Friday, August 30, 2013


Sometimes we forget that Labor Day was created to honor labor, which Hannah Arendt described as the most human expression of the Life Force.  I have long been interested in the way that tarot artists portray scenes of labor, particularly in the Pentacles and Wands cards, because labor is such an important part of the balance of life.  And in the way that I always come back to the Rider-Waite-Smith [RWS] deck, even though I now have a large collection of decks, with many more beautifully illustrated, I find that Pamela Coleman Smith seems to do the most with scenes of the working life.  (At least in the decks I’m familiar with.)

Below is a tarot spell for attracting more creative work into your life, or bringing more creativity into the work that you have.  It uses “Three” cards, because Three is the number of creativity, but also brings in communications and community, which nourish and stimulate the creative life.  (For more on this topic, see my previous post, June 9, 2013, on “Tarot of Celebration.”)  The creative person needs to strike the right balance, because one also needs focused time to go inside one’s head and concentrate on the work.

            When you lay down the first card, the Three of Wands, think about how the exchange of ideas, including cross-cultural exchanges and modern communications media (such as the Internet), have contributed to the whole world of creative expression.  Think about ways that you can take greater advantage of these networks of energy, because, in magical thinking, everything translates into energy.  Envision yourself at the center of some very active enterprises, where goods and ideas are continually coming in and continually going out.

            With the next card, the Three of Pentacles, visualize yourself hard at work, enjoying the altered state of consciousness—the sense of being outside of Time—that focused work can generate.  Think about how you can bring a workman-like, artisanal quality to everything you do.  Also, just as the RWS version of this card shows the craftsman conferring with others, think about the people who are in a position to bring you work, and the people who are in a position to appreciate—or at least benefit from--your work, and how your relationship with them also adds meaning to your life and work.  (This “relationship” includes people we never even meet.)

            Finally, set the Three of Cups in place while thinking about how your life and work are enhanced by being a part of a community of celebration, and also the ways in which you can bring the creative element into communal pleasures.  Think about work itself as part of The Beautiful Life, and how, through your work, you are part of the dance of life.

Looking over the spread as a whole, note that 3+3+3=9, which multiplies the creative effect, with Nine being the self-replicating number in magical numerology.  If you’ve been living like a hermit, you could put Major Arcana card Nine, The Hermit, under the Three of Pentacles.  This honors your need for creative solitude, but, in relation to the rest of the spread, affirms your willingness to engage in creative exchanges with others, (as many historical and legendary hermits turned into generous guides and hosts when the occasion arose).  Some women might prefer to put the Nine of Pentacles under the Three of Pentacles.

By the way, if you happen to find yourself in lower mid-Michigan this Labor Day weekend, I shall be at the Triple Goddess bookstore in Lansing, (as I always am on the first Sunday of the month, from April through November), from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on September 1st.  Because this is also the time of year when many of us are going back to school, I’ll be demonstrating an exercise called “Entering the Magical Academy,” using Corrine Kenner’s “Wizards Tarot.”  This exercise is about getting the most out of this new semester in the School of Life, and includes identifying a “hidden teacher” card.  I shall also be discussing magical techniques for enhancing mental potency.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tarot of Celebration

Last Sunday I demonstrated the Dollhouse Oracle, where we insert tarot cards into the different rooms of cardboard, fold-out, pop-up dollhouses while posing the question, “Please give me a look into the house of my life.”  The cards are then interpreted in line with the metaphorical associations of the different rooms.  As I recall, someone got the 3 of Cups (or some other Cups or other card with celebrational images), I think in the living or dining room, and we discussed ways the cards can denote a community of celebration, and how being part of such a community might be expressed in your home life, as well as your life at large.

In the context of the Dollhouse Oracle, having those types of cards in those rooms speaks well of your ability to communicate and connect.  With the 3 of Cups specifically, (which typically features three garlanded dancing women, reminiscent of the Three Graces), I see it as the three C’s: community, connection, and celebration.  One could add communication to that, or the idea that communication proceeds from connection with community.  When giving advice readings for myself and others, I find the Three of Cups as a recurring card for people who tend to isolate themselves.  If you want to lead a more magical life, you do need time alone for quiet reflection, but you also need to connect with other people in order to benefit from the networks of energy through which magic can flow.

It is interesting to see how different tarot artists convey their ideas of celebration as part of the beautiful life in their illustrations of different cards.  (We get other glimpses of Pamela Coleman Smith’s ideals in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck’s 4 of Wands and 10 of Cups.)   If you want to invite celebrational energies into your home or larger life, or if you have some friends that you enjoy hanging out with, but you want to bring a little more magical energy into your get-togethers, here are some images from the Joanna Powell Colbert’s “Gaian” tarot that can inspire some ideas for community connections:

Powell also shows images of community gatherings in the other Six cards, with the Six of Earth showing people interacting at a farmers’ market, and the Six of Air showing people engaged in some type of group movement exercise.  (These cards also portray people of different genders and races.)  Also, her Eight of Air features a man explaining the use of a feathered prayer wand to a group of people.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Fairy gardens were a topic of discussion at last week’s magical chat session, so I want to expand on some of the things we talked about.  Because a lot of fairies are attracted to things that sparkle, it is fun to work shiny objects into your garden décor.  One idea is to tie beads to the branches of a favorite bush or small tree.  Note that the Pomo Indians of California gave beads as offerings to nature spirits.  (I’d have to check my sources, but I think sometimes they’d scatter the beads, and sometimes they’d tie a thong with a few beads on it to the limb of a tree.)  Some Eastern woodland Indians referred to beads as “Manitou berries."

Of course, many common items of garden décor, such as twirlers, sun catchers, wind chimes, and wind mills incorporate shiny features.  Those large garden balls, called gazing globes or reflecting globes, are said to enhance a garden’s fertility by reflecting multiple images of its vegetation.  I think they go back to the Renaissance, and although their intent may have originally been purely decorative, the magical applications were quickly recognized.

Shiny objects also bring “the flash of spirit” into your garden.  This is an important feature of African-American “yard shows” (and grave decorations), because it acknowledges the world of spiritual power, while also invoking its protective influences.  (Refer to Robert Farris Thompson’s book, “The Flash of Spirit.”)  I get into some of these concepts in my magical chat for July, when we explore “The Magic of Shining.”  Shining/sparkling qualities are often characteristic of glamour bombs, which are performative art objects created to re-instill the world with a sense of possibility in fairy magic.

Speaking of performative actions, to delight the fairies, you could think about putting on some sort of music or dance or other type of performance while you’re spending time in your fairy garden, because as the naturalist poet Gary Snyder has observed, “Performance is currency in the Deep World’s Gift Economy.”  Anthropologists apply the term “gift economy” to certain gift giving traditions and exchanges within certain types of cultures: in a gift economy, one doesn’t expect immediate reciprocity, yet there is an understanding that the gift creates a bond, and can also be part of a cycle of exchanges (paying it forward) that generate over-all well being.

The Deep World includes spiritual and metaphysical entities and forces, as well as the denizens of Nature, and one can cite numerous cultural practices of putting on performances to honor these beings.  For example, after a major hunt, some Native American groups will honor the spirit of the animal by putting on a song, dance, and masquerade performance.  However, they will also often put on performances for the Animal World and the Spirit World just because it’s the neighborly thing to do.  If we look at the lore of fairies, we find they are also deeply appreciative of performance.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Hi all!  I will be back at the Triple Goddess tomorrow to demonstrate some uses for fairy cards, in honor of the great fairy festival of Beltane.  In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about ways that we can enjoy a good relationship with the fairy folk.

When we look at the role the fairies play in so many different cultural traditions, we see that the fairies’ activities raise the vital energy that enlivens the universe.  Or maybe I should say, “multiverse.”  Actually, I like the Buddhist convention of talking in terms of “the ten thousand world systems.”  When viewed from that perspective, there can also be many different types of fairy realms, and other realms that can feel the influence of fairy magic.
So, if so much of fairy magic is spreading well being, what can we do to generate some good energy to keep the fairies going?  Well, traditionally, some of the most basic things are 1) acknowledging the fairies and their good work through greetings and ritual, 2) setting out suitable offerings, 3) creating beauty--as beautiful words, gestures, things, and places give fairies delight, and 4) engaging in celebrational activities, because festive energies revitalize fairy life.  Of course, in planning your celebrations, be sure to acknowledge the fairies by inviting their participation, set out foodstuffs such as miniature sweets or pour libations in their honor, and be creative about ways to bring beauty and grace into the festivities.

Of course, working with the different fairy decks is another way of acknowledging fairies.  So, now I have something personal to relate.  After drafting the above three paragraphs, I got up to read some fairy cards for myself, as I am about to go out on a walk, and wanted something to muse over, as well as some fairy companions to accompany me.  Well, seconds after pulling cards from assorted decks—and I’m talking seconds, because I don’t think even a minute had passed—I found my little gold mano cornuta necklace & pendant, which I have been looking for for two weeks, and had given up for lost, figuring it had fallen off during one of my walks.  I think the little folk are trying to tell me something, in affirming their existence.  Incidentally, some of the cards I drew were the Brownie from the Mason-Franklin “Fairy Ring” deck, and “Gawtcha,” a fairy type that catches you unawares, from the Froud “Faeries Oracle.”   So, one of my errands today will be to buy a fancy cupcake to set out as an offering, since fairy magic should always be acknowledged with gratitude.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Hey folks, tomorrow is the first Sunday of April, and I shall be resuming my free and casual, first Sunday workshops at the Triple Goddess, (now at their new location on the east side of Lansing).  This year the workshops will run from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (trimmed down a bit). 

The main activity for each month will be the Tarot Round Robin, where we go around the table, focusing on each person in turn, with everyone drawing a card for that person.  These round robins give everyone a chance to have a sort of “mega reading.”  They also give us the chance to become familiar with a greater variety of tarot decks and other oracle decks.  Also, in the Triple Goddess’s new building, it appears we’ll have more table space than previously.  Having more surface space in front of us means we’ll be able to do more with tarot spells.  For example, as we all draw cards for each person’s reading, we can lay down their respective cards in front of them to better see if there are any interesting graphic or other symbolic connections.  Then, if there are some cards that flow together well in terms of making statements about things that people want to manifest in their lives, we can bring the group energy to bear to help make that happen.

By the way, you don’t need to bring a tarot or other deck to participate, because the Triple Goddess lets us use their demonstrator decks, (which is a good opportunity to “test drive” a lot of different decks), and I bring along some spare decks, too.

We’ll also have some sort of seasonal activity or other activity involving tarot and/or magic.  One of the things I hope to achieve with these sessions is show that a small group of people can “do magic” sitting around a table, without a great deal of preparation or props. Also, the techniques we explore are the sort of things you can easily do with other groups, should you be involved in or decide to start your own tarot group or other sort of magical study group, or even as something fun to do when you’re just visiting with friends and family.  Of course, many of the tarot and other techniques can be done as solitary activities, for your own insight.

Here is the new address and contact info for the Triple Goddess: 1824 East Michigan Avenue -- Suite C; Lansing, Michigan 48912; Phone:  (517) 347-2112.  They are about a block WEST of Emil's Restaurant on the same side of the street at the corner of Regent St. and Michigan Ave, (sharing a building with a small brewery).  Also, they have their own parking lot with free parking.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


My apologies for being so long away!  It looks like I really need more Will Power to keep at blogging.  So, on the subject of Will Power, I’ve been thinking about how it relates to different tarot cards, including the Emperor, Strength, the Chariot, and various of the 5s and 7s in the Minor suits.

Consider, for example, the 7 of Wands, and how its energy and determination apply to the Acts of Will needed to bring about change.  To bring about change, you need to disrupt some conditions of “homeostasis,” which refers to the tendency of things—including the Body-Mind as well as other types of systems—to seek a state of balance where everything stays in place.  Unfortunately, sometimes systems will settle into a state of balance that can be unhealthy or unsatisfactory, and all of the elements within that system seem to conspire to maintain it at that low-functioning level. 

Due to the Body-Mind’s tenacity at preserving its homeostasis—even when the conditions are bad—people who try to make changes for the better, in any area of life, often find that a thousand little things will arise to try to frustrate their efforts.  We can see a hint of this in the Rider-Waite-Smith illustration of the 7 of Wands, which shows a man trying to beat down a number of other wands that are being thrust toward him.  Because of the Body-Mind’s powers of resistance, you have to bear down on yourself in order to stick with any sort of self-improvement program.

The Buddha addressed this problem in the Vitakkasanthana Sutta: after explaining different techniques to get rid of distractions, he said that if they’re still not working for you, you just have to clench your teeth and “crush mind with mind.”  In the graphic illustration included my last blogpost, (November 24, 2012), on “Tarot Card Images for Meditation,” we can see the challenge of distracting thoughts in the background of the Zen Osho deck’s 4 of Cups.

The good news is that sometimes making even a very small change somewhere in your life or in some other sort of system can disrupt the homeostasis enough to reset the elements in that system to function together in a way that is more beneficial.