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

Friday, February 22, 2019

Verification

From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Ace of Swords; from the Blum/Gern Rune Cards, 'Nauthiz/Constraint:'
The Panda spends up to fourteen hours a day eating to stay healthy. Likewise, sometimes we have to consume a lot of knowledge to find the information we need. The Nauthiz Rune of Constraint suggests this is not going to be as simple as a Google search. We must make sure of two things in our quest for information. The first is that we validate the source and the information we are drawing from; just because it is in print or on the internet does not make it true. The second is that we need to look at our object of study from all sides, without letting our preferences and prejudices determine the type of information we study. There's a big difference between wanting to find the truth and wanting to verify our opinions.

Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. ~Bertrand Russell



Thursday, February 21, 2019

Landscaping

From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Seven of Swords; from the Blum/Gern Rune Cards, 'Berkano/Growth:'

This ferret suggests deception is not always a bad trait. But before I start rationalizing my plans and actions along that line of thinking, I should ask myself a question: Is this helpful and kind or selfish and hurtful? If I'm the only beneficiary, then likely it falls into the second category. I recently omitted some information to a friend who was going in for a burn debridement; I thought knowing the pain she would endure would ultimately create anxiety and more pain. Was it the right thing to do? The edge of that sword is a tricky place on which to balance. The Berkano Rune deals with birth and growth and makes me pause to consider what seeds my thoughts and actions are planting that will sprout and mature. My choices will ultimately shape the landscape of my reality.

It is as though we are all artists, but instead of canvas and paint, or marble or music, as our medium, our very bodies, minds, and life experience are the materials of our creative expression.
—Joseph Goldstein

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Accountability

From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Emperor; from the Blum/Gern Rune Cards, 'Mannaz/Self:'
The Emperor, both feared and admired, seems to have a cushy job with lots of benefits. Yet this is a biased opinion if he sincerely embraces the job. In the words of John Cumming, "wherever there is great power, lofty position, there is great responsibility, and a call to instant duty." He might be the face of his kingdom, but he also takes the hits to protect his people. The key to good leadership is not fear and intimidation, but strength in its many forms - compassion, concern, right timing, and right action. The companion book asks the question: "How does one keep the ego at bay while being of service to those around you?" The Rune Mannaz helps answer that query. Mannaz recognizes that humankind has great potential with its intellectual and reasoning capabilities. But it seeks to propel people beyond self-centered concerns to the Self - an inner recognition that we are all connected. What we do affects the whole, collectively enhancing or degrading the human experience.

We are a profoundly interconnected species, as the global economic and ecological crises reveal in vivid and frightening detail. We must embrace the simple fact that we are dependent on and accountable to one another. ~Parker Palmer


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Breaking Out

From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Queen of Wands; from the Blum/Gern Rune Cards, 'Hagalaz/Disruption:'
The lioness surveys her surroundings, possibly looking for the next meal. The wildlife channels on television usually show a group of female lions working together to bring down an animal. What they leave out is how many times they try and fail. She encourages us with the reminder that it doesn't matter how many times we get it wrong, it is about our perseverance in reaching the goal and what we learn along the way. Her fiery temperament goads us to quit sulking and get moving. The Rune Hagalaz is a revolution that won't be stopped. It involves events beyond human control, but it is also known as the 'awakener.' It liberates us from linear thinking and straight line movement and requires us to see from a wider, more inclusive perspective. It may feel like loss or failure, but Hagalaz is the egg tooth that will break us out from our enclosed shells.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Evolving Faith?

From the Animal Totem Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Blum/Gern Rune Cards, 'Eihwaz/Defense:'
The polar bear's message (from the companion book) states: "The world in which I live is changing fast. It is no longer as safe and reliable as it once was. The signs of this unstoppable change are all around me. But despite this, I must have faith." But is this a faith that holds onto tradition like a sinking lifeboat? Or is it a faith that evolves and adapts? I have to agree with Richard Rohr who said, "Religion tends to prefer and protect the status quo or the supposedly wonderful past, yet what we now see is that religion often simply preserves its own power and privilege." And that rigid power and privilege harm more than they heal. The Rune Eihwaz is about dealing with problems rather than bulldozing over them. Blum adds, "through inconvenience and discomfort, growth is promoted." Change will happen whether we close our eyes and minds to it or not. The best defense is in learning how to adapt to reality when we find we are powerless to change it.

According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. Applying this theoretical concept to us as individuals, we can state that the civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral, and spiritual environment in which it finds itself.
Leon C. Megginson


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Running Toward Wholeness

This week I'll be using the Animal Totem Tarot, created by Eugene Smith with a companion book by Leeza Robertson; the set was published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the Blum/Gern Rune Cards created by Ralph Blum and illustrated by Gabrielle Gern with publishing by Connections. These were originally sold as the set The Rune Cards: Sacred Play for Self-discovery, but since I just have the cards, I'll be using Blum's The Book of Runes as a companion text. Today's draws are the Eight of Wands and 'Initiation/Perth:'
You can almost feel the excitement as this horse runs at a flat-out gallop. The red-ribboned wands that speed before him emphasize this movement is passion-driven. The companion book adds that this is how it feels to be full of inspiration and encourages me to "break free from all things that tie you down." As a woman who always seems to have a plateful of responsibilities, this seems easier said than done. But perhaps for just a day... The Rune of Perth represents something hidden; Blum states that it involves "deep inner transformational forces" that are at work to create wholeness. Such inner work can require some time apart from day to day entanglements. The labyrinth in the card suggests there will be a weaving in and out that may at times seem like moving away instead of toward that wholeness, but as long as I keep moving, I'll find that center.
I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.
Audre Lorde

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Be Brave

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Six of Swords; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the 'Sun:'
I was an adult before I realized poster-like maps of the world were inaccurate. It's problematic to transfer a three-dimensional curved surface to a flat one; most flat maps stretch what is in the northern and southern parts of the globe to fill in gaps to make a more elegant looking, usable map. The Six of Swords is the moment when we realize our thinking has been faulty, that perhaps we've accepted ideas that were skewed towards a certain 'truth.' We then begin the process of leaving behind those inaccuracies. The Sun card from the Lenormand deck represents energy, illumination, and achievement. We may not have the full 360-degree perspective yet, but we're moving in the right direction.
Be brave and take accountability for your thoughts and beliefs.
~Jennifer Hyman

Friday, February 15, 2019

Red vs. Blue

From the Tyldwick Tarot, Temperance; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the 'Bear:'
          The painting in this card is the goddess Iris, who watered the clouds with ocean water from her pitcher. She was a personification of the rainbow and a messenger between heaven and earth. Cloaked in red and blue, Iris represents a balance of passion and logic. Though we all have a rainbow of emotions (our passionate side), it benefits us to use an equal dose of reason with them. Neither the head nor the heart is a perfect navigator on its own, but together they are stronger and wiser than they are separate (a mix of common sense and compassion). The Bear from the Lenormand cards represents strength and resources. Many people prefer to follow their heart while others prefer their mind, but the Bear reminds us that both these resources are needed.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart. ― Joy Harjo

Thursday, February 14, 2019

First Things First

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Star; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the 'Tower:'
The fountain spout in this card is inset into the shape a hexagram, an alchemical symbol uniting fire and water (which represents transmutation). After the crash of the Tower (the card before the Star), an alteration is definitely needed in body, mind, and spirit. The Greek wine jug that catches the water shows the figure of Dionysus front and center. The god of wine suggests a time to relax, rest, and recuperate before dealing with our next challenge. The Lenormand Tower (unlike the tarot card by the same name) can symbolize a multitude of things, from boundaries or ambitions to corporations or government. This particular card shows the construction of the Eiffel Tower, so it seems 'ambitions' might be a fitting keyword. When we have had a setback and then begin feeling better again, it's tempting to want to jump back into the fray. But the Star reminds us not to put the cart before the horse; first, we need to heal, then we can grab our toolbelts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Living with Loss

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Three of Swords; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the 'Key:'
If no one will listen to my sad story, I can tell it to myself in my head, over and over, and feel sorry for myself, and so have an identity as someone who is being treated unfairly by life or other people, fate or God. It gives definition to my self-image, makes me into someone, and that is all that matters to the ego. Eckhart Tolle 

At first glance, this might look like a nice stone cottage, but look closer and you will notice the window has been bricked up. It is normal to love and then grieve when we lose what we love, yet that grief can consume us and become an identity we take on. When life consists of nothing more than our cloak of self-pity, we imprison our mind and heart. It offers self-indulgence but no lasting comfort. The Lenormand Key suggests there is a solution that will offer a breakthrough, an epiphany that will bring in some much-needed light. Part of that realization is understanding we have abandoned our power to choose and take responsibility for our own life. When we accept our power, we will see the wisdom in the words of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: "Acceptance is not about liking a situation. It is about acknowledging all that has been lost and learning to live with that loss." Sounds like my 2019 word of the year - resilience.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fortitude of Tongue and Pen

From the Tyldwick Tarot, Fortitude (Strength); from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the 'Letter:'
The concrete head of a lion peeks out from a crumbling garden wall, while a little wren sits on the edge of a stagnant pool. When certainties and securities begin to crumble away or when people don't act the way they're 'supposed' to behave, it's easy for our inner lion to want to roar and strike out. But the little wren (realizing it's impossible to know what is going on deep in the murky waters of other people or situations) will loudly sing its truth without adding anything toxic to the water. The Lenormand Letter represents any type of written communication. Sometimes when emotions are running high, what needs to be said gets twisted by anger, fear or sadness. Writing or typing can allow us to preview what will be sent, taking out what is unnecessary (strong feelings that will likely only distract from the message) and leaving in what is important.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Mental Stagnation

From the Tyldwick Tarot, the Ten of Swords; from the Antiquarian Lenormand, the 'Ring:'

The straight edge razor, blood smear on the wall, and the note left on the desk all point to suicide in this card. Yet this is not a literal suicide, but a mental checkmate. Strategies, knowledge and creative problem solving have been applied with no effect. Self-will has gotten us nowhere. Yet as Zen Master Bon Soeng explains, hitting rock bottom can be a good thing: "What we know blocks the truth. Returning to not knowing opens us up." An 'empty' mind is as vast as the sky and holds endless possibilities and potentials. The Lenormand Ring points to a commitment and partnership. When we surrender our tightly held beliefs, we can open to the ideas of others (especially someone with more experience and wisdom in the area we are struggling in). Input from others keeps our mental streams fresh and prevents stagnation.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Creative Scheduling

This week I'll be using the Tyldwick Tarot, created and self-published by Neil Lovell (who unexpectedly passed away August 2018). I'll also be using the Antiquarian Lenormand, created and self-published by Maree Bento. Today's draws are the Empress and the 'Mountain:'

          Front and center of this garden is a statue based on an ancient statue of Artemis in Ephesus. The temple of the original statue was located a short distance from the city, as Artemis was thought to preside over boundaries, wild vegetation, animals, and nature in general. While the Greek Artemis was predominately seen as the goddess of the hunt, the Ephesus Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured draped with eggs from her waist to her shoulders. Artemis was a virgin goddess, however, and protected the chastity of others and herself. She was no one's baby mama. She seems to ask, in this lush garden of giant oaks and roses, what we are passionate about creating. The Lenormand card shows a mountain, a symbol of a major obstacle or blockage to our goal. Together with the Empress, it suggests that carving time out of a hectic, over-packed schedule for doing what we love will require some creativity in itself.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Strange Need

From the Brady Tarot, the Five of Arrows (Swords); from the African American Wisdom Knowledge Cards, 'Derek Walcott:'
          An emaciated polar bear that has been shot full of arrows nears death. Humans are much like animals; we will territorially defend whatever we think someone is encroaching on, and many times that something is simply a set of beliefs. Are we willing to lose everything because we are so sure that we are completely right and the other side completely wrong? Do we think being openminded is a sign of weakness? Derek Walcott, a poet, playwright, and professor, received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. The quote on this card is a red flag that reminds us that sometimes we don't realize what we loved until it is broken. And unlike vases, not all relationships can be glued back together.
The need to be right, and by extension, to control people, situations, and outcomes, regularly obstructs the ability to be happy—insofar as happiness is a function of contentment and peace of mind, also known as serenity.  — Dan Mager

Friday, February 8, 2019

Play the One String

From the Brady Tarot, the Ten of Horns (Cups); from the African American Wisdom Knowledge Cards, 'James Earl Jones:'
          A person usually hears the rattling call of a belted kingfisher before this bird is spotted. The kingfisher sits atop a wire or branch and watches the water below. Once a fish or other aquatic animal is spotted, the bird makes an astonishing dive into the water after it. Their diving action is a good analogy for not waiting around for life to fulfill us. It fits the advice children are often given: "If you want a friend, be a friend." The objects below the rainbow are Hupa carved antler spoons. The booklet suggests that the different spoons represent the different parts of our life that happiness comes from, rather than one specific person or thing. James Earl Jones has one of the most well-known and beloved voices in the acting world. Who would have dreamed that he began life with a pronounced stutter? Although it took several years, he overcame his impediment through poetry, public speaking, and acting. The message of these cards brings to mind the words of Charles Swindoll:

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Swift Change

From the Brady Tarot, the Eight of Feathers (Wands); from the African American Wisdom Knowledge Cards, 'Sojourner Truth:'
          The gyrfalcon (Jer-falcon), the largest falcon in the world, is a fierce predator in the Arctic. It plummets to the ground at speeds up to 130 mph to catch prey unaware. The Eight of Feathers/Wands is about swift culmination; if we don't want to end up as surprised as this ground squirrel, then advance preparations need to be in place. Sojourner Truth was a slave who escaped to freedom in 1826 then spent her life crusading for the end of slavery and equal rights for all. She chastised the abolitionist movement who seemed focused on achieving civil rights victories for black men, leaving both white and black women without suffrage and other key political rights. Sojourner refused to be delicate and demure because she realized fierceness would be needed in creating such change. When change is afoot, sometimes it requires a transformation of attitude and stance as well.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
― Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Colors of Truth

From the Brady Tarot, the Ace of Arrows (Swords); from the African American Wisdom Knowledge Cards, 'Chinua Achebe:'
          This Ace looks like a live totem pole made up of an owl and cougar, both which have excellent nocturnal vision. Because they were the only two animals who were able to stay awake for the seven nights of Creation, the Cherokee have a special regard for the owl and cougar, considering them the carriers of truth and reality. This card is a challenge to look with clear awareness to see beyond what seems true to what is actually true. Chinua Achebe, an author and professor, recalls reading books in his youth that pitted white men against 'savages' (Africans). He wrote, "The white man was good and reasonable and intelligent and courageous. The savages arrayed against him were sinister and stupid..." He would later realize that these books were written by white men. As a result, he decided that he would write books that illustrated a deeper understanding of what real life was like for someone with black skin. How do we perceive a truth that lies beyond assumptions and tightly held beliefs? Tara Brach writes:

There are two ways of paying attention that begin to clear away the illusion of our beliefs and loosen their grip. The first is inquiry — bringing interest and the attentive, laser-like quality of the mind to penetrate through the layers of the belief — and the second is mindfulness — meeting what arises with a quality of full, embodied presence.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Without Bargaining

From the Brady Tarot, Death; from the African American Wisdom Knowledge Cards, 'Frederick Douglass:'
The real treasure begins in the breaking. The body breaks, things change, life ends. Only when impermanence is fully apprehended do we really have the chance to serve, to give without bargaining. —Bonnie Myotai Treace 

It is a law of the physical world that whatever is born or created will eventually break, fall apart or die. The hourglass of life is glued to the table; nothing will flip it over. Everyone knows this in their heads, yet our heart resists. But acceptance allows us to focus on what is important, not the personal opinions and diatribes that waste so many of our days. Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became a prominent figure in the abolitionist movement. As a slave, he taught himself to read; he later became an eloquent speaker and famous author. Even after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, he continued to advocate for human rights, including the right of women to vote. He would likely agree that we should make our life count rather than count on life to provide us with happiness.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. — William James


Monday, February 4, 2019

Thank Yous

From the Brady Tarot, the World; from the African American Wisdom Knowledge Cards, 'Willie Mays:'

          Feathers (wands), horns (cups), roots (pentacles) and an arrow (swords) are all woven together in this picture. To find fulfillment and reach completion, we need to make use of all of our resources, not just our favorites. The cracked egg hints that what has been concluded also marks the start of a new journey. Willie Mays was a 'five-tool player' - he was a power hitter, had a high batting average, and could run, throw and field well. Though he was a legend, the quote on this card is his acknowledgment that Robinson paved the way by breaking through the color barrier in baseball. Robinson's tenacity in playing well while dealing with racism at its worst gave others like Mays hope that they too could play in the majors. At the culmination of any achievement, there will always be those who deserve our thanks and recognition.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Pent-up Tension

This week I'll be using the Brady Tarot, created and self-published by Emi Brady with a companion booklet by Rachel Pollack. The second deck I'll be using is the African American Wisdom Knowledge Cards, compiled and illustrated by Bob Johnson and Mary Margolies with publishing through Pomegranate. Today's draws are the Nine of Feathers (Wands) and 'Miriam Makeba:'
          A Costa female hummingbird stops sipping nectar from a saguaro cactus and attacks a male who was simply flying over. The booklet states that those who've had to defend themselves over a long period of time usually become tense and worn-out. Hair-trigger reactions are the result, producing a backlash that doesn't match the provocation (that likely wasn't meant as a challenge in the first place). Our bodies and minds aren't meant to be on high-alert forever, and we often pay a steep price for maintaining such a state. Miriam Makeba was born in South Africa and worked as a teen under the harsh conditions of apartheid. Her participation in the anti-apartheid film Come Back, Africa, made her world famous but also got her exiled from her homeland for 31 years. She continued her singing career, testified at the United Nations about South Africa, was active in the civil rights movement, and campaigned for humanitarian causes as a U.N. ambassador. Instead of stirring the pot of her pain and fear, she used it to create knowledge of injustices and channeled it into acts of goodwill - a much better use for pent-up tension. 


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Twisted Logic

From the Touchstone Tarot, the Seven of Swords; from the Waterhouse Oracle, 'The Danaides:'

          This fellow has a bit of a smug Mona Lisa smile. He's happy that he's managed to swipe some swords from a battle camp. Maybe (since he looks well dressed) he'll use them to boast about adventures he never had. In his mind, he can justify the theft by telling himself he only took a few of many. The Danaides show the eternal punishment of forty-nine sisters who killed their husbands on their wedding night as ordered by their father (the fiftieth sister let her husband go). Their father didn't want his properties to be taken by his brother (whose sons were the fifty husbands). Both these cards are warnings about rationalization - trying to make reality fit our desires. Either we justify our actions or make them seem as if they are not so bad. Though we may conceal our motives, the fallout from our actions will eventually uncover them.

Friday, February 1, 2019

No Shortcuts

From the Touchstone Tarot, the Knight of Coins; from the Waterhouse Oracle, 'Consulting the Oracle:'
          Black describes this knight as "The Plodder." Yes, he is methodical and detail-oriented, but he is also reliable and diligent. If you want things done right (rather than simply fast), he's your guy. The entire Consulting the Oracle painting shows the seer the other women have come to see and hear. Some seem to be desperately listening to her words, perhaps looking for a magical solution to their problems. Others seem to hang back and weigh what is said; they may seek guidance, but they don't abdicate responsibility. As the Knight of Coins would endorse, they believe there are no shortcuts when it comes to doing a good job or life in general.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. 
~ Beverly Sills