Estragon Restores His Equilibrium

Finding inner peace in the modern world is a significant challenge.
Few things are more disconcerting than living a life you weren’t meant to live.

When I met up with Estragon he said he had been couch surfing with a friend at the beach and admitted that he had been partying, drinking rather heavily and did not seem to be able to get even the most basic planning done.

I didn’t need a crystal ball to know that he had lost confidence again and as a result of the dramatic change in life, was actually freaking out. I figured that if he was going to make a fist of the creative quest he had embarked on, we needed to spend some serious time working to adjust his perspective.

I suggested we try out the ‘finding inner peace spread’ I’d found online. Like so many men I have worked with he looked decidedly skeptical about what Tarot cards would have to say. I smiled sweetly and suggested that he “amuse me and that we might actually be surprised by what the cards revealed”. I refrained from saying that the cards rarely lie simply because I didn’t want to overplay my hand.

Decide for yourself and live the life you were meant to live.

As I laid down the cards Estragon’s whole demeanour changed. I realised that he had actually been concerned about what would emerge from the Gypsy Palace deck. I reassured him that these cards were not going to predict his future but they might help us dialogue and untangle his ‘block’, help him get over the ‘anxiety attack’ which was crippling him.

What will stop me worrying about the things I have no control over?

As we examined the Ten of Pentacles and examined Nora’s little rough guide I reminded Estragon that he had not left his life because he had failed. Quite the contrary! He had finished a significant project that had demanded lots of skills and that he should not only be feeling satisfied with his achievements, but confident that he has the skills to tackle something else. Estragon brightened and agreed that he really could take what he had learned to another level, and hat he could focus on what he had some control over.

What will help me relax?

As I looked at the charismatic Queen of Wands I refrained from suggesting that he had actually been relaxing quite a bit and decided that it would help if I reminded him that he was very creative, radiated a lot of energy and loved a challenge. I am not sure if he was smiling at what other delights the bare chested Queen had to offer. Whatever! He was certainly relaxing!

What will help me declutter my mind?

Some folk might not think that the Seven of Pentacles would help anyone declutter their mind but Estragon was very responsive to the imagery and agreed that he had been over thinking things and had cluttered his mind with too many options. He remembered how bad he had been feeling, the pressure he had been under and said that he really did not want to spend his life on a career that is impressive to others. He added that he had no interest in chasing after a fancy house and could decide what was really important to him. Couch surfing by night and surfing by day was helping him declutter his mind. He had enjoyed the companionship and he had felt good about exercising regularly.

Well I admit I was not totally surprised to hear that, like Vlad, what Estragon really needed was to fill the bank of energy again. I do know what it is like to be burned out and to be running on empty so I wasn’t about to criticise him or suggest that he might not want to be a beach bum at 60. Far better to let him have a break – a well earned sabbatical.

What will help me accept what is in the present moment? How can I practice patience?
What will help me practice mindfulness?

Accepting the present moment, being patient and practicing mindfulness no longer seemed to be an issue! We fell about laughing and agreed that a few nights sleeping on the sand, under the moon, listening to the waves crashing on the shore would do it for him. The very thought that it was okay to relax at the beach for awhile, knowing that there was a place waiting in the world for him to fill was all he had needed.

I left him, surf board in hand, running off to catch another wave.

 

Vlad’s Past, Present, Future

This is a 9 card spread. It consists of a 3 x 3 matrix. The cards are placed face down one by one, starting from the top-left and moving from top to down, left to right. Then they are revealed (I let the person whose story is being told do it) one by one. There are, once again, different methods to read the spread. In my reading, the top line represents the past: events, people or conditions that are somehow the pre-conditions for the situation we are investigating. The middle part represents the situation at hand, with the central card having a special significance as the present time or “the protagonist” of the story. Of course, this is in a metaphorical sense: a quality or an attitude that somehow characterizes the person. The lower line represents possible future scenarios or consequences.
from the 
Carmideroni Blog

As we sailed with the Ferry Woman to an unknown destination Vlad and I took the time to do a 9 card spread for her. I intend to do one for myself for, as I travel with the two Fools it is clear that I am on a new creative journey too. Our reading of this spread will eventually appear here. Meanwhile we are taking in the salt air and enjoying sailing in the moonlight.

Top Line: Past events, people and conditions

Vlad had no hesitation in relating to the top line of this spread. She recognised that she had been lured by the belief that if she joined the Corporate Law firm money would come her way. She understood that in doing so she had lost sight of the fact that real wealth that lay elsewhere, didn’t comprehend what the burden working in such a competitive, toxic environment would be like.  She had spent years being busy, having a lot going on all at once and she freely admitted to having burned both ends of the candle.

Middle Line: Current events, people and conditions

As we looked at the middle line both Vlad and I drew in a deep breath of relief. Vlad felt that the cards vindicated her decision and that the cards were seeing her in a fresh light. Her eyes lit up at the prospect of sharing good times with like minded people who were not going to compete with her or stab her in the back over some deal. We both agreed that if the Magician and Hierophant archetypes were coming forward she really is ready and willing to make it happen.

Bottom Line: Future events, people and conditions

As we meditated on the Queen of Rods and the King of Cups who steadfastly met our gaze I looked at Vlad and said that this really is her time to shine. She is a charismatic woman who is very passionate about coming up with creative ideas and we both began to chat about potentiality and possibilities.

Checking in with Vlad

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth
Robert Frost

When I first met Vlad and Estragon in a cafe ‘on the road most travelled’ they were preparing to head off on their creative journeys. Possibly because they realised that they had so little in common they took quite different paths.

When I found Vlad she was sitting journalling after having pulled out the Temperance Card. She explained to me that she intended to draw cards to help decide what kind of day she would have. I smiled and told her that this sounded like a great idea and that I would try doing that myself.

Vlad showed me her journal in which she had spent time stocktaking and setting priorities. She said that she desperately needed some balance after burning both ends of the candle in her corporate job and showed me the list she had made of all the people who had wronged her or made life particularly difficult.

Upon seeing this list I suggested that she call on her Ghosts, Goddesses or Guides for some guidance and she agreed. Like Estragon she also agreed that she would heed any message which emerged, even if she didn’t like it.

We pulled a card from my Goddess Oracle and as I laid it down the look on Vlad’s face spoke more than any words. This card had clearly hit a very raw nerve and I decided to just sit quietly as she took it in. Then I began to read the poem in the guide book to her

“My fingers were cut off then
I was kicked
I was hurt
I was wounded
I was lied to
I was betrayed
I was abandoned”

It was at this point that we both agreed we would sit down and make lists of all the ways we had been hurt and then create a fire and burn our lists. As we were writing our lists I was reminded of Clarissa Pinkola Estes concept of the Scar Clan. I recalled devoting a significant part of a journal, an assessment task for a loss and grief course, to documenting my scars. No one will be surprised to hear that before the journal was filled I got over my negative narrative and began identifying all the ways in which I had been supported.

Within Just 24 Hours

Any of us who have decided to embark on the Fool’s Journey know all too well that it never goes quite as smoothly as we imagine. Estragon was puffed up with confidence and I knew, in my waters, that this euphoria about leaving his life as an IT nerd might not last for long.

Just 24 hours after talking to him he had hit the wall and taken a knock. It seems that there are plenty of others with his IT skills and it is not going to be quite so easy to pick up casual work to support his dream of being an artisan. Clearly he is going to have to adapt his thinking and accept that he doesn’t actually know everything, that he has much to learn, that everyone is not going to welcome a stranger with open arms.

Given that I profess to be an artistic midwife, with years of experience handling creative blocks, I decided I needed to act. I quietly took a deck of cards out of my creative medicine bag and suggested that we draw a card and see if that card would shed some light on the situation, and hopefully, provide an encouraging message. Before shuffling we agreed that whatever card came out, we would accept that this was the message we needed to hear.

The Chariot is such a wonderful card and Estragon was happy that it had appeared. The Chariot  is the perfect card in a situation like this because, it reminds us that life is a journey and that as we journey through life, life invariably confronts us with a mixture of experiences – not all good. Everyone has to learn to manage their energy and how best to express their power. Vlad stiffened when I asked him to consider which of his powers needed to be balanced and where he would like the Chariot to take him.

After a few moments he put his head in his hands and acknowledged that he really didn’t know.

“Well now we have something to work with” I told him and, quite suddenly he brightened.

On the other hand Vlad, who has been spending quiet time recuperating after leaving her high flying, demanding job, has been infused with inspiration and has already met up with some likeminded folk who are actively encouraging her to realise her dream.

It will be interesting to see how this goes for her, especially given the environment she has come from.

Checking In With E and V

Estragon and Vlad haven’t gone anywhere yet so I thought I would check in to see what they are thinking at this stage. Estragon is extremely confident that he is making independent choices and is quite focused, intent on achieving his goal. Not surprisingly he is unable to give me any details about just what that goal is. So while he has given up on Godot he is clearly still waiting for some light to be switched on by some unknown force.

Vlad on the other hand has decided to rest and withdraw for awhile. She is determined to go but tells me that she is waiting for the right moment. She still needs to clear her thoughts. Given that she has burned both ends of the candle in her work as a Corporate Lawyer I cannot say I am surprised and I am encouraging her to take her own sweet time. “There are no creative journey police that I know of” I told her.

“Well that is comforting” she replied. “Will make a nice change after the scrutiny I was subjected to in my working world!”

All I said was that I ‘heard her’ and did understand.

Writing Portraiture

“The portrait is generally a form of description, and like all descriptions it is a particularly enjoyable device to reread. Anais Nin is the master of descriptive portrait in the diary. Nin made an effort to be fair and free of malice in her word-portraits of friends and acquaintances, though she was aware of weaknesses as well as talents of those she described. In writing portraits she tried to include as many details as possible about herself and the other person”.
Tristine Rainer The New Diary.

‘The Hand’ is a device I have repeatedly used in writing classes. I have people place their hand on their notebook and draw around their fingers. Then I suggest that they lay down some cards. The card for the thumb is the primary figure for this word-portrait. The other four fingers represent people and events that have impacted on this persons life.

  • Carefully look at the pictures. Make sure to take in as much detail as possible. It is important to look very closely. 
  • What are the different elements? Plants? Buildings? Flowers? Animals? What is the landscape? Are there people in the card? What is the person in the picture doing? What objects do you see? Why do you think they are there? What’s in the background? What’s in the foreground? How do all of these different elements come together into a coherent story?
  • Notice every small and large detail and make a note of it. Absorb the entire card into your mind.
  • Now set your timer for 20 minutes. And start writing remembering that you are not in a writing competition.

“Remember that a portrait done like this is never really finished. You can always recolour it, revise it, contradict it, add to it. The mobile,  evolving quality of the portrait makes it a useful tool in recognizing the psychological process of projection. Rather than just seeing the person on his or her terms you are likely to see a mirror reflection of yourself and gain insights about yourself. By writing portraits you begin to see if the face you are describing is your own”. Tristine Rainer The New Diary

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.

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.

 

Talking Tarot Part 2

This is the second part of a series where I follow the lead of Tracy @becoming_temperance who also makes videos about Tarot on YouTube. In this video she responds to a series of questions about her passion and since I am not into making videos I have decided to respond using WordPress, the internet medium I am most familiar with.

Show us your recent deck, Tarot, Oracle and Crystal.

Between December 2019 and February 2020 I went on a bit of a buying spree and bought a range of decks that I felt I simply had to have. I purchased the most recent, the Lions Gateway Tarot, by Jessica Henry, after seeing a walk through on Tracy’s Video Channel.

The most recent Oracle Deck that I acquired was the Sacred Sites Oracle. I confess that I have not worked with it much but it is a very interesting deck that will enable me to travel at a time when the pandemic is restricting all travel.

Since February I have stopped buying because I have enough decks for the moment and I need to take the time to work more closely with the ones that I have.

If you could share a tip with someone learning Tarot for the first time what would it be?

I am only interested in reading Tarot for myself and using it as an activator in the writing classes I run so I decided that I was not going to try to ‘learn’ Tarot or rely on standard interpretations.

When I stumbled upon The Art of Intuitive Tarot, a course that Gina Spriggs offers on Daily Om, I decided that this was a good place to being my journey. This course involved working with one deck and I used the Cosmic Tarot to complete the exercises she suggested.

Aside from this course it was venturing into the world of the Tarot Tuber Community that really spurred my interest. I found the deck and Tarot resource recommendations that these YouTube videos provided to be really fantastic. It is a great place to become familiar with what Tarot has to offer.

Above all I adhere to the notion of simply having fun and being playful with Tarot.

The first Tarot Tuber who I followed.

The first Tarot Tuber I followed was Simon Harrison. He describes himself as a professional Tarot Consultant based in Nottingham with over 30 years experience of reading the tarot.

He believes (through lived experience) that the tarot is a tool that can help provide us with insights and clarity to identify areas for improvement, find solutions to difficult decisions and arm us with additional information so that we are able to make more informed choices in various aspects of our lives.

There are a host of Tarot Tubers in the Tarot Tube Community. Another early favourite was Kasia at Tarot Map.

What was life before Tarot for you? Where did you come from?

I am an Australian who grew up in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. If you put Heather Blakey – Daily Writing into Google you will learn more than you need about my online history as a Web Publisher, artistic midwife and purveyor of creative stimuli. Working with Tarot feels like a natural extension of my work with creative stimuli.

I ran the Soul Food Cafe for over ten years but stopped working it after compounding losses silenced me and took a toll on my capacity to be creative. I walked away from my former life, moved to regional Victoria from Melbourne and reinvented myself. Soul Food is now well archived in the Way Back Machine.

Favourite go to spread

My favourite go to spread is one that I use when I meet for an appointment to write. It is based on three cards. The first card identifies the issue we want to explore, the second sheds light on what may not help and the third offers a way forward.

For myself I like a deck to offer one message for the day.

From the Cosmic Tarot.

Most anticipated deck of 2020

I eagerly anticipated the arrival of a number of decks and Tarot books early in 2020. One that I really looked forward to coming was the Sakki Sakki Tarot. I ordered it late in December and it seemed to take ages to come. I was thrilled when it, along with the companion book ‘Playing With Symbols’ arrived. This deck is now out of print. I regret not ordering the colouring book as well because I would photocopy some archetypes for participants in my classes.

What is on your Tarot Wishlist?

It is not surprising that Raecine (Owlmoon), a Tarot Community Tuber, has a huge following. She has an amazing collection of videos and her professionalism is outstanding. I trust her recommendations. She frequently makes reference to the Tarot of the Vampires and the dark imagery not only appeals but provides a contrast to decks I have in my collection.