Saturday, 25 September 2010

Transparent Oracle Autumn Equinox Reading

Emily Carding, the creative genius behind the Transparent Tarot, has now also brought out a Transparent Oracle.  Once again, the cards are transparent and so can be layered together in interesting ways.  However, the freedom of an oracle, rather than a tarot format, means she has also put very different symbolism and structure into this deck.  It has seven suits -  East, South, West, North, Above, Below and Within.  The Pagan influences are clear - not surprising for an inspiring priestess, a title which anyone who has done a workshop with Emily would probably recognise as appropriate.

The direction suits each has a gateway (season), type of weather, element, time of day, landscape, four guides and an elemental.  Above contains a gateway, a guide, and the "wandering stars" of the ancients plus a polarity, while Below has a gateway, four guides, four grail hallows and a polarity.  Within includes once again a gateway, this time the self, and then different ways that the self relates to the world including touch, empathy and vision, as well as DNA and The Web (interconnectivity).

I decided I wanted a chance to learn this lovely deck a bit better, so I chose to do an autumn equinox reading to look at the energies around me at this time.  The cards, shown above, which I drew (eyes closed) were 13 (Element: Fire) 55 (Guide: Mermaid) and 7 (Guide: Blackbird).  Fire is from the South, associated with summer, so a card of energy and creativity.  Mermaid is a guide from below, obviously associated with water and emotion, but which also has for me a sense of danger - luring men to their doom.  The Blackbird is from the East, associated with Spring and the element of air. 

My initial, intuitive reading of these cards is that there is a great potential for creativity underlying my current situation, as yet a bit unfocused.  Where it is guiding me is towards an emotional response, that may be a little entrapping.  However, there is also a strong aspect of listening to more rational aspects, wise guidance from the everyday Blackbird.  The way the overlay "felt" right to me, the Blackbird is pecking at the Mermaid's enmeshing hair, or perhaps whispering in her ear, while the energy of the triple-goddess, fiery and passionate, is channelled into Blackbird.

Reading Emily's card descriptions, the first thing that strikes me is that her take on the Mermaid is far more positive than my initial impression.  Although mentioning luring unsuspecting sailors to their grave, she highlights their healing and intuitive abilities, as well as their song.  Thus the second thing that struck me was that both the Mermaid and the Blackbird sing songs that can lead humans "elsewhere" - the Blackbird being considered a shamanic guide.

This emphasis on song reminds me of a card from Rachel Pollack's "Shining Tribe Tarot" where she illustrates the Australian Aboriginal practice of singing territory - having an oral, sung tradition delineating tribal boundaries.  One of Rachel Pollack's comments on this card resonates for me with the Blackbird/Mermaid combination.  She says something along the lines of "Remember to speak your truth in a way that is pleasant to hear."  Likewise, the siren song is enticing, even when dangerous, and the Blackbird's song is sweet, though it may guide you to the underworld.

Given that I am about to start working in a bereavement centre, I take this as a reminder to choose my words carefully, to think about how what I say may sound to another, from a different perspective.  There seems also to be a warning about not getting entangled in my own emotional responses.

Writing about the Element: Fire card, Emily says, "It can also be felt as the energy within which animates us, and the will that drives us to action."  I feel this speaks to the passion and enthusiasm I bring to this work, and my will to make it my future career.  This is the starting point, and hence I should heed the reminders to listen to my intellect (air - Blackbird), and make my words pleasant as well as true, to the limit of my ability.

In Emily's card descriptions she gives general suggestions of which energies will work well or poorly together.  For example, Fire, when combined with cards from the East such as Blackbird, suggests that "creativity is fueled by innovation and true inspiration."  I wonder whether the Mermaid cards suggests that emotional concerns can confuse this inspiration, or whether it is also possible for her more emotional side to add depth and intuition to this inspiration.  I guess that as with tarot cards, this combination speaks to the possibilities, but which of these manifests depends on me.  Being aware of the risk of confusion and ensnarement in emotional depths will hopefully help me to avoid this pitfall, and instead focus on expressing myself from a place of insight and compassion.

As an alternative, tongue-firmly-in-cheek interpretation: the Fire energy has speared and burned the Blackbird and his wise, rational counsel, so that what is left is fiery passion and the sexuality of the Mermaid - roll on hot sex ;-)

So, for those that have made it this far, what do you think of these cards (the deck, and the reading)?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Video blogging, anyone?

Having watched a few tarot video blogs of late, I thought, "What a good idea!"  So, I dug out my video thingy (a gift from my incredibly techie step-dad for Christmas last year).  Tried turning it on, nothing.  I figure, the battery must be dead after nearly a year of inactivity - yes, I made three or four short vids in January, and that was it :-(  Plugged it in, several hours later still no joy...

So, my dear one came home and suggested trying a different adaptor.  However, I later figured out that actually it was probably just that the thing now had barely enough charge to turn on before being plugged in - he said something about the screen flickering - as I suddenly had a vague trace of memory that it's got to be on to charge: another headslap moment!

Finally charged and ready to go, having dug out the gorilla tripod thingy (excellent gadget), I try to set up the camera so it'll record my black, double-thick velvet reading cloth and the cards.  A good angle is hard to get, and it turns out our hassle-free, nice'n'bright downlighters don't work well for lighting a video shot.  My first two tries, I keep getting incredible glare on my not-all-that-glossy cards!

Then there's the pain of listening to myself um, aah, and sigh at what the cards are telling me.  Perhaps I need, at least, to deal the cards before hand, get them in shot, think about it a bit and get the emotions out of the way before trying to describe what's going on...

Still, I did a reading on video blogging (which I videoed, but see comment above on glare/camera angles/sighing): now is the time for the Knight of Pentacles, so step-by-step, put the effort in, and eventually I'll reap the benefits.  Now is not the time for the Wheel of Fortune.  No sudden wonders pulled from hats, no happy coincidences that make for a miracle moment, yet the chance that in the future things will move from my current situation to something rather more up-beat.  Finally, guidance, the Eight of Pentacles - the apprentice card!  Headslap again.  Hard work, time and effort will be required to learn the requisite skills to produce something worthwhile.

Ah well, watch this space...

Image: The Moon from the Gaian Tarot - relevant because of the idea of confusion, uncertainty and the cycles of life.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Memento Mori

The new second edition of the popular Bohemian Gothic Tarot is now available.  Beyond the fact that all the cards have been reworked - some a little, some a lot - from the first edition, the deck also has an extra card entitled Memento Mori.  This Latin phrase is translated along the lines of "Remember, you will die" and there is a whole history of art going back to antiquity which seeks to bring this phrase to life.  The image used in the Bohemian Gothic Tarot for this purpose comes from Charles Allen Gilbert, and was created in 1892.

While this may seem a little bleak (very a propos for the Bohemian Gothic, in that sense), and was certainly used that way in Roman and Christian times, the existentialist movement has a rather different take on this.  If we are unwilling to acknowledge death, we cannot truly acknowledge life and all its joys either, they say.

So, how to interpret this card in a reading?  At least four things spring to my mind, and I'm sure others will have more ideas.

Firstly, in an existentialist vein, seeing this card could remind us to enjoy life to the full, in all its simplicity and all its exuberance.  What would you like to be doing in your life that you currently don't do?  How could you enjoy life more?  Then there's that old favourite: if you were told you were going to die in a day/month/year, what would you do in your remaining time?  Or, following in the footsteps of Dead Poet's Society: Carpe Diem!

Secondly, the woman in the image seems to be well-to-do - she wears nice clothes and has a large mirror in her dressing room, as well as plenty of lotions and potions.  Nevertheless, the other perspective is that all this is a dead skull, empty and dry.  Are you trapped living a superficial life, enjoying material comforts?  Have you found a spiritual purpose to your life?  If this were a song lyric, it's be Bjork's "There's gotta be more to life than this, there's gotta be more to life!" 

Thirdly, the fact that this is an ambiguous figure begs the question: what do you feel ambivalent about?  What in your life is not as it seems?  How can you be more honest with yourself and with others?

Fourthly, more in the ancient tradition, there is the sense of pride coming before a fall.  This strikes me as being similar to some of the darker, or reversed, interpretations of the Wheel of Fortune.  If you are riding high, know that you won't be young/successful/beautiful forever.  So, what can you do to prepare for the future?  Can you remain humble and generous towards others?  Likewise, if you are envious of someone else's success/beauty/youth, know that these things pass, and appreciate what you do have.

I'd love to hear what other interpretations people have for this card!

Image taken from: