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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pause and Pay Attention

From the Shining Tribe Tarot, the Seven of Stones (Pentacles); from the Animal Tiles, the Green Anole:
          Pollack explains the top of the image as her rendition of the Saptamatrikas, or Seven Mothers of India. Interesting that they also resemble tadpoles and a line of eggs (toads lay their eggs in strands rather than clusters like frogs). The toad at the bottom was in earlier times associated with a woman in labor, squatting as she brings forth a child. Considering this illustration with the RWS version of the Seven of Pentacles, this card makes me remember brief moments between contractions of trying to relax and catch my breath. The Green Anole is shown with his bright pink dewlap extended; it is a warning to other males to stay away from his territory. Anoles have two ways to protect themselves: camouflage (changing from bright green to dark brown) and autotomic tails (which break off and continue to wiggle to distract predators). Both the draws today suggest that the labor-intensive work already done should be protected so all that effort does not go to waste. It's time to pause and pay attention to what might become a complication or a threat.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Embracing Two Sides

From the Shining Tribe Tarot, the Lovers; from the Animal Tiles, the Hawk:
          Well now there's a position I've never tried - suspended in midair. Pollack has chosen to pair an angel with a human, suggesting we embrace both our human and spiritual sides. Mary Jaksch writes that there are three core experiences for being able to live from both parts:
1) The present moment is a doorway.
2) Ordinary notions of 'self' are recognized as limiting, separating 'us' from 'them.'
3)  Awareness of interconnection becomes natural with mindfulness.
So if I live this way, then basically that means I'm a partner with every living thing. I have a commitment to care for all creation, human and otherwise. But before I take off on a head trip of "all is light and love," Hawk flies in with the gift of discernment, the ability to see with clarity and objectivity. No rose-colored glasses are needed. Seeing from a larger perspective means I don't have to hate, but I might need to take a stand, set a protective boundary or try to change an unjust situation. For instance, I may loathe Trump's views, but I don't have to wish him harm. Instead, I just don't have to vote for him.
Bearing witness is not only about understanding what drove “them” to do such terrible things. The practice is also to look deeply and with precision at the innumerable ways that they are us and we are them...Cultures do not spring forth from nothing. They are created by people - we the people. As such, these acts of violence, allowed for by our laws and lionized by our culture, reflect something poisonous in each of us. ~  Joshin Brian Byrnes

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Guiding from 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 pyro-etched by my multi-talented friend Carole. My draws this morning were the Speaker of Stones (King of Pentacles) and Otter:
          Pollack writes that the spiral of dots above this figure's head represents knowledge of the mind, while the radiating design on the belly implies knowledge of the gut (instincts). Yet this King is grounded in reality; I imagine that table in front of him/her is for drawing up plans rather than divination. Ideas and hunches may be taken into account, but past experience will likely be given more weight. As a guide for his/her kingdom, concrete information instead of abstract thought or feelings will hold more weight for the Speaker of Stones. Otter pops in to back up this King. Unlike sea otters who spend most of their time in the ocean, river otters spend much of their time on land to prevent their fur from becoming waterlogged. If I am looking for wise guidance and direction, I might first have to take a step back from tradition, personal preferences and the viewpoints of others. I am reminded of the Buddha's advice given to the Kalama people:
Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness' — then you should enter and remain in them. ~ Kalama Sutta

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Seeing the Whole

From the Tarot of Durer, the Knave (Page) of Pentacles; from the Philosopher's Stone, Complement:
          The booklet describes this Knave as a 'scholarly youth,' though the knowledge he seeks is not abstract. He prefers practical information that can be put to use - how to manage time wisely, live a long, healthy life and sustain a secure lifestyle. In his view, plans and dreams are only as good as the actions that follow them. He's a realist by nature; the skull denotes his awareness of how transitory life can be. For that reason, the Knave may be impatient to find the answers he seeks. The Stone card, Complement, suggests a lesson that might not come easy for this lad. He'd prefer a straightforward 'yes or no,' 'black or white' explanation for everything. Make it cut and dried, thank you very much. But the different pieces of stone that fit together like puzzle pieces imply that life isn't that simple. Sometimes the answer isn't either/or but both (like the question of nature vs. nurture). If he can incorporate this wider outlook into his education, he'll end up with a much more complete picture rather than only a piece of it.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Seeing the Solution

From the Tarot of Durer, the King of Swords; from the Philosopher's Stone, Solution:
          Unlike his younger sons, the King of Swords has tamed his dragon (impulsive words) and domesticated his fox (manipulative intellect). Now that doesn't mean he can't build a fire under people to get them moving or plan a strategy to protect and advance his kingdom. He just does it thoughtfully and objectively, considering what will benefit all instead of just a few. As I leave to go spend a few days with my mom and cousins, I need to adopt his mature vision. Their political and religious views are very dissimilar to my own, which can make conversation difficult. The Stone card suggests there is a solution, as the stylized question mark becomes an exclamation point in shadow. Rather than an obstacle, the brick wall might be the answer. As long as I remain respectful and don't become emotionally entangled, I can make space for everyone's opinions and beliefs. Then we'll all have a section of wall to creatively express our ideas on, just like graffiti artists.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


From the Tarot of Durer, the Sun; from the Philosopher's Stone, Light:
          A kindly sun shines down on a harbor town where two cherubs hold freshly picked fruit. The phrase on the card reads: "This sign will bring success." The Sun does bring light, warmth and energy, thus giving clarity, life and growth. For me this is a card of radiant joy - feeling full of vitality and confidence while also perceiving and understanding more deeply. But like everything else in this physical world, our time in the sun will be balanced by time in the darkness. Can we maintain a positive but realistic outlook even then? The stone man with his eyes closed and serious expression reminds me of a quote by Bill Wilson: "Hold your face up to the light, even though for the moment you do not see." Faith born of experience rather than simply belief can keep that sun shining within until it rises again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Lion has Landed

From the Tarot of Durer, the Eight of Wands; from the Philosopher's Stone, Freedom:
          Have you ever made plans and gotten the ball rolling on some project or event, but when the the goal day arrived, it caught you unprepared? Imagine someone who planned a bridal brunch, then forgot to set her alarm clock and woke up with one hour to clean house and prepare the food. Or consider someone who's applied for a job in another city by first sending in an impressive resume. After a few phone conferences with the prospective employer, he's asked to come for an interview; half way there, he realizes he's forgotten to look up the address of where he's going. The guy in this card obviously put things in motion, but wasn't ready when it was time to take that final step. The Freedom card reminded me of something written by Os Guinness: "Freedom requires order, and therefore restraint." It's so easy to get excited and fired up about something that we drop some pieces and tools we need to complete what we're building. Guinness went on to say that "the problem isn't wolves at the door but termites in the floor." That firm foundation is a must.