Fallow land

It’s been a while since I wrote anything in the blog, but I hadn’t forgotten it. It’s been a mixture of too many things going on in real life and a severe case of writer’s block, so I have been putting off writing a new entry for too long. I suppose I have left the mundane took over and, like my beautiful maple, I’ve lost the glossy red for the utilitarian green.

All this stems from my chronic lack of organisation and too many time-suckers (mobile-phone anyone?); these addictions are something I’d like to tackle seriously because they prevent me from accomplishing things. During this off the grid time, I decided to stop complaining about everything I don’t like and taking steps to change them; and if so far no measurable results have taken place, I’m at least happier and I’ve managed to keep the blues away.

It doesn’t help that I haven’t picked up the Tarot cards since; I don’t have any decent excuses to account for that either. To be honest, I did some practice with the Lenormand oracle with disappointing results. I was doing a reading using the “no-layout” method recommended by Sylvie Steinbach: you look for the most appropriate card for the query in the deck and read the cards before and after it. In this case, the query was about work and, after the querent shuffled the cards, the Fox turned up last. No more cards after it.

Would that be because the querent was going to lose his job? I didn’t think so at the time, but his team was restructured the day after the reading and his position was (and still is) somehow in the air. If anyone has a theory on that, please do share!

I’ll be talking about addictions and our dark places next.

So small steps, folks. Like that ivy.

Tree by the Avon.
Tree by the Avon.

The Secret Dakini Oracle – review and musings on how to create your own oracle

Dancing Durga
Dancing Durga

I recently purchased The Secret Dakini Oracle, the book and the cards. Being honest, I didn’t know a lot about dakinis or Durga, whose fierce image appears on the cover, but I felt somehow intrigued by it, so I went ahead, made a bid and crossed my fingers hoping I’d be lucky enough to win it. You know how this ended up, don’t you? 😉 After all, I chose the name of this blog because No 28 “Cosmic Carrot” made me laugh the first time I heard about it.

This copy was originally released in 1977. The cards were printed by AGMueller. I wasn’t familiar with this card maker as my all decks have been from other makers so far, I must say that they are of outstanding quality more than 30 years on. This copy hadn’t been used much by their previous owner, fact that explains their mint condition. They have really vivid  colours and a lovely satin feel. I’m afraid I’m going to give them a worse life that they had before; I plan to use them for meditation and self-guidance quite often!

I was expecting that they were going to portray fierce goddesses or even abstract symbols of the many sides of femininity, but what I got was completely different. I was a bit disappointed to be honest at the beginning.

The artwork consist on collages of different things: the head of a snake between two mirror apples, a dark unicorn resting on a tree, Lord Ganesh on a throne made of jeweled spider webs… This technique seems to have been the flavour du jour during the 70’s, but somehow it doesn’t make the deck feel dated in the slightest. I found these whimsical and sometimes random mixture of pictures quite inspiring.

In fact, making collages has been used by artists in order to nurture their creativity or as a release of their inner demons. A very dear friend of mine, who was following The Artist’s Way method and got a bit bored with the Morning Pages, decided to create one of them a day during several months and she reported that revisiting her earlier work did wonders to kick-start her creativity when it was flagging. Let’s not forget that tarot readers and artists are closer that it’s usually assumed, we both think in images.

Example using the Celtic Cross
Example using the Celtic Cross

I did a reading for the husband, who had never had a reading done and surprisingly volunteered as guinea pig for the experiment**, and I wasn’t following the descriptions on the book to deliver the reading but they were surprisingly spot on. In fact, he said that I was just making things up as I went along, so I ended up handing over the book to him so he could read how the author had described each card. You can see what was going on in his life on the picture! I won’t go into depths apart from the fact that they provided a pretty accurate description of the question while also delivering a profound spiritual message.

They are 64 cards in total, the  first 22 follow more or less the Major Arcana and the rest are inspired by the elements of the Minor Arcana: fire, water, earth and air. And it made me think that I may create my own oracle one day: like a magpie, taking inspiration on different things.

My first card would be “Important message” and it would be from that scene in the Bible where king Belshazzar is having a banquet and a mysterious hands writes on the wall: “MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN” There you go, Rembrandt had thought of it before me. The passage in Dan 5:6, in case anyone is interested.

As always, plenty of information about dakinis in wikipedia. Although a visit to your local library to pick up a couple of books on Tibetan buddhism would be great as well. That’s my plan for tomorrow, anyway!

*A quite interesting link on collage, art, copyright and fair usage : What is fair use?

**I think the delightful Milky Way picture on the back of the cards won him over, these science-loving guys, huh?

6 of cups – Calm after the storm or hidden pain

Barbara Walker, Balbi, Marseille Anyone familiar with the Rider Waite deck would remember the image of the 6 of cups of a kid surrounded by cups in an amenable garden. Apologies as I no longer have one, so I can’t include it in the picture. I used the Rider Waite when I first started wandering in the mysteries of the Tarot; OK, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t that mysterious because I also bought a book by Hajo Banzhaf that was completely foolproof. It was only a spread and in each page, it explained the meaning of each card in every position. Very handy for when you don’t know what you are doing! I still think that the Rider Waite is a brilliant deck for beginners and more experienced readers but I must admit that I grew a bit tired of it.  I passed my deck on to a room-mate and moved on. I digress, this is a tale for another day 😀

Going back to the meaning, the usual explanations for this card: longing for the good old days, being stuck in the past. The 6’s normally mean the calm after the storm, represented by the strife that 5’s bring; they are numbers of balance and equilibrium. As this card belongs to the Water suit, it also can be about family, close relationships. It is a card that symbolizes the giver.

However, if you look at Barbara Walker’s card, a naked figure (a kid, an adult.. it’s left deliberately unclear) is sat on the floor and before him, a giant woman, a Goddess stands, overlooking the scene sternly. The low angle makes her look even more imposing and fearsome.

Barbara Walker, Balbi, Marseille

For me, whenever this card appears in a spread, it means someone whose heart still dwells in the past, someone who hasn’t digested yet the lessons from the old days (good or not so much). I would also add that we are reading or asking for a man, he may have self-steem problems, specially in close relationships with women, let these be love or work affairs. The pain from the past is still very much present, although he cannot be aware of it consciously. So, be careful of what you say if this card turns up in the spread; drop some hints, use metaphors… This is a painful truth, so be sensitive!

On a more positive note, I also see that this card harbours the hope that, as and when the consultant is ready to acknowledge this issue within her/himself, they will be able to raise over the chains of the past and speak their truth.

Next time: 5 of swords and how much you should tell the consultant when the cards aren’t pretty!

Notes: The book I was talking about before is:  The Tarot Handbook – Hajo Banzhaf.* I was trying to insert a link from Alibris to it, but wordpress is malevolently dismissing my plea. I’m learning the ropes of this malarkey, so please bear with me. From this low point, one can only improve! Adding links is a walk in the park, my friends!!

*You probably can find it in that humongous world-dominating bazaar named after a rainforest or in the no less famous “Bid-Buy Now” site, those places are big enough to need any more publicity. But Alibris supports independent bookshops, which are one of this life’s most underrated pleasures. I want those guys in business! That’s where I buy mine, even more so because this week my favourite bookshop (Bloom & Curl in Bristol) is on holiday.