I use tarot and oracle cards as a tool for self-inventory. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ruby Lips and Ivory Pearls

From the Rohrig Tarot, the Queen of Wands; from the Master Tarot, "The Pearl:"
          I can hear the Eagles singing about this queen: Raven hair and ruby lips, sparks fly from her finger tips. There's  no doubt this woman has a sex appeal, but getting a man is not her objective. She uses her allure and charisma to charm people to do what she wants. See that key in her hat/crown? She knows it doesn't matter what gender someone is; if you give them the right kind of attention they'll follow you anywhere. She can ferret out their ego's needs, and she'll use just the right words to captivate them. By the time she's worked her magic, they'll ask "How high?" when she says "Jump."
          The parable of the pearl tells of a merchant who finds a pearl of great worth and sells all his merchandise to purchase it. The lesson behind it is to stop being distracted by what's bright and shiny and look for what has enduring, true value. I can see two possible messages behind these cards. The first is that sensual and magnetic appeal can only last for so long. Looks fade, and eventually words will be questioned. Sincere kindness however, will stand the test of time. The second meaning could be that I need to investigate what has caught my eye and check it's true worth.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Failing Passively

From the Rohrig Tarot, the Seven of Wands; from the Master Tarot, "All Drunk:"
          This Seven of Wands is striking, as it shows a man taking a huge risk as he makes a leap. There will be no consolation prize or any award for congeniality if he doesn't make it. Such valor (the subtitle of this card) requires an unshakable faith that what he's doing is the right way of doing it. He's taking action according to his own set of principles and ideas in attaining a goal or in a creative adventure. Confidence, energy and enthusiasm will work along with courage to help him safely soar over that gap.
          Have you ever had an exciting opportunity present itself, but then an icy, cold fear sets in because you worry about failing? The All Drunk card shows several guys who don't want to think about such things, so they find a way to forget. Drugs and alcohol are chemical ways to bring on this state, but there are a myriad of other escapes - sitting in front of the TV or computer for hours on end, getting involved in emotional drama, or simply staying in bed are some other options. But if that guy isn't sober and at the top of his game, he'll never clear that chasm. Allowing myself to be frozen by fear is just a passive acceptance of failure. In the long run, that regret will probably outweigh all of my worries.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fulcrum of Fairness

This week I'll be using the Rohrig Tarot, created by Carl W. Rohrig and published by Sirio. I also have a companion book written by the artist and Francesca Marzano-Fritz and published by Bluestar Communications. The other deck I'll be drawing from is called a tarot, but I'll be using it as an oracle: the Master Tarot. It was created by Amerigo Folchi and Mario Montano and published by AG Muller. Today's cards are Justice and "Barabbas:"
          If you were to take the Fool out of the tarot deck, then place the first ten major arcana cards on one side and the last ten on the other, number eleven would fall right in the middle. Justice would be the fulcrum the other cards balance on, much like the scales the lady holds. Every card has its extreme, a point where it veers off the middle path. The Empress can be a nurturer or an over-protective control freak; the Hermit can use solitude as a time for reflection or as isolation. Justice reminds me to take a hard look at my opinions and ideas. They should be tested and weighed, then adjusted or abandoned as necessary to maintain objectivity.
          Here's a shifty-eyed fellow wearing a "wife-beater" and holding a chain. I would guess there would be an all-points bulletin out on him somewhere. He represents Barabbas of the gospels, an insurrectionist condemned to die. In the story, the Roman governor of Judea offered the crowd the choice of letting one man go free - Jesus or Barabbas. The crowd chose to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus. The story was a nifty way for the Christians to imply it wasn't the Romans who caused the crucifixion of their leader, but the Jews who clamored for his death. The story implies manipulating the government, yet the account itself aims to manipulate the reader. My fixed ideas can radically weight the scales of justice in favor of my opinions. If I don't want to be exploited by my own mind, I need to rebuild the fulcrum of fairness.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Use: (verb) to employ, to put into service.

From the Via Tarot, the Fool; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Parsley:"
          Spirit becomes matter as the Fool enters the material world. Seeing (as the authors describe it) the "sheer joy of existence" expressed on his face, makes me think of Joseph Campbell's quote, "Follow your bliss, and doors will open for you that you never knew existed." But with a dog about to sink its teeth into his bum, I think of Sarah Ban Breathnach's words, "Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren't any dragons." And therein lies the human conundrum - we want fun and excitement, but we also want safety and security. But this Fool has spiritual tools aplenty (though he may not be aware of them yet). The lion and ouroboros represent a continuous supply of inner strength. The caduceus (a gift of goodwill from Apollo to Hermes) symbolizes the friendships that will nurture and sustain him. The flower buds (with eyes on them) suggest passion and vision, yet they are also a reminder that this life comes with an expiration date.
          Petroselinium crispum, or common parsley, was an herb used by the Romans during banquets. They thought if it was worn on the head, it would prevent intoxication. Today I often see sprigs of it decorating the plates of a main dinner dish at restaurants. Most people tend to view it as a colorful garnish, but if chewed, this herb will help with bad breath from food odors such as garlic. Both these cards encourage me to be aware of the gifts and tools I have for navigating this life, but more importantly to use them.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Finding Something to be Grateful For

From the Via Tarot, the Nine of Cups; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Queen Anne's Lace:"
          The woman at the bottom of the Nine of Cups reminds me of Atlas; she holds up not only cups, but a body of water as well. The Thoth tradition labels this card "Happiness," and seeing her effort reminds me that contentment doesn't appear just because I stick my hand out waiting for it. The woman at the top with the downward-pointing sword underscores the importance of my thoughts in creating my own happiness. It is gray, chilly and rainy this morning. It is also the burial day of a man who was kind to me at a point in my life when I really needed a friend.
          Daucus carota is a type of wild carrot with finely divided, lacy leaves. Its flat cluster of small white flowers fold up as it ages, making it resemble a bird's nest. Like the cultivated carrot, it is a rich source of beta carotene. However the herb's root becomes too woody to consume unless it is harvested early. Such a time constraint suggests I need to actively look and hold on to beauty, joy and satisfaction when it is available. These good memories and a dose of gratitude can nurture and sustain me when those gray, rainy days come around.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fall from Idealism

From the Via Tarot, the Prince (Knight) of Wands; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Arnica:"
           Here in South Georgia, we have people who harvest "fat lighter" from the stumps of pine trees that have been cut down. This resin-filled heartwood lights quickly, is wind resistant, and burns hot enough to light larger pieces of wood. It's not a great wood for campfires or bonfires though, because it burns up too quickly. I see the Prince of Wands as a sort of fire starter, an idealist who is passionate about the causes he defines as worthy. Yet elementally he is "Air of Fire," meaning he enjoys pontificating and stirring the pot. Like the quick-burning fat lighter, his enthusiasm doesn't extend to the hard work of creating a solution.
          Arnica is an herb in the sunflower family. Its botanical name may be derived from the Greek arni, meaning "lamb," in reference to the plant's soft, hairy leaves. Though toxic when taken internally, arnica has been known as the "tumbler's cure-all" - an external treatment for bruises, sprains and muscle aches. This pair of cards make me think of my fall from idealism. Like most young people, I had great expectations about changing the world when I was in my twenties. But now I relate more to the words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky: "For, after all, you do grow up, you do outgrow your ideals, which turn to dust and ashes, which are shattered into fragments." At this stage of life, maybe I should just concentrate on changing me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cooling the Fevered Brow

From the Via Tarot, the Queen of Swords; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Feverfew:"
          With an upraised sword in one hand and a severed head in the other, this queen reminds me of Kali, Hindu goddess of power and change. The dripping head represents the ego, the part of me that is self-absorbed and only likes change if I would personally benefit from it. In the companion book, the authors describe the Queen of Swords as having an intellect "liberated from the constraints of habit." In other words, she doesn't fall into a predictable pattern of behavior when certain situations arise. There are no buttons to push to get a reaction from her.
          Feverfew is an herb I've grown in my garden in years past, primarily because it was supposed to be helpful in preventing migraines (though I didn't find it useful in this regard). Described as an anti-inflammatory by early medicinal herbalists, Chrysanthemum parthenium got its common name because it was believed to reduce fevers. The combination of the queen above and this plant suggests to me that passion does not necessarily equal objectivity, truth and justice. Sometimes I need to allow my adrenaline rush to subside in order to see and understand with clarity.