This is just a quick reminder that I will be at The Triple Goddess this Sunday, November 7,(from 1 to 3 p.m.), for my final magical chat of the year. I am planning to demonstrate tarot magic techniques for health and well being. These include moving the cards' archetypal energies through your personal energy field (for a feng-shui type renewal), plus using tarot cards in a holographic technique for repairing inner archetypes.
My last chat session/work shop of the year will be on November 7th. I am still thinking about what I ought to plan, but one likely activity is the “Tarot Cards’ Parade,” which we have done in previous years. This is a parade where you don’t have to get out of your seat, because it involves passing certain cards around the circle in a way that moves their chi through our energy fields. (I believe I discuss some of this in past posts on “the feng shui of Halloween,” though you may have to dig for those, because I don’t think I’ve put tags in my older posts.)
While recently reading a book about healing rituals among the south Slavs, I learned of a healing technique that utilizes the energies of a mass of people in procession. In Slavic culture, there are a number of traditional occasions for making processions through a neighborhood or community. Some of these are masked carnival processions, while others are more serious religious or special purpose processions that do not involve masking. On these occasions, sick people will come out and lie down in the path so that the people in the procession will step over them. So here we have a folkloric example of taking advantage of the stream of chi that a procession generates. My tarot cards parade is similarly designed to move beneficial chi through the body and spirit.
I’m also thinking about a magical working that involves the holographic effect of multiple persons directing the energies of specific tarot cards (i.e., the same cards, but from multiple decks), at each person in turn, to help individuals more fully manifest special qualities in their lives. If you are planning to come, you might think about whether there is a special card whose energies you would like everyone to concentrate on, to bring them into your life. The idea behind this is to holographically refresh different archetypes within us, and this engages the tarot itself as an archetype of wholeness.
I will continue to think about additional activities for November, including bringing back the Faery Friends. In the meantime, I have been participating in a discussion forum at “Complete Life Healing,” (see the link in the left-hand column). Some of the ongoing discussion involves the intelligence of the body, (such as body memory, ensoulment, power of the spoken word, etc.), challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome, Tarot and divination, and getting into writing. Feel free to look in on and participate in any discussion threads that interest you.
I love the tingly feeling I get whenever some sort of synchronicity makes itself evident, and I can see that many others feel the same, because when having our tarot sessions, or spiritual discussions, or other types of discussions, some striking synchronicities will often come up while we’re “comparing notes.” In the presence of these meaningful coincidences, I’m so much in awe that I want to acknowledge it, but generally, the best I’ve been able to muster is some expression like, “Far out!,” or “How about that?” However, as a result of my current reading in “Healing Dramas” by Raquel Romberg [see previous post], I’ve become aware of the importance of acknowledging synchronicities in the Puerto Rican spiritist and magical systems.
The terms used in Puerto Rico are “comprobaciones” or “confirmaciones,” because they confirm the manifestation of messages and other assistance from the spirit world, “which always produces an excited reaction in brujos, sometimes marked by their banging on the table followed by Aché [So be it, Power, or Amen],” [p. 119]. Romberg noted that they sometimes also ring a bell when they become aware of another synchronicity, or some other message from Spirit.
For the brujas espiritistas Romberg worked with, (as with us), confirmaciones could involve simple, every day things--for example, when learning that a particular herb is needed for a magic working, and it happens that a gardener friend has just offered you some of this herb. Romberg learned that, “Manifestaciones and comprobaciones can happen at any time … for they express a basic objectifying principle of a ‘so be it,’ or a potential energy that might burst—as a capricious genie might—as a result of any word and thought we utter, any image and gesture we enact, and any object we manipulate,” [p. 121].
We can see that confirming the spirits enhances the flow of communication and generates more synchronicities and other manifestations. After all, when a person acknowledges you and shows an interest when you’re speaking, you’re probably more likely to say more than you would to someone who is inattentive. Confirming synchronicities also enables us to become more receptive, because it helps to maintain that state of “hopeful expectancy” which keeps the channels open.
Next Sunday, the Third of October, will be my next magical chat at The Triple Goddess in Okemos. We will be focusing on court cards, so some of the reading techniques I will demonstrate include, “The Royal Court in Residence,” “Knight’s Quest” (i.e. “Pentacle Quest”), and the Medieval Castle version of the Dollhouse Oracle. Because I have only one castle, I’ll have to demonstrate for one person at a time. However, while you are waiting, everybody is free to look on and contribute their own insights, or just amuse themselves by browsing around the Triple Goddess. It is especially fun to use the various King Arthur themed tarot decks for doing readings with the castle.
Because of my interest in medical anthropology, I am currently reading the book, “Healing Dramas: Divination and Magic in Modern Puerto Rico,” by Raquel Romberg, and I’ve been thinking about how some of her observations can be utilized in the divination and magic that we do. Romberg did her field work among a number of individuals who practiced an eclectic mix of Espiritismo (Spiritism), Santeria (which draws from African religions), and brujeria (folk magic); they call upon saints, orishas (African deities), and other types of spirit guides for divination, trabajos (magic working), and healing.
Among other things, Romberg explores issues around body memory and embodiment as they apply to ritual and spirituality. The Puerto Rican healers believe that aspects of your self presentation, such as the types and colors of clothes you wear, as well as other expressions of your personal style tend not only to reflect your own personality, but those of your “protecciones,” your guardian spirits. I interpret that as meaning that we tend to have an intuitive sense of alignment with those protecciones, and that’s why we favor certain looks. However, you can get out of sync with the spirit powers that “rule your head,” as when you try to dress in conformity with the customs of some social group or institution. If you feel that you’re not in harmony with your spiritual forces, consider whether your manner of dress is the best expression of who you are. Colors are especially emphasized in the African derived systems, and seem to be common knowledge and a regular topic of conversation in countries where Santeria, Candomble, Umbanda, Voudon, and similar systems have a larger cultural influence. (I’ve encountered this in other authors’ works, too.) Also, when you want to align yourself with certain orishas or spirit powers to gain specific benefits, you can surround yourself with their colors and other symbolism. There is a lot more to the concept of embodiment than I can get into here, but people who relate to different spirit powers will find those qualities and personalities also being expressed through their body language, physical bearing, tone of voice, reflex reactions, and other somatic signatures.
A number of tarot practitioners will also try to attune to the qualities of a card’s archetype, mostly through choice of color, (though this will vary with different decks), but also through movement and other physical expressions. This can be done as a way of getting to know more about a card’s meanings, but it is also something you can do when you have done a reading for advice, and a certain card personality comes up in relation to a potential course of action. (My book Tarot: Your Everyday Guide is all about advice readings.)
Astrologers also suggest the use of color and other modes of personal expression for aligning with planets. A good source is Barbara Schermer’s “Astrology Alive: Experiential Astrology, Astrodrama, and the Healing Arts,” where she suggests role playing activities, including how to “walk” with the bearing of different planetary types.
While we are working with the court cards next Sunday—or whenever a court card comes up for you—it will be interesting to consider whether those cards’ personalities have been revealing themselves in your physical presentation. Also, if you haven’t read my article “The Hats We Wear in Tarot,” (see my Articles links), the different sorts of headgear featured in the cards’ illustrations adds another level of interpretation that is quite revealing.
In my previous post, I described how to do the Fairytale Village reading, so now I’ll try to offer a few insights on interpreting fairytale themed tarot cards in this context. Actually, this exercise does not need to be done with fairy tale cards, as ordinary tarot cards will do. However, by matching fairytale cards with fairytale places, we can see how our different life stories—as we are all living out multiple narratives—may be harmonious, or may be colliding.
I also want to mention that when I’m interpreting peoples’ cards at my chat session/workshops—or wherever—I’m just giving them some potential interpretations based on whatever pops into my mind at that moment, but those are by no means all of the possible interpretations for those cards, or even the most relevant interpretations for the individuals in question. Because I’m dealing with a high level of distraction due to trying to attend to all the group, (and as an Asperger’s person, I have a lot of mental noise, anyway), I often overlook the obvious, or don’t think of other things that would be good to mention. So, whatever interpretation I give you, that’s just something to use as a jumping off point, to help you start pondering some of the different meanings that could apply. Likewise, the interpretations that I discuss in these blog posts are just meant to be food for thought, but by no means conclusive. As always, you have to think about how a card’s different traditional interpretations and visual cues, as well as the emotions the cards evoke in you, can apply to your own life situation.
So, to get on with a sample interpretation. If I recall correctly, one person got “The Empress” from the Mahoney deck, which uses Cinderella as its illustration, in association with the Gingerbread House. The dominant figure in this card is the fairy godmother, (though Cinderella is also present), so this deck emphasizes the Empress’ abilities to help make dreams come true. I don’t remember exactly how I interpreted this card, but I think our discussion touched on the querent’s managerial job, and images of strong women leaders. As a general interpretation, one could look at whether this querent has some high expectations of the leadership role she would like to model, perhaps using her position to help other people fulfill their potential. This is a good thing—don’t get me wrong—but one then has to consider what this means in terms of the temptation and potential danger that the Gingerbread House stands for. Among other things, it could mean that you are being tempted to overextend yourself in trying to help others, or to make more promises than you can keep. This could also apply to promises you make to yourself—or to your Inner Child, as the Inner Child has to be considered in these fairy tale readings. Note that the combination of story imagery here also gets into a lot of Mother issues: your mother, your mothering techniques, your internalized mother, other mother figures in your life, etc. An alternative interpretation might focus on the “idea” of “the Cinderella story,” which is the hope that some big, lucky break will transform your way of life, and having that distract you from more practical goals.
Because a playset invites us to be playful, one can also think of approaching these things with a playfully proactive magical mindset. So, you could say, “OK, this is my gingerbread house, I’m taking ownership of this gingerbread house, so I’ll make the rules and assert my Empress powers productively. So, I’ll let you have just enough of a taste of the sweets to revive you if you’re feeling low, but I won’t let you go into sugar shock.” And if you are going to take charge of the gingerbread house, you can also take charge of the stove that is at the heart of the house as your special challenge. One thus transforms this from a story about temptation to a story about nourishment.
The stove is a traditional symbol of transformation, and Cinderella is also a story about transformation. In her book, “The Mother: Archetypal Image in Fairy Tales, Sibylle Birkhauser-Oeri mentions that “in Silesia, the flames licking out of the oven door are called the fire mother” . The witch in “Hansel and Gretel” is an evil fire mother, but there are many positive expressions of this archetype. In the fairy tale “Frau Holle,” the oven serves as one of the vehicles of initiation which test the heroine and prove her worth. Oeri notes that, “The property of fires or stoves to give spiritual rebirth is founded on a psychological fact: if a person draws near to some inner passion, it causes a lowering in the level of consciousness and thus facilitates contact with the unconscious. In a powerful emotional state a transformation can take place, which always seemed like a rebirth or liberation.” She illustrates this with the Austrian tale, “The Young Wolf,” in which a girl, “in conjunction with various strange rituals,” throws the young wolf into the fire in the stove to transform him into a handsome young man. “He is exposed to the fire of passion by the anima and changed by it” . (The anima is the idealized feminine soul-self, or a man’s inner feminine self.)
Well, that shows how when we combine these fairy tale themes and images, one train of thought leads to another. Now, not only are we considering the interaction between “Cinderella” and “Hansel and Gretel,” but we have “Frau Holle” and “The Young Wolf” as subtexts. This also goes to show that a cheesy cardboard playset can be a tool in making deeper psychological associations.
Last Sunday, (the Sunday of Labor Day weekend), our magical chat session focused on fairy-tale themed tarot decks. Because I have a fairy-tale themed pop-up playset with seven pop-up structures, one of our activities is “a walk through Fairy Tale Village,” where you can draw seven cards, prop them up by the different pop-up structures, and then derive meanings according to their associations. The pop-up playset, which was created by the design team of Michael Welply, Jim Deesing, and Laszlo Batki, is something I found online after doing keyword searches for pop-up playsets. However, as this playset may be hard to find, this exercise could be done without the playset, as a seven card spread.
For those who were unable to join us, here is the basic technique: shuffle and cut your cards while saying something like, “Please show me some stories that are playing out in my life.” Then place the first card in front of “Grandma’s House.” Grandma’s House represents a place where you can feel secure and go for comfort, though depending on the card you draw, it may be a safe place or it may be hiding some danger, (as in the “Little Red Riding Hood” story, this is the place where the wolf lies in wait).
Note that when, in this exercise, I use the word “place,” this could be an actual physical location, but more likely it is a metaphorical place, such as an idea, frame of mind, or life situation.
The next card goes in front of the Three Bears’ House. This could be a place where your Inner Child is trespassing, or simply a place where you don’t belong, because you’re not among “your own kind.” The term “your own kind,” could refer to people that you feel “at home” with, or a community that is supportive of your growth needs.
The third card is the Gingerbread House. This could be a place of temptation, (with your card offering visual cues as to whether you are the tempter or the tempted), or it could be a place of challenge where you overcome limitations, as in the story of Hansel and Gretel, Gretel uses her wits and quick thinking to save the day.
Next we arrive at the three piggys’ homes. Card number 4 is the Piggy’s Straw House, some area or your life where you have not built a stable structure. Card 5 is the Piggy’s Stick House, where you have built a somewhat more stable structure. This place may be OK for a temporary stop-over, but not secure enough for you to spend the rest of your life. Card 6 is the Piggy’s Brick House, a place where you have done a good job and can enjoy greater security.
For the last stop, we go to the center of the village, which is the Wishing Well. This represents some of your wishes or fantasies for the future.
By the way, as additional level of interpretation, you could toss a die, and the number that comes up (from 1 to 6) could denote the Fairy Tale Village structure where your attention or energies are most focused at present.
First, a reminder that this upcoming Sunday, September 5th, I will be at the Triple Goddess demonstrating tarot techniques with four different fairy tale decks. Even though it’s Labor Day weekend, people still like to come by, so I will be there too. Second, in my past few entries about the fairy tale decks, I forgot to mention that the artist for the Inner Child deck is Christopher Guilfoil, and for the “Fairytale” deck, Alexandr Ukolov is the illustrator, but the artwork is done by Irena Triskova. (I’m afraid I’m not clear on the distinction there.)
A little while ago, I brought up the topic of the Inner Child in relation to these decks. The Inner Child was a particularly hot topic in, if I recall, the 80s, but now one doesn’t hear about it quite so much. Does the fact that the Inner Child is not so much a part of public discourse mean that we’ve all settled into better relationships with our inner children, or is it that we—at least as a society--have had to shove the Child aside in the need to focus on material survival issues? Or perhaps I have a distorted view on this, as here in Michigan, we’ve been in recession for a lot longer than the rest of the world?
Engaging the Inner Child can be your key to reviving a sense of wonder and delight, yet back when this was a prevailing topic, much of the discourse around the Child was negative in tone, because it focused on aspects of the Child that had been abused or neglected, or aspects of the Child that manifest as complexes. A complex is a condition where one of your subpersonalities takes control, so you behave differently and may start doing and saying things that lead to embarrassment and regret. In this respect, when the Child grabs control, it can be compared to the negative aspects of animal transformation, as discussed earlier, because both are forms of regression to a primitive state which involves a surrender of conscious guidance. It seems that one of the easiest ways to identify the Inner Child within yourself is to think about psychological issues that stir up a lot of old hurt and anger, frustration and deprivation. This can lead us into negative feedback loops if we dwell on it. At the same time, however, the Child can bring revitalization by leading us to forgotten sources of wonder and pleasure. For example, if, as a youngster, your family stifled your curiosity about nature because they didn’t want you to go outside and hurt yourself or get dirty, you could get involved in some naturalist activities as a way of reawakening your curiosity.
Where there is curiosity, there is vitality. Another great thing about curiosity is even when you are locked into a life situation where you can’t bring about any immediate changes, you can still indulge your curiosity. … And while we’re on this topic … this is another opportunity for me to tout the tarot as something to keep curiosity alive. You can always ask the cards questions like, “What is the next bit of good news that I have to look forward to?” or “What is my next lucky break?” A question like, “Who is the next luck-bringing person that I will encounter?” opens a state of hopeful expectancy that connects you with your larger human society, because then, with each person that you encounter, you’ll be wondering, “Is this the person?” “Is that the person?” In her book, “The Tao of Psychology: Synchronicity and the Self,” Jean Shinoda Bolen points out that when a person is in a state of hopeful expectancy, helpful synchronicities are apt to occur, and she notes that this is the state of mind that typifies heroes and heroines in fairy tales. It is what Jung called “the archetype of the miracle,” or the archetype of “magic effect” [Bolen 81,80].
Looking through my four fairy-tale themed decks and picking out cards that can be seen to represent supernatural helpers, I find that in addition to such like genies and fairy godmothers, there are a good number of animal helpers. The animals fall into various categories, including ordinary animals who are helpful in some way, extraordinary animals (like Puss in Boots), and animals who are magical in some way or magical by nature. A few of the cards in Hunt’s deck feature animals who are elevated in terms of being god-like or especially powerful beings, (such as in her Magician, based on the Chinese story, “The Thunder Dragon”). I don’t count certain stories, such as the Golden Goose, where the animal is treated as an object rather than an actor. Remembering that my last post was about the Inner Child’s experience in the fairy tale world, it appears that in a majority of the stories, it is not a child but a young adult who interacts with the marvelous animals. However, I think there is something about the animal world that engages the inner child’s sense of wonder.
One way to look at animals in fairy tales is from the psychoanalytic view, where the symbolism is similar to what you might encounter in dreams. In dreams, as with the tarot, animals can represent the instinctive nature. When our instincts are expressed in a positive way, we are more intuitive, discerning about our personal needs, and better able to sense danger. We see this in the Fool card, where the Fool’s little dog is barking to prevent him from stepping off a cliff. However, the negative expression of the animal nature is when we are ruled by our appetites—a condition which is underscored in versions of the Devil card, where two chained human figures sport horns and tails. If you got a card illustrating a tale where a person is turned into an animal against his or her will, that could be a warning that you are getting into a situation where you are losing your grip, much like being spellbound. As Sibylle Birkhauser-Oeri points out in “The Mother: Archetypal Image in Fairy Tales,” “the phenomena of magic spells are caused by autonomous contents of the unconscious taking possession of the person” . On the other hand, tales where a person willfully shape-shifts into some type of animal, or accepts help from certain types of animals, can point to the ability to connect with certain instincts or animal qualities and use them to advantage. In all of these cases, the type of animal encountered or transformed into would be symbolically significant.
Cards illustrating animal transformations and animal helpers are most abundantly featured in the Lisa Hunt “Fairy Tale” deck, and Hunt is already well known for her “Shapeshifter Tarot.” (This deck is also similar to the Shapeshifter in that faces can be seen in some rocks and trees, suggesting the vivacious intelligence of the natural world.) I’m still familiarizing myself with these cards, because I don’t recognize all of the stories that are illustrated, but in the Hunt deck, I count a dozen cards that portray animal transformation, and a dozen that portray magical or other helper animals, though one of these also involves transformation. (One, “the Golden-headed Fish,” involves the transformation of a fish into a person in order to be helpful). The Mahony-Ukolov “Fairytale Tarot” has about ten cards with helping animals, and about ten cards where the story involves animal transformation. Of course, these different decks also have cards that feature animals in other roles such as “the Three Pigs” or “Country Mouse, City Mouse,” where the animals are characters, but not magical or helpers.
Whether with animal helpers or transformation into animals, one can’t help but wonder if some of these tales are echoes of old totemic relationships, or other types of guardian spirit relationships. When these images come up for you in a tarot reading, it certainly encourages you to explore these animal powers in relation to your inner and outer worlds.
I’m in the process of experimenting with some theme decks based on fairy tales, trying to come up with new tarot activities and techniques for the first Sunday in September, when we will look into some of the major archetypes that are met with in fairy tales, including the Inner Child, the Supernatural Helper, and also archetypes of skill and resourcefulness. Whenever I conclude one of my magical chat sessions, I immediately start worrying about what to do for the next one. So, for the next month, my mind is scanning, scanning, scanning/churning, churning, churning, until I come up with a workable agenda—which is usually not, however, until the day before.
The decks which I am playing around with are Lisa Hunt’s “The Fairy Tale Tarot,” Isha and Mark Lerner’s “Inner Child” cards, and “The Whimsical Tarot” by Mary Hanson Roberts. I have also just ordered another “Fairytale Tarot” deck by Karen Mahony and Alexandr Ukolov, so I won’t be able to comment on that one until it arrives. Hunt’s “Fairy Tale” tarot and the Mahony-Ukolov deck use illustrations from tales and legends for all of their cards, while the “Inner Child” and “Whimsical” decks use them for the Major Arcana and some, but not all, of the Minor Arcana. I also have a pop-up playset, called “Fairy Tale Village,” (by the design team of Welply, Deesing, and Batki), so I’m thinking about some interactive things to do with the cards and pop-ups. (In my article on the Dollhouse Oracle, [see my links to articles], I discuss potential ways that cards can be used with play-sets.)
So, I’ve been thinking first about the Inner Child, because so many stories center on the child, (in keeping with the child ego state which sees itself as the center of the universe). Although the term “inner child” gets tossed around a lot, there are a number of child-personalities within us, many of which are also illustrated in these various fairy tale decks. I can’t begin to enumerate all of the Inner Child personalities that can be active in us at different times, or that we encounter in the world’s myths and legends, but looking over the three decks in my possession, a notable type that emerges is that of the Child Adventurer, which overlaps with the Questing Child. This, of course, ties in with the Fool archetype, and also engages the idea of the tarot itself as outlining an adventure or quest as one engages the lessons of the cards.
An example of the child adventurer/questor is Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” portrayed by the “Inner Child” deck as the Seeker of Wands, and by the “Whimsical” deck in the Six of Wands. Another is Pinocchio: the “Whimsical” deck portrays him facing the puppet master in the Devil card, while the “Inner Child” deck features him as the Child of Swords. Pinocchio can also be seen as the archetypal child who is getting into trouble as he learns to tell truth from falsehood, and right from wrong, which is why the latter deck equates him with the Page of Swords, even though Wands might seem a more obvious choice for a boy made of wood. That aspect of the child nature that gets us into trouble when we are too inquisitive or willing to transgress boundaries is also portrayed by Goldilocks, in the “Fairy Tale” tarot’s Five of Pentacles, and in the “Whimsical” tarot’s Justice card. (The latter is very amusing: it shows Baby Bear pointing Goldilocks out to a Keystone Cop.) If you have ever done something mischievous, and then found yourself lamenting, “Oh, why did I do that!?” you may have been high-jacked by one of these aspects of the Inner Child. In a tarot reading, coming up with one of these or similar characters could be a warning against allowing such impulses to get the better of you.
Another well-known fairy-tale type is that of the vulnerable and victimized child, these decks having different versions of Cinderella, the Goose Girl, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, and so on. Some people object to passive characters in fairy tales. However, if we look more closely, we see that many of them are also resourceful. In the less familiar version of Cinderella, (which is the version that the “Inner Child” deck portrays), Cinderella effectively acts as a sorceress, going to her mother’s grave to conjure the things she needs. (This actually echoes some old Norse sagas, where the hero goes to his mother’s grave mound or the heroine to her father’s to acquire magical implements.) The Goose Girl also uses magic to get information, (and interestingly, a horse’s skull was also used in Norse shamanic practices), and Gretel is quick to take action in her story. The so-called passivity of fairy tale heroines (and many heroes as well) has been explained by N. J. Giradot, who says, “Heroes and heroines in fairy tales … do not ordinarily succeed because they act, but because they allow themselves to be acted upon—helped, protected, saved, or transformed—by the magic of the fairy world” [cited in Marta Weigle’s “Spiders & Spinsters: Women in Mythology,” p. 211]. Although there is a lot more that could be said about child personalities encountered in these cards, for my next post, I will try to develop some thoughts on the Child’s encounter with the Supernatural World.
In my last post, I mentioned that this upcoming Sunday we will be exploring some Ancestor World issues with the Faery cards and Tarot cards. Actually, I want to broaden that theme of interconnectedness to also be thinking about how we can reach forward in time, and also look at metaphors of interrelationship such as the connecting Web--all tied in with Lammas and the mysteries of the grain.
However, in line with the ancestor explorations, another thing to think about is an interest in the mystical as a potential legacy from some line or lines of ancestors. After all, the fact that you are reading a blog on tarot magic or setting foot in a New Age bookstore means that you are a mystically inclined person. Showing an interest in the metaphysical would attract extra support from the Ancestor World, because it signals that you are more receptive to spiritual wisdom and advice. So, when we do some of our card readings, it will be interesting to note whether cards like the High Priestess, Hierophant, or others that indicate a transmission of spiritual teachings come up. The Faery decks also have some cards that point to wisdom traditions.
Now back to the theme of interconnectedness: Alice O. Howell, in her book “The Dove in the Stone: Finding the Sacred in the Commonplace” (which is a collection of her musings as she explores the sacred isle of Iona), adds to our perspective on degrees of separation by pointing out that we are only a few “touches” away from many historical personages. She relates: “I had struggled to make history come alive for the sixth graders it had been my good fortune to teach. ‘How many ‘touches’ away do you suppose you are from George Washington?’ I asked them. Well, not as many as you think. When my father was a little boy, he was taken to the World’s Fair in St. Louis, and at that fair was a booth where there sat a very, very old black man to whom you could pay a nickel for a handshake. This man’s father had been a slave on Washington’s plantation and he had proudly let George Washington hold his son, then a baby. Now my own father had sat on his lap. So, from Washington to the old man was one touch, to my father was two, and to me three. Only three bodies stood between my students and the founding father of our country! I was giving them fourth touches as they eagerly stretched out their hands. Now they could run home and give fifth touches to others.” Howell goes on to say, “Since my father was always meeting interesting people, I was also only two touches from such as Mark Twain, Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth, Goering, etc., etc. (I myself had been forced to sit in Mussolini’s lap.) The next day, the kids came in to give me touches from all kinds of celebrities themselves. This exercise made history far more immediate” [58-59].
So, what is magical about that? Well, it’s an affirmation of interconnectedness. It’s not that celebrities are better than anyone else, but knowing that we’re only a few touches away from various celebrated personalities helps light up the web of interconnectedness in our minds—it makes the criss-crossing strands more VISIBLE to us. And any time we become more aware of our interconnectedness, more synchronicities will occur for us.
If you’re coming out on Sunday, ask your friends, family, and coworkers about any encounters they’ve had with notable persons, so you can convey some touches. Also, if you get a chance to talk to knowledgeable family members, find out what your different grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers maiden names were, and we’ll find out if any of us are long lost cousins.
Our next Magical Chat is a week from tomorrow, that is August 1st, so I’m planning activities for Lammas. I shall bring back the Animal Cracker Oracle, which was actually inspired by old Prussian New Year’s traditions, but which I have adapted for Lammas and its association with the Mysteries of the Grain. Tarot and Faery card readings will be built around Ancestor World issues.
If you are planning to come on the 1st, you might want to give some advance thought to the idea of Family Gifts & Blessings as well as Family Curses—and here I use those terms to mean repeating patterns and other things much broader than some good fairy or angry gypsy placing a spell on one of your ancestors, (though we can’t rule those out)—to be better able to identify such patterns if they come up in the bibliomancy or card readings.
Now, I’d like to say “Hi” to everyone who is following this blog. For those who have arranged to receive e-mail postings, I’m going to start tinkering in order to add some features to the blogsite, so I hope this won’t send you a bunch of empty mailings, and apologize in advance if it does. I’m pretty inexperienced with this, and I’m working with the world’s worst dial-up connection, so I’ll be trying to figure it out as I go along. Also, even though I haven’t gotten around to sending personal greetings, (and I don’t know whether or not this is a breach of blog etiquette), I am really delighted that you find Tarot Magic Adventures interesting enough to follow—so thanks to you all!
On Sunday, July 4th, I demonstrated the Seashell Oracle as part of the Magical Chat session. Because I haven’t had time to write an article about seashell divination, I’ll explain a little about how I developed this, and what some other authors have done with seashells.
For a while, I had been demonstrating the Spinning Basket Oracle, which involves tossing small items and fetishes into a flat, round, spinning basket and then interpreting their symbolism in the context of the patterns they make, and I had included some seashells in that. (I haven’t brought the spinning basket out this year, as I’ve done it several years prior, so I don’t know if there would be enough public interest in seeing it again.) Then, Dawne made me a gift of “The Ocean Oracle” by Michelle Hanson, which consists of 200 cards with pictures of seashells. Hanson's cards’ divinatory meanings are based on the individual shellfishes’ behaviors, appearance, common and scientific names, etc. Hanson used to use her own massive shell collection for divination, but hit on the idea of photographing and turning them into cards for greater portability, as well as making them available to all. For the Oracle I demonstrate, I use a basket of my own shells, though because of the physical handling, I don’t include my more fragile specimens. However, there are still enough to make for some interesting readings, going around the group as we do. (I have not gotten around to counting how many shells I use.)
To use the “Ocean Oracle” card set, you look over the images and pick out the shells which seem most compelling, either because you are attracted to them or repulsed by them. Then, you turn over the cards to get the interpretations on the back. You can pick out any number of cards for this, and also arrange them in patterns. For my group demonstrations with my shell basket, I find it best to have the basket passed around the circle, with each person, in turn, picking out two shells. With your eyes closed, pick out a shell with your left hand, to represent unconscious motivations. Then, with your eyes open, use your right hand to pick out a shell that you are particularly drawn to; this represents conscious directions you are taking.
In making interpretations, I use Hanson as a resource, as well as Sandra Kynes’ book, “Sea Magic,” and Katlyn’s “Ocean Amulets,” [Mermade Magickal Arts]. As usual, I add my idiosyncratic views and personal experiences based on my material culture and medical anthropology knowledge bases.
Despite these varied sources of interpretation, there’s always so much more that could be said when contemplating the symbolism of the shell in the context of one’s own life. For example, at the afore-mentioned session, the most popular shell of the day was the “Common Sundial,” Architectonia nobilis, (which I found at Mustang State Park in Texas). This snail’s flattened, rounded outline and distinct spirals with checked markings suggest a sundial or a staircase. The specimen featured in Hanson’s cards is the Giant Sundial, Architectonia maxima, but similar meanings can apply. Hanson says this shell stands for “patience.” Kynes notes that sundial shells “can help us get out of linear ruts and move on” , and I made some comments about structuring one’s life and thinking about how we measure time. However, there are other points that could have been discussed. Like all seashells, the Sundial can advise that we have to live our lives in increments, but its appearance underscores the need to take things one day at a time, and take manageable steps—baby steps if necessary. Looking at the scientific name, there is a seeming contradiction in that the shell is called the “Common Sundial,” probably because it is fairly common on sandy Atlantic beaches, but the species name is “nobilis” instead of “vulgaris.” This could suggest that in trying to create structure, we can find noble qualities and refined pleasures in the common things of daily life. The shell also suggests Native American concepts of moving in a sacred manner by moving with the sun, and how this is utilized in healing practices.
Thinking about these shells also leads us to make connections with other things in culture. The idea of the sundial suggests looking at sundial inscriptions. In May, I mentioned how Harriet Beecher Stowe was inspired to structure her life according the motto on a sundial which read, “I count only the sunny hours.” A good source on sundials is the website http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/gatty/sundials/221.html. It lists (among others) a Latin inscription from the sundial in the Dresden Altmark that reads, “Correct the past, direct the present, discern the future.” Interestingly, this can also summarize some of the goals of divination, including tarot.
By the way, although, for practical purposes, it’s convenient to talk about seashells as material objects, in interacting with them, we must remember that these once housed living beings, and send them blessings, such as wishes for a good rebirth.
Profuse apologies for being so out of touch and not having posted anything in so long! I will be coming to the Triple Goddess this Sunday, July 4th, from 1 to 3 p.m. as usual. Even though it’s the Independence Day weekend, I find that people still drop by the shop on holidays, so I’ve made that commitment to showing up on holidays as well. This Sunday I will bring the Seashell Oracle and demonstrate some spells and other magical things you can do with seashells. I will also demonstrate reading techniques with the Tarot of the Mermaids, the Tarot of the Pirates, and the Shapeshifter deck. For our metaphysical discussion, we’ll entertain some ideas on the need to become hybrid beings as a way of surviving in this new world.
Just a short note that I will be showing up at the Triple Goddess on Sunday, June 6th, from 1 to 3 p.m. I will bring along the doll houses for the Dollhouse Oracle, and this time I will try to spend more time working with individuals on their house symbolism. I will also share some thoughts on applying Tarot images to your own house for use as house charms, in tarot spells, and in Feng Shui applications. For those who will be able to join us, if you want to bring along a floor plan of your house, (taking note of its compass orientation), we can apply several layers of interpretation to that. In fact, if you have the ability to enlarge your floor plan or sketch it onto a larger sized piece of paper, we can explore its use as a tarot layout. Also, we will continue to open with the bibliomancy, (as part of our “crowd sourcing to Spirit”), so this time we will want to be thinking about how the insights from the bibliomancy might carry over to the house symbolism. I apologize for not writing more, but for now and the next few months, family demands are keeping me particularly busy.
To continue my discussion on how the fairy cards can interact with tarot cards, based on results we got at the Sunday, May 2nd session: there are two more readings to look at, (as, aside from people who were dropping in or out, there was a core group of six persons beside myself).
One participant got “The Child” as her Heart of Faerie card. Aside from the fact that we can see fairy-like qualities in young, innocent children, faeries are, folklorically, very drawn to the pure and exuberant energy of children, and we also have J.M. Barrie’s charming story that fairies are born of children’s laughter. When mixed into her Botticelli tarot deck, the Child was flanked by the Eight of Swords and the 10 of Pentacles. The Child in question is gazing at a little ball of light toward the left, so she is also looking in the direction of the Swords. This makes for an odd pairing, as it is not easy to visualize the very young, light-hearted, winged being interacting with the bound man standing in the forest of swords that the Botticelli card portrays. At the time we discussed this, we considered different possibilities, including some family issues, (related to the “generations” that the Ten of Pentacles can denote, and the fact that this individual was in the process of renewing contact with another branch of her family). Thinking about how this can more specifically engage Fairy World energies, perhaps taking a child-like attitude of wonder, which includes “magical thinking,” could provide a way out of whatever complications the Eight of Swords may denote. Behind the Child in the Faerie card is the face of a tree-like entity, indicating the Child’s affinity with Living Nature and ability to feel protected in the dark forest. One could transmute the imagery in the Botticelli Eight of Swords by imagining the surroundings as more of a fairy forest, where the Swords stand for challenges that make the situation more of a game or adventure. The Ten of Pentacles off on the left, here pictured as a palatial house with a path of coins leading up to it, might indicate the protective solidarity of Family that makes it possible for the child to indulge in fairy frolics.
In our final example reading, the participant chose to mix her Faerie card, which was “The Dreaming,” into the “Fairy Circle” oracle, rather than a tarot deck, which provides the interesting opportunity to see how the Froud faeries may interact with the traditional Celtic fairy entities portrayed. The Dreaming portrays a beautiful woman, awake, but with eyes closed, surrounded by a diverse population of nature spirits and other elfin beings. From my own point of view, I tend to see this as expressing the idea of a universe that is intensely alive and in constant communication with us, and for Wendy Froud, this card is about creative imagination. The Fairy Circle cards that came up were the “Garconer” to the left of the Dreaming, and the Lhiannan Shee to the right. Both are cards which are about illusory romantic ideals, so the challenge for this person is to use her fantasies creatively, without being drained by them. To explain: the Garconer (also known as the Glanconner, and is called “the love talker”), is a spirit that appears to a woman as the man of her dreams, but then drains her energy, while the Lhiannan Shee, known as “the Fairy Sweetheart,” is a fairy woman who can be vampiric, but who also bestows poetic gifts and inspiration. We had discussed the need to be discerning in the types of dreams one pursues, and how one can take advantage of creative visions without being drained by them. As I think about this further, it seems that one way we can test the value of our fantasies is by determining whether they generate ideas for creative activities or other things that enrich the lives of our loved ones, and of other people in general. If one has an interest in fiction writing, this would be one application, (though there is still a need to avoid being too taken with your own fantasy world). Another way might be to create beautiful experiences for others—perhaps fairy fantasy themed parties or just the little extra touches that add a dimension of fairy elegance to daily living.
This is a bit of a digression, but I am reminded of Harriet Beecher Stowe, (author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”), who incorporated so many creative ideas into her home that she impressed her niece, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who then made women’s living spaces a theme in her articles on utopian housing. If I recall correctly, Stowe herself had been impressed by the inscription on her uncle’s sun dial, which said, “I count only the sunny hours,” and made that her motto for living. (By-the-by, Stowe and Gilman, like others of their family, exhibited Asperger’s symptoms; there were also clairvoyant and metaphysical interests in that family.)
We did a number of other things at the magical chat session, in addition to drawing the fairy friends and mixing them with tarot decks, we did the bibliomancy by pulling random books off the shelves, we did the Doreen Virtue “Messages from the Fairies,” and for some, I was also able to do a Beltane reading with the Fairy Circle cards. I neglected to write down the results of the bibliomancy and various of these others. Ideally, however, we could be examining the whole spectrum to see if certain ideas, images, and themes emerged for the different individuals. As my big theme for Beltane is Fairy World, it would be interesting to consider how even the bibliomancies might tie in with this. In June, I will bring back the different pop-up doll houses and medieval castle for the Dollhouse Oracle. Last time, I was concerned that I didn’t devote enough time to exploring and explaining the metaphors of the different tarot cards in the different rooms of peoples’ lives, so next time, I will still be doing it in the group teaching format where others can look on, but I will focus on one dollhouse reading at a time, so that we can all walk through the rooms together. We’ll also do the bibliomancy, and if time permits, some other types of readings. However, with the metaphor of the house as the day’s theme, we might think about how these diverse readings tie in with the house symbolism.
One of the things that distinguishes “The Heart of Faerie Oracle” from Brian Froud’s previous Faeries Oracle is the inclusion of nine Faerie Queens: The Queen of the Golden Bough, Bedlam, Night, Day, Passage, Owls, Hearth and Home, Shadows, and Laughter. In folklore, there is a certain amount of crossover between fairy queens and goddesses such as Diana, Holda, and Freya. Fairy queens also have Ancestor World connections, as we see with some of the Irish fairy queens depicted in Mason and Franklin’s “Fairy Circle” Oracle, where certain fairies (such as Aine) have been regarded as clan mothers. Consequently, when you get one of the fairy queens in a reading, you might consider the possibility that some protective maternal powers are coming through.
At our May 2nd workshop, two persons drew fairy queens as their “fairy friends” (cards to take home). Coincidentally, these are sisters, one having gotten the Queen of the Golden Bough, and the other, the Queen of Passage. In such a case, it would be interesting for them to compare notes as to whether they have sensed any spiritually protective and guiding energies associated with a strong maternal presence at pivotal times in their lives, (as both of these fairy queens have liminal qualities, i.e., they are concerned with life’s transitions.) Because I had only one of each type of card in my give-away deck from which people drew these fairy talismans, it is possible that a single maternal entity is trying to connect through the two different cards—though of course, all of us have a multitude of maternal (and paternal) energy streams from which we can draw inspiration when we consider our genetic heritage.
When we mixed the fairy cards into our respective tarot decks to see how these fairy energies/entities might express themselves and offer guidance in different areas of our lives, the one sister got The Moon and the Two of Pentacles in association with the Queen of the Golden Bough, and the other got the Five of Swords and the Three of Pentacles in association with the Queen of Passage. (The latter was using the “Princess” tarot, which I don’t have, and I failed to note what the former was using, so I can’t reconstruct whether there were any unique image combinations, and so will have to stick to general interpretations.) Wendy Froud emphasizes the Queen of the Golden Bough as a card of soul healing, and also for healing “World Sorrow,” which is that sense of grieving for everything that’s wrong with the world. Because the Moon has a lot to do with the Unconscious, including dreams, dream exploration and the like can be a good way for this person to access the sort of healing that the Queen of the Golden Bough has to offer, and, indeed, this fairy queen may well be sending her comforting communications through Unconscious channels. The Two of Pentacles would suggest finding a way to bring the Queen’s healing, nurturing energies into the demands of daily life, to create a greater sense of balance by infusing life with soul. In the other reading, the Five of Swords, in common with the other Fives cards, can signify a time of transition, when a previously secure situation has become destabilized; with Swords cards, the changes in question can activate the survival instinct, sometimes also challenging a person’s ideals. However, the Queen of Passage is good for offering guidance when things are in flux, because she enables us to see events as part of a progression, as well as the creative opportunities present in times of change. This relates to the pomegranate which she holds, a fertility symbol showing, “[t]here is growth in the future.” Here, the Three of Pentacles reinforces the idea of applying these energies to creative projects.
OK, looking at ways the Heart of Faerie cards can interact with tarot cards, for clues as to the unique ways that fairy energies can manifest in life.
Two of the fairy friends that were drawn at Sunday’s session were #29, The Green Man, and #56, The Challenge. Graphically, there are some similarities, because the former features a being with a leafy, mask-like face, and the latter a character with a leafy mask; both gaze directly outward. Both images also use the mystique of the mask as an interface with Nature, and I believe someone in our group mentioned something to the effect that the mask provides a transitional space for us to look outward through the eyes of Spirit. Do I recall this correctly? Does anyone remember more specifically what was said? The Frouds actually use the mask as a motif repeated throughout The Heart of Faerie.
The person who got The Green Man as her fairy friend was using “The Whimsical Tarot” by Mary Hanson-Roberts and Dorothy Morrison, which uses images from fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Here, The Green Man was flanked by the Page of Rods, (depicted, simply, as a horn or trumpet), and the Eight of Swords, (which in this deck is illustrated with a sleeping Rip Van Winkle.) Now the Page of Rods can represent communication, (though the trumpet in this illustration also suggests something of a wake-up call), and the Green Man suggests an Intelligence within Nature that is willing to communicate. Although Rip Van Winkle is portrayed sleeping, his sleep is almost something of a communion with Nature--at least as it is shown in this illustration. (I think the Eight of Swords’ meanings, in this context, denote more of a holding pattern.) So, what I’m getting here is a kind of paradoxical message: wake up to the voice of Nature by relaxing into Nature. (The term “relaxing into Nature,” is, I believe, used by Tom Brown, the Pine Barrens tracker, to convey the idea of being totally at home in Nature.) The person who drew this card already considers herself a nature person, so perhaps this reading just offers suggestions for greater attunement. If this person has a garden, she might want to put out some sort of a Green Man image, just as a means of returning the greeting.
The person who drew “The Challenge” card combined it with the Shadowscapes Tarot, (the new deck by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law), getting the Nine of Wands to the left and the Hermit to the right. This person views the Nine as representing challenges she has previously met, and the Hermit as keeping one’s own counsel. One way that the mask as an emblem of the fairy folk might apply to this card combination is that folklorically, in their interface with humans, the Fae may try to appear as human, but can’t totally disguise themselves. For example, mermaids always have wet skirts, or the Huldre folk and others may appear hollow behind. We also see this in Ben Okri’s novel, “The Famished Road,” where the forest spirits manifest as human, but there’s always something “off” about them—they can’t quite get it down. The person who drew the Challenge is a Pisces, and I think that a lot of Pisces folk are almost like mermaids or other beings who exist only partly in the human world. To meet the challenges of “the real world,” Pisces (or any number of others, including spiritually oriented persons, or persons who are neurologically different) have to invest a lot of energy in “passing for normal.” In this case, the prior Nine of Wands challenges may have involved assuming different personas, (as Wands can get into identity issues, and a persona is also a mask), in order to take on the challenges, yet still be able to preserve her Hermit’s need to have some personal space. This person also got a [Doreen Virtue] fairy message card exhorting her to “be yourself.” This isn’t necessarily a contradiction, because we have many quite authentic sub-selves, and these are what we can draw on when we assume different personas for different situations.
This reminds me of another aspect of Faerie, that is, it seems that all different cultures recognize different types of fairy beings who have some similarities across cultures, but also culture-specific differences, because fairies try to communicate and interact with us in ways that we can understand, and that make sense in our cultural context. With this in mind, assuming a persona isn’t being phony—it’s facilitating communication.
This also suggests a little ritual that a person could do with The Challenge card—or indeed, with any number of other fairy or tarot cards--when trying to assume a persona or get psyched up for a specific role or event. A lot of actors have little rituals to help them get into character, or just to help them transition into a different mode. So, Jack Lemmon would use the phrase, “It’s Magic Time!” when he was ready to get started, and if you’ve seen the movie, “All that Jazz,” Roy Scheider (playing the Bob Fosse character) would stand in front of the mirror, and with a certain flourish, announce, “It’s show time, folks!” Similarly, you could stand in front of the mirror, flourish your fairy or tarot card, and say something appropriate to what you’re trying to achieve, related to the symbolism of the card. In this way, you are also engaging the shape-shifting qualities of fairy magic.
Sunday afternoon, we concluded our chat session with a little ritual that was new, so I thought I’d write it up for those who weren’t able to be with us. As I often say, these get-togethers are a chance to bring our spirit mentors along with us, to a place where the better sort of spirits converge, so they can share information by hobnobbing with each other, and we can benefit from their collective wisdom and advice. So, as we had a nice little circle arrangement, we used tarot cards as a way of circulating blessing energy for ourselves as well as our friends in Spirit.
To do this, each person pulls “The Star” and “The Ace of Cups” cards from his/her personal deck. The Star represents spiritual sources, and the Ace of Cups chalice can serve as a symbolic libation cup. Among ancient peoples, offering libations was one of the most common ways of showing respect to Spirit. (If you’ve read the Iliad, you may recall how the principal characters—even the gods--always had their libation cups at the ready.)
Now, with your left hand, raise The Star card, and say something like, “We honor our friends in Spirit, whose blessings and wisdom flow through us!” The left hand is the receiving hand, which draws from the Unconscious, so visualize energy being drawn from the realm of Spirit, and channeled through your being. Then, with your right hand, which directs energy outward, hold the Ace of Cups before you, pointing toward the center of the circle, and say something like, “We offer gratitude to all our friends in Spirit!” The energy thus directed to the center is both concentrated and amplified for all in Spirit to enjoy. Then, each person touches his or her Ace of Cups chalice card to the next person’s Star card as a way of creating a circuit of energy that flows through the circle, and say something like, “May all beings be refreshed by the free flow of spirit!” (This, of course, includes the Fae folk as well as other friendly spirits.) The circulating energy refreshes humans and spirits alike. Then, as part of a coordinated motion, have everybody bring their hands and cards flat to the table and say something like, “So be it!” to bring things to a close.
Also: I took a few notes on some of the readings we did, where first we selected Fairy Friends (from the Heart of Faerie deck), and then inserted them into tarot decks or others, in order to see how those fairies’ energies can operate in different areas of our lives. Among other things, we also paired our fairy friends with Doreen Virtue’s “Magical Messages from the Fairies” oracle cards, to give them a chance to speak. Although we had a lively discussion on the implications of the different cards, I shall take another look at my notes, to see if I can offer further insights into how the faeries might express themselves through the tarot in upcoming posts.
This Sunday I will be demonstrating techniques with the Faerie Oracle and the Heart of Faerie Oracle cards, among other oracle and tarot decks. As we work with these cards, a question to consider is, how can these fairies help us to enhance our relationship with a Universe that is intensely alive and in constant communication with us? (See my March 30th post on communications from the Living Universe.)
Wendy Froud, who has done the write-up for the Heart of Faerie cards, describes the cards as revealing, “how the wisdom of Faerie transforms life & relationships.” Transforming life and relationships suggests possibilities for shamanic engagement, because it recalls Serge Kahili King’s definition of the shaman as, “a healer of relationships: between mind and body, between people, between people and circumstances, between humans and Nature, and between matter and spirit” [“Urban Shaman” 14].
Pursuing an interest in shamanic healing, I have been re-reading Margie McArthur’s book, “Faery Healing.” (She also maintains a site at www.faeryhealing.com). Margie defines Faery Healing as “the practice of reestablishing communication and working relationship with our kin of the subtle realms of the Earth, the Elementals, the Earth Beings, the Faeries, and ‘the small clans of the Earth’s delight,’ to use Fiona Macleod’s charming phrase” . Margie’s assertion that, “To do Faery Healing we must be prepared to go into the Heart of the World, that innerworld place where the Flame of Being burns brightly and connects us all by virtue of the Fire of Life which sparks and blazes within all life,” is echoed by Brian Froud’s desire to “experience the love and wisdom that comes from the hearts of the faeries and from the heart of Faerie itself.” The second part of “Faery Healing,” provides different healing techniques, starting out with suggestions for the art of “being hollow,” “body sensing,” how to clear intention and attention—note that the Frouds also emphasize paying attention as part of your bargain for the faeries’ insight and wisdom—different levels of grounding techniques, working with the elements and quarters, shapeshifting, finding faery healing allies, and so on. Something that I hope to learn more about as we explore these things together is how the different types of fairy cards might be used to help with grounding, (for example, cards portraying beings with their roots in the Earth), issues around being in touch with your body and with Nature, (the cards have a lot of images of bodies in harmony with Nature, even aspects of nature that some might consider icky), achieving that “hollowness,” paying attention, shape-shifting, and so on.
By the way, in the March 30 post, I was wondering if others had encountered decks that give a sense of a highly animated universe, and Javier responded with a number of suggestions with links, so you might want to refer back and take a peek at some of those. I do think that there is a lot more that could be done here, by aspiring tarot artists, in conveying ways that the Universe can communicate to us through the cards.
Looking forward to next Sunday, May 2nd. In honor of Beltane, a time when the energies of the Faery World are amplified, I will demonstrate different types of readings with Faery Oracle cards. Because the Frouds have just released a new deck, the “Heart of Faery” Oracle, these cards will be included among the others passed out as Faery Friends talismans to take home. However, as this deck is so new, I’m still in the process of familiarizing myself with it.
To help get to know this deck, I’ve been using it in bibliomantic experiments. For example, last night I went to hear the poet Diane Wakoski read from her new work, “The Diamond Dog,” at the Triple Goddess. To help get attuned, I was going through some of her other poetry books, and because she is known for her deep imagery, where the juxtaposition of striking images provokes striking insights and sensations, I got the notion to insert Faery cards into the books, and then consider how the Faery imagery and card meanings might provoke additional insights.
So, to demonstrate the technique for this blogpost, I have just shuffled and inserted random cards into random pages of “The Diamond Dog.” Among these, I find card 38 between pages 42 and 43 of The Diamond Dog. The card features a boyish sprite with silvery opalescent wings and a silvery opalescent glow; he flies by an ancient tree whose twisted form shines silver-gray in the moonlight. A little golden door at the base of the tree features Dagaz, the Day-rune, which some notable runelorists say can serve as a portal into other dimensions. Meanwhile, goblin faces take shape in the folds of the tree. This card is titled, “The Pan,” with reference to the immortal boy. Glancing at the two poems on these pages, I notice that in “The Secret of the Ring” on page 43, the poetess speaks of glancing at her “old hands,” which, “seem ringless except in owl-light, when Silver Boy points to the stone set in an invisible band on my marriage finger.” Aside from the obvious image of the silver boy, one can see a correspondence with the old hands and the gnarled tree, which then suggests a correspondence between the envisioned diamond on the ring finger and the jewel-like door in the tree.
Incidentally, in last night’s conversation with Diane, I mentioned that I enjoy her works because of her material imagery, including sensual images of things like fruits and gemstones, because for me as an Asperger’s person, it’s easy to relate to things, but difficult to get into concepts, except that material things provide me the entryway into deeper concepts. Diane replied that things serve as the entryway for her, too.
Continuing to consider the resonance between the card and the poem, I see that in the Wendy Froud write-up for the manual, she mentions how the Pan sees life and death as “an awfully big adventure.” This is a reference to the book “Peter Pan,” where, at a certain point, Peter thinks he’s going to die, and tells himself, “Death will be such an awfully big adventure!” Applied to this poem, this isn’t necessarily a portent of death--though of course, we’re all headed in that direction, and the older you get, the more you’re reminded of that fact. Rather, I think it says something about an artist’s mindfulness of death, as in the Heinrich Böll quote cited in a recent post, that, “The artist carries Death within him, like a good priest his breviary.”
Well, I could go on and on about the other poem-card image associations I have in front of me, but the silver boy image is especially serendipitous. This technique of making associations between cards and texts could actually work with any pack of cards, (even ordinary playing cards), and any book, (even the dictionary or phone book).
Picking up on the Easter Sunday readings around the Judgment card, the remaining readings that I recall brought up the Minor Arcana cards. One was the Six of Swords, Judgment, and the Ace of Wands, and the other was the Two of Swords, Judgment, and the Four of Swords.
In the case of the Six of Swords, this suggests that although there may be tension and conflicts in the general environment, (which may well be the case for a lot of us in this hard times economy), this person should look for an “opening,” to take advantage of some peaceful interlude between cycles of conflict and hardship, for Judgment’s work of self-remaking. The Ace of Wands suggests that the process of rejuvenation will generate a strong, focused quality of energy that can be directed into new projects and enterprises. Aces also get into identity issues—and the Ace of Wands in particular—so this also suggests a rejuvenated sense of Self, where the person is also likely to be strongly self-identified with whatever new project she puts her energy into. We also touched on the idea that when the Ace of Wands comes up favorably placed in a reading, you are strong in your own energy, and that portends success.
The reading with the Two and the Four of Swords cards flanking Judgment suggests renewal through the ability to manage conflict. The Two and Four are both cards of balance. However, as the Swords stand for elemental Air, the trick is to balance something as mobile, insubstantial, and, well, “airy” as air. The Twos often require us to negotiate between the needs of Self and Other, which could involve compromising personal ideology, though the Two of Swords also has a traditional meaning of mediating between two other parties. Here, the ability to be able to see from both parties’ points of view is a key factor. In the Four of Swords, one uses the desire for stability to create a safe place amidst conflict, and in this context, there is also a suggestion that the rejuvenation process needs to be extended, indicating the possibility of a healing retreat. If we want to bring in time factors, we’ve looking at how we can use the qualities of the Judgment card to align with the energies of the season for springtime renewal, so this would suggest a recovery period that extends beyond Spring, (maybe even 4 months beyond the Easter/Equinox period). Because the first card suggested weighing the needs of another party or parties, this could mean that the subject needs to recover from the empathic strain of mediating their needs, or that the other party/parties also need to be engaged in the healing process. (The individual who drew these cards is a Pisces, so mediating with others would draw on her capacities of intuition and empathy, but she would also need time to recharge afterward.)
The other thing I’m reminded of in relation to the idea of creating a safe space is Carolyn Myss’s definition of “an elegant spirit.” Part of that definition is the fact that anyone who enters your energy field knows they are in a safe space, where they will not be unfairly judged, and will be treated with compassion. I believe that Jean Shinoda Bolen also talks about that somewhere, probably in “Goddesses in Every Woman.” This is the idea that you create a “temenos,” a temple precinct, within your energy field, and within your relationships. This idea is also reflected in the Four of Swords card.
After the reading, we turned our layouts into “tarot spells,” by altering the readings (if desired) by adding mitigating cards to supply the qualities that individuals felt they needed to enhance their own rejuvenation processes, then visualizing ourselves going through that process of renewal, and then expressing our renewed selves in effective ways in our inner and outer worlds. (If you like your reading just as it is, you don’t have to modify it; just visualize yourself going through the process it depicts.)
Continuing to ponder how Judgment’s principles of rebirth and renewal apply to readings done last Sunday, two of the readings contained all heavy-hitting Major Arcana cards.
One 3-card spread was Justice, Judgment, and the World, suggesting more outward-looking transformations experienced on a larger social scale, that is, personal renewal achieved by promoting principles of justice and balance. (The person who drew this is a Libra, so one thinks of Gail Fairfield’s “Choice Centered Astrology,” which describes the Libra/Venus mission as creating beauty and harmony; also, when you get cards that strongly suggest your own astrological sign or significators, this suggests being yourself.) The World can suggest expressing these qualities in your personal life and environment, but there is also a sense of bringing harmony to more extended spheres of influence. If I’m not getting things mixed up, I believe this reading was done with the Ciro Marchetti Divine Legacy Tarot, so again, you have the central angel harmonizing the principles to either side of the Judgment card as part of this renewal process, (and creating continuity between these principles). There are similarities between Justice and Judgment, because both imply some critical decision making, and there is natural continuity between Judgment and the World, because as the last two cards in the Majors, the World follows Judgment as part of the natural progression through transformation to a higher and happier state of being.
The other reading, which featured Death, Judgment, and the Tower, reveals transformative processes that are profound and ongoing. We had been talking about how the card to the left of Judgment can reveal parts of you that you may have left behind, and that you can renew yourself by rediscovering these personalities, qualities, or interests. However, the person who drew these cards was a younger person still in school, so we tended more to look at the Death card as perhaps pertaining to the different Selves one may try on and then discard in the process of making decisions about what studies and careers to pursue. This could apply to a lot of other things a person can be identified with, such as peer groups, friendships, personal interests, beliefs and causes—because they all go into that sense of Self. To feel a little more at ease with having to deal with major transformations, you could think about where, in your past as well as in your current life, have you been able to use what we might call shape-shifting skills in adapting to different circumstances, different groups of people, different peoples’ demands on you, and so on? How have you been remaking yourself.
Another thing—which I didn’t think to mention—is Heinrich Böll’s reflection that, “The artist carries Death within him, like a good priest his breviary.” I didn’t think to ask whether this individual was an art student, but I know a lot of young people deal with a degree of intensity in their artistic explorations that generates internal drama. If you identify with this, Death and the Tower can have bearing on art as a continuing transformation process. The Tower can denote a jolt of inspiration, but from the artists’ point of view, it could also be about disassembling and reassembling one’s art installations to get different creative combinations. Here, you can welcome transformations as opportunities for self-invention and creative performance.
I think the deck used for this reading was the “Mystic Dreamer Tarot,” with art by Heidi Darras and text by Barbara Moore. In this deck, the Judgment angel faces left, the direction of the past, which, being the side of the Death card, also suggests that a return to a past transformation may be a source of renewal. The Death card features a shrouded grim reaper figure, from which emerges an ecstatic spirit woman made of starlight, which further suggests that idea of creative self-invention and re-invention.
I have a little bit more to say about the Judgment readings, but as I have to devote several days to family matters, I probably won’t get back to this til next week.
To pick up where I left off, at Sunday’s session, we had been doing card search readings focused on the Judgment card, and the cards flanking it as showing an area of your life or personality that could undergo renewal and an area of life or activity where you can express your new sense of selfhood.
In the case of the person whose first card was the Queen of Wands, the key to rejuvenation could be to reignite some very fiery, feminine inner self. (The deck used was Ciro Marchetti’s Legacy Tarot, whose Wands Queen has a smoldering gaze.) Queens are particularly concerned with nurturing the qualities of their suit, so how might that suggest some form of self nurturing? The flanking card in this reading was the King of Cups, which could denote a different facet of self expression (with regard to taking charge in some emotional matters), but which in this particular case also seemed to have bearing on a personal relationship. In this Marchetti deck, the Judgment angel’s outspread arms and glowing hands reach out to beyond the picture space, which has the graphic effect of spiritually joining whatever is featured in the flanking cards--in this case uniting the Queen of Wands and King of Cups.
The Empress, which two persons drew, also involves re-awakening that inner feminine creativity, but as part of a grander vision of how life could be improved and made more beautiful. In some of my January and February posts, I talked about this (2010) as being an Empress year with the potential to nurture dreams, so this could be an especially significant year for these individuals, pointing to major opportunities for remaking themselves. One of these persons drew the Sun as the other card, which indicates that the Empress qualities can be allowed to shine, bringing health, happiness, and recognition. The combination of Judgment and the Sun may predict recognition that brings promotion. I don’t remember what the other person’s flanking card was, or which decks were used. (Anyone and everyone: feel free to post here to refresh my memory if I have forgotten your reading or gotten parts of it wrong.)
For those who weren’t with us on Sunday, one of the things we did was get out the Tarot decks and pose a request to the effect, “Please show me where I can experience new life.” Then, we shuffled and went through our decks until we came to the Judgment card, and noted the cards to either side of it. As we discussed, the card to the left of Judgment can represent parts of your Self that could stand to undergo renewal, transformation, or uplifting--often because they can represent aspects of your personality or other interests that you had to suppress in trying accommodate society and make your way in the world. The card to the right of Judgment shows ways that you can express your rejuvenated selfhood.
When I got home Sunday evening, I tried to reconstruct some of the card combinations that came up. I can’t remember all of the readings, as there are some that I’m fuzzy about, so in the future I’ll have to take notes. Now, as time permits, I’ll try to write down a few observations on what I recall. As I’m not able to get to my computer on most days, it will take a little while to work through this.
From what I recall, a number of the first drawn cards (on the left of Judgment) were what we call “people” cards, in that they feature certain Tarot personalities. Among these were the Knight of Swords, the Queen of Wands, the Knight of Pentacles, and the Empress.
The Knights represent your ability to get involved in something in a very focused way, so in the context of this reading for resurrection/rejuvenation, the people who got knights might think back on focused activities of the past that made them feel “in the flow,” “in the zone,” that made the sense of time go away or made them feel alive and invigorated with a sense of new possibilities. In the case of the Knight of Pentacles, this could denote immersion in some material world activities such as crafts, or gardening, or looking after some basic financial or maintenance concerns, whereas the Knight of Swords could pertain to involvement in ideas and causes.
The person who drew the Knight of Pentacles was using the “Universal Fantasy Tarot,” which portrays the Knight as a small, black goblin who rides a squirrel which is clutching a coin. This imagery very much suggests focusing on the little things, including what some people might look down upon as money-grubbing details. If this card comes up for you in this context, it could mean that you have been neglecting some of the basic contingencies of life, perhaps out of a desire to focus on more spiritually refined ideals. If so, the Knight of Pentacles gives you “permission” to indulge your more materialistic instincts, (consider the instinctual activities of the squirrel), as something that would be beneficial at this time. The card to the right of Judgment was the 2 of Swords, which indicates that attention to small, material details can be helpful in mediating relationships, and that this ability to create balance between Self and Other, or between other individuals, (such as two children?), can lead to greater confidence and harmony.
By the way, when we did the bibliomancy, where we pulled random books off the shelves and read passages, I think that the person who drew the Knight of Pentacles was the same person who pulled a book on gardening. I no longer remember the message, but it may have been on gardening as a focusing activity. Taking another look at the “Universal Fantasy” card, I see that the goblin knight and his squirrel are portrayed amidst a bed of golden flowers, (which also has implications for prosperity). Those of you who were taking notes might want to give some more thought as to whether your bibliomancy has any resonance with your Tarot reading.
I do not recall which deck was used with the Knight of Swords, but the other card in the reading was the Magician. Because the Magician is concerned with achieving worldly mastery through exploration of the elemental qualities of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water, this spread would suggest applying Knight of Swords intensity to the quest for knowledge and skill.
In my next installment, I’ll get into the Queen and Empress. In the meantime, Barb Moore has been posting a really excellent series of articles on the Court Cards on the Llewellyn Journal webpage. The one on the Knights can be found at http://llewellynjournal.com/journal/article/2101. Barb does a really great job of getting to the essence of the court characters, to better understand what they mean when they come up in your readings.
At Sunday’s Magical Chat, in discussing magical uses for Easter eggs, we talked about how eggs are used in different shamanic healing techniques, and my idea of how one could enhance such techniques by using eggs dyed in herbs and spices with beneficial qualities. An example was turmeric, which can be used to color eggs, and how in India, both Hindu and Muslim brides as well as babies may be rubbed with turmeric because of its auspicious golden glow. Looking through various sources on natural dyes for Easter eggs, I see that some other substances used to color eggs include beets, red cabbage, red onions, walnut husks, coffee grounds, caraway seed, sage, spinach, marjoram, young beech or wild apple leaves, and cherry or crab apple bark.
Also, I have been looking through my notes on traditional healers, and thought you might enjoy reading about some specific instances where eggs are used. The following comes from “The Mixe of Oaxaca: Religion, Ritual, and Healing,” by Frank J. Lipp. The author had gotten a bit of fright after falling into a ravine on one of his rambles. Because the Mixe (like many traditional peoples) believe fright deranges your energy body with a form of soul loss, he called in a healer. Lipp relates, “Beginning with the most painful area, she then rubbed my head with two eggs. The state of fright is not absorbed by the eggs but ‘taken off’ before it can spread through the body …” [Lipp 178]. The curer afterward buried the two eggs as an offering to the “Night Wind,” which she considered to be the malign spirit that seized his soul on the mountainside where the accident occurred.
This practice of rubbing the body with eggs is very widespread, especially in Latin and Middle Eastern culture areas, as well as South America. In her book, “Woman Who Glows in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health,” Elena Avila explains how she has found the egg useful in her practice of curanderismo: “I have been astonished at how rubbing an egg over someone’s body has helped me to read their energy. This tool has become a doorway that helps me to read peoples’ souls.” (The egg rub is part of the “limpia,” a spiritual revitalization process.) Avila is also able to use the egg in divinatory diagnosis, by breaking the egg and dropping it into a glass of water to “read” it, once the ritual treatment is finished. She says, “What I do at such times is to look at the relationship between the egg yolk, which symbolizes the individual, and the egg white, which represents the energy that does not belong to the client because she has just released it in the ceremony of the five directions.” [Avila 36, 166] Note that Avila uses the term “energy that does not belong to you” as a way of describing intrusive energy forms that others might label as evil spirits.
The next example is more unique, because it involves eating an egg as a way of recovering a lost soul fragment. This comes from Venetia Newall’s “An Egg at Easter,” and the original source is a 1966 National Geographic article by Peter Kunstader, who was working in northern Thailand, and reported a situation where, “a member of the Karen tribe [was] cured of fever when one of his thirty-two souls—which had escaped and so caused the illness—was recaptured inside a hard-boiled egg. Friends called to the soul repeatedly and, when they were able to balance the egg on a small stick stuck in the ground, they knew it had heard and gone inside. The sick man was then given this to eat and made a good recovery” [Newall 109]. This concept of having multiple souls is also very widespread, so dealing with soul loss is something which plays a primary role in shamanic cultures everywhere.
If you’ve ever experienced feelings of disorientation or fragmentation, you could be said to be experiencing a form of soul loss. To perform a little self healing after traumatic incidents have left you feeling a bit “beside yourself,” you could decorate an egg with your name, your birth-date, your astrological symbol, and other symbols that are special to you, then ceremonially eat the egg with the idea that you’re pulling some of your own energies back into your body. This would also be a nice treat for a child who has had a bad day at school, or any of the other number of upsets that children are sensitive to.
Incidentally, the idea of charming the wandering soul fragment into an egg reminds me of Russian fairytales in which a sorcerer hides his heart or spirit in an egg.
I’m in the process of reading “The Secret Life of Nature” by Peter Tompkins (co-author of “The Secret Life of Plants”), which especially deals with the Fairy World as part of a Universe that is intensely alive and in constant communication with us. Tompkins’ statement that, “The idea that the entire universe communicates with the interior of our bodies and minds has been part of esoteric religious tradition for thousands of years” ,” also has implications for divination techniques like Tarot and Bibliomancy.
Ancient peoples viewed divination as more than just a self-serving practice based on the desire to know what’s coming down the road so you can take advantage of it. When you get out your pack of Tarot cards or other divinatory tools, you are both saying and signaling, “Hey, I’m ready to pay attention.” This is a respectful act, because it amounts to paying attention to what the Living Universe is trying to tell you, and paying attention is paying respect. There is an exchange of energy here, a metaphysical coinage, an energy offering.
When we take the shamanic view, we approach the larger, Living Universe and all its individual life forms and expressions of life as kin to us. We can look at divination as a way of opening a friendly conversation with our spiritual kinfolk, so there’s nothing dark or boding or fearful about that. Persons with strong family feeling take pleasure in being in touch with extended family members; this is one of the reasons that so many Native Americans begin speeches as well as prayers with a greeting to “all of my relations.”
This can provide creative inspiration for Tarot artists: one could come up with something of an animists’ Tarot deck or Oracle, where you have not just human figures, but illustrations where the human figures are interacting with faery and spirit forms, as well as with other natural entities, and with natural and man-made features of the environment that are in some sense animated. I think I have come across some decks that at least hint at this. Can anyone jog my memory or suggest Tarot decks that illustrate this sense of communication with the larger world, and with the Intelligence of Nature?
With the start of April getting closer in sight, I’m pulling my stuff together for my first-Sunday-of-the-month visits to the Triple Goddess, (with the first on April 4th, which is also Easter). As always, these sessions are free and casual, and among the reasons for stopping by are that novel events like my “magical chat sessions” give you something to write about.
If you blog or keep a journal, or if you are a person who tries to be dutiful about writing letters or e-mails to friends and relatives, you know that it can sometimes be difficult to find much to say beyond reporting about the weather and everyone’s health condition. However, if you happen by the Triple Goddess on one of these Sundays when I have some activity set up, such as the Faery Friends, Dollhouse Oracle, Animal Cracker Oracle, etc., at least you can write up something like, “I stopped by the Triple Goddess today, and there was this lady who was telling fortunes with animal crackers …” (or what have you). Think about it—how many places are there in this area (or anywhere) where you can just wander in and see something like that going on? Also, if you participate in the demonstrations of Tarot reading or other oracles, that gives you additional fodder for writing, because you can explore the meaning of whatever reading you got.
Just a reminder—if you would like to further probe the significance of your readings or other topics of interest, you can post questions and comments to this blog. I will be happy to respond, because there are always so many additional insights that one can pull out of a reading or discussion.
For those who are unfamiliar, when I come to the Triple Goddess, I demonstrate Tarot techniques or other Oracle techniques (among other things). Typically a small group of people will be present, and if it involves Tarot reading, people will bring their own cards or can borrow demonstrator decks from the Triple Goddess. As we delve into whatever is the theme of the day, individuals shuffle and lay out their own cards, and then we go around the table discussing the readings. If you are shy about having your situation discussed in a group, you aren’t obligated to participate. It is OK to just look on, and you can pick up pointers for reading that way.
A big advantage of the group experience is that when people come together, their Spirit Mentors also come together. Just as individual human persons have different knowledge, insights, and talents, so do people in Spirit, so this is an opportunity to tap into the greater collective wisdom of the Spirit World. And of course, a high vibration place like the Triple Goddess already attracts the better class of spirits. Some things I hope to continue to develop throughout this year’s sessions are new ways that we can CROWD SOURCE TO SPIRIT.
This is also why I very much encourage participants and onlookers to butt in as we discuss different peoples’ readings. If someone has drawn certain cards (or whatever), and something pops into your mind about their meanings, do speak up. Even if your comment doesn’t seem entirely pertinent or significant, it may be that you are getting a message from Spirit, with something that somebody there needs to hear. Also, with the Synchronicity Factor, a message for one can be meaningful to many. Often, in analyzing or discussing someone else’s reading, things will come up that speak to my own concerns. I think this is all the more the case for group members when a number of people come together.
Another good thing about these sessions is that the good folks at the Triple Goddess allow—and indeed encourage—us to work with their demonstrator decks. So, if you’ve been thinking about buying a particular Tarot deck or other oracle deck, but are wondering how it would work for you, or if you just want to familiarize yourself with a lot of different decks, this is a great way to try them out.
By the way, among the things we’ll be doing at the April 4th session are a Tarot reading and Tarot spell on the theme of Resurrection, which will be focusing on the Judgment card. If you have a chance to come by a little early, you might take some time to go through the demonstrator decks to see if any of them have a version of the Judgment card that you’d like to try working with. Note that you don’t have to use the same deck for both the reading and the spell—it’s fine to use two different decks.
I'm still relatively new to blogging, so some things still surprise me. I just had to remove a comment to the last post, because it turned out to be pornographic spam. My apologies to everybody who is following this blog! If you got the comment link in your mailbox, I wouldn't recommend following it, because it could well have viruses. I have now altered my account so new comments will be monitored before being posted. --With profuse apologies, Janina
A Happy Fat Tuesday to Everyone! (Or as we call it in this part of Michigan, Paczki Day.) This is the last day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans (and everywhere else, of course). Mention Mardi Gras, and most Americans think of a big boozefest, but I think it has magical potential, related to the feng shui effect which I have previously discussed in reference to Halloween and masquerading traditions. So, for example, I mentioned how a person in need of healing can engage The Principle of the Fantastic as well as the energy of the crowd, (“the swarm”), by dressing up in some outlandish get-up and parading. This form of shape-shift and the moving stream of chi both revitalize the energy body. (I apologize that I have not gotten around to tagging my older posts, but you can find some of this discussion in February of 2009 and October of 2008.)
To align yourself with the psychic energy stream that Mardi Gras generates—even if you aren’t a Catholic—it would be good to follow it with some form of fasting or abstinence, where you give up certain indulgences for a few weeks. The problem with Mardi Gras in America is that we don’t engage in fasting afterward, and without the lows, you can’t appreciate the highs, so they become meaningless bouts of overindulgence.
If you’re familiar with the movie, “The Sound of Music,” you know who Maria von Trapp is—and she was a real person who wrote a great book: “Around the Year with the Trapp Family.” In my old notes, I have some of her comments on the need for Lent, and I just did a search to verify that you can find some of this online, with keywords like “Maria Trapp ‘lean weeks of Lent.’” To paste in a few quotes from Maria Trapp:
“Nobody could stand a Thanksgiving Day dinner every day of the year. There can only be mountains if there are also valleys. It is a pity that the Reformation did away not only with most of the sacraments and all of the sacramentals, but also, unfortunately, with the very breath of the Mystical Body — that wonderful, eternal rhythm of high and low tide that makes up the year of the Church … Modern man lost track of this. Deep down in the human heart, however, is imbedded the craving to celebrate, and, in a dumb way, the other craving to abstain, perhaps to atone. In general, these cravings are no longer directed in seasonal channels, ... So modern man one day — any day — gets up and says, ‘Let's celebrate!’ And without any warrant, he decrees that his town from now on will have a festival on, let's say, August 18th; and as he can dance and eat and drink on any day between January 1st and December 31st, the most he will experience is a ‘good time.’ But he will never be able to "celebrate a feast.’”
Turning to other seasonal events, we have just entered the Chinese New Year of the Tiger, so, Happy New Year! The official start date was this past Sunday, which was also Valentine’s Day, so the celebrational energy has been very high, with so many festivities falling so close to each other.
A special Empress quality that I alluded to previously is the ability to nurture creative dreams, so I’m hopeful that this year as an entity will help nurture all of our dreams.
The Empress is a tarot card that brings up a number of archetypal goddess associations, and the Empress ability to nurture dreams can be related to Jean Shinoda Bolen’s discussion of “Vision Carriers” in relation to Aphrodite as Alchemical Goddess in her book, “Goddesses in EveryWoman,” pp. 229-32. (Tarot illustrators have traditionally incorporated Venus/Aphrodite iconography into the Empress card.) In stressing the necessity of believing in your dreams and working to actualize them, Bolen points out that, “Often it is essential that another significant person believe that dream is possible: that person is a vision carrier, whose faith is often crucial.”
Bolen goes on to discuss how special women have often acted as vision carriers in offering encouragement to notable men, but regrets that it has been less common for men to nurture the Dream for women in their lives. Be that as it may, when we become aware of how important it is to offer encouragement, we can all become Vision Carriers for more people, and the Empress year prompts us to think about how we can offer encouragement on a larger scale. To help understand how this has played out in your life, think about all of the people you’ve encountered who have encouraged you in one way or another.
One can also think of ways that Society has helped nurture some individual dreams. For example, as a youngster in the city of Detroit, my school system sent me to Saturday classes for talented kiddies at the Detroit Art Institute. Each weekend, we carried our boards and easels into a different wing of that museum, to study and translate our inspiration from the art of different cultures and masters; this was very enriching and enabled me to feel special. I believe that when both individual persons as well as social institutions help young people to feel special, they are less likely to become alienated and anti-social.
By the way, a current film that conveys the Empress quality of Vision carrying is the recent Disney animation, “The Princess and the Frog.” If you haven’t seen it yet, I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler if I mention that the prince in the story undergoes major transformations after being turned into a frog. Prince Naveen had always been lazy and selfish, but as a result of his adventures in the swamp with Tiana, he resolves to work hard to make her dreams come true. I have heard that this movie has not done well at the box office, but for magical people, it’s a “must see.” Also, I love the priestess, Mama Odie, and her bottle tree—and the Shadow Man is right up there with the other great Disney villains.
I am a scholar of folklore, psychology, medical anthropology, the material culture of magic, ritual studies, history, and literature. My books include Tarot Spells, Tarot Your Everyday Guide (winner of 2001 Coalition of Visionary Resources award for best Self Help book), Tarot for a New Generation (2002 COVR winner, best General Interest Title), and By Candlelight: Rites for Celebration, Blessing and Prayer (2005 COVR runner-up, Spirituality). I continue to work on multiple books, with ongoing research projects exploring the ways folk magic and medicinal techniques can apply to modern problems, including the modulation of Asperger’s Syndrome and other neuro-sensory processing problems.
More Articles at ATA Quarterly Journal (www.ata-tarot.com, membership required):
Bring Your Ancestors to Life with the Tarot
Change Your Reading, Change Your Reality
Creative Techniques for Mixing Multiple Decks
Dancing Out the Trolls
Tarot and the Archetype of the Twin
Pop in for a Spell!
On the first Sunday of every month from April through November, I hold magical chats at the Triple Goddess Bookstore in Okemos, Michigan, where I teach new divination techniques—doing Tarot readings or other types of readings as part of the group demonstration. I may also lead visitors through magical activities involving Tarot and other types of Oracles, walk people through different types of spells to promote health and well-being, present seasonal enchantments, lecture on folk magic, charms, etc., and offer my opinions on anything else that anyone cares to talk about. These sessions are free and casual, so anyone can pop in or out at any time, (between 1 and 3 p.m.). I also occasionally visit other stores in Michigan.
I am a scatter-brained person who has a hard time remembering everything I want to say, so oftentimes I forget to mention things that would enhance peoples’ magical experience, or better clarify their readings or their understanding of the different topics we cover. Therefore, I am using this blog to bring up a few of the thoughts I have for upcoming sessions--then, afterward, I will offer a retrospective to bring up things I'd like to add—providing that my antiquated computer and rural phone lines enable me to get onto the Internet. Also, I will attempt to answer any questions that anyone thinks of afterward—again, providing that I’m able to get onto the Net. I am also open to other suggestions, or activities that people would like to see repeated.