Alchemical Thoughts

Archive for January 2019


Day 28: What is your ‘go-to’ Tarot book and why?

Day 29: How do you feel about Tarot deck modification? Do you draw on your decks? Trim the borders or is it a no go for you and why?

Day 30: Do you carry out predictive Tarot readings? Yes, no, why?

Day 31: What question/s do you most often ask the Tarot? (for yourself and for others)

We made it to the last day of the 31 Days of Tarot 2019 challenge. I found this to be both a bit of fun at times and a good reflective exercise for me. I hope my four readers enjoyed it as well. So, let’s wrap up the challenge.

Day 28. If a deck has a companion book, that becomes my “go-to” book while using the deck. Otherwise my current quick reference book is Jane Lyle’s The Illustrated Guide to Tarot (link to my review). It is a basic, simple Tarot reference book that while mainly for RWS can work for any deck. I also like that Lyle provides abstract meanings for court cards in addition to the “usual” references to persons. I tend to see court cards as people or traits or more general messages, so in my learning an abstract meaning can help.


Day 29. Personally, deck modification is a no go for me. I just do not see the appeal in altering, cutting, trimming, etc. on a deck I spent hard money on to acquire. Do I wish some decks were borderless? Absolutely. Am I going to cut them up for that? No.

Having said that, when a Tarotista shows off a deck they trimmed, if they did a good job at it and looks good, I can appreciate it. Not my thing, but as others often say, you do you.


Day 30. Not really. I use Tarot more as a personal development tool. More for checking on a current situation and get ideas, tips, advice on what to do or possible solutions.


Day 31. For me, I simply ask Spirit/the Divine/ the Cosmic Joker to reveal what I need to hear or be aware of that day. For others, I go with what they may ask.




You can find Ethony Dawn’s prompts, including a video explaining the prompts, over on her blog. The social media hashtag for this one is #31DaysOfTarot19.

Prompt: How do you pick your Tarot decks for readings?


For my own use, I pick a deck mainly on mood or what deck calls me at the time. However, if I am very comfortable with a deck I tend to stay with it. This means I do not rotate decks often and others may go unused. That’s something I probably should work on a bit: rotating my decks better in my personal practice.

For public readings, I combine decks I am comfortable using and that I think people will respond to well. Some recent choices for reading for others I’ve used:

  • Witches Tarot (link to official site), or any deck that is an RWS “clone” or similar. Most people associate Tarot with RWS. I do not use a “traditional” RWS, i.e. with Pamela Colman Smith’s art, but I do like modern interpretations of the system. A deck like Witches Tarot draws from RWS, has bright, clean art, and beautiful clear images.
  • Gaian Tarot (link to my review) is for folks who may be interested in Tarot but are not into castles, knights, etc.
  • Santa Muerte Tarot (link to Llewellyn) as a bit of a novelty. I use it as an example that Tarot can have many themes and forms. Plus this one reads really well for me.
  • Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night (link to my review). I use this one during fall and Halloween season. For folks who want a darker touch during the season.
  • Gilded Tarot (link to my review). I use this one in similar way as I use the Witches Tarot.

I also take an oracle deck or two with me for public readings, but I rarely end up using them. I mostly show them to people as a different divination system. During Halloween season, the Halloween Oracle (link to my review) may get used once or twice. Down the road I may try to integrate oracle cards in public readings, but it is not a priority now.



You can find Ethony Dawn’s prompts, including a video explaining the prompts, over on her blog. The social media hashtag for this one is #31DaysOfTarot19.


Day 23: What is your most sassy Tarot deck, what is your most gentle Tarot deck? Why did you pick these decks?

Day 24: What Tarot card do you feel is the most misunderstood and why?

Day 25: Do you have any Tarot self-care rituals that are only for your personal practice?

Day 26: What Tarot deck do you wish you could get into or vibe with but just can’t and why?


Day 23. For me, without a doubt, Santa Muerte Tarot (link to Llewellyn) is my most sassy deck. It has a quirky sense of humor. It often makes me laugh. It tells it like it is, and once in a while it makes me go “hmm?”

The gentlest deck I’d say is Gaian Tarot (link to my review). There is a nurturing aspect to it. When I need some gentle calm and comfort this deck is a good choice. Also, nothing “scary” in this one.


Day 24. I see it as a tie between Death- XIII and The Devil- XV. They can be scary cards, and they can lead us to think the worst is happening. But rarely if ever is Death literal, and once you figure that out, you can see the possibilities of rebirth, change and renewal.

For The Devil- XV, sure it represents binds often, but more often than not those binds are self-imposed. Once we see that, we can see that we can choose to remove the binds as well. I think also what few see in The Devil is that he is or can be our sensual and lusty side, the more material. He can remind us that we should indulge in the carnal, the material now and then. As a favorite of mine quote says, “Yield to temptation. It may never come your way again.”


Day 25. This is something I have not really thought about. Nothing in particular at this time.


Day 26. Probably Marseilles and/or “pip only” decks in general. I just do not see substance there to make it workable at this time. In the end, to keep it polite, I quote the Rivera Tarot Corollary to Ranganathan:

“Every deck its owner/user/collector, and every owner/user/collector their deck.”




You can find Ethony Dawn’s prompts, including a video explaining the prompts, over on her blog. The social media hashtag for this one is #31DaysOfTarot19.


Day 18: What cards relate to you personally? NOT just your astrology association or court cards.

Day 19: If you were shipwrecked on an desert island, which five tarot or oracle decks would you want to have with you and why?

Day 20: What is your favorite Tarot Spread at the moment?

Day 21: Do you use the Tarot for mediumship readings? Why or why not? If no, would you like to?

Day 22: Where is one place in the world you would love to read the Tarot and why? It could be a sacred site, event, mystical shop, anything.


For Day 18. I relate personally with the following cards:

  • The Hermit- IX.
  • Justice- VIII or XI (depending on what deck you use).
  • The Hierophant- V, mainly in its teacher form, with less of the Roman Catholic imagery. As depicted in the Steampunk Tarot (Moore and Fell, link to my review) is a good example.
  • Six of Pentacles. I aspire to be generous when I can. Do what I can with what little I got.


For Day 19. Ah, once more a variant of the “if you can only have five decks.” For me, this can vary depending on when you ask. At this moment, this would be my list:

  • Witches Tarot (link to Aeclectic). This is my current daily use deck. I find it easy to use and comfortable. For me, it makes a good RWS style deck. Plus I like the companion book.
  • Santa Muerte Tarot (link to Llewellyn). Another deck I am comfortable with. I want its quirky sense of humor with me.
  • Gaian Tarot (link to my review). I like its contemporary art. It is a bit on the gentle side. For me, it reads very well. It also has a good companion book.
  • Steampunk Tarot (link to my review). Another deck I am really comfortable with.
  • Enchanted Map oracle cards (link to my review). I feel I need to have at least one oracle deck. I really got into oracle cards with this deck, and it is still a favorite. It also works well with Tarot decks, for me, especially the Steampunk Tarot.


For Day 20. For daily use, a single card with the addition of the underneath/shadow card. I also like basic three-card spreads like Past-Present-Future. I have a list of basic three-card spreads handy.


For Day 21. The short answer is no. It is not an area I know much about. At this point in time, not something to pursue. We’ll see if that changes in the future.


For Day 22. In one of the old colonial houses in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Set up a table in the inner open air patio of the house, then leave the door open so people can come in and get a reading. A nice cloth on the table, three to five different decks for clients to choose from.

Other awesome places I wish I could park myself, lay the cloth, and read a card or two:

  • At the base of the Great Pyramid in Giza.
  • Inside, or in front of the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore in Argentina.
  • At the base of a Mayan Pyramid.
  • At Machu Picchu.
  • While riding the Orient Express.  It does not exist anymore as Agatha Christie and Bram Stoker knew it, but there are smaller commercial trains that recreate the experience somewhat. Still, I can dream.



You can find Ethony Dawn’s prompts, including a video explaining the prompts, over on her blog. The social media hashtag for this one is #31DaysOfTarot19.



Day 14: Which tarot decks give you the most insight by way of the imagery and symbology of the cards rather than intuition or basic tarot knowledge?

Day 15: What is in your Tarot ‘to-go’ bag? Your Tarot travel bag?

Day 16: What Tarot card in the deck do you look out for the most when you get a new deck? If you don’t like that card does it ruin the deck for you?

Day 17: What is your favorite way to Tarot Journal? Planners, apps, bullet journals?


For Day 14, off the top of my head:

  • Hermetic Tarot (link to Aeclectic). Very rich in symbols and imagery. I admit I have not worked much with it as I want to make time to explore it.
  • Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot (link to my review). Works well of intuition and basic meanings, but it also offers a lot in imagery and symbols.

There may be others in my collection, but I need to explore them more.


For Day 15. When I take a Tarot bag, say for a public reading, I have in it the following, give or take:

  • A couple of Tarot decks. Usually the daily use deck, if the deck is OK to use with others, and other decks I’ve found work well with others well like Steampunk Tarot (Moore and Fell, link to my review), Santa Muerte Tarot (link to Llewellyn), and Gaian Tarot (link to my review).
  • An oracle deck. This can vary.
  • A small notebook for notes.
  • A Tarot journal containing some spreads, for reference.
  • Water bottle. Because hydration is important.
  • A small cloth to lay the cards on.


For Day 16. I usually look for:

  • The Hermit- IX.
  • Justice- VIII or XI depending on the deck.

Usually, if I dislike those two, I can still like a deck if the rest of the deck’s art is good. However, a literal Hanged Man, as in hung by the neck, can freak me out a bit on a deck It might not ruin a deck for me, but it would make me a bit leery about using it. It’s kind of like “handle with care” for that deck.

What really ruins a deck for me is good Major Arcana art then finding the Minor Arcana is “pips only.” To me, that feels often like an artist got lazy, tired, or said “fuck it.” For Marseilles and historical decks I get it, but in modern decks unless there is a reason, “pips only” just seems incomplete, which to me is a deck to avoid. After I bought a deck on impulse that looked good only to be “pips only,” I now research decks and images before I make a purchase. However, that is me. For others out there, you do you.

On a side note, I do have a couple of basic Marseilles decks which were gifts. In fact, I started my Tarot journey with a Marseilles deck. I switched to an RWS style deck since Marseilles was not working for me, but now that I’ve learned a bit, I think I can give Marseilles another go. I did acquire a couple of good books on Marseilles decks, and I am determined that those pips are not going to be the boss of me. We’ll see how it goes.


For Day 17. Just a good nice, and not expensive journal notebook. In it, a combination of regular writing on Tarot and related topics, notes, ideas, and commonplace book of Tarot, oracle, and other cartomancy and esoteric things.



You can find Ethony Dawn’s prompts, including a video explaining the prompts, over on her blog. The social media hashtag for this one is #31DaysOfTarot19.

Prompt: From the Major Arcana cards, what card correlates to your sun, moon, and rising sign. How has that resonated or played out in your life?

Since I know little of astrology, aside from my basic Zodiac sign, which is the rising sign, I looked things up. I found the following for me:

  • Zodiac/Rising Sign: Capricorn. The Devil-XV.
  • Sun Sign: Leo. Strength- VIII or XI (depending on what Tarot deck/system you use).
  • Moon Sign: Aquarius. The Star- XVII.


For my rising sign I would have expected The Hermit- IX given my strong introverted nature. The Devil- XV seems interesting to me. Often in my life, I’ve done my best to avoid bad temptations, especially during my youth. In adult years, and in part due to studying Tarot, I see the Devil more as knowing when to yield to temptation, a little here or there can be good. The card is also a reminder that sometimes the binds we fret over are of our own making so as we choose to be bound we can choose to remove such binds.

Leo, my sun sign, happens to be my mother’s Zodiac sign too. If anyone was inspiring to me and represented Strength it was my mom. In her battle with lupus she never let the disease dictate her life nor stop her from living a good life. It remains an inspiration to me.

Aquarius for my moon sign with The Star- XVII. I’ve always had a healthy imagination. Intuition is something I feel I have, however, I have not considered it much until recently. Mom I am sure had it as she at times mentioned dreams of things that often came to pass. She was very casual about it. Anyhow this resonates with my introspective nature.



You can find Ethony Dawn’s prompts, including a video explaining the prompts, over on her blog. The social media hashtag for this one is #31DaysOfTarot19.


Prompt: Have you ever dealt with impostor syndrome?


I looked it up on Google, and the definition I found was:

“. . .persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has legitimately been achieved as a result of one’s efforts of skills.”

You can also look at it as a feeling of not belonging.

When I started out, I probably felt it more given all the experienced Tarotistas out there. Also, I’ve found a good part of the Tarot and cartomancy community can be extremely elitist; I noticed this a lot in places like Facebook groups. YouTubers tend to be more welcoming. I suppose it varies by platform. Point is at times I felt what could little old me beginner have to say?

As I’ve kept studying and practicing, I’ve gained some confidence, but I’ve also stayed humble. I’ve even done some small readings in campus fairs and such. My nightmare during that was some old mean cartomancer would come and tell me all I was doing wrong (in her eyes at least). Over time, this fear has diminished a bit. That I can keep learning is a great comfort to me. And I’ve learned not to take Tarot way too seriously. There is plenty of room for lightheartedness and humor. Overall, I am slowly but surely finding and shaping my path in my Tarot and cartomancy journey.



You can find Ethony Dawn’s prompts, including a video explaining the prompts, over on her blog. The social media hashtag for this one is #31DaysOfTarot19.

January 2019
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