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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tug of Interest

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Page of Pentacles; from the Rumi Cards, 'Boiling Sea of Passion:'
          Unlike his cousin, the Page of Swords, this Page is not interested in debate and discourse as an intellectual exercise. He could care less about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. The studies he engages in are for practical purposes that can be put to use in the concrete world, whether that involves learning how to raise chickens, creating haiku, or changing the flapper in the toilet that keeps running. The Boiling Sea of Passion encourages us to follow our passion in order to turn our minds towards something positive and constructive. Study of any kind can help us discover embers of curiosity that we can fan into flames. Rather than sitting immobile in the mud of despair, anxiety, anger or apathy, we can follow the tug of interest and feed our inquisitiveness with some fresh air.

A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.
― James Allen

Monday, March 30, 2020

Humble Response

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Six of Wands; from the Rumi Cards, 'The Moon is Waiting:'
          Any successful leader worth his salt will admit to standing on the shoulders of others to meet challenges and achieve goals. And that kind of humility will keep him learning as well as leading. Open-minded cooperation among diversification makes us all stronger and more knowledgeable. The Moon card suggests we set aside any focus on "me, mine, myself" and look at the bigger picture. I had a strange thought this morning... What if we didn't have the concept of religion at all, but rather the only the idea of relationship? What if the spiritual focus of groups concentrated on kindness and compassion toward all other beings, Nature, etc. instead of creeds or dogma? What a glorious light that would shine on our world.

People respond in accordance to how you relate to them.
~Nelson Mandela

Sunday, March 29, 2020

River of Thoughts

From the Albano-Waite Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the Rumi Cards, the 'Ordeal of exile:'

          I'm in sync with this fellow today. Our temperature is supposed to hit 86F by lunch, and our air conditioning has quit working. The heavy pollen and dust (no rain in many days) keep us from opening the windows. Can you hear me heaving a deep sigh? But wait... we have running water and electricity in a home with food and other luxuries. The river in this card reminds me of the default mode network in the mind; when we aren't focused on a task, it kicks in. But whether the mind flows with positive, uplifting thoughts or negative, woeful ones depends on our pattern of thinking in the past - the habits of mind we've nurtured. But now, at this moment, I have a chance to start cleaning up my river by where I place my attention. The Rumi card suggests that ordeals and hardships we face can rekindle our gratitude for what we've taken for granted. Instead of sighing in frustration, I can focus on what it will feel like when our unit is repaired.

All mental and emotional patterns eventually fall apart and dissolve in the light of awareness.
—Hanuman Goleman

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Today is the Day

This week I'll be using the Albano Waite Tarot, a recolored version of the RWS created by Frankie Albano and published by U.S. Games. The oracle deck I'll be pairing with it is the Rumi Cards, created by Eryk Hanut and Michelle Wetherbee and published by Tuttle Publishing. Today's draws are the Four of Pentacles and 'Tomorrow's already gone:'
          Is this fellow being miserly or mindful of his resources? It appears he's understood the importance of social distancing, but has he distanced himself from compassion and kindness as well? Wise discernment is required now (Covid-19 has given our little city a wallop), but does one person really need a case of toilet paper and 20 bottles of hand gel? Hoarding mass amounts might make a person feel protected, but all those other people who find shelves empty will keep looking, which means people will be out and about when they shouldn't have to be. The Rumi quote suggests that we do the best we can now, rather than live in dread of tomorrow. As the Dalai Lama stated, "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly, live."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Motive and Outcome

From the Hadar Marseille Tarot, the Six of Coins; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Mu:

          Coins are about obtaining wants and needs in the physical realm, from good health and relaxation time to a home and financial security. The Sixes emphasize the need to keep things going - in the Coins suit, pass along part of what we have to keep everyone in balance. It could be as simple as turning off the TV to talk with and calm an anxious friend or leaving some groceries on the porch of someone in need. Besides being a Greek letter, Mu is also a term used in the Zen Buddhist tradition that indicates the absence or lack of something. Generosity can be rooted in compassion or obligation. If it grows from a tender heart, we get to share in the joy of the receiver. But if it springs from the pressure of 'shoulds,' we are left with a feeling of resentment or a burdensome strain.

A man's motive in the small actions of daily life, like resting a moment on his pitchfork in the sun and listening intently, may be the most important thing about that man. ~Haniel Long

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thy Name is Fear

From the Hadar Marseille Tarot, the Devil; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Iota:
          Bursten explains that the face on the Devil's belly indicates being led by one's appetites rather than logic. Appetite, in this case, is more than just hunger; it includes anything that drives us to seek it because we feel it is beneficial for us (regardless of other people). The problem with leaving rational thought and compassion in the closet is that we are often driven by fear. We react in destructive ways, from power pushes to addictive behavior. Iota is related to yod, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It signifies something tiny and insignificant, as in its usage "not one iota." Together with the Devil, it cautions us not to blow something small into an imaginary, huge problem. Our magnifying minds need to look through the lens of rationality. It may be what we fear is only a molehill in disguise.

Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does.     
~David Allen

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Opening the Door

From the Hadar Marseille Tarot, the Eight of Swords; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Nu:

          Eight swords surround a fully opened rose while four buds on the outside have been cut from their stems. Efficiency meets defense in this card, such as when people try to introduce innovative ideas or improvements but get cut off by the words "we'll do it the way we've always done it." Yet Nu shows why rigid thinking can become a mental prison. Nu measures true anomaly - the irregular elliptical paths of celestial bodies. If things never change, there's no need to change how we think or act. But life is always in flux with unexpected surprises. An open mind can allow us to see possibilities that might help us meet the challenges and of the sudden curves that come.

The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind. E.B. White

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Abetting or Aiding

From the Hadar Marseille Tarot, the Five of Swords; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Omicron:
          The Five of Swords is a combination of actions - defending and challenging. But the cut-off flower buds that will never bloom or aid in pollination warn against an aggressive stance. As Anne Lamott succinctly put it, "You don't always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too." Lately, I've heard a lot of misinformation about Covid-19, from testing yourself by seeing if you can hold your breath for 20 seconds without coughing to taking massive doses of Vitamin C or eating garlic. The snarky side of me wants to ask these folks if they are suffering from a concussion. Yet if I check in with my heart, I can relate. Feeling scared and vulnerable can lead people to grasp at anything that will make them feel secure and better protected. Omicron is a Greek letter that hasn't really been employed in science or math because it looks just like the letter 'o' and the number zero. This Greek letter cautions against taking action that adds to any confusion (such as belligerent arguments) rather than aids in understanding. It might be better just to send links to the CDC or WHO websites.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Our True Face

From the Hadar Marseille, the Hanged Man; from the Greek Alphabet Runes, Epsilon:
          Bursten explains that many years ago in Europe when criminals couldn't be apprehended, authorities hired an artist to draw a 'shame picture' of the culprit hanging upside down by one foot that was displayed for all the public to see. He might not be behind bars or in a stockade, but the picture was a way of saying, "Now everyone knows your true face." While the RWS version implies a lack of control or sacrifice that brings enlightenment, the Marseille version seems to suggest humiliation for unethical or selfish behavior. I can't help thinking of all of humankind right now being held in limbo with the help of a virus for our self-righteous and self-indulgent behaviors over the last decades. Epsilon has been used in economics to represent elasticity - how a change in one variable will produce a change in another. It brings to mind the question, "Now that we've seen our true face, are we willing to change?"

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.
― Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Reconstructing Balance

This week I'll be using Le Veritable Tarot de Marseille, restored and reconstructed by Kris Hadar and published by Mortagne. Lee Bursten's The Marseille Tarot Companion will be a resource for reading with this deck. The oracle I'll be using is one I created myself called the Greek Alphabet Runes. AlaskaLaserMaid on Etsy burned the designs on cedar tiles for me. Today's draws are the Six of Staves and Zeta:

          Bursten assigns the word 'creating' to the suit of Staves and the phrase, 'Keeping it going' to the Sixes. After the previous challenge and imbalance of the Fives, the dust is beginning to settle and some progress is being made. When I scanned the Hadar card this morning, I initially labeled it Six of Wants instead of Six of Wands. That was a red flag I needed to heed. The flowers growing on the side of the staves are buds that are still rooted while the top and bottom blooms have been cut. Likewise, I must let go of my wants and focus on the fact that my needs are being fully met if I want to keep moving forward. Zeta is a letter that has been used to measure the vorticity of fluid or air, such as in whirlpools or tornadoes. It implies a busyness that drains my energy and dissembles rather than creates. For instance, watching the news for hours or being constantly attached to my phone may feel like I'm being constructive even though it's not. As Margaret Mead reminds me, "Human nature is potentially aggressive and destructive and potentially orderly and constructive." I have a choice in which one I nurture.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Revolution in Relationships

From the Shining Tribe Tarot, the Knower of Stones (Knight of Pentacles); from the Animal Tiles, Cougar:
          The broom-like hairdo on the Knight/Knower of Stones illustrates an ecstatic, mystical experience - not something that offers spiritual props but something that causes a change in perception and is transforming. This Knight, who is both a student and a practical person, would definitely be wide open to receiving it. I had a mini epiphany today when I read a reply from a blogging buddy who shared something she had read: instead of worrying about getting the virus (or acting like it won't affect us), we should act as if we already had it. Our attitude of fear or frustration would then be transformed into one of humility, gentleness, and kindness. Cougar is a symbol of the right use of power, a power that is not fueled by ego but by what will be of benefit in the long run. This means my intentions will be clear and my actions will be selfless. Hey World, it's time for a revolution in relationships.

We are all going to die. Let's die having created as much love in our relationships - as much family in our relationships - as we possibly can.
—Richard Moss

Friday, March 20, 2020

Unpack Your Heart

From the Shining Tribe Tarot, the Five of Rivers (Cups); from the Animal Tiles, Deer:
          The spiral of the crane's neck symbolizes the experiences of love and loss in our lifetime. Outwardly the sun shines, but the crane's stomach feels cold and empty. When we're in that state of loss, it is natural to compare what was (love) to what is (grief). But we can easily get trapped in an eddy of sadness by refusing to see anything beyond our personal pain. The Deer showcases an impressive set of antlers; after the rutting season, testosterone will fall and the antlers will be shed. Yet when summer arrives, antlers will be grown once more. Deer reminds us that it is natural to feel heartbroken when we experience a loss, and it is normal to have an emotional ache that we should embrace. However, if we want our spirit to be rejuvenated at some point, it is necessary to accept the support of others and constantly turn our minds to what is still good and beautiful in the world. As Philip Phillips sings, "Unpack your heart."

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Open-ended Options

From the Shining Tribe Tarot, the Nine of Trees (Wands); from the Animal Tiles, Rabbit:
           In mythology, the goddess Inanna planted a tree in her sacred garden and tended it daily. But then a bird and a snake made it their home along with the goddess Lilith. We can be conscientious and work hard, but we may still find things don't work out when or how we wanted them to. It's hard to keep going when the hits don't seem to ever stop. Yet Rabbit appears with her ability to frequently produce a large number of kits any time of the year. Being on the prey end of the food chain, she knows survival for her species depends on creating lots of bunnies. Rabbit urges us to be creative, having multiple options and plans rather than only one. Focus on the task rather than the result. Things have a way of working out, just not in the shape expected. In the case of Inanna, the tree got cut down and made into a bed and throne for her.

When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have. ~Stephen Hawking

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Flowing and Flying

From the Shining Tribe Tarot, Temperance; from the Animal Tiles, Hawk:

          I have some friends and family members who believe life is full of misery, anxiety, and hopelessness while others hide their faces from all suffering and talk of rainbows, fluffy bunnies, and unicorns. Temperance reminds me not to be fooled into believing either extreme. Life is a river that continually flows and changes but never becomes stagnant. The only thing that can become sluggish is my mindset. Hawk sits on tree limbs and poles looking for prey; he does not care about how the cotton or corn is growing. In the same way, we can cherry-pick what we want to see and believe while ignoring everything else. Hawk suggests we take to the sky, adding spaciousness to our ideas rather than rigid opinions. There's good and bad, beauty and harshness in everything.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


From the Shining Tribe Tarot, the High Priestess; from the Animal Tiles, Bear:

The first fruition of the practice
is the attainment of froglessness.
When a frog is put
on the center of a plate,
she will jump out of the plate
after just a few seconds.
If you put the frog back again
on the center of the plate,
she will again jump out.
You have so many plans.
There is something you want to become.
Therefore you always want to make a leap,
a leap forward.
It is difficult
to keep the frog still
on the center of the plate.
You and I
both have Buddha Nature in us.
This is encouraging,
but you and I
both have Frog Nature in us.
That is why
the first attainment
of the practice—
froglessness is its name.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

The stillness, receptivity, and curiosity cultivated by the High Priestess lead to insight, but Bear reminds us that this is not the end goal. Just as the Bear must end his torpor in the Spring, so we must act on the understanding and illumination we've received. With insight, we can make wise leaps.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Hacking Up Fur-balls

From the Shining Tribe Tarot, the Place of Stones (Page of Pentacles); from the Animal Tiles, Owl:

             The suit of Stones represents security, practicality, and groundedness. Just as Pollack's card illustrates a sacred place for centering, so do each of us need a ballast to keep us mentally, physically and emotionally stable in the real world. Our bodies and senses are the easiest tools to use as mindful anchors, as one moment flows into the next: feeling bare feet on the ground, listening to the sounds of birdsong, smelling spring flowers in bloom, tasting each bite of a meal, watching waves lap the shore, or noticing the body as it moves through daily tasks. Owl flies in to hack up a pellet of fur and bone, reminding us not to hold on to what does not benefit us. Anxious busyness, emotional frustration and anger, and other distractions keep us from taking care of our physical and mental health.

We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do not think of the only one that does; so vain that we dream of times that are not and blindly flee the only one that is. ~Blaise Pascal 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Living in Joy

This week I'll be using the Shining Tribe Tarot, a deck and book set created by Rachel Pollack and published by Llewellyn. The oracle I'll be using is a wooden set of Animal Tiles, hand pyroetched by my multi-talented friend Carole Beasley. My draws this morning are Nine of Rivers (Cups) and Spider:
          Pollack suggests the number Nine represents confronting the truth. Here, all the cups of delusion have been shattered - the myths of the perfect relationship, career, health, bank account or prestige that were supposed to bring lasting happiness. Perhaps this was the epiphany of Albert Camus: "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back." Spider reminds us we weave our own webs. What is external may impact us in some way, offering us a choice to rant or repair, but only the latter will bring about positive change.

When we are not attached to who we think we are, life can move through us, playing us like an instrument. Understanding how everything is in continual transformation, we release our futile attempts to control circumstances. When we live in this easy connection with life, we live in joy.
—James Baraz

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Fabricated Festivity

From the Tarot of Durer, the Four of Batons; from the Philosopher's Stone, Mastership:

When I look at the Durer's Four of Wands, I don't think of a celebration for progress made. I only see a poor, dead lion, a braggart, and a dissatisfied woman. Can any foundation built on brute force, deceit, manipulation or intimidation have the strength and fortitude it will need to last? It may sustain itself for a while, but I imagine the dead lion has some angry relatives who will be looking for revenge soon enough. It's hard to build anything lasting on a foundation that is corrupt and rotten. The Mastership card looks as if someone has taken a giant blade and loped off the top of the monolith. Harm requires little skill, but healing and putting things back together does. True mastery is being able to accept a mess and turn it back into a masterpiece.

The exact measure of the progress of civilization is the degree in which the intelligence of the common mind has prevailed over wealth and brute force. ~George Bancroft

Friday, March 13, 2020

Smoke Signals

From the Tarot of Durer, the Nine of Batons; from the Philosopher's Stone, Contribution:
 Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. — Plato

          The traditional Nine of Wands tends to be interpreted as finding a reserve of energy in order to persevere, yet this card feels different. The fellow here appears to be lighting a bonfire, suggesting he is signaling others who are lost or weary too. When we are in dire straits or deep anguish, the world seems to go on spinning as if everyone else has no cares at all. But dig a little deeper, as Plato encourages, and we will find folks who are dealing with heavy burdens as well. The Contribution card gives the impression of aid given - a task often perceived as impossible and unfair when we are dealing with our own struggles. But reaching out in any small way can create connections, and connections can create a feeling of support and belonging. Those felt perceptions can be healing and beneficial on both sides, whether given or received.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Potential for Good or Ill

From the Tarot of Durer, the Four of Cups; from the Philosopher's Stone, Connection:
          How easily the human eye focuses on the dark cloud and broken eggshell while dismissing the newly hatched dove inside its protective circle. We are biologically geared to look for threats, but what serves our sanity and well-being is the effort to look for joy and what is good as well. The Connection card points out that we can turn on each other in times of struggle and hardship or we can remember our interconnection and offer aid where we can. As the Dalai Lama stated, "It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others."

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Persuasive Myth

From the Tarot of Durer, the Seven of Swords; from the Philosopher's Stone, Task:
           It looks like the fox has outsmarted the men hunting it, but will the fox's luck hold out the next time? Ask the addicted nurse who steals meds, the white-collar businessman who embezzles, or the teen who shoplifts how it feels to be cunning enough to beat the system, and they will likely describe it as a high. Yet the Task card shows how such deceptive behavior affects us over time - first it's fun and exciting, then it becomes a little worrying, and finally we're so stressed we feel like we're cracking up. Being honest and open isn't always easy, but it sure beats trying to keep up with the lies we tell.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. ~John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Fresh View

From the Tarot of Durer, the Eight of Swords; from the Philosopher's Stone, Depth:

          At first glance, this card might be the Ten of Swords, but a quick count shows only eight hilts. This illustrates how it feels when we trap ourselves with fatalistic, constrictive thinking. We believe there are no solutions, and since things will never get better, we might as well be dead. It sounds a bit dramatic, but most humans experience this when life gets hard and they forget that their ideas and viewpoints are just a small drop in the ocean of possibilities. The Depth card suggests we stop being so self-absorbed and judging things superficially. We need to stop our self-orbit and attempt to see the world from a wider, more spacious perspective. When we stop playing the 'woe is me' soundtrack in our head and sincerely consider other folk's ideas, we might then see our situation with fresh eyes.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
― Plutarch

Monday, March 9, 2020

Ripening Fruit

This week I'll be using the Tarot of Durer, created by Manfredi Toraldo and Giacinto Gaudenzi and published by Lo Scarabeo. The oracle deck I'll also be using is the Philosopher's Stone, created by De Es and published by AG Muller. Today's draws are the Three of Chalices and Light:
          The Durer's Three of Cups reminds me that friendships can be found in unusual places, for instance, through tarot blogs and forums, in book clubs you didn't really want to join, or during walks around the neighborhood. But rarely have I met anyone without being willing to be a little vulnerable and open. The Light card spurs me to see reality clearly; in this case, I acknowledge that friendships don't arrive uninvited on my doorstep, through the mail or in my email's inbox. Friends are my 'found families,' and they are worth looking for and cultivating. Yet once found, I should heed Aristotle's words: "Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit."

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Where Attention Goes

From the Sheridan-Douglas Tarot, Temperance; from the Pages of Shustah, the Gnomes:

          With one foot on land and one in the water, Temperance advocates a mix of mind and heart, logic and compassion. Easier said than done. Yet the Gnomes, who represent diligence, offer a suggestion for moving through life with moderation. They stay on task and don't worry about how someone else is doing their job. They pay attention so that they don't disturb or get caught in any sticky webs nearby. When we get distracted by our opinions rather than facts and find our hearts constricted by 'shoulds' instead of kindness, we've lost our way on the middle path.

What we choose to go looking for in life - the good or the bad - can have a dramatic effect on not only our view of the world, but on our sense of well-being as a result of that view.
~Zero Dean

Friday, March 6, 2020

Carrying Carefully

From the Sheridan-Douglas Tarot, the Knave (Page) of Cups; from the Pages of Shustah, Capricorn:

          Look at how carefully this Knave cradles his cup, making sure not to spill a drop. He's the sensitive one who knows that certain conversations should be done at the right time and place with forethought and compassion. News that might be explosive or shattering needs to be delivered tenderly. But the mountain goat of Capricorn implies that we might be so concerned about the blowback, we never get around to having that conversation. Yet while this goat is fearless, he also knows how to grip the rocks skillfully as he climbs. He suggests that if our conversation is grounded in facts, we should not be afraid to have those hard conversations without feeling like we're a bad person.

You can’t move the conversation in a more positive direction until the other person feels heard and understood. And they won’t feel heard and understood until you’ve listened. When the other person becomes highly emotional, listen and acknowledge. When they say their version of the story is the only version that makes sense, paraphrase what you’re hearing and ask them some questions about why they think this. If they level accusations against you, before defending yourself, try to understand their view. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or unsure how to proceed, remember that it is always a good time to listen. ― Douglas Stone