"May we reclaim our power, beauty and magic
one moon phase at a time. Let's howl together."
- Marissa Massie & Rachael Caringella
I admit it... I'm always intrigued by round decks. I've had a brief affair with the Motherpeace Tarot and The Gorgon's Tarot fascinates me still. But there, it seems, my interaction with round decks have become a non-issue, as artists and creators focused their energies and immense talents on standard tarot sizes and shapes or, as I've discovered, decks so large they dwarf my child-sized digits with all the flare and pizazz I've come to expect from amazing artists.
So imagine the depth of my complete joy when I stumbled across the visionary Spirit de la Lune, by Marissa Massie and Rachael Caringella, during (yet another) midnight Google deck spree.
Let's discuss the basics: the packaging is superb. A sturdy round metal tin houses the magical 56-card deck. The lid is secure but easy to open, and the tin is large enough to accommodate a bag if you are as obsessed with organza as I am and must marry it to every deck you own. I am even able to sneak in a small amethyst that rather called to this deck upon arrival. The card stock seems standard. Thin and easy to shuffle, but sufficiently durable, and their size is comfortable for small hands. There is a satin finish to the card stock that lends to the ease of shuffling but does also allow the cards to slip and slide if you bump your reading table. And the card titles are painfully light, small and difficult to read, but I believe once you've familiarized yourself with the deck well enough, that will be mostly inconsequential.
"It is a remembrance. The Moon's currents run through our DNA connecting us back to the wisdom our foremother's knew when the Moon was the guiding force in the night sky."
Spirit de la Lune Guide Book For Lunar Guidance
The guide book is very comprehensive, including spreads for each moon cycle, gemstone associations and reversed meanings. I also like to take note of which direction the cards may be rotated in a spread, if a card is turned more towards one neighboring card than another (not exactly upright nor reversed), and see how that manifests in the meanings. The round shape is not only reminiscent of the moon for which these cards are created, but also lends itself to a multitude of meanings in a reading.
I admit that I do not connect with the mandala artwork. Though beautiful, it doesn't seem to lend itself to intuitive interpretations for me. And, so far, without the card names and keywords, I might be a little less able to grasp their meanings in a spread. So, right now, with my need to reference the guide book frequently, I feel this deck is best used for personal guidance and growth. The moon cycle spreads are each quite unique and allows the reader to enjoy a small ritual with which to connect oneself to lunar energies and has proven to be a unique and fulfilling experience. And you certainly aren't limited to monthly lunar cycle readings. These cards can definitely be enjoyed daily as a ritual or meditative tool.
In all, this is a really lovingly provocative deck. The creators gave a great deal of thought to the intentions and meanings they wished to convey and, if I may be so vaguely esoteric, understand the magic of the Moon. Though it may require, for me, more work and patience than many oracle decks, it is its own system worthy of research and dedication.
Wooden Tarot www.skullgarden.net
Of all the cards in all the decks in all the world, I had to draw the one card that would trigger my Trypophobia. Don't know what that is? I didn't either until I once spied a similar image, looked it up and realized I
And I don't want it. It's horrible.
But I will say this... the Wooden Tarot, created by Andrew Liam Swartz is truly an amazing, beautiful and evocative deck and, despite the shivers of revulsion I get from this card in particular, its message (and even my fear of its imagery) is also incredibly relevant for me right now.
Technically, it's not a recognized fear, and the definition of this fear (that of holes) is not actually what causes the sense of revulsion in those who experience it... it's the idea of disease and the danger associated with disease. All those little holes filled with unmentionables (yes, I totally just used the word "unmentionables" and it's totally appropriate) can carry with it a sense of unease, dread, even real, tangible fear and anxiety.
Anyway, how does this relate to the daily draw? Because the fear of what fills those holes fits perfectly with the theme of the card, which happens to be a re-imagined representation of the Seven of Cups in a standard Raider-Waite system.
The Seven of Cups is all about choices, about the real danger and perceived danger of choices, and that sometimes there is only one perfect choice for us and the rest are all manifestations of our own selfishness, our own desire to protect ourselves from an inevitable future. Some may see this as a card of promise. And in some scenarios, that may be an apt interpretation. But even the perfect choice may not be a pleasant one. Sometimes the less appealing option is the one our souls need for progression or growth.
So what, exactly, is the message of this card? It's one of acceptance. And I don't mean the resigned acceptance of those who have given up, but the acceptance of self... that we are capable of making the difficult choices, that we can push back against the temptation to protect ourselves to spite our own spiritual progress, that we chose to embrace a life of meaning, even if not an easy life to live.
And yes, this is also a card of hope and strength. It's a card that shows us that fulfillment is not always about what we want, but what we need, and to trust in a process we sometimes might not understand. This card warns us that options and desires might work against our progress, might be the pebble in our shoe, and we have only to kick off our shoes before we continue the walk. Sometimes, it's about letting go of the pipe dream, the bigger picture that pulls you away from the reality of the now.
It's messages are plentiful. And it's purpose is clear. Do not be afraid of the difficult choice. Do not be blinded by the promise of every desire distracting you from the worthy now. Do what is good and right for you, even if that road seems less bright. And please, for the love of light, recognize the peril of the intoxicating fantasy of perfection.
And as always, be kind to yourselves. Be bold and bright and move forward with confidence and clarity.
So, how does the person who has no relationship with the divine Masculine embrace the relationship? By jumping into it with both feet. I've placed this card on my altar and meditated on its message. The monarch is a beautiful animal, free of spirit, despite the painfully and sadly short cycle of its metamorphosis. It embraces its life in whatever capacity it can, by whatever means it can, and brings beauty to the world in the process. Can there be a brighter divine light inside any creature? I'm not so sure.
This card encourages us to dance in the light of the sun. To walk outside, hold our arms wide to the heavens and feel the heat of it on our face. Because time is fleeting. Energy comes and goes. Our own creativity, ideas and enthusiasm experiences its own ebb and flow to which we are eternally tied. We have to embrace this energy at its height and let it fall away when required and this card reminds us that Litha is a perfect opportunity to understand and accept this cycle, and to boldly take life by the horns. While we can. Always while we can.
Moving forward, the strength of the sun will wane. And the gods will rely on us to carry the light onward. Carry the spark of it in your heart. Call on it when life is its darkest and let it fill you up.
"Certainly, the history of my life and the works of art which have especially enriched it is precisely that: the depiction or incantation of a handful of metaphors whose splendor rests upon their intonation." - Michael Ayrton
(The Mary-el Tarot, Marie White)
It feels pretty loaded, doesn't it, to discuss the epic topic of tarot and art? Now, I don't mean the art of reading cards (which is a universe unto itself) but the real, tangible, actual art used to create a deck of cards.
You could safely say I am a tarot and oracle deck collector. I have a fair number of decks that span a variety of artistic styles. Someone recently asked of me, incredulously, "You buy decks just because they look pretty?" Yes. Yes I do. And though, from a collector's standpoint, that is reason enough, there's actually other reasons to buy tarot for its art, which extend beyond their monetary or aesthetic value.
Tarot, traditionally, is a very defined system, with defined imagery and defined interpretations of that imagery. People learn tarot (usually) around this system, so are not always called to care how the art speaks to us or what it has to say, beyond its traditional meanings. Some, however, read tarot intuitively, by drawing inspiration from the imagery, the embedded metaphor and symbolism, and the story each artist is trying to tell. Which (and I promise it's not blasphemy) does not always coincide with tradition.
Neither approach to tarot, in my opinion, is right or wrong. The traditional art and symbolism and definition has its place. And unconventional tarot has its place. The joy is in the journey towards discovering what those places are, how we inhabit them and interact within those spaces and what we can learn from these interactions.
The art of tarot is immense and intense. It can move hearts. It can pull at the psyche until we fall into the shadows and roll around in their meaning. I am not moved in this way by conventional imagery. I am not pulled into the Rider-Waite story. My heart doesn't lie in those cards. But hand me the Mary-el, the Wild Unknown or Prisma Visions tarot, and I fall in love with the story these cards attempt to share. I fall into their meaning and wrap myself up in the character and voice and translate that voice into a cohesive idea.
So, if you think it's pretty. Use it. Don't let anyone tell you that you're required to adhere to tradition. Learn tradition then break all the rules. You're allowed. You're allowed to enjoy the art of tarot. You're allowed to love one image more than others. You are allowed to create and foster your own relationship with tarot on your own terms.
Just enjoy it. Enjoy the journey and art and never mind the rest.
Responsibilities are a necessity, but we should endeavor to find a way to schedule our responsibilities alongside our responsibilities to self and Spirit. It's in this balance we find ourselves, our purpose and our way forward.
"In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth." - Patti Smith
So how do we restore balance where balance is lost? First, take time. Stop what you are doing and take an hour to have a conversation with yourself about the way in which your balance is lacking.
And, as un-sexy as it might sound, schedule in time for those areas in need of attention. You deserve it. Your body and spirit and loved ones deserve the attention you'll give to the areas which need it most. Achieving balance is not easy. It's a long road for many. But it's a necessary journey towards completion. And even if completion is never truly attainable, and we should always strive for balance between body and Spirit, the ethereal and earth, the journey is where it's at.
I hope you enjoy your journey and give yourself some love!
This year the Summer Equinox (Litha) falls on June 20, which also corresponds with the full moon in Sagittarius, and just might prove to be an especially powerful opportunity to connect with the Divine Masculine archetype.
The full moon in Sagittarius is an amazing time to express ones independence and freedom, and to explore the eternal philosopher... ever seeking wisdom internally and excitement externally. And, as the second moon in Sagittarius (the first being May 21), this will also prove an excellent time to handle unfinished business and learn the lessons of this sign. You know all that freedom you've been coveting? Now is the time to consider the consequences for the freedoms we afford ourselves and plan for the days beyond.
Despite the lessons yet to be learned this month, the energies surrounding this vibrant celebration (during which the sun is at its peak) are pervasive, insistent and wont be denied! Sagittarius is definitely making its presence known in my life these last two months, but connecting these energies to the Divine Masculine isn't always easily done.
I have to admit I have a wounded relationship with the Divine Masculine. One which I tend to shove in the corner of the broom closet and kick at every once in a while in order to close the door. Those qualities I would associate as "masculine" within, are also the qualities most lacking in care, support and kindness. The most critical qualities. The qualities which whisper to me, those nights when I long for sleep, "You aren't doing enough. You aren't doing it good enough. You need to be better. Man up.". And my internal feminine says to me "It's just tough love", but it's not. It's a damaging and unhealthy relationship with my Divine Masculine archetype.
So, this Litha celebration, how can I repair this damage? Or, at least, begin to repair it? First, by defining what a healthy relationship with this archetype means. What does He embody? This will be an amazing opportunity to journal and explore my shadow, while I re-discover and heal my relationship with this powerful and necessary archetype. He is the protector. The healer. Wisdom. He is in control without taking control, and embodies the elements in a single cohesive whole. He is firm but kind, supportive and encouraging, and we have only to ask for His guidance to open up within ourselves His power.
In the end, however, I don't have the answers. I'm taking this journey myself. But what I do know is that this Litha will prove to be an exciting, scary, trying ritual experience.... and worth every second.
How will you be celebrating your Divine Masculine?
Cosmos Oracle Deck: 13 Binary System
"Inside a binary system exists two stars locked
in a perpetual, dependent relationship"
-Light Grey Art Lab
Dependency is both a beautiful and dangerous foundation upon which relationships are sometimes built. On one hand, it is a stunning opening up, where relationships are born and grow and prosper. It is the yin and yang, the passing of elemental energies from one being to another, it is the fundamental sharing of passion, security and hardship. Perhaps especially hardship. And it is with an understanding of this relationship that two parties can move forward together in harmony, both benefiting and protecting the other.
It is also, I think, about a relationship with self. It is time for self-love, to express kindness towards self, to treat the body to which we are (sometimes inconveniently) attached with a little reverence. If we are imbalanced internally, working towards the balance in our external relationships becomes exponentially more difficult. This card suggests a need to look on our relationship with self, with Spirit, with those closest to us externally, in serious consideration of their balance. It is time to assess these relationships and identify areas of imbalance, in which one party is benefiting at the expense of another.
When dependency becomes a cycle of negativity, a lack of reciprocity, it becomes a toxic leech. This card can indicate a need to free ourselves from the leeches in life and regain our own balance, on our own terms. This card can remind us to drag ourselves from beneath the weight of unhealthy relationships, and discover balance within ourselves, or to re-discover the balance in healthier relationships. To find the center of gravity, and allow ourselves to orbit it... with or without a partner. Sometimes our greatest relationships are the ones within.
This card can also remind us to appreciate the pillars of support in our life, upon which we depend, to whom we gravitate for understanding and love or compassion. To show our loved ones that their place in our lives are not arbitrary, and their affect on our own center of gravity has propelled us into a positive forward momentum.
Recognize imbalance, and remove yourself from the negative pull of others, or appreciate the symmetrical movement of healthy relationships. Either way, this card is a wonderful reminder to take time this weekend to be honest with ourselves about the nature of our relationships and take steps towards restoring balance.
Shax: 37 Danger of Loss (Fallen Angel Oracle)
This is the gem I pulled today while contemplating my tarot and oracle deck wish list. I have 45 decks sitting in my Amazon wish list, and 25 more in my Etsy shopping cart. It may seem a small thing, the desire for material possession, but almost clicking "Buy Now" on those 45 decks was a frightening moment of clarity for me and this card was a wonderful stumble towards the eternal hovering shadow of desire, the shadow of wants at the expense of needs, even, or the shadow of materialism for the sake of it.
"That feeling of freedom, open highways of possibilities, has kind of been lost to materialism and marketing."
Now, this isn't to pass judgment on those who have money, who choose to spend that money on decks or art or anything at all, really. It's more an introspection into my own experience with desire and materialism and how that relates to my spiritual journey.
I should even say I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I believe materialism can live harmoniously, or as harmonious as anything else, with a spiritual or religious life. But there is such a thing, despite all the differences of opinions we might have on the matter, as dangerous consumerism. Though at what point, exactly, it becomes dangerous is likely a matter of personal experience and circumstance.
When materialism or consumerism replaces our needs, when it becomes a risk to purchase, a risk to our livelihood and general well-being, we have entered the domain of Shax, the dark angel of theft. He hoards treasures, can remove the understanding of others and blind you to the light of truth. He can, however, also reveal things that are hidden. I think this is his real purpose in the draw: to reveal the motivation behind the materialism, to allow us the freedom to look into ourselves and assess the nature of our desires. To look into our shadow and see the light of some truth, even if that truth is an uncomfortable realization about our consumerist nature.
And this discovery does not have to be a judgment on our lives, on our self-worth, or our ability to find fulfillment. It can be a portal towards fulfillment, if we allow it. If we push past the fear of discovery and walk into the shadow of self.
Ego is a natural part of our psyche, existing in the conscious real world, experiencing life from a place of self-esteem or self-worth and the thinking self. Though I have no mastery of the Freudian structure of the psyche, I can safely say I've seen Ego at work, have succumbed to my own egotistical fanaticism even, and seen others succumb to theirs. And in the spiritual community, more often than not. For some, simply recognizing, or admitting to, our predisposed urge to satisfy our ego is an exercise in spiritual growth. For some, sadly, it is an exercise in futility.
Recently, I've seen behavior in the spiritual community, especially from spiritual business owners, that are neither spiritual nor professional. And this behavior is often tagged as a "spiritual calling". Imagine this scenario: "Though I didn't want to, I am feeling called by Spirit to...." usually followed by angry rants directed at individuals, paths or beliefs. Spiritual businesses are in the business of lifting up and this behavior seems counter-intuitive to that philosophy.
Is Spirit really so small-minded? Does Spirit really "call us" to use social media as a platform to express our spiritual superiority over others? When we use the phrase "I am being called by Spirit to...", is Spirit calling us or are we projecting our ego on our idea of Spirit as a justification for negativity or negative behavior?
"Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting." - Sydney J. Harris
And I ask myself if I am being spiritually superior because I am expressing my own sadness, discontent or disappointment with the prevalent nature of this egotism. It is a slippery slope, this ego of ours, and dissection of it is an uncomfortable necessity.
So, how do we prevent spiritual superiority? I'm not sure we can, entirely. Perhaps the best we can hope for is a recognition of it, acceptance of it, and a dialogue with ourselves about our spiritual motives. How do we recognize a spiritual superiority in ourselves? We can ask ourselves if we shelter negativity and anger in terms like "love and light" or "spiritual calling". Ask yourself if defensive negativity and anger can come from a place of positivity at all, and if you cannot reconcile that dichotomy, perhaps a re-evaluation of the ego is in order.
And ask yourself, would Spirit use social media to express anger? Probably not. But ego would. Ego definitely would. The least we can do is be honest with ourselves about the narratives we express.
When I discovered my passion for photography, water drops became a constant source of zen-like inspiration and, to this day, remain an unparalleled liberation from stress. The process of capturing the elements in a macro environment proved an exercise in psychological and spiritual awakening, as I began to appreciate the shapes and their messages, and how those messages related to my personal life experience.
And for more than 8 years, I have been capturing these images, collecting them... thousands of them... discovering their messages, adapting my own spirituality to understand their hidden meanings.
Prepping for, and post-processing, these images became a meditation, a religion in which I was immersed in the understanding of my own psyche. Every image pulled from me, from my very center, a study of my own emotional capacity and opened up for me a world of inspiring possibility.
Earlier this year, I began to revisit these images and study their messages, to define them by my own experience with them. They took on personality and identities and, in the end, came together as a family of observations that became a working oracle for my spiritual practice.
The colors for these images were achieved through the use and strategic placement of backgrounds, scrap papers, the photographs I'd taken of flowers and wildlife, and camera settings that allowed these backgrounds to blend and blur in a cohesive, colorful whole, so all that remained was the flow of water.
My first printing of this deck, pictured above, was an opportunity to express my own weaknesses and strengths by choosing images and keywords that best represented my experiences, life lessons and goals. Some photos used were imperfect, out of focus, and poorly executed, having been chosen from a very early collection of images, when my understanding of the photographic process was still quite raw. But.... this deck was perfectly suited to me. And from this initial exercise, a larger, more comprehensive deck was born.
This 80-card deck will be available for pre-order soon and I'm really excited to share this experience with others. It's been a passion project of mine, one which is far from over, as I work towards embracing a spiritual, photographic relationship with the other elements!