Jul 182016
 

This is the fourth and final post on pilgrimage as part of the seasonal ritual Walking the Ways of the Summer Light. The pilgrimage posts began with Departure from the Threshold , continued with Journey, and reached The Center last week. 

The final practice of pilgrimage calls you to wait for a while in the place where you are no longer at Center but not yet home. You are still returning. Here you reflect on what has happened and start to name how you have been changed. You consciously accept the gifts and the challenges of pilgrimage. You invite transformation to take hold; you plant the change in a place where it can continue to grow. Then you return home.

In the Tarot, each of the elemental suits progresses through the single numbers. The ninth card is most often recognized as the culmination or achievement of the elemental journey while the tenth card is considered to be one of transition. The Tarot’s 10s guide you in your returning.  Any deck can serve, but the images of Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot struck me as telling a particularly relevant story about the pilgrimage return.


10 of stonesTen of Stones – Memory and Meaning:
What always captivates me about this image is that human footprints go into the stones laid on the path while the bird prints come out. The journey changed us. Remembering what happened on the journey is the first step in meeting and integrating that change. As we recount and order the pieces, a whole picture emerges that helps you find the greater meaning – and sometimes remaining mystery – of the pilgrimage time.

To tend memory and meaning, you might answer through journaling, working with Tarot cards, or creating of art questions such as:

  • What are the moments that shine in your memory? How did they open your eyes? How did they blind you?
  • What the moments that are dark in your memory? How did they make you stumble What gestated there?
  • What are the encounters with others you will never forget? What did they teach you about humanity and community? What did they teach you about yourself?
  • What were the surprises? What amazed you? When did you touch mystery?
  • How did you come to know the Greater Than that journeyed with you? What Face were you shown? What invitations did you receive?
  • What insight did you gain into your focus question? What remains to be discovered?
  • How were you changed? How did you become more yourself?

10 of birdsTen of Birds – Final Challenge: Change, even when we seek it, is scary. We wanted to emerge as the bird, transcendent, but now that we are in flight, the view is not what we imagined.  In the Ten of Birds, a woman stands with back to us and ominous birds in the sky above her. We can’t tell if she is looking at the birds or shielding her eyes. (If she is not looking, might we be seeing her imagination creating scarier creatures than are even there?)

One of the bird figures is actually a winged snake that Rachel identifies as the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl  and describes as “an instinctive energy, a force we cannot name or rationally identify has taken wing, has risen into consciousness, or a kind of pseudo-consciousness, where we sense a fear or mystery we cannot really explain.”

We are standing before something greater than we could have imaged when we began our journey. We can’t explain it or control it, and this is perhaps what we fear the most. And our final test is to accept this force as now existing in our lives. When we realize that we don’t have to overcome it or even be friendly with it, we move out from the final testing of pilgrimage and on to the path that leads us home.

The woman’s dress is green and the door of the house in the distance is green. Green is the color of the heart and of new life. Through this color, the woman and the home are linked. And the birds do not actually block her path. She can walk below them. She can make her return.

To complete your final challenge of pilgrimage, reflection on your fears and final challenges is helpful. Then you might want to step from the logical and intellectual to the magical. You may want to do something like create a fith-fath, the Gaelic practice of creating a shape shifting spell for times of danger or vulnerability. I heard about this practice from Celtic teacher and songstress Caitlín Matthews, and was inspired to write one of my own:

I ask to resound with the life thrum of cicadas,

their surface-sound sureness of life.

I ask to move with the elegance of egret,

who slides over pond’s murky silk undarkened.

I ask to feel what the mushroom feels,

the deep down of dirt holding me steady,

reminding me always

I belong to the earth.

10 of treesTen of Trees – Echo of the Call: This card shows a most unusual Tree of Life.  The branches are green joyful figures. In the Ten of Birds, you chose to wear the green dress and go through the green door despite the unknown and feared forces. By these actions both the challenges and the gifts of pilgrimage are accepted and integrated into who you re now. A whole new world opens up both within you and in your view of the wider world. You are not only enlarged but your understanding of and connection to the Whole is now more expansive and inclusive.

Here we might return to reflect on the original call that brought us to the pilgrims’ trail. What was its personal dimension? What did you hope for yourself? You can take a look at that call an hear now how echoes in the expanded universe within. How has the call changed? How will you share it with the wider world? How do you answer the call to serve the Whole?

10 of riversTen of Rivers – Home: Then you go home. You return to the house in which you dwell and greet those you left behind.  But there is a trick to this image. As much as they could be waving in greeting, the figures could also be waving good-bye. Once home you say good-bye to the pilgrimage journey even as you say hello to the home that awaits you.

As we once stood on the threshold of departure, now we stand at the threshold of return. This is the place for gratitude. Offers your praises and prayers to all who made the pilgrimage possible and guided you along the way. This gratitude will remind you that these helpers and guides have now become part of who you are and will not leave you. Offer your praises and prayers for all that has remained for you to return to. Speak your gratitude for this steady support.

The figures stand in a river and as Starkhawk reminded us in the week of the Water Wisdom Wander: “All water is one – one whole, one awareness. All water is continuously aware of all the other waters in the world.” So all our journeys are one. The pilgrimage and the homecoming. The seeking and the discovery. It is all part of the vast ocean of our being where we meet the glimmer of the surface and are surprised some times by the pull of the depths. And we flow on. The pilgrimage ends. It has just begun.

This concludes the seasonal ritual of Walking the Ways of the Summer Sun. In November I will begin the Winter Solstice focused ritual of Descent and Return of the Light. Subscribe to my e-newsletter to be notified of those happenings and receiving nature- and Tarot-inspired offerings to tend your soul all year long. 

 

 

 

May 302016
 

This is the second Wisdom Wander of the Walking the Ways of the Summer Light series. The focus is on the element of Air. In these weekly posts, I expand on my general suggestions that you may want to review for orientation. The first Earth Wisdom Wander also contains more detail on the process of preparing for and beginning the Wanders. These are only prompts for your own creating and modification.

PREPARE FOR AND BEGIN YOUR AIR ENCOUNTER

Take a moment to ponder your connection to and understanding of the element of Air. What do you know about the air? How have you encountered air before in your life? What lessons might the air offer you? What might you receive from some time spent with air? What gifts can you offer to air?  Just let ideas float through your head. No need to be comprehensive, but your insights here can inspire your choice of location for your air wisdom wander.

Connect to Air. My back yard is surrounded by trees which I often watch sway in the wind so on my first Air Wisdom Wander just stepped out my back door and stood there for a while. I’d stopped on the walk right before a large leafed hosta plant and could see its leaves quiver in the slight breeze. I saw how it received and moved with the wind. I closed my eyes and felt the wind on my skin, ever so slightly lifting my hair. The breeze stopped, and the hosta and I stood still. The wind returned in a bit from a slightly different direction. I closed my eyes to feel air again on my skin in new places. I couldn’t see anything of this element so touch and feel became the sense bridge connecting me to Air This day the air was soothing, but I have also watched the tree branches in my yard whip and break during storms. The direction and intensity of Air changes and so our encounters with it, too, are changeable.

Invite your Way Showers / Guides / Inquisitors / Translators for the Day:  If working with a Tarot deck, you may want to pull your cards from just the suit of Air / Swords or some combination of the Air suit and the Major Arcana. As I see each Major Arcana as an image of Wholeness, I work with the idea that each individual Major card contains the power of all the elements.

guides and lessons 5.30.15

In 2015, I traveled with the Oracle of Initiation and The Shining Tribe

ENCOUNTER THE ELEMENT OF AIR

What belongs to the air? What belongs to other elements? You won’t need to and won’t be able to ignore the presence of Earth, Water, and Fire. All the elements mix to make our dynamic world. But you are invited to tune into what seems to you to be most elementally Air while out for the Wander (and maybe continuing through the week. From my preparing, I found my way toward paying particular attention to:

Directionality. The air can come from any direction, but your place on the planet might determine the more usual direction of its winds toward you.  Then when the wind shifts into unusual directions, the trees and plants, the place where you live, your body experience the unexpected. Winds can also come in from different directions at the same time. You then become the meeting point and are ruffled by the intersection of winds.

Flow.  What facilitates the flow of air and what inhibits it? I live in the shadow and protection of Mt. Tom, a small but old mountain that often takes the brunt of storms. Recent climate chaos activity (a hurricane in New England) have spared my home town, and last year a micro burst traveled the ridge of the mountain taking down a wide swath of trees, but it dissipated before entering too much of our populated areas. Starthawk in The Earth Path suggests that city dwellers go to their financial district to be amidst tall buildings and feel the wind channeled with intensity through its narrow space and then contrast that with more open parts of the city, a park perhaps, to learn about the flow of wind.

Intensity. The slight breeze and the edge of the storm are obviously different. As the intensity of the wind changes, what happens to the relationship between the physical world/your body and the air?

Creatures of the Air. Birds and flying insects have an intimate relationship with Air. They fly in and with the wind, must adjust and work with the changing nature of this element. They have their own behavior that inspires. In the still dark morning, the birds begin their calling in my back yard. They fill the sky with sound and the light returns. Their sounds later in the day are more subdued. Their relationship to daybreak is special and invites you to attend this time of transition as well.

The Invisible and Hidden. We are such visual creatures, but we can not see the air. We see birds, but often they are hidden behind leaves. Morning song seems to come from an invisible source.  As I started my first Air Wisdom Wander in 2015, this phrase rang in my mind: the hidden all around me. I carried it with me in the wind.

And as you are exploring, pay attention to your skin and your breath. How does it feel when walking into the wind and then out of the wind? What changes when you no longer feel the movement of air?

REFLECTION AND QUESTION MAKING

In keeping with the Tarot’s idea of the element of Air relating to the mind, and, also then to traditions that pass on spiritual and philosophical ideas, this week’s suggestions for gathering in your questions turns you toward the wisdom and writings of the deck(s) you took with you on your Wander. Deck creators share their interpretations of the meaning of cards and sometimes offer questions to ponder. You can borrow their questions and also look to turn statements into questions for diving deeper.

Here are my examples from the 3 Oracle of Initiation cards that I drew for my 2015 walk:

  • The introduction to Collaboration offers a juicy question:  Who are you called into sacred collaboration with now?
  • Embarking’s write up includes: “You are guided and protected by wise allies as you set out to discover your greatest gift yourself.” This invites questions like:  How can I open to these wise allies? What will I discover when I connect with these allies?
  • Sustainability’s admonition of what to investigate is easily transformed into a question: What is essential for me to live sustainably?

As we are in the realm of Air (and this is the week the new moon arrives in Airy Gemini), you are invited to do some research about the natural elements that you have encountered to learn more about them. You might want to do some writing to share what you have learned. Here is what I wrote out of my 2015 Air Wisdom Wander:

sustainability dandelion 5.30.15I came upon a gathering of silvered dandelions and from my small pile of traveling cards pulled Sustainability. While arranging my photo I noticed how similar the look of the figure’s and the dandelion’s head were. Dandelion, scorned as a weed but containing healing properties, had a message of sustainability to offer. Perhaps through the profusion of its seeds and the way they are carried on the wind to reach the next place of their growth.

To further ponder dandelion’s message I thought I would turn to science and Googled dandelion seed dispersal. One of the first sites to pop up was Ask Nature, which contains strategies from nature to help humans design in collaboration with the direction and flow of nature. Ask Nature says of the dandelion: “The seeds of dandelions are efficiently dispersed on the wind thanks to tiny discs of radiating threads that act as parachutes.” Dandelion can help humans learn from nature how to maintain community and health ecosystems through effective seed dispersal. The application for this strategy suggests mimicking the parachute-like attachments to seed to agricultural amendments (like fertilizer) without the use of toxic inert ingredients.

There is an earthy message from these ideas about the dandelion. Seeds that travel find new and fertile territory in which to grow. They diversify and enhance the places where they land. Healthy ecosystems are diverse ecosystems.

As we are in the element of Air which in the Tarot is connected to the mind, I can see the seeds as ideas. We might think of them as simple like the dandelion or as coming from unexpected and humble sources like a lowly weed. Perhaps it is not the experts in specialized fields but those living simple lives attuned to the needs of their community and the earth around them that can offer common sense solutions to the lack of sustainability in our current systems.

We may just need to pay attention to the natural processes hidden all around us and take them as our teachers to create more sustainability in our communities and, ultimately, for the planet. If we start doing this without waiting for a leader to save us, we won’t stop things like climate chaos that is already in motion and needs a globally coordinated effort, but we might slow its progression and make a softer landing (like one supported with a parachute) for ourselves. We’ll also be putting into practice the necessary solutions so when those “in charge” realized they don’t have the answer there in the center, they will turn to the edges for the needed innovation. 

In The Earth Path, Starhawk explores how systems – natural and human – want to maintain themselves. Change doesn’t come from within, but when a system’s equilibrium is disturbed, the system does respond to try and right itself.  The corrective to system is often at the edges. In nature this is the ecotone where two different systems touch: the field and the forest, the shore and the rocky coast. In the human world, this can be where people have stepped out of institutional systems and into alternative ones, including, to name just a few examples, Goddess spirituality, crowd funding, #blacklivesmatter and Twitter as news source, and the Tarot community. The seeds from these places can travel between systems and movements to bring new diversity.

So if you think you are not doing enough with your own sustainability efforts – whatever they might be – think again. The small and the humble are the seed of the change waiting to take hold.

SHARING

As you wander you may receive messages, either for you as an individual or for the collective. You may receive images that speak louder than words. You may experience a sensation that isn’t easily explained. You may feel called to share what you receive. Perhaps the Air will share a message through you. Please do that sharing in what ever way feels right; tell a story to a friend, post on Facebook, write something for your blog, whisper some to the moon. Social media mavens, you may want to use hash tags of #wisdomwander #air for tracking. Your comments here on the blog are welcome as well.

Wisdom Wanders continue next week with a Water post. This Saturday / June 4th, we’ll explore the air of the city on an Urban Wisdom Wander. For all you Airy Writers, there is a special Wisdom Wander just for you on June 12th

 

May 232016
 

This is the first Wisdom Wander of the Walking the Ways of the Summer Light series. The focus is on the element of earth. Join me for the first of the four mini-retreat Wisdom Wanders on Sunday May 29th at my local wildlife sanctuary. 

To focus on the earth element, I offer these inspirations that expand on my general suggestions and are specific to the earth element. These are only prompts for your own creating and modification.

Of course, it’s great to be able to set aside a day in nature for exploring, but, if you don’t have the time or can’t get away, a walk to work in the city or taking out the garbage at night could become an Earth Wisdom Wander with a set intention and perhaps a few extra steps.

PREPARE FOR AN EARTH ENCOUNTER

Take a moment to ponder your connection and understanding of the element of earth. What do you know about the earth? What do you feel about the earth? What lessons might the earth offer you? What might you receive from some time spent with earth? What gifts can you offer to earth?

Select the spot that will help you connect with the earth element.  The elements are all around us so this doesn’t have to be a new place for you. Nature awareness training programs often suggest that you find a special spot that you return to over and over again as a stable home base, as a place you can observe change. But going to a new place is also an option. The newness can invite an opening of the senses as you explore the unfamiliar.

Invite your Way Showers / Guides / Inquisitors / Translators for the Day:  If working with a Tarot deck, you may want to pull your cards from just the suit of Earth / Pentacles or some combination of the Earth suit and the Major Arcana. As I see each Major Arcana as an image of Wholeness, I work with the idea that each individual Major card contains the power of all the elements.

guides and lessons 5.24.15

For my 2015 Earth Wisdom Wander, I worked with the Oracle of Initiation and The Minoan Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. I had sorted out the Majors and Earth suit cards, and only Majors appeared. Yes, it felt like major wisdom was being offered to me.

BEGIN

in motion on spiral 5.24.15Grounding and centering is a good start to any elemental wander and particularly vital for an earth-focused wander. Starhawk’s ideas for Open-Eyed Grounding in The Earth Path are appropriate for wandering in nature. She defines grounding as “being relaxed but alert, energetically connected to earth but able to move, present and aware, in a state in which we can take in information and make conscious choices about what we do” (P.53). Here is my summary of her suggested steps:

  • Stand with eyes open and feet about shoulder-width apart and knees bent. Breathe and feel the breath circulating. Tune into your feet and feel how they are supported by the ground.
  • Imagine that you have roots coming from your feet and going down into the ground. Feel the energy of earth come up your roots and move through your body. Enjoy the support. Enjoy the flow of energy that you are actually feeling or imagining flowing through you.
  • If thoughts distract you from being present to earth arise as you wander, you can send them down through the roots that connect you earth. The earth loves to compost no longer needed garbage.
  • You will need to move your feet to wander, but you can hold on to the sensation or imagine that the roots are moving with you. They are flexible and movable, adding spring to your step.
  • Start moving slowly. Let each rise and return of your foot connect to the earth. How does your connection to earth feel the same or different from your normal walking? 

OBSERVE THE EARTH ELEMENT

What belongs to the earth? What belongs to other elements? You won’t need to and won’t be able to ignore the presence of fire, water, and air. All the elements mix to make our dynamic world. You can tune your attention to what seems to you to be most elementally earth. Starhawk’s The Earth Path, again, offers guidance. Pay particular attention to:

  • purple conviction orange mushroomsGround and what you are walking on whether it be the duff of the forest floor or the cement of a city side walk.
  • Rocks. These most solid of nature’s offerings perhaps come quickly to mind around the element of earth. How big is the rock you are seeing: boulder, pebble, sand? What has been happening with slow changing rocks in your area?
  • Soil. Our food comes from dirt. What is going on with the dirt that you discover?
  • Growth. What is growing and how much of it?
  • Decay. What is passing away? How is this decay treated or greeted?
  • Seeds. Do you see them or evidence of their existence?
  • Fungi. So much of what we call mushrooms grows below the surface in an interconnected web. What can you glimpse of that web?
  • Bones. What bones are present? Can you see them? Maybe only your own will be out and moving around.
  • Plants and Trees. What is growing around you? And how do they grow together in communities of support?

And as you exploring pay attention to your whole body. How does it feel to move in the environment? As you connect with what you are paying attention to, where do you feel this in your body?

REFLECTION AND QUESTION MAKING

I appreciate Starhawk’s guidance on seeking earth wisdom because, while she clearly is in love with the natural world, she tells us that she didn’t come to this connection naturally. She grew up in an apartment and didn’t garden or study ecology. She’s not the fittest person in the world. But she suggest that these “weaknesses” can be strengths because it helps her – and we who would emulate her – to be curious and wonder about what is happening instead of knowing and coming to a quick answer. The first of her nine ways of observing nature come from this place of not knowing and instead wondering. You might wonder why particular plants grow close together or how anything can grow on rock.

These wonderings, perhaps recorded as you are out on your wander, can be prompts from some research into the workings of nature. You can also use your wonderings in a way similar to how you might use a Tarot or oracle image by looking at what it says about you, your curiosities and longings, and what you are open to exploring. The questions you craft might be the ones that you take on your pilgrimage on the other side of the Solstice.

dragonfly on boob 5.24.15

My encounters with bees and dragonflies in 2015 had me wondering:

What is the link between the seen and unseen realms?

How does communication flow between these realms?

What is my role in facilitating communication between these realms?

SHARING

As you wander you may receive messages, either for you as an individual or for the collective. You may receive images that speak louder than words. You may experience a sensation that isn’t easily explained. You may feel called to share what you receive. Perhaps the earth will share a message through you. Please do that sharing in what ever way feels right; tell a story to a friend, post on Facebook, write something for your blog, whisper some to the moon. Social media mavens, you may want to use hash tags of #wisdomwander #earth for tracking. Your comments here on the blog are welcome as well.

Join me next week here on the blog when prompts and suggestions for connecting with the air element while wandering will be offered. Or check out my guided Wisdom Wanders in Western MA and NYC.

Jun 152015
 

This is the third Wisdom Wander of the Walking the Ways of the Summer Lightseries. The focus is on the element of Fire. In these weekly posts, I offer inspirations for your walks as well as examples from my own Wanders. They expand on my general suggestions that you may want to review for orientation. The first Earth Wisdom Wander also contains more detail on the process of preparing for and beginning the Wanders. These are only prompts for your own creating and modification.

PREPARE FOR AND BEGIN YOUR FIRE EXPLORATION

Milkweed in fire evidencePrepare to Explore Fire: Take a moment to ponder the element of Fire as you’ve experienced it manifested in your life. How often are you aware of Fire? What forms does Fire take? Where do you experience Fire in these various forms? What role does Fire play in your life? Let the ideas emerge like sparks and when one really grabs your attention follow that idea toward the location for your Fire Wisdom Wander.

Actual fire is an obvious form for elemental Fire, and on my Water Wisdom Wander I passed by the place I knew I would return to for this Fire Wisdom Wander: the site of the Winter Solstice bonfire at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary now grown over with wildflowers. I was amazed to see that milkweed plants had grown right through the large burnt ash remnants of the fire in that cold time.

Invite your Way Showers / Guides / Inquisitors / Translators for the Day:  If working with a Tarot deck, you may want to pull your cards from just the suit of Fire / Wands or some combination of the Fire suit and the Major Arcana. As I see each Major Arcana as an image of Wholeness, I work with the idea that each individual Major card contains the power of all the elements.

When I started the Wisdom Wanders I thought I might vary my selection process, but I’ve found a pattern that works for me so I’ve been repeating it.  But you should be sure to follow your instinctual inspirations – especially in a Fire week! – perhaps with a twist any usual process. Before heading to the spot I’d already identified last week, I pulled three cards from the Oracle of Initiation as guides for my Fire exploration; Unconscious, Sanctified, and Wonder. To match the three Oracle cards I pulled three cards from a mix of the Shining Tribe Tarot’s Major Arcana and the suit of Trees (this deck’s suit connected to the element of Fire) to point me toward Fire’s lessons for me: The Chariot, The Hermit, and 9 of Trees.

fire guides and lessons

EXPLORE WITH THE ELEMENT OF FIRE

What belongs to Fire? Where does it show itself? Where is it hidden or blocked? What belongs to other elements? You won’t need to and won’t be able to ignore the presence of Earth, Air, and Water. All the elements mix to make our dynamic world. But you are invited to tune into Fire’s energy and the unique ways that it shows itself, including within …

  • The Sun: Life on the planet is made possible because of the star, our Sun, that the Earth circles. Plants and trees use the sun to make their food and we creatures eat them to gain the energy we need to live. In The Earth Path, Starhawk describes our relationship to the sun with playful metaphor, writing: “In four or five steps at most, we go back to the sun. All life is, in a sense, a transformation of energy into form. We are sunlight at a vast costume party, dressing itself up in one form after another, discarding one outfit to pick up a different one.” The sun’s continual abundance is a great gift of the cosmos to sustain our lives.
  • The Moon: The changing light of the moon is an indirect form of the sun’s light. Sometimes the moon offers a full reflection of sun and the night landscape is almost as clear as in the day. But at other times, the night is dark and the moon in shadow. This reminds us we can not always live in the sun, at full energy, in clarity. There is darkness for rest and as a place where things are hidden and less apparent, which can be both gift and lesson.
  • Spark, flame, blaze, ember, and burnt remains: Actual fire is a direct and obvious way to explore the element. Along with observing fire’s actions, checking in on what happens to what remains once the flame is extinguished can take you into the depths of Fire. Fire in the natural world is both destructive and regenerative. Wild fires destroy what ever lies in its path, but afterwards soil has new nutrients and the clearing away of obstacles to sun reaching the forest floor invites new growth. Fire moves quickly but has a long term impact.
  • Embodied and Subtle Energy: Fire is the energy that exists within the forms of cells that act together to become plants, trees, animals, and our own bodies. The convergence of cells to form a whole is a mirror to how individual beings come together to contribute to a larger habitat or energy system. Finding the right balance of predator and prey, complementary plants and insects as well as inputs of fire, water, earth, and air (in this case literally rather than elementally) are what make a healthy landscape. In such a landscape we sense good energy or spirit of place. In a landscape that has been depleted, the spirit can be low or heavy, and is experienced as negative. This sense beyond the physical is the subtle energy that exists apart from science’s measurement but that spiritual practitioners have named and communed with as ch’i, prana, or auras. Impacting inputs in the subtle can be formless qualities such as love, anger, fear, compassion.
  • Exchange: Energy is constantly in movement and being exchanged: when we flip a light switch (energy comes from plant to lamp), as we eat (energy of the plant or creature being eaten is transferred to the one doing the eating), and during sex (it’s a high energy act from everyone from insects to humans and the exchange of cells starts the race toward a new being of embodied energy).

And as you are exploring – and you’ll certainly have to use your imaginal senses to do this – tune into the cells in your body. Can you feel the tingle of their fires at a specific spot? What is happening to the whole energy flow of your body? Where inside of you do you feel positive flow? Where do you feel blockages of flow?

REPORT FROM MY WANDER

This Wander I was struck by the value of having a special place in nature to return to again and again. Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary has been my nature home base for quite awhile and this past year I’ve focused my attention on a small part of the sanctuary: the field where the Winter Solstice bonfire takes place. The transformations of nature are rich in this small plot of land and it is the site of my ritual to release grief and unproductive patterns into the last December’s bonfire. This combination of natural process and personal ritual weave together into a net of insight that is still coming into focus for me but clearly include how life and death are intertwined, seeming opposites are really part of the Whole, and my magic making may be as simple as the perception of the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I’ll describe some of these Wanders happenings but I’m sure the words will fall short of the experience.  I can tell you that an orange bird flew at top speed so close to my ear that I felt the whoose of its flight and said a “Wow” in my heart, but the words only scratch the surface of the experience.  That the card that emerged from my pocket after this bird encounter was Wonder says both everything and nothing at the same time.

After my bird encounter and three ritual circlings of the field, I walked right into the remains of the bonfire. Most of the field is filled with grasses, milkweed, clover, and other wild things. This green life is encroaching on burnt remains, but there is still a dark circle at field’s center. Here I created a mandala of cards between the burnt and milkweed’s bursting.

fire site mandala horizontal

The dark blue card of Unconscious lay down on the burnt log. In the Oracle of Initiation companion, book Mellissae Lucia writes that this card shows the shadow that were once suppressed but when released becomes the key to shining your light in the world. What I placed into this winter’s fire to be burnt away is becoming the light, energy, or illumination I can offer to the world. The Chariot as the lesson card here reinforces the idea of transforming my dark depths as the way forward.

Closer to the green life, the two cards of illumination, Sanctified and Wonder, emerged. Sanctified is the card of the union of masculine and feminine in the embrace of Love. The disturbance of the 9 of Trees as the lesson card connected to Sanctifying points the way to seeing grief as an act of love – and going all the way through its pain as a way of sanctifying a death. Wonder danced with the Hermit here, and showed how stepping away from human company for a while connects us to the wonder and teachings of nature.

Not all the messages were about the solitary life, however, The orange beetles who appeared in the first flowering of milkweed were clearly copulating! Yes, sex is certainly a part of the gift of fire.

beetle sex

And, yes, there was a dragonfly (see Earth, Air, and Water Wanders for the full story)… of sorts.  Actually it was a damselfly and strangely, though it stayed still for me for a long time and let me come quite close I could never get a clear picture.  Perhaps not all messages are meant to be clear upon first receiving them. Perhaps more pondering is needed to gain the sweetest gifts. And for this Wander’s report, I will leave you with that mystery to ponder.

closer blurry damzelfly

REFLECTION AND QUESTION MAKING

Fire questions are the questions that might lead to sudden illumination. They might seem to come out of nowhere.  Just let ‘em come.  Give them some attention and they’ll expand from the energy you offer them.

Here are a few from me:

  • How can my fears move me toward my greatest achievements?
  • What if I dared to be flame?
  • What fills me with wonder? How can I do some of that right now?

SHARING

As you wander you may receive messages, either for you as an individual or for the collective. You may receive images that speak louder than words. You may experience a sensation that isn’t easily explained. You may feel called to share what you receive. Perhaps the Fire will share a message through you. Please do that sharing in what ever way feels right; tell a story to a friend, post on Facebook, write something for your blog, whisper some to the moon. Social media mavens, you may want to use hash tags of #wisdomwander #fire for tracking. Your comments here on the blog are welcome as well.

 

This is the last Wisdom Wanders post for the Walking the Ways of the Summer Light series. Later in the week I will post some inspirations for marking the Summer Solstice, which arrives for us here in North America on Sunday. There will be a brief pause in Walking the Ways posting so I can bask in the Solsticetide. On July 6th, four weekly posts on Pilgrimage as a place to bring our questions for answers will begin.

 

Jun 082015
 

This is the third Wisdom Wander of the Walking the Ways of the Summer Light series. The focus is on the element of Water. In these weekly posts, I offer inspirations for your walks as well as examples from my own Wanders. They expand on my general suggestions that you may want to review for orientation. The first Earth Wisdom Wander also contains more detail on the process of preparing for and beginning the Wanders. These are only prompts for your own creating and modification.

PREPARE FOR AND BEGIN YOUR WATER FLOW

Enter Water’s Flow: Water moves if not contained so you might just flow out of one moment and into the next paying attention as you go to being your Wisdom Wander. I did grab my two decks, camera, notebook, and hat, but left my house without a real plan. As I stepped from my porch, one of the garter snakes that have taken up residence underneath slithered across the walkway in full S curves. I felt a tingle at the base of my spine of both fear and delight. Then I started toward Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on the Connecticut River’s Oxbow, but when inspiration struck detoured to a small conservation area running along the Manhan River.  I started down the path and soon encountered another garter snake. This one did not move at all, except for a flick of the tongue, but let me walk by within inches. I found my way to the edge of a very low, very slow moving river.

Invite your Way Showers / Guides / Inquisitors / Translators for the Day:  If working with a Tarot deck, you may want to pull your cards from just the suit of Water / Cups or some combination of the Water suit and the Major Arcana. As I see each Major Arcana as an image of Wholeness, I work with the idea that each individual Major card contains the power of all the elements.

Before gathering my guides and translators, I walked for a while along the river and then at a curve I stood for a while looking into the water, listening to it, and smelling the scent of water, sand, and fallen tree. I then pulled three cards from the Oracle of Initiation as guides for my Water flow; Clarity, Refining, and Recognition. To match the three Oracle cards I pulled three cards from a mix of the Minoan Tarot’s Major Arcana and the suit of Sea (this deck’s suit connected to the element of Water) to point me toward Water’s lessons for me. All Majors emerged: The Wheel of Life, Ecstasy (which takes the place of the Devil card in this deck), and Flow. (Yes, Flow!)

Guides and lessons 6.7.15

FLOW WITH THE ELEMENT OF WATER

What belongs to Water? What belongs to other elements? You won’t need to and won’t be able to ignore the presence of Earth, Air, and Fire. All the elements mix to make our dynamic world. But you are invited to tune into Water’s flow and its special gifts. You might try out being with Water as …

  • Source of life. Creation stories from many different cultures begin with water. Our food comes to us because of water. We humans are mostly water. As I stood at the edge of slow moving waters, I was moved to whisper to the water: “Thank you for my life.”
  • A conduit of connection and wholeness.  In The Earth Path, Starkawk says that in meditation, she heard water say, “All water is one – one whole, one awareness. All water is continuously aware of all the other waters in the world.” So when you stand at the edge of the ocean, a river, or puddle you might feel the connection to all the other waters in the world. When you take a sip from the tap, you might imagine that you are drinking in the flow of all the oceans on the earth.
  • Trickster of cycles.  The sun and moon have regular cycles, but water shows us an irregular flow from deluge to drought, or sometimes just enough. As I walked by my low river, Texas flooded but there are places in California that would be feel blessed by what I perceive as unusual lack. This cyclical imbalance offers another kind of reminder of how we are connected by water. While I may not be in California, the food produced there feeds the whole country. I have a local farm share so the impact this summer will be lessened for me individually, but the current food system will struggle to absorb the impact and real problems will emerge as the drought continues. This trickster side of water is offering us a lesson in connection and a prompt to think about solutions like localized food production.
  • Mirror. Serenity, turbulence, peace. The movement of water can help to let our feelings flow. Cascades of water can loosen our tears. A calm stretch of water can give us rest. We can mirror the water and find a new rhythm. This experience goes beyond words. Just be with water and see.
  • Voice. The sound of water is hypnotic, can shift your state. Let the water relax you into an altered state and then listen for its messages.
  • Mystery and play. Below the surface, water can be dark and murky, impenetrable. We know we can’t see everything. On this Wisdom Wander, I visited the large vernal pool that a few weeks ago had been filled with frog life, but now was dark with decay of leaves and fallen branches most apparent. How does this darkness descent so quickly? I ponder that question for a while, but later in the day came upon the water park where children squealed in delight as the cold water hit their shoulders. For many of us, water is the element we play in the most. We take vacations to be near water, swim in pools, dance in its spray. So water shows me that seriousness of mystery and the delight of play exist together, like Yin and Yang contain each other.

And as you are exploring – and you might have to use your imaginal senses to do this – see if you can feel your blood flowing. What tunes you into your inner movement? What softens in your body? Where inside do you know you are liquid and water and flow?

REPORT FROM MY WANDER

Flow and pattern, connection and mirror, clarity and mystery mixed to open me to the power of being with Water and what comes from making a relationship with the elemental world.

As I mentioned, my Wander began with a two-snake encounter, and, The Minoan Wheel of Life has two intertwined snakes at its center. A lovely synchronicity to begin the Wander.

From the conservation area, I did move to Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary where I and many participants on the retreats I offer there have had powerful encounters with the land and its creatures.

hawk 6.7.15I spent most of my time on a nice Wander along the still waters of Arcadia. I was on the main path, nearly done with my walk, when I felt a drop of water fall on arm. The sky was clear and we’d had no rain in days so I paused to look up at the trees overhead. In the next moment, a hawk flew silently overhead to land on a branch above me. A jay followed, harrying the hawk that was now just feet away from me. I stood there with my mouth open. I started to reach for my camera without taking my eyes off the hawk. The jay grew bolder and the hawk lifted off, showing me its extending red-brown, stripped wings, flying toward the water beyond. I didn’t follow.

I was wishing I’d gotten a picture to share when from the other side of the path I heard another jay and turned to see the glide of wings through the trees. This new hawk landed on a distant but visible branch. I stepped from the path moving slowly toward the hawk’s tree. The jay jibbed and the hawk opened its lower beak and let out a screech. I kept moving toward the bird leaving the path behind.

This hawk, too, grew weary of the jay and flew off. I found myself between paths and looking at a Lady Slipper. Ecstasy came out for dance with this delicate wildflower. I found my way back to a new path and returned to the nature center.

ecstasy ladyslipper 6.7.15

I don’t read about the cards before I go out on my Wanders, but afterwards look forward to reading the deck creators’ wisdom and connecting it to my impressions of the cards and where they appeared on the Wander. All of the Oracle of Initiation cards are associated with a Deity, and as I read about these guides was struck by how the Oracle and Minoan cards were mirrors to each other.

Minoan WheelClarity is associated with the Anasazi who as great creators of poetry stir our imagination to see the patterns of our lives and make of ourselves a vessel for living out our purpose. The Minoan Wheel presents a visual pattern that with its intertwined snakes invites us to see transformation in the pattern of our lives.

Refining is associated with the Goddess Shakti and Mellissae Lucia writes of this card: “The invitation of all your aspects becomes the vibrational attunement that allows the ecstatic embodiments of you unique gifts.” Yes, this is the card connected with the Minoan’s Ecstasy. Ecstasy came out to visit with the Lady Slipper so I can’t help but think of the saying: “If the shoe fits, wear it”!

minoan-14-flowRecognition is associated with the Aztec flying serpent God Quetzalcoatl. As I was looking at Recognition and the Minoan’s Flow together my eye traveled to the two birds at the top of the labrrys-top pillars. Here were my two hawks.

I had begun my Wander with two snakes and I ended it with two birds. In between I had let water – even its smallest drop – direct my attention; strayed from my established path; and let myself be carried by the ecstatic flow. My snake self – the me that is ready for transformation – soared. I dared to look in the Quetzalcoatl mirror.

There is a lot more I could say really, but I think I’ll just leave the words to float in the mystery.

A dragonfly postscript …

I saw a dragonfly in the distance but had no special encounters with these insects at Arcadia as I had in the Earth and Air Wanders. But when I stopped for tea and journaling at the Cup and Top coffee shop, I sat at the counter that faced the art display wall and this is what I saw (te, he):

dragonfly sign 6.7.15

REFLECTION AND QUESTION MAKING

Water questions are the questions that just flow out of you as you wander and upon further reflection. Their source might be from any of the ideas outlined above or from some deep well. Just let the questions that enliven you and stir your heart surface. Here are some of mine:

  • What is my part to play in shedding the illusion of separation, of supporting the embrace of connection … and of Love?
  • How to embrace my cracks? How to let the healing water flow through them?  How to let the light shine through?
  • How to show my gratitude to my divine and otherworldly companions and guardians who are always showing up for me even as I doubt them?
  • How to keep releasing skepticism?
  • How to embrace the ecstatic embodiment of my unique gifts? What form / vessel can I create to share this?

I wrote more questions. I won’t use them all, but no need to stop the flow of their emergence in the moment. I’m not trying to answer the questions at this point. I’m just gathering them to see which ones I will want to bring on July’s pilgrimage.

Wisdom Wanders, after all, are not about finding the answers but become more fluid with welcoming our questions.  I love what Mellissae Lucia writes in the Oracle of Initiation companion book:  “Divination is truly about becoming a “question carrier.’ A question carrier is one who is able to be with uncertainty, mystery, and paradox within their lives … they do not need to rush toward concrete qualifications for things – they allow the story to unfold over time.”

SHARING

As you wander you may receive messages, either for you as an individual or for the collective. You may receive images that speak louder than words. You may experience a sensation that isn’t easily explained. You may feel called to share what you receive. Perhaps the Water will share a message through you. Please do that sharing in what ever way feels right; tell a story to a friend, post on Facebook, write something for your blog, whisper some to the moon. Social media mavens, you may want to use hash tags of #wisdomwander #water for tracking. Your comments here on the blog are welcome as well.

Wisdom Wanders continue next week with a Fire post on Monday as we prepare for the arrival of the Solstice.

 

May 252015
 

This is the first Wisdom Wander of the Walking the Ways of the Summer Light series. The focus is on the element of earth. Circles for Seekers start next Monday; only 3 slots left!

To focus in on the earth element, I offer these inspirations as well as examples from my Wander yesterday. These ideas expand on my general suggestions and are specific to the earth element. These are only prompts for your own creating and modification. I was lucky to be able to set aside a day in nature for my exploring, but, if you don’t have the time or can’t get away, a walk to work in the city or taking out the garbage at night could become an Earth Wisdom Wander with intention setting and perhaps a few extra steps.

PREPARE FOR AN EARTH ENCOUNTER

Take a moment to ponder your connection and understanding of the element of earth. What do you know about the earth? What do you feel about the earth? What lessons might the earth offer you? What might you receive from some time spent with earth? What gifts can you offer to earth?

Select the spot that will help you connect with the earth element.  The elements are all around us so this doesn’t have to be a new place for you. Nature awareness training programs often suggest that you find a special spot that you return to over and over again as a stable home base, as a place you can observe change. But going to a new place is also an option. The newness can invite an opening of the senses as you explore the unfamiliar. I couldn’t pass up the offer to visit my friend Linda’s newly created double spiral herb garden. After I left the spiral, I continued earth exploring at a state forest.

in motion on spiral 5.24.15

Invite your Way Showers / Guides / Inquisitors / Translators for the Day:  If working with a Tarot deck, you may want to pull your cards from just the suit of Earth / Pentacles or some combination of the Earth suit and the Major Arcana. As I see each Major Arcana as an image of Wholeness, I work with the idea that each individual Major card contains the power of all the elements.

To gather my guides and translators, I brought out my Oracle of Initiation. I meant to pull 2 cards as guides to earth exploring, but a third one jumped out of the deck. To match the 3 Oracle cards I pulled 3 cards from the Minoan Tarot to serve as lessons from earth. Although I mixed the Earth suite and Majors, only majors appeared. I didn’t read anything about the cards or analyze them before taking them out with me into the spiral. We’d come to know each other as we walked.

guides and lessons 5.24.15

BEGIN

Grounding and centering is a good start to any elemental wander and particularly vital for an earth-focused wander. Starhawk’s ideas for Open-Eyed Grounding in The Earth Path are appropriate for wandering in nature. She defines grounding as “being relaxed but alert, energetically connected to earth but able to move, present and aware, in a state in which we can take in information and make conscious choices about what we do” (P.53). Here is my summary of her suggested steps:

  • Stand with eyes open and feet about shoulder-width apart and knees bent. Breathe and feel the breath circulating. Tune into your feet and feel how they are supported by the ground.
  • Imagine that you have roots coming from your feet and going down into the ground. Feel the energy of earth come up your roots and move through your body. Enjoy the support. Enjoy the flow of energy that you are actually feeling or imagining flowing through you.
  • If thoughts distract you from being present to earth arise as you wander, you can send them down through the roots that connect you earth. The earth loves to compost no longer needed garbage.
  • You will need to move your feet to wander, but you can hold on to the sensation or imagine that the roots are moving with you. They are flexible and movable, adding spring to your step.
  • Start moving slowly. Let each rise and return of your foot connect to the earth. How does your connection to earth feel the same or different from your normal walking?

OBSERVE THE EARTH ELEMENT

What belongs to the earth? What belongs to other elements? You won’t need to and won’t be able to ignore the presence of fire, water, and air. All the elements mix to make our dynamic world. You can tune your attention to what seems to you to be most elementally earth. Starhawk’s The Earth Path, again, offers guidance. Pay particular attention to:

  • Ground and what you are walking on whether it be the duff of the forest floor or the cement of a city side walk.
  • Rocks. These most solid of nature’s offerings perhaps come quickly to mind around the element of earth. How big is the rock you are seeing: boulder, pebble, sand? What has been happening with slow changing rocks in your area?
  • Soil. Our food comes from dirt. What is going on with the dirt that you discover?
  • Growth. What is growing and how much of it?
  • Decay. What is passing away? How is this decay treated or greeted?
  • Seeds. Do you see them or evidence of their existence?
  • Fungi. So much of what we call mushrooms grows below the surface in an interconnected web. What can you glimpse of that web?
  • Bones. What bones are present? Can you see them? Maybe only your own will be out and moving around.
  • Plants and Trees. What is growing around you? And how do they grow together in communities of support?

And as you exploring pay attention to your whole body. How does it feel to move in the environment? As you connect with what you are paying attention to, where do you feel this in your body?

bee card shipwreck 5.24.15As I walked the spiral, I’d pause and consider the ground, the tree line and sky, and the plants who were trying to establish themselves in this very dry spring. Sometimes I would take out one of my cards in relationship to a particular plant or view. The God came to be by the one plant already flowering, the catamint. Examine for when I looked up to see the trees. A bumble bee flew by and Shipwreck appeared. This seemed a collective rather than personal message of alert. So many bee hives are suffering from colony collapse and, without these pollinators human food production will be impacted. Shipwreck sends the message: Listen to the bees. They are in free fall and need nurture. More flowers and fewer pesticides are what is suggested. If we don’t listen, we humans may next be in free fall.

After I left the spiral, I visited a state forest that surrounds a lake. (Locally, we call it the Goshen ocean.) I left my cards in the car for this walk. I wanted to focus on what was happening in the natural world as I walked the rocky paths around the lake. Toward the end of my time, I paused in a clearing of trees that reminded me of place in Nova Scotia special to me and my late partner John. My awareness of John’s presence around me come and goes, and I don’t talk about this connection widely. (I struggled to write this bit of blog post actually.)

I hesitate to speak of my communication between the realms because, well, I don’t want to be seen as a kook bag. Although I do Tarot, I often remind people I have a Master of Science in Management and don’t work as a psychic. I hold on to the status and respectability of my academic and professional life, these are places where people don’t speak to the dead.

dragonfly on boob 5.24.15But I’ll confess to you here that I was talking to John. I hadn’t been aware of his presence for a while, and didn’t expect a response. I started talking about the special place we’d traveled to together and how grateful I was for the adventures we’d had. Then a dragonfly landed on my left side and started climbing my body. The dragonfly climbed up my chest, stopped over my heart, and posed for some pictures. I smiled broadly at the silly beauty of the encounter.

I didn’t think that the dragonfly was John, but this was a message about connection on a deep level. I didn’t remember the symbolic meaning of dragonfly but upon returning home found this on dragonfly symbolism:  “Coincidentally dragonfly encounters like these seem to defy the simple expectations and underscore the ongoing mysteries that nature serves up. … In some (Japanese) spiritual ceremonies, dragonflies are thought to be the guides of souls revisiting their families on earth.”

I hadn’t anticipated this happening on an earth element walk. The earth for me is about the physical and the real, but as we wander we must be open to any gift that comes. So in this open mode, my encounter deepens my knowing that the earth is vibrantly alive with connections. It reinforces my current conception that the dead are not in a far away place, but here besides us. And the earth and spirit are not separate, but intertwined. This is, of course, the wisdom of indigenous people, which I hope we find more ways to honor and then to live out its implications.

REFLECTION AND QUESTION MAKING

I appreciate Starhawk’s guidance on seeking earth wisdom because, while she clearly is in love with the natural world, she tells us that she didn’t come to this connection naturally. She grew up in an apartment and didn’t garden or study ecology. She’s not the fittest person in the world. But she suggest that these “weaknesses” can be strengths because it helps her – and we who would emulate her – to be curious and wonder about what is happening instead of knowing and coming to a quick answer. The first of her nine ways of observing nature come from this place of not knowing and instead wondering. You might wonder why particular plants grow close together or how anything can grow on rock. I wondered about if wild bees communicate with bees in the hive and what the link between the wild and domesticated bees is.

These wonderings, perhaps recorded as you are out on your wander, can be prompts from some research into the workings of nature. On my way home, I stopped at a tiny local library. They have a small collection of books, but I found a field guide to Massachusetts Damsel and Dragonflies. How lucky was that?

You can also use your wonderings in a way similar to how you might use a Tarot or oracle image by looking at what it says about you, your curiosities and longings, and what you are open to exploring. If I look back at my bee question, I see that it is about communication across difference and divides so I craft a few questions that I might take on my pilgrimage in July:

  • What is the link between the seen and unseen realms?
  • How does communication flow between these realms?
  • What is my role in facilitating communication between these realms?

SHARING

As you wander you may receive messages, either for you as an individual or for the collective. You may receive images that speak louder than words. You may experience a sensation that isn’t easily explained. You may feel called to share what you receive. Perhaps the earth will share a message through you. Please do that sharing in what ever way feels right; tell a story to a friend, post on Facebook, write something for your blog, whisper some to the moon. Social media mavens, you may want to use hash tags of #wisdomwander #earth for tracking. Your comments here on the blog are welcome as well.

Wisdom Wanders continue next week with an Air post on Monday. The circles for seekers start on June 1 so this is the last week to sign up. If you are loving this seasonal ritual, feel free to sign up for more in the Full Moon Circle.

 

Sep 292014
 

Each week I pull Tarot cards to inspire practice that cultivates soul wisdom for readers of the blog as a group using the Gaian Tarot.  (If you want to read more about the process, check out Sacred Practices of the Gaian Tarot: The 3 P’s).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.

gaian 15-bindweedPATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What path would it best serve us to walk this week? BINDWEED  invites us to walk this week on pathways of  …

  • Meeting the shadow (, i.e. the parts of ourselves that we reject and don’t want to acknowledge) as a first step toward integrating it more fully into your understanding of yourself.
  • Acknowledging where you are stuck and then holding that place with compassion.
  • Attending to the places inside you that feel dark or heavy. You can offer them attention, perhaps listening for the wisdom being offered from here, before you try to fix them.

gaian nine-airPRACTICE:  Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question:  What practice(s) will best serve us to move along this path this week?  NINE OF AIR  invites us to practices such as …

  • Grief work for both individual and planetary losses.  Joanna Macy‘s Work that Reconnects is a wisdom resource for deep work here.
  • Work with Mellissa Lucia’s Oracle of Initiation, where guardian beings of light and of earth show us “the way to our rainbows in the dark, the paradox of our greatest gifts hidden within our shadows.”
  • Releasing your difficult emotions into the Earth. I’ve experienced Starhawk‘s meditations  where she tells you that you can send all your difficult emotions through into the Earth Mother because She composts it; can transform all things. Starkhawk offers a meditation in which a grounding chord sent down from the base of your spine allows you to release all your grief into the earth.

gaian-guardian-firePOSTURE:  Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as:  What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to undertake this practice and walk with path?   GUARDIAN OF FIRE invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of …

  • Coaxing the gifts that might be hidden more deeply to emerge.
  • Compassion for others and for yourself.
  • Courage to stand in the dark and call forth the light.

OVERALL MUSINGS:  As I was preparing the practice suggestions, I was struck by how many deep and wise resources there are to support us in times of difficulty and grief.  We are supported no matter how challenged we feel.  This wisdom is built – unconsciously, or perhaps this is better said as serendipitously – into the Bindweed card. Although Joanna Powell Colbert designed the birds to be starlings and represent a problem of invasive species, numerous clients and people who work with the deck have seen these birds as protectors who are always there whether they are seen or not. The appearance of She Who Watches in the 9 of Air reinforces this message. The spirit figure in the clouds is She Who Watches over all offering love and compassion.