A Review of Tarot Beyond the Basics

A google search revealed the following review of Tarot Beyond the Basics by Janet Tapper in the Library Journal:

Library Journal

“Louis (Tarot Plain and Simple) takes a deep dive into varying conceptual systems within the imagery and symbolism of the 78-card tarot deck used for divination and fortune- telling. He uses tarot’s correspondences with astrology, numerology, the I Ching, and Aristotelian elements to deconstruct each suit, number, character, or scene’s potential meaning. Throughout, the author references historical interpretations with special attention to the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Edwardian occultists who conferred the modern and currently used attributions to each card of the deck. Explications by both contemporary readers and masters, such as A.E. Waite and Aleister Crowley, are woven into a rich set of associations and meanings with room left for intuition and personal interpretation of tarot metaphor. As a bonus, a full chapter is dedicated to a thoughtful discussion of “reversals,” one of the more hotly debated aspects of a tarot reading.”

“VERDICT Well researched and organized and offering a fantastic card-by-card appendix, this title will satisfy readers of tarot and divination systems who are looking for depth.”

— Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States Lib., Portland, OR


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The Passing of a Literary Giant

The Colombian novelist, Gabriel García Márquez, died at his home in Mexico City on Thursday (17 April) at the age of 87. He received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982.  Gabriel García Márquez was born in Aracataca near Colombia’s Caribbean coast on March 6, 1927, around 9 AM.  In his his autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale (translated by Edith Grossman, London: Random House, 2003) p. 60, he writes: “the first of seven boys and four girls was born, on Sunday, March 6, 1927 at nine in the morning and in an unseasonable torrential downpour, while the sky of Taurus rose on the horizon.”  Here is his natal chart with Whole Sign Houses:

Gabriel Garcís Márquez, Whole Sign Houses

Gabriel Garcís Márquez, Whole Sign Houses

Elements, Modalities, Closest Aspects

Elements, Modalities, Closest Aspects

Gabriel García Márquez has been called a conjurer of literary magic and the Magus of magical realism.  His imaginative, magical and literary interests are evident in the strong emphasis on Pisces (with Jupiter, Sun, Mercury and Uranus therein) as well has his ASC-ruler Venus and the Moon (both highly creative planets) in realistic Aries and in the otherworldly 12th astrological House. His MC lies in the literary 9th Whole Sign House and forms an extremely close sextile to his Mercury (writing) in Pisces. His close Mercury/Uranus conjunction in Pisces reflects his unique magical style and manner of expression.

If we use the Golden Dawn tarot associations for his natal Sun – Moon – ASC triad, we also see a signature of someone who teaches others through his use of magical realism:

Teaching through Magical Realism as reflected in the Golden Dawn associations to his Sun-Moon-ASC triad.

Teaching through Magical Realism as reflected in the Golden Dawn associations to his Sun-Moon-ASC triad.



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Teenager goes on stabbing rampage

Alex Hribal, the 16 year old who allegedly stabbed his fellow students and a security guard, was born on October 1, 1997 (see entry above “First Name” on bottom left in the attached document).  According to CNN, “A teenage boy wielding two kitchen knives went on a stabbing rampage at his high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, early Wednesday (9 April 2014), before being tackled by an assistant principal … Twenty students and a security officer at Franklin Regional Senior High School were either stabbed or slashed in the attack.”  The rampage began about 7:15 AM and lasted about 5 minutes.

Official Police Criminal Complain against Alex Hribal.

Official Police Criminal Complaint against Alex Hribal.  Note the DOB = 01 OCT 1997 on the bottom left of the form.

Below is a NOON Solar Sign chart (time of birth unknown) for Alex Hribal with the transits for 7:15 AM on 09 April 2014 superimposed.  I don’t know the place of birth so I am using the location of his home town.

Hribal transits

Transiting Saturn had crossed over his natal Venus on April 3, 2014 and is still in partile conjunction with natal Venus, putting a damper on close personal relationships.  The transiting Sun/Mars opposition was stressing his natal Saturn in Aries as well as his natal Mars/Pluto conjunction. Natally, his Saturn is sesqui-squre his Mars/Pluto conjunction so that whenever his natal Saturn is stimulated, his natal Mars/Pluto also comes into play. Transiting Mars opposing natal Saturn is an aspect of intense frustration and seething aggression.

The upcoming cardinal grand cross will affect his natal Sun/Moon conjunction in Libra.  If he were born later in the day, this natal Moon would be quite strongly involved in the grand cross later this April.  At the time of the incident his natal Sun/Moon conjunction is opposed by transiting Uranus and squared by transiting Pluto.  If he were born around 10 PM, the transiting Uranus square Pluto would be exactly hitting his natal Moon (see next chart in this post).

Alex Hribal has a natal Mars/Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius.  Mars conjunct Pluto is extremely powerful and is sometimes called the “volcanic temper” aspect. His natal Mars/Pluto conjunction was stimulated by a semi-square from transiting Mars and a sesqui-square from the transiting Sun at the time of the stabbings, which occurred not long after the transiting Mars/Sun opposition. Mars is especially prominent this April because of its close proximity to the Earth.  (See the previous post about Mars in the news.)

Here is the boy’s natal chart cast hypothetically for 10 PM which puts his natal Moon directly in contact with the transiting Uranus/Pluto square at the time of the stabbings:

Alex Hribal natal chart cast for 10 PM puts the Moon exactly opposite transiting Uranus and exactly square transiting Pluto.

Alex Hribal natal chart cast for 10 PM puts his natal Moon exactly opposite transiting Uranus and square transiting Pluto. His time of birth is unknown.  If he were born late in the day, his natal Moon (emotional responses) would be strongly influenced by the transiting Uranus/Pluto square.

When the birth time is unknown and I wish to look at the solar return for the year, my practice is to cast a sunrise chart and to do the solar return for that chart.  Sunrise is symbolically a significant time of the day because it is the moment when the sun comes over the eastern horizon which signifies a new birth.

Below is Alex Hribal’s sunrise birth chart with the sunrise solar return for this year superimposed.  What is striking is the angular return Pluto on the IC square the angular return Uranus on the DSC with his natal Sun/Moon conjunction on the ASC completing the T-square with these two outer planets.


Sun/Moon  —————— Uranus



The young man's sunrise chart with its solar return for this year superimposed.  Note the prominence of the return Pluto/Uranus square on the angles with his natal Sun/Moon conjunction completing the T-square formation.

The young man’s sunrise chart with its solar return for this year superimposed. Note the prominence of the return Pluto/Uranus square on the angles with his natal Sun/Moon conjunction completing the T-square formation.

His solar return this year took place at the same time as his Venus return with transiting Mars square to natal Venus, suggesting tension, anger and hurt in close personal relationships and in love matters.  Venus is especially significant because it rules his natal Sun and Moon.  In addition, his potentially explosive natal Mars/Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius is being stressed by a close square from return Neptune in Pisces.

Addendum (11 April 2014): Michele Adler left me a message about an article in which she outlines how 8 degrees of the cardinal signs “appears with impressive regularity in progressions and directions during challenging turning point times.  A  common theme is leadership challenge and removal, or gain of power.  It can be seen frequently in job layoffs, new career directions, or in the loss or gain of a leadership role.  Related to this is the fact that the 8 degrees of Aries has appeared by transit, progression or direction in all four US presidential assassinations, and in all but one of the 13 attempted presidential assassinations. However, it would be wrong to call 8 Cardinal an assassination degree: it is, more accurately, a turning point degree, which contains an embedded challenge, and it should be noted that more US presidents escaped assassination attempts under it than were actually killed.  The turning point indicated by 8 Cardinal frequently involves confrontation, yet occasionally a triumph after a long period of work and failure.”  (italics mine).


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The Red Planet in the News

Thousands of years ago the priests of Mesopotamia studied the night sky and made correlations between planetary phenomena and events on Earth.  While astrologers do not believe that the planets cause such events, it is striking how compelling such correlations can be, especially when the nature of an event so closely matches the symbolism of the planet.  “As above, so below.”

This week we witnessed a dramatic Mars event in the sky.  According to CBS News, “Mars takes the celestial stage Tuesday night (April 8) when it lines up with the Earth and sun in a kind of cosmic preview to the Red Planet’s closest approach to Earth during a total lunar eclipse later this month.”

Mars aligned with the Earth and Sun on 8 April 2014.  Such alignments of Mars take place every 26 months when the Red Planet and the Sun appear on opposite sides of Earth. (Photo from NASA)

Mars aligned with the Earth and Sun on 8 April 2014. Such alignments of Mars take place every 26 months when the Red Planet and the Sun appear on opposite sides of Earth. (Photo from NASA)

As a result of this alignment, Mars was strikingly visible in the night sky.  Mars is approaching its closest distance to Earth which will occur on April 14, 2014, at the time of a Total Lunar Eclipse.  Given the celestial prominence of Mars, astrologers might expect events to occur related to the symbolism of the fiery Red Planet during the first couple weeks of April, 2014.

Mars is the god of war and has to to with all kinds of weapons that spill blood and kill the enemy.  Mars is associated with fires, collisions and violence.  It is also connected with occupations that deal with such things, such as police work, soldiering, and firefighting.  Mars is a macho planet of testosterone, young men, male sexuality, and impulsive behavior.  Its glyph is patterned after the erect male phallus.

The headlines during the week or so surrounding this Earth/Mars/Sun alignment certainly have a Mars-like tone:

  • April 2, 2014 — shootings at Fort Hood.
  • April 6, 2014 — a bored teenager starts a fire in Coney Island Housing Development which results in the death of a police officer who responded to the scene.
  • April 8, 2014:  Mars – Earth – Sun Alignment
  • April 9, 2014 — Obama addresses memorial service at Fort Hood.
  • April 9, 2014 — A teenage male student wielding kitchen knives goes on a stabbing rampage at his high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.
  • April 10, 2014 — Truck collides with bus in California, killing students in a fiery trap.
  • April 13, 2014 — 11 dead in Chile forest fire, 500 homes destroyed.
  • April 14, 2014 – Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in six years, just ahead of a total eclipse of the moon.
Mars, the Red Planet (NASA photo)

Mars, the Red Planet (NASA photo)

On a lighter note, Japan celebrated the symbolism of Mars this week on April 6th with a special festival called Kanamara Matsuri or the “Festival of the Steel Phallus.”  According to the BBC:

“Legend has it that in the 17th Century, prostitutes would pray for protection at Kawasaki’s Kanamara shrine (today, the festival celebrates fertility, relationships and safe sexual practices, including AIDS prevention). The pinnacle of the festival involves carrying an altar in the shape of a penis to the shrine, followed by a parade in which both men and women dress in women’s kimonos and carry wooden penises. Nearly everything in the festival is in the shape of a phallus, from hats to sweets.”

Festival of Kanamara Matsuri celebrated on 6 April 2014.  Photo from Huffington Post.

Festival of Kanamara Matsuri celebrated on 6 April 2014. Photo from Huffington Post.



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A Victim of Popular Astrology

A young man from Spain with whom I correspond about astrology told me the following story.  His mother is a fan of popular “sun sign” astrology.  When he was born with his Sun in Aries, his mother read that as an Aries her son was a natural-born athlete and warrior.  Based solely on his sun sign, his mother pushed him into playing lots of competitive sports, which he did not enjoy.  For the sake of confidentiality I will not reproduce his birth chart but I will discuss it in a general way.

The rest of this young man’s chart was strongly Piscean, and he longed to become a musician.  His Ascending sign was Pisces and he had a Moon/Jupiter/Mercury conjunction in Pisces just above the ASC.  With Moon, Jupiter and Mercury all in Pisces in the 12th Placidean House, his musical interest and creative bent were strongly highlighted astrologically.  Jupiter in Pisces ruled not only his ASC but also his MC and his Whole Sign 10th House of career.  In addition, his artistic and musical Venus in Taurus was sextile to this Piscean conjunction, as was his Mars in Capricorn.  Mars also conjoined the musical planet Neptune.

Young man born with Sun in Aries but with ASC, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury in Pisces.

Young man born with Sun in Aries but with ASC, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury in Pisces.  His mother’s ambition for him is symbolized by Sun in assertive Aries.  His own heart’s desire is revealed by the Ascendant, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury in poetic Pisces.

The conflict with his mother correlated with his natal Saturn in the Whole Sign 10th (mother and career) in square to his Moon/Jupiter/Mercury conjunction in Pisces.  He experienced his Saturnian mother as a rigid and demanding woman who thwarted his love of music and pushed him into competitive athletic situations which he found unpleasant and exhausting.

This man’s assertive drive for independence (Sun in Aries) found expression not in the world of sports but rather in his defiance of his mother’s wishes and his breaking with her to pursue a career in music, much to his mother’s chagrin.  This story is a telling example of the dangers of sun sign astrology, which has been found wanting according to scientific research.  A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Forming judgments on the basis of a single factor in an astrological chart is often misleading and can have untoward consequences, as this young man’s life illustrates.


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Angelo Nasios’ review of Tarot Beyond the Basics

Tarot reader, video maker, and budding author Angelo Nasios posted a review of my new book, Tarot Beyond the Basics, on YouTube.  I’m delighted that he liked the book and had such nice things to say.

Here is a link to Angelo’s review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0cJBo9euCA Angelo Nasios' YouTube Tarot site



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The Two of Wands and the Sadness of Alexander the Great

When Etteilla gathered his meanings for the tarot cards in the streets of 18th century Paris, he found that the common delineation of the Two of Wands was one of sorrow, sadness, dark thoughts, displeasure, and unexpected events.  The Golden Dawn changed Etteilla’s attributions for the Two of Wands to one of dominion, boldness and mastery.

Recently a teacher shared with me a reading in which Etteilla’s meaning of the Two of Wands seemed more appropriate.  This teacher was working part-time but was offered a regular job teaching kindergarten, a grade he had not previously taught.  The job offer included training which would take place in a different city.  He did a 3-card spread to ask how his first day in the kindergarten would go and got:

Emperor – 6 of Cups – Moon

3-card reading for first day as kindergarten teacher, with Two of Wands as a clarification card for the Moon.

3-card reading for first day as kindergarten teacher, with Two of Wands as a clarification card for the Moon.

The Emperor made sense, since as teacher he would be the ‘ruler’ of his classroom.  The children he would teach were shown by the happy kids in the Six of Cups.  The Moon was puzzling but suggested that something was not as it seemed with the job offer.

He drew a clarification card for the Moon and got the Two of Wands, which left him still a bit puzzled.  When he arrived at the job on the first day of work, he was told that the promised teacher training in the other city had been postponed or perhaps cancelled.  This was sad news because he was looking forward to improving his skills to teach a grade he had not taught before.  So here the Two of Wands seemed to imply unexpected sad news or sorrow, as Etteilla had suggested.  A.E. Waite borrowed from Etteilla when he delineated the Two of Wands as “the sadness of Alexander amidst the grandeur of this world’s wealth.”

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