Falling Asleep with the Tarot

Hockley Hike

Do you ever have trouble sleeping at night? Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing and the inability to fall back to sleep?  I use a unique combination of advice I found somewhere on the internet and a Tarot strategy referred to as ‘Entering the Card’ to help me drift back into Slumberland.

I have been contemplating writing this blog entry for quite some time now.  I have always had difficulty falling asleep. I’ve tried various homeopathic, traditional and not-so-traditional remedies (although have never ventured into the realm of the ‘sleeping pill’), meditation, change in routine but all, at some point, seem to fail. Not this latest one, though.

Mary Greer, in her book ‘Tarot for the Self’, describes an activity she calls ‘Entering the Card’. This exercise involves selecting a card, picturing it in one’s imagination, and then entering the card, taking detailed notes from the experience. I have used it many times when working with a new deck, struggling with a particular card or when teaching students.

And, while poking around online a little while ago, I came across a brief article on suggestions to deal with difficulty sleeping. One of the suggestions that resonated with me was a visualization exercise. I was to imagine a peaceful place and then enter it in my mind. It then suggested that I increase the amount of detail that I imagine. For example, if I was near running water, I could see the river and then the small waves on the surface, the small plants breaking the surface of the water, the fallen leaf that floats by. The only thing that did was make me have to go to the bathroom. 🙂
I’m not one for detail in everyday life. Those who know me would probably refer to me as a ‘big picture’ kind of person. It isn’t until I fully understand something that I’ll bother with the detail. So when I tried to visualize some of my favorite relaxing destinations (fall hikes, Hawaii, Corfu Island, the ‘Muskokas’, the ‘Kawarthas’), I had difficulty picturing detail. But I know the Tarot well. And I have worked with a few decks for awhile so I can easily visualize several cards in detail. I began picturing cards that I thought had a peaceful theme (Empress, 4 of Swords, 4 of Cups, The Hermit, The Star, and many of the cards from my Gaian Tarot deck, etc…). I would enter the cards and then stop, look around and let me five senses take over. I would pick up things, note smells, talk to people and, sure enough, sleep came.

Pick a card that you think will work for you. Try it and let me know.  And… sweet dreams!

Free Teleconference

On Tuesday, July 12th, several of my favourite Tarot people are hosting a  teleconference.  See below for more details. Hope to ‘see’ you there!

“Join James Wells, Joanna Powell Colbert, Bev Haskins, Andrea Mathieson and Jeannette McCullough on this fr*ee teleseminar for an experiential look at the elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit, especially as they appear in decks like the Gaian Tarot.
 
How might the tarot be a means of listening to Gaia’s whispers, cries, and laughter?
 
What is the deeper, larger reason for us to listen to these elements of Nature?
 
We invite you to join us for this call — part meditation, part teaching, part conversation — held in the sacred circle we create in the ethers between our telephone and computer lines.
 
Have any tarot deck with you when you call in — the Gaian, if you have one. If you don’t have a deck, no worries. Just have a symbol of each of the four elements plus Spirit with you during the call.
 
This teleseminar will give you just a hint of what you’ll experience during the Gaian Tarot Retreat this coming October in southern Ontario (www.gaiantarot.com/retreat).  Whether or not you plan to join us then, we look forward to having you on this call. 
 
Tuesday, July 12th, 5PM Pacific / 8PM Eastern
 
To join us on the call, call this number:
(206) 701-8388
Conference ID: 528955#
 
(Check for local dial-in numbers here, including Canada:
http://www.instantteleseminar.com/local/)
 
To Skype in (audio only), dial ”joinconference” from your Skype dial pad and enter the conference ID. Click here to watch video instructions on how to Skype in to a live call.
 
Or, to listen in online, click this link:
http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventID=20815986
 
Pass it on! Please invite your friends to join in!”

Blues, Jazz and the Tarot

I’ve finally done it. After humming and hawing, the Ontario government made the decision for me. The last installment of my HST rebate cheque gave me the push I needed to sign up for the Gaian Tarot Retreat in Ancaster this coming October.  I’m excited about meeting new Gaian Tarot fans as well as ‘workshoping’ with some of my favorite Tarot leaders: Joanna Powell Colbert, James Wells and Bev Haskins.  

For more information, check out the following link: http://www.gaiantarot.com/retreat/index.html

This weekend, Orangeville hosts the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival. Although I didn’t grow up as a fan of either genre, I have developed a soft spot for this festival. I always make it a point to check out several of the dozens of acts that find their way to my neck of the woods at this time of the year and am always impressed by the talent. This morning, before I head out to catch local Blues artist Heather Katz (with my son’s piano/organ/improve teacher playing the keys), and kindly ask the weather gods to bless us with sunshine, I thought about how the Tarot might represent blues and jazz.

I was drawn to two cards from my Gaian Tarot deck: the Elder of Air and the Six of Fire. This card combination seemed to stir passion for those who bend the rules and dance the beat of their own drummer (Six of Fire) but also highlight the level of mastery required to share one’s message with the rest of the world (Elder of Air). The combination of the these two genres links the passionate element of fire with the cerebral element of air. It is a musical genre that touches both the brain and the belly.  I would think musicians who can play both of these genres would have to be exceptionally skilled but also be able to play with abandon.  I compare this to the more reserved energy of a classical musician. (A genre I might represent using the Hierophant from the RWS: doctrine, discipline, rigorous learning).

As I head out a little later this morning, and as 10,000+ people descend on our little town and as I enjoy the musical menu of the day, I just might also look to see if I can find these characters 🙂 . Just food for thought this morning.

Death and the Child of Water

Last weekend, I decided to stray slightly from my usual practice of drawing a single card and drew two. I had no real intention or focus. I took three breaths. I kept my mind as blank as possible. And, in order of their appearance, I turned over the following two cards:

Death and the Child of Water from The Gaian Tarot. This two card combo left me somewhat perplexed. These two cards stayed, face up, on our home altar.

I have to say that, despite my knowledge of the Tarot, I was unnerved at having the Death card stare me in the face. I can’t think of the last time I drew ‘Death’. Clients often take a little breath inward when they see this card during a session.  I now have a better sense of why that might be.  I have always said that the Death card is amongst my personal faves.  Kelly might say that might be directly related to the propensity of Scorpio in my birth chart :).  But I believe it is because the Death card begs action. We can stare at the end of anything forever and come to the same realization; it’s over. But if we look at death closely, it allows us to grieve but then forces us to move.  The death of a relationship must  transition into a new phase of life. The death of a loved one must transition from one existence to the next – the first that included their earthly presence; the second that does not. The death of a season must transition into the next.   Death signals an end but it also signals a transition.

So, with ‘Death’ figured out :), I focused on card number two: the Child of Water.

You must realize one thing about me. Drawing a Tarot card is often a simple act; like drawing air. Although, at times, I often study the Tarot in depth, this simple act of drawing allows me a brief moment of groundedness. I draw, I examine, I pause and I reflect.  But these two cards intrigued me. It might have been the Tarot’s way of shaking me from my position of complacency and saying: “Hey, student, you still have lots to learn from me.” With the cards propped on the altar, each time I passed this sacred space, I thought briefly about this combination. Then, as Archimedes did as he stepped his foot into the bath, I found my ‘Eureka’ moment.

According to Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the Gaian Tarot, the children cards can refer to “the quality of being child-like and having a ‘beginner’s mind’.” What a way to explore this transition but with the wondrous eyes of a child! The Child of Water explores instinctually. Her imagination is newly developed. There are no limits to the possibilities this child sees before her.

The Child of Water stands ankle-deep on the shore and looks around. She points at a starfish. She watches a hermit crab. She’s not worried that one day, both will die, perhaps someday soon.  She might instead be amazed that the crab’s home is carried on its back or that the starfish has an odd yet beautifully symmetrical shape.  She is living in the moment and will cheerfully move on to the next one.

Imagine if we approached each transition, regardless of how difficult, with childish wonder. Instead of staying in the moment of grief, we would move into the marvelous moment that the unknown will bring. I imagine my upcoming ‘deaths’: the death of my vacation time; the purchase of our new home that signals the death of my transitory existence;  the soon-to-be arrival of the divorce certificate that signals the official ‘death’ of my previous marriage and the burial of my father’s remaining ashes and thus the final ‘death’ of his earthly remains. Tarot’s Death ‘permits’ the grieving that is the natural process for all of these losses. But the Child of Water reminds us that what comes after needs to be explored and enjoyed with wonder, innocence and awe. Imagine the difference if we looked at death from the perspective of the Child of Water.

There is a quote by Richard Bach, from his novel Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah that sums up the juxtaposition of these two cards beautifully,  “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.”

Take pleasure in the breaking cocoon.

Exploring the BIT method

Back in Time Tarot

BIT is a method of Tarot exploration outlined in Janet Boyer’s book “Back in Time Tarot”. When you use the BIT method, you explore your past through the Tarot. It is an excellent way to reflect on past events. It involves self-selecting Tarot cards and briefly considering  how they relate to past events. The selection can be based on a variety of elements: the meaning of the card, its number or value, a symbol contained on the card or the images contained in the chosen card.  The reflections need not be long or elaborate. This selection process can be a very powerful reflection tool.

I started my process chronologically. I also selected two cards for each event; the first often leading into the second. Most examples provided in Janet Boyer’s book use only one card. For this exercise, I used Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot.  I am in love with the images of this deck and cherish my limited edition. (I cringed a little as it was passed around at our housewarming party this weekend.) 🙂 In the past, I have drawn from many decks to complete a BIT exercise. Also, I have kept my reflections brief.  Feel free to use the BIT method any way you see fit. And please, use this forum to share you experience.

May-June in Sydney, Australia:  The Explorer of Water and the Three of Water – For me, the Explorer of Water is often “he-who-I-seek-to-be” but I selected this card for this exercise because of the literal meaning of ‘explorer’ and ‘water’. My trip involved a lot of visiting for two weeks on a large island continent in a major coastal city. The Three of Water symbolized the joyful sharing that went on as I spent time with my partner’s friends and extended family.

End of the school year and the preparation for 2010-2011: Eight of Earth and the Teacher – I finished the school year ready to embrace my role as both ‘master’ teacher and mentor. Several prominent staff moved on and will play different roles next school year and I was pleased to have played a role, however small, in their respective profession growth. I will devote time each week over the summer honing my skills in this area, something I haven’t done for quite some time.

The move and the purchase of our new home: The Five of Air and the Four of Air – Initially, the focus of ‘the move’ was, funny enough, the movement. It felt like everything was moving, often in multiple directions at once. The eagles in the Five of Air appear to be in ‘reckless’ movement. However, as symbolized in the Four of Air, keeping the goal of stability, safety and security in mind throughout the process was extremely helpful. After all, our purpose was not to buy a house but to create a home. This card from this deck was also prominent in a reading I received from Bev Haskins while at the Readers Studio in New York this past April. She pointed out the four robin eggs safely contained in their next and paralleled them to my own family of four.  

Ride to Conquer Cancer: Death and the Ace of Air – Taking part in a 200-kilometre (120 mile) bike ride was an incredible experience. The loss of my father and the toll that cancer takes in the lives of many remained front and centre all weekend.  The ride also gave me a sense of new beginning. I will complete this ride again and will expand my role in the future. Like the butterfly in the Ace of Air, I emerged from this experience transformed. I also met some amazing people during my journey.

Biopsy: The Five of Water and The Sun – It took everything I had (and was more draining than I expected it would be) to focus on what I held in my hand instead of focusing on the potentially bleak surroundings a negative result would bring. The Sun represents the inexplicable JOY of hearing the word “benign”.

 My children – Child of Fire and Explorer of Fire –  They are not the last BIP selection because they are least important (anyone who knows me personally knows how important my children are to me) but because, chronologically, spending time with my children is the most recent ‘issue’ upon which to reflect. Instead of focusing on the guilt of not having been able to be as available this week because of a busy work schedule (and they have headed off to their mother’s for a two-week holiday stint), I selected two cards that best represent my children’s potential. One child is discovering her creativity: writing diary entries, developing characters for her book and painting in her studio. She is not unlike the Child of Fire, who learns by doing. Like the Explorer of Fire, the other feels the heat of creativity and is often torn between taming his creative fire or unleashing it. Should he choose the latter; look out, World!

Intention setting: The final two cards I chose were the Ace of Water and the Star. I drew these two cards not as part of a BIT process but as part of willful intention setting. This process is particularly relevant during the time of the New Moon. For more information on this concept, see Kelly Surtees’ recent blog at http://kellysurteesastrology.wordpress.com.  The Ace of Water represents the flowing waters of new emotional realities. I’m looking at spending my next few quieter weeks re-connecting and re-kindling those relationships that are most meaningful.  The Star represents the hope and optimism brought about by this action.

Feel free to share your BIT experience here. Or, if you feel more astrologically inclined :), select a card or two and use your creativity to set your own willful intentions.