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? 

Deck-Trimming Tips for Beginners

2 June 2017

A few months ago I ordered the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, a beautiful deck written by Barbara Moore with artwork from Julia Jeffrey. I couldn't wait for it to arrive and when it did I read the accompanying book immediately (excellent), and loved the imagery which shows exquisite close-up images of each character ... but then I just didn't use it. Earlier this week I was thinking about the deck and went to use it, but after shuffling I found myself putting it back in the box. I wasn't sure why. What was stopping me from using this stunning deck? 
Tarot of the Hidden Realm by Barbara Moore and Julia Jeffrey, published by Llewellyn Books

A while later, it struck me. The borderless cards come with a dark brown stripe at the bottom, upon which the names are printed. Not only is this colour quite jarring to me, especially against the beautiful tones of the cards, but I realised I was looking at the words instead of the image every time I picked them up. I wasn't reading the cards intuitively at all. Instead I'd think something like 'Five of Pentacles - what do I know about that card meaning?' and this is not how I like to read Tarot. 

After a bit of consideration, it seemed like the answer may lie with scissors but I hadn't trimmed a deck before and wasn't sure how easy it would be to do a good job. Also, from the imagery it's not immediately obvious which card is which without the label - it takes a bit of looking. But that's exactly what I wanted to do, so it seemed worth the risk. 

In my 'other life' as a crafter and designer I rely on swatching and measuring before getting started on any project involving scissors, so that's exactly what I did - I made a few "swatches" to play around with.

After making a copy of the front of a few cards on plain paper, the stripe was carefully trimmed and the images looked great. Then I tried two different sizes of corner punch - 5mm and 10 mm - to determine which worked the best (neither is 100% perfect, but the 5mm size is best as the 10mm would have required all four corners to be trimmed to match). I didn't have to think about the backs of the cards as the pattern isn't symmetrical, and in fact it almost looks as though it was laid out with potential trimming in mind. With the decisions made, it was time to trim the real deck. 

Despite having my heart in my mouth for the first few cuts, it was plain sailing - within half an hour the deck was totally transformed. If you're thinking of trimming a deck of your own, and haven't done it before, I've compiled a few tips. As you'll see, it's mostly about preparation. 

  • Tarot deck
  • Sharp scissors which is suitable for paper/card
  • Corner punch (check size, see notes below) with a sharp blade
Remember that blunt blades could tear the cards instead of cutting through them. If you're not sure how sharp your tools are, test them on some similar card stock whenever possible - the extra/info cards that come with some decks could be useful for this purpose.

I'd urge anyone to think about the reasons for wanting to trim your deck, and the repercussions if you don't like it. Here are a few things to consider:
  • How much would you like to trim off? What size will that leave the cards and are you happy with this? 
  • Will it result in the removal of any imagery or symbolism? 
  • Will the back of the deck be affected?  How might this affect reversals? 
  • Can the deck be easily replaced if you make a mistake? Is this important to you? 
  • If you're not sure about trimming your particular deck, look online - there are lots of videos on YouTube which feature trimmed decks, and you will also find plenty of images on Instagram, although they are not all tagged. I used the tag #trimmedtarot which has over 130 images at the time of writing.
  • If you haven't seen (and can't find) any trimmed versions of your deck, try making a swatch of some kind - check you will like it before you make a cut. 
  • You might want to try covering any labels you're removing, to make sure you'll still be able to read the cards without them.
  • Check the size of the corner punch ON SCRAP paper or card. If you will not be re-cutting all four corners, check against the original size - unless you have a choice of punch you may have to cut all of the corners to make them match. 

  • Take it slowly!
  • Depending on the thickness of the card stock, you may find it a bit taxing to use the punch on each of the 78 cards in one sitting - especially if you don't have very strong hands - if that's the case, be sure to take regular breaks to avoid causing injury. 
  • If you don't get a perfectly neat corner on the first attempt, try turning the card over and cutting it again - this should even it out. 

Here is my finished deck in a three-card spread - I'm delighted with how it turned out and so pleased I did it! You can find my interpretation on Instagram, if you'd like to know the message I got about reading with these cards after trimming them. 

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