“In ancient times, Winter Solstice festivals were the last celebrations held before the deep, hard winter began. There was plenty of food and wine, for now, – and hopes that all would survive the coming famine months until spring arrived again.”
On May 1 it is Sahmain in the Southern Hemisphere. It is not Winter Solstice but ‘Winter is Coming’. As the days shorten our thoughts turn to life and death, to the past and the future, to what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained and what we are yet to do with our one wild and beautiful life. It felt like the right time to spend a few moments in quiet reflection in a cemetery.
Take the time to pick up the energy of the Cemetery you choose to visit. Find the grave that calls to you. Shuffle and lay out some cards and then spend quiet reflective time journaling.
Lady Astral Tarot provides two outstanding videos in which she demonstrates how you can make your own Tarot Spreads by using individual cards from RWS and RWS Clones to help frame questions.
To test run this concept I pulled a card from the Tarot of Curious Creatures by Chris Anne. This six of swords is quite unique. By contrast the image in the RWS Six of Swords shows a woman and a child in a boat being rowed in the water to a land that is on the other side. We can gather from the images that the woman and the child are leaving something behind, as their backs are faced towards us. The woman’s head is covered with a cloak – perhaps she is fleeing something, and must go without others knowing her true identity.
Here the Hare sits on what appears to be luggage, waiting to leave. As she waits a tortoise approaches.
Using Anna’s approach I take the time to take in all the details in this image but my focus is on the approaching tortoise and the story of the Tortoise and the Hare comes to mind. The moral lesson of this story is that you can be more successful by doing things slowly and steadily than by acting quickly and carelessly.
Seeing the Tortoise approaching makes me wonder if the Hare has thrown in the towel too quickly. I also wonder about what assistance may come from an unexpected quarter and I frame a question around this.
From what unexpected quarter may I get support?
I shuffle and draw another card. It is the Four of Pentacles depicting a Pig protectively keeping her gold to herself. Initially it is not clear how this provides any support.
However, in a general context, the message from the Four of Pentacles Tarot card could help the Hare by demanding she consider if she is are holding too tightly on to people, possessions, situations or past issues.
The Four of Pentacles tarot card may also be an indication that there are deep seated issues affecting the Hare that she needs to process and let go of. Perhaps the Hare has only been valuing things for their material worth, is trying to hard to control her life or is holding back. It is possible that she has become too greedy and needs to be reminded that money works best when it can flow and exchange, not when it is being stashed away in her luggage.
Certainly, as the Hare sits on her luggage waiting to leave, she is given things to think about.
Literary Studies is the study of written works of the imagination, of which poetry, drama and narrative fiction constitute today the most familiar types or genres. Most students and teachers of literature, however, see it as a more complex matter. It might be more accurate to describe it as a set of methods for examining the richness and diversity of experience through unusual uses of language, through a language that we recognize as different from everyday language and that thereby aspires to produce a reflection of and on the world not available to us otherwise. As such, literary works are also primary documents for investigating national histories, world events, the individual psyche, race, class, gender, science, economics, religion, the natural world, leisure and the other arts. Because literary studies engages with countless other disciplines, it is among the most interdisciplinary of any field of study.
Back in the day, when I was teaching Year 12 Literature and English I applied some interesting techniques to draw out responses but I cannot deny that it never occurred to me to use Tarot or any other cards for that matter. Yet it was the Head of English at Monash University who gave a lecture about the Tarot and their relevance.
Whatever! Time has passed and it has become clear that exploring the insights cards have to offer can prove very illuminating.
When I drew a card to see what the White Numen Deck thought about the idea of working with Saving Sorrento by Monika Roleff (available at Amazon) out popped the Ace of Wands.
They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The Ace of Wands tarot card carries a similar message, representing a bold step toward a new beginning. The first card in the Suit of Wands, this Ace is full of energy, a creative kind, that breathes life into things that did not exist before.
According to Labyrinthos “Wands symbolize creativity, and the Ace of Wands is the boldest among the cards in the suit. It is not the kind of creativity that you learn from school or as a hobby. It is bravely finding your own voice, it creates a place where you can develop your own vision. In other words, it is associated with willpower, and creativity in the cosmic sense.
When you draw the Ace of Wands, it is an indicator that you should just go for it. Take the chance and pursue an idea that you have in mind. Take the first steps to start the creative project. The Ace of Wands calls out to you to follow your instincts. If you think that the project that you’ve been dreaming of is a good idea, and then just go ahead and do it.
Initial Character Study
One way to reflect upon characters is to do a spread like this. It enables us to put in an anchor and glean what forces are impacting on our primary protagonists. In this instance I used the Margarete Petersen Tarot.
The cards that appear for Isabella suggest that when she first meets the stranger on the beach she is threatened by his demeanor. On a conscious level she knows she needs to bring a halt to these unbecoming, fickle and shadowy thoughts. She has experienced fear before and understands she can leave such fears in the realm of the past. By contrast Alexander is unsettled by the appearance of this woman at his makeshift camp. He has good reason to be wary of seemingly attractive women. He is bereft and tries to hide it. However he has the gift of sensitivity and knows his feelings have been blurred by the events that bought him to this space. He senses that he will melt into what awaits him.
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 moon is an integral part of our lives. Whether it is celebrating a festival or starting an auspicious task, or meditating, we consider the movements of the moon.
The moon is your old friend, when you understand it and know how to lean on it, it won’t let you down.
In this universe, every object has an impact on the other. The full moon as well as the new moon are thought to have an effect on the body and mind to some extent. But practicing pranayama, yoga and meditation can help counter these effects.
A Guided Meditation
Layout some Moon cards and spend time meditating on them. It may help to play this Guided Meditation or another imagery, like this, that you can find online.
A Full Moon Spread
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon, The moon, The moon, They danced by the light of the moon
The energy of the moon has an undeniably powerful influence—on people, on plants and animals, and on the cycles and rhythms of the world. These tarot spread may help you manifest the changes you want for yourself and your community. Whatever! They will provide fodder for journal keeping.
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.
What is gratitude? Gratitude is being grateful for all of the things in your life. It’s being grateful for all of the wonderful things that you have, but also of the things that haven’t quite gone so right, because of the lessons they brought you.
Let’s be honest. Life can be difficult. It can be a roller coaster. Sometimes we get a run of wonderfully memorable days. Some days it seems we are stuck in an endless cycle of days we’d rather forget.
Gratitude reminds us to keep bringing our heart back to what matters most. Not just in the good times, but the bad times too. Gratitude isn’t about having a positive attitude. It’s about finding the things that can comfort or warm us, despite what else might be happening in our lives.
What matters most to you?
Who matters most to you?
Seven Days of Gratitude and Gratitarot
Watch these three, highly individual videos and be inspired to make tarot based expressions of gratitude a daily practice. The first, by Jen, sets up a seven day challenge that was very successfulthis year.
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.