Friday, February 28, 2014

Deck Review: New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

I recently became aware of this deck (by Louis Martinie, Sallie Ann Glassman/Destiny Books) through a Facebook forum post that I read, and I was intrigued - I've considered some Orishas and Lucumi decks in the past, but I wasn't impressed with any I saw. This was a Voodoo deck, but there are many parallels between Voodoo and Santería, so I wanted to learn more. Upon doing some light investigation I found that the deck art was created by a Mambo (priestess) of New Orleans-style Voodoo, and she had in fact incorporated Santería into the deck! While many reviews I read were positive, I saw some potent criticisms as well.  Since I was so pulled in by this deck, I decided to find out for myself what it was all about….

This deck has 22 Majors and 56 Minors for a complete 78 card deck. The Majors embrace aspects of Voodoo that pair closely with traditionally understood meanings of each card. For example the Fool card is called the World Egg, and represents the beginning of creation, unformed energy full of promise. I adore this representation of Fool energy, and it works very well with its "zero" numbering. The Wheel of Fortune is called the "Market" and depicts exactly what you would imagine - an outdoor market of vendors meant to symbolize the ebb and flow of the resources on which our lives depend. A creature that looks a bit like Anubis stands in the center of the circle of tables, arms outstretched. The image is shown from almost a bird's-eye view, and the vendors are arranged in a circle, which maintains the sense of cyclical movement. One of my favorites is XV Courir le Mardi Gras. This card carries energy of Pan and the Wild Hunt, and depicts the Mardi Gras Run held in southwestern Louisiana on Fat Tuesday.

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

The Minors are separated into four suits, and three bear the names of different branches of Voodoo, while the fourth represents Santería - a neighboring religion stemming primarily from Cuba (whereas Caribbean Voodoo developed in Haiti). Rada is Air, Congo is Water, Petro is Fire, and Santería is Earth. For the three Voodoo branches, Kings are the "Houngans" (priests), Queens are "Mambos" (priestesses), Princes are called "la Place" (masters of ceremonies that serve the houngans and mambos), and Princesses are "Hounsi" (female ceremonial servers). For the suit of Santería, the King is "Santero" (initiated male), the Queen is "Santera"(initiated female), the Prince is "Oriaté" (priest in Lucumi prayers) and the Princess is "Yaguó" (initiate). Many cards carry meanings close to the traditional, though some are significantly different. For instance 1 Congo (Ace of Cups) is about the flow of pure emotion and happiness. On the other hand 9 Rada (9 of Swords) speaks of messengers between earth and spirit, and even can signify house moves.

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

Even for people who practice Santería or Voodoo, or are interested in African-diasporic religions and spiritual systems, this deck doesn't satisfy everyone's tastes. Some critics have denounced the inclusion of Santería in this deck (I however appreciate it). Yes, there are significant differences between Voodoo and Santería, however I don't feel it takes away from Voodoo, and it honors a closely-related spiritual system that has experienced a very similar history, creating what I consider to be a lovely complement. Other issues relate to some small but important differences in the presentation of certain lwa (also called "loa" - the spirits of Voodoo), or orishas (the important spirits/saints in Santería). For example, Eleggua in Santería is typically understood to be a small boy. In this deck the book calls it a small girl. There is no explanation for this change, however I don't feel the image is difficult to work with - if I think of Eleggua as a boy (and I do), the picture on the card definitely can be seen as a boy.  Another issue is the depiction of Damballah Wedo, from Voodoo. One of the cards in the deck shows Damballah Wedo as a red snake, which seems to have upset some people due to the traditional and sacred association with the color white. (There are other cards in the deck that show this deity as a white snake). I wrote to a practicing Mambo to inquire about this issue after learning that she uses this particular deck regularly. She told me that this deviance was in part an artistic interpretation, and in part was due to the way in which spirits appear to people in different ways. She said that Damballah Wedo might appear to me as a green snake, and to my friend as a purple snake. That made sense to me, and satisfied my curiosity.

Lukumí is my religion and that of my husband, our children, friends, and extended family both in the United States and in Cuba. While I love this deck, I wanted my husband's opinion as well. After looking through the deck, he's also given it his seal of approval. He saw the child on the Eleggua card as male (I didn't tell him about the book description!). His only hang-up was the fact that the Olofi card shows the image of a pregnant woman, when this manifestation of God-on-Earth is often seen as male (there are some practitioners that see Olofi as female). I read the book entry and it says that Olofi's creation-energy was combined with Earth energy, leading to the use of the symbol of the pregnant woman. It did not say that Olofi was female or male, or that the image itself was supposed to be Olofi. So no matter how you conceive of Olofi, there is room for interpretation in this card.

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

The artwork in this deck is beautiful, and looks to be perhaps color pencil or oil pastel, on excellent card stock. The energy reminds me somewhat of that of the Wildwood Tarot in that it carries a deep, shamanic feel that appeals to me and my spiritual worldview. In fact the only two decks I've worked with, to date, that have caused a tingling sensation in my crown chakra upon working with them have been these two (yes, cards are "just" ink on paper, but some decks reach into us more profoundly than others). The drawings are colorful, soft, flowing, textured and rich, and most cards maintain the right balance between simplicity and complexity of detail that help engage intuition.

So how does it read? Well, I've done one reading with it so far, and it was stunning. I found that I seemed to read almost exclusively using intuition, and that, in part, may be due to the different correspondences and energies of this deck. For instance, Yemayá was one of the cards. She is the orisha of the ocean and motherhood, and I know her as deeply connected to water, which is represented in the card image as well. But her suit, Santería, is connected to the earth element. I honestly didn't pay much attention to the number or element. Yemayá was the only thing that mattered, and she gave deep meaning to the reading I was doing.  Another card was the Hounsi of Congo (Page/Princess of Cups). The picture of a young person pouring water out of a vessel melded with the cards on either side, creating a sacred story. The traditional Page meaning provided insights, but the image itself and its connection with the others in the reading spoke loudest of all. The colors and images flowed together, and provided such depth of meaning - it was beautiful "conversation" of sorts.

This is a special deck for me, and one I look very forward to reading with, and further connecting with. For readers interested in or connected to shamanic practice, or African-diasporic spirituality, this deck is a valuable one to own and work with. As there are a few non-traditional elements to some of the depictions and representations, it would be beneficial for the reader to either already have an understanding of Voodoo and/or Santería, or be willing to study it in addition to careful review of the accompanying book (which is hefty and quite nice). There is great wisdom available here, just waiting to be tapped.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Favorite Lenormand Deck (so far!)

My very first Lenormand deck was the Gilded Reverie, by Ciro Marchetti, an early Christmas present from my husband. I loved it. And I still love it. Not only are the stylized images very clear and beautiful, the size of the cards is perfect. Many Lenormand decks tend to run a bit small because the largest common spread is the Grand Tableau (GT) which utilizes all 36 cards; if you have large cards, there are few large-enough work spaces aside from the floor in which to set them out (and the floor is a'ight but not ideal!). The Gilded Reverie card size is larger than most Lenormands, but still small enough to be workable in a GT. And I love cards produced by US Games - they are by far my favorite in terms of the quality of card stock.

I have two other Lenormand decks - soon to be four (I can't wait to receive the Vintage Lenormand by Kendra Hurteau very soon!). One is Caitlin Matthews' Enchanted Lenormand, and the other is the Blaue Eule, a very traditional deck. Both of these decks are pretty small - not much larger than a mini-Tarot deck I have - and in my case this is not always preferable for shuffling because I have hands that are a bit on the larger side of average!  I must admit I never use my Blaue Eule, and don't really like it very much. Despite its size, I really like the Enchanted Lenormand, and the card stock is really high quality - it's durable, thick, smooth, easy to shuffle - all the good stuff.

Enchanted Lenormand - Caitlin Matthews

So in a fight between Gilded Reverie and Enchanted Lenormand, which would win?

The Enchanted Lenormand gets the gold. One of my main complaints about the Gilded Reverie is that after some use the golden edges have started to split apart on some of the cards, forcing me to resort to super glue (and narrowly avoiding laminating to card to my skin in the process!) - what's up with that, US Games?? It's been really the biggest let-down with this deck, which is sad because its small carrying box is excellent and so portable. While the Enchanted comes in a large box, I'll simply have to dig up a little bag for it. Furthermore, I really enjoy the hand drawn artwork on the Enchanted deck. The Sun really leaps off the card, and the expression on its face is of pure joy.

Perhaps my favorite deck will change as I accumulate more, but for now, the Enchanted Lenormand gets two, un-Superglued thumbs up.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An Infant in the Palm of the Universe

(This was a hard post for me to write, and I hope it makes sense, and also apologize if anything appears sloppy! One note - while this topic is relevant to all divination, I am specifically speaking about my learning experiences with the Lenormand system in this post)

One thing I've been wondering about lately is….our ethics as readers in terms of telling the truth of what we see, no matter what. Who are we to withhold information? This is sticky territory - what if I think I see something, but I'm not absolutely positive, so I don't act on it? What if I'm wrong? 

But what if I'm right? 

Yesterday on one of the Lenormand boards, a deck creator was giving away a free deck. In order to join the competition, you had to choose one out of the 36 cards. Once 36 people were signed up, the creator would randomly pick a card, and the person connected to that card would win. I chose Tree. I had a feeling I wasn't going to win. I decided to do a 3 card Lenormand draw on the very superficial question: "Will I win the deck?" I drew: Cross - Mice - Tree.  It couldn't have been clearer. NO WAY, NOT GONNA HAPPEN! Actually it was SO clear that I burst out laughing.  So then I decided to draw a card asking which would be the winner. I drew the Lily, and left it at that. An hour or so later I dropped back in to the forum and the winner had been chosen. And guess what? It was the LILY!!! I could not get over it. I was having all sorts of chills and tingles, I was so excited. Seriously? Out of 36 cards, my deck told me exactly who the winner would be. I still can't believe it, kind of. I feel confident in the quality and accuracy of my readings, but something about the odds, or the predictive nature of this experience really shocked me. I really didn't believe it would be the Lily. And it was.

So then I started thinking about predictions, and about the future. We often say, as readers, that the "future is set in sand." It can be tricky to accurately see what's to come because there are often so many factors that influence what will happen, and even if we foresee a particular event, there's always a chance it may not come to pass. And I do believe that. Most of our life situations are far more complicated than "which card will win the deck?" Nevertheless, I started to wonder just how much of the future is fairly pre-determined, and how much is open to being manipulated or altered.  I believe in Free Will, and I also believe that some things aren't meant to be known (when this happens I often pull the High Priestess, or even sometimes the Wheel of Fortune). 

Now onto something more serious. I did a Lenormand GT for a family member around Christmas time, a sort of "year ahead" kind of predictive outlook. I saw his mother becoming very ill, I saw his sister perhaps knowing of the illness but not being forthcoming with the information, and I saw my loved one taking a sudden trip home due to this issue. I saw a pretty dire set of circumstances. I didn't say anything about it because…what if I was wrong? I can't pass on this kind of news! I said nothing to him, though I did mention it to my mother at the time, in confidence.

Time passed and I became busy with other things. A reader friend of mine is studying a new divination method using cards and just last night offered to read for me for practice. I happily obliged, and asked her some questions about work. When she finished she sent me the results and said "Olivia, I hate to say this, but I didn't see a lot about work - I saw that someone in your family is going through a hard time, and there may be an serious illness coming up really soon." I sighed, and told her about the GT, though as of yesterday there were no signs of any developments in this regard. I decided that today I would do some investigating, send an email to my family member's sister to check things out. I never had the chance. My dear loved one sent me a message this afternoon informing me that his sister just called to report that his mother is ill and he is planning a sudden trip home. 

What control do we have, or should we have, as readers, regarding the information we see? Maybe I could have been wrong, maybe my reader friend could have been wrong. But we weren't. What if I had told my loved one of this possibility at Christmas time? He might have been able to prepare, even financially, for this turn of events. But what if I had been wrong? What if I had told him and caused undue worry and concern? Do I have a responsibility to say what I see, even if I fear I might be wrong? Or is that I'm afraid I might be right? Who am I to see something and choose not to report it? I am really just an infant in the palm of the universe. 

There are a lot of questions I'm pondering now, and I don't have answers for any of them. Maybe we *could* have been wrong, but we were not wrong. We sometimes doubt ourselves - doubt our ability, doubt our interpretations, doubt the permanency of the messages we see when high-stakes issues are on the table. What is our responsibility? 

This is something I'll be turning over and over in the days to come.

Soul Essence

I was having a 6 of Cups moment…. remembering back to how I experienced life as a kid, how I experienced myself.  I was thinking about how we change as we grow older, as we experience life in all its pain and ecstasy, and how still, at our very center, there's a critical element that never changes, our soul essence. 

For many years I struggled with who and what I would be when I grew up. I studied Anthropology during my first stint at university because it was the only major that appealed to me… the culture, language, humanity, spirituality. I'm glad for my degree but even Anthropology wasn't entirely "it." I went to graduate school for linguistics…super interesting, and yet I still felt lost. I remember walking with Jorge (my husband) one afternoon a few years ago, talking about this frustration, this sense that I still (after two college degrees and the development of a fine teaching career) felt like I couldn't pin my finger on what I was really supposed to be doing. So many people dive head first into their lives and seem to know just what to do. I envied those people who found an educational and career path that deeply fulfilled them. 

As a kid I always lived with one foot in the spirit world, and the other on the earth. What do you do with that? I told Jorge, "You know, what I really feel is that if we lived hundreds of years ago, we'd be those people serving as herbalists or shamanic practitioners. But we don't live in that world. We live in a different place where we have to choose from other paths that don't fit us quite right." This was a time when I had no idea that people read Tarot for a living, or even practiced shamanism as part of their life's work. I really understood it to be a closed door. That didn't stop me from dabbling in divination, dream interpretation, or from being keenly aware of the beauty of intuitive messages, but I certainly didn't have a focus for any of that exploration.

I read Siddhartha (Herman Hesse) in college and felt so deeply connected to his story, in terms of the way in which he sort of strayed from his path (I'm not sure "stray" is the right word) and delved deeply into the material world for long years before stumbling back toward his purpose. I always hoped that I, too, would figure out what the hell I was supposed to really be doing. I set my deep connection to spirituality aside for years as I pursued my Master's degree, expanded my family, developed my career. Only within the last year have I been pulled back, through an interesting series of events, and I've been feeling grateful for that. I've felt happier than I have in years, and I feel I'm much more closely aligned to my true path now than I ever have before… at least since I was very young. I don't regret anything - working in the material world helps us grow roots, get our hands dirty, and I think being grounded is essential - a prerequisite of sorts - to making spiritual progress. Nothing is more grounding than having kids! I had to "leave the path" for a while in order to end up where I am now. And I'm grateful for that, too.

So I was sitting and playing with my cards the other day, pondering all of this, and I decided to lay out some cards around "my soul essence." I pulled the King of Cups, the 4 of Cups reversed, and the King of Wands reversed, with the Knight of Cups as the "shadow" card (from the bottom of the deck). Wow, a lot of court cards!! 

Golden Tarot - Kat Black
US Games

The Knight felt to me like spiritual pursuit, and I suppose that at my core that is the path I've always been walking. Learning, growing, expanding, falling off the horse a few times, getting back on, making mistakes, struggling, developing.

The King of Cups is master of emotions, a healer, wise, patient, calm and gentle, sensitive but grounded. A couple of months ago my mom bought me a clay tile with a heron on it in honor of the King of Vessels from the Wildwood Tarot, to whom she seems to feel I'm connected. I was really happy about the gift, and I love the Heron and its symbolism, but I remember wondering why she thought I was particularly connected to that energy. Then I thought back and remembered a friend reading for me back in the autumn, and pulling the King of Cups for me, which at the time I was intrigued by, because I don't automatically associate that card with myself. So seeing this King, all of that came flooding into my mind. I'd love to think of myself this way, though usually I think of myself as the Hermit - less outwardly engaged than a King tends to be. But healing has always been a deep passion of mine, and I do feel I'm pretty even-keeled emotionally. I love to support everyone's endeavors, hear all opinions and perspectives, though I also am clear when I feel something is off-balance and needs to be addressed. And in some way I'm not quite as nurturing as a Queen (I've always felt like this was a bad thing, like a weak point, but maybe it's just how I function??). 

The King of Wands was interesting to see, and this King has also come up for me before (what's with all the King energy??). It's reversed and that makes sense to me, because fire is not my cup of tea. In fact I'm currently working on exploring this energy, developing my leadership abilities, my inner fire, my self-confidence, and the ability to be outspokenly "me."  I'm not outspoken, usually. I'm pretty quiet in general, and I'm probably over-sensitive to stepping on toes, or not being liked. I'm learning that in order to develop inner balance I need to be okay with not pleasing everyone. It's an impossible task anyway! 

The combination of these two kings is interesting in that in a sense it's uniting polar opposites, water and fire. For the past year I've received a lot of 2 Cups/Lovers....uniting the two within me, balancing passive energy with active. Passivity is my comfort zone. The King of Wands is also about career and spirituality, which is interesting because I'm in the process of shifting my career from teaching to divination, and it's very much underdeveloped, raw energy at this point. The reversal is very appropriate.

So then the 4 of Cups serves a bridge from passive energy to active energy. When I saw this card I thought "late bloomer." It touches on my tendency to be emotionally separate/quiet/withdrawn in terms of expressiveness, and starting to learn to reach out. One of Mary Greer's meanings for the 4 of Cups reversed is "the practice of divination." How fitting!  I'm moving from passive Cups energy to active Wands energy, engaging the world through the practice of divination. It's a way of tapping into my core nature and allowing it to become the focus of my life rather than settling for it always being on the back burner. 

Personal readings like this can be deeply healing and affirming. This reading will be tucked away somewhere easily accessible so that when I'm having moments of frustration or self-doubt I can pull it out and remind myself that I'm doing the right thing.

So what's your soul essence? How are you utilizing it in your active, daily life? Do you feel you are paying enough attention to who you truly are? How can you honor yourself more intentionally? If you choose to read on the topic of your soul essence, I'd love to hear what you get, and how it touches you!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Wheel of Fortune (Upright) Ain't Always Good Luck

So often I see people treat the Wheel of Fortune as a "good luck" card, when upright. This is opposed to the reversal, which tends to indicate that things are out of control, or flowing forward in a negative manner.

The thing is that "negative" is subjective. While I do feel that reversed the Wheel suggests the possibility for harmful, or truly challenging, elements to crop up in a particular situation, I tend to see the Wheel of Fortune as a rather neutral card when upright - not necessarily always indicative of great things to come. Not to say that a great upswing is not "in the cards" - it may be. But just maybe you'll be disappointed by the outcome of the upright Wheel, and that doesn't mean that the resulting circumstance is negative.

Halloween Tarot/US Games
Karin Lee, Kipling Scott

The Wheel is about ups and downs, and more than that, it's about the unpredictability of life. Perhaps you don't get what you want after all. But is that a bad thing? Maybe not! Perhaps life takes you off in some other direction you never imagined, and at first it feels foreign and confusing, but in the end it brings you to a fruitful place for your development. Perhaps the fellow you're dating suddenly disappears off the face of the earth. Maybe that's not the direction you were hoping for, but it was "right" for him, and as a result is better for you (who wants to be in a relationship with someone who's not equally invested?). Perhaps the Wheel simply means that things will be hard to pin down, and that you should expect the unexpected.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cards I Don't Love to See in Love Readings (Part 2)

Here we go again! In my last post I discussed the Hierophant energy in love readings, and how it definitely makes me cautious. Today I thought I'd talk about the trusty 3 of Pentacles! What's wrong with this card, you ask? Nothing, really, it's a perfectly nice card…. in a career reading this is a great sign of project expansion, teamwork, appreciation, and indicates that the groundwork for a plan has been successfully lain - now it's time to keep on building!  When applied to a love situation, it would seem that a similar vibe would be true: love requires the focus and attention of the couple; the foundation of the relationship is set, and it's time to move forward toward mutual goals - or hey - maybe the couple even works together!

DruidCraft Tarot
Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm
Will Worthington

Yeah….but no. I'm not hating on this card, or denying the fact that in some cases it can refer to positive and uplifting teamwork in a relationship. I'm simply saying that in many cases I've experienced the 3 of Pentacles as a gentle warning that there's a third "something" involved in the relationship. This doesn't necessarily have to represent a third person, but it does represent some issue that puts pressure on the development of the couple. This could be an issue of jealousy, important responsibilities that could detract from time spent together, or it could simply mean that how well a couple's puzzle pieces fit together has yet to be determined. Perhaps one person is very interested in taking things to the next level, while the other is still trying to keep things a little more "open" for the time being. So while it's not at all a "bad" card, it always makes me hesitate and take a very careful look at the message that the rest of the reading is giving off. It usually indicates the need for increased dialogue about what each person wants from the union.

A final note: I work with reversals, and in these "Cards I Don't Love to See" posts I am referring to upright cards. I will have to write a separate post about the intricacies of those feisty reversals-vs.-uprights in the future :)

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cards I Don't Love to See in Love Readings (Part 1)

I've had a higher-than-usual number of romance readings in the past week, and it's had me thinking about lovely, and not-so-lovely cards for love. There are a lot of cards in a Tarot deck, and all offer a range of challenging-to-pleasant meanings (some admittedly much more/less pleasant than others!). There are cards that tend to provoke visceral, negative reactions in us at first sight - the Tower, 10 of Swords, 3 of Swords, to name a few. And then there are some cards that seem fairly positive at first glance, but which I often find hold difficult energy when they pop up in a love reading. There are several cards that fall into this category, but in this post I'm only going to cover one: the Hierophant.

The Hierophant

Golden Tarot/Kat Black
US Games

This is a card that many associate with "marriage," and it's fair to say that that can be one of its meanings. This is a card I feel represents teaching and learning, structured beliefs, grounded and ancestral spirituality, and group-related activity. This might seem promising as an outcome card in a love reading where the querent wants to know if a relationship will reconcile, or develop into something significant, and in certain cases it may well suggest such a positive possibility. However in most cases I've found the Hierophant to be something a bit less promising. In some instances it has shown up as a rather rigid person who is so focused on traditional roles and/or community pressure that he/she either proves to be a difficult partner, or simply isn't willing to pursue a deeper relationship with the querent. In other cases it's appeared in readings where the querent was involved, or considering involvement, with a married person. In this context it usually indicated that the married-person-in-question would remain loyal to his/her marriage when all was said and done, leading to the demise of the querent's relationship. So while it might be tempting to see the Hierophant and think "marriage, making it official," etc., it pays to be very careful with this card, and to take into very close account the other cards in the spread, and the overall feel that the reading is giving off. be continued…!

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Valentine's Self-Love Spread

My dear blogger friend Ellen brought this spread to my attention when she tried it out herself a couple of days ago (you can see her reading here). It was created by the Daily Tarot Girl (and you can find the original on her blog by clicking here!), and is a beautiful layout for improving self-awareness, in this case specifically in terms of self-love, and the relationship we have with ourselves.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and here I am working on my second post in two days (talk about coming back after a brief dry spell!). I had some time to sit down and work with this last night, choosing my Mythic Tarot for the occasion.

Card 1: Relationship to self (what is your relationship with yourself like?)
Card 2: Admirable qualities (parts of yourself that are easy to love)
Card 3: Disowned self (your shadow aspects, parts that need more love and acceptance)
Card 4: Release (judgements and expectations that you need to release in order to be more loving to yourself)
Card 5: More love (something loving and nurturing that you can do for yourself right now)

Mythic Tarot
Juliet Sharman-Burke, Tricia Newell, Liz Greene
Card 1: Relationship to self - 3 of Cups

Well, this is a beautiful card, not only for the meaning of love, celebration and friendship, but because of the image. It's interesting because this looks a lot like my family! I see myself standing on the stone with my husband next to me and my three children below, each holding a cup. And the truth is that they are really my center, and fill me up to the brim with love. But this card is about relationship to self, so how does it all fit? I love the implication that I enjoy myself, because I'd say that's pretty accurate. I have fun, I laugh at things that others may not, and I don't mind laughing alone (in fact sometimes I rather prefer it!!). I like myself pretty well, I suppose! It's the only nighttime card in this spread and it takes center stage. The ocean lies in the background with the moon shining bright above. I see connections to exploration of my intuitive and creative elements, which make up an important part of who I am. What I like about this image is that all of those things are present - my four loves, the Moon of mystery, inspiration, and dreamtime, the ocean of intuition and emotion...yet I haven't lost myself to any of it. They're all part of me, and I of them, and yet I'm still very much me.

Card 2: Admirable qualities - 4 of Swords

It's funny because I've really come to love this card, and I've posted recently about the lovely version from the Deviant Moon Tarot (P. Valenza). There is such a soothing, healing, quiet element to the 4 of Swords, a peace that I adore. I suppose it's true that I'm pretty even-keeled, and slow to react. I like how this lady sits in meditation in the desert with her swords laid out before her creating a circle form. There's a completeness of thought suggested here - she is working through her ideas and plans, and won't leave her spot until she's finished.  My step-dad was always "cool, calm and collected," even when angry, and I always appreciated that about him because it made it easier to communicate difficult things. I can see some of those same qualities in myself, so I hope that my family feels the same way about me. In terms of how I see myself, I do think that one of my stronger traits is that I think carefully about an issue before I give my opinion or take a stance, because I want to be sure of how I feel, and want to be as reasonable as possible in each situation, and I suppose I do value that about myself.

Card 3: Disowned self - 4 of Pentacles

Interesting that these two 4s mirror each other, north and south. The 4s in the minors, to me, are about retreat. While the 4 of Swords is about mental/intellectual retreat that also allows time for emotional healing, the 4 of Pentacles is about material retreat (in the case of budgeting, for instance), or even oftentimes about protection of our self-worth. We retreat in order to avoid hurting our self-esteem or vulnerability. In this way I definitely see the power of the 4 of Pentacles for myself. If you look at the card, you see a man holding tight to his pentacles while looking at another person toiling away. This immediately brings to mind how private I am, and how much I avoid sharing my thoughts and feelings with others. In fact this blog, and my involvement on Facebook forums, has been a great lesson and challenge for me because on some level I fear putting myself out into the world, and hearing nothing but the crickets chirping (though I've been pushing myself in this regard over the past month or two). This card is all about risk and reward. If fear keeps me from sharing with others, I'll be safe, but in certain areas I also won't grow, expand, make connections with others, or develop a deeper fortitude. My private-ness isn't entirely a "shadow" - I simply function that way. My mother and now my husband always push me to share my thoughts because I often don't realize how much I'm thinking, worrying, etc., within my own being… and once I realize that I'm doing that, I can share, and it's amazing how alleviating it can be. So on a larger scale, I do that with communities. I feel an affinity for the Hermit card for a reason. I think I'm often something of a closed book, and in some ways I enjoy that quite a bit. But in other ways I recognize that I need to risk "saying the wrong thing," "being misunderstood," "having no one pay you any mind" in order to be part of something bigger - a community that I often shy away from. In the process of developing this, however, I need to be kind to myself - not beat myself up about the ups and downs that are inherent in opening myself to others.

Card 4: Release - 8 of Wands reversed

Ugh, yes. This card makes want to yell at myself: "Sh*& takes time!! Relax!" When I have an idea or a project I am excited about, I want it to manifest RIGHT NOW. I do everything I can to make it happen, and can start to question myself if I don't see the quick progress that I hope for. There is a fundamental error in this behavior….because very few good things happen quickly. Most things that are worthwhile take time and paced energy to develop and grow before seeing the fruits (thinking of the 7 of Pentacles here). I recognize that by flitting from one idea to the next without ever fully developing any one thing is okay, but in the end doesn't provide the deep satisfaction of creating a "masterpiece." So I need to embrace the slow process, enjoy the journey, and take the pressure off myself to hurry hurry hurry.

Card 5: More love - Page of Wands

Oooo I love this card. I love how the boy is riding a goat (because I'm a Capricorn), and looks like he's about to leap right into the 3 of Cups to add a spark of fire to the calm, cool placidity of the night sea. The Page of Wands is the card that represents my role as a card reader, the messenger, the go-between, and I love seeing it here. In a sense I feel it's telling me to trust myself, to remember and trust that I'm good at what I do, and to enjoy the fact that the sun is still rising on my journey - there is so much more to explore, learn, develop and do. At the same time I see the sun setting, and yet the flame is bright, and I don't have be afraid of losing my way. The message is "have fun with this - don't take things so seriously…you're guiding and being guided, always." I'll carry this with me and meditate on it.

So I wanted to ask for some additional advice about how to work through that 4 of Pentacles, and so I pulled a card from my Medicine Cards and selected the Salmon:

Medicine Cards - Jamie Sams/David Carson
Salmon is about developing inner-wisdom through the understanding that we learn not just from the good experiences we have, but from the difficult and challenging ones as well (and perhaps even more). It's about balance - honoring my own intuition, but also hearing others' ideas and opinions. It's about seeing the value presented by hard times, rather than writing them off. Page 234 in the book says, "Salmon teaches you to see every bend in the river as a new adventure, with a lesson you need to learn in order to grow. That knowledge becomes authentic wisdom through applying these truths to your life." Inhale, exhale. Yes, that is beautiful advice that addresses the energy of the 4 of Pentacles with deep acuity. Risk-taking brings challenges but also the beauty of connection and even at times of affirmation. Each of these has worth, and offers a lesson I can integrate and grow from.

Visit First Earth Tarot's website!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lovers and 2 of Cups: Valentine's Day

I've been busy this past week, and so sleepy, that I haven't felt up to making time for a blog post, and I'm well overdue. Ironically, the day I feel I have some time to set aside for this is Valentine's Day, where so many people are running around town frenetically trying to find last-minute gifts for loved ones. I should know. On my way to work this morning I stopped off at the local superstore (my least favorite place in the world to go) in order to pick up some chocolate for the kids for when they get home from school. As I was perusing the long aisles of heart-shaped boxes, a man rushed by me, his hands full of pink baskets, flowers, cards, and candy. He said to me "I've been working all week from 9am-Midnight and haven't had time to go shopping, so once again I'm here at the last minute!" He told me he worked at a restaurant and they'd been booked solid the entire week for Valentine's dinners. I reassured him that the fact that he'd made time to work this in to his busy schedule should count for something.  He asked if I'd seen the over-sized stuffed bears, and I said no, and he rushed away into the vacuous space of the commercial wonderland.

People harp on Valentine's Day for being "too fabricated," or structured to empty people's pockets of hard-earned cash. I don't feel that way, but then I tend to take from each holiday what works for me, and leave the rest….also happen to adore boxed chocolate, so it works out okay for me! In fact to be honest I don't mind buying up my goodies on the day after, when everything is marked down. Score!

So, love. Yesterday I had the fortune to meet with a local reader-friend for a 3-hour session of playing with Tarot and Lenormand, and two cards that kept popping up in our readings were the 2 of Cups and the Lovers - so fitting for the occasion, don't you think? These are two cards that have shown up a lot in my personal readings over the past year, a combination of redirecting my path towards something I love, something that feeds my soul, and which as a result is bringing my being back into alignment. But I want to put aside these meanings about "choice," "alignment," etc., because today is Love Day and I want to talk about how these cards represent our most sacred feeling. For this purpose I'm using two images from the Anna K Tarot, which I do NOT own, but which my reader friend does and used for me yesterday. (Very fitting, too, as my blogging friend Ellen used this deck for a post yesterday, and every time she does so, it makes me think I should add it to my collection!).

I was stuck by these two cards yesterday, in this particular deck, because of how the artist seems to have connected them:

Anna K Tarot - Llewellyn Publishing

The 2 of Cups shows a young couple in what could be the throes of early love, or a developing and exciting romance. They are demurely engaged, giving the impression that they're really trying to find some privacy so they can feel free to express their feelings for each other away from prying eyes. The flowers are in bloom behind them, a sign of happiness and perhaps the expansion of love they may soon experience.  Some people consider the 2 of Cups a "soul mates" card, and I don't necessarily see it that way. As a 2, this card is about new love, flirtation, mutual attraction, which may or may not become something deep and long-lasting.

Anna K Tarot - Llewellyn Publishing

Then we have the Lovers, and this would indeed be a card I'd consider to be more indicative of a deep connection that moves past flirtation and fleeting passion and onto something more meaningful and significant. In this image we see what appears to be the same couple from the 2 of Cups, yet now they've aged quite a bit. They're no longer the young lovers trying to hide behind a curtain for privacy. They sit closely together holding hands, enjoying each other's company, content and secure in the loving friendship that has developed after many long years of being together, learning about and from each other, forging the slow and profound bond of loving coupledom. The flowers have expanded and filled out along with their relationship.

Now back to the definitions I wanted to avoid….. most relationships start with the 2 of Cups, and it takes the careful cultivation, flexibility, open mind, dedication, and above all the right pairing of two people to reach and then maintain the Lovers relationship. It ain't easy! Not all Lovers relationships work out, and their demise can be deeply painful. Those that do last require an even flow of those attributes, an alignment of core values, a sprinkling of grace…. and above all, a choice. A choice to stick it out, work through the problems, grow from the pain, and as a result come to care more deeply for each other than either partner might have imagined was possible.

So here is to love in all its messy glory - all love: 2 of Cups and Lovers, 10 of Cups and 6 of Cups, the Sun, Ace of Cups, and even the 3 of Cups of joyful friendships. Finally, a special shout out to the 3 of Swords, the bittersweet agony that is at times a consequence of having had the courage to be open to the blessing of giving and receiving love.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Visit First Earth Tarot's website!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Review of HazelMoon's Hawaiian Tarot…and a Reading!

Artist Katalin Csikos has created a deck called HazelMoon's Hawaiian Tarot, a labor of true love and dedication based on her deep connection to the Hawaiian islands, their culture and legacy. She recently offered the deck to readers on a Facebook site for free, and I signed up - how am I going to say no to a free deck?? It arrived in two days, beautifully packaged, with a well-bound book and a box of 78 cards.

The cards are sturdy, and remind me of the finish of the Mary-El Tarot - a tiny bit sticky in their shiny gloss, but fine to work with, all the same. The backs are not technically reversible as they feature a sepia-ish photo of a palm tree, but it was subtle enough not to be an issue for me (which is important to mention, as I use reversals and tend to prefer reversible backs!). In fact I love the backs - they are a cream-and-brown that reminds me of cocoa butter and is rather soothing!

The artwork is very much what I would consider "naive art," aka folk art, in style. This is not "fine art", it's not a feat of advanced technical skills. It's the product of true love, and the beauty lies in its rough edges and imperfections. It feels like a love-letter to the Hawaiian islands.  The Minors are mostly pips in that the 8 of Cups shows eight cups in a row in font of a lush landscape, but the colors are rich. I thought at first that the relatively small paintings and the pips might make for a challenging intuitive read, but that proved to be an erroneous assumption. I did a reading last night for myself using this deck and fell in love! You really never know how much you like a deck until you read with it, and this was just another example of that…..

I made up a spur-of-the-moment spread: My Strength - My Lesson - My Advice
I decided to do this because I feel like I have a lot of positive things happening in my life right now, but along with it there are always challenges, and I wanted some insights into all this lovely chaos.

I pulled the Boy of Lava Stones, the Moon, and the King of Lava Stones:

HazelMoon's Hawaiian Tarot
Katalin Csikos
I was really stunned by how beautifully the imagery flowed, the symmetry, the symbolism, and it really was a very intuitive read after all. Let me discuss a bit of what struck me:

Boy of Lava Stones (My Strength): This is about opportunity that remains vibrant even in the dark of night when the moon of mystery and uncertainty shines above. It's interesting that my Lesson is also the Moon, and look how the palm branches shield me from it - it's there, it's present, it's an important part of the environment, but it's not overwhelming or overpowering the scene. This card represents opportunity that can be harnessed and developed and nurtured and grown. The bird reminds me of the heron (thought I am pretty sure it's not supposed to be one), bridging water and earth, intuition and practicality, which is interesting because in this reading water (the Moon) bridges two earth cards. The heron automatically connects me to the King of Vessels in the Wildwood Tarot, which simultaneously brings aspects of the Mirror - reflection, self-analysis, sacrifice, and connection to purpose and past lives. I know, it's a lot, but that's what happens… images create layers of meaning that make for a deeply rich reading, and that's what this deck has sparked for me.

Moon (My Lesson): This card is about not letting worry and fear own me; instead using it to fuel my creative energy. It's about mastering my intuition and opening myself up to the depths of my soul and my spirit connection to the universe. I think it's interesting that there are lava stones on the sand by this water, which reminds me that I can "put feet" under my intuition. Fear and illusion are often associated with the Moon, but I also see that fear can stem from misunderstanding our own intuitive power, and that's interesting because I've been in the process lately of learning not to shy away from my inner voice, but to trust in it, and embrace it, and dive deeply into it, to bathe myself in it. The Lava Stones are a way for me to then ground my intuition in the world (and I think a good example of how that is done is through card readings, incidentally!).

King of Lava Stones (My Advice): I appreciate the earthiness of this card, and I myself am an earth sign, so it feels fitting. And yet the image brings so clearly to me the image, once again, of the King of Vessels/Heron (perhaps because both images show a figure poised upright in water). This King stands like the Heron in water, the ocean, and the brightness of the daylight brings the idea that the moon (my Lesson) reflects the light of sun, and that difficulties and challenges are only temporary. This is a King of earth and water-  he can harness the fluid energy and give it shape. This reminds me of the need to acknowledge that power in myself and tap into that ability to manifest what is needed in my life. It's an optimistic card - it's about being ready and prepared to do what needs to be done, that through practicality, steadfastness, patience, and commitment to my Strength, I can be master of my material environment.

Whew! It was a beautiful and really intense reading, and endeared the Hawaiian Tarot to my heart due to how strongly it engaged my intuition and how profoundly it spoke to me. I look forward to using it more!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Taroscopes for February 2014

So this is a little bit late due to the madness of the weekend, but here are the February Taroscopes, as promised! I've used my new Golden Tarot (Kat Black) which I received on Saturday and am enjoying immensely (it's so lovely!).

Golden Tarot - Kat Black
US Games

Capricorn - 10 of Cups: Enjoy your family this month! Play games, plan some outings, or just sit back and watch some good movies over popcorn and hot chocolate. Your loved ones should be your primary focus this month, and Valentine's Day will probably glow with joy.

Aquarius - 4 of Coins: Budget, yes, financial planning is always helpful. Just don't forget to enjoy yourself a tiny bit this month in order to off-set all your planning. Open yourself up, and treat yourself to something special. Who cares if you're single? Make V-Day work for you!

Pisces - Queen of Cups: Love and be loved this month! Whatever support and encouragement you give to others is bound to come back to you three-fold.

Aries - King of Wands: Try not to get ahead of yourself this month - deep breaths! If you're finding it a challenge to get people to follow your lead, or things just aren't feeling up to snuff, simply take a moment to calm your mind and put things into perspective.

Taurus - Knight of Wands: A feisty card for you this month! Your creative energies will be flowing and will usher you into a period of faster-paced movement - you should get some things accomplished!

Gemini - 7 of Cups: So many options….this month try to narrow down your choices and make a decision! You can't act until you know which direction you're heading in, and this month the bubble just may *pop* leading you to some fresh clarity.

Cancer - 8 of Swords: You're only as limited as you think you are. Don't let yourself be hemmed in by self-imposed barriers this month - if you really want it, you can find a way to make it happen.

Leo - 3 of Coins: You may not be feeling up to working with others this month. You like your independence, but lately you've been playing well as a team member, which is great. However sometimes you just want to pull out and do things your own way, and February might just be that kind of month for you. Take some time to rehash your long-term goals.

Virgo - Moon: The great unknown looms about you, and can leave you feeling a bit uncertain about what your best options lie. If you feel frustrated or confused, tap into your dreams and intuition and use your own inner wisdom and creative flow to help guide you.

Libra - 6 of Cups: Trust that where you are now is where you're meant to be, and don't dwell on "what could have been" this month, even if you're tempted. Enjoy Valentine's Day even if you end up flying solo on the couch with your favorite box of chocolates and a glass of amazing red wine.

Scorpio - 10 of Coins: Don't make any rash decisions this month! If your tax return isn't what you'd hoped for, yes, that sucks, but readjust your perspective and see if there's another way to approach your goals. Reign it in this month, and be creative with what you have.

Sagittarius - Page of Wands: You're fiery and sometimes when your ideas don't charge forth with purpose and ease you can feel that flame dim. If you're having doubts about how to take your project to the next level, recalibrate your plans, tap into your abundant creativity, and let it guide you on!

Have a wonderful February, and make the most of your Valentine's Day!!! Peace!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII Prediction

Yeah… I don't follow sports and didn't even know who was playing until I looked it up on the internet today, but I thought I'd join the throngs of diviners who are making "for fun" predictions about the outcome of this big match today!

So apparently the majority seem to be showing the Broncos as the favored team, and I assumed that when I pulled my own cards I'd see the same result. But no…. At first I pulled three cards for each team:


Queen of Coins reversed - 4 Swords reversed - Empress reversed

Yikes. That didn't look promising. In particular I see a lack of communication on the team, and things not coming together the way they'd planned. Their "bottom of the deck" card was Judgement which is a pretty intense card that could help them, however.

Sea Hawks

High Priestess - Emperor - 4 Swords reversed

So the 4 Swords made another appearance - very interesting!!! All the same, the other two cards are upright Trumps, and the Emperor at the center of it all shows strong leadership and organization, probably due to the coach and/or an important player (MVP). The High Priestess gives the feeling that there's an unknown element that will play to their favor. Their "bottom of the deck" card was the Wheel of Fortune, which is a pretty favorable card for them to receive!

Okay so I was feeling like the Sea Hawks had the advantage, but still wasn't willing to own it in public, especially with the Big Guns in Tarot coming out with readings favoring the Broncos.  So I decided to pull two more cards - one to gauge the Broncos' likelihood of winning, and the other to determine that of the Sea Hawks:

Broncos: 9 of Coins reversed
Sea Hawks: Queen of Coins

Golden Tarot - Kat Black
US Games

Alright so that did it for me. I am officially announcing that I feel the Sea Hawks will win this big game (just look at that Queen - doesn't she just *know* she's got it in the bag??)

Now I'll just sit tight and eat some potato chips and onion dip while awaiting the final score! :)

Update: the Sea Hawks crushed the Broncos.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Imbolc Blog Hop 2014 - Tarot Healing and Creativity

Previous - Master - Next

Welcome to the Imbolc 2014 Blog Hop! To access the blog of Arwen Lynch, click on "Previous," and to move on to Shauna Aura Knight, click on "Next." If at any point you'd like to see a full participant list, click on "Master"!

Our theme for this hop is "Tarot, Healing and Creativity," per our wondrous wrangler Christiana Gaudet from Tarot Trends. The title of my blog is "Tarot Healing", rather than "Tarot, Healing…" I made this subtle edit to highlight even more intentionally the healing benefits accessible through use of tools of divination.

First I thought I'd start off by talking about some Tarot cards that come to my mind most immediately when I think of "healing," and then I'll end with a short spread I put together with this theme of "healing through divination" in mind….

Four cards that speak of healing to me:

7 Stones, Wildwood Tarot

One aspect of the 7 of Pentacles relates to the benefits of taking time out to assess where you've come from and where you're headed.  This version from the Wildwood Tarot speaks of this brief "time out", and adds a healing twist. When I see this card it reminds me of the dangers of becoming so absorbed with your work that you forget to replenish your energies, and serves as a reminder of your true intent and purpose.

Wildwood Tarot
Matthews/Ryan/Worthington - Sterling Ethos

4 Swords, Deviant Moon Tarot

I like the 4 of Swords in general, but the depiction in the Deviant Moon is by far my favorite of all time. It speaks of burying yourself in the cool, dark, nurturing soil of the earth, letting that healing force support your rest and recuperation, giving you much needed time to realign yourself and re-assess your path ahead.

Deviant Moon Tarot
Patrick Valenza - US Games

Star, Vision Quest Tarot

I suppose this card's healing properties go without saying: pure faith, optimism, love, flowing energy and the knowledge that we're not alone, after all - we are all being guided. I like the inclusion of the Heron/Egret in this card, which brings to mind the idea of identifying our inner truths, and trusting that we are being led unerringly to where we need to be.

Vision Quest Tarot
Winter/Dose - US Games

Rebirth/Great Bear/Judgement

Really, there is nothing more healing than acknowledging and accepting your calling, finding the ability to be your true self, to give yourself the permission to be who you are meant to be, and to find courage to fulfill your purpose, whatever that happens to be.

DruidCraft Tarot
Carr-Gomm/Worthington - St. Martin's Press

3 Sisters Healing Spread

This is a spread I planned out in my sleep several weeks ago, and titled when I was awake (I am guessing I'm not the only person that this happens to??). When I think of the 3 Sisters I usually think of "corn, beans and squash." And some cultures believe the Sun to be male energy (though some, like in Norse mythology, see the Sun as female). For some reason that's the title that occurred to me, so I'm going with it!

Moon: What we must acknowledge in order to allow for healing to commence

Sun: The power/strength we draw from to help illuminate our shadow; the positive force behind our healing journey

Star: What guides us forward, inspires us onward, encourages our healing process over the long-term

Peace out, Happy Taroting, and Creative Healing to all!

Previous - Master - Next

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