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Archive for September, 2009

Respect for the Practitioner

When a person makes an appointment for a tarot consultation, reiki session, tutorial, or whatever service s/he desires to avail, the practitioner sets aside time from hir day to offer hir services to the client.  This is a professional service, no less important than an appointment with a physician, dentist, lawyer, or corporate consultant.  It is not a frill, it is deep support for one’s life journey, self-discovery, and healing of the Whole.  If a person cancels an appointment with the practitioner (tarot or otherwise) just because they change their mind, or they’ve decided that being out of town with friends is more fun, or that it’s “just a reading”, this person demonstrates immense disrespect to the practitioner.  That sacred time for insight and wellness is the practitioner’s bread and butter, hir way of earning a living, not just some hobby for a bored housepartner.  More and more, I see the value in a practitioner requesting a deposit for in-person sessions and full pre-payment for on-phone sessions.  This will take effect immediately.

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Lessons from Daughters of the Moon

Last week, I used the Daughters of the Moon Tarot with a client.  Today, I used it for myself.  My penchant for round tarot cards steps forward yet again.  Because my favourite tarot teachers are rooted in the time, I really appreciate the ethos from which the D.O.M. deck sprouted — feminist, egalitarian, culture-shifting, and community-based.  A group of women had a vision for a revised tarot deck and got to it.  Things shifted, but at least three different sets of cards came out of this collective, one of them the D.O.M. 

It would be enriching, I think, to gather a friend or two and collaborate on a set of cards.  Not fancy, not necessarily for mass publication, just to say that a pack of cards (round, of course!) grew from the synergy of two or more friends. 

There’s much to learn from the Daughters of the Moon collaboration.  One, that there’s power in community with a common purpose.  Two, that while it’s good to be rooted in a tradition, it’s OK to deviate and be original.  Three, that chaos and non-agreement can lead to creativity, clarity, and order.  Four, something that is created and offered in love and authenticity will endure.

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An Autumnnal Equinox Reading

Here’s a reading for the Autumn Equinox (today), using the Songs for the Journey Home Tarot.  Feel free to add your own interpretations of these cards, or your own reading with your own deck, in the comments section.

  1. What do we harvest from the light at this time?    6 of Earth Songs, reversed.    The ability to reassemble our fragmented selves in a reliably grounded manner.
  2. What do we harvest from the dark at this time?    Wind Awakening, upright.    The capacity to walk into life’s storms with a focused mind.
  3. What in our world is currently in balance?    2 of Wave Songs, upright.    The value of love, relatedness, and feeling
  4. What in our world is currently out of balance?    Star, reversed.    Our need to get more resources and to have more goodies flow towards us.
  5. How can we bring this back into balance?    3 of Earth Songs, reversed.    Ask ourselves, “Which of these resources do I truly need in order to journey to the centre of who I am?”

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Two Months of Tarot Themes

Out of curiosity, I went through my journal to discover which cards have come up for me over the last couple of months.  I counted single cards of the day as well as entire layouts.  I won’t bore you with all of the stats, but the Major Arcanum that came up the most was the Moon and the most frequent Minor was the Knight of Cups.  In both cases, there were sometimes upright manifestations and reversed.  If I do a two-card focus layout with these cards, the Major as the “what” and the Minor as the “how”, the themes for this two-month time period might be:

  • Learn about guidance by focusing my intuition.
  • Read the signs given to me by people to whom I feel dedicated.
  • Discover a cycle or rhythm to a relationship obsession.
  • Get feedback from specific friends.
  • Give feedback to specific friends.
  • Be a guide to certain targeted groups.

How about YOU?  If you do a card of the day or week, what’s been turning up for you?  What cards keep visiting and what might they be telling you about this time in your life?

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Songs for the Journey Home Tarot

I’m currently using the exquisite Songs for the Journey Home Tarot, a round deck (yes, my love of round cards strikes again!) rich with colour and story.  I first encountered it 10 years ago at the 1999 World Tarot Congress in Chicago while participating in a workshop by Geraldine Amaral.  Someone a couple of rows in front of me had these stunning purple-backed cards and I had to have them.  Found them in the vending room and had a delightful chat with the creators, Dwariko von Sommaruga and Catherine Cook.  The accompanying book is scrumptious.  Every card description is a profound teaching, even without the cards.  I like the description of the readee/querent/client as the “friend”.  And there are very good original meditations and layouts.   Renaming the Major Arcana the Life Songs, the Court Cards the Shell Songs, and the Pips the Hearth Songs is poetic and seems less patriarchal.

Today’s card, Wave Innocence (equivalent, sort of, to the Page of Cups) reminds me to curl up in temenos to experience deep feelings and to flow with Life’s currents.  Good advice today as I’m feeling things deeply and really noticed that when The Two Trees (text by Willie Yeats), a song on Loreena McKennitt’s The Mask and the Mirror CD, came on.  The combination of uilleann pipes and ‘cello is devastatingly  heartmelting.

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Paul, those who know me know how adamant I am about the importance of well-crafted questions in the tarot experience, so I was thrilled to read in Tarot for Life that you advocate the impact of the question and how it can reveal how honestly one is willing to look at oneself. What was your journey to this point of view about questions?

Many years ago, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was my introduction to the power of well-crafted questions as catalysts for evoking people’s deeply held beliefs and wants, as well as for challenging their assumptions. NLP taught me the importance of listening for the presupposition in a question. For example, a question such as “How can I get my husband to end the affair he’s having with his secretary?” tells us the querent believes that she has the power to end the affair, and that it is in her or her husband’s best interest to do so. But if the client has come to the reading to get insights on the matter from her unconscious wisdom, which is how I approach the cards, then her question is misdirected. Instead, I would probably reframe the question as, “What does the marriage need at this time?” It’s a less ego-driven approach to the issue. Other questions I’ve heard that needed refocusing are “Is this job good for me?” (does “good” mean financially sufficient? Intellectually challenging? conveniently located? Low stress?) I’m convinced that some of the greatest value we can give our clients is helping them identify the right questions. An off-reading can be the result of a an off-question.

Because prediction isn’t the focus of my work, I discourage clients from asking questions starting with will or when, as in “When will I meet a romantic partner?” Instead, I might reframe their question, such as, “What will help me attract a romantic partner?” I find that a question like that is more empowering, in that it asserts the client’s role as a creative force in his or her life, rather than as someone waiting for something to happen in an external, passive way.

* What’s the most trance-cracking, life-changing question that you’ve ever
explored through the tarot?

Speaking of questions, James, I love that one!

When people are stuck, I’ve been led to ask provocative questions, such as, “What benefit do you get from keeping things as they are?” or “If you didn’t have that wound, who would you be?” Questions like those can lead to self-revelation, with or without the Tarot.

A question I use in many client readings is a simple, powerful two-card spread I created called “Go/Grow.” The first question/card is simply “What wants to go?” which speaks to something our Higher Self would like us to shed. The second question/card is “What wants to grow?” which indicates a quality or relationship that serves our spiritual evolution. I once did this spread for myself and got my beloved Magician in the “Go” position; “Grow” was the Ace of Cups. Contemplating this, I understood it as a message to let go of the notion that I alone am in charge, and to allow more room for the spiritual, indicated by the Ace. The idea, I felt, was not to reject the Magician outright, but to challenge my belief that I was a “solo act” in the creation of the good in my life. The watery Cups invited me to put a higher priority on my spiritual life, and offered a sense of trust and ease in contrast to the overreliance on my Magician will. The message of that reading was an “aha” then and remains an important learning for me.

* Author and medicine woman Deena Metzger once told a group of us that the time of the luxury of personal neuroses is over. I feel that sentiment
echoed on page 3 of Tarot for Life where you state, “‘Know thyself’ is not
a private indulgence; it is a global imperative.” What personal or
microcosmic transformation have you seen ripple out into the larger whole,
and what role did the tarot play in that?

I have no evidence that the Tarot is helping to make the world a better place, but I do know that some readings offer insights that, if integrated and acted upon, can be transformational. And if we’re doing the work required to transform, others around us will also be changed. In my classes I give the example of a sharp-tongued father who, disturbed at seeing a Tarot card reflect back his own hostility, commits in that moment to cultivate patience and compassion for himself and his children. To the extent that he succeeds, his children start to feel less fear and resentment and enjoy a new sense of safety and self worth. They may come to feel less shamed by their mistakes, and more accepting of their friends’ flaws, too – and those friends, in turn, flourish in that acceptance. The less discordant energy clogging our pipes, the more our potential to be channels for love, vitality, and beauty. And so it ripples out.

I also believe that when we do the deep inner work of understanding the psychic programs we’re running — our motives, beliefs, emotional triggers, shadow – we are less likely to create drama and mischief for ourselves and others. But the Tarot is just a deck of cards unless we’re committed to using the insights we glean from it to consciously raise our vibration. When we do that, it’s a win-win for ourselves and for everybody with whom we come into contact.

* In your section on the Major Arcana, you write that the ultmate joining
of the Magician and the High Priestess is the central theme of the tarot,
that in each Trump we see how these forces combine in different ways to
offer us new opportunities for growth. Fascinating! How has this union
played out in the lives of your clients and in your own life?

I see the Magician as the yang principle of the conscious mind and external activity, and the High Priestess as the yin principle of psychic receptivity and containment. These are the two energies that Temperance is blending, although they’re represented in every Trump: The Hermit integrates the “feminine” interiority of the High Priestess and the “masculine” analytical powers of the Magician; Justice incorporates the “masculine” sword of divine laws with the “feminine” heart of divine compassion. As for your question on how this union has played out in the lives of my clients’ lives and mine, I don’t have an answer big enough! We’re all composites of yin and yang, light and dark, masculine and feminine, and these qualities get expressed in as many different ways as there are human beings. It’s when we try to deny or devalue either polarity that we fall into the suffering and illusion of The Devil.

* Towards the end of Tarot for Life, we’re told that the message of the
cards is simply, “Notice.” Notice what?

Notice whatever piece of the energetic puzzle the card is asking us to understand. But in a larger sense, “notice” means to notice everything! Our behavior. Our thinking. Our judgments and assumptions. The particular lens through which we’re looking at life. Our effect on others. How we’re managing our energy right now, how we manage it when we’re with our boss or with our spouse or our clients. The Tarot offers us a tool to notice what we’re usually too busy to notice, and to see these things symbolically or energetically, and therefore more calmly and accurately.

* What new Paul Quinn projects are currently in the works?

Most immediately, I’m doing a talk at the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, Illinois on Saturday September 12th, and Tarot Talk blog radio with Raven and Georgiana on September 20th. I’m working on a second book, though I’m going to follow the example of The High Priestess and not talk about it, at least not at this early stage of development! Though I don’t post as often as I’d like, I write a blog at www.thespiritedlife.com which features articles on life learnings, intuition, and spiritual growth, with some Tarot content as well. I recently wrote a blog about a reading I gave via the mail for an inmate in a Federal penitentiary.

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Empress of the Morning

white moon
hasn’t set yet
  
       mist-veiled
       vineyard at dawn
  
canada geese wake me
their call summoning the harvest
goldenrod, pale grasses
viriditas prepares to sleep
  
       but why
       so soon?
 
 
 
I was awake around 5:00 a.m.  Took out the Songs for the Journey Home tarot deck and pulled my card for the day: 
 
Empress.     Be creative and generative.  Create an environment in which the seed of fertile imaginings may flourish.  Know what I want to create and give birth to the being within me who knows how to make these projects happen.  Ground my images and visions in the physical reality.  Enjoy the fertile time between night and day (my early rising!).

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