Deck Review: The Universe Has Your Back

30 August 2017

The new 52-Card Deck by Gabrielle Bernstein and Micaela Ezra has been all over my Instagram feed for the last few days, sparking a serious case of the 'wanties'.

I planned to pre-order The Universe Has Your Back* in time for the 5th September launch, but by some amazing synchronicity (amazing, because I live in the back-end of nowhere) my son asked to go to the only bookshop in the neighbouring town today, and lo and behold, there was a solitary copy sitting on the shelf! Clearly, I had to bring it home with me. 

Published by Hay House, the deck comes in their standard size (1.2 x 3.8 x 5.2 inches) within their typical sturdy two-part box. It includes 52 cards of key phrases and affirmations from Gabrielle's book of the same name - plus an introductory card - all beautifully illustrated by Micaela (I noticed that the book was also dedicated to her).

The blurb says the deck offers spiritual guidance, synchronicity and support, safety and joy in various circumstances and asks you to surrender to the guidance found within. In the introduction, Gabrielle states her own intention for the deck: 
My hope is that this deck will help you to deepen your connection to the innermost part of yourself and to the Universe. In that connection you will be guided to your true purpose: to be love and spread love

If you've read the book, you will recognise some of the phrases as chapter headings and lessons. If you haven't read it, you should find the words and images beautiful, regardless. You can use them in the same way as any other oracle cards; for daily inspiration, or just when you need some clarity or direction. They are nice enough to be used in frames or individually placed where you'll see the messages you need the most, if pulling a card from a deck isn't your thing.

The overall message of the deck is indeed one of love, however the cards are not all sweetness and light - they also address the presence of shadow - of fear, loss, pain, judgment and so on. For example, "I recognise that I have chosen fear, and I choose again. I choose love."
The imagery appealed to me from online previews, and as I already have the book in both Kindle and Audible format, I knew this was a deck for me. What I didn't expect was the lovely matte paper-stock. Most other decks I have from this publisher have a high gloss finish, which makes them difficult to photograph! (The exception being Crazy Sexy Love Notes by Kris Carr.)

This deck is lovely to shuffle, despite the cards being quite large, and can be photographed without glare - always a plus for us Instagram users. I think it will appeal to fans of Gabby Bernstein or Micaela Ezra, of course, as well as those who like the art on decks such as the Lumina Tarot and Wild Unknown. You can pre-order The Universe Has Your Back Deck via Amazon, Hay House and other booksellers. Let me know what you think of it. 

*Amazon affiliate

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

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