Marking Sahmain – Southern Hemisphere

“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.

Pennyweight Children’s Cemetery Reading

Life on the goldfields was particularly harsh on children. They were often used as a source of labour and could earn small amounts of money for errands. Their young immune systems were still developing and children were highly susceptible to diseases that sometimes ran through mining communities. However, even the young were drawn to the lure of gold and could also be found panning along the rivers.

In 1852, on a barren piece of land that was of no use to gold miners or fossickers, a cemetery for the deceased children of the Castlemaine goldfields was set aside. Located within the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery. A pennyweight is a very small measure of gold.

The graveyard is little more than a bee-stung patch of ground, small swellings rising up here and there where the earth’s surface was long ago prickled by rough shovels. Some of the mounds have their perimeters acknowledged by rows of stones, no more sophisticated than those you might set up around a campfire; others are marked only by a single jutting rock, or nothing at all. Looking out from Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery, the Australian scenery is beautiful.

Surrounded by grey box gums in a tranquil setting, the Children’s Cemetery tells a silent story about some realities of the goldfields during the 1850s. Many families travelled to the Castlemaine diggings in the early 1850s as word spread about alluvial (surface) gold to be found.

The Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery in Moonlight Flat is a heartbreaking result of the awful living conditions in the diggings during the gold rush of the 1850s. Around 200 shallow graves, mostly children and babies, are scattered amongst the trees.

Aside from the associated danger of children wandering off and getting lost, the poor and inadequate drainage of the early settlements caused much discomfort not only for everyone’s olfactory nerves but on the community’s health problems. A lack of clean drinking water along with accidents and diseases were the main causes of death for children living on the goldfields. The first recorded deaths on the Mount Alexander Diggings were of two small children, who perished of dysentery in November 1851.

Many graves are simply marked by stone arrangements, but there are a few which have headstones with readable engravings. There have also been memorial plaques added to some graves in recent years.

Pennyweight is one of my favorite places to visit with my dogs. For me it is the equivalent of going to church and spending time with the divine. It is also a popular destination for families. No doubt inspired by stories such as the one about Nannie, children leave small toys on many of the graves. I have considered taking children’s books out to this beautifully tranquil place, sitting and reading to the children. Meanwhile I am sure they have enjoyed the visits of my dogs.

Today I took my Macabre Tarot with me and was delighted when the Magician fell out of the pack, demanding to be featured.

The appearance of the Magician tells me more than I will publish. It lets me know that I am on the right path with my new project that involves revisiting historic cemeteries, accompanied by my dog and a Tarot deck. I have the tools I need and it is time to barrel ahead, get guidance from the dead and excavate some local history

A Small Fool’s Guidance

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.

Tiny Tea with The Fool

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.

Applying Bibliomancy

Bibliomancy is one of many divination practices found around the world, and involves the use of books—typically sacred texts—as a method to foretell the future and find guidance. There are many different techniques of bibliomancy that can be used, and a practitioner’s own belief system often informs the way in which results are interpreted.

All the Tarot, Oracle and Lenormand readers I have come to know are constantly updating their knowledge. Inevitably, most folk who collect decks also collect reputable resources to further their knowledge. I know my shelves are literally full of resources about Tarot and the art of writing in particular.

In his book, A Healing Space, Matt Licata specifically says that his book is not one to be read from cover to cover in one sitting. He expresses the hope that a reader might take his book out into nature, sit on the earth and ask to be directed to a passage. What Licata is describing is the art of bibliomancy.

  • Bibliomancy is often used with sacred texts to divine the future, but can also be performed with fiction.
  • The tradition of bibliomancy is found in religious practices all over the world.
  • To practice bibliomancy, you can select any book that is important to you, and focus on finding an answer to your question.

Now this got me thinking! It is true! The Jury is back in! I am guilty, as charged, of being critical of myself for not reading all the pages of the countless books that I have gathered over my lifetime. But I am confident that I could establish a simple Bibliomancy practice using the Tarot books, and other resources that surround me.

To test drive the process I pulled Mindful Tarot by Lisa Frienkel Tishman. PhD off the shelf and called upon this book to show me something I needed to know about Tarot and my specific practice.

Remarkably the page that opened talked about the Hangman and how the earliest decks called this the Traitor, in reference to Judas! This may not be news to you, but it was news to me.

I sat quietly with the whole notion of the Judas archetype and the provocative argument presented by Jorges Luis Borges, that without Judas we would not have Christ saving us all.

I pulled out the Hangman from the Cosmic Tarot and drew in the image! I considered how once in awhile someone comes along who, by the way, is not thanked for turning everything upside down. I remembered a moment in time when I turned everything upside down.

Curious? Perhaps it is best that I keep that memory to myself for now.

Over to You

What reference beckons you? What do you learn? Will you try this again and again?

Tarot Memoirs

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.”


The Tarot cards Old Memories promotes itself as the way to open a secret meaning encrypted in your thoughts, and suggests that this deck of cards is will help to open memories. Lisa Papez has a whole series of Tarot Memoirs on her YouTube Channel which will help inspire you.

Lay out some cards that speak to you, check out this post about Autobiography as a Tarot Practice and spend some time drawing upon the well of remembrance.

Alternatively, grab your favourite deck and systematically go through the cards, drawing on the memories the cards invoke.

Kindfulness Warriors

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

Bright Blue Day outline the significant benefits of Kindfulness while Carrie Mellon writes about Infectious Kindness and the power of the Six of Cups. Kiki Dombrowski is another writer who reflects on generosity in 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.

Use this Manifestation spread to help set some goals. What steps does a deck suggest that you can take to become a Kindfulness Warrior?

Self Compassion Tarot

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

Kristen Neff breaks down some of the myths that prevent us from caring for ourselves in the compassionate way we often care for others.

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”.

Mindfulness Org

So how can we use our Tarot or Oracle Cards to practice some Self Compassion?

Option One

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.

Option Two

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

Other Ideas?

  • 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.
  • Christine Gaudet writes about the Twelve Tarot Cards the Teach Compassion. Spend some time meditating and dialoguing with some of these cards.
  • Test run this spread
  • Or try this spread that is in the Guide Book of the Gentle Creatures Wisdom Deck, a deck I have bought specifically to do self compassion work with.
Spread from Gentle Creatures Wisdom Deck by Arwen Lynch-Poe and Dan May

Gratitude Tarot

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 successful this year.

Describes a simple process of expressing gratitude.

Some Gratitude Spreads to Work With.

Hygge for Cartomancy Addicts

Winter and Yule is the most hygge time of year but Nordic Winters were not always so cheery.

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.

The internet is, quite literally, awash with ideas about setting up the perfect, nurturing, safe space. However, if you are reading this I am confident that you know what to do.

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