The Empress

The Empress

 (Author’s note: this was originally published on turtlephoenix.blogspot.com in December of 2011)
I felt that it would only be fitting to write about the lady of fertility and blessings around the time of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The woman in the picture above is the Navaho and Apache earth goddess of change. According to the theology, she created mankind from white flour and corn meal she dusted from her chest. The chest is the place where we, from the time we are born, receive food and comfort. The Empress is a mother archetype, making sure all have all they need. Estsanatlehi (pronounced broken down into syllables–est-san-at-lah-hee) has the ability to age, but then grow young again by walking toward the East, the place of creation.  So, she never dies. This immortality is granted to the Empress archetype. The Mother is as old as time, and will last until the end of time. It is the same with generosity, I think.  The Empress can represent a person in the person’s life who is extremely generous and is waiting to give blessings to the person. The Empress usually represents a mother figure, or a man who is very supportive, caring, and giving. It is also very fitting that Estsanatlehi is associated with the Earth, as is the Empress. There is a reason we call our planet Mother Earth.

When the Empress shows up, it means blessings are in the offing.  These blessings can be material–traditionally, a good harvest, but today it could mean a raise, or a new house.  The blessing could also be one of fertility. This could mean the obvious conclusion that a new baby is coming, but it could also be a new creative project–especially one that’s more crafty and hands-on.  I also think that the Empress gives blessings of family, especially if it appears with one of the Cups cards. If the question is about marriage or adoption, this is a good card to get!  The wedding will be happy, the marriage will be loving, and the in-laws will be welcoming.  The adoption will be joyous and smooth.  The Empress can also represent a comfortable, loving home, contentment, and security.

The generous energy of the Empress, when in balance, is unconditional. There are no strings attached to the gifts, except perhaps gratitude, and taking the Empress’ cue and sharing what you have in turn. Gratitude is generosity’s twin, I think, and so the Empress represents gratitude to me, as well as generosity.

The shadow, unbalanced side of the Empress is someone who is stingy, someone who is incapable of giving, an abusive mother, or someone who is ungrateful. She can also represent someone who is giving too much, at the expense of his/her own well-being, or someone who is smothering instead of mothering.

In more esoteric views, the Empress is all about the fecundity–meaning the sex. As you can see in the Barbara G. Walker interpretation above, the Empress is seated in a very generous posture, if you know what I mean. This hearkens to a time of the temple prostitutes, who were treated like queens for providing not only sexual but spiritual services. They were the conduits of the ultimate empresses, the goddesses. In this context, the Empress is less mothering and more sex queen, but she is still an empress, in every sense of the word. Sexual power is also another meaning for the card, but it is up to you to determine whether this energy is strictly femme fatale or a combination of lover/possible wife/future mother to the children.  Even as I type this, that is not a very accurate way to describe it. It’s just that the energy is not just about sex–it’s about a deeper bonding where the beloved takes on multiple roles, each of them extremely important. If you are familiar with the Maid/Mother/Crone triad seen in matriarchal religions, it’s like that–this is a woman of such powers she juggles various life roles seemingly effortlessly.

Questions for consideration:

1) Think about the women in your life, and their various roles–girlfriend, wife, mother, sister, best friend.  Which relationships are positive and which are negative? What have you learned about being a woman, or relating to women, from these relationships?
2) Who nurtures you in your life? Whom/what do you nurture? What defines “nurturing” for you, as opposed to smothering? On the flip side, who leaves you feeling neglected and abandoned?
3) What creative ideas, projects, or dreams are you incubating? What are some steps you can take to make the dream real, or to move it to the next level?
4) Are there any dreams that you may have abandoned, but still think about? How can you nurture them back to life?

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O’Death

Death is the 13th card in the Major Arcana. We are jumping ahead a bit, but it is Autumn, and we are in the sign of Scorpio, so it is only fitting that we should give Death a little attention.

Creepy Celtic Death is staring at YOU.
Barbara G. Walker’s Death

As you can see in the both the Barbara G. Walker and the Celtic deck, Death is not wearing his customary robe. Yep, he’s just standing there in all his bare-bone glory. And why shouldn’t he? Death is inevitable and sometimes ugly to look at. It’s best to be honest about it. 



However, this card is not so much about literal death as it is about profound change.  Death can actually be a very positive card to receive in a spread. It strips you down to bare-bones basics, slashes and burns with its scythe, and lays the ground for new fertility.  It’s a good card for detoxing.  


Like the sign of Scorpio, the Death card is about rebirth and regeneration.  When a baby is born, the parents “die” in their former identities as people without a child, and they are reborn as mother and father. When two people get married, they cease to be who they were when they were single; they are reborn as a couple.  


However, change is not always pleasant. Even good stress can tax the body, and even good changes bring stress.  But Death can bring a calm, dark energy, and energy of rest and respite.  Even though the Tower, or House of God, is the 16th card and comes after Death in the order of the Major Arcana, the vibrations of the Death card can be a balm after the devastating change of the Tower. 

      

The energy of the Death card can be one of peace, an eye in the storm of change. Examine Robin Wood’s Death, above.  What do you notice about it? Do you see any violence, or hopelessness? Or do you see symbols of transformation and purity? 


Now, please don’t think I’m telling you what to see in the cards. As always, go with your first instinct. Go where your eye draws you, and trust your intuition about what it means.  



In the Goddess Deck, the 13th card isn’t even called Death.  It is called Transformation, as you can see, and it is represented by the Shinto goddess of food, Uke Mochi. When Uke Mochi was murdered by the Moon god, Tsukuyomi, her body was transformed into livestock and fields of rice, grains, and beans. Good things come from endings. 


Martha Beck says that all good things can be traced back to a loss. That is the message of the Death card. Peace can be found in the center of the Self during times of change. Change and loss are inevitable, but it makes room for beautiful, vibrant possibility.  

Scorpio

Scorpio is the sign of people born between October 22 and November 22, but anyone can access Scorpio energy. The animals associated with Scorpio are the Scorpion, the Eagle, and the Phoenix.

Oh, I love Scorpio. I am a Jupiter in Scorpio. Jupiter is the planet of luck, so my luck comes from Scorpio energy. Plus, five of my most favorite people are Scorpios. They are all loving, vibrant people, which is interesting when you think that they are born under the sign that rules death. And sex. Lots of hot sex.

That is because, I think, people misunderstand the archetype of death, and its multiple meanings.  Think of your friendly neighborhood rotting tree stump. It is home to myriad life forms of flora and fauna. They also misunderstand Scorpio. Scorpios are not all sociopathic sex maniacs. They are creative, hilarious, and have great taste in literature. At least, the ones I know and love do. If it helps, John Cleese is a Scorpio.

One meaning for Death is change–a cleansing away of the old for the new, or using the old to nourish new life. Scorpio energy is adept at changing the old and dead into something new and flourishing.

Scorpio is charged with the heavy elements of sex, death, and rebirth. This is why the Phoenix is associated with Scorpio–it dies, but then rises again, from the ashes of the fire that killed it.  Scorpios can take pain and transmute it into something beautiful.

As for sex, the French nicknamed the orgasm “le petite mort” or “the little death.” While Virgo rules the intestines, and cleans up the body, and Libra runs the lower back, keeping the body in balance, Scorpio rules the genitals. Scorpio’s colors are crimson–for blood and passion, and black, for death and the deep mysteries of the subconscious. After all, Scorpio is a water sign, the element associated with the subconscious. Unlike Pisces, however, who rules spiritual secrets about the meaning of life, Scorpio knows all our dirty, sexy little secrets.

Scorpio energy is stereotypically all brooding and aristocratic and eccentric, like famous Scorpios Pablo Picasso, John Keats, and Sylvia Plath. And it can be that way, but it can also be hysterically funny. Come on people, Scorpio energy has to deal with death and rotting and squeamish sex. It’s important to laugh.

Scorpios can be very convincing. This is because the energy, if handled right, can be seductive and magnetic. I find myself telling my Scorpio loved one’s my life’s secrets, while they listen patiently. I have no compunction about this. Healthy Scorpio energy leads to trustworthiness. In myth, people and animals with Scorpio vibes were entrusted to protect and guide the dead. Pluto, the planet that rules Scorpio, is named for the Roman god Pluto, known in Greece as Hades, the King of the Dead. He watched over his people in Elysium (Heaven), Asphodel Meadows (Greek purgatory) and Tarturus (Greek Hell).  Scorpio energy is good to have presiding over you during a soul crisis, or a “Dark Night of the Soul,” as St. Thomas Moore wrote.  This energy can give you courage and strength during scary, painful, and uncertain times. It’s also good to use when your psyche is withholding secrets from you. Since Scorpio rules secrets, it’s pretty good at ferreting them out. Scorpios are known as the Private Eyes and 007s of the zodiac. They also make excellent therapists, because they are naturals as spelunking the subconscious. Sounds fun, huh?

Scorpios are also shamans. They are the shamans who are willing to experience life-in-death for a spiritual vision and awakening. This passion and dedication is an earmark of Scorpio, who doesn’t like anything half-assed, whether it’s sadomasochism, spending, or surprising their friends.

Out of balance Scorpio energy, on the other hand, leads to Charles Manson. It can also flail that tail around and sting people all willy-nilly when it’s pissed. Poison Scorpio energy also tends to use people for sex.

Scorpio associations: Scorpions in Egypt, guarding the tombs of the pharoahs.

The Phoenix

Shamans

Shiva, Hindu god of Destruction, who paves the way for new things

Hecate, goddess of the New Moon, Queen of Witches and Warlocks, specializing in the enchanting of others and channeling the dead.

The Morrigan, the death facet of the Celtic three-faced goddess, and her crows and ravens–traditional messengers of the underworld and harbingers of Death

Anubis, Egyptian god of embalming, who had the head of the Jackal, another animal associated with death and corpses

therapists

spies

compost heaps

How to bring Scorpio energy into your life:

Wear deep red and/or black, especially red and black silk or satin.

Throw out the stuff in your house that you’re not using. Let it die, for God’s sake.

Write down things you want to manifest in your life on a piece of paper, then safely burn it. Trust that these intentions are not released to God or the Universe, and something will rise from the ashes.

Visualize fire and deep, still water

Turn something that angers or terrifies you into something tangible in your mind’s eye. Then, destroy it. Imagine you are Shiva or Hecate. Just obliterate it, and then imagine something you want growing from the carcass, ashes, or empty space. You can also do this by writing things down on dishes and breaking them, or tearing up paper, or burning it (again, do this SAFELY, people) if you’re kinesthetic like that. I find I do my best destroying and regenerating in my own brain. I can really let loose that way. But, if you like to crush and rip, you might want to consider making something artistic, like a collage, from your dead stuff.  You can also take an image of something that causes these negative emotions and paint or color over it. Turn the ugly into something beautiful and passionate.

Okay, I’ll say it: have sex. Either solo or with another/others.

Libra: The Sylph

Libra is the sign of people born from September 22 to October 22. It is represented by the scales.

Whenever I think of Libra, I think of grace and beauty, intellectualism and abstract acrobatics, all in equal measure. Like the rose, Libra’s flower, Libra can be soft, sweet, lovely, and romantic. Libra energy is also sylph-like; it is playful, expansive, even flirtatious, just like the fairies that rule the element of air.  However, this energy can also be jagged. This jaggedness is always there in the Shadow Libra, but it is hidden by the radiance of the petals.

Libra energy is one of opposites trying to reconcile. Libra is an air sign; therefore, it is intellectual, and comfortable in the mental realm. Yet, it is the sign of partnerships, romantic and otherwise. This carries with it certain emotional responsibilities, something air energy sometimes finds difficult to mesh with. In fact, it is hard for some Libras to understand that others can have a difficult time detaching from their emotions.

Libra is ruled by Venus. Being ruled by Venus, this energy thrives on harmony, beauty, and luxury. This sounds wonderful, but the problem is that people with this energy, being ruled by air, are acutely aware that facts, those treasures of the intellect, are anything but beautiful and harmonious. Arguing is a catch-22 for Libra. They hate it, because it’s inharmonious and ugly, but at the same time they need to argue what they perceive to be injustice, unfairness, or stupidity. A balanced Libra knows to pick his or her battles.

Balance is the lesson that people with the energy of Libra (and this is not just people with the sun in Libra, but people with other planets in the sign) spend their lives learning. It is very appropriate that Libra is represented by the scales, as people with Libra in their charts thirst for equality. They need to balance their need for partnership with the freedom and individuality of air.  They need to balance cold intellectuality with passion. They need to learn to accept the fact that reality is messy, and life is not fair.

Another thing Libra energy teaches is the need to balance everything out, tally up the pros and cons, hear all the sides of the story, and then make a decision.  Since Libras want life to be fair and for everyone to win, they can spend their lives putting off decision making, preferring instead to weigh, tally, and weigh again. It’s lather, rinse, repeat.   This can be very frustrating, not only for them, but for others around them, who can accuse them of being wishy-washy.

Being wishy-washy is certainly a symptom of Shadow Libra. Because Libra is all about harmony, and this includes aesthetic harmony, Shadow Libra can be quite shallow, only hanging out with A-listers. Wanting to climb the social ladder, because of a mistaken belief that everyone who is rich, famous, and beautiful will have an interior to match the exterior, Shadow Libra can use people, and be snobby. Libras can really hurt, or at least annoy, others with their talent for criticism. Libra betrayal, abandonment, and criticism are the thorns that prick those who are drawn to the beauty of the Libra. Because it is hard for Shadow Libra to understand the emotions of others, they may see another person’s hurt as messy, and something else to criticize. The Libra cannot understand why the person they used, abandoned, or criticized can’t see it from the Libra’s point of view. After all, they were just trying to help! Or, they were just taking an opportunity to advance their status–why do people begrudge them for this?

When Libra energy is healthy, however, it’s wonderful. Libra energy can make logic a thing of beauty. Astronomy and even physics, the very nature of the universe can become symphonic in the eyes of a Libra, and their skill at communicating this beauty passes the loveliness on to you! When they channel their critical eye in a positive manner, Libra can really help others increase the beauty and harmony in their lives, as make-up artists and interior designers.

Libran aesthetics are legendary.  Everything is in balance and in harmony. Contact with good Libra energy is a walk in a Zen garden. Because Libra sees all sides of things, and pays equal attention to hearing all points of view,  they can be very compassionate. This leads them to fruitful careers as lawyers and marriage counselors. Because partnership is so important to a Libra, they will do their best to keep their partner happy, which, for a Libra, should not be too difficult. As an air sign, they can have honey tongues.

I have personal experience with Libra energy, as I am a Mars in Libra. It is very difficult for me to have patience with what I perceive to be injustice and cruelty. I cannot understand why people act as they do, and this drives me crazy, because I NEED to understand. Sometimes there’s no explanation for why people act, and this drives me INSANE. I hate conflict of all kinds, and just give in, even when I know that a person’s actions are unfair, simply to avoid the conflict.  Other people with Libra energy might have the opposite problem–they seek out conflict like miners panning for gold. Others are like me, I think.

Libra archetypes and people:

Dike, the Greek goddess of Justice

Lawyers

Judges

Marriage counselors

Hera, Greek goddess of Marriage

Aphrodite, goddess of Love and Beauty

King Arthur–the legendary king who sought to create Utopia (a place of perfect justice and harmony) in Camelot, and then was crushed by romance.

Interior decorators

Make-up artists

Bringing Libra energy into your life:

1) Think about an area in your life that can use more beauty and/or harmony. This could be as simple as rearranging your living room so there’s less clutter. If you live with people, is there a space you can have that’s just for you, a place you can decorate and arrange for your tastes? It doesn’t have to be huge. This can bring the harmony of Libra energy into your life.

2) Visit a museum or a botanical garden. When was the last time you saw something truly beautiful, and really noticed it?

3) How do you argue?  This is an interesting thing, because of the Libra catch 22. When you argue, do you take the time to see things from the other person’s point of view?  From personal experience, I can tell you it is extremely enlightening spending a day really, actively listening to others.

4) Try this exercise–next time an urge to criticize comes up, compliment the person you were going to criticize. It must be sincere, however. This did my Libra Mars a world of good.

The Magician

Remember, look at the cards. What particular card stands out to you?  What detail about the card stands out to you? What does it mean for you?

The first card in the Tarot deck is the Magician, after the 0 of the Fool.

The Magician is a card of skills, intelligence, and mastery. When the Magician appears, it indicates the ability to manipulate resources to give a desired outcome. The Magician’s strength is more externally focused, though there must be an internal steadiness to tap into the power he represents.
As you can see, in all of the cards (except for Isis) the Magician is surrounded by the symbols of the elements, or suits–the coin for Pentacles (Earth), the staff/baton for Wands (Fire), a sword or dagger for Swords (Air), and a cup for–you’ll never guess–Cups (Water).  The meaning of this is that the Magician, and the person he has come to speak to, currently has a wonderful understanding of the elements and what they symbolize.

Barbara G. Walker Magician
Earth is the element of physical health and strength, stability, comfort, and money (hence the Pentacle embossed coin). This is the element of luxury and security. The Magician can manifest these things. The Pentacle is important, as its points represent the four elements, with spirit at the top.  I think that the Pentacle is a good symbol for Earth, as Earth is a base and harvest ground. The Earth is the mother from which all things come. The Magician also recognizes this, and, if he is a man, he is respects his feminine qualities–intuition and nurturing.
Celtic Magician
The Suit of Wands, represented here with a torch, in Barbara Walker’s deck with a baton, and in Robin Wood’s deck with a crystal topped staff, is aligned with the element of Fire. Fire is the element of energy and creativity. It has the potential to create and cleanse, but the also the potential to lose control and destroy.  The Magician knows how to handle this strong, primal energy. Fire is a masculine element, and the phallic symbol of the wands is quite appropriate. It is the “spark” of inspiration. If you see the Magician, then your spark is going to ignite! As Earth is feminine, and the Magician appreciates feminine qualities, he or she also is comfortable with “masculinity”–the assertive motions and energy–and knows how to use them.
Robin Wood Magician
If you look closely at the Robin Wood Magician, you will see that on the table in front of him is a sword crossing a wand. Swords are associated with the element of Air, the realm of intellectualism, abstract thought, and ideas. The Sword is also a teacher of hard truths–lessons learned through tough times. It cuts to the heart of the matter. It penetrates below the surface (hee hee, phallic talk). Air is considered a “masculine” element as well, along with fire. Air can move anywhere, and “flights of fancy” can lead to great breakthroughs! The Magician is comfortable with abstract ideas. He or she is intellectual, and moves below the surface to sniff out truth.  Also, the Magician is strong enough to appreciate tough times, and be grateful for the lessons that they teach.  However, what should balance out intellectualism? Can anyone guess?
 Isis, the Magician of the Kris Waldherr Goddess Deck
If you answered emotion to the above question, then you would be right! The Magician’s Cup represents the element of Water. Water is a feminine element. This association has been around since antiquity, Poseidon notwithstanding. When someone dreams about water, it symbolizes the unconscious. The unconscious is a realm typically associated with the feminine, probably because the womb was/is considered a mysterious place. The ocean is a place that is deep and mysterious, about as mysterious as outer space, and about as mysterious as what we have lurking and roiling around all willy-nilly in our subconscious! (subconsciouses? subconsci?) Water is the element of the subconscious, dreams, emotions, and compassion. It is kind, and its creativity is more like a flow than a spark. However, Water has its dark side, too. It hides nasty beasties that can bite your ass off. It can, and will, flood and drown and wash away, both good and bad. But it’s also very useful for washing away impurities. The Magician works with water, using it to cleanse and purify. The good Magician is also compassionate and empathetic, with him/herself as well as others.  The Magician is also friends with the subconscious, and uses dreams as tools to further self-knowledge as well as knowledge about the world.
In the Barbara Walker and Robin Wood decks, you may notice the infinity symbol. The infinity symbol represents the absolutely bottomless reservoir of knowledge that is available to us, and the limitless capacity of human creativity.
You may be asking why Kris Waldherr chose Isis to represent the Magician in her deck. Well, that is because Isis was a Magician. Her skill as a Magician brought Osiris back from the dead. It enabled her to ensure that Egypt was peaceful and prosperous.
Besides Isis, people and animals that I associate with the Magician are anything or anyone that can transform and/or master the world around them. Alchemists, those scientists reputed to be able to turn common metals into gold, are Magicians. Thoth, the Egyptian god who invented hieroglyphics, was also a Magician–and if writing isn’t magical, I don’t know what is.
Jesus Christ, I think, is a wonderful example of a Magician. As 100% divine, as well as 100% human, he shows the perfect balance of these attributes, of masculine and feminine energies, and all the strengths of all the elements.
Walt Disney was a Magician, and so was Jim Henson.
Obviously, Merlin, Gandalf and Dumbledore are literal Magicians, but they also show mastery of aspects of the human condition–intellect and emotion, compassion and invention.
As for animals, butterflies symbolize transformation, like the alchemists, of something simple into something divine.
The Shadow side of the Magician, or the reversed, is someone having trouble mastering a skill, or someone who has mastered skills, but use these skills to cause pain and suffering.  If your Magician turns up reversed, it may mean that you aren’t using your skills to your full potential, or, you’re wasting your skills on something not worth your time.
Questions:
1) Which Magician card stands out to you? What detail, in particular, stands out? what does it mean to you?
2) What element–Earth, Fire, Air, or Water–do you feel most aligned with? How can you maintain that alliance?
3) What element do you feel misaligned with? How can you forge a better cooperation with the element?
4) What skills do you have, and love to use? Do you get ample opportunities to use these? If not, how can you make these opportunities?
5) What skills would you like to master?
6) Who or what do you think represents the Magician?
Please read and respond!
Love, Kathy

And We Begin Our Journey

Before we start,  I would like to talk about how to read the cards.  Taking on the reading of the cards may be overwhelming, like learning a whole new language.One of my best teachers in this was a woman named Kafi Gaultier, who gave me a reading at the Higher Self bookstore in Traverse City, MI.  She told me that she learned by taking a card out in the morning, and meditating on it. She gave me these questions to consider:
1) What detail of the card stands out to you?
2) What does the detail mean to you?
3) What is the card trying to tell you?
Put these questions in the crock-pot in the kitchen of your mind and just go on about your day. At the end of the day, look at the card again. Did anything happen to you that made you think of the card, or is symbolized by the card? What is the card trying to tell you now?
She highly recommended keeping a journal for insights. A card’s meanings can change with the day.The first card in the Tarot deck is The Fool. It is the zero point (literally, as it is not technically card number 1, but card 0), and the vector from which the human consciousness travels.

The Fool, by Barbara G. Walker

Why is The Fool 0, and not 1?  Without zero, there can be no tens, hundreds, or thousands. It is the base of the ladder.

The name is also misleading. The Fool is only naive, ignorant, or stupid in the Shadow, or dark side, of its aspect. The light side of the Fool is a new baby. Babies are not stupid; they simply are completely blank. everything they see and experience as they grow is a gentle brushstroke on a palette–sometimes those brushstrokes are primary colors (colors we can safely associate with the Fool, because they are the bases from which all other colors are created), sometimes soft pastels, and sometimes slashes of black ink. There is still a lot of white space between these contrasts.  All these colors and empty spaces paint a personality.  The Fool, then, is a clean sheet of paper–full of possibilities.

The Celtic Fool, Illustrated by Mary Guinan

When the Fool comes to visit someone who sees herself as jaded or in pain, it is very comforting. In these circumstances, the Fool is fresh, clean snow. This blanket of snow is cleansing and helps the dead mulch of sadness or anger or past mistakes break down into fodder for the flowers of a happy springtime.

The Fool can also be enterprising and adventurous. The Fool reminds us that we can take risks, and try new things.  The Fool trusts in the universe. Because the Fool is a beginner, she has no worries.

Speaking of beginnings–Zen masters have a little something they like to call “Beginner’s Mind.” This mind is pure. This concept is extremely comforting to me because I am a perfectionist. When I started taking ballet again a few years ago, it was very difficult for me. I felt clumsy, which is natural when you’re stumbling around like a drunken donkey. It took practice to let myself be a beginner. I think there’s some shame in it, especially in a perfectionist world, which doesn’t acknowledge the obvious fact that people generally are not experts at something the first time they do it. However, in Zen, as well as yoga, the Beginner’s Mind is sacred, because it is not clouded with preconceptions. Preconceptions limit possibilities, which the Fool is full of! The Fool is always willing to learn and experience!

The Fool can also mean coming of age–coming into independence and a personal philosophy. It can represent a new, idealistic way of looking at things, and of optimism.

The Shadow side of the Fool is recklessness and willful ignorance, and unwillingness to learn and grow. It may also mean limited thinking, and being blind to possibilities. The Shadow can also be manifested as youthful narcissism.

Archetypes and people I associate with The Fool: A young person going on a quest, like Sir Gawain. New babies. Mulan, with her creativity and willingness to start at the bottom, also, because she was motivated by love, and not pride.  Pip, from Great Expectations. Miaka, from Fushigi Yugi, and Kagome from Inuyasha.  Young Simba. Spongebob and Chowder (yeah, I said it. They do things out of love, not pride).

Shadow: Holden Caulfeld. People who shoot down every idea for “being impractical.” People who have such strong attachment to their ideals, they think anyone who doesn’t share them is evil. People who may be a tad over-impulsive.

And now for the questions. Please feel free to comment with your answers to the questions, or with insights you may have had looking at the cards. In fact, I would greatly love it if people would!

1) Which version of the three pictures of the Fool really speaks to you?
2) What detail stands out to you in the card you picked? For example, is it the little dog, or the brightness of the clothes? Is there more than one detail? How do they relate?
3) What does the detail mean to you? For example, the little dog may symbolize loyalty, or playfulness, or a dog you love. The red and white of Barbara G. Walker’s fool may seem interesting to you because red, which you associate with fire, is in such harmony with white, which you associate with snow. Going further, what do snow and fire mean to you?
4) Think about beginnings in your life. Do they frighten or excite you? How do you react to them? Is there a better way?
5) How do you feel about having a Beginner’s Mind? Have you been willing to sacrifice being perfect at something to do it for the love of it?
6) How do you solve problems? What is your strategy for generating possibilities, both creative and practical?
7) Who and/or what are your archetypes for The Fool?
8) What past mistakes or pain can you turn into mulch for something positive? Can you turn it into creative expression, or a way to help people? What can you do to cleanse yourself of shame and regret? Meditate on the Fool’s energy to help you with this.

Virgo: the Hermione Granger of the Zodiac

Virgo (August 22-September 22) is the sign of the Virgin.
It is ruled by Mercury (the planet of communication, travel, and the intellect) and aligned with the element of Earth (an element that grants practicality, reliability, material wealth, physical strength, patience, fertility, and a love of beauty).
Virgo’s colors are deep, dark green, in keeping with fertility, navy blue for a grounded intellect, and gray for the mutability, or flexibility, of the folks of this sign.

Virgos are the Hermione Grangers of the Zodiac.  Since they are ruled by Mercury, they are able to communicate quickly and efficiently.  However, this intellect (an area ruled by intangible air) is grounded by Virgos being aligned with the element of Earth.  This makes them reliable, practical, and always prepared.

Earth is what we stand on. It is always there, and we don’t question its ability to provide for us. The Earth is rich and dark, and full of the materials we find valuable. Virgo, being an Earth sign, can embody these same qualities. However, Virgos should not be taken for granted. Like the Earth, they have a core of passion, however deeply buried. Also, like the Earth, they have a mysterious interior that belies their steady, productive exteriors.

The Earth is associated with the feminine–think Mother Earth–and thus with the subconscious. In dreams, caves are associated with plumbing the subconscious, and getting to know oneself better. Virgos have fertile imaginations, even though they may prefer to use their imaginations for practical matters.

The archetypes/people I associate with Virgo are the Healer (particularly traditional healers), the Inventor, the Farmer, and, of course, Hermione Granger.  The sign of Virgo combines the nurturing quality of Earth with the inventiveness of Mercury, so Virgo is good at turning compassion into practical action to help people. Because of Mercury’s energetic mind and Earth’s preference for the concrete, Virgo can make plans into reality. Virgo is patient, and doesn’t mind waiting for a crop, literal or figurative, to grow.

A Virgo out of balance can become obsessive-compulsive and hyper-critical of themselves and others. They can have a tendency to nag, and can be quite sarcastic (as all air signs can).  Think of Hermione Granger at her best, and at her worst. At her best, she is prepared for any emergency, and ingenious at solving problems. She wants to help people, and is steadfast and loyal.  At her worst, she is a prim, irritating know-it-all.

Raven Kaldera, in his amazing book, Mythastrology: Exploring Planets and Pantheons, writes that a Sun in Virgo is best represented by Hestia, the Greek goddess of the Hearth. Hestia is a Virgin goddess, and Virgo is, well, you probably figured it out.  Like Hestia, Virgo takes care of the day-to-day chores we all find boring. Virgo is the planet of details, of perfectionism (Kaldera 25).  Though Virgo is sometimes taken for granted, its energy is comforting, reliable, and even Zen. Whatever you’re doing, you should do it at your best.

Questions for reflection:
1) How can you turn the chores of your day-to-day, week-to-week life into an opportunity for meditation, pride, or even enjoyment?
2) How do you combine innovation (the intellect of Mercury) with concrete practicality (the strength of Earth)? Do you spend too much time doing routine tasks and not enough creating something new that may delight you? Do you have ideas, but never take the time to make them real?
3) Where are you on the perfectionist scale? Do you believe everything has to be perfect? Where can you find the balance? What things can you just “let go”?

P.S. You MUST get Raven Kaldera’s book.

Archetypes

Archetypes

Before I get into any in-depth discussion about the cards or astrological signs, I want to talk a little bit about archetypes.Carl Jung, a contemporary of Freud, was the psychiatrist who first explained archetypes. Archetypes are manifestations of the collective unconscious, or, they are certain tropes (metaphoric symbols) we, as human beings, all can identify and share in.

Because that explanation was a tad convoluted, let me use examples.  Let’s say you’re reading a book of fairy tales (and you should!) and you notice that the Wicked Stepmother is a popular villain. In fact, you take for granted that if a stepmother appears in a fairy tale, she is wicked. All your friends do, as well. That is because the Wicked Stepmother is an archetype. We have subconsciously agreed, as a culture, that the Wicked Stepmother can reappear in various forms in our literature, and we have integrated her into our psychology.

On the other hand, let’s think about the Wise Grandmother. What does the Wise Grandmother look like? What does she do? Ask your friends about this. Chances are, there may be slight variations, but your Wise Grandmothers will be very similar.

There’s also the Evil Sorcerer, the Wicked Witch, the Good Witch, the Vagabond, the Thief with a Heart of Gold, the Trickster, and the Big Bad Wolf. We could brainstorm for a long time.

A good writer is able to take archetypes and make them fresh, and yet still identifiable to our psyches. One of reasons fairy tales, myths, and legends are so popular and enduring is because of these archetypes. They are such a part of us and our personalities, yet they are flexible enough to be reinterpreted. They are very adaptable to different cultures and epochs.

The reason I bring this up is because Tarot cards, as well as the astrological signs, are shaped, I believe, from these archetypes. These archetypes are a part of us. We know them. For example, one Wicked Stepmother in my life is a former co-worker who was a bully. My Knight is my fiance, J.

Taking over from Jung’s legacy are two very cool women, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Caroline Myss. Caroline Myss has greatly shaped my world view. Here is a brief rundown of some of her concepts, from Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential, published in 2002 by Three Rivers Press.
Caroline Myss postulated that our personalities are composed of archetypes such as the Knight in Shining Armor, the Damsel in Distress, etc. In fact, we all have the archetypes of the Child (and it’s various forms), the Prostitute, the Victim, and the Saboteur.  All of these archetypes seem quite negative, but we all have them. Think of the times you may have been a Prostitute. Did you have sex to feel better about yourself? Did you stay in a job you hated because of the money? The Prostitute governs our physical security (Myss 118). As for the Victim, have you ever used any personal pain, knowingly, to get people to react a certain way? Have you held on to anger you feel toward people who hurt you, even though the slight took place years ago? The Victim has an important role. It is a protector. It also measures how much you are willing to give up personal responsibility and independence, which are scary things (116).

The Saboteur is evident when you turn down an opportunity out of fear of loss of security (Myss 122). I myself had my Saboteur step in recently. It is quite frustrating.

We all have heard the term “Inner Child,” the reflection of our pasts and our attitudes about love and safety (Myss 112).  The Child has several manifestations: the Wounded Child, the Abandoned/Orphan Child, the Nature Child, the Innocent Child, and the Divine Child (112).

There is one last archetype we should discuss: The Shadow. The Shadow came about with Jung. It is the “negative,” dark side of all the Archetypes. It is the reversed, or upside down, Tarot card, and the astrological sign out of balance.
As we go through the cards, the astrological signs, and our dreams, we will be confronting archetypes and identifying them.

Recommended Resources:
Jung, Carl Gustav. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious 
—Symbols of Transformation 
—Man and his Symbols 
Jung is where it all began. He is the king.

Myss, Caroline.  Anatomy of the Spirit. 
Sacred Contracts 
—Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can 
All of Myss’ books are absolutely incredible. They are fascinating reads and anyone interested in archetypes, as well as healing through the chakras, the Catholic Sacraments, and the Jewish Tree of Life, should definitely read them. I’ve used her work as resources in my paper about the archetypes in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.

Pinkola-Estes, Clarissa. Women Who Run with the Wolves.
Oh, this book rocks. It’s all about fairy tales and how women can use them to heal. Pinkola-Estes is a top Jungian analyst, but her work is extremely accessible.

See you soon! Next time we will begin our journey, and learn about Virgo, the sign we are in now 🙂

My Decks, and what I use them for

My Decks, and What I Use Them For

There are many, many decks out there. These are my decks. They are the decks you will see on the Turtlephoenix blog.
The first deck is the Robin Wood deck. Oh, how I love this deck. The artwork is gorgeous, and every tiny detail carries symbolic significance. It is extremely user friendly, and good for both novices and experts alike.

Robin Wood Fool. Artwork owned by Robin Wood www.robinwood.com
I cannot recommend the Robin Wood deck enough. It is available at The Next Millennium, the best metaphysical store in the world ever.
The next deck I have is my Celtic deck.  This deck is designed by Julian De Burgh, and comes with a book explaining the images. Each person on the cards is actually a Celtic historical or mythological figure, which makes it very fun and valuable for a Celtic-phile like me.
The pencil drawings by Mary Guinan are beautiful and match the theme. It reminds me fairy tale books.
The next deck is the Barbara G. Walker deck. This deck is more of an acquired taste. It’s like the red wine and dark chocolate of tarot decks. The images can be sometimes menacing. However, it is that mystery that surrounds the images that make it appealing, at least to me.  Plus, it’s very educational–Barbara G. Walker is an expert on ancient goddess religions. I recommend her books: The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, and The Women’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. I’ve put both of my copies to good use writing papers for English courses.
Artwork by Barbara G. Walker
My newest deck is The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr.  I’ve been wanting this deck for a long time, because the colors are beautiful, and each card is represented by a goddess. For example, The Fool, called Beginnings, is represented by the Tibetan Goddess Tara.
Artwork by Kris Waldherr
Anyway, these are the decks I will be using, and the decks I recommend.
Now, a little about the Tarot. A Tarot deck is composed of the Major Arcana–cards 0 through 21–and the Minor Arcana, consisting of four suits of 14 cards each. Four of those cards are “royalty”–a King, a Queen, a Knight (or a Prince, in some decks), and a Page (or Princess).  I will go through these cards on the blog.  I will discuss the card, and then ask some questions that will hopefully help you connect to the cards.
I use the cards as a psychological tool as much as a prognostic one. In the details of the cards are clues to how you’re feeling, and offers insights to your life–past, present, and future.

Welcome to the blog!

I want to give a shout out to everybody reading this first post. Howdy to friends from Facebook. Salutations to Tarot Scholars, Zodiac Freaks, and Spelunkers of the Subconscious.  

 
Since I was little, I have been fascinated with the concept of precognition and, indeed, anything paranormal. As a child, I wanted to learn as much as I could about telekinesis, psychic abilities, and Berserkers (and demonic possession, but that’s for another time).  When I was 15, I bought my first deck of Tarot cards, and I fell in love. I see Tarot as a psychological tool, as useful as a Rorschach test (if not more so).  There are many facets and uses for Tarot cards, and I hope to talk about them in this blog. 
 
Around the same age I got into Tarot cards, I began to seriously study the Zodiac. The three sentence horoscope in the daily paper, I believe, does not do astrology much justice. I see the Zodiac as a system of archetypes (I will discuss that too, don’t worry!),  and, as such, it can be useful for self-knowledge and healing. As a side note, I will refer to the Zodiac sign formerly known as Cancer, and the people who dwell in it, as Luna, Moon Children (Moonies), as well as Cancer. This is not to be arrogant, as I know Cancer is the name this sign has been called for millennia. It’s just that I feel we poor Cancers have enough to deal with, what with having the reputations of being emotional and soggy and clingy, and having an animal associated with pubic lice as our mascot, without having to deal with the stigma of having the same name as a terrible disease.  That’s just me. It’ll be hard to break the habit, but I will try. 
 
Of course, everyone dreams, even if we don’t remember it in the morning. I believe science should invent a device that records dreams, but until then, we’ll just have to keep those notebooks and pens by our pillows! Dreams are universal, and what makes them so wonderful is that they connect us (as we all dream) while at the same time underscoring our individuality.  Let’s discuss dreams here, shall we? 
 
Now, I know the question on your minds, which is, “Kathy, what thehell is a Turtlephoenix?” Well, a Turtlephoenix is simply a chimera of my two of my favorite animals (I have others, but these two resonate with me the most).  Turtles I associate with wisdom and the sign of Luna, as it carries its shell on its back, and thus is always nice and snug at home. They are associated with both water and earth, which are feminine elements.  According to the Ojibwe of Michigan, a turtle was responsible for carrying the newborn earth on its back. It is a nurturing creature. Plus, they’re very cute, what with their little smiles, and their funky back patterns. 
The Phoenix is very personal for me as a healing symbol. Phoenixes (Phoeni?) show the cycle of life–you have cold, ashen times, and blazing, healthy, happy times, and both are necessary. They are beautiful and their tears heal wounds. They balance turtles because they symbolize the elements of air and fire. They are adventurous, at least to me, and they symbolize nobility and bravery. 
 
So, there we are. Next updates, I will be taking about the Tarot and what to use it for, my different decks (they come in different flavors), and archetypes (which are necessary to understand many things).