Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PDR: Meow!

I’ve never done a tarot reading for a stranger, only for myself and for a few family members. Oh, and for my mother’s cats.

I know -- I need to get out more, right? But the readings I’ve done for those cats, at my mother’s request, have been fun and funny for both my mom and me. And she swears I’ve been credible and helpful. I did another reading today, about her aging Oriental Shorthair who is, for the first time in her life, an only cat.

My mother wanted insight into why Lacey has become so vocal. A quiet, timid, neurotic, fearful cat when she shared the house with other cats, in her solitude she has transformed into quite the chatterbox. She appears happy, not lonely, but Mom wanted to know what the cards had to say about the situation. I advised her to have Lacey checked for hyperthyroidism (incessant meowing is one of the symptoms), but in the meantime, I pulled three cards to answer the question, “Why is Lacey meowing so much?”

You’re all holding your breath awaiting the answer, I know... but I swear this is good reading practice. One of these days I’m going to take the leap and read for strangers, but not today. Today is Lacey’s day. Here’s what I got:

(Click to enlarge)
In the middle I see the space Lacey is occupying now: an uncrowded vista of land and sky. It’s the 1 of Air, aka the Ace of Swords, signaling a new beginning, a new way of thinking about life. Or, according to the Elemental's book, Saying what one thinks immediately. “Breath” is the keyword. Room to breathe! Breath to meow with!

To the right is the Tower: the enormous change in her life effected when she went from one of three (and at the bottom of the pecking order) to one and only. She landed, as cats do, on her feet -- her confidence and sociability have increased dramatically since then. But still, it’s a strange landscape -- it’s possible she may not be entirely as ease in it yet.

Now read the text along the left side of the Tower card. It says: Hear me - Learn from my word - You who know me. My mother broke out laughing when I read that to her. “Oh, I hear her alright,” she assured me.

On the left is 6 of Earth/Pentacles. Here there is sharing, giving, generosity. The book says, Celebration of one’s good fortune. Lucky cat, to be the sole recipient of human time and affection. Perhaps she meows to share what’s in her heart.

I interpret the reading to mean that Lacey is indeed happy and adjusting well to the dramatic change in her life, and that her vocalizations are part of the process of bonding more closely with my mother.

Being able to get a coherent reading on this question is further evidence to me that the Elemental is useful not just for serious issues, but for (please, please, forgive the pun) “fluffy” ones as well.

Comments and alternative interpretations are always welcome.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

PDR: Ace of Cups

I spent some enjoyable time flipping through the Elemental deck trying to identify my favorite card. Just one favorite? Not do-able. I did manage to whittle it down to three. My third-most favorite is the 1 of Water: Fountain, or in more conventional terms, the Ace of Cups.

I think the colors are a huge part of the appeal for me. Lavender and various shades of aqua... it’s a very soothing color scheme. I love the elegant simplicity of the shapes, too. (The word “Sin” below the image refers to the Babylonian moon god, not moral transgression.)

I have to admit that I’m often a bit uncomfortable when an Ace comes up in a reading. I think of an Ace as “Potential for _______” <-- fill in the blank according to the suit. There’s not much depth in that. When I try to push harder for meaning, I usually come up with stuff that seems equally applicable to the Page or Knight of that suit. But what does the Ace, and the Ace alone, communicate? I’m still feeling my way into that.

Here’s what the Elemental’s book says about this card: Excitement at the sudden birth of new feelings. Love awakening. A great release of emotional energy after a period of control. Overwhelming desire to express deep feelings. Love at first sight. Negatively: gullibility, one-sided love.

I often use the Elemental in comparative readings, so I went looking for other Aces of Cups that I’ve found attractive. Here’s the Anna K Ace of Cups: a serene woman draws an overflowing cup from a stream.

I’ve only had this deck for two days, so I don’t know if this card will remain a lasting favorite; but what appeals to me now is the novelty of having a person in the scene. I find it makes the card somehow more accessible. All the Anna K Aces have a person in the picture; it's possible that this may be the deck that helps me "get" the Aces at last.

My all-time favorite Ace of Cups is without a doubt the Ironwing:

Ahhh. Just look at that. I can feel the flow and release and unending abundance. I love it.

I'd be curious to hear if anyone else has a favorite Ace of Cups.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

PDR: Water the plants!

Sometimes the message is short and sweet. Thank goodness -- I’d begun to worry that the Elemental was only going to give me deep, thoughtful, resonant answers that then took hours to write up into blog posts.

This morning I shuffled the deck, thinking of the day ahead, wondering where I should focus my efforts. There were so many different possibilities for the day... I intended to draw two cards, but a third one jumped out.

Notice that the first card (click to enlarge), “Cloud,” shows an expanse of water, and, at bottom-center, rain is falling.
Water the plants, so they will thrive.

I laughed. We’re having a winter heat wave, and day after day the desert sun beats down on my garden. The drip irrigation system is off for the winter, and watering has been on my to-do list for at least a week now. I haven’t wanted the hassle of dragging the hose around, and draining it afterward. Poor plants. But today the message came through: What to do today? Water the plants!

So I did.

Monday, January 19, 2009

PDR: Whatever happened to Temperance?

This morning I did a reading for the upcoming day, a day I was feeling sour about because it was stuffed full of planned chores I did not want to do.
The first two cards -- Pentacles -- addressed the work-related aspects of the day. The third card, in the “Advice” position, is Temperance... or is it?

Take a closer look:

In the upper right-hand corner is the number 14. Above the image is the word “Peace.” Below the image is the word “Justice.” And along the sides of the image, there is text which reads: “I am the judgement and I am the acquittal.” Hmm. What do we have here?

What we have is one of the more idiosyncratic cards of this idiosyncratic deck. Ah, Elemental, I love you, but you are a creature unlike any other. If you had legs, you would march to a different drummer. If you were a horse, you’d be a horse of -- well, you get the idea.

So, if “Justice” and “Judgement” are written on the Temperance card, what’s on the Justice and Judgement cards? In case you’re wondering, here they are:

Now back to Card 14, the non-Temperance Temperance, my Advice for the day. A hawk-headed angel reaches down to gently comfort two grieving humans. Their tears water the ground, and give birth to flowers. The book’s input on this card reads:

Inner truth:
I need to express feelings based on what I experience in my heart rather than what would be socially expected or demanded of me.

Oh my, this exactly nails it for me. This is the transformation that’s been years in the making for me: to stop fighting my natural inclinations; to stop labeling them “lazy” or “antisocial” or what-have-you; to accept my internal resistances and gripes without trying to repress them or re-shape them.

The reference to what’s “socially expected or demanded” is specifically apt: the day’s workload was primarily the brainchild of my spouse (whose deathbed plaint will surely be, “Oh, if only I could have done more chores!”). To be at peace with my own maƱana-style approach to work, without self-reproach, has been one of my challenges in our marriage.

This card served as a lovely reminder to be at peace with myself, even as I faced a day I wasn’t enthusiastic about. Am I disgruntled about having to do these chores? Yes. And that’s fine. Am I hating this job even as I do it? Yes. And that’s fine. It’s not “bad” to be disgruntled; it’s not “wrong” to feel a surge of hatred. Feelings come, feelings go. Within is the still place around which all the external hubbub manifests and dissolves. Within is peace.

And so with that reminder, I went about my day. By late afternoon, when the bulk of work was done and a final, onerous chore loomed -- welcoming visitors arriving at my house for a meeting -- I felt extraordinarily happy, and truly pleased to see them. It was a remarkable transformation from how I felt when the day began. Peace, Temperance, whatever that card #14 is -- it was valuable advice today.

The Elemental has spoken

I've decided to use the Elemental tarot for my Primary Deck Reflections project. (I was won over by the Deck Interview in the previous post.) If you're not familiar with the deck and are curious, here are a few places where you can learn more:

Description at Aeclectic Tarot
Images from Tarot Garden
The creators' website, elementaltarot.com

The last site looks good; I'm going to have to go check it out myself.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Deck Interview with the Elemental

I’ve been dithering as to which deck to choose for the PDR project: Norse or Elemental. I love them both, and choosing one feels like rejecting the other. To help hasten the decision-making process, I decided to do a pair of Deck Interviews, beginning with the Elemental. I had read this post by souljourney, a fellow PDR participant, and was eager to try the spread. (I don’t know if this is a “public domain” spread, or something of her own creation, but either way I want to thank souljourney for it.)

Q1. What is your most important characteristic?
2 The Virgin (Receptivity)
Isn’t this a beautiful card? It would be the High Priestess in a conventional deck. A naked girl lies on the forest floor, trees arched protectively above her, full moon imbuing her skin with an otherworldly glow. An open book lies within her reach, but she’s asleep, the most vulnerable state, and totally relaxed, seeking nothing. There’s one vivid spot of color in the scene: the red rosebud beneath her hand. No, there’s a second spot of red: a drop of blood fallen from her finger where it brushed the rose’s thorn. Yet she sleeps on, oblivious of blood, rose, book, moon, wilderness, solitude, waking reality.

She’s only ever one moment away from waking up and becoming aware of her surroundings, of taking up the rose or putting it aside, of consulting the book’s wisdom, of being fully conscious and engaged with the external world.

So how does this card answer the question? This deck’s most important characteristic is... how it facilitates straddling that line between the conscious and the subconscious, the awake and the dreaming. I’ve felt it before in working with the Elemental: nothing as drastic as an altered state of consciousness, but nevertheless a sinking into the images, relaxing, experiencing an unfolding of meaning and associations and resonance. Receptivity.

Q2. What are your strengths as a deck?
Mother of Earth
This would be the Queen of Pentacles in a conventional deck. I associate her with groundedness, practicality, a kindly pragmatism. Down-to-earth. In strong contrast to Card #1, she is firmly rooted in the here and now. Look at how rays emanate from her womb (which is itself the flower of a stalk of grain growing from the field in which she stands). I see that as implying real, tangible, substantive results...

It’s as if she’s here to balance the otherworldliness of the Virgin. I’d like go deeper with the card, so I pull out the book to see if it has anything to add. It says those rays are a symbol of receptivity... thus reinforcing the message of the Virgin.

The otherworldly and the tangible brought together... a paradox? Only if the sacred and the mundane are seen as two separate realms. In fact, they are one.

Q3. What are your limits as a deck?
9 Shaman (Will)
One of my favorite cards from the deck, this is a re-interpretation of The Hermit. A robed figure stands stands atop a (double-breasted) hill, arms open to the storm clouds above. I can’t claim any familiarity with shamans, but I imagine them to be those who go between the “real” world and the spirit/divine/sacred world. Once again, the sacred and the mundane: the two realms that are one.

The keyword here is “Will,” and my immediate thought is, “Not my will be done, but thine.” How might this relate to the deck's limitations? That I might impose my own will inappropriately, as in being too “out there” with my interpretations?

It doesn't show in the images I’ve posted, but there is text around the perimeter of each of the Major Arcana. Now, the question this card is answering is, “What are my limits as a deck?”, and the text begins, “In my weakness do not forsake me...” Oh! That brings tears to my eyes. What I hear is, “I’m not perfect, but don’t reject me on that account.” I don’t know why that touches me, but it does.

Continuing on with the text: “Do not be afraid of my power.” What more might this imply about limitations? I'm certainly not afraid of working with the deck. Its power is quite invigorating, actually. Hmm.

Q4. What are you here to teach me?
4 of Water (Moat)
This would be the 4 of Cups in a conventional deck. One of the challenges of working with the Elemental is that I bring to it meanings derived from RWS -- but I also freely interpret the wildly idiosyncratic images and associations that are all its own. I don’t see that as a problem -- but as an opportunity. It’s like a fertile cross-pollination (as Mother of Earth signifies above, as the deck’s strength?).

At any rate, what this card brings up for me is: Hanging out with What Is. Afloat upon the waters -- in the in-between world of a moat -- is this serene and composed entity, third eye highlighted. Contained within her, a part of her in fact, is the anger and loss of control represented by the contorted face at her throat. (Is there some chakra-related significance to this card? I’m not smart enough about chakras to say.) Distress and serenity are both here, but the serenity prevails. It prevails by accepting the unpleasant, not fighting it or trying to oust it. This is how it is. Things are not perfect (echoing the Shaman card), but that’s fine. Maybe there’s a message here about my struggle to choose a deck: if I’m holding out for the perfect choice, I’m never going to find it. Things are as they are. And that’s good enough.

Comments are welcome.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Which deck to use for the AT Forum primary deck study?

Which deck should I choose for this purpose? My top candidates are Norse and Elemental, although I'm expecting a couple of other interesting decks in the mail soon. I decided to see if a reading could help me with the decision.

Q (for each deck): What if I choose this deck to study, and post my readings of it publicly on a blog?
DECK 1: Norse
DECK 2: Elemental

SPREAD: 3 cards, in tell-me-a-story style


9 of Discs ~ Princess of Cups ~ 9 of Cups

INTERPRETATION: (1) Solitary but materially-blessed woman alone with her treasures (2) playfully explores her intuitions, imagination and inner states, leading to (3) inviting others to join her, making personal connections.


1 of Fire ~ Father of Water ~ 8 of Water

INTERPRETATION: (1) An opportunity exists for dynamic creative exploration. (2) Ideas will flow freely, as will imagination and intuition, but a certain emotional aloofness may be maintained. (3) The experience of the inner self and its connection to the ground of being can expand and deepen... and deepen.

So, which deck? One seems to offer the possibility of interpersonal connections, the other the possibility of deepening self awareness. And I'm supposed to choose!

Well, if I'm looking to share my readings, and post them for public viewing, it seems that the social connection implied by the Norse is most fitting.

Yet the Elemental's implications resonate more powerfully with me.

And I love both decks. They're both speaking to me here.
The spare vistas and pure clear colors of the Norse make for images that are easy to read and full of clarity. The Elemental fires me up, engages me, delights me and makes me smile. And it challenges me -- it's a system unto itself, and requires more work to interpret (and more wild intuitive leaps as well).

So -- color me undecided. I'll sleep on it. And I don't want to close without mentioning the parallels in the two spreads. The second card in each is a Cups court (Page for Norse, King for Elemental), and the third card in each is another Cup (9 for Norse, 8 for Elemental). Nice! More to ponder...