it’s easy to riff with this deck if you–like myself–like to allow for some intuitive interpretations.

So, How Does It Read?

It reads like a dream, people. After a few daily draws and test readings, I began using this deck for client readings and I’m really excited with what it’s offered so far. I knew as soon as I opened it that this would quickly become a workhorse deck, and can’t even tell you how happy that makes me! Its vivd colors, two-dimensional illustration style, and quirky major arcana incorporation are right up my alley. You can tell that this is the work of a trained designer, and the symmetry it boasts helps me organize my thoughts almost instantaneously. The color-coding seriously helps with this as well–by simply looking at the spread, you can determine the dominant elements and therefore the dominant energies of the reading.

The Illuminated Tarot

In short, this deck is freaking amazing. It’s my new favorite, hands down. And here’s some good news for budgeting collectors: it’s priced anywhere from $12-$19, so it’s not a huge investment. So if you’re looking for something new, fun, easy to work with, and affordable, check out this baby!

Much Love and Happy Cardslinging,

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