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

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Space of Failure

From the Victorian Romantic Tarot, the Page of Pentacles; from the Dreaming in Color Deck, 'Fear:'
          Don't let the slouching teen on the fur fool you; he is constructing something in his head. First, he sees in his mind what he wants to create, then he'll diagram it on paper (looking for any flaws) while listing the resources he will need. With paper in hand, he'll gather his tools and supplies and begin working to materialize his idea. This studious young man can seem like an old man in a young body; he is often too serious and worries about all the 'what ifs.' I'd tell him to go read Pema Chodron's advice to her granddaughter's graduating class:

If you want to be a complete human being, if you want to be genuine and hold the fullness of life in your heart, then failure is an opportunity to get curious about what is going on and listen to the storylines. Don’t buy the ones that blame it on everybody else, and don’t buy the storylines that blame it on yourself, either.

Out of that space of failure can come addictions of all kinds—addictions because we do not want to feel it, because we want to escape, because we want to numb ourselves. Out of that space can come aggression, striking out, violence. Out of that space can come a lot of ugly things.

 I can tell you that it is out of this same space that come our best human qualities of bravery, kindness, and the ability to really reach out to and care about each other. It’s where real communication with other people starts to happen, because it’s a very unguarded, wide-open space in which you can go beyond the blame and just feel the bleedingness of it, the raw-meat quality of it.

It’s from that space that our best part of ourselves comes out. It’s in that space—when we aren’t masking ourselves or trying to make circumstances go away—that our best qualities begin to shine.

Monday, January 21, 2019


From the Victorian Romantic Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles; from the Dreaming in Color Deck, 'Hope:'
          I was reading an interview with a woman who had been a successful therapist; she retired, moved with her partner to a state with a temperate climate into a lovely home with a garden. She described her retirement as "a beautiful prison." Though money wasn't a problem and she was in good health, an absence of purpose left her feeling bored and depressed. I think changes that take us out of our structured lives - no matter if we're empty-nesters or retirees - can leave people feeling unmoored. As one fellow said, "There's only so much gardening and golf one can do." The Hope card reminds me of a quote by George Washington Carver: "Where there is no vision, there is no hope." Carver, one of the most innovative scientists and inventors in African-American history, believed we need something to look forward to and work toward. It doesn't matter whether it originates from a small project or a large one, as long as it gives us a reason to get up in the morning.
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.
~Louis L'Amour

Sunday, January 20, 2019

You Go High

This week I'll be using the Victorian Romantic Tarot, created by Alex Ukolov and Karen Mahony with Magic Realist Press as publisher. I will also be drawing from Dreaming in Color: the Luman Deck, created and self-published by Mindy Hope Sommers. Today's draws are the Five of Swords and 'Breakthrough:'
Not all forms of abuse leave bruises.
~Danielle Steel 

          I wish bullying was something kids would grow out of, but as the current political stage shows, bullies don't have an age limit. I was angered to see the video of Catholic high school boys (who were in Washington, DC for an anti-abortion march) get in the face of a Native elder who was there with others to be a voice for the rights of indigenous peoples. Is this something their parents and school would be proud of? I would love to see these boys shipped off to live on a reservation for a month. Maybe a little understanding would grow in their tiny, undeveloped brains. My initial reaction to bullies is to push back, hard. But the Breakthrough card reminds me that this kind of action only feeds animosity and cruelty. Instead, I might take Michelle Obama's advice that she gave her girls (which the elder modeled beautifully): "We explain when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you do not stoop to their level. Our motto is when they go low, you go high." A wide perspective can make something that at first seems personal be reflected right back to the bully.

People who repeatedly attack your confidence and self-esteem are quite aware of your potential, even if you are not. ~Wayne Gerard Trotman

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Wisdom in Unusual Places

From the Morgan Greer Tarot, the Hanged Man; from the Goddesses and Sirens Oracle, 'The Muses:'
         Two things I notice about this particular Hanged Man - it's cloudy and there is no glowing nimbus around his head. These things imply that he isn't seeing clearly and hasn't conceded his struggle against reality; he's still trying to rewind the tape and change what is. He would be better off following the wisdom of Reginald Ray: "We are called to see each arising of our day not as a threat, but as an opportunity—a chance to open our arms, lay down our weapons, and surrender to this exact moment of our life." There is no battle as wasted and useless as that against reality. Personifications of poetry, story, and song, the Muses are considered an inspiration for the arts. Yet because they originated during a time when oral history was prevalent, they are also a source of knowledge. Have you ever heard a verse from a song or poem that seemed to switch the light on in your head? As the poet David Whyte wrote, "Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity."

Friday, January 18, 2019

Reliable Barometer?

From the Morgan Greer Tarot, the Page of Cups; from the Goddesses and Sirens, 'Morgan le Fae:'
          The Page of Cups has an unarmored heart, therefore his life is like a wellspring of fresh emotions. That might be fine (as those emotions can come and pass away quickly), but he is so sensitive that he at times feels like that fish out of water gulping in air. He could use someone more experienced to show him the ropes - not how to shut off his feelings but to recognize they don't always reflect the truth. As Allen Berger states: "I believe it’s important to respect our feelings. No question about it. But we create problems when we give our feelings too much privilege in our lives." Morgan le Fae is a powerful enchantress associated with the Arthurian tales. Though early versions showed her as a healer and protector, later versions cast her as a dark, malevolent power. This change in the telling of the legend was likely due to a Christian push against the pagans. How do you create hate? Through fear. But as the Page will eventually learn, feelings are rarely a reliable barometer for what is real.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A New Way

From the Morgan Greer Tarot, the Eight of Swords; from the Gods and Titans Oracle, 'Ra:'

          Anyone who's ever endured the requisite 12 years of school knows you don't graduate because of creative thinking. You learn to memorize and spit things out; creativity only counts in art or debate. It's no wonder that as adults we get stuck and have a hard time getting out of the box of ideas that we've put ourselves in. The advice, "Do something different" seems almost too simple to be helpful. That would mean letting go of what we're certain of and at least entertaining the opposite view. The Sun god Ra was a central god of the Egyptian pantheon. He sailed across the heavens each day, disappeared at night, and was reborn the next morning. Yet even the Sun can't force an apple seed to become a pear tree, nor can it make a seed grow faster than normal. Sometimes the power of persistence can keep us in our box. But it the Sun warms the seed and allows it to take its natural course, it will likely grow. Force never seems to be a permanent solution to anything, especially when it comes to our thinking.
For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up – to know that there’s life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way.
  Natalie Goldberg

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Before Closing...

From the Morgan Greer Tarot, the King of Wands; from the Goddesses and Sirens, 'Freya:'
          This King has his Knight and Queen to get projects up and running, but he is the Closer - the one who can bring things to a satisfactory conclusion. There will be challenges that cause his people to feel overwhelmed or tedious tasks which create boredom; he knows how to keep enthusiasm high so that the goal isn't abandoned. Freya, the Norse goddess of power and beauty, has been assigned the keyword 'irresistibility.' She's got something to teach this King - the power of one's sincere attention, one of the most compelling and alluring traits of all. One of my neighbors, a family with three kids and a fourth on the way, decided to sell their house and move to a larger one. The first prospective buyer was ready to close the deal, but he kept telling them about all the walls he was going to tear out. This wasn't just a house to them, but a home, but he didn't understand that. He was too eager to start ripping out and rebuilding. Needless to say, they didn't sell to him but to someone else who they felt could feel the love that had been in that house for many years. They grieved leaving this haven and needed someone to understand. Connection involves communion; it's more than a business transaction.