Saturday, June 21, 2014

Litha Blog Hop Master List

Welcome to the 2014 Litha Blog Hop Master List! For access to the complete circle of wonderful bloggers, please see the list below!

1.Tierney Sadler:

2. Christiana Gaudet:

3. Chloe for TABI:

4. Louise Underhill:

5. Ania M.:

6. Bridgett Trejo:

7. Arwen Lynch:

8. Karen Sealey:

9. Chloe McCracken:

10. Cassandra Santori:

11. Joanna Ash:

12. Stella T'arot:

13. Joanne Sprott:

14. Stacey Carroll:

15.Olivia Destrades:

16. Alison Cross:

17. Chloe for Celtic Lenormand:

18. Robin B. Wood:

19. Vickie Wilson:

20. Ethony Dawn:

21. Joy Vernon:

Litha Blog Hop: Joy and Shadows

It's somehow ironic that, being the wrangler for this particular hop (which entails choosing the theme), I would experience writer's block, but that's just what happened between Beltane and Litha. I knew I wanted the focus to be "joy" because we spend so much time focused on what we can improve, or what needs tweaking, and not nearly enough time really basking in the glory of the joy that threads through our lives (at least that's how it often seems!). I'm a joy-person (not THE Joy Person - that's Arwen Lynch Poe!) and this is Litha, The Sun Celebration, so it all seemed very fitting!

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
The divine light and joy within us!

So writer's block had me down, and then I found myself at the public library one evening with the three Joys of my life - my children!  As the little ones were climbing and arguing their way through the aisles with me, I happened across the Tarot for Life book by Paul Quinn, which I'd never seen before - neither at the library nor any other place that sells or rents books - (and after looking at its positive reviews on Amazon I realize I'm a late-comer to that game, and that it's completely crazy that I'm so in-the-dark) so I snatched it off the shelf. After settling the kids in the children's section with books and blocks and crayons, I myself settled down to give the book a cursory sifting. It took about 1.3 seconds for me to realize I'd found a wonderful source of Tarot wisdom, and one of the aspects of the book that most attracted me was that it covered the "shadow" aspect of cards in addition to the upright and reversed meanings. It's actually brilliant, and it resonated with my own reading experience quite potently. I've written before about cards in readings, where their upright orientation belies their true essence, and though I hadn't given it a title before, "shadow" aspects were indeed what I was encountering.

Llewellyn Publications
I happened to flip to the entry for the Sun card, and suddenly bells began to go off in my head - the shadow of the Sun! This was something I'd pondered for probably close to a year, after having calculated my Tarot birth card. I'd found that my personality card was the Wheel, my soul card was the Magician, and my Shadow card was nothing other than…the Sun! The first two made complete sense to me, but the Sun as my Shadow? I read and read and researched and thought and analyzed and considered, and nothing seemed to click in terms of what the Sun as my Shadow really meant for me.

Did it mean that joy or success were difficult for me to achieve, or that I'd spend my life always working on improving those things? Not really…..

Was it that my natural happiness wasn't accepted by my community (per Jung) leading me to try to diminish my own capacity for joy? No….

As I was flipping the pages of Tarot for Life things started to fall into place, like pieces of a puzzle. I've always been drawn to happiness like a moth to a flame, in order (perhaps) to create an environment that reflected my inner world. As a result I stayed as far from sadness as I could manage. This wasn't a conscious decision, but a visceral reaction.

I remember that I never liked melancholy music. One important memory I have from childhood is that my older sister would request that my mom sing her the song "Clementine" before she would go to bed. I hated it. I would plug my ears and bury my head in the pillow in order to avoid hearing it. I thought it was such a sad song (a miner lost his daughter when she fell into the sea and drowned!!), and I hated feeling sad. As I grew up that never really changed. I always preferred happy, vibrant music (for the most part - incidentally I've always been a big Blues fan!), I avoided any movies that highlighted pain and suffering (for the most part! - I did actually choose to watch Schindler's List because the Holocaust is something we should never forget). Sorrow was an extremely difficult emotion for me to process.

Zingdoodle Lenormand by Rootweaver

Don't get me wrong, I don't - and didn't - see the world through rose-colored glasses, nor did I shy away from difficult truths, or the bittersweetness that sometimes comes from living. Looking back it occurs to me that much of that connects with being empathic, and not knowing how not to absorb others' emotions as my own.  It makes sense then that I would have cringed at hearing Clementine - I was brought into the story, and felt the miner's pain, and the terrible sorrow of death (as funny as that may sound, as it's a children's song!). I've always felt a brilliant, joyful light shining from within me, and I wanted to just glow all the time, the full expression of my soul. And since life isn't happiness and light all of the time, my Shadow has truly been learning to face the pain and darkness that shows up from time to time along the way, and coming to understand through experience that while I still prefer being surrounded in positivity (who doesn't?), those painful times in fact provide valuable opportunities to grow, to understand myself (and others) better, and to become, ultimately, a more balanced human being. Additionally, as an empath a vital lesson is also to learn how to be supportive of others while learning how not to internalize their pain.

Ochun - Joy and Love
Image by Black Oshun Eternal

So what better time for this light of understanding to hit me than three days prior to the Litha Blog Hop, a time of Sun and Joy, a day of celebrating our fires before the gradual descent into the elongating shadows of Autumn….

To conclude, I want to bring this post back to the simple topic, so I will include a list of what brings me great joy:

-My children (as previously mentioned)
-My husband (I couldn't ask for a more supportive partner)
-Divination (as an extension of my sense of purpose and Will)
-My Joy (because it's simply joyful feeling an abundance of joy, and I'm grateful for it)
-My spiritual practices (with all the surprises, challenges, and stunning, awe-filled moments)

Go forth and be joyful, and build your Litha fires brightly!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: The Oracle of the Pharaohs - Cards of Ra-Maat

I was recently in Michigan attending the wedding of a close family member, and while there took the opportunity to stop at the local Bargain Books to scope out any and all Tarot and oracle decks they might have in stock. Many years ago it was at Bargain Books that I came across the Runic Tarot, which was the first Tarot deck I purchased after having spent many years working primarily with oracles. So I knew they'd probably have some good stuff, for a discounted price. I was not disappointed!

Of the three decks I purchased I want to talk about the Oracle of the Pharaohs, by Norman Plaskett. I'd never heard of this deck previously, but it looked intriguing. The author claims this to be a system used by the ancient Egyptians, and I can't confirm or refute that, but the value of the cards themselves are so high that the veracity of the claim becomes irrelevant. Either way, Plaskett includes some very interesting information and photographs about Egyptian history and deities in the introduction of the accompanying manual which I enjoyed since I don't have a strong background in the topic. Of course it's a very abbreviated account, but provides enough information that you would have a starting place if you desired to do independent study.

Oracle of the Pharaohs - N. Plaskett
6 - Twin Soul

This is indeed an oracle, but I was struck by how Tarot-like the structure actually is. The deck is divided into four sections, and contains 72 cards. The first section is called Pylons and these closely match the Major Arcana in a Tarot deck, however instead of 22 cards, there are just 21 - no equivalent to the Fool card. However anyone familiar with Tarot would immediately see the close correspondence between Pylons and the Majors. For instance, card 6 is called Twin Soul, very similar to the VI Lovers card, and carries similar energy of critical decision making, and profound relation-ship. Card 11 is called Scales, and is very close to the energy of XI Justice, referring to balance, fairness, decisions, and legal concerns.

Oracle of the Pharaohs - N. Plaskett
Arit 7 - Ego

The remaining three sections are very much like suits - the Minor Arcana in a Tarot deck. The first suit is called Arit, and is composed of seven cards that represent major life energies that relate somewhat to the major chakras. They symbolize the intersection of the environment with a person's inner being. Arit 7 is titled "Ego," and represents a time when goals or accomplishments are being pursued, whether big or small. Another aspect of this card is that the querent has work that must be done which, regardless of perceived value, has importance to the global and universal matrix.

Oracle of the Pharaohs - N. Plaskett
Cubits 7 and 13

The second section is called Cubits (units of measurement) and there are 28. These represent thoughts, feelings, and behavioral patterns one experiences in daily life. Cubit 7 is titled "Concerns," and highlights a time when worries and fears cause feelings of isolation, and may even be blown out of proportion due to over-thinking. This card encourages the illumination of problems so that they can be dealt with realistically, and also underscores the benefits of seeking help from one's community.

Cubit 13 is titled "Energy," and reflects drive and focus toward achieving goals. Overall this is good, but the card also warns about taking care of inner resources in order to avoid burn-out, and in addition cautions financial balance so that spending doesn't end up outweighing what's being earned. If sickness is a problem this card suggests that improvement is likely.

Oracle of the Pharaohs - N. Plaskett

The third and final section is called Deities, and is like the Court Cards in Tarot. Each of the 16 cards features an Egyptian deity that reflects personality traits that can be associated with people in a querent's life, including oneself, naturally! Deity 2 - Isis would be a rather fierce mother-type - she is a wonderful and dedicated nurturer, but is also very logical and doesn't abide fools (think Queen of Pentacles melded with the Queen of Swords!). One additional aspect of this section is that it includes four element cards. These are associated with elemental deities, and represent water, fire, earth, and air. From my experience thus far these function very similarly to Aces, though they're included in the "people" section of the deck.

A reading with Oracle of the Pharaohs
N. Plaskett

I have come to deeply enjoy this deck, and find my readings with it to be precise, clear, interesting, and accurate. I enjoy the Tarot-like structure, yet how fresh and different it is at the same time. It's not a particularly intuitive deck due to the very simple and rather repetitive images, but that doesn't mean that some intuitive "hits" won't be possible - the colors and symbols allow for that to some degree. The backs are reversible, and feature a scarab beetle design. The card stock is very sturdy, and the sheen is slightly sticky - very similar to the feel of the Mary-El Tarot cards. The 128-page companion book gives succinct and helpful descriptions that will provide readers a great starting place from which to embrace the wisdom and insights offered in this lovely Tarot-like oracle deck. I very happily recommend it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tarot Tip: Reading for Yourself

Card readers seems to differ on the topic of reading for oneself - some feel it's not appropriate (for a variety of reasons) whereas others thoroughly enjoy and benefit from self-readings, and see them as a tool for self-empowerment. It's true that depending on the topic it can be hard to be objective, but I tend to fall in the "it's a wonderful thing to do" camp. Some of my deepest, most touching, and most brutally honest readings have been those I've done for myself.

The Queen of Cups: self-reading since 1450A.D.
Golden Tarot - Kat Black

Here are some tips to make the self-reading practice as nurturing and nourishing (and fair!) as possible:

1) Feel free to read on emotionally-charged issues, but use wisdom! Don't automatically write off weighty self-readings under the assumption that you will never be able to be fair with yourself. Yes, it's easy to misinterpret the cards either way due to subjectivity. You may see a line of challenging cards and convince yourself that D-Day has arrived, or toward the other extreme, you may view them with rose-colored glasses. You may even look for the "catch" in a group of very positive and affirming cards. But before giving up on your ability to understand your own cards clearly and justly, consider this: "If I were doing this reading for a client, what would I say to them?" If you can separate your own fears and judgements from your cards, you may find a powerful message waiting there for you.

2) Don't read for yourself if you're expecting, or needing, to hear a particular answer. (This goes for everyone considering getting any kind of divinatory reading!) The cards tell you what you need to hear, not always what you want to hear. You already know this, and it's far easier to acknowledge that fact when reading for other people. When it's yourself, it can be more challenging. So if you feel you can't handle a certain outcome, don't read for yourself. Take time to work through your feelings and thoughts. If you get to a point when you feel you can be open, then give it a whirl!

3) If you pull a card for yourself and it doesn't immediately make sense, don't dismiss it right away. Give it some time, consider the essence of the card, and what the image is conveying. Let it percolate, as they say. You may be surprised as you recognize an aspect of your feelings or the context of your situation that are important and real, but hadn't been at the forefront of your mind, or you hadn't considered before.

4) Not all questions have to be high-stakes. One of my favorite questions to ask the cards for myself is: how am I feeling about X (insert topic here)? It may seem silly, or like it should be obvious, but simple self-readings such as this can be very illuminating, and can help you to pay attention to important elements of your inner world that you may have been neglecting. Tarot is a great tool for self-awareness and guidance, and that's true as much for the small things as it is for the big things.

5) When in doubt, feel free to request a reading from an impartial reader! Reading for yourself can be a deeply rewarding experience, and can be a great way to grow both in relationship to the cards, and in relationship to your Self. But if you really want some insight about something important in your life and don't feel you can be objective, it's an act of wisdom to recognize that and to reach out to someone else.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Taroscopes for June 2014

The title this month is a little misleading, since I felt drawn to use an oracle instead of a Tarot deck! I'd consider changing it to "oraclescopes" but…that's just awkward. This month I've pulled a card from the Druid Animal Oracle for each astrological sign. This is a wonderful deck by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, and pulls on animal wisdom from knowledge gleaned from the ancient Druids of the British Isles:

June 2014 Taroscopes: Druid Animal Oracle
P. and S. Carr-Gomm/W. Worthington

Capricorn - Cat: Don't let anyone rush you into making decisions before you're ready this month. Take your time, observe, and weigh out all aspects of your options. When you feel truly prepared - act!

Aquarius - Hind: Go deep this month. Move past the "effect", and consider the "cause". It may be time to take your spiritual studies to the next level.

Pisces - Seal: Listen to your heart and the promptings of your spirit this month. What is your higher self trying to tell you? Healing will come through accepting and acknowledging your true feelings, and honoring your needs.

Aries - Hawk: Perspective is the key word for June. Looking at events in your life using a wide-angle lens will help you put things in their appropriate places. What are you hanging onto that no longer serves you? Let the small stuff go, and honor where you are now.

Taurus - Ram: Slow and steady wins the race this month. It may at times seem that things move "too" slowly, but with patience and dedication you'll put yourself in the best position to get ahead with your goals.

Gemini - Adder: Like a snake shedding its skin, the Adder acknowledges the change and transformation that is taking place in your life at this time. Remember that while change can be scary, it's inevitable, and simply part of the ebb and flow of the universe.

Cancer - Bear: This month you're called to embrace your deep power, tempering and guiding it with your profound sense of intuition. It's the harmony and balance of strength mixed with inner knowing that will serve you best.

Leo - Cow: You don't have to be in any special place or use any special tools to connect with the Goddess - she's all around you, she moves through you, and she's present in every bit of the abundance that surrounds you. When you feel in need of her protection or support, simply close your eyes and ask.

Virgo - Earth Dragon: This powerful dragon teaches that your greatest source of wealth and potential is within you, and can be accessed any time you choose - you just have to recognize it! You are capable of so many amazing things. Time to show the world what you got!

Libra - Air Dragon: Wow, two Dragons in a row! With Air Dragon in your cards this month, be prepared for exciting and invigorating new insights that may change how you're approaching a situation or project in your life. You may even receive a visitor or two!

Scorpio - Salmon: Go to the spa this month. Or treat yourself to a weekend retreat. Spend a full day at the library reading your favorite books, or return to a family home for a special, relaxing get-away. This card is about nurturing and cultivating your inner wisdom - inspiration often comes when we're at our greatest ease!

Sagittarius - Fox: This month, focus on how you can strategize and plan most effectively for the big projects or happenings in your life. Diplomacy will go far toward helping you meet your goals, without sacrificing your needs and desires.

Happy June to all!