Getting to know the Tarot of the Spirit

Friday, 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.  

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