Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shuffling The Tarot

All tarot reading begin with a good shuffle. Some might argue that clearing and cleansing the deck by some method would or should always be the first step to any tarot reading. If you've been allowing other people to handle your deck I would agree. My habit is to clear the deck of outside energies at the end of a reading session before I put the cards away. I prefer to not allow any outside influences to surround my decks, even in a resting state. 

 However, if you are reading for yourself with a tarot deck no one else has touched you might want to skip the clearing step. Some readers feel that the information in a reading is enhanced by the culmulative effects of personal energy built up over a period of time. Eventually you may begin to notice what can only be called energy-sludge on your cards. When this occurs, your intuitive understanding of the symbols may become clouded. The cards may begin to feel sluggish as you shuffle. If your readings become significantly difficult to understand, it's time to clear your cards. 

Others feel that starting a reading with a clean slate is the only way to go. There is no right or wrong, so feel free to go with what feels right to you. 

The method of shuffling the cards is also an individual choice. Your first thought about shuffling the Tarot may be to handle them just like playing cards, shuffling with two hands and letting the cards intermingle as they drop to the table.  I don't recommend this style of shuffle. It does mix the cards well but it also tends to damage the cards by bending them in the middle with each shuffle. Tarot decks can be expensive and I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend my money on different decks rather than replacing ones I already own!   Many tarot decks are larger than regular playing cards and this makes them difficult to handle with this type of shuffling.

Another way of mixing the cards is to just let them fall randomly on the table. Then with both hands simply move them all over, scrambling and mixing as you go. Pretend you're six years old and you'll  do it perfectly! The more you move the cards, the better the mix. This method takes a pretty large table and can be slow, requiring several minutes of mixing before you get a sense of completion.  I'm not a fan of this method; my mind tends to wander too much. 

What works best for me is to square up the deck with the back of the cards to me. I hold the cards along the horizontal or long side and I randomly divide the deck between my two hands. Then I begin intermingling the cards by cutting the cards into themselves. I'll do this several times, with varying numbers of cards at a time. I usually close my eyes, focus on the issues at hand or the person that is my client as I mix and cut several times.  You may prefer to hold the cards with the tops or short side and cut in that way, from top to bottom. 

Until recently, I've cut right to left because I am right handed. Lately I've reversed that, moving left to right and I think I will stay with this method. I believe that my shuffling with my non-dominant hand I'm connecting more strongly with my intuition than my logical senses.  If a card falls out as I'm shuffling, I set it aside and will use it as an additional card to clarify a reading. 

Many tarot readers, especially beginners, prefer to not have any reversed or upside down cards in their readings. If you want to ensure all your cards stay upright, go through the deck before you shuffle and orient all the cards in the upright position. Be consistent in the up/down or right/left method as you shuffle. 

If you want to create reversed cards in your deck, simply turn an occasional cut 180 degrees as you shuffle. 

As you've probably guessed, there are many ways to shuffle your cards. You're free to even invent your own! Do what is comfortable for you and leaves you with a well mixed deck.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Star-

The Star is a serene, peaceful card filled with hope and wellbeing. As I look at the imagery, I feel a calmness that evolves into a long, deep sigh of last. Some of my earliest memories are of looking up into the night sky and loving the stars. One of my most vivid visual memories is of seeing the expanse of the Milky Way on an autumn evening in the Wyoming night.  Pondering the stars and the vastness of the universe always made me wonder about my own place in time, past, present and future. All those feelings come flooding back to me when I draw the Star.

Classically, the Star represents hopefulness and, if one has been involved in a difficult period, moving forward into a more beneficial time. The Star is a positive card of giving and receiving, inspiration and illuminating insights.  It suggests a quiet place to find your emotional center and balance your emotions. There is no sense of urgency at all in this card. The woman is unclothed, exposing her true self with no shame. Notice that she has one foot in the water and yet she is firmly still on land. The water represents emotions, feelings, creativity and inspiration.  The land keeps her grounded in the real world, where she knows she must remain engaged and not forget her purpose. She's practical but stills listens to her inner spirit.

 In the distance, there are mountains ; suggesting that this is the calm following great exertion, either by accomplishment or endurance of what has brought her to this oasis. Or we could view the mountains as being still in her future, tasks she must still face, lessons yet to be learned. If we take this point of view, then perhaps her momentary peaceful respite is in fact an act of marshalling her resources before she forges on.

However you interpret the Star, it's important to know that this is a Major Arcana card and it must be respected for it's inherent wisdom and importance. The Star is a positive indication that you are on the right path. There is still much to be done and the Star will help guide you forward. It's a card of believing that dreams can come true. Stay true to yourself, listen to the whisperings of your heart and know that you can fulfill your highest hopes. Trust in your intuition. Trust in yourself.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seven of Cups

Comparing the same card in two or more different tarot decks can help you gain insights into its meaning in the reading and for you personally. The two 7 of Cups cards I'm sharing today are vastly different in their illustrations, colors and symbols. Neither is better than the other. One is not more right than the other. Both capture the classic concepts of the Sevens, of the suite of Cups and specifically the 7 of Cups. Both are merely different shadings of the message. Which do you prefer?
The traditional Rider Waite view of the 7 of Cups is clearly about choices. They're emotionally loaded choices, take a close look at what each chalice is holding. The man seems bewildered or perhaps we've just caught him in the instant before he reaches out to for one cup over the other. I think he's not at all sure what he's going to too, the fact that the cups all sit on a turbulent gray cloud speaks to me of mental confusion, many sleepless nights worrying about the gravity of the decisions.  He seems to be connecting with the center chalice, notice the vibrant red halo...that could indicate a clear choice that he should make, one that might lead him to his true destiny, but the clouds may be obscuring his view. It may also be be telling us that there is an energetic connection being made here, he's being pulled toward this choice but because whatever is within the chalice is cloaked, he's too worried about the unknown to decide. Either way, there's a clear message of confusion here. 

Our other card is from The Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Losche. This is a
contemporary reinterpretation of the Rider Waite. The images here are familiar, there are chalices and choices but there is a much stronger feeling of distress and confusion here for me. The man appears to have become quite overcome by the weight of what he must decide. We're left to decide for ourselves if he is praying for guidance or is he completely exhausted and collapsed under the pressures of his life. Notice at the top of this card are many softly shaded people, scenes and symbols. These could represent his memories of the past, things he wishes he might do over. They might be nightmares that have left him shattered and unable to move forward.  They might represent emotional torment, pain and betrayal that he's suppressed and now realizes must be dealt with because, clearly as Dr. Phil might say, If you keep doing what you've been doing, you will continue to get the same results and how's that working for you? Apparently not well. 

I think these two cards are especially helpful to understanding the emotional turmoil of the 7 of Cups when studied together. Clearly choices must be made. Trying to do too much or have it all isn't serving anyone's highest good and spreading yourself too thin leaves you with nothing at all but thoughts of what might have been. Woulda Coulda Shoulda.... maybe not such a good way to live. 

The traditional thoughts on the meaning of this card include:wishful thinking, disillusionment, choices to be made, chaos, inner turmoil, not seeing reality clearly, inaction, paralyzation and to that I'd add abdicating your personal power. 

If this is where you find yourself, as many of us often do from time to time, it's time to examine your heart. Listen to the whispers of your soul. It's time to make a choice.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yoda In My Tarot Deck

 There's been plenty of daily drama lately in my life, both personally and professionally. Some people might find that stimulating. Not me. I find it exhausting and overwhelming. It tends to paralyze me and I become mired in the stickiness of it all. My brain goes numb and I pretty much become a zombie on autopilot.  I've been feeling that way for a long time.  

When I'm really entrenched in the ooze, I reach for my tarot cards. Before today I couldn't have said that, but my laser focused daughter pointed this out to me with all the delicacy she could muster. She was right. This is what I do. Always.  And true to form, that's just what I did yesterday. It's been a very long time since I shuffled a deck. But it's like riding a bicycle and my hands remembered what to do even if my brain wasn't fully tuned in yet.

I shuffled the cards with this question in mind: What is causing me to feel stuck in my life? I suppose I shouldn't have been at all surprised that the first card I've drawn for myself in about five years should be the 8 of Swords.  Eight is "my" number. Check.  Swords is about air and action. It's also about what going on in your head; how you use or don't use your intelligence. Swords are also about making decisions. Uh, yeah, check. 

Take a look at the card. What you see is a forlorn woman, eyes covered, arms bound. She's standing in the mud surrounded by swords. Far behind her is the security of home. We can't tell if she's on her own by circumstance or choice, but it doesn't seem to matter. She's trapped and feeling powerless.  

Indecision, confusion and fear are the main messages to me with the Eight of Swords. It's passive, she stands alone, frightened, overwhelmed and surely she's wondering how the heck she got in this situation. Things weren't suppose to be this way. Cut off from everything, there is nothingness.  Does that mean that maybe she's had a hand in either becoming or staying a prisoner? Has the nothingness implied by the sensory deprivation of being blindfolded and bound actually become a comfortable cocoon for her? 

Because she's so absorbed with her thoughts, she's not even noticing that there is a space between the sword where she might escape. Despite the sadness of the Eight of Swords, it's important to remember that there are always choices. She could struggle against the bindings and free herself. Then she could remove the blindfold and see her options....see the possibility of carefully stepping between the swords that are trapping her. It's not easy, but something could be and must be done. 

So what's the answer to my question? What's behind my malaise?  Tarot doesn't always tell a pretty  story, but it's always telling the lesson you most need to hear. It's a pretty big smack in the head... good lord woman, get out of your head! Stop thinking about limitations. Make a decision. Take an action. Any action is better than inaction. 

It's like Yoda says, "Do or Do not. There is no try."