Thursday, May 6, 2010

When the Fairies get into your Tarot Deck

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.

To be continued …

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