Struggling Lovers

Civil Rights, Art, and Tarot together at the Seattle Art Museum

They say the Lovers card is about choice, which means it is equally about consequence. That often overlooked corollary of this tarot card is, for me, the central take-away from Robert Colescott’s paintings currently on exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. (The exhibit, Figuring Historyruns until Sunday, May 13th 2018). Thanks to Colescott, the American struggle for civil rights will forever more inform my understanding of the Lovers card, and vice-versa.

A Visual Parallel

Because of the composition, the connection is most obvious in Natural Rhythm: Thank you Jan Van Eyck, from 1976 (below, left).

Riffing off the iconic 15th century painting by Hans Van Eyck, Colescott seems to say: Here’s a marriage to consider: Black and White in America. How do you like me now? With a single visual change – the skin tone of the female figure – Colescott opens a door from this composition to the struggle for civil rights in America. SAM’s Modern art curator, Catharina Manchande, says: “Changing the woman’s skin color to black raises issues about power dynamics, gender, and race.” I’ll say. That this is done so effectively in a visual language is the hallmark of a good artistic encounter. It feels similar to that “aha” moment in a good tarot reading. (The contrasting tarot image above is from the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative tarot deck).

A tarot aside: Clients tend to give happy cheers when the Lovers card turns up in tarot readings. This isn’t a happy romantic card, I explain. It is about commitment, for better and for worse. Richer and poorer. Oppressing and oppressed. Choice and consequence. Still, clients express a flush of victory — it will be different for us!

Back to SAM

The first parallel I notice with the Lovers card is in the 1969 painting, Night and Day, You Are the One (below, left), which is displayed on the 2nd floor of the museum, before the larger exhibit upstairs.

Here the figures are two women and a child, reminiscent of the Lovers card from the 18th century Marseilles deck (right). (Colescott’s detail is difficult to see in my snapshot, especially since so much of this painting is affected by the texture. Go see the real thing if you can.) The child completes the triad typical in the Lovers card: two humans and one spirit. The male figure from the Marseilles card (omitted in later versions of the Tarot), is us — the viewers — looking in. The traditional tarot interpretation says that this man is in the position to choose between two desirable opposites. And while everything about the two female figures seems incongruous in Colescott’s painting, the women are connected like night and day. How can we move forward without fearing each other? How can we both exist, with equal stature, on the same canvas? How can we be equally revered by the viewer, and by one-another?

Almost too much to take

The final piece that screams Lovers to me is almost too powerful for me to be near for more than a few minutes at a time. I return to this room several times, trying not to overhear the incredibly personal reactions being shared in the crowd. The painting is: A Cruise to Southern Waters, 1988.

Colescott cruise 1988What slays me about this painting is how it incorporates the issue of aging – another inevitable aspect of the Lovers card that tends to fall into the shadows. The reading glasses! The dentures! Lust and death! Imagine this image turning up in a tarot reading about your romantic future. Would you cheer?


Surrounded by Colescott’s work, I feel The Lovers in terms of struggle, longevity, and the impossibility of ever escaping history. I feel different tarot connections in the works of Kerry James Marshall and Mikaline Thomas, the two other artists in the Figuring History exhibit. Do you see tarot in their works? Share your associations below.


If you enjoy seeing tarot in the world around you, please check out my Instagram feed.


Tarot Workout: A Longing Heart

My Tarot Workouts are based on real-life readings, minus the identifying details. Add them to your Sunday puzzle routine! If you want even more exercise, search for “Tarot Workouts” on my blog.

A Longing Heart

‘Candace’ asks, “Will I ever reunite with my ex?” You design a simple 4-card spread, which loosely mirrors the center of the Celtic Cross:

4 card visual alternate cropped

CARD 1 (Overall energy between them): Knight of Wands, reversed
CARD 2 (Opportunity for better or worse): 10 of Wands
CARD 3 (What direction are they headed?): Death
CARD 4 (Lesson from the universe): Queen of Wands

Using the Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot, you draw the following cards, placed all upright here for you to see clearly:


What do you say to Candace?

Continue reading “Tarot Workout: A Longing Heart”

Temperance: Patience on Steroids

Version 3Tarot’s Temperance card has been showing up a lot in my readings lately.

I mostly read for other people, so my hunch is that Temperance energy is in the air — or perhaps should be. Because Temperance is generally one of the more difficult cards for me to articulate, I also wonder if my deck isn’t giving me a kick in the pants, saying, “Figure it out. Write a post, already.”

Temperance. A poised angel. Gorgeous wings. A halo that matches the promising sunrise in the distance. This tends to be one of the prettiest cards in the deck. And like many unusually pretty people, this card is easily misunderstood.

It is too easy to sell this card short by equating it with ‘patience.’ Being told to have patience is like being told to suck it up. Control your desires now and someone else will give you what they think you need when they are good and ready. But a patient stance doesn’t have to be a passive one. In fact, you can bring all your force and moxie to a situation and still be patient, as long as you strategically mix in the element of time. Patience on steroids.

Version 3Aleister Crowley likened Temperance to alchemy — the art of turning lead into gold or, more generally, of creating something that is greater than the sum of its parts. In his deck, Temperance is called “Art,” and is not passive at all. Rather than being placed in a bucolic scene, his angel is flanked by creepy creatures and is clearly in the midst of making a witch’s brew. Like witchcraft, the action here is both process- and outcome-oriented. One dark arm and one light arm (and two faces, as well), remind us to honor both the dark and light sides of ourselves as we make something out of the world around us.

Temperance Dreaming Way TarotAnd what a world is around this lady! Numerically, she’s sandwiched in between the Death and the Devil, with the promise of the Tower just ahead. She better keep her cool and gather her resources if she wants to survive. She is the calm at the eye of the tarot storm. However, in another ordering of the Major Arcana suit, Temperance rules the element of Water. While water has the power to buffet, infuse, undercut and overwhelm its subjects, Temperance has mastery over it. She can pour the liquid from jug to jug slowly, even sideways, hardly even looking at it.

When I got this in the center of a love reading recently, surrounded by pip cards that looked tumultuous and challenging, I said: “This relationship requires you to navigate emotional forces without losing control. You’re the mature one here — or, you are learning to be.”

As a ‘highest potential’ card in a birthday reading, Temperance says: “You are moving up a notch in your ability to take command of your life, rather than simply coping with things as they happen to you.”

In the business reading: “Play the long game.”

None of these interpretations says: “sit down and be patient.”


Tarot is more than a deck of cards. It is a way to examine the world and the choices we face. It is a tool for strengthening intuition and finding one’s inner voice. If you are interested in studying tarot with me, contact me to let me know!


The cards shown here, from top to bottom, are from the following tarot decks: Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Deck, the Thoth Tarot Deck by Crowley and Harris, and the Dreaming Way Tarot.


Examine the Water You Swim In with Tarot Cards

In tarot algebra, the Suit of Cups = the Element of Water = Human Emotion. Multiply your Cups by the numerological values of 1 through 10, and voilà! …you have a definition for each Cup card.

As in life, what makes sense logically in tarot is often a far cry from the full picture. I made a leap in my own understanding of the Suit of Cups when I realized that these 10 pip cards are less about cups per se, and more about the mood-altering liquid inside.

To convey feeling over words, I’ve had some fun dressing up my cards (with the help of Pamela Colman Smith of Rider-Waite fame). May this entertain you and further enhance your understanding of the Suit of Cups!

xoxo – Yetta




Version 2


Learn tarot with me! Check out my Tarot Salon if you are in the Seattle area. Or simply contact me for a reading if that’s more up your alley. I wish you the 10 of Cups and much more!


Presidential Portraits and the Tarot

You had me at “archetype,” Amy Sherald.

Michelle Obama High Priestess

After watching the unveiling ceremony of the Obama presidential portraits for the third time, I have to sit down and record my tarot-based impressions.

In tarot, the Major Arcana cards are known as archetypes, and the one that most closely matches Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama is the High Priestess. The High Priestess is: Purity of intention. Universal integrity. Eternal presence. No nonsense. The High Priestess also happens to be Michelle’s tarot birth card*.

Version 2In accordance with the character of a High Priestess, Michelle was not interested in having a portrait be all about her. Instead, she chose an artist who, in her own words and by their contract, made something “bigger, more symbolic… an archetype.”

For the comparison, I bring out the High Priestess from the iconic Rider Waite tarot deck of c. 1910. The otherworldly teal in the background of Sherald’s work is the same color that is so prevalent in this tarot card. Tarot artists often paint themselves into their decks, and I suspect that the face on this card is that of its creator, Pamela Colman Smith. (Also an artist of color, by the way).

Barack Obama Papa Coin

As for Kahinde Wiley’s portrait of the president…

I see it matching a Court Card rather than a Major Arcana archetype. It’s not that Obama isn’t capable of encompassing archetypal energy, but his desire for this portrait, as he explained in the ceremony, was to “take it down just a touch.” Though Obama didn’t knowingly speak in tarot terms, he did get a laugh by making the point that he did not want to be portrayed as an Emperor. “I have enough political problems,” he said, “without you making me look like Napoleon.”

(The Emperor, by the way, is Major Arcana card number 4, which is Donald Trump’s birth card by the numbers. If you want to go back to a juicy prediction about this figure in American politics, check out my post from August 2016).

King of Pentacles RWSI digress. Back to today… “Down just a touch” in tarot takes you to the Court Cards, and the one jumping out as a match for Obama is the King of Pentacles (shown above as “Papa Coin” in my favorite new deck, Dust II Onyx). In the Rider Waite tarot deck, this king also has vines and leaves encroaching on his throne. He is the provider king, the one who makes sure that everyone has what they need to eat and stay warm. He understands that it would be ridiculous to tend only to the showiest flowers in this garden. The soil, the seeds, the shoots, and the critters all need to be nurtured first in his ecosystem. “Politics should be about not simply celebrating the high and the mighty and expecting that it unfolds from the top down,” Obama recounted about his conversations with Wiley, “but rather, that [power] comes from the bottom up.” The King of Pentacles is enormously powerful, but he distributes his power with a steady and fair hand.

Speaking of hands, have you noticed how HUGE they are in Wiley’s portrait? Nice touch! One more reason to thank the artist.

Version 4

*A footnote about numerology and birth cards:

A tarot birth card is determined by your birthdate. Add the day, month and year together, then continue to add the digits until you have a number or numbers smaller than 21 (the number of the highest card in the Major Arcana suit). Amazingly, Michelle and Barack Obama’s two birthdates reduce to exactly the same tarot cards. To find out about that, and to identify your own birth card, use this online calculator.

I am off to Tarot Tuesday and Taproot Cafe & Bar. Thanks for reading, Tarot friends. Please share this with others and follow my blog. xoxo


Business Advice for the Metaphysical Practitioner

Chakra to-do listEvery self-employed person I know struggles to get structure into their workday. It can be even harder for the metaphysically inclined, because at the same time we try to get stuff done, we want to maintain a balanced energy system. To keep myself going as a professional tarot reader, I categorize my to-do list according to the 7 chakras. At any given time, I try to have something to engage each chakra. For instance:

Version 21st Chakra – Something Grounding

Start your day with 15 minutes of grounding introspection. Then, rather than have it hang over your head, let some of your home life into the workday. Garden, walk the dog, get groceries, exercise. File when you need to. Tidy your work place. Walk barefoot.

2nd Chakra – Something Rigorous

This creative chakra makes things happen. Make something with your hands. Deliver your product to your client. Put up flyers or do other outreach. Make nervy cold calls. Do something you can’t be shy about to push your intention outward.

3rd Chakra – Something Fun

Third chakra joy is the kind that makes you feel great about yourself. It’s playful and delicious. Hop on the bike to visit a gallery as fodder for an essay. Have lunch with a friend. Identify your favorite work activity and schedule it to recur multiple times this year. (I’ve done this with the Tarot Salon and Tarot Tuesdays).

Rider Waite Smith 4 of Wands4th Chakra – Something Interactive

This chakra reminds you to connect to your community. Do something for someone else’s good. Allow generosity into your day, and accept it when it is offered to you. Do a free reading. Donate an auction item. Contact a local business with a partnership idea. Respond positively when someone reaches out to you.

5th Chakra – Something Vocal

The keyboard is a tyrant! If you work from home, make sure you speak with someone about work every day. Blogging and posting to social media are poor substitutes, but if that’s what you’ve got, read your words aloud before hitting ‘send.’ Feel the sensation of saying what you mean.

Version 26th Chakra – Something Intuitive

If this is your craft, tarot reader, you are in luck. Get a reading in every day. Offer short, free readings if your client base is small – these are like weight lifting for intuitives. Schedule time to daydream and journal about the direction you want your business to go. Act on your intuition.

7th Chakra – Something Inspired

Meditation is where the 7th and 1st chakras meet. Write down your dreams. Quiet your mind so that you can converse with your subconscious. List your gratitudes. Study the work of a mentor. Let your 7th chakra take you somewhere unexpected.

Well, according to my own rules, this blog post is a poor substitute for 5th Chakra vocalizing, so I should wrap it up. I’ll read it aloud, then do some 3rd chakra play to find matching images. Luckily, I have an event with readings tonight, giving me the 4th and 6th chakra action I need. I can feel and see that I’ve neglected chakras 1, 2, and 7, which is something of a pattern for me. Luckily, my boss is pretty forgiving. And there’s still time for a rigorous walk before I have to head out.

If thinking of your to-do list in this way is helpful to you, huzzah! I’d love to hear your tips for me.

(pictured above: a Present Day Tarot to-do list color coded by chakra; the Ace of Pentacles from the Light and Shadow Tarot deck; 4 of Wands from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck; The High Priestess from Tarot del Fuego).


Liebster Award

liebsterThank you, Louise-in-btween, for nominating me for a Liebster (small blogger) Award. Louise and I once worked in the same building and saw each other all the time. Years have passed since then, but I’ve gotten to know so much more about her through her blog. If you’re into hiking, cycling, and poetic introspection, I highly recommend Louise-in-btween.

The Liebster Award is given by a blogger to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, with an aim to help others discover and spot new, amazing bloggers.

Louise asked me several questions as part of this nomination. Here’s our Q&A:

Louise-in-btween: If you could be any animal, what would you choose?

CCF04092014_00001 copyYetta Snow: I am a horseshoe crab. It’s already decided. When I was growing up on the Eastern Seaboard, we called them “dinosaur crabs.” I once had a marvelous dream of talking to one through a dixie-cup walkie-talkie, and I’ve been enamored ever since. Horseshoe crabs would make good tarot readers. They have thousands of eyes that become wildly powerful during a full moon. (This pic is a tarot card I made to represent my archetypal inner crab).

13061915_1359126837434529_5398939659237312328_nLIB: How did you choose the name of your blog?

YS: It’s the same as the name of my Business, Present Day Tarot. It says upfront that I am not a fortune teller. The best way to discover your future is to truly understand your present. And as it turns out, tarot is a wonderful and magical tool to help you do that. (This pic is the Queen of Cups from the Golden Tarot by Kat Black)

LIB: Tell me about an experience or person who shaped your life for the better. 

YS: I saw a Reiki healer about 20 years ago named Marie Manuchehri. She’s a well-known public figure and energy healer nowadays, though at the time she was simply a young entrepreneur working hard to manage a busy life. She’s outrageously multi-sensory. She told me my doctor’s secrets, spoke to my cervix, communed with my mother’s soul, and flipped my whole concept of the world upside down. I have followed her and studied with her since then, and credit her influence in many of the bolder decisions I’ve made in my adult life.

LIB: What is your favorite blog post that you have written (link to it please)?

envy-2YS: I am fond of a post called Lies, which was inspired by the airport protests of the first Travel Ban in 2017. I also really like some of the political predictions I was ballsy enough to publish early on, but you’ll have to dig for those. (This pic is from Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel).


LIB: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

img_6710YS: I am currently part of a collective superpower known as the Resist Movement. But I also know that when I work really hard to resist something, I run the risk of attracting it to me and, consequently, giving it life. So I’ve begun to favor the term Counteract. I would like this to be a new superpower in our collective consciousness. To Counteract is to speak up, organize, and energize in accordance with what is true and good. (This pic is from a series I made for my Txrot Womxn’s March 2017).

LIB: Name one thing that you want to do or accomplish in 2018.

YS: I understand I get to nominate someone for a Liebster Award! I nominate DoulaJane as a new blog to watch.


I’ve bent the rules of the game a bit in this post, but for the record, this is what is asked of Leibster Award nominees:

  • Acknowledges the blog that nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers.
  • Ask them 11 questions.
  • Let them know you have nominated them.

My questions for Doula Jane are:

  1. What do you love?
  2. How does your blog reflect that?
  3. How do your life and work intersect?
  4. What do you enjoy doing that is unrelated to your work?
  5. What is your primary element (earth, water, air or fire)?
  6. What other 6 questions would you like to be asked?

Many thanks again to Louise-in-Btween for bringing me into this game, and to the initiator of the Liebster Awards, wherever you may be in the world.