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Maggie Stiefvater is a storyteller, a musician, and an artist. She is a Magician, creating worlds that we can all explore. I first came into contact through her early young adult stories published through Flux (the Young Adult imprint of Llewellyn), Lament and Ballad. I fell in love with her work when I read the Shiver series. And she won my heart forever with her Raven Boys series (and I am absolutely dying until March, when the next book in the series, The Raven King, comes out).

What does this wonderfully diverse and prolific creator have to do with tarot? In the way of so many magical creations, she started playing, combining interests, and pretty soon she was creating a tarot deck. She saw each card as “an opportunity to illustrate a succinct metaphor, to create a visual shortcut for the meaning of the card. [She] also found that the imagery of Welsh mythology [note: she was working on the Raven Boys series] paired beautifully with traditional tarot visual.”

Stiefvater believes that art and story are integral to tarot readings. A reading, she says, is a story. A reading is also about intention. The simple act of asking a question. The simple act of drawing a single card. The simple, or perhaps not so simple, act of applying the meaning to your question. With practice, with openness, with courage, accessing the wisdom of the cards, the wisdom of your own heart, becomes a way of being.

Her images are deceptively simple and powerfully evocative. The Seven of Swords is a great example of her vision of tarot. Here is the card:


And here is what Stiefvater says about the card:

“Although the swords are a logical suit, concerned with absolutes, they are not particularly fussed with ethics. Ethics, after all, are indeed absolutes, but they are an absolute of emotions. The absolutes of swords often push aside principles to see the bottom line instead. They ask what will serve you best. Sometimes, it means doing things that you aren’t proud of. Sometimes, living this way ends up with other people turning the tables and treating you this way, too.

“This is exactly what the Seven of Swords promises. It is a card of cunning and deception. The kindest reading promises that this is a card of strategy—not out and out lying, just being cautious with the truth in order to get what you want. The worst reading admits that the word strategy is just a pretty term for “manipulation.” The person in this card often finds themselves in intentional solitude: too many partners will see through the web of half-truths. The Seven of Swords isn’t always talking about you, however. You could also be the victim of someone’s manipulation or lies, or perhaps living with the suspicion that you’re being played. Sometimes this card calls for a bit of gamesmanship, urging you to embrace your cunning.

“Personally, I nearly always think it’s better to uncross my fingers and tell the truth. It can be tempting to play the game, but in the end, blades hidden in the murk—even your own—are more likely to cut you than ones clearly presented in the light of day.”

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...