Meet Anastasia Riversleigh

Anastasia Riversleigh is just one of my alter egos. She is a member of the Skull Clan who is currently working, primarily, with the Tarot of the Vampyres. Given that she is taking this opportunity to do important shadow work she will be leaning on numerous decks and other resources.

Visit her and you will find a detailed journal which records her newest adventure, in residence, living and playing with many interesting internal characters at Shadwell Manor.

Handling Tower Fallout

There can be no doubt that everyone on the planet is faced with a tower moment of monumental proportions. Some of us understand that, much as we may desire it, there is no going back.The reality is that we can only adapt and adjust. Caroline Myss is one of the people who understands that we  need to be built  to cope with change.

Watch her  emotional talk and then draw some cards to guide daily steps and provide some fresh direction. Feel free to share any inspiration in the comment section below.

Intentional Mindfulness With Tarot

We all yearn to have time for personal needs and creative dreams — after all, this is our life to make the most of. And we all know how hard it is to remember what really matters. With distractions from jobs, aging parents, and children — not to mention women’s perennial fear of being labeled “selfish” — following our own desires and dreams can become ever more elusive. The Life Organizer aims to help you shift your focus, augmenting traditional goal setting with the ease that comes from steady inner listening and mindfulness. It will become your trusted companion — and maybe the most important book you’ll ever own.

I  agree with Davy and Tracy that “Tarot is a fantastic tool to use for personal development and daily mindfulness practice. The imagery on most tarot decks are wonderful prompts for journaling and meditation.

Tarot helps to focus your mind, and engages your intuition and sub-conscious, aiding in your ability to facilitate connections and explore different ways of thinking about any aspect of your life or circumstances”.

Three weeks ago I pulled out this book by Jennifer Louden, that had been resting on my shelves for many years, and decided that, while there are many spreads and challenges that help us to adapt our thinking, I would apply Louden’s 52 weeks of Mindful Living and draw cards in response to the questions she puts forward each week.

For example the first week posed the following:

  1. What experience or feeling do you yearn for today?
  2. How might my shadow or time monsters block me from trusting myself or exploring the yearning I have named?
  3. What would help my body feel listened to and loved?
  4. How have I been talking to myself lately?

Initially I worked with the Mary El Tarot and these are just three of the cards I meditated upon in response to the questions posed for the first week. Then I worked with the material that emerged in my journal.

Personally I am not in to reinventing the wheel so do check out Davy and Tracy’s page about how they use Tarot for personal development and mindfulness. What I have found is that this can also be done in a group situation or with a partner. The dialogue that emerges is invariably very stimulating.

Tarot Travelling

“I don’t believe in things like that – fairies or brownies or magic or anything. It’s old-fashioned.’
‘Well, we must be jolly old-fashioned then,’ said Bessie. ‘Because we not only believe in the Faraway Tree and love our funny friends there, but we go to see them too – and we visit the lands at the top of the Tree as well!”
― Enid Blyton, The Folk of the Faraway Tree

Whenever the world is getting all a bit too much I seek out alternate realities. There is a Fey Guide waiting in this tree, ready to take me on another adventure. I have packed a suitcase, I have my tarot deck and I am ready to go.

I cannot say that I was a devotee of Alice in Wonderland. Instead it was Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree series that captured my imagination as a child growing up in the 1950’s.

The Faraway Tree is best described as a slow, gentle series of adventures that take place in a magical tree and the lands it connects to in the clouds. Originally published in 1939, the language is lyrical and playful — a slide is called a slippery slip — and young readers will probably dream about how the kids are left to play in the woods for an entire day by themselves.

I loved, still love these stories for their loveable characters, magical lands, silliness ( the Saucepan Man’s songs and forgetfulness had me giggling every time) and the exciting cliffhangers that kept me enthusiastically reading chapter after chapter. Not so long ago, during our blistering hot summer, I listened to audio book adaptions and fell in love with the series all over again. Silky and Moonface have not lost any of their appeal and I still adore the angry pixie.

Of course, some point to the pretty standard gender roles but it was 1939 and the fact that the roles are decidedly out of place in 2020 will not diminish the joy I feel when I read the books.

The truth is that the Magic Faraway Tree, combined with the influence of Archie Hair, an elderly prospector whose home in the bush was a place I loved visiting as a child, filled me with wonder and have each contributed to me having a rich inner life, an inner life that has sustained me through some very difficult periods. Perhaps not surprisingly, thanks to such influences, when I ran the Soul Food Cafe between 2000 and 2010 I took countless travellers through a portal into the fantasy world of Lemuria and preserved the journeys in annual advent calendar features.

Fast forward to 2020 and I now find myself in world put into hibernation by a new pandemic. It has been over seven weeks since we went into lockdown in Australia and there have been many reports indicating that social isolation and being ‘confined to barracks’ is having a detrimental impact on people’s mental wellbeing.

Thank goodness for my passion for Tarot. In this situation I have found it self soothing to pack my bag, slip through a portal and Travel Within A Tarot Deck.

Not surprisingly I chose the Path Through the Enchanted Forest, a magical deck which conjures some of the charm of the Faraway Tree. When I work with this deck I not only drift back in time but find that my imagination is fired. After shuffling my deck I found myself standing in a forest, alongside a gingerbread house and I was, quite frankly stunned by how the cards continued to fall.

Invariably others, inspired by this idea, have gone in different directions but the feedback I am getting suggests that, at a time when flights are cancelled and borders are closed, this is one kind of travel that can fire up our creative juices.

Will you join in? I am thinking of setting up a flight centre, a ‘Travel Agency’ where those who read about the travels of others will be inspired you to join in the fun. Considering there are no charges and all you have to do is pull out a much loved Tarot Deck, even Ryan or Tiger Air will not be able to beat this offer. And just think of the travel brochures we could conjure up! So much potential!

For starters, check out these two videos! Both Elaine and Kate make reference to their approach to travelling inside a deck. Plus @Anastasia-gyspysoul is working with two decks as she travels inside the Wheel of the Year Tarot.

Art Oracles as Provocateurs

A sheep with a drawer in its stomach, a chair that wears heels, these truly surreal works of art could only come from the mind of Salvador Dalí. Pioneering, avant-garde provocateur, Surrealist, as famous for his personality as his work, a true icon, his legacy remains unrivalled in the current century.

On the basis that there is not really an original idea and the reality that we all stand upon the shoulders of others, I regularly have participants shuffle and choose an art oracle card.

With everything closed my most recent class went online and we have been meeting using Zoom. I drew cards for each of the participants and asked them to spend some time contemplating what they could learn from their artist.

Heather was confronted with Dali and, in response to the idea that to be Dali would provide more than enough inspiration, she spent some time considering how he would react to Covid 19 and being locked down.

She decided that, given that he pursued his interest in the 4th dimension and immortality, she imagined that Covid 19 might have tested his convictions.  She wondered if he would have laughed the virus off and continued with his life or if he might have questioned his ideas and, along with the rest of the world, isolated himself and painted with new energy.

Finally she decided that he liked life too much to test his ideas about immortality and that Covid 19 would have been an exciting stimulus for him to paint in his Surrealist style.

He would very likely have emerged again, as the painter who in the 1920s, excited the art world with his works.

Inspired to walk briefly in Dali’s shoes she had fun playing and produced this delightful piece of art.

by Heather M

How Artists Are Responding to the Covid 19 2020

Corona Virus Street Art
How Artists Are Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis

Landscapes of the Abyss

Back in December 2019 I ordered the Mary El Tarot. Needless to say, at that time, I could not have known that by March 2020 the title of the companion book, ‘The Landscape of the Abyss’, would describe the landscape we now would find ourselves living within.

By New Year’s Day Australia was, quite literally burning. Iconic images of Sydney shrouded in smoke and of people huddled by the water on South Coast beaches were being circulated worldwide. Millions of native animals perished as the fires rage uncontrollably and towns were razed. But then there was more!

Wuhan had been locked down because of a new Corona virus epidemic and within no time this stealthy virus, reached our shores, threatening to cripple health services and rain death and destruction upon us all.

The world as we have known it changed overnight.

My new Mary El Tarot has lain unused for months. From the moment the deck and book arrived, back in December 2019, I knew that it was very special, but perhaps because of the quality of the cards and the gold edging, I unconsciously decided that, like ‘good china’ it was a deck to bring out for special occasions. Of course, I cannot deny that, as a relative newcomer to the world of Tarot, I felt decidedly intimidated by the striking imagery.

Then something shifted! I had begun working with the concept of ‘Gratitarot’ and engaging in a ‘spreading positive energy’ challenge I found on Instagram. The questions posed in the challenge made me start to think about which decks really spoke to me and I realised that I have been skimming the decks I had binge bought.

Members of the Tarot Community talk about interviewing decks, ‘working with them’ for a month, popping them under their pillow and generally bonding. I couldn’t honestly say I had done this, although I did spend some time getting to know the Cosmic Tarot.

But then a few days ago…. Mary El seemed to call me, insisted I pull her out of the old iPad cover I had used to safely store both her and her companion book in. As I pulled out the deck and book out, perhaps the first time, I really took in the title of the companion book. I was thunderstruck! I realised that this was a deck that was exploring the landscape of an abyss and that it might be able to shed light on how to cope in the abyss, the landscape we are now facing.

I sat quietly! I reminded myself that an abyss is a deep, immeasurable space, a gulf or cavity, a vast chasm. Yes! We are all facing an abyss! We are actually living in a landscape of the abyss, a primal chaos before fresh creation.

I held the deck to my heart and asked her how she would guide me at this time, help me as I navigate this new world.

I all but cried when the card that emerged was the Strength card. It is a stunningly beautiful card. A woman is “crafting her own soul, the lion, into gold. She is using her hands to create her destiny”. Mary White explains that “Strength is found in doing the work of ones soul. Of wielding the great power of one’s soul. Of doing what is right, and what is right is knowledge that can only come from oneself… Knowing what is right comes from knowing one’s own should and trusting in the greatness of it”.

Clearly Mary El is letting me know that she is here to remind me of my strength, is willing to help me stay strong, craft my destiny, help fill the void that has appeared  and support my soul work.

Who will step forward to support my soul work at this time?

The Prophets accept all agony and trust it for the water has never feared fire
Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

The imagery of the Hanged Man mounted on his gallows is extraordinary. Like all myths dealing with life, death and rebirth there has been an element of predestination in this current situation. We have known that another pandemic could sweep through the world. It has been foretold by many.

Upon drawing this card, I am reminded that in winter animals and vegetation sleep, growth, sex and movement stops. It is only the dawn of Spring which brings back life and movement. The Hanged Man actually reassures me that the sleep or statis –  the slumber of Sleeping Beauty will eventually end.

The Hanged Man has come to support my soul work by reminding me to use this time to go within, to quietly prepare for the renewal that will come when ‘spring’ returns and movement begins again.

While I am working within, what would I be well to keep in mind? 

The carefully made shoes on this baby remind me that I arrived with all the skills required to meet my destiny.  Clearly it is important that during this period I stay grounded.  I can strap on some metaphorical sandals that have wings attached to them and move forward confidently.

I need to keep spreading positivity at this stage! Can you provide three cards that I can use to send a positive message?

The Queen of Cups is the holy grail, the container of all our wisdom, accumulated over centuries, passed down by our ancestors. These may seem like dark times but down in the deepest, darkest places remains the pearl which represents hope.

The 4 of Cups reminds us to be patient and to keep working on the problem at hand. We may feel weary! That is normal! However we need to hang in there. Things will gradually improve if we are patient.

The 7 of Wands reminds us to always remain master of our higher selves.

 

Gratitude Tarot

Katey Flowers says that Gratitarot is a sweet and simple little exercise which she learnt from Carrie Mallon several years ago. In this video she talks about how she found herself returning to it lately to help her emotionally cope in these tricky times.

There are many tips for keeping gratitude journals online. An article by Jason Marsh points out that over recent decades, psychologists have not only identified the great social, psychological and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks; they’ve zeroed in on some concrete practices that help us reap those benefits.

Marsh points out that perhaps the most popular practice is to keep a “gratitude journal.” He says that many studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.

Today I drew the 3 of Stones from the Wildwood Tarot. I am grateful to my parents, who did not always enjoy every advantage but made sure we had the opportunities they never had.

I cannot deny that I have found it challenging to maintain gratitude journals, mainly because it can be challenging to sit and think about what I am grateful for. Given that I have always told participants in my writing classes that it is not particularly helpful to think when facing a blank page, this is not surprising.

My ancestors came to Australia during colonisation but for some reason Native American culture has always resonated for me. Today I give thanks for their rich culture and the sharing that takes place in the Tarot Community.

So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon the concept of #gratitarot while trawling videos in the Tarot Tubers Community.

I am now drawing a card each day, allowing the imagery to trigger something I am grateful for and then taking a photo and posting on Instagram @tarotmidwife

I must say that I am finding that this ritual practice has proven to be comforting.

Try it! An alternative to a Tarot deck is any glossy magazine or coffee table book. Try some Bibliomancy by randomly opening a page and using an image to trigger a gratitude journal entry. If you apply a stream of consciousness technique you may find yourself writing quite a bit.

I am grateful for all the resources I have collected over a forty-five year period that support my belief that  participants in my writing classes need to be real. I always reassure them that cannot really make any ‘misteaks’.

Another option is to dig into ‘A Life of One’s Own’ and follow Marion Milner’s lead.

In 1926, more than a decade before a team of Harvard psychologists commenced history’s longest and most revelatory study of human happiness and half a century before the humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm penned his classic on the art of living, the British psychoanalyst and writer Marion Milner (February 1, 1900–May 29, 1998) undertook a seven-year experiment in living, aimed at unpeeling the existential rind of all we chronically mistake for fulfillment — prestige, pleasure, popularity — to reveal the succulent, pulsating core of what makes for genuine happiness. Along her journey of “doubts, delays, and expeditions on false trails,” which she chronicled in a diary with a field scientist’s rigor of observation, Milner ultimately discovered that we are beings profoundly different from what we imagine ourselves to be — that the things we pursue most frantically are the least likely to give us lasting joy and contentment, but there are other, truer things that we can train ourselves to attend to in the elusive pursuit of happiness. (Source: Brain Pickings)

Of course you may also feel inclined to dip into the craft box, make Gratitude Postcards and either send them to people or randomly leave them in neighbourhood letter boxes.