5 of Air: Conflict (and Integrity)

28 May 2017

Part of my morning ritual is to select a tarot card for the day and today I pulled the 'Five of Air' (Swords) from The Good Tarot (TGT). TGT is not a traditional deck - the symbols, imagery, and even the names differ from the 'traditional' norm that is the Rider Waite Smith (RWS). 

The image depicted in the 5 of Air (below right) is a winged woman perfectly balanced en pointe on a delicate white wire. A dove - the symbol of peace - is perched ahead of her on the intersection with another wire. It appears relaxed and is facing another direction. Four further doves are in flight around them.  The woman has one leg stretched out behind her, with her arms out in front acting as a counter-balance. In one hand she holds a delicate white circle on a chain. To me, it looks like there are other circles within it, as on a target, and this is positioned directly behind the bird perched on the wire. 

In the top half of the image, the woman is surrounded by clear blue sky, and in the bottom half, where all birds are positioned, the sky is pink, blue and cloudy - it looks stormy and unsettled. The woman is literally rising above the storm - on her toes - with grace, and perfect balance. This is good news - her decorative wings definitely wouldn't work if she tried to fly with them! The dove and the woman are both calm and balanced while the other birds are fluttering around one another. 

After contemplating the artwork, I did what I'm sure many other (new) tarot readers do, and thought about the equivalent RWS card, in order to check my understanding and intuitive reaction to the image I'd been looking at.
Left to right: Different interpretations from the Original Rider Waite and The Good Tarot - click to enlarge
The RWS Five of Swords is illustrated very differently. In the foreground a smiling (smug / contemptuous-looking) man is holding three swords and looking over his shoulder. Behind him, two further swords are on the ground, and two figures face in the opposite direction with their backs to us. One of them appears to have his head in his hands - indicating sadness, loss or despair. The sky is filled with angry and threatening clouds. It can be assumed that there has been a battle or conflict, and it's not over yet. Fives - in any suit - are typically about challenge, struggle or unrest. 

I must admit that immediately after the mental comparison my inner critic (my automated monkey brain) went something like this: 'If you're trying to read more intuitively, rather than learning 'book meanings' by rote, why on earth are you going back to the 'norm' to check yourself?'  Then I shut that voice up and considered that this technique of differentiating the known from the unknown is natural when your study materials are mostly based on the traditional deck. It's also effective - I posted my initial comparison on Instagram: 
[W]hile the RWS suggests cheating, or taking advantage of / being taken advantage of, and humiliation, TGT offers a reflection on the nature of conflict and tension. It's not only a useful opportunity to recognise your motives and whether you have integrity, but tension is also a necessary stepping stone in your development. In the case of the wire-walker in the image, it is literally the tension of the string which enables her to find her balance and stay upright. 
For me, this represents a revolutionary way of looking at this card. It is certainly a lot more empowering than 'struggle', 'conflict' or any of the usual words associated with it. Although the controversial "good" tarot has it's critics, I love the empowering interpretations that TGT author Colette Baron-Reid and artist Jena DellaGrotaglia have made accessible. In the accompanying guidebook, Colette does give the traditional keywords, but then continues with the following 5 of Air affirmation:
Conflict is a good way to see my motives and intentions. I can use this experience to grow into a more authentic version of myself. It's not important to win. It's important to have integrity. Other people have different ways of thinking and may not always be in agreement with me. I am open to this opportunity to live and let live. 
Two cards - the same intrinsic meaning, but one is played out with humiliation and suffering, while the other is an opportunity to rise above and find balance. It's not about bending to anyone's will or manipulating them, it's not about either side being hurt, simply a way of maintaining personal integrity. This interpretation might well present a challenge to some people - there is some criticism that life isn't all 'good' and Tarot shouldn't be either - but I find this new approach to be constructive and insightful. I'll choose balance and equilibrium over conflict and drama (for as long as I can quieten the voice of my monkey brain), thank you very much. 

As a result of drawing this card, I've been thinking about the conflicts in my life and how they have impacted the way I show up for myself and other people. The resident history-buff (my husband) often talks about the technological leaps that were made as a result of wars on a global scale, and when I considered it, the biggest leaps in my own personal development have all happened as a result of conflict or struggle too. Every single one. So the next time I recognise the voice inside compelling me to 'win at all costs', I need to remember to choose to be the winged ballerina of the 5 of Air and not the smug guy from the 5 of Swords! Maybe you will too. 

Book Review: Bringing the Tarot to Life

27 May 2017

A few months ago I received a preview copy of a new book by retired-theatre director and Tarot enthusiast Scott Martin called 'Bringing the Tarot to Life'. It's just been published by Llewellyn, so this is the perfect time to tell you about it!  

Bringing the Tarot to Life by Scott Martin 

The book is aimed at everyone from beginner to more experienced cartomancers. At the time of reading, I was literally a complete Tarot novice, and feeling quite overwhelmed by the symbolism and detail of the traditional decks. The book's blurb made me think this would be a great way to get to understand the cards and to work with them more intuitively. 
Remembering that the Tarot began its life as a game liberates us to explore it, to experiment, to play with it.
Split into three sections, it covers journaling exercises, theatre games and finally, standard meanings of the individual cards. It seeks to bring the right- and left-brain together to understand the Tarot, which it describes as being 'about us and everyone else who ever lived'. The reference cards are the Llewellyn Classic Tarot and anyone familiar with the Rider-Waite deck will recognise the imagery and symbolism. 

The Journaling section has some really great (and fun!) ideas and could be useful to anyone studying Tarot. As a beginner and a solo learner, I found that many of the games in section two were too complicated for my level of knowledge and, frankly, I wouldn't bother to do all of them on my own, however, they would be perfect for group study practice (especially if you have an extrovert group who will really get into it!). The exercises are fun and imaginative and indeed quite theatrical. 

The reference section is good and clearly written, as well as being up to date in terms of social context. I'm not sure there would be enough detail within this section to  get the most out of the exercises without some further knowledge or reference materials, but provided some of the participants have knowledge of Tarot, it's a great refresher.  

I would consider this a perfect book for a Tarot study group where there is already a knowledge of the card meanings and archetypes. If you're a total beginner,* studying alone you might want to do some research and rope some friends in to play along. If you want to use Tarot to help with creative writing, poetry and acting projects, then I'd say it's worth reading.

'Bringing the Tarot to Life' is available in paperback or Kindle edition from Amazon UK (affiliate), where you can also download a sample, you should also find it widely available in good book shops. 
*If this is you, I'd recommend reading this book before moving onto Bringing the Tarot to Life. 

Getting to know the Tarot of the Spirit

19 May 2017

Before my birthday, I shortlisted several decks I liked the look of and gave the list to my husband. I didn't know which of them I'd get but was delighted when I opened this new addition to my small collection. Tarot of the Spirit¹ (TotS), by mother and daughter team Pamela and Joyce Eakins, is really quite different to my other tarot decks. Not only in the unique artwork, but also in the way that the cards are labelled and interpreted (by Pamela), and the fact that each ties in with the Tree of Life (Kabbalah)
The deck  includes a transparent Tree of Life overlay

So far I only have the LWB - little white book(let) - that accompanies the deck and which begins with the following text: 
Welcome to tarot, the game of life! Welcome to this incredible game in which the object is to understand all that has been, is and ever shall be! Welcome, dear one, to the Tarot of the SpiritTo play this intriguing game is to learn about life, to learn about all existence origins and structures past, present and future. This is done through the contemplation of images, pictures that when attended to with the mindfulness given to great art, contain the power to propel the player on a profound path of spiritual realization. 
The booklet (which you can find online) goes on to explain that the deck can be used for meditation, as a vehicle for the "transformational journey of the soul", or as an oracle, and I am especially interested in using tarot for the first two reasons. Without time to meditate this week, the most I've done is to pull a few single cards. Each time, I've been stunned by the accuracy of the short interpretations in the booklet. Without wanting to sound too 'woo' (which, of course, I will) it's as if the words have been speaking directly to my soul. As a result, I'm waiting for the accompanying 448 page book to arrive - I'd like to learn more about the deck before fully diving in, particularly as I know nothing about the Kabbalah on which the deck is based .

In the meantime, I saw a link to a post on Mary K Greer's blog, called Getting to know your deck, which sounded like a good place to start - you can find all of the details in Mary's post if you want to try it. I pulled the following cards, tried to make sense of the art (not as easy as I'd hoped) and then looked up the meanings in the LWB (quoted below), to familiarise myself with the deck. This is how I got on.

Card 1 - An area of general focus, atmosphere or overall energy at play = One of Wind / Dawn: The artwork on this card is quite abstract. There is a dark mass to the bottom left of the card, with light and colour emanating up and away from it. The shapes rising from the mass appear to be diamonds - the most precious jewels, formed under immense pressure - and butterflies, the ultimate symbol of transformation because they lose all form before rising from their cocoons on beautiful wings, ready to soar.

'Dawn' suggests new beginnings and hope - the start of a new day and a return to daylight after the darkest hours of night.
The dark clouds of your mind are scattered as if blown away by a strong wind at daybreak. An important new idea is taking hold in your mind. It is as if a light is turning on in your life. Pay attention to new thought. This is an exciting time. As you think about your new ideas, you will not be able to follow every nuance to its logical completion point in the future, but there will be time for that later. Attend to the present and accept the great potential of your new ideas! 
Yes! Those clouds were circling overhead for some time, building up atmospheric pressure. As long ago as December I wrote (elsewhere) about listening to the 'whispers' - the dreams and intuition that had been telling me certain things in my life had to change. It took a 'Tower' moment this week - something big, unexpected and quick - for me to make the decision which - to follow the Tower  / lightening strike symbolism - has cleared the air and left me able to breathe again.

Card 2 - The part of myself which is mostly active and of which I am most aware = Fire Mother: The image on this card is of a woman, resting or meditating within a brightly coloured cocoon of her own. Light appears to rise up from her hood / head and her face is peaceful. At her feet lays a lion - he appears to be keeping her safe and protected - although laying down, he is awake and alert. Automatically, a woman with a tame lion calls to mind the traditional Rider-Waite Smith imagery for Strength  (in TotS that card has snakes but no lion) which is about courage, control and passion. Around the Fire Mother's cocoon there is a multi-coloured arch with lots of calming blues and some fiery red. This is an interesting image and the antithesis of what one might expect for the Mother of Fire. Like the woman in the traditional Strength card, her power is of the internal, calm, and controlled variety.

Having spent the last five months working on myself - becoming more aligned with intuition, and practicing being present and calm, I can relate to the image, however the interpretation in the book isn't as clear for me:
Long after the energy of others has burned out, your own energy burns like a constant pilot light. You have the sense of being a sought-out leader, especially in matters of the spirit. You seek quiet, but consistent leadership. As long as you move in accordance with nature’s laws, nature obeys your every command. 
While I certainly wouldn't consider myself a leader in matters of spirit, it's true to say that my advice is sought out in various areas and by various people, and that I do provide support to friends and family. I'm not immediately clear on the meaning of this card in this position, so it needs further consideration.

Card 3 - The situation that the part of myself (above) is mostly concerned with today = Four of Fire / Flame of Spirit: Another card with abstract imagery - this time including geometric shapes, and all the colours of the rainbow. It's hard for me to describe the way the shapes interplay, or what each symbolises, aside from the fact that many are four-sided, have four sections, or are in multiples of four - I've tried to go into more detail, and failed, several times. Hopefully the guidebook will have some insight.

As for the colours, I have found that rainbow colours in tarot suggest some sort of completion and positivity (e.g. 10 of cups in RWS, and various cards in The Wild Unknown).

Fours are typically about structure, foundation and stability. They are often a moment of peace and resting which come before the challenging fives of each suit. However the name - 'Flame of Spirit' - suggests something new is about to happen too. The flame comes after the spark but has yet to grow into a fire.  The book says:
A phase of development is complete. The structure you built based on revelations and good intentions is strong, but in some ways you no longer feel connected to that structure. Know that old structures must frequently be abandoned to make way for new growth. You are growing, beginning a new phase in your life. It is as if your own personal wheel of fortune is turning again. This is necessary in order for you to grow. Search your heart for the right course of action. 
Oh my goodness, this is spot on! This week, I have mentally 'let go' of a structure that has been really important in my life, but which is no longer in alignment with my path. It was a very difficult thing to do but deep down I knew that it was necessary. This also links in perfectly with the next card, which is the 'why?'.

Card 4 - Why I need to be aware of that situation = XXI The Universe: The imagery of this card is familiar - it shows the naked 'dancer' as in the RWS - a woman balancing on the toes of one foot, in a pose which is reminiscent of the traditional 'Hanged Man' card. In her hands are a circle and a crescent - the solar and lunar symbols. Three larger interlocking circles are behind her and it feels as though the top and bottom circles may represent air and water as there appear to be clouds and a shell. She is surrounded by a rainbow coloured ouroboros which represents infinity or wholeness.

I think of card XXI as 'levelling up' - it's like completing a level in a computer game. You've done the hard work, put in the necessary practice, and finally defeated all the obstacles to secure a happy victory... but you can't rest on your laurels for too long as the next level is about to begin and it is certain to present new challenges to improve your skills further.
Your whole world is in balance. You move like a dancer with every movement perfectly timed. Every undertaking has paid off. Your endeavours have been successful. You are at the end of a long journey. The world is at your feet. Celebrate the great work you have done! If you want to journey further, the time is right. 
With a 'level' of my own completed this week, including the personal growth and skills I learned along the way, this is indeed a time to celebrate and to be thankful, for what has been done so far, and for the new opportunities to come. 

So, in summary, new things are coming - one particular phase has come to an end and it marks a positive completion - it's time to celebrate and move on. Without going into personal details, all of this is absolutely true and has been the overriding theme of my week. It's interesting that out of the four suits, I've picked only two - one Wind card (swords) and two Fire cards (wands) - and they are harmonious. Fire needs air. These suits are about logic and action or movement. Again, that makes complete sense to my situation.

It's been really interesting to play with this deck so far, and to try to decipher the images. I'm really looking forward to taking delivery of the detailed guidebook. I know that I've missed a lot of the symbology and nuance of the cards so far - especially the references to the Kabbalah (on which the deck is based) and astrological symbols which are included on the cards - and can't wait to understand it more deeply. I love the use of colour and imagery, which is both strange and familiar at the same.

The way that the cards are split for this spread is a great way to get to familiarise oneself with a new deck. I will definitely be using it again.

If you use and understand this deck, please feel free to add your own thoughts or interprettions in the comments, or come and say hello on Instagram.

¹ An Amazon affiliate is provided for convenience. The deck is widely available from other stockists and is published by US Games.  

Happy Birthday Spread (2017)

15 May 2017

It was my birthday yesterday and I spent some time reflecting on the way I've changed over the last year. Not external changes, but how I'm feeling and how / who I am Being in my day-to-day life - it seems there has been quite a shift. This got me thinking about what to focus on for the year ahead, and wouldn't you know it, there turned out to be a spread for just such an occasion. Using Beth Maiden's Happy Birthday Spread¹, I pulled these cards from my most trusted deck, The Wild Unknown

Cards from The Wild Unknown - click to enlarge image
To interpret the spread,  I didn't refer to any books (the final quote was added while writing this post from my journal notes), only what I have learned about each card so far, combined with my intuitive feelings about how they apply to the situation. For this reason, the meanings may or may not be aligned with your own experiences of the same cards. 

Card 1. What to leave behind in the past year - 9 of Pentacles: I'm deeply grateful for all that we have achieved as a family - we have two lovely children, a stable home and things have been on a fairly even keel for a while (after a few turbulent years which included births, deaths and relocation). Although I have a sense of fulfilment right now and it would be easy to rest on my laurels, it's time to move on graciously and to look forward.

Card 2. A lesson learned in last year, to carry forward into the next - Father of Cups: Having reached a state of emotional balance and greater equilibrium (I'm a woman, I have hormones - it's all relative!) I'm now able to respond to things in a much more level headed way than I would have earlier in life. The Father of Cups is encouraging me to 'keep calm and carry on'.

Card 3. The next thing I'll learn - Son of Pentacles: This Son is diligent and has the ability to keep his head down to focus on what some might consider the more mundane elements of a project. This is pretty exciting as I do not have this ability AT ALL! With a million-and-one ideas buzzing through my head, I'm great at starting things and engaging others in the task, but can be far too easily distracted when another shiny new project comes along - in Belbin terms, I'm a 'Resource Investigator' not a 'Completer Finisher'. I can already see several opportunities to develop this ability, and it would also help with ticking some long-standing projects off my list!

Card 4. The theme of the year ahead - 8 of Wands: This is something I can't plan for, unless it's to expect the unexpected. The 8 of Wands is about sudden action - a eureka moment or some synchronistic event which marks a new beginning or idea (let's see if I finish it!) This card could be subtitled 'strike while the iron is hot' as it indicates a swift response to that stimulus.

The message I take from cards 3 and 4 together, is that to succeed at something - even if it's something that feels inspired by synchronicity - it's necessary to put the work in and to see it through to completion. In the book 'Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear', Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how inspiration looks for people to manifest ideas into being, but if they don't grab it when they can, it will move on:
I believe that inspiration will always try its best to work with you—but if you are not ready or available, it may indeed choose to leave you and to search for a different human collaborator.  Elizabeth Gilbert
I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me. I have pages (and pages!) of notes in my journals - design ideas and inspiration that moved me, which I wrote down and then did nothing with, only to see them elsewhere some time later. This is the time to change that.

Cards 5 and 6. Something to do to celebrate my birthday - 9 of Wands and 10 of Pentacles: I see the 9 of Wands as an encouraging card - it's saying to pursue what you believe in and to keep going even if things seem tough. This in itself doesn't feel as though it relates to my birthday, but reflecting on the imagery of this card, I can't help but notice that it is literally a stairway to the moon. If you've seen my two most recent posts (about the moon and connecting with the feminine) you might understand why this feels significant and timely.

The 10 of Pentacles is traditionally a 'family' card. I did indeed spend my birthday with my family - my husband, children and my mother - before doing this spread. It was a perfect birthday.

Card 7. A birthday message from my ancestors - 3 of Wands: To me this card is about standing up for yourself and being independent. It's time to do things my own way - to look within where fulfilment and expansive energy will be found. The artwork on this card shows the three wands tied into an inverted triangle filled with beautiful bright colours - the triangle is the symbol of the water element and the feminine. To me, this speaks of remaining open to feminine wisdom and intuition - it's very much aligned with the energy of The Empress (card number 3 of the Major Arcana) and the book I finished a few days ago. In the Guidebook that accompanies The Wild Unknown deck, Kim Krans says:
The Three of Wands indicates you've had continued support from others. With their help, you've formed a sense of self, of your values and morals. But now it's time to rely on yourself for guidance. Clarify your goals, and cast others' needs and opinions aside. The future is infinite and it's yours. 
I really couldn't ask for a better or more pertinent message right now - here's to the year ahead!

¹ If you would like to try this spread yourself, you will find it on Little Red Tarot blog

Book Review: Witch by Lisa Lister

12 May 2017

Billed as a 're-membering, re-writing and re-telling of HER Story' (as opposed to history), the much anticipated new book from Lisa Lister ¹ was released this week by Hay House. They kindly provided this copy for review. 

Whether you consider yourself a witch or not (I didn't when I first picked this up), this is essential reading for any woman looking to re-connect with her intuition and nature. That was certainly my mind-set when I started reading, but as Lister explains, a witch is "a woman fully in her power" and I am all for that! 

Witch is aimed at women, and critical of the Patriarchy that has risen over the last 3,000 years of female persecution and disempowerment.
Why do we have to remember that we are powerful? Why have we forgotten? Why do we remember, then forget all over again? Why do we have to wake and reclaim the witch now more than ever before? Patriarchy. 
However, this isn't a man-hating diatribe, rather a call for re-balancing and re-connection with our true natures - both male and female. Lister clearly states that her agenda in writing the book is because she wants you to "take back what's rightfully yours as a woman". This includes having support from men who are able to stand along side us. After thousands of years of censorship and repression, we are invited to question EVERYTHING, including the book, and to learn to listen to our innate knowledge, before deciding on the truth or motivation behind it.
The more we fear the witch, the more we fear our own power - which was, and still is, exactly the point of patriarchal propaganda.... Feel into those echoes of truth that have been passed down through the generations of ancestral trauma and karma and find the truth that echoes inside of YOU.
In the early chapters, Lister briefly explains the history of witchcraft, different witchcraft traditions and the book contains a few spells and such, but it isn't about learning HOW to be a witch, there are other books for that, and some are listed. In the same way that Pussy Hat craftivists reclaimed that word, this work aims to reclaim the word 'witch' - it's no longer something we will be tortured, drowned or burned at the stake for. It's not an insult! It is about accessing our inner knowing and being aligned with nature.
The witch is she who looks inward for knowledge, not out. It is she who trusts and respects herself, and she who is whole. 
So the call to awaken, which underpins the whole book, is about reconnecting to our intuition, trusting ourselves and healing old wounds - ours, and those of the generations that went before us, who were persecuted and had to hide their light - however messy that might turn out to be. We have to remind ourselves that it's safe to be powerful.

After setting the his herstorical context for the current need to 'awaken' in the first half, the second half of the book works through five different witch archetypes present in all of us. They are: being in tune with the cycles of nature, creation and manifestation, intuition, healing, and 'rewilding' or coming fully into our bodies. There is a lot of really great information here, including ways to develop your 'witchy powers', spells, how to work with the cycles of the year, different forms of divination, breathing techniques, how to work with herbs and crystals, and more! I'd consider this a great starting point for those - like me - who are new to some of these things. 

From a personal perspective, if the aim of the book is to 'wake the witches' I would have to say that the author has succeeded. I felt angry reading about the witch trials (although I already knew something about them from films and books) and deeply saddened that the traditions, knowledge and lore that our ancestors possessed, was lost. All that remains in my family are a few old wives' tales and remedies - personally and collectively, we have missed out on so much. 

Since the US Presidential elections, and my co-incidental (you think?) call to more spiritual and intuitive practices around the same time, I have been worried for my children - especially my daughter - growing up at this point in time. This is directly addressed and actually gave me hope: 
The good news is he's making it visible. For so long, this has been bubbling away - unreported and unseen - and now it's rising to the surface. It has to be seen, it has to be felt, before it can be healed. It has to be brought out into the light so that we can see how destructive and divisive a force it is.  
The superficial freedoms we have been living with since 'female emancipation' are not enough. I feel that. When the author talked about the way we persecute ourselves every time we look in the mirror, or criticise another woman, it made me want to cry. We no longer need to be physically tortured - most women are doing it with their own thoughts and fears (of not being enough, not earning enough, not being pretty enough, or slim enough or <insert your personal brand of self-torture here>) and we do it ALL THE TIME.
Our deepest wounds, our fears, are what we need to teach and share the most.
When I'd almost finished reading the book, I intuitively pulled a tarot card from the Wild Unknown tarot deck, and got the seven of wands (pictured above). As always with this deck, the message was instant, loud and clear. It's time to stand tall and shine our light - to support those who are making a stand, and to have the courage to do the same.
The charge of the witch is to save ourselves. It's to treat ourselves and each other with the respect and grace and honour that the divine feminine requires, because we are all aspects of SHE. We all come from her, and we will all return to her. And when we feel, heal and save ourselves; we feel, heal and save the world. 
Witch is widely available now, or you can order online from Hay House or Amazon, where it's already a Best Seller.

Crowned ‘the defender of female awesomeness’ by Cooler magazine, Lisa Lister is an advocate of the FULL female experience. She's a writer, a menstrual maven and creatrix of the SHE Flow system - movement, women's wisdom and menstrual health and 'down-there' care practices - dedicated to helping women crack their lady code, reconnect with their body wisdom and love their lady landscape. Read lots more about Lisa's work at www.thesassyshe.com. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook. There is also a dedicated Instagram account for this book, and the hashtag is #wakethewitches.

Moon Musings

10 May 2017

As a child, I had lots of questions about the moon - it was an object of complete fascination. My grandparents lived on the side of a mountain with little light pollution, and my Grampy would hold me up to the window to see it. I'm not sure that my many questions about this mysterious thing were ever answered to my satisfaction - those who could explain it gave answers beyond my comprehension, and those who couldn't, fobbed me off. 

Photo Credit: Canva.com
Appropriately enough (as the moon is associated with mothers, parenting and childhood), it wasn't until I became a mother - in my thirties - that I really started to take notice of the lunar cycles. That was the first time in many years when my body wasn't medicated to prevent it being in tune with the cycles of nature¹ and when, free from the corporate hamster-wheel,  I began to notice the effect the full moon has on some people - including young children. Each month, my son would transform from a perfectly lovely toddler, into a wailing creature I hardly recognised. He wouldn't sleep, he'd cry a lot, and his behaviour would become much less predictable. We joked that he was "a lunatic" in the literal sense. It wasn't really a joke - his sun sign is Cancer.
The Cancerian's passing moods are synchronised to the moon, answering to the same mysterious lunar influence that causes the tides of the ocean to flow in and out. - Linda Goodman ²
Once I made this connection, it was easy enough to know that there wasn't anything 'wrong' with him if he was out of sorts around the full moon. At first, I got lots of strange looks from other mothers I mentioned it to, but over the years several of them also recognised similar traits in their families, and a few of them can still be found on the morning school run, muttering about the moon, with dishevelled or moody kids in tow.

For a long time, that was pretty much the extent of my moon-watching. Then, at the beginning of the year, I participated in a class on New Moon Magic from Emily Trinkaus ³ and had an epiphany. Emily talked about astrology as a forgotten feminine art and explained how working with the moon can be magical and empowering. This lead me to learn more about Astrology and to find the work of Yasmin Boland.
Watching the Moon from month to month and year to year will put you in touch with her cycles and rhythms - it will help you to remember that we are all part of something so much bigger; that we’re kids of the Universe. We’re stardust. We’re so much more than people who struggle to get to work on public transport, and once there, compete with others for promotions. - Yasmin Boland ⁴
In her book Moonology, Yasmin explains how to work with the 'magic' of lunar cycles and how it can transform your life - using the new moon to manifest, and the full moon for forgiveness and gratitude. Moonology soon became a 'go-to' book, joining Linda Goodman and Eckhart Tolle on my 'Shelf of Essentials' - it is used regularly to look up the new and full moon information, as these are the two phases I'm most interested in (it covers more). I particularly love this quote:
We’re makers of magic on a journey towards enlightenment. We’re at one with the skies and the heavens and all that lies beyond, and even if we can’t observe the heavens fully, or even give too much time to contemplating nature, connecting with the Moon reconnects us with the Divine - with our Divine selves and with the cosmos.  - Yasmin Boland ⁴
Today the Full Moon is in Scorpio - it's not too bad for our family which is comprised of Taureans (both me and my daughter), my Cancerian son, and my Capricorn husband, but the energy is potentially pretty intense. It's a time to find the balance between "over-intensity and lazy contentment" ⁴ - something I definitely struggle with. In the book, Yasmin gives five pertinent questions to work through at this time, as well as details of how to perform Forgiveness and Gratitude ceremonies. If you're interested in these things, I'd certainly recommend it.

There are lots of great online resources to help with today's full moon including the full moon report from Moonology.comthis post and video from Jessi Huntenburg, this spread from New Age Hipster and the Scorpio Full Moon spread from Ethony, which I tried out last night using The Good Tarot. Many more are popping up on my social media feed since starting to write this post.

Whatever you do, and whether you're interested in the moon or not, I hope that your day is a good one and in the spirit of gratitude, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this post. Perhaps there was a message in it for you...?

NOTES: Amazon UK affiliate links are included for ease, and the books are also widely available elsewhere.

¹ For further Reading about female cycles try Moon Time by Lucy H Pearce and Code Red by Lisa Lister,
² From Linda Goodman's 'Sun Signs',  chapter 'How to recognise Cancer'. I've had a 1972 copy of this book since the late 1980s - despite being older than me, it has never been wrong about anyone I've met. Ever.
³ The free class was part of the Woman Unleashed online retreat.
⁴ Quotes taken from Yasmin Boland's 'Moonology - Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles'.

Getting Sh*t Done (May 2017)

9 May 2017

Chop Wood from The Wisdom of the Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid

After reviewing April's monthly oracle card (here), it turned out to be a pretty much spot on, so I've also been revisiting the card I pulled for May. 'Chop Wood' is about being grounded in everyday experience and humility. The image shows two doors which have opened inwards. Outside there is a golden sky and bright beams of light are radiating down onto a broom. The broom stands upright of its own accord, and attached to the handle there is a long pink ribbon with a star at the end. Light and more stars stream in from outside and there are other cleaning tools inside the doorway - a couple of pails and and some other things that aren't quite so clear. There also appears to be a stock of small logs or kindling in a basket to the left. 

In the guidebook, Colette Baron-Reid says:
When you engage in everyday tasks in a meditative, contemplative way, you clear your energy to receive your "Aha!" moments, which brings you ever closer to what you seek. 
Whenever this card comes up, I think of the Zen proverb which says - "before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." Not that I claim to be 'enlightened' but this does resonate with me. Over the last few months my attention and energy has certainly been directed away from mundane everyday tasks. Instead I've been busy learning, questioning, journaling, and generally following the call to work on myself rather than all the external "stuff". Obviously, this can't go on indefinitely to the detriment of certain things that need to get done.

So I've re-organised my planner*, made lots of lists, and towards the end of last week I finally got to work on the numerous things I've been putting off. I wouldn't go as far as to say I've enjoyed it, but there is a sense of satisfaction each time I tick another thing off the list and today I feel I've earned a cup of tea and a flick through a newly arrived book. Of course the challenge is going to be to keep it up. Wish me luck!

*Talking of planners, did you see the post from Gretchen at Willows East about making a tarot planner from any diary or journal? I've just started using the symbols chart in my diary, to keep a log of my daily card. Love it!

The 'Sunday Evening Dread' Spread

6 May 2017

If you've ever wasted half of your weekend worrying about the week ahead, this spread is for you. Maybe you're stressed out and unhappy in your job, or you don't get along with a co-worker. Perhaps you have a deadline to meet and you're not sure how you will get it done on time, or you might love your work but have to face a horrible commute to get to it. The latter sums up my husband's situation. I swear that his demeanour regularly starts to change before Sunday lunch. By the evening, he may as well be on the train into London, because he's already dreading the journey he'll have to take the next morning. I know he's not the only one to feel this way, because I spent years filled with 'Sunday Evening Dread' before I left my corporate career.

I'd like to share this little spread I've devised for just such an occasion. The three cards (or more, if you feel so inclined) will help you to consider what you can do to prepare yourself for the things you are dreading, what might stand in your way, and how things could turn out if you are prepared. 

As an example, using my husband's situation, I pulled The Hermit, the Ten of Swords and The Fool.

What does he need to do? The Hermit indicates the need for solitude and withdrawal, and time for quiet reflection. In this example, I think my husband should consider listening to calming music, an audio book or meditation to 'zone out' from his surroundings via headphones. Taking his attention away from the thing he hates (the unreliable trains which cost a small fortune to use) should help him to stay calm and he might even begin to see it as an opportunity to relax, before and after work.

What does he need to overcome? The Ten of Swords is about self-pity and victimhood, playing the martyr and feeling really hard done by. In this case there is no option but to make the journey if my husband wants this work, so he needs to free himself from old patterns of negative thinking and let go of his resistance to what is (the need to travel).

When we change our thinking to take responsibility for our choices (taking on the project in that location) we can consider the consequences are our own making, and then either get on with it, or find a way to not repeat the choices that got us in this situation in the first place.

What will be the outcome (if he does this)? The Fool is a perfect card for this example as he is setting off on his own journey without a care in the world. He is completely unburdened and open to the experience of the journey. Wouldn't that be lovely?!

Of course the spread is not limited to use on Sundays - you can use it any time you have that sinking feeling and want to get yourself mentally prepared for what's ahead. Grab your favourite tarot or oracle cards and give it a try, then let me know what you think in the comments, or tag me on Instagram

An unexpected friendship

3 May 2017

The first tarot deck I owned (The Wild Unknown) has it's own unique imagery - in fact, it was the artwork which enticed me to try tarot in the first place. While the card meanings are in alignment with tradition, they bypass the 'traditional symbolism' of the Rider-Waite Smith (RWS) decks which form the basis of the vast majority of tarot books, courses and resources. I quickly realised that I would also need a RWS deck for study purposes, and headed to the bookshops in the nearest big town, where the only offering (apart from row upon row of angel cards) was the Original Rider Waite.

Thankfully it only cost £6, because soon as I opened it I decided that the images were far too ugly and old-fashioned to use, and put the deck aside, favouring the Radiant version, which at least has clean lines and bright colours.

The Original Rider Waite Tarot Deck

That was a few months ago, and during that time the 'classic' imagery and symbolism has become more familiar, so I thought I'd try it again. For the last few days I've been using this deck for personal journaling and have been surprised at how well it's gone, so I decided to have a bit of fun with the Deck Interview Spread from Little Red Tarot.

The questions, written by Beth Maiden, are as follows:

1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic? 
2. What are your strengths as a deck? 
3. What are your limits as a deck? 
4. What are you here to teach me? 
5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you? 
6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

There are no specific positions for this spread, so I lay it in two simple rows, reading from left to right.

Position 1 - Knight of Pentacles: The deck is loyal and reliable. It's not flashy and indeed some (me!) might consider it a bit dull and boring, but it's hardworking, dependable and gets the job done. This deck is like a safe pair of hands - you know exactly where you are with it.

Position 2 - King of Cups: The King represents the balance of intellect and emotion which is reflected in this deck. Accordingly, its strengths are considered, balanced readings. It is supportive and logical - it won't give highly-emotional responses, and can be relied upon when you need a calm approach to help clarify a situation. 

Position 3 - Seven of Cups: There are so many other shiny decks out there, it's all too easy to get tempted away from this one. It might not be sparkly and new, but it's important to remember not all that glitters is gold. 

Position 4 - The Magician: The deck is here to teach me how to use my creative power to start a new life cycle. The Magician is the card of alchemy and the ability to direct one's own will. He combines resources with action to channel universal energy and bring about positive change. It's a great sign!

Position 5 - Knight of Swords: I can best learn and collaborate with this deck by using it! This is a card of powerful forward action - there's no stopping the Knight of Swords once he's on a mission.  

Position 6 - The Hanged Man: The potential outcome of our working relationship is insight, spiritual awakening and a personal transformation. A new point of view. The Hanged Man is fully surrendered to what is and suggests it is time to sacrifice previous beliefs that no longer serve my spiritual wellbeing.

I enjoyed this exercise and it certainly reflected what I'd been thinking about this deck over the last few days, which should come as no surprise to anyone who read my last post.  

Have you used this spread? Which deck did you use and did the cards align with your feelings about it? Let me know here or on Instagram

5 Things I Couldn't Hide from Tarot (in April)

1 May 2017

April was a really great month. On a personal level, I made lots of lovely memories with my family including a holiday on the Cornish coast, we also celebrated my daughter's birthday. Throughout the month I managed daily journaling practice with tarot - mostly in the form of a one- or three- card draws, as per this post, plus some additional study here and there. It feels as though I'm making progress in understanding the cards and accessing my intuition. Many times I've been able to consider things with a fresh perspective by applying the lessons of the daily card. 

Several times throughout the month I was gobsmacked by the daily cards I'd either drawn or which (literally) jumped out of the deck onto my lap while shuffling, and which perfectly summed up my situation at that time. The cards were a direct reflection of my feelings and there was no hiding at all! I've been recording my daily cards on Instagram, and have compiled five such instances below, complete with the original comment. 

Note: If you're not familiar with tarot, or attuned to synchronicity in some other way, you may not believe these things happened. I still can't quite believe it myself and it makes me chuckle to think about it. Links to card meanings are provided so you can understand the relevance of each of the cards, if you are so inclined. If you are used to tarot, you won't need to use the links... and these things probably happen to you all the time. 

1. My husband had to finish a film before our holiday (he's an Editor), and in order to get it done was working ridiculous hours. He encountered lots of technical hitches and one night, I popped into his office to see him before going to bed. Looking at him, exhausted and increasingly despondent, I jokingly referred to him as the 'Nine of Wands'.

He has no interest in Tarot so my reference was lost on him and he didn't look like he believed me when I ran back into his office the following morning, laughing, to show him the card that had jumped out onto my lap while shuffling.   

2. After arriving at the beautiful cottage we'd rented for our holiday, I stood enjoying the view and watching our dog in the sunshine. I felt so happy and grateful for our life and decided to pull a card. Of course, it was the Nine of Pentacles. There was no point telling my naysaying husband, so I posted on Instagram instead. 

3. While we were away, the Ace of Cups was stalking me - it came up in various spreads and as my daily card, with various decks. Then one night, I posted a photo of our two champagne glasses and regular playing cards on Instagram Stories - I tagged the post #twoofcups. 

Can you guess which TWO cards jumped out for my daily draw over tea the following morning.....? You can see from the comments that I didn't even realise the coincidence (synchronicity) with the Two of Cups until later when I saw the photo of the champagne glasses. 

4. On Saturday, with my husband and kids out for the day, I finally had some time alone. Our holiday was wonderful, and I love being with everyone, but I really need 'me' time to recalibrate when we've been busy. I walked the dog while listening to a podcast about the Hermit card and realised how much I related to it that day, I started planning how I'd use my few quiet hours to meditate and catch up with a few things including an exercise from the Vision Seeker ecourse. When I got home, I wrote a blog post about it and wouldn't you know it - the cards I pulled included the Hermit. I mentioned the earlier podcast etc and how it was a nice synchronicity.

Later in the afternoon, I realised that although I'd already done a little spread, I hadn't chosen a card for the day, even though it felt like it really should be the Hermit. So I pulled out a deck I haven't used for a few weeks, shuffled and pulled a card... 

5.  Yesterday we were leaving early to drive our daughter and her three closest friends to her birthday celebration. Before we went, I had five minutes to pull my card for the day. Of course, it could only be the Three of Cups

So these are 5 of the things I couldn't hide from Tarot in April. I realise it probably sounds crazy to anyone who hasn't experienced it (I wouldn't have believed it myself a few months ago) but for those who have, I'd be interested in hearing what you think about this. How do you think it works? How long has this been happening to you, and do you still get a thrill? Or does it get old, like riding a bike? Please leave a comment below, or come and say hello on Instagram

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