Saving Sorrento – Literature Study

Literary Studies is the study of written works of the imagination, of which poetry, drama and narrative fiction constitute today the most familiar types or genres. Most students and teachers of literature, however, see it as a more complex matter. It might be more accurate to describe it as a set of methods for examining the richness and diversity of experience through unusual uses of language, through a language that we recognize as different from everyday language and that thereby aspires to produce a reflection of and on the world not available to us otherwise. As such, literary works are also primary documents for investigating national histories, world events, the individual psyche, race, class, gender, science, economics, religion, the natural world, leisure and the other arts. Because literary studies engages with countless other disciplines, it is among the most interdisciplinary of any field of study.

Saving Sorrento by Monika Roleff is available at Amazon.

Back in the day, when I was teaching Year 12 Literature and English I applied some interesting techniques to draw out responses but I cannot deny that it never occurred to me to use Tarot or any other cards for that matter. Yet it was the Head of English at Monash University who gave a lecture about the Tarot and their relevance.

Whatever! Time has passed and it has become clear that exploring the insights cards have to offer can prove very illuminating.

When I drew a card to see what the White Numen Deck thought about the idea of working with Saving Sorrento by Monika Roleff (available at Amazon) out popped the Ace of Wands.

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The Ace of Wands tarot card carries a similar message, representing a bold step toward a new beginning. The first card in the Suit of Wands, this Ace is full of energy, a creative kind, that breathes life into things that did not exist before.

According to Labyrinthos “Wands symbolize creativity, and the Ace of Wands is the boldest among the cards in the suit. It is not the kind of creativity that you learn from school or as a hobby. It is bravely finding your own voice, it creates a place where you can develop your own vision. In other words, it is associated with willpower, and creativity in the cosmic sense.

When you draw the Ace of Wands, it is an indicator that you should just go for it. Take the chance and pursue an idea that you have in mind. Take the first steps to start the creative project. The Ace of Wands calls out to you to follow your instincts. If you think that the project that you’ve been dreaming of is a good idea, and then just go ahead and do it.

Initial Character Study

One way to reflect upon characters is to do a spread like this. It enables us to put in an anchor and glean what forces are impacting on our primary protagonists. In this instance I used the Margarete Petersen Tarot.

The cards that appear for Isabella suggest that when she first meets the stranger on the beach she is threatened by his demeanor. On a conscious level she knows she needs to bring a halt to these unbecoming, fickle and shadowy thoughts. She has experienced fear before and understands she can leave such fears in the realm of the past. By contrast Alexander is unsettled by the appearance of this woman at his makeshift camp. He has good reason to be wary of seemingly attractive women. He is bereft and tries to hide it. However he has the gift of sensitivity and knows his feelings have been blurred by the events that bought him to this space. He senses that he will melt into what awaits him.

A Small Fool’s Guidance

Mouse symbolism is centered on the idea of having the ability to accomplish anything in life regardless of your size. It is a spirit present in many tales and myths and has various positive and negative meanings.

Wary of the Deviant Moon Fool, unsure about following such a renegade, I turned to the Northern Animal Tarot. I figured I might get the best guidance from an animal. I didn’t need to do a spread to decide whether to accept a date with this young fellow.

Mouse reminds me to go slow and to tend to the smaller details. Mouse spirit signifies a time when you need to take a closer look at your life and scrutinize the details that you may have missed. As a big picture person this advice seems very timely. I am guilty of overlooking detail.

I pull two more cards to guide me, to help me see what I may have overlooked as I embark on this project. I realize that the seed I have is going to need to be nurtured if it is to flourish and that while I have a rich bounty already there are many more cups to fill along the way.

But I am tired now. The negative noise that has permeated everything for the past two years feels overwhelming. It is ridiculous to imagine that anything really changes on the last day of a year, that everything will be transformed at the dawn of a New Year, but the prospect of more of this is relentless stress is daunting. Earth feels like a very crazy place to be at the moment and I wonder what is going on out there in the galaxy.

Mouse looks through his contacts in the deck and suggests that I really need to find the Knight of Swords.

When I come upon this fellow, striding forward, wielding his sword, his ferocious energy is daunting. I am just plain weary and my intellect feels blunted. I recall my High School Principal telling me that “worry is rust on the blade” and I am sure Marcus Aurelius would have some sage advice. Obviously I have always taken things way too seriously and this has blunted my sword.

I choose to simply watch as this energetic warrior struts his stuff, hoping for some of his enthusiasm to be infectious.

Dating the Deviant Moon Fool

The Deviant Moon Tarot has surreal, very unique, and sometimes disturbing moonlit artwork. It’s inspired by (and incorporates) images of cemeteries and mental asylums, and designed to illuminate deeper parts of the subconscious. The talented illustrator is also a tarot student, and the deck is the result of three years of artistic work.

Some find the Deviant Moon Fool menacing but as I watch him dancing I find myself recalling time spent in Venice, drawn to all the Venetian masks, mannequins and puppets.

In his richly illustrated book Patrick Valenza says that the Fool “begins his journey with a delirious dance. With maniacal laughter he heads out into the unknown still clothed in his sleepwear”.

There is certainly a dreamlike quality about this character and his bizarre appearance makes me hesitant to approach him.

However, I am mesmerized by his invitation to abandon all inhibitions, take the plunge and create my own unique path. Having said this, it feels like I have been taking leaps of faith ever since I walked away from my former life and reinvented myself in the town I moved to. It feels like I am getting a bit old to be letting go of more inhibitions.

Perhaps it is old age that makes me more cautious about the motives of this Fool.Rather than take the plunge on a whim, I pause to read what Valenza has to say about his Fool and decide to tackle a spread to help me determine how a date with this fellow might turn out.

The initial energy of the Seven of Swords confirms my suspicion that I may be taking an incredible risk to engage with this Fool, however briefly. The presence of swords pierced in the ground imply that this Harlequin performers act has not only, not been a raging success, but that the performer has risked life and limb in his endeavor to perform a unique act. Add the Death card and I cannot deny that I seriously question the advisability of hanging about for long.

The truth is I am not much of a risk taker. I have been known to crumple at almost any height and recall clinging like a leech to the wall of a lighthouse that my late husband insisted we climb. He never gave credence to my fear and thought it was something I should get over. However I let him climb the arduous steps at the Vatican and capture the view of Rome all by himself. While he was gone I sat in St Peter’s Square taking in the passing parade.

Applying Bibliomancy

Bibliomancy is one of many divination practices found around the world, and involves the use of books—typically sacred texts—as a method to foretell the future and find guidance. There are many different techniques of bibliomancy that can be used, and a practitioner’s own belief system often informs the way in which results are interpreted.

All the Tarot, Oracle and Lenormand readers I have come to know are constantly updating their knowledge. Inevitably, most folk who collect decks also collect reputable resources to further their knowledge. I know my shelves are literally full of resources about Tarot and the art of writing in particular.

In his book, A Healing Space, Matt Licata specifically says that his book is not one to be read from cover to cover in one sitting. He expresses the hope that a reader might take his book out into nature, sit on the earth and ask to be directed to a passage. What Licata is describing is the art of bibliomancy.

  • Bibliomancy is often used with sacred texts to divine the future, but can also be performed with fiction.
  • The tradition of bibliomancy is found in religious practices all over the world.
  • To practice bibliomancy, you can select any book that is important to you, and focus on finding an answer to your question.

Now this got me thinking! It is true! The Jury is back in! I am guilty, as charged, of being critical of myself for not reading all the pages of the countless books that I have gathered over my lifetime. But I am confident that I could establish a simple Bibliomancy practice using the Tarot books, and other resources that surround me.

To test drive the process I pulled Mindful Tarot by Lisa Frienkel Tishman. PhD off the shelf and called upon this book to show me something I needed to know about Tarot and my specific practice.

Remarkably the page that opened talked about the Hangman and how the earliest decks called this the Traitor, in reference to Judas! This may not be news to you, but it was news to me.

I sat quietly with the whole notion of the Judas archetype and the provocative argument presented by Jorges Luis Borges, that without Judas we would not have Christ saving us all.

I pulled out the Hangman from the Cosmic Tarot and drew in the image! I considered how once in awhile someone comes along who, by the way, is not thanked for turning everything upside down. I remembered a moment in time when I turned everything upside down.

Curious? Perhaps it is best that I keep that memory to myself for now.

Over to You

What reference beckons you? What do you learn? Will you try this again and again?

Bathe in the Light of the Moon

The moon is an integral part of our lives. Whether it is celebrating a festival or starting an auspicious task, or meditating, we consider the movements of the moon.

The moon is your old friend, when you understand it and know how to lean on it, it won’t let you down.

In this universe, every object has an impact on the other. The full moon as well as the new moon are thought to have an effect on the body and mind to some extent. But practicing pranayama, yoga and meditation can help counter these effects.

A Guided Meditation

Layout some Moon cards and spend time meditating on them. It may help to play this Guided Meditation or another imagery, like this, that you can find online.

A Full Moon Spread

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, 
   They danced by the light of the moon, 
             The moon, 
             The moon, 
They danced by the light of the moon

The energy of the moon has an undeniably powerful influence—on people, on plants and animals, and on the cycles and rhythms of the world. These tarot spread may help you manifest the changes you want for yourself and your community. Whatever! They will provide fodder for journal keeping.

Artistic Tarot Dates

The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the
imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.
Julia Cameron The Artists Way

If you are unfamiliar with Julia Cameron’s Artist Date idea then simply click the link to learn more about how she suggests that you court and romance your artistic spirit.

But when I introduce Artist Dates—“I want you to do something that intrigues or enchants you for an hour or two weekly. In other words, I want you to play”—arms cross defiantly. What good could “play” possibly do? We understand working on our creativity. We don’t realize that the phrase “the play of ideas” is actually a prescription: play, and you will get ideas.

Julia Cameron

The thing is that most folk who work with Tarot and Oracle decks KNOW that cards just love to go on adventures and feel the love, the companionship and friendship. Cards are hardy creatures who benefit from being out of their box, having a good time. Personally, I find that my decks are very responsive to coming out with me and my faithful canine companion.

I like to take them out for brunch and for outings in the bush. I love laying cards on stones, in bush fire pits, up close and personal with trees, in labyrinths, on old railway tracks, near abandoned houses and on grave sites in historic cemeteries. It is my experience that the cards love translating messages from seemingly inanimate objects and sentient beings.

From My Photo File of Artistic Dates

Over to You

If you are short of ideas about what to do or where to go the BlogSmith and Wherever the Wind Takes Me are full of bright ideas.

So why are you gawking at this screen????

Pack a picnic or a thermos of tea/coffee and your Creative Medicine bag.

Shoo now! Off you go!

Evaluating the First Date

When you get back you might stop and consider how it went and decide if you are compatible and will go on dating.

Kindfulness Warriors

To actively bring attention to being kind to oneself, as an act of self care and self awareness; a hybrid of kindness and mindfulness.
Bright Blue Day

Dalai Lama: “Kindness is my religion.”

My mother always said “kindness doesn’t cost you anything”.

“Often it is the simplest things that mean the most. Small gestures of love that remind us someone cares. A word, a smile, a gift. There is so much power in kindness, it is a true force.

The Six of Cups celebrates acts of kindness and generosity. It encourages us to bring more of this into our lives and to focus on what really matters. What use is wealth, nice clothes, a big home, if we can’t love each other or share what we have? Meditate on this simple lesson. Look for ways to live a kinder life, encourage others to do the same”. Little Red Tarot

Bright Blue Day outline the significant benefits of Kindfulness while Carrie Mellon writes about Infectious Kindness and the power of the Six of Cups. Kiki Dombrowski is another writer who reflects on generosity in tarot.

Rather than being strung onto a Christmas Tree and living in a box for eleven months of the year this Angel is committed to working with Kindfulness. She, and some of her kin, are going to be actively involved as we examine cards and begin to manifest a practice.

Pull out your favourite Six of Cups cards and consider simple, mindful actions, rooted in compassion that you can take that can change the world. To prepare you might take advantage of these Self Compassion Exercises.

Think about how you can become a Kindfulness Warrior and help change the vibration and energy through small, everyday actions.

Use this Manifestation spread to help set some goals. What steps does a deck suggest that you can take to become a Kindfulness Warrior?

Self Compassion Tarot

Most people don’t have any problem with seeing compassion as a thoroughly commendable quality. It seems to refer to an amalgam of unquestionably good qualities: kindness, mercy, tenderness, benevolence, understanding, empathy, sympathy, and fellow-feeling, along with an impulse to help other living creatures, human or animal, in distress.

But we seem less sure about self-compassion. For many, it carries the whiff of all those other bad “self” terms: self-pity, self-serving, self-indulgent, self-centered, just plain selfish. Even many generations removed from our culture’s Puritan origins, we still seem to believe that if we aren’t blaming and punishing ourselves for something, we risk moral complacency, runaway egotism, and the sin of false pride.
Read article by Kristen Neff

Kristen Neff breaks down some of the myths that prevent us from caring for ourselves in the compassionate way we often care for others.

Jen’s Science to Soul Tarot and Transformation initiated a seven day YouTube challenge this year. Having run a seven day Gratitude Challenge she invited participants to engage in another 7 day program.

You will find her initial video and the responses under the tag #SelfCompassionwithTarot.

I doff my hat to Jen because my years of experience working with creatives has demonstrated how shit we all are at being compassionate and supportive towards ourselves. The internet is awash with sad stories about the damage wreaked by the inner critic who sabotages any attempts to be compassionate.

Sites like Mindfulness Org provide free material and provide great support for those wandering down this path to learn what we could have been taught at school. On the page I have linked to Mindfulness Org they say that

“This practice is a way to help remind ourselves to apply the three core components of self-compassion—mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness— when difficulties arise in our lives. It also harnesses the power of soothing touch to help us feel safe and cared for. It’s important to find language that is effective for you personally—you don’t want to have an internal argument about whether the words make sense. For example, some people prefer the word struggle to the word suffering, or prefer the word support or protect to the word kindness. Try out a few different variations and then practice what works for you”.

Mindfulness Org

So how can we use our Tarot or Oracle Cards to practice some Self Compassion?

Option One

One way is to take the lead from Brian Cormack Carr, who created a spread based on the work of Kristin Neff. He presented this helpful Self-Compassion Tarot Spread on one of his videos. I found the link and this image on Tarot Whimsy who used Carnival at the End of the World for the first six cards, and Antique Anatomy Tarot: Ephemera Edition for the last two cards.

Option Two

Watch Jen’s video, choose a deck and pull one card each night, reflect on the card during the following day and keep a journal or Instagram record using both her hashtag and #yuleadventure2021

Other Ideas?

  • Pull a card! Share a bit of self loathing with the figure and dialogue as they respond to you over the subsequent hours. A scene I loved in the final episode of Season 3, Succession was when Kendell confesses and his siblings. Shiv and Roman, who have never shown a shred of kindness throughout the three series, actually show some authentic compassion. So even the Devil may have some reassuring words for you.
  • Christine Gaudet writes about the Twelve Tarot Cards the Teach Compassion. Spend some time meditating and dialoguing with some of these cards.
  • Test run this spread
  • Or try this spread that is in the Guide Book of the Gentle Creatures Wisdom Deck, a deck I have bought specifically to do self compassion work with.
Spread from Gentle Creatures Wisdom Deck by Arwen Lynch-Poe and Dan May

Hygge for Cartomancy Addicts

Winter and Yule is the most hygge time of year but Nordic Winters were not always so cheery.

Now it is candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, woven textiles, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts, and a warm fireplace. Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective, verb, or compound noun, like hyggebukser, otherwise known as that shlubby pair of pants you would never wear in public but secretly treasure. Hygge can be found in a bakery and in the dry heat of a sauna in winter, surrounded by your naked neighbors. It’s wholesome and nourishing, like porridge; Danish doctors recommend “tea and hygge” as a cure for the common cold. It’s possible to hygge alone, wrapped in a flannel blanket with a cup of tea, but the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Of course it is easy to get carried away with this Hygge thing. It is a bit like Catnip to those selling socks and all the other items associated with Hygge! Everyone has such brilliant suggestions about how to get into the mood. For example, Moody Moons offers some ideas about how to Hygge like a Witch.

The bottom line is that Hygge is all about self nurturing and it is no state secret that many of us are not so good at caring for ourselves.

The internet is, quite literally, awash with ideas about setting up the perfect, nurturing, safe space. However, if you are reading this I am confident that you know what to do.

This post is all about ‘the deck’ that is the one you will turn to when you need to self soothe.

So pull out the comfie socks, set yourself up by the fire place, toast some marshmallows and Chill It with your most soothing decks.

Try doing a Self Love Spread – there are tons of these to be found on Pinterest.

The deck I will turn to is a recent acquisition. It is Into the Lonely Woods by Lucy Cavendish and Dan May. But others that always offers comfort are The Arboridium and the Oracle Deck I created using images from fantasy magazines and second hand children’s books.

Over to You

What is your reliable self soothing deck, the deck you turn to when you need to be comforted or cheered up? Share photos of your deck and your Hygge space.

If you don’t have the right Hygge deck get out the craft supplies and spend quiet time making one for yourself

Anchoring an Archetype

2 : someone or something that provides strength and support He is the family’s anchor. anchor. verb. anchored; anchoring. Kids Definition of anchor (Entry 2 of 2)

anchor something to fix something firmly in position so that it cannot move Make sure the table is securely anchored. [transitive, usually passive] anchor somebody/something (in/to something) to firmly base something on something else Her novels are anchored in everyday experience.

a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay.

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist from the 20th century, was the first person to bring the application of archetypes into modern psychology. Jung noticed that people and life situations are marked by primary patterns reflected in symbols, images, and themes common to all cultures and all times. We see archetypes as recurring images in art, literature, myths, and dreams. Mother, Father, Home, Stranger, Betrayal, Anger, Love — these are all archetypes expressed in characters, stories, images, and symbols in all cultures and all times, and, these are all universal experiences in human life.

Identifying which archetypes are influential in our lives can thus lead us to self-discovery, self-awareness, growth, and self-actualization. Consciously choosing the right archetype for each chapter in our life story can create a more fulfilling, successful life, where we use our archetypes instead of being controlled by them.

Reasons to work with archetypes

  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Finding greater fulfillment and meaning in life
  • Improving personal, family, community, and workplace relationships
  • Expanding abilities, perspectives, and options
  • Helping people to escape habitual archetypal patterns that have become limiting ruts rather than empowering paths
  • Enabling people to be actively engaged in charting the course of their journeys

Aside from checking out the archetypes in the Tarot there are specific decks which help us work with these aspects of self. Two decks that come to mind are the Archeo by Nick Bantock and the Archetype Cards by Carolyn Myss. These are a fantastic resource for personal reflection or for working with characters if you are writing or making art.

Nick Bantock provides a number of spreads and ideas for working with Archetypes. Here is just one of those.

Another way to work with Archetypes is to ask a Show Me Deck what one needs to consider. My extension deck which includes Shadow Cards called on me to work with a ‘bad trait’. Now I don’t happen to believe any trait is completely bad and so it was no surprise when the ‘Eccentric’ emerged. It is not bad to be eccentric but it can alienate us from others.

So I decided to explore a simple Past, Present, Future spread using my most eccentric deck and low and behold its all there to show me how ingrained this archetype is.