Posted on Leave a comment

The Ocean: The Incomprehensible, Intuitive Reminder

The Ocean from The Wild Unknown Archetypes Deck

I move through phases of daily pulls, in and out, a recurring theme based on the card above. At times, I want nothing more than to wake up, grab my cup of coffee, give my kitties a boop on the snoot, and then sit down with the cards, let them open me to deeper messages, and the divine.

Other times, the mere thought of sitting down for a daily pull feels like pulling teeth. It feels like the energies are too big and vague for one mere day, and I want something more than a message. During these times, I spend my morning reading books (not a bad habit), or going straight into my work.

Moving into and out of these energies at times makes me feel like I need structure, like I am wafting the creative energy right out of my space, while trying to call it in at the same time. It made me feel like my tarot practice, something that I have spent years now building to reach others and be of service for others, is still sometimes shaky. When looking to others creations, especially on social media, it seems that everyone else has structure, organization, personal clarity with their work.

However, this is not the case. Let me set the scene…….

I have been working with a business coach, the lovely Kelly-Ann Maddox, and she has been helping me get clear about some of the concepts mentioned above, along with many others. One of the things that we discussed was getting me out from behind the screen, making a more intimate connection with my viewers and readers. This is a huge point of growth for me, really stepping me out of my comfort zone, but I was determined to try. If I looked like an idiot, at least I would be able to say that this format is not for me, and gain a valuable lesson along the way.

So, I started filming myself, and it took about 40 attempts for me to get it to a place I was happy putting out onto Instagram. 40 ATTEMPTS. 40! This sentence makes me laugh, but it is true. I kept stumbling over my words and I had to sit on my desk with my phone propped up against the window because that is where I get the best light. After I put it out on Instagram, I accepted the fact that it wasn’t perfect, and that I probably was super awkward.

I started to get a few comments and views, but it was later last night that I received a comment that really touched me, and it was from someone whose creations I really admire. She said that my post resonated with her. MINE! My awkward self actually had something to give to someone else, and while I was judging and assuming that my video would not be well received, it actually really helped someone else, which makes my heart fuzzy.

I started writing this blog about the Ocean, and then digressed to something that happened yesterday, so what is the point? This is the point: do not assume what you do not know. Unconsciously, my offerings are based in my truth. Consciously, I fear the formalities (looking like an idiot, not being clear in my message.) This is Ocean energy.

The Ocean card speaks to immeasurable depths, relating to the unconscious and the incomprehensible. The Ocean archetype is alive when larger energies are at play that create change. The Ocean is present when we accept that Ocean cannot be tamed or taught. In order to merge with the unconscious, all we can do is surrender to the process, surrender to the guiding, larger forces that are present.

I knew that I was being called to step out of my comfort zone. I knew that it was in my higher and better self to be vulnerable, to be willing to raw on social media, a place where everything is polished and poised. The Ocean in this situation is reminding me that there is so much more beneath the surface, My unconscious self was ready for this growth, but my conscious mind was afraid and nervous.

If you are feeling out of balance, nervous, anxious, lean into Ocean energy. Pulling this card after my experience yesterday, it reaffirms to me that there is so much more beneath the surface than what I know. There is so much to gain and enjoy from following the path of higher calling, but there is so much unknown that it can be daunting to even attempt such a task. Don’t try to master or manipulate Ocean energy. Instead, use Ocean energy to let you embrace change with each small step. Use Ocean energy to connect and create alignment between conscious and unconscious spaces. They are both a part of you. Use Ocean energy to witness this spectrum, and attempt new things to create that change. It may not be pretty, but it will be beautiful.

Posted on Leave a comment

Reflections on an old blog post

The 5 of Cups from all my decks. Single pictures below.

Sometimes the most poignant lessons come from the ones you have already written. Sometimes the words that you wrote ages ago can reveal to you how far you have come, and how much you have offered before. These old teachings have the honor of coming from you, and following through you to become again.

Lately, I have been stirring the energies of my old writings. Between my blog and many, many journals I am able to see and remember the path that I have taken with tarot. I want to share an old blog post with you, one that I wrote on December 5, 2016. This time was right at the infancy of Tea and Tombstones, and my initiation into the tarot. I began to read tarot as a mere hobby, but my writings (at least I hope) show how quickly tarot settled into my very bones, changing my internal narrative, as well as the words that I offered out into the world. I want to share how I see this old post, and this card.

5 of Cups from the Mystical Dream Tarot. The emotional vessel we are means that we have to be mindful of when we are full or overflowing. Emotions and reason embrace the depth of knowledge to be gained. Mindful grace will help that which is in the depth come to light.

I started learning tarot very slowly, pulling a card once a day, but really committing to writing about a card weekly, which highlights one huge change. I don’t do a weekly pull anymore. Why? Because I believe that tarot has so much to offer that I could spend a whole life time on one single card. Now I do the monthly ezines to explore more deeply the resonance with each card. In between the texts I have included the 5 of Cups from all my decks, highlighting the many images that I personally have with this card. The old text will be colored in yellow to highlight the breaks between my past post, and this current one I am writing now.

The first card in this weekly series is the 5 of cups. This is perhaps not the most inspiring card to begin the week, but there is a lot that can be gained from this cup, and understanding the energy behind it. With this card there is disillusionment, depression, a feeling of loss, or focus on the negative aspects in life.

5 of Water / Goldenseal from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot. All the fives relate to endangered herbs, Goldenseal being one of the most endangered herbs. There is a need to face the threats coming in, but to move from a space of mindful protection to create nourishing restoration.

I find both truth and also a novice simplicity to this card. The 5’s all represent confrontation, conflict, or challenge of some kind. The fives are not easy to deal with, but they offer a deep pull towards the spectrum, towards the communal nature of your beautiful spirit. It isn’t always easy. I do still believe that the 5 of Cups speaks to disillusionment, loss, grief. But, I think that the 5 of Cups also speaks to what it means to feel courage. To reveal the truth of your heart brings the other side of the spectrum. It brings the fear that keeps us stagnant, retreating towards safety. When the very nature of the heart brings opposition, confliction, or doubt, our heart beats more rapidly. We feel like we must choose between truth or freedom. In reality, they are one and the same. They are the embodiment of what it means to feel into emotional vulnerability at the very moment we are seeking security and safety.

This card speaks to what every person feels in life at some point. It is not always a joyful ride. With joy comes grief, with changes come emotional turmoil, with relationships comes setbacks or breakups. There is so much going on in the world politically, socially, and individually. It is normal to feel the weight of changes and uncertainties. Human are messy creatures that can hurt or be hurt. Hurt comes in many forms. Even just this time of year brings out a sense of isolation and solitude.

5 of Cups from the Dragon Tarot. Although not an interactive image, this card speaks to not dwell on dissatisfaction. All emotions will move through, but it is always within your power to sit with the discomfort, and create your own transformative fire.

I felt the 5 of Cups stir in me when I turned on the news, tapped into any social event, or felt into what it meant to be a person, living and breathing, during the times of 2016. I feel the 5 of Cups now. I feel the 5 of Cups now when I look at my platform and my business. There is so much I wanted to do with this blog, and looking back on it, on all my previous posts, I realize that I kept myself looking into the dark abyss, feeling inadequate, feeling not good enough, feeling like I wasn’t worthy of having the platform I desire.

That is what the 5 of Cups teaches us. It teaches us that emotions can be a predictor for how we show up in the world. That is not to say that we should never feel any shadow emotions. All emotions are valuable teachers, but when we dwell on those negative emotions, those fears and vulnerabilities, it can stagnate us. It can halt us in our tracks when all we want to do is run.

What can be gained from this card is a personal, emotional check- in. If these feelings are present, the best thing right now can be restraint and reflection. Hasty decisions can make situations worse. It is ok to disengage. It is ok to say not right now, and it is ok to sit with these emotions for a while before reaching conclusions.

5 of Cups from the Wild Unknown. Freedom to move and choose and act and breathe is still possible, but it requires your courageous heart to acknowledge and reveal. Vulnerability is the only way to be whole. We cannot move from both love and fear.

This is still one of my biggest action-points with the 5 of Cups, and what I speak to with clients. The 5 of Cups should teach us that acknowledgment is not the same as dwelling. Dwelling, as mentioned leads to stagnation. But acknowledging our discomfort, our troubling emotions, and letting it move us towards reflection can create a beautiful window that lets all the light in. If you find yourself in the 5 of Cups, it is important to lean into self-care and restraint. Reactive emotions can create more problems. Reflective emotions can create great change.

Pulling this card today reminds me that energy is cyclical, but actions don’t have to be. This time of year, whether it is the holidays, the election, or the general nature of things, is already a hard time. Focus on what is positive, and what deserves that positive energy. Expectations and actions can be improved. Reflect and move forward when the time is right.

5 of Cups from Ostara Tarot. When we focus on loss from the perspective of ego, we cannot see that loss is inevitable to free the spirit. When we focus on what we lack, we continue to sit in skin that is begging us to shed and grow. Look up. Sit in the discomfort. This too will provide you everything you need.

I also fully believe that emotions can be cyclical. Frustration, hurt, guilt, shame, discomfort, and more will surface again and again. Each time they do, we have are given the gift of choice, so that our actions are not the same as before, if those previous actions were not helpful, or led to further hurt. We have all been the receiver and giver of these hard emotions. Letting reflection come through by acknowledging the emotion can show us what can bring us back to center.

Overall, I feel into this card much like I did years ago. There are obvious nuances and subtleties that will grow and change over time, but the paydirt of this card still holds me the same way. I cannot say I love this card, but I love that it reminds me that I am human, and that I can be messy even when I am ascending spiritually. I love that this card shows me the way out is through, and that my, and your, courageous heart can flourish towards personal and communal good.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Hero’s Journal: Give Your Goal an Epic Quest

I am an avid journaler, so much so, that on the shelves of my desk hold at least ten journals, each with a different theme or focus. From gardening and plants, to tarot and gratitude, I love to journal. There is so much that can be said about journaling in regards to being an ally and healing enhancer. Journaling allows you full expression, or control of your expression, over a situation or circumstance without ever relinquishing safety or discomfort to the weight your words carry. You can tell someone to fuck off, without them ever knowing it. You can list every dream you have ever had to make connections to your subconscious projection. You can document and follow the course of your free-flowing thoughts with no regard to cause or consequence.

Journaling allows you to speak what needs to be spoken, without saying a word. It allows you the metaphorical microphone of universal witnessing. It is a sacred act of self-expression. I want to highlight one journal in particular- The Hero’s Journal. I want to highlight this journal as my pick for the month because it is a helpful tool for people like me who love to journal, but often get sucked into the format of free-write with little to no organization or thought for layout. This journal has also been helpful in keeping me on track, and reminding each day that the process of success of attainment is a journey, not a destination.

What It Offers: Organization, Visualization, and Balance

This journal is broken down into a complex format given for each day. The organization of this journal is loaded with resources including:

* offering gratitude, which has been shown to keep a positive perspective and sense of levity to all situations

*A calendar that allows you to adequately plan your day

*A place to write down what your goal is, so you can be reminded each and every day of what you are working for

* The most important three tasks to make sure you’re fulfilling the requirements needed to stay on track.

*An affirmation to motivate and inspire

*Needed balance in vocalizing threats and allies. Knowing both allows you to lean into support, while staying mindful of what could be a hindrance.

*There is a dotted section, helpful for any add-on’s, thoughts, or reminders. The visualization is adorable, and helps to give comedic relief, as well as reminding you that this is a journey.

*The journal is broken down into chapters with further journal prompts so you can move honestly and thoroughly through each phase of your journal.

I personally love the layout and feel of this journal. The thought process behind the creation, which you can get in more detail by clicking here to watch a short YouTube video from the creators, is this: by viewing and pursuing your goal as a quest and as a desire instead of a destination you become more awake to the vibrancy of your calling. You become more emboldened to live and feel and breathe in your personal paradigm.

In order for anything to be manifested, it isn’t enough to merely want it. You have to have the desire to see the journey through, during the discouragement and the beauty. This journal has been helpful for me in keeping me engaged each day that I use it. It has reminded me of my why and helps with my how. It makes me smile because who could’t smile at those adorable little raccoons on the bottom of the second page?

I love the layered approach to each daily post, and how the transition of the journey moves and morphs over time, as do all journeys we encounter. There are three different kinds of journeys, so you can choose your adventure. What I love so much about this journal is that I get to see the trajectory of my quest, and track my adventure. You can pre-order a journal by clicking here. If you like to journal, like to keep track of your progress, or want to give your goal some emphasis in folklore, check this journal out.

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Reading the Devil Card

The Dragon Tarot (left) and the Ostara Tarot (right)

The Devil card is quite a loaded tarot card, in fact, the mere mention or turn of this card can change the whole tarot reading, especially for someone just beginning to read to tarot for themselves, or for other people, but this card doesn’t have to the dark little cloud that rains on a beautiful tarot reading. In fact, this card can be a wonderful, amazing teacher, if we are willing to shed the archetype as we have known it for so long. Many religious texts and teachings place Lucifer as the direct anti-thesis to God, to purity, to ascension. I believe that the Devil card can provide the space to create some great work in this world, and I wish to add new narratives to this card. If you view and work with this card in a different way, I respect, but if you are open to a different interpretation, I gladly invite you into this space. I also highly recommend that you look to Lindsay Mack’s Tarot for the Wild Soul podcast with the Devil as one of the great liberators of the tarot. I love her work, and this episode really struck me when I first heard it.

Let’s first get started by talking about the meanings of the Devil tarot card. The Devil card is all about finding your autonomous center, or your own autocracy. This means that the Devil card is all about responsibility, accountability, freedom, and spaciousness. When finding your autonomy, you step into your power. You are the creator of your life, free to make it what you will. That also means that you need to take accountability for actions and movement and choices. This is a not a card of bad omens or terrible evil. It is a card that is inviting the seeker into a space of rebirth, but requires that you confront this space with a willingness to move and shed the former self. You are being asked to be your own light-bearer, willing to step into the transformative fires.

The Devil card is about the cause, or the why, and not the what when it comes to circumstance. This is why I don’t read this card in relation to addiction, vices, toxicity, or attachments. Those are consequences of a deeper cause. It is within that cause, that why, that the Devil is asking for understanding and merging. For example, for two monogamous people who are in a committed relationship, an affair or adultery would not be the focus of Devil energy, it would be the why. It would be the trajectory off-course between these two that would be where Devil energy is.

Another meaning about the Devil is about finding freedom from expectations, dogmas, or external forces that do not serve you. The Devil as a means for rebirth means that the self needs to shift away from perceptions and energies that do not serve you. If you are not hurting anybody else, or forcing your will on anybody else, there is nothing you owe to anybody in terms of reasoning or explanation. Your body, your spirit, your personal light is yours and it is within you that balance and pleasure and indulgence and pain and understanding sit. What you promote within and outside of your body is your choice, again as long as it does not infringe on the autonomy of another person, or as long as it does not incite violence or promote harm to another person.

Now that there is a little bit of an overview of what the Devil card represents, let’s go to some key themes when reading the Devil card. When working the Devil card, I think there are three things that should be present in order to fully work with this card. These three things are:

  • Release judgment, for yourself and others
  • Let go of the need to see external proof of this card
  • Allow for the human space to be present, step into your creature self

I believe that the first thing when working with the Devil card is to release judgment. Judgment creates bias and a hierarchy that does not serve this card, or the reading. When the Devil appears, there is an invitation to move into the source so that great work can be done for rebirth. The card that immediately follows the Devil is the Tower. This means that by finding that autonomous center, and shifting attention to the cause and not the consequence of circumstance, you are creating the space for the Tower to fall, disintegrating that which does not serve.

This requires confronting the cause, finding understanding, and shifting perspectives back to self with honesty. This is not easy to do. The Devil may be one of the great teachers in the card, but it is not easy work. That is why it is important to remove judgment from yourself. If you judge what comes forth, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Judging what comes forward honestly and authentically will stifle growth and intuitive guidance. It will shunt what the Devil is asking you to do, which is to find your own power, take accountability, and move into a spacious freedom that releases external narratives.

The next thing I think is important when reading this card is to not try to find external proof of this card. This card, as mentioned, is often considered the card of addictions, vices, or toxic attachments. Those external manifestations further judgmental thoughts and behaviors. The need to see and point the finger to something external is exactly the kind of narrative that shifts the energy of the Devil away. It is within you to take control and accountability. It is within you to step fully into your beautiful power. It is within you that your autocracy lies. These energies do not always have an external shape or outline to point to and say, “there is the Devil.” They may, and it can include those listed entrapments, but it could also be found in so many other things, things that may be little and hard to miss.

So, when looking to Devil energy, it is important to remember that the Devil can be in the smallest of details and moments, and they do not have to be bad in any way. Coming into your autonomy, and creating a spacious space for freedom within you can be as simple, yet profound, as saying no to an energetic vampire. It can be in seeking answers, and doing the research, not believing everything that you are told. Devil energy can be found in taking accountability and apologizing. In reading this card, let go of the need to see or speak to external embodiments becauce Devil energy is so much more complex than that.

Finally, when reading the Devil card, let the space for the human-ness to come forward. To go back to the need to read this card in relation to addiction, vices, or toxic connections, if that is truly what the Devil card was about, it would be pulled every time. Why? Because we are all human. We all have bad connections within us. We all have vices and things that we can’t pull ourselves away from. Again, these can be related to a behavior or a state of mind. For a comedic metaphor of this, I recommend watching the clip of Jim Gaffigan talking about McDonald’s, and how everyone has their own form or version of McDonald’s. The point is: we all have things in our life that may not be the absolute best for us, but we are not perfect beings. There is no such thing. Let the Devil invite you into the human aspect. Let it provide you with the comfort and freedom to be a human in this world, with judgment or constant need to point the finger to something external.

It is important to recognize this especially if reading for someone else. When the Devil card is pulled, as a reader, it is important to recognize that what makes this seeker a human is based on their internal, core why’s, so let the space open for them to find their own answers instead of placing this card into the evil, bad, dark space. We all have been the toxic person at some point, so approaching this card and each reading where this card comes up as a space to step into internal power rather than see it as some bad omen will completely transform the reading.

I hope this was helpful for you and your tarot readings, for yourself and others!

Posted on Leave a comment

When wellness doesn’t work……

With all this time in self-isolation and social distancing, so many thoughts and themes have been running like a wild horse in my mind. Although I believe strongly that holistic health practices and wellness techniques can create a strong foundation, I feel the need to talk about, and pull some cards, on what happens when wellness techniques aren’t working. What do you do when the toolbox has been emptied and used, with little to no results? The hard truth is that sometimes, despite all our intentions to tend to our needs, there is a deeper wound that refuses to be well.

All things exist within the Wheel

I sat down to pull a card, and the feeling that kept coming up for me was disappointment. I have been working with my own toolbox of wellness, one that I have been fortifying for years, and yet it has been a true sore spot of me. Turning it over revealed the Wheel of Fortune, a card that speaks to interconnection, nothing is lost or out of place within the wheel. Within the Wheel of Fortune, all moves together or not at all. One strand pulled on the dream catcher could release a knot somewhere else, holding everything in place.

It is also the card of energetic balance and cause and consequence. This brings us back to reality of wellness not always being available, providing a gentle salve of healing. Sometimes, wellness is not available as a healer, not because we are not doing the practices right, or because we don’t care, or are unworthy. Sometimes wellness is not available to us because there is hole deep within the psyche, and the implementation of wellness techniques pokes at that hole, stimulating the trigger that we are not without pain and disappointment and worry and grief.

Sometimes, disappointment festers deep in the unconscious, not stirring or stimulated until we bring forth a practice that should bring us more into alignment. Think of it like an anti-placebo. Being so focused on constantly using wellness techniques to find balance can have an opposite reaction. Hello Wheel of Fortune…..

So much emphasis on one trajectory means that the trajectory we are trying to move away is also turning, and sometimes the dial flips. Now, I am not saying that this means that all wellness practices should be forgotten, or that something is wrong with you if you are finding yourself in this space.

I have been here in some capacity for months. If you find yourself here, you are not alone. If you find yourself feeling disappointment, trying to remedy it, and just rubbing a sore spot…you are not alone. The lesson from the Wheel of Fortune is that all movement, however well intended, often puts the spotlight and what we want keep in the darkness. We cannot move towards wellness without even subliminally or subtly shining a light on from that which we are moving away.

There isn’t a hard or fast answer to remedy this, it may just take some time. One of the only ways I know to confront disappointment or pain or negativity when I have tried other and failed with other factors is journaling. Journaling allows expression over anything-bad good, right, wrong. Journaling is the place to emotionally dump all your shit. It doesn’t always bring an answer, but it can feel good to just get it out. Other ways might be a mantra like: “I am allowed to feel this” or “This too shall pass.”

Other techniques may be watching comedy, reading books, or finding ways to alleviate the brain, and your brain’s chemistry. It may also just need to heal in due time. Disappointment, and a plethora of other emotions, almost have their own brains or personalities, resilient in their attempt to keep us within arm’s length. In the end, the Wheel of Fortune does tell us that this too shall pass, it just may be uncomfortable as hell in the meantime….

Posted on Leave a comment

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.
Posted on Leave a comment

Archetypes

One of the decks that I have chosen to work with for the monthly cards is the new Archetypes deck from The Wild Unknown. I love this deck (and will be posting a detailed review for you to see this deck in depth), but to be clear, a tarot deck is filled with archetypes. An oracle deck is filled with archetypes. The whole world is filled with archetypes. You do not need this specific deck in order to work with archetypes. Like Kim Krans says in the guidebook, there is no one creator of archetypes.

This deck is one of the most beautiful decks I possess. If you want to work with an Archetypes deck, I cannot recommend this one enough.

Archetypes are created for and by the collective; that is precisely what makes them an archetype. This deck merely includes the archetypes that Kim Krans felt most connected to in her artistic rendering. The reason that I chose, and want to work with, this deck for the entire year of 2020 is because archetypes are meant to be opened, shared, understood, and integrated. However, as we begin to open the door to the Desert (the archetype for January) it is important to know and understand what exactly an archetype is.

http://www.dictionary.com defines archetypes as:

the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on
which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.

(in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought,
image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.


This means that each archetype once started as on original form of itself and took on an identity that transcends the form. Archetypes are steeped in the psyche of the collective, across culture, location, or time. This means that archetypes are therefore steeped in the individual’s psyche as well. Archetypes can take on various layers of form or understanding, but the core identity of the archetype remains the same.


For instance, if I asked you to draw an image in your mind of a witch, what form does it take for you? If I were to mention a female deer, do you see the doe as a victim of the hunt, or as a radiant earth-mother? Both themes exist with the archetype of the doe. The hunt and persecution of a female deer (Bambi anyone?) can then unfold to other archetypes. The gun is often an archetype for male domination and sex (Freud is the most well-known for attributing these phallic archetypes to the idea of male regeneration and women with penis envy). The archetype of the orphan comes in when the Bambi’s mother has been shot down because Bambi is now left alone in this now cruel world.

There is often an overt sexual tone to the archetype of the hunt as well. The pursuer and the pursued match each other in raw visceral energy, opening the door to both themes of violence and sex. I recommend reading the poem Pursuit by Sylvia Plath (a poem written right after she met her future husband, the daunting, charismatic, and unfaithful Ted Hughes) to see how the archetype of the hunt mirrors both themes of violence and sex, predatory
and prey.

I have seen readers post their opinion of Pursuit as one of the most erotic poems Plath has ever written. I would agree with this statement, even though the erotic nature of this poem also exposes a masochistic, shadowed side of eroticism.


Archetypes create the way for more archetypes. The archetype of the temple gives way to the archetypes of prayer, candle, healer. The archetype of the ruler brings up the archetype of the crown, the throne, the castle. What this means is that archetypes are fluid, born of the collective perception, but understood through symbols, images and stories. Archetypes arise from the psyche in a way that can show a connection of understanding to the collective narrative. This connection often anchors and comforts us, because it gives us an outline that we can
identify within ourselves.

Do you, or do you know people who like to see which Disney, Star Wars, or Superhero character they get on a Facebook quiz? Those are archetypes. They may not be the most accurate, more based on algorithms that honest answers, but it can be comforting to know that your answers reveal an archetype that speaks to you. In fact, while doing some research for this blog post I came across the Jungian Archetype test. You can take it by clicking here.


Another article that really helps to showcase how influencing archetypes are is here. In this article, Jeffrey states that archetypes are patterns of behavior. Archetypes arise during certain situations depending upon predispositions, attitudes, and even perhaps nature versus nurture. These archetypes can, again, be broken down, into smaller categories or other archetypes to explain the complex and multifaceted nature of the
human experience or human psyche.


In looking at the archetype of the Desert, we can immediately pull on other archetypes to create a deeper understanding. For me, the Sun (another magnanimous archetype) is present. Many depictions of the Desert also show cacti or even the iconic bull skull. This archetype is one of harsh and fierce, but beautiful energy. The Desert is an archetype that speaks to survival and death. It also speaks to being lost, exposed, and lacking in some way.
I have gone in depth to the Desert in my zine which you can access by clicking here.


There is way to much to say about archetypes to be fully contained into one blog post. I would like to end here by saying that archetypes, however you hold to them or not, is something to be open too. Look to where the Desert, or other archetypes, are opening for you. Look to where archetypes are speaking to you, to an idea, or a pattern of behavior and see how the archetype resonates with you. Working with archetypes can be incredibly challenging, highly revealing, or sometimes comical and fun.

Posted on Leave a comment

Book review: The Heart of Wicca by Ellen Cannon Reed

I intend to start posting more reviews on my platform: reviews of books, decks (a rare post as I am not a deck collector, but I do still buy the decks that really speak to me), podcasts, music, and more. If you have anything that you would like for me to review, comment below! My first review is going to be on a book that I just finished, The Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path by Ellen Cannon Reed.

I would first like to start by saying that I am not a Wiccan, and there may be themes or topics in this book that are over my head or beyond my comprehension because I do not subscribe to the path. I would also like to state that if I write something about this book, or about Wicca in general that is negative or a critique, I am not saying that you are wrong if you are Wiccan, love this book, or anything like that. This is simply a post coming from my personal insight and honesty as a new reader to this book, and these topics.

I picked this book up at a local store some time ago. As much as I know that I will ever become a Wiccan, I do want to learn and understand more about different religions and methodologies, Wicca included. That being said, I did not like this book. I found the tone to be off-putting, condescending, and elitist. The following paragraphs describe specifically what I did and did not like about this book, and why I only gave it a 1 out 5 stars on Goodreads.

First, the book is only 127 pages, which alone is not a problem. What irked me was those 127 pages read like a big condescending rant. The book is title The Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path, so I thought that this book was going to discuss some things that are paramount to the Wicca pantheon. Some of this was discussed, but not in any satisfying depth, which is not only disappointing, it is contradictory to the first paragraph. Reed states that other books often only skim the surface of Wicca, which is exactly what I thought of this book. (Reed 1)

One of the first things about this book that put me off was the constant contradiction. Reed would constantly state how other covens, or “new” Wiccans are doing things that irritate her, and then give one small sentence how her covens are not the only ones who do things right. I get the book is from her perspective and will obviously include her opinion, but it got a little tiring to read. From what I could find about the author, she walked this path for a long time before her passing, undoubtedly had a lot of wisdom about the path, and had seen how the path has morphed over time. From what I have heard from others who practice Wicca (how in depth, I do not know), the path is much more formulaic than others it seems. There are certain ways to do things, and ways to not do things. I do not have a problem with traditions, or Wiccans who use tradition in their magick or rituals. It simply read to me that those who don’t hold as much to tradition are doing it wrong, which I disagree with completely.

I was also not aware of how cutthroat the initiation process can be to get into a coven. Reed heavily emphasized that students who wished to be initiated into one of her two covens had to participate for a full year in rituals and traditions, and even then their initiation was not guaranteed. The coven goes off of gut feeling if a person will become an initiate into their coven. I am not saying this is right or wrong. I am simply saying that I did not realize that some covens were so selective. I can see the purpose, but all that did was emphasize why I have never been inclined to join a coven. I am a solitary witch anyway, but I feel like showing up should be organic and honest, a true statement of when and where they can be of service (which no human can always be of service 100% of the time). It should not be for mere attendance.

Again, I see the purpose of wanting a coven to be at its strongest. I can see why coven needs to be more than a social gathering. I can see why covens need to have a certain vulnerability to work through difficulties. Group magick won’t be as effective if some members are holding onto to old gripes, either petty or truly valid. However, I simply could not fathom being accepted or rejected from something I had invested my heart and time into based upon someone’s feeling about me. I also feel that accepting or rejecting someone based on gut feelings leaves room for human error and bias. I find it ironic that during much of the text, Reed makes it clearly known that both students and teachers will at times falter or stumble, as they are human. But, when it comes to the intimate process of bringing in a new and willing participant into the coven, that is left solely to gut feelings and bias.

Maybe that is just me…….

I also feel that people who say a coven always and immediately has stronger magic than a solitary practitioner are honestly just trying to recruit. As a solitary witch, I feel I enter a deeply intimate and magickal experience when I stand in my circle, my guides and the universe the only ones to witness me. I feel free and capable and empowered and deeply loved. No coven, no matter how established, can take that away from me. Reed did say that with the rise in popularity, there is no way that every single Wiccan could join a coven because there are not enough teachers to fulfill the needs of each new practitioner. With how cutthroat the initiation process is, I can see why……

The final point I want to make about snobbish and elitist mentalities come in the chapter about initiation, a chapter I find ripe with contradiction and looking down the proverbial nose on those who don’t follow the same path. Reed states there are two types of initiations: the one that comes from the coven, and the one that comes from spirit. The one that comes from spirit cannot come from a human, or from the self. It can only come from the Gods and Goddesses unveiling the mysteries to you in a process. Putting aside the fact that I disagree with that, I want to focus more on what Reed states about coven initiations. She makes the point that college degrees have fallen in strength, no longer holding the same weight as before, and that she does not want that to happen to her initiates. While I understand her wish for nothing but the best from her initiates, what I took from that is her saying that her coven members are more deserving of the magickal path, and stronger in their magickal creeds. This is simply not true. Credentials are great, but they don’t mean that someone is stronger, more pure of heart, or more deserving of the magickal path than a solitary witch, non-Wiccan witch, or anyone who isn’t in her coven. (Reed 58)

Okay, now on to some things that I agreed with Reed on: working with deities, and certain aspects of training and studying. In working with deities, I agree with her that it is important to treat it like any other relationship. It is not polite to call in a deity simply because you heard a friend or colleague say they did it. It isn’t polite to call them in to fulfill a need without doing some basic research or creating some respectful energy. Some deities will be lifelong influences. Other may be some that you work with on specific occasions. I don’t see a problem with any of that, as long as you approach the relationship with respect, and a willingness to engage in the process with this deity. Take time to read about them, visualize them, give an offering to them, or connect with them before simply asking for things.

I also agree that spiritual work does not, and should not, equal easy. Spiritual bypassing and a refusal to confront the shadow self in the end does more damage, and weakens the spiritual path. There is no race towards the other side of the darkness. There is no hierarchy for who has gone farther, confronted more, or overcome more. Please don’t feel like you taking the time you need to confront the difficult means your spiritual is lesser. In fact, you are doing what others refuse to do. I personally feel that we see this way to much with positivity culture. We need to be willing to share our hurt and pain and fear and dread. Those are just as valuable of spiritual teachers as any mentor or positive moment. I also agree with her that spells are a small section of a big umbrella called magick. I also agree that spell casting should be done wisely, and without vengeance in the heart.

Overall, this book did not pass the mustard for me, which I think I have made clear. Even Reed herself acknowledges on page 127 that the views of her and like-minded individuals may be seen as snobbish, old-fashioned, and elitist. Snobbish and elitist, yes. Old-fashioned, no. I actually wished that her book contained more of her “old-fashioned” views and tenets. I wish that she went more into specifics, and spent less time putting down anyone new to the path, or anyone who may stray from her opinion of how things should be done.

Reed, Ellen Cannon. Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path. Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2000.