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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Different Kind of Gain

From the Rosetta Tarot, the Nine of Disks; from the Ascension to Paradise deck, the Ovenbird:
          The "Gain" card seemed like an unusual draw after the death of my mother-in-law. And while some may say it has to do with an inheritance, those who've spent a long period caring for a loved one will tell you that by the end you'll be scraping the bottom of the barrel. But the abacus made me think of something else as we plan for an in-town visitation and service as well as an out-of-state burial. Grief can overwhelm some folks to the point where they become nearly immobile and unable to make any decisions. Here is where the organizational skills I've honed have become valuable. With each task, I slide over a bead: pick out a casket and vault, take clothes to the funeral home, make phone calls, choose old photos to frame, write the obituary, send personal thoughts to the pastor and make more phone calls. It seems like I'll never get all the beads moved, but progress is being made. The South American Ovenbird constructs a clay, cave-like "oven" instead of a nest. The creators suggest this bird indicates reaching the end of a cycle. "Something that has taken you a lot of time, effort and energy is starting to coalesce now." And the biggest gain we'll receive is a consolidation of the family.
I was raised in a family that gave out love by the spoonful, and then only if certain conditions were met. Any disappointments or embarrassments would result in the “privilege” of that love being taking away as punishment. But what a heaping serving of love awaited me when I joined the King family. Once under Vera’s umbrella of care and kindness, I found her heart was always open no matter what mistakes or missteps were made. Her love was unconditional and all-embracing. I’ve come to think of her as “She Who Loved Fiercely and Completely.”

Monday, May 30, 2016

Soft Watchfulness

From the Rosetta Tarot, the Eight of Disks; from the Ascension to Paradise, the Chat:
          The Eight of Disks signifies a period of development, and thus is given the keyword 'Prudence.' This entails caution and care taken in practical concerns and the management of  resources (time, energy, health and finances). That mother owl needs to protect all those eggs, but at some point she's going to have to feed herself too. No extreme measures are needed, just a constant watchfulness and attention before and as each action is taken. Yet the rose-breasted Chat pipes up to say there is one area where prudence isn't necessary - in the domain of compassion. Unconditional love and an open heart will soften any rigidness of this Eight of Disks.
In memory of Vera King - She Who Loved Fiercely and Completely
Nov. 26, 1920 - May 29, 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wide Angle Lens

This week I'll be using the Rosetta Tarot along with its companion book The Book of Seshet. This set was created by M.M. Meleen and published by Atu House. The oracle deck I'll be using is Ascension to Paradise, a book and deck set created by Jane Toerien and Joyce van Dobben and published by Binkey Kok. Today's draws are the Two of Wands and the Storm Petral:
          Meleen's ram-headed wand contains a Buddhist varjra ("strong like a diamond") that symbolizes a thunderbolt. The position of Mars in the sign of Aries suggests listening to instincts and coming to quick decision. Strong will and aggressive assertion are what these two wands imply. The power and dominion I have are a result of my personal freedom of choice; I get to decide how my life will unfold. This doesn't mean there wont' be obstacles and challenges, but it does mean my state of mind will largely be determined by how I relate to circumstances rather than the circumstances themselves. And speaking of challenges... the Storm Petral card suggests turbulence and stormy waters ahead. How can I use my freedom of choice in such situations? I stay awake to what is both pleasant and unpleasant without running away or closing down. It means I open my heart and mind wide, allowing me to take a wide angle shot of what is going on.

Until we can see for ourselves that our own actions of body, speech, and mind are creating the pain, we think that someone or something outside ourselves (over which we have no control) has to change in order to put an end to the pain. When we notice that it is our own thoughts that make us want the world to change, so as to accommodate our own desires or aversions, we then have choice. Zenkei Blanche Hartman

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Need Saving?

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Pictish Oracle, Wolf:
          Crows are great watch dogs; any human or animal that crosses into their territory will start a group cawing loudly. But used with the Hierophant, I am reminded of the soap box preachers that stand on the street corners yelling that they have the key to life. What they often offer is not hope but fear, not love but hatred. Congregate enough of their followers together, and they can make it seem as if the world is going to end unless we follow their directives. And that kind of fear can be both contagious and dangerous. Which leads to Wolf, an animal seen by the Picts as a marauder who attacked and killed livestock and night travelers. They had no romanticized view of a pack and saw them realistically as a threat. Both these draws remind me of how easy it is to take advantage of people who are in a vulnerable place (especially emotionally), and how easily and willingly we lay our heads in the jaws of those who claim to be our savior.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Much to Learn

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Daughter (Page) of Pentacles; from the Pictish Oracle, the Broken Sword/Tuning Fork:
          This trusting (she still believes in the promise of that rainbow) and trustworthy little fawn made me think of something Mark Nepo wrote in The Book of Awakening:
We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. 
Yes, that's how yesterday started off. I went for a long walk early in the morning and found an apple snail shell by the pond. I was relaxed and clear-headed.
Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe... When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything.
And then someone said something callous and inappropriate to someone I love. I went into protective mode. Harsh words were exchanged, though I did my best to speak respectfully. But the encounter seems to have washed its sewage over me, and this morning it still reeks. The Pictish symbol as a broken sword implies a ceasefire; as a tuning fork, it suggests resonance. Nepo's ending words of wisdom seems to fit both meanings:
So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts.
Ah, it appears this Daughter of Pentacles still has much to learn.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I'll Fly Away

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Lovers; from the Pictish Oracle, the Double Disc:
          Kran again makes another wise choice from the wild - Canada geese as the Lovers. These birds mate for life, and pairs remain together throughout the year. My in-laws' commitment and loyalty to each other were much like these geese. Together they made it through the depression, WWII and the suicide of of son; later my mother-in-law nursed her husband for 19 years after a blood transfusion resulted in brain damage. It feels surreal that I drew this card this morning, as I dreamed last night that I was holding my MIL's hand as she lay dying. She spoke of seeing "Charlie" and then slipped away.
          The Double Disc was an often seen inscription of the Picts, second in appearance only to the Crescent and V-rod. This symbol was thought to represent the sun or the high king. During the Romano-Celtic period, solar wheel offerings were placed in water and at shrines as offerings. The sun's image suggests power and energy but also movement (as it seemed to move across the sky and then briefly disappear until sunrise). Together with the migrating geese, it feels like the sun is about to set for my MIL. Indeed the reality of the situation is that her body and mind are beginning to make that journey. These draws makes me think of one of her favorite gospel songs:

Some glad morning when this life is o'er
I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh Glory I'll fly away 
When I die
Hallelujah by and by I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joy shall never end
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh Glory yes I'll fly away 
When I die
Hallelujah by and by I'll fly away
  ~ Albert E. Brumley

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Justice and Liberty

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Father (King) of Swords; from the Pictish Oracle, Tongs:
          I love Krans choice of a great horned owl for the King of Swords. These owls can swivel their heads over 180 degrees to look in any direction; their facial feathers are designed to direct sound waves to their ears. What a perfect representation of a person who is just and fair - able to see (and hear) all sides of a situation. The owl's sword and sharp talons symbolize the skill of objectivity that allow him to look past emotionalism, manipulative language and ignorance in order to uncover the truth. The Tongs tile was often seen on stones with other symbols of the smith, such as the hammer and anvil. This tool allowed the smith to safely move and rotate red-hot metal as it was shaped without being burned. Likewise this king's detachment gives him the ability to mediate disputes without being entangled by them. The owl's rainbow sword reminds me of the ongoing LGBT arguments here in the States. The true King of Swords won't be swayed by religious views, opinions or prejudice. A person's sexual orientation and gender identity should be included under the banner of civil rights; our pledge of "justice and liberty for all" shouldn't leave any citizen out without just cause.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Don't Rain on the Parade

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Six of Swords; from the Pictish Oracle, the Snake:
          A butterfly rises from a tangle of brush; Krans says that this is "a card of victory, of rising up against the odds." I would guess that at least half of those obstacles were created by our own minds telling us there was no way to be successful, that we might as well quit before we embarrass ourselves. But thankfully the pull of reaching the goal strengthened the will and gave us reason to persevere. But what if those same negative thoughts come back in different form? The Snake symbol appears 14 times on Pict inscribed stones; it likely represented both fear (sudden strike) but also healing (shedding skin). We may wonder how we could ever top this moment, or how we could ever have enough willpower to meet another such challenge again. But like the butterfly's brief existence, our lives are short. This is the time for the joy of celebration, not worry; it's time to rest and relax. The Wheel will turn and there'll be plenty of opportunities soon enough for another quest. This is the moment to embrace what is, not what might be.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Real Sustenance

From the Wild Unknown Tarot, the Son (Knight) of Cups; from the Pictish Oracle, the Rectangular Figure:
          This swan still has a bit of fluff on him, which signifies that he is still a juvenile. Likewise, the Knight of Cups tends to be immature as well, at least in the realm of emotions. He is a romantic who is likely to be found strumming a guitar and singing  "All You Need is Love" under the trees in the park (the guy that the old codgers yell "get a job" at as they pass by). He truly believes that expressing love through song, poetry and the arts is what will heal the world. Unfortunately, the movement and response typical of this Knight is more often mood swing than anything else. In his chapter on Loving-kindness, Alan Morinis states: "It is too easy to think good thoughts and say the right things but then just continue to be stuck in the same old ways. We’re too easy to deceive, especially self-deceive. Action is required." Such action he defines as offering real sustenance to one another.
          The rectangular figure from the Pictish Oracle was thought to symbolize a wooden box (such as a coffer) or a satchel. Either way, it was likely some sort of container for objects considered valuable. It makes me think of a treasure or something held sacred, and I easily see a connection between it and the Knight's cup of color. Morinis clarifies that the sustaining actions of loving-kindness "need to come out of kindness and no other motive." So perhaps that Knight was on the right track after all.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Barrier Test

This week I'll be using the Wild Unknown Tarot, created and self-published by Kim Krans. I'll also being using the Pictish Oracle, created by myself and brought to life in 3-D form by Alaska Laser Maid on Etsy. Today's draws are the Seven of Swords and the Crescent and V-rod:
          You almost don't notice it at first - that seventh sword tucked beneath the fox's tail. He might pretend to be asleep, but he's keeping a watchful eye out. Is he playing a defensive or offensive game? He obviously has information or an idea that could be used in either way. Yet he's content to rest instead of attacking, which makes me think he's keeping a secret tucked away for a purpose that involves self-protection. The Crescent and V-rod symbol appear approximately 32 times on Class I stones that have been inscribed by the Picts. Though many have guessed its meaning to range from death to weather magic, J.N. Bellchamber makes a good argument for it representing a seasonal sundial - a sort of farmer's almanac. Added to the Seven of Swords card above, the tile seems to encourage a calmness that would lend itself to right timing. Information used as gossip or character assassination is its impulsive form; used with mindfulness and compassion, it may be helpful rather than harmful.

Yogic tradition has it that speech must pass before three barriers prior to being uttered aloud. These barriers come in the form of three questions: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
― Prem Prakash

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Identifying and Clarifying

From the Margarete Petersen, the Eight of Coins; from the Elemental Dice, Air + Water (Cloud):
          When my daughter was in high school, she had to do a leaf project for science that involved gathering and identifying sixty plus leaves from different trees. Now if you have the whole tree to observe, it is much easier to name. But we had some well-meaning friends who would bring her leaves from trees whose identity was a complete unknown. So we became leaf detectives. I learned there was much more information in a leaf than simply shape and color. Some leaves are compound, meaning they have leaflets either attached at one point or at several points. Veins can branch out from the main, middle vein or from one central location. Leaf edges can be smooth, serrated or lobed; the backs can be hairless or fuzzy. Lots of information was learned by focus and close attention to detail (which would explain Petersen's buddha image in her leaf). But sometimes, as the Cloud combo of dice implies, you can have information overload - as in the saying "you can't see the forest for the trees." Instead of a clearer picture, things seem even more confused. Then it can help to find an objective person who can see from a broader perspective. Which is why we would occasionally wind up at plant nurseries bearing leaves!

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Great Shaper

From the Margarete Petersen, the Nine of Cups; from the Elemental Dice, Light + Water (Rainbow):
          An irritant (probably a parasite rather than a grain of sand) embedded itself into an oyster and caused inflammation to the soft flesh inside. As a defense, the oyster used a fluid (nacre) to coat the irritant with many layers. After about 3 years, the tormentor became a soft, rounded pearl. Petersen writes, "If you really accept your pain, it will change you and bring you knowledge, wisdom and happiness." What is it that shapes our hearts more - our trials and tribulations or our goals and ambitions? The Nine of Cups seems to point that the pain rather than the pleasure might be the greatest shaper. It is human nature to want to battle or avoid pain rather than keeping the heart open and walking through it. The process is scary and excruciating, but as the pearl implies, there's usually a benefit discovered at the end. Grant me the serenity, courage and acceptance to hang in there until I find that Rainbow.

In times of difficulty it is this repeated setting of our heart’s compass that determines the result. 
~ Jack Kornfield

Thursday, May 19, 2016

No Escape

From the Margarete Petersen Tarot, the Four of Flames (Wands); from the Elemental Dice, Light + Water (Rainbow):
          When I drew the Four of Wands card and rolled the Rainbow with the dice, I wanted to laugh hysterically and make some cynical post. The last few days have been filled with trying to take care of people - a daughter who collapsed at work, a MIL who is slowly dying, and a husband (who had what was supposed to be a simple surgery yesterday that got complicated). This morning I don't feel like sunshine and rainbows, I feel like I got hit by a train. But Petersen's words in her booklet cut short my whining when she described this card as the "fire of shaping." Conditions in our lives are always shaping us in one way or another. I can look at circumstances with contempt and armor my heart, or I can stay open and move through it with grace (knowing it will change). Pema Chodron wrote a book called The Wisdom of No Escape in which she suggests we stop running from what is uncomfortable and embrace all of life with a sense of inquisitiveness. "This is the process of making friends with ourselves and with our world. It involves not just the parts we like, but the whole picture, because it all has a lot to teach us." And maybe it is in the wonder of learning where that rainbow will be found.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Constellation Check

From the Margarete Petersen Tarot, Justice; from the Elemental Dice, Fire + Darkness (Stars):
          Petersen gives her version of Maat weighing each heart of a sea of souls. The booklet speaks of karma, a term in Buddhism that doesn't mean result (as most Americans think of it) but willful action. If I intentionally plant purple coneflowers, water and tend them, they will in turn create more seeds and more coneflowers. It's the same way with my words, thoughts and actions; the more I repeat a destructive action or attitude, the more the same "seeds" will sprout when a similar situation happens later. As Thanissaro Bhikku explains, "the present moment [is] being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present." That last part is important. It means I can take the sword of Justice and cut off the head of the serpent (a destructive habitual pattern) and begin planting new seeds. Walpola Rahula taught that "our measure as human beings is not the hand we've been dealt, for that hand can change at any moment. We take our own measure by how well we play the hand we've got." The roll of the Elemental Dice produced Stars, which always makes me think of guidance. What do I use to navigate my thoughts and actions? If it is only looking out for myself without regard to others, the patterns produced will be self-centered and unbalanced. Even always doing for others can be selfishly motivated, if I am acting with the expectation of a result that benefits me. Perhaps its time to check out the constellations in my life.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cosmic Mixer

From the Margarete Petersen Tarot, Mediatrix (Temperance); from the Elemental Dice, Fire + Earth (Volcano):
          Petersen writes that this "Cosmic Mixer" can change the "seven poisons into the seven wisdoms." My biblical upbringing made me think of the seven deadly sins and their corresponding seven heavenly virtues:
Lust  ~  Purity of Thought
Overindulgence  ~  Self-restraint
Greed  ~  Generosity
Laziness  ~  Diligence
Anger  ~  Patience
 Envy  ~  Kindness
Pride  ~  Humility
Contrary to the Church's teachings, I prefer thinking of the "sins" as natural human desires (though I agree they need to be tempered). As an example, if I see a bare-chested, athletic young man out for a jog, I can appreciate the beauty of his body without wanting to jump his bones. Labeling such desires as "sins" and making them seem unnatural can cause other problems in trying to pursue the other "perfected" extreme. For instance, how patient should I be when there is an injustice that needs to be set right? Sometimes anger is what can motivate action. Moderation - using discernment according to each situation - might be a saner choice.
          The Volcano combination from the dice this morning reminds me of passive-aggressiveness, that simmering anger that lurks beneath a calm exterior. Both card and dice made me think of the story of the prodigal son who spent his inheritance with wild living but was welcomed back by his father. But the other son, the one who had been virtuous, was extremely angry that his brother got "rewarded" even after his sinful ways. Perhaps the middle way might be more virtuous than rigid categories of right and wrong.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Truth or Agenda?

From the Margarete Petersen Tarot, the Son of Feathers (Knight of Swords); from the Elemental Dice, Fire + Wind (Lightning):
          This young man seated on the ground (behind the feather) reminded me of an integral part of a Tibetan monk's training - debate. It is seen as a way to expand the mind, increase mental sharpness, develop analytical capacity, and gain internal clarity. The debate begins with an invocation to Manjushri, the boddhisattva of wisdom, as a reminder to the participants that the goal is truth, not winning. The challenger sets the topic of debate (whom I see as the dragon in this image), and the defender asserts a thesis. The challenger asks questions to see if he can get the defender to accept something contradictory to his thesis. The challenger's questions don't have to be based in truth; the defender attempts not to be trapped by errors and contradict himself. I can imagine the Knight of Swords/Feathers would relish this kind of intellectual exchange. The Elemental Dice show the side of this Knight when winning becomes more important than truth or compassion: Lightning. Like this electrical discharge that can cause so much damage, the tongue and mind combined must be carefully monitored. I need to be aware of my motives and any "emotional charge" I might carry. Is it truth and justice I'm seeking, or do I just want to push my agenda because I think I'm right?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Are You Ready?

This week I'll be using the Margarete Petersen Tarot, created by M. Petersen and published by Königs Furt. The oracle I'll be using is the Elemental Dice, an idea developed by my good friend Carole B. Today's card and dice are the Eight of Flames (Wands) and Water + Water (Ocean):
          A double dose of fire is paired with a double dose of water; if I were a fortune teller, I'd say a burning enthusiasm about to come to fruition was going to get doused. But let me looker a little deeper... A young man on the Eight of Flames pulls back a bow and readies to release its arrow. Petersen writes "gather all your mental faculties" and "your inspiration will know when to release the arrow in order to hit the target." The leopard above is the energetic force that will be let loose and carry one's intent. Yet beside this fiery card is the Ocean, a massive amount of water. Its salinity and tides suggest the tears of emotion and the pulling influence that our feelings and relationships can have on us. This watery distraction can surely throw off someone's aim; having to deal with the intensity of one and the strain of the other will likely cause the mark to be missed. Right timing in this case may meaning waiting for low tide.
Talent alone won't make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: 'Are you ready?' ~ Johnny Carson

Saturday, May 14, 2016

All Thought and No Play

From the Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Fairy Queen (Queen of Air/Swords); from the MentorSpirit Cards, Play:
          If I had to describe my personality based on the tarot queens, I would choose the always practical Queen of Earth and this lady - the truth seeking Queen of Air. I hate playing mind games and like matters out on the table where an objective conclusion can be reached. Honesty in relationships is of utmost importance to me. Though straight-forward, I am gradually learning to be more tactful. I prefer to deal with facts rather than circumstantial evidence, and I believe knowledge is powerful. Now there's nothing wrong with an airy personality when it is in balance, but the MentorSpirit card suggests a fix for when life becomes too serious. Play can be like a pressure release valve, a way to bring some color and passion back into the gray world of the Fairy Queen. It makes life juicy and reconnects us to others; it can be a reminder of the physicality of this world and our bodies. Let that sword rest against the stone Queen of Air; you're past due for some fun.
A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him. ~ Pablo Neruda

Friday, May 13, 2016

Confidence vs. Courage

From the Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Wildwitch (Queen of Fire/Wands); from the MentorSpirit Cards, Courage:
          The Wildwitch has a mature confidence born of much experience, rather than the impulsive arrogance of her son. She may not have the looks she did thirty years ago, but she still commands respect and oozes charm. No longer needing praise or approval, there are no social dictates that bind her. She's been following where her fervor leads, but with eyes wide open. This Queen knows herself well and is quite aware of her assets and liabilities. Palin describes her as "the passion for life personified."  It is unusual then that the Courage card was paired with such a confident person. Is there a difference between these two characteristics? I think the Queen has a strong belief in herself and her own powers and abilities. But what if there's no possible way for her to control a situation or its outcome? Courage is being able to act in the face of such uncertainty. Anais Nin wrote, "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." I can't imagine this woman living in a small, confined space; perhaps her owl friend will remind her to spread her wings even if her actions are simply to move with the changes that come.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lifting Up

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Fortune Teller (Page of Water/Cups); from the MentorSpirit Cards, Involvement:
          In the years I've been using tarot as a tool, I've met several kind of readers. Some will tell you whatever they think will make you fork over cash. Several are adamant about reading the correct way with the correct cards. Others are collectors or scholars whose main interest to appreciate tarot's art or study it's history. But then there is another group who fit well with this Page. They want to open their querents' eyes to options and possibilities that will enable them to heal, change or maneuver through their lives. And though they may be reimbursed for their time, they are motivated by kindness rather than greed. For me, this is tarot's greatest use as it taps into the heart connection between reader and seeker.
          To be involved means being an integral part of a process or situation. It doesn't have to be anything big; take out a tiny spring or cog from a watch, and it no longer runs. The media has convinced us to "go big or go home," but in real life it's the small things that matter. Like the intention of this Page, it is often the seemingly insignificant things we do or say that encourages another person. Both these cards remind me of a quote I got in my inbox this morning:
What if we administer the medicine of the dhamma [dharma] to one another, each lifting the other up and showing compassion for one another’s suffering? Even those we do not particularly like or understand; even those who are “of no use” to us; even, dare I say, with our own hand?
—Andrew Olendzki

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Heartfelt Wishes

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Wishing Well (Three of Water/Cups); from the MentorSpirit Cards, Acceptance:
           An elven lass with her animal friends make wishes as they toss coins into a well. Behind her is a "clootie," a piece of cloth dipped in the well water and tied to a branch as a type of prayer. While I don't believe in a deity that physically intercedes on earth, I still express heartfelt thoughts in meditation form (like tonglen and maitri/metta) for others. It is a way for me to keep my heart open and stay connected with people who are suffering. Friends are great not only for celebrating with, but for leaning on when life gets hard. I've had a couple of scary incidents involving family members the last few days, and knowing someone is sending out such wishes for us gives me strength to keep going.
          To be accepting is to be receptive of “what is” without feeling uniquely targeted. As Nathaniel Branden put it, "Accepting does not necessarily mean liking, enjoying, condoning. I can accept what is - and be determined to evolve from there. It is not acceptance but denial that leaves me stuck." Isolating myself, sticking my head in the ground or becoming self-absorbed won't make anything better, especially not for those who are suffering (including myself). But even if I can't change the way things are, I can stand firmly without running away and offer my support to those who are in the midst of challenges.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

No Complaints

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Blood Bond (Four of Water/Cups); from the MentorSpirit Cards, Clarity:
         This card, while resembling the Lovers and Two of Cups, is actually a nontraditional version of the Four of Cups called "Blood Bond." Such a relationship can be through family ties, but it can also a strong bond forged by friendship or an allegiance to a group. And though these relationships represent strength and security (the number four), they can require a strict loyalty and obedience. I used to spend a week at the beach with my mom and cousins each summer, along with our kids. Five adults and seven children is kind of chaotic, but we managed. But when the kids became teens and young adults, that beach house started feeling mighty cramped with no space to breathe. Sometimes those blood bonds can feel less like stability and more like a strait jacket. The fractal on the Clarity card looks like a tornado; in this case I would guess an emotional one. Musician Joni Mitchell once said that any song about overwrought feelings would fall flat without clarity, otherwise it would just be complaining. I think being in a tightly knit group lends itself to complaints more than clear seeing. But I'm the one who needs to figure out my own values and priorities rather than stay in lockstep with the rest of the troop. No need to complain if I can't take responsibility for my own needs.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Strong Foundation

From the Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Smith (Four of Fire/Wands); from the MentorSpirit Cards, Honesty:
          This smith has melted metal ore at high temperatures and now pours it into a mold. When it cools, he will hammer the piece into its final shape (the word "smith" means to hit or strike). Palin likens his forge to our will; it is the fire inside us that helps us take raw inspiration and shape it as we desire. I wonder what this man's crafted piece will be - a weapon, a farming implement, a tool for building or creating, or just something of beauty? Our wills are constantly shaping our lives, sometimes in conscious ways and other times in unconscious ways. With the Four of Fire/Wands, a foundation has been laid. Perhaps before things progress any further, we can make sure what we're building is really what we want. As Alan Morinis wrote, "Too often, we become aware of the desire only when we discover ourselves already living out circumstances of which we are unquestionably the author, and which we have to deal with, even though we didn’t consciously choose them." The image on the Honesty card reminds me of a jellyfish; both can cause us some discomfort. Fear of consequences can make us ignore or reshape the truth, while real honesty is not swayed by self-serving biases. And though dishonesty seems to protect us, it will eventually bring down whatever we've built. The truth, on the other hand, will make for a strong foundation.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Words of Power

This week I'll be using Poppy Palin's Waking the Wild Spirit tarot deck, published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the 2nd edition of her companion book, Stories of the Wild Spirit, published by Slippery Jacks Press. The oracle I'll be using is MentorSpirit, created by Kathy Tyler and Joy Drake, published by InnerLinks Associates. The cards drawn this morning are the Storyteller (Knight of Air/Swords) and Kindness:
          Nothing holds the attention like a good story, which is how this Knight is passing on the knowledge he has accumulated. Principles and ideas can be dry and boring, but wrap them in a myth or anecdote and they suddenly become much more interesting. Stories often inspire and are used to give purpose and direction. The description of one man's experience of injustice may start a riot that demands change. The personal history of the trials of a refugee family can open previously closed hearts. Words are powerful. The Kindness card shows two spirals that meet; I like to think of them as compassionate thoughts that lead to loving action (kindness). The two cards together caution me to be careful of the stories I tell myself and others. If I want them to produce actions that are beneficial and healing, I need to be discerning about the narrative I weave.
If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. 
~ Richard Rohr

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Pillars of Support

From the Transformational Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the Celtic Book of the Dead, the Sea of Mist:
       This woman has a metaphorical head full of snakes, as she dreams about a murder. It's ironic that I drew this card when I got only a few hours of sleep last night, though not due to nightmares (rather the insomnia of menopause). However there's nothing like the dead of night - when everything is still and quiet - to give the mind free rein. I've had quite a few women drop by or call this week, wanting to discuss the difficulties going on in their lives. Add to that mix my own family's drama, and it gives my mind a mental ball of clay to play around with in those wee hours. But the emotions stirred up by my thoughts are nearly always the result of pure conjecture. Like elements of a bad dream, very little have anything to do with reality.
          The Celtic voyagers come to the Sea of Mist in which they can see a horror show taking place right below their boat. In the same way, new challenges can often be confusing and disorienting, and fear is a typical reaction. My mind is always looking for creative solutions when presented with a problem. But what if it's something totally out of my league, a situation completely foreign to me? The book suggests, "At times of instability we must learn to trust the constants of our life, for they give us support." Thankfully I do have a few practices and people I can lean on.