New adventures: My first tarot reading event

I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) on and off since I was a kid. We’re now playing in a campaign with our kids who are older when we were when we first started playing! When I found out that a company was making a D&D-inspired tarot deck I was intrigued, and when I realized that they were based right here in my home town of Ottawa, I knew I had to reach out to them. And that’s how I ended up taking a Fool’s leap to become a tarot reader for my first-ever in-person event, the launch party for the Fablemaker’s Animated Tarot Deck.

It. was. amazing.

I was a little anxious going in. I’ve done tonnes of readings, and I’m confident in my skills. However, I generally prefer to give written readings for a couple of reasons. I’m a writer at heart, and written readings give me time to reflect, review and craft a story from the readings. I get caught up in peoples’ energy doing in-person readings and tend to rush, and I find I get better insights when I take quiet time to look at how all the elements work together. Moreso, though, my aging brain likes to play hide and seek with facts, and I’ll occasionally blank on keywords the same way I blank on people’s names – I know them, I know they’re buried deep in the overstuffed file catalogue that is my brain, but they won’t always come when they’re called, so I like to have my little notebook handy. It didn’t feel “professional” to say, “hang on, there’s something about this card that’s tweaking a memory – please allow me a moment to consult my grimoire.” The kismet of a D&D-flavoured tarot deck being produced right here in Ottawa was way too much fun for me to be able to resist, though, and I am SO glad I managed to hush my inner critic long enough to reach out. I took a Fool’s leap and channelled my inner Magician – and it paid off!

The Fablemaker’s Animated Tarot deck itself is a treat – I’ll post a separate review shortly. The guidebook that comes with it has some fun and inspired ideas on how to actually use the deck as a D&D player or Game Master (GM), so I thought I’d flavour my readings with a little D&D fun. I added some D&D terrain pieces and figures from a recent adventure and my GM’s screen to my table for flavour, along with some Halloween treats and my business cards. I had the querrents cut the deck as they saw fit, then instead of having them draw a card, I had them roll a d20 for each card in the spread; if they rolled a 12, I counted to the 12th card in the deck. If someone rolled a natural 20, I said that card was the one with the dominant message. No natural ones were rolled!

I used a six-card dyadic cross for most readings, and on a hex battlemap I kept a tally of their rolls. At the end, I added the numbers from the rolls together and distilled it down to a two-digit number the same way you calculate a birth year card, and talked about the resulting link to the Major Arcana. (For example, if the number distilled down to a nine, we talked about the Hermit.) All of my querrents were also D&D players, so if I had time I asked them to describe their character and I pulled one card for their character, too.

To my delight, I loved doing live readings. I loved the interaction with the querrent as each card came up, and loved the creative push to make connections on the spot. I did not, as I feared I might, freeze under pressure and blank on the meanings of all 78 cards; in fact, my grimoire sat untouched behind my GM’s screen. The folks I read for seemed to enjoy the D&D spin, and seemed happy with the insights from their readings.

I’m genuinely delighted with this deck. The creators have paid equal respect to the art of tarot and the game of D&D, and the guidebook is full of clever ways to integrate the cards into your table-top role playing games. And the cards are mesmerizing – when I came home, my teenager spent time examining every single card in the deck. I think we have another convert to team tarot!

I’ll post a proper deck review soon, but in the interim I thought I’d get the word out. If you’re looking for a tarot reader who loves to tell stories, has a great sense of humour and has never left behind her inner 14-year-old geek, I’d love to hear from you!

And if you love tarot OR dungeons and dragons, be sure to check out the Fablemaker’s Animated Tarot! How have you used tarot cards in your TTRPGs – or how would you adapt tarot readings for TTRPGs? I predict a divination wizard who uses a tarot deck as their arcane focus in a future campaign for me!

Doctor Who and the Major Arcana: The Empress

As we work our way through #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes, my collection of quotes from Doctor Who that illustrate or align with traditional interpretations of each tarot card of the major arcana, we’ve reached the Empress. The Empress is the archetypal earth mother, a powerful being of feminine energy who comes to reflect your joy and love in life back at you. To illustrate her, I’ve chosen a snippet of a longer quote: “Remember – hate is always foolish and love, is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind.”

These words are spoken by the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, in the moments before he regenerates in the series ten Christmas special “Twice Upon a Time.” He’s talking to his future self (who the audience knows but he does not is about to regenerate into female form) but also trying to reassure his current self, I think. Here’s the full quote:

You wait a moment, Doctor. Let’s get it right. I’ve got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first. Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never ever eat pears! Remember – hate is always foolish and love, is always wise.

Always try to be nice and never fail to be kind. Oh, and – and you mustn’t tell anyone your name. No one would understand it anyway. Except…. except children. Children can hear it. Sometimes, if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too, children can hear your name. But nobody else. Nobody else. Ever.

Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.

Doctor – I let you go.

I like this quote for the Empress for a lot of reasons. The Empress is about abundance, generosity, and kindness, and tells us that our needs will be met. The Empress is a maternal figure, and this advice to be kind is indeed very motherly. Certainly, as a mom to three, I’m most concerned that they grow up to be kind humans first and foremost. The Empress is about nurturing and looking inward for grace, something the Doctor is doing as he passes the baton to his next iteration, exhorting his next regeneration to be a better version of himself. And, most interestingly for me, this quote is spoken from a male incarnation of the Doctor who has learned through his travels how to be not just clever and witty but kind as well, and he has learned that largely through the females in his life: Clara, and River, and Bill. And then with these words he regenerates into the first female Doctor in the storied 50+ years of the franchise.

As an aside, I truly loved watching Capaldi’s Doctor and his preoccupation with goodness and being kind. You can see this evolution from his query to Clara (“Am I a good man?) and Clara writing him crib notes on how to be nice to his stirring exhortation to Missy to “just be kind” to his regeneration muse to his future self. I had a hard time choosing between the quote above and his final speech to Missy to use for the Empress. It’s another beautiful quote:

“Winning? Is that what you think it’s about? I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone, or because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone.

It’s not because it’s fun. God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works because it hardly ever does. I DO WHAT I DO BECAUSE IT’S RIGHT! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind! It’s just that.. just kind.

If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there’s no point to any of this at all. But it’s the best I can do. So I’m going to do it.

And I will stand here doing it until it kills me. And you’re going to die too, some day. And how will that be? Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand.. Where I stand is where I fall. Stand with me. These people are terrified. Maybe we can help a little. Why not, just at the end, just be kind?”

Oh my goodness but I love the Doctor. I can’t read these quotes without feeling my heart soar. I was truly fascinated by the way the Twelfth Doctor’s sojourn explored gender issues. But what do you think? Do you think this idea of embodying kindness is in alignment with your understanding of the Empress? Do you think the Doctor’s regeneration from a male form into a female form aligns well with the characteristics you associate with the Empress? As always, I’d love to hear your perspective.

As we approach the end of an Emperor year, come back next Monday and we’ll look at a Doctor Who quote that embodies the Emperor in our continuing series of #22DoctorWhoTarotQuotes.