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, January 31, 2020

Secret Histories

From the Idiosyncradeck, the Six of Cups; from the Mixed Emotions Cards, Jealous:

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

          The Six of Cups shows a table set for a tea party, perhaps nostalgic for some but not for me. I definitely didn't have that kind of childhood. However, that doesn't mean I don't have any good memories of growing up. My good times involved being outside in wide-open spaces or learning to create with scraps and discarded items. I won't say that I didn't envy the lives of other children; I remember desperately wanting to be adopted by my best friend's family in elementary school. But age and working with others has given me a wider perspective. Those lives that look so perfect on the outside, with big houses and fancy cars, often hide a lot of fear, misery, and grief on the inside.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Outlook Murky

From the Idiosyncradeck, the Moon; from the Mixed Emotions Cards, Exhausted:
          A full moon rises over an undefined landscape; even at its brightest, it fails to clearly illuminate what lies below it. My mind does not care for vague boundaries, ambiguous instructions or blurry obligations. It responds by setting up a structure of expectations that are often rigid and perfectionistic with a timer counting down the remaining minutes and hours. My mind then drives my body until I am stressed and overwhelmed (Exhausted). The lesson here is that my mind is not always reliable or trustworthy. There's no need to put on that yoke and if there's no real wagon to pull.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Blinkered Focus

From the Idiosyncradeck, the Five of Cups; from the Mixed Emotions Cards, Happy:
          A once full teacup lies shattered on the floor. It is a good description of the sudden end of a relationship, whether it comes from betrayal, a cold shoulder, or physical loss. At that moment, my world shrinks down to that event, blocking out the rest of the world. It is all my mind thinks about, as if everything else has been frozen. But the Happy card suggests that I don't have to identify my life with this singular event. Yes, I will grieve the relationship, but I don't have to self-identify with it as if it was the only thing that made my life worthwhile.

Both wisdom and compassion shift our sense of identity away from ourselves toward the wider human, biotic, and cosmic community to which we belong.
—Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Mistakes Aren't Failures

From the Idiosyncradeck, the Six of Arrows (Wands); from the Mixed Emotions Cards, Inspired:
          Only four of the arrows are visible in this card; two went wide, two fell short and two hit the bullseye. My generation seems to be caught in the expectation of perfection. Yet in the real world, mistakes are made and adjustments are taken. Those arrows that missed weren't failures, they were simply steps on the way to achieving the goal. The pairing of the Six of Wands with the Inspired card suggests that even when I lack confidence, I can look to others who kept trying until they succeeded. I can have faith that if others have climbed their mountains, with effort and perseverance, I can find my way too. 

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
~Dale Carnegie

Monday, January 27, 2020

Boundaries and Integrity

From the Idiosyncradeck, the Seven of Arrows (Wands); from the Mixed Emotions Cards, Fulfilled:
          A high wall protects against an onslaught of arrows. It represents maintaining our boundaries and holding our ground as we face passive-aggressive humor, those who judge without facts, and people who like to feel superior to others. Yes, there are those who have wisdom we should heed, but in this case, it is simply about guarding ourselves against those who don't have our best interests at heart. The Fulfillment card reminds me there is a big difference between self-esteem and 'other-esteem,' which has a way of shaping our thoughts and behaviors. As Mel Schwartz explains, "Authentic self-esteem is not dependent upon others or things external to us. Such self-esteem is a manifestation of our relationship with ourselves." Do my actions flow from integrity, guided by ethics? Fulfillment comes when I can look in the mirror and see a face I respect.

Happiness is not a goal. It’s a by-product of a life well-lived.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Don't Feed It

This week I'll be using the Idiosyncradeck Tarot, created and self-published by Jessica Bott. Along with it, I'll be drawing from the Mixed Emotions Cards, created by Petra Martin with Kris Wiltse (Illustrator) and published by Heron Lake Press. Today's draws are the Four of Cups and Comforted:

          On a cupboard sits one lonely teacup. It represents that feeling of being unmotivated and out of sync with the rest of the world. I can recognize this mood in myself after I've had several days of adrenaline-pumping, feet-flying, mind-zooming activity. When I'm back to normal, I feel lost, exhausted and uninspired. If I spend to much time worrying about how I feel, I'll convince myself that I've lost my zest for living. But it's only a temporary mood and will fade unless I feed it. Comforted reminds me of how much our society needs to teach people how to self-comfort. The media suggests that we buy, eat, drink or take a pill to make ourselves feel better, but this is no remedy. However, there are healthier alternatives that can help ground us until we feel better:

  • Gentle movement like stretching or taking a short, slow walk.
  • Visualization of a real or imaginary place that brings you joy.
  • Music (upbeat or relaxing).
  • Personal contact with someone you trust.
  • Time spent with a pet.
  • Warm baths or showers, scented candles or incense, bird watching - things that will feed your senses in a wholesome way.
  • Zooming out to see the bigger picture.
  • Conscious breathing, such as the three-part-breath (relax the abdomen and let it expand as you slowly inhale, following the rise of your chest and shoulders, then observe the reverse process as you exhale).

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Full Value

From the Light Seer's Tarot, the Nine of Cups; from the Celtic Lenormand, Birds (Songbirds):
          The 'Wish' card appears today, showing a woman who must have been in need of a financial windfall. I have a friend who says, "Money can't bring happiness, but it sure can making living a little easier." Having lived hand-to-mouth in past years, I have to agree. But sitting on a stack of money doesn't bring nearly as much fulfillment as having someone to enjoy it with. This is the third Birds card I've drawn this week (this deck has three); all deal with communication and information, but in different ways. The chickens represent that which nourishes the body, the owls symbolize that which can engage the mind, and the songbirds serve as that which fulfills the spirit. The songbirds encourage me to be generous in sharing any good fortune that finds me. As Mark Twain instructs, "To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with."

Friday, January 24, 2020

Center Line

From the Light Seer's Tarot, Temperance; from the Celtic Lenormand, Birds (Owls):

          A young man swirls the cool, rocky moon's energies with those of the fiery sun. His message is to walk the middle way, enjoying and employing both while avoiding extremes. Buddhist wisdom is divided into 'absolute' (insights about reality) and 'relative' (what is grounded in the physical world) truths. The absolute is the essence of reality that can't be put in a labeled box, while the relative involves our daily experiences in the concrete world. To separate these two would be impossible - we can't live a spiritual life without being grounded in reality. The Birds/Owls are a reminder that sometimes I need to listen to the wisdom of others in order to see a fuller truth rather than my personal slice of it.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

All of Us

From the Light Seer's Tarot, the King of Wands; from the Celtic Lenormand, Hill Fort/Tower:

          This King is not content to sit on his throne and supervise (while tweeting his opinions). He wants to be an example of how you get things done and dusted. He knows everyone can't help in the same way, but almost everyone can help in some way. And once the ball gets rolling, a sense of camaraderie is formed by having a common purpose. Yet the Tower implies that for groups to work together, there must be some basic guidelines and boundaries. These aren't meant to restrict the effort or oppress those who help but to keep things from becoming chaotic. Hopefully, the King will be democratic in deciding what the rules of order will be.

None of us is as smart as all of us. ~Ken Blanchard

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Self Check

From the Light Seer's Tarot, the Seven of Swords; from the Celtic Lenormand, Birch Rods:
          This person must not be too bright to steal from crows - their raucous calls will alert anyone nearby. It seems he or she is stealing feathers; it is illegal to sell feathers as people will kill rather than collect them when a buck is to be made. Yet the Birch Rods bound together as a broom imply that I need to take my own moral inventory (sweep my own side of the street) before pointing any fingers. One of the precepts I recite daily says, "I vow not to take what is not given, but to practice generosity." This intention goes much deeper than just material things. I must be generous in my conversations with others and in my judgments about them. My demands of any kind should never exceed what I would be willing to give.

Generosity takes many forms—we may give our time, our energy, our material possessions, our love. All are expressions of caring, of compassion, of connection, and of renunciation—the ability to let go.
—Joseph Goldstein

Monday, January 20, 2020

Unconditional Openness

From the Light Seer's Tarot, the Two of Wands; from the Celtic Lenormand, the Heart:
          Holding on to one staff while another leans in a corner, a young woman stares wistfully out her window. The globe and VW bus photo suggest she dreams of travel and excitement, yet she must leave the comfort and stability of the known for the unknown to do so. Will she use the fiery energy of the Wands to make a choice and then act on it? The heart shape formed by the open mussel shell reminds me of the unconditional openness that can aid us in relating to life. There is no certainty and permanence anywhere, even in the comfortable, feathered nest we currently sit. Pema Chodron wrote: "When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity not to be afraid." If she's looking for adventure and not perfection, an open mind and heart can be beneficial first steps in that direction.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Leaving with Support

From the Light Seer's Tarot, the Eight of Cups; from the Celtic Lenormand, Birds:
          There is a nontraditional church in the area that has a Bowl Burning Ceremony at the end of each year. People write down what holds them back rather than helps them grow - regrets, resentments, blind beliefs, unhealthy attachments to people or things, etc. The symbolic burning is an intention to release these things and move on. Yet I am convinced that I can't let go of anything unless I am fully aware of how much pain and suffering holding on to it causes. I must see past my denial and lay down my rainbow-colored glasses and acknowledge it for what it is. The hens on the Birds card remind me of an article written by Karen Davis, who emphasizes the amazing memory, emotions, and sociability of chickens. Their social traits are associated with this Lenormand card - the trusted relationships that allow us to pour out our hearts and share our thoughts and ideas. Though a painful experience may make me want to isolate, it's my contact with others that will help me heal and move forward.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Right Turns and Wrong Turns

This week I'll be using the Light Seer's Tarot, created by Chris-Anne Donnelly and published by Hay House. The other deck I'll be drawing from is the Celtic Lenormand, with artwork by Will Worthington and booklet by Chloe McCracken; it is published by U.S. Games. Today's cards are the Three of Wands and Stars:
          This gal did her research to find a great place to surf, saved her pennies, then traveled there on holiday. Now she waits to see what the actual conditions are - if the waves are breaking in one direction, not folding over in different places along its length. She'll know soon whether her investment and collected information will pay off. If she can stay aware of what is instead of having too many expectations, she's bound to learn something and possibly have some fun too. The Lenormand card shows a man using a navigational tool that uses the stars for guidance. He's not going to argue that the stars are in the wrong place, he'll understand that he is off course. In the same way, the young surfer may find that the waves are not perfect, but that isn't the ocean's fault. As Mandy Hale wrote, "Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to the right place."

Monday, January 6, 2020

Getting Started

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Ace of Wands; from Rory's Story Dice, 'Falling Star:'

          The Ace of Wands is like a match posed above a pile of kindling. It is an inspiration that motivates us like a strong feeling of hunger or thirst. If we're willing to take a chance, we can begin making plans to do something concrete with this drive. Unfortunately, we may shuffle our feet without actually doing a thing because we long for certainty. Like the Boy Meets Girl band sings, we find ourselves "waiting on a falling star" before making a move. Unfortunately, while we wait for the Universe to send us a sign, the tide is going out and the weather is changing. If that plant man wants to get his raft out on the water, he needs to put his oar-like hands in the sea and start rowing.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
~Mark Twain

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Stammering Voice

This week I'll be using the Neuzeit Tarot created by Walter Wegmuller and published by AG Muller. The "oracle" I'll be using is a combination of two sets of dice: Rory's Story Cubes and Rory's Story Cubes - Voyages.  These dice were created by Rory O'Connor and produced by Gamewright. Today's card and die are the Seven of Swords and 'Sheep:'
Rather than devoutly repeating what has been said many times before, you risk expressing your understanding in your own stammering voice.
~ Stephen Batchelor

          Balancing those seven swords, this fellow has a lot of weight on his head. He also has a crush of people around him telling him what he should and shouldn't do. I think this is where I often step off the path of 'us' and into the boxing ring of me versus you. I segregate myself from others based on what I believe. But what would happen if I explain what is motivating me and then listen sincerely to what is motivating my opposition? What would happen if I looked for common ground instead of our differences? The fellow's multiple faces suggest I take an individual approach rather than painting with a wide brush. Gently speaking my truth doesn't have the adrenaline behind it that angrily yelling it does, but it still can be powerful. The Rory's die suggests the alternative is the sheeple approach - jump on a bandwagon and tamp down any spiritual nudges not to conform. Baaaaaaad idea.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Lead Weights

From the Mary-El Tarot, Justice; from the OH Cards, Backstab/Guilt:

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart.
~Carl Jung

          "Weigh your heart," White encourages us. Ma'at, the Egyptian goddess of truth and harmony, waits to place my heart on a balancing scale with a feather. What would cause it to be so heavy? Self-pity, anger, greed, and selfishness could add some weight, as well as ungrounded fear. Those emotions that I want to blame on a cause outside myself are actually seeds I've planted in my own mind. Yet the Backstab/Guilt cards suggest another reason. Backstabbing doesn't necessarily have to be dramatic; it can be more subtle, such as making up names for people ('Hairpiece Harry'). Yet those little psychological nicks and cuts I inflict on others can change the living tissue of my heart into lead. I think I'll take Jung's advice instead.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Out With the Old

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Ten of Swords; from the OH Cards, Judge/Hesitate:

Wherever there is the death of one state of mind there is the birth of another.
—Francesca Fremantle

          I think I often over-analyze something because I desperately want it to work out a certain way, even though the chance of that is nil and none. At some point, I realize the deep, dark hole I'm standing in has been dug by me. If I want to get out, I've got to stop digging and start refilling my mind with other ideas and possibilities. Yet a new mindset is a bit uncomfortable to wear, like a stiff, new pair of jeans. As the Judge/Hesitate combination suggests, I might hesitate to discuss these new ideas with others because I am afraid of being judged. Unfortunately, that is a possibility. But instead of worrying, I can spend this adjustment period studying and investigating these views to see if they have any evidence beneath them. If I'm going to fill that hole, I might as well use some fertile soil instead of concrete.

Thursday, January 2, 2020


From the Mary-El Tarot, the Eight of Disks; from the OH Cards, Nurse/Lie:
          In Thoth language, the Eight of Disks refers to prudence and patience - the opposite of the two roaring lions on either side of the lamb. When I am trying to create or accomplish something, it can feel frustrating to sit in that small space between the parts of my mind that tell me to bulldoze over all obstacles and run full tilt to the finish line. But if I listen to them, what I'm trying to cultivate and nurture won't have a chance to develop. The combination of Nurse/Lie blends well with the Eight of Disks if I consider all those times I injured myself, was exhausted, or recovering from illness and still tried to do everything I normally do and more. It may not be comfortable to sit with the roaring in my mind, but my body will thank me for it later.

I first found delight in the Sabbath many years ago when, as a busy surgeon, I knew that the Sabbath became a day for personal healing. ~Russell M. Nelson

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Filling the Heart

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Ace of Cups; from the OH Cards, Box/Boredom:

...begin to decide how you want to love; openly and without judgment or caution, without expectation of return, with purpose, compassionately, this is the kind of powerful flowing force that is yin and can gently move mountains and shape the earth. ~Marie White

          It's a New Year, and the angelic hermaphrodite in this Ace of Cups seems to represent all the possibilities contained in it. There will be an opportunity for new relationships to be developed and for old ones to be restored; a chance to develop emotional maturity and to weaken the hold of unhealthy emotional habits. But the Box/Boredom combination shows us the flip side of the coin. While we may think we are discontent and want something more, the familiar can seem secure and safe. Nevertheless, we will have to get out of our little box if we want change to happen, however uncomfortable it may be. May your heart find what will fulfill it in 2020!