Archive for August, 2012

Medicine Woman Inner Guidebook: What a Good Map!

Helpers, healers, and counsellors need help, healing, and counsel as much as anyone.  If we’re going to be of value to our clients and to our culture, we need to do the work (whatever form that takes for each of us) on ourselves.  My own practices of journalling, drawing a card for daily wisdom, and reciting phrases that remind me to be present and choose consciously all help.  Sitting in council with my peers and having my words and thoughts mirrored is of benefit.  My yearly check-in with a tarot mentor is a boon.

My latest mode of personal growth and constructive change is a return to The Medicine Woman Inner Guidebook by Carol Bridges.  This 239-page book accompanies the Medicine Woman Tarot, also designed by Bridges, one of my favourite packs of cards (among several).  Even without the cards, the book is a real repository of wisdom.  I’m slowly reading and re-reading certain parts in order to stay on track in my work as a tarot consultant, host of council circles, writer, and teacher.  Bridges’s viewpoint as the reader journeys through the structure of the tarot is one of wholism and sustainability.  More and more, I’m deepening into the structure of the deck — Majors and the progression of the four suits — as a template for living.

Besides meanings and some text in which each card speaks for itself, there are meditations, visualisations, and activities to carry out.  The Seed (Fool) reminds me to remain open to flow and to do something I’ve always wanted to do.  Resources (Magician) invites me to support only that which enhances the good with my money, time, and thoughts.  The Seeker (High Priestess) helped me look at long- and short-term cycles, to notice patterns, and to listen to the intuitive knowing of my body.  Bounty (Empress) took me for a nature walk in nearby parks and ravines. 

One of the most powerful activities I’ve done so far comes from the chapter on Command (Emperor).  The Chief in this card asked me to choose a challenging area in my life and to write down one-sentence synopses of my beliefs around it.  According to the Command chapter, those were the laws by which I was living that aspect of existence.  The invitation was then to rewrite each of them as a new “law” by which to govern that part of my life (like a chief or emperor) and remind myself of them often.  Then, since “command” is about working with a force that is already flowing, my duty as Chief of this part of me is to place those new laws and all activities connected with them into an already-happening flow of energy.  The results are showing!  I can’t wait to take these fresh personal laws and all associated actions to the Peacemaker (Hierophant) for refining.

The Medicine Woman Inner Guidebook is one brilliant example of a programme that employs the structure of the tarot as a map for walking this earthwalk in a good way.  There are others, too, but I wanted to bring this one to your attention at this time because I’m currently working with it in my own soul pilgrimage.  If you get a chance to read and work with it, please do.  And the deck reads well, too.

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Another Layout to Try

As you know, I like to work with the tarot in a spacious, interactive way.  A client and I can sometimes spend five to ten minutes on a single card until we get to the nugget that the symbols wants to call forth from the person’s inner teacher.  It is in this way that I invite you to spend time with this new layout.  There might only be four cards, but do give yourself an hour or so to really soak in the experience of them.  Questions 1 and 2 take us to the issue and what it wants to teach us.  Questions 3 and 4 help us to incorporate and live the knowledge or wisdom that emerges.  This spread, too, will be going into my new book, so please remember to credit me if you decide to use it with anyone.  I appreciate your respect in this matter.

“General” Tarot Counselling Layout

[1]   [2]   [3]   [4]

  1. What would like to be explored in this tarot session?
  2. What do I need to know or learn about it?
  3. How can I integrate this knowledge/teaching?
  4. What question am I invited to contemplate outside of this tarot session?

I’d be delighted to receive your feedback about the use of this layout.  And I’d be delighted to guide you through this spread in a personal consultation some time.

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A Sample from My Upcoming Book

The process of writing my new book of original tarot layouts has been one of flow.  The Muse and I are collaborating well.  I thought that you might enjoy seeing one of the spreads I’ve designed.  It’s based on qualities connected with the zodiacal sign of Taurus.  Try it out with tarot cards, Soul Cards, Crone Stones, or runes, or simply use the questions as prompts for a journal writing entry.  Please remember that this layout will appear in my book, so remember to credit me if you use it with anyone.  Thank you in advance for this act of respect.

Tarot Layout Based on Qualities of Taurus


[4]   [5]   [6]   [7]


[1]   [2]

  1. What are my deepest personal values?
  2. What in our world do I truly value?
  3. What service, product, and/or skill can I produce or build that serves both 1 & 2?
  4. What reliable tools and resources can help me to cultivate it/them?
  5. What earth-honouring, indigenous way(s) can help me to cultivate it/them?
  6. What stable, grounded habits can help me to cultivate it/them?
  7. What do I most need to invest in this service, product, and/or skill in order to bring it/them into being?
  8. How will I know that the work has been worth it?

Please let me know how it works for you.  And if you’d like to explore this layout in the context of a private tarot consultation, please contact me for an appointment.  I’d love to guide you through the process of producing something of value and meaning for our world!

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Who Am I? What Do I Do? Whom Do I Serve?

Thinking back on the piece I wrote on July 11 called “I Don’t, I Do”, I thought it might be fun and interesting to heartstorm a bit around who I am as a tarot consultant and what I do in that role.


  • a tourguide of the soul
  • a companion on your pilgrimage to the Self
  • a truth discerner
  • a confidant
  • a coach and counsellor
  • a host to your Inner Teacher


  • create collaborative conversations with Life’s wise whispers
  • set up a line of communication with your Inner Wisdom
  • guide you to remember your deepest questions and answers
  • synthesise my knowledge of the tarot with strategic questioning and your experience of the card images
  • encourage insight and action so helpful change can happen
  • respectfully attend your journey of discovering and expressing your True Self


  • people who are experiencing a lifestyle transition of some kind
  • individuals who are emerging from a tough year and who are ready to engage life again
  • those who are willing to co-create the tarot experience with me
  • groups of people who have chosen to discover and actualise their purpose
  • the Shift from a death-dealing culture to a life-sustaining culture
  • the Great Mystery / Life / Source / Wholeness / Goddess / Earth

Using the Voyager Tarot, I’ve picked cards to respond to those three questions:

  1. Who am I as a tarot consultant?     XII.  Hanged Man.     I’m a chrysalis, a container of sacred gestation, a surrenderer to process, a sacrificed ego, and the opposite of what people expect a tarot reader to be.
  2. As a tarot consultant, what do I do?     Four of Crystals.     I see what is essential, find the inner logic, make the discoveries make sense, give form to ideas that emerge, and weave the story together.
  3. As a tarot consultant, whom do I serve?     XIII.  Death.     I serve the process of elimination and transformation, the initiatory experience of death and rebirth, organic change, the ancestors, and the truth of impermanence.

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How Might We Address the Violence?

On Sunday, six people who were members of a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wisconsin were killed by a white supremacist gunman.  Not only does the heart split open with grief, but the mind staggers at the many issues this incident brings up: racism, religious supremacy, lack of gun control, and more.  The moment we cease to remember our interconnectedness is the moment when we see ourselves and others on different “levels”.  The shadow side of the archetype of the apocalypse enters the picture and demands that something/someone “lesser” than we are be taken out of the picture.  Horrifying!  I need to be sure that when I describe people here — Sikh, citzens of Wisconsion, white supremacist, gunman — that I don’t alienate them from the web of life.

As happens so often when things seem out of kilter, I’m checking in with Life’s wise whispers through the language of the tarot, in this case the Dodal version of the Tarot de Marseille, to find some sense and some suggestions for change in these times of divison.  For each question, I’m picking two cards and noticing what the pair’s interaction suggests to us.

Tarot of Jean Dodal, XVII The Moon, JC Flornoy restorationTarot of Jean Dodal, VIIII the Hermit, JC Flornoy restoration

1.  How can we honour those who were killed in the Sikh temple on Sunday?     XVIII and VIIII.     We can listen to the mournful howls of the grandparents who lost loved ones.  We can hold up a way to illuminate and look more honestly into our own night-time depths.  We can notice the guidance of elders.

Tarot of Jean Dodal, XVIIII The Sun, JC Flornoy restorationTarot of Jean Dodal, XX Judgement, JC Flornoy restoration

2.  What is the larger issue behind this act of violence?     XVIIII and XX.     An egocentric desire for divine approval.  An immature notion of transcendence.  A childish attempt to create rites of passage into adulthood.

Tarot of Jean Dodal, X The Wheel of Fortune, JC Flornoy restorationTarot of Jean Dodal, VII the Chariot, JC Flornoy restoration

3.  What is a first step to eliminating this violence?     X and VII.     Examine the cogs and wheels of the war machine.  Initiate the deposition of war-like leaders.  Find the beasts that spin and whirl in us, then put them to good use as part of something that allows life to move forward.

Please share your responses to these questions as depicted in these cards.  Any perspective that can help each of us, and all of us, shift our worldviews and lifestyles is welcome.

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Love the “Tarology” DVD!

On Saturday, three friends and I watched the documentary Tarology: the Poetics of Tarot, a piece about New York-based tarot practitioner Enrique Enriquez and his work with the Tarot de Marseille.  He has a huge message about experiencing the cards rather than just interpreting them. 

We enjoyed watching Enrique leaving Trump V on a church door and acting out all 22 Majors in a backyard garden.  We revelled in symbols common to two or more cards being called visual rhymes.  We nodded and breathed a mutual, “Yes!” as Enrique told us that the tarot just IS; it has no attachment to whether or not we heed its advice, doesn’t care about whether we like or don’t like our situations.

My own insistence on context when using the tarot was affirmed when Enrique said that the cards on their own can be like the ramblings of a madman on the street until we take a question to them.  Then they make sense because the symbols have come into contact with context.  We liked the idea of literally describing what’s happening on a card to someone and the listener assuming that the description is a metaphor for her/his situation.  It reinforces my own feeling that it’s our own imagination and creativity that give the tarot any relevance.

The fresh approach in Tarology enlivens our work and life with the tarot.  What a joy to meet the tarot as its own being without layer upon layer of superstition or invented traditions attached to it.  It’s a bit like seeing a favourite mentor or teacher without makeup.  “Oh, that’s who you are.”

My friends and I felt that Enrique Enriquez advocates being present and paying attention to what’s in the here and now, not only as a way to read the tarot, but also as a way to live.  There’s a sense in the film that “Life as Great Art” would be a good life motto.  One person described it as very permission-giving, freeing us to experience the tarot in a way that’s relevant to who we are as individuals without having to enter decades of esoteric study.

Please do get a copy of the Tarology DVD and savour its poetic spirit.  You can order a copy at http://tarologyfilm.com/

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A Reading for Lammas

Today is Lammas (or Lughnasad), a festival of harvest and the transition from Summer to Autumn.  To honour this time, I drew a card from the Medicine Woman Tarot to respond to, “What can we harvest that will feed those around us?”

The Teaching Lodge of the Arrows (sort of like the Queen of Swords) suggests that we can harvest and share:

  • the poetic wisdom of sages past
  • the knowledge and words of those who have mastered life
  • our most mature ways of communicating with one another
  • a lifestyle and environment of inspiration.

May we never hunger.  May we never thirst.  Blessed be.  A holy Lammas to you.

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