Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Beauty of the Spread

Twice in the last week I’ve laid out cards for a reading and just sat there marveling at the beauty before me. Not just the meanings, or the flow of energy, but the images themselves, how they relate to each other, the story I see in how they connect, in their positions. Last night was one of these moments. I was doing a reading for a friend (who gave permission for me to blog about it) because he recently found that the trip he’d wanted to take to visit his mother next month might not work out due to some sudden financial obstacles. He was really counting on this trip, and wanted to know if it would be possible to make it work after all.  I drew three cards and also considered the card at the bottom of the deck for additional influences. I inquired about the energies surrounding the possibility of the trip happening and pulled:

5 Pentacles – 8 Pentacles – Sun reversed (Moon was the bottom card)

I used my new/old Mythic Tarot (Juliet Sharman-Burke, Tricia Newell, Liz Greene) which was a huge pleasure for me!

Mythic Tarot
Juliet Sharman-Burke, Tricia Newell, Liz Greene

When I lay out three cards without positions, the center card is always the “theme” for me, and the flanking cards give me extra information about the surrounding issues.  So looking at this spread I noticed that while my friend is feeling the pain of these new problematic developments, there is a chance that he’ll be able to work something out in the end.

The 5 of Pentacles speaks of feeling isolated, or closed-off. In this case it held double meaning as my friend was very keenly experiencing the separation from his mother (who lives in a different country), coupled with the deep sense of responsibility to visit her and help provide support for her. At the same time it represents the financial obstacles that were getting in the way of his plans. Suddenly he felt the wealth being stripped from him and held at a distance.

The Sun reversed felt like muted hope – things were suddenly muddled and unclear, the joy at the potential trip sort of started to flicker like a flame in the wind. I sensed a deep dampening of his spirit due to this new obstacle- not simply a momentary annoyance, but something deeper; a longer-term frustration at not being able to fully find joy in a new country without his mother, but also being unable to provide the kind of support for her that he has so often desired.  So the 5 of Pentacles really connected to the Sun reversed, the lack of resources and isolation mirroring the lack of joy bordering on mild depression.

Meanwhile the Moon shone above, lighting the rest of the cards with uncertainty and confusion…. All except for the 8 of Pentacles in the middle.

I love how the 8 of Pentacles forms the heart of the spread. It says to me that my friend can make his desire come true through hard work, perhaps some small sacrifices, a lot of dedication, and long-term vision. The man in this card is entirely concentrated on the task before him – he is disregarding the confusion, uncertainty, fears, and material lack. He knows that he can manifest his own wealth through focus, patience, and foresight. In fact the very same man wandering through the night in tattered robes in the 5 of Pentacles is featured on the 8 of Pentacles, creating his own way ahead.

Visually I love how the center card, the 8 of Pentacles, shines out from within the triangle of tribulations: the Moon sits above, the Sun to the right, turned on its head, the 5 of Pentacles sits to the left. The Moon card is reflected in the sky in the 5 of Pentacles – the moon shines down its illusion upon the poor wandering fellow.  The Sun and Moon are two celestial cards, and the Moon also reflects the light of the Sun. So I see a lot of mirroring going on here, where the lack of resources influences the sense of let-down and depression, which reflects back upon itself in the Moon, enhancing and perpetuating the difficult cycle.

And yet, back to the center card, the sky is bright, the man appears entirely unbothered by worries –  perhaps inside he carries a sense of anxiety, but he knows that only through perseverance and hard work will he reach his goal, and he won’t be deterred from the work at hand.  I love that focused, earthy core.

To me this is part of the absolute beauty of Tarot.  The cards carry meaning, but the images and positions provide so many layers to the story, that can be woven together, intersected and overlapped to create an almost painfully lovely response to the seeker’s question.

(Update: it was difficult, it required a lot of attention and creativity, but he was in the end able to visit his mother in March 2014)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Trying Not to Choke on My Glee

Yesterday a deck arrived for me in the mail. It was probably one of the happiest moments I've had in quite a while, and I'm still feeling the glory. In past posts I've mentioned that my mother's Tarot reading was my initial connection to divination at a young age. Recently I acquired the Medicine Cards (Jamie Sams) which were another divination tool she owned and that I held very dear, which has been really nice to have in my hands again. Well her Tarot deck (she only ever had one until recently I gifted her two more!) is the Mythic Tarot (Juliet Sharman-Burke, Liz Greene, Tricia Newell), one of the early publications from the late-80s, early 90s. This was the deck that sort of birthed me into the concept of Tarot reading, and I used to love it when she'd pull her cards out and do readings, working her way through the Greek myths and tying stories together.

I've been wanting to add that deck to my collection for a while, but when the original version went out of print in the early 2000s, it became very expensive and thus fell out of my reach. A new edition, called the New Mythic Tarot (Juliet Sharman-Burke, Giovanni Caselli) was published with a redo of the original artwork, which seemed to earn a lot of disappointed complaints from lovers of the original Mythic Tarot who didn't see a need for the reworking. I wasn't entirely opposed to this new version, but it didn't really attract me either. If necessary, it would "do" but it wouldn't really be the same. So I never purchased it.

Mythic Tarot
Juliet Sharman-Burke, Tricia Newell, Liz Greene
Fireside, 1986

The other day on one of the Facebook Tarot forums, someone posted an announcement about the original Mythic available on eBay for an unbelievably low price (about the cost of three grande lattes at Starbucks), and I jumped all over it. I couldn't believe it. It was a new listing and no one had snatched it up yet! It was my first foray into eBay buying, and I did so with some anxiety, but I figured that the worst that would happen is I'd lose a few cups of coffee, which didn't seem like a major risk. When all was said and done I received a well-wrapped package in the mail yesterday containing a tattered original box, a complete set of cards in great condition, a hard-cover companion book (also in great condition) and a reading cloth (which I probably won't use, but still!).

I think words failed me, hence the title of this blog post. I knew I would be excited about this acquisition, I knew it was important to me to own my mother's deck, that it would be nurturing and comforting and "right." But I had no idea just how fulfilled and joyful I would feel to be able to flip through those images, read through the book, do my own first reading with it. I sent a text message to my mother letting her know what I'd managed to do, and her reply was "I am glad, and touched." I suppose she never thought much about how or why those cards would be so meaningful to me. Hey, I think that in the end, I didn't really realize it either!

So I am full of rapturous joy on the inside, though on the outside probably look very calm and a bit sleepy. This joy is like a feast.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Determining Timing: Yea or Nay?

This post is NOT about how to determine time-frames using the cards - there are plenty of great resources online and in print for those interested in experimenting. The intent of this post is to discuss whether providing time-frames is truly beneficial to people in the long run (and I, for the most part, feel that it is not).

This issue of timing has come up a lot in social networking forums recently. Is determining time-frames possible? Is it accurate? Is it appropriate? There are a million different "tried and true" methods that various readers swear by. Some may be more calibrated than others, some may show higher levels of accuracy. I'd say that most competent readers will say that it can be difficult to pin down precise timing in some cases - the future simply may not be that precisely pre-destined. (And isn't that something of a relief?)  I thought I'd outline my own thoughts about it, which explain why I find "when" questions to be unhelpful most of the time:

1) What if the topic of the "when" question never occurs? Once I received this question: "When will my future music videos make it to national television?" This question was posed by a young college student who wasn't actively engaged in music in any tangible way. Maybe the student would never end up in music at all. Maybe the student would never create music videos, let alone have the opportunity to publicize them via television. This is something of an extreme example, but the point is there, I hope. Perhaps a better question would be "What do I need to know about going into the music industry?" Questions like this make a lot of implicit assumptions about the future, which is problematic.

2) What if the client feels the event is predestined, and therefore doesn't put in the effort to manifest it? Example: a woman wants to know when she'll find a job, and the cards indicate a time frame. She now expects that the job will appear before her at a given point in time, and stops looking for work or submitting her resumes. Consequently she doesn't have any job prospects at all, and feels the reading was wrong. In this sense I feel that doing timings can serve to disempower clients by leading them to believe that their actions don't impact their future.

3) What if the client finds the determined time-frame to be highly discouraging? A man wants to know when he'll find the perfect girl to marry - he's ready to go, can't wait to have a family of his own…he just needs that ideal lady.  The cards determine that he will likely marry an excellent woman…in about 10 years. Instead of feeling excited, he's now forlorn at the thought of having to wait so long. How many important relationships might he give up, believing that none of them could be the "right" girl? What if he would have met the lady in one year, developed a wonderful partnership, and then decided not to marry for another 9 years? Who knows? They may not like the time-frame they're given, and it could have detrimental impact on the course of their future (not to mention the time-frame could be off!).

When potential clients ask me a "when" question, I encourage them to change their focus: perhaps to determine likelihoods of the event occurring, to a focus on how they can best prepare themselves, or even what perspectives or energies will be the greatest help to them moving forward. In rare instances I'm willing to give general time frames, usually qualified with a brief summary of the points listed above. I am okay with, and practice, many forms of predictive divination, however I feel at times that when questions are exclusively predictive or even more importantly, exclusively time-based, they tend to side-step the greatest gift that Tarot and other card systems have to offer - a way to understand yourself better, and to improve your life in a way that nurtures your power of self-determination and choice.

In the end I don't believe this issue revolves as much around whether timing is possible (it can be, and it can also be accurate), as it does around the potential impact, and unintended negative consequences, on clients' lives, which is an ethical consideration first and foremost.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Taroscopes: Week of January 26-February 1st, 2014

So after an over-extended break due to the holidays, I'm back with the Taroscopes! I will note, however, that this will be the last weekly 'scope I do - starting next week I'll start doing monthly forecasts! I used the Deviant Moon Tarot (Patrick Valenza) for today. So here we go:

Capricorn - High Priestess reversed: All I have to say is - listen to that little voice that's trying to talk to you. If you're struggling with doubts about your intuition, or simply ignoring it altogether, it's time to embrace your gift, and listen closely to the wisdom it's trying to pass on to you this week! Trust in yourself, and you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results!

Aquarius - 6 of Wands: You're on top of the world this week! You'll be gettin' 'er done, and people will be noticing, which is probably not a bad place for you to be. Take a moment this week to acknowledge your own successes - they don't always come easily, and you deserve a "pat on the back!"

Pisces - Ace of Swords: Clarity, focus, and fortitude will come in handy this week. It might be a time to consider new approaches and fresh perspectives on whatever's occupying your mind and your time - you might just have one of those rare-yet-valuable "ah hah" moments!

Aries - 5 of Cups reversed: Yes, Aries, it's time to shift your focus from what wasn't working so well to all the positive things you still have at your disposal. S*** happens, but it won't keep you down for long. Be good to yourself and revive your optimism this week!

Taurus - 8 of Swords reversed: Breathe that fresh air that comes from a change in perspective! You're the only one that's truly capable of keeping yourself in a box, and you may start to challenge your own self-set limitations this week and reach for something new. Baby steps, you will do well!

Gemini - Page of Pentacles reversed: Consider if more planning needs to happen before you jump into that new job or school program. If things are feeling a bit beyond your grasp, what can you change/improve/enhance in order to reach your goal? Remember, don't just focus on what seems cool today - keep the longer-term vision in mind as your move forward!

Cancer - Star: Ooo, nice card, Cancer! Your week will have a lovely, positive energy to it that will overflow from your being and reach outward to motivate others to pursue their own enjoyment. If you have something special in your plans this week, you're going to find it quite pleasant - in fact just maybe you'll uncover the missing piece to the puzzle that will suddenly inspire you onward.

Leo - Judgment reversed: Change is good and the best way to invite it in is to take a moment to really look back over what you've accomplished so far, and what it's taught you. Altering recipes to suit your own tastes really is okay - don't let nagging doubts keep you from trying something new this week.

Virgo - Hierophant: Your week will probably be focused on your role in the community, whether it's your job, church, or even an extra-curricular activity like post-work softball. If you've been thinking about reading up on a new card-reading method, this would be a fantastic week to go for it - seek out guidance from others who have been-there-done-that and you should learn a lot.

Libra - 9 of Pentacles reversed: This is a great week to focus on those little things that really satisfy your soul. Take time to enjoy a cup of tea (or a shot of single-malt scotch). Yes, work must get done, just don't forget to balance it out by enjoying yourself a little bit as well. What do feel you most need to do to nourish yourself? Figure it out, and find a way to make it happen! Also, consider an outing with friends to break-up your week.

Scorpio - Sun reversed: If you experience any set-backs or obstacles to your work or relationships, just remember that it won't last too long, and you'll be back on top of things again before you know it. Create a reasonable plan of action and you may see your difficulties fall to the wayside more easily than you were expecting. If you're getting tired of gray skies and snow and ice, don't forget that the first day of Spring is only 1.5 months away!

Sagittarius - Queen of Swords: Handle your business with kind reason this week. Do what is necessary, say what needs to be said, and you should do pretty well - just remember to have fun with it, and make time for a good, hearty laugh!

Deviant Moon Tarot - P. Valenza
US Games

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Foxy Fox Is Caught

My Lenormand draw today was Child - Fox - Scythe. Yikes, not a great looking trio!
All day I was pondering how it might manifest. My interpretations included:

Quick decisions regarding a sly child.
A deceiving new start is cut short. 
(The worst included a potential injury to one of the kids, which made me nervous)

This evening as Jorge was outside grilling dinner, I decided to sit down with Gabriel and watch a show on TV that I'd never heard of before.  The first episode featured a sly fox that tricked two youngsters into trading their prized possessions for T-shirts that were supposed to multiply their strength.  Needless to say the fox was tricking them, and by the episode's end, the town sherriff uncovered the ploy and put a quick end to the scheming.

The mischief of a fox on a children's show comes to a decisive ending. ;-)


Image: Gilded Reverie Lenormand by Ciro Marchetti/US Games

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lenormand Daily Draws

I think this blog title is kind of boring but I'm not feeling particularly creative right now!

As I work with Lenormand, I've been rather "religiously" pulling a series of three cards for my daily draw, and have very much been enjoying how accurate they end up being, and how they help me integrate not only card meanings, but subtle relationships between cards as well.

The other day I pulled something like Moon - Storks - Mountain (I say "something like" because I do keep a journal but don't have access to it at this moment!)

I was very focused on the Mountain, and wondered quite a bit what this obstacle or barrier could be???

Daily draws in Lenormand, as with Tarot, tend to be either a mundane, or greatly scaled down, version of the traditional meaning. So every once in a while during the day I'd think about this Mountain, and about how really I'd had such a great day - what could it possible be referring to??

Gilded Reverie Lenormand - Ciro Marchetti
US Games

So in the late afternoon I returned home from an outing with my youngest daughter, and my newly printed business cards had arrived. I was so excited! I took one out, looked it over, and it was precisely what I had ordered - I was happy! A little while later I was examining them again, and realized that I had entirely forgotten to put my email address on the cards! Fortunately I did have my website and phone number listed, but I was so upset with myself for having left off this obvious, important detail, and started to worry that I should just order new ones (I've calmed down since then and will be using them after all!).

Later in the night I was pondering my daily draw again and suddenly it all clicked into place!

"An obstacle to positive changes/developments with work."

Is the lack of email address a major dilemma?  No. Did it create an issue that felt like a momentary downturn in my exciting onward movement with my business?  Definitely.

So I'm very much enjoying using these daily draws as a simple but effective regular practice with Lenormand.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Love-Hate Relationships (with decks!)

Last night I participated in a Tarot Circle led by the lovely Christiana Gaudet from Tarot Trends. During introductions everyone has the opportunity to ask a "burning question" or to make any comment they feel compelled to share. I had my Deviant Moon deck with me (by Patrick Valenza) and when it was my turn to speak I found myself talking about how the the Deviant Moon has become my main working deck, even though it's not my favorite deck.  Christiana asked me why I thought that was, and I honestly wasn't entirely sure. The angles, the colors, the shapes, draw me in and engage my intuition in a way that make my readings tend to flow….even though there are things I really don't like about it.

For instance, the Hermit card in any deck is one of those cards I'm particular about - it's one of my favorites.  And yet the Deviant Moon Hermit is entirely unappealing to me, and even a bit creepy. I prefer the images of the Hermit as a hooded, solitary figure, and I really resonate with that energy. But a Gollum-looking creature in a cave sitting next to a fish skeleton? Meh. I get the idea behind the image, I just don't really like it.

Deviant Moon Tarot - Patrick Valenza
US Games

I also don't like men with jutting chins and lipstick, and I have to say that the clown-like Magician took some getting used to.

Deviant Moon Tarot - Patrick Valenza
US Games

On the other hand, this deck has some cards that have come to be some of my very favorite of all time, such as the 4 of Swords and the Ace of Wands.

Deviant Moon Tarot - Patrick Valenza
US Games
Deviant Moon Tarot - Patrick Valenza
US Games

So given all these conflicting feelings about the deck, why do I like it so much? Why has it elbowed its way into being the deck I tend to choose most often for doing readings?

I was pondering this last night, following the Tarot Circle, and it finally popped into my mind like an almost-visible "ah hah" moment…...

I love this deck because it looks like it was co-created by Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, two of my important artistic influences growing up. Picasso was an inspiration to me, and along with Diego Rivera, had a large impact on my developing style when I was an adolescent. I always found Dalí's surrealism and use of color and shape fascinating. So while there are aspects of the art style that I don't love, and while there are some cards I really don't care for, the deck still speaks to me in a way that calls me back to my creative origins, and somehow links an important part of my past to my present (think 6 of Cups). This is especially important to me because in recent years I've almost entirely stopped producing art work, and on some level I really miss it, and sometimes think I need it.

So I still find myself appreciating the entire package, because like anything familiar and dear to a person, there are things you love - the important things that keep you present and engaged - and there are things you don't love - the things you accept and work with because that's what you do when you love something (or someone)… and sometimes, like an ugly dog, you end up finding those imperfections endearing rather than off-putting.

So that's me and the Deviant Moon.

Monday, January 13, 2014

First Medicine Card Draw

Yesterday I finally had time to draw some cards from my new set of Medicine Cards (Jamie Sams, David Carson, Angela Werneke). I am so happy they came a few days ago, and it's so cool to be able to use them again after so many years! One thing I have to say is that the card stock quality is not good. Not only is it not good, it's the worst card stock I've ever experienced from a card deck ever before in my life. Have I been emphatic enough??

So this was one down side. There are two editions of the Medicine Cards. The first is the set my mother had, which is what I used when I started working in divination as a kid. The cards were great - sturdy, durable, easy to shuffle. My mom had them bound with a rubber band, having discarded the original box.  Then they came out with a more recent second edition, which admittedly is the one I wanted (and the one I currently have). I wanted it because they expanded the deck to include more animals than the first had had.  Unfortunately, it seems that they decided to cut corners in printing by choosing some nice tissue paper for the card stock, and then laminating it. It really is worthy of my tears. If I were to bind these with a rubber band, they'd buckle and fold and bend and be destroyed by it.  Not cool, St. Martin's Press, not cool….

So I'm still really happy to have them - it feels "right," if you know what I mean. And I'll just have to be extra gentle and careful with them so they last a long time!

So last night I spread the cards out and chose two, and I selected Bat and Swan:

Medicine Cards
Jamie Sams, David Carson, Angele Werneke
St. Martin's Press

It's been a LONG time since I used these cards, so I consulted the guide book (which I have to say is still absolutely excellent - hard cover, and full of wonderful stories and information).

Bat is not unlike the Death card. It's about making a transition in life and in your path, and the importance of not resisting it, but instead embracing it. So the lines from the book go: "The Universe is always asking you to grow and become your future. To do so you must die the shaman's death (page 206)."

This is so precise for what I've been going through in the past year or so, and what I feel is still unfolding. I got the Death/Journey card a lot last year, and it really encapsulates a profound shift in my path, and in a way a return to my own center. But it's definitely been a time of great change, from internal toward external, and in a way has felt like traveling through a great birth canal (for the second time ;-).

Swan is about a time of deeper intuitive development and awareness, and calls on me to honor the intuitive abilities that I have. At its core, the message of Swan is about acceptance of those "feelings" and flashes of insight, as opposed to doubting, rejecting, or avoiding them. And this is actually just the encouragement I needed. I have to say that the last couple of months have been pretty rough. I realized that I'm sometimes almost frightened of my intuition, and feel quite timid in terms of following through with what I'm seeing or feeling, especially in terms of readings.  I've been starting to combat that by simply closing my eyes, saying (or typing) exactly what I'm getting about a situation, and then trying to avoid a heart attack while I wait to hear feedback.

And the feedback has been good! And I can't help but feel slightly surprised by that! I wrote a post recently about one of those experiences, but another happened this past week. It was one of those terrifying moments where I was full to the brim with self-doubt when preparing to send off the reading… and yet the feedback was glowing, and it was so deeply rewarding and affirming for me.

So yes, Swan, I am learning, very slowly, to trust more in what my intuition is telling me. It's quite a bit like learning to ride a bike without training wheels.

In the end, despite the depressing card stock, I am thoroughly warmed over to be in possession of this wonderful deck once again, and to receive the beautiful insights it has to offer. It's amazing how important it can be simply to receive acknowledgement and confirmation about what you already sense is happening in your life. That alone can be extremely empowering.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When Something Doesn't Feel "Right"

I've been thinking more about the ways in which our intuition plays into our reading of cards (and any other divination tool). First of all, I believe that all human beings are intuitive - it's not a skill unique to a select few, though some pay more attention to it, and work to develop it more actively. I use reversals when I read, and I enjoy reading in that manner. I feel reversals provide other ways of adding depth and meaning to a card.  But using reversals is not a substitute for intuition. I've done many readings where the outcome card seems positive. It's a good card, not reversed, but it doesn't feel "right" to me. I'll give an example:

Deviant Moon Tarot/P. Valenza
US Games

One time I'd done a relationship reading and the final card, the upright King of Pentacles, seemed pretty positive - perhaps the culmination of the relationship, or the decision made by the male partner to fully commit to the querent. But it didn't feel right. What I felt was that he would become fully committed, and perhaps work on being a family man… just not with her. So I relayed that message to my client, who was a little confused by my interpretation of the final card. Some time later she let me know that indeed that guy had disappeared and entirely extracted himself from the tenuous relationship. So why didn't the King of Pentacles show up reversed? Well, I actually don't think the guy was a bad guy, and I don't want to explain the background of the client's situation due to privacy issues, but the guy in question had some decisions to make, and the decisions he made might not have been ideal for the client, but they weren't bad choices.

People are complicated. Just think of yourself - the diversity of thoughts, feelings, intentions, actions, desires, and motivations that you have. Divination picks up on all of that - not just the client's, but important people in the client's life and concerns as well - (and in very complex situations can take some time to disentangle for the reader) so intuition will always be a critical asset to reading for others, even providing some surprising twists that appear to go against intellectual judgment.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Coming Full Circle

I am so excited that soon I will be receiving the Medicine Cards and book in the mail (Jamie Sams). These are the first cards I ever worked with, when I started exploring divination at the age of 13, and it was a true loss to me when I moved away from my mother's house as an adult and had to leave them behind (they were hers, not mine!). I suppose I could have purchased them, but I didn't want other Medicine Cards, I wanted to move on. Later I did purchase a bargain copy of the Runic Tarot (Caroline Smith and John Astrop) but it never felt "right." Much later I delved into Tarot (and other oracles) and was so happy to find the Druid Animal Oracle (Carr-Gomm/Worthington), which did feel a bit like coming home for the important similarities they share with the Medicine Cards. Animal energy is very sacred to me, which is in part why I love the animal Court Cards in the Wildwood Tarot deck!

So a woman was selling some of her card collection in order to purchase more, and I noticed that one of her decks available was the Medicine Cards, at a very low price, and good condition, and I jumped all over it.  It truly feels like coming full circle, bringing things back to where they began.  There's a sense of nostalgia, being the first cards I ever worked with, but it's far more than that - it's really like remembering who I am, in some strange way, and it feels really good.  I can't wait until they show up in my mailbox!

Medicine Cards/Jamie Sams