Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Celebrating the Interconnectedness of All Things

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.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

LAMMAS SESSION UPCOMING plus a note to followers

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!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Seashell Divination

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” [113], 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.