If you’re into Tarot, chances are you’ve heard of Barbara Moore. She is a prolific writer and one of one of the most published Tarot authors including multiple Tarot books and decks, including the Steampunk Tarot, Gilded Tarot, and Mystic Faerie Tarot. Throughout each of Barbara’s publications, her grounded, practical approach to Tarot rings true.
At a high level, this episode is about how to make Tarot easy. But at a deeper level, it's about how to connect with Tarot in your own unique way. Barbara walks us through connecting to the Tarot to through your own personal belief system, to being part of the evolution of global consciousness, and so much more. Join me and the Tarot Shaman as we travel through mystic realms to bring you wisdom and guidance.
In this episode, you’ll learn…
- How a conversation at a party sparked Barbara's interest in Tarot
- How Barbara integrates her shamanic work with Tarot in a beautiful, Divine way
- What “Tarot Made Easy” is really about – it's not what you think!
- Why getting clear on your personal belief system will make reading the Tarot so much easier
- What role Tarot history plays in present-day readings
- How our evolving consciousness is changing the face of Tarot
- Barbara's website, Tarot Shaman
- Barbara's new book and deck, Tarot Made Easy
- Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack
- BTP34: Yes / No Tarot Readings
Brigit: You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 47: Tarot Made Easy with Barbara Moore.
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot podcast, where you will learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. And now, here is your host Brigit Esselmont.
Brigit: Hello and welcome. As always I am so happy to have you here on the Biddy Tarot Podcast where we get to talk Tarot. Yay!
My guest today calls herself the Tarot Shaman, traveling the realms to search for wisdom and guidance. Well, she has certainly found it.
She is the author of multiple Tarot books and decks, including “The Steampunk Tarot,” “Gilded Tarot,” “Mystic Faerie Tarot,” and “Tarot Spreads.” And she's well-known in the Tarot world for her grounded practical approach to Tarot.
She is none other than the gorgeous Barbara Moore. Welcome Barbara
Well there you have it that's Tarot Made Easy with Barbara Moore. I hope you've enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. It was really lovely to connect with someone who's so passionate and enthusiastic about Tarot and sees it in connection with so many other aspects of ourselves. Really, really delightful.
Brigit: Hello and welcome Barbara. I am so excited to have you here.
Barbara: Well thank you. I'm really, really happy to be here.
Brigit: Yay! So to get things started I would love to hear about your journey. I had a little sneak peek here and there and it sounds amazing, but I want to hear it in your words. What has been your journey with Tarot?
Barbara: Well, it has been a long journey because I've been at this a little while. But it started when I was in college. I was in a small college.
Back then in the late '80's, interdisciplinary studies were really popular, so I was taking – well, my focus was history. I was taking art history and I was taking science and comparative mythology and psychology and was reading about Chaos Theory and fractals and all kinds of interesting things.
Then I was at a party and somebody brought out a deck of Tarot cards which I wasn't really familiar with at the time. I just knew when I held that deck in my hands that I was holding something that kind of represented everything I'd been studying.
All those different areas of study came together in this deck of cards. It was miraculous and marvelous and wonderful.
Of course, back then, the internet wasn't really what it is today, so my learning was all through books, whatever I could find at the bookstores or libraries or whatever and get my friends involved. We'd study together, so there was nothing very formal or anything.
That's kind of how it all started. Do you want more of that story or is that kind of what you had in mind?
Brigit: No, that's fabulous. It's so interesting actually how many people found Tarot at a party. I don't know. There must be something about that sort of celebration energy that just gives life to Tarot and makes everything come together at the most perfect moment. That's really fun to hear.
Then also, Barbara, you do a lot of shamanic work. How is that integrated with your Tarot connection? Are both connected for you or are they two separate paths? How's that working out?
Barbara: Yeah, that's a great question. They both connect. I can tell you two ways that they connect.
One is a specialty Tarot reading that I offer called Spirit Guide Reading. That reading is where if someone is having trouble connecting with their spirit guides or allies or just wants to know more about them, I start with a journey.
I journey on their behalf and then I follow it up with a Tarot reading that I've designed to be a companion piece to the journey, so they get a narration of the journey and the Tarot reading which includes some more details about what areas they can work on.
Sometimes I'm given rituals for them that their guides want them to do. It can get really intense and really personal, but that's one way that my two practices intersect.
The other is that Tarot has been part of me for so long that I see everything through that lens. It's my template for anything and everything, so all of my shamanic learnings, the different teachers I've studied under and everything I've gathered from them and from my own personal practice, I put it together using Tarot.
In fact, the retreat I ran last year, it was called Through the Looking Glass Retreat, it combined The Fool's Journey and shamanic practices. There was a lot of emotional and intellectual clearing processes. Things that help you get on your path to live your soul's purpose and to prepare for the winter solstice.
Now that I have some time away from the retreat, I'm thinking about possibly putting it into book form because I think it's important material and I can't really teach everybody at a retreat. I think of it as Tarot-supported transformation.
But a lot of the depth and particular aspects of the archetypes are shaped very definitely by my shamanic training.
Brigit: Oh, wow. It just sounds so delicious.
I get such a lot of energy and excitement from seeing Tarot integrated with other beautiful, soulful tools and practices. Just hearing you talk about how you're integrating Tarot and your shamanic work is just divine.
I think doing that just brings out such a new depth to Tarot which is just beautiful. I'm excited to hear about how those two are coming together.
Now you mentioned that you wanted to put it into a book. Barbara, I think you must be one of the most published authors on Tarot. Is there anyone else who has more book titles on Tarot than you?
Barbara: Well actually there is. Someone recently, I don't remember who it was, but somebody did do that count.
If you include self-published works, which in this day and age, I would, because I think there's nothing lesser about self-published anything, so if we're going to count self-published works then Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin have more than me. But I think I'm number two.
Brigit: Pipped to the post. Oh dear. What has been the inspiration to write so many books on Tarot?
Barbara: Well, I have always loved writing. When I was in third grade, I started a newspaper for my elementary school to give me a chance to write, so I've always loved writing.
Writing about Tarot, I actually just got super lucky. So much of my later life – my first part of my life was not lucky and nothing really to speak of, but the latter part of my life has been charmed and so lucky.
As you may know, your listeners may know, I also have worked for Llewellyn Publishing, an American new-age publisher. Although I'm no longer an employee for them, I do do contract work for them still.
Through working for them, they had certain needs in their publishing line that weren't being met. One time they asked me to write something that was meant to be a small book-length marketing piece and they liked it so well they just sold it as a book.
Then when different things came up they asked me to write, but I would have to take vacation time because writing is hard and I was working a full-time job and whatever.
So I quit writing for Tarot for a long time between the “The Gilded Tarot” and “Mystic Faerie.” But they had this artwork, this artist, Linda Ravenscroft. They wanted a deck by her, so they asked me to do it. I did it.
I don't know what happened and how it happened, but writing that book helped me fall in love with writing about Tarot more than my first two. My first two were good starters, but I think I fell in love with “Mystic Faerie.”
Now my writing is a combination of publishers asking me to write. Llewellyn and Lo Scarabeo, which is located in Turin, Italy. They both ask me sometimes to do jobs for them.
Occasionally, I have projects that are my heart's project. They come from me and that would be “The Steampunk Tarot.” That one was totally from my heart and my soul. I wasn't asked to do that. I went to them and asked if I could do that.
Also, my “Tarot Spreads” book was also that kind of writing. And then – well, we'll get to the “Tarot Made Easy” later, but that also kind of came from my heart.
Does that answer the question? I kind of lost track where I was going there.
Brigit: Absolutely. I have full respect for you for writing so many books because I've written a couple of self-published books and I tell you what, it is hard work.
I keep having this idea that I'd love to write a traditionally published book, but I keep putting it off because it's just such a big project, so I think you're amazing for writing so many books.
Barbara: That's so sweet. Thank you.
Brigit: You mentioned “Tarot Made Easy.” It's just been launched. I would love to talk about this in more depth.
We sort of dabbled at the start about how you can get deliciously complex with Tarot when you're integrating it with the shamanic work. In fact, it probably isn't actually that complex. It can also be simplified, but we know it's complex work. It's kind of a weird concept.
But let's talk about now how we can make Tarot easy because, again, I think Tarot is one of those really complex topics or it has the possibility of being complex. It's incredibly important that we do make things more easy so that it's more accessible for more people to benefit from the Tarot cards.
Tell me a little bit about where this Tarot made easy concept came from and what was your inspiration for this?
Barbara: Sure. Okay. Well, this began as a project that Llewellyn asked me to do. All they specified was they wanted a new kit that would be suitable for beginners, but not called Tarot for Beginners. Then they just kind of gave me full reign.
As you know, I've written quite a few beginner books. I'm like, okay, thinking what is the best way to a) make this different than other books that I've already written. That's always a challenge. And b) let it represent what I actually believe because my writing is at its best when I'm doing that.
I also self-published a book. I think it's called like “Practical Tarots Guide to Tarot Reading” or something, but that little book, which is only like 15 pages or something, outlined the process that I used when I did my American Tarot Association certification many, many years ago.
It is now defunct. It doesn't even exist anymore. I don't ever use those letters after my name because I did it to consolidate. I had been studying for about a decade – no, maybe six years. I wanted to consolidate everything I'd read and kind of unify it so that it was my own.
I developed this process based on what I did during that period. I expanded that because the idea Tarot made easy, it's almost deceptive to say that because when you say Tarot made easy, people may think, “Oh, it's when you tell someone to lay out three cards and tell a story based on the pictures,” which is easy and works. No problems with that.
But, to me, to really make Tarot easy, you have to build a strong foundation. It's like you could start building a house, but if you don't have a good foundation, you're going to be spending all your time kind of jerry-rigging it to make it be plumb and solid and whatnot.
To make Tarot easy, you understand that the cards are a tool and what you do with them depends on what you believe. If everything is built on what comes from your soul, your gut, your spirit, whatever, your mind, if you're taking a psychological point of view, you build on that.
Building that foundation is actually hard and time-consuming and it can be. The less you know about yourself and the less you know about your own beliefs, the harder it's going to be. However, if you do do that work, everything that follows will just be seamless and easy because you're not cobbling together. No, you're doing it from what you believe.
You know when people say, “Can the Tarot cards tell the future?” Well, the first question to answer is well, do you believe the future is pre-determined and if so, to what extent? It's silly to ask a question if you don't even believe that it can be predicted. So questions like that.
Tarot made easy, develop and understand your own personal cosmology, understand what it is you are doing with the cards, what are your goals with the cards, what is the role of you as a reader, what is the role of the querent, is the divine involved and if so, what is their role, on and on and on.
Is that a good start?
Brigit: Good start, it's brilliant. I don't want to swear on this podcast.
Oh my goodness. So many things are just clicking and resonating for me. I think coming from this angle of needing to be clear about what your personal beliefs are and then your practice with Tarot will follow from that, I think that's just gold.
It makes me think of a number of Tarot readers, in particular, sort of the early stages of reading, will say, “I have been asked when will I get married. And oh, I don't know what to do. Quick I better find something that tells me if Cups is summertime or if it's like three weeks.”
They know in their body that this is out of sync with what they think and feel, but they're like, “Oh my goodness, the client's asking this. What do I do?” Then they produce this reading that's off. It's not accurate. It doesn't feel good for the reader. It doesn't feel good for the client.
I think, just from what you were saying, so much of that comes back to you've got to be clear about what do you believe in. I think I found, again, with timing. At the start, I was just trying to please everybody by doing it. It just didn't feel right.
Then, I realized time is like this construct that we just made up. It doesn't even really exist. The concept of three weeks isn't really three weeks, it's just time and space and get a little esoteric about it.
Barbara: Yeah, it gets weird when you think about time.
Brigit: Oh yeah. Even that realization then gave me really a lot of confidence in my Tarot readings to go, “You know what, I can't give you a specific time because that's not how I think that life works.” Then I could adapt. Here's how I think I can help you.
I think, yeah. I hope this is just clicking for the folks who are listening to this because it might be that one thing that just goes, “Ah, okay if I know what my beliefs are, then I can get much clearer on Tarot and how I integrate with Tarot.” I love that.
Barbara: Right. Yeah. Well, it goes further too. I mean, that's the beginning part, but then when you talk about what do the cards mean. Well, in the book we get into that a lot.
What do the cards mean? What's the structure of the deck for? What's the point of it? What role do the numbers and the suits play? How does the picture fit in? And all kinds of things.
Like you said, you hone into what you believe. It clicks. It's authentic and suddenly it's not a struggle anymore.
Brigit: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so much stuff is clicking.
It goes way beyond kind of that prescriptive, “Here's what this card means. Here's how you do a reading,” to you need to do your inner work first so that this Tarot will truly come from you, your soul, your energy and so on.
We know that when you are using Tarot from a soul-based place then that's where it's so much more magical and helpful versus just following a step-by-step routine or following what the book says. I love that you're coming at it from that angle. It's wonderful.
Now, I had a little sneak peek at your book. Something that sort of jumped out at me was this concept of we think that there's one universal truth behind the meanings, but ultimately that there's not.
Tell me a little bit more about this because I think a lot of people get caught up with like, “Oh, have I got the Tarot card meaning. Is it right or am I wrong?” I think what you're trying to say here is that there is no right and wrong. So tell me a little bit more about it.
Barbara: Yes, yes. I do believe that because if there was one set of meanings for the cards, there'd only be one book and we'd all be reading that book. But, clearly, there's not.
I do not think that a person has to understand or be super knowledgeable about the history of Tarot to be a Tarot reader, except I think that they need to understand enough about the cards' history to realize that the meanings of the cards from the beginning, from the Renaissance, when they were invented and they were used for playing games and perhaps used to tell allegorical stories, the meanings have changed.
In fact, in Rachel Pollack's book, “Tarot Wisdom,” and I think in a book by Paul Huson as well, they actually gathered up lists of meanings for each card throughout time from different famous authors. So you can see very easily that the meanings of the cards changed over time.
Like I said earlier, I was a history student, so I kind of look at things with that kind of an eye. You can see that the practices and the meanings reflect the culture's belief, the culture as a whole. They change to reflect our changes in our cultures. That is just a historical thing.
But also, this is a personal belief, I'm not saying for everyone, but I believe the human consciousness as a whole, is always evolving, so consequently as our understanding and consciousness evolves and changes, the way we look at the cards is going to evolve and change to reflect that growth.
To think that it is static is kind of sad and diminishes it in some way. This way it's open and it's alive and it's organic and it's growing.
I just recently learned about a Hebrew concept called Tzimtzum. Tzimtzum, apparently, is this idea that when God created the universe, first of all, he had to pull himself in to make space for it to happen, but also, and I didn't know this about the Hebrew religion, that God intentionally left creation unfinished so that human beings could participate in the continuing co-creation of the universe. How awesome is that?
Brigit: Nice. Yes.
Barbara: I think Tarot is like a Tzimtzum. It is continually evolving and growing.
If you've been reading Tarot cards for 50 years and you're using the same definitions, my soul cries for you because that would be so sad.
Brigit: Yeah, yeah. It’s making me think, I think that's why we're seeing such a proliferation of new Tarot decks coming into play because I think we're taking the old decks and interpreting them in new and different ways and expressing them through new sort of visual elements as well.
Also, why it's relevant to continue having new books on Tarot card meanings. You kind of think like, “Can there really be another book on Tarot card meanings?” But maybe there can.
Barbara: Well, sure they can if people are pushing the edges, always pushing the edges.
One of the issues that has been a long, long, long debate between me and my friend Riccardo Minetti, who works at Lo Scarabeo, he has always said that the Raider-Waite-Smith deck has a stranglehold on Tarot's growth and evolution.
I always disagreed with him for whatever arguments I had at the time. But I would never tell him this to his face, and I hope he never hears this, but this think perhaps he's right.
Maybe we're clinging to this thing because it makes us feel secure and safe, especially with a practice that is by its nature, slippery and vague and mysterious. But maybe we eventually are going to have to let go and see what comes next.
Brigit: Yeah, that would be interesting. I wonder what would be next. Is this beyond the 78-card deck? Do you think?
Barbara: Oh, I don't know. I don't pretend – you know what, I don't use the cards myself to look into my future or to get advice for that reason because I have gotten to this point in my life where I prefer not to know. I prefer the experience. And I want to be totally in the experience. No expectations. No prejudgments. Just like what's going on.
I'm getting really bad at – because I've been asked, what's the future of Tarot. What do you think's going to happen? I used to give answers. Now I'm like, “Well, that's a boring question to me, just tell me what you've got right now. Let's see.”
Brigit: Yeah, very clever. Excellent.
I want to just switch gears a little bit. I suppose it's still in the flavor of making Tarot easy. You've got a really neat way of working with yes/no question. I shared some of my methods back in Episode 34, which you can listen to at BiddyTarot.com/34.
But you've also got some fun ways of dealing with yes/no readings. Do you want to share that?
Barbara: Yeah, yeah. I know. I listen to you podcast and I'm like, “Oh, these are good. I wish I was with her and I would share mine with her because it would be fun.” Thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Now the kind of really pitiful thing about it is it wasn't my idea. I learned this technique from a book by Susyn Blair-Hunt called “Tarot Predictions and Divination.”
I'll be super honest because I don't want to besmirch her teaching or her name, I haven't reread what she wrote about this since I read it initially, so God knows what permutations or changes have happened in my hands. So I'm crediting her with this, but if I've gotten some bits that are different than hers, just it's okay. Just accept it.
Okay. First of all the whole issue of yes/no questions. Do you want to do them? Are the good? Are they bad?
There are a lot of reasons why we don't want to do them as Tarot readers because the future is not set in stone. It's not totally determined, so we can't say yes or no to anything. Things are determined by so many moving parts blah, blah, blah.
That fits in with my philosophy. I'm on board with all those people and all you guys. However, I think that if you have the right spread and the right technique, starting with a yes/no question can give a great deal of clarity. I begin so many of my readings with this technique.
The way it works is Major Arcana cards and even numbered cards count as yes. Odd cards and court cards count as no. It's not quite half the deck but pretty close.
You shuffle your cards. You ask the question and you lay out five cards. You have five cards so you'll never have a tie and you'll hardly ever get five yes's or five no's. That kind of reflects actual life because things are hardly ever that yes, yes, yes, for sure, no, no, no for sure not.
You get this kind of yeah, probably, but. Then after you determine you just count and then determine yes or no. Then you interpret the cards.
Now if I remember correctly, she may have had positional meanings with those five cards. I don't remember. I do not use positional meanings when I do it. I kind of do free form. Sometimes it is a linear story, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's comparing two things.
But this way you get the best of both worlds. You have built-in pretty nicely randomized yes/no counting technique. Then you interpret the five cards as a reading, so you get more information because that's what we want. We don't want just yes or no, we want to know why and what are the energies at play here.
If we have three cards that say no and two that say yes, we're like, “Okay, I really want this to happen. What are the no energies here? How can I work with them to change them? What are the yes energies and how can I help strengthen and give them more momentum?”
You get really an actually fairly empowered kind of answer even though you're answering a yes/no question.
Now I like having a technique because I like having things made as clear as possible when we're working, as I said, with these vague, mysterious information that we get.
That said, I even muck with my technique because sometimes, depending on the cards and the situation, if the Nine of Cups comes up. Nine of Cups is technically a no because it's an odd numbered card, but for me, when you go back to the old historical meanings, it was always known as the wish card. I'm like, “Oh, your wish comes true. How can that be a no card,” so sometimes I'll count that as a yes.
Also, the four aces, I have a really hard time counting aces as no. They're technically a one, so technically odd, but depending on what else is going on, I might count those as a yes, particularly the Ace of Pentacles.
I'm not a big Arthur Waite reader. I haven't read his book and learned a lot from it, but I have read it a little bit.
The only thing from him that sticks with me is he wrote once somewhere that the Ace of Pentacles is the most fortuitous card in the deck. And me, being a pentacles girl, thought yes, it is, so I will also often count the Ace of Pentacles as a yes.
That's my little technique. What do you think of that?
Brigit: Awesome I like it. I like it particularly because it's got that what action can you take. If you want this to be a yes, what do you need to do to make it a yes?
I think the think that often puts me off with yes/no questions is it's kind of like, “Yes, it will happen.” You're like, “Okay, now what?”
I think this sort of balances both.
Barbara: Right exactly.
Brigit: Now we're going to make sure that we've got this as a handout for you. If you go to BiddyTarot.com/47, you'll be able to download this as a PDF handout and then you can try out this cool technique the next time you've got a yes/no reading. I'd love to hear how it goes.
Also, drop a comment into the comments section as well.
My goodness, I could sit here and chat with you forever about Tarot. In fact, that's something I just wanted to note about your “Tarot Made Easy” book, when I was reading it, I literally felt like it was you and me sitting in a cozy lounge or even on a couch talking about Tarot. The way that you've written it is just so personable and connected as well.
It's not like simplified language. It's still acknowledging the spirit and the soul in the reader, but it's so comfy. I just really enjoyed reading your writing as well as the Tarot piece.
Barbara: Oh, thank you.
Brigit: My pleasure. Barbara, what else is on your plate at the moment? What other projects are on the go?
Barbara: I don't have any speaking gigs, which is really unusual but kind of nice. So no speaking.
But what is on my plate? I am working on another deck that is one of those, like the Steampunk that's coming from my heart, but it's kind of in the early days, so I'm not allowed to talk about it now. But in 2018, probably 2018 it will come out.
As it gets closer maybe I can come back in 2017 and talk to you about that. I'd like to do that.
Barbara: A Tarot deck. I'm working with an artist, directing the art, working on the book, blah, blah, blah. There's going to be a lot of shamanic connections with this deck. But also the theme will probably surprise people that it has a shamanic connection. I think it's going to be kind of fun to roll that one out.
Then, like I said, I've been thinking about writing this book, “Tarot-Supported Transformation,” combining my shamanic leanings and practices with The Fool's Journey in Tarot, but I'm not really sure.
I'm taking the next month off to kind of check in with my soul and see what it wants to do because I've also been getting a lot of tugs from the trikster, from Hermes, may wanting me to follow him down some rabbit hole or other. I'm kind of like the Fool right now. I'm getting ready. See what's next.
Brigit: Yeah, I know that feeling. It's like you know that there's something just there dangling in front of you, but you can't quite get what it is yet and that's okay. You're just where you need to be. Yup.
Barbara: That's right.
Brigit: Wonderful. Now, of course, we're going to post a link to your new book, “Tarot Made Easy,” in the show notes. Remember that's over at BiddyTarot.com/47.
Where else can people find out more about you?
Barbara: From my website which is TarotShaman.com or people could email me directly [email protected].
I am no longer on social media. I quit in January. Not because I wanted to but because those people, my guides, who sometimes I hate them, kind of pushed me there for different energetic and understanding concepts of myself, blah, blah, blah stuff.
Yeah, not on social media.
Brigit: That's very clever. It can be quite draining. I can understand.
Barbara: But I do miss it because it's a great way to connect. It's so fun to see people's faces and see what they're up to. Maybe sometime after the U.S. election process because there's no way I'm going on social media before that.
Brigit: You're probably very smart. I can't tell you how much I'm seeing of all this U.S. Election stuff in my Facebook feed and I'm not even in America.
Barbara: Yeah, yeah.
Brigit: It's non-stop, absolutely.
Barbara: I apologize to you on behalf of all of us. I am sorry.
Brigit: Make it stop.
Barbara: I know. I would if I could.
Brigit: Oh dear. Awesome. Again, we'll make sure we post those links in the show notes and that way people can reach out to you.
Just I want to say a big, big thank you. I've really enjoyed our conversation today. It's been so good just to hear your perspectives on sort of how you interact with Tarot and just tapping into personal beliefs and helping use those beliefs to connect you to Tarot. I think that's wonderful.
I can't wait to see more of the “Tarot Made Easy” book. I think it's going to be an absolute treasure for the Tarot community.
Thank you again for joining us today.
Barbara: Thank you. It has been such a delightful, delightful conversation. Thank you.
Brigit: Wonderful. All right. Bye for now.
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Thank you once again for being here and bring all of your energy and attention, not just to Tarot, but also to your personal growth and development.
It's been my absolute pleasure and I can't wait to connect with you again next time. Bye for now.