So many times, people think of using cards and other symbolic tools for readings of the “Will I get laid or will I get paid?” variety.  Our instruments of insight can be employed for so much more.  For instance, one can dialogue with Life’s wise whispers about what carries depth and meaning in one’s existence.

Recently, I sat in Exhibition Park here in Guelph, revelling in one of my favourite sounds, the breeze blowing in the trees, the song of the leaves in the early autumn wind.  In my bag was a copy of the Oracle of Initiation, a gorgeous photographic non-tarot deck.  I pulled it out and held a short, enchanting conversation.

Me: What in me is so appreciative of the wind/breeze in the trees?

Oracle: #2, PURITY.  The unspoiled, innocent, authentic child that is pure sensuality, that is an expression of the Formless Origin.

Me: How can I best honour the song of the wind/breeze in the trees?

Oracles: #24, LISTENING (!).  Be an attentive listener, an appreciative audience to that song.  Listen to it, be in council with it, hear its messages and heed them.  Dialogue with the Sacred in a non-verbal manner.

Me: What gift(s) can emerge from such a council of listening?

Oracle: #32, CLARITY.  Clarity, truth, and honesty.  The capacity to be cohesive vessels/containers of wisdom.


With whom or with what do YOU most long to hold such a dialogue?  Where will you do so?  With what tool(s) or process(es)?  Please tell us, we’re listening…

I’m excited that on October 3, my eight-week Tarot Counselling for Self and Others course will begin!  I love to offer this class and watch people shift from reading cards to becoming companions of the soul.  What will we do for eight weeks?  Read on.


Each of us will assess where we are on the tarot journey and define “tarot counselling” for ourselves and with each other, really digging in to what it means to be more than a card reader, getting to the root of why we want to employ the tarot in a deeper way.  We’ll also cover how to really be present with what’s going on in ourselves, with the other person (if we’re working with someone else), with the symbols on the cards, and with what’s happening in the moment that can help deeper, larger learning to emerge.

In the tarot counselling encounter, there are very conscious ways to communicate, to make statements and ask questions that invite awareness.  It’s all about creating relationship with our Source of Wisdom, so we want to speak in ways that honour and build that relatedness.  One of my favourite things to do with the tarot is to invent and explore a variety of spreads or layouts that can enhance the communication I mentioned.  Course participants will get access to some of my most powerful insight-evoking spreads and will discover layouts that will best serve their own soulcentric tarot work.

Focused, responsible tarot consultants knows how their sessions begin, unfold, and end; they set up a structure or container for the experience that will maximise beneficial conditions for the intensification of consciousness.  I will provide a template to employ and encourage participants to become aware of their own structural procedure in order to refine it.  The most boring tarot sessions are just info-blather, and that’s NOT what this course is about.  As visionary activist astrologer Caroline Casey says, “Prophecy…implies collaboration with the divine in order to co-create the most interesting, ingenious, and loving world possible.”  In other words, what do we DO with what we learn in the tarot encounter in order to evolve personally and collectively?

Taking what we learn to our coursemates and the people we know and love in real life will help us to sharpen our tarot counselling skills through hands-on experience.  Then we can share our real-life experiences with one another, receive feedback, and get even better at creating tarot experiences that matter.  Class participants will receive the support they need to do this as gracefully as possible.

Why do any of this?  In the words of Henri-Fréderic Amiel, “The process of life should be the birth of a soul.  This is the highest alchemy, and this justifies our presence on earth.  This is our calling and our virtue.”  And, in the words of Lao Tzu, “At the centre of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”  The tarot counselling process is one path to such birthing and knowing. 

*** All the information you need about the course can be found by clicking on Dear Fellow Life Pilgrim

Please join us.


Image: detail from the Ten of Flame Songs from the Songs for the Journey Home Tarot.



Are you ready to be changed from a reader of cards to a companion of the soul?
Are you ready to generate some applicable wisdom for yourself and those who come to you?

You can get full information about my forthcoming course, “Tarot Counselling for Self and Others” by emailing me at circleways.james@yahoo.ca
Just for enquiring, you’ll get a nice little gift: a PDF of the Basic Tenets of Evolutionary Tarot.
And the first 10 people to sign up for the course will get a free 20-minute Skype/phone session with me.

Let me know if you’d like the info.

The course begins October 3, 2014.  I only offer it once a year or once every two years, so best to sign up now.

Another question in our Q & A series:

“Hi James,

What helps you to stay true to your own style of reading for clients?

VC, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada”


Thank you, VC, for this question.  Before addressing it directly, I’ll say that I tend to “explore with” clients rather than “read for” them.  My style is very interactive and conversational.  Each person has her/his own wisdom and my job is to guide them to remember it. 

What helps me stay true to this style of working with the tarot?  One thing that helps me stay true to it is my desire to enjoy interesting, Self-actualising people.  In my experience, most people who just want to be told something don’t come across as interesting or creative (even though they are, deeper inside).  This bores me.  I want to engage with people in ways that are stimulating. 

In addition, I don’t want to come across as a substitute parent who tells them what to do, but rather I DO want to be an attendant to their process. 

Something else that helps me stay true to my style of tarot consultation is to remember that it’s congruent with who I am as a person.  I love questions, so designing spreads/layouts for people and the powerful act of asking something rooted in what we observe about a card jazz me up!  As someone who enjoys “aha” moments, this style suits me to a tee. 

All of this boils down to being true to myself and creating the types of professional relationships that I treasure.  Does this answer your question, VC?


Image: Nine of Wands (Integrity) from the Voyager Tarot by James Wanless and Ken Knutson.

Continuing our Q & A series:

“Hi James,

Do you have a favorite tarot process for dreams?

ML, Sarasota, FL, U.S.A.”


Thanks for your question, ML.  I have several tarot processes that I  use with dreams.  I’d like to emphasise that this is more about dream exploration, creating relationship with the dreams, dream opening, etc. rather than giving a definitive answer about the dream, although that can be helpful at times.  The unconscious or the Dreamweaver or whatever you want to call it offers these symbols and they can be experienced on many levels.  I remember Marion Woodman saying more than once, “The minute you say, ‘I know exactly what that dream means’, you’ve killed it, like sticking a butterfly with a pin.”  With that in mind, here are three of my favourite dream-unfolding processes with the cards.

1.  This one is one I got from Gail Fairfield’s Choice Centered Tarot back in the 1980s.  List the dream’s components (symbols, events, characters, etc.).  For each of these components, pull one card at random from the tarot deck.  Add one card at the end for the overall message.  Weave a narrative from the cards you get.  Also be sure to include symbols, feelings, puns, etc. from the dream itself as you interpret the cards.

2.  For a “big dream”, write down the dream in the present tense then go through the Major Arcana face-up (i.e. you can see the pictures) until you come to one that most looks and/or feels like the dream.  Use this card as a focus.  Meditate on it, create ceremony with it, make a shrine for it, journal about it, read as many texts about this particular Trump as possible, relate it to characters from mythology and history, do movement or dance or postures based on the card, etc.  Allow all of these things to teach you, to take you deeper into the dream’s energy.  Journal about this.

3.  To incubate a dream (i.e. “plant a seed” to receive a response from the unconscious/psyche/True Self/Dreamweaver/whatever), take the Moon card, Trump XVIII, from your deck.  Just before turning out your light at night, spend a few minutes looking at the Moon card with the intention that you will have a dream about a particular topic, question, or area of exploration.  Then place XVIII on your night table or under your pillow, turn out the light, and go to sleep.  In the morning, record any dreams you may have had.  If you need prompting, look at the Moon card again. 

I hope you find these fruitful.


Image: XVIII, the Moon from the New Tarot by Jack Hurley, Rae Hurley, and John Horler.


Yesterday, I felt drawn to do the Cosmic Walk, aka the Stations of the Cosmos, at a retreat centre near where I live.  This spiral walking pattern contains stops where one reflects on moments of the unfolding of creation, from the Primal Flaring Forth (the Big Bang) to the present moment of grace and choice in which we live, rooted in the universe story as articulated by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme.  The Cosmic Walk was created by Sr. Miriam Therese McGillis several years ago to help us enter this story ritually and there are many ways to do it. 

Before going, I wanted to clarify my desire to carry out ceremony in this way, so I asked questions and drew cards at random from the Voyager Tarot to respond to them:

  1. What is calling me to the Cosmic Walk today?  3 of WANDS (Compassion).  My soul’s compassion for all of life and a desire for a spiritual experience that is connective and healing.
  2. What is appropriate for me to offer there?  SAGE of CUPS (Regenerator).  An intention for the regeneration/restoration of our world and anything that makes me feel regenerated in my daily life.  Tea regenerates me, so I’ll offer loose leaves of tea that I’ll bless first.
  3. What benefit(s) can I receive by performing ritual in the Stations of the Cosmos?  7 of CRYSTALS (Dullness).  A relaxed mind and a deeper appreciation for the ordinary/quotidian.

I packed some tea into a sandwich baggie, got out my umbrella, and by bus and by foot I made my way to the retreat centre.  Before entering the Cosmic Walk, I blessed the tea and asked the Infinite Will to Good to use my time on the ritual path to contribute to the restoration of our world.  Each time I reached a station, I paused, spoke the words “For the regeneration and restoration of our world”, sprinkled a few tea leaves on the earth as an offering, and reflected on the mystery or moment of nature’s unfolding that was depicted.  At the end, I declared, “This ritual is ended, but its benefits continue,” then trekked home.

As I made my way to the house, I wondered, “What might the ceremony have accomplished?”  My answer to myself was, “Well, I was engaged in something for an hour or so that kept me from doing any harm to the planet.  Maybe if enough people did their own version of that more often, humans would contribute less problems to the world.”  Food for thought.  I felt calm, alive, and grateful.

Have you ever felt a nudge to do something sacred?  What was it?  For what reason?  How did you clarify what it was about?  What happened?  What questions did it bring up for you?  What responses to those questions have presented themselves so far?  Please tell us here; we’re listening…

Pendulum: Yes or No?

We continue our Question and Answer series with this query:

“I’m curious…do you ever use a pendulum in your work? And, if so, on what occasions?

BF, Tampa, FL”


Dear BF,

Thank you so much for your question.

My Grandma Wells taught me how to use a pendulum when I was about six or seven years old, employing a ring tied to a long piece of thread.  I only use it for myself from time to time (maybe once a year or so) and not with tarot clients.  I like to stick with one tool at a time so it doesn’t seem like a “smoke and mirrors” show to people.  Also, I prefer open-ended questions to yes/no ones because I perceive open-ended questions as more empowering, inviting richer dialogue with our wisdomsource.  On those rare occasions when I use it for myself, I pay close attention to my responses to the “yes” or “no” that I get.  For me, my emotional reaction to the pendulum’s answer is my true answer.

I hope this helps.

~ James


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