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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Haughty or Humble?

This week I'll be using the Whimsical Tarot, a deck created by Dorothy Morrison and illustrated by Mary Hanson Roberts; it is published by U.S. Games. The other deck I'll be using with the Whimsical is the Over the Moon Oracle, created and self-published by Kristen through PrinterStudio.com. Since each back also represents a playing card, I may also make use of Kristen's Twelve of Hearts Cartomancy online guide. Today's draws are the Ten of Swords and "Support:"
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Four-score Men and Four-score more,
Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before.
 Samuel Arnold - Juvenile Amusements, 1797
          When the Ten of Swords is happening to me, it feels as if the world is plotting against me. I perceive myself as the innocent victim who had no hand in the cause of my fate. But what would the outside observer see? Smug arrogance or a sense of intellectual superiority could possibly be their point of view. I can't help but think of the widely touted, largest ocean liner with all the latest amenities - the Titanic. Sometimes pride can make you miss important details (like having enough lifeboats).
          The Support card (Six of Clubs) shows a young boy giving a girl with a package a lift in his wheelbarrow. If the young lady was haughty and self-centered, I don't imagine the lad would be willing to help. Perhaps instead she admitted how heavy the box was, and how tired she was after walking such a long way. Humility has a way of opening doors. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." Here's to a day of keeping doors and minds open.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Moving through Change

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Queen of Pentacles; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, "Moving:"
          The Queen of Pentacles is as practical and resourceful as her husband, but she has a nurturing role instead of a leadership role. Unlike her sister in the Cups suit, she shows her caring side in down-to-earth ways. She might bake a pie for someone who's got the blues, bring over the 'Help Wanted' ads for someone looking for a job (and type up a resume while she's there), or help a friend put together a barbecue grill that seems to have one hundred parts. This queen always leaves behind a physical memento.
          The Moving card suggests two possibilities: the chaos of change before adjustment or the clearing out of the past to make way for the new. Now any kind of transition that brings disorder is likely to drive the Queen nuts; she likes to be organized. Her strategy to stay sane will be to try to maintain some semblance of normalcy, some link to the usual day-to-day routine. I can almost hear her telling the King now, "Yes dear, we will have our dinner together, even if we have to sit among the boxes and eat Chinese take-out from cartons."

Friday, May 29, 2015

Inclusive or Reclusive?

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Two of Cups; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, "Isolation:"
          These cards are about as opposite as can be. On one hand, there is the Two of Cups which represents making a connection with another person. It may be as simple as a shared interest or cause, or it may be about finding emotional intimacy with someone. Regardless of which type, there is a bond formed that results in no longer feeling alone. Yet that is exactly what is portrayed in Isolation - a person on a bare rock in the middle of the sea. There's no impression of relaxing in solitude on a tropical island; the feeling here is one of desolation and separation. Rudyard Kipling once wrote, "We're all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding." Why the hell do we do this, wearing masks instead of being genuine? My first guess was it has something to do with feeling vulnerable and worrying about where we'll wind up on someone's yardstick. But then I came across this excerpt of a poem ("The Winter of Listening") by David Whyte:
What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.
Maybe it's not so much what other's think of me that makes me feel isolated, but what I think of me.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Keep It Real

From the Cosmic Tarot, Temperance; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, "Sadness:"
          When the Temperance card shows up, I always think of Siddhartha Gautama. He began his life as a prince, living a life of indulgence, entitlement and excess. But when he realized the luxury he enjoyed wouldn't protect him from sickness, old age or death, he left home and became an ascetic. Siddhartha not only left behind the pleasures in his life, he also severely limited his food intake until he was virtually skin and bones. When he discovered this would not eliminate suffering either, he meditated until he awoke to the Middle Way. There were no extremes on this new path and no labels of good/bad. The inner resource he tapped into showed him how to sit in the center of the see-saw of his mind, unaffected by ups and downs.
          The Sadness card uses the owl as a dividing line between an ebony and indigo night sky. It points out the tendency for humans to exaggerate how they feel. I don't just feel gutted, I think I feel a level of agony that no other person on earth has ever felt. But when I fall for that extreme way of thinking, I place myself on a mountain far away from people who have experienced this kind of pain. My "uniqueness" prevents me from accepting their guidance and wisdom. Do I want to be special, or do I want relief? I bet I know which option that owl would choose.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Seed Sowing

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Three of Swords; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, "Karma:"
          Instead of a heart, a rose has been pierced in this Three of Swords. What was beautiful has been destroyed, and the woman and two men seem to be having a funeral of sorts. When I moved back to my hometown after college, a man with whom I'd previously had a relationship wanted to start dating again. But only a few weeks after our rekindled relationship began, I discovered that he was currently engaged to another woman. I will not write the words I said to him, but suffice it to say it was fiery and sharp. He attempted to apologize by sending a dozen roses to my workplace each day for a week. Every day they arrived, I cut off the rose heads and left the vase full of stems on my desk. They were a symbol of what he had done to our relationship, and I wanted to be reminded so I would not be lured back.
          A crystal is a solid structure whose atoms and molecules are arranged in an orderly, repeating pattern extending in all three directions. The "repeating pattern" of this mineral makes it a suitable image for karma. Imagine planting a flower garden with one black-eyed susan and five purple coneflowers. Each flower head will produce dozens of seeds with the potential to sprout the following year. From a Buddhist perspective, the intentions behind my thoughts, words and actions can produce karmic "seeds." These seeds may be wholesome or unwholesome; each seed will be patterned after the motivation that created it. But if I recognize these seeds (habitual patterns), I don't have to water and tend them - I can choose a different response. It is typical for most humans to want to lash out when they have been hurt or to turn inward and soak in self-pity. Either response is self-centered, and the Karma card cautions that such a reaction will produce seeds I won't welcome when they sprout later.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Endings and Outlooks

From the Cosmic Tarot, Death; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, "Hope:"
          Maybe it's the bird perched on his bony finger, but this Death doesn't seem intimidating to me at all. He reminds me of Discworld's Death, lover of cats and kittens, who is more of a hero than villain. The destruction around him looks similar to what was left behind when the flood waters receded here in 1994 (with less mud). Watching the waters rise higher and higher, I remember well the emotional reactions back then. First came the fear of the impending catastrophe, which was followed by numbness and then grief for the losses. As with any ending, hopefully there is acceptance at some point; I embrace my feelings yet become willing to let them go. No amount of anger or sadness will rewrite history. The Hope card shows a young man planting a tree. With the right care, it might produce apples in a few years. Or not. That is the tricky thing about optimism - staying positive without building a concrete expectation of what happiness will look like. The tree might not produce apples, but it might provide shade and beauty. Without assumptions, I can welcome what comes.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Full Up

From the Cosmic Tarot, the Ten of Cups; from the L'Oeil de Lotus, "Union:"
          This woman sits on her bare bum among ten overflowing cups. And though she doesn't look ecstatically happy, I believe she is content. She has learned to ground her emotions instead of being carried off by them. Life has been lived fully, and lessons have been assimilated. But there is no diploma or graduation; her restlessness will move her to choose one cup and start another journey. Yet nothing will be wasted; she will carry the wisdom of those other cups with her.
          And where will this lass be headed? The Union card suggests toward a partnership or commitment of some kind. There can be emotional fulfillment when I learn to compassionately accept myself, but there is another kind when I find this contentedness with another person or group. Ideas, hobbies and goals are much more fun when I have someone else to share them with. Even the challenges don't seem as insurmountable when someone walks the road with me. So I'll raise my cup and watch the horizon, eager to see who I will meet along the way.
Tarot Pink
Just wanted to give a shout out for the Indiegogo project "Tarot Pink." Here are a few of the cards Hexi shared on Aeclectic:
From what I understand, the deck/app will be published regardless if they reach their goal, but it would mean less money for cancer research. If you can, I hope you'll support their endeavor.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Use the Key

This week I'll be using the Cosmic Tarot, created by Norbert Losche and published by U.S. Games. I'll also be drawing from L'Oeil de Lotus (Eye of the Lotus), created by Colette and Gérard Lougarre and published by Vox Arkhana. Today's cards are the Nine of Pentacles and "Choice:"
          With her feathered friend right outside the window, I imagine this woman to have bird feeders and bird houses on her estate. The key in her right hand is an indicator that she is not a "kept" woman, but has control of her own life - an independent, self-made person. And while the financial resources she has make her life comfortable in many ways, all the stuff she might buy isn't what bring her lasting happiness. Her contentment comes from having the time to enjoy the beauty of her garden and the blue hue of the sky. Time is a precious commodity.
          The Choice card shows a forked road, one that leads up the mountain and one that leads down to the valley. The memorial on the right lane suggests the way most often traveled in the past. Going downhill, it is the path of least resistance. But if you toss in the tarot card's meaning, there is the added influence of having time, energy and resources to spare. Wouldn't it be better in such a case to push outside my comfort zone, to challenge myself to explore, learn and attempt new things? I believe I've just been handed a set of keys.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Results and Backers

From the Greenwood Tarot, the King of Stones (Pentacles); from the Shaman's Oracle, the "Ancestor of Tribes:"
          This is not a young horse or pony in the Greenwood card but a Przewalski's horse - the only true wild horse left in the world today. Like the King of Stones, this stocky horse is built for survival. The King demands not only that you put your money where your mouth is, but also your time and energy. Dreams aren't worth much to him if they're never brought into reality. Common sense and hard work are the ideals he holds, but he wouldn't object to taking time to enjoy the fruit these standards produce. The Ancestor of Tribes is a reminder of the collective support that can come from family, friends and acquaintances. When trying to make an aspiration or goal into something concrete, it's good to have a group that's got your back. Even if they're not financial benefactors, those who encourage and gently nudge us can make a huge difference in whether we're successful in our endeavors.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reset Button

From the Greenwood Tarot, the Four of Arrows (Swords); from the Shaman's Oracle, the "Hunter of Dreams:"
Zen teachers often tell their students, "Return to your original state," meaning the state of mind that is uncluttered and spacious. It makes me think of computers, ipods and other technology that allow you to return the system to its original factory settings if infected with bugs or viruses. Too bad humans don't have such a button; I tend to use walks in nature, meditation (active or passive) and sleep to rest and clear my mind. The Hunter of Dreams isn't just looking for an enjoyable dream. He's looking for ways to open the door of perception so that transforming realizations can enter the mind. Seeing the butterfly hovering over the sleeping man, I'd say that is exactly what's happening.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Muddy Waters Will Clear

From the Greenwood Tarot, the Queen of Cups; from the Shaman's Oracle, the "Ancestor of Hope:"
          I've witnessed herons standing still in water for long periods of time, watching below for food to swim past. They are a perfect representation of the Queen of Cups, who has no problem standing in her emotions (unlike me). When I feel anger, fear, grief or frustration, I want to act to make the discomfort go away. But Pema Chodron says I should embrace and watch it instead. What? You want me to stand in that icky, algae-covered, muddy water? "Acknowledge the feeling, give it your full, compassionate, even welcoming attention, and even if it’s only for a few seconds, drop the story line about the feeling. This allows you to have a direct experience of it, free of interpretation. Don’t fuel it with concepts or opinions about whether it’s good or bad. Just be present with the sensation," she replies. Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, in her book My Stroke of Insight, notes that emotions run their course in ninety seconds. Only if they get rekindled by the story line behind them do they last longer. If I can pay close attention to the sensation of the emotion and let my thoughts glide on by, it will pass soon enough. The Ancestor of Hope card shows the painting of a horse and symbolizes the strength of perseverance, the ability to hold on to hope without any expectation around it. Movement and change is inevitable. As Chodron put it, "You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Good Medicine

From the Greenwood Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the Shaman's Oracle, the "Hunter of Gifts:"
          Isn't this a beautiful solar costume this woman is wearing? She dances because it is the end of summer, and Potter subtitles this card "Ecstasy." She's not moping like most Five of Cups cards, she's using her energy to surrender to life. I'm a Grey's Anatomy fan, and one of the things Meredith Grey does with her doctor buddies when she's stressed, grieving or faced with an impossible quandary is "dance it out." They take the energy that was keeping them on the emotional hamster wheel and release it. Sounds like good medicine to me.
          When I saw the SO card was called the Hunter of Gifts, I almost expected to see a Christmas tree. But the gifts he hunts is not the physical kind you wrap up, but the ones that will bring fulfillment within. I was out on the back porch early yesterday morning doing a listening meditation. I was amazed at all the bird songs I heard, but with my eyes closed I could also smell the flowers in bloom and feel the breeze on my face. I just had to pause long enough to be aware of them. So dance little sister, don't let all that broken glass stay inside you. There's plenty of good still in the world.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


From the Greenwood Tarot, the Nine of Stones (Pentacles); from the Shaman's Oracle, "Shaman of Tradition:"
          Potter gives her tarot card the keyword "tradition" which aligns with the Shaman of Tradition. I looked up the word on dictionary.reference.com for a definition and found "the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice." I honestly don't think I have any traditions, at least not family ones. But the man in the Greenwood card is surrounded by stones, not by people, and I am reminded wisdom comes from different sources. The SO's companion book states the shaman, "draws on the deep-rooted customs of the land" - could that include the earth and all of nature too? If so, then I have been given traditions by my larger family.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Through a Different Lens

From the Greenwood Tarot, the Knight of Cups; from the Shaman's Oracle, "Journeyer:"
          Most salmon never make it back to the ocean after spawning; they literally die for the greater good of maintaining the species. This is the wisdom of the salmon: sometimes personal sacrifices must be made for the benefit of all. It is very much like the idealism of the Knight of Cups who holds and acts on higher principles and goals. Being practical is not necessarily seen as doing the right thing. The Journeyer represents the shaman who travels to other realms to bring back answers. The spiritual worlds of the journeyer are the lower (subconscious), middle (conscious), and upper (superconscious). Like the knight, the goal as a seeker is not for personal bliss but to provide a service by seeing through a different lens. This requires digging deep; an offering of blood, sweat and tears may be required. Quick fixers need not apply for this job.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Use the Cruise Control

This week I'll be using the Greenwood Tarot, created by Chesca Potter and published by Thorsons. Mark Ryan helped write the accompanying text. I'll also be using the Shaman's Oracle, created by Wil Kinghan with text by John Matthews and published by Watkins. Today's draws are the Six of Arrows (Swords) and "Spirit of Nurture:"
          Even though I'm using a different deck, I've drawn the same tarot card as yesterday. Here a man sets sail in toward a tree covered island as the sun sets and moon rises. My attention is drawn to the six-pointed star (hexagram) on the sail. In Eastern philosophies, it represents a union of opposites - physical and spiritual, masculine and feminine. It is the center symbol for the heart chakra, and can indicate all four elements in alchemy. Known as the Seal of Solomon in high magic, it also has come to represent the Jewish faith. Potter gives this card the keyword "transition," and describes it as "an emotional retreat." This description fits nicely with the next card, the Spirit of Nurture.  The cave art shows a spirit house, a refuge in times of adversity. It is a place to recover strength and gather thoughts before continuing on the journey. I could use such a haven now. The hexagram reminds me how the challenges of outer life are also challenging my inner life. Looks like its time to suspend activity (mental and physical) in favor of some breathing space.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Muddled Minds

From the Tarot of the Secret Forest, the Six of Swords; from the Faeries' Oracle, "Indi:"
          I'm feeling sluggish this morning after a sleepless night, and I've got a busy day ahead. I don't think even a whole pot of coffee would fix this feeling. When I opened up my email, I had a daily thought from Blue Mountain Center of Meditation: "Plain old inertia is the underlying cause of many of our day-to-day difficulties. You will be feeling listless, oppressed, weighted down by lassitude; you won’t want to do anything at all." The solution it suggested was physical - get moving. The Six of Swords with its flowing river seems to bear this wisdom too, but it also implies a change in attitude. This is paralleled in Indi of the Faeries, who represents wishy-washy indecisiveness. Do this, do that or don't do anything? Yet if I move from self-centered thinking to other-centered thinking, the decision about what to do is a no-brainer.

Friday, May 15, 2015


From the Tarot of the Secret Forest, the Five of Swords; from the Faeries' Oracle, "He of the Fiery Sword:"
          A porcupine waddles past a pile of scat that marks the entrance of his burrow. In the animal kingdom, it is a way to mark territory. Since the Swords suit encompasses knowledge, ideas and communication, this card almost shouts, "This is my area of expertise. Don't even think about opening your mouth, because I will prove just how stupid you are." But He of the Fiery Sword shows up to represent the active side of spiritual justice and protection. He would allow everyone the chance to speak and express their ideas, regardless of their education. Why? Because justice based on anger is only revenge; justice based on arrogance is only humiliation. Even the most common person might have something important to say.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Identifying Bugs

From the Tarot of the Secret Forest, the Nine of Swords; from the Faeries' Oracle, "The Oakmen:"
          This poor fellow is surrounded by a giant millipede or centipede. The flattened body of a centipede has one pair of legs per segment, and it has a pair of poison claws behind the head. On a millipede, the body is rounded with two pair of legs per segment, and they have no poison claws or legs. They usually coil up when disturbed, which makes me think the invertebrate in the card is a millipede. But based on the fellow's body language, he's made the  assumption that he is in some kind of trouble or danger. The Oak Men show up to add a dose of strength and wisdom. They suggest looking deeply at the situation, past the layers of superficiality, and consult with others who have more experience. I think my mentors would tell me to grab my snowball of thoughts and emotions as it begins to roll downhill; before it picks up speed and size, I need to take a close look at it. Is life as I know it really coming to an end, or have my emotions colluded with my thoughts to convince me of something that isn't even true? Eckhart Tolle wrote, “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking.” Question everything.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Breathing Platforms

From the Tarot of the Secret Forest, the Six of Wands; from the Faeries' Oracle, "Sylvanius:"
          Is this the forest version of a parade float? I don't see any cheering supporters, so perhaps not. The image did bring up a memory of my grandmother and a story she once told me. Right before she was to be married, her father took her to Ireland for a visit (not the same as a bachelorette party, but at least there's no hangover in the morning). I'm sure he wanted to allow my grandmother to be the center of attention, pampered and cared for by family there. He knew that once married, much of her time and energy would be devoted to her husband and children.
          Sylvanius represents cutting through illusions and having the truth revealed. It would be easy to say the Six of Wands paired with this card means accomplishments are revealed and acknowledged by others. But what happens after the parade is over? Have you ever walked up long flights of steps, such as those in a large hospital? The steps often have stopping places - a platform - where you can stop and catch your breath. It doesn't mean you've arrived and have no further to go, it's just a resting spot. After I've met a challenge, reached a goal and been rewarded, the journey doesn't stop. I may pause and enjoy the moment, but the journey is ongoing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Time Creates Clarity

From the Tarot of the Secret Forest, the Seven of Pentacles; from the Faeries' Oracle, "Geeeeeooo the Slooow:"
          It looks like the caterpillars had a good season, as their butterfly forms flutter along the path. They succeeded in not being plucked up by a bird as they munched their way through the forest. Their chrysalises were cleverly concealed as they dissolved their bodies to create a new form. And now they have emerged, transformed into nectar-seeking fliers. I suppose next season's success will be based partly on how well they adapt to change and partly on good fortune. While I can't change my luck, I can learn to adjust and roll with what comes. Geeeeeooo appears to emphasize the need for patience rather than impulsiveness when it comes to adaptation. He prefers setting a pace one can maintain while waiting for the natural unfolding of things. Trying to forcefully push or pull elements into alignment will only create more messes; he suggests waiting for the water to clear so what is there can be seen. Decisions will be made and actions taken, but first it is important to observe without assumptions. Time will create clarity.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pause for Reason

From the Tarot of the Secret Forest, Strength; from the Faeries' Oracle, "Nelys the Alchemyst:"
           The Secret Forest booklet explains the Strength card as "instinct versus reason, reason versus instinct." Indeed, I had such a battle last week when I acted from instinct and disregarded the possible consequences that might happen from my actions. It was one of those moments when I look back and think, "How could I have been so stupid?!" The answer is that I didn't hit the pause button before I reacted. So now I sit with an ice pack on my very swollen, black and blue leg and foot, because I got frustrated with some invasive bamboo and tried to "Bruce Lee" it. Note to self: bamboo may break easily, but what is rooted will snap back with great force. Now I would love for Nelys the Alchemyst to wave her wand over my leg and foot, but what she transforms is internal. Yet the change she brings is the kind that can't be undone - once you see and understand, it's impossible to pretend not to know. I think my body will be grateful for that!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ideas Come, Ideas Go

This week I'll be using Tarot of the Secret Forest, created by Lucia Mattioli and published by Lo Scarabeo. I'll also be drawing from the Faeries' Oracle created by Brian Froud with text by Jessica Macbeth; it was published by Simon & Schuster. Today's cards are the Two of Swords and "Taitin the Sylph:"
          On the edge of a cliff grows a small evergreen tree while the large stump of another stands beside it. Is it necessary to cut down the other tree too? Was the weight of the overhanging tree causing problems, or did it just impair someone's view of the valley? Will erosion happen with no trees there, creating a mudslide later? The booklet states it is time for analysis and decisions made without the interference of emotion. The only problem with being disconnected from emotions is that the benefits of it may focus on one person or one group and leave out all others. Enter Taitin the Sylph. She is connected with mental quickness and discernment, yet she also represents the characteristic of ideas and minds - it is their nature to change like the wind. Remember the pesticide DDT that was sprayed indiscriminately during the latter half of World War II to control malaria and typhus? It seemed like a great idea at the time, but Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring would uncover the devastation to wildlife it caused. It was a passionate plea to stop the widespread use of the pesticide, but it was also firmly based in fact. Sometimes such passion can help us hear and see what we might overlook; then we can take a more scientific approach when it is time to choose.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Go, See, Learn

From the Tarot of the Radiant Path, the Fool; from the Mirrors of the Heart, "Sight:"

I've learned to heed the call of my heart. I've learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I've learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.” 
― Steve Goodier
          Can I explore today, even those places that make me feel vulnerable and afraid? Can I observe without speaking or making mental notes? Can I learn without prepackaged sentiment or judgment? Better to take a few risks than to wade through crumpled papers with "what if" written on them. Better to explore and watch with wonder than drag around a dried-up mind filled with cynicism. Life is good ―  go, see, learn.