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.
To pick up on the previous discussion of 2010 as an Empress Year because 2010 adds up, numerologically, to the Empress’s number “3,” this gives us a way to think of the year in terms of a personality. So, as different events occur in our lives and in the larger world, we can reflect on how these events either relate to or do not relate to Empress qualities. Of course, the same principle applies to our personal Year Cards, so we can also reflect on how well these cards are able to characterize our more personal experience of the year. (See the previous post explaining personal Year Cards.) However, in looking back, it may be easier to associate the card for the year as a whole, (as opposed to the personal Year Card), because there’s a little less math involved.
Thinking of different years as different personalities is a good mnemonic, (i.e., it helps us form memory clusters). When, in later years, we look back on our personal timelines, we might reminisce, “Oh yes, that event happened during an Empress year, and it was followed by that other event in the Emperor year, leading to such-and-such a development in the Hierophant year.” (This example could pertain to a situation where you started acting on a creative dream one year, had established some foundations for it by the next year, and had achieved some social authority in your relative field the following year.)
Also, mindful that 2010 is an Empress year, whenever the Empress comes up in a Tarot reading, you can think about how the matters it pertains to relate to your experience of 2010 as a whole. (Again, this also applies to your personal Year Card.)
Year Cards offer an additional level of interpretation to apply when you are doing tarot readings that involve a time line reaching into the past or future. So, if you are working toward some long-term goal and wondering when you’ll reap the rewards, if the Chariot (#7) comes up in a critical position such as the outcome position, that could—in addition to whatever else that card normally represents--denote the year 2014, (or whichever year is your personal Chariot Year). Similarly, when you are working with card spreads that include a position pertaining to the past, (such as the “below you” position in the Celtic Cross spread, which can sometimes point to past influences that exert an Unconscious motivating force), you might add up the numbers to see if the card in question may also point to a particular year whose significant events left a lasting impression or have some other bearing on the present matter.
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.