Archive for July, 2013

Lammas Tarot Circle Game

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s Lammas (“loaf mass”), also known as Lughnasad, a time to mark the first harvest and to acknowledge the gradual decline of the sun after the Summer Solstice.  You and your loved ones can celebrate the occasion by meeting over a late summer or early autumn meal, then playing this game.  May you never hunger and may you never thirst.  Enjoy!


A.  Gather in a circle, whether around a table, on the floor, or wherever.  Place a beeswax candle in the middle.  Remove any card(s) from your tarot deck that reminds you of Lammas and what it represents, then place this card(s) in the centre beside the candle.  You can also add bread, wheat sheaves, and ears of corn to the middle arrangement.

B.  Read a quote/poem about Lammas/harvest to set the tone.  Or sing a song about this theme.

C.  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.

D.  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 can be done by consciously selecting a card from your face-up hand or by keeping your three cards face-down and intuitively picking which one will be your sentence-completion image.  Each player can expand on the sentence as much as s/he chooses.

  • FIRST ROUND: “Something for which I’ve often hungered and thirsted is _________.”
  • SECOND ROUND: “Important seeds I’ve planted in the past year include _________.”
  • THIRD ROUND: “I hope to harvest _________.”

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

F.  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.

G.  After everyone’s cards have been returned to the deck, the central card is shuffled back into the pack.  Read a closing poem/quote or sing another Lammas/harvest-themed song.  If you’ve included a homemade loaf of crusty bread in the centre, everyone could break off a piece and eat it mindfully before you extinguish the candle.  Wheat sheaves and corn, if you’ve placed them in your midst, can be distributed to people to adorn their shrines at home.


Image: The Empress from the Mythic Tarot.

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The Cards Ask the Questions

Astrologer Steven Forrest has a wonderful teaching that “the planets ask the questions — the answers are up to you.”  It reminds me of astrologer Noel Tyl‘s statement that “planets don’t make things happen; people do.”  I get excited by such phrases because I can apply them to the tarot.  For me, the tarot is a tool, a set of symbols that help us become more conscious about what is within us and around us, a map to help us evolve as individuals and as a culture.  When I translate Forrest’s idea to the tarot, my whole body responds with an immense YES:

The cards ask the questions — the answers are up to you.

Many of you know that I’m an ardent fan of questions, employing them in the preparation I do for people’s tarot consultations as well as in the sessions themselves, taking them into council circles and casual conversations, dropping them judiciously into workshops and classes, and posting them online.  Questions keep the doors of possibility open.  Questions stimulate awareness.  Questions expand our sense of who we are becoming.

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To approach your Wisdomsource (however you conceive It) with a topic, issue, or enquiry, then allow a tarot card (or other wisdom device) to generate a question in response to it is a rich and empowering experience, far more so than a blanket pronouncement.  If you really take the question into your whole being, let it work you, then respond with naked honesty, you will derive much insight.  A greater sense of personal responsibility for creating your own life comes out of such a process.  An encounter with a card’s question(s) always makes me feel like I’m aligned with Life and that things make more sense.

The cards ask the questions — the answers are up to you.

Here’s an abbreviated example.  A woman comes to a tarot counsellor wondering what it would take for her to increase her financial income.  After mixing the cards, she draws Trump XIII, Death, upright.  The tarot counsellor notices the main character’s bare bones and scythe, so he asks the client, “What in your world needs to be eliminated or pared down?” then lets the seeker take the question in while looking at the image.  She responds, “I have a basement full of old furniture and books that needs to be cleared out.  I could sell a lot of the items on Kijiji.  Hmm…I could curb my spending by not eating lunch out every day.  Oh yeah, (laughs under her breath), if I’m honest with myself, I need to eliminate my belief that more money always equals success.  Phew!”  The tarot counsellor says, “I appreciate the insights you’re expressing here.  The last statement you made invites us to ask what your soul’s true definition of success is.  Does that feel appropriate?”  The client nods in affirmation and pulls another card from the face-down deck: the Two of Cups, reversed.  After a thoughtful pause, the tarot practitioner says, “This card poses the question, ‘What spiritual, intuitive, or meditative experience do you choose or prefer over any other?'”  The woman reflects for a moment, then says, “The moments when I can find a quiet spot in the woods and write in my journal.  It makes me feel like there’s more to life than work, laundry, meals, or my house and car.”  The tarot counsellor enquires, “How might that sense of ‘something more’ apply to your soul’s definition of success?”  The client responds, “Success is sensing and cultivating deep intimacy with nature, with all beings, human and non-human alike.  Wow!”

The questions posed by the tarot practitioner, stimulated by the cards, really take the querent into her or his own Knowing, allowing the person to really own what comes up in the session and to activate the understanding in real life.

The cards ask the questions — the answers are up to you.


Image: The High Priestess from the Jungian Tarot by Robert Wang.

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The Fool Speaks


full of potential

orphic egg uncracked

oz to inner dorothy

life unfolds as it should

finding my way is a matter of

offering myself to this earthwalk

orbiting soulnucleus

listening to herenowness

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