Archive for January, 2011

Gaian Tarot Retreat going like hotcakes!

Out of the 36 spots for our Gaian Tarot Retreat in October, seven spots are already taken.  Wow, people are fast!

If you’d like to join us for this one-time event, please click here and sign up:



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Tarot of the Sidhe

A few days ago, I received my copy of the Tarot of the Sidhe, a pack of cards by Emily Carding.  Sidhe (pronounced Shee) is a Gaelic word that refers to the realm and beings of Faery/Spirit/Otherworld and this deck of radiant images conveys that flavour.

The Tarot of the Sidhe is structured traditionally: 22 major cards and four suits of 14 cards each.  Justice and Strength are numbered in the continental manner with Justice as VIII and Strength as XI.  The Hierophant or Pope has been renamed the Elder and the Devil has been renamed Pan since, in most pagan worldviews that I’ve encountered, there is no ultimate earthly spiritual authority and there is no such thing as an ultimate source of evil.  The majors’ numbers appear at the top of the card and their names appear at the bottom.

Court/People cards are called Princess, Prince, Queen, and King.  The four suits are named differently in accordance with a Knowing that Carding received one day in her kitchen.  The Air suit is called Dreamers instead of Swords.  The Fire Suit’s name is Warriors in place of Wands.  Dancers, rather than Cups, make up the Water suit.  And Makers, instead of Pentacles, carries the Earth energy.  At the top of each minor card is the card’s name and on the bottom is a key word or phrase.

Executed in ink and watercolour, the Tarot of the Sidhe‘s pictures swirl with multiple hues and visionary themes.  They are immediately appealing and engage my imagination, intuition, and creativity.  This deck is most definitely NOT a Rider-Waite-Smith wannabe.  Each image is framed by a black border, providing (for me) a sense of focus, a sort of doorway through which one can enter the scene.  There’s a sense that the artist really entered the Sidhe and imported some pictures back with her.

The backs of the cards are black with a white spiral known as the Great Glyph of the Sidhe, itself a potent tool for reflection and discovery.  This symbol also appears in every major arcanum.  Last night, I took a shamanic journey with the intent to find out what the Glyph can teach me.  I was told that it can be a portal to my multi-dimensional self/selves and multiple dimensions.  It’s also a pathway to the centre of my soul, a route to my Core True Self.

The accompanying booklet is extremely helpful.  It’s not the usual collection of blather that one sees about “this card means that”.  For each card, Carding provides a poetic oracular utterance before one even reads a single card meaning — beautiful!  These prophetic phrases can act as divinatory messages or the starting point for spoken ceremonial text.  Each major arcanum is also given an Artist’s Note that describes what the image is about and even a bit about the process of drawing and painting.  Useful layouts are also contained in the booklet (thank Life that the celtic cross spread doesn’t rear its head here!).  There’s also a section on meditation and other uses with the cards.

I asked the Tarot of the Sidhe a question about itself: What is your true purpose?  After I mixed the cards, it responded with the Warrior Ten (its traditional equivalent would be the 10 of Wands).

Emily Carding

The Warrior Ten tells me that the Tarot of the Sidhe’s purpose is to be a bridge between the realms of the seen and unseen, sleeping and waking, night and day, dark and light, the unconscious and the conscious.  It’s a tool for those who walk between the worlds and a means to honour the ancestors who have paved ways that allow us to be who we are and to do what we do.  Part of the deck’s purpose might be to be under-appreciated so that it may subtly infiltrate the vapidity of our culture and prevent us from falling into its alluring pit.  Its purpose is to serve the Greater Good, no matter what.  The oracular message in the book reads:

Who thinks of the sacrifice as they cross?

Who weeps for knowledge of the bridge’s loss?

He knows the task is worth the pain,

His suffering is for a greater gain

I heartily recommend the Tarot of the Sidhe as a tool for deep divination, personal discovery, and making dynamic shifts.  If you enjoy using the tarot and feel a pull “to the waters and the wild” (Yeats’ words) of Faery, you’ll want to own a set of these cards.  If you’d like to try them during a consultation with me, I’ll be very happy to pull them out and use them for your session.

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Stylish Blogger Award for Circle Ways!

Today, I received the Stylish Blogger Award from Janet Boyer.  What a delightful surprise!  Heartfelt gratitude to Janet for this.

The guidelines for accepting this award are to:

*Thank and link to the person who awarded you this award
*Share 7 things about yourself
*Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers
*Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

About me (James):

1. Began to use the tarot at age 12.  It’s a key tool in my life and work.
2. I LOVE circle process and ways that are rooted in it.
3. Cooking is a relaxing pastime for me (and eating!).
4. I live in a lovely tree-filled neighbourhood in Toronto, ON.
5. My Tarot for Manifestation book is due to come out from Tarot Media Company very soon.
6. I’m a openly man-loving man.
7. I derive great satisfaction from writing blog entries and reading people’s comments.

I’d like to pass this Stylish Blogger Award to:

1.   Mary K. Greer of Mary K. Greer’s Tarot Blog

2.  Christina Baldwin of StoryCatcher

3.  Joanna Powell Colbert of Gaian Soul

4.  Judy Nathan of Divining/Designing

5.  Beth Owl’s Daughter of Owl’s Wings

6.  Andy Matzner of Tarot Bomb

7.  Lunaea Weatherstone of At Brigid’s Forge

8.  Deena Metzger of Ruin and Beauty

9.  Andrea Mathieson of Raven Essences

10.  Andrew McGregor of Hermit’s Lamp Tarot Blog

There are many more wonderful bloggers out there.  Thank you all for keeping the web of connection vibrating.

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Love Earth? Love Tarot? Join us!

There’s a very cool retreat taking place this October and you need to be there!

Check out the details at


Please join us!

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The Seven Whispers

On this multi-stop journey through my spiritual practice, we now encounter the Seven Whispers.  These are seven phrases of grounded spiritual wisdom that came to author and PeerSpirit circle process co-founder Christina Baldwin.  She turned these into a lovely book, bite-sized and portable, that I read at least twice a year.  The Seven Whispers are part of my morning recitations and they are:

Maintain peace of mind

Move at the pace of guidance

Practice certainty of purpose

Surrender to surprise

Ask for what you need and offer what you can

Love the folks in front of you

Return to the world

There is so much to these.  They, like so much else that I recite, are a way of life, not just words.  They are so rich that I encourage you to read the book.  Christina even has a free downloadable study guide available for groups ( http://www.peerspirit.com/gifts/Seven-Whispers-StudyGuide.pdf ).  So please gather your fellow journeyers and explore these subtle yet powerful phrases together.

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Presence & Consciousness

Another of my morning utterances is


This phrase came to me as a result of several influences.

First, my primary “serious” tarot book, back in the 1980s, was Choice Centered Tarot by Gail Fairfield.  Not only did it teach me about tarot, it opened up a way of life to me that was about living by choice rather than by fate.  It’s a book that’s less about predicting a set outcome and more about noticing what’s here in the moment so that one can be aware of the options that are present.  When one can see the options, one can make cleaner, healthier choices, should one choose.

Second, reiki is more than a hands-on energy modality, although that’s a part of it.  It’s a way of life that includes living “for today only” — i.e. in the present moment — as much as possible.  If we’re living in the now, we’re less likely to get attached to what has been and what has not yet happened (and probably won’t happen); therefore, less stress and more health.

Third, participating twice in a study circle about The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin brought me to a realisation that what many practices are about are staying in the moment and being conscious of what’s here now.  From that place of awareness, we can create our lives rather than wait for them to happen and we can choose our responses to the unexpected rather than react to them.

All of this isn’t to say that I’ve perfected presence and consciousness.  Note that I still recite, “Be present; choose consciously” every day as a reminder to self.

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Reciprocal Healing: Another Personal Practice

Another component of my morning recitations is this:

O Infinite Mystery;

may all that I do today

and all that I am today

contribute to the healing of our world,

and may I be open enough today

to allow the world to contribute to my healing.


These words invite a flow of healing thoughts, words, and deeds from me to Earth and all of her inhabitants.  They also remind me to be open to whatever life-giving things are available to me in every moment.  They’re not just words, they’re a practice rooted in being part of the council of Life.  This reciprocity is delicious and enlivening.

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Remembering Wholeness: Another Practice

Besides many images of the Sacred Feminine, my altar holds a statue of Asklepios, the god of healing through dreams.  Another of my morning recitations is a brief prayer to him that is often some variation on this:

Hail, Asklepios, god of dreams and healing;

thank you for guidance and thank you for my innate wholeness.

This utterance helps me feel connected to the healthiest parts of myself and acts as a reminder that at my core I am already whole.  To reflect on my wholeness rather than approaching my life from what’s “wrong” helps me to treat fellow humans and all of creation in an equally respectful manner.  As they say in Appreciative Inquiry, “What we focus on becomes our reality.


One of my favourite quotes by Eckart Tolle is:

In the deeper dimension of Being, you are complete and whole NOW.

My short Asklepian prayer keeps me in that energy.

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A Goddess Prayer, Part of My Practice

Continuing to wend our way backwards through my daily practice of personal centring, I now offer you the prayer I speak at the end of my morning recitations.  It’s the Hail Mother, a text from one of Jennifer Berezan’s CDs, She Carries Me, that can be heard in the background of the chant “She who hears the cries of the world”.  Here’s the prayer:

Hail, Mother, full of grace,

power is with thee.

Blessed are you, Queen of the Universe,

and blessed is all of creation.

Holy Mother, maker of all things,

be with us now and always.

Blessed Be.

This is obviously a re-working of the christian “Hail, Mary” prayer, but, for me, this version is a greater affirmation of the Sacred Feminine.  If at home, I recite it while looking at various figures and images on my altar: several renditions of the Black Madonna (the Sacred Dark Feminine), the Sleeping Woman of Malta (whom my friend Wende calls Sounding Dream Woman), and the High Priestess from the Tarot of the Spirit.  I also look at as many places on the ground and in the trees as possible, remembering that the Earth is the Mother Goddess, that all of creation is, in a sense, the Creatrix.  If not at home, I notice where I am and envision the Earth, the solar system, and the Milky Way.

What prayer sums things up for YOU?  Whom or what do you honour in your speech and thoughts?  What image(s) best depicts your part of the conversation with that being(s)?  We’d love to hear your heartwords here.

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Card of the Day Practice, Part Two

Just a few more thoughts on the Card of the Day as a spiritual practice.

As I’ve already said, the morning tarot card is less about guessing what’s going to happen and more about embodying the best wisdom of that card for the day.  Drawing a random card from the tarot deck gives us the opportunity to try on one of 78 (or more) aspects of ourselves.  It can be reassuring to be who we think we are and it can be refreshing to be invited to try on another piece of self for a day or so.  I’ve often been surprised by my card of the day and allowed myself to be stretched beyond who I thought I was going to be.

A recent example happened a few days ago.  I thought that I would have a High Priestess sort of day — serene, spiritual, deep, quiet, intuitive — as I had a couple of tarot sessions to offer, then some quiet time set aside.  However, the card I pulled in the morning was the Tower — be a catalyst, speak with thunder, get to the point as quick as lightning, shake up the status quo, and the like.  My first client wanted to meander off topic and seemed generally foggy.  So, remembering to be more Tower-like, I broke in with, “This all feels lost to me.  Let’s get razor sharp about why we’re here today.  If you could change one thing in your life right now, what would it be?  Don’t think, just respond!”  S/He did and we had a fabulous consultation.  Later on, my quiet time became more vigorous when I realised that my body didn’t want to sit, it wanted to move.  So I got out a couple of dumbells and did 15 minutes of exercise.  Zap!

The picture on a daily card often pops back into my mind’s eye when I need to remember it.  Today’s Ace of Swords with its single blade piercing a laurel-decorated crown came into my inner vision during a conversation when everyone needed be witnessed equally.  The mental image reminded me to pierce through anyone’s need to be more victorious than the other.  I listened, used language that treated us all as peers, and remained reasonable.  Helpful for all concerned.

Our CotD can also teach us more about the tarot’s nuances of meaning.  A good practice is to reflect on how the card’s concepts and symbols might have fit into the day that was just lived.  Our pre-sleep integrative inquiry can help us to do so.  By applying what was really lived over the course of the day to the card we pulled earlier on can help us learn more about the card itself.  Personal experience adds flavourful depth to our readings for/with others.

What other thoughts do YOU have about the Card of the Day practice?  Please inspire us!

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