Friday, 24 October 2014

Les Cross and Geomancy & Giveaway Result

Four Levels model for Astrogem Geomancy
Another of the workshops from the UK Tarot Conference that I wanted to share about in a bit more detail was Dr. Les Cross' approach to Geomancy. 

He explained that this is based on a 3000 year old practice of divining from natural elements.  A bit like the I-Ching, you create a shape through four yes/no or odd/even throws.  So, it's possible to create geomes (the equivalent to the I-Ching hexagram) using anything that has two sides or ends: a business card, a coin, a smooth stone, a twig, whatever!

Les Cross has also developed his own system, which associates gems and astrological notions to each geome.  And he has published some lovely cards which can be used for this system, with images on one side and explanations on the other.  Being a sucker for cards, I got a set :)

The geomes, courtesy of Astrogem Geomancy
As for actually reading the geomes, while Les encourages people to study the traditional names and meanings, he has also come up with a more intuitive system.  Each geome has four parts, which can contain one tap or two taps (dots).  One tap indicates reduction or constriction, two taps indicate expansion or increase.  Of course, neither of these is inherently good or bad: a reduction in your workload might be good if you're feeling overwhelmed, or bad if you need to increase your income.

In terms of the four different levels of the geome, his intuitive method equates the top two with mental/spiritual elements and the bottom two with physical/material elements.  The outer levels are associated to the external, while the middle two are internal.  So, the second level from the top is about internal mental aspects: our own thoughts and beliefs.

As for how to read with this system, the basic idea is to see the flow that is currently taking place. A base reading would draw two geomes to see where you are and where you are headed. 

For example, I did a reading around a work question, using his cards, and got Via and Laetitia.  Currently, then, this project is full of potential, but with nothing actually happening (a fairly accurate description).  Moving it forward, I need to activate my own thought processes, planning and strategy (level two), to bring to bear my own resources at a material level (level three), and to also expand my outreach to others at a practical level (fourth layer).  What I don't need is to be worrying about what others think of this project (top level), I just need to trust and get on with it.  Makes sense to me!

And no, I didn't forget the giveaway.  The Numerology Cards will wing their way across to:
***Harpa Luthersdottir***
Congratulations, and I'll contact you for your address :)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Richard Abbot's Tattva Spread

Tattva symbols
As I said last week, I really enjoyed Richard Abbot's workshop at the UK Tarot Conference.  He explained a bit about the Sanskrit approach to the basic elements of life, the 'that-ness' that underlies existence (that's the translation of tattva).  This system recognises Akasha/Spirit, Tejas/Fire, Vayu/Air, Apas/Water and Prithvi/Earth as the fundamental elements of existence.

From this, Richard derived a spread with positions/associations which are somewhat different to the way I generally approach the elements.  He also had the interesting idea to use only the cards of the associated suit in drawing a card for each element's position in the spread.

For Spirit, the question is 'What is the lesson here?', and a card is drawn from amongst the Majors.  Fire is seen as hot, burning, forging, expanding, so the question is 'What is growing?' and is answered by a card from the Wands suit.  Air is invisible, colourless (though represented by a blue circle!), and odourless, so Richard's question is 'What is hanging in the air?'  Water is wet, cleansing, purging, and as something being washed away the question is 'What is receding?'  And Earth is solid, fixed, heavy, dense, and his question is 'What is fixed/stable?'

Finally, Richard suggested that we draw another Spirit card to answer 'And if I learn this lesson, what next?'  He also said we could draw another for if we don't learn the lesson.  However, my belief, which he also expressed, is that we will keep being presented with opportunities to learn a given lesson until we do get it, so I decided to skip that card.

As you can see, the questions end up being quite different from those we might expect with more Western, tarot-based associations.  For example, following those ideas the question for Water might be 'What emotions are being felt?' and for Earth might be 'What is involved at a practical level?'  It's also interesting to only answer each element's question with a card from that element, rather than from the full deck.  While the latter approach can be insightful in noting whether or not a card from the associated suit falls in 'its place', Richard's idea brings a different set of possibilities to the table.

To explore this, I asked the cards about the lesson offered to me by the Conference itself.  Here is my answer, from the Mosaic Dream Tarot (Bridgett Trejo, 2014):

1) Spirit - The Tower

My lesson was to cope with having my fixed ideas challenged and shattered.  Mary Greer did some challenging, with her recommendation to seek cognitive dissonance - to try to challenge our own assumptions.  And she helped this along by showing how much we jump to conclusions, and by getting us to look at tough ethical questions like "Is it acceptable to tell a querent what they SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do?"  Richard's workshop challenged my normal elemental associations and preference for pulling from a full deck, but the results were really interesting.  Les Cross' talk challenged my assertion that I don't want to learn any more systems of divination.  Yep, plenty of shake-ups :)

2) Fire - Nine of Wands

What is growing is my ability to push on in the face of these kind of challenges, to not let them put me off.  As one book title famously put it, to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

3)  Air - Five of Swords

What is hanging in the air, there but not spoken, is the question of whether I will let these challenges leave me feeling defeated.  Whether I will take them as destroying my understanding of things, or pick up and dust myself off, richer for the changes.

4) Water - Seven of Cups

What is receding is my sense that I have to choose one thing or another, to make a firm choice.  As Mary had us say in one exercise: "Yes, and... Yes, and..."

5)  Earth - Ace of Pentacles

What is fixed is the potential that is there, the seed that is always available to be planted and to grow in the rich soil left after the Tower has been razed.

6) Spirit - Justice

What next?  Well, I hope I can be fairer, jump to less rushed judgements, and give credit where it's due.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Pagan Lenormand Overview

Box, deck and booklet
Gina Pace created the Pagan Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2005), so authoring the Pagan Lenormand (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) was a clear step along the same path.  Though in terms of artwork it is closer to the Silver Witchcraft Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) by the same artist.

Lo Scarabeo are really breaking the mould this year.  Once again, this is a borderless deck, with no international titles.  And the box, too, is a nice, solid contraption with a lift-off lid and a ribbon to help get the cards and booklet out. 

As for the booklet, it is most definitely not a LWB.  Rather, it is nice, has greyscale images to show spread layouts, as well as some decorative images.  There is a page devoted to each card, with keywords and an explanation of the Pagan Lenormand image, as well as the Lenormand interpretation.

Gypsy Heart Spread
The spreads offered are interesting and thematically appropriate, though some may complain of their single card positional meanings.  They are a ten card Gypsy's Heart Love Spread, an Elemental Square of Nine Spread (a nine square with alternate positional meanings based on the four elements), a six card "U" for Universe Spread, a six card Fork in the Road Spread, and a Pentagram of Five Spread.  However, traditional reading methods are left out for the most part - there is no explanation of how to combine card meanings, and no explanation of the Grand Tableau, either.

Multi-cultural People Cards
The only thing that came as a slight disappointment here is that the booklet is only half the length it seems, as it comes in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German (though the foreign language sections are condensed and don't give the spreads or some additional information).  Overall, though, Gina has made thoughtful choices to represent Lenormand ideas in a modern, pagan context.  From a labyrinth walking meditation to candlelit spirit guide quests, via a trip to the mountains and pagans in a regular suburban house, she achieves her aim well.

Another aspect I like about the deck is the people cards.  As has become frequent practice, there are two man and two woman cards, facing in different directions.  These allow same sex readings if desired, but also have two other uses.  Firstly, they offer a good cultural balance, with a Native American, an African American, a Caucasian and an Asian figure.  Secondly, each wears different colour robes and holds a different object (smudging sage, an incense burner etc), so together they represent the four quarters of a sacred circle, and could be used as such on an altar.

House, Dog, Garden, Mountain
In terms of the cards, the artwork is accomplished, though not everyone may feel comfortable with the robed figures (an issue also raised with the Silver Witchcraft Tarot).  Although there are vignettes of modern pagan life on many cards, the Lenormand object or person is still mostly very clear.  One slight exception to this is the Dog, which is represented by a spirit Wolf (wild ancestor to the dog).  In fact, the Fox, Bear, Stork and Dog are all "spirit guides", which means they rise up ethereally from meditating people.  I guess there aren't many real wild animals in most modern, urban pagans' lives, so there is certainly a logic to this.

Pagan Lenormand (large) and French Cartomancy
Each card also has a playing card insert.  These are taken directly from the Dondorf Lenormand, which Lo Scarabeo issued as the French Cartomancy deck (Lo Scarabeo, 2005).  At first, I found this a little jarring - having an old-fashioned, hand-drawn card insert on these modern, CGI images.  However, as it is basically a card from a separate deck, the lack of consistency between the two styles isn't as strange as having Majors and Minors by different artists in a tarot deck.  And it makes a good deal of sense to have something which readers will already be quite familiar with, given how different the images are generally.

Pagan Lenormand (centre) and Silver Witchcraft Tarot
Overall, my only complaint about this deck, and unfortunately this is a big one, is its size.  The cards are huge, bigger than many tarot decks (well, they are tarot deck height, but more square).  They are nearly twice the size of a regular Lenormand deck!  So, it comes as no surprise that the companion book doesn't talk about any spread larger than ten cards: you'd need a huge table or a bed to lay a Grand Tableau.  Even a line of five won't fit on my scanner, and for a line of three I had to turn them sideways and then rotate the image.  These are unwieldy, and though I enjoy the theme and the imagery, I sadly won't be using them very often.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

11th UK Tarot Conference + Giveaway

Mary K. Greer
On Friday and Saturday, I attended the 11th Annual UK Tarot Conference.  Once again, there was a fabulous line-up of speakers, overflowing goodie bag, and lots of wonderful fellow tarotists to meet and get to know, as well as old friends to spend time with.

Things kicked off with a talk from Mary K. Greer, the keynote speaker, on Intuition and Neuroscience.  Mary drew on lots of scientific resources, as well as personal experiences, and brought in plenty of interactive elements, too, to make this a fascinating presentation.  She had us all fill out a form at the start to say how experienced a tarot reader we felt we were, what our "accuracy" was, and how we believed that we read.  She then did some exercises to show just how much we are influenced by what is happening around us, and what we see and hear, in how we respond to questions.  We also did a larger group exercise to look at how we are influenced by initial knowledge and how we deal with tricky ethical questions (a querent asking about abortion).

Our "querent"
Personally, I found it very hard to rate my "accuracy", given that I do not even aspire to do predictive readings.  In the group exercise, four people read for a querent, played by a fifth person.  Our querent said at the end that she had felt listened to, helped to consider different options, and supported to make the best choice possible for herself.  Coming from a counselling background, that is what I aspire to in my readings, rather than "accuracy".

I liked that Mary did still leave a space open for "mystery".  She said that in her experience there are a very few people (even from the pre-selected tarot community), who do better than the average 50-50 in their predictions.  While I don't count myself among them, I hope I do bring "educated intuition", that balance of experience and openness to the various messages from the cards and the querent, to provide helpful readings.

Krysten and I, so glad we got some time together!
There was an hour-long break, in which Baby and I took a walk with my dear friend Krysten, of Queen of Stars Tarot, who has been in the UK over the summer.  It was great to get to spend some time with her, which is always one of the great joys of the Conference for me.  Unfortunately, this year I got rather less of that, as Baby wasn't very impressed with the Conference room :(

Next thing up was Kim Arnold, the Conference organiser, leading us through some fun tarot activities.  She took these from The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner, and it was a great way to break the ice and get into a more playful mindset.

Israel Ajose
After another break, Israel Ajose gave a talk titled Tarot + Astrology = Magick.  He gave a simple, practical approach to applying astrological houses to creating tarot spells.  It was definitely something anyone can do, all explained with great humour as well as knowledge.  At the end, people got to try it out, with Israel helping guide and explain: an excellent workshop.

Finally, Geraldine Beskin of The Atlantis Bookshop gave a talk on Lady Frieda Harris, who painted the Thoth Tarot.  This was a talk I was very much looking forward to, but unfortunately didn't get to attend, as the baby was thoroughly bored of sitting in the Conference by that point, as well as tired and teething.  So, an early night for me instead of drinks and nibbles with my co-attendees - the trials of motherhood...

Mary K. Greer
Saturday got off to a great start with another talk by Mary K. Greer.  This time, she explored the history of the High Priestess card, and her expression and symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.  As well as lots of fascinating historical and symbolic insights, she also had us work through a spread based on this card, which was definitely deep.  A wonderful mix of information and experience, again.

After a short break, which I once again spent breast-feeding rather than socialising, Richard Abbot was up with a talk about Tarot and the Tattvas.  Basically, this is the sanskrit take on the elements - earth, air, fire, water and spirit.  Despite disagreeing with Richard's comment that most people these days pooh-pooh elemental understandings (personally, I use them either implicitly or explicitly in all my readings), I loved this workshop.

Richard Abbot
Richard presented a subtly different take on the elements than is typical in pagan circles, had us do some powerful visualisation exercises (which I will certainly try again), and offered up a fascinating spread.  All this was put across with great humour, and an excellent balance of information and practice to keep it interactive.  I liked this presentation so much I will  write a post specifically on it for next week, so others can try the spread for themselves!

Dr. Maria Antoniou
During the lunch break, there were another two workshops.  First, Dr. Maria Antoniou presented on Soulful Enterprise.  Although I missed the first half of her workshop (baby and lunch called), I caught the second half, and saw the spread she presented.  From what I saw, there was an excellent mix of business savvy, focus on being true to yourself, and drawing on the cards to support both of these.

Dr. Les Cross
Second was Dr. Les Cross, talking about an updated version of geomancy, Astrogem Geomancy.  Although I was interested to hear about this, I thought "I don't have time to learn a whole new system of divination right now".  Once again, I'm glad to say my prejudices were wrong.  I found the workshop fascinating, bought his cards, and found the first reading I tried for myself very useful.  I'll write in more detail about this one, too, next Friday (24th October).

David Wells
After the lunch break, David Wells spoke about the Tree of Life, and led us on a guided meditation to travel the Sun card's path between the Sephiroth Yesod and Hod.  It wasn't as technical as it might sound, starting in a forest, going into a temple, and being guided by Archangels.

The reading circle run by Mary Greer after this was a fascinating experience.  Everyone got to have some mini-readings, and we also experimented as readers with ideas like just describing cards literally, describing the "feeling/ambience" of the card, creating a fairy tale from it, and relating all of these back to the querent and their cards.

To close, Kim led another beautiful meditation (though I had to skip out on that as Baby was no longer feeling patient).  Altogether, it was another amazing Conference, full of deep learnings, humour, history, insight and a lot of experimentation.

As I mentioned, the goodie bag we received was once again very generously endowed.  So, I'd like to share a little of the Tarot Conference love by giving away the Numerology Guidance Cards (Hay House, 2013) from my bag.  To enter, just comment on this post, and I'll annouce the winner next Friday, 24th October, in the post on Astrogem Geomancy.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Pagan Lenormand Reading

Another new Lenormand deck this week, the Pagan Lenormand (Lo Scarabeo, 2014).  The creator is Gina Pace, who also created the Pagan Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2005), and both decks share a modern pagan theme.  More on that on Friday, for now let's dive into the reading...

Man, Snake, Anchor
Well, a traditional way to read this would see your partner getting together with another woman from work.  However, I don't see much point to that kind of reading.  I know my partner isn't involved with anyone else, and reading this way would provide me with nothing helpful or empowering.

Instead, this week I want to explore the first way of reading small spreads with House positions which I mentioned last week.  Using this method, you simply apply the position number as the House.  So, in a three card draw you use Rider, Clover and Ship as your Houses.  Here, then, we have Man in Rider, Snake in Clover, Anchor in Ship.  This gives us a few possibilities:

☛ Actively seek information about short-term twists and turns involving an international work project.
☛ Dynamically apply logic to find the opportunities in the boundaries around a stable venture.  (Examine the boundaries, for example contractual obligations, or the limits of those people assigned to it, in a project that seems secure or perhaps overly rigid, in order to figure out a better, more fluid way of dealing with it).
☛ Use your ability to communicate effectively in order to tempt someone into an opportunity related to a past connection.  (What is someone you are dealing with feeling nostalgic about, that perhaps brought them a sense of security?  How can you use this information to tempt them to do something which is a good opportunity for you both?)

For myself, it is a combination of the first and second which feels most helpful.  I'm involved with a couple of international work projects, and could definitely do with getting more information on each, as well as assessing where they are in terms of boundaries and opportunities.

I haven't been focusing on these projects much lately, with responsibilities at home in the foreground, and then the UK Tarot Conference to attend (P.S. there's an extra post and a giveaway on Wednesday about this).  However, a couple of emails and the delivery of a huge wodge of paperwork that I need to read highlight that this is something I should spend some time on sooner rather than later.  While I may be tempted to do something that feels more exciting, sometimes I just need to get down to the work that needs doing.  And the faster I get to it, the sooner I can turn to other, more interesting things...