Category Archives: Shuffling the Deck: Tarot Musings

Shuffling the Deck: Your Foolish Ways

Is he simple and a dumbling or is he really, really, quite wise? When she finally takes the leap will she fall on her face or discover that she has wings? And what of the relationship between what the world expects us to think/do/say and what we know, in our hearts to be true?

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The Fool in the Ride Waite Smith Tarot Deck.

Now the tom cat was the master of the house, and the hen was mistress, and they always said, “We and the world,” for they believed themselves to be half the world, and the better half too. The duckling thought that others might hold a different opinion on the subject, but the hen would not listen to such doubts. “Can you lay eggs?” she asked. “No.” “Then have the goodness to hold your tongue.” “Can you raise your back, or purr, or throw out sparks?” said the tom cat. “No.”

“Then you have no right to express an opinion when sensible people are speaking.” So the duckling sat in a corner, feeling very low spirited, till the sunshine and the fresh air came into the room through the open door, and then he began to feel such a great longing for a swim on the water, that he could not help telling the hen.

“What an absurd idea,” said the hen. “You have nothing else to do, therefore you have foolish fancies. If you could purr or lay eggs, they would pass away.”

“But it is so delightful to swim about on the water,” said the duckling, “and so refreshing to feel it close over your head, while you dive down to the bottom.”

“Delightful, indeed!” said the hen, “why you must be crazy! Ask the cat, he is the cleverest animal I know, ask him how he would like to swim about on the water, or to dive under it, for I will not speak of my own opinion; ask our mistress, the old woman—there is no one in the world more clever than she is. Do you think she would like to swim, or to let the water close over her head?”

“You don’t understand me,” said the duckling. –From the Ugly Duckling

 

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The Fool from the Wild Unknown Tarot Deck

Card: The Fool
Number: 0
Planetary Ruler: Uranus
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
Season: Spring
The Fool begins the journey into the Tarot. Though he is associated with beginnings it may be better to think of him as a radical revisionist. He has already done some traveling as evidenced by his handy pack–full of tools of his trade and a few essentials for the road. He has seen various paths and ways of being but he is looking for something deeper, something magical and ripe with meaning. But like all aspects of the other world, following intuition can lead to truth or illusion and so the Fool must watch both heaven and earth allowing the practical to intermingle with the more abstract and obscure.

Meanings:

* New Beginnings and Endings
* Foolish behavior, lack of awareness
* Faith and Devotion
* Risk and Reward
* Wisdom

In the beginning there was nothing, only void and in the beginning we have nothing…or so it may seem. Rarely is there a time when an individual says to himself “yes, now is the time and the day that I will go and seek out my deep well of inner knowing., Now is the best time to pursue my dreams” No, no. More often than not life pushes us–through emotional travail, practical circumstance, or shattering revelation to go out on a journey looking for Lord only knows what. This initial step is what the Fool demonstrates and guides us in. For we all begin as fools when we search out and seek towards our deepest sense of knowing and acting.

In most Tarot decks the Fool card is labeled zero and many remark on the tabula rasa nature of the fool, on the fact that zero is equated to the cosmic egg, that the card in a way is a kind of birthing. These observations hold truth in them but I think there is more to the story. Many of us today have experiences in life where we would rightly say that we started not at zero but in the negatives. Perhaps day in, day out circumstance weighed against us or we lost ourselves to ourselves through one bad decision after the other, when the Fool shows up her presence indicates that in some way and to some degree healing and foreknowledge has already begun to take root–for we are not in the negatives-we are at zero and we are ready to set forth.

In literature, myth and story there are different kinds of fools. There is the foolish fool, the wise fool, and the holy fool. There are the Trickster Gods who are the fools’ boon companions, guides, and in some cases challengers all rolled into one black feathered raven or scatter-furred Coyote. But there is one thing that all of these fools have in common, one demand that they make of us no matter what kind of fool we may be-we must be willing to be ridiculous, to embrace the absurd.

Ridiculous, absurd, and hilarious behavior puts us right up close and personal with our pride, ego, and most essential of all concern with what everyone else thinks. The Fool is the right first step for any journey that takes us into our interior, any work that is determined to unearth the deep well of intuition because the first step is a turning away from “what the world thinks” and that is why the Fool shows us his back and not his front. He has by hook or crook turned away from the blathering on of the exterior world…for now. The Fool is, interestingly enough, concerned with knowledge but it is knowledge of the self he seeks out. He is seeking a different voice, one that is carried on the wind and sniffed out in woodsmoke, one that resides in just the right harmony, and in the wind that blows around our deep well of knowing.

In a reading: The natural expression of the Fool in our outer life looks different for different people but it often manifests as the individual turning their back–figuratively or literally–on that which no longer serves, takes up space for the sake of taking up space and wastes time.

When the Fool/ess comes into your life you can bet that s/he is going to turn it upside down and inside out-willy nilly. The Fool is not gradual change–there is little that appears to be reasoned or rational about her, she is after all a Fool. The Fool is fast and sudden change. It is the financier who after working 100 hour weeks for eight years decides to quit their job and follow their life long passion of photography. It is the artisan who leaves the big city that never had a place for her and chooses to homestead in the mountains with her partner. It is the mom who chooses to homeschool her children-other people’s opinions be damned, and it is the boyfriend who wakes up and realizes his life will never be the same without his mate…and ask for their hand in marriage.

These are all examples of Fool energy in action. Just as there is nothing gradual about the Fool there is also nothing done without order-although it may not be apparent at the time. The Fool always, always, always initiates a journey. When the Fool shows up he crooks his finger and says-come away with me. The journey need not be physically articulated-though it often is-because it is a journey into the interior realms, into the mountains and valleys of our soul selves-that is why the back is turned.

 

Rituals:

Sacred Journal Prompt: Where is the Fool in your life? What journey does he invite you take?

Build an Altar: To represent your understand of Faith, Belief, and Inner Wisdom.

Try Something New: the Fool likes journeys and beginnings, try one thing you have never tried before to honor your own Fool/ess.

 

Shuffling the Deck: The Devil You Know

The Devil is such a compelling figure and one to consider from so many angles. In the Tarot he surprises us by showing up right after the stabilizing force of the Temperance card. Let’s find out what this particular tarot teacher has to say.

 

Card: The Devil
Number: 15
Planetary Ruler: Pluto/Saturn
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Season: Late Winter
We have just come through Death and found a place of balance and revivification with the Temperance card. Just as we think we are making some progress, Old Scratch shows up to cause mischief and mayhem…or does he?

Meanings:

* Slavery and Bondage
* Addictive Behaviors and Chronic Negative Thought Patterns
* Love of the Wild
* Rebellion
* Obsessions and Compulsions

In the Tanakh (The Hebrew Bible or what Christians call the “old testament”), the term Satan is almost always accompanied by the definite article “the.” As a result, some translators believe that the term refers to a function as opposed to a specific being. This function of “the Satan” is perhaps best illustrated in the Book of Job where he is described simply as “the adversary.” In Christian contexts Satan becomes the Devil. The word is derived from the ancient Greek diabolos which literally means “to slander” or “the slanderer.”

First and foremost, we see from the Jewish and Christian contexts of the terms Satan and Devil, that the function of the Devil is that of a challenger or adversary. This aspect is carried over into folklore where characters like “Old Scratch” show up to create mischief and mayhem and figures like Krampus-a pre-Christian German figure especially active during the holidays–is the foil to “Good St. Nicholas.” Whereas St. Nick awards children who have been good, Krampus punishes those who have been bad. The image that we see emerging from these depictions is a figure whose job is to exploit us in the areas where we are most weak. Some believe that the Devil does this because he is inherently evil, but others find that we prove our worth and mettle by facing temptation head on and acknowledging where we may be enslaved; enslaved to bad relationships, addictive behaviors, or simply chronic thought patterns that will not subside.

Capricorn, the astrological sign that is affiliated with the Devil card, gives us another aspect to consider. Capricorn and the Devil share the ruling planet of Saturn. In astrology, Saturn is often conceived as a planet dictating discipline, restriction, and a rigid adherence to one’s strict ethical and moral code. In Greek myth, Saturn is Kronos, the God of Time who continually procreates only to devour his children in fear that his throne may be usurped. The Devil is also the Horned Goat associated with Pagan Gods like Pan and Cerrunos–the Celtic Lord of the Animals. In this guise the Devil is viewed as a Christian overlay on a pre-Christian Deity who symbolized wild lands, wild behavior, and protections of and for the wild.

In the RWS version of the card we see a horned figure with the torso of a man and the shaggy, furred legs of a goat. This image is the traditional Satyr image of half man/half goat we see associated with the Devil throughout the Western world. An inverted pentagram rests between the Devil’s horns. The pentagram was first popularized by metaphysical and mathematical teacher Pythagoras and has many mysteries associated with it. Far from a symbol of evil, the pentagram right side up actually connotes adherence to the four cardinal virtues and high esteem for the immortal soul. In it’s inverted position, the pentagram indicates a disdain for these trappings of religion and civilization. At the feet of the Devil are two figures who look familiar to us because we first met them in card #6–The Lovers. In this card, however, our prototypical Adam and Eve have sprouted their own horns and, most alarmingly of all, they are chained to the great beast’s throne. When we look closely at the chains, however, we see that the collars around both the man and the women are large and spacious and easy enough to slip right on out of. This gives us the clue that the Devil is actually a challenge for us–to examine what chains bind us, name them, and then free ourselves of them once and for all.

When it shows up in a reading, this card usually indicates that something is binding you right now. It is your job to figure out what that is and do something to free yourself. It may also indicate that an addiction you have had up to this point and believed you could handle on your own is getting the better of you. It is time to seek out help. In some cases, this card encourages you to never underestimate the person(s) who challenge you most. For others, this card is a clarion cry to rebel against an unjust system and often indicates a “return to nature” or a romanticization of all that is wild, free, and unfettered by man-made civilization.

Rituals:

Sacred Journal Prompt: Is there a Devil in your life right now? Who or what is your own personal adversary? What are the chains that are binding you and how might you go about setting yourself free?

Build an Altar: Depending on what the Devil card says to you, you can create an altar that is meant for banishing work.  Put items on the altar that you wish to be free of–overloaded credit cards, cigarettes, liquor, that abusive friendship–and then take practical steps to let them go. Place this altar in the West and work at it as the sun sets in the sky.

Honor the Wild: If the Devil is not posing as an adversary to you right now then perhaps he is reminding you of what is wild, free, and unfettered. What in your own life is wild? Does something need to be unchained a bit more? Take a walk in the woods and consider these questions.

 

Shuffling the Deck: Temperance

Hello loves! Many of you have asked for MORE! of the Shuffling the Deck tarot posts. Today’s card is Temperance.

Card: Temperance
Number: 14
Planetary Ruler: Jupiter
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Season: Early Winter, Winter Solstice, Yule and Christmas

After the loss, deprivation, and underworld adventures we experience with Death, the Angel in the Temperance card encourages us to find a new balancing point, to recognize that light is present even in the darkest nights, and to (re)embrace the possibility of birth and rebirth.

Meanings:

  • Finding a point of peace+equilibrium
  • Prudence, wisdom, and self-restraint
  • Reciprocity, especially in nourishment and love
  • Discovering how opposites can work together
  • Pregnancy–metaphorical or literal

 

Temperance is one of the core classical virtues. The word temperance in English is a translation of the Greek word sophrosune which is also translated as moderation or prudence. Interestingly, in Greek Tragedy sophrosune is often invoked and this is important because of the Temperance card’s placement in the deck between Death and the Devil. We might say that it is by treading the path of Temperance that one can successfully navigate between such harsh extremes.

Sagittarius, the sign that rules subjects like religion and philosophy is an appropriate representative of this card with its focus on classical ideals like wisdom and moderation as well as the spiritual theme of being “tempered” or tested. Appropriately enough when the card comes up it can indicate a new or renewed interest in learning-especially learning about philosophical and/or religious subjects.

There is little agreement on which Angel is depicted on the Temperance card or what it represents, but I was taught that the figure is the Angel Gabriel, the messenger–one of the four archangels who was responsible for letting both Sarah and Mary know that they had conceived special children. Some sources believe that the Angel Gabriel is actually a more recent incarnation of an ancient fertility Goddess. As a result the Temperance card-amid all its moderation and, in some cases, recommendations of sexual abstinence-can also indicate pregnancy and children.

Temperance is one of the Major Arcana cards that I find many people have a more difficult time understanding. I see the card as a moment of pause, a breath of renewal that comes on the heels of Death, the first step on one’s own underworld adventure when we stand at a sort of crossroads and decide to take the path that leads to greater spiritual awakening…or not.

This card indicates that a major choice will be made and that as transformation is occurring within, the outer world relationships one has should be supportive and balanced. It’s also interesting to note that the Temperance card coincides with one of the biggest festivals of the year-the Winter Solstice or return of the light. Why such a constrained card for a major time of festivity? Temperance does not mean no fun…temperance means gauging your behavior so that you have maximum fun!

Rituals:

Ask yourself what kind of relationship you have to virtues like moderation, temperance, and prudence :: I recommend you do this during the New Moon, preferably when it is in the sign of Sagittarius. A lot of people today feel like these old virtues are stuffy and limiting but vibrant Pagan societies developed around them–so take a deeper look at them.

Work with Archangels, especially Archangel Gabriel :: What messages does this celestial being have to give you? Create an altar for Archangel Gabriel or write a petition invoking his aid.

Create a Symbol :: to honor your own spiritual journey and the alchemical changes that are taking place within you. Alchemists of old used symbols to designate the elements they worked with as well as the philosophical ideals they sought out and were guided by. Create your own symbol that speaks to where you are and perhaps where you are headed.

 

Want more? One of the best ways to get a feel for a specific card is to look at different visual interpretations of it. Head over to my Temperance Board on Pinterest and feast your eyes!

Shuffling the Deck: Death

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Ai! I have taken a couple of months off from the Shuffling the Deck series and recently remembered that it was time to pick it back up again—but with a few changes. Because ritual forms such a huge part of what I do, each new entry will include ritual suggestions & inspirations specific to the card at hand. I am also adding in some astrological considerations to each card and a poem of prayer that invokes the specific energy and presence of the card.

Card: Death
Number: 13
Planetary Ruler: Pluto
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Season: late fall through early Winter and the celebration of Halloween, All Soul’s Day, Samhaim, Dia de los Muertos

Maybe its because I’m born on the 13th of maybe its because Pluto features strongly in my natal chart, but the Death card has always been one of my favorites. Its themes include:

Meanings:

Death-literally or figuratively
Descent into the Underworld
Initiation
Equalizing forces-Death and taxes!
The Death card is a wake up call. It reminds us that physical death is imminent and unavoidable and compels us to think, if only for a moment, on whether or not we are living as brightly as we might. This is a question for each one of us-rich, poor, black, white, brown, or red, woman, man, and those in between-because we each must face death it is a great equalizer-we are all on a level field.

As we settle into that question we consider what parts of our life might be in the process of dying back-and whether they are making room for more of the same or for something precious and worthwhile. Death symbolizes endings, it is final, it is done-it brings the possibility of closure to experiences that may be dragging out for too long sucking at our life force and creativity.

And finally, Death is communion, especially when we come out of (or to) a tradition that honors the ancestors who have gone before and seeks to learn from them. 

Rituals:

Honoring and listening to your dead-your ancestors and those of your lineage. You can do this by building an altar for your ancestors, visiting a graveyard where family members are buried and keeping up the grave sites, or simply by displaying old photos of deceased family members around your home so that you become more aware of their presence…and wisdom.

Working with Deities whose domain is the underworld-Kali, Ereshkigal, Hades, Porserpina, Dummuzi, Hel, Hekate, Santisima Muerte, Anima Sola. If Death is around you, if you feel like you are going through an underworld descent then learning about the Deities that preside over the underworld-and seeking their aid-is a wise course of action.

Culling-one can cull a herd of animals, a garden, or the attic-the process is inherently the same. We begin the culling process by asking the question: what needs to be allowed to die back, get harvested, be slaughtered so that new life may emerge?

Poetic Prayer:

This beautiful poem from by Pablo Neruda captures the first meaning of the death card beautifully:

You start dying slowly
if you do not travel,
if you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.

You start dying slowly
When you kill your self-esteem;
When you do not let others help you.
You start dying slowly
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking everyday on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.
You start dying slowly
If you avoid to feel passion
And their turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.

You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…

Shuffling the Deck: Getting Upside Down with the Hanged Man

Two weeks ago I rolled into yoga class on for my Thursday evening level 1-2. It was a day like any other day for me-I had a roster full of awesome clients I had spoken to, had done a wee bit of ritual magic and crafting and was ready to wind the week down starting with this class. I started practicing yoga over 10 years ago when I was in college-I have had periods where I attended religiously and periods where I have not but I have found a studio in my ‘hood that I adore so I am now a weekly fixture. So there I am with my hot pink mat and old yoga pants-kind of thinking to myself that I don’t want to be here. Its going to be another frustrating class of trying to do something that my body doesn’t really want to do. I ignore this internal dialogue (its always present) and get on with the getting on. My teacher starts talking about the shifts in perception that are possible in yoga and my mind drifts immediately to the Hanged Man card and then I know that we will be doing inversions before class is over. Slump. I can rock out a half way decent shoulder stand but I know that head stand is just not going to happen for me-it never does, yet tonight as always I will try. We get to the last 15 minutes of class. Its time for head stand, I am pretty warmed up but not expecting anything exciting to happen. I fold down into dolphin pose, kick up, and hey…there is one leg up in the air and now here’s another! I’m in headstand! It requires effort but less that I thought, what it really required like my yoga teacher said, was a perspectival shift. A movement from holding the pose (and myself) in fear to holding it in love. One small pose, and I know there will be times where its not as easy as it was that Thursday, but it has huge ramifications for how I hold my yoga (and all devotional) practices.

 

 

So…how does all this relate to the Tarot card the Hanged Man?

 

Looking at the card we see…

  • A young man hangs from a tree, his left leg tied to a T shaped branch his right leg bent at the knee with his right foot positioned behind his left thigh.
  • His arms are both behind his back and I get the sense from looking at the card that his hands are tied.
  • A halo of light surrounds his head, his face looks serene, and the colors of the card are vibrant.

One of the first things that hits me about the Hanged Man card is how it presents an immediate paradox. Scary title, bright & pretty colors. Scary position held with relative ease and peace. Then of course curiosity sets in—why? Why is this guy hanging upside down? Why does he have a halo around his head? Obviously he knows something I don’t! My saying for the Hanged Man is: knowledge, wisdom, and power gained through sacrifice.

 

In Divination I have been taught 6 distinct ways to interpret this card:

1.) In its upright position it indicates that a shift in perspective is required before the situation can move forward. I often refer to this as a 180 turn around-you thought it was one way but after you see it a bit more clearly you discover its actually a different thing all together.

2.) Also in an upright position it can indicate initiation, the decision to be initiated, Shamanic journeying into the other words (and often the underworld), and/or the endeavor of magical training.

3.) Reversed or upright the card may indicate that self sacrifice is required. This is certainly the case in the second interpretation where sacrifice is the payment the initiate makes, but it is also usually required in the first case as well—usually in order to shift our perceptions we must make an offering of the part of ourselves that refuses to be moved from our current position.

4.) In a reversed position it may also indicate that the querant or someone related to them needs to reconsider their stance or position on a certain issue.

5.) Finally, in a few cases when reversed this card can indicate that the time of initiation is over and the initiate has emerged with wisdom gained through experience and sacrifice.

6.) My uber practical side comes out sometimes when I get this card for a client-we talk about what their “hang ups” are and why they keep standing in the way!

Would you like to know what the Hanged Man tarot card, and the stories of Jacob’s Ladder, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Norse God Odin and his World Tree Yggdrasil have in common?

They are all examples of the Shamanic experiences with the axis mundi or World Tree. In a nutshell the central figure of the Hanged Man card is the Shaman-and the magic he is learning is not the elite, higher ritual magic we find present in the Magician card-rather it is the wilder magic of the shaman or astral traveler who possesses the skill and ability to go from our world into the worlds above and the worlds below-to seek out knowledge and wisdom and bring it back for the betterment of our land and community. This is the esoteric truth behind the Hanged Man card-the shift is perception occurs because the initiate has agreed to sacrifice a part of himself and in return gains the ability to pierce the veil and travel between the worlds.

While that sounds all mystical and magically high minded, the truth is that we all participate in this process to some degree. Whether we are striving to see another person’s position in a disagreement or relinquishing a long held yet severely self limiting belief we are engaging in our own process of moving between the worlds that we know best into worlds that are less familiar. Like Ishtar descending into the underworld to encounter her skull sister and rescue her beloved, we must leave cherished parts of ourselves behind to emerge different, new, and more full complete in our knowledge and wisdom that we were before.

Practice makes Perfect! Spend some time with the Hanged Man by considering these questions:

1.) What are your hang ups? What pushes your buttons like nothing else-is this a belief/feeling/experience that is vital to you or is it limiting you now?

2.) Have you ever shifted your perspective in a radical way before? Tell me about it!

3.) What part(s) of yourself will you let go of for deeper knowledge and wisdom?

Shuffling the Deck: Justice & How to Bring it on Home

We have turned on Fortune’s Wheel and now we are delivered to Justice-but what kind of Justice does this card represent?

It is the Justice of God, the universe, mankind? Do we have a card that represents social justice or the great laws of reciprocity and balance? If I had to give you a sentence for this card it would be:

Actions have consequences.

Or, to put it more bluntly,

“What goes around, comes around.”

 

The main images for Justice from the RWS card are:

  • A seated figure in a throne-the figure looks androgynous to me but is usually described as being male-he/she is garbed in rich red robes with green accents which cover the entire body save for the tip of the right foot.
  • Two stone pillars are on either side of the figure & throne, reminding us of the same schema from the High Priestess card
  • In the figure’s left hand is a balance while in the right hand is a sword help upright.
  • A purple veil hangs behind the throne of Justice and above it we see a peek of sunny yellow sky.
 

The first attributes I notice when I look at this card are the two pillars and the sword & balance that the seated figure holds. In Kabbalah there are three pillars supporting the World Tree. The right hand pillar is marked as Severity and the left hand as Mercy.

In order for Justice to be served there must be equanimity between severity through punishment and mercy through reward. Some situations call for a sharp sword to cut through bull and others call for the measured weighing of the balance.

In Divination I have been taught four distinct ways to interpret this card:

1.) Upright: Justice may indicate the need to weigh your actions carefully at this time, remembering that you will reap whatever you sow. Now is the time to gauge a situation, person, or relationship with objectivity, clarity, wisdom and balance.

2.) Justice either upright or reversed can signify court cases or legal dealings. If the querent is asking about a legal case and Justice appears upright then chances are good that the case will be resolved in the querent’s favor. If the card appears reverse then the case may not be resolved to the querent’s satisfaction and/or there may be long delays with the legal process.

3.) Justice in reverse can also indicate that a situation the querent is in will not be resolved fairly and/or the querent has made decisions in the recent past without fully measuring the possible consequences. In both cases further ritual remediation might be helpful and advised.

4.) The Justice card may signify Sun sign Libra so getting familiar with that sign can assist our interpretation of the card. As a Libra myself I can lay out the good points and not so good points of the sign pretty quickly. On the positive side Librans are diplomatic, fair, objective, social, and likable. On the negative side Librans can be picky, indecisive, shallow, vain, and self-indulgent. The card might represent any number of these qualities OR it might represent an individual in the situation whose astrological sign is Libra or has a strong Libran influence in their natal chart.

 

As the Wheel of Fortune reminds us of the dance between Fate and Free Will, Justice brings to our attention the fact that our actions have consequences. In the past justice was considered a cardinal virtue that every had a share in. Oftentimes today Justice is a notion that brings to mind court rooms and law offices. This makes sense because one of the Goddesses that Justice is most heavily associated with is the Greek Goddess Athena-who created the very first juried trial. Read about it in Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy, specifically the final work of the trilogy, the Eummenides-VERY good and highly recommended. The Oresteia not only shows us the first trial-it juxtaposes the wild ethos of nature and Dark Goddesses (The Eummenides) with the Olympian Gods and Goddesses and their new concept of justice.

In recent times we have become ever more aware of “voting with our pocketbook” and now understand that creating a fairer, more just, society begins with creating a fairer local community. Supporting local craftsmen, farmers, and artisans is a wonderful way to bring a little more justice into your local network-for as the scales remind us-everything is in relation (though not relative) to everything else. Its also important when this card comes up to make sure that the querent (whether its yourself or a client) is objective when looking at the card. For most of us the knee jerk reaction is to assume that whatever we want is what is most just-but in reality this is sometimes not the case.

Practice makes perfect! Explore the deeper meanings of Justice by considering and answering one or more of the questions below-post your answers in the comments section of this post!

1.) A Just world would look like…imagine what justice at play in the world would look like to you-go wild!

2.) Scales and Sword-when is it appropriate to be severe & when should a situation or person be greeted with mercy & compassion?

3.) Name 5 ways that you can help create a more Just society-I encourage you to begin with your local community-what can you do to make sure that everyone in the community has enough of what they need?

4.) BONUS for the philosopher or policy wonk in you! Justice is a virtue that is found above and beyond the laws of any land. At best laws are signposts pointing the way to Justice. What do YOU think the relationship to law and justice is in 21st century America?

 

Shuffling the Deck: The Wheel of Fortune-The Sacred Dance of Free Will & Fate, Luck & Necessity & The Story of Sleeping Beauty

The Wheel of Fortune is one of the more mysterious tarot cards but its also one of my favorites because it is an aperture into some of the major cultural influences that went into creating the Tarot. Based on a popular medieval homily, the story of the Wheel of Fortune was often told by clergymen to shame wealthy nobles into giving more money and patronage to the Church-but it was oft repeated by those at a financial disadvantage in recognition that gold is not something that travels well on a hearse and at some point anyone’s luck will run out. The basic idea of the wheel of fortune is that fate or fortune is an ever turning wheel. One day you may be at the bottom-feeling crushed by the weight of inescapable necessity but the next day your fortune may start to ascend while someone else’s begin to fall.

The main image of the Wheel of Fortune is of course the Wheel istself. I often think of this as the Wheel of Ezekiel in part because mages have long associated the Wheel of Ezekiel with the astrological wheel and the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Speaking of the zodiac…who are those creatures in the four corners of the card? They are the four fixed signs of the zodiac: Aquarius, Taurus, Leo, and Scorpio-symbolizing the solid foundation upon which the wheel rotates. A jackal shaped character lurks around the wheel in the RWS card invoking the Egyptian God of the Dead Anubis-reminding us that the most fundamental cycle is that of life itself and that at some point death comes calling for all of us.

In Divination I have been taught four distinct ways to interpret this card:

1.) In its upright position the Wheel of Fortune can indicate luck coming into your life, abundance flowing more freely, stuck or blocked situations starting to get unstuck with an open road and favor (fortune) on your side.

2.) In a reversed position the card indicates a loss of luck or fortune, a difficult obstacle that will require more than luck to transcend.

3.) Reversed the Wheel of Fortune may also be read as a reminder to the querant to be less fatalistic and more proactive in their choices.

4.) Timing-when looking at ritual work and whether or not ritual work will assist a client in addressing their situation if I pull the Wheel of Fortune card it tells me that the situation cannot be rushed-that there are larger forces at work-and often that at this time ritual work will have a less potent impact on the entire situation.

The Wheel of Fortune also allows us to consider the role of fate as opposed to free will—something many professional oracles are interested in-mostly because we get clients who are afraid of getting a “bad” reading. These fears are totally understandable-but its important to realize that divination makes no sense if your fundamental philosophy is one of fate without any free will. My favorite quote on this comes from an unlikely, non-magical source, Alexis de Tocqueville who said in his classic work Democracy in America,“Providence has not created mankind entirely independent or entirely free. It is true that around every man a fatal circle is traced beyond which he cannot pass; but within the wide verge of that circle he is powerful and free;”

To me, this is a beautiful and simple way of describing the dance between free will and fate that takes place in all of our lives. The Wheel of Fortune is a card that invokes the role of fate/necessity/providence-luck and unalterable circumstances do play a part in our lives they are not the end all be all, and we have many opportunities to make better and worse choices for ourselves. Of course as an intuitive reader and ritualist I am all about assessing the most likely outcome and then working with the forces of prayer, nature, and spirit to make those likely outcomes work for my client’s benefit and welfare!

Get familiar with the Wheel of Fortune by taking action and considering the questions below. As always feel free to share your answer(s) in the comments section!

1.) Luck is…give yourself permission to riff here-do you believe in luck? Think its a sham? Think its for other people? A convenient excuse? What is luck to you? Do you think you are lucky or unlucky? Why?

2.) Now pan out—think about the great ancient civilizations: The Persian Empire, Greece, Rome, China and India—fortunes wax and wane for countries and empires just as they do in our own lives-how does this make you feel?

3.) Are you a fatalist? Do you assign fate or the vagaries of fortune a large or total influence over your life? Do you feel like you do what you do because you are “fated” to do it that way? Imagine Free Will or make it even more straightforward-imagine Personal Freedom. What does it look like? Taste like? Feel like? What would your life be like if you had a little more freedom and a little less fatedness? You might want to invite freedom into your close circle of friends, make it your dance partner, spend some time with it.

4.) BONUS for the fairytale addicts: one of my personal favorite images with this card is of course the story of Sleeping Beauty. Princess Aurora pricks her finger on the spinning wheel and the curse of the 13th fairy is activated—it was decreed on the little princess’ birthday and 16 years later fate goes into effect despite her parents’ best efforts of burning all the spinning wheels in the kingdom. But a loophole has been created in the curse-in the Disney film its created by the good fairies but in the older tellings of Sleeping Beauty the opportunity for the curse to be broken arises from Aurora’s own innate goodness and the way she has chosen to live her life. In this story we have a clear example of one person’s free will posing a direct challenge (and eventually overcoming their fate). So…what does the story of Sleeping Beauty say about the Wheel of Fortune card to you?

Shuffling the Deck: The Hermit-Mastery, Solitude, Commitment & Sharing

a deep hall of beauty by markhillary

 

The central question that the Hermit asks is…are you brave enough to go within? The question that we in turn ask the Hermit is…are you brave enough to come back out?

In a consult the Hermit can represent the querant, a person—especially a teacher or guide in the querant’s life, or a phase of study, solitude, and going inward that has some relationship to the querant. In most decks the Hermit is depicted as an older, somewhat sagacious looking man, with a long robe, staff, and lamp inside of which blazes a six rayed star. In the RWS deck-my favorite to work with as an intro to Tarot-he stands on top of what looks like snowy white peaks-indicating that he has achieved an apex of mastery in some given field-he has transcended and as such there is a part of him that is otherworldly. This is why sometimes the Hermit might also refer to a spirit guide or ancestor working in the querant’s life.

The Hermit is a master at his craft. He has committed to years of solitude so that he that his devotion to God, his art, his knowledge & his magic burn brightly-these are the attributes we see in the lantern. He has been brave-for solitude demands bravery, he has been focused-for excellence demands unparalleled attention, and he has been faithful-dedicating years (represented by the long white beard) to his work. His challenge is to re-engage with the world when the time is right, because the Hermit has not been toiling away all these years simply for himself. The light of illumination & revelation that he now possesses is meant to be shared, to shine on the entire world, and in order to do that he must come out of his cave and back into the crowds, the city, the marketplace. Failure to do so results in a dimming light, necrotic knowledge, anti-social behavior problems, or simply stagnation.

Put it into practice:

The Hermit gains wisdom because he is willing to focus with single minded concentration on the work at hand. Is there a project, endeavor, or goal that you have that has been neglected, only half completed, or simply sits gathering dust? Maybe it was not really that important-if that’s the case then let it go. But if its something that you truly want to accomplish follow these 3 steps inspired by the Hermit to do it in a timely & masterly manner!

1.) Identify the road blocks: what is keeping you from achieving your goal—maybe its as simple as time or as deep as a fear of failure. Name it and write it down.

2.) Create a sacred space for your work. Although we don’t see it-cartomancy tradition tells us that the Hermit has a magical cave he goes into where all of his tools, books, and studies reside. You need to create your own cave-think of it as a womb-you are gestating your creative self! Take the time to assemble all of the tools you will need, to make the area aesthetically pleasing, and bless it in some manner.

3.) Unplug & put up the Do Not Disturb Sign: You know Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own—that’s what you need to cultivate—this is your sacred time for your sacred work. That means NO interruptions, phone calls, noodling on the net, writing a letter to your BFF—no. Do not self-sabotage yourself by choosing a time when the kids are home, when your partner is out, when you are likely to be distrubed. This is time for you and your work. Simple. Direct. Immeasurably Deep.

Extra Credit:

Setting aside a chunk of time everyday for your vital work is the best habit & practice to cultivate, and it is a spiritual practice. But for many of us the need to go deeper is present-the Hermit goes very deep. His energy is based off of mystics who went into the desert to live, fast, pray, and invoke God for months and years at a time. You don’t have to pull out the sunscreen, but think about how you can bring more time & space into your life. Start by looking at how much time you spend in front of a screen…do a digital detox for a weekend, a week, a month, and report back on how you feel.

I encourage you to share any insights, encouragement, and questions in the comments section below–you never know when one of your questions or comments might help open this up for someone else!