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

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Need Saving?

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Pictish Oracle, Wolf:
          Crows are great watch dogs; any human or animal that crosses into their territory will start a group cawing loudly. But used with the Hierophant, I am reminded of the soap box preachers that stand on the street corners yelling that they have the key to life. What they often offer is not hope but fear, not love but hatred. Congregate enough of their followers together, and they can make it seem as if the world is going to end unless we follow their directives. And that kind of fear can be both contagious and dangerous. Which leads to Wolf, an animal seen by the Picts as a marauder who attacked and killed livestock and night travelers. They had no romanticized view of a pack and saw them realistically as a threat. Both these draws remind me of how easy it is to take advantage of people who are in a vulnerable place (especially emotionally), and how easily and willingly we lay our heads in the jaws of those who claim to be our savior.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Much to Learn

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Daughter (Page) of Pentacles; from the Pictish Oracle, the Broken Sword/Tuning Fork:
          This trusting (she still believes in the promise of that rainbow) and trustworthy little fawn made me think of something Mark Nepo wrote in The Book of Awakening:
We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. 
Yes, that's how yesterday started off. I went for a long walk early in the morning and found an apple snail shell by the pond. I was relaxed and clear-headed.
Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe... When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything.
And then someone said something callous and inappropriate to someone I love. I went into protective mode. Harsh words were exchanged, though I did my best to speak respectfully. But the encounter seems to have washed its sewage over me, and this morning it still reeks. The Pictish symbol as a broken sword implies a ceasefire; as a tuning fork, it suggests resonance. Nepo's ending words of wisdom seems to fit both meanings:
So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts.
Ah, it appears this Daughter of Pentacles still has much to learn.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I'll Fly Away

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Lovers; from the Pictish Oracle, the Double Disc:
          Kran again makes another wise choice from the wild - Canada geese as the Lovers. These birds mate for life, and pairs remain together throughout the year. My in-laws' commitment and loyalty to each other were much like these geese. Together they made it through the depression, WWII and the suicide of of son; later my mother-in-law nursed her husband for 19 years after a blood transfusion resulted in brain damage. It feels surreal that I drew this card this morning, as I dreamed last night that I was holding my MIL's hand as she lay dying. She spoke of seeing "Charlie" and then slipped away.
          The Double Disc was an often seen inscription of the Picts, second in appearance only to the Crescent and V-rod. This symbol was thought to represent the sun or the high king. During the Romano-Celtic period, solar wheel offerings were placed in water and at shrines as offerings. The sun's image suggests power and energy but also movement (as it seemed to move across the sky and then briefly disappear until sunrise). Together with the migrating geese, it feels like the sun is about to set for my MIL. Indeed the reality of the situation is that her body and mind are beginning to make that journey. These draws makes me think of one of her favorite gospel songs:

Some glad morning when this life is o'er
I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh Glory I'll fly away 
When I die
Hallelujah by and by I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joy shall never end
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh Glory yes I'll fly away 
When I die
Hallelujah by and by I'll fly away
  ~ Albert E. Brumley

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Justice and Liberty

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Father (King) of Swords; from the Pictish Oracle, Tongs:
          I love Krans choice of a great horned owl for the King of Swords. These owls can swivel their heads over 180 degrees to look in any direction; their facial feathers are designed to direct sound waves to their ears. What a perfect representation of a person who is just and fair - able to see (and hear) all sides of a situation. The owl's sword and sharp talons symbolize the skill of objectivity that allow him to look past emotionalism, manipulative language and ignorance in order to uncover the truth. The Tongs tile was often seen on stones with other symbols of the smith, such as the hammer and anvil. This tool allowed the smith to safely move and rotate red-hot metal as it was shaped without being burned. Likewise this king's detachment gives him the ability to mediate disputes without being entangled by them. The owl's rainbow sword reminds me of the ongoing LGBT arguments here in the States. The true King of Swords won't be swayed by religious views, opinions or prejudice. A person's sexual orientation and gender identity should be included under the banner of civil rights; our pledge of "justice and liberty for all" shouldn't leave any citizen out without just cause.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Don't Rain on the Parade

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Six of Swords; from the Pictish Oracle, the Snake:
          A butterfly rises from a tangle of brush; Krans says that this is "a card of victory, of rising up against the odds." I would guess that at least half of those obstacles were created by our own minds telling us there was no way to be successful, that we might as well quit before we embarrass ourselves. But thankfully the pull of reaching the goal strengthened the will and gave us reason to persevere. But what if those same negative thoughts come back in different form? The Snake symbol appears 14 times on Pict inscribed stones; it likely represented both fear (sudden strike) but also healing (shedding skin). We may wonder how we could ever top this moment, or how we could ever have enough willpower to meet another such challenge again. But like the butterfly's brief existence, our lives are short. This is the time for the joy of celebration, not worry; it's time to rest and relax. The Wheel will turn and there'll be plenty of opportunities soon enough for another quest. This is the moment to embrace what is, not what might be.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Real Sustenance

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Son (Knight) of Cups; from the Pictish Oracle, the Rectangular Figure:
          This swan still has a bit of fluff on him, which signifies that he is still a juvenile. Likewise, the Knight of Cups tends to be immature as well, at least in the realm of emotions. He is a romantic who is likely to be found strumming a guitar and singing  "All You Need is Love" under the trees in the park (the guy that the old codgers yell "get a job" at as they pass by). He truly believes that expressing love through song, poetry and the arts is what will heal the world. Unfortunately, the movement and response typical of this Knight is more often mood swing than anything else. In his chapter on Loving-kindness, Alan Morinis states: "It is too easy to think good thoughts and say the right things but then just continue to be stuck in the same old ways. We’re too easy to deceive, especially self-deceive. Action is required." Such action he defines as offering real sustenance to one another.
          The rectangular figure from the Pictish Oracle was thought to symbolize a wooden box (such as a coffer) or a satchel. Either way, it was likely some sort of container for objects considered valuable. It makes me think of a treasure or something held sacred, and I easily see a connection between it and the Knight's cup of color. Morinis clarifies that the sustaining actions of loving-kindness "need to come out of kindness and no other motive." So perhaps that Knight was on the right track after all.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Barrier Test

This week I'll be using the Wild Unknown Tarot, created and self-published by Kim Krans. I'll also being using the Pictish Oracle, created by myself and brought to life in 3-D form by Alaska Laser Maid on Etsy. Today's draws are the Seven of Swords and the Crescent and V-rod:
          You almost don't notice it at first - that seventh sword tucked beneath the fox's tail. He might pretend to be asleep, but he's keeping a watchful eye out. Is he playing a defensive or offensive game? He obviously has information or an idea that could be used in either way. Yet he's content to rest instead of attacking, which makes me think he's keeping a secret tucked away for a purpose that involves self-protection. The Crescent and V-rod symbol appear approximately 32 times on Class I stones that have been inscribed by the Picts. Though many have guessed its meaning to range from death to weather magic, J.N. Bellchamber makes a good argument for it representing a seasonal sundial - a sort of farmer's almanac. Added to the Seven of Swords card above, the tile seems to encourage a calmness that would lend itself to right timing. Information used as gossip or character assassination is its impulsive form; used with mindfulness and compassion, it may be helpful rather than harmful.

Yogic tradition has it that speech must pass before three barriers prior to being uttered aloud. These barriers come in the form of three questions: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
― Prem Prakash