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, December 31, 2014

Choose Fear of Fun

From the Gaian Tarot, the Nine of Air (Swords); from the Goddess Oracle, "Bast:"
          The woman holding on to the standing stone is obviously in distress, emphasized by the storm clouds around her. The image in the clouds is a from a petroglyph found in Washington called "She Who Watches." It represents a chief who was turned to stone so she could permanently watch over and protect her people. I've been around a lot of friends and family lately, and their well-meaning questions often began with: "What are you going to do about..." "Have you made a decision about..." "Don't you think you should..." After several days of listening to that, I'm looking for my own security stone to keep my anxiety at bay. Yet these are just thoughts floating around; like a scary dream they're not solid.
          Janto's painting of the Egyptian goddess Bast never fails to make me smile. And I can't help but notice how much the petrogylph in the tarot card resembles a cat. Bast and Sekhemet (the lion-headed goddess) represented two powers of the sun: the life-giving aspect and the destroying aspect. Bast ruled pleasure, dance, music, joy and health. Marashinsky suggests Bast represents "play," writing "opportunities for self-amusement are endless." Indeed, who would want to waste time biting their nails, when they could be having a good time?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

An Anniversary

From the Gaian Tarot, the Canoe (Chariot); from the Goddess Oracle, "Lilith:"
          I had to smile when the Canoe/Chariot popped up today, because I am celebrating an anniversary of sorts - 27 years of being clean and sober. I can see the focus, determination and self-discipline reflected in this man's face that keeps him moving in the right direction; having a similar purpose requires the same of me. Yet my objective has changed a bit over the years. It is not drugs or alcohol I struggle with any longer, but emotional sobriety. I can get intoxicated by them as well; it can lead me to unhealthy behavior that harms others and myself. This is the reason I paddle along with Lojong slogans and other spiritual tools in my canoe. I'm definitely still a work in progress.
          In Jewish folklore (beginning around the 8th century), Lilith appears as Adam's first wife. She was made from the earth at the same time he was, but she refused to be subservient to him. When she left Adam and the Garden of Eden, mythology transformed her into a female demon. I don't know of any woman alive today (unless they've "sipped the kool-aide") who wouldn't recognize the attempt to keep women from power in this story. I've experienced this in recovery, first when a few women and myself started a women-only meeting (to protect newcomers from some of the male predators who showed up at mixed meetings). We were labeled as Satan worshipers by the fundamentalist members, yet we continued on (and that meeting is still going strong over ten years later). Being out of the religious mainstream (and in the Deep South Bible Belt), I've also caught flack for speaking out for myself and others whose spiritual path veers off the Christian highway. Like Lilith, I think we all should have the freedom to find our own way instead of being forced to submit to someone else's ideas.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Open Airwaves

From the Gaian Tarot, the Child (Page) of Air; from the Goddess Oracle, "Sphinx:"
          She might only be a child, but the Page of Air/Swords is adept at deep listening. She's like a huge antennae that picks up data from all around her. Some might say she is nosy, but actually she's just curious. Having such a sharp mind, she likes to explore different points of view and study new information. She suggests that I might want to take the cotton out of my ears and stuff it in my mouth for a change. There is something floating about the airwaves that would be beneficial for me to learn.
          The Sphinx of Egypt was built as a guardian, holding the keys to the gates of wisdom. But to pass through her gates, initiates had to meet her challenge. She asks: "If I ask the question that provokes, will you stretch to find the answer?" Whatever she asks, it's not going to make me comfortable. I might be offended or frightened and choose to avoid it altogether. Yet the Child of Air would encourage me to be curious and look beyond my emotional reaction. There is wisdom to be had if I stand my ground and uncover the answer.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Outside the Lines

This week I'll be using the Gaian Tarot, a deck and book set created and self-published by Joanna Powell Colbert. I'll also be using the Goddess Oracle, a deck and book set created by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and illustrated by Hrana Janto. Today's draws are Seven of Air (Swords) and "Artemis:"
          I wonder if someone drew this map for the hiker, trying to show him where to find the safest trails and where to avoid the dangers. But as many folks do, he may be wondering if the scenery is more spectacular off the beaten path. If he follows the map, he might miss out on seeing wildlife or sights he wants to see. Yet if he blazes his own trail and gets lost or has an accident, searchers won't know where to look for him. Is the risk worth that choice? Should he take someone else's advice or depend on his own?
          Artemis requested one thing of her father: the right to live independently and run freely through the forest as its protector. A husband, house with a picket fence and children were not in her plans. Marashinsky writes:
There is no authority higher than my own
my powers of discernment are finely honed
I am autonomous
I am free from the influence of others' opinions
I am able to separate that which needs separation
so a clear decision can be reached
I think for myself.
I am not a risk-taker, which I think is mostly a good thing. But like that hiker, I occasionally yearn to move outside the lines, outside of what is "expected" of me. Yet if I do that, all the responsibility for that choice lands on my shoulders, for better or for worse. Is it worth it? Artemis would probably answer, "Hell yeah!"

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Full Stop

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Four of Swords; from Steps to Serenity, "Acceptance:"
          I have to admit for the past two weeks, as the darkness comes, I watch the clock with anticipation. I've been ready for bedtime long before it arrived. With the holiday now past and my back on the mend, this seems an appropriate card. Nonstop thought chatter, a tidal wave of emotions and physical aches have taken a toll. Rest for the body and mind is in order. The bird flying over the sleeping man holds a red and white poppy; the flowers suggest energy and clarity will return if I take time to recuperate. No project should be more important than downtime right now.
          I can just imagine this little ladybug standing on the edge of her leaf shouting, "As bug-god is my witness, I will find a way to make this rain stop! I will hunt aphids once again!" That's me alright; I love a good problem to solve, a challenge to conquer or a question to answer. But sometimes there are no solutions and no routes around an obstacle. All my thinking and strategizing will net me is a big, fat zero. As long as I keep arguing with reality, I'll keep suffering. Like the fellow in the tarot card, sometimes you have to lay down your swords and let things be.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Center, The Root

From the Legacy of Divine, the Sun; from Steps to Serenity, "Serenity:"
          It seems ludicrous to think ancient astronomers thought Earth was the center of the Universe. But then again, that's typically how humans think. I've spent quite a few years wondering why life didn't adjust itself to my plans and desires, and feeling angry that it didn't. It is like trying to build from a plan that uses metric measurements but instead using inches and feet. No wonder things didn't turn out right! But what clarity (and a sense of freedom) occurs when I realize I am not the center of the universe, and things don't depend my every thought and action. I am a part of the whole, a part that can be of benefit, but only if let go of my self-centered views.
          I can think of three reasons why I'm not experiencing serenity:
1) I'm so used to chaos that peace seems boring, so I create or engage in emotional drama.
2) My expectations weren't met about some person, place or thing.
3) I'm trying to control what I can't accept instead of embracing reality.
In all of these situations, I am self-absorbed and unwilling to work with "what is." I have to agree with Bill Wilson who said, "Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles." My lack of serenity really is caused by my own choices.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Way Forward

From the Legacy of the Divine, the Eight of Wands; from Steps to Serenity, "Forgiveness:"
          Marchetti describes this card as eight wands breaking through the clouds to open sky. We're now "free to move ahead, get things going, and implement some of our ideas." The Archer depicted in the sky is a symbol of Sagittarius, representing energy, optimism and exploration. But how do we get through the clouds to find that freedom of expression? Forgiveness. I was listening to a Tara Brach meditation on this topic, and she said, "If we hold onto our blame, we bypass the feelings that most need our attention for healing. We avoid the hurt and loss that need processing. Vengeance is a lazy form of grief, and it prevents us from moving forward in our life as a whole, awakened being." It might not just be someone else I need to forgive, but myself as well.
          To all my blogging friends and acquaintances, no matter what Season of Light you celebrate, I wish you good health, happiness and a ready sense of humor to accompany you along the way.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Not a Free-for-All

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Ace of Swords; from Steps to Serenity, "Honesty:"
          Being a birder, the first things I notice about this Ace of Swords are the eagles in the foreground and the hawks in the background. As an American, I associate the eagle with freedom (and with the sword, the truth that sets you free). I see hawks frequently; they're expert hunters, diving at great speeds from great heights to catch their meals. They tear apart their prey with a sharp bill and talons, and what they capture has a quick (though not painless) death. These birds of prey remind me of Marchetti's words about this card: "This power of the mind can be used for good or evil, because the two edges of the sword are peace and suffering."
          Honesty can be like that two-edged sword, inflicting harm or righting a wrong. Ginny on 78 Notes to Self had an excellent post a few years ago about honesty. She posted a picture she had found on Facebook that said "I'm not rude, I'm honest." She expressed the opinion that rudeness isn't tough love - it isn't love at all. I have to agree; it feels more like passive-aggressiveness than honesty. It is interesting that in the 12 Steps, the one that deals with making amends suggests we make: "direct amends [rigorous honesty and restitution] to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." Honesty is not a free-for-all food fight. People shouldn't wind up with more damage and harm than before I opened my mouth. I need to handle that sword very carefully.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Detach to Discern

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the King of Cups; from Steps to Serenity, "Shame:"
          I used to do a lot of cane pole fishing when I was younger; I attached one of those red and white plastic corks on the line to alert me to any nibbles. The King of Cups reminds me of a cork, as he floats atop his own emotions. He stays buoyant as the water ripples around him, offering unconditional love without allowing his empathy to become entangled in drama. If he happens to get hooked by some emotional chaos, he sends out the alert "Pull up! Pull up!" His appearance advises me that love doesn't mean getting yanked under.
          I look at guilt and shame as being slightly different, though they may feel the same. Guilt is the result of harm done - through words or actions - and amends or reparations are required to dissolve it. Shame on the other hand, is a product of emotional manipulation. It is designed to make a person feel worthless and thus malleable. But because they feel so similar, it can be hard to tell the difference. Am I being selfish or taking care of my own needs? It helps to be objective like the King of Cups, taking myself out of the picture and imagining another person in the same situation. Detach in order to discern.

Monday, December 22, 2014

From Busyness to Stillness

From the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the Lovers; from the Steps to Serenity, "Guidance:"
          My initial reaction to seeing this particular Lovers card was "ick." It looks like the cover of some trashy romance novel or a commercial for a soap opera, not anything real. Usually when I have such a strong reaction, there's more to what's going on than the obvious. Now that I've noticed the snake and apple below the couple, I'm convinced its because of the limited choices I feel are available to me for being with the people I care about. This time of year there are a lot of obligations, some enjoyable and some not so enjoyable. Add to that the health issues all of my family have dealing with, and I feel as if spending time with those whose company I most desire is almost a lost cause. But giving up is a choice too...
          In the 12 Step text of AA, there is a part that comes after the steps called "The Promises." One of these statements is: "We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us." That guidance is going to require some quietness and stillness on my part. In this place of openness, I may find I have more options than I think.
In the busyness of this day
grant me a stillness of seeing.
In the conflicting voices of my heart
grant me a calmness of hearing.
~ J. Philip Newell

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Paddle Faster?

From the Legacy of the Divine, the Three of Wands; from the Steps to Serenity, "In the Moment:"
          I do feel as if my ship has come in. Last night I got six hours of solid sleep without waking up in pain, using only Yogi herbal tea. I've been to see the doctor twice now and have been following all his instructions (though I am getting stir-crazy), and this morning I feel like I have finally turned a corner. But like the Three of Wands, though things appear good, this is just the initial results. I probably don't need to jump in and do all those activities that were left unfinished just yet. Instead, I can just enjoy feeling more like my old self again.
          For those of you who know me well, you know what a planner I am and how much I like organization. So even though my body has been forced to be still, my mind has been racing. Unfortunately, the problem with structured planning is that it often leads to expectations that may or may not be fulfilled. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever had anything turn out exactly like I planned it. Which then makes me want to paddle that boat even harder and faster. But what I really need to do is slow down and take a deep breath. Being too much in my head instead of attending to my body is what got me in this mess. There's plenty in this moment to appreciate and enjoy; no need to run off to the future quite yet.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

One of the "Nones"

This week I'll be using the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, created and self-published by Ciro Marchetti (with a mass market edition published by Llewellyn). I'll also be using Steps to Serenity, a deck I made for myself that is based around the principles of the 12 Step program. Today's draws are Faith (Hierophant) and "Prayer:"
          In Marchetti's image of Faith, members of the four major religions stand in front of a column of light. The column implies that there is a similar thread that runs through all religions and philosophies if you dig past the rituals and dogma. I am reminded by this card of the long journey I've traveled to find the "right" faith. What I discovered instead is that none of them are a good fit for me. I am one of the "Nones" - a group which considers itself spiritual but not religious. Without a religious label, I can follow moral principles without dogma; I can believe in Something greater than myself without having to use a prepackaged definition. Though I no longer believe any religion is the one true religion, I do think there are some messages of truth to be found in each one. And I can use practices and tools from these various belief systems to keep me spiritually grounded in the every day world. I also find it necessary to associate with like-minded individuals who can keep me from rationalizing and glossing over my self-centered actions.
          Prayer is a bit of a buggerboo for me. I don't believe in a deity that interferes in an individual person's life, at least not on the physical plane. I do however feel that I can receive guidance, strength and peace from Something greater than me. I "pray" using tonglen meditation and loving-kindness meditation, and I ask for those who I know are suffering to be blessed. This type of "prayer" lets others know they are not alone, reminds me of a kindness I might do for them and helps me remember that I'm not the only one who suffers in this world.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Triage for the Heart

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Ace of Cups; from the Beasts of Albion, "Hare:"
          The Ace of Cups represents an offering of deep joy, love, devotion and compassion. But it is a gift I must be willing to use, to take the time to sip from it. Above all, I must not let others drink as much as they'd like from my cup if I'm parched myself. Sound selfish? There's a saying in 12 Step groups: First Things First. Before I help others, I need to take care of myself - do what will enable me to survive and thrive. This is my responsibility, not the duty of someone else; I must attend to my own emotional and spiritual needs. There's no way I can be of benefit to others if I'm running on empty.  
          Because of its natural habit of being able to reproduce at astonishing numbers, the hare has often been seen as a symbol of fecundity and abundance. Gray also brings up the saying "Mad as a March hare," and likens it to wild inspiration that rises like sap. But for it to be expressed in a useful way, this fertility must have some boundaries. There needs to be some kind of support that will sustain what is produced. A starving animal will not be able to care for its young, and they too will die. Don't think of it as selfishness, think of it as triage for the heart and soul. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Spark or Fuel?

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Knight of Wands; from the Beasts of Albion, the "Cow:"
          These two card draws seem very opposite to me; the characters in them are even facing opposite directions (except the calf). The Knight of Wands is full of stimulating conversation, innovative ideas and fiery enthusiasm. But he's not always your best bet to manifest those concepts into concrete designs; he's more like the match that lights the fire. The Cow, however, is the nurturer and sustainer. Creating and raising what the Knight inspired will be up to her. At times I have been in the Knight's saddle, poking others with my wand of inspiration. Yet I have friends who have fired me up about a creative project then encouraged me to run with it. I'm not sure if I'll need a saddle or a milking stool today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Life Well Lived

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the King of Wands; from the Beasts of Albion, the "Squirrel:"
           His queen is fond of saying "follow your passion," but the King of Wands would tell you to achieve it as well. Some people might get lost in the forest along the way, but this King will climb a tree and make sure he's heading in the right direction. Unlike his son the knight, he won't start then stop something because it's lost its allure. He believes a life well lived means seeing things through, no matter how many challenges you might face. "Dream," he tells me, "then get off your bum and make it real."
          In Norse mythology, a squirrel (Ratatosk) ran the gauntlet of the World Tree, carrying messages to the eagle in the top branches and the serpent at its roots. Squirrel teaches the importance of communication, balancing the different levels of one's life and resourcefulness. Sitting still and expecting someone else to handle everything won't work; I need to be involved and put forth an effort. Otherwise, the "I" will be taken out of passion, leaving only "pass on."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Healing and Humor

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the King of Pentacles; from the Beasts of Albion deck, the "Fox:"
          This king sits under an apple tree (suggesting health), holding a coin (implying financial stability) while in the middle of a field with red poppy-like flowers (indicating comfort). I am reminded by this card how much more is represented by wealth than just dollars and cents. I am hoping his appearance means I'll be given some direction on how to care for my back and nerve pain. I've never experienced chronic pain like this before, and it has made me feel a great deal of compassion for those who do.
          When I saw the card with Fox, I was curious about the mirror in which he seems to be peering. In her companion book Gray writes, "By meeting your own reflection, Fox teaches you the ability to laugh at yourself and your mistakes, and to view life with humor and appreciation." Pain and stress contract my my muscles and my mind. Humor helps me relax and find a brief respite. Larry P. Aitken (Chippewa) once wrote, " the Old Ones say that one of the greatest healing powers in our life is the ability to laugh." I tend to agree with that wisdom.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some Things Money Can't Buy

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles; from the Beasts of Albion, the "Horse:"
          A woman is seen standing in her fields of grain while her assistant tallies the sheaves. I'm sure her hawk companion will help protect the harvest from mice and other animals. I've always thought of the woman in this card as independent and self-sufficient, but the companion book adds another descriptor - prudent. My initial reaction to this word was to think of someone who was an old-fashioned fusspot, not a well-rounded, worldly woman. I ran across a definition by Bill Wilson that described it a bit differently: "Prudence is rational concern without worry." In other words, this lady is watchful, diligent and careful. But even within those boundaries, she still knows how to enjoy herself.
          For hundreds of years, the horse has been used for power and transportation. In more modern times, it has also been seen as a companion. Gray suggests this animal represents the strength of friendship and the willingness to help carry another person's burden. The Nine of Pentacles woman seems to have it all, but what about companionship? I bet she'd trade half of that field for a faithful, trustworthy friend. As the MasterCard commercial states, there are some things money can't buy.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Watch for High Tides

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Queen of Cups; from the Beasts of Albion, the "Brock (Badger):"
           The Queen of Cups could be described as imaginative, intuitive and compassionate. But what I notice about this pen and watercolor image is the water level. Waves swirl around her feet but do not cover her heart or head. Even in this realm, there need to be boundaries. Otherwise, her imagination that might be expressed in the arts might end up as crazed scribbling on a bedroom wall. Her intuition could turn into paranoia, where everyone is a potential enemy and every situation a conspiracy. Her compassion might become codependency, as she begins to think her happiness depends on making everyone else happy. Don't let the tide catch you off guard, Queen.
          Badger has gotten a bad name he doesn't deserve. This fellow is steady-going and home-loving; he only turns into a furry Hulk when his peace, security or family are threatened. His motto is "live and let live" - unless you cross those boundaries. His fierce strength and power make him an admirable defender, yet those same qualities make him tenacious when he meets an obstacle or challenge. I'm sure he'll be on the lookout for anyone trying to flood his burrow with emotional drama.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Honk, Who Goes There?

This week I'll be using the Llewellyn Tarot, a book and deck set created by Anna-Marie Ferguson and published by Llewellyn. The oracle deck I'll be using is the Beasts of Albion, a deck and book set created by Miranda Gray and published by Aquarian. Today's draws are the Four of Cups and "Goose:"
          What's up with this young woman? Perhaps:
a) Christmas festivities are over (and she just got her Mastercard bill).
b) She just finished a well-received, creative project (and doesn't know what to do with herself).
c) She's been traveling and visiting beautiful, fascinating places (and now she's home again).
Robert Palmer sang about being addicted to love; I think most of us are addicted to that adrenaline rush of pleasure and pure joy. When the horse we've been galloping on is put back in the barn, we feel discontent and at a loss. But our emotional self can't take such constant stress (even if it's good stress); we need down time. This "in between" place is where I can rest and renew my spirit until I saddle up again.
          The Goose was used in Roman times as an alarm system. Where I live, the Canada geese (especially during mating season) are amazing, sharp-eyed guards, often honking a warning long before I've even spotted them. And don't even think about going near one of their nests or goslings! The Goose reminds me this quiet time is not punishment. It is sacred and something I need to protect. It can offer me an opportunity to tap back into my spiritual well and drink deeply, getting the sustenance I need.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Practice What You Preach

From the Ancient Tarot of Lombardy, the Hanged Man; from the Lenormand de Marseilles, the "Mountain:"
       By comparing this version of the Hanged Man to one from the RWS, it's easy to see that each tradition interprets them differently. In the Lombardy card, there's no golden halo around his head, and he's only dressed in his skivvies. Bursten explains that in earlier times, when authorities couldn't catch a criminal, they would hire an artist to draw a "shame picture" of him hanging from one foot. Much like the "Wanted" posters found in the post offices, it was a way to publicly disgrace the offender. So in the Marseille and Italian decks, this card is associated with humiliation, a meaning I connected to instantly. Wednesday I pulled muscles in my back wrestling with a large, heavy box of cat litter. Here's the meditation teacher (who's always encouraging other people to be mindful) who was in such a hurry that she didn't pay attention to bending her knees and lifting carefully. Tonight I'm supposed to guide the meditation meeting, and I'll have to confess why I can't sit for longer than ten to fifteen minutes at a time. This upside down fellow would tell me, "Practice what you preach, sister."
       The Mountain is associated with delay, obstacles and challenges. I can easily see this in my forced, slow movement, restriction of movement and pain. Interesting how one mindless action can have an abundance of unexpected results. And the Eight of Staves associated with this card show just how quickly these consequences can come about. I wonder if you can hold an ice pack on your back while hanging upside down?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Just a Shadow

From both the Ancient Tarot of Lombardy and the Lenormand de Marseille, I get a double dose of the Moon:
       In his booklet, Lee Bursten writes of the progression of the cards from the Star, to the Moon, then the Sun. With the Star, we are in a confused and exhausted state, but we find hope and guidance. But before we find our joy and vitality again (Sun), we must pass through the Moon. Here there is something hidden in the unconscious with a deep emotional weight that must be brought into consciousness. Fear might try to push it back under the water, but only by taking an objective look will I begin to find clarity. The Lenormand Moon is slightly different than the one found in tarot. One possible meaning for it is a romantic fantasy. Tied with the Eight of Cups on the card, I see that I must keep moving and searching if I want to find the truth. What appears now is only a shadow of reality.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Stones in the Stomach

From the Ancient Tarot of Lombardy, the Devil; from the Lenormand de Marseilles, the "Letter:"
       Images of the Devil always seem to depict nonhuman traits in order to portray an animal nature and physical appetites. Every hero in legend or mythology has had to face this tempter - Buddha had Mara to contend with and Jesus had Satan. Yet this being is not an outside force, but one working within. The Devil wants fun and pleasure (nothing wrong with that), but this part of myself can push me to extremes, causing harm to others or myself. For instance, I might learn someone's secret and because of some past slight, I relish making it public. But in the end, it will ultimately hurt me; no one will trust a person who can't keep private confidential information. That first delicious sensation will eventually turn into a heavy stone I must carry.
       The Letter often refers to written communication, a document or results of some sort. There is information - perhaps someone's opinion - that I'll receive. The Devil into today's draw suggests I could react in a way that is less than beneficial. I could cover my head and hide, or I could go into attack mode (taking on the traits of prey or predator). Or I could take the harder path of patience and tolerance as I attempt to see things from  a broader perspective. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

None Listening But Me

From the Ancient Tarot of Lombardy, the Ten of Swords; from the Lenormand de Marseilles, the "Coffin:"
       Lee Bursten gives the keyword "defending" to the Swords suit and assigns "enough already" to the number ten. Have you ever caught yourself arguing your stance or choice inside your head? I'll find myself listing all the reasons why I believe my point of view is right, and why I am correct in my judgment of a person or situation. But if I really believed in my ideas, I'd probably be discussing them with someone who could share a realistic perspective (one that I doubt would back mine up). Enough already indeed.
       As if the Ten of Swords weren't crystal clear, the Coffin comes along to underscore the message. Don't just let those ideas and beliefs go; put them in a box, nail the lid down, and bury it six feet under. What is interesting though is the Nine of Pentacles (Diamonds) associated with it - a card that makes me think of freedom and independence. By getting unstuck from those thoughts, I will allow a beneficial transformation to occur.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Watch Your Step

From the Ancient Tarot of Lombardy, the Hermit; from the Lenormand de Marseilles, the "Ring:"
       Bursten writes that hermits - those who lead a solitary, spiritual life - were quite common in Renaissance Europe. Paintings of St. Anthony the Great (father of monasticism) often showed him holding a bell to ward off temptation, and Bursten suggests the lamp might have evolved from it. Portraits of philosophers frequently had them carrying a light as a symbol of a search for virtue. At this stage in my life, I see the need for spiritual self-inventory. I search for character defects but also virtues, for what I need to change and what I should continue doing. And what is my biggest temptation? Rationalizing or turning a blind eye to dishonorable behavior instead of owning it.
       The Ring can represent an obligation, commitment or an alliance. It makes me think of Christian nuns who wear a simple, silver ring after taking their final vows to the Church. Sometimes obligations and commitments can feel heavy and burdensome, whether spiritual or earthly. But generally there is a reason I made that promise to myself or another. In the case of the Hermit, I know examining my actions and thoughts can prevent me from wandering too far off my path, and it can also be beneficial in producing a more joyful, peaceful life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ready, Set, Grow

From the Ancient Tarot of Lombardy, the Ace of Batons; from the Lenormand de Marseilles, the "Child:"
       Bursten gives Staves/Batons the keyword "Creating" and Aces the phrase "There's a first time for everything." For me, there's a big difference between having an idea and being inspired. With an idea, I can sit comfortably on my couch and play around in my mind with it. Inspiration tends to poke and prod, wanting to motivate and get me moving. Those green leaves on that hefty hunk of wood tell me something is about to start growing, so I better strap on my safety belt.
       The Child can represent a student, simplicity or the early stages of something. In the Lenormand de Marseilles, this card is paired with the Knight of Swords. Here is where the passion becomes more than just a restlessness to do something.The knight uses his intellect to help shape my inspiration (possibly through study and research) so it can become form. The Child appears to hold a sapling, suggesting that knowledge will help it grow. Looks like I'm going to need a notebook and pen today as well.