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, April 21, 2015

Let Love In

From the Prisma Visions Tarot, the Knight of Pentacles; from the Secret Language of Color Cards, "Pink:"
          Out of all the knights in this deck, this is the only one on a steed. But instead of a horse, the Knight of Pentacles sits astride a unicorn. How is it that the most practical, down-to-earth fellow finds himself riding a magical beast? Perhaps because he is loyal and true, hardworking and conscientious - his motives are pure. Yet instead of seeming awed by the unicorn, he focuses on the goal as if unaware of his good fortune.
The end of fear is where we begin
The moment we decided to let love in.
~ Goo Goo Dolls
          I'm good at giving, whether its time, gifts or energy. But even at my age, I hesitate when it comes to opening the protective wall around my emotions. If I take a chance on hugging someone, there is a fear I may be rebuffed. It is hard for me to say out loud what I feel, especially when it uncovers the soft spot in my heart. But Pink shows up today to remind me that feelings need to be expressed in more ways than what is practical and safe. It might even let me notice all the magic around me.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dangling the Bait

From the Prisma Visions Tarot, the Three of Swords; from the Secret Language of Color Cards, "Violet:"
          With the skulls on the hilt of the swords, there's no doubt what was intended for this poor buck. When someone intentionally harms me, how do I handle it? Usually not well. I get hooked by the story, like a fish who's taken the bait. Pema Chodron describes well what happens:
At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down. Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That’s the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us.
The key to getting off the hook is found in the symbol of the butterfly on the buck's antlers - my thoughts. If I stay in the story, I stay hooked on the line. But I can instead stay present in the moment, filling my senses with all that is around me. Which leads directly to the next card, Violet, and creating a balanced life. I may read tons of books on meditation and mindfulness, but I must put what I learn into practice if it is going to be helpful. Knowing is very different from doing. Meditation can help me relax and be receptive to what comes up without the habitual thoughts stuck on. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Right View

This week I'll be using the Prisma Visions Tarot, created and self-published by James R. Eads; the companion booklet was written by Katherine Tombs. The oracle I'll be using alongside it is the Secret Language of Color Cards, created by Inna Segal and published by Beyond Worlds. Today's draws are the Hermit and "Lilac:"
           A figure stands alone on a bridge in a solitary place in the dead of night. Eads suggests that in this still and quiet place it is possible to "uncloud your vision." His words make me think of the first point of the Eightfold Way: Right View ("right" meaning harmonious or appropriate). It is a way to see life just as it is, without being caught up in the memories of the past or the fantasies of the future. Like a compass, it can help me orient myself. With Right View, I am awake in the present moment, realizing it is always fluid and changing. I am open and receptive without trying to hide my head in the sand or numb myself from my experience. It also means I am aware that my choices will bear fruit, wholesome or unwholesome. In the Hermit's place of solitude, I can ask myself these questions suggested by Gil Fronsdal: Do I feel any stress, discomfort, or suffering in how I am relating to what’s happening or not happening? What is my contribution to this suffering? What am I clinging to that is contributing to the suffering? 
          Lilac is associated with strengthening my faith. Since I don't believe in a deity that physically intervenes in the world, what am I left with? The training of my mind. I am convinced that while I cannot erase the pain that naturally comes with a physical life, I can ease my suffering (my response to that pain). I always have a choice in how I view what life doles out. As Pema Chodron states:
We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.
Faith is being open to all of it, with my eyes wide open.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Be the Tortoise, Not the Hare

From the Tarot of the Masters, the Knight of Pentacles; from the Key to the Kingdom, the "Seven of Hearts:"
          As I sit with an ice pack on my back, I'm looking out the window at the bright green foliage in the yard. The thought crossed my mind that maybe I could do something outside today... But then the least impulsive of the knights showed up to suggest that cautiousness is the better way. If I want my body to heal, I've got to take things slow and not be in such a rush. The plants won't pull up roots and run off without me to tend them. As if to further make a point, the murdered Cock Robin makes an appearance. The Seven of Hearts reminds me of the Seven of Cups; the choices I make now will have consequences later. I suppose I worry that when the intense heat of summer arrives, I won't have the enthusiasm I do now for yard work. But if I don't take care of my body, it won't make a difference either way.

Edited to add some photos to appease my inner gardener:

Native red honeysuckle, potted ferns and flowers under dogwood, mondo grass around laceleaf Japanese maple, bark pathway, bird corner, sycamore tree with hydrangeas underneath.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Down, Kitty

From the Tarot of the Masters, Strength; from the Key to the Kingdom, the "Two of Clubs:"
          "No matter how calm and peaceful they might look, there is a killer inside each one," stated a National Geographic biologist studying lions. The same could be said of humans; everyone has a trigger that will wake up the beast inside. And though I believe that inner beast can be useful in protecting oneself and those who are vulnerable, it can also cause destruction and chaos when loosed in other arenas of our life. Some of my favorite verses on anger and hatred come from the Buddhist Dhammapada:
  • “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” 
  • “Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.”
  • “A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise.” 
The Two of Clubs card has been paired with the "Little Robin Redbreast" poem with a cat and bird playing "catch me if you can." Being owned by a pair of cats, I can attest to their hunting instinct. But because I'm also a bird lover, my two stay inside. Just because an instinct is "natural" doesn't mean I have to let it have free reign.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Monkey Sounds

From the Tarot of the Masters, the Three of Cups; from the Key to the Kingdom, the Four of Clubs:
We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place for those who love us.
 — Bernard of Clairvaux
          I thought this was a strange card for me to draw this morning. Yesterday I was out in the yard, lugging around some wet bags of pine bark mulch. As I was shaking the bark out of the bag, I heard a sound much like velcro ripping apart and I went down on my knees. Yes, I injured my back again. In the card, I see a woman next to a hookah. With my present pain level, I would very much like to imbibe in something that would send me to oblivion right now. But that is no longer an option for me. Instead, I must rely on friends and family to help me as I heal. I'm sure she must be lying on an ice pack with a bottle of ibuprofen in her hand.
I am a gold lock. I am a gold key.
I am a silver lock. I am a silver key.
I am a brass lock. I am a brass key.
I am a lead lock. I am a lead key.
I am a monk lock. I am a monkey.
          These silly verses remind me that while humans congratulate themselves on finding the answers to many questions, sometimes we don't use common sense. I knew better than to try and do all that heavy lifting in one day. But I wanted to finish what I started. The joke was on me of course; it will be weeks before I can lift anything. I am a monkey for sure. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Who's Quacking the Loudest?

From the Tarot of the Masters, the Five of Wands; from the Key to the Kingdom, the "Nine of Diamonds:"
          Ricklef's Five of Wands was inspired by Bosch's "Christ Carrying the Cross." All those men in the card are in my mind, each trying to argue louder than the other (as if that will make a difference). My desire is to keep working in the yard today: weeding, adding more mulch, clipping back brush. Yet I'm supposed to lead the discussion at book club today and the meditation group on Friday. The cat is out of his antibiotic, and I might have company coming this weekend (the house hasn't been cleaned in almost two weeks since all my efforts have been outdoors). Seeing the Nine of Diamonds made me think of the phrase, "get your ducks in a row." I need to rely on the two Ps today: priority and preparation. At the top of the list will be a trip to the vet, followed by finding and reviewing my notes for book club. I'll add more when those two are off the list.