To keep up with my Marseille practice I decided to do a little 3-card draw for my weekend and pulled the Nine of Swords, Death and the Three of Cups.
I usually pay attention to directionality when I read tarot, but I find this is amplified further when I am using Marseille. As the only (somewhat) human figure in this storyboard, I wonder if Death is my significator here, what am I reaping?
The Nine of Swords tells me that my weekend is focused on an introspective and assessing/reassessing state of mind, and considering how much time I spend actively thinking about something specific, particularly now that I am trying to master the Marseille and Lenormand, this is of little surprise. But what am I turning my back on here?
The nurturing and growth of my relationships.
I spend a lot of time, most of it in fact, with my family, and while I am always attentive, half of my mind is often off doing its own little thing, exploring ideas and pondering various subjects, meaning that while I am technically ‘here’, I am not always 100% present with my husband and kids.
So today, Death is telling me to cut it out, to get out of my own head and be wholly present for the ones that I love.
Before I left for the UK I decided I couldn’t part with Le Tarot Noir and wanted to start learning Marseille style reading in earnest, and of course, as I was searching around the net for info and good resources I stumbled upon this beautiful little deck, the Marshmallow Marseille, and decided I had to have it. My excuses for this purchase are that, unlike the humongous Tarot Noir, this deck is poker sized – exactly the same size as my Dreaming Way Lenormand – and very easy to handle and lay out to explore suit progressions…mostly though it is because it’s pretty and has a warm, inviting feel I don’t get from the aesthetic of ‘true’ Marseille decks.
The colours, are, as the name would suggest, a palette of marshmallowee pastels and absolutely beautiful. The card stock is good, not too thick, not too thin, it is easy to riffle shuffle, a bit slippery but nothing ridiculous (looking at you Llewellyn). And it is just so damn cute, without being cutesy, if that makes sense?
Over at the 3 of Cups Tarot Community we have started doing weekly buddy readings and this week my buddy asked for a reading about her spiritual gifts. I couldn’t find any spreads online that really fit the bill and creating new spreads is something I love doing, so I got to work and came up with this. It came out with some interesting insights so I decided to try it for myself. [Sorry about the terrible picture quality, the lighting in my house is terrible and my phone camera is just not having it.]
I used a mix of oracles and tarot that I felt best suited to answer the positional questions, of course if you decide to use this spread yourself, follow your gut on which deck/s to use.
The top row of cards are from the Celtic Tree Oracle and represent three spiritual gifts that you may or may not be aware of, but are the most accessible to you at this time. The row of tarot cards beneath, here from Raven’s Prophecy, are drawn from the Major Arcana and read together with the gift cards to show where you are with that gift right now. Continue reading “Spread for Spiritual Gifts”→
After enjoying my little random three card draw with Le Tarot Noir earlier this week, I decided to pull it out again for a little play… I think I’m trying to talk myself into keeping it and properly learning Marseille.
Anyway, I previously asked the Lenormand to tell me about my upcoming and very short trip back home to the UK, and I asked Le Tarot Noir the same thing. I’m not particularly stressed about the trip, but I was honestly lacking in imagination and couldn’t think of what else to ask.
The Chariot, yep, there will be forward motion, a destination clearly in mind, the harnessing of will and endurance to cope with various unruly forces like navigating my way through multiple borders and airports while keeping all my shit together and not getting lost or missing a connection. Next, The Lover. I don’t think I will be facing any major decisions while I am there (you never know though) so I take this card simply as arriving at a place of love, my mum’s home.
Aaaand The Tower. Oh f*%#
Stop. Switch off Waite-Smith brain. This is Marseille we’re talking to here, and luckily for me, it is nowhere near as dire and can actually be a very welcome sight. Breakthrough, freedom from confinement are just a few of the TdM Tower key words, and looking at the card, really looking at it, that bolt blowing off the top looks rather revelatory and benevolent, it even looks like there’s confetti! But what structures of confinement am I breaking free from?
I go outside to have a ciggie (yes, yes, I know, filthy habit) and ponder where this great sense of release could come from. Standing on my front porch my gaze falls where it usually does, in front of me to the military checkpoint and watchtower.
I am so used to seeing it and feeling all that it stands for that it has become part of my daily landscape – so very ordinary. Deep down I always know that the soldiers can watch us, see through our windows, heck, even shoot through our windows if the mood takes. Deep down, I also know that this isn’t ordinary or normal, I’m simply numbed to it, and soon, for four whole days, I will be blasted free from its constrictive and constant intrusion.
I’ve been thinking about selling or trading Le Tarot Noir, it is by far one of the most stunning and classy looking decks I’ve ever seen, but I am not sure I have the patience for learning Marseille style reading at the moment and the cards are just. so. large. Trying to read with even five cards feels cumbersome and takes up so much space that I hardly ever read with them unless I’m just looking for a tiny snapshot. I suppose I could use it as a Majors only deck, but that seems like such a waste of a visually stunning deck.
As I was flicking through the deck pondering whether or not to keep them, I decided to draw three cards from the Majors. I had nothing in particular in mind and the draw is not intended as any sort of personal reading, I just wanted to see what the cards came up with for consideration today.
I don’t usually post my more aimless readings, but I loved the striking juxtaposition of the cards that appeared. In the middle we have Justice, the great equaliser, and on either side, The Pope and The Fool. Here I see the beautiful but delicate balance between two very different approaches and experiences in life: teacher and student, wise and foolish, predictable and spontaneous, knowledgeable and ignorant, responsible and free, old and young, solemn and blasé, traditional and pioneering, establishment and rebel, weighed down and weightless, the sacred and the profane.
Justice demands that we be vigilant and choose wisely in which role to play at any given time, for they both have their virtues and their vices.
I’m now having second thoughts about letting this deck go….
Sowilo [pronounced so-EE-lo] means Sun and is one of the simplest runes to translate into tarot. Before I get on to explaining the obvious connection between Sowilo and The Sun in tarot, one thing that is important to note is that the sun in Norse pagan tradition, unlike modern esoteric constructs, is coded as female. Furthermore, a number of archaeological finds point strongly to the preeminence of sun worship in Bronze Age Scandinavia.
Elements of the sun-cult appear to have survived in the myths that have been left to us in the Goddess Sol, also known as Sunna. In Snorri’s Prose Edda, Sol is not a personification of the sun, but the charioteer that drives the sun across the sky, chased by the wolf Skoll (which may also be another name for the great wolf Fenrir) who is fated to devour her and the sun at Ragnarok. Her brother is Mani, the charioteer of the moon, and she is wed to an otherwise unknown figure known as Glenr (whose name means Gap Between Clouds – if that’s not poetry, I don’t know what is).
Some evidence does however point to the idea that the sun was a personified goddess to Bronze Age Germanic peoples, and there appear to be some surviving pieces of this tradition in later Norse myths. The existence of Thor long predates the rise of Odinn, with his mythology dating back to Proto Indo European myth, and while common Viking and post-Viking age stories hold Odinn as the All-Father and progenitor of Thor, there is ample suggestion in older sources that Thor was the first god, born not from Odinn and Jord (the Earth personified), but from Sol and Jord, two female deities. Considering the short-circuit this could have caused in the brains of Christian writers such as Snorri and Saxo, it is little wonder scant evidence of this myth and origin story survive.
Anyway, without rambling on too much, the all-encompassing importance of sun worship in Bronze Age Scandinavia changed over the centuries and appears to have lost much of its popularity, however there are more inklings of its importance amongst later pagan worshippers than much of Norse mythology initially suggests, and the Norwegian rune poem sums it up perfectly, “Sun is the light of the world; I bow to its holiness“.
Much like The Sun in tarot, Sowilo speaks of illumination, brightness and victory. It is the bringer of great joy, light and truth; the shadows have been chased away and the cold, harsh need of previous runes like Nauthiz, Isa and Hagalaz are melted away.
The Icelandic rune poem states, “Sun is the sky shield, and a shining radiance, and the nemesis of ice.” This idea of the protective power of the sun as a shield also echoes in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, where we see the sun as a vigilant guide for those at sea, “The sun guides seafarers who ferry across the fishes bath until the seahorse [ship] brings them to land.”
This idea of protection and guidance has a very different feel to the protection of our attending, ancestral spirits seen in the previous rune. While Algiz represents a protector not quite of this world, existing in liminal space between this and the otherworld, sometimes seen but most often not, the protection of Sowilo is shining and all-apparent. It is in this vein, along with the sun’s holiness expressed in the Norwegian rune poem, that I also feel hints of the power of The Empress. She is life itself, nurturing, protective, abundant and generous, she brings fertility and growth to the land, much like the sun’s rays; she, like Sowilo, is a shining beacon of life that warms her children and promises prosperity.
Sowilo, like other runes, cannot appear merkstave (reversed), but in this singular instance I will not be exploring the shadow meanings for this rune (although others do). For me, Sowilo is as good as it gets, it has the power to blast away the negative energies of any number of the more challenging runes – or all of them combined. No matter how dreary a rune-casting may look, the presence of Sowilo gives strong cause for optimism, and the promise that regardless of the difficulties you face, there is a bright, shining, all-encompassing light at the end of the tunnel – life will always prevail, you just have to hold- tight long enough for sunrise.
Algiz/Elhaz [meaning disputed, generally understood to represent protection]. The phoneme of the rune, a Zh sound, fell out of usage by the time of Viking era to be replaced with R, as such the rune is not amongst the Norwegian or Icelandic rune poems and survives only in the Anglo-Saxon rune-poem as Eolh-secg. The most commonly used translation is ‘Elk-Sedge’, however this meaning is very ambiguous and some scholars have argued its etymological inaccuracy. Other meanings, reconstructed linguistically in Old English, Gothic and German, posit a variety of different meanings such as eel-grass, holy grove, elk, sword and swan. Whichever meaning most appeals, the overriding understanding of this rune remains relatively constant as meaning some form of divine or otherworldly protection. For me, swan is where it gets most interesting and resonates the strongest.
In Norse mythology swans were closely connected to female fate spirits, most notably, the Valkyries, choosers of the slain on battlefields. Swans are also connected to the fylgjur, one or more ancestral spirits that attach themselves or belong to a family, protecting and guiding its members. They are said to come in either animal or humanoid form. [Additionally, two swans are said to drink from the Well of Urd (Origin) at the base of the World Tree Yggdrasil (also associated with the fate-goddesses, the Norns). According to the Prose Edda, the waters of the well are so pure, that any being that drinks from it or submerges itself in its waters will become white in colour.]
This is one of my favourite spreads to do for myself, I find it maintains simplicity whilst still giving a good overview of where I am at. Here I am using my beloved, forever-deck, The Tarot of the Hidden Realm by Barbara Moore. I feel so attuned to these cards and they always hit it out of the park in both accuracy and insight. This is pretty much the only deck I feel I can’t live without and am thinking about buying duplicate copies just incase my toddlers or cats get a hold of them and destroy them.
Anyway, the spread is read left-right and represent the primary concerns bubbling beneath the surface, on the surface and up in the air.
Bubbling beneath – The Magician
My inner realm is currently concerned with ruminating on all of the new possibilities I am faced with. It is putting the feelers out there for how all of this potential pairs up with my innate skills, ambitions and (often conflicting) desires. I also see the Magician as representing a level of anxiety that has been niggling at me about picking the wrong career path when we move and worrying about feeling like an imposter. I keep getting these little waves of doubt that I am kidding myself wanting to go back to school, that I can’t study science and medicine, and I would be a fraud for even attempting it. And how long would I be able to keep up this slight-of-hand before it all comes crashing down around me, anyway?
The surface – Ace of Pentacles
At the most mundane, grounded level, I am all about sniffing out opportunities, gauging the environment and seeking a path forward that would bring material security. I am trying my hardest to be practical and pragmatic, I have my spikes up to repel any serious knocks, but I still feel very small in the face of this challenging move overseas.
Up in the air – King of Wands
The part of me that aspires and daydreams is currently concerned with leadership. Away from the practical, I can feel this loftier part of me that wants to prove myself during this move. I want to demonstrate that I can take the lead and protect my family effectively, that I can forge forward in a position of power, creating success and make them proud of me.
The modern tarot world has been greatly influenced by New Age movements and concepts of spirituality, and one theme you’ll see pop up time and time again is the importance of intention, even amongst those that do not subscribe to the Theory of Attraction (myself included). There is the idea, also I believe in modern Wicca (feel free to correct me!) that intent is the bedrock of magic, that if we set our minds and will to something, it is achievable. While I don’t doubt at all that setting intent is a powerful motivator and influence in bringing things into – or banishing them from – our lives, I am also reminded of an oft-used phrase in social justice circles: intent isn’t magic. Which means to say that no, while you did not intend for your words or actions to be problematic, they in fact are, that despite your best-intent someone was harmed or affected by the things you did or said. Shit definitely did not go down as expected, and while intentions may have been good, or at least ignorant, recompense and apologies should be forthcoming without defensive reactions like, ‘But I didn’t mean it!’, because it doesn’t matter, you did it.
While unrelated directly to cartomancy, mulling over these ideas of intent got me thinking about the differences between Tarot and Lenormand, two wonderful, beautiful card traditions that have the power – if you let them – to instigate change in your life and you perceptions. While Tarot can and frequently does reflect back the blatantly obvious, its power to me lies in its ability to push you head first into the sub-conscious waters of your expectations, motivations, hopes and baggage, it shows what things mean to you on a symbolic level and why, and it reveals your intentions and deepest held desires (especially the repressed ones, boy howdy). Continue reading “Intent Isn’t Magic: The Appeal of Lenormand”→
I’ve been feeling in a bit of a funk recently. In the past month I’ve been hit by two viruses (cold or flu or a combination of both, I’m not sure) and the reality of our possible move to the US is really starting to sink in. I have so many mixed emotions I don’t even know what is going on anymore, so I decided to ask Dame Darcy for a bit of a check-up to put the main issues into size-manageable pieces. This is an open reading and the only card that has any sort of positional meaning is the last one.
While my first instinct is to start off reading chronologically from left to right, the Empress feels like my significator card here. Her purview, like my concerns at the moment, is all about nurturing, comfort and abundance, and right now I feel caught in between all of the new possibilities, opportunities and encounters a move to the US could bring us and the very real knowledge that we will have very little money to live on. How will we survive? How much are we, and my kids particularly, going to go without as we scramble to find our feet? Will the whole thing fail?
This seems to be a pretty accurate representation of the situation at hand so I decided to pull one more card for advice. The Four of Pentacles – solid, practical, stable and my good ole reliable stalker card. It tells me to keep my shit together and find a balance between hopes and fears. No one ever grounded their feet in the air or water of cups and swords, so it’s time to come back to earth, to give the dreams a rest for a while and try and ease up on the anxiety by simply taking it one sensible, solid step at a time.