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How to Create the Perfect Tarot Spread

Write the spread that guides you home…

If you read tarot cards, chances are you know about the classic spreads. These are the spreads like the Celtic Cross, the Horseshoe Spread, Past / Present/ Future, and so on. These are the spreads that have stood the test of time. They are iconic because they are bring in and cover such a broad base of messages. When I first started reading tarot, I turned to these spreads, and any others that accompanied the beautiful books of my teachings. I felt these spreads would last with me through my whole tarot journey.

And, that hasn’t been entirely incorrect. Every now and again I will turn to one of these tried-and-trues, but to be honest, once I got a handle on how I read tarot, and what I want the messages in the cards to offer me, I stopped relying on most of these well-known spreads. The main reason is that I like spreads with a little more direction. To me, the Celtic Cross started to move me in circles. Like I was driving to a new location that I have never to before. I know the zip code. I know the general location I am in, but the side streets and landmarks are not leading me anywhere helpful.

I started to write my own spreads. It may seem easy to write a tarot spread, and there are days where the needed messages just come flowing forth, from somewhere within me that I cannot name, only feel. Other days, I feel like I am on the right track, but still getting nowhere. So, if you want to write the perfect tarot spreads for yourself, or for your business, keep reading!

Tarot lets you explore your reality, your possibilities, your elusiveness. What do you want your cards to say?

To make it easy, there are three key things that I feel should be considered when writing a tarot spread, so that it includes everything to make your tarot experience beautiful and empowering….

Those three key things are:

  • Knowing the insight or clarity you / your client’s need from the reading
  • Knowing what is reasonable (within your ability to ask)
  • Being mindful of receiving the whole truth

Let’s begin with needed insight or clarity. It is vital to understand and be able to articulate what is being asked of this spread. For a spread like the past, present, future, the insight being gained is an understanding of what has passed, what is coming in, and what is within the present moment. If the spread is stop, start, continue, the spread is giving insight into actions that help or hinder.

So, in writing your spread ask what and where you need insight. Do you want your spread more general or specific? Do you want options or choices in your spread, or are you open to receiving concrete messages from your cards? Are you looking for a more spiritual or a more psychological approach, or do you want both covered in your spread? Your spread can include anything you want, as long as it includes the second part of the key themes.

A great way to gain full clarity of what you need from your spread is to do a freewrite journal exercise. Write down whatever you are feeling, thinking, experiencing, or considering. Just write. After you feel you have written down everything that honors and captures your point of view or your needs, put it aside for a day. Let the words sit for a moment. Return to your writing and highlight what you feel the key words or key themes are within your words. These highlighted passages are the bare bones of what you can explore in your spread.

Use journaling as a way to see what themes, feelings, or thoughts keep coming up. This could become the structure of your spread.

Once you have decided what you need your spread to speak to, it is time to move on to the second key theme: what is reasonable to ask of the cards. This theme is open to interpretation, as everyone has a different style of reading. Your style of reading will dictate and determine what is reasonable to ask. For example: my way of reading is intuitive, but not predictive. Therefore, while I have spreads that speak to possible outcomes, I do not in any way instruct or inform my clients that a certain circumstance or series of events will unfold. If you read from a purely spiritual point of view, your spread positions will speak to spirituality.

Once you know your reading style, consider what is reasonable to ask the spread. It is reasonable for you to ask about 3rd party readings? Is it reasonable to ask about financial matters or health issues? Only you can answer what is right for you and your reading style. Once you have decided what is reasonable, your spread will reflect that truth. If you find it reasonable to read for others, include in your spread questions that speak to this. If you feel it unreasonable, keep all questions in relation to you, or whomever is the seeker.

After you have decided what is reasonable, or unreasonable to ascertain from your spread, we move on to the final key theme: honesty, brutal honesty. If we think about it a tarot spread as a dinner plate, the insight and clarity is the main course. It is what is going to probably benefit you the most because you are getting to the bedrock to what has been elusive. The ability to discern what is reasonable to ask is the side dish, which makes honesty the bill.

A needed exchange…

The bill (brutal honesty) is the exchange so you can have this glorious plate of energetic beauty. It is needed, but it may be hard at times to recognize that this exchange is paramount. Just as you could not have a lovely dinner at a restaraunt with paying the bill, you cannot have a truly profound spread that is of service unless there is an exchange. In all tarot spreads it is useful to have specific position that highlight the positives, the love and light if you will. These positions can include: strengths, resources, gifts and offerings to the world, lasting energy, and more. These positions are beautiful, and can highlight the beautiful nature of your / your client’s unique self.

However, it is also important to be willing to have a thorough exchange with the card and include positions that speak to the shadows. These can include: fears, weaknesses, obstacles, things to change, things to let go, and more. It is important to include spread positions like this because your tarot cards are your ally, and the spread is the conversation it is having with you / your client. It is important to go into not just the love and light, but also the shadows and the blockages, because that is how we grow. We don’t grow within the comfortable, we grow with the full spaciousness of possibility, which needs to include that which we may not want to hear.

Obviously, these three focuses are, in my opinion, needed to create a badass tarot spread. You may have a different take, and that is totally fine. You need to find what works for you. If willing, I invite you to utilize these focuses while writing your own tarot spreads. They have never led me astray, and I am confident it will be of service for you as well.

**One side note that I wanted to mention was writing a spread with a specific deck in mind. All tarot / oracle decks can be of service no matter the reading (unless there is an energetic block that has nothing to do with the spread), but sometimes it might be useful to write a spread with the focus through one certain deck. I love using my Mystical Dream Tarot deck for a more psychological, symbolic feel. If I want tangible and of this earth, the Herbcrafter’s Tarot has been it for me. For all things relating to spirit and wild reclamation, The Wild Unknown decks have never done me wrong. Again, all decks can be interchanged, no matter the spread, but if you are really struggling, or really wanting to connect to a certain deck, try writing a spread specifically for the artwork and themes of one particular deck.**

Many Blessings XOXOXO

Ashlie

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The Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck review

The Major Arcana

I received the Herbcrafter’s Tarot as a birthday present last year, and I am so glad that this deck has come into my possession. I love this deck, and will take the rest of this blog post to break down all the key details about this deck. If you would like to purchase this deck or learn more about it after this blog post, you can click this link, which will take you straight to the Herbcrafter’s Tarot website (this is not an affiliate or promotional code or link). The deck was written by Latisha Guthrie, an herb / kitchen witch, teacher, and homesteader. The artwork is by Joanna Powel Colbert. She has created the Gaian Tarot, the Pentimento Tarot, and also teaches workshops and retreats related to the craft, the Goddess, and more.

What is immediately clear about this deck is that is created with a true knowledge and love of herb-crafting. You do not need a previous knowledge of herbs in order to use this deck. You will need to be invested in learning about the herbs. Each card in this deck relates to a specific herb (the one exception being the World card, which I will get into here in just a bit), so if you aren’t invested in learning about, or using herbs, this probably isn’t the deck for you.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot is so beautifully made. The cards measure 5″ x 3″ which makes them a decent size. The paper has a nice glossy sheen which makes them easy to shuffle. The illustration for the back of the card has a very different feel than the front of the card. To be honest, I am not in love with the illustration for the back of the card. It feels disconnected from the gorgeous artwork of the cards themselves. The artwork is reversible if your cardback to match your reversal preference. I don’t mind if the image is non-reversible because I still don’t know the particular card chosen until I turn it over, but there many who want card-front and card-back to match.

If you choose to keep the deck in its box, the material has some heft, and will keep your decks well-protected. The green string allows for easy access of the cards, and the guidebook fits snug at the top, making a substantial tarot set. If you choose to put your cards in some other container or bag, I would recommend keeping the guidebook. Normally, I tend to forget the guidebook for my tarot decks, but this deck brings in so much more information, that I find it worthwhile to keep the guidebook on hand.

The guidebook is packed full of information that speaks to the formation of this deck, the intention of the herbs used for each card, and how those herbs are handled or grown in nature. These intentionally chosen herbs also relate heavily to a more numerology-based system of reading. As you can see in the picture below, the herbs chosen do not merely reflect the identity of their corresponding tarot card. They correspond to the numerology and to the herb in nature, and how it is used. Working with this deck and this guidebook will give you a good understanding of herbology, numerology, and tarot, all within one tarot deck!

The perimeters for the tarot, herb, and numerical correspondence in nature.

One of the other main differences is the titles for the Minor Arcana. Instead of staying with the elemental object (swords, pentacles, etc.) for each suit, the Minor Arcana are named in relation to the elements themselves: earth, fire, water, and air. The elemental token that is featured in the minors are:

Air/ bolines

Fire / mortars and pestles

Water / kettles

Earth / baskets.

Three of Earth / Raspberry, Eight of Fire / Ginger, Four of Air / Lavender, Two of Water / Mallow

Each of these tools are needed to participate fully in herb-crafting. The elements also take on an additional layer of understanding to help with learning and skill acquisition.

Air = learning, fire = creating, water = nourishing, and earth = giving.

This is somewhat similar to a more traditional understanding of the tarot and the elements.

Air / Swords = the mind: thoughts, brainstorming, ideas, and communication.

Fire / Wands= the spirit: creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, and ambition.

Water / Cups= the heart: connection, understanding, compassion, emotions.

Earth / Pentacles= the body: production, tangible, sensory, and environmental.

One of the final differences is the court card titles have also changed. Instead of Page, Knight, Queen, King, the court cards are now named Hija (daughter), Adelita (Warrior), Madre (mother), and Curandera (healer). Each of these titles bring similar energy to the more traditional court cards, but also represent the transformation of energy that comes from the different thresholds of the herb path. Each court card shows an image with outstretched hands, and shows how the herbs are handled differently as you progress through the court rankings.

Hija of Fire / California Poppy, Adelita of Fire / Cayenne, Madre of Fire / Thyme, Curandera of Fire / Damiana

The picture above has the four court ranks for the element of Fire. The Hija of Fire may be my personal favorite card of the deck. The Hija sits on her blanket, adorned with incense, costume jewelry, California Poppies, and she is both witnessed and protected by her stuffed tiger. She is undertaking the path in a way that is both playful and imaginative. The Adelita of Fire carries the tradition of her people’s medicine by crushing cayenne to make fire cider. The Madre of Fire keeps a whole-hearted and fierce spirit to create and use ingredients that fill her hearth and home. Finally, the Curandera of Fire teaches the power of love and intimacy, healers in their own way.

Speaking of the imagery, Joanna Powell Colbert’s artistic rendering of each card is simply stunning. Her images are so detailed and intimate, that it really feels like a part of time was captured, not just the herb. Each image feels so heavenly, that you can almost smell what’s on the stove, feel the sunshine, or test the nearby water. The artwork is so beautiful and important, but one of the other reasons I really recommend keeping the guidebook is because Latisha Guthrie’s description for each card is informative and easy to understand. Her writings detail how you can either begin or reinforce your herbal path with each herb, and benefit from each card you turn over. It is not a mere guidebook; it is an informative text for the herbal path.

If you have a decent understanding of herbs or numerology, this may be a decent deck to learn the tarot on. If new to all practices, I personally would not recommend learning on this deck, only because there is so much information that comes with this deck. By fully learning tarot through a more standard or straightforward deck, there isn’t a need to learn both herbs and tarot at the same time. However, that is merely my personal opinion, and I am sure that for many people, this deck would create full expansion in their beginning practice.

This deck has been a recent go-to for bringing in an understanding of garden magic and kitchen medicine. I would give this deck a 5/5, it is simply that beautiful, and that useful. I am getting loads of ideas for teas and tincture I want to create. I am gaining a deeper respect for the earth under my feet, and all that comes forth from its foundation. If you want to learn more about herbs, numerology, or gain more knowledge from the expertise of two powerful women who have walked this path for decades, this is a great deck to invest in.

The World begins a new chapter: awakened, alive, vibrant and gazing forward. There is a palpable readiness.
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Deck Forecast – 2020 (Wild Unknown Archetypes and Tarot)

The deck forecast begins at the very top of the table, with the Desert and the Hanged Man

For 2020, I am going to switch up the decks that I use. The Wild Unknown Archetypes decks is STUNNING. I cannot get over these cards. Plus, archetypes are meant to explored, discovered, understood, and utilized. This makes them the perfect deck for doing a monthly deep dive. The

Wild Unknown Tarot is the companion card, creating a layered message of what archetypal energy is present, and how to invite this potent energy into your life. Patrons will still receive a third card in their monthly card forecast. If you would like to become a patron, click the badge on the right hand side and join the dwelling!

For reference on how to tell upright vs. inverted, I pull every card with my right hand, and then turn each card over pulling from the left side. If I were to take these cards out of the circle, and place them in a straight line, I would then grab from the right side and move left if it’s on its side (horizontal). I hope that makes sense! It can be hard to tell when it is this kind of formation.

I tried to get a picture that did justice to the imags, while keeping the names visible. For clarity, here is the monthly forecast:

January: The Desert and The Hanged Man

February: The Shadow and the 8 of Swords inverted

March: The Eternal Child and the Tower inverted

April: The Poet and the Devil

May: The Castle and the 9 of Wands

June: Eros and the World

July: The Crone and the Mother (Queen) of Swords inverted

August: The Creator and the Ace of Cups

September: The Queen and Temperance inverted

October: Thanatos and Judgement

November: Aletheia and the 10 of Cups inverted

December: The Mirror and the Son (Knight) of Wands

So, that is the forecast for 2020. I am not going to lie, when I say the card pairings for January through April, I said to myself, “Here, we go….” That is not to say that the cards are bad or that I don’t like them. Cards like the Tower and the Devil have some of the most profound blessings, but they are not easy cards to grasp and hold. Those cards, and many others, can be incredibly daunting, and speak to growth in ways that are often uncomfortable or hard to bear at times.

Some things to note about the complete forecast: the year is divided into 6 major arcana cards, 4 pip cards, and 2 court cards. Major Arcana cards speak to great forces, forceful momentum, and encompassing shifts. When a spread, or here a forecast, is dominated by Major Arcana cards, that means that the year forecast is going to see a lot of transformation that is effective more on a grand scale of life, rather than dealing with the more minute details of the day to day. The Majors are archetypes unto themselves. They represent the macrocosm. Their energies are so large that, at times, it can be harder to feel their presence.

We have the 8 of Swords inverted, 9 of Wands, Ace of Cups, and the 10 of Pentacles inverted. With the majority of the pips and court cards falling to the Swords, we can safely say that the majority of the microcosm will be focused on the threshold of thoughts, communication, brainstorming, ideas, and narration. We will be looking into the mental faculties that gauge the energies, and how that logical clarifying accompanies the larger forces at play. The Court cards are the cards that speak to us between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Side note: I do not read Court cards as other people. I read them as the threshold between the majors and the minors. That means that July and December present invitations for a more intimate conversation about how to bridge yourself between the energetic forces and shifts available, and how to make energies available.

What are your thoughts on these card pairings? If you would like to download my free monthly ezines from 2019, do so by the end of the year. After that they will be getting deleted to make room for 2020 ezines. Much love to you!

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Approaching the end of the year

The end of the year is finally coming to a close. I feel the need to create a little time capsule of my year, and what better place than my blog? For me, this year was a rough one, but also an insanely beautiful one. There were so many things that happened, and many things I really had to confront and face. This was also the year that I really had to admit and confront where I was hurting myself, and my business.

Here were some of the major points of my year:

+My schoolwork consisted mostly of science classes (which is not my strong suit) to finish the requirements for my Associates in the Integrative Health program. Next year, I get to enjoy the Capstone, all about transitioning into the professional world.

+I got to see some whales and experience the beauty of Mexico.

+My cat was on and off sick for months. He was so sick that, at one point, Grizzly and I really thought we were going to lose him. However, my little Zombie survived, and I feel that experience in many ways brought Grizzly and I closer together.

+Some of the other classes that I got to take this year were amazing, including Medicinal Herbs in the Wild, where I met a dear friend, and fell more in love with herbs, and Colorado.

Towards the end of this year, my own health started to take a turn. What first started out as acid reflux, has turned into breathing issues that have persisted for about a month now. The shadow part of me isolated even farther, less willing to do things like see friends, run errands, or get motivation for the things I needed to complete. However, it also brought me closer to spirit, and to myself.

My year card was Strength, and I feel that after this year (I haven’t even mentioned the social injustices and headlines that have impacted and changed me), I have a better appreciation for that card. I also have had to take some time and reconcile with myself the fact that I have had to put myself on ice in regards to my business. I have had bitter moments where I have feel like I’m hitting a wall. I have had moments where it seems like I have been wasting my time. I had had moments where it has felt like no matter what I do for my business, it wasn’t good enough.

(If you would like to know your year card is, add up your birth month and day with the current year. If yours equals something like this (29), you would then add those two together, which equals 11. In the Wild Unknown deck, which is the one I use most often, the 11th card is Strength.)

It was like constantly hitting a wall. It took me a while to realize that I was the wall. My ego was needing certain boxes checked off to feel validated. My spirit just wants to express the tarot, and other modalities, with passion and authenticity. Going forward, I have recognized where I was placing expectations on the outside world, but I really need boundaries with myself. I also needed new projects.

So, come next year I am going to start a podcast. This is something that I am really excited for, and I have been toying with the idea for a while now. I am ready to try something new. I am also going to start putting up physical products, expanding my services, and establishing my platform a little bit more. I was not giving myself was the belief that I deserved a thriving business. I was not allowing myself to feel the confidence needed to thrive. That stops now. It is not welcome in 2020.

If you are feeling overdrawn, overburdened, or anything that does not register with your higher being, I ask to you to see where your beliefs or confidence or compassion for yourself is at. I am not saying that I found the formula for growth. That is a process that I look forward to learning more about as I discover more about myself. I simply ask you to confront and face. You can do it. You are strong. You are worthy. You are gorgeous. If you would like to go deeper into some energy, we can work together, and use the tarot to unleash some needed energy. Next post will be about the deck forecast for 2020.

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My Spread Pricing and Why I Don’t Charge Per Hour

I wanted to do and write something a little bit differently today. More specifically, my intention is to show a little bit of my process behind certain aspects of my business. Many, if not most, tarot readers charge based on time spent for the reading. There is nothing wrong with this, but I personally have never liked to charge that way. A big reason why is because of my first reading as the client, not the reader.

I like to charge based on number of cards pulled as opposed to a set price per hour. Time can be a good factor to set the value, but I don’t personally like to be controlled by a timely starting and stopping point.

I went to see a tarot reader long before I knew how to read tarot. To be fair, I had not done my research into the type or reading, or reader, I wanted. I simply had some cash and showed up at a store in Denver. I also had not taken the time to consider what I wanted, and more importantly needed, from my reading. What was the underlying purpose? What would I do with the information given to me? How could I be vulnerable and hear both the good and bad the cards may bring forth? I asked myself none of these question. (I would like to spend a whole post on the etiquette between reader and client, but I digress….)

So I show up at a store, cash in hand, ready for my reading. I asked if anyone was available to read for me. A woman was, and although I do not expect or want an overly fluffy or lovey-dovey reader (that is not my style), this woman was cold and not very friendly. We went to a section of the store, that was separated by nothing more than a divider. This made my walls go up. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted or needed from my reader, but I knew I didn’t want every customer walking by to overhear what I considered, and still do, a sacred conversation.

I told her a little bit about what was going on with me, and she started to pull the cards. And she kept pulling… and pulling…. and pulling. She must have pulled over thirty cards from her deck. I say this not because I question or despise the way another reader works with her cards. (I also want to make it clear that many, if not most readers do not read this way. They are inviting, informative, and value the shared energetic experience.) I did not feel like this reader valued my presence. I say this because the majority of the reading was spent shuffling and looking and shuffling and looking. I could not tell you a single card that was pulled because she didn’t talk very much. The last five minutes of a fifteen-minute reading was spent with her asking a few more questions, and then giving some small suggestions, and that was it.

Those fifteen minutes cost me $20.00, and although I recognize that is not the most expensive reading ever, it was still a lot for me at that time financially. I left feeling overwhelmed, annoyed, and more confused than before. I would have preferred it if she had pulled one card for me and had deeply gone into the meaning of that card, and how it could relate to me and my situation. As a reader, I don’t not believe more is more when it comes to number of cards. As a client, I know it’s not. A couple of years later, when I started developing my website, writing spreads, and determining my prices, I knew that I didn’t want to make anyone as my blessed client feel like they had been overcharged and under-served.

My pricing starts at $10.00 for one card, and goes up in $5.00 increments for each additional card.

But, I wrestled with the way to price my services and my spreads. What was fair to the clients, but still honored and valued the heart and soul I put into my work? I finally decided that I wanted to charge based on cards that I pulled. This means that my one-card readings (still thorough and written with love) are not charged the same way that my five-card reading does. Here are some of the main reasons I decided to charge this way (I feel the need to preface here that this is what works for me and the way I operate as a tarot reader. I am not saying that others who price or charge differently than me are doing it wrong. Different strokes for different folks):

1.) I don’t like being rushed for / by time and numbers: By removing the constraint of time, I personally feel more free to spend as much time as needed going into the messages that I download from each card. By removing the layer of time from my readings, I feel less confined by time.

2.) Discussing the cards from intuition: I could take one hour to discuss one card if my intuition keeps downloading meaningful content. I could take less time with more cards. With no time limit, I feel able to discuss each download clearly and without rush.

3.) Gives you financial options: Because my spreads are based upon the amount of cards I pull, I have many different spread options available on my website. You can choose the spread that works for you and for your budget. As mentioned, I have been in the place where $20.00 was my grocery limit for the week. I believe tarot is medicine, but I also believe it shouldn’t put you in the red. No matter the spread you choose, you will get my soulful intention to provide the best tarot reading I can.

4.) Telecommute makes time commitment harder: Because I do readings exclusively out of my home right now, time commitment to readings is not so black and white. Often, during a reading I pull the cards, write down initial notes by hand, and then take some time (outside, in meditation, or by journaling) to really let my intuition start downloading. It doesn’t always get channeled so immediately. So, I don’t have to start a timer or take note when I started or stopped. This again makes me feel less pressured by time, and more able to just read the cards and write.

5.) Quality over quantity: More cards does not mean a better reading. More time does not mean a better reading. Say it with me: more does not mean better. As I said in my story above, I would have preferred a $20.00 with only one or two cards, as opposed to a reading that had half the deck, and little to no detailed insight from particular cards. One card can really anchor you into clarification, or speak to your needed questions. Throwing down card after card after card may not always provide the most insight.

No matter as a reader, or a client, the main focus is in the value of each energetic experience. If you do not see what you want or need on my website, reach out to me. My prices are set by the cards I pull, but we can collaborate to create something of utility that honors both energy and budgets.
Photo by Ikhsan Sugiarto from Pexels

Hopefully, this provides some clarity to the way my pricing is set on my website. If you have any questions, or if you have a certain price point but don’t see a spread that fully covers your needs, no worries, shoot me an email at teaandtombstones@gmail.com and we can get a spread that fits your price point and your needs. Thanks for reading. Much love to you!

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Know Your Limits: All About health

One of the biggest blessings in my life has been the blessing of health. I have been blessed with a healthy body and very few major health issues in my 31 years. For this I am incredibly grateful. The worst health issue I have had to deal with was a kidney stone. It was the worst pain of my life. Ever. What was worse was that I knew I needed medical attention, and I was alone. My family was on the other side of town, and I could not wait for them to get to me and then take me to the hospital.

So I drove my car to the nearest Urgent Care that took my insurance in Colorado rush hour traffic. I was in so much pain that I wasn’t sure if I would pass out. I called Grizzly and asked him to just stay on the phone with me. I would tell him the exits I passed so he knew where I was on the road at all times. It was so bad that I almost pulled over and called an ambulance. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I cannot afford that kind of car ride. I knew if I did call an ambulance I would be looking at an immediate price in the thousands of dollars. I did not have that kind of money, so I drove on.

Other than that horrifying incident, my health has been quite good, which admittedly is something I take for granted. Other than slight allergies or the common cold, the last few years have been incredibly good to me. Even my healing process from getting my wisdom teeth out at the late age of 31 went so well that I was barely swollen, the holes closed quickly, and I wasn’t ever really in bad pain.

However, the last week has been a recall on all that bright, healthy energy that I have taken for granted day after day. It first started with chest pain, nothing major but enough to feel it. I assumed that it was due to poor posture (I slouch a lot. I also hug my shoulders close to my neck a lot, something I didn’t realize I did until I started following Adriene Mishler’s yoga videos on Youtube). I kept going with my lifestyle, living off of hummus and snap peas, yogurt and granola, finding time to cook a few meals during the week. I wasn’t drinking enough water, and stress in many areas of my life has been higher lately.

The pain consisted, but I ignored it. I assumed that my body would take care of it, let me recover without taking any part in the healing process. The pain slowly morphed into a lump in my throat (like when you swallow a pill that doesn’t immediately go down). I kept swallowing and swallowing to see if something was stuck, but the annoying feeling persisted for so long that I knew it wasn’t food or a pill. There was now tightness in the chest, a lump in my throat, and then the worst of it came…..

Yesterday I was sitting at home with Grizzly, looking forward to a slow day of movies and nachos. I was ready to do nothing but relax and enjoy my lazy, Sunday haze. In the late afternoon, I was silently screaming in my body. I was so annoyed and anxious about my health that my body was tensing. I felt jittery and unable to sit still. Worse still, I started to slowly feel like I was losing my breath. I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs, and when I focused on my breathing I kept feeling the grasping strain of trying to get more air in. I ended up calling my mom who had earlier in my life dealt with some similar things. Everything sounded similar to her situation: acid reflux and heartburn.

I did not know that heartburn could feel as serious as it did, and still does. I was almost in shock. Dragging myself up and into pants, Grizzly drove us to the store so I could buy some medication. The whole time I just tried to quiet my mind, but it wasn’t helping and I was starting to get scared. With the medicine purchased, on the way home I was trying again to just calm the fuck down. In my attempts I also broke down in tears. I started quietly apologizing to my body, apologizing for almost a whole lifetime of not taking the adequate time to put better and healthier habits in place. I apologized for making my body carry years of stress. I apologized that I always just assumed that my body would heal me. Now I needed to heal my body.

Today is a better day. I woke up feeling like air was in me. The lump was still there, but I took the OTC medication and started doing some yoga. I have an appointment to see someone for a follow-up, and I started to meal plan healthier meals. What I told myself today while I sat in the shower was that I embrace this path, and my limits. I cannot keep acting like my health is something I can ignore because it has been so good. I cannot keep interrupting symptoms in my body to keep to my daily routines. I need to release an old Ashlie, one that was unwilling to focus on the body and afraid to handle the needs of the body. I am choosing to learn from this experience.

One of the first things I learned was that after my breathing got under control, I almost felt silly for being so afraid. I felt silly, like I had been overly dramatic. I couldn’t believe what I was saying to myself. I was telling myself that I was silly for getting so anxious over the feeling of NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE! When did I become so harsh towards myself? When I tell my body to shut up and never have a problem, and if it does then I am stupid for following along? The Daughter of Pentacles is double-earth and all about the body and the sense. The Bat reversed is all about releasing to begin again. I had been ignoring some of these messages within my body for a while, but I cannot avoid them any longer. This process is not really about healing some acid reflux, although I would love for that to go away. More than anything, this is a healing process of learning my limits, and letting my body be loved, completely and with attentive intention.

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Mother of Cups in the Dark

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There have been numerous words given to the Mother of Cups, full of praise and light, justly deserved. But there needs to be time given to the dark mother, the one in the corner, carrying wounds and weapons that haven’t been seen.

There are many reasons why it is important to go into the dark side of the tarot:

1.) There is no card in the deck that is strictly good or bad. They all carry the cosmos of light and trouble.

2.) There is no one way to “define” good or bad. Is a good card good because it makes us feel positive? Is a “bad” card the good one because it challenges us to grow and learn so we can honor our highest potential?

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The Mother of Cups promotes self-love, self-discovery, the need for boundaries, and a self-actualized encouragement to go deeper into what we love and cherish in this moment. However, despite these nuisances of deeper love and celebration, the Mother of Cups (just like any other card) has a dark side that reveals obstacles, troubles, or a need for change.

The Mother of Cups shows the beauty of self-love and love to others, but that doesn’t mean that everyone we are around is someone who will bring us joy. We are often required to be around others who we do not hold the best feelings for. This is not a shadow element, but how we deal with this can become a shadow element if we are unchecked in certain behaviors.

One behavior is shit-talking. This behavior does nothing but breed hostility. We are vocalizing our negative feelings,  but not in a way that reaches any conclusion or solution for growth. I want to be clear that shit-talking is not the same as venting. When we vent to someone, we are also not looking for any conclusion to be met, nor are we trying to make a point. We are simply letting out our emotions to someone we trust, or venting in a journal. When someone is trash-talking someone else, we are not trying to reach a solution, but we ARE trying to make a point of how bad this other person is.

When someone trash-talks another it is often because they would never express their feelings in a constructive way to the person involved. Obviously, this is problematic behavior. The Mother of Cup teaches self-love. If we are hurt or upset with someone that is okay, but it becomes problematic when we refuse to address the issue, and resort to bad-mouthing someone behind their back.

 

Another dark side to the Mother of Cups is the need for validation from others. If there is a need to be validated or approved by others, it can often be because of deep-rooted insecurities. The problem here is that the gratification for validation never promotes self-love because it didn’t through us or for us. It came out of a need to be enriched by the words of others, to be seen or in the spotlight. When we practice self-love, we are validating our own vulnerable nature, complete with gifts and flaws.

The urge to be validated can be seen in many ways. It can be seen in jealousy, that we want more validation that someone else. It can be seen in toxic comparisons, or in the need to be competitive with another person, to outdo them and shine brighter. Obviously, all of these are problematic because it fosters a negative outlook. It preaches that we don’t have enough, but it never encourages a healthy way to express our emotions.

Finally, the Mother of Cups is highly intuitive and nurturing. Because of these qualities, she is also prone to burn-out, creative dismantling, or emotionally worn. If the Mother of Cups does not take time to spend alone or with others who fuel her creative or emotional passions, if she is constantly fulfilling the needs of others while neglecting herself, she will burn out. Boundaries and the Sacred No are incredibly important for the Mother of Cups. She needs to be able to take care of herself so that she can serve others.

**Please note that I am not saying that these traits equal a bad person. We all hold and often can act on this dark elements at times. What is important to be mindful, and work to foster an environment where we are self-loving, and promoting love and honesty to others.**

Let me know your thoughts!

Much love Wolflings,

Ashlie

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November cards: Dragonfly and the Mother of Cups

Dearest Wolflings,

We have passed through a harsh month, full of dichotomies and conflicting energies. I am happy to say that November is going to be a time of reflection, tapping into mindful directions, and listening to the rolling waves of our hearts. We move into the month of the Dragonfly and the Mother of Cups. Both cards tap into ancient wisdom of mindful intentions and actions. These cards harness a need to go deeper into the psyche, to heal wounds and learn more about our power.

Dragonfly and the Mother of Cups

Starting with the Dragonfly, this spirit animal has been seen in symbols across almost every culture. They have been around in some form for millions of years. They have seen the changes of the Earth, the rivers, the mountains, and the seasons through eyes that make the bulk of their head. They must keep moving, and they can move in all directions. These ancient ones call on us to see, to be still, and to move with direction. They call on us to quiet the mind and listen to the wisdom that come from being a part of this world. Acting with direction is key. Thinking before speaking is key. Creating powerful intentions and visualizations are key. The first step is to come into rhythm of silence by quieting the mind. Sit alone and meditate. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Create something for the simple sake of creation. The mind is able to move with purpose when we create buffers to safeguard the positive thoughts we are starting to manifest with this animal energy.

Free stock photo of nature, blue, eyes, grass

All the mothers are the Healers. They are the Keepers of knowledge, lineage, and ritual. They safeguard the treasures of history and heritage. The Mother of Cups is double-water. Everything about her flows from the well of creation and intuition. In some ways she is like the Empress, endless in her capacities of love for the sake of love. They both radiate the light of inner acceptance, inner bloom. Where they depart is the Empress is the bridge between the High Priestess and the Emperor. She understands the messages of this world, but she is creative and channels her gifts towards the dawn of new possibilities which the Emperor enforces.

Swan on Body of Water

The Mother of Cups is more internal, spending more time in ritual and in sacred space. She is highly intuitive and spiritual, but she is less public, less out in the open. Her gifts are born and brought from a place that she cannot share with others. Because she is a Swan, she is of two worlds. One of the land, and one of dark water. Because she is of two worlds she is also a bridge, a bridge between the tangible manifestation and the deep, pulsating quiet of the heart. She is a Keeper of the heart, of relationships, and selfless love, and a Healer to the world when she comes to the surface.

If there is one line I could write to describe what messages I am receiving from these cards, it would be: Quiet the mind. Channel the heart. Going deeper into the subconscious, into wishes and dreams, and manifesting positivity, ritual, heritage, our inner lineage is a tall order. How can we keep things out of our minds when so much is happening that is trying to force its way in? By creating boundaries. Like the Mother, we need to be of almost two worlds. The visible one on land where we bond and love and speak about how that love is never going to go away. But we also must go deeper to heal and learn and channel that love into ourselves for manifestation. Last month saw intense energy, now we must quiet the mind, and channel the heart for change.

**Thank you for reading. Please let me know your thoughts on these cards for November. Much love. Stay wild, wolfling!**

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The first book I learned to read tarot with, and how a glossy page can make all the difference.

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Do you ever stand in a bookstore, your eyes darting back and forth between the titles, unsure of which one is the right keeper of knowledge? When I first started to read tarot, it was out of necessity. I needed to put a pulse back in my chest, and a roar back in my throat if I was to brave another year. I went to the bookstore, knowing that I wanted a book worthy of this step. But all the titles professed the same action. They all held promise of expansion and depth, spirit making strides.

I finally settled on this book: The Key to Tarot: From Suits to Symbolism; Advice and Exercises to Unlock your Mystical Potential by Sarah Bartlett. Why did I settle on this book, because it felt beautiful in my hands. The hard, chocolate brown cover felt appropriate. The pages were colored. The pages were glossy. There was something about the shine, the texture, the lift of reds and blues from the page that made me settle on this one.

This book is a great beginner’s book because it goes into each card well for a beginner level. It includes exercises and meditations to connect more deeply into yourself and the craft. It also has some good spreads that I still use today. I must admit that I no longer reach for this book that much, but as my very first tarot book, it was a star-find. Other books that I have purchased since then have not fully compared to this book. Perhaps it is my nostalgia. Perhaps it is glossy pages and way the spine creases into the skin of my folded legs. I don’t know, but I love this little book.

I had placed this book on a shelf after I read it, and moved on to other titles. I came across some journal posts from when I first started reading, and I realized how much writing I did when I was travelling through this book. I wrote in my journal constantly. Everything was somehow related to the meanings of the cards that I was slowly absorbing with this book. I din’t think too much of it. I read the journal posts, smiled at how far I have come, and went about my day.

That was about a week ago. Since then I have gone through many books on my shelves, packing the one that I know I want to keep, but will not read for some time. Others, given away as donations. I pulled this book down off the shelf I was going through and again felt that tinge of nostalgia, like looking at an old picture of myself. I really wanted to go through some of the meditations and exercises again to really see how my tarot interpretations have become layered.

If you are new to tarot, document everything! Write it down, film it, take pictures, draw it. However you do it, just do it. Document your travels because it will become a map. It will show you how to rejoin an old part of yourself that perhaps has slithered deep into the dusky layer of the subconscious. Document so you can look back and see what your gut thoughts were. Don’t take the interpretations in the pages (no matter how glossy) as gospel. Make your own choices and see what is right for you. For example, the book mentioned here reads Court Cards as other people. I have never found Court Cards to be representative messages of other people. Never. Do what feels right, and keep it documented so you can come back with a seasoned heart later for reconnection.

You can find Sarah’s book here, along with many other books that she has written. This is not an affiliate code. I think this is a great little book if you are a tarot novice, or looking for your first book. I would love to hear the books that guided your path, tarot or otherwise. Much love wolflings!