Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Faery World/ Ancestor World Connections

Because seemingly all cultures have recognized and maintained ritual relationships with different types of faeries for the better part of human history, a large number of our ancestors have interacted with faeries as individual personalities and as collective entities. With this knowledge, we can reactivate beneficial relationships with the faeries that our ancestors knew, and come to a psychological understanding of challenging relationships that may in some way act as family curses, (i.e. to acknowledge and then make peace with them).

For August 2nd's magical chat session, each person posed the request, "Please show me a Faery World influence that has been associated with my family ancestors," and then selected one image from the "Fairy Circle" Oracle by Mason and Franklin, and one from the Froud "Faeries Oracle." I use these decks because they depict actual faery entities--some from traditional culture, and some "revealed." (There are Tarot decks and others that use faeries in their illustrations, but I'm not aware of any others that present faeries as personalities you can engage with.) So, what are some ways that ancestors might have experienced some of these faery energies, and how can these past associations be of interest to us, today? I don't have time to elaborate on all of them, but here are a few of the categories that came up:

One way that people encounter faeries is as Nature spirits, some of which can be expressions, manifestations, and voices of the Intelligence of Nature herself. So, considering some of the cards that came out of the Fairy Circle deck, the appearance of "The Sea Mither" may indicate ancestors who made their living by the sea, or other coastal peoples who relied on the sea's abundance, while the "Woodwose," the sort of wild man phased into green man may indicate a connection with the deep woods or wilderness areas, and suggests a hermit-like escape to such places. Knowing that some ancestor relished such Nature World connections isn't necessary for cultivating a sense of kinship with Nature, but when enjoying a day in the woods or by the seaside, it enables you to spiritually reach across time to a kindred spirit mentor who can help open your intuition to special insights and messages from Nature. Two of the Froud images were "The Bright Mother" and "The Lady of the Harvest." These illustrate how the Faery World's intimate association with the Natural World's fertility and abundance is linked to Mother Goddess figures. I have recently been trying to learn more about how Goddesses are associated with the cult of the nymphs which exists still today among the Greeks and South Slavs, (Blum and Blum's book, "The Dangerous Hour," is a good contemporary source), but the relationship between goddesses and faeries is pan-European, and is one of the most ancient and deeply rooted forms of Nature religion. Knowing that your ancestors participated, (as all of our ancestors have done), helps us feel more welcomed into the Faery/Nature Mother's celebration of a world that is intensely alive.

Another way that humans have accessed faeries and fairy realms is through the portals of the mind, including through dreams and artistic inspiration. If certain faeries communicated with certain of your ancestors through dreams, creative work, or reveries, there's the potential for you to pick up their threads of inspiration and enchantment through your own dreams, creativity, or other imaginative exercises. I believe that two of our participants got "Laiste, Moon's Daughter," who is a guide to the imaginative realms. As Jessica Macbeth says in the Froud manual, "Laiste reaches into our deepest minds, opening long shut doors ...," and "she speaks to us in the language of symbols," so one is advised to pay attention to the symbols that pop up in dreams, as well as in the things of daily life. In relation to our topic, Laiste might put symbolic images in your path that connect you with the musings of past family visionaries. Another one chose "Penelope Dreamweaver" who "weaves tapestries in the mind with threads of light, color, and sound." It may be that Penelope will help you connect with the creative gifts of some ancestor that she also inspired.

When we look at traditional faery types, we often find them associated with arts and crafts, partly because faeries delight in the creation of beauty, but also, I think, because the often rhythmic motions involved in craftwork can put us into a meditative trance where we then become more receptive to faery inspiration. A "Fairy Ring" card that came up was Wayland Smith, the shaman-craftsman, which may well denote Faery World-Ancestor World connections that can be achieved through immersion in craftwork or other absorbing work.

One category that didn't come up was domestic faeries, (such as brownies), but this is an important category, because there is a long tradition of domestic faeries that attach themselves to generations of households and families, and connecting with them can help you find greater pleasure in what we call entropic work, (i.e. housework, yardwork, etc. that is never done), making such work a meditative exercise.

That leaves the category of more challenging faeries, some of which included the Kelpie and the Garconer (Glanconner), who are beings that can lead people into danger, and the Boggart, who may indicate disruptive forces in your home life. With those kinds of entities, one might want to think about different types of problems that get passed down through families, and whether it seems like some mischievious forces are trying to suck you in, whether it's following dangerous illusions or resurrecting old fears or arguments. However, when you can put a face on a problem, (even a face on a faery card), that can help you objectify it in a way that makes it more manageable. You can also do the Buddhist thing of taming chaotic energies by reciting the Lovingkindness blessing: "May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, ... May all beings find happiness!"

Saturday, August 15, 2009


... picking up on the subject of tracing ancestral influences in Tarot cards and Oracle cards: On August 2nd, members of the crowd at the Triple Goddess used a variety of Tarot and other decks to pose the request, "Please show me a decisive moment from my ancestors' lives." We were not specifying any particular ancestors, (though those who were using Joules Taylor's "Celtic Messages" Oracle and a "Druids' Tarot" [I don't know which one] were assuming general Celtic ancestors), but rather letting the cards decide which meaningful glimpses of ancestral energies and activities to show us at this time, on this day. Naturally, our numerous lines of ancestors experienced numerous decisive events in their long and varied histories, but here we were leaving it to the cards to show us one special experience that went into the making of who we are, and that would give us something inspiring for whatever challenges we're meeting today. Two of our participants were sisters, so although they drew different cards, each could also take meaning from the other's reading.

When scrutinizing a card spread for clues about ancestors, there are a number of things to consider. For example, readings that show group scenes may portray a clan or tribe, while strong personality cards may portray particularly influential individuals. For example, two different persons drew the Boudica card (depicting the warrior queen of the Iceni portrayed in "Celtic Messages"). In the context of these readings, it probably pointed to some very strong matriarch, who may well have been Boudica herself. In the way that the cards speak to multiple concerns, this may also be a call for these women to take on leadership roles. The cards can also reveal things about ancestral occupations, (with an implication that we can reactivate the related ancestral skills), so the person whose central card was the Magician likely was looking at a magician ancestor, while the person who got "Taliesin" likely had a bardic ancestor whose poetic inspirations she can tap into.

Some other things to look for are potential heraldic or totemic images. Our ancestors took these symbols very seriously, and we can find inspiration in them today. One person, who used Ciro Marchetti's "Legacy of the Divine" Tarot got the Knight of Wands as one of her cards. Now that I've had time to scrutinize that card, I see it has mirrored images of red dragons. As the red dragon is best known as the emblem of Wales, this may point to Welsh ancestry, (though others could have this as their totem, the red dragon also being a symbol of the Rhineland, and probably of other localities and families, as the dragon is a common heraldic symbol). By the way, we all have ancestors from more countries than we are aware of, as modern DNA testing services have been revealing. My memory has faded, but I think that one of the sisters pulled "the owl" and the other pulled "the dove," (again, from "Celtic Messages"), so both of them would have those totems in their family background, but for one, there may be currently more of a need for the owl's qualities of discretion, while for the other, the dove's love-bringing gifts may be more immanent.

Generally, any of the symbols that we pull out of these readings can be incorporated into our lives as a means of empowerment. Also, if a reading has a negative cast, you can send healing energy to your ancestors, as well as present family members, by turning it into a Tarot spell. Alter your family's collective dream of reality by adding some positive cards to the layout, then visualize these new energies transforming your family's belief system. For example, one individual, using the "Legacy" Tarot, got the "8 of Wands," the "9 of Swords," and the "Hermit," (if my notes from memory serve me correctly). This could indicate that an ancestor, beset by worries, became a wanderer in search of solutions, and this may have become something of a family trait. If she wants to reshape some of these energies, she could turn this into a Tarot spell by placing the "9 of Wands" on top of the "9 of Swords." By transforming Swords to Wands, we turn problems into projects. With the Legacy deck, this creates a very interesting graphic juxtaposition, because the man in the "9 of Wands" is holding a glowing crystal-tipped wand up to the right border of the picture space, while the Hermit holds a glowing crystal-tipped want to the left border. The two wands almost touch, suggesting the passing of a torch. Also, the progression from the "8 of Wands" to the "9 of Wands" shows a build-up of energies, and as the Hermit's number is "9," the mystical potentials within the number 9 are all the more highlighted.

For those of you who have been able to attend these sessions, if you can reproduce your readings at home, you can pull a lot more imagery out of them. It's helpful if you have the same deck you tried out at the shop, but it's also very edifying to reproduce your readings using different decks, to see what additional images pop out.

By the way, I apologize for taking so long to comment on the past session. I am only able to write on alternate weekends, because my other weekends are entirely given over to caring for my father.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Faery Challenges

On Sunday we pondered ways the Tarot can tell us about ancestral issues that can affect us today, and we also drew cards from the Froud "Faeries Oracle" and Mason and Franklin's "Fairy Ring," to consider our ancestral relations with the Faery World. Because cultures the world over have interacted with the Faery Folk, it is unavoidable that a number of your ancestors will have had special relationships with them. In drawing the cards, some people pulled cards with glamorous faeries, and others got scary or trickster faeries. It is to be expected that some of the faeries your ancestors dealt with were trouble makers, and they may have represented challenges that your family deals with still today. Throughout the year, I demonstrate various other techniques using the faery cards, so inevitably a certain number of our visitors get the unglamourous ones. When I can find more time to write, I want to post some thoughts on interactions with the different faeries we have encountered through these card decks.

For now however, in considering how we should approach the scary faeries, I'd like to share some words from Rainer Maria Rilke. The following is from his essay, "The Dragon Princess," published in "Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties," edited by John J.L. Mood.

"We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us."