Over twenty years ago, when I began my relationship with Tarot I was-- understandably and willingly-- seduced by the Major Arcana card series. Literally the “Big Secrets”, this run of twenty-two cards take us sequentially through an archetypal marathon journey. Each card individually is a powerful archetype, a transpersonal yet keenly personal bundle of BIG. The Death card, Fool card, Lovers card.
There are epochs in our lives that are “Major Arcana” from top to bottom. The rising themes are powerful, transformative, ground-shaking, Some folks are Major Arcana magnets! And of course there are those cards that have a kinship and affinity for our unique soul-stories: the client who says dreamily, oh I always pick that card! (Yes, I know you do.)
Though the Majors have the juice to stand alone and blow your mind, your ego, your sense of security, your broken thinking, your downtrodden belief that there is nothing/no one /no place for you-- the Minors weave the web fully, showing us the when, the where, the how that bridges the pure, raw magic of the Majors into our-plain-old-days.
(Cue the cheerleading for the wisdom and beauty of these humble allies. Go!)
The Minor Arcana series is divided into four suits which correspond to four elements: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The elemental symbology on the cards differs depending on the tradition and deck you are using as your lens. Air could be swords or arrows. Fire symbology could be wands, staves, batons, bows. Water is represented as cups, vessels, bowls. Earth would be pentacles, coins, disks, rings, stones. each suit has ten numbered cards (as well as a court of four noble members...post for another day).
Integrating the message of a reading depends on these helpers. They lack the Bling of the Majors but do not underestimate them-- or you undervalue the small, precious moments that comprise our lives. These cards chronicle the fulfilled heart-spring of friendship (Three of Cups), the slow and steady diligence of skill acquired (Eight of Pentacles), the sting of jealousy and the mental torment it brings (Three of Swords).
My degree in Victorian Literature(truly from another epoch in my life) wants you to know that while the Majors are the jaw dropping plot device (damn, it was the doppelganger), the exclamation point, the wrist peeking out from the glove-- the Minors are the gracefully placed comma, the brilliant semi-colon, the quiet as you close the pages of the book and it all falls into place. Oh, dear Minor Arcana your “little secrets” are revealed as we wash dishes. How I once wronged you!
Alchemy of two polarities creating a sacred third entity; the relationship.
Magnetized and harmonised, imbued with passion, energy rises, and spirit is made manifest. This “ third thing” can be a child conceived, an idea articulated, an intangible magic sounding like a drumbeat. It can be the humbling enactment of Karma. Beyond gender identity, masculine and feminine dance in their unique mix and that energetic signature’s polarity makes an audible click.
Slam: those magnets collided, didn’t they? The something buzzing in Self and Other created that third thing.
Yes, we can say there is no “other”. We can reside (or endeavor to reside) in the Cosmic Consciousness where the Beloved is boundless and expressed in our every word and deed.
That Beloved literally hovers above the heads of the lucky couple in many interpretations of the Lovers card.
How can we approach this card with reverent curiosity, sovereignty but with the willingness to have our ass kicked and the doors of our heart blown wide open?
Because that’s how we will approach Love itself. Game On.
A different life: my days as a children’s librarian. After sounding the Tibetan singing bowl to attract my wild tribe of toddlers and pre-schoolers to library Storytime corner , we get to sing and dance. Also delivered: a lesson in magic and rhythm.
Voice raised I start. “Little Sally Walker/ Sittin’ in her saucer/ Rise Sally, rise/ Wipe your weepin’ eyes/ Put your hand on your hip/ And letcha back-bone slip!/ Shake it to the East/Shake it to the West/ Shake it to the one/ That you love the best!”
Candidly, yes this song includes a hip bump and what could be categorized and a grind but it does not include my favorite burlesque move the tick-tock/pendulum. Maya Angelou sang this one on Sesame Street so it is Pure Magic.
This song shows you where you Are. This song shows you where your friend Is. This song orients you in a world where within any group of people: there is one that you love the best. This song puts you on the Wheel, ever turning.
The Seven Directions are: East, South, West, North, Above, Below, and Within. When I first began my relationship with Earth Medicine these directions were quietly, unassumingly, at the heart of my practice. Now, they are the heartbeat of my beating heart. Each and every moment of our lives, we are suspended within their wisdom in a micro and macro way.
They are a never ending cycle of conception, growth, expression, fruition, fading back, dying and composting. This is Wheel of the Year, the seasons we see in the natural world that play out in a twelve month cycle.. but arguably these Seven Directions play out on their own sweet timeline within our conversations, artistic creations, our relationships. I might tell a friend, “You’re in the West, babe. Just be there.” or while working on a painting hands covered in copper and teal acrylics blaring Missy Elliot I am in the South, the blessed blessed South. Let it last, Mama, I pray.
Quick look at these seven clever players:
East : Power of air. Initiation, new beginnings, conception of ideas, the first fresh and light step of the journey. Deep breath.
South: Power of fire: Energy, passion, willpower, soul’s creative expression, cranking it out in the sunshine.
West: Power of water. Breakdown, meltdown, wash out. Emotions flow, shadows are cast. Time of reckoning. Must traverse the West before you can go North. Easy to get stuck or have an extended visit here.
North: Power of earth: Ahhh. Place of the ancestors where we lay down burden, integrate the lessons , and be still and silent.
Above: Wisdom of Star Nation, cosmos.
Below: Ancestor wisdom, drawing the Mystery up from the roots.
Within: You ‘ve got it allll in there.
Where do you stand on this map? Where have you just come from? How can I guide you?
Let’s walk together.
While we are still working a bit more Snake Medicine, let’s talk Medusa.
Medusa was an initiate of the goddess Pallas Athene She was a temple virgin, beautiful, kind, dedicated, of service. In that place of sanctuary she was violated, defiled by Poseidon. Instead of punishing the aggressor and standing in honor of her devotee-- Pallas Athene turned on Medusa and cursed her for tainting temple grounds. (Remember Pallas Athene is a virgin goddess, Warrior Queen, birthed of Zeus's body, no earthly mama for her. Playing by the boys’ rules.)
Medusa’s curse was transformation to a serpent crowned monster whose stare could turn men to stone. Pallas sought to isolate Medusa, to denigrate and deny her worth.
The Fixed Star Algol (the Eye of the Gorgon, Medusa's Eye) is placed at 26 degrees Taurus. A blinking, binary star it boasts a serpentine shedding of skin, light to dark, dark to light. Yes, the word alcohol does derive from this sparkler.The star itself has been demonized but a closer examination (apropos with that stony stare) reveals a nuanced power.
People with Algol placements initiate shadow-play. They can act as a mirror for those projecting their submerged shadows. Taboo, mind-blowing knowledge (comes with headaches!), rides edge between life and death, sexuality as vehicle to divinity (not in an abstracted “white light” zone, considerably more earthy).
My Rising Star/Ascendant is this very star. Don’t let’ s get in a staring contest, hmm?
The way this translates to my Service to you? Willingness to meet you eye to eye and remain steady as you take a spin through Shadow. Medusa’s gaze is the mirror of Truth showing you What Is. Sometimes that hurts. But then instead of turning to standing stone, trapped in isolation and terror: we can turn you to diamond or onyx or lapis or a deep garnet. We can pull out together (with infinite Love) That Which Is.
Finally, the rain we so desperately needed fell in Vermont (and fell and fell). Gratitude to the Sky Nation. Walking in the park the smell, the sound was one of delight. Color coming into leaves, layers fallen to the moss covered stone. Now we are ready as a family, plant and animal, to enter Autumn together. Phew!
Working with Snake pre-shedding means grief.
Moved to share this reflection on Martin Prechtel’s newest work …. The Smell of Rain on Dust. (This excerpt found at kzyx.org)
“Inspiring hope, solace, and courage in living through our losses, author Martín Prechtel, trained in the Tzutujil Maya shamanic tradition, shares profound insights on the relationship between grief and praise— how the inability that many of us have to grieve and weep properly for the dead is deeply linked with the inability to give praise for living.
In modern society, grief is something that we usually experience in private, alone, and without the support of a community. Yet, as Prechtel says, “Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”
Prechtel explains that the unexpressed grief prevalent in our society today is the reason for many of the social, cultural, and individual maladies that we are currently experiencing. According to Prechtel, “When you have two centuries of people who have not properly grieved the things that they have lost, the grief shows up as ghosts that inhabit their grandchildren.” These “ghosts,” he says, can also manifest as disease in the form of tumors, which the Maya refer to as “solidified tears,” or in the form of behavioral issues and depression. He goes on to show how this collected unexpressed energy is the long-held grief of our ancestors manifesting itself, illuminates the work that can be done to liberate this energy so we can heal from the trauma of loss, war, and suffering. At base, this “little book,” as the author calls it, can be seen as a companion of encouragement, a little extra light for those deep and noble parts that inhabit us all.”
Ritualizing our grief and expressing it in a way that affirms the life-death-life cycle, in a way that captures an artistry, what Prechtel refers to as an “eloquence” brings healing to all creation.
Which brings me to this Fine Lady: Mayan goddess, COATLICUE.
One of my spirit practices is devotional orgasm. RIsing energy generated during orgasm (everything up to and including climax) is sent out to its selected destination. Possibilities here are limitless but over the last few years one “repeat customer” (let’s call her!) has been Coatlicue…. Each time she presented herself in meditation, I agreed. Times when I thought I was ready to send out to Shakti or Buffalo Woman or that ratty parking lot downtown or to injustice or any number of other worthwhile recipients-- there she was. And those snakes!
I suspect she’ll be coming around this way soon, the turn to Autumn, the realization of the last layers of skin to be shed.
How can you express your grief with artistry, eloquence, gritty and holy?
(You have my permission to copycat my method.)