Sunday, November 30, 2014

Focus and Release: Enochian Tarot

There's a lot going on in my life down here in la Florida. After nearly three years here we're seriously considering moving several states away in order to be closer to family. I have a lot of thoughts about all of this, and a lot of feelings. Mostly I'm really pleased to be in this position, though there are some bittersweet qualities to leaving this phase of life behind, to be sure. At times I find myself almost overwhelmed by it all, and Tarot's pretty helpful in those kinds of situations, so I sat down with my Enochian Tarot, and read for myself:

This was a really powerful, and powerfully calming, reading for me.

Enochian Tarot - Schueler/Glassman

First, as I was shuffling, 16. Higher Self popped out. This card carries the keywords: change for the better, spiritual impulse, foreknowledge, adjustment. To provide some back story, with recent Lenormand readings I've often been pulling Book (among others, of course), and with Tarot I've pulled the High Priestess a couple of times of late. Hidden knowledge, perhaps at times information that you're not meant to know quite yet. With the High Priestess we often say "listen to your intuition," and as I was considering what that meant for me, I realized that when I really sit and think about this house in which I currently reside, I am filled with a certain sense of urgency to move on, a sense that it's time to leave. And I feel that that is my intuition poking me with a stick. When Higher Self leapt from the deck, it felt like that same message of "listen carefully to inner guidance," along with positive encouragement that the shifting and transitions are leading to a positive place. It's hard to hear that quiet voice within when you're distracted by the din of everyday living, but it is there, and it is accessible. The image on the card gives me the feeling that my higher self, and my guides, are leading me safely along what feels at times like a precarious path.

Next I laid out the three main cards in the spread.

Enochian Tarot - Schueler/Glassman

1. What I need to acknowledge and release: 53. Lower Sephirothic Cross Angels of Air. Keywords: Reality, existence, science.

2. What I need to nurture and embrace: 49. Fourth Senior of Air. Keywords: Harmony, unity, pattern, arrangement, a birth.

3. Where all of this is leading: 20. The Wheel. Keywords: Cyclic nature, cycles, spirals, repetition, fate, destiny.

The first card tells me that I'm trying to be too careful. "Science" is precise and evidence-based. I am trying to make big decisions based on evidence that I really don't have, and based on information that I simply can't know at the moment. There are good and less good things about both staying and leaving. There is no obvious best path to take when I pick things apart rationally. This card image shows an angelic being, arms outstretched, with three smaller angels floating above his head. Each of the three smaller angels has a rather unpleasant expression on his face, and it appears that they all have their arms crossed. This reminds me of how all of my conflicting thoughts about this decision (pros and cons) end up confusing me, and ultimately I feel like I'm at an impasse. Rather than dividing my mind in so many directions, I need to accept that it's not going to be perfect, and it's not going to be without some temporary risk. I need to release my current reality.

The second card is about gathering together my fragmented thoughts together to create a single, harmonic focus. The element of newness - the start of a new cycle - is highlighted, which is important to understand. The angel on this card appears thoughtful and at peace. She looks over to the previous card, poised and strong, a staff held firmly in one hand. With a rose in her other hand, she's ready to embrace a new phase of life, ready for the journey. Above all, this is a card that tells me to trust that none of this is "accidental." There is a plan, an organization, a structure that is supporting this new, unfolding phase of life.

The final card says that this is all about my destiny. This is indeed cyclical, and is a part of a natural flow in my life. There is some comfort in realizing that this is all happening for a reason, and is a part of my path. In this image the elemental symbols for fire and air are surrounded by water and a spiral of little Earths. Everything is connected, there is indeed an order to the universe, and while at times I feel more chaos than peace in my own small universe, I know that there is order here too. At least I know that no matter how many ups and down there may be on this roller coaster, if I go with the flow, I'm more likely to land on my feet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Game of Hope Lenormand Arrives! (And a Reading)

I was so happy to receive today in the mail two copies of the new Game of Hope 2.0 Lenormand deck! A year ago many Lenormand readers/artists of all talent levels joined together to produce a deck, and the card I chose to create was the 28-Man card. I wrote a bit about this project in a previous post (click here if you'd like to check it out).

All contributors received a mini deck, and I chose to purchase an additional poker-sized deck, both of which came in a black tin. It's hard to describe the satisfaction involved in holding the finished product in my hand after nearly 12 months (which really, for deck creation/production, is a pretty short amount of time!). My younger daughter, Lourdes, was elated to hold my Man card in her hand, and she ran down the hall to my bedroom to compare it to the canvas hanging on the wall. She said, "Mom, how did your painting get FAMOUS??" I had to explain that it's not necessarily famous, but it is still pretty cool to see the painting as part of a deck of cards!

Here is sneak peek at some of the cards in the deck (including the Man, of course!):

Here you can see the Man, Ship (which is a Venetian boat), Star, Sun, Key, and Scythe.

I love how the different artistic styles and media came together in this deck. The idea of reading with a deck comprised of so many stylistic variations seems like it might be a bit dizzy-making, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it reads quite clearly and smoothly, and it's fun to experience the aesthetic diversity present in a single line of cards!

I had to break the deck in, of course, and I had the perfect subject matter: our ESL department is going to have a rather tight month in December, and we don't have enough instructors to cover all of the laboratory hours that our students need. As a result we are "borrowing" instructors from a different department for a series of four weeks. These instructors will facilitate activities with the students for 6-hour periods of time. I've had to run some trainings for the teachers so that they're comfortable with the task for the month ahead, and though preparations are going fairly well, I'm admittedly a bit cautious about how things will unfold. So I asked my new deck how things will go with the lab situation in December, and pulled:

Garden - Clouds - Fox - Tower - Child - Crossroad - Mice

Woohoo! Looks like an interesting month! Above this line you see the Snake, which is the "theme" card from the bottom of the deck. Complications - things may not flow as smoothly as I hope!

Rather than pull apart the line I'm going to give my impressions upon looking over the layout. I see confusion in the network of teachers we have lined up. It may be that not all of those who have signed up to help will come through in the end (perhaps in part due to their own busy schedules). I also see anxiety on the part of our students who will face some divisions in their schedules that they'll have to attempt to navigate with their limited English ability. I'll have to stay on top of things this month in order to nip any issues in the bud (as they say). Better forewarned! (They also say that).

If you are interested in purchasing this limited edition deck, it is available at present for $11 (plus shipping) from Delphi's Chamber.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Morning Draw: Solitude

This morning I drew Solitude from my Enochian Tarot. This is a card from the Major Arcana, the 27th Aethyr. In the image there is a woman standing on a stone plinth in the middle of a green field at night. The deep blue and purple sky stretches on behind her, stars scattered above, and hills can be seen in the distance. There is something Dianic about this woman, perhaps because she holding a bow. That resonates with me, as Artemis always has, in her wild, natural strength and wisdom. There is more to this woman, though; along one side we can see an elderly figure holding a cane, an extension of herself, the crone within.

Enochian Tarot

Solitude is something I enjoy when I actively seek it out. Amidst the busy-ness of everyday life it can be difficult to carve out time for meditation and alone time. And other times (particularly a couple of extended periods of time in this past year) I've experienced solitude due to life circumstances rather than having chosen it for myself. But the power in solitude is just as potent in the moments we desire it as in the moments it's handed to us.

Without distractions we are better able to tune into what our bodies are telling us; we are better able to connect to the flow of feelings running through us; and we are better able to attune to our inner guidance, our crone energy, that stream of wisdom running like a river through our hearts that supports  us in our search for clarity, as we consider our place in this great Universe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Enochian Tarot Review: Cosmos and Chaos

I'd been eyeing the Enochian Tarot for a while (not to be confused with the Enochian Skryring Tarot), at first mainly because I love the artwork (and philosophy) of Sallie Ann Glassman, who also illustrated one of my favorite decks of all time, the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot. From what I could see online the artwork in the Enochian deck appeared to be just as engaging and moving. But I knew very little about Enochian magic, which is a system first written about by John Dee, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. So I hesitated for a while, and just recently decided to purchase it now rather than wake up one morning to find that it was no longer available!

This is only a partial review; I'll be working with this deck often in the time to come, and I'm sure in the process I'll be learning a lot more about it which will help me provide more depth and breadth in future posts. But I can already say that I'm intrigued and even excited by the Enochian Tarot now that I've had a chance to look it over and pull some cards, and I am looking forward to the journey onward!

The Enochian Tarot was created by Gerald and Betty Schueler, illustrated by Sallie Ann Glassman (as I've already mentioned), and published by Llewellyn. In the accompanying booklet the Schuelers mention that there are roughly three branches of Enochian magic: that of the Golden Dawn, of O.T.O (Ordo Templi Orientis), and a third derived from the studies of the Schuelers themselves, which accounts for some small inconsistencies in the layout. This deck is fashioned, naturally, after the latter.

The deck itself is structured not unlike a traditional Tarot deck, though there are clearly some major distinctions. There is a set of 30 Majors, called "Aethyrs," that correlate with the planes of the ethereal realm where different angelic beings reside. Each card has a lesson and a unique energy, and while not arranged entirely parallel to the Fool's Journey (though there is definitely a path of sorts), there are certainly cards that carry energies very similar to the Majors in a more traditional deck. There are 56 Minors divided into four suits that correspond to the four Watchtowers, or elements (fire, earth, air, water). However these Minor suits are arranged very differently from traditional Tarot, and feature the hierarchy of beings associated with each of the Watchtowers. There are seven "court cards" in each, comprised of a King and six Seniors (these relate variably to feminine and masculine energies). Then we have the Higher and Lower Sephirothic Cross Angels, Kerubic Angels, Archangels, Ruling Angels, Lesser Angels, and Demons. (Are you entirely lost yet?)

 I love decks that require study, and this one certainly does. At this point I have the sensation of standing at the precipice of a new adventure, like a spark of quiet excitement, and I'm looking forward to what I will learn with time. This deck was originally printed in 1989, and was reprinted in 2000 (I have the 2000 reprint). It comes with a sturdy booklet - somewhat grander than a LWB - that contains a brief introduction to Enochian magic and the system itself, plus card meanings, spreads, and even rituals. I would recommend acquiring a more complete book because the card meanings themselves are really only presented as keywords, which isn't a lot of sustenance when learning a new system. But it does give you something to start with! The card backs are deep red and feature an Enochian seal, which is almost reversible. These cards are meant to be read both upright and inverted, and meanings for both orientations are included in the booklet.

Last night I was shuffling the cards, getting a feel for them, and asked, "What will my experience be like working with this deck?" I pulled II-Babalon ("Arn" Aethyr).

Enochian Tarot - Babalon
G. and B. Schueler/S.A. Glassman

The booklet describes this card as carrying feminine energy, which corresponds to the image on the card of a female figure sitting on a throne. With the moon-like shape above her head there is almost a High Priestess quality to the depiction, yet it's much more than that. Babalon is a triple-aspected mother goddess, and she incorporates sexuality, motherhood, and mystery into her complex, deep folds. There are layers of both the Empress and the High Priestess here, and in fact it is Babalon who is featured on the Lust card in the Thoth Tarot. The keywords given for Babalon are: "intense bliss, intense joy, happiness, harmony." It feels like a beautiful embrace, welcoming me warmly into the journey of working with this system.

This morning I felt pulled to draw a daily card from this deck rather than my standard 3-card Lenormand draw. I mixed the cards around on my bed, and drew one: IV-Cosmos and Chaos ("Paz" Aethyr).

Enochian Tarot - Cosmos and Chaos
G. and B. Schueler/S.A. Glassman

This card is very closely related to the Lovers card in traditional Tarot. Its keywords are: "good relationships, attraction of opposites, lovers." The energy is both masculine and feminine, which of course we would expect! So why Cosmos and Chaos? They are the female and male aspects of the creative principle, and interestingly (in light of my previous draw), Babalon is considered the female consort of Chaos (at least according to Thelemic teachings). So the depiction shown in the card may well be Babalon and Chaos enmeshed in each other's arms. In many traditions it is said that Chaos existed long before creation (Cosmos) and thus it is the great abyss out of which all order is derived. Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and esotericist, said in a 1907 lecture:

Genius is like a fresh spark; it is out-of-the-ordinary just because a union there takes place between the Cosmos and the Chaos; thereby a new thing arises not connected with the laws of evolution that come from olden time. It enters in from other worlds like a Divine spark. Genius is the marriage of the past with the present, of the Cosmos with the Chaos.

Cosmos and Chaos exist as separate yet intimately connected aspects of existence and creative energy. They come together, and through their union a third entity - a spark of knowing, a relationship, creative brilliance - is born. A beautiful, not wholly unfamiliar, concept. And indeed, the cards were entirely clued in to my reality on this day! After six weeks of separation, my husband is coming home tonight, and I am utterly excited, counting down the minutes until his arrival.

This deck is intriguing, mysterious, wonder-ful, and yes, challenging. I'm quite ready for the voyage. As I work with the Enochian Tarot over time I'll continue to post about my experiences, a review in parts, if you will. ;-)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Perceptions of the American Dream

I teach English and American culture to international students that hail from numerous countries from across the planet, from Venezuela and Colombia, to Iran and Malaysia. Each month I have my new group of students do a project where they create a list of questions about culture and identity, and then tape an interview conducted with a U.S.-born peer. One of the topics that my international students often ask about is how students from the United States perceive "the American Dream." In class I ask them to define it for themselves, and the most common response is something along the lines of: "it's about having the opportunity to study, to earn good money, and to pursue your dreams." When they conduct their interviews and ask about this topic, their American interviewees often reply: "Yeah I know what the American Dream is….it's about having a house and two kids, and a great job, and making good money. But I don't really believe in it, that much."

Photo Credit: Brian Auer

My international students overwhelmingly believe in the concept of the American Dream. They are here because they have faith that through dedicated study and application of their will and purpose, they will become successful. So I ask them why they think so many students in the United States seem to think it's outdated. Last month one of my students from Venezuela summarized in a nutshell what his peers from previous months had expressed: the American Dream pertains more to immigrants than to native-born students. Their perception of themselves is that they come to this country motivated and with a clear plan of action precisely because they are coming from places where their future career outlook is at best limited.

Now of course, this is their experience and opinion, and there are certainly many native-born U.S. students who are extremely dedicated and motivated, and become very successful. But I still thought that this trend of thought was interesting. I thought I'd explore it with my cards. I drew one card for my ESL students, and one for U.S. students on the topic of how they perceive the American Dream:

ESL students' perceptions of the American Dream: Page of Mirrors/Cups
U.S. students' perceptions of the American Dream: 9 of Mirrors/Cups reversed

Chrysalis Tarot - H. Sierra
US Games Systems, Inc.

The Page of Mirrors tells me that my ESL students come here with an open heart, and are inspired by the possibility of starting the path toward realizing their hopes and dreams. Like the Healer kneeling in the grass, they are starting from the ground up, getting their hands dirty, using raw materials to build their path forward, bit by bit. The majority of my students expect that the route will not be easy. They are in my classes because they need to improve their language skills simply in order to have the opportunity to begin their regular program of study. But they choose to see this as a surmountable challenge to attaining their goals. They often demonstrate joy in creation, and in their education. And for some of my students coming from countries with active political and economic turmoil, there is a sense of healing in the act of pursuing their dreams, something nearly impossible to do in their land of origin.

On the other hand the 9 of Mirrors reversed tells a different story. In Tarot we often call this the "wish fulfilled" card, so in its reversed position it speaks to a student body that feels distanced from reaching their own dreams. There is a sense of disillusionment and dissatisfaction to this energy. But why? Perhaps the students are sinking under the pressure of a concept that no longer seems to be about simply being able to enjoy one's life, but about a definition of success that appears to demand the attainment of great wealth, of great success - a notion that seems unlikely, or even impossible. I also wonder if the opportunities available to them are taken for granted, even unintentionally, and impact in some way their attitudes and perceptions about what's possible for them.

Living through adversity certainly puts things into perspective, no matter where you're from. One of my students from Venezuela spent several years flying back and forth from his home country and Miami, working at whatever odd job he could find in order to make enough money to cover his travel expenses, support his family back home, and save for college. When he first came, he said he went knocking on restaurant doors, and he went through forty places before finally a manager agreed to hire him - the manager happened to be Venezuelan.

Photo Credit: Hartwig HKD

Another of my students grew up in Angola during the civil war, when his parents finally sent him to live with relatives in Portugal. Being of mixed heritage, he had been "too white" for his Angolan classmates, and was "too black" for his Portuguese classmates. At the age of 15 he was living alone in an apartment in a Jamaican neighborhood of London, where he picked up the "Islands" accent he still has today. He was often stopped by police on his way to school on suspicion of carrying knives or other weapons, and this became something he simply had to deal with.

Both of these students have big dreams of being music producers, and if you speak with them, their confidence in their future success is palpable. They've already worked hard at life, and they are barely 20 years old.  So I believe them when they tell me about their plans. There is no doubt in their speech, only calm certainty, accompanied by a knowing smile.

Whether international or domestic, I wish all of them well. I pray that their dreams allow them to rise above the challenges that cross their paths, and that inspiration shines in their hearts always.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hierophant: Understanding the Divine Child

Last night I was sitting on my couch after the little ones had gone to bed. For some days I'd been feeling pulled to have a "conversation" of sorts with Elegua, but with my hectic schedule I had been putting it off. So finally, with his red candle burning behind the door nearby, I settled into the evening and drew a few cards from my Chrysalis Tarot. I simply held in my mind and heart the intention to hear from him, to receive any messages he might want me to have. The center card of the draw was the Divine Child, which is in the Hierophant position of the Chrysalis deck. I smiled at the beautiful confirmation, for Elegua is a divine child, a gatekeeper and key-holder. I sat for some time with the card, with Elegua in my heart, and I pondered the artistic rendering, letting its message unfold slowly.

V-Divine Child, H. Sierra
Chrysalis Tarot

I think of the Hierophant as a bridge between the mundane and divine, whether that occurs through a teacher, a religion, formal study, etcetera. What I love is that this card (in the Chrysalis) shows the divinity in innocence. This has occurred via stories of divine children like Mithra or Jesus who helped connect their communities to God/the Source (whatever one happens to call it). It manifests in the powerful, child-like divinity of Elegua who guards all roads. And that fits with the deck booklet's mention of the shell showing many paths to the same destination.

The shell also reminds me of how we often refer to our bodies as shells of our souls, and in that sense we all carry the Divine within us. The Hierophant is about looking to others for divine connection, while the Divine Child shows that we are already connected, and simply have to tap into it. But often when we're on a path of self discovery, we seek out others who are on the same path who we can learn from and with, and then integrate that into our journey. In this way there is a connection between the inner and outer journeys.

Finally, this card reminds me of how children can be such amazing teachers of compassion, truth and love, divine qualities all.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taroscopes for November 2014

Yes, it happened! The November 2014 Taroscopes have materialized after a long and lovely Samhain/Halloween weekend. I hope that each and every one of you enjoyed the holiday, whether you spent it honoring your ancestors, accompanying little ones on candy expeditions, at costume parties, or alone at home with a cup of tea and good movie (or perhaps all of the above!).

This month we in the United States count down to November 27th, our Thanksgiving celebration, the next large festival on the national calendar. I love autumn and its string of wonderful gatherings; its a magical time of year no matter what part of the country you happen to call home!

For this month's 'scopes I felt the Tarot De St. Croix calling my name (almost literally!). This lovely deck was created by Lisa De St. Croix, and each card features one of her colorful and captivating paintings. So without further ado……

Tarot De St. Croix - Lisa De St. Croix

Capricorn - Empress: This is a month to consider ways you can make space for abundance in your life. If deep down you aren't satisfied, put your busy thoughts and apprehensions aside for a moment and focus on determining what will feed your soul. Choose happiness.

Aquarius - Page of Cups: Emotional healing is a path, and you have to start somewhere. Accept baby steps - they are still progress! You may receive pleasant news this month that will warm your heart.

Pisces - 9 of Cups: Make yourself a priority this month. If you're used to giving, giving, giving, don't forget to tend to your own needs and boundaries. With each decision you make, consider how the result will impact your own ability to embrace joy.

Aries - Sun: Give thanks this month for all the positives flowing through your life (and what a perfect month for it, as in a few weeks we formally celebrate gratitude!). Share your blessings with others, even if simply by smiling at strangers.

Taurus - King of Cups: This king utilizes natural kindness, wisdom, and diplomacy to navigate through the natural ups and downs of life, and is an excellent example of emotional strength and understanding. Consider how you might embody the energy of the King of Cups this month.

Gemini - Knight of Swords: Slow down. Don't put the cart before the horse. Breathe. Think things through carefully before you take action.

Cancer - 2 of Cups: You may find yourself thoroughly enjoying your partner this month. Make the most of it, embrace it, drink it up with abandon! Love is a wondrous thing. If you're flying solo these days, you might just meet someone that passes inspection.

Leo - Emperor: If you're resisting the structure in your life this month, consider whether there is some benefit in playing by the rules, at least for a little while. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Virgo - Magician: This is a great month to "go for it" - you'll impress others and the tide is likely to turn in your favor. You have a lot going for you, so take advantage of that energy!

Libra - 4 of Swords: This is a "you" month, time for contemplation, healing, and inner focus. What do you want, what do you need, and how can you move forward while honoring your truth? Enjoy some solitude; embrace it!

Scorpio - 2 of Pentacles: It seems ironic that stability should come from fluctuation, but it can - as long as you strike the right balance. You can do it, and even enjoy yourself in the process.

Sagittarius - 5 of Swords: Time to let the past go. Whatever wasn't working probably isn't going to resolve itself to your satisfaction, but you can still find a way forward. As soon as you stop beating your head against the brick wall you'll notice a door waiting to be opened.

The summary card for the month of November is the Hanged Man. Sacrifices - even small ones - can often lead to significant reward. What can you release this month? How might a shift of perspective help you see a situation with new eyes, and a new appreciation?

May your November be blessed!