Friday, 31 August 2012

Sacred Oracle

©Filidoro & Penco
For this last day with the Sacred Sites Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) we go to Delphi in Ancient Greece.

A woman sits on a three-legged stool, with mist around her feet.  She wears a diaphonous dress that leaves one breast uncovered, and a gold and jewelled necklace.  Her arms are raised, and we cannot see her hands.  What we do see is a crowd of people watching her, and a stone edifice all around, with a couple of candles shedding light behind her.

The Oracle at Delphi, often called the Pythia, was the most renowned prophesier of the ancient world.  Many ancient Greek tales tell of her being consulted by the rich and famous, kings and the like.  She is most famously described as the priestess of Apollo, but I have read in several sources, including here, that she was first priestess to the Goddess, and only later taken over by Apollo's cult.  Later, Christian, writers, portray her as crazed by volcanic fumes and speaking gibberish "translated" by a male priesthood, but that isn't the impression given in original Greek texts.

What has she to do with the Eight of Swords?  Well, certainly in a number of Greek myths her prophecies acted as mental traps for people.  For example, in the case of Oedipus, because people believed her prophecies they acted in ways that were unusual, and actually made them come true.  A father abandoning his first-born son to die, a prince leaving his home fearing he would commit atrocities.

In terms of the image, the priestess herself was in some ways trapped by convention.  As the priestess at Delphi, she had to fulfil her role, unable to leave and live a normal life.  Once again, trapped by social expectations and her own ideas.

What role do you feel duty-bound to fill?  How might your ideas be limiting you?  What do you gain from staying within the framework you have established for yourself?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sacred Tree

©Filidoro & Penco
Today's card from the Sacred Sites Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) is an absolutely stunning one!

This Queen of Swords is amazing, isn't she?  She stands in front of the walnut tree, with a sword in her hand, snakes all about her, a cat just behind her leg, and an owl above her.  In the background we see strange creatures: a man-sized toad with glowing yellow eyes; a gremlin creature, a beaked beast with large, pointy ears, and other dark shadows.  Yet the Queen seems unphased by it all. 

She has been through much, and isn't one to start at shadows.  She knows how to cut through the darkness, to see to the heart of the matter, and to heal it.  She is helped by the mushrooms to one side of her and the censer to the other.  I get the sense that part of her power is as an oracle, seeing beyond what most can fathom, and speaking that truth.

The LWB says: "Known as 'the city of witches', in ancient times this place was sacred to the Mother Goddess and often the site of pagan rituals."  Well, that makes sense of everything, then...  Not!

Thank goodness, then, for the internet.  One site, describes the Stregha (witches) of Benevento as gathering together under the walnut tree to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes.  They dance and drink strong spirits, and worship snakes (perhaps based on a cult of Isis).  Another gives a lovely fairytale, in which a poor, young man is helped out by beautiful witches who spring forth from the walnuts of the tree.  They give him great wealth, and help him win the love, and eventually the hand, of the local princess.  And both link the witches to the Goddess Diana.  A third makes no mention of Diana, but does once again mention Isis' snakes, though claiming that the walnut tree was amalgamated with a sacred Lombard tree on which bits of snakeskin were hung, to be snatched off and eaten as part of a test of strength and daring by young knights.  In all of these accounts, there is mainly mention of a single huge snake, and an exceedingly tall tree (under which large numbers could gather). 

Another aspect is the walnut itself, considered a dangerous tree which is "too damp" and can cause paralysis!  Obviously, those demonologists didn't know about its antioxidant properties and ability to improve fat processing.  Then there's the fact that walnuts look like human brains (if you were to crack someone's skull like you'd crack a nut shell, that is).  There are many claims that walnuts are good for your brain, due to their high Omega-3 content.  And they may even help you sleep!

With the Queen of Swords and the Walnut Tree of Benevento we find a combination of ideas.  That she is a sharp cookie, with a brain full of omega-3.  That she is wise in the ways of witches - gathering knowledge and herblore.  That, like a fairy godmother, she has a soft spot for the underdogs of life, so long as they're willing to make a go of things for themselves :) 

Who could you help out today with a few words of wisdom?  What recipes do you know that use walnuts?  How can you stay calm and logical in the face of prejudice?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sacred Volcano

©Filidoro & Penco
On this Wednesday close to the end of August the Sacred Sites Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) offers us an image of a world in flames, changed inrevocably. 

A very different picture of this archetype, and yet one that brings me a clear sense of "yes, this is what the Tower means!"  A massive volcanic explosion will change the face of the man's island home, and may also lead to a frightening ride on a stormy sea in his canoe.  Yet, after it is all over, there will be new, fertile land to farm.  Perhaps not tomorrow, but eventually.  And so this card reminds us both of the power and fearfulness of Tower events, and also of their growth potential.

The image is based on the eruption in 1883 of Krakatoa, in Indonesia.  Googling, I couldn't find anything suggesting Krakatoa is seen as a sacred place.  However, it would certainly fit with Hollywood ideas of propitiating volcano gods...

What situation may reverberate through your day?  What can you do to steer clear of dangerous waters?  How do you choose to respond to change?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Sacred Mountain

©Filidoro & Penco
Another King comes to visit today from the Sacred Sites Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012).  This time, it is the King of Cups, and another site from the British Isles: Croagh Patrick, a sacred mountain in Ireland. 

According to the LWB, this mountain is also known as The Reek, and was used by the ancient Celts to celebrate fertility rites, as well as being linked to St. Patrick.  Wikipedia makes no mention of the former, but gives far more detail on the latter.  It is claimed that St. Patrick fasted for 40 days at the top of this mountain, and at the end of that time defeated a she-demon and banished all snakes from Ireland.  Given the myth of Eve and the serpent, that suggests to me that he was anti-women, but maybe that's just a modern, feminist cynical perspective.  In any case, many pilgrims make their way there for the summer solstice, and some do the ascent barefoot.  That doesn't sound like much looking at the green and flowery landscape on this card, but check out some of the pics here.

A local website gives more details of other aspects of the mountain's history.  It seems there is a rock with ancient artwork on it, called the Boheh Stone, but it is neolithic, with cupmarks and just one or two circles.  As for Celtic occupation, there is evidence of a hill fort, but not of such a pretty celtic cross as shown on the card!

Given all the above, I can't see the figure on the card as St. Patrick, he seems a calm and gentle man, not a fiercesome demon-slayer and snake banisher :)  Rather, I imagine him as a celtic druid, a spiritual man both kind and wise, knowledgeable about the seasons of life both at the level of plants and planets, as well as being able to counsel the human heart.

What are you willing to sacrifice for spiritual enlightenment?  How can you get more in touch with the flow of life?  Will you listen to your own heart today?

Monday, 27 August 2012

Sacred Glastonbury

©Filidoro & Penco
Even the Court cards in the Sacred Sites Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012) are located in particular places, as well as with appropriate figures. 

Here we have the King of Swords, associated with the ruins of Glastonbury.  A bearded old man stands at the base of a hill on which we see ruins, with a tower at the top, and a path leading up to it.

In fact, this seems to be a melange of the ruins at Glastonbury Tor with those of Glastonbury Abbey.  While there are claims that Glastonbury is the site of the Apple Isle - Avalon, from the Arthurian myth - there is not much evidence of this.  Still, it has become a centre of New Age shops, centres, therapists, spirituality, and of course music festivals.  In a somewhat bizarre twist, it is also a pilgimage site for Christians.

I guess the card is suggesting, with this wise-looking old man, the Druids of yore on Avalon, with their great learning and wisdom.  Or he could be a pilgrim or priest, drawn to the site where Joseph of Arimathea is said to have brought Jesus.  In either case, someone of wisdom and devotion, book-learning and experience.

How can you bring your mind to bear on your situation?  What past experience might help clarify what is going on at the moment?

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sacred Scariness

©Filidoro & Penco
Just two days after the last time, a rather different Seven of Swords visits us from the Sacred Sites Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012).

At first I was rather suprised to see all that water in a card that forms part of the "Places of Air" suit, as the LWB terms it.  It made more sense when I saw the "location", as the Bermuda Triangle covers land, sea and air!

Renowned as a dangerous area where people and craft of all kinds go missing, I see it connected to the notion of treachery that is sometimes associated with the Seven of Swords.  However, it also fits with the idea of research - as people try to delineate the triangle, or debunk the myth ;)

The image itself makes me think of things that are hidden, and those that are not what they seem.  There is an edge of romance mixed in with the danger, too...

What dangers do you face today?  How can you uncover what is hidden in your life?  Do you choose to focus on what you can grasp, or on what is unclear?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Sacred Lovers

©Filadoro & Penco
This week I have chosen to work with the Sacred Sites Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2012).  This is a rather non-traditional "art" deck from Lo Scarabeo, associating each card with a "magical place" from around the world.

For this first day, I pulled the Lovers card :)  A man and woman stand in a lily pond, hands enlaced.  Around them swim coi karp and a couple of ducks, while on a nearby piece of land an antlered stag looks on.  Above the couple rises a statue, which at first glance I would guess is Artemis/Diana, and in the distance is a hill or mound.

The sense I get here is of making a choice, but it being seen as a sacred act.  Our choices do not only affect ourself, and there is a recognition of that fact in choosing in a way that expresses our commitment to something beyond ourself.

The LWB is typical Lo Scarabeo: "The Sacred Forest of Nemi: The wise King Numa and the Nymph Egeria consummated their love here in this site sacred to Diana.  The king learnt the secrets of the sacred thaumaturgy from Egeria."  That's all!

So, I did a bit of research: here is a picture of the actual site, as well as a pagan perspective on it.  There are quite a few links made between the Sacred Forest of Nemi and the Great Rite: Western spiritual sexuality/alchemy (see here and here).

I was also unclear as to what thaumaturgy is.  The answer I found most helpful is from Wikipedia, which explains that thaumaturgy was originally seen as the working of miracles, as per the saints.  It later came to mean magical-seeming mechanical devices, but I'm guessing that a nymph would be more likely to teach magic than engineering ;)

All told, I'm not sure any of that really changes or adds to my original impression of the card...

What choices do you have to make today?  How may they affect others?  Do you see an aspect of the sacred in your decisions?

Friday, 24 August 2012

Stella's Scheme

©Stella Kauruko
For this last day drawing from Stella's Tarot (AG Muller, 2008), I pulled the Seven of Swords.

This is quite an unusual take on the card.  No figure sneaks away with a stash of swords.  Rather, a man sits at a table, as though studying.  In front of him are a candle, a book, a scroll, some calipers, and a globe.  Swords radiate out behind him - his thoughts directed out to the world from where he sits - and his studying has drawn to him a red star, symbol of hope and new direction.

Of course, if we want to see the traditional meaning of sneakiness, deception or theft, that's still possible.  He could be a magician, drawing somebody else's star to him through his wily ways.  Even then, it would have an aspect of "working smarter, not harder" to it :)

What ideas could you look into today?  How can you use your time and resources most effectively?  

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Stella's Knight

©Stella Kauruko
As we approach the end of the week, a Court card comes a-calling from Stella's Tarot (AG Muller, 2008): the calm and practical Knight of Disks.

 I notice the way this Knight's horse walks towards the future calmly.  Unlike many Knights of Wands or Swords, there is no gung-ho charging into whatever may come, but rather a steady pace that covers the ground.  Moving like this allows the Knight of Disks to pay attention to his surroundings, and certainly he seems more intent on them than on the coin that floats above his up-raised hand.  He seems to say: "Good fortune will come if you pay attention to the practical details of what's going on, and move forward steadily."  No emotional outbursts, quick-fire comments, or passionate activism for him, he sticks with reality and just gets on with stuff.

For a long time, I didn't really appreciate this Knight's energy.  To me, he seemed rather plodding and, dare I say, boring.  However, a recent post by Ali over at This Game of Thrones changed my perspective :)  This kind of practical groundedness definitely has it's benefits: he gets things done, without fuss, and they stay done!

What do you need to get done today?  How can you be more practical in your approach to it?  Can you take some time to appreciate where you are?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Stella's Star

©Stella Kauruko
Another charming card greets us today from Stella's Tarot (AG Muller, 2008).  This time, it is a rather hopeful Nine of Wands, connecting us subtly with the Star's energy.

Instead of an injured figure looking rather overwhelmed next to a row of wands, here we have someone who seems well-dressed and quite comfortable, with his sunny yellow hat, lace at his nech, and golden wrist cuffs and belt.  He has gone that step further, digging a hole, or maybe a whole underground complex, to keep him safe. 

At this moment, though, he is being tempted to return to the world, to hope and trust.  A star falls, glimmering with magical sparkles, right into his up-turned palm.  And the sun seems about to rise on the far horizon.  On top of that, around one of the wands a snake twines, suggesting that transformation is just around the corner.

Although we may have created a safe, defended position for ourselves, this card invites us to open up a little, to bring new hope to our lives.

 How can you let down your defenses a bit today?  What plans might you bring some newfound energy to?  In what way do you feel the need for transformation?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Stella's Cat

©Stella Kauruko
Today's card from Stella's Tarot (AG Muller, 2008) is another card from the Swords suit - the Five.

A cat looks on smugly as two other figures walk away.  Two swords still lie on the floor abandoned, while the cat holds three in his green-gloved hands.  He wears an ornate outfit, with a pentacle-decorated flower emblem on his chest and lace at his throat.  I love the amazing clouds that roil above, looking almost more like waves.  And the land is blue as the sea, shaped like rolling dunes.

With this card, I get a sense of things being topsy-turvy.  The cat is smug while the people have to give up their plans; the sky above is more like the sea below; and our footing is uncertain, as we walk a land that is an unnatural colour.  This card speaks of how we feel when our plans have gone awry, when our ideas no longer fit our circumstances, and we're not quite sure how we got to where we are.

What can you do today to get back on track?  What change in your perspective would help you move forward?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Stella's Nightmares

©Stella Kauruko
Ack, what a way to start a Monday morning!  The card that greets us today from Stella's Tarot (AG Muller, 2008) is the Nine of Swords.

An eerie eye peers in through an arch on a person in their bed.  To make matters worse, various animals and objects float above the bed - an owl, a whale, a broken column, a shield, and something else I can't make out.  In any case, the implication is clear: fearful thoughts plague our mind, banishing sleep.  And perhaps, with those nightmares to torment us, we'd rather not sleep.  Yet, even awake, the thoughts don't stop whirling around in our minds...

What worries do you have going round in your mind?  Does making a list help get them out of your head?  How can you turn your thoughts in a more productive direction?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Stella's Emperor

©Stella Kauruko
Today's card from Stella's Tarot (AG Muller, 2008) is the Emperor.

He seems like a bit of a softy, surrounded by pastel colours.  Still, I notice the way his arms are held tight to his body, and his legs are crossed in the traditional Emperor pose.  He also has the ram head symbols on his chair, though they look almost more like chihauhaus :D  Although the floor beneath him is in shades of apricot or pink, they are still in a fixed, diamond pattern, suggesting he's someone who likes clear structures in his life.

We all create patterns in our lives: we are creatures of habit.  We may like or dislike those habits, but they can be pretty hard to break.  Perhaps the question here is how mindful we are of those habits...

What habits do you have?  Would you like to change any of them?  What might you replace them with?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Stella's Tower

©Stella Kaoruko
This week I have decided to draw from the rather dreamy and fanciful Stella's Tarot (AG Muller, 2008).  The first card up is once again the Tower!  Looking at my stats, it is the card that has come up most often on this blog, bar none! 

So, what can we learn from the Tower?  This version suggests that we can gain insight into what needs destroying in our lives, what we need to let go in order to release the pressure building up inside us, to move on in a more productive, less rigid way.  It is by looking inward and being willing to acknowledge what is wrong, and what needs changing, that we can begin to free ourselves.

What structures in your life have you outgrown?  How can you start to move forward again?  What do you need to let go of?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Ananda Spheres

©Kurt Pilz
For this last double-draw with the Ananda Tarot (AGM Müller/Urania, 2003) and the Wheel of Change Tarot (Inner Traditions, 1997) we have another Minor: the Four of Spheres/Disks (Pentacles).

Both decks once again offer a very non-traditional approach to this card.  In the Ananda we see the moon, a bright star, a small translucent sphere, and a larger translucent sphere, all forming a line down the centre of the card.  Between the two spheres, a bird flies, and the larger, lower sphere floats just above a stone staircase, leading we-know-not-where.  The rather scraggly bushes around the stone structure are reflected in the sphere, as are the more distant rocky mountain peaks.  The landscape seems still illuminated by the last rays of the sun, while the night sky shines with stars above.

Perhaps the spheres are being created within the stone structure, and then floating up into the sky.  Whatever the case, the feeling I get is one of "as above, so below": there is a connection between the translucent sphere which reflects the world, and the moon which reflects the light of the sun.  Our creations, when we let them go, spread out into the world with effects we cannot predict.

©Alexandra Genetti
The Wheel of Change image is equally non-traditional, though in a very different way.  It reminds me, if anything, of the Four of Wands!  Four apple halves are centred within a square of apple-blossom covered branches.  Their cut sides show the pentacle shape within formed by their seeds.  Around the cut branches is tied a red ribbon, and a bee (another Goddess symbol) drinks from one of the blooms.  Beneath this is a green field, with four trees, each one showing the signs of a different season - summer in the foreground, spring to the right, autumn to the left, and the bare branches of winter at the back.  The sun shines through the centre of the apple display.

This card feels like one of abundance.  Perhaps, in that sense, it is related to traditional ideas around the Four of Pentacles.  It shows that the plenty in our lives is affected by the seasons, by nature, by the divine.  It makes me think of a quote from the bible: "3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck" (Ecclesiastes).  We can best husband our resources if we correctly see the right time for each.

The message I see in these cards, then, is about "letting go and letting god(dess)".  About knowing what we can and can't control, and of allowing what is.  

What might you need to let go of today?  How can you best husband your resources?  What are you releasing into the world?  How will you know the time is right?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ananda Flames

©Kurt Pilz
For this sixth day with the Ananda Tarot (AGM Müller/Urania, 2003) and the Wheel of Change Tarot (Inner Traditions, 1997) we finally have one of the regular Minors - not an Ace or a Court card.

As well as having renamed some of the suits, the images for the pips are mostly non-traditional in the Ananda.  So, here we have the Nine of Flames, showing another enormous sky, and a verdant landscape beneath it.  There seems to be a frame at the front of the card, and nine beams of light piercing up through the sky.  The lagest beam cuts in front of the frame, and all nine beams rise up through the light cloud into the ever-bluer sky above.  None, though pierces into the dark of space above the atmosphere.

This card speaks to me of seeking to illuminate the world around us, to see a little further than ordinary vision allows.  It also speaks of choosing where to focus our energy.  Not letting it disperse all over the place, but giving it a clear frame, and not trying to go beyond what it possible.  Too often, we feel we should be able to do it all - to fulfill all the social roles expected of us as employee/er, partner, parent, child.  Sometimes, though, that's just not possible, and we need to focus on what we can do, right here and right now...

©Alexandra Genetti
The Wheel of Change Tarot also has rather non-traditional pips, though in a very different way.  I love the nine kangaroos bounding across the top of the card, as well as the nine didgeridoos in the lower half of the card - each painted differently.  The companion book tells some of the myths of how they were invented and how they are connected with male fertility.  There is also a female fertility painting on the wall behind them. 

So, does this say something about us defending ourselves through moving fast (the kangaroos)?  Or else through learning to combine male and female aspects?  Perhaps, though, once again we need to leave RWS interpretations behind. 

This card speaks of the Dreamtime, the need to connect not only with our own inner being, but with the land around us.  That way lies strength, inner integration, and the ability to act with speed and determination.  We need to push beyond our normal understanding, to connect with things outside ourselves, in order to grow.

Very different messages, then, from these two variations on the Nine of Wands.  Both seem to emphasise seeing beyond the everyday, though, looking at the world around us with different eyes. 

How can you look at the world with fresh eyes?  What integration would serve you well today?  Which limits do you need to accept?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Ananda Sun

©Kurt Pilz
The Ananda Tarot (AGM Müller/Urania, 2003) and the Wheel of Change Tarot (Inner Traditions, 1997) seem to be taking the mickey, as we say here.  Today the met office predicts rain, thunderstorms, and perhaps a peek of sunshine between 7pm and 8.20pm when the sun sets :(

I absolutely adore the Ananda's sky mandalas!  We had a dark mandala yesterday, and today we have a light one, centred on a pale and distant sun.  Beneath the blue sky, mandala sun, and green-tinged clouds we have a small segment of green landscape; rolling hills, pine forests, and some a higher hill or low mountain in the misty background.

The light of the sun shines down on the landscape and the sky is huge and wide, giving the card a feeling of spaciousness.  Our awareness is ripe to expand, seeing beyond the everyday sun to the illumination it offers us.  There is definitely a feeling of possibility in this card, and perhaps a sense of newness in the untouched landscape and sky.

©Alexandra Genetti
The Wheel of Change is once again startlingly different.  Here we have a variation on the traditional two children: this time both boys, one dark-skinned and one pale.  The boys stand hand-in-hand amid a garden of sunflowers.  Around them is a ring of stones, decorated in rainbow colours - 12 to be precise, including black at the top and white at the bottom.  The same ring of colours surrounds the sun which shines above them, with little red licks of sunbeams coming off it.  Above is a starry night sky, and an archway frames the whole scene. 

This card also has a sense of newness and possibility to it, but also an acknowledgement of the power of diversity to bring new thoughts and potentials.  It is not by being the same, thinking the same, that we come up with new ideas, but rather by being challenged, by seeing things we don't know or understand.

The sun with its strange red curls makes me think of Jung and his idea of the collective unconscious.  This came to him, in part, because he saw similarities between his patients' dreams and visions (in one case of a sun with a tube that created the wind), and myths and symbolism from around the world.  For Jung, the Sun represents our self, the bright light that guides us, and through which we see and understand the world.  In the Wheel of Change image, that light shines on our differences and our similarities, which walk hand-in-hand and bring us to experience the world as new and exciting.

What possibilities are opening up today?  How can you see the world anew?  What can you do today to bring a bit of brightness to your life?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Ananda Ace

©Kurt Pilz
For this Tuesday morning, the Ananda Tarot (AGM Müller/Urania, 2003) and the Wheel of Change Tarot (Inner Traditions, 1997) suggest new beginnings, with the Ace of Spheres/Disks (Pentacles).

A pinprick of sunshine pierces the darkness in the Ananda image, creating a mandala of lighter shades within the dark clouds.  It also casts its light on a darkly translucent sphere that sits upon a wall or battlement.  Below and in the distance we see a swampy landscape dotted with trees, which is also reflected in the sphere.

The Ananda Ace of Spheres seems extremely ethereal for a Pentacles card, not earthy at all.  I guess, though, it does rest on a pretty solid-looking wall.  Perhaps a reminder that our spirit grows from a grounded foundation, and that we are each a tiny part of the whole, reflecting it as well as being a part of it.

©Alexandra Genetti
The Wheel of Change image couldn't be more different, more rooted in physicality.  The earth itself takes centre stage, on a background of starry black sky. Around this is an off-set square frame, with coloured beads. Inset are four tableaux of a tree through the seasons - autumn and winter in the top two pictures, spring and summer in the lower half.  Above the frame, the top half of the card shows a pastoral scene, green fields, trees bright with pink blossom.  Below, we see a cactus-filled, barren mountain landscape. 

This card would work quite nicely for those that use reversals :) It's also a good mix of colours, both earthy browns, reds and greens, with blues, white and black thrown in.  It speaks to me of the whole spectrum of physical experience: the relaxing and the challenging; the warm and the cold; the small and

How can you cement your foundations today?  What new perspective on the physical world can you explore?  How can you keep the planet in mind, respecting it through your actions?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Ananda Knight

©Kurt Pilz
Today's card from the Ananda Tarot (AGM Müller/Urania, 2003) and the Wheel of Change Tarot (Inner Traditions, 1997) is a Court card, but exactly which one?  The Ananda Tarot has Kings, Knights, Queens and Princesses, while the Wheel of Change offers us Princes, Princesses, Knights and Queens.  So, having drawn the Knight of Flames from the Ananda, I matched him with the Prince of Wands from the Wheel of Change, as they are both the younger male aspects of their respective decks.

The Ananda Court cards take famous people as their models, and so here we have Jim Morrison of The Doors.  I have to agree that he seems quite a good match for this card's energy - dynamic, charismatic, a spiritual seeker, highly sexual, passionate, driven, yet also immature.

The companion book says: "The stubborn, somewhat explosive character that is represented by the Knight of Flames embodies a hot-blooded creature with the ability to get things started, to open paths, and to reach his goal with certain aim.  Not in long-term, but in short-term use of collected energy,"

©Alexandra Genetti
The Wheel of Change Prince is a very different character.  Dressed in native American garb and holding a talking stick, he stands in front of a painted totem pole at the top of a hill.  A raven flies above smoke that billows from a fire by the pole, while in the valley below we see trees and rocks and a path that leads over mountains to the sea.  To the left of the card is a night sky, while wind-driven clouds streak across a blue sky to the right. 

Altogether, there is something strange going on with the perspective on this card.  The Prince stands on a hill of yellowed grass, yet from his perspective he seems to look down on snow-capped mountains.  The totem pole seems to rise up from the fire in front of him, with trees behind it, yet lower down we can still see the unbroken vista to the mountains and sea.  Perhaps this is to indicate something about the magical nature of his communing with the elements, and with raven.

While the Ananda Tarot Knight speaks to me of creativity, passion and drive, the Wheel of Change Prince seems more about communing with spirit, about  a strong sense of belief and valuing the old ways.

How can you spend some time communing with spirit today?  What music inspires you? How can you express your creativity today?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Ananda Priestess

©Kurt Pilz
Today's card from the Ananda Tarot (AGM Müller/Urania, 2003) and the Wheel of Change Tarot (Inner Traditions, 1997) is another Major, next in line, in fact: the High Priestess.

In the Ananda Tarot I see a rather androgynous figure again.  This time, though, it's not just a face in the sky, but a whole body, wearing a loose, white cowled robe.  She stands with her lower body lost in stars and a cratered moon, while her upper body lifts to a bright light.  At her sacrum is a transparent sphere, lit by a single glowing star beneath, and between her hands a soft glow forms.  In the background is a forest, with rocky mountains looming out of an illuminated mist.

She makes me think of being in tune with the cycles of the cosmos, of drawing down the moon, and tapping in to intuition.  Though she is rooted in the deep mysteries of space and time, she brings this wisdom into the light of day, birthing it in silence and darkness.

©Alexandra Genetti
The Wheel of Change's High Priestess is also amazing.  She sits in the centre of two trees, one with yellow leaves, the other bare-branched.  A spider has woven her web between the two trees, directly over the Priestess' head.  Behind her we see the earth from space and a deep night sky, with a crescent moon and four bright stars.  She wears a blue robe that echoes the night sky, and a crescent moon headdress, as well as a red-trimmed black coat.  She is old and wise, an owl sitting behind her on one of the bare branches.  In her lap she holds a basket, containing vowels which represent both "the ancient wisdom of writing" and a connection to the Goddess.  As all five vowels ar there, they symbolise all the stages of life and death - the circle of experience.

I love this sentence from the companion book (a 383 page tome that is beautifully presented, as well as wise): "This card represents the truth of woman's power: that it is enduring and long-lived, coming from within and from subtle knowledge".

Here, then, we have two aspects of the Goddes, the maiden and the crone.  Both are intent on knowledge that goes beyond the everyday struggle to birth and care for children, and put food on the table.  So, each in her own way, is connected to looking at esoteric knowledge, unhampered by the demands of family.  Each is a different kind of wisdom, though of course the crone embodies both, having lived through all the other stages and their learnings.

How can you tap into your intuition today?  Who do you associate with more, the maiden or the crone?  What do you hear when you listen to your inner voice?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Ananda Magician

©Kurt Pilz
This week I decided to go for two very different decks, and yet which do have some similarities.  The Ananda Tarot (AGM Müller/Urania, 2003) is a modern-looking deck, including photographic images that have been redrawn/coloured to look hand-painted.  It has a great beauty, openness and apparent simplicity to it, despite detailed images.  The Wheel of Change Tarot (Inner Traditions, 1997) is a more naturalistic deck, with bright colours, abundant details and a slightly cartoony style.  However, they both have somewhat non-traditional fully illustrated pips, and a magical feel to them.  So, I wondered what insights might be gained by comparing them...

For this first draw with these two decks I pulled the Magician.  Interestingly, in both decks this shows a somewhat androgynous figure. 

The Ananda version shows a face in the void of space, with rainbow colours spiraling out in pleats, a visual representation of the energy being chanelled, and how it moves from the Magician into the world.  Underneath the face there is a little blue sphere, a larger red sphere, a blue-green swirl, and a multi-coloured sphere, perhaps representing the four suits - blue for air/swords, red for fire/wands (renamed in this deck Flames), blue-green for water/cups, and multi-coloured for earth/pentacles (renamed Spheres).  A bright light shines at the Magician's brow chakra: the point of wisdom and seeing beyond the mundane.  It is through that insight that the Magician can determine how to direct all that energy to best effect.

©Alexandra Genetti
The Wheel of Change Magician seems far more shamanistic.  A blue-robed figure with four arms holds the four suit symbols: a flaming torch (Wands), an eight-spoked wheel, like the pagan wheel of the year (Disks), a cup from which a flame rises towards his heart (Cups) and a sword, held at the ready but not aggressively (Swords).  The Magician stands between two pillars.  Snakes curl around the two pillars, suggesting the raising of kundalini energy: the energy of universal consciousness within each being.  Above the Magician, we see a lemniscate painted onto a blue starscape, and he stands on a tiled floor which seems to be made up of the backgrounds from various cards, including this one.  Outside the open-walled building in which the Magician stands is a lovely green landscape with a path leading to a high mountain, over which the sun rises. 

Both images speak to me of energy: where we draw it from, and where we direct it to.  They also speak of where the insight comes from on which we base our decisions.  The wisdom of the universe is seen in the starry sky of both images, and the bright light of illumination in the point of light at the Ananda Magician's brow, and in the sun illuminating the Wheel of Change Magician.

How can you draw on the energy of the universe to help you with your plans?  What wisdom guides your actions today?  Where do you choose to direct your energy?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Crystal Choices

©Permutt & Garner
For this last day with the Crystal Tarot (Cico Books, 2010) and the Herbal Tarot (U.S. Games, 1978), we meet Chalcanthite and Juniper Berries, aka the Seven of Cups.

The Crystal Tarot version, with its non-illustrated pips, doesn't say much to me.  Seven golden chalices spilling water amongst themselves, with a pretty blue rock in each.  I guess their pattern is imbalanced, they could not stand like that.  Therefore, they must float, held up by who-knows-what force.  Which is rather Seven of Cups-like: fantasies that may not hold up to the clear light of day.

As for chalcanthite, this crystal helps us be more decisive - choosing our path, rather than "wandering into the realms of self-delusion."  The book also suggests seeking council from your spirit guides.

©Tierra & Cantin
The Herbal Tarot, on the other hand, shows a traditional depiction of seven cups floating amongst the clouds, with different objects in each.  There is a snake, a mask, jewellery, a castle, a heart, a wreath, and a dragon.  So many options, but which is real and which illusory.  Is the wreath a crown for a victor, or a pall for the dead?  Does the castle welcome us in or lock us out? 

The LWB talks of "the impact of thoughts in creating daily reality."  It offers us Juniper Berries, which are a diuretic, carminative, and aromatic, used for urinary disorders, fluid retention and diabetes, as well as to aid digestion.  I'm not quite clear on how these relate to the Seven of Cups.  Perhaps in that we "digest" our emotions, which influence our choices and thoughts...

What choices do you face today?  How can you process your options and choose your reality? 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Crystal Romantic

©Permutt & Garner
Today's card from both the Crystal Tarot (Cico Books, 2010) and the Herbal Tarot (U.S. Games, 1978) is a rather sweet one - the Page of Cups.

In the Crystal Tarot, this Court card is associated with actinolite.  The book suggests this stone helps develop the skills and abilities needed in dealing with being sensitive, which can be both a gift and a drawback.  It also talks of curiosity being either a strength or weakness.  So, a lot of traits which need to be managed to make the most of them :)  Another site talks of this stone being a psychic shield, which is probably how it helps someone sensitive develop the ability to shield themselves.

The image itself shows us a young man in shades of green, blond hair blowing in the sea breeze.  He holds a large golden chalice in his right hand and looks towards it.  Meanwhile, waves lap the seashore in the background, and pieces of actinolite rest at his black-booted feet.  He seems quite dashing - young and romantic - and willing to look deeply into the emotional realm, while his dress suggests that he can be quite grounded, even when feelings flow in and around him.

©Tierra & Cantin
The Herbal Tarot present a rather different image.  A large Damiana plant grows by the side of a stream, next to which our Page sits, one foot plunged in the still waters, the other resting firmly on the bank.  A cup rests on the surface of the water, a fish poking cheekily out of it.

The positioning of his feet lends the card a similar feel to the Crystal Tarot: a combination of emotionality and practicality.  The LWB states that Damiana is an aphrodisiac, so something to stimulate that openness to new love, I guess...  The Page doesn't look at the cup or the fish on the stream, but rather gazes at the plant by his side.  Looking for love externally, rather than within himself. 

How can you protect yourself from overwhelming emotion?  Can you be open to new love, in one form or another?  What can you do to connect with your emotions today?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Crystal Emotions

©Permutt & Garner
Another grey and humid day faces us here in the UK, but the Crystal Tarot (Cico Books, 2010) and the Herbal Tarot (U.S. Games, 1978) seem undeterred by the English weather.  Instead, they bring lightness and joy to the day, in the form of the Six of Cups.

In the Crystal Tarot, this card is associated with agate.  The book says this crystal helps by "giving you the emotional strength you need to say what you are feeling."  This seems a rather idiosyncratic interpretation for this card, so often seen as linked to innocent emotions, gifts, or a resurgence of something from the past. 

The image resonates more with those ideas, with six cups arranged in a balanced manner.  There are two columns of three cups, each holding a colourful, striated agate, with three more of these pretty pinkish stones in a little pile between the two columns.  From each cup water flows into the one beneath, in a manner reminiscent of champagne fountains.  While this card doesn't really speak of childhood, it does seem full of emotional giving (pink being a colour of love, friendship and the heart chakra), and complementarity.

©Tierra & Cantin
The Herbal Tarot returns us to more traditional iconography, with its image of a young boy offering a slice of watermelon to a girl, who seems hesitant to take it.  This is a far more bucolic scene than the RWS image, set in a green meadow with a stream running through and snow-capped mountains in the distance.  The snow seems out of place with the watermelon that dominates the card, and which I associate with the warmth of summer.

The LWB's meanings, too, do not resonate with me.  The watermelon itself is said to be a diuretic and refrigerant, and under divinatory meanings it says: "Childish games. Only playing at love."  Neither are ideas I had ever thought of for this card, nor is it clear to me why this would be associated with a diuretic.  Though I guess a refrigerant to cool the passions so you can see the love isn't real might make sense...

What emotional discussion might you need to have today?  How can you express emotional generosity?  Where in your life could you do with bringing some child-like innocence and joy to the fore?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Crystal Sun

©Permutt & Garner
What a beautiful, cheerful card for this August day!  The Crystal Tarot (Cico Books, 2010) and the Herbal Tarot (U.S. Games, 1978) offer us the Sun, bright and warm.  Though the weather outside doesn't match - it's supposed to be cloudy and rainy most of the day here :(

I adore this image from the Crystal Tarot, so gorgeously child-like and full of delight.  A child stands in a field, with four sunflowers reaching for the bright sun that dominates the sky.  Beautifully sparkling imperial topaz lies at the feet of the flowers, and there is a feeling of growth and abundance to the card, as well as warmth. 

Imperial Topaz, according to the book: "brings illumination and enlightenment to your mind: a universal connection to everything and a feeling of oneness."  It is also said to bring "mental energy, creative thoughts, and ideas, helping you manifest your goals."

©Tierra & Cantin
The Herbal Tarot version of the Sun is very different.  A huge Angelica dominates, with a yellow sun in the background with red sunbeams that end in hands, one of which holds an Ankh.  I'm sure there's symbolic history and significance here, perhaps even written about by Jung.  No mention is made of it, though, in the LWB, and I couldn't find it with a quick search.  Sadly, I don't have time for more today...

As for the Angelica connection, it is a stimulant which "warms the blood and promotes circulation, and counteracts rheumatic problems and body stiffness."  So, bringing back a sense of vibrancy - nice!

How can you feel more at one with life today?  What would warm you, both literally and metaphorically?  How can you feel more alive today?

Monday, 6 August 2012

Crystal Celebration

©Permutt & Garner
On this Monday morning, things are looking cheerful, at least from the perspective of the Crystal Tarot (Cico Books, 2010) and the Herbal Tarot (U.S. Games, 1978).  Today's card is the celebratory Three of Cups.

In the Crystal Tarot, this card is associated with the watermelon tourmaline, a crystal which is as beautiful as its name sounds.  The companion book states that: 'watermelon tourmaline is a "feel better" stone, welcoming fun and humor as well as love into your life.'  One suggestion which seems appropriate to a Monday is to "apply your social networking skills to achieve your aims," ;) 

The image seems to support this interpretation, as water flows from one cup into the next, and happy little waves dance across the background.  Plus there's the delicious-looking crystals - good enough to eat, and sure to bring a sense of lightness to any day.

©Tierra & Cantin
The Herbal Tarot associates this card with Trillium, which has a multitude of medicinal uses, including "most feminine disorders" and "childbirth".  I guess it's associated with this card because of the link to female support networks.  It might suggest a midwife, for example: not an interpretation I would normally come up with!  The LWB also mentions celebration and enjoyment, and even the reversed meaning it gives is "satisfaction with life" :)

As for the image, three women in different coloured dresses dance around an enormous trillium stalk, with a pretty, three-petalled flower and leaves.  It feels like the herb protects them as they celebrate being together and enjoying life.

What connections would you like to make today?  Who can you rely on?  How can you bring some fun and humour into your day?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Crystal Knight

©Permutt & Garner
A Court card comes a-visiting today from the Crystal Tarot (Cico Books, 2010) and the Herbal Tarot (U.S. Games, 1978) - the fiery Knight of Wands.

In the Crystal Tarot version we see a red-haired young man upon a white horse, draped in a blue-green cloth.  The man wears an orange overtunic, decorated with a wand that is the suit emblem for the pips of his element.  The associated crystal is Kyanite, of which the book says: "Kyanite will aid communication skills on all levels and help slow you down, so you don't fly past and miss opportunities."  That fits well with notions of this Knight charging off gamely chasing whatever has most recently caught his fancy :)

The image makes me think of the way we often miss what is right under our noses, so intent are we on some goal, real or imagined.  I wonder what is under the horse's dress...  Okay, I couldn't find the official name for that kind of thing, though a soft pad that goes under the saddle is called a numnah - I kid you not!  The point is, the Knight may not know what is going on right underneath him, as his focus is out there in the world. 

©Tierra & Cantin
The Herbal Tarot Knight of Wands wears an armoured helm, so he too may not have as broad a vision as one might wish for.  Going on foot, he looks determined, resolute.  The herb he is associated with is Aconite, a poisonous herb.  The LWB warns that aconite should only be used in a detoxified form or in minute homeopathic doses.  As such, it is a metabolic stimulant.

Personally, I would have thought that the Knight of Wands would need the opposite - something to calm him down.  I guess, though, that aconite would help give someone his energy and hot-bloodedness...

What quest are you on?  Who or what inspires you to act?  How can you take some time to also acknowledge what is already in your life?

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Crystal Rest

©Permutt & Garner
This week I decided to use two decks which both give different associations to the cards.  The Crystal Tarot (Cico Books, 2010) suggests the best stone to match each tarot card, while the Herbal Tarot (U.S. Games, 1978) recommends plant helpers.  For this first draw I pulled the Four of Swords

The Crystal Tarot shows four swords hanging point up in the air, with clouds floating around.  There are two chunks of purple stone beneath them, as well as purple gems in their pommels.  The book indicates that the stone is charoite.  I wish that the stone was actually identified on the card, as I don't like always having to consult the LWB (though it is quite a nice one, and neither little nor white).

Anyhow, the book informs us: "Charoite makes meditation easier, bringing clarity to the mind and stillness to the body."  I like the recommendation to "focus on your heart chakra and use this as a time for healing and rejuvenation".

©Tierra & Cantin
The Herbal Tarot has more traditional RWS-style pips.  In this case, a man lies slumped against a rock, a sword by his left hand, with three more floating point down above him.  There is also a large Mullein plant growing next to him, and the name of the plant is on the card (otherwise I'd never recognise them, though I'm trying to learn).  Amongst other uses, mullein is a mild calmative.  However, the book also mentions it being an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and used for upper respiratory complications and congestion, as well as for topical pain relief!  In terms of divinatory meanings, the LWB (this time both L and W) says: "Healing from the wounds of battle."

Interestingly, then, both versions suggest this is a card of healing, and link it specifically with the chest.  I often see the Four of Swords more as being about preparing for what is still to come, but I guess you first need to recover from what has already happened.

How can you take some time to rest today?  What healing do you need?  Can you spend some time clearing your mind, be it meditating, or walking or in some other way?

Friday, 3 August 2012

Radiant Star

©Virginijus Poshkus
Once again, a lovely card to end the week with.  From both the Radiant Rider Waite (U.S. Games, 2003) and the Tarot of the New Vision (Lo Scarabeo, 2003), we have the Star.

Seen from in front in the Radiant, a woman kneels beside a pool, one foot seeming to rest upon the water.  She is naked, and holds two jugs from which water pours onto both the green meadow beside her and into the pool.  Behind her, on a low hill stands a tree with a bird perched on high.  Shining brightly above her is a golden star, with seven white stars around it.

The sense of emotional generosity and openness of this card is beautiful.  Isn't this what we all seek, someone who will give generously of themselves, without criticisms or pretences?  Yet, that requires us to behave in the same way, which can be more of a challenge.  The stars, though, suggest that we will find our way, and be guided towards a place where we can be ourselves without fear or anger getting in the way.  And what of the tree and the bird?  A messenger from Thoth, or just from Spirit more generally?  A reminder that there is potential for growth and connectedness?  In this card, it's all good!

©Cestaro & Alligo
What can the New Vision add to this? The stars are the same, but behind the woman we now see a path, at the start of which is a flaming torch at the centre of another eight-pointed star engraved in the ground.  In this version, her foot seems to rest on the shallow floor of the pool, rather than floating miraculously on the water.  And in front of her, a man walks to the right, carrying a heavy sack over his shoulder.

Is the torch to guide us to this pool that will refresh us?  Or is it a torch we must take up to light our way as we continue on with renewed hope?  The man who walks away is fully dressed and heavily burdened.  Is he a reminder of the "normal" path and an encouragement to find a different way?  Or is he telling us to up and move if we are unhappy where we are?  The woman's foot on the shallow bed makes this feel more realistic to me than the Radiant card: hope as something we can aspire to, a path we can tread if we are just willing to take up that flaming torch.

What new path beckons you today?  Can you open your eyes to the messages of spirit, of hope?  How can you be more open?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Radiant Rain

©Virginijus Poshkus
On this Thursday in August, the weathermen here in the UK are predicting a bit of rain, though hopefully not too much.  Our card for today suggests something rather gloomier, though.  With versions from both the Radiant Rider Waite (U.S. Games, 2003) and the Tarot of the New Vision (Lo Scarabeo, 2003), today we have the Three of Swords.

In the Radiant image, we see a bright red heart floating in a cloudy sky, pierced by three swords.  There are lines around it which could be sun shining through the clouds, but seems more likely to be rain seen from a distance.  

When we are feeling gloomy, our own thoughts pierce us.  We stab ourselves with memories and self-criticisms.  While the rain may indicate our mood, as in Buddy Holly's song "Raining In My Heart", it can also be cleansing, washing away negativity. 

©Cestaro & Alligo
Other than darker colours and more obvious rain, the main difference in the New Vision card is the people walking away from a hilltop.  It seems lke they had gathered for some event, perhaps called off by rain (that's something we understand well, here in the UK!) 

Dispersing in all four directions, they could indicate disappointment.  Alternatively, this could be the divisiveness of negative thoughts that embitter us to others.

What thoughts may be causing you pain at the moment?  How could you feel cleansed and renewed?  What solutions can you think up to help in a painful situation?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Fruits of Harvest

Wheel of the Year Tarot
©Caratti & Platano
This is another link in the Lammas Tarot Blog Hop.  If you found it following the link from the U.S. Games site, welcome, and if you popped in some other way, why not start following the links around from here? The idea is that we all write posts on the same subject, then go around and see just how different everyone's take is on it ;)

For this round Kareena Narwani proposed the title "Pentacles: The Fruits of Harvest".  In thinking about what this might mean to TABI, a mainly online community of tarot enthusiasts from around the world, my thought was to chose the Ace of Pentacles.

The Wheel of the Year Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2011) version shows a green female fairy sitting on a wreath of bread, dangling her legs down playfully.  The wreath is bound with ribbons of red and purple, the colours of our connections with both earth and spirit, the base and the crown chakras.  She holds a gleaming gold coin decorated with a head of corn, with many more coins scattered beneath her on a path that seems to bend around where she sits.  In the background, poppies bloom a bright and cheerful red,

This card fits beautifully with the celebration of Lammas, when people give thanks for the first harvest of the year.  TABI has just had its Annual Conference, from which many new ideas, friendships and decks were harvested :D  In truth, though, I think TABI offers new opportunities at every time of the year: new ideas from the forum threads and various study groups; new friendships in the forum Cafe and on Facebook; new decks through the gross enabling and the group orders that help cut the costs of addiction ;)

Prairie Tarot @Robin Ator
However, those are just my thoughts.  So, I decided to run a poll on the TABI forum to see what the rest of the membership thought.  At one point, I thought the Ace of Pentacles was going to be their choice, too! 

It was fascinating to read people's ideas - which card they preferred, how they interpret it, and why they like it.  From Seraphina's delight at the red bunny on the Queen of Pentacles, to SunGoddessTarot explaining: "The Queen of Pentacles has always been a powerful reminder of how I should embrace the challenge of managing multiple demands with a nurturing grace, patience, and dogged determination" I loved the perspectives I discovered.

For instance, Tibor said of the Seven of Pentacles: "It reminds me of the years I spent studying for a science degree. Those were the most difficult years of my life and I often stopped to reflect on where I was in my studies and I often considered giving up on finishing it but deep down I knew that there are necessary steps we all have to take in order to achieve something in life. Reflecting on what we have achieved is a good thing because it reminds us of where we have come from and where we want to go as well as how strong we are "

Even the much-maligned Four of Pentacles got a mention from Little Red, our guest blogger on the TABI Conference, who reminded us: "I have a soft spot for this card... It appeared regularly for me at a time when I was being too generous with my time and resources... there is a time and a place for its energy."

Watcher Angel Tarot
Another interesting point raised was that some decks have very different interpretations to the traditional, which might affect which card we like best.  In particular, the suit of Stones in the Wildwood Tarot was mentioned for its amazing energy and different perspectives.

In the end, though, the winner of the poll was the Nine of Pentacles - my own favourite Pentacles card :)  I loved Annie's description of it: "In the RWS Ace of Pentacles there is an archway with a glimpse of the garden beyond, (a promise of what could be) and here in the Nine I have made it to the garden -fullfilled and content - alone, but not lonely."  Or, as Joanne concluded: "I just feel empowered looking at it. "

Hope you found this a fun look at some of the pentacles cards.  Now, for more Tarot Blog Hop goodness, click on through to the Tarot Taxi.  And if you happen to get lost along the way, you can check out where else to hop to by looking at the Master List of everyone involved in this round :)