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Tarot and the MRI

Tarot and MRIs not related? I beg to differ.

On Friday, I had one. It was to further explore the recurrence of old shoulder injury. The doctor’s office and the hospital had given me a little overview of the process. When I arrived, I waited 90 minutes – they didn’t explain that part – and, upon registration, they informed that I would need to be injected with an X-Ray dye prior to the MRI. The fluid would be inserted directly into my shoulder joint, guided by an X-Ray and a 2 1/2 inch needle. They didn’t explain that part, either.  Understand that, although I am not claustrophobic, my greatest fear is being buried alive so I was already less-than-comfortable with the upcoming MRI experience. The X-Ray preparation did not help the situation.

I knew I’d need to remain still. That was explained ahead of time. No one mentioned just how still. My doctor knows that ‘idle’ is not a speed at which my engine typically runs. When the technician informed me that I’d need to remain perfectly still for 25 minutes, I smiled.  This could be a long afternoon. After the first few minutes, I could sense my muscles twitching. My need to take deep breaths increased. My shoulder began to throb. I became aware of my restricted mobility and wanted to do something about it.  “Stop moving, please!” is barely audible through the sound-blocking headphones she had placed on my head. Although I couldn’t feel myself move, I knew I was struggling and was strongly considering pressing the ‘panic button’ resting in my closed fist. Then I started to picture the four of Swords in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. The image came to me out of nowhere. It has been an image I’d conjure up if I was having a hard time relaxing but, as the length of time since my last post will attest, I haven’t made much time for the Tarot lately. I immediately entered the card in the same way I’d enter the home of a close but long-ignored friend. I looked around and took in my surroundings. I’ve been here before. My movement ceased almost instantly. A sense of calm came over me. Even the technician noticed and I heard a muffled “Thank you”. The rest of the procedure took place without difficulty.

I had forgotten the impact of those 78 little images I know so well. They have a place in even the most insignificant or unexpected situations; even after what seems like a significant amount of time away. On my way through Erin I stopped by Treehaven and bought the Llewellyn edition of the Gaian Tarot deck to complement my limited edition.

Welcome back, old friend. I’ve missed you.

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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!

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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.

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‘Demystifying the Tarot’ workshop in Erin

On Wednesday, May 25th, from 6:30 – 8:30, I will be leading a 2-hour workshop entitled ‘Demystifying the Tarot’ at Treehaven Natural Foods in downtown Erin. This introductory workshop will provide attendees with a brief overview of the ‘histories’ of the Tarot, its structure, its meanings and its uses.  Its intent is to shed a little light on this ‘mysterious’ little deck. The cost of the workshop is $15 which also includes light refreshments. The cost for the workshop is payable in advance at Treehaven or at the door. Space is limited so please R.S.V.P. at whitesagetarot@gmail.com,  by calling me at 519-217-7243 or by contacting Treehaven at 519-833-9006.

I will also be available for in-person Tarot consultations on Saturday, May 28th and Saturday, June 25th at Treehaven Natural Foods from 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.  To book your consultation in advance, please use the same contact information stated above.

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In Honour of Mothers’ Day

Queen of Cups

It was a recent episode of Modern Family that got me thinking.

Mitchell serves his partner Cameron breakfast in bed and all is well until Cameron realizes that it’s Mothers’ Day. This upset Cameron because he feels that Mitchell is casting him in the role of woman. (As an interesting aside, of all three couples portrayed on Modern Family, it may be the same-sex Mitchell and Cameron who most closely represent the ‘Rockwell-esque’  ideal of the distinctive roles of the two-parent family).

What it made me think about is what and who exactly are we honouring on Mothers’ Day? I suspect the first intent is that we all honour our mother. That’s a given, since we all have one. We may not know her, we may not live with her, we may not talk to her much, but she is the reason we are here. There’s no way around that one (and Happy Mothers’ Day to mine, BTW :)).

But, on this day, (and we might not even realize it) we also honour ‘Mother’. We recognize the importance of the nurturer, the care-giver, the empathetic listener, the cuddler, the keeper of the den, the compassionate one, to name but a few roles that ‘Mother’ would take on.

This week’s ‘Modern Family’ episode reminded me that there is an important distinction between the two.  The episode ended with the acknowledgement that just because Cameron was ‘slightly mommer’ than Mitchell, didn’t make him any less of a man. I know as a half-time single Dad (albeit with significant support from my fiancée), there are many times where I take on a ‘Mom’ role.  But I never feel as if I relinquish my masculinity.  In fact, I believe that by embracing different aspects of the role of mother, regardless of our gender,  we honour the archetype. Actually, a little while ago, while sharing praise for one another as part of a Circle activity, one of the most powerful compliments I ever received from a friend was the following: “Peter, I honour the fact that you don’t always have to act like a man to assert that you are one.”  As a male whose spiritual practice equally celebrates Feminine and Masculine divinity and the importance of those archetypes in all of us, I was touched by the words.

So, this morning, I turned to the Tarot and chose a couple of ‘mothers’ from the deck.  I selected the Queen of Cups from my RWS deck as representative of the role of mother . She is the penultimate listener. She is nurturing and emotionally receptive. I also selected the Empress from the same deck as representative of the Archetype of Mother. The Empress is fertility, compassion and, for fear of sounding a little Freudian :), sensuality.

The RWS Empress

Take a moment and reflect when and where you or others around you play ‘Mom’? Was it while listening to a friend in need? Perhaps you’re a teacher and needed to show compassion to a struggling student? Or maybe you know someone who happily nurses a sick animals back to health?  Find a Tarot deck and select a card that best exemplifies the role played in this situation. If you feel the need, honour us by sharing.

Wishing a Happy Mothers’ Day blessing to all.

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Where’s the Love: A Valentine’s Day-inspired look at the Tarot

Two of Cups - Rider Waite
Two of Cups - Rider Waite

Where’s the love?

Like all other emotions, love has its place in the Tarot. The Lovers, card of choice and, perhaps obviously, card of love, would be a great starting point for a search for love in the Tarot. It is the card where passion and reason come together, where difficult choices need to be made and where the very concept of synergy lives.  

The Two of Cups, representing a covenant or a coming together of two, is another obvious place to find love in the Tarot. Interestingly enough – well… at least interesting for me 🙂 – many couples have their songs and will be listening to them during a romantic moment on Valentine’s Day.  My partner and I have our card… it’s the Two of Cups and it will be on display on the 14th. (We have our songs as well but perhaps I’ll save that for another Valentine’s Day blog.)

The Cups are the resident suit of our feelings. Many cards in that suit at least hint at Cupid’s emotional realm. The Ace is the seed of love’s potential, the Three is the celebration of a love of company and companionship and the Ten is one’s recognition of the presence of emotional abundance and fulfillment.  Our Queen of Cups, who possesses the never-dormant ear, is an endless source of compassion, is the Tarot’s version of the Kindergarten teacher 🙂 and is another place to find love.

Our other Cup courts are no strangers to love. Our Page is the personification of the Ace and the representation of being in the early stages of love. Our Knight is in the business of love ‘em and leave ‘em. Upon reflection, that might not be how one would define love but don’t tell that to the knight. When he’s in love’em mode, he’d tell you that he’s clearly residing in the realm of Eros, as would the beneficiary of his attention. Our King is the master of love. He is blessed with the ability to both love fully and to keep his love in check as opposed to wearing it for all to see.

The Lovers is not the only place in the Major Arcana where we find love. The Empress represents, among other things, a mother’s unconditional love. As the home of the outwardly Feminine principle, hers is a passionate love.  A little further along the path of the Fool’s Journey, Strength shows us the resultant action of the Empress’ unconditional love.  Looking for one example of this strength-based love in action? Try crossing a lioness when she has her cubs nearby.  I would also argue that we can easily find love in two of the last three majors: The Sun, where our overwhelming optimism and joy includes a love for all things; and the World, where, as the card of completeness, contains all things, love included.

Like it or not, Valentine’s Day is a day where, at least commercially (oops, my bias is showing), we are reminded that love indeed makes the world go ‘round and is a many splendid thing. And I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface of the presence of love in the Tarot. Do tell… where’s the love for you in the Tarot?

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Finding a voice and clearing a block

It’s not that the desire to write hasn’t been there. I’ve sat down several times at my computer but no concrete idea has come to fruition. And time has seemed to be at a premium lately. I do have a list, divided by topic, of Tarot writing ideas thumb-tacked above my work space. I placed the list there to remind me of the major topics I’ve committed myself to writing about. It is also there to help spark new ideas. But ideas seem to be fleeting.

I was quite focused this morning. The house was quiet. I made myself a cup of coffee.  I clicked on the fireplace (clearly not as powerful as putting a log on and starting a fire but it’s all I have to work with). I sat on the floor of our pagan room for several moments and cleared my mind.  I went back to the familiar and grabbed my RWS deck, its images familiar to me for over 25 years.  The questions were struggling to form but two main ideas were clearly surfacing: the idea of a lost writer’s voice and the concept of writer’s block. So I went with the following:

Where should I focus my writing voice?

What first step should I take towards clearing my block?

And drew two cards.                                                             

The card related to the first question was The Moon (FYI: capitals for the card; lower case for the celestial body). Now those who know me ‘esoterically’ know I am drawn to the moon. Most rooms in our house have a sun/moon motif. I find the moon in the sky mysterious. I always take few moments to soak in a full moon. My children know anything with a moon on it is always a safe gift for Dad.  

I also find myself equally drawn to The Moon.  Of all the major cards in the deck, The Moon is the one I approach with equal parts apprehension and fascination. It’s symbolism seems a little more hidden to me than most. I like to explore it but, at times, am also frustrated by its secretive nature.

The second card was the Eight of Pentacles, reversed. It’s appearance brought the following conversation to mind:

 “Hi Dr. Tarot. I’m a little worried. I haven’t been able to post a blog for almost two months. I think I have writer’s block.  How do I clear it?”

“Hmmm. Let me see what we have here. Let me think for a moment… Indeed, Peter, you have writer’s block.”

“That was helpful. Thanks, doctor.”

“Don’t mention it.”

At first, the presence of the eight of pentacles reversed seem to only identify the problem as opposed to help work towards a solution. Further reflection (the Moon) brought further insight.

The diagnosis then:  🙂

RWS - XVIII The Moon
RWS - XVIII The Moon

Where should I focus my writing voice? The Moon.  A card of reflection and light. But not a primary light source. The Moon reflects insight and mystery back at us. It is the world’s largest mirror. It helps us as an alternate light source, when our main source of enlightenment is temporarily unavailable. It helps us reflect.  The Moon brought me back the original intent of my blog when I started it almost two years ago. A draft post entitled “The First Musing” never made it ‘to print’ but contains the following quote: “A Magician’s Musings is a place where the Tarot and everyday life come together. As my blog grows, you will find everything from reflections on cards to ‘musings’ on how and where the Tarot creeps in to our daily lives.”  And that’s where my voice should be. In the nooks, crannies and mysteries of everyday life where both the moonlight and the Tarot hide.

RWS - Eight of Pentacles reversed
RWS - Eight of Pentacles reversed

How do I go about clearing my block? Eight of Pentacles, reversed. Since this card reversed could symbolize an obstacle towards rewarding work, this is the card that helps affirm the nature of the problem. I need to recognize it. Name it. I have writer’s block.

I also need to recognize that, in my work with the Tarot, my writing is something I cherish. It is ‘fulfilling work’. The presence of this card reminds me that my block is something I created. And, as my daughter reminded me in a previous post, I can turn the card over and release the block. If I value the act of writing (and I do, I do!!!) then I must both make and take the time to do it. I have a laptop and a desktop at home and no less then than four portables means of recording my writing while mobile. I can find the time to do other less meaningful tasks. There are no excuses, even if I like making them.  Looks like our next meeting will be sooner rather than later ;).