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."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Enthusiasm with Experience

The week I'll be using the Shining Tribe Tarot, a deck and book set created by Rachel Pollack and published by Llewellyn. The oracle I'll be using is a wooden set of Animal Tiles, hand pyroetched by my multi-talented friend Carole. My draws this morning were the Place of Trees (Page of Wands) and the "Green Anole:"
 In the Shining Tribe, Pollack uses places to represent the Pages of each suit; this card reminds me of an Eden-like garden. Like the Page, I am most enthusiastic when I have a purpose. And when I am without one for any length of time then suddenly discover one, it does feel like finding an oasis in a desert. Such a purpose may involve learning about and enjoying the wonders of what is around me, working on a creative project, or being of service to others. It fuels my inner fire and makes me want to be alive.
The green anole is a small lizard found in temperate areas of the South. The male, with his extended, pink dewlap, is quite like the over-confident Page who exclaims, "Look at me! Look at what I know and can do!" The big difference is the Page doesn't have enough life experience to have produced a lot of common sense. The green anole on the other hand has developed coping mechanisms to survive. He can change from bright green to dark brown when he needs to blend in to his surroundings, and he has an autotomic tail that will break off and continue to move to distract predators. This lizard's arrival suggests I need to have a protective back-up plan before I dive into anything. Over-confidence and excitement can lead me into situations where I am taken advantage of or overspend when it comes to energy, time or money.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wash It Off

From the Tarot of Durer, the King of Swords; from the Philosopher's Stone, "Self:"
As a child, did you ever find some treasure half-buried in the dirt while playing outside? If so, I bet the first thing you did was wipe or wash the dirt away so you could see clearly what you uncovered. That's what the King of Swords asks me to do in order to see a situation clearly. I must not rely on similar situations or be influenced by my emotional reactions. I need detachment in order to see with impartiality what is in the here and now.
Good grief, look at the size of that boulder in the Philosopher's Stone card. The Self image represents my personal identity or ego. All the experiences I've had and my perception of them create this ego. No matter what new thing happens, it wants to pull out picture books of the past and convince me that I should continue expecting more of the same. If I listen to my ego, I'll probably create a self-fulfilling prophecy instead of seeing the reality of the present moment. The King would tell me to shelve those books and take notes on what's happening now. Otherwise, I'll spend all my time wallowing in fear or resentment instead of enjoying what is right under my nose.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Emergency Preparedness

From the Tarot of Durer, the Two of Swords; from the Philosopher's Stone, "Insight:"
Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place... This hen must decide whether to stay and protect her egg from the fox (and likely become its dinner) or fly away and save herself. Like her predicament, we may find ourselves in an emotionally charged situation with no easy answer. It would be nice to have time to mull things over, but the hungry look in that fox's eyes suggests she better not wait too long.
The Insight card reminds me of the eye pillows I made for my yoga buddies one year with flax seed and dried lavender. They were a physical aid to shut out the visual field and move our focus within. This kind of inner attention may result in what some folks call a spiritual nudge, intuition or "listening to their gut." Its purpose is to find guidance that is helpful (though perhaps not perfect) and prevent an emotional reaction (which is often detrimental). In the hen's situation, she's got a few seconds at the most to make a decision. In such cases, I find having a way to center myself quickly, such as with a breathing technique or a mantra, can be immensely helpful. But it generally only works well if I've been practicing it regularly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Adding a Suit

From the Tarot of Durer, the Queen of Swords; from the Philosopher's Stone, "Complement:"
All of the queens have the ability to nurture and encourage according to their suit. The Queen of Cups lets me know when I'm not being kind (to myself or others). The Queen of Pentacles reminds me when I'm being impractical. The Queen of Wands will push me to be more assertive when I'm too passive. And the Queen of Swords points out when I've given false thoughts free rent in my head. When I am spiraling out of control, I imagine she would tell me to play detective and ask myself questions similar to these from J.C. Peters:
  • What thought is contributing to this feeling?
  • What evidence do I have that this thought is true?
  • What else could be going on?
  • What evidence do I have for those alternatives?
The pieces of boulder on the Philosopher's Stone card is similar to a jigsaw puzzle; they fit together nicely. In considering the four queens above, they also complement and balance each other out. It made me stop and think if the friends I have (people I look to for advice) could be sorted this way. If not, I might benefit by adding in the missing suit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Keep Plodding Along

From the Tarot of Durer, the Chariot; from the Philosopher's Stone, "Depth:"
A man on his way to sell his goods at the market is slowed down by his wife's chatter. She's not worried about time constraints or what he might get in trade, she's focused on him attending to the gossip while he's in town. The Latin phrase associated with the Durer Chariot is "Those who are everywhere are nowhere." Unlike the rat on the tree limb who grabs her food and takes it immediately to her den, this man is distracted from his task. Likewise, my mind can easily be led astray. I can't count how many times I've sat down to "quickly" check my email, then found myself still in front of the glowing monitor an hour or two later. I need self-discipline to stay on course.
The Depth card shows the stone man with a large boulder and a much smaller rock in front of him. No matter what we are trying to accomplish, there will always be challenges to face along the way. But sometimes I get caught up in things that are in the past (and need to stay there) or situations that are none of my business. Before I get sidetracked from my task, I need to see the depth of what has caught my attention. How important is it, really? Of course some of these will be responsibilities I need to deal with, but if it's just a little mud puddle, I need to keep plodding along.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Coddling My Own Opinion

From the Tarot of Durer, the Emperor; from the Philosopher's Stone, "Solution:"
This is a rather jolly looking Emperor; the Latin phrase below his throne reads: "No person can lead well unless he has learned to obey." I would guess that this guy wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has experienced the same sort of life of his subjects, and he knows intimately the kind of daily challenges they must face. The vulture (who dines on road kill) suggests the Emperor knows how to be content with what is available. Several years ago we had a fellow running for the office of U.S. President. His net worth was conservatively estimated to be at $250 million. He owned three homes, one a summer compound worth $8 million. Had this man ever faced real hunger? Did he ever have to choose which bill not to pay because he had an unexpected medical expense? Was he ever without a job and worried about his family being homeless? My guess would be that he had not; he had little in common with the people he wanted to preside over. No wonder he didn't get elected.
The Solution card shows a stone in the shape of a Century Gothic question mark from the front, yet its shadow casts the shape of an exclamation point. In chemistry, a solution is two or more substances evenly mixed together. It suggests brainstorming, where even the wildest ideas are considered in order to find one that helps fix the problem. These two cards suggest I need a wide perspective to find the answers I seek, which will involve listening with an open mind. Coddling my own opinion will only keep me staring at that stone wall.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Crack in the Facade

From the Tarot of Durer, the Seven of Wands; from the Philosopher's Stone, "Tension:"
The booklet that comes with the Durer explains this card as "the ability to act and avoid problems." Yet this guy is sitting on his bum and has hidden most of his body behind his shield. There doesn't seem to be anything that suggests being proactive, instead he appears to be hoping the lion on his shield will scare people away so he can continue to sit there. He's living in the illusion that if he pretends there's nothing to deal with, maybe it will just go away on its own. However, he's got himself sandwiched between a row of staffs and a shield which tells me on some level he knows otherwise.
The boulder and earth seem to be having such an effect on each other that a fissure has developed. When we experience a healthy dose of adrenaline, we get pumped up to take flight or fight. Either way, we are dealing with the situation that confronts us. But the Philosopher's Stone card shows what happens when the stress becomes so great that we freeze instead. We start coming apart physically, emotionally and mentally. My advice to the soldier would be to do something, anything, that is different from his habitual reaction. The result can't be much worse than what's about to happen now.