The Arcanas

by Sasha Fenton

A tarot deck contains two parts, these being the Major and Minor Arcana . The word “Arcana” means secret or hidden, in the same way that the word occult means hidden from view, and this implies that specialized knowledge is required . The Major Arcana is a series of twenty-two stand-alone cards, the only equivalent of which is the Joker in a deck of playing cards . The Minor Arcana is broken into four suits of fourteen cards each, which are similar to those in a deck of playing cards in that they have Aces, numbered cards, and Court cards.

The Major Arcana

Major Arcana cards carry powerful images that refer back to archetypes that have all but lost their original history and meanings. The Holy Roman Emperor, 15th century power struggles between the Popes, and the hatred of Franciscan hermits mean nothing to modern clients. The behavior of a ruler can affect the fate of a nation and its people, which is obvious if we consider Hitler, Stalin, Osama Bin Laden, or Robert Mugabe. However, in the Western world, it is often the fate of the orga­nization for which the client works that influences his life. Each genera­tion has to modernize the meanings of the cards to fit the current ethos. These powerful image cards often show major changes and turning points in a client’s life, but it is left to the Minor Arcana cards to fill in the details.

The Ratio of Fate to Free Will

There are just over double the number of Minor Arcana cards to Major Arcana ones in a tarot deck, so if a spread of cards throws up more than a third Major Arcana cards, the client’s future is, to some extent, being directed by fate . If there are very few Major cards showing up in a spread, the future is mainly in the hands of the client.

One word you will come across in many books on the tarot is arche­type. An archetype is a shorthand description for a particular type of person. Archetypes change according to the time and place that people live in. Figures such as a Pope, Empress, or Hermit would have meant a lot to medieval people, while modern archetypes might include such things as a whiz-kid, a tycoon, a bimbo, a lay-about, a doctor, a teacher, the boss, a tax inspector, or anything else that is instantly recognizable .

The Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana of the tarot is composed of four suits. In the Rider-Waite deck that illustrates this book, these suits are called by their tra­ditional names of Cups, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords. In other decks, the Pentacles, which are pentagrams contained within a circle, are called Coins. In this book, I use the term Coins for this suit. Wands are also known as Rods or Staves. It is possible to find European cards that are halfway between tarot and playing cards, these being illustrated with Hearts, Acorns, or other similar features, but also showing Wands and Swords. Such cards are often used for playing games, and one can buy Tarocco or Taroc decks in Italy and Spain that are based on some or all of the Minor Arcana of the tarot.

THE SUIT OF CUPS is concerned with feelings, emotions, and the emotional response to a situation. This doesn’t mean only affairs of the heart but also the way a client feels about his job, his home, art, music, the situation that he finds himself in, or any other emotional response. These cards can indicate celebration, depression, and a whole host of other feelings or events that cause an emotional response.

THE SUIT OF WANDS is difficult to categorize because this covers a multitude of daily activities, benefits, and problems. These might include negotiating for something, carrying out a task, the action of moving house, traveling, working, running a home, or just the business of living.

THE SUIT OF COINS deals with a client’s resources, which may be money, goods, property, land, equipment, a business, a career, success, failure, and status or matters related to these topics. This suit deals with the practicalities of a matter.

THE SUIT OF SWORDS suggests those things that require action of some kind in order to put something right. These can indicate health problems, financial or marital issues, or quarrels and dissent of many different kinds. Sometimes they suggest that the only thing a client can do is to accept defeat, walk away from a situation, and do something else with his life.

One way I describe these suits to beginners in my workshops is to tell them the following story:

“You are fed up with your job. The job is unsatisfying, the pay is poor, the place is inconvenient for you to get to, and the people you work for or with are unpleasant. This is a Sword matter, as it shows that something needs to be done.

“You start looking in the local papers and on the Internet for some­thing new; you ask your friends and acquaintances to see if they know where you might find a better job. This is a Wand matter, as it requires travel, communications, and research.

“Finally, you find the job you want. The pay is good, the place is easy to reach by public transport, the job is the kind you want, the people you will work for and among appear to be congenial, and you have the skills and resources at your command with which to do the job. The practical side of this looks good, and practical matters are related to Coins.

“The outcome may be that the job is just what you want and that you are very happy. On the other hand, there may be something that you don’t see at the interview but that gets you down after a while. You may love or hate the product that the firm produces or sells.

“You could make lasting friends as a result of working at the new job and you might even find love there. Alternatively, you may feel uncom­fortable, unhappy, or just that this job is somehow wrong for you and that you could do better elsewhere. These fuzzy-edged emotional issues belong to the realm of Cups.”

To summarize:

Cups: Emotional responses.
Wands: Day-to-day activities.
Coins: Resources and practical matters.
Swords: Pain, action, quarrels, movement in affairs.

Excerpted from Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards by Sasha Fenton


Born in Bushey, near London (UK), Sasha Fenton became a professional astrologer, palmist, and tarot card reader in 1974. She has written 127 books, mainly on mind, body, and spirit subjects, with sales of more than 6.5 million copies and translations into 12 different languages. Sasha has written articles for every national newspaper and major magazine in Britain and many overseas publications as well.

Lunar Magic

by Leanna Greenaway

The Moon has always been known to exert a magical influence on the Earth. Scientists are always adding to their knowledge of the Moon’s activities and are bringing more understanding to the way it affects our planet. It is interesting to note that many scientists studying the Moon have become more in touch with their spiritual side, while those fortunate enough to travel into space have often returned in a more spiritual frame of mind.

The Moon is traditionally linked with the feminine aspect and the functions of the right side of the brain, which tend to influ­ence creativity and insight. Men also possess these functions, but they tend to be found more abundantly in women.

The Moon sits approximately 250,000 miles away from the Earth. We generally say the Moon takes 28 days to complete its orbit around the Earth, but in reality it is 29.5 days—this lat­ter time is longer due to the movement of the Earth during the Moon’s orbit.

There are many theories about the Moon and how it affects us. One theory posits that the Moon and its phases influence our internal chemistry, pulling on the gravitational forces of our physi­cal bodies. Another concept states the gravitational field of a full Moon changes energy particles that reach the Earth, influencing the way we think and feel by changing the functions of our brain.

The word “lunatic” came into use because people suffering mental imbalances tended to become unstable at the time of a full Moon. Of course, the human body is about 80 percent water, so as the Moon affects the tides, perhaps it also changes the tide of our lives!

Dating as far back to humanity’s earliest tribes, the Sun, the Moon, and the stars were identified as having control over women and pregnancy. When we look at the connections between women and the Moon, we see that the female menstrual cycle lasts roughly 29.5 days. This is the length of time between two full Moons. Another interesting thing to note is that a pregnancy is around 266 days long, which is the approximate number of days within ten full Moons. It’s uncanny how women, especially in their fertile years, may be affected by the lunar cycle.

A very interesting experiment that you may wish to try is to study your own mood changes throughout the month and to note down how you feel during each Moon phase. You may be quite surprised at the results. My friend Sasha suggests that you also check how you, your family, and your friends or colleagues behave when the Moon passes through different signs of the zodiac. For instance, many people become irritable, angry, and subjec­tive when the Moon is in a fire sign (Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius), or they may overwork when it is in an earth sign (Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorn). They may be somewhat unemotional and more detached and objective than usual when the Moon is in an air sign (Gemini, Libra, or Aquarius) and more intuitive and instinctive when it is in a water sign (Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces).

The Full Moon

Research shows that when the Moon is full, more traffic accidents, murders, and suicides take place than at any other time during the lunar cycle. Those unfortunate enough to endure mental or emo­tional problems can experience difficulties around this phase. It has also been documented that people with criminal tendencies tend to offend more around this time. From a magical point of view, a full Moon is an excellent time to cast love spells, as the power from the full Moon intensifies emotional matters.

Cast spells during the full Moon for:

  • Marriage
  • Romance
  • Harmony in relationships
  • Beauty
  • Musical talents
  • Psychic abilities

The Waxing Moon

When the Moon is waxing (growing into a full Moon), many witches cast spells to remove blocks and to improve life in gen­eral. Rituals can be performed if you feel that you are in a rut and if circumstances around you are not changing quickly enough. The energies at this time tend to work in a very positive fashion and usually bring about the desired results quite quickly.

Cast spells during a waxing Moon for:

  • Problems at work
  • Health
  • Money
  • Education
  • Self-discipline
  • Moving house or property matters

The Waning Moon

Magically, the waning Moon (when the Moon is shrinking toward a new Moon) is a good time to cast spells to remove unwanted situations and to shift negative or bad influences. There are times when we may feel like we don’t have the strength to tackle cer­tain individuals, or that we lack the confidence that we need to face up to our fears. Spell casting during this phase gives us the power to take control, strengthen our inner selves, and become more assertive in our actions. It can also help us to find something that we have mislaid.

Cast spells during a waning Moon for:

  • Banishing enemies
  •  Clearing negative vibrations
  • Harassment
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Willpower
  • Being bullied
  • Assertiveness
  • Emotional healing p Lost property

The New Moon

Spells cast during a new Moon can bring many new changes: buy­ing a new home, starting a new job, enjoying a blossoming rela­tionships. White Witches favor the new Moon phase when spell casting to bring about new beginnings of some kind. Usually, a spell to be rid of a problem or unwelcome situation would com­mence on a waning Moon; the witch would then wait until the new Moon to bring about the positive replacement.

Cast spells during a new Moon for

  • Conception
  • New jobs
  • New relationships
  • Weddings
  • Travel
  • Money matters
  • Parenting
  • Communication
  • Legal matters

Excerpted from Wicca Plain & Simple by Leanna Greenaway


Leanna Greenaway has her own monthly column in Take a Break’s Fate & Fortune magazine. As their resident witch, she answers reader’s questions and offers quick and easy spells to combat problems. She is the author of Practical Spellcraft and the cofounder of the Psychic Study Centre. She lives in the south of England.

Luck – A Bird’s Eye View

by Jessica Lourey

Something bizarre happened to me recently. It was so strange that I haven’t been able to fully process it even 24 hours later. It involved an impossible feat of physics, coincidence, and a brutal exercise in perspective. See this picture of my car’s grill, noting the 2″ x 4″ openings in it? Hang onto that image because it is pivotal to this story.

But first, I need to tell you that it’s been a difficult few weeks. The end of March, my sister announced that she and her partner of 17+ years are divorcing. He’s a good guy. We love him, and of course we love her. My nieces are grown, but this still affects them. These sorts of lifequakes stir up unresolved family issues and arguments, too, at least they do in mine.

On top of that, my writing retreat business folded before it even got started. After five months of working like mad dogs with only a handful of sign-ups, in early April my partner Allison and I decided this is not the business for us. It was good to step away, but the whole experience is failure-scented.

Finally, my first and probably only nonfiction book releases in two short weeks. In it, I step out from behind the cloak of fiction to share how I turn my life into stories. I LIKE THE CLOAK OF FICTION. That’s why I write novels and not memoirs, for the love of Pete. But the fact-to-fiction process has been so transformative for me, so healing and so much the seeds of great writing, that I can’t keep it to myself. Sharing it is the right thing to do, just like TEDx Talk was the right thing to do, but I’ve still felt like a naked freeway turtle for weeks now, that sensation growing stronger as my May 1 release date approaches.

So yeah. I’ve been on edge lately, pessimistic, overwhelmed, looking forward to something just around the corner that’ll make me happy, promising myself life’ll get better soon. (That’s what’s referred to as Minnesota optimism. You can put up with really cold winters if you spend your time thinking about summer.)

That’s a recap of my recent life up until yesterday, which is where the weirdness begins. I was traveling the 3.5 hours south from my in-laws to my parents. I was driving fast, but not too fast. My mind wandered as I drove. I unraveled the guilt I felt for not spending the previous day with my kids, with Z only home from college for three days and X stressed from all the family changes. I worked through plot holes in Mercy’s Chase, the next thriller in my Witch Hunt series. I daydreamed about the honeymoon Tony and I would finally take when we saved enough money and carved out enough time.

I was mostly feeling relaxed when I crested that hill and discovered…a flock of pheasants sitting on the road, in my path. I gasped. A car was coming toward me and the ditch to my right was steep. I had to stay in my lane.  I slammed on my brakes, but it was too late.

THUNK.

Wikimedia Commons open source

Have you ever hit an animal with your car? It’s one of the top five worst sounds in the world. It’s visceral. It’s hollow and solid and feathers and bone. It’s pain and you created it. I sucked in my breath and my eyes shot to my rearview mirror. I grew up in the country and knew the rules: you didn’t leave an animal to suffer. Please be dead please be dead please be dead. Except…I didn’t see a carcass in the rearview mirror. My stomach dropped. The pheasant must be hung up somewhere on my vehicle. I drove a few hundred feet and parked on the shoulder, scanning the ditch for sticks. I was almost in tears because if I had to remove that poor creature from my car and then put it out of its misery with my bare hands…well, I couldn’t think about that.

And for one sweet minute, I didn’t have to. When I stepped out of my car and walked on trembly legs around to the front, I saw no bird. No feathers. No sign of an accident. I dropped to all fours. The pheasant wasn’t under my car, either. I stood, glancing all around. I felt a little dizzy. No way way had I imagined this. I leaned against my car to catch my balance.

That’s when the flapping began. The pheasant was trapped behind my grill.

Like some rural David Copperfield, that bird had squeezed his chicken-sized body through one of my grill’s 4″ x 2″ openings while the car was traveling at 60 mph. Not possible. (Let me share the photo again here so you can see how impossible this was.) There was no way a pheasant was trapped inside of my car looking at me through my grill like my own personal zoo creature. Except that it *was happening*. I popped my hood, felt the seams along every inch of that grill, scoured the tire wheels and underbody, looked for any other possible explanation, but there wasn’t one. The speed and angle must have been freakishly perfect.

Here’s something they don’t cover in driver’s ed: what do you do when you find yourself on a lonely country road with a huge wild bird magically trapped in an inaccessible part of your vehicle? You get in the car and start driving, that’s what. And then you call your husband who is 40 miles behind and to the east of you and has no suggestions off the top of his head but to be fair this was new territory for both of us. We agreed to meet 25 miles south where his road and mine converged. It seemed like a solid plan until I’d driven all of two miles and started crying. That poor bird. It must be terrified. I couldn’t drive slower because then he’d be there longer, but I couldn’t drive faster because the radiator would heat up faster. I was torturing this creature.

When I smelled burning feathers, I thought, *That is the unluckiest bird in the world. *

I couldn’t keep driving for another 23 miles, not with that poor animal suffering. There was a closer town straight east. Going there meant I’d miss Easter dinner for sure, but I couldn’t keep this up. Ten minutes later, I found myself pulling into a gas station, wondering if I should park with my pheasant facing or away from the store. I decided on facing. He flapped when I walked by.

Inside the gas station, I spotted a couple farmers talking. “Hey,” I said, “I’ve got an odd situation and I’m hoping you can help?”

They gamely followed me outside, and in true Midwestern fashion, did not lose one ounce of their cool. “Well I’ll be damned. That’s a full-grown rooster you’ve got in there.” They chuckled. They told me maybe I’d have pheasant for dinner. They looked every which on my car and came to the same conclusion as me: the only way in was through the grill, and the only way out was by dismantling the front bumper. I didn’t have the tools. They didn’t either. They pointed me toward the police department. The situation could’ve only grown more surreal if one of them took to the air himself.

At the police station, Officer Jeff didn’t bat an eye when I told him I had something weird to show him–you guys, you really do need to visit Minnesota–and as soon as he laid eyes on the pheasant, he jogged back inside to grab a pair of gloves, some tools, and spent the next 20 minutes wordlessly removing my bumper. The longest sentence he strung together came after I asked him what we’d do when we got that poor bird out. I was not looking forward to seeing the shape he’s in. He was surely broken every which way but Wednesday.

I wanted the officer to tell me that he’d take care of the bird. Instead he said, “Hopefully, it’ll fly away.”

Officer Jeff, for all of his quiet capability, was clearly a dreamer.

The top seal of the bumper was finally off. Jeff directed me to pull the lip of it forward and down, keeping out of sight because if that pheasant had one ounce of sanity left, he was going to hide from humans. I was still 99% sure that bird was never coming out and that I’d have to sell my car when a big pile of pheasant poop dropped near my feet, I heard a glorious mad fluttering, and that bird took off. Like, IT FLEW, low and wide, that graceful path that only a male pheasant can fly, most of his gorgeous tail feathers still intact. He disappeared over a hill into the nearby woods. I let the bumper slam back, ignoring the deep indents its left in my fingers. Jeff and I were standing side by side, watching the pheasant fly.

“It’s an Easter miracle,” I finally said. We both laughed.

He reassembled my bumper. Just another day at work for him. I thanked him profusely. Tony pulled up four minutes later and hugged me. There were a couple of those soft poofy underfeathers up by my engine, but no other evidence. We slid into our cars and drpve to my mom and dad’s, where everyone had waited to eat until we arrived. The food was cold, the company good, and I couldn’t stop thinking about that bird. He’d survived a collision with a car at 60 mph, had broken no bones as he slid through the tiniest of holes, and avoided being cooked alive on the radiator as we’d driven another 13 miles.

He was the luckiest bird in the world.

I’d thought the exact opposite when I’d hit him. I know life is about perspective, but it’s a hard truth to remember. Thanks to the pheasant, though, there was no missing it yesterday, and I began to realign my own perspectives accordingly. My family shake-up sucks right now. It really does, but it’s an opportunity for my family to clean out some calcified garbage. I lost $5000 and hundreds of hours trying to start that retreat business, but in the process, I remembered that I’m on this earth to be writing, not travel-agenting and marketing. More importantly? I realized that I’ve been living my life in the future for years now, waiting for the money and the time to finally enjoy myself. The time is now, always, and it was worth $5000 and hundreds of hours to learn that (I hope it’s cheaper next time I have to re-learn that, which’ll probably be in a few weeks). Also, thanks to that damn pheasant, I booked two trips yesterday, one of them my honeymoon, a year after my wedding. Yay! And finally, my book, Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction, my super-personal how-to guide that comes out May 1? Well, as my friend Aimee wisely said, for good or bad it’s no longer my book. It now belongs to whoever reads it. I hope it brings them what they’re looking for.

I’m smiling as I type this. I’m the luckiest bird in the world.


Jessica Lourey is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries. Her latest book, Salem’s Cipher, earned starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist. She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology and a sought after workshop leader and keynote speaker. Visit her at http://www.jessicalourey.com.

Our June Titles Are Here!

Happy Reading!


Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards

Sasha Fenton

Who doesn’t want to foretell the future? Once you know how to interpret tarot cards, you can understand yourself and others better and be able to accurately predict what’s going to happen in the future. This accessible and easy guide teaches readers how to use the tarot to not only predict the future but to resolve a particular question, to provide clarity on personal relationships, and for a variety of other purposes. Fenton’s guidelines combined with the reader’s intuition makes using the cards easy and fun.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


Flower Essences, Plain & Simple

Linda Perry

Flower essences are herbal infusions, or decoctions, made from the flowering parts of plants that uniquely address emotional and mental aspects of wellness.  This book provides a helpful introduction with topics including: how to choose essences; how to make a bottle of essences; essences and their stories; case studies; and a glossary of more than 60 essences and their uses.  This is an excellent introductory guide for anyone interested in alternative health, aromatherapy, and vibrational health.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


Chakras Plain & Simple

Sasha Fenton

This accessible book introduces the seven major chakras—those spinning vortexes of energy throughout the body—and presents ways of healing the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual problems that arise when the chakras are blocked, misaligned, or too open.   It describes how the chakras affect people and provides simple healing techniques, some combined with other complementary systems that help channel energy through the body like aromatherapy or the use of gemstones.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)

What Is the I Ching?

by Kim Farnell

The words I Ching (usually pronounced EE Ching or YEE Ching) translate into English as “The Book of Changes.”

The I Ching may be the oldest book in existence. Dating back to 1000 BC, it is an ancient divination text that has evolved over many centuries, later including a mix of Taoist and Confucian philosophy. The philosophy behind the I Ching is that nothing is static and that everything changes over time, so our task is to adjust to the ebb and flow of changing circumstances.

I Ching Plain and Simple is not a translation of the I Ching. It is a book that explains the divinatory system of the I Ching and provides interpretations for each of the hexagrams in clear, modern language. The I Ching can help us to make decisions that logic alone can’t handle, therefore reducing the stress that decision making can cause. It enables us to manage sensitive relationships more successfully, to develop better timing and to tap into our creative insight and intuitive power.

Consulting the I Ching is different from using runes or tarot cards because its main task is not to tell the future as much as to make a situation more clear and to offer useful advice. It relies on the fact that achieving good fortune and avoiding misfortune depends on the choices that we make. When we consult the I Ching, we do not sit back and passively accept our destiny but actively create our own fortune. If our actions are in keeping with the advice of the I Ching, our fortune will be good. If our actions are out of harmony with the counsel or if we refuse to act when action is called for, then things won’t go as smoothly. Having said that, the I Ching often does offer guidance about the future.

Origins of I Ching

It is likely that the I Ching is the oldest form of divination on earth, as its origins reach back eight thousand years or so to the end of the Ice Age! The mythology of the origins of the I Ching includes the tale of Fu Hsi, the first emperor of China (3rd mil­leninum BC). The story tells us that Fu Hsi was sitting on the bank of the Yellow River when he saw a turtle emerge from the water. He paid close attention because he knew that all true wisdom came from observing nature. In his observation he noticed eight markings on the turtle’s shell; these became the original eight trigrams of the I Ching.

Out of this came the practice of tor­toise shell and ox shoulder-bone divi­nation. A red-hot poker was applied to ox bones, and wise men or “priests” deduced their meaning from the ran­dom pattern of cracks that appeared. Ancient Chinese soothsayers looked for portents in the cracks of tortoise shells, which were heated over a fire and then dowsed with water. The geometric patterns made by the resulting cracks were then stud­ied and analyzed. A secondary possible source of I Ching wisdom came from reading the lines that one can see on the flanks of an ancient type of northern Chinese horse. Whatever the ori­gins, the patterns of cracks inspired a systematic method that has developed over the centuries into today’s I Ching. This comes about via reading a three-line design that is called a trigram and a six-line design that is composed of two trigrams and which is called a hexagram.

The earliest appearance of a translation of the I Ching in the West was a Latin translation made in the 1730s by a Jesuit mis­sionary. The most influential translation into a modern Western language was made by Richard Wilhelm in 1923. Since then it has been translated numerous times and has grown in popularity in the West until the present time.

Excerpted from I Ching Plain & Simple by Kim Farnell


Kim Farnell has been a professional astrologer since 1990. She has taught astrology and lectured extensively in the UK and many places around the world. Kim has an MA in cultural astronomy and astrology and is the author of several books including Runes, Plain & Simple.