Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pentacles, Wands, and a Bull

Yesterday my daily draw was the lovely lady from 9 of Pentacles (Morgan Greer), telling me what I already know: I've been spending a lot of time thinking about economic stability, and deeply wanting to be able to buy my kids all the toys and books they want.

Morgan Greer Tarot

Today I drew the Prince (Knight) of Wands (DruidCraft) who was encouraging me to tap into my creativity and energy and get those tasks taken care of.  Ugh.  I knew I'd have to rework a part of an important assignment at work, and wasn't really looking forward to it.  But like the picture of the Prince, I'd just have to close my eyes and charge on.

DruidCraft Tarot

As a complement, I decided to draw a card from the Druid Animal Oracle, and I pulled the Bull reversed.  This indicates a lack of motivation to "get the job done" (did the Bull and the Knight of Wands have a private meeting before I woke up??).  It suggests to me that if I push through the less savory tasks without getting overly frustrated, I'll enjoy the final result.

Druid Animal Oracle

Okay, that pretty much summed up my day ahead.  I know I've said it (typed it) before, but I really appreciate even the simple acknowledgement of what lies ahead, or what's on my mind.  It helps me reassess my own reactions, and be more realistic and peaceful.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fire, Water, Earth

There has been some struggling a bit recently in my department with a new employee who was hired in to support our other staff.  Though his credentials are similar to the rest of the people in the department, he has less experience, and so started at a slightly lower position, with a possibility for promotion.  In a lot of ways he's really nice, seems to have a good sense of humor, and is a smart guy.  On the other hand he definitely comes across at times as being overconfident in his knowledge and ability, and sometimes ends up making mistakes for these reasons.  Mistakes can be the best learning tools, but only if you're humble enough to recognize them, and there has been some low level conflict resulting from clashes between the new employee and more established faculty.  

I decided to do a three-card spread with undesignated positions, asking the question "what would be helpful for me to understand about this employee?"  I used my Golden Tarot deck.

7 of Wands: he's confident in his abilities, and is determined to prove it.  He was hired in at a lower position but views himself as an equal.  

The Moon: there are uncertainties surrounding him, which may come from the other employees who aren't sure what to think of him yet. But it could also represent his own inflated perception of his skills and abilities.

8 of Pentacles: if he accepts his position as a temporary assignment meant to help him gain experience and improve his abilities, he will be successful.  There is room to grow in the organization, so he should see this as a valuable opportunity to learn more about his field.  

That is good confirmation about what's going on.  Now.  If this were a single question posed to me via email, would I have come to the same conclusions?  I think for the most part I would, perhaps with some minor changes.  It's hard to say.  But I like to pose these questions to myself as a challenge.

Seven of Swordsssss..........

Some common meanings of the 7 of Swords (some wording borrowed from

Running away, shirking responsibility, dishonor (stealing, betrayal, knowing of criminal activity), feeling of not needing anyone, being a lone wolf, keeping secrets, avoiding obligations, procrastinating, letting innocent people pay the price, deceit, taking the easy way out, avoiding a shameful secret, covering your tracks.

A great blog post I read today helped me clarify the core meaning of this card.  The writer was discussing the meaning of the card from the Wildwood Tarot (Mark Ryan, John Matthews, Will Worthington), which has a lot of cards with significantly different meanings compared to traditional Tarot.  I don’t own this deck (though I’d like to someday) but I’ve found some of these non-traditional meanings online.  Some of them do seem a little off from the traditional (2 of Swords/Arrows meaning “injustice” instead of “denial, indecision, facing a difficult choice”).  But some are simply different-yet-related takes on the traditional meanings.  That’s how I see the 7 of Swords/Arrows.  Wildwood’s key word for this card is “Insecurity.”  At face value this doesn’t seem to mesh with the traditional meanings listed above, but upon closer inspection they are really quite closely related.  Insecurity is the root of almost all of the traditional meanings.  It indicates actions either caused by insecurity, or actions that cause insecurity.  Here are some of the ways I visualize that:

Examples: I felt insecure so I X (ran away, distanced myself from others, etc.)
                   X (avoiding my obligations, watching an innocent take the wrap, etc.)
                        caused me to feel insecure.

In many cases a single action can fall into both categories:

Examples: I felt insecure about the quality of my work, so I copied my colleague’s
                        presentation, and now I’m feeling insecure about what I did.

                 I didn’t do well in Spanish class, but I kept it from my parents because I
                        was afraid they’d punish me, and now I’m guilty about the secret, and
                        also afraid they’ll find out anyway, and it’ll be worse.

This is something of an “ah hah” moment for me, because the 7 of Swords has been really challenging for me to understand.  It has a variety of meanings that change significantly depending on the question, accompanying cards, querent, etc.  I feel that taking the term “insecurity” as a basis from which to begin to understand many of the meanings of this card in any reading is a breakthrough in terms of the way I will look at it in the future.  Holding the idea that insecurity is the root of this card makes it easier to work with.  And more dynamic – and easier to understand the dynamics!

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

So I had this card pop up in a spread I did for my daughter, Isabella, some time ago, where her question related to what the next school year would be like. (I won't share the entire spread, but she did agree to me sharing this much.) This card fell in the position of "conscious goals/thoughts/concerns" and I was really, really stuck.  I read the meaning (at that point I was still referencing the LWB as I hadn't learned the meanings by heart yet) and was kind of horrified.  It was all doom and gloom, betrayal and backstabbing.  I didn't think that felt right for Isabella.  I toned it down and felt it could refer to curiosity she has regarding her friend situation in the coming year.  Last year she made some friends, but over the summer they all disappeared, and she was left feeling abandoned, and questioning how true the friendships really were. So I interpreted the card as her attempt to find friends that would be true.  In this sense there is an element of betrayal.  But with the core idea of "insecurity" it opens so many doors.  I started thinking of the many aspects of her year that created anxiety for her (and at times for us), and the meaning suddenly expanded to include not only friends, but academic pursuits (which relates to Swords), honesty, and the potential for alienating some people by "following the beat of her own drum."  My interpretation ended up something like this:

Isabella: determined to be herself (especially style-wise) though this may keep others at arm’s length (who might prefer easily categorized people).  There may be anxiety about the ability to make friends while staying true to herself, especially since friends she thought she had made haven’t been particularly available.  This may also represent some low-level anxiety about the intellectual work itself (will it be easy? too challenging? will I be able to hack it?).  In addition it may touch on the need to communicate what’s going on in school with us (her parents) and not let us find out about things at the last minute, or via an email from a teacher (in other words, don’t avoid or hide things).

So I’m happy that I still feel my initial interpretation was right, but it’s so much richer and whole when I approach the 7 of Swords from a new angle.  Now I’m sure this hasn’t entirely solved my own insecurities about working with this card (ha ha) but it’s given me something really promising to work with, and I'm no longer scared that I'll be stumped by this card in a spread.

A Knight, The World, and The Empress: 3 Days in a Nutshell

I didn’t post my daily draws for the past three days, so I thought I’d do that now, just to try to keep up the practice of reporting what I pulled and how it related to my day!

Today is Monday (ugh). 

On Saturday I pulled the Knight of Swords, using my Golden Tarot deck.  Well, as much as I love to see other suits, it was fitting all the same.  It was pretty much Jorge.  He woke up on the wrong side of bed, and was irritable for most of the day, until late afternoon/early evening.  Sometimes just the acknowledgement of what your day is bringing you is enough to make it easier to deal with, to keep in mind that it’s just a moment, and won’t last.  To take it in stride.  That’s one of the important benefits of daily draws, I would say.  And while the day was pretty Knight of Swordsy, the evening ended on a positive note.

Morgan Greer Tarot

On Sunday I pulled The World, using my new Morgan Greer deck.  That’s what I’m talking about!  Not a sword in sight! ;-)  (To be fair I do appreciate and value the messages the suit of Swords delivers, but sometimes I just want a break!).  Realizing goals, getting active and involved, healing, synthesis, contentment and fulfillment.  Quite an auspicious card, really! I wasn’t sure I’d be able to live up to it!!!  But it did color my day in many ways.  I made inquiries about two courses I want to take at a local shop – one on herbs and the other on intuitive Tarot.  I purchased ritual candles and a small bottle for holding consecrated oil.  I bought some Hawthorn berries for a tea I wanted to make (due to a haphazard reading about my health I’d done that morning which worried me and made me want to take some action!).  And to top it off, that evening I did the most affirming reading (with my DruidCraft deck) about my future with Tarot which really brought everything together and gave me a strong feeling that I’m heading in the right direction.  I followed that up with a one-card-draw from my Druid Animal Oracle to ask what animal teachings would be most helpful on my path, and pulled the Seal card (connecting to your Unconscious; Feminine energy and teachings; opening yourself to following your dreams).  Not only was the message in line with my reading, but the card features a cloudy sky with a rainbow.  A few minutes later I put the cards away and Jorge and Lourdes and I went out for an evening walk… when I looked up there was the most beautiful rainbow hanging in a hazy sky.  I’ve never seen a rainbow by our house before, so it felt like another sort of confirmation, and it was a really beautiful moment for me, on many levels, kind of left me in awe.  So The World seemed fitting for my day yesterday.

Morgan Greer Tarot

Today I almost didn’t even have time to pull a card.  And let me say that it was quite the incomplete process.  I was hurriedly shuffling my Morgan Greer deck (I’m trying to switch it up now that I have three decks, so each one gets a little attention) and wasn’t even able to finish one shuffle before Gabriel and Jorge came in the room, and I needed to change Gabriel’s diaper, and Jorge started organizing the bed sheets.  So I just gave up shuffling, and cut the deck once and it was the Empress (how very fitting, given the surrounding activity!).  I put that on the back burner and ran out the door.  Despite the incompleteness of the shuffle/selection process I decided to go with it!  On my way to work I thought about it, and feel it’s telling me that the most important aspects of my day today will involve my family.  Jorge had a hard morning today with aches and pains he can’t identify the cause of, and feeling really tired.  So I feel the need to be supportive of him, so that he can get some rest.  Except I’m going to be at work for most of the day!  So I’m going to help him as much as possible from afar (planning the grocery list, etc) and then later when I get home try to give him some down time, and see what activities I can come up with for the kids.  To me today is all about giving extra support to my family in both roles: wife and mother.

I’m out.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Reading with DruidCraft

I did a reading last night using my new DruidCraft Tarot by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, and Will Worthington (yesssss, came in the mail yesterday!!! And a side note- after a brief deliberation I decided to trim the cards because they were so huge and cumbersome, and despite my terror they came out well).

The reading was for a friend's husband, who for the sake of privacy I'll call "Jason," though they were fine with me sharing the results on this blog (thank you!). He's been struggling to develop his own business, starting from scratch, and feeling anxious about the future.  My friend, meanwhile, has been the primary "bread-winner" as her husband slowly works toward his goals, and making his dreams a reality.  They have kids, and he's been acting as a stay-at-home-Dad at the same time.  So the question was: "What does the future hold for my business idea?"

I decided to use a 7-card horseshoe spread that I'd been wanting to try, and the card numbers as as follows:

1         2
3         4
5   6    7

So here goes:


(P.S.: Sorry for the dark picture- it was at night and the light was dim!!!)

Firstly, the Ace of Wands jumped out during shuffling, which felt significant in terms of the question presented.

Card #1, The Past - 9 of Pentacles: I haven't been using reversals, but after some consideration I felt strongly that the reversed meaning of this card was true for Jason.  For a long time he's felt a sense of frustration in the development of his plans, and the deep desire to be successful and economically stable.  He longs to be able to enjoy the fruits of his labors, but has had a hard time figuring out how to make his hopes real.  He's often had the sense of his plans and dreams being thwarted by the everyday issues that come up and get in the way.

Card #2, The Present - 6 of Cups: The image on the card is a man seated in a house, looking out at two children at play.  This represents Jason as he's been spending a long time as a stay-at-home-Dad.  While he loves spending time with his kids, he also has the feeling that all the time he spends focusing on taking care of them distracts him from approaching his career goals with a clear mind.

Card #3, Underlying Influences - The Princess (Page) of Pentacles: This is a cool card; it represents the fact that Jason has an opportunity to take the idea and early beginnings of his business idea and turn it into a successful endeavor as long as he puts in effort and works steadily toward his goals.

Card #4, Potential Obstacles - 4 of Pentacles: This represents the need to be financially conscientious.  While Jason desperately wants to be able to have economic flexibility, he needs to keep in mind that it's a process.  While he may find success with his business ultimately, it's important to make budgets and adhere to them in order to maintain balance, especially because in order to grow the business Jason needs to invest some amount of money, and the family as a whole is operating on limited income.

Card #5, The Environment - Queen of Wands: I felt that this represents Jason's wife (my friend).  In one way it represents the reality of her balancing her career with her family.  In another way it represents the positive and creative environment that she provides Jason, supporting him to find his way and grow his business idea.

Card #6, Advice - 7 of Cups: This is an important card.  It represents Jason himself, laying casually on his side and watching the opportunities floating before him.  While the road hasn't been easy, and there have bee a lot of distractions along the way, to some degree Jason has been getting in his own way by feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities and routes for growing a successful business.  When feeling overwhelmed, he tends to sit back and think for too long about what he "could" do, which creates a sense of frustration and confusion, and limits the action he takes.  This card says that in order to move ahead he's going to have to make a decision about what route he wants to take, and move toward making it happen.  It also advises Jason to stop getting lost in his dreams of an ideal future which may not be realistic at the moment, and start working with the resources he has at hand.

Card #7, Outcome - The Lovers: This is an encouraging card.  It suggests that if Jason follows the advice card, he'll ultimately reach a sense of fulfillment.  Card #6 shows a man on a rock ledge peering into a pool of water in which sit all the possibilities he could choose from, that might lead to happiness and success.  The Lovers represent the union of desire with reality.

All in all there were two court cards and one trump card. The court cards being in the positions of underlying influences and environment suggests positive energy, and the trump is a promising card in the future outcome position. There were three earths, two waters, one fire, and one air.  The Queen of Wands (fire) next to the 7 of Cups (water) may indicate (trying to incorporate the dignities!) that Jason's wife is a positive support, but not critical to the final outcome - that lies in Jason.  There is a lot of desire and dreaming happening, but not a lot of focused energy on creation and decision-making, though the Princess of Pentacles does show promise for creating a firm basis for a new project.  However the "extra" card, the Ace of Wands, indicates that there is creative energy under the surface which will be able to spring forth if Jason can manage to focus his business goals into a workable plan, and the air element of the Lovers indicates that in order to find success he'll have to be more rational and decisive as well.

I was worried about not being able to connect with a brand new deck, but after trimming it (which was a difficult decision, and not one I imagined I'd ever make!) and performing a consecration and charging ritual, I feel good about them, and felt my accuracy was high on the first go, which is a tremendous relief!

However here is my fear as it relates to reading strangers: 

So far I am familiar with everyone I've read.  I've never read a complete stranger.  I was wondering how I might have interpreted this spread had it been for a stranger who, let's say, only gave me a succinct question to work with, and no background info...?  I know that in person you can, and should, ask questions, carry on a conversation with your client.  But what if it's via email?  Would I have intuited that the 9 of Pentacles should be read in reverse?  Would I have come to the conclusion that the 6 of Cups represents a literal situation?  I know I'm learning, and sometimes there is a delay between the time I see some of the cards and the moment I have a good idea of what it means.  But this is what scares me about providing strong and helpful readings for people I don't know.  Food for thought!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Daily Draw - Reviewing Results

So today my daily draw was the 7 of Pentacles.  Again, it took me a little time to get my ahead around it.  I always think of these cards as being my advice for the day, or in some way representing the theme I'll be experiencing.  As mentioned before, I've been dealing with an issue of plagiarism with one of my students, and the resulting consequences for him, and in a way for me (I am treading new ground, here, because I've never had to deal with a problem of this nature before).

The problem has been solved, technically, but then it was still in a state of uncertainty about how to implement the solution that had been decided upon - again, new territory.  Now things seem to be coming together. The path wasn't easy, but today I'm starting to feel like things have finally been sorted out, and my questions about how things would work out practically have been answered, in a positive way.  The work the student has to do for the rest of the current semester is being completed (with me as a guide), and I'm spending time reflecting on how we got here, while at the same time feeling relieved that all the wrinkles have been ironed out.

This is what the 7 of Pentacles is telling me: a time of reflection; no longer needing to be spending so much time getting everything worked out; seeing the positive results of the negative situation, including all the work I put into it (emotional and mental).  I'll take it!

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot


Trust is so hard, right?  Trusting that the cards will tell you what you need to know.  Trusting that you really are "doing it right."  Letting go of the fears of not connecting to the cards, or not knowing how to interpret them, of not being able to weave a story together based on what you're seeing and feeling.  Fears of negative feedback from strangers you read.  Holding on to the fear of the unknown, and of doubts.

When experienced readers say "you can't do it wrong," or "don't over-think it," or "everyone finds their own way, and it's not the same way for everyone," or "trust your intuition," they are right.  Doing it is not easy, but Tarot is not supposed to be easy.  It's a journey, and you learn as you go.

So yesterday I had a powerful reading, which really drove home all of the advice listed above.  I won't discuss the reading in much detail for confidentiality reasons, but I had done a reading for this person and about the same subject in the past.  The 10 of Swords popped up in a previous spread.  So this time as I was shuffling carefully, a card popped out.  When I picked it up, it was the 10 of Swords.  I felt that definitely carried significance, so I kept it in mind and put it back in the deck and I kept shuffling.  I cut the deck, and fanned it out to select cards.  I remember one of the cards that I selected gave me a strong, clear impression that it was a male court card.  Later, when I turned them all over, it was indeed a male court card - the Knight of Swords.  Seeing that confirmation of my feeling was pretty cool.  So after I had "dealt" the cards, I reassembled the deck and set it next to the spread.  At some point I thought about using a clarifier card, even though I wasn't really struggling for meaning.  But since I had the thought, I decided to pick the card at the top of the deck.  It was the 10 of Swords!  I smiled, and placed it next to the spread.  Okay, so this really does carry meaning for the spread and the question.

All in all the spread consisted of 6 Major Arcana, 1 court card, and 1 Ace, with two Minor Arcana.  The "future" card also coincided with the Shadow Card of the person I was reading, which gave another dimension to that particular area.  It was an intense spread, full of a lot of meaning, and the story came together for me almost as if I was reading a book.  It was really beautiful, even though the spread itself was full of uncertainty and a lot of recommendations.  It was a beautiful moment for me as a Tarot reader, as I'm learning to "let it go" and trust the process.

I used the Celtic Cross with no Significator since, as I mentioned in my last post, I've come to terms with what the positions mean for me, and I'm not stressing so much about how I shuffle.  It was a great experience, and I'm deeply grateful for it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Celtic Cross Chaos

It's funny how complicated one spread can be..... I've been experiencing a lot of conflicting feelings about the Celtic Cross spread: on one hand I feel it's an important, common spread to be able to use effectively....on the other hand there are so many versions (so very many versions) of this spread, that it takes a lot of time to figure out what works well (for me/you/one).  And that's the advice I've found online - practice, and find out what works for you.  Okay.....

It's interesting how intuition works, because the first handful of times I tried this spread I started to develop some confusion about the placement of cards 5 and 6 (past influences, near future).  I found a lot of variations both in books and online, and my head was swimming already.  But as I was doing spreads I started to see a pattern where the 5 card (which I'd been placing to the left of cards 1/2, representing past influences) seemed to be speaking more about future possibilities, while the 6 card (which I'd been placing to the right of cards 1/2, meaning the near future) seemed to be more connected to the past.  At times it seemed they could almost be interchangeable.  It was really frustrating and I felt a lot of anxiety about continuing to play with it - well, it didn't feel like play, I was taking it super seriously and felt a sense of failure at having such a hard time figuring it all out.

I tried a lot of different organizations of cards in the spread, but none really seemed striking - no "this is it!" moments.  Then on Aeclectic Tarot, in one of the forums about people's struggles with this spread, someone mentioned that after a lot of trials, he came across Arthur Waite's version, which clicked with him.  So I looked that version up straight away, and was pleased with what I read.  Waite's version   featured the placements that I was already beginning to settle on, but with one very interesting and exciting difference: he allowed for flexibility between the meanings of cards 5 and 6 depending on the direction in which the person on the Significator card was facing.  Up until that point I wasn't using a Significator.  So I tried a spread, this time choosing the Page of Cups as Significator, which was facing to the left.  So the future card went there, while the past influences card went to the right.  If you were to choose a court card (or Major Arcana) where the person was facing to the right, then you would place the future card there, essentially reversing the placements.  This was indeed a "eureka" moment.  So I wasn't crazy after all!!!!!!  Waite's version also recommended shuffling the deck and cutting it three times and re-stacking (which is when I started actually cutting the deck, which I didn't do prior), then selecting all cards from the top of the deck.  This was a totally new method, as previously I was just shuffling and fanning.  Following that, I found the spread to be very accurate and provide a lot of insight.  I found it easier to read because I didn't have that sense of anxiety over the accuracy of card placements.

I'm still not entirely comfortable with the Celtic Cross in terms of cards 5 and 6, but Waite's version helped ground me a bit.  I am feeling that as a whole I like the "left" position for card 6, and the "right" position for card 5, even though using those positions firmly seems backward (shouldn't it be past-present-future, not future-present-past???) Then today I found a website, Psychic Library, that (shockingly) reflects this same way of understanding or working with the Celtic Cross:

It considers the first card to be the Significator, instead of Waite's version where the Significator is essentially an "extra" card.  (And as a side note, I do think that it makes more sense to either choose a Significator and then replace it, so you are working with all 78, or to use a Significator from a separate deck).  But the past influences are to the right, and the future is to the left!  Ahhh......

So, in short, I am slowly starting to feel more settled in my mind with the Celtic Cross.  I have needed to find my own way with it, and based on my own intuitions about placements, combined with some external affirmations, I'm starting to feel more comfortable with my ability to use and interpret this spread.  Of course I will still need to practice.....!!!  (And I spent a lot of time pining for my youth, when I didn't overthink shuffling or spreads, and simply shuffled, fanned, and selected without a care in the world!) But having a fairly certain framework in mind will help alleviate my anxiety and allow my intuition to lead the way. (At least that's the hope!!)

A final note about shuffling and card placements/meaning: 

After reading Waite's recommendation on shuffling/cutting, and also reading a recommendation by Joan Bunning (who I respect greatly) on her site that emphasized the importance of cutting the deck, I started to cut the deck on a regular basis - unless I am going back to basics with shuffling/fanning/selecting.  How many times I shuffle seems to vary (usually it's 2-3 times), but my cutting style is Waite's recommendation of three times, and in terms of direction I do: three to the left (cutting) and three to the left (stacking), which so far has worked well for me.  

But really, I'm not sure it really matters precisely how you shuffle, and whether or not you cut, and how you choose your cards.... 

I found some really great advice by Stefan Stenudd on Tarot Meaning about both the Celtic Cross (he also uses Waite's version), as well as shuffling, which I encourage anyone to read who is struggling with this, or any, spread!  It's just the truth: your intent, and clarity of intent, is really all that matters.  Once you've decided which card goes where, what it means to you as a reader, and what the question is, all else is unimportant. This is why readers can make up their own spreads - they decide what card placements mean, and off they go.  *Sigh* Just what I needed to hear.....and just what I need to always remember.

Numerology and Tarot

Okay, this is a new concept/practice for me.  I've seen that a lot of people use numerology to help give depth to readings.  The only numerology I really could recall was the kind that became popular when I was a kid, when you'd calculate the assigned numbers to each letter in your first name, and see what kind of person you were supposed to be.  It always seemed like silly nonsense.

But since it seems like a widely used and respected practice with Tarot, I wanted to explore it.  Last night I calculated the personality/soul/shadow cards for my entire family (husband and kids, mother/step-father, siblings) and was kind of blown away by how perfect it all was.  When I saw the constellations for my mom and step-dad I actually laughed out loud, because it explained exactly the ways in which they mesh, and the ways in which they clash.

So that is something that would be interesting to use in the future.

Image from Creative Commons

Also, it seems that depending on those constellations, if one of those cards appears in a spread for someone, it may carry extra meaning.  So that's something to consider.

Additionally, I like the idea of counting the quantity of "numbers" that appear in a spread (how many 6s, how many 2s, etc) to help give an extra sense of the overall underflow of a situation.  That makes sense to me.  I already pay attention to the quantity of suits/elements present in a spread to help understand how that impacts a situation, or environment, but adding numbers adds an extra dimension.  And, yes.... still working on elemental dignities.  At this point I feel like it's easiest for me to make sense of in a 3-card spread, which is how it usually appears in websites.  I really have no clue as to how to use them in something big, like a Celtic Cross.  So - work in progress!

The Page of Swords

The Page of Swords was my daily draw today.  I've had a Sword-theme this week so far with my daily draws, and all have been great advice.

When I saw the Page this morning I was in a rush to leave the house so I kept it in my mind to ponder later.  I didn't automatically "know" what I was being told - I'm still getting more deeply acquainted with the court cards, and some are easier for me than others.

But later as I was considering this card, I realized that it's just another lovely progression in my weekly card draws, indicating that things are flowing along.  The Page of Swords is telling me to be strong and face this current issue with my student with my chin up, and in a fair manner.  It's fitting because the issue with my student involved academic ethics - plagiarism.  Figuring out how to deal with him in a way that is fair, yet not feeling simultaneously sad about it, has been a challenge for me.  So the central issue has been solved, but today (and probably even early next week) I'll be finishing working out the details and settling everything once and for all.  Yesterday I pulled the 6 of Swords which encouraged me to move on, gain a new perspective.  Today the Page is encouraging me to meet the challenge of learning to be just and fair and honest, and to place my focus on doing what's right, rather than getting caught up in irrational emotions regarding the student's situation. This has always been an issue for me!

Druidcraft Tarot - Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm

So I will look at this situation as a positive challenge to understand that sometimes paying attention to what's fair is more important than worrying about how the perpetrator feels about the situation.  (That's me, always worrying about peoples' emotions, even when it doesn't seem to make any sense!!!!!!!)

Thank you, Page!

(P.S. I push-pull shuffled twice, cut three times from right to left, and restacked from right to left - then drew the top card!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My 9 of Swords Moment

I am terrified to read for strangers.  But at the same time, I really want to do it.
In a casual day dream I imagine a fun experience of doing a reading for someone I don't know, and having it turn out to be a really rewarding experience.

But when I really consider it seriously, when I look at the free-reader sites and when I read a post on a favorite blog encouraging free-reading as a great way to improve your skills......while one part of me is excited for the challenge, another part of me has run the other way in terror.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

What if I get nervous and don't connect with my cards?

What if I misinterpret the spread, and it's all wrong for the querent?

What if I get really horrible feedback about how off I was??????

It makes me really nervous!  I'm not going to rush off and sign up as a free-reader quite yet - I still have more "private" practicing to do, and I want to wait until I've practiced with the new decks I ordered, which I *think* will be wonderful to work with.  But in reality, I need to read for strangers at some point if I'm going to have any real advancement as a Tarot reader.  I know that I will do it when the time comes....but at this point the idea of it turns me into a ball of really tight nerves.

Death and the Devil

It seems like most people have one or two (or more) cards that they absolutely must love in a deck in order to consider purchasing it.  I have mine: Death and the Devil.  These are not my favorite cards in Tarot, however they are the cards which I feel are both important and often misunderstood or misrepresented.  So I feel picky about the way they are shown, and hence the potential impact they have on the person being read!

In many decks, Death is portrayed as a skeleton, or a hooded figure on a horse, with a scythe.  I really hate that interpretation of Death.  To me, Death is a beautiful card.  It's about change, about seeing the beauty in shedding the old and embracing the new.  It's about life, really, and renewal.  When I bought the Golden Tarot (Liz Dean), my first deck, I wasn't thinking about these things, but I'm happy with the representation of Death in that deck.  Death is a women in a cloak, holding a rose bloom in one hand, and a rosebud in the other.  She's at the edge of a wood, and in the distance you see a sun setting.  The emphasis centers on the idea of new beginnings, so it has a stronger essence of hope, and isn't negative.  I can't wait until my DruidCraft Tarot cards come (Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm) because aside from how much I love the images in general, the Death card features a robed woman (in this case, elderly) standing at a boiling cauldron holding a skull.  Out the window you see a sunset/sunrise in the distance.  It's beautiful, and also draws you (me) into the mystery involved in major life changes. I love it!

The Golden Tarot by Liz Dean
DruidCraft Tarot

The Devil card is often portrayed with a very evil looking figure, like the traditional, Christian "Satan." It's usually a rather scary looking card, but I feel like it's unnecessary to portray the Devil in a way that could potentially scare the crap out of querents.  So in the Golden Tarot the Devil really looks like Pan - not evil or scary.  (It resembles the Rider-Waite deck's Devil, but that one is a bit frightening in comparison).  He sits above a man and woman in bondage.  I appreciate that the card is able to represent the essence of the Devil without being frightening.  In the DruidCraft deck there is no true devil... it's Cernunnos, the Horned God, standing rather threateningly in the forest behind a pair of exhausted lovers, asleep.  The focus is not on "sin" or "evil," rather the concept of the natural aspects/desires/motivations of our beings as humans, and the unhealthy behaviors that can result when those aspects are not in balance.  So it represents the important meanings illuminated by this card, but through a new lens, and with a new name.  Cernunnos does look really intimidating - he's shadowed, large, one eye aglow, almost beastly, really.  But not evil - more wild than anything.

DruidCraft Tarot

Now, I have gone against my own preferences and ordered the Morgan Greer Tarot because I absolutely love the rich, colorful artwork - but the Death/Devil cards are pretty traditional, and not really my cup o' tea.  But I'm okay with that in this instance, because the artwork is so colorful and inspiring, yet not overdone (in other words, there isn't so much going on in each card that it takes time to sort out all of the details/symbols).  I feel it would/will be a wonderful pack to read with, and while the feel is different than Rider-Waite, the symbols are very Rider-Waiteish which I'm comfortable with.  And, on the up side, while the Death card does have the skeleton/hood/scythe, the card also features a large rose, so it's a nice contrast.

What are your deal-breaker cards?

Moving On....

My daily draw this morning was the 6 of Swords.  *sigh*  Yes, this is fitting - good advice for my day.  I'm still struggling with a problem I'd been having with one of my students, which, while having been resolved yesterday, still is having an impact on me.  I feel a little sad, but the advice from today's card is: "move on."  The issue has reached a conclusion, and there are other things at work that need my attention and focus.  Also, it's not the end of the world!  When I think of the rational pieces of the problem, I am satisfied with the results, however when I start focusing on other things I notice a "bluesy" feeling (also represented by the 6 of Swords) which is left over from the recent event here at work.  Of course, being great advice does not mean it's easy to follow!  But having the acknowledgement of my state of mind and being, and having that little push to let it go and change my frame of mind, is at least something I can meditate on today.

Actually it follows the card(s) from yesterday very well -

                                             Hanged Man and 4 of Swords => 6 of Swords

Numerically and meaning-wise, it's a very fitting progression.

Oh, and my shuffling method this morning - I thought I would mention it, since I haven't settled yet on just one, reliable one......

I pull/push shuffled twice, and then cut the deck into 3 (right to left) and re-stacked it (right to left). :-)

Moving on! Image from Creative Commons

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Three-Card Spread and Elemental Dignities (and reversals)

I've been hesitant to use reversals.  I'm not against using them, and may consider incorporating them in the future.  It's not because I'm afraid of the negative implications they sometimes bring, or because I feel it's unnecessary as Tarot cards already hold tons of meaning.  I've seen spreads that have been done with reversals where I find the reversals tend to give a subtle layer of additional meaning to the reading that would not have been as clear otherwise.  So we'll see about that.  What I find most mind-shattering is that with 78 upright cards there are already so many potential meanings and ways of interpreting them, that to add another slew of potential meanings to each one just makes me exhausted.  I mean, have you done the math?  78 cards does not equal 78 meanings.... if we decide to randomly assign 5 potential meanings to each card, that comes to a total of 390 potential meanings we have floating around in our minds.  That does not factor in the positions the various cards end up in, or the interactions and additional potential meanings we might see and intuit from a spread.  If we double that, we come to 780.  It's perfectly possible to learn reversals and successfully apply them.  But while I already understand the basic premise of reversals and their application, I'm not sure it's entirely necessary or worthwhile yet to study each card.

At any rate, I've been reading about elemental dignities and the extra clarity they can provide readings by helping to determine which cards carry more or less weight in a spread.  The first websites I looked at were really confusing, mainly because while the description of elemental dignities was fairly clear, there were no examples of real-life spreads with interpretations using the elemental dignities.  So learning how to apply them seemed daunting - yet I kept reading about how powerful they can be!  So I was motivated to figure this whole situation out.....

Image from Creative Commons

Meanwhile I read a blog entry on Sun Goddess Tarot (a blog I've come to love), where Tarot "newbies" were encouraged to get more experience reading strangers by signing up to do free readings through various sites.  When I went to one of the sites, it said that all potential free-readers must EITHER use reversals OR elemental dignities.  I thought: "Okay! It's settled! I will learn these dignities, or else!"  (Later that night, in frustration, I threw my hands up in the air and resigned myself to learning all of the reversed meanings I could; it's true - elemental dignities are not for the faint of heart).

But I was further motivated by the apparent recognition that while yes, reversals can provide extra layers of insight, so can elemental dignities, and it's not absolutely necessary to use both. (Yet. But this is me, and I will probably learn all the reversals at some point, anyway, just for the additional challenge and knowledge).  So, that felt validating, and I was happy (and still am) to learn a challenging but effective system that does not require doubling up on all of the cards.

Okay.  So this morning I had a meeting with a student and his advisor about a plagiarizing issue (this was mentioned in a previous post).  I had been working with this student for just a couple of weeks, and so far most of his out-of-class work had been poor, despite his general good naturedness.  I was nervous about how the meeting would go because while I was unhappy with the quality of the student's work, coupled with the plagiarism, I was nervous about the potential implications, and how student would react.  I decided to do a 3-card spread, but didn't assign meanings to any of the positions.

I pulled:                    The Queen of Wands   -    3 of Cups   -     Ace of Wands

My initial interpretation:

My first sense was that the Queen of Wands was the student's advisor.  I had not met her before, so I was encouraged by this card - it suggested a very capable woman with self-confidence, a caring and friendly demeanor.  I felt this meant that she would lead the meeting well, and would come up with a creative way to deal with this unpleasant situation.

The 3 of Cups brings to mind teamwork, success, celebration, and I definitely did not think this meeting would be most of those things.  But the element of teamwork stuck with me, as I was preparing for a meeting with several other people.

The Ace of Wands at first made me feel that the situation would be resolved in a positive way, and the student would be allowed some kind of new beginning.  I wasn't really sure what that might look like.

So then I applied the elemental dignities.  Fire and Water don't mix.  And two fire cards flanking one water card meant that the Wands really dominated this spread - they were most important - while the 3 of Cups' meaning was diminished.  This made sense - to me, then, the 3 of Cups signified the meeting itself, and the coming together of several people to solve an issue.  The emphasis of this issue lied in the Queen of Wands (the student advisor) and the the Ace of Wands (what I came to think of as the outcome).

The result:

I had the meeting today, and was pleased with the results.  When I walked into the advisor's office and met her I immediately said to myself "Yes. This is definitely the Queen of Wands."  She was everything you'd imagine the Queen of Wands to be, and it was a pleasure to meet her.  She handled the meeting with expert grace, and was firm yet kind.

I had been led to believe there would be up to 5 people in the meeting, but in the end there were just three of us - the Three of Cups. And the meeting, while successful, was not celebratory, so I felt that the card with the adjusted meaning was very accurate.

Finally, the card that still held some mystery for me: the Ace of Wands.  I originally thought it meant a creative outcome, a new opportunity for the student, in some way.  Well, that was accurate, though not in the way I might have thought.  The student lost all points for the class, received a zero for his project, and after calculations were complete, it was evident he would be failing my class, and thus would have to retake it next semester.  There's a new beginning, alright.  He would be held accountable for his work, and would need to challenge himself to try harder, and take his work more seriously.  I wondered if in part this conclusion remained cloudy for me because I was personally invested in the idea that he would not have to repeat my course, even though rationally I knew it was a real possibility.

The spread was entirely right on, and the application of the elemental dignities was helpful in determining extra meaning for the cards involved.  It is a simple example, but one that gives me a clearer understanding of how the elemental dignities can impact the meaning of a spread, even in subtle ways.  When I thought of the spread, I thought that a reversed 3 of Cups might well have signified similar things in this spread - a subdued version of the upright.  While this might not work the same way for every card in the deck, it did provide food for thought, in terms of how the meanings or impact of reversals and elemental dignities can intersect, and I'm looking forward to practicing more with this application.

Am I Shuffling Right???

Okay, so this issue of shuffling..... like all things in Tarot, shuffling seems to be related to personal style (thus, many people will approach this differently).  When I started working with cards when I was 13 this was not a complicated issue; I shuffled the cards while thinking about my question, fanned them out on the bed/couch/etc., and selected cards.  Since starting Tarot (many years later!) things have become a lot more complicated!  Some people shuffle and fan; some people shuffle, cut, and fan; some people shuffle, cut, and select - no fanning; some people shuffle and select, no fanning or cutting.  Which is the right way?? Which is the most effective method?? What if I'm not doing it right?????  I've read online that it doesn't matter, and there's no need to over-think the process.  While I agree with that, when you're inundated with different methods it can be hard to assimilate.

Well,  I had an experience this morning that seemed to drive home the fact that however you shuffle really doesn't matter - you'll find something useful and pertinent in the card(s) that will be relevant and hold meaning for you.  Here's my short story:

I've been trying to pull a single card each morning to give me an idea of the energy ahead of me that day, or for advice on the best way to deal with whatever comes my way.  Today I was shuffling, and experiencing a mild how-will-I-shuffle-today attack (I've been trying out different methods to see if something feels more "right" to me).  I decided that since I was short on time, I was just going to shuffle once (I have large cards so I use the push-pull method which can actually be counted in terms of quantity of times the deck is shuffled), and I was not going to cut the deck.  After I finished the first round of shuffling I felt like I needed to shuffle again, so I did.  At that point I decided to cut the deck after all.  But "just to see" what I would have gotten were I not to cut the deck, I peeked at the first card on the top of the deck, which was a 4 of Swords.  I replaced it, cut the deck into three, re-stacked it, then selected the top card - The Hanged Man.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

What I knew about the day ahead of me was that I'd be conducting an interview at 10am.  This was going to be a secondary interview, the first having been given by my supervisor.  After a string of interviews, my colleagues and I came to realize that while my supervisor feels it's important to receive our feedback on potential candidates, ultimately the decision is hers, and ultimately she may not always agree with our perspectives.  Second, I was going to have a meeting at 11am with a student of mine and his advisor to discuss a serious issue of plagiarizing.  While I felt like the meeting had to happen, I also felt concerned about the outcome - would the student get suspended? Would he be docked a lot of points?  Would he be given the chance to redo the assignment?  I had some degree of turmoil regarding the whole issue.

Now, the Hanged Man was truly a great card.  When I saw it, my first thought was "let it go, it's not in your hands."  This was clear advice, as in both situations mentioned above I could not really have a significant influence on the outcome.  While I was involved in both situations, I had no deciding power, and I needed to come to terms with that, and then let it go. (Later the thought of this card made me laugh as my colleague and I were waiting to meet with my supervisor to give her feedback from the interview, and we literally were left hanging until the moment she decided she had enough time to see us - we almost missed lunch!)

But on my drive to work I thought back on the first card I peeked at - the 4 of swords - and I realized that it was appropriate to my situation in its own way.  The 4 of Swords refers to a time of rest following a difficult time; pausing to reflect on what's come before, and where you're headed; gaining new perspectives on events in your life.  Had I decided to pick this card, it would have served me well.  It encouraged me, in its own way, to let things go, like the Hanged Man, by encouraging me to take time to think about what had transpired, and gain a better perspective on the situation.  Its advice is to find peace by coming to terms with what is.  So both cards were appropriate and meaningful in similar ways to the situations before me.

What I took away from this experience was the realization that it really doesn't matter how you shuffle.  The cards you select will give you the insights that you need, no matter what combination or style you use.

My Tarot Journey - 30-day Tarot Challenge

Having delved back into the use of cards for guidance and divination, I decided that rather that inundate my regular blog with a bunch of Tarot posts, I'd create a new and separate blog where I can document my journey.  I'll post answers 1-10 from the 30-day Tarot Challenge here, because I think they give a good background on where I've come from, and where I'm at now - though that's constantly changing as I continue my work with cards!  I say "cards" because I started with Medicine Cards rather than Tarot.  In fact, I only truly started my Tarot journey earlier this year, and while I'm not new to the world of cards, I am a new and passionate student of Tarot.  I love the Medicine Cards (as you'll see below) but I wanted to study the Tarot specifically because of the tradition and history surrounding it, and in order to both gain personal guidance, and to eventually help others gain clarity and insights into their own lives. So, here we go!

Druidcraft Tarot - Image from Creative Commons

(1) What introduced you/got you involved in Tarot?
My mom used to do Tarot when I was a kid, and I always loved and valued it.  She was always a great reader, and I remember she would sometimes do readings for friends and family.  It seemed natural to me.  The part that always drew me in was how she became a storyteller.

(2) What was your first deck and why/how did you get it?
When I was in middle school I used to use my mom's Medicine Cards (Jamie Sams/David Carson) quite a lot, and I felt a good connection to those.  Of course when I became an adult I secreted them away to my new abode, but when my mom found out I had them she demanded them back.  (I think I will purchase my own set at some point, however, because I always felt good about that deck.) My own first deck was not strictly Tarot, but more of an oracle deck, which I purchased in my mid-twenties, called Runic Tarot (Caroline Smith and John Astrop).  I can't find it after our big move, and never really felt I connected to it (I purchased it in an attempt to replace the Medicine Cards as a divinatory/guidance tool, but it wasn't a good fit, and at that point in my life I wasn't interested in runic study - wish I could find it though, because I am now! ). 

(3) Do you have more than one deck that you use and if so do you have a favorite? If not, why do you like the deck you have chosen?
My mom used Mythic Tarot (Juliet Sharman-Burke, Liz Greene, Tricia Newell), which had beautiful imagery and was thorough with the story it told. When I decided to find my own set, I looked for Mythic Tarot but could only find some online, for a high price.  I bought Golden Tarot (by Liz Dean) for myself, which has similar imagery in that it's more classical.  As I can't find the Runic Tarot deck I bought nearly ten years ago, for a while it was my only deck.  However over time I've acquired the DruidCraft Tarot, Druid Animal Oracle, Morgan Greer Tarot, Wildwood Tarot, and Radiant Rider-Waite...and I have a whole wish-list of more I'd like to get in the future :)  I think having a selection is important: one) it's nice to give choices to your clients, two) depending on the day I'm drawn to different decks, three) I'm a dynamic person, and each deck attracts me for different reasons - I like having the variety.

(4) How long have you been reading the Tarot?
Well, if I count oracle cards, I've been doing Tarot for 20 years, with about a 5-6 year gap in the middle where I didn't do any readings at all.  In terms of Tarot specifically, I've been working with more closely this year.  I felt it would be beneficial to learn the formal Tarot, which is deep and rich.  However I still plan to incorporate the Medicine Cards at some point, and currently use Druid Animal Oracle with many of my readings, which was actually inspired by the Medicine Cards.

(5) When and where did you give your first reading?
I really only ever did my own readings when I was young, so I suppose my first reading was for myself when I was 13 or 14 years old.  I think I might have done a Medicine Card reading for my older sister at some point, too.  In my twenties I did oracle readings for my husband and myself.  Now I've done Tarot for myself, my husband, my extended family, and more recently, for strangers.

(6) What was the first spread you learned?
Well the first spread I learned was the Pathway spread which I used with the Medicine Cards.  In terms of Tarot it was the Celtic Cross, which has many positional meanings in common with the Pathway spread.

(7) What is your favorite card (both in terms of deck’s artwork and divinatory meaning)?
I suppose my favorites are the High Priestess and the Hermit.

(8) Which card do you dread pulling the most?
Pretty much anything that has a sword on it (with some exceptions)!!! The 7 of Swords, in particular, has been a hard card for me to get my head around.  Also the 5 of Pentacles isn't fun to see in a spread. I find that the 6 of Cups can be complex as well, but honestly I really enjoy the challenging cards, as much as they stress me out :)

(9) What card do you pull the most often? Why do you think that is the case?
For my own, personal readings I feel like there is usually a pretty good mix, but I've been drawing a high percentage of trump cards, and I think that's because a lot of life changes have been going on (in good ways).  

(10) What card best represents your personality (or, is most often pulled to represent you in a spread)?
The High Priestess and the Empress (the balance of spirituality and motherhood/family life).  Also the Hermit in that I've always valued privacy, introspection, and solitude.