Lesson 25 – The Devil

A little time to ground before we begin today.  Take three deep breaths.  Come back into your body, feel the seat, allow a few moments to become aware of sounds around you, sensations in the body.  Listen to this and pause…

Now set the intention that you are safe, protected and much loved.  If you work with visualisations set yourself inside a giant, light-filled soap bubble (like Glinda from the Wizard of Oz…)

wo-the-wizard-of-oz-25836025-380-304

This is, for me, one of the most challenging of the major cards.  I was brought up in the church and in my teens attended several charismatic/ evangelical churches where I heard all kinds of scary teaching about the devil.  This figure shadowed my spiritual journey for a long time until I left church and chose to reject that teaching.

Look at your Devil card and the image.  Often there is a male figure or a horned demon.  This figure sometimes holds two people by chains.  There is a sense of being trapped, tied up, imprisoned.  In the Gaian Tarot the figure is hunched up on the ground and trapped in bindweed, smothered.

The images are often sinister, speaking of shadows, secrets lurking in dark, dusty corners…but these aren’t monsters under the bed, or fairy story baddies.  For me this card is about what keeps me tied up, locked down, small, scared, or in unhealthy and destructive patterns of behaviour.  It’s the card of addictions and choosing to let these rule me rather than get myself free…

chain-690088__340

Exercise 25

Firstly a bit of honesty.  This isn’t a comfortable card; it challenges.  Where in your life might there be unhealthy patterns?  You don’t have to write it down, or share it all over social media, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and admit it’s there…

If you feel it would be helpful you might like to try this:

A simple ritual to help break chains…remember this is the intention, where the magic begins, the work follows after, intention then action…

background-2138132__340

You will need:

  • Thread-  embrodiery silk or kitchen string are good (if you like to work with colour then black or purple are great but anything will do).
  • A candle (black, purple or white or anything you have to hand…)
  • A pair of scissors.
  • A piece of paper and a pen.

What to do:

  • Light your candle.
  • Say out loud, “I am safe and protected”.
  • Hold the piece of thread in your non-dominant hand.   Imagine this is the cord which ties you, give it a name, e.g. “this is the cord of my overworking”. Feel how that addiction affects your life and health and wellbeing, how it dulls your magic.
  • When you are ready to cut the cord, and symbolically set yourself free, take the scissors and snip the cord in two.  You will discard this later.
  • Take your piece of paper and write down an intention; something along the lines of “I hold the key, I choose to be free.”
  • Close your sacred space by blowing out the candle.
  • Place the intention where you can see it while you’re working with it (this could take a while!)
  • Discard the thread.  You don’t need that anymore.

sea-1993791__340

 

 

Lesson 24 – Temperance

This has the feel of something vintage, a concept that’s considered outdated.  The temperance movement came to be about “not doing”, something strident, and angry, prohition. Thou shalt not.  We often shy away from such absolutes in more modern and liberal times.

glasses-213156__340

Look at your card; what do you notice?

I see:

  • cups
  • liquid
  • snakes entwined – one black and one red
  • a bubbling cauldron
  • a witch holding a carrot in one hand and a cupcake in the other

A card of balance, of both/ and, moving away from duality, flow, equilibrium.

torrent-3119822__340

Exercise 24

  • After you’ve noted any observations from your card spend some time with water.
  • Water seems to be key to this card, flow which allows balance to be restored or achieved.
  • If you can get to a natural water source go and visit; the sea, a river or stream, a lake.  Spend some time watching the water.  Or take a pause next time it rains wher eyou are to notice what happens to water in gutters and running across pavements.
  • Play with water for a while. Enact the card. Pour it from one vessel to another.
  • What would it feel like in your body to have this kind of flowing balance?  What changes might you need to make to lifestyle? Diet? Work practices?

lake-irene-1679708__340

Lesson 23 – Death

Open the doors and windows.  Let the light shine in.  Shake your body.  Take a deep breath.  This card comes to wake us up.  In class today you’re going to sit with your fellow students, share your cards.  You’re going to share stories of endings and beginnings.  You might notice images of bones, of shadowy, veiled figures, there might be crows, skulls, roses, wilting flowers.  Thistledown.

dandelion-626389__340

This card is traditionally the one people fear the most. I’ve had people sit down for readings looking terrified that this might come up, as though I am about to predict some doom on them or their loved ones.

It isn’t that.  It is a part of life.

Nowadays we are cut off from death.  From birth too.  Often these major transitions happen in hospitals, attended by professionals.  Our unknowing makes us fearful.  We can’t control this.  Reflections on mortality can be found here

landscape-1802337__340

For me this card also points at the cycles and phases of life, and my experience with this card is very much in this vein.  It points to the end of one phase, a closing off, the sadness, grief, despair which that brings. Often these are dramatic closures, relationships finishing, whole ways of working and living suddenly driving off a cliff into the void…

But there is a gift too.  In my favourite Death cards there is the imagery of dying plants.  And I know that in the plant there are seeds.  That in this ending, however unwelcome,  however long I grieve,  the seeds for the next cycle are waiting.

Exercise 23

Take the time to sit with this card.  Journal whatever arises.

floral-199099__340

Acknowledge your endings, light a candle if that helps and give thanks for what that phase/ person/ situation brought you.

When you have a chance buy a packet of seeds and plant them.  Wildflowers are good.  As you hold them in your hand think of the flower which grew and lived and died to produce them.  Then scatter them and let the new cycle begin.

 

Lesson 22 – The Hanged Man

What is it like to let go?

feather-647967__340

What does it feel like to surrender, not as a victim, as an act of power, a choice?

Let’s get immersive.

Exercise 22

Find yourself a quiet space.  Sit, or lie down.

Listen to this.

As you do so clench your fists and then open them, consciously letting go;

  • of stress
  • of obligation
  • of the need to know
  • of arguments
  • of emotional pain
  • of old stories
  • of “doing”

The key is in your hand.

soap-bubbles-2417436__340

You might also like to take a pot of bubbles outside into nature and send them away with your good wishes.  Set them free.

This post talks about this too.

Come and share a picture of your bubbles (if you can catch them!)

Lesson 21 – Justice

We’re coming to a challenging series of cards.  At this point the archtypes we met in the first part of the Major Arcana are replaced by cards representing in some ways states of being or experiences which lead us into growth.

justice-9016__340

This is a card I find difficult.  I am a liberal thinker.  I took Ethics in my A Level studies and one of the aspects which drove me crazy was always being able to see the other perspective.  I would mostly think one thing was right, but then…on the other hand.

Two of my cards show black and white cats, suggesting an either/ or kind of justice, bad/ good, right/ wrong, dualism, polarity.  Often it’s more complicated than that, there are grey areas, we have to find a best fit. Then there is justice within our legal systems, and more global notions of morality, where do they intersect?

I am struck too by the sword and the blindfold.  The sword reminds me of Solomon and his threat to bi-sect the babies.  Justice can be described as “rough” where it’s violent.   In The EveryDay Witch Justice is peeping out from under her blindfold.  I am not sure I want “blind” Justice.  I’d rather feel that I’d been seen and understood.  In The Gaian Tarot there is  a global perspective with images of non-human animals, as though calling me to consider that justice needs to be considered for all life on earth.  For me increasingly I am reminded of the threefold law; the belief that what I put out into the world will return to me three-fold…something to think about.

justice-2060093__340

Exercise 21

Look at your card(s), use your guidebook if needed to see different perspectives:

  • What does your card show of the idea of “Justice”?
  • Looking at the images on this page what do they say to you about justice?
  • If you turned this card up in a reading today, for yourself, what would it mean to you?
  • If this card was a fabric what would it feel like?  Comforting, rough, rigid, smooth?
  • Is justice the same as fairness? (I don’t know the answer to this one, I’m just wondering…)
  • If you can write down what this card means for you.

hammer-802301__340

Lesson 20 – The Wheel of Fortune

Morning and hello, how’s things in your neck of the universe?

barley-field-1684052__340

I am getting to noticing something which feels unusual on one level, but on another, totally to be expected.  I’m working with the cards in a new way.  Taking one each day, spending some time with it, pondering.  Increasingly the cards are becoming a mirror to events, or events are becoming a mirror of the cards, I wonder if you’re finding this too?

beautiful-16736__340

This card for me is a “that’s life” kind of a card.  Sometimes the ball is in our court, sometimes it just isn’t.  And that’s ok.  We often grow up with the feeling that we are always meant to be on top.  That we are to be top of the class or in a “good mood” or always positive and striving forwards.  The natural world doesn’t work that way, and I don’t believe we are meant to either.  Life is ebb and flow, fullness and emptiness, birth and death, cycles of growth, harvest, fading and then renewal.  All of this sits in this card.

This and the wheel of the year, which itself, at least in temperate climates, reminds us of the same pattern.

My favourite deck for this card is The Everyday Witch Tarot.  A cheeky witch stands by a game-style wheel, ready to spin, as though asking, well, what’s it going to be for you today?  For me, it’s a card of releasing control, waiting and seeing, accepting ups and downs, life’s rollercoaster.  And knowing that each one is ok.

sunset-958145__340

Exercise 20

  • Jot down your key words and phrases… if you have time maybe try some of the activities below…
  • Can you map your own wheel of the year? For your area and location? For your own family or tribe? Where are the full times and the spaces? Where are the “hot spots” and where the shady places to find a bit of peace?
  • Can you do this for your life, drawing a squiggly line across the page to show your highs and lows?
  • If you can go to the ocean and watch the tide as it washes the shore, or to a river and watch as it flows past, always shifting: take one small pebble as a reminder.

water-243910__340

Lesson 19 – The Hermit

A lesson with a difference. In the spirit of experiential learning…

hermit-54748_1920

Exercise 19

Take your Hermit card with you. Go and spend ten minutes on your own. Go into the garden, lock yourself in the bathroom, drive to a quiet spot and just sit, take yourself into a church or library. Be in your own company. Listen to your heart beating. Remember who you are…

Lesson 18 – Strength

Today I’m standing at the front of the class and reminiscing.  For me to talk about this card begins with what it isn’t…

strength lioness oracleOn the day we started at secondary school they sat us in the hall and told us about Douglas Bader.  Like him we were to reach for the skies.  There were no limits to what we would achieve.  We were told (it was a girls’ school) we were as good as boys and anything they could do we could do better.  It was the era of Margaret Thatcher, the “iron lady”, huge shoulder pads and Filofaxes, you’ve got to strive to succeed, no slacking. Be a “strong” woman (i.e. like a stereotypical man…)

I also thought strength was about military stuff.  I grew up in a military family.  It’s a bit like the water your goldfish swims in, it doesn’t question the water,  it just swims, held and surrounded.  So guns and knives and things (to quote Dougal in the Magic Roundabout) were part of life; parades, uniforms, an awareness of conflict.  The army fed me.

There comes a point in life when that way of doing strong doesn’t work.  Bashing each other with sticks on any level isn’t going to make for harmonious surroundings and limits our life chances.  And pushing to be “strong” and succeed in those terms can leave us burned out and broken.

strength GWT

But I digress…turn to your primer (in this case, a deck of cards) and pull out your strength card.  Take a good long look.  What do you see? Call it out and I’ll write it on the board…

Lion.  Red flowers or roses.  A woman.  A child.  Infinity.  Blood. Yellow eyes.  Wisdom. Serenity.

For me this is the card of the end place.  It is what you find in the darkness when things get worse than you could ever imagine, and then a bit more.  It is the strength of the wild self, at the limits of the known.  The moon-wrought steel forged through pain, in body, mind or heart.  And it is the ability to stay soft even though you’re now a member of the scar clan. The woman is me, some version of me, the lion my wild self, they are together, at peace. Strength through love and compassion.

Exercise 18

Ideas for exploring this card…

  • What has made you stronger?
  • How do you connect to your strength?
  • Where do you expereince strength in your body?
  • Create a collage about strength or collage your own version of this card.
  • Write a song or create a playlist which speaks of the strength you see in this card…

strength gaian

[ Images (in order) from The Lioness Oracle Tarot, The Green Witch Tarot and The Gaian Tarot]

Lesson 17 – The Chariot

Hey there lovely tarot types.  How are you doing today?  I hope today will bring you some sunshine in one form or another wherever and whenever you are.

Let’s begin.

Sit on your chair with your feet flat on the floor.  Breathe and imagine that breath making its way down your spine and into your seat, anchoring you in place.  Breath out.  Breath in again, securing yourself in place.  As you breathe allow the distractions of the day to drift away from you for a few moments.  Rest in this space for a while.

red car

I have been noticing an increasing number of synchronicities as I work with these cards.  Today I have a job interview.  Which to me reflects the energy of The Chariot.  For me this card is about taking control and having the skills to do so.  Life throws us curve balls on a regular basis, this card is about reaching into our tool kit and finding the resources to face them down and steer a course ahead.

My cards show a range of images, from the mermaid steering dolphins in Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot to the man in a canoe in The Gaian Tarot; the Battle Wagon of the Green Witch Tarot or the flying carpet in the Accurate AF Tarot.  They all have a sense of movement, control, travel, decision, will.  The figures, where figures appear are purposeful, determined, some crowned with laurels for success.  I find a lot of tarot cards speak to my inner life and work, but this to me is a card for the externals, for bringing forth, through effort, a piece of work.

girl-2573111__340

Exercise 17

After you’ve recorded your key words and phrases sit back and imagine your life as a movie.

It’s one of those scenes where you’ve faced adversity,  maybe you’re in an office surrounded by chaos, or sitting on the sofa with a tub of ice cream after one challenge too many.  Suddenly the music in the soundtrack changes.  You look up, an idea written all over your face.  A montage follows as you take back control of your life, clearing out old cupboards, gathering uneeded possessions, dragging them off to goodwill, cleaning windows, painting a sign, sharing your venture with others…you get the idea.

Your task is to find your song for this montage, and play it loud today.  Drop by the group to share your song…  This is mine…

Tea break

Hey there lovely people.  I imagine you all trooping into class ready to learn. I want to encourage you today, and for the next few days, to get out there and play.

girl-1357485__340

Play with your cards, paint, sketch, find ways to bring the energy of your birth card or year card into your daily.  Or leave your cards on one side and break out the board games, or Lego, or bubbles, or playdough.

Most of all take some time to breathe.  The journey of the cards mirrors the journeys in our lives and allowing for the ebb and flow is everything.  Sending much love to you.

beach-84533__340