Friday, 18 April 2014

The tongue is ever turning to the aching tooth

Every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than a diamond. ~Miguel de Cervantes

How could a more perfect card be drawn for today? The Greenwood Tarot offers me 5 of Stones (or Pentacles). 'There will be trials and there will be challenges,' writes Mark Ryan in the Wildwood Tarot companion book, 'Life is a contact sport and there will be bruises. The desire and willpower to survive and recover from setbacks is vital and necessary. Maintaining a resilient mind and retaining a sense of humour are most important to our health, along with the knowledge that the sun will rise on another day filled with opportunities.'

Now that I'm getting used to Chesca Potter's style, I can see that our point of view in this image is from inside a cave, behind the child figure. The child sits at the mouth of the cave, which is outlined in yellow. A fire is between the child and the mouth of the cave - a very sensible plan, as it will serve as a deterrent to any animals entering the cave! And outside, in the black night, a violent storm of lightning is taking place. The child, dressed in colours that mimic both the cave and the lightning, shelters on his own, waiting it out. I like that the child is clothed in these motifs -- This, too, is part of me, and I am part of it, it seems to say. The bad and scary things are not separate from me, but also part of me. They are not the enemy but part of the life experience. Even danger is a brother.

My lightning storm may seem trivial to some -- it's my recent dental woes. Yesterday I ended up having what was, for me, a somewhat traumatic dental filling. Most of the tooth is gone and it was a very large filling, but the dentist did advise against a crown at this point, as that would increase the risk of loss of root vitality by up to 15%. So she did a huge filling that required 4 separate shots of Novocaine and took over half an hour. She discovered decay on the adjacent tooth when she had removed the old material and now I have to go back on 28 April to have that tooth filled as well. This morning of course there is a lot of sensitivity. I'm hoping very much that I don't develop what she described as a 'horrible, throbbing pain' in that tooth, which would indicate a root canal is needed. I read about root canal. Basically, it kills the tooth entirely, the roots are cleaned out and filled, and so you are left with a dead tooth there. They crown it over and that's that. The main reason I don't want one is the thought of her drilling out all this material she put in makes me feel like running screaming for the hide in a cave, I guess.

After 8 weeks of trouble with this tooth, I've trained myself to automatically send food to the other side to be chewed on the right. I don't dare chew on the left for fear of breaking this gigantic filling. That's not something I was advised, it's just my instinct. It's sensitive today. I may confine myself to soup. It's quite sensitive to air, hot and cold.

Dental procedures -- surely a young person's game. When I think of the things they did to me when I was a kid with braces, oh my gosh. How did I stand it? Used to hurt so bad I would actually run a fever.

Anyway. I retreated into my cave last night by having a few drinks and going to bed at 9.30. I wish I could stay in bed all day today, too.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Prick up your ears

Greenwood Tarot
Today's card image from Greenwood Tarot comes from the Uffington White Horse. I've been there. It's a pretty amazing site. On the ground, you can't really see anything much. You can walk to a nearby hill and see the image, but the best pictures are of course from the sky.

Nobody knows what the figure means, or even quite what it is -- a horse? a dragon? -- but it appears to be from the Iron Age or possibly the earlier Bronze Age, and is associated with the nearby hill fort site. The shape of the figure seems to have changed over time, and there is uncertainty as to what it originally looked like.

Image taken in 1929 by RAF:

Image taken in 2013:

View from the ground:

Some say it's a horse, a tribute to the Celtic goddess Epona. Some say King Alfred had it cut to commemorate his victories. Some say George slew the dragon on nearby Dragon Hill and it has to do with that. The fact is, nobody know what the heck it is, how old it is, or what it meant.

What we see on the Greenwood Tarot card is the 'head' of the horse, apparently snorting golden plumes of the 'breath of life'.

The card is the Ace of Arrows, or Ace of Swords -- a card of clear thinking. It is decisive ability, cutting through confusion or illusion, making a radical decision, seeing through deception, etc. The card focuses on the eye of White Horse of Uffington, and the arrow aligns with its upright ears. The horse has come alive with alertness and snorts in response to what it sees or understands.

It's an interesting card, but hard to apply to today, which as far as I know will be an easygoing day off. I do have a dentist appointment at 9.10 this morning, and will HOPEFULLY get this tooth fixed for good and ever.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Captain Caveman

In Greenwood Tarot, the Shaman is the equivalent of the traditional Magician card. He holds symbols of the four elements: a roebuck skull rattle for air, a stone knife for earth, a smudge stick for fire and a hollow antler cup for water.

'The Sorcerer' is one name for this cryptic painting found in the Trois Frères in France by Henri Breuil. Photocredit: Encyclopaedia Britannica(View Larger)The robe is decorated with famous cave art from Grotte de Trois Freres, in Ariege, France. The depictions here are based on the sketches of Henri Breuil, and to my eyes (and many others) great liberties have been taken! The figure with the antlers for example -- doesn't seem to have near the detail of Breuil's sketch, and it is disputed whether there are any antlers there at all, and it appears to be sitting rather than leaning forward dancing. For some reason, Breuil's drawing has become far more famous than the original cave painting. I can't even find a photograph online of the bison playing the bow. I did find a sketch of the entire panel of scratchings/engravings on the wall of the cave, and you can see him near the centre (he's small, and facing the left of the drawing):

wall engravings

We love to think we know what these images meant to the people who created them, but that is impossible. 'Ultimately,' writes Ronald Hutton in Pagan Britain, 'the significance of most of the images in the caves must elude us. Randall White has pointed out that research among living tribes who have carried on a hunting and gathering lifestyle in the Arctic, such as the Aivilik of the Inuit people, has proved that accurate interpretation of their painted and carved representations depends upon comprehensive understanding of their belief system and environment. In the case of the European Paleolithic, we can reconstruct the latter, but not the former; and there has been no hunter-gatherer people in modern times that has possessed a culture exactly like those of Old Stone Age Europe. The consistency with which similar images, locations and activities were reproduced there over twenty millenia argues for a very strong framework of beliefs, but one completely lost to us.'

Much of what neopagans say about prehistoric art and beliefs comes from early archeologists whose work has now been seriously called into question or entirely discredited. However, the truth has never been seen as an obstacle by neopagans -- it's the meaning 'we' give these things that counts to them, and so we see here appropriated symbols from cave art, given meaning on a tarot card, though the wording is speculative. At the very least, the symbols on the Shaman's cloak attempt to connect to him an ancient spirituality that is earth-based and animistic.

 Scratch beneath the surface of the Shaman and you get traditional Magician meanings:

He is the bridge between the natural world and the spirit world.
He is a man of action - he envisions an outcome and then takes step to make it happen.
He has all the tools he needs to fully engage with life.
He is vigorous, creative, focused, centered.

I am going to the dentist today to have this overhanging filling removed and replaced. I hope the new dentist I see will be able to work some magic and place a filling that fades from my awareness, as all good dental work should.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Kundalini from behind the veil

Wow! This is one the more hallucinatory cards from Greenwood Tarot (Ryan and Potter 1996). It seems to me the deck is split into two, perhaps three, distinct styles: the colourful, soft focus style, and the fragmented trance style. This is one of the trance cards! (There are a few in the deck that I would call a 'warm fuzzy, soft cuddly' style, such as the stoat, the horse and the mama and baby bear cards...) I love both styles, but I am particularly fascinated by these fragmented ones. It's like Chesca Potter has painted energy, the aspect unseen. When I look at these cards, I feel like this is the true 'reality' of what's going on around us, the vibrations and energy and movement of all these atoms, all this energy -- all these 'strings' of string theory. :)

The companion book says of 3 of Wands: 'Nourishment from a spiritual source that gives inner security and joy. Goals and desires reached, making life rich with emotional security and a sense of completion.' And Chesca Potter has also written: 'A figure has stepped through the gateway of the two of Wands, arms open to receive the blessing of fulfilment. They stand in the healing radiance of the afterglow created after a loving polaric interchange. This is represented by the caduceus of intertwined serpents on their cloak (see Adder). This energised peace does not require another person, it can be achieved after an act of Creativity or Joy.'

The caduceus is also seen in two other cards in Greenwood Tarot: Adder, which Potter refers to, is the King of Wands, and also in my favourite card of the deck, Balance (aka Temperance).  The King of Wands shows two adders entwined beside a flaming wand. (It so happens that this card is done in the 'warm fuzzy' style I mentioned earlier). The Balance card is my favourite card in this deck. I would love to have a big framed poster of this image hanging on my living room wall. Temperance tends to be my favourite card in most decks, and this is probably my favourite Temperance card. It manages to combine elements from traditional tarot imagery (a robed human shape, water, an indication of two vessels, irises) with alchemical imagery (red and white entwining) along with hints of chakra balancing (the lotus-like suns), auras and an overall hallucinatory, shamanic feel. It is a remarkable card (and is a prime example of the 'colourful, soft focus' style I noted earlier). 

Three of Wands is the 'Lord of Virtue'. It's a word that has come to have many shades of meaning, but its root is the Latin 'virtus', meaning 'of man' or 'manly' -- strong, courageous, valorous, excellent, etc. When we view this card and contemplate it, it's like a snapshot of where 'virtue' comes from. I wrote about the 3 of Wands recently and said that the figure in the card is 'simply feeling the energy of her life and the physicality of knowing she is on the track that is right for her. It's almost like she is pulling energy up from the earth,' and today's card is like a snapshot of what that looks like from the point of view of the energy, instead of the point of view of the person experiencing the feeling. It's like a visual representation of the feeling of drawing energy into oneself from the universe and up from the earth, with the kundalini rising. Remarkable card. 

It says to me more than anything else today that I need to do some focused energy work. I think some meditation and perhaps even a nice long kundalini yoga session is in order for the day!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Full Moon Reading

Today is the full moon. Let's see what I need to release and embrace:

The Greenwood Tarot (Ryan and Potter, 1996) is telling me to release my need to be in firm control of everything and to embrace feeling frustrated and out of control.


The Ace of Stones (Ace of Pentacles) is a standing stone on a stark white background, decorated with prehistoric 'cup and ring' markings. No one knows what these markings signified to the people who made them, but they are found widely throughout the prehistoric world. For that matter, we don't know why they stood stones on their ends, or configured them in circles. But in any case, we have on Ace of Stones a standing stone, marked with cups and rings, an ancient monument. Chesca Potter says: 'Mythically the foundation stone means the first dry land on which life could begin. Also the first created form, matter, the mother stone, the firm ground from which one can begin one’s journey and measure the eight directions, the birthing ground, the navel stone. The Labyrinth is the place where your journey begins; the first steps; the cup and ring marks represent the source, your emergence into this world. The mare’s hoof mark, considered vulvic in shape means the source of life-the first steps on dry land; following the original horse herds led to your food source. A new stability enters your life.' Which, to be honest is what I thought it meant. Stability in life. Well, this draw is telling me to let go of this need for stability and instead to embrace Frustration.

The 5 of Arrows (or Swords) shows an archer shooting at a flying goat or ram. I can see how this could be frustrating! 'A double edged card depending on whether you are the hunter or the hunted. The card can be a warning -- either take flight or stand firm and face the situation. Ungrounded aims and fears,' writes Chesca Potter. I believe the card is telling me to get used to the feeling of being ungrounded, of things not going right, of things being unstable. 

It reminds me of this poster:

Ugh. This is hard for me. I love control. Even if it is an illusion. (Those are usually our favourite things.)

Flying reindeer

More cups. We're off from work all week in honour of our big anniversary so this looks like a loved up thing...

Yep...Chesca Potter's comments bear this out: 'Drawing this card denotes companionship, deep friendship. A sharing of profound understanding, a mutual love of knowledge from the past. Possible creation of a home together, a sense of home-coming and enduring friendship.'  


The two reindeer stand nose to nose in front of a tent made from wooly mammoth fur, tusks and bones. Wisps of homey smoke rise from the tent. You may wonder why there are fly agaric mushrooms featured in the card. Check out this clip from BBC Weird Nature:

That's pretty freaky! So maybe that happy home with the smoke coming out the top could also be a sweat lodge with a shaman inside having a vision of some type. Maybe that little bowl is his reindeer urine receptacle. LOL How silly. But I wouldn't be surprised at all, as the Greenwood Tarot is considered to be a shamanic deck. Let me just go check the book...

All it says is: 'The picture shows male and female reindeer as both have antlers. Male reindeer rut in autumn and the antlers are a potent symbol of sexual power. The fly agaric is also found at this time and the reindeer appear to eat this highly toxic  red fungi and seem to get 'drunk'. Some shaman drank the purified urine of the reindeer for its hallucinatory properties once the toxins had been removed.' Hmmm.  A little clicking around on the internet led me to some musings by a contemporary shaman who uses the Greenwood deck, Mi-shell of Aeclectic Tarot.

Mi-shell suggests that you should ask yourself this when you draw this card: What do you envision for the forthcoming future of your family -- your wishes, dreams, 'pipe dreams' and what should go to project status toward realization, how would you go about it and what help could the reindeer guardians offer?

At this 10th anniversary of our marriage, it's a good time for such stock take. And also a good time to appreciate all the positive aspects of the King of Cups, the master of emotions and relationships, the 'Lord of the Waves and Waters.'

Sunday, 13 April 2014

I remember you

Air of Water
'Prince of the Chariot of the Waves'

Chesca Potter wrote of this card: 'This card denotes someone whose life serves a greater purpose, someone with perseverance, determination, self-sacrificing and wise. Could have a tendency to martyrdom-to give away too much of one self.'

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary.

What do I see in this card? It looks like a sunrise (or sunset) over a burial mound on which trees are growing, and flowing out of the entrance is water, pouring down a stepped spillway toward a golden bowl that floats on a pool of blue. A colourful salmon leaps from the water in the foreground, beside some cattails.

This is nothing like the Wildwood Knight of Vessels, which features an eel swimming and which I find not remotely appealing. Some of the landscape from the Greenwood is used in the Wildwood 6 of Cups; the leaping salmon before cascading water is in the Wildwood Queen of Vessels.

I prefer Potter's otherworldly coloration. There's a surreal quality to the light in this Knight of Cups card. There is something about Potter's colour palette in this deck that seems to lend itself easily to trance. There's a flashing colour quality to it.

(In Irish mythology, there's a story of a salmon that ate hazelnuts from trees surrounded the well of wisdom, and that the person who ate the flesh of this fish would become wise. Some other stuff happens. Click the link.)

Anyway, I like this card very much. Like many cards in the Greenwood, there is something somehow mournful about it. The salmon has always struck me as a good symbol for self-sacrifice. I asked hubby what a salmon represents to him, and he said, 'Endurance. It's doing something that's hard, but it wins. It's doing what it's supposed to do. Just because it dies doesn't mean it loses. It's doing what it's supposed to do. It's following the natural order of things.' I didn't tell him anything about this card or how I think it might have anything to do with our anniversary.

Being married for ten years hasn't exactly felt like swimming upstream (not the whole time anyway :) ). but it is true that a marriage requires some 'sacrifice' or compromise, a bit of effort. There's a quality of sadness, too, there, lurking in the background. We push onward through this life together joyfully, and when it's not joyful, we hold each other up, but somewhere inside we are always aware of the ultimate destination. We know that end will come, and we push on toward it anyway, because it's the only direction we're allowed to go in. The most romantic thing people can say to each other is that we want to grow old together. It is romantic, and it's wonderful, but it's also sad, of course. We know when we finally get there, one of us is going to go first and leave the other behind. We know our days together in this life are numbered. Our time is brief. Twenty years, thirty years, forty years. What is that? It's a twinkling of an eye. This is why people cry at weddings, and at anniversaries, and when they decide to get married. There's so much of life, and so little at the same time. You don't cry  because you're sad, but because there's so much beauty and fragility to the whole thing. It overwhelms.

 An anniversary is a both a celebration and a reflection. Time goes by so fast.

Nat King Cole is my favourite, and every year hubby and I have a little slow dance to this on our anniversary. It's our song: