Sunday 31 May 2015

Tarot de St Croix Diamond Spread

A reading for this week at work

De St Croix Diamond 5-Card Spread
(from Tarot de St Croix LWB)

1. Signifier: What or who am I in this situation? - 6 of Swords
2. Unconscious: What is underneath or hidden? - 8 of Cups
3. Release: What do I need to let go of? - 8 of Wands
4. Conscious: What is on my mind, what do I already know? - Judgement
5. Receive: What do I expect or need to open to? - Hermit

The signifier tells me at least one and possibly all of the following: I am in a position to be a catalyst for change, I am in a position to receive guidance through this change, and this change will happen and will soon be a memory, all behind me. It would seem that it's up to me to determine how smooth the sailing is. The idea of moving on or turning into a new direction is seen in both 6 of Swords and 8 of Cups. Both cards imply that the turning away is caused by some pain (or is causing some pain) but that the transition is both welcome and inevitable. In other words, the situation has reached a turning point and there is no way a corner won't be turned this week.

Tarot de St Croix says this about 8 of Cups: 'Emotional strength is not about overcoming our feelings but instead immersing ourselves in them until we can release them.' There are many ways to read this statement - none of which seem to have much to do with traditional interpretations of this card. It's saying to feel what I feel and not deny it. It could also be saying that there is a time and a place to release emotions and to be aware of that (ie, be on guard against emotive outbursts).  Finally, I also see it as a reminder that I am not the only one with feelings and it might be useful to try immersing myself in someone else's feelings in order to understand them better and be of help to them.

I need to let go of urgency. The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, as good old King Solomon obligingly reminds us. It is probably time to listen more than I talk and by that I don't mean sitting in silence, but actually understand and accept the ideas and opinions of others in a way that may change the way I behave in the future. Listening may not always be expedient, but it is certainly more helpful.

I already know that a sea change is needed in my work place in order for us to survive. My grave concern is that certain others will not take seriously the precarious situation we are in. It is so important, for our very survival, that we make big changes in the way we do things, and this is where my sense of urgency comes from. I lose patience watching others going through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) that go along with big changes. Some of us hear the trumpet call and ready to rise up renewed (RWS imagery), others still slumber in the tomb, as it were. The Tarot de St Croix depicts life changing moments in a cathedral: 'Look at your beliefs and decide if they work for you,' the companion book advises. I already know that I have been doing that, and I know that all members of staff need to do it, too.

I need to expect and be open to the fact that this will take time. The Hermit is Father Time and it is that aspect that I see applying here. I don't see how 'solitude' has much to do with anything, though the implication is there that I may not have many allies during this transitional time. I also must be prepared to receive that it's all going to take much longer than I would have hoped. I just hope it doesn't take so long that it becomes too late.

In summary, this spread is telling me that change happens slowly, it is complicated, it involves a lot of emotions, and being impatient is only going to complicate matters. It tells me to LISTEN and to empathise.

Long week ahead. LOL

How about a draw from The Wicca Deck (Sally Morningstar 2001) for a final word on the issue:

Okay, the companion book says and I quote:

High Note - Change is coming. Are you ready?
Low Note - Release; let go. Prepare.

So, that pretty much confirms all of what I said in the tarot reading. The book goes on to say that it is a time to draw toward you what you need to advance your position in life, and that you need to release something in order for this to happen. What I need is for staff to bring their practices in line with the rest of the service, and what I need to let go of is the desire for them to do it how I want it when I want it. As long as they do it, that's what counts.

Saturday 30 May 2015

Bloom and grow

Goddess Guidance Oracle (Doreen Virtue)
Yesterday when I put the 'I am not a victim' card on my altar, I decided to put up some goddess cards on either side of it, and I started going through my decks looking for goddesses that expressed what I wanted to express, strong ones like Pele. But then I decided to just ask for the ones I need. To my surprise I pulled these two.

Aphrodite: 'Awaken the goddess within you through dance, self-care, and appreciating your divinity.' 

This morning, I actually did some yoga. Twenty-five minutes of sun salutations. And while I was doing them, I literally was not worried about pushing myself or following a DVD, or talking to myself about how much fitness I've lost, or looking forward to a day when my flexibility would be better, or trying to remember the Sanksrit mantra for each move. I just did sun salutations.

Aeracura: 'You are just getting started, so have patience with yourself and the process and do not give up.' 

I think this card is much deeper than the literal. Mastery is not the point. I will always be 'just getting started', we all always be 'just getting started', so why not let up on ourselves. Do things without judgement, without seeking, without reading loads of books and making lots of rules and imposing expectations and restrictions on yourself.

Yesterday I said that I felt as fragile as something freshly hatched from the shell. Could it be I'm emerging into a new era,  maybe it has something to do with my approaching 50s, I don't know. I have let go of most of my accumulated tools over the last several months. I don't need them anymore. I don't need systems, I don't need all this folderol. Just freshness, clear space, and patience with myself.

Friday 29 May 2015

I am not a victim

Day before yesterday something happened at work; I have been blowing it out of all proportion in my mind. I will make myself sick if I don't do something to stop this in its tracks. I thought I'd take this to Oracle of the Shapeshifters (Blue Angel, 2011).

First of all, I started it. That makes me feel guilty. What I said needed saying, but probably not at that moment or in that way. The person in question and I just need to sit down to talk it through, but the bottom line is, changes need to be made to some fundamental practices. As with anything, it's all in the delivery. And the timing! It's pretty obvious how much I'm overthinking this, so let's draw some cards.

What is the message for me about this, my feelings about it, and how to deal with it? 

'You feel sluggish, tired and very much like you are no one special. I am here to tell you you are special, but you have grown too large for this safe haven. Now it is time to move on. It will be worth the time of initial discomfort, for a great and unknown truth about your potential will be revealed as the result.'

True, I do feel very tired lately, as I've said over and over. I guess it's saying I've kept my head down long enough, some of these things had to come out at some time, and this was as good a starting point as any (though it could have gone better!). The point is what I do next with it, not what happened in the past.

'She (Artemis) will insist you go deep into the wilds, to leave your comforts behind...and that you learn how strong you can be.'

The second card reminds me that I'm not going to die, no matter what happens. And no matter what happens, reality will not be nearly as bad as my overthinking makes it. Things might be bad, but not the end of the world. (REBT technique!)

'While people have mistaken you for a pushover, you are a strong person who cannot be stopped. Take a stand, because it is now time to be firm and decisive. No backing down. Someone stands with you. You do not face this alone.'

And finally that last bit certainly rings true. I haven't show much assertiveness yet, but as the companion book says, 'It is now time to be firm and decisive.' I do love the confidence exuding from this Little Red Riding Hood card. I think it's going on my altar for the week. ... Edited to add--

Thursday 28 May 2015

Golden cornucopias

Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982)
A cornucopia of abundance is what I have drawn from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982) today. The RWS and Thoth versions of this cards are noted for the Tree of Life configuration of the Pentacles, and we have an echo of that here. It's a little squished but I think you can see that the artist is acknowledging it.

What does the Tree of Life have to do with the Ten of Pentacles, though? It suggests that this card is to the tarot minors what the World card is to the tarot majors. (It's also interesting that the the Ten of Pentacles is the only card in the pack that depicts the Tree of Life in its entirety.) In some ways, the Ten of Pentacles represents a culmination of all the work that has gone before. It is like a payoff, or a reward. The results of previous actions or events, and fortunately, the results seem pretty positive!

This card invites some questions:

What have I accomplished thus far in my life? (or in this week, this day, this project, this issue?)

Where have I come from?

How have I triumphed? What lessons have I learned?

What is in my life right now that could be considered a reward?

What are some things that I may not recognize as a culmination of what has gone before? How are they that?

If I step back and look, what 'big picture' can I see that normally I do not see? What connections can I make today to help me join up some of the dots in my life (or my situation, my feelings, my issues).

What is there in my life that I can feel proud of and satisfied with?

What is there in my life that makes me feel secure, grounded and contented?

Have I acknowledged and given thanks for those things?

Wednesday 27 May 2015

In the jungle, the mighty jungle

This is a very appealing Strength card from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982). You may notice it is numbered XI, which is the traditional placement of this trump. Waite changed that around for the RWS. He said the reason was 'obvious' -- If 8 is Leo and 11 is Libra, wouldn't you put the card with a lion in the Leo position and the card with scales in the Libra position? Also, 11 is 1+1 which might represent the balance of the scales, so that's another reason. And some Strength cards have the infinity symbol on them, which looks like an overturned 8. BUT...this only works if you agree with the notion that the trump cards have some sort of Universally-decreed astrological correspondence. I'm not terribly into astrology and only throw it into an interpretation on the rare occasion I remember something. Not only that, but I don't really use numerological attributions either, and the earliest tarot decks were not even numbered. I just don't find numerology all that convincing. In short, I don't care if Strength is at 11 and Justice at 8 or vice versa. But if it bothers you I have a simple solution - take a marker pen and draw a big fat number over the one on your card and switch them around yourself. Job done!

There's an interesting passage in James Ricklef's 'The Soul's Journey: Finding Spiritual Messages in the Tarot' --

Jesus said, " Blessed is the lion which the man shall eat, and the lion become man; and cursed is the man whom the lion shall eat, and the lion become man." -- The Gospel of Thomas  This verse says that we are all struggling to live according to our divine nature, but the important difference between people lies in the extent to which we let our bestial soul dominate versus the extent to which we let our divine soul rule instead. The first step toward the actualization of our divinity and subjugation of our bestial nature comes with our dawning awareness of this conflict (Ricklef, 42-44).

So what's my 'beast' or 'lion'? It was suggested to me yesterday that my aversion to the Queen of Wands comes from her being my shadow side. When a card is our shadow, we used the so-called 'reversed' or 'shadow' meanings. And about Queen of Wands we see that she:

--can be intimidating
--refuses to listen to the opinion of others, it's her way or no way
--displays a terrible temper if you cross or go against her
--will gossip and backbite you if you cross her
--lacks energy
--loses faith
--fades into the background, has no friends
--may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - certainly gives every sign of it!
--is intolerant of weakness or apparent failure

Well, ouch, ouch and double ouch. Now that's a lion to confront and tame. This looks like a job for Ringling Brothers. Barnum and Bailey. Them sort. :)

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Oh look who's back

The Queen of Wands and I have never had a very close relationship. We're like distant cousins -- we've heard of each other but wouldn't recognise each other in a crowd. She turned up in my reading on Sunday paired with 6 of Cups as an outcome, and now here she is in my daily draw.

This Queen of Wands from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982) holds a staff, symbol of action and fire,  in her right hand and a red rose, symbol of passion and emotion, in her left. The right hand symbolises assertiveness, mercy, the sun, logic, giving and consciousness. The left hand represents passivity, justice, the moon, emotion, receiving, and the unconscious. Around her neck and on her head is the upward pointing triangle representing fire. The one on her head is red, for passion, the one on her breast is white, for purity or clarity. This shows a balance of polarities, passion usually being associated with the heart and clarity with the mind, you would expect to see red closer to the heart and white closer to the head. Not with the Queen of Wands -- she's got it all in balance, so that one does not overpower the other. Surrounding her are four wands in a square, a symbol of stability and firm foundations. At her feet, a bed of roses with green shoots rising up, representing flowering and growth. This is balanced by the starry twilight behind her.

I tell you what, I never felt as emotionally intelligent, well-adjusted and rah-rah-siss-boom-bah as this lady is meant to be. I guess that's why she always sort of makes me feel suspicious, cynical -- surely it's all just an act! Why doesn't she just admit her hair gets greasy, her face breaks out and sometimes she just wants to tell the world to fuck off? What is her problem??? Or maybe it's more like, 'Oh, child. One day someone's going to step on your pretty little neck and then you'll know what real life is like.' I'm just being honest. My Queen of Swords has always been waaaaaay stronger than my Queen of Wands.

Today's draw encourages me to look at my Queen of Wands qualities. 'The Queen of Wands offers advice and encouragement regarding the sacred practice of service...she personifies the feminine aspects of wisdom, which includes understanding other people and being supportive of them' (The Soul's Journey, James Ricklef, 142). When I'm honest with myself, I do that. Tarot readings do that. I am in a few groups online where I offer support and encouragement for a variety of endeavors, for example. I probably just don't do it often enough for her to feel strong enough to stand up to my towering Queen of Swords and say, wait a minute. Back off, bitch! And I don't have to just see the Queen of Wands as some fake-tanned, bleached-toothed motivational speaker from Orange County. Maybe, just maybe, it's not that simple.

 I can look for more subtle manifestations of the Queen of Wands in myself and others. Then I may be more inclined not only to recognise her but to warm to her and give her room in my life.

Monday 25 May 2015

Divination 3 x 3 x 3

My friend Chloe at Inner Whispers has done a You Tube in which she shares her three favourite divinatory tools and invites us to do the same: tarot, oracle, Lenormand/other. After much deliberation, I have selected my 3 x 3 x 3. Here they are in random order:

Top Three Tarot Decks 

1986 Blue Box Thoth Tarot
My journey with the wonderful Thoth Tarot has been chronicled on this blog. If you look on the right side bar and click on 'One Deck Wonder: Thoth' you can read all about it.

I have three copies of this deck. My first copy was the small purple box Thoth, purchased for a workshop at a TABI Tarot Convention. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear the presenter (she wasn't on mike) and the people around me all had a negative reaction to the deck, which reinforced my perception of it as cold and unreadable.

When I at last decided to confront my fear and distaste for the deck, I made a commitment to using it exclusively for a time. I did all my blogging with it, my personal readings with it, and my client readings with it. I tried to ready Crowley's guidebook, The Book of Thoth, but found it impenetrable. I bought Tarot: Mirror of the Soul by Gerd Ziegler, but even with my limited knowledge, I knew his was an idiosyncratic and unhelpful take on the deck. Finally, I found Lon Milo DuQuette's book Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot and I was on my way.

If this were the only tarot deck in the world, it could easily keep you busy for a lifetime.

Yellow Box The Rider Tarot Deck 
Edward Arthur Waite and Pamela Colman Smith created what is now the classic tarot deck, and it is available in all sorts of colorations. There are clones (exact same images but with lines and coloring revised) and their are 'RWS-based' decks (too many to count! - Druidcraft, Anna K Tarot, Hudes, Aquarian, just so many). But when I have a tough question or am reading for a client and want to be able to answer clearly and confidently, the old standard yellow box Rider is just the ticket. Could not do without it.

Morgan Greer Tarot (US Games 1979)
This deck is special to me because it was the third deck I ever bought. It is a RWS-based deck, notable in its day for being borderless. It is the deck I turn to even before my yellow box Rider (or other RWS clones). It's not particularly beautiful, but I like it. The backs have no relation to the fronts in style or coloring and not reversible, but I like it. It's full of mustachioed men like something from 'The Joy of Sex', but I like it. It's a workhorse of a deck, shuffles like a dream, I've had it from the start and I like it.

(Honorable Mention: Druidcraft
I have Druidcraft and I used it a lot for years, but I hardly ever pick it now. I won't get rid of it though. However, I hardly ever use it so I can't really say it's a favourite.)

Top Three Oracles
I have to be honest and say most of my oracles were bought either to use as altar decorations or just totally on a whim. I do occasionally use a few of them for divination and here they are:

Morgan's Tarot (Morgan Robbins)
Read my introduction to this fabulous oracle here: 10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box. And it gives wonderful readings such as this: Have you ever been Biff Tannened?

I love this deck. Here are a few of my favourite cards:

Teen Oracle (Cinnamon Crow Dixon)
I learned about this oracle from Steven Bright of Tiferet Tarot. It is a very straightforward deck when you just want an answer. Black and white images with red text give it a 'you can't ignore me when I'm being this literal' feeling, and cards are simple as: Stop, Speak, and Relax.

Oracle of the Shapeshifters (Lucy Cavendish and Jasmine Becket-Griffith)
I may be the only person in the world who actively dislikes the artwork of Jasmine Becket-Griffith. I do not like these cards. I don't like any of her work. I do not like these bug-eyed, button-nosed, big-headed girls who like aliens suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. BUT...Lucy Cavendish must be some sort of world-class witch because I have never used a more uncannily accurate oracle. For me, the book is indispensable. The cards are useless without it, and in fact, I often don't bother with the cards but just use the book, opening it at a random page instead of drawing from the deck.

Lenormand and other 
I do not use any 'other' types of divination, having given up dealings with runes, crystals, herbalism, and such like. I'm pure cartomancy these days. Here are my three favourite Lennies and 'other':

Esmeralda Lenormand
I didn't even know about this deck; it was a gift from a friend, and has become my favourite Lenormand. I use it for all my client readings and it is my go-to for my own personal Lennie readings as well. I love the rich colours and textures, and the little prompts and icons. All the information you need is right there on the card, and when laid out in a grand tableau, they look like a glorious patchwork quilt.

Titania's Fortune Cards
This was my first Lenormand, before I had even heard the word 'Lenormand'. If you buy it, ignore the companion book. It bears no relation to any traditional Lenormand system and will only confuse you. (I actually threw mine away.) They have a crazy, 'flashing colour' thing going on with them, making them look like lurid photo negatives. You get a sort of tatwa thing going when you use them. Here's a draw I did with them: Lenormand Daily Draw.

The Psycards are a set of 40 cards inspired by Carl Jung's work, and based on the principle of 'archetypes'. I used to have the book but I traded that set, then a few years later decided I wanted the cards back and bought the deck only. It's okay, the book is not really needed.

Here's a reading I did with Psycards: Emperor Energy -- Not Welcome Lately.

Well, that was exhausting. :)

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favourite decks. What are your faves? I'd love to hear! If you do a You Tube or write a blog, please link to it in comments below. :D

Sunday 24 May 2015

The Hamburger Moment: A Reading

An article that's making the rounds on Facebook caught my eye the other day:

The Hamburger Moment: I wasn't treating my husband fairly and it wasn't nice

I recognized a lot of my own patterns of behaviour in that article, and not for the first time. I know from experience that I am not the only woman who tends to come down very hard on her partner for small things. I've listened to women complain to each other vigorously about such sins as leaving wet towels in the floor, not opening the hamper but leaving clothes on top, and putting toilet paper the wrong way round. I have certainly seen a lot of this sort of behaviour on TV shows like 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and 'Home Improvement,' etc (forgive my ancient TV references, I don't watch a lot of sitcoms anymore). I guess we've been doing this crap for a long time; it's even mentioned in the Bible: 'A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand' (Proverbs 27:15-16). Ha ha!

I don't have a clue about the bigger picture of why there seems to be a pattern of women nitpicking. Maybe it has something to do with some underlying pressure to be perfect ourselves, imposed on us by cultural and societal expectations, maybe it's learned behaviour from watching our mothers, don't know, but what I do know is I can try to recognize and address this sort of thing in myself. Better late than never. So here is what I asked:

1. Why do I slip into the habit of constant fault-finding in my husband? 
2. What is the best course of action to address this? 
3. What is the biggest challenge in this course of action?
4. What is the biggest support?
5. What is the outcome? 

I then pulled 5 cards and examined them:  7 of Cups - 2 of Pents - 10 of Swords - 10 of Wands - 6 of Cups. I was getting an impression of the reading, but decided to pull clarifiers for each card in the spread (not something I usually do) and laid them in a second row beneath: Sun - Ace of Wands - High Priestess - King of Swords - Queen of Wands. Each card I laid down felt like 'Boom! There it is!' They just solidified the original draw so well. Let's take them in pairs. 

 I do this because of deceptive, destructive fantasies of perfection. It's not just him I hold to these unconscious rules, it's the entire world! I've been reading a lot about irrational beliefs that underlie our unhelpful responses to life, and I've identified several from a list produced by Albert Ellis (12 Self-Defeating Beliefs). The ones at work here seem to be:

*People should always do the right thing and when they don't, they must be punished.
*Things must be the way I want them or life will be intolerable.
*My unhappiness is caused by things outside my control, so there is little I can do to feel better.
*Every problem must have an ideal solution, and it is intolerable when one cannot be found.
*To be a worthy person, one must succeed at what they do and make no mistakes.

I have no idea how these irrational rules and beliefs become embedded in us, but I have found that when I feel upset about something, if I have a look at these lists, I can usually quickly identify the irrational belief or demand that is causing the discomfort. It is rather uncanny. So what's the best course of action?

To create 'a partnership working with proper energy flow and support', I must remember that 'mood swings may threaten stability' and that 'anger and not fully understanding the consequences of actions' will break down the balance. (The quotations come directly from the LWB of the Sacred Rose Tarot deck. It's useful to keep and to check the LWB! Sometimes what you find there is spot on!)

The key here is to learn to catch myself between the irrational belief and the consequences (that's the exact term used by Ellis -- fits, doesn't it!) of that belief. It's almost impossible to do that, so the only way you can change a habitual response is by doing what Ellis called ABC analysis (see previous blogs here and here). Over time, with reflection and by disputing irrational beliefs after the fact, the behaviour begins to change. That's the theory, and it's certainly helped with my tinnitus, so why not try it here.

The biggest challenge is of course rooting out and recognizing the self-defeating actions. That's reflected in the pairing of 10 of Wands and High Priestess. The LWB says there are 'excessive pressures and problems to be resolved' and that good judgement is based on 'logic and knowledge removed from the confusion of emotion.' That is precisely the process of REBT. It's not easy, it's hard work. So it's the biggest challenge.

The biggest support comes from the cerebral nature of the whole thing. This is the death of irrational beliefs and the meticulous re-training of the thinking needed to challenge and change them. If the King of Swords were to identify something as entirely self-defeating, he would be merciless in rooting it out. This is a good thing. When my King of Swords nature recognizes how illogical and pointless certain beliefs are, he simply won't allow me to believe them anymore. And when I don't hold a certain belief anymore (like 'people must be perfect and they if they make a mistake they deserve to be punished') then I won't react to events based on that belief anymore (like if my husband or I drop the cafetiere and break it, it is cause for a flash of anger and sharp words). -- If my underlying belief can be changed to 'People make mistakes and though it's inconvenient it is not intolerable and we remain worthy human beings regardless of our mistakes', then dropping the cafetiere would result in 'Oh crap, oh well.'

The outcome of attacking this behaviour using these techniques? I will become responsible (or accept responsibility for) my own emotions. This will allow me to access the better qualities of my Queen of Wands nature: warmth and affection coupled with authority and determination.

I then asked, 'What is the overall message to me about this issue?' and drew three cards:

It's up to me to recall the source of love and emotion and to exercise my free will in deciding how I will react, what path I will choose in response to the cycles of the day-to-day. There is always a choice in response to the Wheel of Fortune. May its genesis be love, and not flawed beliefs and unconscious rules. 

All images in this post are from Sacred Rose Tarot (US Games 1982). 

Saturday 23 May 2015

Whatcha doing today?

Sacred Rose Tarot 
What should be my top priority for today? 

I've drawn from one of my favourite decks, Sacred Rose Tarot (Johanna Garguilo-Sherman, US Games 1982). I love this deck because it is very sparkly and spangly and 70s-witchy-tastic. I like the tangled briar borders and the 'lens flare' and the eerie, empty eyes of the figures in the cards. The deck was started in 1977 and finished in 1981 -- so it's got that 70s vibe, a time when 'witchiness' was quite different to how it is now.

Anyway, this card tells me two things: focus on my partner today and enjoy our day together...and do the washing up. Because those look suspiciously like soap suds to me!

That was our plan for today anyway. Enjoy the day, tidy the flat. :)

Friday 22 May 2015

Cleansing ghosts

Shining Tribe 
They emerge, they emerge,
the dark hidden healers, 
power from secrets,
visions from stones. 

Today's draw from Shining Tribe Tarot (Pollack) is a version of 5 of Pentacles. The artwork is based on drawings from the Horseshoe Canyon, Utah. Pollack writes:

'For many people, this card can signify a powerful healing process. Some may look at it literally and believe that actual Spirits have come to aid them in a crisis. Others may see it more as a psychological openness.' 

It is certainly different from the 5 of Pentacles familiar to us from RWS. In fact, I would say it bears little resemblance in interpretation as well. It does have to do with 'money, health problems, or a time when people must struggle to survive'. Of course you don't get that feeling from looking at this image, as you do when viewing the beggars in the snow outside the stained glass window. As with most cards in this deck, you have to read the companion book to figure out what's going on. That's okay! The book is a great read. 

'Meanings: Finding your own values, making discoveries, recognizing your own power. Changing a situation or the way you live because of inner conviction. Internal healing or spiritual realizations.' 

Here's the art Pollack used as inspiration for this card: 

Pollack says she found the pattern on the central figure's chest on a 'quiet road in Rhinebeck New York', and that the images on the rocks below the figures were found on rocks on the same walk. I assume she saw these patterns in the grooves and shadows and natural formations of the rocks, and not as cave art, as she says, 'Images of power do not have to come from recognized sites. When we train ourselves to look, the whole world - including productions of human work - can show us omens and inspiration.' So maybe it was artwork on a sign advertising a daycare center for all we know. :)

I like the interpretation of 'psychological openness' and 'making discoveries and changing a situation.' Those will do nicely today, thank you.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Ace of Birds

Shining Tribe 
Last night was a bad night. What should I do today?

'The owl looks out at us with an intense stare, symbolic of a commitment to truth. the eyes are purple, the color of wisdom. the image in the lower right-hand corner -- the dark sunrise -- symbolizes the autumn equinox, the solar point beginning the season when the plants seem to die and the birds fly south. Meanings: truth, wisdom, sadness, honesty. Looking into the mysteries of life and death. Intellectual rigor and courage. The soul in its search for meaning.' - Rachel Pollack, Shining Tribe Tarot

I have to be honest with myself, honest about myself, honest about my problem and situation.

I can't keep living on the hope that if someone else changes things will get better. I need to look at this with eyes wider open than that.

But that's just so, so hard.

Wait...the owl has spotted it. The irrational belief that I'm coming up against that has caused me pain: 'People should always do the right thing, and when they don't they should be punished.'

In reality, people do NOT always do the right thing, and it's not up to me to dole out the 'just punishment'. Which is pretty much what happened. I see that now, with those big purple eyes. Can I remember this, and change this behavior? I hope so.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

What are you hanging on to?

Hezicos Tarot 
Today I've got the 4 of Coins, a card that is traditionally associated with being stingy with money. The card can also be seen as worrying too much about and hanging too tightly to anything, particularly as it pertains to the physical/material aspects of life. I've also often read it as pertaining to our time and how we spend it.

How are you worrying over, being too protective of, or being selfish or stingy with your time?

We talk about 'me time' and 'making time for ourselves', but it's also possible to go the other direction and be so protective of our 'time' that we end up not using it for anything at all. Then again, sometimes 'wasting' time comes from paralysis -- what if we spend a lot of time doing something and then we fail? We'll not only have wasted our time, we will have wasted our effort, possibly other resources (like ingredients if it's a new recipe, or doing our knee in if it's a new dance move or type of workout.)

Are you protecting your resources, your body, your time, so zealously that you end up sitting there doing nothing but holding on to what you've got?

Guess what happens to it eventually anyway. Time runs out. The body deteriorates. The milk and eggs spoil. The lotion loses its scent or goes hard in the bottle. The silver tarnishes. The nice clean pages in the blank book go yellow and fall out. All that stuff you were saving up so you wouldn't waste it -- wasted.

What do you need to stop wasting through trying not to waste it? :)

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Trees and rivers

Shining Tribe Tarot

No question, no positions. Just a draw. Quotations from companion book by Rachel Pollack

The Place of Trees - 'The Place of Trees is a state of mind, or even an actual place, where we feel safe and natural, and where knowledge makes us more alive.'

4 of Rivers - 'The card [is] the image of Akiba in paradise. He has cast off his old self and freed his true being so that now he can move peacefully through the glorious wonders of the spiritual world. New beginnings, commitments. Casting off old limitations, admitting past mistakes. The ability to handle difficult situations with balance and peace.'

Knower of Trees - 'Above all this is a card of opening your arms to life. It tells us to embrace the world around us in all its aspects, to hold nothing back. We do not pick and choose what we want to accept in this life, or in a partner, but instead love the winter as well as the summer. Through such acceptance we gain real knowledge of ourselves and others.'

I am reminded again of the three tools of acceptance: Unconditional Self-Acceptance, Unconditional Other-Acceptance, Unconditional Life-Acceptance.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance:
1. I am a fallible human being. I have my good points and I have my bad points.
2. There is no reason why I must not have flaws.
3. Despite my good points and my bad points, I am no more worthy or no less worthy than any other human being.

Unconditional Other-Acceptance:
1. Other people will treat me (or others) unfairly from time to time.
2. There is no reason why they must treat me (or others)  fairly.
3. The people who treat me (or others) unfairly are no more worthy and no less worthy than any other human being.

Unconditional Life-Acceptance:
1. Life doesn't always work out the way I would like it to.
2. There is no reason why life must go the way I want it to.
3. Life is not necessarily pleasant, but it is rarely awful and it is nearly always bearable.

(Source: SMART Recovery training tools from the website

Monday 18 May 2015

Of mopping and ABCs

Housewives Tarot
What is the single most important thing I can do today to improve my feelings about my life, ie, to increase my self-acceptance?

I can make my mind up: am I going to continue to sweep up the dirt, or am I ready to do some deep cleaning? When I make that choice, I will feel more balanced despite the pressures of daily life.

Actually, I am ready to change some of the irrational beliefs that have kept me trapped in certain patterns of behaviour. I am tired of sweeping up after them. I'm ready to get rid of them.

To be honest, this draw reminds me very much of the ABC analysis used in Albert Ellis's REBT therapy. You need to use analytical skills to identify irrational beliefs underlying an emotion, action, behaviour or physical symptom. Then you challenge that irrational belief and replace it with a more effective belief. (A - the activating event, B - beliefs about it, C - consequences of those thoughts about the event, D - dispute the beliefs, E - effective beliefs to replace the irrational beliefs)

I have used these techniques to combat anxiety caused by my tinnitus and dental phobia. I have used them to cope at work during my icky secondment. I even, though not consciously, used some of the techniques in coping with the first shock of what happened at the end of last year in my family situation. But I have never yet applied them to my codependency and perfectionism issues. I only thought of doing this while researching my new program, which is SMART Recovery. Well, I have toyed with it, but I haven't attacked these problems in a serious, methodical way using these techniques. I've just been sweeping up the dirt, trying to make amends to myself and others after the fact, and using recovery techniques that felt to me rather like sweeping things under the rug--or even sweeping them up in a big fat pile that I could then sit and look at while waiting for the Big Broom in the Sky to descend and sweep them up for me. Don't get me wrong -- a whole ot of those techniques have been extremely helpful, I could just never quite settle in to some of it. Not a good fit. For me. Now I would like to make a start on actually mopping the floor. Enough playing in the dust. (I'm keeping the broom, though.) 

Even after I mop up the floor (dispute and replace irrational beliefs consistently and methodically), life is not going to suddenly become peachy keen. It will still be a balancing act, like it always has been. But my redefined beliefs about it will help keep emotional collapse at bay while I'm balancing plates and being tugged in different directions.

Sunday 17 May 2015


After my very positive draw yesterday, I had quite a bad day emotionally. Sharing this new program with a loved one was followed by words and tears. Where did it go wrong? What could I have done differently? How should I change the way I approach or handle things next time? 

Morgan Greer 

Looking at this spread, a theme certainly emerges. In two of the cards, I see cooperation. And in one card, a warning against its opposite. 

Funnily enough, I have been reading as part of this new program this morning, reading about three key concepts of the program:

Unconditional Self-Acceptance
Unconditional Other-Acceptance
Unconditional Life-Acceptance

The key word in each is 'acceptance'. Acceptance is not love. Acceptance is not approval. Acceptance is allowing something to exist, just as it is. If I can allow something (or someone -- and that includes myself) permission to exist just as it is, I can work with it. But if I don't, I can't. I end up fighting myself, fighting the universe, fighting the wind. Simple as that. 

In the first card, 2 of Wands, we see the familiar figure holding the globe or royal orb and looking into the distance. We have the rose and lily (passion and purity). We have the two staves. The chap even has a feather in his cap. We usually interpret this card to represent a visionary with vast and expansive ideas, achieving a balance between stillness and activity, etc. But today I notice something in this card that is absent from many other depictions. The man holds the globe in one hand, a staff in the other, and the second staff is held by another person -- a third hand is in the image. The man is NOT staring out into the distance. He would appear to be staring into the eyes of the figure outside the image, the one who is holding the second staff. Or perhaps they are standing side-by-side, observing the horizon together. Together, not separately.

And in the second card, we do not see a family exulting at the view of their little house with a rainbow overarching the scene. No, the card is dominated by a male arm and a female arm entwined to grasp the 10th cup together, and out of this unity the rainbow arises.

And this is where the concept of unconditional acceptance converges. The Emperor, who could be said to embody the opposite of self, other and life acceptance. He does not accept. He demands, he creates laws, he enforces them, he controls. He takes vengeance. He rules.

The Emperor has got to go. I'm as fond of him as I am of the Queen of Swords, but both of them have served their purpose. Time for a new way.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance - 

I accept myself because I'm alive and have the capacity to enjoy my existence. I am not my behavior. I can rate my traits and my behavior, but it is impossible to rate something as complex as my 'self.' My self consists of innumerable traits, not just this one. I strive for achievement only to enhance the enjoyment of my existence, not to prove my worth. Failing at any task cannot make me a failure.
I can choose to accept myself even if am unwilling or unable to change my 'character defects' because there is no law of the universe that says I can't. My approval of myself cannot come from pandering to any external source or bowing to any external authority. My self-acceptance can only come from me, and I am free to choose it at any time.  Nick Rajacic

Unconditional Other-Acceptance -

Similar to USA, UOA is the processes of acknowledging who an individual is without placing a weighted, global judgment upon them. Personally, I believe this concept requires more effort than USA. After all, people must be considerate, right? Unfortunately, no. I do not control the universe and if you haven’t noticed, other New Yorkers are not eager to follow another individual’s personal guidelines. Ok, so maybe “must” is too strong of a word. How about others should be considerate? Wrong again. Where is it written that someone should behave one way or another? Some would say the law; however, people break the law all the time. It would be nice if others were considerate, but it does not mean they must or should be.

Unconditional Life-Acceptance -

Ultimately, you may have some control as to how things pan out in life; however, you will be more at peace once you give up the belief that you must have total control of the universe and insist that things should be a certain way. If you are able to change your thoughts about an event, you can change your world. Although this cannot guarantee pain and suffering vanish, it might just be more bearable.

The Emperor is not very good at practising USA, UOA, and ULA. So he can sod off. Ha! 

Saturday 16 May 2015

A new program

The Golden Tarot - Visconti-Sforza Deck, Packard 2013 
Question: Tell me about the new program I've begun to explore.

This new program looks very positive indeed. The time of my embarking on it coincides with (or this new program ushers in) the start of a period of smooth sailing, a stable state of mind, overcoming of adversity. I've already done a lot of work, come far. This new program carries me further still toward new horizons.

This program fosters improved interpersonal relations, emotional expansiveness. It will help build ability to make the other person feel validated and heard.

And finally, this program will help shed some much needed light on things that have been hidden from consciousness, in the murky depths of the unconscious.

Can any program live up to such promises? Possibly. It is certainly worth a good hard look and a fair go.

Friday 15 May 2015

A Celtic Cross reading

Tarot de St Croix 

I finally decided to do a reading today. It's been months. I've had decks out and handled them, shuffled them, looked at them, but I haven't read them. Today I decided, on impulse, to do a Celtic Cross about my life situation right now.

This is what covers me: Queen of Pentacles
This is what crosses me: High Priestess
What lies above me: Ten of Cups
What lies beneath me: The Star
What lies before me: Seven of Swords
What lies behind me: Queen of Swords
And this is me: Nine of Swords
This is my environment: The Fool
This is my hopes/fears: The Chariot
The outcome: Four of Swords

This reading shows me that I am struggling now to find balance between carnal matters and higher matters. High Priestess covering Queen of Pentacles says to me that I would do well to break out of my established pattern of daily concerns and get more into the mystery. Whatever that may mean for me now.

My highest aspiration is pure old celebratory joy, some laughing for a change, and I have the foundation of The Star, which is the card of my astrological sign, and suggests that there's no reason for doubt. Joy is within my reach.

The figure in the Seven of Swords is a trickster, wearing the same stripey outfit as seen in The Fool card in this deck (Tarot de St Croix). This is what lies before me. In my immediate future, I should look out for a trickster...which is most likely my own thinking. This is after all the Swords suit. And goodness knows my thinking has been doing my head in for quite a while.

What lies behind me? The Queen of Swords. She's a cast iron bitch and has served me well. But if I don't ditch aspects of her, I am not going to get better. Or at least, I won't get better as fast I might without her input. She's a warrior and she's this deck, she's Athena. But I need a lot less of her hissing in my ear to go for the kill.

So where does this leave me? Wrestling with illusions and shadows. The Nine of Swords card in Tarot de St Croix shows a woman lying awake staring at swords on her wall -- but the companion book points out that these, her worries and fears, are not real, but just reflections from the blinds at the window, and the butterfly is there to signify transformation. 'Let go or be dragged,' as the meme says. (Is it a Zen proverb? Who knows!) I can stop dragging my own heart around. I can also find that eye mask and see if I can manage more than 5 hours' sleep per night. It could happen.

I am surrounded, apparently, by The Fool, the beginning and the end. I have no idea what the outcome of my current situation will be. This is the second card in this draw to emphasize that 'our fears are fantasies'. We read that statement and wonder what the hell it means. How can our fears be fantasies? Bad things happen! Yeah, they do, but...we survive 99.9% of them. We don't die, we move on. So there was really no point in being afraid. It was wasted energy. I am seeing that more and more. That doesn't mean I don't fear. I just see it a bit more clearly.

My hope is, as the Chariot indicates, that I am well on my way to achieving my ambition. My fear is that I am well on my way, but ... to what outcome? The unknown. But really, is there ever an outcome? There's no ending to our stories, until we get to the end. Ever think of that? And that, too, can be a hope and a fear.

The 'Outcome' card in this spread is Four of Swords. The woman in this card is 'shielded from piercing thoughts.' And so, may I be shielded from, learn to deflect, the dysfunctional thinking that so often plagues the mind. This card and the High Priestess, together with the relegation of the Queen of Swords to the past, certainly point the way to this 'outcome'.