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, January 16, 2017

But Did You Die?

From the Nature Spirit Tarot, the Eight of Swords; from the Australian Wildflower Cards, Royal Bluebell:
          Our mind can be the wellspring of wonderful ideas, but it also has the power to immobilize us, just as the black widow spider's web seems to be doing to the anemones (aka windflowers). The fears and insecurities that grow there can develop into a feeling of vulnerability and indecision. According to Greek mythology, the anemone flower grew from Aphrodite's tears when her beloved Adonis was killed by a boar. I was listening to a talk by Vidyamala Burch, and she said we often deal with great loss or drastic change in two ways: blocking or drowning. We may try to block (deny) it through busyness or a myriad of addictive behavior patterns (shopping, alcohol, etc.). On the other hand, we may decide the pain we feel is all that there is and choose to drown in it. We withdraw and lose all sense of perspective. The generosity of the Royal Bluebell suggests we not be so frugal with the possibilities of our mind. There is room to accept our loss with room for joy too. When we expand our mind, we also find alternatives and resources to help us adapt and accept reality. A friend who works at a wildlife park told me a phrase the employees often say to each other: "But did you die?" It isn't meant to invalidate a terrible experience, but to remind the other that they are still alive and thus have the freedom to choose how they respond from this point on.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Watering the Roots

This week I'll be using the Nature Spirit Tarot, a book and deck set created and self-published by Jean Marie Herzel. I'll also be drawing from the Australian Wildflower Reading Cards, a set created by Cheralyn Darcey and published by Rockpool. Today's cards are the Four of Swords and the Native Passionflower:
          The Swords suit in this deck is primarily represented by the prairie coneflower (aka 'Mexican hat), a drought-tolerant plant. Yet every plant eventually needs a deep drink of water, just as humans all require some quiet and rest to stay sane. The praying mantis represents the stillness this card encourages, and the lily of the valley (in the window) symbolizes stopping to notice and enjoy the sweetness in life. The northern red oak the mantis rests on has a deep tap root as well as extensive lateral roots; it is a reminder to ground ourselves in order to stay balanced in our busy lives. The acorns on this tree require two years to develop before they are mature, suggesting rest can't be rushed. How is it that our society today has decided grown-ups don't get to play or take time off except when we go on vacation (often with the people who stress us out the most)? Even weekends seem relegated to fulfilling obligations rather than taking a time-out. The Native Passionflower card brings the message that "Love starts from within and grows out." There is nothing self-indulgent about taking care of one's body, mind and spirit. A dead tree has no shade to offer or fruit to give anyone; self-compassion requires that I keep my own roots watered if I want to be helpful or effective in whatever I do.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Smart or Sexy?

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Queen of Swords; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, Choice:
          This Queen of Swords has the exact scene from the Lovers card in her window. Yet she appears serene without needing all the hot and heavy passion (like the dove resting by her arm). She's an intellect who'd rather be honest than have a mouth full of sugar lumps, but that doesn't mean she's heartless. She can't afford for her her heart to sit on the throne; too much could go wrong. The Choice card makes me think of two roads - one full of passion and turmoil and one that has less drama and more discernment. Is excitement and chaos better than logic and harmony? I was attracted to my husband because he was a reader and could discuss what he read. The romance came later. I've always thought you could teach a smart man (if he were also kind) how to be a good lover, but I'm not so sure that works in reverse.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Protective Gardener

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Empress; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, Trouble:
          The Empress' star-like earring and a phrase from the booklet ('pregnant with possibilities') seems a callback to yesterday's card, the Star. While she holds the emotional reins in her marriage, the pentacle she wears testifies to her concern with all things earthly and creative as well. Like the soil beneath her, she provides a safe haven for things to awaken and develop. I'm impressed that a mockingbird (a bird well known for aggressively defending his winter food supply) offers her a berry. Even he knows which side of his bread is buttered. Don't forget to feed this nurturing, creative side, he reminds me. The Trouble card shows an apple with a beetle and worm on it. Beside it sits a hickory nut; unlike the fruit, its hard shell protects what is tender inside. It is easy to become so absorbed in whatever my 'garden' is growing, I forget to keep an eye out for the pests who would destroy it. Often it is not the outer challenges that can ruin all that is good, but the destructive thoughts and negative emotions I allow to wander unattended in my head. The nut's hard shell represents my awareness that can prevent a small bug from growing into a large bear.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wide Range of Possibilities

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Star; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, Expectation:
          I must say I was glad to see the optimism and hope reflected in the Star card appear, though my enthusiasm was dampened a bit by the Expectation card. The opening verse of the Dhammapada states: "Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think." (Another translation says: "All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind.") It is tempting to do as some New Age movements and translate this into a philosophy that says "If you think it, you can have it," as if whatever you want will be given to you if you frame it in a positive light. Yet the Buddha was actually saying that our cognitive patterns shape the kind of mental experience we have. If your mind's habits are like Eeyore's, then you'll have an Eeyore attitude in response to your world. Now there's nothing wrong with positive thinking - it just means you aren't expecting doom and gloom. And having hope that is not attached to a certain outcome lightens the spirit considerably. This kind of hope allows us to lift our eyes and hearts to the fact that the future is unknown, which means it has a wider range of possibilities than my ego can come up with.
The Buddha’s view on positive thinking was that if it violates reality, it’s worthless. ~ Bodhipaksa

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Leave the Swords Behind

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Six of Swords; from L'Oeil de Lotus, Interdiction:
          This dancer, in a type of arabesque pose, could almost be a weather vane. His back arm and leg point toward a pole with a caduceus on top. An article I recently read stated that this symbol was used during Roman times like a white flag (an emblem of peace or neutrality); the bearer using it could deliver a message to the enemy without being harmed. In 1902, the Surgeon General chose it rather than the Staff of Asklepios (a symbol of healing) for himself and the US Army Medical Corps to signify them as noncombatants. It is interesting that the Six of Swords represents a movement in attitude and thought, yet the Interdiction card (with a sign that says 'Road Closed') indicates preventing the movement of someone or something. Perhaps it is a message to look at how I turn and move away - my motive for leaving. Does my departure look like someone huffing, stomping their feet and slamming the door on the way out? Are there any hints of passive-aggression? The swords on the ground (an agenda) suggest I leave empty-handed, without slashing anything or anyone on the way out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


From the Cosmic Tarot, the Prince (Knight) of Pentacles; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, Force:
         This Knight reminds me of a long-haired, young Clark Gable, perhaps best known for his line in Gone with the Wind: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." His character in the story, Rhett Butler, predicted the South would never win the Civil War. Butler was one of the few characters clear-eyed enough to see Southerners and their "cause" for the romanticized self-centeredness it was. Though his Achilles's heel was Scarlet, he eventually left her, choosing real life over drama. This Knight likes his feet firmly planted in the ground with concrete tasks to do and goals to attain. But the bull (and sun) in Force point out his stubborn side. Just because he has a plan doesn't mean he can bulldoze other people into accepting it. Anyone who's ever had to manage employees will instantly recognize his dilemma. In order to get anything accomplished, he's going to have to be willing to be flexible and learn how to compromise.