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

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Oasis in Time

From the Motherpeace Tarot, the Nine of Cups:
Somewhere behind those willows, there are some speakers blaring Cindi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."  This card is an example of pure, unadulterated pleasure.  Everyone needs uninhibited moments when we can relax, laugh until our cheeks ache, dance, sing at the top of our lungs, and not worry about the rest of the world for a few hours. These fun and games won't last forever, but they let my playful side out, allowing me to heal physically, mentally and emotionally.  Cutting loose will free my spirit from all the burdens I've forced it to needlessly carry.  

     From the Ogham Oracle comes "Apple - Quert / Ceirt:"
The translation of this ogham means "shrub," and one of its kennings is "dregs of clothing (rags)."  Laurie associates this with the clootie trees in Ireland and Scotland, where a piece of cloth is tied to a branch as an appeal for healing.  In Celtic tradition, the Otherworld of Avalon was known as the Isle of Apples and was the place King Arthur was taken to be healed.  This ogham's lesson is that sometimes there is a need to retreat, take a break from life, and heal.  Even if its just a small oasis of time, it will prevent me from forging ahead with self-destructive behavior, giving me an opportunity for the fog in my head to clear.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pause and Take a Deep Breath

From the Motherpeace Tarot, the Two of Swords:
A woman holds a feather in each hand, making an infinity design in the air, while balancing on one foot.  The stork next to her reminds me of the stork pose in yoga, where one knee is lifted at a 90 degree angle while pointing the toe on that same leg downward.  Balance asanas require focus and a still mind, two things this woman doesn't have but is attempting to find.  The ocean and full moon suggest that this woman is overwhelmed with emotions and can't think straight.  Like the yoga pose, she needs mental space in order to take a deep breath and figure out what to do.  This temporary withdrawal is just a pause; being grounded in the moment will help her detach.  Then her decisions will be made with clarity and purpose rather than just being a reaction to a situation.

     From the Ogham Oracle comes "Gorse - Onn:"
Onn is believed to be derived from the Old Irish word fonn, meaning the "sole of a foot."  Such a definition suggests both a foundation but also movement.  For me, I understand it as a need to find my center (stability) before making any moves.  Gorse is a spiny, evergreen shrub that can be a fire hazard because of the oils in its branches.  Though burned to the ground, the roots will eventually regrow the plant.  This danger reminds me to avoid emotional outbursts that will quickly bring any progress made back to zero. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Balance and Boundaries

This week I'll be using the Motherpeace Tarot, created by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble along with Noble's companion text.  Today's card is the Two of Discs:
A mother holds two babies on her hips, feeding one while the other sleeps.  She is surrounded by green - grass, fields, trees - indicating she has created much in her physical world.  The problem comes in balancing her time, energy, and finances to care for and maintain all these manifestations.  Like the two-headed snake, she burns the candle at both ends, and the need to prioritize her projects and obligations has become a must.  This woman stands barefoot on the earth, a reminder to stay grounded in the present moment.  She will lose her secure footing if she is overwhelmed by the "what ifs" of the future or the regrets of the past.  Her other tool will be in her ability to take each day lightly.  As William A. Ward once said, "A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life."

     The other deck I'll be using this week is the Ogham Oracle, created by my friend Carole.  She originally pyroetched these images by hand on wooden tiles for her own use, then scanned them to make a deck for me.  (She's the same artist who did the wooden animal tiles I used several weeks ago.)  Besides the booklet she included, I'll also be using the text Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie.  Today's draw is "Blackthorne - Straif :"
Straif means sulfur, an element that has been used in alchemy, as a mordant for dyeing cloth, and in medicine.  As such, this wood/ogham is associated with transformation.  Change is on the way, and discipline and spiritual work will be needed to manage it.  However, care must be taken not to destroy or harm the vessel the transformation is occurring in.  Blackthorn's sharp barbs remind me of the need for protection during this time; just as the caterpillar needs a cocoon to complete the metamorphosis into butterfly form, so I too will need some boundaries to provide safety and security.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Express Yourself

From the Norse Tarot, the Empress:
Freya, twin sister of Frey from yesterday's draw, was the Norse goddess of love, fertility and beauty and the patron of crops and birth.  The cat who sits at her feet is in reference to the two felines who pulled her chariot (quite a feat to get a cat to do anything!); the swallow was a sign of spring and thus sacred to her.  She carries her shield on her back, leaving her heart vulnerable but also open to love.  I've watched two Canada geese nest at the holding pond near my house for the past month.  They stuck it out through all the destruction, construction and noise a Baptist church wrought on their habitat in order to build a parking lot.  But I was cheered to see the geese bring out four fluffy goslings the other day and watched with happiness as they swam close to their parents.  Unfortunately, the goslings lasted only a few days - a red-shouldered hawk made quick work of them.  Though it broke my heart to see them killed, I know that this too is a part of the natural cycle of life.  Barrett's portrayal of the Empress reminds me that to have a heart open to love requires great strength and the willingness deal with the emotional pain that might come as a result.

     From the Wolf Pack, "Happiness:"
It's been a long while since I ran or did cartwheels just for the sheer joy of it, but this card reminds me that physically expressing my emotions can bring a sense of fulfillment and gratitude.  Of course I have been known to dance and twirl when no one was watching...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cocoons and Communication

From the Norse Tarot, the High Priest:
The high priest in Barrett's depiction is the Norse god Frey.  Frey's symbol was the golden boar, and his followers wore or carried boar charms and had this animal engraved on helmets and weapons.  The charms of Frey were believed to protect the wearer from harm.   My first thought when I saw this card was how closely all three men resemble each other.  In the same way, I am drawn to groups (whether spiritual or otherwise) who hold similar beliefs and ideals as I do.  And just as Frey protected his followers, the company I surround myself with provide a cocoon of sorts for me to learn and stretch my wings.  As long as I don't have to force myself to fit into a particular mold, these groups can be positive influence on me.

     From the Wolf Pack today comes "Communication:"
I was watching a PBS special last night about a group who were tracking wolves in the zone of the Chernobyl nuclear accident (an area where plants and animals have taken over since humans moved out).  One of the men had studied wolves for so long, he could almost think like them.  And when he howled, the wolves would answer in return.  "Wolf" was not this man's native language of course, but because he wanted to develop a relationship with them, he began to learn how to converse with them (at least on a rudimentary level).  This card reminds me that when I converse with others, I need to start on the same ground level as they stand.  I don't need to try and impress them with my knowledge or overwhelm them with praise or criticism; I need to connect on a heart to heart basis.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


  From the Norse Tarot, the Seven of Swords:
A dragon sleeps on an egg-shaped boulder, while a man sneaks into its lair and steals five swords.  The egg shape of the stone reminds me that any form of dishonesty or duplicity has a way of "hatching" into something unwelcome.  No matter how much I try to rationalize such an action ("I only did it as payback" or "I needed to to teach them a lesson"), this type of behavior just creates a snowball effect that can become more malicious and destructive the longer it goes on.  As Gandhi once said, "An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind."

     From the Wolf Pack today comes "The Fool:"
A wolf stares stubbornly at an angry bear, refusing to give up his spot.  Pride can short-circuit my thinking and cause me to do and say things that border on the insane.  I get caught up in "my rights," and my rational mind gets drowned out by all the noise my emotional mind makes as it stomps its little feet.  I need to ask myself, "Am I taking a stand on principles or just standing on foolish pride?  Is the cost worth the effort?"    

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sidestepping Emotional Potholes

From the Norse Tarot, the King of Cups:
A king holds a chalice up to the sky, as he stands on a rock at the sea's edge.  This king is known for his unconditional love for others, but this does not mean he is easily taken advantage of for his kind nature.  The rock he stands on represents that he is firmly grounded when emotions are swirling all about; he remains composed and looks at drama with a detached view.  The cup raised in the air represents his emotional maturity - he sees people and situations as they are, accepts them, but does not try to control them or get entangled with their chaos.

     From the Wolf Pack comes the card "Be Alert:"
Petro uses this card to warn of being a victim of jealousy, gossip, or dishonesty.  My problem with this card is that the only control I have over situations like this (which I have had to deal with in the past) is my actions and attitude.  I can speak and act with integrity, and I can try to clear up any misunderstandings.  But sometimes people just like to "stir the pot," and in those cases there's not much I can do about it.  My best revenge will be to live a happy life.  And as a friend of mine is fond of saying, "What other people think of me is none of my business." 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Watching with Wonder

From the Norse Tarot, the Nine of Wands:
A red-haired warrior stands ready to fight, with his men behind him as back-up.  The Nine of Wands frequently is a warning to have all your senses on alert and pay attention.  I've usually seen this card as a defensive maneuver, being ready to deal with what comes my way.  But maybe it's not always about dealing with the hard stuff... Perhaps the unexpected might be something joyful but fleeting, that I must be in the "now" to catch.  I generally start my morning with a cup of coffee at the computer, but I like to watch the large birdfeeder outside my window at the same time.  Generally, I spend more time sipping and surfing the internet, but this morning I just watched instead.  I was rewarded with the sight of three rose-breasted grosbeaks, birds we rarely see here, and only as they migrate northward.  "Be here now" (as Ram Dass would say) can have its advantages in more ways than one.

     From the Wolf Pack comes "Innocence:"
Young children and young animals find everything interesting, even the most simple of things.  Just ask a parent who gets a delivery how many hours of fun their toddler had with the big box.  Sometimes I lose that sense of awe and innocence to the logical, rational side of my brain.  I go for nature walks every day, observing what's going on, then write and draw about my experience in the evening.  I've caught myself at times trying to identify and catalog the flora and fauna as I amble about instead of just appreciating it.  But often it is that "watching with wonder" that will give me clues to a discovery later.  The other day I found a tiny purple wildflower growing in a friend's field.  By pausing and peering closely, I noticed a tiny projection that came from its center.  I would need that hint to later uncover what it was - Venus' Looking-glass. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weapons of Manipulation

  From the Norse Tarot, the World:
Barrett uses the image of Balder, the Norse god of light, joy, purity, beauty, innocence, and reconciliation, for this card.  Balder was well loved by humans and gods alike, but was killed by Loki's (the Norse trickster) wily ways.  Here Balder has been reborn, and this time he appears without weapons - his spear, sword, and dagger are gone.  The appearance of Balder in this form reminds me that when I walk in balance and wholeness, I won't need to have a sharp tongue, strategies of revenge, or manipulation in my arsenal.  I'll understand that there is a better way to handle things...

     From the Wolf Pack, "Control:"
One wolf asserts its power over another, who assumes a submissive posture.  Petro's interpretation of this card is to be wary of those who try to control you.  I have no problem with aggressive, "in-your-face" people who try to bend me to their will.  They instantly raise my hackles, and my instincts are to do the opposite of what they demand.  My dilemma comes with folks who are manipulative, who use my love and care of them to shame or guilt me into doing something I would ordinarily refuse to do.  Yet it is ultimately my choice - submit or stand up for myself; I can't blame them for any promises I willingly make. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Warp and Weft

This week I'll be using the Norse Tarot deck and book set by Clive Barrett.  Today's card is the Three of Cups:
A husband and wife celebrate the birth of their child with a relative or perhaps a close friend.  The weaving loom in the background has given me food for thought with this card.  I enjoy solitude very much, sometimes to the extent that I separate myself from others.  While life weaves the joys and sorrows of day to day living together, I often find myself on the fringe rather than amongst my friends and family members.  It is a strange feeling to want to belong but at the same time fearing being so closely knit.  What strange turn of the mind causes me to be this way?  It's not that I don't love or care about these people, but there is a feeling of being trapped or vulnerable too.  Perhaps the root of it all is pure self-centeredness on my part.

     The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Wolf Pack, created by Robert Petro.  Today's draw is "Wisdom:"
Two structures made of wooden poles and blankets stand in front of this wolf, looking a bit like entrance-ways.  Will he go through either one, or bypass them altogether?  I am reminded by this card that knowledge comes through intellect but wisdom comes through experience.  Wisdom tends to open perceptions and perspectives rather than narrow them.  It is balance - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - that allows me to live fully and in harmony, no matter what is going on in my life.  Pairing this with the tarot card above makes me see the wisdom of having balance in all my affairs.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"I Should Have Known Better..."

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Ten of Staves (Wands):
If I had to create a title for this card, it would probably be "Oppressive Power."  A captor holds a whip of chains while burning the books of the people (free-thinking is not allowed).  The captives hang their heads in defeat, unwilling to fight for their liberty.  Often in the Ten of Wands, one person is carrying a large load, implying they have caused their own problems by taking on more than their share.  In Jackson's card, the people are being forced to comply.  Will they become "sheeple" and blindly go along with what their persecutor tells them they must do?  Or will they remember they have a mind of their own and use it to guide them in a spirited rebellion?  Not even the Roman Empire lasted forever; I'm betting someone will soon take the dagger from the tormentor's waistband and firmly plant it in his heart.

     From the Sabian Symbols, "Virgo, 1st Degree:"

In a portrait, the best of a man's traits and character are idealized.
Is it a bad thing to look for the good in people?  No, I don't think so.  But to balance that attitude, I must not put people on a pedestal either.  When my wants (and possibly needs) are wrapped up in one person, I may refuse to the red flags in a person's behavior that may have warned me away from them.  How many people have been exploited or ended up in an abusive relationship, thinking they needed a man/woman in their life so desperately, they ignored all the warning bells that went off when they met this person?  This symbol reminds me to be discerning in all my relationships, whether with people or groups.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Birthing More than Babies

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the World:
This lovely lass dances between a doorway made of a laurel wreath, signifying a victory.  The wreath is in the shape of a vesica piscis, a form created by the intersection of two circles with the same radius.  This shape has been associated with birth, thus this woman is being born to a whole new world of understanding (implied by the fixed zodiac signs holding books).  Her efforts have brought about a liberating truth that releases her from the old into the new.  Her perception has changed significantly through these insights, and now she is open to new experiences, ideas and possibilities.  Like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube, she could not return to her original way of thinking even if she wanted; her eyes have been opened to see and grasp what she never realized before.

     From the Sabian Symbols, "Virgo, 17th Degree:"
A volcanic eruption bringing dust clouds, flowing lava, earth rumblings.
Were it not for the World card drawn above, I would probably alert the USGS and have them monitor my seismic activity.  While I have felt a bit restless and on edge lately, I don't think it has anything to do with me blowing my top in anger.  I can feel a breakthrough of some sort on the periphery of my awareness.  From this symbol, it doesn't look like it's going to come gently, but with great force and impact.  Whatever it is, I'm sure this is what will "birth" me into a new understanding.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Get It In Gear!

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Seven of Coins:
The Seven of Coins can generally be interpreted as pausing in your work to assess your results so far.  If things look good, you can keep doing what you're doing; if not, changes need to be made or strategies tweaked.  This fellow has definitely paused, but not to evaluate anything - he's so busy drinking and napping that he doesn't even notice he has a bite on his fishing line.  This card warns me not to become complacent, even though I may have made some progress in the past.  While there's nothing wrong with kicking back and relaxing every now and then, keeping my life on track will require a continued effort.  A mixture of over-confidence and laziness is a cocktail that contains only setbacks for me.

     From the Sabian Symbols comes "Scorpio, 9th Degree:"

A dentist is hard at work.
For me, going to the dentist ranks slightly above getting a mammogram; it's not one of my favorite things to do.  Yet I know that taking care of the small problems will keep me from developing much larger problems in the future.  This symbol reminds me that responsibly looking after the small details instead of ignoring them will help my life run smoother.  There can be a fine line between prioritizing and procrastinating.  It's time to get my bum in gear and get a move on... 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Connections and Bridges

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Fool:
The Fool glows with a golden aura as he walks in the spiritual world.  The grapes represent his blissful intoxication in the realm of the spirit, where there is no separation, no "yours and mine" - everything is as one.  But he's about to take a fall into the human realm (and knowing cats as I do, the feline will  probably wait to until the Fool hits bottom to give him something soft to land on).  The forked staff he carries implies his existence in a unified state is about to be split in the earthly world where duality exists.  Can he continue to carry his sense of wonder, trust and happiness as he learns to live in the physical world?  Will he remember that no matter how the outer appears, underneath the union is still there?  The Fool reminds me of the potential and possibilities I carry within that I always have available to use,  as long as I never forget my spiritual connection.

     From the Sabian Symbols comes "Scorpio, 19th Degree:"

A parrot listening and then talking, repeats a conversation he has overheard.
Remember playing that childhood game "telephone" where everyone sits in a circle, then one person whispers a phrase to the person next to them, until it travels all the way around?  Of course the fun was how the original phrase got twisted and turned into something crazy that didn't even come close to the original.  This symbol reminds me of the importance of listening without expectations, preconceived ideas, or assumptions getting in the way - I need to be empty so I can hear what is said.  And to make sure I heard what was intended to be heard, I can repeat it back to the person who said it for clarification.  Listening well can be a bridge between the differences I have with another. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Watching, Listening and Learning as I Go

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Knight of Staves (Wands):
Similar to yesterday's knight who followed his heart, the Knight of Staves follows his passions and ambitions.  After comparing these fellows, I realized these guys don't have bridles on their horses.  Bridles can come in handy when you're on a horse, not just to guide him in the direction you're going, but also to stop him from going off a cliff.  This fellow is obviously following where his desires lead him, but he has no pack with food, water, or a map.  He's looking straight ahead and seems completely oblivious to the stones in his path that could result in a lame horse.  If I want to follow my dreams, that's an honorable thing, but I still need to pay attention to what is going on around me and ask for directions if I'm confused.  It won't help to focus so intensely on my goal that basic needs and common sense go out the window.  That is just escapism at its finest.

     From the Sabian Symbols, "Sagittarius, 4th Degree:"

A little child learning to walk with the encouragement of parents.
Everything I've learned came from someone else - whether through a book, a teacher, a parent, or just watching other people.  Granted, I had to do the work, but the information was there to help me along.  This symbol reminds me that there are others who've experienced things in life that I'm dealing with now.  If I want to know how to navigate these waters successfully, it will be beneficial if I can find someone who has already done it.  Plus, it never hurts to have an cheerleader in my corner, who will encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and help dust me off when I fall.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Of the Heart and Higher Self

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Knight of Cups:

Here is the true knight - chivalrous, idealistic, and romantic - he probably rides around singing Andy William's version of "Everything is Beautiful."  And therein lies the problem - he's a bit of a Pollyanna.  See the castle surrounded by water?  Only a boat can get to it, because the people living there don't want to be bothered by Jehovah's Witnesses, politicians running for reelection, or anyone else who has something to "share."  This knight's heart is in the right place, but he hasn't yet figured out that you can't give something to someone if they don't want it.  Yet I can't see him giving up, it's just not in his nature.  A hardened heart is a tough nut to crack, but maybe he has the hammer to do it with - a pure offering of kindness with no strings attached.

     From the Sabian Symbols, "Pisces, 23rd Degree:"
A materializing medium giving a seance.
People go see a medium because they need an intermediary; they believe this person can tap into a source that he or she is unable to reach.  There is a line in AA that states, "We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us."  I personally believe we all have this ability, if we use the spiritual tools available to put our egos in the backseat.  This inner resource can be reached by quieting our "lower self" long enough to hear and heed its advice.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Plumbing the Depths

  This week I'll be using the Nigel Jackson Tarot, named after its creator.  Today's draw is the King of Staves (Wands):
Normally when I think of the King of Wands/Staves, I think of a go-getter, a person full of vim and vigor.  But this guy looks pretty sedate and a bit on the wimpy side, until you notice how he is cradling that orb.  The king's orb represents sovereign power and was a symbol of world domination.  I like the addition of the cross on top - in my cynical mind I see it as a way to justify taking what you want, as long as it's in the name of religion.  For some reason, I don't think that whole "love your neighbor" idea involved crushing him underneath your boot.

     The oracle I'll be using this week is the Sabian Symbols described in Lynda Hill's 360 Degrees of Wisdom.  I have a 12 sided die of astrological symbols and a 30 sided die for the degrees that I'll be using instead of a deck of cards.  Today's roll is "Scorpio, 7th Degree:"

Deep sea divers with special machinery.
This description made me think of the divers who went far below the ocean to look at the remains of the Titanic.  This symbol reminds me that if I want to discover my real motivations, sometimes I must plumb the depths.  It is too easy to rationalize or hide a bad intention with a good one - kind of like covering up a cake disaster with a ton of icing.  A quick surface look will not do, and will require the tools of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Waking Up vs. Holding Back

From the Llewellyn Tarot, The Sleepers (Judgment):
Ferguson based her rendering of Judgment on The Sleepers - a legend of King Arthur and his men who sleep in a hidden cave until they are awakened by their country's need of them.  It is my belief that we are all needed for unique purposes, but like these men, we are asleep to what that role may be.  As humans, we tend to be a tad on the self-centered side, rather than outward-looking.  But sometimes our ears and eyes are open to a need, and we acknowledge and take action - we wake up.  I don't think I'm destined to do anything that's going down in a history book, but I might just do something that will be written on someone's heart.
We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love. ~ Mother Teresa

     From the Beasts of Albion, the "Hedgehog:"
I don't think it was an accident that Gray illustrated this animal with a shield.  The hedgehog's defense against predators is much like a shield - he rolls into a ball with only his spines displayed for protection.  The need to safeguard ourselves reminded me of a heartbreaking story I heard from a woman recently.  Her one-year-old son died in his sleep from some mysterious illness still unidentified.  She said she finds it difficult to love without reserve anymore, because she never wants to feel such pain again.  It is a tough task to let such overwhelming grief and hurt open your heart wider instead of trying to protect it from ever being vulnerable.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Not a Cushy Job

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Emperor:
Ferguson based this image of the Emperor on Bran the Blessed, the king of Britain (and a giant) in Welsh mythology.  In one legend, Bran was leading his men against the Irish when they discovered the bridge across the river Shannon had been destroyed.  Bran told his soldiers, "he who will be chief, let him be a bridge," then laid his body across the water so all could cross.  This card reminds me that being in a position of true leadership is not only about wielding power, but service, organization and protection as well.  It's not a cushy job, but one that requires commitment, a thick skin and a responsibility to all rather than a select few.

From the Beasts of Albion, the "Eagle:"
Gray states that the Eagle represents "the triumph of the mind and spirit over physical restrictions."  The message here is that the brain (intellect) can win over brute force or other physical challenge.  Knowledge is power, and it is important to wield it as wisely and carefully as a sword.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Four of Cups:
A young woman sits by a stream; her posture indicates a feeling of apathy and disenchantment.  Her emotions are like the little eddy beside her - whirling round and round without making progress.  It's interesting that the card right before this (3 of Cups) shows a celebration of sorts.  I'm at my best when I have a creative project going on.  When I finish I feel great - a sense of accomplishment - but soon thereafter, I find myself in a funk, feeling without purpose.  The cup overhead reminds me that my inspiration hasn't dried up.  My creative endeavors will find a niche, and I'll be happily entertained and challenged once again.  The activity must stop for awhile so I can recharge; it's just part of the process.

     From the Beasts of Albion, the "Lion:"
Gray writes that the lion represents the maturity "to use strength in a measured and controlled way."  While power and ferocity is generally what I think of with these animals, lions actually only spend about 4 hours a day in activity - the remainder they spend resting.  The lion's lesson is that intensity must be moderated with restraint.  Balance is the key. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pacing Myself

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Knight of Swords:
It's a good thing this fellow has the visor up on his helmet, because he's in a hurry and needs to be able to see where he's going.  The black cape that swirls out behind him reminds me of a dark storm cloud, and makes me wonder just who he is in a rush to meet.  The problem with speed is that it can sometimes cause mistakes and accidents.  I may speak or behave rashly before I have a chance to think things through.  Like this knight, I may feel my cause is just and my ideals true, but I'll never have a chance to discuss or consider alternative views unless I slow down.

     From the Beasts of Albion deck comes the "Bull:"
My grandsons have become enamored with bull riding, so when they come for a visit, we put on cowboy hats, watch bull riding on TV, practice with lassos (with the cat's scratching post), and let them "ride" large stuffed animals.  One of the things I've noticed on the rodeos is the riders are only allowed to stay on the bull 8 seconds.  I was under the impression this was for the safety of the cowboys, but recently learned it is to protect the bulls.  It prevents the bulls from becoming overly stressed and keeps them from having their spirit broken.  The bull teaches me to pace myself; I'm more likely to maintain my drive and enthusiasm if my gait is steady than if I pour all my energy into one burst of speed. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

View from the Mountaintop

  From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Universe (World):
Ferguson based this image on Cadair Idris (roughly translated "chair of Idris"), a mountain in Wales.  In Welsh mythology, Idris was a giant skilled in astronomy, poetry and philosophy who used the mountain as an armchair to gaze at the stars.  Looking down below and up above from that height would be inspirational indeed.  It reminds me of hiking trips where we used a topographical map, with all its squiggly lines, that showed the elevations of natural and man-made features.  But to look at such a map and to be on top of such a mountain would be two very different experiences.  The map might give me intellectual knowledge, but the mountaintop would connect all the dots mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

     From the Beasts of Albion, the "Crane:"
At the pond I frequently visit, there are no cranes, but there are small blue and great blue herons.  I've almost overlooked them before, as they can stand still as a statue waiting for a fish or a frog to wander by.  It's no wonder these birds are associated with calm, poise, and patience.  In Gray's rendering, the bird holds a crane bag in one foot - a pouch modern-day druids use to store and carry their spiritual objects.  This symbol implies that the spiritual resides in me, and if I want to make that connection (or ascend the mountain above), I'm going to have to learn to be still, quiet and composed no matter what's going on around me.