The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 291, titled:
Tarot and Astrology as Forms of Divination
With Chris Brennan and guest T. Susan Chang
Episode originally released on February 19, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Kate Hill
Transcription released December 7, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Monday, February 25th, 2021, starting at 12:23 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the two hundred and ninety first episode of the show. In this episode I’m going to be talking with T. Susan Chang about tarot and astrology as forms of divination. Hey Susan! Welcome to the show.
T. SUSAN CHANG: Hey Chris! Thanks for having me on. Long time listener and fan!
CB: Long time listener, first time caller?
TSC: Yes, haha, yes. Right.
CB: As they say. Yeah! I’m excited to talk with you today, so to introduce you to my audience, you are the co-host of the Fortune’s Wheelhouse Esoteric Tarot Podcast, and you’re also the author of the 2019 Llewellyn book Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers.
CB: 2018, yeah, sorry, thank you. As well as the author of a new book titled 36 Secrets: A Decanic Journey Through the Minor Arcana of the Tarot, which just came out a month or two ago, right?
TSC: Yeah! I decided I really wanted to have it out for the new year, so on literally new years eve I was working until 9 PM.
CB: I like that. Here’s a little picture of the book for the people that watch the video version. Here is the cover of your previous book, and they make a nice pair together. Your specialty is tarot, and in your podcast you’re the co-host. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
TSC: Yes, so it’s a collaborative venture between me and Mel Meleen who is an incredibly gifted deck creator. Her decks are the Rosetta Tarot, and the Tabula Mundi Tarot, both of which are Thoth tarot based. She also has a new majors only deck called the Pharos or Lighthouse Tarot, so yes, and I can’t even remember what year we started now. I think it must’ve been 2017 or 18, and we had just decided that we wanted to provide a service for people in the sense that there was no card by card podcast out there that really looked at the symbols, and the correspondences in any systematic way, and we wanted to build a bridge between Rider Waite’s myth readers, and Thoth readers, through the esoteric connections that unite them.
CB: Okay. Brilliant. You’re up to actually a ton of episodes at this point right?
TSC: Yes! We made it through the entire first 78, and then we started sort of taking it layer by layer, y’know, going through numbers, going through signs, going through planets, those kinds of things. Yeah we’re at a hundred something at this point.
CB: Cool, and normally you release episodes on Patreon, but people can also find it on Libsyn, and basically anywhere where podcasts can be listened to, right?
TSC: Right. That’s Fortune’s Wheelhouse anywhere.
CB: Okay, cool. When did you get into tarot? Or how long have you been studying it?
TSC: So, uhm, I saw my first tarot deck I think in 1987. I had just arrived in college, and I had a roommate down the hall who had a tarot deck, and I had never seen anyone do anything like that. I thought it was A absurd, B impossible, but C compelling, so I was one of those people who just kind of kept checking in and trying to get free readings, and then trying to figure out how she did it. So yeah, but I was not about to go-
CB: Isn’t that the classic thing like where everybody’s impulse eventually, most astrologers or most tarot people, your impulse that leads them to doing it is kind of like cutting out the middleman, and learning how to do it yourself.
TSC: Exactly, because I mean, you can’t constantly ask your friend to tell you about your crush, you know? Haha! So yeah, but I didn’t really, I don’t think I bought or picked up my own first tarot deck until several years later when I was living in New York, and trying kind of everything. You know how when you’re a young person kind of all the breaks come off and you try everything you always wanted to try, and that was tarot for me, so I think I got my first deck in probably 1995, 1996, something like that.
TSC: Yeah, and so I really read for a good number of years just for friends and family. I also did some moonlighting in the theatre district in New York where I lived at the time, and that’s a great place to read tarot. People have interesting problems. I didn’t really go pro with it until 2015 or so because, y’know, I was busy with other careers. My first career I was an editor for Oxford University press, and Cambridge University press. I kind of went back and forth, and then my second career was as a food writer, and cook book reviewer, so this was-
CB: You published a memoir in 2011 related to that right?
TSC: Yes. I did A Spoonful of Promises, despite the fact that probably no one should publish a memoir before they’re 40, but I did, haha. That grew out of a bunch of work I did for NPR on writing about food for them, so I started out as far as tarot goes I think what really happened was that I discovered the online tarot community in 2015, and that was kind of what I needed as a permission structure to take myself a little bit further with it, and at first all I did was make tarot cases for people, which I sewed, because that didn’t seem like an intellectual investment that anyone could be ashamed of me for. Then inevitably I think I had a real attraction to the correspondences, and to the, obviously to the work I had had for decades, so I guess I really wanted to learn some of the systems that were behind the tarot, or apparently behind the tarot, and see what sense I could make of that, and that’s really how all of that began.
CB: That makes sense, and are you okay sharing your birth chart just for the biographical side of this?
TSC: Yes. I am totally okay with that.
CB: Okay, so I’ll put it on the screen here. It’s August 26th, 1969, at 7:42 PM in New York, New York.
CB: Okay, so you have Pisces Rising, and a bunch of stuff in Virgo, the Sun, South Node-
TSC: Unsurprisingly, haha.
CB: Yeah. Pluto and Mercury, Jupiter Uranus conjunction in Libra, and then Mars in Sagittarius with the Midheaven, Neptune at 26 Scorpio, Saturn in Taurus, Venus in Cancer, and the Moon in Aquarius, which I am personally a big fan of as a fellow Moon in Aquarius.
TSC: Ah yes! What degree are you?
CB: I’m 24, so that’s pretty close.
TSC: Oh, wow! Yeah, so one thing you’ll notice on the spine of my book is that there’s the decans for Aquarius three. That’s up at the top there, the seven of swords-
CB: I like that.
TSC: and then the Virgo one at the bottom.
CB: Okay, that’s really cool.
TSC: Those are my Sun and Moon.
CB: So, let’s see, where do we want to go here? Part of the genesis of this episode was that a few years back, I think it was in 2018, you wrote me an email after listening to an episode of the podcast, which was episode 163 with Adam Elenbaas and Joe Gleason, where we talked about why horoscopes are still valid and important, and some of the things that Adam had mentioned in particular about astrology, and its connection with divination, had sparked some thoughts in you about some of the parallels with tarot. I thought we could have a good discussion, and you had originally proposed a discussion talking about some of the similarities between the two, and it’s kind of an interesting topic how something like tarot as a form of divination could inform how we understand what astrology is as a phenomenon, because astrology, in modern times at least, isn’t often times conceptualized as a form of divination. It used to be in the ancient world in some ways, or in some circles was considered to be originally a form of divination, especially in Mesopotamia, but then sort of after Ptolemy after the second century, for a long time astrology was instead viewed more as a natural phenomenon, or an extension of physics, or something like that, and we still have a lot of that conceptualization in our mindset today when it comes to astrology. It was not really until recently until 1994 when Geoffrey Cornelius published the book The Moment of Astrology, where he made this argument where he pointed out that astrology actually, even though we’re used to conceptualizing as a natural phenomenon, he argued that it’s actually divination just like tarot, or other forms of divination, and since then that’s become a more popular argument, but it’s not something that has been explored with too much additional depth beyond Geoffrey Cornelius’ work, so I thought that would be a really interesting discussion for us to have today.
TSC: Yes. I think that that’s really interesting, especially the ways that tarot and astrology are similar, and the ways that they’re really quite different. I think that’s a fascinating place to start.
CB: Okay, excellent. And people can go back and check out- I only have an audio version of it on the podcast website, but that was episode 53 where I interviewed Geoffrey Cornelius about his book The Moment of Astrology, just to get more background and detail on that book.
TSC: It is a great episode. I just listened to it last night at 1.7X haha, to get ready.
CB: Getting prepped up for this.
TSC: It was great!
CB: Yeah I was scrambling to put together my outline and doing some research in your book, as well as another book on Mesopotamian divination to go way back in the history, but maybe let’s start at square one. In your original email you mentioned how astrology compares to, and you used the term ‘sortilege,’ as a generic term for different types of divination, right?
TSC: Yes, I did. I think that there is a fundamental split between sortilege or aleatory forms of divination, versus, I don’t know, whether you want to call it fixed, or the ‘clockworks’ of astrology. I mean, I was trying to think about that, and about different sorts of divinations, and where they fall along that spectrum. There’s this really great book I just pulled off my shelf. It’s a very 101 level book, but it’s the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Divination, and it’s really a lot of fun to look through the different sorts, but I was thinking about how, y’know, some forms of divination depend on a fixed text for example like palmistry. The hand doesn’t change rapidly. If you can do divination by palmistry, you kind of know what you’re dealing with. It’s not going to be way different tomorrow than it is today.
TSC: I think astrology is like that as well. You kind of know where the stars are going to be. Bibliomancy is like that, right? You have the text. You may be opening it at random, but you have the text. It’s not going to change tomorrow. There are some natural cyclical mantic methods that are like that. If you imagine reading clouds for example, y’know, there are larger cycles, but it’s not as apparently random as something like dice, or tarot, or geomancy, or the Yijing, all of which are based on random drawing.
CB: Okay, so those are instances of sortilege. I looked for a definition, and Google’s definition was “the practice of foretelling the future from a card, or other item drawn at random from a collection.”
CB: So integral to the definition of many of these forms of divination is the idea of something being drawn at random, and this element of chance being an important underlying component to it, but instead of, like in modern times we think of something that’s random, or chance-like as meaningless, there’s an actual flipped or opposite assumption, especially in the ancient world, that the random or chance-like characteristic of that, there’s actually a meaningfulness or a purposefulness underlying it, and that’s why you can actually learn valid information from it.
TSC: Yes, and I think that’s why the horary branch of astrology is a little bit more like tarot in that way.
CB: Sure, and let’s keep it out of astrology for now. Let’s just assume our listener has no idea what tarot is, or how it works, or like what the background is, so in tarot let’s say as a form of that type of divination if we’re just deep diving into the concept of sortilege, the random element is that you have a deck of how many cards?
CB: 78 cards, and then each time you will shuffle them randomly, and then you’ll pull out, let’s say if you’re just doing a basic three card draw, you’ll pull out three cards, right?
TSC: Yes, yes. For me also every day I’ll draw a ‘card of the day,’or ‘two cards of the day.’ Many people have this practice. Some draw one, some draw two. Yeah.
CB: Okay, and there are certain meanings that are associated with the cards, and then the presumption is that through the specific cards that you pull, whether it’s two cards or three cards, is going to actually reflect something either about- there’s like a division here between two types of divination either about that moment, and something that’s happening in that moment, and telling you something about it, or alternatively in some later forms of divination you could actually approach them and ask a specific question, and that something about the outcome, or the answer to that question, would be reflected in the random cards that you draw at that time.
TSC: Yes, and I think there’s something really important about the random quality of tarot and other methodology because there’s…I think of chaos as being a necessary component because it’s a way of breaking out of that sort of linear causal mentality that we all kind of live with as people who are are brought up in a western civilization. I think it’s really hard to enter the oracular space, and for me at least, tarot always had this appeal because it broke all of those preconceptions immediately. As you were saying, the naturalistic view, causal view of astrology, y’know, leaves some room for you to say, okay, well there are beams or influences, or rays or whatever. Tarot doesn’t do any of that. It’s immediately like you just throw the keys out the window.
CB: So just like obvious that there should be just rationally speaking no connection between, y’know, the fact that you just went through a breakup, or something like that, and then you randomly draw three cards, and it perfectly actually describes your situation, or describes something about what you’re feeling internally in your mind at that moment that there should be no connection between the two, but for some reason there is.
TSC: There is, right, and I think there’s a lot of different ways that people conceptualize that, but the one that I’ve sort of come down to accepting is that- I think Jung describes it in the forward to Wilhem’s I Ching edition that we’re dealing with the world as a whole, the unus mundus. Every part of the world is interconnected with everything else, so all you have to do is look at a little piece of it to get the truth of the whole, rather than, y’know, trying to sort of step by step figure out the causes that lead from one place to another. It’s sort of like causal vs acausal thinking is sort of like if you imagine cause as like a marble run, where first you drop it here, and then it drops into this ramp, and it sets off this chain of dominos, etc etc., whereas acausal thinking is more like you imagine a whole set of interlocked gears, you move one you move them all, right? So to me that’s what we’re doing in the oracular moment. The chaos is a way of saying, “look, my ego, my consciousness, my projections don’t matter one bit. Just agree to work with me in this moment, and give me something that will create a conversation between the subject and the object.”
CB: Okay. Yeah, so I like that, and so synchronicity was Jung’s attempt to formulate a definition of what was going on there, especially when it came to his investigations of different forms of divination in order to explain how they would work if there was no causal connection between, let’s say the cards and what he was thinking at that moment, but instead the connection between the two just had to do with an equivalency of meaning, and a simultaneousness in time basically.
TSC: Yes. I mean, some Jungians sort of conceptualize it as being the intersection of two wheels. One that is a wheel of eternal order, which is apart from what we think of as chronological time, and then a while of time in the other direction, which is what we experience, and where the two intersect. I’ve seen the analogy used of, it’s an alchemical term, the spiraculum eternatus, the eternal breathing whole, the air whole, where in this moment which I think corresponds to the oracular moment, you have an intersection between those two systems where you can find something that’s true.
CB: Okay, and just to give people an example for if somebody isn’t familiar with tarot and how it works, and the mechanics of it, let’s say that you have a deck, a full deck of cards, and then you pull out let’s say three cards, and let’s say we’re doing a basic three card draw, or what’s the term? Draw is not the term right?
TSC: Spread or draw.
CB: Spread. Okay, so you have three cards, and the premise then that the first card on your left will indicate the past, the card in the middle with represent the present, and the card on the right will represent the future, through just a basic knowledge of symbolism of threes, and the three being in terms of a sequence, and in terms of time, like setting up something where that which comes first is the past. The present is what is there in the middle in front of you, and the future is that which is on the horizon. Is that more or less correct?
TSC: Yeah, that’s good, and I think you can extend that to any model of three. The most obvious one is to say the center card is the situation, and the left one instead of the past might be the cause, and the right one instead of the future, might be the outcome. History, problem, advice, exactly, that could be. You could also do…you could put your goal in the middle, and you could put something that helps you on one side, and something that is an obstacle on the other side. You could do…one that I quite like is, ‘what I understand,’ ‘what I don’t understand, ‘what I need to know.’ Things like that. I really do believe in using…depending on the situation, when I’m in a reading with someone I just listen to what they’re saying, and very often they will tell you the questions, and you can use exact quotes from what they’re saying to just say ok, well let’s answer this question, and this question, and that question, and do it in the most direct way possible. I was telling you before this show that I have kind of a personal beef with the ‘Celtic Cross,’ because I think it’s too abstract. I don’t think it always answers the question, and I think it gets fuzzy really quickly.
CB: So that’s a more advanced spread where there’s ten different cards?
TSC: Yeah! In fact I don’t even know if I would call it more advanced, but it is the spread that everybody gives in their little white book with their deck, and so you have people who just started with tarot, who are looking at these ten cards, and just bugging out! Understandably.
CB: It’s too much.
TSC: It’s too much, and I also believe you can do a lot with two cards: self and other, for example.
CB: Oh yeah, so tell me about that, so what are some of the different things, or what is the symbolism of a two card spread instead of the three card one that I showed?
TSC: Two cards are incredibly useful because probably 60% of readings for me at least are relationship readings in one way or another, so I literally will just draw a card for each person, and that works really well. It tells you something about the dynamics between them. It tells you something about, y’know, you can get so much information about what’s happening, how compatible they are, whether they’re even looking at each other, y’know, that’s just a basic level where you can just look at the surface of the card.
CB: So the first card is you, and the second card is the other person?
TSC: Always. Always start with you, yeah.
CB: Okay. It sounds like this is going back to numerology, and numerological symbolism, because with two it sounds like you’re looking at a binary, and one representing self, vs two when something splits into two there’s not just one person, but there are two people, or there is self and other, or what have you.
TSC: Mhm. It’s the awareness of the other, and the gaze that gets set up between them. You can also have the advantage and the drawback; the strength and the weakness; the situation and the conflict; something to let go of and something to embrace; what nourishes you and what drains you; there’s no limit to it.
CB: So it’s like symbolically it’s really diving into that notion of two-ness and any time there are two sides to something, or something that has a thing, and then its’ opposite could be understood within that context of like a binary?
TSC: Absolutely, and one of the things I do most often using two cards is if I’m at the point of a decision I will sort of divide the deck in half and say, okay, this half is if I do it, and this half is if I don’t, and I’ll draw a card from each, and see what happens. I really like that because it still puts the onus of the decision on you. It just gives you information. You still have to decide what you’re going to do, and why. You might get a card that looks really scary, and still decide to do it. It’s still up to you.
CB: Okay. I’m going to write that down because that whole category of the difference between seeking insight into something, or something describing the present vs using divination to make a decision is really interesting, but first-
TSC: Yes! Haha. Yes, and it’s, y’know, it’s funny because for many years I resisted the idea that tarot should have that kind of traction in your real life. I remember my father in law, who I love, asked me a few years ago, yeah, but you don’t use it to make decisions do you? And I was like no no no, and then I was like, wait a second! I do all the time actually, haha.
CB: Sure. Before we go into that further let’s drill down more, because I think we’re in something that’s really important, and probably very much connected with astrology in terms of that it’s going back to at least in the card spread seems to have a fundamental numerological component, which just intellectually at least provides an access point for me to understanding not just what this is describing, or how it could be a phenomenon in the world, and how you might be able to explain that intellectually to somebody who might be skeptical of this, that when you’re doing a spread it has to do with the numerological symbolism of what two means, or what two-ness is, vs what three-ness is, and what types of things come in threes, and that time for example, as we were talking about, was something that comes in threes. That seems like an interesting point, and that also might be a connecting point where there is obvious overlap in astrology because we see similar applications of symbolic thinking when it comes to things like the houses, and for example there are binaries with the planets. Planets are sometimes split into binaries of things like benefic and malefic, and what would it mean when something is to indicate a positive outcome, vs what would it look like if something was to indicate a negative outcome, and then we also see that type of thinking sometimes in the houses, or in the aspects for example the first house representing the self, or representing you in the chart, vs the seventh house which is in opposition to that representing the other, or representing the partner in the chart or what have you.
TSC: Yes! I really like thinking of those two card spreads as oppositions in a way. Oppositional aspects.
CB: Maybe that’s something that does connect it, and one of our underlying questions is, in what ways is astrology similar to tarot, or other forms of divination, vs how is it different? And maybe that’s one of our initial entry points and access points is that they both have to do with symbolic thinking, and the use of things like essentially numerology or attributing meaning to numerological sets, or sets of numbers, which goes back to pythagoreanism, or something like that.
TSC: Yes, I mean I think meaning is at the heart of it, right? Because what we do both in astrology and in tarot, is we take these systems which we assume encompass everything in the world, right? And divide it up by number into, well in the case of the tarot into 78, but also into systems of four, or systems of 12 if you use correspondences, and then in astrology, y’know, seven traditional planets, or 12 houses, or whatever it is, four quadrants, and, y’know, four elements, and then it’s our job to interpret. Then it’s our job to figure out where in that vast constellation of meaning that goes with each of those segments, however we divide it up we can draw information that’s relevant to the situation.
CB: And that’s so interesting because what is more universal than number, or the numbers? You always see those commentaries about if we were ever to interact with another civilization from another galaxy, or something like that, if humanity ever ran into extraterrestrial life, how would we communicate? I think Carl Sagan, for example, in that book Contact, which was later made into a movie, they tried to say that number would be the universal language that’s true throughout the cosmos, and that would be a means of communicating. In this context though there’s a unique spin within the context of divination on number because number doesn’t just convey quantity, but also there’s a qualitative component to numbers, and the meaning of numbers here.
TSC: Yes, absolutely. I think that’s true, which I use a great deal myself in sort of one to ten cabalistic context, which we may not want to get into. It’s a whole nother wormhole.
CB: Sure. I mean we can get into that, but the point there is just that two and three might not just be quantities of having more or less, or having a certain amount in order to measure something, and its’ number in terms of quantity, but also like two-ness might have some sort of universal meaning, or archetypal meaning. Some sort of overarching feeling, or quality, and three-ness might have some universal meaning or universal quality that transcends the individual things that it innumerates.
TSC: That’s true, but there’s another part of the art of interpretation in both astrology and tarot that I think is important, and that’s the interpreter themselves, because I think that- and this is something that actually came up in the movie version of Contact, funny that you should mention that, that interpretation can only use what is inside the interpreter, right? When Jodie Foster goes to visit the alien culture, or whatever it is, it comes as her father, right?
CB: Oh yeah. That’s a good point.
TSC: Yeah! I think that that’s true for us as interpreters as well, y’know, the language that’s available to us is only what we know, right?
CB: So it’s like, just for those who didn’t watch the movie, when she went and visited the aliens they looked inside her mind and saw her memories, and then appeared to her to talk to her as a vision of her father because they said that’s what she was familiar with, and that would be the less frightening or off putting thing for her, and so that’s part of your point is just what that is can appear differently to different people based on what their context is, or something like that.
TSC: Right, and this is where correspondences come in. This is where the archetypes come in. This is where what we get in interpretation is the quality of the moment. It’s not a specific example, y’know, it’s not like you get the tower it’s always going to mean a car crash, or a Mars square or whatever. It’s not always going to mean that. It’s going to mean something that has that quality. I think part of what our job is as diviners is to be open to the entire spectrum of what that quality of that moment might be, and then to be able to translate that into something that’s useful for the context. One of the things I think Geoffrey Cornelius said in your talk with him is that the danger of viewing divinatory practices as causal in some ways that you lose the context. You lose the idea that it has to apply to the situation at hand, and that the meaning arises out of the relationship between the querent and the oracle, and the need to solve the situation, rather than meaning standing outside of it like a cookbook that you can just look it up, and you’ll say, okay, well, you drew the tower, so you’d better get your brakes checked or something, you know?
CB: Right, so part of it then, and part of what you’re saying is it goes back to one of the issues with forms of divination and using symbolism is that they deal in, and they speak through archetypes, and they are archetype as Richard Tarnas likes to say in Cosmos and Psyche. He likes to say that astrology is archetypally predictive, and that when you’re dealing with these things you’re not dealing with a direct correspondence, you’re dealing with something that is, well, maybe I don’t have to go there. In terms of archetypes being transcendent, but maybe, could you define, how do you define what an archetype is?
TSC: Oh god! Chris, that’s mean, haha!
CB: Putting you on the spot, yeah. Actually I’ve done this before and then it turns into this 15 minute thing each time I’ve done that where we-
TSC: Yeah. I don’t know if I feel comfortable doing that, but what I can tell you…here let me instead of trying to define archetype-
CB: If you want we can just use the classical Plato example of like a tree or something like that for those that aren’t familiar.
TSC: That’s fine. We could do that, but I do want to illustrate what I’m talking about when you’re done talking to Plato, haha!
CB: Okay. Yeah. One of the things you were saying was just reminding me of the concept of an archetype, and just maybe for somebody that hasn’t been exposed to that concept yet, since we’re sort of building things up from square one, just the idea that there can be the idea of something that is like an umbrella idea that covers all of the multiple variations of that idea, and can represent it symbolically, so there might be the archetype of a tree, which is some transcendent type or transcendent idea of a tree, but then there’s thousands of different variations of a pine tree, a palm tree, a Christmas tree, so on and so forth, but there can still be this overarching umbrella concept which is what we consider, or refer to as an archetype.
TSC: Yes, so there’s an assumption that there’s some overarching feeling that you can get to some overarching shape that we call an archetype, but the way that it can manifest is so wildly various, and so specific, and I think one way of looking at it, like if you are interpreting a tarot card, there are many many levels that you can interpret it on. Sometimes all of them are in effect. The model I like to use to think about what interpreting a tarot card is like, I tend to use scriptural exigis, so there is the concept of in Christian esotericism of lectio divina, where you kind of start at the most surface level. You read, and then you meditate it, and then you pray upon it, and then you contemplate it, until you have this relationship between you and God. There’s something similar in Judaism called Pardes, which is peshat remez drash sod, where you go from the simple interpretation to the one that’s hinted to. To the one that’s like the midrashic comparative interpretation, and then finally again the secret one that’s known only to you and God. There’s something similar with the Quran. There’s something similar with allegorical reading in the middle ages, but that’s the way I go about looking at a tarot card. For example, this is the infamous five of pentacles, which might be fun to have on screen actually if you want to pull that up.
CB: Yeah. Let me see if I can find the…here it is.
CB: So for the video viewers, does this look like the right one?
TSC: Mhm. That’s it.
CB: This is the five of pentacles from the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck.
TSC: Yes, the relentlessly cheerful five of pentacles. At the most surface level I have seen this card mean snow, right? It’s-
CB: And what does it, just for those listening to the audio, what are we looking at?
TSC: So we’re looking at a scene outside a church, what appears to be a church, with a stained glass window, with five pentacle shapes on it, and in front of it are two mendicants. I guess that’s how Waite describes them. One of whom is crippled. They’re walking on crutches. They’re ragged, they’re poor, and they’re walking through the snow, and it’s probably snowing. You could say that’s a texture on the church, but it’s probably snowing, and it is in fact the only card in the Wider Waite Smith deck that has snow on it, interestingly enough.
TSC: So yeah! I’ve actually seen this mean snow. I’ve seen it more literally meaning a loss, a financial loss, also. You can kind of see that.
CB: Yeah it’s like the two figures look beleaguered, and one of them is on crutches, and the other one is covered in somewhat tattered clothes-
TSC: With bare feet in the snow.
TSC: So these are clearly people who are in some form of need. I’ve seen it mean being locked out. Why aren’t they inside the church? Why are they outside of it? They might be locked out, or it could be that they haven’t thought to knock. And then that’s sort of the first level, but then beyond that, what does that really mean in real life? Well, I’ve had that mean car maintenance, car problems, things going wrong with technical things. I’ve had it as losing my wallet, for example. I’ve had it as listening to podcasts about prisoners, which you can kind of see as well. I’ve seen it represent the family separation policy. I’ve seen it represent the lockdown, as we began the lockdown. Interestingly some of the correspondences that go with it, that’s the Taurus one decan, which is ruled in the caldean system by Mercury, yeah? What the decan commentators said about it was that it was a face of sowing and plowing, of planting seeds, of geometry, those kinds of things. I can’t remember whether that’s from Picatrix, or Agrippa, or what, but in tarot we call it the lord of worry. To me there’s a connection between those concepts. The idea that you have to think about, you have to plan ahead, you have to anticipate, you have to worry about what could possibly go wrong. In a somewhat mercurial way organized and measuring out the land where you’re going to plant the seeds in order to achieve success later, which is the six of pentacles, which is known as success. To me, there’s something really beautiful about the idea that that card, which looks so dark, and so difficult, is also about the cares that you take. The painstaking care you take to make sure that things go well, so it’s not just about injury and poverty, misery, and necessity, it’s about what you are willing to do for the things that you love, in this case maybe growing a crop, or something like that. Another thing that’s really interesting about it is that I think it is a reminder that we all deal with uncertainty at some level, right? And that no matter what we still have to go on, and so I call this card “sacred doubt,” because it’s part of our nature not to know what’s going to happen, and yet we have to stand out and face it anyway. Now one thing that’s happened in more recent years for me is that this card has come up in ways I couldn’t quite understand, and this is sort of like that base level of meaning where you don’t understand at first why it’s showing up this way, but this is the advantage of obsessively tracking your results, which is that its come up as ceremonial magic, and ritual, for me. At first I had no idea why that might be, but over the years there’s something about the amount- there’s a nexus of meaning here that has to do with the planning first of all, which is a huge part of ceremonial magic. The planning and worry, and laying out the groundwork, like we were talking about with the decan commentary, but also about that relationship with doubt, right? With sacred doubt, with the magical act as a way of counteracting doubt, and because in some ways you can say worry, which is again the hermetic title of this card, is the opposite of meaning making. It’s the opposite of what you’re trying to do in a magical act, so there’s something about that card, and the other reason why it has to do with ceremonial magic is if you take those two major arcana that are associated with it, so we said that it relates to Mercury and Taurus one, so Mercury is represented in tarot by the magician, and Taurus is represented by the hierophant, so if you take those kind of two images of the magician, and the hierophant, you get something that looks very much like ceremonial magic.
TSC: So, but it just took me a long time to figure out why it was coming up that way. Tarot is like that. It’s economical. It just sort of telegraphs what it wants you to get out of it, and eventually you figure out why.
CB: Okay, so I’m hearing a lot of things here, and I think that was a really great example and demonstration of one approach of tarot, and the process of trying to understand the symbolism where there is maybe some underlying numerological, or number symbolism there, but also your- a big part of what you’re doing is you’re interpreting the symbolism of the image, and even slight minor details, or seemingly minor details, if you were to just glance at the image are actually meant to evoke much deeper feelings, and meanings, that can sometimes be crucially important and understanding, again, the overarching archetype of the image, that there’s some sort of archetype there, but the way that that can manifest, just like the tree analogy, can be very multivalent. It can manifest in thousands of different ways.
TSC: Absolutely, and sometimes many different ways simultaneously. In the context of a reading you meet the client where they’re at, right? I’m not going to tell every client I get to go do ceremonial magic because they got the five of pentacles. I might tell them to make sure they have their keys next time they walk out the door so they’re not locked out, but you kind of look at the situation, and what the client needs, and you feel your way towards what’s useful.
CB: Right, and then also you would take that, and that has to manifest itself within the context of the constraints that you put on it, which is in this instance with tarot what spread are you doing, and what is the question, or what is the person approaching trying to find out about? Maybe we could do a hypothetical one of like a three card spread right now.
TSC: Sure! We can do that.
CB: And how you would then interpret that, let’s just say hypothetically, or within this context.
TSC: Mhm, sure! What would you like to read about?
CB: Uhm, I don’t know. I guess I didn’t have a question in mind, and I’m now suddenly nervous about what to ask, or what it might show.
TSC: We can come back to it if you like.
CB: Sure. Should I- because I need a question specifically in order to-
TSC: Well, this is what I tell people: specific questions get specific answers.
CB: Got it. Whereas nonspecific questions aren’t necessarily going to tell you much.
TSC: Right, and the thing is that I do believe that there are readers who are maybe a little bit more mediumistic than I am who don’t need a question to start with, but in general I find that people get the best results if there’s a question.
CB: That makes sense. I guess I was just thinking in terms of if there was a past, present, future thing you would then maybe in the last card you were talking about, if that fell in first place then you would say, that is what you’re coming from, and that is the past, maybe somewhat beleaguered past that you’re approaching the present from, or that is representing some events that happened in the past, vs if it was in the middle place it would represent where they are now, vs if it was in the third place it would represent where they’re headed in the future.
TSC: Right, and that does raise the issue of what do you do when you get a card like that in the future, right? One that looks at least on the surface of things pretty dark. There are a couple of answers to that question. FIrst of all, you draw on everything you know about that card because I believe that every card has a range of interpretation that nothing is so dark that there isn’t something you can’t find in it. Even the ten of swords, which is the guy lying on his front with ten swords in his back, y’know, even that card has something to recommend, so you’re using everything you have to find what the message is that’s helpful or positive, but also, the way I read, I try very hard no to telegraph that things are written in stone. I try to make it clear that there are things you can change, and things you can’t change, and that we can use tarot to get at them, so I never like- the tendency in a tarot reading, and it sometimes comes from the reader, and sometimes from the client, is to kind of give up that sense of agency, and say, well, this is just going to happen, and I either want to know, or I don’t want to know, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I will literally use the cards and say, okay, this card represents what you can do about it, and this card represents what you can’t change. There’s always some way that you can leave the person you’re reading for on an empowering note.
TSC: Of course, there are some cards that basically say, even if you use them in the ‘what you can do about it’ scenario, sometimes they say, well, you can’t do anything about it.
CB: Yeah. Isn’t one of the classic things that, I guess like with the death card for example, is not actually the worst or most problematic card. Is that true? Or is that-
TSC: Oh no no no, yeah there’s the- people classically read death as transformation, or change, or whatever. Have you ever seen that Simpson’s skit?
CB: Yeah that’s what I was thinking of partially, actually.
TSC: Yeah. Do you remember some years back there was a meme going around where people would take the movie about Hitler called Downfall, and they would retitle it?
TSC: So I did a whole thing on that on the happy squirrel, which is the basis of that Simpson’s skit where Lisa gets a happy squirrel, and the fortune teller’s like, “oh no!” Anyway, I did a whole thing on Hitler gets the happy squirrel, and that was great for an afternoon, haha!
CB: I like that.
TSC: I’ll send it to you later.
CB: So, let me see…I wanted to recenter this about where we’re at now, which is just like we started to understand how- so one of the things for you, and it seems like a lot of your work has been focused on especially with these last two books that you’ve published on tarot, you seem to be very much focused on getting to understanding the core meanings of the cards by understanding the overlapping symbolism that’s coming from different places, and sometimes that’s numerological, and other times there’s astrological symbolism that’s brought in from the decans, and maybe we can introduce that in a second, and what those correlations are, but basically you’re really focused on narrowing in on and defining and articulating all of the different ways that the symbolism is coming into play from different angles.
TSC: Yes, that’s interesting that you used the phrase narrowing in on. From my point of view it’s expanding as much as possible to try and figure out how you reconcile these kind of conflicting systems, and it’s something that I think Austin does beautifully in 36 Secrets, or I’m sorry, 36 Faces, sorry Austin. Where you’re dealing with decan images, and significations that are wildly various, and trying to reconcile them, and that’s what I do too. I really try to figure out if there’s some common theme that you can get to despite or within or through all of these different conflicting prismatic kaleidoscopic images that all have to do with this one card.
CB: Right. I’m trying to think of an example, so I’ve got your book, Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers, and it looks like one of them you have the hanged man for example, and you say that’s associated with- because it’s like a table, the roman numeral 12, the arabic number 12, zodiacal glyph downward pointed triangle, which is-
CB: Water element, okay.
TSC: Elemental water, mhm.
CB: Animal you say the eagle, snake, scorpion, fish, water fowl, dolphin. Plant lotus, ash, all water plants, willow, comfrey, and then different perfumes and incenses, and so on and so forth, so there’s multiple different symbolic connections between each card that you can look to in order to understand the meaning underlying each card.
TSC: Yes, and that card in particular is very interesting because in the years since I wrote Tarot Correspondences I’ve done this sort of whole mapping of four elemental stories onto tarot, and the hanged man himself represents the story of water to me. I think of stories of water as having to do with sacrifice and surrender, and I often use the archetype of Odin to hanging on the tree upside down for nine days and nine nights in order to get the secrets of Memir at the well. The secrets of the runes actually. I’m conflating two different myths. Anyway, so there’s something in there that you can then break down into the three zodiacal majors of water, Cancer the chariot, Scorpio the death card, Pisces the Moon, and you can kind of look at that as the chariot representing the quest part of that story of sacrifice and surrender. The Scorpio or death card as representing the transaction of sacrifice, and the Pisces or moon card as representing the altered consciousness that you get on the other side of that deal. But yeah the hanged man is one of my favorites.
CB: Okay. In terms of correspondences, one of the correspondences that you focused on a lot in your past book, and this is where some of the direct technical overlap of astrology comes in, is that there’s a system of using the traditional 36 decans, and the planetary rulers for those decans that have been used for the past 1,500 or 2,000 years, and assigning them to certain specific tarot cards.
TSC: Exactly, exactly, and it’s a weird thing because the astrological overlaps in tarot are idiosyncratic because we can use decans, but we don’t really have anybody dealing with, y’know, bounds, or triplicities, really. I mean, it’s a weird system of assignments, and it’s obviously number driven, right? Because the Golden Dawn recognized, okay, we have this system of 36. How can we superimpose it on the cards in some way?
CB: Let’s talk about that actually because I meant to expand on both the history and origins of the Rider Waite deck, but also the history of the Golden Dawn, so what was the Golden Dawn group, and what was the time frame on that?
TSC: Remarkably short actually. We’re talking about the very beginning. The very beginning years of the 20th century, and they actually didn’t really hold together for more than a few years, but one of the offshoots of that secret society was basically an English initiatic society where they decided to explore many different occult avenues. Esoteric avenues. Astrology, Kabbalah, Yi Jing, all sorts of different things in their own way, and so it was Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith who came out with the Rider Waite Smith deck at the end of 1909 I think it was, and it was really Pamela Coleman Smith’s work that informed Arthur Edward Waite. He didn’t even give her much guidance as far as the minors are concerned, but she was phenomenally gifted and quite psychic as well. Although there’s no reason to believe that she had full access to all of the Golden Dawn’s correspondences that we talk about, they’re in there. They’re nevertheless in there, and you can see them.
CB: Okay, and the tarot itself you wrote in your latest book 36 Secrets that tarot goes back to the 15th century. It’s actually a relatively recent form of divination in the big long term span of things, which goes back over thousands of years, back to like 2,000 3,000 BCE, where there were other forms of divination like watching birds, or-
TSC: Entrails. We all love entrails, haha!
CB: Yeah, that’s everyone’s favorite. Looking at the liver of a sacrificed animal.
TSC: Haruspicy, yes.
CB: Right. Some of the things that were unique could indicate different things, and many other different forms of divination after that, but tarot shows up around the 15th century, but you said something in the book in passing that I was curious about, which is that as we use it today it actually, the current form only goes back to like the mid 18th century, or something like that.
TSC: Oh, the correspondences you mean.
CB: Oh is that what it was? Okay.
TSC: Yeah, well the correspondences only go back to about the mid 18th century in the sense that that’s when Jean Baptiste Alliette, otherwise known as Etteilla, started sort of, y’know, putting together Kabbalah, astrology, numerology, and superimposing it on tarot, but in fact the modern tarot that we use particularly in english speaking countries is all based on Rider Waite Smith, and is all based on this 20th century construction. Now, Tarot de Marseille goes back further, and that’s something you see a great deal more in the continental tradition, so you will see 16th century decks, or 17th century decks, that still look very much like a Marseille deck you could buy today, but the tradition that we see here in english speaking countries is, y’know, and the explosion of tarot decks that we have enjoyed for the last few decades is all based on Rider Waite Smith and Thoth basically. Golden Dawn based decks.
CB: So, I have, I got a gift years ago, which was a tarot cheat deck from another astrologer and friend, Laura Machete, and this is from the 15th century, and shows different cards-
TSC: Oh yeah! That’s a Visconti-Sforza, I think.
CB: Yeah, so this is this, was it used in that context for divination? Or what was the original purpose?
TSC: Gaming. It was a game.
CB: Just games? Okay.
TSC: Yeah, well, hmm. I mean there is some speculation that, for example, the Sola Busca deck, which was not exactly a tarot deck had some kind of deeply buried and interesting sorceress use, but the Visconti-Sforza was this project of a noble family, northern Italian family, late 1400s, and it was really a flex, I think, on their part to some extent, because it’s like, y’know, we have the ability, we have the resources to create this beautiful set of images with our faces on them, and then to construct a deck that can be used in a trump taking game, and I think people sometimes say tarot is less significant because it grew out of a gaming tradition, but actually, to tie it back to the larger theme of divination, I really believe that divination demands a games mindset at some level. The idea, and this is again something that Jung subscribed to, is that it’s fundamentally hermetic. It is a divisive Mercury, who himself was a trickster and a games-player, so what you do is you engage in divination as if it’s a game, as if it’s a play, but earnestly. You enter into it with all earnestness and sincerity, and then you accept whatever happens because I believe that one of my great tenets of divination is that, it’s about not being afraid. Divination is about not being afraid, so in the same mindset that you might enter a game, in a spirit of play, it’s beneficial to do so with divination as well.
CB: Okay, and so it’s connected. It goes back to- and you’re talking about gaming, because it’s not unlike in terms of its origins like a standard set of cards for poker, or something like that-
TSC: Well they’re related, they are related, yeah. I think the differences are really in the majors, y’know. I mean it’s like the main differences are that instead of those suits that we typically talk of, spades and clubs and hearts and diamonds, y’know, those are cognate with the tarot suits. Spades literally means swords, y’know, for example. Cups are hearts, and then there’s some dispute about diamonds and clubs, which actually extends into the esoteric correspondences as well, but the main difference of course is that in tarot you have a set of 22 major arcana, which is completely lacking in playing card decks, and also the other thing is that instead of king, queen, knight, page, you have king, queen, jack, in a playing card deck, so they dropped the knight.
CB: Okay, so-
TSC: But they all come from the same place.
CB: They come from the same place, and part of what you’re saying is that it goes back to that notion of game, and part of maybe the connection there, and what’s important is that with games you initially have to start off with a random or chance component, and a random or chance allotment, and then maybe that idea of allotment is key because that was a super important term in the ancient world when it had to do with fate, because one’s fate was an allotment based on chance, and based on, y’know, fortune or what have you, but that the allotment was meaningful instead of just random or senseless, but purposeful in some way, or intentional in some way on the part of some broader concepts of fate, or the gods, or the cosmos, or what have you.
TSC: Yes, that makes sense, mhm.
CB: Alright, so it’s going back to that, but then tarot branches off, and starts getting this other thing with image interpretations, and images that were attributed meaning, and also correspondences based on astrology and other occult things, and then eventually as you were saying by 1909, or 1910, there’s the creation of this new tarot deck, which is the Rider Waite Smith deck, and that became basically the core archetype of all other tarot decks since that time for the most part.
TSC: Yes. Particularly because the minor cards, the ‘scenic minors’ is what we call them. The idea that there’s little scenes playing out on each minor card, rather than just showing you four wands. It shows you something that’s happening that you can project into and onto, and I think that accounts for its popularity.
CB: Okay, and who were the three figures that were associated again, and what’s the history behind- or the short cliff notes version of the history behind the making of this deck?
TSC: Arthur Edward Waite, and Pamela Coleman Smith. Pamela Coleman Smith was very much involved in the theatre world, the theatre scene in England at that time, so there’s a lot of Shakespearean and theatre imagery embedded in those cards. It was really those two, and then of course, for those who follow the Thoth deck, Aleister Crowley was briefly a member of the Golden Dawn, but he and Lady Frieda Harris devised the Thoth deck in the 40s in war time, although it wasn’t actually issued until 1969.
CB: Okay, so there’s another deck, and the Thoth deck was- sometimes when I hear people talk about that they sort of lower their voice, and there’s a sense of it being a little bit almost like menacing, or having a darker energy in some of the symbolism. Is that your take, is that true? Am I recounting that correctly as someone as an outsider to this?
TSC: So I think what’s going on there is people’s feelings about Crowley, you know? I mean because he has such a reputation, and the Thoth deck is, well, part of the problem with the Thoth deck is that Lady Frieda did not like drawing faces, haha! So what faces there are in there are sort of menacing, and modernist and stylized, but it is a deck that does have sort of a vibe about it that I think people find either incredibly attractive and compelling, or rather off putting and sinister.
CB: Do you know what the copyright status is of that, and if I can show an image? Or should I avoid that for this?
TSC: I think you can show an image. I think it’s fine in the context of fair use.
CB: 1940s okay well-
TSC: Show the seven of discs, or I can show it if you like. I have-
CB: If you’ve got it. I’ve just pulled up the Google search results.
TSC: Yes, let me see…I would have to just bring up my Thoth image folder if I can, so they are…
CB: And so in both instances I don’t know if that’s relevant at all, but it was like some guy that was into occultism, and then they had a woman that was actually the designer who designed the actual images in both cases?
TSC: Yes, it seems strange doesn’t it? But yes, that is what happened. I do not have screen sharing, do you think you can enable?
CB: Yeah, let me see if I can do that. Allow to…okay. Make co-host. Let’s see if that helps without crashing our recording.
TSC: Yes, we’re good, okay. There we go. So this is the seven of discs, which, yknow, it’s a little darker. It’s a little- doesn’t really meet you where you live. On the other hand, one thing that people who are into the correspondences love about it is that you can see the actual correspondences on it. Let’s see…you can just barely see it because I’ve removed the borders, but that’s a Saturn glyph at the top, and a Taurus glyph at the bottom.
CB: Got it.
TSC: Yeah. Let me stop that share.
CB: Okay, so that was a later one though that came about a few decades later, but the Rider Waite Smith deck that was out, 1909, 1910, became the blueprint for all other decks for the most part following that.
TSC: Yes, but really the reason is because it was reissued by the late beloved Stewart Caplan, who just passed this weekend, in 1971, and with the Thoth deck being released in 1969, so between the two of them, but especially the Rider Waite Smith, that really launched this sort of modern era of tarot where along with the new age movement with its roots in the 70s, tarot really took off starting then.
CB: Okay. When was it colorized? From the beginning? Or was that a separate process?
TSC: Yes, it was color from the beginning, although the original colors were much more muted than the 1971 edition that most people are familiar with, which is very yellow.
CB: Okay, got it. Let me see…I’m trying to think if there are any more historical things that are relevant besides that. Today there are, y’know, hundreds and thousands of different decks, and different people. Your co-host on the podcast I know has done one or two different of their own decks, or illustrated their own decks.
TSC: Mhm, that’s right, yes.
CB: What’s that one called again?
TSC: The Rosetta Tarot was her first deck, and the Tabula Mundi Tarot, which she did originally in black and white, and then colored the new edition, which is called the Colores Arcus Tabula Mundi, and it’s beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful, and as well as the majors edition that she did last year called the Pharos Tarot.
CB: Okay, and I showed I’ve got the Tarocchi deck, and I actually, I bought a deck very early on, and it was the one by- I think it’s called the Mythic Tarot by Liz Greene, and Juliet Sharman-Burke.
TSC: Oh yeah! The original one you have, because it was reissued like ten years ago.
CB: I think, mayble. Is this original?
TSC: That’s it! I have that hanging on my wall of wheel right to my right, haha.
CB: I love that, yeah, so I-
TSC: It’s a wonderful, wonderful deck.
CB: Because they try to integrate mythology, or classic mythology into the symbolism of some of the different ones, so like one of them is the wheel of fortune, and it shows the three fates from Greek mythology.
TSC: Yes! It shows the Moirae, and in fact I just placed that on my wall last week so that I would have those three, y’know, Atropos, Lachesis, and Clotho, to look at when I recite the Orphic hymn to the Moirae, so I look at that every day now.
CB: I like that. Good timing. That’s just an example of another deck. I had bought that early on because when I got into astrology when I was still in my mid teens, I tried to dive into a bunch of different things, and I was getting really into astrology, and I bought a tarot deck, and I also bought a book on the Yijing, and some coins, but I decided really early on that I needed to really focus my energy on one, and so I decided to learn astrology, and go as far with that as I could. I didn’t actually end up learning tarot, even though I am very loosely familiar with it, so it’s not something I specialize in much at all, and some of this is new to me.
TSC: Well, y’know, I think you’ve got some really good decks there. The book for the Mythic Tarot is particularly good, but I think that there is sort of a more fundamental truth to your biography there, which is that tarot and astro people tend to overlap quite a bit, you know? I’ve found that everyone dabbles at one point or another with both, and I don’t know if you can predict who’s going to go one way, or the other, but most people have a passing familiarity with one if they know the other.
CB: Sure, yeah. Sometimes once you- maybe part of it is that once you are exposed to one form of divination, and you understand the basic underlying principles, it’s not that that’s immediately transferable, but you at least, it opens up an understanding of how the world works, and like a cosmos where other things like that could be possible.
TSC: An openness, yeah.
CB: Yeah, an openness, so you might be more open to entertaining different forms of divination, and seeing how they work, or perhaps getting a reading from somebody, or what have you.
CB: That brings up a question then: do different forms of divination have different characters? Are there different ones that are better or worse for certain types of questions, or one of the things my partner Leisa often comments on is she feels like different forms of divination sometimes have a different character, and sometimes they’re embedded in certain philosophical outlooks. For example, some of the philosophy underlying the Yijing might give it a certain spin that sometimes may come off as more moralizing for example sometimes. Do you think that’s true, or how do you feel about that? What does that spark in you in terms of thoughts?
TSC: Yes, I mean, I think that’s true. I think that, you know, I tend to be more of a lumper than a splitter if you know what I mean?
TSC: I tend to always see first what things have in common, as opposed to the ways in which they’re different, but I do think that…I think that the moment that you get into the moral framework around a divination system you’re talking about culture and context in a way that is in some ways outside of the process, of the subjective process, that is truly what divination is about, right? I mean, I think- this is something that I’ve had to, and I think every reader has to learn to do in the course of their life as a reader, which is you deal with the situation as it comes to you, and you try not to pass judgement on it, because the minute that you and all of your ego consciousness, and all of your belief systems start to bare on the question, you’re getting in the way. It’s very hard not to do, but I’ve had this conversation with Rachel Pollack a number of times about what is okay to read about, where you should be hands off, should you spy on third parties, should you read for health things like that? Because we are trying to be ethical people we sometimes come up with rules around that, but what Rachel has said to me in the past is, who am I to say what’s a good question, and what’s not? To me there’s a humility to that, and a sort of willingness to help no matter what that I try to remember even while trying to bridge the difference by making sure that people have talked to their doctor, or have hotlines for whatever problem it is that they need, but I’ve had people ask everything from “how can I make sure that my spouse doesn’t find out about my infidelity?” to “am I going to get a 93 on the next test that I take for my nursing exam?” I try to just answer the question as much as possible.
CB: Right, without imposing your own sense of morals on it.
TSC: To me that’s the fundamental nature of divination is just answering the question. Now as far as, do different systems have different temperaments or characters? I do think so to some extent.
CB: And maybe I should’ve asked what forms of divination are you familiar with, or do you either actively practice, or do you feel like you have enough passing familiarity with?
TSC: So I really am first and foremost a tarot person. I do sort of play with other card systems sometimes. I’ve played with runes, I’ve played with Yijing, but there’s something also that I think is important to me, which is that I don’t really think, even though I’m so invested in tarot, and I live and breath tarot, I don’t really think the system matters that much. I have done divination sitting out in the woods with sticks and stones, and to me that’s a very pure form of the art, right? You try to connect with something that is larger than you, and it doesn’t matter what the medium is, so philosophically that’s what I believe. Whether I actually, you know, can practice to the same degree of efficacy is a completely different question.
CB: Do you think that it’s true, so let’s just say then in a tarot context, that different tarot decks have different characters, even if there’s an underlying commonality in terms of some of the things that they’re conveying?
TSC: Yes. Well, I think the commonality allies more in the reader than in the cards if that makes sense. One thing I notice for example if I’m using a Marseille Tarot, so that’s, y’know, a little bit like that Visconti-Sforza that you were using, but a typical wood cut deck, which has nothing but regular pips, and anyone who is familiar with the tradition will recognize those images. They are ubiquitous, and I find that when I use Marseille decks I tend to focus a great deal more on the surface image, y’know, whether someone is looking at someone else. Whether someone is- oh wait I see the Fool down there. There you go, there’s some Marseille. Also, it focuses me on number as well because the pips are nothing but pips. They show no scenes. You can see a ten of wands over there, you tend to think a great deal more about how ten wands is the maximum. You think about, there’s a five of cups there, you think about how the fifth cup is set apart. The designs around it, the so called arabesque, the leaves and foliage, that has meaning, so there are many Marseille readers who say don’t even bring a correspondence system near my tarot deck because that’s insulting. I don’t think you can divorce the interpreter from what they know. I bring everything to every reading. That said I think that symbol is a language, and I think that different decks will foreground certain messages through that language, but I also think, and here we get into magic, I also think you can argue back. You know the language, you can argue back. It’s a conversation.
CB: Okay, that makes sense, so maybe it’s a little bit of that, so there’s the deck itself, and maybe it has a slight character emphasizing different things, and then with divination there’s also the subjective component, and that’s something you’ve mentioned a few times. That’s really relevant here in terms of one of the things I can think of is what experiences you’ve had when you’ve been experiencing certain things in your life, and maybe you’ve pulled different cards, and how that gets sort of seared into your memory in terms of what your personal experience is, therefore in the future you connect that card with?
TSC: Yes, absolutely. That happens all the time. Well, we talked about the five of pentacles a little bit before, and I wanted to mention that because of my experiences with technical problems with that card. I will often do sympathetic magic with that card, so for example, one thing that I did one day when I got the five of pentacles was I didn’t want to get locked out of anyplace, I didn’t want to have financial problems, or car trouble, or whatever, so I did something that needed to be done around the house. We had a broken lock on our front door, a slide bolt, and I got my husband’s tools, and I fixed it, which to me was a way of saying, look, this fulfills the requirement. It has to do with keys and locks, and being locked out, it has to do with planning ahead, which we talked about with that card Mercury in Taurus, and worry, worry that my door would blow open or somebody would come in, so sympathetic magic is a way that I respond to that. Another card that is similar for me is the seven of pentacles, which is sometimes known as the lord of failure, and so with that one I will often kind of build more time into what I have to do. For example, the searing experience for me was one day when I got the five of pentacles and the seven of pentacles, and at the time I was still mostly a food writer, so I was going to the James Beard Awards. I had been a judge for them, and I was supposed to get on a bus that afternoon to go down there. Well, I ended up having trouble parking, missing my bus, having to take an incredibly expensive Amtrak ride down there instead, and arriving late, and having to change into, y’know, my black tie stuff on the train, and I was going to stay at somebody’s house where they had mailed the key to a FedEx office that closed at 11:45, and I just barely made it there. I nearly got locked out and on the street, so since that happened I’ve been very conscious of the potential of both those cards to cause technical troubles, and if I ever get that combination again, which I may, there are 3,003 two-card combinations, I’m through about 60% of them now, I’ll know what to do. The other thing that I will often do is having had a number of stressful iterations of the tower card. I will do sympathetic magic for that too. I have literally crawled down stairs head-first to draw off the charge of that card, and when I get the ten of swords famously I will go to the store and buy ten sewing needles, and then I will sit in the parking lot and say the requirements have been fulfilled.
CB: Okay, I like that, so part of this, and you mentioned this I think in both of your books, which is that you feel like the tarot pieces, and learning about the future, learning about what’s manifesting now, or coming up in the future, is one piece of it, but that the other side of that coin for you is magic, or sympathetic magic being connected with that, and it almost sounds like one of the implicit things that you’re saying they’re taking for granted is that the symbolism has to manifest in some way, so why not just be more deliberate about taking that into your hands, and bringing it to fulfillment actively and deliberately by doing something that actually fultills and fits that symbolism, and that that will sort of capture or soak up the symbolism in your life like a sponge, but also-
TSC: It’s one way to do it, yeah.
CB: To direct it, okay.
TSC: One way to manifest or express it, and because that’s what we do in magical ritual, right? We put a conglomeration of symbol together with words and intention, and say this is what this means now, and what I’d like to bring down, so I believe that it seems intellectually coherent to me that we should be able to master this language, and not only find out information which is what divination does, but also change what’s going on in the conditions around us.
CB: Okay, so it’s not just about finding out the future, but also possibly once you have that information and that power that you might have the power to alter, or even to change the future.
TSC: Oh absolutely, and in fact, one of my favorite things to do with a tarot deck is to say okay, so, suppose that I am in a position where I feel really stuck, like the eight of swords is a card that might represent that. It shows a woman who’s all bound up, she’s got swords around her, and say I want to get out of that situation and be free to do whatever it is that I want, which I might represent with the star for example, which is a famous archetype of freedom, so what I might do is I might shuffle the deck, and then I would actually literally turn it over and look for those two cards inside the deck, and then once I’d found them, I would take all of the cards that fell between the eight of swords, and the star, could be two cards, could be 74, you know, and from that pile I will make a bridge from the eight of swords to the star, so I might draw three cards, or five cards, or two cards, or whatever it is I can handle, and that will become a kind of working of sorts for getting from point A to point B.
CB: Okay, that makes sense. That makes me think back to in early Mesopotamia they had what were called Namburbi rituals, or propitiation rituals, that they would do sometimes when there was a negative indication, or a negative omen indicated by the divination, and it was what was called an Apotropaic ritual, so for example one of the most famous ones was the substitute King ritual, where if there was a bad eclipse that indicted negative things for the King, or the kingdom, they might substitute and take some peasant or some farmer, and make him King for a week, and he would be the one who would be the King during the period that looked inauspicious, or when something negative would happen for the King, and then after that was over they would make him not the King, and then that would be the end.
TSC: In the best case he would probably get his head chopped off.
CB: Yeah, unfortunately there’s sort of a dark side to that, but there was that or more recently in more modern times I’ve heard about for example in India, and I’m not sure if I’m recalling this correctly, but the notion of if you had a negative indication for marriage through divination or astrology, like marrying a tree or something initially as your first marriage in order to ward off or fulfill that in some way that symbolism, and then that way it would clear the way for having other fulfilling relationships later, or something like that if I’m recalling correctly.
TSC: Those are brilliant examples. I think sympathetic and Apotropaic magics are something that we see universally for that very reason.
TSC: In conjunction with the nation, yeah.
CB: That may be something that’s tied in with divination going back very far, and may be an important thing to keep in mind. I was reading this book last night that’s really good. It’s a translation of a book by a Mesopotamian scholar named Stefan Maul, and it’s titled The Art of Divination in the Ancient Near East: Reading the Signs of Heaven and Earth, and it was talking about some of things, and the different forms of divination, and one of the things that he really focused on was just the notion that divination was kind of like a technology for attempting to gain foreknowledge about the future, and there were all of these discussions about foreknowledge, being forewarned about something, and the idea that perhaps you could erase the boundary between present and future, and that that was what was at the core of divination fundamentally in the ancient world, as well as the idea eventually once that had developed that knowledge of the future was something that was both desirable and potentially advantageous because if you could know the future you might be able to do something different in order to alter it in some way.
TSC: Yes, I think that that’s really interesting, and it does kind of get back to that sort of intersection of eternal order and linear time. The idea that maybe by accessing that nexus that we have some way of getting beyond the normal limits on our perception of past and future. I think also there’s something that Geoffrey Cornelius said in your interview with him about symbol not being defined by time, and I think that’s something that many of us have experienced, that when we’re receiving oracular information, whether it’s through dream, or through one of these praxis, it doesn’t always respect the boundaries of time. You might hear something that you didn’t know about the past and you might very well hear something that you didn’t know about the future. In fact, I get all kinds of really pointless information about the future in my dreams. I record dreams almost every night, and it’s like, stupid stuff like I remember one night I dreamed that I was in a hotel and I was packing up, and Salvador Dali was in the next room, and the very next day I saw program on Dali, and I had no idea that was coming, so it’s not necessarily that it’s all that advantageous all the time, but it’s just a demonstration that this stuff is more porous than we think.
CB: Yeah, that divination has access to a world, or a layer of reality that is not constrained by time, and where the boundaries between-
TSC: Or space.
CB: Or space, right, and some of those boundaries are erased in some weird way. That kind of takes us back to astrology then in where astrology fits into all of this, which is that, in ancient Mesopotamia, about 4,000 years ago, there were a bunch of other systems of divination that developed first including what you just mentioned like divination from dreams, but also reading the flocks or patterns in birds, or other different forms of divination like that. Studying entrails, or livers, and other things, and then eventually at some point they started paying attention to celestial omens like comets, or eclipses, and celestial divination became one of the forms of divination as well because some of those things can be random or chance-like phenomenon that the human doesn’t have any control over, but will just, y’know, happen, and suddenly there is a unique appearance of something that speaks, and the notion of natural phenomenon that are random or chance-like speaking to you about something that’s happening in the present, or giving an indication or a sign, or an omen about the future was a natural extension from the other forms of divination.
TSC: Yes, and there’s also that wonderful, what is it called? Cledon I think, y’know, the divination by crowds where you just walk into the street and the first thing you hear is what pertains to your situation.
CB: Okay, and you also mentioned earlier, bibliomancy, which is divination by books where you pick a book randomly and you open it up to a random page, and then there’s something about the page that you fall on that may be significant in that moment for some reason.
TSC: Yes, yes yes yes.
CB: Are there any other interesting or weird forms of divination that you can think of off the top of your head that we’re forgetting to mention.
TSC: Probably. I’m sure there are, oh here comes my cat. Ailuromancy, haha!
TSC: Yeah, no, I mean I think that I really love the idea that you can divine using nearly anything, you know? Because I don’t think that divination is an elevated art. I think it’s just using the tools you have at hand, and if you have no tools, you just look out your window.
CB: Okay, so anything that can have a natural phenomena that has a random or chance-like allotment or characteristic to it you can use for divination, and so initially celestial omens started being one of those things, and it was a late form of divination that developed, but eventually it seems like it started becoming more and more important in Mesopotamia, and they started collecting these little clay tablets where they would write down celestial omens, and what they meant, or celestial omens that had occurred in the past, and what that had coincided with like the eclipse in one part of the sky and the death of a King, or let’s say an eclipse in a different area and a famine occurred or something like that, and they started building up libraries of these observations of celestial movements, and their correlations on Earth. Then something happened eventually which is that that form of divination started getting elevated more and more in Mesopotamia, and this author I was reading last night, part of his argument was that that happened partially because astrology wasn’t as localized as some of the other forms of divination that were only occurring within the field of view of a small field of view of the person observing it. Let’s say casting cards and it’s just you and whoever else is in the room can see that, but with astrology sometimes it was like an eclipse and the entire city is watching.
TSC: Yeah! Written across the sky for all to see.
CB: Right, so it was something that might have been applying more broadly to the city, or the state as a whole, or the world in general in some way, so that astrology started getting this more elevated position, and one of the things that becomes tricky about astrology that might throw an issue in there is that as Mesopotamia studied more and more, and started putting more towards studying the movements of the planets and the stars, they realized that the movements of the planets were cyclical, and predetermined, and that through the development of mathematical astronomy you could actually create an ephemeris where you could actually predict where the planets would be in the future, and where they were in the past, and eventually we get the development of things like natal astrology, which is the notion that you look at the alignment of the cosmos at the moment a person is born, and it will tell you something about the future of that person’s life basically. So two things, one: it starts bringing up an issue with astrology that makes it unique, to me at least compared to other forms of divination, which is that the alignment of the planets is predetermined, and is already determined in some way before you look at it, whereas with tarot you have to shuffle the deck of cards, and then pull the cards out, and it almost, it’s not predetermined or doesn’t really exist necessarily until that moment.
TSC: Exactly. With the exception of horary in a sense. In the sense that with horary you’re dealing with the understanding of the interpreter, in a way that’s much more subjective.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point, and horary was Geoffrey Cornelius’s access point because there was a revival of horary in the 1980s where horary wasn’t really practiced very much, but then some astrologers in the UK got really interested in it and revived it through reprinting William Lily’s classic text from the 17th century, Christian Astrology, which was primarily on horary, and Geoffrey Cornelius said that horary, which is when a client approaches an astrologer, and the astrologer casts a chart for the moment that the client asks an important question, and then can try to answer the question by looking at the chart, which is very similar to tarot in that you’re casting something for that moment, and then the random or chance-like characteristic is seen to be purposeful instead of just random and meaningless. Geoffrey Cornelius argued that horary should not be set aside, and should not be treated as different, but in fact horary was pointing to something that was true for astrology in general, which is that all astrology is divination, and it’s not just horary that is divinatory.
TSC: Yes, well the interesting thing about astrology I think is that if you take a step back, y’know, we talked earlier about the necessity of chance and chaos and randomness in acts of divination, and one thing that I think we get away from sometimes is the idea that astrology is based on looking at the sky that’s just a field of stars. The constellations are an artifact, they’re an imposition, they are a projection, and that projection I think is analogous to what we do in finding patterns in tarot, or in other divination systems where we impose meaning, or well, hmm, we co create meaning let’s say with the substrate of whatever it is that we’re looking at.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point. We do a similar process, so this was mentioned earlier, for example, there’s benefic planets, and there’s malefic planets, and that probably arose out of just an observational distinction, where the two benefic planets, Venus and Jupiter, appear like these two bright, white, gleaming, twinkling stars that move through the night sky if you look up and visualize them, whereas Mars and Saturn, Saturn appears more dark and brown, and Mars is more reddish, and so early astrologers in Mesopotamia saw that visual distinction, and then created a sort of binary where they said these are the “benefic” planets that tend to indicate more positive things, and these are the “malefic” planets that tend to indicate more difficult things, but it was originally just based on that visual component, or that symbolic interpretation of interpreting visual symbolism.
TSC: Yes, and even though modern astrologers might just be looking at Solar Fire, rather than at the night sky, it’s still an imposition of a pattern. It’s still producing a framework that encourages meaning to arise.
CB: Yeah, definitely. Because now 2,000 years after that system was created, it is largely just a symbol set, and it’s something people look at on a computer screen, and the meanings are already pre-applied in terms of this means this, and so on and so forth, but it is important that if you take it all the way back as far as you can go, often there were symbolic reasons like that visual distinction that I just talked about before for where that distinction of benefic and malefic came from originally, or to give another example, that the first house and the Ascendant, because that’s where the Sun and the planets rise, or emerge from underneath the horizon each day, that that’s the part of the chart that represents the person who was born at that time, which is you, the owner of the birth chart, whereas the seventh house, which is where planets set and sync out of site, and sort of merge with the Earth, that that represents ‘the other’ or partnership, or other people in your life generically speaking.
CB: So the first house is ‘self,’ and seventh house is ‘the other,’ or to extend that further that the tenth house and the midheaven represent when the planets and the Sun is in the middle of the sky, and is at its most visible, symbolically that represents where you will be at your most visible, and it represents your career, and your public life, vs the place opposite to that, the fourth house and the IC, which is the most hidden part of the chart visibly, where the planets are at their most invisible, that that represents your private life, and therefore represents your home and your living situation.
TSC: Right, right.
CB: There’s that, we can see very early on that astrologers were deriving many of the rules for astrology from the same sort of visual symbolism that we see showing up in things like tarot.
TSC: Yes, although, and I mean just to take the devil’s advocate position, there is something fundamentally different in the fact that you can project forward in such an accurate and predictable way. In a way that you obviously can’t with sortilege systems.
CB: Yeah, and that’s the issue that I’ve had with it, and that’s where I depart from Geoffrey Cornelius, and I have objections to seeing astrology only as divination, or as completely one-to-one correspondences as a result of that, because there is something that seems more objective about it that’s existing out there independently of us paying attention to it, and independently of our involvement in it. That’s something I definitely want to talk about, but it’s like the fact that there are overlaps, and we can see in terms of this use of symbolism, there are some points where, yeah, it is using symbolic thinking and interpretation, and things like that, that are relevant and do overlap with tarot and other-
TSC: Very much so, and I think that maybe it’s just a question of emphasis because I think what Cornelius was saying is simply that, y’know, the specificity of the moment of the reading, of the interpreter, of the relationship is more important to privilege than it had been getting before.
CB: Okay, so, there’s that predetermined notion to it with the planets, but then there’s also something I’ve thought about a lot over the years, over the past few years, about natal astrology and the origins of natal astrology, because natal astrology actually originally developed in Mesopotamia, and the oldest birth chart date to 410 BCE. There is actually a random or chance component to natal astrology which is that, y’know, you don’t for the most part, especially let’s say naturally in the 5th century BCE, you don’t control when you’re born, neither the native does, let’s just say all other metaphysical or reincarnation things aside, nor the doctor or the mother, it’s just suddenly the mother goes into labor, and then the labor could be long, or it could be really short, and then all of a sudden you pop out, and then if there’s somebody there who’s paying attention they could note what stars, or other planets, or other celestial objects can be seen at that moment, or they can note what is the random order of the planets at that time, and even though the positions of the planets are predetermined in the past and the future, what’s not predetermined is that moment that you pop out, and that’s the random or chance-like characteristic of the moment of birth in natal astrology in some sense.
TSC: That makes a great deal of sense. I hadn’t thought about it that way.
CB: Yeah. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about for a number of years as I try to wrestle with Cornelius’ argument, and the question of astrology as divination, and it’s like the underlying thing that it goes back to the notion of chance being a core component to divination, and needing to be there in order to operate because divination is foreknowledge of the future, or the ability to see the future through tapping into something that’s happening underlying reality, where chance is more meaningful and purposeful than it otherwise should be, or than we think that it is.
TSC: Yes, that’s right, and then there are also times when context matters more. I mean, in the sense that I was just listening to your episode with Lee Lehman on horary, and she was talking about how on 9/11, which was a terrible day sky wise, I understand, she did a horary reading for someone, a relationship reading, that was great because looking at the context of the houses, and where the rulers were situated, it just, the overall conditions are not the only factor.
CB: Right. Yeah, so the context matters of the question, or what’s emerging at that time because there might be a person who’s born at that time, so their birth chart has relevance for their entire life, so let’s say the next 70 or 80 years or something like that, vs if somebody is just asking a horary question of will I get the job, that has a much shorter time span of just what that question was, and-
TSC: And a limited frame of reference, yeah.
CB: Right, but in that context it’s like I’ve kind of thought about natal astrology then if it was even partially a form of divination, then what is the question, there’s like a question there, which is what is this person’s life about? That is almost what the birth chart is and that’s one of the ways that I viewed natal astrology, and tried to approach chart interpretation, and that’s also one of the things that makes it tricky because it’s a chart that represents your entire life in some ways, and it describes some of the stand out points in your life that are unique to you, and unique to your life compared to everybody else.
TSC: Yes, exactly, and there’s so much information in that one moment, and you don’t get a do-over, which reminds me of something else that is kind of a core principle of divination for me, which is that you only ask a question once.
CB: Yes, so there’s rules like that right? That’s one of the rules for divination, or “rules” to whatever extent you can impose rules and frameworks on divination, there are some specific rules like that like one question at a time, or you can’t ask a question and then turn around and go to another diviner and ask the same question like the next day or something.
TSC: Right, and I mean you know it’s not a moral rule, right? It’s a practical rule, and I think that’s because, well, for example I was once doing a reading for someone, as is so often the case, she wanted to know about her relationship, and she wanted a nice answer. I give people a lot of bad news, but anyways, so she asked for the reading, I did the reading, the news was not good news, and she started saying can we draw again? I said, well, what’s your question now? She didn’t have another question, and she kind of just took over the cards and started drawing cards, and I said, what’re you doing? And she said I’m looking for the answer I want, which I thought was a brutally honest way of putting it, haha! The thing is the metaphysical framework in which I see asking one question once is like this, I mean, I think that when we engage in the oracular moment it is a transaction. It is almost like a magical ritual in that there is an exchange of one thing for the other. There’s a sacrifice, and I think, this is just my belief, that the thing that we sacrifice is our doubts, as we’ve said before doubt, or worry, is the opposite of meaning. We exchange our doubts for meaning, and if you take back your sacrifice, you have to give back the meaning as well, right? It’s like if you- this is something that can only be done in the absence of doubt, and once you start to ask the question again and again, and increase the level of doubt, you’re eroding the level of meaning. It’s an inverse ratio.
TSC: That’s the way I see it.
CB: Yeah, that seems really important, and I mean that kind of gets into two things: one, we don’t always get what we want, and that can be true in both short term things, or small term things, like will I get the job type questions let’s say, vs if you’re looking at a person’s entire life. Does the person get what they want when it comes to let’s say career tenth house, or relationships seventh house, or what they might ideally want in terms of fourth house, and their relationship with their parents, or their fifth house and their children or what have you, and that question of, I mean, it kind of gets into one thing that you wanted to get into which is agency, and how much agency do we have vs. to what extent are certain things outside of our control, and how much can you change your fate, especially if you theoretically know about it ahead of time. How much are things negotiable?
TSC: Yes, and that’s a fascinating question to me, it really is, because I used to use this analogy of tarot being like a map. It didn’t tell you to go anywhere, but just gave you information, so for example you want to get from point A to point B, here are some roads you can take. Here is where you are. Here is how far you are, but you don’t have to go there. You can just toss the map out the window if you want. That’s what I used to say, and now I tend to think about agency in different ways. I’ve talked about it a little bit. The idea that you have to satisfy the shape, the quality of the moment, the shape of the archetype in some way, but I do believe that you have some choice over how that happens. Much in the way that if you’re in a car, and you’re subject to motion sickness, it’s very different if you’re in the driver’s seat, vs whether you’re in the passenger seat, right? You’re not going to be as ill if you’re the one driving, and even though you’re in the exact same place, going in the exact same direction, doing the exact same thing practically, and I think there’s probably an analogy to this in the experience for example of the Saturn return. How you experience this, you have some agency and some control over that to some degree.
CB: Some degree.
TSC: Some degree, haha. And the other thing that, well this is, I’m not sure you want to go in this direction or not, but I wanted to just tie back for a moment into this idea, which I talked a little bit about in 36 Secrets of decanic dignity being different from other forms of dignity, and this is something that I have not heard talked about very much other than from Austin, and who I think mentioned that Bonatti describes decanic dignity as having the, y’know, it’s just the resources you have on your own, not through citizenship, not through connections, or the protection of a sovereign, etc., which are analogies you might apply to other kinds of dignity, but to what you have, your own resources thrown back on yourself, and to me that is such a beautiful notion. The idea that both with the decans, and with these minor arcana, that they represent things that are within your control. Small secrets. Small acts. Small mysteries that you have some agency over in ways you might not in other cases like with the major arcana.
CB: Okay, yeah that’s really interesting and makes a lot of sense and ties back in the dignity. The issue of agency when it comes to divination is really important, and really tricky, and one of the questions that comes up that I sometimes have in astrology is, you mentioned the Saturn return, and the question there is do some people have more agency in certain areas of their life than others? For some people maybe certain areas are going to be more negotiable, where if they have a thing come up, and it’s surmountable difficulty, and they’re able to by applying themselves, and working hard, or improving themselves, or something like that, y’know, overcome that, and it becomes a classic what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger type thing in their life, vs sometimes people really do run into a wall in some part of their life, and there is a stop sign that says you cannot proceed further. Do not pass go and collect $200 or what have you. You just cannot move forward in that area of your life, and one of the things that’s tricky as astrologers, and maybe just in terms of divination in general, is being able to know that there is a difference between the two, and recognize those as two different scenarios sometimes. I guess maybe that’s part of my view, and maybe I should ask you if you view that as well? Do you view certain areas which may be less negotiable for certain people, or do you think everything is negotiable?
TSC: Well, that’s interesting. That kind of does tie into this larger issue of fate. I mean, I tend to think just philosophically at a personal level that there’s always a better and a worse response to any situation, and that you do have a little bit of control over that. It may not be very much, but you always have something, and that’s the way I read for people. I was thinking about this because this is another question that was on our outline, the idea of whether you can do mundane tarot in the same way you can do mundane astrology, and these tarot scopes that are becoming very popular.
CB: Yeah that’s exploded in the past few years on Youtube, and this is kind of a new thing right? Or was this always a thing?
TSC: Yeah, I think it’s a new thing. I mean I’ve seen them around for some years, but now it’s huge.
CB: And just to define that for people, you used to search on Youtube for a horoscope for whatever sign like Scorpio February 2021 horoscope, and it would be like an astrologer talking about where the planets are now relative to your Sun sign, or your Rising sign or what have you, but what has become more popular and has almost eclipsed that in the past few years is, you’ll search for Scorpio February 2021 horoscope, and it’ll be somebody who has a deck of tarot cards and they’ll shuffle them and then pull some cards, and then interpret the symbolism of those cards, and say that that applies to Scorpio, or to Leo, or what have you.
TSC: Yeah, and it’s very interesting, and I mean to some extent it’s plausible in the same way that, y’know, reading a horoscope column may be based on the Rising rather than the Sun sign, but I did one of those type things recently with my friends Eric Arneson and Andrew Watt just to see what it would be like. I did the tarot portion one card for each month, and a lot of it kind of made sense based on what I anticipate in the year to come, and some of it didn’t, so we’ll see, but one thing I can say is that I got the tower for May, so we’ll be very interested to see what happens then.
CB: Alright, you’ll have to report back with that experiment, and let me know how it turned out. Yeah, tarot scopes have become and blown up into a huge thing over the past few years.
TSC: But the thing is in general, I mean, I think I can say for sure that tarot is enormously powerful at an individual and subjective and contextual level. How you can extend that to the larger world beats me, you know? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t.
CB: And it’s like sometimes with horoscopes or say Sun sign columns in the newspapers sometimes they are presented in that way, and I know there’s some Sun sign writers like Rick Levine for example who view it almost as a form of divination because for some of them it used to be like you only have a paragraph to tell the person what their day is going to be like, or what have you, or what they might experience, and he always viewed that more as a form of divination to write something poetic that was tied into actual astrological transits, but how that hit with each individual person who read that that there was this random or chance-like, and sort of divinatory part of that-
TSC: Yes, and it’s very interesting because it almost shifts some of the divinatory responsibility onto the reader, right? Because when you- and that’s instructive in a way. It helps you remember it’s not just about the cards, it’s not just about the divinor, it’s about the person receiving it, and you know, what they bring to it, and what they hear, which can be quite different from what you said.
CB: Yeah, and there’s two points about that. I have like a tension there though because with, there’s that, but then there’s also let’s say mundane astrology where sometimes there’s an alignment of planets that you could’ve calculated 2,000 years ago that in March of 2020 there was going to be a pileup of planets in the sign of Capricorn, and that looked like a pretty tough, pretty gnarly lineup of planets, and you know at that time in the US, and around the world, the pandemic had fully broken out, and every place went into lockdown, and there were some astrologers who saw that ahead of time. Pretty much all astrologers who did year ahead forecasts knew that was going to be a tough alignment, even if they didn’t articulate the specifics, but there were some astrologers like Andre Barbeau, for example, who eight or ten years earlier had published a study on pandemics, where if you looked at alignments in the past, and which ones had lined up with pandemics, and said based on this repeating cycle in history this seems to mean that there’s going to be another pandemic around the 2020-2021 time frame, and that turned out to be a good call, and he died I think a year before the pandemic hit, but there’s-
TSC: It’s remarkable.
CB: Yeah, and that strikes me as more objective thing that’s occurring out there independent of us, which it almost seems different than the more divinatory thing, which requires participation on the part of asking a question, or prompting the reader to shuffle the cards for you, and pull them, and tell you what will happen, or even casting a horary chart, which requires looking or casting a chart for a specific question or what have you, and maybe that’s part of the tension I still have. Is astrology just divination, or is there another component that’s out there that’s independent, and is part of some other natural thing that’s occurring in the cosmos?
TSC: Yeah! Maybe it’s just a question of scale. I mean it’s interesting you used the word ‘participation’ because there’s this idea of participation mystique. The idea that we are involved in the world at some level, right? There is no separation between you and me and all of matter, which is what makes divination possible. That’s an idea by Levy Bruhl I think, but the, and there’s something that makes me think of, which is that, what if the really big stuff is what we’re able to pick up on in an objective or independent way? Like that cluster of planets in Capricorn, and what that did to everyone, whereas maybe at I don’t know, at a smaller level there are things that are negotiable for everybody, but one thing I do remember from that March 2020 period, while all of that was going on in the sky, I was doing reader after reading, because naturally everyone was freaking out, and over and over again people would ask, tell me about what’s going on in my life. How am I going to get through this? I did any number of past, present, future type spreads, and the present one over and over again I saw the Tower. To me that is tarot sort of expressing itself in a mundane way. This is happening to everybody. Especially because it’s a major arcana, the tower, there’s very little you can do about it.
CB: Okay. I’m trying to find the tarot in the Rider Waite deck. What number is it?
TSC: Major 16.
CB: There it is. Let me share the screen for those watching the video version. So this is the fun card that you’re not looking forward to in May in your personal reading. So could you describe what we’re looking at for the audio people?
TSC: Yeah. It’s known as the ‘lightning struck tower’ originally. What we see is this card with this stark black background with a stone tower, and a crown that’s being struck from it by a blast of forked lightning, it’s on fire, and two people are falling out of the tower upside down, which is why I mentioned that I’ve crawled down the stairs head first in order to diffuse this card in a sympathetic magic kind of way. It’s the most stressful card in the deck. I think it’s pretty fair to say. I don’t think too many people would argue with that. What I was feeling when that card kept coming up for people was that it was representing just this enormous disruption in everyone’s routine that there was nothing you can do about that was an act of God. In fact that card in the Marseille deck is called La Maison Dieu. The House of God. It does have that effect of something that’s completely outside of your control.
CB: Okay, and-
TSC: And it’s violent too. It’s violent and sudden and disruptive and stressful and it corresponds in the modern system with the planet Mars.
CB: Okay, and this is something that was coming up a lot for you in the present in card pulls in March of 2020 last year when the pandemic hit, and so it’s interesting because then of course, astrologically, all that ramped up when the planet Mars went into Capricorn and joined Jupiter and Saturn and Pluto last year in the February, March, April time frame, and it makes me think of like in the ancient world, and like Platonism especially, but also Stoicism, the notion of the Anima Mundi and the soul of the world, and this notion from the Timaeus that the cosmos itself was like a living animal, or a living being that has a visible body, which is the visible world, but there’s also an invisible soul that’s infused throughout it, and so there’s a consciousness where we’re all living inside this living animal, and it’s thinking about what’s going on within itself constantly, which is us.
TSC: It’s conscious, yeah.
CB: Right, it’s conscious, so the universe itself is actually conscious instead of just being this sort of dead, inanimate thing, which is how as modern people we are often used to thinking about it at this point I think, right?
TSC: Yes, yes that’s right. I mean, I think it’s very useful to, regardless of what your belief system is, to suspend that disbelief in the context of a reading so that you can open yourself to the idea that the universe is animate, alive, conscious, and talking back to you.
CB: Yeah, and so maybe that’s why something like that could happen. That there could be this astrological alignment that’s happening that’s indicating bad times, major stuff going on in the world of March 2020, but then also in some of your card readings there’s an echo of similar symbolism because it’s like this consciousness, or thought process that’s going on within the living cosmos that’s like echoing, or echoing the same sentiment, or the same thoughts that are happening at that time about something that’s happening to a lot of people.
TSC: Everybody! Everybody. I mean it reminded me a lot of what Jung talked about before World War I where he was having all those dreams of the river of blood, you know, famously, and not knowing what that was, but I think that it felt that way to me. It felt like something that was not particularly personal, but something was inevitable, and happening to everybody.
CB: Right, so it’s like that’s possibly something, and that could connect us with what is the mechanism underlying not just astrology, but also other forms of divination, and that’s also kind of where Jung was taking things to a certain extent with synchronicity, and trying to come up with an explanatory principle for astrology. There’s also a separate issue with astrology, which is that, I know Austin has mentioned this for example, where there is a somewhat causal component in for example the Sun and the movements of the Sun, and its’ actual physical effects on Earth through the seasons, and through different levels of light that the Sun emits, which is often interpreted symbolically, but may have some physical or physiological component as well, and while we cannot say that there’s a physical mechanism that would explain other planets having a causal effect on Earth at this point, the notion that there could be some sort of causal factor with astrology would be something that could set it outside of, or make it somewhat unique from other forms of divination where we definitely don’t think that the tarot card is causing the event that’s happening in your life at that time when you pull the card.
TSC: Well, yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I tend to think that as far as these questions of cause go, what’s the analogy? Is it something that Chris Warnock uses I think that has to do with, it’s not like the clock on the wall is causing the time to be what it is, right? It’s simply reflecting. I think that, I don’t know, I think of these things in a very hermetic way in the sense that we all reflect the same pattern, right? As above, so below. But the extension beyond that is we co-create it. I think that that’s interesting to think about that because we’re human, we have this illusion of free will, which I always tell people is constructive to use to deal with your illusion of fate. There are these two things that are intertwined, and that your perception is always shifting from one to the other.
CB: Yeah, I like that, and part of the co-creation in astrology, or one of the ways that that comes up, can be in things like electional astrology, like choosing when to act and making a choice about initiating an action, or starting a journey, or a business, or getting married, on one day under one alignment of planets, vs doing it a month later under a different alignment of planets or what have you, and sometimes having a choice between those, but also sometimes even when you have a choice very quickly you realize that even that choice has its’ own limitations in terms of you can’t wait ten or 20 or 30 years to get married.
TSC: For the perfect.
CB: Yeah, for the perfect alignment. You’re constrained by what is your time frame for when you have to act, and doing the best that you can within that context.
TSC: Yes, it’s interesting because you know I am one of your Patreon subscribers, and I listen to your electional work all the time, which I think is great. I’ve used your elections and Leisa’s many times, but I often combine that with divination as well just to check, to double check my work, and many times I’ve had to just toss out a perfectly fine election because the divination was so crappy, but I think it’s actually quite useful to combine methodologies like that from time to time.
CB: Yeah, well and that also ties in something which is a point I wanted to raise about one issue, which is two people being born at the same time, but still manifesting the same chart and the same symbolism in different ways, that it’s still archetypally correct, but different in the specifics, vs also in that case you were just talking about sometimes a good electional chart, or a good stand alone electional chart that has a good alignment with the planets, if that falls in a bad sector of your chart, or if that hits your chart wrong as a transit, then that’s not necessarily going to be a good electional chart for you as an individual. Even if it might be good for somebody else.
TSC: Mhm, yes. I’m glad that you mentioned that because I meant to ask you at some point, y’know, you always put that caveat check against your own chart, and I wanted you to delineate what that meant a little bit, so thank you.
CB: Yeah, I mean that’s the other- we do with the electional charts each month, especially for the Auspicious Elections Podcast, and I give four charts that are the best stand alone electional charts for each month. We do 50%, like half of the work for you, which is just finding a good stand alone chart, where for example-
TSC: Actually more than that because you mention which Risings it would be okay for.
CB: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, this month for example our electional chart is on the 20th or the 21st of February when Mercury stations direct, and we picked a Gemini Rising chart where Mercury is the ruler of the Ascendant, and it’s stationing direct in Aquarius, and it’s conjunct both of the benefics I think Venus and Jupiter, it’s conjunct Jupiter and applying to Jupiter through a conjunction or something like that, so symbolically if you are the one assigned the first house, which is Mercury and Mercury is you in the chart, and Mercury is moving towards a conjunction with Jupiter in a day chart in the ninth house, then it indicates positive things, and success, and the affirmation of that which you are initiating at that time for you the one initiating it. That’s half of it, which is the stand alone chart in and of itself, and finding that, which takes a lot of work, but the other half of that is looking at how that chart as a transit interacts with your birth chart for you as an individual, because if for example Mercury in that chart is exactly conjunct, let’s say, the degree of Mars if you’re born during the day, or the degree of Saturn if you’re born at night, then that may not be a good chart for you because it may activate parts of your birth chart that represent some of the more difficult or challenging things for you to deal with in your life.
TSC: Yes, yes absolutely. That’s interesting because, y’know, it’s funny I don’t generally check against my birth chart, but I will pull a card, and it’s funny that, I mean, I wonder if whether that’s in some way anathema to the process because it’s two such very different systems, but I do think that you can kind of get the results you need by mixing it up a little.
CB: Sure. Alright, so have we answered all the questions of the universe at this point, where is astrology divination, or is astrology natural science? Is astrology just like tarot, or is astrology different? Do we have final conclusions that are hard and fast answers here for people?
TSC: Haha! 80% yes.
CB: Okay, 80% is pretty good honestly. We’ve raised a lot of questions and a lot of things for people to think about. A lot of these things don’t have great complete 100% answers, but there are things that people should think about because it can inform your practice, and inform how you approach applying some of these from a practical standpoint, or an ethical standpoint, did we start to get into ethics a little bit? Like the ethics of divination?
TSC: A little bit, we talked about it, a little bit.
CB: Telling people the future, that different practitioners have different ethical guidelines or boundaries, or things that they think would be ethical vs not ethical. Perhaps I think it varies from practitioner to practitioner.
TSC: I think that’s true. It’s interesting because this work of divination is, I think, essentially amoral at some level, y’know, you’re just going through information about the ‘beyond things.’
CB: It’s like a technology or a thing like a microwave doesn’t have morals, it’s just a microwave, and you could-
TSC: Right, it’s a tool, and it’s mercurial in character, y’know, it’s like, it can be used for good or ill. It’s simply information, and it’s simply playing the game, but that said I don’t think you can, I mean I, hmm, as I say it I mostly just try to answer the question, but in terms of living your own life you still, I don’t know, each person has to decide for themselves what is ethical and not, and I do besides trying to answer the question, I do try to focus on harm reduction as much as possible. Particularly the reduction of harm related to over-fatalism. That’s the one I specialize in, but also-
CB: Due to the possibility of a self fulfilling prophecy.
TSC: Exactly, because first of all I don’t think that that’s the way the world works, but secondly because I think a lot of damage can be done by it, but also I think that there’s something to be said for just bringing in your common sense as a human being, a non-spiritual practitioner, and just every once in a while I will just take the fortune tellers hat off, metaphorically, and say look as a person this is what I think, and I will just put it out there that hopefully at that point there’s enough trust between me and whoever I’m talking to that they’ll accept what I say, or at least understand the spirit in which it’s given.
CB: Right, and your primary and first and foremost thing is sort of like the hippocratic dictum of ‘do no harm,’ and you’re trying to fundamentally underlying everything else, and everything else aside, help people and provide a beneficial service, or advice to people that’s going to help them in their life, rather than be something that’s going to be harmful in some way.
TSC: Yes, I mean I think that’s the nature of the medicine that you do your best to help whatever the situation is.
CB: Okay, and there’s just all sorts of stuff we could get into about that in terms of the morals or immorals, and some of the downsides with divination and some of the ways maybe divination has been or could be used for not great things, but it is kind of this neutral thing, or technology that exists out there that blurs the line between past and present and future, and could be used and applied in a number of different ways.
TSC: And I also think that it’s something that’s very unique to the human experience in that we are storytellers, you know? There’s something that I jotted down in our notes about talking about destiny vs narrative, and the idea that we create our own stories. We choose where the beginnings and the ends are, and that is something that has to do with our agency in the world, our ability to determine our fates for ourselves. It has to do with our willingness to shape the story to our own design.
CB: Yeah, I like that a lot actually. In my studies of hellenistic astrology, and studying ancient astrology, in the first few centuries CE, like the first and second and third and fourth century, stoicism was really in vogue during that time in the Roman empire, and a lot of the astrologers during that period, they will say the purpose of studying astrology, and studying a birth chart is to know the future, that way you know what you have to accept about your fate, and you can prepare yourself ahead of time, and that for some of the stoic astrologers was literally the purpose of astrology, or learning the future, was just preparing you for both the good things and the bad things so that you can adopt a sort of moderate equilibrium, and not be knocked off by either of them, whether you become hit by something negative that throws you into a depression, or you get something good that makes you overjoyed.
TSC: Yes, and I think that that is a fundamental lesson I take from the Wheel of Fortune, which is kind of a, I don’t know, a presiding spirit for me, the idea that things change. The only constant is the change, and that again as I was saying before there is a better and a worse way to respond to it, but to me the real joy of this practice is to be in conversation with fate, whether or not it is a lecture, or a dialogue, or a debate, or small talk, or argument, or whatever it is, to me this thing we do is about being able to not only learn about fate, but to have a say in the discussion on the part of fate, to participate, to be deeply enmeshed, to be at the hub of the wheel.
CB: Yeah that makes a lot of sense to me, and one of the things with astrology that I always come back to is that even if everything was predetermined there’s a limitation that diviners have about knowing exactly what will happen in the future because astrology, and divination in general, is just archetypally predictive, and because it’s dealing with archetypes there’s a range of different possible manifestations, and even though you can be pretty certain, even though you can get to a certain level of certainty with astrology, and a level of specificity, there’s always going to be this ambiguity, and this extent to which you don’t know the exact manifestation, and therefore you have to proceed as if you have choice, or some ability to push it in one direction or another, and one more let’s say constructive direction or another-
TSC: Yes. I call that archetypal drift. I sort of feel like there is a flex, there is an ease, there is some margin for error within the expression, and whether as a magician or a diviner, or just a human being, you get a little bit of say in determining how that comes into your life.
CB: Right. Yeah, so I think that’s important for all astrologers to be aware of, because it also humbles you a little bit. There’s like a sense of humbling of even though divination can sometimes seem empowering, or can give a person a sense of power, and sometimes that can go to people’s heads, there always also on the flip side of that needs to be a humbleness of even if you can see the outlines of the future, not being fully aware of all of the specifics, and therefore there still being this range of manifestations that are outside of your control, so that it should humble you to some extent, and it shouldn’t go to your head.
TSC: Yes, that’s absolutely right. I think there’s a model in Kabbalah that I like a lot where the kabbalistic tree of life has these ten spheres, and the bottom of the tree, the tenth sphere, the bottom, is our real world. The ninth sphere, just above that is known as Jesod, it’s known as the storehouse of images. It’s kind of like the blueprint. Then above that are two spheres known as the Spheres of Prophecy, Necach and Hod. One of the spheres has to do with ecstatic revelation, that kind of prophecy, divine downloads, those sorts of the things, and the other is Hod, which is indirect interpretation, getting messages from a larger presence or a divine or whatever you want to call it, that requires a certain amount of humility, and knowing that you don’t have all the answers, but using your capacity to interpret your hermeneutics to try and make sense of the signs you’ve been given with humility.
CB: That makes sense. I think that might be a perfect stopping point. I know there’s lots of things we could keep talking about forever, and I’m really enjoying this conversation.
TSC: Me too.
CB: Since it’s been two and a half hours, maybe we’re good. I hope, y’know, as soon as we stop recording we’ll probably remember a bunch of stuff that would’ve been cool to go into, but I did want to plug your book, 36 Secrets: A Decanic Journey through the Minor Arcana of the Tarot. Where can people get a hold of this?
TSC: Ah yes, anywhere. I’d prefer it if you got it from the Lulu Bookstore because I do better, but you certainly can get it on Amazon or Book Depository, or Barnes & Noble, or any of those places.
CB: Okay, so Lulu.com is, and I think that’s where I ordered mine, and it showed up pretty quickly so that’s good to know that they can order it from there, or they can get it from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or wherever else, and the focus of this was that, well it was two things, one that we didn’t get into that much, was that there are associations between the 36 traditional decans and their rulers with 36 specific tarot cards, right?
TSC: Yes, exactly, the numeric, the decanic minor arcana numbered 2-10 in the four suits.
CB: Okay, and you actually went on something called a ‘decan journey,’ or a walk through over the course of a year?
TSC: Yes, that’s right. That’s something that I had only heard of through Gordon White of Rune Soup, and through Austin of course, and the book is very obviously inspired by 36 Faces. I’m quite open about that, and the thing about 36 Faces is that it is, y’know, it’s an astrology book that is well informed by tarot, and what I wanted to do was kind of the inverse of that, really a tarot book with some basis in the astrology, so hence the title really. 36 Faces of course, faces is another word for decans, and 36 Secrets, secrets is just a translation of arcana, as in the minor arcana. It is intended to reconcile, to explore, to provide personal narrative and magical guidance, and comparison between the cards for each of these minor cards, which are favorites of mine.
CB: And you went through an entire year starting in like March of 2019 where you pulled one card per day?
TSC: Two cards per day, always, well I always pull two cards a day, but the focus of that work was to concentrate on those decanic minors, and to try and figure out what the character of each moment represented by those cards was.
CB: Okay, so it was a further exploration of the meaning of the cards, and accessing them through the symbolism of the decan, and the decan ruler for each of those cards, and you started in March of 2019, and then you wrapped up, which I was thinking it was a hell of a time to wrap up a year later in March of 2020?
TSC: Yes, exactly. In fact I remember the last trip I took, I was at the Northwest Tarot Symposium early weekend in March, and I was writing the last essay on the plane on the way back before going home and staying home.
CB: Yeah, that’s a wild way to end that project, and then you spent the next several months working on the book, and then you finished it and released it finally at the very very end of 2020?
TSC: Yes, I thought it would be good even though it’s out there as blog posts, I thought it made a lot more sense to kind of go over it, make it coherent, make sure that every chapter had the same elements within it, y’know, each one had some reference to the original, to Picatrix and Agrippa, make sure each one had some reference to other cards that are related within the set of minor arcana, and each one has sort of every day iterations of how that card has shown up for me, so kind of like we did with the five of pentacles, you see a range of manifestations, and then of course at the end I indulged myself with some poetry, haha! I tried to find something that was in one way or another reminiscent or evocative of the nature of the card as I saw it.
CB: Brilliant. Well, I really enjoyed it, and it seems like it goes well with your previous book, which is the Llewellyn book. How do they compliment each other?
TSC: Yes, so Tarot Correspondences is a reference book. It is basically a way of just laying out those Golden Dawn correspondences, this hundred and twenty year old, hundred and ten year old correspondences that underlie every modern tarot deck, and I did it because I kind of just wanted an external hard drive, so I wouldn’t have to remember everything. That’s probably the same for your Hellenistic Astrology in a way.
CB: Yeah, a very retro way of storing information on like pieces on leaves of paper of dead trees that you can put on your shelf.
TSS: Haha, yes that’s exactly it. That has been great, and it’s in its’ like third printing I think. It’s been good because I think there are correspondence books out there, but nothing that had really pulled it together for tarot, I mean there’s 777, which magicians use, but this is something that was specifically intended to be helpful for the modern tarot world, and it has ended up doing that. There’ve been people who have drawn decks from it, created decks from it, created magical work from it, and I am really pleased with that because that was its’ intent. Whereas this one, 36 Secrets, is very much more my voice. It’s everything I have to say about the minor arcana, which as I said I have a real fondness for, and it’s intended to be kind of a more qualitative deep dive into what these cards might mean in a way that Tarot Correspondences is really just the ingredients for producing your own meanings. This one is a much more ruminative and personal book.
CB: Perfect. You have another book coming out here before too long, right?
TSC: Oh yes, so Fortune’s Wheelhouse the Esoteric Tarot Podcast, which I host with Mel Meleen began with seventy eight card episodes going through each card, and unpacking the symbolism in the Rider Waite Smith and Thoth decks, so we never quite figured out how to do transcriptions, so instead we went in the most laborious and time consuming and difficult way possible, and wrote a book instead, basically with all the information that is included in the initial 78 episodes, which continued to help people get started on their tarot journeys. We didn’t really know what a huge undertaking it was thinking we’d already done the work in the 78 episodes, but it turns out we had a lot to say, and I think it’s like 700 pages, 600 pages, something like that.
TSC: Yeah, it’ll be good. March 8th I think is when it’s out.
CB: Okay, and that’s being published by?
TSC: That’s Llewellyn, mhm.
CB: The title is Tarot Deciphered: Decoding Esoteric Symbolism in modern Tarot.
TSC: Yes, although I personally think of it as the Fortune’s Wheelhouse guide to esoteric tarot, haha.
CB: Okay, perfect, and in terms of other stuff that you have going on, of course people can Google and search for Fortune’s Wheelhouse Esoteric Tarot Podcast. They can find your Patreon, which is at www.patreon.com/fortuneswheelhouse. You also do the Living Tarot online tarot class, which is an online class for tarot, which is on your website, which is www.tsusanchang.com, and that seems like a good spot, your website, where people can find out a bunch of your other work. It seems like you have a lot of different things going on.
TSC: That is true, and the course itself is not particularly correspondence based, it’s more about, well many of the things we talked about really. About learning to read tarot into your everyday life.
CB: Okay, brilliant. You also have an Etsy shop where you design different covers, and different things related to tarot, right?
TSC: Yes, it’s cases for tarot decks, spread cloths, and perfumes, custom perfumes that are based on people’s Sun, Moon, and Rising, and also zodiacal perfumes. And that’s www.etsy.com/shop/tarotista.
CB: Perfect, and then you’re also on Twitter, and that was actually where I first saw your announcement about the new book, so it’s a good place to follow you, which is on Twitter @tsusanchang.
CB: Brilliant, awesome! Thank you so much for joining me today, and for doing this episode with me. I really appreciate it, and really enjoyed it.
TCS: Thank you so much Chris! It’s been an absolute delight, and an honor to be on a show I’ve so enjoyed for so long.
CB: Thank you! Alright, well thanks everyone for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks to the Patreons for supporting our work, and that’s it for this episode, so we’ll see you again next time.
Special thanks to the Patreons who supported the production of this episode of The Astrology Podcast through our page on www.patreon.com. In particular shoutout to the Patreons on our producers tier, including Nate Craddock, Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Michelle Merillat, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Sumo Coppock, Nadia Habhab, and Issa Sabah.
For more information about how to become a Patreon, and get access to bonus content, such as early access to new episodes, visit Patreon.com/AstrologyPodcast.
Also special thanks to our sponsors including the Northwest Astrological Conference, which is happening online May 27-31, 2021. Find out more information at Norwac.net. The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, which you can find out more information about at MountainAstrologer.com. The Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs, which you can find more information about at Honeycomb.co. Also, the Portland School of Astrology. More information at PortlandAstrology.org. The Astro Gold Astrology App, available for both IPhone and Android, available at Astrogold.io. Finally, the primary software program that we use on episodes of The Astrology Podcast is called Solar Fire Astrology Software, which is available at Alabe.com, and you can get a 15% discount with the promo code AP15.