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.
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.
What about addressing the difficult topic over tea and biscuits? If tea’s not your drink, do a little online search for alternatives. Lots of cultures have versions of hot beverages to try. Try them! Go on a tea/coffee break adventure and create space for sharing.
I invited the very youthful Anna K Fool to take a moment, before leaping off that cliff face, to have a cup of my tiny tea. Despite being in a hurry to go wherever she was going she agreed to take a few moments to talk to me.
As we sipped tea, and ate some of the Christmas shortbread, I remarked that my daily life has come to feel like a rubber band, that despite wanting to start afresh, I slip back into old ways of doing and being.
“This is not how it has to be! Your spirit is every bit as young as mine” proffered the Fool.
I all but choked on my tea and spluttered as I considered this. The saying that we are only as young as we feel went through the replay screen in my brain and I conceded that she might just be a very old soul in a young body.
“What about I lay down a couple of cards” suggested the Fool. “I am sure there will be a message for you”.
We contemplated the cards together. I suggested that I might position myself at the top of the wheel and dance joyfully like the figure shown there.
“Rather than hanging on to an established pattern of thinking about the ending before you begin” said the Fool “what about you focus on climbing up from the hub? The project you have so publicly been talking about will not materialize overnight. It will quite literally take a significant amount of time to wrangle. It will be awhile before you can really celebrate.”
With that the Fool drained her cup, put her swag back over her shoulder and leapt into some new world leaving me to ponder whether, at my age, after having responded so often to the call, if I have the energy to do it again.
Consider what might happen if you:
For more than 25 years Noriko Morishita studied and practised the intricate ceremonies of the famous Way of Tea, attempting to learn its complexities and achieve a perfection of movement and mood that few can master. In The Wisdom of Tea Noriko describes her gradual discovery of freedom and insight within the very rules that once seemed so constricting. Looking back across her life, Noriko illuminates the real teachings of the Way of Tea: to live absolutely in the moment, to notice and delight in the smallest of details, to embrace the vital skills of patience and perseverance, and to allow yourself to be.
made tea and sat chatting with one of the Major Arcana
added tea to a meeting with a client,
poured a cup of tea and brought it to a disheartened friend,
set up a tea service for an imaginary friend on your back deck.
bought yourself a child’s tea service and made tea for the nature spirits in your garden
called in and had tea with an isolated elderly or disabled person and encouraged them to share stories about their life.
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?
Writing an autobiography enables the author to claim their rightful place in history. Moreover, the author can tell their story in their voice. As a result, autobiographers plant flags that no one can remove. Future generations can then take these flags as the roadmap to a brighter tomorrow.
Writing an autobiography is a process that requires the author to explore their emotions at various junctions of their life. However, the autobiographical process reviews the author’s life with the benefit of hindsight. Hence, the healing process can consequently emerge.
As a renowned writer and journalist Graham Greene put it, “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic, and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
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.
The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them—all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards; the knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the king was the white rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand and a scroll of parchment in the other. Alice in Wonderland
As the Moon rose, casting its light on the world of the Weasels Pond there was a sudden noise behind us. A small infantry, comprising of all sorts of wildlife, surrounded me, demanding to see my passport. When I couldn’t produce one I was unceremoniously marched off to the Royal Palace and chained up in a dank cell. I remembered Gulliver, who was imprisoned by the Lilliputians when he first reached the island because they were frightened by his massive size. I hoped things here could be quickly resolved. However, the Weasel, who was supposed to help me squeeze out of sticky situations, had been charged with being an accomplice, was no where to be seen.
Bereft I sobbed and wailed at the indignity of it all, at my stupidity. What fool encouraged me to clamber into this alien world? I could be tucked up in the safety of my home, but no, I had decided to join what was promoted as an adventure. Shivering and shaking in a dank prison is certainly not my idea of an adventure!
Suddenly the silence was broken by a gruff voice who literally yelled out demanding that I get a grip and shut the horrible wailing noise.
Startled I looked around to identify who was reprimanding me so harshly. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I spied a beast hanging upside down in a corner.
Now some folk would stain their underwear when finding themselves confined with a Hanged Beast, but not me! I was relieved to find I have a companion, even if that companion was decidedly gruff.
I thought of the Guided Tarot imagery that I sometimes listen to and I decided that I could interview this creature and glean some advice. A Hanged Beast was sure to have some timely suggestions for me about what kind of energy, what kind of action is needed to extricate myself from this prickly situation.
As the Hanged Beast took in my overtures he barely moved. He seemed completely at ease hanging upside down.
“Why don’t you use that new deck, the Archeo, to determine what kind of energy you actually have that you need to manifest” he dryly suggested.
I was confused! This deck was back at home in my work space there.
The Hanged Beast smiled a knowing smile. “This is a magical place. We can beam it up for you” And with that I found the Archeo sitting next to me.
I drew a card! It was none other than the Sage who reminded me to pause and quietly meditate upon my situation.
Over to You
Christopher Vogler has written in depth about the stages of the Hero’s Journey, which is what we have probably embarked on. Every traveler is invariably confronted with a number of challenges. Tarot decks take us on these archetypal journeys and have become invaluable tools for writers and artists alike. Then, of course there are some outstanding Archetype decks like Archeo by Nick Bantock and Archetype Cards by Carolyn Myss.
Choose a deck from your collection. Enter it and wander for awhile.
What challenge are you faced with?
Which Major or Archetype helps you shift your perspective and move forward?
When Victoria went into its fifth lockdown last week, classes that I had offered in a couple of Library settings were cancelled. This is disappointing for everyone and adds to the cocktail of negative noise that we have all been dealing with.
As Nitchke explains “the human brain has the capacity to imagine all the worst things that could happen. And the more uncertainty there is — especially if that uncertainty is coupled with gloomy hypotheticals — the more likely the brain is to conjure up and fixate on the worst-case scenarios.
I wish it were otherwise but we are going to be faced with uncertainty for quite some time! So I decided that one way of providing a tiny bit of certainty is to offer regular writing/art sessions in a Zoom setting.
Participants will have a regular meeting time and projects (lockdown friendly if the need arises) to occupy themselves before meeting again.
The cost is $15 per a one and a half hour session.
If you are interested in joining a group of a maximum of 5 participants, for a block of 6 weeks, on a Tuesday evening at 8 pm AET simply email heatherblakey at fastmail dot fm. Other times can be made available depending on interest.
Writing for Wellness
Pens, crayons, pencils and IV tubes may not seem to have much in common but the arts are increasingly touted as a form of healing that can be as relevant to a patients wellbeing as medication. A developing body of research shows that expressive writing helps calm the mind and emotions, and increases feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
In this course we will use guided writing activities as a gentle approach to personal wellbeing. You will be offered tools which you can take away and use in your daily writing and art practice.
The enjoyable and easy-to-do activities will help you:
reunite with your most creative self
dip into Mnemosynes Well of Memory using simple lists as stepping stones
apply guided imageries and visual imagery as a kick starter to daily writing
alter your perspective by communicating with fragments of nature
experience the catharsis that comes with writing letters to past and future selves
create detailed portraitures
explore a range of emotions
About Heather Blakey
Heather Blakey has had over thirty years experience as a secondary school teacher in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs and she has recently graduated as a Master of Social Work at Monash University.
Between 2000 and 2010 she built and managed the critically acclaimed Soul Food Cafe a site which was acknowledged by Writers Digest and authors such as Sark and Jean Houston. While she no longer runs this labyrinthine website Soul Food informs how she works and has influenced writing courses that she runs regularly.
Heather describes herself as a purveyor of stimuli and an artistic midwife. She has worked as a specialist teacher of writing with people of all ages and believes that the expressive arts, and writing in particular, not only promotes wellness in those who trust the process and engage but helps people identify and value their unique voice.
“Everyone has a story,” renowned anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff stated, and these stories “told to oneself and others can transform the world.” The name Story Aperture is inspired by Barbara Myerhoff, who described the way a personal story can provide an opening to understand not only one person’s life, but larger truths about the human experience.
Aperture stories are stories which come when we put the light on symbols to be found within Tarot, Oracle, Lenormand or Playing cards. When we focus like on what the symbol is telling us, we are find deeper meanings which enable us to adapt and adjust our narrative. When we work with an aperture we see well beyond overt meanings and tap into important healing structures.
When we work intuitively with Lenormand, Tarot and Oracle cards we hold micro art galleries in our hand and we have access to insights that have been drawn from the collective unconsious.
When we use a camera it is the depth of field that will determine:
where your viewer’s eye is drawn in a photograph, and
whether or not the photograph is telling a story.
If we keep the camera lens in mind as we examine the cards that have emerged more light is shone on particular features. Often it is the understructure which reveals an entirely fresh model for telling a story. When we work intensively with an image it can help us face a difficult situation or deal with and heal trauma.
I have found it inspirational to sit with another person, over a Devonshire tea (Coffee), to sling cards, work intuitively and to listen to the stories that rise up. In the process of working out what the understructure is telling us, at a particular moment in time, we are telling aperture stories.
“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