Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rune Study Post #12: Isa

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Isa, the eleventh rune of the Elder Futhark, and third in the second aett.

Isa translates to "ice," and connects to themes of stillness, inertia, cold or cooling, focus, the ego and will, and control.

An Anglo Saxon rune poem reads:

Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery;
it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems;
it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon.
Power of the Runes deck by Voenix
An Old Icelandic rune poem reads:

Ice is bark of rivers
and roof of the wave
and destruction of the doomed.

I particularly like the Icelandic poem, as that first bit reminds me of the ice that can cover rivers during the heart of winter. Ice gives the illusion of stasis, but under the "bark of rivers" there is so much movement taking place.

Questions:

1) What other meanings do you attribute to Isa?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Isa has presented itself in your rune work or castings, how have you seen its energy manifested, or experienced its impact?

Monday, April 24, 2017

How Way Leads on to Way

Every once in a while I become mesmerized by the interconnectedness of things, and feel compelled to talk about it: this is one of those moments.

Last Friday I attended a psychometry meeting with a group of (mostly) women. It was the first time in many months that I was able to go, and it was lovely to reconnect with familiar faces. Each meeting begins with a meditation - different each time - meant to calm the mind and open us to the energies of the people and environment around us.

This time our meditation facilitator guided us through the opening of each chakra, and then to the expansion of those energies outward into the earth, the town, the world, and cosmos. Two things were very evident to me during this experience:

  • As I expanded outward into the depths of space, I felt Odin's presence, and I was very happy. Being there brought me back to a dream I'd had nearly a year ago (May 2016) about being in outer space, not seeing but clearly feeling Odin, and seeing concentric circles surrounding the planet. I won't go into detail here, but if you're curious, feel free to click here to read my post about it.
  • I felt a deep calling to connect more deeply to the Earth, and to mother energy. 
Shortly thereafter we began to "read" our objects (click here to read about how psychometry works), and the elderly woman who had my silver bracelet told me (among other things) that she felt I was on earth to teach peace. This is a theme that has been relatively consistent throughout my life. In fact, my tutelary Orisha is Obatalá, who is known for wisdom, patience, and peace. As I was listening to her read the notes she had written, I wondered about that, and about how over the past few years I feel like I've been developing my warrior qualities - how do the two connect when they seem so contrary? 

Yesterday I was feeling a bit glum and in need of "something" unidentifiable. In the evening my husband, son, and I drove downtown to my favorite metaphysical shop. I wandered. I had no clear purpose. I reviewed cards, but none called to me. I wandered through the crystal room, looked, and browsed, and then I saw a small basket filled with green stones - Green Aragonite. I am not normally attracted to green stones (which is a little funny, since green is one of my favorite colors!), but this felt good to me. I sorted through the basket and found a beautiful piece, striated with rusty lines reminiscent of lightning bolts. I was unsure of its characteristics, but it felt calming and nurturing, and right, so I kept it in my hand. 
Then I went to the book room, and let my eyes run over the titles. I thought I caught a glimpse of the word "trees" so I went back over the same shelf more slowly, and found a new book there called, "Be More Tree," by Alice Peck. Hmmm...... I pulled it out and started to flip through it, and I fell in love. The book reviews the qualities of a large array of trees from around the world - their characteristics, their cultural associations and mythologies. There are excerpts from well-known authors that capture the essence or teaching of a particular tree. There are suggestions for ways to "be more tree." 
Over the past month or two I quite suddenly started being utterly moved by the beauty of trees that I'd walked by hundreds of times before. I have always loved trees, and one of my favorite things about the nightly strolls that my husband and I take is the opportunity to simply see and appreciate them (and the birds, and flowers). And yet it was like I was observing them with a whole new set of eyes. I would stop mid-stride, mouth hanging open, ogling the elegance of an oak tree. Once I was so transfixed by the movement of the branches overhead dancing in the evening breeze, the last tendrils of sunlight weaving through their leaves, that my husband had to remind me that a car was coming, and that I should probably move! 

I pondered the Norse creation story, which tells that the first humans were created out of trees. When we went to a local Easter egg hunt, I saw groups of people waiting for the event to start, and next to them there were stands of cypress and oak trees. All I could think of was Ask (Ash) and Embla (Elm), and how closely we are related, somehow.

Indeed, in Germanic cosmology, the multiverse is contained within Yggdrasill, the World Tree. 

This tree book felt just as right as the stone I was carrying, so I purchased both and left the shop. Later I researched Green Aragonite, and found that it connects to Earth goddess energy, and helps calm the nerves. Hm! That was so timely in light of my meditation experience a couple of days before, and an unsurprising-but-affirming reminder that intuition is the best tool for selecting stones. 

Before bed I flipped the book open and it landed "randomly" on Olive - my namesake! Olive is associated with peace, which got me thinking about the psychometry reading, and about my earlier musing on the dichotomy between peace and warrior energy. 
And I realized that they are entirely complementary. We tend to think of them as opposites, but without the courage of the warrior spirit, can there ever be true peace? When I was young (and even into my young adulthood) conflict was deeply challenging for me. I avoided it at all cost, I worked hard to promote harmony and mutual understanding. I thought of myself as a "peace-loving" person, and while that was true, it was also true that I often avoided conflict out of fear. It is one thing to have the courage to be confrontational if necessary, but to prefer the route of thoughtfulness, diplomacy, and peace. It is quite another thing when the preference for peace stems from a place of fear and self-doubt. Obatalá is the Orisha of peace and wisdom, but he was also a great warrior who went to battle countless times. I don't believe he would have been able to be such a valuable force for cool-headed thinking and a calm demeanor without first having learned what it means to fight. 

In that sense, I see how the development of my warrior energy has been a sort of healing process (especially under the tutelage of Odin, though Obatalá's offerings are present here as well), and ultimately serves to make my preference for peace all the more meaningful. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rune Study Post #11: Nauthiz

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Nauthiz, the tenth rune of the Elder Futhark, and second in the second aett.

Nauthiz translates to "need," or "need-fire," and connects to themes of self-reliance, hard work, resistance, the effort expended toward the realization of achievements, drudgery, and working one's örlög and wyrd. In Nauthiz, the discomfort of friction kindles the fire of the will. This is also a rune utilized in romantic endeavors/magic.

A small anecdote: last week I was feeling pressure to finally sit down and complete a writing project that I had been putting off for a few weeks; I knew I had to sit down and push it out (there is some quality of "birthing pains" to this rune, I find). I didn't want to, wasn't in the mood, but I hunkered down and focused and got it done anyway. Later I recalled that I'd pulled Nauthiz that morning, and it was such a perfect fit for that central focus of my day.
Power of the Runes - Voenix
An Old Norwegian rune rhyme* reads:

Need makes for a difficult situation;
the naked freeze in the frost.

An Old Icelandic rune poem* reads:

Need is the grief of the bondmaid
and a hard condition to be in,
and toilsome work.

Questions:

1) What other meanings do you attribute to Nauthiz?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Nauthiz has presented itself in your rune work or castings, how have you seen its energy manifested, or experienced its impact?


*translation from Runecaster's Handbook by Edred Thorsson

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rune Study Post #10: Hagalaz

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Hagalaz, the ninth rune of the Elder Futhark, and first in the second aett.

Hagalaz translates to "hail stone," and connects to themes of disruption, bad weather, unexpected change, unpleasant (but ultimately positive) transformation, and the discomfort that accompanies growth and becoming. The hail falls, cold and harsh and even damaging at times, but when it melts the water nourishes the earth and encourages new seeds to grow. In its alternate form, Hagalaz appears a bit like a snowflake (as depicted in the card illustration shown below), and is said to contain the seeds of all other runes.
Power of the Runes deck by Voenix (US Games Systems)
An Old English rune poem* reads:

Hail is the whitest of grains,
it comes from high in heaven,
showers of wind hurl it,
then it turns to water.

An Old Icelandic rune poem* reads:

Hail is a cold grain,
and a shower of sleet,
and the destroyer of snakes.

Questions:

1) What other meanings do you attribute to Hagalaz?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Hagalaz has presented itself in your rune work or castings, how have you seen its energy manifested, or experienced its impact?



*translation from Runecaster's Handbook by Edred Thorsson

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: Going Beyond the Little White Book

Learning to read the tarot can be a daunting task. A traditional deck contains 78 cards, each one with incredible depth and breadth of meaning - where do you even begin? There are numerous theories regarding the "best" approach, and ultimately each seeker must find her or his own way. What is often indispensable (however one chooses to dive in to the universe of tarot) is a good reference text that goes beyond what any "little white book" could ever provide...something both esoteric and practical; something that offers a clear framework while encouraging intuitive development; something that provides a substantial launch pad of sorts, and yet leaves space for unique growth and exploration to occur.

Liz Worth's book,* Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot, successfully manages to deliver that alchemical combination in a thorough, easy-to-read, and very relatable package.

Following a brief introduction, the book is divided into three central sections:

  • a short but fundamental "How to Use This Book" prologue, 
  • the Major Arcana, and 
  • the Minor Arcana (broken down into suits)
I highly appreciate the manner in which Ms. Worth sets the stage for the reader: learning the tarot is a  long-term process that requires patience, commitment, and an open heart. No matter how long you have been reading, there is always more to uncover; we are all eternal students. And while on one hand she has created a profound and beautifully structured guide for use with any deck, she is very clear that the content she has developed is far from exhaustive: this book provides a (very comprehensive!) home base as each reader develops a unique and personal relationship with the cards. With her work Ms. Worth is offering up the sort of resource that she would have wanted as a new tarot student, and yet her holistic and detailed approach offers wisdom, insights, and food-for-thought even for established readers.

An average of four pages of text is awarded to every card in the deck, and each entry features the following sub-sections:

  • An "intention" that matches the energy of the card
  • A card-appropriate mantra that can serve as a focal point for study or meditation
  • A thorough overview of the card's energy and meaning
  • Suggestions for how to understand the card as a "challenge"
  • Examples of the card's connections to the two most popular areas of life: career and romance (both "light" and "shadow" aspects)
  • A list of questions to consider (I am a huge fan of using guiding questions to connect a card's meaning to personal experience, so I particularly love this element)
If you enjoy reading reversals, or if you are interested in exploring them, you will be quite satisfied with what you find here. While Ms. Worth mentions in her prologue that due to space constraints she has chosen not to include the meanings of reversed cards, she discusses how to understand cards when they fall in "challenged positions," which is the essence of a reversal. However by discussing them as "challenged" as opposed to "reversed," Ms. Worth offers the full scope of a card's potential meaning without showing preference for a particular reading style: some people don't use reversals, but all readers consider the shadow aspects of cards. Whether intentional or not, this approach is quite effective.

I do want to mention that while Ms. Worth has created a valuable resource that supports the use of any deck a reader prefers to work with (no card images are included in the book in order to encourage this), the card meanings do favor the Rider-Waite-Smith system as opposed to, say, the traditional Marseille (that said, there are some who apply the RWS method of reading to Marseille decks, and if you are one of those, then have at it!).

When all is said and done, the practical approach and natural voice that Ms. Worth weaves so fluidly together with her substantial experience in card reading makes for a very engaging and worthwhile read, no matter how many years you've been shuffling.

The down-n-dirty details of Going Beyond the Little White Book:

  • Author: Liz Worth
  • Author's website: LizWorth.com
  • Format: ebook ($8.28) and paperback versions ($24.95) are available 
  • Page count: 354
  • ISBN: 9781483458557
  • To purchase, click here.




*I received Going Beyond the Little White Book from the author for review. That said, the content in this post accurately reflects my true thoughts and opinions on the title.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Lovers: What Do You Stand For?

(I am sharing this from my Instagram account because I feel it merits being cross-posted)

I have been deeply upset by the gassing of towns in Syria 🇸🇾 and the images of the toll this has taken particularly on the most innocent of creatures: the children. It's a devastation (yet another, piled on top of all that the Syrian people have had to endure) that moves far beyond any hope of expression.

This morning I wished forcefully that a divine hand would descend and wash from the earth all of the perpetrators of these horrible acts; and that the same hand would provide safe haven and healing to all of these disastrously affected, innocent people. But that's not going to happen. The divine hand, in the end, must be our own. We wait and wait for something to change, but it doesn't. And at times, when we thought it unlikely to worsen in scope and impact, it does just that.

Syria is not too far away, it is not full of unknown people, and the horrors happening there are not disconnected from any of us. These energetic ties that permeate the universe touch us all, and each act of violence is a breach in the web.
Pagan Otherworlds Tarot - Uusi
I asked the cards: What can we do? The Lovers was the response.

We can demonstrate our love for one another. We can be a beacon. We can support our fellow humans when they are in pain. We can decide what we truly believe in, and if we are willing to act on those beliefs. I keep hearing DMX in my head: "It's about gettin down for what you stand for."

What do you stand for? What can you do about it?

  • Donate to humanitarian efforts like NuDay Syria, Islamic Relief, and many others who are working to aid victims of these most recent gas attacks, and refugee resettlement
  • Talk about what's happening
  • Stay on top of the news
  • Pray
  • Be willing to learn more about the conflict and its impact on civilians
  • Urge (through calls and letters) your government representatives and senators to oppose any ban on acceptance of Syrian refugees

What do you care about? What do you believe in? How will you show it?

Every person can make an impact. 🔥

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Death as a Source of Power

As part of my participation in an April Instagram challenge, I drew a card from the Major Arcana meant to represent the archetype from which I draw power. As I started to shuffle, my mind began to wander...what card would appear? I can say that of all of the images that passed through my thoughts, I was not expecting the one that I finally pulled - and it is in those moments that the most interesting and unexpected insights emerge....

I draw power from Death.
Druid Craft Tarot - Art by Will Worthington
I see the tale of Ceridwen, Gwion, and Taliesen here in the cauldron's crest, and it has special significance for me at the moment, another iteration of a common theme of inspiration and transformation.

In Death I see the story of our ancestors. How many people have contributed to our bloodline, have died without their names or stories ever being recorded? And yet they influence us still, in our blood and bones, in our örlog and our hamingja, the substance of our very souls. We are their legacy. Death - even our own mortal one - is not the end of our tale, nor that of those who will draw on our guidance far in the future when we are in turn ancestors, when perhaps even our own names and stories have been forgotten. No matter what, our essence is an indelible thread in the fabric of existence.

I draw my power from my ancestral past, and from the mythologies that still serve to teach timeless lessons to us after thousands of years.

I draw my power from the cycle of death and birth, or creation, and change; death and life are indivisible lovers.

Yesterday's Hanged Man, drawn as the "source of my skills," brought to mind, as always, Odin's story of self-sacrifice. Today's Death furthers that line of connection: to greet its presence every day, even in its smallest measures - the death of a thought, a feeling, an assumption, a limitation, of an expectation or desire - to allow something new to be born in its place: that is life and growth.

Rune Study Post #9: Wunjo

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Wunjo, the eighth and final rune of the first aett.

Wunjo translates to "joy," and connects to themes of harmony, happiness, joy in community and family, and hope.

Given the state of horror in the world at present, I am particularly happy to arrive at this rune: may its energy reach into the hearts of all those who are suffering deep and unimaginable sorrow, and transform the hate and power-centric mindsets of those perpetrating terrible acts against the innocent.
An Anglo Saxon rune poem* reads:

Joy is had by the one who knows 
few troubles, pains and sorrows,
and to him who himself has
power and blessedness,
and a good enough house.

Questions:

1) What other meanings do you attribute to Wunjo?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Wunjo has presented itself in your rune castings, how have you seen its energy manifested?

*translation from Runecaster's Handbook by Edred Thorsson

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Marseille and the Devil on April Fool's Day

Today is the first day of April, also known widely as April Fool's Day. Many years ago when I was a kid, I used to thoroughly enjoy playing tricks on people (to be honest, my antics weren't relegated to one day per year, but it's nice to have a day dedicated to trickery!). I remember once when I pretended to have a lengthy conversation with my friend on the telephone (back when landlines were a thing), discussing all sorts of outlandish topics much to my older sister's entertainment and surprise....until the phone actually rang and my ruse was up. My sister was certainly my preferred target (insert devil emoticon).

While I left pranks behind long ago, I ended up giving birth to a new generation of trickster: my daughter Lourdes. She so embodies the energy of "playful naughtiness" that we dubbed her the "Devil," and her favorite depiction in the Tarot is from the Deviant Moon by Patrick Valenza:
This Devil not only features her famous grin, but he is doing her hallmark prance as well. And though I didn't witness it myself, I'm pretty certain that this is how she looked this morning as she was creeping around the house setting up various traps for us to fall into!

This was slipped under my door this morning:
To be fair, last night Lourdes consulted me about the best way to create fake poo: peanut butter and Hershey's syrup, she asked? No, I said - use cocoa powder instead of syrup - less drippy. So I suppose in some way I'm complicit. And my cards seem to agree:
Claude Burdel 1751 Tarot de Marseille 
I recently delved into the world of Marseille (I'm just so completely rapturous about the beauty of these cards!) and am still figuring out how I want to approach reading them. Some people apply RWS meanings to the minor cards, others take a more cartomantic approach, and still others absorb the shapes, colors, and movement in the illustrations and allow that to inform their readings. The funny thing is, all reading styles seem to reach similar conclusions with this trio:

In RWS, the 6 of Wands is about success and recognition, and the 6 of Cups is about childhood, memory, reminiscing, innocent joy. So in that sense I see myself (as the Queen of Cups) remembering my own prankster days (6 of Cups), and supporting my daughter in her endeavors (also 6 of Cups), giving her helpful advice so that her work is a success (6 of Wands) and is appreciated by everyone (also 6 of Wands).

According to Yoav Ben Dov's Marseille meanings, the 6 of Wands represents an alliance of two people working toward perhaps different end-goals, but who share a common interest (very true), and the 6 of Cups not only also relates to a personal alliance, but more importantly "repetition between different generations in the family." Hm. Yep!

This morning I stumbled into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, and as I went to the sink to fill the carafe, I was showered in water from the sink sprayer, which had been rigged into the "on" position with rubber bands. I'm pretty sure I shrieked in surprise and with the sudden coldness seeping through my shirt. In that light, this arrangement of cards took on a very literal meaning: those six cups are dousing the Queen as she approaches them with her coffee pot, and the 6 of Wands now looks like a great big "X" warning me to beware.

So there you have it!