Maggie Stiefvater’s Unofficial Scorpio Sea Tarot Guide
Sources and Further Reading
Here are links to purchase the complete deck with the accompanying guidebook written by Melissa Cynova: https://www.shoponemorepage.com/maggieorders.html (for signed edition) https://www.bookdepository.com/Scorpio-Sea.../9780738758428 (for unsigned edition)
All pictures and text can be found on Maggie Stiefvater’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MaggieStiefvaterAuthorPage) and Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/maggie_stiefvater/?fbclid=IwAR3eRV0LdElN7VKyE4T1fpMiO6SeuywZTSA5f4F9q7YDeVmtsmcerrxCq5c)
Check out the first post here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/maggie-stiefvater-really-its-me/the-scorpio-sea-tarot-deck/3245134988907988/
In some instances, I have included additional text Maggie provided as replies on the Facebook posts. I also rearranged the cards to match the numerical cyclical progression, rather than keeping them in the order originally uploaded (this fixes the day 7 cards in the Major Arcana section that were uploaded out of order)
For further reading about tarot and “straightforward guidance on decks, spreads, card meanings, and symbols,” Maggie Stiefvater recommended Melissa Cynova’s book Kitchen Table Tarot (purchased here: https://melissacynova.com/books/)
In some of the card descriptions, Maggie included an asterix that linked to the bottom of the post that said “some card positions ask “what should I do?” and others “what should I avoid?” For concision, I have removed these hints, but left the asterix itself as a reminder to think of card placement.
Readers of the Raven Cycle might have guessed that I’m fairly fond of tarot. I like tarot on both a psychological level and a spiritual level — it, like so many other things in life — can be as magical or mundane as you want it to be.
On a mundane, psychological level, I like it as an ice-breaker. Sometimes doing a reading with an acquaintance is enough to provoke deeper conversations about what we want out of life and where we think we’re headed. Big talk is always better than small talk.
On a deeper, spiritual level, I like it as a meditative device. If I need to think more honestly about a decision or change, I’ll give myself an occasional reading, and no matter what it says, I’ll learn more about what I think about the situation by how strongly I agree or disagree with what I think the cards are telling me.
Tarot is a cool tool for people who are already in the mood to self-examine and to improve; I don’t really have much interest in it as a parlor trick. I think it’s strongest magic is when it is crystal-clear mirror: it’s so hard to see ourselves and situations clearly, and often just the seeing is the way to a solution.
I’ve drawn one tarot deck before — very loosely based on the Raven Cycle aesthetic — and it was a cool, mind-bending art assignment: draw a visual metaphor for the meaning of the card, trying to make the deck as intuitive to use as possible.
Now, a billion years later (ok, not really), I’ve drawn another deck, The Scorpio Sea deck, based on the imagery of Thisby and the novel The Scorpio Races (although, like the Raven’s Prophecy deck, it stands alone). This time, it comes with a guidebook written by my friend, Melissa Cynova, who is a professional psychic and real-life woman of Fox Way. And my goal this time was to draw a deck that was more comforting and homey than the other deck, one that seems to agree that creature comforts are an acceptable goal (I’m not sure the art of the Raven’s Prophecy deck agrees with that as a thesis). It’s also wild and rural, as complicated as the seaside town of Skarmouth in The Scorpio Races.
Tarot spreads! At the beginning of this post series, readers asked me if I’d talk about tarot spreads. The answer to that is broad and annoying: you can lay cards out however is useful to you. You can pull one for a yes or no. You can pull a lot of cards to encourage a friend to talk out their problems. You can do past-present-future. You can use mine, which is 11 cards, designed to be a conversation starter:
1. Situation: what’s this reading about?
2. Nuance: what���s making the situation complicated?
3. Subconscious: what’s going on in the back of your head?
4. Conscious: what are you thinking about all the time?
5. Possible Fix: what YOU think will help
6. Possible Avoid: what YOU think will hinder
7. Actual Fix: what the Universe thinks will help
8. Actual Avoid: what the Universe thinks will shaft you
9. The Path: First step to take
10. Watch out! What to look out for on the path
11. The Outcome: where this is all taking you
When I read for other people, I look at first and last cards to see what I think the story is. Then I try to see the how-to in the middle. I used to be extremely rubbish at it and then I got better. Did I get more magical? Or just better at reading humans? YOU DECIDE.
*some card positions ask “what should I do?” and others “what should I avoid?”
This deck is based on the 78 tropes of the Rider-Waite deck, which is now the most common tarot "descriptions." It means that you could learn the meanings of this deck and then pick up any other Rider-Waite based deck and find they intend the Magician to mean the same thing, etc. These art interpretations are my take on a visual metaphor for the meaning, to help folks remember the meaning as much as possible. I love using them just to generate great, deep conversations with folks — it doesn't require belief in any particular magic, just a desire to always become a better human.
I've heard all kinds of things about decks - you shouldn't buy your own, you shouldn't let other people handle your deck, you need to cleanse it, blah blah - and if that's your religion and your belief, I have no problem with it! But for me, they're meditative devices, and I don't believe the deck has any more power than *I* have. So I buy my own! I shove them in the bottom of my luggage! They're just cards, and the magic is me. And the deck stands alone without the novel, so I think if you like the look of it, go for it! These meanings will ALSO transfer over to any other deck you find, too, so you could always get a deck that you otherwise love the art on and refer to these meanings. Happy tarot-ing!
You don’t have to believe in psychics to follow along, you only have to believe in the future. I firmly believe they’re just cards, and any wisdom comes from you and whatever power YOU believe in.
Color Code Key
Major Arcana - blue
The Swords - grey
The Wands - purple
The Coins - yellow
The Cups - green
A note from the creator - I chose to color code the slides by suit. This was done as a visual aid and holds no additional meaning.
DAY 1 of 78 Days of Tarot. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana are built in a cycle — not exactly from cradle to grave, but rather, beginning to end. Start to fulfillment, rather than start to finish. Each card represents a sort of milestone along the way.
The 1st card, the Fool, is confusingly numbered 0 instead of 1. The Fool’s how we all start out. Not stupid, just ignorant. Hopeful because we’ve never had our hopes dashed. Fearless because we’ve never been hurt. Playful because nothing bad has ever happened to cloud our thoughts. Sometimes we want to judge other people for being fools, but really . . . we’re just envious. Remember when we were that starry-eyed and carefree?
Depending on where the Fool shows up in a reading, it could either be a call to drop your bitterness and preconceived notions and baggage — or it could be wagging a finger at you: don’t be so naïve.
I picked a cat for the fool because they’re an animal that manages to stay foolish for longer than most, even the clever ones. There’s a pretty foolish cat in The Scorpio Races. I’ve gotten a fair bit of reader mail thanking me for her fate.
0 - The Fool
DAY 2 of 78 Days of Tarot. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana are structured in a cycle, which begins with the Fool, & grows next into the Magician. The Fool is someone stuff happens to. The Magician is someone who makes stuff happen. A problem-solver. Active—which you have to be to move through the cycle of tarot and life.
The Magician is also powerful, but his power comes from a unique place: he’s good at a lot of things. Perhaps not great at a lot of things, but that doesn’t matter as much, because what he’s really good at is using disparate skills together. These polymath combo platters make for nuanced and interesting solutions to boring or tedious problems. There’s a reason this is Adam Parrish’s card in the Raven Cycle; he’s a character who draws connections when others can’t see the way forward.
Depending on where the Magician appears in a spread, it could be encouraging you to use ALL your skills to fix a situation, even ones that don’t feel relevant (skills: good babysitter, artist, physicist, advice-giver, bread-maker, organizer, etc. etc.). Or it could be shouting the opposite: don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t need to be all things to all men.
I drew this musician for the Magician, because I, too, play a lot of different instruments — sometimes all at once, like this. When I record music for my audiobooks, I swap between them from minute to minute. I’m not great at all of them, but I’m good enough to get the job done.
1 - The Magician
DAY 3 of 78 Days of Tarot. It took me forever to memorize the tarot cards’ meanings. Once I stopped trying to learn them by rote and instead started thinking of them in cycles and pairs, everything made more sense. For instance, the High Priestess can be paired with the Magician. The Magician is a master of things in the real world — the High Priestess is equally masterful with the interior, other world.
The High Priestess is creepy. She’s intuitive, ethereal. The Magician’s toolbox involves skills that move objects in the real world. The High Priestess’s toolbox is gut feeling, prayer, and