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

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Walk Humbly

This week I'll be using the Tarot of the Masters, created and self-published by James Ricklef. (I'll also be referring to Ricklef's Tarot Affirmations book.) The oracle deck I'll be using is The Key to the Kingdom, a transformational cards and booklet set created by Tony Meeuwissen and published by Running Press. Today's draws are Justice and the 'Joker:'
          Lady Justice sits with the sword of truth and right action in one hand and the scales of balance and discernment in the other. Looking at this card, a verse from the prophet Micah popped into my head when he told the people what was expected of them: "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Justice is balanced with mercy and humility. Part of being humble means I realize that it is nearly impossible not to let my beliefs and opinions influence any decisions I make. My stuff will always have an effect on how I perceive the world. Perhaps that's why we need mercy too. The Joker is paired with verses written by Mary Howitt. A spider invites a fly into its parlor in a friendly way, but the fly knows its motives and doesn't accept the invitation. Should the spider be punished? He only acted as nature created him after all. Both these cards remind me that if I know who I'm dealing with (and it is someone untrustworthy), I shouldn't want revenge if I get involved and then taken advantage of. Would the fly think it could outsmart the spider once it was in its web? My energy would be better used to warn others away and expose this person.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


From the Songs for the Journey Home, the Five of Flames (Wands); from the Raven Cards, 'Bind your wounds:'
           A fault line opens; on one side a volcano erupts while on the other side a woman sleeps. Ever had an argument that resulted in an anger hangover? Yet there is a good chance the other party involved slept deeply and didn't think too much more about it. The owl sees the wisdom in 'letting it be' rather than continuing to rehash and ruminate. The Raven card suggests we 'bind our wounds,' meaning we realize that what has been hurt is only our pride. The ego is concerned with being right all the time, but the Raven card reminds us that our 'innermost being' cannot be hurt. My opinions (and my demand they be accepted as truth) are not what make me a worthy person, but rather my acts of kindness.
History has shown that the most terrible crimes against love have been committed in the name of fanatically defended doctrines. ― Paul Tillich

Friday, September 28, 2018


From the Songs for the Journey Home Tarot, the Ten of Waves (Cups); from the Raven Cards, 'Wellspring:'

          The eggs and the succession of swan pairs made me think of karma. Karma in the mainstream is generally thought to be something negative - be mean and it will boomerang back to you. My understanding is that karma is the process by which our past intentional actions influence what we experience and do in the present, and how in the present they influence our future. These karmic seeds (habits) produce karmic fruit, such as connection and kindness or separation and cruelty. If we become aware of our tendencies that aren't beneficial or positive, we can change them and our future. Yet our intentional actions also affect generations to come. We can leave a legacy of love for others to follow or a heritage of hate for others to endure. Our habits can be passed on even easier than an inheritance. The Raven card suggests that we 'go to the wellspring' - a source of continual supply. This is not something external but internal that is much wiser and more compassionate than our ego. It fills us with a beneficial living water that we can share.
What we all need to do is find the wellspring that keeps us going, that gives us the strength and patience to keep up this struggle for a long time. ~Winona LaDuke

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Life Preservers

From the Songs for the Journey Home Tarot, Wave Awakening (Knight of Cups); from the Raven Cards, 'Open up your heart:'
          Knights represent a highly charged enthusiasm for their particular suit, but unfortunately, the wisdom of how to use it is lacking. The Knight of Cups dives into the ocean of emotions over and over; he hasn't figured out the usefulness of a life jacket or that a flotation device to extend to others would be helpful. A large part of his worthiness is tied up into 'saving' others, though he can often need saving himself. He's got the first part of the Raven card down pat - 'Open up your heart' - but he needs to mature to understand what 'give your blessing' means. John O'Donohue writes that a blessing "suggests that no life is alone or unreachable" and that its purpose is to "embrace and elevate whatever is happening to someone." That means we compassionately commit to sit with someone's pain but not drown in it. Sinking in their sorrow would prevent us from 'elevating' the situation to a more positive, beneficial place. One day this Knight may learn most people don't need saving; they just need to know that there's someone who will hold their hand when life gets overwhelming.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Absolutely Unique

From Songs from the Journey Home Tarot, Flame Resolving (King of Wands); from the Raven Cards, 'Keep your beak shut:'

          The creators of the Songs deck state that the Kings represent wisdom and the ability to see with compassion one's personal strengths and weaknesses. What is the King of Wands strength? He knows how to inspire others, breathing into them passion like the glass blower's breath that helps form the vessels. But the Raven card warns that it would be smart to keep our beak shut and listen to our inner voice (that isn't controlled by the ego). This King of Wands has obviously done just that by not trying to shape people with his personal passion but allowing them to follow their own interests. Each glass piece takes its own unique shape instead of being manufactured with conformity in mind.
Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. 
~Margaret Mead

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Window Watching

From Songs for the Journey Home Tarot, Flame Innocence (Page of Wands); from the Raven Cards, 'You can't hold your breath:'

          A young lass looks longingly at the mountain landscape outside her window. She operates on instinct and is full of inquisitiveness, yet the closed gate and fence symbolize her lack of resources to go exploring. For now, she dreams, wonders and learns. She makes a promise to herself that one day she'll see what worlds lay beyond the mountains. The Raven card prods us not to just sit around pouting when our dreams are delayed ("You can't hold your breath."). There are plenty of adventures waiting in our own backyards, neighborhoods, and communities if we'll open our mind wider than our wishes. 
Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. ~Earl Nightingale

Monday, September 24, 2018

Family Dinners

From the Songs for the Journey Home Tarot, the Eight of Waves (Cups); from the Raven Cards, 'Respect your fear:'
           Doesn't this remind you of those holiday dinners and get-togethers with family, perhaps not literally but symbolically? We sit around with people we are supposed to feel connected to, but instead, we feel completely alienated and separated from them. While no one may actually leave the table, there is often the slamming sound of closed minds and hearts. Before pointing the finger of blame, the Ravens card suggests we look beneath our fear about feeling that we are not accepted or don't belong. Do we aggressively push our ideas or clam up and stew about another's closed mind? Perhaps it would be more beneficial to start a respectful discussion about why each person feels the way they do. Though people still may try to push their agendas, being an example of an alternative communication method couldn't hurt.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
~Nelson Mandela

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Serious Sally

This week I'll be using Songs for the Journey Home, a deck and book set created and self-published by Catherine Cook and Dwariko von Sommaruga. I'll also be using the Raven Cards, an oracle created by Gabi Bucker and published by AG Muller. Today's draws are the Fool and 'Treasure Trove:'
          While I'm not a 'Negative Nelly,' I definitely have days when I'm in 'Serious Sally' mode. Causes and conditions have shaped me since childhood to survive life, not enjoy it. Yet this Fool, swinging on a sapling from one side of the chasm to the other, reminds me that dealing with life on life's terms doesn't exclude extracting every ounce of delight and wonder out of it too. The divide between each side is only a mental construct, not reality. The Raven Card reads: "Your heart is a treasure trove - not some smelly sewer." What is it that I attend to and later reflect on as I move through the day? Do I dig up old resentments and worries, or do I remember and focus on the goodness in my life with gratitude? My focus will easily point to my treasure, and as Luke states, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The Fool would readily help me refill mine with things that expand my heart rather than contract it.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Be a Doubter

From the John Bauer Tarot, the Moon; from the Arthur Rackham Oracle, 'Confrontation:'
          A queen riding a moose is rather preposterous, which is why the lwb cautions us to look beyond our illusions. Moods, strong opinions and what we crave can distort what actually is in front of us. We may also allow others to influence us, invalidating what we think is the truth. The Confrontation card shows a battle between fairies and bats. Real bats can be lured to investigate a rock if it's thrown into the air. Perhaps their discernment is being twisted or manipulated by something as well. Yet rather than simply labeling what looks hard or challenging as 'bad' and what looks pleasant or fun as 'good,' we can lean in and see what is actually there. Pausing, we may get a chance to consider the long-term consequences rather than the immediate results. Doubting is not a vice; in the words of Peter Abelard, "It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognize the truth."

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sowing Passion

From the John Bauer Tarot, the Queen of Wands; from the Arthur Rackham Oracle, 'Stability:'
Purpose is adaptive, in an evolutionary sense. It helps both individuals and the species to survive.
Many seem to believe that purpose arises from your special gifts and sets you apart from other people—but that’s only part of the truth. It also grows from our connection to others, which is why a crisis of purpose is often a symptom of isolation. ~Jeremy A. Smith
          This Queen's purpose is to follow her passion, which includes encouraging others to follow theirs as well. When I was younger, there was a woman whose purpose seemed to be helping others see the good in themselves; she inspired us to look for the good in others and the world too. She did this in small but constant deeds and words rather than through anything flashy that would get her noticed. I like to think that all those she nurtured are like this Queen's field of flowers - blooming and producing little seeds of their own. Stability involves staying mostly in the middle rather than going to extremes. There is an American phrase that's been around for a while: "Go big or go home." It seems to encourage extravagance in order to make a difference. But as the Stability card reminds us, small acts of kindness are more sustainable and can make just as much a difference.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Looking Beyond

From the John Bauer Tarot, the Two of Wands; from the Arthur Rackham Oracle, 'Discovery' (A Midsummer Night's Dream):
          The Bauer lwb suggests the phrase "look beyond what you know" for this Two of Wands. It can feel comfortable and safe to stick with the ideas and knowledge we have; a need for security might keep us from peering over our own wall. Yet the Discovery card insists that there is more out there that will broaden and enliven our narrow world, even though it means enduring some hardships to find it. The Buddha as Gautama Siddhartha lived a luxurious lifestyle as a prince. Had he not ventured beyond the safety of this opulence, he would have never experienced the immense suffering in the world and had his moment of awakening. What is waiting beyond our wall?
No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience.
~John Locke

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Stand Where You Are

From the John Bauer Tarot, the Knight of Pentacles (Swedish Folk Tales - The Ring); from the Arthur Rackham Oracle, 'Ascension' (A Midsummer Night's Dream):
Stand where you are;
We let all these moments pass us by.
          This Knight pauses and turns from the direction he is headed; the lwb book suggests taking the time to pay close attention. The lyrics from "Life is Beautiful" (above) are also a reminder that we can be in such a hurry to get to our destination, we forget to be where we are. The card Ascension means to rise above, implying a need for clarity and perspective about our problems. But if we are unaware of the ground we've covered and clueless about where the root of the problem lies, we'll continue to think that we just need to mow the top of it. It will continue to grow back, and we'll continue to try and keep it cut down. Yet taking the time to stop as the Knight does and really look closely, we might discover how to dig it up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lighting the Way

From the John Bauer Tarot, the Sun (Among Gnomes and Trolls); from the Arthur Rackham Oracle, 'Courage' (A Midsummer Night's Dream):
          A young man travels with a large sack on a sunny day. The Bauer lwb suggests this is a time for optimism as progress is being made. Sure it's rather warm, but what's been bagged has made this journey worth it, and he's surely learned much along his journey. This fellow's discovered nothing is acquired or kept without effort, and he now understands what makes the effort worthwhile. The Courage card shows a wee lass (who looks like a strong breeze might blow her down) watching from a hill. Outwardly, she seems tiny, but her heart is not. Buddhist teacher Lin Jensen once told a student who complained of fear, "If it keeps hanging around, it might have something to tell you." She took his advice, and instead of trying to rid herself of her fears, she decided to befriend them. She found that most were no longer scary and a few were warranted (like walking alone late at night). She told him, "I wanted courage, and I found out that there is no courage without fear. You don’t get one without the other." The clarity of the Sun often shows the truth when we shine the light in those dark corners.

Monday, September 17, 2018


From the John Bauer Tarot, the Knight of Chalices (Into the Wide World); from the Arthur Rackham Oracle, 'Futility (Peer Gynt):'
          This young Knight of Chalices pauses to look at the geese as they move gracefully across the sky. He probably noticed them because he was cloud-watching. He is prone to stop and smell the roses, listen to the breeze in the tops of the trees, feel the softness of a patch of clover and taste the sweet berries he spies growing in the briers. His senses are automatically drawn to what is beautiful, pleasing and awe-inspiring. The only problem is his pauses can stretch from a moment to hours as he contemplates and dreams (His mom the Queen is probably at the dining table wondering, "Where is that boy!?"). The Futility card speaks of chasing an illusion, similar to the young boy getting lost in his world of daydreams. There is nothing wrong with fantasy - it is often the producer of great art and imaginative solutions. But it can be tempting to want to stay there, far away from the noise and rush of day-to-day life. As Steven Furtick put it, "The difference between a vision and a daydream is the audacity to act."

Sunday, September 16, 2018

There's No "I" in Team

This week I'll be using the John Bauer Tarot published by Lo Scarabeo; Bauer's art was edited by Pietro Alligo and the lwb written by Jaymi Elford. I'll also be drawing from the Arthur Rackham Oracle, created and self-published by Doug Thornsjo of Duck Soup. Today's cards are the Four of Wands (from The Troll's Ride) and 'Shadow' (from The Goose Girl)
          In a dark forest, a young man rides at full tilt with a smaller figure barely hanging on to the rump of the horse. If this were a rescue, the illustration might represent victory by the skin of one's teeth. The booklet suggests 'homecoming' as a keyword, implying a happy reunion. The Shadow card shows a woman herding geese with a shadow watching on the wall. Geese are notorious for being aggressive sentries, so for them to be oblivious to the shadowy presence says a lot. This card indicates something important (and harmful) is being overlooked. Together with the Four of Wands, it might be that one person is taking credit for a success that actually belongs to many people. It would more beneficial (and humble) to take Isaac Newton's attitude: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Finding Our Way

From the Shadowscapes Tarot, the Fool; from the Cedar Runes, 'Othila:'
          A fox watches a woman as she stands on tiptoe, preparing to take a dive below. He does nothing to stop her from falling because she needs to experience life in order to learn. She will learn of joy and pain and of goodwill and aggression. She must find her way by discovering what she values as well as her purpose. It will be a life-long roller coaster ride. While the rune Othila is generally translated as 'estate,' Travers suggests that it may also refer to ancestral influences. Every human picks up traits learned from their family. And though these may be imprinted deeply in us, we still can choose how to deal with them. Hopefully, as we get older, we stop blindly accepting them and begin to question if these qualities will take us down the road we want to travel.
Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, September 14, 2018

Worth Fighting For

From the Shadowscapes Tarot, the Seven of Wands; from the Cedar Runes, 'Tiwaz:'
          A mother fox defends her cubs from a badger. Humans are probably the most dangerous when we are defending what we love. When that defense is founded on principles and values (like the safety of our home and family), it is a worthy cause. Sometimes the fight is simply over opinions and well-worn traditions, which tends to be more about emotion than doing the right thing for the right reason. Tiwaz is a rune connected to the 'shining god' (Tyr), who sacrificed a hand for others. The arrow points the way to success, but it depends on taking the path of right action and a willingness to make rational sacrifices.
Civilization is not saved by the mere purging of one’s heart, but by the work of one’s hands. The forces of destruction must be met, each according to its kind, by the forces of deliverance. The crucial test of such a principle of life is afforded by the presence of a danger which threatens others, whom one may be pledged to serve, or some larger good extending beyond the limits of one’s personal life.  Strength without high purpose is soulless and brutal; purpose without strength is unreal and impotent. ~Ralph Barton Perry

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Skillful Communication

From the Shadowscapes Tarot, the King of Swords; from the Cedar Runes, 'Laguz:'
          Moore describes this King of Swords as a warrior who is "a pillar of strength and morality." There is a fine line between the laws of justice and the moral parameters a government places around its citizens. With a diverse group of people, it is impossible to satisfy everyone; rarely is everyone listened to equally. Laguz is the rune associated with water, an element that can provide sustenance and growth in the right measure, and destruction in its extreme forms (drought or flood). What is the right measure of ethical law that would be fair to everyone? Krista Tippett wrote, "You can disagree with another person's opinions. You can disagree with their doctrines. You can't disagree with their experience. And once I have a sense of your experience, you and I are in a relationship, acknowledging the complexity in each other's position, listening less guardedly. The difference in our opinions will probably remain intact, but it no longer defines what is possible between us." How about a law for all government officials that requires attentive listening and learning and less talking?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Wide Plain

From the Shadowscapes Tarot, the Sun; from the Cedar Runes, 'Berkano:'
           The Sun brings clarity and wakefulness, not just on a mundane level, but a spiritual one as well. Understanding dawns; vision and purpose become clear. Such an awakening can create an energetic response full of confidence. Berkano, the rune of the birch tree, suggests birth and new ventures. Birch trees are considered a pioneer species, rapidly colonizing open ground after a disturbance or fire. Yet young sprouts and saplings need protection in order to grow. Travers states that this is also a rune of incubation, allowing time for things to mature. While the inclination may be to ride full tilt with plans on the wing, it may be prudent to spend some time planning and preparing oneself first.
Strange, that some of us, with quick alternative vision, see beyond our infatuations, and even while we rave on the heights, behold the wide plain where our persistent self pauses and awaits us.
― George Eliot,

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Knowledge is Power

From the Shadowscapes Tarot, the Page of Pentacles; from the Cedar Runes, 'Fehu:'
          A young lass sits atop a rock studying the sleeping dragon below. This Page is often known as a scholar; perhaps she is like me, a student of the Earth and all its inhabitants. Studying something through careful observation can expand one's knowledge too. As Eric Alan points out: "I’ve come to believe that all wisdom, including wisdom that’s beyond our perception, is contained in nature in almost a holographic way. You can often find the largest lessons coded within the smallest vistas. There’s no answer I’ve sought in which I didn’t find nature had some relevant wisdom embedded in it for me to find." Fehu is often considered the rune of prosperity because of its association with gold and livestock. However, both the Norwegian and Icelandic Rune Poems suggest there is a downside - "Gold is the strife of kinsman." When the 'haves' flaunt or intimidate with their wealth and power, it's easy to figure out why this may cause problems with the 'have-nots.' In adding the tarot card's meaning with this rune, it seems that knowledge could also be a power lorded over others. However, the Old English Rune Poem suggests redistribution as a way to even things out - teach what you know.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Stormy Thoughts

From the Shadowscapes Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the Cedar Runes, 'Uruz:'
          The vortex of a storm swirls, and birds circle as if they were vultures looking for a meal. The storm and birds are symbols of this fellow's anxiety and fear of the future. The swords tattooed across his chest represent all the bad decisions he has made, and his guilt consumes him to the point of being incapable of action. Uruz has two meanings: the Anglo-Saxon poem speaks of the strength of huge oxen and the Norwegian poem tells of the slag that can make iron impure. Together these draws suggest looking at our assets (ox) and our liabilities (slag) when life goes sideways. If we only focus on our mistakes, we miss recognizing the resources and strengths we have to help ourselves regain our footing. Accepting and being aware of both the sides of ourselves can allow us to make better choices.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Seek and Find

This week I'll be using the Shadowscapes book and deck set published by Llewellyn. The artwork is done by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and the book is written by Barbara Moore. I'll also be drawing from a set of Cedar Runes made by AlaskaLaserMaidThe Serpent and the Eagle by Chris Travers will serve as an accompanying text. Today's draws are the Knight of Cups and 'Gebo:'
          With a pure heart, this Knight of Cups rides a unicorn in search of the Holy Grail. The grail's legend begins with the last supper of Jesus. The cup was given to his grand-uncle, St. Joseph of Arimathea, who provided a burial chamber for the body of Jesus. Joseph was imprisoned in a similar rock tomb and left to starve, but the grail provided him with sustenance for several years until he escaped. He took the grail to a castle where it was guarded. The tale picks up with the story of King Arthur's knights, who go in search of the cup. According to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, the grail would cure the ills of anyone who touched or looked on it. Haven't humans searched for centuries - using religion, science, and material things - for a way to make themselves whole? Perhaps the flaw is in thinking we need something external to heal what is internal. Gebo is generally translated as 'gift.' Yet Travers explains that this gift is given to someone whose friendship has been relied on in the past, and what is given is what is needed. These are gifts that create bonds and deepen a relationship, given from the heart rather than from obligation. The Knight may eventually realize the message of the grail sounds much like the words of St. Francis Assisi: "Grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love."

Saturday, September 8, 2018


From the Navigators of the Mystic Sea, the Lovers; from the Celtic Lenormand, 'Clover:'
          Turk's idea behind the Lovers card is finding that missing part of ourselves that we've ignored or overlooked. Most of us get so caught up in work, taking care of others or concentrating on other pursuits that we lose a slice of ourselves. Watch those who are newly retired, find themselves with an empty nest or who can no longer pursue certain interests. Suddenly a new space opens up, and they have a choice about how they will spend their time. They have a chance to get reacquainted with themselves. The Clover card refers to a small bit of luck that we can use as an opportunity if we act on it. Of course, if we're so busy focusing on what is missing, we may neglect the chance to take advantage of the favorable circumstances in front of us. The trick is to remind ourselves what we can control and use that as our springboard. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Living It

From the Navigators of the Mystic Sea Tarot, the Fool; from the Celtic Lenormand, the 'Man:'
          The Fool has been assigned the keyword 'emanation,' something that comes from a source (the spiritual into the material). For those who are religious, this might be an incarnation from a heavenly plane; for others, it might simply be something brought into the world out of love. The Fool's focus is to explore the joys and delights of his new physical surroundings, learning through both mistakes and progress. He is a reminder that 'matter matters;' we must have the real world to learn such values as compassion, forgiveness, temperance, and other spiritual principles. The Man card from the Celtic Lenormand shows a fellow with a tool, emphasizing the masculine characteristic of action. Both these cards suggest a line from AA's basic text: "The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it." This Earth is not sinful or evil, rather it is the crucible through which we can wholly develop our potential.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Dreams and Choreographing

From the Navigators of the Mystic Sea Tarot, the Moon; from the Celtic Lenormand, the 'Cross:'
          Turk's Moon seems like a bizarre dream: an owl over a moon that has turned into a bleeding uterus; a harp with strings crossed like a loom; a woman with a vessel as a part of her head; and a monkey handmaiden. The open vessel is like the mind that takes in information during the day and leaks information through the unconscious at night as we dream. The booklet mentions an oscillation in one's emotional state that causes mood changes that don't always fit the circumstances. Kathleen Dowling Singh writes:
No matter how savvy and independent and self-controlled we may presume ourselves to be, without mindfulness, chaos is what we discover when we begin to look under the hood. Chaos is replete with tension, with ruses, with exhausting attempts to keep the self [ego] safe and to choreograph circumstances to optimize illusory promises of happiness or to sidestep all that we do not want. All of our efforts in this regard are futile.
No wonder humans have such weird dreams. The Cross from the Celtic Lenormand implies a spiritual burden of sorts. McCracken writes that this can represent an engaged approach to morals and ethics: "you have to think about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what the consequences might be." While such an approach might be considered a hardship, it is at least more liberating than letting the ego hold the reins.