Tarot Without a Net: The Heirophant

I like Marvel.

I was as happy to see Professor X as I was to see who I thought was ObiWan Kenobi on the Emperor card. It is a perfect bridge between what I see and what the artest saw in these two cards.

It’s been a long year coming, but waaay back when the third edition of Heart of Stars third edition deck was released by Thom Pham, he very graciously gave permission for me to share these posts with you. I am so looking forward to exploring this deck with you because it is very much how I work. If you have ever had a reading with me, there is a good chance that spirit and energy gave a pop culture reference at some point…a song, book, movie or tv show.

It is interesting to me that the very thing I missed by mis-understanding Odin from Thor as Obi-Wan from Star Wars is the exact thing that drives my impression of this card.

The Hierophant (or Pope card in some decks) has always been a nemesis for me personally. The Hierophant / Pope is often associated with social rules and conventions. On the RWS deck it is rife with religious imagery. As an adult child of evangelicals recovered fundamentalist, that is a hot button pushing reflex issue for me. Lucky for me AND my clients, that only happens when I engage with stuff like this, outside of a reading. In a reading, the Hierophant is smooth as silk and clear as a bell because it has to do with connecting with THEIR  energies and messages. Please don’t take my wrangling matches with this card to be an indication of what is to come in YOUR reading should this card turn up.

It is much better than it used to be, actually. It took a dozen re-writes to do the “Arcana in Balance” post (I’ll updating and reprising that series here later this year.) Since coming out secular, it has been easier to deal with this card. It is even easier still since Johanne Dinali explaned the card in her twitter feed as the keeper of traditions, like a grandfather or a shaman.

Here, I get the word teacher very strongly from this card. It still has undertones of rules and conventions because the Professor teaches discipline and ethics and how to deal with mutation super powers. It has the same threads of mystery and power. All that Professor X has learned has been long and hard-won….and about mysterious powers. So yes, the Hierophant is the keeper of rules, traditions, social conventions….but to teach them. He teaches mysteries through the same, not just all law and order. It is a subtle, even nonexistant distinction to those who embrace religion, perhaps. To those of us who have experienced and deliberately, mindfully left mainstream religion, it is an important one. The hierophant is more kindly kindly monk-teacher-scribe than lay-down-the-law, missals and diatribes Pope.  Professor X and the heart of the Hierophant card is more like teaching us to find and use our X-men powers than it is law-and-order, lock-em-up and throw away the key. The Hierophant is a spiritual teacher – not a religious  officer, judge, jury and executioner.

I was browsing for a quote to post with the card as I often do on Instagram (@Taocraft.Tarot) This one by Thich Nhat Hahn caught my eye:

“Doubt in my tradition is something that is very helpful. Because of doubt, you can thirst for more and you will get a higher kind of proof”

That resonates with teaching in a very real world way on multiple levels for me. If we go back to my personal religious issues (obviously not something that will relate to everyone, but shout out to all the ex-vangelicals out there) anything worth learning will stand up to doubt and questioning. Christianity, for me, disappeared in a poof of dust at every question, every doubt. Taoism has stood up through everything life has thrown at me. Tarot has never ending wisdom so far for me AND my clients. That isn’t bragging about my skill…it is bragging about what a reliable, testable, doubt-and-question-tolerant tool Tarot has proven itself to be in my experience.

That is just from the one sided perspective of a student. I’ve taught. This card and this quote has something to say to teachers as well: Questions and doubts are a wonderful thing. When I was teaching Kung Fu and Tai Chi I LOVED it when students had questions. They took the whole class to some really cool wonderful places…to hell with what I had planned. When students question us and doubt us and push us….they are doing US, the teachers and enormous favor. They are showing us the dead spots that need pruned away. They are showing us the empty gaps that need feed. If I don’t know an answer, it is only an embarrassment if I fail to try and find and answer or at least try to point the student in the direction of other possible sources for their answer.

When Professor Hierophant rolls in to a reading, it is a good time to ask questions, face our doubts, test the rules, then follow those guides and lessons that prove trustworthy.

Unsurprisingly, given his choice of Professor X, the artist makes teaching a primary focus, instead of a supporting focus behind the paternal / protector emphasis of the Emperor card.

Deck: Heart of Stars Third edition by Thom Pham, used with permission.

Eternal Balancing Act


Diane Morgan’s Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao is for all the obvious reasons, one of my all time favorite Tarot books.

I first read Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao early in the 2000s, at the beginning in my professional Tarot career, just as I began reading for online services like Advice Trader and Allexperts. I’d been reading Tarot and oracle cards (Medicine Cards by Carson and Samms mostly) for nearly 10 years by that point. I’d been interested in Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Taoism even longer than that.

Of all the cards in the Tarot deck, the two of Pentacles / Coins is arguably the most emblematic of all that Tarot and Taoism share. We short hand the card as balance, but it is more of a juggling act than that. The balance here is large and moving and dynamic. Balance alone can be static, like a stack of zen stones, or a scales showing accurate weight.


That is balance, but there is also what science calls dynamic equilibrium.  The classic example of dynamic equilibrium is a permeable membrane between two solutions. Think of fresh water and salt water divided by some sort of plastic wrap with tiny holes in it. The molecules on both sides are always vibrating and wiggling around (that is heat, so let’s imagine this is all happening at room temperature, not absolute zero.  Even a polar vortex isn’t that cold.) Over time the water and salt molecules wiggle through the holes in the membrane until there is the same concentration of salt and water on both sides. Once that happens, the molecules don’t stop jiggling and juggling around. It is still room temperature, there is still heat and molecule movement going on. If you follow individual specks of salt, they may be moving the whole time, one side to the other. Same for specks of water. In spite of the little specks dancing around, the total amounts of each stay in balance on both sides. The little buggers move…it’s dynamic. The whole system, the whole tank of water, keeps its balance of salt and water concentrations…it is in equilibrium. That kind of balance is very much a part of the 2 of coins. The artwork in the card on most RWS decks hint at movement, the man walking and juggling , a woman bicycling (Steampunk Tarot) a tightrope walker (Robin Wood Tarot) even someone standing on their head (Quantum Tarot) The two of coins reminds us as much of dynamic equilibrium as a static balance. The sideways figure 8, the infinity symbol, is often used as part of the cards image to indicate that balance. It also shows us just how big the water tank is. The system that is in dynamic equilibrium is nothing less than the whole darn universe. Sure things are going to get very out of balance, if not downright wonky in our individual part of the cosmos, but infinity wide, things unfold as they should, according to their nature.

Which is all a very Taoist like way of looking at it. The Taoist point of view values that kind of big picture dynamic equilibrium. It values balance in general…static and moving…and is more than willing to consider the Tao, the everything and then some, in finding that natural moving balance. Harmony of opposites is another, easier way to put it. The well known yin yang symbol that is emblematic  of the philosophy is actually intended to be in motion. The dots are the seeds that grow into their opposite. If you look just at the yin or yang, the black or white, each part is always growing, shrinking, turning. Yet, within the circle as a whole, even among all that movement, there ends up being balanced, equal amounts of black and white, yin and yang.


That is the energy flow the two of coins can help us to find. The two is always about balance. Is it static or dynamic? What kind of balance do we need? Are we looking at one little jiggly speck of salt in the water and feeling out of balance? Would it help to look for larger, moving systems when we look for balance in out lives or would it help to look for the little but very stable balance points like stacking Zen rocks? How do you know? The balance is of opposites, remember? The dots are the clue. In each lies the seed of its opposite. If you have been focusing on static stable balance, but it isn’t working, take a step back and look at the big picture, moving systemic balance. If the system seems chaos and everything is flying apart…look for anchors. Look for the solid, stable, static parts on which to build some balance.

Stones and yin yang images from the public domain. Jimmy Neutron property of Nickelodeon via youtube.com.


The Un-selfie Psychic

I hate having my picture taken.

Always have, it seems. One of my favorite photos from when I was about 6 or 7 was the whole family seated against the wall at grandma’s house, looking oh so 1970s. Mom, Dad, and my 2 year old sister had enormous “say cheese!” grins. Mom also had her arm around my waist with me in full sprint position making a break for it, fast exit stage right. I won’t tell you how old the picture below is, but it will have to do because I don’t do selfies. I’m trying to make myself do one of those speech to camera introductions for a TaoCraft YouTube channel, but we’ll cross that bridge later. Much later.

It is only slightly less excruciating to write a bio for a book or what have you. I hadn’t updated mine in ages. I copied and pasted the “Meet Your Reader” page right from the old Modern Oracle page. I mean, ewww, right?

But logic finally won. Updated the old bio this afternoon. It’s below.

As long as I’m introducing Reiki and meditation to TaoCraft Tarot, might as well reintroduce myself to you so you’ll know who is coming to your reading or your party, or is behind the cards for your distance session.

*Deep Breath*

Here goes….nice to meet you


Read Client Reviews


My name is Ronda. I read Tarot, write things, and make stuff.

I started out with no intention of reading cards professionally. I have a Bachelor of Science in Medical Science, 13 years clinical experience as a physician assistant in psychiatry and interventional cardiology, a non-accredited Ph.D in Natural Health, Reiki Master-practitioner certification, U.L.C. ordination and am a retired Tai Chi instructor. The original idea was to do Natural Health Consultations. Natural, holistic health is all about mind, body and spirit in balance. There are lots of practitioners out there who can help physical heath. As it turns out, my calling is to help emotions and spirit through the art and entertainment of Tarot.

In the early 90s, when I was working in mainstream medicine, I began reading Tarot and oracle cards for my own spiritual development. That, and the fact I was too cheap to pay overpriced phone bills and have psychic friends to do it for me. Turns out I have a knack for it. After reading for friends and family, my best friend encouraged me to try reading online. In the early 2000s I did readings under the handle “Baihu” on Keen, Advice Trader, and Allexperts. When my Ph.D dissertation expenses came along, I took the next logical step, started to work for myself, and Modern Oracle Tarot was born. The extensive Tarotbytes blog archives are still available if you are interested.

In October of 2018, I brought Reiki and meditation under the same cyber roof as my tarot work, transforming Modern Oracle into the TaoCraft Tarot you see today.

That’s the “I read Tarot” part.

Things I’ve written includes the old “Tarotbytes” blog, the blog at RondaSnow.comModern Oracle: Hello, Peace Tarot, my dissertation Reiki and Relaxation and Bead Mindful, Begin Meditating. PeaceTarot is available in the etsty shop with other titles coming soon.  PeaceTarot and my poetry collection “Triquetra: The Dance of Worlds” are already on amazon.com for Kindle. I have written  articles about Natural Health for Point of Light magazine, and about Tarot for Find Your Psychic e-zine. My poetry has been in magazines and contest anthologies including Kindred Magazine, Nature’s Echoes, Quicksilver Moon, and Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum.

Now for the making stuff…

I make handcrafted meditation beads (mala) for your meditation practice or to go with the meditation lessons offered here. You can find them in TaoCraft T.arot Shop  on Etsy. I also knit and make handmade jewelry as a hobby. Some of those projects are in the shop too.

Now we’ve come to the part where author’s bios put some jazzy 3rd person comment about where I live and and stuff…

Ronda lives in the Pittsburgh suburbs with her musician / concert photographer / computer genius husband, her yarn stash and a deep dislike for doing yard work.

I hope we can work together soon.


Introductions are in order: Reiki

Take a tour of the new concept.

The foundation is built of the ho-hum but practical, pragmatic and necessary business practices and policies. Everything is spelled out in detail and utterly transparent. Everything is heads up and eyes open, so you know exactly what to expect from working with me.

I want you to have the best Tarot reading experience that I can provide. That can only happen if you understand what that is. If I can provide the kind of reading you want and need – awesome. Let’s get started. If not, then no hard feelings. I’d rather see you find a reader that matches your personality and expectations. Being very clear about my style of Tarot and my business policies helps you to narrow your search for perfect reading. It frees us both to move on to more satisfying things. Clear, up-front rules and policies are nothing but good. The short version small print is at the bottom right corner of every web page. There is a tab to the full policies page at the top right of every page.

This is a safe space.

Closing the comments keeps out the words (and negative energies) of trolls and spammers. My email is over there –> for anyone who wants to give legit comments or feedback, good, bad or indifferent.

Tarot you know, or will. That is going to be the vast majority of the blog from here on.

We will come back to meditation soon. Today, let me introduce you to the other new service I’m integrating with Tarot on the TaoCraft site.



Reiki comes from Japan, and loosely translated it means “universal life energy.”

In the West, the early leaders of modern medicine like Galen and Paracelsus called this same thing “vital force.” Universal energy or vital force is that special something that makes us alive. It isn’t well defined by purely scientific terms as yet, but it is that something that makes a living creature different from an inanimate object. Western medicine has not studied subtle energy, life force or mind-body therapies until very recently. Often this type of natural, medication-free healing is still dismissed as pseudoscience or “faith healing.”

In recent decades, however, modern medicine has begun to accept the mind-body connection as proven fact. Psychoneuroimmunology has proven the effects of stress on the immune system, T cells in particular. The effect psychological stress has on a variety of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes is fairly well known. Reiki intersects with mainstream medicine through the way it quickly reduces stress. From a Western perspective, Reiki can improve health by removing stress and all the detrimental effects stress can create. Whether Reiki itself has a direct physical effect remains to be seen, but even if it only relieves stress, that alone is a proven health benefit, both physically and emotionally.

There is a long history of using universal, life or nerve energy for healing in Asian cultures. Energy, the ‘Ki’ in Reiki means energy. So does the Chinese word chi or qi (like Tai Chi) which is used in accupuncture and accupressure. Prana is a kind of energy from India, Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. Energy medicine is ancient, common and accepted there. . Over time, energy healing has become a rich, and anecdotally proven tradition.


Reiki in particular was developed in the early 20th century by Mikao Usui. Reiki is now taught around the world. Different styles that have developed over the years with slightly different practices and differing histories of how Reiki developed. Despite these variations, the core concepts of Reiki are very much the same. For my part,  I studied Traditional Usui style under Reiki Master Tom Beardshaw. As for the history of Reiki I recommend the books by Frank Arjeva Petter.

The common ground among Reiki practitioners is much larger than our differences. Here are some examples:

  • The life force is the source of all healing, the body heals itself. Nothing can heal FOR it, but we can help that inner process work better through healthy lifestyle, medication, herbs diet, and of course, Reiki.
  • Universal Life or Vital Force energy is everywhere, throughout all space and time. It is neither good, nor bad. Like sunshine or moonlight, it is a simple fact of nature.
  • Reiki practitioners do not add any of their own energy to the process. They do not change or manipulate the recipients energy or body in any way. A session simply adds a little more natural life energy to the recipient and makes their connection to life energy clearer and stronger.
  • In my tradition, energy is treated respectfully and only given with a recipients full knowledge and consent. I treat my Tarot work as an energy practice, and follow that same consent guideline.

Computers are a good analogy. Barring genetic disease or birth injury, most people are born with a clear, vibrant connection to life energy. We start off with a cat 5 hardwired broadband connection. Over time, aging, illness, lifestyle all can slow the connection down. Reiki can help clear the connection and get you back from 80s dial up modem speed back up to at least 4g broadband, even if you never get back to your original high speed. The better connection and extra energy makes it easier for you to patch your software, so to speak.

more to follow….