Sunday, December 21, 2014

Yule Blog Hop: The Joy of Gifting

Happy Yule 2014, and welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop! Please use the links at the top and bottom of this post to access the other wonderful blogs in this circle.

Arwen Lynch, our joyful wrangler for the Yule hop, asked us all to focus our posts around a spread that she created about gift giving, and freed us up to use whatever type of oracle we pleased. Normally I use Tarot for our hops, but I felt moved to go a different route this season, and have used the new Game of Hope 2.0 Lenormand deck instead (to learn more about the deck, click here).

I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, so I drew three cards for each question. Here we go!

1. What gift would you give the world if you could?

Rider - Letter - Clover

Fortune telling! Perfect, on to number 2! Well okay... just kidding (sorta)! These cards tell me a lot of things:

I see this line as a message that we should all start sending more letters, increase our communications with fellow humans, visit each other once in a while. After all, unexpected correspondence is a joy! Just a few days ago my long-time friend Danica sent me a lovely, hand-created Christmas card with pictures of her family. I thought, "When is that last time I sat down to create holiday cards?" Too long. Then this morning she wrote me a lovely, touching note. We don't speak nearly as often as we should. I think in this era of email and Facebook and nomadic lifestyles it's easy for us to become silos. We have to remember how to reconnect with the people that really matter to us.

I see this as a message about helping others. Do you have extra material goods? Reach out and share with others, send support. I recall a time when my cousin was struggling financially. I didn't have a lot either, but I went online and bought a book by an author she loved and had it sent to her as a surprise. I think at times we tell ourselves that we simply don't have enough to truly help someone else, so we don't. But we don't have to limit our giving in those ways. Find a cause you can get behind and make a donation. If we all focused on the small ways we can help each other perhaps we would go far in helping improve human relationships and our greater sense of community.

Finally, bloggers, keep using those writing skills to spread positivity throughout the blogosphere!

2. What gift would you want from the world?

Heart - Fish - Sun

Well isn't this an easy one to interpret! Love, money, success and joy - boy my cards sure do know me! Ha!... Honestly these cards each embody an energy that is important to me, but let me actually string them together:

Fulfillment of a desire for financial success. Deep love and joy. A heart that flows with happiness. Yes, there is nothing more precious in this world than to love and be loved, to experience profound joy.

3. What gift have you gotten that has brought you joy?

Sun - Rider - Ring

The first thought I had upon seeing this line was the gift of being able to share goods news in my marriage. My husband and I entirely support each other and cheer each other on. If I experience success I can express that with Jorge and I know that he'll feel that joy along with me. That is a precious gift.

This line also reminds me of the moment when we moved to Florida. Within a month of deciding to look for work in the south, and sending out resumes, I had a couple of interviews, and we packed up our cars and our kids and started the move. Everything was hanging on the final word that I would be hired, but it wasn't until we were at a rest stop in Georgia that I finally got the news that I had successfully leapt through all of the hiring hoops, and I was "in." That was immensely relieving and rewarding.

Finally, the only jewelry I regularly wear on my hands are two golden rings, one on each ring finger. One is my wedding ring, representative of a grand gift - my marriage - and the other was a gift I received for mother's day - another immensely joyful gift being my children. My rings are constant reminders of these two shining elements in my life.

4. What gift have you given that has brought you joy?

Bouquet - Fish - Anchor

I saw this line and read: the gift of financial stability. After relying primarily on my husband for financial (and emotional!) support for the years that I was working on my Master's degree, I was able to reciprocate. Once I secured a good and regular job, he was able to leave his old career behind in order to work on developing his passion: photography. Watching him explore and develop his talent, watching how engaged and passionate he was about his art - that brought me great joy and satisfaction.

5. What is one last thing you would like to share about this season?

Cross - Stork - Clover

This too shall pass. Our burdens are temporary. Life is change, and even our hard times won't last forever. We will have relief, and fortune, perhaps in ways we would never expect, and when we're least expecting it. It's amazing to see, in retrospect, how our challenges can lead to wonderful opportunities. Never lose hope and faith!


I thought it was pretty amazing how the Clover, Rider, Sun, and Fish all appeared twice throughout this series of mini-readings - very fitting for the topic of joy and giving! 

I wish you all a beautiful holiday, a splendid Yule, a marvelous Christmas, a Joyous Kwanzaa and very Happy Hannukah! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bella Rosa (Devil): Recognizing Our Power

I have so many "ah hah" moments with the Chrysalis deck. Sometimes it feels like a key unlocking doors I didn't even realize were there.

Last night I was thinking about Bella Rosa (the Devil). My favorite Devil cards across decks are those that show Cernunnos, or Pan, or in some way represent the depth of our earthy power as humans, as opposed to the images that depict the perception of the Devil as the embodiment of evil. What I love about Bella Rosa is that it entirely nails the energy of the Devil in it symbolism. A figure appears, masked, costumed, a mirror facing outward. Who is this person? Are they representing their genuine self, or mirroring back to me what they think I want to see? Do they even know who they are?

The Devil, in any deck, is about our vast power and beauty as human beings, and how sometimes we diminish our own ability to be our full selves through: negative self-talk, living into a role rather than the allowing the truth of our soul to shine forth and be seen, hiding behind our weaknesses, or letting our weaknesses guide us rather than embodying our own great Will.

And then I thought of a fairly well-known, and deeply moving poem by Marianne Williamson, which feels so precisely connected to the energy of this's wonderful.

When the Devil appears in a reading, ask yourself:

-In what ways am I denying my truth?
-In what ways am I conforming my Self to a set of prosciptions (real or imagined)?
-How am I undermining or giving away my own strength?
-In what ways do I try to convince myself that I'm not worthy?
-How am I hiding my light from the world?

"We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
 Actually, who are you not to be?"

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lenormand Predicts a Little Luck

This morning I pulled a daily line of 3 for my husband, using my Game of Hope 2.0 deck:

Clover - Fish - Tower

Game of Hope 2.0 Lenormand

I showed him, happily, and said, "Financial luck with a company or institution!" 

He said, "Hmmm, should I buy a lottery ticket?" 

I said, "Meh... there's no Letter, so I don't necessarily see a winning ticket, but at any rate it looks good! Let's see what happens..."

I had to run off to teach an English class (yes, on a Sunday morning, the first time ever and I'm hoping not to make it a regular thing). While I was on campus I received a text message from none other than the cell phone company, notifying me that they would be deducting $20 from my account, as I had approved. This is the second time I've received such a text in the past week, and sure enough they do take the money. But I definitely didn't approve anything of the sort. I quickly sent a message to Jorge letting him know what was going on, and he said he would call them and find out.

Later at home he informed me that he had called and left a message with them, but they never called back, so he went outside to try again. This time he managed to reach a phone operator and after a cursory glance they informed him that for "some reason" we had been signed up for a service without our knowledge, and they were making regular deductions for it. They immediately put a stop on the payments they were pulling from our account, and explained that they would credit our monthly bill for the amount they already charged for this mystery service. 

As Jorge was filling me in, I suddenly grinned and said, "Hey! Your cards!" 

He smiled grudgingly and said, "Hmph... I'd rather have a winning lottery ticket."

Hey, Clover may give us a "little luck" - but I'll take it!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New Year's Reading Special

Through early January I am offering a 10-card reading that covers your goals, driving forces, relationships, career, spirituality, and principal focus for the year ahead. The spread positions are:

Card 1, You, now
Card 2, Goal for the year ahead
Card 3, Challenges to reaching your goal
Card 4, What empowers you to reach your goal
Card 5, Relationships in the year ahead
Card 6, Career in the year ahead
Card 7, Spirituality in the year ahead
Card 8, Talents/gifts to develop in the year ahead
Card 9, Most important lesson in the year ahead
Card 10, Summary – Where you are headed in the coming year

Emailed readings include an attached photograph of your cards, and a PDF document of your full reading. Normally 10-card readings are $50 but for this special I am reducing the cost to $30! You may purchase this as a gift, or for yourself. Click here for ordering!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Homemade Runes

I had always wanted to make my own, personal set of runes. Over the years I've seen a lot of sets that people have made out of wood with rune marks etched in with a wood burner, or made from clay, shells, even twigs, ogham-style. In my mind's eye my future set would be made of smooth black stones, roughly the same size, but not necessarily uniform. I didn't make an effort to find suitable material, I just put the thought out there into the trusty universe.

Last week I was puttering about in a local thrift shop when I happened across a clear, plastic sack sitting on a shelf, full of a nice set of.... smooth black stones! You know, thrift stores are full of random-ness but I still was not expecting quite this level of random-ness. I have no idea what the original intention or use was for these stones, I only know that when I saw that lonely sack sitting there, I knew they were my runes. So I purchased them for a hefty sum of $1 and brought them home. I sorted through the bag and chose twenty four that were of the right size and flatness, and scrubbed them carefully with soap and water, and set them out to dry. The next day I drove to a local art store and bought a set of metallic Sharpies. I wasn't sure which color would look best, but fortunately I had ten or so extra stones available for testing. I thought gold would be nice but in the end I found I much preferred bronze. So I sat quietly at my kitchen table on the night of the last full moon in 2014, and drew rune symbols on each stone, one by one.

After allowing them to dry fully (this didn't take long) I brought the stones together into a pile on my marble table top, closed my eyes, rolled them around between my hands, and thought, "What's next?" This question stems from the very palpable energetic tides that have been churning around and through my life for some time.

I chose a stone, and when I opened my eyes and looked down, I saw that I had pulled Beorc/Berkana.

My first reaction was to smile in gratitude (and probably relief!). This rune is quite a bit like the Empress in Tarot. Berkana is replete with mother energy, that nurturing, life-giving fertility that paves the way for rich new experiences to be born. Berkana is about "being pregnant" with creation (an idea, a project, a baby) but goes further to encompass the actual birth of something new. This rune corresponds to the birch tree, an ancient symbol of a new cycle of life beginning to unfold. Having pulled Death, the Tower, the 10 of Swords, the Fool, and the Wheel quite a lot over the past few months (and the Empress, too, once or twice!), I'm quite aware that times are a'changin,' but somehow seeing Berkana there staring up at me was like a calming, affirming whisper, quietly reminding me that indeed something new and good is on its way.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Corsair: Time for Adventure!

This morning I asked the Chrysalis Tarot for a message about what I need to embrace for the well-being of my Self, and as a result, my family. I drew the Corsair (also known as the Knight of Spirals, or Wands). In the Chrysalis this Knight appears as a pirate, and the little white book says:

Individuals with Corsair energy take great risks that yield substantial rewards. The treasures he most delights in plundering are cherished worldviews. He peers deeply into your subconscious to set it ablaze with mystical visions. The Corsair emboldens you to live life to the fullest on your own terms. (Toney Brooks)

This is apt.
Knight of Spirals - Corsair
Chrysalis Tarot, H. Sierra

As I have mentioned in previous posts, change is unfurling in my life like the sail of a pirate ship, threatening to take me on new adventures whether I'm up for it or not. Fortunately, I am up for it! But even being willing to embrace change doesn't mean that it's easy or without any anxiety or doubt. It's a process. In Lenormand readings, the Ship is never far from me, hinting of travel to come. When I look at this Corsair, I see the ship in the top left corner, and immediately feel the synchronicity here. That, and there is the fact that I've pulled this fellow once before when asking specifically about moving out of state!

I need a lot of encouragement, and the Corsair provides that. He reminds me that while there is risk inherent in change, in the big plans that I'm considering, the pay-off will likely be well worth it when all is said and done. He reminds me of how much I love movement and the manifestation of new ideas (I suppose that makes sense as my soul card is the Magician, and my personality card is the Wheel of Fortune!).

The final sentence from the LWB rings in my ears....emboldens you to live life to the fullest on your own terms. What are my terms? My terms are: feeling free to pursue what satisfies and fulfills me, and what I know will be in the best interest of my family. My terms are: letting my highest good be my guide, and therefore not allowing "golden handcuffs" (as my mother would say) to keep me bound to a situation that I have long since outgrown.

I'm ready for fresh winds and new's time for adventure......

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Novena Spread for St. Expedite

Yesterday I conducted a novena for St. Expedite.

When we think of novenas, we think of a 9-day act of devotion. St. Expedite is known to petitioners to address requests very quickly, and for this reason his novena lasts 9 hours instead. It was a sweet day of contemplation. For each hour there is a separate prayer associated with a special theme, such as faith, hope, strength, purity of heart, and perseverance. After reciting the hourly set of prayers, I would journal about what that topic meant to me, and then I created a question structured around that same focus area, and drew a card from my Thoth deck for deeper insights. By the conclusion of the day I had created a spread based on these themes, and I want to share it here:

Artist: D. Alvarado, Crossroads University

Novena Spread for St. Expedite

1: How can I experience faith more fully?

2: How can I work to manifest my hopes in the world?

3: How can I rise above the limitations or bonds of material reality in order to live my purest truth?

4: What is my greatest source of strength?

5: How can I release attachments to expectations, outcomes, and desires?

6: How can I most effectively deal with negative emotions so that they don't hold me hostage?

7: How can I best seek guidance from my higher power?

8: In what manner can I share my good intentions with the world?

9: How can I be my best self, no matter the circumstances?

I offer this to the world, and I hope you enjoy it! Working with St. Expedite was a heart-warming, special experience and I hope you should find the same if you ever decide to incorporate him into your practice. For general information about this Saint, click here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

9 of Spirals: Releasing Expectations

Over a week ago I drew the 9 of Spirals from my Chrysalis Tarot (Toney Brooks/Holly Sierra), whose keyword is "perseverance." I drew it reversed, and honestly I did momentarily feel the wind leave my sails (hmmm, that's rather fitting, actually, given the card imagery!). I thought, "I'm going to feel defeated today?" Dissatisfied with that conclusion, I focused on how I could turn that energy around so that I felt empowered.

On this particular day some family was on their way in from out of state for the holidays, and that morning my husband had received news that the mother of a close friend had just passed away, on the friend's birthday no less! My husband was feeling pretty badly about all of that, and not necessarily in the best frame of mind to receive a house full of guests. I felt that I would likely be steering the ship all day, in many regards. At the time I drew the 9 of Spirals, I had been cleaning for hours already, and on top of that I was anticipating a stressful day at work the following day, which was floating around in the back of my head. This flurry of thoughts, feelings, concerns and energy could certainly all have led me to feel rather oppressed.

9 of Spirals - Chrysalis Tarot
Holly Sierra

When I looked at this card my eyes fixated on the what looked to me like a clenched hand over the head of this wind being. After considering it for a moment I realized that it felt to me like a fist holding tightly to "the way things need to be." And I realized that the more tightly I held to my sense of "facing difficulty," the more oppressed I would feel, and I probably wouldn't cope very well. This card asked me to relax my expectations (both of others and of myself). The interesting thing is that, as most card readers understand, it's one thing to identify what needs to be addressed, and quite another thing to put forth the effort to actually follow through! In this case, I was almost surprised by my ability to simply let things go. By being flexible enough to roll with the gusts instead of against them, I felt better about my entire day. As potential complications arose, I pictured the 9 of Spirals in my mind, and I "unclenched the fist." I let go of any desire to impose my rules or structures on the people and environment around me, and I was thoroughly amazed at how good I felt.

In all sincerity, that card draw and the ensuing experience became an "ah hah" moment for me. We often express the importance of "no expectations" but it's not nearly as simple to practice it as it is to utter those five syllables. Actually - truly - releasing all expectations meant that I was more compassionate, less frustrated, happier, and as a whole I felt very liberated. I've carried that feeling with me ever since, and have applied it to many different contexts with equal success. Don't get me wrong - there is mindfulness involved here, so it's not like I flipped a switch and suddenly am entirely expectation-free.... but what I learned from this is that through self-awareness I am capable of experiencing the joy and peace that comes from allowing people to be who and what they are, in any given moment (and that applies to situations as well!). I can feel things - I can be a bit sad, or pleased, or excited - but the predominant, overarching experience is one of understanding and acceptance.

There is great power in that - both self-empowerment, and the acknowledgement and acceptance of others.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Taroscopes for December 2014

The glory and chaos of December is upon us once again! If you are one of those people that rejects the entire season for how commercial it's become, just remember that it only has to be as commercial as you make it. Turn off the T.V., light some candles, read ancient tales in front of the fireplace, and decorate your home with handmade embellishments (remember the old cranberry-and-popcorn garlands??). The soul of this time of year is ever-present, sometimes you just have to dig a little extra to find it!

For this month I've decided to use my Viking Cards (by Gudrün Bergmann and Ölafur Gudlaugsson), so technically these are oraclescopes, not Taroscopes, but I thought the energy of this deck would be a nice complement to the season. So here we go!

Viking Cards
U.S. Games Systems

Capricorn - Sagas: December is a great month for honoring the knowledge you've cultivated over the years. Don't underestimate your experience, capabilities, and know-how. Next time you grab for a book, or look to an expert in search of the "right way," remember that you yourself are a deep well of wisdom.

Aquarius - Bull: Satisfaction is a state of mind. Though you may not have every last thing you might wish for, you're able to understand that you're taken care of in the most important ways. This month, honor all the abundance that is present in your life.

Pisces - Hearth: Be sure to balance your care-taking tendencies this month. December is a busy time, and in the busy-ness it's important to make time to care for yourself as well as for others. Don't leave yourself out of the equation!

Aries - Sword: It's time to let go of a person, place, mindset, or habit that has been keeping you tightly bound, and you may be feeling rather reticent about dealing with things. Baby steps are a great way to start. As you let go of the elements in your life that have felt restrictive, the relief you feel will help keep you headed down that positive path.

Taurus - Huginn & Muninn: Everything in your life serves as a message of one sort or another: when your body is satisfied, you feel full, and you know to stop eating. When relationships struggle, you know that "something" isn't working, and can take time to address it. Your life is sending you many important messages at this time aimed at helping you to raise your quality of life. This month, make a point to listen!

Gemini - Council: If you find yourself on the threshold of big-decision-making, be sure to talk things out with friends, allies, and experts, so that you're as informed as you can be. Then, make your choice and don't beat yourself up about it. At best you'll see positive results, and at worst, you can revisit and revise at a later date. Trust!

Cancer - Giant: As you reclaim and heal aspects of your Self that were damaged as a child, you'll find a sense of balance that refreshes you within, and provides the fortitude and security necessary to move forward on your path. The Giant will protect you as you do this critical work.

Leo - Helmet: You are where you are in life largely due to the decisions you've made. If you're not happy with any aspect of your current situation, you have the power to do things differently in the future. Cultivate patience and wisdom, and be kind to yourself.

Virgo - Sleipnir: You may experience some anxieties related to the shifts and changes unfolding in your life. Try to release your hold on "what should be," and open yourself to "what is." You will be amazed at how relieving it feels to let go of expectations.

Libra - Eagle: Use December for reflection and assessment. Sometimes when you're surrounded by the many distractions of everyday life, it's easy to lose track of the long view of things. Where are you headed? Does it match up with your desires and plans? How are your decisions impacting your path forward?

Scorpio - Armor: In order to love others you must love and honor yourself first. Are you protecting yourself from deeper emotional connection due to anxieties or concerns? Is your fear of being vulnerable preventing you from engaging with others? This December consider how you can value yourself, and share yourself with other people.

Sagittarius - Mjölnir: You have the opportunity to experience positive changes in perspective this month. If you keep a journal, this would be a great time to make ample use of it - don't let your thoughts, ideas, or musings escape you this month! The first step in manifestation is awareness.

Finally, the summary card for December is: the Libelous Pole.

This month it's important to consider how to nurture communication with others. Be as open, honest, kind, and diplomatic as you can, and if others don't reciprocate, let it be - that's on them, not you. Be the best person you can, and spread your joy to the world!

Happy December, everyone! May peace and love prevail.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Focus and Release: Enochian Tarot

There's a lot going on in my life down here in la Florida. After nearly three years here we're seriously considering moving several states away in order to be closer to family. I have a lot of thoughts about all of this, and a lot of feelings. Mostly I'm really pleased to be in this position, though there are some bittersweet qualities to leaving this phase of life behind, to be sure. At times I find myself almost overwhelmed by it all, and Tarot's pretty helpful in those kinds of situations, so I sat down with my Enochian Tarot, and read for myself:

This was a really powerful, and powerfully calming, reading for me.

Enochian Tarot - Schueler/Glassman

First, as I was shuffling, 16. Higher Self popped out. This card carries the keywords: change for the better, spiritual impulse, foreknowledge, adjustment. To provide some back story, with recent Lenormand readings I've often been pulling Book (among others, of course), and with Tarot I've pulled the High Priestess a couple of times of late. Hidden knowledge, perhaps at times information that you're not meant to know quite yet. With the High Priestess we often say "listen to your intuition," and as I was considering what that meant for me, I realized that when I really sit and think about this house in which I currently reside, I am filled with a certain sense of urgency to move on, a sense that it's time to leave. And I feel that that is my intuition poking me with a stick. When Higher Self leapt from the deck, it felt like that same message of "listen carefully to inner guidance," along with positive encouragement that the shifting and transitions are leading to a positive place. It's hard to hear that quiet voice within when you're distracted by the din of everyday living, but it is there, and it is accessible. The image on the card gives me the feeling that my higher self, and my guides, are leading me safely along what feels at times like a precarious path.

Next I laid out the three main cards in the spread.

Enochian Tarot - Schueler/Glassman

1. What I need to acknowledge and release: 53. Lower Sephirothic Cross Angels of Air. Keywords: Reality, existence, science.

2. What I need to nurture and embrace: 49. Fourth Senior of Air. Keywords: Harmony, unity, pattern, arrangement, a birth.

3. Where all of this is leading: 20. The Wheel. Keywords: Cyclic nature, cycles, spirals, repetition, fate, destiny.

The first card tells me that I'm trying to be too careful. "Science" is precise and evidence-based. I am trying to make big decisions based on evidence that I really don't have, and based on information that I simply can't know at the moment. There are good and less good things about both staying and leaving. There is no obvious best path to take when I pick things apart rationally. This card image shows an angelic being, arms outstretched, with three smaller angels floating above his head. Each of the three smaller angels has a rather unpleasant expression on his face, and it appears that they all have their arms crossed. This reminds me of how all of my conflicting thoughts about this decision (pros and cons) end up confusing me, and ultimately I feel like I'm at an impasse. Rather than dividing my mind in so many directions, I need to accept that it's not going to be perfect, and it's not going to be without some temporary risk. I need to release my current reality.

The second card is about gathering together my fragmented thoughts together to create a single, harmonic focus. The element of newness - the start of a new cycle - is highlighted, which is important to understand. The angel on this card appears thoughtful and at peace. She looks over to the previous card, poised and strong, a staff held firmly in one hand. With a rose in her other hand, she's ready to embrace a new phase of life, ready for the journey. Above all, this is a card that tells me to trust that none of this is "accidental." There is a plan, an organization, a structure that is supporting this new, unfolding phase of life.

The final card says that this is all about my destiny. This is indeed cyclical, and is a part of a natural flow in my life. There is some comfort in realizing that this is all happening for a reason, and is a part of my path. In this image the elemental symbols for fire and air are surrounded by water and a spiral of little Earths. Everything is connected, there is indeed an order to the universe, and while at times I feel more chaos than peace in my own small universe, I know that there is order here too. At least I know that no matter how many ups and down there may be on this roller coaster, if I go with the flow, I'm more likely to land on my feet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Game of Hope Lenormand Arrives! (And a Reading)

I was so happy to receive today in the mail two copies of the new Game of Hope 2.0 Lenormand deck! A year ago many Lenormand readers/artists of all talent levels joined together to produce a deck, and the card I chose to create was the 28-Man card. I wrote a bit about this project in a previous post (click here if you'd like to check it out).

All contributors received a mini deck, and I chose to purchase an additional poker-sized deck, both of which came in a black tin. It's hard to describe the satisfaction involved in holding the finished product in my hand after nearly 12 months (which really, for deck creation/production, is a pretty short amount of time!). My younger daughter, Lourdes, was elated to hold my Man card in her hand, and she ran down the hall to my bedroom to compare it to the canvas hanging on the wall. She said, "Mom, how did your painting get FAMOUS??" I had to explain that it's not necessarily famous, but it is still pretty cool to see the painting as part of a deck of cards!

Here is sneak peek at some of the cards in the deck (including the Man, of course!):

Here you can see the Man, Ship (which is a Venetian boat), Star, Sun, Key, and Scythe.

I love how the different artistic styles and media came together in this deck. The idea of reading with a deck comprised of so many stylistic variations seems like it might be a bit dizzy-making, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it reads quite clearly and smoothly, and it's fun to experience the aesthetic diversity present in a single line of cards!

I had to break the deck in, of course, and I had the perfect subject matter: our ESL department is going to have a rather tight month in December, and we don't have enough instructors to cover all of the laboratory hours that our students need. As a result we are "borrowing" instructors from a different department for a series of four weeks. These instructors will facilitate activities with the students for 6-hour periods of time. I've had to run some trainings for the teachers so that they're comfortable with the task for the month ahead, and though preparations are going fairly well, I'm admittedly a bit cautious about how things will unfold. So I asked my new deck how things will go with the lab situation in December, and pulled:

Garden - Clouds - Fox - Tower - Child - Crossroad - Mice

Woohoo! Looks like an interesting month! Above this line you see the Snake, which is the "theme" card from the bottom of the deck. Complications - things may not flow as smoothly as I hope!

Rather than pull apart the line I'm going to give my impressions upon looking over the layout. I see confusion in the network of teachers we have lined up. It may be that not all of those who have signed up to help will come through in the end (perhaps in part due to their own busy schedules). I also see anxiety on the part of our students who will face some divisions in their schedules that they'll have to attempt to navigate with their limited English ability. I'll have to stay on top of things this month in order to nip any issues in the bud (as they say). Better forewarned! (They also say that).

If you are interested in purchasing this limited edition deck, it is available at present for $11 (plus shipping) from Delphi's Chamber.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Morning Draw: Solitude

This morning I drew Solitude from my Enochian Tarot. This is a card from the Major Arcana, the 27th Aethyr. In the image there is a woman standing on a stone plinth in the middle of a green field at night. The deep blue and purple sky stretches on behind her, stars scattered above, and hills can be seen in the distance. There is something Dianic about this woman, perhaps because she holding a bow. That resonates with me, as Artemis always has, in her wild, natural strength and wisdom. There is more to this woman, though; along one side we can see an elderly figure holding a cane, an extension of herself, the crone within.

Enochian Tarot

Solitude is something I enjoy when I actively seek it out. Amidst the busy-ness of everyday life it can be difficult to carve out time for meditation and alone time. And other times (particularly a couple of extended periods of time in this past year) I've experienced solitude due to life circumstances rather than having chosen it for myself. But the power in solitude is just as potent in the moments we desire it as in the moments it's handed to us.

Without distractions we are better able to tune into what our bodies are telling us; we are better able to connect to the flow of feelings running through us; and we are better able to attune to our inner guidance, our crone energy, that stream of wisdom running like a river through our hearts that supports  us in our search for clarity, as we consider our place in this great Universe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Enochian Tarot Review: Cosmos and Chaos

I'd been eyeing the Enochian Tarot for a while (not to be confused with the Enochian Skryring Tarot), at first mainly because I love the artwork (and philosophy) of Sallie Ann Glassman, who also illustrated one of my favorite decks of all time, the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot. From what I could see online the artwork in the Enochian deck appeared to be just as engaging and moving. But I knew very little about Enochian magic, which is a system first written about by John Dee, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. So I hesitated for a while, and just recently decided to purchase it now rather than wake up one morning to find that it was no longer available!

This is only a partial review; I'll be working with this deck often in the time to come, and I'm sure in the process I'll be learning a lot more about it which will help me provide more depth and breadth in future posts. But I can already say that I'm intrigued and even excited by the Enochian Tarot now that I've had a chance to look it over and pull some cards, and I am looking forward to the journey onward!

The Enochian Tarot was created by Gerald and Betty Schueler, illustrated by Sallie Ann Glassman (as I've already mentioned), and published by Llewellyn. In the accompanying booklet the Schuelers mention that there are roughly three branches of Enochian magic: that of the Golden Dawn, of O.T.O (Ordo Templi Orientis), and a third derived from the studies of the Schuelers themselves, which accounts for some small inconsistencies in the layout. This deck is fashioned, naturally, after the latter.

The deck itself is structured not unlike a traditional Tarot deck, though there are clearly some major distinctions. There is a set of 30 Majors, called "Aethyrs," that correlate with the planes of the ethereal realm where different angelic beings reside. Each card has a lesson and a unique energy, and while not arranged entirely parallel to the Fool's Journey (though there is definitely a path of sorts), there are certainly cards that carry energies very similar to the Majors in a more traditional deck. There are 56 Minors divided into four suits that correspond to the four Watchtowers, or elements (fire, earth, air, water). However these Minor suits are arranged very differently from traditional Tarot, and feature the hierarchy of beings associated with each of the Watchtowers. There are seven "court cards" in each, comprised of a King and six Seniors (these relate variably to feminine and masculine energies). Then we have the Higher and Lower Sephirothic Cross Angels, Kerubic Angels, Archangels, Ruling Angels, Lesser Angels, and Demons. (Are you entirely lost yet?)

 I love decks that require study, and this one certainly does. At this point I have the sensation of standing at the precipice of a new adventure, like a spark of quiet excitement, and I'm looking forward to what I will learn with time. This deck was originally printed in 1989, and was reprinted in 2000 (I have the 2000 reprint). It comes with a sturdy booklet - somewhat grander than a LWB - that contains a brief introduction to Enochian magic and the system itself, plus card meanings, spreads, and even rituals. I would recommend acquiring a more complete book because the card meanings themselves are really only presented as keywords, which isn't a lot of sustenance when learning a new system. But it does give you something to start with! The card backs are deep red and feature an Enochian seal, which is almost reversible. These cards are meant to be read both upright and inverted, and meanings for both orientations are included in the booklet.

Last night I was shuffling the cards, getting a feel for them, and asked, "What will my experience be like working with this deck?" I pulled II-Babalon ("Arn" Aethyr).

Enochian Tarot - Babalon
G. and B. Schueler/S.A. Glassman

The booklet describes this card as carrying feminine energy, which corresponds to the image on the card of a female figure sitting on a throne. With the moon-like shape above her head there is almost a High Priestess quality to the depiction, yet it's much more than that. Babalon is a triple-aspected mother goddess, and she incorporates sexuality, motherhood, and mystery into her complex, deep folds. There are layers of both the Empress and the High Priestess here, and in fact it is Babalon who is featured on the Lust card in the Thoth Tarot. The keywords given for Babalon are: "intense bliss, intense joy, happiness, harmony." It feels like a beautiful embrace, welcoming me warmly into the journey of working with this system.

This morning I felt pulled to draw a daily card from this deck rather than my standard 3-card Lenormand draw. I mixed the cards around on my bed, and drew one: IV-Cosmos and Chaos ("Paz" Aethyr).

Enochian Tarot - Cosmos and Chaos
G. and B. Schueler/S.A. Glassman

This card is very closely related to the Lovers card in traditional Tarot. Its keywords are: "good relationships, attraction of opposites, lovers." The energy is both masculine and feminine, which of course we would expect! So why Cosmos and Chaos? They are the female and male aspects of the creative principle, and interestingly (in light of my previous draw), Babalon is considered the female consort of Chaos (at least according to Thelemic teachings). So the depiction shown in the card may well be Babalon and Chaos enmeshed in each other's arms. In many traditions it is said that Chaos existed long before creation (Cosmos) and thus it is the great abyss out of which all order is derived. Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and esotericist, said in a 1907 lecture:

Genius is like a fresh spark; it is out-of-the-ordinary just because a union there takes place between the Cosmos and the Chaos; thereby a new thing arises not connected with the laws of evolution that come from olden time. It enters in from other worlds like a Divine spark. Genius is the marriage of the past with the present, of the Cosmos with the Chaos.

Cosmos and Chaos exist as separate yet intimately connected aspects of existence and creative energy. They come together, and through their union a third entity - a spark of knowing, a relationship, creative brilliance - is born. A beautiful, not wholly unfamiliar, concept. And indeed, the cards were entirely clued in to my reality on this day! After six weeks of separation, my husband is coming home tonight, and I am utterly excited, counting down the minutes until his arrival.

This deck is intriguing, mysterious, wonder-ful, and yes, challenging. I'm quite ready for the voyage. As I work with the Enochian Tarot over time I'll continue to post about my experiences, a review in parts, if you will. ;-)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Perceptions of the American Dream

I teach English and American culture to international students that hail from numerous countries from across the planet, from Venezuela and Colombia, to Iran and Malaysia. Each month I have my new group of students do a project where they create a list of questions about culture and identity, and then tape an interview conducted with a U.S.-born peer. One of the topics that my international students often ask about is how students from the United States perceive "the American Dream." In class I ask them to define it for themselves, and the most common response is something along the lines of: "it's about having the opportunity to study, to earn good money, and to pursue your dreams." When they conduct their interviews and ask about this topic, their American interviewees often reply: "Yeah I know what the American Dream is….it's about having a house and two kids, and a great job, and making good money. But I don't really believe in it, that much."

Photo Credit: Brian Auer

My international students overwhelmingly believe in the concept of the American Dream. They are here because they have faith that through dedicated study and application of their will and purpose, they will become successful. So I ask them why they think so many students in the United States seem to think it's outdated. Last month one of my students from Venezuela summarized in a nutshell what his peers from previous months had expressed: the American Dream pertains more to immigrants than to native-born students. Their perception of themselves is that they come to this country motivated and with a clear plan of action precisely because they are coming from places where their future career outlook is at best limited.

Now of course, this is their experience and opinion, and there are certainly many native-born U.S. students who are extremely dedicated and motivated, and become very successful. But I still thought that this trend of thought was interesting. I thought I'd explore it with my cards. I drew one card for my ESL students, and one for U.S. students on the topic of how they perceive the American Dream:

ESL students' perceptions of the American Dream: Page of Mirrors/Cups
U.S. students' perceptions of the American Dream: 9 of Mirrors/Cups reversed

Chrysalis Tarot - H. Sierra
US Games Systems, Inc.

The Page of Mirrors tells me that my ESL students come here with an open heart, and are inspired by the possibility of starting the path toward realizing their hopes and dreams. Like the Healer kneeling in the grass, they are starting from the ground up, getting their hands dirty, using raw materials to build their path forward, bit by bit. The majority of my students expect that the route will not be easy. They are in my classes because they need to improve their language skills simply in order to have the opportunity to begin their regular program of study. But they choose to see this as a surmountable challenge to attaining their goals. They often demonstrate joy in creation, and in their education. And for some of my students coming from countries with active political and economic turmoil, there is a sense of healing in the act of pursuing their dreams, something nearly impossible to do in their land of origin.

On the other hand the 9 of Mirrors reversed tells a different story. In Tarot we often call this the "wish fulfilled" card, so in its reversed position it speaks to a student body that feels distanced from reaching their own dreams. There is a sense of disillusionment and dissatisfaction to this energy. But why? Perhaps the students are sinking under the pressure of a concept that no longer seems to be about simply being able to enjoy one's life, but about a definition of success that appears to demand the attainment of great wealth, of great success - a notion that seems unlikely, or even impossible. I also wonder if the opportunities available to them are taken for granted, even unintentionally, and impact in some way their attitudes and perceptions about what's possible for them.

Living through adversity certainly puts things into perspective, no matter where you're from. One of my students from Venezuela spent several years flying back and forth from his home country and Miami, working at whatever odd job he could find in order to make enough money to cover his travel expenses, support his family back home, and save for college. When he first came, he said he went knocking on restaurant doors, and he went through forty places before finally a manager agreed to hire him - the manager happened to be Venezuelan.

Photo Credit: Hartwig HKD

Another of my students grew up in Angola during the civil war, when his parents finally sent him to live with relatives in Portugal. Being of mixed heritage, he had been "too white" for his Angolan classmates, and was "too black" for his Portuguese classmates. At the age of 15 he was living alone in an apartment in a Jamaican neighborhood of London, where he picked up the "Islands" accent he still has today. He was often stopped by police on his way to school on suspicion of carrying knives or other weapons, and this became something he simply had to deal with.

Both of these students have big dreams of being music producers, and if you speak with them, their confidence in their future success is palpable. They've already worked hard at life, and they are barely 20 years old.  So I believe them when they tell me about their plans. There is no doubt in their speech, only calm certainty, accompanied by a knowing smile.

Whether international or domestic, I wish all of them well. I pray that their dreams allow them to rise above the challenges that cross their paths, and that inspiration shines in their hearts always.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hierophant: Understanding the Divine Child

Last night I was sitting on my couch after the little ones had gone to bed. For some days I'd been feeling pulled to have a "conversation" of sorts with Elegua, but with my hectic schedule I had been putting it off. So finally, with his red candle burning behind the door nearby, I settled into the evening and drew a few cards from my Chrysalis Tarot. I simply held in my mind and heart the intention to hear from him, to receive any messages he might want me to have. The center card of the draw was the Divine Child, which is in the Hierophant position of the Chrysalis deck. I smiled at the beautiful confirmation, for Elegua is a divine child, a gatekeeper and key-holder. I sat for some time with the card, with Elegua in my heart, and I pondered the artistic rendering, letting its message unfold slowly.

V-Divine Child, H. Sierra
Chrysalis Tarot

I think of the Hierophant as a bridge between the mundane and divine, whether that occurs through a teacher, a religion, formal study, etcetera. What I love is that this card (in the Chrysalis) shows the divinity in innocence. This has occurred via stories of divine children like Mithra or Jesus who helped connect their communities to God/the Source (whatever one happens to call it). It manifests in the powerful, child-like divinity of Elegua who guards all roads. And that fits with the deck booklet's mention of the shell showing many paths to the same destination.

The shell also reminds me of how we often refer to our bodies as shells of our souls, and in that sense we all carry the Divine within us. The Hierophant is about looking to others for divine connection, while the Divine Child shows that we are already connected, and simply have to tap into it. But often when we're on a path of self discovery, we seek out others who are on the same path who we can learn from and with, and then integrate that into our journey. In this way there is a connection between the inner and outer journeys.

Finally, this card reminds me of how children can be such amazing teachers of compassion, truth and love, divine qualities all.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taroscopes for November 2014

Yes, it happened! The November 2014 Taroscopes have materialized after a long and lovely Samhain/Halloween weekend. I hope that each and every one of you enjoyed the holiday, whether you spent it honoring your ancestors, accompanying little ones on candy expeditions, at costume parties, or alone at home with a cup of tea and good movie (or perhaps all of the above!).

This month we in the United States count down to November 27th, our Thanksgiving celebration, the next large festival on the national calendar. I love autumn and its string of wonderful gatherings; its a magical time of year no matter what part of the country you happen to call home!

For this month's 'scopes I felt the Tarot De St. Croix calling my name (almost literally!). This lovely deck was created by Lisa De St. Croix, and each card features one of her colorful and captivating paintings. So without further ado……

Tarot De St. Croix - Lisa De St. Croix

Capricorn - Empress: This is a month to consider ways you can make space for abundance in your life. If deep down you aren't satisfied, put your busy thoughts and apprehensions aside for a moment and focus on determining what will feed your soul. Choose happiness.

Aquarius - Page of Cups: Emotional healing is a path, and you have to start somewhere. Accept baby steps - they are still progress! You may receive pleasant news this month that will warm your heart.

Pisces - 9 of Cups: Make yourself a priority this month. If you're used to giving, giving, giving, don't forget to tend to your own needs and boundaries. With each decision you make, consider how the result will impact your own ability to embrace joy.

Aries - Sun: Give thanks this month for all the positives flowing through your life (and what a perfect month for it, as in a few weeks we formally celebrate gratitude!). Share your blessings with others, even if simply by smiling at strangers.

Taurus - King of Cups: This king utilizes natural kindness, wisdom, and diplomacy to navigate through the natural ups and downs of life, and is an excellent example of emotional strength and understanding. Consider how you might embody the energy of the King of Cups this month.

Gemini - Knight of Swords: Slow down. Don't put the cart before the horse. Breathe. Think things through carefully before you take action.

Cancer - 2 of Cups: You may find yourself thoroughly enjoying your partner this month. Make the most of it, embrace it, drink it up with abandon! Love is a wondrous thing. If you're flying solo these days, you might just meet someone that passes inspection.

Leo - Emperor: If you're resisting the structure in your life this month, consider whether there is some benefit in playing by the rules, at least for a little while. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Virgo - Magician: This is a great month to "go for it" - you'll impress others and the tide is likely to turn in your favor. You have a lot going for you, so take advantage of that energy!

Libra - 4 of Swords: This is a "you" month, time for contemplation, healing, and inner focus. What do you want, what do you need, and how can you move forward while honoring your truth? Enjoy some solitude; embrace it!

Scorpio - 2 of Pentacles: It seems ironic that stability should come from fluctuation, but it can - as long as you strike the right balance. You can do it, and even enjoy yourself in the process.

Sagittarius - 5 of Swords: Time to let the past go. Whatever wasn't working probably isn't going to resolve itself to your satisfaction, but you can still find a way forward. As soon as you stop beating your head against the brick wall you'll notice a door waiting to be opened.

The summary card for the month of November is the Hanged Man. Sacrifices - even small ones - can often lead to significant reward. What can you release this month? How might a shift of perspective help you see a situation with new eyes, and a new appreciation?

May your November be blessed!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Samhain Blog Hop: Catching Fireflies in Glass Jars

Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain!

Welcome to the 2014 Samhain Blog Hop! Please use the links at the top or bottom of this post to navigate through the other wonderful blogs in this circle.

Louise Underhill, from Priestess Tarot, asked us to describe (using our cards, naturally) a guest that we'd like to invite to a Samhain tea. It could be someone real or imaginary, someone known to us or someone famous. I always struggle with these sorts of scenarios, kind of like when someone asks you to name your hero, or your favorite music group of all time.

But this time I thought it would be nice to invite the spirit of my grandma Dorothy (my mother's mother) to spend some time with me on Samhain eve. I have fond memories of my grandma, though they be few in number, and connecting with her is something meaningful to me since I was never able to properly know her in life. I decided to pull three cards from my Golden Tarot deck, and in addition I, as usual, took a peek at the card at the bottom of the deck for an underlying theme or energy of the spread. 

Golden Tarot - Kat Black
U.S. Games Systems

This bottom card was: 6 of Cups. My, how fitting! Having tea with my grandmother's memory is precisely what this card is all about. I'm traveling down memory lane, remembering aspects of my young childhood, those that she was a part of…Life was certainly simpler then, and the image on this card could well be me and my sister in Dorothy's back yard, a place we spent a lot of time. The tree could be Dorothy's cherry tree; I remember the excitement with which we would pluck the fruit from its branches when ripe (even then, the notion of harvesting one's own food was great fun for me!). Now on to the central questions….

1) How would Dorothy describe herself? 2 of Cups
2) What would she like to talk about? 10 of Coins
3) What messages might she have for me? 10 of Swords

Golden Tarot - Kat Black
U.S. Games Systems

The first card filled my heart with a strong sense of understanding of the love that she carried within. Dorothy died when I was five years old. She had a difficult life, marrying twice (the first at a young age) and bearing six children across the span of it. I know that towards the end of her life she struggled quite a bit with relationships; I think she was just tired. My mom told me that when she was pregnant with me, Dorothy had told her, "I don't think I'm capable of loving any more people." But when I came into the world, she found that she was quite able to open her heart to me. I know that my grandmother adored her children, no matter how many steep obstacles she had to contend with along the way. The Two of Cups speaks to the healing and wholeness offered by love, and I hope that she has found that for herself. She is certainly still loved, even in memory.

The second card actually made me laugh a bit, oh my clever grandma….. She wants to talk about the powerful legacy of the family home, a very pertinent topic for this moment. One of the things I recall most about being in my grandmother's house was the activity. When I was a child we lived in Cheshire, Connecticut, and our own home was right next door to my grandmother's house, so there was constant communication and interaction. Many of our extended family lived nearby, so we often found ourselves playing and eating with our cousins, aunts, and uncles. I distinctly remember a group of us playing with GI Joe figurines in Dorothy's dusty attic. I remember catching fireflies in glass jars on summer evenings, and hunting for the perfect twig in the grass; if it passed inspection, an adult would tie a string to both ends to make our very own bow. I even remember tearing across the back yard on my Big Wheels trike, feeling pretty adventurous and cool. There is something special and "right" in family togetherness. Oftentimes it revolves around a central home, belonging perhaps to a matriarch or patriarch, that serves as the anchor of family unity. It's the nucleus, it is the hearth of the family heart. And it's the keeper of that precious legacy that is the root of a family's strength. We had that in Connecticut, and we don't have that now in the same way. My grandmother died long ago. We moved to Michigan and created a new life. Now I am living with my own family in Florida, and in these ways we continue to spread ourselves thin, stretching the energetic ties of our kin like rubber bands across vast stretches of terrain. Mambo Vye Zo has written about this sort of tie, the family "Oversoul", and says this about it:

Families often share an Oversoul that can have far reaching results.  If an Oversoul is something that is shared by two or more people, then a Family Oversoul is a deeper bond than mere pairing can create.  You share this Oversoul with your mother and father, as well as your siblings.  This Oversoul is the family vibe that runs through you all.  It descends from your grandparents' Oversoul or even further back, giving you a piece of their relationship with which you begin your own.

As I sit contemplating what the 10 of Coins means to me in the context of this Samhain visit with my grandmother, it is precisely this sense of our family's Oversoul that feels sharply defined, a thin yet steely vibration of ancestral connection threading its way through my deepest core. I am filled with a potent sense of urgency to relieve those deep stretches in our shared, energetic bond.

Just a few days ago my mother broached the topic of our coming back "home." Not to visit, but to stay. It's something we've thought of before, but you know how it goes - there are positives and negatives to everything, and in the end it's easier to stay put. But it goes beyond just missing each other. There is something deeper there, and the 10 of Coins feels like my grandmother's voice underscoring that topic. It's about restoring the core strength of the family, little by little. Giving our children grandparents to know intimately, to make memories with - there is no replacement for that. And there's no excuse for taking that away from them. With this card my grandmother is reminding me of what I had back then as a child, and encouraging me to make that a critical focal point as we seriously consider our next steps forward.

Photo Credit: Chantal Steyn

Not surprisingly, my grandmother's message to me is the 10 of Swords. This card, and the Death card, have been my followers of late. I know that big, at times painful, change is unfolding in my life at present. It sucks, I will be honest about that, and I'm certainly exhausted. But there's something therapeutic in catharsis. My grandmother is reassuring me of something I've sensed for a while now - that there is something new on the way. Although at times I'm not entirely sure just what it is, I do know that the only way to get there is to simply let go. Should we embrace the message of the previous card, there will certainly be some poignant 10 of Swords qualities to the transition. The truth is that there is something reassuring about knowing that all of the challenges and pain and difficulties are leading somewhere positive. That at its foundation this period is like birthing pains, that deep, primal pressure, the gasps when you start to wonder if you'll ever make it to the end….and then you do. And in that moment you realize that the fruit of your labor was so well worth it that you'd do it all over again. Yes, that is a bit what this feels like. And what a perfect meditation for Samhain, where we embrace death, rejoicing in the knowledge that a new life cycle is on its way.

So this Samhain I embrace and honor my grandmother Dorothy. I invite her to connect with me, to chat with me, to pass her wisdom on to me. I open my heart to receive her presence with gratitude and love.

Happy and blessed Samhain to you all!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Removing the Mask

Not long ago I acquired the Viking Cards, an oracle deck by Gudrun Bergmann and Olafur Gudlaugsson that offers guidance through the teachings of the Viking myths, deities, and Sagas. I've done many readings with this oracle over the past few weeks and always find it startlingly clear, appropriate to whatever topic I'm reading on, and wonderfully insightful.

Every morning I pull my daily three Lenormand cards, but sometimes I like to add to it, usually by pulling a Tarot or oracle card. Today I felt like hearing what the Viking Cards had to say. I shuffled, holding in my mind the open question of: "What guidance is most beneficial to me at this time?"

I pulled card 29-The Mask: Self Expression.

Viking Cards - Bergmann/Gudlaugsson
U.S. Games Systems

This resonates with me in a couple of ways:

1) I don't need to be stoic in the face of the challenges I'm experiencing. I don't mean that I will break down and fail to weather the difficult changes, I just mean that I don't have to pretend that the responsibilities I'm carting around right now aren't exhausting and stressful. And by simply expressing that, I'm alleviating some of the psychological burden even if the material weight hasn't shifted. That does make it easier to bear.

2) Presenting my thoughts and ideas to the wide world, primarily via this blog, is wonderful in many ways, but not without its risk. I've never liked conflict - I'm definitely one of those peace-making, harmony-loving types. I want everyone to just get along. It's relatively easy to post a daily draw, to discuss possible meanings of whatever Tarot card I happen to pull, or to do a deck review, but it's quite another thing to be forthright about my opinions and thoughts about potentially divisive topics (like fortune-telling!); it's a major challenge for me. But it's also a necessary step, I think, toward sharing myself and being okay with the fact that not everyone will agree or even like my perspective. It's important to me not to allow the fear of "not being liked," or being misunderstood, keep me from being true to myself, and to the wider world.

This card encourages me to take my Mask off, to call on my inner strength to give me the fortitude to let myself be seen.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Game of Hope 2.0 Lenormand: A Deck Being Born!

It was a pleasure to participate in the creation of a new, collaborative Lenormand deck. This was a project coordinated by Edmund Zebrowski, and each participant developed the concept and artwork for one or more of the 36 cards in the deck.

I created the image for the 28-Man card, using acrylics on canvas. I have to say that it's immensely rewarding and satisfying to see how it turned out as a printed card! A long list of other artists/readers gave of their time and artistic ability to make this deck happen, including Carrie Paris, Bridgett Trejo, Maree Bento, Tierney Sadler, Angela Shikany, and Dennis Ng, to name just a few.

The demo version has been printed to make sure that all the details are in order, and soon a full order will go to print. I'll be sure to post more information about it when it's available!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Myths About That Nasty "F" Word

I want to talk about “fortune telling,” a polemic that by nature has both supporters and detractors in the divination community. Some feel it is entirely disempowering, and liken it to the mysterious ladies in flowing skirts brandishing crystal balls at the traveling circus – a bit doomy, and altogether distasteful, even unethical. Others find it simply a term, like any other, that represents a manner of divination that looks into the unfolding future of a client. Just when I start to think that this topic has died and become a non-issue, it rears its head again, begging a real discussion rather than brief (and at times heavily opinionated and biased) monologues throughout social media platforms.

Photo Credit: Mike Licht

I decided to offer up some of my own views regarding popular myths on the matter. This is hardly exhaustive of even my own thoughts, as one question tends to lead to another, and another, and so on. Nevertheless, I have to start somewhere, don’t I!  So here goes:

1) Fortune telling is disempowering.

There seems to be a school of thought that suggests that explaining the most likely turn of events in a client’s situation removes any ability to influence their own circumstances. Hell, if that were true, I would certainly not be a fortune teller – I’m all about empowerment! When done well, fortune telling identifies what will probably take place in the client’s future, and also aids the client in determining an appropriate responsive action, or at the very least, helps the client by allowing them to mentally/emotionally/materially prepare for what’s coming. There is nothing disempowering about that.  A very simplistic and practical illustration: I read my daily cards and if I see rain, I bring an umbrella. If I see a check bouncing, I move funds over. If I see an X-factor that could throw a wrench in my fabulous plans that surely could never go wrong, I make sure I have a Plan B. You learn how to read the future by doing it regularly, by being a dedicated student to the art, by seeing how things play out over time; by being painfully correct, and on occasion by being "off" and having to recalibrate. When you understand what you’re seeing, you can respond to it. Thus fortune telling can be extremely invaluable.

2) Fortune telling exists in a vacuum.

Most readers who read “fortunes” also read using other styles. Just because someone engages in fortune telling doesn’t mean that it’s the only approach they use, or even that it’s a preferred method.

3) Good/ethical/caring readers distance themselves from anything related to telling fortunes.

What I have to say to this: Bah humbug, semantics. It’s all semantics, and don’t let them try to convince you otherwise. What do you mean by “fortune telling?” What do I mean by “fortune telling?” I would venture to say that most readers, regardless of their discipline, and regardless of their self-perceptions and/or preference of labels, tell fortunes. Long ago I wrote a post about fortune telling and mentioned that any reader that pulls an “outcome” card in a spread is engaging in fortune telling. Many readers attempt to brush off the act by saying that they are simply looking at “what could be” – but also assuring the client that he or she is entirely able to alter the outcome by changing their decisions. I don’t buy into that 100%: #1, I think that in some cases it’s simply a matter of a reader being uncomfortable with attempting to discern the future, in which case saying that the future is "set in sand" relieves the pressure of feeling responsible for being correct (or incorrect!), #2, in some instances readers adhere to the false idea that by reading the future you are robbing the client of agency (in which case, see #1 in this post), and #3, I think that life is simply more complicated than that. Sure, I agree that we can and do influence our future every day. But I also believe that some things are beyond our influence. Perhaps that thought is frightening to some, but I find that by being aware of that, I’m more able to influence what is in my power to alter, or if nothing else, I’m able to alter my mental or emotional approach. As they say, “forewarned is forearmed.”

Another interesting thing to note here is that most readers I know, even those that eschew the notion of fortune telling, talk quite openly about how accurate their future-oriented readings are (“I told her this would probably happen, and she didn’t believe me, but hey - it did!”). I think that’s great, who doesn’t want to be highly accurate? But I do find it a bit hypocritical.

4) Fortunetellers identify themselves as fortunetellers.

I call myself a card reader, because that’s the clearest and most direct definition for what I do. As I said in #2, I don’t only look into the future. I look into the present. I uncover hidden agendas, inner agonies, the need for healing, frustrations, unrealized strengths, talents on the verge of blooming. I look into the past to see what came before and how it’s impacting the present, and how it may well continue on to impact the future if it’s not addressed. I don’t like labels, really, and as much as I don’t have a problem with the term “fortune teller,” I don’t tend to call myself one any more than I’d call myself a “Tarot counselor.”


I entirely understand the desire to dissociate from a term typically associated with the circus doomsday proclaimer, and I wholly support the fact that as diviners we have a responsibility to help empower our clients. I also recognize that there isn’t really any other term out there at the moment that carries the appropriate definition (except perhaps "predictive reader" or  “divination”??) to describe what fortune telling involves. But I also think that criticizing the practice both insults the art and those who ethically practice it, while at the same time supporting the negative myths associated with the term. I feel that once there is a better understanding of what fortune telling truly is, and how it’s most commonly practiced, there will be a gradual decline in the number of readers that object to its existence in contemporary divination circles.

First Earth Tarot on Christiana's Psychic Café!

Christiana Gaudet, from Tarot Trends, will be airing an encore of the interview she did with me for National Tarot Day back in the Spring. If you want to catch it, it will be available this Sunday night at 9pm EDT.  Click here for more information!

If you can't watch the show when it airs this Sunday, you can view it right here.

We had quite an interesting conversation about fortune telling, and how it can be empowering contrary to some beliefs!

Monday, October 13, 2014

2 of Pentacles: Balance Amidst the Tempest

Last week was full of ups and downs and twists and turns, and I was pretty happy when the weekend arrived. On Saturday I took the kids out with me to buy herbs and we discovered a new park that turned out to be a lot of fun to play at for the little ones. After dinner we stopped by the bookstore, which is popular with everyone. Aside from the endless shelves of reading material there is a train set for Gabriel to enjoy, a lego station where Lourdes loves creating complex structures, and a nice café with cookies and espresso. All the good stuff in one location!

On Sunday we couldn't leave the house for very long because people were coming to remove our old toilet and install a new one. I had no idea how long that would take, so in the morning I took the kids to the arts and crafts store and we bought some materials with which to make Halloween decorations: some bake-able clay, acrylic paints, a sugar skull wood cut-out, and a ginger bread haunted house kit. I figured that if we were going to be stuck inside all afternoon at least we could have something fun to do! Indeed we spent hours forming, baking and painting our creations, far after the fixer-man (as Gabriel called him) had gone.

Halloween/Samhain crafts
O. Destrades

After I put the kids to bed I made some tea and decided to pull cards for my week ahead. The Aquarian Tarot is one I'd admired from afar for quite a long time, and about a month ago the Italian version was on clearance for a very low price, so I snatched it up. I'm glad I did, because the combination of stark fields of white with bright, flowing color is quite interesting and beautiful. And the card backs are stunning and a pleasure to behold! I plucked the deck from my overflowing divination bookcase, and settled down to read.

I chose a card on which to focus my energies for the week ahead and pulled:

2 of Pentacles

Aquarian Tarot - Palladini

The 2 of Pentacles encourages me to balance all of the responsibilities that I'm currently experiencing in healthy ways so as to avoid the feeling of being overburdened. Yes, there's a lot to do, and I have very few moments to just "sit." But that doesn't mean I have to let my circumstances own me. It's only been just under two weeks that Jorge's been gone, and I'm still working to establish a flow in our routine. That's been difficult because the week after he left most of the kids came down with a nasty virus and are only on a significant upswing now, after nearly a full seven days of illness. So I hope that this week we'll finally be able to fall into a rhythm. And crafty activities are my friend! The Halloween activities that we did on Sunday are a great example of how to provide something engaging for the kids to do while giving me a breather or two. And I need those little breaks now and then in order to recharge my batteries, and refocus my thoughts and energies. So my goal this week will be to allow the 2 of Pentacles to guide me and help me consider positive solutions whenever I start to feel like I'm slipping under the surface.

Sometimes all we need is to see our reality reflected in the layout before us, a confirmation of what we're experiencing, and how we're feeling. And like the 3 of Cups I drew the other day, and the 2 of Pentacles today, having a clear focal point can be a powerful and effective resource to help us navigate the inevitable bumps in the road, encouraging us to think creatively, and to empower ourselves to move forward in the most positive way possible.