Talking Tarot Part 1

I have a confession to make: before I started working with Liminal 11, I was pretty close-minded when it came to tarot cards! I grew up in southern Missouri – the buckle of the Bible Belt – which means my first impression of all things tarot came from a totally uninformed place. In fact, my experience with tarot was, up until a few months ago, limited solely to a fairly silly scene in the movie Now and Then (an old favourite of mine and nearly every ’90s girl I know).

Even as a much older person with a far more open mind, I wondered if tarot cards could ever appeal to my ‘rational’ side. It just never occurred to me that I could benefit from using tarot cards until I started really looking into it
by Sarah Wray

After watching Tracy’s video where she responded to a series of questions about her relationship with Tarot I decided to follow her lead and talk about my new relationship with Tarot.

How did you get into Tarot or Oracle?

Many years ago I participated in a Jungian course at Monash University and the Head of English talked about her experience with Tarot. I was sufficiently intrigued to buy some Tarot decks and a book by Rachel Pollack but I confess that all this material sat on a shelf, unused.

It was not until I was completing a placement as a part of my Masters of Social Work that I was reintroduced to the magic of cards by my supervisor. She introduced me to Carolyn Myss’s Archetype cards and a beautiful set of Patchwork Life Cards. I didn’t take me many moments to appreciate how I could apply these in writing classes. It quickly became apparent that cards acted as activators in these classes and led to some wonderful work.

Needless to say it wasn’t long before I remembered that I had a small collection of decks that I had picked up and I began to look more closely at what they had to offer.

In December 2019 I made the commitment to learn about the wisdom of Tarot and the alchemical effects of working with it. I found the Tarot Community on YouTube and here I am, claiming to be a Tarot Midwife who uses Tarot to assist people birth their creative ideas.

Are you drawn more to Tarot or Oracle and why?

Swap Cards

I am drawn to all kinds of cards and over the past twelve months I have invested quite a lot and added to my collection. It has all become quite addictive.

When I was binge watching YouTube videos during December and then as Australia burned during January, I came across Ouroboros. I was fascinated by the quality of all of Natalia’s videos, but when I watched her video about the psychology behind binge Tarot behaviour I identified that I was becoming a Tarot Junkie. I couldn’t deny that I was drawn to imagery of decks and that I found myself ‘needing’ to buy yet another deck that I had seen featured in a YouTube walk through.

I realised that these cards were feeding a malnourished inner aspect, helping to quench a thirst for a spiritual connection. They not only satisfied the inner child, who never did have the swap card collection other children in the small country town where I grew up had, but actually soothed me. They provided support as we seemed to face one crisis after another. They helped me adjust my perspective.

I enjoy pulling cards for myself and I have felt exhilarated when I made ‘appointments to write’ with people from my classes,  pulled cards and saw how these cards led to really stimulating dialogues. Sadly the pandemic has put an end to some of these meetings but hopefully we will get back to being able to meet for coffee and cards again soon.

If you could create your own deck what would it be?

My Queen of Wands

There are hundreds of decks on the market and I am not sure that there is a need for another one. However, having said that, back in the day when I (the Enchantress) led people through a portal into the imaginary world of Lemuria (each number has a hyperlink) I spent a lot of time drawing ‘my journey’. My pencils have lain idle for far too long.

I would like to get back to drawing. There is no doubt that I have the time to do this. However, the ‘noise’ that has been generated by the global pandemic has made it harder for me to concentrate. At the moment I am satisfied to be able to complete an activity like this.

If I can bestir myself I would love to create a deck for myself that captures the magic of the journeys led by the Enchantress.

Show us your first deck whether it is Tarot or Oracle!

As a fan of Greek Mythology and a votary of the Muses, it made sense that the original Mythic Tarot was the deck I was first drawn to. With all kinds of stories from Greek Mythology converging in both the Major and Minor cards, this deck provides a great head start into the subject.

 

Talking to the Stones

The Philosophers Stone consists of 40 square cards, each depicting a painting by artist De Es Schwertberger, along with a particular quality or condition. Schwertberger’s preferred subjects seem to consist entirely of stones with human faces, stone figures, and stones over plain backgrounds. The artist seems to have applied an enormous talent to an extremely narrow subject matter.

You can dig very deep with these images, it’s almost like looking into a persons’ soul. These cards are ideal for prompting ideas, especially when combined with another deck.

To get a feel for this 1970’s deck begin by watching this walk through by the Tarot Alchemist. Stop and pause the video and meditate upon some of the images.

Get out your journal and see where these cards lead you. Here are some starter activities.

Write a stream of consciousness piece based on how our need to belong, connect and complement one another is being compromised during this 2020 pandemic. Given the current crisis it might be a bit full on to read The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe but right now it does seem to resonate. Here are some exercises I have used after reading the opening of this story.

Card 28 Portrays Existence and when I viewed this image my thoughts turned to Sisyphus who was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity.

Your thoughts may go else where. Perhaps you might take the time to interview this figure and write the dialogue that emerges.

More Ideas

This stone, lying in an old goldfields park has witnessed enormous change in the world.

Take a walk sometime, watch for a stone that seems to grab your attention… pick it up, turn it over a few times and look for images on it’s surface. Allow those images to relay words to your mind. Those words will be the message from the stone – for you. This a simple form of stone divination, looking and listening within – to dive in – “divine” an answer to a question.

Quietly enter the world of Stonehenge. Stand in the centre of these famous stones – one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe – and dialogue with these ancient stones.

Remember that while the mysteriously arranged structure of Stonehenge is one of the world’s greatest wonders these odd stone arrangements can be found throughout the world in many shapes and sizes. Known as megaliths, these giant stones formed prehistoric structures in amazing (and perplexing!) feats of construction. The purpose of these sites may be shrouded in mystery, but their remains add character and ancient beauty to landscapes across the globe, from the cold mountains of Russia to the balmy Mediterranean. Take the time to visit 7 ancient megaliths.

Deck Interviews

The interview spread is a really neat way to introduce yourself to a new tarot deck and allow it to introduce itself to you. Essentially, it’s a conversation about your potential working relationship, where you can discuss the deck’s strengths and limits and discover the best way to approach and use these cards.

Interview with the Tarot of the Witches by the Tarot Midwife.

Back in December 2019, after having worked with Tarot in my writing classes, I resolved to learn about the wisdom of Tarot and to identify the alchemical impact of Tarot on creativity.

Since we have been locked indoors because of the Corona Virus there is no doubt that ‘the noise’ generated from the media reports has impacted on me and reduced my capacity to concentrate.

A break through came when I decided establish an Instagram account and spend time taking photos. Now I have decided to spend time interviewing some of the decks in my collection to identify which decks could provide support at this time.

There is an ample supply of deck interviews templates online. This one is provided by Katey Flowers.

Singing Over the Bones – Graveside Chats

You only have to watch Ricky Gervais’s dark comedy, ‘After Life’, to know that many people spend time at gravesites chatting to a beloved who has died. Many mothers have  gone to children’s graves seeking peace.  However gone are the days when families picnicked in the grounds of cemeteries  Now most historic cemeteries lie quietly with barely a visitor these days. I love to visit with my picnic basket and a deck of Tarot cards to have a graveside chat. There is much to learn from those who are resting in these  fading spaces.

Annie (8 years) and Henry Clifton (6 years) were burnt to death at Spring Gully in 1827. The Totem of Bowls, Dolphin, The Swimmers appeared from the Medicine Woman Tarot deck. The message from these children reminds me that I am not only here to console but to give to others the tools with which they can lift themselves up.

There is an unlikely drawcard between the old gold cities of Ballarat and Bendigo and yet it would be all too easy to pass by and not notice it. The Sandon Cemetery is a must visit for the slow travelling cemetery explorer.

Each year hundreds of Catholic pilgrims pause here on their 90 kilometre walk between the cathedrals at Ballarat and Bendigo to rest their weary soles and too sing. I have passed the parade on the Creswick to Newstead road and wondered what it was all about. It was only recently that a Sandon local told me about the pilgrimage and how the pilgrims sing at the gravesites. This gives a whole new meaning to the Clarissa Pinkola Estes story about singing over bones.

Sandon Cemetery is a special place for the cemetery explorer. This place shares one of the regions great landscapes. When you stand amongst the weather beaten headstones you can look through white-trunked eucalyptus trees towards the rising Sandon basalt ridge. No wonder a community of Swiss-Italian migrants chose this part of Central Victoria as home.

I have visited regularly but it was only on my recent visit that I decided that rather than sing to the bones (no self respecting bones would enjoy the rasping sound from my vocal chords) I would talk to the bones and ask them to share a message about their life and how I should live.

The result is that I have a whole new hobby and interest, revisiting historic cemeteries to have graveside chats.

Conversing With Tarot Cards

“The writer of any first person work must decide two obvious questions: what to put in and what to leave out.” — Annie Dillard

I found out about the Medicine Woman Tarot after watching a YouTube video by Cosmic Creeper

I have been a ‘gleaner’ online since 2000 and I have fond memories of early  blogs that quite literally shared things that could be found online. We tapped on one another’s doors and celebrated the brave new world we had discovered.

Over a ten year period I worked the Soul Food Cafe and created a vibrant communal space in the blogosphere where there was a free exchange of ideas. It has been said that I wove technology, community, and writing together long before blogging was a verb. At the time I was creating and managing this site  it was not all about turning a dollar and filling our pages with advertising. It was about more simple things like sharing ideas with a community of likeminded spirits, being inspired by others and having a readership for our work.

Life circumstances took me away from the world of Soul Food and online communities. When I finally emerged from the fog of compounding loss and grief I found a very different online landscape to the one I had been so familiar with. Having had my day as an ‘influencer’, long before that term came into everyday language, I am very happy to take a back seat now. I am not interested in writing the book everyone tells me I should write either. There are plenty of books out there about the craft of writing and I am not inclined to add to them either.

For now I am happy to forage, find treasure and share what I find.  Here are two recent finds in the  Tarot Community. They are about conversational Tarot Reading and having conversations with your Tarot Cards.

Fire of Transformation shares her Conversational Tarot Reading, a technique I also use when I am working with writers

Victor Pitisci has a video about how you can have conversations with your Tarot cards and bring out a personality to each of the cards not seen before.

 

 

Fiction Inspired by Tarot

For something so universally recognizable, most people know little about the tarot outside of its supposed ability, with the help of a skilled reader, to foretell the future. Tarot cards are very rich in symbolism and occult significance. With their mysterious illustrations and buried meanings so open to interpretation, it’s hardly surprising that a number of sci-fi and fantasy books have incorporated the Tarot into their world building. If anything, it’s surprising there aren’t more of them: staring into the Tarot is like staring into a ominous mirror-world.
Source: Barnes and Noble

A review of the Creative Tarot by Two Sides Tarot.

A cursory glance online reveals that figures in the literary world are recognising, what many of us know. Tarot can make a significant contribution to the craft of writing.

“The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life” by Jesse Crispin is a manual intended to show that the tarot deck, primarily regarded as belonging to the domain of the esoteric, can be useful for anyone engaged in creative pursuits.

Like Crispin, at the risk of being deemed a “weirdo mystic”, I am prepared to publicly come out of the spiritual closet and promote the benefits of turning to a deck of cards for inspiration for fiction and art. Aside from the fact that I have seen the benefit of using cards in writing classes, I am in esteemed company. Many respected writers have made use of the tarot: Yeats, Italo Calvino, Salvador Dali, and even Charles Williams, a novelist and theologian who belonged to the Inklings literary circle, have drawn on the cards for inspiration.

Given that many Tarot cards actually depicted imagery of Medieval Dramas that took place in Italy it is not surprising that the cards, which feature characters from those plays, offer a springboard for aspiring wordsmiths.  In a post entitled Tarot Fairy Stories I presented a case for using the Cosmic Tarot to help generate a fairy story set in a fantasy world. Needless to say there is a lot more that can be done.

When I found Tribu Arcane, a set of playing cards, in a second hand book shop I couldn’t help adding it to my collection. This deck features a different, traditional image on each card. 

In a writing session I laid out the suit of hearts and we spent time considering what story is being revealed. We discussed what ideas might be researched and to kick start discussion I suggested that we could write something about a vibrant dancing troupe who travel, presenting spontaneous performances under sprawling Marula Trees. It is always inspiring to hear other ideas that come forward from the group.

Pull out a deck and experiment! Feel free to share any ideas in the comment section!

Tarot Inspired Sketching


I am trying to motivate myself to get back to my drawing. For now I am just messing around enhancing using Photoshop.

This is the Fool with the Hierophant! Hardly a traditional interpretation but since when did I follow the party line? I particularly enjoyed having the Hierophant let his hair down and have fun with the Fool and his companion Raven.

Will You Follow The Lead?

When you trust the process and allow yourself to step outside the square your imagination is kick started and you can take off in amazingly diverse directions.

Maybe you do not have a young calf to read too but there are plenty of alternatives that will lead to rich journal entries.

Last year I took along a whole lot of children’s picture story books to my Writing for Wellness class and asked the participants to go outside and read a story to a tree and then write about how the tree responded. Perhaps surprisingly no one resisted.

Upon his relatively quick return I asked James if he had actually read ‘Harry the Dirty Dog’ to a tree. “Of course” he said. As we waited for others to return our conversation led to me asking him what he had done before retiring. ” I taught Professional Writing at a TAFE” he said without blinking an eye. Needless to say I fell about laughing and said he must have found this class to be a ‘bit different’.  He smiled his charming smile and told me that he had found it all quite challenging – then went on to write the most stunning piece in the allocated fifteen minutes.

In my capacity as the Tarot Midwife I have taken to revisiting historic cemeteries in my region to test run some ideas about communicating with inanimate objects for upcoming courses.

Recently, on one of my expeditions, I found the grave of David Jenkin Davies, who came to Australia from Glamorganshire South Wales and was accidentally killed at the Brunswick Mine in 1870. He was just 27 years old when he died. I kneeled by his grave, placed a white cockatoo feather on his grave and asked if he would communicate a message through my Tarot Deck. I shuffled the cards and The Devil emerged.

Obviously one could interpret this message in many ways. I did not take it to mean that he had gone to some kind of hell. There are many ways you can interpret the Devil card. Indeed, I took it to mean that he was dancing for joy that he had been given the opportunity to let me know that his death had all been out of his control; that he had mourned a life cut short due to the negligence of greedy gold seeking devils who had no regard for the well being of others, whose negligence led to his untimely death.

Will you follow the lead, test run an idea and share it with me in the comment box?

Sol Invictus God Tarot – Awakening the Divine Masculine

Sol Invictus: The God Tarot is a deck that seeks to explore the many faces of the Divine Masculine through the stories of Gods, heroes, and historical men throughout the ages. Both Majors and Minors are fully illustrated, conveying the meanings of the cards as well as the myths of each particular deity/figure. The Court Cards have been renamed Awakening (Page), Quester (Knight), Nurturer (Queen), and Master (King) to better fit the deck’s God-oriented theme. Created by Kim Huggens, Nic Phillips

How often have you seen the divine masculine discussed or revered (as opposed to the divine feminine)? Be honest: not much. Maybe a few people here and there have touched on the matter … but overall people aren’t paying that much attention to the topic. Source: Loner Wolf

When a friend commented that she felt I had a strong masculine energy I was intrigued. It is not something I have thought about much and my friend’s comment prompted me to set out to learn more about masculine aspects and how they manifest themselves within me.

I invested in Sol Invictus: The God Tarot after discovering the review by Jennifer Pearson (see above). The companion book for this deck is incredibly well researched and I was excited to find such a diverse representation of Gods.

Sol Invictus – The God Tarot provides a wonderful balance to the Mother Peace deck and companion book by Vicki Noble and also complements Barbara Walkers Tarot and thoroughly researched companion book.

Working with the Masculine – Meet the Emporer

In the Tarot the Emperor is one of the most distinctly masculine cards. Take the time to examine your relationship with the masculine by meeting and interviewing the Emperor or one of the other highly masculine archetypes, such as the Hierophant, that appear in the deck. One way to get started  is to complete this visualisation.

Another way is to study the picture of the Emperor in your deck for a few moments and jot down, without editing or censoring whatever you feel he might have to say in response to questions such as

What are you prepared to tell me about yourself. 

What are your strengths?  What are your limitations? 

Who do you seek counsel from? Who do you trust?

What are you here to help me learn? 

How could I effectively work with you?

Can we establish a partnership? Where is our partnership headed? 

Choose another Emperor from those depicted in the image above or from another deck that you have. Compare the responses of the Emperor you have interviewed with what you glean from another of his counterparts.  Maybe, after meditating on another depictions you might want to interview your first Emperor again.

Tarot To The Rescue?

The upaguru is anyone who teaches us something, which, when we are truly open to recognizing the good in all, is literally every one.

So upaguru can mean both assistant teacher, or a teacher who is next to you

 

This video involves communicating with the ant. In this instance the ant is an example of a small teacher. At the end we hear the plea! It is plaintive really! The narrator doesn’t want to turn to dust knowing nothing at all. If someone would please tell him, what is all this for? 

What! No answer! Perhaps we can get more sense from another Upaguru, one of my Tarot decks! Perhaps Tarot can come marching in on a Chariot, come to the rescue.

I like to help! Quick as a flash I whip out my gold edged, fancy Mary El Tarot deck and do a spot of riffle shuffling. If we want an answer this is the deck to turn to! This is heavy duty Tarot!

 So, as I shuffle I go all quiet and ask very politely, very seriously – “So what is it all for?”

And guess who emerges? You got it! None other than the Devil! 

I am not sure how much sense I am going to get out of this guy! He doesn’t get a very good wrap! This guy is all about illusions, bondage, addiction, opposition and personal demons.

But, perhaps something can be salvaged. The Devil might just come good and shed some light on how to overcome personal demons or even direct us to the costume joint he got that cool purple number from!!!!