I use tarot and oracle cards as tools for reflection and contemplation. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."
"The goal isn't to arrive, but to meander, to saunter, to make your life a holy wandering." ~ Rami Shapiro

Monday, November 20, 2017

Spending or Spent

From the Wayfarer Tarot, the Four of Earth (Pentacles); from A Curious Oracle, 'Nazar:'
          Though most RWS versions of the Four of Pentacles show a miserly sort of fellow, the apple tree in this card suggests a healthy, common sense approach to my physical world. With one apple in her basket and the other three still hanging on the tree, the implication is not to spend all my time, energy or money in one area. As Black Friday looms in the near future with Christmas not far behind, I can see how this wisdom would apply. Though I'm not one to run up a credit card bill, I can overspend when it comes to energy and health. I can hear my chiropractor now, "Stop sitting on the floor when you wrap presents!" Nazar is an eye-shaped amulet believed to ward off injury or misfortune. The irony for me (because I don't believe in such things) is found in the name, which means 'attention' or 'surveillance.' When I'm in a hurry, focused on the future rather than what I'm doing at the moment, is when I'm most likely to make a mistake or hurt myself. Perhaps the real meaning of that eye is just to remind people to keep theirs wide open in the here and now.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Changing Flow

This week I'll be using the self-published Wayfarer Tarot, created by Stacy Salpietro-Babb with Margaret Shipman. I'll also be drawing from A Curious Oracle, self-published and created by Holly DeFount. Today's draws are Six of Air (Swords) and 'The Torch:'
          These birds appear to be migrating to a nearby island. Their flight reminds me of the huge flocks of blackbirds that come to the southern U.S. in autumn. Over farmlands and neighborhoods, hundreds of birds can be seen in the sky undulating like a black ribbon fluttering in the breeze. Because they are unlike geese who fly in a V formation and honk loudly to each other on the wing, researchers have been puzzled as to how blackbirds are able to stay so closely together. Thanks to high-speed imaging and algorithms, scientists discovered that each bird keeps track only of its six neighbors and coordinates its movements with them. That fact made me question how many thoughts I am consciously aware that I'm thinking. Could I tell you the last six thoughts I had? It's doubtful. But if I could (meaning paying more attention), I might be more willing to migrate from them to more wholesome and beneficial thoughts if necessary. The Torch has been given the keyword 'intentions,' which is like a map of how to move in the direction of one's aspirations during any given moment. Meditation teacher Phillip Moffitt explains it much better than I can:
Setting intention, at least according to Buddhist teachings, is quite different than goal making. It is not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, it is a path or practice that is focused on how you are "being" in the present moment. Your attention is on the everpresent "now" in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Giant Swords, Angry Geese

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Seven of Swords; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Goose:'
          Nope, there's not an elephant in the room, but a giant sword separating this couple. In my imagination, they got a tax refund; she had plans for a vegetable garden, but he spent the money on a widescreen TV. The Seven of Swords is often described as 'lone wolf' behavior, a sure way to wreck any relationship. The sword represents truth but also communication. Judging by all the snakes at their feet, they need to stop pouting and start talking. At any rate, that cat doesn't look like he's willing to put up with much more of their childish behavior. The Goose represents protection (as anyone who's ever been chased by one of these hissing, wing-flapping birds can attest). Looking at that couple I want to ask each of them, "Whose interests are you trying to protect, your own or those of both of you?" The first is simply self-absorption, and the second is true partnership.
Love and concern for all are not things some of us are born with and others are not. Rather, they are results of what we do with our minds: We can choose to transform our minds so that they embody love, or we can allow them to develop habits and false concepts of separation. ~ Sharon Salzberg

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Real Riddle

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Seven of Cups; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Nuthatch:'
          In Greece, the Sphinx (literally meaning 'to squeeze') was part woman and part lion with the wings of a bird. It was said to have guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes; travelers who wanted to pass through its gates had to answer a riddle correctly. In the Seven of Cups, the riddle isn't so much in what cup to choose, but how to bring about the emotional change represented by the chosen cup. If I want to feel good about my body, I might buy exercise clothes, equipment and healthy cookbooks. That's the fun part, right? But I haven't answered the riddle until I actually realize I must do something with those things to find that fulfillment. I've heard the nuthatch called 'the upside-down bird' because it often descends head-first and hangs upside-down beneath branches as it looks for food. It reminds me to be flexible in how I think and what I am willing to do. Unhealthy habits or patterns don't get interrupted without a willingness to change.
Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character.
Sow a character and you reap a destiny. ~ James Allen

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lone Lion or Flock

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Six of Wands; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Waxwing:'
          An arch has been created by these six wands, watched over by a hatted lion and an eagle. The lion illustrates the strength and power that was needed to accomplish this goal, while the arch suggests that this victory is a stepping stone to other challenges. I was curious about the letter 'N' at the top; it could simply mean the direction north or it could be the chemical symbol for nitrogen (used in both fertilizers and bombs). I'd bet on the chemical. The eagle implies freedom and far-sight. Though this 'win' brings more opportunities, discernment will be needed to choose those that are worth fighting for. Waxwings show up here in the South during their winter migration. They are one of the few species of birds that can survive for months on berries. They gather by the hundreds where fruit is found and pause long enough to strip the shrub or tree clean. I am reminded by the waxwing that if you don't mind sharing, any endeavor done with a group can mean more support and fun.
Working together in concert more smoothly not only helps us move more quickly; it changes the nature of what we can undertake. When we have the confidence that we can orchestrate the group effort required to realize them, we dare bigger dreams. ~ Justin Rosenstein


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cultivator

From the Jolanda Tarot, the King of Pentacles; from the Bird Signs deck, 'Song:'

Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.
~ Rene Dubos
          To assess what kind of ruler this fellow is, we would need only to look at how the choices he's made affect those around him. The orange tree in his hand reminded me of the Thomas Fuller quote, "He that plants trees, loves others besides himself." He probably treats those in his kingdom like what he grows - nurturing and protecting while also training and pruning. The naga that forms a protective hood over his head shows he is worthy of respect (and the jaguar loincloth that he won't tolerate anything that endangers his people). He asks me bluntly, what are you using your resources to cultivate? How will your actions shape yourself and your environment? The Song card is associated with the 5th or throat chakra. In balance, it is similar to one of the Buddhist precepts: I vow not to engage in false speech but to speak and listen from the heart. I can speak my truth, but I need to do it gently and with compassion. Sincerely expressing my gratitude can be a way to nourish others. My 'song' - what I say and how I say it - will create either loamy or rocky soil.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hold on to Your Brain

From the Jolanda Tarot, the Hierophant; from the Bird Signs deck, the Pelican:
          The woman attached to the bull with a sword down her center is a bit disturbing in this version of the Hierophant. My first thought was that both she and the bull were to become a sacrifice. But what is being sacrificed is not her body but her mind. In order to join any group, no matter whether it is of the religious, political or intellectual variety, we are generally required to adopt a new way of thinking. In a few cases this may be beneficial, but often it includes staying between narrow lines without using straying outside of them. The parrot makes me think of 'parroting' the group's dogma. I believe people are drawn to such groups because it makes them feel safe; there's a rule and specified action for nearly everything. But what if one's experience doesn't line up with what is being sold as truth? And is it a good thing to have to leave your brain at the door to be spoon fed doctrine? Being open-minded doesn't mean we have to give up our common sense too. The Brown Pelican is a spontaneous, in-the-moment kind of bird. They feed by plunge-diving from high up, using the force of impact to stun small fish before scooping them up in their pouch-like bills. They observe then act, and would suggest I do the same. As the Kalama Sutta encourages:
When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness’ — then you should enter and remain in them.