the trinity doughnuts tarot

I began this deck as an exercise in study of the Tarot. I began in 1999 and had intended to finish the deck in time for my 30th birthday in February of 2000. I did not finish until June of 2004.

The deck is relatively traditional, except for the use of the suit “Metals” instead of Pentacles or Coins. I believe I read the phrase “King of Metals” in Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel The Blue Flower, and it stuck with me. In the context of the book, the phrase may have referenced salt as the “metal” in question, and someday I will re-read this book, and discover. I know that at the time I liked the sound of it, and felt it maintained the traditional meaning of the suit.

“Trinity Doughnuts” is the title of an early short story of mine. This story has been anthologized in The Whole Story: Editors On Fiction. It feels old to me now, but eventually, everything will. Including this deck. I hope to make another for myself when I’m in my sixties. I am so happy to see how much this one has met with good “reviews” and experiences – just online!

0. the fool

The journey of the Fool is portrayed frequently in literature and movies. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield is a Fool; so is Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly (both pictured here, in collage; in fact, this illustration from a 1962 edition of Catcher in the Rye was the only attempt ever to make a pictorial representation of Holden; Salinger balked at even this and the cover was eventually taken out of circulation.) Ferris Bueller is a perfect Fool, as is Steve Martin in The Jerk . All of these fictional characters lived not so much beyond their means, but instead, beyond what the average person in their situation might be able to muster in spirit- which makes the lives of Fools appear luxurious, charmed. A combination of luck, the ability to delude oneself, and unbridled desire keep the Fool from falling into despair or complacency. Every time the rug is pulled out from under him, he simply starts over. The Fool is perpetually at Point A.

In it’s most positive aspects the Fool card represents faith in the universe and one’s ability to survive it; that good perpetuates good, trust perpetuates safety, and desire perpetuates attainment. Meditating on the Fool can train one to let go of fears, visualize ones dreams, and seek new beginnings. It is a gift to be so open, even if it is a gift we must remind ourselves to cultivate throughout our lives; and, lest we forget, the attributes that stop us from being continual Fools are also necessary and commendable.

But the Fool is by nature self-important. His own nature leads him to the dangerous ledge of a cliff by choice; what about that little dog that accompanies him in the Waite-Smith deck? Companions may flock to the Fool, but he certainly cannot be depended on to save them as well as himself. Using the literary and cinematic examples set forth earlier, think of how disappointing Fools are, frequently, to those who care for them most.

When we begin a journey, even one that we may eventually deem a triumph, our intentions or goals at the start may be very different than the ones we end up with at the end. In fact, it is possible that none of our original plans may remain intact at all, and yet we may still consider ourselves very successful. Although the Fool goes forth in the world open to possibilities, he does carry some germ of expectation with him. The Fool is a worldly Fool; not in the sense that he has a lot of motherwit (he doesn’t), but in that he is of the material world. In the Waite-Smith deck, the Fool has possessions in a sack, a rather flamboyant outfit, cool boots, and, regardless of how well he his looking out for it, a pet. (Think of this in contrast to the figure representing the World, the last card in the Majors, who has and wears nothing at all.)

Remember that the Fool’s expectations may be unreasonable or pie-in-the-sky, although part of the nature of the Fool is to not look with disappointment on setbacks or twists in the road. This is the beauty of the Fool and the aspect of him that we need to take with us: an ability to leap into the void, assured that we will be rewarded for doing so.

I. the magician

Now I’ve done two tarot decks with Boy George as one of the cards (he is the Ace of Cups in the Eighties Tarot ). I think Magicians in many decks tend to be androgynous figures; perhaps suggesting that they have “all the tools” necessary to create their particular magic, whether all of those “tools” are visible or not. He may be a self-deprecating bundle of contradictions, but the Magician fuses the inspiration with the act. He/She represents the act of creation without hesitation.

The true superhero of the Major Arcana, the Magician represents action and the integration of the corporeal and the ideal. In the Waite-Smith deck, with a raised arm like a lightning rod, he stands in a verdant and Earthly place. He has in his possession the attributes of each suit of the Tarot, giving him limitless potential; this is reinforced by the infinity symbol, like a nimbus, above his head. He is attractive not only because of his powers, but because of his ability to present them in the best light. What he wants you to see, you see. What he wants to hide, you do not. The Magician has both what he can control and what he can’t control working for his side, and what he is trying to activate, and create, is not so much for himself as it is for the enlightenment of others. He has a message, and in a sense he is grandstanding- showcasing himself and his abilities- in a way that can teach and guide and inspire.

Seeing the Magician in your reading gives you an indication that NOW is the moment for something to occur, and that YOU should be prepared to be the one to make it occur — and with all the style you can muster. You have dotted your i’s, crossed your t’s, done a spellcheck and NOW is the time to move ahead — dressed to kill, well fed, and bursting with your own achievements — not only for your own sake, but as an example to those around you. And if there are aspects of your personality or achievements that, shall we say, may not necessarily appeal to the lowest common denominator- well, those aspects should be showcased as beautifully and appealingly as all the others. You, as Magician, do not suffer from a wobbly ego. Someone, somewhere, is bound to laugh at what is most glorious about you. But there is only one Magician, and if it’s you, why should you care who laughs? The Magician knows when the time is right to present his message, and he does not wait for the “appropriate” audience.

An auspicious card, the Magician lets us know how important it is to fuse the inspiration with the act, to work hard in private and present results with a flourish to the public, thereby creating more inspiration, like spores on the wind, for countless others.

II. the high priestess

A portrait of the coronation of Elizabeth I, with the hidden influences of her father Henry VIII and her beheaded mother Anne Boleyn floating over her. Elizabeth had an other-worldly quality that is often seen in those who know, and believe in, their destiny, and who believe that forces they cannot see or touch are guiding them. The High Priestess represents those people and influences.

I like that some of the decks I have used or owned do not feature the High Priestess as a human being. Even in a Waite deck, she is less approachable-looking than other archetypes. The idea that she is not a “normal” person, and therefore is not an entity to be cajoled, reasoned with, or influenced, is fitting. The High Priestess imparts a sense of being borne along, but not heedlessly; instead, one is on a path with one’s particular gifts in mind, and as part of a greater creation. Believing in that, and not feeling the need to prove it, harness it, quantify or qualify it, is the High Priestess taking shape.

III. the empress

I bet a lot of people are the Empress in their own decks. This is a photo taken on the set of the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 1993 production of Eugene Onegin. I churned pretend butter, made pretend jam, and scolded real children, for real.

The Empress is a warm, homey card; easier on the mind than the High Priestess. The Empress is less esoteric, more earthy; less mysterious, more productive; less arch, more luxuriant. The Empress sits at the counter and orders a big banana split in front of everyone; the High Priestess smoulders in a booth with a tablespoonful of cottage cheese and a cling peach half on a lettuce leaf.

The most obvious interpretation where the Empress is concerned is that of pregnancy and fertility. But because, of course, the world is full of people who choose never to be mothers, or parents, at all- or are the males of the species- I offer this quote from the painter Francis Bacon: “Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried, or childless men.”

That throws a whole new spin on the Empress for you. Great Works, those of art or music, cartooning or baking, are of the same merit as children. (I’ve seen many cartoons and baked goods, myself, that I would prefer to children.) The Empress represents all of these endeavors and creations.

There is, of course, a very positive aspect to the physical act of creation and mothering. It can be considered sancitified and holy. But the Empress is not a Planned Parenthood type of mother, who has waited until she got her graduate degree and a matching bedroom set and other “adult”, responsible trappings before bringing forth. There is a down-and-dirty, fecund element to this Empress. She is an archetype- an archetype of creation- and as such, she is not particularly qualitative. She may be whatever idealized, La Leche League incarnation of a mother that you can picture; she may just as easily be a single welfare mother of five. Do not expect the Empress to put the brakes on for you, and tell you when enough is enough. She can’t. It’s not her job.

The other “mothering” aspect of the Empress, outside of creation itself, is the nurturing aspect. The Empress can represent coziness, sensual pleasures, nourishment, and human warmth; a rather ample lap is the focal point of many an Empress card. Still, these tendencies can get out of hand as well. This is, perhaps, where Mia Farrows of the world, or the little old ladies with forty-five cats, come from. Do not ever be fooled by little old ladies with forty-five cats. It is not “love” for forty-five cats that makes them do it. They may think it is, but it isn’t. It is certainly not “responsibility”, either.

But these are extreme examples. For the average functioning human, the Empress card is a signal to call into play the proportionate and reasonable need in all of us to create, and care for what we create. When receiving the Empress in a reading, one should go with the temptation, and promote growth wherever you see fit. Plant something new. Replant something old. Feed the animals. Embrace warmly whatever or whoever needs you.

IV. the emperor

Don Corleone is the Godfather, meta-father and Emperor.

While the Empress nurtures and creates, the Emperor provides structure and guidance for that new growth. The ultimate father figure, he gives order and direction, setting the tone for and regulating the behavior of his charges. He is not a “creator”, but does represent strong authority, and, made to choose between his principals and those to whom he applies them, he will often choose the former. This rigidity does not necessarily imply coldness; the Emperor is capable of giving comfort, and answers, and as long as they are available to him within the confines of his belief system, he will not withhold either.

V. the hierophant

I am sentimental and hyperbolic about a lot of things in life, but neither of those affect the following statement: I truly believe that there is a God is when I listen to Stevie Wonder. It is about the only time when I believe it.

That, in part, is what makes Stevie the Hierophant in the Trinity Doughuts Tarot. Formal belief systems and group identification – particularly those that stress conformity – are represented in traditional decks by the Hierophant. And Stevie, with his love-based view of the world and very inclusion-oriented take on Christianity – is there any better take on Christianity? – is as able as anyone to make us all Jesus Children of America.

The Hierophant card is also indicative of the negative shades in group situations – rigidity, inability to accept individualism, red tape and procedural snags. There’s always a price to pay for belonging. More than the good or bad inherent in it, the Trinity Doughnuts Tarot Hierophant stresses the power – the very persuasive power – of joining.

VI. the lovers

Of every card in the Tarot, I find the Lovers to be the most challenging to represent. All the obvious choices fall flat for me: an Everyman couple, like a plastic bride and groom on a wedding cake, evokes nothing. But do I want to see myself represented on the Lovers card, with a partner? That’s not for me either.

The Lovers card is about more than just partnership and pairing; it’s about the values of individuals. It’s about what, big or small, floats anybody’s boat. After all, that is what navigates lovers, and comes before and extends beyond the act of physical love itself.

With both of those levels of interpretation in mind, the Trinity Doughnuts Tarot presents Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan and the lovely Joanne Woodward as the Lovers. As far as we know, they’re not and have never been. But this is about me. And what I find beautiful. And what floats my boat. We don’t go for the lowest common denominator, the Most Hands Raised Wins, when it comes to love and Lovers. Nor should anyone. Set the mood. Celebrate it with someone for whom the mood clicks. It only takes two.

VII. the chariot/the samurai

There are no “Chariot” images that I have ever found relevant, probably since I don’t drive. This was the first of the three Major Arcana cards I felt it necessary to reinterpret entirely. I have used instead a Ukiyo-e woodcut of a Samurai warrior.

Samurai warriors represent hard, vigilante power; they are all action and no regret. Their authority and their ability to wield it is very much a part of their primary identity; Chariot- or Samurai-style displays of determination do not usually come from individuals whom we do not expect to give them.

Still, within any one person’s sliding scale, this type of self-assertion and willfulness is possible to muster, hopefully for the greater good, although the Chariot/Samurai does not promote “Everybody Wins!” situations or mentalities. When employing this energy, Somebody Loses. When drawing this card, make the decision that it will not be you.

VIII. strength

“A Really Sincere Guy”, on an old pulp novel cover. Not only is he Really Sincere, but He Refused To Compromise. And, from the largest of the illustrations, we can see that he did it with love, compassion, and tenderness.

Unlike the “hard power” of the Chariot/Samurai, Strength can seem yielding, and can certainly be yielded to. It is no less strong for that. If there is a way to assign value to the type of Strength being called for now, in your own reading, you know how to go about it: with respect for boundaries, tolerance, and patience.

IX. the hermit

My dad is the Hermit, looking rather shitkicking and standoffish, with a deaf cat named Eggplant, and some funky fifties wallpaper.

The dichotomy of the Hermit is that he is not only a seeker, but he is also sought out. Hermits are self-reliant, and have the wisdom that comes with solving problems on their own – and the fortitude of spirit that comes from not depending on others for the answers. Yet this ability to be independent does not make Hermits unapproachable. Even though they desire much quiet and seclusion, Hermits are not necessarily hard to get a hold of when you need them. They have a respect for autonomy, their own and that of others.

If the only time you are ever alone is out of necessity, you will never learn the power there is in it. Make time to be alone, make friends with being alone. You will discover that it does important things for you, and that it contributes significantly to the quality of time you spend with others.

X. the wheel/ the mah-jong

I have never had any fondness for games of chance. Not even as a kid. I never learned any card games, really, and didn’t like board games (unless you count the OUIJA board.) But in my twenties, I learned to play, mah-jong, and for me the mah-jong represents the element of chance that the Wheel represents in the traditional Tarot.

As in any game involving both chance and skill, one must use the latter to make the best of the former. “Making the most of the hand you are dealt” involves more than just accepting the hand you are dealt. It means using what others didn’t want to bother with, and surpassing their results with their own chosen tools.

It also means absorbing the elements of your life that have occurred by “chance”, and adopting them, giving them identity and validity as much as you would something you had thought up “on your own”. These “chance” occurrences in life serve to supplement our realm of possibility; they take us to blocks we would never walk on otherwise, bring us people to whom we never would have spoken. And, so often, it is chance occurrences that “bring things together” in a way that seems almost directed from above.

We have every right to believe that, for each of us equally, Everything is Possible. But the wheel only turns so many times for each person, and there are only so many mah-jong tiles to be dealt in each hand, and not a lot of time to waste trying to figure out why someone else got what we thought should have been ours. There is only enough time to make the most of what really is ours.

XI. justice

Doesn’t it seem just? Here Declan MacManus, better known to us all as Elvis Costello, uses one hand to wipe away the tears of both profound sadness and nearly inexpressible joy. The other hand he uses to mete out consequences and rewards for the same. He feels, and he thinks.

Justice is a mirror, and will not seem impassive. Justice cannot take an imbalanced situation and from it create an equitable one; Justice will show the results of whatever actions have previously been taken. No circuitous explanations or codicils will change the effects of those actions, because the reactions they have caused to those around us cannot be amended.

That Justice exists, without exception, is a reminder to us to take responsibility for what we think, say, and do.

XII. the hanged man

My Hanged Man card contains a rather personal image that I have chosen not to share in print. My interpretation of the card, however, is very traditional: it is a call for a suspension of action that is required for a situation to move forward.

XIII. death

An untitled work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. This figure has elements of the skeletal (mortal death) and angelic (spiritual ascention), as well as a strong male presence and an interesting head-on smile. Death is an inescapable transformation. Although something in your life may now be eliminated, and you may mourn it, it is also a starting point for something new. It is about getting rid of dead weight, shedding useless husks, but at the behest of the inevitable rather than of one’s own choosing.

XIV. temperance/sen ba zuru

When I thought about the attributes of the “Temperance” card in traditional decks, I thought not only about the parts that create a whole, and the attention paid to each part; I thought about the way a grand thing gets created in small, slow, private moments, and what is “sacred” about those moments. After all, it is the thought of those extremely unglamorous moments that keep most people from really digging in and doing the things they dream of in life.

I thought Temperance should be represented by the private, personal, and often boring time one has to invest in a work of personal value. I thought this was best illustrated by a 1998-1999 project in which my husband Tim and I folded and hung one thousand origami cranes from the ugly drop-ceiling of our South Philadelphia apartment. Sen ba zuru is the Japanese transliteration for “threaded paper cranes”.

Temperance needs its own card and cannot be replaced by the cards with which it has the most affinity – like the World’s representation of integration, and the Three of Metals’ spirit of collaboration – because Temperance also has a distinct element of quiet, painstaking care to its nature. Temperance is not a result, but the effort and virtue that produces results.

XV. the devil

A green demon from a 1906 advertisement that changed the industry; designed by Leonetto Capiello, “Father of the Modern Poster,” it endeavored to sell quinine and also represents the traditional view of the Devil. Superimposed over this traditional image, gimp informant Roger “Verbal” Kint, in the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, warns of master criminal Keyser Soze; “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

The Devil represents unreigned, imbalanced passion, and ignoring what one knows to be right in pursuit of lustful ventures. Furthermore, as many think of the Devil and Satanism, it represents the finer point of using reasoning to justify one’s misguided actions – and using reasoning to encourage these misguided actions in others. It is the “convincing” that is so sinister: people will always have a list of “reasons” why they do the things that ruin their lives, even when they themselves see the ruin. Run from that logic!

XVI. the tower

The background and yellowish figure are from a drawing by Ralph Steadman; the tower and foreground, by Edward Gorey. Only those unfamiliar with the Tarot think the Death card is “worse” than the Tower. Those who have gotten it, and have gotten it with accuracy, know the Tower is the card you hope to see least in a Tarot reading.

When you are experiencing a shake-up, mental or otherwise, that has your eyeballs rolling around loose in your head; when you find your self wishing, wishing, wishing, things could just be as they were five hours ago, two days ago – and kicking yourself for not having appreciated how good you did have it then – that is the Tower, all over your ass.

XVII. the star

“When (he) shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night…” Wm. Shakespeare.

Jacques Brel is the Star; inspirational, dazzling, relentlessly magnetic and motivating. Have you ever listened to a Jacques Brel recording and gotten the impression that moments before someone in the studio pressed “Record”, Brel himself was handing out the instruments, embracing all involved, and deciding at the last second to chime in on the woodblock himself? He’s almost too much, almost unreal; almost just essence. But very, very powerful essence.

This is not someone – nor is the Star an entity – that has never known worry or grief. But this is the ability to overcome, to look past the pain, to expect and express the joy. It’s not the answer itself, but the spark that generates it. Even if it appears as a small twinkle in the darkness, it is burning furiously.

XVIII. the moon

Boris Karloff died on my birthday, exactly a year before my birth. He is seen here as the fine gentleman that he was, and also as the Grinch, and as Frankenstein’s monster – representing the duality of the Moon card. Boris is fascinating: he is a 20th century cultural representation of Halloween and Christmas both, but the average child cannot identify “Boris Karloff” as a person. His Moon side is their reality; and who he is in reality, is to children, an abstraction – like the Moon.

When drawing the Moon, we can be sure that somewhere in our lives something is not being interpreted as it “really is”. These “false” interpretations or identities may be stimulating for a time being – and freeing – but the feelings they engender cannot be compared to, or judged by the standards of, our “real lives”. And, vice versa. The energy of the Moon is full of imagination and fantasy, but also fosters apprehension and fear. It is everything in life that we do not understand, and yet by which we are entranced.

XIX. the sun

The Sun is represented by the Botan Rice Candy Baby. Botan Rice Candy is a delicious, citrusy candy with an edible rice flour “wrapper” and this extremely cute obese Asian baby on the box. Like the Sun, Botan Rice Candy is sunny, cheery, and always good — plain and simple. It denotes feelings of warmth, health, and success — and, being a Major, pretty substantial helpings of these things.

XX. judgment
Judgment is always sort of a letdown, appearance-wise, in my Waite-Smith deck; the dead with their putty-colored tushes, reaching their arms towards the angel Gabriel. It’s a tad heavy-handed for me.

I use Chet Baker instead of the angel Gabriel, and he trumpets over Heaven, Earth and Hell as depicted by the Reverend Howard Finster. When designing this card, I deliberated: would my angel be a “My Funny Valentine”-era Chet, the Chet of William Claxton’s “Young Chet” series of photographs? Or would it be the grizzled and toothless Chet of the late 1980’s?

When we look for absolution and unburdening, do we look to the young, the old, or the ageless?

I appreciate the vigilante aspect of the Judgment card; the reckoning aspect. Time to separate the wheat from the chaff. When feeling a bit downtrodden, but wondering: is it them, or is it me? the Judgment card is a welcome sight. When I see the Judgement card, I usually know it’s them.

Judgment forces, or allows, one to make decisions.

We are taught, socially, not to “be judgmental”. But life regularly forces us to do just that. Judge this! Make a choice. What are you going to eat? What are you going to buy? Everything is screaming for a verdict. Still, when it comes to people, we are expected to tread more lightly.

I angered a friend by “judging” something he had said, and his behavior. His warning response to me was, “Don’t make me have to be careful of what I say around you.” But what he had said and done affected me; I wanted him to be more careful. He seemed to think he would be punishing me by doing so. That was his best threat; to hide his own unpleasant behavior from me, to deny me access to the “truth” of it.

The freedom of the Judgment card lies in the fact that, in Judgment, there does not necessarily lurk condemnation. People automatically assume the link between judgment and condemnation, and coast on it to their own “benefit”; “If that’s the way you really feel about me, maybe I should withold myself from you.” We don’t go out of the way to hear the truth about ourselves, and we punish those who love us enough to tell it. But see the Judgment card; this is the truth of the matter; Judgment is going to happen, sooner or later, whether we like it or not.

I find that in fiction writing, judgment that is very absolute. If it “just doesn’t work” for your readers, it just doesn’t. There’s no way to sniff out one by one everyone who reads your story and explain your reasons for writing it that way. That’s one of the frustrating and ultimately liberating things about writing fiction; in the long run, you’ve no one to argue with, no one to threaten if they don’t see it your way, and often, no one congratulating you on your vision. You can’t accuse someone of “being judgmental” of your fiction, if what’s really happening is they just aren’t buying what you’re selling. You simply have to accept their judgment.

The Judgment card also signifies one’s acceptance of one’s mortality, and therefore also of one’s immortality. Immortality is pretty relative, and Judgment is rebirth; is hearing the call, knowing what you’ve got to do or say regardless of other peoples’ impressions; an unburdening before the eyes of others. It is the joy of the day of reckoning, in knowing we have been recognized.

XXI. the world

Integration and activity are prime in this view of the World; “everything” is “happening”. Truman Capote scampers joyously through a 1950’s fabric, while Michael Stipe is an orbiting body above. It all comes together perfectly.

Many view the World card as representative of completion, but I like to see it more as a card of universal harmony. In the Major Arcana, the World is what follows Judgment; it’s the day after report-card day. It’s not the clean slate of the Fool card, but more the neatly filled notebook, the expertly wrapped gift, the anonymous black-and-yellow canister of film made into small works of art and memory.

There is a busy quality, and numerous pleasant factors forming a productive whole, in this card that can trumpet both growth and reward to anyone, no matter how grand or modest their situation!

the ace of wands: pure creativity

In response to his social set’s angry reaction to an excerpt of his book, Answered Prayers, raconteur Truman Capote is quoted as saying:

“What did they expect? I’m a writer and I use everything. Did all those people think I was there just to entertain them?”

For Capote, Answered Prayers was to be his A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu ; his entire life (not to mention his perception of many other lives) made a work of art. But not only was Answered Prayers never considered to be Capote’s finest work (he died before its completion and publication), it turned many of his friends into enemies. People felt betrayed by what they saw to be a cold-blooded manipulation of their trust and violation of their confidences, as anecdotes and events that Capote had witnessed in private were made public, with little “fictionalizing” to veil them, and doused in Capote’s nasty wit and Schadenfreude.

Truman Capote is not the first writer to have come up against the challenge of determining How Much Real Life goes into Art of any kind, and whether it is Art or the lives of people, anonymous or otherwise, that deserve the most consideration. Can the skill of the artist itself justify the using the lives of others as fodder for creation? Regardless of the answer, the Ace of Wands represents the force and impulse that will boldly make the effort to find out.

In a writing workshop years ago, I was given a rule of thumb for determining how “good” one’s own story was: it was supposed to make once wince at the thought of letting others read it. If one winced (so I was told), one had probably revealed enough of one’s personal pain – or maybe someone else’s – into the fiction for it to be believable and resonant.

This wincing, indicative of a fear of discovery, is only one of the dials that needs to be fiddled with in the course of creating. The degree of gift that the artist employs will also make the difference – to any audience – between a ranting, blathering piece of gossip and a novel of lasting impact. The degree to which an audience can relate subject matter to their own experience is also a determiner.

But where the Ace of Wands is concerned, none of these factors will come into consideration. The Ace of Wands is purely about the desire — indeed, the compulsion – to create in the first place, regardless of later consequence. The Ace of Wands insists that the scope of the project be enlarged, and does not think about the cost. And the Ace of Wands sits still for no writing workshop.

the two of wands: embarkment

You had a brilliant idea. You fantasized about every phase of it’s culmination; particularly the payoff. You really like this idea of yours, if you do say so yourself. You are great at ideas.

Now you have to make the idea work. Or at least, you have to take the first step in making it work.

You seemed closer to your goal when you were just fantasizing, didn’t you? Now it seems a bit plebeian, a bit beneath you, this first step. Picking up the telephone. Addressing envelopes. Making a to-do list.

Thinking about the Two of Wands, I get a vision of a bunch of garrulous old guys sitting around in a bar, pontificating about their plans and schemes. One face among them grows sharper in focus. It is Thomas Edison. “Fuck this shit,” he says, and he goes home and gets to work.

Lacking in the skill to create an image like that on paper or in pixels, I have used Teaser and the Firecat as drawn by Cat Stevens. This book was given to me by my parents on Valentine’s Day of 1974. The Great Ones are the ones who take the modest first step. The power is in the purpose.

the three of wands: expansion of enterprise

This “Greenwich Village Girl” is broadening her horizons. Once the foundation for enterprise is laid, it’s meet and greet time. Spread out. Look ahead. Latch on to someone or something that can give you a boost. That’s the Three of Wands for you, certainly among the Eight Tarot Cards of Highly Effective People, and probably at the top of the list.

The Three of Wands suggests that it is time to Look Ahead, and to forge a path for those with you. Think now about where you want to be next week, how you are going to get there, and what might stand in your way. The grunt work of the Two of Wands has been set aside for the time being, and careful planning and anticipation of growth are now in the foreground. Use x-ray specs to see into your own future, and get ready to act upon what you see!

the four of wands: celebration

Here we see the Peanuts gang, dancing that way they do. The Four of Wands represents not the final celebration at the end of a project, but the reaching of a plateau that deserves to be celebrated all the same.

There are two words that come to mind whenever I see the Four of Wands; those words are “plateau” and “picnic”. Such a simple, welcome card — one that tells the seeker that while he hasn’t completed his journey, he has taken some steps in the right direction, and now it’s time to celebrate those steps. Reward and acknowledgement at such a time, instead of ducking one’s head and trudging onward towards the goal, reinforces the lesson of being more involved in the process than in the results.

Reward yourself for having come this far! What you’ve accomplished to this point cannot be taken away, regardless of whether or not you “complete” your journey. When I think back on the “golden moments” in my life, they are not always those moments when I’ve finally completed something huge. Those moments, when something really monumental has been completed, are often accompanied by feelings of emotional drain, confusion, and conflict. It shouldn’t be that way, but somehow, it often is; milestones, while they “should” be our finest moments, don’t always feel that way. Sometimes it’s because of the expectations placed on the moments themselves to be perfect. Sometimes it’s because of how hard we have worked, and how much we have sacrificed; we are tired, a little beaten, maybe even a little regretful when coming to the completion of a major function of our lives. But the Four of Wands is about something else entirely- it is about those tiny moments that stick in your memory as celebrations of achievement without all the baggage of conquest.

When you have been working hard and are thinking about nothing but moving to the next level, the Four of Wands will give you an opportunity to take a breather, and then begin again, renewed. It doesn’t have to be the splurge of a lifetime, and probably shouldn’t be. Have a little bit of a moment. It’ll be time to earn it all over again soon enough.

the five of wands: dissent

Punks go home! It’s irritating, yes, but it’s hardly the end of the world. Nagging, cankerous troubles are at hand, and the methods through which you are expressing your distaste for them may just overstate things a bit.

It’s not that nothing’s the matter – plenty is always the matter! But, where the Five of Wands appears, recognize that the reaction you are having may comprise a larger portion of the entire pie than usual. You are not “fighting back” – you’ve flung yourself into the fray.

Whatever, if you feel like it. Sometimes the pissy little problems the world gives us DO make us want to flail around and kick stray dogs. (Figuratively. The Trinity Doughnuts Tarot would only ever endorse the kicking of any dog figuratively.) But when you really want things to be different, you’ll look for a better “answer” than snarling and kind of admiring yourself for it.

the six of wands: acclaim

This is a somewhat stretched interpretation of a painting by Stuart Davis (b. 1892, Philadelphia), called, aptly, “Visa”. The word CHAMPION appears prominently, and that word illustrates what the Six of Wands acknowledges; a clear victory, recognition from others and for oneself; pride, and the festivities that come with a big win.

Praise, applause, and the general appeal of being lauded are apparent in this card. But the feeling the Six of Wands brings to the querent needs to be tempered with modesty. Arrogance and condescension may be evident, as well as a palpable achievement.

the seven of wands: defiance

The gorgeous Maori, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, are bold and proud. Queequeg of Moby Dick was a Maori, and the hardships and indefatigable spirit of the Maori are celebrated in the wonderful novel and movie Once Were Warriors. The Maori represent the Seven of Wands, and the Seven of Wands represents the steadfast forward battle.

The Seven of Wands tells of digging in one’s heels and fighting for what one believes in. It is the unyielding stance of someone dedicated to a win/lose situation. The Seven of Wands can be, and frequently is, simultaneously on the offensive and the defensive. Those taking the energy of the Seven of Wands to heart will be prepared both to attack and to protect, and to make no compromises.

No authority, threats, or odds will give pause to the Seven of Wands. For good, or for bad.

the eight of wands: revelation

In a cartoon by Czech cartoonist Miroslav Bartak, something unexpected is about to be revealed. Some call the Eight of Wands the “orgasm card”, and I suppose I see the point. It is the idea of a force other than ourselves, delivering something of excitement, that I believe marks the Eight of Wands.

Eric Ganther, in the “Cosmic Tribe Tarot” text, speaks of “peak experiences” in relation to the Eight of Wands. There are numerous references in other decks to movement and travel in connection with this card, as well as getting news or information that enables one to move ahead on their own with a project or relationship. The Waite-Smith illustration of the eight wands sailing through the air serves to heighten that impression. I’ve always thought of the Eight of Wands as a card that might herald something good coming along in the mail.

Although many do not use tarot for divination or predicting the future, this is one of the cards in the deck that clearly tells of something coming from somewhere else. It’s a difficult card to try to internalize: you can’t “be” Eight of Wands throughout the course of your day. It would seem that you are the one waiting for the Eight of Wands to come to you. But if you find it necessary to take the energy of a card into your own hands, I would consider this card a “take action” card — a “Carpe Diem” card. As the line from one of my favorite old Squeeze tunes goes, “You have to throw the stone to get the pool to ripple.” The Eight of Wands is the stone that you did not have the day before, the stone that came from somewhere outside- and throwing it, or pocketing it, is the choice given each of us.

the nine of wands: perseverance

I believe this is one of the very last cards I came up with a correlative for, and since the images for the Trinity Doughnuts deck are supposed to represent things of significance in my life up to the time I turned thirty, Tony Soprano was just under the wire. (Although, as of this writing, I look at this picture and realize how much younger the man looks than he does now. Which goes to show how long it takes to make a Tarot deck.)

I love how closely Tony’s face mirrors the look of the traditional, Waite-deck Nine of Wands figure. Here is a person who is constantly on guard, and with good reason; he has a very good memory for previous grievances. Experience tells him to expect the worst, but he is not so beaten down that he had had the fight wrung out of him. On the contrary, he is still a pugilist, if only barely holding himself together for that purpose.

Keep your guard up, and use the last bit of energy in you to come out swinging.

the ten of wands: strain

Smiling, seminal rock critic Lester Bangs poses in the street. But to one who looks quickly, the city bus behind Bangs creates a line across his shoulders, as though he is carrying a heavy cross. The Ten of Wands denotes an overburdened mind on the brink of collapse. Frenzied activity, even that which produces great works, will end in a depletion not only of resources but in the structure of the human vessel in which it is contained. Plans, ideas, worries have reached critical mass. It is time to pull back and lighten the load.

the princess of wands: enthusiastic beginner

Parker Posey declares the courage of her convictions in an equally courageous room designed by Kaffe Fassett. Creativity and passion, the kind that can fill a space with its warmth and infect those nearby with similar excitement, are hallmark attributes of the Princess of Wands.

There are times when an ideology, a manner of speech, or a hat can be made fashionable — not so much by their own power, as by the power of the person who engages them and models them for the world. The Princess of Wands is the perfect individual for this job. She herself is young and uncommitted, almost without reputation, and so her opinions and allegiances seem particularly fresh and unfettered.

The one expectation one can have of the Princess of Wands is that she will take risks, and be confident in them. She believes so strongly in whatever she is saying, wearing or preaching that it leaves no room for doubt, and is carried off with perfect aplomb. Meditation on the Princess of Wands reminds us that it is our enthusiasm and outright flair that carries the ensemble, as much as the cut and color of the pieces themselves.

the prince of wands: sentimental swashbuckler

The very first time I heard the singing voice of Rufus Mc Garrigle Wainwright, I was absolutely enchanted. I sang his praises to everyone, and broke the bank at a very meager financial time to get second row seats to see him perform at the Theatre of the Living Arts in, I believe, February of 1999. As my then-husband and I lingered in Tower Books on South Street waiting for the concert to begin, there was Rufus as well – less than 20 minutes before he was due onstage, alone, with a small plastic bag from the Rite Aid, which contained a bottle of Nyquil that he took out to inspect.

Reading about Rufus in magazines, it seemed a good idea to keep one’s fingers crossed in hopes that he would live to be thirty. Luckily, he has, but not without a bottoming-out and a rehab stint in Hazelden, about which he was quoted as saying, “There’s no such thing as a casual crystal meth user.” It would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic.

The Prince of Wands runs the dangerous cycle of glamorous and sought-after to superficial and self-involved; of exciting and daring to reckless and teetering; of the impetuous and passionate to the overwhelmed and overwhelming. His highs bring beauty to the lives of those around them, and his lows may destroy the relationships he depends on the most. His energy is of the vital and often envied type that can burn itself out much too soon, but to expect him to be otherwise is folly. It is only important to attempt to deal separately with his dark and light sides to appreciate him as both Human and Spirit.

the queen of wands: golden muse

In the Trinity Doughnuts Tarot, the Queen of Wands is jazz chanteuse Diana Krall – beautiful on the outside, compelling on the inside, with such broad appeal that you’d wonder if she wasn’t a shape-shifter, to be so agreeable to so many. She appears (in her Trinity Doughnuts Tarot incarnation) rather distorted and larger-than-life; still, her looks can be described as “traditional” or “classic”. She is a prom queen-type, who probably loved horses and ballet lessons as a child, and has never had a mohawk or a pierced lip — but she is in no way “sanitized” or watered down. She is unique in her charms.

People gravitate towards this Queen because her beauty reflects outward – she is an ideal to strive for while simultaneously making those around her feel good about what they already are and have achieved. Seeing the Queen of Wands in a reading may suggest the presence or importance of a person in your life who embodies the attributes of this Queen, or it may suggest that you as the querent should put her perspective to work for you. Energetic but unimposing, strong but nonjudgmental, all her strength lies in her positive attitude towards herself and others.

the king of wands: ironfisted charismatic

The American author, Nelson Algren, winner of the very first National Book Award (for The Man With The Golden Arm), is my King of Wands. Algren was a champion of the weak, with a big chip on his shoulder that he turned into beautiful, gritty prose. The quote on the card, from the eminently quoteable Algren, reads: “The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer in all ages of man.”

While not pictured on the card, there is someone else who would make a great King of Wands in my mind: anyone who’s grown up in the 1970’s watching Sesame Street will recognize, by description if not by name, Don Music.

Don Music was always seated at a piano, “composing” a song that everyone else knew had already been written; something like “Mary Had A Little Lamb” or “Yankee Doodle”. He was always completely swept up in the creative process, nearly bursting with invention; invariably, he would get to the last word or phrase of the song (“Stuck a feather in his hat and called it… and called it… ”) and be unable to “complete” it. Having lost his muse, he would then slam his head repeatedly onto the keys of the piano in frustrated cacophony.

This is the King of Wands. He epitomizes charm and wit, creativity and passion, but in a flamboyant and extremely spontaneous way. Lacking the outlet for his creativity, he will burst immediately into what may look like retaliation, but is really just a very self-centered frustration. Like all court cards, he represents not a real person, but a composite or generalization of a type of person. Like all Kings, he represents the height or mastery of his suit, which in this case, being the creative, does not by any means make him a “balanced” entity.

Whereas the Ace of Wands would indicate the fullness of the creative life in its potential, the King of Wands indicates the fullness of the creative life in expression, and in doing so reflects back onto the person doing the creating; the “moody, artistic type” who, even so, does get the job done. It represents the strong personality associated with the creative mind; a bit bossy, impetuous, and operating with a passion and gregariousness that has, underneath it, a bit of frenzy, a bit of tyranny.

But the King of Wands is not a blowhard; he is intuitive as well as charming. He is sincere in his boldness, and in his ability to instill enthusiasm in others.

the ace of cups: pure emotion

The Incredible Hulk is about as emotional as anyone can get. The Ace of Cups represents strong, new experiences in this realm.

When I got married in 1994, I believed that it was nearly, if not entirely, the end of the road for me in terms of love and discovery. I was in love with my husband, and therefore was not going to fall in love with any other man or woman; we either would or we would not have children, and, I supposed, if we did so, it was their faces that would be the last I would ever fall in love with.

I proved myself right for about four years. I didn’t fall in love with anyone else, on any level. I was enjoying the benefits of having found my mate for life, and was enjoying more partnership and affection than I ever had before.

But my fiction writing was suffering for it. The things I wrote seemed lackluster to me, and when a batch of stories returned from an editor with a note stating that they didn’t have the “edge” of some of my “earlier work”, I was truly terrified. I was twenty-five years old, and already somebody was saying my “earlier work” was better! Although I didn’t immediately make the connection, I was denying myself of the energy of the Ace of Cups.

Aces are about beginnings, potentials, and the pure energy of a given force (in the case of the Cups, the force is emotion). When we are single, we look for love, or facets of love: intimacy, truth-telling, companionship — everywhere. In this process of mining, we do find our friends, and sometimes even our enemies, in addition to our partners.

When I found my husband, I stopped looking. I stopped flirting. I stopped trying to see people through new eyes. Everyone I knew had been relegated, by me, to the position where they would always remain. I grew rigid towards letting any more new people into my life. The spring of curiosity had dried up. My relationships changed, on account of my marriage, the way the molecular construction of water is said to change when you squirt a lemon wedge into it.

Thankfully, for my writing and for my own personal satisfaction, something changed a few years into my marriage. I felt, for lack of a better word, stirrings. Stirrings for people that, strangely, I had known for years, and had even applied the word “love” to, in a detached, pigeonholing sort of way. These new feelings were not unlike crushes, except for the fact that they held no erotic tension. They were like finding a rock and holding it up to the sun, surprised to find how pretty it is, and how much light comes through.

Being able to rediscover these mini- “in loves” kickstarted my fiction writing again. It was very liberating to see them for what they were and to be able to channel them into something productive and satisfying. It was the energy of the Ace of Cups that was the basis for these “new” feelings, which were not new, but enabled me to see the relationships refreshed.

My husband (who is my ex-husband now), found a quote by Martin Buber that he felt described this: “All real living is meeting.” Another of my favorites is from Guy de Maupassant: “The best part of love is walking up the stairs”. I think both of these sum up the energy of the Ace of Cups rather well, and make sense to those of us who relish those moments spent with individuals before we can call them our friends, or lovers, or family.

the two of cups: attraction

And Asta makes, technically, three: Nick and Nora Charles are the Two of Cups, representing connection and attraction, partnership and union. The bond of the Two of Cups doesn’t have to be romantic, necessarily, although what it produces may be beautiful and fulfilling. It can be a bond between people, and often is, but it may also be a joining of ideas, factions, or talents. It is, though, a strong bond, and usually one noticeable to the world at large. Sparks are flying. And those outside of this powerful Two of Cups bond may be ducking to avoid those sparks: in fact, it is important to keep in mind that as much as the Two of Cups emphasizes the bond between two entities, it may also illustrate the exclusion of those outside of the bond. Look to other cards in the reading to see how relevant this indication may be: this meaningful pairing may not be without consequence.

the three of cups: community

The goofy thrill of a contact high. What better to represent both community and celebration than a “Pajama Party”? The Three of Cups celebrates the energy created when friends are together. It’s not necessarily the productive working relationship of the Three of Metals, but rather the bond brought about by shared confidences and good times, fun and relaxation, and stimulating rapport. Seeing the Three of Cups in a Tarot reading means it’s time to get out and do whatever you (and your friends) call fun! That giddy contentment is the balm you, or they, need now.

the four of cups: brooding

Some of us start the most trouble for ourselves when life’s too good; like a tantrum-prone girl sweeping clear her vanity, shattering glass perfume bottles and upturning powder puffs, to clear a space upon which to sob.

Johnny Rotten may never have been in this position himself, but he has always been quick to point it out in others. When you stop seeing the good in your life, and can’t do anything but whine about how hard you have it, that’s the Four of Cups.

The best of what we have will sometimes poison us, if we are complacent. The Four of Cups tells us we have been looking too deeply inward, and that it is time to engage ourselves, outside of ourselves.

the five of cups: bereavement

In the Waite-Smith Five of Cups, a man grieves, ostensibly for the three spilled cups to the left of him. They have stained the ground with their contents.

Two cups still stand behind this man, but he is not interested in them, or he is unaware of them. Upright or not, they are as empty, apparently, as the overturned cups. Maybe there is a tiny bit left in them, but it isn’t visible. All the cups may, of course, be refilled; if not with wine, with water; a stream runs directly in front of the scene.

In the Trinity Doughnuts Five of Cups, we see the painting Composition for Clarinets and Tin Horn , 1951, by Ben Shahn (1898-1969). The five black clarinets are ominous. Either mistakes have been made, or fate has intervened. But the tin horn, with its clowny image, suggests that all is not lost.

As is often true with the minors, the Five of Cups is best looked at in combination with other cards, where it can bring a deeper and more focused meaning to a reading. Near the Tower or Death, the Five of Cups can represent a tangible, corporeal loss. Near the Nine of Swords, it may indicate more of a loss of an idea, or a defeat of the mind. Near Judgment, the Five of Cups may be buffered by a sense of absolution or forgiveness.

Implied in the Five of Cups is the sense that while we may grieve or be disappointed, we must also consider the retrieval of what we have lost. “Crying over spilt milk” is very close to what the figure on the Waite-Smith card is engaged in. Something has been lost, but the spell of worrying over if and when it will be lost is now also broken. It is time to pick up and go on.

the six of cups: childhood

“Life is the childhood of our immortality”, said Goethe. In the Six of Cups, a gaggle of children (illustrated by Arthur Rackham) cavort beneath a Quisp cereal box. The Six of Cups is representative of the pleasure that comes from nostalgic experiences.

In a reading, this card may suggest viewing a concern or situation with innocent eyes; it may suggest doing good, concentrating only on the good that you see, or just opening up and having fun. It is a delicate card, easy to understand, and yet challenging to put into action.

Think back to when you were little. Do something, play something, eat something, read something that brought you joy and safety during that time. Doing so will adjust your outlook and perspective.

the seven of cups: excessive possibilities

Nothing juxtaposes delight and peril like mysterious dumplings, chicken feet, and the other treasures of dim sum. With dim sum, as with the Seven of Cups, satisfaction is not derived from the variety and number of options you have; but from the choices you eventually make. This card warns against excess and dissolution and speaks to situations where the whole will be less than the sum of its parts, so focus, and choose your parts wisely to come away satisfied.

the eight of cups: abandonment

Here a young Terence Stamp turns his back on the corporeal world, to instead embrace the spiritual. Or is that too easy? The structure behind him, to which he looks back with some longing, is in fact a house of worship. Perhaps Terence turns from the spiritual – from the generally accepted Good Thing – and towards something we can’t see or determine the worth of.

The Eight of Cups often represents walking away from a “good” thing. It also demonstrates a situation where energy is being poured into an activity or belief that isn’t holding that energy, much less giving it back. When people, or part of yourself, exclaim, “You’re risking a lot to walk away from this!” you’re in Eight of Cups territory. Even if turning your back leaves a void, sometimes a void is necessary – to be filled by something better, for which there was previously no room. Be brave. Create the void.

the nine of cups: wish

In the Waite deck, the “owner” of the Nine of Cups looks pleased indeed; but as an individual, he does not look particularly admirable or likable. (The same could be said of these Andrew Wyeth jack o’lanterns). Self-satisfaction, smugness, vindictiveness, complacency – maybe it is our response to getting what we want that gives us pause when seeing the Nine of Cups in a reading. Our reaction to this “good thing” may lead us down a dangerous path; there is the possibility that what we wish for will be something we wish we hadn’t, before long.

To move one card ahead for the sake of comparison, the Ten of Cups is about getting what we need. The Nine of Cups is about thinking we have gotten what we need, and our behavior when we think we have gotten what we need. It is a fine distinction and one to be wary of.

the ten of cups: security

Having all of our needs met, and then some, can make us feel very rich indeed. The Ten of Cups shows a bustling but orderly scene: parents are seated at the ends of the table, a little dog appeals to his mistress for treats, and the children are attended by spotlessly appointed servants. It is a portrait universally understood to illustrate a family of good fortune. There is plenty for everyone, and yet there is nothing immodest about the bounty.

The material wealth of those represented in the Ten of Cups bears no strain upon their relationships with one another. It is a card of spiritual and emotional strength as well as one of earthly satisfaction. It is easy to imagine that this family would still be relaxed and full of joy if their home wasn’t quite so beautiful, and their stomachs weren’t quite so full. It is, after all, health and happiness, not mantle clocks, that money can never buy. The Ten of Cups represents the best of what can, and what can’t, be bought, and the security that comes with it.

the princess of cups: beautiful dreamer

Though her public life began with all the trappings of beauty and fame, Zelda Fitzgerald suffered severe bouts of mental illness and disfiguring eczema, and harbored dreams of becoming a professional ballerina at an age at which she would ever have a chance of succeeding. Her greatest final efforts were in attempting, from a physical and emotional distance she could not bridge, to manage the perception of herself had by her family. Giving whimsical. coquettish and thoroughly outdated advice to her maturing daughter, and trying to recreate a mood of romantic love between herself and Scott, she died in a hospital fire, her former glamour reduced to scrapbooks and paper dolls . “Nobody has measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”

While the person in your life represented by the Princess of Cups card may have a reputation for being “flaky”, he or she is just as likely to be authentically “in touch” with something outside of the realm of reality. The Princess of Cups is generous with her knowledge, will demonstrate intimacy at the drop of a hat.

The dichotomy is that, while he or she often demonstrates an ability to “know” more about people than they themselves know – with real accuracy – the Princess of Cups is also someone often unwilling to relate to reality. Their emotional needs are involved and demanding and are sometimes met at a high price to others.

the prince of cups: romantic idealist

Here’s Woody Allen going down the corridor leading to the restrooms at the Café des Artistes, or maybe Elaine’s. He’s excused himself from the table and is headed to the Men’s Room to compose himself emotionally, and maybe to splash a little cool water on his face. As the Prince of Cups, he enjoys eating in the finer places, but his tendency towards emotionality may leave him (and his date) exhausted before the appetizer has been served.

The Prince of Cups feels things deeply, and doing so affects him, body and soul. Prone to depression, hypochondria and exaggeration, he does also embody a warm, Christmas-y, over-the-top persona that values beauty, love, and truth above all other things. A refined environment in which to self-analyze, and listen to the problems of others, is necessity, not luxury, to this Prince. Like all Princes, he is best taken in small doses, and regardless of whether his “good” or “bad” side is apparent upon first meeting him, the other shoe is bound to drop soon enough.

the queen of cups: empath

A distorted view of a nativity scene painted by Zelda Fitzgerald is in the background of this card; in the foreground, a marble statue titled “Baby Whale Angel” that was sculpted for me as a gift, from a guy named Taras. He drove a truck for a bakery where I worked. We had a conversation once, and next thing I knew, I had this statue.

The Queen of Cups is an empath, someone who is not always part of the mechanations of other peoples’ lives, but actively drawn into their emotional aspect.

She is sensitive to the fact that she does not “belong” in many ways. But in the ways that she can relate, she is a healer and a receptor, and she can create for herself a whole world from the feelings of those around her.

If you sense there may be a Queen of Cups in your life, or in your Tarot spread, look for someone who perhaps doesn’t seem to “fit” well with your likes, dislikes, or social patterns, but seems to care for you for no reason other than that they just do. In fact, sometimes it seems that this person must have no life of her own, considering how interested she is in yours. Most people do not see this as a fault, and seek this Queen out all the same. Her reward is in seeing your gentlest part, and in being trusted with it.

the king of cups: healer

F. Scott Fitzgerald, as pictured on an edition of his last collected volume, The Crack Up. Looks healthy, no? The King of Cups is a caretaker, often to his own disadvantage. He will choose to heal those he loves before he heals himself. He takes the suffering of others to heart, is accepting of other’s foibles, and is a calming, compassionate influence on those around him. As an indicator for a real-life person in a reading, the King of Cups may represent a person who has a problem with alcohol.

The King of Cups is a reminder to accept the shortcomings of others, but I also feel it suggests a warning against dependence on the shortcomings of others, for the purpose of making oneself feel stronger. Provide stability and caring to those around you, but do not surround yourself with those you perceive to be “broken” merely because you are in love with their predicament. And be very careful of how dependent you yourself, when in need, may become on such a person.

the ace of swords: pure intellect

A portrait of postmodernist British author Martin Amis. The quote is the last paragraph of his 1989 novel, London Fields:

“So if you ever felt something behind you, when you weren’t even one, like welcome heat, like a bulb, like a sun, trying to shine right across the universe- it was me. Always me. It was me. It was me.”

The Ace of Swords is the sword of truth; the proceeding to correct a wrongdoing, or discover the facts about a situation through the use of logic, reason, and analysis. It can also denote a violent temper. There are no setbacks for the person in an Ace of Swords mindset, because the Ace of Swords does not allow for setbacks.

To receive a reading featuring the Ace of Swords is an indication to address your problems incisively, swiftly, and without undue emotion. Do not treat challenges as punishments, but rather as opportunities for growth and the honing of a sharp mind.

the two of swords: impasse

In the Trinity Doughnuts deck, the Two of Swords is represented by a pair of trainer-chopsticks, meant for a baby’s use. Though these have cuffs on them, to put little fingers in, this “adaptation” serves the hopes of the adult more than it does the skill level of the intended user. If you want a baby to use chopsticks, your best bet is to wait until he isn’t a baby anymore.

In the Waite-Smith deck, a woman in white sits on the shore. A thin moon is in the sky behind her, and two swords in her hands are crossed before her breast. The blades are not protecting her- they are above her, in the air. It is only with her own arms that her heart is covered. Her protectiveness, or bondage, is self-imposed. It does not require the swords in her hands. She could be holding flowers, carrots, featherdusters, or chopsticks. So why does she hold anything at all, if it can’t be used for its intended function?

Is this woman being held prisoner by her circumstances, or only by her feelings about her circumstances? Is she stubbornly refusing to address an issue in her life, thinking herself to be armored against attack, when in fact her stubbornness is stronger than her instruments of defense?

When the Two of Swords appears in a reading, it is a sign of a blockage. You, very likely, know that you are blocked; but it possible that the circumstances to which you are attributing your reticence or blockage are not really those to blame.

It may be a situation in which you do not particularly want to move ahead. Perhaps you know there is an undeniably unpleasant step to follow. The Two of Swords in this case will serve perhaps to remind you to face and acknowledge your own situation without blaming or hiding behind other people or circumstances. To lie to oneself is self-defeating. Accept the instruction of the Two of Swords the first time it appears, to you to avoid being your own prisoner.

the three of swords: heartbreak

No flowers, champagne, caviar or jewelry, but “Hot Bullets For Love”. What’s over is over; what hurts, hurts. Now’s probably not even the time to hear that it might have been for the best. Sometimes, the most important thing to do is admit to the pain.

the four of swords: moratorium

Consider the stillness of these four warriors; two of them are in downright repose. The two on top look a little more alert; they are stepping back from active duty, but clearly, they are still giving it some thought.

Either way you take your rest, the Four of Swords imposes a moratorium; even if (especially if) it seems difficult to do so. Stop for a minute, or maybe even a day or a week. Think over what you have been doing. Think about what will come next. Consider all options. Plan. It’s necessary – challenging, but necessary. You are no less a warrior for it.

the five of swords: slander

This card features a costume sketch for the character of Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The first love of my life, quite unrequited, played Malvolio in a boarding school production of this play in 1985. The character is a peevish and rigid steward, who is mocked and tricked into wearing yellow stockings and cross-garters.

This high school experience was my earliest and most memorable introduction to Shakespeare. Twelfth Night is full of people scheming to make one another look and feel foolish, and the Five of Swords is here to ask: Who are you talking bad about? Who is talking bad about you?

When people put their own needs and comforts first, it is usually at the cost of someone else’s. If you rise to victory on the backs of others, or if you make a goal of seeing another brought low, you have had no real victory. Even though the Five of Swords may indicate a need to make a priority of your own interests, know that if you hurt others in the securing of them, it will come back to you, in a way that will surely make you squirm.

the six of swords: recovery

“He likes your lemonade.” My favorite line in my favorite scene from Lawrence of Arabia. Laurence, of all people, can tell you how good lemonade tastes after a long trek in the desert.

When you have had it rough, the Six of Swords offers some refreshment, however temporary. The card represents a journey of recovery, of leaving trouble, and of putting the pieces back together. From a distance, it might look like luxuriating, or idling, and part of us may even “enjoy” or look forward to the ritual, but really, there’s usually something else we’d rather be doing. We only began this journey to escape or heal from something worse. We’re on an upswing, but we’ve only just begun to be.

At the same time, we can become nostalgic, sentimental for, or even “miss” the most difficult periods of our lives. We remember feeling comfort most when we are in a position to need comfort most. The memory of the pain dissipates, while the memory of the care provided remains. The Six of Swords is definitely a “sick day” card.

We are not at our best, perhaps, when shivering, languishing, itching, regaining our breath, and moving away from trouble, but we also know that we are heading into a better place, a stronger place, with the Six of Swords: a place where we can alight, stretch, and face our once again altered lives.

the seven of swords: deception

Know how it is when you know something isn’t right, and yet you just go on as though it is?

It will snowball on you eventually. Rosemary Wodehouse figured it out, perhaps a little too late.

The Seven of Swords is here to tell you that someone has a hidden agenda. Be sure you are not playing along with it. Be even more sure that you are not creating it.

The Seven of Swords may also indicate an unhealthy self-isolation brought about by the desire to hide one’s poor performance, or bad behavior – an avoidance or procrastination built on fear of discovery. If tongues are not already wagging, they probably will be, and this kind of retreat will solve nothing. Consider yourself warned.

the eight of swords: powerlessness

I doubt that either Gertrude Stein, as the subject, or Cecil Beaton, as the photographer, intended this image to represent “powerlessness”; yet what seems illustrated here is the Self that is imprisoning the Self.

The isolation that may have been self-imposed in the Seven of Swords has now, in the Eight of Swords, become an involuntary commitment. Previous motivations, platitudes and dogma meet deaf ears and stir no spirit. The stark and restrictive peril of the Eight of Swords cries out for intervention; the querent must look for help outside of himself.

the nine of swords: anguish

The statues on Easter Island are called Moai. When I was very little — the age I was in the picture on this card – the door to my parents’ bedroom was held open with a Moai doorstop which I called the Rock Man. He gave me terrible nightmares in which he chased me, and ate my fists. Why my fists?

In the Nine of Swords, like in the Eight, we are plagued by our own worries; but now, instead of just seeming like an extension of ourselves, our worries have taken on the face of another. Now that we believe them to come from an outside source, we are not only suffering from the stresses and sadnesses we know individually; they seem to have amassed an identity that weighs on us, lives with us, as though it were another being.

When our problems become a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, the worst thing it takes from us is our faith in our ability to conquer it. Though we all must live with disappointments and hardships that dart in and out of our daily lives, we do not need to share our homes with anguish. It may take more than just a new, upbeat attitude to dispel these shadows, but they should not be imbued with more power than is their due.

the ten of swords: bottom

For years, when I lived at 8th and Christian Streets in South Philadelphia, there was a black chicken who lived amongst the pigeons in the municipal parking lot across the street. The Fleischer Art Memorial, opposite this parking lot, unofficially adopted the chicken as their mascot, and called her Greta.

After years of neighborhood amusement and pride at having a chicken hanging out on the streets of South Philly, she was killed by a group of teenagers, who not only stomped Greta to death, but poured soda over her body, in mindless desecration. These acts spawned newspaper articles and a large wire memorial made by the childrens’ art classes at the Fleischer, entitled WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO KILL A CHICKEN?

When I began night rally magazine at the turn of the century, I made Greta the magazine’s mascot and logo as well. To this day, I enjoy and gather images of black chickens. Greta represents the Ten of Swords in the Trinity Doughnuts Tarot.

The third card in a progression beginning with the Eight of Swords, the Ten of Swords represents absolute rock bottom. It is a step “down”, even from the depressing cards before it – which also illustrate degrees of self-doubt and despair. But what separates the Ten from the cards preceding it is the important distinction that, unlike the Eight and Nine, doubt is cast on the “validity” of what the Ten of Swords appears to represent. There is a sense of melodrama, victimization, martyrdom, and self-imposition that is lacking in the other cards.

The Ten of Swords in a reading may represent suicides or suicide attempts; weakness, slipping reality, an irrational mind making poor choices. There may be cause for intervention.

The Ten of Swords may also represent a person who tends to throw a medicine ball of self-involvement into every situation. This person would like nothing more than to know someone was seeking help for them: knowing that, in fact, is much more important to them than doing anything on their own to improve their situation.

While the Eight and Nine of Swords, and the feelings attributed to them, can be justified by implied situations, the Ten of Swords, while it may or may not represent a truly unpleasant situation, it always asks for that situation to be scrutinized: for drama, self-pity and an almost suspicious lack of perspective.

the princess of swords: champion of the cause

My Taskmaster Mammy Voodoo Doll was made for me by Lisa Annelouise Tomer. It’s shouting: write stories about people you know! Reward the good and tattle on the bad! Be vindictive and loving and prolific! Work! Make stuff out of your feelings!

It’s a taskmaster of a doll, and it’s the Princess of Swords.

The Princess of Swords is that little voice that tells you to face facts, speak up for yourself, refuse to fall for the party line, and keep it in motion. Although the quote does not appear on the card, Albert Camus said, “The nobility of our calling will always be rooted in two commitments difficult to observe: refusal to lie about what we know and resistance to oppression.”

Listen to the little voice.

the prince of swords: revolutionary

Listen you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is someone who stood up.

Where Pages represent the purest and most primal aspects of a suit, Knights seem to be in the “terrible twos”. They have had a little time to become familiar with what they embody, but as Knights, they are immoderate and they lack balance. A Knight can represent a person who has desirable and sought-after qualities, but who also makes people “pay” to access those qualities with other, negative aspects of his personality. The traits for which he is most admired are only a tweak away from the qualities that people find intolerable in him.

In the case of the Knight of Swords, a suit that focuses on intellect and reason, we see someone who has the ability to be authoritative, analytical, forthright, and intelligent. But he is an immature Knight; his good qualities are shadowed by his perhaps cold and insensitive nature, a need to be right, bossiness, even mean-spiritedness towards those he perceives to be of lesser ability than himself. He can be dogmatic and hasty to judge others, even though often he is correct in his judgments. He has a revolutionary nature, but not everyone loves a revolutionary.

Like Travis Bickle, the Prince of Swords is a little too intense, a little too condemning, a little too cold. But also assertive, assured, and full of belief. Breathing hard, hiccuping, and ready to leap in body and voice.

the queen of swords: armored motherwit

“Don’t Ever Love Me” proclaims this Queen. She is a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks, she has never been the same fool twice, she has seen all the tricks and… (insert various other brassy clichés here.)

The Queen of Swords can dish it out as well as take it, but she isn’t meanspirited. You can expect her to treat you honestly and with humor, and can be assured that she will turn her experiences into knowledge that she will be quick to share – and this is the way in which you can emulate her. Use your past hardships as curricula for the masses. Say it with a smile, but not a fake one. Don’t sugar coat, don’t blow smoke up anyone’s ass, and be a living monument to the fact that Experience is Beautiful.

the king of swords: unbiased judge

“Dispassionate” is perhaps not the word you would use to describe the face you see before you: that of Inter-gender Wrestling Champion of the World Andy Kaufman. But you must admit that his standards are unflinchingly high and incorruptible, and that he allows there to be absolutely no question about what it is he believes in and stands for. His arguments – and incitements – could certainly be described as “compelling”. He talks the talk and walks the walk. And he draws others to him with, if not his ironclad logic, his ironclad innuendo. These are all the things a King of Swords provides and synergizes, and this combination provides an unlikely, yet logical, sense of positivity and, yes, fairness. Fairness above all.

the ace of metals: fiat lux

The image is a print called “Easter Morning” by James Arthur. It is a sepia-toned photo of a little girl hatching from an egg. This print lived in an aunt’s apartment when I was a child, and then when I moved out on my own I found a copy for myself. I’ve kept it on the wall everywhere I’ve ever lived.

The Ace of Metals (or Coins, Pentacles, Matter, etc.) is for me one of the most subject-to-interpretation cards in the Tarot. In some decks it seems to have to do specifically with the human body; in others, it represents money and good material beginnings. Tangibility and practicality are keys here.

When I read Tarot, I think it’s important to note what cards are not present in a reading, as well as those that are. When seeing this Ace, I would definitely look to see what might be missing nearby, and take that as a warning. The Ace of Metals itself is not enough to get you where you are going.

Or at least it’s not enough to get you all the way back home. I worked for a woman who owned a prominent, upscale bakery in Philadelphia, and she was someone who could fill her young adult children to the gills with the gifts of the Ace of Metals. Certainly, her children were blessed with more than many of the young men and women working in the bakery, who were close to the same age as these “fortunate” bread heirs.

In the summer, the son of the bakery’s owner, having just graduated high school, went on a cross-country road trip to see America before starting college. Apparently, he got bored with America halfway back, and grabbed a plane for home. His mother then “had” to pay to have his car brought back to Philadelphia, from whatever Midwestern state to which her son had abandoned it. To see this woman come into the bakery in the mornings and bitch about this situation to people her son’s age – responsible, driven kids who would have been happy to be doing something else, but who were making eight dollars an hour to get up at the crack of dawn to shill this woman’s bread — was rather odious, but a good meditation for the Ace of Metals.

The Ace of Metals is the seed, the actual, palpable object or endowment that will help us to meet our goals and make our dreams come true, as long as we have the other, inner attributes – those that money cannot buy — to get us there. When the Ace of Metals (or comparable suit) arises in a reading, look for that endowment – money, materials, physical strength – and build upon it.

the two of metals: balance

Fun, facile, flexible: Senor Wences and his friend Johnny demonstrate the abilities of the Two of Metals. Need to keep a lot of plates spinning in the air? You can. Energy, deftness, and the ability to relish every challenge are yours, while all your moving parts work together to create an integrated whole.

Senor Wences lived to be a hundred and three years old. As Johnny would say, Deefeecult for you, easy for me. When you have the Two of Metals in your reading, things will be easy for you, too, and you’ll enjoy the process of proving it.

the three of metals: collaboration

In the best collaborations, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and in the sweetest, most made-in-heaven collaborations, it is impossible to say who is more honored to be working with the other. Pop music is a great place for collaboration: Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook; Elton John and Bernie Taupin; Paul Mc Cartney and John Lennon.

There is a thrill in making something together.

A friend and I once wrote a long poem called “Dovecookie” through the mail, line by line, taking turns- one sheet of notebook paper that went back and forth between Philadelphia and Manhattan about thirty times.

Once, in a knitting group I attended, knitters had made a gift for a soon-to-be-wed friend; a perfectly even, rectangular afghan in wide stripes, each stripe created in a different fiber and a different pattern by a different knitter. They had chosen the compatible fibers and color scheme as a group, and then went to work with their own ideas, on their own hours, knowing they could count on each other to be ready when the time came to make the thing whole. I’ve never forgotten watching that afghan come together.

When I was a kid, girls would fight for a position on half of an upright piano in the school music room, for the thrill of playing the right-handed part of “Heart and Soul” while a friend played the left.

Think about rock musicians; there is always a tremendous amount of intimacy between a lead guitarist and a rhythm guitarist or bassist. They butt the sweaty crowns of their heads against each other, affectionate as little goats. Connections such as these exemplify the power of the Three of Pentacles: teamwork, coordination, and execution.

There are some quintessential representations of the Three of Pentacles in the arts- the songwriting and lyrics of Elton John and Bernie Taupin; the text of Lewis Carroll and drawings of John Tenniel. Sometimes, it seems as though one contributor is more at the heart of the process than the others, and that the “lesser” participants are merely conduits for the person with the master vision– Alfred Hitchcock’s repeated affinity for Grace Kelly. But the synthesis and glory of the Three of Cups does not come with inanimates as participants; we aren’t talking about tools, tubes of paint, microscopes. We are talking about active participation; the ability to be flexible, to be available, to step back or to step forward as the situation requires, for the greater good of creation.

If the Three of Pentacles (or Disks or Coins or Metals) appears in your reading, ask yourself; are you holding up your end of a project you may be involved in? It is no longer the time to sit around making notes and doodles; it’s time to do the work- lick the stamps, address the envelopes, because the Three of Pentacles represents more than a meeting of the minds. It represents the competency to complete such ventures to the satisfaction of all involved. To fully respect the artistry of your peers, you must keep up with them. You are striving for something more than you could do on your own, and yet you must bring as much to it as you would bring to something that would have your name on it alone. That can be a hard thing, particularly over the bargaining table. And bargains will be struck in a situation where you are not the only mind in control. If you are lucky, your project will be full of not only your best ideas, but also ones you secretly wish you had thought up yourself.

the four of metals: reluctance

Star of the Silent Screen Norma Desmond cannot Let Go. Petulant, demanding, emotionally constipated, she strives to bend the world to her will so that everything will be The Way It Should Be. For better or for worse, she has no one’s terms but her own in mind.

There are things in life that do need to be guarded at all costs. But there are also things in life that will be damaged by exposure to the energy created in guarding them the Four of Metals way. No amount of Time can be secured without an equal or greater amount of Time being spent in the securing. Even then, it’s a hopeless cause.

Examine what you are fighting for, and how you are fighting for it. By recognizing the Four of Metals in your life, and adjusting your ways to diminish its effects, you are becoming more mature, and ever more ready for your close-up.

the five of metals: hardship

The “Gutter Gang” are spiritually bereft, short on funds, and have hacking coughs. The Five of Metals speaks to the cycle of material lack, ill health and dearth of hope that, regardless of at which of the previously mentioned points it begins, brings the other components down along with it. Lack of employment, or overwhelming financial need, is a common interpretation of the Five of Metals.

While spiritual issues and matters of faith are addressed in numerous other cards, because of the suit (Metals), particular attention must be paid here to the physical. Warmth, sustenance, rest, and the assurance more of the same, are necessary now.

the six of metals: resources

Think of a sheep
knitting a sweater;
think of your life
getting better and better.

- from “Auto-Lullaby”, by Franz Wright

Talk about resourceful. In a world of commerce that often takes our labor and turns a profit on it, far beyond what we ourselves see, here is a very literal illustration of someone “getting their own back”. A sheep making a sweater out of the wool on his own body illustrates the Six of Metals in that the sheep’s own basic tools (wool) and his work (sweater) are combined with industry (the ability to knit) to create something… well, something more than a sheep can possibly create on its own, not to mention something that he doesn’t need. By the same token, those of us who can knit – or own the machines to knit, or the patterns for the sweaters – can’t really do anything with them, without the sheep.

The point of the Six of Metals is, really, to stay balanced between the giving and receiving ends of resources. You belong to both; to realize it is the way to make things better and better.

the seven of metals: assessment

Gainfully employed or not, there is no escaping “our work”, and time should always be set aside to evaluate it. It is ideal when the process of the work itself is rewarding. Dame Edna Everage, in addition to being one of the most sophisticated and envied women in the world, never stops working for her adoring public, offering advice and wisdom. She brags equally about the work she puts into it, and about the results.

In some decks, the Seven of Metals conveys seeing the fruits of one’s labor, and encourages the querent to celebrate his efforts, and take a break to appreciate his progress. In other decks, it gives the impression of toil, and not necessarily of seeing results; in fact, it may seem to be an admonition to hunker down and work harder. In either case, it is a card that implies hard work, as likely in the present and future as in the past, and, in either case, that assessment of that work is now crucial.

the eight of metals: apprenticeship

The Eight of Metals is probably the card with which I have taken the greatest number of liberties, in consideration of the Tarot. It belongs to the suit whose name I have altered (Metals), and the Eight references not just something that resonates with me personally, but something I created.

“Trinity Doughnuts” is a short story that I wrote in the early 1990’s. It was published in the Northwest Review, nominated for a Pushcart Prize for Short Fiction, and included in the anthology The Whole Story: Editors on Fiction, published by the Bench Press. It was – although accurate metrics do not necessarily exist for such things – a successful story.

“Trinity Doughnuts” is the story of Obie Vance, a songwriting “genius” and graveyard-shift doughnut store employee. This story represents best for me the concept of “apprenticeship” – the precipice of careerdom – and provides contemplation of what it takes to identify ourselves with our craft or our job. If you fry doughnuts and work a cash register for 40 hours a week, or even 20 – and make music for five – what are you? What if you fry the doughnuts while writing songs in your head? What if the doughnuts are much better than the songs?

When doing what one loves most, and wishes most to identify oneself with, the saddest thing is to think one has mastered it. Apprenticeship; that’s where it’s at.

the nine of metals: refinement

In my Tarot notebook, on the back of the pages about the Nine of Pentacles/Metals, I found an unattributed quote which I apparently scribbled down after receiving the card as my daily meditation card on December 16, 1998: The enemy of the best is often the good.

The Nine of Pentacles or Metals expresses a specific state of mind and being that is produced by the two concepts married within the card. These concepts are refinement, and meticulousness.

Refinement may be lavish. Meticulousness may lead to asceticism. In the case of the Nine of Metals, neither is true. The Nine of Metals speaks specifically to a civilized, comfortable, dignified life gained in a carefully tended and planned fashion; through sacrifice, through self-restraint, and with one’s own values as the primary guide. In the Trinity Doughnuts Tarot, a highly personalized view of this card is illustrated with a koi juxtaposed over a photo of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater”.

I visited Fallingwater on my honeymoon in 1994, and was then setting up a household of with my new husband. Money was scarce for us, so careful choices were made as to the items with which we furnished and decorated our home. At the same time, it was the first opportunity for both of us to make “grown-up” purchases — cookware, Christmas ornaments, things we expected to last a lifetime –- and, careful as we were, we undoubtedly made some choices based on ideals rather than needs.

The Nine of Metals reminds me of this time in my life, when I was trying very hard to live out the concept of the card. As for the koi – I had never seen a koi until around the time of my marriage, and a koi pond seemed the height of sophistication. I still like them.

the ten of metals: generational permanence

On my dad’s side of the family we are, somehow, biological relatives of the Barrymore stage family (so it has been said). Here we see a couple of Barrymores (John and Drew), and in the bottom right corner, me in front ofJohn Barrymore’s sidewalk-star in Los Angeles. My Aunt Poppy took that picture when I visited her and my Uncle Ken in Hollywood in 1987.

Some of Aunt Poppy’s children – my cousins – are also featured in this photo, along with myself, in a much older photo: on the laps of our grandparents. Some of these cousins are non-Caucasian, adopted cousins, but certainly more family to me than the Barrymores.

I hope to be among the third generation of adoptive parents in our family; the Asian Gingerbread baby represents this wish. Someone asked me once why I didn’t want to pass on my “good qualities” to a child through genetics. It seems to me that it is genetics that predispose me to want to adopt.

Fulfillment, permanence, and affluence are all ideals represented in the Ten of Metals card. Examining the Ten of Pentacles in the Waite deck, we see that these ideals are specifically being acted out in a “rich”, everyday life: the card in the Waite deck shows a family shopping in an open market. Playful dogs, plenty to buy and plenty to buy it with, are the marks of a fulfilled and affluent life. Children, to some, also represent permanence – the ability to live (or at least have their influence felt) beyond the time of their own lives.

The Ten of Metals represents these same ideals, in the sense of being able to “pass on” goods, genes, memory or teaching – and having the pride in these things that would make one want to pass them on. Know your legacy, share it, and determine your family based on where things have taken root, not because of them.

the princess of metals: beginner’s mind

Eager student, germ of an idea, beginner’s mind — who has more of a beginner’s mind than our Flannery Jane? Our Princess of Metals lives her life in pursuit of The Next Thing; securing what she needs, using the methods that get her the most success, and constantly enhancing her personal abundance (two meals a day, a bowl of fresh water, a biscuit at four, two walks, and a warm wooly to sleep on, plus three or more toys to choose from.)

The Princess of Metals is also faithful, loyal, and puts her complete trust in those around her. She looks to you for safety and comfort. She believes she gives it to you, too (particularly as her alter-ego Flanny Nightingale.) She’s not about grandeur; she’s about taking grand pleasure in home comforts, and being vigilant in seeing that she gets them.

the prince of metals: enduring bodhisatva

Minimalist composer Phillip Glass represents the meticulous Prince of Metals, for whom focus, perfectionism and diligence are primary virtues. The Prince of Metals is prolific and picky, and his propensity to be so is a legacy for which many revere him. To others, this Prince’s “virtues” are profoundly irritating, absent of real passion.

When it comes to choreographing the angels dancing on the head of a pin, the Prince of Metals is the Prince to call. But be warned that he will be there until the job is more than done, with a commitment that may seem to endanger the spirit of the very projects that he, paradoxically, is best at carrying off. While time still exists, there is no gold standard the Prince of Metals will not attempt to go beyond, and regardless of his accomplishments, he sees himself as no more than an apprentice. The Work is more significant than the Prince of Metals, in his own eyes.

the queen of metals: benefactress

The finest gastronomical writer of our time, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is the Queen of Metals. She appreciates worldly bounty in all it’s forms and feels abundant, attractive, and fullfilled. She may also be associated with patronage of the arts.

There is something about the ideal of this particular Queen that suggests the peasant nobility, or (although the phrase indicates maleness), the gentleman farmer. She has a sense of domesticity and refinement, and appreciates the good things, be they simple or grand. There is always enough at her table. But it is not so much the quantitative value of what this Queen has that makes her so rich; it is her sense of satisfaction with it all.

The legendary food writer M.F.K. Fisher not only wrote about the finest, most sophisticated dining experiences, but she also wrote about her love of eating sections of tangerine that had been dried on a radiator, which she learned to do when poor and living in Paris, “in a cramped dirty apartment across from the sad zoo half full of animals and birds frozen too stiff even to make smells”. Does that sound like the palace, the life of a Queen to you? But for the true Queen of Metals, it could be so. M.F.K Fisher would peel her tangerine, separating “each plump little pregnant crescent”, let them cook on the radiator, then cool them in the snow on the windowsill, watching “Children come home from school just as three lovely whores mince smartly into the pension’s chic tearoom.” Anyone could see, by prose such as this, that they were in the presence of a Queen.

The Queen of Pentacles is associated with a sensual, nurturing, earthy nature, and an ease with children and animals. As with all Court cards, you are asked to fit yourself or someone you know into her broad, yet specific, ideal. Do you need to re-evaluate what is truly “elegant” or “ample” in your life? Do you feel the need to feed or be fed, or stock the pantry? I have frequently in readings, particularly when working the 900 phone lines, referred to the Queen of Pentacles as the “buy groceries first” card. In this Queen’s case, food is love, but so are many other real and simple things.

the king of metals: willful benefactor

The character of Alan Spaulding of the soap opera Guiding Light (my favorite) is
a patriarch and a born businessman, who guards his family and its legacy through the stability and continued growth of his empire. His quote is my slight misquote, from the painter Francis Bacon: “Champagne for all (sic) my real friends, and real pain for all (sic) my sham friends.”

It is possible that the “Alan Spaulding” character does not take the high road as regularly as a traditional King of Metals (or Pentacles) might, but I do believe that anyone with the attributes of this King will also have certain moral and ethical drawbacks; among them, a strong sense of entitlement, and therefore an easy ability to make enemies. His solid foundations often are fed on others’ weakened facades. The King of Metals protects his own, but only his own.

© 1998-2010 amber dorko stopper