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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Sword in the Heart

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Three of Swords; from Rory's Story Cubes, Fear:
          What first struck me about these three swords is the faces on them are smiling. But isn't that how some of us cover our sadness instead of crying? Take a look at the blades: one has a vampire-like figure, another appears to represent our nurturing/mothering side, and the last is a volcano exploding. People who "feed" on us, people/projects we nurture, and people/situations that fill us with rage - all ways we can feel overwhelmed. Yet my Buddhist training reminds me I am not the only person who suffers (note the four colors behind the swords). And I have some responsibility to take, not for the actions of others, but for the way I've been hooked. Those stories I tell myself keep me anxious (as the Fear cube shows) thinking "something bad will happen" if I don't keep all my balls in the air. And after a while that defeated, fearful feeling can begin to feel like sorrow. As Pema Chodron suggests, I need to stop narrating and pay attention to what's really important:
 If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart...  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tight Spaces

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Five of Wands; from Rory's Story Cubes, Turtle:
          It appears the Wand family have been packed into tight quarters. They look like the plants at Lowes; crammed so closely together, only the outer ones have the best room and light to grow. If in tight quarters with friends, family or co-workers, it's easy to step on each others' toes. Confined spaces make it apparent what you don't have in common, and how each person sees and does things differently from the next. It can be a chance to learn how to do things in a new way or how to see from a new perspective. But sometimes it is just suffocating. The Turtle cube looks like a photo my mom sent me of a box turtle in her yard. Every year she has them, as they travel away from their home base to lay their eggs. I get the pond sliders in my yard, traveling away from the pond. Turtle suggests - especially when we are doing something creative - we may occasionally need to find our own space to hang out in for a while.
Eastern Box Turtle
Females can produce eggs up to 4 years after mating!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Banks and Books

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the King of Pentacles; from Rory's Story Cubes, Book:
          I normally like the King of Pentacles, but this guy feels a little icky. I think it must be the microphone; it appears he's about to do an info-mericial. He reminds me of the TV preachers who sell prayer cloths or of a certain presidential candidate touting his wealth as proof he should be elected. This King might have the money, but I'm not so sure about his generous, kind nature. I'm fairly certain if this guy gives you a hand up, he's going to expect a hefty payback at a high interest rate. And even then, you may never get away from his influence. The Book cube reminded me of a woman from the book club I attend. The discussion one day turned to why most Jewish people were so intelligent and well educated. She (a Reform Jew) told us that the Jewish people have always been persecuted and run out of many countries. One of the few treasures they could always take with them was knowledge. The card and cube together illustrate a quote by Frank Baum: "No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Another Look at Balance

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Two of Pentacles; from Rory's Story Cubes, Arch:
          This is the third card I've drawn this week that relates to balance. With the Two of Pentacles, its focus is squarely in the realm of the physical. It's time to audit how I "spend" my finances, health, energy and time. The coins and lace appear to overlay a galaxy in the background, suggesting I look at the bigger picture. There will always be some sort of crisis going on, in my life or the life of someone I care about. Even in these situations, I am cautioned not to become overloaded and drain my account dry. The Arch resembles a gateway into a temple; if seems to be an invitation to cross into a different mental space. I'm currently reading a book by Ezra Bayda in which he offers a twist on the question, "How would you spend your time if you only had one day to live?" Instead he asks what would you do different - how would you change your routine and normal response to life - if you knew you would have to live this way eternally? Now that was a slap upside the head for me. I would place my health and spiritual practice higher on my priority list, and I would have more fun. As the saying goes, there's no time like the present.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Soup Ingredients

From the Neuzeit Tarot, Temperance; from Rory's Story Cubes, Cauldron:
          Taking the middle path is not an easy road. Those who are aggressive and natural leaders (wolf) might seem they have the upper hand, yet the fly agaric mushroom points to intoxication (of power) that can cause that person to become completely self-centered (making more enemies than friends). On the other end are those who are submissive followers (sheep); they prefer to let the herbal flowers relax them since someone else will take responsibility. They tell themselves they are unselfish, but their sacrifices are purely those of a martyr. But Temperance mixes both these extremes, knowing that we are often called to play different roles at different times - student or teacher, benefactor or recipient, hero or sidekick.
          The cauldron reminded me of making a pot of soup; everyone seems to have a preference for one kind over another. I detest potato soup, but I love both homemade vegetable and chicken and rice. It might seem nice if we got to structure our days like we made our preferred soups, putting in only the ingredients we liked and leaving out what we didn't. But then I would never meet anyone who didn't like my particular soup, and I would never get to try new soups. Thankfully, life isn't set up that way, and I shouldn't expect it to be. The world is a natural mix of unpleasant and pleasant, and I can better navigate both by avoiding the extremes.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Double Rainbow

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Seven of Cups; from Rory's Story Cubes, Rainbow:
          Above these seven cups is an eye shining down upon them. Throughout various cultures and religions, the eye symbol has been seen as providence, wisdom, compassion and protection. The Hindu god Shiva was said to have a third eye in his forehead; when opened, it destroyed everything it saw. The meaning behind this mythology was that through spiritual perception, ignorance could be eliminated. Basically, though we think our senses show us what is real, our memories and emotions taint our perception. We see what we think we should see, or what we want to see. I wonder if it is even possible for humans to truly be objective? The rainbow is seen in both the card and die chosen. In the card, the light from the eye filters through the clouds to create the colors, suggesting our different perceptions. After choosing the die, I had a line from a Katy Perry song running through my head: "after the hurricane, comes the rainbow." Maybe the promise isn't so much that bad things will never happen again (they will), but that it's the hard times that can help us see more clearly what's really important. When the outer, glitzy trappings are removed, what's worth saving?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

An Unenviable Job

This week I'll be using the Neuzeit Tarot created by Walter Wegmuller and published by AG Muller. The "oracle" I'll be using is a combination of two sets of dice: Rory's Story Cubes and Rory's Story Cubes - Voyages.  These dice were created by Rory O'Connor and produced by Gamewright. Today's card and die are Justice and Cactus:
          I've always thought that Justice was a lot like Temperance, as far as keeping things in balance goes. But with Justice, her primary concern is with how someone's personal imbalance negatively affects the world or infringes on the rights of others. Wegmuller's Justice has bare feet, and I attribute that to her being grounded and practical. She's not concerned with silly tit for tat kind of stuff but with actions that can be game-changers. I couldn't help think of a couple of politicians here in the States who have openly declared that the global warming problem to be a hoax. They refuse to believe humans are affecting the climate change. Of course if they did admit it, then they would have to respond with responsible action to fix it. Ms. Justice, please take that big honking sword of yours and bop some sense in them.
          A cactus is a plant that has adapted to an extremely dry environment. Its thick, fleshy stem and modified leaves (spines) are all an attempt to conserve water. Its prickly nature shows what results when people are told to "just get over it" or "learn to deal with it." Entitled behavior means someone gains and someone loses, and that never works out well for anyone. Then it's up to people like civil rights activists and those advocating for gun restrictions to help re-balance the power and privileges. Justice, I don't envy you your job.