The Tarot Apothecary lays out a magical approach to the tarot that calls in the four wisdoms of tarot, aromatherapy, imaginative journey (the state of allowing your mind and imagination to journey outside of yourself with a predetermined intention), and simple everyday ritual. This creates a container of magical energies that allow for desired shifts in personal energy. This approach allows you to create your own personal cauldron of magic for movement forward.
This book is designed to be a companion to your personal tarot deck. As we travel through life and through the energies of the cards it is important to learn how to work with, and walk through, the energy of each card. This allows oneself to experience and learn from the message of the card. Sometimes an energy needs to be embraced and worked with. Other times we need to release the overbearing and difficult energy so we can walk through to the other side. In these circumstances, one can ask for support through embracing the energy of a chosen tarot card and working with plant allies to assist on the journey.
The tarot apothecary approach uses the twenty-two major arcana cards and the four queens within the tarot. Each major arcana card includes the following:
This approach is designed to bring support, courage, and confidence to move through a current energy allowing you to embrace and learn the message of the card. This approach also allows you to call in any energy you may require to create and step forward on your personal path. As we work with plant allies, stones, colors, meditative journey, and mantras, we gain control in our life and we allow ourselves to grow.
The Tarot Apothecary is written from personal experience, as well as my path of assisting tarot and aromatherapy clients, friends, and family on their adventures through the cards. When I first started working with tarot, I did not try to embrace the energy of the cards I worked with. I believed the influence of the card would come into my life and I would have to either endure or enjoy the energy, depending on the card. I never would have thought of walking through and learning from the message of the card. This new way of embracing each card came to me as I began my journey of working with essential oils and plant allies. I found that if I embraced the energy of the card and called in support from the plant kingdom, I was able to transition through the energy. I felt supported and grounded. As I started to embrace this new way of thinking and allowed myself to feel the energy of the card, at times I found the message of the card was too much and I was either frightened, or too anxious, to allow for total submergence into my personal journey. This is when I discovered that one can ask for support.
Shifting personal energies, by calling in a chosen energy, can give you more options and control in life. In working with tarot we can call in support from not only the twenty-two major arcana cards and the queens, we also have the four elements available to us. The suit of pentacles (earth element) brings in support, structure, grounding, abundance, nourishment, and trust in one's self. Cups (water element) support flow, open heart energy, the ability to be open to receive like the opening in a cup, intuition, spirituality, compassion, and love. Water can support the beginning of movement forward and start a small flow. Wands (fire element) is movement outward, action, the spark, creativity, strength, courage, transformation and leadership. Energy at its highest. Swords (air element) support truth, communication, inspiration, clarity, the ability to get things done, as well as focused intention. Calling in an element that is absent in a reading, or an element that will support your intended goal, helps immensely.
For example, when I was getting ready to teach my very first tarot class, I was terrified. I was talking myself out of teaching by listening to the voice in my head, my ego. You are not worthy of teaching. What makes you think you have the knowledge to teach? Just cancel the class, no one would even know. All of these thoughts raced through my mind. I pulled my cards out and read for myself. I needed to see what they had to say. I asked, "What is holding me back from teaching?" and received the Nine of Swords. I call this card "The Nightmare" because it is an air element card, which makes me ask, "What is going on in my mind?" The Nine of Swords shows fear, anxiety, and sleepless energy. "Fearful to move forward" was my answer. At that point, I decided I was too much in my head and not grounded in my body. By not standing strong, I was fearful.
I decided I did have something to say about tarot and if I did not start teaching now, I would lose the nerve and never teach. Since I felt the need to get back into my body and ground myself, I decided to work with the earth element. My Queen of Pentacles spray was born that day. I went into the kitchen and pulled out every earthy oil I could find and started blending. I paid no attention to what I was eally doing. I wasn't trained at the time. I just mixed patchouli, vetiver, cypress, Virginia cedarwood, and clary sage. I added sweet orange essential oil for a drop of fire. The fire element helped set the intention of starting the spark within, and supporting the energies of courage, confidence, and charisma. I turned all this into a spray that I used on my skin as a body perfume and in the air to call the Queen of Pentacles energy into my external space, and I loved it. I wrote a mantra for myself and worked with the spray at least three times a day, spritzing the spray while repeating the mantra (note: never spray an essential oil blend in the face as essential oils should never go into your eyes). Needless to say, I taught the class, and it was the first of many to come.
After creating my Queen of Pentacles spray, I started working one on one with the queens. I created a spray for each queen and sat in meditation with each queen individually. Each queen spoke with me and I learned to honor and work within their individual energies. I designed and taught a class called, "Goddess Save the Queens: Embracing the Elemental Energies of the Four Queens within the Tarot." Herein I discovered the power of the queens. The tarot queens not only embrace the energy of the element they are a part of, but they own that energy, they ooze that energy. I learned through embracing the energy of a queen, you can become that queen. You embody her energy, be it earth, water, fire, or air. Through embracing a queen's energy you have power, structure, and support based on each queen's elemental correspondence. You have the power you require to walk through your current journey. Even though you have embodied the queen's elemental energy, you are stepping out on your path as you.
You can also ask the assistance of a companion card for support on the journey. In this approach, the companion card is based on numerology. Let's say you are currently working with the energy of the Tower card. The Tower can be a difficult energy to walk through. However, the Tower is an important energy to learn from so you don't have to repeat this lesson again. In tarot the Tower card is fire energy; in order to create new ground for new growth, it burns up anything that needs to go.
This card can often be painful. Things fall away, sometimes unexpectedly. Life can change in an instant and often the ego feels the brunt of the lightning strike. The question with this card is, do you want to embrace the burn? If so, call in more fire and burn that stuff up. If the energy is overwhelming and too hot for comfort, then call in the Queen of Pentacles to add a firm foundation to stand upon. She can create a container for the burn so it does not get out of control and she can also allow support of self. One could call in the Queen of Cups for emotional support and trust in one's own intuition and internal knowing. You could also call in the energy of the companion card. The Tower is number 16 in the tarot. By reducing this number down to 7 (1 + 6 = 7), we find the power of the Chariot.
The Chariot is water element energy, allowing the fire to cool a bit. The Chariot also reminds you to stay focused on your chosen direction. Don't allow your emotions to get in the way. These two aspects give you the ability to move through the fire. Do not react, just feel and continue on. Are you seeing how this works?
The next step is to summon the energy into our life. How do we embrace the energy of a card or call in support from another archetypal energy in the tarot? You can do this by embracing the energy of the support card and calling in plant allies to lead the way. Here we learn to embrace energies through the support of essential oils, herbs, and teas.
How do we determine which cards are influential in our life right now? There are many different ways to discover this. Often there is one card that sticks out during a tarot reading. Maybe the Hermit shows up, and you know that it is time to seek within for your answers. Embracing the Hermit would be your answer. The Hermit is earth element, so using essential oils that are grounding and earthy would be supportive.
I often work with what year I am in the tarot based on my numerology for the year. (You will learn how to calculate your own personal numerology in chapters 2 and 3 of Tarot Apothecary.) I am currently in my Lovers year, so working with the Lovers and plant allies that support the energy of the Lovers are my go-to. The Lovers year embraces new relationships and allows for the release of some relationships. The Lovers year is about choice, one is often at a crossroads with this card. The Lovers is air element energy, so I work with plants such as lavender and peppermint, which also carry the energy of air. I also called in a second card, or archetypal energy, to support my Lovers year. In this case I chose the Fool as my second energy to work with. There was no calculation other than letting my intuition and mind select the card. I wanted to take a leap of faith into a career of writing. This was my crossroads; was I to stay in a "real" full time job, or could I find the courage to jump into a new life of writing? The Fool allows me to jump when needed.
You can also just decide to work with a certain card based on the energy you need at any time in your life, as I did with the Fool. I often call in a queen to help me embrace an elemental energy or the Magician, for manifesting self. All you have to do is look through the pack of cards and grab the image or the card which has the meaning you want to use. Then you can create an altar and call in the associated plant allies to guide you. An altar is a special space set aside for beauty, devotion, ritual and focus on a specific energy, deity, or archetype. This helps to create a relationship with the energies you are currently working with.
At other times, we may not pull cards or read cards at all. Often we know what energy we are lacking or searching for. At these times, we can choose which queen, or major arcana, card we wish to work with. I search through my deck and pull my desired card from my spirit deck. A spirit deck is a special major arcana–only deck I use only for ritual. I often like to use specific decks for specific tasks. I use this deck for ritual and magical intentions only. I also have a special deck in which I really love the imagery of the queens and this deck is my queens deck. I have often bought greeting cards with an especially beautiful feminine energy and elemental twist to them to use as images of the queens on my altars. Working with one deck or one set of images, allows for a stationary or a familiar image for your ritual work with the major arcana and queen workings.
Let's say we wish to work with the energy of the Magician. Here we can work with the earth element (for manifesting upon the earth). Since the Magician also includes the four elements upon his table, we can choose to call in a second elemental energy. What do you wish to manifest upon the earth? Is it a structure, abundance, fertility? These are earth elemental energies. Are you writing, speaking, or singing? Do you need to be truthful with yourself to move forward? Ask the air element to help. Fire element calls in courage, or charisma. Use fire to support your creative project, magic, or transformation. Ask the water element for emotional support, healing a blocked energy, or compassion for self. In this manner we are the Magician and we can manifest our desires.
You don't have to work with an elemental energy for a long time. Sometimes you can call in a particular elemental energy for an hour, or a day. Maybe I have a job interview, or maybe I'm not feeling myself. In this case I call in a queen or major arcana card to encompass the elemental flow needed. For the job interview maybe the earth element in its Queen of Pentacles form can help me be internally grounded and self-sufficient. Maybe fire, the Queen of Wands, for leadership, charisma, and courage. Water, the Queen of Cups, for compassion and caring energy and air, the Queen of Swords, for wisdom, clarity, and truthful speech.
Here's another example: I recently heard a friend of mine talking on a podcast. She stated that she would possibly carry the Emperor to a job interview, as that's the energy she would embrace. Fire element, strong, courageous, and structured. I lack fire in my astrological makeup. I always wear red to an interview to show power, strength, charisma and my creative spirit. Now I often ask myself if the reason I wear red is why I've gotten every job I have ever interviewed for that I wanted.
The tarot apothecary approach teaches you the skills to honor your own magic. In it, you'll learn how to:
While I teach you the basics, you'll use your personality, power and creativity to decide how you want to work with a chosen energy and how you wish to step forward on your path. Life does happen and sometimes we are not in control; but, we do have the power to determine how we will walk through as well as how we learn from our experiences. Embrace your personal magic, your personal power, and reach your desired destination standing strong and centered in your belief in yourself as The Tarot Apothecary guides you. Our mother, the earth, has gifted us with her powerful gifts and messages from the plant kingdom. We need to be open to believe and receive.
Let the journey begin.
Excerpted from The Tarot Apothecary by Ailynn Halvorson.