I use tarot and oracle cards as tools for reflection and contemplation. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."
"The goal isn't to arrive, but to meander, to saunter, to make your life a holy wandering." ~ Rami Shapiro

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Stiff Upper Lip

This week I'll be using the Fairytale Tarot, a deck and book set published by Magic Realist Press and created by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov. The oracle deck I'll be using this week is the Tree Affirmation Cards created and self-published by Victoria Sofia Lewis. Today's draws are the Ten of Swords and Lilac:
          The tale of "The Constant Tin Soldier" is about a toy soldier who starts off his life in bad straits (having one leg), then gets tossed outside (experiencing harrowing adventures), only to make it back home in time to be thrown in the stove fire (where he burns with his love, the paper ballerina). Throughout all his ordeals he keeps a stiff upper lip, remaining at attention and showing no emotion. Sure it may sound romantic and courageous, but that's the icing that hides the delusion and ignorance. Ideals and philosophies are great, until they turn you into a blockhead that common sense can't penetrate. Then you end up as someone who no longer knows how to have a discussion, because you are convinced you already have the truth. Lilac's keyword is 'faith' (you can smell it without seeing it). I've walked away from my childhood faith and found Buddhism, which doesn't ask that you believe something without testing it for yourself. The other day, watching the chaos in Charlottesville, VA, I lost my faith in America. However, seeing the counter-protesters come out in such great numbers in Boston, I feel like our country has a chance to survive Trump's rhetoric and presidency. In the meantime, I refuse to stand by with my mouth shut and be a tin patriot.
Patriotism is proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, “the greatest,” but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.
~ Sydney J. Harris

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Energy Costs

From the Ferret Tarot, the Six of Pentacles; from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle, the Hummingbird:
          If you want to know why the ferret on the left is being so timid about taking the gift, check out the tight hold and grimace of the other. Obviously she knows accepting this present is going to cost her something. The giver seems to have a hard time understanding the concept of unconditional giving. The cash register in his head is probably ringing up what this will cost him, but also what he is hoping to get in return. If she takes it, there will have been an exchange - the gift for an expectation of reimbursement in some form. Hummingbirds requires an immense amount of nectar to maintain their high metabolism (scaled to the size of a human, it translates to about 155,000 calories a day). Energy must be managed carefully for survival. Intention, in a sense, is a powerful source of energy. If mine are aggressive (as the giver above), then that is the kind of energy I send out (which is not very cost effective for me in the end). Wayne Dyer suggested that everyone has within them seeds that produce rather than deplete us, which he called the Seven Faces of Intention: creativity, kindness, love, beauty, expansion, abundance (gratitude), and receptivity. These are the gifts that keep on giving and cost nothing but a bit of time.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Worth It

From the Ferret Tarot, the Six of Swords; from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle, the Sea Turtle:
          I'm convinced that Roombas are smarter than most humans, because these vacuum robots know how to navigate obstacles instead of run into them over and over. When humans look for a solution, whether it's to solve a problem or get out of a blue funk, we will continue to do the same things even though they don't work. When we get tired of that, we bring other people into our 'boat,' expecting them to tell us what to do. But there really is only one fix: steer the mind in a different direction. No one can do this for us (which is why I'm glad to see the ferret piloting his own boat). The problem we run into when trying to train the mind is that our patterns have well-worn paths that our thoughts would prefer to follow. It's not easy to blaze a new trail, which is where the Sea Turtle's keyword of endurance comes in. Most sea turtles migrate well over a thousand miles each year, between their feeding grounds and the beaches where they nest. Their message is that the effort is worth the result.
You need to see where you are going, and you also need a way to get there. The way to get there is what is referred to as skillful means. ~ Judy Lief

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Just Shine

From the Ferret Tarot, the Hermit; from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle, the Luna Moth:
          As one de-motivational poster (showing the Titanic sinking) put it, "It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others." But thankfully there are also those who have discovered a more joyful way to live that involves less suffering. Like the Hermit, they can let their light shine (attraction rather than promotion) or they can get on social media and advertise. Personally, I'd rather watch how someone navigates life and ask for pointers than be bombarded by nonstop promotional emails or phone calls. The Luna Moth has a wingspan of 4.5 inches and spends the whole week of its life in moth form seeking a mate rather than eating. Mating takes place after midnight, and egg-laying begins that evening. Rather than in the glare of the sun, these moths create the next generation under the soft light of the moon. Both these cards imply that a gentle approach - simply being a living example - is better than a hard sell.
Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining - they just shine.
~ Dwight L. Moody

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Exercising Kindness

From the Ferret Tarot, Strength; from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle, the Snake:
          Weight-lifting might seem the wrong kind of power Strength generally implies, unless you think of the focus on breathing as it is done. Any kind of exercise (such as holding a yoga pose) creates intentional stress in the body; as the muscles tighten, it is easy to constrict or hold the breath. It takes a conscious effort to relax the diaphragm and let air flow through the lungs. Daily life is full of a similar type of stress that often contracts the body and breath. But remembering to breathe slowly and deeply can create space to think clearly rather than impulsively react. Snake's message of healing combined with the Strength card suggest compassion and kindness. Pema Chodron explained three steps of developing these traits:
1) The king or queen - the leader can't help the kingdom if his or her own life isn't in order. Practicing kindness towards oneself (rather than self-pity or self-indulgence) is a requirement if one is to be of benefit to others.
2) The ferryman - the ferryman has everyone in the same boat with him or her; the realization dawns that no matter how different we are, we all suffer. Everyone will experience pain and eventually death.
3) The shepherd - the shepherd puts the needs of the sheep ahead of his or her own wants. This isn't done out of expectation or obligation, but because he or she cares about the sheep.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Confrontation with Reality

From the Ferret Tarot, the Tower; from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle, Mushroom:
          The ferrets had their automatic feeder taken away, because the vet said they were becoming a little pudgy. Now they have scheduled feedings in measured amounts. Of course the fuzzy darlings thought they were starving with this new change, so they made a plan to dip into the bag of ferret chow while everyone was asleep. It seemed the perfect solution until one too many caused the bag to topple, sending kibble scattering noisily across the hardwood floor. I am convinced humans will believe just about anything if it appears to 'protect' them from uncertainty or whatever scares them. But the natural laws of life will eventually deconstruct any tower of belief we build. When it falls, we may often try to build another, more improved version, which is where Mushroom's message of caution steps in. Seeing the volva (bulb-like base) of the fungi makes me think these are likely from the Amanita family, which includes some of the most toxic and deadly mushrooms worldwide. Because they often closely resemble edible fungi, many people have been poisoned by them. Is it worth the energy to rebuild another Tower if it too will come crashing down at some point?
Each day presents a new confrontation with reality. I want to run; instead, I breathe. One breath—the freedom to choose my response in that moment. 
—Marilyn Buck  

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sussing Out the Truth

From the Ferret Tarot, the King of Swords; from the Nature's Wisdom Oracle, the Artichoke:
When the body is tired, fiction can strangely start to resemble nonfiction. When the heart aches, it can be easy to mistake fantasy for reality. And when one's passion is burning brightly, the end can readily be used to rationalize the means. No wonder this ferret judge looks so serious; he's got a heavy burden when it comes to sussing out the truth in tangled circumstances. Clarity and objectivity are his goal, as he cuts away the brambles to find the facts. I wonder just how bored or hungry the first person to consider that the artichoke might be edible was. Yet there is value in this vegetable for more than only a food. The pulp of the petal-like bracts contain the chemical cynarine, which inhibits taste receptors and makes water (and other foods and drinks) seem sweet. The artichoke also has one of the highest antioxidant contents of all vegetables. What is the purpose/value of finding the truth? Surely it involves more than just labeling actions right or wrong and punishing those who've caused damage. Perhaps it is so clarity can restructure the conditions that caused the spread of untruths and prevent future harm.