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

Saturday, November 30, 2019

What Are You For?

From the Osho Zen Tarot, the Empress; from the A'HA Oracle, Resonance:

          Padma's title for the Empress is 'Creativity,' and delineates clearly a major difference between the actions of the Emperor and the Empress. The Emperor creates laws and sanctions based on what he is against; the Empress creates her world based on what she is for. How different our conversations would be around the dinner table and in shopping lines if we asked, "What are you for? What do you value and hold dear? And how are you working to create such an environment in your own life, your community, and the world?" Resonance is an amplification that occurs when an object is exposed to the vibrations of another object with the same natural frequency. Basically, what is in harmony tends to strengthen each other. It makes sense that people with common causes would be drawn together to find a common solution. But what a difference it would make if their efforts were not wasted raging about what they were against, but nurturing what they wanted to create.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Common Prudence

From the Osho Zen Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles; from the A'HA Oracle, Prudence:
          Padma has titled this card 'Ripeness,' a nod to things being at their peak. It is a time to pause and enjoy rather than rush off looking for the next pleasure. Yes, things will change soon, as that barely-there crescent moon indicates. And it is often the loss of them that reminds us of their worth. If we can enjoy the moment without attachment to it, it becomes possible to appreciate it without adding the weight of desperation. Prudence - the foresight of wisely managing resources - suggests making use of what we have while we have it with a dose of discernment. Today in America is Black Friday, a day consumers are encouraged through every media source available to spend, spend, spend. While it is a great day to find some good deals, the buyer might want to remember the bills that will come due next month.

 It is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Paradox of Pain

From the Osho Zen Tarot, the Three of Swords; from the A'HA Oracle, Chameleon:

We must not allow ourselves to numb out or to deny or hide from the pain we are experiencing. We must allow our vulnerability to teach us. 
—Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara

          Padma calls this card 'ice-olation,' a phrase that fits perfectly. Pain can be isolating, particularly when we hold it inside or attempt to box it up and place it out of sight. I know this too well from years of practice. But hidden pain is like a viral infection; sooner or later we start to show symptoms. It is normal to hurt when we've experienced harm or loss, and it's healthy to feel the emotions with it. What makes me feel isolated is not the emotion but the thoughts I attach to it: "This isn't fair - I try to be a kind and compassionate person. I've been through more than anyone else has to endure. Life should not be this hard." The irony is that it is my pain that connects me to others and my thoughts of being singled out that makes me feel alone. The Chameleon card brings up the other extreme of pain - the empathic person who not only feels someone else's pain but takes it on as their own (thus compounding the problem rather than helping). In this case, I can be willing to sit with someone in pain so they don't have to be alone, yet I must realize I don't have the power to change his or her mind about the situation. Hopefully, if calmness is catching, common sense will come to light. 

Perhaps that’s the clue about the happiness inherent in caring connections: The frightened “I” who struggles is replaced by the “we” who do this difficult life together, looking after one other.
—Sylvia Boorstein

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Peaceful Surrender

From the Osho Zen Tarot, New Vision / Hanged Man; from the A'HA Oracle, Fruition:

Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. ~Jack Kornfield

          Surrender simply means we stop fighting. We stop declaring that our way is the right way, that our way of seeing is correct. In the stillness of surrender, we can gather new information and perhaps see from a perspective that was impossible before while our blinders were on. Our heart becomes open and our mind becomes flexible. We may have given up the fight, but we've gained equanimity and a fuller understanding. Fruition implies that what we have done has born fruit. Every act and thought in the past is producing a harvest in the present. I can't change the seeds I've already planted, but I can be mindful of what I'm planting now that I will reap in the future.

Eventually you will see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It's the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes the problems. ~Michael Singer

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Glimmers of Light

From the Osho Zen Tarot, the Three of Cups; from the A'HA Oracle, Omniscience:
          Misery does love company, which is why we can always find someone to gripe or rant about a person or situation with us. That quality is a dime a dozen. But what I want is someone who knows how to see a glimmer of light in the darkness and who can find fun or humor in a frustrating situation. I don't want to be an Eeyore, I want to be a Pooh-bear (with a weekend here and there as a Tigger). And I want to hang out with people of the same mindset. Life is too short to spend it raging or whining (and I've done enough of that already). Omniscience means all-knowing, to perceive all things. No one wants to make a bad choice or miss an opportunity, which is why we go to fortune-tellers and read books on how to improve our intuition. But in my opinion, I think that is an impossible goal for humans; I'd settle instead for a bit of clarity. And spending time with the right kind of friends might grant me the ability to see with a wider vision.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. ~Maya Angelou

Monday, November 25, 2019

Shadow Side of Nostalgia

From the Osho Zen Tarot, the Six of Cups; from the A'HA Oracle, Shadow:
          Give my brain a few moments of intense pleasure, and that experience will be filed away for life. Then when I'm annoyed with my current partner, I'll pull up a memory of a beau from the past and think, "Now that's the way life should be." The problem is, I conveniently forget the other one thousand ways the guy from the past was a jerk. Nostalgia can be an enjoyable activity as long as it doesn't keep me from living in the present. The Shadow card suggests I look at the parts of my personality of which I might be ashamed or afraid. My shadow shows itself in my interactions and relationships with others; what frustrates and annoys me about others is likely a denied trait or mindset I have myself. Yet when I acknowledge and accept it, I can better understand and accept that same side in others. Then I won't have to go fishing in the past to find something more palatable than the present.

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. ~Carl Jung

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Love as Space

This week I'll be using the Osho Zen Tarot, created by Ma Deva Padma with Osho and published by St. Martin's Press. I'll also be using the A'HA Oracle, created and self-published by Linnie Lambrechtsen. Today's draws are the Lovers and Temple of Gentle Reasoning:
Love is space. It is developing our own capacity for spaciousness within ourselves to allow others to be as they are. That is love. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t have hopes or wishes that things are changed or shifted, but that to come from a place of love is to be in acceptance of what is, even in the face of moving it towards something that is more whole, more just, more spacious for all of us.
—Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams

          This Lovers card has two images of the same set of partners, one of which is inside a heart. As Padma explains, there is a whole spectrum of love: "as we begin to mature, we can begin to experience the love that exists beyond sexuality and honors the unique individuality of the other." Sex, while exciting and pleasurable, is just the tip of the iceberg in deeply committed relationships. The Temple of Gentle Reasoning (the heart) resembles a stupa - a hemispherical structure containing relics of Buddhist teachers that is used as a place of meditation. It reminds me that true love requires me to look beyond any fixed ideas I might have about it, to allow it enough space and freedom so each individual can continue to develop over time. As one-half of a decades-old partnership, I am beginning to understand this wisdom.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Everything Depends

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Hanged Man; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the Queen of Owls:
 In this treacherous world
Nothing is the truth nor a lie.
Everything depends on the color
Of the crystal through which one sees it.

– Pedro Calderon de la Barca

          This young fairy hit a brick wall, trying to force, manipulate or at least pretend something is as he wants it to be. But he has finally had an epiphany; the world won't change for him, but he can change his perspective of it. The Queen of Owls is known for healing. Anyone who's been in physical pain long enough or had chronic health issues knows how it washes over every part of one's life. Yet there is primary pain and secondary pain; the first has organic causes and the second a mental origin that refuses to accept, magnifies fear and rages that life is unfair. It is the secondary pain we have a choice in through mindfulness and mind training. Life is hard, but we don't have to make it any harder than it already is.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Unfolding Moments

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Seven of Pentacles; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the Hidden One:
          Before there were sonograms and amniocentesis tests, the only real way to assess a pregnancy was by the health of the mom, an expanding belly and baby kicks or movement. Like so many projects or endeavors, often the final assessment can only be determined by the fruit born. Yet when patience is required, it's easy to become obsessed about things that we can't control. The Hidden One pops up (making us trip on the tree root or stump our toe) to remind us to get out of our head and pay attention to the rest of the world. The present moment is the only one in which we have a genuine choice.

Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and
accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.
― Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Core Courage

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Six of Wands; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the Faerie of Growth:

I accept that no one is coming to make my life right, or save me, or redeem my childhood, or rescue me from the consequences of my choices and actions.
― Nathaniel Branden

          We all experience them - the dark nights of the soul that crush our bones, constrict our breath and make us want to curl up and do anything but face what life has left on our doorstep. Yet this young fairy has reached deeply into her heart and mind to find the courage to keep going. Not just to slog through each day, but actively looking for any beauty and kindness to be found there. This is her victory, not over some external force, but over the internal darkness that attempts to drag her into its depths. The Faerie of Growth implies two actions: movement and change. Nothing positive can happen if we don't participate with a sincere effort. Perhaps she can help us acknowledge and affirm Branden's words: "I accept the reality of my problems, but I am not defined by them. My problems are not my essence. My fear, pain, confusion, or mistakes are not my core."

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Choosing Happiness

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Ten of Cups; from the Heart of Faerie Oracle, the Prince of Light:

          This turns the 'what's in it for me' version of the Ten of Cups on its head. An older fairy woman uses rose petals and lavender to send out blessings to her loved ones. She recognizes her good fortune in the relationships she's had over the years; though some have passed, she still retains the love they shared with her. She finds joy and contentment in the achievements and opportunities of others rather than being envious or judgmental. Her heart has been opened by hardship, rather than closed by it. The Prince of Light comes to bring peace and compassion among individuals. He helps us move beyond our ideas of entitlement and encourages a generosity of the heart. If we lay aside self-centered concerns and consider what is good and beneficial for all involved, how might our view of a situation or relationship change?

The joy of letting go comes from insight into what truly brings happiness and suffering, and choosing the lasting happiness. Letting go may take some work but it can be a joyous relief.
—Hai An

Monday, November 18, 2019

To Know, To Live

From the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, the Hermit; from the Heart of Faerie, the Green Woman:
 I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~ Henry D. Thoreau

          Living in nature with only the bare essentials has a way of clearing away the cobwebs. We learn that things are born and things die, that life is always moving and in flux. Actions have consequences; what we plant will grow and produce fruit, whether it is welcomed or not. It's easy to follow an old path through the woods, but more difficult to make a new one - just as it is with behaviors we repeat or try to change. Yet the soulsearching of the Hermit is not meant to depress or shame us, but to encourage us to live more skillfully and compassionately. The gentle, creative energy of the Green Woman would recognize Thoreau's longing. She reminds us that while we are all creatures subject to the laws of nature, today is a good day to LIVE.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Making Progress

This week I'll be using the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, created by Julia Jeffrey with Barbara Moore, and published by Llewellyn. I'll also be drawing from the Heart of Faerie Oracle created by Brian and Wendy Froud and published by Abrams. Today's cards are the King of Wands and 'The Returning:'
          This King of Wands, with his windswept hair, seems to be looking over our shoulder at something happening behind us. Though he is listening, he's more interested in what is going on; he's a 'show me' kind of guy rather than a 'tell me' one. He doesn't want to just hear about something, he wants to be able to be there himself if possible. He knows that some people may underestimate a situation while others may overdramatize it. They act as alert buttons so he knows to go and check on any potential problem and correct it before it gets too big. The Returning suggests we acknowledge that things are constantly changing. If we leave, we shouldn't expect things to be exactly the same as before when we return. When we look without the weight of the past or our assumptions about the future, we can see with clarity what is. That's the first step in making any progress.

The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.     
[Which might include ego's demands of what should or shouldn't be, instead of what is.]
~George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Drunken Monkey

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Six of Winter (Swords); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, Elhaz/Algiz:
          A group of fairy refugees flees the Winter court, hopefully to a place with less quarreling and strife. But what if they are taking the problem with them? Perhaps the outer chaos is only a trigger for the inner turmoil. If that's the case, then what's needed is an inner change of attitude and thoughts, otherwise (in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn) "Wherever you go, there you are." The Elhaz/Algiz rune can signify protection in the mundane world, and 'rising above' in spiritual-speak. Both apply in this situation. When we are constantly in conflict, it can feel necessary to protect ourselves, but often what we are protecting is simply a rigid set of beliefs and opinions. To 'rise above' would mean we stop looking for something outside of ourselves to make us happy or feed our ego. We may still need to get away from a group to maintain our sanity, but we want to make sure we are taking a healthy mindset on the journey.

In the attempt to get away from being with ourselves, we search for something or someone to make us happy; the grass constantly appears greener someplace else. But in every relationship and every situation, there we are again. Meanwhile, our mind is like a drunken monkey doing its best to distract us by jumping from thought to fear to drama to anything that will keep us trapped in an endless round of worries and concerns. ~Ed and Deb Shapiro

Friday, November 15, 2019

Prudent Course

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Herald (Page) of Autumn (Pentacles); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, Dag/Dagaz:
... our aliveness depends on our ability to sustain wonder. — Mark Nepo

          The Heralds are the portals from one season to the next; they are a good analogy for the doors that knowledge and instruction can open. Perhaps none of the four Heralds/Pages is more enthusiastic about applied knowledge as this one. Dag/Dagaz represents the darkness turning to dawn and confusion being transformed into insight. But as the Herald/Page would tell us, knowing doesn't change things nearly as much as using that new knowledge.

The prudent course is to make an investment in learning, testing and understanding, determine how the new concepts compare to how you now operate and thoughtfully determine how they apply to what you want to achieve in the future. — Dee Hock

Thursday, November 14, 2019

It's Nuts

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Two of Autumn (Pentacles); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, Lagu/Laguz:
          Juggling an armload of hazelnuts, this fairy is attempting to ride a bike to get somewhere quickly. He obviously can't do both well at the same time, judging by the nuts he's dropping and his posture on the bike. He could have put a basket on the bike or - since he's a fairy - flown instead. But that's what happens when we multi-task; we miss important details and ignore what should be common sense. Lagu can represent a great body of water, such as the Anglo-Saxon poem speaks of:
The ocean seems interminable to men,
if they venture on the rolling bark
and the waves of the sea terrify them
and the stallion of the deep heed not its bridle.
Just as it's not wise to try to sail the seas without knowledge and attentiveness, so we should not move through life mindlessly, in a hurry to get to the next task. Mistakes are likely, and we might miss some important intuitive information along the way.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mature Friendships

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Three of Summer (Cups); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, Dorn/Thorn:
I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun.
~Charles R. Swindoll 

          I am convinced that we all need someone with whom we can be genuine, showing without fear the qualities that make us fallible humans. But such a friendship requires effort; we need to be willing to make time for them on a regular basis, as well as listen to their stories instead of just sharing our own. But Dorn/Thorn implies that things can get a little prickly if a friend has a different opinion about something than us. But, unless their actions are unethical, is this a reason to abandon them? Perhaps Thomas Jefferson's advice is wise: "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." Besides, a different view might help us have a wider perspective.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Pausing Practice

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Knight of Autumn (Pentacles); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, Wunjo/Wynn:
          I like this Knight - he knows that when you work hard, you need to pause every now and then to check your progress and see what might have been missed. Plus, the body (especially as we age), needs a chance to rest and recuperate. Wunjo is a rune that is associated with well-being in all its forms. It represents joy, as it recognizes the blessing of being well. When I am working in the yard, I take pauses to rest but also to bird watch and see how the season is changing the landscape. It restores both body, mind and spirit. The house and yard reconstruction seems to be two steps forward and one step back. Yet as I look at the earth and the way nature renews itself, it gives me hope.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Three Reeds

From the Victorian Fairy Tarot, the Three of Autumn (Pentacles); from the Haindl Rune Oracle, Tyr/Tiwaz:

        The busy fairies working together to make apple cider complements the Buddhist principle of interconnection; Thich Nhat Hanh explains:
In the sutras, this image is given: "Three cut reeds can stand only by leaning on one another. If you take one away, the other two will fall." For a table to exist, we need wood, a carpenter, time, skillfulness, and many other causes. And each of these causes needs other causes to be. 
As much as we'd like to believe we are independent, we depend on many things and people to get along in this world. Our well-being and existence require collaboration and cooperation. The rune Tyr is based on the one-handed Norse god of the same name who sacrificed his hand for the good of others. He is considered a symbol of self-sacrifice, justice, and right action. Interdependence also necessitates these qualities if we are to live peacefully and productively. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Foundation for Dialogue

This week I'll be using the Victorian Fairy Tarot, created by Lunaea Weatherstone with Gary A. Lippincott and published by Llewellyn. Paired with it will be the Haindl Rune Oracle, created by Hermann Haindl and published by U.S. Games. Today's cards are the Ace of Winter (Swords) and Peorth:

          When the trees are bare and snow covers the ground, the landscape and sky are more open. Similarly, the Ace of Winter (Swords) suggests a time for clarity that allows what is important to come to the foreground. Without the distractions of busyness, we are able to pay attention; without giving our preferences and prejudices free run of our mind, we see reality in its bare form. Clear seeing can keep us from tripping over our own feet or sticking our foot in our mouth. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem reads:

Peorth is a source of recreation and amusement to the great,
where warriors sit blithely together in the banqueting-hall.

The rune itself suggests a home or meeting place with the doors open, welcoming all. As the holiday season approaches and we find ourselves with friends and family (or sometimes even new acquaintances), it is important to take the suggestion of the Ace of Winter to heart.

Honesty and openness is always the foundation of insightful dialogue.
― bell hooks
[and I'd add a dollop of respect too.]

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Pleasure of Simple Joys

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Six of Cups; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, Precision:
          Since this is a Thoth-based deck, the keyword for the Six of Cups is 'pleasure.' The simple joy of the kids playing in the water is possible for adults too, particularly those who've known great challenges and deep pain. For folks in this group, the extraordinary can be found in the ordinary and pleasure in even the day to day tasks. While others may spin out emotionally over every little thing that doesn't go their way, they know that such things aren't worth wasting energy on. The Precision card backs up this way of thinking, encouraging us to look with discernment at situations so that we see them clearly, with wisdom and compassion. When our peace and contentment are anchored within, they won't be easily disturbed by the passing storms outside of us. 

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. ― Tom Bodett

Friday, November 8, 2019

Idealism + Effort

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Lovers; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, Idealism:
          Decort explains that her biracial lovers represent a yin-yang relationship, one that encourages personal growth and development. The children symbolize playfulness and curiosity, the lion vitality, the eagle allegiance, and the alchemical egg transformation. Such a bond is a cooperative effort bound together by unconditional kindness. It may seem more like a fairy tale than real life, so it's not surprising that Idealism shows up. Idealism is the pursuit of noble principles and purposes, seeming more suitable for a Knight or the Fool. Yet if we have no compass to point us in the right direction, we have no markers for the road to take. The principles may seem too unrealistic to be practical, but the point is not to reach perfection, just to move in that general direction.

You see, idealism detached from action is just a dream. But idealism allied with pragmatism,
with rolling up your sleeves and making the world bend a bit, is very exciting.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Intuitive Action

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the King of Swords; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, Intuition:
          It makes sense that this King would choose a draft horse for his ride; he likes his horse like he likes his facts - strong and heavily grounded. Ideas are useful when they can be practically applied as solutions. And being a proponent of truth, he's definitely looking for hard evidence, not emotional drama. Intuition is an interesting pairing with this King as many consider it to be a bit 'woo-woo' or mystical. But researchers have proved otherwise. Intuition is the ability to know something without analytical reasoning. It bridges the gap between conscious and unconscious; it is instant access to past experience, cumulative knowledge, and present cues. It is not instinct, which is an unconscious, innate (not learned) tendency toward a particular behavior that leads to self-preservation. Nor is it insight, which deals with solutions rather than judgment (yes/no). Researchers have found that a positive mood (not angry or fearful) improves the accuracy and precision of intuitive judgment. In this the King of Swords would excel, knowing that emotional imbalance would impede his decision-making skills.

When a thirsty man comes to you, what do you do? The first thing that occurs to you: give him water. This is intuitive action, acting without desire or attachment. 
—Colin Beavan 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Limber Mind

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Fool; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, Graciousness:
          The freedom and joy of the Fool come from living in the present rather than the fear of the future or regrets of the past. Sure he has a tiger on his tail and a gator at his feet, but he still moves forward. His openness allows him to see that there are infinite possibilities rather than just negative ones. It doesn't mean it will be all fun and games, but he's got the courage to deal with the challenges that arise. Graciousness implies kindness, benevolence, and courtesy that is deeply genuine rather than superficial. Rather than hide or get rid of those feelings that challenges bring, this card encourages us to honor our experience and push nothing away. What is resisted will only be repeated. We can instead treat ourselves with gentleness and patience as we encounter and go through the harder aspects of reality. As Natalie Goldberg put it, "Better to keep a limber mind and develop a tenderness toward existence."

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
–Izumi Shikibu

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Mindfully Do Something Different

From the Sun and Moon Tarot, the Six of Swords; from the Wisdom Keepers Oracle, Mindfulness:

          Six swords pierce the symbol of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a sign according to Decort of being able to think analytically. Complementing that meaning is the card Mindfulness - Intentionally observing each moment as it unfolds without judgment. In other words, we're watching without letting our emotional reactive patterns drive us to do what we usually do. There is a lojong slogan that says, "Don't be so predictable." It basically means that most of us have certain buttons that can be pushed that cause us to behave with all the regularity of a robot. But these cards suggest we don't have to stay in those emotional loops; with mindfulness, we can become aware of them, feel the discomfort of not acting on them, and practice doing something different.

Nature has endowed the human brain with a malleability and flexibility that lets it adapt to the demands of the world it finds itself in. The brain is neither immutable nor static but continuously remodeled by the lives we lead. ― Richard J. Davidson