Saturday, January 31, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Prediction

I'm not an American football-fan, nevertheless that did not prevent me from pulling some cards about the outcome of last year's game (which you can read about here!). So I thought I'd do the same this year, just to see how it all plays out (pun sort-of intended).

Last year the cards were in favor of the underdog, the Sea Hawks, and they did indeed succeed... in fact they destroyed the Broncos. They're back at the Bowl this year, and this year most people are rooting in their favor. So naturally, my cards have again come out in favor of the (sort of) underdog: the Patriots. Here are the cards:

Sea Hawks: 
10 of Swords rx - Page of Pentacles - Queen of Wands rx

9 of Pentacles - 2 of Cups - Knight of Swords

So how do I read these lines? I think that the Sea Hawks will make a great effort, but their energy will be erratic which will prevent them from ultimate success. Meanwhile the Patriots have solid form and aggressive tactics to boot, with that nice 2 of Cups in the middle uniting those two important energies. 

There's only one way to find out how it's going to go down.. gotta watch the game tomorrow!!!

Update: The Patriots won 28-24, and the Sea Hawks definitely put up a great fight. The 2 of Cups was the Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, and his teammate Edelman - they were responsible for most of the scoring, and even hugged at one point after a sweet touchdown. The team itself as a single entity was the 9 of Pentacles: tight, together, and strong. Interestingly, there are 11 active players during a game, for each side, and 9+2 is 11. This seems to underscore the team togetherness. The Knight could have been a number of the players from the team - swift and smart. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Strength of a Mambo: Courage to "Be"

One of the main focus cards I pulled for my year ahead (2015) was the Devil.

I like this card.

First of all, as a Capricorn this is the card that is astrologically associated with me. This means that 2015 will be a year of coming into myself more fully, of coming to terms with my fears and shadows.

I'm ready for it.

I've always been a person who loves and values peace, harmony, kindness, and understanding. I've never functioned well in heavy conflict, and I've always sought common ground with others; I figure that no matter how different we are, there must be somewhere that we connect.

Wildwood Tarot; Ryan/Matthews/Worthington

Part of my growth area this year is in the ability to be myself, have (and share) my own thoughts and feelings, express my perspectives and worldview, without being afraid of how others will perceive me, how others might react, without being afraid of being misunderstood, or disliked. I have to be me. I have to embrace and develop my personal power through having the strength to shine my light, to be where I'm at, without insisting on harmony all the time (which also means allowing others to be where they're at). Risky business!

I had a really difficult experience a couple of days ago in an online forum, where I was misunderstood, harshly judged, and then a group that prides itself on being a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental haven, no less. I only found out that my comment (about the importance of honoring the unique histories behind diasporic religions) caused ill feelings for others when I noticed that my comment had been deleted, quietly and without any notification. At first I was pretty surprised, and I reached out to the moderator to understand what had happened. It turned out that a couple of people had messaged her privately to let her know that they didn't like my point of view, and in an attempt to avoid any conflict, the decision had been made to simply get rid of the "offending" comment (without contacting me for clarification, mind you). I was totally taken aback, and to be honest, really hurt. I certainly wasn't offending any one, my comment had been (I thought) really affirming, and very heartfelt. I was hurt, confused, and I was pretty angry. They didn't like my point of view?! (Even if that were true, what happened to healthy, respectful discourse?)

My first feeling was almost a sense of illness at having been misunderstood, and then robbed of the ability to clarify my perspective or intentions. The second feeling I had was deep sorrow coupled with an admittedly-pathetic desire to remain mute the rest of my life so as to avoid any potential dilemmas in the future. But I knew there was a lesson buried somewhere in there. I decided to pull a card from my New Orleans Voodoo Tarot to help me better understand how to have the strength to speak my own truth in the face of this very apparent danger of being misunderstood and....not liked!

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
S. Glassman

I drew the Rada Mambo (Queen of Swords). Ah hah. If there was ever a master of speaking truth, it is this strong woman. I sat with her image for a while. She looks fierce, totally unafraid of anyone or anything. She knows herself, and she is willing to say what needs to be said time and time again, no matter if others approve of her words or not. She has a head in one hand and a knife in the other: she doesn't abide false masks; she is ever in search of truth. And she doesn't hide herself from others, because knows that truth, and the search for it, is the only thing worth engaging in. The book Vodou Visions (2007), by Sallie Ann Glassman, states:

Look into the eyes of the Rada Manbo and see that her power, mastery, and place in the world give her pleasure and satisfaction. She is radiant with life. Her intelligence is based on what the primordial waters of the body know. The serpent is her ally. The deep waters of her psyche contain deep knowledge, which is uncontaminated by intellectual deceit. She cuts off the lie with her sword. (pg. 191)

I've often said that of all the Queens in the Tarot deck, the Queen of Swords is the one least like me. In my quest for fullness and balance, she has important gifts to teach me about being strong, clear, and true with my words and purpose. 

Then yesterday I came across an article by Lori Deschene (from, called "10 Reasons to Be Okay with Being Disliked." 

As my husband would say, me vino como anillo al dedo (the article was a perfect fit for the moment). Number 5 on the list read: 

You can freely express your thoughts: One of the kindest things you can do for someone else is listen without judging. You deserve that same kindness, but you won’t always get it. People will form opinions as you speak. Talk anyway. Let your words be kind but fearless.

Kind, but fearless. That sounds like my dear teacher, the Rada Mambo. She's got my back as I develop the courage to "be." 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Elegua and Emotional Mindfulness

Last night I wanted to do something slightly out of the ordinary for my typical practice: pull a focus card for the week ahead. I wasn't in the mood for Tarot or Lenormand; I realized that it was Oracle time! I grabbed my Halloween Oracle, which I haven't used since early November, and settled down on the couch to shuffle.

I pulled Vampire: Emotional Intelligence.

Halloween Oracle - S. DeMarco

After some thought I realized that it's quite apt given what I've already experienced regarding my previous week or two! Some questions I pose to myself:

How well am I regulating my emotions and emotional responses?
In what ways can I create boundaries so that other people and situations don't drain me?
How can I foster a balanced give-and-take in my interactions with other people?

I've noticed that I've been more easily affected by my environment over the last few days, with stronger emotional reactions than tend to be normal for me (mostly teary, but occasionally irritable). In large part that's due to being sleepier than usual due to a busy, active past few weeks. Sleepier-than-usual = nerves more easily frayed. In these instances it becomes particularly important to take a step back and allow for a moment of reflection in order to gain perspective. Sometimes the little things that set us off really aren't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, and certainly aren't worth expending our valuable energy on being upset about.

One place I am sure I'll need to be mindful about my emotional responses is during one of the classes I'm teaching this month; I have a difficult student who's been trying my patience. I'm pretty laid back and have a great sense of humor, so it takes almost a miracle for me to lose my cool. This month many miracles have come to pass, I'll just put it that way. This will be my last week with this particular crew of college kids, and I want to enjoy it as much as possible, so I will focus on the joy I can find in each moment, and keep my emotional well-being in focus.

Just as I sat down to write this post I took a moment to finish reading an article by Jia Tolentino of an interview conducted with a fellow Lukumí practitioner, Caridad, that was quite well done. And in a moment of pristinely perfect synchronicity (even beyond what is evident from this post) this is what I read:

I appreciate Lucumi for all it has taught me about honoring life for all its contradictions and multiplicities. The idea of “both/and” transcending “either/or” is really present. It’s been very helpful for me, in anything from problems at work to breakups. Also, the idea of some orishas teaching backwards—that some lessons come unexpectedly and from a context that feels really tough. I’m a teacher, and I used to get these kids that were just wilin’ out, just so very crazy—and I learned to identify it as, “That's Eleggua's trickster energy.”

And that would bring a change in me—I’d go from being reactionary to being able to genuinely say “Thank you for showing up” to both Eleggua and the young folks themselves. This is where growing up within Buddhism really shaped my practice of Lucumi. I think it’s helped me be present and accepting with life as it is, at the same time that I try to be transformative when I need change.

Image by Andrea Corniel

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Novena Spread in Action

In early December I held a 9-hour novena vigil for St. Expedite (he's the saint of quickness, therefore it's not 9 days, like many other vigils tend to be!). I wrote a post about the spread that I derived from my experience (you can access it by clicking here) and in this post I want to share the actual reading that I did using the guiding questions that I developed based on each hour's set of prayers. Rather than cleaning up my notes, I am simply transcribing the precise thoughts that I jotted down when I was in the depths of the experience, unedited, and qualifier-free.

1) How can I experience faith more fully?

5 of Cups reversed. Strength through healing emotional sadness and disappointment. Consider the times I was sad and regretful, and how those situations turned out to be positive in ways I couldn't imagine at the time. Then you see how everything truly does happen for a reason - there is order.

8 of Disks, Thoth Tarot

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

8 of Pentacles. Everything takes time, don't forget. Dedicate yourself, learn, build your skills over time, know that little sacrifices will pay off in the long run. Build a foundation under the sun, and keep it fertilized. Be sensible, and be willing to put forth the effort. Cultivate your power.

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

Universe reversed. Don't settle. You can reach material "comfort" and still not be fulfilled. Upright, this is a card of synthesis, everything coming together. Until you feel complete, until you are satisfied that you've embraced your true calling and are following your path, be open to change. Be clear minded and have the strength to see truth, and to cut away what isn't working.

4) What is my greatest source of strength?

The Sun. Joy, a light always lit. Happiness. My children.

Thoth Tarot; Crowley/Harris

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

Death reversed. Realizing that it all comes down to how we deal with and embrace change. When we have our sights set on something and it doesn't happen, we have to let go, and if we don't want to, or can't, we feel pain. We limit our ability to evolve, to be spiritually prosperous, when we resist differences and transitions. We have to change on the inside, alter our worldview, and give the ultimate release. Death is all about letting go.

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

King of Wands. Expression. Flow - this King isn't afraid to engage others. Being true to yourself, representing your truth, and being willing to take risks. Focused feeling - expressive but not out of control. Owning your experience. Being honest about your feelings, and willing to confront others when necessary. Comfortable in your own skin. Don't let negative feelings own you or dampen your fire to create, and to succeed.

Thoth Tarot; Crowley/Harris

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

Queen of Wands reversed. Inner confidence and humility. It's not so much about reaching out, but reaching in.

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

6 of Swords. Helping others transition from difficulty to peace and well-being. Showing how to turn a negative into a positive. Objectivity. Seeing the good. Healing.

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

3 of Wands. Virtue. Realization of hope, creative fire, embracing my Will, self-possession, achievement. Energy working in alignment toward the same goal. Being true to myself. Understanding the responsibility of leadership.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chloe's "Christmas Crackers" Spread

One of my blogging mates, Chloe McCracken from Inner Whispers (and also the creative mind behind the Celtic Lenormand!), posted her Christmas Crackers spread for our Yule Blog Hop in December. It's simple and clear, just how many great spreads tend to be, and I bookmarked it to try. The idea is to use this spread to better understand and value our relationships with others. Chloe pulled cards about her family members, but you can also do this about your relationships with friends, lovers, I suppose even for a business partnership!

For this reading I decided to focus on my colleague, Rose, who is my closest friend in the work setting. We've been work partners for nearly three years, and have stood by each other through all the ups and downs. I used the Chrysalis Tarot, by Holly Sierra and Toney Brooks.

Christmas Cracker Spread

1)  The gift I offer them
2)  The gift they offer me

Chrysalis Tarot - Sierra/Brooks
US Games Systems

1) The gift I offer Rose: King of Spirals (The Companion)

I had to laugh at this, because the keyword is so perfect. I would definitely consider myself a companion for Rose. In fact I suppose to call us "companions" is quite accurate, in general. Our department has gone through a lot of change, and office politics has presented their difficulties over the years. But through it all we were always able to count on each other's support and friendship. We've spearheaded many projects together as a team, and we complement each other very well in style and personality. I like seeing myself as this King, as giving Rose a strong friend to rely on, a creative "partner in crime".

2) The gift Rose offers me: Magician (Ravens)

This card appeared inverted, and for good reason! The Magician gets things done - alone. With Rose, I get things done, but I don't have to do it independently. Like the Companion, I have a friend, someone who shares my interests, perspectives, and motivation, who is driven to manifest new ideas in the real world along with me. I was drawn immediately to the pair of Ravens on this card, symbolic of our team. The pearls these birds hold in their beaks remind me of bits of shared wisdom. Rose's gift to me is partnership in making our shared ideas come to life.

This was a lovely spread to do, and I look forward to repeating it in the future with other important relationships in my life. If you're wondering how you might interpret a "difficult card" if it appears as a gift in this layout, I encourage you to check out Chloe's post (linked above) as she has some great examples!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Creeping Out of My Cave

Since slightly before Yule/Christmas I've been on something like a sabbatical, really embracing the Hermit energy. I have a lot brewing that I will post about as time moves on, but I will give a recap of the past few weeks of my life:

Haindl Tarot - Strength

-I received the Haindl Tarot deck as a birthday gift. This is a deck I've been wanting for a long time, so I was very pleased to have it, and I've been working a lot with it in these past few weeks. I love the connection to the runes, as this is another system I work with. (It also features I-Ching, though I'm not so familiar with that!) I also like the fact that this deck follows the Thoth system. The Court cards are lovely, and pull from various cultures from around the world. I think Strength is quite possibly my favorite Major in the deck, depicting a woman intertwined with a snake on the edge of a river.

Winter sun in northern Michigan (O. Destrades)

-I spent a lot of time wandering the northern woods of Michigan, in and around the family cottage there. Sledding was serious fun, as was simply watching the lake effect snow fall over the hills as I sipped on hot coffee. While there I drew a card from Haindl deck on the question, "How would you describe the importance of being at this house to the people that come here?" I pulled the 2 of Swords - Peace. The image shows snow covered pine trees. I couldn't imagine a more apt card! The card itself mirrored my surroundings, and peace is precisely why we go there. With the steam from my hot beverage swirling around my nose, and large flakes catching in my eyelashes, I was allowed to feel removed from the steady pulse of my "regular life." No internet, no mail, no work, nowhere I needed to be. For a snapshot in time I was totally enveloped in peace.

Haindl Tarot

-My mother gifted me a beautiful, quartz pendulum handmade by the daughter of her Reiki instructor. It's been probably over 20 years since I've worked with a pendulum. It's gorgeous, and exploring this particular method of divination again after so long has been both intriguing and satisfying.

Game of Hope Lenormand - Star Edition

-On a very special Yule I found myself in Miami with my husband, kids, padrino and ilé. In the late evening I ended up doing Lenormand readings for several women, a totally impromptu session. I didn't know most of them, and the readings were very interesting. One woman told me, "You're the best reader I've ever been to, and that's saying something because I've been to a LOT. To be that good you have to really have a gift." I'm not saying that here to brag - I was really blown away and humbled and honored by what she said to me, and it was a wonderful, affirming gift to receive that left me warmed over.

-I met with several friends over the Christmas/New Year's weeks that I have not seen or spent much time with in years. It was wonderful. And our conversations helped me to gain some very helpful perspective on various elements in my life (namely my teaching work and my kids' education) that has been effective in allowing me to move into 2015 with increased clarity and purpose.

I'm grateful for having had the time for profound reflection over the past few weeks, and the opportunity I've had to recalibrate my inner compass. I'll say more, eventually. But now it's time for chocolate panettone and some ginger tea.....!