Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Spirit and Energy Podcast

Jun 2, 2019

Tarot For Your Self: 19 Tips for Reading Tarot PLUS The Life of Tarot Illustrator Pamela Coleman Smith with Mary K. Greer

Tarot is 78 cards that were originally designed as a card game.  In the late 18th century the cards were used for fortune-telling.  56 playing cards plus a set of 21 trump cards (that in the card games could trump any other suit) plus the Fool Card for a total of 78 cards.

By studying Tarot you can learn so much about psychology, history, science, mathematics, art, literature, symbolism.  It’s endless what you can learn through the Tarot.

There are many myths or misconceptions about Tarot, including where the Tarot came from.  What can be proven is that the Major Arcana (trump cards) were added to a previous set of playing cards between 1420-1440 in northern Italy. 

Mary is co-author of the book Pamela Coleman Smith: The Untold Story.  Pamela Coleman Smith was the illustrator for what is known today as the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.  The deck was completed in 1909 and a new edition came out in 1910.  This deck had scenic pictures on each of the minor arcana cards (rather than just symbols as in previous Tarot decks).  Rider was the publisher, Waite was the conceptualizer of the deck.

Pamela Coleman Smith born in England (her parents were Americans).  She was a storyteller of Jamaican folktales because she lived several years on Jamaica.  She was also involved in literary theater of England in late 19th and early 20th century.  She lived in England in much of her adult life.  Her grave is unmarked.

Mary’s inspiration for writing Tarot For Your Self was inspired by journal writing.  It is really a workbook that takes you through Tarot in a step-by-step manner that makes the cards come alive.  You actually create a relationship with each Tarot card.  It has remained popular for more than 30 years because it gives permission to explore Tarot in your own way and discover your own meanings for the cards.  It’s also a very fun way to explore the Tarot that creates mini-mystical experiences along the way!

Description Technique for creating meaning from a Tarot card:

  1. Simply describe the card as literally and concretely as possible. 
  2. Describe the emotions, mood, and attitude you are experiencing or seeing in the card.
  3. Look at what you’ve stated in steps 1 and 2 as metaphors for what is happening in your life.

Story Technique for creating meaning from a Tarot card:  Tell a made-up story of fairy tale (start with “Once upon a time . . .) and the card is the key illustration for the story.  Make the story wild and crazy and make it spontaneous.  If you are reading for your self, record yourself telling the story.

Develop Three Core Keywords for each Tarot card.

Work with the suit and number of the minor arcana:  Identify what all the ‘3’ cards have in common and how the meaning is influenced by the suit of the Tarot card.

Compare and contrast between two cards.  Note the similarities and differences.

Tips for reading reversed Tarot cards:

  1. If you have difficulty reading reversed  Tarot cards, remember you don’t have to read reversals!  Let yourself off the hook if reversals are difficult for you. 
  2. Set a clear intent for what the reversed card will mean – this will also work for you.
  3. Try looking at reversals as “inner” (unconscious) rather than “outer” (conscious) forces or dynamics.
  4. See reversals as the blocks or what the client may be resisting.
  5. See reversals as what is delayed or delaying something in the outer world.
  6. What is being overturned or what you are breaking through.
  7. What is on its way as potential.

Tips for reading Court cards:

  1. People in your life
  2. A reflections or aspects of your own personality
  3. Knights can indicate simply going on a journey
  4. Aspects of yourself that you are projecting onto others
  5. You can also use astrological correspondences (for example, “Cup” court cards refer to water signs, “Sword” court cards refer to air signs, etc.)
  6. See the court card as having an opinion on the situation you are bringing to the reading.  What would this court card recommend you do in this situation?  You don’t have to follow these opinions, but they do inform you on what you choose to do.

Reversed court cards are NOT bad or evil people.

Mary is surprised that Tarot has been so central to her life for over 50 years!  There is infinite variation in its symbolism.  There’s always something new to explore.

Mary teaches Tarot at the Omega Institute and has some recorded webinars at the Global Spiritual Studies.  She is also a frequent presenter at regional Tarot conferences throughout the world.

Mary K. Greer:
Instagram:  @marykgreer
Two of Mary’s books include Pamela Coleman Smith: The Untold Story and Tarot For Your Self (35th Anniversary Edition available September 1, 2019) and Tarot For Your Self (2nd edition available now) 
Mary’s online courses can be found at Global Spiritual Studies.

Host Dan Johnson’s websites:  and

SUBSCRIBE to Spirit and Energy Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsTuneIn radio, or in your favorite podcast app Facebook: Instagram: @spiritandenergypodcast