At Face Value

Sage Sips: a Tarot look at the week ahead in the time it takes to sip from your coffee

Hello and welcome to Sage Sips the blog, the newsletter and, so it seems, the podcast.

I think we finally and for real have everything set up under th new name. Sage words tarot is the main website with links to all the good stuff including private readings you can order anytime, no appointment needed.

Sage Sips is the name of the active podcast. The old feed under the title “Sage’s Short Sip Tarot” has been deleted or soon will be. Sage Sips is the name of this blog on ko-fi and substack where you can also get these Pathway readings for the week ahead on Mondays, but also subscriber exclusive content at other times.

Simple! And hopefully easier to spell and remember than the name Tao Craft was. So now that all of that is apparently nailed down for the moment, let’s look at the cards and energies ahead for this week. When I say energies ahead I don’t mean what is going to happen.


That is 100% up to you and your individual circumstances. These pathway readings are all about the energy conditions that you have to work with, the vibe ahead can help you to make better decisions and take the best actions for you as an individual. It’s like how the general weather report for everybody helps you to decide what to wear out of your individual wardrobe.

You can decide to bring an umbrella if pouring rain is on the horizon, that sort of metaphoric thing.

This week has big energy, but it is big yin energy. There are two major arcana cards, death and the high priestess. Both cards are inverted, and that feels very significant this time.

If you’ve listened or read for any amount of time, you know that I use pure intuition when it comes to reversed cards, that is to say cards that appear upside down relative to the person doing the reading.

Every card has every shade of meaning: black or white, positive or negative, encouraging or discouraging and every shade of grey in between. I tend to reach for all the shades of feeling for every card anyway, so a physical reversal may or may not be meaningful. It might hint that the part of life represented by the card’s position in the layout is blocked, or hindered or difficult somehow. Just as likely, it could be a hint at a particular set of meanings or key words for the card rather than the layout position. Or, just as likely as either of those, it could mean nothing at all.

In this case it feels like a pull. It feels like advice so slow down, to pull back. I’ve never actually done this, but I imagine this is the mental and emotional equivalent of swimming in thick syrup. There is power here, but it is like the power a bowl holds…its usefulness is in the empty space as much as the bowl that defines it.

There is a sense of tension and expectancy, a period of necessary emptiness and quiet to give future progress somewhere to go. That’s why the two major arcana cards are standing on their heads.

The mental image here is two things:

First is the three of wands card. I don’t think that card is significant with regard to its meaning or key words. It’s more of the feeling that is evoked by the artwork on the card, usually of a figure gazing at the horizon. That lends a sense of waiting and expectancy and holding space for hopes like the bowl analogy earlier.

Second is a diagram that looks like a circle within a circle acting as a hinge or a joint. As quiet or empty as this time may seem, it is necessary in order for things to turn in a better direction. It feels almost like the stars are pivoting around this space in time.

The Eight of Cups is the fading energy. That suits the nature of the card so well, that it may not really begin to fade all that much until we are well into the week. It may stick around for a while, actually. The eight of cups is about endings, about walking away from something for your own good or for the good another. It hints at a bittersweet or melancholy separation that at the same time is utterly necessary. It’s about moving on toward something better even when letting go of the past isn’t a joy or delight. Bittersweet, yes, but very very necessary. This card hints at one of those times where you must acknowledge those melancholy or nostalgic feelings even as you definitively let go and move on.

The current energy is death in reverse. Death is the card of change. It is different from the change we see in the Wheel of Fortune card. This change isn’t cyclic. It isn’t about change within a larger or grander pattern. The change in the death card is more permanent, and much more transformational. There are reasons this is inverted death rather than the wheel card or the hanged man card. This isn’t a pattern of progress – wait – more progress. This is cocoon time. The caterpillar is dead and gone, but it isn’t quite time for the butterfly to emerge either. The cake is in the oven, the butterfly is in the cocoon. Profound change is happening, but it is happening slowly, quietly, and subtly.

The High Priestess is sitting in front of one black and one white pillar. There is a very Tao Te Ching feeling here. The Priestess is usually a symbol of cosmic mysteries with very yin, dark, hidden qualities.

Here is where the Taoism part comes in.

You can’t have darkness without light. The mysterious and obvious are opposites that define each other just like light and dark define each other and the solid parts and empty parts of a bowl define each other.

As for the growing energy card, the High Priestess in reverse reminds us that sometimes you can take things at face value or, as Sigmund Freud famously said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

As big and soul-shaking as the walking-away energies in the eight of cups and the death card may be, the advice here is to not read more into things than are already there. The recent past has been difficult and chaotic and changing enough without us heaping unfounded assumptions on top of everything else.

During this time of quiet transformation it is probably best to take the week at face value.

Thank you all for reading, and once the podcast is back up and running, for listening too.

All of my free Tarot content is readers and listener supported. No monetization means your Tarot message comes first with me, not an advertiser’s message. If you like what you see in these weekly readings, please consider a private reading, subscribing the exclusive content on ko-fi or substack or sending a tip to the virtual coffee mug.

Thanks again, see you at the next sip!

Writing It Down

Sage Sips: Tarot in the time it takes to sip from your coffee

One of my all time favorite media personalities, Adam Savage once said “Remember kids, the difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.”

Part of my plotting with this rebranding and adding the Substack newsletter is to do the free three card path through the week reading on Mondays, then on Wednesdays, take a slightly deeper dive into the single “current energy” card. I’m thinking Fridays would be a good day to explore oracle cards or other divination tools like crystal casts, cold readings, channeling, pendulums, I Ching or whatever other intuition driven impulse comes along. Other posts, like Q&A or other longer reads will be entirely random. I count myself lucky to have things this organized. I enjoy having flexibility. Intuition or spirit or energy or whatever you want to call it – it doesn’t follow a schedule. Spirit guides and muses don’t give a flying rat’s patootie about social media or best marketing practices. I still don’t have ducks, I still don’t have rows, but this might make the squirrel rave playlist a little more fun for me.

And that, folks, is me following the eight of pentacles current energy advice.

All of the RWS Tarot cards have dozens of key words or phrases that have accumulated around them over the years – centuries, actually. Some are enduring and can be traced back to the writing of A.E. Waite and others, some are contemporary, either written into the guidebook for a specific deck or in a general Tarot book that can apply to any deck. The eight of pentacles (sometimes also called coins or disks) has been connected to skill, diligence, hard work, a project in progress, work, productivity, repetition, craftsmanship and more.

In addition to the long list of key words, each card can be read purely intuitively. The card and its keywords are simply a prompt or a springboard for the reader’s own human intuition or psychic skill. That opens up the reading to an infinity of meanings.

We can talk about intuitive vs key word Tarot readings later. For now lets focus on the eight of pentacles, since it seems to be resonating with one of the well-known meanings – diligence.

Or in this case it came to mind as the contemporary phrase “due diligence” which also brings to mind professionalism and discipline. Due diligence makes me think of doing what needs done to keep things right. It’s all about attention to detail, crossing of those Ts, finding out what needs to be known. It’s nose to the grindstone time. It is not a good time to phone it in and definitely not time for a f**k around and find out approach.

Do the science. Do the diligence. Write stuff down, metaphorically speaking at least.

Thanks for reading.

See you at the next sip!

*Waite Smith Tarot card image from the public domain


Tarot reading for the week ahead

Before it was a movie, it was a word.

Hello and welcome to a whole bunch of stuff. I’m glad you are here. This is the first week of a new and hopefully stable web presence for Sage Words Tarot. Most Mondays you can find these three card Tarot readings for the week ahead in lots of places. So pour yourself a cup of whatever you like to sip this time of day and have a seat at the Tarot Table. The readings are the same no matter whether you came to the table by way of the Sage Words Tarot blog on wordpress and ko-fi, Sage Sips podcast, or Sage Sips on Substack. No matter how you got here, I’m happy you ARE here, so let’s take a look at these cards.

My hunch is to do this in the same format as I would for an email private reading. You KNOW I’m going to tell you that distance Tarot is my specialty and private readings are available to order 24 / 7 no appointment needed. Email Tarot has loads of advantages for both of us, and there is a web page and blog post about that coming soon, too.

That being said, this is my three card pathway layout. I based it on the old ubiquitous past, present, future layout but it doesn’t work with exact time or with predictions. This about the collective energy environment, sort of a psychic weather report that helps you to figure out your best way forward through whatever life throws at you. Like I’ve said for years now: Tarot doesn’t tell you what is going to happen in life. Tarot helps you figure out what to do when life happens.

The layout is read from right to left, in the opposite direction of reading English. I do it that way for a couple of reasons. First, that’s just how I learned to do it a long, long time ago. It’s comfortable and it works. I think the part where we read cards in the opposite direction from reading words is important. Language and grammar is a logical process. When we flip the reading direction it disrupts that deeply ingrained logical thought pattern. That disruption helps to get past established mental habits and get to intuition a little bit easier.

The first card, the one on the right, symbolizes the energy that is fading. The middle card is the strongest energy around at the present moment. I’m writing this on a Monday morning – April 17, 2023 to be exact. Chances are, you are reading it at a different time. That’s where the customization comes in, even at a distance, even in a collective reading. In my experience, the inspiration we need is all around us. Whether you see it as psychic, spiritual, energetic or what have you, the message you need will find you one way or another and the moment you need it the most. Whenever you are reading this, the cards reflect your individual moment in time.

The left hand card is the energy that is growing in influence. Again, it is like an energy weather report of the vibe you might be dealing with later on. It is not a prediction of what is about to happen.

Another way to think of the layout is as the path we’ve already walked, the place where we stand now, and the path just ahead.

I tend not to use that metaphor because “path ahead” makes it too easy to fall into the trap of thinking in terms of predictions or some kind of archaic fortune telling. Tarot has evolved beyond that. If you are looking for someone to predict the future, I’m not the Tarot reader for you. I’m here for the personal growth, spiritual enrichment, inspiration and creative problem solving aspects of Tarot. I’m here to be a better person and better adapt to this squirrel rave we call life. Predictions can’t do regardless of whether they come true or not. But that’s another rant for another day.

My readings start with what I call the “general pattern.” That part isn’t as telling in these three card layouts as it is in a five or seven card layout. Here we see two minor arcana cards and one major. That is roughly the proportion of minor to major cards in the deck as a whole, so logically you would expect to see that same ratio in the layout. When that happens, I read it as “as expected” overall energy. No red lights, no sirens, no windfalls, no winning lottery tickets, just the normal, usual, average ups and downs of everyday living. In other words, chances are it is going to be a typical week, whatever is typical for you. The major arcana card is the growing energy position so the overall dynamics of the week will be building as time goes on as opposed to remaining steady or chilling out as we move toward the weekend. Things are on an upswing, which makes sense after the laid back energies of the past few weeks. It makes sense that the pendulum would finally start to swing in the other direction.

The fading energy is the Ten of Cups. Classically, the Ten of Cups is associated with all the happy family things you would expect based on the picture on the card. Cups cards are connected to the water element, emotions and our closest inner circle relationships. This isn’t to say that things are going to get unhappy or that you are going to lose the things that are dearest to you. In this case, it is the opposite. Words like “foundation” and “foundational” come to mind. Support systems, be it genetic family, found family or otherwise are very much there to support you.

I think this is the real cornerstone of this week’s reading.

The Ten of Cups reminds us that we have support. Know your foundation and your matrix. Before it was a movie or hair care line, matrix meant the environment something was in. Matrix is our milieu and the substrate of life. It’s glue. It’s the stuff that holds it all together.

Allow yourself to be supported. You are not alone. You don’t have to do this alone. There is a matrix and a life-glue out there for you. The trick is to find it and then to cherish it.

Current Energies are represented by the Eight of Pentacles. Pentacles are earth energy, career, wealth, and our relationship with the physical world. This is a cue that the conditions are right to be productive. Allow it to be easy. Just do it, as the shoe folks say. Stay busy. It has been said that work is good therapy. Focusing on a task can help you stay mindful and present in the current moment. That is exactly why simple, repetitive things like knitting, crafting, running, washing dishes or peeling potatoes can be meditative, even soothing, especially at times when emotions are running high. Again I hear “stay active” and “busy hands, quiet mind”

By the way, when I say “hear” it means that the intuitive information comes to mind in the form of words, sounds or songs. If I say “see” it means that the intuitive input is visual, coming through as mental images.

Finally we have the growing Hierophant energy. It took me a long time to come to terms with this card because of the religious imagery on older decks like the Marseille and the RWS card in the Youtube card draw video. That kind of imagery makes sense in the context of Tarot’s development in heavily Catholic Medieval Europe but it has little meaning for those of us who are not part of the Christian religious tradition. Depending on individual experiences, the religious aspects of the card’s appearance can be off-putting to say the least. It is thanks to Johanne Denelli’s writing and the Mark Evans artwork in the Witches Tarot deck version of the card that I’ve been able to work with the card at all. The Hierophant is the keeper of traditions. The hierophant tells old legends by firelight, and defines social expectation – even when social expectations evolve and change.

There are two threads of meaning for the card, and both apply in this reading.

First the Hierophant can symbolize tradition.

In this case it is calling us to set our new normal. Now it is our turn to say what is or isn’t traditional and if we choose to follow tradition at all or not. As someone on social media put it, we are the new ancestors.

After times of great change like the pandemic, people need some degree of sameness, some sense of a solid foundation. Whether it is based on old tradition, or the creation of a new one, after times of great change like the pandemic, we naturally gravitate toward things that are solid, and seem unlikely to change anytime soon. When you build a house, the foundation is the place to start. It might be a new building on a new foundation. It might be rebuilding on an old and proven foundation. Here again we are asked to find our matrix. What is our root, our cornerstone and our foundation? What is the glue that holds the whole thing together? What holds all of our parts in place? What is our matrix?

The other thread of meaning in this card has to do with social convention. It is about doing what is expected of us – or not. I relate this very much with that tension between expressing our true selves fully and authentically and the public face we put on in order to thrive, succeed, or at least survive in the society in which we live. Sometimes you have to take off your favorite goth band T-shirt and dress for a job interview. Sometimes you have to stake your claim for who you really are to heck with the cultural norms. Sometimes you can find a way to have both. Sometimes you have to stay closeted for your own safety. Sometimes you have to find new family and culture and walk your own path.

The message from the Hierophant is to know and define which path is best for you right now. Whether you are complying with the old or creating something new, do it knowingly, mindfully and deliberately.

In a private reading, I would finish up with a summary of any purely psychic intuitive impressions that come through. It may be related to the person’s cards or questions or it may not. That part is highly individual and very personal. It’s not really applicable to a general, collective reading like this. I do get the mental image of a lotus, if that means anything to anyone. That morphs into the image of a pine forest, along with the scent of pine. I’m guessing that’s our recommended candle or incense fragrance for the day.

And there the energies step back and here is where I would end things if I were reading for an individual.

For the whole group of you – thank you for reading and listening. Helpful links are in the text, in the right hand column, in the episode description. You know the drill.

Thank you again. Have a great week and I’ll see you at the next sip!

Turning Over August

This is the first time in a while (8 months actually, I googled it) that the day of the month is a Monday, so the pathway reading would follow the weekend turnover reading in 24 hours (or less depending on when you read things.)

Reading on top of reading on top of reading is never a good idea. WHY – your guess is as good as mine. I can see where the old school way of saying it might be something like “the cards get mad and stop talking to you.” Intuitively, energetically, it feels like that. Maybe it is something about human psychology. If it is, the seven of cups captures it beautifully with its meanings of dithering, overthinking, decision paralysis, and trusting your gut / emotions / instincts.

Trust might be the real core of it – trusting your intuition.

Asking over and over is asking from a place of mistrust in yourself, or even fear. Asking over and over might indeed be fishing for the answer you want…not the true one. That is a lack of trust in the process too. Here I am reminded of the Adam Savage quote on a t-shirt “Follow the process, not the plan.” How often in the past have we been so focused on one thing that we rejected something better when it fell right into our lap.

My favorite example of this comes from the book “One Last Time” by John Edward. Please read it for the details. He is a well known psychic and medium and has a really interesting story. I’m paraphrasing heavily here. He was very close with his Grandmother and after school they would watch the soap opera “The Guiding Light” together. As I remember it, they were open and talked about life after death. When the time came that his grandmother was near death due to illness, they made the agreement that she would communicate with him if it was at all possible. They set up three secret words between the two of them that if he heard them from a reading, he would know beyond doubt that it was her and that the communication was real. He said the first two came easily and quickly, but the third was their shared fanhood of “The Guiding Light” soap opera. In reading after reading nothing came and he became frustrated, and almost gave up on the whole thing. Multiple times he got references to lighthouses, like the ones on the New England coast. But nothing about TV, or soap opera. Finally in a slap-my-forehead moment he connected the dots that he had his answers multiple times over. The lighthouse was the guiding light he needed to hear, not the TV soap opera reference he expected to hear.

On one hand, his persistence and repeated questioning paid off. On the other he nearly threw away a profound experience that launched his career (and helped others through his readings) because of preconceived notions. If asking over and over isn’t giving you an answer.

I know that is a loooong way to go to get around to today’s Tarot Turnover. Long story short: spirit speaks in symbols and whispers. Trust your intuition. If you feel the need to keep asking, first revisit the readings and answers you have in hand. It that doesn’t help, give the problem a little time to breathe. Give it time for decisions to made and intentions to be set. Look back at the answers you have, then persist. If you are lucky, one way or the other you’ll get your lighthouse.

Today, my intuition is telling me to combine the weekend turnover intuition exercise and the path through August Tarot reading. Don’t worry….we got this. Here are this Month’s cards:

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Pathway Tarot for June ’22

Pathway Tarot reading: energies ahead for June ’22 (members only)

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Month Ahead Pathway Reading Dec. ’21

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3 Card (Pathway) Tarot Reading

Q: You drew a card for me on Halloween which was (and still is!) really meaningful, so lovely to connect with you again. I saw your Instagram post and would love to have you pull a few cards for me if the places haven’t been filled, but no worries if not! Happy to have a reading via the blog 🙂 


For ******

November 23, 2018

First of all, thank you so much for your kind words!

I’m always so happy to hear when a reading is helpful….after all, that’s why we do these things! But the same is true as the last reading: If you have any questions, complaints or need any clarification with the reading please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Since you didn’t specify a topic, I’ll just move ahead with an open-to-anything point of view.

Your Cards Today Are:

  • Background & Context: King of Coins (Pentacles)
  • Current Situation: Three of Swords
  • Moving Forward: King of Swords

General Pattern

All cards are minor arcana, which in a layout this small is no real statistical surprise. Intuitively it feels like a bit of reassurance, that nothing really major is stirring the energies for you right now. It is all pretty business as usual more than it’s not. It has a feeling that business as usual for you entails being really good at what you do. Business as usual is kicking butt and taking names from the feel of it. In that vein, it feels like a very plain-talking, no nonsense kind of reading. It also feels like most of the reading energy is pointing toward work and career thoughts, which would go right along with having a coins card right off the bat like that. The repetitions are asking for attention. You have two swords, which connote action, the element of air, intellect and logic, authority, or your connection with society and culture at large. Knit all of that together and my attention is pulled to using cold, calculating intellect when it comes to work, especially when dealing with the authority structure, or any vying for promotions or power within the structure of the workplace. “Power Play” comes to mind along with an old episode of M*A*S*H where the Colonel accuses someone (Frank? Hotlips? Klinger?) of “going over my head so many times I’m getting athletes scalp” I guess the shorthand for that would be watch out for power playing brown nosers at work. The other repetition is the two kings. Kings connote leadership. It feels like the situation may be asking you for leadership, confidence, self-starting, standing up for yourself….even if you are already good at that, it feels like the skills you have will be put through their paces, and you may even be pushed a tiny bit outside your comfort zone in that respect. I ‘hear’ (meaning the intuition comes as words instead of feelings or images) to “Hang on and be brave” There was a great meme about spirit guides (the lady) you (the boy) and a life lesson. Here is the photo part if you want to take a peek: Your guides feel like they are reminding you they won’t lead you anywhere you are not ready to go, but since you are ready…buckle up baby!

Background & Context: King of Coins

This part is the reminder of competence you have, and that you are more than ready to meet leadership challenges at work, or any other part of life, really. The King of Coins as a card connotes wealth and success, so a note of reassurance there again. I hear “build on past skills and successes” I’m not clear whether that means use your skills and knowledge that you have in hand to fullest advantage, to build new skill and expand your knowledge and experience…or both. It doesn’t feel like a job change as much as an expansion of the current situation.

Current Situation: Three of Swords

Classically, this tends to be a bit darker, more dire card across all of the decks and references that I have. Often it will set me off on maternal lecture mode about be safe, keys out, park under lights, and all that usual lecture….but not so much for you today. This feels more petty than malicious. It isn’t the devil or dark side card for good reason. This feels petty, and small, and contained to one aspect of life, like office politics. “Watch out for petty backstabbers” comes to mind. Very office politics, but also heavy on the petty….like an annoying mosquito that can drive you mad if you let it, or just brush it away. The more calm, detached, intellectual and swords / mental-focus the better.

Moving Forward: King of Swords

You know how I read cards…the cards have suit, element, layout position, and general card meaning. But each card, based on all that other stuff, can have a different spin or ‘flavor’ of message; advice (something to consider doing) caution (something to consider avoiding) or validation (acknowledgement, encouragement, cosmic thank you) There has been a lot of validation energy so far. This has a little more of an advice spin. The card feels less like it pertains to you and more like it represents an ally…someone in the hierarchy at work who you can cultivate an working relationship with, who can be a mentor of sorts. “Have your back” comes to mind. Like someone who knows your skills, sees your potential. It feels like it might be literally a male figure of some sort. Does any of this ring a bell for you? I’m not sure how else to understand the card, because it has a not-you but someone who can help you sort of symbolism around it. Beyond that it is dark – meaning no signal, not evil or bad kind of dark. It feels like that is the card or energy telling me that is a singular message from this card….seek out a mentor or ally at work.


This part is like a psychic “cold reading” where I free form give you any impressions that come to mind. In readings that have a topic or question, this part might connect to that or the cards….or it might not. In an open reading like this one, it just stays in the open frame of mind.

Often it starts with colors, or crystals or both. In this case I see citrine. It associates with the solar plexus chakra, and therefor confidence. Wear or carry it for confidence at work. It also resonates with the King cards, and the coins suit because the golden color has to do with wealth, career, luck and to some extent leadership.

I taste butterscotch, with lemon scent in the background. That might be a continuation of the golden color associations. Butterscotch may symbolize comfort, while lemon in aromatherapy is very cleansing and energizing. Lemon may be important relevant to work, as diffusing some lemon fragrance, lighting a lemon scented candle, or using anything lemon after work might do two things…first it would be a clear transition signal. It could remind you work is done, clear any annoyances or negativity from your day, and let you know to shift into family/home/private life mode. It will also lift your energy…stress or pettiness at work can put an extra drain on your energies. Lemon could help neutralize that and lift your energy after a long day. Don’t use citrus oils on your skin if you will be in sunlight within the next 12 hours…it can cause sun sensitivity. Also don’t put it on your skin if you have autoimmune diseases as it enhances immunity (a good thing in cold/flu season for most people)

And there the energies step back. I hope this helps!

Best Wishes,