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

Monday, March 31, 2014

An Auspicious Sign?

From the Deirdre of Sorrows Tarot, the Ten of Cups:
Three generations of a family sit down to a picnic-style meal outdoors. Before they eat, the husband plants an herb, almost as if he makes an offering to the earth for the food they are about to consume. I am happy this card showed up today, as we are going to a meeting about the assisted care facility where my mother-in-law lives. We have heard the owners are filing bankruptcy, and unfortunately many of the seniors there (like my MIL) have purchased their units. Of course they are all frightened about what is to become of their homes. My hope is that a company with morals and ethics will buy the place and turn it into the haven it was originally supposed to be. May this card be an auspicious sign of what is to come.

From the Victorian Flower Oracle this morning was chosen "Flax:"
Until cotton arrived on the scene, flax was the top choice for making linen. It is still used, though its use is more often thought of as a nutritional supplement or wood varnish today. The keywords "skills" and "crafts" the authors assign this plant make sense to me. But what do they have to do with the meeting today? When I am not personally in the middle of drama or chaos, I am capable of being a peacemaker and beacon of calmness. Looks like I better go do some meditation before it hits the fan...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's Not What You Think

From the Deirdre of Sorrows Tarot, the Moon:
When I use decks that have companion books, I tend to look closely at the card image and come up with my ideas first before checking to see what the author wrote. So my checklist with this one looked something like: "a wolf and a dog, a woman with stars in her hands, setting in a desert-like landscape, and a crawfish coming out of a pool." The book states that both the canines are wolves, the setting is actually on the moon, and the woman is a personification of the moon blocking the crawfish from climbing out. Of course I had to laugh, because the traditional meaning of the card is often confusion and uncertainty because of a lack of clarity. So instead of making fast and hard judgments today, perhaps I should just make tentative ones until the fog clears.

From the Victorian Flower Oracle was drawn "Daisy:"
Daisy is shown with all her flower children, so it's easy to see how the creators associated this plant with family matters. I'll be calling my mother to wish her "Happy Birthday" in a few minutes, and in a few hours I'll be visiting my mother-in-law. These women are both kind and loving, but one always sees the glass half-full, and the other sees it as half-empty (with a crack in the glass). My mom is the kind of person who may not tell me the full story because she doesn't want to worry me. My mother-in-law (in the early stages of dementia) worries about things that aren't even real. With the Moon card above, I'm going to have to finely tune my antennae and ask lots of questions today.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Proceed to the Next Phase

This week I'll be using the Deirdre of Sorrows Tarot, created and self-published by Deirdre O'Donoghue. Today's draw is the World:
I occasionally have vivid images that flash through my head when I choose a card, and with this morning's card choice, I thought of a drive-through car wash. I bring my dirty car, pay a fee and begin the process. Water jets, streams of suds and huge rolling brushes assault my car. Eventually the activity stops, and high-powered air vents blow off the water, giving me a clearer vision. Then a green light comes on telling me to proceed with caution out of the car wash. The sign doesn't mean to just go park my car now that it's clean; it's time to move on with the tasks of living. Though I may have completed a spiritual hurdle, I must take my new-found clarity and understanding into the next phase. Resting on my laurels is not an option.

The second deck I'll be using is the Victorian Flower Oracle, published by Magic Realist Press. Its creators are Alex Ukolov and Karen Mahony. This morning's card is "Peach Flower:"
Poor little Peach Flower shivering in the cold, I understand how you feel (I think it's freezing when the temperature drops below 70F). Years ago, if I had drawn a card with the key phrase of "hard times," I would automatically assume my world was going to cave in or the sky was about to fall. Now I see it as a challenge that is going to require a sacrifice on my part - in other words I'm going to have to get off my bum and do some work instead of whimpering while wrapped tightly in my blanket.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cutting with Care

From the Fairytale Tarot, the King of Swords:
The King of Swords (here portrayed by a Maiden Tsar) can seem cold as ice; judgments are objective and justice is meted out swiftly and without emotion. People are tested to see if what they say matches what they do. But don't we all need this ability at some time or another? Deciding and doing what's right is not always easy, and seeing without prejudice or favoritism is hard for most humans. Time to sharpen the sword and cut away those tangled vines and brush blocking the view.

From the Tree Affirmation Cards comes "Yew Trees:"
In Somerset, England at the Glastonbury Tor are two yew trees on either side of the "red" spring. The water has a reddish hue because the iron oxide deposits it contains. Like alchemy that transforms one substance into another (like the iron in the water), we can transform our thoughts and behavior by what we add to them. The King of Swords would suggest I forego the pull of emotions and stick with pure logic and reason.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Come Together

From the Fairytale Tarot, the Knight of Swords:
Bluebeard wanted a wife, but because of his strange appearance (and the fact that his previous wives kept disappearing) he had none. He gave a party, and his hospitality and wealth was enough to convince one young girl to marry him. Later, he left on business and told her that she could have access to all the rooms in the castle but one. But just to tempt her, he left his new wife with the key to the off-limits room. Of course the young woman's curiosity made her open the door; she found the dead bodies of his previous wives. Bluebeard returned and was about to use his sword on her, when she was rescued by her brothers. The Knight of Swords is an intellectual marvel, yet his gift can be used to help or harm. In Bluebeard's case, he used it to bait someone, then attacked when she was caught in his trap. Words can slice and dice as easily as the sharpest sword. If I'm not tempted to argue or match wits with such a bully, I don't have to worry about the stitches I may need later.

From the Tree Affirmation Cards comes the card "Maritime Pines:"
I discover the power of a common purpose.
Years ago, I went camping on Cumberland Island and was impressed by the twisted trees shaped by their environment. Lewis explains how groups of pines on the coast help provide shelter for each other against the constant battering from the salty, sea breezes. There is no doubt that that there is strength in numbers, and joining with other like-minded individuals can help in when it comes to standing up to bullies. It serves not only to give us confidence but to secure our freedom.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Elves and Elderflowers

From the Fairytale Tarot, the Eight of Coins:
A poor shoemaker, down to his last piece of leather, wakes up the next morning to find one of the most beautiful pair of shoes he's ever seen. With the money he makes from them, he's able to buy more leather. Each morning, he finds well-made shoes waiting to be sold. The shoemaker and his wife finally stay up one night and see elves doing the work. Wanting to thank them for their help, the wife sews little clothes for them as a gift (and in elf-lore, releases them from their obligation of help). When I am trying to learn or accomplish something, I have times when I think, "I just can't do this." Yet if the willingness to make the effort remains, I can manage to keep plugging along by relying on the inspiration and expertise of others.

From the Tree Affirmation Cards was drawn "Elderflower:"
My attention is captivated and enchanted.
Have you ever been enjoying something so much, you completely lose track of time and your surroundings? I often do this outside in the yard as I pause and watch the bumblebees or birds. Such an intense focus is required in the Eight of Coins to develop and hone one's craft. There are so many distractions, it's easy to get off track. But I must carve out time to devote to my goal if I'm ever to reach it. My goal for today is to finish gathering items for my mom's birthday present. At 78 she doesn't much care for "dust-arounds," she's only interested in things she can actually use. As a result, her gifts can sometimes be hilariously mundane. (So far in her box I've got a 4-deck card shuffler, lithium batteries, Goop, and a music cd.) I've still got one more idea I'm working on though...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Trillion Odors

From the Fairytale Tarot, the Five of Wands:
The tale of Kintaro tells of a young boy with unusual strength and the ability to talk with animals. His power was discovered by a general as the boy and his animal friends playfully wrestled in the forest. The leader offered Kintaro a chance to become a samurai warrior, which he gladly accepted and eventually became a great hero. Normally I would interpret this card as a battle of wills, with each person promoting why something should be done their way. But with the monkey in the foreground, I couldn't help thinking of the term "monkey mind" - a Buddhist phrase for a restless, indecisive mind. It will be my own mind jousting within itself today, as I try to choose the best course of action.

From the Tree Affirmations deck comes the "Wild Quince:"
I am in tune with the subtle fragrances of life.
The oily skin of a quince fruit exudes a delightful, fresh apple smell. I read the other day that humans have 400 types of scent receptors and can detect at least one trillion odors. Mind boggling isn't it? Yet as spring arrives here, the subtle but lovely scent of tea olives can stop me in my tracks. Though this shrub and its flowers are quite ordinary in appearance, the understated fragrance it releases in fall and spring make it stand out from all the other plants. As I try to make a decision today, I will notice which choice is superior not for its overpowering boldness but for its soft distinction.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just Show Up

From the Fairytale Tarot, the Nine of Cups:
The youngest son of a miller receives as his inheritance a cat, Puss in Boots. Puss directs the young man to find him a pair of boots and a bag, which he does. As the story proceeds, the cat impresses the king, but also directs the miller's son to do certain things and to show up in specified places. The story ends with the young man living in a castle and married to the king's daughter. I'm sure he never dreamed the gift of a cat would bring him so much happiness. The pebble in my shoe with this tale is that the cat was the one who did all the hard work, while the son just showed up to enjoy it.

From the Tree Affirmations Cards comes the "Horse Chestnut:"
I find the magic in ordinary things and in the present moment.
Because of the unique beauty of this tree no matter what the season, Lewis assigns it the keyword "magic." In tying this card to the Nine of Cups above, I have to admit that there have been "perfect days" when I felt happy and content - and all I did was show up for them. Sure, the magic isn't going to last forever, but that's not the point. The lesson is to be present and fully enjoy the day without worrying about how long the feeling will last (because that's a sure way to end it before it even begins).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lessons Learned

From the Fairytale Tarot, the Page of Swords:
The Russian fairytale associated with this card includes a falcon/prince, jealous sisters, a misunderstanding and a journey to make amends. All Pages are in the learning stage, and the education of the Page of Swords includes logic and reason, truthful communication, and a tenacity for justice. The delicious secret of the young daughter's nightly meetings with the prince sets into motion the actions of her curious sisters who resent being left out of the loop. Had she only been honest with them, she might never have had to go through the trials she endured. Yet I would guess most of us have learned our greatest lessons from the mistakes we've made. And so today, I will take a cue from this Page to clear up any fuzzy communications or mistaken ideas that I might knowingly or unknowingly have created.

From the Tree Affirmations Cards comes the "Winter Maple:"
I have the time I need to reflect.
The bare branches of a maple in winter encourage me to slow down and take an objective look at myself. Lewis asks what I notice about my mind and thoughts when I take the time to pause. Her question made me think of the term kleshas introduced by Pema Chodron in her book No Time to Lose. Chodron defines a klesha as a strong emotion that causes us to act or speak in unintelligent ways and leads to our suffering. I was barely out of bed this morning when I bumped into one while reading through posts on a forum. One fellow there (who is obviously very intelligent) makes posts that I find condescending and arrogant, and my initial (mental) reaction was "What an asshole!" The lesson is in learning to recognize these emotional thoughts for what they are instead of aggressively expressing or guiltily repressing them.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Growl with Claws Retracted

This week I'll be using the Fairytale Tarot, a deck and book set published by Magic Realist Press and created by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov. Today's draw is the Queen of Wands:
Since both the RWS and the Thoth decks include a cat in their depictions of this queen, it seems natural that the Fairytale deck uses a story about a cat. Kit, the feline, saves a princess from certain death at the hands of a troll. When they both return safely home, the cat turns into a princess herself. For me, the cat represents the passion within the princess; it urges her to fight for her life and for what she loves. I think all of us have this burning ember within us, and I am advised to fan it into a flame to protect and nurture what is important to me.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Tree Affirmation Cards created and self-published by Victoria Sofia Lewis. This morning's draw is the "Pendiculate Oak:"
I face my difficulties with courage and open my heart to compassion.
I don't know about you, but when I am facing a battle or challenge, I find it quite hard to be compassionate to the other party involved. As an example: the other evening I found a group of parents from the ball park standing in my yard smoking (which they don't allow at the ball park). I asked them not to smoke in my yard, and one of the women glared and said, "Where do you want us to smoke? Out in the street?" I told her that would be great. Had I been in possession of a high-powered fire hose, I would have turned it on all of them, sending them into the next county if possible. When I have such thoughts, I try to remember a quote by Ram Dass, “We're all just walking each other home.” Some of us are a little more lost as we wander on our journeys, and while I don't need to let anyone leave tread marks on my face, a little compassion added to my passion can go a long way.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Smelling Socks, Eating Artichokes

From the Ferret Tarot, the Seven of Pentacles:
Do you remember those boxes of Whitman's Sampler of Assorted Chocolates? My grandparents used to get them from people who didn't know what else to give them for anniversaries or holidays. As a child, I would sneak a few bites, trying to figure out which ones had caramel (which I would eat) and putting the cremes and cordials back in the box (with a bite out of one side). That's what I imagine these ferrets are doing, except they've raided the dirty laundry for socks. Is it smelly? Is it soft and stretchy? If so, then into the hidden cache it goes. I am encouraged by this card to do some sorting of my own.

From the Nature's Wisdom deck was drawn "Artichoke:"
I have to be honest - I have never eaten an artichoke and have no idea how to prepare one. From what I've read online, you cut the thorny tips off the leaves then boil or steam the head. Each leafy "petal" is pulled through the teeth to remove the pulpy inside (what is edible). For all that work, I'm guessing that the taste must be worth it. The Artichoke card advocates not discarding something because it requires extra effort; the end product may be worth all that work and more.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Security, But Not Necessarily Happiness

From the Ferret Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles:
Many of my close women friends are single, either because of divorce or the death of their husbands. Though they don't sit around counting stacks of bills like this ferret, they manage their money well. These friends don't live extravagantly, yet they do make sure they have some fun, whether through beach trips with buddies, symphony excursions, or a new piece of artwork every now and then. I am reminded by this card that simplicity is not asceticism, and treats seem all the more pleasurable when not indulged in on a constant basis.

From Nature's Wisdom comes the "Mushroom:"
The volva (cup-like structure) at the bottom of these mushrooms make me think they are in the Amanita genus. This group contains some of the most toxic mushrooms in the world, with common names like "Death Cap" or "Destroying Angel." Some of them look very similar to edible mushrooms, and wild mushroom gatherers are constantly warned about their deadly consequences. The "caution" card implies that sometimes the "treats" I allow myself are an attempt to fill a hole in my soul that would be better filled with something else. Money brings security, but not necessarily happiness.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making a List, Checking It Twice

From the Ferret Tarot, the High Priestess:
I really do wish tapping into my intuition and Higher Self was as easy as scrying in a bowl of water. But you see, in my bowl there sits an ego the size of an ocean liner; I have to be patient, quiet and still long enough for it to sail past. Still it's hard to muzzle my ego. It has gotten clever at disguising information - at first glance it appears as hidden wisdom that has come out of hiding. I ran across a post by Steve Pavlina in which he lists four ways to tell the difference between messages from the Higher Self and messages from the ego:
1) False guidance is rooted in fear; true guidance is not concerned with being in control.
2) The ego wants external results; wisdom is happy with internal results.
3) Win-lose is how the ego wants to finish (with it winning of course); Self would like all to benefit.
4) Ego will try to justify itself through logic; the Higher Self is heart-centered.
The next time I think I've uncovered an important bit of guidance and information, I think I'll compare it to this checklist.

From the Nature's Wisdom deck comes the "Scarab Beetle:"
Why in the world would a beetle spend so much time creating a dung ball up to fifty times its weight? The scarab rolls the ball into a burrow, where the female lays her eggs. Newly hatched larvae will use it for food to survive. My ego wants me to create so it will get the praise it thinks it deserves. But my Higher Self would remind me to look at that list above and create from the heart.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Now Hiring

From the Ferret Tarot, the Emperor:
Teacher, manager, judge, administrator, politician, parent... No matter what the position of authority, trying to educate, protect and serve while maintaining some semblance of order is quite a job. Of course if every person was made from the same cookie cutter, you could just use the same template for all of them. But if your position is more than just a perk, you have to flexible enough to work with the needs of each person or group without losing your structural bounds. Hopefully the dad in this card will figure out which baby needs a nap, which one is hungry and which one is bored and wants some playtime.

The Nature's Wisdom deck's draw for today produced the "Lotus:"
Lighthipe assigns the lotus flower the keyword "awakening" for two reasons: first because the plant moves through mud and water to rise into the air, and second because it shows the trait of nyctinasty (closing its petals at night). As a decision maker and boundary marker (Emperor), I must steer clear of distracting information that is not relevant (mud) and the emotional drama (water) that surrounds an issue. I also must know when to "close shop" (nyctinasty) to preserve my sanity and get the rest I need. Whew... what a job.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Harnessing the Herd

From the Ferret Tarot, the Chariot:
I was out with a friend the other day when a man came by walking his cat on a harness. Instead of just staying on the sidewalk, the cat ran hither and thither and jumped on every table or chair or he came across. His curiosity was too great to be contained; I doubt he could be trained to walk like a dog. I've tried these harnesses on my cats, thinking they might like the outdoors. The tomcat immediately ran to the front door and scratched to get back inside. The older female fell over on her side like a stack of books without a bookend and refused to get up. When I see these ferrets, I think of the quip: "I don't know where I'm going, but I'm making damn good time!" The Chariot reminds me that I need an objective to move toward and the discipline to manage my moods and five senses. Otherwise, I might as well get out that harness again and try to walk my felines.

From the Nature's Wisdom deck comes "Sea Turtle:"
Lighthipe states in her companion book that sea turtles travel about 10,000 miles each year, as they move from feeding grounds to nesting areas. No wonder she associates them with endurance with that kind of mileage. Added to the tarot card above, I am encouraged not to give up when I stray off course. There will always be external and internal challenges; my best bet is to tread water when necessary then paddle when the way is clear.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Power without Prudence

From the Ferret Tarot, the Eight of Pentacles:
 This conjuring, little ferret and its panicked parent remind me of the Disney animation "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" in Fantasia. I can just imagine coming home and finding my young grandsons playing with my power tools - I would have the same reaction. They don't have any sense of caution, knowledge or ability to use such tools. I get it though; I have things I would like to be accomplished in too without all the effort. But it takes that four letter word to get there: T-I-M-E. There are things I have to learn, techniques to practice, books to study and teachers to learn from. Still I dream of having a magic wand...

From the Nature's Wisdom deck comes "Feather:"
It seems so strange to imagine that some dinosaurs had feathers. Of course they weren't used for flying, but were likely a tool for thermoregulation, attraction of mates, or camouflage. Yet somewhere along the evolutionary line, feathers also became a tool of flight. Again there is the emphasis of progress being made over a period of time and in stages. Unless I want to end up like Icarus, whose man-made wings failed because he ignored instructions, I might as well settle in for lessons and stop looking for the wizard's hat and wand.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Do or Don't Do

This week I'll be using a self-published deck by Elaine Moertl called the Ferret Tarot. Today's draw is the Devil:
Two beings, one representing good choices and the other representing bad choices, battle over the decision this ferret is trying to make. I don't remember too many Bible verses from my youth, but I do remember one in Romans where Paul is frustrated because the good he knows he should do he doesn't, and the bad he knows he shouldn't do he does. I can relate to this back and forth pull (and the strong, magnetic pull of those bad choices). But if I can pause long enough to check the motive underneath my desire (boredom, stress, resentment, fear, grief), I will find the key that opens a door I will probably regret going through.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is Nature's Wisdom, created by Mindy Lighthipe and published by Schiffer Books. This morning's card is "Bobcat:"
The bobcat, like many large cats in the wild, prefer to be alone except during mating season. For this reason, Lighthipe assigns it the meaning of "solitude." I generally enjoy being alone and actually crave such space if I've been around a lot of people for a length of time. But looking at the Devil card reminds me of a quote I hear a friend say often: "My mind is like a bad neighborhood - I try not to go there alone." I've become very adept at rationalizing whatever I want to do; my mind is so crafty I will begin to think it is the right thing to do. So while solitude is useful, sometimes I need trusted friends who will listen to my ideas and won't be afraid to say, "Woman, have you lost your friggin' mind?!"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Coming to Terms

From the Prairie Tarot, Judgment:
Unlike in the RWS and other similar decks, the only thing rising up out of the ground in this picture are weeds and tombstones. The angel holds her hand out as if giving a blessing, but she doesn't blow her trumpet. Are these people not yet ready for their "aha" moment, for their spiritual awakening? This angel is asking for something I've buried (and tried to ignore) to be dug up, washed off, and looked at with an objective eye. If I can come to terms with it - instead of keeping it wrapped and hidden in shame - then I can give it a proper burial while I am reborn.

From the Medicine Cards today comes "Moose:"
 As the largest member of the deer family who is known for his bugling call, Moose is associated with the medicine of self-esteem. I don't think the Judgment card truly clicked until I drew this one. I'm meeting a long-time friend today that I haven't seen in several months, but I've had a feeling of unease about it. It just dawned on me that I have a tendency to hold up a  yardstick between us, and in my eyes I fall far short. She is adventurous, kind-hearted and beautiful with an illustrious job history and children who are independent and successful. She's always traveling and involved in numerous, exciting activities. But with Moose I have to ask myself, "Surely there is a legitimate reason I have been a part of her circle of friends for all these years."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rattle, Rattle

From the Prairie Tarot, the Two of Coins:
The tarot can certainly have a sense of humor, but let me back up a bit to explain. For the majority of my elementary school years, I lived on a huge farm located far away from any town. My city-bred mother warned us daily about watching out for snakes, as we children traipsed through fields and groves. The most prominent type was the rattlesnake, quite often growing to six feet in length with its steady supply of large rats. However the one plus about the rattler (in comparing it to the copperhead or cottonmouth) was it generally gave a warning when we got too close. So that is what I see here in this card - a red flag waving, telling me to find some balance in the physical sphere of my life. And why? With sunny skies and 80 degree temperatures last Tuesday, I bought dozens of plants to replace those that had died due to the hard winter. Then I decided to clean off the pollen in the screened back porch (a gallon bucket filled by the time I dusted and swept). I scrubbed tables and chairs, repotted plants, and mopped. It was dark by the time I finished, and I was so tired and sore even my hair hurt. My eyes were gritty and my nose felt stuffed with cotton from inhaling so much pollen. I swore I would never push myself like that again. But today, having had yesterday to rest, my mind is already back at Lowes in the plant department. That rattle on this Two of Coins is shaking hard, trying to get my attention.

From the Medicine Cards comes the "Blue Heron:"
We have quite a few great blue herons in our area, and with their wingspan of over five feet, they are impressive. Unlike the snowy egrets that plod along through the ponds looking for fish and frogs, the heron stands perfectly still and waits for food to pass by. I've often walked past, not seeing them standing among reeds, and had the wits scared out of me when they took off in flight. It's not surprising that the authors associate this bird with the medicine of self-reflection. Perhaps today is a better day for being still and looking within than being busy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Trusting the Mystery

From the Prairie Tarot, the Page of Cups:
 This fellow is a sweet, sensitive daydreamer. In addition to these traits, the two salmon leaping out of the river signal another quality of this Page - being a lightning rod for intuition. Intuition is the direct perception of truth independent of any reasoning process. Trusting such an insight can sometimes be a problem for a person like me, who often tries to sift such ideas through a sieve of rational logic. But this cowboy's boots are firmly planted on solid rock, which encourages me to trust that these messages are substantial and important.

The draw from the Medicine Cards this morning produced the "Raven:"
I always think of crows and ravens as sentries who call out alarms from the treetops. Sams and Carson describe Raven's black color as holding "all the energy of the creative source" and being "the road of the spiritual or nonphysical." Its medicine is in learning to relax in mystery instead of trying to intellectually figure things out. Raven's teaching is parallel to the Page's above. Although I may pay attention to my intuitive thoughts, it's quite another thing for me to have the guts to act on them. Yet I suppose that's how I earn my wings...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ego on a Platter

From the Prairie Tarot, the Hanged Man:
In the heat of summer, a young man participates in a Sundance Ceremony. After the preparation of fasting for several days, men have their chests pierced with leather thongs attached to a tall pole. They dance around the pole until the skin breaks open and releases them. Years ago I spoke to a man who had done a piercing, and I expressed my awe at his mental and physical toughness to endure such and ordeal. He replied that it had nothing to do with machismo, and everything to do with sacrifice. The men do it as an offering for the benefit of family and community. It is ego served on a platter as a gift for the greater good.

From the Medicine Cards this morning comes "Mountain Lion:"
Here in the South we have Florida panthers, and I remember seeing two up close years ago. Their massive size and power made me speechless in wonder. It's easy to see why the authors associate this animal with leadership. I have been a leader before (jury foreman, restaurant manager, etc.), and I don't really care for the position. See, it sounds all grand and wonderful, but the reality pretty much sucks. Sams and Carson also agree it is difficult because "it places you in a position to be a target for the problem of others," and "you become the perfect justification of the insecurities of others." At some point I will be called to step into such a position, but as the Hanged Man stresses, it's not about me but those around me.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Setting Posts

From the Prairie Tarot, the Four of Wands:
 In 1867 Lucien B. Smith received a patent for inventing barbed wire, the first type of wire fence to successfully restrain cattle. Cheaper and easier to erect, these fences made animal husbandry affordable and practical on a large scale. The Four of Wands is generally a celebratory card indicating the successful creation of a stable foundation. From this sound beginning, more growth and expansion can come. The four posts - red, yellow, green and blue - suggest that passion, intellect, resources and emotional balance will be required to firmly set my posts. The fence itself implies a need for boundaries, though not to keep everyone and everything out (the hawk and deer could easily cross it), but to remind me to be discerning about with whom I share my projects and goals.

The draw from the Medicine Cards this morning produced "Salmon:"
Salmon are typically born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean then return to fresh water to reproduce. Studies have shown that olfactory memory enables them to return to the exact spot of their birth to spawn. In their book the authors write, "Coming full circle, Salmon medicine people finish what they begin, bringing life's events and cycles to closure." So adding to the "just do it" slogan of the Wands suit above, this fish would add "and finish it too."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Flying Hooves and Egos

From the Prairie Tarot, the Tower:
I've never been unceremoniously bucked off a horse, but I have been on one galloping at top speed when the saddle slipped. Instead of feeling the freedom of riding, I felt the terror that I might be crushed under those flying hooves. Thankfully, he just wanted to go back to the barn (which was close by), so I survived. Yet it was an eye-opener to realize holding the reins had nothing to do with who was actually in charge. The Tower is an occasion when my ego is unseated from its throne, allowing insight to occur. I think I better strap a pillow to my backside today to cushion the fall.

From the Medicine Cards this morning comes the "Turtle:"
The turtle is an interesting reptile, living part of its life in the water and part on land. No wonder the native people of North America saw it as a symbol of Mother Earth. We have pond sliders here, and I've watched them crawl out of the water to dig a hole and lay their eggs. It takes from two to three months for them to incubate, as they use the heat from the sun. Turtle reminds me that my goals must be grounded (realistic) and given time to develop. Trying to forego preparation and hurry things along is likely to result in a hard landing such as shown in the Tower above.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Boots and Bats

This week I'll be using the Prairie Tarot, a deck created and self-published by Robin Ator. Today's draw is the Three of Wands:
In the middle of a building project, a cowboy pauses to look over the progress made so far. I like to do this when I'm doing yard work or halfway through a creative endeavor. Seeing the changes made or the work accomplished makes me feel good about my effort. Of course a problem can arise if I get so much enjoyment from resting on my laurels that I forget that the job isn't completed. I can imagine the crow in the card wondering if the man is real or some type of strange scarecrow. Time to get those boots moving buddy.

The oracle I'll be using is the Medicine Cards, a deck and book set published by St. Martins. Its creators are Jamie Sams and David Carson, and the illustrations are done by Angela Werneke. This morning's card is "Bat:"
Because of its habit of sleeping in caves and other hidden away places during the day, Bat has become associated with the ritual death and rebirth ceremony of healers. One ritual described in the book explained how the healer-to-be was sent out to dig his own grave. He would spend the night alone there with the opening covered by a blanket. Here in the earth the initiate had to confront his own fears. Bat implies that such a symbolic death and rebirth is needed in my life; old patterns are no longer useful for the growth ahead and must be discarded.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Listen to the Music, Watch the Dance

From the Tarot of the Master, the Nine of Wands:
Instead of a battle-worn man who is alert and on the lookout for enemies, this version of the Ten of Wands has a simplified organ. Because it is illustrated with a musical instrument and includes a banner reading "sweet music," I get the feeling that I should not only keep my eyes open but my ears too. I'm sure everyone has experienced a person whose words and actions weren't congruent. Just because their words are sweet doesn't mean they are trustworthy, and I need to be cautious and alert around such people. I can listen to the music, but I need to watch the dance too.

The geomancy figure produced today is "Puer:"
Puer means "boy" and refers to action that is often impulsive and aggressive. With Mars as its ruling planet, it often results in strife and destructiveness. Is there a way to tame this energy? Maybe, but with the tarot card above, I don't believe this is the case. However, I also need to make sure my words are backed up by my actions, or I might be the root cause of this conflict.