Author Archives: USGS Staff

Moving Beyond the Little White Book

Imagine yourself in my worn out, yet still fabulous shoes: You’re in the midst of a Tarot reading that is insightful, exciting, revelatory and the querent is eating it all up with a glittery spoon. You feel like this:


Suddenly, you’re stuck! You’ve pulled a card whose meaning you just can’t remember and you open the Little White Book tucked into the deck’s box. Not only does the published meaning not relate to the meaning, it is so off-base that the LWB pretty much points and laughs at you, jumps out of your hand and crawls back into the box. The delicious stream of consciousness is smashed like a cockroach on the bathroom floor. You feel like this:


If this happens, it’s time to move past the Little White Book.

The LWB can be helpful. Perhaps you’ve got a radical new deck portraying familiar cards in an unconventional way. The LWB can help you orientate yourself with the perspective of the deck’s artist, which can provide a better understanding and enhance your readings. The LWB is light, easy to carry, and always there for you when you get really stuck. But despite its best intentions, the LWB can inhibit more than help. In fact, when I published a Tarot deck last year, I encouraged people to ignore the LWB and develop their own meanings for the cards.

The Little White Book should be treated as a guide to the deck, but not the final authority on the cards’ meanings. Most Little White Books only provide two or three lines of interpretation for a single card, when a single card could easily have a hundred or more interpretations. When the intuitive voice of the Tarot is coming through, reaching for that LWB can stop an authentic, insightful reading.

So, how does a reader get out from under the crutch of the Little White Book? How do we become our own LWB?

The key is in the images.

Tarot reading is historically an intuitive craft. It important for Tarot folk to remember that the Tarot came into its role as a divinatory device in 1400-1500s—a time when many people were illiterate and therefore LWBs were not part of the equation. Readings were most likely either intuitive or based on systems developed by families or teacher-to-student, or some sort of combination. It is the pictures on the cards that are the keys to tap into our own subconscious and this intuitive ability. When we let the pictures do the talking, there is no limit to what the Tarot can tell us. Let yourself answer the following questions when looking at a Tarot card: If the card contains characters, what are the characters doing? Where are they going? What is the result going to be? If the card does not contain characters, what emotions or feelings do the colors inspire? Does the arrangement of the objects remind you of anything in particular? Look at the card and pretend you’re taking an inkblot test: What is the first thing that comes to your mind?

I allow for any potential inspiration based on the card’s picture to help illustrate the reading. I pay attention to song lyrics it might inspire, quote from movies, a sudden thought of a person, e.g., “For some reason, this 2 of Cups is reminding me of my sister today…are you worried about your baby sister?” One thing to do is to make a practice deck: photocopy a Tarot deck and cut the numbers and titles off each card. Start working with the images themselves, not what you are striving to remember from the LWB’s depiction. For example, take the following card from the Medieval Scapini deck:


I’ve been working with the Medieval Scapini for seven years and have long since lost its Little White Book. Therefore, I have no idea what Luigi Scapini meant the card to mean (which happens to be the 7 of Wands). But whenever I pull that card, I focus on the guy yelling at a bunch of people who have no interest in what he’s saying. Perhaps the querent is going unheard? Maybe the querent is doing right to ignore nagging influences in their life? It would depend on the question. Again, I’ve been working with this deck for seven years and am only now, as I write this blog post, seeing the little tennis racket in the guy’s hand. If getting this in a reading, I might take the card to mean that physical exercise is important to the situation. (It’s probably a message to me to turn off the laptop and get off the couch…) But the next time I pull this card in a reading, I hope to forget everything I’ve ever concocted about it and let the card reveal something new through its picture.

The energies of the moment and the person you’re reading for (or yourself, if doing a self-reading) are the prime motivators for the reading. These energies will trigger your mind to see particulars in the cards’ images. It is in these particular images that the true message will show.

Allow yourself to forget everything you previously thought you knew about the card and read the pictures in the way a child might tell a story from a picture book. When you get a new Tarot deck, read the Little White Book but ultimately, be your own Little White Book. Draw upon your interpretations. But be willing to rewrite yourself each time you draw a card.

About the author:
Courtney Weber is a Priestess, writer, Tarot Advisor, performer and activist originally from Portland, OR now residing in New York City. Since beginning the study of Tarot at the age of 15, Courtney has gained a national clientele base and is a highly popular Tarot consultant at corporate, community and underground arts events in the Northeast Region and teaches Tarot workshops on both coasts. She is the producer and designer of “Tarot of the Boroughs,” a contemporary, Urban Tarot deck set in New York City with photography by George Courtney. Follow her on Twitter @cocotarot, her blog at or see Tarot of the Boroughs at She is available for readings via email, Skype and phone:

#Tarot Dilemna: Help Me Out

 It's a Tarot dilemna! We've lost the LWB (Little White Book) so we don't know what the cards mean. Can you help us out by telling us what each card says to you? And what you would think they meant if you got them in a reading about an upcoming vacation?



Today we are featuring the Joie de Vivre Tarot by Paulina Cassidy. This is just one of the upcoming releases from U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  If you click on the card, you will get a gorgeous, large image to peruse.


Timing #Tarot Tricks

Do you use timing in your Tarot readings? It can be difficult sometimes to pin things down. Here is one way to look at this.


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The suits can be seen as seasons of the year. Typically, Wands represent spring because they are the suit of the East for many. The East is about youth and new ideas. Wands are also the fastest suit so they can be seen as days. You would use the numbers of the suit to determine the exact day. For instance the 6 of Wands in answer to when something was going to happen would be six days.


click to enlarge

This is the energy of air. Swords are the the suit of the South or Summer in this system. They represent passion and energy. This suit represents weeks rather than days. The 3 of Swords here would mean your answer was coming within three weeks. This is the energy of fire.


click to enlarge

Months can be seen in the suit of the west which is also the season of Autumn. Emotions can take a bit longer to process so here we have months for the timing. Court cards are also numbered so here the King of Cups would represent fourteen months. This is the energy of water.

click to enlarge

That leaves Winter and North to the suit of Pentacles. It is a much slower energy. It stands for years in this timing table. The Page of Earth would mean 11 years. This is the energy of earth.

The deck used is the Crystal Visions Tarot which is coming soon from U.S. Games Systems Inc. The artist, Jennifer Galasso, is a fantasy artist and illustrator whose work is published as prints, greeting cards, collectible figurines, and many other gifts items. Visit the Crystal Visions Tarot site today.

Reversals: Turning the #Tarot Upside Down

How do you read reversals? Let's take some cards and see what some meanings might be.  From Monday's Guess The Deck, here is the 2 of Ghosts reversed. You may see this referred to as Rx or Rev.


Some ways to view a reversal are:


  • The opposite of the meaning of the card
  • A lessening of the meaning of the card
  • A shadow side of the meaning of the card

In this deck, the suit of Ghosts is the suit of Cups. So this is the card of partnership and love.

Opposite meaning: A break up

Lessening of the meaning: He's not that into you

Shadow side: There's another person in between you and she

What are some of your ways to read a reversal? What would you say if this card came up in your reading?   Does it matter where the snakes and cat are in this reversal?

Haindl #Tarot Winners Announced

Haindl_AceStonesWest Last week we ran three videos about Hermann Haindl. Every comment was put into a hat. Those of you who follow us on Twitter got a chance for another entry just by retweeting.

Well, we had a great turn out for this prize so we drew two names instead of one. Every one who commented or retweeted the link on Twitter were in the drawing.


I'm pleased to announce that Linda in Holland (Subrosa on Twitter) and Carolyn Cushing are our winners!

Ladies, we will be emailing you for your mailing information. Congratulations!

We love doing contests. Subscribe to this blog to stay informed of other chances to win some really fun Tarot prizes. HaindlCover Haindl_2Cups



A film about Hermann Haindl – #Tarot part 3

Have you enjoyed the first two videos? Here is the third. I liked seeing how he sat back from the images then took photos of various parts.
Imagine you were going to create a deck. What colors would you use? What would your suits be? Would you go for the traditional or delve into something else?
Leave a comment about your thoughts.

Want to win a Haindl Tarot deck? Leave a comment here to be in the drawing. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for other ways to win.

The winner will be announced next week!

A film about Hermann Haindl – #Tarot part 2

On Monday I shared a YouTube video from a film about Hermann Haindl. Here is the second part. What do you think of the imagery of this deck?
Do you have a favorite card from the Haindl Tarot? Leave a comment with your favorite card and why it is your pick.
Part two:

Want to win a Haindl Tarot deck? Leave a comment here to be in the drawing. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for other ways to win.

A film about Hermann Haindl – #Tarot part 1

Here is the first of three videos about Hermann Haindl. It is in German so if you speak the language and could translate, we non-German speakers would appreciate it.

The Haindl Tarot was published by U.S. Games in 1990.

I’ll post the next two this week. Part 2 will be here on Wednesday and part 3 will appear on Friday.

Do you use the Haindl Tarot? What is your favorite part of this video?


Want to win a Haindl Tarot deck? Leave a comment here to be in the drawing. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for other ways to win.