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The song in English:

Fashion is constantly changing
But as long as the world exists
The Gypsy with an old pack of cards
Will have at least one client…
Someone longing for bizarre miracles
Will knock on her door
And she will lay out in front of him
Those noble kings of hers…
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this -
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this -
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future

Card-reading can foretell happiness
Or an unexpected blow of fate
Imprisonment and a long journey
Or everlasting faithful love…
Old cards will spread out like a fan
On a shawl decorated with fringe
And suddenly the Gypsy herself
Will believe her noble kings…
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this -
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this -
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future.

Time destroys granite castles
And covers towns with sand
But years don’t mean anything
For those cards in the Gypsy’s hands…
The heart melts as the fortune-teller speaks
And at all the crossroads of the world
The noble kings are telling lies
With the same expression on their faces…
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this -
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future
What can I say? What can I say?
All humans are just like this -
They want to know, want to know
Want to know the future.

Translation from around-lyrics.com.

Didn’t think it could get any better? Watch this version:

A tarot deck was created for the 1998 movie Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. You can get a reading with it here (warning: an old form of flash is used and may not work on many computers). See a selection of the cards in this fan video:

According to the trailer, the new movie Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows features a tarot card reader and an original Oswald Wirth tarot deck. (Thanks to Shelley for the heads-up.) Obviously Wirth and Holmes never meet, but wouldn’t that make a great story!!! For those who were blown away by Noomi Rapace as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version), she is playing the gypsy fortune teller. I’m looking forward to seeing her in a different role. Check out Oswald Wirth’s tarot spread—a reclaimed classic.

Danish tarot collector and author, K. Frank Jensen shared with me the story of how an original Oswald Wirth deck came to be used in the movie:

“In August 2010, a British woman, Laura Tarrant-Brown, addressed a number of members of the ‘International Playing Card Society’, including me, about buying or hiring ‘the original full set of Tarot cards that Oswald Wirth re-drew for his master, Guaita Stanishas in 1889′. It should be used ‘in a film set in Paris/London 1890′. An alternative could be the 1926/27 version of Wirth’s images. Tarrant-Brown did, of course, not have any response on this enquiry except from me. As far as I know, only two decks are known, one in the possession of a Japanese collector (formerly from the R.C.Bell collection of games); the other belonged to the late Belgian collector, Hans Wesseling, whose widow wanted it sold. Guido Gillabel, likewise Belgian collector, took care of the sale. At the time of Tarrant-Brown’s request Gillabel was preparing listing the decks on ebay. I was aware that the Wirth deck was among them so I asked Gillabel if he wanted to sell the deck directly and at what price? Wesseling’s widow wanted EUR 1200.- for it. I would have liked to buy it myself, but don’t just have EUR 1200.- available here and now, and Tarrant-Brown didn’t hesitate. That’s how the deck ended up in the film, and I have been annoyed ever after that I didn’t just buy the deck.

“Tarrant-Brown couldn’t really accept that the 22 cards were a full set, even if I told her so twice. She wanted to search further for ‘the missing 56 cards’, likely mislead by the so-called “Oswald Wirth Tarot – The Original and only authorized Oswald Wirth Tarot Deck” published by USGS (1976). Wirth worked only with the majors, and USGS’s deck has nothing whatsoever to do with the original Wirth illustrations. (The 22 Major Arcana cards of the USGS edition are illustrated by a Michél Simeon. The booklet that comes with the deck states however, that the majors are “as designed by Wirth” while the minors are “newly created”.)

“Tarrant-Brown was not very communicative and later she told me that the film was a Sherlock Holmes production but didn’t answer my question whether Wirth and Guaita are characters in the film. She likewise never answered my question of what would happen to the deck once the film was finished.

“Now I am at it: I’ve been working on a handcoloured Wirth deck. The line art are redrawings of Wirth’s illustrations by a probably German artist, the colours are based upon the pack in the Japanese collection.  It will be a very limited edition. Three decks are finished and disposed of. Further 6 or 7 copies are in work. There won’t be more than those due to the time-consuming work.” (Below: extremely limited edition, K. Frank Jensen hand-colored 1889 Oswald Wirth deck.)

Jeanne Fiorini asks a great question on her video “TarotWorks Tarot Tip #10″:

Do you use your tarot as you would the Emergency Room, or do you use your tarot the way you would the Health Food Store?

Think about this for a moment before you watch her video:

Jeanne is a tarot maven, with creations ranging from tarot wrapping paper to bags to books to instructional videos—all found at TarotWorks. In addition to her youtube videos you’ll find lots of helpful advice in her book Tarot Spreads and Layouts, especially as it relates to tarot for personal insight. In some ways, the title is a misnomer in that this short but pithy book contains far more in terms of sensible advice and good reading skills than you get in most other books. How often, as I read her text, I found myself thinking, “I wish I had said that!” To give myself credit, occasionally I have, as Jeanne is not reinventing the wheel but succinctly describing methods that take years to discover otherwise—in a no nonsense and elegantly easy-to-understand way. In a recent article in the American Tarot Association newsletter, Tarot Reflections, you can learn how Jeanne has integrated her studies of Psychosynthesis with her approach to Tarot.

The spreads and layouts comprise almost two-thirds of the book, and what is truly unique here isn’t just the layouts or the different number of cards or the range of issues (which we also get), but that we are given:

  • questions that will help us understand what a card means in a particular spread position,
  • things to consider about how the cards might relate to each other,
  • guidelines for expanding the layout,
  • helpful hints and reminders about intention, focus and attitude.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do you want to know how playing cards are actually made? Here are a series of videos that take you through the historical development of the major deck production techniques.

This video from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London shows how woodcut playing cards were created:

The Rider-Waite-Smith deck was produced by Lithography (technically chromolithography as several colors were involved). The process was similar to what’s shown here except with a really big stone, a big press, and a separate run for each color:

Cartamundi in Belgium, who have printed many modern tarot decks, demonstrate how they print their playing cards:

I really hesitated about including this video, as it breaks my heart, but, since so many tarot decks are now printed in China, I thought it important that we understand a little of what is involved in obtaining such cheap prices:

And for something a little more personal—

Check out these sites:

If you don’t want to design your own deck but like a bit of handwork and a deck that looks different and, in many cases, is more immediate in its impact, try cutting off the borders of one of your decks. Tarotforum has a page with pictures of hundreds of trimmed tarot decks—check out which ones work best here first. And, here’s a video by Donnaleigh on how to do it:

Heidi Kabel as Die Kartenlegerin

The German word for Cartomancer is Kartenlegerin. A YouTube search brings up two fascinating works. The first is the amazing singer/actor Heidi Kabel as the card reader in the made-for-TV play, Die Kartenlegerin (1968). A rough translation by Alexander Kurzwernhart of the reading is available in the Comments. One thing to note is the method of “counting cards,” which is a key cartomancy technique used when reading a layout of the whole deck (usually 32, 36 or 52 cards). One counts 5, 7 or 9 cards in any direction from the querent’s significator and from the significator of the ‘person of interest’. (It looks like she’s stabbing the cards with her finger.) Fast forward to Minute 6:00 to begin the reading.

Schumann’s – Die Kartenlegerin, Op.31 No.2

Robert Schumann (1810-1856) wrote this song in 1840 (based on a poem in French “Les cartes ou l’horoscope” by Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780-1857)), about a young girl stopping her sewing to quickly read her cards while her mother sleeps. Learn more about it here. The translation comes from the Lotte Lehmann League. You might want to listen to the music while you read the English lyrics.

Has mother finally fallen asleep
Over her book of sermons?
You, my needle, now lie still,
Stop this constant sewing.
I shall read the cards,
Oh, what things can I expect,
Oh, how will it all end?
If I am not deceived,
One, I think of, will appear,
Great, here he comes,
The knave of hearts knows his duty.
A rich widow? oh dear.
Yes, he woos her, I’m undone,
Oh! the wicked scoundrel.
Heartache and much vexation,
A school with restricting walls,
But the king of diamonds will take pity
And comfort me.
A nicely delivered present,
He elopes with me, a journey,
Money and happiness in abundance.
This king of diamonds
Must be a prince or king,
Which means that it won’t take much
For me to be a princess.
Here’s a foe, who strives to soil
My name before His Majesty,
And a fair-haired man stands by me.
A secret comes to light,
And I escape just in time,
Farewell, O life of splendor,
Ah, that was a cruel blow.
The one is gone, a crowd
Surges around me
That I can scarcely count them all.
What’s this?
A dumb female apparition,
A wheezing old woman coming my way,
To banish love and happiness
Before my youth has gone?
Ah, it’s mother, who’s woken up,
Opening wide her mouth to scold.
No, the cards never lie.

I’ve been busy recently doing a couple of interviews as well as my two-part webinar, and I wanted to make these links available.

Tarot Can Help Interview

I was thrilled to be asked recently to do an interview with Fiona Tankard from Italy. In return she offered to do a reading for me, which is included in the interview. After a couple of rough starts via Skype we had a really enjoyable talk. Then she discovered that her recording hadn’t worked. Luckily I was trying out my new iPad as a digit recorder and was able to send her the file. Ah, technology. Enjoy Fiona Tankard and myself at Tarot Can Help. Her reading for me really helped. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be on the receiving end of a reading and get direction about a big issue.

Tarot and Change Interview

I also did an interview with Andrew Kyle McGregor in Toronto for his blog, The Hermit’s Lamp. Andrew has been asking people about change and how we, as tarot readers, handle this with our tarot querents, and what our philosophy of change is. We had a really interesting conversation that you can find here.

And be sure to check out Andrew’s monthly podcast conversations with James Wells, available here, as well as Andrew’s other interviews on change with people such as Nancy Atenucci – here.

Webinar on Cartomancers

Don’t forget that you can still access the 2-part webinar that I did through Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies on “An Analysis of the Role of Cartomancers through Western Art.”  You get access to the webinar classroom where you can watch the PowerPt presentation and listen to the complete talk. The only thing you miss compared to being there ‘live’ is the opportunity to ask questions and the short after-class discussion and wind-up.

Yes/No Tarot iPad App

I was completely surprised to discover that a reading I designed for tarot.com has been turned into an app for the iPad called Yes/No Tarot (just out this month). The animated introductory scene is outstanding!—worth the price of the app for that alone. The Spread has been vastly simplified from the version available at tarot.com—the Yes or No Tarot Reading. In the App-version, you get the basic answer but the only details about the cards in the spread are a short comment for each Major Arcana (if any turned up in the reading). That’s disappointing since, in the on-line version, you also get an analysis of suits and what elements are missing from the spread. I guess the point of the app is that you get a quick answer and then can ask again (or from a different perspective) as much as you want. You can also save your answer to a journal. If you would, please leave a review or rating, as well as letting me know what you think here.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has listened to these interviews or talk and wants to continue the discussions we had there.

Now, I’m off to Readers Studio 2011.

ADDED: Check out Carrie Paris’ gorgeous new website, Learn Tarot and especially her interview with the Hierophant! My talk on “Death, Emperor and Fool”  for LETS can be viewed here.

Updated 7/18/11: See Mic update at the end and helpful recommendations in the Comments.

Imagine that a client comes to you for a premium reading. They spend an hour and a lot of money, but when they get home they can hardly remember a word of the deep wisdom and insights they just received. I like to trust that their subconscious is making use of it, but I know from experience the value that comes from reviewing a reading in depth. What to do?—No one uses audio cassettes anymore.

I got myself an iPad 2 and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve been waiting a year for the next generation and I’m thrilled to have it. One of my main intentions was to use it as a fancy digital recorder for tarot consultations. And by fancy, I mean FaNcY! Nothing else offers the bells and whistles this does [except the iPhone, which can do most of these things, too].

In one, relatively small package, you can record a reading, take notes on it, create an annotated sketch of a personalized layout, and include photos of the completed tarot spread and even of the grinning querent and reader. And, at the end of the session, you can instantly email the reading to clients so it’s waiting for them on their computer when they get home (or on their iPhone or iPad for their immediate viewing and listening pleasure). Talk about moving into the 21st century! Now, there can be a few glitches in this otherwise perfect scenario. Occasionally an app crashes. Audio files can get really big and cause problems with mail. And one app even caused my whole iPad to crash (boy, is that app going to get a thumbs down!). Additionally, you can’t email unless there’s a WiFi connection or you have G3, but even if you have to send the file later that’s hardly a deal breaker. Here’s a couple of apps that make the whole process irresistable.

Click for larger image

NOTABILITY – This app does it all and the new price of $2.99 is a still a steal. Since I originally wrote this post, Notability has been upgraded, and they added all the features I asked for (thank you very much!).

  1. Type notes such as the question or subject of the reading, aspects of the issue that could be the basis of a personalized spread, recommended resources. You can use a variety of fonts & colors and can indent to create outlines.
  2. Record the conversation. The audio recording will continue even while you perform other functions within the app and outside of it, and you can pause it.*
  3. Insert a photo of the actual spread. You can resize the image and move it on the page and now place images side-by-side.
  4. Create a sketch of the spread or layout (basic shapes included as well as freehand drawing and text). You can also draw on a photo to circle important symbols or lines of sight and emphasis. No other app that I know includes all these features.
  5. The Send options are excellent since you can mail as a zipped PDF + separate Audio file; or, to other Macs only as an RTFD (opens in TextEdit). It also works with Dropbox (cloud computing).

*If you are recording your own readings—talking to yourself as you look at a card or spread—this app can be fantastic. Just type a few keywords as you speak to indicate ideas you want to return to, then, when playing back the audio, if you tap on one of those keywords or phrases, the audio will jump forward or backward to that part of the recording! This would be a great way to journal the exercises in 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card!

AUDIO MEMOS 2 – Free for the basic app, which is adequate; pay for upgrades.

This is a professional level audio voice recorder. You won’t get the photos or the notes, but you will get great recordings even with only the built-in mic (either .wav or for smaller files – .aac). You can do button or voice activated recordings and you can pause and restart. You can also do some basic editing. When played back on Audio Memos it can jump to annotatable position markers that you set when recording. Unfortunately, the position markers don’t work if you playback via a different application. End the recording and email it in seconds (if you are net-connected) or save it to mail later. CONS: Photos and sketches have to be created in another app and sent separately; you can only mail up to 15mb and the best quality files are BIG. You should be able to record an hour on .aac setting. If you want .wav use the included timer and start a new recording when the file gets too big. You can export to Dropbox or Evernote.

GARAGEBAND - $4.99. I don’t use this myself as I find it overkill for simple recording, but others love it. Great editing features.

EVERNOTE – Free with limited space on its server; a monthly charge for more space.

This note-taking app saves everything on its own server, making it accessible to you from any computer or mobile. You can also give others access to some of your files. You can type, record and take a photo without leaving the app and it’s designed to easily insert webclips (like a spread from tarot.com). CONS: You can’t sketch; if you stop the recording you have to start a new one; the emailer crashed the app and froze my iPad! PROS: I discovered, after recording a Skype interview with someone in Italy, that I could transfer the giant AudioMemos .wav file to Evernote and then access it through my Evernote web account on my home computer and mail it via SendThisFile—problem solved.

Added: A MUST HAVE for Professional Tarot Readers who do face-to-face or phone readings is a Credit Card App (PayPal works well for internet consultations). A credit card app will work with both the iPhone and the iPad. It allows you to accept charges and the money is then deposited in your bank account (or a check can be mailed to you). The most handy and reasonable app, that has no hidden fees or monthly charges, is Square, which is perfect for those who only need to take credit cards occasionally. See recommendations in the Comments section by people who have used it.

There are other Notes+Audio apps that I haven’t checked out yet like AudioNote, SoundNote, Sundry Notes, ClassNotes, PaperDesk, some of which may be better if you prefer handwriting and sketching to typing. If anyone has any suggestions, please let us know in the comments. Added: My Notebook! app has all the functions I’ve recommended, including a great handwriting/sketching option—smooth & with the best arrangement for color choosing I’ve seen. But the interface is unnecessarily complicated and the free Lite version has quite a few limitations, like not being able to try out any of the many Send features.

And, of course, iPad/Phone comes with FaceTime, which, like Skype, gives you the option of face-to-face calls for readings at a distance. Read suggestions for Skype recording in the Comments.

UPDATED note on External Mics:

Under most circumstances the little mic in the iPad will do okay for face-to-face readings if you don’t mind the hollow tone and a bit of a lisp in your voice. Don’t speak directly into it.

If you want an external, portable mic, then I highly recommend the Samson Go Mic. It’s very small (though surprisingly heavy), clips onto your iPad or stands alone, and works with the iPad USB camera connector. You can also plug headphones directly into the mic. It’s good enough for podcasts-on-the-go, although a pop-filter helps for optimum sound when in uni-directional mode. This video review is very helpful for understanding the three sound settings and hearing it in action.

Some Blue USB Microphones work through the iPad USB camera connection kit. The Blue Yeti is supposed to be the best of its class (+/-$125) but requires a powered USB hub. The Snowball and Snowflake are cheaper, more portable and don’t require the powered hub, but the quality goes down. If you are doing podcasts then go with the Blue Yeti (I would). I understand Blue is working on more portable mic solutions for the iPad/Phone.


See the Comments for other great suggestions for recording, including internet video and audio recording via Skype and Conference Calls.

Wonderful tarot interpretation of Bono reading Charles Bukowski, with a tarot question at the end. Brought to us by Carrie Paris at thetalkingtarot.

Webinar: Mary K. Greer on “An Analysis of the Role of Cartomancers through Western Art” Part 2. This Thursday!! It’s okay if you missed Part 1 (or purchase the video recording).

Marie Aimme Eliane Lucas-Robiquet, Young Woman Drawing Cards - 1890

Sign-up here for the live “Webinar” through Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies program.

from the website:

“Bravo!”, “Thanks so much for organising this”, “Wonderful stuff – great to have the images”. These are just a few of the enthusiastic responses to the first of the two sessions from internationally-renowned Tarot author and teacher, Mary K. Greer. In these webinars, Mary takes us on an exploratory journey into the role of card readers over the centuries. Purchase access to the recording of the first session NOW and register to join the live audience for the second session on Thursday 7 April at 6pm US Pacific time. Only a few places left, so be quick!

Little is known about cartomancers before the 20th century: who were they, who were their clients, where did they practice, what decks were used? Written information is scarce beyond basic instruction books and accounts of Mlle. Lenormand, who was famous for doing predictive card readings for Napoleon and Josephine in the 19th century.

An historical record does exist in genre art that depicts ordinary people going about their everyday work and recreations. In this slide presentation and talk, Mary analyses the visual content of paintings, prints and postcards showing cartomancers from the 16th through early 20th century. She brings to light both the professional and recreational characteristics of those people who practised cartomancy and reveals their largely unseen and under-acknowledged role in everyday Western society.

It’s an empowering experience for card readers to see themselves as part of a long-lived profession that ultimately goes back to the oracles and diviners of ancient times.

Live webinar requirements

All you need to participate in live webinars is a broadband connection. Only 23 places are available in the room, so sign up now to participate in the live sessions where you have the opportunity to ask questions or make comments through the room’s text chat function. Depending on the number of participants, audio interaction may be possible. If so, this requires you to have a headset and mic plugged in before you login into the room.

The webinar will be recorded for later sale, and participants in the live sessions will have free access to recordings: here.

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Mary K. Greer has made tarot her life work. Check here for reports of goings-on in the world of tarot and cartomancy, articles on the history and practice of tarot, and materials on other cartomancy decks. Sorry, I no longer write reviews. Contact me HERE.

© 2007-2013, Mary K. Greer All material on this site is copyrighted. If you use anything, be sure to include my name and a link back to this site. Thank you.

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