I subscribe to none of those. To me, the Wheel of Fortune is a Trickster card, a card of uncertainty. We spin the wheel and takes our chances. Who knows what where the Wheel will stop? Not this tarot reader. I firmly believe that there are some things we are not meant to know and there are cards in the deck that represent this.
Peeking into the future is just one use for tarot. It’s most important function is reading the cards as a sacred text. The Wheel of Fortune is excellent as a sacred text.
Here’s the lesson. Things happen. We cannot always control things that happen. I know that is not a popular belief but it is true, isn’t it? The secret golden nugget in the Wheel is: the closer you stand to the center of the wheel, the less likely you are to lose your balance. If we think of our lives as the wheel, the closer we are to our own center, which is defined by our core values, the easier it will be to stay steady, even if the wheel spins fast or lands somewhere that is just plain not cool.
Because this year is associated with the Wheel, we can be sure it will be one of change. The 5s are also associated with change and I do think we are going to see the energy of these cards throughout the year.
The 5 of Wands will bring a lot of competitiveness and ego.
The 5 of Cups will leave us lost in grief instead of actively grieving.
The 5 of Swords will bring us Pyrrhic victory after Pyrrhic victory.
The 5 of Pentacles is perhaps the most troubling in this case as it shows the potential for a complete separation of our resources from our values (both individual and collective).
That what this year is going to teach us. We are going to be tested to see what our priorities and values really are. Unfortunately, our country feels (to me) like it sees its role as a for-profit business, which is why, apparently, so many of us voted to put a businessman at the helm. But I never thought that our country was a business. It is a representation of our values…or it should be. If it is not performing that function, then what do we do? How do we make sure our values are expressed in the world? What are our options?
This year is going to be challenging. It will also be a gift. We will finally get to find out exactly who we are. I’ve heard someone say “show me your schedule and budget, I’ll name your values.” I couldn’t agree more and this year is going to be like a final exam. Who have you been striving to become? What is that person going to do in the face of real need…human need, creature need, earth need?
May we all hold on tight to our values, not get distracted by the world spinning around us, and stay calm and centered as we help keep the world on course.
This version of the 8 of Pentacles is one of my favorites because it shows the sweat and challenge of hard work. Yes, she has tools and materials, the only way she will improve is to work. Through practice and discipline she learns what she needs to achieve exactly what she wants.
Have you noticed that there are often these words that float to the surface of popular consciousness? Often they are ones we've not used often (or at all) but suddenly, they fall off our lips as if they are part of our understanding of the world. Lately, for me, it's been the word "iteration." Usually I feel annoyance at these words, as if they are some lame affectation. That annoyance is stupid, I know. With this particular word, I've had to fight that irrational reaction because what this word means is so close to what I believe as someone who is always trying to master something new and as a teacher.
Iteration is a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operation yields resutls successively closer to a desired result. Technically, we could use the word "draft," although interation feels more active with more focus on the act of repetition as a learning experience. Repetition is, in so many areas of life, the single best way to get better at something.
As many of you know, I'm working to become a better artist. I took classes to get me started but after a point, taking in more information wasn't affecting my actual art. It was only when I started practicing what I'd learned, making mistakes, figuring out what went wrong, and deciding things to try to correct the mistakes did I actually start improving. A lot of art tutorials by established artists feature "cheap supply challenges." The point of these is to show that while quality supplies are awesome, they are not necessary to create good art nor is not having them an excuse not to practice. If you develop skill, you can create with whatever is at hand. The best supplies or tools are no substitute for skill. Skill comes through practice. Saying that we will get better once we take that one class or acquire that specific deck or tool actually undermine your progress and take away your power.
So as we all move forward, reaching toward becoming our best selves in whatever areas we are focusing on, the 8 of Pentacles is here to remind us that while we should enjoy and utilize whatever can support us we need to know that practice does indeed make perfect. Make messes, make mistakes, try new things.
May you commit to the discipline of your chosen goal.
May your successes inspire you.
May your mistakes teach you.
May you find joy in the process.
If you are not comfortable with reading for public figures, perhaps you would be reading for fictional characters. Some people who don't read for those not present or without permission are okay with ideas like this because these are practice techniques, meant for your learning only.
The idea was born when one of my students did practice readings for public figures. She admitted that when she read for Trump that she had trouble finding anything positive to say because of how she felt about him, because of her judgment of his character and his choices. As readers, we know that not all our clients share our beliefs and are walking differnt paths than ours. When we feel very strongly about their paths, it can be hard to give an objective reading free from our own ideas about what is best.
You may wonder if you have such biases. This activity can help throw some light on that question. It does not solve the problem but rather is simply an experiment to explore potential biases, perhaps illuminating a tendency that you might not have been aware of.
Step 1: Select 2 "clients"
Pick one public figure that you admire, like, or respect. Pick another one, someone who you don't like.
Step 2: Decide on the question
Develop one question that would be appropriate for both clients.
Step 3: Decide on the spread
Pick one spread that will address the question and use it for both readings.
Step 4: Create the blind testing environment
Write each name on small pieces of paper and fold them up so that you don't know which is which.
Step 5: Do the first reading
Pick one piece of paper, without looking at the name. Do the reading. Make notes or record it. When done, do NOT look at the paper.
Step 6: Do the second reading
Follow the same instructions as Step 5. Note: unless there was some miracle in shuffling, you will have different cards for each reading.
Step 7: Journal or reflect
Note how you felt, not knowing who was the client. Did you have moments where you wished you knew who the reading was for, thinking that it would "help" you with the interpretation? Did you consciously think about how you might interpret the reading differently if it was for one client rather than the other? Were there any moments of cognitive dissonance?
Step 8: Reveal the names
Unfold the papers and learn which reading was for which client. Note your reactions.
As you probably know, I write a lot. Each year I recieve several contracts for publication or for teaching. One day (this was back in 2015), I was telling Lisa about how I love it when my authors (the ones I contract to write for Llewellyn) are so excited to get their contracts and to hear how they celebrate. I said something about how we don't celebrate my contracts because they've become "my job." Then we realized that that is a bunch of crap and that we should celebrate each and every opportunity for the awesome blessing that it is. So now we do because why not?
James Clear notes that despite all the lovely accomplishments, large and small, that he didn't celebrate them. Instead he acted humble and moved on to the next goal. But by doing so, he was not only not honoring the achievement but also depriving his loved ones an opportunity to be part of his life in a really wonderful way.
My blessing for you today is that you celebrate your accomplishments, large and small, and that you help those you love celebrate theirs, every day all year long.
January 1. We call it New Year’s but that date has not always (and does not, in all parts of the world) mark the date a year begins. You can read more about the history of January 1 HERE).
Even though December 31/January 1 are just a dates on a calendar, they are infused with so much expectation. It's got to be hard to be an arbitrary point marking an ending and beginning. Even more challenging: on a circle (like the earth’s journey around the sun) there is no one beginning/ending point.
Nevertheless, since around 1570, we have invested this date with power. The power of a clean slate. I do adore clean slates; don't you? As Anne Shirley said, "Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it." A new day is awesome, but there is something even more powerful about a whole new year! The potential! The possibilities! The football games! Fresh calendars, new journals. AND, perhaps most importantly...the new season of Sherlock. Ahem.
So whatever energy or magic there is in this time for you, may you soak in it, release and relax into it, let it reveal its secrets to you.
I look forward to sharing the journey into 2017 with you.
December 4 is St. Barbara’s Day. Interestingly, she is also associated with Chango/Shango. In tarot, she is associated with The Tower. For the third year in a row, my friend and I celebrated. At the bottom of this post is a spread that we used for our first year’s celebration. You can do this spread any time, not just on her feast day.
Although this is a Catholic saint, we do not celebrate as Catholics, although we were both raised as such. Instead, we work with the various St. Barbara stories as if they are a sacred text, much in the same way as I read tarot as a sacred text or as the hosts of the wonderful podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, read those books as sacred texts. As with so many of the stories of the saints, there are many versions. We do not try to establish the “true” story or demand factual evidence. A sacred text is not a scientific research paper.
Each year we focus on a different aspect of the stories. The basic plot of her story is that her father locked her in a tower to keep her safe and virtuous and away from the heretic Christians. Food and necessities were sent up to her in a basket attached to a rope. One day, somehow, a book found its way into the basket and Barbara read it. It was about Christianity and she thought it was wonderful. She wanted to learn more but her father was suspicious and controlled her life. But Barbara was pretty clever. She feigned illness and said that she knew of a doctor, the only doctor who could save her. Her father sent for the doctor, not realizing he was a doctor of the soul not of the body. Barbara learned all about Christian faith and was baptized.
Her father went away on business for a few days. While he was gone, Barbara ordered her father’s architects to add another window to her tower, which only had two windows. She wanted three windows to represent the Holy Trinity. When her father returned, he was, of course, outraged. He turned her in as a heretic and she was beaten and punished, but she would not repent. This went on for days, maybe weeks, but each night she asked Jesus to heal her wounds and he did. Because he’s cool like that. Her father was ordered to behead her so he took her to the foothills of a mountain (like you do) and attempted to cut her head off. After he accomplished this horrible crime, lightning struck, killing him and causing a mountain to fall on him.
That is one variation and I left out lots of things. And my friend and I change the ending. In our version, she does not die but escapes just before the lightning hits her father and goes on to teach love and commitment for many years.
We began our celebration by spending a few minutes at the alter I’d set up with candles and a painting I made of her followed by three minutes in meditation, inviting St. Barbara to come to us and guide us of in our discussion, reflection, and tarot reading. In my meditation, I was taken immediately to what looked like a WWI trench with soldiers in it. Barbara was going behind each one, laying her hands on them. She looked back at me with a look that said, “I’m busy right now. Just get to work.” Even though St. Barbara is associated with artillery, it was clear that this vision was metaphoric and not a literal call to physical violence.
As we discussed our meditation experiences, the message for me was that I know what is right and what must be done, what my work in the world is, and that I need to be braver and share my messages more clearly and with a wider reach. Until now, I have been quietly posting my messages on my blog and hoping that whoever needs the messages will find them. St. Barbara says that that is not enough. If I want to be part of changing the world, I need to be more on the front lines.
We finished our evening with doing readings for ourselves, sharing our messages, and adding to each other’s, as we felt led to. We used the second edition of the World Spirit Tarot and Carrie Paris’ Magpie Oracle. Very often, I take a photo or write out my reading in my journal but sometimes some readings are different. They are oracular moments that feed the soul more than the conscious mind. They are meant to be experienced rather than analyzed and mulled over and figured out. This reading, for me, was like that.
During our discussion and reflection, we noted how an apparently randomly acquired book held a life-changing message for St. Barbara. In myths, we often see that the environment is responsive to the hero. Barbara was seeking wisdom and it came to her. She, in turn, was responsive and changed her environment to reflect her new wisdom by adding a window to her tower. So my friend and I asked Spirit to help us be open to common, everyday things and occurrences that might hold such messages for us and how we can respond and create effective change in the world.
The next day I received a holiday card from a cousin who wrote something about really missing my presence on Facebook and maybe in 2017 I’d consider returning. Others have asked me over this past year but I always knew that the answer was, at least for now, “no.” With this one, I wasn’t so sure. I’m not someone who believes that every random thought is sacred intuition. Instead, I prefer to take the idea as a suggestion and test it against my current goals and values.
So I am still thinking about this, thinking how could my Facebook experience be different. How can I use it to share my messages without getting dragged back into my old way of using the platform. It may come to nothing. Or it may lead to something vital to my journey. As we enter into the darkest time of the year, I will spend time in reflection and prayer.
In the meantime, I blessed my neighborhood that night with words inspired from our celebration:
May you stand up for something with love, honor, and integrity without violence.
May you stand up for thing, large or small—yourself, another person, an ideal.
May you stand up for something you love and take one step closer to your true self.
With that, I offer an additional blessing to us all:
May you find and face the darkest parts of yourself.
May you find the peace and strength to transform them.
May you discover your next best step on your journey to live your true soul’s purpose.
May you know that you have the power to change yourself and the world.
As some of you may know, I've begun blessing my neighborhood each night. I talk about it HERE.
Some nights, the blessings feel too special to keep to myself and my neighborhood, so sometimes I'll share them here for you. Because I want you all to be blessed, too.
You are blessed with discernment.
You are blessed with the ability to take action.
May these qualities drop deeply into your heart and grow.
May your deepest core start imagining, feeling, seeing how things can be different.
May that beautiful vision grow until it manifests through your actions
and change the world.
Human beings are manifestation machines. There are lots of ways we create reality. On the physical level, we are natural makers…from creating whole worlds with words, to deep emotions with music, to grand awe with paint or architecture. We also create in other ways. There is a belief, which I share, that thoughts become things. This is an amazing ability that we are only starting to fully appreciate. With this ability comes responsibility.
Everyone has the same amount of time in a day. Everyone has a store of energy and attention that can be used during that time. The big question is what are we doing with it? What are the long term and bigger picture ramifications of our thoughts and actions? The more we understand our power, the more responsibility we have in wielding it well. We have the opportunity to decide what larger field of reality we are feeding.
In times of chaos or fear or anger, we…or at least I…turn to the comfort of focusing on smaller things that we feel we can control. Creating order out of chaos is a natural response and usually helpful. But sometimes we get caught up in either things that don’t really matter or are harmful although we may not realize it. Both of these responses are a misuse of our creative manifesting power.
Let’s say we spend some of our precious, non-renewable resource of time and some of our potent energy (it is potent whether you realize it or not) in posting some grammar meme, like these:
Now, as a writer I understand the importance of grammar (even if I don’t always get it right). As a spiritual being who is trying to understand how to best use my power and resources to create a world that is an expression of Love (as opposed to our limited human ideas about love), I cringe at hyper vigilance and judgment being spread like an insidious virus in the name of humor or in upholding the pillars of civilization (many take their grammar way too seriously).
I believe that when we do something like this, we accomplish two things.
1. We are using our precious resources on something that is at most ineffective and at best downright wasteful. If we truly care about grammar and helping people learn to use language more effectively, our time and energy would be best used in teaching…and teaching with love and respect. Intent matters. Indeed, I am counting on the importance of intent as I write this, as I certainly don't want to fall into the trap I am describing.
2. We feed the field of bullying and judgmental energy. This is so important. We live in a liminal time, a time in between stories. Our old worldviews are dying and new ones are forming (we, as co-creators of the universe are at this moment creating the future). That’s one reason we are seeing things in the world that we are right now…the old world has essentially died and we are experiencing its death throes. It has nothing to lose so it is thrashing out wildly. Our job is to help minimize the damage it does on the way out. Our other job is to pay attention to what energy fields we are feeding with our time, attention, actions, words, etc. Calling or implying that people are inferior to you because they didn’t have the same education or environment that allowed them to take advantage of education as you feeds the field of bullying. Do we want our next story to the same story but just with other people doing the bullying? I don’t. Be the change you want to see. Live the story you want to tell. Think about what you are doing and why. Imagine your actions as seeds that will grow in the future. What will they grow into? Something that nourishes live or something destructive?
How does this tie into tarot? Let’s consider the 5 of Swords. It tells many stories, as all the cards do. The story I’m thinking of now is of the pyrrhic victory. As we try, in our fear of chaos and the death throes of the old world, to push forward anything that imposes order and makes us feel better about ourselves, we may win some battles. We may help someone actually understand the differences between they’re, their, and there. We may (and this is more likely) help ourselves feel better about ourselves because we are so very smart and our like-minded friends will jump in and help feed that good feeling even more. But those are the short-term benefits. What are the long-term possibilities? Like the dude in the 5 of Swords, gleefully collecting all the weapons and probably feeling pretty darn superior, at what cost did he win? Did he give up a part of his soul? Did he alienate potential allies? Did he create future enemies? Did he feed the energy field of terror and fear?
I imagine we can all feed the world...this current one and the future...with something more nourishing, more life-giving, and more beautiful.
I had a really amazing experience last night and even in the midst of it, I knew I wanted to share it with you.
In the face of overwhelming headlines about the state of our world, it can be hard to know what to do to make a difference. Over the past few years, I've found little ways to make if not big differences at least small differences that could yield larger resonances.
For the past 6 weeks or so, I've begun a little blessing practice. With all the fear, hate, and anxiety coursing through our society, I knew I couldn't gather everyone into my arms and hold them to my heart until they calmed down. Instead, before going to bed, I bless my neighborhood and everyone in it. Each night it is different and I never know ahead of time what the blessing will be. Inspiration always came, like some wise and caring being whispering in my ear. Even though no one hears the blessing, it feels like some of the most powerful work I've ever done.
What was different about last night is that after I finished the blessing but was still looking out of the window, I saw a car driving out of the neighborhood. As it was driving away, I immediately thought toward the people in the car "and you, you are taking this blessing with you and spreading it wherever you go; it is going viral."
Now the magical practitioner in me rose up all ethical and judgmental saying, "It is bad enough that you are blessing people without their permission, but now sending it out into the world like a virus...not cool!" But whatever. It felt right. If felt powerful. It felt like it came from my heart and from something/someone more than just me.
In addition, it was a really cool blessing. Some that are whispered to me are more poetic than others. Here it is and I give it to you, too. Feel free to spread it or any other blessing. How often do you get a gift idea that is free and actually gets bigger, better, and shinier the more it is shared?
"May the magic in your world leap into your heart like drops of fire and pulse through your veins making you feel just so good to be alive."
And here is a special additional blessing for you, my friends:
"May you move through this season with ease and grace,
as a walking blessing to the whole world."
A lover of tarot, magic, and mystery.