Discarding the Stilettos

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.

Caged Bird
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.

An Important Decision

If you looked at my life last year compared to my life today, it’s almost unrecognizable. Last year, I had a growing interior design firm and had just purchased a starter home in Austin, Texas. My boyfriend and I were living in our house and planning a future together. From the outside, it looked like everything was going in the right direction. But I had a nagging feeling that something was off. I felt stuck and unfulfilled in my work and relationship, but I didn’t know why or what to do about it. I had no idea that the solution would be to donate most of my things and move into a campervan.

I met Vlad in the travellers inn that she has been staying in since leaving her job as a high flying corporate lawyer and wondered how she was adapting to more basic living conditions. She enlightened me that she was happy and that she had got excited after watching a YouTube video about about a woman travelling solo in a camper van and finding this article in Van Life.

While I knew that there had been a huge trend for ‘grey nomads’ to hitch up their caravans and head around Australia I confessed that this was relatively new to me and that it would not only be a very interesting way to live but that it would demand that she adapt and learn new skills.

The counsellor in me reminded Vlad that it was not a good idea to make hasty decisions after having made the major life choice to walk away from her well established life. I suggested pulling some cards to generate discussion and throw some light on the matter.

The appearance of the Hanged Man and the Ten of Rods was enough for Vlad. She didn’t need to dialogue about this. She resolutely laid down her keys as a symbol that the time had come to unburden herself and to see things from a fresh perspective. She had decided and was ready to join the swelling numbers of people abandoning the lives that society had encouraged them to believe would be fulfilling.

Vlad’s Past, Present, Future

This is a 9 card spread. It consists of a 3 x 3 matrix. The cards are placed face down one by one, starting from the top-left and moving from top to down, left to right. Then they are revealed (I let the person whose story is being told do it) one by one. There are, once again, different methods to read the spread. In my reading, the top line represents the past: events, people or conditions that are somehow the pre-conditions for the situation we are investigating. The middle part represents the situation at hand, with the central card having a special significance as the present time or “the protagonist” of the story. Of course, this is in a metaphorical sense: a quality or an attitude that somehow characterizes the person. The lower line represents possible future scenarios or consequences.
from the 
Carmideroni Blog

As we sailed with the Ferry Woman to an unknown destination Vlad and I took the time to do a 9 card spread for her. I intend to do one for myself for, as I travel with the two Fools it is clear that I am on a new creative journey too. Our reading of this spread will eventually appear here. Meanwhile we are taking in the salt air and enjoying sailing in the moonlight.

Top Line: Past events, people and conditions

Vlad had no hesitation in relating to the top line of this spread. She recognised that she had been lured by the belief that if she joined the Corporate Law firm money would come her way. She understood that in doing so she had lost sight of the fact that real wealth that lay elsewhere, didn’t comprehend what the burden working in such a competitive, toxic environment would be like.  She had spent years being busy, having a lot going on all at once and she freely admitted to having burned both ends of the candle.

Middle Line: Current events, people and conditions

As we looked at the middle line both Vlad and I drew in a deep breath of relief. Vlad felt that the cards vindicated her decision and that the cards were seeing her in a fresh light. Her eyes lit up at the prospect of sharing good times with like minded people who were not going to compete with her or stab her in the back over some deal. We both agreed that if the Magician and Hierophant archetypes were coming forward she really is ready and willing to make it happen.

Bottom Line: Future events, people and conditions

As we meditated on the Queen of Rods and the King of Cups who steadfastly met our gaze I looked at Vlad and said that this really is her time to shine. She is a charismatic woman who is very passionate about coming up with creative ideas and we both began to chat about potentiality and possibilities.

Within Just 24 Hours

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.

Checking In With E and V

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.

Sahmain – Creativity Spread

Those who work with me know that I am a purveyor of creative stimuli, an artistic midwife who has worked as a specialist teacher of writing for decades. While I have worked in this field all my life, I have known fallow times so I do like to regularly take my creative pulse. Working with a Tarot Spread is a good way of taking one’s creative pulse.

There are a vast array of spreads available online and in books that specialise in presenting a diverse range of tarot spreads, suited to all occaisons. I like this particular spread because it helps me keep on track and monitor progress, particularly as, in November 2019, I committed to spending years working closely with symbols and to learning more about how they can ignite the creative flame and draw out words that are so often trapped behind internal walls of steel.

1. What does my creativity want to say? 2. What are my creative strengths? 3. What are my creative challenges? 4. How does my creativity speak to me? 5. How can I best focus on my creativity moving forward?

As a New Year in my creative life dawns I decided to use a spread presented by @thepathtarot. I decided to use the Sakki Sakki Tarot because Monika Clio Sakki has specifically focused on providing Tarot and  a Companion Book which actively supports creative journeys.

Rather than lay the cards out as suggested I chose to lay them out on a hand, with the first card beginning at the thumb and the five cards moving back towards the little finger. I also asked my Runes to strengthen the reading by offering three messages for me.

Not surprisingly this reading proved quite challenging, especially with the appearance of two cards which are universally regarded as ‘darker’ cards. Ultimately it was the Runes which completed the picture for me.

  1. My creativity wants me to know that I am gestating, that I am pregnant wth possibility. She reminds me that true creations come at the right time.
  2. The Six of Cups tells me that the way I played as a child has nurtured my creativity and has been a constant source of strength. I stop and remember Archie Hair, an old friend from my childhood, his Box of Natural Wonders, his treasure hunts and his playfulness. I know that he passed these gifts on to me and that they are a key to my creativity.
  3. Experience has shown me that in times of sadness, grief and disappointment my creativity wanes and I have been silenced for significant periods of time. Given the recent death of my beautiful Neeky, a beloved companion for the past ten years, I am mindful that I need to be careful not to be silenced by the grief I am feeling. I am so aware of the huge void she has left.
  4. The Seven of Swords is not usually well received but in this instance the seven of swords represents the power of thoughts. The swords represent aspects of my thought processes. My creativity keeps insisting that I think as strategically, as possible, that I find the gold in the troubled times, that I gather ideas, research and keep moving forward.
  5. I keep moving forward, try not to dwell in the past, because I know that the very swords that have pierced my heart have ultimately fuelled my creativity. I honour my scars and heart wounds.

Three messages from the Runes

  • Raido: I am no longer burdened by what I have left pinned to the ground and left behind
  • Jera: The ground is fertile and ready to be planted
  • Othila: It is time to shed old skins

 

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?

Seeking Inspiration – Mystery Tarot Tours

You might not think that a bunch of dead people would have much to say. However, a good graveyard can reveal a lot about the society that built it, from its history and its architecture to its superstitions. I have been to the original blockbuster cemetery, Pere Lachaise in Paris, Prague’s  Jewish cemeteries and the oldest Christian cemetery in Penang. Here at home I regularly visit small, beautifully serene, historic cemeteries in the Central Goldfields, Victoria, Australia. There are so many narratives to be found in these often abandoned places.

Recently I set out on my first Mystery Tarot Tour. Friends love it when I suggest that we go on one of Akari’s (my Mazda 3) mystery tours. Sometimes I take writers, seeking inspiration, to historic cemeteries. All those headstones have a story to tell.

I am not sure where the idea came from but a week or so back  I decided to revisit some of my favourite cemeteries to read some tarot cards with the long dead.  (I confess that visiting cemeteries, armed with Tarot decks, is a bit different even by my standards.) I set out  with my two companion animals, a picnic basket and a tarot deck.

At the Sandon Cemetery I stopped at an unmarked grave to ask about what kind of life the occupant had experienced. Not surprisingly, given the harshness of life on the early goldfields, the nine of rods spoke of a life filled with a lot of hard work.

Further on, at the Majorca cemetery, when I asked the Martell’s to share some wisdom out came the Fool from Monicka Clio Sakki’s Art Tarot Deck. I confess I was quite taken aback – stopped in my tracks long enough to take another photo that I could use as an avatar as I establish myself as a Tarot Midwife.

Perhaps I am on a Fool’s journey or maybe I am on to something quite profound. Time will tell!

The Deck I Used:

People who know my track record online know that I am not into reinventing the wheel. Asali Earthwork provide a great review of the Sakki Sakki Tarot deck. Personally I feel it is essential to have the companion book and I lashed out and acquired the colouring book as well. Perfect for my writing classes to choose an archetype and meditate while colouring it in. A stream of words always materialises.  Also, this flip through on YouTube shows you exactly what this deck is like. I always watch flip throughs before investing. Photo by The Tarot Midwife.

Blue Hat Thinking – Beginning a Writing Course

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

“Creative thinking – in terms of idea creativity – is not a mystical talent. It is a skill that can be practiced and nurtured.”

Edward de Bono

Over the centuries people have struggled to explain why Tarot Cards work and, quite frankly, the vast number of people, often influenced by church leaders, dismiss them as being the tool of the devil.

Over the past eighteen months I have found it illuminating to discover the power of Tarot and Oracle cards. I have been amazed at the imaginative ways in which these cards can be used.

Vincent Pitisci claims to have cracked the mystery of how Tarot Cards work and quite frankly I agree with him completely. I have found that Tarot cards are an indispensable tool when I am wanting to lead creative thinking activities in a group session. Tarot cards facilitate conceptual blending, a technique used by heads of creative departments all over the world.

So, these days I stand on the shoulders of someone like Edward De Bono and I have created a Blue Hat Thinking spread to use with participants at the beginning of a course. I do this because it generates such lively dialogue and everyone is amazed by what emerges.

Here is an abbreviated example of how I use the Blue Hat Card Spread. I emphasise that this is not a predictive exercise. I do not believe the cards are capable of predicting anything. I believe they simply stimulate our thinking process and encourage us to use our imagination. When we work with a spread like this we are critically analysing, reflecting and gaining insight into what we are really seeking to achieve. It helps us clarify our goals.

In this instance I am using Monicka Clio Sakki’s Tarot and Companion Book because when she created all of this she directed her energy towards facilitating the creative journey. The four questions we examine as we seek clarity and direction are:

Where have we been?

Where are we now?

Where do we want to be?

How do we get there?

We begin by pausing and grounding. I like to use a stillness and silence meditation. There are many options online!

In this case I am doing the exercise for myself. I shuffle the deck many times. I use a variety of gentle shuffling methods. You do whatever works for you.

I am fully prepared to ‘unknow’ – to take advantage of a moment of blankness and be prepared to receive what the deck has to tell me.

Here are the cards I shuffled and laid out from left to right.

So let us look at them! Where have I been? I turn over the first card and reflect upon where I have been in my creative journey.

The Seven of Coins draws out memories of what my creative life looked like and how I worked for many years. I affectionately remember the wild garden I spent so many years creating. It involved an incredible amount of time spent online and saw the rise and success of the Soul Food Cafe, a site, which in its hey day drew thousands of visitors and featured the work of an eclectic group of writers and artists. However, with the rise of Facebook, when the landscape of the internet changed and my life hit a ‘Tower’ phase I laid down the hoe and stopped working Soul Food. I needed to have a break and hope that a whole picture would eventually emerge.

Where am I now? I turn over the second card and reflect upon where I am now.

 

A muscly figure is guiding a chariot pulled by brightly coloured dragons. The driver does appear to be in control as he drives the dragons but if he is going to maintain this control he is going to need to stay alert and focused. Keeping dragons like this together is quite a challenge. I confess I do feel like the chariot driver as I embark on a new phase and begin a project that I am expecting to devote ten years to. Frankly it has been decidedly overwhelming as I gather all my resources and see just how complex this whole field is.

Where do I want to be? I turn over the third card and reflect upon where I want to be.

I want to be the Alchemist who combines things that do not usually go together. Temperance implies moderation in action, thought and feeling. I want to be seen as someone whose mastery of mixed elements seems absolutely effortless

How do I get there? I turn over the fourth card and reflect upon how to get to where I want to be.

I do not have to think too hard about this. I AM the Queen of Swords. I am independent and exercise both physical and mental freedom. I am interesting and interested and I have very high ideals. My perception, logic and creativity is hard to match. I am honest and can be very witty – and of course, I am very humble :-). Although I communicate well I need a lot of time alone to invest in my creative pursuits. I have the time and can think clearly enough to get to where I want to be.