Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Nine of Cups — Renaissance Tarot

Artist: Helen Jones

Author: Jane Lyle


A delightful person whom I do not know suggested that when I don’t know what to write, I look at others’ blogs for inspiration. So I read her blog today and paraphrase a sentence and steal a few words. Such are the wiles of the writer.


In spite of my “best efforts,” [none] I’m not able to write a blog nearly as often as I like [every day], given that I have to simultaneously nurse a baby and bounce her up and down [okay not simultaneously] when I’m not nursing her and attempt to nap when she’s attempting to nap and— wait— I just stay home all day. Sigh. Actually, I have very little to do. I stare at my baby. I tell people who are visiting me [bless them!] to do things for me. Mow the lawn! Cook me dinner! Wash the dishes!


I draw the Nine of Cups. Enjoy yourself! [It will only get more difficult.]


Sometimes I sit here and stare at my baby and think, “this is exactly what I’ve always wanted.” The thing is, I never thought about wanting this, exactly. It’s contentment and satisfaction and happiness that I’ve always wanted, tho I haven’t always known it. These things come in many forms. In my experience, goal-oriented happiness-seeking does not lead to the same level of contentment as acceptance-of-life happiness-seeking.


A friend I met while planting trees in Alaska has a Chinese (?) tattoo on her shoulder. When I was twenty-two, I asked what it meant. She said— “It means, enjoy life.” Then, with habitual honesty, she edited herself— “Actually, it means enjoy yourself, but I tell people it means enjoy life because I don’t want them to take it the wrong way.”


I thought, “What is the difference between enjoy life and enjoy yourself?” I prefer enjoy yourself. It is somehow both more immediate and more permanent.


Ten years later, working in Hawaii, I met a native man who’d grown up on Ni’ihau. He had the most pleasant temperament, tho he said when he was younger, he was quick to anger. He loved to tell tales and I loved to listen. Whenever it was time for me to go— for it was never time for him to go— he blessed me with the words, “Enjoy yourself.” I thought of the friend I’d met in Alaska when I was younger. I thought how wise these people are, these people who enjoy themselves.


Enjoy yourself!

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Five of Coins — Sakki-Sakki Tarot

Monicka Clio SakkiArtist: Monicka Clio Sakki

Author: Monicka Clio Sakki & Carol Anne Buckley


Like all fives, the Five of Coins indicates a situation of conflict. The difficulty here is with money, wealth, or possessions. Times are hard. Life sometimes seems meaningless. What is the purpose of such material things as we surround ourselves with? If we open our minds and accept life without the comforts we are used to, what new things do we find? All things material are impermanent.


With patience and courage, the feeling of impoverishment can be overcome. The tools to do the dirty work are with us all the time. It is easy to look in the accustomed places for comfort and a sense of belonging; it is difficult to see a whole new world of riches that lies just beneath our feet.


•   •   •


I once lived in Hawaii. I worked with an arborist in an immense botanical garden, where I climbed trees big enough to hold tree-mansions. In my spare time, I swam in the ocean, out in the open ocean, swam from beach to beach out in the ocean, all alone. I brought nothing with me. I wore goggles and a swimsuit. I swam for hours on end. I swam with turtles, dolphins, humpback whales, and a myriad of fishes, out there, all alone. I came to land like a mermaid, uneasy on my legs. I was in love with the ocean. I was madly in love with the ocean. It was almost enough to sustain me— but I was missing community. I had no family. I belonged in the ocean, all alone, but I did not belong on land.


When my boss became tyrannical and abusive, I had no where to turn for help. His actions took away the beauty I had found in life. I became sick. I had no energy. Hanks of hair fell out of my head; much of my remaining hair turned white. Eventually, I realized the most important thing is family. Because I had not made a new family of people to surround myself with, I decided to return to the northeast US, where I grew up. I have family here. I know the seasons. This is my wealth. This is my community. These are the riches that have been beneath my feet all my life. When something is lost and something new appears, quite often, it has been there all along.

Friday, April 13th, 2012

The Star — The Shakespeare Oracle

Artist: Cynthia von Buhler
Author: A. Bronwyn Llewellyn


The first time I passed through Oaxaca, Mexico, I had one of the most amazing dreams of my life.


I dreamed I was a woman living in a small village in the mountains. I was newly in love and newly married when my new husband went off to war. He said to me before he left, “While I’m gone, make me a weaving.” So I made weavings. Every day I made weavings, weaving to no end until one day I said, “I can’t do this anymore. I have to stop. I have to do something else.”


I wanted to join the army. I bypassed all the armed forces where women are accepted. I walked until I came to a cement house where it was cold. I went inside. The house overlooked a canyon— a canyon familiar to my dreams, into which I often dove on wings of faith in search of freedom. The men inside wore black: black clothing, black hoods over their faces. This sector of the army was kept secret from women. No woman knew of it; none had ever been here.


I picked up a gun. “I wanted to fight,” I said.


The men looked at me askance. “You are a woman,” said one of them.


I saw into their hearts and knew then it was not a sexist remark. The men were aware that I could fight as well as they could, but they cared too much about me. Each one of them loved me and would not let me do this to myself. This squadron meant death.


In came the man in charge. He said I could not join. I was furious. One man after another of higher rank came in until at last in came the Zen Master. I paced in small circles as we talked.


I said, “I thought I knew this. I used to know what I was doing. I used to know detachment. I thought I knew what Zen was.”


He said, “We are all just learning.” He said, “Show me your weavings.”


I brought them out. He lifted up each of the weavings one by one and held each one in admiration. Each weaving depicted a different woman, sitting, weaving. There were piles of them, dozens and dozens of weavings, large, and in bright colors. The man nodded at each one. He knew the names and villages of all the women. He spoke highly of their weaving and spoke highly of mine.


At the bottom of the pile was a small weaving of a young child holding an empty spoon before her with two hands, as if in offering. The Zen Master could not place this image; he had never seen such a child. He asked, “What is this?”


I turned my head and looked at the floor. My eyes blurred with tears. I said, “Oh. That one doesn’t belong.”


He said, “Then get rid of it.”


“I can’t,” I said, and began to sob helplessly. “It’s my hope.”


“Well then,” the Zen Master said to me, “get rid of all the others.”


And I woke, sobbing.


*   *   *


The woman in the next bunk in the hostel noticed when I woke. She said she heard me crying but didn’t want to wake me in the middle of a dream. She sat at the head of my bed and listened as I told her my dream, crying. She said she never had dreams like that. I thanked her for listening. I am so thankful for her, so thankful for this unknown woman from Israel, for without her waiting for me to awaken and without her listening, I may never have remembered the most beautiful dream of my life: the dream of what hope is.


Hope is The Star. Get rid of all else.

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Ace of Sticks — Tarot of the Absurd

Jessica Rose Shanahan

The Events of April 5th, 2012
A Birth Story


My contractions began around 10am, possibly earlier. Around 11am or so I drove to a local printer. He gave me a tour of the shop. We talked about paper quality, different inks, and ways to lower the cost of printing my tarot deck. Every once in a while as we were talking, I would have a contraction. When the shop owner asked me a question I would give a delayed, thoughtful answer beginning with “Um, well, I think…” and wait until the contraction was over until actually thinking. I was there for an hour or so.


I went home, took a walk, called some friends, did a few loads of laundry, then called a very close friend on the phone. She’s quite wise in the ways of childbirth. After we talked on the phone for an hour or so, I finally mentioned to her that I was having contractions every five to ten minutes. I didn’t mention it was more often five than ten, and that it had been this way for a few hours. That was about 3pm or so.


My friend said, “That’s great!” She mentioned that, at this time of day, I might not have the baby. Possibly I’d just have contractions on and off throughout the night and I’d have the pleasure of trying to sleep through them. “But you should do something you really want to do,” she said, and listed a number of possibilities, none of which really appealed to me. I didn’t want to have to think about what I was doing.


“I really just want to talk on the phone with you,” I said. So we talked for a while longer— we really can talk for hours about nothing or anything at all— and at last agreed there were things we needed to do.


Four o’clock or so I wrote my boyfriend at work to make sure he still wanted to have a baby. I didn’t mention the contractions. Martin wrote back to say he was up for it.


Around five-thirty I went for a walk and met Martin as he was driving home. He pulled over and I got in a bit stiffly, in the middle of a contraction.


“Are you in labor?” he asked.
“Not entirely,” I replied.


At home, I began to pace furiously. There were a dozen things to do. The secret code for when to call the midwife is 5-1-1: contractions five minutes apart lasting for one minute for a duration of one hour. We set out to time my contractions. I don’t own a timer, so Martin found one on line. I was pacing furiously, peeing almost every contraction.


The contractions averaged two minutes apart or less, lasting for a minute each. We timed for forty minutes. Meanwhile, we were trying to clean the house and set up the birth tub. It is difficult to accomplish anything in minute intervals.


I called my doula and explained what was going on. I asked if she could come over and whether I should call the midwife. She said yes on the midwife, and that she just had to drive home, drop off her family, then drive to my house. “Okay,” I said, and we hung up. From where she was, she could take an hour. I called her right back. “Can you come right over?” I asked.


I called my midwife, who subjected me to what seemed like a 20-minute interview between contractions. She said she’d be over, she just had to go home and have a bite to eat.


By the time my doula got here— her husband dropped her off on the way home— I was no longer bothering to put my pants on between contractions. I labored backwards on the toilet and had brief bits of coherent conversation between contractions. At one point I said, “I really just want to take a shit.”


My doula replied, “You know, that might just be your baby.” I refused to believe the baby was that close to coming, because then I would have to admit I was having a difficult time.


When my midwife arrived, I reluctantly left the toilet and went to the bedroom where I shamelessly took off the rest of my clothing and my midwife did midwife-things.
“I want to go back to the bathroom,” I whined.
“You can go back to the bathroom,” said the midwife, “but this is a much nicer place to have a baby.”
I did not have the energy to say, “I’ll come back to the bedroom when I’m ready to have a baby,” and no one offered to help me up, so I stayed in the bedroom, kneeling on the bed, laboring while leaned over the birth ball for a few more minutes.


Iris was born at 9:15pm, three and a quarter hours after Martin picked me up on the road. She was 7 pounds, 21 inches long. She opened her eyes and lifted her head.



Iris Daphnée

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Queen of Wands — Tarot of the Immagination

Frenec PinterArtist: Frenec Pinter


I wish I knew which queen this image portrays. She should be strong, confident, a bit manipulative with her amazing amount of positive energy and charisma, and determined to get what she wants. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recognize her even if she was currently famous, let alone historically famous. Anyone less clueless than I am?


I did not ask a question today. I hoped the card would inspire me to write. Unfortunately, I don’t think I like the Queen of Wands right now. Not this one. I don’t like how she looks at me as if she’s better than me. I don’t like her clean-ness, her white-ness, her lace and perfect hair-ness. I prefer the New-Age Tarot’s big-foot, multi-breasted, four-armed, three-faced, double-helix-bodied Queen of Wands who dances on an Earth of arms and eyeballs. She makes me feel so normal.




Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Five of Wands — La Corte dei Tarocchi

Artist: Anna Maria D’OnofrioAnna Maria D’Onofrio


The father of a nineteen-forties dollhouse family
left long languishing in my mother’s attic asks,
“Is this all there is?”—


Is this all there is, these separate beds
with plastic quilts draped neatly down the sides
and pillows firmer than my head?


The children’s toys went from popular
to out of date to vintage to antique
as the twins stood, unable to kneel,
trapped in a childhood of white lace dresses and pressed pants.


Our other, an infant, tied to Nanny’s apron with a thread
has neither wet nor cried through all these years.
Mother never held the stiff thing in her slender, hollow arms.


The toilet in the bathroom never flushed—
tho I do recall the year my daughter sat there,
skirt hiked up for all to see
as we took turns sleeping in the bathtub.


The living room never saw a mess of toys or spilled tea.
The piano never sang a note. The hearth never roared and
the mantle clock has told the same time
going on three-quarters of a century.


For one brief flash of of time
I watched my wife in the kitchen
as she cranked the wringer on the washer almost daily
and swiveled the sink handle.


But the basin is dry. There is no drain.
The icebox, the oven, the cupboards all are sealed.
Here we sit, legs out straight for over thirty years,
chairs pushed back from the empty table.
I wonder upon what it is that others dine
and Nanny, always standing, holds the baby.


La Corte dei Tarocchi answers with the Five of Wands—


A punctuated equilibrium of dust
rejoices in the chaos of chubby hands
three times a century.


One day your house’s pressboard walls will crumble
into something-that-has-never-been.
Only in that moment will you know
these days of waiting came
not because you were put aside
but because you were loved.

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Strength — Three of Swords — Seven of Coins — Russian Tarot of St. Petersburgh

Artist: Yuri Shakov


Last night, in an attempt at sleep, I read the entirety of Wang’s An Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot. Unfortunately, I found it riveting. I want to try moving towards multiple card readings. I would like to try to remember the stories behind how one card relates to the other. I draw three cards— past, present, future.


The past is Strength. Not that Strength is past, but that physical Strength was the most obvious manifestation of my very-independent Self. That Self has past in the direction of the Three of Swords. The body and one’s apparent independence are ultimately impossible to hold onto. It is best to become less attached to them before necessary. This decreases heartache and increases freedom. The Three of Swords leads onward to the Seven of Coins. Having a child is always the Seven of Coins. I imagine the investment is perpetual, tho one hopes to put less effort into it over time. And I imagine harvest thus:


—hunting for ripe blackberries at the beginning of the season—

among the brambles
not quite out of reach
one sun-kissed drupe
placed upon the tongue
evokes a wash of purple
dripping from the sky
melting over thorns
a be-here-now
of sunlight

in the mouth

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Three of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Artist: Jessica Rose Shanahan


[Annotation: I was having a terrible time figuring out what this card meant, and thus I could not illustrate it. Then one day, walking through the public library, I saw a woman with a tattoo on her neck: three swords piercing a heart! Delightful! After speaking with her, I wrote the following.]


The opposite of heartache
still is freedom.
It is the hand of the heart
that holds the blade.
And tho this heartache
is a necessary part of living,
it is also but a sign of holding on.
Release the blade.
Release the blade
and see what comes of love.
Release the blade and watch
the wings of your own heart
emerge like those of butterflies—
wings trapped within
some thin, translucent shell—
Release— and feel
the wings of your own heart
begin to beat—
Release and find—
It is holding on that brings
the only necessary hurt
of living.