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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Excalibur Spread with The Arthurian Tarot

Recently I was looking through The Arthurian Tarot Hallowquest Handbook by Caitlin and John Matthews (The Aquarian Press), and noticed (not for the first time) that there are several really neat spreads in the back of the book. One of my favorites is the Excalibur Spread, which looks like this:

The meanings of the positions are:
1. Who I once was.
2. The lessons I learned in that incarnation.
3. The lessons which I failed to learn.
4. Who I am in this incarnation.
5. The things I find easy.
6. The things I find difficult to accept.
7. Recurrent problems.
8. The best method of confronting them.
9. This life’s challenging lessons.

For this reading I am using (what else?) The Arthurian Tarot, with cards illustrated by Miranda Gray. Here we go…

1. Who I once was. 

STONE QUEEN: The Queen of the Chessboard Castle; Queen Igraine, Arthur’s Mother

As a Queen, I channeled the energies of the Stone Hallow (element of Earth). Stable and dedicated, noble and practical, I understood the relationship between all life and the land. It was my purpose and pleasure to impart a sense of nurture and security to all I encountered. My gwyddbwyl board represented the land itself. The blackbird was my totem and companion.

2. The lessons I learned in that incarnation.


In that incarnation, I learned to make and to shape, to use practical skills and creative instinct to bring together ideas and skills in organized pursuit of a goal. I worked with craftsmen and magicians alike in this pursuit, and reaped much honor and many rewards.

3. The lessons which I failed to learn. 


Alas, in that incarnation, I failed to learn the true strengths and weaknesses of the Spear Hallow (element of Fire). In spite of my innate stability and practicality (Stone Queen), I made hasty decisions and behaved impetuously, at times displaying a hot temper, expending valuable energy and enthusiasm on risky or false quests that took me farther from my goals.

4. Who I am in this incarnation. 


In this incarnation, I have retained my connections to the Stone Hallow, sworn to uphold it, but instead of being its Queen, I am a Maiden, a student of the mysteries of Earth. A raven has replaced the blackbird as my totem and companion. Like all Maidens, I am here to open new paths on the Hallowquest.

5. The things I find easy.


Unfortunately, I find it easy to dwell on sorrows, disappointments, loss, and “broken bridges”  – analyzing, over-analyzing, and brooding as if somehow that activity will eventually lead to relief or escape from the mental ordeal. This is especially easy at around 3:00 in the morning, if I happen to be awake at that hour for a “call of nature.” I find it easy to vacillate back and forth between blaming and justifying my past feelings, choices, and actions -- although these days, I do seem to be able to put a stop to it by simply saying, within my own mind, “Shut up.”

6. The things I find difficult to accept. 


I find it difficult to accept that I need to do more to replenish my spirit, whether it be meditation or retreat of some kind. I need to reassess my “powers and limitations” in quiet seclusion. I find it difficult to accept that it might be possible to  “sink deeply into the peace of the spirit and wake refreshed for the quest.” Call me a skeptic.

7. Recurrent problems. 


Recurrent problems exist in the physical, material world, a realm that includes possessions, finances, health, and security. This refers to something I may be “hoarding” in some way, reluctant to share for fear that I will be left with nothing.

8. The best method of confronting them. 

THE GREEN KNIGHT (Key 15 – The Devil)

The best method of confronting those problems is to overcome any ignorance, self-limitation, and inflexibility that could be creating an obstacle for me. My own fears of what *might* or *could* happen are part of the problem.

9. This life’s challenging lessons.

PRYDWEN (Key 7 – The Chariot)

In this image, Arthur’s ship, Prydwen, sails into the entrance of the Underworld. The challenging lesson in this life is to learn that I can achieve victory and attain goals through self-confidence, self-discipline, and determination. I am indeed the “captain of my ship,” with abilities I can harness towards a purpose, even in the face of tests and trials. The challenging lesson is to learn not to give up or to let fear of failure put a stop to my progress even before it has begun.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Cardinal Spread - Imperial Dragon Oracle

Today’s spread is provided in the guidebook for the gorgeous Imperial Dragon Oracle deck by Andy Baggott & Peter Pracownik (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

The 22 cards in this oracle deck correspond to the 22 Major Arcana cards of the Tarot.

Here is the layout for The Cardinal Spread:

Card 1: Where the root of the issue lies

THE DESTROYER (16) – Mars / The Tower / Breakthrough

Fiery Mars energy is clearly represented on this card in the form of a fire-breathing dragon. The root of this issue lies at a major breakthrough or catastrophe, a period of great instability filled with unexpected events. The energy here is “the movement from material to spiritual.” This “tower moment” could be something from the past or something happening right now (even if I haven’t noticed it yet?). If it was in the past, repercussions are still being felt at some levels, like aftershocks from an earthquake.

Card 2: Your guide in this issue

THE WOUNDED DRAGON (12) – Neptune / The Hanged Man / Peace

Andy Baggott does not see this card as symbolizing suffering but rather a catalyst to release us from old patterns in order to raise spiritual awareness. That transitional energy is perfect as a guide during an upheaval such as the one represented by Card 1. It is interesting that this is card 12 in the deck, linked with the planet Neptune, which rules the 12th House – House of Sorrows and Self-Undoing -- in Astrology. Very nice tie-in. To get through a major breakthrough, it is often necessary to let go of a self-defeating mindset, perception, or way of looking at things.

Card 3: What you need to learn from this issue

LOVE (6) – Mercury, Gemini / The Lovers / Acceptance

I need to learn how to open my heart and connect with unconditional love. This could apply to relationships with other people or to my relationship with myself. Ultimately, if possible, I need to choose to accept myself and accept that everything in my past needed to happen, even if I do not know why. Events that seem negative may actually contribute to an overall positive outcome.

Card 4: Obstacles or challenges you need to be aware of

WISDOM (2) – Moon / The High Priestess / Wisdom

This card represents “obstacles or challenges,” which leads me to consider the opposite of wisdom: superficial thinking and short-sightedness. A tendency towards selfishness or the opposing extreme – ignoring self to please others – may block or delay what I hope to gain.

Card 5: The potential future if lessons are learned and obstacles are overcome

THE MAGUS (1) – Mercury / Creativity

Well, this is a very nice “potential future,” indeed. The tools at the disposal of this Magus are: “the sword of truth that connects you to your higher self” and “the cup of creativity.” The symbol of the pentacle on the chalice represents Earth. I don’t see an obvious “Fire” symbol here, but the dragon is certainly a fiery red and the dark sky behind him is full of flame-colored light. The point, as with most Magician cards, is that I by drawing down spiritual energy, have all the resources I need to create the reality I desire. This depends, of course, on my willingness and ability to learn the lessons and overcome the obstacles presented earlier in the reading.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Animal Tarot Time: The Magician

For this series, I am exploring the choices of animals made by various deck creators to correspond to traditional Tarot cards. My initial goal is to get through the Major Arcana using cards from seven different decks:

  • Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
  • The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeze Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
  • The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
  • The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
  • The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
  • The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
  • Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)

To read my post about The Fool, click HERE

Now let’s look at how The Magician is portrayed in these seven decks.

Animal Tarot Cards (Virtue, Valentine, Hay House)

UNICORN (“There is magic in the air! You can manifest everything you need to be successful.”) -- A great choice for this card, in my opinion. The unicorn is a magical creature, held sacred by people since ancient times. As The Magician, the unicorn encourages us to see ourselves as being above what is normal and “regular,” able to direct and channel the energies we need or desire to use to accomplish whatever we wish. The art does not incorporate the “Cup, Wand, Pentacle, and Sword” symbolism used in traditional versions of The Magician, but the unicorn does have that marvelous horn that can serve as a magic wand.

The Animal Totem Tarot (Robertson, Smith, Llewellyn)

FOX – Robertson draws a comparison here between the fox, who knows how to find food, even though it cannot be seen beneath the winter snow, and The Magician, who also knows “there is more available to them from the world they live in than what the physical eye can see.” The art depicts a fox mid-air above the four elemental symbols. This fox, Robertson tells us, has sensed a food source that can’t be seen and is leaping up to pounce on it. It seems like this is a bit like using “The Force” in Star Wars.

The Animal Wisdom Tarot (Brunke, Liola, CICO)

RAVEN (“Messenger of Magic”) – Brunke offers “Transformation, Creation, Illumination, Conscious Magic” as Keynotes for this card. The message she assigns to the card is “Feel, trust, and use the force within you.” (See my Star Wars comment above.) The art shows a raven with “one wing swept upward to Spirit, one lowered to Earth,” the traditional pose of The Magician. The four elements are represented by a Shell, Branch, Fossil, and Feather. Ravens are known as highly communicative birds, making them a great choice to act as a channel to divine wisdom (“As above, so below.”)

The Animal-Wise Tarot (Andrews, Dragonhawk)

FOX (“Blessings and Magic Afoot”) – We now come to Ted Andrews, whose Animal-Wise Tarot names the Fox as The Magician. Andrews views the fox as a creature “revered at some time by every society in which it was found.” In a slight twist to the idea of a fox being aware of things that can’t be seen, the Animal-Wise fox offers “quiet invisibility,” the art of camouflage, the better to see and hear things we might otherwise miss. Heightened senses (including psychic senses) are an important part of this Magician card as well. 

The Animals Divine Tarot (Hunt, Llewellyn)

CERRIDWEN (creativity, learning magic, directing energies) – Rather than a single animal, Lisa Hunt chooses the ancient fertility goddess Cerridwen. The art shows the goddess surrounded by a fox (cunning), a deer (rejuvenation), and a boar (fertility, strength, magic). The “animal” aspect comes into play further when we read the story of Cerridwen (in the shape of a greyhound, then an otter, then a hawk) chasing Gwion Bach (in the shape of a first a hare, then a fish, then a bird). The moral of the story is about the value and dangers of gaining knowledge and the significance of how that knowledge is used. Cerridwen holds a wand on this card, but we do not see the other elements or symbols that traditionally appear on The Magician.

The Animism Tarot (Cheung)

COYOTE (skill, cunning, power, instinct, transformation, action) – Although I would not recognize the creature on this card as a coyote, that is indeed what it is meant to be. The usual ‘trickster-Magician” analogy applies. Look closely and you will see the four elements represented by a huge pentacle beneath the coyote’s feet, fires flickering around him, water running alongside him, and a “powerful wind” that “flows and fills him with renewed energy.”

Tarot of the Animal Lords (Giannini, Lo Scarabeo)

FOX – Last but not least, Tarot of the Animal Lords gives us a Fox for our Magician. Characteristics listed in the guidebook: “shrewdness, will to succeed, lack of prejudice; errors, lies.” Giannini does not give us the traditional tools (elements) of The Magician. Instead, Mr. Fox performs a familiar magic act using two cups and a marble. A bird and a mouse observe.

The tally shows The Magician represented by:

  • Unicorn (1)
  • Fox (3)
  • Raven (1)
  • Cerridwen (1)
  • Coyote (1)

While I do lean towards the Fox as my favorite, I also like the Raven and Unicorn quite a lot. Which one works best for you?