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, April 30, 2014

Coping with Confusion

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Moon:
Obviously this is not Edward Lear's version of the "Owl and the Pussycat." I remember reading my daughter Jan Brett's book, but it never hinted at the dark side of these animals like Granny does. I had a restless night due to a storm system moving through our area; it was like trying to sleep in a 100 lane bowling alley with disco lights flashing. My brain feels like it is filled with cobwebs, and I know myself well enough to know that being tired and moody does not translate well to making good judgments or decisions. Like the owl above, I may get worried or paranoid about something that is not even real. Did you know that Lear started (but never got to finish) a poem about the children of the owl and cat?
Our mother was the Pussy-cat, our father was the Owl,
And so we're partly little beasts and partly little fowl,
The brothers of our family have feathers and they hoot,
While all the sisters dress in fur and have long tails to boot.
    We all believe that little mice,
    For food are singularly nice.
Things really did work out for this odd couple, and not in some Stephen Kingish way either. Today is a day for me to avoid any major choices if possible, until I can clear some of those cobwebs.

From the Button Oracle comes the "Sea Star:"
regeneration, renewal, restoration
It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.  ~ Bill Bryson
Sea stars (or starfish) often get snared by fishermen hunting for clams and other mollusks, since these are a part of their diet. The men would often think they killed the sea star by chopping it in two, but if some of the central disk was intact with an arm, it could regenerate. So instead of ridding themselves of the starfish, they only increased their number. The button and Moon card remind me that sometimes I don't have all the information I need to take action, but if I give it some time, I may find I see things in a whole new light. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rethinking Goals

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Five of Swords:
Uh-oh... What happens when you mix self-righteous anger, an outcome viewed as either win or lose, and a refusal to hear the other side of an argument? You get the Five of Swords, which I've often interpreted as a Pyrrhic victory (a fight won at too great a cost). Yes, I might wrap you tightly with intellectual barbed wire, not allowing you to move an inch, and I might declare myself the "winner." But what gets lost in the fray - relationships, a possible cooperative deal, and a solution to a problem - is more costly in the long run. We've got a meeting today with a prospective buyer for the bankrupt senior home where my mother-in-law lives; I'm thinking I might need to find a roll of duct tape before I go.

From the Button Oracle was drawn the "Viking Ship:"
adventure, exploration, quest
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. ~ Helen Keller
The sail of a Viking ship could strike fear in the hearts of medieval Europeans. These sailors boldly explored near and far as looters, traders, colonists and mercenaries. But what would happen if you took that same sort of fearlessness on another type of quest, one that would be a victory for both sides? Perhaps that is the type of adventure I'm to explore as we sail rough, emotional seas at the meeting.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Channel for All that Energy

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Queen of Wands:
She's vivacious, creative and charismatic; she'll wholeheartedly work on any cause or project. She's got enough energy and enthusiasm to encourage an entire group to keep plugging along. But her choice of a pet tells another side to her story. Bull Terriers, though strong-willed, are generally friendly and enjoy being around other people. But they need to be stimulated physically and mentally, or you may come home to find your belongings shredded and in tatters. This queen reminds me I need an outlet, a creative channel if I want to find passion and purpose in my life. Otherwise, there's no telling where my frustration might lead me.

From the Button Oracle was drawn the "Buffalo Nickel:"
gratitude, abundance, contentment
Today expect something good to happen to you no matter what occurred yesterday. Realize the past no longer holds you captive... A simply abundant world awaits.
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
Minted from 1913 to 1938, the buffalo nickel was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser because he wanted to "do something totally American—a coin that could not be mistaken for any other country's coin." It is amazing these animals were almost hunted to extinction, then a few years later they were commemorated on a coin. Sometimes it does take loss to produce gratitude. And while I think it is important to remember such lessons, it's not necessary to be constantly paranoid, "waiting for the other shoe to drop." This morning I woke with three people on my mind, concerned about situations going on in their lives. Much of my worry is based on assumptions created from past experience. The Queen of Wands and Buffalo encourage me to carve out some creative time for myself instead of allowing concerns to overshadow my day. It will give me something to do besides recirculate anxious thoughts, and besides, things may indeed take a turn for the good.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Quilts of Comfort

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Ten of Cups:
I can't imagine a more cozy scene than this one in front of the fireplace. It reminds me that my home feels like this - a safe harbor where I am accepted and loved unconditionally. I have not always had such a welcoming, peaceful cocoon in my life. It makes a huge difference when there is such a place, whether with a family or another group, that gives me such a feeling of secure belonging. With it, I am more willing to step out of my comfort zone and attempt new endeavors or adventures, because I know that it will wrap me in a quilt of comfort and compassion when I return.

The button chosen today from the box is "Reindeer:"
doorway, opportunity, possibility
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. ~ Flora Whittemore
Here in America, most folks associate a reindeer with the animal that pulls Santa's sleigh. However, other cultures see it as a guide to the Otherworld; a Saami shaman might consider it a guardian spirit that could lead the soul through doorways to new worlds. Adding this button to the card above, I feel encouraged to draw emotional support from those people who love me. It is frightening to attempt what has never been tried, to follow a dream or grab an existing opportunity. These folks can shore up my sagging confidence and remind me of my abilities, so I don't quit before I ever begin.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Harmony and Separation

This week I'll be using the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, originally published by Kangaroo Press and created by Granny Jones. Today's draw is the Lovers:
As Granny stands with her partner watching the sunset, it's easy to think of my husband. Yet I know this card is about more than romantic partners; it includes choices I make in aligning myself with other people, groups, causes, interests or careers that I feel an intimate, passionate connection with. This connection is like finding the right key that unlocks a closed door, a door that opens to feelings of harmony and well-being. I led the third meditation class last night, and we had a good-sized group that was a nice mix of ages, genders and races. Riding home with my husband, I did experience those feelings of fulfillment, as if I was doing something I was meant to do that made me feel whole. I imagine it is the same contentment Granny and Mr. Jones share as they watch the sun slip beyond the horizon.

The other divination tool I'll be using this week is a Button Oracle I created, a collection of metal buttons with pictures or designs. This morning's choice is "CSA:"
separation, disconnection, termination
If there was no threat of separation, no death to shake us to our core, we probably wouldn't love much at all. ~ Donna Lynn Hope
In February 1861, the Confederate States of America was formed by eleven Southern states of the U.S. They seceded from the Union in an attempt to preserve slavery, states’ rights, and political liberty for whites. The resulting war lasted four years. It pitted family against family, claimed more than 625,000 lives, and ruined the South economically. I was born exactly one hundred years after the formation of the CSA; I can't imagine going to war against my countrymen and risking such destruction and heartache ever again. So what does this have to do with the tarot card above? I think it is the threat of separation, the realization that my ties and relationships are impermanent, that makes me appreciate and love them even more. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dancing to Exhaustion

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, Strength:
Be wild, and be whole.
This Slavic goddess of the forest is a fierce protector of the animals, plants and streams. She has a deep knowledge of herbs and their uses in medicine. But what also makes this goddess well known is her nonstop, midnight-to-dawn dance that symbolizes the raw energy of nature. Most humans who attempted to join in died of exhaustion. This dance, that wrings people out and pushes them beyond their normal limits, is how I see the love and tolerance advocated by the Strength card. It encourages me to nurture and protect the spark of goodness in others and myself, even when it may be deeply embedded in layers of selfishness and self-centeredness. It requires that I don't hate the person or group, only the negative behavior or attitude they represent. Samovila's dance will give my patience, courage and perseverance quite a workout.

From the Tattwa Cards comes "Ether: Seed of Ether:"
Last spring I spent a lot of time clearing an area of brush and weeds, but already the ground is no longer empty. Nature doesn't tolerate a void; it will refill the empty space as soon as possible. From a spiritual point of view, removing one behavior (intolerance for example) will require me to fill the space with something else. Last night I downloaded an ebook by Norman Fischer titled Training in Compassion. It is a Zen take on the Tibetan practice of using Lojong slogans. Fisher writes, "Compassion literally means embracing the suffering of others... But compassion is impossible if we can't learn to bear our own sufferings and difficulties, if our old habit of denying and running away continues to have its way with us." It seems odd that I need to train for this way of living, but I suppose it is no stranger than working out with weights to improve my physical strength. If I do, perhaps Samovila's dance won't be quite as exhausting.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Can't Buy Me Love

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Ten of Pentacles:
Kin and kind, living and dead, all are part of one another.
For the Igbo people of Nigeria, Ala (whose name literally means 'ground') is the deity of earth, morality, fertility and creativity. She watches over all cycles of physical life: she is there when the crops begin to grow and babies are born, and she is there when someone dies and the field is plowed under after the harvest. When death comes, Ala receives him or her into her womb, known as the 'pocket of Ala.' I love the simple abundance present in this card; it reminds me that even though I'm not even remotely close to the 1% (in 2011, the average income of the top 1 percent of US households was $1,530,773), I am comfortable and have much to be grateful for. Besides, all of us will eventually come to the same end no matter how much we have. The Earth and her rhythms don't play favorites. 

From the Tattwa Cards comes "Water: Seed of Water:"
With water added to more water, I found it interesting that Mumford associates this card with diplomacy: the skill and tact involved in negotiating relationships. What does this have to do with the abundance above? I imagine it is similar to the way all streams and rivers flow into the ocean. We all have a common bond in that life is terminal for everyone, so why should I be jealous of what another has or too attached to what I own? I have to agree with George Horace Lorimer: "It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Compacted Clay

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Witch of Fire (Queen of Wands):
Craft anew with the bones of the old.
Often portrayed as a white sow (a symbol of fecundity and fertility), Cerridwen was associated with rebirth, transformation, and inspiration. She possessed the cauldron of Poetic Inspiration (Awen) in which she brewed a potion to make her not-so-handsome son wise. Unfortunately, the servant boy who was stirring the pot got burned by the boiling brew, and without thinking, stuck his finger into his mouth. The magic entered him, angering the goddess who chased and ate him. She later "rebirthed" him as the famous Welsh poet Taliesin. Cerridwen reminds me that inspiration may take shape in unexpected places and through unexpected people. Though it doesn't look like the original plan I had in mind, it's still useful and beneficial.

From the Tattwa Cards comes "Earth: Seed of Air:"
Having lost most of our topsoil in two floods, it is extremely difficult to grow anything in the compacted clay that was left behind. It is like trying to dig in concrete, so I usually resort to raised beds or pots if I want to plant herbs or flowers. I can see myself in this compacted earth - practical and hard-working but stubborn and resistant to change. I need to occasionally be "aerated," allowing new ideas to reshape my goals when I become stuck. Progress demands that I keep my soil loose enough to plant in so that my aspirations can take root.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Space for Growth

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Fool:
Dare to come back to where you began.
These curious figures have been most often carved on medieval doorways and arches and primarily on churches and monastic buildings. Though the folklore behind the images was not recorded, there have been plenty of theories as to what the Sheelas represented: a protective spirit, a warning against lust, a blessing symbol for fertility or the remains of an ancient pagan goddess. I'm not sure I put much salt into any one theory, but I do believe the vulva represents a type of primordial gate to the unknown. Sheela Na Gig/The Fool encourages me to let go of my expectations and preconceived notions and cross the boundary into the mystery with a receptive mind open to the experience of each moment. The tiny flower buds that surround the figure hold the promise of something wonderful to come.

From the Tattwa Cards comes "Ether: Seed of Earth:"
For any creation, there needs to be space - emptiness - a place where growth can happen. The artist starts with a blank canvas and the writer with a blank page. It seems counter-intuitive that something can develop from nothing. But it is that limitless, boundless freedom that gives rise to an original, physical emergence. Fits perfectly with the Fool's message above.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Gate to Elsewhere

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Seven of Cups:
Drink from the cup. Enter the gate to elsewhere.
For a while now, I've felt restless, discontent and despondent, so it was no surprise to draw this card. These feelings wash over me like dew that condenses on the grass each morning. And just as the sun dries the moisture with its heat, my projects and obligations keep this discomfort at a distance. But here is Maeve, whose name in Irish Gaelic means "she who intoxicates." All her cups on the shelves are the many ways I've kept busy, allowing me to overlook those emotions. I've gotten a brief pleasure from each cup I've sipped, but none have been satisfying for the long run. Maeve encourages me to find a passion that lasts, one that gives my life purpose and fulfills me emotionally. It is my responsibility to find that "gate to elsewhere."

From the Tattwa Cards comes the draw "Air: Seed of Earth:"
Squaring the Circle
The phrase "squaring the circle" came from a problem in geometry which involved constructing a square that is equal in area to a circle. In common speech, it refers to trying to solve a difficult problem - quite appropriate for the challenge Maeve has tossed down at my feet. How do I choose one from all those ideas and fantasies (air) that is actually practical and realistic (earth)? Is there a holy grail for each person? 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fierce and Formidable

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, Destruction (Tower):
All the world changes
This may seem strange, but I actually prefer Kali over a burning, crumbling Tower. I suppose it's because I see her as a protective mother - fierce and intimidating maybe, but with my best interests at heart. This Hindu goddess is the consort of Shiva, and though both are associated with destruction, Shiva represents the big, eternal picture of time while Kali symbolizes the immediate side ("the time has come"). It's hard to have those things I'm attached to yanked suddenly away, because they shore up my ego. But Kali shows me what I think is a firm foundation is really just shifting sand.

From the Tattwa Cards comes "Fire: Seed of Water:"
When I was a child growing up in my grandparent's home, we had floor vents for the central heat and air conditioning. During the winter, my grandmother would fill empty soup cans with water and place them on the vents. She explained that all the heat dried out the air in the house (leading to sinus problems), so the water helped add moisture back to the air. As I see the formidable power of Kali in the tarot card above (fire), it is nice to know there is a seed of healing there too (water). 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Not This or That

This week I'll be using the Dark Goddess Tarot, created by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince and published by Arnell's Art. Today's draw is Alchemy (Temperance):
Fire purifies. Water restores.
According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, the Celtic goddess Brigid has three aspects: (1) Fire of Inspiration as patroness of poetry, (2) Fire of the Hearth, as patroness of healing and fertility, and (3) Fire of the Forge, as patroness of smithcraft and martial arts. She crosses the boundaries of faith and beliefs. Said to have been the foster mother of Jesus, she was declared a saint by Christians. Yet she is beloved by Druids and other pagans for her creative inspiration. Brigid is hard to label as this or that; she mixes nurturing, motherly characteristics with those of a warrior goddess. She reminds me that it is possible to blend fire and water, at least on an internal level.

The oracle I'll be using this week is the Tattwa Cards, based on the teachings of John Mumford. This morning's choice was "Water: Seed of Air:"
During the summer, as the temperature rises drastically, many lakes and ponds here must be aerated to prevent the fish from dying. As water temperatures increase, water loses its capacity to "hold" oxygen. Pumps spray the water through nozzles, allowing it to pick up and redeposit oxygen back into the lake or pond. As a person who loves to learn (air), sometimes I forget to practice what it is I am learning about. Reading every book ever written about love (water) will not make me a compassionate person; I must be a person who carries out acts of kindness.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finding the Center Point

From the Ellis Deck, the King of Swords:
With his missing eye and birds, this King reminds me of the Norse god Odin. According to Ellis, the ghost of the king visits the Knight of Swords and explains to him why a battle based on anger and revenge will never bring peace; it would be the same as going to battle to get back the eye he lost. With such an attitude, it makes sense the King of Swords has his blade in a sheath across his lap. The white and black birds on his shoulders also made me think of the three pillars of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah. Mercy and Severity are the outer pillars, with Equilibrium (the king) being the center pillar. The King of Swords is mature enough to know the difference between a need to protect and defend and the desire to punish to feel vindicated. He reminds me to look for that center point of balance today.

From the Oracle of Shadows and Light come "Strange Valentine:"
The companion booklet states that love doesn't always look like we thought it would. Sometimes it is the severe "tough love" we offer to prevent enabling the unhealthy behavior of other folks. It  may look like merciful love, a time when we overlook words or actions because we know a person is grieving or going through a tough time. My guess is that most of us try to strike a balance between the two; like the king above, we protect and defend, instead of becoming a doormat or wiping our boots on the other person.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Shift into Neutral

From the Ellis Deck, the Four of Swords:
After many battles and deaths (including the king), the queen has told this knight there will be no more blood shed. What does a warrior do when he's told that his services are no longer needed? What will he do with himself now? He chooses not to process all this information at once, and instead decides to "just sleep on it." This is a new choice for him; he's used to responding to a crisis or a emergency instantaneously. A time of rest and recovery will allow old beliefs to fade, leaving a space for new ideas. His control setting has changed from "active" to "receptive," a move that will be much more beneficial than those bloody swords.

From the Oracle of Shadows and Light, the "Eclipse Mermaid:"
The message of this card (a powerful energy shift) makes me think of shifting into high gear, not shutting my engine off. But the booklet describes this mermaid as calm, still and observant. That sounds like meditation to me. So perhaps this message isn't far off from the Four of Swords as I first thought, since they both encourage stillness and detachment.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finding My Own Happy Groove

From the Ellis Deck, the Nine of Cups:
When you're away from human companionship, do you dress the way you want? Do you cook what you you feel like eating or only what you 'should' eat? Are your hours filled only with obligations to complete, or do you manage to enjoy hobbies and other leisure activities? In his online notes, Ellis explains the jubilant man in this card: "In his solitude, he had rediscovered what was still missing." As long as I look to other people for my contentment, I will be sorely disappointed. It's not that I don't enjoy being with family and friends or making new acquaintances - I do. But I need time alone to figure out from where the source of my joy springs, the places and things that bring both peace and inspiration. Without being hampered by expectations and codes of behavior, I'll discover my own happy groove.

From the Oracle of Shadows and Light comes the card "Two Little Witches:"
It's amazing all the "shoulds" people pick up along the way as we grow older. And what a guilt trip we take when we break one of those rules! These two little witches offer me their broom to sweep out all those presumptions, and they adamantly demand that I stop all my people-pleasing. If I'm going to have room in my life for what brings me satisfaction and joy, some of that "should" collection is going to have to go.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Wayshower and a Shiny Sword

From the Ellis Deck, the Three of Rods:
I admit it - I am directionally dysfunctional. I can get turned around in the parking lot of the grocery store. So there are times when I need help, someone to point me in the right direction. This young girl has her plans in action, but has lost sight of the trail. She's found an ally in the fox spirit who will be her wayshower. With the bankruptcy of my mother-in-law's senior residential community, we've become buried in documents and papers filled with legalese. We are relying heavily on others to point out the paths we need to walk in an attempt to secure her investment and home. Lawyers, paralegals and close friends have provided us with information that has been immensely helpful in finding our way through this legal mess.

From the Oracle of Shadows and Light comes the "Fairy of the Highlands:"
When I was young I embraced and enjoyed every fight; as I've grown older, I avoid it if possible. Instead of running toward conflict, I stay back and try not to get involved. But this young fairy tells me there is an appropriate time to pull out that heavy sword - when I need to defend and protect. If I don't speak the truth and put up a strong front, I risk being taken advantage of in this legal battle. One thing I've already learned is there are no stupid questions, only unasked ones. Information and knowledge (the sword) is power.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Full Cups and Candy Canes

From the Ellis Deck, the Ten of Cups:
I am quite emotionally wrung out this morning after being in the middle of a heart-rending situation last night. There's a part of me that wants to climb a mountain and live by myself at the top to avoid swimming in such deep, stormy waters again. Looking at this card, I notice how the two mermaids are connected at their tails, and I realize that to be alone means having no one to share my joys or sorrows with either. Genuine love requires me to face my fear of being the stable rock while the waves crash around me. At some point the person under water may seek a dry spot to catch their breath and get their bearings. The Ten of Cups is a card of compassion and kindness; it is important that everyone has a chance to have a full cup, not just me.

From the Shadows and Light Oracle comes the "Candy Cane Angel:"
I have a hard time spending money on myself. There is an underlying guilt when I allow myself to indulge in even a small pleasure. I constantly ask if I've done enough to earn it, as if living day-to-day wasn't enough. So this angel has shown up to bonk me over the head with her sticky candy cane and remind me that all of us need a treat now and then to boost our spirits. So instead of wondering if I deserve a bit of joy and fun, I'm going to do my best to actively go after it today (as soon as I get the sticky candy out of my hair).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Finding Our Own Truth

From the Ellis Deck, the Hierophant:
I rather like this depiction of the Hierophant, who looks more like an Eastern guru than a Pope. However, his stern expression and that stack of books he sits on tells me he likes doing things according to tradition. In his online notes, Ellis explains the need this card represents: "the rules may seem dull, but if he does not have a container for his fire, it will consume him." On some level I get this; I spent many years after leaving the church on a spiritual quest trying to find a label for myself. I got consumed by all the exciting, new practices I found, but instead of sticking to one, I channel-surfed. While I learned quite a lot, I'm not sure there was much spiritual growth during that time. At some point, I finally realized I needed a daily spiritual practice (not a religion) that would help me grow. Though I am still studying, I have a foundation now that keeps me focused on my goal rather than on entertaining my ego.

From the Shadows and Light Oracle comes "Violet Duchess:"
I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.
~ Rita Mae Brown
When I first saw this card, I misread the title; I thought it said "Violent Duchess." She does look like she's about to implode or explode. This Duchess reminds me of two things. First, I need to leave the lid off the "container" to allow for fresh air. What suits my needs and beliefs now might be a poor fit in ten years. Secondly, what seems perfect for me might be ill-suited for someone else. I have no right to force my experience on someone else. We each are responsible for finding our own Truth.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Small Piles, Big Piles

The new tarot I'll be using this week is the Ellis Deck, created and self-published by Taylor Ellis. Today's card is the Five of Pentacles:
Look closely at the bottom of this image and you'll see a bunch of grasshopper-like bugs. Ellis tells the story of a kingdom that seems to have a never-ending basket of food, until one day massive hordes of locusts consumed all the fields. The people went hungry that winter but did not despair or become angry. They knew Spring would come again, but more importantly, they learned a great lesson about living simply and taking care of the resources they had. My mom, a world traveler, was telling me yesterday how awful the present exchange rate is for the U.S. dollar; you almost have to go to a Third World country not to lose money. Americans are a lot like the folks in this story; I just hope we will wake up and become wiser stewards of what we have left.

I'll be using the Oracle of Shadows and Light this week, created by Lucy Cavendish and illustrated by Jasmine Beckett-Griffith. It is published by Blue Angel. This morning's draw is "Angel de los Muertos:"
Okay, what's the one card you don't want to draw after getting the Five of Pentacles? Uh-huh, the Angel of the Dead. <grin> I have a collection of gemstone skulls in my meditation room, not for morbid reasons but as a reminder. I find it interesting that the word "fast" can be an adjective that means "quick" or a noun that means "a period of abstinence." Most humans are consumed with the first meaning, as we try to gobble up as much of life in as little time as possible. Unfortunately, we rarely appreciate much of it, because we quickly move on to the next new, exciting thing. But what would happen if we chose the second meaning and paused long enough to acknowledge with gratitude what is in front of us? Would we find a wealth that encourages compassion and generosity instead of a bigger pile of stuff?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Be Like Water

From the Buckland Romani Tarot, Kolo (Zero) - the Fool:
Though the boy might be blindly following the bluebird off the cliff, his canine companion looks eager to make the jump. If the dog (his survival instincts) is so enthusiastic, I don't think there are jagged rocks or crocodiles down below. I needed this encouragement to embrace the day ahead with childlike trust. I've got a birthday party (with my mom coming into town) early today and my first beginner's meditation class tonight. As someone who likes order and structure, it's hard to let go of my expectations and worry. I'll think I'll tuck the words of Russell Simmons in my pocket today: "one of my favorite quotes from the Bhagavad-Gita (the main religious scripture of Hinduism), is 'You have control over your work alone, never the fruit.' To me, that means stop worrying about how much success you have (the fruit) and instead just stay focused on your work itself. Because when you embrace the process of your work, instead of focusing on the results, you’ll be much happier and do a much better job."

From the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards comes "Mini - Water:"
I can't think of another element whose meaning and symbolism would agree so well with the Fool above. Water is receptive; it doesn't fight obstacles, it just moves around them. There is no jumping up and down of droplets yelling, "But this isn't how I planned it!" Flow and flexibility are its lessons, reminding me that plans are fine as long as I don't attach an expected outcome to them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Now?

From the Buckland Romani Tarot, the Seven of Bolers (Wheels):
Outside the city wall, a man examines a set of wheels and places them in his flat-cart. The roofs of houses and the smokestacks of factories rise behind him. Is the demand for his skill in wagon-making dying out? Will he find a new source of income by learning a new trade? And if he does, will part of his culture disappear? The image of this card seems to blend the Thoth's idea of unfulfilled success with the RWS's need for reassessment. This guy definitely has talent and knowledge, he just needs to apply it to a new area (which is going to require a flexible and receptive attitude).

From the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards this morning comes "Niyan - Spirit of Man:"
The companion book associates this card with the Higher Self: "I am that in you that speaks of Truth. I am your own Self. I am the navigator through experience." We humans are strange creatures. When we find ourselves in a quandary like the wagon-maker above, we want other people to tell us what to do, to give us the solution to our problems. Of course when we get what we ask for, we generally ignore the information. I think it may be because deep down within us, there are answers that would bring us wholeness and joy. Unfortunately, that kind of guidance often requires courage, perseverance and discipline - three things the ego would rather do without.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Loving Wastefully

From the Buckland Romani Tarot, Desh-ta-Dui (Twelve) or the Hanged Man:
Being an animal lover, this particular card is a bit of a gut-punch, because I know this rabbit is going to wind up in someone's stew. Yet sacrifice is an important part of the Hanged Man's meaning. It may mean finding your life suspended in some way, but also that you give up something for the greater good rather than for ego strokes. Former Episcopal Bishop John Spong has a phrase he uses often - "loving wastefully." It means that you don't pedantically measure out the compassion you share (hoping to get something in return), but you let it overflow the cup offered. Lately my life does feel a bit suspended, because there are people who need my care and support (and no, not in a codependent sort of way).  If I can indeed love them "wastefully," I think a deeper spring will keep my own cup filled too.

From the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards comes "Luta - The North:"
The North is associated with winter and old age, and thus represents peace, wisdom and both beginnings and endings. I read a quote by Rabindranath Tagore this morning that seems appropriate to both of the cards drawn today: "Nirvana is not the blowing out of a candle. It is the extinguishing of the flame because day is come." Sacrificing my desires to help another doesn't mean I wind up with nothing, but the complete opposite. I end up with more than my heart and mind can even imagine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It Sounded Much Easier in My Head

From the Buckland Romani, the Two of Bolers (Wheels):
I'm really not surprised this hunky fellow showed up today. I've got a lot of obligations on my to-do list this week, and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. The color of his wheels make me think of balancing activity (yellow) and rest (blue). He manages to keep the rope taut between the two, neither letting the rope go too slack or pulling so tight it breaks. The differing heights of the wheels remind me of the importance of setting priorities and doing one thing at time until it is done. Maybe I do have what I need to get through this week, if I'll take a few breaks and concentrate on the first number on my list instead of all of them at once.

From the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards comes "Kanka - Old Woman Sorceress:"
This wise sorceress is a transformer, and her lesson is "all visions have something for you to know." Yet she also winks and adds, "Know that I am fond of tricks." Geez louise, I've drawn a trickster. So what could her message be for me? Probably that I volunteered for half the stuff on my plate this week (with ideas of being "helpful" and "exciting" floating in my brain). But she would also remind me that I need some tension and stress in my life to push me out of my comfy chair (and out of my rut).

Monday, April 7, 2014

Here Comes the Sun

From the Buckland Romani Tarot, the Eight of Koros (Cups):
This image makes me want to run after the wagon shouting, "Wait! You've left all your nice cups!" - which might explain why I'm so attached to the cups of my emotional history. I might not remember the name of my high school principal (unless he was a real wanker), but I bet I could make a detailed timeline of the who, when and where of all the intense feelings in my life. I've got some little pockets of hurt and resentment tucked away in the corners of my heart like secret treasures. Sometimes a person or situation will trigger the memory and open the lock, and I'll have a tea party and sip on those cups of pain. Just because these cups are part of my history doesn't mean I need to keep them in the cupboard. Like the folks in the wagon, I need to leave them behind and open my windows to let in some fresh air.

The card drawn from the Lakota Sweat Lodge deck this morning is "Wi - Sun:"
According to Lakota tradition, Creator formed the Sixteen Mysteries, the first of whom was Wi (the Sun). This elemental energy was both teacher and sustainer, representing both personal power and clarity. Confidence and a strong will combined with vision can have powerful results. But if I don't add in clarity, if I can't shine the light in those dark places, my vision can be transformed into something sick rather than beneficial.
I feel that ice is slowly melting,
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear.
Here comes the sun, 
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right. 
~ George Harrison

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Elegant Agility

From the Buckland Romani Tarot, the Three of Bolers/Wheels (Pentacles):
Having ancestors who came from Germany as wagon builders, I appreciate the craftsmanship shown in this card. Doing any skill well requires the constant effort of practice and the willingness to listen and learn from those with knowledge. Having the right tools means nothing without the wisdom of experience. My husband found this out when we had a tornado come through some years back that snapped off several massive pine trees like toothpicks. Rednecks with a truck and chainsaw do not necessarily equal tree removal experts (they dropped sections on a dogwood and maple, splitting them in half). The Romani guy might not be a quantum physicist, but I'm sure those two fellows in the foreground feel relieved to have found a craftsman who knows what he's doing.

From the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards comes "Wagle Shun - Swan:"
Though swans are known for their aggressiveness, the authors associate these birds with peace and grace. However their beauty and grace can be seen in the air and on the water, as they smoothly glide through both elements with ease. I'm reminded by the Swan and the Three of Bolers above that expertise in any field looks like elegant agility, as if the craft and person are of one accord. If I want to know where my talents lie, I need to discover what work fills me with such peace and grace.