The Trip Tarot Spread

14 August 2017

Surrounded by fresh laundry, four different packing lists and copious suncream, you'd be forgiven for thinking I'm packing for our family holiday, but no. Instead, I've written a new Tarot spread in advance our forthcoming trip. If you're heading away soon, you might like to try it too. 
Click the image to enlarge, and as always, if you try the spread out, and post on Instagram, I'd love to see it -please feel free to tag me @thecuriouscardslinger and use #thetriptarotspread.

I tried the spread last night and made plenty of notes in my journal so I'll be sure to see how it compares when we get home. In the meantime, this blog will be quiet while I'm away but I'm planning to post on Instagram as usual. 

Now for the really tricky bit - deciding which decks to take....

On Wearing (Family) Life Loosely

10 August 2017

Over the 40-something years of my life so far, I've learned that when recurring themes appear, it's best to acknowledge them and figure out why.
The Enchanted Map Oracle Cards and The Map (book) by Colette Baron-Reid* are perfect for 'shadow' work
[W]hen you begin to observe cycles that seem to repeat in your life, they're invitations to do things differently this time around. - From 'The Map' by Colette Baron-Reid
Shortly after posting about my frustrations and the need to let go of my expectations (ideals) on a recent trip with the kids, I watched a video from Jessi Huntenburg in which she talked about our shadow aspects - the darker repressed parts of ourselves that we are uncomfortable about - being triggered, especially by our kids. There it was again, nudging me to delve deeper.

This triggering of old wounds (from the distant past) is not a new concept for me, it's something I've been working on (at some level) for most of my adult life¹, but never more so than since becoming a parent, and it's something I'm very much aware of at the moment. It feels as though our family is at a turning point as our oldest child is about to begin secondary school. My concerns aren't about the school or his education - I think they will be great. It's the process of him having a lot more freedom and me 'losing control' that has brought (dredged) up quite a lot for me. I worry about keeping him safe and what he'll be exposed to. How he'll cope. I feel that in some respects I am 'losing' him - the child I have nurtured, loved, and carefully watched-over for more than a decade. What might happen, without me doing that? 

My own early life was quite different to that of my children, and my husband. I was raised in a different place and time, and with a different set of circumstances. Not only have I not parented a child of this age before but when I was one (over 30 years ago) everything - the world - was very different! It's been shocking to acknowledge quite how much I need to be in control of things in order to feel safe. The issues and decisions I have to face, parenting our children, are unknown and challenging. And it's not just that, we all have certain expectations of one another, and all sorts of hormones are flying around from different sides.

Trying to be 'conscious' while dealing with all of this is not just difficult, sometimes it feels impossible. As much as I know it's illogical to bring old feelings based on childhood assumptions into my own parenting, that doesn't make it automatically stop. It a process - a constant and conscious decision that needs to be made to over-ride the hardwiring (in the way my brain/personality/ego developed). I try to remind myself that part of the human experience is the development of the ego and the suffering and separation that comes with it - it was for me as it will be for my children - all I can do is to parent as consciously as possible, and to work on my own 'shit' as it arises. It keeps arising.

Cards from The Wild Unknown by Kim Krans

Today I drew The High Priestess and the Ten of Swords for the Tarot Nerds Daily Draw Challenge, and posted the image above along with the following text on Instagram:

"Getting caught up in the mundane dramas and general craziness of modern life, and letting our thoughts focus on the things that are negative and anxiety-inducing, not only hurts us, but it blinds us too. We lose sight of what's important and our intuition becomes blocked. So it's also self-perpetuating, we can no longer see a way out. Stay calm, centred and grounded - live without attachment. To borrow a phrase 'Wear the world as a loose garment', to be in the world and not of it."

Now, it's one thing to post a picture of some cards and some words of wisdom which could apply to anyone who sees it, but the real transformative work comes when we delve deeper and look at how the message applies to our own lives. What we can learn from the cards and how can it help us to move forward? 

For me, I think the real message of these two cards, and the one I've written about in my personal journal, is how to wear family life more loosely. To be the observer of my own interactions and the way that my shadow is showing up in these new experiences, to listen to what my gut is saying and to follow my instinct accordingly. Funnily enough, when I was looking for the quote above in my book, I also came across this:
The voices of your thoughts and beliefs, which often become impassioned, can be so loud and incessant that they distract you from the quieter voices inside you. The greatest wisdom and most valuable insights and guidance are whispered, barely audible underneath the cacophony of your ego. - Page 60, The Map.
Like I said, a theme will recur when you need to hear it.

What themes are coming up for you? Have you been listening to the quiet voice that's nudging you towards something you need to see? Or are you ignoring it?

*Amazon affiliate links are included in this post. 

¹ I was fortunate to do the Landmark Forum (twice - with David Ure and Anny Zollinger) shortly after leaving University, and dealt with a lot of perceived "issues" from my childhood early on.

Letting Go of Expectations

7 August 2017

I spent the weekend visiting relatives in my home town (roughly a four-hour drive away) with my kids. It was really lovely... apart from the constant rain, the driving, and having to be confined to a single hotel room in the evenings. Don't get me wrong, my children are both great. Just not together. They don't get on especially well, and that's never more evident than when they are together for any length of time - in this case, for 48 hours. 

The Empress from the Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot* / US Games.
The Empress has been showing up a lot lately - I even wrote an Empress Spread. She popped up as my theme for the month of August too, so I was determined to harness her energy on this trip - to be a nurturing 'earth mother', to embody harmony and grace, with a peaceful and calm demeanour. Needless to say, this lasted about three and a half hours of driving through intermittent rain showers, on a busy motorway, with the kids arguing (over everything) in the back seat.

After dinner, we checked into the hotel for the evening and I pulled three cards from Healing Light Tarot. I chose them as the 'daily theme' but really it was just an excuse to shuffle, which I usually find comforting and calming. This card stock is a bit slippery and I'm a sloppy shuffler, so it wasn't quite as relaxing as I'd hoped, but I digress. The cards I pulled were very apt.
Page of Wands, Chariot & High Priestess from Healing Light Tarot by Christopher Butler / Lo Scarabeo.

Rather than being the Empress, I'd been the Chariot. Literally driving the car, but also being pulled between (and trying to steer!) my fiery temperamental/ hormonal son and my daughter, who is younger but much more worldly-wise and very emotionally intelligent.

For the rest of the weekend, I took a much more literal 'Empress' approach and got them outside as much as possible - between rain and hail showers. Getting outside gave the kids a chance to run around and let off some steam in the fresh air. It also gave me the opportunity to catch up on my studies and 'morning pages'¹. It was a shame I didn't have the Wildwood Tarot with me, as it would have been perfect for reading amongst the trees. 

Page of Pentacles from The Original Rider Waite Tarot / US Games. 

Being outdoors certainly helped a lot, but it didn't stop all of the conflict between the kids. By Saturday evening we were all exhausted and a bit fraught with one another. I vowed not to take them away together again without my husband, and started to fret about them being 'confined' together in the villa we've hired for our main family holiday later this month. I was feeling disappointed that I hadn't lived up to my parenting goals, something I'm definitely feeling more as the family grows and I'm less 'in control' of things. (Learning to let go is another recurring theme in recent readings.)

As much as I loved seeing my family, it was really good to get home and for everyone to have their own space again - a way to take a break from one another. With the kids both off doing their own thing, I put my feet up, my husband poured me a glass of wine, and I pulled the most perfect advice card from Wisdom of the Oracle.
Time for a Nap from Wisdom of the Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid / Hay House.
This is a time to step away and rest. Let the cares of your world go. Go into a state of non-action, and allow yourself to be free of the shackles of your goals, your lists, your desires. Nothing is as important as rest, detachment, and neutrality. The overly busy mind can block you from inner wisdom if you don't step back, take a seat, and rest. 
I don't need telling twice. Today, I shall mostly be pootling about the house and letting go of my expectations.
*Amazon affiliate links are included in this post. 
¹ A daily exercise from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron - read more here

Lammas Tarot Spread

1 August 2017

Lammas (or Lughnasadh) is a 'first harvest' celebration of prosperity and abundance. Here, in the Northern Hemisphere, Lammas falls on 1st/2nd August and is the mid-point between Summer solstice and Autumn equinox, when woodland creatures are being born and berries are abundant on bushes and trees.
Lammas takes its name from ‘hlaf maesse’, the Old English for ‘loaf mass’, and this is the time when the cereal crops are harvested. There are links to other cultures and religions too, notably Demeter and Ceres, also associated with crops and the harvest. There are many ancient customs involving the cutting of the first and last sheaf. The spirit of the corn, sometimes referred to as the Corn Mother, was the sacred symbol of this festival. Many cultures, including the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, held similar types of rituals where the bounty of the land was honoured. -
As well as using this as an opportunity to be grateful for our blessings, it's the perfect time to look at the things we have been 'sewing' in our own lives, what we need to nurture further, and how we can share our blessings with others. 

To mark the occasion, I made a simple 6-card Tarot Spread to use with The Wildwood Tarot* which based around the Wheel of the Year. You can expect to see a lot more of that deck as I become more familiar with it, as it's absolutely gorgeous! If you'd like to try it too, with any deck of your choice, click on the image above for an enlarged view. 

Lammas Spread using The Wildwood Tarot*, illustrated by Will Worthington

If you enjoy the spread please let me know in the comments below or if you post it on Instagram, please tag me @thecuriouscardslinger and use the hashtag #tcclammasspread.

Further reading: 
*Amazon affiliate

Media Preview Spread - GoT S7 E2

25 July 2017

*** Includes spoilers from the second episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 ***

Following the fun Tarot exercise I did last week (I 'previewed' the first episode of Game of Thrones season 7 via the Linestrider Tarot¹, referred to the accompanying book for interpretations, and after watching the show considered whether the cards were a good match), I couldn't wait to do it again.

As previously, links are provided to the GoT wiki pages for the characters mentioned although a sound knowledge of the show is presumed. Clicking on any of the images will enlarge them for detail.

For anyone who missed the spread in my earlier post, there are five positions - the first is about the main character, which I decided would be Jon Snow. Cards two through four are main themes of the episode, and the final card represents something interesting that happens. 


Card 1.  Something to look out for in relation to the main character - The Magician - When Jon Snow was murdered, the Red Priestess - Melisandre - resurrected him, so it was a fairly good bet that this related to her. Plus, red features prominently on the card. The only other person who makes me think of the 'Magician' archetype is Qyburn but he is still busy with his nefarious experiments at King's Landing so I couldn't imagine a strong connection with Jon is this episode. I felt sure the card related to Melisandre.
The Magician & Judgment by Siolo Thompson

Card 2. Theme - Judgment - This particular illustration shows Judgment as an angel whose mask is coming off. Last week we saw Arya Stark wearing, and removing, the former face of the deceased Walder Frey so I immediately thought of her. In the book, Siolo Thompson writes this about the card (on p. 89 of the book that accompanies the deck):
You must take stock of your life. It may be time to find new ways of living. You may be called to change your life or open yourself up to a new possibility...The Judgment card speaks of an epiphany, a realisation that you have not been living up to your potential or that you can do more for others. This card calls for a period of reflection and self-evaluation. 
Card 3. Theme - The Empress - The Empress is about femininity - creativity, fertility (of body and mind), passion and nurturing. The card made me think of Sansa Stark for a couple of reasons - firstly she is the only main female character who truly embodies these characteristics for me, and secondly because the image shows her protected by a tiger and with a monkey on her back. The monkey made me think of the master manipulator Lord Baelish aka 'Littlefinger', who stands behind her but is as tricksy as a performing monkey and just as likely to steal from her!

The Empress & Ten of Wands by Siolo Thompson

Card 4. Theme - Ten of wands - The burden of responsibility! Jon, as a reluctant 'King of the North' is carrying a huge burden he didn't ever want. The book's description for this card sums up Jon's feelings from the first episode (on p. 171) and which I suspected would continue in episode 2:
Success or investment in a project or period of life often brings heavy responsibilities and commitments. It may be time for you to move on to something new, but right now you are aware of all the weight on your back, the people who depend on you, and the community that supported you. 
Card 5. Something interesting to look out for - Ace of Swords - This would be something to do with truth, clarity of vision, deceit, or self-delusion. The crown and laurel leaves represent victory. I really didn't know what this might refer to.
Ace of Swords by Siolo Thompso


Here's my take on how each of these cards related to the events in the episode:

- Melisandre did indeed return, and began the process of getting Jon and Daenerys together. She also mentioned the prophecy of the Prince who was Promised - she believes this is Jon, but it could be Daenerys who (unknown to either of them) is his aunt. The Magician appears "when you need to channel the power of the universe toward your goals" and this certainly represents the Red Priestess in this storyline - her speech to Daenerys and Tyrion is instrumental in getting Jon to Dragonstone (which also holds the raw material he needs to defeat the White Walkers)!

- Arya did indeed have a Judgment moment - an epiphany! While talking to her friend Hot Pie, she discovered that (what remains of) her family are back at Winterfell and leaves her vengeful quest to head to King's Landing to return home instead. She has been fueled entirely by vengeance since her father was killed in season 1 so this is a remarkable change for her... although we don't actually know whether she will continue on her journey home following her encounter with the direwolf Nymeria!

- With Jon heading out to Dragonstone Island, Sansa was left in charge of the North. Yep, that's Empress, alright.

-  As expected, the Ten of Wands did relate to Jon's burden as King of the North. As well as dealing with the ongoing issues of the seven kingdoms, he's the only ruler who truly appreciates the threat from beyond the wall, so it's a heavy burden indeed.

- When I wrote last week's post, I (stupidly!!!) wasn't sure who the pirate in Seven of Swords referred to (this was last week's position 5 card). Even if a reader hadn't suggested it was Euron Greyjoy, I'd have been in no doubt after episode two. Euron's victory over his neice Yara's fleet, not only clarified his position as 'the pirate', but also seems to have been represented in this week's fifth card. 

- The Ace of Swords is "not always a gentle card; it often pushes you to set aside your idealism or fantasies in favour of a more analytic approach... Every indication is given that success is yours if you can clearly understand and assess the facts, be honest about your motivations, accept the truth of your situation, and take decisive action." It was Euron's truthful / insightful assessment of Theon as a "dickless coward" which prompted Theon to desert his sister (like a rat!) and leave her and her fleet to Euron's mercy at the climax of the show. I'd say Euron perfectly embodied the energy of this Ace! 

I really like this spread - I've been so much more invested in the show, sitting with my notes beside me each week. Yet again, the cards I drew were pretty good too! It's likely that I'll continue this exercise for the rest of the season. What do you think? Would you have taken these (book) interpretations and applied them to the same characters and events as me? Or would you have done it differently? 

¹ The Linestrider Tarot is by Siolo Thompson, published by Llewellyn. Amazon affiliate links are included in this post. Page references are for The Linestrider's Journey book which accompanies the deck.

Media Preview Spread - GoT S7 E1

18 July 2017

***Includes spoilers from the first episode of  Game of Thrones Season 7 ***

A few weeks ago, I came across a 'media preview spread' and decided to give it a try before the new series of Game of Thrones (GoT) aired here in the UK. I found this spread on Facebook, and it was listed as being from, although I couldn't find the original post to link directly. I'm assuming anyone interested in reading this is familiar with the show's characters, however links to the Game of Thrones Wikia website are also provided. 

There are 5 positions in the spread:
1. Something to watch put for in the main character - I decided this should be Jon Snow.
2 to 4. The Main Themes.
5. Something interesting to keep an eye out for. 

For this exercise, I chose The Linestrider Tarot¹ by Siolo Thompson and published by Llewellyn, because it feels like a great match for the show. I decided to take the meanings from the accompanying book, so that I couldn't simply apply my own card interpretations to try to make them fit - the meanings would be given and I'd see if they applied to the show, once I watched it. I pulled the following cards, which I digitally scribbled on with some initial thoughts to post on Instagram, before watching the show. I also made notes in my tarot journal which I've used for the points below.  

Click on any of the images for an enlarged view.  

Immediately after pulling the cards, I was interested to note the appearance of (1) Stags, which are the sigil of House Baratheon and also  (2) the Page of Wands, a young inexperienced, and quite erotic looking woman, pictured with a DRAGON - obviously representing Daenerys Targaryen, plus (3) the King of Swords as Jon. Here's why:

King of Swords, by Siolo Thompson
Card 1. The King of Swords - A perfect card to represent Jon Snow - it also looks a bit like a sword defeating a white walker. Check out this description...
The King of Swords is intelligent, truthful, and a strong ally. He believes in order, systems, and the value of following the rules. He is often a boss, employer, mentor, or community figure. His strengths are many; intellect, good judgment, a tactical mind. However he can also be cold, harsh and inflexible. This card may show up when you need to take your heart out of a situation and bring your intellect to the table instead... to cut to the truth of the matter. - Extract from The Linestrider's Journey, p. 226
It seemed that Jon Snow would need to make a logical decision in this episode, without his heart clouding his judgement. This is something he has had to do on many occasions, so there was nothing very surprising about that.

What about the main themes?

Card 2. Three of Wands - New beginnings, long term plans, opportunities for co-operation and partnership. And maybe something to do with House Baratheon, indicated by the stags on the illustration. There are no 'official' Baratheons left and Gendry's whereabouts are currently unknown - he's the bastard son of Robert Baratheon, and the only 'heir' that we are aware of.

Three of Wands and Five of Cups, by Siolo Thompson

Card 3. Five of Cups - This card indicates negative thinking, a focus on grief and trouble of letting go of the past. It can indicate "former hardship, pain, or heartbreak is a prime component of the person you have become"². So one of the themes would have something to do with this, but honestly this could apply to any one of the characters, so I was none the wiser.

Card 4. Page of Wands - As well as being depicted as a long-haired young blonde woman with a nest of dragons, this card represents 'energy, youth, new beginnings, loyalty, messenger, studiousness, childishness, new erotic adventure'³. This is a pretty good description of Daenerys. She is young and inexperienced and very passionate about following her calling to reclaim the throne. The Page can represent a new phase and in the book, Siolo Thompson says "this card may show up when someone young and dynamic enters your world and shake things up" - that's exactly what the Queen of Dragons is all about!

Page of Wands and Seven of Swords by Siolo Thompson

Card 5. Seven of Swords - As something interesting to watch out for, I'd scribbled the following words from the book in my journal "duplicity, secrets, sneakiness, hidden motivations". In a show like this, I really had no idea what it would refer to - it could have been anything. The card pictures a pirate, but that didn't help me. (EDIT: @anngirl on Instagram kindly pointed out something I completely overlooked here - Euron Greyjoy is a pirate and would fit in this position!)

So after the show, I came back to the notes I'd made and noted thing the cards were applicable to.

- Jon Snow had to make a plan for the defence of the North. He was totally King of Swords about it - under pressure to remove the families of traitors, he was resolute that the children wouldn't pay for the 'sins' of the fathers. He was harsh with Sansa, telling her not to question him in front of others, even though she basically saved his ass in the last season.

Dragonstone Castle was the seat of Stanis Baratheon when GoT started. With Stanis dead, and the castle deserted, Daenerys was able to take the castle - her ancestral home. It did indeed mark the beginning of her long term plans as per the Three of Wands, as she will be co-ordinating the various armies under her control from there. It is also a great vantage point standing atop an island, and looking out from a high point is a fairly typical depiction for this card.  (I'm interested to see if Gendry will turn up soon!)

- With the illustrated owls giving me no clue, I wasn't sure which character the Five of Cups related to until a classic Sandor Clegane scene - when asked why he was so negative, he answered "experience". Later, this seemed to be a key episode for this character - he was able to overcome his fear of fire (from having his face held into a fire by his brother) to look into the flames and receive a prophetic vision. He wasn't only looking at the past, but turned to the future. In the card, the owl could do the same. I googled 'Sandor Clegane Owl' to see if there was anything I'd missed, and interestingly some images did come up - of his brother.

- As already discussed, this was a big episode for Daenerys - the Page of Wands was spot on for her. She's back in the family home, which has Dragons everywhere, and marks her new beginning.

- The opening of the show was a Seven of Swords scene, if ever I've seen one! After killing him at the end of the last season, Arya Stark used Walder Frey's face to impersonate him and kill his many sons with poison, at a feast purported to be in their honour - you don't get much more sneaky and duplicitous than that. She's a total badass!

So this was a really fun exercise. When I started using Tarot (for my own personal development) I was clear that I didn't think I could predict things with it, but that any of the cards could apply to anyone or any situation you care to interpret them for at any time. The more experience I gain with it, the more 'synchronicities' there seem to be in the cards I pull such as the stag and the dragon references and the King of Swords as Jon Snow - they all seem quite relevant. See also this post. I'll certainly be trying this spread again.  Have you tried it? Let me know what you think. 

¹  Amazon affiliate links are provided for products used in this post. Quotes taken are from the book which accompanies the deck.

²  From p. 112 The Linestrider's Journey

³ From p. 174 The Linestrider's Journey

The Empress Tarot Spread (for International Tarot Day)

7 July 2017

This post is a part of the Blog Hop for International Tarot Day 2017

See footnote ¹ for a list of pictured decks 

Three is a magic number, yes it is, it's a magic number ². It's also the number of The Empress - archetypal 'Mother Earth' and symbol of fertility, femininity, creativity, abundance and nature. Typically illustrated as a pregnant woman in a natural environment, The Empress is about birthing the new - ideas, projects, babies - and helping them to grow and develop. In The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings *, Brigit Esselmont offers this Empress affirmation which sums it up perfectly:
I bring forth my creations with joy. I love and nurture them to fruition. - p27
The Empress is fully attuned with nature and understands the ebbs and flows of life. She is deeply connected with her femininity and fulfils her maternal role with grace and ease. She understands the cyclic nature of things and can handle it all 'with joy'. Of course she can - she's not a real person! However she does represent certain aspects which exist in all of us. Female or male, the Empress within us is that part which is capable of manifesting, encouraging growth, and of being in flow with the Universe. 

As most real people will know, all this bringing forth, supporting others, and helping things and people to flourish is very rewarding. However, it is often accompanied by a tendency to give away our power and to disregard our own needs - it's easy to lose sight of the need to 'fill our well' so that we can continue to create. Julia Cameron ³ says:
[W]e must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them - to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process 'filling the well'. 
So what it boils down to is balance. What we give to (or nurture in) others we also need to give to (or nurture in) ourselves. To help identify these areas, I've written a short four-card spread which focuses on how to create this balance. 

Card 1: How can I more effectively nurture others?
Card 2: What am I bringing to life (or fruition) right now?
Card 3: What can I do to nurture my own creativity (and ability to create)?
Card 4: In which area do I need to reclaim my power?

If you try it out, please feel free to leave a comment below, or to tag me on Instagram, to let me know if you had any interesting insights!

I hope you all have been enjoying this Blog Hop! Please see Goran Novak's post at 78 Midnight Howls for the next next amazing blog in the 'hop'. Thank you for reading! 

* Amazon affiliate links are included for the products quoted and pictured in this post.   

¹ Pictured: The Empress cards from the following decks The Linestrider Tarot, The Good Tarot, The Wild Unknown, Radiant Rider Waite in a Tin, The Sun and Moon Tarot, Original Rider Waite Tarot, Tarot of the Spirit.

² YouTube link to Three is a Magic Number, written by Bob Dorough

³ Quoted from the book The Artist's Way, which is about nurturing your creativity -  very Empress! 

Tarot Reflections: Three of Swords

1 July 2017

In a recent post, I wrote about the connection between the Tarot suit of Swords, the element of Air, and breath(ing), and talked about the suit's ability to help us reveal deep truths about our own thoughts. So let's try applying this to my randomly drawn 'Card of the  Day' - the Three of Swords.
In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you.  - Buddhist saying
Three of Swords from The Linestrider Tarot by Siolo Thompson*, published by Llewellyn Books

The Three of Swords is generally considered to be the 'heartbreak' card. Other keywords include¹: painful separation; sorrow; grief; rejection. In the Rider-Waite Smith deck, it is illustrated by a heart pierced with three swords, against a stormy background. However, the Linestrider Tarot by Siolo Thompson, depicts the swords piercing a pair of birds. The background is comprised of white roses, and what looks like ethereal ribbons which, in places, could be smoke -  a reminder of the Air element. The dark watercolour background (murky grey and green) has the same effect as the clouds in the RWS depiction - pure gloom. Siolo's keywords² give further insight. They include: heartache; depression; disorder; confusion; past injury; darkness.

If you look closely you will see that the largest sword - behind them - does not appear to have pierced either of the birds. One sword (front-left) penetrates both creatures, and the other (front-right) pierces only one of them. The birds are facing away from one another and while both are bleeding, neither appears to be dead. The twice-pierced bird is squawking - it probably has a lot to say - while the other is silent, and has a steely gaze. It is as if the bird on the left has hurt them both, but the noisy bird on the right, rather than getting revenge with their own sword, has only hurt him/herself further.

So what does this mean for anyone pulling this card?

The third card in any suit marks a 'first completion'³ - the first card is about new beginnings, the second is balance, choice or duality, and the third marks the transition between the two and four - the number of stability and foundation. Think of stools - a four-legged stool is very stable, but the three-legged variety will do the job well enough. So it is with the threes - there is adequate 'progress', things are in motion. There is a major clue as to what you're on the road to achieving if you consider the 'final completion' of this suit is the nine of swords - extreme mental anguish! 

So how can this help us to access our deepest truths? The Linestrider keywords (above) are a great starting point. If we remember that the swords represent our thoughts, we have to consider that our suffering (heartache / confusion / darkness / depression ) is actually self-inflicted. Now, before anyone starts getting defensive at the very thought, consider this...

Even if we were not responsible for the life situation that triggered the pain (for example, betrayal by a lover) we do have a choice when something happens (to us). We can either wallow in it (like the squawking twice-pierced bird) and let it define us, or we can see it as an opportunity to let this situation 'die'. Any Tarot reader knows that 'death' is a transition, a letting go of things that are no longer useful, a 'pruning', if you will.

So the three of swords, depicted with these bleeding birds (or an impaled heart) acts as a reminder that we can use grief and pain as an opportunity to transition to a new phase, and to evolve:
Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego. - Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth p102
We are each responsible for our own healing. When this card appears, it's time to take three deep breaths⁴  and to move on.

*Amazon UK affiliate links are used throughout this post, the deck is also widely available from any Llewellyn Books stockist. 

¹ From The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings by Brigit Esselmont.
² Found in 'The Linestrider's Journey', which accompanies the deck.
³ Sixes are the 'second completion' and nines the 'third completion', as tens are about excess.
⁴ See the Eckhart Tolle quote in the previous post which talks about observing the rhythm of your breath to create sufficient space to enable you to find the life beneath your life situation.  

Tarot Reflections: The King of Cups

29 June 2017

In Tarot, the suit of Cups is representative of emotion, creativity and the unconscious. As the maturation of the suit, the King of Cups embodies the ultimate balance of these different aspects. He understands emotions without being impulsive - he's connected with his feelings, without being controlled by them. He is able to empathise, without losing his sense of self. He has ultimate emotional and spiritual mastery - and he can understand (on an objective level) why the feelings may have arisen. In this way, he is balanced and enlightened, and able to make sound judgement. 

However this doesn't mean he's boring or staid - this is a creative and sensual archetype who experiences all the feelings, even if he doesn't act on them. He allows others to be fully expressed and would make a great mentor for an(other) artistic soul. In fact, he'd be a good mentor for anyone - he understands what makes people tick and treats them accordingly. This also makes him an effective diplomat - in fact it's hard not to like him, especially because he has a particular way of looking at you - it's almost as if he can see right through to your soul. 

As well as being in tune with his emotions and able to balance knowledge with spirituality, the King of Cups is patient and generous - he's a nurturer and is widely considered the most 'feminine' of all the Kings.

When learning to read Tarot, the Court Cards are often the most challenging to relate to, and the first step to understanding them can be found in the symbolic interpretation of the artwork (one of the many reasons people have more than one deck and therefore more than one way of accessing the symbolism). 

King of Cups from The Linestrider Tarot by Siolo Thompson*, published by Llewellyn Books
In the minimalistic Linestrider Tarot (which is heavily influenced by the Smith-Waite tradition) the King's image is based on a piece of neoclassical sculpture. He appears to float up from the white background with the most gentle splash - Cups relate to the element of Water - accompanied by a fantailed fish which represents spirit and creativity, as well as the balance between the conscious and unconscious. The King's face is calm and restful but we can see his authority and maturity from his crown and beard. These are qualities that make him a good listener, leader and mediator. 

Keywords¹ associated with the King of Cups include: balance; vision; responsibility; maturity; intelligence; fairness and leadership. Also ² emotional balance and control; generosity. In my Tarot Journal I have an unattributed scribble describing this card as "The soul of an artist, the duties of a King.

In her book Choice Centred Tarot (1982), Gail Fairfield describes the four Tarot Kings as being about 'releasing' old patterns that are no longer effective in our lives. Her interpretation of this card is the release of an old emotional pattern (upright) or psychic/spiritual pattern (reversed), as follows (p77):
An emotion has run its course and is no longer operative in your life. This could mean a relationship is ending completely or that a particular part of the relationship is ending. The old pattern has become a habit that is no longer meaningful or satisfying... You need to make some real or symbolic gesture that shows you've reached a point of closure or completion around this feeling or relationship...
Of course, all archetypes have their shadow side, and when this King is out of balance, there's the potential for moodiness and emotional turmoil. He may seem unstable and unable to control his emotions. (If this is the case, it's necessary to work out a way to get back into balance, pronto!)

I find it very helpful to associate the 'people' of the Tarot with those I know, and typically think of the King of Cups as an ex-boss who I was very fond of. Of course, this isn't much help to anyone who doesn't know him, which got me thinking about people in the public eye who I'd relate to the energy of this card. I immediately came up with someone who is (from an outsider's view, at least) seen as all of these things - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau - photo source: official Justin Trudeau Facebook page

What do you think? Can you relate to Trudeau as the King of Cups, or is there someone else you think of as a better likeness? Either way, when this card comes up as your 'card of the day' as it did for me this morning, there are a few things you might like to consider: 

1. What aspects of your life would benefit from increased emotional balance? 

2. Are you putting your responsibilities before your self-expression? Is this necessary or healthy for you? How can you balance this? 

3. Are you acting as mediator in any situations? If so, are you able to remain objective, or do you find yourself getting drawn into the emotional drama? How does this affect you and what can you do to improve things? 

4. What emotional or spiritual closure do you need? Is there a symbolic or actual gesture which you can make to help release that emotional or spiritual pattern? 

Thanks for reading. As always, your feedback is very welcome in the comments below, or on Instagram

*Amazon UK affiliate links included to the books in this post - the deck is widely available elsewhere, and is published by Llewellyn Books. The artwork and book are beautiful, however I find the card-stock to be quite underwhelming, which isn't to say that you won't like it.

¹ Taken from 'The Linestrider's Journey' by Siolo Thompson, the book which accompanies the deck.

On Thoughts, Air & Swords

24 June 2017

Drawing the Nine of Swords for a daily Instagram post recently, I actually laughed. This isn't a card to normally illicit such a response, but it's been a tough few weeks around here. Beyond some immediate worries for the family, it hasn't been a great time for the UK either. On several occasions prior to drawing the card, I'd caught myself imagining worst case scenarios and outcomes, and feeling sick and breathless and trapped inside my head

It's uncommon for me to experience this. In fact I can't recall the last time it happened. Subject to the normal hormonal cycles, I try my hardest to notice and be objective when reactions are triggered in me (it's not always easy, but day-to-day life offers plenty of opportunities to practice). It felt so alien and extreme to experience physical sensations of worry, as if my legs and body were weightless and I was literally floating up into my head - very bizarre. I dealt with it in the best way I know - by focussing on my breath. In The Power of Now*, Eckhart Tolle writes (on p 52): 
When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution. So whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation. Use your senses fully... Observe the rhythm of your breathing; feel the air flowing in and out, feel the life energy inside your body. Allow everything to be, within and without.
So when the Nine of Swords came up, I already knew what to write on my Instagram feed: "There's no point worrying about things that happened or that might happen. There is only Now. So get out of your head and stay grounded. How? Just breathe. Breath is what connects your soul to the physical realm. In moments of panic or distress, simply ask yourself "am I still breathing?" Then focus on the expansion and contraction of your body. "

After posting, I kept thinking about the link between thoughts and breath and the Tarot Suit of Swords - which is both related to the element of Air and also representative of thoughts. There are various partially-read Tarot books on my shelf, and flicking through them I found this interesting explanation:
Swords belong to the element of Air or wind, often seen as closest to Ether, or Spirit. The word 'spirit' relates directly to the word 'breath', and in Hebrew the word for 'spirit' and the word for 'wind' are the same. Just as air constantly moved, so the mind never rests... - Rachel Pollack, p208 Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.
Did you know that the words 'spirit' and 'breath' are directly linked? I had no idea until now, but it does make sense. We are spiritual beings having a human experience which revolves around breath - a baby takes its first breath when born, and our last breath is at the point of death. Buddhist traditions have over 2,000 years of Breath Meditation teaching, and it is strongly linked with spiritual enlightenment. Meditation and 'mindful breathing' have become so mainstream a Google search for "mindfulness apps" brings back 548,000 results.

So how does all of this link with Tarot, and more specifically the fourteen cards in the Swords suit?

The Swords from the Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot Deck, published by US Games, click to enlarge  
This is a suit with a bit of a reputation! Its keywords¹ include: stalemate (II),  heartbreak (III), defeat (V), sneakiness (VII), entrapment (VIII), nightmares (IX), and betrayal (X).  Even the court cards are often treated with suspicion - from the 'talkative' Page to the 'hasty' Knight and the 'independent' Queen. Personally, I can relate to wider aspects of all of these court cards, so I try not to think of them too harshly!

Swords deal with the conscious level of intellect, attitudes and beliefs and just like their symbolic weapons, these can all be double-edged and used for good, evil, and everything in between. Expert swordsmanship is largely about balance and correct handling. So it is with our thoughts - we must first appreciate their power and then learn to work with them effectively. In the book which accompanies The Good Tarot, Colette Baron-Reid says:
We're asked to remember that our thoughts are like powerful seeds. What seeds will we plant? What thoughts will we rehearse? What perspective do we take for the highest good of all? If we are intelligent creatures, how best can we use our minds to align with the highest good and the best outcome? How can we find value in our suffering as we shift from reactive and victimised to response-able? Can we find freedom through radical self-acceptance and the right use of reason and intellect? The answer is yes if you're willing to allow the Suit of Air [Swords] to reveal the deep truths of your mind. 
The key to doing this seems to have been there all along - I believe it lays in the link between Air, Spirit and Breath. What do you think?

* Amazon affiliate links are included for the books listed in this post. 
¹ Keywords quoted are from The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings by Brigit Esselmont.

Summer Solstice Tarot Spread

20 June 2017

Here in the Northern Hemisphere*, tomorrow is the longest 'day' of the year. Midsummer, Summer Solstice, or the Litha Sabbat, if you follow the Wheel of the Year. The details vary, but most agricultural societies traditionally celebrated the occasion in some way - there's a thorough post on, if you'd like to read about the rituals and folklore. 

Since the kids were small, I've been marking the occasion in three ways. We quite literally look at how much the children have grown by placing a new mark on the 'measuring' wall. We collect things (from nature) and make a centre-piece for the kitchen table. Finally, I read a passage from chapter 10 of Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker & Anne Hill: 
The Summer Solstice is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The sun has grown to its full strength, and summer begins. Even as we enjoy swimming and picnicking, we know that the days will begin to get shorter as soon as Solstice passes. The Summer Solstice reminds us that nothing lasts forever. We do not live in the unchanging realm of the Faery, but in the living, dying, fading and growing realm of earth. Whenever something is completed, we must let it go. Because things we love don't last forever, we love them all the more while they are here. But letting go of things is never easy. The Summer Solstice is a time to practice giving things away, letting go of what is completed and done.  
This year, I'm adding a new tradition - I'll be using this Tarot spread which I've written to mark the Solstice and to help identify the parts of myself that are shining and growing, as well as the parts I need to uncover and release.

If you'd like to try it out too, please feel free. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Instagram - I'd love to know what comes up for you. 

*If you're in the Southern Hemisphere and are heading into the Winter Solstice, you can find lots of alternative spreads online

A Procrastination Conversation / Spread

17 June 2017

How fitting that I should log into Beth Maiden's Alternative Tarot Course tonight and see the 'Procrastination Converstion' Spread. I've had loads of creative energy this week, but none of it has found it's way here, so I decided to have this conversation with The Wild Unknown, to get to the bottom of it. 

Deck: The Wild Unknown. Click to enlarge image.

1. Dude, how's it going? Three of Cups: Great thanks. I've had a good week - I managed to get lots of things done and to spend time with friends. Today I saw my mother, hung out with husband and kids and relaxed. Oh and I had three small glasses of wine tonight too!!!

2. Awww... I can't get my blogging done because - Eight of Swords: Well, you see, I've put all these obstacles in my own way - there are lots of things on my 'to do' list and I don't feel that I can get down to blogging here until I have cleared those. 

3. Rubbish! Just do a little of this - The Emperor: You made a commitment to yourself when you started this blog and you can't flake out at the first sign of being too 'busy' especially when you've had time for other things. Stand up for your commitment and be strong - get the job done. 

4. Nah, I can't get my blogging done because I'm doing this - 10 of Swords: I'm being self-destructive - all these thoughts! I have so much other stuff I could be doing. No one reads this blog anyway. What's the point? I don't have anything worth saying. What do I know about Tarot? Why should anyone want to read this? *insert other melodramatic and completely unnecessary thoughts here*.  

5. Dude, seriously. Just focus a little on this - Daughter (Page) of Swords: You have lots of ideas, and you are gaining insight and wisdom through your ongoing studies. Log your progress, write the posts. There is so much potential - you just need to plan your time wisely to ensure you're blogging each week. 

6. And whatever you do, do not do this - 4 of Wands: Don't go pouring another glass of wine / drinking the other half of the bottle - it might be Saturday night but it's not time to party right now!

7. One Final thought - The High Priestess: Trust your intuition - you know what you need to do. Get on with it. 

And so I did. I made a cup of tea and wrote this post. 

If you want to give this spread a try, you can find it on the Little Red Tarot blog and also as part of the Alternative Tarot Course

Thought for the Day

14 June 2017

In Progress: Unfinished mixed-media spread from my art journal
Women are not taught, they awaken. Every woman has a mysterious force within her. An ancient wisdom that is always whispering. A rhythmic flow that is not only connected to the life force of the planet but to the entire universe. A cyclic nature, that if all women surrendered to, the whole planet would come back into balance.… It’s easy to look at the state of the planet right now and get overwhelmed. To feel there is nothing we could possibly do to turn it around… The only way to heal the world is by healing ourselves first…. when one woman heals, she doesn’t just heal herself, rather she heals the large whole…. she sends out ripples. To those who came before her and those who will come after her. She can never truly know the impact, but she can be sure that her personal healing will not just be felt by her. As she is brought into harmony, the whole planet is too.  - Rebecca Campbell, Rise Sister Rise, pp 53-54

Calling... Me?

3 June 2017

Back in March, I wrote about my dog Archie, who continuously 'reads' the direction of my feet and bases his decisions on where they are pointing. I likened it to way that we create our own lives and experiences. From our current actions and intentions, we can divine where we are headed. Here is my summary from that post, and the accompanying quote from one of my favourite books:

We can learn a lot from Archie. It strikes me that his skill with foot-divination is very much applicable to the way that we create our lives. Based on the direction our metaphorical toes are pointing - as indicated by our intentions and actions - the clues about our direction are already there, if we care to notice them. (Some of them are subtle, so it may take practice.) A wonderful thing about being human is that we can change our course at any time, and unlike Archie we do not have to be watching to see what someone else is doing before we can move in any direction of our choosing - as many teachers have reminded us, we are not trees!

After conversations with various friends, and reading lots of different materials about creating our life experiences, I am becoming increasingly certain that there is a part of each one of us that knows which direction we should be going in order to feel authentic and in alignment with our highest selves, even if the destination isn't yet clear. Perhaps the very idea of the destination is so scary for us we doubt we have the ability or courage to get there - from our current point of vantage, we can't imagine stepping into our power to make it happen. I've been considering all these things, and feel that changes are coming - I'm not at all sure what they are or what I'll be creating when they do, but I don't think the details matter right now...
You are here to create what is yours to create. There is no rush. There is no competition.... [W]ater your garden, fan your flames and keep your focus inward. Let your creations be your medicine then share that medicine with the world..... What is truly yours to create? - Rebecca Campbell, Light is the New Black
In the three months since writing that post I have felt increasingly drawn towards more spiritual pursuits, including daily Tarot study and intuitive painting. I also started this blog and the related Instagram account, and joined various Tarot groups on Facebook. When the 'True Calling' spread was posted on one of them by Kimberley of Fables Den, inspired by the same book I'd quoted in my post, I couldn't resist trying it out.

For this spread I used the Radiant Rider Waite deck, published by US Games. The cards are pictured below. Interestingly there are two cards from the suit of Pentacles and four from the Cups. Pentacles is the suit that deals with what we make of our surroundings - the physical manifestation - while the suit of Cups relates to emotional matters including relationships and connection, expression of feelings, and creativity. Perfectly apt for this spread, don't you think?

Card 1. What is my soul's true calling? Page of Cups: The Page is about art, inspiration and intuition, as well as psychic abilities. These are all things that I am increasingly feeling drawn to and indeed, the list of goals I made at the start of the year included developing my intuition and spending more time on art. The message of this card seems to be creative endeavour, rooted in the intuitive/spiritual realm.

Card 2. How am I responding to my soul's call right now? Queen of Pentacles: The Queen is a nurturer, she is patient and deliberate and slowly brings things to fruition in her own practical way. I can certainly relate to this right now. In the past I've probably been hasty and in a rush to manifest things - like the Knights of Swords and Wands - but at the moment I'm definitely more tortoise than hare, ambling along and seeing how things transpire while also balancing my family life and commitments. There is no rush.

Card 3. What is stopping me from answering this call? Seven of Pentacles: Far from feeling 'stopped' or blocked, this is a time for taking the long term view. Any gardener knows that after planting the seeds, you have to water them, keep the weeds and slugs at bay, and then be patient until Harvest time. Like the Seven of Pentacles, I'm giving things space to grow, and the fruit is almost ready to enjoy.

Card 4: How can I overcome this block? 5 of Cups: The Five of Cups is a reminder to see the whole picture. As we grow and develop on our own path, there is usually an element of letting go of the things that no longer fulfil us, so we can move on. It's sometimes hard to do this, but important not to let it block the way forward.

Card 5: How can I honour my soul's true calling right now? Queen of Cups: This will  fuel my intuitive ability too. The Queen of Cups is related to work such as healing, counselling, teaching and art. She has integrity and keeps a lid on her emotions - she is calm and nurturing. Calling on my inner knowing (intuition), I can create meaningful work which is expressive, thoughtful and will help and inspire others.

Card 6: What is a loving message from the Universe? 8 of cups: It's time to leave behind the things that no longer inspire and fulfil me - including those that are incomplete - and to move on. This strikes a chord as I have SO MANY unfinished projects hanging around. It has felt like I should be working on those instead of something new, even though I am not inspired to work on them any longer. It might just be time to put them away and to set myself free!

For me, this was a great spread - it really feels like it hit the spot. Have you tried it yet? 

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