Archive for March, 2009

This evening, I’ll offer a presentation to the Spirituality in Health Care Network at Bridgepoint Health Centre here in Toronto.  The topic is Tarot: A Map for Living.  I look forward to seeing several of you there and to providing not only information, but also some experiential activities for you to engage with the cards first-hand.

Last night, Steven and I attended a concert of the Toronto Woodwind Quintent and guests.  Good music.  I especially enjoyed the Septet for Wind Instruments by Paul Hindemith.  The closing fugue was fun!

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Mass of the Four Elements

Last night, about a dozen of us gathered at WonderWorks to celebrate the Mass of the Four Elements that I created.  It was alternately joyful and peaceful.  Particularly moving was the communion itself — people handing each other the elemental representations (bread, incense, a lit candle, and a chalice of pomegranate juice) and quietly saying, “Enjoy the element of Earth which is your body”, “Enjoy the element of Air which is your breath”, “Enjoy the element of Fire which is your spirit”, and “Enjoy the element of Water which is your blood.”  There was a real sense that we were connected with one another as well as with all of Life.  One fellow there, Mark, is interested in seeing what we might do with Taizé-style music and nature-based spirituality.  We could create an eco-contemplative service of chanted prayer.  Hmm…

Thank you to Rochelle for hosting us and for reading the first written passage, to Jeannette for bells and sound system, to Mark for offering the second reading, to Ann for leading the litany, and to everyone for taking part.

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The New Tarot…Satisfying

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been revisiting the New Tarot, a black and white deck by Jack Hurley, Rae Hurley, and John Horler, illustrated by Horler. It was published in 1974 by Taroco in Sausalito, California. 

The incredible use of line in these images makes the cards very useful for the projective/gestalt/therapeutic style of tarot consultation.  The pictures are especially alive when witnessed by candlelight (try it!).  I’m also comfortable applying my value and suit system to them.  The cards are a nice shuffleable size too.  See a couple of images below.

I decided to pull out this tarot pack again as a result of reading bits and bobs of Le Tarot Psychologique: Miroir de Soi by the late Dr. Denise Roussel of Montréal, published in 1983.  It was the first tarot deck she used and she references it often.  The remarkable thing about this book is that similar concepts, and even a similar planets-based diamond-shaped layout, appear in Heart of Tarot by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K., published in 2002.  I wonder what the thread of connection is between them all.  If anyone knows, let me know.  Cheers.



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My friend Jeannette (see her link to the right) has been immersing herself in The Work that Reconnects, processes by the great Joanna Macy.  On Saturday, a group of us met near the Distillery District of Toronto in a lovely quiet room to do some of this great work. 

We spent time in partners speaking appreciation for various aspects of creation.  We spoke a litany of mourning for endangered species.  We celebrated the coming to life of the four elements.  And we received letters from Gaia.  There was time to talk, to be in silence, to ritualise, to write, to draw, and to commit to an action.  It was a beautiful day facilitated by Jeannette with tremendous grace.  Here’s a poem I wrote in response to the mourning litany:


from big bang

to tolling bell;

what happened in between?

from blue-green algae

to killing machine;

what happened in between?

from “let there be light”

to “drop the bomb”;

what happened in between?

did we take our divinity

too seriously?

in that case, let my divinity

come out and play.

let something happen

in between despair

and hope;

let something happen

in between inertia

and action;

let something happen

in between gaiacide

and biophilia;

let me be that something

even if i don’t yet

know what

that is.

If you’re able to get to Toronto to experience one of Jeannette’s Work That Reconnects days, please DO.  It’s an astounding paradox of shaking up and reassurance. 

Here is a brief tarot reading, using the Shining Tribe Tarot, about the work that reconnects.

What are the things that most need to be reconnected at this time?     EMPRESS, UPRIGHT and the FOUR OF STONES, REVERSED.     The Great Mother and our deep, grounded reverence for Her.     Mother Earth as she is and our respect for her as it was.     Our desire to nurture others and our need to feel safe.     Women and the sense of their bodies as temples.     Skin and stone.     Beauty in the wildness of Nature and our inner compulsion to build things.

Any other thoughts?  I’m here listening.

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Dreamtarot Invocation Poem

At last night’s session on tarot and dreams, we concluded by creating poems based on symbols from our dreams and cards we drew in connection with those symbols.  The intent was to create a magickal invocation or prayer.  Here’s mine:


trumpet call,

words of scarlet fire

that fly with freedom,

I dine with you at table

arms and hands open to receive:

bring me

true shalom.


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A Spring Card

This morning, I was in love with woodpecker’s rat-tat-tat and robin’s chirrup.  Life-energy shimmered around tree branches.  In the Celtic tradition, we’re approaching mid-Spring, known as the Vernal Equinox.  I went through the face-up Tarot of Transformation to find a card that looked/felt like the connection with Nature I was feeling and decided on the Green Man (traditional equivalent is the Emperor).

Owl and Water have strong meanings for me personally this year.  His stag-like horns and powerful wand feel primal and magickal.  This really feels like my connection with Nature this Spring day.  How about you?  What card would you pick?

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Transparent Fun and Power

My friend Bev was visiting from Beamsville.  We joined other friends at Dora Keogh for St. Patrick’s merriment last night, followed by dinner at Seven Numbers.  Yummo!

Today, we sat with the Transparent Tarot and explored its riches.  Bev did a three-card reading for the day.  After arranging the clear cards in various configurations, we put the Magician in the middle, the Six of Wands overlapping on top, and the Knight of Wands overlapping on the bottom so that the three pictures were united as a column.  The resulting image was astounding — a grounded spiritual supplicant connected with hir True/High/Deep/Best/Divine Self via a double current of energy channelled through magickal serpents.  Wow!  We both got shivers.  Need I say that Bev now wants a copy of the Transparent Tarot?

Kudos to Emily Carding for such an innovative pack of cards!

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St. Paddy’s and Being Oneself

Last night, I popped into Dora Keogh, the nearby Irish pub, to pick up tickets for tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.  It’ll be great fun!  However, I enter the celebration in cautionary mode.  The story about Patrick driving snakes out of Ireland is, for me, a story of churchianity driving indigenous Goddess-centred spirituality out of the people of that land.  So, on St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll celebrate my Celtic heritage, but with an awareness of the goddess-ness of that heritage, NOT with any glorification of someone who worked at converting people and destroying their spiritual legacy.  All forms of conversion are arrogant, a demonstration of a group’s/person’s insecurities about its faith or practice.  If one’s beliefs, practices, sexuality, identity, or anything else are secure and grounded, there need not be any fear around someone else’s beliefs, practices, sexuality, identity, or anything else.  There is no healthy alternative to being oneself.

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The Deck Itself as Layout or Map

My card for today is the 6 of Swords from the Thoth deck.  Its astrological correspondence is Mercury in Aquarius.  Mercury connects us with communication, education, and intelligence while Aquarius plugs us into liberation, innovation, and expressing undeniable truths.  So, what liberating piece of information will I write about today?

What comes to mind is that a liberating way to do tarot consultations might be without an actual layout, but rather with the structure of the tarot itself.  When the readee arrives, the Majors and Minors are all laid out in their respective orders.  The client then states what’s on hir mind and we find a card in the array that most corresponds with that situation or experience.  We find the larger concept that could be behind it, then see what’s next in any row or column that could offer a solution, or at least a next step.

For example, the Thoth deck is laid out on the table.  A man comes in and states that he’s worried about the state of his finances.  This draws my attention to the 5 of Disks, subtitled Worry.  The card’s connection with Mercury in Taurus could tell us that something was communicated to him about productivity, that he was taught that it would behoove him to learn slowly and steadily about money, or that he feels he knows all he needs to know about making his way in the world.

The 5 of Disks’ numerical correspondence with the Hierophant (fifth Major) tells us that the larger learning/principle behind his worries is about beliefs, learning & teaching, tradition, morals, religion, and the like.  His financial worries could be the arena for learning to question inherited beliefs and to tune into what his own beliefs are.  What patterns does he engage in because his parents, teachers, and religious models did so?  How much of that does he truly believe in the present?  What’s his own philosophy about how life ticks?

Now we can look at the map before us to find a next step.  In the way the deck is arranged face-up on the surface, the Five of Swords (called Defeat) is above the Five of Disks.  The client says he doesn’t want to defeat anything, rather he chooses to come into feeling a sense of personal power around his financial stewardship.  Aha!  Right beside the Five of Disks is the Four of Disks (Power) and its astrological correspondence is Sun in Capricorn.  Next steps for this client might be to make tangible structures the centre of his financial life, to be playful in marketing his business, and/or to allow a great teacher to shine hir practical wisdom on him.  So I ask the man which of these sounds doable.  He responds that the first two feel right, so we brainstorm the types of financial structures that could be central to his life and a couple of enjoyable public events that could attract his ideal paying clientele.

The deck itself has acted as a map or layout for what we needed to explore.

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I Dream of Shin

A few days ago, I had an intuitive sense that I need to meditate for the next while on one of the Major Arcana.  I asked the cards, “What is the best approach to this?” and the answer was the Hanged One — wait.  Not my favourite piece of advice, but oh well, time to wait.

The next night I had a dream in which I was reading a large red book with gold letters on the front of it, half in Hebrew, half in English.  I remember that the first Hebrew letter on the cover was Shin.  For me, Shin corresponds to the Judgement/Aeon card in the Majors.  Shin begins the word shofar, the ram’s horn blown at the new year, just like the angel in many versions of Judgement blows a big trumpet to wake us up.  Shin also begins shalom — peace, wholeness, perfection.  One of the dream characters said it’s good for us to strive for peace and joy.

Shin/Judgement, for me, connects with the planet Pluto, our instinct to transform and to express our personal power.  What transformative process can lead me to my true power within?  Judgement/Aeon is known as the Spirit of the Primal Fire.  How am I that?  If not, in what way am I called to be that spirit?  Translated, Shin means “tooth”.  What might I need to chew on?  bite off? 

I suspect that the dreamweaver within responded clearly to my question about which tarot trump I need to integrate through meditation, contemplation, and action.  Trump 20 it is!  A different version of this card will go on my shrine every two or three days.  I began with the Thoth version.  Today, I put up the Shining Tribe image, called Awakening in that deck.  In a few days, I’ll replace it with the B.O.T.A. version of Judgement.

Who can I become by doing this?  What new good might I contribute to myself and to my community/world by becoming Shin/Judgemen/Aeon/Pluto/Spirit of Primal Fire?  Let’s find out!

On March 19th, I’ll offer a session on Tarot and Dreams in my space here in Toronto.  What a great way to lead into it!

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