Tarot in the Waiting Room

Present Day Tarot SpreadThe Surgery Pavilion waiting room at University Hospital is hopping.

I expected something heavy and morose, but instead there’s laughter and activity. Just one person from a group can accompany a patient to their room, leaving a large number of friends and family behind to comfort one another and pass the time.

I am here today for a friend, waiting with others for what is expected to be a long day of surgery. She disappeared down the hall in her wheelchair 10 minutes ago to be prepped. Eventually, we will be able to track her progress on the monitor overhead.

Since the room feels so different from what I was expecting, I decide to do a 3-card reading of the environment. I get:

  1. The King of Cups, upright
  2. The Empress, upright
  3. The 3 of Pentacles, reversed

Version 2The card that catches my eye first is the smallest, the 3 of Pentacles. Reversed, it says: The medical team is at work in the other room. You can only imagine what your loved one is experiencing right now. You have no hand in it. Concern is lurking in the periphery of your mind, but with effort you can keep it at bay, and keep it small. This card sits to the side like the monitor we try not to stare at.

Version 3The grander cards of the King and the Empress dominate the spread, explaining the upbeat feel that caught me so off guard. They – we – are the loved ones who are in the tough but well-defined position of supporting our people through difficult times. We are purposeful but powerless. Stuck to a chair! Our only choice is to love.

Tarot EmpressThe King, who reins over the suit of emotions, is determined to keep his sea-tossed throne upright and not allow one drop to spill from his cup. He is masterful, but today I can see that it takes effort to stay composed. He stares at a fixed point like someone trying to keep balance in a yoga pose. The Empress is the great nurturer – a role we all can step into when circumstances require it. Breathe deeply and have faith in the big picture. Allow yourself to be nurtured by the hospital, too, which is the result of collective Major-Arcana-scale nurturing energy. The goal is health and balance. The way to get there now is to love. And everyone in this room seems to know it.

(As always, my gratitude to Pamela Colman-Smith for painting these images for the Rider-Waite-Smith deck in 1906, and to the Gods of Time for bringing this deck into the public domain.)


Contact me for readings and classes: Yetta@presentdaytarot.com

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The Tarot Ten Gets Well

Version 2I couldn’t take a photo of where I was or who I was with this morning, so the 10 of Pentacles will have to do. I was visiting Daryel, the Somali women’s health group that meets in South Seattle every Sunday. I’ve written about them before, and so has the Seattle Times: “For Somali women, health program eases the pain of war, exile.” The word Daryel means “wellness” in Somali.

The group is flourishing after over 7 years of gathering weekly, and today more than 20 women filled the meeting space with voices, hugs and movement. As I spent time with them, I felt the boisterous company of the 10 of Pentacles.

Rider Waite 10 of PentsThe 10 of Pentacles evokes wealth – especially the wealth of connections. This card is sometimes reduced to the idea of family money, but you see another side of it in Daryel. The women of Daryel have experienced war and displacement beyond what most of us know or can imagine. They now find solace in one another’s company half way across the world. What is more comforting, earthy, and valuable, than a friend who knows what you’ve been through and has your back? Surround yourself with 20 such friends and you will feel the 10 of Pentacles!

Motherpeace Tarot 10 of DiscsIn tarot, the tens evoke a resting place. Theoretically speaking, we use the moment of the tens to assess our accomplishments and then decide how to go forward. The assumption is that the respite will be enough to restore your strength and resolve. While that’s easy to imagine when looking at, say, the 10 of Swords or the 10 of Wands, I might not blame anyone for choosing to stay with the 10 of Pentacles for a while. Especially depending on what they’ve gone through to get there.

(Images shown here: Golden Tarot by Kat Black, Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, and Motherpeace Tarot)


I’m setting up tarot classes and workshops for the summer months. To learn more, send me an email at: presentdaytarot@gmail.com.

– Yetta





Writing about Reading Tarot

The best tarot readings are felt, not thought. We all know what a big challenge it is to step away from our logical brains for a moment to feel the meaning of the energy around us. It’s a trust exercise that, happily, gets easier with practice and promises an exciting payoff when achieved.

I live that challenge in reverse when I write about readings afterwards. It means having to translate the felt experience back into a mental expression. It can require a lot of words and page space to record a momentary sensation. Thank goodness in-person tarot readings allow much more efficient, quick, and intuitive communication.

Here are some tarot cards that represent “writing” for me:


The Page of Wands is an earnest blogger. (Visconti-Sforza deck, c. 1450)



The Queen of Cups writes from the heart. (Golden Tarot, 2003)

13043405_1359126760767870_7468058497902526890_nThe Ace of Swords is the start of a brilliant analytic essay. (Antiquarian Tarot by Maree Bento, 2015)


The 4 of Pentacles describes writer’s block. (Rider-Waite-Smith deck, 1906)



The Hanged Man is an embedded journalist. (The Fountain Tarot, 2014)

There are so many writers and muses waiting to introduce themselves to you from your tarot deck. Which one best represents you when you write?


If you live in Seattle and study tarot, there may still be time to sign up for my 2-hour course on Thursday, May 4th, 2017 through the Field Trip Society. Check it out! (Edit 4/30 — the class is sold out. To learn about future classes, follow me on Facebook.

Tarot Workout: Who Will I Marry?

Tarot Workouts are short, real-life case studies to help you exercise your tarot-reading muscle. Tarot students: read the questions, see the cards, and then step away from the essay to formulate your own response. Come back to check out how my response compares to your own ideas.
A Tarot Workout is an academic exercise, not a true reading. It is an opportunity for you to practice putting card meanings together. Since the questioner has no energetic connection to my essay, you will not have the benefit of an intuitive interaction – except, perhaps, with me! Of course, I alter all identifying details to respect anonymity.

Tarot Workout Question

A man asks: “What kind of person am I going to marry? Will she be someone who loves and respects me, or….?” I devise a 3-card spread and draw the following cards from the Pamela Coleman Smith commemorative deck:

  • Card #1 (Kind of person you are most likely to attract right now): Page of Cups, Reversed
  • Card #2 (What you should be on the lookout for): The Lovers, Upright
  • Card #3 (What you should be wary of): 9 of Swords, Upright

********** BREAK HERE TO PONDER THE CARDS *********

Yetta’s Response

  • My overall take on this reading is that it cautions you to beware of your attraction to lesser people than you deserve. It says that you are capable of finding a forever and respectful partner, but that it may not be your first impulse. The key to knowing the difference is being able to admit when things are going wrong.

Version 2The Page of Cups shows upside-down as the person you are most likely to attract in your current state of being. If this card were upright, it might be a childhood sweetheart and soulmate at the same time. Upside-down, I see this Page as cute, affectionate, and fun, but also emotionally immature. She may also be younger than you. This is not a ‘bad’ person at all, but it is someone who is not a capable partner in the long run.

Version 3Your Major Arcana card, The Lovers, shows upright as “what you should be on the lookout for.” To have such a big card in this position makes me feel that you are entirely capable of attaining this outcome if you, ahem, play your cards right. The challenge will be to listen to your inner wisdom. Despite its name, the Lovers card is not as romantic, in my view, as the Page of Cups. This card is about long-term commitment, choice and consequence. When you look at the Page you might say: What fun! When you look at the person represented by the Lovers you might say: I could see myself growing old with this person. The way you worded your question to me makes it clear that your inner voice is pointing you to the energy of the Lovers and not the Page.

9 of Swords Colman SmithThe third card, indicating what you should be wary of, is the 9 of Swords. This card is about stress and concern, and basically says that it will be abundantly obvious when you are on the wrong track. In your next romantic relationship, look for signs of worry and anxiety. Do you have a nagging feeling that this isn’t right? Do your friends express concern? Does that person live stressfully, and in a way that transfers stress to you? My sense from these cards is that it should not be a subtle sign, largely because it is in the upright position. However, the challenge is always (in my experience) to trust yourself enough to act on your best judgment.

When I look back at your question, it strikes me that — like Dorothy! — you had the answer before the reading even began! “What kind of person will I marry? Someone who respects me, or …?” You know yourself well enough to recognize that you have a weakness for people who are not the best for you. So know this as well: Tarot works as a reflection of your intuition. The correspondence is illuminating and not accidental.


Follow this blog if you are interested in doing more Tarot Workouts in the future. I have a growing number of offerings for students, including a Tarot Explorations class in Seattle on May 4th, 2017. To find out more and to sign up, visit my partners at The Field Trip Society.

If you want a reading, email me (yetta@presentdaytarot.com) or go directly to my scheduling software.

Death Beckons the Tarot Reader

I recently came across the record of my very first Celtic Cross tarot spread, scribbled on the back of a brochure from a rental cabin I stayed in long ago.

My extended family was together for Christmas. I had been given a tarot deck, as I’d been hoping, and I secluded myself to explore this most compelling gift. I asked, “How do I fit into this family?” Within the first 10 cards, all 4 queens popped up, and although I couldn’t grasp a full message, the uncanny coincidence of it caught my breath. Over the course of the months that followed, queens showed far more often than chance would have allowed, as if hollering to get my attention, to tell me that my identity was, indeed, in these cards.

Death, waves to catch our attention in the 1789 Book of Thoth (above). At top, the Crowley-Harris version of 1943 looks like lead rock guitarist enjoying a good riff

Years later, I was reading for guests at a party. One woman wanted more to talk about tarot than to have an actual reading. She asked why I thought the Death card kept showing up whenever she consulted her cards. She wasn’t afraid of the message, just captured by it. Why Death, she asked?

Tarot talks to its readers in different ways. For me, having the Queens show up during my family reunion felt like a pinch and a wink from my deck. For this new reader, the Death card was less subtle – more like a bonk on the head saying, “Pay attention to this! There’s something big here for you! It will awaken a new way of seeing the world – keep your attention here!”

Have you been captured by the Tarot? If you are a new reader and would like some help learning, contact me about one-on-one or small-group mentoring. I have had great fun mentoring new readers through the Free Tarot Network, an affiliate of the American Tarot Association. My rates are not set. We can decide on something reasonable together. Contact me here with a Facebook message, or email Yetta@presentdaytarot.com.


In the deck of tarot cards, nothing says lies and liars like the 7 of Swords. Since lies are in the air, let’s take a closer look.

Version 4

                                    1907 drawing by Pamela Coleman Smith (Rider-Waite)

The suit of Swords is the air sign in the deck, representing thoughts, truths and facts. The person who controls the swords commands the power of persuasion. This particular liar looks like a nimble lightweight who enjoys the act of deception as much or more than the items he procures. He finds his drive in the compulsion to get away with something, and he does it with abandon.


                               Tarot del Fuego was published in 2014

A newer version of the 7 of Swords (right) by Ricardo Cavalo places emphasis on the moment when the lies come back to bite the blustering, blindfolded liar. The liar here has more force than finesse. He has lost control of his temper as well as the lies he spewed into being.

Orange and yellow are 2nd and 3rd chakra colors, where our will, ego, and drive reside. The sevens are high energy and off balance, just like other orange-and blond-headed liars in the news.


                             “Envy” by Giotto, 1305

My favorite depiction of a lie is in Giotto’s early 14th century fresco of the vice, Envy, which is a small part of the amazing Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. Old Lady Envy grabs a money purse while being engulfed in the flames of her own bad humor. Her ear is distorted by paranoia, and the snake – her lies – emerge from her mouth only to turn around and bite her between the eyes.

There’s comfort in lasting art at times like this. In 1305 — 140 years before the first tarot decks were made and 711 years before the election of Donald Trump — Giotto knew very well that it doesn’t pay to lie. He knew that lies spring from envy, and from feelings of inadequacy and fear. He knew that the opposite of Envy is not Pride, but Charity (below), which he painted as the corresponding virtue on the opposite chapel wall. So for the thousands of people who rallied at airports this past weekend, chanting “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” I hereby dedicate Giotto’s Charity to you. Your fierce generosity is what we need to keep the lies on their natural trajectory — however slow and perilous it may be — back to faces of the liars who lied them.


For more about Present Day Tarot and Henrietta Snow, go to PresentDayTarot.com or facebook.com/PresentDayTarot.

Hermit in Love

People are never excited to see The Hermit in their love readings, but it happens all the time. “When will I meet my soul mate?” (The Hermit) “What does the future look like with my current partner?” (The Hermit!) Today it was, “Does my boyfriend really love me?” (The HERMIT!!) It makes for an awkward moment every time.

13423919_1404651042882108_1830049019912469846_nYou might as well tell someone to go kiss an angler fish. All pretense of beauty aside, this creature is what it is. The ugliest, deep water denizen dangles a lantern in front of its own face saying, “love me, warts and all.”

The Hermit is a watery card, or more exactly, it is the reliable Virgo earth beneath a body of water. While other trumps – the Chariot, the Lovers, the Wheel – hold the energy of the water above, I see the Hermit as the long and still riverbed. It is the deepest part of our souls in this lifetime. Meditate in silence to connect with yourself at the Hermit level. Change on this level affects everything that happens above.

Does the Hermit sentence you to a life alone? No, that’s not how tarot works. But if you are looking for someone to love, this card insists that you look inside first. Here are some of the interpretations I’ve given in the past, gleaned from my written readings (with all identifying info omitted, of course):

• You are worried that your boyfriend is cheating. You are concerned about honesty. The lantern this figure holds represents your inner wisdom. Honor this part of yourself. Look deeply into your situation and listen to your inner voice. Use the Hermit’s lantern to help you understand how you got here and how to proceed.

• What are your deepest values for a relationship and for your expectations of another? The Hermit suggests that you will not be satisfied with anyone who is not able to meet you at the deepest level.

• If you are usually pragmatic and action-oriented, this card challenges you to bring out the other side of yourself as you look for a new partner. It says you will be well served to not rush things.

The Hermit doesn’t take loneliness for granted. It is an important part of being human, which is most often hidden by the noise and busy happenings of our day-to-day.

Tarot cards pictured above come from these decks, (from L to R): The Antiquarian Tarot, The Fountain Tarot, and The  Book of Thoth. The fish photo is from National Geographic.


This essay is a re-issue of a post from my Facebook page, written in April 2015 when I was going through one of my periodic crushes on the Hermit card. Circumstances nowadays lead me to focus on more action-oriented cards. I use Facebook to advertise Present Day Tarot’s current events, like local reading appearances, promotional discounts, and gift certificates for the holidays. Please visit me there, too!