Looking for new ways to expand your understanding of Tarot? Renowned Tarot specialist Valerie Sim helps Tarot enthusiasts step "out of the box" and advance their practice to a new level. Emphasizing a fun, relaxed approach, she teaches how to break rules in order to stimulate creativity. Readers learn many valuable Tarot techniques, including the comparative method, which involves practicing with several decks to fully understand each card and its abundant possibilities for interpretation.
Tarot Outside the Box also offers original spreads, sample readings, and valuable advice for practicing Tarot without querents, engaging in interactive readings (both reader and querent participation), and using Tarot for creative writing.
About the Author
Valerie named and was the first to publicly write and teach about the Comparative Tarot Method. Her book about the Comparative Tarot method and ways to keep Tarot fun and exciting, Tarot Outside the Box, is available now through Llewellyn Publications. She also wrote the pamphlet, or "little white book," for the recently published Lo Scarabeo Comparative Tarot Deck, is the Editor for both Tarot Reflections and The ATA Quarterly, and is a frequent reviewer for Tarot Passages.
On the shamanic path and active in animal rescue, Valerie has many favorite decks including Animal Wise, Vision Quest, and Shining Tribe.
Read an Excerpt
Our spread will be a simple three-card spread addressing underlying problems (cards 1 and 2), and a direction or potential for alleviating those problems (card 3), in response to a client's desire to identify what the crux of the communication problem is in a familial relationship.
The following cards were drawn:
Card 1: Five of Swords
Card 2: Ten of Wands
Card 3: Page of Cups
Interpret the RW cards according to their positions and synthesize the combination.
What message or insights are you getting from these cards? Now,
using the ST, select the same cards from this deck and lay them alongside their RW counterparts. What do these cards tell you that you might have missed in the previous layout? What further amplification are you getting with these cards? How are you hearing that “second voice” with this deck? Is the message stronger? Does it change? Are you getting reinforcement of the initial message, or is this additional information that needs to be synthesized?
Five of Swords
The Five of Swords in the RW deck shows a man in possession of three swords while two lay behind him on the ground.He has a smirk on his face and appears by expression and posture to be gloating as he looks at the people in the background. In the ST deck's depiction of this card, Rachel Pollack has painted a dead Shaman, around which circle many-feathered vultures. As she mentions in her book, one is tempted to turn the card around seeking the proper orientation, which seems slightly elusive from every angle. She has made the card deliberately disorienting in an effort to shake us out of our fixed Western perspective.
While cultural biases may lead you to concentrate on the dead body or the vultures themselves, it is important not to miss the nimbus of light surrounding the head of the Shaman, which signifies his understanding and self-knowledge. This takes us beyond the usual RW
meanings for this card (self-interest of the personality/body, discord,
possible dishonor) to self-empowerment from the proper confrontation of a situation and the resultant process of healing in order to release that inner light.
This family seems to suffer from competitiveness carried to the extreme,
a sense of one-upmanship and a tendency to gloat over minor victories.
All of these things aggravate communication and make it a real sore point. This problem will only get bigger if ignored. Things need to be put back into perspective and healing needs to occur.
The Ten of Wands in the RW deck shows a man struggling with ten heavy wands he is carrying awkwardly as he heads in the direction of a house in the distance. His back is bowed under the weight of the wands. In the ST depiction of this card (the Ten of Trees), we see a
Tree of Life bursting forth with energy and signifying the pleasures and satisfactions of daily life. The abundance and variety of our lives is accentuated rather than the “burdens” of attaining such joys. I find in this Ten a message we should heed more often, that of thinking less of our burdens and more of the blessings they truly represent.
Only through experience, both challenging and rewarding, can you arrive at consciousness. Perhaps the man in the RW card should glance up and see just how close the beloved home to which he journeys really is?
One or more members of this family feel overburdened. The family has the health and strength to offer support to the burdened member(
s). All members seem to have suffered from dysfunctional communication for so long they have missed seeing how close they were in the past and can be again.
Page of Cups
The RW Page of Cups shows a young girl holding a cup from which a flying fish protrudes. Common interpretations of this Page would include: Listen to your emotions and intuitions; don't miss the opportunity to experience deep feelings and your inner life; don't be afraid to receive guidance from within. The comparable ST card (Place of
Rivers) is a simple and beautiful depiction of inner peace. An androgynous figure kneels before a pool of dark water fed by two lighter-colored streams. Ms. Pollack mentions that we enter this place “simply by stopping our compulsive outward rush of attention and turning our awareness inward” (Pollack 2001, 249).
Get rid of that “neener-neener” approach, that sense of superiority and preoccupation with who is richer or more successful than whom.
Remember the love that unites you, that bonds you at a root level, but has been overlooked for so long. And most importantly, remember to love yourself. Until you have discovered yourself and are truly happy on a soul level you will not relate well with others, nor will you find peace within. Look into your cup. It is truly full. See your reflection and then experience the depths of the liquid within. Therein will you find inner peace and the love for and communication with others you misplaced along the way.
A second example of this method will be a three-card Past-Present-
Future spread using the RW deck and the hauntingly beautiful Legend
deck by Anna-Marie Ferguson. A friend had asked me to read for her when her sister approached her for advice on her current troubled relationship. The sister had asked her to give her situation thought,
prayer, and even to seek a confidential second opinion if necessary.
Accordingly, my friend approached me to obtain further insights via the Tarot on her sister's relationship so that she could better give the advice her sister sought.
The following cards were drawn:
Card 1 (Past): The Tower
Card 2 (Present): Four of Cups
Card 3 (Future): King of Cups
The Tower in the RW deck shows the infamous image of the lightning-
struck tower from which bodies tumble to the earth. In the past position, does this indicate that the relationship has sustained some sudden dramatic upheaval or some quick and possibly explosive change? What else can we learn with the addition of the second deck?
The Legend deck shows us another threatened edifice, but this image shows us there is a specific reason this tower tumbles. Here we see
Vortigern's Fortress and the pair of legendary dragons that troubled it.
Time and time again Vortigern built his fortress, and repeatedly it came tumbling down. In that legend we learn that Vortigern chose to build upon a spot underneath which was a subterranean pool of water in which slept two dragons. Merlin explained that the destruction of the fortress was due to the nocturnal battles of the awakened dragons.
Perhaps fortresses (relationships) built on battling dragons can expect constant strife? Is constant stress and endless strife a good foundation on which to build your castle?
Foundations have been built on turmoil; relationships need to be built on solid ground.
Four of Cups
The Four of Cups is often called the apathy card and is commonly interpreted as boredom and dissatisfaction of an emotional nature. In the RW deck a self-absorbed man is seated at the foot of a tree and gazing listlessly at three cups in front of him while completely missing the cup in the outstretched hand close by. In Legend we see the disenchanted
Knights of the Round Table. They are disgusted, disillusioned,
and uninspired. The tournaments have been fought, the damsels rescued,
and Arthur is away fighting in a distant land. They need something to motivate them and inspire them anew. In the legend the inspiration they sought appeared in the appearance of the Grail, symbol of inspiration and love. Caution is urged here not to let self-imposed apathy allow you to miss the apparition of your personal Grail. How can you find love if you see it not?
Hello! This is a wake-up call. You are bored and you know it. You have emotionally “sold out.” You have the right to real love. Open your eyes-only then will you not miss it.
King of Cups
The King of Cups (RW) represents the mastery of all that is embodied by the suit of Cups.As with all Court cards, the appearance of the King can signify both self and another in a reading. This King encourages you to acknowledge your own emotions, feelings, and intuitions. Given the nature of the question, I feel that the King has definite double meaning here: Only by knowing your own heart fully and by being ready for an emotion that empowers as it grows can you share such an emotion with someone else. This card in the Legend deck is illustrated with the Fisher King, the name given to the various “kings” entrusted with guardianship of the Holy Grail. In the legend, only via the Fisher
King could one obtain and unlock the mysteries of the Grail.What better way to meet your King of Cups than by using that King's energy?
Embrace the healing energy of this King. He lives within you. Know your own heart and you will heal yourself.
As you use this method, you will find that certain decks work better together than others, and you will begin to realize which decks to use for certain querents or types of questions. The messages are endless and the many voices of Tarot a siren's song to further study.
Table of Contents
Foreword . . . xi Acknowledgments . . . xv Permission to Use . . . xix Introduction: About Me . . . 1 One: The Comparative Tarot Method . . . 7 Two: Combination Tarot . . . 47 Three: Reading Practice Without a Querent . . . 55 Four: Interactive Readings . . . 63 Five: Elemental Dignities . . . 73 Six: Original Spreads . . . 85 Seven: Creative Writing with the Tarot . . . 117 Eight: Conclusion . . . 127 Appendix A: Collaborative Story . . . 129 Appendix B: Resources for Further Reading . . . 159 Bibliography . . . 165
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