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Playing with a (New) Full Deck

A few weeks ago, after a lot of handling, a little humming and hawing, I purchased my first new Tarot deck in YEARS!  The beneficiary of my decision (other than our local Orangeville shop ‘Healing Moon’)?  The Wildwood Tarot.

It is this earth-based, wheel-of-the-year focused deck that eventually pushed me and my bank card to the point of no return. Since then, I’ve set aside time almost every day to go through the cards one at a time. I’ve grouped them by minors, majors and courts.  I’ve laid the deck out in ‘wheel’ fashion, (as suggested by ‘The Little White Book’ that accompanies this deck and pictured below) with the help of Merlin, our cat! 🙂

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The art in the Wild Wood Tarot deck pictured above was created and copyrighted by http://www.willworthingtonart.co.uk – Merlin and the rug? Not so much.

I look to experience learning a new deck in different ways: visually, physically, intellectually and emotionally.  I shuffle the cards, ask a question, see what comes up. Sometimes, I go to the book, see what it says.  Other times, I want to connect them to previous knowledge of the other decks I use. I want to compare and contrast meanings and images. I want to feel the cards and look at them. I want to connect the deck’s  energy to my own. I want to ‘hear’ the cards as they speak to me.  By the end of the process, I want to know my deck. And I want to like it.

Eventually, I’ll do all of my ‘pagan-y’ deck prep. For me, that means I’ll cleanse the deck with a smudge. I’ll put it outside under a full moon.

But before I do any of that, I’ll play. A lot.

Which leads me to this question… How do you connect with a new deck?

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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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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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Preparing for the New Year with the Tarot… again

I always chuckle a little when I look at my blog stats and see that the post entitled “Preparing for the New Year” is amongst the most popular on my site. It is short on substance and strong on promotion! So, if it’s popularity is due to the amazing offer present, and readers are disappointed to see that it has expired, let me re-iterate that the two-hour ‘New Years’ Spread’ deal is again available and runs until January 31st, 2001. That’s a two-hour 20-card focus on 2011 for $CAD 75!  For more info, visit the ever-popular “Preparing for the New Year with the Tarot” and contact me at whitesagetarot@gmail.com to book your reading in person, via the phone or via Skype.

If you’re looking to work solo and you find working with 20 cards a little daunting , this four-card spread is an excellent way to begin planning your New Years’ resolutions. I call it the ZPD spread, for reasons that will soon become apparent. It’s simple and can be done several times, each time providing specific dialogue and insight into a particular area of new learning for the New Year.

Prepare yourself as you would for any work you do with the Tarot (or, if you’d prefer to work with someone, call or email and book a consultation session, and we can work on it together). Lay the cards from one to four so that the layout in your workspace copies the following structure:

Card Position #1           Card Position #3          Card  Position #4

Card  Position #2

Position #1 – Lesson learned from previous year 

Position #3 – New learning for the upcoming year

Position #4 – New lesson from new learning

Position #2 – Lesson left behind

 Position 1 highlights old learning. This card will help you focus on what you’ve learned in 2010 and are bringing with you into 2011. Position 2 highlights learning left behind. This could be a lesson not yet learned, a missed opportunity or a lesson that you are not yet prepared to begin. Position 3 highlights an area of new learning to watch for in the upcoming year. Position 4 highlights the potential new lesson you might derive from this new learning. Position 4 lends itself well to multiple cards, thus allowing us to explore several options for our new learning. It should also relate back to position 3, since the lesson and the learning are fundamentally linked.  If we are to review the previous year and prepare for the upcoming one, then we need to carefully examine lessons learned, lessons discarded and potential new learning and lessons. 

As a school principal as well as a Tarotist, I found myself thinking about how we learn, deconstructing and reconstructing new knowledge. I relate the use of this spread to Vygotsky’s ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ (a quick ‘Google search of the term or its acronym (ZPD) will provide you with many potential resources), giving me a name for this spread.

ZPD is an educational theory first introduced over seventy years ago  by Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist.  Lately, it has seen a resurgence as educators embrace the idea that learning is as much a social construct as it is an intellectual exercise.  To paraphrase Vygotsky’s theory, there is a zone of potential learning between our cognitive ‘starting point’ and the point at which we become independent problem solvers in a particular area.  We reach the upper limit of this zone when we receive assistance and guidance from a competent ‘other’.  Again we move to the point of independence with the new skill where we can grow even further with skilled assistance.  In this case, we can use the Tarot as both coach and guide and use the ZPD spread as tool and use our own zone of proximal development while we explore the coming lessons of the New Year.

I am also reminded that at times,  as adults, the ZPD is an area where we are uncomfortable. It is a zone where we don’t like to be because we have yet to assimilate the required knowledge and skill to be self-sufficient.  It is in this zone where the phrases ‘I can’t’ and ‘I won’t’ reside. It is a zone where we would rather be saved than left to fend for ourselves. It is a zone in which we require support. And, it is the zone in which new learning takes place.

New learning is awkward. It can put us ill at ease. The ZPD spread helps us shape the landscape that we must travel to go from new learning to new understanding. This journey is crucial to the alteration of old knowledge.  In the end, the new learning leaves us better prepared for what lies ahead. What better way to get ready for the New Year. Vygotsky states that this zone is best traveled with a guide or coach. In our case, the Tarot takes on that role.

Feel free to share your experiences with the ZPD spread. I’d love to hear how you’re doing in your own zone.

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Thanksgiving

This weekend, in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It seemed like the appropriate time to ask the following two questions:

For what can we give thanks? Elder of Air – Gaian Tarot

Elder of Air - Gaian Tarot
Elder of Air - Gaian Tarot

 

Interesting that Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the Gaian Tarot, uses the phrase “a grandfather’s prayer of thanksgiving” (I drew the card randomly, honest I did!) as one of the descriptors for this card. As it relates to the question, we can give thanks for the counsel and the wisdom of our elders.   There is a vast well of knowledge available to us that those who have come before us has left for us to use. We need to recognize it and hear it… truly hear it.  See the flute in the elder’s hands? Listen carefully and we can hear its familiar song.  For that we say, ‘Thank you.’

Where can we show our gratitude? Four of Air – Gaian Tarot.

Four of Air - Gaian Tarot
Four of Air - Gaian Tarot

Note the four eggs in the robin’s nest. They’re tucked in tightly, like we would a young baby. We can show our gratitude by taking the wisdom of our elders and making it ours. Tuck it in and make it safe. Only once we have truly embraced and embodied what those before us intrinsically knew, lived and share with us every day can we find the sacred security represented in the Four of Air.

Suggestion on moving the above into action:  Find a forest, go for a walk and marvel and the rich colours. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you have a beautiful palette of reds, oranges and yellows. Place your hand on a tree and feel the pulse of life moving through it. Know that the forest is alive and thriving and listen for the Voice of all those who came before. With both cards coming from the suit of Air (swords), I’m sure there’s something to hear!

For those of you in the Orangeville area, there are still two spots left in our Tarot Study group. It starts on October 13th at 7:00 in my space with the Fool and will walk through the entire deck over the next 10 months. Contact me at whitesagetarot@gmail.com or 1-519-217-7243 if you’re interested in joining us.

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A New Deck – Aquarian Tarot

Did I really need another Tarot deck?  Since I needed to head in to T.O. anyways, I figured a little drive to the Occult Shop on Vaughn was warranted. I found David Palladini’s Aquarian Tarot for under $20. The last time I found a little Tarot bargain, I was wandering the streets of Orangeville and came across an as-yet-unidentified version of the Rider-Waite at a garage sale for one dollar. I’m nothing if not a sucker for a deck deal.

David Palladini’s deck intrigued me not because of its influence on the Tarot community (Tarosophist International v.5 has a great interview with David Palladini) but because of his artistry on Stephen King’s The Eyes of the Dragon. I read this book when it first came out in 1987. I am a huge Stephen King fan. In my early 20s at the time, it was the first Stephen King book that I could remember that was illustrated. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that the artist and creator or the Aquarian Tarot and the illustrator of my Stephen King book were one and the same.

Although the images don’t ‘grab me’ in the same way the Gaian, RWS or the Gilded Tarot do or inspire me in the way the Osho Zen Tarot does, I am nonetheless thrilled to add one more deck to my growing collection.

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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.