Sunday, 31 July 2011


Today's card from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle by Mindly Lighthipe shows a Leaf Insect, and is subtitled Camouflage.

It's rather strange to see this creature out of context - it looks rather lumpy and dangerous with those huge pincers at the front.  Still, in its natural environment I can easily imagine it blending in to the point of disappearing. 

This is a great reminder that context is everything.  I remember a few years ago a couple of friends came over from Spain.  One woman was absolutely delighted with her first experience of London.  She said that, all her life, she had felt "observed", as she is quite dramatic-looking - Sinead O'Conner-esque in her shaved to the skull hair, with strong, slightly Arabic features, and an actress' dress-sense (as well as the talent to match).  Visiting Camden, though, she felt, if anything, rather understated: a novel and delightful experience.

As for me, I tend to go for casual/comfy.  While hugely impressed with the extremely fabulous shoes that Hestia wore at the Conference last week, I couldn't get away with them myself.  At times, though, I have to don a different kind of camouflage - a business suit, bah!  I wonder, what will it take to fit in today?

I am grateful that I don't have to struggle too much to fit in most of the time.

Saturday, 30 July 2011


This week I have decided to draw from on oracle deck, rather than a tarot.  The Nature's Wisdom Oracle, by artist and author Mindy Lighthipe, published by Schiffer, surprised me by having very different aspects of nature in it - not just animals, but insects, birds, plants and flowers, too.  I review the deck here.

Today's card is the Pumpkin, subtitled Abundance.  I see this being about what we count as true wealth.  Today, for example, I am going to a friend's fortieth birthday party.  So, there will be an abundance of food.  More importantly, though, there will be an abundance of old friends to talk with, some of whom I haven't seen for nearly twenty years!  An abundance of life stories, of smiles and laughter, of surprises :)

I am grateful for the abundance of friendship in my life.

Friday, 29 July 2011


For my last card from the Tarot of Trees by Dana Driscoll, I drew the Ten of Wands.

Two large trees with interwoven branches loom over a tiny sapling which wilts under them, unable to get the light and nourishment it needs.  Rather than the traditional interpretation of taking on too much responsibility, here I see someone weighed down by bullying, or by other people's expectations.  It could even suggest a child who is being mistreated or neglected by adults, or more generally someone who isn't getting their needs fulfilled.

I realise that my first reading of this card is based on the author's comment that the sapling is green and sickly.  I think it is also possible to see this scene differently.  Two larger trees shade a sapling from the burning sun, protecting it so that it doesn't get damaged before it grows strong enough to survive.  Here, then, the two large trees could be seen as taking on responsibility for the sapling, perhaps to their own detriment.  They are exposing themselves to the sun they protect the sapling from, and having to hold their branches in a position which might not be very good for them.

I am grateful that enough of my needs are met for me to grow.

I am thankful that my Dear One and I can share the load of taking care of our son.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hidden Riches

For this sixth pull with Dana Driscoll's Tarot of Trees, I drew the Nine of Pentacles.

This tree sinks its roots beneath snow-covered soil, and holds nine pentacles there.  The suggestion of having a wealth of resources to draw on through the hardships of Winter, and to foster Spring growth, is rather different from traditional Nine of Pentacles meanings.  It could also be seen as hoarding - rather more Four of Pentacles-y.  However, following more common interpretations, I can also see the idea of someone who has worked hard to get themselves into a comfortable, stable situation.

I like the additional ideas that arise just from the seasonal implications in this card.  I also find interesting the notion that these riches might be what nourish us - what additional insights could this offer?

I am grateful for the reserves - material, physical, spiritual and emotional -  I have to draw upon in times of hardship.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Claim Your Space

Dana Driscoll's Tarot of Trees takes up the challenge to show the whole spectrum of human emotion and endeavour through the symbolism of trees.  Today's card, the Five of Wands, shows how well she manages this, taking traditional meanings and adding new twists.

Four trees struggle for light and nutrients because they stand too close together, while another tree that is separated a little from the rest thrives.  On top of normal associations with competition, this card adds the point that sometimes the only reason we get into these battles is because we don't make enough space for ourselves.  Be it in terms of differentiated roles at work, a room of our own, or just some much-needed head space created by meditating or going for a walk, we can remove ourselves from struggle if we just claim our space.

I am grateful for the space I create for myself in myriad ways.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Tree in the Moon

Today the Tarot of Trees by Dana Driscoll offers us the High Priestess.

Framed by dark and light borders in the shape of a vesica piscis, sign of spiritual enlightenment and balance, a tree sits on a crescent moon framed against the shadowed part of the moon.  Her roots dangle down, decorated by pomegranates - a nod to Persephone and her role as Queen of the Underworld.  Her branches reach upward, a balance to her roots.  Although not clothed in leaves, there is a beauty and sense of growth to the curve of her limbs.

Actually being sat on the moon links this tree-depiction of the High Priestess to the Chinese Moon Goddess Ch'ang-O, connected with herbal healing and being exiled on the Moon, unable to communicate with other people.  So, the aspects of silence and herb-lore are added to the mix.

I am grateful when I can be in silence, connecting with myself and with spirit.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Stay Playful

For this third draw with Dana Driscoll's Tarot of Trees, I pulled the Magician.

Certainly a propitious card to receive on the day I have a job interview, I really like this bright and cheery card.  The straight-trunked tree that presides over the scene is beautifully balanced of limb and brightly adorned with red.  His branches curve in curlicues that come together left of centre to suggest a heart, and implements of the four suits hang from his lower branches, dangling jauntily in the air above white lilies.  The sky around him is a warm, summer-sky blue, contrasting nicely with the pinkish-red of his foliage which is also decorated with spiral patterns - not symmetrical, yet still with a feeling of balance.

My sense here is one of open-heartedness and playfulness which allow divine energy to manifest in bounty.

I am grateful when I can playfully channel creativity in ways that are practical as well as spiritually enlivening.

I am thankful for the opportunity to show my strengths at interview for something I want to do.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

TABI's 10th Anniversary Conference: or My Weekend of Bliss

I originally up-loaded this image to use in a post discussing the Ten of Cups in different incarnations.  My main point being that the notion of the perfect family shown in the Rider Waite Smith image often just annoys me or makes me think of unhelpful or even hurtful idealisation.  I love Emily Carding's take on this card in her Tarot of the Sidhe - so much more community-based, and about using emotion to build something powerful and creative.

And I guess in some ways, that's still what this is about :)  I've just spent the weekend with a bunch of lovely people, talking about and practising with the Tarot and with Oracle decks, experimenting with spreads, and just generally having a fabulous tarot time.

Sue on the left receiving a reading from Cilla
The first evening was spent meeting friends, old and new. The chance to chat with like-minded people is always great, and though everyone has their own perspective and other interests, that just adds to the richness of the experience.   One of the people I met is a lovely lady who's just started blogging - definitely one to watch.

On Saturday, the first workshop was presented by Cilla Conway, author of two beautiful decks: the Intuitive Tarot and the Devas of Creation. Cilla talked about how to combine oracle and tarot readings, as well as the benefits and potential pitfalls of doing so. She demonstrated with a brief sample reading for one of the participants, then had us try reading that way for each other.  Not only was it an interesting experience to be on both sides, so to speak, of the reading, it was also an interesting way to connect more with other people, getting an insight into their lives, and into how they read.

Birthday Cake and various TABI Members
After a lunch full of chatter and with the grand entrance of the gorgeous TABI 10th Anniversary cake, we reconvened for two more workshops.

First, Mary Collin spoke about "How to be a Real (Tarot) Pro". She shared lots of information on planning for success and on using social media to put yourself out there.  I loved her consistently positive and supportive attitude, and also the fact that she encouraged clarity about a vision of what you want that is based on your values. It reminded me a little of Joanna Powell Colbert, author of the phenomenal Gaian Tarot, and her striving to create abundance while staying true to what she most values, including her spiritual beliefs. The message that we can be successful without selling our souls or compromising our beliefs is one that I think is important for a lot of people in the tarot community.

Mary Collin
The final workshop of the day saw Emma Sunnerton-Burl guide us through a visualisation of the Star from the Thoth deck, and explore how to read the Thoth intuitively. This was a very practical workshop, with varied exercises, and although it confirmed for me that the Thoth deck doesn't speak to me, I found it very interesting, and highly applicable to reading with any deck.  Once again, it was fascinating to hear different people's experiences, opening up a sense of commonality and difference, and how both can lead to growth and connection.

Another thing I got from this was an interesting perspective on visualisations. A couple of us discussed how we don't really "see" much, being more auditory or verbal.  One suggestion, which I plan to try, is to do the same as a stream of consciousness journalling exercise.  We also discussed just seeing "snapshot" images, which made me wonder if this connects with our liking of tarot images, and my own preference for numerous decks - each one adds to the "stock" of images my unconscious has to work with.

Will Worthington and TABI Chair Alison Cross
After a little rest, we met again to talk with the extremely talented Will Worthington, artist for the DruidCraft Tarot, the Wildwood Tarot, and several other oracle decks. It was fascinating to hear about his artistic career path, and learn a bit about how the whole deck creation and publishing process works. We also had the chance to see some of his original works: stunning. I found it strange to hear how little respect he has received as an artist, given how well he is regarded by many in the tarot community, myself included.

In this photo, Alison was wearing some amazing grey suede shoes, but you can't really see them :(  Maybe she'll put up a pic on her blog - they were fabulous!

Group photo
Dinner was another lovely opportunity to socialise, and also saw the TABI raffle, with prizes ranging from tarot journals, books and decks to original artwork by James Battersby for the forthcoming Simply Deep Tarot with Chanel Bayless!  Later, Will judged the numerous entries in the "Create an X - The Wheel card" competition.  It was great to see the incredibly varied takes on this, and the winning entry, by Nevin, will be on the front cover of the next TABI Ezine.

Later there was a Skype conversation with Mark Ryan, live from Los Angeles, which I sadly missed. However, it sounds like it was very interesting, giving some background to both the original Greenwood Tarot, the decision and process of creating the Wildwood, and also a more general background on Mark himself.

Emma Sunnerton-Burl
On Sunday we had another two workshops.  Emma Sunnerton-Burl talked about using counselling skills when reading tarot, and there was a lively discussion of the similarities and differences between the two modalities. 

After lunch, John Matthews talked us through his part in re-visioning the Greenwood to create the Wildwood, explaining the logic behind many of the alterations. He walked us through the archetypes of the Major Arcana, then we tried out reading for each other using the powerful Bow Spread.  We finished off with a guided meditation through the Wildwood.

It was wonderful to spend the weekend so focused on tarot theory and practice, learning and exploring, and also meeting and talking with so many interesting people.  Kudos to Alison Cross, TABI's chair, for doing the bulk of the organising, and to the rest of the team, and roll on next year's conference :-)

Fop, Romantic or Wimp?

Today's card from the Tarot of Trees by Dana Driscoll is the Knight of Cups.

As in the rest of these cards, this archetype is personified in a tree. When I first heard about this deck I did wonder how much I would connect with "people cards" who aren't people :) I found it somewhat challenging in the Wildwood, too, where each Court card is a different member of the animal kingdom. However, overall I find the Tarot of Trees Courts quite evocative. Perhaps least so, though, with this Knight of Cups, or at least so I thought until I began to ponder him for this blog!

His branches wave back a bit like Hugh Grant's floppy hair, giving me a feeling of someone who sees himself as romantic when actually he may be more narcissistic. On the other hand, I could see the branches as cradling his cup tenderly, holding it close to his heart(wood). On the third hand (I'm clearly having a Kali day), there is no apparent reason for his branches to droop so - is he just a wimp, easily pushed about by circumstances or others?

And so perhaps this is quite a good depiction of the Knight of Cups.  Despite not being a person, his posture lends itself to a number of variations - I imagine others will see other things in him, too!

I am grateful for the times I feel tenderly held.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Come Rain or Shine

This week I will be drawing from the Tarot of Trees, by Dana Driscoll.  I am extremely impressed with this charming little deck.  Self-published, the production values are of the highest order.  The companion book is full colour, and the deck itself is well-thought out and easy to read with.

For this first draw I pulled XIV - Temperance.  A verdant tree stands on a green hill, its roots reaching down into the waters of a nearby river, its branches reaching up to the warmth of the sun.  This illustrates nicely the idea that in life, as in gardening, you need just the right mix for healthy development.  Too much sun and the leaves burn, too little and the tree lacks energy.  Too much water and the roots may rot, too little and the tree dries up, unable to move nutrients around.  The right amounts at the right times make up the optimum mix for healthy growth. 

I am grateful for being in an environment that promotes emotional and spiritual growth and health - yay for the TABI 10th Anniversary Conference.

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Hermit's Lamp

For this last draw with the Silver Era Tarot, by Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon, I pulled the Hermit.

This card seems most appropriate on the day I head off for TABI's 10th Anniversary two-day Conference. I'm sooo excited!  It'll be a time for learning, exploring, and getting away from normal social duties and responsibilities - the Hermit!

In this depiction, the element highlighted in colour is the Hermit's lamp, glowing brightly yellow in the darkness.  This reminds me of Arwen's interpretation of the Hermit's lamp, discussed in my post about the great Life's Path reading she did for me a little while back, as well as in her most recent fictional post on the Fool's Journey.  What Arwen says is that the Hermit's lantern holds a star, or more precisely The Star.  Releasing this hope, this guiding light, so that we can follow it and be buoyed by it, is perhaps part of the task suggested by the Hermit card.  Another interpretation would simply be that the Hermit seeks for answers on paths less trodden, and is guided by an inner light.

I am grateful for this opportunity to follow the guiding light of tarot.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Final Push...For Now

I hope that this penultimate card from the Silver Era Tarot (by Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon) will prove as appropriate as it seems.

The card is the Nine of Wands, and I associate it (at least today) with the idea of having to make one last push towards a goal.  It's not the kind of goal that means everything is resolved for good - that would be the World for completion, or Judgement for beginning a whole new era, for example.  But at least the end is in sight for this particular situation, or so I hope.  Big Boy suffered a medical emergency back on the 9th of July, and today he goes in for surgery.  It won't solve everything, not by a long chalk, but at least it'll get us back to a manageable status quo.

In today's card, the figure looks to the left, often associated with the past.  Her gaze and her stance say it has been a hard road.  Still, she stands firm with her wand, and defended by the wands behind her.  The colour highlight on this card are the lilac patches on her dress, checkered with black.  This returns me to the idea I expressed in talking about the Queen of Cups in this deck (Red Queen), about body wisdom.  Here, her wisdom is only partial, it's based just on this situation, rather than being generally applicable.  Still, it will hopefully be enough for now.

I am grateful that the end of this situation is in sight.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Today's card from the Silver Era Tarot by Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon is Strength.

It's weird the things that pop into my head when I look at images (well, other times too, but that's what I'm talking about today).  Although I've seen the Strength card many times in many decks, I think this is the first time that this song has popped into my head on looking at it.  And it's not even a song I'm aware of ever having heard (it came out when I was two!)

I find it curious that the artists chose to highlight the lemniscate above the woman's head - they didn't do so in yesterday's Magician, the first card (numerically) in which it appears.  And the choice of colour, too - a bright, deep blue.  Perhaps that's what sparked my lyrical brain, as I associate blue with the throat chakra and communication - being willing and able to say what you want.  And that fits well with both this card, and with the song of female empowerment that sprang into my mind.  How interesting to work through the connections!

I am grateful for the gains that have been made by women in our society, so that we can speak our minds and live our truths, without always having to hide our strength.

I am thankful for my gut instincts and my ability to figure them out rationally, at least some of the time.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Dark Mage

Drawing still from the photographic Silver Era Tarot by Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon, today's card is the Magician.  I find it fascinating that in some instances the scans show up more detail than can be seen by the naked eye.  Until I saw this image, I hadn't noticed that there was gorgeous, dark, flocked wallpaper in the background!

In this deck, as well as the black-and-white photography and a single element in colour, another feature is the fact that Aunia is the main figure on almost all the cards.  The exceptions are the Kings, the Emperor, and cards where a male and female figure are shown, such as the Lovers, the Devil, and the Two of Cups.  So, this Magician is Aunia, wearing glasses and gazing with interest on a bottle with some green liquid swilling around the bottom.  It reminds me a little of the Bohemian Gothic Tarot, where there is a similar green liquid in a couple of cards (the Nine of Cups springs to mind).  It's interesting that the element highlighted is this bottle.  I guess she couldn't prefer one of the four suit implements to the detriment of the others.  This potion is a distillation of the Magician's knowledge and magic, embodied so that it can be put to use.

I am grateful for times when I can manifest my creative will.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Red Queen

For the second day in a row, my daily card from the photographic Silver Era Tarot (by Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon) is a Queen.

This time it's the turn of the Queen of Cups.  Here Aunia has blonde hair, and the highlighted element is her purple dress (yeah, so I took a little liberty calling her the Red Queen, but Purple Queen would sound a bit weird).  To me, this suggests that she has a depth of body wisdom, that she is in touch with her bodily felt sense to assess situations at an emotional, spiritual level, and rational level.  The spiritual is highlighted by her headdress with a pendant at her third eye, while the rational is indicated by the book in her left hand, and the emotional is shown by the cup in her right hand.  The bodily felt sense combines these elements, and is sensed as a complex whole, hence the wisdom of her body where these various elements are combined and assessed at a level beyond each of them individually.

I am grateful for what I am learning about focusing on my bodily felt sense.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Dark Queen

For this second day with the Silver Era Tarot, by Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon, I pulled the Queen of Swords.

I really like this rather dark Queen.  She holds an intricately etched sword, suggesting that her wit, whether used for good or ill, is cleverly crafted.  As in traditional images, the sword she holds points straight up - she can see the truth of matters, and cut to the heart of them.  The highlighted element in this card is the waning moon behind her, reminding us of this Queen's connection with the ability to cut ties, to let go emotionally.  It is a subtle cue, too, to her sense of loss and endings lived through, and a reminder that these come and go in phases.

I am grateful for times when I can look dispassionately but empathetically at other people's issues, if not always my own.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sunshine On A Rainy Day

For this week I have chosen a photographic deck with a delightful twist.  The Silver Era Tarot, by Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon, features black-and-white photographs, each with one or two elements highlighted in colour.  It is a concept that works very well, though I'm less certain about the large grey borders - this is a deck I may trim at some point.

On this not-so-sunny Saturday, the card I drew was the Sun.  In this card, it is the eponymous Sun itself which is highlighted, glowing a pale yellow in a cloudy sky, with white rays shining forth from it - some rather obvious photoshopping having been done to the original cloudy sky image.

The somewhat stormy clouds led to the post's title, and this song:
In a fascinating display of synchronicity, I had never seen the video that accompanies this song and it turns out to have lots of black-and-white imagery with colour in one element or in the background!

I am grateful for times when light pierces the gloom, brightening my soul.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Whistle While You Work

For this final pull with the Hezicos Tarot, by Mary Griffin, I drew the Three of Pentacles.

The main figure looks very busy with his work, painting the outside of a tree-house building to add beautiful colour to it.  Three smaller faery figures flutter around, checking what he's doing.  Despite these on-lookers, or perhaps because of them, the main artisan looks a little serious, but also has a rather Mona Lisa smile.  He wears a green hat, which speaks of his creative thoughts being made real and growing organically.  

I am grateful for the people with whom I can share interesting projects.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

How to Fall

For this sixth draw with the Hezicos Tarot, I pulled the Tower - perennial favourite, blah!

The first thing that strikes me is the fact that the three people falling from the Tower are doing so very differently.  One woman clings to the Tower crenellations, trying to stave off the inevitable.  She holds to the structure, even now that it is fragmented and collapsing.  It feels like the top of the Tower will come crashing down on her. 

The next person down is tumbling head first, and looks to be headed for the rocks.  Trying to be logical when everything your logic is based on crumbles may not be the most helpful approach, then.

Another person allows their body to curve and flow with the fall, caught by the water below and lifted by a wave.  Will the water throw them onto the rocks, or draw them out into the deeps?  It feels like this is the safest option so far.  Nevertheless, allowing emotion to catch us and take us where it will, we surely end up somewhere different to where we started.  We may drown in emotion, or be dashed on the rocks, or we may we find our way to shore again.  Emotion may protect us, or it may not.

On the other side of the Tower, a dog runs away from the burning, crashing, lightning-struck building.  Following our most primitive instincts, allowing ourselves to start from a place of complete un-knowing, may be the best option of all.  If we give up the entire structure we had created and allow ourselves to go back to basics, we will not be crushed nor pulled down, nor drowned.  This isn't easy, though.  It reminds me of the saying, "Let go and let God".  We have to surrender ourselves to a primal knowing, which we can't understand, and without emotion tossing us here and there.  Yeah, good luck with that!

I am grateful for the many options and possibilities offered by life, even if sometimes it doesn't feel like choice has much to do with it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

This Token Admits One

Still drawing from the soon to go Out-of-Print Hezicos Tarot, today's card is the Ace of Coins (Pentacles).

I'm sure I read somewhere that the deck creator, Mary Griffin, has long painted the world of Hezicos.  Certainly, the people and locations depicted in this tarot have an other-wordly feel both in the sense of seeming different, but also in that they seem like elements of an internally congruent place.  From there, this Ace of Coins seems not only to represent the coin of the realm, but perhaps also a way into this world - a token that allows us access.  As such, it suggests a physical beginning, a move, a new start for exploration that will lead us into a different way of connecting with things which once seemed everyday.

I am grateful for the strange newness of everything, which becomes apparent if we can look at it with the eyes of a child.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wind of Change

I hadn't realised until now that the Hezicos Tarot was voted one of the Top Ten Decks in 2010 by people on the Aeclectic Forum.  I'd certainly agree, it's a lovely deck, very charismatic.  The Card of the Day today is the Eight of Rods, and is another great example of this.

This card seems rather Monty Python-esque to me.  I can just imagine all the rods talking together as they fly along on the wind blown by the strange figure below.  Some are happy to be on the move, another is grumpy, one seems resigned, one rather dubious, and one looks to me like he's taking the opportunity to steal the limelight, explaining what he thinks is going on and pointing out the sights as they fly by.

Even when events sweep us away, getting us moving whether we want to or not, we can choose how to respond to this wind of change.

I am grateful that things may finally be on the move - I'll be one of the happy ones today

Monday, 11 July 2011


For this third day with the charming Hezicos Tarot (get one while you still can!), I drew the Wheel of Fortune.

Lots of different symbolism is shown here.  For one thing, I notice that the Wheel looks like a roulette wheel.  For another, piles of money grow as they reach the top of the Wheel, only to be spilled from it as it continues to turn - apt metaphors for changing monetary fortunes and the cycles these go through.  Looking, though, to the big picture, the Wheel seems to be turned and buoyed on a churning river, like a mill wheel.  And the rocks and boulders on one side, mainly brown but with a few brighter colours thrown in, are transformed into candles of different shapes and sizes, but all glowing golden and burning brightly.  The message seems to be one of transforming our life's experiences into wisdom, bringing us closer to enlightenment.

I am grateful for the learning opportunities offered by both the ups and downs of life.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Divining What To Say

For this second pull from the Hezicos Tarot, another Court Card has come up.

This rather sinister looking chap is the Page of Swords.  I think he looks sinister to my eyes because of the stubble, the eyeliner and the pointy ears.  He also seems war-like due to his clubbed hair.  I notice, though, his jewellry.  The small sword pendant on his necklace is a clear reminder of his suit, but what to make of his earring? 

It reminds me of a pendulum, which takes me away from ideas of sneakiness, a double-edged tongue and mind, and aggressive tendencies, and towards the title of this post.  Clearly the Page of Swords can have all those other qualities, but he is also connected with ideas, communication, and truth.  He is starting on the path of seeking answers, and why should he not also ask questions of spirit?  If the Page of Swords is sometimes a little rash in how he communicates, might he not also ask how he could better get his message across?

I am grateful for a sense of newness in the quest for answers about life.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to experiment with new ways of communicating with others.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

What's Your Passion?

This week I will be drawing from the Hezicos Tarot, by Mary Griffin.  This delightful deck is about to go Out-of-Print, and the last few copies are being sold off at a bargain price, so do take a look!

For this first pull I drew the Queen of Rods (Wands).  I love her acorn earrings, suggesting projects that she grows with her energy and enthusiasm.  I notice, too, her necklace, which suggests self-sufficiency to me.  Her crown is made of wood, another connection with strength and naturalness, while her hair is bound up in red and green cords, strong colours of passion and growth.  Her green eyes gaze candidly out, and her eyebrows are arched - a certain curiosity and determination expressed there.  I suddenly notice, for the first time, the peculiar shape and size of her ears!  Does this make her a good listener, in tune with her environment?

I am grateful for the strength to grow the projects I feel passionately about.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Classes or solitary practice?

The other day, I was practising yoga by myself.  A short while before, I had been talking to someone who had tried going to a yoga class, but was put off because she was a beginner and the class seemed too advanced for her.  I started thinking about some of the issues that people have when they consider whether to practice in a class.

I think some of the problems are nicely expressed in this image from the Anna K Tarot.  Being in a class setting, while it affords the chance to have a teacher to answer questions and to see what you're doing, so as to suggest ways that may be more helpful, also has all the negatives of group situations. 

For beginners, a class may be off-putting either because the person feels they can't do anything and everyone else seems to know what they should be doing.  Sometimes, too, if someone is naturally very flexible, they may be singled out (which I think is very bad practice on the teacher's part, but it can happen) as an example for others.  Despite being praised, this can be an embarrassing experience that puts people off going to classes.  The element of being in the gaze of others, in both these instances, can negatively affect the enjoyment of the class.

However, it's also true that for more advanced practitioners, a class setting can still have its downsides.  The feeling that others are looking at you you can make people push themselves too hard, trying to perform for the imagined gaze of others or trying to compete.  I have seen people in class trembling and straining in exertion.  I remember in particular an active older gentleman, who felt he had to prove something.  Despite my cues that people should find their own level within a pose, and shouldn't go further if they couldn't do something, he insisted on trying to do the hardest version of every pose, though he should probably have stayed at the first level to get the most benefit.  I tried speaking to him individually after class, but to no avail, and I was afraid every class that he would do himself an injury.

Even with teachers there can be trouble with a class setting.  One teacher friend of mine never took classes where she worked, though she did go to other centres to take classes.  She felt too on-the-spot in a class with some of her students, feeling she had to try to be perfect to uphold her teacher image, rather than focusing on enjoying the class and finding her way into her own practice and meditation.

Nevertheless, classes do have a lot to recommend them.  The individual attention of someone with more experience, who can guide you visually, by voice, and sometimes with hands-on adjustments, can help a lot with learning and improving, no matter your level of practice.  And the energy of the class, the heat and flow generated, can help carry you through a practice if your own energy is flagging.  It's not just if your energy is low that the class can give you a boost: there is one pose that I have only managed to practice twice in my life, both times in a class setting - the energy of the class just seemed to draw me into it.

The joy of solitary practice is that it can be a lot more meditative, you can tailor it to how you feel on the day, and there is no need to compete or perform (though some people may still compete with themselves - how long can I hold a pose?  Is this my hardest practice ever?)  Obviously, though, self-practice requires either a certain level of knowledge, a good DVD/book, and discipline or enthusiasm. 

My personal feeling is that both class and solitary practice have their place for practitioners of any level.  What do you think?  What have your experiences been?

Illustration: Two of Pentacles from the Anna K Tarot.


For this last draw with Ellen Lorenzi-Prince's Tarot of the Crone, I have pulled the Eight of Disks.

Strangely, this card reminds me most of the Thoth Four of Disks, and in fact the book's description is somewhat similar.  What price security?  If we are so anxious about what we have that we build walls, we lock ourselves in far more than we lock others out.  The author states that this is the next level up from the Four of Disks, in this deck entitled Home.  Here in the Eight of Disks, it is not merely physical day-to-day security we are looking at, but also more "abstract protections such as psychic boundaries and monetary investments".  The more we up the ante, the more we may lock ourselves into our anxiety.

I am grateful for the reminder to stay open to others, and to love.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Shadow of Swords

This morning the card that confronts me from Ellen Lorenzi-Prince's Tarot of the Crone is the Shadow of Swords. 

The Shadow cards are the negative aspect of the suit, taken to its extreme, and replace the Kings of traditional decks, without any suggestion of similarity.  This image, the Shadow of the suit of Swords, shows someone who is fragmented, made up of jagged ideas that don't hold together, yet are rigidly precise.  There is a distinct coldness to this shadow.

I am grateful that I rarely feel fragmented.

I am thankful that my ideas no longer control me to the detriment of feeling and emotional warmth.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

What's Worthwhile?

Yesterday, as could be seen from my “Pulling Covers Over My Head Spread” post, I was feeling a bit down.  This points out something I feel is important.  Firstly, I probably shouldn’t blog when I’m really tired.  Secondly, the answer is in the question.

A spread which is about why you don’t feel like getting out of bed sets out to look at issues and things you feel negatively about.  Admittedly, the spread has two up-beat positions (what’s worth getting out of bed for, and what’s your coffee/chicken soup), and one semi-neutral position (where are you right now, sleepyhead).  Analysing it like this, I realise that the darkness really was mostly in me.  If we look at a three card “situation, issue, resolution” spread, there is also one neutral, one negative and one positive card.  Still, the title of the spread says that the whole question is about not wanting to face the world.

All that aside, I slept well last night and decided to try to look at what is of value in my life.  To frame a positive question I drew three cards from the Wildwood Tarot to look at what is worthwhile in three areas of my life – my work, my family, and my wider context.

What is worthwhile in my work: Four of Stones – Protection

My work with clients tries to create a safe space where they can express their vulnerability.  The framework of therapy creates a “sacred” space where anything can be talked about.  And in that space, that willingness to be with the other in difficult times, there is a kind of protection.  Not that everything is suddenly OK, but that there is at least the possibility of looking at what in life can be helpful, and having a moment where you don’t have to be on top of it all, where it’s alright to be vulnerable.

What is worthwhile in my family: 13 – The Journey

Despite the difficulties, this card suggests that the medical problems with Big Boy provide the possibility of growing and learning, of becoming stronger and letting go of some ideas that are unhelpful.  Connecting this with yesterday’s reading, I’m reminded of the old saw that “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.  So, I’m getting stronger, hard though it may feel.

I can acknowledge, though, that this situation, this process, has changed how I see the world, in a way that makes me more tolerant, more compassionate, at least sometimes.  When I pick over the bones of what has happened, I can find what remains, what survives beyond the ending of old dreams and beliefs.

There’s something here, too, about needing to work on grieving.  This is definitely an on-going process.  A need to accept what is, rather than what I wish were the case.  Three and a half years in, this is still so difficult and painful.  This reminds me of something that came up in my reading with Arwen last week, where the Seeker (Fool) was the “shadow” card.  I need to re-find my joy in life, my sense of innocence and fun.  It won’t happen overnight, but perhaps it is beginning.

What is worthwhile in my life generally: 9 – The Hooded Man

I smiled when I saw this card – good thing, too, as the previous card had made me cry.  The equivalent card from the Gaian Tarot came up in the reading I had last week with Arwen, where it represented the next step on my life’s path! 

So, learning is definitely worthwhile for me.  Not just book learning, though, but spiritual learning.  Last night my Dear One and I spoke of the need we both feel to meditate more (or at all, in his case).  And that was something Arwen and I spoke of last week, too :D big grin

Lots of resonances here, clearly.  Now, I just have to heed these messages, to value what is good in my life, let go of what I cannot change, and actually make the time to sit and meditate #-o d'oh!

Beast of Cups - Frog

This fine morning I drew the Beast of Cups from the Tarot of the Crone by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.

In this deck, the Court Cards have been re-designated as Beast, Witch, Grandmother and Shadow, not comparable really to traditional ideas.  Here, in the Beast of Cups, we see a red and black frog sitting on a black branch, above lilac waters (the book says this is a lavender sky).  My associations to the frog include ideas about fertility and the ability to exist in different environments.  This image also reminds me of the great many bright colours that frogs take, and how at home they are in the water, element of emotions.  However, the companion book points out that the frog is very sensitive to it's environment, having a skin that is more permeable than most.  The author suggests this card is connected, among other things, with being sensitive to stresses around you.

I am grateful that I feel able to reveal myself emotionally.

I am thankful that while being sensitive to life's stresses, I can still feel comfortable in quite different situation.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Pulling the Covers Over My Head Spread

Recently, Claire at Beneath the Oak blogged about this spread, by Glass Owl in the e-booklet 'Personal Growth Spreads' from Aeceltic Tarot.  I really liked it, so I decided to give it a test run with the Answer Deck, which I just received.

1 - The sleepyhead: You, in your current state - Abundance

I have everything I need, so what is there to get out of bed for?  More realistically, I see this card as though it were reversed: I feel like I ought to have the whole world in my hands, and yet it all rings hollow.  Perhaps a sense that everything feels false - a mock globe in my hands rather than the real world.   Yes, I have all the basics, but then everything gets complicated.  And I'm doing something I want to be doing, and enjoying it, yet I don't have much energy...
2 - A good reason for staying in bed: This is the problem you don’t want to deal with or the reason why you are feeling down - Good News 

I don't tend to use reversals often, so when I saw this card in this position, how I read it was reversed.  There is no good news at the moment, and it's dragging me down.  I feel I have no energy, nothing to dance about.  Between Doctor's appointments for Big Boy, seeing clients who are depressed and not feeling sure if I'm helping them, and having turned forty, it's all a bit of a downer at the moment.

3 - A good reason for getting out of bed: This is your motivation for getting out of bed and facing the day - Strength

When I look at this card, the figure seems oppressive rather than up-lifting.  Still, perhaps this suggests more the fact that others need my strength, even though I sometimes doubt I have it in me.  I keep getting up and coping, just that in itself may be enough for the moment.  If I can keep going long enough, something will change.  And perhaps that's where the fourth card comes in...
4 - The chicken noodle soup or cup of coffee: This is what will nourish your soul or help lift your spirits - Battle

Once again, I'll take some poetic licence in interpreting this card.  Tapping into my strength will help give me the energy to do battle again.  And perhaps, too, finding something I think is worth fighting for will lift my energy levels, if not exactly my spirits.  I could see this as needing a hero to rescue me, but I think I go more for the notion that I need to do some searching for what feels truly worthwhile to me.  So, more of a question than an answer, but that's OK.  What is really worthwhile?  I guess that'll need a different spread


The card I drew today is the Ten of Swords from the Tarot of the Crone, by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.

Strangely, this depiction has a very different feel to me than most images.  Perhaps because of the way the swords radiate out from the figure, almost like a golden halo.  Perhaps, also, because the person is encased in a robe, which seems to be shredded by the swords, allowing the person within to emerge.  Maybe, too, because the pierced spots are the same blue as the surrounding area, suggesting that these swords, these ideas, free the person to become one with the world around them, rather than cut off and separated by a robe representing protection but also limitation.  I also like the figure's pose, hands spread wide as though welcoming what comes.

I am grateful for the liberation that can come from new ideas.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Stars, But No Stripes

For today's draw with the Tarot of the Crone by Ellen Lorrenzi-Prince, I pulled the Ten of Cups.

Three super-imposed five-pointed stars coalesce into a figure, dancing in a star-filled sky.  The only connection with the earth seems to be through an umbilical-cord-like line from the base point of the smallest, red star, which also flows upwards into the figure's "face".  The red and white stars are also filled with smaller stars, only the purple outer layer is simple.

This makes me think of happiness come from being grounded, while at the same time filled with the light of the universe.  As some people say, we are all stardust made into flesh.  At a molecular level, we are stars.  We are also all connected to every other human in the world, and all the other beings, through our genes.

Can we learn to dance lightly, secure in this knowledge of connection and individuality combined, of physicality and spirituality wrapped in a single form?

I am grateful for my body, which connects me with life.

I am thankful for the beauty and diversity of forms that stardust takes.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Early Morning Pathway Reading

This morning I was up at 2.40am with Big Boy, an unfortunately regular occurrence.  After I had managed to get him back to sleep, at least for a short while, I decided to do a reading on a doctor’s appointment we have next week, which I hope may help.  Drawing from the Wildwood Tarot (illustrated by Will Worthington), I used the three-card Pathway Spread from the companion book (co-authored by Mark Ryan and John Matthews).

Situation: Ace of Arrows - The Breath of Life

This card seems appropriate in a number of ways.  Firstly, part of the issue with BB is that he risks not being able to breathe.  So yes, I’m hoping that this appointment will bring him renewed potential to breathe and live.

Secondly, the card suggests a new idea or information.  At the appointment we should get results on a number of tests run back in May, so that seems appropriate.  And the card isn’t just telling me what I already know, in the sense that we already had one appointment, which failed to provide any new information at all.

However, this card, as an ace, reminds me too that even if we do get some useful new information, it will only be a first step in what will hopefully be a new part of the path we have been walking for a while.  

As background, in March 2009 one doctor recommended a particular operation for BB.  We didn’t like her (nicknaming her Dr. God-Complex) and didn’t like her suggestions.  Another of her recommendations would definitely have been negative for both BB and for us, and all the medical professionals we’ve seen since agree that it wasn’t necessary - lucky for me as I fought it tooth and nail, to the point where Dr. God-Complex wrote to me saying she had reported me to their legal and social services team for ignoring medical advice!

So, this isn’t a new issue.  However, since February 2010 we’ve been seeing various doctors and having different tests done, trying out different medications, and so on.  Having narrowed down the possible issues, the most recent tests will hopefully be the last ones necessary for them to give us some suggestions about what to actually do.  That doesn’t mean we’ll be able to do it then and there - far from it!  Hence the Ace-ness of this situation.  Hopefully, though, it will give us the information to know where to go from here.

Action To Take: 11 - The Woodward

What this card says to me is that I need to be protective without being aggressive.  The Woodward defends his territory.  However, he tempers the strength of his mountain lion companion, bringing his mature wisdom to bear.  So, no rushing into anything, and no getting mouthy with the doctors - sometimes a challenge for me.  However, I do think I need to be firm about what is important to us.  For example, if the consultant recommends an operation, we want it carried out by a different surgeon, who we trust more.

I also notice the eagle flying high in the sky above him.  A reminder to keep some perspective?  It’s important to be aware of all the details, but I also have to be able to see the big picture - some of these decisions will affect BB for the rest of his life.

Action Not To Take: 5 - The Ancestor

I was rather taken aback when I first saw this card.  Although I normally don’t much like Major Arcana V - The Hierophant - I’m actually rather partial to this depiction.  

The first message I take from this is not to be hidebound by ideas from the past.  After some further thought I also remembered that, back in 2009, my mother spoke to a shaman friend of hers.  This lovely woman did a vision journey about BB’s situation, and thought that a particular operation wouldn’t be beneficial for him.  However, more than two years on, I wonder whether that has changed.  Should the doctors recommend it, I don’t think I’d fight to protect her vision, and this card seems to support this feeling.  It’s time to let go of ideas and truths that may have been right in the past.  We’ve been through a lot in the last two years, and I’m willing to put some trust in medical recommendations, because things certainly aren’t working very well the way they are now.

Overall, this reading leaves me feeling fairly hopeful, even though I know that hope is a rather double-edged sword on which I have cut myself in the past.

Sacred Space

Interestingly, on this second day pulling from the Tarot of the Crone I drew the Four of Wands which, according to my labels section, I've not yet drawn since I started this blog!

As with most, if not all, of the cards in this deck, the image is non-traditional.   We see a female figure in a pyramid of sacred space, lines of power flowing around her.  It is through our will and intent that we create space for ourselves, be it in terms of sacred space or just a tidy kitchen area, a desk we feel comfortable working at, or time to do something for ourselves.

I am grateful for my personal space and ability to do some of the things I want.

I am thankful that the tarot helps create sacred space for me to feel spiritually connected.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Recently, James Ricklef wrote an interesting post about the Hermit, referring to the saying that "When the student is ready, the teacher will come."  He suggests that it is also true that when the teacher is ready, the students come.  I would add to this something which Ernesto Spinelli wrote in his book "Tales of Un-Knowing" regarding psychotherapists: 'at key points in our practice, we will get the clients we deserve."

All this made me think of the energy of the Six of Pentacles.  While this card is sometimes seen as being about charity, I also see it as referring to giving what we can and getting what we need.  A big part of this echoes what Spinelli adds: that it is we ourselves, as meaning creators in our own lives, who imbue those clients and their material with what we need to learn.  Almost a sense that we get what we need because that is what we are able to see in the moment.  Likewise, the student finds a teacher of whom she can make sense at this moment in time, given her current beliefs.  And the teacher teaches what she needs to learn, finding students who will encourage her to explore that, not just because of what they are seeking, but of what she notes in them, which is never all that they are.

Perhaps, then, true generosity comes from life, which permits us to explore what our soul hungers to learn...

I have just had an experience of this.  At the start of June I listened to Tarot By Arwen's Tarotscopes (always interesting).  Her special offer for listeners was a discount on her "Life's Path" reading.  Given that I was (and still am) going through a lot of questioning of where I'm going, and where I should be going, in life, I decided to take the plunge.  And so, yesterday, I had a Skype reading with Arwen. 

Up til now, Arwen was someone I admired and respected, but from the distance of the written word, and her disembodied voice on a podcast.  It was lovely to finally *meet* her, even if still in a somewhat virtual form.  And the reading said quite a few things that I think I needed to hear, or maybe was just ready to hear.

An added synchronicity was the fact that the first card of the reading, indicating where I am now, is actually the card that Arwen had drawn for my sun sign in her July Tarotscope :D big grin  

This reading really looked at a lot of different aspects of my life, and helped me think about some uncomfortable things, too.  As an added bonus, I learned a little about Arwen, and also a new take on how to read the card that is at the bottom of the pack!  I've always seen this described as the Teacher card, or what is the underlying issue of the reading.  Arwen interpreted it in terms of what is the Shadow - that which we want to keep furthest from what we're looking at.  I guess both takes on this card aren't all that different, but the subtle change in emphasis was a real eye-opener for me, especially given how Arwen interpreted the card that came up in that position - the Seeker!

So, this was a reading where I learned some things about myself, some things about someone I have long respected, and some things about reading tarot - what generosity from both Arwen and the Universe!  My deepest thanks to her for this thought-provoking experience.

I listen to Tarotscopes by Tarot by Arwen & they're great.

Image: Maker Six (Six of Pentacles) from Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe, published by Schiffer.