January Creative Practice & astrology

This post is a record of part of my January creative practice for In The Stars, an online class created by Hali Karla for art journaling and learning astrology.




Two sides of one being
The ascendant and the sun signs
the lively twins of Gemini and the twain fishes eternally swimming apart together

Among the vast multitudes of my being,
these form
Blue mountains
Green valleys
under a golden sun
Nurtured and protected by shining bright wings of Anahata

Creating and dissolving connections, alliances,
in the quest for illumination

This is the first layer of their dance.



The next layer:



Cycles of the Self: ROOTS SPREAD

This post is for the Instagram #ShadowWorkOctober: Cycles of the Self
ROOTS SPREAD, created by @mnomquah.

I’m writing about my cards for the Root Spread, part of the shadow work for the first week of October.

Some of this shadow work goes into terra incognita, some into terra “avoida.”  I am very grateful for the thoughtful path that @mnomquah has made for this shadow work, and I’m going to explore, wherever it takes me.

After I laid the cards out, I just sat there not turning over card #1. So I followed my curiosity and turned over the tenth card first. (In the spread, it’s the one by itself in the middle at the top.) I was almost relieved and not astonished to see the 10 of Swords.  Well, I thought, that makes a surprising amount of sense.


I proceeded to turn the cards over, one by one. For some of the cards, I felt like my hidden, inner thoughts/feelings had been read, and the thoughts/feelings then felt validated. This was particularly true for #2, 3, and 10.

The order of the cards is this:


At first I was put off by how little meaning I could make from some of the cards— #1, 4, 5, and 7 in particular. “Reshuffle and draw again,” urged the part of my brain that was saying “Too hard, don’t understand enough…”  But considering how weird, yet fitting card #10 and #3 felt, I decided that my Rider Waite Smith deck deserved my confidence.

I observe that I drew 2 major arcana, 3 cups cards, 4 wands cards, and one sword card.

I have not yet looked at any Tarot references for these cards. I will probably do that, but I wanted to use my initial impressions and my intuition first.

I found the Ancestors’ cards easier to work with than Family or Elders. I know almost nothing about who my Ancestors are, so I felt more free to take seriously what I was perceiving/imagining. For example, for #9, I imagined that man talking to me, his future great-great-great-great granddaughter, encouraging me to remove the chain I wear in #3. For #8, I imagined someone telling me how this Queen got to be the great soul that she is, and that person believing I could be like her.

The material from this spread is way more private than I normally ever consider posting online. But I decided to post my initial responses as they arose. I’ve benefited from brave, vulnerable sharing by others, so I make the intention of offering similar help. I have not edited what I wrote for clarity either. I apologize that it will inevitably have confusing or ambiguous parts; the point of view shifts frequently, and some metaphors are quite painfully mixed.

1. Family Shadow: immediate family’s burden of shadow we carry.
XIV Temperance
trying to make a new thing out of old?
perfection? since I always love this card?
I see Temperance as a great card. I’m working on putting aside my prior experience with this card so that I can see how it shows me a burden of shadow. For now, the only perception I have that makes sense to me is the burden of trying to make everything flow perfectly and effortlessly, being as perfect as an angel….  and like an angel, never doing anything wrong. Or hide anything that isn’t perfect so you can sustain the impression that there is nothing not perfect….

2. Family Core: upbringing, tradition.
6 of Cups
be nice; remain a child— do not even think about being a worthy adult; you’re on your own as a child; accept what you’re given— do not search for more. Look around you: you have everything you need, a beautiful home and nice family. You should not want anything other than these lovely flowers in these perfect cups.

3. Family Light: immediate family’s strengths and valuable traits we carry.
XV the Devil
You can escape. You are not as trapped as you feel, as you look, as you think you are. The god you were not then ready to meet was a devil in your sight. Look within to see how this feared one transforms into some of what you seek. Look within and you may see the Devil has become the angel on the card of Judgment or the angel on the card of the Lovers.

4. Elders Shadow: grandparents’ and elders’ of the family burden of shadow we carry.
4 of Cups
You have some good choices. Your fear, your shame, your fear of shame, and your need to master perfection keep you from reaching for what may not be the perfect cup. (What will people think if you choose wrong?) Share strength drawn from the Tree of Life at your back and take action; risk is part of life, and “failure” is not to be feared. You will always be able to find another cup.

5. Elders Core: lineage / family wisdom.
9 of Wands
hard work, guard what you have worked to gain; injury is part of the deal? Life is difficult, dangerous.  I am really not at all sure about this one. The little I know of my grandparents does not connect with this card yet. Maybe when I read some Tarot resources, that will help.

6. Elders Light: grandparents’ and elders’ of the family strengths and valuable traits we carry.
9 of Cups
actually achieving without having it slip through one’s hands?

You have such richness of resource, such potential for emotional depth, for compassion. No longer allow yourself to remain under the domination of the guard in the courtyard of the 6 of Cups, accepting only what is given to you and remaining inside the walls.
We worked hard in our time. Few of us drank freely and deeply at the well of the Tree of Life; we took its branches, and we built this life for you.
You, now, turn; turn around and drink. You may sate your deepest thirst, and there will still be more than enough for you, and enough to share.

7. Ancestors Shadow: the burden of shadow we carry from our ancestry for
4 of Wands
do what is expected; fit in: that is the route to happiness? Do not try to craft your own happiness; what satisfies others, you must also be satisfied with? Also struggling with how this carries a message about Shadow…. Further contemplation leads me to remember that some of the Ancestors were immigrants to the U.S. in the 19th century. Fitting in would have been necessary and also destructive of their own independence of spirit, at least for a time, I think. Not sure if that is the Shadow burden for this card….

8. Ancestors Core: collective wisdom of our ancestry / tribe of origin.
Queen of Wands
You are a great soul. You have allies in the plant and animal world. You have a space of your own with a foundation from which you can act. You are capable of protecting what is yours (standing up for yourself). As the sunflower blooms in the light of the Sun, so it is your nature to grow in the light you live in (I’m thinking of my Pisces sun sign). You are not taking something that is not yours to take, any more than the sunflower stole light from the Sun to energize its growth.

9. Ancestors Light: strengths and valuable traits we carry from our ancestry for generations.
2 of Wands
You are not limited to where you stand at the moment. You look out at a vast world even as you hold its miniature in your hand. You may draw on myriad strands (DNA, Indra’s net) across the eons and galaxies. You have potential that has no limit, neither geographical nor chronological. Immerse yourself; experience all you can and delight in it.

10. The Outcome: who we are as a result of our Roots.
10 of Swords
end of a cycle; great suffering, much of it mental/cerebral; a single body on a deserted shore. This will not go forward to touch another generation.

The 2 of Wands from card #9 returns for a final word: Leave the cup of flowers; slip from the chain. Explore and express your own essence. Ten swords end a long cycle of pain and alienation, and you have played your part well. Now I reach across time and space to hand a different world to you, my child.


1 card and multiple perspectives

an Instagram experience for the month of August, 2016, offered by @inthe78cards and @thetruthinstory

I created a separate page for my posts on #tarotperspective experience.

My primary deck is the Rider Waite Smith. I am having a hard time choosing 2 other decks to stick with for the month. So I may change or rotate. I’m starting with the Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson and The Fountain Tarot by Jason Gruhl, Jonathan Saiz, and Andi Todaro.

One of the reasons I am so seriously excited about this particular tarot experience is because I learn more by comparing things (not comparing and then ranking– simply comparing and observing) than by studying one version only of whatever I am studying. Consider the poem “Your Poem, Man” by Edward Lueders:

unless there’s one thing seen
suddenly against another–a parsnip
sprouting for a President, or
hailstones melting in an ashtray–
nothing really happens. It takes
surprise and wild connections,
doesn’t it? A walrus chewing
on a ballpoint pen. Two blue tail-
lights on Tyrannosaurus Rex. Green
cheese teeth. Maybe what we wanted
least. Or most. Some unexpected
pleats. Words that never knew
each other till right now. Plug us
into the wrong socket and see
what blows–or what lights up.
Tell it like it never really was,
and maybe we can see it
like it is.






The Story of My Life, tarot spread

This is a tarot spread that Steve Seinberg created and posted on Instagram.

whole spread


I chose to use two decks for the five questions. The top row is the Pagan Tarot. The second row is Sacred Sites Tarot. I used two decks because I wanted to keep my mind from latching on to an obvious meaning only. I felt having two cards for the same question would help me go deep and have some objectivity if things got difficult. The small card on the lower left is from the Pocket Goddess Tarot. The large card on the lower right is from The Messenger Cards by Sandra Kunz.

I want to comment on the bare bones of the meanings I make from these cards in this spread, not say everything I say or feel. This is a very personal reading, and really illuminating for me!

Before I drew the cards, I altered a few of the questions to better suit my understanding. The questions:

Front Cover: What do people first notice about me?     1 front cover

About the 2 of pentacles– from the book: “two: yin/yang energy that centers and balances us yet keeps up moving… a moment of trust within a pattern of progress and growth” and “pentacles: things we do to ensure our survival.”   About XV, Devil, from the book: “Rennes-Le-Chateau: Linked to various esoteric mysteries, like the fabled treasure of the Templars and the mythical Grail, today this is a recurring destination for lovers of the occult.”

I do not know if people notice my commitment to balance and growth, to my passion to know what is not obvious, my love of paradox and ambiguity, my frustration with people who live in a black and white duality. My first thoughts before looking at references were that the 2 of pentacles shows my focus on going where I am intent on going. For XV, the Devil, that I can be very hard on myself, bedeviling myself over perceived failures massive and minute.


Spine: What is the form and structure of my life like?

2 spine

For the Initiate of Chalices, progress, growth, commitment have been established in emotional/inner growth through changes and encounters with various people; validation;  continuing effort will not be in vain.      The Wheel, X, seems clear to me. Things change; they change in cycles, often in patterns. As an example, I used to hate that I would still be dealing with something that I (or everyone else) thought I should have been finished with years before and the same kind of thing would happen again. What was wrong with me? Why was I so slow? Well, this was a new, deeper version of the issue. Nothing was wrong with me, and I wasn’t too slow. It was part of the ebb and flow of my growth. From the book: “Chichen Itza– Itza can be translated as ‘water wizards.'”

Combining the meanings of the two cards: Chalices, cups, water, water wizards….  and the rest is private : )



Table of Contents: What is my organizing framework (energy, elements, trajectory)?

3 ToC

Here are pentacles and swords– earthy things and intellectual things. Of necessity I have worked to make my home and the things which I need and want. Also of necessity, I have labored to understand reality and why and how reality is as it is. In the two cards, I see energy of action and of stillness. Often in the Pagan Tarot, multiple people are shown in a card. I observe that in both of these cards, the main character is solitary. However what the character is gaining (food and wisdom) is the result of the efforts of many others. The number 4 relates to stability, 9 to culmination of a process. The reader is no beginner, even if she is gaining wisdom that is new to her. There is not conclusion to learning, any more than there is to procuring the provisions of physical life.


Main Story: What is the theme of my life?

4 main story

The Magician. You can think of the customary aspects of the Magician. As Above, So Below. The Magician works as an equal with the 4 elements/suits. The Magician has the privilege of entering the Above and the Below. I love the Magician card.  In my Instagram profile I state that I am on the lookout for what is not seen. More significantly, I don’t want just to see what is not seen, I want to be a participant in the life that is connected to whatever is more/higher/deeper/ineffable/etc.  The description of where the ten of coins is located: “City of Cibola– According to myth, the seven cities held, in addition to immense quantities of gold and precious stones, age-old esoteric knowledge.”


Back Cover: What protects me from harm?

5 back cover

Novice of Swords– from the book: “swords: things mental and intellectual. Perception and wisdom….” and “novice: shows us where we have literally begun to throw our energy into our new path…. action-oriented…. Don’t lose sight of the rest of our lives.”  About the four of pentacles from the book: “The Pantheon in Rome: Originally it was erected as a temple dedicated to all the gods, and more specifically to the seven planetary divinities.”

Well, in the last 11 months, I have literally thrown my mental and intellectual energy into two major new areas of study– tarot and astrology. If being protected includes validation, then those are both very protecting spaces. And I will not take it amiss if planetary divinities smile on me.


I wanted oracle cards to add a focusing or summarizing energy to what I understood from this reading. Hence the goddess card and the animal card.

6 balance and alchemy

Balance, XIV, Yemana– according to the book, she is associated with water and with a divine balance between heaven and earth; sense of harmony and union.  Magician? Chalice? I think so.      13. Alchemy, Bison– from the book– “As the Bison pounds his hooves in to the ground he transforms the dust into the flames of gold. All that is required is sincerity. We have the ability to transmute all energy…. ”  Magician?


There is a lot to this reading. I’ve spent several hours on the cards and on this writing. It validates my inner growth over the course of my life. What may appear to be change to those who know me, I know to be a steady, consistent movement of inner growth, perhaps in the shape of a labyrinth- – – cycles, even, of labyrinths upon labyrinths upon labyrinths (thinking of fractals).


The items that accompany the cards: sphinx for mystery and one who knows the way of the mystery, the snail shell for cycles of beauty and proportion, the aquamarine for connection with what is unseen, the feather for the generosity of Nature, and the Icelandic spar for clarity and multi-faceted perception.










Embrace the 9 of Swords

Embrace the 9 of Swords

Wake up and look around

All the terrors
are decorative swords
nailed to a wall
in my mind,

not even pointed at me


9 of swords

I am covered
in red roses and
the myriad powers
of the sky

Two figures, frozen in fight
below me
await my sleep

so they can fight again.


Shall I climb those swords
as I would climb a ladder

and escape my own nightmare?



26 july 2016




paris open door smaller


This is a photo I took of a doorway in Paris. I think the door is on Boulevard Saint-Germain.

First I took a photo of the door closed. Then I got the idea of waiting around for someone to go in or come out and I would try to get a photo that showed some of what is inside those beautiful doors.  For me this photo evokes a liminal state.


There are things known

and there are things unknown.

In between

there are doors.


I know that quote has various sources; it doesn’t matter who said it. It’s just cool.

The Karmic Wheel tarot spread

This is a tarot spread by @arrow.in.flight on Instagram, aka Steve Seinberg


the spread


I used the Haindl tarot deck. I wanted a deck that I felt comfortable enough with, but one that I have little history with.  I have many layers that I can contemplate in this spread. Following are the purposes for each card and some of my meaning-making.

1 = Past Life – What you were, echoes of which may still be experienced today.


That information is for another time, I think.


2 = Present Life – The themes that will define this life, now and after it’s done.


CONNECTION. Keeping alive the inner flame. (source) I used to nurture a passionate fascination with Ireland and Celtic things. So this card in this place in this spread has some things to say to me.


3 = Future Life – What you’ll flow into becoming in your next incarnation.


MYSTERY. Gentle protectiveness, with something held back. (source)  This delights me, excites me.


4 = Axle Grease – What you can add to the mix to optimize your evolutionary process.


According to Rachel Pollack, Hermann Haindl changed the name of this card from Science to Thinking with the Heart. My natal chart has lots of water in it. For various reasons, I migrated to more airy aspects and shunned/repressed the water for decades of my life. This card is significant for me. It reminds me of Rumi: ‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.’


5 = The Hub of the Wheel – You. What all of your incarnations add up to. The role that Existence needs you to play in the Grand Scheme.


I’m not sure what to make of this card in this place. I read Rachel Pollack’s piece about it…. In considering various aspects of meaning, Uranus comes to mind. I’ve been learning about it as a disrupter, an energy that can de-condition a person… So I’ll start considering from a point that I can somewhat grasp– Uranus. Here are a few quotes from Making the Gods Work for You by Caroline W. Cassey:

“If you don’t express yourself, you’ll shatter or explode.” p. 144

“… say the truth in a clean, inclusive way…” p. 145

“Find the authentic impulse and let it grow its own form.” p. 150

“Uranus’s force is a lightning bolt, casting illumination wherever it travels.” p. 148


Until that Tower exploded, it looked like all the other normal skyscrapers/towers, its activity, growth, inner workings concealed by normal concrete walls punctuated by windows. And the windows reflected the exterior and prevented outsiders from seeing the inner life.

I may appear naive (or actually be naive), but I like the Tower at this point in my life. I am working on changing– shedding old ways of thinking, acting, being that were put on me, put in me, ways I adopted as I sought to live my life; I’m examining, seeing… letting the old skin shed as it is ready.

Part of what I find curious is the implication that I have a Tower-ish function in “the Grand Scheme.” That violates so much of the conditioning that I experienced in multiple formative periods of my (current) life.  Curiouser and curiouser….

Aside from finding the idea of me being Tower-ish quite curious, I also find it enticing. As a little kid, I absorbed the training to BEHAVE, to CONTROL MYSELF to the point that there was not much of me to express. I learned to hide (repress) the aspects that got me a disapproving look. So to consider that I might get to blow up some of the forms of control appeals to me.

Oh, there is so much to this direction of thought….