From the Old Notebook: Rider-Waite-Smith

old notebook fool

I am dusting off my very first tarot journal from TWO THOUSAND AND SEVEN (sorry, had to be dramatic,) when I was 19 years old. I have all these old notes locked away: original layouts, ideas, philosophies, and notes from classes, that I always wanted to publish.

I want to start with my detailed notes on the Rider Waite Smith Tarot. Some friends and I created a study group where we picked apart every card in detail over the course of several months (This was actually late 2008.)

Mostly these notes consist of breaking down symbols or small details in the card. The leader of the group, Carl, gathered information from various sources (which unfortunately I did not write down) and put them all together for us. I’m going to publish these notes mostly verbatim, starting with the RWS Major Arcana. I might add some annotations and I’ll make it clear when I do.

From there, we’ll see where we end up! Maybe I’ll do all 78 cards, or maybe I’ll cover the minors with some broad strokes.

As a side note, for anyone who wants to start their own study group, after we all wrote down the meanings of the symbols, we took turns discussing the following:

  1. What the card meant to each person, and
  2. If the person had a memorable read on that card in the past (e.g. “The 8 of wands always comes up for me when the internet is involved.” or “I pulled this card for a lady who later found out she was pregnant.”)

I hear a lot of people say, even after many years of practice, there are cards in the Rider-Waite-Smith they just can’t connect to. After breaking down the symbols in each card, I was finally comfortable with the entire deck. I almost never got stumped. And if I did, I picked one tiny detail that was speaking to me and focused on that first. Piece by piece, the entire picture would fall together. So perhaps these notes can be helpful to others, too.

Anyhoo, cheerio! Onward and outward!



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