Most mornings, I pull a card for the day from a tarot deck (or sometimes another type of deck).  One of the best ways for me to centre and focus prior to picking a card is to do some journal writing.  After my observations, thoughts, and feelings find a home on the page, the card speaks to me with greater resonance.  From today’s journal entry:

The Ninth of July.  One month after my birthday.  It’s been one month already, one twelfth of a year already.  Zoom!  Time is walking swiftly.  It brings to mind Mary Oliver’s question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” as well as a phrase by Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”  Is it enough to be a unique cell in the body of creation?  Who can I be and what can I create that will be a valuable donation to the world and to myself?  O Infinite Will to Good, let me be the most me possible while I can.  Blessed be.

Then I chuckled as I turned over the 3 of Wands from the Motherpeace Tarot.


The picture plus Karen Vogel’s text and the number and suit system I use suggested: Defining new roles I want to play and making plans for presenting that self in ways that leave a lasting mark/impression through creative expression; a spontaneous outpouring and dynamic exchange of creative energy through communication, teaching, and learning that helps me figure out who I most want to be in the world.

Not only did the card mirror my reflections, it suggested possible solutions.  Today, I will express myself creatively through drawing and writing, I will share what I know in respectful communications, and I will learn what I can from my exchanges with others.  By doing so, I will be at least one step closer to knowing what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life.

If you’re an an intuitive guide, astrological counsellor, hand analyst, tarot consultant, oracle reader, numerologist, stone caster, or other helper who uses symbolic insight modalities, this session is for YOU.

GOING (or STAYING) PRO IN THE INTUITIVE ARTS, a teleseminar with James Wells.   

Tuesday, July 22 at 12:00 noon Eastern Time (9 a.m. Pacific / 5 p.m. British).      


I’ll offer you some user-friendly tips on going/staying pro and take you through a simple process of discovery so that your practice is more specific to you and those you’re called to serve.  Clarify what you offer, build on your skills, set some goals, get to know your clientele, and learn how to set fees!  Q&A time and sharing will also help people to learn from one another. 

A link to the recording of the call will be emailed to all participants (and those who can’t make it, but would like to purchase the recording) along with a bibliography and a personal one-card reading afterwards.

Only $10 to sign up!  PayPal payments can be sent to circleways.james@gmail.com

I’m looking forward to chatting with you on the 22nd of July!

** The number to call will be emailed to you upon receipt of payment.


Image: Prince/Page of Pentacles from the New Tarot by Hurley, Hurley, and Horler.

Here’s a third question in the series about my work, tools, and processes.  See my response to it below the pictures.

Hi James,

I’d like to explore deck selection when reading for others.  Is it the reader’s or the querent’s privilege to select?  And how powerful is the deck itself in a reading?


MM, St. Petersburg, FL, U.S.A.


Thank you for your question, MM! 

In my own tarot consulting practice, I prefer to invite the querent to choose the deck that we’ll use for hir session.  There are three principle reasons for doing so. 

First, I want the client to be comfortable with the images and symbols that we’ll be using to explore hir topic, so s/he gets to select a pack that appeals to hir according to hir aesthetic or philosophical tastes.

Second, I want to let hir know that we’ll be in a dialogue rather than me just “reading at” hir.  Asking the person to pick a deck gets that rolling as s/he looks at the pictures and I say each deck’s name and mention who created it.

Third, the consultations I offer emphasise choice-centredness, taking responsibility for creating one’s life through one’s choices.  Laying out a few sets of cards and asking someone to choose sets a precedent that the reading will be about making conscious decisions. 

If the session is in person, I lay three or four decks on the table for the readee to look at — something traditional, something “far out”, and something in between those extremes.  If the consultation takes place by phone or Skype, I ask the client if s/he has a tarot deck there.  If so, we use hir deck and I match up the cards with the same deck on my end.  If s/he doesn’t have a tarot pack on hir end, I simply choose whatever is close by here and we use that.

With regard to your question about how powerful the deck itself is in a reading, I’d say that it matters.  I work very interactively and conversationally.  Sometimes I talk about a card and sometimes I invite the querent to talk about the image, guiding hir in an exploratory process.  If the client doesn’t like the deck or feels uncomfortable with the images, s/he will be less likely to engage.  If s/he likes the pictures or feels some kinship with the worldview behind them, s/he is more likely to dig in.  The more s/he digs in, the more likely it is s/he will have an experience that leads to richer insights.

Other tarot practitioners may have different views on this.  Some only work with one deck, so that’s what’s employed in every reading.  Other readers pick the deck themselves according to their mood or what they feel will fit the readee’s topic of exploration.

I hope that helps, MM!


Images: Four versions of Trump 2, the High Priestess — from the Ukiyoe Tarot, the Medicine Woman Tarot, the Karma Tarot, and the Camoin-Jodorowsky Tarot de Marseille.


Enshrine the Image

One way to honour the concepts of one’s card(s) after a reading is to create a shrine or altar to those concepts for personal contemplation and to encourage constructive personal change.

Here is one I made yesterday in a park using my card of the day, Remembrance from the Oracle of Initiation.  The park bench reminds me of childhood joys of listening to the breeze in the trees in our backyard and in parks of times past.  The hollow nutshell from last year, the leaves blown down a few days prior, and freshly blown down leaves show various stages of the past that led to the present moment.  It makes me mindful that I am the sum of all that has gone before and that who I am now is the ancestor of my future self/selves.  How can I create that future self more consciously based on who I am now?  The dark and light sticks remind me of the dark and light pillars of the tarot’s High Priestess, my soul card (based on the numbers of my birth date).  The card itself, in all its luminous beauty, is held in the middle.  Creating this simple piece felt like an homage to my earlier self and to my beloved ancestors.  Bits and pieces of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #30 came to mind so I recited what I could remember as a sort of prayer.



What do you most want to honour, invoke, or evoke?  What image(s) best represent it?  How might you enshrine that image(s) to give it a sacred holding space?  Please feel free to share it with me/us here in the Comments.

Here’s the second question in our series about the tools and processes that I use in my work:

“How do you set up your space for in-person readings?

JE, Portland, OR, U.S.A.”


Thanks for your question, JE!  I keep things simple here.  There’s a wide table that can accommodate several cards, if necessary.  I don’t use a tablecloth because it bothers me when the cloth bunches up and slides around as we lay out cards, pick them up to look at them, etc.  Also, the plain black table surface provides a backdrop that makes the tarot images easy to see.  I don’t like doo-dads on the table (statues, crystals ,etc.) because, to me, they distract us from the tarot experience.  However, there are sculptures, drums, art prints, and books in the room that make it feel personal and special.  Even though I’m a person who enjoys music, I prefer the room to be quiet during a consultation so the client and I can hear one another clearly.

When the client arrives, there are three or four decks on the table from which they can choose (more about that in another article), a copy of the spread(s) that we’ll be using, and a cup of tea or glass of water for each of us (our conversation will make us thirsty).  I also have blank paper and pens so I can take notes as we go along and so that the client can take a few notes if s/he chooses. 

We sit on a long sofa side-by-side so we can see the tarot pictures from the same angle and to remember that we are co-creators of the tarot encounter rather than me acting like an “expert” who talks at them from the other side of the desk.  There’s a large glass door on the other side of the table, giving us a view of trees, plants, and sunshine — it’s lovely to be able to see the natural world during the session.

In a nutshell, we sit together on a comfortable seat by a spacious table that holds cards, notes, and beverages in a pleasant, welcoming space that has a view of the back yard.  Easy!  I hope that answers your question, JE.


Image: Detail from the Ten of Flame Songs from the Songs for the Journey Home Tarot by Catherine Cook and Dwariko von Sommaruga.

I recently posted an invitation on Facebook for people to write to me about the tools and processes I use in my work, especially (but not only) related to the tarot and to circle process.  Here’s the first note I received, followed by my response.

Hi James,

I’m curious about long-distance tarot readings by phone or Skype.  Do they work?  How do they work?  Are they as effective?  Doesn’t the person you’re reading for need to touch the cards to get their energy into them?  Thanks for answering these questions.


JD, Brampton, ON

Thank you for your note, JD!  I do many tarot consultations by Skype and by telephone.  For me, a tarot session is simply a form of conversation, so any mode of holding a conversation with another person will “work”.  My way of using the tarot with other people is very interactive — the client asks questions, I ask questions, the client makes statements, I make statements, etc. — whether in person, by phone, or on Skype.  There’s a lot of mutual feedback, so as long as we can hear one another, the other person and I can talk about the card images and concepts and relate them to her/his topic of exploration.  It’s less about energy and more about having a clear intention and staying on track with the topic and questions.  Some people have their own tarot deck, so they’ll pick cards on their end and I’ll match them up with the same deck on my end.  Other people don’t have a tarot deck, so I’ll simply pick cards here and show them the pictures if we’re on Skype or briefly describe them to the client if we’re on the phone.  The main thing to remember is that we’re holding a conversation that helps him/her tap into his/her inner wisdom, so there’s no need for a tarot client to be in the room with me; s/he can be anywhere in the world and have a helpful, constructive tarot encounter.  I hope that answers your questions, JD.  Please feel free to keep in touch!



Image: Seven of Coins from the Karma Tarot by Birgit Boline Erfurt

A dream from early this morning:

I’m playing the organ in a large brick church building — an improvisation on “Tantum ergo sacramentum” using whole-tone clusters.  As I play, I’m aware that the walls are now covered in Marseille-style tarot cards.  Some sections are in suits or majors and other sections are entire decks.  Sometimes they’re sideways to fit the wall and at other times they’re upright and filling an entire space.  This sight inspires me to play even more beautifully and creatively.  It feels so good.

A few tidbits that come to my mind from this dream include:

  • experiencing clusters of wholeness through creativity and tarot
  • tarot as container or temple for prayer and contemplation
  • making tarot fit the situation
  • tarot as creative inspiration
  • tarot as sacrament of the Mystery
  • image/tarot/symbol as a numinous encounter rather than just a “reading”
  • creative expression as an end in itself

I drew a card from the CBD Tarot de Marseille (by Yoav Ben-Dov) to respond to, “What is the principle message of this dream?”  My own take on the Nine of Coins is the amalgamation of my various skills and tools into a creative and useable whole.  Yoav’s suggestion, in his book, is that being a nonconformist or carrying out an unconventional idea may hold the key to future advancement.  When I blend his interpretation with mine, the dream’s principle message seems to be that amalgamating my various skills and tools in unconventional, nonconformist ways can help me to advance my work and life into a creative whole that is useful to me and those around me.  Beautiful!

The meeting of symbols through dream and tarot can be inspiring.  Have you had such an encounter?  If so, how did you explore it, employ it, or experience it?  What, if anything, came out of it?  Please tell us in the Comments…we’re listening…


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