Spending two days exploring the Tarot with one of the world's experts on the subject, Rachel Pollack. The wonderful Tarot Guild of Australia brought Rachel over for some work all over Australia and their courses are very good. Plus, the food they put on as part of the workshops - scrummy!
I was a tiny bit disappointed in the full day workshop on Saturday. Not with the subject matter which was The Hanged Man and the minor arcana suit of Swords - both of which I enjoyed exploring. More that there was too much talking with not enough practical enjoyment of the cards and spreads, which is where I think I learn the most. I got a bit bored half way through the day and it never really livened up after that. Given her level of expertise and knowledge, I really expected a bit more practical stuff. She also has a very distracting vocal tick which sounds like she's phlegmy.
The Rider-Waite Deck
Most people start out learning Tarot using the Rider-Waiter Deck and i was certainly no exception. They are easy to interpret and full of symbolism. However, sooner or later, you find yourself salivating over other, more artistic or colourful or outlandish packs and eventually one chooses you and demands that you buy it and take it home.
I am a bit of a Tarot whore. I have many packs. I have the Thoth pack by Aleister Crowley. I love the artwork by Lady Freida Harris but they are so heavily symbolic that it can be a bit of a chore to read with them.
Priestess Card from the Thoth Pack
I used these cards for readings for a very long time but eventually wanted something more lighthearted. I chose the Witches Tarot and then, not long after I bought that pack, the beautiful Druidcraft Tarot by Stephanie and Philip Carr-Gomm
sang to me like a Siren and I was lost. I simply HAD to have this pack.
The High Priestess
I adore this image. It's so sensual and so absolutely what the word 'lovers' conjures up for me. The sleep of spent passion. The abundant nature all around the two makes one feel wild and uninhibited again. Just beautiful.
Cernunnos (Horned God, Lord of the Green Wood). (The Devil card in traditional packs).
I love this card. The Devil card is generally about self-imposed bondage and the fear of fear itself but here this idea is turned on its head somewhat, with the beautiful Horned God energy so present. Yes, there is still a tremor of fear in this card, who wouldn't quake in the presence of Pan himself? Yet, there is again that feeling of freedom, of wildness, of power in the raw and I love it. The lovers are there again in the foreground. I like to think that it's his energy which has led them into their passionate embrace. Dark and mysterious yet so natural.
This is just an overview of some of the major arcana. The images are so lush in this pack, I just want to eat them up.
Aside from Tarot packs, I also have a few Oracles such as the beautiful Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky and Hrana Janto.
Isis - the card of mothering
Kali - one to call on when cutting away things you no longer need.
Couldn't resist this image - sorry.
I used to have a real problem with the image of the Sheila Na Gig (a Goddess found on churches and mystical sites all over Ireland until they systematically destroyed them with the fire of Catholicism), until I realised that she was (and is) a very potent symbol of feminine power. The power to give life, to birth it into the world as babies, as ideas, as new life in all forms. The thing that most people struggle with is that in this image she is an old woman. I think that as a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, we really find it hard to accept that there is still power in the Yoni of an old woman and that she might want to use that power in her life. It's such a confronting image but I do just love it. Sometimes confronting the power and beauty of our own bodies (at whatever age) is what we most need to do to find peace and step into our own wisdom.
My favourite mythological personage - Morgan Le Fay - witch sister of Arthur and Priestess of Avalon.
I am curently working a little with the Spirit of The Wheel Oracle.
It is more of a shamanic deck with gorgeous medicine shields of animals and titles like Ripe Berries Moon and Long Snows Moon. I like the Native American feel to this deck and I am using a card daily to connect me with the power of Great Spirit.It's lovely to work with and has a little prayer at the end of each card explanation that is lovely to say daily.
The Tarot is a very valuable tool for self-exploration and self-growth and need not be held purely in the realm of psychics and fairground Gypsies. I find it useful as part of my daily meditation practice to just tune in to my cards, choose one for the day and then see how accurate its message was by days end. It also attunes me more deeply to my cards so that I can use them more effectively when I read for other people.