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

Monday, July 29, 2019

Mind Games

From the Deirdre of Sorrows Tarot, the Five of Coins; from the Victorian Flower Oracle, 'Honeysuckle:'
          Barefoot with just a satchel under her arm, this woman appears to be running away. Perhaps the abuse at home got to be too much or she uncovered information that made it too dangerous to stay. Either way, she's in a position where she might feel destitute. Yet O'Donoghue writes in her companion book, "You are not bereft of friends and your life is better than you think." The Honeysuckle card suggests mind games, the convoluted ways we attempt to get our needs met. Rather than stating things directly, we throw out vague hints. We may not have learned how to do this or we may be frightened of rejection. But no one can offer help if they don't know it's needed. This is a time for courage and clarity, so turn on your hazard lights.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


This week I'll be using the Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot, a self-published set created by Deirdre O'Donoghue and illustrated by Wayne McGuire. Along with it, I'll be drawing from the Victorian Flower Oracle, created by Alex Ukolov, Karen Mahony and Sheila Hamilton; it was published by Magic Realist Press. Today's draws are the Knight of Swords and 'Camellia:'
We've learned from experience that the truth will out.
~Richard P. Feynman 

This pairing of a truth seeker and a secret keeper remind me of Lancelot and Guinevere, Romeo and Juliet, and a busload of politicians. But as Feynman states, nothing stays hidden in the dark forever. If we truly grasped how our covert behavior would eventually be hung out on the laundry line for all to see, how it would hurt us and so many others, would we still be so eager to engage in it? Probably.

We have a secret, just we three, 
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry-tree; 
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me, 
And nobody knows it but just us three. 

But of course the robin knows it best, 
Because she built the—I shan't tell the rest; 
And laid the four little—something in it—
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute. 

But if the tree and the robin don't peep, 
I'll try my best the secret to keep; 
Though I know when the little birds fly about 
Then the whole secret will be out.

~The Golden Book of Poetry (1947)

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Bigger Picture

From the Ferret Tarot, the Queen of Wands; from Nature's Wisdom Oracle, 'Bat:'
          An orchestra conductor is a fitting role for this Queen. She has a knack for seeing the talents in others, encouraging them to hone their gifts, and then gathering everyone together to create something beautiful or beneficial. Some may say she just likes being in charge and waving that baton around, but she actually has the vision and ability to create a cohesive whole. She is like the Bat, often spoken badly of, but truly with a good side. Bats eat hundreds of mosquitoes and other insects each night, as well as help pollinate plants. Both the person and the animal can be seen in a more favorable light if the focus is not on nit-picking their qualities but looking from a larger frame of reference.

All that is made seems planless to the darkened mind,
because there are more plans than it looked for. ― C.S. Lewis

Friday, July 26, 2019

Without the Mental Baggage

From the Ferret Tarot, the Magician; from Nature's Wisdom Oracle, the 'Sloth:'
          Rhonda Byrne has made lots of money from her books The Secret and The Power, which preach the Law of Attraction. Basically, this philosophy states that whatever you experience in life is a direct result of your thoughts. Literally, what is focused on will appear. People often use the Buddha's words in the Dhammapada to support this:

All experience is preceded by mind, 
Led by mind, Made by mind.
Speak or act with a corrupted mind,
And suffering follows
As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

Though both advocate being mindful of our thoughts, Buddha was talking about the unhappiness we cause ourselves by resisting reality through our attachments (what we crave) and aversions (what we hate). Rather than focus on the outcome, he suggests focusing on what is with clarity and acceptance. The Buddha wants the Magician to widen his perspective, not narrow it. And when he does, he might find many untapped skills and resources. The Sloth reinforces this relaxed view, encouraging us to let go of our rigid opinions and expectations. Move, but without lugging along all that baggage.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Independence with Boundaries

From the Ferret Tarot, the Page of Wands; from Nature's Wisdom Oracle, 'Cat:'
          My eldest nephew was a handful when he was a toddler. He was one of those kids that if you said something was dangerous, he'd translate that as exciting. There were no reasons for some of his escapades, he just liked to see if he could do them (like getting his head caught between the bars of a chair, which then had to be taken apart to release him). I'm convinced parents and other guardians are the ones who keep these adventurous ones alive until they develop more foresight. The Cat was worshipped by the Egyptians because of its usefulness and independent nature. That independence is what needs careful attention with the Page of Wands types. They may need boundaries, but they don't need any cold water dousing their fires.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We are meant to shine, as children do. 
~Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Practical Advice

From the Ferret Tarot, the Ace of Coins; from Nature's Wisdom Oracle, 'Scarab Beetle:'
          Americans have a love affair with money. I have a friend who says, "It might not bring happiness, but it sure makes living easier." But that's only if you have the knowledge to manage it and the discipline to wisely use it. Economist Jay L. Zagorsky wrote: "Studies found that instead of getting people out of financial trouble, winning the lottery got people into more trouble, since bankruptcy rates soared for lottery winners three to five years after winning." If that ferret is going to seize an opportunity to make some money, he needs to focus more on saving or investing than simply spending. The Scarab Beetle, a symbol of the Egyptian Sun god, carefully rolls dung into large dung balls for his mate who lays her eggs in it. It provides food for the beetle larvae when they hatch. Its message is that if we think creatively, we can often make something beneficial out of what appears to be useless. To practice living simply and wisely with what I have can be a practical training ground for when the coffer is overflowing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Joy, Energy, Insight

From the Ferret Tarot, the Sun; from Nature's Wisdom Oracle, 'Mushroom:'
          This ferret brought to mind the saying "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," meaning alert and full of energy and enthusiasm. Yet the Sun also brings clarity. I was watching Avatar the other night, and one of the sayings the Na'vi people used was "I see you." This expression didn't mean a physical seeing but a spiritual one. It conveyed that the person's heart and mind were open, and he or she were seeing the other as if for the first time. Everything looks very different from this perspective. Yet Mushroom pops up with a warning. Many mushrooms can't be judged as safe or poisonous simply by their appearance. Some require a microscopic examination of their spores. Such discernment applies to those having their moment in the Sun. Keep the joy and energy, but add the caution of perceptive insight. No need to leap off any cliffs if you don't have to.

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. 
~Marshall McLuhan

Monday, July 22, 2019

Hop to It

From the Ferret Tarot, the Seven of Pentacles; from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle, 'Frog:'

          Having found a cache of socks stuffed under the sofa, the ferrets are in high cotton. Socks are a hot commodity for them because they can be sniffed, cuddled, played with or tunneled in. Moertl's phrase for this card is, "You do the work, you reap the benefits." It amazes me how often we humans can't grasp this concept. We keep expecting to win the lottery, marry Superman or at least have someone tell us to take the month off and do whatever we want. My life changes when I start doing something different - the work that will bring the benefits. Frog suggests motion as well, underscoring the idea that passivity won't bring the outcome I desire. Dreaming and planning are not the same as doing; now is the time to take action.

An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.
 ―Arnold Glasow

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Enduring Alliance

This week I'll be using the Ferret Tarot, created and self-published by Elaine Moertl. Along with it, I'll be drawing from Nature's Wisdom Oracle, created by Mindy Lighthipe and published by Schiffer Books. The cards for today are the Two of Cups and 'Sea Turtle:'
          Nose to nose and paw to paw, these two ferrets are a partnership in the making. A partnership implies that two folks join together for a common purpose or interest. But the Sea Turtle, known for its long life and lengthy migrations, suggests that endurance requires more than just being fond of one another. Unmet expectations added to a lack of open and honest communication can cause an abrupt end. An alliance doesn't mean one person takes on the role of savior while the other becomes the saved; both must shoulder responsibilities based on each person's ability and knowledge (not just their wants). These duties will naturally shift over time as age becomes a factor or as unexpected circumstances arise. A willingness to compromise on the part of each partner can bolster the original heartfelt connection.

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
— Thomas Merton

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Leveling Factor

From the Sasuraibito Tarot, the Three of Swords; from the Soul Cards, 'Enlightenment:'
          This young lass seems surprised that she has been stabbed in the back. That emotion will likely give way to a mix of grief and anger. Feeling betrayed comes in a range of flavors, from someone taking advantage of us to the suicide of a person we loved. Yet the Swords suit is not about emotions but about our thoughts and how we express them. In this case, we first replay and analyze our memories of the past; we look for what we missed and could have done differently. When anger and grief come, we think of what has been wrested away from us - the trust and the hopes we held dear. Enlightenment, in Buddhism, means to wake up from the delusions caused by our misperceptions. As Charlotte Joko Beck explained, "Enlightenment is not something you achieve. It is the absence of something." Reality looks very different when we take away our preferences and prejudices. It places our feet firmly on the ground so that we can do what needs to be done. It reminds us that we are one of many who've had this same kind of experience. No one gets to bypass the sorrows of the world in favor of the joys. It is one of life's leveling factors.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


From the Sasuraibito Tarot, Justice; from the Soul Cards, 'Falling Leaves:'

The law of karma is that we sow the seeds and we reap the fruit. So when you find yourself in a dark place, you can think, "Maybe it's time to get a little golden spade and dig myself out of this place." ~Pema Chodron

          There is no doubt the sword of Justice has the attention of the person whose eye it hovers over. We humans can become so ingrained in our habits, we become numb to the unintended effects they often have. But this sword cuts through the illusion of excuses and blame. It's up to us how we use this life; we create our future with every thought, word, and action. And the consequences for what we do and say will fall in our laps only. The Falling Leaves card suggests a posture of relaxed acceptance. If we want to make sincere amends, we must not resort to explaining away our behavior, neither do we stop the other from the sometimes brutal expression of how our actions affected them. Yet we can walk away with a clearer understanding of how the choices we make can heal and nurture our relationships or destroy them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


From the Sasuraibito Tarot, the Magician; from the Soul Cards, 'Bare Bones:'
 Abandoning any hope of fruition does not mean abandoning our projects and ambitions. Instead, it points to a way of going about things that is present-focused rather than fixated on results.
—Judy Lief
          This Magician literally has a lot of balls (and hands) in the air. Whatever he is trying to manifest, he's keeping his head down and staying focused on all the pieces in play. If he were to pause and stare off into space, those pieces would become scattered. The time for dreaming is past and the time for taking action is now. 'Bare Bones' suggests removing all that is extraneous to a situation, all the extras that don't really have anything to do with the task at hand. Adding emotional drama or information that is not pertinent does not create progress. If a problem arises, creative thinking for possible solutions will bring a quicker resolution than simply whining about the issue. "Focus on what's in front of you," the Magician would advise us.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Can We?

From the Sasuraibito Tarot, the Lovers; from the Soul Cards, 'Light and Darkness:'
          Can we embrace all of ourselves - the flaws and the talents, the assets and the liabilities? Can we see ourselves as an imperfectly whole human, one whose goal is to be decent rather than reach some ideal? We cannot change anything that we don't first acknowledge and accept; simply trying to stomp it out only strengthens it. Can we, as illustrated by the Light and Darkness card, befriend all our parts? Those parts stir our compassion when we realize that our imperfect pieces of humanness connect us to each other. Healing our fractured mind and heart is the first step in healing our fractured world.

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries. – Carl Jung

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Just This

This week I'll be working with the Sasuraibito Tarot, self-published by Stasia Burrington. I'll also be using Soul Cards 1 & 2, created by Deborah Koff-Chapin and published through her company, Center for Touch Drawing. The Soul Cards have no titles, so the ones given here are my own. Today's draws are the Four of Cups and 'Opening:'
          This young lass's braid seems almost like a noose the way it is wrapped around her neck. In her dark mood, she probably does feel like she's waiting for the trap door to open beneath her feet. And although she can't control her moods, she can control whether she adds to their weight or not. She may start collecting specific bits of life that justify her apathy and reinforce her feeling that life is unfair and overwhelming. In the card 'Opening,' a woman watches a colorful being create an opening in her cave to allow the light to shine in. Clarity comes when we allow our oily opinions to separate from the clear water of what is actually in front of us. "Just this," without all the baggage attached to it, can make the world easier to participate in once again.   

Fair and unfair are both creations of the ignorant ego-mind - another reason to practice stilling this mind. For when it is still, we can more easily accept the "just this" of a situation and respond to it in the appropriate manner. ~ Janet Jiryu Abels

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Cheering for Yourself

From the Ellis Deck, the Six of Wands/Rods; from the Brownies Oracle, 'Clearing:'

          Looks like the Page has grown up and that his adventuresome spirit and courage have paid off. But while his six rods acknowledge what he's accomplished, what is not visible is the accolades of other people. What happens when no one is there to give us an "Atta girl!" and pats on the back? Do we assume what we've done has been invalidated? It might be wise to consider Oliver Goldsmith's words: "He who seeks only for applause from without has all his happiness in another’s keeping." The Brownies appear to be cleaning up after a storm, judging from all those leaning trees. Clearing suggests I put aside any approval-seeking behavior and instead look at the fruit of my actions objectively.

Do not trust to the cheering, for those very persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged. ~ Oliver Cromwell

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Net Worth

From the Ellis Deck, Judgment; from the Brownies Oracle, 'Commencement:'
          Ellis suggests that Judgment refers to hearing the call to a higher purpose, recognizing one's past self-centered ways, and committing to a different path. The Commencement card shows the Brownies getting ready for a voyage, an appropriate segue from Judgment. It's easy to get fired up about changing one's old habits, but sometimes it's hard to transfer that enthusiasm from the intellect to behavior. It takes tenacity to practice new actions and attitudes over and over until they become the new normal. But as the Brownies would say, "If you really want it, then get on with it."

Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains
after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.
― Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fully Appreciating

From the Ellis Deck, the Nine of Cups; from the Brownies Oracle, 'Diversity:'
          This fellow reminds me of Aladdin's genie, offering cups full of enjoyment. Although we are all aware of how quickly pleasures come and go, Ellis suggests we take a moment to fully appreciate each one anyway. Neuropsychologists are now advocating that we re-remember those times when our hearts felt full in as much sensory detail as possible. Just as our bodies relive the physical sensations of anger when we replay the past in our minds, so too can the body (and mind) reap the good effects of reliving positive, happy moments. The Diversity card shows one Brownie working on his numbers while another expresses himself artistically. It is a nice reminder to look for joy and pleasure in the small things and ordinary days rather than just the extraordinary. Then we'll have a whole file cabinet of wonderful times to sort through.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


From the Ellis Deck, the Page of Rods; from the Brownies Oracle, 'Suppression:'
          The Page of Rods has so much energy, the way he learns best is through doing. But sometimes he is too young to actually do grown-up things, so he imitates and role-plays. In his leafy outfit, he could imagine himself a knight, an explorer or chief of a tribe. Hopefully, his fox companion will keep a close eye on him in case his imagination gets ahead of his common sense. Suppression seems to show just the opposite of its meaning as one Brownie gets a blast of water from the pump. But perhaps they are trying to wash away any new ideas he's been sharing that don't fit with the status quo. Some folks would prefer we imitate traditional roles and beliefs rather than anything new that scares them. Personally, I hope that little guy won't let his friends make his choices for him.

All men [and women] who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education. ~ Sir Walter Scott

Monday, July 8, 2019

Five Remembrances

From the Ellis Deck, the Tower; from the Brownies Oracle, 'Cycles:'
          Ellis suggests that the Tower was built to ward off the natural flow of things, but nothing manmade will ever accomplish that goal. It reminded me of Buddha's 'Five Remembrances:'
  1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way I can escape growing old.
  2. I am of the nature to get sick. There is no way I can escape getting sick.
  3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way I can escape death.
  4. Everything and everyone I love will change. There is no way I can escape being separated from them.
  5. My deeds are my only companions. They are the ground on which I stand.
Yet Buddha wasn't advocating a nihilistic approach to life, but a tender, appreciative one. His goal was to avoid suffering by seeing reality for what it is rather than clinging tightly to what we want it to be. The Cycles card message is that life is always moving and changing; good or bad, this too will pass. Or as Buddha would call it, impermanence.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Heavy Mantle

This week the tarot I'll be using is the Ellis Deck, created and self-published by Taylor Ellis. Paired with it will be the Brownies Oracle, created and self-published by Doug Thornsjo. Today's draws are the Emperor and 'Constraint:'
          No wonder this Emperor is armored; he has a heavy (sometimes brutal) responsibility to bear. He guides and disciplines his people; he provides for and protects them. He relies on structure and order to do this through the laws he creates. If he is wise, he will adapt and adjust to the natural changes and challenges life brings. Like well-known coaches, he is often lauded when times are good and blamed when they aren't, even if he had little control over either. The Constraint card is often the way the Emperor's subjects feel. They have rights, by golly, and no one should try to take them away. But as the Emperor knows, rights can only be given when responsibilities are taken seriously.

We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. ~Barack Obama

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Healing Action

From the Prairie Tarot, the Star; from the Medicine Cards, the Antelope:
           A young woman sits with one foot tucked under her while another rests in the water. Her leg position suggests that usually when we heal (unless we're completely incapacitated), we must still function in the world. We may go see our therapist, doctor or financial advisor, but we still have to pay the bills and feed our pets. In some ways, it might be easier this way than being in a cocoon (like in rehab) and then having to come back into the real world. When we're in healing mode, we often get suggestions as to how we can best help ourselves. Here's where Antelope shows up with the keyword of 'action.' If we want things to get better and be different, then we're the ones who have to change, not the rest of the world.

Friday, July 5, 2019

True Wisdom

From the Prairie Tarot, the World; from the Medicine Cards, the Squirrel:
          The four figures in the World card seem to represent the four directions from a Native view: North (endurance), East (wisdom), South (growth), and West (endings). The Fool, having made his/her way through the various joys and challenges of life, now is able to find some balance in coping with the experience of living through knowledge and mindfulness. There have been some extremes along the way, but the middle ground has been discovered. Yet Squirrel, whose Medicine includes gathering and preparation, sends the message not to get too complacent as there is more to experience and learn. The right use of knowledge will bring wisdom.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us. ~Socrates

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Moving and Transforming

From the Prairie Tarot, the Eight of Cups; from the Medicine Cards, the Elk:
          What makes us leave? In some situations, it is because we are looking for a drop of joy in an emotional desert. Other times, the pain and injury that comes with staying greatly outweighs the fear and grief of leaving. It's never easy. But the anxious uncertainty of what the future holds can give rise to excitement if we don't take our old ways of thinking and reacting with us. Elk brings the message of stamina. We are able to keep moving if we adopt a pace of sanity. Although we might know what we're getting away from, we don't know what we're heading toward. If we move too fast, we might miss it.
Although circumstances may change in the blink of an eye, people change at a slower pace. Even motivated people who welcome change often encounter stumbling blocks that make transformation more complicated than they'd originally anticipated.  ~Amy Morin

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Personal Kingdoms

From the Prairie Tarot, the King of Coins; from the Medicine Cards, Weasel:
         This King of Coins is dressed simply and holds a wooden mallet. There are no luxurious robes or ranches in sight. What does it take to make us feel comfortable and content? How much stuff do we need before we can be satisfied with what we have? The Weasel, able to get into small spaces with its slim, flexible body, has been assigned the keyword 'stealth.' It suggests that I would benefit by looking inside my own mind and weasel out whether I need something or whether I'm simply trying to fill an emotional hole with material things.
Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.
― Pearl S. Buck 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

I'm All In

From the Prairie Tarot, the Four of Swords; from the Medicine Cards, Prairie Dog:
          I would like to say age has made me wiser about burning the candle at both ends, but I think it is just that it has become a physical impossibility. I had a rollercoaster kind of day yesterday that began with attending to some emotional people and ended with linemen replacing my power lines to the house at 8 pm. Two years ago, damage by squirrels caused a power surge that resulted in a house fire. This time when I noticed the same weird things as before, I was able to be proactive. Prairie Dog's message is about retreat because of its swift withdrawal to its tunnel when danger is about. A description from the book reads: "[This] medicine teaches that strength and inspiration can be found by retreating into the stillness that quiets the mind." As poker players say, I'm all in.