What's New .... musings on the tarot, numerology and life

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1st December 2014

Tarot 3D – Imagination and Flow

Publicity for her new book “The Tarot Masters: Insights From the World's Leading Tarot Experts” by Kim Arnold, founder of the UK Tarot Conference, is helped by an extremely clever and attention-grabbing video on YouTube.


I was so entranced by this I hardly heard the narrative. What struck me were the wheels - the people on wheels in the Judgement card and the helicopter birds in the Empress card - giving real movement to the illustrations.

Movement and flow in tarot artwork is easy to ignore, or forget, as the symbolism and the "meaning" takes centre-stage. The great reminder here is that nothing in life is static, everything is in transition, and the image on any card really is a moment in flight - perhaps caught just after something has happened, or just before something else does. A good lesson in not getting hung up on the picture itself, but in paying attention to the context and the clues that suggest the unseen movement from A to B and also how it might proceed to C.

Tarot readers are used to checking nearby cards to see how any particular card is enabled or partially disabled by the proximity of others and their individual messages, but if we also consider their "journey" (currently a popular and over-used word) we bring to life an animation that has sense and direction, not just a jigsaw of flat images where the links may not be properly examined or considered.

Destruction and renewal play a big part in the three cards showcased in this video, with Judgement and Death often viewed as disturbing while the Empress lazes around in her sunny cornfield in an apparently non-threatening way. If we apply the notion of movement, of before and after as well as “now”, each card is showing one aspect of the cycle of destruction and renewal.

Death focuses on the inevitability of destruction, Judgement on the inevitability of renewal, and the Empress on the inevitable recycling of matter. They all play their part in the process, and while Death and Judgement may make us shudder and turn away, there is relief in giving up an untenable position, there is joy in revelation - having spent what might seem an eternity in waiting for a sign or new direction, and there is ferocity and indifference in the Empress card as new life battles for a foothold without a helping hand. The Empress does not favour one spark over another, and often before we are aware of its existence, the battle may already be over.

Reading a card is a bit like looking at a scene through the window of a moving train. We capture a glimpse of what is out there, frozen in that instant. We attempt to interpret what has flashed by, even though we know that scene may already have changed. The trick is to imagine how that scene came to be, and where it might be heading. Not just to consider the surrounding cards that aid or inhibit the situation, but also reading every “before” and “after”. Yes, we are caught up in interpreting the "now" but each card hints at how it came to be there and where it might be heading, how it harmonises or clashes with its neighbour, and what its influence might be.

If we are only going to view tarot cards as a series of flat images, separate and distinct, we may as well read beer mats. Every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end, much like the Empress, Death and Judgement. As long as the wheels keep turning (and when can they do anything else?) there is always momentum, a direction taken, a new scene to come across, another destination to arrive at.

24th June 2014

Numerology - Just what lies behind those numbers?

Are you, like many people around the world, interested in numbers, and what they mean? I refer to the qualities of numbers, rather than the quantities we have all juggled with from our school days to the present. When I was a child in England, there was a craze for adding up the numbers on bus tickets to see if they came to "6". I remember 6 being the prized number everyone wanted their ticket to come to, but I don't think any of us knew why.

I remembered this game when I first began to study numerology at the Connaissance School, and sure enough - 6 is the number of beauty, idealism and devotion. So where did the bus ticket game originate and what was behind it? We may never know, but we can discover what is behind the 6 itself and all the other numbers that together describe the universe and its workings. If this is something you would like to explore, and you can be in Montreal, Canada for two weekends in July, then here is your chance.


In Montreal, Quebec, with Berenice Benjelloun

The course will take place on two long Weekends, 18-20 July and 25-27 July.

The Foundation course offers a good basic psychological portrait of number, which is linked to the Ancient Wisdom teachings and uplifts the understanding of those little digits into the inspiring realm of symbol and energy. At the same time, by looking at the numbers in the birth date and name, the students can realise the subtle energies within themselves and others and bring into play their own powers of intuition.

Module 1 : Number as Teacher

1.  Genesis
2.  Attributes
3.  Year, Month, Day

Module 2 : Manifesting Wisdom

4.  Sacred Geometry
5.  Number Transformation
6.  Gematria (Lessons from the Past)

Module 3 : Transcending the Intellect

7.  Number and Self Development
8.  Visiting Ancient Systems (with an open mind)
9.  Reflecting on personal symbols

Practical exercises form a significant part of the course content and introduce you to simple systems of reading a numerology chart.

About the School

The Connaissance School of Numerology teaches a unique approach to Numerology, developing intuition based on numbers. The School was founded 1993 by Claudine Aegerter, its present Principal.

It offers a Foundation Course and a Diploma Course leading to certification as an independent consultant in Numerology.

We also offer a course in Esoteric Tarot.

The School has qualified teachers who have taught hundreds of students from around the world. We also run a Teacher Training Programme for carefully selected candidates who have passed their Diploma and have had several years' experience as consultants.

Do look at our website to explore the many ways we work with numbers.


If you have any questions or wish to book a place on the Foundation course in Montreal (18-20 July and 25-27 July inclusive) please contact Linda Mazri at lmazri@gmail.com.

22nd June 2014

The High Priestess – concealing or concealed?

The most familiar version of the High Priestess card is that from the Rider Waite deck. She sits in the open, a floating oasis in a world of blue, filling the card. Framed by the warm smooth stone of the pillars, she is unmoving and passive, waiting. The moon is caught in her dress, a feeble captive unable to influence the seas or raise a tide. Hidden beneath the waterfall of her cloak we sense a perfect miniature of the world we know, perhaps in the shape of a smooth pebble, perfectly round and painted with continents and tiny ocean depths. A gift of understanding to carry always, to roll along life’s path if we can only drown our egos in order to retrieve it. This card indicates water, although we see but a tiny glimpse of it behind the veil strung between the pillars.

The Maroon Tarot High Priestess is more hands-on, seen dwelling in the depths rather than presiding over them. She is poised and watchful, alert to every ripple of thought drifting upwards toward the light. We may feel we know ourselves, but much is veiled or hidden, just as the furthest reaches of an underground well are shadowy and mysterious. If we dare to hold a mirror to the still dark mysteries of our inner being, to drop the proverbial pebble and listen to it fall, we can know our soul from memory and sense the ancients. In both the Rider Waite and the Maroon Tarot, the High Priestess is the balancing force between the pillars of severity and mercy, explicit in the RWS, implicit in the Maroon, where she stands forward of the pillar on her left (mercy) almost as though she has advanced to conduct the oncoming forces. 

We have been many different things, and our meditations afford a glimpse of this. Still lives, caught in flight, drifting through the depths like dust in space, silently magnificent. It has always been with us, this extra twist in our DNA, detectable only when we look within, immersed in a quiet moment, to hear the pin drop and recognise the sound. Our tiny inner pebble releases a silvery pin each time it rolls to a halt, and every pin attaches a lost part of ourselves to the one we currently know. We are here to heal the fractures and merge the separate parts into a complete whole. We have the power within ourselves to feel, to know, to fathom the secrets that are buried.

On the Tree of Life, the path of the High Priestess runs from Tipthareth to Kether, showing her position as the backbone of the tree. The Hebrew letter corresponding to the High Priestess is Gimel, meaning "camel", that well-known ship of the desert. To tread the central path of the High Priestess on the Tree of Life is the only direct route to Kether, and necessitates crossing the Abyss, or passing from one realm to another, a change of state reminiscent of that in the Death card. The camel is incredibly adaptable in a hostile environment, carrying with it the means to store fat, to break fat down into water, to cross a desert (or abyss) using only what it carries within. We in turn store the capacity for greater consciousness within, the hope being that when faced with our own abyss, we may find the strength and inspiration to cross it unscathed.

The Hebrew letter Gimel is also reminiscent of the number 2 in shape, and 2 is the number of balance and cooperation, of dissent and argument, increase and decrease, of fluctuation, negotiation, arbitration and assimilation. The number 2 is either in constant motion, or stilled in a balancing act. Because of its ability to bring together opposing forces, smooth over differences, and create an atmosphere of goodwill, partnerships and accord achieved by the number 2 may be temporary in nature, and so the number 2 also corresponds to emotion and feeling, to insight, second sight and occult ability.

In the Quest Tarot, the High Priestess sits in a giant shell suspended above the water. She holds a veil before her and is surrounded by leaping dolphins. The keyword at the bottom of the card is "Meditation". If we meditate, then just like the dolphins in this card, insights may come streaming to the surface. To sit quietly and feel, to still our thoughts and calmly listen, is to engage with the High Priestess; to walk in the world while an inner world works within us. By its very nature, this kind of work is solitary, temporary, but the connection we feel to something higher is timeless. The veil lifts and moves aside, and the glimpse we see allows us to bind another secret part of ourselves to the life we are living now.

The arrested motion of the 2 is balanced and then released, but the whisper of a memory remains to tickle our dreams and quiet moments alone, when we sense those fragments of universality and how they slip through our fingers without completely escaping us. In exploring the depths we allow intuition to rise and show us how our worlds unfold and expand.

We may walk uncertainly into the temple of the High Priestess but we swim out with the dolphins.

13th June 2014

Friday the 13th - an Omen?

So today is Friday the 13th and who is paranoid?

Triskaidekaphobia - fear of the number 13, is something entrenched in the human psyche and the web throws up many references and reasons for it. The number 13, which reduces to 4, corresponds with the Death card in the tarot. In numerology and in tarot, 13 is the number of transformation - a change of state - so not strictly a death at all. Certainly the death of an old way, but also by necessity the beginning of a new stage. The 4 corresponds with foundations, a strong base or platform, so the inference is a parting of the ways where something is concerned, perhaps something cherished and long-valued, which can no longer legitimately survive in its present state, and once transformed it will stabilise.

Energy cannot disappear or die, it just becomes another type of energy and continues on, and so the “death” itself becomes a transition, a movement ending in metamorphosis. The number 13/4 indicates that change is occurring and this change will crystallise into a new form. The Death card does not always mean physical death (although it obviously can, as no-one escapes the inevitable) but more often it describes other kinds of endings and loss, like divorce, retirement, moving away, children leaving home - in fact anything that we sense is coming to a close in our lives and naturally feel sad about. There is an element of clinging on to the past even as it slips away from us, due to trepidation about the future and a reluctance to move away from the familiar. But as one door closes another opens, and if we are to walk out onto firm ground we should shed a quiet tear, let the past go free and put our best foot forward.

Transformation isn’t easy, maybe because we are rarely ready for it and the demands it will make upon us. Friday the 13th instinctively brings these hidden fears to the surface accompanied by a feeling of dread, even if we don’t know the cause of our uneasiness. Friday the 13th is like a blue shift - we sense the requirement of change rushing forward through the universe to claim us, even though we may not know where and when it will eventually strike. The Death card crystallises this into an image we should not shrink away from. A change of state is exactly that - transformation of energy seeking another outlet.

Butterflies do it all the time.

12th June 2014

Swords – Insight or Insult?

The suit of swords takes every stray idea and impulse, examines it thoroughly, spots patterns, then names and categorises the result. Without this ability we would have no way of organising our lives or recognising differences in the changing environment. Swords represent discrimination and also action, because once we have determined those differences, we reason, plan, strategise, and then act on it. Because of this, swords are also very individualistic. We think – first and foremost, as individuals and not as a group. It is only later that people with common interests (usually having first established themselves) will get together and forge alliances with a common outlook. This “me first” approach is the root of conflict in the suit of Swords, and nothing describes the gulf between the Two of Swords and the King of Swords better.

When I first began learning tarot, I had great difficulty with the differences between the Five and Seven of Swords. In the RWS deck they are confusingly similar, or certainly not different enough. In both, a lone figure is prominent and he has all the swords. In the Five, other figures are visible trailing miserably away, and in the Seven they are merely implied and out of view. What are we to make of this? Did one of the dejected people in the Five go away and think about his defeat, then come back in the Seven to swipe all the swords when the victor was carousing by the camp fire? Or did the victor sell the swords, buy some new fancy clothes, and then stealthily help himself to more swords (stealing is tidier than fighting and he didn’t want to ruin his new clothes?).

These questions occupied me on and off for quite a long time! Checking these cards in other decks didn’t offer too many clues either, as so many are clones of the RWS. Numerology gave me a much bigger pool to dip into. Fives are all about change, risk, reaching out for something you sense is there but cannot necessarily see. It is the step in the dark, the leap of faith, the willingness to explore and experiment. Seven has a fleeting memory of the Six (that perfect but temporary state the Five is striving towards) and wants to recapture it. Seven is the perfectionist, the scientist, the mystic. This number will go to extremes to follow through. So in essence, the Five is driven by belief, the Seven by certainty.

So where does this leave the Swords? The Five of Swords is popularly known by the key word “Defeat”, while the Seven has been unhappily labelled the “Thief card”. Just as all numbers vibrate to lower or higher frequencies, all tarot cards do the same – and not just when they are upright or reversed. The Five of Swords can be looked at from the point of view of the obvious victor, the one who has gained every sword. He has clearly dared and won. It is a triumph of self-belief. From the point of view of the vanquished, perhaps they did not dare quite enough, have enough self-belief. Their plans might have been badly formed, or full of holes. They might even have been fighting to halt inevitable progress, to keep the status quo and turn their backs on the future.

The “thief” in the Seven may be an unscrupulous spy preying on the work of others who are enjoying a well-earned rest, or he may be gathering up stray ideas, carelessly discarded by those who cannot see their potential and who do not have his patience and determination to forge something from disparate components. Where would we be without the single-minded scientists and mystics, who spent years of their lives dedicated to one discipline while the rest of humanity fought, drank, gambled and opposed their ideas?

The Maroon Tarot is one of the very few decks with a totally different take on the Five and Seven of Swords. I am very struck by the Five in particular, which shows a naked man crouching beside a hole in a desolate landscape. Perhaps it is a war zone and he has been attacked, robbed of everything and left defeated, with nowhere to go except to crawl into the hole and give up. There are five swords hovering on the opposite side of the pit and he is watching them. It is the typical “five” challenge – dare to cross the abyss for something just out of reach, even if you don’t know what it signifies or the sacrifices that might need to be made. So has he been driven towards the hole through loss and defeat, or has he emerged from the hole with an intention to go forward?

In a nutshell, the similarity between the Five and Seven of Swords appears to be one of self-belief/self-defeat. The difference is in the application of faith. The Five operates on faith in the unknown, the Seven on faith in oneself.

14th May 2014

The Empress

Spring has arrived and everywhere we see the influence of the Empress (Major Arcana III). Three is the number of creativity and expansion, of untramelled growth in every direction. Suddenly, after a long hibernation, nature is a hive of activity, with everything multiplying – insects, birds, rainfall, dramatic thunderstorms - and all around us flowers (and weeds) are springing up overnight.

The mark of the Empress is indiscriminate and riotous growth, permitted to stand or fall on its own merit. Nothing is encouraged above anything else and nothing is ever discouraged. All new forms are offered an equal chance to flourish before the inevitable appearance of the Emperor who will pare, hone and discriminate. In the meantime, the Empress has no favourites. She provides a fertile environment, one of light, warmth and bounty. Her guiding principle is abundance and non-intervention.

Three is also the number of active intelligence, and in the RWS deck we see the Empress seated in a cornfield in the midst of growth and expansion. Her shield bears the glyph of Venus and the slight swelling under her robe suggests pregnancy. In the Maroon Tarot, she stands on a balcony observing the effects of her influence rather than actively taking part. She has withdrawn from the environment and is looking down on the “soup” of creation below. Perhaps she has given it one final stir before handing control to the Emperor.

In cell division, three is the blueprint for all life, and only beyond this stage does life begin to particularise. At three, the potential is there and the undefined is waiting to take form and become something specific. When the Empress appears in a spread, the creative impulse has already taken root and is expanding. This is a time to look after the seeds of creativity, to let them grow and flourish, to give each an equal chance to become something. Some inspirations may take off and become reality, some may fall by the wayside, but like the Empress we should observe without interference and let nature take its course. Strong creative ideas will survive, but those with no inherent merit should be allowed to fail. If they are not strong enough at this stage they may never be, and will not stand up to the scrutiny of the Emperor as he weighs the benefits and drawbacks of each new form and how it fits into the harmonious whole.

The Empress is the breeding ground, the womb, the nursery where all creativity takes its first tottering steps. We only have to look at how nature riots into life all around us to understand that any creative impulse is also a competitive impulse and will collide with other impulses in its quest to put down roots and realise its full potential. Not every idea can become a project, and not every project will end in glory, but while they vie with each other for supremacy an important principle is being followed. They may all be afforded an equal chance at survival but some are inherently stronger than others. These will come to the forefront of our minds to be examined, considered and chosen for special treatment.

The Empress has fulfilled her role and now it is time for the Emperor to shape the process, to plan, to prune, and to rule over the outcome. Whether this is the beginning of a new creative venture or just the mundane decision to get the lawn mower out for the first time this year, the Empress has been the proving ground, the freedom and chaos of valuable and cyclical new growth. Once her job is done, she delivers the results into the hands of the Emperor, that stable and governing force that creates harmony through conflict, something the Empress (for all that Mother Nature can be indifferent) will never do. The old adage, “You have to be cruel to be kind” certainly applies to the Emperor as he takes control and shapesorder from chaos - something to remember when we are enjoying our gardens this summer!

30th April 2014


I recently attended the RS14 (Reader’s Studio) event run by the Tarot School of New York in New York City. During this three day event there were many opportunities to read for other people and have them read for me. One card appeared two days running, in readings for two different people (both asking the same question). This question related to a necessary change they were both making in their lives which they were finding difficult to stick to.

Temperance relates to the merging of opposing forces and the integration of those results. In the Rider Waite deck we see the Archangel Michael, the warrior angel complete with fiery wings, calmly pouring water from one vessel to another while standing with one foot in a shallow stream. His vengeful characteristics are tempered by the love/wisdom of the flowing water. He is forceful but merciful, and in no danger of being overwhelmed by the firepower he wields.

In the Maroon Tarot we see a very different depiction of the energy in the Temperance card. A hummingbird hovers near the face of a flower, feeding and feeding it in turn. Without the nectar the flower provides the hummingbird would die, and without the hummingbird to propagate its seed, the plant would also die.

These cards represent two sides of the same coin. The RWS deck shows the clash of opposing elements and how this opposition may be mastered and subdued, with the lesson delivered by a higher being. The Maroon shows us a gentler version, with the wisdom so often found in nature demonstrating how fusion is achieved and taken for granted, rather than resented.

Often in life we feel we are making a choice between this or that. We deal with opposing claims on our time, our resources, our loyalties. We are faced with choosing one thing over another (as George Bush famously said, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us!”). Sometimes this type of choice may be necessary, but often it is a choice we have imposed upon ourselves because we don’t see any give and take in a particular situation. But even the most unsympathetic circumstances, seemingly poles apart, can be brought together by mutual concerns.

Temperance is numbered 14 and corresponds with personal enlightenment. When forced up against a barrier we either succumb or overcome. What we must overcome is ourselves and our own limitations. Tarot trump 7 (the Chariot) seeks to overcome opposition by driving everything in the direction he wishes to go and managing the process. There are two 7s in the 14 of Temperance. This card takes the focus, precision, ego and drive of the Chariot and subdues it to the authority of the higher mind, willingly giving ground on a personal level in exchange for greater insight, cooperation and spiritual expansion. This is something the flower and hummingbird instinctively share and communicate to each other – the “wholeness” of life and its component parts.

Contrary to what we have all been taught at school, it is now known that oil and water do mix, as long as any gas (air) in the water is removed first and the oil and water are then shaken vigorously. To put this in Tarot terms as far as the Temperance card goes, if we remove the air (oxygen) of opinion and argument and turn the heat up on ourselves, we perform an alchemical experiment. There is anger in this card but the burning has a purpose. Once the shake-up has happened there is fusion/integration. Passion fused with love. Opposing elements have united to create a third, hybrid, success that still contains its constituent parts, though now transformed into something more. We are no longer governed by fire/ambition or water/emotion, but are consciously governing both.

So when we are struggling with choices and seemingly impossible demands, we would do well to remember that opposition invites integration, and the smart thing to do is give a little to gain a lot. In this, we may find most of the opposition resides within ourselves and we are merely projecting this onto the problem. Just as the Archangel Michael tempers fire with water to create a sword with a true blade, and the inter-species cooperation of the hummingbird and the flower promotes their continuing existence, so we can temper our instincts to connect with something higher than ourselves, and in so doing undergo an expansion of mind and spirit that allows us to access a new and enlightened way of being.