TAROT and LITERATURE

September 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

Autumn Equinox was yesterday as the seasonal wheel turns towards winter — the perfect time to read books!

To learn more about tarot, study the classics. Seek tarot archetypes hidden in the pages. Could an aspect of THE MAGICIAN lurk in Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Gray? Or is it THE DEVIL?

THE TOWER seems like the card for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But if you read it, you will see how it’s a classic of Romanticism more suited to THE LOVERS than THE TOWER.

THE HANGED MAN is one tarot card that most people have trouble understanding. The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe explains the many levels of THE HANGED MAN.

To understand the subtle nuances of the minor arcana Water suit of CUPS, read The Diaries Of Anais Nin.

Not one for novels or diaries? Then enjoy short stories! Spend some time with collections of short stories, such as Best Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant. Each of de Maupassant’s stories can relate to a tarot card. Try to match each story with a card.

The modern Italian author Italo Calvino did just that in The Castle of Crossed Destinies. He illustrated the book with two Medieval European tarot decks that create short stories.

To understand the QUEEN OF SWORDS, read Pushkin’s Queen of Spades, perhaps the best short story in world literature, in Alexander Pushkin, Complete Prose Fiction. (Stanford U Press translation.)

It’s obvious which tarot archetype lives in Tolstoy’s short story The Three Hermits.

Stick with the classics. Find the hidden archetypes as your read. You learn about life, and learn how to better read your tarot cards.

Good luck!

 

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How to Write a Book Author Interview

November 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

book-write-a-book-smMy friend Andreas Ramos wrote a book entitled HOW TO WRITE A BOOK. He interviewed a handful of authors, each of us with the same questions. Here’s my interview:

The Author Speaks: Susan Levitt

Susan Levitt is the author of five books published in eight languages including the best sellers Taoist Astrology (Destiny Books, 1997) and The Complete Tarot Kit (U.S. Games Systems Inc., 2012). Susan is a professional astrologer, tarot reader, and feng shui consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s been featured on CNN, was voted Best Astrologer by SF Weekly in San Francisco, and was interviewed on the television program Chicagoing. She holds a B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Why Do You Write?

I write because I have ideas and I have a lot to say! I have a strong point of view. I write about what interests me. Writing has always been my path. I could read when I was three. My older sister learned to read at five, I watched over her shoulder and picked it up immediately. My childhood existed in Victorian England and feudal Russia. I loved Lewis Carroll, Dickens, and Tolstoy. I became very interested in languages, applied myself at school, and skipped three grades. I supported myself as an English tutor and writer of college papers during two undergrad degrees and grad school. I kept learning how to write better by reading great authors.

How Has Writing Affected Your Life and Career?

I started studying astrology when I was eleven. When I was 17, I had my first tarot card reading. I developed an interest in metaphysics and started writing about it. Writing has affected my career by giving me professional credibility. “She wrote 5 books!” seems to put people at ease about my credentials.

Do You Prefer Self Publishing or Traditional?

Traditional. Let them do the distribution! But self publishing can work too, especially for books on a specialized topic. Just be aware about self-publishing operations are actually vanity presses. Yes, you have a book, but they’ll publish anything if you pay them.

How Did You Find and Choose Your Publisher?

I wrote reviews of spiritual books that I liked. A publisher of spiritual books, Inner Traditions, sent me their catalog because I was on their radar from reviewing a couple of their titles. I liked their list so I sent them some notes that I had about Chinese astrology. I’d been working on the notes thinking the material could be used in Chinese medicine schools in the west. And I had some Chinese astrology notes that I gave to clients who came to me for astrology readings. I sent my notes to Inner Traditions on Monday, and in the mail on Friday was a book contract. I added more text and they they published my first book Taoist Astrology, which was the first Four Pillars book in English. Taoist Astrology was so successful they asked me to write Taoist Feng Shui and Teen Feng Shui. Inner Traditions attends the yearly Foreign Rights book fest in Hamburg, Germany. They sold the foreign rights to all three of my books that are now published in eight languages.

Something similar happened when I was published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. I was teaching tarot classes and made copies of info to hand out to students. I was hassled at a Kinko’s about intellectual copyright when copying tarot cards. So I sent my class notes to the publishing house that owns almost all tarot imagery and tarot decks. I just wanted to find out how I could copy the cards, but they sent me a book contract. Together we designed The Complete Tarot Kit. It was an international best seller. My tarot book Introduction To Tarot that was part of the kit was published separately a year later.

Did You Start with Traditional or Self-Publishing?

I’m grateful my five books were with reputable publishers who are respected in their fields. But today I self publish my writings in social media and blogs.

What’s Your Experience with Self Publishing?

So far with self publishing, it’s all been good. For material that I publish online, I’m glad it’s still free to post. I like the convenience of going to my web site and changing text at any time. I also appreciate that I receive monthly payments from internet astrology sites where I provide articles, such as OnlineChineseAstrology.com and Astrology.com. I email my text and they post it.

What’s Your Experience with Traditional Publishing?

I really didn’t have bad experiences with traditional publishers. But I they were slow, and not early adopters of new technology. Some publishers still take orders by fax.

Do You Have an Agent?

I don’t need an agent, and the handful of agents that I’ve met didn’t seem insightful or well read. If publishers want to publish my books, they deal with me directly.

Did a Lawyer Review Your Contract?

I read my contract thoroughly and didn’t require legal counsel.

What’s the Best Way to Promote Your Book?

The publishing houses did that for me. But a very old-fashioned marketing tool, word of mouth, really worked. My books have a cult following.

What Would You Have Done Differently?

Nothing.

Interior Design and Feng Shui

June 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lucky Bamboo for Dragon Year

Lucky Bamboo for Dragon Year

My feng shui friend Janet was born in 1952, the year of the Water Dragon. This year 2012 is also a Water Dragon year, which occurs every 60 yeas. To commemorate the event, Janet purchased a bamboo plant in a Dragon container. She sent me an email from Austin with the above photo, asking if it’s auspicious to place this bamboo in her entrance. I told her it can be fortunate, and best if the Dragon faces the door.

Items not related by design.

The bamboo plant is healthy, but the container is not very attractive.  This ceramic Dragon looks like a goofy cartoon character, not the powerful and regal Chinese Dragon. And see how the entry is just not inviting?  That’s because the items in the entry don’t blend well together. The Dragon container is too decorative and heavy for the glass table, and the table should be outdoors. The silk flowers in the orange basket are not well arranged. It’s best to just remove the basket. The antique chair looks uncomfortable to sit in, and is missing a few pieces. Of course, Janet never uses the phone book propped up in the corner.

Janet understood how her disparate items are not unified in theme or design. She saw the new direction she could take, and started making changes. I also recommended that Janet add a window treatment to add warmth. A fabric curtain in a light gold or vanilla shade would work with the floor. The curtain should come to the floor, not stop at the window, for better luck and a sense of abundance.

Last week I heard that Truman Capote’s first novel Summer Crossing was being made into a movie, so I read it. In one scene, the heroine of Summer Crossing, an earlier incarnation of Holly Golightly from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, visits the family home of her unsuitable suitor:

“Mrs. Manzers’ furniture had this look of anonymous adequacy: chairs enough, plenty of lamps, a few too many objects. It was, however, only the objects that reflected a theme: two Buddhas, splitting their sides, supported a library of three volumes; an Indian maiden, made of pink wax, carried on a dreamy smiling ceaseless flirtation with Mickey Mouse, whose doll-sized self grinned atop the radio; and, like comic angels, a bevy of cloth clowns gazed down from the tall heights of a shelf.”  More interior design with disparate items that make little sense together.

This summer, take a new look at the items that you’ve placed in your surroundings. You probably don’t have a pink wax Indian maiden, but what exactly do you have? And why? Spend some time looking, move things around, edit down if too many small things, and reduce clutter so your material items better blend to create a peaceful flow of energy. We can all learn from Janet’s entry. Good luck!

FENG SHUI in CHILDHOOD

April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Antiques hold energy of previous owners.

Antiques hold energy of previous owners.

While reading the memoir by British aristocrat Ivana Lowell “Why Not Say What Happened” I noticed many circumstances of bad feng shui in her life. Even though she was very wealthy and lived in stately manors, here is a description of an early childhood home in Mayfair, England:

“My mother’s idea of decorating was to place as many rickety antiques as could fit into a room onto a comparable number of worn antique rugs. The place was always untidy and unruly. If a television set in our living room broke, the replacement would simply be put on top. I have a photo of me as a small child perched on an old broken sofa next to several defunct TV sets and other pieces of unidentifiable furniture. I look confused and out of place, as though I had just been dumped and left in some builder’s scrap yard. It is only when I look closely at the picture that I can tell that I am, in fact, in our drawing room.”

This sounds gruesome due to clutter, neglect, and bad feng shui! About antiques; be cautious with antiques. They can carry energy of the previous owners, and that is not always good. Don’t live with an antique if it does not feel right, or is rickety and not strong enough to be used. And notice exactly what the antique is. For example, an antique gun is unlucky just because it is a gun!

Don’t end up with piles of unused furniture, or piles of computer equipment and other gadgets. This stuff takes up way too much space to allow it to just keep piling up. You don’t want that “left in some builder’s scrap yard” feeling in any room of your home.

Children are sensitive and know what’s going on. They know when a room is a cluttered mess. I’ve seen infants start to cry when they are carried into a room that is chaotic. So for the sake of your kids and to keep family peace, tidy up and don’t let clutter pile up.

If you don’t have kids, or you don’t share your home with anyone, still be aware of the environment that you create. Ivana Lowell describes the studio of her musician father (who turns out to not be her father):

“(His) apartment was only slightly more normal. It was dark and smelled of halva and cologne. His piano was a studio at the end of dark, long, and narrow corridor. When we visited, he would often lock himself in the room and try to compose his music. All we would hear was the sound of the metronome ticking in an otherwise painfully silent room.”

Of course this does not end well. Air out the place, add some lights, paint the walls, and add bright color and patterns. Play music to break the monotony of the metronome.

Bad feng shui continues in another childhood home:

“My bedroom was at the very back of the house, and the easiest route there was by means of the narrow staircase at the end of one wing. I hated going to bed. I was convinced that the house was haunted (I still am), and my room was cold, damp, and lonely. Every night I felt as though I was being exiled into some unfriendly and isolated world… One night I experimented to see what would happen if I screamed at the top of my lungs. After ten minutes of yelling, I realized that no one could hear me.”

This led to, “I think I was about six years old when Mike began to visit me in my bedroom.” The author decribes her childhood molestation by Mike, a handyman who worked on her family’s estate.

The author’s life challenges continue, all in horrible feng shui environments in castles and estates of the wealthiest and most privileged people in the world.

Some things in life we can do something about, and some things in life we cannot change. But we can all make the conscious choice to live with good feng shui by cleaning up messes and being aware of what we chose to live with. Good feng shui closes the door to chaos and violence, and opens the door to peace, harmony, and success.

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