Interdimensional CrossRip

“This is the biggest interdimensional crossrip since the Tunguska incident of 1909” – Ghostbusters

Ok, ok, it’s not an interdimensional crossrip, but it does feel a little good omen validation-ish.

Today is national atheist day. I’ve been pretty out about that for a while now, but never explicitly under the Modern Oracle name. I was concerned about offending clients and losing business. I was concerned about negative judge-y energy entering the Tarot space to the detriment both my clients and myself. But let’s be real. No one in that kind of mindspace is going to seek out a Tarot reading or read a blog like this in the first place. It seems like a contradiction to be both secular, and a Tarot reader, and a (secular philosophical) Taoist and resonating with much of magick and non-theistic paganism. It has been a 50+ year head-journey to go from being raised evangelical fundamentalist Baptist with heavy exposure to charismatics and Pentecostals, to being a plainspoken atheist Taoist witch, for lack of a better term. Rebranding to Taocraft is a big deal to me, because it gives authenticity. I welcome all clients to be their authentic selves, no matter whether they are pirogi slinging church ladies or chicken slaying voodoo priestesses with an extra heaping helping of compassion, inclusion, and safe space for EX-christians and my friends in the LGBTQA community. The deal is if you can accept me for my atheist Taoist witchy self, I welcome your authentic self to a reading with open arms.

Purely by wild, unadulterated coincidence today is also my 10th anniversary of blogging with WordPress. I had been doing Modern Oracle a bit longer than that on other platforms, but this makes 10 continuous uninterrupted oh my god I’m getting old years of Tarot blogging. That is a LOT of work and an enormous iceberg sized chunk of writing to cut loose in the name of rebranding and re-writing my essential mission. That also validated the new name is as big of a deal as it felt. That’s why I inflicted so many “what’s in a name” type posts on you all in the beginning (thanks for your tolerance with that, by the way). Out of all of that, there are a few chunks of the giant blog-berg I want to bring over here.

As we’ve seen with the “Tarot Without a Net” series, it never pays to get so married to an idea that you can’t edit it out to make the whole writing better. On the other proverbial hand, throwing the baby out with the giant tub of bathwater isn’t a good idea either.

Yes, I want to do Tarot readings (and yes, be paid for it) and yes, I want all of my clients to feel comfortable and accepted for their real selves, and enjoy the reading to its fullest, but no, I’m no longer willing to dilute the process to avoid offense or to cajole sales. To go from Ghostbusters to paraphrasing Field of Dreams….I built it, now they can come. Once again, welcome.

I’m also excited to introduce any of you who are not familiar with the Tarotbytes blog to some of my favorite old posts, including “Meet Zombie Cat” “Ghost of Zombie Cat” “Alice Gets It Right, Twilight Tells the Future” and “100% Accuracy and a Big Cube of Jello”.

If you want to explore the entire giant decade-deep Tarotbytes archive it is still right HERE. Just use the search box on the right side of the page and have at it. If you see anything there that you have a question about, or have something you’d like to see covered in the TaoCraft blog, just contact me at

Lessons Learned: Tarot Without A Net

I think Heart of Stars Tarot is excellent deck. The idea of a Tarot deck that intersects with pop culture is just brilliant, and in this case brilliantly executed. I hope to see more of Thom Pham’s artwork or future decks.

As much as I enjoy the deck, working through it card by card reading each at first sight without looking at the accompanying book hit a wall. It is a great Tarot exercise, but after the first handful of cards started to get repetitive. The post series was about the technique and the experience not the card meanings themselves. The method is eezy peezy, and doesn’t need a 78 card explanation. It was a fun experiment but I’m over it. It’s a good deck, and I’ll be using it for “Today’s Tarot” posts but not with this particular spin.

What I learned as a Tarot Reader

  • I don’t know movies nearly as well as I thought I did.
  • I enjoy this deck and will use it here in the blog for other posts, just not with this particular spin.
  • Experiencing a new deck is different as an experienced reader than it was as a beginner. It was hard to look at any one card with fresh eyes. Other meanings, other readings, and past experience came along for the ride….as it should. The whole point of experimenting and learning is to bring that body of knowledge to bear on new readings in order to do our best work for ourselves and our clients.
  • There are a variety of ways to engage a new deck, and they are all equally good, and all very hands-on.

There are probably as many ways to get to know a deck as there are decks and readers. My best advice is choose from any one or combinations of methods, depending on how the deck instinctively feels in your hands. The experience of exploring a new deck is far more driven by in-the-moment intuition than it is by something regimented and methodical. Or it is for me. If regimented works for you, follow THAT intuition, follow that guidance. Here are some ideas that I’ve used.

  • Pull a random card daily, then think about the meaning given by the author (or your favorite reference if the deck doesn’t have the infamous “little white book.” Think about the card and the given meaning as a “daily meditation” type exercise. This is a great way to learn Tarot reading in the first place, even before you invest in your first deck. I explain how you can do that in “PeaceTarot” ($2 e-book, here) If you get a repeat, just put it back or just try another draw for another card. OR stay with the repeating card to see if you are picking up on some other facet of the card that you missed the first day.
  • Try this same thing, only going methodically card by card. When you pull randomly often there are repeats depending on the energy of the day. This introduces every card with no repeats. I found this to be a little tedious, but it works.
  • Browse the cards in one big sit-down. One card a day takes forever it seems, but you get a deep working knowledge of the deck. If you are an avid deck collector, that might not suit you. I like the daily method because I very seldom get new decks, and only use one or two regularly. But I know a lot of readers who are avid collectors. I can’t blame them. There are some truly beautiful, enchanting, fascinating decks out there. This is where the “without a net” technique really shines. Look through a new deck card by card. Gaze at each card a minute or two and see what spontaneous intuition you get from the card. That’s how I knew the Dugan/Evans Witches Tarot was my favorite to date. I fell for the color palette at first sight, and the impressions came instantly, clearly, easily even with pictures online.
  • Do a card interview. Ask a deck about itself, or ask about your work with it. One of the best things I’ve read about new decks is from Kate over on It may seem a little crazy the way we readers anthropomorphize our cards and the way they take on personalities. Arguably, it is just psychological projection, but so what? Right tool for the right job I always say, so right deck for the right job goes too. If B.B. King can name his guitar Lucille, I can have a tete-a-tete with a stack of cards. For example, my Black Cats deck resonates with yes/no readings…probably because of the connection with “Zombie Cat”. Animal Wise Tarot is just for me, and NOT for clients. Withes Tarot loves reversals, and I take them more seriously from that deck than others. Tarot Illuminati is very chaotic and can be overwhelming, so that deck asks to be approached ritually, deliberately, with a clear head. My RWS deck is very social and loves a party. I tend to use that deck for parties more than individual readings for that reason, plus that is the diva celebrity performer deck because it is so recognizable to the public at large from movies etc. I have a sneaking suspicion that Heart of Stars wants to be my blog deck. I’m so grateful for his kindness in letting me photograph and use it.
  • JUST USE IT. Jump in with both feet and do some readings for yourself. When you feel comfortable, then you can roll out the new deck for clients (if you read for others at all). This gives a hands on feel and works within your comfort zone. It is still basically an interview with a deck, but more subtle. The deck shows you what it is all about rather than telling you. Different angle, same result.

What I learned as a blogger and a writer:

  • Always be prepared to sacrifice an idea to the editing gods. Leave it on the editing room floor. It’s better to make an interesting single post than to force a finish to a series that just isn’t working. Let it go.
  • Symmetry and completeness are less important than good communication.
  • Readers first.

For energy and cyber-feng-shui reasons mentioned before, and a zero spam tolerance, I’m not accepting or publishing comments through the blog…BUT I am always happy to hear your thoughts by e-mail. Let me know what you think about getting to know a new deck.

Question of the Day

Auuugah! Abort! Abort! Abort!

I love science.

We’ll get into the superficial, seeming contradictions between Tarot, spirituality and science some other day.  For now,  Imma indulge my science loving geek girl side.

In the words of my all time favorite TV show, Mythbusters, “Failure is always an option.”

Only ideas that are confronted can ever change. The best way to challenge an idea is to kick the tires and take them out for a test drive. Also known as an experiment. Tarot, holistic health is based on experimentation and science. Ok, ok I can practically hear your eyes rolling out there. True enough, the 100% accurate predictions, promise to fix your love life, only see me and send money crowd doesn’t pass the smell test, scientific or otherwise. True enough, you can’t objectively measure and double blind control subjective things, but that hasn’t stopped psychology has it? Neither should we intuitive folk be cowed by science snobs. THINK about it. Tarot has been in use for problem solving, personal enrichment, stress management and defacto therapy for hundreds of years.  That is a heckuva data set. Everyone and their uncle weighs in on Tarot etc. Those skilled in it write books and practice it, skeptics harpoon it (with and without reason) and charlatans exploit it, but it is clearly doing SOMETHING or people follow the empty promises so easily and they wouldn’t spend their hard earned money on it so consistently. The difference between the good the bad and the ugly falls to ethics. Science celebrates the ethic of honesty as much as we do.

Honesty meaning admitting you have failed. That’s always an option, remember? Not only is it an option, it is something to be celebrated. My favorite part of watching “Meet the Robinsons” with my daughter is when Lewis’ invention fails. Everyone cheers. Everyone is thrilled for him. “From failure you learn. From success, not so much”

So why am I opining about failure? Because I’m pulling the plug on the “Tarot Without a Net” series. It isn’t a failure as a Tarot exercise, but it is kind of a bust as far as being an interesting blog series for you to read. I encourage you to watch Phil Plait’s TED talk below. The first lesson of failure (even tiny ones like this) is admit them to move the larger body of knowledge forward. Admitting failures is an ethical imperative and an important part of science…and Tarot.

Read More: Lessons Learned from Tarot Without a Net

Tarot Without a Net: The Chariot

I feel a movie mistake coming on, but I can make up for it with a double pop culture reference.

I’m guessing this is Ben Hur, with what I’ve heard is the most epic chariot scene ever filmed. Again, I haven’t seen it, except the chariot clip on award shows and such.

At first glance, it gives all the classic impressions associated with The Chariot: the need to focus, to be in the moment, give your full attention to something.

The gladiator image really catches my attention though. It expands my thinking about the card, actually. I see the gladiator presentation in terms of a warrior. As a martial artist (a little Kung Fu back in the day, now it is very casual, occasional Taijiquan and Qi gong) I’ve always kind of wondered which Tarot card would be the best “warrior” card. I don’t think you can narrow it down to one card, really. The whole concept is complex, and takes several cards to touch on all the philosophical facets of “warrior” especially in the honor/busidho sense of things. This comes very close, however.

Martial artists and warriors often meditate. According to Navy Seals do breathing patterns akin to yogic and meditation practices to enhance calm.

Calm, focused, in the moment, paying full attention to the task at hand…all traits that warriors and chariot drivers share (chariots were, after all, used in battle too)

Now for the artist’s guide…I’m curious to see if it really is Ben Hur.;;;\

LOL nope….Achellies in the movie Troy. Ah well. Haven’t seen that one either. But that is fine by me….I still like the artwork, color, composition of the cards even if I don’t get the exact movie reference

WHICH, by the way, is an excellent insight into how Tarot works overall. Spirit/energy/intuition might not give us the EXACT information of the message, the reading might not predict your true love’s hair color…but the essence of the message always somehow makes it through.

Oops…oh well. Puts me in the mood for that other pop culture reference. I liked the cartoon “Jimmy Neutron” as much or more than my daughter did. In one episode, Jimmy and Hugh go camping leaving Mrs. Neutron alone for the weekend. Her response? Gather up the dog and break out the cookie dough and gladiator movies. That sounds pretty in the moment…as in ENJOYING the moment….to me.

Wishing you a wonderful moment right here, right now.

Tarot Without a Net: The Lovers


*Spoiler Alert*

The boat sinks.

I’ve never seen “Titanic” and precisely zero interest in ever watching it. I don’t care for romance movies, and from everything I’ve heard the movie has a disturbing lack of comedy and/or spaceships.

I have no idea why the artist picked this image to represent heart’s desire, or even lusty romance. I’m not feeling a lot of connection with the deck through this card, probably from my impression of the movie it represents way more than the card or the artwork itself.

The Lover’s is an interesting and often misunderstood card, thanks to the movie mythos that the lovers card means a hot romance is on the way with the marriage of a lifetime soon to follow. In my experience, the card is far more abstract than that. It is more akin to “I love ice cream” than the handfasting, marriage, committed, soulmate, love of a lifetime energy that we see in the Two of Cups. The Lovers symbolizes the hot flame that burns short rather than the enduring ember that burns long. Don’t get me wrong, there is some connection, because many if not all long lasting relationships start with SOME sort of spark. Maybe that is why the artist chose this love story from a movie. Maybe the movie portrays a hot romance that gets cut short by a quick dunk in the north Atlantic. Still, it niggles at me that it is wrapped up in a romantic relationship. The Lovers card can be more than that….which is saying something considering how enormous romance is within the human heart. And that’s with leaving the hormones out of it. Like everything there is a two sided yin and yang of it. (See “Arcana in Balance: The Lovers from the Tarotbytes archives).

It isn’t to say that lust, sex, love, desire and full throttle joy of living is bad. Quite the opposite. On one hand, all of those things are part of normal human existence and is as worthy of acceptance as any other emotion. That physicality and abject hedonism is certainly one part of it, but it also transcends the physical. On the other hand, the desire Lover’s card can extend far beyond the realm of romantic relationship. It touches our careers….do we earn our living doing something we are passionate about? In that way The Lovers card asks us to consider our purpose in life, our raison d’etre, our calling if you will. Emotionally it touches on satisfaction, contentment, and emotional needs being met. Intellectually, it touches curiosity, enthusiasm, and voracious learning. Arguably, passion resides in the mind as much as the heart or the hormones. You can be a passionate bowler, or stamp collector as well as being capable of passionate romance. You can be passionate about anything. Love is a big concept that encompasses all sorts of things.

So lets pick up the book and see what the artist has to say:

Whew! Even though we differ in movie taste, the basic interpretation is similar. He also talks about emotions, the joy of living and loving what you do. The connection to the card is similar (it is a fun to get that kind of validation every now and again, even if you have been  reading Tarot a long time) even if my connection to the movie represented is obviously quite different. That is the danger of using pop culture references in Tarot. Not everyone has seen every reference or interprets the reference material the same way, even if the intuitive engagement with the Tarot card itself is identical.

When a pop culture reference comes up in a reading (regardless of the deck I’m using) but the client either doesn’t know the reference or responds to it differently than the message and card intend…the thing to do is drop the reference like a hot potato. When that happens you either have to find a different cultural reference that does communicate the intended message OR leave references aside and use your good old fashioned vocabulary. Adjectives are our friends. References like these can be wonderful communication tools, but they aren’t worth holding onto so tight that the reading suffers.


New Stuff on the Way!

TaoCraft Tarot is still evolving to serve you better.  You can order email readings right from the home page with SECURE PayPal buttons. Mala and Reiki orders coming soon. Come back often to check out all the updates, tweets and changes that will make TaoCraft your one stop shop for Tarot, distance Reiki, tutorials, and more.



Not the Mercury retrograde thing AGAIN

mini rant about mercury retrograde

All the blame-y victim-y whine-y energy and posts about friggen’ Mercury damn retrograde on social media ( looking at you Instagram) has officially gotten on my last nerve.


Blaming poor choices or random gliches on “Mercury retrograde” is like saying you stubbed your toe because it is raining in Poughkeepsie. Magick, energy, intuition, creativity, life force, the random crap of living – it is all bigger than one zippy little planet in one out of the way solar system in a really really big universe. You are part of the big stuff. You are rightfullly as much a part of the Cosmos as is Mercury. Now, knock it off about the damn retrograde, OWN your life and go be amazing.

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.

Tarot Without a Net: The Emperor

I am really enjoying getting to know the Heart of Stars Tarot deck by Thom Pham (used in the blog series with his permission). The idea of using modern movie and TV icons on the deck as he does is SO in my wheelhouse. Pop culture is a conceptual Rosetta Stone, a perfect analogy for communicating the more esoteric or arcane parts of Tarot.

I was totally fangirling over seeing a Star Wars image. I’ve been a Star Wars fan from the word go when Episode IV first hit the world back in ’77. Given that there is an actual Emperor in the movie it took a little squinting and staring to wrap my head around seeing Obi Wan on the Emperor card. The villain Emperor certainly wouldn’t work for the card, but at first blush I would have pegged Obi Wan more of a Hermit type, since we first meet him at his isolated home in the Tatooine desert. Fast forward to the scenes in the Millennium Falcon where Obi Wan is teaching Luke to use the force in light saber training, and the conversations he had with Luke as a Force ghost in later movies.

Every Jedi is an emperor. Every one of us is an emperor.

It isn’t explicit by any means, but think of Qwi Gon and the earlier Jedi in the prequals. Think of the independence, self-direction and responsibility. The Jedi counsel were harsh taskmasters in some respects. They had to hold each and every Jedi to account. Each and every Jedi was ultimately responsible for their actions. Each and every Jedi was the emperor of their own being and their own destiny and their own actions.

And so are we. We may not be able to control our external circumstances at all. Internal emotions are normal, natural, and are not meant to be stifled, suppressed or in themselves controlled. We DO have 100% control AND 100% responsibility for how we react to those external circumstances and internal emotions. What we do and chose in response to those things determine our destiny. We are the absolute Emperors over our internal world even as we work to be in harmony with external energies and our internal emotional pulls. We are the rulers and protectors of our actions, even if we strive to serve as the Jedi do.

Let’s see what the artist has to say about Obi Wan…

He says it’s Anthony Hopkins as Odin in the movie Thor.

Ah well, that makes sense in the leader / ruler context WAY more than Obi Wan Kenobi. I totally missed that. Funny, since I’ve seen Thor and am a big fan of Marvel Universe movies (sorry DC folks)

But I get the vibe. He adds a mentoring, paternal element, as Odin was Thor’s father. I guess Obi Wan is close, a surrogate father with a connection to Luke’s actual father. Either way….older male father figure lends stability,  & teaches us to be responsible leaders