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.

Checking in with Vlad

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.

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.

Narrating Two Creative Journeys

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!

Given Up Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters, Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), engage in a variety of discussions and encounters while awaiting Godot, who never arrives.

Two Fools, Estragon from the Gypsy Palace Tarot and Vlad from the Sakki Sakki Tarot have decided to give up sitting around Waiting for Godot to shed some light on what they are supposed to be doing at this point in their lives. Inspired by Mary Oliver’s The Journey,  they have both decided to head off on a creative journey. I am following them, writing up brief biography fragments for them. I will be posting what I glean from these travellers but you can also follow the permanent links on this page to track their progress and see what they end up doing.

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

 

Talking Tarot Part 2

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.

From the Cosmic Tarot.

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.