My Personal Court

Lisa Frideborg of Angelorum recently posted this fun exercise on my favourite tarot Facebook group, the 3 of Cups Tarot Community, to explore the court cards and the elements of their personalities that are dominant within us. My draw pretty much nailed it, so I thought it might be nice to share it here!

So, the exercise is as follows:

  1. After you have separated the court cards from the rest of the deck choose one that you feel best represents you. Write down some of the reasons why you feel the closest connection to this card, return it to your court pile and shuffle.
  2. Cards face-down, select another card. This represents the hidden, inner, lunar you, the deeper layers of personality that you don’t always show to the world and perhaps don’t even own fully for yourself. Take some notes and return it to your pile and shuffle again.
  3. Pull another face-down card. This represent how you are perceived in your closest relationships. Same process, take notes, return to pile and shuffle one final time
  4. Draw another card face down. This card represents your public face, the way that your boss and co-workers who you aren’t close with see you.
  5. Finish writing down your final first-impression notes, did any particular court card appear more than once? Is one elemental suit more dominant than another? Do the court attributes appear to complement or contradict one another?

It might also be an idea to add to this journal entry as you meet with different people, noting down similarities or differences in your interaction style to the court cards you selected.

Anyway, onto my reading, I decided to use the Mary El. It’s funny, those moments when you understand how attuned you are to certain decks, because none of these cards came as a surprise. The order was unexpected, but all of these cards appear frequently in my personal readings:

mary el court

1. Self-identified me: The Queen of Cups – This queen is my astrological court (there are a few different ways to calculate this, however I have used the Crowley Thoth method, which you can calculate here over at Raven’s Tarot Site) and also the one that correlates to my Myers-Briggs type, INFJ. She’s also one of my long time stalker cards, although it is only recently that I have really started to identify with her. As I am drawn deeper into spiritual thought and practice I have started unlocking feelings, thoughts and intuitive responses that have been ignored and repressed for a long time. It’s not so much that I feel I am becoming her, more like I am finally starting to own this more dominant aspect of myself and embrace it. I’ve always had strong ‘cup’ tendencies, but have felt compelled to harden these aspects for self-preservation.

2. Hidden me: The Page of Swords, mhmmmm, yes. I do suppress how confrontational I am, and I have a pretty loud bullshit radar! When someone crosses a line I often I won’t say anything, but whatever was said or done to ping that radar is locked away and never forgotten, which means I can have a tendency to keep lasting negative judgments towards people, usually without their knowledge. This is something about myself that I am trying to work on by exploring the shadow side of myself, particularly how intensely self-critical I am when I feel that I have misspoken or made a mistake – an aspect that I may be projecting onto others. Also like the Page of Swords I feel a seemingly innate distrust and dislike of authority figures and anything that has even a whiff of dogma about it.

On a lighter note, I do also see this card as representing some positive aspects of myself too, in particular my love of listening to, reading and communicating new ideas. It sometimes surprises me, and probably would surprise others who don’t know me so well, just how much information I can and wish to consume, absorb and discuss on any given day. I don’t really have the chance to express this side of myself in everyday ‘real’  life, but online groups, Skype dates with my mum and this blog have afforded me a wonderful opportunity to indulge more in the area of my personality that finds joy in exploring and playing around with ideas and language.

3. Close relationships me: The Queen of Wands – I behave very differently with my loved ones than I do with general acquaintances. In larger social situations I tend to stick to the walls and observe, kind of dipping in and out to find if there’s someone about I can really relate to. When I am with my “tribe” though I am very outgoing and chatty and love nothing more than enthusiastic, animated conversation and lots of laughter.

4. Professional and acquaintances me: Again, yep! I can definitely see how I can appear this way to those I am not close to. If I don’t feel an instant connection I can seem pretty distant. I’m still happy to engage with plenty of people, however if I don’t get that feeling of simpatico, I don’t really open up. It’s gotten back to me more than a few times that people have said that I am difficult to get to know. I don’t mean to be, but if it’s not there I find it almost impossible (and incredibly draining and unpleasant) to fake it. That said, I have a good sense of humour, am thoughtful and truthful, which can often mean that people are quick to open up and seek me out for advice. That openness is something I find difficult to reciprocate, but at the end of the day, even the most casual acquaintances of mine know that I am trustworthy and if they are ever in need of something I can be relied upon to help.

Overall, a very interesting result, with lots for me to think about! The presence of three Queens was a rather nice affirmation that I am overall a pretty capable person, not without faults, but in a suitable stage of maturity. It’s also interesting to me that the “hidden” aspect is also the one I felt compelled to write the most about, like it is chomping at the bit, waiting to burst free.

If anyone decides to do this exercise please feel free to share in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!

Full Moon Reading – A Time to Howl

*A few words of warning: two of the cards drawn contain nudity, full frontal male and full frontal female. I would categorise both as artistic nudity, the images are not sexual or exploitative, however I am aware mileage and opinions on nudity do vary, so you have been warned!

I’m a couple of days late with this, the full moon was on the 11th but the youngest and I both came down with a nasty stomach bug, so while I did manage to draw some cards in the haze, I didn’t have any energy for a write up.

Anyway, in keeping with the strong message for centring on expression and communication in my weekly forecast reading this week, for this full moon I decided to do this lovely spread I found on Little Red Tarot called What’s Howlin’ (the spread was originally conceived by Chanel Bayless, but the link to it on her site seems to have expired). This spread is all about the messages and desires you are yearning to unleash.

With the energies of the full moon, this is an opportunity to ask the High Priestess to lift the veil a little and allow out the most urgent messages of the unconscious mind…what does it want to be heard? What needs to step out of the shadows and into the light?

The obvious choice for this spread was the Mary-El, the primal energy of this deck can match a wolf’s, howl for howl!

mary el howlin'

1. The message you are howlin’ at the moon

The Fool – cue Freddie Mercury singing “I want to break free”, because I’m feeling ready for something entirely new. Stability is turning into stagnation and my little wolf is howling out that she is ready to pounce in some new direction and shake things up a bit. This is, however, going to require a bit of creative thinking on my part as I can’t really change the basic format of my day, I have two young kids to look after and a house I would rather didn’t look like a dump, so I need to hunt down something dynamic and new to do in those few hours when the littlies are napping or out playing. I feel up to the challenge though, and there are a couple of new things I’ve been meaning to read about, learn and do, but have so far procrastinated on really dedicating my concentration to. The Fool tells me it’s time to stop messing about and jump right in.

2, 3 & 4. How you can communicate this

The Tower – Big changes need to be made. To release my heart’s message I am going to have to take a long, hard look at the structures I have built up around it and knock down what is holding me back. I’ve been feeling like I am standing on unsteady ground recently and the Tower warns that it is time for me to start dismantling some of my thought patterns and behaviours before everything comes tumbling down in an almighty crash. I feel almost constantly tired and drained, so I need to dig deep and start rebuilding myself anew, because what I’ve got going on now emotionally is not working. I don’t need a completely new life, but I do need a new way of being in my life.

Five of Cups – This is one of the cards in Mary-El I find an interesting deviation from the RWS. In the guidebook, White relates the unicorn to both Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of Norse mythology, and the teacher and wounded healer Chiron from the Greek sagas; she speaks of sacrifice, guardianship, peace and heartache. I feel this image speaks to the fact that I have always been interested in the healing arts. Although it will be a few years before I can begin any studies in a healing tradition or discipline in earnest, this card reminds me that healing can be done at any time, by anyone – it can start at home, it can start with me. I don’t need a degree or years of training under my belt to practice empathy and compassion, I already do do that, but I can do so much more by simply listening harder to what is around me. I have relationships to heal: with people, with the idea of spirit and with the earth. I can start that now.

Queen of Wands – This Queen looks straight at me, almost through me, and while her expression isn’t judgmental, she has no time, I repeat, no time for my bullshit. She knows a thing or two about desire, about going after what she wants, and she knows a thing or two about be burnt in the process. Drop the affected apathy and go boldly forth, dream big, care for something, burn for it, she says.

Well, she sure has me pegged. I do extinguish my own enthusiasm, almost the second it appears, I’ve done it for so long now it isn’t even a conscious effort for me to do so. This all stems back to the years of listening to that little jerk-brain inside telling me I’m not good enough, not smart enough; that whatever I try I am ultimately going to fail; that no one is ever going to care about or notice what I do anyway, so I’d better not get too invested in the outcome, that it is best to remain detached so my inevitable disappointments don’t hurt. And it’s true, if I don’t invest all of my hopes into my efforts I have nothing to lose, but I’ll never really have anything to gain either. True creativity demands your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears, and this Queen tells me it is time to do give all of those things and just strive, strive, strive.


With two Major Arcana cards relating to change, destruction and renewal a large upheaval is being asked for this full moon. I need to get to the bare bones of my situation and think about what needs to be demolished and what needs to be fortified. The path forward is not yet clear, but with a bold and open heart it soon can be. I must say, this draw hasn’t come as a complete surprise, there are a number of things changing in regards to where I feel called on my path, most of which are very unexpected, but my eyes and ears are open, I am ready.

Mary El Tarot Interview

This deck. THIS deck, people! It is just amazing. Prepare for some serious gushing because I love the Mary El so much. I’ve had it for about six months now and wouldn’t part with it for love nor money, it is my zombie apocalypse deck. If the shit hit the fan and I could only take one deck with me, this would be it, the imagery is just so evocative and visceral. You will probably tire of reading this word, and I will try not to repeat it too much, but the best way I can find to describe it is raw; it is a burning torch thrust into your sub-conscious and unconscious mind, it slices through every façade you’ve built up and leaves you bare, warts and all. Throw your keywords and tarot books away because this deck is primal, it doesn’t speak in words, it hits you right in the gut with raw emotion.

On that note, I must add that while I connected instantly with the imagery of this deck, I can have a hard time connecting with it as a tarot deck. It isn’t RWS, Thoth or Marseille, you will often find that the guidebook meanings do not have any relation to the established systems and you will rarely see imagery that is familiar; it is in a class of its own. Tacking established meanings onto the cards will, in many instances, leave a huge disconnect with the imagery (this is more true for the Minor Arcana than the Majors), so it can be pretty daunting at first, and you do have to put the work in. For this reason, I find it easier to read with if I just put aside tarot traditions and think of it as a kind of oracle deck. Take a few keywords or concepts from the guidebook then stare into those cards and let your intuition do the rest.

Speaking of the guidebook, I do find it a bit bananas in places, there’s quite a bit of repetition (seriously, if I have to read Magnum Opus one more time) and it feels a bit rushed and hap hazard. There is much mention of Western Esoteric Kabbalah, which I am not really familiar with, so perhaps her deck is intended to be closer to the various meanings of the Sephiroth and their paths in the Tree of Life than any specific tarot system (?). I don’t know if Marie White channelled these messages or was just a bit frenzied with excitement when she wrote them, but an editor would not have gone amiss. This is a very minor quibble though and is of no detriment at all to the deck.

I’ve seen a lot of pictures on the internet where people have removed all the borders and titles from the cards so the images can stand alone, and I can certainly see why; on a number of occasions I’ve felt that the titles just get in the way because I know what I think the card should mean, but I am not looking at a visual representation that supports it, I’m looking at something else entirely. I’m not quite ready to put the cards to the guillotine and corner cutters yet, but I could see myself doing so in future.

As you will see, I got a bit carried away with the interview, these babies are addictive, so I added a few more questions to my regular interview just so I could keep talking to these cards!mary el

Tell me about yourself, what is your most important characteristic? 

Seven of Wands – Just look at those sharp green eyes penetrating the soul of human kind. Here I see a steadfast spirit. This wolf knows what she has to say, and knows its truth. She has the courage of her convictions and does not fear confrontation. This deck isn’t here to make friends, its message is a dare to bravely go against the grain and fight, fight with all your strength for your soul and never give up.

What are your strengths as a deck?

Ace of Wands – The burning, the movement, the power! This deck is raw creative inspiration manifest. It is fire and passion and talent, it does not whisper its message, it roars. It is bold and fierce in its dispatch.

What are your limits as a deck?

Six of Swords – On of my favourites! Could you tell? This deck is about inner journeying, shamanism and spiritual transformation. It doesn’t even speak the language of the mundane, it goes deep and for every answer this deck delivers it poses ten questions more, so it is probably best to leave it be for ‘everyday’ questions. This is angelic guidance we’re looking at here so be prepared to dig deep if you want to speak to Mary El.

What are you here to teach me?

Strength – This deck is here to teach me to integrate all sides of my nature, human, beast, divine, base, hunter and prey. It will help me to learn to trust my inner strength and love the wildness in my heart – my beast and I will tame each other with compassion and courage, and learn the gift of intentional stillness.

How can I best learn and collaborate with you?

Ten of Wands – I can best collaborate with this deck by approaching it with a ready and seeking heart. No dullness here, no phoning it in, I must have energy, time, and a burning curiosity and conviction when I approach it. Reading with this deck is not going to be like chatting with a friend over a cup of tea, it is going to be an adventure chocked full of highs, lows, victories and obstacles to overcome.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

The Empress – The potential outcome I see here is my reconnection to the mother goddess, to the earth and all her bounties – a fecund mind, a fertile heart and a tender touch; an understanding of life’s innate cycles and realising my place within in them.

And my additional questions:

 Which Major Arcana cards best represent your core message?

The Lovers and The Emperor – These cards tell me that the Mary El’s core message is the reconciliation of duality and the stabilisation of a seemingly chaotic existence with a compassionate heart and a discerning mind.


And because I JUST CAN’T STOP PULLING CARDS, numerologically, Lovers + Emperor = Wheel of Fortune – within it this deck holds all of the ups and downs of life and a glimpse at the unfixed nature of fate. It says that with the completeness of love seen in the Lovers and the harmony of order found in the Emperor, the blooming lotus at the centre of the wheel can be found, ever able to rise above the muck and detritus life can throw at us.

Which Court card best represents your personality?

King of Wands – fire of fire, charismatic and enigmatic, passionate and daring. His kingdom is the pure force of will tempered by knowledge. He teaches fearlessness and an irrepressible loyalty to the self. This king’s life is one lived to the full with no shame or regrets.


Which Minor Arcana best represents where we are now?

Eight of Wands – a time of change and growth, incubating ideas under the blanket of night. The burning lion, the soul’s guide, prepares to deliver me to myself, offering the keys to my deepest soul.

Well I finally managed to put the cards down. I’ve noticed a lot of wands and lions here! So much fire, passion and spirit. With the presence of the Empress, Emperor and Lovers I’m seeing a bigger picture about unification, wholeness and integration; the soul’s desire to unite with all, inside and out.

Below I will leave you with just a few of my favourite images from the deck. Sorry about the less than stellar picture quality, my phone seems to have been in the middle of a weird focusing moment.



Mary-El Tarot by Marie White, published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2012