LadyCristobel's Blog

Tarot readings and tarot parties

Archive for October, 2009

80 million people can’t be wrong

Posted by LadyCristobel on October 27, 2009

Below is a news story that I have distributed to the press today:

Devils, magic, death, heaven and hell all feature in Victorian tarot cards, the same symbolism as for Hallowe’en

The walking dead, black magic, monsters, and anything occult are familiar images of Halloween. One hundred years ago this month a young designer called Pixie put the finishing touches on 80 beautiful, yet some say sinister, illustrations that were to become the famous Arthur Waite Tarot Cards.

Her images were rooted in the same Halloween mythology. Nearly 80 million decks of these cards have been sold yet she herself never received financial recognition or critical acclaim for its sensational appeal and longevity.

‘Pixie took the design commission from her friend and esoteric scholar Dr Arthur Edward Waite,’ says Aberdeen-based medieval re-enactor and tarot reader, Shirley Muir, ‘She meticulously researched, planned and designed 80 beautiful illustrations with great application, intricate skill, historical knowledge, and layers of embedded religious, alchemical and occult symbolism.

‘The result was a deck of stunning and colourful tarot cards, published in December1909, and still available today through high street booksellers and specialist shops.’

History tells us that Dr Waite paid Colman Smith a very small amount of money for her efforts – we don’t know how much, but she apparently said she was short of cash very soon afterwards. And she never became rich.

The Christian connections of heaven and hell and the devil and magic are as real at Halloween as they are in these cards. Colman Smith’s tarot deck of cards includes The Devil, The Magician, the Hanged Man, the High Priestess, the Last Judgement, and other powerful images. These cards have been used as ominous metaphors to great effect in films, such as Bond film Live and Let Die, The Exorcist 3, Scoop and were featured on TV recently in Coronation Street.

Until 1909 most tarot decks had to be imported from France, because tarot card games were popular on the continent of Europe, but not in the UK. In the UK the cards were more and more being used by dabblers in the occult and so they attracted the sinister connotations they have today.

Colman Smith’s tarot cards coincided with an early 20th century upsurge in interest in the occult and spirituality, producing a demand for tarot decks. During the Victorian era interest in mysticism and the occult had flourished, and pastimes such as fortune-telling, consulting psychics, tarot, magic, and spiritual healing had found thousands of new followers.

The Rider-Waite deck has sold astonishingly well over the past century and it is acknowledged as the most influential tarot deck of the last 100 years.

‘I am interested in medieval history,’ says Shirley, ‘and am actively involved in medieval re-enactment to bring the 15th century alive. As a maker of medieval costumes myself, I am impressed with Colman Smith’s attention to historic detail – the rich, flowing gowns made from heavy, elaborately patterned fabrics, the court cards with kings and queens in truly regal costumes and settings, and even the armour worn by the knights on horseback. All has been well researched and is a fairly accurate representation of fifteenth century life.

’And her representations of the devil and of the grim reaper who is on the Death card are truly spine-chilling.’

A hundred years on tarot itself is again seeing another resurgence. There are thousands of different tarot decks of cards now on the market* – for fortune-telling or game-playing – angel cards, dragon cards, lovers’ cards, Shakespeare cards, cat cards, Australian animal cards, Baseball tarot, and there is even a Halloween deck of tarot cards.

In the UK, as the Christian churches see fewer and fewer members in their congregation, and scientific progress – like evolutionary theory – casts real doubt on literal interpretation of the scriptures, people are turning more and more to New Age mysticism to find modern ways of managing the conflicts and dilemmas of daily life in the 21st century.

‘Perhaps the global recession is fuelling people’s need for guidance and a peek into the future,’ says Shirley, ‘but there is certainly a lot of interest in self-awareness, spiritual healing, psychic powers, and complementary medicine and therapies, as well as tarot.

‘Tarot is not magic, it’s not occult, but it’s an interesting and fascinating pastime,’ says Shirley, who is herself a successful tarot card reader called Lady Cristobel.

Tarot parties are becoming popular, where ladies get together in groups and have a night in – and everyone has a reading done. It’s a different girlie evening – an unusual girlie night or a hen night, and there is always a frisson of expectation when the tarot cards are dealt and the person sees what ‘the future holds’.

‘One thing Is for sure – if you draw the Death card it certainly does not mean you’re going to die. It’s much more exciting than that.’


Posted in art, botticelli, celebration, counselling, design, medieval costume, Pamela ColmanSmith, parties, riderwaite, Tarot, Tarot party, Tarot spread, the three graces, wealth | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Three Graces enjoy their Tarot role

Posted by LadyCristobel on October 24, 2009

I was delighted and amazed to discover the artistic connection between Pixie’s three of cups tarot card and Botticelli’s The Three Graces, thanks to

What a clever way to invoke friends, happiness and enjoying life with a truly a classical connection.

Tarot card pictures are copyright of US Games Inc

Posted in art, botticelli, celebration, design, enjoyment, happiness, the three graces, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Appreciating Pamela Colman-Smith’s tarot deck

Posted by LadyCristobel on October 23, 2009

Today I have enjoyed whiling away some considerable time looking at the work of Pixie, as I discover Pamela Colman-Smith was called. I have read that more than 78 million decks of her Rider-Waite tarot cards have been sold worldwide since she designed them in 1909.

What a centenary this is! What a fantastic success! But we must remember Pixie died in 1951 penniless, and her possessions were auctioned off to pay her debts. How sad.

But I would like to imagine how happy she would have been to have the admiration of so many people so many years later, and to be appreciated as the creative free spirit that she must have been. Of course now I must research her life in more detail, and find out about this intelligent, artistic lady.

Pamela Colman-Smiths king and nine of pentacles tarot cards

Pamela Colman-Smiths king and nine of pentacles tarot cards

As a medieval re-enactor, I am impressed with the attention to detail in the medieval costumes that her characters are wearing. Most of them wear headgear, as no-one went bare-headed in the 15th century. Her fabrics are colourful and her costumes are accurately portrayed, complete with dagged sleeves, generous fabric, often trailing along the ground to show off their riches, and lined in contrasting material.

The hawking lady is even wearing a hawking glove and the bird is hooded, as it would have been when not being flown.  Perhaps the king of pentacles has made his money as a wine merchant, because his cloak is made from a heavy colourful fabric patterned with grapes and vines?

Tarot card pictures are copyright of US Games Inc

Posted in design, medieval costume, Pamela ColmanSmith, riderwaite, Uncategorized, wealth | Leave a Comment »

Centenary celebration for Colman-Smith deck

Posted by LadyCristobel on October 23, 2009

I was delighted to see today in the TABI newsletter that a beautiful presentation set of cards and books has been produced to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Pamela Colman-Smith’s art nouveau and striking tarot deck.

artist of the Rider Waite tarot deck in 1909 Pamela Colman-Smith

artist of the Rider Waite tarot deck in 1909 Pamela Colman-Smith

The Rider-Waite deck designed by ‘Pixie’ Colman-Smith is my favourite and the one I use for all my readings. She was indeed a talented and productive artist, even though she achieved modest success during her lifetime, and left only debts when she died in 1951.

I look forward to reading her biography and finding out more about this much-travelled and bohemian free spirit. She would indeed be proud that she designed the most well-known 78-card tarot deck ever, that is so popular 100 years later – and nearly 60 years after her death.

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Fascinating – the Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Posted by LadyCristobel on October 22, 2009

As a medieval re-enactor I was fascinated and delighted to find a deck of tarot cards that featured medieval scenes and people just like the ones we represent when we re-enact for the public. The deck shows kings, queens, pages, nuns, priests, workers, architects, paupers, pages, families and children.

The medieval costumes are from the 15th century and they are accurately painted and shown in designer Pamela Colman-Smith’s beautiful cards.

Ms Smith produced, under the direction of A E Waite, the most popular 78-card tarot deck in the world, but she never knew it. She died penniless in 1951, exactly 6 days before I was born.

When I read that, I felt some affinity for the lady. Perhaps her funeral was held the day I arrived in the world?

She was talented and yet not overly successful during her life. I would love to meet her; maybe I will in the after-world.

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another successful Tarot party

Posted by LadyCristobel on October 22, 2009

Another group of ladies invited me to host a little Tarot evening for them this week. We talked briefly about what Tarot is about – it’s NOT black magic – and how people find it helps them to consider their options and sometimes choose a path when they have been agonising over what to do next.

My readings are done using the Rider-Waite tarot deck, designed in 1912 by Pamela Colman-Smith. It is the world’s most popular 78-card Tarot deck.

One lady asked about the cards, their designs, what I thought of them as a Christian, why I used 7 cards in my initial ‘spread’, and what the position on the table of each card signified. She wanted to know about every aspect of the reading.

Each reading is carried out in private and each client makes her own choice to interact with me during the reading or to remain quiet throughout the reading and perhaps ask questions at the end.

One lady asked no questions at all but at the end when I gently enquired if she could relate to the contents of the reading I had just given, she said, ‘yes, every single card’. She didn’t tell me why or how or what was going on in her life, but she was very satisifed with the outcome of her reading.

Other clients will ask about the significance of one or more cards in the reading and we can choose extra cards to shed more light on what those cards might mean. The client may point to a card and say ‘that must be my mother’ or ‘that is the diificulty I have been experiencing with my boss’. Only the client knows the real truth about how the reading relates to her life and her choices.

The whole process of shuffling the deck, laying the cards out, explaining the meanings of the cards in the 7-card spread and gently enquiring about any questions the client might have is a exciting and absorbing on – all this makes for a unique and enlightening reading for every single client.

The tarot reading session is different and exciting for each person. You will feel empowered and in control.

Try it.  or send me a comment below.

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Typical Tarot party programme

Posted by LadyCristobel on October 22, 2009

A typical Tarot pary runs like this

– guests assemble, chat and have drinks

– Tarot reader arrives and is introduced by the host

– Tarot reader sets up her private card reading area and prepares herself

– Tarot reader goes back and talks with guests – explains about the cards, what they can and can’t do, and how the evening will proceed

– reader asks guests about previous Tarot experiences, to gauge any apprehension or worry

– guests ask questions about the readings, the cards, the reader and what to expect

– Tarot reader takes up her place in the private area

– guests visit the reader one by one for a 20-30 minute reading, depending on how many are at the party

– after the final reading, the reader returns to the guests and chats about how they felt about the evening, if they have any additional questions, and gives business cards to the ladies for their friends and family who may also be interested.

And as to the reading itself, here is more information

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