Tarot Workout: The Deck Makes the Difference

Tarot Workouts are short, real-life case studies to help you exercise your tarot-reading muscle. Enjoy this as a sample reading. Or, if you are a tarot student, read the question, check out the cards, and then step away from the essay to formulate your own response. Read the end later to see how my response compares to your own. Leave comments for me about how your interpretation may differ.

The Question

The question wasn’t particularly unusual. Alison explained, “I love my career but am terribly unhappy at work. I was hired because of my expertise, which is desperately needed during a transition. My supervisors tell me they love me, but I get the feeling they are keeping me on just to train the next team, and then will let me go. Should I beat them to it and just leave before they fire me?”

Something about Alison made me want to step off the beaten path. I decided to use an unusual deck – the Tarot del Fuego by Ricardo Cavolo. (I’ve written about it before). Although I love this deck, its quirkiness can make for some unwieldy readings, and I don’t use it very often. It turns out that the idiosyncrasies served me well this time, as I pulled this simple 3-card spread.

The Layout

  • CARD 1 (Overall energy of Alison at work): Knight of Swords, upright
  • CARD 2 (Opportunity crossing for better or for worse): 3 of Cups
  • CARD 3 (Tarot advice for Alison): 6 of Swords, reversed


Here is a better look at the 3 cards in their upright positions:


(To complete the Tarot Workout, stop reading now to come up with your own interpretation of Alison’s cards. Read on only after you’ve settled on your answer, then enjoy a comparison to mine).

My Response

Tarot del Fuego Knight of SwordsAlison, my first take on this is that there are more positive things going on in your work than you are seeing. The Knight of Swords – representing you – is high-energy, action-driven, and sometimes impatient. (This description made Alison laugh at its accuracy). In this particular deck, the Knight is shown as a blindfolded stallion in full gallop, while a half-dozen eyes look on from the distance. To me, this validates that people notice your hard work and are thankful for it. While it may be true that they treat you like a workhorse, I get the feeling that the emotional distance between you does not come from their direction alone.

Version 2The second card, which is an opportunity that crosses you for better or worse, is the 3 of Cups – a card of abundance and friendship. If you are working toward an urgent goal now, I could see the frenzy of the Knight being needed. However, the 3 of Cups shows an enjoyable environment around you. That is either in the future, or, more likely, available to you now, if only you choose to see it. Is it possible that you are so intent on the workload and goals that you are less likely to truly see your colleagues as peers? To me, these cards suggest that you re-evaluate to see if there is more goodwill there than you realize. (Alison explained that, besides her supervisors, she enjoyed many of the other members of her team. She said there were several people she would miss if she were to leave).

Version 3With that, the advice card is intriguing. The 6 of Swords, when upright, typically says that it’s time to move on. In your reading, however, it has shown upside-down, which tweaks the message. That this card shows up at all for advice says that moving on
is a real option. However, upside-down it cautions you to be circumspect about how you proceed. Switching jobs may be a good move for you, but perhaps not for the same reasons you have in mind. While there may simply be a great job out there for you in terms of better pay, more status, or otherwise advancing your career, you (like any other person) run the risk of importing the same dynamic into a different setting. As you keep the door open to new possibilities, why not also be deliberate in making your daily experience better by enjoying the company of the colleagues you like? You may find that it changes the parts of your work that feel unbearable now, putting you on better footing to make a well-chosen move when it is the most advantageous for you.

We left the reading there, with Alison saying she felt both validated and challenged by the cards. As I have reflected on this reading, I think how much richer it was for having been done with the Tarot del Fuego deck. The Knight of Swords showed so much more individuality than the Rider-Waite-Smith card would have in this instance. The 6 of Swords is usually shown as a placid scene of someone sailing to calmer waters, but the Tarot del Fuego card shows a much more painful transition. I associate Cavolo’s card with plantar fasciitis and the agony of indecision, which highlighted the idea that she should move forward with care. I won’t be giving up my beloved Rider-Waite-Smith deck any time soon, but I’m happy for the interesting twists provided by this other deck.


If you are a Seattle-area reader, join the Tarot Salon — a twice-monthly gathering to talk and practice tarot in the Present Day Tarot studio.

For more information about Ricardo Cavolo, he’s got a very cool website and sells his decks here. The Rider-Waite-Smith, of course, can be found in many places.


Putting the Trumps in Order

(Twice a month, Present Day Tarot hosts a Tarot Salon for tarot readers, students and enthusiasts. This essay was written in preparation for a Tarot Salon on the subject of the Major Arcana suit. If you are in or near Seattle and want to attend the Salon, you can sign up here.)

The Major Arcana (AKA “Trump”) Cards

Tarot de Marseilles le Mat

The Major Arcana suit consists of 22 cards. Nowadays, they are typically numbered from Zero (the Fool) to 21 (the World). But in the early decks the Majors were given no numbers or established order. As the deck developed over time, the Majors fluctuated in name and number value.

The numbers on these cards may or may not matter in your tarot readings, depending on your approach. However, as you learn the cards, knowing and playing with the order can be very helpful.

Etteilla FolieThe most common explanation for the order of the Trump suit today is to see it as a linear story called the Fool’s Journey. It shows the Fool, an innocent soul, falling to earth and encountering each card one-by-one. For me, this story has no narrative pizzazz – which seems a waste for a subject that is so rich in story-telling potential. But getting to know it is like learning the basics of grammar. I combed through some YouTube options dramatizing the Fool’s Journey, and chose these videos (with thanks to the people who took the time to make them), because they are the shortest. You can see the story straight-up, with a British accent, and wouldn’t you know, as a rap. And that’s enough time on that.

An Added Dimension

Author Rachel Pollack is credited with a simple and popular restructuring of the story that adds a helpful layer of meaning. Holding the Fool card aside, she maintains the standard order but splits the remaining 21 cards into 3 rows of 7. Each row indicates a different level of mastery for the Fool as he/she travels from innocence to awareness. The Fool first masters the physical world (Majors 1-7), then his unconscious world (Majors 8-14), and then finally, the spiritual world (Majors 15-21). Here is an image of the Rider-Waite-Smith cards placed in Pollack’s order:

Rider Waite Major Suit

The Best, (and most difficult to describe), for Last

The most helpful way I have ever seen the Majors ordered is by the prolific tarot scholar, Gareth Knight. In his 1991 book, The Magical World of the Tarot: Fourfold Mirror of the Universe, he pictures the whole deck as a giant, floating building with four halls. The halls are energized by the work of the Magician, guarded by four dominant Trump cards, and peopled by their closest cousins in the Major Arcana. The four halls correspond to the elements, and are gateways to the suits of the Minor Arcana. This is my favorite and most often misplaced tarot book, and Knight spends a good portion of it building a layered vision of the cards. I will condense his vision (as I remember it) into a quick overview graphic, below. I look forward to discussing it more with you at the Tarot Salon!

Tarot Trumps restructured


The tarot cards not cited above are two early versions of the Fool: Le Mat from the Tarot de Marseilles and La Folie from the Book of Thoth, also known as the Etteilla Tarot.

The Owl and the Tarot Reader

Present Day Tarot Barred OwlIt’s been a pretty great start to the year at Present Day Tarot. My first magic of 2018 was an encounter with this barred owl, who perched just above my head and watched with me as the super moon rose on January 2. Making deep, direct eye contact, I asked her about the year to come. “I’m not sure,” I heard, and she turned her neck with a sigh.

A day or two later, a deck I’d supported through Kick Starter arrived in the mail. It’s called Dust II Onyx: A Melanated Tarot. After backing the campaign, I was lucky enough to meet the artist, Courtney Alexander, at the annual NW Tarot Symposium in Portland. (Check out my fan photo!).

Courtney Alexander and Yetta Snow

The deck is entirely magic, made even more impressive by the fact that the artist is at the very start of her tarot journey. She’s been studying since just 2015, which may be why (in conjunction with her artistic talent) she manages to capture the high-energy excitement that so many life-long readers experience when they first discover the Tarot. New readers, take heart! You don’t have to log in decades of study to connect with your tarot deck.

Now, if you’ve been to one of my classes, you may have tried the “I am the one who…” exercise in which we imagine each card finishing out that phrase in its own voice. Do that with Courtney’s cards, and you’ll find they have a lot to say. In one of my first readings with Dust II Onyx, I asked for information about an unexpected development in the year ahead. I drew the following:

Dust II Onyx Justice

The Justice Card showed upright at the top of my reading.

Version 2Papa Gourd (the King of Cups) showed upside-down beneath the Justice Card.

Dust II Onyx 6 of Gourds And the 6 of Gourds (6 of Cups) showed next to Papa Gourd, also upside-down.

As they spoke to me, I wrote these words in my tarot journal: “It will even out better than you think. The unsteady king will be beaten by children (working in secret).”

We can hope. And stay alert. Then, at moments that take our breath away, we can look an owl in the eye and search for answers together.


I had so much fun teaching last year that I decided to double down on the number of Tarot Salons I offer each month. If you are studying tarot in or near Seattle, Join me at the Tarot Salon! The next one is Sunday, January 14th, and then after that, Thursday the 25th. I’d love to see you here!



Tarot Gift Ideas

Present Day Tarot Frequent Reader Cards (1)Hello, Tarot Friends:

Check out these Present Day Tarot gift offerings for the season! A tarot-related gift allows you the pleasure of giving a unique, meaningful, experience-based treasure while supporting small business. 

Order before December 16th to receive printed materials in the mail, or before December 22nd to have them sent to you electronically. Place your order by going to this link, or by contacting me directly (info below).

I wish you all the best for a love-filled holiday season!

— Yetta

Moon Tarot Salon cardGift Certificates

Gift certificates are available for any of my tarot reading services, including in-person, phone, or email readings. (See my website for the full selection). You may also purchase general gift certificates for the dollar amount of your choice. Purchase using this link.

Stocking Stuffer Special

Here’s a bargain-basement special just for you: Purchase an email, 3-card reading for just $35 in the month of December. The discount certificates (down from the usual price of $75), will need to be redeemed by the end of February, 2018. Purchase using this link.

Tarot Salon Membership

The Tarot Salon is a drop-in class for tarot students and enthusiasts. I run it twice monthly at my home studio in Southeast Seattle. Purchase Frequent Reader Cards for 3 and 10 sessions, or a gift certificate for a single entry. Details and dates for 2018 can be found on this page. Purchase using this link.

A note about purchases

I am a tarot reader, not an online marketer! While I like to think that my homespun systems are quaint, if you ever run into difficulty following my links to order and pay, please just contact me directly by email (yetta@presentdaytarot.com) or by phone (206) 605-5578, and I promise to make it very easy for you. Thank you, and happy holidays!




A One-Card Spread

“I’m struggling with my self-esteem,” a friend declares. “Where is my goodness?”

She pulls the 2 of Pentacles, reversed.Version 2

This card is about juggling small details and decisions. Yes, my friend is a busy woman, and the jaunty pose and rolling waves show the effort required to keep balance while multitasking. Aces can be high or low, but the 2 is indisputably a little number. As such, it runs the risk of being thought of as less significant than other cards. But consider the role of the tarot 2s. Their job is to advance the Ace energy, which is infinite and intangible. If the earth sign Ace is an endless field of potential, the 2 is the single farmer who chooses the crop and commits to its care. Like in the daily tasks we perform at work or for home, the energetic action is a much bigger deal than we give ourselves credit for. The 2s work to make divine potential come to Earth. But the effort can be overwhelming. It’s easy to imagine this taking a toll on one’s self-esteem, especially when the card shows in reverse.

So I say to my friend,

Your goodness is that you are trying and you’re trying hard. Struggle is not failure. It’s the first step to something important that you do not know yet. Your goodness is in caring enough to walk an invisibly rocky road. It is internal. It feels so serious, but look at your silly red hat and remind yourself to laugh. Look through the eyes of your higher self. The things in front of you are not the actual things you’re grappling with. The forces that you are trying to move are much greater than what you see, and they are divine. So, while you feel buffeted and beaten up, you can know that your goodness is in your efforts to bring meaning to life.

On a practical note, I point out that the next card in the tarot deck is the 3 of Pentacles — a card of collaboration and productivity. Do you feel alone in your efforts? Can you share your vision and labor with someone else?


Present Day Tarot StudioAre you Tarot-curious in Seattle? Learn, discuss, and practice tarot with me at the Tarot Salon! For those of you in the great world beyond Seattle, please sign up for my email list or follow my blog for other Present Day Tarot offerings.


The card above is, of course, by the amazing Pamela Colman Smith for the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, created and published in the early 1900s when the artist was 17.

About Studying Tarot

Version 2About the verb TO STUDY: Is this as much of your daily routine as, say, eating or sleeping? Do you study life at every turn, looking for meaning from your experiences and clarity for the choices ahead? These are among the best reasons to study tarot.

One approach to studying tarot is to learn the meanings of cards and turn the cards in constellations to find a hidden message. This is valid, fun, and — amazingly — it works! The thrill of synergy can be yours again and again, whether or not you think of yourself as a psychic person.

But like so many other studies, learning tarot is a series of plateaus and surges. That initial level of study will only take you so far, and will either lead to more study or will stop giving back. Rather than getting discouraged at a plateau, Tarot nudges you to get creative. Try new things, or revisit forgotten knowledge, to keep your practice vibrant and alive. You will find this lively dynamic of question and answer permeating all other aspects of your life.


If you live in Seattle, one way to get creative with your tarot study is to join the Tarot Salon. This is a monthly event in my Southeast Seattle studio, in which we discuss tarot, see sample readings, and practice reading for each other. Find out more about the Tarot Salon here — and please come along!


The image above is from the Golden Tarot by Kat Black. The Page of Swords is the ultimate student, drawn to ideas and energy that exist in the unseen. This student has persistent curiosity and is not bound by preconceived ideas. Bring your inner Page of Swords to the next Tarot Salon!



Introducing the Tarot Salon

Please note: this is the original announcement from when the Tarot Salon first began in the fall of 2017. Go to this page for up-to-date information.

For Tarot-Loving Seattleites

DSC_4416 copy

The Tarot Salon is a place for people to discuss, learn, and practice reading tarot for one-another. The Tarot Salon takes place one Sunday of every month from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm in the Present Day Tarot studio in Southeast Seattle. Each Tarot Salon includes:

  • Discussion around a topic
  • A sample reading by Yetta
  • Practice with friends

This is a casual forum for tarot students, readers, and enthusiasts. Since it is held in my home, I ask for people to sign up and pay ahead of time. The address and other details are sent to you when you sign up and pay.
Continue reading “Introducing the Tarot Salon”