Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mixing Fairy Cards and Tarot Cards, Part III

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.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mixing Fairy Cards and Tarot Cards, Part II

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.

To be continued.

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 …

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Tarot Rite for Sharing Blessings with Spirit

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.