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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Independence Even in a Crowd

From the Badger's Forest Tarot, the Nine of Crows (Pentacles); from the Gemstone Oracle, "Tiger Eye:"
          The flock of crows over the field of grain remind me of the ribbons of blackbirds I often see on summer evenings winding across the sky. As my friend Sharyn says about crows, "they all go to work in the morning and come home together at night." Independently the crows may seek their food sources, but when the day is done they come together to roost in massive numbers (except in nesting season). Such groups offer protection from predators and allow the crows to communicate with each other about what they've experienced during the day. When my dad died unexpectedly several years ago, my mom quickly learned to be self-sufficient. Yet she realized she still needed the company of others; she said she never turned down an invitation that would include her in a group heading out for some fun. The freedom of autonomy can be enjoyable but inclusive involvement has its pluses too.
          The quote and keywords for tiger eye are:
Taking the decision-making process away from people disempowers them. It also makes them much less likely to buy into the decision, however right it may be. One’s own conscience remains the ultimate arbiter. ~ Lama Surya Das
personal freedom, independence, self-reliance, disciplined approach
The message of tiger eye appears to caution against getting caught up in the herd mentality. There's nothing wrong with hanging out with others and listening to their ideas and opinions about things. I have plenty to learn about the world, and like the crows, could benefit from any reliable information I might receive. Yet I still need to rely on my own conscience instead of jumping into any emotionally charged rally. I need to think with my head, not fly by feelings only.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spoonfuls of Chamomile Tea

From the Badger's Forest Tarot, the Four of Rabbits (Wands); from the  Gemstone Oracle, "Magnesite:"

          This illustration made me think of Beatrix Potter's storybook, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I can imagine Mother bunny waiting for Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter to come home for the evening. They are old enough to go off exploring during the day on their own, but at night they must return to the safety of home. Eventually they will leave and start families, but the bunnies still have some maturing to do. In fact, I'm sure Mother bunny has already gathered some chamomile flowers for Peter, knowing he probably has been busy stuffing his furry little cheeks in Mr. McGregor's garden.
          The quote and keywords for magnesite are:
Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain. Do not overlook tiny good actions, thinking they are of no benefit even; tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.
~ Gautama Buddha
cause and effect, reaping what’s been sown, gracefully accepting responsibility for one’s actions
Whether raising a child or working on a project, there are times when a person can feel like nothing is making a difference. For me personally, I think I miss the progress that has been made because I have a specific vision of what the end result will look like. There's a good chance things are moving in the right direction, but taking a different route to get there. And so today I will have hope that those "tiny good actions" I do will one day bring things to fruition, even if today only a foundation has been laid.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Loss and Confrontation

From the Badger's Forest Tarot, the Five of Foxes (Cups); from the Gemstone Oracle, "Picasso Jasper:"
          A fox sniffs where he last left his mate and kits. He had been out looking for food when he heard the dogs and hunters in the forest. Now his family is gone and won't be coming back. Loss in the animal world is so different than in the human one. We have the luxury of grieving our losses, of taking time to honor what was. Animals (though I do think they grieve) have survival wired into their brains. They don't get a chance to sit in a housecoat watching television while eating ice cream for days on end. They must jump back into living life rather quickly. The only times humans replicate this experience is when there has been a natural disaster or when in the middle of an assault or battle.
          The quote and keywords chosen for Picasso jasper are:
Remember, confrontation is about reconciliation and awareness, not judgement or anger.
~ Dale Partridge
conflict (within or external), fear of confrontation, working toward a resolution
When I've lost something or someone I love, my instinctual reaction is to strike back at what or who I believe is the cause. I don't merely want to even the playing field, I seek total annihilation. It's as if I think the pain I wish to cause will somehow wipe out the pain I feel. Yet the Picasso jasper's message suggests that while confrontation could be a sane way to deal with an injustice, harming another (whether physically or through character assassination) won't make things better. That kind of revenge won't change the history of what has happened. But calm confrontation, with information rather than anger exchanged, might help heal my heart.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Possibilities and Infatuations

From the Badger's Forest Tarot, the Ace of Crows (Pentacles); from the Gemstone Oracle, "Malachite:"
          I have to admit VanderHoeven confused me at first with this image of a crow and a bird bath. I generally associate birds with air (Swords) and water with emotions (Cups), yet this card represents the Ace of Pentacles. However being ground foragers, crows do spend much of their time on terra firma. And here's what I learned about these corvids and bird baths: they often use them as a place to deposit their food. Since they don't have strong beaks for tearing flesh, they'll leave things such as rodents in the water to "tenderize." And because a nesting mother needs water as well as food, crows will let food soak up water before taking it to their mate (and babies too). Those pizza crusts weren't just randomly dropped in the bird bath after all. In a very unusual way, this card does symbolize the resources that are available for tangible development.
          The quote and keywords chosen for malachite are:
Strange, that some of us, with quick alternate vision, see beyond our infatuations, and even while we rave on the heights, behold the wide plain where our persistent self pauses and awaits us. ~ George Eliot
protection, a need for caution and prudence, avoid impulsive behavior
In her quote, Eliot speaks of those compulsive desires that another more rational side knows is not a good idea. As someone who frequently gets attracted to new card decks, art supplies or books, I can relate. Malachite's message is to wait, do some deeper research and then decide if what I long for is really worth having. Often what looks wonderfully bright and shiny at first turns out to be just a piece of soggy pizza crust.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Feeling Boarish

From the Badger's Forest Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Gemstone Oracle, "Turquoise:"
          Wild boars are an invasive species here in the States. They cause extensive damage to pastures and crops and eat everything from acorns to newborn mammals (including livestock). They also carry diseases that are transmissible to humans. It is telling that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has a year-round open hunting season with no limit for them. Wild boars that are heavily hunted have adapted by foraging at night instead of the day. They are intelligent, wily and vicious if threatened. I admire their survival skills and tenacity, yet I respect and fear them because they are dangerous. The parallels between this animal and leaders (especially of religious or political groups) are obvious. Individuality is not favored; it is a closed community unless you want to join. But if you do, don't bring any doubts or personal opinions - they aren't allowed.
          The quote and keywords chosen for turquoise are:
There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.
~ Miguel Ruiz
lasting inner peace, contentment and satisfaction, equanimity, simplicity
Whoops... it appears from Mr. Ruiz's statement that my prejudice is showing. Just because I've had a bad experience with a few communities doesn't mean they are all bad. Many groups can give people a sense of belonging and offer encouragement when life gets tough. If life is chaotic and overwhelming, their philosophy can help them understand it and provide hope that things will get better. I suppose I shouldn't paint with such a wide brush.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Forest Full of Fireflies

This week I'll be using the Badger's Forest Tarot, a deck created and self-published by Nakisha VanderHoeven. Along with it, I'll be using my Gemstone Oracle (with actual stones). The meanings for the stones have loosely been chosen from the book Crystal and Gemstone Divination by Gail Butler (I added quotations with the keywords). Today's draws are the Queen of Rabbits (Wands) and "Sodalite:"
          Instead of the lights of Broadway, this Queen's pulse is quickened by the fireflies of the forest. I never know what I'll see or hear that might inspire and motivate me to action. It's often the simple things that twang my antennae, but like this rabbit, I have to be still long enough to pick up the creative signal. I bet this Queen will be taking leaps and bounds after she zeroes in on what has her attention. Full of confidence, she's not one to let the grass grow under her feet while she worries about details.
          The quote and keywords chosen for sodalite are:
Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. ~ Marcus Aurelius
contemplation, reflection, steering clear of old thought patterns, trusting insights
Unlike the Queen who trusts herself to pull off anything, I have lots of doubts and worries. I might tell myself I don't have enough skill, knowledge, money, support or time to do something new and innovative. Such apprehension and lack of faith in myself is akin to trapping the rabbit's fireflies in a jar. Their lights may twinkle for a short time, but then they'll die. I can replace my old thought patterns with new ones, if I am mindful and work at it. After all, those fireflies deserve to be dancing in the forest.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Heavy Chalice to Carry

From the Thoth Tarot, the Chariot; from the Vertical Oracle, "Mercy:"

          How do you move through life, completely covered with armor or with your vulnerability as exposed as a flower's petals? According to Crowley, the charioteer's sole function is to bear the holy grail (that's not a small satellite dish he's holding, but the inside of the chalice). The grail was a symbol of spiritual sacrifice and success. The knight's movements must not be based on self-centered desires, but on what will benefit everyone. The center of the grail is attached to his inner Self as a guiding system. But those little beasties pulling the wagon symbolize his will; they composed of his motives, emotions, physical desires and opinions. Now the head-to-toe armor is beginning to make sense: he's trying to make progress without interference from his own ego.
          Now I'm all for victory, but what happens if mistakes are made or I become exhausted or careless? Do I lose all sense of self-respect and self-worth for myself? Researcher Kristin Neff explains, "When our sense of self-worth stems from being a human being intrinsically worthy of respect—rather than being contingent on reaching certain goals—our sense of self-worth is much less easily shaken. By tapping into our inner wellsprings of kindness, acknowledging the shared nature of our imperfect human condition, we can start to feel more secure, accepted, and alive." Self-compassion (Mercy) provides the same benefits as high self-esteem without its drawbacks. Neff suggests such an approach will avoid the traps of narcissism, self-absorption, self-righteous anger, prejudice and discrimination. Perhaps that is the true message of the grail.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Emotional History

From the Thoth Tarot, the Six of Cups; from the Vertical Oracle, "Fragile:"
          All the lines that run to these six cups remind me of the manual telephone switchboards that required an operator to plug in a connection. Similarly, this card symbolizes harmony and joy among established relationships. These are people with whom I have a history, not anyone new. I once had a long-lost aunt make contact with me; she wanted me to love her as she did me. The problem was I had no memory of her at all (I was just a toddler when she last saw me). I had no foundation for such feelings and therefore had no emotional connection to her. I am reminded by this card to enjoy the pleasure of these long-term bonds; such networks require time to build and need to be acknowledged and appreciated.
           The Fragile card shows the new spring growth on a twig with a doe at the bottom. Anyone with a garden knows the birds, beasts and bugs love to eat this tender new growth - it is very vulnerable. The diamond at one corner and the pearl at the other contrast the hardness and softness of each gem. Alli explains the meaning as "a delicate condition to be tended." Any new friendship I make will require careful care and protection too (like the pearl). If I want a new connection to have a strong, firm foundation (the diamond), I'm going to have to take time to nurture and build it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Poison Antidote

From the Thoth Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the Vertical Oracle, "Reality Check:"
          Against a background of sharp shards, golden poison rains down. As it connects with the swords, it turns into drops of blood. I can honestly say (even with my dysfunctional childhood), no one has been more cruel and damaging to me than myself. My disparaging thoughts and words have caused many a twist in the heart and gut. As writer Anne Lamott has said, my mind can be like a bad neighborhood that I shouldn't go in alone. The Reality Check card suggests that it is time to test my perceptions and see if I've mistaken one aspect of a situation for the whole story. What are the facts? What do the people I trust say? An objective assessment is the only antidote for the squirrels in my head.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cup of Calmness

From the Thoth Tarot, the Knight (King) of Cups; from the Vertical Oracle, "Divine Intervention:"
          I love the way Harris painted this Knight; his wings make him appear to be a part of the crest of a wave. He holds the cup (Holy Grail) in front of him, allowing it to be his navigational device. This man represents a tricky balance between fire and water. The peacock in the bottom right corner looks as if it is beginning to fade away. It suggests the fiery will of the Knight is being directed away from power and libido to use for watery acts of compassion and kindness. (However I do notice his stallion gives it a longing glance, as they soar over it.) Yet unlike his Queen, he will retain enough fire to prevent any waves of emotion from overtaking him.
          I groaned when I drew the "Divine Intervention" card; I don't believe in any Santa Claus-like deity who makes changes in the real world because of prayers. But fear not, Alli describes this as a "benevolent interruption" caused by a "formless nameless wisdom." This I can work with. It reminds me of the Buddhist meditative technique called shamatha, or calm abiding, that allows the mind and body to relax and settle by focusing on the breath. Once settled, our boat sails above the ego (our peacock) to an open spaciousness that is pervaded by joy and clarity. I think it is this cup of calmness from which the Knight sips. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Combustible Combination

From the Thoth Tarot, the Prince of Wands (Knight); from the Vertical Oracle, "Escape:"
          The fiery Prince of Wands represents the airy part of fire, a combustible combination. Seasoned firefighters who discover a room pulling air into itself (for example through a crack under a door) generally evacuate, because it is a sign of a backdraft. A backdraft happens when oxygen in a fire is depleted, then a sudden intake of oxygen occurs and creates an explosion. Yep, that sounds like my buddy the Prince. He's got many great qualities - passionate enthusiasm, courage, charisma, an adventuresome spirit - that can take a terrible turn if arrogance takes control. Those around him who are caught unaware may get burned; he unfortunately will be too self-absorbed to care.
          The Escape card suggests an alternative to getting burnt to a crisp. Alli describes it as a "temporary grace period." The woman riding on the back the back of the dragonfly is able to rise above all the excitement and view things from a larger perspective. Away from the magnetic personality of the Prince as well as the herd mentality, she might have a clearer understanding of the likely repercussions. With a bit of the water element thrown in, she'll look for a way to prevent casualties instead of being indifferent to them. But since this is only a temporary reprieve, she's going to have to go back in the trenches. Hopefully it will be with a fire hose in hand.

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Eeyore Kind of Day

From the Thoth Tarot, the Seven of Disks; from the Vertical Oracle, "Gnosis:"
          Ah geez... it looks like I drew the Eeyore card today - failure wrapped up with a gloomy bow. The disks are arranged in the shape of the geomantic figure rubeus (red). Connected to Mars, it is passion on steroids. From the looks of this card, it appears whatever the physical project or goal was, it got burnt to a crisp. I can relate to being full of fire about getting something done, yet being so pumped up, I throw caution and focus to the wind. Who hasn't started a new exercise program, and then pushed so hard they could hardly get out of bed the next morning? But all isn't lost - I still see a few glimmering coals underneath the disks. Now is the time to stay positive, pay attention and learn from mistakes. Even Eeyore can try to be a little less glum:
"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. 
"So it is." 
"And freezing." 
"Is it?" 
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."
          Gnosis is a sort of mystical insight or enlightenment; Alli calls it "a direct revelation of truth." More than religious or philosophical knowledge, it is a personal experience that opens the mind and heart wide open. This kind of spiritual knowing is inclusive rather than exclusive, embracing all rather than the few. While I prefer such life altering moments to be those created by by great beauty or joy, many of such insights have occurred when I was in the depths of pain. Yet even when my soul feels hollow, when I feel alone and afraid, I can find such wisdom available.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Uncarved Block

This week I'll be using the Thoth Tarot, created by Aleister Crowley with Lady Frieda Harris and published by U.S. Games. As a companion book for this deck, I'll be utilizing The Crowley Tarot, written by Akron (Charles F. Frey) and Hajo Banzhaf. I will also be drawing from the Vertical Oracle, created by Antero Alli with Sylvie Pickering and published by Vertical Pool. Today's cards are the Hanged Man and "Zero Point:"
          To bring me to a point of powerlessness and surrender, I have to be like this fellow - metaphorically having my feet and hands immobilized. All the avenues for struggle and fight would have to be removed. Yet even then, the battle goes on internally in the mind. I can sort through every file I have in my memory, attempting to use logic to solve the problem. Hopefully I will eventually exhaust myself, allowing me to relax into reality. Through accepting "what is," I realize I can't know or solve everything. Uncertainty is an uncomfortable place for me, but if I can stay there long enough, answers might come in unexpected ways.
          In geometry, a single point contains the potential of all possibilities. If it expands evenly outward in all directions, it might become a circle; going straight in one direction, it might become a line. Alli suggests this is a fresh start, "a clarity born from surrender to the moment." The Hanged Man often shows up when I am like the line - I have a very specific goal and one way to get there. Zero Point, on the other hand, encourages me to be like Taoism's "uncarved block." I must empty myself of preconceived ideas and expectations, so I can become the point that expands in a whole new way.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Indulging the Ego

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Four of Staves; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the "Cross:"
          Judging by the blotches of paint on the palette and the handles of those brushes, I would guess a painting has been done and set aside to dry. It is a good feeling to create something, even if it's only in the beginning stages. I often do a sketch in pen and then later add color with pencils or paint. Perhaps this artist is eyeing his work and thinking about the finishing touches he will apply later. Yet even with more to be done, there is still reason to celebrate because the inspiration is finally being made manifest.
          Bento uses an advertising poster for recruiting nurses in World War I for the Cross. This depiction is one of my favorite for this particular card because it emphasizes such sacrifice is for a selfless cause, a purpose with meaning. We humans tend to like attention, however, and it is easy to turn the focus on my effort instead of the reason for it. I want to be lauded and praised for my personal sacrifices instead of keeping the main objective in the forefront. The Cross reminds me to concentrate on the progress and breakthroughs instead turning it into something self-centered.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Buildings and Bears

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Six of Wands; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the "Bear:"
          The laurel wreath in the Staves card is a call back to the Greek wrestlers on the Five of Staves card I pulled this past Tuesday. It implies a challenge was met and conquered. The Greek/Roman architectural design would likely have been a plan for a temple to honor a god or goddess. The design reminds me of the temple built by Octavian (Augustus) to honor Mars after winning the battle of Philippi. Any leader worth his salt won't fail to recognize those who helped him secure his victory, whether god or human. Some of my greatest successes only materialized because I listened to the input of others, leaned on their support and learned from their wisdom.
          Bento uses an Ursa Major illustration for Bear. The Latin name for this constellation means "Greater Bear." It sounds like a title given to a triumphant person at the top of their game (like golfer Jack Nicklaus, know as the "Golden Bear"). In Lenormand-speak, this card can represent both strength and protection. This bear is facing the Six of Staves as if on guard. I am reminded that the second half of any victory involves maintaining it; my own complacency can be my worst enemy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Forget the CPR

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Ten of Swords; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the "Rider:"
          Seeing the bloody smear over the Marseilles-style Ten of Swords made me think of the phrase "beat a dead horse." Race horses and work horses that pull loads are often encouraged to move with a crop or whip. But if that horse isn't alive, it's not going anywhere no matter how much you flog it. The Swords suit refers to thoughts or communication; the Ten implies there is no further to go and no potential left. Whatever issue or ideology this card represents, the life has been suffocated out of it with no possibility for resuscitation. Yet the Rider card gallops in, suggesting the arrival of something new. I can stubbornly stand over my "dead horse" or pull myself up into the saddle of the "live" one. It's a choice of taking on the role of a martyr or deciding to try something different. I believe I'll be saying "giddy-up."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Watch Out for the Undertow

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Queen of Cups; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the "Anchor:"
          Though she may be represented only by a pool, the head of Poseidon carved into the garden wall arch implies the Queen of Cups' emotions run as deep as the oceans. The magpie - known for its chatter - is another symbol of her emotional depth. These birds are considered among the most intelligent of all animals; they have been observed taking part in elaborate grieving rituals. Now while I might feel the full intensity of emotions, I rarely express them. As a child, stepdad number one suppressed any tears with a slap or words meant to shame. Unfortunately, my habit seems to have been passed unintentionally to the next generation. My daughter and I, along with some of her friends and some of my friends, recently went to see the movie Inside Out. Parts of it were quite heartbreaking, and there were tears shed (but not by me). As we were walking out of the movie, someone asked my daughter if she cried. She replied, "Well, I cried on the inside. I'm like my mom." You never know when you're modeling behavior for someone. Yet along comes the Anchor, a Lenormand card that suggests perseverance, stability and security. It reminds me that expressing my emotions doesn't mean I'll be overwhelmed and drown in them. Instead, they might help wring out that heavy, wet sponge I'm carrying around. After all, it's not the waves that get you, it's the undertow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Breaking Up Concrete

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Five of Staves; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the "Ship:"
          Five javelins and a shield aren't exactly how I wanted to start my day (coffee first, please). But upon closer inspection, I see the shield contains an image of Greek wrestlers competing in the Olympic games. This isn't a battle to the death but a sparring match between athletes. The Five of Staves suggests if I want to do things my way, I'm going to have to offer the best option and argument. The stack of books on the chair imply that this may boil down to knowledge vs. experience. I'd prefer a little of both.
          Bento has used an 1870s, pre-dirigible airship for this Lenormand card. It can represent movement, travel or exploration. The illustration is obviously based on purely imagination, before such ships actually existed. And imagination along with an open mind might be a good idea today. If my opinions and ideas are set in concrete, I don't think any progress is going to be made.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bringers of Joy and Clarity

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Sun; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the "Heart:"
          Lovell has chosen a statue of Surya, a Hindu sun god, to illustrate this card. Surya is the chief of the classical planets in Hindu astrology and ia also associated with healing. He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed to seven horses (or one horse with seven heads) which represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras. Lovell's version feels as if there has been a breakthrough in understanding, one that brings clarity, energy and joy. I felt this way when I came across a verse in the Upaddha Sutta in which Ananda asks the Buddha if spiritual friends made up half of the holy life. Buddha tells him no, that such companions make up the whole of holy life. For me, such friendships definitely add clarity, energy and joy to my life. Which is a nice segue into the Lenormand card, the Heart. This is no decorative, valentine-like heart, but a blood-pumping one. Social scientist Bella DePaulo, who has focused her research on single people and friendships, discovered friends can have a greater effect on health than a spouse or other family member. No matter the number, today is a day to celebrate my sunny companions.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Devil and the Dog

This week I'll be using the Tyldwick Tarot, created and self-published by Neil Lovell. I'll also be using the Antiquarian Lenormand, created and self-published by Maree Bento. Today's draws are the Devil and the "Dog:"
          The Devil made me do it? Uh... no. See the mirror with the goat head at the top? That's a big clue that whatever is going on with me is an issue that has nothing to do with demons taking over my mind and body. I'm the problem, not some external force. My fear, sadness or anger can keep me from placing candles in that sconce and lighting a fire in the hearth so I can take a closer, clearer look. I woke up feeling restless and irritable this morning; it's hard to blame that on anything or anyone when the day hasn't even started.
          I miss having a dog (though we still have two cats). Whatever you want to do, they want to do as long as they can be with you. Loyal, loving and protective, they are some of the most devoted pets. The Lenormand Dog nuzzles my hand to encourage me to remain kind and trustworthy with my family, friends and acquaintances no matter what my mood. I don't want to wind up in the doghouse by making some careless, snappy remark. And if I turn that same love and kindness on myself, I might just discover what's underneath my prickliness.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Building while Burning

From the Fountain Tarot, the Eight of Coins; from the Devas of Creation Oracle, the "Element of Fire:"
          I've always enjoyed building and constructing things. I would make barracks and obstacle courses with shoe boxes for my collection of army men when I was as child. As an adult, I've built structures from birdhouses to bookcases. Had I been blessed with a head for numbers, I think I would have gone into the field of engineering. This fellow carefully constructing a cube is one of the paintings that convinced me to buy the Fountain. But look closely and you'll see that he's not building something simple, but an Escher-like creation.
          The Element of Fire incorporates all that is fiery, powerful and hot. Paired with the coins card, it emphasizes the need for passion and inspiration to fuel the energy it will take for perseverance. I've created or built many things, but most have been merely for a practical purpose. I didn't care to learn all the details or read all the books about what I was making, I just wanted to finish it so it could be used. But there have been a few inspirations over the years that did light a fire within. My Lojong for the Layperson project still makes me want to study and learn, to discover and dig out more truths. I imagine we all have something that stirs that inner excitement, we just have to find it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sharp Grace

From the Fountain Tarot, the Queen of Swords; from the Devas of Creation Oracle, "Cave:"
          The Queen of Swords can seem just as prickly and pointed as those geometric figures she slices her sword through. The booklet gives her the phrase "sharp grace," and indeed her brand of tough love can feel more cutting than kind. It is because she slices away secrets to get to the truth; she cuts through delusion so reality is laid bare. When she is done, it will have felt like a soul-piercing experience. The next card, Cave, explains her reasoning. Conway states it is about discovering "the underlying causes, the real meaning behind some problem." Delving into why I think or act as I do - my habitual patterns of behavior - can be scary. It is a surgery of sorts that can allow me to move out of the darkness (ignorance) back toward the light (understanding). I will no longer be a puppet with an internal sound loop controlling the strings. Sometimes mercy comes in strange packaging.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blinded by Choice, not Light

From the Fountain Tarot, the Seven of Cups; from the Devas of Creation, "The Source:"
          This woman looks overwhelmed; the booklet describes this Cups card as "lost in choice." My friend Sharyn sent me a dvd about dealing with dementia, and one of the suggestions in it had to do with choice. For instance, instead of asking the person what they want for dinner (open-ended question) just give them two choices (chicken or fish). We expect and demand a buffet of choices, but when we have them we're indecisive. What happens if the wrong cup is taken? Unless the choice is a one-way ticket with no return options, go ahead and risk a mistake. Even if at first taste is bitter, it might become like warm honey over time. Sip, savor and learn.
          The Source card looks like a blinding light, and Conway refers to it as Awareness and Being. According to Lurianic kabbalah, the Infinite contracted itself in order to make a space for creation. When the vessels of creation were completed, it filled them with Light (not your normal lightbulb kind of light). The vessels shattered, unable to contain it. Yet each piece of the vessel (you, me, Pluto, a mountain, etc.) still contained a shard of light. In other words, we contain something greater than our egos, something that looks with compassion at the whole of creation. That glowing ember is selfless and kind toward all (including oneself). Maybe if the Seven of Cups woman stills her body and quiets her mind, she might find that light and be led out of her foggy confusion.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dogged Dedication

From the Fountain Tarot, the Knight of Coins; from the Devas of Creation, "Mercury:"
          Not too long ago I came across an article on the web about a French postman who started collecting unusual pebbles and rocks on his daily route. He decided to build a castle with them and spent the next thirty-three years creating an extraordinary example of naive art architecture. Cheval (the postman) was definitely a Knight of Coins kind of guy, a person who achieves success through dogged determination and dedication. The Fountain booklet's phrase for this card is "methodical victories." Passion that burns out after a few days won't get you far. This guy might move like a tortoise but at least he'll finish the race.
          Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system. Being the closest to the Sun, it also makes the fastest orbit. It is named for the Roman deity Mercury, the messenger of the gods. This Deva's message is twofold. See how that knight is loitering under the arch? Mercury gives a prod to keep him from becoming so focused on details that he stops moving. Additionally, Mercury's role of messenger suggests that it might be a good idea to communicate and get feedback from others. Slow and steady is fine, just don't grind to a halt or isolate from others.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Kindness not Condescension

From the Fountain Tarot, the Three of Cups; from the Devas of Creation, the "Deva of Worlds:"
          Whatever liquid is in those little bowls, it appears it is being shared among them. No cup gets it all, but rather there is a back-and-forth adjustment being made. This is how I prefer my groups, where everyone gets a chance to speak and be listened to respectfully. I try to avoid those where there is a self-elected leader (read: know-it-all gasbag) or where there is one person who tells a tale of woe every week and becomes the center of attention (it's not change but pity they seek). I enjoy being in pods of people where roles move and fluctuate. These relationships are more likely to experience the key phrase the creators give this card: rejuvenating love.
          The ethereal form on the DoC card represents a bridge of sorts. From what I can grasp from the booklet, I believe it is what people might call the higher self - that part of us that is greater than the ego and concerned with the benefit of all rather than a few. I suppose I would label it my Buddha-nature. I do think everyone has this seed inside of them, though not everyone tends it and encourages it to grow. Some of us (finger pointing at myself) can easily get distracted from those "gardening" tasks. And what would this compassionate seed within encourage me to do? Accept, tolerate and be patient with all those folks in the group, even the arrogant or whiny ones. But do it with kindness rather than condescension.