Thursday, November 12, 2009

Foxtower Photography

My friend Charlie McDougall is a truly gifted photographer. I invite you to check out his website:

His ability to capture spirit in nature is incredible. I always find looking at his work to be uplifting.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


"I continually need the reminder that nobody gets to have the world revolve around them, the weight of gravity would be too much to bear, but it's a neat thing that everyone, absolutely everyone, gets to stand directly above the center of the earth. Remembering that is to be self grounded rather than self centered".

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Ching

One of the systems that I use on a personal basis for meditation, reflection and insight is the I Ching.

Finding a good working translation that helps to apply it to daily life is important. For a good many years, I have gone through a number of copies of "The I Ching Workbook" by R. L. Wing. From this basic manual I have been able to better understand the more in depth translations of others. Wing has a number of other books that many friends also recommend.

The workbook format also allows the user to see where, overtime, certain patterns occur. Here's the link:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Queen Of Pentacles Story

Sometimes I use stories I have heard or things that I have experienced to illustrate something about a card or a symbol. I was talking about the Queen of Pentacles the other day and I remembered a story about a friend's grandmother that fit perfectly with the idea of resourcefulness and values - based thinking that this card can represent.

My friend's Grandmother, or Nana as they called her, married very young, probably in her mid to later teens and in the time just following the great depression (the late 1930s). Her husband was a mechanic in a little garage and very traditional in the idea that he was the breadwinner, he didn't want his wife to work.

Nana was very resourceful, she made her own clothes as well as drapes and curtains. She was a tremendous cook and soon her neighbors were asking her to do some baking for them. She happily obliged as well as making drapes. When her husband came home for lunch, she had to whisk everything out of sight, under the bed or into the closet went the drapes.

Every Friday, she would sit down with her husband after supper and he would give her his pay envelope and she would do her accounts. After the bills were paid, she gave him back the rest of the money (because the man handled the money) and she would keep everything that was a five dollar bill or less. He thought she used that for "pin money".

One particular Friday, shortly after their first child was in school, probably about 6 or 7 years into wedded bliss, she told him that she had something to show him and he'd better sit down. He refused and asked "what have you done now"? She pulled out a bank book and said "you can buy the garage". Needless to say he fainted, (he shoulda sat down). One wonders what this woman, with a limited education and the restrictions of her time could have done with a lot of the advantages we take for granted nowadays.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Relevant Elements

Fire, Water, Air, Earth

From the time we all started walking upright (both as a species and as individuals) four things were necessary to our survival and also have had to be respected as powerful and in some instances, potentially dangerous. They are four tools that we have to work with; earth, water, fire and air. They are found in the root symbolism of most cultures the world over and are at the basis of many forms of spirituality, astrology, Tarot and countless other systems of thought. I think it may have been significant that these elements were things that were not just life sustaining but also four ways we literally dissolve. When a person dies you can either stick the body in the ground, burn it up, throw it in the ocean or put it on a burial platform in the air. Maybe this is part of why these symbolic elements have been important to people for so long.

OK, you're probably getting a little impatient and are asking "fine and dandy, what does this have to do with ME"? I have to work with an understanding of these elements in their relevance to people in the here and now. There's the conscious level on which the person being read is seeking and there are sometimes the signals trying to get through on another level. A person might want "their fortune told" which is fair, but a pretty superficial kind of reading and I'd like to think I'm able to provide a lot more than that. It would be like looking at the elements just as love life, work life, money and battles. But on a more proactive level those same categories are the responsibilities we have in Compassion, Constructiveness, Values and Boundaries. I boil them down most simply as our prime functions of feeling, doing, owning, and fighting. We evolve when we work with them consciously.

The Elements In Our Lives

Here's another way of looking at the elements: Let's imagine we are going to a party in a big house with lots of people that drift around and generally congregate into groups.

Usually the "feelers" are in the kitchen around the food and the sink or by the bathroom door, talking about what's going on emotionally. Feelers do and own and fight but they are predominant in feeling, nurture and compassion. They tie into the element of water and in Tarot that's the suit of cups.

The doers are generally active,
playing ping pong or talking about their doing. Their work for instance, or the deck they built. They tend to be more competitive. They also feel and fight and own but they identify with doing. Their element is fire and in Tarot that is the suit of wands.

Owners are not necessarily materialistic but I picture them in the library. They look at many sides of a situation. Tending to weigh options in line with their values and their resources. "What is the issue
worth to me?" they ask. They look at things in relation to their values. Their accumulated experience and the experience of others. They "own up" to things. They too experience the other elements but predominate with earth energy, symbolized as pentacles.

The fighters are sometimes having a debate or at the very least a discussion about things. they tend to use exclamation points a fair bit. They communicate succinctly and make their point. they watch how others react. Sometimes they need to "clear the air" and they are the air element and their suit is swords.

All Four One And One Four All

We experience all of these areas, some of us are more at home in some than in others and we go through periods of our lives that may have a really predominant element to them. Most often though it is a mixture. They flow into one another, sometimes comfortably and sometimes not so.Too much of an element can be damaging.

Sometimes the purpose of a reading is like lifting the hood on an engine and seeing how these things are interacting, or like a personal trainer looking at your workout plan.It can help us see where we are over relying on an element and give us choices as to how to work through things differently. Most of us have blind spots in our energetic awareness, consequently sometimes we are using the wrong tool on a job.

Understanding the elements in our lives and within ourselves is a big part of Tarot work.

What Does This Card Mean?

I am not a Tarot authority and I've never claimed to be. Just because a person has been speaking a language for most of their life doesn't make them a linguistic expert. There are courses in Tarot and levels of certification that exist today (some I hear that are very good) that were not available when I began as a reader back in ’82. I learned, and continue to learn in the doing. I found authors who I could relate to and people I could share with and I continue to seek. What I share here is just my own perspective that continues to evolve.

I began reading without Tarot. I was always able to “pick up” things with people. But I found it is a vehicle that works best for me and is most comfortable for those I read for. I am able to ground what I get intuitively with what I see in the cards and they allow me to have an illustrative tool that the person I am reading for can see. They also allow me to organize thoughts and see relevant patterns in the different aspects I am receiving.

People often ask "what does this card mean", as if the answer were as simple as looking a word up in a dictionary (ha ha ha!). Which dictionary? Websters? The dime store one? Maybe that great font of misinformation - the Internet? Or even a good standard, responsible dictionary like the one you have on a shelf that you've been using for a gazillion years, surely that would give a definitive answer wouldn't it? In an absolute Dictionaries get updated every so often and you'll notice that beside a word there are the numbered interpretations of that word. Your good old dictionary MIGHT be out of date!

I just found a good illustrative article about the etymology (evolution) of words:

Studying Tarot's history is a fascinating undertaking. Over time people have added associations to it and some aspects have been dropped. There have come to be recognised some inherent rules to Tarot and it's structure that have been hammered out in long successions of scholars. Some deck creators choose to follow these and some (frustratingly) don’t.

Tarot is a little like Windows for computers, it’s not a perfect system but it is largely out of the winnowing out process that it has changed and will no doubt change again (i.e. In many early Tarot and playing card decks the four suits were relevant to the four classes of society -military, merchant, nobility etc. - as society changed these associations changed too).

The more you work with any symbolic system, the more you start to notice, or create certain patterns or associations. The more these associations work the more ingrained they become or they get discarded over time. The format that has evolved for me with Tarot is much like that. Like most readers, I have developed an approach that brings the possible interpretations into relevance to the people I read for. This has meant looking at the basic structure of the deck on a number of levels. There are connections I have made that work for me and that a lot of people have been able to relate to.

So back to the question…when I'm asked the meaning of a card, I have to answer from the perspective of what it means based on a number of factors;
  • What it means in relation to what I am receiving intuitively.
  • What it is saying in relation to the other symbols (i.e.card combinations, predominance of symbols and suits).
  • What I have found that card to mean relative to many such interpretations and through study of other's interpretations.
I also usually have to stress that the interpretation of the card is the interpretation in the context of the reading. If you were to take all the meanings of a card like the Hierophant and talk about them you'd be running longer than the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

Or (*GRIN* ) you could refer to the teeny tiny book that comes with the cards when you remove the cellophane and take them out of the box.