Monday, 28 July 2014

Beauty is the beast

Sol Invictus Tarot 
It's Lammas on Friday, so in honour of John Barleycorn, I'm drawing from Sol Invictus: The God Tarot (Kim Huggens,  Schiffer 2007) this week.

Today's card is apt, as the new moon is in Leo. We have the Strength card, represented by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I can't really top the thoroughly enjoyable summaries at Schmoop, so here they are: The Epic of Gilgamesh. Do have read; they are hilarious.

So in this picture we see Gilgamesh (standing) and Enkidu (on the floor). They've just been having an epic knock down drag out fight because both are half-god and they have met their match in each other. Enkidu suggests they stop fighting and make friends, and thus begins the first bromance in world literature. (Of course the Epic of Gilgamesh is the first anything in world literature. We know of no older work.)

The Strength card is represented here not just because both of these dudes are very strong, but because one represents refinement and one represents lower animalistic nature. Guess which is which. Just like in the traditional Strength card, we see that when a balance is reached between our higher and so-called 'lower' natures, that is where our true strength lies.

I'd totally forgotten that Strength card is my year card for 2014 as well. So, on the first Monday of the Leo new moon, I draw the Leo card, which is also my year card. I think this may just be a pivotal lunation for me.

It has already got off to a flying start with the Smith Street Party in Warwick on Saturday 26 July.

Smith Street as the day begins...
We had this tent outside the shop (I'm doing that reading -- you can't see me though!)

The Morris dancers decided just outside the shop was the perfect place for all the teams to dance.

So we retired to the quiet oasis in the back garden.
Me with the Deck of the Bastard. 

I've revamped my 'About Me' page (click the tab at the top of the page to check it out) using a snapshot from yesterday in that tent.

What a great start to the month!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Dismiss List - Relinquishing control

Fenestra Tarot 
Jenna at Queen of Wands Tarot offers a useful exercise, a Dismiss List for Summer Solstice. She's used the second half of the major arcana to create sentences for you to finish to help you contemplate things in your life that no longer serve. As the daylight wanes (each day getting shorter and each night longer) for the rest of the year, it is a good time to begin the process of releasing things in our lives as well. Let these things 'wane' in harmony with the waning of daylight. With credit to Jenna, I am working these prompts here, one entry each Sunday for major arcana 11-21.

Last week it was the Devil.  This week it's the Tower.

I dismiss the need to be controlling of...

the Universe and everything in it! 

In the old days before I dismissed the habit of labelling myself, I would have said that I am a bit of a control freak. I like to live and work in an orderly environment, I like routine, I dislike unexpected events or disruptions to the flow of the day. I am better about this now, though, slowly changing this habit. It's a change I've been observing in myself over the last few years. For example, in the past I would plan a holiday right down to the itinerary of each day. If we deviated from it, I found that very uncomfortable and annoying. Even when sticking to the plan meant inconveniencing us, I couldn't see the inconvience. I could only see the plan and the need to stick to it. But in the last few years, I've tried to fight my corner for spontaneity. (I say fight my corner because the hubster is a big planner as well, and I can't remember if he was that way when we met or if I conditioned him to be that way.) 'Let's just drive around and if we see something interesting let's just turn down that road and have a look. Let's see what we can discover.' In this way, we have had some of our most pleasant excursions: 

Dr Johnson's House

Bolsover Castle 

Chirk Castle

Regent's Canal

Spontaneity can be fun and freeing. Why do some of us become control freaks? Can we break this down by turning the label into a fear statement

I am a control freak = 

I fear

  • not knowing what may happen next
  • being embarrassed by what may happen next
  • being hurt by what may happen next
  • being caught not knowing something or how to do something
  • being criticised or reprimanded for not knowing something or how to do something
  • getting things wrong
  • drawing the negative attention of others
Because I mean God forbid we should turn down the driveway of an unexpectedly encountered castle and find that it is closed on a Monday! Or to be told we can't get in because it's less than 30 minutes left in the business day! Or to pay £18 each to get in when the admissions budget for that day had already been spent. Because to do that would COMPLETELY RUIN our entire holiday and deeply humiliate us as human beings. It would mean we would have WASTED 30 MINUTES and ALL THAT PETROL to follow the signs to the place and HOW COULD WE EVER LIVE DOWN THE SHAME OF IT? How could we face not being good stewards of our time and resources? Nooooooooooo!

Isn't that ridiculous? But when you dig down into 'control feakism', aren't those the sort of fears you find? Isn't that the skewed logic behind it? 

A Tower is a fortress, built for protection. It's meant to keep us safe, to keep the bad things out. But history shows us, we might be safe in a fortress from being killed by hordes on the outside, but when we stay there and stay there and never come out -- we starve ourselves to death. We die anyway. 

What kind of control is that? 

So, today I dismiss control of the Universe. I leave that fortress. Bye bye, Tower. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A New Moon Spread for the Leo New Moon

Today is the new moon in Leo, a time of creative beginnings! Here's a spread for you to try today. 

New Moon in Leo Spread, Cosmic Tarot 
The moon is new in Leo (26 July), which corresponds to Strength, and full in Aquarius (10 August), which corresponds to Star.

1. Shuffle the deck and search for the Strength card. This is the new moon. Lay it face up on the table. The card immediately after it is card 1. Lay it down directly beneath (or slightly overlapping the bottom if you prefer) the Strength card. 

Card 1 -  This is a powerful time for new beginnings and creative projects. This card suggests what you might focus on for the current lunation. Ask yourself, what am I most passionate about? What have I always wanted to do? 

2. Shuffle the deck again and search for the Star card. This is the full moon. Lay it face up on the table to the right of Strength, leaving a gap. The card immediately after Star in the deck is card 2. Lay it beneath or overlapping the Star card. When the full moon is in Aquarius, you may feel very social, your intuition kicks into high gear, and it is usually a good time for getting together with like-minded people. 

Card 2 - This card shows the energies of the full moon. It is where you may find yourself by 10 August, the full moon, and it is not only a full moon, it is a super moon. And not only is it a super moon, is the superest super moon of 2014. The moon will not come this close to the earth again until September 2015. A lot can happen in a few weeks, and this is the point at which your efforts for this lunation will be at full pitch. What will that look like? 

3. Now shuffle the deck again and draw. Place the card between cards 1 and 2. 

Card 3 - This is the action or change that may lead you to card 2, or may block you. Or both! 

Sample Layout 
I used the Morgan Greer Tarot and drew the cards with no intention other than to show you this spread. It is not a reading for anyone in particular (though of course as soon as I looked at them I could see how they pertain to me!) 

Quickie interpretation
The Swords show it is a time of thinking and making plans, and the energy with which you should enter into this project is with great gusto and determination. The Leo new moon is all about creative energy, so make sure your plans are from the heart and not from the ego. You should choose to work on things that you really want, not things that you think might hold you in good stead in the eyes of others. This may involve some battles of wits conducted with yourself or others. Stand your ground, or better yet, hack your way through arguments and counterarguments with assurance that you are in the right and acting in your best interest. Take no prisoners!

By the full moon, you should feel more fully in control of your plans and ideas. It's true there may be some water under the bridge by then -- meeting resistance head on as you've done since 26 July will always result in consequences. But you will know that you've done the right thing for yourself and are on the right track. By the full moon, you will see more clearly and dispassionately what needs to be done, and you will be less reluctant to do what needs doing and say what needs saying. New habits are being formed. The full moon in Aquarius is a time of being social and intuitive -- this is tempered somewhat by the Queen of Swords, whose energy is certainly intuitive, but rather than social interactions, you may find yourself more in the role of counsellor. Don't be surprised if people look to your for leadership or advice. And don't hesitate to look to yourself for these things.

The bridge that gets you from new moon to full moon is plain good sense. No matter how passionate you are or how lofty your plans, you should remember to look after yourself physically, get plenty of rest, don't spread yourself too thin, and above all, don't be overambitious with your financial planning and budgeting. Be conservative, remember to protect yourself, and listen to voices that caution you to be avoid financial or health risks. Those arguments and counterarguments you'll be slashing and burning should not involve your money, domestic arrangements or physical well being.

In summary, go for it! Plan big -- challenge your old beliefs and the expectations of those around you. But be sensible, too. There's no point building a 5-year plan around a lottery ticket.

££££££££  SPECIAL OFFER  ££££££££££

Order a new moon reading in the next 48 hours and get a full 3-card reading for just £10. That is 1/3 off the normal price! Just click the 'Book a Tarot Reading' tab at the top of the page, and type 'New Moon Special Offer' in the comments. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Bridgett at Facebook challenged us bloggers to answer 30 questions. These answers may be short and sweet but here goes:

1. Who or what introduced you to Tarot? 
I had a friend who hid a tarot deck at my house when we were about 19. Her parents didn't want them in the house. I didn't know a thing about it, but using the little white book, tried a draw about myself. The answers were uncanny so I told her to come get it -- I didn't want it in my house either! Many years later, I bought my first deck after being inspired to by a journal called the Sacred Journey.

2. What was your first deck and how did you get it?
Osho Zen. I bought it myself from Amazon. I wanted something sort of Buddhist and it had 'zen' in the name. What did I know?

3. What is your favorite deck?
I don't have a favourite deck and as someone with a relatively big collection, I don't think it's a fair question! :)

4. How long have you been reading Tarot?
Long time.

5. When & where did you perform your first reading?
My first reading was for myself and it was conducted here in the living room floor.

6. What was the first spread you learned? Do you still use it?
The Celtic Cross, of course. You'd think there was no other spread in existence based on the books. No, I don't still use it. It's clunky.

7. What is your favorite card? Why?
I don't think I have a favourite card. I am fond of 9 of Pentacles. I've written about it many times. Look over in the right column and click '9 of Pentacles'.

8. Which card do you dread pulling? Why?
I don't dread any card.

9. What card comes up for you most in personal readings? Why do you think this is so?
That fluctuates over time. I don't think there is a card that comes up 'most'. It is statistically improbable any card will come up a meaningful number of times more than any other.

10. What card best represents your personality? Why?
My knee-jerk reaction is Queen of Swords. I have identified with her for a long time. I have been through some things, and I have a skeptical and analytical way of looking at things.

If I were to choose a major, it would be Hermit. I do love solitude, and even with others, I enjoy a companionable silence in beautiful natural surroundings--it's my preferred way of spending time with others.

11. Which spread do you use most? Why?
The 3-card draw. It's powerful, versatile, and gives you all you could want.

12. Have you created your own spreads before? Share one?
I create spreads all the time and share them here often. Just look to the right and click on the word 'Spreads'. I am sharing a spread here tomorrow. Tune in! :)

13. Is there a card that always stumps you when you draw it? 
No. A lot of people say courts, but I relate the all to movie, TV or book characters and that method works a treat for me. I do sometimes get a bit flummoxed by what I call the 'planet cards' - Moon, Sun, Star, World.

14. What is your most frequent purpose for using Tarot?
I use it as a way of looking at circumstances and issues from a different angle, try to find a new way of looking at things.

15. Do you prefer reading with "text book meanings" or "with your intuition?"
This is a silly debate that goes on amongst newbies. There is no such thing as one or the other, if you are really reading the cards.

16. Do you ever just use the Major Arcana? If so ... when?
Yes, when I feel that it is called for. It's no more complicated than that.

17. Do you do readings using reversals? Why or Why not?
No, the sight of an upside down card offends my sensibilities, and I don't believe any image was ever intended to be viewed on its head. (Except the Hanged Man). I always consider shadow meanings, in relation to question, card position, and surrounding cards.

18. Which deck do you feel most drawn to & why?
I don't have a favourite deck. I have decks I quite like, but I couldn't pick a favourite.

19. Do you feel that the cards have their own consciousness?
No, I absolutely do not believe this.

20. Do you read for others?
Yes, that's why I'm here on this blog. :)

21. How do you feel when you do readings?
I feel honoured and a tremendous sense of responsibility. I do my utmost to uphold my personal reading ethics and communicate my reading approach and what a customer can expect from my readings. (See 'Book a Reading' for a full explanation.)

22. Do you charge money? Why or why not?
Yes. Readings take a lot of energy and time.

23. What question do you most ask the Tarot?
What does the universe ask of me today?

24. How accurate have your readings been?
I've never predicted an earthquake or won the lottery. But my customers report that they relate deeply to my card interpretations and that they have made positive life changes as a result, and that makes me feel fantastic. It's why I do it!

25. What was the most dramatic or meaningful reading you have ever done?
I have one particular customer who has had several very powerful readings that I found quite draining but that she reports have been very valuable to her. Confidentiality prevents me saying anything much here.

26. Have you ever done a reading you regretted doing? Why?
Yes. It was a live reading at a pamper night. A teenage girl came in and she had negative energy all over her. She had clearly come in just so she could be difficult with me and then go out have a funny story to tell. It was a most unpleasant experience. I should have followed my instinct and declined to read.

27. Do you have a special time or place that you use your Tarot?

28. Does anyone you know not agree with your use of Tarot? 
There may be a few but I pay no attention them. They are not ill-bred enough to say anything to me about it, anyway.

29. Have you had a Tarot Mentor? Who?
I have had many mentors, if you count reading of books. Rachel Pollack is astonishing. I also admire Mary K Greer. Kim Huggens is a shining new(ish) star in tarot writing. I had a mentor at TABI when I was going through my endorsement process, 'Ribbitcat'.

30. Do you practice any other form of divination? What?
To be honest, not really. I own runes and Story Cubes but I honestly prefer tarot and oracles. I do Lenormand readings, but Lenormand is not even a favourite oracle. It's just trendy at the moment and I can read it quite easily. No, tarot is my number one. :)

Green Man

Now this is an interesting card we have drawn today from Wicca Deck (Morningstar 2014). The green man image is depicted on an oak tree (you can see it has acorns on it), and carved into the tree is a door with runes around the frame. To be honest, I don't think these carry any meaning, which is a shame. I think it's purely decorative -- too bad. If any rune experts know better, do let me know!

In front of the door is a glowing orb wrapped round by a snake, which reminds me of the orphic egg.  Just outside its glow are some little flowering plants that might be some sort of lily. In the background we see a buck deer rearing up on its hind legs.
The card obviously speaks of masculine energy, creation and fertility. But who is the Green Man?

Who is the Green Man?*
As with many neopagan properties, the Green Man has been appropriated and a new history created. He is not an ancient remnant of a horned-god-and-earth-mother worshiping pagan faith. (Though I see absolutely no reason why he can't represent those natural masculine energies now, as he does to the pagan community). Actually the Green Man appeared in churches from the 11th century as part of the Christian visual iconography and declined after the Reformation period when the visual culture of medieval Christianity collapsed. He enjoyed a comeback in the 19th century as part of the Gothic Revival and appetite for medieval things. He was later appropriated to represent 'the archetype of our oneness with the earth' and embraced as such in counter-culture movements.

Modern study of the Green Man began in the 1930s with folklorist Julia Somerset, Lady Raglan. Influenced (as so many folklorists of the time were) by Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough, and by Margaret Murray's The Witch Cult in Western Europe, she came up with the notion that the Green Man was a remnant of pagan tree worship and spring sacrifice. But studies of pre-Christian religion in Britain have failed to find green men and they were not deities of classic pantheon. These images were not carved into Christian churches as a remnant of ancient pagan faith, but by devout Christian craftsmen.

Green men, being neither green nor always men, started as small drawings in the margins of Christian books in the 11th and 12th centuries. Their profuse tangled branches suggest an origin in the interlaced ornament of Saxon and Celtic art. Green men on churches, therefore, derived from an artistic culture rather than popular custom, as images in books were an important source of inspiration for patrons of churches. Sources for many motifs in churches and cathedrals have been traced to English manuscript illuminations, in particular English psalters of the 12th century. If the carvings are studied through the ages, the Green Man moves from a type of medieval demon to a Renaissance decoration, then into the Gothic revival period where they become mere badges of 'authentic' medieval style. The post-Industrial Revolution yearning for a more natural past informs recent transformation of the Green Man from an image rooted in medieval Christianity to the one that now, to some, stands for humanity's relationship with nature.

The Cards
Anyway, all that aside, the Green Man has its own meaning now, and certainly its own meaning in the Wicca Deck, which no medieval Christian mind would have derived from it, but which modern pagans do, and that is the idea of oneness with nature, abundance, fertility and growth.
In a draw, this card could suggest returning to simple things, ecological concerns, oneness with nature, natural growth processes, going with the natural flow, and so on.

The supporting card from the tarot deck is 6 of Swords. The card's meaning of journey, travel, exploration or overcoming difficulties takes on resonance in light of the history of the Green Man. If we take the pagan meaning of the Green Man as growth or ecological concerns, we can see 6 of Swords supporting us as we make a change from damage or hurt that may have been sustained (either personally or to the environment) and toward better times. (Though I'm really not sure how the huntress and hounds fit into that!)

Some things to think about today:

How is fertility and abundance playing itself out in your life right now?
When was the last time you went outside and enjoyed nature?
What can you do today to help the environment?
What new, fresh direction can you turn yourself toward?

*Hayman, Richard. 'Ballad of the Green Man'  History Today. April 2010. 37-44.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Raise your candle high

This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine...
Let it shine, let it shine
I'm gonna let it shine
Oh yeah

If you've been following the blog this week, you've done a lot of work already. Good for you! We've used the Wicca Deck (Morningstar 2014) and the Old English Tarot (Kneen 1997) to consider taking action toward our goals and setting boundaries in our self-talk and relationships. This is HUGE work and not something that can be completed in one day! These are issues that we come back to again and again. Personal growth starts with our first breath and doesn't end until our last. That's the nature of the game.

The card is all about letting our little light shine. It's time we said good-bye to concealing or making little of our talents and ideas. That's what the Bible calls hiding our light under a bushel -- how long will a candle burn if a bushel basket is turned over it? Not only will the candle soon be snuffed out, but while it does burn, no one will be able to see the light, and so what purpose has it even served? The same is true of us. We all have talents and skills to offer to the world. Not to do so is to let ourselves go to waste. We are meant to show forth our talents and skills and ideas, to offer freely to the world all that we have to give it. Like the peacock in the card, we should not be afraid to offer our beauty and our radiance to the world.

Memento mori

In support of this oracle card, we've drawn the tarot card Death.  Usually we see this card as symbol of an ending, usually a painful ending, that ultimately leads to renewal. But there is another meaning to the Death card that is often overlooked: memento mori. It's a Latin phrase that means: 'Remember you will die.'

You've got a light inside you. You have so many beautiful talents and abilities, natural tendencies, propensity to help and love and nurture. Are you allowing those beautiful aspects of yourself shine out and bless the world? Why not? Why are you waiting? Each day you are less than your radiant beautiful self is one day gone from your life when you could have contributed to the happiness and joy and peace of others. Don't be shy! Don't be modest! Don't hold back! You can bask in your own warmth and radiance as well. The Death card reminds us -- we only get a finite number of days to enjoy this.

I just thought of a song. You know of course that the word 'Phildelphia' means 'Brotherly Love', right? Greek 'philia' means 'altruistic love' and 'adelphos' means 'brother, fellow, belonging to the same people, countryman'. Well, I just thought of the song 'Philadelphia Freedom' by Elton John --

Oh Philadelphia freedom, I love you, shine on me
Shine a light, shine a light
Shine a light, won't you shine a light
Philadelphia freedom - I love you , yes I do!

Hey, we are part of this big world of fellow human beings, and we all should be shining our lights for as long as they last, shine our lights for each other.

I remembered another one! Do you remember Melanie and a song called 'Lay Down (Candle in the Rain)'?

So raise your candles high!
Cause if you don't we could stay black against the night.
Oh, raise them higher again
Cause if you do we could stay dry against the rain! 

(Melanie says, 'I wasn't really a hippie. I was more of just an oddball.' LOL)

 How are you going to let your light shine today? It doesn't have to be something huge. Watch for it today. When you feel like saying or doing something but feel yourself holding back--don't hold back. Go on and shoot that ray of love out into the world.

Monday, 21 July 2014

We've got the power and we've got some teaching to do

Today's draw from Wicca Deck (Morningstar 2014) and Old English Tarot (Kneen 1997) continues giving us messages about taking our personal power. Good!

In today's card we see the Athame, or knife, a Wiccan tool, also used in witchcraft, Druidry and other earth-based spiritual traditions. It's a beautiful image. The hand clutching the athame rises through rings of air (athame is the symbol of the element Air, direction east), and reaches up into the starry night sky where a mystical spiral sun burns up the night, a crescent moon watching from above. What an amazing scene.

The card is called Commander of Power. In practice, the athame is ritually used much like a wand, to direct energy. In the Wicca Deck, it takes on more authority, possibly because it is associated with masculine energy. (It is a phallic symbol in Wiccan ceremonies, where it is ritually plunged into the chalice, a female symbol). The card represents a commanding presence, a strong sense of self, and being in charge of one's life. A blade cuts through things, and so this image represents healthy boundaries. Now, that's the real fire!

And so that leads us to our supporting card for the day, King of Cups. Another masculine card, another symbol of mastery. This card, from Old English Tarot, features the king on his throne, surrounded by clusters of grapes. (Many Cups cards in this deck feature grape clusters). The card shows us where we need to set boundaries in order to become Commander of Power in our own lives--our emotions and our relationships.

Maya Angelou said that we teach people how to treat us. We lead them by example, did you know that? The way we treat ourselves and they way we let them treat us -- that's the precedent we create.

Time to set some boundaries then, and the place to start is with ourselves.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I put myself down in front of others (or even just to myself)?
  • Do I take the blame for things onto myself? 
  • Do I put myself last? 
  • Do I think other people deserve better than I deserve?

Now you know you need to use your Athame to cut out that behaviour. Set a boundary with yourself -- STOP belittling yourself, labelling yourself, blaming yourself, failing to prioritise yourself and feeling undeserving! Instead:

  • Compliment yourself on something -- anything! And instead of putting yourself down in conversations, catch yourself before you speak and instead, use that breath you drew to pay a compliment to the person you're talking to (or about the person you're talking about. You heard me!)
  • Think logically when things go wrong. Could you really have 'caused' what happened? Even if you were actually at fault, can you go back and do it over? And in 100 years, will anyone care? Let it go!
  • Do at least one thing today that is just for you--and don't wait until everyone else in the house is finally in bed. Tell them they can wait and go do something for yourself. You're teaching them how to treat you, remember?
  • Read this out loud right now - 'I am a precious child of the universe and I deserve every blessing it can offer.'

You've given yourself some thought, now let's look at others. Please ask yourself: 

  • Am I in any relationships in which I feel powerless?
  • What boundaries do I need in order to feel more empowered?
  • How can I do so in a way that is respectful toward the humanity of the person and of myself? 
  • What is one boundary-setting action I can take today? 

Take up that Athame of Power and look after yourself, lovelies.