Many of you know that I based the number system in the Gaian Tarot on material I learned from Teresa Michelsen, author of one of my favorite Tarot books, The Complete Tarot Reader. Teresa will be leading a teleseminar discussion on the Gaian number system for the Gaian Tarot Circle on November 3rd.
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with the Tarot.
I’ve always been fascinated by images and their deeper meanings – as well as by cards, games,and systems of thought. Tarot combines all of these with psychology, mythology, art, and mystery, and each person redefines it in her own way, whether she is interpreting the tarot or drawing a new deck. Just the ways in which tarot has been reinvented over the centuries and on new continents tell us about the evolution of societies during that time. There is always more to learn and always deeper places to go with tarot.
That said, a long-term disappointment with tarot was that it did not seem to incorporate nature to any great extent. It was all about people, places, and symbols. The few more modern decks that did were hard for me to connect with, since they were typically Celtic or Southwest Indian in design. Then along came Joanna’s deck, with images of the Pacific Northwest that I have had imprinted on my psyche since childhood, and which I see reflected all around me. It also uses the elemental energies more directly, which has been my preference in working with tarot and the world at large recently. That this deck should come to exist I view as a personal gift from its creatrix and the Universe. 🙂
How are you expressing your creativity these days?
We all move through cycles in our lives. While for many years I have done a lot of writing and teaching about tarot, I have been transitioning to a different period where I am more directly engaged with people and activities around me, both environmental and social. When I thought about what form my creativity is currently taking, it led me to realize something surprising. Most of my creative energies are focused on understanding and coming up with effective ways to help people in conflict. Each group is different and each has its own set of challenges that push me beyond strategies and ideas I’ve used before, and each has its own set of energies to be worked with in creative and responsive ways.
So many forms of spirituality are focused on the inner world, the higher world, or the afterlife – but here we are, living on the earth – for a reason. . .
How is Nature important in your life?
To me, there’s nothing more important about living on this earth than the natural world. So many forms of spirituality are focused on the inner world, the higher world, or the afterlife – but here we are, living on the earth – for a reason. So much of our American lifestyle and culture has lost touch with nature that I appreciate people like Joanna, who remind us how to live in nature in an integral daily life kind of way, and who incorporate nature into their art. The environment has been my career my whole life, restoring and protecting waterways, and in return, it provides me with grounding, healing, and beauty.
What kind of spirituality do you practice, if any?
Being an agnostic means that I don’t have a specific spiritual practice or defined religion, but I am interested in learning about most religions and philosophies. Agnosticism requires remaining open-minded about all possibilities, and realizing that there are some things we cannot know while we are in physical bodies, perceiving the world through our subjective minds. Along similar lines, I don’t try to explain why or how tarot works. I believe through long experience that it does work, at a variety of different levels.
I see tarot as a reflection of the universe and patterns, archetypes, journeys, and cycles that exist within it. Using tarot, we can find our place within these patterns at any time, with respect to any situation.
Spirituality is a way of understanding the world and the universe and defining one’s place and purpose within it. Similarly, I see tarot as a reflection of the universe and patterns, archetypes, journeys, and cycles that exist within it. Using tarot, we can find our place within these patterns at any time, with respect to any situation. This helps bring a larger universal perspective to what is happening in our daily lives, provide emotional perspective, help make good decisions, and find a path forward that works with the energies surrounding us rather than against them.
Gaian Tarot Circle
Tell us about your upcoming teleseminar.
I’ve always been interested in patterns and cycles in the tarot. When I was a child, my mother was a numerologist and astrologer, so it was only natural when I began studying the tarot that I was interested in applying these ideas to it. Traditional numerology required a bit of adjustment to “fit” the tarot because of the extra 10 card in the minor arcana, which I see as the transitional card between the 1-9 of one cycle and the 1-9 of the next cycle. The version of the numerological cycle that I came up with was incorporated into the Gaian Tarot, which is really a perfect vehicle since it is so elementally pure. I love the connection of the direct elemental energies with the numerological meanings, and this is what we’ll talk about more during the Gaian Tarot Circle session.
Thank you Teresa! I deeply appreciate being able to use your number system in the Gaian Tarot.
(The photo at right shows Teresa and me at the end of the Readers Studio 2009, when we very tired, full and happy.)
TERESA MICHELSEN is a tarot reader, author, and teacher with more than 25 years of experience reading and teaching tarot. Teresa is the webmistress of the ComparativeTarot discussion list, teaches on-line tarot courses for beginning and intermediate tarot readers, published her first book on Designing your Own Tarot Spreads in 2003, and published The Complete Tarot Reader in 2005, both with Llewellyn. Teresa lives in Olympia, Washington, USA and in addition to her tarot work, has home-based businesses in environmental consulting and mediation. She loves traveling, blogging, reading, gaming, cooking, birding, kayaking, and is interested in organic foods and sustainability issues, microlending, health care reform, and environmental issues.
Please visit Teresa’s sites: