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, May 31, 2018

Friendly Advice

From the Llewellyn Tarot, Temperance; from the Beasts of Albion, the 'Hound:'
          The Lady of the Well used to illustrate this card comes from a tale of intemperance. A man, known for his drunkenness, passed by a sacred well one night. Seeing the young priestess guarding the well, he assaulted and raped her. The waters of the well raged upwards and drowned the entire town. The young girl who was violated lived on under the waters in mermaid form. A moment without self-restraint caused a choice that irrevocably changed many lives. The Hound has long been a companion, guide, and guard for mankind. Its message is one of loyalty, a faithfulness that lasts in all seasons and circumstances. (Interesting that the waters provided the mermaid with a sea-dog.) Perhaps those who consider themselves a friend of another might try and reason with them to prevent extreme choices if they can. On the other hand, that person considering an action might need to listen and heed the warning of that friend.
I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better. ~Plutarch

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Discerning Defense

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Page of Swords; from the Beasts of Albion, the 'Hedgehog:'
          The Page stands still on a foggy hill in the early morning. He's gotten a message that there is a rumor of war between two clans, and so he watches. Rather than seek opinions, he keeps his ears and eyes open to find the truth. The actions of people and their whispered conversations will tell him what he seeks to know. The hedgehog has poor vision and thus relies on its senses of smell and hearing as it hunts among the undergrowth for its meal. It's most known for its coat of sharp, stiff spines; if threatened or asleep, it will roll into a prickly ball. The shield implies the message of the hedgehog: protection. Yet the Page might ask, "Are you defending yourself from an actual threat, or are you simply hiding from what you don't want to face?"

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Independence and Stewardship

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Nine of Coins; from the Beasts of Albion, the 'Goose:'
          Prudence and discipline might sound like virtues that suck the fun out of everything, but this woman would tell us that is exactly what is needed to have the time and resources for what brings us enjoyment. Having to become self-sufficient can teach a person who is willing to learn a lot. Seeing all the sheaves of grain being collected in her fields, her hard work is something she can be proud of. The Goose has long been a Celtic symbol of alertness and aggressive protection. This bird suggests we not slack off in guarding what we've worked long and hard to achieve. This may pertain to material possessions, but it could also be a reminder to be a good steward of the bodies we have as well.
My apologies to those who've tried to leave comments and couldn't (I've had the same thing going on with comments I've tried to leave on other friends' blogs). I think Blogger / Blogspot is making some changes which have thrown a wrench into the gears of things. Hopefully, in time it will get better!

Monday, May 28, 2018

All Work and No Play

From the Llewellyn Tarot, the Eight of Coins; from the Beasts of Albion, the 'Wren:'
          The trees are in bloom and the birds are making nests, but this young man keeps his head down as he tries to practice and improve his skills. Such focus requires mindfulness; mindfulness trains the mind in attention and meta-attention. Meta-attention is when we realize our mind has drifted and we bring it back to the object of our attention. It is the secret to concentration. Robins have long been a symbol of the new year, while Wrens have been a symbol of the old year. Thus the Wren card suggests a cycle that is ending. Instead of being so earnest to become a master of his craft, perhaps this young man is in for some fun or relaxation this spring day. All work and no play, as they say...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Walking with Friends

This week I'll be using the Llewellyn Tarot, created by Anna-Marie Ferguson and published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the Beasts of Albion, an oracle deck created by Miranda Gray and published by Aquarian. Today's draws are the Three of Cups and the Raven:
          Under the light of the moon, three women raise their chalices in celebration. The woman with the floral head wreath is likely the one being honored, and the full moon suggests something that has been completed. The happiness shared by all because of another's good fortune indicates the presence of sympathetic joy. As Joan Halifax Roshi writes, "One of the hardest things for many of us to do is to feel happy when something good happens to another person.  Judgment and envy, the tendency to compare and demean, and greed and prejudice narrow our world and make sympathetic joy nearly impossible to experience.  But learning to feel joy for others can help transform our own suffering and self-centeredness into joy." The Raven in Celtic lore has been associated with battles but is also noted for its cunning and intelligence. It represents challenges and the unknown but implies there are resources - that if used intelligently - will lead to success. Both these cards seem to mirror the words of Helen Keller: "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hiding vs. Awakening

From the Norse Tarot, Judgment; from the Wolf Pack, 'Isolation:'
          During the battle of Ragnorok, many gods and humans died, the sun went dark, and the earth sank into the sea. Afterward, the green earth rose from the waters and the surviving children of the gods and two humans began to build another home. The brave ones that fought were remembered with gratitude. Barrett suggests this card indicates a spiritual awakening that leads to positive changes and improvements. Isolation indicates a desire to hide or retreat due to anxiety, depression or perhaps resentment. Unfortunately, it tends to exacerbate the problem rather than help it. Solitude, on the other hand, has a purpose to seek within and engage in reflection and inventory. One of the greatest awakenings humans can have is to realize how much we are alike on the inside, regardless of our opinions, culture or preferences. We are individual beads on the same cord; life can look very different when we realize our interconnection.

Friday, May 25, 2018

No Remedy

From the Norse Tarot, Death; from the Wolf Pack, 'Judgment:'
          The Norse Tarot card shows the death of Baldur, the much-beloved son of Odin and Frigg. When Baldur began having dreams foretelling his death, Frigg secured oaths from things that could be fashioned into a weapon and asked that they would cause no harm to her son. The other gods had a good time throwing things at Baldur and watching them bounce right off. But the trickster Loki found out that Frigg had overlooked mistletoe, thinking it too small to cause any harm. He magically made a spear from the plant and gave it to another god to throw, which killed Baldur. This story brilliantly illustrates impermanence; it affects all no matter what we do to escape it. The Judgment card brings to mind comments often heard after a loss, whether a person, job or relationship: "He never got enough exercise." "She was warned not to look for a husband outside the church if she wanted a marriage that lasted." "He can't keep a job because he doesn't have a college degree." It's as if coming up with a reason can act as some kind of magical protection to keep endings from happening to us. Yet as David Whyte writes, "Our real unconscious and underlying wish is to find a cure for the impermanence of life, and for that there is no remedy."

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Making Time

From the Norse Tarot, the Eight of Wands; from the Wolf Pack, 'Guidance:'
                One can almost hear the rhythmic call of "Pull! Pull!" as the oarsmen glide across the water. The Eight of Wands symbolizes speed and movement, and this boat represents both. Yet when things are in motion, it might be tempting to sit back and watch. However, if all the rowers decided to do that, the speed and direction would be lost. Guidance suggests asking or heeding the wisdom of someone who has more knowledge and experience than we do. There was a woman who was pulled over by a policeman because she was speeding. When asked where she was going in such a hurry, she replied, "I don't know, but I'm making damn good time!" Movement is good, but only if we're progressing in the right direction. Asking for help is better than doing something without a clue about what we're doing or where we're going.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Be Accountable

From the Norse Tarot, the Four of Discs (Pentacles); from the Wolf Pack, 'Be Alert:'
          This ship's captain oversees his men raising the mast and loading the goods on his ship that will be used in trade. It's not that he doesn't trust his men, but he knows that excitement (or being hung over from a night of partying) can make people miss important details. There will always be folks who lose money or other resources and point the finger of blame at another person they trusted. But the 'Be Alert' card suggests we watch others more carefully; people might seem friendly and eager, but their actions speak louder than their words. Some managers never leave the office, completely unaware of the quality of work the employees are doing until there's a problem. There are people who don't worry about writing down expenditures because they think they can keep bank balances in their heads. Others spend money on credit that they plan to make in the future. The bottom line is we must be accountable for our own resources. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dual Nature

From the Norse Tarot, the Sun; from the Wolf Pack, 'Cycles:'

          In Norse mythology, Sol (the sun goddess) was swallowed during Ragnorok, an end-of-the-world battle. Eventually, a new world rose, and Sunna (the daughter of Sol) outshone even her mother. Around the Summer Solstice in areas north of the Arctic Circle, the sun remains visible at midnight (Norway is often called 'Land of the Midnight Sun'). The opposite phenomenon, the polar night, occurs during winter, when the sun stays below the horizon throughout the day. Norse mythology, like other folklore, reflects the dual nature of the world. The Cycles card parallels this idea, showing a wolf that has survived a harsh winter but now will find food plentiful in the spring. Whether energy and light or other resources, we can prudently use them while available. When they disappear, we don't need to wail and wallow; we survive as best we can, knowing the light will at some point return. 
The first time you feel that sort of pain, you think it's never going to go away. Once you do survive it, you realize you can survive anything. ~ Zoe Kravitz

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Strategy of Choice

From the Norse Tarot, the Two of Swords; from the Wolf Pack, 'Home:'

          Rather than a blindfolded woman trying to make an intuitive decision, Barrett's Two of Swords shows two men playing a strategic game. Here is logic at work - looking at the pros and cons of a situation and trying to imagine what a choice might look like several moves down the line. Past mistakes and successes might be considered, but a few risks might be needed. Emotional, opinionated or wishful thinking needs to be set aside to make room for more possibilities. 'Home' suggests that there is a place of security and belonging (though it may be more about who we're with than where). It can give us a slight advantage in feeling more confident, supported and safe, which is why sports teams must play part of their games at their competitor's field. For most, home (or any personal, sacred space) can allow us to relax and think things through.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Deep or Shallow?

This week I'll be using the Norse Tarot deck and book set, created by Clive Barrett and published by Aquarian Press. I'll also be using the Wolf Pack, created and self-published by Robert Petro. Today's draws are the Ace of Cups and 'Control:'
 Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.
Thich Nhat Hanh

          The Ace of Cups represents the joy and love we find through our connection with others. This beautifully designed chalice has a wide, hefty base to support the cup and its contents. Does its base imply we need to be able to love ourselves before we can love another? Clinical psychologist Leon F. Seltzer questions this logic, suggesting it affects not if we can love but how: "To deepen your love and acceptance of another, first develop love and acceptance for yourself." In other words, when we accept rather than hide our quirks and faults, we keep our heart fully open and thus deepen the intimacy of the relationship. The Control card brings to mind the 'near enemy' (a trait that looks like a virtue but is destructive) of loving-kindness - attachment. Attachment in this sense is possessive and based on fear and clinging. The 'loved' person is seen as something needed, and manipulation is almost always in play to control the relationship. An examination of our attachment will show a love that is constricted and conditional. Rather than a deep cup, it's as shallow as a saucer.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Confident or Cocky?

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Seven of Staves (Wands); from the Viking Lenormand, 'Bouquet:'
          Jackson states that this card deals with valor and a successful outcome because of our efforts. But looking at this fellow on the wall with the angry, violent mob below him, he appears to be bored. Is he confident or complacent? Since he is currently at the top of things, does he believe he is out of reach? News flash: someone in that crowd has a ladder. Jack Welch would advise him, "Change before you have to." The Lenormand Bouquet card suggests a gift, pleasure or appreciation. Those at the top of their profession - skaters, actors in a play, ballerinas, etc. - are often given or showered with flowers after a success. You can bet they didn't get there by being arrogant and unconcerned about their profession.
Where overconfidence can get you in trouble is when you aren’t realizing your fallibilities, your limitations, your need to improve. ~ Deborah Faltz

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Rawness of Reality

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, Judgment; from the Viking Lenormand, the 'Letter:'
          Jackson describes the Judgment card as "awakening into a new way of life." It parallels the Buddha, a title which means "one who is awake" in the sense of having woken up to reality. Part of this waking up is realizing the self we think so highly of is simply a mental construct; we are not separate or independent from others. We come to understand that pain and impermanence is a natural part of life, but suffering/dissatisfaction (craving for things to be a certain way) is optional. Awakening in Buddhism does not mean a blissful state but being able to be with the rawness of reality without freaking out or taking anything personally. When we awaken, we find what is hidden - our basic goodness (the natural wisdom and compassion of our mind). The Letter in Lenormand decks generally means some sort of communication or message. In speaking of awakening, it seems to fit with a quote from Ven. Master Hsing Yun: "Total and complete enlightenment is not attained easily. One must develop small moments of insight and understanding each day."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Light and Shadows

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Juggler (Magician); from the Viking Lenormand, 'Lily:'
          The Juggler/Magician has the skills, knowledge, and resources to turn ideas into something concrete. But he also has a shadowy side, a part of him that can hide the truth and make it look convincingly like something else entirely. He has excuses, blame, and rationalizations that are fluffed up enough to sound as if they are valid. The Lily represents wisdom that comes from maturity - basically common sense that comes from a very wide and deep perspective. It is firmly rooted in reality and not swayed by those who are eloquent with words. This wisdom would suggest that all the energy put into hiding the truth could be better used in dealing with it. What we resist will persist until it is aired out in the sunlight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tiny Grains

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Four of Swords; from the Viking Lenormand, the 'Mountain:'
          Jackson's booklet suggests "peace after stress" and "recuperation and rest after a struggle." The mind is lighter than the body and often wants to get started again after only a brief respite. Even when the mind struggles, there are the 'shoulds' whispering in the background. However, the World Health Organization recognizes that the whole self needs care: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The Mountain card implies an obstacle that blocks our forward movement. It's like packing the car with the family and supplies for a long-awaited vacation only to find the car won't start. Those types of obstacles look even larger when the mind is not rested. In the words of poet Robert W. Service, "It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out; it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sharing Gifts

From the Nigel Jackson Tarot, the Queen of Coins; from the Viking Lenormand, the 'Clouds:'

          Behind this Queen's throne is a tapestry with baled sheaves of grain. It fits her grounded and practical nature, as she is often heard to say, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." If someone lost their home due to fire or flood, she'd tell the Hierophant to hold off on the prayer service until these people have food, clothes, and a bed to sleep in. She nurtures in concrete ways, helping people until they can help themselves. The Clouds card represents confusion and uncertainty. While this Queen cares for others in useful ways, she knows the gifts of working with people's emotions, ambitions, and honesty are in the hands of her sister queens. She has enough sense not to try to be everything for everyone when there's someone else more qualified who can be asked for help and clarity.
The truth is that we all have gifts to share – time, talent, connections, insights, experience, skills, resources, hospitality. And most people love to share them! ~ Margie Warrell

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Key to Strength

This week I'll be using the Nigel Jackson Tarot, created by Jackson and published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the Viking Lenormand, created and self-published by my dear friend Carole Beasley. Today's draws are Fortitude (Strength) and 'The Key:'

          Fortitude indicates courage and strength in adversity. It doesn't mean the difficulty disappears; rather than reacting to it, we tame it with patience and kindness. Jackson includes three broken pillars in his card, a Renaissance symbol of fortitude. In kabbalah's Tree of Life, there are three columns: justice, beauty, and mercy. Justice represents power and severity, separation and distinction. Mercy represents unity and harmony, benevolence and goodness. But the middle pillar - Beauty - is the ideal balance between the other two. Such is the meaning of the Strength /Fortitude card. The Key implies that a door can be unlocked, an insight can be had, and a solution can be found. Perhaps its message is that people and situations can't simply be sorted into two columns of good/bad or right/wrong. To be able to see from a viewpoint of inclusivity - seeing the whole rather than just a few parts - is what will allow us to find strength in adversity.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Not Fair!

From the Everyday Enchantment Tarot, the Ten of Blades; from the MentorSpirit Cards, 'Willingness:'
          This young man runs screaming through the night, trying to avoid two people attacking with a broken bottle and a knife, a swooping bat, and angry cat. We can almost hear his thoughts: "Everyone is out to get me! Life isn't fair!" But if the video camera on the wall were to play back the last week in this fellow's life, we might see another perspective he seems unable to grasp. In Bill Wilson's words:
Fear somehow touched about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn't deserve. But did we not often set the ball rolling ourselves?
He can't see that his self-centered thinking is reflective of the skull and crossbones symbol on his shirt - a poison affecting his life. Willingness suggests bending mind and behavior in a different direction, trying out new ways to view and respond to the world around us. Perhaps he might see through the lens Mr. Wilson provides:
The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear -- primarily fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded.
 Fear can be a steppingstone to prudence and to a decent respect for others. It can point the path to justice, as well as to hate. And the more we have of respect and justice, the more we shall begin to find love which can suffer much, and yet be freely given.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Pathology of Altruism

From the Everyday Enchantment Tarot, the Queen of Cups; from the MentorSpirit Cards, 'Honesty:'
          This Queen has brought a cup of coffee for a homeless man and water and biscuits for his dog. She asks, "What else do you need?" The black and white image of the crowd that walks past them suggests she is, in fact, offering what he needs - compassionate attention. This woman must walk mindfully between the landmines of pity (I feel sorry for you), sympathy (I care about you), and empathy (I feel your pain) to arrive at compassion (I recognize your suffering, won't turn away from it, and would like to relieve it). Honesty in her case refers to self-honesty, the ability to know whether she is reacting or responding to a situation. She needs to be objective enough to realize when her desire to help is leaning towards pathological altruism. As Joan Halifax explains (who has long been involved in prison and hospice work): "...altruism that is not principled and grounded and characterized by insight can easily tip into harm. Part of it has to do with our capacity to get grounded and not to get overwhelmed ourselves by over-identification with someone who is suffering. Part of it is maintaining intentional balance and to keep in focus the clear intention of why we’re there, that is to benefit others."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

What Sticks

From the Everyday Enchantment Tarot, the Hierophant; from the MentorSpirit Cards, 'Determination:'

          An older teacher sits in front of his pupils teaching a class on world religions and philosophies. The students listen raptly, not only because he is engaging, but because they are encouraged to ask questions and raise doubts. He knows this interaction will get the students involved in their own education; being a participant will help the information stick. The teacher takes his job seriously, because he realizes how these young minds are shaped will determine what kind of community this generation will later create. Determination suggests the willingness to apply such knowledge. Most people, when they are learning or attempting something new, have a fair amount of determination. We resolve to accomplish a goal or make a change with enthusiasm. But like the teacher's lessons, what will make determination stick? The realization of two things:

He that can have patience can have what he will. 
Benjamin Franklin
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. 
Beverly Sills

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Moving Right Along

From the Everyday Enchantment Tarot, the Eight of Wands; from the MentorSpirit Cards, 'Truth:'
          This single mom is receiving the official papers she and her son need to move abroad. Her house has been sold, so she has been busy packing, cleaning, and tossing out (or giving away) what can't be taken with them. Palin offers the three Ds to describe this card: directness, direction, and decisiveness. Anyone who's had to move with kids or pets in tow will recognize these keywords and the urgency behind them. It's a card that alerts a person to stay on their toes, mentally and physically. This woman has lots of hopes surrounding her move, but the Truth card is a reminder that not all that is hoped for will be just as we've imagined. Buddhism warns of faulty hope, considering it a fluffed up looking version of fear. Faulty hope has fixed expectations, depends on external agencies and rests in the future rather than the present moment. It is hope with lots of attachments (that whisper quietly of possible disappointments). Are we willing to feel insecure without reacting, to be patient, and to stay in 'nowness'? Then all the enthusiasm and energy of the Eight of Wands can be used to meet any challenge as it comes.
Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. ~ Viktor Frankl

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Art of Creativity

From the Everyday Enchantment Tarot, the Magician; from the MentorSpirit Cards, 'Creativity:'
          This Magician knows there's a lot of perspiration that comes between his inspiration for a flower garden and the manifestation of it. It's easy to get caught up in the mental planning of things - imagining first what the end result will look like and then working backward to figure out the materials needed and the order of action. Daydreaming manifests great ideas but nothing concrete, so the Magician is willing to put in the effort too. Creativity is the ability to transcend the traditional in order to come up with new forms and ideas. It's easy to get wowed by the work of others and feel like we don't have a drop of originality or talent in us. But the Magician would tell us to just start digging and see what shape our wispy ideas take. Author Anne Lamott encourages us not to be afraid of shitty first drafts, as they are what grease the wheels of fresh, bold thinking. As cartoonist Scott Adams wrote, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

Monday, May 7, 2018

More than Chaos

From the Everyday Enchantment Tarot, the Empress; from the MentorSpirit Cards, 'Understanding:'
          Walk into the home of the Empress, and one will be met with a chaotic collection of noise, color, and activity. There are scattered blocks and Play Dough on the counter, a dog and kid running pell-mell through the house, and a box of opened crayons on the floor. Look closer and one will see happy faces and hear laughter; there are bouquets of flowers in many rooms, and the smell of something delicious cooking in the oven. Here there is the freedom to create and be oneself, but mostly there is love. Understanding suggests tolerance because of the ability to comprehend a situation on a deeper level than just the surface. It goes beyond labels and expectations - it is the skill to see things with clarity. So when the baby starts whining, the Empress realizes he's not a brat but teething. When the daughter knocks over her glass of milk, she can discern she is just excited to tell her mom about her day at kindergarten. Yes, there is disorder and at times pandemonium, but there's a whole lot of kindness too.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Receptive and Respectful

This week I'll be drawing from the Everyday Enchantment Tarot, a set created by Poppy Palin and published by Red Feather. The oracle I'll be using is MentorSpirit, created by Kathy Tyler with Joy Drake and published by InnerLinks Associates. Today's cards are the High Priestess and 'Respect:'
          A young Goth gal relaxes in an urban setting, sharing the night with other nocturnal creatures. A puddle beside her reflects the moon but is not the moon itself; it suggests that the heart of spiritual awakening lies in being with our experience rather than intellectual efforts (words are only a 'finger pointing at the moon'). Meditation allows her to watch her own thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. Contemplation lets her ponder questions that open previously closed doors in her mind. The knowledge she receives from her look within will be written or drawn in her journals. The Respect card suits this rendition of the High Priestess well - how many people would judge and dismiss her simply because of her looks and youth? Hermann Hesse wrote, "We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other's opposite and complement." No one grows beyond their comfortable cocoons without encountering someone who is different from them. Those who teach us best are generally those who can help us look at other viewpoints and consider ideas that diverge from our own.