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, April 30, 2013

Nurturing and Natural Rhythms

From the Illuminated Tarot, the Empress:
I recently cleaned out a large raised bed that I originally used for herbs.  Now that it gets mostly dappled sun and isn't suited for an herbal garden, I decided to plant flower seeds.  First I had to dig out the roots of trees that had grown into the bed from underground, then I had to add about six jumbo bags of soil.  The seeds were a variety, and since they had to be buried at various depths, I used a marked dowel to make measured holes to drop them in.  At this point, I wish I could just sit back and let the seeds do the rest of the work.  But instead, I have to water to keep the soil damp, pull up any weeds that pop up, remove limbs and sticks that fall into the bed, and chase off the squirrels who see it as a nice place to dig.  The Empress reminds me that no matter what I want to grow or create, I'm going to have to give it attention and care.  Nurturing  anything in order to allow it to mature is going to take a commitment on my part.

From the Dreaming in Color deck this morning comes the card "Patience:"
The texture and color of this card is feathery and soft, reminding me of the nature of patience.  There is no pushing and shoving to get to the head of the line; there is no shouting to have my voice heard above all others.  It is a gentleness that allows things to happen on their own timetable.  Those seeds I've planted will eventually grow if I keep nurturing them, but they have their own inner clock.  I am the one who must adjust to the natural rhythm and pace of life, not the other way around.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lovely, Dark and Deep

From the Illuminated Tarot, the Knight of Pentacles:
The recoloring of this card makes it feel like a transition time - either sunrise or sunset.  This knight is the guy who is going to read all the directions on how to put something together, then lay out all the pieces and gather all the tools he'll need before getting started.  He drives impatient people crazy with his methodical mindset, but they put up with him because they know he'll do the job right the first time.  He doesn't quit when things get frustrating (the oak leaves he and the horse wear show his strength in persevering); he'll continue to plod along until he finds a solution to the challenge.  He encourages me to stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other (even if progress seems to be at a snail's pace) as I move through a time of change.

From the Dreaming in Color deck comes the card "Journey:"
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
~ Robert Frost

In her booklet, Sommers explains that this is not a vacation type of journey, but one of the spirit.  The darkness of the colors represent the inner, intuitive selfI suppose all of us are on this type of journey, but most of us are clueless until the unconscious (or life) sends us a clear, wake-up call.  We suddenly find ourselves boarding a train, destination unknown, whether we like it or not.  Though it is often "dark and deep" (and a bit frightening), we hopefully will find like Frost that it is lovely as well. 


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Multi-color or Monochrome

From the Illuminated Tarot, the Star:
The Star is often a message of hope and healing, but it is also about the guidance needed to get there.  Where will it come from?  I see several sources in this card: the pool of water, representing the intuitive Self; the five streams of water on the ground, symbolizing the five senses; and the bird in the tree, signifying study and the intellect.  It seems all of these will work together as a collective whole, if I will only do my part by paying attention to all of them.

The card drawn from the Dreaming in Color deck this morning is "Resentment:"
The reddish-orange of this image almost obscures the green underneath.  I am reminded of how a migraine completely colors everything going on in my life - as if it was the only focus in my life.  Sommers defines resentment as a tightly-held, lingering bitterness due to feeling unjustly wronged.  Taking into consideration the Star above, I realize that I will be missing many messages of guidance if all I'm thinking about is the person who hurt me.  But how do you trust someone untrustworthy?  How do you have compassion for a person who has no qualms with causing pain to others?  Perhaps it is enough now not to hate; after all the best revenge is to enjoy life. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jack of All Philosophies

This week I'll be using the Illuminated Tarot, a re-colored version of the Rider-Waite-Smith created and self-published by Carol Herzer.  Today's draw is the Hierophant:
When I see the Hierophant pop up, I can't help but compare him to the High Priestess.  They both have the fancy, big hat and robe thing going on, and they both sit between two pillars.  But the Hierophant has columns that are the same (not black and white as in the High Priestess), and he has followers or initiates who have chosen his path (while the HP is alone).  My first reaction to him is a negative one, seeing only a rigid way of thinking and living.  But lately I've begun to question whether my "skim the surface" approach is any better.  Instead of a "Jack of All Trades," I've become a "Jack of All Philosophies, and Master of None."  There is no digging deep into the marrow with this method, and no real community with which to discuss my ideas.  Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Hierophant after all.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Dreaming in Color Deck (aka Luman Deck) created and published by Mindy Sommers.  This morning's draw is "Fear:"
I recognize the gray-green shades of color in this card; they resemble the complexion of a nauseated person.  In adding this emotion to the Hierophant above, I wonder if I have a fear of commitment.  I was the unmarried one while friends of mine were already wedded and having babies.  It took me awhile before I felt I had the right guy, but now I have been married for 24 years.  Is it a fear of losing my freedom that keeps me from pledging my allegiance to one person, group or philosophy?  Am I afraid of making the wrong choice?  Perhaps most of it stems from my "all or nothing" attitude; if I am not 100% on board with a path's beliefs or views, I tend to dismiss them as a whole.  Maybe I don't have to eat everything on the philosophical plate to sit down to dinner with them after all.   

Friday, April 26, 2013

Coloring Inside the Lines

From the Sheridan Douglas Tarot, the Emperor:
The scepter of this tough-looking Emperor reminds me of a torch, which makes sense to me because I've always seen him as a sort of guidance counselor (in addition to being a protector and rule maker/enforcer).  The little booklet that comes with the deck suggested that he also embodies the positive qualities of all the kings - a tall order for anyone.  Let's see... compassionate detachment, creative follow-through, objective justice, and generous enterprise.  I suppose that as I "color inside the lines" today, I should not forget the loving, human side of this Emperor.

From the Pages of Shustah comes the "Path:"
Lions, and tigers, and bears...oh my!  Like Dorothy on the yellow brick road, there can be many distractions along the way.  This card reminds me to stay on the path rather than wander off into the woods.  The green of this card matches the torch-scepter of the emperor above, and encourages me to focus on what is important and what is in front of me instead of getting caught up in "what ifs" or drama going on around me.  It may look exciting, but its really just chaos and will only sidetrack me.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Extremes have Similar Effects

From the Sheridan Douglas Tarot, Temperance:
Temperance points to thinking and behavior that is on the outer edge - an "all or nothing" attitude.  The heat of the volcano and the brightness of the sun contrast with the coolness of the water and the darkness of the earth in this illustration.  On which end of the continuum do I find myself?  The Greek word for "rainbow" was iris, and for them these flowers represented a bridge between heaven and earth.  Used in the image above, they remind me to look for a more balanced perspective and choose a less extreme approach.  If I can stand more in the middle than on the edge, I am more likely to see the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.  As George Chapman once said, "Extremes, though contrary, have the like effects," none of which are usually beneficial in the long run.

From the Pages of Shustah deck comes the "Little Fool:"
The Little Fool encourages me to go into a situation with a sense of wonder rather than cynicism, with an open mind rather than with an agenda.  Experience can be a great teacher but only if I allow it to teach; if my mind is already set in concrete, no new knowledge or wisdom has a chance of penetrating.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


From the Sheridan Douglas Tarot, the Papess (High Priestess):
Instead of a woman holding a scroll while gazing outward, this card shows the High Priestess reading intently and contemplating what she has read.  There is no stroking of the ego or intellectual debate; the information is received and digested.  Lately I have been doing an in depth study of the Eight Limbs of Yoga along with other areas of yogic philosophy.  When I read with focused attention, there are times when I get a spiritual nudge as if someone is whispering to me, "Did you catch that last line?  It is important for you."  This card reminds me that those intuitive flashes are not to be acknowledged then ignored, but an understanding to be applied in my life.

From the Pages of Shustah, the "Card of Destiny:"
The moon moves through phases, waxing to fullness then waning to darkness.  The "destiny" part of this card refers to changes; just as I get comfortable with something new, something else will come along to take its place.  While this can keep me on my toes, it can also reveal a lot about me in how I handle it.   

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Water Flow, Knots in the Hose

From the Sheridan Douglas Tarot, the Eight of Wands:
Eight arrows fly through the air, heading downward to their target.  Besides the sharp points, I notice the fletching on the back of the arrows.  There are three fletches (vanes) made of matched half-feathers on each end.  The fletching gives stabilty to the arrow so that the arrow flies straight instead of tumbling end over end.  This card indicates that a creative project or challenge is nearing its completion.  The three fletches symbolize the preparation, initial action, and follow-through that have gotten me to this point.  Now my attention and effort must not waver as things come to a conclusion.

From the Pages of Shustah come the card "Candle:"
The candle is used to illuminate the darkness, and represents knowledge and wisdom.  I have a 150 ft. hose that I am using to water in the new shrubs and flowers I've planted.  Because of its length, it often gets kinks in it (stopping the water flow), and I have to pause and backtrack to find the knot and untangle it.  I've never had a challenge or a project yet that didn't have some sort of tangle; I must remember to be patient and shine a light on the problem in order to get things moving again.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Day is Short, the Road is Long

From the Sheridan Douglas Tarot, the Five of Wands:
As I said in yesterday's post, the green color represents progress, but obviously these two don't see eye-to-eye on how to get things accomplished.  The five wands in the top right corner are placed in the shape of a pentacle, representing humans.  Where there are humans, there are differences of opinion.  But sometimes this doesn't refer to me in conflict with another person, but with myself.  I've already got a long list of things to do today, and the sun has just peeked over the horizon.  The war within is what will make it to the top of my priority list.

From the Pages of Shustah deck comes the "Journey:"
What a lovely coincidence to draw two green cards on Earth Day!  The Journey card represents exactly what it has been named.  As I look at this image, I see the path is long and winding rather than a straight shot.  It appears I might as well enjoy the scenery as I progress along the way instead of constantly worrying about ticking things off my list.  Perhaps the time constraints I alluded to above aren't really relevant at all.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kilroy was Here

From the Sheridan Douglas Tarot, the King of Wands:

This king looks like he's ready to hit one out of the ballpark because of the way he's holding the staff.  He is green - from head to toe - telling me that he's all about making progress toward his goals.  Action is fine, as long as you're purposefully moving forward.  But look at the design and cut at the top of his tunic; it reminds me of the "Kilroy was here" graffiti that started in World War II and continued popping up everywhere as a joke.  So it's not that the King of Wands doesn't want me to have fun, he just suggests I get my work done first.

From the Pages of Shustah deck comes the "Mammoth:"
This extinct mammal was a good choice to represent the past.  It hints that I might need to reflect on how the past is affecting my present.  If I'm moving in circles and not making progress (as the King of Wands above would demand), then I need to see if habitual thoughts or behaviors are the cause.  The green of the mammoth mirrors the green of the king, and indicates that if progress is going to be made then changes must be made as well.