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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.

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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.