The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ”— Maya Angelou. I did it! I found a home! It's beautiful and cozy and sweet and happy and it's just the sort of house I imagined for myself. It ...
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78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal - 5 new articles

Home Sweet Home

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”— Maya Angelou

I did it!  I found a home! It's beautiful and cozy and sweet and happy and it's just the sort of house I imagined for myself.  It was built by the seller's grandfather in the 40's. He owned a sawmill that made doors. So he used his "extras" from unclaimed door orders in his own house.  No two doors/door-frames are the same size. He used red oak for the floor throughout the house, even in the kitchen. The baseboards and moldings are generous with deep windowsills, stained to match the floors. I have a vestibule (!) with windowed doors. The house has a rather unremarkable exterior, but inside it's an adorable cottage with bright yellow kitchen cabinets that line the length of the large kitchen. We moved in June and couldn't be happier with our new home.  At last, I am home.
1JJ Swiss Tarot Created by Stuart Kaplan
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - AGM-Urania 1970

The "Congrats! You did it" card in tarot is The World. As I wrote in "The Spiral World" the World card is about those times on our journey when we overcome obstacles, complete an objective successfully and feel joy, freedom and a sense of accomplishment.  But with every accomplishment is a new beginning, a new level, a new set of challenges to face. As a homeowner, I am responsible for repairs, improvements, maintenance, insurance, trash pickup, and all that comes with having a home of one's own.  There's a learning experience almost weekly here but I'm welcoming even the hard stuff.

Tarot of Dürer
Created by Giacinto Gaudenzi Published by Lo Scarabeo

It begins as this 4 of Wands from the Tarot of Durer, a dream on a foundation. The woman's expression in this card is hilarious.  She's all "Yeah, yeah, whatever. We've got four poles and a lion skin rug. This is not a house. Let me close my eyes to try and imagine because this ain't it." It reminds me of the many houses we toured and tried to envision as our own but which were inadequate and in need of work beyond our means.
Housewives Tarot Created by Paul Kepple
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - Quirk Books

It ends in 4 of Wands moments like this one from The Housewives Tarot.  Moments of bliss like the housewarming party when my family brought laughter and love and blessed my home with appreciation and most of all, their presence.  Friends hanging out on the back porch into the night, lit only by a garden torch and the glow of cigarettes.  Crockpot buffets, friends sitting at the kitchen table creating their own culinary delights to share, all of us smooshed together on the living room sofa and loveseat.  Hauling the extra chairs in from the kitchen so we can all be together in one room. Scooting past laughing people in my kitchen to reach the refrigerator to get someone a beer.  It is nothing short of delightful.

Also delightful are the quiet starry skies I find myself drinking in while sitting on my back porch by myself.  How starved I had been for outside space while  living our apartment life! We didn't have even a balcony there. I'm dotted with mosquito bites but I am undeterred from watching the fireflies dance and rise from the grass in my back yard.  As the evenings chill I am to be found wrapped in a quilt on the porch enjoying the outside until inevitably the cold forces me back inside.

When Habitat for Humanity -- a non-profit that builds homes for people and families in need of a decent and affordable home -- asked Habitat homeowners "What does home mean to you?" the most often repeated word I noticed among the answers was "stability."  Fours in tarot mean exactly that. The 4 of Wands stability is unique because of the fire element in the Wands suit. Fire, by nature, must be continuously fed to produce heat, light, energy.  Likewise, the stability of a home must be continuously nourished with the ongoing process of homekeeping -- everything from maintenance and repairs, decorating and landscaping to entertaining and making memories with friends and family.

Wands symbolize the energetic force behind creativity and bringing things dreamed into being.  Our homes are rich with personal investment and expression. One might think a house should be represented by the suit of Pentacles, made of earthly substance such as wood and stone. But houses are more than that. They shelter us and speak of our identity. They offer warmth and safety, but also frustration and grief.  They serve as a place where we are safe to pursue and express our creativity, devote our energies, and nurture the soul as well as the body.  How very Wands-like.

I'll close this with a song that kept me going through the long and arduous search.  Enjoy.

Machine Gun Kelly, X Ambassadors, Bebe Rexha
Atlantic Records
from Bright the Album


A Necessary Revival

I've been tossing stuff in the apartment complex dumpster more than usual lately.  See, I'm in the process of house hunting and I'd rather not take anything with us to the new house that we don't need or want anymore.  While the search for a proper and affordable home is taking much longer than I anticipated, it has granted me enough time to de-clutter and reorganize the pantry, the bathroom cabinets, the walk-in closet, my dresser drawers, and the laundry closet.  So far.  There's always more. The process has been at times difficult, not because I cling to my stuff but because I realized in mid-purge that I haven't truly claimed this space in which I have been living for the last ten years.

Subconsciously, I viewed this apartment as temporary and didn't invest myself or care as much for it as I had when I lived in my own home. Not that anyone else could tell. No one who has visited me here would think that the place wasn't "mine."  It, like every other space I've ever lived in, reflects my personality and very much looks like home. When I left my old life to make a new one, I naturally brought my stuff with me -- my furniture, my art, my books.  I realize now that many of those things symbolically tied me to my old life and to the old me.  Some items never quite fit right in this new space and always reminded me where they used to be, the spaces they were meant to fill, spaces that were no longer mine.

I have a nagging sense that one of the reasons it has taken so long to find a new home is that I had yet to completely let go of my old one.  I haven't lived there in ten years, but I've missed it so much.  My ex-husband Steve and I had the good fortune to customize the home as it was built, and I was able to choose so much about the space in which we lived and raised our children. Our children are grown now. Only one still lives at home, but he is in college and is looking toward a near future independence.  Steve remarried last year. That's probably significant, but not as significant as the fact that because he did I am no longer welcome in the home I built. His new wife is "uncomfortable" with me visiting. Despite ten years of a close, co-parenting friendship shared with my ex-husband, and despite that I am happily ensconced in a solid and committed relationship with Mike, despite that I still have belongings stored in that home, I am persona non grata in his new life. For that, I am hurt.  I have a very compelling and irrational desire to scoop up all of my stuff out of that house, including the wallpaper, the floors, the jacuzzi tub, the stained glass window at the stair landing, and my son -- who would not be scooped -- and close the door to that house forever.  I want to raze it to the ground. I don't want any pieces of me left there, but there is no helping that.  I played a huge part in creating and maintaining that house, that home. I blessed it with my self and now I must truly let it go. It's time.  And it's hard.

It's rather like shedding a skin, a kind of arduous renewal.  Like the Judgement card in tarot.  There's nothing left in the past but ghosts, fond memories, and regret. Now, I am replacing the art on my walls with new perspective.  I've tossed books in the dumpster, yes I did.  (Don't judge me! I needed to do it.) I'm heeding the internal call to rise up and leave my old self in the grave. Meanwhile, I bought new pillows for the sofa and a new quilt for the bed.  The outer is giving voice to the inner, one that speaks of fresh starts even as I stay, for now, in the same space. Feeling accomplished as I admire the organized pantry, the clean (empty!) spaces in my closets, and feeling lighter each time I toss another bag or box into the dumpster, I am moving ever so steadily out of the past me and into the future me.

This is precisely the sort of experience the Judgement card is referencing.  In the Druid Craft tarot the artists renamed it "Rebirth" which places the focus more on the result of the process whereas "Judgement" places the focus on the process itself.

Druid Craft Tarot

noun: judgement
the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

Judgement is discernment and choosing. As I sift through my home spaces, I must discern the current value of the thing in my hand. Things that once held value but are no longer useful to me are removed, tossed, or donated to others who may find value in them.  It requires objectivity and wisdom. The Judgement card is also about completing a major life cycle and is a time when one frees oneself from the past and its longstanding thought-patterns and behaviors that are no longer serving you and are, in fact, dragging you down, robbing you of energy and preventing progress, just like those clothes that don't fit are silently judging you and hogging up space in the closet. Ultimately, you are your own judge and jury and your own higher calling, so there really is no outside source judging you.  It's all you, baby.  You're in control of the process and the pace. Unlike Death, which is also a kind of metamorphosis, Judgement isn't thrust upon you by chance. Judgement is a choice made consciously and with intent.  I have taken it slowly, one small space at a time, and I have broken up the process with choosing art and other decorative things that bring me pleasure.  It's hard work digging out of a grave, so the breaks are necessary and restorative.

The Illuminated Tarot
I am certainly not purging everything from my home.  I am actually keeping many, if not most of the things.  But I am giving some things new uses and assimilating other things and the rest placed into organized spaces.  So too the life I have lived so far has been rich with experience and lessons.  I am holding on to all that is worthy, both internally and externally.  The process is not a rejection of one's history but an assessment and incorporation of it so that one can put it to new use.  Judgement is also an act of faith.  Every step into the blank page of one's future is done by faith and with hope.  I believe we will find our new home.  I have hope for it. Meanwhile, I am preparing myself to truly own it rather than just occupy space there.


Sex, Lies and the Three of Swords

Look, I'm not a generally hopeful person.  I am a realist, practical and grounded, most of the time. It's not hard for me to lose hope, I do it all the time. I am rarely disappointed because my expectations are low. I take life at face value and see things and people for what they are, not what I hoped they would be. This time, though, I've reached a level of hopelessness that I haven't felt in a very long time.  I have spent many months in a state of "What is the point?"

I don't have an existential answer to that.

But what is happening now, across the country, in full view of everyone, is tempting me to hope.  It is at least a Three of Swords if not a Tower. I don't feel it's a Tower, really, but a Three of Swords, definitely.  Harsh truth, blindfolds removed, facing what is true and real.  Men and women are publicly speaking out against those who have sexually harassed, assaulted, and harmed them and --here's the best part-- we are LISTENING.  Well, many of us are.
Robin Wood Tarot

So many women, especially, are feeling triggered. #MeToo. Who knew so many of us have various shades of PTSD just from living our lives in this very bent society that treats us like morsels for male entertainment. Personally, I'm freaking out internally on a daily basis hearing about men creeping on underage girls. My first marriage was to a man who, among other abusive crimes, persistently preyed on adolescent girls, including me at 17 when he was 32.  He was arrested on sexual assault of teenage girls several times during our brief marriage and I don't know how many times since. My second husband, a man in his fifties, just married a young Russian woman he groomed at 18 on the internet and then persuaded to come to the US to visit him when she was 19. She's now 23, only 2 years older than our youngest child -- who, by the way, is a young woman herself and has been struggling with the creepy implications of her father in a romantic relationship with someone she considers her peer.  A lifelong friend of Mike's has recently been charged with possession of child pornography.  He had spent five years in jail for "messing around," he said, with a "seventeen year-old," he said, when he was twenty.  He spent ten years in therapy following his release. Although he had to register as a sex offender, he swore he never had The Problem for what he was convicted but said he used the therapy to help himself become a better person.  It was all bullshit.  We subsequently learned he had actually been convicted for having sex with a girl "13 or younger."  The cache of child pornography was discovered by another good friend, his roommate, who went to the police because it was that bad.  And of course there is Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, and Roy Moore, and...all of the men on this list.  I expect the list to continue to grow.

Truth revealed. Three of Swords. Old wounds and betrayals resurface. Three of Swords.

The Druidcraft Tarot

Not all men? Three of Swords says "Bet me."  Because if "good men" are surprised, shocked, and dismayed at what they are witnessing now, they haven't been listening to women.  If they haven't been listening, they were dismissive, complicit, and participated in the culture that allowed it. Too harsh? No -- that's real truth. Three of Swords.

What is the point? Truth, if told, needs time to journey from our ears and our minds to our hearts and our character. Being quiet. Listening from the inside. Four of Swords.  Healing. Integration. Peace. We'll get there, if we listen, accept the truth, and listen some more.

The Druidcraft Tarot
Meanwhile, now you know why I've been quiet. Too much to say and I don't have the words.


Hello Again

Hello...Testing...1,2,3.  I have finally gotten around to uploading ye olde podcasts from ages ago and they have now gone live on Google Play Music and are almost live on iTunes.  They are also over at PodOmatic.  The Series on the Aces, The Tarot Court and other miscellaneous podcasts are now up and I'll be adding more until I exhaust my collection.  Then I'll start recording new ones.

About time, right?


The Spiral World

“Life is a journey up a spiral staircase; as we grow older we cover the ground we have covered before, only higher up; as we look down the winding stair below us we measure our progress by the number of places where we were but no longer are. The journey is both repetitious and progressive; we go both round and upward.”
―William Butler Yeats

I love metaphors to a fault.  I know when I've traveled too far into metaphor land when my children snap back, "OK, Mom, ok, I get it, I get it."  It's like when you've walked along a beach for so long that because the scenery still looks the same you have no idea how far you've gone.  Enough with the metaphors.  I can never get enough.  Tarot, like metaphor, is illustrative language that tells a story and paints a literal picture in order to communicate a vital truth.  I love tarot and I love metaphor, so yeah, not going to stop with the metaphors.

I have often heard the metaphor of an onion used to describe an internal process, be it of healing, maturity, or self-discovery.  The idea of the onion metaphor is that we continually peel away layers of self to get to the core.  The onion metaphor, however, did not line up with what I actually experienced on my personal trek through life.  I found that when I overcame a particular personal obstacle or had a breakthrough that allowed me to move on, at some point later I would revisit the same issue.  I thought that layer of the onion had been removed.  Then a friend of mine shared that she thinks the path is more of a spiral. As we travel the spiral we certainly do revisit the same issues time and again but at a different level.  Now that's a picture I can relate to because it mirrors what I have experienced in a more precise way than the onion metaphor.

From the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence, the spiral is a constant pattern in the universe.  This is a widely observed phenomenon, though scientists have not figured out the "why."  Maybe that's better left to philosophers, but the pattern is evident in everything in nature, art, biology, and The Universe itself.

The Major Arcana XXI, The World, or in some decks, The Universe, relates intimately to the spiral pattern that maps our life's journey, collectively and individually.   XXI (21) is the smallest non-trivial example of a Fibonacci number whose digits are Fibonacci numbers and whose digit sum is also a Fibonacci number.  It's also the winning number in the games of Blackjack and ping pong. In Kabbalah Numerology 21 is pictured as “The Universe”, and is also called “The Crown of the Magi”. It promises general success, and guarantees advancement, honors, awards, and general elevation in life and career. It indicates victory after a long struggle, for the “Crown” is gained only after long initiation, much soul testing and various other tests of determination. However, the person or entity blessed with the number 21 may be certain of final victory over all odds and opposition. It is a most fortunate vibration – a number of karmic reward.

The World card is about those times on our journey when we overcome obstacles, complete an objective successfully and feel joy, freedom and a sense of accomplishment.  The wreath that encircles the dancer reminds us of these cycles and that we are never really finished.  If you've ever played a video game with "levels" you'll know what I mean when I say this is the "Leveled Up" card.  Completing a level is an accomplishment worthy of dancing in celebration, but as any gamer knows the next level will undoubtedly be more challenging and many of the same obstacles you met in the previous level will be presented again but will be more difficult to overcome.  However, all along your journey through the levels of the game you have picked up tools and skills and armor to help you in the succeeding levels. In some games, you've also picked up allies who will help you as well.

Wait, these cycles, aren't they what The Wheel of Fortune is about?  Yes, but different cycles. The Wheel is most definitely about cycles but they are the typical rotations of life's whims and follies.  In other words, fate.  While our actions do certainly shape our destinies, we are never free from those events that occur outside of our control that impact our lives. The World, on the other hand, focuses more on how the individual has responded to those and other experiences in order to achieve the successful completion of a goal.  The similarities between the two cards doesn't stop there.  They each have heavenly beings in each of the four corners.  They can be attributed to Christian symbolism of the four evangelists whose books are canonized in the reformed New Testament: Matthew -- a man; Mark -- a lion; Luke -- an ox, and John -- an eagle. These four Evangelists are also represented by the four fixed astrological signs: Leo, Taurus, Aquarius and Scorpio.  In The Wheel's imagery they are each busily writing in books whereas in The World they are celebrating the success of the figure in the center. This conveys the message that the Divine was in the seemingly arbitrary events and that heaven was rooting for you all along.

By Rolf Süssbrich - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,  The four winged creatures that symbolise the Four Evangelists surround Christ in Majesty on the Romanesque tympanum of the Church of St. Trophime in Arles, France.
The World has a key similarity to another Major Arcana card: The Hanged Man.  Both figures leg positions are the same. In the World, she is dancing.  Does this mean The Hanged Man is likewise "dancing"?  Well, sort of.  The legs form a fylfot cross, or what is known as a swastika cross.  Before the German Nazi Party co opted it, the fylfot cross was and is a spiritual symbol that meant "well being" and "balance."  In The Hanged Man it communicates that although he is in a painful circumstance, all is well with his soul.  He will come through it intact and blessed.  There is also the balance concept seen in The Wheel of Fortune. The swastika is a type of solar cross with arms bent at right angles suggesting a whirling or turning motion. Likewise, the dancer in The World, with her fylfot cross position and flowing hair and scarf suggest the same.

 Yet another symbol in The World card can be found at the very beginning of the Major Arcana within The Magician.  The Magician holds a wand. The figure in The World holds two.  This wand is distinct from the suit of Wands in the Minor Arcana.  On the table before the Magician, that wand is lying along with symbols of the other suits.  So the wand in his right hand with his left hand pointing downward is to symbolize his connection to the Divine and the power to bring forth the adage, "As above, so below."  He is, in Waite's tarot, an adept who, unlike the charlatans of previous tarot magicians, seeks to express the Divine within as direct manifestation in his life on earth.  The wands in the hands of the woman in The World card are not directly engaged in a concerted effort.  She's barely grasping them and they are balanced equally.  She's mastered something in her Divine nature and the manifestation is complete. Bravo!

 Resting on that laurel wreath is transitory because the next turn of the spiral is right after her last spin on the dance floor.  She will find herself back at one, as a Magician, attempting to manifest yet another aspect of the Divine into her earthly existence.  No doubt she will go over the same ground previously trod but with a new perspective gained from her last level.

 In readings, some situations are readily seen as World events.  Graduations, new parenthood, a promotion, an award, etc.  I've seen The World show up when someone has been struggling to overcome a broken heart and is a very encouraging indication they are ready, finally, to move on.  I've seen it say, "You're above this, don't stoop to their level." and "No need to go through that again, don't reinvent the wheel" (note reference to The Wheel).  To a lesser extent this card can be associated with travel, not just a road trip, but more like the kind of travel that requires a passport or visa.  However, more often it is a celebratory message that says "Go you!"  The question remains, "What's next?"


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