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, December 31, 2013

Tortoise on the Half-Shell

From the Thoth Tarot, the Princess (Page) of Cups:
The Princess of Cups is elementally Earth of Water. Her emotions (and the emotions of others) pull her along with the force of a rip tide. But her shell-like cup holds a tortoise, an animal that lives on solid ground. She knows that emotions can be channeled toward good; they may be what drive people to implement beneficial programs and policies. For instance, MADD was founded in 1980 in California by Candice Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. And Donna Norris was the push needed to create the Amber Alert system after the abduction and murder of her 9-year-old daughter Amber Hagerman in 1996. I am encouraged by this Princess to use my emotions to spur me toward healing and helpfulness rather than burying myself in anger, fear or grief.

From the Vertical Oracle comes "Fear:"

The wall of fire and the bionic arm reaching through it seems like something out of an old horror flick or a glimpse into someone's nightmare. Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat (real or not). The author advises: "Imposter fears may actually do more harm than real fears if they close your mind and immobilize your will." So basically, I can hide and shiver inside my tortoise shell, or I can let my fear motivate me to do something positive and constructive.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Do the Work, Pay Close Attention

From the Thoth Tarot, the Princess (Page) of Disks:
At first glance, I was a bit concerned about the bare trees in the background because of the suit this Princess represents. But then I noticed the pregnant belly of the young woman; she has been preparing to create. Her disk shows a symbol of balance, meaning she can't just wish something into existence. She must study and learn as well as practice the skills she'll need to become proficient. The learning aspect is shown in the yellow background and in the light emanating from the spear tip. Soon she will be ready to produce her handiwork, and then she will firmly thrust her spear into the ground.

From the Vertical Oracle comes the card "Synchronicity:"
The two similar (and bizarre) horse heads reflect the phrase the author gives this card: "a message from the No Coincidences Dept." In other words, a meaningful occurrence of being in the right place at the right time is coming this way (and includes noticing its importance). The horse heads are backed by two berry-like fruits, suggesting that if I act or take heed of this circumstance, there will be results produced. Taking into account the Princess above, I would do well to do the work and pay attention to those meaningful coincidences.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Protective Fencing

From the Thoth Tarot, the Five of Swords:
Five different swords meet at their tips; the one with the crown is obviously the "winner" but not without cost (a piece of the blade is missing). Rose petals make the outline of an upside down pentagram, suggesting this conflict is mostly the result of human values being upended. Crowley's title for this card is "Defeat," and there is a hint of deep wounds that break down what was once strong and stable. Though the Five of Swords often implies a group of people arguing over their opinions and ideas, it can be an inner battle within one person. Regardless of the winner and losers, things will never be the same. Yet the right-side up pentagon made by the rose petals tell me a strength will be born from this conflict.

From the Vertical Oracle comes "Fragile:"
The leaf buds on the branch represent what is fragile; the phrase the author gives this card is: "a delicate condition to be tended." The diamond and pearl are complete opposites in their degrees of hardness, and though the doe may be considered gentle, she would eat the tender leaf buds in winter to survive. I really hate conflict and try to avoid it, but if someone were to hurt someone or something I love, I'd go after them with both barrels. I don't have to argue, but I might be called on to protect. As the author says, "Build a fence around whatever needs protection and nurture what is struggling to grow."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Perils of Progress

This week I'll be using the Thoth Tarot, designed by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris; it was published by U.S. Games. Today's draw is the Eight of Wands:
These wands, that are titled "Swiftness," look so different from the others in their suit I almost didn't recognize them. They are like bolts of lightning, shooting outward in all direction. They sit atop an octahedron which overlays a square. The energy here suggests that there will be quick movement from the two-dimensional to the three-dimensional, or in other words, ideas and goals are about to get grounded in reality. The rainbow arc above suggests that this will be a favorable event, a progression I should welcome.

The other deck I'll be using this week is the Vertical Oracle, created by Antero Alli with images by Sylvie Pickering; it was published by Vertical Pool. This morning's card is "Chapel Perilous:"
This disturbing and chaotic card is described as "the dangers of self-delusion" and implores that I make sure I see the difference between reality and illusion. As the creator says, "eat the meal not the menu." To be honest, when change happens in my life (especially quickly), I can turn into Chicken Little and imagine the sky to be falling. Panic can make emotions appear logical, even when there is no evidence to back them up. So if I start down that perilous road, I'll have to breathe deeply, pull out my detective hat, and search for facts.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Two Commitments

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Ten of Staves:
Good grief, that is one impressive wall of firewood that someone's cut. It reminds me that after a day of sitting on my bum reading and relaxing, I have to take down the tree and decorations. But if I look at the handle and ends of several of the cords of wood, I'll see they are the color red, symbolizing what motivates me. Unfortunately, these pieces seem buried underneath the rest of the stack. Yes I have tasks and responsibilities to take care of, but the Ten of Staves encourages me to take time to do what I'm passionate about as well.

From the Antiquarian Lenormard comes the "Ring:"
The ring is a symbol of a commitment, and if not for an interesting tidbit about myself, I would think it only had to do with taking care of my duties. On my ring finger I wear two bands, the gold one that my husband slipped on my finger when we were married and a silver one I bought for myself. The silver band reminds me that though I have a commitment to my partner, I don't need to give up my interests, ideas or beliefs. Like the two rings that rest side by side, so we share a life together but also give each other room to grow in individual ways. Though I do have obligations to take care of, I must remember to squeeze in some time for myself as well.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Balancing System

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Two of Coins:
Anyone who's ever had a hanging basket (or in this case bucket), knows how heavy it can get after you water the plant. The pulley system balances out the weight, making it easier to pull back up to its original position. The reddish tone of the bricks symbolizes the great amount of energy being expended. We only have a certain amount of time, energy and money to spread over all of our obligations - both those we want to do and those we must do. Like all "twos," this card is about choosing; in this case, deciding how we are going to "spend" our coins (time, energy, money). After the stress of yesterday - an overload of emotion, physical activity and eating - I need a balancing system to rein myself back in to a place of stability.

The card today from the Antiquarian Lenormand is the "Bear:"
Maree has used a 1690's illustration of Ursa Major to depict the Bear. When I think of a bear, I imagine a female fiercely protecting her cubs. As I try to "re-balance" myself after the indulgences of yesterday, I need to keep in mind that such discipline is not punishment but a way to take care of myself. There's nothing wrong with a celebratory day filled with good food and lots of folks, but I can't live that way. Today the quiet house, yoga and meditation, and a much simpler diet will help me feel better and more grounded. I know the stores are having all kinds of sales today, but I think I will give those a pass.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

In the Spirit of the Season

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Moon:
The lobster (or crawfish) draws my eye in this card, and I am reminded of its hard exoskeleton. We humans are similar in that most of us prefer to hide our soft, vulnerable side with a tough exterior. The moon is reflected in a mirror, which represents another reality - the unconscious. As I will be tossed together with a large family group today, the Moon reminds me that what is going on within may not be shown on the outside. Things may be very different than how they appear. A sullen face or grimace may not have anything to do with me; perhaps the person has worries I'm unaware of or has the beginning of a migraine. In the spirit of the season, it may be wise to make the charitable assumption and not take things personally.

From the Antiquarian Lenormand comes the "Cross:"
I love that Maree used a Red Cross nurse to illustrate this card. Instead of suggesting a sacrifice born of resentful obligation or a self-centered victim, it depicts a sacrifice motivated by compassion. It encourages me to push my ego aside and do what is right because of my love for others, not because I want a gold star by my name. So as the discussion topics turn toward politics or religions at the dinner table, I can keep my opinions to myself instead of demanding the right to air my point of view. Why mess up a lovely meal that all of us worked so hard to put together? It's really not that important.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Applying Perfume

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Nine of Cups:
A variety of nine decanters of perfume sit on a dresser. Each one is filled with a different fragrance - one may be citrusy and make us feel energized, one may be spicy and exotic and make us feel sexy, while another may be a light, calming aroma. Smell is connected to the "emotion center" of our brains, so each smell is likely to bring a particular memory or feeling with it. Leg one of our holiday activity starts today with cooking in preparation for the meal tomorrow then later celebrations with my 93 yr. old mother-in-law and my grandsons. It will be a hectic day, which I partly dread and partly look forward to enjoying. Yet the Nine of Cups reminds me that I have a choice in what fragrance I apply; I can choose satisfaction and contentment or one of those awful, overpowering scents. It's not all about just making a wish...

From the Antiquarian Lenormand comes the "Moon:"
One meaning the Moon card is associated with is our emotions. The partial eclipse (shown here) and phases of the moon indicate change and cycles. Just as the scent of applied perfume gradually loses its strength, the Moon suggests that my mood is not fixed in concrete. What I will try to remember as I navigate through today and tomorrow is avoid expectations and take each moment as it comes. If I have "one of those moments," all I need to do is pause, take a deep breath and let it fade. Then I won't be so distracted and overpowered by one emotion that I miss all the enjoyment.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Private Affair

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Three of Cups:
Two storks have built a nest and wait for an egg to hatch. The elaborately designed wrought iron gate is featured prominently in this image and indicates both boundaries and protection. This is a time of celebration, but it is a quiet, private affair, not a rowdy party with no holds barred. I can't help but think this alludes to my immediate family and our time together before the insanity of the holiday begins tomorrow. Hopefully we will have a chance to hang out, relax, play a few games and enjoy each other's company.

From the Antiquarian Lenormand comes the card "Flowers:"
 It is easy to see why this card is associated with what is beautiful and pleasurable. The idea of spending time (just the three of us) inside our cocoon of time sounds lovely. But I must make an effort to keep my mind from whirling about, thinking about all I should do before tomorrow. All I really need to concentrate is what will bring joy into our home.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nature Journal 2013

I've spoken before on my blog about my daily walks and the nature journal I keep. I try to draw something I've seen on my walk and write about what is going on during the season each day. It has definitely made me more observant, and the walks themselves can be meditative. Anyway, I thought I'd share one page from each month this year so you can see what I'm talking about. (You'll have to click on the image to expand it if you want a larger view.)


Ice packs and Bandaids

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Tower:
Uh-oh, it's that card. Behind the cracked glass is a picture of the Tower of Babel - an attempt by men to reach heaven. Of course it was just an ego thing rather than true devotion, so of course things didn't work out too well. Along the outside frame is a collection of masks, a symbol of the personalities I hide behind to keep others from seeing my true self. What's in my collection? There's the good daughter/DIL, the good wife, the good mother, the good friend. Notice a theme here? I somehow think I have to be this perfect incarnation in all my roles, yet I will never reach those expectations. And if I keep trying to do so, that fall is going to result in a mighty big lump on my head.

From the Antiquarian Lenormand comes the "Whip:"
Do you remember Silas, the Opus Dei zealot in the Da Vinci Code who would scourge himself? That is what this card brings to mind, especially with the blood spatters. I grew up hearing things like, "Don't just do your best, be the best" and "No matter what, don't be a quitter." I don't need someone else to whip me into line, I can do that very well all on my own. Unfortunately those survival tactics I needed in childhood followed me into adulthood, and they don't serve me well anymore. I need to relax those standards (which weren't really mine to begin with) and be the person I'm comfortable with. Now where are the ice pack and box of bandaids...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Passion Plus Logic

This week I'll be using the Tyldwick Tarot, created and published by Neil Lovell. This morning's draw is the Knight of Wands:
Lovell uses fireplaces to emphasize the fiery nature of the knights, and being "fire of fire," this fellow has a lot of heat (so much that there is a heat shield in place). The two staffs with laurel wreaths and eagles indicate he has moved beyond the "learning through adventure" stage of the Page and now wants to actively follow his passion by doing something with what he's learned. The problem is this knight has so many irons in the fire, he doesn't give them the time and effort they need and ends up not finishing much of what he starts. I too can let my excitement and enthusiasm about many things keep me from accomplishing my objective. Sounds like it may be time to narrow my focus.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Antiquarian Lenormand, created and published by Maree Bento. I will be using it more as an oracle than reading it in the traditional Lenormand way. Today's card is the "Gentleman:"
The fact that this is both a man and Albert Einstein suggests looking at things from a logical, structured standpoint. Yet the Ace of Hearts associated with the Gentleman also tells me I don't need to leave behind my passion to do so. But having a system, being organized and using rational thinking may help me get a handle on some of the changes and objectives I would like to accomplish.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Loud and Proud

From the Victorian Romantic Tarot, the Page of Wands:
Body language and attire tell me this kid has chutzpah - the ability to say or do things that might cause other folks to pause. I've known women who could wear the most outlandish outfits, yet they managed to carry them off because they oozed with confidence. But if practice makes progress, then perhaps taking small steps out of my comfort zone can help me develop a bit more boldness. But there's no way in hell you're going to get me in that outfit.

From the Flowers' Messages comes the "Sunflower:"
I can't think of another flower more noticeable than the large sunflower. It stands tall and proud, reaching for the sun. Though I love interacting with people (individuals or small groups), I'm more of an introvert than an extrovert. The creator of the deck gives it the keyword "manifestation." Between the Page above and this flower, I get the message that if I want to create in a concrete way (rather than just in my head), I'm going to have to be willing to put myself and my ideas out in the public eye.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pat Your Head, Rub Your Tummy

From the Victorian Romantic Tarot, the Moon:
The hand over the head of this woman reminded me of the trick of patting your head while rubbing your stomach (or twirling your right foot in a clockwise direction while drawing a number six in the air with your finger). Our brains are magnificent organs, but they also have little "quirks." They are keepers of memories, some which have been hidden away in dark, forgotten closets. Real life can trigger our brain to make tiny cracks in our unconscious, and things seep out. It can be an emotional, confusing experience, yet I must remind myself this is only the ghost of the past and isn't happening in the present. However it may signal a need for me to look at my past to figure out why I'm reacting and feeling the way I am now.

From the Flowers' Messages comes the card "Alstroemerica" or Peruvian Lily:
This flower is given the keyword "goodwill," a term I define as being concerned with the welfare of all others, not just a select few. When I am consumed with fear or self-pity, I can button myself in a tiny pocket with no room but my self-centered concerns. The Peruvian lily reminds me that the key to feeling better is reaching out to help others, even if it is only in some small way. What benefits them will also benefit me as well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Do It Anyway

From the Victorian Romantic, the Knight of Swords:
I feel like this woman, naked and vulnerable, swooped up by the Rider of Truth and Justice. There are times when decisions have to be made - hard ones that make a lump in your throat and cause your gut to twist. It doesn't matter that what you must do is the "right thing" or that it's "for the best." Truth can slice like a sharp sword, and isn't concerned about the emotional tsunami it might cause. I've heard the truth can set you free, but all I feel at the moment is heavy of heart.

From the Flowers' Messages comes "Hyacinth:"
The creator of this deck assigns "spiritual blessings" as a meaning for this flower. Ugh. I'm not in the mood to make a gratitude list or engage in any spiritual practice; I would prefer to be mad at life right now. Which is why I probably need to do them anyway.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Little Help Here, Universe

From the Victorian Romantic, the Two of Wands:
Santa left an early present on my doorstep - a sweet kitten/cat. One problem: I already have two, older, indoor cats, one of whom would shred this little one to pieces if I tried to bring her inside. Currently she is staying inside our storage shed and I am feeding her. She is SO affectionate for a feral cat that I would think she belonged to someone, but she is too bone-thin for that to be possible. So as I see the two tall cedars standing behind the woman, I think of my two older cats. The palm leaf the woman holds is the kitten, and the decision I must make about what to do with her. We do have a Humane Animal Shelter here, but they are bursting at the seams (I have volunteered there) and do euthanize animals that aren't adopted in a certain time frame. I've sent out the "Bat Signal" to friends in hopes of finding a Christmas miracle for this little sweetie.

From the Flowers' Messages comes "Black Eyed Susan:"
The creator of this deck gives this flower the keywords of "joy and laughter." That's precisely what I think the kitten would bring to someone's life if they were to adopt her. This little cuddle-bum would be a great companion for someone, though I know pets come with responsibilities attached. Okay Universe, I'm asking for some help here!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fancy Lures

From the Victorian Romantic, the Seven of Cups:
Can you see the people swimming underwater in this image? They're looking for lasting happiness, and this fairy of fate is using all kinds of lures to reel them in. We humans are good at inventing lines like "money can't buy happiness," yet we still run after it like it can. Or we tell ourselves when we meet our soul mate, find a creative outlet, make a name for ourselves, or _____ (fill in the blank), we'll feel complete and content. The cosmic joke is that the fulfillment we search for is inside ourselves, not outside us. If I knew exactly where inside to find it, I'd write a book about it and make a million dollars [grin]. I've seen fleeting glimpses though, so I'm committed to continuing the effort.

From the Flowers' Messages comes the card "Chrysanthemum:"
What a man can be, he must be. ~ Abraham Maslow
The creators of this deck assign "self-actualization" to this flower. According to Maslow, self-actualized people share several characteristics:

~ They have realistic perceptions of themselves, others and the world around them.

~ They are concerned with solving problems outside of themselves, including helping others and finding solutions to problems in the external world. These people are often motivated by a sense of personal responsibility and ethics.

~They are spontaneous in their thoughts and behavior. While they can conform to rules and social expectations, they also tend to be open and unconventional.

~ They are resourceful, independent and enjoy periods of solitude.

~ They tend to view the world with a continual sense of appreciation, wonder and awe.

~ They often have peak experiences, or moments of intense joy, awe and ecstasy. After these experiences, they feel inspired, strengthened, renewed or transformed.

I have a feeling that many of these characteristics develop when people tap into their Higher Self instead of being lured by their egos. I need to learn how to recognize those hooks before I chase the bait.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Life Sometimes Sucks

From the Victorian Romantic Tarot, the Three of Swords:
The bundle at the woman's feet and the rider in the background suggest her dreams of riding off into the sunset with her lover just got dashed. Her hamster wheel of thoughts endlessly spins one question after another: "What did I do wrong? How could he/she hurt me like this? Will I ever get past the pain and emptiness I feel?" No matter if the relationship was a group, a friend or a lover, such a betrayal is never easy. But the dog is a gentle reminder that her life is not over; there are still people who care about her. She has a decision - either she can become bitter over the experience or open her heart wider, acknowledging that others have felt just as she does now. I bet I know which choice her loyal canine companion is hoping for.

The card from the Flowers' Messages today is "Hosta:"
The message of this flower is one of hope (these cards mirror yesterday's draw but with the tarot and oracle reversed). It's hard to feel that "the sun will come out tomorrow" when constant waves of hurt and grief wash over you. There is the feeling that the world should stop and drop everything in acknowledgment, but it just keeps moving on. I've buried too many friends and relatives and had my heart broken numerous times to not realize that time does change things. It doesn't mean I won't miss the relationship or the person, but the razor that cut so deep before will eventually begin to lose its sharp edge.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It Is What It Is

This week I'll be using the Victorian Romantic Tarot, created by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov and published by Magic Realist Press. Today's card is the Star:
What brings you healing and makes you feel whole? How do you maintain hope and optimism? Where do you find peace and serenity? The Star incorporates all these things, but like the lotus flowers in the image, I don't think they spring up from thin air. Here's my list (I hope you'll share yours too):
~ Being outside, taking walks.
~ Art and music (making it myself or enjoying the work of someone else).
~ Spiritual practices such as meditation and contemplative reading.
~ Talking and laughing with friends and family.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Flowers' Messages, created by Annie Marquier (Author) and Véronique Dumont (Illustrator) and published by Éditions Universelles du Verseau. This morning's card is "Hollyhock:"
The author writes that Hollyhock "brings the healing of grief and sorrow from the past" and indicates a need to move forward. At first I couldn't make a connection with grief, until I realized how much of my life didn't happen as planned (Does anyone's?). No matter how many candles I burn for the regrets of my past or how much time I waste thinking about what I could have done differently, nothing will ever change history. It is what it is; my best bet is to do the things I listed above and stay in the present moment as much as possible.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lacing Up

From the Wildwood Tarot, the Two of Stones (pentacles/coins):
The spring boxing matches between hares are the source of the phrase "mad as a March hare." Scientists originally thought this was a battle between males, but later figured out it was a female fighting off the unwanted advances of an overexcited male. The stance of the female indicates that if I am to maintain my balance and well-being today, whether physically or financially, I am going to have to stand up for myself when someone insists I must do what they want. No problem... I'm lacing up my gloves now.

From the Shaman's Oracle comes the "Dancer of Inspiration:"
This cave drawing reminds me of a spinning top, and thus a connection to the balance in the tarot card above. Inspiration is an idea or influence that stimulates me to action. Have you ever found yourself moving to some music or singing along without consciously thinking about doing it? That is the magic of inspiration - it motivates. Rather than do what I "should," maybe today is a good day for moving as I'm inspired to do so.