Just thinking/rambling…

Why tarot?

Wow, I have really been off the tarot wagon this year! I think I’m making another comeback though. I see a lot of people asking how other people use tarot. It’s not a super common question but it did come up a couple days ago. I figured it would be nice to list it all out.

I see a lot of people asking how other people use tarot. It’s not a super common question but it did come up a couple days ago. I figured it would be nice to list it all out. As you’ll see, it’s not a spiritual or religious thing for me but I still have so many uses for tarot.

My Uses

Tarot as a Thinking Tool

This is how I usually use the tarot. I don’t know if “thinking tool” is the best name but it’s what I’ve been using for awhile. I like doing non-divinatory spreads, with positions that ask probing questions. If the questions allow me to muse over something and spark ideas, then that’s the spread for me. I also just like doing some freeform kind of stuff to let the thoughts flow.

Tarot for Art Appreciation

I love art. I love it so fucking hard. Having a tarot deck is like owning a tiny, portable gallery. If I could get paid to look at art all day I’d be the happiest person ever.

Tarot for Learning Random Cool Shit

You’re not going to be able to do this with every card, and certainly not every deck but if you take the time to study a deck, you can discover all sorts of stuff.

A really exciting example of this is the 8 of Wands from the Dust II Onyx deck. Check out what I mean on the artists’ IG right here.

Tarot for Symbology

I am fascinated with symbology. It’s fun seeing how each deck’s artist interprets a card. I think that looking at a lot of different decks and artists can help you deepen your understanding of tarot.

Tarot for Divination

I don’t believe in divination but I will do those sorts of spreads if I’m bored or having fun with friends. That’s right, pearl-clutchers, I have fun with my decks! I don’t take these kinds of readings seriously but when a friend gets something out of it, that’s awesome.

Tarot for Meditation

This is a really popular way to use tarot. Here’s a post I made on one of my meditations. I don’t do it often but it’s a totally legit and awesome practice.

Tarot for Writing

I don’t write very much anymore but sometimes it’s fun to use tarot to brainstorm with. Do a Google search to find a lot of different helpful resources.

Tarot for Spells

This is another thing I don’t do very often because I’m lazy af. But it’s such a cool and interesting way of doing spells. Tarot Spells by Janina Ranee is pretty great and the Modern Spellcaster’s deck is great!

Card of the Day

I go through periods where I’ll do a card of the day for a couple weeks in a row. Then I’ll not do it for a long time. Doing a card a day has multiple uses but I like to pick my own card and think about it throughout the day. You can try to match the card to things (events or otherwise) in the day. You can also use it as a focus for your mood or personality but I feel that’s more spell-like and works great with oracle cards.

Other Uses

Tarot for Shadow Work

Shadow work is a pretty huge for tarot users, it seems. It’s not in my list but I think it might be pretty similar to some of the other tarot things I do.

Tarot for Gaming

I’m interested in using tarot for games but haven’t really put the effort into it yet. Here’s a discussion about using tarot for games. I’ve been particularly interested in this game here but have had a hard time figuring it out.

If there are more uses I can’t think of them at the moment! If there’s something you think is missing let me know. And do let me know what you use tarot for. It would be interesting to see!


Tarot Lies #2: You have to be gifted your first deck

hah. I started this post months ago. I guess it’s worth finishing and putting up…

Previously on Tarot Lies, we discussed how we’re told we can’t read for ourselves. Today I’ll be ranting about another fucking lie that really gets to me: “You have to be gifted your first deck.” From what I can tell this lie isn’t spread as much as the first one. But it still makes me roll my eyes.


This deck was gifted to me in my early days of taroting, back in 2001ish.

Don’t get me wrong about gifting. It’s wonderful to give and be given a deck! And if it’s your first one, that’s fantastic! Even better if it’s a hand-me-down, something from an elder, perhaps? That is really awesome and I am jealous of people who have family members who hand their decks down. SO JELLY.

But let’s get fucking real here. If you’re afraid of buying your own deck because you think it’s bad luck, something bad will happen or whatever – you’re just being superstitious. STAHP. We don’t like superstition around here. (if you do then I apologize but you’re at the wrong blog)

I’ve done some poking around to see if there is some sort of origin behind this silly lie but I couldn’t find anything. So let’s break this down, look at it a little more logically than “DURR HURR SUPERSTITION”. (wow I’m really being a bit of a cunt now)

Gifted a First Deck


  • Free deck, yay!
  • If it came from someone you respect, that makes it special.
  • It could be a good way to get your feet wet in the hobby, especially if you’re nervous about picking your own deck (which you totally shouldn’t be!). And specially if you hadn’t really thought to try it out before.


  • This is the biggest, most detrimental con I can think of: many people would be waiting their whole lives to be given a deck and that’s just depressing.
  • You may not like the deck given to you and if you’re completely new to it, it may put you off the hobby.
  • It’s just silly. Go buy your own deck if you can.


Buying your own Deck


  • You got to pick your own deck, something that you were (hopefully) attracted to.
  • You get to be the one to break it in! Nothing wrong with receiving a used deck but it’s also nice to be the first to break in a deck. It’s clean, fresh, and crisp, and probably smells amazing and doesn’t have anybody else’s cooties on it.
  • You’re taking control of your wants and needs, which is rather powerful and very important here.
  • The process of looking for your very first deck can be so fun and educational. At the very least if you’re an art lover you can enjoy it as an art journey.


  • You just spent $15+ on something that maybe you won’t actually be into. That can be a huge chunk of money in some situations.
  • Like the last pro above, looking for your first deck can be overwhelming to some people. You may feel like you may pick the “wrong” one and that can be detrimental to your tarot future if you let it.
  • I really can’t think of any other cons. Just go buy your own deck!


Final Thoughts

I feel like the pros greatly outnumber the cons when it comes to buying your first deck. I really don’t know what else to say about it!

I think the only way this “rule” can work is if you have a family that is into this sort of stuff and you know it’s just a matter of time before you’ll receive your first deck. Like I said above, I think that kind of tradition is pretty neat if all parties involved are into it.

So tell me! Did you recieve your first deck as a gift? Tell me all about it! Did you have an interest in it before? Was it a family tradition thing? Was it random? Was it something you asked for? Tellll meeeee.


Facebook group for skeptical/atheist tarotists

So without rambling too much: I was getting frustrated about all the silly nonsense, woo, and general superstition that runs thick in the online tarot community. It has actually been making me feel rather hate-y and snarky. So I decided to do a little something about it:

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 5.35.28 PM

It’s a small gathering so far, and rather quiet. I’m not very good at organizing people and getting them interested in things but I’m surprised at how many people have been interested in it. And we’ve had some great conversations.

I think most of us are woo-tolerant (who doesn’t want to believe in fluffy magic shit?). This place just offers a respite from the mass of people whose tarot practice doesn’t include much logic.

If you’re a skeptic, atheist, agnostic or general non-believer with an interest in tarot, join us! We like newbies and seasoned cardslingers alike. 

Tarot lies #1: You can’t read for yourself!

I was originally going to call this post “Everybody has been lying to you about Tarot” but that seemed a bit dramatic.


clusterfuck tarot tower aptly represents my feels

I have so many bones to pick in the tarot world and the longer I’m in the online community the meatier the bones get. And the more I feel called to help people read tarot, especially for themselves, the more twitchy I get.

This post is a knee-jerk reaction to a video I saw on YouTube this morning. The lady in the video says:

“It’s recommended that you only do tarot readings for yourself at least twice a month. Anything else and you’re going to be getting regurgitated information thrown at you. So if you could do it no more than twice a month that would be really really awesome.”

There is this stigma or superstition about reading for yourself. It’s not every reader but it’s just way too many. Not only can you read tarot for yourself I think you should.

I’m going to mention two things a newbie might hear about reading for themselves, with a suggestion on what they should be told instead.

1. “You’re going to be getting regurgitated information thrown at you.”

I’m quoting from the video I mentioned above, of course, but I’ve seen it worded differently all across the web. I read almost exclusively for myself and I’ve never had “regurgitated information”.

Instead try something like: “You should try reading for yourself for awhile and see how it goes. Don’t forget to journal about it! Figure out if it’s for you and if it’s not you are most certainly encouraged to try again later after you have learned more about the tarot and grown as a person.”

2. “You can’t read objectively for yourself.”

This is a big one and it’s really understandable but I still call BULLSHIT. People are perfectly capable of being objective with their own readings. The problem is of course that there are people are think they can but are just fooling themselves. I don’t want newbs hearing this and turning them off the idea of ever reading for themselves (unless they know they can never be objective).

Try: “To help you stay objective you can get a second opinion on your reading from someone else and make sure you’re really reading what the cards are saying and not trying to make them fit what you want them to say.”

I’m on /r/tarot and some Facebook groups and I’m always seeing people asking about a second opinion on their spreads. I think it’s a pretty good idea for the most part.

My only warning is if you’re an intuitive reader, the cards may tell you something non-traditional and a traditional reader may tell you you’re wrong. In that case you really do need to have a good think and ask yourself if you’re really being objective.

Biddy has a good post on this. Here is another, but similar article.

Final Thoughts

There are a handful of other reasons people give on this issue but they are kind of silly and not as big as the two above. I think the basic idea I’m trying to get across here is “Don’t let others dictate your tarot practice. If it works for you, do it!”

(Tarot Lie #2 is up!)



Mary-el Fool meditation/exploration

This isn’t an attempt to build a personal database of card meanings. It’s just for tarot study and to pass the time in a more productive way than browsing /r/AskReddit when I can’t sleep.


Last night’s meditation, as best I can recall it:

I slip into the Fool’s world without fuss, no sound. It’s a smooth, silky transition.It’s quiet here, almost like being in a sound booth. Everything is still in time and I can move about. Smells a bit salty?

He doesn’t notice I’m here. The streamers in the air move slightly as if there is a breeze, perhaps from the door left open behind me. The dragons (are they wyverns?) seem to be made of silk. and they reach out all across the lands going in all directions like they’re connected to things far away. Like a messy web, that starts with him and flows off him in all directions but forward.

There is a cliff behind him and I don’t know if he jumped off, fell, or was pushed, but I get the impression he never “fell”, he just floated off and is moving forward and rising. I look at the waterfall and follow it down but everything below is in a mist. 

He has one arm raised, ending in a fist. I wonder if he’s defending himself from something or ready to punch? Maybe he doesn’t like butterflies. 

I figure I’m ready to see what he sees, what he’s heading towards. Or see what he is attacking or may be attacking him. I tuck myself in under his right side, hang an arm around his waist and look out… it’s a vast world out there that continues further than the eye can see, into mist like the waterfall he’s left behind. But there’s something about that world. It’s fairy devoid of much. Not a wasteland but not full of life. No animals, no trees, other people or buildings. It actually reminds me of Minecraft.

I wonder if his web connects him to the world like feelers.

I wonder if it’s us viewers he intends to block or attack.

“But you’re an atheist!”

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now but just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say. I still don’t know what I want to say, but at least it’ll get out there.

I’ll try to remember the exact scene and words but it was fairly quick and simple:

I was sitting in the living room doing tarot stuff, surrounded by books, decks, and doodles, while witching clips of Atheist Experience on YouTube. My boyfriend walks in and says something to the effect of “Aren’t you a hypocrite if you’re a spiritualist watching atheist videos?” (or maybe atheist was switched with spiritualist, but you get the idea)

(After writing this post I asked said BF if he remembers what he said. He claims he didn’t say “hypocrite” but something more like “odd combination”. I’ll concede that it was something of a mix of the two, but either way what was said basically was like him saying my beliefs were incompatible, in a way that kind of got under my skin and stuck with me)

Whoa there. Whoa. Hold. The. Phone.

I’ll skip past Obvious Problem #1 which is We’ve Been Together Nearly Five Years & It Sounds Like You Don’t Even Know Me because this isn’t a relationship blog.

Obvious Problem #2: I am an atheist. I pretty much have been all my life except for a few brief years when I was trying to be a Christian before I realized I was just faking it.

Obvious Problem #3: I am not a spiritualist. I like a lot of things that spiritualists and woo woo people like because it’s interesting as fuck to me, and fun. Not because I believe in them. I may have had “training” in things like aura reading, alternative healing, etc. But that doesn’t mean I put any stock in it. And on the rare occasion I do a reading for someone else I do it for the lulz or state that it’s not an actual fortune telling tool, it’s just to help them think about their problem.

Obvious Problem #3: One can actually be an atheist and an spiritualist. Or atheist and pagan (arguably of course), atheist and whoknowswhatelse. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in any deity. An atheist can believe in spirits and woo because those aren’t deity, it just happens to be less likely because skepticism appears to run deep in atheism.

It’s a rare day that someone calls me a hypocrite or anything negative along those lines. When it happens it (usually) shuts me down to think… am I really being a Insert Bad Thing Here? If I am, is it a problem to me? Yes? OK I’mma fix that right now.

But not in this scenario. I had to remind him him that tarot is a thinking tool for me. He seemed a bit surprised? I’m not sure what he was thinking at that point but he seemed to accept it and quietly left the room.

The point of all this is you can come from any walk of life, any belief, and use the tarot in one way or another.

Some people just collect the decks for their art or novelty. Some people just have one deck and use it for writing stories. Some people use it as a thinking tool. Some people use it to “predict the future”, and who knows what other things. These people are Christians, pagans, atheists, agnostics, preachers, doctors, writers, lovers, haters, etc.

I think that tarot can be beneficial to most people, if not everyone. Just because I don’t believe there is anything supernatural behind the cards doesn’t mean I’m a hypocrite for using them.

And I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about that.


What is your “year card”? +bonus altar stuffs

*edit* I’m participating in my first blog hop on 2/29 but the topic was one I already blogged about so here goes!


I love numbers! One of my favorite past times growing up was just randomly playing with numbers and letters. I was terrible at actual real math but I pretty much did numerology before I even knew it was a thing. /hipsterwitch

The video below is from Kelly-Ann Maddox, whom I have mixed feelings about (none of them are bad!). Skip to about 4:00 if you want the actual content.

I got 7, which is Chariot. That’s cool, I’m just hoping that means I’m not moving this year.

So I was just going to do a simple thing: share a pic of the Chariot from my newest deck. But no. I can’t do anything simply. ALL DECKS ON BOARD!


I even dug up my pendulum (yes yes I know, ideomotor effect). I bought it around the same time I got the selenite wand up there. I’ve been trying to think if it has a place with my tarot work or if I should do something else with it. With some minor adjustments it would make a fantastic necklace or prop for one of my larger dolls.

And then I thought… I have the groundwork for a perfect pendulum thingy here. Why not use it as a way to think about a selection of cards? I quite like just sitting, staring, comparing. Maybe the pendulum can be a fun way to facilitate that?


I may not even do it at all but I wanted to share the idea anyway so hopefully it’ll inspire others. You could use the swing of the pendulum to choose a card to meditate on, or let it choose 2 cards (swing to one card, pick it, swing to to another one, pick that one) to compare or whatever.

Or just let the pendulum sit there and be fucking pretty.

Either way I’m glad I dug it up and I’d love to know what you think of this and if you know about anything similar. I’m 119% sure this is not a unique thing.

Thanks for stopping by!


Why “Council of the Shadows”?

So this is the rather blah story behind this blog’s title. I love names and coming up with names and having them be perfect. Comment below with your blog’s title story!

I have been an Internet junkie since the mid 90’s. I started making websites as soon as I could. I’d start a website, drop it, start another one with a different idea, remake it several times, make several other pages, drop them, blahblah.

I did the same thing with blogs when they were popping up everywhere (does anybody else remember “me me”s?).

At some point along the way I started a blog or website called Council of the Shadows. It was just a name that popped into my head and I thought sounded cool. I can’t quite remember what kind of content I was writing under that name but I did of course drop those projects as well. The memory of that title quickly vanished.

Fast forward several years and I figure I’ll start up a tarot blog. Wondered what I should call it and I promply remembered Council of the Shadows. I didn’t take a moment to consider anything else. It seemed so right and meaningful to use it. While I don’t really believe in spirits and think all this shit is just in my head, it still frames a nice idea to connect with.

Very shortly after that I heard about something called “shadow work”. And I heard peope using tarot to do shadow work. Suddenly my special little title had even more meaning to it. Naw, I don’t believe anything mystical or unwordly happened but it’s still neat, y’know?

I’m not really interested in using shadow work but I am interested in learning about it. Maybe I’ll use it in the future, probably not. If I do, the title will become rather approriate I think.