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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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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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The Law of Creation

Law 2: The Law of Creation

The second karmic law is the Law of Creation. This law states that life does not merely happen by chance or coincidence. Life is formed in the forges of ourselves; we are the creators. This means that as creators for our own lives, it is imperative that we hold to our truth, and honor that which makes each of us who we are. If you hide your truth or refuse to be an active participant in the daily makings of your own life, it can be of no surprise then, when your life does not hold the glittering riches of what you value.

One of the things that is important to be an active creator of your life, is to be present and aware of what is around you. Why? Because what is around you can be a direct message about your internal self. If your external world, and the way it moves and flows daily is peaceful (for the most part), inclusive (of yourself and others), creative (sacred expression), your internal self probably feels secure and sound. If your external world moves and flows daily from a place of fear, anger, or isolation, your internal world probably feels like a struggle or energy drain.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels

The Law of Creation, with each person as the creator, means that if your world and external self are not in alignment with your higher potential, your internal self is most likely out of alignment with your truth. When or if this happens, look to what is within you that needs to be present and seen. Look to what your truth is, and that which you seek. If you look for answers and solutions outside yourself, your internal self is constantly left to adapt to themes, ideas, and situations that are not in alignment with your core.

5 of Pentacles from the Ostara Tarot

I think this sentiment applies nicely to the 5 of Pentacles, the tarot card of the month. This image shows a girl standing outside of a cathedral, and she is clearly destitute at the moment. Her wrap is in rags, her skin is exposed, and the night is bleak and snowy. With her is a snake, wrapped around her closely. Together they attempt to move and protect themselves from the elements. What she does not realize is that right next to her, shining through the cathedral window, is a stained-glass portrait of a snake wrapped around a tree of five pentacles.

If she would just turn and look at the light shining and the portrait on the stained-glass window, she would realize that she is where she needs to be to heal and be whole again. She would realize she is welcome beyond the doors of her current situation. Only she can make the choice to look and see that world is giving her an opportunity to regroup and grow through her personal truth. She is being given an opportunity by the universe to seek that which is seeking her, and to be part of the oneness of life.

The Law of Creation, since it applies to each person, means that you connecting to your life, forged from your own daily creation, means that when you meet another person, animal, or personified spirit, you are connecting to the oneness of the universe. Your life creation is a creation of energy. This energy is elevated through choice to be part of the wholesome universe as one energetic force.

There are certain things that are obvious outliers for the Law of Creation (in my humble opinion). Freak accidents happen. Bad things happen to good people. Life is often a painful experience. What is not an outlier that you, and each person, create your life through your choices, actions, relationships, intentions, spirit, and so much more. When looking to use the Law of Creation to connect more deeply to the oneness of yourself and beyond, look to the current energy within and around you. Ask yourself if you are happy. Ask yourself if you are okay. Ask the universe to help reveal the opportunity you need to grow, and then look up and choose…….

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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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Being Honest

9 of Pentacles from the Wild Unknown deck

If I could break down my thoughts this week regarding the 9 of Pentacles reversed, it would be this word: reveal. The word reveal in this context means to take time to reconnect and return to the things we love, or the things we love to do. The beautiful thing about the 9 of Pentacles reversed is that it shows us that we are capable of providing for ourselves the abundance we seek. We are capable of soaking in the sensuality of living in presence to our surroundings. That is not to say that we need to be like this all the time, nor does this card show that we need to relinquish all material possessions.

The 9 of Pentacles reversed is more about intention, and taking to time to find presence with the things around us we love, want, or need. There is a level of true honesty that comes with the 9 of Pentacles reversed. There needs to be honesty about what we have, what we need, and even what we want. There also needs to be honesty about how we reveal this physical abundance to ourselves, and how we use it.

When it comes to being honest about what we have, this means that we need to be able to identify our needs. Like in the picture, the nest may not be as grand as possible, but it is secure and made with love. It holds the precious state of creation without shape. It holds a vibrancy that could make the Sun swoon. Yet, these worldly treasures are so simple. It is about what could be, and how to get there. If the resources used are wrong, those fragile circles would succumb. If it was too grand, that may not have been a wise investment of energy. By naming our needs our needs, we recognize by default our time and space presence. We recognize that through our needs is a space for intention and construction.

We also need to be honest if we are buying, consuming, or using things because we truly cherish them, or simply because they were on sale, easy to get, or fulfilled an idea. We also need to be honest about we want. Do we want something in our home because it is pretty? Do we want to experience something that may be out of budget because we can’t stand the idea of not having the experience? Do we have the means to get that which we want? Again, it is about honesty and intention. If there is something you want, or something you want to do, that’s great. The 9 of Pentacles reversed is simply there to provoke and ask: how and why?

I mentioned in my free newsletter (which you can find under my FREE OFFERINGS TAB) that there is an element of sacrifice and surrender to the 9 of Pentacles reversed. Sacrifice is not a bad thing, but in our consumer-driven society, it is painted as such. Sacrifice here means reconnecting to purpose and priority. That means that perhaps you have something you really want, but you may need to sacrifice that morning cup of coffee, or that night out on the town. If your morning cup of coffee or a night out with friends beats what you want, there is nothing wrong with that.

The 9 of Pentacles reversed is simply asking you to be clear about what and where your values are. If you choose to create a budget so you can afford what you want, then great. Again, it’s simply about clarity. I recognize here that my examples are exceedingly basic. That is because I obviously cannot presume to know what sacrifice will look like to each person. I am therefore using basic examples here to merely make the point. I am also using examples that I know I have confronted recently. I am constantly drawn to buying a tea or snack from the coffee shop at my school. When I realized how much I spending each month, it revealed to me how much I took for granted how far a few dollars go every day.

In my personal opinion, the reason why sacrifice can feel hard is because it is uncomfortable to say no to things. It is uncomfortable to be honest with ourselves and say that we need to do better, make better choices, or find more presence with the things we have. It can be really uncomfortable to place boundaries around a lifestyle we have grown accustomed to. But if that lifestyle is luxury wrapped in debt, we may need to be honest about it. It can feel uncomfortable to say no to things we really want, including experiences, but if they move us out of alignment with our purpose and priorities, it is a needed no.

When thinking about the word reveal, this card really gets to the bones of our structures. Finding presence with ourselves will reveal a lot. Listing where our abundance is, and being honest about sacrifices and boundaries is going to reveal a lot too. It may change some things too. Only you, and each person, knows where those lines lie. No two people will create the same nest, and that is a beautiful thing. No two people will have exactly the same values and priorities. Again, it is all about intention. What you do intend to do this month? What is your purpose? What are your priorities? Start to look at resources you have that be of service to you. Start to be honest about some needed sacrifices that may need to be made. In the end, come back to intention, and you will stay in alignment.

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Wellness Wednesday: Breathing and the King of Pentacles

King of Pentacles

 

(Breathing is the second dimension in John W. Travis’s 12 Dimensional Model of wellness, but I found them through Michael Arloski’s book Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change)

One does not have to look far these days to read about the effects both physically and physiologically when it comes to the breath. The action of breathing and finding breath is now used across a wide variety of modalities to center, ground, and come back to self. Breath is the source. It is the lifeline to all that we do, and all that we have done. All of these new breathing techniques may seem like quackery, but there is something very real in coming back to the breath.

When was the last time you counted your breaths? When was the last time you actively breathed? We are all breathing because breath is life, but when was the last time you acknowledged this force? If it has been a while, don’t worry. It is that way for many people. We get so caught up in the responsibilities and hustle of life that we keep going, knowing that our breathing will take us where we need to be, even if we completely forget about it.

But this simple act of connecting down into the breath does not have to be surrounded by the ideal setting of quiet reflection on a grassy hill. We can connect to breath anywhere. I like to connect to my breath while driving. I don’t need to close my eyes, and I don’t need to be completely serene. In fact, driving to school in morning traffic is probably the last place where we might expect to connect to breath, but I have found that is one the places where I need it most.

Feelings and emotions take about 90 seconds to process. That means that for 90 seconds, our physiology is responding to the waves of physical output from emotional input. In these 90 seconds, if we can allow ourselves to honor, hold, and learn about what is triggering us, it usually will drift away without physical consequences.

This is why I love connecting to my breath while I am driving. Anyone who drives in rush hour traffic can probably speak to the collective energy. Everyone is in a rush. Everyone needs to be somewhere. I often feel like there is a cloud of negativity while I drive. Someone is cutting someone off. Someone is being a jerk. Someone is getting pissed off, and people try to vocalize the cause and effect of right and wrong with their vehicle. Obviously this is not the place. It is dangerous and stupid, but road rage is a real thing.

But I ask: what would happen if instead of getting furious at the person who cut us off, we counted to 90? What if we used that 90 second time-frame to recognize we are angry and feel wronged, instead of acting out our feelings? This is not easy. No one is perfect at this, but it has become something of positive importance to me. By using those triggers to connect into my breath instead of lashing out I go deeper into myself, and spare myself from negative energies in trying to scrap with someone else.

Breath is such a powerful force. It can shape and mold how we deal with the hardest of situations. It is the sound we long to hear from just-born babies. It is the echo that we will slowly, but continuously put out there. Our breath is ours, and even when someone has wronged us, even when the unthinkable happens, we have our breath. Breath can help us cope through painful situations, and keep us centered as we attain victory. The King of Pentacles is a perfect example of of physical recognition and physiological mastery. Often the King of Pentacles is associated with ample wealth, but I would argue that having breath at all is more ample wealth that any material thing.

This idea has been surfacing for years, and now it is everywhere. From yoga to public speaking to coping mechanisms, breathing is becoming a real ally for us all. It grounds us down to the source, but expands our consciousness to the energies around us. The King of Pentacles is expansive in his physical abilities, and his physical kingdom. He rules over more than just his body, but it starts with him. The King of Pentacles can always find control over some physical dominion because he has learned how to control the inputs and outputs of life. We don’t have to be the King of Pentacles to start this process. Just start to acknowledge the breath. Count to 30-60-90, and breathe.

(Tarot card shown is from the Ostara Tarot)

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Saturday Reflections: Scorpion and the 3 of Pentacles

Saturday 3.17.2018

“I saw the sun disappear / into mist as it reached / the horizon. And an egret / airborne, circling all / this time” ~ Running by Leslie Ullman

I don’t know about you, but much of my week is spent doing so many things, that I hardly get the time to take a look inward, to reflect on needed remnants from my inner low-tide. If I do get the time, I am hardly useful, except to remind my cats with a good scratch under the chin that they are why I do what I do. The weekends however, are when that silent wind sings out strong in me and I can say the words, much like singing to a forgotten, but beloved song.

I chose two cards to be the catalyst towards my introspection. The cards are the Scorpion and the 3 of Pentacles. One of the first things I look for in cards drawn is comparisons, or differences. The first thing I see in these cards is the difference in elements. The Scorpion card resembles the fire element. Pentacles are of the earth. In the real world, fire and earth do not mix. My stomping ground (Colorado) is constantly besieged with fire warnings in the summer because it is so dry. But fire does fertilize the soil, churns dormant seeds to sprout with the help of sun-fire and needed rain. This tells me that much of the energy will be a trial of fire. New growth can come, but it requires a sacrifice.

The Scorpion is the embodiment of the free-spirit. When this card is pulled it is a reminder to walk our path but hold some defenses. Not all those will admire the strength to walk your line, to live accordingly to your surroundings and spirit. The ones that do admire and hold to this are passionate in their own ways. They see the strength in individuality because they also walk their own fire. A scorpion can live in almost desolate climates, they can survive without food for periods of time, only as long as they have water. As long you have that which nourishes your source, you can survive.

However, the spirit of the Scorpion is one that also brings baggage. Scorpion souls carry the venom of the past, the pain of toxic situations and circumstances. In order to stand in our fire, we must only use that baggage when needed. We must use negative feelings with the attempt to try to heal, and forgive. Is there anything you are carrying that is no longer serving you? How could you turn this into growth? How can you forgive even those words were never mentioned by someone? This is not easy. I know I still struggle with this sometimes. I look to the past to learn, but in true honesty, I am looking to the past because I haven’t found my own healing. This is human. If you can relate, know that you are not alone. And if all I can do here with my business and these words is to state that I believe in you wolf-darling, then I can go to bed fulfilled.

The act of forgiveness and skillfully growing bleeds beautifully into the meaning of the 3 of Pentacles. The 3 of Pentacles brings many things to my mind. One is that of collaboration. The three pentacles from the rudimentary shape of something majestic. Another is the act of starting in different places, but all paths lead to a similar destination. Another is knowing which energy you can honestly give at that point in time. There are times where we do not have to hold the whole spectrum of color. We just have to put our energy out there in a way that contributes to the whole spectrum.

Find your inner free-spirit by surrounding yourself with those who will help bring out the positive or best in you. Become engaged with anything that helps you stand in your fire truthfully. For me, this is often found by just being in my home. When I am home I am reminded of where my growth has gotten me. I try to relieve the baggage by standing naked, surrounding myself with my words of love for my family and my creations. We cannot always start or hold the same energy as the day previously, but we can be honest and say that this is what we have to give today. We cannot retell the past. It is what it is. And even if we cannot start where we wish we could, we can be honest and say that. We do not have to reinvent the wheel of all our situations because of the baggage we carry. But we can be honest, walk our path, and move towards growth.

**Thank you so much for reading. Please let me know your thoughts. If you would like a reading, please check out my Policies and Code of Ethics, and my spread options. Thank you for being awesome, wolfling. My wolf-pack is where I am my honest and true free-spirit. Stay wild.**

The decks that I have used are The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit and The Wild Unknown Tarot. Click here to find them for purchase. (This is not an affiliate link).