Friday, 15 April 2011

Cartomancy: Scopa cards and Playing cards.

I've spoke a little on tarot on this blog but I would like to talk about some other forms of cartomancy, tarot has always been my preferred method of divination but i would like to talk about some lesser known forms of cartomancy.

Scopa cards
(Italian 40 card deck playing cards)

Whilst writing this post and looking for pictures of scopa cards I suddenly learned there is more than one type of scopa deck, apparently different regions of Italy have different cards. However here I will be referring to the deck above, as this is the only scopa deck I have ever known, which is the deck used in southern calabria. I think this style of scopa may be called the Neapolitan deck as this style deck probably originated in 15th century Naples.

There are 40 cards in a scopa deck, 4 suits: Spade (swords), Bastoni (clubs), Coppe (cups) and Soldi (coins, though i have read on the Internet they are sometimes refered to as "denari", I have only ever heard of them being refered to simply as "soldi" which translates as "monies").
There are 7 cards in each suit that run from 1-7 plus 3 court cards: Fante (soldier), Cavallo (knight) and Re (king). There are no queens.
In divination the court cards do not have any overtly auspicious meaning, however the aces, the 3 of clubs, the 5 of swords, the 2 and 7 of coins are all considered to have overtly important meanings.

Any standard tarot spread may be used to read scopa, however a very traditional method that I would like to share involves laying the cards out in 4 rows of 4.
The cards are then read using a scrying method of free association, the diviner looks for cards that jump out of the arrangement, interpretting the positions of the cards freestyle, is an important card skirting the edge of the spread? then perhaps it is a situation the querent is trying to ignore or is unaware of. Does a particular card jump out representing the querent themselves? then what are the cards above it? is this a person/situation influencing their choices? what lies in front of them/behind them?

The horseshoe spread is another spread commonly used with scopa. 7 cards are spread out in a horseshoe shape. This can be read in one of 2 ways.

First method: (imagine the cards are numbered 1-7 left to right)

1. The past
2. The present
3. The immediate future, that which can be changed either by circumstance or action.
4. The querents attitude/mindset, also what is theirs to use
5. Other people, helpers and hinderers
6. Warnings
7. The ultimate outcome, fate.

Second method: (a simple, but fun variation on the above)

The centre card represents the querent or the querent's situation, cards to the right represent the future, further from the querent further they are into the future, cards to the left represent the past further from the querent card further in the past it is.

I shall be discussing more complex card spreads in more depth on another post.
Sample scopa card reading:

The querent is a young man in his early 20s wanting a general reading, here is a simple diagnostic 7 card horseshoe spread to highlight the issues currently in his life.

1. The two of swords.
2. 5 of coins.
3. 6 of clubs.
4. The soldier of clubs.
5. the king of swords.
6. 2 of cups.
7. 7 of cups.

from this little spread we can divine that one of the main currents in the querents life is that he has recently come out of a relationship and is distracting himself with work (the two of swords followed by the 5 of coins) however is likely to be tiring of this already and is planning a short break in the near future (6 of clubs laid in the third position).
Given that he has come out of a relationship and the soldier of clubs (a dark skinned young educated man) is in the 4th position (playing on his mind) then is there someone causing him jealousy? perhaps a certain someone who brought about the end of his relationship? The 5th position is the king of swords, he isn't overtly happy in his job, his boss is giving him flak. The 2 of cups in the 6th position suggests he needs to relax and remember he is young and to enjoy the sweet things in life, he has been neglecting the everyday fun pleasures of friendship and youth. The 7 of cups as his fate is a card of good omens, the querent should be reminded every cloud has a silver lining and his current troubles are merely a little blip in the great scheme of things.

2 clubs or 2 swords occurring in a reading can sometimes suggest a physical fight, since 2 swords AND 2 clubs appear in this reading coupled with the suggestion of a jealous rival, the querent should be warned to keep himself out of trouble if he hasn't already been in a scrap.


An interesting method of divination to use with playing cards is fusion divination, cartomancy and bone casting, the cards can be laid out in 3 rows of 3, this will be your base for casting your bones. Each column represents the past, present and future respectively, the top row cards represent fated influences, influences that are beyond the control of the querent and the diviner, the middle row represents the situations as they are, and the bottom row represents things that are under the control of the querent. Chicken bones can be cast upon the cards, paying especial attention to where and how they land, I recommend a rib bone (to represent things that are being held together), a wing bone (for travel), a leg bone (to indicate cards that represent sound foundations to the situation being queried) a skull (to indicate cards whose meaning require meditation).

Anyway, more on casting bones in another post.

Playing cards are also excellent for giving specific dates, a deck of playing cards is not unlike a calendar, there are 52 cards in a deck as weeks in a year, 4 suits like 4 four seasons, Red and Black like day and night.

Important cards:

The ace of spades, perhaps the most famous card of ill omen, also known as the dead mans hand, in a reading this indicates literal or metaphorical death, destruction, failure and ruin.

The king of hearts: Also known as the suicide king, he is an omen of self destruction and a downfall brought on by the querents own hand, he is suicide in all its forms.

The queen of hearts: fickle Lady Luck, she can fling you up to the stars or cast you down in the dirt..... depending on her mood, which is anyones guess of course.

Jokers: these represent the unexpected and unseen, they are the wild cards.


This suit tends to contain cards of good omen, they are usually associated with wealth and business.

These tend to be symbols of ill fortune and warning.

The meanings of the cards in this suit is varied, though they can centre around travel and business.

Its a bit of a no brainer to say what this suit is most associated with!

Sample playing card reading:

Here is a sample from a reading using a very simple 9 card spread (3 rows of 3) as a diagnostic spread to get the session started.
The querent is a woman in her mid thirties, who is in a relationship with trust issues, she wants to know if her new partner is being faithful.

The left column represents the past, here we have the ace of spades in the middle, crowned by the king of spades and the queen of spades in the roots. 3 spades so closely linked indicates a very unhappy past. Because the king of spades crowns the ace of spades it would suggest she has had very bad experiences with a man or men in general. The queen of spades crowned by the ace of spades is a classical omen of miscarriage and abortion, given the queen is in the roots position of the past this is indicative that this trauma is deeply rooted.

The middle column represents the present, in the centre of the column is the 2 of hearts which represents a new partnership, being in the middle of the whole spread this is what should be focused on throughout beyond the initial diagnostic reading as this is the most pressing current issue in the querents life. This is crowned by the 10 of clubs meaning the relationship came about either through travel or her new partner is someone from a foreign country, below the 2 of hearts there is the 9 of spades indicating the querents baggage from her past issues is spoiling her enjoyment of her new relationship.

The last column represents the future, in the middle there is a joker, stating her path is in a limbo state, crowning this is the 9 of hearts, in this context it is somewhat of a warning meaning her path to happiness could be ruined by jealousy and mistrust. Rooted at the base of this reading is the queen of hearts, meaning she should take advice from female friends and enjoy their support .

This is a simple diagnostic spread, but as you can see it sets the tone for the rest of the reading giving the diviner lots of avenues to explore, divine and discuss with the querent opening up dialogue.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

credit crunch conjure

Just a quickie post (since half of the large post I was writing on playing card and scopa card divination fell foul of a dodgy Internet connection and disappeared into the ether.)

I was recently helping a friend get accepted for a loan.

In the current climate, borrowing money can prove difficult, so you can use the following conjure to get accepted for any kind of financial lending, from private lending to credit cards, overdraft extensions and mortgages.

You will need:
  • a censer
  • a bowl
  • a jar
  • cotton wicking
  • string
  • 1 green bayberry scented candle
  • 1 piece of blessed chalk
  • manzanilla
  • calendula
  • coconut oil
  • double fast luck oil
  • high john oil
  • money drawing oil
  • dragons blood oil
  • crown of success oil
  • special favor oil
  • spearmint oil
  • high john the conqueror punk incense
  • vesta powder
Use the string as a compass to draw a circle on the floor with your blessed chalk, once you've done this take your string in hand and state your petition aloud 7 times, each time you state your petition tie a knot in the string to "catch" it.

Dress your candle with a little of each of the oils, minus the coconut oil, drawing the oils towards you as you anoint them on the candle.

Drop the candle in the jar and sprinkle a little manzanilla and calendula into the jar also, wind your knotted string clockwise around the top of the jar.

Mix a little JTC punk incense with manzanilla and calendula and place it in your censer in a little pile.

Fill your bowl 3/4 full of coconut oil (melt it in hot water first), add a little of each of the other oils along with a sprinkle of manzanilla and calendula. Drop your cotton wicking into the bowl to make a lamp (see magical lamps post for more information on making magical lamps).

Draw the following symbol inside the circle with the blessed chalk:

Take all your items and place them in the positions shown on the photograph at the top of the post, also make a little pile of vesta powder on foil in the centre of the circle. Light your candle, lamp and incense, say psalm 23 and any prayers or invocations you find appropriate specific to your cause, light the vesta powder to seal the work. Leave all the items to burn down.

Good luck!

Friday, 8 April 2011


(a spiritual bath being prepared under the patronage and with the help of the Voodoo spirit Papa Agwe, this bath is to cleanse away bad luck and bring prosperity in its place)

Id like to talk a little bit about cleansing, firstly some problems with cleansing, secondly some common cleansing agents and thirdly some cleansing techniques. To go into specific cleansing rituals and formulas would be far beyond the scope of a generic blog post like this, but hopefully this will give you a simple overview to help you think about ways to make your cleansing rituals more specific and thereby more effective.

Spiritual cleansing is a great practice and can be practiced regularly, however I feel sometimes people use cleansing rituals ineffectively, often cleansing over-zealously or using certain methods inappropriate for the situation.

I see a couple of problems arising time and again with cleansings.

Ritual without purpose is pointless, if you are performing cleansing for the sake of it without a truly specific intent you risk wasting your time.

But a more troublesome problem is that over zealous or inappropriate cleansing may lead to spiritual stripping:
I know of many people who are obsessed, the slightest bump in the night or cold shiver and they fill their house with sulphur fumes and scrub every surface with blessed salt and water...they then wonder why they are living in a spiritually sterile environment.
It is worthwhile having a think about any work you are doing currently and how the cleansing might effect it.
For example, whats the point in go to the trouble of taking an Adam and Eve love bath if the next day you are going to bathe in salt and blueing?

Its something to think about, ask yourself before every cleansing "why exactly do I need to perform a spiritual cleansing?"

Some people think any type of cleansing ritual can sort out any type of problem, this isn't necessarily true, although it is fair to say many cleansing rituals have quite broad targets, still, an inappropriately prescribed cleansing ritual has the potential to leave your problems unsolved.

E.g Say you've crossed yourself up because you've been up to no good and laying tricks on people, that's OK, a little uncrossing incense in the house and a white chinese bath will fix that right? Possibly, but could it be your guilty status that is crossing you up? what you probably need is a repentance type cleansing, such as the psalm 51 holy hyssop ritual.

Inappropriate cleansing may also inadvertently cause more harm than good.
An example might be that there is a spirit in your house disturbing you and yours. That's OK, St Michael slays demons, we can scrub the house with a St Michael floor wash.
No. The spirit disturbing you could well be an ally, say an ancestor carrying a warning, or a helpful spirit trying to get your attention because they have something to offer you in exchange for service, to accuse said spirit of being a demon and making it unwelcome is probably not a good idea.

So, another good question to ask yourself before performing any cleansing rite might be "what exactly am I cleansing away and why have I chosen this particular method?"



Here are some issues that might call for personal and home cleansing, beneath is a lists of herbs, substances and products that might be good for dealing with them, not all are specific cleansing agents by themselves, one or two are simply added as part of cleansing rituals to replace the bad cleared out with a good influence.

This list is far from exhaustive and is just a brief overview off the top of my head to give you a quick idea of some common things employed in cleansing rituals for specific problems.

Holy Water, Basil, Garlic, Run devil run, St Michael's Go Away Evil products, Blessed Salt.

John the Conqueror, Louisiana Van-van, White Chinese Wash, White Sage, Florida Water, Blueing*, Hoyt's Cologne, Helping Hand products.

Hyssop, Holy Water.

Rue, Uncrossing products, Wahoo Bark, Sulphur, Blueing, St Ciprian products, Lye, Rosemary, Basil, Blessed Salt.

Almond, Coconut Milk, Water of Notre Dame

Blueing, Florida Water, Grains of Paradise, Sulphur, Vesta Powder.

*note about blueing: NEVER use bluestone (copper sulphate) sold in some botanicas or online stores as a blueing agent, it is toxic, not safe to bathe in and not safe to put on the floor if you have pets, use laundry blue balls instead, if you cant get blue balls then mix blue food colouring with a small amount of bio washing powder and some salt and you will have something workable.



Ritual baths can be taken to wash away negative influences, depending on the type of bath, different rites are practiced. Some bathing mixtures need to be poured over your head a prescribed number of times, some are to never be poured over the head, some need special candles to be burnt during the bathing, certain prayers and psalms are needed to be said with certain baths, ad infinitum.

In regards to baths aimed at cleansing, a general rule seems to be wash downwards to clean off negativity, lighting a white candle and reciting psalm 23 is a good generic practice during any ritual so this too can be employed, afterwards gather some of the bath water up and throw it in the crossroads towards the West to throw the evil washed off you out of your life
For a good general all purpose cleansing bath I recommend white chinese wash or St Michael go away evil bath.

If you're unsure about how to bathe in a certain mixture then stick to buying commercial baths from suppliers, such as Indio, and follow the instructions on the bottle.

The mixtures used for baths can usually also be used as floor scrubs, add it to a mop bucket of water and pray psalm 23 as you scrub your floors down, put some in a spray bottle for wiping down windows and surfaces.

Take two black taper candles and dress them in uncrossing oil. Light them and hold them in the shape of an X, go about your house gathering up all the bad vibes in your house as though catching cobwebs, when your done uncross the candles and leave them to burn out.

Alternatively take a black 7 day candle and dress it in uncrossing oil, leave it to burn out in the centre of your home, the black wax represents evil and the flame good, visualise that good will conquer the evil in your home and melt it away.

Swing a censer about your house or stand over it, there are plenty of uncrossing and purifying incenses on the market.
For a really intense cleansing sulphur may be used in a censer, but please use with caution, sulphur fumes are highly toxic.

Vesta powder is a great way to burn away evil, mix a little saltpeter with icing sugar, make a little pile of it on a plate and light the top, stand back and enjoy the fireworks!

White sage smudge sticks are good for cleansing too, terribly new age, but what the hell, if it works, it works.

A black hens wing can be pinned out and dried, this can be swept over a person or object to cleanse it of negativity, I personally use a whisk made out of a bundle of black hens feather sprinkled with van-van attached to a dried chickens foot much to the same effect. Black hens feathers are a ritual object associated with reversing and cleansing away black magic.

A trick taken from Italian Benedicaria I sometimes employ to cleanse a person is to take an egg, wash it in holy water whilst praying the Ave Maria, the egg is then rubbed all over a persons body, drawing up the negative influences (this is especially useful against the evil eye), the egg is then smashed down the toilet and flushed away.

Great for cleaning out a room, a person or large object. A small amount of rum is taken in the mouth and sprayed out of the mouth in a fine mist (this takes some practice) over the subject to be cleansed, a handle full of either basil or rosemary is then passed over the person or object front to back.

For cleaning out a house of bad vibes after trouble and strife take a coconut and kick it all about the house like a football, until it breaks, throw the shards out the backdoor and piss on them, especially good after a heated relationship break up.

Making a racket to scare off evil spirits is an ancient practice found in many cultures and traditions, i used to use a large gourde rattle covered in cowrie shells as it was so noisy, give something similar a good shake all about the house during cleansing rituals to make evil spirits know they are unwelcome.

So there you have it,  hope this helps you in keeping you and your home clean.
Peace xx

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Magic Lamps

Lamps are a relatively new trick Ive acquired, Ive been aware of them for a long time, but never really bothered with them much. Ive always used candles instead (much easier and less messier), however after a little persistence, the extra effort to make them really pays off and Ive found them to be a fantastically powerful ritual technique and an elegant addition to any spiritual altar.

(here is a simple lamp for healing a minor crossed condition, made with the help of st michael.)

You can use them in the tradition of the long term setting of lights for specific requests (unlike candles they can be kept going pretty much indefinitely if you keep them topped up with oil.), they can be used to "heat up" spirits, i.e filled up with the favourite oils and herbs associated with a particular spirit and used as an offering to whatever entity you are invoking. They can also simply be used as a focal point for your prayers and rituals.

Because the making of lamps is something I have only recently got the hang of, I feel i should credit the people and sources that have helped me develop this practice.

The first person is a vodouisant (voodoo practitioner) friend who is a devotee of the Vodou spirit Erzulie Dantor, she has used lamps successfully many times over the years in service to this spirit. I am not going to talk about the use of lamps in Haitian Vodou here, as I feel I don't know enough about the specifics of them because Haitian Vodou lamps are a complex ritual practice in their own right.
However much of the practical advice of about getting a lamp lit and keeping it going safely with a big fat juicy flame has come from her.

The second source comes from one of my favourite blogs written by an American conjure practitioner, he has some fantastic ideas surrounding ritual techniques that I've incorporated into my practice with great effect.

The third is my root worker friend and his partner who own a fantastic little old school style botanica, they often keep lamps going for their clients, they were the ones who inspired me to give lamps another go.

So, what exactly is a lamp? A lamp is just basically a flame proof container filled with oil and then a wick is placed in the oil and lit, producing a bright flame, they are safe as when done properly the oil gets warm but not hot and are much more contained than candles.


Almost any flame proof container can be used for an oil lamp, Ive found a small iron cauldron or an enamel breakfast cereal bowl works best, though others use all manner of container from half cut coconuts to tin cans. Try and choose a container that speaks of the work you are doing, e.g an iron pot for "hot" aggressive works such as crossing or perhaps a white ceramic bowl for "cooler" works such as blessing etc.


Ive found coconut oil (for cool works) and red palm oil (for hot works) works best, some folk recommend olive oil but I've never been able to get this working, olive oil always seems too heavy to be drawn up through the wicks I use, it also stinks to high heaven. Other oils I've seen recommended include sweet almond oil, vegetable oil and grape seed oil, I've never tried any of these but feel free to experiment. I found that the Anna Riva sprinkling powders (yes, yes I know everyone thinks they are crap) are useful as they stain the oil a bright colour, this is useful as you can stain the oil a nice colour related to the work you are doing, for example I once put some Anna Riva love powder in a love lamp and it stained the coconut oil a bright pink, perfect as a focus for love and romance work.


Ive seen all manner of things being used as wicks, from gauze to specialised ghee lamp wicks from Hindu hardware stores. Ive had the most success with a wad of pure virgin cotton (don't use cotton wool!), I simple take a small ball of cotton, give it a bit of a twist to form a wick poking out of it and stick it in the oil with the wick poking above the surface (this was taught to me by my vodouisant friend), this burns with a large bright yellow flame that does not go out and saves for messing around with bits of tin foil to keep the wick afloat.


You can put anything you like in your oil lamp relating to the work you are doing, herbs, conjure oils, powders, prayer cards, lodestones, seals, sigils....get creative, though try and place an odd number of items in your lamp, multiples of 3s, 5s, 7s and 13s are all auspicious and powerful.
A very sweet and clever thing I've seen is the use of baby dolls carved from wax being placed in oil lamps as part of love magic. Two baby dolls are carved from candle wax representing the targets of the spell, they are tied together in red thread and placed in the oil, as the oil warms, the wax gently melts the dolls so they become liquid, they mingle together and with the magical ingredients of the oil, they are then drawn up through the wick to be burnt in the flame.



Here's a very watered down version of a little work i recently did for someone, you can try it to get yourself a new job or promotion. It can also be modified slightly to make a house sale go easily. St Joseph loves helping people find work or a nice place to live.
This lamp calls on the power of st Joseph. If you are a man with a family to support (especially a foster dad or a step father to someone else's children) then St Joseph is likely to favour you, but if you are a woman or a man with no dependants, don't worry, you can still invoke him for this working as he is a kind and charitable spirit, always willing to help the needy.

Take a white ceramic cereal bowl and give it a good scrub with salt water, then dry it off and wipe it over with Florida water (this is how I cleanse most ritual objects).

Take a large dry bay leaf (bay leaves are for victory, think the Olympic games) and carefully write your intention on the leaf with dragons blood ink, something along the lines of "pass my job interview" or "find work" is fine. Drop this into the bowl along with a catholic medal of St Joseph and a liberal amount of crown of success oil.
Take a bottle of coconut oil and run it under the hot water tap until the oil becomes liquid, pour it over the items in the bowl until the bowl is about 2/3rds full, add a sprinkle of Anna Riva crown of success powder or powdered yellow chalk to the oil to colour it yellow (i.e gold, the colour of success) if you wish.

Place your oil lamp somewhere safe on a flat surface (make sure its away from anything that might catch fire, St Joseph doesn't want you to burn your house down!), add your cotton wick, light it, get on your knees and pray to whatever God you worship asking for his/her/its blessing.
Then speak openly and humbly to St Joseph, imploring his favour, tell him your problems, remember he is your friend waiting to help you (but only if you're willing to help yourself! pray till the cows come home but if you don't get off your arse and get sending your CV out, nothing is likely to happen), tell him you have made this lamp in his honour, state your request clearly and ask him to grant it.
Return daily and speak to him or just leave the lamp to burn, I personally recommend a novena (pray and speak to him everyday for 9 days) and then leave the lamp to burn as long as it takes to fulfill your request.
St Joseph is the patron of workers, the dying, housing and fathers, so if he grants your request thank him by letting his spirit do its good work through you and ensure you make a donation to a charity that deals with the homeless, orphans, the terminally ill or struggling families.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Cartomancy, the early years.

(Granny story alert!) When i was knee high to a grasshopper my grandmother used to have a treasure drawer in her kitchen filled with all kinds of objects fascinating to small curious hands, paper clips, cigarette lighters, bits of string, broken watches, keys, sticky tape, magnify glasses and her tarot cards...

I remember at a very young age rooting through her kitchen treasure drawer when I stumbled across the brown cardboard box held together with yellowing tape, the box had the words "mystic fortune telling cards" printed on it in faded blue ink amidst strange occult symbols.

"What are these Nonna?"

"Don't touch those Paolo, they are dangerous, they can show the future but playing with them when you don't know what you are doing can invite evil spirits."

She took the "dangerous" pack out of my hands and spread them across the surface of the kitchen table revealing a fan of vivid colours and strange symbols, depictions of skeletons, dogs, bats, stars, suns, moons, arabs, sphinxes, swords, angels, kings, queens, knights, quick as she did this, skillfully as a poker croupier, she scooped the cards up and slid them back into the little cardboard box. I was captivated, my love affair with cartomancy was sparked.

Still in junior school, I acquired a pack of ordinary playing cards, i would wow my friends with simple card tricks, I would also wow them with my ability to "talk to the devil", ask a question and he will answer, a red card for yes, a black card for no, but careful, if he shows you the ace of spades then you will die...

It was summer and I was out on the school playing fields with my friend Adam, i was flipping the cards for him to see if a girl called Lorna in our class would marry him, the devil seemed to think this young love was promising, according to Old Nick they were to marry, become pop stars and have 12 children.

A girl called Corrine came over; "what are you doing?" she obnoxiously inquired.

"talking to the devil" I said non-chalently

She pulled a face.

So, I explained the divination method.

"Thats stupid, its just the way the cards are laid in the deck" she snorted, "your such a weirdo". A small group of children were starting to gather around us and gawp.

Angry, slightly embarrassed and filled with the spite and cruelty that seems to come so easily to children, I began to shuffle the cards and announced in a dead pan and serious voice:

"is Corrine going to die?"

Tension suddenly filled the air, Corrine went silent and her eyes became wide, as the now fairly large group of children around us murmed to each other.

I flipped the card on top of the deck...a red card.

I looked at her silent and smug, her eyes began to fill up with tears, "that's stupid, you're stupid there's no such thing as the devil..." she began.

Adam cut her off  "if you don't believe in the devil that means you don't believe in God, so you're going to go to hell"

"Yeah Corrine, your going to die and go to hell and theres nothing you can do about it" I chipped in.

"Corrines going to hell, Corrines going to hell..." Adam began to sing in a mocking voice, me and the other kids began to join in "Corrines going to hell, Corrines going to hell..."

Corrine really began to choke up, she quickly turned around and ran off to find the nearest teacher.

An hour later, a much deserved slap on the arse off a teacher with an old gym shoe and confiscation of my magic cards nailed the coffin lid shut on my junior school fortune telling career.....

When I was 14 years old, my mother bought me my first deck of tarot cards. The Rider Waite. The very same deck i still use today.
It didn't take me long to memorise the meanings of the 78 cards, as I laid them out in front of me it was easy to see patterns in between the cards as their basic meanings played out against each other.
Every time I saw a new pattern between the cards, even more complex patterns became evident, patterns made out of patterns, then patterns made out of patterns made out of patterns, and as these layered symbolic meanings became ever more complex and yet ever more clear, they exploded into a matrix tapestry of narratives, instructions and insights.

I started reading professionally in my late teens and early twenties, it was during my period as a professional tarot reader in my twenties, working for the local African and Caribbean communities in my home town I began to become more heavily involved in the secrets of hoodoo, conjure and obeah, but that's a whole other post.

I've had lots of adventures as a tarot reader and hopefully will be able to tell you about some of them at some other point in this blog, I've had djinn doctors, criminals, obeah men, pagans, hookers, gypsies, bored housewives, ladyboys, catholic priests, hippies, witches, drug dealers, businessmen, lawyers, the good, the bad, black, white, brown, rich, poor, old, young, gay, straight, the mad, the sane all coming a story to tell, each one a beautiful mystery in its own right ready to be reflected in the mystical mirror of tarot.

Anyway, enough of my dramatic musings. I want this blog to be focused on the practical so I would like to give some tips for anyone starting out in tarot.


Many people when starting out in tarot and learning the individual meanings of the cards discard the minor arcana and concentrate on learning the major arcana, I advise against this, the symbolism of the major arcana is relatively simplistic compared with much of the minor arcana, start with the hardest cards, the court cards, then once you have got over the hard bit, the rest should be easier.

Don't despair if it takes you a long time to learn tarot, contrary to popular belief tarot is NOT an easy method of divination, in fact it is one of the most complicated methods readily available.

Don't be discouraged if you cant read for yourself as the querent, reading for yourself is the hardest thing to do. If you are starting out in tarot and are too shy to practice on friends and family then try divining for fictional characters in your favourite soap operas and TV series, you might be suprised at the results!

Be ethical. Sometimes the line between intuition and cold reading can become blurred without the reader even realising it, be vigilant that you are not cold reading someone, COLD READING IS DISHONEST and a fast way to ruin your reputation as a reader before you've even built it.
As a reader part of your job is a counsellor, but its important to remember that divination isn't just counselling, don't be swept away  by the new skool tarot fad of psychobabble-lets-talk-about-your-feelings, if someone wants (or needs) therapy then point them in the direction of a professional counsellor, it is your job to provide practical insights as much as to provide emotional support. Id much rather hear this weeks winning lottery numbers or that my partner is sleeping around off a fortune teller than throwaway advice like "youre at a crossroads in your life" or "you need to love yourself more".

Use your intuition, let images wash over you, listen to your spirits, if you're suddenly struck by a strange image don't be afraid to say it, it may be meaningless to you, but may have great meaning for your querent.

If you're charging, don't take the piss, only charge if you can fully read tarot, to do anything else is simply not fair and is fraud, you are being paid to interpret a symbolic language written on randomn cards, that is a skill if you believe in the mystical side of tarot or not, if you don't fully know the symbols and are setting yourself up as a reader then you are a fraud, plain and simple.
Charging someone between £25-£40 for an hour of your time is reasonable. However by the same token don't undercharge, £5 for an hour says an hour of your time isn't really worth much.

Don't offer baths, gris-gris, mojos, rituals etc unless you know what you are doing and you think your client absolutely needs it. Be very careful about the sale of these things as part of a reading, familiarise yourself with your countries laws on the sale of spiritual goods and services. Don't over charge for these goods either, charge for the materials it takes to make them and the time it takes you to make them, anything else is exploitation.

There are many myths and traditions associated with tarot, sleeping with them under your pillow, wrapping them up in silk of your favourite colour, reading by candlelight, not letting other people touch your deck etc. If you find any of these help with your reading in any way, then incorporate them into your practice, it certainly cant hurt.