Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!

And Happy New Year!

For those who follow the Wheel of the Year, tonight marks a particularly special turning--the ending of one and the beginning of another. Which makes The Fool a particularly apt companion.

As with all cards marking the moments between in the tarot, the Fool is paradox in action. Resplendent in motley, eyes looking up, The Fool is all about the beginning of the journey. The Fool's Journey, as played out through the Major Arcana, begins with this first step and ends with The World.

May your journey around the Wheel begin and end with love, and laughter, and all good things. May you find colorful characters on your doorstep, and may you have sweet surprises the whole year long.

Monday, October 24, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Three of Cups

For me, the tarot is the Swiss Army knife of divination— I think that's one of the reasons I return to it again and again, finding new uses and meanings and purposes every time I do. Last week, I explained how divination wasn't fortune telling, for there is no locked and fixed future as long as we have free will. Our choices will always unfold new destinies for us.

This active, fertile tension between choice and fate is why I sometimes ask the Universe to choose a card for me (my usual practice here on the blog) and why I sometimes choose for myself, picking a card that resonates with an energy that I would like to explore or that I want to honor with my attention and intention.

This week's card—the Three of Cups—falls into the latter category. See, I just returned from UU Womenspirit, a gathering of women honoring the Feminine Divine through song and circles, workshops and worship. Arthur Waite's description of the Three of Cups describes this energy perfectly: "Maidens in a garden-ground with cups uplifted, as if pledging one another. Divinatory meanings: The conclusion of any matter in plenty, perfection and merriment; happy issue, victory, fulfillment, solace, healing."

Yes. Exactly that.

So I chose this card to honor my return home, my cup running over, my heart enriched with memory and connection and gratitude for these women who shared space with me, who held space for me, who opened up new vistas and viewpoints and revelations.

I returned home to community too, my fellow Mojito Literary Society members, writers and poets and creatives of all sorts who are always there to provide support and connection and juice. I previously wrote about the need for such writerly connection as expressed in the Three of Cups—you can find that here—but we all need reminding. As I wrote then:
"We humans raise our glasses for lots of reasons: to toast, to honor, but also to pledge. That's what the three women are doing in this card — pledging and promising to be there for each other, and to hold each other to that pact. To help each other remember. And re-member."
This week, re-member with your community, with the people who keep you sane and joyful in your work, who remind you of who you are, who toast your successes and console you on your losses. Who are your connection to what matters: your own circle of belonging.

I raise my chalice to each and every one of you. Thank you for joining me on this tarot journey, however you come to it. I am glad to have you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why Tarot Isn't Fortune Telling (at least not for me anyway)

I'm away at a retreat this week (which explains why you're getting your weekly Writer's Tarot so late). Instead of doing a reading this week, I decided to reshare an older post explaining my own tarot philosophy. So perhaps you will get where I'm coming from in these weekly posts.

Back to the Writerly Tarot next week!


When I explain my tarot philosophy, one of the first things I tell people is that I don't practice fortune-telling. Perhaps this deserves a little more explanation.

When I use the phrase "fortune-telling," what I mean is that I don't use the cards to predict your future. Reading the cards isn't like pulling a piece of paper from a cookie. The "future" isn't a concrete static phenomena—-it isn't even singular. It is multiple. Our every action and reaction spins new universes into being—-and extinguishes others—-by the choices that we make. And there are so many universes to choose from, right at our fingertips!

This is what free will is-—the ability to choose. What tarot does is give you information about those choices-—what factors are influencing them, what consequences might lie ahead—-so that you can make decisions consciously, with smarts and awareness. So that you can create your future, not have it delivered to you at the end of your meal.

Tarot does this by providing a channel of communication for your brain, a pipeline between your rational conscious and intuitive subconscious minds. You know the kind of knowing that doesn't seem logical, the kind that comes from somewhere in your middle, the kind we often call "gut instinct?" That's your intuition. It knows stuff. Like a magpie, it collects facts and emotions and cause-and-effect situations and then in a non-linear and often mysterious fashion, delivers this knowledge to you.

That makes it hard to understand sometimes. Think of your subconscious as a vast library--lots of information on the shelves, more coming in every day, but unless you have a way to find what you need when you need it, pretty overwhelming. Tarot is like a very smart, very friendly librarian who brings you exactly what you ask for-—what you do with that information, however, is up to you.

By acting as a container for your inner wisdom, tarot allows you to distance yourself from your own knowing, which is the first step in being able to objectively look at any decision you must make. As your own responses to the images in the deck bubble up, you can examine your feelings, try out different scenarios, look at situations from a different perspective. The cards are symbols made tangible, the deeps of the human psyche literally right at our fingertips.

Some people accuse tarot of being woo-woo, spooky, supernatural. It's not—-brain science and psychology reveal its mechanisms in all their neurological transparency. All divination systems, including tarot, work perfectly well this way, as a scientifically explainable phenomena, as a clever hat trick forged by centuries of human evolution.

But does tarot also tap something mystical? Is it ever true divination in that it participates with an infinite universal knowing? Is tarot a way to connect with the Divine?

That's a personal decision between you and your spiritual conscience. Tarot works whether or not you invest it with any spiritual significance. Like any object—-cups and incense, water and wine—-it can be either sacred and mundane.

Of course, it can be also both. That's the land where I live. But you get to choose for yourself.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tarot For All of Us: The Tower and the Sun

You might have heard that those of us on the lower East Coast had an unwelcome visitor last week -- Hurricane Matthew.

Like most tales full of sound and fury, Matthew left chaos and destruction in its wake. The death toll in the US was low compared to other regions, especially Haiti, but we did suffer losses -- the two communities I call home lost people to this storm, and it is somberly and with my gratitude that my family and I emerge back into the Sun.

But we did emerge. And life goes on pretty much as it was before those winds scoured our area, before the waters flooded in. The Tower has finally crumbled for us, and we are standing.

This is not so for many people, especially in Haiti. Trying to figure out how to help is hard, especially considering the problems last time this island suffered a hurricane hit. Charity Navigator is an excellent way to find qualified, verified, reputable organizations who can make a difference. Find that HERE.

Choose one. Send what you can. Do it with a heavy but grateful heart that you still have something to share.

Blessed be, everybody. May the Sun shine warmly on your shoulders, and may you share that warmth with all whose lives touch yours.

Monday, October 3, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Four of Swords

It's been that kind of week here. One thing after another, deadline upon deadline, tedious detail work and odious clean-up work and work that's just...ugh. A week like this one puts paid to the old adage that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You might not have kicked the bucket, but you certainly don't feel stronger.

The tarot has a suggestion: play dead.

That's the advice from the Four of Swords, another one of those cards where the nature of the suit—in this case the active masculine properties of the Swords—is at odds with the number of the card. Fours are about stability and foundations—think squares—and as such, like to arrange all the ducks in a row.

Easy to do when the ducks are dead. But ah, there are depths to this particular dying, which of course isn't about physical death at all. There is tension in this card between action and passivity, and it is best resolved by remembering how the tarot looks at death (which you can read more about here).

The Four of Swords is about death, certainly. The swords it depicts are no longer put to martial use. They are now symbolic reminders, much like the effigy of the deceased on the tomb. In the tarot, death is always transitional. It is always active, even if it looks as still as...well, you know.

For busy folk, being still can feel like death. The Four of Swords understands. And yet, it asks us to be still anyway, to move through the discomfort, and to find ourselves whole and healed on the other side of our stillness. Creative work often feels like a 24/7 gig, and it often is. Even worse, it often comes with a terrible taskmaster of a boss, one who insists on squeezing the productivity out of every second.

Ignore that bossy boss this week, says the tarot. If you can take a nice long break, take it. But even if you can't, you can make time to sit with stillness. Breathe around the sharp discomfort. Unyoke yourself from the oxen of duty. 

Rest. Sleep. Perchance to dream. Who knows what dreams may come?