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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lights in the Darkness

From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Ten of Pentacles; from the Organic Oracle, Starry Darkness:
          Even if I intentionally tried, I don't think I could have picked two cards that suit each other so well. The rabbit is prey rather than predator, and so it must multiply rapidly in order to survive. That might sound like a terrible thing, but it appears this family is taking a moment to appreciate their deep, safe burrow and the moonlit field of clover they have to eat. Forget the saying "Who dies with the most toys wins;" I think it should be, "Contentment comes to those who appreciate what they have while they have it." The prompt for this card asks, "What will you do now that you have what you need?" The Starry Darkness card is an answer to that question. Sea salt was added to black ink, then gold paint added, creating a scene that looks like a star-filled night. I have been amazed by the generosity of people after the destruction left behind by the tornado here. People have sent money and gift cards to my friend who lost her home and belongings (many who don't even personally know her). They are the lights in the darkness for her. I too have a choice: hold tightly to what I have in fear, or be willing to create a legacy of kindness and become a light too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Tower; from the Organic Oracle, Ephemeral Form:
          Mound-building termites live in Australia, Africa and South America and can create some imposing structures. The mound is full of complex system of tunnels and conduits that serve as air shafts; the nest itself is underground. Robertson suggests these towering mounds resemble the ego and its need to be validated (mound) and protected (nest). She asks, "Have you merely constructed a monument to your ego?" But the kicker is that everything in the physical world is vulnerable to change. Which leads to the Ephemeral Form card that Carole created with oil pastels. The green pastel melted on top makes it resemble the northern lights (aurora). These lights appear under certain conditions (when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the earth's atmosphere) and are constantly changing and never permanent. In the same way, anything I use to shore up my ego will be transitory rather than lasting.
Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us. 
~ Jane Austen

Monday, March 20, 2017

Burying the Carcass

From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the Organic Oracle, Fresh Beginning:
          The Five of Cups is illustrated with the capybara from South America. It can live up to ten years but generally lives four; hunted by humans, it is also the favorite prey of the jaguar, puma, ocelot, caiman, eagle and anaconda. Though capable of running as fast as a horse, they are also at home in the water, able of staying submerged for five minutes. The capybara in the water is swimming away from a home that is no longer safe. Grief will have to be postponed until it is out of danger. The companion book asks, "What ghosts of the past are you letting influence your presence?" Trauma, pain or heartache from the past can resurface when a trigger of that memory occurs. It can generate so much emotional energy, that it seems impossible not to generalize to the present. Yet the Fresh Beginning card appears from the Organic Oracle. Carole used an actual shed snakeskin to make a template for this card, thus its meaning of a new start that doesn't drag the past with it. I've been adept at putting my pain in sealed compartments at times, so I don't have to deal with it. But it often seeps into my conscious mind when similar situations or people remind me of it. Better to do the work necessary to process and heal the suffering than carry around a carcass with me forever.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


This week I'll be using the Animal Totem Tarot, created by Eugene Smith with a companion book by Leeza Robertson; the set was published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the Organic Oracle, a set of cards created by my friend Carole Beasley as a result of "mindless art" (creating without a preset concept). Today's draws are the Sun and Joyful Peace:
          The ring-tailed lemur is the only lemur active during the day; it begins the morning by warming itself in the sun. I felt this way yesterday when the sun came out and the temperature climbed after several cold, dreary days. The sun offers energy, heat and light that everything on the planet depends upon. One of the questions asked by the book is "Do you keep a list of all the positive things that happen in your daily life?" This query leads seamlessly into the Joyful Peace oracle card. It makes me feel as sunny and content as I imagine this sunbathing lemur does. The white paint spatters remind me of rain drops that threaten that contentment. Why is it that we can remember in great detail a wrong that happened a year ago but have trouble coming up with something that made us smile yesterday? I'm a firm believe in a daily practice of remembering at least one wonderful moment from that fills me with gratitude. It is the umbrella that helps keep my sun shining no matter what the weather.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Yield and Heal

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Star; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the Cross:

          The trickle from the mouth of the fountain represents the cleansing and refreshing properties of water (much needed after the Tower experience). The hexagram symbol around the mouth of the fountain is an alchemical one. The union of the fire symbol (triangle pointing up) with the water symbol (triangle pointing down) is a combination of opposites representing transmutation. The combination implies accepting the good and bad in life which allows us to become the vessel in which transmutation occurs. The Greek piece of pottery is a wine jug (entitled by the Metropolitan Museum of Art "Dionysus and Eros in Procession"). Wine is used both to celebrate and relax, a fitting drink for this card. It is time to appreciate making it through our challenge, but also a time to relax and gain our strength before the next one comes along. The Cross card shows a recruiting poster for nurses during World War I. War in any capacity requires sacrifice, but for nurses it meant energy expended in healing the injured. As with the Star card, the idea of taking time to rest and renew is repeated.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fools and Their Friends

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Fool; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the Ring:
          Instead of climbing into the mirror like Alice (Through the Looking Glass), this Fool is about to step into physical reality. The butterflies allude to the transformations that will occur as a result of his experiences, while the artist mannequin (featureless and movable) implies he has the potential to shape his life and become whatever he would like. The greyhound looks impatiently at his companion; he is ready to leap from the mantel and get this journey started. As I start my day, I too have the power to view the day ahead with enthusiasm and wonder or sigh about my aches and what needs to be done. Into what shape will I mold it? The Ring symbolizes commitment, and it immediately made me think of an old friend I'll be meeting for coffee this morning. We haven't seen each other for over a year, even though she is local. She travels extensively for her job and to visit her family; my obligations to family and the five women I sponsor in the program keep me busy too. Yet she takes her friendships seriously and has frequently emailed me about possible dates for a meet-up. Rather than giving up when our schedules don't coincide, she stays in contact. What fool wouldn't be excited about starting the morning off with such a loyal friend?   

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Taking It In Stride

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the Lily:
          This Wheel of Fortune garden has two types of plants: annuals that die each year (some of the flowers and herbs) and perennials that will come back for several years before dying (such as the roses). In the perennial group there is also evergreens (like the ivy) and deciduous plants that lose their leaves each winter. The garden is a perfect analogy for the changes that occur over time. Some changes seem quick (annuals), some a little slower (perennials), and some we hardly notice (evergreen perennials). Water drips downward from a fountain head to keep the wheel moving. It follows the flow of gravity and reminds me that all change is natural like the seasons. The Lily can represent both peace and healing or an elder. The flower's bloom faces the Wheel and could imply the way an older, more experienced person might view the ups and downs of life. No matter how big the change, he or she could take it in stride, calmly aware that nothing lasts forever.
There is no hill that never ends. ~ Masai Proverb 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Honeyed Words

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Nine of Coins; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the Snake:
          Whenever I see trunks and chests like these, I think of two things: treasure and travel. The Nine of Coins shows a the basement of a person who has finally learned to manage their resources wisely. Hard work, discipline and perseverance has paid off handsomely. Not only is there a nice little "nest egg" to show for all that effort, there is leisure time for trips, artistic exploration, intellectual pursuits or just enjoying life in general. The Lenormand card shows a circus snake charmer, a woman who handles animals that elicit fear in most people. The Snake represents dysfunction or deception of some sort, which demands a sharp alertness (much like that of a snake charmer). What's more enticing to a scam artist or other untrustworthy 'snake' than someone who lives independently and has a bit of money saved? Honeyed words often hide something poisonous underneath, so an investigation may be needed to uncover the truth.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Three of Staves; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the Moon:
           On top of a chest sits a model of the ship Santa Maria, the flagship of Columbus on his first voyage attempt to discover the New World. People generally don’t build historic models of cars, planes or ships that weren’t of some importance, so this card indicates reaching an important step toward one’s goal. The chest has four drawers, the next number in the staves suit. To reach some lasting stability, more work is going to be required. The Moon card shows a partial lunar eclipse from 1874. The eclipse suggests there are things not seen, which sounds reasonable when beginning a new endeavor. Like the tides the moon affects, there will be an ebb and flow in any venture or project as well. No need to panic, it's just all a part of the process. Patience and persistence can help keep the boat afloat.
Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what 
they can do in ten years. ~ Bill Gates

Monday, March 13, 2017

Guiding Justice

From the Tyldwick Tarot, Justice; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the Stars:
          What strikes me about the set of scales in this card is the mirror behind them. Justice must constantly be reconsidered ('reflected on') as knowledge grows and belief systems change. It wasn't too long ago that women got the right to vote (1920); slavery was considered legal until 1865. Obviously, what is seen as fair and equitable changes over time. Up until now, the States have been gradually moving toward a more distributive justice (distributing benefits equally among society's members) rather than a retributive type of justice (focusing on punishment). Perhaps people have begun to realize that when there is justice in regard to rights and resources, there is less desire for wrongdoing. The Stars card is based on a tin compass rose, a symbol seen on charts and maps that indicates direction. It raises the question, "What or who are you using for guidance?" I fear the U.S. will discover our current leader is a man hiding behind a curtain, much like the wizard in Oz (but without any kindness and concern for others).

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Outlook Hazy

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 Moon and the Lady:
          The Moon card is muddy and unclear; I imagine if you asked the mirror in this card for answers, it would reply "Outlook hazy." This is one of those periods when it is simply better to sit back and ride things out rather than stir the pot. Discernment is way off, possibly because of wishful thinking, opinionated thinking or emotional thinking (and since this is the Moon, my bet would be on the latter). With such cloudy vision, the best action is simply no action other than observation for now. The Lady card represents an important female, and in this card it is Marie Curie. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize and the only woman to win two prizes in separate sciences (physics and chemistry). Among her many achievements, she led the world's first research into the treatment of tumors with radioactive isotopes and developed mobile x-ray units for field work in WWI. However she died from aplastic anemia due to her exposure to radiation in her work. Even the brightest and most intuitive people can't know or foresee everything, so there's no shame in stepping back and admitting that one's view is muddied.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Passing of the Keys

From the Fountain Tarot, the King of Coins; from the Devas of Creation, First Light:
          Gruhl assigns the phrase 'ordered stability' to this king and describes him as traditional, practical and hardworking. The plants that surround him imply his knowledge of the natural rhythms of life. At this stage, he's not looking for the latest fad to invest in but sticks to what's tried and true. He's got stability and security in spades, but not much originality or innovation. Yet even he knows that all that he owns will be passed along to another one day. First Light is the first ray that pierces the void. This deva is the beginning of a paradigm shift that will eventually open up new possibilities and prospects. Both these cards remind me of handing over the restaurant to our nephews when my husband retired (they officially paid us off for the business yesterday). We had the building's inside and outside decorated with 'hippie decor,' but now all that has been painted over. The menu has been altered and none of the original employees remain. It was hard to adjust to all the transformations at first, but now we see change is not such a bad thing. Time can be a great help in adjusting.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring Fever

From the Fountain Tarot, the Ace of Wands; from the Devas of Creation, Storm-maker:
          The Fountain's Ace of Wands looks like a prism; the booklet calls it 'passionate energy' and describes it as "a hot flash of focused intention." Coming right off yesterday's draw that indicated completion (the World), I laughed when I saw this one and thought, "That didn't take long." Human minds are programmed to create, discover and solve. They rarely rest unless we make an effort to allow them to settle in sleep or meditation. But much of what goes through them doesn't grab our attention long enough to excite us and inspire us to action. This Ace gets an added jolt of energy from the lightning of Storm-maker, a deva which delivers erratic but tremendous power. There is a note of caution not to hold on to this energy too long, but to mindfully channel it. It reminds me of the restlessness I begin to feel this time of year; here the azaleas have already bloomed and the dogwoods are right behind. Time for some mindful yard work (read: play) that brings joy without injury. I've already cleaned off the pollen and dust from my screened back porch, so drop by for a cup of coffee and some bird watching when you can.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Complete (But Not Really)

From the Fountain Tarot, the World; from the Devas of Creation, Source:
          The World card signifies that a cycle has been completed; the boundaries of this journey have been marked on the timeline. Any undertaking or developmental action we take - especially when it requires us to invest body, mind and spirit - changes us in ways that are sometimes surprising. It often shifts our views and gives us a deeper understanding of some things. But there is more to learn and do, so that gal better hop off her sphere once she's rested and gear up. Conway describes the Source card as living in full awareness or being awake (as in Buddhism). Once we see with opened eyes and understand with an open mind, we can't go back to sleep. Joy and awe are found not by rewinding to the past or fast-forwarding to the future, but only through what is happening right in front of us. The human life is an adventurous journey with no real destination. We may think we've arrived, but we'll eventually see something new on the horizon and start off again. The present moment can be enticing for those who are curious.
When we are not so self-involved, we begin to realize that the world is speaking to us all of the time. Every plant, every tree, every animal, every person, every car, every airplane is speaking to us, teaching us, awakening us. It’s a wonderful world, but we often miss it. ~ Pema Chodron

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spending It All

From the Fountain Tarot, the Ace of Coins; from the Devas of Creation, Witness:
          The Ace has been given the key phrase 'earthly abundance' - not only the potential for financial wealth, but health and energy too. The Witness card refers to times of great upheaval; instead of getting emotionally dragged under by it, this deva suggests that we observe and stay centered rather than react. The two cards made me think of caring for a loved one over a long period of time who is terminally ill or suffers from some physical or mental disorder. It is easy to pour every ounce of one's time and energy into trying to help them. When it is someone whose heart is attached to our own, it is hard not to. But our own health suffers (and often finances too), if we don't step back from the situation and allow someone else to briefly step in so we can take care of ourselves. I don't think this is selfish, though it may make us feel extremely guilty. But perhaps our own pain at seeing their suffering only increases their pain? I've often heard people say they didn't want their loved one to die alone. They sit with them around the clock, only to find she or he passed on when they stepped out of the room briefly. It's a tough call to find that path of balance.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Look Deeper

From the Fountain Tarot, the Lovers; from the Devas of Creation, Uranus:
          The two people in the card appear to be in a protective bubble, a place they can relax and just be. Gruhl describes the Lovers as "recognizing our Selves in a person or a place intuitively." While this kind of love may be romantic, it also includes much more than that: partners, friends and small groups that accept, understand and allow us to be ourselves without reservation. This choice goes far beyond external looks, labels or categories; from the outside, the pair or group may appear as not having nothing in common. The connection comes from within. Uranus is the only planet with a name from a Greek deity - the mate and son of Gaia, known as Father Sky. It is an unusual planet that lies on its side rather than spins on an axis. Summer on Uranus is two decades of non-stop sunlight, and winter is an equal amount of time spent in total darkness. It has an unruly magnetic field, and extreme temperatures. Deeper cloud layers get as low as 360F degrees below zero, colder than any other planet in the solar system, and yet the outer-most layer can reach more than 500F degrees. The deva of this planet represents original and revolutionary thinking. These cards suggest that even the oddest and most unconventional among us has another bookend. We just have to be careful not to let what's on the outside deter us.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Patient Presentations

From the Fountain Tarot, the Five of Swords; from the Devas of Creation, Saturn:
          A man balances precariously on two swords while holding three others. Anyone can see this isn't going to end well. The shadows in the background are the folks with whom he's battled intellectually and won, but it doesn't look like his victory will be a happy one. The booklet suggests making sure I am not short-sighted and can see the bigger picture when I disagree with others. Before I argue my case, I need to make sure I can live with the outcome, and that my choices reflect my personal integrity. But above all, I need to present my side respectfully and without intimidation. Saturn was named after the Roman god of agriculture; his Greek counterpart was known as Cronus ("time"). The astronomical symbol of the planet was meant to represent this god's sickle of harvest. Patience is the message this deva brings. It takes time to present and hear different viewpoints, yet to understand with a wider perspective it is necessary. Patience is not my strong suit, but it sure beats balancing on sword hilts.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Gentle Justice

This week I'll be using the Fountain Tarot, created and self-published by Jonathan Saiz, Jason Gruhl, and Andi Todaro. Along with it I'll also be drawing from Devas of Creation, created by Cilla Conway and published by CC3 Publishing. Today's cards are Justice and Plant Kingdom:
          This Justice seems stark and full of sharp edges. The creators assign her the keyword 'fairness' and write that she is "concerned only with what is needed right now for your life, in reality - not your mind." In other words, my ego may feel I'm entitled to certain things that don't really fall under 'basic rights and needs.' In this regard, Justice encourages me to examine motives and sort out truths without the extraneous clutter that keeps these hidden. In the pursuit of equality and impartiality, what fat can be trimmed from muscle and bone? Self-righteous indignation is not always a good indicator that I've been wronged; it could mean only that my ego's been pinched. The Plant Kingdom card reminded me of lichen, a complex organism composed of a fungus in symbiotic union with an alga. Conway states that plants give their gifts of food, medicine and shelter, but humans have a responsibility to accept them with gratitude and awareness. Along the same vein, this deva implies that "something needs to be said - a difficult truth needs to be addressed, gently but firmly." A gentle approach will be the best strategy for getting through the ego's locked door rather than a battering ram.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Cautious Progress

From the Touchstone Tarot, the Knight of Coins; from the John Waterhouse Oracle, Tristan and Isolde Sharing the Potion:
          This fellow is a well-traveled knight judging by the looks of that globe behind him. Possibly his sketchbook is full of people and places he has visited on his journeys. His arrival (and the hourglass) is a push to get moving and put my hand to the plow. Yet even he would toss out phrases like "Make haste slowly" and "Move at the speed of guidance." He obviously knew of Tristan, a knight who was to escort a promised bride (Isolde) to a king. Along the way, they both drank of a love potion meant for the soon to be wedded couple and fell for each other. Tristan, being loyal to his king, didn't follow his heart; this tale of romance did not have a happy ending. Some versions of the story say the two drinking the potion was accidental, but others say Isolde chose to give it to Tristan. The first card suggests making progress, but the second cautions to keep a close eye on details along the way. Not all choices can be undone once made.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Just for the Fun of It

From the Touchstone Tarot, the Nine of Coins; from the John Waterhouse OracleGather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May (1908):
          Black describes this card as "a time to savor," and James Ricklef says the same in Pithy Tarot: "Take time to enjoy what you have. Why else did you work to get it?" Indeed the hooded falcon that represents self-discipline (and why this woman has become independent and self-sufficient) also serves as a reminder to take some time off and do what one loves. Sounds crazy to think we have to train ourselves to relax, but consider the mindfulness movement, seminars on stress, and self-help books that abound to help us do just that. Waterhouse's painting is based on a poem by Robert Herrick ("To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time"):
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
   Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
   Tomorrow will be dying.
Again the emphasis seems to be on taking time to enjoy this life instead of just slogging through it. Looks like a beautiful day ahead to do just that.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

What's Left Behind

From the Touchstone Tarot, the Eight of Cups; from the John Waterhouse Oracle, Pandora:
          Under the light of a full moon, an owl flies over eight golden cups. A young man has resolutely turned to walk in the opposite direction, knowing those cups only contain the brine of his tears. I had such a need to be liked and loved when I was young, I never abandoned my cups no matter how bad things got in my relationships. As I got older, I not only turned my back (and heart) on those who angered and hurt me, I burned the bridges as I left. Today I will still leave relationships to protect my physical and emotional health, but I try not to withdraw my compassion too. If I can change, surely others have the capacity to do so too? Pandora, the first female created by the Greek gods, was given all sorts of gifts - including curiosity it seems. She let loose all the evils on the world, but closed the box/jar before Hope got out. Does that mean Hope was locked away from mankind or kept in safety? If it was expectant hope, the kind of with conditions and specifics attached, it may be good thing that it wasn't let loose.
Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain. ~ Pema Chodron

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wrap It Up

From the Touchstone Tarot, the King of Coins; from the John Waterhouse Oracle,  A Sick Child brought into the Temple of Aesculapius:
          I'm a bit miffed today after corresponding with my lawyer (for the accident I was involved in on the first of July last year). I have several large medical bills still in limbo, waiting to be paid. The problem is that two of the folks I owe (the hospital and the chiropractor) are places I depend on when I get sick or injured. When I had the allergic reaction to poison ivy several weeks ago, I had to go to a walk-in clinic to be treated instead of my usual doctors. The lawyer wants to get the most money he can out of the settlement, while I just want to pay the bills and get on with life. I told him that in an email yesterday. Like the King of Coins, I like my debts to be settled rather than hanging over my head. Even though most of the physical injuries have healed, the emotional healing can't happen until all the paperwork and settlement is complete. I'm beginning to think hiring a friend to do this wasn't the best idea!