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

Visit my Facebook page for information about upcoming events.

Tarot From the U.K. to Sicily

CCI14052017I have never been a fan of Aleister Crowley, one of the big personalities in early 20th century tarot. However, I am grateful for his contributions. His was one of the clashing egos that led to the breakup of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an occult group that was active in England until the late 1800’s. The split of that group precipitated the unveiling of its Secrets — including tarot. Crowley wrote, taught, and eventually created the Thoth Tarot deck, which adds layers of astrology and Jewish mysticism to the standard tarot platform. Without Crowley and the undoing of the Golden Dawn, tarot might still be in the shadows today.

Version 2As I prepare for a trip to Sicily, I just learned that Crowley spent a happy decade in the North Sicilian town of Cefalu, before being driven out by Mussolini in 1923. He created a school of the occult and housed it in what he called the Abbey of Thelema, overlooking the sea. As it stands today, it looks more like a dilapidated crack house than anything else, and the stories I have found support that general impression. Still, I may seek out the abandoned building while I’m there. Wouldn’t you?

Pictured here are two of my favorite cards from the Thoth deck, which was painted by Lady Freida Harris over the course of many years. It was not published until 1969, after both she and Crowley had died.

I am excited for this trip! I’m flying through London where I will attend the London Tarot Festival of 2017. (Angling for a speaker’s position in 2018, doncha think?) Then to Palermo, where I will meet up with card-playing friends who have been practicing “Scopa!” and other games played with the Sicilian deck — an obvious derivation of 15th century tarot. While I explore catacombs and ruins, and keep and eye on the rumblings of Mt. Etna, I will be on the lookout for visceral connections to my own Italian ancestors, the Caiazzo family. More to come.


While I am abroad, I am putting my readings on hold. But you can schedule ahead to mid-June and later by visiting my online scheduling software.



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.

Give Me a Name Like a Ring

By Yetta Snow

My mother recently distributed some old family jewelry to my siblings and me. I now have this sweet amethyst ring, which belonged to my great-great aunt on my father’s side. The note is written by my grandmother in script I recognize with my whole heart. It reads: “Birthday gift to Belle Estelle Snow from her father on her 16th birthday. She was my mother’s sister and lived with us many years.” My grandmother was born in 1899.

IMG_7099The Snow family name did not come directly to me. It is my given name only because I gave it to myself. This ring was handed down the maternal branches of my father’s side, and links me, via my grandmother Mary Snow Norton, to my chosen namesake.

By the way, my birthday is September 1st


A particularly nice grave marker in my home town

I am proud to claim my connection to these relatives. My grandmother was an artist and genealogist who kept great details of our ancestry. She inspired gravestone-rubbing excursions to small northeastern towns looking for members of the Snow, Norton and McIntyre families. When she died in 1987, I had just moved to Seattle from the Northeast. I was on a first date that turned awkward when I inexplicably burst into tears and felt compelled to tell my date all about my grandmother. Returning home that evening, I learned that she had died that same hour. It’s funny to become even closer to someone on the occasion of her death, but this is true about my bond with her.

And now I have a ring that she held, saved, and documented so carefully. Once I get it cleaned and checked for durability, it will become part of my tarot-reading rituals.

The best purpose of tarot ritual is to define your intention. It is to allow yourself to fully open to your consciousness while reading, knowing that when it is over, you will return to a normal level of skepticism and psychic protection. This is particularly important for empathic professionals who make use of their sensitivity, but also need to be able to turn it off. Come to think of it, I could have used a special ring in my Social Work days to protect myself from burn-out.

IMG_4935My rituals include keeping my cards wrapped in cloth and storing them on shelves higher than my shoulder. I do this to keep away the curse of losing my cards on cluttered counters. I use candles to remind myself and my clients to honor the space. I display a chakra-rainbow of crystals on my reading surface, and keep a humble garden rock in my pocket to help me stay grounded. This isn’t superstition. In my old work world, we would have called it “best practices” and put it on a PowerPoint slide.

So, thank you, Mom, Grandmother, and Great-Great Aunt Snow for my lovely new gift. I promise to wear it well.


I see a tarot class in your future! If you are reading this from Seattle, come to my Tarot Explorations class with the Field Trip Society on May 4th, 2017. If you cannot make that date, contact me to get on my email list for future events. And be sure to follow this blog!






For the Father of a Teen


“Help me understand how to relate to my kid,” a father said to me. “He’s a teenager, his lives with his mom, and I’m worried that he has no direction in life. He plays video games, is on his computer all the time, and gives me no reason to believe he’s got any thoughts for the future. I’m afraid that if I don’t teach him better, he’ll just drift through life and waste his potential.”

The most common advice he heard from his friends was difficult for him to accept. They told him, gently I imagine, to back off, cut the kid some slack, and recognize his actions as controlling. He suspected there was some wisdom in that advice, but he was not willing to surrender completely to their assessment. Regardless, he knew he and his son were stuck in an imperfect pattern.

Slide1 (1)What did the cards have to say?

He shuffled and cut the deck for a simple 3-card spread:

  1. 6 of Swords, upright
  2. 2 of Wands, reversed
  3. Page of Swords, upright

Version 3

The 6 of Swords as a covering card was a refreshing surprise for me. Rather than saying “back off,” this card validates the man’s role as a guide. It also acknowledges that his role is complicated, and that the journey is not simple. The 6 of Swords is commonly said to be about the journey from rough to calm waters. (I’ve written about it before). In the Golden Tarot deck, it clearly shows a trio. Examining their family roles would have been a bigger and different reading, but the important message for this reading was that his guidance IS necessary to help his child navigate his adolescence. He has a place in the boat. It saw it as a vote of confidence for him. He has a prominent place in this boat.

Version 2But the qualifying cards gave a slight twist. I felt that both qualifying cards referred directly to the teen. Card 3, the Page of Swords, was upright, looking outward. The words I connected to at the time were: True, Stalwart, Sincere, Healthy. The Page is a lovely teenager with great potential. In the same way that the first card was a vote of confidence for the man, I saw this as a tribute to this boy’s strength and curiosity. I let the dad sit with this image. Can you see your son in this card?

CCI16032017_2To the left was the only reversed card in the bunch: the 2 of Wands. In this card, a figure stands looking at the horizon with a globe in his hand. This card is about setting plans, seeing the big picture, and imagining the future. But the card was upside-down. Reversals rarely indicated a lack of something, but rather a presence that is qualified in some way. I read this as saying that the energy of the 2 of Wands was emergent in the teen. The skill was growing, but was not yet strong enough to be visible to others.

The message I left this client with was: “You are an important guide to your son. He is learning from you if he shows it or not. And, at the same time that you help steer the ship, you can hold steady to your belief in your son’s goodness. He has more going on inside than he is able to show at this time. In the same way that these cards validate your role as a guide, they also validate your son’s strength and developing maturity. Does seeing that in the cards make it possible for you to improve the dynamic that has been bothering you?”


For more about Present Day Tarot and Yetta Snow, go to PresentDayTarot.com or facebook.com/PresentDayTarot. You can also book a reading directly online.