Author Archives: USGS Staff

Card XVIII- The Moon

On the 18th day of October, let's take a look at one of the most beguiling cards in the tarot deck- The Moon.

These are a few of my favorite examples. Do you recognize all of them?  


Let us know YOUR favorite Moon Cards and share your insights on them. When a Moon card comes up in a reading, what does it mean to you? 


Sneak Preview of Deviant Moon Book

Fans of Deviant Moon Tarot have asked for a companion book, and we have heard you!

Patrick Valenza is busily writing detailed descriptions of the cards with expanded meanings. He is also sharing insights into his own creative process, with personal anecdotes on what inspired his beloved Deviant Moon characters and their settings.

Here's a sample page (FIRST DRAFT) for the Magician Card.






I . The Magician


The novice magician performs on stage to the shadows of an imagined audience. Though he has not yet achieved mastery of skill, he envisions a time when he will be competent in his craft. This innate confidence lays for him a mental blueprint on how he can one day reach his goals. There is great effort and concentration expressed on his face as he wields the four symbols of the minor arcana. With time, practice, and patience, he will become fluent in them all.  In spite of inheriting the gift of four hands, he must still labor diligently to reach such a high level of craftsmanship. He dips his forefinger into a cup of blood, demonstrating that his art does not come without pain or sacrifice. The box at his knees is a material manifestation of the cosmos, symbolizing  that mortals, as well as gods, can revel in the rewards of the universe through hard work, will, and perseverance.



Upright meanings:    

The magician shows that you are more than able to master any desired skill through practice, sacrifice, and a determined focus on your outcome. He encourages you to cultivate your potential abilities and to be willing to invest the time required to do so. Occasionally, you may feel overwhelmed or frustrated, however persistence to the task at hand will pay off. Stay confident in your craft, and believe that your creative power will manifest into tangible results. Be resourceful in your approach to all situations, remembering that you already have everything you need inside yourself to accomplish your dreams.


Reversed meanings: 

The magician reversed warns of the waste or misuse of your unique talents.  There may be setbacks in undertakings due to uncoordinated efforts, and you might find yourself unable to grasp new concepts as confusion sets in. This could also signify the lack of confidence in your emerging abilities. 



"The magician is based on another Venetian character created for a story I was writing in 1982. In it, a mechanical fish made of gold arises from the canal and takes a few citizens on a ride beneath the city. At the time, I was progressing in my work as a colored pencil artist, yet I was getting tired of drawing figures in a traditional manner. I felt the need to grow beyond what I was comfortable creating. When designing the magician's body, I used stylized shapes more and more, as abstraction began to influence my drawings. Multiple arms just came naturally for this figure, as it was a necessity for him to be performing with all four suit symbols. Reality started to bend with the needs of each card. It was a precursor to other odd body parts to come throughout the deck!"





Rider-Waite on Wheels

I wanted to share this delightful interview by Madhavi Ghare with all our readers. Enjoy!

Tarot Card Images on Helmets

 by Madhavi Ghare

A very interesting idea was brought to my notice a few days ago – Tarot card images on Helmets! While exploring the whole thing a bit more, I had a chance to communicate with and have a nice telephone chat with Danielle Baskin, the wonderfully vibrant person who is the brains behind this concept.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation we had (both e-mail and telephone):

[Any errors in the transcription are purely mine.]


Danielle, tell me, how did you get this whole idea?


I [had] never touched a tarot deck until about two years ago when I was sort of ‘conned’ into getting a reading on the street. I was completely skeptical about the whole thing but [since I was] feeling sorta ‘off-track’ in life so [I said] “Okay, why not?”.

What really surprised me was the powerful sense of agency I felt immediately after leaving. It’s like all these hypothetical ideas [that] you didn’t know ever existed started to emerge simply from attempting to construct a story using these enigmatic images as a template. I accepted the idea that the Tarot cards [are purely images] – and didn’t reject it as a form of advice or therapy. The images trigger so much buried information! It’s [the process of] constructing the story that helps clear [the mind] and create patterns of thinking.


Helmet with Star Card Image

Helmet with Star Card Image



What was it about the cards – especially the images on the cards – that really struck you?


When I bought a deck and tried to figure out the different meanings of the cards, I started writing down my immediate reactions to the way Pamela Colman Smith placed the symbols.

I’ve always been fascinated on how different modes of thinking trigger eye movements – and how visual perception relates to storytelling.

For example:

  • Upper Left – What you’re imagining in your future
  • Upper Right – What events have actually happened (Unseeable)
  • Bottom Left – Potential area of mental space – not yet broken into
  • Bottom Right. What factors are affecting/controlling you

Of course, reversing the images changed the meanings dramatically. For example, in The Magician [card], when the card is reversed, the hand pointing at the plants is more noticeable. This could mean quite literally feeling like a situation is out of your hands and you can’t grasp your resources, you’re blaming something else for your situation. The infinity sign [seems] less important when reversed. His face frowns more. He points at nature. When [upright] The Magician is aware of all his resources and the natural world. He appears to be altering nature, to make it more beautiful using cleverness and manipulation.


Helmet with Hierophant Card Image

Helmet with Hierophant Card Image


[The amazing part is] that the cards were not painted in reverse. I’m not sure [that] Pamela Coleman Smith [thought about the fact] that the images would be flipped while she was painting them intuitively – but I still like the idea of the card possessing dual meanings, but a reversed card might be a stretch of a confabulation.


So what gave you the idea of painting these image on helmets, of all the things?


Well, the idea just came to me suddenly one day. The idea of having an entire deck of Tarot cards cycling around on the streets seemed to really jump out at me. There is a lot of motion involved with the Tarot cards. The images of the cards make you want to take action! I most certainly wanted to, and did!

The idea of seeing connections and attributing causality to chance circumstances is really fascinating to me. – while on a surface level the helmets are ‘protecting people from accidents’, they might [also] be regularly reappearing into people’s lives. It would be fascinating if people run into certain Tarot helmets on their daily commute and if there’s some sort of pattern of thinking (or mental state) that correlates to the times they do see that image – like “Whoa! I’ve seen that before! This is connected to this which is connected to this.”

I think temporarily disengaging from your environment is really important to help crystallize memories and sort of ‘think about yourself thinking’. Noticing symbols are important – because they help you learn about how you think. Not that symbols or omens are more powerful than you – but the idea that you’re noticing them could be more relevant than the symbol itself. It helps you pay attention to your own personal thought patterns and open up spaces for possibilities.

I also like the idea that each card-wearer will be connected to an entire deck. Realizing that he is a part of a whole. And that the whole is always in motion and impossible to capture.


All this sounds pretty interesting if you ask me!



Helmet with Emperor Card Image

Helmet with Emperor Card Image


Yes, it is! Especially since the wearer of the helmet always has the card stationary – there would be different ways to think about the card. [And as] the helmet is hemispherical like a brain, I got the idea of purposefully mapping out the images in accordance to the right-brain/left-brain.

Though highly debatable in neuroscience, the dualities that represent your conscious/public behavior (left) and your potential and unconscious thoughts (right) are understandable. The brain doesn’t necessarily work that way – but the two concepts or mental-modes are simple to grasp. I thought about this for a bit while mapping the images.

For example, the character in Justice is on the left side of the helmet hence its a card about public persona and and image you’re portraying. It’s less of a ‘personal’ image. I painted the High Priestess split in the middle in the back because its both subconscious and conscious. I think that card is about information and knowledge. How one can become burdened by excessive knowledge to the point where it blocks thinking. It is really symbol-rich and relates to vision (the occipital lobe).


What are your thoughts about looking at all these images in motion?


As I said before, the wearer of the helmet has the image stationary on his head, while he is moving around. Meanwhile other people may see the image either coming towards them, or moving away from them.

For example, with the High Priestess, if the image is coming towards you it means you have too much information clouding your thinking. You can’t see her from the front of the helmet. If [the image is] moving away from you it means you’re just scratching the surface of the learning experience. You need to examine things more closely. In the High Priestess image, you can see words and letters like ‘TORA’ but its physically moving away so you need to catch up.


What about the colors of the cards? Did they play any role in this process?



Helmet with Hermit Card Image

Helmet with Hermit Card Image


Oh, yes! The color choices are also really important.

For example, placing gray around only half of the Hermit (disappearing into a vanishing point) is another intentional choice.

I am planning to make a little informational booklet about each card and give it away with every helmet so that the people who buy the helmets can understand the fantastic symbolism of the images that they have chosen.


Did you get inspired by any particular card when this idea came into your mind? If so, which card was it?


Oh yes! It was The Magician card. He has all these resources on his table which he is using. And the infinity sign on top of his head – its like there are an infinite number of possibilities with the things you have in front of you.


Wow! The Magician is the card that does always talk about creative inspiration and creation. In fact, many creative people often use the image to help them find focus and bursts of creativity within their lives and work. I know I always pull out this card and look at it and carry it around with me, whenever I feel myself losing focus.


That is very interesting. But, funnily enough, it wasn’t The Magician which was my first helmet painting.


Then, which was the first card you painted on a helmet?


It was actually The Wheel of Fortune card. And I had some pretty interesting experiences with that image, let me tell you.


Really? Like what?


When I first started my company I created a Wheel of Fortune card for this psychic I met at a craft fair. I made it for free so I could meet with her to discuss tarot cards. Once I created it I kept getting tons of orders. When I went to meet her to give it to her my wallet was stolen from me on the subway. I actually lost some money when I was giving away the lucky helmet. Who knows what to attribute this to?


Oh yeah! I have had that experience with The Wheel! It is a crazy merry-go-round alright!


Tell me about it!

Danielle and I chatted for a few more minutes after that exchanging our experiences with the cards.

My Take:


Helmet with Fool Card Image

Helmet with Fool Card Image


Personally, I found this whole concept quite fascinating – imagine you are going to work and then you spot a helmet with the picture of The Magician card, and then you go to work feeling great and experiencing a burst of creative energy within you! Or seeing the picture of The Hermit card while you go back home from school, and finding that peaceful, solitary place to sit down and grasp some complicated lessons you learnt at school…

The possibilities of the sightings of these symbols is endless – and will only add to the powerful symbolism that surrounds us in our lives everyday! In fact, something like this makes us sit up and take notice of these symbols – which otherwise just go away unnoticed because we just didn’t look.

When I do get me one of these helmets, I plan on getting one with The Fool card .. We have quite an interesting bond, The Fool and I..

Which one will you get?

To order your helmet from Danielle, just go to her website or e-mail her at

…and the winner of the Halloween Tarot deck is:

HAT78 Berthe van Soest!

Congratulations Berthe! You were randomly selected from all of the participants and we couldn't be happier for you especially since Halloween Tarot is your go-to deck in October! We agree that the deck is super friendly and gets us in the mood for spooky readings.

Please email with your snail mail address and she will send your deck out just in time for Halloween!

We want to thank everyone who posted and shared their favorites. There were certainly some surprising choices. Keep coming back for more tarot fun and contests!

Decks for Halloween (And a Giveaway!)

Halloween tarot cover 180 oooooOOOOOooooo

Mad scientists, vampires, werewolves and creaky doors…

Icy winds, scraping twigs, laughing ghouls and headless horsemen…

Frenzied bats, bubbling cauldrons, candy corn and rattling bones…


Were you scared? Nah, I didn't think so.

So Happy Halloween to you, spooktacular Fool Stop Tarot Blog readers!

I thought I'd share some great U.S. Games Systems decks you could use for Halloween, Samhain and Día de los Muertos readings and parties.

First up: the oh-so-perfect-for-the-season Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee and Kipling West:

Halloween Chariot Halloween_Tarot_3 

Next, how about the utterly original Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza:

Deviant_Moon 3PDeviant_Moon asw 

Check out the hauntingly beautiful Archeon Tarot by Timothy Lantz:

Arch 1 Arch 2

And how about that nifty, quirky Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot by Graham Cameron:

Phantasmagoric_Theater_Tarot_11 Phantasmagoric_Theater_Tarot_6

In a similar vein, what about the Karma Tarot by Birgit Boline Erfurt?

Karma Kn Sw Karma Hanged

And what Halloween season would be complete without vampires, right?

Feast your eyes on the Vampire Tarot by Nathalie Hertz:

Vamp 1Vamp 2 
Tell me: do you use a special deck for Halloween, Samhain or Day of the Dead festivities? And, would you like to win the awesome Halloween Tarot (in a tin!) ? All you have to do is post your favorite spooky, unusual or "dark" deck from U.S. Games Systems before Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 10 AM EST to be entered into the random drawing.

Also, feel free to share any creepy or unusual Tarot readings you've given (or received!) during the Halloween season, as well as some of your favorite accoutrements or music that you use during Samhain parties or readings.

Have fun and good luck!

Janet, Social Media Maven

Tarot Crossword Puzzle

Crossword Woohoo! I made another Tarot puzzle for you all–this time, a crossword puzzle! Let me know if you'd like to see more of these types of puzzles, dear readers.


Tarot Crossword Puzzle

2. High Priestess
3. Court de Gebelin
6. Arthur Waite's Middle Name
8. Traitor
10. Levi
11. Sola
12. Fortitude
13. Batons
15. Thoth Judgment
16. Pictorial
1. Pamela Colman Smith's Nickname
2. Hierophant
4. La Maison Dieu
5. Lady Frieda
7. Juggler
9. Crowley
14. Pentacles

Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Nudity in the Tarot

BW 300 On the U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Facebook page, we're talking about nudity in the Tarot–and it's generated quite a few opinions!

Full-frontal, danglies, American "prudishness"–we're hearing it all on Twitter and Facebook.

You can be a part of the conversation at the USGS Facebook page at or via Twitter at

Or you can feel free to grab a beverage of your choice, sit a spell and share your thoughts here at the Fool Stop Tarot Blog.

Dan Staroff, creator of the Tarot of Sephiroth observed: When Tarot of the Sephiroth was in pre-production at US Games ten years ago…We had a serious discussion about nipples. They stayed in. Have times changed for the better or worse?

So tell me, dear readers: What do you think about nudity in the Tarot? When is nakedness "too much"? What about clients? Is it ever warranted?

Weigh in!

Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Image from the Barbara Walker Tarot ISBN 0-88079-292-2

Tarot of the Sephiroth ISBN 1-57281-251-6

And the Winner of the Swiss 1JJ Tarot Deck Is…

Confetti Lillie!

Congratulations, Lillie! You were randomly selected among all posters as the winner of the Swiss 1JJ Tarot deck!

Please email me at with your snail mail address so we can get your deck right out to you.

Because posters didn't have to provide the correct answer to Tarot Mystery #5 to be entered into the drawing, everyone's name was placed in the proverbial hat.

Thanks for playing, everyone, and stay tuned for another giveaway to commence very soon!

Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Halloween Spread

Ace Pumpkins 250 Not for the faint of heart (or spirit), here’s a Halloween Spread I’ve created to descend into the murky psyche while carrying the torch of truth.

This spread can be used with any Tarot or oracle deck, as well as runes.

Halloween Spread

You can choose one card for each position, or multiple cards:

Ghosts: What is haunting me from my past? (Recurrence)
Bats: What is driving me batty at this time? (Irritations)
Graveyard: What needs buried right now? (Surrender)
Cobwebs: What is a source of confusion for me? (Uncertainty)
Wicker Man: What needs burned right now? (Purification or Removal)
Monsters: What am I afraid of right now? (Fears)
Jack O’ Lantern 1: What needs illuminated from within? (Awareness)
Jack O’ Lantern 2: What do I need to carve out time for right now? (Priorities)
Trick or Treat Bag: What goodies do I offer the world? (Gifts and Blessings)

Do let me know if you try out my Halloween Spread, as well as how it worked for you!

Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Image from the Halloween Tarot ISBN 0-88079-965-X

USGS Celebrates Halloween!

Halloween 6 C Leaves falling, wind howling, spiders crawling and monsters roaming…

Yes, intrepid readers, we’re celebrating the thinning of the veil—a time of ghouls, flying brooms and haunted houses…


This month, look for spooktacular posts that will enchant, inform, intrigue and entertain you.

From a virtual costume party to ghastly giveaways, terroriffic spreads to “dark” deck profiles, the Fool Stop Tarot Blog is THE place to be during October!

So bolster your courage, don a mask and grab your trick or treat bag, because fiendish frights and frolicking fun are heading your way this Halloween!

Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Image from the Halloween Tarot ISBN 0-88079-965-X