Saturday 30 August 2014

When does a deck become a legend?

The Greenwood Tarot: Pre-Celtic Shamanism of the Mythic Forest 
by Mark Ryan & Chesca Potter 
(Thorsons 1996)

Is there a tarot deck in history that has attained such mythic status in so short a time? How did this happen? Why? And does it live up to the hype?

Friday 29 August 2014

A relaxing meditation for you

The Wisdom of Avalon Oracle (Baron-Reid, Hay House 2007) contains four types of cards:

Messengers of Avalon (people)
Animal Guides of Avalon (animals)
Guides of Faery (elemental faeries)
Sacred Journey Markers (landscapes associated with abstract concepts)

Today's card is a Sacred Journey Marker, 'Letting Go'. The symbol at the top with two vertical lines and three wavy lines is repeated on the rock in the waterfall scene. If this is a well-known sacred symbol, I am not familiar with it, but it seems to me to be a symbol for waterfalls. What do you think?

The waterfall is actually a very apt symbol for the concept of letting go. The water in its forward momentum shows no resistance at all to the free fall of spilling over the edge. Similarly, we should allow our lives to flow without impediment or fear.

Why not contemplate the image of this card while listening to the sounds of a waterfall. As you meditate and listen, feel the flow of the energy of your life in its forward motion:

Blessed be!

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Is this someone you'd want to mess with? Lady of the Lake

In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon, which this deck is loosely based on, The Lady of the Lake is the high priestess of Avalon, and she and her priestesses can part the mists to enter Avalon. Not everyone can do this -- in the book, it takes diligent development of natural gifts to learn to do it.

Wisdom of Avalon Oracle (Baron-Reid 2007) doesn't play on that aspect of Lady of the Lake so much. Today's card hearkens more to the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legends, and the meaning given to the card is very much like the tarot Queen of Swords:

'She is the harsher element of truth, where denial is swept away by a tidal wave of events...serious business is at stake. The Lady reminds you of your personal responsibility in shaping your reality and its consequences. Seek the sword of truth within yourself and great success will be yours.'

This reminds me of something I read recently: 'Be who you are. People don't have to like you, but you don't have to care.'

If you are responsible for shaping your reality, why in the world would you want to shape it to conform to someone else's specifications? Would you want to wear shoes custom-made for someone else's feet? Dentures formed to someone else's mouth? Noooooo! So why would you even consider shaping your life to fit someone else's mold? Because they frowned at you? Because they made a comment to you online? Ha! No way, no how -- don't do it.

Look at the key words to this card: Absolute Truth, Courage, Self-Respect, Responsibility. Look at the Lady of the Lake -- sheer power and independence. She rises from the waters of the depths of her inner knowing, wielding the sword of her intellect, and she is ready to face whatever confronts her as she surfaces. This is you!

Monday 25 August 2014

New Moon in Virgo - let's get hopping, little froggies!

This week I'll be drawing from a charming oracle deck called Wisdom of Avalon Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid (Hay House 2007). The inspiration for this deck is very clearly Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, though, like many, Baron-Reid says she had an interest in Avalon long before that novel came out. In any case, the ties to Bradley's books are not strong. The deck features animals, human characters, elemental faeries, and  abstractions such as love, trust, protection represented by gentle woodland scenes. The artwork is beautiful, and you don't have to know anything about Avalon or Bradley's books to work out the meaning of the cards.  

Today is a bank holiday Monday, so the Frog is apt for two reasons -- one it will invariably rain today, and two the card is said to mean 'cleaning house, releasing emotional baggage'. That is exactly what we have planned for today! We want to give the flat a good clean and prepare for tonight's new moon. 

The new moon is in Virgo tonight, and that brings with it a powerful energy of definite endings. Diane Booth Gilliam of Yoganonymous says: 

Sunday 24 August 2014

Share a Spread Sunday -- Build a Bridge Spread

The Build a Bridge Spread can be used for any sort of situation where you want to connect the dots:

  • A love relationship
  • A career goal
  • School 
  • Weight loss goals
  • Fears and phobias
  • Procrastination issues

 Here's how to use it.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Ten Non-Negotiables

I hadn't heard of the 10 Non-Negotiables, but I spotted a post about it on New Age Hipster's blog, so I thought I'd have a go. ...Then I got stuck. What are my non-negotiables? Hmm.

Maybe I'm too old for a non-negotiable list that includes items about footwear and hair colour, because all of mine are pretty serious. But they are certainly non-negotiable.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Deck Review - Silver Witchcraft Tarot

I received the Silver Witchcraft Tarot last Friday afternoon and have been looking at it all week. Here's a little review. 

Even though the deck is borderless and doesn't have multi-lingual titles, it does scream LoScarabeo from head to toe, so if that puts you off, beware. The artwork is by Franco Rivolli, who seems to be a very prolific craftsman because he has done quite a few tarots. 

In all honesty, after just one week, I cannot say if this is a deck I will end up keeping. I will just provide you with a list of my own pros and cons. 

Wednesday 20 August 2014

5 Reasons to Read Tarot

Last week in 5 Reasons to Study Tarot I wrote about tarot history, occult symbolism, traditions, spiritual practice and entertainment. I said that 'reading' is just one aspect of tarot. But you know what -- it's a very good aspect!

5 Reasons to Read Tarot

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Death cheated out of the limelight again?

Life asked Death, 'Why do people love me but hate you?'
Death responded, 'Because you 
are a beautiful lie,  and I
 am a painful truth.'

When I bought Silver Witchcraft Tarot (LoScarabeo 2014), I got just the deck, not the book-and-deck set, because 1) it was cheaper, 2) I have very little storage space and 3) I would very seldom consult the book. A few of the cards in the deck are a bit of a puzzle as a result, but the Death card is easily interpreted, if slightly disappointing.

I say disappointing because I don't really like it when tarot decks are squeamish about the Death card. People always say that the Death card means transformation. And we see that here, with the empty shroud, and the larvae and butterfly representing metamorphosis (I like that, I use butterflies myself on this blog you may have noticed), and in the pillar of light which shows the route to heaven or enlightenment that this person took after death.

And that's the key -- transformation takes place AFTER Death. Death itself is not the manifestation of transformation.

Monday 18 August 2014

Finding Metta in the 9 of Cups

Yesterday I offered you a spread for setting empowering intentions in your thoughts, words and actions for the week. Today's card, 9 of Chalices from Silver Witchcraft Tarot (Barbara Moore and Franco Rivolli, LoScarabeo 2014) continues the theme. 

The 9 of Cups is sometimes called the wish card, and is also associated with deep personal contentment. Let's use the energy of this card to send our intentions into the universe, using a beloved and beautiful mantra that is associated with jivamukti yoga:


This mantra may be translated as: 'May all beings everywhere be happy and free.' 

It appears to be based on the longer, traditional Metta Bhavana ('Lovingkindness Meditation'). Please view this lovely rendition by Imee Ooi. The video provides text in Pali with English translation: 

Sunday 17 August 2014

Empowerment Spread

This spread is inspired by journal writing prompts and is meant to help you set your intention to be more empowered and aware of your thoughts, words and actions over the coming week. There's a little predictive element thrown in there as well. 

What do you do if you try this spread and the advice seems all to be negative cards? For example, you're told to have 5 of Swords thoughts or 8 of Swords words? And what if the outcome of following the advice turns out to be The Tower? Before you give up and change your question to what shouldn't I do, try very hard to see the good side of the card. You do the same when coming up with a so-called 'reversed meaning' of the Sun. So why not try it with 5 of Swords, which might mean, for example, constructive criticism that hurts (makes you feel defeated) but is for the best in the long run? 

Give this spread a go today and then follow through with it throughout the week. Try keeping track of the results in your tarot journal. 

Saturday 16 August 2014

5 Reasons to Study Tarot

Tarot for me started as a spiritual quest. I never set out to be a reader; that just happened. In fact, I believe that fortune telling is actually only one small facet of the cards, and probably the most superficial use of them (I know Edward Arthur Waite certainly thought so.) That is not to say tarot readings are superficial -- we all would agree that some readings can be profoundly deep and life-changing. But if reading is only scratching the surface, what else is there to tarot? I love doing readings, but let me tell you why I truly, madly, deeply love tarot and will study it for the rest of my life.

Friday 15 August 2014

Thursday 14 August 2014

Sage of Flames

Recently in a Facebook group, the question was asked, 'Which tarot card represents your best qualities?' This was a question to which I had no immediate answer. Can I even identify my own best qualities? The things I value most in myself might not be the things that others see as my best qualities, and certainly may not correspond to what the 'Universe' or existence itself might consider my best qualities. So I thought I'd just ask. 'Which card here represents my best qualities?'-- and the question was open, to include anything that might lie dormant or be unacknowledged in myself, to include the most obvious and overt things. I shuffled the Sirian Starseed Tarot, cut, and drew -- the Queen of Wands, or Sage of Flames. This both surprised me and made me laugh ruefully at tarot's humour and insight.

Monday 11 August 2014

Learn to release -- time to drop that sack

I rarely post about oracles because to me, oracles tend to be straightforward, personal messages. There is not a lot of interpretation involved, whereas of course tarot cards are so full of esoteric symbolism and associations that they could be discussed and written about forever (and hopefully will be!).  Today's draw from Conscious Spirit Oracle by Kim Dreyer (2013) gives us an affirmation:

'I release that which does not serve my higher purpose with gratitude and love.'

What unwanted clutter is holding you back from your full potential? We've all got it. It's just a matter of realising you're holding on to it. 

This reminds me of a story I read somewhere. A man is walking down a path, carrying a huge sack on his back. The sack is quite a burden; he's nearly doubled over. The man stubs his toe on a rock in the path and stumbles. 'Oh, idiot,' he says to himself. He stops, picks the rock up, smashes himself in the head with the rock and throws it into the sack. He continues down the path, trips on another large rock. 'Stupid! Stupid!' he mutters, stops and picks up the rock, smashes himself on the head with it and throws it in the sack. He does this another three or four times and finally a second man who had been standing on the road side observing this (the man with the sack wasn't able to move too fast or get too far for obvious reasons!) finally steps into the road. 

Sunday 10 August 2014

Your Tarot Horoscope for the Month!

Legend Arthurian Tarot 

It's appropriate that the Moon card falls on today, the full moon -- and a super moon, the biggest one until September 2015! 

I feel a sudden impulse to do something new today, so I've done a one-card draw for you all based on your sign. This is your tarot horoscope from this full moon until the next on 9 September: 

Aries - Queen of Swords
You will be shrewd and insightful in your dealings with people -- or you'd better be! You will see the truth of a situation and will need to use your powers of speech and persuasion to get others to see it, too. 

Taurus - 5 of Pentacles
This is a great month for taking it easy on yourself -- you may have a tendency to compare yourself to others, worry about money, or feel generally down. Remember your blessings, because they are many! When you let up on yourself, you will feel much better. Take lots of nice hot bubble baths and be kind to yourself. 

Gemini - Page of Cups 
Life is feeling beautiful and amazing for you this lunation! Take advantage of it by getting out and playing with child-like gusto. You may find yourself entranced by a butterfly or falling in love with the dewdrops on a spiderweb. Indulge these moments.

Cancer - Temperance
Ahhh, sweet equilibrium for you this month, lucky you! Not too hot, not too cold, but just right -- life is feeling on such an even keel we should start calling you Goldilocks. Enjoy!

Leo - Strength
You've drawn your own card! And this full moon was in Leo as a new moon. It seems it's your time to shine. :) 

Virgo - Moon
You may find yourself feeling puzzled by events in your life. Go within and you will find the answers you seek -- though they may be a little bit scary, it's good to face the 'monsters of the deep'. 

Libra - Sun
Things are so obvious to you in the coming weeks! The light of clarity is shining itself at last on something you've been wondering about. Don't miss the opportunity to act on that clarity. 

Scorpio - Judgement
There's something you've always wanted to do but were just waiting for the right time. It looks like now is the right time! Take the first steps this week. 

Sagittarius - World
In the coming weeks, you will find yourself feeling a deep sense of connection. Breathe deep and enjoy that feeling. Let yourself become expansive and replete with it. Wallow in it. 

Capricorn - Hierophant
Whatever it is that has been troubling you, now is the time to seek out advice from the experts. Read a book, visit a doctor, or talk to a friend who's been there. You will make better progress than you have done on your own. 

Aquarius - 5 of Wands
Your projects are beginning to feel like a bit of a battle. Nothing huge, just a constant bombardment of little annoyances. These will probably continue over the coming weeks, but remember -- they're character building! And once they're sorted out, they probably won't be back. 

Pisces - 7 of Cups
This is a time of dreaming. Why not make a dream board, start a new Pinterest board, or write in a journal about all the things you'd like to manifest in your life? Dream, dream, dream! Now's the best time for it. 

And in honour of the full moon --

Saturday 9 August 2014

Deck Review -- Tarot of the Cloisters

Tarot of the Cloisters by Michelle Leavitt, US Games 1993

The 'rose window' is a detail associated with Gothic churches and cathedrals, a round window characterised by a design radiating out from the centre in spokes or petals. They weren't known as 'rose windows' until the 17th century.

Tarot of the Cloisters by Michelle Leavitt attempts to translate the cards of the Rider Waite Smith deck into 78 rose windows. I'm really not sure why the deck is called 'Tarot of the Cloisters', because there is no cathedral that I know of that features rose windows in the cloister. (The cloister is an enclosed garden in the cathedral or abbey with a covered walkway where the holy orders could stroll in contemplation or meditation. Or maybe to have a barbecue. :) ) I suppose 'Rose Window Tarot' didn't conjure up the cathedral atmosphere in the minds of the publishers.

Apparently this deck is quite hard to find; I didn't how hard to find until after I recently bought it in a little occult shop in Burnham on Sea for £8. There were two of them there -- maybe I should have bought both of them!

Each card of this deck creates its own take on the RWS original, puts it in a round format, divides it into 12-14 wedges, and these are further broken up with black lines. Most of the images look less like stained glass windows than a painted piece of glass that has been dropped and shattered. Some images are more successful than others in creating the 'stained glass' feel, and those are the images which seemed pieced together rather than a whole being broken. But apart from that little bit of nit-picking, it's a very attractive deck.

Here are some of my favourite cards. It's really hard to tell if they're upright when you're putting them face down on the scanner, and when you try to close the scanner, they spin! So most of these are slightly rotated:

This brings up an interesting aspect of these cards -- reversals. It is quite difficult to shuffle a round deck so that cards remain upright, which leaves you with the dilemma of whether to leave the cards in the position they are turned over, or spin them around so they're all upright. My tendency is to turn all cards upright, as you know, but it occurred to me that these degrees of spin can be very telling in a reading. Which way is the card tilting? Past? (For me, that's to the left) Present? (the right) Or is it that the figure in the card is leaning toward one card and away from the other? Is the card looking up to the known, down to the shadow? All of these little subtleties can come into play with the rotation of the round cards. It's an interesting aspect of the deck.

My advice is, if you see this deck on offer at a price that's agreeable, don't hesitate to grab it. It's a good one!

Friday 8 August 2014

The Dude in the Pointy Hat

The Hierophant isn't always welcomed by some when he turns up in a draw. I can see why there is some resistance to institutions and hierarchies, especially where spirituality is concerned. In our time, many readers have come to associate this card with the negative aspects of organised religion, social mores and conventional thinking. It's true, the Hierophant can represent all these things, and the image of the Pope does trigger this in some poeople (though of course not all).

However, it is also true that the Pope (the original name for Hierophant, and one I often use because it's shorter and, well, it's the original name) stands for positive things, like a true spiritual leader or a teacher or mentor. That is why many decks change the name to Teacher, High Priest, or Guide. Apparently the word 'hierophant' comes from two Greek words: 'hiera' (holy) and 'phainein' (place), so it means one who brings into the place of the holy. In other words, a spiritual teacher or guide. Now, some tarot deck creators have changed with the zeitgeist a bit and assert that the only true guide is the inner guide, so they change their decks to reflect that. I personally think there is a place in our lives for learning from teachers, mystics and gurus, and their words are worth listening to. So for me, there is always going to be a place for the traditional Hierophant (though not necessarily organised religion!).

I use tarot cards as part of my personal spiritual practice, and I also use Sanskrit mantras in my meditations. It was natural for me to combine the two. The mantra I use for the Hierophant is:

Om maha jagadguru namaha

This means 'Om and salutations to the great world teachers'. To me, the Hierophant is the Jagadguru of the tarot, as well as inner spiritual knowledge, and even those shadowier aspects such as organised religion, dogma, institutions and social conventions associated with morality. 

What does the Hierophant mean to you? 

What role does spirituality play in your life? Social expectations? Conventional behaviour? Today's card invites you to ponder these things.