Today’s card is the Five of Wands from the Universal Goddess Tarot.
This is one of my favorite cards in this deck. It depicts the Polynesian Goddess Pele. I’ve been fond of Pele ever since I lived in Hawaii when I was in high school (8th through 10th grade). My class took a trip to the Big Island (the actual island of Hawaii, as opposed to O’ahu which was where I lived) and we visited Volcanoes National Park. While we were there we heard lots of stories about the goddess and it was kind of hard to not get caught up in the amazing energy of a place where we were able to get within feet of active lava flow. Close enough to throw loose rocks into the lava to see what happens. They melt. In case you were wondering. They hit the lava and MELT. It’s pretty crazy amazing.
Crazy amazing is a pretty good descriptor for this five of wands. We see Pele, dressed in the red and yellow that was reserved only for the Hawaiian royalty, decked with a hakulei around her forehead and more beads and flowers at her wrists.
She is a goddess of furious creation and destruction, just like the volcano that she is said to live in. When a volcano erupts it is a powerful destructive force, raining down fire and brimstone and rushing waves of lava that destroy everything they touch. But at the same time, volcanoes can be powerful creative forces as well. Volcanic eruptions created the Hawaiian islands.
This balance of creation and destruction is what the Five of Wands represents. Perhaps now is the time to let the fiery energy of the Wands suit burn away the things that no longer serve you. The five burning wands here can represent ideas or projects you’re got in the works; the volcano behind them is throwing up lava which could rush down and devour those wands. Maybe it’s time for that.
But a volcano is unpredictable, so it could be that the active flow misses them entirely, instead offering more fuel to help them keep burning. The way I’d interpret this card in a spread would vary depending on where it showed up. Whether you try to avoid the explosion or seize hold of a passing boulder and ride it out, cheering at the top of your lungs the entire way, is up to you.
One thing is for sure, when this card shows up, things are about to get explosive. My advice: don’t argue with a volcano goddess. Just go with the flow.
Today’s card of the day is the Queen of Cups from the Universal Goddess Tarot
In the Universal Goddess Tarot the Queen of Cups depicts Yemaya, Yoruban ruler of the sea. She is the goddess of generosity, good feelings, love, tolerance, and fidelity. A very appropriate goddess for the Queen of Cups. There’s a very maternal energy in this card.
Yemaya sits on a throne constructed of seashells and what looks like octopus arms. Her hair also sort of echoes those octopus arms as well with her dreadlocked hair. Strands of pearls adorn her multi layered dress and her jewelry is made of more pearls and seashells. She is serene and in control of her surroundings. Even though the ocean is clearly moving around her, shown by the movement of her hair and the bubbles around her, She sits serene and untroubled.
When the Queen of cups appears in a spread she’s a calming and comforting influence. She has a very nurturing energy, someone easy to talk to who actively listens. She offers gentle but firm advice. She will comfort you when someone breaks your heart but she won’t enable you to go back to the jerk to let them do it again. She has mastered her emotions, but that phrase doesn’t quite fit. In our culture when we speak of mastering emotions the phrase tends to connote a stoic man who is unaffected while anger and grief rage around him, and that’s not this queen at all. She feels deeply and maturely, but she does not let her emotions destroy her. Instead she holds space to honor all the feelings of the Cups suit and helps others to learn to honor their own.
She may appear in a spread when you’re feeling overwhelmed. She can help you understand that it’s okay to cry when you need to and to help you ensure other people don’t treat your poorly because you feel. Trust her advice and honor your feelings, it’s much more healthy to give them the space they need than to just try to force them down. Let the water of her oceans wash and soothe you.
Before I launch into a post about choosing a tarot deck I have to make a small confession. I’m not super choosy about buying tarot decks. I have a small collection of them and I love to get new ones if one catches my eye. That said, despite owning a bundle of them, I always circle back to a small handful that I love working with.
But that’s absolutely okay. I don’t see anything wrong with collecting tarot decks; they’re beautiful art pieces, powerful tools, and great meditation aids. Like any kind of collection, as long as your bills are paid and it’s not causing you harm, you should feel free to indulge yourself. I used to feel guilty when I bought a deck that I didn’t use, but I realized that was a waste of energy. Your favorite deck may change over time and one that you used to use all the time might take a backseat as your life changes, your reading style changes, or your reading audience changes. I used to rely heavily on a Robin Wood Tarot deck, but as I’ve grown and changed I find that it’s too white and heteronormative to resonate with me anymore. I’m not saying it’s not a good deck, just that my needs in a tarot deck are different now.
So, how do you choose the tarot deck that’s right for you? In my experience it’s a bit of a trial and error process until you find a deck that really resonates with you. I want to tackle one stubbornly popular myth first.
Myth: You have to be given your first tarot deck.
This little story really annoys me. Firstly, it takes your agency away from you. You’re just
supposed to wait patiently for someone to magically guess that you need a tarot deck and then give it to you? So many people would never get a deck! This isn’t even considering people who might be living in situations where tarot is misunderstood and feared. Also, I think that choosing and buying your very own tarot deck gives you a leg up in working with your chosen deck. For me, tarot is about empowerment, and what could be more empowering than taking your own initiative and choosing your spiritual tools yourself? Of course, this isn’t a slight against people who did have someone else give them a deck. If someone gave you your first deck and you loved it and it’s perfect, that’s fantastic. I guess what I’m saying here is that there is no wrong way to get a deck. Except maybe stealing one. The energy of theft is probably not the best energy you want to introduce into your tarot.
Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to get a deck, awesome! But where do you even start? There are hundreds and hundreds of possibilities out there. You can find themed tarot decks on almost any subject you can imagine: Cats, Dragons, Aliens, or even Baseball. That almost makes it harder because there are so many options!
So here’s my advice: you need to find a deck that you’re charmed by. If you can, start by looking into Rider Waite Smith styled decks. A lot of the intro to tarot websites and books are focused around that style of tarot. That makes it easier to learn the meanings of the cards and you’ll have plenty of bloggers who use a deck similar to yours and lots of decks to learn from. I also echo the suggestion of lots of others who suggested that you get a deck of “dudes doing shit”. To be clear here, I don’t mean that you need a deck of men, but a deck with humanoid figures interacting with each other and the environment often makes it easier if you’re just getting started.
For me it’s really important that the deck be in an art style that I can connect with. The more you look at decks, the more you’ll get to realize things you like and things you don’t like. Personally, I’ve found that I don’t care for photo manipulated decks; I like drawings better on my cards. I also like decks that have some traditional RWS symbolism but aren’t re-drawings of the exact same images.
You should also consider what you’re going to be using your deck for. Do you want something to read spreads? Then you might want something that is clear and easy to
understand, something like the Happy Tarot, the Robin Wood, or something like it. Do you want something to help you connect with spirit? Something like the Universal Goddess Tarot might be perfect. I use my Universal Goddess deck both in divination and in goddess meditations.
Another thought I wanted to mention was that you can also consider oracle decks if they suit your wants. I know this post is about how to choose a tarot deck, but most of it can also apply to oracle decks. Obviously, with an oracle deck, the RWS advice about finding one with people doesn’t apply, but aside from that, look for something that you feel a pull towards and that you really like. Oracle decks are not the same as Tarot decks, but don’t let anyone tell you that they’re inferior. They’re just a different way of card reading. In case you’re not familiar with the difference between oracle and tarot decks, it’s that tarot decks contain 22 cards in the Major Arcana and 14 Minor Arcana (also known as pip cards) in four suits that make up the 78 cards in a deck. Oracle cards come in every flavor of the rainbow, and come in any number of cards, sometimes with a booklet for reading them and sometimes without so that you must rely on your intuition to decipher a spread of them. I enjoy both types of decks and I own an assortment of both. I do a lot more work with my tarot cards, but sometimes the simplicity of an oracle deck is too appealing to pass up.
I also want to point out that sometimes the really great decks will surprise you. I bought the Happy Tarot (see the Hermit card there?) because if was adorably sugar sweet and filled with cupcakes. I didn’t really expect it to be a deck I did serious work with, but I’ve been so wrong about that. The deck is great and I have found it to be wonderful to work with. Don’t discount a ‘cute’ or themed deck as a novelty item right away. Some of them are, but some will work just as well as a super traditional Rider Waite Smith.
The last piece of advice I have is that it’s okay to buy a deck and realize that it’s not the right deck for you. If you hold out for The One True Deck you could get paralyzed and end up never trying any at all. And here’s my second confession: part of the reason that I have so many decks is that it took me a long time to understand that I didn’t have to find the Perfect Deck. You might use one deck for a while and then ‘outgrow’ it and start working with another. And that’s okay.
So there you go? Shop around, find something you love, and know that it’s okay to change
your mind or pick more than one. I’ve found that Aeclectic Tarot is a great place to find information about different decks. They have reviews and purchase links for most decks. Also check out the Tarot blogs, I post reviews here on The Wooly Witch from time to time and so do lots of other Tarot bloggers.
It’s also totally fine to throw all my suggestions out the window and do things your own different way. That’s a big theme for me as I walk my spiritual path. Learn all you can, take what makes sense, discard what doesn’t resonate with you.
Happy reading! If you’re new I’d love to hear what your first deck was/is/will be. If you’ve been reading for a while, I’d love to hear how you picked your first deck. As you can tell, I love decks!
Today’s card is The Hermit from the Universal Goddess Tarot.
The Hermit is a favorite card of mine. I’m an introvert and I very deeply identify with the idea of retreating from life every now and then to have some personal quiet time. I also consider myself a seeker: I’ve never truly settled into a specific spiritual path, instead learning about many different ones and taking pieces of truth when something resonates with me. That’s what the Hermit encourages.
Here the Hermit is represented as Hecate, a goddess who is associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, and witchcraft. The Hermit is traditionally shown carrying some kind of light, very often a lantern, so her burning torch is very appropriate.
When my grandmother was in the process of passing away earlier this year, I prayed to Hecate to help ease her passage and help her to not feel fear. I’m certainly not claiming that it was my prayer that did it, but my grandmother passed gently, in her sleep with my mother sitting right next to her. I find comfort in the idea that there was something or someone to help her make that transition.
When the Hermit appears, it’s a sign that you need to take some time away from the rush of your life. Take some time to ponder the mysteries of life, maybe do some self reflection and soul searching. Is there something you’ve been avoiding dealing with?
This card can sometimes just represent a simple need to step back from demands and responsibilities, but this depiction especially brings to mind dealing with a big change or a difficult transition. Hecate stands at the cross roads in your life and gently reminds you to take time to really think things through and make the right choice for you. This is more than two paths diverging in a narrow wood. This is a big important choice that will have ripple effects later on in life. Hold space for that choice and make it wisely.
Today’s card comes from the Universal Goddess Tarot deck. It’s the Two of Wands and it depicts Ataentsic, an Iroquoian goddess.
Two little boys are engaged in a fight with each other with their wands. At first glance it looks really dangerous: those wands are on fire, after all. But a maternal figure is watching over the scene with her arms outstretched–she almost looks like she’s about to embrace them. The expression on the boys’ faces are sort of mixed, as though they’re not sure what they’re doing, or that they’re reluctant to fight but determined to win. But if you only look at their feet, this isn’t a fight at all any more. It’s a dance.
The Two of Wands speaks to a relationship between two things. It could be two people, two ideas, two places, any kind of duality. A casual observer sees a conflict, two situations fighting against each other to beat out the other. Depending on where you look in this card you’ll see a lot of different ways to interpret the action. Imagine that you’re standing directly behind one of the boys. It might look like he’s trying to defend himself. Stand behind the woman and you’re watching her teach them intricate steps of a dance.
The boys are dressed in dark and light costumes, and you could view them as two sides of a coin: one side must come out on top. Or you could take a more Taoist view and see them as the yin and yang, each must balance out the other. You may notice that I’m deliberately not talking about them as good vs. evil. The concept of whiteness being good/pure and blackness being bad/dirty is a hurtful concept that devalues people of color by declaring whiteness to be superior. It’s more productive to talk about the balance of energies. Neither is inherently superior and that’s what this card is telling us.
This card reminds us to carefully consider options when we’re faced with a challenge. You might first think you have to make a choice, one or the other, when really you could have both. It’s a delicate balance: if one of the boys misses a step, he risks hitting his friend, or even setting him on fire. The suit of wands is the suit of fire and it can be interpreted a few ways. It might be that spark of inspiration that lights the way to a new way of life, or it could be that faithful night light, guiding you through the darkness.
There are two players in this dance or there are two opponents in this fight. Can you resolve the conflict without a fight or do you have to take your place in the dance? It might be frightening to be caught in the middle of all of this action, but this card also offers comfort. The whole mess is being watched over by a kind maternal goddess. The card doesn’t specify, but in some Iroquoian legends she’s the mother of twin warriors, and this card feels that way to me.
Consider all your options and double check what assumptions you might be making, did you bring a knife to a dance fight? But don’t worry too much, you’ve got someone looking out for you.