Aug 302016

It is no surprise that a collaboration between Rachel Pollack and Robert Place creates a powerful deck for divination and they are working together again to create the Raziel Tarot. This spring,  I had the good fortune of exploring the deck and doing a wisdom reading with Rachel using the Raziel. It follows as an example of what the Raziel wants to teach us. Be sure to pre-order the deck so you can do your own wisdom readings. 

A note: Wisdom Readings are one of Rachel’s many innovations with the Tarot in which we use the cards to ask not just personal questions, but also to explore collective, philosophical, and spiritual questions. We pulled cards from the Raziel as a response to what is fate, destiny, and fortune. We also pulled support cards for each area. Rachel calls them Teacher cards. I tend to think of them as the deeper foundation that influences the meaning of the primary card.  

A Wisdom Reading for Fate, Destiny, and Fortune

Our fate is Death.

Our Destiny is to stand before something greater than ourselves.

And our Fortune is not ours at all, but the interaction, collision, and alignment of forces and events beyond our control.

Our Fate is Death

death razielLike Moses who stands on the mountain top seeing the Promised Land he will not enter, we are all fated to die.

We don’t have a choice about Death’s place in our life, but we do have a choice in the relationship that we make with Death. So much of the language of Death is filled with the metaphor of battle, but when we make Death our enemy we will fail. We will never conquer Death.

Making Death our enemy closes us off to the generativity that we might learn from its dark transitions. Each card in this reading had a deeper teacher card below, and The Empress in the form of Miriam of the Waters flowed below this Death card.

Miriam is Moses’ sister who saves him from Death by hiding him at the water’s edge when the Pharaoh orders all infant boys of the enslaved Hebrews be killed. When the grown Moses succeeds in leading the Israelites out of enslavement in Egypt, she raises her timbrel to lead a victory song that may be some of the oldest text in the Bible: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” Here Miriam’s waters are not always gentle; sometimes they bring Death. Miriam herself dies as the Hebrews wander in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, but from the place where she is buried a spring of life-sustaining water opens.

empress razielLife and Death are intertwined in Miriam’s story. She saves the infant Moses from Death but celebrates the deaths of the Egyptian forces that would have re-enslaved her people. When her death comes it gives rise to water in the dessert. She flows with cycles of Life-Death-Life, and her example invites us to these forces are linked together. Death can feed Life. Life serves Death.

Unlike his sister, the place of Moses burial is a mystery according to the Bible. The rabbinical literature fills in this gap with the story that inspires the Raziel’s image of Death. Here as he approaches his death, Moses stands in the embrace of the Shekhinah, the Divine Feminine. He faces the unknown and takes a step toward it held and supported by the Shekninah’s wings. In one version of the story, Moses is kissed by the Shekinah and his body lifts away. There was no burial; Moses ascended on the wings of the Divine as a reward his faithful service to God and his people.

Moses’ face is serious. He is looking into the unknown with a certain watchfulness. He doesn’t know what to do next, but he is paying attention to what is coming so he can meet it. While we are unwise to make Death our enemy, we don’t know Death well enough to make It our friend. We know our friends so can be familiar with them. We won’t know Death until we cross Its threshold. Moses attitude in this image shows a way to make that crossing: by paying attention to the unknown coming so that It can be give a proper greeting.

Our Destiny is to stand before something greater than ourselves.

high priest razielIn this card to of Destiny, Aaron as the first High Priest is shown with the Ark of the Covenant, which was created from instructions given by God to hold the 10 Commandments, the Divine law. The Ark becomes a physical representation of God’s presence and the High Priests play a special role in to tending this treasure.

The Hebrews gave God a name that could not be spoken to recognize God’s greatness beyond measure. Other traditions have given the Divine evocative names: Ra, Shining Ones, Qian Yin, Aphrodite, Green Man, Jesus, Spider Woman. Each culture reaches toward its own naming of what is unnamable. And as we humans strive to find that name to call out to, we also connect with practices, places, or objects that help us meet and stand in relationship with something of the Greater Than in our individual lives.  Not everyone believes in a Deity, but the forces of that natural world are awesome, too, and in the end we all stand before Death. Like Aaron before the Ark, our Destiny is to stand before something greater than ourselves.

When we talk about Destiny, we are often referencing a specific role that we believe we are called to play. Aaron in the image stands solidly in his role as High Priest. When stepping into a role we have sought, we may feel our destiny is achieved. But what about what about those areas in which we do not realize our visions? What about the inevitable failures that come along with any life?

sun razielThe deeper teacher for Destiny is The Sun. Here youthful innocents arise from a broken jar, which represents the inherent brokenness of the world. But each child – each one of us – brings a unique light into the world and can play a part in its repair.  This repair is known as tikkun olam, which in its earliest meaning called for religious practices (repair of the soul) and now is equated popularly  with contributing to social justice (repair of the physical world and its institutions).  In neither meaning is a specific role required to participate in tikkun olam. In fact, the nakedness of the Raziel’s children is a symbol of their freedom from roles that so often comes with prescriptions on what to wear and how to appear.

As we move through our lives standing before the Greater Than, we will step into certain roles that can be a container for the expression of the important work we are called to do, our destiny. But The Sun as the deeper teacher reminds us that even when those roles fall away, we still have that light of being to be offered to the world as a contribution toward its repair.

And our Fortune is not ours at all.

tower razielWell, the Tower is an alarming response to the question: What is Fortune? The bursting flames of this image show us Fortune as chaos.

With chaos as a central feature of Fortune, this card is a wake up call for our ego-protecting selves with the reminder: we are not in control. The writer Annie Dillard says it this way: “We are most deeply asleep at the switch when we fancy we control any of the switches at all.” When we fall into such a sleep Fortune wakes us.

The Raziel Tarot shows us the wakeup calls that came to the Israelites when their temple was destroyed not just once but twice (586 BCE and 70 CE) . And each destruction was connected to a period of exile for the Israelites. The human and physical destruction was enormous. Descriptors such as chaos and tragedy are not exaggerations for these historical events.

A people do not emerge from such an experience unchanged. In religious life, the rabbis, who were the religious teachers, became the spiritual leaders replacing the High Priests after the second destruction. This shift led to an emphasis on study of the Torah and Jewish law rather than Temple practices and political governance.  Midrash, which are stories told by rabbis to fill in the gaps of the Torah, became a lively practice and gifted the world with a rich wisdom tradition.

The pain of the destruction Fortune brings is often enormous, at times seems unbearable. But once the structures destroyed by Fortune have fallen, we are invited to work with what has changed, to find the new gestating in what remains.

hanged man razielThe deeper teacher of Fortune is the Hanged Man. Here the fallen angel Sheimhazai continues an ongoing process of descent. First, Sheimhazai surrendered being an angel to become a man, then he surrendered his place on earth as an act of repentance to save humanity from the great flood. But the flood came any way. He is falling still, but if you look at the image, you will see that, at last, the ropes that tie him are loosening. He is surrendering to the falling and failing, and it seems as if this is what will set him free.

The Hanged Man invites us to surrender to the losses of Fortune, and when we do, we shift our perspective to see what new light that can liberated from destruction. In the image, the menorah remains in front of the Temple. Although the nine-branched menorah is better known because of its modern use at Chanukah, the original menorah was seven-branched. Seven is number of alchemical transformation that turns the base and most difficult realities of destruction into powerful new creations that liberate us from what limits us.


Remember you can pre-order The Raziel today. Thanks to Bob for letting me use these glorious images in this post and to Rachel for all her wisdom offered in her words and works and laughter. Even before I met her, she was my Tarot teacher through her books and since then I have been able to study with her in-person. Let me tell you, it is a treat. I’ve absorbed a lot from her, and all the wisdom that flows through the word above have some source in what I’ve learned from her … though she might deny it as she rather likes to be the anti-guru.

And, FYI, in the fall there will be some shifts to the site and the work I am doing – including more explorations like this of Tarot as wisdom images. You can keep up with the shapeshifting by being one my list if you like.  

Apr 282015

Although I didn’t hear the Hanged One invoked consciously, this wisdom figure hid in plain sight, worked a special magic, and invited our souls to go deep at this year’s Readers Studio, the annual gathering of the Tarot tribe organized by The Tarot School.


I’ve written before about how the Tarot’s Hanged One exults what is usually lowly – the hard working feet are closest to heaven in this upside down image –  and invites our higher consciousness to be directed downward – the head as container for the mind is brought closer to earth. A surrender to a different way of being is shown in the image.

Each of the main stage presenters danced with and embodied the Hanged One, showing us an archetype come to life and modeling wisdom moving in our mundane world.

TiamatEllen Lorenzi-Prince took to the main stage wearing a pendant made from her Dark Goddess Tarot card for the Hanged One, Tiamat, the Babylonian Goddess who reminds us:  What has been lost lives in hidden places.

During the introductory interview for her session, I heard Ellen give the most wonderful definition for what the Tarot really is: A modern practice for encountering ancient stories. The Tarot from its conception to today tells stories in pictures of our perennial seekings: of love and death, tricksters and saints, the gods and the goddesses. Ellen’s latest deck, The Minoan, brings to life an ancient culture, and as I contemplate its images in serious in playful ways I am engaged in a practice that brings me the wisdom of that culture.

During her presentation Ellen brought our heads and our consciousness close to the earth as we explored the elements. We did not look at the symbols of wand, cup, sword, and pentacle, but rather imagined the actual elements of fire, water, air, and earth. Through meditations we centered ourselves in the power of the element moving from the holy place of the ace to the fulfillment of its potential. We encountered the compassion, test, invitation, challenge, and blessing of each element. There were waterfalls and tornadoes, bonfire and stone.

Ellen surrendered to the wisdom of the elemental earth.

Theresa Reed, the Tarot Lady, told us she was going to teach us How to Read Tarot Under Any Circumstances.  When her technology would not cooperate she then showed us how to give a stellar presentation under any circumstances. I don’t know how she felt as people scrambled to bring up her power point and the screen behind shifted and changed, but she was calm and, even more impressive, the 200+ of us seated in the ballroom were calm. I never doubted that we would get the information that we needed.

gaian 12-treeMy favorite section of her presentation was on how she brings her yoga practice into her Tarot work. Here are just a few of gems:

  • Do grounding meditations before readings.  Plant your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply down to your abdomen. When you exhale complete imaging a grounding cord wrapped around your waist. The cord goes into grounding earth and touches into the fiery center. With this down, Teresa told us: Know that you are grounded, centered, supported, and ready to serve.
  • Mirror your clients breathing and then you can help them to align to calm breath.  We did this with a partner touching knees and we felt powerfully connected. I kept doing it for my readings throughout the weekend.
  • Soft gaze. Let your eyes float around the cards and let your intuition draw you to the focal point. Begin from there and keep your attention coming from the cards (not your mind or ego or needing to please your client).

Theresa surrendered to the chaos of the now and transformed it into a power that made her point about being able to work under any circumstances.

shiningtribe12 Hanged WomanCarrie Paris began her presentation with a confession. She’d intended and even worked hard on a presentation focused around her Magpie Oracle. It would have been a very logical choice and helped her sell her “product”. But she kept being called to something else and what I experienced was a soul-centered presentation with words of inspiration, beautiful visuals, music, soul gazing, and Tarot process that worked with the Minor Arcana, little trinkets, and poetry prompt words. I can’t fully describe it – you had to be there – but the reading moved with this flow:

  • SPIRIT: Get inspired.
  • HEART: Feel and love.
  • MIND: Listen to the knowing one inside.
  • BODY: Become

Looking at the image she created for this (a snake swirled around circles with these words) awoke me to the presence of the Hanged One. Because in the Handed One the Heart is above the Head/Mind as shown here. It is not a hierarchical relationship, but rather one that directs the flow of meaning making that becomes the guide for the action of becoming.

Carrie surrendered to the call of the soul.

And then we went out from Readers Studio back into the world with its beauty – spring at last in the Northeast! – and its evils – another black man killed by police, violence in Baltimore. What does the Hanged One point us toward around the return to the world, around the reality of evil?

Evil; it’s such a strong word. The way we have used it has us thinking we can just push that which we label as evil into a dark closet. But I am realizing I learned a Hanged One definition of evil from The Woman’s Theological Center (WTC). The WTC’s mission to nurture liberation invited a different definition of evil: the heart can not express its goodness and so evil results.

The Hanged One surrenders to what is and dares to look at it fully. Then Spirit / The Greater Than / The Unity of the Divine is the guide who speaks first to the heart. Here we might let our hearts break open because of the injustice and inequity that exists and explodes from these killings and their aftermaths. We don’t have to have the answer first. We feel first. Then we can listen deeply to those most impacted, to the truth of our history, to new perspectives. We may hang out here a while so we don’t rush into patching things up.

Because we no longer want to patch things up if we have truly danced with the Hanged One, We want real change. We want Death.

We think we lose when we face Death, the card that follows the Hanged One, but what really happens is that we are transformed. This weekend I worked with Mellissae Lucia and her Oracle of Initiation, a messenger of how to create rainbows in the dark; how to turn death, your greatest pain, your loss into beauty and new life. The Oracle’s #23 is Sacrifice – Sacred Surrender, and in the companion book Coleen Renee writes of this card: A true sacrifice is an act that makes everyone and everything more sacred.

Even if we have to give something up, we can sacrifice white privilege or silence around a history of injustice. Death always claims takes something away from us and keeps it for Itself. But then we will be lighter, able to float as freely and serenely as the Hanged One.

Sacred surrender to the real, to the now, to the heart is possible. I know because I saw at Readers Studio this weekend.

[Images are from (in order of appearance): Marseille, Dark Goddess, Gaian, Shining Tribe.]

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Dec 082014

This is the third week of Waiting with the Dark until the Solstice comes as part of the Descent and Return of the Light Series. You can join in this waiting at any time. Themes already explored are reviewed below.

Dark comes to us faithfully each night when the day retires.  It is a daily presence, though one more often ignored than noted in our electric age. When we dare to surrender to the dark, however, we can touch its power and reclaim our relationship with its nurture.

Celtic poet and philosopher John O’Donohue writes of the dark in his Eternal Echoes:

Though you live and work in the light, you were conceived and shaped in darkness. Darkness is one of our closest companions. It can never really surprise us; something within us knows the darkness more deeply that it knows the light. The dark is older than the light. In the beginning was the darkness. The first light was born out of the dark.


gaian 20-awakeningYes, the dark is the tomb that receives us at the end of life, but equally true is that the dark is the womb from which we are born and re-born.

When we fully enter this season of long nights, we are surrounded by this dark’s paradoxical powers of both life and death. As we come into this embrace, we remember on some deep level that the dark is the place of our beginnings. Then we can flow forward reminded of our own practice with and power to:

  • trust in the renewal of the dark;
  • be part of the mysterious cycle of Life-Death-Life;
  • accept the invitation to travel another circuit of our life’s spiral in its surprising unfolding,

In this third week of our Waiting with the Dark, we stand grounded in the joy ignited by our elemental gratitudes, supported by our ancestors, and entwined with the dark power that springs from within and without. We are prepared to pass through a gateway that will lead us into deepest dark in the time before Solstice. This week we light four candles and blow two out, creating that gateway.

Tarot helps to meet the guardians at the gateway, to learn their lessons, to receive their support.  As you sit with your two candles lit, you may pull or select two cards from the Dark Goddess Tarot (or another deck) to receive messages from these guardians. The first has a message for you of a lesson to learn necessary for your re-birth. The second has a message for you of support being sent to you as you enter deep dark. Weave their messages together and cross under the archway of their wisdom. 

Perhaps they will whisper to you something like:

There is no end to death.

There is no end to birth.

And what has been lost, lives still in the dark,

waiting for its moment,

waiting for the form

into which to be-reborn.

 Ixchel and Tiamat

[Notes: The Dark Goddess Tarot comes with a little booklet in which Ellen Lorenzi-Prince has given voice to the Goddesses with sayings that I call koans, brief sayings that contain deep wisdom and invite further meditation. My wee poem above is riff on and weaving together of the Ixchel and Tiamat koans. The photo was taken from the blog of Tarot wise woman Camelia Elias when I had a camera malfunction.]




Feb 102014

Each week I pull cards to inspire contemplative practice.  In 2011, I started using the Gaian Tarot as a prompt for practice as its minor cards showed such clear images of people engaged in practices that grounded and connected them to earth, to spirit, to the Whole.  The method evolved to use the majors as path cards and the people as posture/attitude cards. You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments.  You are also free to draw your own cards.

gaiandeathPATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What sacred path would best serve the group this week? DEATH invites us to walk this week on pathways of …

  • Release and let go.
  • Recognizing that what dies is gone and can not come back in the same form.
  • Grieve what is lost.
  • Allow the opening for the new to emerge.

gaian two-firePRACTICE:  Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question:  What contemplative practice will best serve us to move along this pathway this week? TWO OF FIRE invites us to practices such as …

  • Candle gazing. It’s as easy as it sounds – just gaze at the flame of a candle – and if you Google these words, lots of resources come up. I’ve worked with and benefited from the guided meditations on this site:
  • Work with a “buddy” to ensure you do your practice: walk together in nature, silently; write out your gratitudes daily or weekly and mail them to each other; find the deity or ancestor who would best guide you in the challenges you currently face and develop a relationship with them.
  • Celebrate Valentines Day with your sweetheart and dedicate your enjoyment of the day to a deeper/higher purpose; dedicate the cultivation of your individual joy to creating more collective joy in some way.

gaian child-airPOSTURE:  Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as:  What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to me in undertaking this practice? CHILD OF AIR invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of ….

  • Feeling centered in the flow of change.
  • Delight and awe.
  • Curiosity.

OVERALL MUSINGS: The Two of Fire is a perfect card for Valentine’s Day week with its image of a couple at the threshold of passion. Death might seem a little harsh though for this romantic holiday until you consider how release and rebirth are necessary ingredients for a long-term relationship. We must release the first idealized blush of passion to see the real person before us. We have to let each other grown and change beyond the person we first met, often requiring small and large adjustments on both people’s parts. We must forgive and let go of inevitable hurts that we inflict on each other. We find our way – alone and together – to the perfectly imperfect people that we are. And then we look with curious and open eyes on our beloved again and are willing to be surprised at the constantly renewing beauty before us. So then, clearly, Two of Fire and Death are the most perfect combination for this week in which we are invited to celebrate the power of love.

Nov 022012

We are in the season of saints and souls and the beloved dead.  We are also stand in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy where at least 167 people have lost their lives in the United States and the Caribbean.  More stories of loss are told each day.

The Tarot’s origins are connected, too, to times of death.  In Tarot for Magical Times, Rachel Pollack takes the long view of Tarot history and highlights how the deck makes it appearance and gains attention in periods of catastrophic change.  Tarot comes into existence asEuropeis recovering from the bubonic plague, called the Black Death, that wiped out a third of the population, devastated whole cities, and made death a terrifying presence in the lives and collective consciousness of Europeans.

A quick but horribly painful and disfiguring death left many to die without last rites, denying them heaven, and a rotting body that would seem hard to raise at the time of the Second Coming.  The plague seemed to deny both life and the afterlife. This left a deep scar on the culture.

The Renaissance followed but death remained a fearsome force, contributing to the infamous reputation of the Death card that continues to this day.

Today we sit with this face of death as the Northeast and the Caribbean recover from Sandy.  It is a very real and powerful face.

But it is not the only face of death.  Other cultures and spiritualities have different views of death.  Reincarnation and the continuing presence of those who have passed beyond the veil are just two examples.  And today is Dia de lost Muertos which has a playful and celebratory tone to a time to remember the ancestors.

As Tarot has blossomed since the 1960s, the different faces of death have entered into the deck.

In our last Journey into the Tarot sharing call on the Death card, we entered into images such as these and found that it was the seeds and energy of life there amidst the dark and surrender that called our attention.

Death showed its supportive and beneficial face as a welcomer of souls and as part of the process of life.

Judy Nathan shared a wonderful story of being with her brother as he was dying and how their time together over several months was just as beautiful as it was challenging.  She talked about it as making the intimate leap with the one who is dying.  To accept and move with the energy of death creates a deeper and more intimate connection.

The wonderfully evocative idea of the intimate leap reminded me of my friend Chuck who died of stomach cancer a number of years ago.  After the first bout of chemo was unsuccessful and the tumor reapeared massive, he came home to die.  He welcomed us in at this time to be with him in the reaming time left.  Oh, he did accept death in a saintly way and often said, “I’m mad I won’t write more poems or see the poems you write!”  But we were honest about death and being with him in the time we had left was a gift.  And I still feel him with me.  I’ve thought about just giving up on writing poetry a few times (who’s listening anyway?!?!) but then it is almost as if Chuck whispers in my ear, “Don’t do that!” OK!

Death will come for all of us.  Meeting its many faces ahead of that time can help us and those around us make that transition in better ways than our mainstream society generally offers.  Meditating with, taking action inspired by, exploring different version of the Death cards from across the Tarot tradition is a bridge to help us understand the mystery that lies beyond this life.

[Death images in the order that they appear are:  Tarot of Marseilles version, Star Tarot of Cathy McClelland, and Tarot Roots of Asia.  On the Journey call, we also used the Gaian Tarot Death card that you can see in a couple of past posts here.]

Oct 252012

Journey into the Tarot is for the most part a self-directed practice of listening to and working with the guided visualization meditations on the Major Arcana cards.  But once  a month members connect on a conference  call and share a common journey.  For the month of October, we will have a sharing call about experiences with the Death meditation on the site. Our call will be on October 31st at 8:30pm ET.

If you should want to join us, just sign up on Journey into the Tarot for only $39 for access to all 22 meditations and the month calls.

Image is the Death card from the Gaian Tarot.  Used with Joanna Powell Colbert’s kind permission.

Jan 312012

So happy to be picking up the Tarot Blog Baton from Barbara Moore at and the 6 bloggers before her.  Find out more about the Tarot Blog Hop at

 February offers me the gift of an enticing light.  I want to be a candle lit from its flame.

Today we are on the cusp of Imbolc, the Celtic festival that marks the start of spring and is dedicated to Brigid, who is venerated as both Goddess and Saint. As Goddess, her realm is fire and she is inspirer of poetry, healing, and smithcraft.  As Saint, she and 19 of her nuns tended a sacred flame and she served as abbess of a double monastery of women and men.  As an expression of traditions’ creative and fertile mixing, Brigid speaks to me of a shared well feeding our search for the sacred and the potential this well offers for the healing of rifts between groups.

Inspired by Brigid and the hint of lengthening days, I usually am ready to rush over the threshold of winter and into spring.

But there is something different this year.

I have been spending time with the “dark” cards of the Tarot these past few weeks as part of the Journey into the Tarot.  The Hanged One, Death, and the Devil have been recent companions and their lessons have been about the necessity, the healing, and even the nurture of the dark, the challenging, the shadow.  So before I light my candle I need to make sure that I’ve really soaked in and honored the dark.

My usual way to check in deeply on such matters is to combine Tarot with guidance from nature.  I asked the Tarot some questions for this threshold time (see below) and received the message to go outside and honor winter, the Cailleach or Old Woman in the Celtic Tradition.

So I walked in my neighborhood.  The wind was sharp though the ground was without the usual January snow.  The sun was bright on the dark limbs creating patterns of branches reaching to the sky in beautiful symmetry.  Well, for the most part.  Because there were also sharp breaks and branches left dangling from the pre-winter October snowstorm that damaged so many trees and left much of Massachusetts and Connecticut without power for days and even weeks.    Like our current lack of snow, our all too early storm and its damage are a sign of the chaos caused by climate change that can not be ignored.

When the trees leaf out in spring this damage will be hidden, but I’m called to bring their wounds with me into this time of returning light.  I can only embrace the joy of spring when I remember the shadows shown in winter.  I’ve been coming to know this balance as a message of The Sun.

This melding of joy and shadow is seen so wonderfully in the Gaian Tarot’s Sun.

Our eyes are drawn, of course, to the brilliant sun, the flowered landscape, and the radiant woman.  But this picture also includes her shadow.  Her dark outline is, in fact, the foundation on which she stands.

So I will light my candle.  And I will honor the dark.  I will seek to be a better candle of dark wick and bright light.  I will hold this whole.

Winter into Spring Spread

Card 1:  What winter / dark work do I need to complete before moving into spring / the light?

Card 2:  What is a lesson learned in the dark time that I can take as a gift into the light?

Card 3:  What can help me cross the threshold from winter into spring?

Card 4:  How can I be a better candle?

Card 5:  What are the gifts of the light that may unfold for me in this season?

I’ll post my reading in the comments and you are invited to do so as well.

Continue the Tarot Blog Hop by visiting Inner Whispers at

Jan 212012

One of the grand metaphors of Tarot – though it is a fairly recent innovation – is the that that Major Arcana is The Fool’s Journey with three levels or kinds of work for our Hero Fool to do:  Cards 1 – 7 represent the development of self and the ego; Cards 8 – 14 represent a turning inward to seek a new kind of wisdom; and Cards 15-21 represent fulfillment of the Fool’s seeking and spiritual attainment.  In 78 Degrees of Wisdom, Rachel Pollack names the levels as Consciousness, Subconsciousness, and Superconsciousness.

The Fool’s Journey has guided me for a long time but now it’s sparked a new metaphor as I’ve worked through the Journey into the Tarot.  I’ve been playing with a vision of the Major Arcana as three circles of healing with three points of transition.  This post spins out that thread of thought and continues the play.

Both the nature and the shape of the journey changed with the shift in metaphor to circles of healing rather than a progressive journey.

The first spark for this new view of the Major Arcana came from working with and re-assessing the relationships between the male and female wisdom figures of the first six cards of the Major Arcana (which I blogged about in more detail here).  I saw the obvious dance between the Emperor and the Empress, but also how the Hierophant needs the High Priestess’ inner / lunar wisdom to refresh the outer / solar traditions he upholds.  They danced between the Magician and the Lovers.

Using the circle of healing metaphor, The Magician represents the circles highest potential and what exists before a split of masculine and feminine.  He exuberantly uses the male elements of fire and air and the female elements of water and earth to make his magic.  The Lovers shows the joyful connection of masculine and feminine and is the main healing work of this circle of integration.  The connection is possible both within a person and through greater cooperation of men and women in the world.

The Charioteer moves forward from this triumph of integration led by a team of dark and light creatures into the next circle of healing.

Using the attributions of the English School, Strength opens the second circle of healing seeming to continue a theme of triumph and most commonly the image of a woman taming a lion.  But the gentleness of the woman is so different from the boldness of the Charioteer.   Some kind of transformation has taken place.

Paradox now makes its appearance as the trickster teacher because the triumph of the first line is following by the seeming contradiction of dissolution and surrender as the achievements of second line of cards.

The work of this line starts with The Hermit who leaves behind the everyday world for the lonely mountaintop.  He goes inward removing himself from the attention and praise of the world.  This allows him to come to know his inner wisdom.  Rather than being isolating, the work here connects to the Hermit to ever changing movement of the Wheel.  From his wide perspective on the mountain top, he comes to a deep understanding of change internally, in the everyday world, and even in the unseen realms and the widest cosmos.  He no longer fights change but aligns himself with its energies.

This alignment with change brings a greater understanding of the patterns of cause and effect embodied in Justice.  Reaching Justice brings us half way round this circle of healing with Strength and Justice across from each other.  The connection is apt as it takes strength to look at our lives and take responsibility for how we’ve triumphed and failed and to pluck the lessons of self knowledge from its roses and thorns.

The deep self knowledge gained from this encounter with Justice may spark a re-assessment that can be quite destabilizing.  And in this second circle of healing the destabilization needs to be embraced.  The Hanged One meets the challenge by turning every thing upside down and being with the uncertainty created by this new perspective.  Action seems impossible.  A new understanding of what is important is in process of being formed.

The old self faces Death and this is the great work of this circle of healing.  The transition into a new way of being requires releasing what is known, both the negative and the positive aspects.  We are called to let them go without knowing what will next emerge.  There is the phase of the Death process where we enter the void.  If we have prepared well enough in the work of the Hanged One, we may even welcome this place of absence.

We are called forth from the void by the rising of the sun.  The new invites us.  We emerge as stronger because of a greater connection to the whole of creation that is in a constant cycle of birth, death, and re-birth.  The boundaries between self and other have worn away.  We have the skills to commune with our lions (who represent both our fears and our power).  While we appear to have control over these beasts, those who have traveled the healing circle of dissolution know that it is through surrender and death that this deeper kind of power flows.

We’ll need that power when we face the Devil, but that’s a subject for another post.

[Notes:  Images from the Gaian Tarot are used with permission.  It’s interesting to note that some people see the Gaian Magician as a man while others see the figure as a woman.  The ability to be both speaks to the Magician as an already perfect balance of male and female.]