Monday 31 March 2014

'She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness'

Robin Wood Tarot by Robin Wood
This is a nice Empress. I like that she's not some sexy vixen like we see in some tarot decks. She's very matronly, all wimpled up and spinning. Very domesticated. There are the usual symbols of fertility and abundance -- she's pregnant, her gown is trimmed in green, she sits under a tree, there is a basket of fruit and veg and a bee hive at her feet, she spins wool into yarn, she is surrounded by lush green countryside, and so on and so forth. On the tree over her head, we see the sign of Venus on a valentine heart, as in the RWS image. Empress is ruled by the planet Venus, which rules over Taurus and Libra.

Libra and Taurus may seem as different as chalk and cheese, yet they are both ruled by the same planet: Venus. The mythology of Venus seems to reflect this dual nature. The Greeks saw Aphrodite as a goddess of love and beauty, which reflects Libra traits. The Romans saw Venus as an agricultural goddess of gardens and vineyards, which sounds more like Taurus.
Taurus is an Earth sign, and as such is connected to the body and the physical world. The Taurus side of Venus is rooted in sensuality, pleasure and celebrating the blessings of the material world. This includes money, possessions and resources of all kinds that collectively represent what you "have." The Taurus bull's horn becomes a Horn of Plenty, overflowing with Venus' gift of luscious abundance. ~Evolving Door
The Empress then, embodies the totality of womanhood. Well, they say that's the totality of womanhood. I personally think there's more to us than being both sexy and handy around the house. But this is probably rebellion against the Proverbs 31 woman I was encouraged to look up to  in my Bible belt youth. 
Well, I'm done trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman, but I would like to have a nice, balanced day today, and this card suggests that what I can do today to both bring me pleasure and bode well for my future is to turn my hands to my tasks with skill and patience, and strike a balance between my many life roles. 

Sunday 30 March 2014

White and yellow, green and red

This is one of the most beautiful Death cards in tarot, from Robin Wood Tarot by Robin Wood (Llewellyn, 1991). I just love it.

It's funny that I drew the Death card today,  because I don't feel that anything is coming to an end, but rather, as if I am waking up from a long blurry sleepwalk.

The figure in the red robe with the glorious white rose behind him seems to be pointing the way down the path for the little yellow butterfly. That's me, fresh and new and just hatched. The 'big bad' is behind me now, turns out he was my friend all along, and he is encouraging me as I make my fragile, fluttery way in the new direction I have chosen. Those sweet, moist little buttery-yellow wings, my little butterfly eyes blinking in the new sunlight, as I move off in the direction of my new day.

I wish I knew where to get my hands on a white rose to display in my home. A white rose and a yellow butterfly.

Saturday 29 March 2014

What would Butters do?

Robin Wood Tarot, Llewellyn 1991
I'm using Robin Wood Tarot this week, and I'm surprised to see that I've never blogged with it. It was one of the first decks I bought, on the recommendation of a friend, because the elemental attributions are made very obvious and the illustrations, particularly facial expressions, make contemporary RWS interpretations very plain and easy to see. The artwork is not to everyone's taste (including mine), but the deck has its place in my collection and I can't see myself ever getting rid of it, even though I hardly ever choose it for readings or blogging. Or anything else. Ha ha.

So here's the Page of Cups. You can see that Robin Wood keeps Pamela Colman Smith's tendency to paint images to look like a stage with a backdrop (PCS was a stage and costume designer.)  Here the figure stands on a stage (which might be a pier or pavement) near bubbling sea waves. The flat horizon stretches out behind her and the sky is multi-coloured. The Page of Cups stands examining a tiny vessel from which is emerging a small winged fish creature. Rays emerge from the cup, spangling out in all directions. The page stands with hand on hip, holding the cup up in the manner of a 19th century Shakespearean actor. A small artist's pallet hangs from her belt.

The association with elemental water is very obvious. The artist's pallet goes even further to telling us about the temperament of the Page of Cups than does the arsty, frowzy hat on the PCS version. The Page of Cups is emotional, poetic, creative, imaginative, young, idealistic, greeting the unusual with delight. (I mean, a fish popping out of a cup is pretty unusual. Many people would react differently than standing there admiring it wonderingly.)

I associate all court cards with certain fictional characters, and the Page of Cups for me is Butters from South Park. I love Butters. He is cheerful, naive, optimistic, gullible and somewhat passive. He has a wholesome attitude and mild disposition and is quite happy-go-lucky, despite any sad or negative events going on around him. Matt Stone, creator of South Park, says he represents 'permanent innocence'. Though Butters does have a bit of a dark side, such as when he rebels against his parents by joining a group of 'vampire' kids at school (has to quit because he doesn't like the taste of blood -- really Clamato. ha ha)

These are all qualities of Page of Cups, who is sensitive, open-hearted, imaginative, creative and optimistic, even when something really weird happens, like a fish popping its head out of your cup.

Now the question I've been answering lately is this: What does this card say to me about what I can do right now to bring myself pleasure and positively impact my future? I can open myself up emotionally today, see everything from the bright side, not read too much into anything. Allow myself to take enjoyment from simple things. Butters would.

Friday 28 March 2014

Stop draggin your heart around

Hey, it just keeps getting better and better. The Cosmic Tarot offers me 9 of Swords today -- 'Lord of Cruelty'. Well, yee haw.

Wow, this guy is in trouble. So's his pal Slithery the Snake. It's raining swords. One has gone right through his back, one through his leg, and the house is falling down. Yes, lord.

This card is about lack of empathy -- either toward you, or coming from you. The imagery in this card is quite merciless. There is no escape for this poor man. The barrage of swords is coming down, the buildings are falling down around him. From the other side of the house we see a tank rolling onto the scene, and in the air behind him, a plane approaches. This is an all-out attack.

After yesterday, I was really hoping for a more positive card, I have to admit. But I can take heart from this sage advice from Angel Paths Tarot:

Often, this card will be a comment on your own treatment of yourself - if you denigrate yourself and beat yourself up, you are facing the worst enemy of your entire life - you know your every weak spot, your every Achilles heel. You know just exactly what hurts you most, you have no defence against yourself, and you cannot walk away.

So, you must examine yourself first and foremost. Are you treating yourself badly? Are you giving yourself a hard time? Are you chipping away at yourself relentlessly? If you discover you are, it's time to stop. Hurting yourself about things within that you feel unhappy about is as pointless as trying to carry water in a leaky cannot adjust what you see to be wrong, because you are too busy standing in judgement upon yourself to gain any form of perspective or objectivity. And without these two useful analytical tools, you won't understand what you need to do to feel better, neither will you have the motivation or self-love to follow through. So..treat yourself with respect and tenderness whilst attempting to change what you do not like. Give yourself plenty of encouragement and praise for each small step you make. Don't be cruel.

I am in a new job. Today is the end of the fourth week. I really must stop beating myself for what I don't know, or feeling anxiety about the steep learning curve ahead of me. I have learned a lot in four weeks. I will learn a lot in the coming weeks. I have not made a serious error yet. I probably won't. It's true, I haven't received any really positive feedback, either, but I guess that's just the way it is in this workplace. People don't take the time to offer Encouragement.

Well, maybe I will start encouraging other people. Maybe I will start complimenting people on the work I see them doing, even if it's just to comment on what a nice-looking spreadsheet it is. What can it hurt? It might annoy people, but it might make me feel better. And it might make them feel better, too.

The 9 of Swords is Mars in Gemini. Mars is the 'action planet' - a fiery energy that can be assertive and daring, but also destructive. Mars, after all, is the god of war. Gemini is an air sign, of the mental realm, and Gemini energy loves words. So...add together fiery, war-like energy and thinking in words, and what do you get? Destructive, negative self-talk! 'Each of us knows this to be the "inner self cruelty" of our consciousness, as it cuts us with the emotionally poisoned blades of embarrassment, low self-esteem, humiliation, self-condemnation and/or inner disgust' (Eli of Thoth Deck Tarot).

When I first drew this card, I thought I was going to be the victim of some real cruelty coming at me from outside sources, but nope. It looks like the cruelty is going to come from within me. I don't have to go there, though. I've been warned, I can watch my self-talk and my reactions to whatever stressors present themselves.

What can I do today to that will bring me pleasure and positively impact my future? I've already thought of the idea of complimenting people's work. I can also focus myself on all that I have accomplished so far in my new job, all the new skills I've learned, and all the tasks I've achieved.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Don't feed the monster - 5 of Wands

Oh, boy, the Lord of Strife. In the 5 of Wands  from the Cosmic Tarot, we see two young men in a circle of stones doing battle against one another. They probably won't do one another serious or life-threatening damage, but those sticks surely hurt. The pink colour of the card is a sickly hue, more like a pale red, signifying anger and upset. Angel Paths Tarot says, 'This card will often come up when some-one is very unhappy with a working situation - there is, perhaps, a clash of personality with somebody else; or perhaps the individual is unhappy with working practices. Often in this situation there's a tendency toward rashness and loss of control which can lead to further problems.' I think this interpretation sounds applicable. My manager (who is leaving soon) has a meeting coming up today during which she will try to iron out with another manager, in another team, the division of duties between myself and that team. Where I work, there used to be an entire team of people. Now there's only me. I have been led to believe that this person will want her team to do all the 'big projects' and leave all the admin tasks to me. Also, I know that my manager and this person have had personality conflicts in the past. So although I won't be directly involved in the conflict, it will impact my working life. 

The advice Angel Paths Tarot offers is to arm myself with a sense of humour, be on the lookout for 'bad attitude' in both my colleagues and myself, and try to get through the day doing those tasks that are most enjoyable and leaving the more frustrating stuff for another day. She offers an affirmation that she says is designed to be hard to say, to try to help us laugh: 'I meet conflict and obstacles with equanimity.' 

The 5 of Wands, according to Golden Dawn tradition, means Saturn in Leo. 

'Saturn in Leo has a strong need for recognition. They clearly want to be the leader. They expect a lot from themselves and others. They have a limited sense of humour and can appear cautious and reserved. Leo Saturn can undermine their goals by undervaluing themselves, an attitude that can sabotage all they work towards. Their feelings of jealousy and lack of spontaneity can push others away. The often put up a coldness toward others to protect themselves. Their challenge is to connect with others and find value in themselves. Cooperation may be a challenge for them. They may be over-cautious. Life challenges them to properly use their personal power, creativity and ego. If they learn to successfully deal with these issues, they will have a joyful life of vitality and spontaneity.' ~ Always Astrology 

What is this card suggesting I can do today, then, that would bring me pleasure and have a positive impact on my future? I can remember that struggle and strife are inherent to life. I can avoid being drawn in to conflicts, particularly those that are not my battles, such as the one happening today. I can avoid becoming, as James Ricklef suggests in his book 'The Soul's Journey,' 'fascinated by the arguing going on over there.' Just being a 'mesmerized onlooker,' says Ricklef, allows negativity to creep into you and stirs up bad things. I can also avoid jumping to conclusions based on this perceived conflict going on around me, and possibly about my role. (Not me, but my role. The conflict started before I was even recruited, when the role was created. Not something they included in the job advert or interview!) Ricklef suggests that if I withdraw my energy from the power struggle, it will collapse. At the very least, I can take steps to insure that I do not feed it with my energy. I should withdraw both my curiosity and my speculations from this situation, and just get on with whatever tasks end up being assigned to me.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Rita Hayworth and the Cosmic Redemption

Hey, it's Rita Hayworth! I mean, 9 of Pentacles from the Cosmic Tarot. Everyone is familiar with the interpretation of 9 of Pentacles, enjoying the good life. I know it's my favourite card in several of my decks -- and my very favourite of them all is the 9 of Pentacles from the Morgan Greer Tarot. But this one is really nice, too. Our lovely lady is enjoying all the pleasures of success -- she's young, she's beautiful, she's got great hair, she has a mansion, a fleet of expensive cars, a lovely rose garden right outside her window, and a table laden with the luscious fruits and wine that traditionally symbolize wealth. She's got it all, and has nothing to do but enjoy it (for the moment anyway).

That's great, but there are other ways of looking at the 9 of Pentacles. In the Golden Dawn tradition, it is 'Lord of Gain,' and so all those wonderful meanings of success are there, but it might surprise you to find that the astrological association is Venus in Virgo, and what that implies. Have you ever wondered why the card symbolizing reveling in success depicts a lone woman?

'Venus influences the way we relate to one another, what we find beautiful and what brings more sweetness and light into our lives. When Venus takes residence in earthy Virgo -- the sign ruling work, health and daily routine -- we feel more related to such practical matters. It is an excellent time to fall in love with the simplicity of your daily regimen. We may crave time alone to tend to such things as catching up on our sleep, vitamin taking and attention to details. Work feels more satisfying if we apply ourselves wholeheartedly now. In relationships, honouring each other's need to take space and focus on perfecting our craft is immensely healing now. Virgo emphasizes the process and every beautiful detail involved in acts of refinement. Instead of smothering other people with demands for attention, allow and encourage others to take time for solitude and reflection.' ~ Sherene Schostack 

So that's why there's a lovely lady on her own in the 9 of Pentacles. Because she's representing Venus in Virgo. Cool.

And what can I do today to bring pleasure to myself and also impact positively on my future? The 9 of Pentacles encourages me to bring projects to conclusion (number + suit) and that I will be happiest doing so in a quiet environment on my own (astrological association). I should look for opportunities to resolve issues and then remember to reflect on and enjoy the results of my efforts.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

It's not about the kissing -- Lovers in Cosmic Tarot

Oh, look, a major. Today it's Lovers from Cosmic Tarot. I quite like this card and its very balanced design, with its recurring threes. Three rings around the sun. A cluster of three red flowers. Another cluster of three red flowers. Three stars on the arm of the lady. A 6-pointed star -- three points at the top, three points at the bottom. All those threes caught my eye. Of course, the number of this card is 3+3. Interesting. I like that the man and woman are of equal size in the card. The two trees are the same size and height, too. They seem to be equal partners.

The Lovers card is associated with Mercury in Gemini. Gemini is an air sign, and so funnily enough, Mercury in Gemini is not necessarily about love.

'Mercury in Gemini makes decisions quickly, and they usually turn out well. It is easy for them to communicate with all people from all walks of life. Eloquent and engaging, it is hard to be bored with a Gemini Mercury around.

'Gemini Mercury is a natural witty flirt. Their clever chatting often keeps their partner enthralled. The love to take part in cultural event and enjoy new situations. They blossom in a stimulating, fast-paced environment. When bored, they may stir up trouble just to make things interesting. They like to play mind games and are delighted to find someone who will spar back. A natural at social gatherings, they flit from group to group like a butterfly. They are usually attractive and full of good humour.' ~ Always Astrology

So it becomes more obvious why Lovers is often interpreted to mean a choice or decision - as decision-making is a strength of Mercury Gemini. Also, Gemini itself suggests a split between two, a twinning, or a duality, ie, a choice. And the social, charismatic qualities of Mercury Gemini would fit well with the attractions of the Lovers card. All in all, it makes good sense.

What, then, should I do today that would bring me pleasure and also be good for my future? I should make decisions quickly and efficiently, and if the opportunity presents itself, I should attempt be social and talkative -- in an attractive, good-humoured way. :)

Monday 24 March 2014

Have at you! Take that!

Sasha Graham, in an interview with Daily Tarot Girl, made a nice recommendation for the daily tarot draw. Many people draw a card each day for a general impression of the day, perhaps asking 'What does the universe want of me today?' or 'What is in store for me today?' Sasha puts a more positive spin on it by asking: 'What can I do today that will bring me pleasure and also be positive for my future?' This question certainly encourages you to look for the most positive application for even the most negative cards, and also prompts action of some sort, instead of passive waiting to see what comes about. For these reasons, I believe I'm going to try seeing the card in light of this question for the next few days.

So today I've drawn 7 of Wands from the Cosmic Tarot. The Golden Dawn call this card 'Lord of Valour,' and its astrological correspondence is Mars in Leo. Whoa. This card is all about fighting spirit -- courage -- self-belief. If Mars in Leo doesn't have it, who does?!

'There is a fearless quality to Mars in Leo that's determined to put on a good show. We're ready to fire off some gutsy moves under this influence. Mars in Leo can evoke our inner drama queens, so be sure you have a stage other than your relationships to act out the need to be seen, adored and worshiped. Praise and appreciation go a long way, don't be stingy on the compliments.' ~Sherene Schostack 

I can certainly see this courage and drama in the 7 of Wands card from Cosmic Tarot. The man in his high-waisted trousers with poet shirt tied up at the belly button (!) takes the stance of a dance instructor and draws back his staff to smite the half-hearted jabs of his opposition in a majestic sweep. They don't stand a chance. He will rebuff them with one graceful blow, draw himself up, click his heels together, tuck his staff under his arm and stalk off into the sunset. Probably with a toss of his head.

I really like that, and boy do I need a message like that today. I have some challenges at work, some knotty problems that need to be untied. Today's card tells me I can rise to the challenge -- and not only that I can, that I should. I should do it with the same confidence and assurance as this haughty fellow, with an Errol Flynnish  'Ha ha!! I laugh at you!'

So...what can I do today to bring pleasure to myself and positive impact on my future? I can approach today's challenges like Mars in Leo. Confident, self-assured, and brave, knowing I am most certainly up to the challenge.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Moon never beams without bringing me dreams -- 7 of Swords in Cosmic Tarot

The RWS 7 of Swords looks nothing like this one from the Cosmic Tarot. It has the familiar depiction of a man apparently sneaking away with five stolen swords from amongst the tents of a medieval jousting tournament.  (The other two remained stabbed in the ground -- or rather the floor of the stage.) The meaning of the 7 of Swords in Cosmic Tarot is closer to that of Thoth. In fact, I would say the Cosmic Tarot is a Thoth-inspired or Thoth-based deck, as far as meanings go. You can see on the bottom of the Thoth 7 of Swords the card title 'Futility'. The Golden Dawn called it 'Lord of Unstable Effort.'

I really don't know why 7 of Swords has come to mean 'theft' or 'deceit' in common parlance, other than the figure in the RWS card tiptoeing away from the apparent scene of his crime. So leaving aside the vagaries of Pamela Colman-Smith's image, let's take a look at the 7 of Swords from Cosmic Tarot, reading it in light of Thoth/Golden Dawn interpretations. In Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley writes, 'The 7 of Swords is called Futility. It has a passive sign instead of an active one, a passive planet instead of an active one. It is like a rheumatic boxer trying to 'come back' after being out of the ring for years. Its ruler is the moon. The little energy it possesses is no more than dream work. It is quite incapable of the sustained labour which alone, bar miracles, can bring any endeavor to fruition.' The 7 of Swords, according to Crowley's system, is ruled by the moon in Aquarius. 

'The Moon in Aquarius comes up with the grand ideas, but can have a hard time with the nuts and bolts. Some may find the mundane challenges of daily life, such as paying bills or doing the dishes, to be a herculean struggle. When feeling insecure, they may hide behind a veil of aloofness and try to blend in with the multitudes. Some find connection by simply sitting alone in a public place, such as a coffee shop.' ~ Molly Hall

So we begin to see where 'Lord of Unstable Effort', and even 'Futility' comes from. It's an astrological association. The word futility itself simply means, 'the quality of having no useful result'. It is not the same thing as 'doom', though some people do seem to think that's what the word means. 'Futility' is merely not of any particular use. And so lingering around the house all day in one's bathrobe, never quite eating a full meal, never quite watching an entire show or reading a chapter from a book, having got through an entire day with out really accomplishing anything -- that could very easily be a 7 of Swords day. 'Futility' doesn't mean horrible, gloom, or despair. Just kinda pointless.

The image from Cosmic Tarot is dominated by the moon in the cloudy sky, its pale yellow colour repeated in the large cloak draped over the woman's shoulders and arms, as if she is clothed in the moon's energy. The seven swords are stabbed into the ground around her, which is completely barren and grey. She is strolling out of the open circle of the swords toward the moon, moving in slow, languorous steps, and we can see she is reaching her left arm out to straighten the robe so she can toss it over her right shoulder, enveloping herself in the energy of this 'passive planet', the moon. She will continue to stroll in her slow, purposeless way, casting a shadow in the moonlight, looking down at her pale feet, thinking of nothing in particular, or if she is thinking it will be of something inconsequential, or of something quite 'grand' but of no practical application. She will look back on the past hours and wonder where they went, and what she was doing during them.

It's that sort of Futility -- and in fact, I spend most Sundays like that! Just sort of piddling around, not accomplishing much. There's nothing wrong with a bit of idleness, sometimes.