I use tarot and oracle cards as tools for reflection and contemplation. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."
"The goal isn't to arrive, but to meander, to saunter, to make your life a holy wandering." ~ Rami Shapiro

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

More Than Just the Problem

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Fiddler (Devil); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, the 'Crocodile:'
          Wild Spirit shows up today, a trickster that brings unexpected chaos that can make the mind go into fear mode. I've been in near constant pain for two days, barely able to shuffle around. My mind has plenty to say about it, 99% of it untrue. When I focus on those thoughts, they become the Crocodile. This story from Pema Chodron illustrates the obstacles and danger it represents:

A student on a meditation retreat came to see the teacher in a tizzy. He said, "My back hurts, and I'm going to have to leave the retreat, and..." The teacher replied, "What I hear you saying is that your back hurts..." The student continued, "Yes it hurts, and I will have to leave and the people here will think I'm a big loser..." Teacher: "What I hear you saying is that your back hurts..." Student: "Yes, and the people here will think I'm a loser and my friends back home are going to say I wasted my money and..." Teacher: "What I'm hearing is your back hurts..."

When the mind starts spinning, I lose sight of the positive ways I can care for myself. Only when I stay in the moment can I find the spaciousness to see more than just the problem.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ebbing and Flowing of the Heart

From Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot, the Nine of Water (Cups); from the Saltwater Reading Cards, 'Tides:'
          The Nine of Water/Cups generally implies a time of contentment and emotional well-being. The waterfall in this card suggests an active effort in keeping my 'cup' full rather than letting it go dry. It's much easier to get sucked into despair than to keep looking for the good in life. Mirabai's poem is a wonderful reminder:
I know a cure for sadness:
Let your hands touch something that
makes your eyes smile.
I bet there are a hundred objects close by
that can do that.
Look at
beauty’s gift to us–
her power is so great she enlivens
the earth, the sky, our
The Tides card represents cycles, both short (tides, sunrise/sunset) and long (moon phases, seasons). If I want to live peaceably, I must follow the natural cycles of life rather than attempt to rush them or slow them down. Yet if I take Mirabai's advice in keeping my heart full, I'll be better able to embrace whatever cycle may be waxing or waning.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Practice without an End Goal

This week I'll be using Poppy Palin's Waking the Wild Spirit tarot deck, published by Llewellyn. I'll also be using the 2nd edition of her companion book, Stories of the Wild Spirit, published by Slippery Jacks Press. I'll also be drawing from Saltwater Reading Cards, created by Laura Bowen and published by Rockpool Publishing. Today's cards are the Two of Water (Cups) and 'Whale:'
          Palin's keyword for this Two of Water/Cups is 'dream,' but not the random nighttime kind. This is an intentional mental picture that turns the mind toward what is healing and what brings reconciliation. Many people who meditate for the first time (or irregularly) feel like it uncorks a bottle of nonstop, arbitrary thoughts and feelings. What they don't realize is that this is the same indiscriminate thinking that flows in the background of their mind all day long; without attention, it isn't noticed. Tonglen and Metta meditation are good examples of working with conditioned patterns - both cultivate tenderness and compassion towards ourselves and others. Yet sometimes spiritual work can make us feel like a self-improvement project that never shows much progress. Here Whale appears, breaching through the surface of the ocean and reminding us to take a breath of air. Psychiatrist Mark Epstein emphasizes that the point of meditation is not supposed to be goal-oriented. Instead, it allows us to objectively watch our thoughts and emotions so that we see them as impermanent rather than solid; there's no need to react to them. We can open to the flow of spacious 'nowness' always available to us - a fresh breath of air.

Past and future preoccupy us because we are trying to control things, while being in the present necessitates openness to the unexpected...We surrender to impermanence when we meditate. Wherever it may lead. Mark Epstein

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Factual Foundations

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Ace of Wands; from Rory's Story Cubes, the 'Pyramid:'
           This Ace of Wands is spouting quite a few leaves, suggesting the inspirational or motivational idea behind it carries a lot of energy. The faces imply a look back at the past (no need to repeat mistakes) and a look to the future (making plans). But the eyes are front and center, fully focused on the present and what needs to be done now. The sleeping faces that make up the roots definitely need to be woken up; a strong foundation will be needed to bear the weight of future development. The Pyramid signifies a large project that is going to require a lot of hard work, patience, and attention to detail. I found some interesting information about the construction of the Egyptian pyramids on the Ancient History Encyclopedia website:
These workers were not foreign slaves but Egyptians who were either recruited for labor as a religious sacrifice, volunteered as community service, or were paid for their time and talents. Archaeological excavations have found no evidence of forced labor on the pyramids at Giza nor on any of the other monuments of Egypt. The popular impression of Hebrew slaves toiling under the lash to build the pyramids comes from the biblical Book of Exodus and nowhere else save fictions and films which have popularized the story.
I've always believed slave labor built the pyramids, not paid workers or those who considered their toil a spiritual offering. I'm reminded that no matter what I create, I should make sure I build on facts and not assumptions.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Skill Set

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Nine of Pentacles; from Rory's Story Cubes, 'Clock:'
          Here's a different take on the usual Nine of Pentacles; Wegmuller doesn't use a woman but two men. Perhaps the fellow on the bottom gave this guy his first job, was a teacher who inspired him or a mentor who trained him. Whoever he may be, the guy on top has done the work and reaped the rewards. Hopefully, he's learned not only to take time to enjoy the fruits of his labor but how to mindfully manage them too. The Clock reminds me of how quickly knowledge, skills and equipment can become dated (clocks with hands vs. digital clocks). Like typewriters and cassette tapes, all things eventually follow the dinosaurs to extinction. Even the guidelines for diet and exercise have changed over the years (remember the original food pyramid?). Maintaining independence and self-sufficiency is a never-ending job!
Your life can only get better when you do.
 – Brian Tracy

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Power or Compassion

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune; from Rory's Story Cubes, 'Ray gun:'
          We divide the world into good or bad, 'like me' or 'not like me.' From those judgments come beliefs about whether some person or group is deserving of our respect, compassion or even our attention. Yet just as the Wheel shows through the progression of a flower's growth and death, we all have to deal with life on life's terms. Everyone wants to be safe, well and happy. But we all must deal with sickness, aging, and death. Isn't that enough of a common bond to look with kindness on our fellow man? Our current government is under the impression that power rather than compassion will get us what we want. Perhaps the leadership believes the saying that "the person who dies with the most toys wins." In reality, the person just dies (and is likely best remembered as a greedy, egocentric ass). I'd like to use the Ray gun not to obliterate those entitled folks, but to zap them into someone else's shoes for 24 hours. Trent Gilliss once wrote, "Behind each of us is a deep story." May we take the time to benevolently consider the many chapters in another's life, especially those of which we're unaware.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Afflict the Comfortable

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Four of Wands; from Rory's Story Cubes, 'Waves:'
          It would be easy to judge this Four of Wands as four kings getting together to discuss the mass of humanity under their watch. But since each king wears a symbol of one of the tarot suits, it may be more personal. That ball of hands and eyes could represent me, and the questions asked by the kings might sound something like this:

  • Is she motivated and inspired by anything? How's her energy and confidence?
  • Is she a good steward of not only her finances and material possessions, but also her health and time?
  • Does she keep her own cup filled while reaching out to others? Can she express her emotions skillfully and maintain balanced relationships?
  • Is her mind open? Does she continue to add to her knowledge? Does she speak the truth?
Since this is supposed to be a celebratory card, I would hope they find some assets to discuss as well as improvements that could be made. The Waves die implies 'making waves' - to disturb the status quo. The job of those kings won't be to 'comfort the afflicted' but rather to 'afflict the comfortable.' "Stay awake and keep paddling," they tell me.