Thursday, 31 March 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet?

Today's card is drawn again from Corinne Kenner and John Blumen's Wizards Tarot.

In the King of Pentacles we see a gnome on a throne, looking rather grumpy.  Oftentimes, I think of the King of Pentacles as being someone who likes his material comforts, a bit of a sensualist even.  Hard-working and financially stable, he's not exactly the most romantic figure, but that sensuality does lend him a certain sex appeal.  I don't really see that here.  Instead, I notice the deer's horns on his head.  This makes me think of the Green Man, and of myths of Kings tied to the land.  He seems a very solid, stable chap, and I can well imagine him protecting all those who he feels responsible for, and taking on responsibility quite easily.

Once again, this doesn't scream romance - far more Gnomeo than Romeo.  And yet, there's something so trustworthy and dependable about him.  Wild acts of whimsy are all well and good, but when the going gets tough, I'd like this King to be by my side!

I am grateful for my (sometimes grumpy) fiercely protective and loyal love.

I am thankful for my own ability to protect my loved ones.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Beware, here be dragons!

Today's card from the Wizards Tarot by Corinne Kenner and John Blumen is Strength. 

This is often one of my favourite cards in any deck and this version, though rather different in its imagery, is delightful.  Here we meet the Professor of Familiar Creatures.  She stands in a flowing, off-the-shoulder gown, wearing a crown of flowers, and feeds what looks like a dragon, though the book tells us it is a wyvern.  The wyvern seems young and tame: this may be my prejudice, though, as I imagine grown dragons to be larger - able to carry a person with ease.  In the book, Corinne says that wyvern's are dangerous and sense fear, so the Professor stays calm and composed.  Nevertheless, I see the wyvern's scorpion-like tail wrapped around the woman as though in an embrace, and she strokes its nose as she gives it something to eat.  While Corinne attributes the ruby-red heart brooch on her dress to the sign of Leo, I see it more reflecting that she is brave of heart, and also loving and giving.  She is able to tame these beasts because she truly loves them, rather than controlling them through fear.

I am grateful for the times when I can deal kindly with my own dark side.

I am thankful for the reminder to deal lovingly even with people who I am afraid of or find difficult.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

DNA Update

So, today one of my clients Did Not Attend.  This time, however, what it made me think about is the other side of the equation - the other person's perspective.  What to me feels like a blow, may be exactly what the other person needs to do.  It may be, for them, a way of balancing out something going on in their life, of finding the right mix to make their life a little more bearable.

Likewise, I wonder whether other Tower events, big or small, might also be seen as balancing out something.  This brings me back to karma, I guess.  The sense that what seems like a catastrophe from one perspective, might be necessary from another.  I think, for example, of the recent events in Japan.  From a human perspective these are devastating, total Tower catastrophes.  And yet, from the perspective of the earth's tectonic plates, this was maybe just a necessary adjustment, a balancing out of forces and tensions.  That's a pretty inhumane perspective, but then, it's not just all about us people scurrying about on the surface of this planet.

Barbara Moore wrote in this season's edition of TABI's Ezine about the dark side of tarot, and I certainly see that here.  While it may feel pretty dark to see the terrible loss of life and destruction in Japan as something necessary and perhaps even beneficial at some level, perhaps we need sometimes to be able to take this kind of overarching perspective.  And how much more so when it's just a minor Tower event like a shaking of self-confidence?

I chose the Alchemist (Temperance) from the Wizards Tarot for this post, in part because of the synchrony with the (Alchemist's) Tower, but also because of the notion of finding a balance which may not be obvious at the outset.  The Alchemist mixes different substances, trying to find the perfect concoction, and pays no heed to the lightning storm outside his room - his focus is only on what he is trying to achieve, with no care for the Tower he inhabits.  The metaphors here are all mixed, but its that sense of balance, and of single-minded purpose that ignores other perspectives, that I'm trying to put across.  So, today I focus not on my own Tower moment, but on what it may mean from the other side of the wall.


Drawing again from the Wizards Tarot, today's card is the Tower, a card many dislike.  I've had a fair few Tower experiences myself, yet cannot shake the sense that there is also something empowering about them, despite the pain and disruption they often cause.

Certainly this card gives quite a new vision of this archetype.  In it we see the Alchemist's Tower (the Alchemist himself is portrayed as XIV, normally named Temperance in RWS-based decks or Alchemy in Thoth-based decks).  The Tower has large arches, allowing us to see the winding double staircase within, reminiscent of the DNA double helix.  In one of the windows at the top of the Tower we can see the Alchemist.  Also, the Tower is buttressed by two glyphs, the sign of Mars on the left and the Hebrew letter pe, or mouth, on the right.

From the book: "The Tower is under assault from every direction, and all of the elements are in play.  The air is churning, the ground shakes with every clap of thunder, lightning fills the sky with fire and electricity, and the water is roiling.  Waves pound relentlessly at the Tower's foundation, and vibrations rattle its upper floors."

I like the way this image evokes the self - inside is the DNA, outside the constructed Tower of our lives that is being battered by external elements and events.  When I think of traditional interpretations of the Tower, the idea of external events knocking our sense of self is foremost.  This makes me think of another use of the acronym DNA.  In counselling and psychotherapy, when clients don't turn up it's called a DNA - Did Not Attend.  Especially for a fledgling counsellor like myself, such occurences can strike at the heart of my sense of being.  Why didn't the client come?  Did I say something wrong in our last session?  Did they not feel I was empathic enough, or containing enough?  What could I do better next time?

So, while the event feels like it could shatter my sense of worth, it also helps me to examine my way of being and try to improve on it.  And this, I think, is the positive side of the Tower - something that shakes us to the core in any aspect of our lives also calls us to re-examine ourselves, and perhaps re-construct ourselves.  It may not be easy or pleasant, but such work is always worthwhile.

I am grateful for all the clients who have shocked me into becoming a better counsellor (and all those yet to come and do so).

I am thankful that not every day is a thunderous Tower day.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Insight's Voyage

Today, I handed in my end-of-term essays - a Seven of Pentacles moment: hard work put in, now I have to wait 8 weeks to find out what I'll harvest.  So, deciding to make a bit of time for me, I chose to meditate with Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe.

I shuffled, fanned the deck, and picked a card - Dreamer Six (Six of Swords), subtitled Insight's Voyage.  Then, seeing that it was a minor, without the Great Glyph of the Sidhe, I took the top card and placed it back up on my altar as a focus.

During my meditation, the message I got was that I will be supported in my journey, and will be able to try to steer a clear course, but ultimately I cannot control where I go.  Fate always plays a role, and yet the journey is still MINE.

I then decided to turn over the card I had taken as a focus, and it was the Dreamer Five (Five of Swords).  Unlike in my previous post on this card, what I saw this time was a message about the importance of relinquishing hope so that I can see and accept what IS.  Not perhaps the most cheerful notion, but very real.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Today's card from the Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner and John Blumen is the Seven of Pentacles.

This card follows quite traditional symbolism.  What stands out for me, though, is the use of colour.  A female student stands to the left of a plant with reddish leaves.  She leans on a stick as she gazes at the plant, from which sprout seven silver pentacles.  Her vest is green, her shirt white, and her dress is a gentle mauve check.  At her feet the ground is tan, but slightly further away it is white, and the branches of a plant in the foreground seem heavy with snow.  The suggestion, then, is that her magic has allowed this plant to grow and bear fruit out of season.

For me this brings up the question of whether there is some cost to pay for using magic to go against nature's rhythms.  This fits, in a rather different way, with the idea of reaping what you sow, and having to wait to see the outcome of your work.

Also, something about the silver of the pentacles against the red of the plant made me think of the nursery rhyme:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

I have a fascinating book, Pop Goes The Weasel, which gives histories behind nursery rhymes.  For this one, the author suggests three different associations.  I'll go with the one that makes most sense to me. 

Far from the pretty picture painted by the rhyme, it is pretty dark stuff.  Mary I of England's father Henry divorced her mother by proclaiming himself protestant.  Her brother, Edward VI, the first fully protestant King of England, tried to exclude her from the line of succession, putting in her place her cousin, Lady Jane Grey, Queen for just 9 days.  Once on the throne, Mary started freeing imprisoned Catholics, including her Lord Chancellor Gardiner (the gardener?).  She also arrested, tortured and killed protestants.  Gardens always grew around graveyards, so one interpretation is that her "garden" grew because she killed so many.  Also, the protestants were tortured with implements (nicknamed cockleshells) that crushed their genitals, with thumbscrews called "silver bells", and they were sometimes beheaded with early guillotines called "maids".  Grim stuff!  Nevertheless, Mary also reaped what she had sown, as she died without heirs at the age of 42 and was succeeded by her sister Elisabeth I, who returned the country to protestantism.

I am grateful for harvesting the fruits of my labours.

I am thankful for the cycles of nature, even if they don't always suit my purposes - I'd love to have some more sunshine!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Baby it's cold outside!

I find it intriguing how very different interpretations of the Four of Pentacles can be.  Many people only see the dark side of this card - the greed and holding onto material things.  However, it can also be about husbanding your resources in or for a time of need.

In the Wizards Tarot, the image speaks to me of both these possibilities.  On the one hand, the Mandrake Academy student pictured looks rather grumpy.  He sits on a throne, looking off to the right - hoping for better things in the future?  Feeling a sense of entitlement - I'm magical and rich, I should get what I want?  On the other hand, he is in a cold, snowy landscape without a coat (yikes, I sound like such a mother).  In such circumstances, he may need to gather what he can to protect and sustain himself through the times of cold and lack.  A coin won't keep you warm, but it'll buy you a coat and a bowl of hot soup.

In terms of gratitudes:

I am grateful for the coming of spring.

I am glad to feel safe and warm.

Somehow, too, this image made me think of the Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews duet, so here it is for your delectation:

Saturday, 26 March 2011


This week I'll be drawing cards from the recently released Wizards Tarot authored by Corrine Kenner and illustrated by John Blumen.

Today's card is Justice - the Professor of Ethics - weighing up choices past and present.  The symbolism here is reminiscent of the Egyptian goddess Maat, testing our hearts to see if they are as light as a feather.  I also notice the owl perched behind her (each of the teachers/Majors has at least one familiar).  Representative of wisdom, with the ability to turn its head 360º, so being able to see all sides of a question, it speaks also of messages, like the scrolls on her desk.

I was asked recently if I believe in karma that transcends a single lifetime.  The jury's still out on that one for me, and even on the question of karma within this life.  Either way, I think it's important to live as though karma were a reality, to act as one would like to be treated, to respect oneself and others.  Although I don't always live up to these ideals, notably when annoyed by people who don't stop at legal crossings, or who smoke under no smoking signs, I acknowledge that my anger hurts me far more than it hurts them, weighing down my heart.  So, today I will try to be mindful to choose the high road.

I am grateful for the situations that life throws at me, allowing me to practice mindfulness and open heartedness.

I am thankful for the opportunity to see different points of view.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Wizards Tarot Interview

The beautiful and playful Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner and John Blumen arrived on Tuesday, so I decided I'd like to get to know it a bit better.  However, the questions here are about how we will work/play together.  After all, there are always at least two parties to a reading.  There is the deck as thing: 78 pieces of card with images on.  But far more than that, there is what the author intended in designing each picture, as well as what the artist put into the actual manifestation.  There is how the cards fall in a given spread, whether you believe that's coincidence, synchronicity, serendipity, or something else.  And there's what the reader brings to interpreting the cards, which is affected by their temperament generally, but also by the situation on a given day.

I was privileged to see these cards back in October 2009 when Corrine spoke at the UK Tarot Conference.  She had brought super-sized prototypes with her, and we used them in the various workshops she led.  The images were stunningly beautiful, and I liked the playful, magical premise behind the deck: stepping into the lives of the staff and students at Mandrake Academy - very Harry Potter-esque!

What will our exploration of values be like?  The Magician

Exploring values will be a magical experience :-D  There is passion and purity here with the red roses and white lilies.  A safe space to discover and play with the sacred circle, but also dedication and will to make what I believe in manifest (as above so below in the hand gestures).  There is a sense of harmony to this card, with the two circles of light holding up the suit implements, and also the idea that all aspects of life will be encompassed in this exploration.  The Magician stands in front of a window, a portal to access the rest of the world, and astrological signs decorate the wall behind him - this gives him an overview of both the physical reality and the of the metaphysical.

So, exploring in safety, but able to see all aspects of life to discover what is really important in this moment, and then bring it to fruition.

How will we relate on emotional issues?  Queen of Cups

Oh, what a perfect card for the area of relating!  I am generally a big fan of the Queen of Cups in most decks (well, the Ancestral Path being a bit of an exception as she looks like a real wet blanket, but that might just be me).  This beautiful, calm yet strong Queen of Cups looks like she's meditating, or praying.  She sits amongst strange underwater plants, surrounded by schools of different kinds of fish.  Around her are what seem to be ruins from a lost civilization, now hidden under the water.  She wears a trident crown, a necklace, an upper-arm bracelet (there must be a word for that), and pearls as a belt.

My sense here is that we will be deeply in tune emotionally, and will be able to go into profound emotional issues while keeping a sense of ourselves.  We can explore past emotional history without being overwhelmed, and also look towards new paths for growth.  All this will be filled with spirit and a certain lightness.

Can we work together on a rational level?  The Chariot

We most certainly can, though it may take a bit of compromising.  Flying a broom isn't always easy, one needs to keep one's focus clear ;-)  There is just a sliver of a crescent moon here - much is in darkness, but working together we can begin to bring light and understanding into our experience.  The wisdom of the ages (the pyramids and sphinx) is available to us, if we can just learn to access it.  Corrine notes in the book that although the Professor of Astral Travel looks young, her hair is white, suggesting that she is older and wiser than she seems.

Likewise, this deck is playful and youthful in its content and imagery, and yet holds a great depth of symbolism.  Accessing this will allow us to look at things rationally, though it may sometimes take a bit of focus not to be distracted by the beautiful sights along the way.

How practical will our work and play be?  King of Swords

The King of Swords stands firm, wielding his sword with decision.  He is able to be very practical, basing his choices and actions on rational ideas and logical approaches to any situation.  Yet there is a lightness to this particular depiction of the King of Swords, because of his wings - he is a sylph - and all the birds that fly around him.  I imagine them calling to him, relaying messages from spirit, and passing on news from all the places they have flown.  So, he is also well-informed, and can make practical decisions from a place of knowledge.

This bodes well for the practicality of our relationship - it will be focused, but without getting mired in the nitty gritty: always keeping a certain sense of perspective.

What is the deep truth about our relationship?  Page of Wands

Serendipitously, this is the card that I drew at the 2009 UK Tarot Conference in Corrine Kenner's "Beyond the Celtic Cross" workshop!

The Court Cards of this deck, as can be seen in the Queen of Cups and King of Swords above also, are elemental beings appropriate to the Golden Dawn assignation of elements to the suits.  So, Wands show Salamander people, Cups show Undines, Swords show Sylphs and Pentacles show Gnomes.

Here, we see a young Salamander.  She holds a burning torch in one hand and a scroll in the other.  Behind her, a staircase rises, with a reddish light at the top - sunrise or sunset, or a fire in a cave above?  She wears orange clothes, with beautiful gold patterning and details.  There is a sense of movement and anticipation here, she is on her way somewhere.

The deep truth of our relationship, then, is that it will be full of enthusiasm, inspiration, and journeys to magical places.  We will share fascinating messages, and explore paths to enlightenment, all while staying playful.  I can't wait!

Daily Draw Gratitudes Three of Staffs

The final card from the Tarot of the Moon Garden is another Staff (Wand) card, this time the Three.

As so often this week, this card strikes me quite differently to traditional RWS-based decks.  In it we see three trees, with a large gap between them.  Partially covered by one tree, but moving out into the gap between them, is the shadow of a boat, looking like a purple dragon.  It seems, judging by the head/prow, to be sailing away, rather than towards us.  Less plants are apparent in this card than in most of the others.  I am struck by the three tiers of fungi growing low down on the trunk of one tree, and the two mushrooms growing at the base of another.  Mushrooms grow in dark places and on dead trees, which these don't seem to be - poetic licence?  They are important in the cycle of life, breaking down other matter and converting it into something edible.  Of course, they can also be toxic or hallucinogenic ;-D

Gratitudes for this card:

I am grateful for what I have achieved, and for what still lies ahead.

I am thankful for the growth and learning that death can bring.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Nine of Staffs

Today's card feels particularly playful to me.  Taken again from the Tarot of a Moon Garden, we have the Nine of Staffs.

It took me a while to spot that there is actually a person on this card!  A figure with a blue band around their head peeks out from behind the central tree, with a unicorn to their right.  Strange plants grow up all about, some with small red fruit.  So, for me, there is more a sense of hiding than of defensiveness per se, though of course the two are related.  They could be hiding as a form of defense.  Less belligerent than traditional depictions, the unicorn adds a softer side, also, suggesting spiritual protection and joy.

My gratitudes for this card:

I am grateful for the ability to show only as much of myself as feels safe.

I am thankful for the feeling that I am protected by kind beings.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Six of Cups

Still drawing from the somewhat whimsical Tarot of a Moon Garden, today's card is the Six of Cups.

Once again, this card is very different from traditional renditions, with no people on it.  Instead we see what seems like the crenelation of a tower, except that it must be quite low as it is surrounded by strange looking plants and flowers.  On the wall notches are balanced cups, each with a flower emerging from it, though no two flowers are the same.  Unlike the traditional sense of something from the past, old friendships, or childhood naivete, this card suggests more a softening of defenses.  Although the cups are on a battlement, they are filled with flowers, not at all warlike.  There is a feeling of being more protected than if there were no wall, but also a sense of openness to nature, and to joy and softer feelings.  A waning moon shines down on the flowered parapet, giving me a feeling of endings rather than beginnings.  But, ending what?  An end to defensiveness, an openness to emotion?

My gratitudes for this card, then:

I am thankful for all the emotions I have experienced and the learning gained through them about trust and hope.

I am grateful for my emotional defenses, as well as the fact that I can let them down at will.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Ten of Staffs

Drawing again from the fairytale Tarot of a Moon Garden, today's card is the Ten of Staffs (Wands).

In the foreground are ferns, flowers and mushrooms, and a tiny unicorn no bigger than the plants around it.  Then there is a wall of ten trees with a gap in the middle.  Through the gap we see a butterfly, and in the distance a fairytale castle, with turrets and crenellations.

To me, this card has a completely different feel to the traditional Ten of Wands image.  There is no sense of being overburdened, just one of possibility and perhaps a journey to undertake.  We can slip through the gap between the trees and follow the butterfly of transformation towards a magical place of safety and abundance.  This reminds me slightly of the image in the Ten of Wands from the Tarot of Pagan Cats - mainly because of the home towards which each card directs us.

My gratitudes based on this card:

I am thankful for the joy, comfort and safety I find in my home.

I am grateful for the journey that still lies ahead of me.

I am thankful for moving towards my spiritual home.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Four of Swords

Today's offering from the Tarot of a Moon Garden is the Four of Swords.

As so often in the minors of this deck, there are no human figures apparent here.  Instead, we see three swords rising up, lifted by the pink, purple and violet coloured butterflies that are their hilts.  A fourth sword, also with a butterfly hilt, floats horizontally above a unicorn with a rainbow mane.  The unicorn has its back to us, but is looking over its shoulder out of the card.  In front of the unicorn lies a knight's plumed helmet.  Looking closer I notice that there seems to be a blond head resting against the unicorn's shoulder and armoured legs poking out from behind it.  So, perhaps we have a knight resting in the gentle embrace of the unicorn.

My sense of this card is one of deep peace and transformation.  There is the idea that the knight needs to rest and recuperate from his travails, but what better place to do it?  I find myself feeling envious of this knight, of having found such a safe and healing haven.

So, my gratitudes:

I am grateful for the safe havens in my life, be they people or places.

I am thankful for the times when I can truly rest, be it in sleep or in meditation.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The King of Swords

On this second day drawing from the Tarot of a Moon Garden, I am faced by the King of Swords.

This King sits on a butterfly-decorated throne.  He wears a crown with a hood around his face, and an orange cape held together at the neck by a cross.  His tunic underneath is purple, gold and blue, and there are red stripes and purple borders to his cape.  To his left there seems to be a carnivorous plant, with a tooth-filled mouth.  Overall, he seems rather austere and closed off, cold though with some superficial warmth and strength.  Perhaps this represents his changeable nature.  Certainly, he seems very aware of his own regal importance.  Having his head covered in this way makes me feel he is cut off from his body, over logical.  The blue of his clothes suggests an ability to communicate, and the purple could suggest a connection to spirit.  However, I see it more as representing his haughtiness, which can come across in how he thinks and what he says.  There is hidden bite here, as represented by the carnivorous plant.

Trying to see the more positive side to him, my gratitudes are:

I am thankful for times when I communicate clearly and think logically.

I am grateful for the people in my life who take decisions seriously.

I am thankful for the transformation that can come through mental processes.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Seven of Pentacles

This week's daily draws come from the Tarot of a Moon Garden, a delightful, naive deck.  The minors are somewhat non-traditional, with few human figures.

Today's card is the Seven of Pentacles.  Plump-looking pentacle-decorated balls seem to grow out of a ferny landscape.  Above them is a crescent moon, and red and white flowers bud forth around the pentacles.  The fern, as one of the most ancient plants on the planet, gives a sense of time and waiting to this card, while the full, round pentacles suggest growth and plenty.  However, they seem somewhat hidden among the foliage, so requiring some work still to harvest.

Overall, this card gives me a sense of abundance, an abundance more of growth than of wealth, and also of protection.

My gratitudes based on this card are:

I am thankful for the chance to grow.

I am grateful for my sense of being protected.

I am thankful for the wealth of nature.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The Empress

Our final card from the New Mythic Tarot, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, is the Empress.

Here we see Demeter, goddess of motherhood.  She stands in a field of corn, representing the bounty of the harvest offered by mother nature, with three poppies in the foreground.  She is pregnant, and behind her a waterfall pours down vine-covered hills into a river.

In the myth, Demeter's daughter, Persephone, is stolen away by Hades, Lord of the Underworld.  Demeter is distraught and will not let the earth flourish again until her daughter is returned to her.  Although she eventually gets her way, because Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds while in Hades' kingdom she must also return there once a year to be Queen of the Underworld.

This myth is associated with times of plenty alternating with hard times, though whether this should be associated with the snows of winter or with the droughts of summer is a somewhat contested question.  In either case, Demeter reminds us of the abundance of mothers, as well as their protective instincts.  The Empress also traditionally represents creativity, not just of babies, but any project, something that we body forth into the world.

For some reason, probably because of the subject matter, I notice the shadow side of the Majors of this deck.  Although Demeter is associated with abundance, motherhood and creativity, it's also true that she withheld that abundance from the world while her daughter was held captive.  Though showing motherly devotion and determination, the idea of starving all of humanity for the sake of your own child shows a certain shadow aspect - this is the mother who perhaps cares too much, who doesn't see the big picture, who puts her selfish love ahead of a more spiritual view of interconnectedness. 

My gratitudes:

I am grateful for my mother and all the love and support she has offered me over the years.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be a mother in my turn.

I am grateful for the abundance and creativity in my life.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Nine of Pentacles

In a happy frame of mind, the New Mythic Tarot graces us with the Nine of Pentacles.

In this card we see Daedalus, successful and independent after much hard work.  He created the labyrinth to hold the minotaur in Crete, and then sided with the Queen against his patron in a new venture.  This was risky and hard, but he made a success of it.  In front of him is a veritable wall of Pentacles, symbols of the wealth he has accrued through his labours.  These protect him, so he is now independent and can make what he chooses, rather than relying on commissions and the boons of kings.  He stands, richly clothed, beneath a grapevine, symbol of abundance, in a beautiful garden with a background of rolling hills and a lake.  This idyllic setting suggests ease - no mountains to scale, just a pleasant place to enjoy long country walks or just looking out at the scenery from a comfortable chair.

My gratitudes, then:

I am grateful for my independence.

I am thankful to be able to go for long walks in beautiful countryside, in touch with the ever-changing face of nature.

I am grateful for the abundance in my life.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Three of Wands

The New Mythic Tarot today offers us another card from the Minor Arcana, in particular from the suit of Wands.

In this deck, each suit is associated with a mythological tale from Ancient Greece.  In this case it is the story of Jason and the Argonauts.  This close to the start, we see Jason being offered a crown by King Pelias.  Pelias had usurped the throne of Iolkos from his brother, but an oracle told him he would be defeated by a man wearing only one sandal.  Jason, Pelias' nephew, crossed a river losing a sandal as he came to demand his rightful place from his uncle.  Pelias capitulated quickly, for fear of the prophesy, but told Jason he would need to rescue the Golden Fleece if he wanted to rule in Iolkos.  Thus, despite this apparent initial success, Jason went off on a long and arduous quest.  So, here we have a first sense of completion, but with a long path yet to be travelled requiring energy and inspiration.

Gratitudes based on this card:

I am grateful for what I have achieved so far, and for all that is still left to explore and do.

I am thankful for the support of others.

I am grateful to receive recognition when I deserve it.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Five of Swords

Still drawing from the New Mythic Tarot, today's image comes courtesy of the Five of Swords.

Taken from the tale of the curse of the House of Atreus, here we see Orestes at the feet of the god Apollo.  The god is telling him of the murder of his father by his mother.  Clytemnestra murdered Agamemnon because he sacrificed their daughter for the sake of glory, to propitiate the goddess Hecate whom he had offended and who pinned his army in port with a storm until he agreed to the sacrifice.  Agamemnon also lied to Clytemnestra, telling her that their daughter was to be married, then killing her.  However, in good patriarchal style, here the god Apollo tells Orestes that it is his obligation to avenge his father, by killing his own mother!

How does all this relate to the Five of Swords?  From the book: "Limitations and their necessary acceptance, as portrayed in the Five of Swords, often require us to swallow false pride as well as fear... Although this can be distressing, or even depressing or apparently belittling, it is a stage which is necessary if the individual wishes to make effective the principles in which he or she believes."

Certainly, what I see here is a child faced by a winged god with a many-bladed sword - talk about feeling out of your depth!  There are dark clouds surrounding them, and the mountains around look bleak and dead.

What gratitudes, then, can be gained from this?

I am grateful for the hard lessons which help me learn my limits.

I am thankful not to feel impotent all the time.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Eight of Wands

Today is the turn of the Eight of Wands, from the New Mythic Tarot by tarot luminary Juliet Sharman-Burke and astrologer Liz Greene.

Here we see the ship that carries Jason and the Argonauts, heading home from their quest to recover the Golden Fleece.  Alongside the ship swim dolphins, and the seas are calm: plain sailing.  The sails, of which there are eight, are red with bright suns in the middle - a lot of energy and drive here, ambition and the urge to triumph.  I like that, in traditional Greek fashion, there is an eye painted on the front of the boat's hull, keeping an eye on the weather and what lies ahead.  The boat's prow is decorated with a bird's head, swift flight through the waters of life, following its instincts to reach land as quickly as possible.


I am grateful for days when things go smoothly.

I am thankful for the spirits that accompany me in my journey.

I am grateful for having the energy and drive to achieve my goals.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The Hermit

On this second day drawing from the New Mythic Tarot we meet the Hermit.

The book tells us that this figure is Cronos, whose name means time.  This card has many of the traditional symbols and associations of the Hermit: his light guiding himself and others through the darkness; the scythe representing time and endings (as the hourglass does in the traditional RWS image); his position on a mountain path showing his search for higher truths.  The crow perched on his shoulder represents "the embodiment of the spirit of the old king who has died to make way for the new cycle."

Once again, I am struck by the positive reading of a character who seems less spiritual when I look deeper into his story.  Cronos was the last-born son of Uranus, and his mother fashioned his scythe so that he could overthrow his father, who had banished his Titan sons to the underworld.  Having started this cycle of change, however, Cronos was afraid for himself, and so tried to kill his own progeny before they could kill him.  Zeus broke this cycle, though this time only banishing his father rather than killing him outright.  This brings a strong element of cyclical time to this card, more reminiscent of the Wheel, as well as a dark shadow - Cronos walks alone with time to introspect because he is being punished for his filicide.

My gratitudes for today:

I am grateful for the ability to study and learn, without having this feel like a punishment.

I am thankful to those have gone before me, lighting the path with their knowledge and ideas.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The Emperor

For this week's daily draws I  have chosen the New Mythic Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene.  This is the later edition, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, rather than the original from the late '80's.  The deck uses Greek mythology to illustrate traditional RWS meanings of the cards.  However, while the Majors depict different Greek gods and godesses, the suits each illustrate one particular story from Greek mythology.  Thus, the suit of Wands tells the tale of Jason and the Argonauts, and their quest for the Golden Fleece, Cups is Eros and Psyche and their tumultuous romance, Swords introduces the saga of the House of Atreus and its troubled son Orestes who has to deal with a curse placed upon his family, and the suit of Pentacles shows Daedalus, the craftsman behind the Cretian labyrinth that held the Minotaur, in his struggles to create and gain in wealth and renown.

The first card I drew from this deck is the Emperor.  Here we see Zeus on top of Mount Olympus, resplendent in a regal purple tunic.  In his right hand, the hand of action, he holds a lightning bolt, symbolising power, but also the flash of inspiration Meanwhile, in his left hand he holds a globe, expressing his dominion over, but also nurturing of, the entire world.  On his left shoulder sits an eagle, gazing out on the world.  Zeus resides on mountain tops, representing lofty ideals and spiritual seeking.

Overall, I have to say this is a very favourable take on Zeus.  From other sources, I remember him going around turning into various animals and birds so he could have his way with unsuspecting nymphs and queens.  Their being virgins or married never bothered him any.  I guess this is the shadow side of this card: abuse of power and a feeling of entitlement.

In terms of personal associations, when this card refers to me I see it representing needing to plan and be structured about my projects.  I also associate it strongly with my son.  It came up in a reading I did before he was born, and several times since, and seems appropriate.  He has taken over our home and our lives, and is very determined and willful (he's a Capricorn, too).

My gratitudes based on this card are:

I am grateful for the supportive structures in my life.

I am thankful for the little tyrant who rules my life and home (my son).

I am grateful for the moments of inspiration followed by days, weeks and months of bringing that inspiration to fruition.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Ace of Grails

A rather lighter card to end this series of daily draws from Ian Daniels' Tarot of Vampyres.

In the Ace of Grails (Cups) we see the eponymous grail, black against a background of thorny branches from which grow green roses (yes, really).  Meanwhile, the grail itself is decorated with green gems, including a green, heart-shaped stone in the centre of one side.  Limned in green, it makes me think of a poisoned chalice, yet the green is not sickly, though somewhat off-putting - it's not a colour I'd want to drink, even if I don't think it would make me throw up.

With green often being associated with envy, one suggestion for a shadow-side interpretation of this card is that positive emotions, or the start of a new relationship, evoke envy - in us or in others.   A more up-beat slant on this sees green as being about growth, nature and vitality.  In this instance, the interpretation might be more along the lines of a new emotional start that has lots of potential both spiritually and relationally.  Another message I see here is that a small amount of poison can innoculate us against further harm.

My gratitudes based on this card are:

I am thankful that I can feel deep emotions, even difficult ones, as they keep me alive and in touch with others.

I am grateful for the envy I feel which helps me strive for more.

I am thankful for the love and spiritual connection I feel in my life.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Seven of Knives

The sixth day of drawing from Ian Daniels' Tarot of Vampyres finds the Seven of Knives on the block.

Interesting to me, having blogged about this card before, is that when I looked at it I noticed some elements I didn't see earlier.  This time I am struck by the winged mask hanging over the woman's head, and the seven-pointed star that bars the window, with a star shining in the centre of it, and a brighter star below and to the right.  I also notice her dress seems to be sheer lace on the bodice, with a satin sheen to the material below.

Traditionally, the Seven of Knives (Swords) is often seen as a card of treachery and deception, even back-stabbing and gossip.  On a more positive note, it can be taken as the need to work smarter, not harder.  From this particular card I get the sense that through her actions and words damage has been done (to herself or another? It could be either).  And yet that damage is key to new learning and insights, as it is through conflict that we sometimes grow the most.  The mask makes me think that there is deception here, not showing one's true face.  But I am also reminded that sometimes the most painful deception is of the self.  Now, though, she looks at us directly, with no masks, so perhaps she is ready to leave the hiding behind and own herself and her thoughts, words and deeds.  There is hope here, too, with the seven-pointed star speaking to me of the seven chakras in the body, and the guidance that is found through spirit when we connect through our crown chakra with the wider world.

What, then, of gratitudes?

I am grateful that I feel able to be open with others and myself, even if I don't like everything that I see.

I am thankful for the hope that shines in my life, challenging me to examine what is dark with kind eyes.

I am grateful for past mistakes which bring learning.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Eight of Scepters

Wow, there are a lot of hot-but-scary men in this deck!  Ian Daniels' Tarot of Vampyres tries to club us over the head with today's card.

Leaping from a high block, wielding a glowing cross, comes a bare-chested figure with long, dark hair flying, black cape billowing, blood dripping from his mouth.  His arms are decorated with tattoos and leather armbands, while from his necklace hangs a Sagittarian arrow, and at his belt clasp we see the symbol for Mercury.  His eyes gleam redly as he springs into action with a yell.  I notice that the block from which he has come is decorated with an arrow that points to a cat-mask.  No tame tabby this, but something with fangs and red, swirling patterns on its face.

In traditional Eight of Wands cards there is often no person depicted.  The sense of movement comes from flying wands or other symbols of movement and direction.  Nevertheless, that sense of things moving fast is certainly portrayed here, with perhaps a more active slant.  No arrows of love flying towards us, but anger, fury, and the need to take action.


I am grateful for the speed with which things can happen when I set my mind to it.

I am thankful for having the energy to spring into action.

I am grateful that not every day is an Eight of Wands day - talk about exhausting ;-)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Two of Scepters

Another dark image from the powerful, gothic treasure that is the Tarot of Vampyres.

Today's card is the Two of Scepters, traditionally the Two of Wands.  A figure reminiscent of the war god Aries lunges to the right, a blood-tipped, arrow-headed scepter held pointing upward in both hands.  Behind him we see a dark tower, from the top of which a red flame emerges.  Behind him, below the castle battlements, a fire rages.  He wears ornate shinguards, and a helm with goat-like horns.  His armour protects his chest, back and shoulders, leaving is arms bare.  On his right upper arm there is a beautiful rose tattoo.  His belt clasp is an Aries symbol, while from his belt hang a multiplicity of small chains, with a Mars glyph dangling from one, while the others are simple circles.  I notice, also, a small red heart just beneath the arrow-head of his scepter.

So, far from looking out peaceably from a castle as his traditional counterpart does, this figure sees a world in flames.  He is willing to go out and do battle, for this is his nature, but it is not just fighting for the sake of it.  He is fighting for what he loves, what he believes in, defending what he values.

My gratitudes:

I am grateful not to be confronted by this kind of anger and determination directed against me.

I am thankful for the opportunity to defend what I believe in, both people and ideas.

I am grateful for the protection of those in my life.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The Hermit

Today's card from the eerily beautiful and somewhat dark Tarot of Vampyres by Ian Daniels is the Hermit.

Here we see a cloaked figure bearing a burning stave in one hand, and dragging a net of skulls behind him with the other.  In the front of the card is a black wolf with red eyes, who bares his teeth at something or someone off to the left of the card.  The Hermit is dashing past a cross with a beautiful, female figure on top of it, and the glyph for Virgo in the centre.  The Hermit has a short-sword strapped to his back, and seems intent on moving down a tree-lined path towards a misty, distant light.

Are the skulls part of some arcane rite that he wishes to perform?  And what of his wolf-companion: devil's beast or shapeshifter, and is there a difference?  Less lonesome than the traditional Hermit, nonetheless the sense of seeking spiritual knowledge is there, though this Hermit seems more active, too - charging around gathering what he needs and searching for the right place to use them, rather than seeking through quiet solitude.

My gratitudes, then:

I am thankful for the opportunities for spiritual learning that present themselves in many guises.

I am grateful for companions on my spiritual path.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Prince of Skulls

For this second daily draw from the Tarot of Vampyres I am confronted by a court card: the Prince of Skulls.  In traditional decks this would be equivalent to the Knight of Pentacles.

This Prince's transparent cape and dark hair are blown in the wind, yet he faces into the wind, appearing undaunted.  Beneath his hand is what appears to be either the hilt of a huge sword, sporting a skull at the intersection between the grip and the guard, or perhaps just a cross.  On his belt, around his arms, and at neck and chest coins are attached to his clothes and jewellry - a real sense of wealth, even ostentation.  He is clearly a Vampyre, with sharp teeth and nails, and pointed ears, as well as a pale complexion as he stands in the light of a blood-tinted full moon.  However, I also notice the pale moth that perches on the skull.  So, stability, wealth, but also the possibility of transformation - rather unusual compared to the Knight of Pentacles, who is a bit more of a stick-in-the-mud.

What to make of this in terms of gratitudes?

I am thankful for the stable men in my life who fill it with emotional and spiritual riches.

I am grateful for my own steadfastness.

I am thankful for the relative material ease I enjoy.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Seven of Skulls

This week I've chosen to draw from the Tarot of Vampyres, by British artist Ian Daniels.  I love the beauty of these images, which charm with their dark elegance.

The card drawn for today is the Seven of Skulls, traditionally the Seven of Pentacles.  Here we see a female figure clutching at a sun dial on which is inscribed the sign for Taurus, and the base of which is decorated with a skull.  She holds what looks like a pomegranate in one hand, and it's red juices run down her hand, arm and face like blood.  Behind her is a gnarly tree, from which dangles a Saturn symbol, planet of limitations and life cycles.  All around her lie more of the dark fruit she holds, seemingly putrefying on the floor.  The woman is bare breasted, and her face looks human, but her back sprouts hair, as do her legs, which sport elongated feet.

On the dark side, there is a distinct feeling of trying to hold onto time, and of the fruits of what we do being bitter (sweet?)  There also seems to be something about the limitations set on us by the cycles of life and death.  Good gothic stuff! :-)

My gratitudes for this card are:

I am grateful for the times when I see the fruits of my labour.

I am thankful for the sweetness of life.

I am grateful for the passage of time that allows development and growth.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The High Priestess

This is the last card I'll be drawing from Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe, at least in this daily gratitudes series. 

Today's card is the High Priestess.  I love the ethereal feel of this card, the way the High Priestess is semi-transparent, flowing into the water beneath her.  Her connection to the moon is highlighted by the way her hair forms a crescent moon, apparently haloed by the actual moon rising above her.  Between her hands flows a rainbow, symbol of the bridge between our reality and that of the Otherworld, and at her core burns a candle flame, indicative of the spirit and passion that reside within.  She appears to be seated within the pages of a book - truly at one with knowledge, so it forms the base from which she moves.  Below her, in the lake, swim two fish, one to either side of the Great Glyph of the Sidhe which seems to flow vortex-like into the depths.  Behind her are green plains rising up to stark mountains, and above her is a star-strung sky, seven stars shining brightly.  Her eyes are closed as though in meditation, and her third eye is open.

This card speaks to me of wisdom and intuitive understanding, of bright passion and silent contemplation.  There is a feeling of wholeness through opposites - the book and the inner flame, the rainbow and the moon, the lake and the mountains.  She sits at the centre of all, balancing, and perhaps sharing.

My gratitudes:

I am thankful for my trust in my own intuition.

I am grateful for the many wise women in my life.

I am thankful for the moments of meditation I find.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Death

I have decided to do another two days with Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe.  Firstly, because I am so enjoying this deck, and secondly because it makes very little sense to have my week of daily draws start on a Thursday.  Saturday seems far more logical!

Anyhow, the card I drew for today is the Death card.  I find the symbolism here really beautiful.  The candles represent human spirits, no longer encased in flesh but still burning brightly.  A reminder that while things change and we have to let go of some things which supported us in the past, there is also always something to look forward to.  It may be new and feel scary at times, but we cannot stop still where we are.

The owl represents wisdom, but more than this, the ability to see things from a new perspective, to see past, present and future (with a head that can turn 360º), and to see in the darkness, too.

There is a Sidhe character sitting on a burial mound, and the moon is eclipsed - a time of darkness, but also of spiritual growth.  Finally, the glyph in this card draws us into the gateway of the mound, inviting us in to a place of darkness, from which we will emerge changed, renewed.  This invitation to the Otherworld feels strangely protected - the two trees stand as guardians, full of wisdom and life, with roots into the earth, into the mound itself, connecting us with other levels of existence so that we will not become trapped if we venture in.

My gratitudes based on this card:

I am grateful for the time to mourn what I let go.

I am thankful for opportunities to change and grow, however hard they may feel at the time.

I am grateful for the protection I feel when I venture into new areas.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes The Lovers

For the seventh day, today's draw comes from Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe.

In the companion booklet, Emily talks about the symbolism in this card, and the fact that it was just the second card of this deck which she created.  As she says: "This may explain why I enthusiastically hurled every symbol imaginable into the mix!"

From the Fire and Water at the bottom of the card; the black and white birds just above that; the pair of Sidhe figures, the female holding a cup, the male holding a sword; the Great Glyph of the Sidhe symbol on one tree, and the egg in the same place on the other; the two little faery figures, the female holding a moon, the male holding a sun, in the cruxes of the trees; the two trees with branches entwined; and the green and red snakes plaited around each other on the entwined branches of the trees - lacking in symbolism this card is not!

So, what to make of this wealth of symbols?  Clearly, the issue of polarities dominates.  Where there is black there is white, where there is love there is hate, where there is a man, there's bound to be trouble ;-b  Seriously, though, for me this card speaks of the need to recognise the way we often polarise things in our life.  For example, if you are the type of person who considers yourself to be kind, you may not allow yourself to be angry or bitchy.  But those are normal responses at times.  Likewise, I am rather a tomboy, and so trying to fit the ideas of the soft, giving, receptive, passive female may not always sit well with me, despite that being the more "feminine" way to react according to our culture.  This, perhaps, is where Emily's Lovers speaks to me of choices - we can choose which polarity we associate with, but it does not need to be a stereotyped decision.  Maybe one day what jumps out at me from this card is the sun in the male faery's arms, another time it may be the water pouring from the "woman's" tree, while a third it may be the warm fire.  Sometimes we may side more with one polarity, but at other times we are drawn to the other - and that sounds pretty healthy to me.  By polarising so starkly, the in-between speaks to me - the place of the river running towards mountains.  In the end, we choose our own middle path, and that's probably for the best.

And so to gratitudes:

I am grateful for having choices in life.

I am thankful for having a beloved with whom to share my life.

I am grateful for the diversity of the world, and in myself.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Dreamer Five

Today another powerful card from Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe.

In the Dreamer Five card, equivalent to the Five of Swords, we see a female figure standing on a small outcropping of grass, high among the clouds.  Around her are four similar grass-topped pillars, while in the background we see a range of mountains, tinted red by a blood-red sun.  The female figure is throwing away a sword, with which she seems to have cut her connections to the universe - ribbons sprouting from her back that are now chopped short and drip blood, while she holds the remains in her other hand.

The card is subtitled Hope Discarded.  The woman has chopped off her own ability to connect with what is outside of herself, and is now dropping the blade with which she did this.  I see these ribbon-like connectors being the hope that she is discarding - she no longer trusts that she will be supported by the universe, that she is a part of creation.  That feels like a very bleak place to be and reminds me of descriptions of depression, where people feel both isolated and hopeless.  In depression, too, there is often a sense that the person is to a degree creating their own (negative) reality, not allowing others close, and without the energy to move themselves out of the darkness.

My affirmations based on this:

I am grateful for the lessons I've learned about self-sabotage.

I am thankful not to be in a dark place of sad isolation.