New Moon Tarot Layout

New Moon is such a potent time for planting seeds, for setting intention, for taking stock. For me, the dark of the New Moon excites me. It seems so potent and full of potential for me. Plus, that inward reflection for me plays beautifully into my own introversion and need for alone time. I mean, this isn't isolation. It is solitude. It is time to check-in. I often do my most powerful readings during this time period, because I do it ready for release. Hell, the New Moon makes me sleep well, but also finds me cranky. I am not always good with too many personalities, so I pare things down. I connect with the cards, with Spirit, with my own needs. 

I often do the Medicine Wheel Layout or even the Solstice layout, but recently, I have been doing this New Moon Layout I've been playing with. This is really potent for those who aren't really sure what energy they are really ready to call in at the New Moon. It is great for the question: Where should my attention be right now?

As always, please let me know how you like this layout and show me your readings. I am offering distance readings again, so please reach out if you are interested at angie@themoonandstone.com

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samhain ancestor tarot spread

Creating Tarot spreads has become one of my new favorite past times. It is amazing when, as a reader, you have that deep shift in your bones about Tarot. You go from doing everything by the book (whichever book you have given authority to in that week) to playing with your cards. To realizing they are in relationship with you and you can bend and ask and instruct and prescribe how and what messages you need. This is so powerful when you create a Tarot spread.

You literally start with a question: What information is most useful for me right now? What will help my soul grow? And for me, one of the things I find most powerful is: How can I tap into the seasonal energies to create a layout that helps me grow spiritually? This has been my goal in the last few months with these new layouts I am creating...designing layouts that move us through the Medicine Wheel and the Wheel of the Year. 

Every month, I host a Tarot Share at Alta View Wellness Center. We get together and read for each other. This has been 18 months strong, and I'm so proud of the community we have created. We decided to do a Tarot Share Costume Party this year for our monthly Tarot Share, and to come dressed as our favorite card. We actually chose cards last month out of the Majors and Court Cards, and I pulled the Devil. I cannot wait to get all Devilish for our group. (Incidentally, as a Capricorn, the Devil is my card, and it happens to be my card of the year too. Isn't Tarot AMAZING?!?)

ANYWAY, the Tarot Share works like this. It is for other Tarot readers. We gather and exchange readings. Usually, we get to exchange one on one, then most of the time, we do one large reading for the whole group. We often do a reading around the seasonal energies, or the moon cycle. It has been amazing to see how much each of us relate to the big reading. So, for Samhain, I wanted to create a layout that both taps into the ancestral work of Samhain and the idea of releasing and bringing in. So, I thought you might enjoy this too for your Samhain gatherings. Let me know how it goes and how this layout worked for you.

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Past Life Relationship Spread

As a Tarot Reader, I am privy to the most interesting questions. People often come to me in places of confusion about their relationships--marriages, lovers, clandestine affairs, friendships, frenemies, parental/child relationships, co-workers. When we feel strong emotions on either end of the spectrum, we know something important is happening within the relationship. Deep wounds AND deep healing come from relationships.

There is no mistake that the Lovers card of the Major Arcana features Archangel Raphael over the lovers (the Devil's dark card comes from the same imagery as the Lovers), and that in the Minor Arcana, the Two of Cups, has the Caduceus--the two snakes wrapped around the staff of Hermes has represented Medicine and Healing for a long long time. 

At times, healing in relationship confounds us. We don't always understand why someone provokes such strong reactions in us. Why someone's benign comment leads us to anger and another person's same comment sounds comforting. Or why we continue to attract and have the same types of relationships. Or why no matter how much therapy or talking or healing we do, we cannot repair the relationship with our mother, or father. When we get to the end of the line, we often ask questions like "What am I missing here? What is my lesson with this person? Do I have past life karma with this person?" People ask this if they feel deep, immediate love and connection for someone and if they feel the other extreme--revulsion, anger or deep hurt. 

This layout came about after a reading with a friend of mine. She asked me what her past life relationship was with her husband. They had been together for over twenty years. She wondered why she felt so obligated to the marriage and to him. She asked if we could find this out via the Tarot Cards.

Sure. Why not? I had never asked such a question of the Tarot before, but the Celtic Cross is incredibly versatile. As I laid it out, I began changing the meanings of the positions and moving some of the cards around. After I was done, I realize I had naturally created a sacred spiral. I had done another reading like this connecting with someone's passed over loved one (I'll post this layout soon). In crystal gridding, I use a spiral for past life grids, to open to the deep knowledge within, like unscrewing a lid of the jar to view the past life.

We have done this spread many times in Tarot Share, playing with questions for each other to see how this layout works. One night, we did this for everyone at Tarot Share, looking at our past life karma with each other. It was fascinating to find out that when we ask about those people who have created deep love and deep anger/resentment/fear, we often get lots of Major Arcana cards. We see archetypes. We see reversals (lots of reversals). We see a spiritual journey, suffering. Do not be surprised if you see these kinds of things in this layout. It may be disturbing, but it also validates that the strong emotions you feel. Major Arcana always deals with soul journey. When we would read for each other (people who get along and often only interact during Tarot Share), we had all Minor Arcana and not too many reversals. It is not that we didn't share a past life, but that it was easy and light, and often in the context of a village or family environment where our souls and soul work is more removed from each other. 

In the best case, these cards reveal their deep past life meanings to us easily during this layout. It can be hard to discern exactly what is going on in Past Life readings, but try to expand on what you already know of the card. And have fun playing with this layout. Comment here or on one of the social media platforms where I share this layout about how it worked for you. I'd love to hear!

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eclipse reading

One of the gifts of Tarot is how versatile and beautifully flexible it can be with our own spiritual work. Tarot flows through our own journaling and work in whatever way we need it. I've been journaling my daily Tarot readings again, after taking a wee hiatus, and it reconnects me to my Higher Self, my guides and my daily self-care regimen. 

As a professional Tarot reader, I sometimes fall out of the habit of journaling. When I connect with Spirit for other people, I end up taking something away that I also needed to hear. And to be honest, sometimes I get burnt out from the cards. I know what they mean, so I'll throw a reading, then look at it. "Meh, yeah, I know. Quit harping on me, Tarot." But the truth is--Tarot has so much nuance and layers of meaning that this thought is just me being lazy. When I journal, I take a new deck, and use the book, or I go really in-depth with one card in relation to my question. 

The best part of this new journaling journey is that I have been creating so many NEW layouts for myself and others. This time, though, I am creating graphic layouts to help others go deeper with their cards. 

Of course, this new eclipse energy is kicking my ass. I mean, really. So much shadow has reemerged, and I realize now that this eclipse energy emerged for me in June, and has grown darker and deeper through this summer. We are at a culmination of release energy. I created an eclipse tarot layout at look at this shadow work. This layout can be used at any new moon, not just eclipse new moons. It is about going deeper with your own discomfort. One thing I always find confounding is this idea of Letting It Go (Elsa, I'm sorry!) I mean, sometimes I just look at someone with the head turned to ask, "UH, HOW?!?!" This layout has a card that asks just this question, "How do I let it go? How do I release?" I also ask, "What do I need to forgive?" Forgiveness work seems the key to this eclipse energy. Forgiving the self, forgiving others, forgiving our childhood, forgiving our bad decisions...so, that was my thought here. Forgiveness, shadow, release.

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I hope you enjoy it and I would LOVE to hear your experience with this layout. And as a sidenote, I thought tomorrow that I might do a Live Reading on FB of this layout for the entire audience. I do offer distance readings, if you are interested in having a reading with me. Send me an email at angie@themoonandstone.com

 

Tarot of the Week: the High Priestess

“Our duty is wakefulness, the fundamental condition of life itself. The unseen, the unheard, the untouchable is what weaves the fabric of our see-able universe together.” ― Robin Craig Clark

So much beauty and mystery in this card, the High Priestess honors us with her presence as the first post of the new year--2015 with all her mystery and wisdom yet bestowed. There is so much on this card, it is hard to know where to start. The High Priestess is the second card of the Major Arcana. She follows the Magician with all his power and achievement. You see this often in the Tarot--masculine and feminine cards following each other, balancing each other's energy. There is a sense of yin-yang balance of the feminine and masculine throughout the Major Arcana (and Minor, every King and Queen sits together in the deck). The High Priestess follows the Magician, yet her stance harkens more to the Hierophant. Historically, this card in the original deck way back in the 14th century was called La Papesse, or the Female Pope. WHAT?!? It is true. Such a strong, or rather the strongest, role for a woman in a traditionally patriarchal religion. I am quoting Rachel Pollack here for the historical background:

In the 1200’s, a radical movement sprang up in Europe led by a woman named Guglielma of Bohemia.  Guglielma preached that Christ would return in 1300 to begin a new age when woman would be popes. Guglielma died before that great day and so her followers elected a woman named Manfreda Visconti to be the first female pope. The year 1300 came around and went without Christ returning and its church made its position on female popes very clear: they burned Manfreda at the stake. 150 years later the first tarot deck {as we know it} was created, commissioned by the rulers of the city of Milan- the Visconti family.” -Rachel Pollack, quoted by Marybeth Bonfiglio

This I find absolutely fascinating and important for us Tarot readers. I don't think it is any surprise she stands on the Waxing Moon, as the Virgin Mary is so often portrayed in paintings. This would be the only image of a female spiritual leader the Italians who created the first Tarocchini decks would know. This imagery would have made complete sense to Catholics. She is the Pope of the Virgin. She has been elevated beyond a simple priestess. Like the Pope, she has a connection to the Divine that is beyond a worshipper, or the common man, or the priest. she hold papal infallibility. If the Pope is lineage from Peter, then who is La Papesse in lineage from? It is interesting, because I think the pomegranates behind her are so wrought with symbolism. Nearly every major religion of the Middle East hold pomegranate as particularly symbolic. The Egyptians felt it was a fruit of abundance. The Ancient Greeks associate the pomegranate as the fruit of the dead, and it is intertwined deeply with the story of Persephone and Demeter, so there is an ancient mother connection here. The Pomegranate is associated with the Crone. And in Kabbalah, perhaps the most likely of symbols for Arthur Waite and Pamela Smith Colman, it symbolizes the mystical experience.

Woman in the Tarot hold this deep mystery for Arthur Waite. Pomegranate is a common theme from the Empress on. But the High Priestess is their mediator, and she stands as the symbol of the Divine Feminine. Her standing is more of the holder of mystery, the esoteric, the deep water of religion, of the self, of Nature. Because women have always been associated with mystery, the moon, the water, the nurturing mother, there are additional symbols here that hold this more enigmatic spiritual meaning for us. Her dress literally turns into water as it falls over the moon. The Moon, the eighteenth card of the Major Arcana, is not to be missed. The connection is clear and important. She also wears a crown. I have read that it is similar to the horned crown of Hathor, Egyptian goddess and now a modern symbol of receptivity. I always imagine center of the crown being moonstone, because to me, as a crystal healer, Moonstone seems to be the High Priestess' stone. It sits on her third eye, and the crown itself opens to the Divine. She bears all kinds of religious iconography--the cross over her heart, the Torah in her hands. So, her connection is not to one religion--she is the Priestess of Pluralism. Every path is through her to the Divine. 

She sits regally, flanked by two pillars much like the Hierophant (the Pope), Justice, the Emperor. Front and center she faces you. Her pillars are different for one is dark and one light, anointed with the letters B and J, meaning Boaz and Jachin of Solomon's Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem. All of these symbols lead to this woman, the High Priestess. She is the prophetess, the seer, the mystic, the psychic. She connects to the Divine and the Mystery, but the darkness of her and this card are important. The mystery holds us captive and frightens us. We must push through the fear for her wisdom and insights propel us to the next phase of our spiritual development. So, in my work, the High Priestess is the card of the channel, the oracle, the psychic. She is guardian of the mysteries of the Divine and esoteric knowledge. I think of her as carrying sacred geometry and a stream to the Akashic records.

When the High Priestess appears, I know I am facing someone who is psychic, intuitive, opening to her or his spirituality. Dreamwork, journeying, visions and psychic abilities are at play here. Dreams are particularly important with any card that shows the Moon. Many of my Tarot friends sleep with a High Priestess under their pillow when they need insight. She is Divine and of the Divine and so there is a kind of purity and grace with her presence. She helps release and shed what does not serve. She assists one in finding their soul path. Meditation, prayer and new spiritual work is indicated. Unlike the Hierophant, which has religion all tied up with its means, the High Priestess is about spirituality and one's spiritual path. The High Priestess is about upper chakra work. She lights up the Third eye and the Crown. Though she is silent, she also opens the throat for channels and oracle work. The blue is important, it calls to work with the throat and third eye together for gaining your own insights.

Reversed, we get a feeling of the shadow self. The mysterious grows darker when the High Priestess is reversed. It can mean one is not facing their true self and honoring oneself.  As always, I'd love to hear what you think of the High Priestess and this post. Comment below.

tarot of the week--the star

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

We welcome October with a gift from the Major Arcana and Spirit--the Star. It is indeed a blessed card, one of beautiful images and messages. Here kneels Mother Earth, or perhaps, as Marcia Masino envisions her, the goddess Isis Urania. I think she might be the goddess Astraea, the goddess of the Cosmos. She symbolizes justice, innocence, and purity, and she fled Earth because of our human wickedness. The celestial virgin is said to return  to bring with her Utopia, peace and enlightenment. This falls in line with the promises of the Star, which gives us hope of a new dawn.

The Star is number XVII of the Major Arcana, and she follows the Tower. After the demolition of all we hold dear, she balances with two jugs of water, one to feed and nurture Earth, and another to replenish the Spirit. She is also anointing, blessing, bestowing beautiful gifts to the recipient of this card. Of course, water has many meanings in the Tarot--it is a psychic symbol, one of emotions, one of love. The Star's associations with water are hard to miss. The Star exists in the psyche. For she is the ultimate hope, after the Tower, that things can be righted. Her pouring water into water shows her ability to transmute energies from death and destruction to rebirth and blossoming of the soul.

The goddess is crowned with eight stars in the sky. Eight is the number here, as XVII is numerologically an Eight. (1+0+5+2=8). Eights are about power and success, often from a wellspring of self-healing and self-knowledge. So much of what the Star represents is quite esoteric. It is hope. It is optimism. It is the belief in one's own healing power. It is about self-acceptance. It is about surrendering to win. This is what the step from the Tower to the Star means after all. That we step from absolute powerlessness into our own healing power. The Tower is about ego and bravado and building false protection against knowing ourselves and admitting our weaknesses. We are not in control, the Tower reminds us. But the Star says, you are only in control of your own healing. Your own knowledge. Your own humility.

There is no mistake that seven stars are small and one large star rises in the center. For these stars represent the chakra system, and seeking our own healing. The huge star in the middle is our connection to the Divine. The Soul Star chakra, it is called, the one that connects us directly with our guides, angels and the Divine. Many Tarot readers think the Star is a weak card, one of only self-belief, but in that way, I believe it is a powerful card. One of healing and self-work. The work of the Star begins with meditation. Visualizations are important and chakra balancing work is vital. Seek it through energy healing, Reiki, crystal healing and other modalities that directly work with the chakra system to help realign, balance, and facilitate healing. 

What we find in the Star is the steps toward faith. I love this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. For often we come to the Star's wisdom after a dark time, when we are recognizing that our way, our shadow selves, are running the show. But this is not a place of despair, it is a starting point of enlightenment, so grab hold and begin the hard work of self-healing. Reversed, the Star indicates the recognition of your own healing needs to be grasped. It often tells of blockages in the chakras, and blockages to success and power. We sometimes see it reversed when someone is going through a depression and cannot manifest any hope. Again, chakra balancing and healing work is often prescribed for this time. 

tarot of the week--judgement

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” ― Jiddu Krishnamurti

We arrive again in the Major Arcana, and the penultimate card, actually, of the Major Arcana--Judgment. Here the dead stand in their tombs and caskets, accepting the horn of Archangel Gabriel as they call their souls home. It is a celebration of acceptance. Their caskets float on a sea and the sky is clear and bright. Most of us recognize this scene--it is Judgement day, and the dead are risen. But Tarot is decidedly non-punishing, and certainly does not foretell death or resurrection. So, what is going on here?

The resurrection here is the absence of judgement. All the Dead, not just a select few, are welcomed by the Archangel, the messenger of Good News. This is the absence of judgement, rather than the doling out of punishment and acceptance. I always felt this card was about Divine Love at its core, and the ways in which we project our own fears and anxieties onto our religions. The mystical Tarot releases all that, and asks you to as well. You have been through the Fool's Journey, walking the lessons of the Fool through the Major Arcana. You have met the Magician and the Priestess,Mother and Father, the Pope and the Lovers, and the Chariot, Strength and the Hermit. You have spun the Wheel of Fortune then met Justice, the Gallows and Death. Temperance balanced you, and the Devil swayed you to your base needs, and the Tower brought them down. The Moon, the Stars and the Sun introduced you to the shadow and light selves. And here you are, the card before last, meeting judgment. What have you learned?

Release.

This is the core message of the Judgement card. You are your own prison guard, your own torturer, your own judge and jury. Release judgement. Krishnamurti nailed it in his quote above (when doesn't he?) "The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence." He isn't talking about native smarts, he's talking about emotional intelligence. That space inside us that wants to label and judge all of us and all around us. When we release judgement, and get curious (do I harp on that too much?) we transform ourselves. This release isn't simply release of judgment, but fear, anxieties, anger, unforgiveness, arrogance--these are all forms of judgement. We recognize the limitless potential within us when we release this judgement of ourselves and others. What I mean by that is that our own oppression comes from this idea that we can't. We can't draw properly, or we can't take that class, or we can't quit our jobs. We can. This allows the whole you to emerge, and find this triumph within the spirit, mind and body. 

My favorite Tarot writer, Marcia Marsino, talks about the ocean as the collective unconsious in the imagery of the Judgment card, and it reminded me of this Buddhist idea of moksha, or nirvana, or enlightenment. It is like we are each a drop of water, individual and understanding ourselves to be contained within the confines of this drop of water. We see its boundaries, right? But once it falls into the ocean with billions of other drops of water, we don't differentiate ourselves from the whole any longer. We are part of this vast, powerful ocean, and yet we are still a drop of water, but we cannot be extracted as such. Our essence, all we carry in that drop, is now part of the collective. This is what enlightenment is said to be, but Judgment asks you to look beyond the limits of your ego today and see yourself as only part of the whole. Can you see beyond the limits of your ego? 

This idea is some heavy spiritual work, and not exactly the core message for everyone. Down deep, yes, Spirit asks you to see beyond, but on a day to day basis, when I pull this card in the reading, I generally ask the person to release judgment about themselves. This often comes for people going through divorce, or job issues, or wrestling with life choices. Release judgment. I must say it every reading. It is a common theme from Spirit to mankind. Spirit loves you unconditionally, can you love yourself this way?

Judgment may also ask you to use your moral center to make a decision. You may see some cards that indicate this interpretation around you, like a Knight of Swords, or Strength. It may mean standing against others, but you must speak for love, compassion and the universal whole, rather than the individual. 

Reversed indicates a kind of refusal to release judgment, anger, unforgiveness, and the inability to release a person or situation. This can also indicate a fear of change. Remember that the core message of Judgment is release, so think of this as a refusal to release.

As always, I love writing these Tarot columns, certainly, I am coming to the end of the deck in a few months, and when I do, I may begin selecting randomly, or start a new deck. I'd love to plunge more into the Wild Unknown imagery. Let me know which you prefer, and if you didn't see, I'm celebrating my one year anniversary of Moon + Stone. Visit this post to enter the giveaway, and celebrate with me.

For those in the Harrisburg area, I have lined up some classes at Alta View for those interested, I am teaching an Introduction to Tarot workshop for four weeks starting Wednesday, September 17th at 7pm. They will run Wednesday nights from 7p-9pm. On the fifth week, we will open our doors for our student readers to work with the public. We invite our students to invite friends and family to practice on. All reading are on a love donation basis, and we will donate the money to a local charity decided by the class. Shoot me an email if you are interested at themoonandstone@gmail.com, or call Alta View at 717-221-0133. Space is limited. The class costs $125 for the four weeks.

tarot of the week--the tower

“There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected: the expected for which one has refused to prepare.” ― Mary Renault

There aren't many cards that strike fear into the heart of tarot clients as deeply as the Tower. We travel into the Major Arcana to meet this gloomy teacher. Number 16, the Tower follows the Devil in the Fool's Journey. When we begin to "walk" each card as the Fool does, we begin to see the way the cards grow and challenge you. Death, thirteen in the Major Arcana, deals with massive change and transformation. Fourteen, Temperance, balances your talk and your walk, asking you to protect your new transformation with moderation. Attachment marks the Fifteen Devil card. This card lacks balance and autonomy. Powerlessness against one's attachment to another, or addiction, or anything that stands between you and Source. The Tower shows destruction, unexpected challenge, natural disaster, and suffering. Loss of attachment marks the Tower (among other things), but let's start with some background here. 

The Tower's black background informs us immediately that things are rough. Two people fall out of this large tower on a high mountain. Lightning strikes the top of the tower again, as a storm rages around the scene. A crown, or the cornice of the building (at least, that is what I assume that is) falls off the top, exposing the building. Clouds surround the Tower. After 9/11, many people found the Tower to be profounding disturbing and prophetic. I see it as a profound metaphor for our spiritual awakening, but we'll get there.

As I reflect on the entire 78 card Tarot, I cannot recall one other card that functions in the way that the Tower function. It signals an unexpected upset or disaster. The "unexpected" tends to be key here. Many Tarot readers stress that the Tower is not something you can prepare for, which is not quite where I stand on the Tower myself. Interestingly, in Arthur Waite's own Pictorial Key to the Tarot, he tries to dispel this myth. He sees this as not a physical destruction, but a spiritual and emotional one. He says, it is the ""House of the Mind, when evil has prevailed therein." He also used the phrase, the House of Doctrine. He makes it clear (in his usual convoluted language) that these Towers that come down are always the Towers that man himself built, not God. What Arthur Waite intended, and what the modern Tarot reader sees in the Tower are often two different things. But there is much to glean about the card's meaning from Waite's intention.

Most interpretations of this card stick fairly close to the unexpected, or external change coming in the life of the Seeker when the Tower is pulled. It is precisely why the Tower is so feared. We all can handle the changes we control, but what about these unexpected hiccups in life? Or the huge losses we suddenly face. These can be as large as job loss, house fire, or car accident. On the other hand, it can be running into an ex at a restaurant with your best friend. Or suffering a last confrontation with someone who brings down some wall you thought could protect you. This is how I see the Tower--what walls have you built and how will they come down? It is the ultimate wake-up call. Get WITH IT!! Open to your spiritual self. Trust in Great Spirit (or however you conceive of the Source). Know your walls will not protect you from the truth you are locking away. The Tower appears so that you may align spiritually, emotionally, physically (perhaps) and mentally.

We often see that, no? That we become spiritually and emotionally tight. "I'm fine if I just avoid any temptation, human being, or dangerous emotion." As the saying goes, it is easy to be a holy man on top of the mountain. We may only practice daily meditation and prayer, or turn our will over to God when things are rough, but in good times, when we are all locked away in our Tower away from any irritation, emotional pain or upset, we don't plug into the Divine. We play God. We are the almighty self-reliant savior from our own suffering. This is the great lie we tell ourselves--if we just build enough walls, we will be safe from suffering. Further, we can PREVENT suffering. We live in gated communities to protect ourselves from crime. If we just avoid this mean person, that dangerous part of town, or if we stop taking lovers all together, life will be peachy and our heart will never hurt. But this is the great illusion, the mother of untruth. 

All of this is isolation--isolation from other people, from God and most importantly, from our own selves. We are spiritual beings here for a human experience. The human experience includes connection, compassion and suffering. Yes, SUFFERING. It is part of the deal as a human. It is the first noble truth and none of us, not the most prepared, diligent, or type A among us, are immune from suffering. The illusion that goes hand-in-hand with the illusion that we can prevent suffering, if that we ever were in control to begin with. We are powerless against all, even those things we thought we had power over. And so, the quote I chose for the Tower by Mary Renault is, "There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected: the expected for which one has refused to prepare.” Because to me, every day is a day to prepare for an unexpected shock. It is the one thing for which we can prepare--we have no idea what is going to happen. And how do you prepare for the unexpected--prayer, meditation, and being good to all around you, just my humble opinion here.

Marcia Masino says this amazing, beautiful thing about the Tower, "The wake-up call is a blessing bestowed upon the walled up characters in the trump." The Tower? A blessing? She goes on to say, "Spiritual truth directly strikes them, creating a great leveling; they are blasted from their position." She sees the Tower as a dismantling of limiting beliefs.

Remember that this liberation from your self-limiting beliefs often is a painful journey. (Aren't they all?) And the Tower validates that this won't be easy. You don't depict two people falling to their death out of a burning building with no suffering, but it is the catalyst to great emotional and spiritual awakening. The Tarot uses death, not as a punishment or fearful outcome, but as the greatest of awakenings. Death IS enlightenment in the Rider-Waite . The Tower begs you to move into the destruction, rather than away from it. Help the walls come down, rather than build a whole new stronger, more isolating Tower, but rather to look at what illusions you were clinging to, and how you can see the whole truth.

Reversed, the Tower means virtually the same thing, but it is not unexpected. The upset is more gradual, less violent to the soul. And it is usually exactly what the Seeker is thinking when she or he first sees the Tower, tends to be a confrontation with someone, or an already disintegrating relationship. I sometimes talk about using Tarot for energy healing and chakra readings, if you consistently pull the Tower, this is a Root Chakra issue. One that can be beautifully aligned through earthing, grounding, and affirmations about your own safety and security.

This is our practice this week--to embrace our most difficult challenges as our greatest teachers. Our destroyed walls are our spiritual awakenings, and once we throw those bricks to the side, we can be free.

tarot of the week-death

Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation. ― Alan Cohen

I'm back, loves. And pulled a doozy for this week's Tarot of the Week. When I think of scared and sacred, I envision Death immediately. Ironically, last newsletter (which was a few weeks back now) covered the dark cards of the Tarot. When I say Dark, I mean the ones with the dark backgrounds that inspire fear in the best of us. Death is certainly one of the most iconic images in Tarot. I often have people remark, "I hope I don't get the Death card." And I often retort, "I hope you do!"

Death's symbology fascinates me to no end, so forgive me for going into details. The image of Death personified, or the Grim Reaper, as a skeleton with black robe and scythe has persisted for centuries. Death in the Rider Waite Tarot is a mounted, armored Death carrying a flag rather than a scythe. Death rides through the battlefield carrying his pennan, so to speak, a white Heraldic rose on a black field. I rather think of this as Death's Coat of Arms, so to speak. He is noble, honored, announcing his arrival. I don't know if you know that flags are flown at half-mast to make room for the Flag of Death above it. And perhaps this is the Flag of Death.

The scene is grisly, of course. Death mounted on his steed, while the Hierophant pleads to be spared, but Death spares no man. The Pope and the pauper both die. So we see people of all ages, classes, genders on this card. The Emperor lies dead, his crown off to the side, the Empress on her knees listing to one side, the child between them. There is a flowing river behind them. Life goes on, the boat floating on the surface seems to say. In the background of the XIII Death card, you see the two Towers from the Moon, and the Sun rises between them.

Death in the Rider-Waite imagery is not about physical death. Not usually, though I have pulled it in regards to physical Death when someone is in mourning, or fearing their own mortality. Remember that Tarot readers, like all psychics and intuitives, learn their own unique symbolic language to interpret the cards for their clients. And Death for me is far from physical death.

The key to the Death card is Transformation. We put to death our old ideas, our limiting beliefs, who we thought we once were. We allow relationships to die, or the dreams we once had. The implication with the Death card, like the Tower, is that there is a change that feels like suffering. Divorce, job loss, break-ups, losing one's faith/religion of origin. These are the kinds of crisis of faith that we face around the Death card. And yet, the story does not end at Death. Death is but a beginning in this card.

In the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling writes, "To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." This is the energy of the Death card. This card is about rebirth, transformative experiences, liberation.  We often get this after a long period of change and disruption. These changes the Seeker is undergoing are permanent and major. And they are always for the better. Death does not come for someone who is still clinging to old ideas. He comes for those who are ready to abandon all that is not serving the Highest Good. With this card, comes the implicit demand to accept the changes.  Here is the rub in this card--humans often resist change, or find it difficult and suffering. And so we must accept. As they say, accept it now, or accept it later, but with the later, there is a whole lot of suffering in the resistance. As life dismantles, it is important for the Seeker to understand that this is the Highest Good. We adapt, adjust, move on.

Of course, the reversed position of this card is one about resisting change and growth. It is about stagnation and the inability to accept life on life's terms. It is a card of blockage in the Reversed position, and I often think of it as a crown chakra blockage because it is about resisting your soul path.

Let me know what you think of this card and any of the writing on this blog. 

tarot of the week--the hermit

If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher. ― Pema Chödrön

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So often I get this glimpse into the Card of the Week in readings I do the days before I write. The Hermit was pulled in one card readings this week, and I felt so strongly I was going to be writing about him today.

The solitary figure on the Hermit remains one of the most mysterious and recognizable archetypes of the Tarot--the Wise Man. He isolates, go into seclusion for Spiritual Awakening. Siddharta joined a good of ascetics to find enlightenment. Christian monks join a silent orders and seclude in a monastery. Some see this figure as the Magician mid-quest, finding answers to the mysteries of the Elements, the Universe, and the Infinite. Others see him as Merlin coming out of his cave, or Moses coming back from the Mountain with his tablets.

Wisdom. Knowledge. Intuition. Spiritual connection. Guides. Teachers. This card represents all that embodies the spiritual quest. But let's take a deeper look at this card. Firstly, the number of the Hermit is IX--nine, the number of completion. So, a phase of this Hermit's searching has come to an end. Whether it is the solitude that ends, or the period of teaching is up to you as the Reader. We often can tell this by the other cards around this card, or we get a kind of clairsentience about it. Most often than not, I find this is about the former.

And as they say, "It is easy to be a Holy Man on top of a mountain." What that means is that connecting with Spirit and the Divine when we are cut off from the distractions and irritants of life is easy. We absorb and learn through meditation, prayer, books, reading, writing, opening to Spirit, but it is when we interact with other messy, imperfect, complicated humans that our true spirituality rises out of us. That is how we measure our spiritual wellness. The Hermit completes his cycle of Solitude. He has learned all he can learn alone in the woods or on the mountain. He must now find a teacher, a community. So much of this card is about humility.

What? You say...humility? Why you just said this is about the Hermit's wisdom?

That's right. Wisdom is having the humility to find a teacher despite your considerable knowledge. This card might say at the bottom, "Listen more than speak today." Or as my friend's grandmother used to say, "Just because you know it, doesn't mean you have to say it." We embrace the curiosity of our Higher Self, Guides, Angels and Masters who are always curious about this human experience. When our anger flares up, our Guides don't say, "Stop being angry." Rather they say, "Get curious about this anger. What is still rising in your attachments? Where are you afraid? Why are you afraid?" 

I love Pema Chodron's quote above, because it epitomizes this card. We cannot always assume our teachers are there to teach us how to do things. Sometimes they are there to teach us how not to do things. Sometimes they provoke a resentment, which teaches us about where we need work. Or we see resistance rise up in us, or our spiritual principles challenged in a way that makes us hot, uncomfortable, unsure...these are all ways of teaching and learning, if we allow ourself to get curious about ourselves. The Hermit is ultimately curious about himself and his Spiritual practice and beliefs. He is ready to challenge them. He is ready to put them to the test. Do they work in real life? Pema Chodron has this wonderful lesson about this very concept called Troublemakers.

So much of the Major Arcana is about our spiritual condition, and no card epitomizes this journey more than the Hermit. It is card of the Seeker, the person on a quest for some empirical truth. The Quest is often the only truth there is. So, I pull this card when my client is  on the crossroads--either they've been working with a teacher and are ready for their own Vision Quest, or time of Solitude, or the opposite--they've been learning at home alone and need to find a mentor or teacher of some kind. This also comes up when someone is ready to go back to school for more education, or begins a spiritual journey. Most often than not, I get this for people who are intuitive who need a mentor or guide to open fully to Spirit. 

What I adore about the Hermit remains this concept of humility and spiritual growth. Funnily, this is my life card, and it is no surprise to me, honestly. I have been spiritually seeking since Catechism, and my life has been marked by my spiritual lessons and teachers. Though the underlying theme of the Hermit is our connection to the Divine, to Spirit, to our own Higher Self, this connection comes out in the humility to allow yourself to be teachable. Every. Single. Person. is a teacher, if we allow them to be. If our Higher Self had a card, this would be it. This Higher Self knows that the expression of enlightenment is service to mankind. By service, I mean, we teach and learn and show by example. the power of compassion and love in all our interaction with others can be the most influential spiritual lesson of their life.

Reversed, this card might mean that humility is lacking in your Spiritual health. You might have wisdom, but are not applying it, or living by your morals or principles. It can also mean that you are lacking connection to your spiritual beliefs and need to reconnect with your Higher Self. A great affirmation for this card is:

I embrace my beginner's mind and allow myself to remain teachable from my guides, angels and all people I encounter.

tarot of the week--justice

“Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.” ― Victor Hugo

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Back to the Major Arcana and the seat of Justice reigning strong and supreme. But what is Justice in the Tarot? We often see the Major Arcana as archetypes, and certainly, the archetype of Justice is one we are all familiar with--a Judge weighing both sides of an argument, rendering a decision. But Tarot doesn't exactly approach Justice in this way. The card Judgement has the implication of judging--releasing judgment, grasping it. Justice, rather, is the universal justice, the balance of yin and yang, the Law of Karma. Though the Rider-Waite imagery is not entirely clear, Justice is still a woman in this deck. She is Pallas Athena, the Goddess of Law and of War, of Wisdom and Fairness, Justice and Harmony. 

With the key number of 11, we have the beautiful implications of the numerology of 11 and of two. Eleven is the spiritual and psychic number. Those who follow angel numbers, or screech like my children do when the clock reads 11:11 attest to the magical implications of this number. Justice? Magic? Yes, absolutely. This cosmic balance of right and wrong, just and unjust, transcends the actuality of what is happening. This is a more metaphysical balance. In this lifetime, in all lifetimes...and so for me, the Justice card also transcends this lifetime for spiritual questions. It often clues me off to past life connections and future life debts. Eleven also adds down to a Two, which is the numerological indication for balance. And in this case, the Eleven is this spiritual balance we were talking about--where we balance our karma. It also is the balance of Male and Female energy, as you literally add one to the Magician, and the one added is Feminine energy.

If you read cards with Goddess in mind, know this is the card of Athena. If you are an astrologer, know this is the card for Libra. She is also the card for Kali. What that tells us is the Justice card has energy behind her to decide what lives and what no longer serves. Weigh this as objectively as you can and you will balance karma in the process. Justice is sandwiched in the Major Arcana between the Wheel of Fortune and the Hanged Man...think of that energy that follows...the Hanged Man sacrifices his comfort for a new perspective. This is the kind of Justice that is asked of you. Look objectively, even if means you give something up in the process. You are not a victim of fate, you are a volunteer of fate.

This card also has a very obvious meaning--one of legal troubles, issues or questions. When it is pulled, a lawyer should be consulted on an issue. Or perhaps a legal suit is up in the air. I once pulled this card when someone asked me who her next romantic partner was going to be--yep, a lawyer! 

An apt affirmation for this card might be:

I accept all spiritual, societal and personal responsibility for my fate to balance all karma from this life and all lives.

 

tarot of the week-the hierophant

The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn. --Marcus Tullius Cicero

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When I do readings for other Tarot enthusiasts, I find it absolutely fascinating which cards they react against, which they are drawn to, and which they need. More often than not, the Hierophant inspires strong reactions in people. Most people dislike the Hierophant intensely. Hierophant was actually an Ancient Greek priest, "who interpreted sacred mysteries, especially the priest of the Eleusinian mysteries". And later is became known as "an interpreter of sacred mysteries or arcane knowledge." And then funnily, the image on the Hierophant is the Pope, raising his right hand in benediction. 

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Number five of the Major Arcana, a number often associated with chaos, or rather adventure or action, the Hierophant has a different feel all together. As you play with Tarot, lay out the five of every suit and the fives of the Major Arcana (Some talk about the XIV as another five, while others include the Devil XV) and place all the five cards in a row. Their theme is one of upset. One numerology article I read, which I absolutely think is right on the money, associates Five with freedom, and the process of how we handle our own freedom. The reaction most people have to the Hierophant is a loss of freedom. This is why I love the quote my Marcus Cicero--our own reactions against authority and institutions is the exact obstacle that blocks us from our growth within those institutions. 

The interpretations of the Hierophant run the gamut, often reflecting the Tarot reader's own relationships with authority and institutions. One thing most of us agree on is that the dominant themes of the Hierophant are hierarchies and institutions (the Church/organized religion, Higher Education, the government, even the institution of marriage), traditions and the rules. There is more here, though, because of the traditions of the Hierophant as "having the ear" of God, or receiving arcane wisdom and esoteric knowledge. I sometimes see this card as being a pathway to a spiritual opening. There is a distinctly spiritual aspect to this card, and it often gets lost in the swirl of our own preconceived notions of the Church and authority in the Church. And so, this card often challenges the reader to set aside his or her own feelings about the Church.

The symbols in this card help us find some deeper understanding of the card. Hand held high in benediction, which is a blessing, a prayer for Divine help, and spiritual guidance. (Interestingly, the Hierophant again appears on the Death card (XIII) where he is pleading with Death on behalf of a mother and child.) Two fingers up, two down, this is the bridge of heaven and earth. We see this on the Magician as the gesture of pointing to Earth and holding his staff up to heaven. On this card, the Pope is blessing two initiates, recognizable by their distinction hair and matching robes, so the Hierophant is also the teacher. He holds a triple cross, which is a traditional staff of the Pope. Again, the two pillars appear on a Major Arcana card--the High Priestess, the Moon, Justice and the Death card (some people see the people on the Devil and the Lovers as pillars as well).  When we see these similar symbols, we make connections, and so these pillars have come to represent Justice and Liberty for some people, or the place we cross into another realm of spiritual understanding. At the feet of the Hierophant are two keys crossed representing the key to knowledge. He holds them. He hands them out. Or maybe you must come through him to find those keys. 

Again, so much of this interpretation is subjection to our own bias or acceptance of Church. Even my language in this article could change the interpretation, for example, I could use the word dogma here and change the entire meaning of the interpretation, or I could use the word knowledge. When I read for people, I often have a feeling of the card's meaning, but I will lead with a question like, "What is your relationship to the Church, or to your religion of origin?" Because this card is often about that relationship. 

So, how do I interpret this card? Many many many ways. If I was meditating with the Hierophant, I would concentrate on spiritual seeking and the pathway of wisdom and knowledge. I focus on the teachers on my spiritual journey, my Reiki teacher, my Tarot friends, my Crystal Teacher, my spiritual mentors. I actually focus on my daily self-care and the rituals of my spiritual work--cleansing the space, strengthening my EMF, grounding, meditation, salt baths, and meditation/prayer time. I think there is a strong undercurrent of ritual in this card. I sometimes advise my clients to begin a daily spiritual practice when they pull this card. Treat their spiritual opening with reverence and ritual. For readings about love, I often refer to marriage often since this card is about Institutions and societally acceptable forms of love. For those about work, I often talk about the Institution of the job, and wrestling with the authority at work. For questions about one's spiritual path, I often recommend returning to a Church. 

The depth of this card is limitless, but one strong element is that this card represents the metaphysical and esoteric knowledge (Arcana means hidden knowledge) available all around us, even in those traditions and religions we dismissed in our rebellious youth if we are willing to look deeper, beyond the scandals and bullshit political dogma perpetuated, to see the spiritual truth. Can we use all our institutions as spiritual teachers? What is part of the spiritual teaching we need is to learn to follow the path laid out in front of us and take direction from all people? Or rather, what if our spiritual lesson is to turn our will and life over to the care of God? And follow direction from a spiritual teacher is our first step in that process?

A great affirmation for this card might be:

I trust in the authority of the Divine and find spiritual lessons in all my experience. 

Do you like what you learn from my Tarot posts? Want more Tarot? For those that live in the South Jersey or Philadelphia area, I am teaching an accelerated Introduction to Tarot at the Crystal Tree in Haddon Township, NJ. Four classes in two weeks starting November 13. You can find out more information here. This class is limited enrollment, so if you are interested, send me an email at themoonandstone@gmail.com now. 

tarot of the week-the chariot

Know the self to be sitting in the chariot, the body to be the chariot, the intellect the charioteer, and the mind the reins. -- Veda Upanishads

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In the last few weeks, I have read Tarot at some events where I have reading after reading. During these readings, I notice some universal themes and cards arise. The intuitive message that Spirit is giving me about these cards is that this is a cycle we are in, rather than applicable just to that person. My message is usually to tap into this energy and ride the wave. One cycle trend I have noticed is the Chariot. Number VII of the Major Arcana, the Chariot is about victory, accomplishment, action, and movement and further, driving one's own fate. 

I love the quote from the Upanishads, (and I noticed after I picked it that Marcia Masino uses a similar quote in her book Best Tarot Practices). So much of this card is about understanding the Self and using every aspect of yourself to achieve. The underlying themes of this card is self-will, control, action, motivation, progress...The Chariot often comes after a period of hard work and action. It is the card that nods to your hard work, willpower, determination, and diligence. Spirit acknowledges you in that way. And acknowledges that you could have taken this path by dishonest means, or even easier means, but you kept your integrity. The hard work remains an important aspect of your path. This is an important part of this card--Integrity. I often talk about turning one's will over to the Divine, and so often, the cards ask us to trust in our path, or in Spirit to hold us and care for us. Our needs will be met. And certainly, Spirit still reminds us of that when we talk about the Chariot, but this is a card of ACTION. Da-Da-DUH! You must be the Charioteer, controlling your responses to things, seeing the road in front of you, and navigating the inevitable potholes.

Seven, in numerology, is a very mystical number. The number of faith, it is most psychic, or rather intuitive, number, and often the role of Seven is one of spiritual completion and wholeness--seven chakras, seven days to create the work, seven pillars of wisdom. It can indicate a completion and period of solitary reflection. Indeed, the King (yes, he is a King) on this card is alone, but you get the sense that he has an army behind him.

We might say that this card represents that cliche, "God will move mountains, but you need to bring a shovel." Or maybe even you direct a team of people with shovels.  The King, adorned with breast plate and scepter, stands proud. His crown holds a star above his head, which is hovering around the crown chakra. This is such an important aspect to me as a crystal and energy healer. I look for clues into chakra work. And so, this card, which seems so action-oriented, is grounded in the crown. Huh? It is because his work is grounded in integrity and alignment with his soul path. Look at his kilt (skirt, I almost said). It has all the signs of the Zodiac, and driving his Chariot are two Sphinx.

Let's talk about the Sphinx, because it is a terribly important part of this card. These Sphinc represent the logic and mind at work as well as his travels out of his land. (Some say they also mirror the Pillars on the front of the High Priestess.) The symbolism of the Tarot resides heavily in the Ancient Greek myths that has become part of our cultural language. And the myth of Sphinx tells us something about this card. The Sphinx, the head of a Woman and body of a Lion, tests the brave to answer her riddle. She torturously killed anyone who fails, but rewards those who truly understand life and death.

Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?

It is Man in all the phases of his life. And so the wisdom here, the man who tames the Sphinx, forcing the phases of man to work on his behalf, drives his own chariot. The Sphinx is this pull between our animal strength and our intellect. In this way, the Chariot asks us to recognize the power in self-restraint and the taming of our own internal beasts. This card often has a strong underlying sexual tone, as the Chariot is the card of sexual prowess. So, when I pull this card in the challenge position, I sometimes ask how power comes into sexual relationships for the questioner.

The curtains above this King, as the crown, harken to the Star, the card of great hope and optimism. Where this King's thoughts go, energy flows, and he keeps his thoughts aligned with the Divine and his ultimate goal. Though his body is shielded in metal, his heart is a strong clear block in the center of him. His heart is aligned with the Highest Intentions. The Chariot is a beautifully positive, victorious and multi-dimensional card to receive. But remember the words--action, integrity, hard work, self-will aligned with Divine will, power, self-knowledge.

A great affirmation for this card might be: 

I align my will with Divine will. 

tarot of the week-the hanged man

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed. — Ernest Hemingway

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So many of the cards of the Tarot possess dual meaning, ambiguity, and intrigue, but perhaps none embody paradox more than the Hanged Man. Just hearing about a hanging evokes fear, condemnation, punishment, but the Hanged Man is a card of mystery, sacrifice, and grace. The Hanged Man is number XII of the Major Arcana, and on the Fool's Journey, the card that resides between Justice and Death. But the judgment and punishment of the Hanged Man is truly a self-imposed experience, which is precisely what makes this card so rich in symbolism.

The Hanged Man shows a man, presumably the Fool (for he wears the same clothes as the 0 card of the Tarot,) hanging by one foot. Leaves grow around the edges of the gallows. His face is downright serene, still, calm. There is no suffering here. His arms are behind his back, and his head is radiating with light. A symbol of enlightenment. This position, most Tarot readers assume, is a loose hanging, one from which he could easily escape. But the Hanged Man has no such design, he is there for a reason.

The themes of the Hanged Man are sacrifice, perspective, and transition. The Hanged Man relinquishes his control to gain new insight. If he has put himself in this position, he can remove himself, but he doesn't. This is his path to enlightenment, to see things from not only from a different perspective, but also from one that is based on his absolute acceptance of himself. It's terribly important to remember that you surrender to win here. And in this way, you are asked to sacrifice the quick fix, the impermanent feeling for the long term spiritual growth. In this way, what the Hanged Man reminds us is that we must move into suffering, rather than out of it.

We allow ourselves to be seen as vulnerable, to accept our imperfection, to embrace vulnerability as the starting point of spiritual growth, and further to enlightenment. This reminds me of the teachings of Pema Chodron about learning to sit in emotions that make us uncomfortable, and get curious about them. This is the punishment, if we can even call it that. As humans, we are constantly trying to shift out of emotions we have deemed negative, or wrong. We are constantly trying to shift out of suffering. Suffering is the first noble truth of our human existence. It is, dare I say, why we are here. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, and the core of that human experience is weathering suffering. We will suffer.

In the same way, we are asked to look at things from a new perspective and get immensely curious about ourselves. Another paradox here, I suppose, is that this curiosity about ourselves actually creates connection with other people. We first gain compassion for ourselves, then for others, which ultimately helps alleviate our suffering. We surrender to win again, or rather we suffer to alleviate suffering. I think in this way, we must shoot our hostage, as they say. We must take the piece we have been using as our excuse OUT of the equation. We must expose our vulnerability and embrace who we authentically are. This is where the gallows come in. We put ourselves up to scrutiny. We do it in front of others by embracing our own imperfections as PART of what makes us human. 

As they say, suffering is mandatory, but misery is optional. The Hanged Man asks you to sacrifice temporary comfort for long term contentment and enlightenment. The word "sacrifice" means "to make sacred." And so, the Hanged Man asks you to make ALL your experiences sacred, even the ones that evoke the most shame. All are lessons, opportunities for growth, and in that way, we begin to live in the present, and we live in gratitude for each experience, even the one where you are hanging upside down by one foot.

What stands at the center of this card is the Hanged Man's spiritual enlightenment. This is the core of this card. How are you doing to get there? If you pull the Hanged Man, you are asked to be vulnerable, to look at yourself differently than you ever have. Let Go and Let God. Stop controlling and predicting, as Brene Brown says, because vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love. And further, I say, of enlightenment. I love what she says, because it perfectly encapsulates the Hanged man--we cannot numb just the hard feelings in our life. We end up numbing them all. So, the Hanged Man asks you to feel the hard feelings. To sit in them. To get curious about them. And remember that though it is not comfortable, it is also less suffering than not feeling them.

A great affirmation for the Hanged Man might be:

I embrace my vulnerability as my greatest strength. I trust in my Divine path. 

Let me know what you think of this Tarot of the Week, or of the Hanged Man, or anything else on your mind. 

tarot of the week--the devil

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” ― Oscar Wilde

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Spirit does it again. On the heels of last week's discussion about the Lovers, we are moved into the Devil card, XVth of the Major Arcana. You can tell the mood of a card by its background color, and truly the Devil is a dark card. Its imagery is haunting and overwhelmingly bleak. The Devil lifting his hand to silence or welcome you to Hell, holding a torch in the other, the Devil is replete with bat's wings, eagle's claws and a goat-man's head, perching above two enslaved figures. The figures, if you remember, on the Lovers. The upside pentacle on his forehead tells a story as well. It is the perversion of the material.

We all want for home, safety, security. There is no shame in that desire to provide and keep ourselves safe. But the Devil warns of more ominous attachments to the material--obsessive thinking, alcoholism, overeating, drug abuse, sex addiction, obsessive love, extramarital affairs, these are the attachments to the material that the Devil concerns itself with and warns against. The Devil is associated with the astrological sign Capricorn, and when I pull it, I use it to correspond with Root and Sacral Chakra issues. 

This creature is not the fallen angel, Lucifer, nor is he the Devil we are taught about in traditional Western religion. He is an amalgamation of the aberrant, the feared, the stalking symbol of materialism and attachment. And in this way, as Marcia Masino points out, the Devil is purposely not a being we identify. He is all your fears together. The word Devil means the "Adversary" And often this adversary is ourselves, our own attachments to the material. 

So often when I read for people, cards like the Devil are pulled and people groan or feel fearful at their imagery. But Tarot is not punishing, or changing your course. This is the energy around YOU right now. If you get honest, this is something you know about yourself already. The Devil is a reminder, a warning, that your attachment to things, to the material, to people, and even to fear itself is the problem. This is a reminder that you have shifted from your spiritual center, who you believe yourself to be or maybe who  you want to be. What are your priorities? What are your beliefs, your boundaries, and your moral compass? Because the Devil reminds you that what you are doing is far from those things. You have drifted, the card reminds you, from your Higher Power, or your guides, or Love, if that is your belief, the Universe's plan--most importantly, it reminds you that you have drifted from yourself.

Often, I find this card has come to represent addiction--to something or someone. Sometimes it has come to represent someone else's addiction, and our addiction to their addiction. With the Devil, this often represents addiction to a relationship or another person. But it can be anything--shopping, eating, drinking, drugs, sex, watching television. These soul sedatives, as Athena called them, numb us and block our pathway to our Highest Good. And you know, those things worked for us. Alcohol worked for the alcoholic at some point, possible from extreme self-consciousness or from physical or sexual abuse, from trauma the child is not able to face. It numbs us. But then it stops working, and starts causing the problems--losing jobs, friends, getting arrested, or just feeling depressed or ashamed day after day. We have to remember that the Tarot is not judging us, we are judging honest. Can you get honest? Do you want to get honest about what is holding you back from your true purpose in life?

The work we do along the way to our soul's path is rocky. We often have to face hard truths about ourselves during the course of our lifetime. This Devil card asks you to look at the hard truth of HOW you are using the material. See, eating cupcakes isn't a problem. You enjoy a cupcake. Who doesn't? But what if you are eating a cupcake every time you have a conversation with your mother? Are we facing the truth about those conversations? Are we dealing with them? How are we using the cupcake? So, when you pull the Devil in one of those hard positions, take out the judgment. Remember that the cupcake or the clandestine relationship, or the alcohol worked for you. Thank it, and then tell it that is has ceased being useful for you. That you are ready to feel all the emotions that you are meant to feel. See, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We feel deeply, passionately. We are here to learn lessons. If we numb those feelings, our lessons are never quite learned, never realized, never actualized.

So, this is what the Devil asks of you. He challenges you to see yourself as your own worst energy.  What are you afraid of? What are you attached to that isn't serving your highest good? What binds you? What keeps you in bondage and makes you feel prisoner? Is it fear itself? And most importantly, what are you willing to let go of to experience true happiness and freedom? Serenity is right there, if only you can take off your chains and grab hold of it.

Marcia Masino has a great affirmation for the Devil card:

I am a Divine Being of Light, a child of God. I am loved, protected, and enveloped in white light. 

 

What do you think of the Devil? What are you wrestling with? How does the Devil card feel to you?

 

tarot of the week-the lovers

The true beloveds of this world are in their lover's eyes lilacs opening, ship lights, school bells, a landscape, remembered conversations, friends, a child's Sunday, lost voices, one's favorite suit, autumn and all seasons, memory, yes, it being the earth and water of existence, memory. - Truman Capote

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Spirit has a sense of humor to move from the Nine of Swords' worry and insomnia into the Lovers. Sleepless nights and difficult attachments often stem from love or the perversion of love. We worry. We toil. We obsess, but the root of the Lovers is nothing like worry and toil. It is absolute trust in the Divine and further in the divinity of love and the possibility of connection with another human being. This week, we revisit the Major Arcana with a card most people want to draw--the Lovers.

As we begin to take in the images of the Lovers, we are greeted by two naked people, Man and Woman, standing under Archangel Raphael. Is it Adam and Eve? The first couple? The tree of knowledge stands behind the woman with a snake coiling around its trunk. It reminds us of the No. 15 card of the Major Arcana, the Devil. So, the Devil lingers in the idyllic scene of the Lovers. It is so intertwined with the Devil card, you almost cannot mention one without the other. In fact, just because one wants the Lovers doesn't mean one should get the Lovers. We often draw the Devil when we are trying to will the Lovers to come.

  Notice the similar composition and images between the Lovers and the Devil. 

Notice the similar composition and images between the Lovers and the Devil. 

The two cards have very similar layouts. If you look at the Devil card, you notice that the figures on the front are the same as the Lovers. Archangel Raphael presides over the healing of the two Lovers on the No. Six card, while the fallen angel Lucifer presides over the couple on the Devil. Archangel Raphael's hair are leaves, while the pentacle sits on the head of the Devil--both are earthly symbols that mean two entirely different things. The Devil is about attachment to the material, while the leaves represent a kind of harmony with nature and Mother Earth. In this way, the two cards represent two sides of the same coin--love. The Lovers is the ideal love, the blessed love, the harmonious soul mate relationship, while the Devil represents the perversion of love, obsessive love, the attachment to the material, or the superficial, the fear of love, the lack of personal power (this powerlessness comes to represent addiction in the Tarot, also you can see that the female figure has a tail of grapes, meaning she is attached to wine), and of course, addiction. Juxtaposed with the Lovers, the Devil teaches us what love isn't. Or maybe even it is a warning about what love, selfish and self-serving without Spiritual connection, can become.

The Lovers depicts what Marcia Masino calls the mystical rite of Kything, which means to "appear without disguise." Their nakedness represents the absolute vulnerability that becomes the couple's greatest strength. Ms. Masino says "kything is a method of spiritual presence whose purpose is to bring about a loving spiritual connection, union or communion between two or more persons without the spoken word."

The sun shines over the whole scene. There are no secrets, no mysteries, no shadow issues going on. This person who you pull in the Lovers is your soul mate, your twin flame, your partner, your other half. And I think it is important to mention that Archangel Raphael is present in this card. He is the Archangel of Healing and Health. He blesses the two, helps them heal their wounds, nurture their past aches to move into a new spiritual awareness. By our openness with another person, we begin to bear our soul to the Divine. We allow trust to be our guiding force. It is easy in the throes of love, after all, to believe in God and the Divine. Fate, God, Divine pathways and connections, it all makes sense.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience, and this card is about the beauty of that human experience. The mystery of love enlivens us, invigorates our souls, makes us feel the absolute amazing sensations of being human 100 times more intensely. We are human, and it is beautiful. This is what our experience in a body teaches us. To be present. Remember the heart chakra, after all, is the gateway to Spiritual connection--the bridge between the material concerns of the lower chakras to the spiritual issues of the upper chakras. It is here that we learn to unite them, because in romantic love, we bring together all the lower chakra issues--Security  from the Root Chakra, Sexual satisfaction from the Sacral, and Courage and Strength from the Solar Plexus with the Upper Chakra issues--Listening and Speaking the Truth of your Soul in the Throat, Seeing and opening to your Soul Path in the Third Eye, and finally, opening the connection to the Divine in the Crown. We play all this out through our Heart Chakra in the Lovers.

The presence of the angel is not a mistake. There are six archangels in the Tarot, and they appear in the Major Arcana. This is the ideal, then, the oneness of this trinity--the Lovers--Two Humans and the Angel, symbolizing the Divine. We invite God into our partnership and we are granted a lifelong relationship. It is the power behind healing, as Archangel Raphael reminds us.

A great affirmation for this card might be: 

I open my heart to loving, being loved and trusting in love. 

 

tarot of the week-the emperor

Last week's introduction to the Mother of the Tarot, the Empress, reminded us for the maternal energy of Mama Earth and the maternal intensity within ourselves to nurture our dreams, our creativity, and our inner child. The Emperor, number IV of the major arcana, follows the Empress.

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 Regal, staid, authoritative, he acts as the Father of the Tarot.  Paternal energy abounds when Emperor shows up in your reading. The Emperor arrives when you feel empowered, established, knowledgeable, strong, and independent. He is also the archetype of the Leader. Father and leader. Marcia Masino called him the "Christ-figure" of the Major Arcana, the one bringing light. As she explains, "He is the indwelling spiritual ego, the Master causing right instruction and goodwill to be done within the temple." This light within the Emperor resides within all of us. It is the drive to follow our Divine Will. The Emperor is the card which validates our choices. "You know what to do," he says. You are the authority on your Divine path. God lays it  out in front of you. You walk it with authority.

He is also practical, mature, reasoned. A general and an engineer. So, this sense of understanding the Divine path is something that comes from the hard work of shedding ego, releasing the things no longer serving us, and moving forward with knowledge that we have brought the shovel to move mountains. When the Emperor comes, this is the work you have done. Your solid foundation is built of knowledge, truth, fearless self-appraisal, logic, reason, and a bit of compromise that looks nothing like compromise. It looks like honest assessment, as all compromise should be. The truth will bubble to the surface when all the options are boiled in a pot together, and the Emperor is the one to skim it off the top.

In the Fool's journey, we are nurtured by the Empress then brought to the Emperor, the father-figure, the seat of rules, authority, stability, and leadership. He is the card you draw when you need structure and organization, or finally have it. He is the foundation, the stability, the hard organization work of building your leadership qualities, or your business/career, or your household. When you need the rules, or are rebelling against them, or when you are finally coming into a place of power within yourself, the Emperor appears to validate that work.

The crux of the brilliance of Tarot is the many-layered interpretation which we apply to our emotional, physical, and spiritual life through Tarot's deep, rich symbolism. When we pull the Emperor, we decide who this card represents. Is it our leadership, or someone else's? How are we like the Emperor? How are we not? It has often been associated with the astrological sign of Aries, and can sometimes come to represent an Aries man or woman in your life. Or your own father, or someone who has come to take a paternal role in your life. 

A good affirmation for the Emperor is:

I walk my Divine path with full authority and knowledge. 

I'd love to hear your interpretation of the Emperor, or your feelings about this card, the Tarot or any topic you'd like me to cover in this blog. I also urge you to sign up for my newsletter, which links to my blog posts of the week and more information about Moon cycles, tarot, crystal healing and other groovy topics. You can sign up here.

tarot of the week--the empress

 The Triple Goddess symbol shows three cycles of to moon to represent the embodiment of the Maiden, Mother and Crone, the three phases of life, and the path of wisdom.

The Triple Goddess symbol shows three cycles of to moon to represent the embodiment of the Maiden, Mother and Crone, the three phases of life, and the path of wisdom.

This week's Tarot card comes at an auspicious time, when the August full moon, the Corn Moon, reaches her full glory this evening. When we track moon cycles with intention-setting or rather align our spiritual work with moon cycles, the full moon is time when our intentions are being birthed, the moon representing the full pregnant belly of the our intention. In the trinity of goddess-based spirituality, represented by the three moon cycles of waxing, full, waning moon, the full center moon represents the mother, while the other two represent the maiden and the crone respectively.  

The Empress is also the embodiment of the mother archetype. She is the only pregnant  figure in the Tarot, and so she has come to represent pregnancy, birth, fertility, and abundance, as well as nurturing, maternal instincts and the goddess. The heart symbol at her feet carved the symbol of woman. It symbolizes that she holds sacred feminine mystery as well as the compassion and nurturing of Mother Earth, but the pregnant belly contains the fruition of masculine and feminine energies coming together. So, she calls the receiver of her messages to blend those parts of themselves too.

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Her dress is covered in pomegranate, a symbol of Persephone's journey into the underworld. The pomegranate's etymology literally translates as apple with many seeds, and so the pomegranate symbol is inviting you to plant your seeds. Incidentally, the root of the word seed, granata, is also the root of the garnet, so use garnet to plant those seeds. The pomegranate came to represent abundance, fertility, prosperity and generosity. The wheat at her feet, another symbol of abundance here as well as the goddess Demeter, mother of Persephone. This story of Demeter and Persephone also harkens to the triple goddess as Persephone is seen as the maiden, and Demeter, the mother (the grieving mother) who literally transforms herself into the crone as she grieves her daughter. The Empress' scepter holds the full moon. The moon in Tarot represents this esoteric, mysterious knowledge, the feminine, the shadow. As she wields it with power and magic, so too do we wield power when we hold the knowledge of our own shadows. Her crown is made up of twelve stars, which is sometimes seen as the twelve chakra system. Behind her runs the waterfall, a clear blue pool of emotional stability (water always represents the emotions in Tarot symbology). All this culminates in a kind of mother wisdom, she holds that knowledge and shares it with her children. As Empress, she is mother to all the world. She is the Mother Earth, providing all that we need.

That nurturing aspect of the Empress that runs through her symbology. She calls you to nurture those creative parts of you too. To give birth to your ideas, to allow creative projects and energies to incubate and be born into the world, abundance will follow, she says. Prosperity is yours for the taking, just ask the Empress.  When we pull the Empress, we ask what we need to nurture in ourselves. What creative projects are we raising up? What parts of ourself are ripening? Of course, this card can be literally about mothering--who are we mothering right now? Are we being more mother than wife? Or losing ourselves in mothering? Or are we wanting to be a mother? 

In the deepest roots of this card, we must pull up the nutrients of self-love, self-acceptance and self-worth. Are we mired in self-pity? Or are we nurturing ourselves with self-compassion? This is the heart of this card. Nurture yourself so the true fruits of your dreams can be manifest. 

An beautiful affirmation for this card might be: 

I accept and love myself, just as I am, in alignment with the Divine. 

 

tarot of the week-the world

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Last week's card of the week, the Magician, the great manifestor, kicks off the Fool's journey, as the Fool begins his vision quest through the Archetypes of the Major Arcana. (Funnily, I also randomly chose Citrine as the crystal of the week last week. Guess it was a week of ABUNDANCE!) And this week, my random tarot pull of the week is card XXI, the last card of the Major Arcana, the World. 

The World is about completion, fulfillment, and freedom--freedom from fear, freedom from self-limiting thoughts, freedom from the confines of our past.  As you can see the androgynous figure on the front of this card is holding the same wand as the Magician. Only there are two, and nothing is being wielded for power. Anima Mundi, as the figure is called, is power. She is the spiritual energy that animates all of life.

But it's not as simple, or profane as power in the sense as we know it here in politics or our jobs, or relationship struggles. This is the power that is tapped into when we align our will with the Divine will. It is the paradox of surrendering to win, and this is the card of that win. Part of what that means is that we become Divine through aligning our will with God's will. And through that Divinity and awakening, we can now deal with the Minor arcana concerns with more clarity and focus. 

The journey of the Major Arcana is not a journey of simply aligning your will to Divine will without the steps involved. All of them, really. The beautiful Empress to the dark shadow work of the Devil to the unforeseen suffering of the Tower--all of these challenges and victories lead to self-realization, self-actualization and self-knowledge. It is only when everything about ourselves is fully illuminated that we can, with full knowledge and free-will, turn our will over to Divine will.  

The World is a card you want to see anywhere in your layout. The World is yours, literally. You may feel that way, or it may seem that way. You have journeyed to this point and it is a beautiful place to be. The challenge of this card resides in self-deception, false humility and denial. When this card is in the blockage position, the cards ask you to look at whether or not you feel enlightened, but still have work to do. Are you resting on some laurels that don't exist? Are you wielding your spiritual growth as a weapon to others? When the World is reversed, it means your success is there. It is a lessened feeling of completion, but still completion. Maybe you won the battle, but are still in war. 

The affirmation of the World is this: 

I align my will with the Divine will to fully embody my true nature and my soul's path for the Highest Good of All.