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, December 31, 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air

From the Tarot of the Radiant Path, the Page of Swords; from Mirrors of the Heart, Creativity:
          This Page of Swords is surrounded by flowers around his feet and blowing in the breeze. They are symbols of words and ideas that will both teach and inspire him in positive ways. His sword is planted in the ground rather than held in his hands (which are open to receive the flowers swirling about him). His focus is firmly on learning and listening for the moment. The Creativity card suggests how he'll be stimulated to use the revelations and information he gathers. Since he is a member of the Swords family, my guess is that writing or speaking will be in his future. I was thrilled yesterday to discover Coursera (an online option for non-credited college courses) thanks to a blog post by Sharyn. I love to learn new things, and they nearly always inspire me to create outside my comfort zone. JJ's 52 Week Sketch Challenge, for instance, is what prompted me to produce the Elements of Recovery Deck. Processing new information can be like a breath of fresh air.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Closed Bags and Minds

From the Tarot of the Radiant Path, the Eight of Swords; from Mirrors of the Heart, Balance:
        Eight bags are shown in this card, one full of swords and another full of treasure. But the other six are firmly tied closed. The bag of swords is similar to my viewpoints. The environment I've lived in, the knowledge I've learned and the experiences I've had have shaped them. But like the closed bags, I must remember that my understanding is limited. There is so much I don't know, and a huge part of life I haven't participated in. Like the saying "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," I'd be wise to do the same with my thoughts. The Balance card made me think of playing basketball; one of the tricks I'd do with the ball was to attempt to spin it on my middle finger. And though I could keep it spinning and balanced for a few seconds, it would inevitably wobble and fall off. Balanced thinking is just as hard. Can I stay open to other folk's ideas and sincerely consider them, even if they are in conflict with my own? Can I be comfortable with allowing people to think differently without trying to sway them to my viewpoint? Can I be comfortable with listening instead of talking? I think these are the ways I might get a chance to peer inside some of those closed bags.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Solutions of the Shadow

From the Tarot of the Radiant Path, the Devil; from Mirrors of the Heart, Mirrors:
          The Devil is shown with a background of humans trying to deal with overwhelming emotions. Most of us would prefer to detour around such feelings, which is right up this demon's alley. He tells us we should indulge and comfort ourselves with various vices, because we deserve them. His reasoning is that we need the narcotic effect such behaviors offer to get through this in one piece. Of course the devil is only the ego in my head; it wants only pleasure and success with no challenges or pain to deal with (an impossibility as a human). The Mirrors card (actually the title card that I accidentally drew but decided to keep) shows a face partly in light and partly shadowed. Life shows me both sides of who I am, including the darker sides of my personality. My shadow side includes what my ego considers to be facets of my inferiority, and to compensate, it projects these characteristics on other people. Jung stated, "A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps." The only way out is to acknowledge this side of myself, rather than numb it or project it onto others. Yet seeing the hearts in her eyes, I am reminded that there is a luminous aspect of myself too from which I can choose to act.
And when we can see that we are all chipped and broken, we begin to value our life as an expression of the teaching that we are truly perfect and complete, just as we are.
—Pat Enkyo O’hara

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Balanced Spending

From the Tarot of the Radiant Path, the Two of Pentacles; from Mirrors of the Heart, Light:
          A young woman and an older man work on some sort of sculpture or device. The man holds a ruler in one hand, giving the impression that pieces must be put together in a certain order and with precision. Yet he allows the younger woman to place the last piece at the top. These two folks are a reflection of my mind and body. During the morning and early afternoon, I have the energy of the woman; but as the day wears on and the night comes, I have the energy of the older man. I suppose we all have such internal rhythms, some of us being morning chickens and the rest night owls. The balance found in the Two of Pentacles reminds me to work with my natural cycles to be the most productive and less accident prone. The Light card shines a bright beam on reality, keeping me from any illusions. I have a tendency to want to get things done sooner rather than later. Already anything that hints of Christmas has already been packed up and put back in the attic, and the house cleaned. But if I'm working with rather than against the limits of my energy, I would be wise to listen to what my physical self is trying to tell me. Rather than having an overspent body, I'll have one that's rested and ready for activities tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Challenges Met

From the Tarot of the Radiant Path, the Six of Wands; from Mirrors of the Heart, Peace:
          This is an unusual Six of Wands card with a family watching the mom sew while a warm fire blazes in the fireplace. But when I think of the many refugees who are struggling in the camps or trying to find their footing in another country, it makes sense. The Peace card reminds me that just as our fingers are all connected to the palm, so we are all connected to each other. It is only humane to help each other as we face our challenges. Below is a poem written by Brian Bilstone. It is written to be read the usual way first, and then from the bottom up.

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top) 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Lighten the Load

From the Tarot of the Radiant Path, the Knight of Pentacles; from Mirrors of the Heart, Freedom:
          The Knight of Pentacles is back, but instead observing the fields from his horse, he's on foot doing some quality control. Based on what he is gathering and the gold bars on the table, I'd say he's been successful in his endeavor. Hard work, dependability and attention to detail to pay off, even when things don't go as expected. The only thing that can trip this Knight up is being so tightly tied to the way he wants things to go, he has no flexibility or adaptability when reality takes a detour. But look at that free-spirited bird on the Freedom card. There is no heaviness from grasping or unwillingness that weigh down its wings. Only the lightness of being okay with what is.
Nothing goes right on the outside when nothing is going right on the inside.
~ Matthieu Ricard

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sheath Your Swords

This week I'll be using the Swietlistej Drogi Tarot (Tarot of the Radiant Path),created by Alla Alicja Chrzanowska and published by Studio Astropsychologii. I'll also be drawing from the oracle Mirrors of the Heart, created and self-published by Lily S. May. Today's draws are the Five of Swords and Quiet:
          The Five of Swords is not the card I'd prefer to draw on Christmas day, especially when I'll be spending it with relatives whose views are widely divergent from my own. My first thought was to make sure I don't get into any opinionated debates today. But then I realized this guy was sitting alone, with no one else around. Perhaps the battle is not external but internal. All week I've caught myself thinking over and over how differently my beliefs and values are from my extended family. This is where the battle is already taking place - not in real life but my mind. The more I focus on our differences, the greater the sense of separation and bitterness grows. The kicker is that they haven't actually done anything - I'm the one who is making all this into a big deal. The Quiet card suggests that I get still and pay attention to my thoughts and emotions. If I stop writing a story around them and just focus on the physical sensations and observe the thoughts without attachment, they'll disappear as quickly as the steam that rises from the beaker next to that fellow. Then I can stop adding fuel to my internal fire and enjoy the holiday. A period of meditation is in order before anyone else wakes up; it would be a wise way to safely put those swords back in the closet.
The truth is, I don’t know what this year’s Christmas will be like... But we won’t be steering for anything in particular. It’s a mystery, after all. That’s what we hope to be attentive enough to witness. ~ Bonnie Nadzam

Saturday, December 24, 2016

What is Needed

From the Oriental Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the Art of Asia, "Monkeys Grooming" by Fang Chuxiong:
          Does anyone sleep soundly on Christmas Eve? As a child it was excitement that kept me awake, and now as an adult it is going over my endless to-do lists. Were the casseroles ready, all the gifts wrapped and the car gassed up for the trip? Was everyone healthy and well (including pets)? Had I forgotten anything? Looking at this Nine of Swords, I notice all the swords have been tied up with blue ribbons - all except one. That center sword reminds me of waiting for the other shoe to drop, for that one thing that wasn't taken care of to present itself. But the Monkeys card and quote point my focus in a different direction: "Touch me, remind me who I am. (Stanley Kunitz)" Whether it is a soft touch on the shoulder, holding a hand or a big bear hug, human touch is a physical way to show compassion and kindness. These qualities are what is most important, the thought I need to hold close and act on. As Mary Rose O’Reilly phrased it, "In this season of high expectations, may I lovingly offer what is truly needed."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Heart Imprint

From the Oriental Tarot, the Six of Coins; from the Art of Asia, "Deer on Mount Wakaba" by Konoshima Okoku:
           As I look at the way the flower and the vines separate the coins, I notice divisions into single coins and those of two. It can be easy to think that resources should be evenly divided among everyone, but that would be naive. Discernment is needed. Some folks need more, others need less and some just don't need to be enabled in their irresponsibility. Yet no matter what is given, I think what is important can be summed up by a Nigerian proverb: “It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go.” The Deer card is paired with a quote by Mary Oliver: "This is the wish that the deer would not lift their heads and leap away, leaving me there alone." There are moments so special and beautiful, that we almost hold our breath, trying to keep them with us forever. But we don't need to worry about photographing them; all such moments leave an imprint on the heart, even moments of sincere generosity.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Absolute?

From the Oriental Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Art of Asia, "Goats on Snowy Hill" by Fang Chuxiong:
          A comparison of Christianity and the religions of Eastern Asia yields some interesting ideas. Christianity is convinced there is one true God, one true Church, one true sacred text and one true way to salvation. Taoism simply focuses on following the harmony of Nature, while Mahayana Buddhism teaches how to overcome mental suffering and live compassionately. And Confucianism gives guidelines for creating a harmonious civilization. Yet no matter what our religious or philosophical bent, we all like to feel as if we have a purpose, companions on this journey and something that gets us through tough times. Ultimately, we must use our own compass to find the Way that has personal meaning and inspiration for us. Perhaps as children we can believe what someone tells us we are supposed to believe, but as mature adults, we seek our own truth. The Goats card is paired with a Creole proverb: "The goat that climbs up the rock also has to go down." My take on this quote is that I can stand on a metaphorical mountain top thinking I know what the meaning and purpose of life is all about, but at some point reality is going to bring me back down again. The message for me is to be willing to adapt or change my beliefs and opinions when I realize the absolute truth is not what I thought. Indeed, the idea of 'absolute' may be pure inflated thought.
That's the miracle of Jesus if there is one.
He thought his own thoughts when no one else did.
Dangerous. But he never stopped.
That's what I celebrate today.
His original thinking.
O holy night.
"Christmas Day Thoughts from a Brooding Post-Christian"
~ Jan Phillips

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pay Attention!

From the Oriental Tarot, the Page of Wands; from the Art of Asia, "Washing Clothes" by Kitagawa Utamaro:
          Looking at this man's rice hat, I thought the dangling bits were corks (like the hat of Granny Jones) meant to shoo bugs away. But his look like bells, making me think of the phrase, "I'll be there with bells on" (an expression of great enthusiasm). With his quiver of arrows and baton in hand, he does look ready for any event that unfolds. The Page/Valet is still at the learning stage where everything he encounters is new and exciting. And while his eagerness is good, he tends to have an attention problem (which generally gets worse when he becomes a knight), quickly hopping from one new thing to the next without looking deeply at anything. The Washing Clothes card is paired with a quote from Jack Kornfield: "After ecstasy comes the laundry." The Zen koan refers to experiencing enlightenment, but also realizing the day-to-day tasks still need to be done. Waking up is not meant to bypass real life; we don't get rid of the mountains, but we become better climbers. The holidays are generally a time when self-care gets pushed to the side, but the cards today remind me not to get distracted to the point where I forget to take care of the basics.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Giddy-up and Whoa

From the Oriental Tarot, the Knight of Coins; from the Art of Asia, "Waterfall" by Gyokudo Kawai:
          I'm with the horse (looking back toward his warm barn) this morning; it's a chilly, wet day that makes me want to stay in bed. But the Knight of Coins won't put up with any groans or dragging feet. He's determined not to waste a minute of the day. Bursten's keywords for this card are 'obtaining' and 'focusing,' and this dependable fellow is very good at both. The Knight of Coins is one of just a few court cards in this deck that has a quiver of arrows by his side, ready to defend. In order to fully reap what has been sown, he must protect it from those who would take advantage of his hard work. I can relate to such a protective mindset. We have a lot of break-ins in our area during the holidays, and for that reason I never put presents under our tree until Christmas day. The Waterfall card has been paired with a quote by Mikhail Lermontov: "Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea." What a great reminder that all the busyness (insanity?) of the holidays will soon come to an end, and a more relaxed pace will be the norm once again.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Compassion vs. Idiot Compassion

From the Oriental Tarot, the Queen of Cups; from the Art of Asia, "Landscape with a Solitary Traveler" (Yosa Buson):
          It intrigues me when I see a chalice with a lid that covers it. There is a sense that something precious and unique lies inside and needs protection. Bursten describes the Cups suit as 'interacting' and the Queens as 'encouraging.' Something tells me this queen is not the emotional sponge often seen in other decks; she's got the intuitive chops to know who to uncover her cup for and when it should stay firmly closed. This particular queen knows all about emotional manipulation, and she can pick up its scent quickly. But if someone were to genuinely open their heart to her, she would gladly do the same. The 'Solitary Traveler' card has been paired with a quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh: "It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core." Most women are trained from a young age to shape their hearts around whomever they care for; what they like is often only a reflection of someone else's preferences rather than their own. But as they mature, there comes a desire to seek what is important to them (and often a surprise to find it is not what it was originally). Can we be true to ourselves while still having a tender heart?
Compassion is wishing that beings be free from suffering. Idiot compassion is avoiding conflict, letting people walk all over you, not giving people a hard time when actually they need to be given a hard time. It’s “being nice,” or “being good.” It’s not compassion at all. It ends up causing us pain, and it ends up causing others pain. The more someone self-consciously thinks of themselves as compassionate, the more likely it is that they’re a compassionate idiot. Idiot compassion lacks both courage and intelligence. Bodhipaksa

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Moving Sideways

This week I'll be using the Oriental Tarot, created by Claudio Foudraz (1846), reprinted by Giordano Berti and published by Rinascimento. As a companion booklet, I'll employ Lee Bursten's Universal Tarot of Marseille. Paired with it is the Art of Asia, an oracle I created myself for personal use. Today's draws are the Lovers and "A Crab on the Seashore" by Utagawa Kunisada:
          My first thought when I saw this card was a woman's struggle between choosing the man she loved versus choosing the man her parents chose for her (an arranged marriage). Does she make her choice out of family obligation or follow her heart? If her parents truly care about her (and this isn't a financial transaction), then they might be looking down the road toward her future happiness. I've read that many arranged marriages work out successfully, and that the couple learn to care for each other over time. But it would definitely complicate the matter if her heart is already tied to another. What will the cost be for both choices? The Crab artwork has been paired with a quote from Aristophanes: "You cannot teach a crab to walk straight." In other words, you can't change the true nature of a someone. Is she an independent minded woman who's not afraid to blaze her own trail, or a traditionalist who prefers to stay on a well-traveled path? The crab is also an astrological symbol of Cancer, a sign that wears its heart on its sleeve and takes great pleasure in home and family. Hopefully she'll think long and hard before she makes a decision, so she won't wind up as someone's crabby wife.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Expansion or Burden?

From the Tarrochi Celtic, the Two of Fire (Wands); from the Elements of Recovery, Trustworthiness:
          The flags bearing the symbols of the stag and horns emphasize both the aggressive and protective sides of this card. Clearly something is growing and thriving (the birch tree), but look at the problems this fiery fairy is already dealing with (the grasshopper and beetles). Would planting that birch seed in her hand make things better or worse? Is she happy with the status quo or ready to expand? The purification of the ogham Beth (associated with the Twos) implies she needs to get clear about what she wants and the effort she's willing to expend before proceeding. The Elements card of Trustworthiness shows the dependability of the sunrise and asks how reliable I am, especially when things don't go as smoothly as expected. Will I cut my losses and run when things go south? Or will I 'temporarily' put them on hold until I feel like dealing with them? Woodrow Wilson once said, "Without dependability, one's ability may be a liability instead of an asset." My enthusiasm for starting something new shouldn't override the rational consideration of whether I have the energy and resources to follow through with my goal. I need to look at my motivations and see if I'm trying to distract myself with another project so I don't have to deal with current problems. My answer will determine whether I make the leap or stand firm.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Passionate Ones

From the Tarrochi Celtici, the Queen of Fire (Wands); from the Elements of Recovery, Forgiveness:
          The Queen of Fire is associated with the ogham Ngetal (healing) and Reed (harmony). Behind the reeds is a Celtic statue called The Great Dancer, and in front is a stone eagle that originally sat atop a lintel (both artifacts were found in France). The eagle, a hunter of day, contrasts with the owl, a hunter of night. Just as these birds look for food to fuel their bodies, so this fiery fairy looks for resources to keep her projects moving forward. The dancer complements this Queen, who is an energetic mover and shaker. She is described as having "lasting passion," and she seems to be plugging in to her element to stay fully charged in this card. Passionate people do have an Achilles heel, and that is their temper and lack of patience. They can impulsively lash out at people, leaving those who have been flailed with a burning resentment. Forgiveness is a tough principle to engage, especially if one has been the object of someone else's rage. To practice it, we must accept what has happened and find a way to live peacefully with it.Yet we don't have to condone or continue to endure an injustice - we can still speak out, set boundaries and make changes. Forgiveness heals the forgiver. Without it, "our lives are chained, forced to carry the sufferings of the past and repeat them with no release (Jack Kornfield)." Imagine having the same hurtful event repeat itself each day, over and over without end. That's what internal rage does to us (as we replay it mentally), and we're the ones who suffer. It is healthier for us to work through and let go of our anger; in the process, we may just teach the passionate ones what kindness and forgiveness actually look like.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Plateful of Contentment

From the Tarocchi Celtici, the Ten of Earth (Coins); from the Elements of Recovery, Humility:
          The 'Ten' cards of the minor arcana are associated with the ogham Coll (wisdom) and the Hazel tree (discovery). The salmon above and the dowsing stick below parallel these meanings. Behind the fish are what appear to be torcs - neck rings of metal - that identify the high rank of the wearer. This little hob has had the good luck to discover some sound investments and the wisdom to keep them stable and growing. The Humility card shows the flower of a weed, a common flower and a high maintenance flower. Humans have ranked these from desirable to undesirable based mostly on cost, but aren't they all beautiful in their own unique way? Humility sits in the middle of two extremes, with arrogance at one end and unworthiness at the other. Neither end will serve us well in our relationship with others. Bill Wilson defined this trait as “the clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to be what we can be.” Seeing myself clearly without comparing and judging myself against others can open up a host of gifts:
  • We become able to consider other viewpoints, which can lead to a greater understanding and a discovery of truth.
  • We become more tolerant and accepting of others who see the world through a different lens.
  • We have a greater sense of inner peace and feel grateful for what we have.
Just look at that little fellow in the Ten of Earth - would you think he was a wealthy man? Someone might describe him as humble-looking, which might explain how he got to that place of contentment in his life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New Beginnings and Old Mountains

From the Tarocchi Celtici, the Two of Earth (Coins); from the Elements of Recovery, Equanimity:
          The Two of Earth card is paired with the ogham beth (purification) and the birch tree (beginning). Seeing Mr. and Mrs. Gnome peering into the cradle, we can guess what is beginning in their world. Purification can be seen in that they have set aside their tools and other concerns to focus on their new investment (one of the keywords). Anyone who has ever had a baby (whether human or pet) knows your world shrinks down to take care for all of his or her needs. Time, energy and money get funneled in one direction when one's focus gets very narrow. Which means we often overlook our own needs and end up hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Instead of being deliriously happy, we suddenly become prickly and snappy because things are out of balance. The Elements card - Equanimity - is a reminder to sit like a mountain with calm awareness; compassionate objectivity can allow us to see what is really needed. The far enemy of equanimity is reactivity (attachment or aversion to reality), while its near enemy is indifference. The Tibetans describe it as being like a very elderly person watching young children play. If one of them breaks a favorite toy, the elder won't sit down and cry with them (reactivity). But neither will she say, "You think that's bad? Wait until you have aches and pains like I do! (indifference)" Her calm and objective compassion will allow her to comfort the child while realizing this too shall pass.
Rather than allowing our minds to spin stories about our life-long anger or inability to cope with the difficulties of life, we can create space for ourselves to feel without drowning in a given feeling. The creation of that space is the essence of equanimity. ~ Sharon Salzberg

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Hindrances of Having

From the Tarocchi Celtici, the Nine of Earth (Coins); from the Elements of Recovery, Hindrances:
          All the minor cards in this deck are associated with an ogham letter and plant; the Nine of Earth is represented by tinne ("bar of metal" or "ingot") and holly. Tinne implies mastery while holly suggests energy and intensity. As this card represents a certain independence and self-sufficiency, I can see how these symbols are applicable. But look at the little gnome trying to sneak into the other's abode. He reminds me of the people who embezzle from corporations and rationalize their actions because the company seems to have so much money. Yet the young gnome with the raven helmet has worked hard to get what he has, and so he is sitting atop his home keeping watch. He may not appear to be aware that he's being taken advantage of, but he's got a magical, weasel-seeking spear that is going to pin the thief to the ground if he takes anything. The Elements card shows a large-mouth bass with a lure stuck in its lip, which is similar to how we get hooked by our strong emotions. These emotions hinder us from seeing clearly and acting rationally. Pema Chodron describes them as a "tight feeling" that "has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us." What will the young gnome do when he catches the thief? He may feel ashamed that he has more than someone else and give the fellow money, thereby enabling him to continue his crooked ways. He may become so fearful and paranoid, that he ceases to trust anyone and isolates himself. He may become so angry that he goes overboard with his retaliation and punishment. Hopefully he will let his head clear (and get the emotional hook out) before he takes any action.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Way Through the Waters

From the Tarocchi Celtici, Borva/Manannan (Moon); from the Elements of Recovery, Service:
The moon has her porches turned to face the light,
But the deep part of her house is in the darkness.
—Robert Bly
          Borvo was a Celtic deity associated with minerals and bubbling spring water (and thus healing); Manannan was a sea deity found in Irish mythology. Two words this deck associates with the Moon are the unconscious and the feminine. Like that piece of pottery that sticks half in and half out of the water, all of us have memories (collective and individual) - some fully conscious and some buried in the waters of the unconscious. While a few memories may be forgotten in an old dusty file cabinet, some are deeply hidden and locked away. Yet the ego can't successfully repress or cloak everything all the time, and occasionally there are situational triggers that produce unexpected thoughts and emotions (and can leave us thinking, "Where did that come from?!). The unconscious 'speaks' in symbols and emotions, which can be hard to interpret. I've done dream work before, and the book I was using said every person, thing and event in my dream was a facet of myself. It isn't easy to find a key to unlock all those symbolic doors when dealing with the unconscious. Part of the problem is that I want to smash the door and force it open, which generally never works (the ego has a handy nail gun). This is where the receptiveness of the feminine comes in, as well as Service. Service is benevolent aid freely given without expectations; it is an act of selflessness and pulls us out of our own self-orbit. You can bet the ego is not interested in anything that does not fluff its feathers, so its likely to go take a nap. Helping another person, particularly listening deeply with compassion, can open a few doors. Through another person's experiences, we can view and reflect on our own. We sense the familiarity of what they say in our own life history, gaining insights from their stories (which is probably why fairy tales and myths are still so popular today).
Note about the Service card: The marigolds are companion plants in the vegetable garden; though they receive no benefits, they keep certain pests away from the vegetable plants.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Check the Lens

This week I'll be using the Tarocchi Celtici, created by Laura Taun and published by De Vecchi Italia. Paired with it will be the Elements of Recovery, created and self-published by myself. Today's draws are Morrigan (High Priestess) and Inventory:
          In Celtic mythology Morrigan foretold the fate of those in battle, often appearing as a crow. This deck gives the High Priestess some unusual keywords: fecundity, patience, loyalty and peace. Anyone who's tried meditation will understand patience and peace; it takes time to let the body and mind settle, but calmness is often the first result. Fecundity may seem a strange association (meaning the capacity to reproduce), yet the mind is an endless spring of thoughts that continue to bubble up even in meditation. Loyalty is perhaps how much those thoughts have their hooks in us (just look for the emotional energy they produce). The purpose of a personal inventory is to recognize how our thoughts, emotions and behaviors are tied to habitual patterns. The three areas most closely investigated are our resentments, fears and our relationships. After writing about these as honestly as possible, we reflect on what was learned and filter the information through these questions:
  • Do I recognize how my emotions can sustain and exacerbate my problems?
  • Can I identify any irrational beliefs?
  • Am I aware of how my self-centered behavior affects my relationships?
Before fixing what you're looking at, check what you're looking through. ~ Mark Nepo

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Expand and Contract

From the Spiral Tarot, the Three of Cups; from the Sacred Journey Cards, Ground:
          With pumpkins on the ground, it appears these ladies are celebrating the last harvest of the year before winter. One of the women holds a spiral in her hand that represents the expansiveness of the mood. It is a lighthearted time of joy and friendship. But eventually the activity will die down; the expansiveness of the spiral will turn inward as it contracts (think of the Four of Cups). Should these ladies forego their fun because it won't last forever? I'll stick with the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: "Because we can see the impermanent nature of the flowers, we can appreciate all the more the beauty of each flower. To observe the impermanence of things is not to reject them, but to be in contact with them with deep understanding, without being caught in desire and attachment." To honor what won't last, we give the moment our full attention and keep our heart open. But what about after the celebration? The SJ card - Ground - suggests there is comfort to be found in the stillness and solitude too. This time deserves a curious rather than judgmental mind; such attention can calm and soothe, preparing us for the next bit of excitement that comes our way.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Focusing Fire

From the Spiral Tarot, the Ace of Wands; from the Sacred Journey Cards, Focus:
          This wand seems to be responding to the nearness of the hand in the sky. If it were actually touched, it would probably bloom into something like a red hot poker. I imagine we would be amazed if we could be aware of all the potential opportunities we have to do something. But because of various reasons and excuses, we often never strike that match. As Thomas Edison once said, "What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration." But once we do start that fire, we need the Focus found in the SJ card. I think a lot of creative or ambitious people have a feast or famine relationship with their muse. Once those ideas start coming, it's easy to have way too many irons in the fire and forget to keep the blaze going. The other caution that comes from this card is the kind of thoughts I entertain. If I'm in a low mood, my inner critic can keep me from accomplishing anything. But if I'm full of fire, I may not be willing to listen to any wisdom and guidance. Sometimes I need to observe from a detached point of view to see what is real and what isn't.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Expanding Spiral

From the Spiral Tarot, the Ten of Cups; from the Sacred Journey Cards, Flow:
          A water nymph guides ten cups from a large piece of pottery adorned with a double spiral. While the single spiral often symbolizes expansion, the double spiral generally means balance (and is sometimes used to represent the equinoxes or life and death). I can see how the double spiral might reflect the abundance of love (expansion) that is shared with others (balance). The booklet reads: "when you feel happy and full of love, others around you will benefit." Well those presently around me are probably feeling dry and thirsty; I have been in one of my dark holiday moods. Yet my yearly cycle through these feelings have made me aware that my unfulfilled expectations are the cause. I get hooked into thinking goodwill and generosity will abound this time of year, when it fact it nearly always does the opposite. The Flow card suggests I need to release my need to control the outcome of things and float along with how things are. That spiral begins with a single point that moves outward, and that point is me. Expanding my own compassion and kindness is all I need to focus on, not what I get back in return.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Avoid Shortcuts

From the Spiral Tarot, the Eight of Wands; from the Sacred Journey Cards, Integrity:
          The mighty wind is a blowin' and the staves are rising in the air. They seem to be following the flow of the river. There is a rush to do something that appears to be moving at top speed. However, their course implies going with the current rather than against it could make the ride less bumpy. It can be easy to lose one's inner compass when life gets rushed and things feel chaotic. The SJ card reminds me to hang on to my integrity, to act in a way that is honest and true to my values.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. ~ Beverly Sills