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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Elephant in the Room

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Queen of Swords:
"For instance, you may not want to call a spade a spade. You may prefer to call it a spatulous device for abrading the surface of the soil. Better, however, to stick to the old familiar, simple name that your grandfather called it." ~ Joseph Devlin
We have a lot of crows in my neighborhood, and they are better watchdogs than most dogs are.  The other day I heard a group of them cawing and carrying on, and looked up to see a red-shouldered hawk flying overhead.  If I hear them making a racket, I know there is something nearby they consider a threat.  The Queen of Swords is alert and savvy; she refuses to sanitize what she sees as truth.  If there is an elephant in the room, she has no problem pointing it out and addressing it.  She may be blunt, but she is honest.

From the OH Cards come the image and word "dead end" and "expert:"
There are people who look at certain problems or questions and judge them to be be unsolvable.  Then there are those who see a complicated snarl of knots yet have the patience to sit and slowly but surely untangle them one at a time.  When I want to see the truth as the queen above sees it, sometimes the fast and easy explanation just won't cut it.  My ego doesn't want to dig deeply - better to blame it on a person or event in the past and leave it at that.  But like the cop that chases and finally corners a thief in a dead end alley, sometimes I have to peel away not-so-pleasant layers to find the truth underneath.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Power of Speech

From the Mary-El Tarot, the King of Swords:
"I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word." ~ Emily Dickinson
Like the Emperor of China, this king uses the emblem of a dragon to symbolize his power and strength.  Yet he realizes his authority comes not from brute force but his ability to influence others with his intellect and eloquence.  With his bow, he shoots not arrows but quill pens dipped in ink; he knows the might of a well-timed and well-placed word.  His shaved head indicates his clarity and objectivity; he is open to new thoughts, yet not gullible.  Everything he learns will be processed in a rational, logical manner.  The King of Swords reminds me that words can heal or hurt, create or destroy, and I would be wise to keep a cool head before speaking.  He teaches me that no matter how many "I'm sorrys" I say, the bell can never be unrung.

From the OH Cards come the image and word "turtle" and "boast:"
This turtle brought to mind the pond sliders we have here.  They are so named because they sun on banks and logs, but as soon as they see movement of any kind, they quickly slide off into the water.  They remind me of folks on the internet who present opinions as facts.  When the "sunlight" of reality exposes them and they are recognized as a pot-stirrer or intellectual egomaniac, they rarely stick around.  This card encourages me to check my facts and sources as well as my motivations before spouting off about something.  Some things are better left unsaid. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tool: a device used to carry out a function

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Hanged Man:
Well, if you ever go back into Wooley Swamp,
Well, you better not go at night.
There's things out there in the middle of them woods
That make a strong man die from fright.
~ Charlie Daniels
The vines, water, and dark atmosphere of this image remind me of a swamp.  The body of the person seems sexless, pointing out that it doesn't matter who you are or what you have, there are times when everyone's life becomes bogged down.  This position creates a feeling of being powerless; even the hands of the hanged one appear to be pinned, as if he were a bug in an insect collection.  The flowering vines that droop from the tree tops remind me of the wisteria we have here that grows rampant in wooded and swampy areas.  Though beautiful, it is a non-native that can quickly take over and control an area.  In this place of surrender, with my ego strapped down tight, I may get a glimpse of a new way of perceiving things - if I can stop struggling long enough to open my eyes.

From the OH Cards come the image and word "mallet" and "homosexual:"
A stone mallet or hatchet is used to process an animal skin.  The word "homosexual" threw me in understanding this card though.  It wasn't until I considered the mallet and the word both as tools that I made the connection.  Some words seem to be used more often as labels, to separate a person or group.  These words point out differences, as if saying, "You are different from me, therefore I am better than you."  There are so many of these words: black or white, Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, Christian or non-Christian.  Most rely on external appearances, choices or opinions.  What they don't do is remind me that this person wants to feel joy, love and a sense of belonging just like me; this person feels fear, grief and sadness like me.  This person or group has much more in common with me than these labels would suggest.  Which may be just what the Hanged Man is trying to get across to me today...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Creative Critic

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Ace of Wands:
In the pit of the gut lies a a glowing bluish-white spark - the essence of inspiration.  The figure illustrates the paradox of all the aces; both the masculine and the feminine are shown in the drawing of the physical body parts and also in the roaring and resting lion heads.  The feminine is what is needed to receive and implant the spark that motivates and stirs one's passion.  But once the idea has found root and begins to grow, it needs the masculine to take action and do something with it before it fizzles out.  The ten fingers resemble lit matches waiting to light the fuse that will materialize the inner passion in the outer world.  If I continue to wait, they will eventually burn themselves out.

 From the OH Cards come "sheep" and "resist:"
It took me some time to figure out what these cards had to do with the Ace of Wands above.  But then it dawned on me how I can take the fiery passion of the lion and turn it into a docile flock of sheep.  Self-talk such as, "You have no special talent.  Your gifts are no more creative than what anyone else does," can be the rain that puts out the fire.  If I keep listening to that inner critic, any project I attempt is doomed before I even start.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our Troubles are All the Same

From the Mary-El Tarot, Strength:
This is the second time I've drawn this major arcana card in the last few days, and it has been impressed upon me how much this is an inner challenge rather than an external one.  The lion the person straddles in the card is the beast within, part of the self.  But what catches my attention is the pearl ring and mala (prayer beads) the person wears and holds.  Pearls are formed by irritants or bacteria that find their way into the soft tissue of mollusks.  The bivalves secrete calcium carbonate and other minerals to contain it, covering it in concentric layers over time and eventually creating a pearl.  And just as the pearl is considered a rare and valuable object, so too are the qualities of courage, patience, and loving-kindness that I can develop over time with practice.

The OH card selections this morning were "bar" and "share:"
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.
~ Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo 
The combination of this image and word instantly brought to mind the theme song from "Cheers."  It reminds me that whatever I am going through, there is probably someone I am acquainted with who has experienced something very similar and has made it out on the other side.  I don't have to be a one-woman army; I can reach out to friends and share with them, allowing each of us to be a support for each other.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Armored Hearts

This week I'll be using the Mary-El Tarot created by Marie White and published by Schiffer.  There is a book that comes with this set (written by White), but I'll probably be relying more on what I see in the image than what is written in the book.  Today's draw is the Knight of Cups:
This knight reverently holds a cup, from which a fountain of red flows.  It is interesting to note that his armor dips down in front exposing his chest.  There a white lotus is in full bloom, indicating an open heart.  But under the lotus is a watchful, protective eye, a sign that while this knight may be full of compassion, he's no one's lapdog.  He reminds me that I must let my guard down if I am going to form an intimate bond with others, and if someone breaks my trust, I don't have to continue in my relationship with them.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the OH Cards, created by Ely Raman and Joe Schlichter, and published by EOS Enterprises.  There are two decks in this set, one with pictures and one with words that you lay the images on.  Because I couldn't get both cards lined up on the scanner, I'll just include a scan of the picture.  This morning's cards were "Cave cat - Anxiety:"
Teeth bared, a wild cat sits outside its cave protecting the entrance.  I can't help but see how the cave resembles the black section on the knight's chest above that is without armor.  The "anxiety" keyword speaks to how if feels for me to let someone in to my life, to allow myself to be vulnerable.  I do think that my gut instincts can tell me when a person doesn't have my best interests at heart, and I do need to be alert to these warnings.  But I also need to be aware that often my anxiety comes from wanting to protect my heart from being hurt, even when there is no reason to do so.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Restful Patience

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Four of Swords:
The four swords hover over a black square that looks like a box with the lid flaps open.  It reminds me of packing away the holiday decorations.  In the corners of the flaps are the astrological signs of Aquarius, Leo, Taurus and Scorpio.  In astrology, there are three groups of signs: cardinal, fixed, and mutable associated with enterprise, stability, and adaptation respectively.  Here is a nudge for me to pack away all those niggling worries and nagging doubts that keep me awake at night and on edge during the day.  Normally my brain/ego thinks I must do something about everything.  But really what I need is a sense of solidity and steadiness right now, and allowing my mind to rest will help me find it.   

The roll from the Rory's Story Cubes produced "clock and tree:"
I hate to admit it, but I am consumed by time.  "Has the letter arrived yet?"  "Where is that package from Amazon?"  "How much time do I have left before I need to leave?"  The tree on the other die reminds me of the trees I planted in my yard.  Even the ones that have grown quickly have taken years to get to the size they are now, not days.  My Laceleaf Japanese maple has grown a mere inch in a decade.  The message is clear: be patient and let things unfold naturally.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Light and Dark Sides of Humans

From the Neuzeit Tarot, Strength:
When I first started using tarot cards, it took some time before I realized the lion in Strength was not something or someone external, but within me.  No matter how much spiritual work I do, anger, fear, envy and other not-so-nice characteristics will always be a part of me because I'm human.  My job is shown by the yin-yang wheel the lion's paw rests on: figure out how to keep the light and dark sides of my personality in balance.  Physically, I can use my breath to slow down the adrenaline rush that makes me want to react.  Mentally, I can look logically at the fallout of what I might do before I do anything.  And emotionally, I can realize that people have light and dark sides just like me, and I can choose to make a charitable assumption about their behavior rather than a negative one.

The roll of Rory's Story Cubes brought "nervous smile and snake:"
I've come to realize that when people feel threatened, emotionally or physically, they tend to do one of two things.  Either they put on a peacock suit and try to impress people ("See why you should like me?") or they slide on their snake suit and try to intimidate people ("I will hurt you if you mess with me.").  The problem with snake suits is that they provoke the same response in others and venom ends up flying all over the place.  It takes a conscious effort on my part to realize not all snakes are poisonous, and if I treat them respectfully, they will more often than not slither off and avoid confrontation.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cease Fighting

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Ten of Swords:
No bloody bodies here... instead I see a structure that reminds me of a scene from a fairground.  Imagine a government that has imprisoned thousands of people for simply holding certain beliefs (religious or political) or because of their ethnicity and traditions.  Then one day the government experiences a dramatic change in their views, and they release all those folks who have been incarcerated.  This is the story I think of when I see this image; the government is actually the committee in my own head who has kept me bound with rigid opinions and ideas.  The truth may set you free, but so can firing my "mental chairmen" who keep me miserable by trying to plaster the past all over the present.  I'm going to the fair and find some new ideas...

The roll of Rory's Story Cubes produced the "gunman and parachute:"
There are situations and people that make me feel like I'm being held at gunpoint; they have ideas they vehemently believe in, and by golly they expect me to have them too.  It's useless to have a discussion with them because they aren't going to budge.  Their goal is to wear me down until I accept their view.  There is a line in the AA textbook that says, "...we cease fighting anything and anyone..."  Yes, there's my parachute.  You can rant until your face turns purple, but I'm outta here...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ends and Means

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Eight of Wands:
Eights generally speak of setting priorities, getting things in order, and making swift progress.  The peak in the background is a hint that things are about to be completed - there aren't many more steps to take to reach the top.  The two wand figures on the end each wear a magician hat, and the shape above all the wands looks like a lemniscate.  Both of these symbols are a nod to the Magician tarot card that emphasizes not just focus, but using the resources available to manifest one's goal.  The eyes and hands underscore this emphasis, implying that mental concentration must be followed up with action.  In other words, if I want to make swift progress, I better be doing the same.

The roll from Rory's Story Cubes brought the "beaker and world:"
Humanity gets in such a rush to "improve" the world with medicine and technology, we often don't stop to think what we might be harming along the way.  I think of the invention of antibiotics, that are a wonderful gift on one hand, but have been misused on the other.  Overuse has created resistant strains of bacteria, and the unused portions have been flushed so often our water supplies have become contaminated.  These cubes are a warning to look carefully at the fallout of what I might "accomplish," and decide if the end result is worth the ultimate cost.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sink or Swim

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Two of Swords:
Two swords, one topped with a moon and one with a sun, point toward water below.  The left side of the water is choppy while the right side is smoother with undulations.  Everything about this card emphasizes opposites, with the exception of the yin-yangs (though even these show yin on top on one side and yang on top on the other).  There are times when I feel like my choices are reduced to all or nothing/yes or no, especially when emotions are involved.  Yet if I look closely, I see where the waters merge and head toward a cave with a mandala inside, a symbol of wholeness.  It is hard to sit with intense feelings and patiently wait until I can see a point of compromise that is neither black or white but neutral.

A roll from Rory's Story Cubes turned up "worry and bridge:"
"Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind." ~ Simon and Garfunkel
The "troubled water" theme reiterates the tarot card above.  The bridge is the way over, the middle path that can keep me from choosing one extreme or the other.  But when I'm worried, I can get so caught up in my fear I keep looking at the rapids I must cross instead of a solution that might help me.  Friends are the ones who can gently point out, "Bridge ahead, only 1/2 mile."  There's no need to sink or swim.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aging and Magic Mushrooms

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Ace of Pentacles:
I'm late blogging today because I've been sitting with my 92 year old mother-in-law, who is having some health issues.  She recently had a fall, but stubbornly refuses to use a cane or walker.  She's developed a respiratory infection that has knocked her for a loop, and thinks I'm nuts for encouraging her to drink water to help it (she prefers coffee and Cheetos).  Her loss of memory is now obvious and not helped by her lack of interest in food.  She gives up small pieces of her independence only grudgingly, though at this stage in the game she realizes she does need help.  The coin in the center of this image shows a cycle of a flower blooming then fading, reminding me of the gift of heath that comes and goes no matter what our age.  I take so much for granted until I am like the crouched pair of humans in the card, reaching for what they don't have and need.  It's bloody cold and windy today, but now that I'm home I'm going for a walk; I'll be grateful for the ability to do it no matter what the weather.

The roll from Rory's Story Cubes produced "mushroom and basement:"
Hmmm.... a magic mushroom and steps descending into darkness.  Makes me think of the effect of a psychedelic drug on the mind, bringing the unconscious into consciousness and seeing with awareness on a different level.  The time spent with my mother-in-law involves much patience and tolerance, and I have to admit sometimes I become a clock watcher when I am with her.  What is it that makes me so uncomfortable?  Boredom may play a part (the same stories and questions over and over), but I feel like there is something hidden under the surface, something she triggers in my unconscious.  Perhaps she reminds me of my own mortality, that one day I too will have to rely on others to do for me what I can't do for myself.  Makes me look at patience in a whole new light...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Share, Learn, Do

This week I'll be using the Neuzeit Tarot created by Walter Wegmuller and published by AG Muller.  Today's draw is the Four of Wands:
The wands are drawn to look like kings, each one a different color (reminding me of racial/ethnic diversity) and each with a suit emblem on it (wand, coin, cup, sword).  The ball of hands and eyes make me think of people I don't know personally - the faceless folks who produce things I use and rely on, whether it is the books I read or the food I eat.  This tarot card speaks of a firm foundation in working toward an objective, and reminds me of John Donne's line, "No man is an island, entire of itself."  Things that last and things of worth require the talents and efforts of many people; I would be wise to gratefully accept their knowledge and help.

The "oracle" I'll be using is a combination of two sets of dice: Rory's Story Cubes and Rory's Story Cubes - Voyages.  These dice were created by Rory O'Connor and produced by Gamewright.  This morning's throw rolled up "glasses and footprint:"
I'm a nature lover, and I always get tickled when I talk to others who claim they love nature too; after listening to them I soon realize what they mean is that they love it on their television sets or in their books.  Heaven forbid they had to be out in it!  Yet I do the same thing with other matters.  I can read every book in the library on Zen until my head is bursting with knowledge, but fail to practice anything I've learned.  As the footprint suggests, none of it is useful until I do something with it.  Then the knowledge shared and knowledge learned can come full circle and make a difference in my life.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Freed Prisoner

From the Radiant Rider-Waite, Judgment:
I rarely need an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning, mostly because I wake up every few hours anyway.  But these blue bodies are getting a different kind of wake up call, one that has brought them out of a deep freeze.  Judgment represents those "aha" moments when I trace a firmly held belief back to its invalid source or understand the root of a detrimental behavior.  It's like I've become the freed prisoner of Plato's Cave, and I see reality for what it is rather than my misinterpretation of it.  However the biggest challenge is not in finally seeing the truth but acting on it.

From the Archetype Cards, the "Prostitute:"
No, I haven't secretly taken a part-time job.  Myss uses the Prostitute archetype to indicate I may be compromising my integrity in some way.  Fear can cause me to "sell" my soul to who or whatever I think will bring me the security I seek.  And though this solution might work for a brief time, the consequences can be disastrous down the road.  Putting up my self-respect, morals and ethics for an ante will not bring me the return I'm looking for, it will only create a dark pit that will be hard to escape.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


From the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot, the Fool:
Carefree, spontaneous, having a child-like trust - these are all qualities of the Fool, most of which rarely describe me.  The Fool is shown as he is about to incarnate, the pure spirit stepping into the material world.  It's no coincidence that he must go off a cliff to do so; the real world has its beauties and joys, but it can be tough as hell too.  I am reminded that I still fall headlong off of cliffs on this earthly plane.  Sometimes I am pushed by circumstances in life, and sometimes I unintentionally make choices that make the ground beneath me give way.  If I am to maintain my sanity and serenity through it all, I must learn to be like the Fool, living one moment at a time.

From the Archetype Cards comes the "Scribe:"
When I first drew this card, I couldn't see myself in either attribute.  But then it dawned on me that I do write down information - my daily blog and my daily nature journal.  I don't think either my blog or journal contribute much knowledge or information to anyone but me, but neither were intended as information for others.  Recording my thoughts and experiences make me pause and help keep me in the Fool's moment, a peaceful place to be most of the time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Egoism and Expertise

From the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot, the Five of Wands:
Whether discussing religion, politics, or simply the best way to get from point "A" to point "Z," everyone has an opinion about something.  I just witnessed a guy "sharing" his opinion with a group; not only did he state it, he drove it home with a sledgehammer and then poured three feet of concrete over it.  It's hard to have a discussion with folks like that, because they're only interested in speaking and not listening.  I tend to be more of a peacemaker than a fire-starter, but give me a topic I think I know something about and feel passionately toward, and I can be as stubborn as a dog with his favorite chew toy.  Sometimes I must stop and ask myself, "How important is this?  Will my refusal to be flexible change anything?"

From the Archetype Cards comes the "Dilettante:"
I would describe myself as a Jane-of-all-trades who is master of none.  I could build a nice bookshelf, but you wouldn't want me to add an addition to your home.  This card reminds me of two things.  The first is not to let my ego convince me that I'm an expert in something when I'm not (having firm opinions is not the same as legitimate training).  The second is to question why I don't follow up on some of my skills to improve on them.  Do I fear that I'll not be up to the task?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Righting Wrongs

From the Radiant Rider-Waite, the Page of Cups:
This young fellow looks like he is listening to the fish that has appeared in his cup.  Most people interpret his scaly friend as one's intuition offering guidance.  In my earlier years, I lived as if I was in a car with no brake - just a wide gas pedal.  When an intense emotion came up, I reacted to it immediately without pausing to think about why I had this feeling or the consequences of acting on it.  The Page of Cups reminds me that I need to use the brake and examine my emotions before reacting.  Often what I'm responding to has more to do with me than the person or situation outside myself.

From the Archetype Cards, the "Avenger:"
With his black mask and map cape, this guy looks like a new member of the Justice League.  His desire is to right wrongs, but in his efforts to stamp out injustice is the temptation to resort to violence to do so.  I can relate to his need.  We live next to a public ballpark that has grown from a small neighborhood affair to a city-wide one.  During ball season, the patrons park all over the place, blocking driveways, mailboxes, etc.  We had the city put up "No Parking" signs in the alley to keep folks from blocking driveways and allow us access to our homes, but already people are parking there anyway.  The mega-church nearby bought land behind the park to make a big parking lot and told the ballpark they could use it too on game days.  But that would mean the patrons would have to walk a few yards instead of a few feet.  The Avenger in me has often thought of burying boards with nails along the sides of the alley in retaliation (to "teach them a lesson"), but deep down I know I'm more likely to hurt a school kid walking home or a pet out for a stroll.  So instead I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper, explaining that the no parking rule was for safety reasons rather than to inconvenience them.  A line of cars creates a visual barrier; when a child runs out into the alley, it is impossible to see them.  I'll be curious to see if the letter gets printed and has any effect.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fill and Refill

From the Radiant Rider-Waite, the Ace of Cups:
I have a water cup I carry around with me all day to make sure I get enough to drink; when it is empty, I refill it again.  It would make no sense to fill it up then sit it on the counter and forget about it - cups are made to be used.  As I look at the wafer being dipped into the cup in this card, I am reminded that all the joy, love and compassion I have is useless if I don't do something with it.  These emotions aren't an intellectual activity, they are meant to be expressed in the physical world.

From the Archetype Cards comes the "Midas/Miser:"
Myss explains in the set's booklet that this archetype isn't confined to finances - creative talents, problem-solving ideas, and emotions can also be shared or hoarded.  Holding tightly to any of these can be costly instead of prudent.  Imagine a sunflower that refuses to turn loose of its seeds at the end of the growing season; all potential withers away.  There is a middle path I must walk between giving everything and giving nothing. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Empty Gauge

From the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot, the Four of Cups:
Crossed arms, averted eyes and a sullen expression - here is the body language of emotional hollowness.  Yesterday I was a whirlwind, completely and intensely focused on a creative project.  I worked all day and into the wee hours of the morning, but now I'm finished for the most part.  And as with most exciting adventures, celebrations with friends, and the completion of a project or goal, the end brings an emotional letdown.  I love the rush of being creatively inspired, yet I know there is a balance to all things.  My body, mind and spirit need time to unwind and relax in order to prepare for the next time my muse makes an appearance.

From the Archetype Cards comes "Monk/Nun:"
When I am extremely busy, the first thing to go is my spiritual practice.  Which makes no sense, considering it is what my sanity and serenity depend upon.  Yet it also provides more than just these - it helps me refill those cups that are empty, bringing clarity and solutions as well.  I doubt there will ever be an equal amount of both activity and contemplative stillness in my life, but running on one without the other will lead to a gauge that reads "empty." 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Balance of Brain and Intuition

This week I'll be using the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot, a deck based on the artwork of Pamela Colman Smith and published by U.S. Games.  Today's card is the Page of Pentacles:
The Page of this suit is often called the student; he focuses so intently on that coin in his hand he looks like he might try to take a bite out of it.  Below him to the right is a plowed field ready to be sown, an indication that what he is learning is not just an intellectual pursuit but will be used for practical purposes.  Little poppies have begun to sprout around his feet, reminding me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz movie where Dorothy and her companions fall asleep in the poppy field instead of making progress on their journey.  Right now I must keep my concentration steady without being tempted by distractions, if I plan to reap a harvest for my efforts.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Archetype Cards, created by Caroline Myss and published by Hay House.  This morning's card is the "Gambler:"
I have never played the lottery and only play poker when it's "for fun" and not for money.  But it's not just my finances that I tend to be cautious with - I live all my life this way.  So while this card might be a warning for some, for me it is an encouragement to step outside my comfort zone and take a risk.  Sometimes it is better to follow my intuition instead of checking my cerebral file cabinet for all the answers.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Arrogantly Ignorant

From the Transformational Tarot, the Three of Wands:
A young woman has inherited the family farm, and she confidently acknowledges the potential as the new owner (Ace of Wands).  But should she sell it and make some money, or should she attempt to make a go at running it herself?  She clarifies her thoughts, weighing the pros and cons, and decides she will keep the farm (Two of Wands).  Here she finds herself at the Three of Wands, realizing that she has the resources for her dreams and knows how she wants to proceed.  Yet she's wise enough to realize she's going to have to learn quite a lot for her venture to work and will need the help of others to keep things running smoothly.  The lesson of the Three of Wands is responsible progress; jumping into a situation without skills, knowledge or assistance will only create a shaky structure instead of the strong foundation needed for success.

From the Celtic Book of the Dead comes the "Island of Plenteous Salmon:"
After an exhausting week with barely enough food and water to stay alive, the voyagers come to the Island of Plenteous Salmon.  The Otherworld shows its hospitality by offering comfortable lodgings and all the food and drink they could ever want.  The house where they rest has an opening to the sea, where waves toss salmon into a trough for them.  The hospitality of the island is a message for me to be receptive; the salmon represent wisdom available if I chose to be open to it.  As long as I think I hold all the secrets of the universe and have nothing to learn from others, is precisely how long I will remain arrogantly ignorant.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Coming Alive

From the Transformational Tarot, the Queen of Wands:
The Queen of Wands takes Joseph Campbell's advice to heart: "Follow your bliss.  Find where it is and don't be afraid to follow it."  Her passion is like the fire beneath the cauldron; it motivates her to do what she loves.  But like Campbell, her "bliss" isn't a form of hedonism - it is neither transient nor self-serving.  As Howard Thurman explained:
Don't ask so much what the world needs.
Go out and do what makes you come alive,
because what the world needs most
are people who have come alive.   

From the Celtic Book of the Dead comes the "Island of the Mill:"
Here Maelduin and his men saw people with large sacks of grain being delivered to a mill.  The crew learned these people were reaping what they had sown.  Those folks who proved themselves to be grudging and unkind ended up having to pay for their deeds by giving up a portion of what they had.  The message of this card is that while I may rationalize my "justified" resentments and punishing behavior toward others, it will come back to bite me in the rear every time.  If I focus on following my bliss, I won't even have time to think about payback.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pause and Listen

From the Transformational Tarot, the Sorceress (High Priestess):
A woman gazes deeply into a crystal ball as cards tumble from her table.  Three animals - a raven, a cat, and a snake - keep her company.  The ways I've learned to tap into what is hidden under layers of ego is through divination, shamanic journeying, and meditation.  Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh wrote that meditation produces three sources of energy: mindfulness (being aware of the moment), concentration (ability to focus), and insight (discerning the hidden, true nature of things).  It is this latter "energy" that the High Priestess represents; she encourages me to pause, be still, and listen.

From the Celtic Book of the Dead comes the "Island of Singing Birds:"
When I worked full-time at a weekday job, getting to "hump day" - Wednesday - gave me hope that I would make it through the rest of the week.  By the time Maelduin and company reached this island, they were at the halfway point in their voyage and feeling worn out.  They came upon this mountainous place and heard songs being sung as if by a choir.  The beauty of the birds' voices buoyed their spirits and gave them the encouragement they needed to push on in their voyage.  The message of this card is to open myself, be receptive, and listen.  I need to hear something of significance that will help me not only make progress, but will inspire and cheer me as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Keep the Focus on Me, not Them

From the Transformational Tarot, the Seven of Pentacles:
A young man leans against a tree while an older man makes his way through a tunnel.  My first reaction to this card is that it is about taking out one's "bucket list" and checking off what has and hasn't been done.  Perhaps the young man dreams of sailing around the world one day; on some level, he knows that he will make a final journey after which this will no longer be possible.  Behind the boat picture is a wall of webs that seems to ask, "What are you weaving with this wonderful life you've been given?"  I've always considered the Seven of Pentacles to suggest assessing one's progress toward a goal; here I think I am asked to make an inventory of my life so far.

From the Celtic Book of the Dead comes the "Island of Invisible Riders:"
Maelduin and crew come to this island rather early in their voyage.  On the island they can hear a horse race going on, but can't see any humans.  The hoof prints in the sand are large as sails and the cups are the size of large cauldrons.  Scared and shaken, they hurriedly head back to the ship and sail off.  This card reminds me of the mentality of most Americans, whose attitude tends to be "conquer it (you're either my friend or my enemy), fix it (you need to become like us), or get rid of it (if you're not a resource, you're a liability and must be eliminated)."  Maelduin and the guys had their culture-centric minds shaken when they landed on this island; here was a group of people who were "more" than them in every way.  The message of this island is that people, places and things that aren't like me don't need me mucking them up; I just need to accept them as they are and work on changing me and my attitude.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Those Unconscious Parts

From the Transformational Tarot, the Prince (Knight) of Cups:
"I think you live more and become more familiar with the workings of your own mind -- the darkness in it, the narcissism -- and the desperate attempts the ego makes to cover that up.” ~ Patrick Page
Instead of the usual Knight of Cups who is "in love with love," Ando uses Narcissus - a man in love with himself.  I've been doing a bit of shadow work lately, and it's made me aware of just how self-absorbed I am in many ways.  I've found myself pulling cards (like this one), and thought, "Wow, that message sure applies to ____."  In other words, my ego loves to hear the good stuff, but is quick to project the not-so-good stuff on others.  Yet if I'm ever going to become a whole, fully functioning person, I've got to be willing to acknowledge these parts of myself and become consciously aware of their influence.

From the Celtic Book of the Dead comes the "Island of the Four Fences:"
Maelduin and his men land on the Island of the Four Fences - a land divided into four quadrants of kings, queens, warriors, and maidens.  I automatically thought of the quote by Rumer Godden in A House with Four Rooms:
"There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person."
The challenge for the men was the same as Godden's message - learn to integrate and balance all parts of yourself.