Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Death" Isn't Just a New Beginning

I've read several times recently (and it comes up quite a lot) that Death is nothing to be scared of, it simply means a new beginning, and isn't that wonderful?

I think this happens because of the over-vilification of Death in the past, especially on television shows or in the movies, where the card was played up as a symbol of impending doom, and usually physical death. There are many readers that want to make the card more friendly by now playing up the "new chapter" of life that is a natural result of big change, but I think that mindset, while understandable, robs the work that Death does, detracts from the importance of its process in our lives.

Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Deck
U.S. Games

Because Death is a process. It's not called the "New Beginning" card because before something new (regardless of how wonderful it is) can begin, something else has to end. And with endings comes mourning, struggle, fear, and loss. And those are challenging emotions to experience, but there is great catharsis in allowing that grief to unfold. Anyone who has experienced the energy of the Death card understands that there is far more to it than a nice new start (even though if we have any awareness of what that new phase might be, it may serve as a nice focal point for us while we're in the trenches). It's work! It's sad, and it hurts, and at the same time there is a touching beauty to it because it's a sacred aspect of the experience of being alive, and of growth.

Thoth Tarot - A. Crowley, F. Harris
U.S. Games

I hope that all readers honor that sacred space if Death should appear in a reading. Rather than rushing to the "happy ending," place value on the journey involved.  It's true that having to convey difficult messages is a skill readers must work on (and one that takes time to develop) and sometimes it's easier to play up the sunny part - the new start - but it's really an art worth honing so that the full and powerful message that Death symbolizes isn't lost in translation.

World Spirit Tarot - L. O'Leary, J. Godino
Llewellyn Publishing

I read a wonderful quote today that quite honestly made me cry, and it's the truest definition of the Death card (and some many recognize the Tower here as well) that I've ever read, and I want to share it with you:

Whatever can be threatened, whatever can be shaken, whatever you fear cannot stand, is destined to crash. Do not go down with the ship. Let that which is destined to become the past slip away. Believe that the real you is that which beckons from the future. If it is a sadder you, it will be a wiser one. And dawn will follow the darkness sooner or later. Rebirth can never come without death.” 
― Robert M. Price

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Commemorative Pamela Colman Smith Deck

Generally speaking I'm not a big Rider-Waite-Smith fan, but history is important, and any serious Tarot student should be familiar with the classic decks, and perhaps own a copy or version of each. I never cared for the offensive shade of yellow (or even really the artistic style) predominant in this deck. Early on I ordered the Radiant Rider Waite version - the colors are bright and soft, the sickly, lemon yellow transformed to a far richer, deeper hue that is more pleasant to the eye.

Alas I ended up giving my Radiant Rider Waite away (I never read with it and didn't care much for it), and when the Commemorative Pamela Colman Smith deck was released by U.S. Games, I knew that was the only RWS deck I really wanted to have. Some dislike the artificial aging (where they slightly brown the shading on the cards) but I prefer it, aesthetically. The muted colors make for a deck that I might actually use for readings!  It's been quite a while, but I finally made the move to purchase it - and I'm pretty excited.

I found an amazing deal on the kit from an online discount book seller, and the package arrived yesterday. It came in a lovely, sturdy box that unfolds from the center. Each half contains special treasures - the right holds the deck itself along with an organza bag (does anyone ever actually use those??) and to the left lies the Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by Arthur E. Waite, a booklet about the art of Pamela Colman, along with several pictures and postcards. I did have the sense that I had uncovered a wonderful divination jackpot! And I really enjoy reading Waite's own words, seeing how he organized the Majors (with the Fool falling between Judgment and the World - not at the beginning). I laughed out loud when I read his lines, under "Strength - Fortitude:" "For reasons which satisfy myself, this card has been interchanged with that of justice, which is usually numbered eight. As the variation carries nothing with it which will signify to the reader, there is no cause for explanation." I realize that the Golden Dawn was an occult society, but this still struck me as rather pompous.

The cards themselves are made of sturdy stock, quite similar to that of the Halloween Tarot (also by U.S. Games). It makes for easy handling - thick, but not too rigid for a decent round of shuffling. My only complaint about the images are the pixelation of the illustrations and coloring. If I look carefully at the cards I can see the fine dots that make up the art, and I don't love that. But all in all, I'm really pleased with it, and it's an excellent addition to my collection.

(And I do get some pleasure in seeing a spread made up of these classic cards.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Andy's Wise Words for Fortune Tellers

I've been a Lenormand student for some time now, and absolutely love studying traditional card reading. You don't learn this kind of reading style by living in a vacuum - every student has a teacher (or two or three). I've learned principally from Andy Boroveshengra, a traditional reader living in England, and highly recommend his eBook "36 Cards" (available via Amazon). This afternoon I noticed his post about "Tips for Fortune Tellers" that I wanted to share here (with his permission):

"Three Tips for Fortune-Tellers.

ONE - never sell your soul, as the Oracle said: know thyself.

TWO - live: you cannot tell fortunes from an ivory tower; your instincts are honed by lean times, challenges and hardship.

THREE - less is more: cultivate a couple of methods, as a jack-of-all-trades is master-of-none."

Good advice, all around, and the second tip, in particular, is very fitting per my post earlier today (accessible by clicking here) about how life experience helps become a better predictive reader.

The Barons Come Calling

I feel like I’ve been gone so long, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve started to write this post a couple of times, and each time ended up stopping due to being entirely overwhelmed!

For a long time (months, I suppose) I’d been foreseeing a June full of changes. I saw that I’d perhaps experience something negative that would have potentially positive financial consequences, but had no idea what that would look like in real life. We were planning a trip to Michigan to drop the kids off with my parents for several weeks, and I saw some challenges and surprises surrounding that, but had no idea how that would play out either.  June was certainly a “full” month, and the trip to Michigan was not without its challenges, and in this post I’ll attempt to shed some light on the cards (and runes) I was seeing, and how things ultimately fell together…

 Wildwood Tarot
W. Worthington

When I did a New Year’s reading for myself, choosing a card for each month of the year, The Great Bear (from the Wildwood Tarot - similar to Judgment) fell into the position for June 2014. Likewise, when I did Jorge’s, the Journey (akin to Death) fell for the same month in his reading. That was enough for me to be very aware of what might develop during this particular month, and in the time leading up to June I did quite a few spreads with the intention of gleaning as much information as possible. I would see Lenormand cards that to me suggested an ending (or possibly illness or death!) that would help me financially. Naturally I was a bit nervous, but I also didn’t really know how that would manifest. I was hoping everyone in my family would be okay. On the first day of June I flew up to Michigan for 2 short days to attend the wedding reception for my sister. On the final afternoon I was looking at cards for the return trip and kept seeing cards like: Rider – Whip – Coffin, and Rider – Crossroads – Cross that had me anxious. Would my flight be canceled? No, it wasn’t, and it went on quite normally and according to plan. I wasn’t sure what those cards were about, even though such cards for daily draws are usually toned down, and hence don’t carry the same intense meaning as it might usually. Less than 24 hours later I was back home and sitting at a red light waiting to turn left, when I was suddenly hit by a man who had crossed through the intersection, passed over top of the median, and slammed into the side of my car. I was stunned, but fortunately didn’t have anything more than a few bumps and bruises, and some shoulder aches. This man had bounced off me and hit the woman behind me as well. In the end, he had no insurance to speak of, and my company was considering going after this man legally. I was prepared for a long and stressful journey. Interestingly, the insurance company deemed my car a total loss, and they paid off the remainder of the car loan, and then some. We had already considered downsizing to a single car for our family, but didn’t think we’d get enough in the sale to make up for what we had left of our loan, so it didn’t seem likely that we would be a one-car family anytime soon. Suddenly we were down to one car, I wasn’t too injured, and our loan was entirely gone.

All of that was challenging, yet ultimately worked out heavily in our favor, and I realized that this was the event I’d been seeing in my cards – not a death or illness, but definitely a severe ending that led to financial improvement. The side effect of the crash was that I passed through a period of deep existentialism. In Spanish we say “cuando te toca, te toca,” meaning that when it’s your time, there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m a good driver, a careful driver, but sometimes it just doesn’t matter how great you are. This man made a beeline right for me, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Looking back I realized that those cards I’d pulled before my return to Florida were precisely describing my accident and its location (at a crossroads). But there was nothing I could really have done about it. Even if I’d been aware that it was referring to a car accident, how could I have known which intersection, or in which manner it would unfold? Rather than being a negative thing, I saw this (and still do) as a powerful teaching experience for working with predictions, one that makes me a more skilled reader/interpreter.

Still, I was quite upset about the occurrence. I realized just how fragile things are, and how unexpectedly a millisecond can totally change your life. I didn’t have a hard time driving after that (though Jorge didn’t really want me to!), but I did experience anxiety when I was a passenger – I wasn’t in control, couldn’t gauge the velocity or time needed to stop the car – and every car that passed by or made a rapid movement really scared me and had me grabbing the seat, white-knuckled. I’m much better now, but that sense of treating each moment as precious and valuable still hasn’t left me.

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
S. Glassman

During that time I had little desire to interact with the outside world. I became very focused on my private life – family, myself, my goals. I took an unplanned break from everything while shifting and reevaluating.  And along the way I kept reading about this big trip up to Michigan with the kids which would happen at the very end of June, and I was seeing cards like the Sun reversed, 3 of Swords, 5 of Cups…and that was concerning! I didn’t need another difficult blow. I was on the verge of canceling the trip simply to avoid any challenges. I pulled more cards from my Voodoo Tarot and drew the Barons – essentially a wild card that predicts unexpected chaos for which you can do nothing but keep your sense of humor. Really?

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

I pulled runes, and they all said the same thing: expect the unexpected!

I did what I could. I had Jorge fix everything on the car, change the tires and the oil. At least I didn’t want the car breaking down! On the morning of our departure I pulled three Lenormand cards: Lady – Bouquet – Ship. That was an incredible comfort to me – we’d have a comfortable voyage. And in the end our ride north was smooth, albeit long, and we arrived in Michigan without any problems. Whew!

But all of those cards and runes that had concerned me were entirely apt:

The Sun reversed, 3 of Swords, and 5 of Cups were spot on. I was heartbroken about leaving my kids behind with my parents. I knew they’d be in good hands, but my little son had never been away from us – ever – and I was deeply concerned that he would have a hard time adjusting. I was so sad. In fact Jorge and I were both sad enough to change our plans a bit. On the day we were originally going to leave to drive back home (sans kids) we decided that I would stay on for another week and Jorge would drive the car back on his own. He had to leave for Sweden a couple of days later so he couldn’t stay with me. So I alerted my work, took some extra vacation days, and bought a one-way flight back home for the following Sunday. Quite a significant change at the last moment!


Then, on the evening of the day that Jorge left to drive home, I discovered that all of the kids had contracted lice. Isa had spent time trying on hats at H&M a couple of weeks before, and all the kids share the same hairbrush. So Jorge left, and I acquired lice shampoo, bedding spray, and nit combs, and went to work. I spent an entire day washing and combing out hair, spraying mattresses and washing clothes, and I spent several more days following that doing damage control (and being extremely paranoid). Meanwhile I could see the Barons laughing at me in my mind’s eye, and I just had to laugh along with them. Sometimes things get so crazy and out of hand that laughing really is the best, and maybe only, thing to do.

On his way back home Jorge told me that one of the tires kept losing air…one of the brand new tires we just had put on. He had to stop every couple of hours to refill it with air, and upon arriving at home he took it back to the auto shop at which point they showed him a large hole in the tire; we must have run over something on the highway and punctured the tire without realizing it. Fortunately he was able to change it so it was in perfect condition when I flew back into town.

My favorite part of all of this is that as I did these readings for myself prior to the trip, I wrote them down in my journal along with advice for myself. In fact at one point I told myself: “Things may not go according to plan. If money becomes a concern, don’t worry too much – money is just a tool.”  Um…yes!!!!!! Though I re-read this after the fact, it was still comforting to me. Indeed, many things deviated from expectation, and money was a very useful tool in this case. I’d also forgotten that I’d pulled cards on how to get through any complications, and my advice had been to go slow, be patient, and cover all the bases – but that ultimately I’d be okay. I suppose I should pay more attention to my own readings!

Experiences like this help give heightened perspective for readings that ultimately help us become far better, more discerning, wise, and careful readers, and I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned. In many ways my June was certainly the beginning of a Rebirth of sorts, and I’ll likely be riding the wave for some time to come.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Taroscopes for July 2014

Whew! Okay. June was a whirlwind that I'll try to blog about soon, and I'm writing this post from far away from my normal abode. A day late, but here they are! I'm sitting with a cup of steaming coffee (in a hand painted mug from Spanish Harlem) listening to the wind blow through the northern maple trees and red pines. The hottest month of the year has just begun, but today the temperature won't surpass 70 degrees - a welcome shift, in my book!

For this month I've used a new deck - Tarot de St. Croix - that is really quite rich, sweet, and hits all the right places. Not sweet as in whimsical or cute - sweet like the sweet spot on a baseball bat. So here we go…..

Tarot de St. Croix, by Lisa de St. Croix

Capricorn - Hierophant: You may choose to break away from the traditions that provide a lot of structure for your life, or you may be called to think differently. There may be both ups and downs associated with this. What will you do with this new sense of freedom?

Aquarius - 3 of Pentacles: Create the space you need to nurture yourself this month, even if it seems to go against the grain. If working with others doesn't seem to be going smoothly, be patient and focused within yourself first - then see how that translates to the outside world.

Pisces - 8 of Swords: It's time to think differently, to break free and allow those chains to fall to the wayside so you can fly away. Breathe deeply, enjoy that sweet air!

Aries - 8 of Pentacles: You'll be a busy bee in July, working and toiling, and brick-by-brick manifesting your goals. Success will be yours, even if it takes a while to achieve!

Taurus - Temperance: If you feel a bit off-center this month, take a step back and give yourself time and space to regain your footing. Inner peace will by nature help establish outer peace.

Gemini - 5 of Pentacles: It's the hottest month of the year and yet you may feel a bit out in the cold. Help and support is there, if you look in the right places. Chin up.

Cancer - 3 of Cups: You may enjoy yourself too much this month! Too much fun and movement can actually wear you down, so plan ahead for self-care, and enjoy yourself!

Leo - 9 of Cups: Spend time this month focusing on what makes you happy, what satisfies you, and work on inviting those energies into your life. Count your many blessings!

Virgo - 4 of Swords: Rest and healing are your tasks this month - not bad! Work on your garden, meditate, journal, drink tea. Be gentle with yourself!

Libra - Ace of Wands: A spark of life descends upon you in July. New creative forces are taking hold and promising new, vibrant opportunities.

Scorpio - King of Cups: You may have a great man in your life who will figure large this month! Otherwise your task for July is to: be kind and receive kindness; be strong and appreciate strength; be patient and promote patience; heal and be healed!

Sagittarius - Tower: Big changes, realizations and shifts will move through your life this month. Hang on for the ride, and trust that all this movement is taking you to a better and stronger place!

Be well and find joy in July!