A Very Unofficial Guide to the Tarot: Prelude

So I’m home from work, and thus have a glass of pomegranate booze (which seems appropriately mythological, and while I’m unsure how much I can drink before I have to spend six months in a chill and dark underworld, I already live in New England so it’s not like that will be new). I have also reset my WP password to be yet another string of obscenities, because oh my God with this letter plus number plus nonalphanumeric symbol plus case changes plus your mom–like, can we give up and just read my retinas already?


There was a lot of interest in Drunk Izzy Explains the Tarot, so I’ll be doing that. The Tarot being pretty large, this is gonna be a multi-part post, interspersed with blog tour stuff when Highland Dragon Warrior gets released next week (9/5, and did you notice how I worked that in? Drunk Izzy: SMOOTH). The first part of this is going to be something of a disclaimer, so Izzy and Pomegranate Booze Explain The General Principles.

Drunk Izzy swears a lot, so be warned.

1) The Tarot. Like playing cards but with–okay, if you don’t know what the Tarot is, at all, please leave now and come back when you’ve seen a movie.

There is a “theory” that the Tarot came to us from ancient Egypt because ancient Egypt was where things came from back when and “tarot” means “royal road” and blah blah Thoth probably that guy’s always involved in occult shenanigans. This “theory” is what we call “bullshit” and anyone recounting it seriously will also tell you a lot about their former life in Atlantis, if you give them the chance.*

The Tarot actually started as playing cards in 14something (too late for any of my Dawn of the Highland Dragon novels, sadly /BLATANT PLUG) in Italy. They still play Tarot-the-game in some parts of Europe; I tried to learn it for a LARP once and it’s fuckoff complicated. You can also theoretically tell fortunes with playing cards, because really any significantly random system can be used for prophecy (credit to Robert Mathiesen for that statement, which is one of the few things I actually remember from college classes), because of either Occult Theory Goes Here or Psychological Inkblot Theory Goes Here, or both.

(Tomato Nation did a column on using iTunes to tell the future. It’s kinda great; most of her stuff is.)

Wiki says that “The singular term is tarocco, which means a type of blood orange in modern Italian.” I did not know that. I don’t know if you can tell fortunes with blood oranges, but I would absolutely watch a YouTube video of someone trying.

2) Because of Theory Stuff, any given Tarot card can have a lot of variant meanings, depending on its place in the layout, the questioner, the reader, and the deck itself. Like, the Hierophant card in the Robin Wood deck (which I enjoy) has the additional meaning of “Robin Wood is a total hippie and has Issues with organized religion”; any card in a Thoth deck has the additional meaning of “…fucking Crowley, man, what even with that guy**”; and the Lisa Frank Tarot has the additional meaning of “I do not remember dropping acid, but this is great, and also 1992.”***

3) Everyone and their mother has a method of reading. I learned mine, and the associated meanings, post-college. It doesn’t involve reversed cards; as far as I can tell, the meaning of reversals is generally “this thing, only negative, or maybe the opposite of this thing, depending, jazzhands”. They are totally a valid thing for other people, but I don’t know what to do with them and therefore will not be covering them here.

Which is to say: everything I’m about to describe, while I’m drawing from my own training and way too many random occult books and so forth, is basically down to my opinion. If you learned another meaning, awesome! I am not the authority on All Things Occult, or even All Things Tarot; nobody really is.

Except Thoth.


Next Time: The Fool, The Magician, and the High Priestess, which should be the opening of a “…walk into a bar,” joke.

* Atlantis: if anyone mentions Atlantis seriously and they’re not talking about Plato, Robert Anton Wilson, or Aquaman, that is a good time to suddenly remember that your drink needs refreshing over on the other side of the party. Atlantis, in occult crowds, is like the coloration on a coral snake: Nature’s way of warning innocent passers-by that JUST NO.

**The best way to describe Crowley is that the late 18somethings didn’t have metal bands as a way to get laid and shock The Establishment, so dude became an occultist instead.

***Sadly, the Lisa Frank Tarot has no physical form and also only has the Major Arcana. If the author were to kickstart a full version, I would chip in so fast.

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I'm Izzy. I write stuff: mostly vaguely fantasy stuff, and most notably the following books: Hickey of the Beast, published March 2011 by Candlemark and Gleam Romance novels from Sourcebooks: No Proper Lady Lessons After Dark Legend of the Highland Dragon The Highland Dragon's Lady Night of the Highland Dragon Highland Dragon Warrior Highland Dragon Rebel Highland Dragon Master I also like video games, ballroom dancing, and various geeky hobbies like LARPing. I have been known to voluntarily purchase and eat circus peanuts. Like, a whole bag at once.

3 thoughts on “A Very Unofficial Guide to the Tarot: Prelude”

  1. Hi Isabel,
    I was wondering if your series Englefield, Dawn Of The Highland Dragon and Dawn Of The Highland Warrior are completely separate from each other or if they have a continuing storyline/characters that carry over from one series to the next.
    Thank You,

    1. Hi, Heather!
      The Dawn of the Highland Dragon series (Highland Dragon Warrior and two other books to come) is in the same universe as the Highland Dragons series, just about five hundred years earlier. Specific characters don’t carry over between the two, but Dawn also focuses on the MacAlasdair family, specifically some of the ancestors/relatives of those in the main series.
      Englefield is less directly connected–I’d always thought of it being in the same world, more or less, but there’s not much crossover in the text yet.

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