Archive for November, 2010

Kids Love Tarot

At a loved one’s place, his kids, aged 12 and 8, saw my Tarot de Marseilles on the table and were instantly fascinated by the colours, patterns, and characters.  They asked a few questions and what the cards might mean with regard to those questions.  It opened up a short, lovely conversation and everyone enjoyed themselves.  When the 12-year old boy asked if they’re cards to help us figure out our future, I responded that they’re cards for learning about ourselves right now so we can create a better future.  The 8-year old girl loved that the Ace of Cups could mean “new friends”, because it affirmed that the connections she’s making in her new school are good.  Using tarot cards for games, stories, and processes with children is a great way to plant positive images and life-affirming ideas in their lives.  Keep it simple and fun!

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Experience Helps the Helper

The people I most admire as helpers, healers, agents of change, or whatever one chooses to call them have one thing in common; their work is informed by personal experience.  Exhilarating joy, heart-crushing misery, rosy-cheeked health, and ashen illness have been poured into the well of wisdom from which these people drink, regardless of whether their tool is tarot, ceremony, reiki, council, herbalism, astrology, psychotherapy, or shamanism.  This quote by John (Fire) Lame Deer — which I found on Page 2 of Alejandro Jodoroksy’s Psychomagic — says it all:

A medicine man shouldn’t be a saint.  He should experience and feel all the ups and downs, the despair and the joy, the magic and the reality, the courage and fear of his people.  He should be able to sink as low as a bug or soar like an eagle…Being a good medicine man means being right in the midst of the turmoil, not shielding yourself from it.  It means experiencing life in all its phases.  It means not being afraid of cutting up and playing the fool now and then.  That’s sacred too.

 I’m reminded of something that I remind people who come to me.  To be on a spiritual path does NOT exempt us from anything that life brings; it simply helps us to hold these things in a different way.


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Journal Prompts

No matter what spiritual path one chooses to walk or what tool(s) of insight one selects to support that journey, one of the most valuable things one can do is to keep a journal.

A journal is more than a “Dear Diary”, though that can certainly be a part of it.  A journal, for me, is a record of my life, both the external events and my internal responses to those events.  It’s also a creative playground; my workshops and ideas often emerge from the raw material in my journal.  A journal is a superb listening companion for those times when a human ear just isn’t available or when therapy is too expensive.  On my journal’s pages, I paste collages, write poems, rant about what bothers me, offer gratitude for what nourishes me, and track my emotional territory.  I’ve even splashed tea on one page, folded it onto the next one, seen the pattern it created, and written about it.

A helpful thing to do is to create a list of incomplete sentences that I like to call open sentences.  These act as prompts for those moments when I need a boost to get my journal writing off the ground.  You can select one on purpose or close your eyes and point to one.  Then you write down the incomplete phrase and continue to write without editing.  You’ll be surprised at what comes forth on the page.

Here are a few sample prompts to get you started:

  • The thing that I most want to write about today is…
  • The thing that I’m too scared to write about is…
  • What I most love about myself is…
  • What I’m afraid to admit about myself is…
  • If I were an animal, I’d be…
  • If I were a tree/plant, I’d be…
  • I am like today’s weather because…
  • If I knew my life purpose, I’d be engaged in activities such as…
  • If there were a legend about my birth, it would be…
  • My epitaph should read…
  • Dear [Name], What I most want to tell you is…
  • Life sucks when…
  • Life is worth celebrating when…
  • What I most want to heal in myself is…
  • I feel whole when…
  • What is completely unacceptable to have in my life is…
  • Something that I absolutely must have in my life is…
  • At my core, I believe…
  • I wish that I could believe in…
  • The mystery that I came to solve in this lifetime is…

Now come up with at least 20 of your own open sentences to use as journal prompts.  These can also be used to generate discussion in circle-based groups.  Please let us know what you come up with!

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I Love the Gifting Bones!

Once in a while, a non-tarot tool for divination (i.e. knowing our divine self), insight, and consciousness comes along and catches my attention.  Recently, I came across the Gifting Bones by Jesse Wolf Hardin who teaches at the Anima Center in New Mexico.  I love the Gifting Bones!  Hardin suggests that one could think of them as contemporary Gaian runes.

Within the accompanying drawstring bag lie 18 ceramic “bones”.  There’s a symbol on each side, one red (active, overt, in motion, catalysing, etc.) and one black (receptive, inner, still, silent, etc.).  Neither symbol is inherently good nor bad, but rather each is an aspect of the same spectrum of meaning.  Pairings include names like Song & Silence, Feast & Fast, Molt & Armor, Humor & Gravity, Migration & Home.  The tactile enjoyment of the Bones is an additional dimension to the experience of consulting them — so smooth and holdable.

Hardin roots the Gifting Bones in Nature.  His approach to consulting them is very appealing to me, because it’s grounded in choice, presence, potentials, and relatedness.  The creator/author suggests that one pick four bones to represent relationship to self, relationship to other people, relationship to Nature/Earth, and relationship to Spirit/Mystery/Wholeness.  One receives a multi-dimensional view of one’s life and situation(s), rippling from the personal to the transpersonal.  Of course, I intend to employ my own layouts with the Bones, even though Hardin’s way is wholistic and deeply satisfying.  A session with them feels very much like being in council with all the beings.

Here’s a reading that I did with the Gifting Bones about themselves:

  1. What is the nature of your relationship with yourself?  GRAVITYThe Bones take themselves seriously as agents of transformation and empowerment.  They respect the authenticity of who they are.
  2. What is the nature of your relationship with human people?  DISPERSALThe Bones apportion themselves to people according to the needs of those people in the moment.  Each bag of Gifting Bones travels to those who need it most.
  3. What is the nature of your relationship with Nature/Earth?  FEASTThe Bones feast on the bounteous beauty of Nature.  They are ambassadors of Earth’s plenty and generosity.
  4. What is the nature of your relationship with Spirit/Wholeness?  HUMILITYThe Bones serve Spirit fully and profoundly.  They are in awe of the Infinite Mystery and they surrender their self-respect, service, and generosity to the Whole.

Jesse Wolf Hardin sends background and interpretive notes upon receiving one’s order for the Gifting Bones.  You can order your own set of these by scrolling close to the bottom of the Anima Center’s books & music page.  May your relationship with them be dedicated to the well-being of all of life.  Blessed be.

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Do We Dare Answer These Questions?

Today, our monthly mastermind circle met.  Two themes that emerged for all of us were standing in our own truth and doing what we came here to do.  This raises six (more?) questions to be explored or unpacked in council, via the tarot, in therapy, in coaching, in the journal, through dreamwork, or wherever/however works for each of us:

  • What is my truth?
  • How can I stand in this truth authentically?
  • What did I come to Earth to do?
  • How can I do it authentically?
  • What is the shadow side of life purpose?
  • How can I work with and integrate this shadow material authentically?

A lifetime in six sentences.  If we excavate them and respond with honesty, the answers could interfere with status quo.  That’s a good thing.

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CotD Review as Learning Tool

A really good way to learn more about a tarot card’s potential meanings is to pull a card of the day (CotD) in the morning, jot down some ideas that come to mind about it, then spend a few minutes reviewing the day before going to bed.  You may end up adding more ideas to your CotD musings.  You’ll be clearer about how your earlier interpretations were helpful and correct, but in ways that you might not have expected.  Here’s an example from my own journal, using yesterday’s CotD, the Tower.


Morning Journal Entry:

TOWER.  Be a catalyst for insight & change.  Bolt-from-the-sky inspiration.  An old structure is coming apart.  Shaking things up on all levels and in all aspects of life.  Surprise!  Impossible to continue life as before.  Purification.  A sense of urgency (deadline?).  General overturning.  Overthrow of false consciousness, values, or belief.  De-structuring old forms.

Evening Journal Entry:

Reviewing the day, here’s how the Tower card manifested for me today:

  1. Be a catalyst for insight & change = doing a tarot session for client and seeing hir light up with realisation.
  2. Old structures coming apart AND de-structuring old forms = me consciously dismantling the way that [Name] and I have related with one another.
  3. Surprise = after several months of no contact, A. ‘phoned me an hour ago.
  4. Sense of urgency (deadline?) = the deadline for Readers Studio 2011 study group proposals is Nov. 10, so I finished writing them and sent them in.
  5. Sudden change = the piano tuner called to change the piano tuning appointment from Thursday to tomorrow.
  6. Bolt-from-the-sky inspiration = to show [Client Name] the “Co-Creator’s Handbook” because the cards reminded me of its concepts.  Later on, I created a tarot layout based on the book’s 10 sections.
  7. Purification = my body clearing the lungs and nose after a week of having a cold.
  8. Impossible to continue life as before = [Name] and I now consider ourselves to be in this form of relationship, and there’s no going back at this point.
  9. General overturning = route interfered with by construction at Glen Rd., and Elm Ave.  Also, the systems meltdown at [Name]’s office.
  10. Overthrow of false consciousness, values, or belief = I refuse to receive shallow monosyllabic or monosentence responses when I’m attempting to engage in real conversation.  So I will no longer initiate deep conversation with those who don’t wish to converse in a deeper manner.  I choose to be more council-like in conversation with an intimate loved one.

Not only am I clearer about certain things in my life, my awareness of what the Tower can be about is widened.

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Samhain Tarot Prayer

At yesterday’s Daré, we remembered this special time of year and held council around why it’s important to honour the ancestors and, if we have ways to connect with them, how we do so.  Then we had the opportunity to do so through drumming, rattling, movement, chanting, silence, artwork, journalling, divination, or however we chose to connect.  While the wonderful sounds reverberated around me, I asked four questions and pulled a tarot card from Cilla Conway’s Intuitive Tarot for each one.  I asked and received:

  1. What do the ancestors need from me,  EMPRESSSomeone to look after and care for.
  2. How can I appropriately offer this to them?  MOONNotice their guidance in dreams and creatively ceremonialise these dreams.
  3. What do I need from the ancestors?  HANGED MANThe gifts of patience and surrender.
  4. How can I appropriately receive this from them?  7 of DISCSSet aside personal rest and retreat time, perhaps once every seven days.

I then turned these ideas into a prayer that I recited aloud while rattling.  It was also shared in the round of council which followed.

O you who need someone to care for

I offer you my prayers for guidance

O you who need someone with whom to dream

I offer you the bejewelled ceremony of my nocturnal visions

O you who patiently surrender to what is

I offer you my uncertainty and paradox

O you who are sabbath islands of repose

I offer you one silent hour of my week

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Paradox and Tarot

At this, our third and final station on the path of the Three Ps of the Feminine as they relate to the tarot, we spend time with paradox.

Perhaps the greatest paradox of a tarot consultation is that, when it comes right down to it, seeking wisdom by putting some colourful picture cards down on the table is downright goofy, yet something deep and helpful is evoked from one’s Inner Teacher.   ‘What the heck am I doing here exposing my heart, mind, and soul to a flippin’ deck of cards? ‘ is something that I imagine runs through the heads of first-time clients.  “Wow, that was really helpful!” is often what I hear by the end of the session.  I love it!

Many times, one card seems to contradict another.  At first glance, this can seem confusing.  This confusion is a note from the Inner Teacher that says something like this: You are cordially invited to a self-discovery party.  Follow the path of unease and contradiction and cross the threshold at “Aha!”

Even within a single card, one can experience a great deal of paradox.  An older meaning for the 5 of Pentacles is “lucky in love or marriage”.  Since the times of the Golden Dawn, its meaning has shifted to “material worry”.  Huh?  Which one is it?  How about both?  Paradox in the 5 of Pentacles could be reminding us that while our material or physical well-being sucks, we have someone who will companion us through the hard times.

A traditional tarot layout, the celtic cross, begins with paradox.  For me, the two central cards in this spread depict the tension of holding this and that, one end of our experiential spectrum and the other end of the same.  After exploring this core pair of cards, we have a sense of the paradox in which we’re currently living and can explore its nuances through the other layout positions.

Another celtic cross example of paradox exists in the penultimate position of the layout, Hopes and Fears.  People sometimes wonder how to interpret a card that falls in this position: “Is it what I hope for or what I fear?”  It’s often both.  What I most hope for can be scary.  If I get it, then my life will change.  While one part of me says, “Wow, I can’t wait for such-and-such to happen, it’ll be so great!” another aspect of me is saying, “Uh-oh, that’s change, and change equals death.  Eek!”  Any card that appears in the Hopes and Fears spot is a visual story of me holding the opposites of gleeful anticipation and gut-gurgling worry.  And it’s a way for me to grow closer to my maturity.

I asked the tarot, “What is paradox?” and recieved the Wheel of Fortune, reversed.  So paradox is:

  • praying for something to be set in motion, then stepping aside to let it unfold in its own way
  • an experience of spiritual and psychological roulette
  • sensing “fate” as the sum of our personal choices
  • moving our spirits forward while spinning in place
  • an integral piece of the great cosmic dance

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