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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

More Doing

From the Gill Tarot, the Queen of Discs; from The Circle, "Responsibility:"
          All the queens nurture in their own way. The Queen of Cups will let you express your feelings and offer comfort; the Queen of Swords can give an objective view and come up with a strategy; and the Queen of Wands will help keep you motivated along the way. But the Queen of Discs is where practical reality lies. Home Depot (a store for home improvement and construction supplies) has a catch phrase that says, "More Saving. More Doing." This queen would change that to "Less whining, thinking and cheering. More doing." She's got a lot of oyster shells at her feet, and she had to open each one in order to find that pearl in her lap. All that time spent in emotional, mental and inspirational effort now needs to be redirected into creating something concrete.
          Americans tend to be fired up about rights, but when someone mentions the other 'R' word (responsibility), we scurry off like cockroaches in a bright light. Our first inclination is to say we're too busy; our second it to try to pay someone else to do it. If we are warned that we need to change our habits, we wait until the inevitable has already happened and then expect someone else to fix the problem. But responsibility reminds me that I am the one who is accountable for my actions. I can't blame or offload the work that needs to be done on anyone else. More Doing indeed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Marriage of Intellect and Intuition

From the Gill Tarot, the King of Swords; from The Circle, "Fertility:"
          I find Gill makes use of some thought-provoking symbols for her King of Swords. The lightning suggests he leaves his mind open to inspiration and new ideas. The feathers on his throne hint that he realizes knowledge can change over time; just as a bird molts each year, some ideas should be left behind. Yet even more interesting is the keyword Gill assigns him: intuition. Most folks would think it odd to assign such a word to this intellectual ruler. Yet as neuroscientists and psychologists begin to study intuition more in depth, they're finding it's not quite the 'woo-woo' topic as originally thought. Today cognitive scientists think of intuition as a set of non-conscious cognitive and affective (emotional) processes. Intuition is faster than rational thinking (which sounds good), but it's not infallible. Yet the good news is it can get better with practice. Intuition is associative; it involves the brain's ability to pick up on recurring patterns. The more we are exposed to an area of knowledge, the easier it becomes for our brains to pick up on patterns that are relevant.
          Fertility (from The Circle deck) could be defined as the ability to produce and support the growth and development of something. That little egg will never mature without support, just as any concept or potential solution must have effort behind it. The King would prod me to see if my idea was more than a fleeting thought. Can I describe it in detail? What factual knowledge backs it up? Have I applied it in the real world or only in my head? Intuition may have helped me conceive the idea, but I'm going to need logic to prove its worth.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Soft Spot

From the Gill Tarot, the Three of Cups; from The Circle, "Origin:"
          The red wine from a silver cup, filled beyond its brim, spills over into two gold cups. This card reminded me of hearing a laugh the other day from a person I didn't know. His laugh wasn't particularly boisterous or loud, but it was so genuine that I found myself smiling in response. His joy was infectious and spilled over to me. What is it in us that touches us so? The Origin card seems to ask the same sort of question: "What is your essence?" Buddhists speak of the noble heart (or soft spot) within each of us. It can't be destroyed, but we often put armor around it because we mistakenly think it will protect us. Yet when we allow that soft spot to be vulnerable, we find a boundless supply of tenderness, openness and clarity.
We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~ Pema Chodron

Monday, December 28, 2015

Holy Coupling

From the Gill Tarot, the Lovers; from The Circle, "Magic:"
          With this couple, the man is looking for love that's lusty and quick, while she seeks love that is lasting and meaningful. Like the mix of hydrogen and oxygen that creates water, I think with the right combination you can have both.  The goodness of life is a braid made of both the spiritual and physical, not one or the other.
Not in some remote galaxy,
But in the salty scent of a sea breeze,
In the soft flannel leaf of a mullein,
In the stunning red blooms of a geranium,
In the mew-like cry of the catbird,
In the juicy bite of a ripe peach,
And within every breath I take.
The coupling of this goodness is explained by the Magic card. Taylor's version doesn't have anything to do with sleight-of-hand tricks or spells cast. He envisions it as wonder, the willingness to be awestruck. Whatever is unique or unusual, beautiful, or mysterious can flip our awareness switch on so we experience the physical in all its glory. Which is just another way of saying we've opened ourselves to the spiritual.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Be Wise and Prosper

This week I'll be using the Gill Tarot, created by Elizabeth Gill and published by U.S. Games. The oracle deck I'll be using with it is The Circle, created by D.R. Taylor and published by Versation Publishing. Today's draws are the Ten of Disks and "Wisdom:"
          The amazing thing about trees - and plants in general - is that they naturally produce fruit or seeds that will feed some animals while enabling the succession of more plants. Gill assigns the keyword prosperity to the Ten of Disks. How would you personally define this word? Is it having just enough, having more than you need (allowing you to share), or having more than any other person? My apologies to the prosperity preachers and the Law of Attraction alumni, but I have to agree with the philosopher Sophocles: "Without labor nothing prospers." Even the tree expends effort, taking up water and nutrients from the soil and converting sunlight to energy. Yet a tree still needs the right conditions to be fully productive. Winston Churchill suggested humans need to create two: "behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another."
          One of the lines in The Circle companion book states, "Wisdom is the reward for your full participation in life." I agree; if I'm busy whining or angry about the sorrows or disappointments that come my way, the only thing I'll teach myself is that life sucks and is unfair. But if I embrace it all, even the hard parts, I'll gain not only knowledge but insight too. And such insight will generate the third characteristic that fully forms wisdom: compassion. Which leads right back to the Ten of Disks card. If we want true prosperity, we need to figure out how to work together peaceably and be generous with what we have. While I can't make anyone else adopt this guideline, I can at least attempt to follow it myself.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Teacher and Student

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Insectorum Divinorum, "The Brood:"
          Peter, depicted in this Da Vinci sketch, was the first Pope. Originally named Simon, he was given the name Peter (petra - literally a rock) by Jesus.  Petra (feminine) is a mass of rock, while petros (masculine) is a detached stone, a rock that might be easily moved. As his death approached, Jesus declared that from this stone (petros - Peter's faith) a strong foundation (petra) would be built that would become the Church. The question asked for this card is: "How do you bridge the microcosm of daily life with the macrocosm of spiritual existence?" My answer would be through the study of practical spirituality, the application of universal principles (compassion, honesty, etc.) to daily life. It is what I teach in small groups, as well as what I continue to learn about through wise friends and teachers who push me outside my comfort zone.
          The Brood card suggests a number of young produced or hatched at one time. Among that group of eggs, some won't hatch, some will hatch and be killed or eaten, and others will hatch and continue the life cycle. In the same way, what I am taught or what I teach may have an impact or may simply be the entertainment of the day. That information can be used and applied, ignored or just forgotten. No one has control over what happens, except the person who heard it.
And now a bit of a rewind and a story about yesterday:
How a Snake Saved Christmas
As the holiday approached, I was so worried about being in the middle of political and religious discussions among family members on Christmas. Before I left, the Da Vinci card I chose and its companion book reminded me that challenges are not necessarily evil. As I was taking in food to the house upon arrival, I noticed a coiled baby snake near the door. I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't tell if it was poisonous or not, so I went to ask for the neighbor's help to remove it safely to another location. It caused a quite a lot of excitement, and at the dinner table all that was discussed were animal encounters, pets, etc. Turns out it was a nonpoisonous checkered garter. I have to laugh sometimes at just how literal the message behind the cards can be!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Might and Right

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, Strength; from the Insectorum Divinorum, "Caterpillar:"
Strength shows Da Vinci's study of the hero Herakles and his defeat of the Nemean lion. Afterward, he slept so long the people thought him dead. Zeus transformed the lion into the constellation Leo. The dimmi asks, "What forces are you bringing into play, and what tendencies need taming here?" Matthews makes the statement in the companion book, "Not everything you meet on the road is evil, though it may be challenging." With certain people who have rigid and unkind worldviews, my knee-jerk reaction is to shut them down and put them in their place. Perhaps instead I could ask them to help me understand why they feel the way they do. Rather than refusing to hear their rant, I could attempt to uncover whatever fear or anger is beneath it. For some folks, I will need patience and tolerance that equals the strength of that Nemean lion. The Caterpillar brings the message that there must be a period of growth and development before any potential is realized. Which makes me think of taking my own inventory - cleaning up my own backyard as Elvis sang - before I worry about trying to make someone else clean up theirs.
Euphorbia cyathophora, "Fire on the Mountain" or Wild Poinsettia
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ideals and Attitudes

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Nine of Earth (Pentacles); from the Insectorum Divinorum, "Mantodea:"
           In this sketch, Leonardo noted how tree roots dipped into a stream. The dimmi asks, "Where is your rightful place and what is the necessary attitude to take here?" I've been reminded by my recent study of Spiral Dynamics (Graves, Beck and Cowen), that life conditions and neurobiology have a lot to do with where I find myself. Nines always feel very solitary and individual to me. I'd have to answer Matthews question of "rightful place" with some lines from the Declaration of Independence: that all people are equal and have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. My attitude should be that each person has this right, even if their choices don't look like mine, as long as what they do doesn't infringe on the rights of another person.
         Mantodea is an order of insects known as the mantises. They are mostly ambush predators; their stationary posture with arms folded has led to the common name of praying mantises. The booklet emphasizes the need to be cautious - some people who seem to be friendly have ulterior motives. What they want will benefit them without regard to others. Is it my job to stand up for these people who are taken advantage of? I think so. As Barack Obama put it:
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Razed Relations

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Deluge (Tower); from the Insectorum Divinorum, the "Cockroach:"
          Matthews uses Da Vinci's study of Noah's flood as a replacement for the usual Tower. I would speculate that a great flood could indeed raze the earth as easily as fire. Matthews connects this card with the "heretical" views of the period; though the Roman Catholic Church tried to implement a counter-reformation at the time, their efforts weren't successful. The genie was out of the bottle, and no way was it going back in without a fight. What it did do was cause increasing damage to its own image; a scouring, radical change happened as people began to question the Church. A big divide appeared as the people began to see it as a human construct, fallible and made in man's image. The dimmi for Deluge asks, "What are you shoring up in this situation that needs to pass?" The Cockroach scuttles over as if on cue, with the key phrase "persistence in the face of disapproval." My unquestioned thoughts, beliefs and opinions can cause me to become arrogant and intolerant (exactly the characteristics I am fond of pointing out in others). They can lead me to "poke the bear" with a sense of smug satisfaction and and self-righteousness. While I might get a retaliatory reaction, I doubt my blather will cause anyone to change their mind. Yet respectful dialogue and discussion offer an alternative, and they aren't as likely to raze the relationship like a heated debate can.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Evenly Weighted

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Twins (Lovers); from the Insectorum Divinorum, "Symbiosis:"
          Matthews uses Da Vinci's painting of Mary and Anne with the young cousins Jesus and John the Baptist for this card. The Twins label she employs is not meant in a literal way, but rather it suggests two people who are united with a common purpose and love. The dimmi asks, "How do your desires and affinities make a perfect match?" This query can relate to myself and another, or what I am passionate about and have a talent for. In either case, the relationship will be one that flourishes only if I make a discerning, knowledgeable choice.
          Symbiosis is a mutually beneficial relationship between two different beings, in this case, plants and ladybugs. Such a partnership is balanced; the ladybugs eat aphids which protect the plant, and the plant offers them food and a place to lay their eggs. In adding these two cards together, I am encouraged to look at where my life is unbalanced, either in a relationship (one person responsible for all the effort) or my personal life (I am trying to do something for which I don't yet have the skills or tools). Just like a seesaw, it's going to get quickly tiresome if one side is much heavier than the other.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mindful Movements

From the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, the Four of Earth (Pentacles); from the Insectorum Divinorum, "Migration:"
          The dimmi for Da Vinci's preparatory sketch of The Last Supper is: "Who is controlling what?" I'm sure this question reflects the knowledge that Judas, the money holder for the disciples, would also become the the group's betrayer. Thinking about my answer, a picture of a dam popped into my mind. Dams control the flow of water to prevent flooding, are used as a reservoir for water needs, and can sometimes generate hydropower. There is control, but not tight control. Some flow must occur so there is no stagnation; an unused water supply would serve no purpose. I find myself asking if I am in control of my finances, time and energy, or if I am letting external forces spend them for me. A dam with no water would be just a waste of concrete. On the other hand, my body, money and moments can stagnate if I don't use them at all.
          The Insectorum card shows butterflies in migration, moving from cold weather to warmer climates to survive. There is a parallel between their movement and the issue of control; both need some common sense or reasoning behind it. As John Michael Greer explains:
  ...balance is not found by going to one extreme or the other or by remaining fixed at a static point; it is created by self-correcting movements to either side of a midpoint.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Embracing It All

This week I'll be using the Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, created by Caitlin Matthews and published by Connections. Along with it, I'll be drawing from a self-published oracle created by Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle called the Insectorum Divinorum. Today's cards are the Three of Air (Swords) and the "Cicada:"
          The questions (dimmi, literally "tell me") for this Three of Air sketch of the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian are: What are you mourning? What is painful? Nothing like getting down to brass tacks. I didn't even have to think too hard for my answer. I'll be with my extended family for the holiday, including the the young adult children of my cousins. These "kids" are smart, outgoing and making fast tracks in the worlds of education and career. I always feel like I'm in a Sesame St. show that illustrates "same and different" when we gather. With a young adult child who struggles with mental health issues, there is an obvious difference in the room. My heart ache and pain are for her; I have no doubt she would give anything to shake off her shackles and live with the same buoyancy as they do.
          The Cicada is one of my favorite insects; the larvae live underground from 1 to 17 years (depending on the type). Every year, in late spring and summer, some of them emerge and become winged insects; the days and nights are filled with the male's thrumming, buzzing calls. The sound becomes like the rise and fall of ocean waves. As a result of their life cycle, Rupp-Spangle suggests the meaning of this card is a "protracted waiting, followed by an explosion of creativity, energy, life force and drive." Perhaps my loved one will have her day in the sun after all, just not on schedule with everyone else. The Da Vinci book does mention an important point in reference to my pain: there is no need for resentment or jealousy. I can embrace all with an open and patient heart.
We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffering because we can't relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased. ~ Pema Chodron

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Nip in the Bum

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Four of Buttons (Pentacles); from the Button Oracle, "German Shepherd:"
          Watching Granny sprint with her coins made me think of the line, "I don't know where I'm going, but I sure am making good time!" Chloe of Inner Whispers sent out an email that began, "It's beginning to look a lot like chaos," which made me smile and nod in agreement. Even if you don't celebrate the holidays, there's still traffic and crowds to deal with. It's hard not to get caught up in that sense of emergency, which can lead me to overextend my physical self even more so than my bank account. Christmas Eve of last year I spent in a chiropractor's office - an experience I would prefer not to repeat.
          The German Shepherd button is a nod to a dog well-known for it's employment in search and rescue as well as narcotics and explosives detection. The main keyword for it is investigation, an active effort to learn facts that may be hidden. In my case, it would be wise to be mindful of the signals my body is sending instead of powering through them or simply becoming distracted by other things. I could use a service dog that would alert me to any insane actions I might be about to take. A nip in the bum is definitely better than being flat on your back.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Getting There

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Six of Swords; from the Button Oracle, "Viking Ship:"
          Granny's card for the Six of Swords made me think of a song called "Get Here" written by Brenda Russell; she says in the verses, "I don't care how you get here, just get here when you can." If one way doesn't work (busted bike), try another, no matter how crazy it might sound (UFO). Whether it's sadness or self-pity, fear or anger, my emotions can be like quicksand. Logic and reason are nowhere to be found though desperately needed. How do I move from this hellish place and change my mush mind into a saner head space?
          The Viking Ship button seems to fit with Granny's idea of moving on. But the keywords for it don't have anything to do with escape; instead they suggest an exploration, adventure or quest. Escape implies looking for a safe place where I won't be bothered. And as Helen Keller emphasized, "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it." Yet a quest would entail me actively looking for something - in this case, new ideas and thoughts to replace the old.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

No Escape

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Three of Swords; from the Button Oracle, "Pine Tree:"
          The red swords, thundercloud, broken heart and barbed wire all illustrate the pain felt when an unwanted situation happens. Just look at those stick arms on the left reaching out and the legs running away on the right. That's exactly how I feel in those unwelcome situations - either grasping at what has been lost or trying to run from what has appeared. And my thoughts tell me it isn't fair, no one else has to deal with so much; I start singing along with Sam Cooke, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, nobody knows my sorrow." Even worse is when I mistakenly assume my spiritual practices were supposed to protect me from such pain. However those mountains in the background are a reminder that my training only prepares me to be a more capable climber; it doesn't eliminate the mountains themselves.
          The spiral growth of the pine tree's needles and cone scales are arranged in Fibonacci number ratios, which leads to the keywords for this button: structure, order, and logic. When the unexpected and unwanted happens, I want to shut down and isolate to escape that feeling of being overwhelmed with fear or heartache. But this button suggests breaking things down into easy steps, making the daily tasks of life simpler and easier to manage. I can concentrate on what's first on that list, giving my mind something to do other than wander off into the future. One task, one minute at a time is all I need to focus on. Getting through the pain instead of attempting to escape it is my solution. Things might never be the same, but it doesn't mean the sun won't ever shine again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Ace of Cups; from the Button Oracle, the "Anchor:"
Before we see flaws, weaknesses, or vice; before we see differences, disparity, and separation; and before we see invective, abuse, or insults; before any of that, see love first. ~ James Ricklef
          I really like the way Ricklef describes the Ace of Cups in his book, Pithy Tarot. As I look at all the things in this card - a home, nature, relationships, divination, art and craft work - it reminds me to ask myself how I view my cup. Do I peer in and see only the dregs, what needs to be tweaked or changed altogether? Or do I acknowledge the imperfections while embracing those people and things completely, with unbounded love? Even when there has been loss that cup manages to refill itself, if I allow it. The button chosen today reminds me that these blessings do more than just fulfill me emotionally; they also keep me grounded when the waves get rough. During those dark and uncertain periods of my life, these are my touchstones. 
Love is not the experience of beauty and romantic joy alone. Love or compassion, the open path, is associated with “what is.” In order to develop love—universal love, cosmic love, whatever you would like to call it—one must accept the whole situation of life as it is, both the light and the dark, the good and the bad. One must open oneself to life, communicate with it. 
~ Chögyam Trungpa

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Not Too Highly, Not Too Meanly

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Two of Buttons (Pentacles); from the Button Oracle, "Thunderbird:"
          Look at Granny go, doing a juggling act while keeping a hula hoop in motion.  I consistently draw this card throughout the year, but not because I spend money wildly. On the contrary, I'm a penny-pincher; my unbalanced spending occurs with my time and energy (health). Just as a business can go bankrupt, so can my body. My heart and mind might tell me I should do something about everything, but in the physical world this won't fly. Which brings me to Thunderbird, a mythical hawk brought down by his own ego, who was later given the opportunity to serve the Thunder Beings. The keyword for this button is "humility." Ralph Sockman said, "True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves." Now helping others is a good thing, but I need to be aware of any hidden motives underneath. Am I trying to build myself up in the eyes of others? Am I trying to make a group or person like me? Perhaps before I jump in with my time and energy, I should check in with my true intentions.
          This year I am doing a Spiritual Wheel of the Year, a mandala of spiritual principles. I've chosen randomly (from 22 possibilities) a principle for each month of 2016. I will try to do something creative with each one, in hopes it will inspire me to work more deeply with it. Want to guess the one I drew for January?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Attention: Time for a Clean-up

From the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, the Four of Cups; from the Button Oracle, "Bugler:"
          In this card, one fellow looks as if he is about to nod off, while two others blindly wander around, seeking something they can't see. That feeling of restlessness and boredom is a familiar one for people whose lives aren't centered on survival. Thoreau called it "quiet desperation," and those of us who experience it find it painful and unsettling. We look for ways to fill the emptiness, reaching out to self-help books and gurus to find our bliss once again. Yet the bugler rides in blowing his horn, warning me to pay attention (the opposite of boredom, which is a lack of attention). All those ways I'm trying to distract myself (even the fun kind) might be adding to my stress and burn-out, or at the very least, prolonging the problem. Lin Jensen writes, "A foot rub lacks pleasure if you haven’t walked far enough to get sore feet. A hot shower is a bland event if you haven’t gotten dirty. Rest is pointless if you’re not tired. A meal is indifferent to one who’s not hungry." Instead of running away from my boredom via diversions, what would happen if I were to just sit still and experience it, really look inside what is going on underneath? I could take the time to peer inside each of my four rooms: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. The river in the Four of Cups looks polluted; perhaps instead of adding to my life, I'll find I need to be cleaning it up.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Concrete Expectations

This week I'll be using the Granny Jones Australian Tarot, created by Granny Jones and published by Kangaroo Press. Along with it, I'll be drawing from the Button Oracle, a set I made myself from a collection of buttons. Today's draws are the Nine of Wands and "Spider:"
          I hope that thunderstorm is moving away from Granny, otherwise that metal bucket on her head might provide her with more inspiration that she bargained for. The eight wands stuck into the hillside suggest she's successfully met challenges before, but she still has one more to go before she can tie up loose ends. Spider scuttles over to suggest that detachment might be necessary in order for the outcome to be beneficial. This button immediately made me think of the lojong slogan "Abandon any hope of fruition," which teaches that I should focus on the task at hand instead of being so preoccupied with my expectations. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna constantly tried to impress this upon Arjuna:
The intention behind action is what matters. Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.

You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.

Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. 
          I'm an organized, structured sort of person, and part of my planning always involves a vision of what the outcome will look like. Which, if I just had an objective to shoot for, wouldn't be a problem. But what often happens is that my joy and sense of self-worth gets tied into a very specific result. I get selfishly attached to what I want my labors to produce, which sets me up for being miserable if things don't turn out exactly as planned. My focus should be on my actions only; non-attachment will naturally lead to equanimity. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Adding and Smoothing Mortar

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Four of Fire (Wands); from the Tattwa Cards, "Ether: Seed of Air:"
          Kamui Fuchi (Rising Fire Sparks Woman) was a hearth goddess for the Ainu, an indigenous people of the islands north of Japan and east of Russia. She was the access point to the gods; the hearth in each home was a gateway of communication with the gods as well as the abode of the ancestors. As a consequence, the hearth was to be kept pure and uncontaminated, and domestic relationships properly maintained. I'm sure this goddess realized that it is much easier to build a home or business than sustain it.
          Air of Ether has been assigned the Greek word "logos." Though often loosely translated as "word," it is not meant to be understood in a grammatical sense. It is more closely tied to its philosophical use as a term for a principle of order and knowledge (Heraclitus) or as a reasoned discourse (Aristotle). Put in plain-speak (and tying both cards together), it means I would be wise to use reason and logic when I want to change the structure that was built in the Four of Wands. Open communication is a key to maintaining the stability of its foundation. Demands of "because I want to!" are more likely to cause the walls to crack. Yet respect and kindness added with reason could be the trowel that smooths the mortar.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Incubation Period

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Nine of Fire (Wands); from the Tattwa Cards, "Ether: Seed of Fire:"
          Chantico is the Aztec goddess of Fire, both of the hearth and of volcanoes (which gives a hint at her power). She firmly believes in protecting what is treasured. Lorenzi-Prince writes, "Focus on your energy level. If the fire of your spirit is low, block those things that drain it. Invite those things that feed it. If it is running too hot, make sure it stays under your control." Wise words for a guardian who needs to stay alert, but rested; ready for action, but calm and composed.
           Fire of Ether's keyword is "incubation," a word that means keeping conditions favorable for growth and development. If I know I've got a big day coming up, whether it's a challenge or a celebration, it makes no sense to run around like a wind-up toy until I'm exhausted. Of course neither should I sit around and eat chips on the couch. These two cards suggest avoiding procrastination, yet not allowing manic paranoia to overtake my preparations.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Changing Positions

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune; from the Tattwa Cards, "Earth: Seed of Fire:"
          "Fortune always has ups and downs, and Fate will have the last word," writes Lorenzi-Prince. The goddess Fortuna doesn't dole out good to a select few and bad to only those she's chosen. She's indiscriminately interested in change. But look at the poor folks hanging onto that wheel for dear life. Rarely is any change considered all good unless things are so bleak the only way left to go is up. In Buddhism, Mara represents a personification of mental conflicts. He has four "daughters" who represent the way we react to life, especially when it throws us for a loop. The first gives us a sense of entitlement, as we think we don't deserve any pain. We cover up any suffering with pleasures of all kinds and do our best to ignore the problem. The next daughter suggests we let our emotions lead us in reacting to the situation. We take things out on other people or ourselves, causing even more suffering. The third daughter is concerned with our self-image. When our identity takes a hit, our ego becomes angry and blames others; it quickly tries to build a new image for itself. The last daughter's name literally means death (yama), and she represents the delusion that we have power over loss, change and death - if we can just get things right. Of course none of the daughters offer a true solution, which is acceptance with an open heart and mind. The Fire of Earth tattwa does, however. It's keyword is "potential," and it suggests if we don't cling to a certain outcome, a wide range of possibilities can open up. We'll get a wider view of things from our new position on the wheel, which can enable us to become more compassionate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Scourge of the Earth

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Ten of Air (Swords); from the Tattwa Cards, "Ether: Seed of Ether:"
          The Erinyes are commonly known as the Furies, goddesses bent on vengeance and retribution. They afflicted the damned of the underworld as well as the evil doers of the upper world. There have been times in my life when I was so full of self-righteousness, so sure that my view of the world was Truth, I have picked up that scourge. Yet what happens to those I've left bleeding from the words of my sharp tongue? Surely their ears are forever closed to me; there will be no more discussions and sharing of ideas. Even worse is that sinking feeling of shame when I realize the distortion of my conclusions or my unkind methods of communication. It can be awfully hard to rebuild a burned bridge.
          Ether can also be referred to as "space," and this double dose of it is assigned the keyword "rebirth." It suggests learning from the past, plowing under the field, and replanting again with new seed. Before I go cleanse the earth of its "wrong" beliefs and ideals, I would do well to remember that in a world of impermanence, even facts can change. Sharing my thoughts with calmness, gentleness and compassion might reach more ears than my earlier strategy.
Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

More than an Idea

From the Dark Goddess Tarot, the Amazon of Earth (Page of Pentacles); from the Tattwa Cards, "Air: Seed of Earth:"
          Artemis is the Greek goddess of the woodlands and its inhabitants. As a protector, I'm sure she observed and learned from every square foot of forest under her care. She's a walking encyclopedia of the wild lands. This goddess reminded me of  a book (I remember neither title nor author) about caring for the environment. It stated that trying to use shame or fear to make people ecologically responsible would never work. Instead, it's inception begins with paying attention. What we notice, we become curious about; what we learn about, we come to appreciate. And what we enjoy, we will want to love and protect.
          Earth of Air from the Tattwa Cards represents adding a chunk of down-to-earth practicality to the intellectual realm. Nothing is more frustrating than a roomful of gasbags who love to hear themselves talk but take no action in regard to their philosophical topic. As Abigail Adams said, “We have too many high sounding words and too few actions that correspond with them.” Time to move something other than my mouth.