Tarot Travelling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Landscapes of the Abyss

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

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

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

The world as we have known it changed overnight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gratitude Tarot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

 

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.

 

 

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?