Archive for April, 2009

Ready for Readers Studio ’09

I’m at my friend Bev’s place in Beamsville, ON.  She, Valerie, and I will take a roadtrip to Newark, NJ tomorrow for the Readers Studio, a yearly tarot event that enthralls me every time.  It’s a treat to reconnect with friends and colleagues and to meet new ones.  The workshops are enlightening and keep my tarot skills fresh.  There are oodles of decks, books, and associated merchandise.  Here’s a brief self-reading using the William Blake Tarot of the Imagination:

How can I maximise my time at Readers Studio ’09, both professionally and personally?

3 of Poetry (Creativity).   The image suggests being open to learning and being generous and open with my knowledge.  Celebrate the creative accomplishments of others and of myself.  Make my mark according to my own vision.  Create my own myth and encourage others to create their own myths.  Be receptive to a completed system that is offered to me for guidance.  The quote on the card is: “I must create a system or be enslav’d by another man’s.  I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.”

This makes me ask the question:  What kind of system would it be helpful for me to create?

9 of Music (Happiness).  A system of being present and not attaching to past feelings, no matter how lovely they were.  A system of emotional and/or relational integration.  A personal path to happiness.  A way to improvise as I go — a bit of a paradox — i.e. a system that emerges in the moment according to current feelings, intuitions, circumstances, people, and requirements.

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Origins of Good Tarot Questions

You know me and my thing about conscious questions.  At yesterday’s tarot practice, this popped out for me.  Good questions come from a topic that emerges from a feeling or emotion.  What helps one emerge from the other is curiosity.  Graphically, it looks something like this:

FEELING > leads, through curiosity, to > TOPIC > leads, through curiosity, to > QUESTIONS

So, to know the questions behind the topic behind the feeling, simply ask yourself, or your readee, something along the lines of:

  • What about ____ are you most curious?
  • What intrigues you most about ____?
  • What do you most want to understand about ____?
  • If you/I could ask anything about ____, what would it be?

Try it.  You’ll like it.

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Surrendering to Beauty

Last night’s recital of medieval music at WonderWorks was delicious.  Works by Hildegard of Bingen, one by an anonymous trouvère, and some from the Libre Vermell.  It was all in honour of Mother Mary and of Mother Earth, a belated and heartfelt Earth Day celebration.  Congratulations to Krystina, Ann-Marie, Billy, and Michael for such a gorgeous offering.

After the performance, which felt like a sacred ritual to me, I wandered up to Bloor Street and poked around Seekers Books.  There, I ran into my friend Mike Herman.  So we went to Pauper’s Pub for a snack and to catch up in person.  What a nice surprise!

Today, the weather in Toronto is superb.  Sunny, warm, and cheerful.  My first day in shorts in sandals this year…aaahhh.  

I’m surrendering to the beauty of last night and today.  Thank you, Life.

I feel like the figure in the RWS version of the Nine of Pentacles — contented and connected with life in a way that suggests a human/humane pace, satisfied with how things are right here and now.

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Your Own Earth Day Reading

This Earth Day, I invite us all to create our own tarot layouts based on whatever version of the World/Universe card calls to us.  Which Trump 21 stands out for you?  What characters and symbols are on it?  What actions or interactions are taking place?  What’s the mood or atmosphere in the card scene?    If you were to imagine yourself as the World card and began to speak with the words, “I am one who…”, what would you continue to say? 

Use your responses to these explorations to come up with open-ended questions that related to Earth Day and eco-consciousness.  Pull tarot cards (or playing cards, or goddess stones, or runes, or whatever) for each question and see what Life has to teach you and us at this time.

Please share your creations with us.  We’re listening!

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Tonight was to be the first of six evenings of my Essentials of Tarot Reading class, a foundational programme that gives people excellent tarot skills upon which to build.  After a lot of people saying they were interested, signing up, then cancelling until only one person was left, I see no reason why I should fanny about with offering this class at all.  People are either committed to learning or not.  I sense an invitation to reformat this material.  I’ll offer Essentials of Tarot Reading as a weekend intensive in November.  If people can’t commit to once a week for six weeks, then perhaps a Friday evening, Saturday 10:00 to 7:00, and Sunday 10:00 to 4:00 would work better.  To learn the material as a class or as a weekend intensive is only $175 per person.  To learn it in a one-on-one tutorial session works out to about $960.  The choice is in the hands of those who wish to learn.

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Connecting With the Ancestors

Last night, several of us gathered at the Institute of Traditional Medicine on Queen Street for an Ancestor (Jiibay) Ceremony, led by Diane Longboat and her pipe-carriers.  It was not only a meaningful ritual, it also helped to raise money for Soul of the Mother, a cause that promotes indigenous wisdom.  The drumming and singing, the prayers offered through the pipe smoke, the dimly lit space, the presence of spiritual peers, and the gentle scent of sweetgrass all took me into a deep place of connection with the first ancestors, the ones who were entrusted with original wisdom.  They asked, “Are you committed to life?, to which I responded, “Yes.”  They then declared, “Prove it!” 

Here’s a tarot layout for you to try.  Lay them in any pattern that feels right.

  1. Who are my most ancient ancestors?
  2. What essential life-affirming truth did they believe and live?
  3. What is their principle message for me at this time?
  4. How can I best honour these ancestors?

Let me know what messages you receive when you do the reading.  It’s important for us all to know who we are, where we come from, and what we’re being asked to do.

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Last night’s tarot class, Changing Our World Through Tarot: A Conversation That Matters, went well.  We used the Major Arcana to dive into what brings grief to our world and to move closer to joy.  It feels ready to present at the Readers Studio at 9:00 p.m (really!) on Friday, May 1 in Newark, New Jersey.  Please join me there!

My friend Judy Nathan has started to make tarot bags.  They’re stunning!  She lives here in Toronto and has been attending my tarot events for a long time.  Her card bags are works of art.  I’m taking a few with me to the Readers Studio for people to buy if they choose.  And I’m certain they’ll choose!

This morning, I saw dandelions for the first time this Spring.  So beautiful against the gradual greening of the grass.  Thank you, Life, for your beauty!

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Kissing Joy as It Flies

My card for today, from the William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination, is the Nine of Music, subtitled “Happiness”.  Certainly today’s sunshine is spreading a great deal of happiness throughout our fair city.  The quote by Blake on the card is:

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

This is an amazing teaching around not getting addicted to the past, no matter how delicious it was.  I can’t hold on to something that no longer exists.  If I try to do so, I’m not in the present or its current joys.  I’m reminded to simply enjoy and kiss each moment as it occurs, yet not attempt to trap it.  It’s a bit like catching a gorgeously coloured butterfly then pinning it to a display board.  Sure, the colours are there, but the life is gone.

A couple of days ago, a ran across the programme from the World Tarot Congress of 1999 which took place in Chicago.  Such a great occasion.  Such wonderful people (some of whom are no longer with us) who have become friends and colleagues.  Incredible workshops filled with soul-opening revelations.  In some ways, I’m tempted to want to relive that whole experience, but I can’t.  It was formational to me, and for that I’m grateful.  But it’s 2009 and I’m in Toronto.

I’m reminded of the reiki precepts.  They begin with the phrase “for today only” or “just for today”.  In other words, whatever our practice is is done here and now, in the moment.  Not five weeks ago, not next year.  Here, today, in the eternal now.

The only things that might be helpful to take with us into the perceived future is any love and wisdom that have touched us.  Anything else needs to take flight.

  • How might you be trying to hold on to a joy that was?
  • How might you live in the present?
  • What love and valuable wisdom do you carry into the now?


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In Honour of Brian Williams

Today marks seven years since Brian Williams died.  Brian was the delightful, brilliant, and sweet creator of several tarot decks, scholar of Italian Renaissance iconography (hence, tarot), and admirer of cabana boys.  His Renaissance Tarot, PoMo Tarot, Ship of Fools Tarot, and Minchiate Tarot are stunning works, the second of them being a bit cheeky yet highly readable.  A couple of years after Brian died, I asked, “So, Brian, how are you these days?” and pulled a card from the PoMo deck.  The response was “Dead”.  So appropriate for a man whose final words included, “Follow your own lazy-ass contradictory bliss.”  Eternal peace to the soul of Brian Williams, taroteer extradinaire.  Blessed be.  Here’s our prayer to “Santo Briano”:

Santo Briano, full of Grace,

To bring a blush to the Oracle’s face,

Tie us up in leather and lace.


Lying in the lap of Eros,

Surrendering to Thanatos,

You whom the gods hold close,


Guide us in wearing wisdom’s glove.

Look down on us from above,

Lead us to the door of love.


Living in a house of trees,

Tempting Mephistopheles,

Possessor of the handsome knees.


Delight in beauty, joy in pain,

Pour your blessings down like rain.

Santo Briano, tie me up again!


(And bless our oracular ejaculations!)


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Hajo Banzhaf R.I.P.

Hajo Banzhaf, author of various books on tarot and astrology, died in the afternoon of 11th of February 2009 at the age of 59 in Munich. His death was quick and unexpected.  I had the good fortune to see and hear Hajo offer tarot presentations at tarot conferences.  His thoughts on the alchemical process as depicted in the Thoth deck was fascinating.  He was brilliant, witty, charming, and highly skilled.  One remembers him dressed up as the Sun.  Eternal light and peace to Hajo Banzhaf in the realm of the Trumps.  Blessed be.

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