Saturday, August 26, 2017


Hey folks, thanks for your enthusiasm and support with Down Home Tarot. I am no longer updating this blog, nor am I maintaining social media accounts or my Etsy store.  I am no longer taking orders for online tarot readings.

Y'all take care of yourself.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

An Announcement!


I wrote a poem.

Now the poem is getting published!

If you don't know andi grace and the witch cabinet, I highly recommend you take a look. It's for "badass femme magic," and andi's healing lens is powerful and infuses everything they do. They've published several zines and posters, usually around femme healing on particular topics, and they also have a column over at perennial favorite Little Red Tarot.  I have andi's herbal abortion poster, and I look forward to collecting more of their work.

This month, the witch cabinet is publishing a zine called "soother - femmes grieving family and fertility." When I saw the call for submissions, I was stirred to work on a poem about my own infertility, and how it ties in with my gender and my body. I ended up with The Freemartin, a poem structured around tarot cards I found relevant. Just writing and submitting it was scary, but andi's approach made that vulnerability safe, and for that more than anything I thank them.

The zine will be published on Mother's Day. Consider pre-ordering it, especially with the consideration that ten percent of profits will go to a "community group that support parents in marginalized communities." It's pay what you can.

Thank you to everybody in this community who has made it safe to be vulnerable, and special thanks to andi grace for helping us use that vulnerability in service to healing.

A Closer Look: Ace of Pentacles

Key words and concepts

  • Reward
  • Security
  • Physicality
  • Planting seeds for future success
  • Earth element

I love aces; they  communicate their meanings so clearly when I pull them in a spread. As the essence of the suit, the ace of pentacles represents themes of tangible security and success. Historically, pentacles are related to work and money, but more and more I see them read as physical manifestations in general, especially body-related. You can decide which theme you prefer, or combine them!

If you've read my post on suit meanings, you know that pentacles are associated with the classical element earth. Personally, when I pull the ace of pentacles, it's a sign that I need to get back to gardening!  Beyond the classical elements, though, each suit has an associated season and cardinal direction. I read aces as the cards that carry those meanings most prominently.

Season and cardinal direction association is another chance for you to bring your own idiosyncratic flavor to your readings; for example, I know that the "official" season for pentacles is spring (at least, that's what I learned). In the Waite-Smith deck, you can see white lilies blooming in a newly-lush garden, a clear indicator of springtime. However, the interpretation never worked in my readings. Cups always declared themselves the springtime suit for me, with pentacles settling nicely into the role of summer. For cardinal directions, pentacles mean south to me.

When I pull the ace of pentacles in a spread, I might read issues of basic needs; are you getting enough sleep, food, and water? Have you spent the right amount of time outside for you?

I might also read it as some essential issues around work, but "work" means a lot of things to me, not necessarily just money-earning in a capitalist framework. The ace of pentacles could mean that the effort you are putting into a technical or creative endeavor right now is laying the groundwork for success later on.

Aces provide a lot of clarity around how you read a suit. Do these meanings make sense for your version of pentacles? What would you change about directions or seasons? What does it mean to be the "seed" of a suit?  Let us know in comments!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Start a Local Tarot Club!

I recently started up a tarot club with the help of a local coffee shop, and it has been a wonderful way to connect with others and expand my own practice. It's something I wanted to do for a long time and only recently got around to starting. At first, I thought I had to have something highly structured and exciting, and that it would only be successful if I had a dozen or more people each time. I'm finding, though, that our loose, small group is deeply satisfying.

If you're interested in cultivating a local community of tarot readers, but you're not sure where to start or think you aren't "advanced" enough to organize a meeting, don't worry! I'm here to share the structure and origin story of our tarot club to help get you started.


1. The Prep Work: Location, Time, & Publicity

If possible, find a place that will partner with you and let you announce club meetings on their social media. I approached my local coffee shop because they were used to seeing me there and I knew they were interested in creating a welcoming, creative space. You'll want a public space that is as accessible as possible and doesn't require people to spend money (or at least not very much). Our club meets once a month, and it's posted on my blog's social media as well as the social media of the coffeeshop. Include the time and place, but also a sentence or two about the purpose of the club. It was important to me that our tarot club be open to everybody from experts, beginners, and skeptics, but you can decide what tone you want to set for your community.

2. The Structure

When I started planning our tarot club, I thought I had to have a unique theme and activities for each session, plus exciting new educational material for people. Fortunately, I was extremely wrong. Since I technically initiated the club, folks did look to me for structure, but I ended up keeping it simple.

We start each meeting by going around in a circle and introducing ourselves and briefly describing how and why we read tarot; this is useful because we are a drop in group and there are new people each week.  Of course, we read cards, too: Every person pulls three cards for the person to their left and interprets them while the group observes. After the reader finishes their interpretation, the querent and group members describe what they learned and what they have to add. Just the intros and this simple activity fill up an hour or two quite easily, especially if you factor in all the time we spend drooling over each others' decks!

This structure ended up being really great; since the personalities in our group are very supportive, it turns into a really empowering experience that pushes us to interpret the cards in new ways. It also gives new readers a chance to hear different ways of interpreting, showing them that there isn't one correct way to read the cards.

3. The Follow Up

My tarot club is pretty low-maintenance. I keep up with my social media and try to respond in a timely manner when club members contact me, or when people reach out with questions about us. I announce our meetings ahead of time, and I also try to drop in and do some donation-based readings at the coffeeshop just to keep the tarot presence active. Additionally--and this is important--I do my best to support the venue in other ways. Our coffee shop supports us by hosting us and publicizing us, so I also make sure to promote other events that they offer. We're lucky because our coffee shop is the kind of place I want to promote anyway--that's why I picked them!


Cultivating a local tarot community is enriching and empowering. A tarot club is a relatively simple way to do it; would this approach work where you live? How would you change the structure? Would there be a benefit to restricting it to advanced practitioners? Please share your thoughts in comments!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Storytelling Practice for Tarot

Many of the beginner approaches to tarot out there focus on learning card meanings. There's a good reason; 78 is a lot of cards to learn, and the basic meanings are foundational to reading the cards. But I find comparatively few resources out there to help us practice synthesizing meaning. This is frustrating if you are somebody who struggles to "just use your intuition" around the cards. In other words, it's hard to find beginner resources for the storytelling aspect of tarot.

The exercise I'm sharing today works even if you have zero knowledge of card meanings; you can do it with your first tarot deck, fresh out of the box, with no background! It's also an exercise I still find useful even after reading cards semi-professionally for the past few years. Long-time veteran cardslingers, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

The first step is to take your deck and pull two cards.  Lay them side by side.  I'm using the Tarot of the Magical Forest today, and I pulled the knight of wands and the nine of pentacles.

Now, I want you to tell a story about these two cards.  Forget that they are tarot cards; view them as adjacent illustrations in a children's book. Don't worry about associating them with tarot meanings.  Write or say a few sentences about what is happening in a way that connects the two pictures into a cohesive narrative.  Here's my "story" about these guys:
Sir Swampington is a young noble, famous for his ability to tame wild frog-steeds. He has pined after Patricia Pentacles, a dashing young fox woman; however, she has taken a vow of silence and celibacy. She lives content tending to a wildlife refuge. Sir Swampington has decided that the heartache is too much, so he leaves to seek a new adventure. 
Is it silly? A bit over the top?  Heck yeah. That's kind of the point here; creativity and storytelling are skills that require practice, and this exercise is the basic version of it (think of it as practicing your scales on the piano so that you can play a sonata later). Also, ignoring the tarot meanings for awhile gives you the freedom to get a bit silly with it, and whimsy can be a great tool for allowing yourself some creative freedom.

Once you're comfortable with this exercise, you can try another permutation.  Pull three cards, but this time assign them a specific role. The first card is your main character; the second is their best friend, and the third, their antagonist. I pulled Judgement, the three of pentacles, and the High Priestess:

I'm doing the same kind of children's-picture-book storytelling here, but I've added more structure with the roles.  I'm still not thinking about tarot-related meanings. Here's the story I came up with:
Lucretia Flufflywings is a sheep-angel who is in charge of leading a band, but she is nervous about being in charge.  Her best friends, Foxypants and Weasel-nose aren't good enough musicians to be in her band, but they know she is stressed out, so they invite her over to their weird church-house so she has a relaxing place to stay. Their landlord, Queen Owl, doesn't like this; she makes it her goal to keep Lucretia from staying with Foxypants and Weasel-nose, and even tries to break up Lucretia's band. However, it only galvanizes Lucretia, and with the support of Foxypants and Weasel-nose, she leads her band to win all the Grammies the next year. 
Guys, that story was so silly that I was almost embarassed to type it out. This brings me to another point: obviously, our querents are in a vulnerable position when we read for them, but we are also vulnerable as card readers. That is to say, we are exposing our own intuitions, instincts, and values. This story-telling exercise not only helps us practice connecting cards together, it helps us practice letting go of the inhibitions that prevent us from really tapping into our intution.

These two exercises will help you get used to joining multiple cards together in narrative. Whether you use the simple two-card version, or the more structured three-card, you'll get to work on an important tarot skill without the pressure of "doing tarot."  This exercise should also work with any non-abstract deck (I don't necessarily see it being super useful with a Thoth deck, but hey, I could be wrong).

Do you think this exercise would be helpful for you? What are other ways you practicing combining cards? What story would you tell based on the cards I pulled here?  Let us know in comments!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reading a Spread: Self-Compassion

I am certain that I am not the only person who struggles with shame and vulnerability. They are experiences that are a normal part of the human condition, but shame can easily hijack our minds and prohibit us from growing or moving forward. I came up with this spread last week after realizing that I needed some concrete, tangible way to frame my feelings.  This spread provides a scaffolding that makes space for shame and pain, but also a pathway for self-compassion.


CARD 1: Querent's ego

When I say ego, I mean the self-aware part of ourselves with cognitive, critical focus. In this case, it is the part of us that replays every sentence uttered, every gesture attempted, and finds it wanting. Pulling the five of wands in this position was some major real-talk; when I am in a defensive, reactive place, I lash out. Some of the blows hit my attackers, but inevitably some also land on my allies and even myself. It feels not unlike being in a chaotic fight with a bunch of guys with sticks. For me as the querent, it leads to shame, which makes it difficult to find self-compassion.

CARDS 2 & 3:  A container for the pain

I pretty much sighed with relief with these two; I think the ace and the ten of pentacles provide a lovely symmetry here.  If the ace is the essence of the suit, and the ten is the suit come to fruition, then I see here that my pain and discomfort is held in a container of tangible security. I always have the earth, and I always have my home. I can relax into that certainty when facing my ego.

CARD 4: A strength of the querent's

This card, the four of swords, surprised me a little.  While I may struggle to control my reactions in the moment, I'm actually pretty good at finding time later to retreat and consider what happened.  This card also speaks to recovery; it tells me that whatever pain I suffer, I have the resilience to spring forward from it.

CARD 5: A message of compassion

Possibly the most empowering card I could have pulled, Strength is about emotional fortitude. In this position, she is a reminder of my own courage as well as the loving support of those around me. I'm actually struggling to write out an interpretation because this is one of those cases where the simplicity of the card, and the impact of the visual with her basic meanings, really conveys the message better than words.  It's one of those lovely moments in tarot that seems to transcend language... although I guess that's kind of a cop-out for a blogger!


This spread gave me a chance to honor the painful experiences of shame by providing a safe vessel for vulnerability. Do you think you would use this spread when you need to practice self-compassion? Could you see this spread working for somebody trying to cultivate compassion for others?  Did I totally just leave you in the lurch with my inability to describe the fifth card?  Please share your thoughts in comments!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pentacles: Three and Eight

One thing I’ve noticed when working with beginner tarot readers is the reluctance to bring idiosyncratic meanings to cards. One of tarot’s greatest joys is learning the traditional meanings of each card, but as readers we should also be willing to trust our intuition and provide our own interpretations, even if they differ from precedent. In fact, most aspects of tarot are not hard and fast, even down to the specific meanings of individual cards. The three and eight of pentacles is a great example of competing interpretations, and it’s an opportunity to bring your individual preference into your reading style.

The suit of pentacles is about concrete, tangible aspects of our lives, and traditionally has also correlated with wealth and work (the suit is still called "coins" in many decks). The three and eight show chapters in the journey from apprentice to master, but how those meanings are assigned varies from reader to reader.  Some read the three of pentacles as the apprentice, and the eight as master, while others reverse those meanings.  Others read the three as professional collaboration at any level. 

I personally learned the three as the master, while the eight is the apprentice.  If we're looking at the Waite-Smith symbology (pictured below), we see in the three of pentacles that the stoneworker is interacting with two others (including a monk), presumably to update them on the project's progress. This stoneworker, then, is in charge of an important, permanent project (stone decoration on a fancy building). On the other hand, the eight of pentacles is alone in the frame, making the same simple plate over and over, like a beginner practicing a simple skill. Looking at the card, I'm reminded of the hours I spent at the piano just playing scales. Boring, y'all, but foundational. 

From the Universal Rider-Waite (Waite-Smith)

But what about the opposite interpretation? Why read the master-apprentice dynamic in the opposite direction, since I've just given such a compelling explanation for the inverse? Well, the monk and hooded figure in the three of pentacles could just as much serve as instructors for the stoneworker as they could patrons. Maybe he needs extra monitoring as he works on his first major project.  The eight of pentacles, in contrast, can be read as a master worker who has enough skill and reputation to set up his own shop, and no longer needs to take commissions.  Additionally, eight is the larger number and comes later in the suit; if we are looking at the progression of numbers, we see that three is about growth and collaboration, whereas eight is about forward-moving energy.

Ultimately, you will decide which interpretation resonates most with you.  Additionally, your interpretations will be altered based on the surrounding cards, the query posed, and even the deck you're working with. This post is intended to give you a foundation for working with these two cards, but ultimately to encourage you to explore your own individual interpretations.

How do you read these two cards? Are there interpretations beyond what I've presented here? How does all this translate to other non-Waite-Smith decks you've worked with?  Let us know in comments!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Reading a Spread: Cultivate-Practice-Celebrate

While working on another project, I found myself writing the phrase "cultivate, practice, and celebrate." I realized that these are the steps we can take to manifest certain characteristics in ourselves and our lives. Sometimes, we know what we need more of--maybe you want to become more resilient, or foster simplicity in your life--but don't know how to make it happen. The spread below provides a starting point.  


Approach this spread with a specific characteristic in mind.  The reading I'm presenting you was in response to my query, "How do I cultivate, practice, and celebrate patience?" 

CARDS 1 & 2: Barriers

The ace of wands and the Hierophant provide an interesting contrast. The ace is all about creative beginnings and starting new projects, while the Hierophant represents knowledge gained from those who came before you, or institutional knowledge.  I see the conflict between the two as challenging my patience; when I'm excited about starting a new project, it can be frustrating to feel bogged down by institutional procedure, or the need to familiarize myself with background research. Sometimes, you just wanna get started!

CARD 3: Cultivating

This card answers the question, "How do I create an environment that encourages patience?" When we're trying to change a behavior, it's easy to forget what a big role our environment plays. The six of pentacles describes how I can make it easier on myself; this card can mean generosity, among other things. In this position, I'm encouraged to seek out people with a generous spirit, where being patient is less of a challenge, so that I can more easily practice truly embodied patience. With any luck, this mindfulness around my generous friends will be like practicing for a more difficult event--having patience with people who actually piss me off!

CARD 4: Practicing

This position tells me the action, the behavior, I can take to manifest patience. The queen of wands is a passionate leader, and a talented, inspirational communicator. If you know how I read court cards, then you know that I see the queens of the tarot as the highest rank, and the ones who see the broadest context of our lives. Here, she's telling me that I can still use that passion from the ace of wands (originally a barrier) and channel it into communicating my appreciation to the people around me. She also encourages patience by teaching me to take the long view--I might be eager to move forward right now, but there is wisdom in slowing down and noting how much I still have to learn. 

CARD 5: Celebrating

If I want to manifest patience in my life, I have to be willing to appreciate it when it comes along! The nine of pentacles is a lovely card that denotes warmth, abundance, accomplishment, and security. This card always feels like a chance to revel in the good parts of your life; when patience is embodied, it provides an opportunity to observe deeply the best aspects of the world. These moments themselves become a celebration. 

CARD 6: Possible outcome

One of only two major arcana in this spread, Temperance is balance and cooperation.  By manifesting patience in my life, I can create a greater sense of internal balance, as well as increase my ability to connect meaningfully with the people around me. An encouraging card, and much in line with my reasons for focusing on patience. 


What characteristic are you trying to manifest in your life right now?  Would this spread help you?  What do you think of just using the third, fourth, and fifth card and making it a 3-card spread?  Share your thoughts in comments!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week 4: #tarotnerdschallenge

As I shared on Monday, I'm catching up with the #tarotnerdschallenge on Instagram, and expanding on my responses here on the blog. Today, I'm looking at some of the questions from Week 4.

I like these questions because they draw on the distinct meanings of each tarot suit; I cover these meanings in my blog post about reading runs of suits. This week's challenges ask you to draw only on the relevant suit to answer your question.  Below, you see the cards I pulled in response to each query, as well as my interpretations.  I used the Chrysalis deck for this one, in part because of the distinctive coloring for each suit.  I start my analysis with the card in the upper left and go counter-clockwise.

What does my body need? Draw the answer from the suit of pentacles.

I loved pulling the ace of stones. Since aces are the essence of the suit, this card is telling me to reconnect with the earth, nothing more and nothing less. The local weather has just warmed up, and with the recent spring equinox, this card could not have better timing.

What does my inner fire need? Draw the answer from the suit of wands.

The eight of spirals is one of my favorite cards in the Chrysalis suit of spirals; I grew up around lots of deer, and where I live now we have enough regulars that I've given several of them names. Essentially, deer feel very familiar to me. The forward movement of the eight of spirals (wands) encourages me to embrace my desire to do more creative activities. So far, I've been doing that with things like the #createthisoracledeck challenge as well as this blog, but I think it is also time to get back into some of my fiction writing (maybe I need to revisit my writers' block spread...)

What does my heart need? Draw the answer from the suit of cups.

The two of cups is a lovely card that can mean both close romantic love as well as intimate, one-on-one relationships. Here, the two of mirrors captures that sentiment with a pair of affectionate swans. I can read this card as a reminder to stay connected with my partner, but I think it is also an indication that my most rewarding social experiences happen when I get to have one-on-one time with folks.  For example, getting coffee with a friend will nourish me more than going to a party, even if I love everybody at the party.

What does my mind need? Draw the answer from the suit of swords.

Another ace!  The swords are already the suit of mind and intellect, and the choice of scrolls in this deck suits the domain perfectly. You can see this card also includes a raven and a key, which are symbols of knowledge (in fact, the Wild Unknown Tarot uses these symbols to indicate the deep knowledge of the Hierophant). With aces meaning the heart of the suit, and scrolls bringing an especially literary sense to the suit of swords, I'm reading this card as reminding me to keep reading literature. I go through periods where I devour several books in a short period of time, and then I tend to take a week or two off. This card reminds me that I always feel better during periods when I'm reading.

What theme or lesson is prevalent in my life? Draw the answer from the major arcana.

Since the major arcana tell the narrative of life's journey, it makes sense to pull from them when looking for overall life themes.  I pulled the Hermit, or the Storyteller. I have an affectionate relationship with the Hermit, and I love seeing her as a storyteller in this deck. As a hermit, she draws on her inner light and knowledge. This card tells me that I am at a point in my life where I define my life story, and I get to decide how I want to tell it. We all tell ourselves stories to help make sense of the world; as such, storytelling, even if only to ourselves, is a powerful act.


What do you think of these interpretations?  Have you been inspired by any of the March card challenges going on?  Do you incorporate general suit meanings in your readings?  Let us know in comments!

Monday, March 20, 2017

March Card Challenges: Tarot and Oracle Decks

Hey folks!

March has been a bit busy for a couple reasons. The first: I started a job (yay!); I like it a lot but I have less time to write about tarot! Second, I have been putting a lot of my creative energy into the #createthisoracledeck challenge on Instagram. This is literally my first experience with any kind of oracle cards, curated by Over The Moon Oracle Cards.  You can see my responses to the prompts at my Instagram account.

But I really want to get back to some solid tarot practice and writing, so I was pleased to find another challenge going on in March: the #tarotnerdschallenge, also on Instagram (but I double post all of my responses to Twitter, too).  This challenge isn't about creating your own cards from scratch, but rather sharing your practice by responding to a few questions.

Today, I am posting a combo of cards inspired by a few of the prompts from the first week of the challenge.  From left to right, you see my birth card, my zodiac card, and my moon/rising card.

But what do those things mean, exactly?  Well, you know here at Down Home Tarot I really don't do a lot of numerology, so I actually had to look up how to calculate my birth card (which turns out to be the Wheel of Fortune). You may remember that my Zodiac card is Justice, since I'm a Libra. But it turns out there are actually other elements to your astrological reading: You have a separate sign for where the moon was when you were born (your moon sign) and also, what constellation was on the horizon when you were born (your rising sign).  For me, both of those happen to be Aquarius, so I only need one card (the Star). 

I am not somebody who goes deep into astrology, so I don't really know how to read a star chart or anything. However! If you want to know what your moon and rising signs are, you can have a star chart generated for you at, and then do what I did and head over to Astro DIY at Little Red Tarot and have Tabby walk you through the process.

I'll be posting with more of my #tarotnerdschallenge as well as regular content.  Be sure to check Twitter and Instagram for more posts!  Are you participating in any creative challenges this month?