Archive for 2012

No End Times Here

At various times this year, people have asked me, “James, what do you think about December 21, 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar thing?”  My honest response is that I don’t really think about it that much. 

Various astrologers have said that there’s no particularly interesting planetary alignment tomorrow, it’s simply Winter Solstice as it always is.  I love this.  For me, the natural ebbing then growing of light as the seasons progress is one of the most elegant and reliable rituals.

I plan to honour the Solstice with my partner and a few other close people, but not get caught in the New Age “end of things” energy.  I truly hope that it’s the end of the way that our culture has been.  Thousands of years of patriarchy, power-over, fear-mongering in the name of religion, and abuse of one another and our planet aren’t exactly humanity at its finest.  However, I don’t expect sizzling fireballs and whooshing waves to engulf us.  I don’t anticipate any saviour(s) from the sky.  We’re it.  We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.  If any shift will happen, it will because we’ve made that choice today, tomorrow, and as often as possible.

I do expect to see a lot of 2012-themed books in bookstore bargain bins from December 22 onward as people realise that life goes on.  Yes, we need myths by which to live, but let’s be discerning about them.  One of my hopes about tomorrow is that someone with apocalyptic tendencies doesn’t latch on to the theme and do something harmful with it.  Let’s simply be with Nature’s rhythmic procession of deepening night and birthing sunlight, noticing and celebrating where we’re mirrored in that progression.

From the Camoin-Jodorowsky Tarot de Marseille, I’ve drawn a card to respond to, “What can humanity expect on December 21, 2012?”  The Chariot, reversed suggests:

  • taking control of our own inner lives
  • deeper inward journeys
  • victory over ourselves
  • riding in to be our own rescuers
  • directing or controlling rapid personal growth
  • managing our own mental-emotional processes
  • in some cases, doing battle with ourselves about what’s really going on
  • in some cases, the archetype of the warrior being acted out in unconscious ways

What does the Chariot, reversed say through YOU about December 21?

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In Response to Yesterday’s Tragedies

Yesterday, 20 children and six adults were shot dead in a school in Newtown, Connecticut and 22 children were stabbed (but lived) in Beijing, China.  These shocking events are leaving people numb, enraged, sorrowful, confused.  At first, I thought, “You know what?  Maybe the world blowing into dust on December 21, 2012 wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.  Then Life could start over and do a better job.”  Then, I remembered a phrase that teacher, shaman, ceremonialist, and musician Chris Reynolds said to a group of us last week: “When you don’t want to be here, it’s an act of violence toward the Earth.”  Remembering that moved me to tears and snapped me out of my cynicism.

We need to process the trauma and grief.  Each of us has ways to do so in the face of such moments.  My own ways include using the tarot to help sort out my thoughts and feelings, journal writing, and being in collaborative conversation with peers.  Here, my intention is to offer what came to me as I asked questions and drew tarot cards from the 1JJ tarot deck.  Please feel free to join the conversation in the Comments section.  It’s a highly charged event, so let’s please honour each other’s point of view and simply comment on the questions, cards, and responses.  Thank you in advance for that.

  1. What is the root cause of events such as what occurred in Newtown and Beijing yesterday?     XXI, The World, reversed.     Feeling that the various aspects of self are separate or fractured.  Being caught up in one’s own inner world without noticing others.
  2. What is our first step in healing that separation, fracturing, and lack of awareness of others?     5 of Pentacles, upright.     Make changes in health programmes.  Interrupt patterns of physical violence or abuse.
  3. What resources can help us to make those changes?     XIIII, Temperance, upright.     Inclusivity and integration, making art, willingness to find unity and commonality, meetings between people and groups who don’t usually mix together.
  4. What is our least healthy or least helpful response to yesterday’s events?     8 of Pentacles, upright.     Stinginess with tangible resources.  Cutting back anything health-related.
  5. What is our most healthy or most helpful response to yesterday’s events?     XI, Strength, reversed.     Do what’s necessary to survive emotionally.  Use our strongest inner coping mechanisms to ensure psychological survival.
  6. What do the survivors of those events most need from us at this time?     King of Pentacles, reversed.     The termination of our unconscious suicidal tendencies.  A willingness to disengage from our outworn security platitudes.
  7. What questions are we invited to carry with us as a result of yesterday’s events?     4 of Cups, reversed.     What addiction(s) am I tempted to act on?  What steps am I willing to take toward healing and recovery?  How can I embody my relationship with the Great Mystery in this moment?  How can I demonstrate self-love here and now?  What does acting with depth and intimacy really look like?

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12 – 12 -12

Today is 12 – 12 – 12, the only time in our lifetime that these numbers will configure like this on the Western calendar.  A lot of people are speaking of whatever significance this has.

Number 12 in the tarot is the Hanged Man.  So, we have three hanging men/people side by side.  The Hanged Man, for me, can connote waiting, hanging around, suspension, time out, surrender…

Therefore, what does 12 – 12 – 12 signify for me?

Nothing.  It’s simply another day on Earth.  Let’s get on with living it.



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What’s Next on Your Path? Please Join Us!

TAROT and ADIEWA: Partners in Soul Work

Offered by James Wells and Sue Guttenstein
January 27th, 2013 (full moon)

Allow who you believe you are to dissolve in the service of becoming who you truly are
Join us for a Source-guided experience supported by tarot and
ADIEWA Resonant Voice and Embodied Consciousness practices

Both the tarot as James Wells works with it and ADIEWA practices developed by Sue Guttenstein with Jane Lindsay are intended to bring into conscious awareness that which is difficult to access with our day-to-day ways of being. We can then be present with this information in non-linear, deeply intuitive and embodied ways to guide us toward and through change.

We believe that this way of working together will allow you to access in a deep soul way what is next on your path of transformational work and then, if called for, to work through any contractions that may be present in order to clear your way forward.

Plan for the day:
Finding the highest good collective intention (Tarot)
Deepening presence (ADIEWA)
Opening to our own personal work for the day (Tarot)
Working with contractions and/or expansions if called for (ADIEWA)
Guidance forward

Location: Transense Healing Arts Centre, 344 Bloor Street West #610
Time: 10 – 5
Cost: $75 in advance (recommended) or $85 at the door – PayPal, money order, cheque, or cash

For more information, and to reserve your spot by pre-registering, contact either
sueg@adiewacentre.com (Sue) or circleways@yahoo.ca (James)

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More Than “Dinner Out”

My partner, the two young people in our life, and I went out for dinner last night.  “So what?” you might ask.  Well, when the young people are with us, we usually have dinner at home.  It’s often (not always) a time to have some food before getting on with something else, not always together.  Last night was different.

Sitting in the restaurant booth, enjoying our pad thai, spring rolls, and sushi, we really spent time together.  We shared silly jokes, some conversation about what’s going on in our respective forms of education or work, and hopes and wishes for the coming year.  One member of the group had had a stressful situation earlier in the day, so we held a brief round of listening council around the question, “What does each of us know how to do in order to calm ourselves in difficult situations?”  We learned more about each other’s resourcefulness and, I hope, expanded our own resources.

What was different?  I feel that we were more deeply engaged because we took ourselves out of our usual setting, away from our usual distractions and activities.  There are many ways to set up such conditions.  Creating a conscious structure such as circle process allows people to relate more attentively and respectfully.  Going on retreat in a beautiful natural setting provides a respite from the buzz and roar of everday life so we can listen with more care to ourselves, one another, and the more-than-human members of Earth.  Meeting at a nearby tea shop can make sure that we don’t have to attend to the minutiae of food and beverage, so we can visit with less interruption.

For me, all of these ways, and more, are ways of being in council.  They’re not necessarily about escaping from the world, but rather they’re about growing cells of heart and connectivity in the midst of a culture that’s top-heavy with head and separation.   The more of these cells we cultivate, the more grounded, sane, and healthy we can be, as individuals AND as a species.

So, our dinner out last night was much more than dinner out.  It was a bit of good medicine.

What about YOU?  In what ways do YOU cultivate heart and connectivity?  What takes YOU out of the routine and into conscious sharing time?  Please tell us.  We’re listening.



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What do you imagine?

I’m designing a new business card/brochure/postcard for my tarot work.  Here’s the text I’ve come up with.  What do YOU perceive as you look at the text?  What experience do you imagine taking place as you read the words?  Please let me know in the Comments section of this blog entry.


Compassionate consultations with symbolic cards to help you:

  • receive insightful feedback about yourself and your situation(s)
  • enhance your resourcefulness and creativity
  • approach your life with more empowerment
  • evolve into your best possible self



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Your Card of the Day: A Few Tips

Many people, myself included, draw a card of the day (CotD) from their tarot pack or other insight-inspiring deck.  It’s a good way to touch base with one’s inner teacher, to learn more about the cards, and to get a sense of one’s self on a particular day.  Some people find the CotD challenging to comprehend.  Is it advice?  Is it forecasting?  Is it personal insight?  Is it something else?  Here are four tips to help you get more out of your CotD:

  1. Do some journal writing beforehand.  Whether you do morning pages, proprioceptive writing, or a just a simple inventory of what’s in your heart and on your mind in your journal prior to pulling your CotD, the card will be more meaningful to you.
  2. Ask a specific open-ended question to focus your intention for the CotD.  Some good ones include: By what wisdom can I live today?  What part of myself seeks healthy expression today?  What do I most need to know or learn today?  What does the interaction between today and me look like?  What is my greatest resource today?  What is my most helpful strategy today?  What cue tells me that I’m on track with _____ today?
  3. In the morning, jot down a few thoughts about your CotD.  At night, revisit the card, reflect on the day you’ve experienced, and find your inner and outer experiences in the card’s concepts and symbols.
  4. Write down any helpful, evolved qualities that you perceive in your CotD.  Turn these qualities into doable, concrete, manageable actions to perform that day.  Embody the card instead of intellectualising about it.

What ideas do YOU have to help people understand their card of the day?  Please share in the Comments section.

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A Relationship Spread

Recently on Facebook, a member of one of the groups was wondering what kind of tarot spread s/he could do to explore the intimate relationship s/he’s currently experiencing.  There was a curiosity about its potentials and how it might better meet hir needs.  I suggested that s/he lay out eight cards in any pattern that pleases hir with these questions in mind:

1. What was the nature of the relationship between Name and me at the beginning?
2. What is the current nature of the relationship between Name and me?
3. What is the best that this relationship with Name can be by [specifiy a date or time frame here]?
4. What am I receiving from the relationship that I truly require?
5. What do I require from this relationship that I am not receiving?
6. How can I respectfully request this from Name?
7. What is Name’s most likely response to this request?
8. What is the most important thing for me to know or learn about this relationship between Name and me?

I hope that some of you find this helpful, not only in romantic relationships, but also in your exploration of business partnerships, friendships, connections with blood family members, and more.  Please feel free to leave feedback in the Comments section.

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Four More Good Books

It feels like another good time to share what I’ve been reading with you.  Here are four books that are enriching me, personally and professionally.  I hope that they nourish you in some way, too.

Tarot Face to Face: Using the Cards in Your Everyday Life (Marcus Katz & Tali Goodwin).  This practical and enjoyable text gets us using the cards right away with essential skills and methods to help us notice and interpret tarot symbols with ease.  My favourite activities include dialogue with the cards (a very fluid manner of doing a reading), the finding possibilities method (very helpful for people who need a shot of hope), the telling a person’s story method (a simple yet deep way to do a two-part reading in any setting), the oracular poetry activity (creative, interactive, and surprising), and the tarot walk (a great way to personalise one’s knowledge of the cards through the “real” world).  People of many levels of tarot experience will find something of value.

The Friar of Carcassonne: Revolt Against the Inquisition in the Last Days of the Cathars (Stephen O’Shea).  The story of Bernard Délicieux, a Franciscan friar who denounced the inquisition’s (and the church’s) misuse of authority and abuse of power in late 13th and early 14th century Languedoc.  His spiritual conviction and his dedication to his homeland are inspiring.  Reading this reminds me of the dangers of any form of fundamentalism, the soullessness of any institution that craftily changes its original mission in order to simply keep perpetuating itself, and the beauty and power of living one’s authentic spirituality in our world.  History that’s compelling to read.

Partner Earth: A Spiritual Ecology (Pam Montgomery).  The author points out the split that exists within us and in our culture between the physical and the spiritual, then she invites us to rediscover and reaffirm our partnership with Earth and all its beings.  We are introduced to devas, energy beings who are allies in healing the split.  Montgomery keeps it simple, suggesting that no one needs to be “special” or “psychic” to tune in to Nature, partner with it, and engage in healing of self and world.  It’s our birthright.

Intuitive Astrology: Follow Your Best Instincts to Become Who You Always Intended to Be (Elizabeth Rose Campbell).  I’m actually revisiting this book, something I do every couple of years or so.  The astrological birth chart is not treated as a fatalistic statement, but rather is seen and employed as a map and creative springboard for uncovering our most profound questions and our own responses to those questions.  Twelve people’s real-life stories are featured to make the concepts useable and inspirational.  Chapter Eight, my favourite, puts it all together.  We’re guided through our astrological birth chart in order to identify and/or affirm our dreams, discover inner and outer resources and allies to support those dreams, give them a home in the world, and amp up the joy level so we can really thrive in this lifetime.  A treat from cover to cover!  Sadly, Campbell died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 52.

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Planets in Cards: Guides for My Work

I like to tune in to my work in a variety of ways so that I can make sure it is authentic for me and helpful and useful to those who consult me.  One interesting way is to use the tarot to illuminate parts of my astrological birth chart.  I often use a system of correspondences from the Golden Dawn and Builders of the Adytum that connects certain planets and signs to specific tarot cards.  This time, I thought I’d try a different system, so I used the Tarot of the Holy Light by Christine Payne-Towler and Michael Dowers. 

My focus was on the 10th House of my chart, the section of the diagram that is related to career, public reputation, what one does consistently in the outer world. 

I have Neptune in Scorpio in the Tenth House.  According to Payne-Towler’s system, I looked at the Sun (Pisces/Neptune), Temperance (Scorpio) and the Tower (Capricorn/10th House) in order to gain some more insight into my work.  Using some of her key words and phrases, I came up with these combinations:

  • In my work, the life-giving source teaches people through breakthroughs.
  • The revelation of people’s true nature acts as spiritual medicine.
  • I guide people through revelatory experiences that reconcile perceived opposites in themselves and in their lives.
  • The heart is suddenly released in order to become the primary teacher.
  • The true centre breaks through and radiates harmony.

I used three court cards from the Tarot of the Holy Light in the same way.  For Payne-Towler, the Knight of Cups is Pisces (Neptune here), the King of Cups is Scorpio, and the Queen of Disks is Capricorn (10th House here).  These suggest to me that:

  • I’m a poetic and practical guide.
  • I’m the tribe’s oracle who gets in touch with primal forces and returns from that experience with stories that evoke others’ practical intuition.
  • I’m a shamanic troubadour who guides people to practical advice.
  • My work is a hub for a network of intuitive bards.
  • My work generously guides people to get in touch with the dwelling place of their heart and soul so that they can tune in expertly to instinctual powers and become excellent administrators of their everyday lives.

I love these ideas!  It’s enjoyable to use the tarot and astrology in this creative way to brainstorm possibilities for my work.  This activity provides me with more images and phrases to guide me as I offer tarot counselling, circle process, and other wisdom ways in our world.

What’s YOUR special blend of guiding images and words?  You can share ideas here AND you and I can explore it together in a personal session or in a workshop setting.  Let me know!

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