Sunday, 31 March 2013

Cutting Through

©Betty Lopez & Napo
Today we have another man in brown from the Napo Tarot (US Games, 1998).

This time, it is the Page of Swords who comes slicing towards us, brandishing what looks more like a dagger than a sword.  His outfit is reminiscent of the costumes in a film noir, dapper with its white scarf and trilby.  And there is something almost Picasso-esque about the lines that cut across both him and the strange landscape around him. 

It's as though the surroundings, and even the Page himself,  are unformed.  They need to be seen and processed by the Page's mind before becoming real.

An interesting perspective on perception and the power of the mind, which fits well with the Page.  He hasn't yet quite figured out what to do with all the information coming in, but cobbles it together as best he can, learning and polishing his understanding as he goes.  Of course, the film noir feel would also fit with traditional interpretations of this Page as a sneak and a spy...

Ah, perception!  I know it's true that how we respond to situations is strongly influenced by how we perceive them.  Whether we see the world through rose-tinted glasses or something rather darker affects how we manage whatever life throws at us.  And yet, it can be hard to change our lenses, even when we become aware of them.

For me, it is sometimes all too easy to focus on the negative: on Big Boy's disabilities and health issues.  Today, I shall try to see things from a new perspective, to find the good and the joyous in each moment I have with him.

I am grateful for my beautiful family, and for joyous cuddles.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Weighing Up

©Betty Lopez & Napo
This week's deck is the Napo Tarot (US Games, 1998).  With interesting blocky watercolour illustrations and Golden Dawn-based keywords in English and Spanish, it's traditional without being dull.

For today, we have the Two of Pentacles, with the title Change.  Front and centre is a man dressed in a mottled light brown shirt and matching boots, with darker brown ballooned trousers, a blue neckerchief, a brown hat, and a red cape.  He holds a large, golden pentacle in each hand, with geometric sun patterns on them.  As though magnetically connected, light shines from each pentacle towards its neighbour, forming a straight-lined version of the traditional lemniscate. The man stands on brown earth, with sea just behind him, and a divided sky: darker to the right, where the pentacle is held high.  His gaze goes up towards that pentacle, with a rather assessing look.

His clothes are neat and matching, yet muddied.  That, the keyword and his assessing look speak to me of having to cautiously weigh up options in the face of changing circumstances.

It's not the first time, recently, that the Two of Pents has come up for me.  As I said on Thursday, I need to do some prioritising, maybe make some tough choices to not do things which inspire me in favour of things I need to do.  I'm used to those choices when it comes to work, but less so in the area of tarot and Lenormand.  I guess this is part of the price I pay for starting to turn my passion into a commercial venture.

I am grateful for the chance to do things I'm passionate about, even if I have to choose between them.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Lennie Week 5 - Magical Lenormand

Today's deck is a rather more traditional one, once again from Germany.  The Magisches (Magical) Lenormand (Büttner Verlag, maybe 2010) is a friendly little deck, with playing card inserts that are oval, and little swirls at the sides with the numbers and copyright mark.

Magisches Lenormand
The reading, though, is a little less friendly: Coffin, Mountain, Moon.

A blocked ending affects reputation.
A long-lasting sickness you just can't get over leads to deep emotions.
Insurmountable mourning.

Thinking a little more empoweringly, perhaps the notion of blocking emotions around a painful ending or sickness might be a useful one.  While we cannot live in denial, sometimes it is useful to set our emotions aside for a while. 

Big Boy is ill again, fourth one in six weeks!  Today, then, I will take what respite I can get from difficult emotions.  I have an Indian Head Massage booked, and  will try to get my Dear One to go out for a walk in the weak sunshine shimmering outside.  For now, though, it's off to exercise :)

I am grateful for many little ways to relax.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Body-Mind-Spirit Spread TLC'd

Tarot of the Absurd and Mini Under the Roses
After Monday's reading on combining tarot cards in Lenormand houses, I thought I'd try out a spread using this technique.  Starting off with a basic, tarot-style Body-Mind-Spirit Spread, I combined the Tarot of the Absurd (Jessica Shanahan, 2012) with the Mini Under the Roses Lenormand (Hurteau & Hill, 2012).

The positions on the bottom line are Body-Mind-Spirit, with a TLC pairing above for the Message from the Cards.

©Hurteau & Hill ©Jessica Shanahan
Body - Five of Sticks (Wands) in the House of the Stars

Yikes, look at all that fighting!  Sticks brandished in every direction...  And in the House of the Stars, which can suggest hope and guidance, but also plans, things that spread, technology and night time.  Plenty to choose from there :)

A couple of different messages come through to me from this.  Firstly, there is the continued/continual fight against the spread of germs.  I love to cuddle Big Boy, but he is an absolute germ (and snot) factory.  So, I'm still fighting sinusitis, which I thought had gone, but which has come back a bit.  The Stars can also link to the hope I have of relief - my beloved neti pot ;)

Secondly, there is the nightly battle with exhaustion, as Big Boy still rarely sleeps through - maybe once a month.  Last night, he woke a few times in the evening, then had me up from 3am to 4am. After that I was still on tenterhooks, and at 5.45am he got up for the day...

Thirdly, there is the struggle with myself, as I attempt to lose a bit of weight (a couple of kilos is all, that's maybe four pounds for you non-metric folk).  I'm trying to follow a plan - daylight fasts twice a week.  When I'm tired, though, fasting becomes ten times harder.  And when I'm feeling emotionally down, chocolate calls to me - a siren song of temptation - and all my plans go out the window :(

Under the Roses + Tarot of the Absurd
Mind - Knight of Sticks (Wands) in the House of Clover

In many ways I am a fan both of the energy and verve of the Knight of Sticks, and of the happiness and opportunities offered by the Clover.  However, combining them in the position of Mind, I'm not sure it bodes particularly well.

Just look at that Knight, so much dynamism as he aims his bow, so much movement to his position, and that of his steed.  And yet, he's pointing straight up in the sky - not gonna hit much, except maybe himself when his arrow comes back down!

The Knight of Sticks has a tendency to shoot off after whatever takes his fancy, but that can change from moment to moment.  And the Clover is a card of opportunities, of sparkly things that catch our eye and offer us some brief happiness.  Neither, though, has any staying power.

Just yesterday, I got going on the presentation for my workshop at the UK Tarot Conference, which I'm really looking forward to.  (The programme is now up on the webpage, if you want to see all the delights on offer that weekend!)  And that led me to an exciting new idea, which I hope will come to fruition later this year.  However, my mother reminded me that I'd better finish a couple of the projects I already have going before charging off after this new notion, and she's quite right!  My mind would happily chase off after each new opportunity, so I need to find ways to rein it in, to keep that energy focused on what I have to do, not what I might like today.

Under the Roses + Tarot of the Absurd
Spirit - Two of Blades (Swords) in the House of the Letter

Bah, with all that conflict, sickness and exhaustion at a physical level and my mind racing off in different directions at every new thought, it's no wonder my spirit is at cross-purposes with itself.  In fact, a bit of a standstill might be quite the thing, taking a step back to assess the different ideas, maybe write about them, as the Letter could suggest...

Still, what I also see in this TLC House is the message that this stuckness is quite superficial (the Letter again): I know what I need to do, deep down.  Doesn't mean it'll be easy, but at least the necessary direction is there for the taking.

I need to look after my health, to eat more consciously and put in place alternate strategies to help me with that.  Return to my knitting after dinner, for instance, which I haven't done for months.  And I need to write a list of deadlines for my various projects, and then WORK ON THEM IN THAT ORDER!

Under the Roses + Tarot of the Absurd
Message from the Cards - Ten of Cups in the House of the Fox

This card combo reminds me that the idea of the perfect, happy family is deceptive like the trickster Fox.  There really is no such thing.  Happiness and love take a lot of hard work, and keeping a family balanced and well sometimes requires trusting your instincts (yes, you Foxy!), and working to survive (another Fox attribute).  How does that connect with all the other cards?  Well, a pointed message that I have to work for what I want, and that in real life things aren't all happy-clappy and easy.

This puts me in mind of the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh, the places you'll go!"  We can kid ourselves that everything will always work out for the best, but that is only true if we accept that "the best" includes a lot of tough life lessons.  Sometimes, things just fall in our laps.  Often times, though, even when it seems that way we have done a lot of work in the background for that to happen.

Happiness and fulfillment are possible, but getting to that place can take effort.  It takes seeking joy every day, as Arwen is fond of reminding us.  And it takes being willing to put in the work for what we want to achieve.  No quick fixes here, I'm afraid, but still a powerful reading.

Combining the tarot and Lenormand meanings added depth and nuance to this reading, as well as confirmation of a particular interpretation in some instances.  I hope some of you may give this technique a go, and I'd love to hear about it if you do!

Lennie Week 5 - Rainbow

Another colourful deck today, though photographic as opposed to the bright drawings of Saturday's Indian Lenormand.  This German-published deck is rather reminiscent of Titania's Fortune Cards, and is called the Rainbow Lenormand (Königsfurt-Urania, 2012).

©Susanne Schöfer & Katrin Rosali Giza
As for today's cards, we have Fish, Cross, and Storks:

Money worries cause migration.
Troublesome finances lead to changes.
Faith in the flow of life allows us to adapt.
The burdens of alcoholism cause changes in the family.

A real mixed bag with today's cards, then.  Some phrases are practical, others more spiritual, and some just plain painful.

At the moment, I don't have specific money troubles beside the usual recession-induced worries and stresses.   And though I have alcoholics in the family, I'm not expecting to deal with any of them today.  So, I'll go with the idea that today I need to trust to the flow of life and be willing to be adaptable.  A reminder, then, not to try to plan out every last thing, as plans rarely go to schedule. 

I am grateful for the reminder that I can't control everything.




Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Lennie Week 5 - Postmark

On this chilly Wednesday morning, at least the Sun is out in Lenormand land ;)  Today's deck is the wonderful Postmark Lenormand (self-published, 2011) by the Sassy Sibyl, Melissa Hill.  Combining photos and drawings, it is a playful deck with a vintage feel.


Here we have the Lady, the Sun, and the Tree.  What can we draw from this?

A woman finds enduring happiness.
Clear intuition brings ancestral connection.
An energetic female is healthy.
A woman needs some D3 to stay healthy.
Receptivity and dynamism together are the formula for wholeness. 

Well, I'm not sure there is such a thing as enduring happiness!  After all, change is a constant.  Still, I'm feeling a fair bit happier today as Big Boy is doing better and will be going to school.  Some of the other messages also seem relevant: given how little actual sun we've been having, I will be taking my regular winter dose of D3.  And it's also true that I will be exercising: it helps lift mood as well as having physical health benefits!  So, today is a day for good health and happiness - may it be so for one and all :)

I am grateful that my son is well enough to go to school again today.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lennie Week 5 - Dust Bunny

©Marcia McCord
For this Tuesday morning, we have another lovely Lenormand deck from Marcia McCord, who also created the Off-Center Lenormand.  This one is the Dust Bunny Lenormand, and there's a hilarious explanation of how it got its name, which I sadly couldn't find in the time available to me today.  So, if anyone has the link...

As for today's cards, we have Bear + Rider + Stars.  From that I get a very varied bag!

News from your boss provides a plan of action.
Message from your mother brings guidance.
Sports nutrition brings hope.

Looking at things in a little less structured way, I notice the Rider here is moving towards the Bear.  So, perhaps it's more that I should contact my mother - communicating with her can be a source of hope and guidance, whoever initiates the contact.  The question of nutrition also chimes with me.  Not really sports nutrition per se, though I do practice various sports daily, but just the nutrition side.  I need to get with the plan again, as I often eat badly when Big Boy is ill.  It's partly the stress, partly the tiredness.  Still, I know that eating healthily would support me better than reaching for the comfort of chocolate.

I am grateful for delicious fruit and vegetables to nourish and sustain me.


Monday, 25 March 2013

TLC Houses Reading

Kindergarten & mini RWS
Having spent last week trying out readings that combined tarot and Lenormand cards in different spread positions, this week I thought I'd do something a bit different.  It's still a Tarot and Lenormand Combined (TLC) exercise, part of the preparation for my workshop at the UK Tarot Conference in October :)

A while back, Tierney Sadler started using her Deck of Lenormand Houses and combining it both with her Deck of a 1000 Spreads and with other tarot and Lenormand decks.  Though I don't yet have the Deck of Lenormand Houses, I thought I could do something similar.  Two different combinations came to mind, and I thought I'd give them both a go.

The first combines my Kindergarten Lenormand, which has easily visible titles, with the mini-Rider Waite (U.S. Games, 1971), which fits on top beautifully!  The second melds the Tarot of the Absurd (Jessica Rose Shanahan, 2012) with the mini Under the Roses Lenormand (Hurteau & Hill, 2012).  I just overlapped these, so you can still see the beautiful imagery of both :)

Mini Under the Roses & Tarot of the Absurd
I decided to read these in an unstructured way, just pulling two sets of cards and seeing what they said to me.  I got the Fool in the House of the Bouquet/Flowers and the Tower in the House of the Lady.  At first glance, I read: the gift of spontaneity will shake me out of rigid ideas!  Excellent :D

Looking a little deeper, I think that the Kindergarten/mini RWS combination will be better for playful readings, and maybe where I want to dive into bigger spreads - as they are smaller cards.  The mini Under the Roses/Tarot of the Absurd combination may work better for more challenging readings and ones where I want a greater intuitive input, as I find the Tarot of the Absurd sparks a lot more in me.

Just look at that amazing Tower!  It's labyrinthine, yet with soft lines.  And it's just a tiny bit at the top of the tower that is being knocked off by lightning.  This shakes things up, but without destroying the foundations, because they are already not as rigid as we might have feared.  If we can accept a bit of absurdity, we're better equipped to deal with change...

Lennie Week 5 - Kargoscha

©Kargoscha & Bock
Today, we have an interesting Lenormand deck from Germany.  Authored by Ellaheh Kargoscha, and with artwork by Michael Bock, the Kargoscha Lenormand cards (self-published, 2009) have powerful, colourful images.

Here we have the Fox, the Moon and the Tree.  Riffing on these, I see:

Deceptive emotions affect health.
Instinctual emotions affect emotional health.
Ancestral lies affect reputation.
Emotional skills influence health.

I'm sure there's plenty more that could be seen in these cards, but today all I see is the interrelation between health, emotions and instincts.  As the stressed-out parent of a child whose health is compromised, and who is currently sick again for the third time in about five weeks, I guess that should come as no surprise. 

I am grateful for the reminder to find ways to keep my spirits up.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Lennie Week 5 - Day of the Dead

Child + Coffin + Paths
For this second day with lovely, self-published Lennie's, we have the Day of the Dead Lenormand by Edmund Zebrowski, who also authored Pixie's Astounding Mlle Lenormand Oracle.  Unfortunately, this colourful Lenormand deck themed around the Mexican Día de los Muertos is now out of print, though a few shops still have a copy or two...

Brainstorming from these cards gives me:

A new project ends before it has begun, bringing tough choices.
A sick child means decisions must be taken.
A drawn out ending leads to a turning point, will you dare the new?

It is often hard to let go of things, especially when we had high hopes for them.  However, sometimes we just have to face that the situation has changed, and accept that our lives will go in a different direction.  There's a bit of that for me today, related to the conversation my Dear One and I were having yesterday. 

More to the point, though, as ever: anything to do with a sick child chimes with me.  Last week school sent home a note about there being a child with chicken pox, and on Friday Big Boy got a temperature!  However, it seems this is just another of his regular infections, as opposed to chicken pox.  So, we don't have to worry about how to stop him scratching (a nightmare, given he already has eczema and molloscum penduculosa, both of which make him itch).  Instead, the decisions are more: should we give him antibiotics or not, or wait for what the nurses say after they test him tomorrow, and get results on Wednesday or Thursday.  Looks like another week off school, and just before Easter, too :(

I am grateful for modern medicine and excellent carers. 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

(Not So) Silent Saturday

Inspired by Arwen, I have decided to start doing some Zentangles.

I realised soon enough that I need to begin with a larger canvas.  Or else use a finer pen.  In fact, I think I'd use different paper, and a pencil instead of a Sharpie.  Still, they say part of the lesson is to learn from our mistakes.  And at least it was a beginning...

Can you guess my inspiration? :D

Alison's Snowdrop Spread TLC'd

Incidental Tarot & Kindergarten Lenormand
Alison, over at This Game of Thrones, came up with a lovely spread for this round of the Ostara Tarot Blog Hop.  As soon as I saw it, though, I thought: "That'd make a great tarot and Lenormand combined spread!"  So, with Alison's permission, here is my TLC'd version ;)

I tried to lay it out to look like flowers, but I couldn't do the whole inner and outer petals.  That would work really prettily with a regular and mini Lenormand, maybe...

Anyhow, on to the reading:

©Holly DeFount
Card 1 (tarot): the bulb - what nourishes me? - The Archer

Ha ha, Alison suggested we could draw from the Court cards for this position, and although I drew from the whole deck, I got a Court card anyway.  What nourishes me is the Archer, or Knight of Wands!

I am nourished by my passion and enthusiasm.  Sometimes, I may need a bit of a kick in the pants to keep me on track, but creativity and focus are definitely there once I'm going.

Card 2 (tarot): the shoot - what motivates me? - Eight of Roses (Cups)

This is a beautiful card (one among many) from Holly DeFount's Incidental Tarot.  I love the sense of growth and light, which fits wonderfully with the idea of the snowdrop's stalk.

I am motivated by a desire to move forward in a balanced way, seeking out my soul's higher purpose, always growing and stretching. 

Kindergarten Lenormand
Cards 3, 4, & 5 (Lenormand): what flowers within me? - Lily, Fish, Garden

In this line of three, I see that my passion is blossoming into a commercial venture, and opening the doors of community to me.  That is certainly true, in the sense that  I have been invited to speak on combining tarot and Lenormand cards at the UK Tarot Conference!  All this because, after years of blogging because I am passionately inspired by it, I am finally turning it to commercial use, too.  Running workshops (another good Fish + Garden pursuit), creating the Celtic Lenormand deck, all of this is blossoming right now.  That doesn't mean I can just stop worrying about it - flowers need to be fed and watered.  Still, it has a potential to be lovely and growthful.

Kindergarten Lenormand
Card 6, 7, & 8 (Lenormand): what hidden gifts do I have? - Moon, Ship, Heart

I have to admit, I often struggle with "what is hidden" positions.  Still, these final cards suggest that there may be more soul adventure's than I expect waiting for me in the months to come.  Two keywords for the Heart which I love are compassion and contentment.  My hidden gifts are an ability to travel into my own emotions, to find my heart's desire.

I also see here the ability to explore emotions in a way that is compassionate.  That would fit with psychotherapy, which, if not hidden, has been on the back burner for a while. 

Many thanks to Alison for such an interesting spread!

Lennie Week 5 - Indian Lenormand

Ring + Birds + Lily
Yay, it's time for another Lennie Week :)  Once again, there are lots of fabulous Indie decks to delight us!  We'll start off with the Indian Lenormand (2013), by Margaret Letzkus.  This is a traditional, 36 card Lenormand deck, but with images taken from Indian culture.  Aren't the colours amazing?

Brainstorming keywords gives me:

Committing to talking brings harmony.
A spoken commitment to passion.
An older man is bound by nervousness.
Nervousness about committing to passion.

Some interesting sentences there, partly because of the very different possible interpretations of the Lily card - passion or purity, peace and harmony or an older man. 

For me, two chime particularly - the first and last.  My Dear One and I started an important conversation on Thursday, which it might be good for us to continue today.  On the other hand, I feel quite nervous about it, even though we're talking about something which in theory I would passionately like. 

I am grateful for a partner I can talk to.

Friday, 22 March 2013

TLC Choices Spread

TLC Choices Spread
Can't believe I didn't see that acronym before: Tarot and Lenormand Combined = TLC :D

In my continuing preparation for speaking at the UK Tarot Conference on this subject, I designed another practical, everyday spread combining these two systems.  The bottom Lenormand row of five is the situation, then we draw as many tarot cards as we see choices in this situation, and finally a Lenormand row of three to show the deciding factor or advice from the cards.

Recently, my therapist gave me the name of a former colleague who has now moved to my University, and suggested I contact him to talk through my new dissertation proposal before handing it in.  For some reason, I have felt loathe to do so, I think mainly due to disappointment that the last time I approached my research methodology tutor he didn't even have the courtesy to acknowledge my email.  However, my therapist says this person is very approachable and open.

What do the cards think, then, of my current situation and choices? 

Kindergarten Lenormand
The situation is Moon, Paths, Mice, Flowers, Child.  Both my reputation and my emotional well being have been tainted by past choices (Moon + Paths + Mice), yet now there is a new opportunity with potential to be a real gift (Flowers + Child).  I've been feeling very undermined (Mice), so a new emotional start (Moon + Child) would bring the gift of new options (Paths + Flowers).  Overall, then, the cards encourage me to move away from past disappointments, and to forge forward with my new dissertation title.  So, what will the tarot say about specific choices?

Incidental Tarot ©Holly DeFount
Choice A is to carry on by myself, without asking for help.  The Eight of Quills (Swords) suggests this would leave me trapped in my own ideas, assumptions and prejudices.  I might even be sealing my own fate - eek!

Choice B is to contact this tutor.  The Arrow Key (Ace of Wands) is such a beautiful, warm card, and the sun in it also echoes the Sun in the Lenormand row above it.  It says to me that there is great potential for creativity and positive forward movement if I do take the plunge and approach this man.

Kindergarten Lenormand
What advice, then, can the Lenormand add to that?  Sun, Lilies, and Dog suggest that creative energy  comes from an older man who is an acquaintance (or in this case the friend of a friend).  They also say that this older man is dependable, and can bring some clarity to the situation.  That's a big thumbs-up, then ;)

Son of Wands

©Kim Krans
I'm glad that, to end this week with the Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans, 2012), we have one of this deck's Court cards. 

Each suit has a different bird or animal for its entire Court.  Snakes for Wands, Swans for Cups, Owls for Swords, and Deer for Pentacles.  They have also been renamed Daughter, Son, Mother and Father. 

The Son of Wands, then, is a snake curling up around a branch that seems to explode like a firework at its tip.  The black branch reaches straight up, and rays of white, gold and red light shine from its dark tip.  The snake, though, seems unfazed by this light display.  He curls up from the right back side of the branch, looping around to the left, and ending up looking right.  To me, he seems brave, forward-thinking and a little showy - a good representation of the Knight of Wands :)

Well, I didn't get anything done on my dissertation protocol yesterday - though you can see this afternoon and midday tomorrow what I was up to, instead ;)  So, today I could really do with a bit of this card's energy to light a fire under me.

I am grateful for energy to get working.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Competing Views

©Kim Krans
On this Thursday we meet a rather bleak-feeling card from the Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans, 2012).

In this version of the Five of Wands we see five black branches scattered about the card.  Shaded lines spread out from either side of the branches, making them seem like the tops or bottoms of ridges or troughs.  The card corners are also full black, the darkness encroaching. 

What I see here is a number of counterpoints.  Like people standing up for their opinion, and influencing the area around them until they bump up against the next project or opinion :) In that way, it seems possible to link this card to traditional interpretations of competition.

I am reminded today that coming up against other people's views can be a way for us to be challenged, to grow and learn.  It's not necessarily a comfortable experience.  Still, it may give us that push we need to get things done.  I hope that will be the case today as I try to finish rewriting my dissertation protocol.  Wish me luck!

I am grateful for people who challenge me to think and write.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Balanced Tarot Blog Hop

Balance Spread
Once again, it's Tarot Blog Hop time!  If you hopped in from the delights at Ania's, welcome.  And please consider following the links around, either backwards or forwards (for the next post, check out the link at the bottom of the page).  And if you get lost along the way, here's the master list.

For this Spring Equinox/Ostara round, our wrangler is Morgan Drake Eckstein.  He set the topic as one of balance and ambivalence, as this is the time when, if you don't live near the equator, hours of day and night are almost equal (if you live near the equator that's true all year round).

One of the things Morgan suggested we could look at is the way cards can be read both positively and negatively.  This made me think of a couple of cards that are generally seen as "negative" and how they could be positives.  For example, Death generally represents something that we mourn or grieve, an ending that isn't easy.  However, it's possible for it to show up for a marriage, as we bid our days of being young, free and single goodbye.  As some people point out, every time we say yes to one thing, we also say no to other options.  And even if we're happy with our choice, we may still mourn the doors that have closed to us.

DruidCraft Tarot
The Tower is another card which I can't help but see in a mainly negative light.  It has come up for me often when big changes were afoot, and I can't say I've ever enjoyed the experience!  Yet, it's probably true that if I could be unattached to the outcome, as yogic philosophy advocates, then I might more easily have accepted that these were simply changes, neither good nor bad.  And it's also true that change always brings potential for growth, for new ways of being...

To try to find a more balanced perspective, I decided to design a little spread, and draw cards from my ultra-trimmed DruidCraft Tarot (Connections, 2004).

1) Where in my life do I need balance?
2) What is the light side of this?
3) What is the dark side of this?
4) How can I balance these?

©P & S Carr-Gomm, & W. Worthington
1) Where in my life do I need balance? - Two of Pentacles

Ha, that one hits the spot!  I need to get more balance in trying to juggle so many projects.  Being a double Gemini, I'm a reasonably good multi-tasker.  Still, there are only so many hours in the day...

Thinking about it, I have four main areas that I juggle.  Two of those, though, are things which I can't put down: being a mother and my day job.  Which leaves two others which I've been trying to squeeze into the spare hours in between: divination and psychotherapy.  Of course, there are a number of sub-projects within those!  For example, in divination I include blogging, professional readings, workshops, and deck creation.  In psychotherapy, there are client work and study.  So, those two pentacles are a little more complex than they seem.

I notice the stormy sea behind her.  This juggling acts takes its toll, especially when there are emotional storms going on in the background.  Can I really keep all these things going, and will I be able to do them all justice if I do?

©P & S Carr-Gomm, & W. Worthington
2) What is the light side of this? - Ace of Swords

The positive in all of this is that I'm never short of an idea.  Like the sword rising from the lake, ideas spring forth from my subconscious.  Of course, they always need polishing, and if I do nothing with them then they simply sink below the waters again, but at least they are there.

It's not something I've always particularly noticed.  Recently, though, I was talking with a couple of friends and fellow bloggers, Alison Cross of This Game of Thrones, and Emma Sunerton-Burl of Intuitive Psychic.  They remarked on the fact that I blog daily, which I kind of take for granted.  I love blogging, and so I hadn't really thought about the fact that I always find something to write about.  Likewise, my problem in terms of deck creation is more about having too many ideas, rather than not being able to think of what to do (I have seven other ideas in various stages of preparation lined up behind the Celtic Lenormand).  Even with the psychotherapy side of things where I feel less inspired, after my first dissertation protocol was rejected I came up with another plan (though I haven't yet submitted it). 

Ideas, then, are the light side of all this juggling - it inspires me, and there are lots of plans I would like to bring out into the light of day. 

©P & S Carr-Gomm, & W. Worthington
3) What is the dark side of this? - XI - Justice

On the less happy side, this card tells me that I need to do some assessing now.  I realise more and more that I cannot do Justice to all these projects, much though I would love to.  Something has to give! 

Lady Justice (or Athena, in this case), suggests it's time to weigh up the pros and cons of these various pursuits, and decide what I most value.  She says to take a long hard look at all that has happened so far, and then turn my perspective to the future.  What will I carry forward?  What is in my best interests right now?  How can I best weather that storm in the background of the Two of Pentacles?

©P & S Carr-Gomm, & W. Worthington
4) How can I balance these? - XVI - The Tower

How ironic!  Having mentioned the ambivalence of the Tower and given my personal history with it (for example, see my Stalker Card Reading), here I am faced with it as a positive, balancing force.

What I first saw with this card is that I need to let go of my rigid ideas, all those "shoulds" and "musts".  I feel I "should finish what I've started", that I "must seek official recognition of what I do", that I "should be helping others through a respected profession".  At the moment, though, I definitely don't feel as inspired by writing a Masters dissertation as I do about any of my divination projects!  Perhaps this card implies that the time has come to knock down the ivory tower of academia, to say enough is enough and turn my focus elsewhere...

On the other hand, maybe this is about not getting stuck in rigid ideas of what I must do, in terms of how to do the dissertation (the reviewers who rejected my first draft were rather narrow-minded).  Talking it over with a friend, they suggested I should talk to a different tutor at my college, try to get some feedback and a fresh perspective on the question.  Things have been rather hard the last few months, and that has sapped my energy and enthusiasm.  Perhaps if I don't feel quite so hemmed in by what I "can't" do, I will refind some of my enthusiasm.  I know that when I feel inspired, I have a lot more energy, and that would certainly help with the balancing act!

I hope you've enjoyed this Balance Spread, and that you'll give it a go.  And I also invite you to carry on round the Blog Hop: next stop is with the ever joyful Arwen at Tarot By Arwen.

Protection

©Kim Krans
Today's card from the Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans, 2012) follows directly on from yesterday's Three of Pentacles.

In the Four of Pentacles, we once again have black-etched Pentacles ringed around with brighter colours.  This time, though, they are also hemmed in by lines that cross around them, keeping the shading around them at bay.  In the centre, a few thin lines with a bit of colour along them.

Are these Pentacles locking something in, or keeping something else out?  They don't share any of their colour with the shaded area outside their little patch, and yet there is an emptiness at their centre. Overall, then, perhaps a good description of miserliness or clinging to resources because we feel we don't have enough.

This card feels almost cutting today.  I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon and it's true I've felt the need to husband my depleted energy of late.  And yet also true that I've felt a bit empty at my heart.  Perhaps this appointment will help, drawing a line under the situation so I can move on...

I am grateful to a kind and skilled doctor.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Gismo

Last night, our cat died.  It was incredibly sudden and shocking: one minute he was sitting on my Dear One's lap on the sofa next to me being petted.  Then, he shot half way across the room, made a few choking noises, and was gone.  We each responded very differently to it (I'm an airy Gemini, he's a fiery Saggitarius).  I went into crazy overthinking (where's the closest vet, are they open at 10pm, is it worth going to the vet with him now, how could we check his heartbeat without a stethoscope, do we have a small mirror to place over his mouth, could he have something stuck in his throat, where should we store his body).  Meanwhile, my Dear One was much clearer (let's just get his cat box and store him somewhere cool and comfortable) yet also more emotional, crying and raging.  I don't think he could understand why I wasn't in tears, though I ended up crying in bed at 5 in the morning, unable to get back to sleep.  I was also the one to tell Big Boy, though I'm not sure how much he understands the concept of death.

One of the things that my mind went to was those big, philosophical, spiritual questions around death.  My Dear One said something about Gismo becoming a star (he was named by the American family he was first with, we gave him a new home when they moved back to the States and couldn't take him along).  My own ideas are somewhat different and sometimes as confused as my racing thoughts.  Although I am creating the Celtic Lenormand deck, I don't feel that we need any particular kind of deck to look at spiritual questions.  It's just that, with art by Will Worthington and an interesting theme, it's a deck I'd like to have :)  Anyhow, I had no compunction about using the childlike minimalism of my Kindergarten Lenormand to ask the question: what happens to souls after physical death?

Key, Cross, Lily, Woman, Stars
What this line says to me is that all religious and spiritual answers (Key + Cross) to this question can bring a form of peace (Lily) to the asker.  However, to find my own clarity (Woman + Stars), I also need to be guided to my own answer (Key + Stars), and honour my own spiritual beliefs (Cross + Lady).  That answer is that we find peace by returning to the Universal Spirit (Key + Lily + Stars).  What happens after we rejoin that Universal Spirit is perhaps best left for another day.

I take comfort in this, and wish Gismo peace.

Moving Mountains

©Kim Krans
Another interesting card from the Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans, 2012) greets us today.

This is the Three of Pentacles.  A huge mountain looms, dominating the card although in the background.  Meanwhile, in the foreground we see three colourful pentacles - etched in black but with red, blue and yellow painted around the main lines, and other colours being formed in the spaces between them.  The pentacles form a rather squat, downward pointing triangle.

I like the way the blue and yellow pentacles blend their colours on the line between them, forming green.  This speaks to me of combining forces, of melding the best that each of us can offer, hinting at the traditional "teamwork" interpretation of the card.  The mountain makes me think of the idea that together we can move mountains.  So, the ability to come together, to create something beautiful and powerful.

It's funny, although most of my work is solitary, I still recognise the number of people who help in one way or another.  Big Boy's carers, who give me some space for work and creative pursuits, my Dear One who is happy to listen and helpful in his suggestions, the same for my mother.  Even further afield, there are on-line friends who help out with recommendations and support, be it on social networking software or lovely new decks to check out, or inspiration from their wonderful ideas, or just a friendly comment to lift my spirits.

I am grateful to everyone who reads and comments on this blog!


Monday, 18 March 2013

Birmingham?

As part of my experimentation with combining tarot and Lenormand decks in a single reading in preparation for giving my talk at the UK Tarot Conference, I decided to adapt an idea from Lisa Frideborg Lloyd.  Last week, she created an interesting spread entitled "Who Am I?" using a Lenormand line of five and tarot cards.  I wanted something a little more everyday, so I took a basic tarot "Situation, Don't, Do" spread and made the first a Lenormand line of five, with the "Don't" and "Do" still covered by tarot cards.  Using my own Kindergarten Lenormand and the Incidental Tarot (Holly DeFount, 2012), this is what it looks like:

Incidental Tarot and Kindergarten Lenormand
My question was "What are the energies around my approaching an esoteric shop in Birmingham (Xen - couldn't find a weblink) about running Lenormand workshops there?"

The line of five is Fish, Clouds, House, Whips, Ship.  My sense from these cards is that it may not be the best time for me to try this.  Certainly, the financial outlook isn't great (Fish + Clouds), presumably because of the extra travel and hotel costs (Fish + House and Fish + Ship) I would incur.  There is also the possibility of negative emotions and arguments at home (Clouds + House and House + Whips) about me travelling and not being there for my family (House + Ship), and all for some commercial venture (though it's a lot more than that to me) (Fish + Ship).

The tarot cards seem to agree with that assessment.  In the Don't position we have the Four of Roses (Cups).  This suggests I shouldn't idealise something in the distance in favour of things I already have available to me (workshops in London).  And the Do card is the Empress, telling me to focus on my home and family, and on nurturing myself and my creativity.

Maybe at some later point in time this will change, but for the moment I think I'll stick to my home turf, and focus on my family, dissertation, and creative projects.  On the upside, this spread worked really nicely :)

Illuminating Hermit

©Kim Krans
Hmm, a somewhat unusual start to this Monday morning, when most people head back to work for another week.  Today's card from the Wild Unknown Tarot by (Kim Krans, 2012) is the Hermit.

A turtle sits, tucked up inside its shell decorated with squarish whorls.  On top of the domed shell sits a gas lantern.  There is a quite peaceful air to this Hermit.  Also a suggestion of sharing the illumination with others, given the lantern is held high rather than being simply sat next to the turtle.

What I see here is structure, retreat, and illumination.   Perhaps a sense that, in order to find that illumination, we need a quiet space to just be.  And that giving structure to our quiet time is also of benefit.  This makes me think of the recommendation to try to meditate at the same time each day, if possible - creating a structure for our mindfulness practice.  Not that I always manage that, but I try :)

For me today, this card feels like a reminder to find balance between quiet time and sharing with others.  After all, the turtle isn't just pulled into that shell, but also shines its light.  It can be easy, sometimes, to sink into myself, working mainly from home.  So, I shall be sure to also reach out to the world, even if it is just through my computer!  Today, I also have a visit from my mother, a wise woman who always sheds light on the world around her.  Definitely a good card for that, too :)

I am grateful for a balance of inward and outward focus.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sharing

©Kim Krans
Another charming card from the Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans, 2012) graces our screens today. 

The Three of Cups is a much-beloved card, and this version is a beautiful addition to the archetype.  Three birds sit silhouetted in the sunshine, at either dusk or dawn.  They are turned towards each other, and the sun, as though enjoying a pleasant conversation in wonderful surroundings.  Behind them, on the ground, are three cups to illustrate the archetype, upright and in a neat little group.

This really works for me as a card of socialising, celebration and a supportive group of friends :)

In this image I see both the support of friends (through the Internet rather than in person, at least today) and also pleasant family time with my Dear One and Big Boy.  Not that we have anything special planned, but at least today we're all healthy and together :)

I am grateful for good health and family.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Combining Forces

As I said last week, I'm very excited to have been asked to speak at the Tenth Anniversary of the UK Tarot Conference!  Having promised Kim Arnold that I would do a workshop on the Friday afternoon about combining tarot and Lenormand, I thought I'd better try some more options for myself.

In the past on this blog I've done a reading with the Lenormand using a tarot-type spread (Grandma's Favourite Spread).  Last month, I tried a mixed deck reading drawing cards from both a tarot and Lenormand deck at the same time.  And earlier this week, I tried using tarot to clarify a Lenormand reading after the fact.  Today, what I thought I'd give a go is something which Caitlín Matthews demonstrated on her blog - using a Lenormand spread (in this case the square of nine) with tarot cards :)  I asked my ultra-trimmed DruidCraft Tarot (Connections, 2004) what I could learn by doing this:

©Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm and Will Worthington

At the heart of this reading is the Rebirth card (XX - Judgement in traditional terms).  This suggests that combining tarot and lenormand ideas in this way can take readings to a new level, opening up productive new paths and ways of seeing.  Reading the corners says that it may take time (7 of Pents) to fully connect with the inheritance from past generations of cartomancers (10 of Pents), yet doing so allows both a healthy emotional distance from the reading (King of Cups) and a deep sense of intuition (Queen of Cups).

Turning to the central cross, the 10 of Swords says that letting go of old, limiting ideas will allow new learning (Princess of Pentacles) that will open up this potential for new understandings and practices (Rebirth).  It can also put us in touch with our soul (Princess of Cups) and bring a new sense of focus and purpose (8 of Wands).

Using knighting further suggests that new learning (Princess of Pents) will come from taking time to process (7 of Pents) this new way of accessing intuition (Queen of Cups).  That soul connection offered by the cards (Princess of Cups) requires both a connection with the past, our cartomantic inheritance (10 of Pents) and yet also not letting the emotions in the cards and our readings overwhelm us (King of Cups).  To achieve this, we need a directed focus (8 of Wands) that takes everything gained so far (10 of Pents) and allows us to harvest its wisdom (7 of Pents).  Letting go of fixed ideas (10 of Swords), of a purely mental focus, will bring to the fore emotional clarity (King of Cups) and intuition (Queen of Cups). 

I think this reading worked beautifully, and it certainly suggests there is a lot to be gained from combining the forces of tarot and Lenormand: how exciting!

Infinite Strength

©Kim Krans
This week's deck is the Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans (self-published, 2012).  The deck is nature-based, with no people on the cards.

And what a beautiful card to start the week!  A lion stands under the golden rays of the sun, appearing to peer through dark undergrowth.  An infinity symbol graces his forehead, and he holds a white rose gently in his mouth.  That rose replaces the innocent maid calming a savage beast.  Instead, we have a noble creature, strong and proud, yet also with the tender softness to appreciate a rose and carry it without crushing it. 

This card depicts beautifully that sense of balancing fierce and gentle aspects within ourselves, or the need for a subtle use of the strength and power at our disposal.  We could also see it that the lion himself has chosen to tame his more brutal side, for a cause.

Today, this card reminds me to temper my responses to things that might annoy or anger me.  It reminds me that the better part of valour is sometimes patience and a gentle, compassionate response to a situation.

I am grateful for the reminder to be kind today.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Tug of War

©Roveda & Gabriella
For our last day with the Law of Attraction Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2011), we have a card of which woley wrote a few years back in her review of this deck: "someone had too much sun before doing this one" ;D

I have to agree that, at first glance, this looks more like a scene from Spring Breakers or Baywatch (depending on your frame of reference) than like the Queen of Swords.  Two scantily-clad young women on a beach play tug-of-war with a short rope.  It's a beautiful day, with the sun shining through light clouds.  The redhead, whose expression we can see, looks very intent. 

Trying to dig a little deeper, we could see both figures as aspects of the Queen.  That would suggest she wrestles with ideas and tries to look at both sides of any question :)  Still, this doesn't really give a sense of the sharpness of wit or the deep empathy that I normally associate with this archetype. 

I guess another thing that the two figures might suggest is the more socially oriented side of the Queen of Swords.  She is not as isolated and as determined to be in the right as the King, making her more open to an exchange of ideas.  Altogether, not my favourite card in the deck, but I can work with it ;)

I finally contacted my college last night about getting an extension on my dissertation.  Maybe I need to get on with some reading, finish the protocol, and calculate some kind of timeline and strategy for getting it done if they give me the extension - good swords-y pursuits :D

I am grateful for a logical mind.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

2nd Lenormand Workshop

©C. McCracken
After the excitement of yesterday's announcement that I'll be speaking at this year's 10th Anniversary of the UK Tarot Conference in October, I got fired up and finally organised another Introduction to the Lenormand Workshop :)

This one will be held at Treadwell's in London: another nice, central location, and a lovely store with a larger, more comfortable room, excellent events, and wonderful stock.  The workshop is taking place on Saturday 11th May, from 10.30am to 5.30pm, and once again the cost is just £30.  You can reserve a place on my Inner Whispers website.

Godfather

©Roveda & Gabriella
For some reason, today's card from the Law of Attraction Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2011) makes me think of Marlon Brando in the Godfather!

This King of Wands is an older man, sitting back in an armchair, only partially lit by a standing lamp at his side.  Smoke rises in front of him, and he looks relaxed and yet very aware.  Behind him, large windows give onto a woodland scene, and there are bookcases filled with leather-bound tomes off to one side.

I normally think of the King of Wands as rather more dynamic than this.  And yet, in our modern world, you don't need to be racing around to be active and get lots done.  Perhaps, Godfather-like, he is pulling strings both on stage and behind the scenes.  Or maybe there is a computer on a desk on the other side of the room, from which he manages a business empire :)

Enchantment and empowerment, myth and modernity, whimsy and wisdom, all can mingle creatively and dynamically.  One good example I saw recently is Arwen's new Fairytale Spreads ebook, with illustrations by Lisa Hunt.  While I'm not sure I see Arwen as a King of Wands, certainly she has the passion and drive he shows, as well as the creativity.  Perhaps it's my gender biases that lead me to see her as a Queen of Wands, though I think it's more the fact that she has so much empathy and focus on others thrown into all that energy and drive :)

What, then, does the King of Wands suggest today?  That we set a goal and go for it, perhaps.  That we be willing to take the lead on a project that inspires us.  That we make tough calls for the good of what we value.

I'm not sure I feel the kind of leadership I see in the King of Wands.  Still, I've been getting going on a few things that I really believe in recently, gearing up for speaking at the UK Tarot Conference, working on the Celtic Lenormand.  Perhaps what I need to focus on today is getting myself out there a bit more, charismatic King of Wands-style.  Several of us on Facebook have been talking about social networking: I think it's time I signed up to Hootsuite and got a move on!

I am grateful for the passion I feel for many of the projects in my life, and the drive to share that with others.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Clarification

I'm very excited to have been asked to speak at the Tenth Anniversary of the UK Tarot Conference!  I'm to be the new up-and-coming unknown person that Kim Arnold likes to find every year :)  There will be some wonderful Lenormand offerings over the course of the weekend, including the eminent and eloquent Caitlín Matthews (she of hundreds of decks and books)!  So, when Kim asked me what I could talk about, after panicking a bit I thought I should do something a little non-traditional.  "How about combining tarot and Lenormand?" I asked, and she agreed.

A while back, I did a reading with the Lenormand using a tarot-type spread (something which many German authors do).  More recently, I did a mixed deck reading combining tarot and Lenormand in a single spread.  Still, I feel the need to explore different ways of using these two systems together.  What do I need to know about doing so?  Well, I decided to ask the Lenormand, and then clarify that answer by drawing on the tarot afterwards.

I drew three cards from the White Owl Lenormand (AGM-Urania, 2008) asking what I need to know about combining Lenormand and tarot, and then brain-stormed a couple of interpretations:

©Fiechter

a) Cutting ties leads to a sense of homecoming - breaking with the traditional rules of each individual system will feel natural.

b) Promised harvest comes with stability - sticking to the old separation will be more beneficial.

©Bayliss & Battersby
So, two quite different interpretations based on the card's keywords.  Could the tarot clarify?  I pulled a card for each interpretation from the Simply Deep Tarot (Schiffer, 2012).

For the first, I drew the Four of Cups, which suggests that breaking with the established rules, with old ways of seeing, will help open my eyes to new possibilities, and a potential for wonderful discoveries :)

©Bayliss & Battersby
What of the second interpretation?  There, the card I pulled was the Eight of Swords.  This echoes the idea that staying within old, limiting ways of thinking is a trap.  It might feel safe, but it is restricting and not really in my best interests.

I think this experiment worked quite nicely.  My intuition told me that the first interpretation of the Lenormand reading was the one that chimed with me.  The tarot cards simply confirmed that, and were quite unified in their message - both cards are about not seeing things unless we are willing to look in new places, or remove the restrictions our own preconceptions place on us.

Guess I'll be playing around with combining the tarot and Lenormand a fair bit over the coming months ;)