EP116 Thoth Tarot, Expertise and Life with Barbara Moore

Andrew and Barbara catch up for their 7th annual talk. The conversation covers a wide range of things from COVID life, to esoteric tarot, expertise and its changing nature and all the changes that are going on in both our lives. This was recorded in December of 2020. 

You can catch the previous episodes with Barbara here 

Or snag it directly here.

You can find the podcast on all services or if you’d like to get it in your email along with other blog posts click here to join the bi-weekly newsletter.

You can find Barbara here

And Andrew is @thehermitslamp everywhere and his site is here.

Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

Transcript of episode 116

Andrew: Hey folks. Welcome back to The Hermit’s Lamp podcast. I know it’s been a bit, but while such as the nature of these times. I want to share with you before we get into the podcast, that there are some moderate level changes to the way in which I’m moving forward with the podcast. The first thing that you’ll probably notice is that this is a new seasonal format. So instead of trying to release episodes every couple of weeks, I’m going to release a batch of six episodes in the spring, six episodes in the fall and six episodes in the winter. They will just be collectively whatever I’m doing at that time and whoever I want to talk to, but they’ll be there for folks to check out. Secondly, I have decided that the Patreon wasn’t really working for me. And so I have canceled that. It no longer exists.

However, what I’m doing moving forward is asking people who want to support the podcast to do so through either buy me a coffee or direct PayPal or e-transfer if you’re in Canada. The links for all of that stuff is in the show notes for the episode. And I think the first thing that I want to say about supporting the podcast is one of the things that you’re supporting is accessibility, because for six episodes, it costs about $470 US to provide transcriptions, to ensure accessibility for everybody who wants to get on board and share in this. And I think that it’s on all of us to help make that happen. And then of course, any money that comes in above that will go towards supporting the podcast itself with hosting and technology and blah, blah, blah, all those things as well. So, that’s the second thing that I wanted to share with you.

The third thing I want to share with you is Google is mixing up their business with FeedBurner, which is the way in which people who receive this by direct email are getting this, so I want you to know that Google is getting rid of that. So what that means is starting sometime soon, you will stop getting those emails and there’s nothing I can do about that. So if you want to continue to receive updates about the podcast by email, please jump on over to the website and sign up for my newsletter. You will get some extra stuff. There’s nothing I can do about that either. The newsletter comes out every two weeks and showcases workshops, new products, other information and projects that I’m doing. And during the run of the podcast, it will also include the links to the podcast.

If you don’t want to do it that way, then my suggestion is find a podcast service that you love or can work with and start checking it there. It’s on all of the major downloads, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and probably a bunch of other ones as well. I’ve set it up in lots of places. All right? And so with that, here’s episode 116, me and Barbara Moore catching up for our annual talk. This one was recorded back in December of 2020. I hope you dig it. I hope that you will pitch in to help support the podcast and support accessibility. And I love hearing your feedback, so drop me a line and let me know how it goes.

<intro music>

Andrew: Hey folks, welcome to another episode of Hermit’s Lamp Podcast. I am here with Barbara Moore, and usually around the end of the year Barbara, and I record one of these episodes. I think that this is number five, if not number six in that series. And I’ll certainly be sure to list all of those in the show notes for it. And I assume that everybody knows who you are Barbara, but for those who might not know who you are, who are you? What’s going on? 

Barbara: Oh, two different questions. Who am I and-

Andrew: Start with who you are.

Barbara: who I am? I am a couple of things, one thing I am the acquisitions editor for Tarot projects books index at Llewellyn worldwide. And that is what you would call my day job. And my other job is I also create my own tarot decks. Well, I create the ideas and then work with an artist to bring them to life. And I’ve also written a few standalone tarot books. I do some teaching, a little bit less lately, but yes, teaching at conferences and workshops and whatnot around the world. And yeah, if people are going to know me from your podcast, that’s probably what they’ll know me for, is my work Llewellyn and my own published work. 

Andrew: Yeah. So it’s been another year, we talked last fall and you were still living, I believe on a farm in rural spaces and on the West Coast, so I mean, aside from the nightmare that is COVID and all of the things related to that, what else has changed for you? You’ve moved, right? 

Barbara: Yes. Yes. Last fall we intended to move back to the Midwest because rural California was a really fun adventure, but it really wasn’t for us. We missed a lot of the things that go along with living near a larger city. And we also missed the Midwest because we did. And so we decided to move in the spring and then COVID hit in the spring when we were going to move and we thought it’s not smart to move right now because my wife would have to find a job and how would someone find a job in this environment? And there were lots of reasons. So we decided to stay where we were so she could keep working and we had somewhere safe, but we were nowhere near our families, nowhere near, and it just kept getting harder and harder. 

The universe kept giving little shoves, like it’s time to go, you know it’s time to go. And then finally the internet went out. It just was out and it’s a rural area so there’s not a lot of options. And the service provider wouldn’t even answer the phone when we called, they would never call us back they just ignored us completely. And so we had a couple of other internet providers come out and this was in August, which is fire season, which meant the skies were completely filled with smoke because they are for like two months every summer. And so, because it’s rural, it’s all radio satellite based. So the guys would climb up on the roofs and they’re like, “Yeah, we can’t see our poles. We can’t get a signal. So we can’t service you, at least not until the fires are done.”

And so we couldn’t get internet. We didn’t know when we’d be able to, which meant I wasn’t working and I needed to work because reality. And so we kind of took that as a final sign like, “Oh, Hey, just go, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be scary, you don’t know where you’re going or what’s going to happen, but it’s clearly time to leave.” So, yes. So about a month ago we moved back to the Midwest and we’re still not sure where we want to be. So we’re staying with family for a while until we figured that out. So that’s a fun adventure. Adult families kind of living together and making it work. So it’s a big change, big change from California, completely different lifestyle, completely different living situation. And when we were in rural California, COVID was a thing obviously, but it didn’t change our life that much because we didn’t do anything, which is part of the reason we wanted to move back to the Midwest, to do things and to go to theaters, to go to museums, whatever. 

But when we moved back here, we really got to see how the city changed. Well, and we had the riots here, the George Floyd riots and driving around the city and seeing the places that got burned and destroyed and seeing the memorial, which we did all that right away when we got back. It’s been heartbreaking to see what has happened to the city that we loved. We left it four years ago, three years ago, it was so bad. It was like the best place in the world to us in lots of ways. And then so many places that we loved are gone now, restaurants, breweries, things like that. And places burned down, boarded up. Yeah. Living situation has changed a lot. 

Andrew: Yeah. How are you coping with that? How are you getting by with all that amount of change? 

Barbara: Probably my main practice since COVID is trying to stay one day at a time and not get to focused on the future and wondering what’s going to happen or what we could possibly do, also paying attention to the reality that I’m in and recognizing that basically 100% of the time I’m okay, right? I’m okay. And it’s only when I start thinking about what I’ve lost, we, the world, everybody has lost collectively and individually, what the future might look like, all of that. That is when I would get in a not great place. So trying to stay focused in the moment, pay attention to what I’m doing, don’t worry about anything outside of the day has been really helpful. And sometimes nothing has been helpful. Sometimes it’s been hard. I have never spent so many days doing nothing and wondering if I would ever do anything again like creatively or work-wise, I’m not working on a deck or a book, I got nothing. I’m doing my day job like I said earlier, my Llewellyn acquiring, but any creative work is not happening. 

Yeah. So the change. So just staying where I am, knowing that I’m okay, being grateful, obviously being grateful for what we do have and trying to find joy and happiness in just the littlest things, because that’s what we have right now. I’m helping other people reaching out, those sorts of things have helped. I mean, it’s really no one thing, it’s a collection of things. So, yeah. And I think you’re going through lots of change, I mean, maybe not move in house, but still change. Everybody is realistically even if nothing in your circumstances has changed. Everything has changed. How are you coping? 

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I’m going through plenty of change, like life has been hectic, the first round of lockdown here because I own a store, was pretty challenging. I’m very fortunate to sort of be partnered with essential service business, which was very helpful for me around kind of getting through in the absence of any support from government or other places. And here we are nine months later or whatever, and we’re back in lockdown in Toronto again, during what would normally be the busiest retail season of the year for me leading up to the holidays, right? But it is what it is. I have been doing my best to really tend to basics. 

So I’ve been eating my vegetables, whether I feel like it or not. And I’ve been working my body to regulate the stress. So before stuff got locked down, well in the spring, I was doing a lot of cycling and cycling to… Toronto has some pretty remote places for being a major city. And so there are a lot of places where you can kind of, if you can cycle for an hour, you can end up kind of away from everybody and in nature and so on, right? And so I was doing a lot of that when the climbing gym reopened, I went back and started climbing a lot and doing a lot of that, just to burn the stress off. Last night I went for a ride. And since lockdown again, I’ve been going back to cycling and I’ve seen foxes and beavers and deer and all sorts of stuff, right? Snakes and birds and everything, right? Lots and lots of different things. It’s pretty amazing. 

And I’ve been trying to tend to my sleep. It’s all the super boring stuff, right? There’s nothing super exciting about a lot of it because it’s really just kind of the basic, basics of things. I’ve been sort of dropping in and out of my creativity. Lately I’ve been making more time for it again, which was good. During the summer I was spending a lot more time outside and leading into like, “Hey, let’s take the kids and go to the beach. Let’s go do this, let’s go do whatever.” Just to get away from stuff, right? Yeah. I mean, those are the biggest things that I’ve been ultimately doing to try and manage it. And also, I was talking to a friend and I’m in a fortunate position where I have a lot of skills and a lot of things. So when we were talking about how the government was not supporting small businesses here, like the way they say they were going to, and I was like, “What are you going to do [inaudible]?” I’m like, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to get really creative about growing, shifting my business and so on.” 

And so I’ve actually been working a lot to make sure that things continue to make sure that things stay afloat. And so the experience that a lot of people had where they’re like, “I’m going to deep clean my house.” It’s like I just went into working like 60, 70 hours a week at the beginning of this journey, because that’s what I had to do to kind of get by. And yeah. And so I’m starting to finally shift out of that a bit more because things are more stable for me now and also just being busy with that, it’s like, well, it’s better than sitting around and feeling bad and scrolling in the say on my phone. So yeah.

Barbara: Yeah. I don’t know why, what you said reminded me of this, but one of the projects I did have to do this year was I had to write the tax for the 2022 Tarot calendar because I’ve been doing that every year for them. And I remember talking to a friend about it, saying, “I’m having a hard time getting started with this calendar, because I don’t know who we’re going to be in 2022.” And Frank had the opinion that, “Well, we’re going to be who we always have been, it’s a Tarot calendar, right?” But for me, Tarot [inaudible] a lot of it is so colored by my personal current worldviews, because you’d pick any tarot’s card, you can interpret it so many ways. It usually comes out as what I’ve been steeping myself in lately and also trying to craft that so the content is useful to as many people as possible, trying to make it accessible and applicable. 

And if I don’t know what we’re going to be like, how we’re going to be thinking, what kind of things we’re going to be facing. It just made me stall on that project. It could very well be I was just kind of somehow depressed, was looking for excuses to procrastinate, which is I- 

Andrew: Which is also fair during this year.

Barbara: Yeah. So I eventually did get it done obviously. And my editor has not sent back the edited version in the queries yet. And I haven’t looked at it since I wrote it. I’m going to be real curious to see what I wrote, if you know what I mean, because it was kind of done in a fog because everything, these days is a fog and I’m just hoping it’s not too harsh and too fatalistic, because I know how I was feeling. I could see some of that coming out and I don’t think that’s what we want in this project. 

Andrew: Well, I mean, I guess [inaudible] the question. I know you just said you didn’t know, but I’m going to ask anyway, what do you think is going to be different coming out of this time? We’re recording this at the start of December 2020, there’s promises of vaccines and stuff over the winter and into the spring or summer, depending on where you live and what’s going on. There’s just a change of government, which is not fully finalized yet.

Barbara: Maybe, maybe.

Andrew: Maybe, maybe theoretically, right? In America anyway. Yeah. Who do you think we’re going to be coming out of this? What changes do you think will happen? 

Barbara: Well, there are a couple of ways that could go. One, we could just get over this crisis and then just go back to practically normal with no change, which would be sad because there’s opportunity for growth when you go through crisis. I mean, this is like all the fives and tarot put together, happening right now. And if change doesn’t come, if you don’t grow from that, it’s kind of like you just went through it for nothing, maybe, but you can get bragging rights for surviving, so that’s something. Okay. Here’s something that has been bothering me a lot in terms of… Is that okay if it’s slightly political? I’ll try not to mention-

Andrew: Yeah. Go ahead. 

Barbara: Because I’m not generally very political, but I feel like America, and I can always speak for what I think of America right now, is that the state that we find ourselves in, this state where 50% of us think one thing and 50% think another, because that’s basically where we’re at. I mean, you can tell, election results that are 0.3%. We’re half and half, we’re divided. I would love to see us move in a direction where we shift because we’ve spent many decades… Well, actually all of American history basically is the individual is paramount. The individual is the most important thing, the individuals rights, freedoms, success, acquisitions, all of that individual. And so that is the premise of America I think, if we want to get super, super simplified. Now America also, because it has such a diverse population does not have any kind of universal initiation from childhood to adulthood. And I think that is the thing that’s destroying us right now, because if you look at how we’re behaving, we’re behaving like teenagers, children who have not been initiated, who don’t know what it means to be an adult. 

And I think part of what it means to be an adult is to accept responsibility for other people around you. And that’s not a super popular notion in America. I mean, most of the people who don’t want to wear masks, are choosing to not wear a mask because they don’t owe the other person in their space anything. All they need is their own freedom and it doesn’t matter how it affects anybody else. So I’ve gotten a long way from your question is where do I think we’re going to go? But that whole, we have no initiation, we are a bunch of adult children is been really big on my mind lately. But so where I would like to see us go is I’d like to see a shift a little bit from, I can get whatever I want and that should be my focus and I should achieve my potential and my [inaudible] and move into a more community aware other people considerate kind of place to live your life from.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, one can certainly hope, right? 

Barbara: Yes. One can.

Andrew: I also think that mixed into that, I think that certainly individualism is a part of it, right? In a part that we all need to sort of try and find a way to reconcile somehow. But I also think that there’s this piece where… I’ve had this conversation in a variety of levels around Tarot, around Magic, around sort of broader senses of things about this sort of the end of expertise, right? And how the modern age, the social media age allows people to create these sort of expressions of expertise that are not grounded in not necessarily grounded in experience, right? Not to say that they don’t know what they’re talking about or whatever, who could say. But that like, I remember when I first met people who would be considered kind of the elders of the Tarot community, Mary Greer, Rachel Pollack, a bunch of other people. 

And one of the questions that I’d asked people in my early podcast or in other dialogues was like, “Well, how long should you be reading cards before you become a professional? Right?” And the consensus amongst most of those people was 12 to 15 years, right? And maybe that’s unreasonable, right? I know for me, it was 15 years of working with the cards before I started being a professional reader. But I think there’s something different when people have achieved a certain level of study and things, or a certain level of knowledge, right? And I think that if you’re listening to this and you’re mad about masks, don’t email me, I’m not going to answer, I’m just going to delete it. I don’t want to have this conversation, but I’m going to say that one of the things that I find interesting is the amount of people who are like, “Well, I’ve read the science.” And I’m like, “I just can’t believe you because I can’t read the science.” 

I mean, I can read third generation articles about the science. Maybe I can read the summary of the science, maybe, but as soon as we get into the science itself, I don’t actually have enough knowledge to read that stuff, right? And there’s this sort of rejection of people who actually have expertise that is really problematic, right? Like really, really difficult and hard to reconcile, right? And if we have this issue where we don’t have people we can count on or rely on to be experts or opinions, evidence or the things aren’t really taken into consideration, then what are we doing? And then what we’re doing is we’re defaulting to feelings and emotions, aka cognitive biases, and personal biases, and cultural biases as opposed towards things that extensively should be more concrete or more real or more universal, right? So yeah.

Barbara: Yeah. Yes. I agree with you. I cannot understand the science either. I haven’t even tried because I know I don’t have that kind of background. So yeah. If you know you don’t have the expertise, how do you pick the experts who you’re going to trust? Right? I mean I know who I pick and mostly it’s just because they sound sensible and not insane, but I don’t know that they’re not insane. I-

Andrew: I was in a conversation with one of these people and they threw out some data about something and I was like, “That doesn’t seem real to me.” I’m like, “That is not a thing that I’ve heard anywhere else.” And I was like, “I’m going to look it up and see what I can just…” Because I got my phone in my pocket, right? So I’m like, “John Hopkins has some stuff about this.” I’m like, are we going to agree that John Hopkins is a body that we could probably listen to on this side, right? And they were like, “Yes, yes we’re going to listen to them because they whatever.” Right? John Hopkins had something to say that was completely different within the point the person was putting forward. They’re like, “Oh.” And then they still turned around and said, well you know, but blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m like, “But here’s this difference in fact, right?” Sorry I cut you off, you’re going to say something else. 

Barbara: I don’t remember, keep going.

Andrew: I mean, and the problem is that, as like mammals, we’re not good at making decisions in chaotic and problematic circumstances, right? Our responses and our biochemical responses and all that stuff are not geared towards consideration and other things, they’re geared towards reflexive behavior, right? So yeah, it’s tough.

Barbara: Right. Well, yes. And I don’t know if this exactly ties in, but all of this also has me thinking about qualities that I think are important for leaders who are governmental political, public servants is what they’re supposed to be. But I know for a long time people who were running for office or whatever, tell their achievements and their knowledge, their expertise and all of that and that’s fine. I mean, if a leader has those qualities great, but if they don’t, I’d rather have a leader who has the ability to listen to the wisest people on whatever topic is under discussion and to act accordingly for the greatest good of all the citizens. 

I think, if a leader has a strong expertise in a certain area, they may be blinded to other things or skewed or prejudiced or just not be able to look at things differently. So yeah, I think leadership skills are something that we might want to start looking for in leaders in the future rather than these kinds of skills. Which is not to say I’m not into mastery because I am, I just was pulling that out of the leadership definition of good characteristics. 

Andrew: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, I’m kind of curious, so we were talking before, we were on a segue hard here folks. So put on your seatbelts in your helmets. All right. So we were talking before about tarot stuff before the call, right? And we were talking about things like [Tough] deck, which you’ve been doing a bunch of work with, right? And the Rider-Waite and the differences around those decks and how there’s so many iterations of one, but not of the other, a bunch of this kind of stuff, right? And I’m wondering what do you see as the difference in those things? Right? Because I think that there’s something in there that maybe highlights things that are much broader than just tarot, but might be easier to kind of look at within tarot and then kind of continue this conversation of expertise and knowledge and other kinds of things.

Barbara: Oh, that’s a juicy question that could go in a million different directions. Well maybe I’ll preface it by… No, I won’t because it’s not pertinent. So the differences between the two decks in a broader way that might be applicable in other areas. Wow. Okay. Let’s start. All right. So here’s a random thing that I read recently and speaking of expertise, it was not from a Johns Hopkins level tarot source, so I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I heard, because I was looking up what we were just talking about, differences between right away and the [inaudible] deck. And one of the things I read was that you could see the difference in philosophy of the creators and thereby presumably the philosophy of the deck itself in the full cards for each deck and so the Rider-Waite full has the sun kind of above and behind him, the sun representing God or the divine. 

So it’s above and outside of you. Whereas with the fastball, the sun is right in the groin area showing that the divine or God is within you. And in fact, if you look at it as at the root shock, where it’s at the root of who you are, you are divine manifest or whatever. One thing, if that is true and not just someone saying, “Oh, I’m just going to say things.” That would be a huge difference between them, the location of authority, maybe where does authority reside, ultimate authority. So since you know more about the thoughts, I’m going to let you respond to that. 

Andrew: You think I have an answer to this question? I just ask questions, I don’t ever have any answers. 

Barbara: No, but I’m asking you in discussion terms. So it’s not the same.

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I think that it’s a question of like, are we in exile? Right? I mean, or are we not, right? And I think that we could say that the fool and the Rider-Waite talks about and the Rider-Waite journey is essentially a journey returning back [inaudible], right? So returning back to have it in the world card, right? And although we can sort of understand some of those implications in the tough deck, right? And I think that thing that you need to understand is that Crawley is in fact deeply, deeply Christian in structure, right? His stuff is deeply, deeply Christian, despite the fact that it would appear not to be at all, right? But it’s just more on the mystic front than on the sort of church. 

So the thing is if we’re in exile, if we’re in a journey away from the source of spirit or the source, as a very different matter than if we are never disconnected from it. Right. And I think that if we were going to talk about that kind of symbolism or that kind of worldview, I think that certainly that Gnostic underpinning of the tough deck, which is we have that divine within us, that we’re never separated from it versus the more sort of exoteric Christian notion that we are here and we will eventually return somewhere else. I think that that is part of it for sure, right? And I wonder if we’re going to apply this to the world, right? As I presumptuously put out there as a notion, I wonder if there are ways in which feeling connected or disconnected are relevant to the conversation at large in our society these days, right? Certainly you talking about we need initiations, speaks to that notion of needing a sense of connection, right? Because it’s one of the things that provides, yeah, but maybe in other ways too, I don’t know. 

Barbara: Yeah. Yes. And it is also interesting that the subtle difference too, is if you think of the divine as something you’re disconnected from and trying to get toward, that might lead to questions that you may ask the tarot that are more like, what should I do, or what am I supposed to do, or what is the best thing for me to do? Because it has that implication that there’s something outside that knows what’s fast. Whether it’s God or the divine or a plan or how the universe unfolds. So it’s like asking for or assuming someone or something else knows better than you, what you should do. And the fourth one is more like, well, at least the little bit I’ve read so far and not Crawley himself yet, I’m just stating that. But [inaudible] has been a big help, had my other teacher, Andrew McGregor, his work has helped me a lot too. It feels like the way this Tarot’s developed, maybe I’m reading into it, but it’s more about doing the right thing because you know it’s the right thing, rather than doing something because it’ll get you what you want. 

Andrew: I mean, I think that in the two polarities that we’re kind of talking about here, I think that question of internal, like us deciding, or us sort of working to understand what it is that we should do versus asking what we should do. I think if you’re in the sort of we’re exiled from spirit or exiled from heaven kind of point of view, then certainly it’s deeply external, right? And from that point of view, asking internally seems like ego, right? But from a point of view of being connected internally by spirit, right? Asking internally as a path to the same way, it’s just a short path, right? And it’s not necessarily that we’re asking our ego or thinking about it cognitively it’s that we are connecting to that piece of source that exists within all of us, right? But it is our personal sort of piece of that and looking for the direction there, right? 

And this sort of notion of discovering your will or discovering your path or discovering your purpose, it seems like there’s these choices where one hopes that God or somebody who’s going to tell you what it is, or we have to sort of sorted out. And in magic, there’s a lot of dialogue around sort of connecting with your guardian angel and that informing you of that. But I don’t even think that it’s ever an answer in the overt sense that people really believe it to be, right? I think that it’s so much more a matter of connection and alignment of truly understanding who we are. I think young and his individuation is not the same, but not so far off, right?

So I think that this idea that when I think of we need to look inwards and find those answers, I mean that in a transcendental way, right? And in a way that goes beyond our ego at some level, and then working to integrate that down. And to me, I’m not sure that either one is less relying on something that is seems external. I think that if we think about those higher parts of ourselves or this whatever we want to call it, our soul, or Ori or guardian angel, or this, that, or the other thing, I think that they are a 100% integrated and for our brains, there’re still external, they still function externally. So yeah.

Barbara: And what’s interesting is, we can talk about these subtle differences all day long, but I think what we would discover and what [inaudible] throughout time and space even today discover is tarot works, it works and it reminds me of, do you watch the British baking show? 

Andrew: I’ve seen a few of those. Yeah.

Barbara: You’re at least aware of it. Well they have this one segment each show, they called the technical challenge, which all the bakers are given the exact same ingredients and the same recipe and they do it. And then they all turn out differently because different people are baking them. And if you listen to the judges on the technical challenge, almost always for every single one that they taste, they’ll say, “Well, it tastes fine.” It may not have risen properly or blah, blah, blah, whatever, but the taste is fine. And it’s like, yeah, they all taste fine because they all have the same ingredients in them. And sometimes I think when I get too much in my head with this hero, what is better, is one better, what am I looking for? I have to just remember, it’s all tarot, it all has the same basic ingredients. And so whatever you do, it’s going to be good.

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I think… Go ahead. 

Barbara: But I still do love talking about the subtle differences between them. And I think they’re fascinating and important. Like one of the shifts in the two decks, Rider-Waite has the justice card and the Tough deck has adjustment. Now, I don’t know about most people, but when I’m using a deck that has different titles than Rider-Waite, I use the titles that the deck came with because names are important and they mean different things and can have subtle implications, even if they’re not really big changes. And so I think the comparing justice and adjustment are really, really interesting and support the idea that you were just saying, Rider-Waite seems to have an external focus and the thought is more internal because the justice pattern Rider-Waite feels like it could be earthly or illegal or governmental justice, or it could be commit justice, but it’s still an external judging of the situation and meeting out the rewards or punishments. 

The adjustment card, when I listened to a class about that, I was really struck with how different it was. It feels like adjustment is more like you’re looking at yourself, your own actions, your own behaviors, and you’re making constant adjustments as you go along in your life. So that’s more of an internal locus, locus, internal fulcrum point for that action, It’s internal rather than external. So again, it’s similar, but it’s a subtle difference and it’s still fun to talk about, right?

Andrew: Yeah, for sure. So what is it you are interested in or interested in getting from your journey into the [inaudible]?

Barbara: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I can tell you.

Andrew: Tell me.

Barbara: All I ever wanted from life was a completely elegant, beautiful, unified philosophy that represents the reality, it’s all I want. Now at different points in my life, I have sworn that I’ve given up that quest and accepting life as it is, messy, chaotic and not orderly and duh, but then I get tired of that nonsense and I want some unified system. So I’ll tell you one of the things that has always bothered me all these years, writing about tarot, designing decks whatever, one thing that has always bothered me is, I feel if you’re going to have a structure, the structure should mean something. It should matter, it should definitely influence what the cards mean. And with the Rider-Waite deck, I would do what we all do when we teach people to read, you combine the number with the suit, and that helps you find the meaning of the card, at least a good way to get started without trying to memorize a bunch of things. 

Problem I always had is the further down the numbers I would go, the harder it is to find one word that can apply to all four suits, at least with the Rider-Waite pictures. And I don’t think it’s fair to say something like, “Okay, the keyword for two.” And then you give four keywords, one that goes with each card. That’s not a keyword for two that’s keywords for those cards. And I couldn’t find a good number system that even when I look at Pythagorean number system, once you get past five, it all gets crazy. And so I’ve been always dissatisfied with the Rider-Waite number systems, and at least the way we use it moderately, because I understand it goes back to Golden Dawn, but that’s far away from the way we teach it now. 

And so, what I’m really excited about with the thought is that I’m hoping for a [suffer of] means what it means. And that’s what the number means. And that’s going to apply to all four of the cards, but then I started doing a little chart because I wanted to make sure that that works and is true. And I’m like, but how can these seem so disparate? They don’t seem connected at all. It’s still chaos and confusion. And then I read or heard somewhere that it’s easier to do that with the upper numbers, because the further down the tree of life you go, the more differentiated everything becomes. That blew my mind. That is like, now I understand why sometimes the six is definitely sevens, eights, nines, and 10s can be really difficult to pigeonhole with one word because it fits all four suits, because they become so differentiated. So what I’m looking for from the thought is a structure that makes sense. There’s no arbitrariness in it, because I feel like if I’m going to turn to something for a guidance, I want it to be-

Andrew: What are you giving up? [inaudible].

Barbara: Giving up… If I’m going to give up some of… I was going to say free will, but I sat myself because that isn’t what it is at all, but give up part of my brain space where I take in, no that’s bullshit. Well I guess if I’m going to give up some of my free will to a deck of cards it better well have a good system to it. 

Andrew: Yeah. I think it’s a fascinating point, right? Number one, we’ll go back and talk with the numbers and whatever I have stuff I could say about that, but I think that this idea of giving up, right? Or giving up free will, I mean, in the Orisha traditions, right? Theresa speak and we don’t need to abdicate our power and our consciousness, but we’re also intended to listen, right? And there is a degree of, well accepting that they know more, right? And that is really hard for people. It’s really hard for Western people, especially, it’s probably hard for people everywhere, to some extent, but it’s really difficult, right? Because it requires some sense of faith, right? And one of the things that I appreciate to kind of pull a couple of points together you were talking about, is that for me, that’s sort of having a good understanding of the theology and the sort of universal model of a receptionist, right?

It is a model of everything, right? There’s nothing that falls outside of it. And it’s also something that I appreciate about the tarot system, right? I mean, there are problematic pieces with it. There are pieces that deviate from history, right? I mean, if we’re talking about Western Kabbalah versus Judaic Kabbalah, there are different things. But I think that more than any other sort of system that I’ve run into it and certainly in the cards, it comes through this way, it is a theory of everything, right? And while we can apply tarot to everything, it’s applicable to everything, but it’s not a theory of everything, if that makes sense as a distinction. But if we’re going to accept that we’re going to work within a structure, it does require us to yield something, right? Is it freewill? Is it not? We could say it requires us to accept our discerning that we believe this to be true maybe, right? But that in and of itself sort of speaks to the need to be coherent in our approach to it, to fully understand it, right? So, yeah. 

Barbara: Were you going to say things about the numbers. 

Andrew: I will say somethings about the numbers. Number one, I think that keywords is a questionable practice in my experience, right? Not that it doesn’t work, but I think that it is a learning tool versus a thing that’s actually longer term inherently helpful unto itself, right? And I think that a lot of people that I have had conversations with sort of arrive at keywords and stay at keywords when I think it’s more like running drills than it is playing the game, right? But I think that if we’re going to talk about the Tough deck and sort of thinking about that, right. There are these four worlds, right? At the top world, we have this sort of undifferentiated archetypal idea. And I think that keywords make tons of sense there when we drift down through these four worlds and we’re living on this plane or whatever we want to call it, that lower level I think that the complexities of matter and motion aren’t helpful necessarily to have a singular word for it and that to some extent the whole…

<outro music>

Andrew: So I hope you enjoyed that episode. I was digging around looking at what was happening with the podcast as I was getting ready to relaunch and I realized that I’ve been doing these podcasts episodes for 10 years now, which struck me as a really long time. And there are including this one now, 116 episodes for you to listen to. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And I really would love it if you can consider doing some or all of the following things: please lend some support to the podcast through Buy Me a Coffee or through the direct links in my bio. And certainly share this everywhere. It’s harder and harder in these digital spaces to kind of get your message out. And the algorithms tend to work against sharing things like this when you are the creator. So do me a favor, share it somewhere.

You can repost it, you can share it to your stories. You can tell your friends about it. All of that helps me continue to move this ahead and share what I think is a great body of work that I think we really need these days. Not something that’s 15 or 30 seconds long, but a long, deep and thoughtful conversation with some people who’ve been really digging in and doing a lot of work to become an expert in their fields. So thanks again. I will be back next week and every week for the following five weeks for this first season of 2021.

Spread the word. Share this post!