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."

Monday, December 22, 2014

From Busyness to Stillness

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Lovers; from the Steps to Serenity, "Guidance:"
          My initial reaction to seeing this particular Lovers card was "ick." It looks like the cover of some trashy romance novel or a commercial for a soap opera, not anything real. Usually when I have such a strong reaction, there's more to what's going on than the obvious. Now that I've noticed the snake and apple below the couple, I'm convinced its because of the limited choices I feel are available to me for being with the people I care about. This time of year there are a lot of obligations, some enjoyable and some not so enjoyable. Add to that the health issues all of my family have dealing with, and I feel as if spending time with those whose company I most desire is almost a lost cause. But giving up is a choice too...
          In the 12 Step text of AA, there is a part that comes after the steps called "The Promises." One of these statements is: "We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us." That guidance is going to require some quietness and stillness on my part. In this place of openness, I may find I have more options than I think.
In the busyness of this day
grant me a stillness of seeing.
In the conflicting voices of my heart
grant me a calmness of hearing.
~ J. Philip Newell

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Paddle Faster?

From the Legacy of the Divine, the Three of Wands; from the Steps to Serenity, "In the Moment:"
          I do feel as if my ship has come in. Last night I got six hours of solid sleep without waking up in pain, using only Yogi herbal tea. I've been to see the doctor twice now and have been following all his instructions (though I am getting stir-crazy), and this morning I feel like I have finally turned a corner. But like the Three of Wands, though things appear good, this is just the initial results. I probably don't need to jump in and do all those activities that were left unfinished just yet. Instead, I can just enjoy feeling more like my old self again.
          For those of you who know me well, you know what a planner I am and how much I like organization. So even though my body has been forced to be still, my mind has been racing. Unfortunately, the problem with structured planning is that it often leads to expectations that may or may not be fulfilled. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever had anything turn out exactly like I planned it. Which then makes me want to paddle that boat even harder and faster. But what I really need to do is slow down and take a deep breath. Being too much in my head instead of attending to my body is what got me in this mess. There's plenty in this moment to appreciate and enjoy; no need to run off to the future quite yet.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

One of the "Nones"

This week I'll be using the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, created and self-published by Ciro Marchetti (with a mass market edition published by Llewellyn). I'll also be using Steps to Serenity, a deck I made for myself that is based around the principles of the 12 Step program. Today's draws are Faith (Hierophant) and "Prayer:"
          In Marchetti's image of Faith, members of the four major religions stand in front of a column of light. The column implies that there is a similar thread that runs through all religions and philosophies if you dig past the rituals and dogma. I am reminded by this card of the long journey I've traveled to find the "right" faith. What I discovered instead is that none of them are a good fit for me. I am one of the "Nones" - a group which considers itself spiritual but not religious. Without a religious label, I can follow moral principles without dogma; I can believe in Something greater than myself without having to use a prepackaged definition. Though I no longer believe any religion is the one true religion, I do think there are some messages of truth to be found in each one. And I can use practices and tools from these various belief systems to keep me spiritually grounded in the every day world. I also find it necessary to associate with like-minded individuals who can keep me from rationalizing and glossing over my self-centered actions.
          Prayer is a bit of a buggerboo for me. I don't believe in a deity that interferes in an individual person's life, at least not on the physical plane. I do however feel that I can receive guidance, strength and peace from Something greater than me. I "pray" using tonglen meditation and loving-kindness meditation, and I ask for those who I know are suffering to be blessed. This type of "prayer" lets others know they are not alone, reminds me of a kindness I might do for them and helps me remember that I'm not the only one who suffers in this world.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Triage for the Heart

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Ace of Cups; from the Beasts of Albion, "Hare:"
          The Ace of Cups represents an offering of deep joy, love, devotion and compassion. But it is a gift I must be willing to use, to take the time to sip from it. Above all, I must not let others drink as much as they'd like from my cup if I'm parched myself. Sound selfish? There's a saying in 12 Step groups: First Things First. Before I help others, I need to take care of myself - do what will enable me to survive and thrive. This is my responsibility, not the duty of someone else; I must attend to my own emotional and spiritual needs. There's no way I can be of benefit to others if I'm running on empty.  
          Because of its natural habit of being able to reproduce at astonishing numbers, the hare has often been seen as a symbol of fecundity and abundance. Gray also brings up the saying "Mad as a March hare," and likens it to wild inspiration that rises like sap. But for it to be expressed in a useful way, this fertility must have some boundaries. There needs to be some kind of support that will sustain what is produced. A starving animal will not be able to care for its young, and they too will die. Don't think of it as selfishness, think of it as triage for the heart and soul. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Spark or Fuel?

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Knight of Wands; from the Beasts of Albion, the "Cow:"
          These two card draws seem very opposite to me; the characters in them are even facing opposite directions (except the calf). The Knight of Wands is full of stimulating conversation, innovative ideas and fiery enthusiasm. But he's not always your best bet to manifest those concepts into concrete designs; he's more like the match that lights the fire. The Cow, however, is the nurturer and sustainer. Creating and raising what the Knight inspired will be up to her. At times I have been in the Knight's saddle, poking others with my wand of inspiration. Yet I have friends who have fired me up about a creative project then encouraged me to run with it. I'm not sure if I'll need a saddle or a milking stool today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Life Well Lived

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the King of Wands; from the Beasts of Albion, the "Squirrel:"
           His queen is fond of saying "follow your passion," but the King of Wands would tell you to achieve it as well. Some people might get lost in the forest along the way, but this King will climb a tree and make sure he's heading in the right direction. Unlike his son the knight, he won't start then stop something because it's lost its allure. He believes a life well lived means seeing things through, no matter how many challenges you might face. "Dream," he tells me, "then get off your bum and make it real."
          In Norse mythology, a squirrel (Ratatosk) ran the gauntlet of the World Tree, carrying messages to the eagle in the top branches and the serpent at its roots. Squirrel teaches the importance of communication, balancing the different levels of one's life and resourcefulness. Sitting still and expecting someone else to handle everything won't work; I need to be involved and put forth an effort. Otherwise, the "I" will be taken out of passion, leaving only "pass on."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Healing and Humor

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the King of Pentacles; from the Beasts of Albion deck, the "Fox:"
          This king sits under an apple tree (suggesting health), holding a coin (implying financial stability) while in the middle of a field with red poppy-like flowers (indicating comfort). I am reminded by this card how much more is represented by wealth than just dollars and cents. I am hoping his appearance means I'll be given some direction on how to care for my back and nerve pain. I've never experienced chronic pain like this before, and it has made me feel a great deal of compassion for those who do.
          When I saw the card with Fox, I was curious about the mirror in which he seems to be peering. In her companion book Gray writes, "By meeting your own reflection, Fox teaches you the ability to laugh at yourself and your mistakes, and to view life with humor and appreciation." Pain and stress contract my my muscles and my mind. Humor helps me relax and find a brief respite. Larry P. Aitken (Chippewa) once wrote, " the Old Ones say that one of the greatest healing powers in our life is the ability to laugh." I tend to agree with that wisdom.