Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Holding To The Truth

Another Queen comes to meet us today from the Anna K Tarot (Llewellyn, 2013).

This time, we have the Queen of Swords, in a cold and icy landscape.  She wears a dress of grey (it looks less blue in the actual card), with a coat that is blood red and trimmed in white ermine.  The Queen's jewellry is steel grey with white highlights, other than the crown, which has a red cap.  She clasps a sword's hilt in her right hand, with her left gripping the blade in a fashion that suggests she might slice the palm of her own hand.  The hill behind her is covered in snow, as are the trees in the background, and the sky is slate grey.  At a more personal level, the Queen gazes out at us in a direct and yet somehow compassionate manner.

Though some people don't seem to like the Sword's Courts, I generally do, and this Queen of Swords is no exception.  The way she holds her sword suggests to me that she is willing to face the pain of the truth, even if it cuts her.  She has been hurt before, and understands it, even accepts it.  She'd rather take the pain herself than see it visited on others.  And if they should happen to suffer, she will listen with kindness.  She won't let herself take on all of the other person's pain, but she will help in as much as a listening ear and an honest forthrightness can.

In this card, I see the recommendation to hold fast to what I know to be true today. 

I am grateful for a little objectivity.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Dipping Into The Ocean

I love the feel of this card from the Anna K Tarot (Llewellyn, 2013).

In this Queen of Cups, we have a blonde woman sat on a rock by the sea, her bare feet in the water and one hand trailing in, too.  She wears a dress of deep blue, and holds a golden cup that is full of clear water.  Around her, the night sky twinkles gently, and a waning moon glows above.  In the distance, some trees on a promontory are silhouetted by the light of the moon.

There is such a feeling of tranquility here, of being at one with your emotions and the beauty of the world around you.  I imagine her enjoying the warmth of the water lapping at her skin, and meditating on the play of light on even the tiniest of ripples, sinking into the waters of her own soul.

I'm not sure I'll have much time for emotional introspection, but that's definitely the advice I see in this card - to take some time to look inward and commune with myself.  Perhaps I need to remember that it doesn't have to be sat somewhere special, but can just be taking a few moments of quiet to pause, breathe, and connect with my emotions...

I am grateful for the possibility for inner serenity.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Lamentation

Yikes, this is a rather harsh version of the Five of Swords from the Anna K Tarot (Llewellyn, 2013)!

Richly-robed and armed men tower over cowering women, children, and corpses, bloody swords raised high.  Flames lap at the ground and buildings in the background, and the sky is dark and overcast.  You can almost smell the smoke and hear the cries and whimpers of the vanquished.  It reminds me of Conan the Barbarian (1982), and Conan being asked what is best in life.  His response: "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

Certainly, humiliation and defeat are often seen in this card, as is an attitude of willingness to win at any price.

Looking at this card today, I am reminded that there are always at least two perspectives in any situation, even if they are not always as contradictory as shown here.  Certainly, I've been experiencing a situation that is rather like that.  I think there are at least two people who see themselves as the victim.  And I can see both their perspectives, will try to support both in some way, while also having to weigh the broader situation. 

I am grateful for some respite from the stresses around me.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Surrounded By Love

Isn't this a beautiful card from the mass market version of the Anna K Tarot (Llewellyn, 2013)?

A woman stands with eyes closed in a green meadow, leading off to distant hills.  She wears a pale blue hat and dress and is framed by the sun, which is centred right behind her trunk and the bottom of her head.  Arrayed around her are ten cups, full of clear water.  The sky is a paler yellow than the sun, with a white halo almost like a rainbow above the woman's head.

While there is no intimation of an ideal family here, there is definitely a sense of contentment and emotional plenitude.  That this comes through clarity and speaking your emotions is suggested by the colour of her dress and the cups around her.

I sure wasn't feeling that way this morning.  Something happened yesterday, and emotions were extremely fraught.  However, after meditating twice, a nice walk on the Heath, and being able to talk it through with my Dear One, I'm feeling a lot better now :)

I am grateful for the coping mechanisms I have in place to deal with difficult emotional situations.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Where There's A Will?

For this last day with Corrine Kenner's Christmas Tarot (2010), we have another version of Saint Nick, this time as the Magician.

Wearing an earthy green this time, more traditional than that Coca-Cola-red, I like that he carries in his belt and hands some broom twigs, a drum, a wand, a branch lit with three candles, and a little blue doll.  Over his back is a sack of presents, yet the items in his belt and hands seem more like his tools, like the Magician's implements, while the sack is what he is carrying for others.  What then are his tools?  Light to guide his way, a broom to clear his path, a drum to announce his presence, and walking stick to help him along rough patches, and a doll, perhaps as a reminder of why he does what he does...

It's curious, having really struggled to post daily this week has made me think about what this blog means to me, and what I'm going to do when the new baby arrives.  Although the issue this week has been a lack of time as our childcare for Big Boy fell through, having a new baby will probably have a similar effect, if not worse. 

I've been blogging daily since the 19th of January 2011, nearly three years without missing a day!  There's one bit of me that feels where there's a will, there's a way, a very Magician-like attitude.  There's another bit which acknowledges that pushing myself that way may not be the best thing for either me or the baby.  However, I'm also conscious that without a structure, I could feel quite chaotic. 

I enjoy the chance this daily blog gives me to take a little time to reflect on my day, what I hope from it, what I might do.  It's also a way to connect with other bloggers, a bit of on-line socialising that I really value.  Of course, that socialising would continue even if I did drop my posts to once or twice a week...  Well, I have some time still to think about it, and would be glad of suggestions from others - what works for you and why?

I am grateful for the blogging community.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Ring-A-Ding!

On this Boxing Day morning, the Christmas Tarot (Corinne Kenner, 2010) shows us yet another very benevolent card: the Star.

Certainly, if you aren't a fan of sweet children in old-fashioned costumes, this deck won't be your cup of tea.  Our star here is a little blonde angel ringing a bell as she comes out from behind dark green, velvet curtains.  She wears a tiara with a star on it, and behind her we can see a small Christmas tree, decorated with actual candles and red baubles.

I like the idea of the bell in her hand, ringing to call our attention to the guidance at hand.  In some ways, I guess it could be likened to the trumpet on the traditional justice card.  Yet, the idea of purity and vulnerability can also be seen here - ringing a bell is something done to chase away evil spirits, and the little girl's white dress and angel wings also reinforce these ideas.

I have to admit, the temptation of Christmas treats has had its way with me the last few days.  So, hopefully I can bring a bit of that starlight purification into my diet today...

I am grateful for mini portions.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Skating or Flowing

It's Christmas Day, and the Christmas Tarot (Corinne Kenner, 2010) thinks it's time to snuggle in with your honey, or maybe make some choices...

This image reminds me of an old Doris Day movie: By The Light of the Silvery Moon.  I'm pretty sure it was in that one that Doris and her beau went ice skating in a romantic scene similar to that shown here.  It's interesting to think about skating in tandem.  You each have to pay attention to the moves of the other, to flow together, and pick up on not only the other person's body language, but also notice what is happening with the ice and the other people on the rink.  A lot of little things to notice and correct for, the kinds of choices that aren't necessarily even conscious, and yet are vital for the smooth flow of skating together.

It's a rather nice depiction of the Lovers.  At a more obvious level, it's about choosing your partner for life, or at least for this turn around the rink.  At a more subtle level, it reminds us that these choices aren't just single moments, but repeated and subtle decisions and actions, all interlinked.

I think my Dear One and I are sometimes better at flowing around one another than necessarily in tandem.  And yet, that is also about staying together.  We each have interests the other doesn't share, but we respect the other's choices.  And I think that's also a way to move together, flowing around each other's steps, rather than bumping and jostling.  After the hecticness of yesterday, we're both hoping to have a little quiet, family time today.  That may mean taking turns playing with Big Boy, so the other can have a few moments to do something else, like exercise or shower.  Yet, there will also be times when all three of us move together, though it certainly won't be on an ice rink!  More likely, going for a walk...

I am grateful for a partner to move through life with, through all the craziness it throws our way.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Here Comes The Sun

It's Christmas Eve, and a very clear Father Christmas comes a-calling from the Christmas Tarot (Corinne Kenner, 2010).

A jolly, white-bearded, old guy in a red robe and red hat holds toys piled in his arms.  A sleigh rests behind him with more presents peeking out from sacks, and a fully-decorated Christmas tree glitters at the back.  Both Santa and the tall, snowy mountains behind him are illuminated by the sun which is just rising in a rainbow of light reflected from icicles above his head.

While I'm not sure I would have chosen this image for the Sun, as I imagine there must have been some old pictures of blond boys on rocking horses enjoying Christmas morning, it is still a very happy feeling card.  The sun rising in the background works well to suggest the dawn of a new day, and a new beginning filled with promise.

Today is when my family and I celebrate Christmas.  I'm a bit late posting because some of our Christmas childcare fell through, so I've not got much time.  Still, I'm looking forward to my parents coming over.  And already the house smells like cooking, as the goose has been in the over since 9.15am.  We'll also have roasties and red cabbage, and a few green veg, as well as stuffing and gravy.  After lunch, we listen to Christmas music and open presents, chat and laugh.  It's not exactly a new dawn, but it is a reminder of the warm feelings and love we share, good, sunny emotions :)

I am grateful for a loving family.

Monday, 23 December 2013

He's Making A List...

On this Monday morning, the Christmas Tarot (Corinne Kenner, 2010) offers us a cross between Father Christmas and a priest - the Hierophant.

He wears a red cloak, has a long, white beard, and carries a sack of toys that he offers to the children before him.  Yet, he also wears a priest's mitre, a cassock, and carries a shepherd's-style staff, with a golden crook.  So, a more generous image of the Hierophant than is often seen, yet it makes me wonder what the children had to do, or were told, about receiving presents from him.  Did they have to go to bible class, or recite a psalm, or attend church every week?  And how different is that from the whole "Santa's making a list" business?  Coercion may take many forms, but when there is a desire for conformity, it often rears its head.

It's strange, I never believed in Santa Claus as a child, due to the vagaries of having a German mother and living in England.  In Germany, Saint Nicholas comes on the 6th of December with presents and sweets for the children, at which time I was at school in England.  Then, on the 24th of December, Germans celebrate Christmas, but with open gift-giving where you know who is giving you the present, at which time I was normally with German family.  It makes me somehow suspicious of the whole idea of Santa Claus, and how adults use him to coerce children into better behaviour.  Gifts are given for being good, rather than because you are loved by your friends and family, or because exchanging gifts is a social bond: can you tell I studied Anthropology? :D  So, we haven't tried to teach Big Boy about Santa Claus, nor do I plan to start when our next child is born, either.  I still enjoy a lot of Christmas traditions, but they are to do with encouraging everyone to enjoy some family time together.

I am grateful for the reminder of what Christmas means to me.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Yes, Dad!

For our second day with the Christmas Tarot (Corinne Kenner, 2010), we have a very Victorian Emperor.

This man is clearly the King of his own castle, with three adoring children ranged before him.  He seems to be doling out toys, or perhaps just reviewing them before the children go off and play.  Dressed very formally, he looks ready to take charge of whatever comes his way, so long as it doesn't involve getting his own hands dirty. 

Today is the time for any last minute changes to our Christmas grocery order, so I think I'll take this as advice to check it over one last time.  Better that than scrambling for ingredients on the empty Christmas shelves next week!

I am grateful for delivery services.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Yule Blog Hop - Illumination

Previous/Master/Next

I love Joanne's topic for this tarot blog hop: turning darkness into light.  Although I personally celebrate Yule as the longest night, I can get behind the idea that we can use this dark time to illuminate our soul, and to look towards the future.  To that end, I decided to create a spread based on light sources:

1) Candle - what spark does my soul hold at this time?

2) Lightbulb - what human agency or process will help me bring light to this area?


3) Stars - what source of guidance is available to me?


4) Moon - what reflection of the future  light can I perceive right now?


As I have for the other blog hops this year, I gave this spread a whirl with my ultra-trimmed DruidCraft Tarot (Connections, 2009).

1) Candle - The spark my soul holds at this time is the Five of Swords.  This makes me think of drawing victory from the jaws of defeat, or suceeding in something where I have failed before.   And that definitely chimes with me at the moment.  For one thing, I'm now 6 months pregnant, having lost two babies in the 8 months prior to this pregnancy.  For another, I'm just finishing up re-working a project I started over a year ago, but never did anything much with.  And finally, in the last fortnight I finally figured out what I hope is a viable plan for a goal I set myself over a year ago but had no idea how to accomplish.

2) Lightbulb -  The Princess of Swords suggests that what I need to do in all of these situations is put a bit of beginner's mind into them.  Rather than dwelling on what I did or didn't do, or what did or didn't happen, I need to approach each with openness and curiosity.  Clear communication would also be no bad idea, perhaps asking for help when needed.

3) Star - As spiritual guidance, the star to light my way, I have the beautiful Lady/Empress.  She reminds me that the world is a wonderful, abundant place, and that I am creative and nurturing.  Though I may have had setbacks in the past, I can be guided by the example of other mothers and creatrices, and have a little faith in my own ability to birth a child and a project or two.

4) Moon - In terms of the reflection of the future, the Eight of Swords is again a reminder not to let my own assumptions, prejudices and past experiences tie me up in knots and stop me from being my creative best.  I'll need to keep an eye out for this tendency in myself, remember the suggestion to seek beginners mind, and trust in the guidance of the Lady.

I hope you'll try out this illuminating spread, and let me know if you do.  In the meantime, there's plenty more blog hopping to do...

Previous/Master/Next

Christmas Post

Today is Yule, the Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year: the pagan version of Christmas.  And later today (at 2pm GMT), there'll be an extra post up as part of the Yule Tarot Blog Hop.  With all of this festive feeling, I decided to dig out a Christmas-themed, Majors-only deck created by Corinne Kenner back in 2010, I believe.  It appears to no-longer be available, even though at one time there was talk of a full, 78-card deck being published by US Games...

Even though I downloaded it at the time, it was only earlier this year that I finally got it printed up using printerstudio.com.  So, this is the first time I've actually had the Christmas Tarot as proper cards to play with over the festive season.  And the first card to pop out is the extremely sweet Justice. 

No stern woman with a sword between two pillars here, yet the image feels well-chosen.  A young girl in a simple, white smock bears two burning candles, and stands between two small-but-perfectly-decorated Christmas trees.  She suggests shedding light on both sides of any question, from a place of pure intent.

Today, most of my plans are Christmas-related.  Plenty of present wrapping to do, and I also need to write a bunch of cards.  Yes, I know I've left it rather late, and they may not get there in time, but these are photoshopped images of Big Boy in an elf costume, destined for rellies abroad, so I'm hoping they won't mind.  And I can just blame the much-maligned international postal service ;)

I am grateful for the ability to focus on Christmas after all the hospital focus of this last week.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Looking To The Future

For this final day with the Efflorescent Tarot (Katie Rose Pipkin, 2011), finally another non-Major - we haven't seen many of these!

Here is the Three of Wands, with a male figure in a dark blue, velvet jacket looking out at a craggy, mountainous landscape.  He leans against one tree/wand, with another by his side, and a thick branch in his right hand.  There are green hills just in front of him, disappearing off into sharp, brown mountains in the distance, framed by an almost scarlet sky. 

To me, this feels like someone in a comfortable place looking towards the future with a bit of trepidation.  Still, it seems like there is also growth potential and passion, even if there may be some uncertainty and difficulties ahead.

The trepidation part may be just be because school called not five minutes ago to say Big Boy seems sleepy and wobbly, and might need to come home.  He was so insistent he wanted to go, and seemed okay.  Fingers crossed...  Other than that, I see today as time to start looking to the future.  Christmas shopping is about out of the way, so I can start thinking about what next year might hold.

I am grateful for a few minutes of quiet time.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Forging Ahead

Well, we're certainly getting our fill of Majors this week from the Efflorescent Tarot (Katie Rose Pipkin, 2011).

In this version of the Chariot, the first things to jump out at me are the fact the charioteer is female, and the unusual steeds.  While there are decks which show dark and light sphinxes pulling the Chariot, here we seem to have a sphinx and a gryphon.  Visually, the sphinx embodies perspective and wisdom, connecting to Ancient Egypt and an eagle.  Meanwhile, the gryphon suggests links to the lion in the Strength card, and traditional Devil depictions.  So, a more animalistic, physical presence.  In that way, I suppose they do match more traditional dark and light juxtapositions.  Interestingly, too, instead of seeming to pull in different directions, they appear to turn as though to talk with one another.

The charioteer, too, seems to echo the Strength card in her femininity.  Her dress is blue, colour of communication, which suggests that in order to move forward, we harness the different energies in our life with gentleness and by communicating clearly, even if that dialogue is with ourselves.
Today, I needed to harness the disparate parts of work and play and mothering.  Spent the morning in the hospital with Big Boy again.  Then got home to lots of work that had built up since Tuesday - didn't have any time at all for it yesterday.  And I also want to do some exercise today, as I didn't have time yesterday, either.  Still, I can see where the gentleness bit comes in, as I don't want to push myself too much with any of these things.  Instead, listening to what I really need, rather than what I think I ought to do :)

I am grateful to be out of the hospital, and with Big Boy well.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Uncertainty

I rather like the starkness and yet colour of today's offering from the Efflorescent Tarot (Katie Rose Pipkin, 2011).

A large crescent moon hangs in a star-spangled sky, with two canines howling up at it from next to a pool.  A crayfish moves towards the surface of the pool, looking almost like it is going to snap at the tails of the dog closest to it.  Further off, two towers stand across from one another, and the sky glows blue between them.  I especially like the multi-coloured hues into which the moonlit disperses.  A reminder of the strangeness of that light, but also that it can illuminate things in a wonderful and varied way.

Today, we go into hospital with Big Boy for routine surgery (if that isn't a total oxymoron).  Being in hospital can be rather like the Moon's energy: a strange twilight, dream-like time-out.  Nothing is quite like normal, though we try to stick to his routines as much as possible.   Hopefully, nothing will sneak up and bite us in the a**e this visit...

I am grateful for a loving partner to share hospital time with.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Duality

I have a friend who, when possible, always checks the Star card before buying a deck.  It's not something I generally think to do, but I have to admit that this version from the Efflorescent Tarot (Katie Rose Pipkin, 2011) certainly gives me pause!

Although we have the eponymous star shining brightly in the night sky, as well as a pool and a person pouring water from two jugs, there are other aspects of this card that defy tradition.  For one thing, green, twisty shapes loom over the figure, framing the star.  They are probably barren trees, but could be rocky outcroppings.  More strikingly, the figure in the foreground seems strangely formed.  The face is rather androgynous, the haircut is short on one side and longer on the other, and the body, too, seems to suggest a small breast on one side, a flat chest on the other.  The legs also connect to the body at rather unusual angles.  I'm not sure if this is intentional, but it certainly adds a very different dimension to this card.

Traditionally, the figure on the star pours water both into a pool and onto the earth, symbolic of nourishing physicality and emotionality, or of generosity across the board.  Yet, the androgynous-ness of the figure adds another perspective.  It seems to point to the duality found within each of us, which Jung talked about in terms of personality and anima or animus, while the Chinese talk about yin-yang energies.  Perhaps it suggests that, to be truly guided by spirit is a state which isn't about gender, but about uniting the different aspects of self.  Or maybe it's that we cannot be truly open and vulnerable unless we acknowledge these different sides of ourselves...

Well, I need to combine an Empress-like nurturing with an Emperor-esque organising ability today, as I pack for Big Boy to go into hospital tomorrow :D  And I guess I could also do with keeping clear our purpose and hope in going into this surgery - improved quality of life for him, and additional information to help us make some informed choices about the future.

I am grateful for the guiding light of spirit.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Rosy Queen

On this Monday morning, we meet one of the Courts of the Efflorescent Tarot (Katie Rose Pipkin, 2011).

Very different to her RWS-counterpart, this queen looks quite young and rosy-cheeked.  Equally red roses bloom on a verdant bush behind her, and she holds her sword rather nonchalantly in her left hand and over her shoulder.  Her eyes appear to be closed, and clouds send out tendrils to the left, the same way as the young queen faces. 

To me, this card speaks of passions (the red roses) from the past (facing left) which we try to understand at a mental level (the sword), not always with absolute success (the clouds).  In that way, despite the rather different symbolism, we have some similar interpretations to the traditional RWS queen. 

I can certainly see where I need to make a cut from the past today.  I've been worrying about something I wrote to someone on Friday, but fundamentally, it wasn't designed to hurt them, just to be clear, boundaried and realistic.  Still, I'll have to face them in person, so I need to keep that clear focus in mind.

I am grateful for an understanding of my motives, and clarity of intent.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fragmented

For our second day with the Efflorescent Tarot (Katie Rose Pipkin, 2011), we have a rather dark Devil card.

A tusked, horned, goat-headed creature wears a dark cloak of leaves and twigs.  This cloak seems to have caught up and dragged along any number of things: keys, hearts, daggers, rings, hands, faces, playing cards, bits of bone, a clock, fruit, claws, bat wings, pieces of harlequin cloth.  Six large, red candles stick out of the back of the cloak, following the creature around, lighting his horrible collection, around which flies buzz as though it were a rubbish pile.  Above all of this, a golden pentacle gleams like the moon, partially obscured by the Devil's head.

The feeling this card gives me is that of good things having been sucked into the Devil's sway, and then been turned to garbage, polluted and fragmented, til only putrid pieces remain.  It's a strong card!

Strangely enough, it makes me think of a conversation I had last week with my therapist, where he said I sounded a lot more whole than I have in the past.  This, I think, is part of the solution to the Devil card: when we can stay true to our selves, we are less likely to give into temptations and the promise of things that seem good or exciting, but leave us feeling drained or broken.  We find joy in wholesome things, or accept those shadow parts of ourselves so that we don't feel fragmented by them.

I am grateful for the reminder to stay true to myself.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Diplomacy

Back to tarot again this week, with an interesting, self-published deck.  Here we have the Efflorescent Tarot (Katie Rose Pipkin, 2011).  This is the colour version (it's also available in black-and-white), with the corners cut.  I hate pointy corners, and cutting them is quite time consuming, so the extra £2.50 (less for the black-and-white) was definitely worth it in my eyes!

The deck is very much a RWS-clone, but with interesting pencil drawings and colour choices.  The author also gives a lovely definition for her choice of name: efflorescent - bursting into flower.

Our first card is the Seven of Swords.  The character here looks more sad than smug.  Almost as though the ideas he has gathered do not cheer him, and he wishes he could just go back and re-join the group in the tents that he is leaving behind.  The colouring of his robe is interesting, blue for communication, but focused around his throat and his arms.  His actions also speak volumes...  We could see him moving away with those swords as someone who withholds communication, taking his ideas with him rather than sharing them, keeping his thoughts to himself.

This card chimes with me this morning, in that I've just spent over an hour trying to communicate very carefully, without really giving away my true thoughts.  And this in two different contexts!  Yet, I notice again how sad he looks: this kind of diplomacy can take its toll, and I wonder if I should be a bit more upfront.  It's hard, though, when you don't want to hurt someone's feelings...

I am grateful for friends and loved ones to vent to.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Whatever Tickles Your Fancy

What a gorgeous card for a Friday, and for our last draw with the Oracle of Proverbs (Delphi Sutherland, 2013)!

Titled "Whatever Tickles Your Fancy", it shows and old-fashioned maid with a frilly apron, long white gloves, a mop cap and a feather duster.  She stands in an elegantly decorated parlour, with tea and a slice of cake sitting on the table before her.

Other than the suggestion of luxury and decadence, there is also a wink to saucy role play.  Either way, the suggestion seems to be to let your imagination roam free, seeking playfulness and sensual delights.  Allow yourself some pleasures today, whatever you come across that brings you joy!

Well, my Dear One has suggested a walk on the Heath after lunch, which sounds quite delightful.  And I shall take this card as a recommendation to follow my bliss today.  If that means going back to bed for a nap, so be it.  If it's doing a dancy, playful workout, I can live with that, too.  I shall just wait and see what tickles me :D

I am grateful for the encouragement to seek joy.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Forgive and Forget

On this Thursday morning, the Oracle of Proverbs (Delphi Sutherland, 2013) advises us to find forgiveness in our hearts.

The image is an interesting one, a woman on one knee in front of a church altar, praying.  Before her is a book (presumably the bible) between two tall candles, with another, thicker candle to one side.  There are white lilies behind her, and a white dove flies above her head.  Her dress is blue, with pink highlights.

It seems she is praying for forgiveness, whether for herself or for someone else.  It's interesting, the two sides to forgiveness: we can pray for forgiveness from spirit, an external force or figure that can absolve us of our sins.  Or we can pray to find forgiveness towards someone else within ourselves.  Both, I think, are hard in different ways.  In the first, we have to allow ourselves to let go of our guilt and shame.  In the second, we have to let go of anger and pain.  Both, though, offer emotional redemption.  And it is only once we have released those emotions, whichever ones they are, that we can move onto the second step: forgetting.

Of course, forgetting brings its own concerns.  Like the quote from George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  So, is it a good thing to forget?  Well, forgetting anger and shame doesn't sound quite as bad, but what do you think?

I hope I don't have anything much to crave forgiveness for today.  I know there are still a number of things on my to-do list that are pretty urgent, but hopefully none I have forgotten that are critical.  As for the forgetting bit, I can see where forgetting unpleasant emotions may be good, while forgetting facts, people and situations isn't.  Perhaps that's the important distinction...

I am grateful for the irrelevance of my sins in the greater picture of the universe.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Turning Over A New Leaf

It has to be said, the artwork in the Oracle of Proverbs (Delphi Sutherland, 2013) really is stunning!

The message of today's card is one that I imagine everyone has heard.  Yet, the way it is depicted here adds new depths to it.  We see an autumnal tree with bright red leaves set against an amazing sky of billowing pink clouds.  In the foreground, one leaf lies on the yellowed earth, larger than life and curling up at the edges, ready to be blown about by the wind. 

To me, this image speaks of the cycles of life, and how we have to let go of one thing before we can make a start on another.  At first it seems strange that the card shows the leaves falling, rather than the budding new leaves of spring.  Yet, it is only after we have released what no longer serves us that we can move on to something that suits us better in the present.  To turn over a new leaf, we first have to drop the dead weight of the past.

Now seems a very appropriate time for this card and its considerations.  As nature lets go of this years growth to hunker down for the winter, I wonder what I need to release to make room for new potential next year.  Over the last week or so I've been looking back at my goals and plans for this year, see which I accomplished, which I didn't.  And thinking about which goals I want to renew for next year, and which no longer feel important to me.  Certainly, my focus next year will be quite different, with a new baby due in mid-March.  It can't all be about work, but more about inner work and prioritising nurturing.  Yet, though a tree grows new leaves, it is still the same kind of tree it always was.  And just as my priorities will be different, my life goals have not changed so much.  Plenty to ponder, and maybe today is the day to make a start on my 2014 Create Your Amazing Year Planner (P.S. the link is an affiliate link for Arwen of Tarot by Arwen.  I'm a huge fan of Arwen's, and not only for introducing me to these planners.  An extra bonus is that she is offering free 3 card readings to people who buy a downloadable planner through her link, just drop her an email to claim one!)

I am grateful for time to reflect.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle...

For today's card from the Oracle of Proverbs (Delphi Sutherland, 2013), we have one I'd never heard of except in an abbreviated, film-title way. 

The full proverb is far less ominous than the 1992 film of the truncated title.  Instead of talking about a demented nanny, it suggests to me the importance that education holds.  Not just education, but also a loving and honest environment in childhood.  If we give children love, and help instil values in them that we believe in - by which I mean through our actions, rather than just through lecturing them - then we spread those values into the future, and beyond the home.

It's interesting to find a proverb that recognises the importance of child-rearing, given how low a priority it is in the current social structure.  Still, education at every level, and starting early, is something I believe in passionately.  And that goes for everything from Jamie's School Dinners to Gandhi's "Be the change you want to see in the world" attitude.

It's interesting to have this reminder, as I have recently been thinking a lot about how I want to bring my children up.  On the one hand, I was brought up with an attitude that it is not enough to be "just" a mother.  On the other, I think the way we bring children up affects not just them, but society as a whole, so what could be more important?  Still, as so often, I think there needs to be a middle path.  Seeing that their mother has a passion for what she does is also a valuable lesson for children!

I am grateful for the values my mother instilled in me, including the ability to question those very values.

Monday, 9 December 2013

A Change Is As Good As A Rest

These cards from Delphi Sutherland's Oracle of Proverbs really are beautiful! 

Today's is illustrated wonderfully with a life-cycle scene.  I love the subtle, warm shades of the butterfly's wings, the deep colours of the cocoon, and the cute creepy-crawliness of the caterpillar.  It's an interesting image to choose for this proverb.  Normally, I'd associate it more with going somewhere different, or doing something different, from your everyday life.  Here, instead, we are taken to a far more dramatic transformation: a change at a deeper level.  A change too self identity, rather than just to mundane pursuits.  It's curious, as well, because with the cocoon in there, it points to the idea that something which looks like rest may still be very active...

Have to say, being pregnant I almost always feel like I could do with a rest these days.  Though there is plenty of change going on, too :)  I find it strange that I often feel most energised when I'm tired, if it's that I'm buzzing with ideas and plans and therefore can't sleep.  Other times, when I do actually rest, I wake feeling lethargic, perhaps because I have nothing driving me onward.  Anyhow, we'll just have to wait and see what kind of day today will be, and if I feel tired, maybe I can take the suggestion to work on something different for a while.

I am grateful for the variety of life.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Nice Little Nest Egg

For this second day with the Oracle of Proverbs (Delphi Sutherland, 2013), we have A Nice Little Nest Egg.

A beautiful nest sits on the ground amongst lovely flowers.  In it, are four blue eggs and a golden one.  To me, this speaks of storing up wealth for when it's needed later.  Of sitting on something, knowing it will become more than what it is now, given time.

Of course, this is most often used in describing a pension fund, or an investment that you hope will grow over decades.  Yet, it made me think about other things we invest in, adding a bit more over time til it builds up to something momentous.  For example, we can curry favour at work, build up a reputation, or build up a network of friends who will be there to support us in good times and bad. 

Certainly, it is friendship I think of firstly today.  My Dear One, Big Boy and I are going to a party this afternoon, given by one of my old university friends.  I am godmother to one of his daughters, who turns two in a couple of weeks.  We have both invested in this friendship over the years - an invitation here, an email there - keeping the connection alive.  Now, should anything dire happen, I would happily do all I could to help bring his daughters up, and I know that he would be there for me, too, in troubled times.  Not that those are the only reasons to stay friends, they are just a lucky benefit of the friendship, good will built up over time.

I am grateful for good friends.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

You Can't Take It With You

This week, the deck I'll be showing is neither a Tarot nor a Lenormand!  It's been a while since that was the case :)  Instead, we have the beautiful, 34-card Oracle of Proverbs by fellow TABI member Delphi Sutherland.  This deck comes with wonderful, large cards to show off the gorgeous artwork, and a proverb at the bottom of each card.  It also has a nice LWB, which gives a brief introduction to working with the cards, a short meaning for each, and suggestions of related proverbs and other meanings, which is a nice touch.

As for today's card, we have You Can't Take It With You.  A figure carries a huge sack over his shoulder, which appears to be torn at the bottom, allowing glittering gold and jewels to tumble out.  He looks at us slyly from the corner of his eye, unaware of his loss, and smug about his wealth.  The landscape he walks through is a stony, yet colourful riverbank or mountain lake.  Across the water from him, snow-capped mountains rise up into the light, one of which has a steep staircase cut into it.  The suggestion, then, is that he can't cross the water and climb the stairs, burdened as he is with the heavy sack of material wealth.

Of course, the proverb itself is normally used in the context if death: material wealth acquired in this life won't benefit us once we're dead.  Yet, it also opens up the question of non-attachment in this lifetime.  Can we reach spiritual enlightenment while burdened with everyday concerns?

Ha, this is a rather pointed card on this, the third Saturday before Christmas.  Certainly, my plans for the day include some Christmas shopping.  Yet, this brings to mind a theme which James Ricklef, amongst other spiritual writers, has brought up more than once: it isn't having material possessions, it's how you feel about them that can block you from illumination.  Not that I think I've developed my non-attachment to tarot and oracle decks sufficiently, yet, but still... :D

I am grateful for the reminder that experiences are worth more than objects.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Flying

Ha, we end the week where we started, with yet another Swords card from the Otherworld Tarot (Schiffer, 2010).

This time we have the Six of Swords, with a strange juxtaposition between subtitle and image.  The card bears the word "Tranquility".  And yet, the image shows six swords flying across the sky in a way that is reminiscent of many an Eight of Wands image.  Three of the swords point upward, three downward, and they seem to fly both amongst the clouds and in between waves of churning water.  Each sword pierces a heart, while stars twinkle in the background.

What I see here is the notion of attaining clarity around our emotions - the swords of the mind pierce the clouds around our hearts and churning emotions.   That clarity may come from within or without, or a little of both (up and down).  Either way, it brings with it a degree of tranquility.

It's funny, I feel I got a fair bit of clarity, and increased tranquility, from some journalling and a trip to my therapist's yesterday.  Is there more yet where that came from?  Perhaps...  Alternately, this may be about focusing on thoughts and ideas today, without the pressure of difficult emotions that have been around the last few days.  I could certainly do with a bit of time to focus on work, that's for sure!

I am grateful for some emotional peace that allows me to focus my mind.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Patience and Strength

Spoke too soon, it's back to the suit of swords for us today.  At least this time it's a Court card, to give this week's perusal of the Otherworld Tarot (Schiffer, 2010) a bit more variety...

Here we have the Queen of Swords.  One of the things I really like about the Court cards in this deck is that they each have a little description underneath, which are often quite intriguing.  Take today's sentence for the Queen of Swords: Patience and Strength.  I can see how patience fits with the idea of someone who has been through quite a bit, analysed it, and now understands better life's situations.  And, describing her that way, you can see how it might take strength, too, to continue on after those experiences, to keep being open to life.

As for the visual, the Queen sits on a grey throne, with a blue dress for communication.  There are pink butterflies, suggestive of transformation, around her, and an orange sun over the green field behind her.  Yet, the Queen looks at none of this, seeming instead to focus on the large sword she holds point-down in front of her.  It seems almost too heavy for her to lift, and her face seems rather drawn.  The ideas we carry around from the past can be a heavey burden to bear, yet they are also what give us the strength and patience to deal with current trials and tribulations.

It's interesting, thinking about lessons from the past and patience.  Today, Big Boy has gone to school (hurray) and my Dear One and I are going to check out a possible nursery for number 2.  I actually went there back in the day with Big Boy, but despite "Equal Opportunities" messages, it quickly became clear that they were in no way willing or able to deal with a child with his level of special needs.  Despite that, they have a stirling reputation for regular kids, and lots of good resources, as well as being within a 15 minute walk of home.  So, we'll give them another look.  I may have to be patient, as I've been there before, but my Dear One hasn't.  Perhaps, too, if the person giving the tour starts talking about their so-called equal opportunities "policy"...

I am grateful that Big Boy is well enough to go to school!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Crafting

Yay, we've definitely broken the hold of the swords cards now.  Today, the Otherworld Tarot (Schiffer, 2010) offers us the Three of Pentacles.

A blue pencil crosses a brown paintbrush with blue paint on its tip.  Around these symblols of arty-ness are arrayed three pentacles in hues of red, orange and gold.  There are also three pink flowers, two small ones to either side of the top pentacle, and a larger one between the bottom two pentacles.  Altogether, this is another cheerful card, suggesting spending time on arts and crafts, enjoying beauty, and perhaps making some money from it all, or at least feeling a sense of abundance.  The traditional suggestion of teamwork, however, is notably absent.

For me, though, the idea of teamwork definitely comes to the fore today.  Big Boy is still off sick, so I'm hoping my Dear One can help out a bit so each of us has a little time to do other things besides caring for him.  Not that BB is being difficult, he's quite sweet and cheerful.  It's still tiring, though, not having that break of him going off to school!

I am grateful for a partner with whom I can find creative solutions.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Potential

Finally, we have some relief from all those swords cards!  Though it's back to the slightly stuck Two energy we started with in this Two of Wands from the Otherworld Tarot (Schiffer, 2010).

Still, despite two big, crossed branches/wands, this card has a positive feeling, full of possibility.  Subtitled Opportunity, there are cheerful red stars shining from a bright, yellow sky.  A blue-green world floats in the upper quadrant of the card, with a balanced set of scales at the bottom.

Altogether, it does feel like a card full of potential.  Though we may need to weigh up which opportunity we choose to follow through on, there is a world of possibilities here.

Not sure what opportunities my day will hold.  Big Boy is still off school sick, though I'm hopeful he'll be able to go back tomorrow.  My mum is coming round for a visit, which has the potential for some nice conversation.  And I hope I'll get a bit of time for one of my projects, though which one I'll choose to spend that time on is still open to debate :)

I am grateful for having lots of projects in my life which enthuse me.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Stay of Action

Three Swords cards in a row from the Otherworld Tarot!  Compared to yesterday's Five, though, this Ten of Swords seems positively cheerful.

First off there's the subtitle: New Beginning Ahead.  And even the image itself is far less gloomy than many a version.  While there are nine swords poised to stab someone, they aren't actually in flesh, and in any case they are cocktail stick-sized swords poised over just a hand.  Above that is a tenth sword, pointed to the right, around which small red butterflies and a big green butterfly flit. 

The message, then seems to be that action is stymied by negative thinking, but that our ideas can be transformed, leading to that new beginning.

It seems the last three cards have all had something to say about things going slow, of action being halted in one way or another.  Certainly, Big Boy being a bit under the weather the last few days has affected what we could and couldn't do.  Today,is no different, as he isn't well enough to go to school again :(  This card also reminds me of acupuncture.  I've been intending to make an appointment for him with a Traditional Chinese Medicine specialist, who I met when I had acupuncture with her.  Guess this card tells me to stop thinking about it and do it.

I am grateful for the reminder that my inaction is purely my own, and can be changed.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Admitting Defeat

Yeesh, another Swords card today from the Otherworld Tarot, and probably no-one's favourite: the Five of Swords.

Still, in some ways I like the keywords Alison Williams, the author, chose: Admit Defeat.  There are other phrases that normally come to my mind for this card, like humiliation or a lose-lose situation.  Yet, the encouragement to admit defeat holds a grain of potential: once we admit defeat we can let go and move on.

As for the visuals, a scary, snarling beast looks back over its shoulder at us.  Fortunately, five swords bar its way.  Though I guess if that's the way you were thinking of going you're doubly out of luck!

Well, I got my acrylics out yesterday, but had to admit that it would be only the first of many sessions.  Not just on that particular painting, but to get to know this new medium.  In the meantime, I think I may follow Prince Le Normand's suggestion and try out watercolour pencils as a half-way house between already familiar techniques, and one that doesn't require as much set-up and clear-up time, nor have as steep a learning curve... 

I am grateful for the advice of friends on alternate paths to take :)