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, January 31, 2015

Cleaning Out the Basement

From the Rohrig Tarot, the Moon; from the Master Tarot, "The Swordsman:"
          This woman has a serious case of moon-shine. It could be a good thing if it enables her to access those deeply hidden memory files. The past could show what is behind many of her behavior patterns and habits, many of which aren't very beneficial. But just as the moon controls the tides, these memories can trigger a strong emotional reaction. If she can stay grounded in reality - not frightened into thinking the past is happening in the present - she can make great strides in moving forward.
          The Swordsman parable is found in the Gospel of Thomas and tells of a man who wanted to murder a very powerful man. He drove his sword into the wall to see if he would be strong enough to kill him. After successfully doing so, he went out and assassinated the man. The authors suggest the powerful man is the ego, and the only way to overcome it is with the sword of impartial awareness. This part particularly caught my eye as it paralleled the Moon: "We start then separating ourselves from our habitual patterns, from our mechanical and automatic reactions... dropping them right there and then, because these things are not me." The ego is only concerned with itself. If I want to clean out my basement, I'm going to have to get past it first.

Friday, January 30, 2015

It's All Fun and Games...

From the Rohrig Tarot, the Devil; from the Master Tarot, "Prayer:"
          Yea, it's all fun and games until someone gets their eye poked out by one of those waxed eyebrows.  I think most people like to occasionally take their "bad" side out for a spin on a Harley-Davidson without a helmet. Pushing our normal boundary limits can be a thrilling way to deal with the stress of day-to-day life. But in that wide-open state, blowing down the highway at 100 mph, there is a line that I can cross. That line is called insanity - when I am trying so desperately to change the way I feel, I don't care about the consequences.
          I was listening to an online retreat with Phakchock Rinpoche in which he explained the reason why Buddhists do prostrations (a physical form of prayer). He said it was a reminder to reduce the ego and pride. Buddhist chants and prayers aren't directed toward an external force. The object is awaken our own inner capacities of compassion, courage and wisdom and to change our egoistic nature. Such prayer transforms my thoughts, words and deeds; it inspires me to open wide my heart and mind. The Devil and Prayer remind me that when I cross over into insanity, I am looking for an outside fix for an inside problem. The problem is within, and that's the only place I'll find a lasting solution.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Waiting to be Reborn

From the Rohrig Tarot, the Hanged Man; from the Master Tarot, "Twice Born:"
          The Rohrig companion book describes this image as the Magus/Magician becoming a Mystic. There is no more grasping at ideas, manipulating people or attempting to control situations. The Hanged Man turns the ego on its head; acceptance and surrender to reality is his lesson. He now knows that he knows nothing. Instead of taking action, he is content to observe without judgment his moment to moment experience.
          Twice Born is the story of Lazarus, who died and was then raised to life. Yet the booklet explains this card is not a literal rebirth but a symbol of the death of the old personality. He represents going through the "dark night of the soul," one who "has lost all that he had to lose, and found what has to be found. It did not happen through his effort, but through his utter helplessness." It is hard for me to admit that I can't change other people or situations any more than I can change the tilt of the earth's axis. Though humbling, it is also a relief to discover the world doesn't turn through my efforts. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


From the Rohrig Tarot, the Four of Disks; from the Master Tarot, the "Mustard Seed:"
          The man in the business suit represents power on the physical plane. He symbolizes my need for solidity and security in my life, yet he questions whether I am exaggerating or over-thinking my need. What kind of account balance do I show in the areas of money, health, time and energy? If what I have is enough to live a simple life well, then there is no reason for me to be jealous, tight-fisted, or anxious. Yet he would also encourage me to be a good steward of what I have, using my resources mindfully rather than wastefully. Perhaps I have made some "accounting" errors...
          The mustard seed is a parable about a tiny seed that grows into a large tree that offers shelter. In tying this card to the Four of Disks, I am reminded how small actions can grow into a large problem or a vital remedy. Innocent thoughts of "I can splurge this time" can lead to habits and issues later. On the other hand, I need to realize positive steps take time to produce beneficial results. The combination of the holidays (overeating) and a bum back (no exercise) has taken a toll on my health. Although I have become more cautious about what I eat and have added some light workouts to my schedule, I'm not going to get instant results. My health didn't get this way overnight, so change won't happen that fast either. I've got a little sprout that I need to continue to tend with care.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ruby Lips and Ivory Pearls

From the Rohrig Tarot, the Queen of Wands; from the Master Tarot, "The Pearl:"
          I can hear the Eagles singing about this queen: Raven hair and ruby lips, sparks fly from her finger tips. There's  no doubt this woman has a sex appeal, but getting a man is not her objective. She uses her allure and charisma to charm people to do what she wants. See that key in her hat/crown? She knows it doesn't matter what gender someone is; if you give them the right kind of attention they'll follow you anywhere. She can ferret out their ego's needs, and she'll use just the right words to captivate them. By the time she's worked her magic, they'll ask "How high?" when she says "Jump."
          The parable of the pearl tells of a merchant who finds a pearl of great worth and sells all his merchandise to purchase it. The lesson behind it is to stop being distracted by what's bright and shiny and look for what has enduring, true value. I can see two possible messages behind these cards. The first is that sensual and magnetic appeal can only last for so long. Looks fade, and eventually words will be questioned. Sincere kindness however, will stand the test of time. The second meaning could be that I need to investigate what has caught my eye and check it's true worth.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Failing Passively

From the Rohrig Tarot, the Seven of Wands; from the Master Tarot, "All Drunk:"
          This Seven of Wands is striking, as it shows a man taking a huge risk as he makes a leap. There will be no consolation prize or any award for congeniality if he doesn't make it. Such valor (the subtitle of this card) requires an unshakable faith that what he's doing is the right way of doing it. He's taking action according to his own set of principles and ideas in attaining a goal or in a creative adventure. Confidence, energy and enthusiasm will work along with courage to help him safely soar over that gap.
          Have you ever had an exciting opportunity present itself, but then an icy, cold fear sets in because you worry about failing? The All Drunk card shows several guys who don't want to think about such things, so they find a way to forget. Drugs and alcohol are chemical ways to bring on this state, but there are a myriad of other escapes - sitting in front of the TV or computer for hours on end, getting involved in emotional drama, or simply staying in bed are some other options. But if that guy isn't sober and at the top of his game, he'll never clear that chasm. Allowing myself to be frozen by fear is just a passive acceptance of failure. In the long run, that regret will probably outweigh all of my worries.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fulcrum of Fairness

This week I'll be using the Rohrig Tarot, created by Carl W. Rohrig and published by Sirio. I also have a companion book written by the artist and Francesca Marzano-Fritz and published by Bluestar Communications. The other deck I'll be drawing from is called a tarot, but I'll be using it as an oracle: the Master Tarot. It was created by Amerigo Folchi and Mario Montano and published by AG Muller. Today's cards are Justice and "Barabbas:"
          If you were to take the Fool out of the tarot deck, then place the first ten major arcana cards on one side and the last ten on the other, number eleven would fall right in the middle. Justice would be the fulcrum the other cards balance on, much like the scales the lady holds. Every card has its extreme, a point where it veers off the middle path. The Empress can be a nurturer or an over-protective control freak; the Hermit can use solitude as a time for reflection or as isolation. Justice reminds me to take a hard look at my opinions and ideas. They should be tested and weighed, then adjusted or abandoned as necessary to maintain objectivity.
          Here's a shifty-eyed fellow wearing a "wife-beater" and holding a chain. I would guess there would be an all-points bulletin out on him somewhere. He represents Barabbas of the gospels, an insurrectionist condemned to die. In the story, the Roman governor of Judea offered the crowd the choice of letting one man go free - Jesus or Barabbas. The crowd chose to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus. The story was a nifty way for the Christians to imply it wasn't the Romans who caused the crucifixion of their leader, but the Jews who clamored for his death. The story implies manipulating the government, yet the account itself aims to manipulate the reader. My fixed ideas can radically weight the scales of justice in favor of my opinions. If I don't want to be exploited by my own mind, I need to rebuild the fulcrum of fairness.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Use: (verb) to employ, to put into service.

From the Via Tarot, the Fool; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Parsley:"
          Spirit becomes matter as the Fool enters the material world. Seeing (as the authors describe it) the "sheer joy of existence" expressed on his face, makes me think of Joseph Campbell's quote, "Follow your bliss, and doors will open for you that you never knew existed." But with a dog about to sink its teeth into his bum, I think of Sarah Ban Breathnach's words, "Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren't any dragons." And therein lies the human conundrum - we want fun and excitement, but we also want safety and security. But this Fool has spiritual tools aplenty (though he may not be aware of them yet). The lion and ouroboros represent a continuous supply of inner strength. The caduceus (a gift of goodwill from Apollo to Hermes) symbolizes the friendships that will nurture and sustain him. The flower buds (with eyes on them) suggest passion and vision, yet they are also a reminder that this life comes with an expiration date.
          Petroselinium crispum, or common parsley, was an herb used by the Romans during banquets. They thought if it was worn on the head, it would prevent intoxication. Today I often see sprigs of it decorating the plates of a main dinner dish at restaurants. Most people tend to view it as a colorful garnish, but if chewed, this herb will help with bad breath from food odors such as garlic. Both these cards encourage me to be aware of the gifts and tools I have for navigating this life, but more importantly to use them.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Finding Something to be Grateful For

From the Via Tarot, the Nine of Cups; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Queen Anne's Lace:"
          The woman at the bottom of the Nine of Cups reminds me of Atlas; she holds up not only cups, but a body of water as well. The Thoth tradition labels this card "Happiness," and seeing her effort reminds me that contentment doesn't appear just because I stick my hand out waiting for it. The woman at the top with the downward-pointing sword underscores the importance of my thoughts in creating my own happiness. It is gray, chilly and rainy this morning. It is also the burial day of a man who was kind to me at a point in my life when I really needed a friend.
          Daucus carota is a type of wild carrot with finely divided, lacy leaves. Its flat cluster of small white flowers fold up as it ages, making it resemble a bird's nest. Like the cultivated carrot, it is a rich source of beta carotene. However the herb's root becomes too woody to consume unless it is harvested early. Such a time constraint suggests I need to actively look and hold on to beauty, joy and satisfaction when it is available. These good memories and a dose of gratitude can nurture and sustain me when those gray, rainy days come around.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fall from Idealism

From the Via Tarot, the Prince (Knight) of Wands; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Arnica:"
           Here in South Georgia, we have people who harvest "fat lighter" from the stumps of pine trees that have been cut down. This resin-filled heartwood lights quickly, is wind resistant, and burns hot enough to light larger pieces of wood. It's not a great wood for campfires or bonfires though, because it burns up too quickly. I see the Prince of Wands as a sort of fire starter, an idealist who is passionate about the causes he defines as worthy. Yet elementally he is "Air of Fire," meaning he enjoys pontificating and stirring the pot. Like the quick-burning fat lighter, his enthusiasm doesn't extend to the hard work of creating a solution.
          Arnica is an herb in the sunflower family. Its botanical name may be derived from the Greek arni, meaning "lamb," in reference to the plant's soft, hairy leaves. Though toxic when taken internally, arnica has been known as the "tumbler's cure-all" - an external treatment for bruises, sprains and muscle aches. This pair of cards make me think of my fall from idealism. Like most young people, I had great expectations about changing the world when I was in my twenties. But now I relate more to the words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky: "For, after all, you do grow up, you do outgrow your ideals, which turn to dust and ashes, which are shattered into fragments." At this stage of life, maybe I should just concentrate on changing me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cooling the Fevered Brow

From the Via Tarot, the Queen of Swords; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Feverfew:"
          With an upraised sword in one hand and a severed head in the other, this queen reminds me of Kali, Hindu goddess of power and change. The dripping head represents the ego, the part of me that is self-absorbed and only likes change if I would personally benefit from it. In the companion book, the authors describe the Queen of Swords as having an intellect "liberated from the constraints of habit." In other words, she doesn't fall into a predictable pattern of behavior when certain situations arise. There are no buttons to push to get a reaction from her.
          Feverfew is an herb I've grown in my garden in years past, primarily because it was supposed to be helpful in preventing migraines (though I didn't find it useful in this regard). Described as an anti-inflammatory by early medicinal herbalists, Chrysanthemum parthenium got its common name because it was believed to reduce fevers. The combination of the queen above and this plant suggests to me that passion does not necessarily equal objectivity, truth and justice. Sometimes I need to allow my adrenaline rush to subside in order to see and understand with clarity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Freshening the Mind

From the Via Tarot, the High Priestess; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Clove:"
          What a lovely depiction of the High Priestess as Artemis/Diana. Instead being in front of a veil, I imagine her sitting atop a sacred well. The hidden knowledge within is illuminated by the sun, indicating there is clarity and wisdom to be found here. The hounds' tails form the shape of a vesica piscis, a geometric shape that implies a gateway. But Artemis and her canine companions seem to be guarding the well; they require a payment of sorts: quietness and stillness.
          I had no idea that the Clove was the flower bud of a small tree until I drew one last week for Manner and Material's 52 Prompt ChallengeSyzygium aromaticum is a commonly used spice, but its essential oil has also proven useful as a painkiller in dental emergencies. This herb triggered a wispy memory of my grandmother this morning from my early childhood. During the holidays, she used dried cloves to stud oranges with, creating pomanders. After curing, these pomanders would last quite some time and served as a way to perfume and freshen the air. When I am in turmoil, I have found meditation to be of help in finding clarity and "freshening" my mind. It is a way to sit with a blank canvas, not imagining and planning what I will paint, but patiently waiting. That patient stillness will allow me to drop below my ego and find an open space much different than my constricted thoughts and emotions.

Monday, January 19, 2015


From the Via Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the Nature's Pharmacy Deck, "Stinging Nettle:"
           In the Thoth tradition the Nine of Swords is called Cruelty, and astrologically it is described as Mars in Gemini. Now I rarely use astrology in reading the cards, but today I'm making an exception because of an interesting coincidence. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Mars in Gemini person, is being celebrated today with a holiday in his honor. Mars shows up as our animal instincts, our aggressive nature. Gemini is both a mutable sign (concerned with change) and an air sign (characterized by language and logic with a love of freedom). MLK, a charismatic speaker and great thinker, was definitely motivated by issues of survival, safety and security. But I would not think of him as cruel - his actions were nonviolent and fueled by love. However his message and protests were seen as a harmful and disruptive by those with fixed ideas about civil rights.
          Urtica dioica, or stinging nettle, has tiny hairs with tips that come off when touched. Grabbing this plant bare-handed results in the hairs becoming needles that inject a substance that causes a painful sting. Yet if you harvest this plant carefully (gloved hands) and cook it, it becomes a spinach-like food rich in nutrients: vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Both these cards remind me that change can be painful and scary, but if done with patience, kindness and an open mind, it can lead to great things. As MLK taught us, it's all in the way you wield that sword.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Blind Determination?

This week I'll be using the Via Tarot, created by Susan Jameson and John Bonner; the book and deck set were published by Urania/AGM. I'll also be using the Nature's Pharmacy Deck created by the New York Botanical Garden and published by Chronicle Books. Today's draws are the Chariot and "Elder:"
           Whoa... I've heard of the tongue-in-cheek phrase "herding cats," but three tigers? That's a lot of feline power to manage. Yet they are suitable representations of the forces that lead to success: determination (perseverance), diligence (effort), and discipline (self-control). Unlike Strength which uses the "soft" powers of patience, compassion and courage, the Chariot uses a "hard" form of control -  personal choice followed by deliberate action. This charioteer is blindfolded, but she has a sea eagle as her guide. She doesn't succumb to distracting details or emotional disturbances, because the eagle keeps its eye on the goal in the distance. Movement toward that vision is the only thing on the agenda.
          Sambucus nigra (Elder/Elderberry) is a shrub that produces flat sprays of ivory flowers and purplish-black fruits. Because of the dark color of its fruits, people associated it with witchcraft and magic in European folklore. However, the Romans used the fruits as hair dye. All parts of the plant are poisonous except for the ripe fruit and flowers; wines, cordials and marmalade have been produced from these parts. Preliminary studies show this shrub may be effective in treating the flu, allergies and other respiratory problems. Elder is a plant with beneficial and dangerous qualities. I get the feeling the charioteer above should take off her blindfold; she shouldn't overlook either aspect. Surely there is room for discernment.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Bird in the Hand

From the Bonefire Tarot, the Two of Wands; from the Day of the Dead Lenormand, "Clouds:"
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble,
An' if I stay it will be double.
~ The Clash
          When I drew Gabi's Two of Wands this morning, the Clash song above started playing in my head. In one hand is a nice bouquet of pine cones, and in the other is the world served up as if on a silver platter. Here is the dilemma of staying in my comfort zone and being content with what I have, versus the desire to break from routine and go for what is exciting. Does my ambition have enough fuel to make a commitment and stick things out for the long haul? Or am I just bored and looking for relief (and really only interested in a short-term fix)?
          Clouds, especially colorful ones, are a bit worrisome. The pink and red ones make me think of the saying "red sky at morning, sailors take warning." The blue/purple clouds remind me of thunderstorms, and the green shade is the color of the sky before a tornado. In Lenormand, this card typically means confusion, uncertainty or changeable conditions. In previous situations, I have allowed myself to be caught up in the enthusiasm and eagerness of others over a project. The problem was that they intended for me to carry the ball and head toward the goal line. They had no intention of obligating themselves in any way. I have a feeling I need to wait, do some research and check my own motives before jumping into anything.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sadness and Swirling Skirts

From the Bonefire Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the Day of the Dead Lenormand, the "Woman:"
          Gabi did a good job of making this guy look depressed. Whatever has happened, he feels like all joy and hope in his life is gone. Being in the depths of the dark cave of depression can block out any rays of light, including those two cups still standing. Neither can he see the warm, cheerful-looking home that would take him in. Such sorrow creates a sense of isolation, the feeling that no one else could possibly understand such pain. But in the middle of this gloom-fest enters the Lenormand Woman, with her colorful skirt twirling. Because I don't read these cards traditionally (rather just as an oracle), I see her as representing characteristics of the feminine. She symbolizes receptivity and the urge to connect with other people. She would tell this fellow that if he does, he will find there are others who have experienced the deep sadness he feels too. But more importantly, they can offer support and suggestions for ways to get through it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sigh of Contentment

From the Bonefire Tarot, the Six of Cups; from the Day of the Dead Lenormand, the "Bouquet:"
          I like that Gabi used water with this card, as our memories lie in our unconscious. Like an old filing cabinet, some folders of events and people are close to the front and easily accessed, while some are stuffed way in the back in an effort to forget (which may show up with the Moon). This is a purposeful remembering of the past, yet the sandcastle and cottage show the woman clearly knows the difference from the present. She doesn't want to go back, but she is enjoying the stroll down memory lane.
          The Bouquet can represent a gift of affection, a nice surprise or a joyful celebration. One of Gabi's phrases for the Six of Cups was "a gift from the past, " and I think that fits well with these flowers. The number six represents a return to harmony, and with the Bouquet there is a sense of emotional comfort and pleasure. If these two cards were a sound, I would expect to hear a sigh of contentment.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Logic + Love

From the Bonefire Tarot, Strength; from the Day of the Dead Lenormand, "Heart:"
          This woman appears to be trying to soothe the lion, much like I do when I take my pets to the veterinarian. "Calm down, this will be over soon," she seems to be saying. A friend recently called to tell me she had been asked out to dinner by a man in one of her social groups. While eating, there were things he said that made her question his motives for asking her out as well as signs that suggested he was married. Being forthright, she asked him directly about both. He replied that he was married, but he couldn't help asking her out because he felt instinctively drawn to her. Had that been me, I would have been instinctively drawn to box his ears and break his nose. But just because I feel some way doesn't mean I have to act on this emotion. There are times when I have to inwardly tell myself the same thing I tell my pets.
          The Heart in Lenormand generally means romance, desire and affection, but with the Strength card I think the meaning goes a bit deeper. Here is an unconditional love that is combined with reason to produce compassion. Christians speak of the Passion of Christ, meaning the events that led up to his crucifixion. Passion comes from the Greek word paschein, meaning 'to suffer.' The prefix of 'com' added to it means to patiently suffer with. In other words, this is a strong love for myself and others that doesn't react but responds.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

An Option to Diversify

From the Bonefire Tarot, the Nine of Coins; from the Day of the Dead Lenormand, "Crossroad:"
          This woman isn't just hanging out in her garden, she has become a part of what she grows. She definitely has a gift for doing it well. Think of the names Jerry Garcia, Bill Gates and Hilary Clinton; I automatically associate them with occupations - music, computers, politics. Yet I am sure they each have more facets to their lives, many more interests or hobbies. Is it a good thing to become so involved in what you do that it becomes your identity? I suppose it would depend on your choice.
          Just the image of Crossroad brings to mind decisions, options and alternatives. Another keyword I came across for this card is diversification, one that I feel works well with the Nine of Coins. This tarot card reflects a time when hard work has paid off, enabling a person to enjoy additional ways to spend his or her time other than work. It's time to loosen up, have some fun and enjoy the wonders of life while there's still time. That Ten of Coins will be here before you know it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pain and Sacrifice, or Yes It's Monday

From the Bonefire Tarot, the Three of Swords; from the Day of the Dead Lenormand, the "Cross:"
          The boat adrift on the sea is an accurate description for how I've felt after major losses in my life - confused, heartsick, and moving in circles with no direction. Sorrow and grief are like living in a fog, where nothing seems quite real or clear. Now don't get me wrong; I think it is natural to sit with our pain, acknowledge it and hold it for a while. But at some point, I need to grab that wheel and steer the boat back to land. Otherwise, those swords are liable to sink my boat, and I'll be down in the dark depths (a very hard place from which to return).
          The Cross is associated with pain, but also with sacrifice. What more could someone have to give up who's already had their heart shredded? I don't need to let go of good memories or lessons learned from the situation. But what I do need to release is the fact that all the tears and heartache in the world is not going to change history. What's done is done; I must use my energy for dealing with the present. Goodness knows, there's enough to keep me busy right here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Watching Old Movies

This week I'll be using two self-published decks: The Bonefire Tarot by Gabrielle Angus-West and the Day of the Dead Lenormand by Edmund Zebrowski. Today's draws are Judgment and "Fish:"
          The trumpets blare in an attempt to shake this woman from the way she perceives life. There are two games represented here. The chess piece symbolizes the people who live in strategy mode, thinking those who die with the most toys will win. The dice symbolize people who feel life is just a crap shoot; since we're all going to die anyway, who cares what we do? Yet the stopwatch says time to wake up is running out. The scenes of her life play across her skin, as if she is watching a film of all the events leading up to this present moment. Will she be able to see beyond her self-absorption, understanding the parts she has played? If she can accept that not only has she been wounded but has caused injury to others, she'll begin to see life through a new set of eyes.
          The Fish generally represent abundant resources, freedom and flexibility. Looking back at Judgment, what would happen if the light of understanding dawns? Would she see that she doesn't have to fall under the label of "oppressed" or "oppressor?" Her rebirth comes when she can acknowledge that it is not about burdens or blame, but about truth. Living wisely, without guilt or resentment, is an existence filled with abundance and freedom. It's a lot easier to swim without those weights tied around my fins.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fight for Right

From the Motherpeace Tarot, the Magician; from the Toltec Oracle, "Witsilopochtli:"
          This particular Magician is actively using all four tools - the intellect, emotions, ambitions and physical resources. She wears the skin of a predator, yet she stares at a spiritual symbol (sphinx). She is focused on what she wants to create, but the sphinx holds her in check so that her will is not used to harm or take advantage of another. Her hunt is likely to be successful.
          Witsilopochtli is literally the "left-handed hummingbird" who also happens to be the Toltec god of war. Now a hummingbird seems like an awfully strange totem to choose for war, because it is so tiny. Although it is so small, it was chosen because it has the largest heart of all the birds. For the Toltecs, the right side referred to the physical and rational part of humans, while the left side symbolized the mysterious and spiritual aspect. So like the leopard-clad shaman, Witsilopochtli has plenty of fire and power, but it is employed by a spiritual warrior rather than a self-seeker. The noble fight for right is an internal rather external one.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Setting Things Right

From the Motherpeace Tarot, Justice; from the Toltec Oracle, "Koyolshauki:"
          The creators for the Motherpeace title the chapter for Justice "Setting Things Right." The image shows the Norns (Fates) communing with the elements and beings of the earth. It is suggested that when mankind's ego got "too big for its britches," we lost our sense of interconnection and responsibility to care for each other. Yet nature has a way of re-balancing itself, often in ways that aren't comfortable for our egos. Unlike the Tower experience, Noble explains that Justice "works in calm, quiet ways, giving us what we need rather than what we want." I may ignore, fight or work with this force, but regardless of my choice it will happen.
          Koyolshauki is the Toltec name for the moon. Unlike the sun that eliminates the darkness when it shines, the moon coexists with it. It allows us to see our shadow self, the part of ourselves that we want to deny. Such a denial is like having five children and claiming only three. Of the remaining two, one is a troublemaker and the other has gifts that frighten us. Yet the hellion part of ourselves can help us take a stand when we are afraid, and the talented one can help us find solutions where there are obstacles. My ego is not comfortable letting these two out of their locked rooms, but it appears they might be helpful in putting things back in balance.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Paging Dr. Temperance Brennan

From the Motherpeace Tarot, the Priestess (Queen) of Swords; from the Toltec Oracle, "Osomatl:"
          The Queen/Priestess of Swords works in a stark environment; she believes the fastest way to clarity and truth is to see life in its stripped-down form. Like her husband, she uses a wide angle lens to view situations. Her snowy owl is a symbol of her objectivity. She's no sweet, young thing - she's a veteran of life - and no one is likely to emotionally manipulate her or take advantage of her in any way. Her discernment and intellect make her a solver of problems and quite the strategist, but warm and fuzzy she is not.
          Osomatl is the Monkey, representing curiosity and a desire for wisdom - "just and instant, just a jump" between ignorance and knowledge. Sanchez explains that the Toltecs did not believe in passive learning, allowing a teacher to pour information into a mind. While teachers might guide, the student was expected to learn through experience and to seek out wisdom themselves. The Queen and Osomatl suggest that reading or listening to the thoughts and opinions of others may not be the best way for me to learn. Their backgrounds and past could be influencing their present ideas, which may not be relevant. I may be guided by what is true for them, but it is important that I trust the empirical evidence I gather myself.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Reason to Celebrate

From the Motherpeace Tarot, the Four of Wands; from the Toltec Oracle, "Tonatiu:"
          The creators of the Motherpeace explain that this image depicts a celebration of a young girl's rite of passage. The number four could easily represent the four stages of life: child, teenager, adult and elder. Each stage has different tasks to learn and goals to accomplish. I think it is important to commemorate our milestones, even the small ones, otherwise life begins to feel like we're trudging rather than skipping along. If I look close enough, I'll find something to take delight in no matter which rod I'm currently holding.
          Tonatiu is Father Sun in the Toltec mythology, symbolizing power and energy, joy and warmth. Sanchez emphasizes that we each have our own light to bring - a sacred purpose. What we give may not change the world, but it may change a person's day. It may add a spark of joy where there was sorrow, clarity where there was confusion or encouragement where there was a lack of confidence. Any stage of life can mentor another. And no matter whether I'm on the giving or receiving end, it's reason enough like to celebrate.