I use tarot and oracle cards as tools for reflection and contemplation. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."
"The goal isn't to arrive, but to meander, to saunter, to make your life a holy wandering." ~ Rami Shapiro

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dealing with Demons

From the Restored Order Tarot, the Devil; from the Oracle of Kabbalah, Aleph:
          When I translated the first phrase from Dutch to English in the booklet for this card, it read "I commit myself." Now usually commitment is a good thing, but in this case not so much. These chained folks fear the truth, and their actions are focused on not seeing reality. Whatever distracts them from dealing with life on life's terms is what they are committed to. But these people wouldn't be so afraid if they realized what they think of as being the truth is likely only a half version of it. Fear has a way of distorting things. Aleph's form represents a joining of earth and heaven, of the physical with the spiritual. This Hebrew letter is a paradox of oneness that appears as diversity. It can be way too easy for me to think I have cornered the market when I'm dealing with life's difficulties. I can isolate myself, thinking I'm the only one who has to deal with such struggles. But the truth is that everyone has a daily dose of challenges, and no one is immune. Instead of covering myself in the ashes of self-pity, I should go ask how others constructively deal with their demons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Dullness of Discipline

From the Restored Order Tarot, the Chariot; from the Oracle of Kabbalah, Beit (Bet):
           The charioteer learns self-discipline in order to control his instincts and emotions. He doesn't want anything interfering with the drive to succeed. Armor protects his heart from being vulnerable to anything that might distract or deter him from the goal. But I'm wondering if his control has been a little too over-the-top. It's obvious he's made some progress, the but the limits and restrictions he's got in place seem to have zombified his two sphinxes. If he doesn't loosen up a little, any creative project he's engaged in is likely to be as exciting as watching paint dry. Beit is the first letter written in the Torah, and so is connected with beginnings. It is also associated with the number 2, a number of duality. Beit reminds the charioteer that even new endeavors need a balance of work and play. A laser-like focus on work is fine for a period of time, but everyone needs a space where they can take their armor off and unwind.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Rescuer or Rescued

From the Restored Order Tarot, the Ten of Staves; from the Oracle of Kabbalah, Samech:
          The translation from Dutch for this card suggests this man is stockpiling, but not for selfish reasons. He is making a personal sacrifice for the common good. There are preparations underway (perhaps for a dangerous storm, flood or hurricane), and he is doing his part to help his community. Many people are often moved to help others both before and after disasters; it is a time when people seem to forget racial, economic and cultural barriers and just do the work that needs to be done. The root for the Hebrew letter Samech means support, and the unbroken shape of its form suggests protection. Seidman suggests our challenge is not to get stuck on one side - as always the protected, never the protector or as always the giver, never the receiver. To have a healthy circle of friends, community or country, we need to be willing to sacrifice our ego as well as our resources.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Impermanence and Orange Tans

This week I'll be using Tarot in de Herstelde Orde (Restored Order Tarot) created by Rob Docters van Leeuwen & Onno Docters van Leeuwen and published by Servire. The other deck I'll be using this week is the Oracle of the Kabbalah created by Richard Seidman and published by St. Martin's Press. Hebrew artwork is by Adam Rhine (not from the oracle cards). Today's draws are the Wheel of Fortune (also called The World by the creators) and Tzadi:
Image result for hebrew letters botanical art

          The creators of this deck use the world as the Wheel, which makes sense considering it is because of our physicality that everything is constantly changing. All the fixed signs of the zodiac have books, implying that hopefully every trip around the sun we'll be learning useful information instead of making the same mistakes over and over. The Hebrew letter Tzadi is the root for the words 'just,' 'honest' and 'fair.' Perhaps that is what is in the books the figures hold, with aphorisms like "Honesty is the best policy," and "Cheaters never prosper." But a look at men like Donald Trump might make me question this philosophy. He reeks of prosperity and has a habit of telling people whatever they want to hear, regardless of whether it is true or not. Yet underneath his orange sprayed-on tan, is he really happy and content? I would guess not, which may be what the real lesson is about living. According to Jewish tradition, every generation has thirty-six Tzaddikim (Righteous Ones) hidden among humanity who hold the world together. I hope one of them is watching over the U.S. election next month.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

It's All in the Attitude

From the Japaridze Tarot, the Devil; from the Holitzka I Ching, Hexagram 31:
           Before I read the booklet, I thought this image was confusing and chaotic. Yet isn't that when we're most susceptible to the Devil - that inner part of us that craves stability and certainty in an ever-changing world? Japaridze looks to the Buddhist term of grasping to help illustrate and explain this card. Grasping happens when we think life should not be a certain way (it's unfair!); we attempt to push away what we dislike and hold tightly to what is pleasant. This is how a lot of compulsions and addictions develop deep roots in our lives. Hexagram 31 is referred to as 'Influence' and suggests an attitude of openness and humility rather than an iron fist. Holitzka writes that one should make wise use of his or her strength. Instead of fighting, there is receptivity and understanding. I do have some influence over confusing situations, but sometimes my power rests in an attitude of acceptance rather than actions.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Candle Carrier

From the Japaridze Tarot, the Queen of Fire (Wands); from the Holitzka I Ching, Hexagram 17:
          This woman's candle lights the way for herself and others. The flame represents her passion and enthusiasm - what inspires and moves her to action. Yet because she is a queen, she is also a nurturer who wants others to find their flames too. Buddha stated: "It is like a lighted torch whose flame can be distributed to ever so many other torches which people may bring along; and therewith they will cook food and dispel darkness, while the original torch itself remains burning ever the same." The Queen knows sharing will create more light, not less. Hexagram 17 is often entitled 'Adapting,' and refers to being flexible enough to happily be a guide or a follower. The point is not who gets to be the leader, but making progress without the interference of the ego. When there's no personal ladder to climb, everyone benefits.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sell No Wine Before Its Time

From the Japaridze Tarot, the Eight of Gardens (Pentacles); from the Holitzka I Ching, Hexagram 49:
          Japaridze describes this figure as an alchemist. Alchemy was both a philosophy and a protoscience with an aim to purify, mature, and perfect certain objects. In Europe the area of interest was mainly metals, while in Asia it was medicine. The alchemist as a symbol for the Eight of Pentacles seems a good fit, as he works hard with attention to detail in an effort to perfect his craft. Hexagram 49 is alternately called Revolution or Metamorphosis and refers to perseverance that finally brings about change. From an alchemical point of view, this in-between time (perseverance) would be the effort put forth for purification and maturation. Just as wine needs time to age so that it's quality improves, so does any movement or project.