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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gathering Sunflowers

This week I'll be using the Tarot de St. Croix, a deck and mini-book set created and self-published by Lisa de St. Croix. Today's card is the Nine of Pentacles:
Occasionally when I choose a card, I'll have a random-seeming thought that flits through my brain when I see it. This morning it was "Plant your own garden." The woman seen on the Nine of Pentacles is often described as self-sufficient and financially independent, yet she takes time to enjoy life - the arts, friendships, hobbies and causes close to her heart. Her life revolves around more than just the daily grind. It is easy for me to get caught up in the day-to-day machinery so that I forget to live. In a few days, I'll be leaving town to go to a family member's 90th birthday. I'm so consumed with making sure pets and people will be taken care of while I'm gone, I feel no excitement about the trip at all. I know things will be handled - maybe not like I'd do it - but still, the world won't stop spinning. Time to gather and nourish myself with my own sunflowers.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Archetype Cards, created by Caroline Myss and published by Hay House:
Growing up, I was raised in a fundamentally religious household under stepdad number one. Women and girls were to be submissive and of service. Hedonists? Not by a long shot. But I bet you can guess what happened when I went off to college. I raised so much hell I almost died from it. So I've experienced both extremes of this card, and neither were healthy or fulfilling. Yet Myss counters that having an appetite for life and enjoying its sensual pleasures is normal and necessary, not sinful. What use is all this beauty if I don't pause to appreciate and revel in it?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pointing Fingers

From the Anna K. Tarot, the King of Swords:
This King lives his life like a person would play a chess game - his moves are carefully and objectively planned in advance. His actions are pragmatic rather than idealistic, and he has no trouble emotionally detaching from any situation. He reminds me very much of the bankruptcy lawyer that has taken over the management of the group of homes where my mother-in-law lives. To keep things running until the property is sold, the residents have been told they must pay a $400/month maintenance fee or face eviction (even if they bought their unit). So far, three elderly residents have been evicted because they refused to pay. I can't imagine being so ruthless, but in the lawyer's mind, it's not fair to those who do pay. Still, making decisions so disconnected from sympathy boggles my brain.

From the Green Man Tree Oracle comes "Aspen - Eabhadh:"
One of the word oghams for the Aspen is "distinguished wood from the trembling tree," a nod to this tree's habit of fluttering its leaves in the slightest breeze. The shaking of the leaves was linked to the legend of the Aspen being used for Christ's cross. In Wales, the tree was deemed cursed because of its use. Now to me, this is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. Why would you blame a tree for something a human did? All that tree did was grow in the sun until a human cut it down. Using the mindset of the King above, perhaps this is a message for me to be more objective before pointing any fingers of blame.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Watching Grass Grow

From the Anna K. Tarot, the Seven of Pentacles:
The usual RWS version of this card shows a farmer looking at the fruits his efforts have produced and taking note about how he might improve next year's harvest. Kleffinger's fellow has cleared the stones from his field, tilled the earth, planted the seeds and given them all a good drink of water. The outcome of his hard work, however, is just beginning to develop. He will need patience for his crop to mature. I am reminded by this card that my first impressions are often wrong. I've been surprised by people, projects and situations as I let each progress and unfold on their own timetable. There's no need to throw up my hands in exasperation yet.

From the Green Man Tree Oracle comes "Birch - Beith:"
 The color ban, or white, is associated with the birch tree and Beith and implies purity and self-discipline. As the first letter of the ogham, it is also related to new beginnings. In her book, Laurie asks, "How can I prepare for life? Where do I need self-discipline?" The tarot card above would encourage me to have patience and let things move at their own pace. But the Amanita muscaria mushrooms (hallucinogenic) growing next to one of the birch trees are a caution not to attempt to distract myself so I don't have to endure the wait. Part of the discipline is paying attention - some of the effort expended is internal.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Poets and Weavers

From the Anna K. Tarot, the King of Cups:
What a great version of the King of Cups Kleffinger has created. Because I am such a poetry lover (Mary Oliver, William Stafford, and others), I imagine him to be reading a book of poems. He also has daisies everywhere, even in his lap - did he pick those himself? But what I notice most about this card is how he has secluded himself from the hustle and bustle of the castle. The King of Cups is well-known for his unconditional love and his ability to stay composed without getting caught up in drama. Perhaps carving out time for himself to enjoy what he loves may be his secret to staying sane.

From the Green Man Tree Oracle comes "Ash - Nuin (Nin):"
The keyword for Ash is "connection," possibly because of its association with the weaving loom. Yet another word ogham for this letter "establishing peace," which makes sense - how can you form a connection with anyone if there is no accord? If I add this card to the King above, I get the impression that I must find peace within before I expect to find it externally. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, "When there is the element of peace in you, you can connect with other people...We don't need to wait for some other person to be the change we want to see in the world."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Toe-stubbing Stones

From the Anna K. Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles:
A well-dressed woman sits on the edge of a well; Kleffinger describes this image as picturing both outer (gown, jewelry) and inner (well) wealth. I've had a "stone" that I've been stumping my toe on daily, one of those worrisome thoughts about managing life. Then yesterday, something changed. Instead of feeling relief, I've created a different though similar stone to place in my path. This woman reminds me that if every possible physical need in my life is taken care of (and most are) and I still maintain a mindset of "lack" rather than "abundance," it will all be for naught. Those toe-stubbing stones should be used for skipping across ponds, not weighing down my life.

The card from the Green Man Tree Oracle today is "Elder - Ruis:"
Ruis literally means "red," and so Laurie asks in regard to this ogham, "How do my passions help or harm me?" Is my face red from working hard or laughing hard? Or is it red from shame, anger or frenzied worry? My passion is what fuels my life's energy and gives me purpose and meaning. Using it for worthless, unproductive reasons is like firing up the barbecue grill and letting the coals burn without cooking anything. Both the Nine of Pentacles and Elder suggest I make better use of my energy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Use What You've Got

From the Anna K. Tarot, Temperance:
In Klaffinger's version of Temperance, there is no blending of liquids only a strong nod to balance. The woman's bowls of water are equally filled, and there is no hint of the three "Es" here: excess, exaggeration, or extremes. Can you imagine what her load would be like if she had a full 5 gallon bucket on one end and a thimbleful of water on the other? She would be struggling to make it up those steps, and it is likely both would tip over and lose their contents. So what is the alternative? The three "Ss:" simplicity, straightforwardness, and self-discipline.

From the Green Man Tree Oracle comes "Oak - Duir (Dair):"
Anyone who's ever done any building or woodworking can attest to the keywords most often associated with this tree - strength and endurance. Though we all tend to emphasize our weaknesses, I think everyone has areas where they shine. The Oak implies that my strengths (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) are how I can help keep things in balance. It suggests I use what I've got to do what I'm good at doing.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bring It On

From the Anna K. Tarot, the Fool:
I love the unbounded joy on this youngster's face, and the fact that he is barefoot. He wants the full sensual and intellectual experience - sand spurs and soft clover, bewilderment and bliss. Klaffinger describes his "mental suppleness," his relaxed way of looking at things with no preconceived ideas or expectations. The Fool fits nicely with the Lojong slogan I've been studying, "In post-meditation, be a child of illusion." A young child looks at this ever-changing world with wonder; there are no labels from the past to be stuck onto the present moment. Just soak up the here and now, knowing it will shift and change like the breeze.

From the Green Man Tree Oracle comes "Gorse - Onn:"
The yellow blooms of the gorse reflect the energy and enthusiasm of the Fool above. Laurie explains Onn is likely related to the Old Irish word for the sole of the foot, fonn. Its other meaning - "wheel" -comes from the word ogam "helper of horses." With this information, I can see an even deeper connection to the Fool as the paths I take as I journey through life. In what direction is my mindset leading me? Am I traveling the path of the "child of illusion" or the road of the "adult of prudence and practicality?" I wonder if there is a trail somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tear Down Those Walls

This week I'll be using the Anna K. Tarot; the edition I have was created and self-published by Anna Klaffinger, though now I believe there is also an edition published by Llewellyn. Today's draw is the Tower:
There's nothing like the Tower to wake you up in the morning, and this one pulls out all the stops: lightning, raging fire, crashing waves, falling people and crumbling stones. But the fear of this card got significantly reduced since the last time I pulled it. That day, I was leading the last of a series of meditation classes, and we were supposed to do kirtan. The CD player and disc I had tested ten minutes before I left the house refused to work. I tried, and several others tried. But I had an inner nudge that this was something that would be helpful, so (with encouragement from the group) I sang the "call" part of the call-and-response of Oseh Shalom in a cappella. To say this was out of my comfort zone is an understatement - I do not sing in front of other people. Our voices were ragged and hesitant at first, but then swelled to a powerful, moving sound. Not only did we sing as one, we felt that sense of belonging and community that often accompanies kirtan. Since that experience, I look at this card and wonder what rotting, termite-infested walls are going to be pulled down, and what kind of magnificent, beautiful view I'll be able to see when they're removed.

The second deck I'll be using this week is the Green Man Tree Oracle, created through the talents of John Matthews and Will Worthington and published by Connections. However, since I'm not fond of the companion book, I also use Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie, published by Megalithica Books. This morning's card is "Blackthorn - Straif:"
Ah, here's another scary card. But Laurie explains straif means "sulfur," a substance associated with alchemy and transformation. And sulfur has long been used as a mordant, an element used to set dyes in material, making dull fabrics colorful and bright. Change always looks scary before it happens, but 9 times out of 10, there is a beneficial result on the other side.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Repeating Patterns

From the Tarot Lukumi, the Seven of Cups:
Obatala is the Orisha responsible for making human bodies. Once when he was creating them from clay, he got drunk and accidentally broke some of the figures. These figures became people with disabilities, and he became their patron. Since that horrible incident, Obatala required his devotees to avoid alcohol. He is said to be the owner of all heads (where the soul was thought to reside), and he is strongly associated with clarity. The consequences of Obatala's behavior were a wake-up call for him to take his responsibilities more seriously and soberly. Adding his pataki (story) to the Seven of Cups traditional meaning, I find a cautionary tale for making sure my mind is clear before I choose one cup over another.

From the Diloggun Cards comes the cowrie toss "Osa (10 mouths):"
Ifa: One must cease leading themselves to misfortune. One must cease bringing harm upon themselves.
Proverb: Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
When I have a major screw-up, it's often hard to move my thoughts out of the consequences and back to the cause that got me to this place. If I can't, I'll stay on the treadmill of "I don't know how to handle this mess" and never discover the root of the problem. I must dig up the root, or I'll soon have my own story of repeating the same choices over and over, and neither the pattern nor the outcome will change.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Not Given But Earned

From the Tarot Lukumi, the Nine of Pentacles:
This card is represented by Eleggua, the first Orisha created by Olodumare. Said to be present everywhere, he is associated with all doors, roads and crossroads. Though not stingy, Eleggua is a bit of a trickster (shown by the sun and the lightning bolt on the horizon). For instance, he may allow a man to comfortably retire, but then asks, "So what are you going to do with yourself now?" The roads and doors of this Orisha point to a path that must be walked and opportunities that must be taken to achieve success. For the Nine of Pentacles that means self-disciple and hard work added to perseverance and self-reliance. This is not an accomplishment that is given, but one that is earned by traveling those roads.

From the Diloggun Cards comes the reading "Ofun (16 mouths):"
Ifa: Do not speak of those who are ill of mind or crippled in body. Do not leave your home and speak badly of those in trouble.
Proverb: The skin of the leopard is beautiful, but not his heart.
When life is good (the Nine of Pentacles above), why would you tear someone down through character assassination? I think it may be fear operating at some level, a fear of losing something that one has and loves, or a fear of not getting something one desires and thinks he/she deserves. Yet the tarot card makes plain that it is my effort or lack of effort that is more likely to produce the cause and effect. The cowrie shells suggest it would be more beneficial to focus on cleaning up my own character and concentrating on my duties instead of pointing fingers at another.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Burning Down the House

From Tarot Lukumi, the Four of Pentacles:
These four towers represent the castle of King Chango, an actual king who later became an Orisha through the miracles he performed after his death to save his people. Chango is one of the “four pillars” of Santeria, along with Obatala, Oshun, and Yemaya. As a powerful though violent earthly king, his rule was marked by continuous battles. He had supernatural powers - he could produce thunder and lightning - which became his downfall. He unintentionally destroyed his own palace by lightning. Chango offers me a lesson in overdoing, whether it involves money, health or time. Even when my motives are good, I can overextend myself through exercise or contributions (of my finances, energy or time). There's no need to burn down my castle in order to acknowledge the advice of the Four of Pentacles.

From the Diloggun Cards comes the throw known as "Oworin (6 mouths):"
Ifa: To be told and to like it; to be given advice and to accept it; to take advice in order to know what the world is like.
Proverb: Advise and counsel them; if they do not learn, let adversity teach them.
In twelve-step programs, there is a saying, "Our best thinking got us here." It points to our refusal to be open-minded, our unwillingness to listen to the experiences and insights of others. I am happy that I won't be leading the discussion at the book club today, and that I will be just a participant rather than a teacher at the meditation group on Friday. There are times when I need to take the cotton out of my ears and stick it in my mouth; then perhaps I can see or hear the oncoming train before it runs over me. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pull in that Pout

From the Tarot Lukumi, the Empress:
This sensual Orisha of love and abundance shows up again after seeing her in the Ten of Cups yesterday. I discovered she is also associated with "flowing waters," which I find hysterically (not so) funny after spending the early hours of my morning mopping up an overflowing toilet and washing machine when the sewage line backed up. Oshun, like the Empress, tends to be very emotional - as opposed to her partner, the logical Emperor. She has a temperamental side when she's out of balance, and those feelings can easily turn into raging flood waters. I'm sure this facet of her was quite recognizable in me as I cursed while cleaning up the mess.

The draw from the Diloggun Cards this morning was "Obara (7 mouths):"
Ifa: One must be uplifted from poverty-stricken acceptance and state of mind. There is no virtue in being in poverty. Be industrious and accomplish your desires.
Proverb: Do not let what you cannot do tear from your hands what you can.
This cowrie shell throw offers me a bit of tough love, implying that I need to get off my pity pot and do what I can instead of whining. Which probably translates into keeping the plumber's number on redial until he answers, so I can get some professional help. Life if full of surprises, good and bad, but it's not personal. Time to pull in that pout and get busy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Power of Sweetness

From the Tarot Lukumi, the Ten of Cups:
One of the first things I noticed about this card is the empty well behind the male. This is Orunmila, the Orisha of wisdom, knowledge and divination. Having a passion for science, philosophy and intellectual thought can only bring partial satisfaction, which is where the Orisha Oshun comes into the picture. She reigns over love, beauty and diplomacy - she represents what makes life worth living. I have friends and family that I enjoy sharing cerebral hobbies and activities with, yet I am certain that our relationship would not be sustained over time without our deeper, emotional connection. I am encouraged by the Ten of Cups to find a balance between knowledge and love if I want to fill all those wells.

From the Diloggun Cards comes "Oyeku (2 mouths):"
Ifa: The prevalence of temper outbursts and cursing are the causes of difficulty in one’s life.
Proverb: Ashes fly back in the face of he who throws them.
I find that the people I love the most are the ones I get angriest with. Is it because we intimately know each other's tender, painful spots? Or is it because we expect more from people who are supposed to care about us, and we get offended when they don't meet these expectations? I often forget about the "unconditional" part of love that I supposedly espouse. The Orisha Oshun above would suggest diplomacy and respectful communication, otherwise I'm going to put a crack in that well that no amount of cement will ever fix.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Scratch Your Own Dirt

From the Tarot Lukumi, the Eight of Coins:
Aje Shaluga is the Orisha associated with health, abundance and prosperity. Sources I read differed in their opinion of this god's gender: it could be male, female or a combination of both. I rather like this idea; the female is a symbol of abundance, but the male represents the action needed to uncover it. In the image above, both the poor man and the wealthy man must turn the jump rope if they hope to advance (or maintain what they have). Cowries and coins are this Orisha's emblems, but Aje Shaluga is also connected to the humble chicken - an animal that scratches the dirt in search of food. The Eight of Coins reminds me that if I want good health, financial security and material pleasures in my life, I'm going to have to do some work to receive them.

From the Diloggun Cards comes "Oshe (15 mouths):"
Ifa: Unless we resort to caution and discretion, we will miss the blessings of prosperity.
Proverb: Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.
There are peddlers of "special" herbs, books, crystals, prayer beads, statues etc. who promise a short-cut to those material blessings we humans seek. But Oshe warns that we would do well to check our facts before we take that leap. The only people who will be reaping rewards from such paraphernalia are the sellers themselves as they pocket our money.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Relax and Be Receptive

This week I'll be using the Tarot Lukumi, a deck created by Caelum Rainieri, Ivory Andersen and Raphael Montoliu. It is published by Dal Negro. Today's draw is the Four of Swords:
This card is represented by the Orisha Oggun, a warrior known for his power and protection as well as being an inventor of tools and weapons. His "cutting edge" can be used to hurt or heal. In the background of this card are three decapitated heads hanging from a tree with their bodies upside down underneath. Yes, these are my enemies, but they are the ones who live in my head. One is consumed with guilt and hounds me with "shoulds." The second is full of self-righteous anger and plots revenge. The third is formed from fears, and anxiously urges me to make future plans for all those "what ifs." Oggun, however, has silenced them with his machete. He encourages me to quiet my thoughts and allow my mind and body to rest; when I feel refreshed I can begin again.

The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Diloggun Cards, a digital set created through the use of art by Mase Lobe. Each card is associated with an Ifa ethic as well as a proverb, with information from a book by Ifa Karade called The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts. This morning's draw is "Okanran (8 mouths):"
Ifa: One must come to recognize that stubbornness is not beneficial; the truth regarding oneself must be listened to. Do not be overly influenced by your self-defensive ego.
Proverb: Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off.
Okay, that proverb almost made me snort my coffee, especially in the way it parallels the Four of Swords image above. I can be incredibly stubborn and unbending when it comes to my ideas, and that mindset always leads to conflict. The truth is I don't know everything, my opinions aren't always right, and sometimes my plans can harm rather than heal. Better to step back and take a breath; I obviously need to keep my ears open and my mouth closed for now.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cutting Through Clouds

From the Gill Tarot, the Princess (Page) of Swords:
This young woman has parted the clouds and the winds with her sword. Symbolically, this card represents a search for clarity, truth and knowledge. I recently acquired a book by Kate Warwick-Smith, The Tarot Court Cards, due to an enthusiastic recommendation by Prince Le Normand. Warwick-Smith assigns this Page as "Student" in her Supporter role and "Dabbler" in her Detractor role. The Student brings clarity with questions, and knowledge through a constant flow of ideas. But as a Dabbler, she becomes a workshop junkie or perpetual student who never dives deeply into what she learns; she may arrogantly think she knows something about everything, yet her knowledge is only superficial. I'll be teaching my last meditation class tonight for the group I've been leading for over a month now. It is my purpose to bring information to others, though with Gill's keyword of "control" on this card, it sounds like there may be some clouds and big winds to deal with. I get the feeling I may find myself "herding cats."

From the oracle deck The Circle comes "Signal:"
Both this card and the one above have a light shining through dark clouds. Perhaps tonight in class I will be able to clear up some misunderstandings about meditation. But the title on this image also encourages me to pay attention and be aware of what I may overlook if I rush through. In groups, there are always people who ask lots of questions and talk at length, but there are folks who are more reserved and hesitate to speak up. I will try to pay special attention not only to what is being said, but also to those who are silent.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Wineskins

From the Gill Tarot, the Two of Cups:
At first glance, there only appears to be one cup on this card - until you see the shape created by the two faces. I got an email the other day in which a friend stated, "Contentment can be solitary but happiness by nature is, at a minimum, plus one." It is such a blessing to find a person with whom you connect on a deep level, whether that connection is a love for each other, a shared hobby or a common cause. When it is born of mutual respect, this kind of love is strong and resilient; it can traverse the mountains and valleys of life, benefiting both of the travelers.

From the oracle deck The Circle comes "Beginnings:"
For some reason, a bible verse in Matthew 9:17 popped into my head when I saw this card: "Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Each person is unique, and therefore each relationship as well. I can't possibly try to fit one into the pattern or mold of another. Time to work on building new foundations and parameters instead of relying on old ones.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Everyone Loses

From the Gill Tarot, the Five of Swords:
I should know better than to go into a discussion with someone with expectations set in stone. It happened last night, and things did not go well. That feeling of calm centeredness I've been carrying around has been sliced out and replaced by fear. Had I not made assumptions beforehand, I don't think I would feel like I'm walking barefoot over broken glass now. Gill explains the sword pointing upward is the choice made when we lose the whole punishment or reward approach. It is a decision made on what's best for everyone, with no manipulation or force involved. Otherwise you wind up with this card - everyone loses.

From the oracle deck The Circle comes "Appearances:"
While some of the lessons a Southern woman grows up with are good ones (hospitality, friendliness), others come at a great cost. Keeping up appearances has to be at the top of that list. If someone asks how you are, you tell them "fine" even if you're crumbling inside. No matter what, keep a smile glued on your face and pretend that all is well. Screw it. That's part of what caused all this mess to begin with. I think I'm way past due for an honest, heart-to-heart conversation today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Girl on Fire

From the Gill Tarot, the Seven of Wands:
I had an Alicia Keys moment when I saw this burning woman. She's got so much creative drive and passion for what she's doing, all those arrows (detractors) heading toward her will likely incinerate before they ever touch her. I like Gill's inclusion of the keyword "valour" for this card; it reminds me that as long as I have my feet on the ground, I'll have no problem standing my ground. I've been studying Lojong lately, and my creative effort has been to take a nature-oriented photo of each one of the slogans. Trying to find a suitable subject has made me delve deeper into the meanings, giving me a greater understanding of them. Of course I've had people ask me what I'm going to do with those 59 pictures when I'm done. Heck if I know, but I'm sure getting a tremendous satisfaction from doing them.

From the oracle deck The Circle comes "Gifts:"
When I'm in a blue funk, I can look at this card and focus on the gray sky rather than the rainbow. It makes me think of the phrase "every canoe has a leak." In other words, instead of concentrating on the gifts in my life, I only see what I don't have (and what I mistakenly think will bring me happiness). Again I get the feeling that I should appreciate the creative process instead of worrying about the end result. And the easy-to-use digital camera employed for this project was a gift from a dear friend (since I don't own a smart phone) - yet another reason to be grateful and happy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Making Noise or Making Music

From the Gill Tarot, the Devil:
We humans do some weird stuff trying to make uncomfortable feelings go away. We eat, shop, drink or take drugs, get in and out of relationships, hoard money, etc. One of the obsessive ways I handle anxiety is through accumulating information. I can surf the internet for hours or load my Kindle with books thinking that the right knowledge will make it go those icky emotions go away. But what I'm running from (in my case, anxiety) is actually what holds the key. If I can sit with my fear and observe it, I might discover where the roots of it are planted. Perhaps there is something I can do, or maybe I just need to accept life on life's terms. Either way, I don't have to rely on behaviors that will only complicate my life rather than help it.

From the oracle deck The Circle comes "Friction:"
A bow glides across the strings of a violin, creating lovely music (or screechy noise if I was playing it), and it reminds me I need to be discerning in what I chose as a coping mechanism. Yet friction also implies that the right amount of stress can produce beneficial action. Like the musician who knows which strings to hold down and how to move the bow, I need to be mindful of the results I produce by my what I choose to do. If my behavior isn't creating beautiful music, I need to approach things from a different angle.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

If a Mama Bird Can Do It...

From the Gill Tarot, the Seven of Swords:
There is a lack of contrasting colors in this image, making the swords almost blend in with the background. It made me think of the phrase "trying to find a needle in a haystack." No wonder Gill gives it the subtitle "Uncertainty." That feeling of limbo is an uncomfortable place to be, and it may tempt me to create certainty where there is none. In order to have a mental map and direction, I might state assumptions and opinions as truth when there are no facts to back them up. I might use results as a way to justify the not-so-nice actions I employ to reach that end. I may even use words to imply something that isn't real, a half-truth that could be used to manipulate others. But doing any of these will only create chaos and resentment; I'll wind up with way more problems than just the uneasiness caused by uncertainty.

From the oracle deck The Circle comes "Fertility:"
The nest and egg suggest possibility and potential, yet things are still in the incubation stage. Sometimes answers, solutions and plans take time to develop. Patience is required even though some discomfort may be involved with the wait. This card encourages me to sit lightly, stop being so neurotic, and give that egg a chance to hatch out on its own.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Luck? I Don't Think So.

This week I'll be using the Gill Tarot, created by Elizabeth Gill and published by U.S. Games. Today's draw is the Ten of Cups:
Someone asked me the other day how I got so lucky to have such a good marriage. Believe me, luck has nothing to do with it. In this card, that bottom cup rests on a foundation of bedrock. In relationship terms, that means honesty, loyalty, patience, perseverance and kindness. Good looks fade and the "newness" and excitement wear off pretty quickly. There needs to be more substance than that if a relationship is going to sustain itself. In her companion book, Gill speaks of a "sustained effort" needed to make it up that mountain. I agree 100%.

The oracle deck I'll be working with this week is The Circle; it was created by D.R. Taylor and published by Versation Publishing. This morning's pick is "Nurture:"
When I saw the nursing babe and the keyword, I picked up the companion book expecting to read words that encouraged me to give of myself. Instead, Taylor makes it very plain this card includes both giving and receiving. He writes that nurture involves an understanding of grace and realizing "both giving and receiving require humility." Relationships can't thrive if the people involved are only takers, yet neither will it survive if the participants refuse to be receptive. It's a two-way street.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Deep Roots, Good Soil

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Nine of Earth (Pentacles):
Where is your rightful place?
What is the necessary attitude to take here?
These trees beside the water remind me of the black willows we have here that grow so abundantly beside ponds and lakes. While these willows are water lovers, many trees aren't - as seen by the large trees that have fallen lately because too much rain made the ground too soggy to support them. The Nine of Earth does involve putting down roots in a place, working hard, and finding independence and self-sufficiency as a result. But first I must find my "rightful place," the environment ("soil") that can support the skills and knowledge I have to offer. When I do, my commitment will bring fruitful results, because I'll be doing something I believe in and enjoy. In the words of J.M. Berrie, "Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else."

From the Insectorum Divinorum comes the "Nightcrawler:"
This large earthworm comes to the surface to feed, sometimes pulling leaves into its burrow to partially decay before being eaten. These worms help aerate and fertilize the soil, are a source of food for other animals, and may frequently be used in residential composting or as fishing bait. The nightcrawler is a reminder not to dismiss work that seems boring and unglamorous. Many "important" efforts depend on the foundation laid by those who do such seemingly insignificant tasks.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Put the World on Pause

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Ten of Water (Cups):
What is returning home?
This sketch done by Da Vinci shows Mary and Jesus, Mary's mother Anne, and John the Baptist - a study of an extended family. The question for this card made me think not so much of the "what," but the whole idea of being gone and coming home again. Even if I'm only gone for several hours, home feels like a place where I can renew myself through peace, belonging and kindness. My daughter has officially finished her two year college degree, and although she plans to continue her studies, I feel the need to set apart some sacred time to celebrate in a small way. As a family, we've had a lot going on lately (some good, some not so good). But my daughter has been through quite a struggle to accomplish what she has, and I feel like we would all benefit by pausing to reconnect and remember how much we love and appreciate each other.

From the Insectorum Divinorum comes the "Cockroach:"
Okay, I admit it. This is the one kind of bug I refuse to catch and release outside if I find it in the house. We spray for them, stomp on them and flush them down toilets, yet still they survive. Cockroaches can go for a month without food, survive extreme temperatures and tolerate much higher doses of radiation than humans. No wonder this insect is associated with persistence in the face of disapproval. In combining this draw with the one above, I get the feeling that outside pressure is likely to be applied to disrupt my family plans. Hopefully, unless it is a true emergency, we can put the world on pause while we spend time together.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Choosing a Road

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Way-shower (Star):
Da Vinci drew many sketches of St. John the Baptist, perhaps because he was the patron saint of Florence. John was the forerunner for his cousin Jesus, for whom he prepared the way. He was the pre-modern GPS, who attempted to help others navigate a new spiritual path. Although he might offer guidance, John was merely a messenger. Yet the Way-shower reminds me that hearing the message and understanding it is not enough; I must also walk the road.

From the Insectorum Divinorum comes "Swarm:"
A swarm is a the collective behavior of an insect group moving en masse. The behavior might be triggered by migration, mating or the start of a new colony.  Locust swarms can number in the hundreds of millions, with densities of up to 500 tons of locusts per square mile. This card warns me that it is not always in my best interest to follow the group or maintain the status quo. Independent, critical thinking might show that breaking away from the herd is the way I need to go.