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 Plays
I spied with my little eye the Magnetic Play Theatre that I obviously kept, which belonged to my daughter when she was little.
It only took a moment to find out about the connection between Tarot and Medieval Playhouses and for my inner child to point out that this would be a fun way to play with Tarot and write all at the same time.
So I set up my Rose and Swan Playhouse and called upon the Fiddler on the Roof Matchmaker to make me a match. The Lions Gateway Tarot by Jessica Henry was the obvious choice and I have to say it was love at first sight. These two may have quite the romance as they bounce off one another.
As I laid down the card that emerged from Henry’s beautiful deck I thought of fairy stories and the Canterbury Tales. Given Tarots power to teach about morality, I might even be happy to write a scene for a morality play.
During the 1970s, as women were fighting to enter the corporate world, the dress code for success became more about mimicking men as a means of capturing a little bit of their authority and gaining acceptance into the boys’ club. The ’80s and ’90s saw a shift towards a more fiercely feminine brand of power. The suits stayed, but now they had exaggerated shoulders, nipped-in waists, came in bold colors, and didn’t shy away from making a statement
When I met Vlad she reported that she had taken steps to make her dream of being a ‘traveller’, with no set destination, a reality. She told me that she was just waiting to take delivery of the second hand van that she had bought which had needed some restoration work done.
Then she showed me the poem, ‘Caged Bird’, by Maya Angelou that she had found so deeply moving. A friend who gifted her the book of poems by Angelou, had told her that, sometimes when Angelou wanted to write, she made an appointment to write by booking herself into a Hotel room and taking herself, her typewriter and a bottle of whiskey along.
Neither of us knew whether this was a true story but we were rather taken with the idea that Angelou should be a free enough bird to do this. Vlad clearly yearned to learn to fly free after having been in a Corporate cage for so long.
I suggested that we pull a card to glean a message, or some direction, from the Universe. As always we agreed that we would accept any message and that I would rely on her reactions to the card that emerged, rather than project any of my ideas.
As the Sun card emerged Vlad literally cried. When she composed herself she pointed to the high heel shoes that were discarded on the pavement. “These shoes say it all” she said. “Everything I read and witnessed amongst female colleagues led me to submit and wear clothing and accessories that would tell the world what I wanted and what I was capable of. Every day I took hours to groom myself and dress to impress. I had to wear stiletto heels like those shown here and believe me I am very happy to have removed them and to have left them, discarded, on the pavement of an urban city”.
I pointed out that it is my understanding that the Sun card bathes us and our new pathway in light, offers possibilities and helps us to focus. The Sun makes us feel alive and fills us with optimism. Vlad smiled but I knew she was primarily focusing on just what the shoes represented.
BY MAYA ANGELOU
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth Robert Frost
When I first met Vlad and Estragon in a cafe ‘on the road most travelled’ they were preparing to head off on their creative journeys. Possibly because they realised that they had so little in common they took quite different paths.
When I found Vlad she was sitting journalling after having pulled out the Temperance Card. She explained to me that she intended to draw cards to help decide what kind of day she would have. I smiled and told her that this sounded like a great idea and that I would try doing that myself.
Vlad showed me her journal in which she had spent time stocktaking and setting priorities. She said that she desperately needed some balance after burning both ends of the candle in her corporate job and showed me the list she had made of all the people who had wronged her or made life particularly difficult.
Upon seeing this list I suggested that she call on her Ghosts, Goddesses or Guides for some guidance and she agreed. Like Estragon she also agreed that she would heed any message which emerged, even if she didn’t like it.
We pulled a card from my Goddess Oracle and as I laid it down the look on Vlad’s face spoke more than any words. This card had clearly hit a very raw nerve and I decided to just sit quietly as she took it in. Then I began to read the poem in the guide book to her
“My fingers were cut off then
I was kicked
I was hurt
I was wounded
I was lied to
I was betrayed
I was abandoned”
It was at this point that we both agreed we would sit down and make lists of all the ways we had been hurt and then create a fire and burn our lists. As we were writing our lists I was reminded of Clarissa Pinkola Estes concept of the Scar Clan. I recalled devoting a significant part of a journal, an assessment task for a loss and grief course, to documenting my scars. No one will be surprised to hear that before the journal was filled I got over my negative narrative and began identifying all the ways in which I had been supported.
Any of us who have decided to embark on the Fool’s Journey know all too well that it never goes quite as smoothly as we imagine. Estragon was puffed up with confidence and I knew, in my waters, that this euphoria about leaving his life as an IT nerd might not last for long.
Just 24 hours after talking to him he had hit the wall and taken a knock. It seems that there are plenty of others with his IT skills and it is not going to be quite so easy to pick up casual work to support his dream of being an artisan. Clearly he is going to have to adapt his thinking and accept that he doesn’t actually know everything, that he has much to learn, that everyone is not going to welcome a stranger with open arms.
Given that I profess to be an artistic midwife, with years of experience handling creative blocks, I decided I needed to act. I quietly took a deck of cards out of my creative medicine bag and suggested that we draw a card and see if that card would shed some light on the situation, and hopefully, provide an encouraging message. Before shuffling we agreed that whatever card came out, we would accept that this was the message we needed to hear.
The Chariot is such a wonderful card and Estragon was happy that it had appeared. The Chariot is the perfect card in a situation like this because, it reminds us that life is a journey and that as we journey through life, life invariably confronts us with a mixture of experiences – not all good. Everyone has to learn to manage their energy and how best to express their power. Vlad stiffened when I asked him to consider which of his powers needed to be balanced and where he would like the Chariot to take him.
After a few moments he put his head in his hands and acknowledged that he really didn’t know.
“Well now we have something to work with” I told him and, quite suddenly he brightened.
On the other hand Vlad, who has been spending quiet time recuperating after leaving her high flying, demanding job, has been infused with inspiration and has already met up with some likeminded folk who are actively encouraging her to realise her dream.
It will be interesting to see how this goes for her, especially given the environment she has come from.
Estragon and Vlad haven’t gone anywhere yet so I thought I would check in to see what they are thinking at this stage. Estragon is extremely confident that he is making independent choices and is quite focused, intent on achieving his goal. Not surprisingly he is unable to give me any details about just what that goal is. So while he has given up on Godot he is clearly still waiting for some light to be switched on by some unknown force.
Vlad on the other hand has decided to rest and withdraw for awhile. She is determined to go but tells me that she is waiting for the right moment. She still needs to clear her thoughts. Given that she has burned both ends of the candle in her work as a Corporate Lawyer I cannot say I am surprised and I am encouraging her to take her own sweet time. “There are no creative journey police that I know of” I told her.
“Well that is comforting” she replied. “Will make a nice change after the scrutiny I was subjected to in my working world!”
All I said was that I ‘heard her’ and did understand.
One day you finally knew What you had to do, and began,
Though the voices around you
Kept shouting Their bad advice‚ Though the whole house Began to tremble And you felt the old tug At your ankles. “Mend my life!”
Mary Oliver The Journey
Over a cup of Tiny Tea I met with Vlad and Estragon and agreed that I would try to be an objective observer and help preserve their journey.
As we sat sipping our tea, laced with something strong enough to get them talking, I enquired about what was driving them, why they were prepared to throw in their seemingly successful lives to wander for an indefinite period.
Estragon quite confidently declared that his inner Emperor felt stable enough to help him reach his latent artistic goals and announced that he would be the first to present something tangible, something that would revolutionise thinking at this time. On the other hand Vlad shared that she was well aware of karma and she believed that in order to achieve her dream she needed to give something up. She has decided to walk away from her highly paid, high flying position as a Corporate Lawyer.
I simply listened, smiled and made supportive, encouraging noises. This is going to be VERY interesting!
Make sure to keep an eye out on what is new here at The Tarot Midwife.
After The Village Tarot Witch did some Past Life Readings for me and a character I am working with I asked her if she would be willing to help me kick start my Tarot Community Interviews by answering some questions.
Through techniques of pathworking (guided meditation), your imagination can shine a magic mirror on your personality. This inner landscape reveals your world as your unconscious sees it – a perspective that enables you to make dramatic changes.
Make an appointment to write! Join me, read Tarot over Tiny Tea and spend time working on your journal.
Joseph Gill’s The Gill Tarot, first published in 1991, is a beautiful deck to work intimately with and provides amazing imagery for those wanting to journal or path-work.
A pathworking takes you on a journey through an inner landscape. Path-working as a technique is derived from magical uses of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. In that system, a path-working is a journey along one of the 22 paths of the Tree of Life, each of which has a specific set of landscape and symbolism associated with it (and corresponds to one of the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot).
Alternatively you can engage in a visualisation by focusing on the specific images in front of you; sometimes the image tells a story or involves travelling through a landscape (real or imaginary); sometimes it is intended to bring about a specific result.
At other times you may dialogue with a aspect of your personality as represented by someone like Gill’s Queen of Cups.
A sheep with a drawer in its stomach, a chair that wears heels, these truly surreal works of art could only come from the mind of Salvador Dalí. Pioneering, avant-garde provocateur, Surrealist, as famous for his personality as his work, a true icon, his legacy remains unrivalled in the current century.
On the basis that there is not really an original idea and the reality that we all stand upon the shoulders of others, I regularly have participants shuffle and choose an art oracle card.
With everything closed my most recent class went online and we have been meeting using Zoom. I drew cards for each of the participants and asked them to spend some time contemplating what they could learn from their artist.
Heather was confronted with Dali and, in response to the idea that to be Dali would provide more than enough inspiration, she spent some time considering how he would react to Covid 19 and being locked down.
She decided that, given that he pursued his interest in the 4th dimension and immortality, she imagined that Covid 19 might have tested his convictions. She wondered if he would have laughed the virus off and continued with his life or if he might have questioned his ideas and, along with the rest of the world, isolated himself and painted with new energy.
Finally she decided that he liked life too much to test his ideas about immortality and that Covid 19 would have been an exciting stimulus for him to paint in his Surrealist style.
He would very likely have emerged again, as the painter who in the 1920s, excited the art world with his works.
Inspired to walk briefly in Dali’s shoes she had fun playing and produced this delightful piece of art.
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.
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.