Archive for February, 2011

Honouring Transformation

People who are guides, therapists, agents of change, holders of space, facilitators, coaches, healers, and so forth are familiar with the word “transformation”.  We hear it in workshops, read it in self-help books, and banty it about in conversation.

Transformation sounds lovely.  We say that we want to transform our lives, to become better people.  To have a word for it — transformation — makes it sound easy.  Is it?  In a group experience a few years ago, post-Jungian analyst Marion Woodman declared to all of us, “There can be no transformation without sacrifice.  What are you willing to sacrifice in order to transform?”  The room got very quiet as we chewed on this, not entirely liking it, yet knowing in our guts that she was right.

To transform is to change into another form of energy, to transmute into another substance, to undergo a radical alteration, to be stripped and rebuilt.  Reflect on the myriad myths of death and resurrection.  Trump 13’s Great Reaper in the tarot.  Think about Scorpio’s penchant for elimination and total transition.  Pluto’s power to slurp us into an underworld inititiation.  Not always pretty or elegant, but certainly thorough.

To transform takes courage, or at least a willingness to keep journeying without always knowing.  Let’s be honest; not many of us would call out, “Hooray!” if Life said, “OK, I’m going to dismantle you piece by piece, throw out what doesn’t work, keep bits of what does work, knead you like a lump of dough, then gradually construct your real self.”  I’m not sure that it’s about becoming a happier person, but it IS about becoming a more authentic person.

Transformation is noble work; therefore, it deserves to be rescued from buzzword hell.  By all means, let’s transform, but let’s do so conscious that it’s not all bubbles and roses.  What are we willing to sacrifice in order to truly transform? 

Using the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, I asked, “What is transformation?” and received the Hierophant, reversed.  This suggests to me that transformation is a deeply personal initiation ritual and a time-honoured tradition that we carry in our personal and collective psyches.

Please leave comments and questions, my friends.  Let’s have a conversation about transformation.

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The Dance of Birth, Year, & Month

On Thursday evening, five of us gathered to explore how Birth Cards, Year Cards, and Month Cards from the tarot might interact to offer us insight and guidance.  We employed many parts of the brain by using simple math, wordplay, crayon drawings, and story. 

All three types of cards are derived from one’s date of birth.  There are different ways of calculating these.  For Birth Cards, I currently use the system taught by the Tarot School of New York.  For Year Cards, I have recently developed my own means of calculation that seems to be very accurate and relevant.  Month card calculations are my own too.

To work out Birth Cards, add the date, month, century, and year of birth.  That is, the year of birth is divided into two two-digit numbers rather than one four-digit number.  Then we reduce the sum to numbers of 22 or less, because there are 22 Major Arcana.  There’s always a pair so that a continuum or full spectrum of life exploration is possible.  We’ll use my own as an example.  I was born on the 9th of June, 1967.  The math for this is:

9 + 6 + 19 + 67 = 101

This sum will not only be helpful in figuring out Birth Cards, but will come in handy later on for calculating Year and Month Cards.  In this system, if one receives a three-digit sum the first two digits are treated as one number and added to the final digit, so I do this for mine:

10 + 1 = 11          The eleventh Major is Justice, so this is one of my Birth Cards.  It, too, can be reduced:

1 + 1 = 2          The second Major is the High Priestess, so it’s also one of my Birth Cards.  Both of these are mine for a lifetime. 


A person’s Year Cards run from birthday to birthday.  It’s a personal year rather than a regular calendar year.  My method of figuring out Year Cards for any year of life (I’m going to focus on this current one) is to add the date and month of birth to the two sets of two digits of whatever year one is exploring.  In the case of me in my current Year Card energy:

6 + 9 + 20 + 10 = 45

To this, I add my original birth sum of 101, then reduce it to something under 22, in this manner:

45 + 101 = 146                      14 + 6 = 20          The twentieth Major card is Judgement, also known as Aeon or Awakening.

So, for one year, from my last birthday to the next, my Birth Cards — Justice and Priestess — are wearing the costume of Judgement.  It’s as though the lifetime qualities wear Year Card-coloured glasses for 365 days, then changes them when the next birthday arrives.

My card for this month of February, 2011 comes from adding 2 + 20 + 11 and getting 33 to which I add my original birth sum of 101:

33 + 101 = 134                      13 + 4 = 17  therefore my Month Card at the moment is the Star, the seventeenth Trump card.

Our wordplay on Thursday evening first consisted of listing qualities we noticed in each of the four cards we came up with via the math.  My own included the following.

HIGH PRIESTESS:  spirituality, intuition, altered states, meditation, deep feeling, non-verbal Knowing, Dark Feminine, connected with Universe, tuning in, keeper of mysteries.

JUSTICE:  balance, justice, fairness, peace, objectivity, reciprocity, equality, legal matters, equilibrium, stability.

JUDGEMENT:  evolving, maturing, moving one, rite of passage, growing up, progress, entering the next phase, liberation, awakening, true calling, upgrading, stepping over the threshold.

STAR:  resources, abundance, plenty, grace, generosity, directing the flow, in the flow, astrology, ease, humility, the means are at hand, a legacy that shines on.

Then we created sentences that began with the words “this month” and contained elements of all four cards.  My own sentences for February, 2010 include:

  • This month, the legality of tarot reading can progress by working with it easily and gracefully.
  • This month, the Dark Feminine awakens a sense of justice in me through generous reciprocity.
  • This month, objective non-verbal Knowing can be upgraded through astrology.
  • This month, the long-shining legacy of my true calling is in harmony with my spirituality.
  • This month, my abundance is stabilised by stepping into my next level of intuitive awareness.

Our group’s next activity was inspired by Mary Greer.  Using crayons, we each drew a picture in which something from each of our four cards had to appear.  Anything from one card image could interact with any other card’s symbol or character.  After using our self-created pictures to tell “once upon a time”-style stories, we gave our drawings titles and one-sentence summaries.  Then we used those ideas to come up with a doable action or ceremony to perform within 48 hours.  Here’s mine:


Title:  “Our Lady of Thunderous Peace

Summary:  I experience graceful evolution by meditating on peace.

Action/Ceremony to Do:  Play “Dona Nobis Pacem” on Jaiya‘s Invocation CD and chant along with it while offering healing energy to Mother Earth.

Imagine taking an hour or two each month to blend our Birth Cards, Year Card, and Month card, then aligning ourselves with that by performing simple actions.  We’d be more in harmony with our True Selves and with the Cosmos.  Blessed be!

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GT Retreat as Safe Space

I’m thrilled by people’s response so far to the October Gaian Tarot Retreat.  One-third of the spots are now taken and it’s only mid-February.  The Earth is aching to be heard and people yearn to be connected with one another to better hear Her.  It’s simultaneously exhilarating and humbling.  I drew a card from the Gaian Tarot to respond to the question, “What is so invitational about our October retreat?” and received the Four of Air.

The Four of Air suggests that the Gaian Tarot Retreat is:

  • safe space where we can be held with grace
  • a cozy haven
  • time and space in which ideas can gestate and be hatched
  • home-like
  • bits and pieces that are brought together to weave a beautiful container
  • a lived philosophy
  • a chance to walk our talk

What do YOU see in the Four of Air that pertains to our October gathering?  I’d love to read your impressions!

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A Valentine’s Day Wish

This Valentine’s Day,

may all of us remember

our capacity to

offer and receive love gracefully and freely.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


*Image of the m/m version of the Lovers from the Cosmic Tribe Tarot


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Retreat is 1/4 Full!

There seems to be a thirst to hear the pulse of the Earth through tarot and other wisdom ways.  It’s only February and the October Gaian Tarot Retreat is already one-quarter full.  Wow!  I can’t wait to be with my friends and peers in the lovely Ancaster countryside doing circle, ceremony, tarot wisdom readings, workshops, and nature walks.  Will you please join us?  You can sign up at  http://www.gaiantarot.com/retreat/index.html

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Living Your Tarot Session

At the end of their tarot consultations, I often take people through a brief, simple, yet deeply empowering process.  I also do this for myself after exploring an important issue through the cards.

Look at the layout of cards in front of you.  Which SINGLE card stands out to you as something that looks or feels like you’d really like to become it?  Place this card close to you.  Here’s what you can do with it:

1.  Keep a copy of the card where you can see it often.

2.  Once in a while, simply look at the card image and breathe it in and out of your body.  Just notice it and notice your being with it.

3.  Jot down three to six helpful, empowering, positive, evolved qualities that you sense in the card image.

4.  Think of one concrete action you can perform — small and symbolic, big and public, or somewhere in between — over the next 24 HOURS that would look or feel like the qualities you named in #3.

5.  Think of one concrete action you can perform — small and symbolic, big and public, or somewhere in between — over the next WEEK that would look or feel like the qualities you named in #3.

6.  Think of one concrete action you can perform — small and symbolic, big and public, or somewhere in between — over the next MONTH that would look or feel like the qualities you named in #3

7.  Allow the next right thing(s) to emerge from the actions in #s 4-6.

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Images from Imbolc

Last night, Cyrus and I played the tarot game I created for Imbolc.  Each of us received gentle, down-to-earth insights and enjoyed the conversation that emerged from these.  Blessed be Brigid!

Here are a couple of photos.  The cards decorating the middle are from the Greenwood Tarot and the cards we used for the game are from the Gaian Tarot.




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Imbolc/Candlemas Tarot Game

The beginning of February marks Imbolc, also known as Candlemas and the festival of the goddess Brigid.  It’s a time of initiation, the stirring of life under the snows, creativity, healing, the fire of the hearth or forge and the water of the well.  Here’s a tarot circle game for you and your beloved ones to play.  A candlelit supper before or after the game would be a welcome touch.

A.  Gather in a circle — whether around a table, on the floor, or wherever.  Remove any card(s) from your tarot deck that reminds you of Brigid, healing, creativity, fire & water, or initiation and place it in the centre of the playing surface beside a beeswax candle and a small bowl of water. You might also want to surround the card, candle, and water with colourful ribbons (Brigid, Goddess of this festival, blesses colourful ribbons to use for healing/comfort).  Light the candle.

B.  One at a time, each person receives the tarot deck as it’s passed clockwise.  Each person, when s/he receives the pack, says one word or one phrase that lets the group know how s/he is as s/he enters this game(e.g. “I’m feeling grateful for X this evening.” or “Tired, but happy to be with you all today.” or “Curious about what we’re about to do.”).  Then s/he mixes the deck and picks three cards at random before passing the pack to the person on hir left.  This continues until everyone has checked in and has three cards in their hands.

C.  Three rounds are played clockwise (each round’s topic is below).  During each, every player gets a turn to lay a card on the surface in front of hir and use its image to inspire a continuation of the open sentence provided.  This is done one at a time.  Each player can expand on the sentence as much as s/he chooses.

  • FIRST ROUND: “The seeds of creativity that I need to plant at this time include _________.”
  • SECOND ROUND: “What will forge these creative endeavours into being is _________.”
  • THIRD ROUND: “The healing that can occur as a result of this creative process is _________.”

D.  After everyone’s cards have been played, allow a fruitful, respectful conversation to unfold, continuing until it reaches a natural conclusion.

E.  For the final round, the tarot deck is passed around counterclockwise.   One at a time, people receive it, express gratitude for one thing
they’ve heard or said during the game, mix their three cards back into the pack, and pass it to the person on their right.

F.  After everyone’s cards have been returned to the deck, the central card is shuffled back into the pack and the candle is extinguished.  If ribbons have adorned the centre, a lovely gesture is to distribute them to the players to take home with them.

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