Inner Whispers

Guiding You To A More Magical Life

Inner Whispers

The Magic of Distasteful Cards

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Radiant Rider Waite Tarot

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The topic that tarot bloggers around the world are writing on today is: what to do when ‘distasteful’ cards come up in a reading.

For me, one of those cards has been the Hierophant.  In its negative aspect, this card can signify dogma, and authoritarian people and institutions.  Having this quite unpleasant view of the card when it came up in a reading many years ago, I decided to use magic to try to befriend it, or at least understand it better.

My first attempt wasn’t terribly successful!  I did a pathworking with the Radiant Rider Waite version (US Games, 2005), and ended up getting thrown out by the two acolytes :b

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Ancestral Path Tarot

Next up, I decided to try a more friendly version, the Ancestral Path Tarot (US Games, 1996).  That was far more positive and insightful, connecting me with the value of learning in a structured way, even about esoteric subjects.  A lesson I’ve carried forward, and which is part of the webinar on Tarot Magic I’ll be running on 23rd May.

Another, larger part of that webinar is another magical approach I also used with the Hierophant.  This time, it was for a querent.  The card came up in her reading representing issues she was having on her University course.  She was struggling with the bureaucracy, and with the rigid requirements that didn’t allow much in the way of free-thinking.  So, I suggested we work a little magic to turn things around.  After all, she didn’t want to give up on her course: bits of official paper are necessary in this day and age.

We chose the Ace of Swords to represent the energy that would help her move forward: finding clear ideas, focusing in, and cutting through the crap when necessary.  And the Six of Wands as a reminder of her goal of receiving the accolades and support that come from gaining a degree.

Radiant Rider Waite

Radiant Rider Waite Tarot Bridge Spell

Back then, my ideas around magic were less clear and less structured than they are today.  I simply went through creating the spell with her and advised her to lay the cards out somewhere she would see them for a month.  These days, though I still use this Bridge Spell (the bridge from where you are to where you want to be), I have plenty more suggestions and advice on how to activate a spell and make it as effective as possible.  Still, that’s a story for another day: the 23rd of May.

So, that’s one way that I deal with ‘distasteful’ cards when they come up in a reading.  If you’re interested in this approach, why not come along to the webinar?  It costs just £12, and will be at 4pm BST.  For the USA, that’s 10am East Coast time and 8am West Coast time.  Hurry, though, as I’m limiting it to 20 people, so that everyone can get individual input in designing their spell!

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23 Responses to “The Magic of Distasteful Cards”

  • Ania

    Yep, Hierophant is one of my “difficult” cards, as you’ll see in my post 😀

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  • Another interesting post from you 🙂 I think the different depictions of different decks may make difficult cards easier or more challenging to approach – finding a depiction that resonates with you will make a card easier to work with 🙂

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    • That’s probably why so many people search for “the one” deck – where all of the cards will have the exact depiction that best suits them. Or you can just have loads of decks, and do the comparisons in your head 😀

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  • Path-working and magic with the Hierophant and getting kicked out by the acolytes? Oh my!
    I love workshops that are born of personal experience. I know yours will be both deep and delightful!

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    • Thank you, Christiana! I certainly hope so 🙂 And if I ever run a straight-up tarot workshop, I’m definitely including your “distasteful card” exercise!

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  • The one thing that helped me with the Hierophant was realizing that any time I’ve taught anything – whether how to tie a shoe or read cards – I represent him. So then I have to ask myself if I want to be an inflexible teacher with rigid rules, or a receptive, open one. 😀

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    • That’s an excellent point, Beverly! I always see it as more institutional, learning or otherwise, but when we wear the mantle of teacher, we do take on that institutional hat in some ways 🙂

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  • First, I love that you discussed (in brief) a bridge spell, and I look forward to hearing more about how you work with the cards in that way. Second, this post made me laugh because I just did a bridge spell-type reading about 2 weeks ago (however I pulled the cards rather than choosing them intentionally) and the “future” card was none other than the Hierophant (Ancestor, really, as it was the Wildwood!). I love your words, and I love the new look of your site!

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    • Thanks, Olivia! It was about time I made a change as the site had been the same since about 2009 😮
      Didn’t see your tarot bridge post, so I’ll pop over and check that out after I finish hopping 😀

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  • Laughing with you at being tossed out by the acolytes — brilliant! It’s wonderful to be reminded that tarot is a tool to use pro-actively. No passive victims required!

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    • Well, I felt a bit passive as I was tossed out… 😉 Totally agree, take charge of your tarot cards! 😀

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  • I bet the Hierophant is a little distasteful to many a tarot reader who doesn’t quite fit into the social system currently 🙂 I like the image from the Shadowscapes tarot which shows the Hierophant as a wise old tree person. This reminds me that I love to gather wisdom from the natural world, so perhaps I can accept it from society as well when it is tried and true for me.

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    • It’s true, there are some really wonderful Hierophant depictions, like the Shadowscapes. I also love the Tarot of the Sidhe version, which shows several wise creatures at a treestump-table, and invite you to join their council 😀

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  • I like your perspective. Many times, when distasteful cards pop up, it an be distasteful to us because it is a trigger of some sort. I really like the idea of using magick to turn it around and focus on the goal at hand.

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    • That’s exactly it, Mindy. We can use magic to change our response to triggers! 🙂

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  • Your approach really helped me to see the value in decks that stray from the traditional Ryder Waite. I tend to be very loyal to that deck but I now realize what other artist may have to offer. I also have struggled with the Hierophant. It seems to me a card is often carrying the immagery of our society, not just our own personal viewpoint. In a different time we might all hate the Emperor with good reason! Your approach to dealing with this issue is very innovative and gives us several great tools to work with. Thank you for this great article.

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    • Glad you found it helpful, Richard. And yes, while I love the RWS, there is much to be gained by straying further afield, too 🙂

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  • This is one of my ‘bugbears’ too…but working with the Wildwood’s Ancestor helped me with this. I loved the image of you being tossed out by the acolytes!

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    • Oh yes, the Ancestor is another marvellous, supportive depiction of the Hierophant. Perhaps a bit distant and challenging in some ways, but certainly not stodgy! 😀

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  • Like that you too, have issues with this card! And that you get “told off” by acolytes or some of the cards. Warming to know I am not the only one. 🙂

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