#ChattingwithTarot – Judgement, The Star + The Tower (#DreamKeepers #Tarot)

There’s a lot of battered and broken going on here; desolation and devastation, but at the core hope remains. I think my ancestors are reminding me that no matter how bad things get, how destructive they seem, hope remains.

Maybe there are important lessons that must be learned in the brokenness and devastation. What will be built after the rubble is cleared away will be better, stronger and healthier. There are always people willing to fight the good fight and I can choose to be a fighter or become part of the rubble.

My ancestors seem to be reminding me that in my core I’m an optimist. Despite how ugly and unpleasant things may get, I ultimately believe in the human spirit. I believe people are good. The trick is to remind them of that fact.

In the Shadow of the Selkie

Have you ever heard of the Scottish myth of the Selkie? It’s a tale of a mythical, shapeshifting seal woman who sheds her skin and turns into a beautiful woman. A man becomes enamored of her and steals her skin, hiding it where she cannot find it. As long as he possesses her skin, the seal woman cannot leave. They often live as a married couple, having children and seemingly content. Eventually, the seal woman’s yearning for the sea becomes too much and either the husband, who truly loves her, restores her skin to her so she can return to the sea or she finds it herself and leaves him and their children behind.

I find these stories and the dynamics they express are still present in modern relationships, both interpersonal and communal; as above, so below.

Have you ever observed or found yourself in a relationship in which you feel your spirit is being held, hostage? Perhaps you initially agreed to the dynamics of the relationship but over time they shifted or your needs did and you find yourself unable to break free? I often note this dynamic in relationships where one partner is financially dependant upon another – often whichever is the stay at home parent raising the children or engaging in other traditionally feminine roles. I’m not referring to a SAHM or SAHD who feel this is their life purpose and who are treated as equal partners in the relationship. I’m referring to those in which the stay at home partner is treated unequally and told things like “It’s my money and I’ll decide how it’s spent” (you know what I’m talking about). Or relationships in which the more financially secure and established partner threatens to take away the children or the home if the other partner leaves. Some wonder how a woman can leave her children behind but if she has been forced to bear these children and their father and society determine they are “his”, then perhaps they are really a symbol of her imprisonment. How awful must it be to find yourself forced to bear children for someone who is imprisoning you?

I see this dynamic on a national scale in the US since the attacks on Sept 11th. So many are willing to give up their autonomy, right to privacy and independence for the illusion of safety and security Some have given up their skins in pursuit of the illusion of being cared for by the government and as a result those of us who were not willing to give up our freedom is being forced to anyway. Our skins have been stolen by those in charge. That is such a risky proposition. I think it’s what has to lead us to the situation in which we currently find ourselves and if we don’t fight to reclaim our skins we may find we are never able to return to that place of autonomy and independence and that way lies dictatorship.

So I asked the Divine via the Tarot:

Where am I a Selkie in my own life? 9 of Sword
How is Selkie energy being expressed in people’s lives? Page of Swords
How can we reclaim our skins? Knight of Pentacles
What can the Selkie teach us? 8 of Wands

So, my take on this reading. The first thing I noticed is that there are no Majors present. That suggests that changing this situation is entirely within our control. It’s about using our wits, our minds backed by groundedness and passion. This isn’t a time to appeal to hearts because people’s hearts (in many instances) are filled with fear.

In my own life, I think it’s more a fear of finding myself in a Selkie-type situation rather than a reality. The truth is that I’ll never willingly give up my skin and, in fact, would fight to the death to reclaim it. I’m also not in a relationship with a man who feels the need to dominate me in any way. In fact, he values and supports my independence and snarkiness.

The Page of Swords suggests that Selkie energy is the result of insecurity and an inability to trust in ourselves. We’re not sure we can protect ourselves and are trusting in others to do it for us. It seems logical to trust in the government to put our best interest first but history has proven that is risky and often unrealistic. Especially if the reality is that we’re being terrified into abandoning our skins. We’re not children (well most of us) and need to take responsibility for ourselves and our safety. If we allow anyone else to take away our freedom, we doom ourselves to losing autonomy over our lives. Can we really trust someone who has either captured, imprisoned or brainwashed us to ensure our rights won’t be violated?

The Knight of Pentacles offers the hopeful message that we can reclaim our skins but it will be an uphill battle. We will need to be stubborn, determined and focused. We can’t lose our heads or allow ourselves to be distracted by extraneous matters. Whether this is at a national or personal level, we need to stay the course and be willing to make the sacrifices and take the risks necessary to achieve this goal.

The Selkie teaches us that nothing is stagnant. New ideas and beliefs, new inspiration and energy are constantly entering our lives. Even if certain circumstances fit our needs right now, that may not be the case down the road and we need to be willing to fight for ourselves, for our autonomy and for our ability to breathe free. We need to seize the moment and be willing to burn down the house if all other options are exhausted.

#TarotDaily – Ace of Wands Rx + 2 of Wands Rx (#WizardsTarot)

So, today while drawing my two cards I asked where I need to focus my energy; what needs my attention? I drew the Ace of Wands Rx and 2 of Wands Rx. I immediately thought of creative energy being stifled; of incomplete, unfulfilled projects. Then, while browsing through Christine Jette’s Tarot for the Healing Heart I read a passage focusing on clearing blockages and connecting with our divine spark in order to facilitate healing and felt like a lightning bolt struck me. This was my message!

It’s time to clear away all those damned blockages I’ve allowed to build up that prevent me from fully healing. It’s time to embrace that divine spark and re-experience the magic and wonder all around me. So I’m going to start working my way through this book and see where it leads. I have a feeling it will be an enlightening journey!

#TarotDaily – Temperance Rx + The High Priestess Rx (#WizardsTarot)

Today I wondered what lesson I need to learn? Where should I be focusing my energy? I drew:

I need to learn to balance my energy and focus more effectively; blend what I must do with what I want to do. It would also help if I listened to my institution, trusted my inner voice. The truth is I know what to do and how to do it but I need to listen and trust in my inner wisdom; the self-knowledge woven through my soul.

Mary Magdalene’s Truth (#WizardsTarot)

Today, while watching a show about the “lost history” of Mary Magdalene I was struck by a thought – who was she?  What was her true relationship to the man called Jesus?   I decided to ask Tarot what the truth was about her. Using the Wizards Tarot, I asked the following questions:

Who was Mary Magdalene? Knight of Cups
What was her relationship to Jesus? 6 of Swords
What was her mission, her purpose? 8 of Cups

Okay, my take. Immediately upon seeing the Knight of Cups, I was struck by the thought of “the Grail knight”. Mary Magdalene was the seeker of the heart’s truth; the one who pursued the heart’s knowledge. Perhaps she was even the protector of Jesus’ heart.

Her relationship with Jesus was one of equals both on a journey to bring new ideas and new ways of believing to others. They’re aware of the danger but are willing to take the risk because they believe it is important. They confront challenges head-on. Their partnership is one of like minds that will raise us to a new level.  It may have eventually become a more intimate relationship but in the beginning, it would seem to be a relationship of people who shared a passion for ideas and a similar mindset.

Eventually, Mary Magdalene will need to leave behind all she loves, all that brought joy to her life, in order to pursue her life’s purpose. She will need to endure the rest of her journey alone to accomplish her mission.

Taking this reading in light of many of the legends and mythos of Mary Magdalene there are a few interesting connections. Mary Magdalene is intricately woven into the mythos of the Holy Grail. In many theories she either took the chalice (the San Greal) to a secret location in the south of France; in others, she is carrying the bloodline of Jesus (the sang real). There are also apocryphal stories of the other disciples questioning why Jesus loved Mary more than them. They seemed envious and threatened by her status in Jesus’ life and ministry.

So who was Mary Magdalene?  The reality is that we may never know the “truth” in an objective, verifiable manner.  However, I think this reading shows that in an emotional and spiritual sense Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ equal partner; the one who carried on his true work and teachings. She kept the heart of Jesus’ message alive and moving forward.

#TarotDaily – The Fool + The Hermit Rx

TarotHunter’s Salt Rounds:

  • Try something new and creative. Believe in your ability to accomplish new goals
  • Don’t keep hiding in your lab but instead bring your findings to others who share your interests. Don’t be shy about your explorations and achievements.
  • Don’t let self doubts and inner critics (or outer ones) prevent you from jumping in with both feet and living your life with exuberance, joy and gusto! Long live The Fools!

I wasn’t raised to be a girl, I was raised to be a broad

I’m being deliberately provocative with the title of this blog post. I am a female and, as such, I was a girl when I was younger. However, I was not raised to think of myself as “just a girl”. I decided to write this post after reading an article a woman wrote about gender expectations and American Gods. This got me to thinking, pondering if you will. Why have I never felt the weight of gender expectations? In fact, I clearly remember a very vehement argument I once had with a former friend about sexism and gender in the workplace. It’s entirely possible that I have been denied promotions or suffered a lower salary because I am female, but if that’s the case I was as oblivious to it as I was to the Stations of the Cross in my childhood church. I simply plowed forward and did my job. If my behaviors upset or offended supervisors because I didn’t act in a typically female way, I either addressed it head on, was oblivious to it, or ignored it.

I have never been told that I could not achieve something because I’m “a girl”. I was never discouraged from trying or accomplishing something because “girls don’t do that”. Sure my parents tried to civilize me and teach me to behave but they also encouraged me to be independent and strong-willed. They regularly gave me the “would you (fill in the blank) just because everyone else does?” speech. I was never encouraged to downplay my intelligence because boys don’t like smart girls. I was never told I was too aggressive for a girl and should tone it down (in fact my father preferred to teach me the correct way to throw a punch). When boys touched me in ways I did not want, I punched them or kicked them in the balls. My nickname as an adolescent was “the Nutcracker”. At the same time, I accepted that if I was going to hit others I might get hit back. I couldn’t use the “I’m a girl” excuse. I was fine with this. Looking back, I was truly blessed to have two parents who never, ever fell victim to gender roles and stereotypes – at least not when it came to me. I remember one Easter my grandmother bought my sister and me matching outfits – they were royal blue pantsuits (think polyester button-down shirts and pants) with T-shirts that proclaimed “Anything boys can do, girls can do better” and a graphic of a girl in a baseball outfit getting ready to swing her bat. We LOVED those shirts and proudly wore them every chance we got. In fact, that saying became our unofficial motto throughout childhood.

I was also influenced by Greco-Roman and Norse mythology as a child. I identified with Athena, the wise virgin who owed nothing to a man (okay, I’m oversimplifying because that’s what I believed as a child). I loved Freya who was the leader of the Valkyries and free to sleep with whom she chose, even if they were dwarves. It wasn’t just independent female goddesses that appealed to me – they had to have a fierceness to them, a martial aspect as well. I loved goddesses who bowed down to no man or god. As I grew older and learned about Irish goddesses I felt a strong connection to many of them too. Once again, fierce feminine figures who were not bound to a male.

Looking back, I am also a product of my generation. I grew up in the 70s and clearly remember the hoopla that following the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. I remember how excited I was when Charlie’s Angels premiered! Yes, in retrospect it was a T&A show but as a young girl, all I saw were these tough, independent women who took on bad guys every week and triumphed. I was a fan of both Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, Isis, and Electra Woman & Dyna Girl. I read Wonder Woman and Supergirl comic books. I remember being vaguely disappointed when the ERA was defeated. I didn’t fully understand what it was or why I wanted it but I knew that its failure was not a good thing for me. I remember having an epiphany during a religious class in Catholic high school when our teacher while conducting a cakes & wine ritual, informed us that ancient frescoes showed that women administered the sacraments in the early Christian church. I was floored! It never occurred to me that women could serve as priests. I often think that this was the pivotal moment that ultimately led me to pursue Paganism.

So, it occurs to me that if we don’t want to raise our daughters to be “just girls” we need to reinforce that message. We need to support them when they show interest in traditionally “ungirly” things or behave in non-girly ways. We also need to let them know that if they choose to pursue traditionally feminine pursuits, that is wonderful too. It’s so easy to denigrate traditional feminine pursuits, interests, and behaviors but that’s just as damaging as only allowing them to pursue these things. Some girls want to be fairy princesses and some want to be G.I. Joe. Some want to play with dolls and some want to play with toy guns. Some will do both and all of that is great and should be encouraged. For that matter, we should use the same approach with boys. I guess the important thing is to focus on what the child wants and needs and make sure to nurture and support them. Sounds easy and yet somehow we make it so complicated.

Readers’ Studio 2017 Wrap-up

So, it’s been almost a week since I returned from the fun-filled, eye-opening, networking event that is Readers Studio. As usual, there were some amazing moments and some sad moments, some silly moments and some profound moments.

I attended the Tarot & Psychology pre-conference this year. The presenters were Jayni Bloch, Katrina Wynne and Elinor Greenberg (Jenny Suzumoto was originally scheduled but became ill and could not attend). The sessions ranged from connecting Archetypal Portals (similar to the concept of chakras) to Trump Cards to Process Work and Dreamtime to Gestalt techniques and using Tarot for relationship work. I realized after attending several of the Tarot & Psychology pre-conferences that while I enjoy the workshops, they don’t always address what I would like covered. I usually do find useful tips & techniques in these workshops but I’ve realized that what I really want is techniques for crisis intervention (if needed) and practices that are more in line with life coaching than counseling. The truth is that if I had wanted to become a therapist I would have pursued my doctorate in counseling or psychology.

The main event of Readers Studio was three workshops – one led by Kooch & Victor Daniels that incorporated working with Tarot and chakras, one facilitated by Mitchell Osborn and one led by Ferol Humphrey. It can be very difficult to explain what one gets from these workshops so I’ll just provide a brief summary of my takeaway: the Daniels are very knowledgeable and have some interesting techniques to share; Mitchell Osborn is just awesome and Ferol Humphrey is a firecracker. Useful tips and techniques were taken away from all these sessions. The best part of the workshops for me was the foundation reading. My partner (the brilliant and dynamic Heatherleigh Navarre) was insightful and extremely helpful. I only hope I proved to be the same for her.

Now for the best parts of Readers Studio – the in-between stuff. One of my favorite moments was while I offered to help Joanna Powell Colbert set up her vendor table. She was already finished but as I looked over her art I felt drawn to purchase something. It was a very difficult choice between her Gaian Strength icon and her Elder of Fire icon done using an encaustic technique (I honestly have no idea what that entails but they were both beautiful). I ultimately chose the Strength icon because I love the image and the prayer included. I may still add the Elder of Fire to my collection. I’ve always found that image very powerful and moving.

My next vendor purchase was at Rachel Pollack’s table. I am inveterate collector/fan of Rachel’s necklaces. As soon as I saw her Sun necklace made of translucent Chinese amber I had to buy it. It looked like captured sunshine. As I was chatting with Rachel (I really don’t get to see her enough) she gave me a lovely necklace she made using the Samulet from Supernatural. The only thing I might be a bigger fan of than Rachel necklaces is that show. The acting skills of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester have kept me watching loyally for 12 seasons, even this one (which in my opinion has been mournfully disappointing). Rachel share my appreciation for this show and noticed my Samulet necklace last year (nothing special just the Samulet on a leather cord). She is such a generous and kind woman that she made me a spectacular version on a lovely Rachel necklace. It absolutely made my weekend. I think I actually glowed while showing it off to people. I wandered back towards Rachel’s table a few more times over the course the Readers Studio and her Lovers necklace kept catching my eye. The pendant was a reproduction of an ancient Greek coin with Aphrodite on it and a necklace with pink chalcedony and citrine beads. It was lovely, so of course I had to buy that too. What can I say – I’m addicted to Rachel necklaces.

I continued to roam vendor tables and found myself drawn to Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand. Despite my resolution not to purchase any more Lenormand decks, I couldn’t resist this one. The watercolor painting behind the images just called to me and I had to have a copy. Next I roamed by Patrick Valenza‘s table. I’m a long time fan of his Deviant Moon Tarot and found myself drawn to his latest deck – Trionfi della Luna. It’s a Deviant Moon take on Marseilles style decks. I tried to resist but his darkly quirky art just appeals to me and I added the Italian version of this deck to my collection. My final stop was at Rachel Paul’s table. I am a huge fan of her Dark Carnival and Sacred Bridges decks so it was great to catch up with her again. While looking at her wares a gorgeous necklace caught my eye – it had a RWS Empress pendant and a necklace of sandalwood beads. Naturally I had to add it to the stash.

Once my contributions to supporting Tarot artists were complete, I spent the rest of the event socializing and catching up. Diane Wilkes managed to make it up for the Tarot & Psych conference so we got to spend a bit of time together but not as much as either of us would have liked. I also got to see the lovely Sasha Graham for a few brief moments. My roommate this year was Gail Woods and I had a great time rooming with her. We both share an appreciation for tea and quiet time so there was some quiet bonding time. I made a few new friends – Mitchell Osborne, Al Jaurez and Bev Frable and reconnected with some old ones – Joanna Powell Colbert, James Wells, Sally Rose Robinson, Jaymi Elford, Heatherleigh Navarre, Theresa Reed and Hilary Haggerty (who I didn’t recognize for almost a whole day because she is blonde now)

One of the things I realized this Readers Studio is that even when I don’t especially enjoy the workshop (and believe me I’ve been to all Readers Studios and there was only one workshop I walked out of ) I always take something new or interesting away from them. I’ve learned that whether one appreciates a workshop is very subjective. Certain presentation styles that I enjoy do not work for others and vice versa. Sometimes a topic might be very interesting but not something I like. Sometimes presenters have a lot of knowledge and information but just are not effective at presenting it others. The bottom line is that it takes a lot of courage to get up on the main stage and put yourself out there and anyone who has ever presented at a Readers Studio has my admiration for doing so.

One of the other takeaways I got from this Readers Studio is that whether or not I find the workshops especially useful, it’s the camaraderie, the in-between stuff and the bonding that keeps me coming back. Some of my favorite memories of this Readers Studio are:
Getting a beautiful Samulet Rachel Pollack necklace
Laughing myself sick during the banquet while Sally Rose shows me highly inappropriate toys on her cell phone
Singing “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles with James Wells and Ellen-Mary O’Brien and then clucking Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Continuing to cluck various songs during the last goodie giveaway and certificate ceremony including a confusing moment when I thought I was clucking Pomp and Circumstance but instead was clucking Hail to the Chief
Winning a free 30 minute reading with Mitchell Osborn
The banquet show – which included some amazing performances by V and Jaymi. I’m impressed by V’s mastery of the hula hoop and Jaymi’s control of those light balls on cords.
Watching James Wells laugh as he watched Betty White’s “Muffin” skit on SNL
The absolutely wonderful and welcoming staff of the LaGuardia Marriott
Having Kooch Daniels come up to me and casually mention that I had been a witch in many past lifetimes.

I was very sorry to learn that this will be the last year at the LaGuardia Marriott. Apparently they’ve made some management changes and will be doing renovations so The Tarot School will need to find a new venue. I hope that happens soon because I’m already impatient to return to this marvelous event. If you can ever make it to a Readers Studio, I highly recommend you do so. If not, try to find a Tarot event in your immediate area, believe me the sense of connection and finding your tribe is more than worth the time, effort and cost.

Our own mythic journeys

I was pondering stuff the other day (okay I had time on my hands and my brain was just rambling on) after thinking about some of the masks I wear and the burlesque act I can put on for company.  That made me think about how I see myself as the star of my own life.  Don’t we all see ourselves as the center of our own universe; the star of our own reality show?  I’ve seen a lot of books that focus on discovering our “mythic journey” but I realize that I stumbled across living mine quite by accident.

Even as a child I associated my experiences with myths and legends. I used to read Greek and Norse mythology the way some kids read Dr. Seuss (although I read him too). I connected on a deep level to Persephone and her tale of kidnapping, rape and eventually rise to become Queen of Hades. Oddly enough I never felt sorry for Demeter who was inconsolable as she sought her missing daughter. I always saw it as Persephone’s act of rebellion. In my mind she deliberately ate those pomegranate seeds to get away from her mother. Maybe she felt this was her chance at autonomy, independence and maturity. How often do we see parent-child relationships that are so co-dependant that they can only be separated by something like this? I fully understand the desire to get away from one’s parents and be independent and the ruler of your own life. It resonated with me on a deep level. Although I connect with and understand Athena too, Persephone still remains my favorite Greek goddess.
Celtic Wisdom Queen of BattleCeltic Wisdom Combat of Knowledge

When I discovered Irish mythology it was the Morrigan who claimed my heart. She was strong, determined, powerful and even a little scary. She didn’t take shit from anyone – not Cuchulainn, not the Daghda, not anyone. She’s fierce! I was drawn to Macha too. I know she’s often considered an aspect of the Morrigan but her individual tales are compelling and full of independent spirit and power. I mean she cursed an entire Irish province so the men would be struck by pains in the face of impending battle and be incapable of fighting for several days. How kickass is that?!! I honor and admire other Irish deities like Brighid and Airmid but my heart belongs to The Morrigan. She inhabits those dark places that so many prefer to avoid. I find myself drawn to and captured by those dark places. I may not want to inhabit them all the time but I know they exist and can embrace the insight and wisdom they offer.

There are moments when I envision my relationship with my husband as a slightly more committed & traditional variation of what the Morrigan and the Daghda share. In fact I believe my husband shares certain traits with both the Daghda and Thor. He enjoys his beer and food. He has quite a sense of humor and laughs at his own screw ups. He is usually fair minded and willing to help out the underdog. It’s also quite easy to underestimate his intelligence and see him are more brawn than brains.

I have no idea if this approach would help others. I suppose that’s for each individual to determine. However I realize that sometimes finding connections between myths and my own life helps put things in context. It helps to know I’m not the only person in the world dealing with these types of experiences; I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. Seeing it as part of a bigger picture comforts me. At the end of the day I suppose that’s the most beneficial aspect of this exercise for anyone.

Oolong with Odin

I have recently begun re-acquainting myself with Runes. I have dabbled in them at various points in time. I know some of the basics of working with them but I want to explore them in more depth. I’ve begun connecting with the energy of the Rune aligned with each half-month (each Rune is assigned a two-week period over the course the year, in order). I have no idea who created this system but it seems a good place to start. I then pull another Rune each day to see what energies might impact me and how they connect to the energies of the Rune associated with the half-month. Based upon the message I get from the joined energies of the two Runes, I then draw two Tarot cards for further insights or clarification. So far it has worked  well. This process is allowing me to begin working with the Runes on a deeper level. However I kept feeling blocked; as though there was more to be gained but I could not access it. After pondering this for a while I realized that my problem is I was avoiding connecting with Odin, the Norse god of magic, runes, war and a plethora of other areas who also happens to rule the Aesir. That’s like learning to drive a car via computer simulation. You may grasp the concepts but you’ll be limited in true understanding.

I’ve been wary of working with Odin for a loooong time now. In the myths, he is often portrayed as quite the trickster. He has his own agenda and we may not fit with it the way one anticipated. I have always felt more drawn to Thor and Tyr for their more plain-spoken and honorable approach to matters. For the most part Thor is not very straight-forward and Tyr’s word is his bond. Odin take a more diplomatic approach to matters in that he doesn’t lie but may not reveal the full truth either. His connection to Loki has also worries me a bit. I can understand the benefits Loki brought to Asgard but his tricksy, sometimes malevolent nature does not appeal to me. All that has become a moot point because I realize that if I want to truly understand the Runes then I need to work with Odin.

Legacy of the Divine 9 of Coins

So yesterday I sat down and had a chat with Odin. I asked if he would find a daily cuppa tea an acceptable offering for picking his brain. In response I drew the 9 of Coins (being more familiar with Tarot I used them for this conversation) which I’m taking as a resounding yes! So I made up each a cuppa oolong tea (Flower of Asia to be exact) and pulled a Rune – Othala, to go along with the Rune of the half-month Eihwaz. I then proceeded to ask Odin questions about the connections between these two Runes and how their energies work together and complement each other. It was a very interesting process. After each question I would pull a Tarot card. If I didn’t understand the response I could pull another card for additional insight but that didn’t happen. Each response I got from Odin made complete sense to me. It was exhilarating! I’m very excited to see where this journey will lead me. For now I’m taking baby steps but very much like a toddler I’m feeling quite a sense of accomplishment already.