Monday, 31 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Three of Swords

The Victorian Romantic seems to have a dark sense of humour.  This time my daily draw card for affirmations is the Three of Swords.

A woman stands in the foreground, head in her hand.  A brisk wind blows her cape around her.  At her side a dog nestles against her, getting and giving support?  Behind her we see a soldier riding away - her love leaving, or someone who has come to take over her town?  At her feet is a green bundle, I wonder if this contains her possessions, gathered quickly in the face of danger?

The affirmations I gain from this are:

I can hold pain, without it controlling me.

I take comfort where I find it.

I leave behind old habits, taking with me only what I need.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations The Tower

Today the Victorian Romantic has thrown down the gauntlet.  My card of the day from which to create affirmations is the Tower.

Two people are half tied, half clinging to the wreckage of a ship.  Around them waves crest white, powerful and threatening.  A storm rages around them, lightning slicing the sky, wind blowing clouds through the night.

So, what can I come up with as affirmations here?

I ride out any storms that appear in my life.

I hold firm to the support I have.

I am resourceful in the face of life's challenges.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Citta Vrtti Nirodhah

This is one of the first of Patanjali's sutras that any student of yoga is likely to hear.  Breaking it down, we have:
Citta - mind/consciousness
Vrtti - austerity/religious vow - mode of operating
Nirodhah - restriction - stoppage

The most basic translation of this aphorism is that yoga is the stilling of the mind.  Another translation that fits well with traditional ideas is "Yoga is the mastery of the activities of the mind" from

In many yoga classes, this concept may be brought up when discussing the correct mental attitude to take while practising either yoga or meditation.  Instead of thinking about what to buy for dinner, or who we are going to see later, or any of the myriad things that may run through our minds during the course of the day, the aim is to focus on breathing and just being in the posture and the place you are.

Another writer I really like, Alberto Villoldo, gives his translation as: "Yoga is vigilance, awareness, and stillness of mind."  It seems to me that this is somewhat less draconian.  You don't have to actively still your mind, to master it, but rather to be consistently aware and allow that stillness or peace to come.  For me, this echoes the concept of mindfulness which has become a real trend in most branches of psychotherapy and self-help.  It is also something recommended by many weight loss experts these days, too - eating mindfully, rather than while doing something else.

I decided to draw just one card to answer: what will help me achieve this state?  Taking a card from the Gaian Tarot, the response was the Ace of Fire.

A salamander baby pokes its head out from its egg.  Other eggs around it are still intact, but a flame burns around them, warming and hatching them.

I see this little salamander peering out curiously into the world.  As an Ace, it represents beginnings, seeds.  As a card from the  suit of Fire, it highlights enthusiasm, passion.  So, not taking anything for granted and just being curious, allowing the practice itself to light my fire and inspire me.  Perhaps also a message about not trying to be perfect, not forcing or mastering, but accepting that I am still at the beginning of this path.

Do you struggle to calm your mind?  Try drawing a card to see what would help you find that inner calm today, and let us know what you get :-)

Images: the Hermit from the Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti, and Ace of Fire from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.

Daily Draw Affirmations The Hermit

Once again drawing from the Victorian Romantic (Russian Edition - in case you didn't notice the weird title at the bottom of the card), today's card is the Hermit.

A very old man with a long white beard sits on a rocky shoreline.  In one arm he holds a scythe, while the other hand holds an hourglass.  The waters he looks out across are calm, while the rock he sits on is green and algae-coated.

Affirmations based on this card:

I take the time I need.

I meditate on life.

I enjoy my own company.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Stylish-BloggerThis morning I was absolutely delighted to see that Janet Boyer had chosen me for a stylish blogger award.  I've been using Janet's reviews for years to decide whether or not to buy a particular tarot or oracle deck, as they are always useful and well-illustrated.  And now she and Gina Pace are blogging at Tarot Gals, which I love reading!  So, I was over-the-moon to know that Janet has read my blog and liked it - thank you!

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:
*Thank and link to the person who awarded you this award
*Share 7 things about yourself
*Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers
*Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

7 things about myself:

1) In case it's not obvious, I'm a tarot-aholic ;-)
2) I speak four languages.
3) This year sees me turn 40 - eek...
4) After my dreams last week, I now haven't eaten chocolate for over a week, nor substituted it with agave, biscuits, carob or anything else - a lifetime first!
5) My son turned 3 this month - what a sweetie :-)
6) My favourite kind of yoga is Vinyasa.
7) I love interesting twitter challenges such as #tarotToo #tarotfun #amtarot #pmtarot.

The bloggers I'm choosing for this Stylish Blogger Award are:

1) Hestia's Larder - for being hilarious ;-D
2) Rowan Pendragon with One Witchs Way- a lovely Wiccan blog.
3) Venus does Mars - sex, tarot and astrology - a heady mix, not for under 18's ;-)
4) What on Earth Books - an English academic with a fascinating perspective on history and life, very readable.
5) The Yoga Tree - a thoughtful yoga blog.
6) This firm do fabulous yoga videos to practise with, to learn from and to watch in awe!  The blog is also insightful and fun: The Sacred Cow.
7) Deeply insightful, but with a great sense of humour, I consider Stephanie Arwen Lynch an absolute must-read: Tarot by Arwen.
8) Another tarot great, Barbara Moore: Practical Tarot.
9) I'm really glad to see the return of 78 Whispers in My Ear, thanks for starting up again Manda! And I'm so jealous you've already got your Tarot of the Sidhe, here they aren't delivering til March :-(
10) Although they're currently having a holiday hiatus, I just adore Helen and Zanna's Tarot Notes blog!

Happy blogging, folks!

Daily Draw Affirmations Five of Wands

Using the Victorian Romantic Tarot, I drew a card for the day.  This time the card is the Five of Wands.

In this deck, the image for this card shows five men in ragged clothes and shoes made of tied on cloth, though three of them do sport hats.  One bares his chest, as though in challenge to another, while a third seems to hold him back.

My affirmations based on this image are:

I face challenges with courage.

I feel brave and strong.

Conflict brings opportunities.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Ten of Cups

Drawing from the recently released Russian Edition of the Victorian Romantic Tarot, my card for today is the Ten of Cups.

Here I see people coming to welcome a new child to the world.  There is a festive air to the occasion, and everyone looks happy.  The woman holding the baby is dressed in very fine clothes, but some of those coming to visit seem to wear plainer colours, less luxurious materials.

My affirmations based on this card are:

I welcome new possibilities into my life.

I feel joy at other's good fortune.

I love and am loved.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Ten of Pentacles

This time the Infinite Visions Tarot has produced the Ten of Pentacles.

This is often seen as a card of prosperity, inheritance, and family.  Here, too, we see three generations, all looking well fed.  The decor is sumptuous, as are their clothes.  In front of the principle characters is a gleaming silver pot overflowing with treasures.  Behind them is a painting of a castle in a bucolic landscape.  The young child on the floor is holding a scroll of some kind.

Some affirmations that come to mind here are:

I acknowledge the abundance in my life.

I am grateful for my family.

Every day I learn from my son.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Judgement

Today's affirmations are inspired by the Judgement card, drawn from the Infinite Visions Tarot.

Here we see a tired-looking warrior astride a white horse.  Man and horse stand, somewhat forlorn, in front of a gravestone.  Beside the stone lies a skull, while over the grave floats the ghost of a warrior, shining with reflected light from the bright sun high above.  Is the ghost a friend lost in battle, or an enemy defeated, whose brave spirit calls to him still?

My affirmations today are:

I acknowledge and let go of past hurts.

I am ready to move on. 

I learn from past mistakes.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Tarot journey into yogic philosophy 9 - swadhyaya

Returning once more to this series of posts examining aspects of yogic philosophy through the lens of tarot, I turn now to the fourth niyama or "code for living soulfully" as Donna Farhi names them.

The Hermit fits well with both interpretations given to swadhyaya, that of studying traditional texts and that of looking inward to study oneself. The Hermit is sometimes seen as the Wise Old Man archetype, that part of ourself that holds traditional knowledge, but not in the institutional, controlling way of the Hierophant. The Hermit studies for himself, not for a piece of paper or for social acceptance. Similarly, the wise one in a cave distances himself from society to see himself more clearly.

Donna Farhi discusses swadhyaya in terms of any activity that encourages self-reflection, be that blogging, art, academic study, or meditation.  However, she warns to beware of harshly judging any flaws found during this process - wisdom accepts weaknesses and strengths both as part of a whole person.

It's an interesting coincidence that swadhyaya is the ninth of the ethical precepts, just as the Hermit is number nine of the Major Arcana.  However, I won't read too much into that.

This precept seems very relevant to me at the moment, given that I'm studying psychotherapy, which combines academic learning and self-reflective examination.  Nevertheless, I still decided to explore this more deeply through drawing a card from the Gaian Tarot to represent what I need to know about this aspect of my life right now.

The card I drew was the Six of Water.  Here we see five women in a circle in calm water, a seal joining in behind them.  There is a sense of being in touch with the flow of life, and with the emotions that underpin it.  This wisdom is shared by people and animals alike, each learning from the other and sharing joyously.

This says to me that I can learn a lot about myself through being with others.  This echoes interestingly with the concept of validation espoused in existential thought.  Traditional existentialists say that we can never fully experience ourselves, because our experiencing lags behind our being, and thus we need to be witnessed and validated by another.  However, I find more convincing the discussion by Peter Philippson, who highlights that it is only when dancing with another that the dance can lead us places that neither has been to before either alone or with any other individual.  So, it is with others who are also individuals that we can best explore what that means, and experiment to create something new - a bit of me and a bit of you, and wholly different.

While seeming quite different to the solitary Hermit, this is still a path of self-discovery so long as I maintain the desire to understand and reflect on where I am within this choreography that is life.  This fits well, too, with my current course as we not only have to work with clients, but also take part in an experiential group.  Here's to learning from others to better understand myself.

Images: IX - The Hermit from the Gilded Tarot and the Six of Water from the Gaian Tarot.

Daily Draw Affirmations The Magician

Still drawing from the Infinite Visions Tarot by Gloria Jean, today's card is the Magician.

This card feels incredibly powerful.  I love the look of the sky behind him, and the lightning he channels down from the heavens and into the earth.  The stars shine brightly, and light shines brightly from gaps in the clouds.  Around him are symbols of the four elements: the cup for water, the rock for earth, the brazier for fire, and the smoke floating up from it for air.  A bird flies above him, a messenger from spirit, or a witness to his magic.

My affirmations today are:

I am filled with the light of the Universe.

I manifest my true will.

I hear the messages of spirit.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Two of Cups

It seems the Infinite Visions Tarot is calling to me still.  Today I have drawn the Two of Cups.

I see a man and a woman in an inside courtyard, looking out over a town.  Around them grow vines, and she sits on a fur rug on an inner wall, holding a flower, while he leans next to her.  They need no words, just enjoying one another's company.

My affirmations from this are:

I love myself and those around me.

I see myself through the loving eyes of spirit.

I am protected and nurtured. 

I am filled with passion and contentment.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Page of Swords

Once again I drew a card from the Infinite Visions Tarot, and today received the Page of Swords.

The Page of Swords is seen by some people as being a spy, or just someone gossipy and sneaky.  However, I have always seen this card more as being about having an interest in trying out new ideas and new technologies.  I love the way he holds aloft a pair of binoculars - delightfully jarring and cheeky.  His sword also seems to be buried in the stone, reminiscent of the tale of King Arthur.  The scenery behind him, however, looks jungle-like or perhaps pre-historic.

The affirmations I chose based on this are:

I see beyond my current situation to where I want to be.

New ideas replace the old, bringing positivity.

I see clearly, cutting through old ideas.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Dreams and Intuition

Yesterday's #amtarot was the High Priestess.  I tweeted: "Why are you asking ME? YOU already hold the answer." What not to say to a paying customer, even though it's true ;)

I've had a few clients where this has come up: a woman asking about her relationship, who thought her partner might be cheating on her; a man asking about a career change; a woman looking to move house.  This time, however, it was me that was asking others for the answers I already hold.

I've been reading Andrea Albright's ebook, and a little pamphlet given for free by Bill Phillips, both about weight loss as part of a healthy lifestyle rather than a diet.  But really, I know myself, my lifestyle and I know about healthy eating.  After all, last year I trained with Deanne Jade of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, and I've been practising yoga for nearly 20 years!  I use a static bike for cardio, and am a trained yoga teacher and pilates instructor.

So, after I'd tweeted on the High Priestess, I went to bed, and I dreamed.

1) I dreamt I was in a little cottage, and I had all the windows open, with the curtains billowing, so that spirit could talk to me.  I was working magic, and within the garden and house the weather was warmer and kinder than outside.  It was as though, while I was doing what I needed to do, everything was made easier.

When I got up from this dream I knew that, if I follow spirit I will have the strength to beat my cravings.  I cancelled my membership of the Hotel Chocolat Chocolate Tasting Club (those chocolates are seriously good, and fair trade).  And I started on a kitchen make-over as suggested by Bill Phillips, getting rid of all junk food, which in my case mainly means chocolate and biscuits.

I have also created a Star altar, the Star card being one of hope and spiritual guidance.  Having a physical reminder of the support that is available to me, through other people and through spirit, will help me on this journey.

2)  And again I dreamed, in a cottage, but this time with all the doors and windows locked to keep out a dangerous sprite.  Someone who had a key came in, and accidentally let the polluting sprite in.  It touched some things, making them start to turn black and poisonous.  I went around and touched everything.  In some places I touched crumbs and then scattered them around, so that through them my touch would reach into even the smallest spaces.  With the poisonous things the sprite had touched, I bashed them with a little hammer, and they returned to how they had been.  When I had touched everything, the sprite could no longer harm or pollute anything.

My interpretation here is that the wicked sprite is modern obesogenic society.  Walking down the street we are bombarded with shops filled with unhealthy but tasty food, adverts selling junk food, other people eating chocolate and crisps on the go.  It sometimes feels so hard to ignore all of this in favour of eating healthily.

From this, the message I get is that if I can touch all aspects of my life with awareness and with hope then cravings and doubts will no longer be able to poison my mind. This process may take some time, and may seem to create a mess in my life (the crumbs), but it will work in the long run.  

I feel this is something I've already started.  After Deanne Jade's course last year I changed the way I eat, trying to eat little and often, more protein and more fresh fruit and vegetables.  However, so far this has led me to put on a bit of weight rather than lose it!  I think this is because I haven't sufficiently changed the size of my main meals, just added in some small snacks.  And also because chocolate still rules my life.

So, I shall continue to work with affirmations and gratitude to try to bring hope to my mind.  And I will make time again for a regular meditation practice, which has been pretty spotty of late.  With these things, I hope to increase my awareness and bring more positivity into my life.

Some affirmations came to mind, too:

The breath of spirit blows away my cravings.
I fill my life with mindfulness and hope.

I'd be glad to hear what others make of these dreams...

Images from the Gaian Tarot © Joanna Powell Colbert.

Daily Draw Affirmations Eight of Cups

Here we see the Eight of Cups from the Infinite Visions Tarot.  

A knight on horseback rides out through a brick entrance, leaving behind him a stairway with eight cups.  I am captivated by the little dragon on the top of the banister.  The knight wears a red cloak and a silver helmet, and carries a golden flag.  I also notice the pretty pink flowers growing up the wall.

Based on this card my affirmations for today are:

I am leaving behind poisonous emotions.

I am moving towards spirit.

Love grows in me day by day.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Nine of Wands

My card for today is drawn from the Infinite Visions Tarot a beautiful, self-published deck by tarot reader and artist Gloria Jean.

In this Nine of Wands we see a few soldiers on horseback looking down on a hoard of attackers.  Although the number of enemies seems overwhelming, they do not have the benefit of horses, nor of the high ground.  The foregrounded character wears gold and red, indicating enlightenment, groundedness and dynamism.  He carries a shield with three lions for strength and nobility.

So my affirmations based on this card are:

I meet challenges from a position of strength.

I see beyond attacking thoughts.

I release negativity and defensiveness.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Positive thinking and health

I've been reading Andrea Albright's book "Amazing Body Now".  One interesting thing that she talks about is her notion of there being four pillars that support us in becoming healthy: the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Firstly, this fits well with some interpretations of the four tarot suits: Pentacles/Earth for the physical, Cups/Water for the emotional, Swords/Air for the mental, and Wands/Fire for the spiritual.  Although I normally see the Majors as being more about spirit, and Wands being about values and action, I can also see the idea of Wands representing our spiritual path expressed in the everyday precisely through our actions, and guided by our values.

The second connection I made was to a reading I did near the end of last year - the Go For Your Goal Spread.  My goal was weight loss, precisely what Andrea writes about, and in the position of what will help me commit emotionally to this goal I got the Four of Rods (Wands).  From the Hezicos Tarot, the particular image shows a house filled with love, supported on four columns.  Seeing the body as a temple, the home of spirit (Wands), this can also be interpreted as; by seeing my body as something to love, and by supporting myself through these four pillars, I will help myself commit to the goal of losing weight.

Because this is one of Andrea's claims, that by focusing on becoming healthy through all four planes not only will we become happier, more flexible people, but as a side-effect we will lose weight.

In support of these goals, her first suggested step is to increase our self-acceptance by watching our thoughts, and whenever we notice self-attacking or negative thoughts, consciously creating an affirmation or positive thought.  So, I've decided to do a daily draw and use the card to inspire affirmations for each day.  By having a beautiful card image and one or more positive affirmations posted on my blog where I can look at them throughout the day, I hope to support myself in thinking more positively.  And I hope these images and affirmations may serve to bring a happier attitude to others, too.

There will certainly be a challenge here.  Not all tarot cards lend themselves easily to an affirmation, though James Ricklef has been doing a marvelous job with his new "Spiritual Message of the Day" blog series.  Some readers see certain cards as being "negative", but I have always believed that there is both a dark and a light side to every card.  So, I will try to find that light side in whatever card I draw.

However, starting with something easy, here are some affirmations for the Hezicos 4 of Rods:
My body is a temple that I transform through love.
I support myself on every level.

Image from the Hezicos Tarot by Mary Griffin.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Creating Peace

I love Donnaleigh Delarose's speed tarot blog.  Every day she suggests questions or spreads to look at a particular aspect of life.  A few days ago she suggested drawing a card to answer: "What is one thing I can do to create peace?"  I was struck by the question.

Deciding to draw a card from the Gaian Tarot, by Joanna Powell Colbert, I received 7 - The Canoe.  This is Joanna's re-visioning of the Chariot in traditional decks, and was last month's card on the Gaian Tarot Circle forum.  It was also one of the only cards so far that I haven't done any of the exercises for!

Although I don't normally have any negative associations with this Major, the particular card has never appealed to me.  I think that's because of his expression (he looks kind of grumpy and determined to me), his location (heading away from land, towards the middle of nowhere, I'd feel lost and scared), and the fact that there are all these lovely creatures around him, but he only has eyes for what's ahead of him.  The whales seem to be playing alongside him, while he remains grimly determined to get where he's going.

Following the idea of determination and focus, of heading somewhere and knowing where you are going, my first response was to wonder what finding peace would actually look like to me.   

One part of it, I think, would be about feeling acceptance of a situation that the universe has thrown at me, that I cannot change and will not try to escape.  That last sentence took me a while to compose, because I originally thought "cannot change or escape" but the truth is there are ways I could escape it, but none of them are acceptable to me.  If I took any of those escape routes, I would be dead or else could never face myself again.  This situation is my burden to bear, and perhaps my challenge to find joy and acceptance in.  So, yes, making my peace with it is definitely part of what I'd include in Donnaleigh's question and thinking about it has made it clear that I do know where I want to be with it - right where I am, just a bit more accepting of it!

Another part is that I currently have three big plans/dreams for the year, or even the next 10-20 years of my life.  And I'm not sure if they are mutually compatible, if I can do and have them all.  Or perhaps, more honestly, I'm afraid of how much grit and determination it may take to achieve them all - I'm not sure I have the energy and the strength.  But because they are all long term plans, I can't do one now and another later.  If I'm to do them at all, I have to start now.  So maybe I need some of the Canoe paddler's focus.  To create peace in myself I need to work on my dreams to make them reality, even if that does require hard work over the coming months, maybe years.

However, when I see his expression of grim determination, I feel it's just that: grim.  The paddler seems to ignore the eagle above him, the salmon by the side of his canoe, and the whales swimming alongside him.  A second message, then, is not to make the same mistakes as he makes.  Focus is important, but without joy, what is the point of life?  So, I won't leave all fun behind just because I need to put in some hard work.  After all, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, right? 

Hopefully this reading will serve as a reminder that I can achieve my destination if I keep it clearly in sight and put effort into it.  And that I should keep an eye open for fun along the way.  Doing both things will bring me peace and joy in the long run.

Image from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

What tarot card best represents yoga?

Inspired by one of Donnaleigh Delarose's recent tweets, I started thinking about which tarot card would best represent yoga.  The image that Donnaleigh had linked to was this.  I saw it as symbolizing the 4 of Swords because of that card's idea of taking a mental break, or denoting a retreat from the world.  Still, it got me thinking, and after my morning practice my mind moved in different directions.  The 4 of Swords illustrates well the meditative side of yoga, but what of the physical practice?

Several writers and deck creators have associated the Hanged Man (under various names and guises) with yoga. Notable amongst these is the beautiful "Tree" image from the Gaian Tarot.  I think this association is due to the Hanged Man depicting getting a different perspective on things (which you certainly do when you see the world upside down, for instance).  Also, the Hanged Man is like a 4 of Swords writ large - a time out from the everyday.

Another possible candidate would be the World, sometimes called the World Dancer.  Expressing completion and perfection, I see it perhaps being better suited to enlightenment, rather than the more mundane day-to-day practice of yoga.

In fact, a case could probably be made for many different tarot cards to represent aspects of yoga.  The Page of Pentacles, for example, has often come up for me with regard to yoga because of it's association with learning, physicality and spirituality (based on Rachel Pollack's take on Pentacles embodying the spiritual as expressed through the physical).  The Star exemplifies the flow of life, prana and breath, and the generosity and hope that can be found in practising yoga. 

However, if I were to choose a single card that for me best defines all that is yoga, my choice goes to Temperance.  This card, although not beloved by all, does epitomize a balancing of opposing or differing forces.  This fits very well with yoga: a balancing of breathing in and breathing out; of lifting up and sinking down; of reaching out and focusing in; of movement and stillness; of strength and flexibility; of thought (which pose comes next?) and meditative clarity; of discipline and delight.  And when we take part in this balancing flow, we lift ourselves up on the wings of breath and transform ourselves, like the rainbow in the Gaian Tarot image of Temperance.

I'd love to hear what cards other people associate with tarot...

Images from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Faceless Ghosts

Twice in the last ten days I have pulled this card from the Oracle of Shadows and Light in my daily draw.  Given that I don't actually do a draw every day, it's more significant than it might at first sound.  I was a bit stymied by it the first time, but then I showed it to a friend who commented on it looking like spirits whispering in the girl's ears.

Suddenly I twigged, it's about those voices, often from the past, telling me what I do is wrong, or could be better, or encouraging me to do things I know I shouldn't.  In Transactional Analysis, these would be the Inner Child and the Inner Parent.

For me, the voices that are calling strongly are the "shoulds" - I should be a better mother, I should eat healthily all the time, I should be nice to everyone, I should be perfect (yeah right, realistic huh?)  And also the "wants" - I want to eat chocolate right now, I want to have some time to play, I want to sleep.

If I allow these voices to take over, then I really will be haunted!  What to do, then?  Perhaps become aware that these are faceless ghosts, dead masks that I am breathing life into.  If I refuse to do so, they will disappear. 

Clearly, this is a question of things that I am often not very conscious of.  So, bringing greater awareness to these voices, acknowledging when they are speaking to me, and then saying to myself, "This is a ghost.  It has no power over me."  Well, it's worth a try...

Image from the Oracle of Shadows and Light by Lucy Cavendish & Jasmine Becket-Griffith.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Capitalism and spirituality

I've been feeling a bit strange about my addiction to tarot of late.  Previously it manifested in a severe case of one-clickety-itus when it came to new deck purchases.  Back in 2010, however, it moved in a different direction, as I joined the Gaian Tarot Circle.

On the one hand, this is a lovely, friendly group dedicated to studying the Gaian Tarot, sharing learning and insights with one another, and trying to support our beautiful planet.  On the other, it is quite expensive (well TABI, the only other Tarot group I'm a part of, costs about one tenth as much).

And this isn't the only case in point.  Aeclectic now has a membership fee, with special privileges attached.  Likewise, there's Tarot Town where you have to pay a fee to be a full Citizen.

Now, there's no denying that these sites have some fabulous content, and that everyone needs to make a living in our society.  And of course, being a tarot lover, there's a part of me that is happy for my money to go to people and projects that I think are interesting and beautiful.  Still, there is a bit of me that wonders about both those that sell tarot in one way or another, and those that buy it.  Perhaps it's a feeling that something spiritual shouldn't be just another commodity...

I have had similar issues with yoga.  As a teacher, of course, I needed to make a living so didn't just offer free classes.  From the other side of the fence, most people just take classes, and the more capitalist side comes out in things such as multi-class offers and, especially, the yoga shop at the front desk where you can buy ridiculously-expensive-but-lovely yoga clothes, interesting books, DVD's, cards, chimes etc.

Compared to just buying tarot decks, in some ways I prefer the tarot communities where you are part of something, learning and growing.  In other ways, putting a price on belonging feels rather cold.

So what do you think?  Can spirituality and capitalism happily cohabit?  Or is something lost in the process?

Image: Six of Earth from Joanna Powell Colbert's Gaian Tarot.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Transparent Oracle New Year Reading

For the New Year, I decided to do another reading with Emily Carding's Transparent Oracle.  The cards I drew were:

61 - Gateway: Self from Within
38 - Guide: Owl from North
58 - Grail Hollows: The Spear from Below

The underlying card, Self, feels like one of knowing that I can act.  It reminds me a little of the Magician in tarot.  The face has closed eyes and open hands with swirls on the palms.  With respect to this card, Emily Carding talks of manifestation of the soul and personality and says that: "to experience existence as this self is the reason we are incarnate here in this body."  So, perhaps a message about taking time to look at my soul purpose at this time, and choosing what I want to manifest.

On top of that, Owl shows three owls in flight, wise eyes open, wings spread.  The owl is a symbol of wisdom, and also a predator.  The owl can see in the dark, but can also spin its head around 360º.  So, the owl can see things that are normally invisible to us - those things hidden by shadow, those things behind us, and things that are in the distance or hidden in the undergrowth.  Keywords from Emily Carding include both Perception and Detachment.  In order to see my soul's purpose for the year to come, I need to get some perspective on my situation and all that is around me, seeing clearly and wisely.  This sense of observation and detachment fits quite well with my sense of trying to approach people and events from a phenomenological basis - bracketing my own assumptions so that I can truly see what is going on, and not jumping in with my own values, but allowing what is most important to emerge organically.

Finally, The Spear, crossing the image horizontally, pointing to the left.  The spear echoes the Ace of Wands in tarot, yet the fact that it is horizontal rather than upright changes the feel quite a bit.  For me, it feels stronger and more protective, rather than inspiring.  Emily Carding associates this card with Destiny, Focus, Challenge and Sacrifice, relating it to the spear that pierced Jesus' side, Odin's spear with which he pierced himself to hang on Yggdrasil, The World Tree, and the spear which injured the Wounded King of Arthurian Legend - a wound from which only the same spear can cure the sufferer.   The ideas here, then, seem to be about having to sacrifice something, to cut out what is not healthful, in order to move forward with renewed focus and meet the challenges of my soul's purpose.

Overlaying these cards, the image I see is a harmonious, dynamic one.  The woman's face now becomes an owl, and her hands expand into wings.  She can see into past and future, into the dark depths of the soul, and is able to manifest her purpose and take flight into the unknown. The spear acts as a protection, and also divides above and below, with the owl-woman at the top able to rise above with powerful wing strokes, supported by the knowledge and wisdom of her "below" aspects.

Based on Emily's meanings, this seems a strong but challenging combination of energies.  There is a need to be detached and observe what is truly necessary, which may include some self sacrifice and cutting out things that are not working.  My intuitive reading was somewhat more energetic and safe - feeling protected by the spear, able to rise above problems and see clearly.  It will be interesting to see how these energies reveal themselves over the coming year...

What do you see in this image?  And what do you make of Emily's meanings?  I'd love to hear other interpretations and ideas.

Image: overlay of 61, 38 and 58 from Emily Carding's Transparent Oracle.