Saturday, January 28, 2017

A New Moon Reading

Alaina, from Exploringly Yours, has once again crafted a lovely spread for use at the New Moon, which just so happened to have occurred yesterday. I enjoy these readings and find that they provide interesting insights into my current state of being - this one was no exception.
My reading layout was as follows:

1) What is my wild side saying to me this New Moon? 4 of Swords
2) What must I release to honor my highest self? 2 of Wands
3) What must I embrace to honor my highest self? Hanged Man
4) What can I contribute to the collective at this time? Page of Swords
Pagan Otherworlds Tarot
The first three cards mirror a message I've been hearing lately in some other small self-readings (in fact the 4 of Swords was yesterday's card of the day): pause, peace, and reflection are the requirements of this moment. It is not a time for action just yet, and even if I'm raring to leave the starting gates, it's better to have a course in mind first. I have only vague shadows of thought around what this is referring to, which means that I will certainly benefit from some mindful quiet time.

I love this Page of Swords. How can I contribute to the collective? The Page asks questions, seeks truth, and doesn't let uncomfortable lines of inquiry prevent the exploration of ideas that need to be considered. I've been asking a lot of questions lately, especially in my January blog posts. Most connect to how we can progress as a nation in light of the current political climate. Here is a recap:

  • How are we supposed to move forward as a nation if we can't find a way to overcome the divisiveness?
  • If facts don't seem to matter, then what does?
  • How can we establish meaningful dialogue? 
  • What happens if we never manage to see eye-to-eye, or learn to hold rich, fruitful, meaningful, and considerate discussions about our points of disagreement?
  • How can we combat ignorance? 
  • How can we protect the environment, and human rights, and healthcare, in the face of this new administration?
  • What can I do? 
  • How can I help?

Answers aren't always clear, simple, or readily apparent; the important thing is to keep the conversation going.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mannaz and the Ace of Fire

A few days ago I pulled the Ace of Fire from the Dreams of Gaia Tarot as my morning draw. I didn't have a particular question in mind, but I've been trying to breathe my way through the current political climate, and the card immediately felt relevant. The Ace of Fire is a card of action - of manifestation of the creative impulse. Interestingly, in Spanish "manifestación" is the word for political demonstrations or protests. It is the voice of the people made manifest through the gathering of many into one.
I like the image on this card. The fire dragon reminds us of our own inner power to influence change in the world. The spider and her web is a symbol of interconnectedness - what affects one, affects all, in some way or another. We are not isolated individuals, but a community of unique essences that are ultimately woven together into a common tapestry. The spider web encases an egg, the potential for new life. The spider guards it carefully. What will be born from this possibility?

The other day I heard someone say that this deep upheaval is serving to wake us up out of complacency. We are now feeling spurred into action to protect and uphold liberties and equalities that perhaps were taken for granted for too long. There is a move to hold hands with each other, to forge bridges, and break the long-standing and outdated socio-cultural divides between communities who largely share the same values and core principles.

There is a call to learn, to understand, to advocate, to volunteer, to be heard.

As I pondered all of this, I recalled that the previous morning's rune draw (which was still sitting on my altar) was Mannaz. Unlike my card-of-the-day, I had indeed asked a question prior to drawing this rune. I said, "How? How can we combat ignorance? How can we protect the environment, and human rights, and healthcare, in the face of this new administration?" I can't imagine a more appropriate response than Mannaz.
A well-worn, nearly unreadable rune: Mannaz.
Mannaz represents humankind, our unique place in the landscape of community. I have drawn this rune before, particularly on days where issues of racism and inequality have weighed heavily on my mind. This rune calls us to identify and name our values, and to consider how they compare, contrast, or interact with those of other people: of our city, state, country, and world. Mannaz calls us to community mindfulness and mindedness. It calls us to high-level thinking, and to common action. The rune itself looks almost like two people standing side by side, an arm extended down to touch one another's waist; an open embrace. Mannaz says that each person does have a voice, and can make a difference. Moreover, it reminds us that each of us is charged with the responsibility of holding our community - local, national, and beyond - to a higher standard of action, behavior, and principle. None of us is off the hook; we all have a part to play.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tarot Thursday Three: You Can't Please Em All

Here is another round of #tarotthursdaythree, hosted by Julia at Spiral Sea Tarot. Feel free to answer these on your own blog, and let me know so I can read your responses!

Question One

What was your first time like giving an in-person reading? Where were you? How did you feel? Spill the deets!

Hmmm... the first time I ever gave an in-person reading was when I was 14, to my sister, using my mother's Medicine Cards. And I won't count that, for all of those reasons! As an adult, I started to read for strangers online before I read for them in person, and the two contexts are quite different. Reading online offers the opportunity to conduct the reading in your own personal, quiet space, to ponder the cards at your leisure, and to compose your thoughts at your own pace, without the pressure of having to perform on the spot. That said, it takes a lot of time to write a reading up; sometimes it's nice to just be able to tell someone what you see instead. Email readings don't allow for that, and also limit the ability to engage with a client. That said, email readings are what I do most!

I was terrified when I did my first email reading. That's actually when I started using reversals. I laid the cards out and was immediately struck with desire for what I felt were the critically valuable subtleties of meaning that reversed cards provide. At any rate, the feedback was very positive, and I was so relieved. I will say, however, that despite all of the positive responses I received from clients over the many months following that initial reading, it took me ages to start to overcome the fear.

I was anxious (not terrified) the first time I did a "proper" in-person reading for someone, but it was a great experience, and I left feeling exhilarated. I was sitting at the person's kitchen table in Miami, and they had just discovered that I was a card reader. They were excited, and it was entirely unplanned (which probably augmented my nerves, but also prevented a deeper sort of fear from setting in!), but it went very well. It was also the first time that I read Lenormand for others. One of the questions I was asked was if a certain individual would have to go to jail for probation violation, and if so, if it would be less than a 6-month stint in jail. Talk about pressure. I pulled the cards, and I said, yes, and yes. And that is indeed what happened. That was as educational for me as it was informational for them. I started to think that perhaps I preferred face-to-face readings because it's quite lovely to interact with a client, to discuss the cards together, etc. But in the end, I just don't have the time for it, so my mainstay continues to be email readings, which are still deeply rewarding.
Wild Unknown Tarot
Question Two

Have you ever had a negative client response to one of your readings? How did they react and why? How did you respond back?

Of course! I don't believe that many card readers who have read for broad and diverse audiences have ever entirely escaped the occasional "difficult" client response (yes, that's a euphemism). Fortunately, out of the thousands of readings I've done, I can count the negative reactions on one hand - well, two fingers, to be precise. Interestingly, they were very similar people, despite being from opposite sides of the planet. I will preface this by saying that I approach all clients respectfully and kindly, and even when the cards are "rough," I never leave a reading on a negative note. No matter what the cards say, there is always room for growth, and there are always blessings to be found (Christiana Gaudet just wrote a great post about this).

The first of these experiences occurred toward the start of my "reading for strangers" career, and it left me utterly devastated. It was also a free reading that I offered for practice. The woman had been essentially rejected by her family members, was single and lonely, and having a hard time finding work. She wanted to know if she'd find employment soon. The cards reflected her difficulties with finding a job where she could apply her skill-set, and suggested that she try to cast a wider net, to consider options that weren't necessarily in her chosen field, and to look into short-term certificate programs that might help increase her prospects. She was not happy with that, and accused me of giving her entirely worthless advice. She also said that she really wanted to know "when" a job would fall into her lap, and I hadn't answered that at all. I felt really bad, and told her that while I believed time predictions to be hard to accurately pin down, I could try to give her that. She calmed a bit, and agreed. I interpreted the card that came up to mean that she would locate work within a 3-month window of time. She came back with even more vitriol than before, and said that I had robbed her of all hope, and that she might as well just kill herself already. Yes, she did say that. And she ended with telling me never to communicate with her again. It's probably no surprise that I sobbed for hours, and felt the weight of that experience for many days to come. I knew I had not done anything wrong, and that she was in a "dark" place, but it wasn't a huge comfort. However it was a good growing experience. You can try your hardest, have the purest of intentions and the kindest disposition, and you still can't please em all (also - it's not always about you).

The second was a woman who was lonely, and similarly had been pushed away by close family members. She had asked about the future of an internet relationship she was developing with a fellow quite a number of years her junior. The cards suggested that she was carrying some pain from the past that needed to be released, and that the relationship was likely to be a bit unstable - though not without potential. The cards were mainly about self-healing, and encouraged her to find small ways to focus on exploring joy in her day-to-day life (taking a short vacation, or even a staycation, rearranging her furniture, getting a haircut, etc.) Honestly, I knew from the moment I sent the reading that it wasn't what she wanted to hear. She needed me to say that this was the man of her dreams, that her life would be saved by the relationship. She didn't want to hear about healing. I anxiously awaited her reply, which, when it finally came, was far worse than I had ever imagined. She berated me. She told me that I was a terrible reader. She accused me of being trite and even condescending. She used several choice swear words. She said she had never been more remorseful at having spent money before, and that she wished she had never ordered the reading. She said that she was too miserable to find joy. The thing is, as hard as it was to read her words, I actually "got" that. And because of my previous experience a couple of years before, I was more able to detach myself from her tirade, and be compassionate. To be too miserable to find joy. That is heartbreaking. And I could understand, in that light, how she might read my words as being trite, despite that not being my intention. I wasn't able to help her in the way that she needed. I replied and told her that I was extremely sorry that she didn't find any value in what I had offered her. I told her that contrary to what she had expressed, I was indeed very sincere in wanting to help and support her. And I offered her a refund. She became immediately calm and said, "Yes, please." I sent her money back immediately, and later I offered up some prayers for her. Her email to me was unfair and unnecessarily disrespectful, yes, but I recognized that she was truly and deeply unhappy, and I didn't take it personally.

Question Three

Have you ever been challenged by a skeptic regarding tarot? What was your experience like?

No. The closest I've come was once when I was taking an "intuitive Tarot" class and the instructor had invited in some acquaintances for us to practice with. I read for a woman's partner, and he was a total stone wall. The woman told me that he was generally pretty critical of all things divinatory (which I thought was ironic and probably not entirely true since he had volunteered to be there), but that she felt the readings were helpful for him anyway. It was a pretty powerful experience. The reading was potent and lovely, and the man never once uttered a peep! (But his lady sent me some smiles and deep nods along the way!).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Talking Past Each Other

Yesterday morning I pulled a morning draw from the Dreams of Gaia Tarot. The card was "Emotions/Intellect," which roughly corresponds to the Page of Cups in a more traditional deck. I've pulled this card a few times lately, and it always prods me toward the same end: speak your truth with kindness. Except there was more there this time - a deeper level of significance that connected to the current socio-political climate in the United States. I ended up composing this short paragraph:

A balance of heart and mind. Share your truth, and hold space for others to do the same (even if you don't agree with their perspective). Progress is restrained by compartmentalization, and impeded by "othering." It's particularly hard these days to listen, especially when we don't feel heard... but it has to start somewhere.
Indeed, it's challenging to be willing to listen to others who don't demonstrate that same willingness toward us. It's hard. Really hard. And yet how are we supposed to move forward as a nation if we can't find a way to overcome the divisiveness? 

Yesterday evening I witnessed yet another "discussion" on social media where a pretty honest and innocent question (by a New Zealander) about how it was possible for Trump to win if so many people seem not to like him, eventually led into the same sort of name-calling bitterness that is so common these days. There were some thoughtful, intelligent, calm, kind offerings, but at times those seemed to be drowned out by accusations and anger. It called to my mind the image from the 5 of Cups from the Deviant Moon Tarot:
A woman shouts angrily at a seated man, who plugs his ears as if enjoying his own blatant disregard for what she is saying. The three empty cups are symbolic of a lack of frith - the unity, togetherness, and joy represented by the 3 of Cups. Two cups stand patiently waiting to be remembered. The 2 of Cups is a card of love, harmony, healing, and meeting others half-way - the energy missing from most political conversations. The 5 of Cups is traditionally thought of as a card of regret, mourning, loss, sadness. It's not hard for me to imagine that this feeling is the root of what many people in our country are experiencing (no matter who they voted for), and underlies the impulse to shout, point fingers, and plug our ears to each other's voices. And while I believe that talking to each other is necessary, I'm starting to question the ability for us - as a nation - to ever arrive at any semblance of common ground or respectful inquiry. In the online discussion I viewed, I saw some individuals hotly refuting hard facts either without any evidence at all to support their perspectives, or, almost worse, citing sources that did not support their claims. It is almost mind-boggling, but it brings us back to the issue being discussed widely at present: if facts don't seem to matter, then what does? Where does that leave us? How does that help us to establish meaningful dialogue? 

At worst, anger, cynicism, and hurt seem to reduce our capacity and willingness to respectfully listen to each other. At best, some of these deep and fundamental issues become chasms that may not be easily fordable. What happens if we never manage to see eye-to-eye, or learn to hold rich, fruitful, meaningful, and considerate discussions about our points of disagreement? Then we must at a minimum act with kindness upon what our hearts and minds indicate is the right thing to do, and find a way to honor that in each other. Maybe that means that I volunteer at Planned Parenthood, and you support a Catholic adoption agency....and we still just might be able to sit down at the end of the day and share a cup of tea together. Maybe we can at least start with that. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Three Angles on Inauguration Day

This morning I pulled out two decks that called to be used for a reading: Dark Goddess Tarot and the Earthbound Oracle. It was one of those moments where your intuition is pulling you in a particular direction, and rather than question it you just go along for the ride. As I was settling down to shuffle I realized that the Dark Goddess is fitting for today as thousands of women descend upon Washington D.C. to announce their (our) unyielding presence.

First I drew from the Earthbound Oracle: Deceit.

A two-headed snake lies coiled, looking outward. One of the most mind-boggling aspects of the current political situation in the United States is the depth of shameless hypocrisy surrounding the notion of "lying." Hillary Clinton was marked with the scarlet letter "L" and yet it was her opponent who strangely became ever more popular with each falsehood uttered confidently and contemptuously. It has become jarringly apparent that truth is irrelevant. Nearly everything that the President-elect says is false - demonstrably so - and yet his followers either trust him in spite of the evidence, or they downplay its significance. In my opinion that is extraordinarily dangerous.

Yesterday one of my favorite news pundits said (and I'm paraphrasing here): "It's no longer time to support the important institutions and programs that make up Obama's strong legacy - it's now time to defend them." We can battle deceit with truth, but we have to be sure that we make our voices heard, and that we are unrelenting and consistent in our message.
Then I drew Santa Muerte, Death, from the Dark Goddess Tarot.

One of the most common ways that this card is described by readers is as a "transition," so it's apt to see it on this day of critical transfer of power from an outgoing, and very dear, President, to a new, and rather unpopular one. This is certainly a death, of sorts. And it's not without pain and grief. In fact there is a group of women I know who are wearing black today, in mourning. I decided to don, instead of black, my Obama shirt, which I purchased promptly following the election day this past November. I didn't formulate the sentiment into words, but essentially I was declaring my position: This is my President. My mother posted a wise quote by Judd Apatow today:

"I don’t think it serves a purpose to be against him. It only serves a purpose to fight issue by issue."

So in the wake of the inauguration, a time replete with uncertainty and charged with the unmoored feeling that is a part of loss, this gives us something to focus on: a tangible action to take, a perspective we can get behind.

When I went to photograph these cards I decided to take that moment to pull my daily rune. I don't normally post about my rune draws, but when Uruz came out of my rune pouch, it felt like a potent cap to the two cards I had drawn, a pyramid of complementary energies.

Uruz is the wild aurochs, it is strength and vibrancy and well-being and power. My thoughts went immediately to the women marching on Washington today, and to all of the people gathering together across the country to make their convictions evident - both to the powers that be, and to each other. There is great power in unity, and great strength in sharing a common cause. This is precisely what we need as we take our next steps forward as a people. May our endurance never wane.

Tarot Thursday Three: I Love the Celtic Cross

Here I am with another round of Tarot Thursday Three, hosted by Julia from Spiral Sea Tarot! Well, okay, I'm a day late. But late is better than never!

Question One

If you could design your own Tarot deck and have it mass-produced, what theme would it have and what would it look like overall? 

Oh, this is an interesting question. First, I don't think I would want my deck to be mass-produced. My own favorite decks tend to be either self-published or produced by small, independent publishing companies or art collectives. If I created my own, I'd prefer to take that route. That said, I have thought quite a lot about what sort of deck I would create, and I can say that I have yet to decide on the "perfect" theme or design. Perhaps this is why I don't have anything in the works!

I've thought about creating an oracle deck based on Santería/Ifá. I've thought about making a full, traditional-style deck and associating stanzas of the Hávamál with each card (I even have a partial list of card-stanza pairings). I've thought about doing a deck based on my artistic reinterpretations of my husband's photography. But to be honest, nothing feels quite right.

As far as thematic decks go, I'm actually not a huge fan. I do own a few that are particularly well-done and very dear to me: New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, Dark Goddess Tarot, Mythic Tarot, even the Giants Tarot, I suppose. But in most cases I feel that it is too challenging to jam a theme neatly into the Tarot structure, and most thematic decks have weak spots where it seems that the creator had to stretch a bit too much to make a correlation. Examples of this are: the Hobbit Tarot, the Ring Cycle Tarot, and to an extent the Vikings Tarot. So for my own deck I'd probably steer toward a more traditional style, with earthy and simple-yet-clear symbolism. And in terms of media, I'm a fan of painting.
New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
Question Two

How do you feel about the Celtic Cross spread?

Is this a trick question? I have heard many readers gripe about the Celtic Cross, but to be honest, I'm not really sure why. I don't generally like to do large spreads because there is so much meaning to be found in even a single Tarot card that anything more than five seems like overkill. But the Celtic Cross is wonderful when I want to understand the breadth and depth of energies surrounding a person or situation. I am so intimately familiar with the layout that I usually have a clear and immediate impression of what's going on over and under the surface, and for that reason I find it indispensable. There are so many versions out there, but the one I use is laid out thus (minus the significator, which I don't use):

The positions I use are:

1) Heart of the matter
2) Crossing card (elements blocking or strongly influencing the matter)
3) Above (what is on the querent's mind, what is known)
4) Below (energies flowing under the surface of the matter)
5) Past (previous issues impacting the present)
6) Immediate future (where things are heading)
7) Querent (what energies the querent brings to the situation)
8) Environment (people or circumstances influencing the matter)
9) Hopes/Fears (may or may not not be based in reality)
10) Outcome (what to be aware of 3-6 months down the line)

Question Three

If you could have any deck in the whole world (that you do not have already), which one would you pick and why?

If I had been asked this question a year ago, I would have said hands-down, "The Greenwood!!" The artwork is primal and beautiful, and of course it's out of print and nearly impossible to find... such that when you can find it, it's always set at exorbitant prices. It's actually stupid. I think that if I did own it, I probably wouldn't read with it very often, and I'd end up feeling like an idiot for spending the money. I don't long for the Greenwood anymore. Probably (aside from my distaste related to the price gouging) it is because I have grown into a better understanding of how I interact with decks, and what I really like to read with. Nowadays what deck would I love to have? I think Le Tarot Noir, perhaps. I don't own any true Marseilles decks, and the art style is intriguing - reminds me a bit of illustrations in a haunting and captivating fantasy book that doesn't actually exist.
Le Tarot Noir

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Old Art, New Tattoo

It has been over five years since my last tattoo. My upper arms, and one small part of my left forearm, as well as most of my back, are inked. Over the past months I'd been feeling a desire to have a larger piece done on my right forearm. I like timeless tattoos - nothing contemporary or related to pop culture in any way. No bright colors. I hesitate to use the term "tribal" but that is the best general description for the style of art that I prefer.

On my back I have a listing of numbers which represent the birthdates of close family members. I have a mandorla, a stick bird from a centuries-old Sami drum, and the names of my older kids written out in the Cherokee syllabary. Both of my upper arms are covered in black bands that I designed based on the tradition of Indonesian women tattooing their hands, arms, and shoulders, often connected to major life events (I got these after my husband and I married - and he had Celtic crosses done on his forearms for the same reason!). On my upper left forearm I have my son Gabriel's name written in Hebrew.
For my new tattoo I wanted to represent Germanic mythology in some form. I knew that I wanted something connected to Odin, but I also knew that I didn't want something typical (aka no Odin with ravens and wolves, no valknut - though I love those symbols) and I also didn't want anything contemporary in style. There are some beautiful reinterpretations of ancient art, but I didn't want that either. I started examining runestones and on the Stora Hammars III runestone I saw an image of Odin in eagle form next to Gunnlöð who bears a drinking horn filled with the mead of poetry. I love this story. I also love Odin depicted in his eagle shape. I love the image of the "maiden and the mead." Its shape would fit well on my arm. I sat with the idea for a few days. I looked at more potential images. Finally I decided to pull a rune around it, and I drew Sowilo from my pouch. Okay then! This would be the one.

At the tattoo shop, they offered to redraw the image, to make it more symmetrical. I told them that I really wanted the original work, with no significant alterations. They warned me that people might not be able to figure it out. I thought: as long as it looks accurate, that's what matters.
In the end, they were happy to give me what I wanted, and I was happy with the work they did. I suspect that this will end up as one part of a larger sleeve that will bear more Germanic art, possibly from the same runestone series.

Not all of my tattoos are "pretty" or objectively appealing pieces. In fact perhaps none of them are. I remember that after getting my upper arm tattoos, someone asked me if they were just outlines of something more I was planning to do - and was surprised when I said, "No." Yesterday as we were driving back home from the shop, I reflected on that, and if I cared. On one hand it's nice to show off a piece (which you only get because it matters to you) and have others comment on how lovely it is. But my tattoos are ultimately for me. When I receive a tattoo, I feel like I'm tapping into some primal essence, into ancient history, into the annals of human experience. I invite all of that history to become a part of me. I am happy to bear the work of an unknown artisan from the 700s, in all of its asymmetrical glory. An indigenous craftswoman once told me that the best work is never "perfect." I agree!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Full Moon Ritual Reading

The other night, for the Full Moon in Cancer, I completed a reading designed by Alaina O'Brien and posted on Instagram:

While it was immediately significant to me, I was too sleepy to write about it at the time. A few days later, however, I find myself up early on a Saturday morning, nursing a hot and and strong cup of coffee in my Michigan Mitten mug, prepared to dive in.

The position meanings are as follows:
I used the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot:
1) In what areas of my life am I dimming my light? Hierophant

Work. I pushed myself pretty hard in the autumn, leading up to the holidays. I had a lot of coordinating to do, a lot of meetings to facilitate, a lot of information to disseminate, a lot of pieces to align toward a major project goal. I was feeling pretty exhilarated by the end of December, but also pretty wiped out. While I had two weeks of vacation immediately following that, I spent the first of those battling strep throat, and the next two (including my first week back at work) dealing with its remnants which led me to the doctor and another round of antibiotics before I finally started to feel "right." All of this combined, I wasn't feeling ready to sally forth into a new term. I was dragging my feet, feeling uninspired, wading through the drudgery of the post-holiday tasks. The big project was mostly set up and ready to go, but it still required some attention. Only now I wasn't feeling excited by it - if anything I felt like I was coming down off a momentous high, and feeling confused about what to do next. 

2) How can I best bolster my heart? King of Wands

This King was a fairly regular companion for me during the autumn. In contrast to the at times static-feeling rigidity of the Hierophant, the King of Wands burns with the energy of vision, creation, and self-mastery. His fire is directed, but not fully contained. And it is that fire that I've been needing to feel again. I started to recall some of the new projects I wanted to start in 2017, the farther reaching goals I hope to meet in the year ahead, and I began to feel that tug of inspiration pulling at the edges of my spirit again. 

3) Message from the High Priestess to my heart: 6 of Cups

This ties in to the upcoming self-love cards. The 6 of Cups represents memory; our deepest, most authentic selves; the care-free energy of youth; and the joy of innocence. The card here seems to say, "Be like a child again." When you dive under the pressures that accumulate over the years, the weight of adulthood's responsibilities, what do you feel? Who is there? When I was in Michigan over the holiday, one of my favorite moments was a woods-walk we took. Gabriel hung from freezing jungle-gym bars with bare hands, unbothered by the cold because of the fun of his experience. I laid down belly-first in the river mud so that I could reach my hand into icy waters to splash my face. When I was young I used to spend long hours alone in the forest, picking wild raspberries, building lean-tos, identifying animal paw prints in the soil. I saw foxes, rabbits, and sometimes deer. That was the whole world for me then. I distinctly recall one afternoon on a glorious summer day where I sat on a leafy footpath at the top of a hill watching the wind blow through the trees. Those moments of unadulterated bliss, of pure "being," are a key; a memory to tap into; a reminder of my innate and wild freedom.

4/5/6) How can I integrate more self-love into my daily life? King of Cups rx, 2 of Cups, 9 of Pentacles rx

I had to smile at the anchoring presence of the 2 of Cups, so perfect in response to this question. Both the King of Cups and the 9 of Pentacles are relevant to important elements of who I am and how I am developing. At its core this line reminds me that I often become too caught up in "not being or having or doing enough" and fail, at times, to honor and recognize the plentitude in my life, which ultimately impacts the strength of my emotional body. I am enough

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tarot Thursday Three: New Decks

Tarot Thursday Three is a set of weekly prompts for "mystical" bloggers begun by Julia from Spiral Sea Tarot and I thought I would participate today for the first time!

Question 1

What do you do with a deck you don't connect with?

"Connecting" with a deck is a rather mysterious process. For the decks I don't keep reaching for, they tend to collect on a divination bookshelf that I have in the living room. All decks have interesting perspectives to offer via their arrangement, artwork, themes, etc. I have yet to acquire a deck that I don't like, but I do have a lot that don't inspire me to work with them very often. One such deck - the Raven's Prophecy - has become my glove compartment deck, in case of emergency. Sometimes, if I feel like I need a divinatory "breath of fresh air," I'll pull one out to read with. And it's worth mentioning that I don't always read with the decks I like a lot. For instance, the Dark Goddess Tarot is spectacular, but I only pull it out from time to time.
The Raven's Prophecy Tarot lives in my glove compartment
Question 2

How long do you give yourself to connect with a new deck?

I don't time the process. If I find myself called to use a deck over and over, then I know there is something special there. That said, usually I know how it's going to go if after a week or two the deck is gathering dust. To date there is only one deck that I've used with great consistency over a relatively long period of time, and that is the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot, by Uusi. (I reviewed the deck in this post). That doesn't mean it's the only deck that I connect with, but I would say that perhaps it's my "the one." ;)

Question 3

What consecration ritual(s) do you use with new divination tools?

Nuttin'. I think fondly back to my early divination days when I would smudge every single card of a new deck in sage smoke, and "charge them with my intentions." Perhaps I'm old and crotchety now, but saging them (or not) doesn't impact my readings for better or for worse, doesn't help me focus more deeply, and doesn't open my intuition to more profound messages. So I don't bother!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Promise

Last night I settled into a corner of the couch, prepared to read or pull some cards while my husband watched an episode or two from one of his Hulu series. But then he passed me the remote control. I switched over to cable, figuring I'd flip channels until I found something interesting. The moment the television sparked to life, I saw a news anchor announcing the start of Barack Obama's farewell speech. For the next hour, we witnessed his final, formal words as President of the United States.

No matter what anyone says, I love, and will always love, this man. He wasn't perfect (and I'm sure he would agree), and not everyone supported his stances on matters such as healthcare and foreign policy. However he accomplished a lot of good during his tenure; he was a fundamentally good person. He is that. He is deeply intelligent, thoughtful, discerning, wise, and kind. His partnership with Michelle Obama is a beautiful testament to what a good, strong, balanced relationship can and should be. He didn't fulfill everyone's expectations for what he should do (no leader ever achieves that), and yet he will forever stand high above his predecessors, and in my heart, as one of the best presidents the U.S. has ever had.

Last night's speech was a beautiful farewell, and also a gentle-but-firm warning that the future of this country depends on the active involvement of every citizen. As I was listening, I pulled some cards from the Cosmos Tarot and Oracle:

The first card I pulled was meant to capture Obama's essence: Ace of Water, Hydrus.
The Ace of Water, an act of love. That was abundantly evident in his speech and his demeanor. The keywords on the bottom of the card caught my attention: "In one's element" - he certainly was. "Ease of action" - I don't necessarily assume that any of his speeches are "easy" to give, but he certainly makes them appear so due to his depth of grace and comfort in his own skin. The guidebook says:

Hydrus is a symbol of wisdom, steadiness, and focus. Snakes possess a fluid, elegant form that borders on elemental. Water snakes, above others of their species, signify awareness, flexibility, and subtle strength.... one can take time to celebrate a period of emotional peace with oneself.

All I can say is: yes. Not only does this encapsulate how I experience President Obama, the last bit connects beautifully to the core essence of what his farewell speech was all about. 

The next card I pulled was meant to signify Donald Trump's emergence in U.S./World politics: Comet.
An orange monkey that is far too big for the porch it's sitting on holds a woman captive by the throat, and binds her feet with its tail. Hmmm...... I think I'll let that speak for itself. The keywords read: "A sign of fate; a harbinger of change." Yes, that about sums it up. The guidebook reads:

As a comet passes close to the sun, it heats up and begins to emit gases which create a visible aura called a coma. Sometimes the visible coma can be seen from Earth. The coma's presence has given rise to speculation that comets are harbingers of doom or incredible change.

I believe that both are true. Change is already underway, for better or worse. In his speech, Obama touched on the fact that there is a subsection of the U.S. population that has been essentially ignored over the past couple of decades, and that it is that hole that ultimately paved the way for Trump's election. Understanding that dynamic is critical. I believe that many of us feel "doomy" about what is happening in our country... but I do believe that it is when we are faced with the dark that we learn how to shine our light most brightly. So in the end I also believe that we will certainly get through this difficult time to come, and that we will emerge the better for what we are able to accomplish in the meantime. 

Finally I pulled a card asking, "What can I do? How can I help?" I pulled the Moon from the Oracle deck.
Frogs and lizards huddle around a full moon, in a celestial embrace. Frogs represent healing energy, and the moon is the great light that shines in the dark. The positioning of the frogs looks protective: and indeed it's probable that protecting women's rights - especially in terms of healthcare - will be a significant matter in the years ahead. The moon also represents uncertainty and the unknown, which is how I've been feeling lately in respect to politics and the upcoming inauguration. I know that many will take to the streets - in fact even my mother will be heading to Washington D.C. in a couple of weeks to joint the Women's March on Washington. There is value in popular dissent. In my 20s I was very involved in political and social activism, and participated in a great number of marches, across several states. But it doesn't quite feel "right" for me at this moment. There must be another way. The moon governs the darkness, and as the keywords state: "secrets, mystery, cycles." Perhaps my way of acting will be more subtle - less attention-drawing. The guidebook says:

As a card, the Moon suggests that those who act behind the scenes can be extremely influential.

Yes, I thought. I don't have to march to make a difference. I just have to act. I said silently to myself in that moment: "I promise." I promise to speak when I see injustice, and to act in support of environmental preservation, human rights and equality in all its forms. I looked down at the oath ring on my left wrist, as if to seal my promise in its silvery sheen. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A New Year

Wow! It's been three weeks since I last posted, which I think is a record. But I can explain...


December was a whirlwind month and toward the end I spent two full weeks (laptop free) in the north country enjoying the snow and cold breeze before heading back down into the warmth of the tropics. My son and I suffered a bout of strep throat at the start of our trip, and when I woke up on the day we departed for home, I once again felt a funny tickle in my throat (not likely to be strep again, though, and for that I'm grateful!).

We've been living in Florida for nearly five years, and I have adjusted to the unique climate. I enjoy that the winters are like a perfect northern autumn, and I appreciate not having to drive in ice and snow. I don't mind the intense heat of the summer months (though I'm not keen on the increase in insects that it brings!). I love the moody skies of the rainy season, especially in contrast to the deep dryness of the fall and winter months, where precipitation is so scarce we often have wildfire warnings.

However on this trip north I remembered just how "right" it feels to be in the snow.
One day we packed ourselves up and drove out to the country side for a romp in the woods (one of my favorite things to do, but something I rarely do in Florida due to the creatures that lurk in the shadows [insert scary music here]).
It was spectacular. It was a rare sunny day, with sparkling blue skies. The air temperature was rather balmy for January, at about 38 degrees.
The trees feel different in the north - good, like home. We do have oaks and maples and even pines in the deep south, but the quality of energy is not quite the same.
There were towering birch trees, which have always been a favorite of mine. As a child I would sometimes peel birch bark to make small baskets.
And the water, albeit freezing, felt so good in the hand. I laid down on my stomach on the damp, muddy riverbank and brought some of the cold water to my face.
Though I brought a deck with me on my trip, I ended up using my mother's Mythic Tarot quite a bit. The 8 of Wands has been following me around for the past few weeks, speaking of travel and movement, and communication.
I purchased a new playing card deck from a favorite local (to Michigan) brewery - Founders - and sure enough, my daily draw on the day we were set to fly back south was none other than the 8 of Clubs!
My husband surprised me with several beautiful and deeply thoughtful gifts. Here is a silver Norse arm ring.
This is a gold ring that he had etched with a portion from one of my favorite Havamal stanzas (57): "Fire is from fire quickened."
This is a Norse vessel pendant that almost appears to double as a mjölnir, complete with Thor's face up top (or, it could just be a person). It is a replica of a brooch found in a grave site in Bornholm, Denmark.
And this is the gold bracelet that was given to me as a baby. He opened it and finished the ends with gold caps and rubies so that I can wear it again (now that my wrists are quite a bit larger!!).

Altogether it has been a beautiful season, and I am filled with gratitude.

May your 2017 bring you all peace, joy, and abundance!