Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Beltane


I’m not sure why but I’m particularly looking forward to Beltane this year.  Normally it’s a bittersweet sabbat for me as it also happens to be my birthday and I struggle against getting older.  That’s a topic for another blog post though.  This year I’m really looking forward to it and I think it’s because my Witchlings are really psyched about it this year.  Normally our Beltane activities take a backseat to my birthday because we have my non-pagan family over, which makes it kind of hard to celebrate.

This year things will be different because the Witchlings want a bigger Beltane celebration.  I think this is partly because I do what is basically a home Sunday school for them and our topic lately has been the eight sabbats.  For their age group (three and six) I focus more on the faery aspect than the fertility aspect but I do delicately include both.  When I talk about fertility with them we discuss the fertile earth and growing things.   I do not take the view expressed in the book Celebrating the Great Mother A Handbook of Earth Honoring Activities for Parents and Children.  In fact I don’t recommend the book at all.  I’ve seen it recommended all over the web, which is why I bought it.  I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to find that the Beltane section revolved around sex.  Now I believe in having open dialogues with children but my children at three and six are not ready to discuss sex and until they are I’m not going to push the topic on them.  If you feel as I do then I recommend the book Circle Round Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.  The explanation of Beltane given there suits the way I discuss things with my children much more eloquently.  As part of celebrating the fertility of Beltane we’ll be making a trip to the greenhouse and picking something to bring home and plant.

We’ve also talked about different kinds of fae that they may see and if the weather is good we’ll go to the park for them to do some faery watching.  Every year we leave an offering for the fae, in years past it’s been an offering of milk in the garden.  This year our six-year-old wants to make my birthday cake and leave some of it for the faeries.  I’m glad he’s getting involved and wanting to enrich our traditions.  There aren’t many GOOD books on the fae; the best one I can recommend for you to share with your children is The Faery Garden by Beatrice Phillpotts.  It is intended for adults but there are stories about faeries you can share with your children and instructions for planting your own faery garden which children love being involved in.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tarot Lesson 6


Now we get down to what you’re really here for, reading the cards.  You’ve done all your homework and you’ve set the mood.  The first thing you’ll need to do is decide what layout or spread you want to use.  You’ll find spreads in the pamphlet that came with your deck.  If you visit my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ravenrin, and go to photos, albums, tarot, you’ll find an album with several different spreads.  You can also type the words “tarot card spreads” into a Google image search.  Find one that speaks to you.  I learn new spreads by using note cards.  I turn them the same direction as the tarot cards and write on the bottom what that position means.  I then lay out the note cards and then lay out the tarot cards over the note cards for easy reference.

Before I begin a reading I do the following chant by Eliza Fegley while holding the cards in my hands.   You can choose any sort of blessing or chant you like.  It’s important to do something like this, it serves as a trigger for your abilities and it lets Spirit know you are open to receive messages.

Cards of Fortune.
Visions past and
Sights of future.
Guide my thoughts
Upon this night
And show the pathway
Clear and bright.

Second I shuffle the cards and then I deal them out.  This is a little different from the norm because I do most of my readings by phone or online.  If you are reading in person many readers have the client handle the deck in some way.  Some have them shuffle the deck, some just have them “knock” on the deck, and many have them cut the deck before they lay out the spread.  The choice is yours.

When reading the cards you don’t want to simply recite the cards’ meanings.  Tell a story with the cards and don’t be afraid to let your own natural abilities fill in any blanks.  When starting out do readings for friends and family.  You’ll find more people than you think who will want a free reading to let you hone your skills.  I think the most important thing that you and your clients need to understand is that what you see in the cards is not absolute.  The tarot merely tells you what the most likely outcome is if you maintain you current course of action or inaction.  We have the power to change the outcome by making choices. 

Idealy you won’t schedule your readings back to back, though that isn’t always the case.  After I read for someone I perform some deck maintenance by cleansing the cards.  Also I like to ground my energy.  You can do this by touching the ground with the palms of your hands or I release the energy through my feet touching the ground.

How often should you read for a person?  There are differing theories here.  Psychic hotlines will encourage folks to get readings as often as they can.  Even daily.  In my opinion this is not a healthy practice.  My rule is once a month.  If someone is working through a difficult time or a crisis I might say once a week max.

Keep a journal of your readings as I outlined in lesson 1.  When you look back on it you may find that you read better during a certain time of day, during certain weather, in a certain emotional state, or during a certain moon phase.

My last recommendation when learning the tarot is to do a daily draw for yourself.  Make it part of your morning routine and then look for that energy during your day.

With practice reading tarot cards can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Tarot Lesson 5


This lesson is about getting ready to do readings. 

We’ll begin with what I call deck maintenance.  The first thing you want to do is cleanse your cards.  There are many different ways to do this, I will cover my preferred method which is to smudge them.  Light some white sage, either loose leaves or a bundle, and pass the cards a few times through the smoke.  Do this until you feel their energy is clean.  The next part of deck maintenance is to charge your deck.  This is optional but I recommend it.  Again there are countless ways to do this so I’ll just touch on a couple.  The first is to set the cards in the full moon light.  Another is to ground and center, holding the deck to your heart chakra imbue it with your intent.  Lastly, deck maintenance extends to how you store your cards.  I store mine in a wooden box, purchased at a craft store, that I painted.  In the box with my cards I keep a piece of smoky quartz and a piece of Apache tear to keep the deck’s energy clear.  You can store yours in a box or more traditionally in a cloth bag, either is fine.  Just make sure to store them in a safe dry place.  Treat them with respect.  Deck maintenance is something you will need to keep up with for your cards to work properly.

I’ll note here that there is a myth that your tarot cards must be given to you as a gift and you can’t purchase them on your own.  It is just that, a myth.  For more on this topic and how to choose a deck for yourself visit my post on the subject at http://ravenrinspagannest.blogspot.com/2014/09/tarot-gifting-myth.html.

Now let’s set the mood.  I think the most important thing is not to go overboard.  You don’t want your client to be distracted by an overwhelming d├ęcor and not be able to focus on what they are there for, your reading.  You should do your readings in a quiet, comfortable, safe space.  Setting the mood means different things to different people so try different things.  Keep what enhances your readings and leave out everything else. 

Some ways to set the mood…
Music (played low)
Incense or sage
Candles
Dimmed lighting
Crystals

You may have a certain style of clothing you like to wear or maybe a perfume.  When it comes to smells (incense, sage, perfume) remember less is more and there are people that are allergic to such things.  Honestly you can read tarot just about anywhere but you may find that certain mood enhancers also enhance your readings.

When you are ready, move on to lesson 6.

Tarot Lesson 4


Lesson 4 is a series of exercises created to deepen your connection with and understanding of your cards.

First is the good card/bad card exercise.

Go through your deck and pull out any card that you associate as all good or all bad.  Pick a card to start with.  Look at that card and try to find a way or situation in which that card’s meaning could be the opposite of your impression.  For example there are many people who think of Death as a bad card.  It represents a change, and not a little change but one that is definitely going to have an impact on our life.  Human beings tend not to like change, we find it uncomfortable by and large, but the change may be needed in order to improve things.  So while we might see it as a bad card in the long run it can serve us well.  Do this for each card you think of as all good or all bad.

There are going to be cards that you have more difficulty remembering.  Besides looking at the card and reciting the meanings there are two exercises I recommend.

Here is the first problem card exercise.

Look at the card and its meanings.  Now look at the card and write a story about it including all of its meanings.

The second problem card exercise.

Set up a space for meditation.  Look at the card and review the meanings.  Now close your eyes and try to visualize the card with your third eye.  Let any impressions that come to you just flow as you visualize the card.  Do this for as long as you feel necessary. 

The last exercise we’ll go over here is a creative writing exercise.

Shuffle your deck of cards and draw one from the top.  This is where your story begins.  When your ready draw another card.  It is what happens next.  Keep drawing and writing until you feel the story is complete.

When you are ready, move on to lesson 5.

Tarot Lesson 3


Welcome to lesson three, in which we will discuss some correspondences.  If you use the internet or the pamphlet that came with your deck you may find just the meanings for each individual card and not extra things like how to interpret multiples.  Here are some other correspondences you may want to add to your readings.

Elements

Earth ~ pentacles
Air ~ swords
Fire ~ wands
Water ~ cups

The General Meanings of the Elements

Earth ~ north, the Crone, strength, physical energies
Air ~ east, intellect, thought, mental energies
Fire ~ south, the God, passion, drive, creative energies
Water ~ west, the Mother, love, nurturing, emotional energies

Cards & Timing (at least three cards)

Pentacles ~ midnight, winter, a year or more
Swords ~ morning, spring, weeks
Wands ~ noon, summer, days
Cups ~ evening, autumn, months

Multiples (at least three cards)

Ace ~ new beginnings, initiation
2 ~ balance, conflict, division
3 ~ career, things coming together
4 ~ attainment, completion
5 ~ fulfillment
6 ~ decisions
7 ~ change
8 ~ communication
9 ~ new path
10 ~ success

Page ~ news, young people
Knight ~ action, movement, direction
Queen ~ authority, women
King ~ power, men

Some texts like Tarot for the Green Witch include further correspondences.  I find these cumbersome and they don’t work for my reading style.  You on the other hand may find correspondences such as relationships between cards and numerology helpful.  If you do then Tarot for the Green Witch is a good book for you.

When you are ready, move on to lesson 4.

Tarot Lesson 2



Whether you are relying heavily on psychic abilities or not you will need to memorize the meanings of the cards.  With 78 cards in the deck this can seem like a daunting, overwhelming, and impossible task.  I know that’s how I felt when I was given my first deck at sixteen.  “There’s no way I’m going to remember all this,” I thought, but I kept at it.  When I started tarot reading, the internet was in it’s infancy and it would be two years before my family had its own computer and three until we went online.  Finding information about Tarot was hard and my first and only source of information was The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite.  Today there are countless books and internet sources for you to find the meanings of the cards.  If you want to invest in a book I recommend Waite’s aforementioned book or Tarot for the Green Witch by Ann Moura.  A good online resource is http://www.salemtarot.com/tarotmeanings.html.  Don’t overlook the booklet that came with your tarot deck.   Practically, it is best to use a combination of sources to gather the meanings of the cards.  In the interest of time and format I will not be printing out the meanings of the cards here.  Part of your homework is to seek out the meanings for yourself.

Now for the fun stuff.  Let’s actually start working with the cards.  Take your time and look at each card in your deck.   What is your first impression of the card?  What symbols do you see in it?  What is the mood or tone?  You can write these in your journal if you like and then as you begin to gather your list of meanings you can compare your impressions to what you find.

You are never going to be able to memorize every meaning that everyone has associated with each card.  This is how I compiled my list of meanings.  Choose at least two sources for your list of meanings.  Take things one card at a time.  Look at the card as you consult each of your sources one at a time.  What meanings ring true to you?  Trust your gut.  In your journal write what meanings you choose next to each card.  It is up to you if you write out long winded meanings or if you use keywords.  I use keywords and let my natural psychic ability use those as triggers. You may choose to include some of your first impressions here even if they aren’t in any of your sources.  You are developing your own personal language so that your deck can communicate with you.  A note on reversals…I and many other readers don’t use them at all.  The evidence actually suggests that the concept is relatively new and was not used in earlier forms of card divination.  This is a perfectly valid way to read the Tarot.  Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.  So use reversals or don’t, it’s about developing your personal style of reading.

Once you’ve compiled your list it’s time to start learning the meanings.  Learning 78 cards is not something you will do in a snap, it is a task that you need to break into smaller and more manageable pieces.  This is what I recommend.  First separate the major and minor arcana.  Then separate each suit in the minor arcana.  Personally I think it’s easier to learn the major arcana first but you start where you see fit.   Look at a card and recite the meaning.  Look for details in the card’s artwork that you can associate with its meanings.  Do this at least three times before moving on to the next card.  Keep working like this all the way through the major arcana, I can’t tell you how long this process will take as it is very individual.  When you find that you can recite the meanings, without looking, shuffle the cards and then go through them one at a time.  Eventually you will have the major arcana memorized.  Then pick a suit and do the same with it, moving on to the next suit at your own pace.  Before starting a new chunk of the cards go through the ones you’ve previously memorized to reinforce the work you’ve already done.  Once you feel that you know the cards pretty well shuffle the whole deck together and go through it one card at a time reciting the meanings.  When you are learning you should take your deck out and do this at least once a day.

This is how I memorized the deck, but not everyone learns in the same way.  If you know this isn’t compatible with how you learn then devise a way that fits your learning style.

When you feel you are ready, move on to lesson 3.

Tarot Lesson 1


I am doing a short course on learning to read Tarot.  Though I’m writing it for beginners, experienced readers can make use of the exercises as well.  The course will be divided into six lessons that are intended for you to work through at your own pace.

For this course you will need:
Traditional tarot deck of your choice
Three ring binder
A notebook

Let us begin lesson one, an introduction, which will get us ready to begin to work with our cards in lesson two.

The art of reading tarot is popular among present day Pagans, but the tarot’s history is shrouded in mystery and no one really knows its origins.  Here are some facts we do know.  Reading cards for divination has been a practice of Romany Gypsies for centuries.
It is commonly theorized that today’s deck got its earliest beginnings from the 15th century Italian card game Tarocchi.  In the 18th century tarot was propelled forward by French psychics, who believed that the deck had its origins in Egypt.  There is absolutely no evidence to support their belief.  The ceremonial magicians (Masons, the Grand order of the Rose, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) of the 19th century brought the deck even closer to what we know today.  Which is a 78 card deck consisting of 22 cards in the major arcane and 56 cards in the minor arcane.  Any deck set up in this manor will work for this course.

When thinking about learning the tarot, the first and foremost question people ask is, “Do I need to be psychic to read tarot cards?”  The answer is we all have some level of psychic ability.  Some of us will use a high level of psychic ability when reading the cards and some will rely heavily on the memorized meanings of the cards.  The important thing is practice.  Just the act of reading the cards exercises your psychic abilities and overtime if you put in the work you will improve.

I recommend that you keep two journals for this course.  In your three ring binder you will keep things like the meanings of the cards, card blessings, and card layouts.  In your tablet keep records of your workings with your cards and your readings.  For each reading you do I recommend you keep the following information; date, time, weather, emotions, layout, question, what cards were drawn, and your interpretation of the reading.

Before you begin the course work I suggest that, if you haven’t already, you get a professional reading.  Just to give you a feel for how a reading works.

When you are ready, move on to lesson two.  Where we will begin the meat of the course.