Saturday, 19 April 2014

Charity begins at home

Deck of the Bastard 
Deck of the Bastard is the creation of Tarot by Seven and is a combination of the RWS minors and majors from several very old decks, given a brown patina with faux-grubby borders and your choice of back. It is my favourite cardstock, a sort of linen type of paper that feels very durable and shuffles like a dream. To be honest, I find the whole deck a little too brown for me, but I appreciate the effort and the idea behind it.

Today's card was 6 of Coins, and I interpreted it as how I'm feeling right now (at the mercy of people with more power or authority than me, at the mercy of circumstance with my physical body) and to remember that even if I feel pretty bad, I'm better off than a lot of people, probably most.

What also happened was that my lovely husband went to the shops for me because even though I got myself ready when we started out the door, I felt chills and slightly dizzy and really couldn't face the crowds at Sainsbury's on a Saturday bank holiday weekend. So he went and bought me several cans of soup. Then later, he brought me a blanket on the couch and made his own dinner. That was so nice of him to help me and look after me. It doesn't sound like much but it meant a lot to me. (I did thank him).

Week ahead - Deck of the Bastard

Rough night with dental discomfort/pain and nausea. Let's look at the cards for the next week and try a little predictive reading, then look at them again on each day:

Row 1: Sat Sun Mon
Row 2: Tue Wed Thu
Row 3: Fri
Today - 6 of Pentacles
This is a time when I must assess how much of my neediness in the material plane is down to perception. I feel quite on my knees to/at the mercy of events with regard to my physical body at the moment. I do feel at the mercy of those who seem to have more power over this aspect of my life at the moment; in this case, the dentists. I also feel that I am begging for mercy from a higher source for a good outcome.

It would probably not be a bad idea to get some perspective on events. There are many people in the world much far worse off than me with my dental pain/discomfort but the resources to eventually take care of the problem, even if I have to experience some pain for a few days or weeks, and even if the procedure is not the most pleasant in the world. No matter what happens, the worst case scenario for me is a tooth extraction. My life is not on the line. I'm not looking at chemo or open heart surgery. 

So this card is both an assessment of my current feelings and a call to remember I'm not the only one having troubles and in fact am better off than most.

Sun - Empress
It's hard not read every card in light of my most pressing problems. The Empress here suggests a day in which I should nurture myself in every way possible, mother myself. I should focus on the ways in which I do feel healthy. I should avoid talking about my problems. The Empress is a doer, not a talker. 

Mon - Justice
It's Easter Bank Holiday. It hardly seems fair to me that my dental woes have invariably fallen across weekends when the dentist is closed. Then, it hardly seems fair that the dentist is closed on weekends. A practice open on Saturday would do a booming trade. I can only hope that whatever discomfort I've been in for the last few days has seen a reduction.

In any case, the Justice card doesn't seem a harbinger of doom. Depending on how you number your cards, Justice is my year card. (The numbers of your date of birth added together and reduced is your year card. Mine is 8, which in some decks is Strength, in others Justice. I lay claim to both because my age is 47, 4+7=11, which seemed a coincidence too handy to ignore). 

It could be that Monday will be a day when I must deal dispassionately with the fact that life is impartial in dealing out woes. Or a day when I make connections between events and see the cause and effect. I might reach a solution or decision of some kind. 

Tue - 3 of Pentacles
It's back to work after being off since 11 April, but I must say, it hasn't been an especially fun holiday. There will be so many tasks to catch up on. I am not looking forward to it. I think I will probably be consulting with my manager a lot (if she's in). Team work is called for. 

Wed - The Devil
I think I know what this might point to. I originally booked off half a day's annual leave for this day (hubby asked me to). Should I go ahead and take it? Or should I stay at work for the day? The Devil is about feeling helpless, in bondage, thinking negatively, believing the worst, choosing to remain in ignorance, or any number of bleak concepts. It could be a day that I am tempted to call in sick altogether. But perhaps this could just point to a very busy day at work in which I feel like a slave! 

Thu - Wheel of Fortune
Does the worm begin to turn? Something is going to change on Thursday, anyway. I do hope it's for the better.

Fri - 9 of Cups
This looks hopeful....particularly following on from Devil, to Wheel, to 9 of Cups, as if a low point is reached on the Wednesday but looking better by the Friday. It is generally interpreted as achieving what you desire. I know what I desire as an outcome -- a settled down mouth, no pain, and able to eat without worrying about it. 

I'm going to do each entry for the next week in the evening to see how things actually panned out.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The tongue is ever turning to the aching tooth

Every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than a diamond. ~Miguel de Cervantes

How could a more perfect card be drawn for today? The Greenwood Tarot offers me 5 of Stones (or Pentacles). 'There will be trials and there will be challenges,' writes Mark Ryan in the Wildwood Tarot companion book, 'Life is a contact sport and there will be bruises. The desire and willpower to survive and recover from setbacks is vital and necessary. Maintaining a resilient mind and retaining a sense of humour are most important to our health, along with the knowledge that the sun will rise on another day filled with opportunities.'

Now that I'm getting used to Chesca Potter's style, I can see that our point of view in this image is from inside a cave, behind the child figure. The child sits at the mouth of the cave, which is outlined in yellow. A fire is between the child and the mouth of the cave - a very sensible plan, as it will serve as a deterrent to any animals entering the cave! And outside, in the black night, a violent storm of lightning is taking place. The child, dressed in colours that mimic both the cave and the lightning, shelters on his own, waiting it out. I like that the child is clothed in these motifs -- This, too, is part of me, and I am part of it, it seems to say. The bad and scary things are not separate from me, but also part of me. They are not the enemy but part of the life experience. Even danger is a brother.

My lightning storm may seem trivial to some -- it's my recent dental woes. Yesterday I ended up having what was, for me, a somewhat traumatic dental filling. Most of the tooth is gone and it was a very large filling, but the dentist did advise against a crown at this point, as that would increase the risk of loss of root vitality by up to 15%. So she did a huge filling that required 4 separate shots of Novocaine and took over half an hour. She discovered decay on the adjacent tooth when she had removed the old material and now I have to go back on 28 April to have that tooth filled as well. This morning of course there is a lot of sensitivity. I'm hoping very much that I don't develop what she described as a 'horrible, throbbing pain' in that tooth, which would indicate a root canal is needed. I read about root canal. Basically, it kills the tooth entirely, the roots are cleaned out and filled, and so you are left with a dead tooth there. They crown it over and that's that. The main reason I don't want one is the thought of her drilling out all this material she put in makes me feel like running screaming for the hide in a cave, I guess.

After 8 weeks of trouble with this tooth, I've trained myself to automatically send food to the other side to be chewed on the right. I don't dare chew on the left for fear of breaking this gigantic filling. That's not something I was advised, it's just my instinct. It's sensitive today. I may confine myself to soup. It's quite sensitive to air, hot and cold.

Dental procedures -- surely a young person's game. When I think of the things they did to me when I was a kid with braces, oh my gosh. How did I stand it? Used to hurt so bad I would actually run a fever.

Anyway. I retreated into my cave last night by having a few drinks and going to bed at 9.30. I wish I could stay in bed all day today, too.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Prick up your ears

Greenwood Tarot
Today's card image from Greenwood Tarot comes from the Uffington White Horse. I've been there. It's a pretty amazing site. On the ground, you can't really see anything much. You can walk to a nearby hill and see the image, but the best pictures are of course from the sky.

Nobody knows what the figure means, or even quite what it is -- a horse? a dragon? -- but it appears to be from the Iron Age or possibly the earlier Bronze Age, and is associated with the nearby hill fort site. The shape of the figure seems to have changed over time, and there is uncertainty as to what it originally looked like.

Image taken in 1929 by RAF:

Image taken in 2013:

View from the ground:

Some say it's a horse, a tribute to the Celtic goddess Epona. Some say King Alfred had it cut to commemorate his victories. Some say George slew the dragon on nearby Dragon Hill and it has to do with that. The fact is, nobody know what the heck it is, how old it is, or what it meant.

What we see on the Greenwood Tarot card is the 'head' of the horse, apparently snorting golden plumes of the 'breath of life'.

The card is the Ace of Arrows, or Ace of Swords -- a card of clear thinking. It is decisive ability, cutting through confusion or illusion, making a radical decision, seeing through deception, etc. The card focuses on the eye of White Horse of Uffington, and the arrow aligns with its upright ears. The horse has come alive with alertness and snorts in response to what it sees or understands.

It's an interesting card, but hard to apply to today, which as far as I know will be an easygoing day off. I do have a dentist appointment at 9.10 this morning, and will HOPEFULLY get this tooth fixed for good and ever.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Captain Caveman

In Greenwood Tarot, the Shaman is the equivalent of the traditional Magician card. He holds symbols of the four elements: a roebuck skull rattle for air, a stone knife for earth, a smudge stick for fire and a hollow antler cup for water.

'The Sorcerer' is one name for this cryptic painting found in the Trois Frères in France by Henri Breuil. Photocredit: Encyclopaedia Britannica(View Larger)The robe is decorated with famous cave art from Grotte de Trois Freres, in Ariege, France. The depictions here are based on the sketches of Henri Breuil, and to my eyes (and many others) great liberties have been taken! The figure with the antlers for example -- doesn't seem to have near the detail of Breuil's sketch, and it is disputed whether there are any antlers there at all, and it appears to be sitting rather than leaning forward dancing. For some reason, Breuil's drawing has become far more famous than the original cave painting. I can't even find a photograph online of the bison playing the bow. I did find a sketch of the entire panel of scratchings/engravings on the wall of the cave, and you can see him near the centre (he's small, and facing the left of the drawing):

wall engravings

We love to think we know what these images meant to the people who created them, but that is impossible. 'Ultimately,' writes Ronald Hutton in Pagan Britain, 'the significance of most of the images in the caves must elude us. Randall White has pointed out that research among living tribes who have carried on a hunting and gathering lifestyle in the Arctic, such as the Aivilik of the Inuit people, has proved that accurate interpretation of their painted and carved representations depends upon comprehensive understanding of their belief system and environment. In the case of the European Paleolithic, we can reconstruct the latter, but not the former; and there has been no hunter-gatherer people in modern times that has possessed a culture exactly like those of Old Stone Age Europe. The consistency with which similar images, locations and activities were reproduced there over twenty millenia argues for a very strong framework of beliefs, but one completely lost to us.'

Much of what neopagans say about prehistoric art and beliefs comes from early archeologists whose work has now been seriously called into question or entirely discredited. However, the truth has never been seen as an obstacle by neopagans -- it's the meaning 'we' give these things that counts to them, and so we see here appropriated symbols from cave art, given meaning on a tarot card, though the wording is speculative. At the very least, the symbols on the Shaman's cloak attempt to connect to him an ancient spirituality that is earth-based and animistic.

 Scratch beneath the surface of the Shaman and you get traditional Magician meanings:

He is the bridge between the natural world and the spirit world.
He is a man of action - he envisions an outcome and then takes step to make it happen.
He has all the tools he needs to fully engage with life.
He is vigorous, creative, focused, centered.

I am going to the dentist today to have this overhanging filling removed and replaced. I hope the new dentist I see will be able to work some magic and place a filling that fades from my awareness, as all good dental work should.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Kundalini from behind the veil

Wow! This is one the more hallucinatory cards from Greenwood Tarot (Ryan and Potter 1996). It seems to me the deck is split into two, perhaps three, distinct styles: the colourful, soft focus style, and the fragmented trance style. This is one of the trance cards! (There are a few in the deck that I would call a 'warm fuzzy, soft cuddly' style, such as the stoat, the horse and the mama and baby bear cards...) I love both styles, but I am particularly fascinated by these fragmented ones. It's like Chesca Potter has painted energy, the aspect unseen. When I look at these cards, I feel like this is the true 'reality' of what's going on around us, the vibrations and energy and movement of all these atoms, all this energy -- all these 'strings' of string theory. :)

The companion book says of 3 of Wands: 'Nourishment from a spiritual source that gives inner security and joy. Goals and desires reached, making life rich with emotional security and a sense of completion.' And Chesca Potter has also written: 'A figure has stepped through the gateway of the two of Wands, arms open to receive the blessing of fulfilment. They stand in the healing radiance of the afterglow created after a loving polaric interchange. This is represented by the caduceus of intertwined serpents on their cloak (see Adder). This energised peace does not require another person, it can be achieved after an act of Creativity or Joy.'

The caduceus is also seen in two other cards in Greenwood Tarot: Adder, which Potter refers to, is the King of Wands, and also in my favourite card of the deck, Balance (aka Temperance).  The King of Wands shows two adders entwined beside a flaming wand. (It so happens that this card is done in the 'warm fuzzy' style I mentioned earlier). The Balance card is my favourite card in this deck. I would love to have a big framed poster of this image hanging on my living room wall. Temperance tends to be my favourite card in most decks, and this is probably my favourite Temperance card. It manages to combine elements from traditional tarot imagery (a robed human shape, water, an indication of two vessels, irises) with alchemical imagery (red and white entwining) along with hints of chakra balancing (the lotus-like suns), auras and an overall hallucinatory, shamanic feel. It is a remarkable card (and is a prime example of the 'colourful, soft focus' style I noted earlier). 

Three of Wands is the 'Lord of Virtue'. It's a word that has come to have many shades of meaning, but its root is the Latin 'virtus', meaning 'of man' or 'manly' -- strong, courageous, valorous, excellent, etc. When we view this card and contemplate it, it's like a snapshot of where 'virtue' comes from. I wrote about the 3 of Wands recently and said that the figure in the card is 'simply feeling the energy of her life and the physicality of knowing she is on the track that is right for her. It's almost like she is pulling energy up from the earth,' and today's card is like a snapshot of what that looks like from the point of view of the energy, instead of the point of view of the person experiencing the feeling. It's like a visual representation of the feeling of drawing energy into oneself from the universe and up from the earth, with the kundalini rising. Remarkable card. 

It says to me more than anything else today that I need to do some focused energy work. I think some meditation and perhaps even a nice long kundalini yoga session is in order for the day!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Full Moon Reading

Today is the full moon. Let's see what I need to release and embrace:

The Greenwood Tarot (Ryan and Potter, 1996) is telling me to release my need to be in firm control of everything and to embrace feeling frustrated and out of control.


The Ace of Stones (Ace of Pentacles) is a standing stone on a stark white background, decorated with prehistoric 'cup and ring' markings. No one knows what these markings signified to the people who made them, but they are found widely throughout the prehistoric world. For that matter, we don't know why they stood stones on their ends, or configured them in circles. But in any case, we have on Ace of Stones a standing stone, marked with cups and rings, an ancient monument. Chesca Potter says: 'Mythically the foundation stone means the first dry land on which life could begin. Also the first created form, matter, the mother stone, the firm ground from which one can begin one’s journey and measure the eight directions, the birthing ground, the navel stone. The Labyrinth is the place where your journey begins; the first steps; the cup and ring marks represent the source, your emergence into this world. The mare’s hoof mark, considered vulvic in shape means the source of life-the first steps on dry land; following the original horse herds led to your food source. A new stability enters your life.' Which, to be honest is what I thought it meant. Stability in life. Well, this draw is telling me to let go of this need for stability and instead to embrace Frustration.

The 5 of Arrows (or Swords) shows an archer shooting at a flying goat or ram. I can see how this could be frustrating! 'A double edged card depending on whether you are the hunter or the hunted. The card can be a warning -- either take flight or stand firm and face the situation. Ungrounded aims and fears,' writes Chesca Potter. I believe the card is telling me to get used to the feeling of being ungrounded, of things not going right, of things being unstable. 

It reminds me of this poster:

Ugh. This is hard for me. I love control. Even if it is an illusion. (Those are usually our favourite things.)