by Cathy McClelland
If you are not familiar with The Star Tarot, I would like to introduce it to you. The Star Tarot’s creation started in 1991. I decided to paint my own Tarot Majors, beginning with The Fool. These images would be part of “The Star Tarot Deck,” a name inspired by my love and fascination for the stars. Each image became a labor of love, taking up to three months to complete. In 1996, I finished the fifth image of The Emperor and took a long break. In the summer of 2005, I decided to paint the rest of the Majors, completing the seventeen Keys in 2006. I self-published the Majors-only deck and booklet, and in 2008 my journey led me to Mary Greer, who introduced me to a bigger world of Tarot enthusiasts. Through the internet and the San Francisco Tarot Symposium, I found there was an interest and appreciation for The Star Major Arcana Tarot Deck, which inspired me to move forward with the Minors, which I finished in 2015.
My intention for The Star Tarot was to make it less patriarchal, less judgemental, and more spiritual, embracing the feminine energy and nature while bringing in cross-cultural symbolism. The imagery on the cards was based on the Rider-Waite deck and the Aleister Crowley Thoth deck. I also studied many different tarot and esoteric books. With each Key I created, I brought in the information that I had studied on the card and then meditated on it. I took time to explore the feelings and messages of each of the cards, then came up with symbolism that seemed right for what I wanted to convey. Some of the images on the cards may seem simple and almost storybook, which was intentional as a lot of one’s soul searching goes back to when we were children and even further back to past lives. It allows the door to crack open to the past. This can be a gentle way to re-discover a missing part of yourself. An example is the rainbows in some of the cards, which represent the bridge between the divine and the physical self, reminding us that we are always connected to the source. The journey of The Star Tarot is a spiritual quest of finding your true self, your dharma, and your life’s purpose.
I am very grateful that The Star Tarot has made it to a second edition! The new card design shows the art and symbolism beautifully. The cards have gilded edges and the finish is soft and smooth.
The handbook looks wonderful with the images of the cards printed in color. I have added a few more things that I hope you will find interesting. One is the chapter on finding your Lifetime Birth Personality and Soul Card in the tarot, as well as finding your Yearly Growth Symbol. It’s a fun and wonderful system that brings even more depth to card readings. This system was first created by Angeles Arrien in 1987 in her book “The Tarot Handbook,” which introduced a system of working with numerology and matching a number to one of the major arcana. Mary Greer took the system further with several books. Her latest book on the subject is “Who are you in the Tarot.” The formulas I have presented in The Star Tarot handbook are based on both these authors’ books. My interpretations came from a combination of theirs as well as my own.
The second addition to the book is a chapter on card spreads. There are a lot of card spreads out on the internet and in books. So I kept it to just three simple spreads:
When doing a reading for yourself or others, I recommend blessing the cards and space before the reading. Sage, essential oils, and asking for golden white light to surround the space to bring clarity and truth are very helpful. You want to create a sacred safe space. Ask for guidance from your angels and guides to help you relay information for the highest good of the querent. I always want the querent to understand that whatever shows up in a reading, they have free will to change their life. Readings give signposts to be aware of. We can use these signposts to guide us through the twists and turns of life.
With the current times of uncertainly and constant change, I feel that a new paradigm is unfolding, waking many of us up to revisit our path on this earth plane. I included the Destiny Spread below to help us identify where we are on our personal karmic path. I would be very interested to hear how it works for you!
When we decided to join this earth plane, we came in with gifts, challenges, and lessons to learn. We choose our parents, relationships, culture, location, and time frame to help move through karma that needs to be healed and cleared. We knew what our true work or dharma was and knew that it would lead us on our personal path to our destiny of spiritual achievement on the physical plane. When we entered our new life on Mother Earth, this information rested in the subconsciousness. As a baby, you were still in the veils of the subconsciousness and the new awareness of the physical consciousness. As we grew and integrated into our family’s life and life’s experiences, the knowledge that we brought into this world faded into the deep subconsciousness. Choices and splits in the road can take you off your original journey, adding more and more complications, distractions, and fogginess to your perspective of future choices on your path towards your destiny.
That is why I created the Destiny Spread. It will assist you in discovering the current path you are on. Are you following your dharma? When you follow your dharma, it brings excitement and an awareness of your destiny. Each of us has a special gift that no other on this earth plane has. This is called your true work, your dharma. The Destiny Spread is designed to identify where you are presently on your path in life. It gives you a baseline to work from. This spread can be used weekly to track your progress.
Card 1: Represents the querent. Your inner star/your heart at the present moment.
Card 2: What action is your higher self or inner guidance advising?
Card 3: What Karmic issues are you here in this lifetime to heal?
Card 4: Are you following your dharma? Your dharma is your true work that is unique only to you. Your God given talents that that you came to this world to share. Ask yourself, “What is true to my heart?”
Card 5: What influences in the material world may be holding you back from finding your true purpose? Also in this position pull another card for the influences that are supporting you.
Card 6: What is your present path?
Card 7: What does the future hold on your current path?
Feel free to use clarification cards for the different card positions.
The Fall Equinox is September 22 and on that day the Sun moves into Libra. The Fall Equinox is one of the major four Celtic sacred days: A day to celebrate the harvest of summer and a wonderful day to honor and reminisce about the past summer season through meditation or ritual. It is a special time when the light and the dark are equal, presenting a moment when the veils become thin between the worlds of the physical and spirit and the conscious self and the subconscious self. This is the eve of longer nights and shorter days. It is time when the colors are changing into the fall palette of yellows, golds, oranges, reds, and browns. A time when things around us begin to quiet. A Cycle ending and a new one beginning.
The Fall Equinox brings the perfect time to reset energies in your life by honoring endings and embracing new beginnings. It is a beautiful time to remember and honor those who have blessed your life. It is a wonderful time to let go and bless things that are not working in your life. Let go and bless with acceptance, appreciation, and gratitude. This is a time to honor what is truly from your heart and open a space for its manifestation. Clear your slate of unwanted or outgrown energies. Shift the energies to support the light within you. Let the old crumble away like the Fall leaves that nourish the ground for next Spring’s bloom.
A special day like the Fall Equinox brings a magical energy of transformation. On this day, I love to visit or create a sacred place and leave an offering, blessing, or prayer, or all three. A place where you can plant your seeds of intention, let the old be released, and bless the energy as it falls away. Then light a candle for joy, healing, inner strength, and abundance (whatever is important to you) for the future. Be grateful.
Altars are sacred places that have been used for thousands of years. They can be found in ancient springs to modern-day religious establishments. Altars can assist one’s body, mind, and heart to focus on quietude, serenity with connection to spirit, and the divine. They can be created in your home, outside, in your vehicle, or anywhere that may resonate with your heart.
Altars should represent a place of peace and tranquility. An altar can be a sacred place for intentions, prayer, mediation, yoga, healing, abundance, protection, inspiration, healing, remembrance of a special person or animal, mother earth, special days, the strength to let go of someone or something and blessing it, as well as whatever else calls or speaks to you. It can be a collective altar where more than one person takes part in its creation, too.
Altars can be created from things you love and that inspire you: found objects, candles, pictures, flowers, plants, crystals, mantras, poems, words of wisdom, art, oracle or tarot cards — anything that is sacred and special to you. There are so many ways to create an altar in our lives. Themes, objects, and places are limitless when it comes to building your own special space.
I hike in the woods every day with my dogs. About 5 years ago I found a walking labyrinth made out of fallen branches. At that time there was not much in the center. But as time went on, I and others started adding found objects, pine cones, feathers, sticks to the center and it began to grow into an altar. One day I noticed a plastic bag with a piece of paper in it. As I peered closer, I could see that someone had left a remembrance of a young teen who had passed too soon for his time. The next day I brought a heart rock. A year later my childhood friend passed away from cancer. I too brought a remembrance of her to the center of the labyrinth. Since then the center has changed and transformed. I see it now as a place for blessings, prayers, and remembrance — not only for those who are not with us, but also for the forest, its creatures, and to Mother Earth. Every time I walk by it, I make sure that the labyrinth’s path is aligned and that the center is blessed. Because you know there are the occasional bear and other forest critters whose curious self brings them to the center to investigate what it holds.
Cathy McClelland has drawn and painted most of her life. Art has always been her escape from day to day life, taking her into the realms of her imagination. A favorite quote of hers is by Gustave Flaubert, “The greatest achievement in art is not to bring laughter or tears, nor to be stirred with lust or fury, but to do as nature herself does and set men’s minds into dreaming.” She studied illustration at the Academy of Art College, in San Francisco. In 1979 she moved to the north shore of Lake Tahoe for the summer and never left. Lake Tahoe’s beautiful environment is a constant inspiration for Cathy, bringing her close to the heart of nature. The mountains, water, forest, moon, animals, and stars feed her creative spirit. At Lake Tahoe, she has freelanced as an illustrator, art director, designer, muralist, and painter. Her art interests have gone in many different directions from handmade paper creations, printmaking, watercolor/dye illustrations, paintings, hand-painted tapestries, and murals. While painting murals she developed her own technique combining acrylic paint, using both airbrush and hand to enhance and detail her work, giving her creations a feeling of depth and a soft magical beauty.
Her work encompasses many themes that are sacred and magical, as well as animals, scenes of Lake Tahoe, lush jungles, cross-cultural symbols and places in between. Whether it be a mural or painting, her artwork reflects her love of nature and mythical subjects.
“Our world is full of miracles and magic. We just need to recognize the beauty and truth of this, and bring it into our lives and into our hearts. I hope that my artwork can be a contribution to others in that direction.”