Death | CULT Tarot Card Meaning | Renewal

Death | CULT Tarot Card Meaning | Renewal

Death

(13)

Pronouns: She, her

+ Change; destruction

– Rebirth; laziness; forced to change

This deck was created between June and September of 2020 in the United States. Many of the cards are a direct response to a sense of helplessness and are this illustrator’s attempt to control some aspect of the world around me. If 2020 has taught me anything however, it is that I am only powerless when I have decided to give up and I’m only alone when I decide to isolate. 

The Death card is a symbol of a transformation. Death is a part of life and is an end as well as a new beginning. This change is only possible if we allow pain and discomfort into our lives as our teachers. I’m not talking about abject suffering. I’m referring to the discomfort of acknowledging our wrongs, getting honest and humble, and letting knowledge and empathy be our guides moving forward. 

Unlike the Tower card the change of Death is not always abrupt or violent (although it could be) but it is none the less an unpleasant process. 

Should this card come up, let it guide you through to the other side of something that will be hard but worth the effort. Know that now more than ever, more people are starting to understand this need for change. It will absolutely be a bumpy road but worth the journey. 

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner
Temperance | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Temperance | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Temperance

(14)

Pronouns: She, her

+ Good health and humor; well balanced

– Transformed; rejecting a defined binary; gray area

I am asked often about my favorite card. I try not to have one but if I did, it would be Temperance. It is an aspirational card for me and I could not bring myself to “horror it up” for this spooky deck. Instead, I focused on the tranquility of this woodland princess playing with river water on a fall day. 

This card is about balance and good humor. Temperance doesn’t tip the scale into pleasure or pain. It’s contentment which I believe is far more difficult to achieve. 

Should this card make it into your spread, consider it a sign to not jump into the deep end of the pool but also don’t be afraid to get a little wet either. Moderation is key. Should this be negatively aspected consider evaluating to what extremes you are taking things.

 

CULT Tarot Card Meanings | Major Arcana | Minor Arcana | Previous Card | Next Card

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner
Devil | CULT Tarot Card Meaning | Freedom

Devil | CULT Tarot Card Meaning | Freedom

Devil

(15)

Pronouns: They, them

+ Sex; indulgence; rejection of shame

– Insecure; repressed feelings; oppression; stuck a manifestation of collective insecurity

I describe my decks as “responses to the Rider Waite”. It’s hard for me at this point to not use a system that’s pretty well established and widely read. That doesn’t mean I don’t tweak the hell out of it to fit my own artistic needs. That’s very much the case with this card. The Devil in the context of this deck is about whether or not you are stuck inside societal expectations—trapped into being someone you don’t want to be. 

This Devil is androgynous and heroin-chic sexy. They epitomize an unrealistic expectation that we have been told is “conventionally attractive” and yet they look over their shoulder with a hint of paranoia. 

I thought a lot about the “Cool Girl” speech from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and how we begin to warp into a strange hybrid of the Expectation cloaked within the Reality. The fear of being truly seen is terrifying.

What if the path of the Devil was rejecting an impossible standard? Instead, we choose to truly love and accept ourselves and one another—appreciating the life we get to live here, today.

This Devil is us. We are plagued by a dysmorphic mirror and an internal voice that holds us to an impossible standard. It wants us to believe we aren’t thin enough, femme enough, butch enough, light-skinned enough, queer enough, pretty enough—whatever other bullshit lies are out there. It’s hard not to believe our own internal shame, especially when everyone is struggling with their own—feeding it with fear. This striving for perfection keeps us stuck. 

If this card comes up in a reading, ask “how am I stuck?”. What kind of internalized self-hatred should be divested?

 

CULT Tarot Card Meanings | Major Arcana | Minor Arcana | Previous Card | Next Card

 

 

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner
Falling Tower | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Falling Tower | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Falling Tower

(16)

Pronouns: He, him

+ Disaster; crippling ruin

– Dramatic change; opportunity to change direction for the better

The crumbling Tower is toxic masculinity personified as Frankenstein’s monster. Dr. Frankenstein’s hubris to conquer death and create something to top nature led to his downfall. The monster didn’t ask to exist but he’s here now and using his immense power for ill.  

When any one of us suffers we all suffer. This doesn’t excuse abusive and shitty behavior but that behavior is a dangerous symptom that needs to be addressed. Something I have noticed in my own bias is how rarely my work touches on issues that effect people raised as boys. I have fallen victim to the idea that I can’t be a part of the conversation because somehow loneliness and insecurity when packaged differently is not relatable. This is a mistake.

Should the Tower show up, I tend to take a more optimistic approach. Things aren’t great. However, they can only get better from here! The power is in acknowledging the bad in order to start building the good. Exiling or ignoring the bad is a temporary fix.

 

CULT Tarot Card Meanings | Major Arcana | Minor Arcana | Previous Card | Next Card

 

 

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner
Star | CULT Tarot Card Meeting

Star | CULT Tarot Card Meeting

Star

(17)

Pronouns: Ze, hir   

+ Good prospects; on the other side of something hard; respite

– Broke; worse for wear

At this point in the journey, the Fool is over the hump having survived a lot including the Fallen Tower. The Star serves as a promise of a new dawn. The thing about tomorrow is that it is going to come no matter what. It’s not up to us what happens but we can decide how to deal with it. The Star is a reminder to take each day as it comes, treat it like your last, and try not to sweat the small still—because the worst thing that was going to happen already did and you survived it. 

Survival doesn’t have to look cute either. This Star is segmented into prices, torn apart by life and all its bullshit. But they are still freakin’ standing and taking on the day.

If this shows up in your reading, look at the cards before and after and ask what the relationship is there. While a lot of cards are about transition or preparation for change—the Star is a pause. Whether that is the eye of the storm or a sign that things are clearing up—this is the time to just take a breath, attempt a bit of gratitude, and rest.

 

CULT Tarot Card Meanings | Major Arcana | Minor Arcana | Previous Card | Next Card

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner
Moon | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Moon | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Moon

(18)

Pronouns: She, her

+ Enemies are concealed (wolves in sheep’s clothing); indulging in excellent sex; accepting our complications; loving ours whole selves 

– Flinging blame, shame, and deceptive cruelty; letting the subconscious come forward including desire and fears; embracing id

Black women’s bodies have been used as objects and abused for centuries. Whether for desire or cruelty, we have weighed down Black women with our gaze for far too long. As a white lady artist I was worried about painting a nude Black body in this deck for this reason. Conversely, representation matters and there’s also a trend for artists to not celebrate black and brown skin in their work (or to render it very poorly). Then I found this perfect reference and I knew this was the perfect model and pose for this deck. 

The Moon also gets short shrift in tarot. It’s moody and mysterious—somehow the way it comes off to me is a bit rude and negative. 

The Moon is a poem about elegance and power.  She floats confidently. While some would say the Moon is cold and isolated, I have always felt her to be a symbol of quiet power. In this card, I made her into a bride—her spouse is the night.

In a reading this card is about embracing ourselves  and divesting ourselves of our personal hang ups. The wolves in sheep’s clothing can be real people or they can be our own bullshit, waiting to sabotage us. Be free.

 

 

 

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner
Sun | CULT Tarot Card Meaning | Ego

Sun | CULT Tarot Card Meaning | Ego

Sun

(19)

Pronouns: She, her or They, them 

+ Ego; the center of attention; leadership; shining brightly; showing our best side; achievement

– Verbal diarrhea; bad at keeping secrets; insecurity on display; asking others to carry our burden but never offering to help others with their own; foot in mouth; trouble

The Sun can be a source of love and warmth. Too much of it though can irradiate the skin off of your body leaving you a peeled and pulpy mess. 

If the Moon is about subconscious thought than the is Sun very conscious thought and action. I have had moments in my life where I call attention to myself and wind up looking like an utter fool. No one remembers these moments from my timelines, but I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about them. This card depicts that panic for me. 

I can handle public speaking and putting myself out there, but it zaps me of all my energy and when I have nothing in the reserves, the panic creeps up and creates these vivid nightmares. The many tongues or pulling out my insides has come up a few times. 

Should this card turn up, it can mean a couple things: our outward facing self is shining bright and the leadership skills are on display. Maybe there is a Sun in your life that’s showing their best side. Conversely, there could be some foolishness happening and it needs to be straightened out.

 

 

 

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner
Judgment | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Judgment | CULT Tarot Card Meaning

Judgment

(20)

Pronouns: None

+ A fresh start, a reunion; building a new definition of fairness

– Mistakes, suffering, and loss; cleansed 

Instead of Judgment as an action being acted out upon us, what if it referred to exercising our ability to choose. Black Phillip’s head combined with this figure is not condemning anyone but patiently waiting for your decision. 

Maybe it’s time to come to terms with something and pick a lane. You have the freedom to do whatever you deem necessary— but your actions have consequences. 

Often these cards have asked you to think about how your actions effect other people but this card is a reflection your previous movements and asking if you have assessed whether they worked for you or not. 

When I was 29 years old, I hit a wall in my life. Looking in from the outside you would think I was fine. I had a job and was in a relationship. Things were ok. However, on the inside I felt like I was barely keeping it together. I could never quite catch my breath because I was always on the edge of a panic attack. One day I was laying on the couch and realized that if this kept up I was going to die a slow and miserable death. It became clear to me in that moment this fact was terrifying to me. So, I slowly got off the couch and asked for help. That lead to one thing, then another and now I’m doing ok. My life isn’t perfect and I have my bad days but it’s nothing like before. Discovering my deepest fear was slowly closing in on me took longer than I would have liked but I was able to pivot get back on solid ground. Now, when I eventually leave this earth I know that I will have done everything I could to live deliciously.

 

 

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner

The Suit of Cups | CULT Tarot Card Meanings

The Suit of Cups Card Meanings

 Vampires and sex rule this emotional suit about relationships.

 

Ghosts and the undead rule in the most depressing of the suits.

Ace of Cups

Element: Water (Blood); vampires

+ My cup overflows with adoration; sex and love; home is where the heart is

– Denial; putting up walls to emotional connections; lack of a place to call one’s own, unstable

Vampires have been stalking the halls of our imagination for centuries. They are monsters who indulge in the hunt for food and sex, passionately consuming what they will for as long as they can avoid a stake to the heart. Like all monster myths they reflect what we fear the most—which I argue is a repackaged version of our own darkest impulses and desires. Our base instinct is to fear death but eternal life becomes its own punishment. 

Over time the vampire myth has exposed our fear of disease and foreign customs. Now the vampire is a Byronic hero of our current age, a brooding sexpot that allows us to embrace some version of sexual kink.

As a baby goth, the vampire was the brooding loner that I aspired to be—brimming with misunderstood creativity and emotions. They seemed to openly feel things so deeply but also remain powerful and in control —my teenaged self was incredibly jealous. Growing up in then rural Virginia, emotional honesty was rewarded with ridicule. Showing interest in things outside of narrowly defined parameters simply made you a target. Seeing the few brave openly gay people in my school go through harassment from students and teachers alike, I learned to hide my still unexamined queerness with great effectiveness. Taking the hiding to the extreme, I managed to be missing from at least three out of four high school year books, opting to jump through only the most mandatory hoops required to get out of town and never come back. It was the Doom and Gloom night as the local gay club that saved me while I still lived at home. Meeting people, who were doing their own hiding, come out once a week to just be ourselves and jump around on the dance floor was the community I needed. 

These vampires are a sensitive and sensual lot and this suit captures their unabashed passion and creativity.

 

Two of Cups

Pronouns: She, her (both)

+ That first crush or infatuation; a flirt; tenderness and togetherness 

– Bickering and fighting

Should I ever put pen to paper and craft a retelling of Dracula it would be Lucy and Mina together against Bram Stoker’s monster. Apologies to Jonathan Harker but his storyline was just a way into the Transylvanian castle. 

Lucy and Mina as the two of cups balance one another’s personalities and share an enviable bond. It’s this relationship that needs to be explored further. Their chemistry is especially evident in the 1992 film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola.  Lucy is a bawdy flirt who brings out the good humor in shy and reserved Mina. They look over a book of what appears to be the Kamasutra (introduced to Victorian England in 1883) and tease each other about sex while preening. When Lucy becomes ill it’s Mina who stays by her side until being pulled into battle the vampire who targeted them. 

Mina is depicted here as a vampire with Lucy as her trusted blood donor.

 

Three of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Joy; mission accomplished; orgasm

– Distracted; too many outside opinions

While company can be nice, there is a pleasure in entertaining oneself. Solitude is not always a punishment. 

This card celebrates when all the right ingredients come together and we are allowed to celebrate  life’s simple pleasures. Enjoying the little victories is arguably the key to enjoying daily living. 

While the vampire myth was born from fear and an obsession with death, the stories have evolved into ones about indulgence and romance. Our supine figure is blissed out and in repose but a new fire has been started—a loving relationship with the self.

The vampire myth has branched out and evolved beyond tales of fear and death to become a new genre of paranormal romance. I can’t help be see that as an embrace of what used to be cast out as “other” and is now a celebration of “us”.

 

Four of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Copious amounts of sex or pleasure

– When too much of a good thing numbs you out; obsessed with the material and ignoring the emotional

The Four of  Cups reaches for the cup that’s spilling over for another drop while still experiencing the ecstasy of the last sip. For the figure in this card there is so much more left to be enjoyed and she is soaking it up. Her tattoo reads, Delicious as Hell.  

Like anything, it can’t last forever but while it’s here try and revel in it. Why not? Unlike the vampires of this suit, we don’t get to live forever. At times the existential pressure of this life and its fleeting nature can be such a bummer. This card can be a reminder that for every valley there is another hill to climb.

 

Five of Cups

Pronouns: He, him

+ Loss of life; mourning a passing; empathy for those who are suffering

– While time can heal the body doesn’t forget; living with past trauma; transgenerational trauma 

The five of cups features a brooding Byronic hero as vampire. The five cards mourns a loss or reversal of fortune and the Five of Cups marks that emotional toll. 

Vampires live forever and because they do not appear to age they carry the marks of loss somewhere deeper. As humans we carry a similar burden that is only now emerging in the social conscious—the legacy of transgenerational trauma. The study of this topic is still quite new but art (the release valve of fear and trauma across time) has been made about this throughout history. The path we are on was carved by those who tread before us and it isn’t a stretch to think this same path leaves an impression on the traveler. 

 

Six of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Thinking of the past through rose colored glasses; holding on to nostalgia; satisfied

– A warning to not rest on your laurels

This young vampire is pulled directly from True Blood where newly turned “baby vamps” are all energy with a sever lack of foresight. 

She has accomplished her mission of feeding for the evening and in fact, she’s collected more than her share. She sits back and is “having a think” while looking off into space with rose colored glasses. 

This card is about nostalgia—a word that conjures equal parts sadness and fondness for the past. While it seems harmless, holding on to things can have an affect on our present actions. In a reading this might be perception check: “Was it really that great?,” “Is this having an impact on the present?”

 

Seven of Cups

Pronouns: None

+ Options; many paths ahead

– Inability to commit to a choice; hesitation

The Vampire Oracle of the Seven of Cups floats before you with options. You can take a sip from any one cup before you, the choice is yours and yours alone. Once you head down that path however, you can’t go backward. The indecision can make you sweat but the Seven of Cups is patient. The truth is, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Instead of sweating about the choice, take your time, make a pro and con list, ask for help, and realize that no matter what, you are going to learn something.

Which path will you take?

 

Eight of Cups

Pronouns: She, her or They, them

+ When you’ve achieved that goal you have been working towards, what comes next? 

– Love on; even love ends

As we work our way up the suit of cups the explosive energy of the hunt and lust begins to taper. The Eight of Cups get downright reflective. Once the all the item on the list have been crossed out, what is next?

This is the moving on card. After the choice of the Seven of Cups is made, the next steep is to hit the road. 

Take note of the other cards around this one when it’s chosen. It seems like a solitary card but not so when in between two very different cards. Maybe it’s time to reflect before taking the next step or your are stuck in the middle of something and this is the reminder you needed to piece out. 

 

Nine of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ A skewed perspective

– Abundant; “I have everything I need”; mature enough to understand your strengths and content

This card meaning is flipped from the traditional orientation of the card in other decks. I changed it up to address head on how hard it is to get over ourselves. When the card is reversed, the cups are emptied out and we are left with ourselves and no other distractions. Without judgment, can you be left alone with yourself? 

Upright we are distracted by what we think we should be in order to attract sex, money, and power—whatever it is we’re supposed to be craving. It could be argued our culture trains us to think of our own bodies and thoughts as a distraction. 

Whether full-blown Body Dysmorphic Disorder or something less severe, talking to someone (including a mental health professional) helps to relieve the anguish caused and normalizes conversations about these topics.

 

Ten of Cups

Pronouns: She, her

+ Taking your comfort; indulging in a guilty &n

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner

The Suit of Wands | CULT Tarot Card Meanings

The Suit of Wands Card Meanings

 Wands celebrate the devil in us all and the fire that keeps us alive.

 

ace coins cult tarot killerpancake ki11erpancake

Ace of Wands

Element: Fire, devils

+ A birth

– False start; disappointment

The devils of this suit are defined by impatient and vengeful traits but also a strong drive and desire to succeed. They are not entirely bad or good, instead it’s the methods that determine the level of madness. The wands themselves are impromptu weapons. Whether to bludgeon or pierce an enemy, they offered an up close and personal interaction. 

The Ace tells the story of a beginning—much like the Fool but with a far more slanted and intense energy. This beginning focus on our purpose: a vocation or a spiritual endeavor. While the Swords tell much sadder stories, Cups are emotionally complex and sexy, and the Coins are down to earth and practical, the Wands are all gas with no breaks. 

Depending on what other cards are placed around this Ace determines whether this beginning is legit and exciting or if the reader is just drunk on the feeling of newness. The deals these devils make are complicated and human ones—so always with a cost. The intention however is not to suffer. Instead, how much discomfort can we handle in order to achieve our goal. We can’t become better people without challenging ourselves.

 

For some people, this comes more naturally. Fort he devils of the Wands it’s an uphill battle against fear, anger, resentment, and discontent. Once those feelings are put in check, the real work can truly begin. It’s worth it to work on it.

 

Two of Wands

+ Looking out towards the future with a bit of hope (even if it looks kind of shitty)

– On the (barbed) fence about it; indecision

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre features a group of men and women who are prayed upon by a family of mass murdering cannibals who brutally torture the unfortunate group until only one character, (a final girl) survives. This film triggers the flight response so intensely, to this day I have a hard time watching the meat hook scene while sitting down. 

The Two of Wands references that burnt Texas landscape that holds either promise of escape or the path back to despair. 

Maybe the choice being presented in your reading is not one of “run or the cannibal is going to get you” but an analogy can be made. Escape is dangerous and extremely difficult but if a change isn’t made the other option becomes a fatal dead end.  

 

Three of Wands

Pronouns: He, him

+ Building experience through a shit ton of suffering (emo style!)

– Feeling deeply in order to understand, learn, and move forward

Regardless of the suit, threes tend to be cards about balance in relationships (work, love, or family—take your pick). 

This devil is experiencing an emotional awakening but hasn’t fully accepted what this means or come to terms with how his personal journey will affect his relationships with others. 

Understanding our own emotions is a process. We get overwhelmed and it feels like it will never pass. Learning that no feeling lasts forever and coping appropriately can help to ride the extremes out. Next, there is learning how to relate to our friends, family members, and others going through their own emotional ordeals without trying to fix things, explain it away, or downplay the situation—but be present if possible so that they can weather the storm. It sounds so simple but it’s hardly easy. Take it in stride and know each day is another filled with opportunity to practice.

 

Four of Wands

Pronouns: She, her

+ Staked into place! 

– Kicked a chair leg out from underneath

The Four of Wands is scarred across her chest where the wooden wands have been staked through, nailing her to the ground. This is symbolic of putting down roots or starting a family. For some it’s the ultimate goal and a time to grow in a different direction. For others it a burden that is placed on people simply because they were born into the expectation. 

Family is not always the one we are born with. For many it’s the people we find along the way in life who scoop us up into their life raft (or vice versa). Those of the relationships we celebrate.

This “devil” has no horns because she isn’t really. It’s her resistance to the expectations to domestic life that have branded her as a devil. The joke is on them however because this label and the sentence cast upon her has awoken something inside this woman. Her eyes are red beneath those lashes.

 

Five of Wands

Pronouns: She, her or They, them

+ A bulldozer attitude

– Conflict; brewing intense animosity

In 2020 it’s incredibly hard to talk about the pitfalls of self-justified anger without sounding like a pious asshole. Let’s be clear: this isn’t about the real and necessary anger that fuels the important fight for equality. Instead, the anger of the Five of Wands is a biting and bickering kind of self-justified anger that serves no one—especially this devil. 

Anger is as additive as drugs or booze. The intensity of it, the extreme emotional hangover after a vicious spat—it’s dizzying and exhausting. This is the card about tantrums and the impossible battle for the last word. It’s a pride fueled bloodbath that hurts everyone including the party that’s being defended. 

Should this appear in a reading, what kind of bad blood is brewing?

 

Six of Wands

Pronouns: She, her

+ Celebrating being past the mid-way point

– Read the room... You are on fire and not in the good way!

The most amazing aspect about this figure’s posture is the “fuck you, go ahead and burn me” energy from it. There are times when that is just the mood of the day. 

The Six of Wands is a “mission accomplished” of sorts but what looks like a victory is really just a parade. The halfway mark has been met so maybe not count all the chickens before they hatch.

The RdD upon the stake stands for reine des démons or “queen of demons”—a reference to Lilith. One of the most fascinating character in western culture, she is a symbol of defiance and a nice compliment to her more passive counterpart. 

 

Seven of Wands

Pronouns: She, her

+ Keeping up the good fight; joining them to beat them

– Lack of understanding

Growing up in the Bible Belt I didn’t fully understand the impact of that environment on my character and beliefs until much later. While, my household was not religious, the region is run by Jesus and a Protestant work ethic. What is it about work exactly that determines our value as a person? It is the most difficult thing for this driven artist who loves to work but also hates to be worn down to overcome. 

We are not “viable products” or bodies to be sacrificed for the cause. This especially effects Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, combating a legacy where they are treated as expendable labor and less than. 

This card is for the people keeping up the resistance.

 

Eight of Wands

Pronouns: He, him or They, them

+ The only way forward is through; another kind of creative activity 

– Block; paranoia; delay

Letting go and allowing things to work themselves out is torture for the anxious controlling type. Having a hand in everything satiates the fear of the soul that is ever present.

This card will mean something different for everyone. For this illustrator, it takes me back to sleepless nights and anxious days trying to keep my head above water at university. Each day, every class, every interaction was terrifying. Nothing I did felt right and I was convinced that I was a fraud and shouldn’t be there. I stuck it out and got the diploma but the experience changed me and not all for the better. I decided to hide for a long time after that, figuring it was the best way to survive. Unfortunately it’s inauthentic. I’m tired of hiding now.

 

Nine of Wands

Pronouns: He, him

+ Room to grow into self

– Suppressed rage; denial of oneself

The man in the Nine of Wands is simultaneously embracing and protecting himself. It takes patience and bravery to unlearn the shit imposed on us by a culture that needs things clearly defined. The Nine of Wands doesn’t have the answers. Like the Hermit, it’s a call to protect yourself, take your time, and attempt the fight again tomorrow after a reprieve. Unlike the Hermit however, there is a warning: denial can result in anger and a rage that lurks beneath the surface.  

 

Ten of Wands

Pronouns: She, her

+ Overburdened; fearful; regret

– Plagued by the past; shame

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is about delusion, abuse, and regret. The title character was once at the top of her game and the downfall—although through no fault of her own—was swift and devastating. Locked away with her successful sister whose own brilliant career was tragically cut short, the two now elderly sisters live in intense hatred of one another. Jane takes out her resentments on Blanche by torturing her with physical beatings and withholding food. Their story ends with truths being revealed and an unclear resolution to a chaotic and tragic tale.

The Nine of Wands is about holding on to more than one can carry. The cycle of abuse creates an inner burden that creates chaos and pain until wounds are addressed and healed.

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner

The Suit of Swords | CULT Tarot Card Meanings

The Suit of Swords Card Meanings

 Ghosts and the undead rule in the most depressing of the suits.

 

Ghosts and the undead rule in the most depressing of the suits.

Ace of Swords

Element: Air; Ghosts, possession, and the undead

+ A death; something wicked on the horizon

– Negotiating a relationship

Ghosts are a symbol of lasting trauma or the  troubles we struggle to carry. Tales of poltergeist or possession explore themes of oppression and rage. The Swords address these burdens and also explores different reactions to grief, struggle, and loss.

The sky  holds a message: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

The Ace of Swords is the most direct within the deck. Live by the sword and you are likely to get your eye poked out—or worse. The air element associated with this suit dovetails with this theme, adding a layer of anxiety and fear to each card going forward. The graveyard in this card is a promise. We all die, it’s just how we get there that differs.

 

Two of Swords

Pronouns: None

+ Tepid truce

– A grudge

The Ghost of the Two of Swords is divided between the urge to fight or flee. The Two cards are always about options and in this case none of them are particularly fantastic which leaves the ghost in a state of suspension between two blades. Where the vampires of the Two of Cups were all about rapport, the Ghost is navigating tension and strain. One eye is focused on an answer while the other is blind, leaving the Ghost with no depth perception. This card is usually bad news so if it shows up, let the other cards around it determine how negative the mindset is. It could be a wake up call that while you might not think it, you are way more pissed than you are letting on.

 

Three of Swords

+ Literal heartbreak

– Pressure from the crowd

This is an iconic card and is always a blast to draw. This anatomical heart is not only being ripped apart by the swords but squeezed by swollen, yellow, rotted hands. The muscly heart has bit of sinew being pulled apart. It’s an omen of some gnarly shit. The upside: at least this card is balancing on that center sword! A fight has broken out and regardless of the outcome it will be intense on both sides. In a reading this card could reference an imbalance of power in a relationship—romantic or otherwise. 

 

Four of Swords

Pronouns: None

+ Tired of hurting

– Depression as a ghost 

While fours are stable cards symbolically, in the case of the Four of Swords it means the trains are still running on time but the mood is a heavy one. Removing genitalia and any gendered features shifts centers the focus of the card on the pose—one of anguish, isolation, and discomfort. Nothing lasts forever and neither will this current state. What does the next card in the story have to say? Hopefully this is just a dump in the road. Without the bad, we can never have the good to compare it to. Things will eventually change.

 

Five of Swords

Pronouns: She, her (Regan) He, him (Pazuzu)

+ Clash of wills; someone who enjoys other people’s misery

– Cold and bitter standoff; meaningless sacrifice 

This illustrator could not in good conscious make a guide with horror references and not feature her favorite possession film. Pazuzu here has made a home in young Regan in the film The Exorcist (1973). Possession stories stem from the horror of corrupted youth or innocence; the loss . When this film was created in the 1970s, America was going through it at the time both abroad in Vietnam and at home. This anxiety played out in horror at the time 

It doesn’t get more conflict heavy than the five of swords. It makes sense that a battle for the soul should illustrate such a card. This card is the road rage fueled car crash of the tarot. It is selfish, unkind, and generally super duper bad news. When rage becomes contagious, like a demon that we can be possessed by, it creates something more dangerous than just one bad attitude—a horde.

 

Six of Swords

Pronouns: He, him

+ Attempting a geographic cure or transition in order to distance oneself from the problem; turning away from the fight; leaving a frustrating situation

– Division; fracturing; PTSD

Our knight looks over his shoulder at his pursuer. Even though he is in rough shape, his spirit continues forward in an attempt to flee. His dark red hair flows into the profuse amount of blood and organs falling out of his body­. His own sword has been lost but the six swords responsible for his wounds are still wreaking havoc on his eviscerated body. This ghost has been through it and is attempting to flee. He confidence and strength are gone—now it’s about protecting what is left. This card signals a turn for the worse and a desire to distance oneself from the situation. When we can’t trust someone or be authentically ourselves it’s time to get out.

 

Seven of Swords

+ Transition from bad to worse; immediate danger; fleeing

– A new and unimaginable hell awaits!

While touched upon in other parts of this deck, The Seven of Swords is the card that directly addresses body image issues. The appendages of several different bodies have been removed and pinned together with swords to create a sliced up flesh beast with no head. The hands are grasping while the feet begin to dissolve into the spreading puddle of blood and viscera. Unwanted and negative thoughts about our bodies are imposed on us by outside forces. Impossible standards are called that for a reason but there is some kind of sick idea that maybe somehow we are different and can achieve the very impossible dream. These awful thoughts are tricksters and thieves that run away with our dignity and sanity.

 

Eight of Swords

Pronouns: They, them, we, us

+ Wrapped up in something dark and confusing

– Unable to see an escape

The forms were once independent bodies but have been pressed together into a new combined being. Without the energy or ability to attempt a decoupling they have become an unhappy “we”. They are forever and regrettably dependent on each other, in a fleshy trap.  

The face that we can see is not focused on any particular object. Where as the Devil card is about being in a rut and making a choice to walk a different path, the Eight of Swords looks out on nothing. They have lost the willingness to focus on a new goal or next step.  

 

Nine of Swords

Pronouns: She, her

+ Anxiety and grief

– Fear hanging over (or through) your head

Grief, fear, and anxiety rule this Nine of Swords. Instead of letting these Swords hang over her head, they go straight through, removing her ability to think and act. From the outside though, she’s keeping it cute and carrying on. 

This is the burden of anxiety. It flourishes on the inside, feeding on the tiniest morsel of odd thought. When the pot boils over, it can’t be stopped. 

Anxiety, grief, and depression have very unpleasant symptoms that tend to worsen the relationships needed for a healthy social life. It’s a wicked and vicious cycle that can require a combination of medication and therapy to work through. Don’t use this deck or any deck to solve a mental health issue. This illustrator is not a doctor. Seek out the experts and get the help you deserve.  

 

Ten of Swords

Pronouns: Unknown

+ Death

– Morning a loss; the underworld; far gone

The Ten of Swords signals a death or a persistent grief. Many cards cover this aspect of life but it felt important to acknowledge the loss of love for our own bodies. 

In a world where we are trained to fear a scale and are forced to believe that only one body shape is the standard for us all we learn to hate the skin we are in and lack appreciation for the functional and beautiful being we are.  Whether it is fatphobia or fat shaming, it all becomes blatant character assassination wrapped in psychological abuse. 

I wonder if we can be too far gone to recover a sense of self love. Can our brains get too twisted or is there such thing as relief from the toxic standard?

 

Page of Swords 

Pronouns: She, her

+ Crippling, anxious fear; fear of being new or change

– Working yourself up; over-hyped

Starting something can be terrifying. In the suit of Wands a symbolic fire is lit under our asses and we burn with excitement and enthusiasm. The more pensive air sign of Swords is a changing wind invoking storm clouds. Fear has pulled this Page apart—similar to the face peeling scene in Poltergeist or Evil Dead. Her anxiety about this life change is playing out literally on her face. The truth is, we are all terrified of change. Everyone around you is far more worried about their own bullshit to be concerned with yours. The worst part of a new thing can be taking the first step. You might fail but you will learn. The caveat is when this life change could put you at greater risk. As this is being written, violence against transgender and non-gender conforming people is on the rise. This is a real fear faced by many in the community. It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect and advocate for our siblings and their safety, attempting to alleviate their burden. 

 
August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner

The Suit of Coins | CULT Tarot Card Meanings

The Suit of Coins Card Meanings

 The suit of witches and earth.

ace coins cult tarot killerpancake ki11erpancake

Ace of Coins

Element: Earth; witches

+ Riches and happiness, good fortune

– Wealth that corrupts

Growing up the term “witch” was applied to a female presenting villain. Personally, I gravitated to how powerful a witch seemed and wasn’t too hung up about their moral standing. Besides, if those kids hadn’t been gnawing on her house then maybe they wouldn’t have wound up in the oven?! The lessons of fairy tales came down to, “be an asshole, get treated like and asshole.” 

In adulthood, it became clear that the label of “witch” along with “devil worshiper” was applied to certain people as a method of social isolation. It has always been clear to me, whether I had the words to explain it or not, that this practice of casting people out is a fear-based decision and symptom an inability to control other people—an exercise of scared tyrants. 

Those are the thoughts I took into this suit and my reason behind its witches. It is the least horrific suit in this horror deck. These witches are people who get by on their intuition, connection to the earth, and knowledge of the bounty Nature provides.

My witches are practical and grounded folk who trust their craft and uses the world around them to do right by others (who aren’t assholes). There is not much discussion about ritual or tradition found here. Instead, I strove to create portraits of powerful people who would be classified as “evil” based on presentation or the knowledge they possess. 

In the Rider Waite deck, the suit of pentacles makes the connection between Earth and gardens with money or financial success. I continue this association as an ode to Pamela Coleman-Smith’s illustrations but I parted ways with Arthur Waite on the somewhat singular focus on material wealth, job prospects, and business success within my version of this suit. Just as the journey for each witch varies in their practice, so does our path to success. Our destinations cannot be compared.

What really matters in this life is, do you have enough? Enough support, love, and room to grow into the person you are capable of being. The person with these things is the true millionaire. 

Ace cards are the pinnacle of the suit. They are the potent example of everything that is to come.  If this card winds up in a reading, depending on what else is around it could be a beginning of a new path or opportunity. Maybe it’s a warning to look at the forest for the trees.

 

Two of Coins

Pronouns: They, them

+ Balancing good news and managing success; the “self-care” card; what it means to “live your best and most authentic life”; A return on an investment

– Upsetting the apple cart; denial; financial imbalance (too spendy or too thrifty)

This was one of the first cards I created for this deck. When beginning this project I couldn’t decide which card to draw so I grabbed a tarot deck from my own collection and it was the first card I pulled. 

Being faced with a card about balance before starting a large project like this one felt prescient. 

Growing up I liked “boy” things and “girl” thing but learned to hide whatever seemed shameful. I couldn’t be too girly because that’s weak. I couldn’t be too “boyish” because it was too butch. The girls turned their nose up to video games and the boys didn’t believe that I was any good at them. Even into adulthood people question who I am and what column to place me in. When I had a shaved head and road my bike everywhere, I was a “hot dyke”. When I got my nails done and ordered a pumpkin spice latte, I transformed into a “basic bitch”.

“Oh, this is the closest I’ve been to a straight girl!” A woman says to me while helping me adjust a bike helmet. “How you do know I’m straight?” I respond.

Looking back I wish I would have just taken the shop class I wanted to take or openly enjoyed a boy band—but the pressure was real and I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I treated youth as a test. Once I passed through I could leave and never have to deal with it. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Running from the past is futile because it is what shapes you without permission.

This card is a self-embrace and a promise. At the end of the day, you’re the one who suffers when you don’t accept who you really are. Just don’t be an asshole about it and you’ll be fine. 

The Saturn on their choker is a symbol of death. Death is a transformation, allowing something new to begin.

 

Three of Coins

+ Cooperation; a reminder to think inclusively and work the empathy muscle (and maybe not assume things of others); a mindset reset; teamwork makes the dream work; social relationships

– Discord or infighting; cliquishness; choking

This white hydrangea is flowering at the top but wilting underneath. When a plant dies, it’s because it’s basic needs are not being met. Lack of water, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil deprive the plant and it withers away. People are a like plants. We want to think we can go it alone but in truth, we need one another to survive. People we will never meet help us get through each day, something that has become more apparent during the time of COVID-19.   

These delicate flowers survive through cooperation. Together we can be beautiful but apart we die. A bit of empathy and sharing of resources can go a long way. When we hoard it doesn’t really work...

 

Four of Coins

Pronouns: He, him

+ Grounded; material stability

– Broadcasting wealth; assuming your influence is greater than it actually is; a reminder to fix the table before it topples over. 

Four is a number about stability—whether emotional or material. This witch is also a member of the Furry community and is confidently broadcasting their POV to the world (check out that selfie stick!). This card is an ode to people who share their stories so we can see the world from a different perspective. There is an entire genre within YouTube devoted to people breaking down their profession, lifestyle, culture, religion, or other life journey in hopes to better educate the rest of us. It’s a gift of modern technology but requires a bit of financial resources to do so.

Things are good for this guy. He’s confident and camera ready. Maybe that’s not you at the moment but it could be. Is this a call to map out a plan for your next steps. Start the project you’ve wanted to dig into.

 

Five of Coins

Pronouns: She, her

+ Money trouble; an injustice

– Find the window when the door slams shut

The five of coins has traditionally been about financial ruin. However, for practical witches, when the chips are down they get crafty. The witch here is huddled in her cloak, nose bloody from the last fight. Do not count her out though! The fight is only over when she says it is over. You can trust she is plotting the next step with her raven buddies at her side.

If this is the end of the line for a project, relationship, or other life event, that does not mean everything is over. No matter what, there the next day will come and you can take the next step. Sometimes focusing on the tiniest to do list (wake up, brush teeth) is the way to go until the next option materializes. Just don’t give up! 

It is this mindset that has kept me going during 2020. Some days, all I can manage is to check my email before going back to bed—but I still did something! The slump doesn’t last.

 

Six of Coins

Pronouns: She, her

+ “I can do anything while simultaneously crying”; slow perseverance 

– Not seeing your strengths or having hidden assets; a rebuilding

On more than one occasion, I have been humiliated or confronted with a failure that tore my confidence to shreds. After licking my wounds, I get back up and keep plugging away. This is quite literally the story of my entire art career. In art school I attended a silent critique after a bike accident and got the note that “Due to my recent head trauma, it was understandable that this painting was unsuccessful.” I have been rejected and made countless stupid mistakes (a poorly designed postcard that was sent back to the people trying to contact their local representatives for example). I take the note and work harder. (I grabbed the postcards, putting them in an envelope and addressed it correctly.) 

This figure is cut in half with a brain throbbing with anxiety but strikes a pose of resilience.  Things will not always go as planned. Take a breath and work it out—even when your heart is in a vice.

 

Seven of Coins

Pronouns: She, her

+ Casting a spell; make a play; testing your assumptions; building up to something magical and amazing

– Giving up before getting to the miracle; half-assing it

Sevens are always cards about transformation and change. This one in particular is about the joy of taking a chance. 

In the fantasy series, The Magicians, Julia Wicker is a “hedge witch”, meaning she has no formal training in magic but through her own persistence becomes  extremely proficient. Her storyline (and well, that whole series), is quite dark—it’s also not representative of working as a solo witch—but it was my first exposure to the self-study concept. 

This card serves as an ode to lone magic practitioner or tarot card reader. Instead of focusing on the hard parts though, this card illustrates a chance taken and ultimately rewarded. This spell caster is surrounded by abundance.

 

Eight of Coins

Pronouns: She, her or They, them

+ The apprentice; the diligent student; get to work, learn as you go

– Comparing your first draft to other people’s final draft; being in love with the reward and not the journey to get there

While I might be one of the few people who didn’t care for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina credit must be given to the incredible art direction and over all witchy aesthetic of that show. The witch here references our love of watching witches learn. Whether that is Sabrina, Hermione, or even little Akko Kagari—we love to go to class with a witch. (This is likely due to the excellent world building potential in and academic story.

Regardless of where you are at however, this card reminds us to remain teachable and that effort is rewarded.

 

Nine of Coins

Pronouns: They, them

+ Diligent; Appreciation for hard work; known for trying

– Learning through failure; if you don’t succeed, come back from the grave and try again gal!

Michael Myers is not a witch per se but holds some kind of magic. He is a doer. That character has risen from the dead countless times to fulfill his destiny as a bringer of doom. Regardless of how you feel about

August 30, 2022 — Genevieve Barbee-Turner