IV – The Emperor (Bran the Blessed) Llewellyn Tarot

May 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm (IV - The Emperor, Llewellyn Tarot, Tarot)

VI - The Emperor (Bran the Blessed) Llewellyn Tarot

The Llewellyn Tarot is based on Welsh mythology, and one fine day I’m going to understand it.  Mind you, I love mythology and want very much to grasp the legends of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Britain….by and large, they involve an awful lot of really hard to pronounce names and killing.  Lots of killing.

So I don’t know all that much about Bran the Blessed.. His name means Raven, which suggests to me that he’s about death (but again….lots of death in Welsh mythology) and protection. Why he’s ‘blessed’ I haven’t got a clue because after a lot of killing and maiming and insult done to his sister, somewhere along the way he got his head cut off, but there you go, no telling what some people find blessed.

Most definitely, though, he was in charge and responsible to protect his people.  He was regarded as a giant, not just metaphorically, but physically and the notion of crossing him was supposed to instill people with fear, and it did.  Even after his head was cut off, it was buried and it was said that the British Isles would be protected as long as it stayed put.  King Arthur supposedly unburied it as a signal that he alone would be England’s protector.

Again… the motives and which what alls are a bit incomprehensible to me, so I don’t want to pretend to be doing much by way of explanation of the background of this version of the Emperor.

Bran is a leader.  Bran protects, he lays down the law, and you mess with him at your own risk – even if he falls, he’s still in charge.

When I think of the Emperor today, I think of much smaller and more important forms of authoritative leadership – certainly, there is plenty here to say about our political leaders, but on a much closer level I think of fathers and the authoritative aspects of parenthood.

I’m going a bit personal here but this is hardly a situation unique to me – I’ve been raising my youngest two daughters without their father’s presence.  I used to hate the term ‘single parent’ because no matter how many parents there are under a roof, every child has TWO PARENTS and a father is responsible to protect the wellbeing of his children – to preserve the stability of the household, whether he lives there with them or not.

And sadly, there are so many fathers who don’t do that that my kids very casually will mention a friend with “…she hasn’t talked to her dad in eight months.  Their not NOT talking, he just doesn’t.  You know, like my dad.” And that isn’t considered unusual – it’s the norm.  There is a generation of fathers who regard a relationship with their child as an option they can dismiss at will.

Get their head chopped off to protect their kin? Please… they wouldn’t even clip their hair for the sake of their kids.

Mind you, not every father is like this – but how sad is it that when you hear of one who stays involved with their children, you marvel and want to pin a gold start on their chest – shouldn’t’ that be the norm?

There is a generation of children being raised entirely by women who have to be the Emperor as well as the Empress.. And we do it, often very well… but the children still lose that sense of safety that comes from knowing that no matter how hard it is, their father will protect them – that they are top priority for someone other than their mother.

I am the mother of girls and I fear what this absence does for their sense of trust in men – what they hope to be able to expect from men.  I worry about what sons of absent fathers learn about how to treat their own future partners and children.

This lack of male parental leadership is having a very negative impact on society at as a whole.  And I don’t mean that some man needs to swoop in and be In Charge… I mean they simply have to stay a part of their children’s lives. Know the boyfriend’s name.  Know which classes your kid likes and why they get sad everytime they see a red bicycle.  Know your children as only a father can and let them trust that even if the whole world hurts them, their father will always be there for them.

To do less than that is to walk away from the best blessing you’ve ever been honored with.  Aha…. that is the blessing of this Emperor.

Here’s a bit of sadness to contemplate – for a large number of children, hunting for a Father’s Day card to send the dad they haven’t seen in months (sometimes living only a couple miles away), standing in the card aisle is a torturous experience, reading card after card that says ‘you’ve always been there for me’ and realizing there is no card there that says “I wish you had wanted to know me.  I would have loved to have loved you. Have a nice life. Hope you’re enjoying that new car that cost triple what you think I’m financial worth for a year.”

I hear stories (often from the woman involved with the guy who isn’t speaking to his kids) about how it’s all the mother’s fault – she makes it hard.  Well, gee – if it were a bear rather than a woman who doesn’t like you anymore keeping you from your children and leaving them to believe you just don’t care, would you find a way around it?  That is an excuse, and to the one standing up for his excuse making, at some level you do know that this is an illustration about what sort of protector he’ll be if it starts to get hard with you as well, right?

🙂 and… this is the thing that cannot be said by a ‘single parent’ trying to fill both sets of shoes – when I display anger at the person I have to emotionally protect my children from instead of counting on him to help protect them from the rest of the world, well that’s just me being bitter, as if it were something I just chose to do.  Maybe, though I work very hard NOT to be bitter and only feel it bubble up when he’s just deliberately made one of my children feel unimportant in order to avoid having to hear their criticism of his absense.

But maybe putting the responsibility anywhere but on his shoulders is just one more way we’re all kicking this generation of Emperors off their rightful throne.  He belongs there, with all the responsibility and respect for taking on that responsibility that entails… he deserves better than to be allowed to be a brat child instead.

🙂 I think I need some Empress energy, so I’m off to go make some soup.

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XI – Strength / Oya (Goddess Tarot)

May 29, 2010 at 1:23 am (Goddess Tarot, Tarot, XI - Strength)

XI - Strength / Oya (Goddess Tarot)

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…” ~Hosea 8:7a

Oya is the Yoruban goddess of the wind, thunderstorms, turbulent weather in general, as well as Death and a few other things – she is a Warrior goddess, a Fire goddess and she shakes things up that need shaking up, and knocking arrogant misuse of power flat on its posterior.

Keying her to the Strength card at first glance made me wonder – she seems more like the Tower.  But after some pondering I get it…first of all, when a storm is shaking down your house, calling on reserves of Strength is a survival skill.  But beyond that – Strength is needed to be the whirlwind – sometimes you have to stand up and draw down divine strength and courage to face down injustice and obstruction – to draw in air and use your voice to passionately blow down obstacles and speak your truth.

It can be a difficult energy to harness – to blow down those that have ‘sown the wind’ without losing control of the unleashed storm and flattening the entire village, but fear of speaking out allows a bad situation to continue without any resistance.  So be brave, be strong, and speak out your truth.  Unleash the whirlwind when it’s called for.

Strength isn’t just about enduring – sometimes it’s about pushing back.

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Ace of Cups (Gilded Tarot)

May 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm (Ace of Cups, Gilded Tarot, Tarot)

Ace of Cups (Gilded Tarot)

The Gilded Tarot Ace of Cups is rich in spiritual symbolism – an ornate golden goblet floats above an ocean that is lit by the sun reflecting across the water.  Above the cup is an eye – the Eye of Providence as the version on the US dollar bill is called, or the Eye of Horus in ancient Egypt.  A trio of rays emanate from the eye in a pyramid shape, filling the cup with divine light, and beyond the cup to suffuse the flowing waters below.

Above the eye are images of the Moon in its various phases, highlighting the connection between the changeable moon and the element of water.

When this card appears in a reading, spiritual and emotional abundance is available as potential energy that can be used if it is accepted – emotions flow freely, love is in the air, and there is sense that the universe is smiling upon you.  Intuitions seem to be heightened and it seems to make sense to follow your emotional hunches.

It’s a little gift that says go ahead and follow your heart – it’s leading you where you are meant to be right now.  What you do with it is up to you, and will determine where it leads, but this is a little blessing to get you started.

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Anxiety – Fenestra, 9 of Swords

May 12, 2010 at 8:16 am (9 of Swords, Fenestra Tarot)

Fenestra Tarot - 9 of Swords

Fenestra Tarot - 9 of Swords

Anxiety…despair… the sort of intense stress that keeps you up all night in dread.  Is there any emotion more difficult to handle?

In the Fenestra deck, we can see a woman in a grey gown girdled with a rope belt (it reminds me of prison garb) sitting on a bench, her head in her hands.  Her feet are tucked underneath her – that is, her feet aren’t on the ground.  Behind her, nine swords are either mounted on the wall as a backdrop or they may actually be racing past her without actually touching her.

The bench where she sits has a decorative wave motif, flowing in the opposite direction from the swords – emotions and thoughts clashing with one another here.

Those are the visuals – the concepts I get are a lack of groundedness, that clash of emotion and thought (leading to that oh-so-lovely anxiety symptom, racing thoughts), a sense of entrapment (the prison garb), and attempts at denial (the covered face).

And it stirs up plenty of memory of late night insomnia, with various stressors overtaking my mind no matter how well I cope when I’m awake.  I’ve experienced it during the end days of my marriage, wondering how I’ll ever manage alone, during health woes – my own and that of various family members, during times of financial uncertainty.

I sometimes think the whole world is collectively experiencing this, and the worst part of this sort of stress is that it stems from a lack of inner peace, and makes it very difficult to get to a place of peace.  The sleep you lose worsens the stress and reduces your ability to cope with it.  It is a very ugly, acutely painful cycle.

When this card shows up,  I think drastic measures are needed – end the cause of the stress, or find a way to deal with it.  Get help.  Anxiety at this level takes a tremendous toll on one’s physical and mental wellbeing, not only in the short term, but later.  Heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic illness… and the irony, I suppose, is that when you’re stuck in the throes of stress, worrying about the impact of the stress just adds to it.

Don’t minimize what you’re experiencing… get help, ask for support, seek out assistance to help fix what’s wrong.  This is a big warning sign, and needs to heard.

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9 of Cups (Deviant Moon)

May 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm (9 of Cups, Deviant Moon Tarot, Tarot)

9 of Cups (Deviant Moon)

The Deviant Moon Tarot is either extremely evocative and whimsical, or flat out disturbing, depending on your preferences… or if you’re like me, it’s whimsically disturbing and great fun to explore.  Intended to reflect the inner landscape of dreams, it is rather like evoking the spirits of the Trickster gods to see what they have to say.

And really, sometimes, a bit of surreal humor is exactly what helps the medicine go down.

The 9 of Cups is often referred to as the “Wish card” and for many readers it is an indicator that the seeker’s wish in the matter will come true.

For me – and this card seems to reflect this well – there is ‘but’ attached to that.  Your wish will come true, BUT… be careful what you wish for.

The image is that of a genii just released from his bottle, to the startlement of the young man who let him out.  That genii is one intimidating figure, and in most genii legends, there is good reason to be afraid and cautious around them.  Pent up geniis – and wishes – tend to be pretty unstable and explosive when first set free.  Often, the story goes, the genii is so angry at being confined, he winds up harming the person who set him free.  But if he doesn’t kill you, he’s yours to ask three wishes of, yes?

Well yes… but you’d better be very very sure of what it is you wish for, and then even more sure of how to phrase that wish so that what you wind up with is what you intend – for that is the way of magic and magical creatures – if you aren’t careful, things will not go at all as you expect, but exactly as you express.  Mindfulness is critical here.

And geniis, well they do love a good joke, which is why they tend to get locked up in tightly corked bottles in the first place – expecting your wishes to be ‘granted’ is just asking for a big spiritual practical joke.  Maybe a better option is to put as much care into finding words for your wishes and dreams as you would if there really were a genii to make it happen – and then use that expressed intention to go after it yourself, instead of expending all your emotional energy on hoping some magical being will just hand it off to you without any effort on your part.

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VI – The Lovers (Aquarian Tarot)

April 28, 2010 at 10:31 am (Aquarian Tarot, Tarot, VI - The Lovers)

VI - The Lovers (Aquarian Tarot)

The Aquarian Tarot, with its iconic 1970s imagery, presents an odd version of The Lovers card – or at least it looks odd to me today.

The couple are both heavily dressed, no skin at all showing other than their faces – hair and fabric flow about them in a protective, armored way.

And yet, the image feels stifling, enclosed… either protective or suffocating (I’m not quite sure which).  The male figure occupies the center of the card, and the female seems to be pressed against the border, hemmed in by his presence.  It is both intimate and (again, at least to me, today) a bit intimidating.

Generally, the Lovers card has to do not only with relationships, but with choice – the choice to act as one within a relationship, or for one’s own purposes.  In this image, the choice on his part seems to be made, and I get the idea that he’s making her choice for her as well.

Odd vibe, maybe stemming from being in an odd mood, but I find this card much more intriguing and unsettling than most Lover’s cards do.

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VII – Desire (The Chariot) Lover’s Path Tarot

April 19, 2010 at 7:43 pm (Tarot, The Lover's Path Tarot, VII - The Chariot)

VII - Desire (The Chariot) Lovers Path Tarot

The Lover’s Path Tarot is one of two by Kris Waldherr that I enjoy working with (the other is the Goddess Tarot).  In the Lover’s Path, each card of the Major Arcana is keyed to a particular legendary romantic pairing, while each suit of the Minor Arcana expands on one specific legend’s storyline.

The Major Arcana VII – usually titled The Chariot is, in this deck “Desire”.  That really isn’t a huge leap – the Chariot is about what drives us and motivates (that is, moves) us toward our desired goals.  There is often a tension between competing goals and a need to stay focused on our desired result in order to stay on our path.

See… there’s that word. Desire.  To get what you want, you have to want it badly enough to do what needs doing to get there. That means letting go of attachment to things that don’t serve attainment of the goal.  It means being willing to stay on the path even when it becomes nothing but potholes.  To the truly single-minded, it can mean running over a few random pedestrians along the way, but that’s a trap because heading to jail (metaphysically speaking) is a sure way to never get to the finish line.

But there is still that tension… everytime we are driven by desire to get something or get somewhere, we have to at least be willing to sacrifice the desires of those around us to get it because it is a very rare thing when everyone’s goals line up.

Tristan and Isolde is a very old legend, predating the Arthurian legends and eventually added to them, which was popularized as a chivalric story of a grand love affair that propelled a woman toward the man she loved even though she was already married to another.

It is a story that continues to play out every day, repeatedly.  Certainly, there are ethical and moral concerns that each person needs to grapple with – and remember, serious consequences for running over other people without concern.  But there is a myth people tell themselves that Tristan and Isolde can help dispel – that it is even possible to chase your dreams when they mean breaking an existing commitment without causing pain.  People will hang onto a marriage and a lover sometimes for years to ‘avoid causing hurt’ and in the process deeply wounding everyone involved.  “I don’t want to hurt anyone” is sometimes, deep down, code for “I don’t want to have to notice the roadkill I’m creating”

Suck it up and be honest with yourself and those around you about what it is you want, and then get on that path. Anything less than that makes you the pothole.

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Queen of Cups (Golden Tarot)

April 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm (Golden Tarot, Queen of Cups, Tarot)

Queen of Cups (Golden Tarot)

This is from the absolutely gorgeous Golden Tarot, which is not only beautiful to look at, but a true pleasure to handle, with cards that feel like silk to me and come stored in an upright box I wish were standard for Tarot decks.  The cards have gold gilt edges that make me a bit leery about wear and tear when I shuffle them, but they’re so interesting to read with that I try not to worry about that overmuch.

This Queen of Cups is shown in lush golds and reds, seated at a table in front of a red and gold tapestry.  She is blonde, crowned, and wears a golden dress, though a hint of red sleeve can be seen at her wrists – it is modest yet rich and suggests a sensuality hiding underneath the garment that doesn’t have to be displayed openly.  In her hands are a red covered book and a quill pen that I imagine is her diary, recording her experiences through the filter of her emotions.

Before her on the table is a basket containing a pair of white doves, speaking to her desire for peace and love, a scorpian – she is associated with Scorpio, a golden goblet and a glass pitcher of water – water is emotional and spiritual, and she does display that openly, and shares it freely.

Queens, for me, are the nurturers and caretakers of their element – and this Queen sustains herself by her emotional experiences. She follows her heart, and will freely share with you just how much she feels for you and for everything that happens to her.   She sees the best of all possible experiences to be those that bring hearts together, as with the doves, and she will play peacemaker when she is able – but it’s important to remember that scorpian sting when she feels threatened, and to understand that thinking, for her, IS based on her reading of how she feels and what she instinctively knows, and not just logical analysis.

One thing that has come to be clear to me over years of working with tarot is that this Queen can be a real grudge holder… as the nurturer of emotion, she hangs onto feelings and protects them, and that includes nursing bad feelings as well as good ones.  That diary of hers is not an objective accounting of what happened, but a record of how what happened made her feel, and she is recording it so that she never forgets – in replaying old events, she re-feels the emotions surrounding them.

She’s the one who still pines for the man she hasn’t seen in a decade.. .and she’s also the one still not speaking to you because you cut the hair off her Barbie when you were both six.

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7 of Pentacles (Housewives Tarot)

March 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm (7 of Coins, Housewives Tarot, Tarot)

7 of Pentacles (Housewives Tarot)

One of my favorite decks when I am in need of a smile – the Housewives Tarot serves up its wisdom with a wink and gracious bit of hospitality.  Modeled after old magazine images from the Donna Reed era of America (or at least, the fantasy of it we all imagine existed), this deck is a joy to work with and prone to some pretty biting observations.

The 7 of Pentacles (Coins) show a woman tending her garden – she has a basket of flowers she’s picked and a hose to water it all, and she is looking with pride and pleasure at a tree bearing seven brightly colored pentacles.

It’s worth noting that they are the fruit of a tree and not one of the flowers – she didn’t plant these a few weeks ago or even last season – for this tree to bear fruit it was planted years ago and has been tended and cared for ever since.  And while it is clearly nearing time to harvest the fruit, she isn’t doing so yet.. Pick the flowers while you may, but leave the fruit until it is fully ripe or it will be at best tasteless and hard, and at worst bitter and completely unusable.

The 7 of Pentacles is about patience, and knowing how to tend to what’s necessary while waiting for the right time to reap the reward – no jumping the gun or trying to hurry things along here – the time spent waiting is part of the necessary process that allows the fruit to ripen to its fullest juicy sweetness.  And in the meantime, there are plenty of flowers to offer their shorter term pleasures.

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4 of Coins (Nigel Jackson Tarot)

March 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm (4 of Coins, Nigel Jackson Tarot, Tarot)

4 of Coins (Nigel Jackson Tarot)The 4 of Coins and I have a sort of love hate relationship, where love = eh and hate = curses, foul beast!  In the typical RWS style deck, it shows a miser hanging onto his money for dear life, or some other image that could be interpreted as grasping, miserly greed.

But there is a flip side to it – the concept of conservation of resource, of protecting what we have from wasteful expenditure.  Sure… every miser thinks that’s what they’re doing – avoiding waste, so there is certainly a need for balance between a failure to use resources appropriately, and indiscriminate waste of them.

The Nigel Jackson Tarot depicts this version of the 4 of Coins well, I think.  The image is that of a fortress on a cliff – strong sturdy walls to protect the inhabitants from marauders, a location with a far reaching vision to enable one to see what’s coming and prepare for it, and the four coins are in a stable square pattern reminding me of the need for stability of resources.

It doesn’t say don’t use what you have – it says use what you have in the most efficient way possible to maximize its worth.  The miserly notion some other variations depict demonstrate a false idea of worth – inflating the worth of what you have as idols and fetishes, rather than in understanding that the value is in what you can do with what you have.

I was a child of the 60s and adolescent of the 70s and ‘conservation’ was about saving water, saving the whales, learning that ‘ecology’ means that we are all connected, like it or not, and everything we use impacts us and everyone around us.  So mindfulness…being aware of how you use your resources, and what the longreaching impact is is very tied up with what this card is all about.

Doesn’t mean stick your money under the bed.  But it may mean that if you drive a gas guzzler and don’t bother to turn off your lights when you leave a room, you’re not only tossing your money out the window, you’re expending resources in a way that have a serious impact on many people and creatures who are connected to you by invisible threads.

Use.

Don’t waste.

Don’t hoard for no purpose other than to be the person with the most stuff.

Set aside something for emergencies and try to be attentive to avoid emergencies where possible.

That’s the short advice of this card that is all about a stable relatinship to money and things.

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