Monday, 28 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Dreamer Two

I continue to delight in the images from Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe, even when they are somewhat ambivalent.

Today's card is the Dreamer Two, traditionally the Two of Swords.  Here we see a pointy-eared spirit embodied in the moon.  One half is white, the other black - a single mind split asunder.  Below the moon flies a magpie, heading straight for us out of the card.  Mountains slope gently in to the centre of the card, rising through clouds.  Energetic swirls spin away from the moon spirit.

The sense of one mind drawn in two different directions is strong.  These are polarities, not just two paths heading roughly the same way, but light and dark, yes and no, day and night.  The card is subtitled Half-Moon Truce.  So, there is a balance here between both sides, the chance to call a truce rather than fight.  One message I see is not to let the truce turn into a stalemate, to take this time of balance to find a compromise so that forward movement becomes possible - the magpie wears balanced stripes of dark and light.

My gratitudes:

I am grateful for people who can see both sides of an argument.

I am thankful for the moments of calm in life, even when it is the calm before the storm.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Dreamer Nine

A rather darker image from the Tarot of the Sidhe by Emily Carding for today's card.

In the Dreamer Nine we see a nightmare landscape, as proclaimed by the subtitle.  A clawed hand rises on a puff of breath from a woman's face.  The hand drips blood and has already scratched her once, from nose to jaw.  At second glance, the woman appears to be part of the landscape, part of a chain of mountains, all dripped in blood perhaps from the light of the moon.  From the woman's eye a rain of tears turns into a path, but all those on it are struck down, lying on the floor, on their knees or, the furthest from the woman, dropping sword and clutching their head.  The full moon behind the mountain-woman seems sickly, pale green.  Encircled in red, the blood moon shines, while further out a purple circle or explosion lends added darkness to the scene.

What to make of this in terms of gratitudes?

I am grateful for the times I sleep calmly.

I am thankful that the worst things that happen to me are imaginings, not true calamities.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Dancer Queen

Still drawing from the magical Tarot of the Sidhe by Emily Carding, today's card is the Dancer Queen.

Equivalent in traditional systems to the Queen of Cups, this lady's connection with water is more than apparent in this version of the card.  A female figure stands in a pool of water, with wave-like clouds behind her.  She seems to be the source of the water around her: her hands - thumbs touching pointing up, and index fingers touching pointing down - are held in front of her heart, and from them spills water.  This makes me think of generosity, a continual flow of emotion.  Her hair sways above her like seaweed, and a conch shell decorates her forehead, above a crescent moon symbol.  The suggestion I see is that even her head, her mind, is emotionally directed.  Spirals cover the visible upper part of her body, green like life.  The tableau in which she finds herself is encircled by a bright, swirling starscape - the depths of the void from which all life springs.  The card is subtitled the Gift of Truth - her truth is an emotional one.  Such truths can also be hard to hear, but less so when spoken from the heart and with empathy.

My gratitudes based on this card are:

I am grateful for the emotional generosity of those around me.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share emotional connection with others.

I am grateful for the many wonders of the universe.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Warrior Queen

Drawing again from the Tarot of the Sidhe by the delightfully creative Emily Carding, today's card is titled Warrior Queen, traditionally the Queen of Wands.

A female figure stands on a rock in the centre of a bay, around her the water is tinted red and orange, mirroring the energy that streams off this Warrior Queen.  Birds seem to emanate from her, flying off in all directions, and her dress dances about her like red streamers in the wind.  She appears to be blindfolded, yet in touch with everything through the energy that she spreads around her, and through the birds who can act as her eyes, seeing with perspective and going everywhere and anywhere.

This card is subtitled the Gift of Charm.  Perhaps because she can charm the very birds from the skies :-)  She certainly radiates warmth and vitality, and the birds as messengers and communicators suggest she speaks lyrically, melodically.

This reminds me of a card from Rachel Pollack's Shining Tribe Tarot, the Seven of Birds.  In that card, Rachel describes the way in which Australian Aborigines sang their territories, memorising songs detailing all the land and its features that "belonged" to their tribe.  From this she concludes that we can try to make our message both clear and pleasant to hear.  And isn't that part of what charm is about - persuading others through our words?

My gratitudes:

I am thankful for the strong, communicative women in my life.

I am grateful for feeling energetic and vital.

I am thankful for my ability to communicate with others.

Images: Warrior Queen from the Tarot of the Sidhe and 7 of Birds from Shining Tribe Tarot.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Dancer Two

Starting a new week of gratitudes (why my daily draw week starts on Thursday is such a ridiculously long story that I won't bother you with it), I turn to the newly arrived Tarot of the Sidhe (pronounced Shee) by Emily Carding.

The first card I drew for this daily gratitude practice was the same as the card I got in the spirit position of my Elemental Spread reading earlier this week - the Dancer Two.  Equivalent to the Two of Cups in more traditional decks, I find this image very beautiful.  Two figures rise up from foaming water, seeming to merge into one another.  They stand back to back, one male one female, touching at their heads, as well as at both hands and down their legs.  In front of them a rainbow forms in the spray around them, and two golden fish jump playfully to either side of them.  They are framed by a full moon directly behind them, with mountain peaks to either side, and a star-filled sky above.

The gratitudes I base on this are:

I am grateful for the love and understanding I give to and receive from my close family and friends.

I am thankful for the opportunity to try to emotionally connect with different people.

I am grateful that I can find joy and self-acceptance through love and sharing.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Ace of Pentacles

Another lovely card from the Universal Fantasy Tarot brings this week of daily draws to a close.

This Ace of Pentacles is rather non-traditional.  A huge air-ship, with a balloon partially enclosed by a metal support with five circles on it, challenges ideas of earthiness normally associated with this card.  Below the balloon people stand and gaze out from an open-sided, circular metal "ship".  Flags fly front and back.  Certainly, if the suit of Pentacles is associated with the physical, material aspects of the world, from up there the people must be getting a very different perspective.

So, what gratitudes to associate with this card?

I am grateful for the new sense of health and well-being that has entered my life.

I am thankful for the perspective I am gaining on my physical world.

I am grateful for the new directions I see in my daily life.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Elemental Spread with Tarot of the Sidhe

Having just received my copy of this beautiful deck by Emily Carding, ordered back in July 2010, I couldn't wait to give it a little test run.  I decided to do an Elemental Spread reading on my current work situation, having started seeing clients for counselling back in November.  I drew one card each for fire/action, water/emotion, air/mind, earth/practicalities, spirit/overarching message.

In the fire position the card that came up was The Dancer, equivalent in traditional decks to the Ace of Cups.  Interestingly, if you reverse this card the image becomes very close to the traditional image of an overflowing cup, with the elemental sign of water on it.  However, right way up what I see is a female figure rising from the water, growing from it almost, and dancing, balancing on one leg.  She is framed by a full moon, and from her head sprout green branches, suggesting growth.  Life and growth come from being at one with emotion seems to be the message here.  How, then, does this relate to the spread.  I normally read this position as examining "What action do I need to take?" and so the response seems to be that I need to be more at one with emotions - mine and those of others - acknowledging, accepting, even delighting in them.  There is no such thing as a bad emotion, this says to me, just one that may be more difficult to process, to connect with.  But they can all lead to growth.  It seems somewhat antithetical to say that my "action" should be to feel more, but it reminds me of something Klein said about needing to know rather than simply know about - a sense of experiencing rather than analysing.  This also chimes with something my supervisor said today about needing to stay with emotion when I am with clients, and not get drawn into distracting practicalities. 

In the water position I got the Warrior Prince, equivalent to the Knight of Wands.  I love the fact that the court cards are all subtitled with their particular "gift", in this case the Gift of Spirit.  This Prince seems to run across a field of fire, a blood red sun shining behind him.  He charges ahead with passion and determination.  In answer to "What do I need to do on an emotional level?" he seems to say that I need to follow my passion, to brave emotions with determination and enthusiasm.  If I can face emotions without feeling overwhelmed, I can model this for others.  Perhaps also a sense that, emotionally, I need to have the strength to withstand whatever comes.

It's interesting that I had a water card in the fire position and vice versa.  These are often seen, in terms of elemental dignities, to be antithetical.  However, working in an emotional area, this mixing of action and emotion, of fire and water, seems quite appropriate to me.

In the air position another court card, this time the Dreamer King or King of Swords.  So, finally a card that matches its elemental position...  A figure with a dragon-like headdress rides a silver dragon and holds aloft a sword.  The hilt of the sword forms an eye, which held in this position creates a third eye on the King's forehead.  His golden cape flows out behind him as he rides, and he is framed by a full moon.

In this spread, I see this position representing "What do I need to know about thought?"  Subtitled the Gift of Judgement, this card suggests to me that I need to bring clarity and decisiveness to my thoughts, and perhaps those of others.  No wishy-washyness here, logic is brought to the fore: the assessing of pros and cons, and then taking necessary action.  However, this logic must be tempered by intuition - the mind is not purely the everyday thoughts and rationalisations we have and make, it also includes an intuitive side, that third eye, that sees beyond the obvious.  This aspect must be included in any overview of the situation, it is also a part of knowing.  How can this be accessed?  The moon behind and the sword pointed straight up suggest to me meditation - honing ideas through insight.

In the earth position, another fire card: the Warrior Nine or Nine of Wands.  This card feels far more positive than its traditional equivalent.  In it we see a being enclosed in what seem to me like dragon wings, somewhere between feathers and scales, which wrap around him twice.  His head has three candle-like protrusions, and on his forehead is a seven-pointed star.  Around him seems to be a circle of ice, but he is protected from it by his wings.  He stands in what looks like a space scene, encircled by green and pink rocks, with a back drop of stars.

This card feels very etheric to me.  It is subtitled Guardian, and the figure seems to protect not only himself, but perhaps the very fabric of the universe.  In terms of this spread, I would see this answering "What do I need to manifest?" and the response is that I need to create clear, firm boundaries when working in such an emotional area.  These protect not just myself, but also those I counsel.  In an area that can feel very open, even vulnerable, I need to take care of myself and others, by creating a protected space for sharing emotion.

Finally, in the position of spirit, the overarching message of what energy I need to bring into or express in my life and work.  The card here is the Dancer Two, or Two of Cups.  Subtitled Soulmates, it shows two beings of water who are joined in substance.  Although back to back, they seem to connect at every level.  The water from which they spring sports a rainbow, bridge to spirit, symbol of hope and connection.  To either side of them leaps a golden fish, while they are also framed by the moon and two mountain peaks.

I get a deep feeling of balance, unity and connection from this card, of emotions shared, of giving and receiving in equal measure.  My challenge therefore seems to be to help others, and myself, through connecting at a deep level.  This should happen in a way that is nurturing to both of us, and can lead to understanding and higher truths.  In terms of working therapeutically with clients - staying with emotion even when, like the full moon behind them, it feels like it may overwhelm - this emotional balance is not something easily achieved.  Still, doing so can bring great rewards in terms of increasing soul understanding and joy through deep emotional connection.  How to achieve this is suggested by the image, we have to have each other's back, to act from a place of trust as well as deep emotion, and not allow that emotion to overwhelm us.  I think part of that comes from being in it together - like a container of water, if two people are in it, they displace more water than one alone.  I also see a message of keeping things playful - like the fish leaping around the figures.  These are serious matters, but they are not necessarily helped by being serious.

Altogether I found this an interesting reading, and I find the cards very expressive and intuitive.  There is much to be learned here, and I feel this is a deck that I will be able to turn to time and again.

Daily Draw Gratitudes King of Cups

Today the Universal Fantasy Tarot offers up a court card on which to base gratitudes.

In the King of Cups we see a rather austere, bald figure wearing a trident crown.  He holds a scepter and a chalice, and sits on a very blocky throne.  In front and to the right of him is a creature that seems to be a cross between a snake and a dragon.  The seas around him rage, the water seeming to transform into the dark blue material that swathes around him, while behind him a ship sails on placid waters.  The sky is scarlet, a stark contrast to the pale green throne and greyish blue material.  I have the sense of someone battered by rough emotions, yet he seems impervious, even calm.  Perhaps strong emotions do not phase him, he feels able to weather them without being overwhelmed.

I am grateful for the men in my life who are willing to own their emotions.

I am thankful that my life contains both moments of high emotion and moments of calm.

I am grateful to be able to manage emotional situations when I face them.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes the Chariot

Still picking cards from the Universal Fantasy Tarot, I continue to delight in the colour and beauty of these images.

In the Chariot the foreground is dominated by three winged horses.  The furthest left is aquamarine, with a pink mane and white wings, the second is purple with a pale purple mane and light blue wings, the third is lilac with a light lilac mane and white wings.  Behind them rises an incredibly huge and ornate chariot.  At the centre of the structure is a female figure, which seems to be part of the chariot itself.  Her hands come out to either side of the pillars that enclose her.  All in all, she seems to be a decoration or design, rather than an actual person.

My gratitudes based on this card:

I am thankful that I feel supported rather than limited by the structure of my life.

I am grateful for the ability to explore new directions.

I am thankful that I have several different possibilities drawing me forward.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes: Seven of Wands

Drawing again from the Universal Fantasy Tarot, the more non-traditional aspects of this beautiful deck become apparent today.

This Seven of Wands shows two people riding bizarre beasts with heads that sprout wooden-looking branches.  One person sits astride an enormous creature, while the other rides a relatively tiny mount, though still capable of carrying a person.  Behind them rises a huge block, that looks like it may house people.  Is the rider on the ginormous wand-beast protecting the building from the second rider?  If so, it seems like overkill, suggesting excessive worry about a situation.

My gratitudes today:

I am grateful for the challenges that confront me, allowing me to grow and learn.

I am grateful for the perspective I gain on my own doubts and worries.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The World

For the third day, I am using the Universal Fantasy Tarot, though now for gratitudes.  This quixotic image comes courtesy of the World card.

A beautiful, naked woman seems to float above a medieval town.  She is surrounded by swirls of material, a combination of bi-coloured fabrics that seem to intertwine.  The colours are dark and light versions of green, blue and grey.  It seems almost as if it is the fabric that lifts the woman high into the sky.  She seems peaceful, almost entranced, despite her precarious position.

My gratitudes based on this card are:

I am grateful that spirit uplifts me.

I am grateful that I can allow myself to be vulnerable, trusting in the universe to take me where I need to go.

I am grateful for the perspective I have gained on life.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Ten of Pentacles

Having decided to move to drawing cards on which to base a daily practice of gratitude, I decided to remain with the Universal Fantasy Tarot.  With this Ten of Pentacles the fantastical artwork of Paolo Martinello continues to delight.

Two figures, a man and woman, stand at the top of a flight of stairs leading from a building out into a canyon, with mountains beyond.  A curtain is swept up and to the left, burgundy with gold pentacles.  In front of the curtain stand two somewhat sinister figures; a hooded man with an ornate wand, and a dwarf with pointed ears and intricate leather sandals.  The couple seem ready for their journey, with the man holding a walking stick and a backpack, the woman carrying a couple of smaller bags.

My gratitudes, then:

I am grateful for the adventures and journeys I can experience.

I am grateful for travelling through life accompanied by love.

I am grateful for the strength to ignore the whispers of those who wish me ill.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Affirmation for life

After my dreams back in January I decided to do daily draws on which to base affirmations.  In part this was because I understand the power of affirmations to guide us, to help keep us going when we are following a path that isn't always easy.  However, although I've enjoyed creating these affirmations, and read them regularly, I found that what was really working for me was a single, powerful affirmation.  This I repeated daily, unpacking each aspect of it differently each time to connect more deeply with it. This affirmation became my guiding light, my Star, that helps me through each day of living a better, more spiritually in tune life, following my intuition and hoping to transform myself.

It has now been a month since I ate any chocolate or biscuits, and I haven't replaced them with anything like agave syrup or fructose or carob.  My "sweets" are fruit, and I try to make each meal I eat (about 5-7 a day) combine protein and carbohydrates.  

Then, as I was writing another daily draw affirmation I suddenly paused to wonder which tarot cards I would pick for the affirmation I am using, rather than randomly selecting cards and creating affirmations around them.  So, this is what I came up with:

"I choose health, happiness and energy."

The first bit is that I choose - I could choose otherwise - and that this is a logical step, something I have considered and decided upon for good reasons.  For me, the Ace of Swords covers this nicely.  In the image I've chosen, taken from the Mystic Dreamer Tarot, we see a woman by the side of a huge sword embedded in a stone.  Where she touches the stone, light blossoms.  Above the sword is a red crown, indicative of life energy being concentrated in the head or crown.  This makes me think of pouring life energy into the crown chakra, our connection with the universe.

The second part is health.  For me, this is about health in all aspects of life.  Obviously the physical is the most basic, but true health is also about the mental, emotional and spiritual.  And it's definitely not just about looking good, though if I'm healthy I know my skin will be more radiant, my nails stronger, my hair shinier.  Move over L'Oreal, I'm worth more than a bottle of shampoo, I'm worth an entire healthy lifestyle.

Anyone who is into their tarot can probably already guess where I'm going with this: the Ace of Pentacles.  This card represents the purest essence of the physical, the manifest, of health.  In the image from the Mystic Dreamer Tarot we see a woman in the background leaving a garden, but looking back one last time at the pentacle wreathed in flowers on a pedestal of stones which has taught her all she needs to know to incorporate its strengths into her life.  She will carry that vibrancy with her wherever she goes, for good health isn't just something we find in the gym or in a health food store, it is a way of life.

The third aspect of my affirmation is happiness.  I choose to feel good about myself and my life.  One side of this is knowing that I am taking good care of myself.  My self-esteem is so much better now that I am not controlled by chocolate.  And I know that I am truly following my own guidance.  I've accepted help and information from a number of diet and fitness gurus (Andrea Albright, Bill Phillips and Tom Venuto in particular).  However, I take what they say with a pinch of salt.  I'm no longer going to buy into someone else's ideas wholesale.  What I do I must make my own, it has to be something I'm emotionally in tune with, otherwise it isn't mine and I won't be able to be lastingly happy following someone else's plan.

Another aspect of happiness is knowing that I am taking care of myself emotionally, too.  Instead of eating sweets for a brief sense of pleasure, I am truly listening to what I want and need, both in terms of food and exercise, but also emotionally.  For example, all three of the health experts I mentioned above have sections in their books on emotional strength, and on practising awareness, forgiveness and gratitude.  I am trying to cultivate happiness through these practices, and by appreciating my successes and seeing any slips as part of the process - as they say on, it's progress not perfection that counts.

All in all, the card that seems most appropriate here is the Ace of Cups.  This beautiful image from the Mystic Dreamer shows a dove above a crystal cup.  Water overflows from the cup, pouring down on the woman below, and the spray from it seems to create a rainbow.  There is such a sense of divine love in this card, a sense of the emotional abundance of life!  And the woman is embracing it fully, with no self-doubt getting in the way of her letting this emotion wash through and over her, cleansing her inside and out.

The final part of my affirmation is energy.  It's true that I feel much more energised now that I'm not sedating myself with chocolate and feeling heavy.  While I'm still tired (overactive three-year-olds will do that to a body) I do feel that I have more enthusiasm for life, more energy to run around after a little person, more joy in everything else I do.

The perfect card for this is clearly the Ace of Wands.  In the Mystic Dreamer version of this card we see a woman sitting in front of a rock.  While this may at first seem a very static pose, the rock behind her has been cleaved in two by a wand.  So, enough energy to slice a rock in two without even breaking a sweat or a nail :-)  I also like the crow that sits on the rock, a messenger of spirit watching over her.  In the background is a castle, a safe refuge for the end of the day when all challenges have been met.

So, having found my affirmation for the year, and maybe longer, what of my daily draws?  Another positive way to start each day is by expressing gratitude for the good things in our life, even including the challenges which make us stronger.  From now on, then, I shall do daily gratitude draws!

Images from the Mystic Dreamer Tarot.

Daily Draw Affirmations Five of Cups

This week's cards will be drawn from the Universal Fantasy Tarot, a deck published by Lo Scarabeo.   This is a slightly non-traditional deck, with a fantasy-based motif.  The colours are vibrant, the scenes somewhat surreal.

Today's card is the Five of Cups.  A man stands at a low window framed by pillars.  He wears an ornate, armoured-looking top which seems almost organic, with a flowing red tunic beneath.  Outside the window we see a vast, futuristic city and a high walkway, with carriages and people travelling along it.  Inside the room there are three over-turned cups; on the windowsill to his left, and behind and to the left of him.  To the right, on a chest, stand two full cups.  His pose is despondent, an air of heaviness surrounds him, yet he gazes out, and in the distance we see a lake and mountains.

My affirmations based on this card are:

I release the past and look to the future.

Opening to nature helps me tune into my emotions.

I leave behind difficult emotional situations and become more open.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Six of Pentacles

For this last day of drawing from the Housewives Tarot, the card is the Six of Pentacles.

A little boy in a devil (or perhaps imp) suit, holds one side of a huge plate.  The plate is painted with pentacles and leaves, and filled with sweets, biscuits and brownies.  In the background are two children in sheets with faces cut out - ghost costumes.  Clearly suggesting trick-or-treating at Halloween, this image is redolent with childhood beliefs about getting something for nothing, or being entitled.  However, perhaps it's good to sometimes just receive what we want, without having to fight for it.  Or do you connect more with the fantasied adult providing the plate of goodies?  Are you the generous person, always willing to give to others, providing them with simple joys?

What then of affirmations based on this image?  I came up with the following:

I give generously to others.

I am able to accept the gifts offered to me with a grateful heart.

Give and take are a dynamic balance in my life.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations The Chariot

The image presented to us today by the Housewives Tarot is a rather non-traditional Chariot.

Two women stand together in the foreground, bearing brown paper grocery bags.  One holds aloft a can labelled "Risk", and in her bag we can also see "Gain" and "Choice".  The other hefts a bag from which peeks a can of "Tarot" :-)  They seem to be discussing the "Risk", so this seems almost like a tarot reading in itself.  Behind them is an old-fashioned sedan, green with a brown stripe.  Not very elegant, but it looks like it'd get them home with all their shopping, and a bunch of kids, too!

Affirmations based on this card are:

I choose carefully as I move forward.

I am supported by good friends.

I use my intuition to plot my course through life's minefields.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations King of Wands

The card for today from the Housewives Tarot is one of the Courts - the King of Wands.

This handy chappy reclines on his chair with a stool for his legs, wearing a crown and a self-satisfied grin.  In one hand he clutches a spanner, while in the other he holds a device combining a number of tools.  These include a hoover, a dust-brush, a mop, and a rake.  Looks like he's organised himself well to make everything as easy as possible, leaving himself more time to do what he wants.

Affirmations from this image:

 I can relax, knowing all is taken care of.

I create ease and comfort in my life.

I manage my tasks and projects with confidence and panache.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Ace of Swords

The humorous Housewives Tarot today yields up the Ace of Swords.

A wedding-ringed hand wields a large knife as a multitude of different cakes and pies, with slices cut out of them, wind past.  Towards the front is a lemon meringue pie, then a pink-frosted sponge cake.  A little further back is a heart-decorated chocolate torte, a petit-fours-type cake, a chocolate-frosted sponge, and a carrot cake, as well as a coconut-dusted sponge.

So, what to make of this sweet feast?

I use discernment to remove what is unnecessary in my life.

I mindfully choose what I want, what I need, and what I let go.

I cut sugar out of my life.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Two of Cups

Today's card from the 1950's-style Housewives Tarot is the ever-romantic Two of Cups.

In this particular version we see two people, reminiscent of Doris Day and one of her movie beau's from the period.  The two stand a "decent" distance apart, hand in hand but in different glasses, which lean away from each other.  Still, they gaze at each other with joy and youthful innocence.  I find it somewhat disconcerting that, as they stand in glasses of punch, they seem to have no legs.

My affirmations based on this card, then, are:

I remain grounded even when emotions run high.

I love and am loved.

I feel joyful with my lover. 

I connect deeply with others while keeping a clear sense of myself.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Tarot journey into yogic philosophy 10 - Ishvarapranidhana

In this, the last in the series examining the yamas and niyamas of yoga through the lens of tarot, we turn to Ishvarapranidhana - surrender to the divine or celebration of the spiritual.

In yoga practice, as in life, there comes a time when it seems like we just can't get any further through our own efforts and resources.  Many teachers suggest that this is when we must surrender our ego, and allow things to happen rather than pushing and trying.  In this letting go of willing and forcing, suddenly something new arrives, taking us to a different level - higher or deeper, or just different.

In picking out the tarot card which I feel best represents this concept, I chose Judgement.  Traditional images often show an angel blowing a horn on the day of Judgement.  Some decks show instead a rebirth/reawakening.  Either way, I see the aspect of listening to a call from spirit, of being uplifted, and accepting with open arms a new, more spiritual way of being.

So, I drew a card from the Gaian Tarot to represent what I need to know about ishvarapranidhanic surrender. 

Ace of AirThe answer I received was the beautiful Ace of Air.  Here we see a butterfly dangling from some blossom (in my imagination it is cherry blossom, but I'm not great at recognising plants, so am happy to be corrected).  A pale blue sunny sky with wisps of white cloud hints at warmth to come.

As an Ace, this card speaks of new beginnings, perhaps surprisingly in this context.  However, I see the Ace of Air representing new ideas, and one thing about these is that they often entail letting go of the old.  This image certainly underscores that suggestion, with the symbolism of the butterfly which has released itself from its cocoon, from its old life as a caterpillar.

Just yesterday I was talking to someone about decluttering my life, so this rings a lot of bells.  I was thinking about clearing out my wardrobe, but find it hard as I have clothes going back twenty years.  So, it's not just about whether something will ever be fashionable again (if it ever was to start with), but also about the memories connected with the clothes and when I wore them. 

Likewise, I have a collection of exercise videos from the 1990's.  However, I can no longer do aerobics due to chronic shin splints.  But I had so much fun with those videos that, although I have given away about half of them, I haven't yet reconciled myself to shedding the rest.  Realistically, though, I'm not getting any younger, and my shin splints aren't going away, so I am reconsidering giving away (or throwing away, how many people have video players these days?!) the rest.

How does this decluttering fit with the suggestion of ishvarapranidhana?  Well, I see this being not just about getting rid of objects, but rather about surrendering to the reality of getting older.  I can no longer get away with wearing a skin-tight tiger-skin suit, and I can no longer do aerobics.  I need to surrender to ageing, and allow something different and new to come into my life to replace these things.  I need to trust, like the caterpillar in its cocoon, that what will come will be different and good.  So, although letting go feels hard, I need to surrender to the possibilities of the new, not knowing what they may be, but willing to be surprised.

Try drawing a card from your favourite tarot or oracle deck, and asking what you need to know about surrender in your life right now.  I'd love to hear what answer you get...

Images from the Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti and the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.

Daily Draw Affirmations Nine of Wands

The delightful domestic divination device that is the Housewives Tarot today brings us the Nine of Wands.

A woman in a black evening gown, high heels and long black gloves steps from the top of a mop head onto the rungs of a green ladder.  Around her are more cleaning implements - dusters, mops, brooms, crumb-catchers - all in shades of green.  She carries a cloth and bucket, so there's still a bit of cleaning to do, but she's almost ready to hit the town in her glamorous attire.

My affirmations for this card are:

I see my goal clearly and move ahead with a light heart.

I keep my space uncluttered, both internally and externally.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations High Priestess

For the next week, my daily draws will be from a tried and trusted old friend, the Housewives Tarot.  This deck has been in print for years, and the reasons for its popularity are quickly apparent.  Full of humour, yet depth, it speaks in everyday symbolism.

The card I drew today is the High Priestess.  A Secret Syrup bottle in female form sports a label/apron promising that "The mysteries of the universe are sweeter than you know!"  She looks calm and wise, hands folded comfortably at her waist and head tilted slightly to the side.  Behind her is an old-fashioned breakfast table and chairs.  The background is a crazy-paving style yellow, and the chairs are up-holstered in green.  Her bottle-top crown is gold, while she herself is a warm shade of brown, with an aura surrounding her.  One of the messages I see here is that it is only possible to enjoy the true sweetness of life if you stop and take time to look inside yourself.

My affirmations based on this card are:

I value my intuition.

I hold my peace.

Life is sweet.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations King of Cups

The final card I'm drawing from the Tarot of the Pagan Cats for this affirmation series brought the King of Cups - the third King this week!

This King sits calmly on a stone block decorated with fish that seems to float above a gently waving ocean.  By his side, between his front paw and his tail, is an enormous gold cup.  Behind him sails a three-masted ship.  Meanwhile our King gazes calmly to the right, his green eyes in stark contrast to his pristine white fur.

Affirmations based on this card:

My soul is in touch with my emotions, without being overwhelmed by them.

I am calm in the face of deep emotions.

I look to the future with tranquil optimism.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Three of Swords

Interesting to see this card, as the Three of Swords also came up last week with the Victorian Romantic Tarot.  The Tarot of the Pagan Cats version is rather more traditional.  Let's see what difference this makes in the affirmations...

A white, long-haired cat slinks grimly through pouring rain, looking distinctly displeased.  Above we see a read heart pierced by three swords.  Each sword's hilt is decorated with a different emblem of the elements - fire, earth and water.  Only air, the element of Swords themselves, is not directly shown.  Dark clouds bulge in the sky above.

So, what of the affirmations?

I progress despite damp spirits.

I cut to the heart of situations, seeing rationally all aspects.

It's OK to cry, tears can help wash away the pain.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Ten of Wands

Once again I'm drawing from the Tarot of the Pagan Cats, which I'm finding delightful.  Today's card, the Ten of Wands, is a little harsher than some.

An auburn and white cat (I'm sure there must be a name for this type of colouring, if anyone would care to enlighten me) trudges towards a lovely looking house.  Strapped to him are ten wands, and he seems bowed by this burden.  The house at the end of the path he follows is protected by stone walls and a double gate, and rises above the trees that surround it.  In the grass to the side of the path we can make out daisies.

My chosen affirmations for this card are:

I bear my burdens stoically.

There is a warm, abundant welcome at the end of my journey.

Opportunities abound within and beyond my current projects.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations King of Swords

Hmm, a second King from the Tarot of the Pagan Cats today.  Two in a row, in fact.  So, I need to get in touch with my strong, in control aspect.  Well, let's have a closer look.

Here we see a grey long-haired cat sitting quite demurely, paws crossed in front of him, on a stone block decorated with butterflies.  In front of him, his tail furls around the hilt of a sword that seems to be held suspended above the jagged rocks surrounding the stone plinth.  In the blue sky above floats a candy floss cloud, and two birds fly in the distance.  Further back, we see another peak rising, not as high as the spot on which our King sits.

Affirmations for this card:

I am decisive in the face of hard choices.

I look rationally at problems.

I communicate clearly without raising my voice.

I consciously choose to transform my life.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations King of Wands

The Tarot of the Pagan Cats shows another part of its playfulness today.  The card I drew to create affirmations from is the King of Wands.

Here we see a regal striped ginger Tom sitting comfily on a block decorated with lions.  His tail curls around a wand that towers over him.  Around him are sand dunes, and the sky is blue with a light covering of cloud.

My affirmations for this card are:

I control projects with ease and grace.

I feel comfortable and in my element.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations for Death

For today's affirmations, the Tarot of the Pagan Cats furnishes us with a dark image in the Death card.

A pure black cat wears a collar sporting a silver rose, reminiscent of the flag carried by the Rider-Waite-Smith Death.  One paw rests commandingly on a scythe, while the cat sits next to a gravestone in a cemetery.  It feels like a moonlight night, though the moon is not in view, but it casts its light from behind the celtic cross of the headstone.  In front of the grave are more roses, in a vase, sitting on the rough ground.

My affirmations based on this card are:

I mourn the past in order to move on.

I cut my ties to unhealthy areas of my life.

I appreciate what has been at the same time as embracing what will be.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations for The Emperor

For this next cycle of affirmations I felt drawn to use the Tarot of the Pagan Cats.  The brainchild of Barbara Moore in her alter ego as Magdelina Messina, and with beautiful illustrations by Lola Airaghi, this deck is full of both pagan symbolism and delightful cat images.

The first card I drew is the Emperor.  Sitting proudly on a four-tiered podium decorated, from the bottom up, with wands, cups, swords and pentacles, and wearing a crown, this stunning, long-haired master of his domain surveys all.  The floor is paved with random-seeming geometric tiles and behind him is a red curtain.

In terms of affirmations, what this card brings to mind for me is:

I can master all aspects of life.

I feel confident in the world.

I bring order to chaos.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations The Sun

Joy and light return to the Victorian Romantic with today's card - the Sun!

A woman rides a horse, carrying flowering branches that seem to encircle her.  The horse she rides is white, with a flowing mane, and a red harness.  The woman wears a pink, floaty dress, and in front and to the side of her flies a cherub, playfully pulling the horse's mane.  Trees flower to either side of the path she takes.

Affirmations inspired by this card:

I am filled with joy and harmony.

Love accompanies me wherever I go.

Life carries me smoothly forward.

I enjoy what my senses perceive.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Daily Draw Affirmations Nine of Wands

Today's card, drawn from the Victorian Romantic Tarot (Russian Edition, hence the unusual script at the bottom) is the Nine of Wands.

Hmm, not sure how much I'm liking this deck!  The images are interesting, but four of the six I've drawn so far over the last few days have seemed really quite bleak.

A soldier stands guard at an entrance.  He looks distinctly nervous as he clutches his spear with both hands.  At his feet there is what seems to be the remains of a pot that held pebbles or coins.  Behind him we see fire raining down on people as they huddle together.

Affirmations, then:

I stay aware of what is going on around me.

I do not flinch in the face of difficulties.

I have the means to defend myself.