Tarot is such a fantastic tool for finding your way, getting clear about what you want and refocusing on what’s important. A daily draw can advise you about your day and a periodic full reading can guide you for months.
Catherine Chapman of Tarot Elements posted a wonderful blog post explaining her Vision Spread http://www.tarotelements.com/tarot-spreads/vision-spread/ (the blog is still being ornery) and how to use it to focus on and achieve your goals.
From Tarot Elements:
“What is the Vision Spread
The Tarot Elements Vision Spread is a new way to approach Goal Setting. It incorporates Life Coaching models and techniques, the Tarot and some innovative Tarot reading techniques too. It’s a pro-active way to look at your future because it helps you achieve your goals and not just dream about them.”
Check it out! Catherine is a genius.
Two years ago on this day I made the decision to get serious about “going pro” as a tarot reader. I’ve been reading for years but it was not my main focus. Reader’s Studio was the impetus. Commiting to attend a conference with all the readers, writers and artists I admired was a huge step for me. Actually spending three days with them all was nearly mindblowing. It was a dive into the deep end and I came out the other side clear and energized.
My love affair with Tarot actually began many, many years before. It was during a highschool love affair that I came across my first deck. We were in a bookstore together, waiting on the checkout line when I saw the stack of Rider-Waite decks. I pointed them out to him and he suggested I buy one. I waffled. He laughed. We were in front of the cashier when I finally made up my mind and added a deck to my purchase. He smiled at me because he knew I would do it. It was thrilling.
I still have that deck. It came with me to Reader’s Studio though I didn’t read with it there. It’s become almost a talisman, a good luck charm. When I first brought it home from the bookstore and thumbed through the images it was a little frightening and it unnerved me. Now it’s comforting. A few weeks after my first Readers’ Studio I was reading with it for a friend and we concluded I needed to be doing this for real. She was right. I knew she was right. I waffled. She laughed and Coneflower Tarot was born.
I am sure he had no idea what he started by goading me into buying the tarot deck I wanted. I’ve had it for nearly thirty years. It amazes me that it was so long ago. I’ve done many, many other things with my life in that time, picking up the cards now and then to gain some insight or clarity. Tarot has slowly become a big part of my life and connected me with a larger something I can’t quite explain. I have learned a lot about myself and about life but the community of friends I’ve gained is the sweetest gift of Tarot.
On Facebook a friend posted that the card of the day was Death. No matter how many times it turns up, or that I know better than to do so, I recoil from that card; but only for a second.
This one is from the Shadowscapes Tarot, a visually stunning deck done by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. Way back when I was first learning tarot I associated Death with the phrase “change from within”. I think that phrase still holds up but there is so much more to it. Death is part of the process. It’s sloughing off the old and moving onto the new. The phoenix in this card captures that idea so well and the image expresses it beautifully. Snakes outgrow their skin; chicks outgrow their shells; people outgrow aspects of their lives and themselves; the phoenix outgrows it’s feathers. It is a natural progression. Death precedes rebirth. So it is fitting that the card of the day is Death. Two years ago my life was different and I’ve let that go so my life can be what it is today.
I’ve noticed over the years that when cards come up they mean one thing at the time of the reading and frequently mean different things in different ways over the course of the day. Tarot has a sense of humor and irony. I was playing with my first deck today and wondering what he would think of where this has taken me. I can’t ask him because he died about ten years after I bought that deck. It occurred to me that the Death card referenced his passing and change that brought about too.
So, as an homage to him and the wonderful gift he didn’t realize he gave me I launched Coneflower Tarot on his birthday. Happy Birthday, Bern and thank you, wherever you are.
I like everything about the Farmers’ Market. The produce, naturally, and the variety of vendors but mostly I like the actual farmers. I’ve been going to this market for years now and have become friendly with quite a few vendors. It’s easy when we all live in the same community. That’s the nicest thing about this market: these farmers are my neighbors. When I first started going to this market it was just a unique shopping experience. Now I spend an hour or more there catching up with Doris and Diana. Doris is a riot. She keeps a space in her booth for the vegetables that get deformed in bizarre ways. They are perfectly edible just weird looking. Some of them are nearly pornographic. Those she shows only to certain customers. Diana has the best potatoes and our youngest children are in school together. Maddy and her husband, Joe, the bread vendors, ask after my husband and have him on their prayer list. He’s in the Reserves and they put him on their list when he deployed a few years ago. They keep him there just in case.
Quite a few towns in this county have a market and they are on different days of the week. This comes in handy on the days I miss my favorite market http://www.goshennychamber.com/wordpress/ but I try not to miss it. (Sorry, the link dohickey isn’t cooperating with me so I put the whole URL in)
Farming is a lot of work and it’s hard work. Everytime I go to the market I marvel at how inexpensive the food is considering the effort to produce it. No one gets rich being a farmer but there is something alluring about the energy on a farm and it carries over into the market. Being at Doris’ farm, standing in the Black Dirt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Dirt_Region) and seeing acres of vegetables sprouting and growing touches something primal. To be the ones working with that soil to coax those vegetables out takes a certain kind of personality. I’m eternally grateful for these people. Without them I’d have nothing to eat.
When we first moved here twelve years ago, I planted a vegetable garden. I was quite proud of myself. It wasn’t very big but I had lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, sunflowers and they were growing beautifully. In one day a groundhog and a handful of deer ate the whole thing. Ever since any garden I plant has been a battle between myself and the wildlife who think I’ve put out a buffet. I’m not giving up on it but until then I’ll be gladly exchanging my money for Doris’, Diana’s, Maddy’s and Joe’s goods.
This is what I think of whenever I pull the Six of Earth from the Gaian Tarot.
Years ago, when I my youngest was starting school, I joined an established book club of local women. Once a month we would get together over lunch and discuss the book we had all read that month. I didn’t last long. They had similar values to each other and I was the odd one out. I relate better with people who have a philosophical bent whether they are spiritual or not and have a very difficult time with people who seem to have no sense of humor. It can be quite a learning experience to be in the company of people who prize things and ideas you don’t care about. They were likeable and somewhat friendly but not particularly warm and I found myself holding back from them. You’ve had this experience, I’m sure. Everyone has. You just know these people aren’t ‘friend material’ and the relationship will never be anything more than superficial civility. When I run into one of these ladies now we are each cordial to the other. There are no hard feelings it was just a bad fit.
I stayed with the book club for a few months until the month we read The Four Agreements. Reading this particular book was not my idea and I was surprised that a member of this group would suggest they read a spiritual, self-help book and even more suprised when they all agreed. I thought perhaps I needed to reassess my opinion of this group. Maybe I’d been a snob, maybe I’d been unfair. The day came when we met to discuss the book and I was very interested to hear what everyone had to say. Let me just say that I think the four agreements themselves are very useful but I found the book a little cutesy new-age. I recommend it to people all the time because the message is, in my opinion, very useful. Well, the book club never got past the second agreement: “Don’t take anything personally.”
When it came time to discuss this agreement I was the first to say I thought it was wonderful. To me it was an ’a-ha!’ moment. The truth of it seemed so clear to me that I was sorry I hadn’t thought of it on my own. Once I understood the idea it seemed so obvious. They all looked at me like I’d sprouted a second head. The concept of not taking things personally is rooted in the fact that people behave the way they do because of who THEY are not because of you. So THEIR responses and reactions to you, or any other situation really, comes out from where THEY are in life, what THEY believe to be true and so on. It’s NOT about you. Your interaction with a second person may trigger a reaction from them but if a third person were to take your place in the discussion the second person would still behave as they did. YOUR response to any interaction is YOUR responsibility. YOUR reaction is because of who YOU are not because of the other person.
The reaction from the book club was ironic. They all turned on me. For the next hour the discussion centered around things that had happened to each of them that were personal and how that experience invalidated the book. My first reaction was to be stunned. I hadn’t expected such a violent response to a book or for these women to not even entertain my idea. The group dynamic was amazing. Not a single one of them understood what I was trying to say and not a single one of them let me complete a sentence. This group of otherwise cordial women became rude and nearly hostile with one particular woman leading the pack. About ten minutes into it I realized that I was in a situation where I had to put my money where my mouth was and not take this personally. When the lunch was over I thanked the hostess, bid the ladies farewell and ended my membership in this group. That was early 2005.
This past weekend I learned that one of these women, the one who most vociferously defended taking things personally, was involved in sabotaging something I was working on in our community. She told a mutual friend that she was happy I didn’t get what I wanted because she hates me. The actions she was applauding hurt this man, this mutual friend as well and until that was brought to her attention she didn’t realize she’d injured him because she had been so focused on interfering with me. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around this when I learned it. I can’t imagine setting out to undo someone or delighting in another person’s loss. I didn’t really understand what motivated her.
We had had a minor confrontation in 2006 where she came after me and I defended myself but that was five years ago. I thought that was that. We almost never interact and I can’t remember the last time I even thought about her let alone spoke to her. She told our mutual friend that her intense dislike of me stems from that confrontation. That was amazing to me. I sat in our booth on Sunday, in the rain and pondered this. I wasn’t hurt by this revelation but I was angry for a few minutes because of the callous way my friend was treated. It’s actually quite a waste of energy to be so vindictive and petty that you hurt innocent people to satisfy yourself. As the rain fell and I thought this over I pulled a card to find out where this woman was coming from. I got the Five of Cups.
She’s focused on what’s not there, what is lost. The cups are about emotions and the empty cups can be symbolic of places of need or emotional injury. The two full cups behind the figure are being ignored. This figure prefers to focus on what’s missing, what’s lacking and so that becomes their world view. There is a flowing river right nearby and the cups could easily be refilled but instead they are left where they fell and the figure stands there, cloaked in sorrow, staring at them. I thought of that Richard Bach quote “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours” There is no real reason for this person to be in this situation beyond the personal decision to stay there like holding a grudge for five years. Kind of sad isn’t it.
I don’t think I can be objective about this deck. I also don’t think that’s a problem. From the first day I came across Joanna’s blog I was smitten. The Gaian Tarot enchanted me like no other deck. It is rich with subtle spirituality, finding the divine in the mundane. The deck is peopled with folks of all ages, shapes, colors and sizes. The images with no people focus on the animals and scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Every single image tells a complete story.
To say this is a beautiful deck is inadequate. Joanna Powell Colbert’s artwork is amazing. Each card is a reproduction of a colored pencil painting and the whole process of creating the seventy-eight paintings took nine years. Truly a labor of love. She chronicled her process on her old blog Gaian Tarot Artist’s Journal and many of us followed along getting to see the deck one card at a time. Now that Joanna has completed it you can browse through the whole deck on her site and see for yourself the gentle yet powerful images she created. I purchased a limited edition version of this deck from the artist herself and being the fangirl I am I already pre-ordered the Llewellyn edition from Amazon. Let me tell you why.
The first thing that struck me, as you may have guessed, was the artwork. Take a look:
This is Gaia, the World. In the Rider Waite tarot, the deck most people think of when they think of tarot, this is The World card and the image is of a young, nude woman, strategically draped in a cloth, surrounded by a laurel wreath with the symbols of the four evangelists in the corners. Joanna went a different way subtly but directly expressing Earth-centered spirituality. Here is the Grandmother of All cradling Mother Earth. Prayer flags wave in the background and she is surrounded by a wreath of blessing herbs forming a mandorla gateway, with animals representing the four directions in the corners. The elements of this image flow into and around each other bringing your eye from the loving expression on Grandmother’s face to the gentle grasp of her hands on the Earth. The wreath of herbs pulls you up and around from the deer signifying North to the eagle for East, snake for South and back to the salmon for West. Even if you never read tarot before you would get the warm, comforting feeling from this card that is connected to it. You understand that ‘all is well’.
Another part of the Gaian Tarot’s charm is its readability. The images are so well designed and executed that they speak to you. Even if you don’t fully understand the underlying symbolism the message of the cards comes through.
Just from the first look at this card you can see these two have a passionate connection to each other. They could also be playing with fire in this relationship. For the moment I don’t think either of them care.
The deck itself stays true to the basic tarot structure. There are seventy-eight cards divided into the Major and Minor Arcana, with twenty-two and fifty-four cards respectively. Instead of the traditional names of the suits this deck uses the corresponding elements for the suit names. Pentacles becomes Earth, Swords are Air, Wands are Fire and Cups are Water. The Court Cards are now The Child, The Explorer, The Guardian and The Elder of their elements. The Major Arcana is the element of Spirit and ‘Soul lessons’.
The Limited Edition version of this deck is printed on recycled paper with soy based ink. The cards are coated with a non-petroleum finish and the print quality is excellent. This has been my default deck for over a year now and it shows no signs of wear. The card images are surrounded by a white border with the name of the card spelled out along the bottom edge. The border is unobtrusive and in many of the cards a portion of the image creeps into the border. The back of the cards are the blue sky of The Star card with a wreath of blessing herbs from the Gaia The World card. The accompanying book is a treasure. Each card is reproduced as a miniature black and white. The Majors each have several pages devoted to them explaining the image, the meaning, the shadow side of the card and an affirmation. Then there is a breakdown of the symbolism included and what it signifies. The Minors have an explanation of the image, the meaning it has in a reading, the shadow side and an affirmation. This book could stand alone as a day book or for use in meditation. As if this wasn’t enough the deck comes in a hand-dyed, handmade silk drawstring bag, with a small mesh bag of blessing herbs and your choice of a Gaian Tarot Amulet.
I have been reading with this deck for myself and others for over a year and the results are wonderful. I get clear readings that are honest, insightful and gently firm. Just the sort of advice you’d expect from a loving mother. The response from my clients has all been positive and at some point in each reading a client will comment on the beauty of these cards. While the Gaian Tarot is gentle it pulls no punches. When there are hard things to face she points them out. I wholeheartedly recommend this deck to anyone who is interested in reading tarot whether you practice Earth-centered Spirituality or not.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, 1883