Author Archives: USGS Staff

Beginner or Fool: Which Are You?

Whimsical-Fool I was born on April 1, and The Fool card has always been my favorite. I am always interested to step out into new ventures, embrace new ideas, and test the unknown. ~Stuart Kaplan

Every Tarot reader started out a beginner. Many may tell you they began as Fools and are still fools. When you first picked up that deck (or if you are contemplating picking up a deck), you are embarking on a fool's journey. Recently on Facebook, we discussed what decks we each began with and what decks we would recommend to others.

Of course the Rider-Waite Tarot came up more than once, but so many other decks as well.  Of course, it is always a good idea to pick a deck that appeals to you on a visual level. I know of at least a few readers who will have the Rider-Waite as their learning deck while using a second deck for the images.

There is something so timeless about the Rider-Waite Tarot to me. Who can see the iconic Fool and not know immediately what it represents? That's just one reason the Rider-Waite is the most popular Tarot deck in the world. One reader in Dallas, Ferol Humphreys, commented that she likes to keep a spare Rider-Waite in her purse so that she can give it away. Others talked of using it to teach with as well. But there is more than one Rider-Waite Tarot.

Tell_Me_2 Here are some of our decks that a beginner might enjoy. There is the classic Rider-Waite(R), the Golden Rider Tarot, the Universal Waite(R) Tarot and more. The Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative set also features the Rider-Waite Tarot.

Or you might be someone who prefers decks that simply tell you what the meaning is. For you, we have the Tell-Me Tarot or the Vanessa Tarot. Each deck offers meanings on the cards. Some like to be able to compare cards so they might prefer the The Complete Tarot Kit which offers both the Rider-Waite(r) Tarot and the Thoth Tarot. With the provided journal to write your observations in, you have everything you need with this kit.

One final deck a beginner might enjoy is the Whimsical Tarot. This little deck has been a favorite for years. Due to its continued popularity, U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has reissued it. This is a great deck for the younger set as well as the young-at-heart.

What elements are most important for beginners, do you think? Is it the accessible imagery or the straightforward meanings? Or do you think it is something else all together?



So what was your first deck? Do you still have it? Do you still read with it? Would you recommend it to others as a beginners deck? We want to hear your thoughts. Are you still a fool? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

The Path To Thanksgiving: A Tarot Spread

 "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice."

-Meister Eckhart

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."

-W.J. Cameron


There is a path to Thanksgiving? Yes, there is a path to Thanksgiving – and to thanksgiving (the giving of thanks). Thanksgiving is celebrated here in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November. (Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October.) The first Thanksgiving celebration in the American colonies was shared by the pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. It was a celebration of the colonists having survived their first difficult winter, but also a celebration of their having learned from the Indians how to live off of the land.

Modern Thanksgiving is a time of families getting together, of traditional family recipes appearing on the table – of roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. It also highlights one of my favorite events of the year – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which ends with the arrival of Santa Claus in his sleigh. Your household may be watching old movies, or that very important football game, or, in the past few years, a very important NBA basketball game.

Readers see another side of this holiday, especially if they read for a phone line. They see the stress that people are under – dealing with difficult family members, tempers flaring, alcohol consumption gone out of control. They might also see those individuals who are spending the day alone, which might trigger some level of depression. How can we help our clients (or ourselves, if we are under stress)?

I designed the following spread as a way to get a quick overview of the Seeker’s situation. Further questions can be built on this spread.

Thanksgiving House of Cards 

  1. Where is the stress coming from that the Seeker is aware of?
  2. Where is the Seeker’s hidden stress coming from?
  3. What actions can the Seeker take to release their stress?
  4. What energy can the Seeker use to help heal?

 From the Fantastical Creatures Tarot (Lisa Hunt & DJ Conway) I drew: 

  1. The Star
  2. Page of Cups
  3. Knight of Swords
  4. Queen of Pentacles


The Giving of Thanks

The giving of thanks is an ingrained part of Thanksgiving, beginning with the pilgrims being thankful that they had survived their first year, and that the native Indians shared their wisdom on how to live in harmony with the land, in a healthy manner. The giving of thanks does not have to be limited to Thanksgiving Day – it can be honored all through the month of November (actually, it can and should be honored year round).

When we give thanks, we are acknowledging the things that we have to be grateful for – the things that nourish and sustain us. In acknowledging the things that sustain us, we are able in many ways to release at least some of the stress that we are under. Our lives are filled with blessings, if we choose to see them.

In what ways can we acknowledge the blessings in our life? Here is a partial list – place in your life the tools that work best for you. You are a unique individual, and you lead a unique life. Only you know what will work best for you. 

  1. Prayer
  2. Thanking your Guides.
  3. Journaling
  4.  Giving a random smile to a friend, co-worker or stranger.
  5. Lending a hand to someone in need.
  6. Inviting someone who would otherwise be alone to celebrate Thanksgiving with you and your family.
  7. Donating time or money to your favorite charity.
  8. Making a conscious effort to life your life in harmony with those around you, and with Mother Earth.
  9. Make an effort to live in the present – in this way you will notice the abundance and prosperity around you that you have to be thankful for.
  10. Give silent thanks as you go about your day.

The Tarot represents the story of our life. Its archetypal nature tells our personal stories, as well as the stories of communities and nations. It is an excellent tool for understanding where and how we have a need to give thanks. In giving thanks, we are keeping in touch with ourselves, and with the environment around us. We are keeping our mental/physical/emotional/spiritual selves in balance, and living our life in an authentic manner.

What does the Seeker have to be thankful for in the:

  1. Mental Realm.
  2. Physical Realm
  3. Emotional Realm
  4. Spiritual Realm

 From the Medieval Scapini Tarot I drew: 

  1. Nine of Swords
  2. Seven of Wands
  3. King of Cups
  4. Temperance


May this Thanksgiving find you healthy, happy, and celebrating the abundance and prosperity that is rightfully yours!

Wishing each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 © November 2010 Bonnie Cehovet

CONTEST: Calling All Would-Be Sleuths!

Calling All Would-Be Sleuths!

We like games here at US Games Systems, Inc. So let's play one. It's a scavenger hunt! What will you win? Your very own copy of the Doomed Queens: Royal Playing Cards deck, that's what. You can play Rummy with your friends and wow them with the Doomed Queens of Kris Waldherr. 

DQ54_1 So what you have to do to enter is answer the following ten questions. All answers can be found on the U.S. Games Systems, Inc site and on this blog but you will have to hunt for them. So grab your pipe and magnifying glass, all you would-be Sherlock Holmes types. Let the search begin!


1. U.S.  Games Systems, Inc. publishes award-winning card games. Name one.

2. If you want to be informed of the specials for registered customers only, what should you do?

3. Why was Waite's choice of Pamela Colman Smith such a good thing?

4. What was the first product giveaway on the U.S. Games Systems blog?

5. What are three types of Rider-Waite Tarot that we publish?

6. Find at least 2 products with the word "dog" in the title.

7. What year was US Games started?

8. Name three titles in the Natural World Playing Card series.

9. What is the tiniest deck published by U.S. Games?

10. How many pages are there in Volume II of the Encyclopedia of Tarot?

Sherlock Don't put your answer in the comments! You don't want to make it easy for your competition. Email your answers to our Watson ( by Sunday November 21, 2010. The winner will be drawn from all the correct answers. Look for that name to be announced on this blog on Monday November 22.

So what you have to do to enter is answer those ten questions. The game is afoot!

© U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

The Empress’ Harvest Wheat Bread Recipe

What better time than the present to pull out the Empress Card, and with it, the fabulous recipe for Harvest Wheat Bread from Corinne Kenner's Epicurean Tarot.





The Empress’ Harvest Wheat Bread


1 package active dry yeast

1/3 cup dry milk

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons honey

2-3 cups unbleached all-purpose four

2 cups warm (110° F) water

2 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup cracked wheat

3 cups whole-wheat flour


Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons of the warm water. Add milk, salt, honey, and 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Add the water, butter, and molasses. Stir vigorously.


Add the cracked wheat and whole-wheat flour to form a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. (Use additional flour as needed to make the dough manageable.)


Lightly oil a large bowl, and roll the dough in it to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise until it doubles in size (about an hour).

Punch the dough down and let it rest 10 to 15 minutes.


Shape the dough into two loaves and let them rise until they double in size (about 45 minutes). Place in lightly oiled pans.


Place in preheated 375° F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans immediately. Let cool before slicing.




Celebrate Abundance

Images The start of November has me thinking about the celebrations ahead; the gathering of loved ones to express thanks for the bounty of blessings in our lives. 


When I think about 'abundance' the tarot card that comes to mind first is the Three of Cups, with its joyful dancers with glasses raised. Near their feet, we see a spray of vegetation with pumpkins and grape vines. 

 In her book Introduction to Tarot Susan Levitt points out that "The pumpkin in the foreground indicates a spiritual harvest, or that emotions will be jubilant come autumn."

A similar interpretation is given Hajo Banzhaf's book Tarot for Everyone, "The Three of Cups indicates that a matter will develop favorably. It depicts a harvest festival and means that something reached a good end, the harvest was brought in and we can be thankful, happy, and satisfied with it."  

Of course, in the Crowley Thoth deck, the Three of Cups bears the key word ABUNDANCE. 

In the coming weeks, I look forward to having you gather here to share your stories of celebration. What are you most grateful for? How do you express it? 

Blessings to all!



Integrating The Shadow – A Halloween Reading

I dearly love the month of October – the beautifully colored leaves, the crisp, cool air, and all of the spooktacular Halloween costumes and the preponderance of lovely chocolate candy! I love the decorating, I love carving up a pumpkin every year (although I have zero talent in this direction, and they all end up looking the same!), and I love getting small bags of (chocolate!) candy ready to give out. I also love doing late night readings on this one night of the year when the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is at its thinnest. 

I do want to take a quick look at the different names for this night, and then I want to talk about a reading that you might want to try. This night of nights can be referred to as Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or Samhain, and is associated with the Day of the Dead. Halloween is of relatively modern origins, having its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, as well as the Christian celebration of All Saints Day. It is largely a secular holiday, focusing on activities such as trick or treating, costume parties and the telling of ghost stories. All Hallow’s Eve is the night before All Saints Day (November 1st), and is a time for feasting and remembrance.  Samhain is a Celtic festival celebrating summer’s end and the harvest. The Day of the Dead is a Mexican festival that brings families together to pray for and remember family and friends who have crossed over. 

Rather than dialogue with ancestors, or ask for wisdom from Spirit, this year I decided to address the Shadow side of life. The thinning of the veils makes it very easy to access Spirit, but it also carries another huge dividend: it allows us to use wisdom from Spirit to bring up our Shadows from our subconscious into the light of consciousness. Think about it: Shadow would not exist without the benefit of light. This is my reading for you on this night of nights:

Integrating The Shadow

The Cauldron: What do I need to know on this night?

The Ghost: What shadow from my past is holding me back?

The Goblin: What actions can I take to understand this shadow?

The Broomstick: How can I best move forward on my path, now that I have integrated this shadow?

The cards that I drew were:

The Cauldron: King of Cups

The Ghost: Queen of Pentacles

The Goblin: Two of Cups

The Broomstick: Queen of Wands


I have chosen to illustrate this reading with four different decks: the Deviant Moon Tarot, the Fantastical Creatures Tarot, the Halloween Tarot In Tin and the Lover’s Path Tarot. Each deck brings its own energy to the table.


The Deviant Moon Tarot, by Patrick Valenza, deliberately includes images of cemeteries and mental asylums to help illuminate the deeper parts of the subconscious. The imagery is jarring, and a bit on the dark, or shadow side, yet amusing in its own way. It is all about visions and bad dreams, and acts as a wonderful gateway on this night of nights.


The Fantastical Creatures Tarot, by Lisa Hunt and DJ Conway, is a much lighter deck. Based on mythical creatures and fantasy animals, it is an awesome showcase for talented artist Lisa Hunt’s work. The one thing to note with this deck is the elemental associations: Swords are Fire, and Wands are Air. Other than that, it is based on the traditional Rider-Waite template. Deep messages have the ability to sneak through the lovely watercolors of these cards without scaring the heck out of anybody! 


The Halloween Tarot In Tin, by Kipling West , is a very light, fun deck with the suits entitled Pumpkins, Imps, Ghosts and Bats, and a sleek black cat as a central character! The artwork is cartoon style, with strong coloring. As with the “Fantastical Creatures Tarot”, this deck brings messages across from Spirit in a very non-threatening manner.


The Lover’s Path Tarot, by Kris Waldherr, features classic loves stories and myths from around the world. It references love, emotions, and relationships – all of which play into our shadow selves. Waldherr notes that all love relationships mirror our relationship with ourselves. It is in our relationship with ourselves that our shadows lie. The artwork in this deck is very easy to connect to.

I hope that you have enjoyed all four of these decks, and are getting some ideas for what you want to do on your “night of nights”!


© October 2010 Bonnie Cehovet


Take a break to play :Tarot Anagram

Here's a fun tarot anagram for all you wordsters out there.


1. First, use ALL 13 letters above to form an important term in the tarot deck. 


2. Now, see how how many other smaller words you can create when you scramble  these letters. Create as many words as you can using at least 4 letters. 

For example, HEART, THRONE, HERO, PATH  etc. 


HAVE FUN and let me know how do you!