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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

At the Root of Things

From the Anna K. Tarot, the High Priestess; from the Meditation Cards, Root System:
          When the night is dark, the moon shines brightly in the sky. Likewise, the High Priestess knows that it is within our own darkness that we find insight and illumination. Anna describes the priestess as being able to "sit still and watch changes with compassion and serenity," and I would add with wisdom as well. From observing the mind, she knows that thoughts and emotions are just as transient as everything in the material world. The Root System card has quotes from Bodhidharma and Pema Chodron:
The mind is the root from which all things grow. If you 
can understand the mind, everything else is included.
May they be free of suffering and the root of suffering;
may they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
What is currently growing from your mind? Just how solid do we think our thoughts and beliefs are? The root of suffering for me is trying to cling to what I love and enjoy while trying to avoid everything I find unpleasant. The root of happiness is to accept rather than fight reality, having the wisdom to know what can be changed and what can't, and being courageous to make changes in myself when needed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


From the Anna K. Tarot, the Page of Wands; from the Meditation Cards, Energy Use:
          Have you seen the t-shirt that says "Runs with scissors?" It was made for this Page. He's an extreme risk-taker, boundary-breaker and adventure-seeker. He simply can't leave things alone without investigating and poking at them a bit. Already he's scouting out an escape route from the castle so he can go explore the countryside. The Page of Wands would immediately understand the thoughts of  Ursula K. Le Guin, "I am tired of safe places, and roofs, and walls around me." He will never be a boring child, and he definitely wears out any guardian that tries to keep up with him. The card Energy Use is paired with a poem from Rumi:
You have the energy of the sun in you, 
but you keep knotting it up at the base of your spine. 
You're some weird kind of gold
 that wants to stay melted in the furnace,
so you won't have to become coins.
What is it that makes that Page never want to grow up? Does he fear responsibility will take all the thrills and fun out of life? What might help is for him to discover a passionate interest to channel his energy in so that it isn't wasted as restlessness. But that would be a whole, separate post...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Artificial Urgency

From the Anna K. Tarot, the Two of Pentacles; from the Meditation Cards, Pity Party:
At least part of the pleasure of saying yes is knowing that someone wants you - wants to be with you, wants you to do something that you do well, wants to do it with you. — Barbara B. Taylor
          As Taylor points out, so much of our self-worth is tied to what we do. It can almost be a rush when we're asked if we'll be responsible for something, but it's rush that can be addictive. This young juggler has one ring in the air without a pentacle in it, and it made me think of free time in a busy schedule. I was reading through Wayne Mueller's book Sabbath last night, and he suggested a Sabbath day could be a marker when we felt lost and overwhelmed; it could be a path back to our center. He explains that it "dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished." When we don't create space to rest our bodies and minds, we can end up like the lady on the card Pity Party:
A personal belief of this kind -“ I am a victim”- is like a dark closet. If we want to sit in this closet with the door shut tightly, nothing can get in. Unfortunately, so long as we insist upon sitting in this closet (and we all do, sometimes), we find that no one really wants to come in and sit with us. Frankly, nobody is particularly interested in someone else’s drama. What we’re interested in is our own. I may want to shut myself in my own closet, but I’m certainly not going to sit in yours. — Charlotte Joko Beck
When I start thinking of myself as a martyr who is being sacrificed for someone else's needs, I need to dig down and take a closer look at the root of my suffering. What I'm likely to find is a seed that I've planted myself; I can choose to continue nourishing it or neglect it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wake Up and Die

From the Anna K. Tarot, the Seven of Cups; from the Meditation Cards, Die Before You Die:
          Anna suggests that instead of  making a choice, this card illustrates self-delusion and a loss of reality. My first reaction is to give this woman a head slap and try to knock some sense into her. But I've been to la-la land myself when I was overwhelmed with great pain or fear. I understand why people want to believe in angels and unicorns; I know why they bury their head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. I get why people buy prayer cloths from a televangelists. When life is filled with uncertainties, anything we can pin our hope on - no matter how outlandish - may seem better than nothing. Yet Pema Chodron's words keep playing in my head: “Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?” 'Die Before You Die' is a Sufi teaching about using the hard experiences of life to strip away what is unimportant (what protects the ego) in exchange for wisdom. This wisdom won't keep us from having to climb other daunting mountains, but it will make us much better mountain climbers. (And we probably won't need that prayer cloth on the hike.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Petals and Thorns

This week I'll be using the Anna K. Tarot, created and self-published by Anna Klaffinger (though now published by Llewellyn). Along with it, I'll be drawing from the Meditation Cards, a deck created and self-published by Asha Greer. All the keywords and quotes for these cards have been added by me. Today's draws are the Knight of Cups and The Warrior's Heart:
          This young knight is not alert and watchful, but sniffing a rose and dreaming of a lady's love. Let's hope someone doesn't sneak up behind him and knock the stuffing out of him while he's in fantasy land. Each knight has a motivation for becoming a warrior: the Knight of Pentacles fights for land and home; the Knight of Wands fights for thrill and power; the Knight of Swords for truth and justice; and the Knight of Cups fights to keep the peace and protect the people he loves. This Knight also has a Warrior's Heart:
To open deeply, as genuine spiritual life requires, we need tremendous
courage and strength, a kind of warrior spirit. ~ Jack Kornfield
Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world 
tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up,
without resistance  or shyness, and face the world. ~ Chögyam Trungpa
Life is full of suffering, and hearts get easily bruised or broken. Do we harden or close off our heart in an attempt not to feel pain? The spiritual warrior encourages us to keep our heart open no matter what comes. It is our pain that allows us to connect with compassion to others who also suffer, especially those who seem to have nothing in common with us.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rationalizing the Irrational

From the Alchemical Tarot Removed, the Seven of Swords; from the Oracle of the Radiant Sun, Extremism:
          Place suggests the willy-nilly pattern of swords this fox has stashed away represent communication designed to be obscure the truth. Words that mislead or confuse can be used to hide motives, 'prove' a theory (circular reasoning) or cover up dishonesty. Yet where there is miscommunication, there will be fear; where there is fear, there will be people who react poorly instead of responding logically. The Extremism card (Mercury in Scorpio) shows the result. Americans currently have a leader who is adept at misleading the people he is supposed to serve. He kicks the hornets' nest then blames someone else when people get stung. The recent shooting of congressional members at a baseball game is the perfect example. (However, I do not think the shooter was justified in what he did.) Misinformation and rationalizing the irrational will push people to the edges of extreme views. In the words of Voltaire:
Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe 
absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Variety is Life

From the Alchemical Tarot Renewed, the Three of Vessels; from the Oracle of the Radiant Sun, Harmony:
          These three ladies carry their personality on their head - earth, air and fire. Where is water? It is formed by their relationship together. The Harmony card (Sun in Libra) explains how this diverse group got together. The Sun's clarity shines brightly on what they have in common (Libra), even though they may think and do things in very different ways. Whether the bond comes from a common cause, a shared hobby or a mutual support group, there is unity among diversity. In twelve step groups around the world, the first of the 12 Traditions reminds its members that "Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon unity." It is a reminder to remember the purpose of the group. Yet no group would be worth a lick of salt if everyone's perspective was exactly the same. Unity holds us together, but diversity is what help us see possibilities that 'purity of thought and action' would have passed right by.