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

Monday, March 19, 2018

Be Filled with Wonder

From the Ship of Fools Tarot, the Stars; from the Wisdom of the Four Winds, 'Kauri:'
          The Fool and a young man look up at a night sky full of stars. In the companion booklet, Williams hints that when we lose hope, we also lose our ability to be awed. With wonder comes mystery; with mystery comes the realization that we don't know everything. After going through (or in the middle of) a painful situation, it's easy to lose hope when we think we know how things are going to turn out. These quotes from Pema Chodron give some guidance in line with the message of the Stars:
We sow the seeds of our future hells or happiness by the way we open or close our minds right now.
All you need to know is that the future is wide open and you are about to create it by what you do.
The Kauri is a coniferous tree found in the northern part of New Zealand. When the tree is damaged, it exudes a sap to close the wound. This conifer also sheds a great amount of bark and lower limbs to protect itself from parasitic plants and vines. The combination of these cards suggests that often the worst parasites damaging our hope for change is our own thoughts. Why not shed them and open up to the spaciousness and wonder of the night sky? 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

It's a Complicated Whole

This week I'll be using the Ship of Fools Tarot created by Brian Williams and published by Llewellyn. Paired with it will be the Wisdom of the Four Winds created by Barry Brailsford, illustrated by Cecilie Okada and published by StonePrint Press. Today's draws are Judgment and 'Antares:'
          The Judgment card shows Moses and Samuel sending a shower of frogs and locust down upon the Fool. Does he feel like he is being singled out for punishment by the Universe? Did his actions lead to his suffering? In either case, there is something to be learned - a wake-up call of sorts. As Vega 4 sings, "Life is beautiful, but it's complicated." Indeed, it is full of a measure of sorrow and joy for everyone. No one gets a pass, and to think otherwise just brings more suffering as we wallow in self-pity. On the other hand, intentional actions will cultivate seeds of sorrow or joy; we may try to hide our motives, but once those seeds grow, others will clearly see them for what they are. In Maori legend, Antares (the summer star) gave Tane (the life force) three baskets of knowledge for humankind. These baskets contained spiritual knowledge, knowledge about the natural world, and cultural knowledge. However, wisdom required using the three in balance in order to live harmoniously. Both these cards symbolize a need to see the greater whole and to act holistically, recognizing a connection between ourselves and all we encounter.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Charitable Assumption

From the Rosetta Tarot, the Empress; from the Ascension to Paradise deck, the 'Tropicbird:'
          The Empress is the Great Mother, representing unconditional love, sensuality, pure emotion (rather than intellect) and creative potential. Being connected to Nature, she also has a chaotic side too; she is both the tornado that destroys and the life force that renews the land afterward. She embodies all emotions - not just the sweet ones. Unlike her husband the Emperor, she has nothing that keeps her in bounds. The Tropicbird is found around warm, tropical oceans. This plunge-diver is a strong flier and easily recognized by its tail streamers. Yet because its webbed feet are located far back on its body, the tropicbird has difficulty walking on land. Combined with the Empress, this bird suggests that our attachments may interfere with our clarity (fundamental attribution error). Social psychologists Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross believe wisdom is based on more than knowledge; it requires the ability to objectively consider what motivates others. Rather than simply judging others by their actions, they encourage each of us not to "rush to judgment about individuals until you know, and feel you truly appreciate, the situational forces and constraints that are making their influence felt." Sometimes it may be best to just make a charitable assumption. 

Friday, March 16, 2018


From the Rosetta Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the Ascension to Paradise deck, the 'Honeyguide:'
          The five cups are cracked, the vines are flowerless and brown, and there is no water in sight. No wonder the Thoth keyword for this card is 'disappointment.' The cups are in a downward-pointing pentagram arrangement. The pentagram can symbolize humans (think of yoga's Five-pointed Star), but in this case, it is upside down. Emotionally, things have turned us on our heads. We can react by going into a rage, burying our heads in the sand, or by grieving our loss and learning from it. The Honeyguide is a bird with a dark side. In a positive light, it leads people to wild honey sources (as this bird enjoys eating the wax comb). But it is also a brutal brood parasite; hatched in another specie's nest, it kills its nest mates soon after it hatches. We humans also are a mix of both positive attributes and negative patterns of behavior (which invariably leads to the Five of Cups). Seeing our part in things - even if it is only the type of people or situations we are drawn to - can help us replace old habits with more beneficial ones.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rest the Mind to Open It

From the Rosetta Tarot, the Four of Swords; from the Ascension to Paradise deck, the 'African Fish Eagle:'
          The exposed nerve endings on this Four of Swords suggest feeling as if one is walking around without skin - unprotected and overly sensitive to all the slings and arrows of day to day living. Thus this card emphasizes a need for a temporary respite from the chaotic mind. It isn't permanent, but a few moments strung together when all we do is concentrate on the breath (or some other focus that keeps us in the here and now). It opens us to spaciousness rather than staying in that familiar feeling of constriction. The African fish eagle swoops down to the water to catch its prey with sharp talons. If the fish is too heavy to lift back up into the air, it simply drags it across the water. When the weight is too great to get any lift for flight, the fish eagle will drop into the water and paddle to shore with its wings. This bird is a reminder not to get boxed in by a rigid way of doing things. Both cards suggest letting go of the 'right' way and allowing the mind to open to other possibilities. It may not look pretty or graceful, but if it gets the job done, it should still be worthy of consideration.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Clearing Out

From the Rosetta Tarot, the Aeon (Judgment); from the Ascension to Paradise deck, the 'Spoonbill:'
          In December of 1914, ten buildings that were part of Thomas Edison's plant caught fire. Fueled by chemicals, the fire was too powerful to put out quickly. Edison told his son, "Go get your mother and all her friends. They'll never see a fire like this again." When he objected, Edison said, "It's all right. We've just got rid of a lot of rubbish." The phoenix of the Aeon represents the same idea: the fire of liberation gets rid of what is dead and useless to allow transformation to occur. By releasing what was tightly held, we create space for a fresh perspective. The roseate spoonbill is often described as "gorgeous at a distance and bizarre up close." It uses its flattened, spoon-shaped bill to sift through the muck in shallow water to detect prey by feel. Its message is to sift and sort, keeping only what is worthwhile. In combination with the phoenix, there is a caution not to try to instantly fill the void with more stuff (material or otherwise). Instead, we should be prudent and selective about what we put in our newly cleared space.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Vibe Check

From the Rosetta Tarot, the Princess (Page) of Cups; from the Ascension to Paradise deck, the 'Cockatoo:'
          Tender and sensitive, it might be easy to dismiss this Page as too child-like to take seriously. Yet it is her emotional sensitivity that heightens her intuitive perception. She rarely misses subtle clues that others might not notice. She is a bit like the family pet who knows something is out of balance long before the human family members do. Cockatoos have been kept for their intelligence and engaging personalities. They are social birds and tend to live 30 to 70 years; if they are neglected or don't have enough to engage their curious natures, they can become very unhappy. As pets, they require a commitment for the long haul from their owners. This card combination suggests it is time to slow down and become aware of the emotional state of those around us. We may not be able to make someone else happy, but we can at least give them our compassionate attention and emotional support.