Monday, January 24, 2011


I'm back!

Coming down from a little culture/re-entry shock. I had a wonderful time with my aunt and grandmother, I was so ecstatic to see my kids, and I got to see the new project at San Rafael! It was just so fantastic.

It was also hard to be there because I wasn't going to stay. I miss my kids, and to see them be so much older and to not have been there to see it makes me a little sad. I am so excited, so indescribably excited to see them growing and changing, and developing and meeting goals. I just always have this part of me that wishes I was still a part of it. And that little part stings more because I was there again.

Returning home also gives me a round peg, square hole feeling for a while. It's strangely ironic that I can navigate anywhere, anywhere, any other country but the United States. I have never been lost in Madrid. I can always find my way in Antigua. Toronto didn't faze me. I even managed to navigate the twists and turns of Toledo. But drop me in Minnesota? I couldn't navigate my way out of a paper bag. It also feels different. It's a different language, a different culture. A different way of living. And I feel out of step.

In Guatemala, I talk to a taxi driver, any taxi driver, and he can tell me exactly what's wrong with his country. And it doesn't sound so different from what is wrong with ours. But I get on a plane and the Americans behind me go on for hours about how backward Guatemala is, how they don't know how to use their resources, how their politics are corrupt. In the first half hour I learned, to my surprise, that these people who built pyramids that will be standing when every glass and wood and metal monstrosity we have here are dust can't construct worth a damn. The people who created a calendar more sophisticated than the Roman system may not be "intelligent enough" to learn a new way. Every five minutes, there was another "obvious" solution to a complex problem. And these weren't your average American tourists. I could tell from their conversation that these people were actually architects, with plans to rebuild a community. But I could also tell they were save-the-world-in-a-day types. Everything seems simple to them.

Of all the things I dislike about living in the American culture, the need to boil everything down to something with a "simple" and "obvious" solution makes me the most crazy. Nothing is simple. Everything is interconnected. If you pull this piece out here, the whole Jenga tower could collapse. People get so focused on that one piece that they fail to see the puzzle. I guess it's one of the things I like best about Tarot. Tarot celebrates life's complexity and doesn't see a problem as insurmountable just because it has a lot of pieces.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tarot in the 3rd World

Many of you know this week, I will be returning to Guatemala for a week (there is a volunteer reunion). I am excited, and a little nervous, and just bursting to get some first-hand information on what in the heck is going on down there! My beloved Guatemala is hardly ever in the news, but I know it is struggling. I miss my kids, and I worry about them. At my site, we were near a hot zone (they don't have volunteers out there anymore), and I knew gang activity was escalating even while I was there. I hope I will hear that things have gotten better, but I fear I will hear they are worse.

Guatemala was one of those once-in-a-lifetime-but-changes-your-whole-life experiences. It was the one time I ever stepped off a plane on United States soil, looked back down the bridge to the plane door, and said to myself, "Yep, that might be the most important thing I have ever done, and may ever hope to do again."

I started apprenticing with Nancy shortly after returning. It led to a lot of changes in my life, actually. But, it will probably not surprise you to know that while I was there, I had my Tarot of Transformation deck with me. Even before I undertook formal study, I was bonded to the Tarot.

Guatemala is a Christian, largely Catholic country. Catholic in the old, old way. Knowing this, I never revealed that I read cards. In the beginning, I was afraid to.

In truth, I could have shouted it from the rooftop of my house if I'd wanted to. Guatemala is Catholic, this is true. But a lot of the indiginous beliefs still hold as well. I remember twice being asked, after I said I'd be willing to play cards, if I also read them. I was always surprised to be asked, and shocked when, after I admitted I did, the person would ask if I would read for them sometime. As though it were completely natural. There wasn't a blink, a hesitation, that very pregnant pause while the person shifted around their conceptions about readings cards and what they knew about me. It was unexpected, and refreshing.

Say what you will about Guatemala. I have never met more accepting, inclusive, truly Christian people in all my life. Many have nothing and yet display such depth of happiness and strength of community that you can't help but be in awe. The nation might be crumbling in places, but the people remain strong. I just wish so many good things for them, they deserve so much more.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


How did I end up studying intuitive Tarot instead of, say, a path with a more traditional bent? I guess I have two reasons. 1. I met Nancy first and was so impressed that I couldn't imagine another way. 2. Even though I am an avid reader (of books and cards), I prefer to glean Truth from the world. I guess I'm a product of my generation. I don't trust what I cannot see with my eyes, touch with my hands, or feel with my heart.

Strange philosophy for a Tarot reader, no? I understand and embrace the contradictions of my life. Sometimes I feel like being born a Gemini has made me of two minds about many things. I get endless enjoyment out of seeing how to blend the opposites in my head.

Of course, the next step of my training with Nance is to start committing some of the more traditional meanings, symbolism, and Astrology of Tarot to memory. Fleshing out the bones of my training, as it were. I've been afraid to start diving in because I don't want to get so fixated on what the cards are "supposed" to mean that I close myself off to my intuition. I always hope I am equal to striking a balance.

It was the other day at work (this Clark Kent works by day as a Claims Adjuster) that I finally got the sign I'd been waiting for. My coworker sent me this cartoon (which I found hilarious):

I could not help but notice how the little mouse with the lantern impersonating Diogenes resembled The Hermit (my birth card). So I went home, looked him up...

... and may I just say that, as Lynn Truss says of Aldus Manutius the Elder in Eats, Shoots & Leaves, I am "bemoaning the sad fact [I] never volunteered to have the babies of [Diogenes]..."

I mean, the man helped found the philosophical school of Cynicism. What's not to love?

Maybe this traditional study won't be so bad after all. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Funny, They Never Call the Old Testament "Bunk"

It always boggles my mind that when something in Christianity doesn't add up, it's "a matter of faith." But jump on the "gee, the Zodiac signs might be a month off" (three years after I knew about it - yeah, some revelation, thanks) bus, and suddenly Astrology is "bunk."

Now, I am a big believer in questioning the system. All systems. It's just in my nature. I'm inquisitive and a little OCD. Do I mind that MSN News ran an article poking holes in Astrology? No. But I do ask for two things when you start attacking systems. I ask that it be done respectfully. And I ask that you be informed.

If Ms. Pappas had access to, I don't know, Google, she would know that the constellation shift is not new news. She would also know that this isn't any great revelation to Astrologers. The question was never, "Are the constellations fixed?" It was, "What, if anything, should we do about it?"

I resent the implication that astrologers have been caught with their pants down. Compared to other readers, I am somewhat deficient in Astrology, but I am around enough brilliant astrologers to know that there is, and has been, an active, rich, intelligent debate going on for some time.

But did Ms. Pappas touch on this? No. She just summed it all up with one word: "bunk."

Honestly, sometimes I think the news is being written by six-year-olds.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The New Arrival

Nance called me today at work. She said the baby was here, and it had all its fingers and toes. :)

I rushed home, and there, on the window ledge outside the door, the perfect little bundle.

It has all its pages, and all its appendixes, and all its anecdotes.

And it is just beautiful. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Golden Book of Spreads

I think most Taroists have one of these. Maybe you write down your most useful spreads, like I do. Maybe you write down thoughts and snippets of revelations about Tarot. You may be diligently drawing parallels between Tarot and the Popol Vuh and furiously sketching a deck.

My Little Gold Book holds spreads. Spreads that spontaneously "appear" when I lay the cards, a grid of timelessness that holds the vision. They are the spreads I have not seen anywhere else, did not learn anywhere else, but return to me like my purest magic. My book is not full, but it is always growing.

A short while ago, I posted my latest spread. This was my first:

When I was still using my Faerie Oracle Deck (which, by the way, I think is buried in a box somewhere and must be EXTREMELY angry with me by now!), before I knew anything more about Tarot but that it was cards, I used to use this spread. I think it's been almost ten years now since this one first formed.

On its surface, this spread is read as a path, left to right, starting at the upper left and ending at the lower right. The surprising depth to this spread comes out when you realize the events, situations, and states of being represented in this spread also relate to each other on the diagonal and on the cross. This spread crops up for either incredibly complex people, or people with lives so complex, the different aspects of which so enmeshed with each other, that it is impossible to isolate one area to work on without drastically affecting the others.

I've always enjoyed this spread, but as with most of my spreads, have rarely ever used it on purpose. It just keeps coming back, like an old comfortable friend.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Tarot Girl in a Catholic World

As the date of Psychic Tarot's debut approaches (February 8th!), I find myself both excited and terrified.

I am excited because I love this book, because I love what it teaches, and because I am excited to see it take flight in the big, wide world.

I am also terrified. I'm not afraid of the book not doing well. I'm not afraid, as one of its mommies, that people are going to call it names once it gets to school. It's a strong book built on strong ideals. I do not fear for it.

No, I'm a selfish parent. I fear for me. Psychic Tarot being "out" also means that I am "out." And while that might not mean a lot if I lived in, say, Minneapolis, I live in an isolated, south-metro, conservative, quiet, Catholic community. I say Catholic not because other religions aren't represented, but because if you were to do a cross section, it would look something like 50% Catholic - 49% every other (Christian) religion. I leave room for a 1% "other," and "other" might actually have a stronger following than that, but certainly not a public one. If you ask people now, they say most put themselves down as "spiritual" rather than "religious." This spirit is not exactly well-reflected in my community. You might privately say you are more spiritual, but you publicly say you are Catholic. Or Lutheran. Or Presbyterian.

Now, in my albeit somewhat limited experience, if you ask a room full of Taroists if they are or were at one time Catholic, at least half the room is going to raise their hands. So it's hardly surprising that I come from a Catholic heritage as well. Catholics teach people to believe in mystery, to have more faith than they have information, and then proceed to spend a lifetime telling you how you are doing it wrong. I think most jump ship out of pure frustration. You want me to believe in manifestations of saints whose hands bleed but then call me a heathen when I say I believe I can speak directly to God without an intermediary. The only thing that surprises me is that there hasn't been a mass exodus, especially in the current climate. As it is, I can't stop being Catholic any more than a non-practicing Jew can stop being Jewish. At this point, it's a heritage thing, as deep in me as being Irish or German. Am I Catholic? Yes. Do I read cards? Yes. Do I see a conflict? Not really. But you're also not going to see me in church anytime soon, either, because I know there are quite a few people who do see a conflict. Especially where I live.

I'll tell just about anyone who asks that I read Tarot cards. I've taught it at the Blessings and Breathings Center, our local baby and great hope for the future of non-denominational spirituality in my hometown. I've read at the local fair & for a charity walk. I'm on the web. It's not as though I'm cowering in the Tarot Closet by any stretch of the imagination.

But I'm also not "loud and proud." Depending on the situation, I've actually caught myself almost apologizing for being a reader. Which doesn't just make me angry at myself, it makes me angry at my environment. How can I continue to live in a climate where I feel people expect me to apologize for my way of life? Why do I cling to this place where if I am sitting at a table reading cards, at least a third of the people passing by are going to pass my booth on the other side of the walkway just to make sure what I'm doing doesn't taint them? I've had people I've known all my life turn tail and almost run when they saw I was reading cards.

Other members of the BBC (as we affectionately call it) have suffered a higher cost, though thank God none of us have been a victim of a hate crime - something we have worried over on occasion. I like to say we were "loosely excommunicated" by our local Ministerial Association. Yes, you saw it here first, my town is big enough and small enough that the local Christian churches have banded together to promote inter-Christian cooperation. Apparently, this includes the very Christian act of forbidding Suzi, BBC co-founder, and her dancers (one of which is me) from liturgical dance at the ecumenical services the Christian churches have. Suzi choreographed and danced at those services for somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen years. The reason they gave for the sudden drop? "There might be witches dancing."

Let us just say we are not particularly well-liked, then. Privately, I still get a little giggle over the reasoning just because the 4 co-founders at the time were religiously affiliated something like this - 2 Catholic, 2 Interfaith. I'm not even sure we had one pagan or Wiccan member at the time, though I rarely ask. In any case, Suzi, one of the most spiritually connected people I know who does praise and worship dance that could make you cry, was suddenly persona non grata for being affiliated with the BBC.

It was a blow, but one Suzi recovered from beautifully. What I wish for most is her strength if and when Psychic Tarot gains enough notariety to put me under the sword. I love my community. I have been both surprised by the easy acceptance I have gotten from some unexpected people and shocked by the coldness I've met with from others I thought differently of. I continue to try to help those who need it, educate those who will listen, and ignore those who would throw stones. I tell myself it is enough if I make one lamp brighter because I stayed.

Still, I am afraid sometimes. Nancy says you can serve either Love or Fear, but you cannot serve both. Now if only my brain would get the memo...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Point of Light

Happy New Year! I resolve every year to be more dedicated to my blogs. And to exercise more. And to be more dedicated to my blogs.

Here's to hoping one of the two takes root this year.

Also to begin the New Year, I made a new spread. Yes, of all of the Six Principles, my special gift is Form - I am very good at making new and interesting intuitive spreads. If only the Initial Image came so easily...
I used two decks. I don't often do two-deck spreads, but I have two decks that play well together (Tarot of Transformation and the New Star), and considering the complexity of the Intent, I decided I could use two decks.
This spread is based on something Hope (Janice) Gorman of the Hope Interfaith Center said to me some years back. I'll see if I can do it justice here:
Imagine you are a point of light on your path. Before you spreads any number of beams, illuminating paths you may take from this point on. Behind you spreads more beams, illuminating the paths you could have taken to get here.

The Point of Light Spread

I used the New Star deck to represent the aspects of my past that most influence(d) the point I am at now (center). I used the Tarot of Transformation to illustrate the ways ahead. The two cards outside the burst were laid for clarity.

I would call this a good, solid, get-your-life-in-perspective spread, much like a Celtic Cross. Hopefully, the New Year will bring us all new opportunities.