Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 American science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg that captured the imagination of the world at the time of its showing. It tells the story of Roy Neary, an everyday blue-collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO). Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind – witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky.
During this holiday period it is as good a time as any to watch an old favourite movie or to have a close encounter with someone less like an alien – a Tarot Archetype.
When I take the time to study the Fool I invariably think in terms of the Pied Piper who is constantly enticing me to throw it all in and follow him.
Indeed, many of my personal drawings and courses that I have run have been influenced by this character. As an artistic midwife I have had many encounters with him. It is the Piper who encourages me to lace up my Cyber Boots and head out on yet another creative journey of imagination. It is the Piper who lures me away from conventional thinking and encourages me to inhabit a world of childhood imagination.
In her book ‘Jung and Tarot’ An Archetypal Journey Sally Nicholls makes the point that studying specific cards help unlock hidden stores of creative imagination enabling sudden insights and ideas burst forth into the consciousness, seemingly from nowhere. I am determined to have some close encounters with prominent Tarot characters.
Given that these wispy characters can be as illusive as butterflies, who flit away without warning, I plan to step into their world and interview them. I am anticipating that this will take most of 2022 to complete but I am in no hurry as I really want to really get to know some of these characters.
I plan to adapt some of these spreads as I begin to communicate with each character. I will lay the card down and either draw more cards or see what spontaneously emerges using a stream of consciousness approach.
Some More Questions to Pose
One of the things I do love about the Show Me Cards is that I can use them to ask questions but here are some more that might be useful.
Tell me about yourself!
How are you helping me?
What should I know about any message that you bring?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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”.
So how can we use our Tarot or Oracle Cards to practice some Self Compassion?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
In 2018 I did a ‘Danse with the Macabre’ when I visited Sedlec Ossuary (aka Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus). It was one of the highlights of my week long stay in the Czech Republic.
“Known to most as “the Bone Church,” it displays some of the world’s more macabre art. In addition to a splendid bone chandelier composed of almost every bone in a human body, the ossuary displays two large bone chalices, four baroque bone candelabras, six enormous bone pyramids, two bone monstrances (a vessel used to display the Eucharistic host), a family crest in (you guessed it) bone, and skull candle holders. Festively looping chains of bone are hung throughout like crepe paper at a birthday party.”
In the Danse Macabre, or Dance of Death, skeletons escort living humans to their graves in a lively waltz. Kings, knights, and commoners alike join in, conveying that regardless of status, wealth, or accomplishments in life, death comes for everyone. At a time when outbreaks of the Black Death and seemingly endless battles between France and England in the Hundred Years’ War left thousands of people dead, macabre images like the Dance of Death were a way to confront the ever-present prospect of mortality.
Though a few earlier examples exist in literature, the first known visual Dance of Death comes from around 1424. It was a large fresco painted in the open arcade of the charnel house in Paris’s Cemetery of the Holy Innocents. Stretched across a long section of wall and visible from the open courtyard of the cemetery, the fresco depicted human figures (all male) accompanied by cavorting skeletons in a long procession. A verse inscribed on the wall below each of the living figures explained the person’s station in life, arranged in order of social status from pope and emperor to shepherd and farmer. Clothing and accessories, like the pope’s cross-shaped staff and robes, or the farmer’s hoe and simple tunic, also helped identify each person.
The Death card is one of the most feared and misunderstood cards. Spread by movies trying to sensationalize drama and abused by the occasional unscrupulous reader, the Death Card strikes fear into the heart of anyone who doesn’t understand it. The Death card frightens many people, for they think it means that they, or someone they love, is going to die — although when they hear it signals great change, they can become frightened of that, too, even if they need it.
Rather than fear the Death Card embrace it by taking a deck of cards and visiting a cemetery like the one I visited in my region.
I stopped at the headstone, erected for Pte Alfred Frederick and contemplated the impact of his death at just 20 years of age, the utter waste of war. All around me was evidence of change, which is actually what the Death Card is all about.
Over to you
Lay out some Death Cards and meditate on the message
Consider taking the opportunity to ‘Danse Macabre’ by visiting a cemetery with a deck of cards and doing this spread.
I think I am not the only one intrigued by the picturesque of early Tarot cards. What do they really represent? Who drew them? Who put all these icons together?
Then I saw Dario Fo, the great Italian comedian of Comedia dell Arte, play writer and Nobel Prize winner, acting on stage playing the hilarious figure of a barbarous Pope (I cannot recall who) and I thought that something of the medieval feasts, mysteries and banquets were radiating from the stage… from Origins of the Tarot Cards from Medieval Mystery Play
Whether you are an experienced Tarot reader or a beginner there is no doubt that lovers of cards love to play with their cards. This Advent Calendar is primarily about spending time with and playing as though you are playing with a good friend.
As early as the 14th century artists were painting the heroes of Miracle, Mystery and Morality plays on to cards. In his book, Mystical Origins of the Tarot, Paul Hudson explores the ancient roots that lie within these plays.
Typically, Morality plays, for example, tried to teach through a theatrical point of view. These plays were allegorical dramas that personified the moral values and abstract ideas to teach moral lessons. The plays were used to educate the masses on Christianity.
A unique dance production featuring the deck of 22 cards, in their traditional order, is just an example of how artists make use of the Tarot.
Here is a setting for a Medieval Style Play using a Magnetic Theater my daughter had as a child.
Imagine you are writing for a Medieval Theatre Troupe. What cards would you choose to use for a play set in a Royal Court or conversely for a Chaucer, Canterbury Tales style character like the Wife of Bath? Check the link to be reminded of the characters that peopled Chaucers work.
Bonding with your tarot deck is a great practice you can use, along with cleansing your cards, to attune to your new, or old, deck’s vibe for more powerful and accurate readings.Search online and you will find plenty of suggestions about how to connect with your deck. Here is just another fun suggestion.
One way to build up your connection with Tarot decks is to use the suits and court cards to tell spontaneous stories.
There are many advantages of using the storytelling process to connect with your Tarot cards.
You really get into the picture of the cards and observe the details of the imagery.
You can really internalize each and every aspect of the card’s pictures.
You can get creative and let your imagination run wild while writing the story.
its an opportunity to let imagination and Intuition mix really well together
Lay out a full suit from your Tarot deck and choose one of the Court Cards to take the role of primary protagonist.
Set a timer for twenty minutes and just write.
Here is an example of a tale, written in twenty minutes, using the Cosmic Tarot for inspiration.
After having been through a trying time, having emerged from a sustained period of loss and grief, Sonia, a young Princess in the House of Cups, visited a local Gypsy tarot reader. The Gypsy told Sonia that her cup was actually overflowing with potential and suggested that she might try to find delight in life by observing simple things. She told the Princess that this would sweeten her life and open her up to positive experiences.
Sonia took the Gypsies advice to heart and began to take more notice of her environment. In no time she began to see the world of the palace in a different light. She watched her mother, Queen Isobella working tirelessly in the Court gardens. Sonia decided that instead of sitting by her window, waiting for yet another, disappointing, entitled, narcissist prince to come, she would take her art supplies and slip into the Enchanted wood that she had loved as a child.
As the days passed her demeanor transformed and her parents and brother noted her flushed cheeks and the transformation that had taken place. Sonia suggested that it was all due to the fresh air and her passion for her artistic endeavours. What she did not reveal, over the formal evening dinners, was that while she was in the woods she had met a very handsome huntsman and that each day she was making sure to set up her easel where he would find her.
Dressed as a maiden, the huntsman was oblivious to her true identity. He began to court her, finding small gifts to give her each day. Gradually she filled her box of wonder with delightful fragments, stones, gum nuts, flowers, feathers and crystals. Each piece had a story to tell and the fairy folk of the woods unashamedly supported their affair and shielded their passionate love making from prying eyes.
Alas, one day, courtiers, at the behest of the King, followed her and witnessed her meeting and walking off with the huntsman. After Sonia had returned to the court, flushed after her encounter, the courtiers returned to the woods and revealed Sonia’s identity to the huntsman. They threatened him and made him understand that he best make himself scarce for he was not eligible to marry her.
The huntsman, knowing their lives were in danger disappeared and Sonia fell into despair when he failed to meet their rendezvous. In desperation she went back to the Gypsy, seeking more advice.
The Gypsy, upon seeing the empty cups in the spread, pointed instead to the ten of cups and reassured Sonia that happiness could still be hers.
Being a determined young woman Sonia sought help from the Fae folk and was taken to the Huntsman’s cottage deep within the woods. They talked for hours, imagining the life they could share if she was prepared to relinquish her royal life and live with him in this idyllic woodland setting.
He was shattered when she made it clear that this was not possible, that her family, the courtiers would literally hunt them down and kill him for his insolence.
It seemed that all was lost until her mother, with a group of her Ladies in Waiting appeared before them. The Queen recognized the huntsman as the youngest son of her brother, the King of the House of Swords. King Eric had sent the lad into the woods to learn about life, to learn to honour all living things and he had been gone so long he had quite forgotten who he was.
Needless to say, sensing that Sonia was already with child, Queen Isobella wholeheartedly blessed the union, even although they were cousins.
To celebrate their marriage Sonia commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of herself. Everyone was taken aback when they saw that she had posed naked in the woods, surrounded by Fae folk and overflowing cups to celebrate that her cup runneth over – at least for now.
All Tarot and Oracle Deck collectors will have at least a couple of decks that they have disconnected from. Yule is the time when many people reconnect with friends and family. If we think of a deck as a person who we have a relationship with it might just be time to reconnect. It may sound slightly crazy but you can take the time to hold the deck and explain why you’ve been out of touch. You might briefly describe what has been going on with you if you must explain your disappearance, but don’t put yourself down. No mea culpa about how bad or shameful you are. Just reconnect — don’t try and solve all the relationship issues of the past.
Engaging in the challenges that appear in the Instagram Community is a great way to reconnect, build a relationship with your deck and develop your tarot reading skills all at the same time. There are a vast number of challenges to choose from and most can be done at your own pace.
Two that have caught my eye this month are Deckember 21, which encourages participants to showcase their favourite Majors and Inner Landscape of the Dark which provides a way to mine your inner landscape.
Personally I love to work with Josephine Hardiman’s Challenges. She consistently posts thought provoking work which you commit to doing every second day. Her latest is the Goodbye to 2021, which is very appropriate for December.
Over to You
The Lions Gateway Tarot is a beautiful Indi deck which I ordered in 2020 before the cost of postage spiraled out of control. I was very excited to get it but it has languished as, like a Wattle Bird I have taken off the feed on what has appeared to be juicier nectar.
I am not in to making New Year resolutions but I am prepared to adopt a different view with the decks I have in my collection and commit to building a closer relationship with them.
Identify a deck you are prepared to reconnect with and spend some time completing a challenge with this one deck.