Tarot Without Words

by Marianne in ,


It's a bit of understatement to say that things have been quiet in Two Sides Tarot blogland this year. I've spent a lot of time over the past few months wrestling with ideas about what kind of content I want to make, what kind of content you might want to read, what would be useful and not just more noise in the increasingly bustling world of online tarot media. 

My drafts folder is full of unsent newsletters, unposted blogs, unfinished thoughts that never quite get off the ground. Ideas, words, just don't seem to stick. Actually, maybe it’s the recent Mercury retrograde, coupled with Mars retrograde, that’s making things hard to pin to the page right now.
 
I usually try to be accepting of ruts of all kinds, so I haven’t been too concerned about this round of unscratchable writing itches. Yes, I do really want to find ways to say new things about the tarot, and no, I can’t seem to manage that right now.
 
A few things fell into place for me over the weekend of the eclipse. I listened to an interview with Damien Echols, who described the way so much of Western magic is about symbols and images, rather than words, working on our subconscious minds. I’ve also been listening to a lot of my favourite Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron (here’s one I currently recommend), and reading one of the ultimate spiritual mind melters, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
 
 Of course, Damien Echols is right. Our subconscious minds do speak a language deeper and older than words, and all those Buddhist sages are right – such as there is a thing that is “right” – when they say that reality is so much more than the “small mind” way of perceiving things as fixed concepts, binaries, certainties. Reality is much more bendy than that.
 
We can analyse tarot card imagery and ideas with our left brains, we can describe and categorise what we see and what it means, but let’s not overlook the magic that happens when we turn a card over and our deeper selves, beyond the level of our rational awareness, receive a transmission of the image, the symbolism, the idea.
 
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve turned over a card or two in your life, and I’m sure you’ve probably had that feeling when you first glimpse the image. That knowing. You know what it means, you know what it speaks to you, and yet, as soon as you try to capture it with words it slides through your fingers like the Page of Cups’ slippery fish.

A very slippery fish from the beautiful Spolia Tarot

Now, I make at least part of my living writing about tarot on the internet, so I’m not about to say that communicating about this art form is futile or shallow or pointless. Language is one of the most powerful tools we have to make sense of our world. Not to mention, I hope we’ve all been able to experience the solace and revelation that can come when a good tarot reader explains a card to us in the context of what we most long to know.
 
Talking about tarot connects us – readers to clients, scholars to students, passionate enthusiasts to each other – so let’s keep doing that. But also, let’s consider letting the sub-lingual transmission do the work sometimes.
 
Let’s inhabit that slippery space of subconscious awareness that traffics in sensation and symbol. Maybe sometimes it’s ok if your tarot reading is more like a dream you can’t quite describe, one that leaves an obscure feeling of sense-memory in its wake, trailing behind you like smoke as you go about your day.
 
During my eclipse magical working, I drew The Hermit. I don’t plan to say a word about it – to myself, or anyone else! I think, deep down, I know what it means.


A Heart-Centered Oracle Reading

by Marianne in , ,


Last week, I wrote about how much I'm loving working with the Journey of Love oracle cards. Seriously, this deck is The Business! Last week, we got to oooh and aaah over the pretty illustrations and lovely ideas in this deck. This week, I'm putting it to work! 

I've been thinking a lot these past few days about deepening my meditation practice. If you've been following along for a little while, you may know that I'm not great at doing the same thing, day after day. I do have a daily spiritual practice, of sorts, but the content of that changes all the time because my interests and desires and questions are constantly evolving. While meditation is part of that, I can't say I'm terribly consistent with it! I've been feeling called to hit the cushion more and more these days, but due to distraction and busyness, I haven't really managed to put that into action.

Enter, the Heart-Centered Oracle Reading, with my trusted Journey of Love oracle cards. These cards LOVE to deal with matters of spiritual practice and spiritual paths, so this question is right up their alley. Let's see what support and advice they can offer me!

1. A Broader View: How can I support and deepen my meditation practice at this time? 28. Sacred Convergence

I guess I can't be too surprised by the gravity of this card, since almost every card in this deck packs a big punch, but still! Sacred convergence? That sounds big! This card says that right now, I need to understand the function of my meditation practice, and that function is nothing less than union with the divine. The cushion is a place where the worldly and the spiritual, the personal and the multiple, the separate and the whole, come together. This is big! Open yourself up to make space for all of this coming together.

Another aspect of this card that feels very relevant and powerful is the idea that this convergence can be uncomfortable. Alana Fairchild's blurb for this card says that the spiritual or energetic experience one might have can be reflected in bodily discomfort, anxiety, or resistance. This obviously rings a bell for me, because I do sometimes find the act of sitting physically uncomfortable (does anyone else suffer from meditator's itchy nose?! So annoying!). I think we can take this a step further, though, and extrapolate the body to be the physical world, the sensations, obligations, and routines of my earthly life. Life on the physical plane certainly does seem to sit uncomfortably with meditation practice. Often, I feel too busy or distracted, like there's no room in my schedule to sit. This card shows me that that resistance is actually a response to the deeper calling I'm experiencing. It's all part of the same puzzle! Accept it, but don't allow it to have the final word, because there's so much more to discover!

Journal Prompt: What connections am I seeking to make through meditation? What resistance am I experiencing? How can I bring these together in order to better understand this experience?

2. Zooming In: In the next week, what can I focus on or bring to my meditation sessions in order to cultivate stillness and insight? 23. Across the Waters

This card describes the lake of our emotional waters, a place that can be cooling and calming, infinitely peaceful, or cluttered, crowded, and tumultuous. One of the things I really love about this deck are the author's explanations about each card. For this one, Fairchild offers: "We yearn for the cool, calm mountain lake, serene, giving, echoing a gentle dispensation of grace. You are being called across the waters - out from an overcrowded sea into the cool spaciousness of the endless lake." Ahhh! Reading that feels like a long, deep breath! 

So, my focus this week is simple. I'm called to make my meditations a place of calm replenishment, a place where busyness and movement are stilled, and serenity is allowed to take over. I know from experience that meditation is not always serene (and often expecting it to be is the best way to ensure it isn't!), but this week, I'm going to bring this visualisation of the calm and endless lake into my sitting. I can't wait to feel less busy or distracted. I have to seek out that lake within myself!

Journal prompt: Although I do usually do a journal prompt for each card in this reading, I'm going to skip this one. In this case, stillness is more important than more words!

3. How can I encourage self-love and compassion as I navigate this process? 26. Guardians of the Soul Family

I am not alone in this! There are myriad travellers on this path, working to integrate their spiritual selves into their day to day lives. I'm looking at you wondrous blog readers right now! There are also many sages and students who have explored this road before - countless amazing books have been penned on the subject, not to mention blogs, instagram posts, conversations over coffee. The most loving thing I can do for myself is remember that I am supported by all these fellow spiritual journeyers! When in doubt, I can turn to them for support, read their words, ask them questions, feel their presences. Nice!

Journal prompt: Who is in my spiritual support network? What wisdom have my teachers offered about this experience? How can integrate that into my practice?

*

I'm going to take my journal prompts and do some further reflection on this. I'm definitely feeling more supported and inspired to hit the cushion and calm my inner lake! And inn case you missed last week's post, you may be interested to know that this Heart-Centered Oracle Reading is now available as an offering in the shop! These cards love to tackle questions of self-love, personal growth, and spirituality - while the reading I've shared today is about supporting my own meditation practice, this offering can tackle all manner of spiritual and personal topics, and of course, the spread will be customised to meet your needs. I really love sharing the insights of these cards, so if you do feel like you need a little clarity and support, head over to the Two Sides Tarot store and take a look!

Before I sign off for another week, I'd love to know - what are your thoughts on regular meditation? Love it? Struggle with it? Never tried it? What's your approach? I'd love to hear about any experiences or insights you'd care to share!


Returning to Daily Practice

by Marianne in , ,


I'm back from my little jaunt up the coast, and the bustle of the season has already swept me up. Beltane is definitely in full swing down here in Australia, because opportunities to socialise and otherwise fill my calendar are abundant! I'm rather more interested, though, in getting back into my private pursuits - tarot, reading, journaling, yoga, and art. It's tricky at this time of year, the beginning of summer party season and Christmas craziness, to find much time and energy for quiet workings, but I'm determined to do it! Thus, I've been ruminating a lot this week about how to fit it all in. 

I'm super behind on my blog reading, but I did manage to catch a great post over on Dharma Eyes Tarot, featuring a spread for daily practice. I really loved reading about Emily's tarot explorations of her daily meditation practice, and it got me thinking - what am I doing every day to fill myself up? Travel, work, and social commitments have turned my regular routine upside down and got me feeling more like lying face down on the couch in my spare time than doing anything meaningful or productive. I'm ready now to put some intention back into my routine, and make sure I'm carving out a little time for mindful self-enrichment (so, scrolling endlessly through one's facebook feed does not count!).

The catch is, I'm undecided about how to proceed. Being a multi-passionate person, I always struggle to stick with one habit for very long, because there are always so many other things I am equally interested in. When I commit to daily meditation, I get quickly frustrated that I don't have time to journal, but when I commit to journaling daily, my yoga practice falls by the wayside and my body rages against me! I know now that trying to get all my spiritual engagement and fulfilment from one activity is not going to work for me. Any daily practice I commit to must be multifarious in nature! Perhaps it's more about setting aside a block of time and using it intentionally, than it is about committing to any particular path? 

This is a tarot blog, and so it should come as a surprise to none that I am going to explore this question and look for some clarity with... a tarot reading. Or, actually, with an oracle card reading. I've been carrying the Earthbound Oracle around in my bag for weeks now, and it's time to put it to proper use! I hope Emily won't mind that I've borrowed and slightly adapted her wonderful Spread for Daily Practice, and put my own desires and habits under the oracular microscope. Here we go!

Apologies for the tiny, crappy photo here. I've been back and forth, trying to get it to display at its proper dimensions, and it just ain't working! I give up. 

1. Where should my intention be in my daily practice? Abundance

So I think I was right in saying that my practice has to be multifarious! I should set an intention to make my practice broad and dynamic, responsive to my interests and passions, and accept that for now, that’s what works best. If I do kirtan meditation one day, and spend that time drawing the next, and then the following day read a book, that’s fine! This card also calls for a more expansive mindset – I know I have been falling into the trap lately of saying, “There’s not enough time! I don’t have the energy!”, and that only reinforces and justifies a pattern of not fulfilling my daily practice. Abundance says, I do have the time and I do have the energy! I need to be more mindful of how I apply it, certainly, but there’s more than enough available for me to work a little on my own projects every day.

2. Where can I find joy in my daily practice? Healing

The pleasure of daily practice will come from putting a focus on self-care. I love this time of the year (as a Christmas baby, I’ve always secretly believed all the brouhaha is just an elaborate warm up to my birthday – who else’s birthday gets an Advent, after all?!), and I love spending time with all the amazing people in my life, but I do need to remember to replenish my energies and do things that are just for me. The real joy will come from making my daily practice restorative and curative, an antidote to all that summer busyness.

3. What are the hindrances to my daily practice? Perseverance

Ahh, that ol’ chestnut! Obviously, the real hindrance to my daily practice is the challenge of sticking with it. I’m a Capricorn, so you’d think I’d be great at sticking to habits, but then my Pisces rising comes along and makes things like commitments, shall we say, a little more fluid? (On that note, get your birth chart done, it’s very illuminating!). I think the antidote to struggles with perseverance can be found in the first two cards: firstly, it’s ok to take the abundant approach and vary the practice itself if I’m struggling to stick to it; and secondly, remember how refreshing it feels when I’ve taken time to do my own stuff each day. Sticking with it will always be a challenge, but hopefully not an insurmountable one.

4. Where can I find encouragement/admonishment in my daily practice (see Emily's original post for some more notes on this excellent and very Buddhist card position!)? Protect

I need to make my daily practice sacred! The time I set aside, however I decide to use it each day, has to be protected from busyness, laziness, sleepiness, and other impediments. Protecting my daily practice from the incursions of everyday life will ultimately be a supportive act for the practice itself, and for me, too. Similarly, when I fail to protect that commitment, I know I’ll feel suitable admonished when I start to feel off centre, tired, and out of touch with myself. I like it, too, that this card is a verb – I need to actually DO what it is telling me. This is not about mindset or philosophy, but about action! I must actively protect my daily practice in order to reap its benefits.

So where does all of this leave me? I feel validated in my belief that I need to vary the content of my daily practice, and chastened about my flakiness and lack of commitment! I know that I need to set aside a little time every day to be used intentionally – be it five minutes of silent meditation, or an hour of tarot. Daily practice, in whatever form it takes, replenishes my energy, refines my craft, and enriches my spirit! Now, I’m off to do just that.

How does daily practice feature in your life? What are your go-to practices or habits for enriching your day-to-day? Let me know in the comments!


Checking In: Reader Development Spread

by Marianne in , ,


Put the jug on, friends, and settle in. It's time for a tarot reading!

A little over a year ago, I posted a reading with the Reader Development Spread, designed by the exceedingly wonderful Sarah Dawn of The Tarot Parlor. I'm a firm believer that, no matter how experienced, a tarot reader is a student of the discipline for life. There's always so much more to learn, and one's style as a reader is ever-evolving. 

This time last year, I was nearly six months into running Two Sides Tarot, and was experiencing a period of rapid growth as a reader and as a business owner - what a learning curve! The insights that this spread gave me back then really helped me to put my work in context, and to think about where the potential was for further growth as a reader. A year on feels like a good time to check in again and see how much my practice has grown, and where it might lead me next! 

Using the Centennial Edition of the Pamela Colman Smith Deck, here's what I came up with.

1. My strengths as a tarot reader - Ace of Pentacles

My strengths as a reader lie in the solid foundation that underpins my work. I'm pleased to see the Ace of Pents here, because I think it speaks to the many hours of courses, study, and reading (both books and cards!) that I've put in over the years, which in turn, I bring to every new reading I take on. 

Being an Ace, this card also reflects what I mentioned above - that being a tarot reader means being a perpetual student. As with any Ace, there is a suggestion here of beginning, the first step in a journey. My strengths lie in being ready to take a new approach, in starting afresh with the cards whenever I pick them up, and in being open to going in new directions with my reading and learning style. 

Finally, my strengths as a reader lie in an insistence on practicality. Pentacles are the suit of the grounded and the worldly, after all! It has always been my belief that, although tarot is an esoteric practice, it must have practical applications. There's no point in doing a tarot reading if it isn't going to offer tangible insight that can be applied to real world situations. I'm glad to see that this philosophy is still serving me well! 

2. My weaknesses or areas that need improvement - Four of Cups

I must admit, at first I didn't know what to make of this one, the irony of which is not lost upon me since the Four of Cups is all about not being able to see the thing that's right in front of your face! There was obviously a piece of my tarot puzzle that I just wasn't seeing. Perhaps this is a new skill, a system I haven't yet learned, or a way of using my existing reading skills that hasn't yet dawned on me. There is an offering available, but I haven't yet taken it up and that delay is working against me. 

When in doubt, I refer back to my own best practices, and for this card that means I would urge my client to take some time out and reflect, to turn within and see if they can uncover the nature of the blockage they're facing. I took my own advice and did some quiet contemplation with the card image, and believe it or not, a burst of intuition popped right into my head. The key lies in the image itself. When you examine it closely, that suspended Cup has much to teach about where I need to strengthen my skills.

It may come as a surprise, but I'm not much of a visual learner. My recall and comprehension is much better with text on a page than it is with images, and I have noticed a tendency in myself to defer to my verbal/linguistic understanding of a card over, say, examining the imagery in detail in the moment and letting that speak for itself. Playing with language is one of my favourite pastimes, and sometimes that may overshadow other ways of representing meaning. Of course, tarot is a visual art form, and engaging with the artwork on a card is an essential part of what I do, but this is definitely something I want to expand in my practice. I've witnessed readers I admire delving into the imagery on a single card, and drawing out minute symbols, pictures and patterns that lend themselves to such original and complex readings, based almost solely on visual cues. There is myriad visual information on every card, both obvious and subtle, just waiting to be mined for understanding. This is something I want to improve on and integrate more deeply into my practice.

3. How to develop my skills as a reader - XV The Devil

Well, this is a juicy one! The Devil is inviting me to come face to face with my own demons in order to grow my tarot skills. What fun! It should come as no surprise that even your trusted tarot reader has their own lifetime of baggage to unpack, and I think for all readers, being attentive to our own personal growth can only be helpful for our work with our tarot clients. 

My tarot skills will continue to develop as I engage fully with my personal, spiritual, and emotional journey in this lifetime. The Devil does represent certain things in my own life that I am working through over time, and I'm happy to know that this personal work has positive implications for my tarot practice. I'll just have to keep at it!

4. How to deal with blocks in my development or readings - Knight of Swords

Could there be a more effective enemy of blockages than the Knight of Swords? This card asks me to use momentum, focus, and clear intent to overcome any obstacles I might be facing in my practice. The Knight of Swords has eyes on the prize at all times, and he never allows fear, anxiety, or any other emotional trepidation to stop him in his tracks. 

I am being called to maintain steady focus on my goals as a reader, and to allow my core motivation - my passion for tarot - to continue to fuel me, even when I might want to shy away from difficulties. It's an emboldening card to see here, and I'm happy to have the Knight of Swords on my team. I hope his courage is contagious!

5. What to avoid or what will block my growth - Two of Pentacles

Interestingly, the Two of Pentacles appeared in the previous position, How to Deal with Blocks, in my reading last year. Last year, the Two of Pents was helpful, but this year, not so much! Last year, this card cautioned me to hone my focus, to be mindful of taking on too much at once. This year, it seems this card's insistence on prioritising could limit my development as a reader.

This ties in quite nicely with the Ace of Pentacles and the Four of Cups. The focused, solid foundation of my practice is already there, so what I should be thinking about now is the beginner's mind aspect of the Ace - always be ready to try something new, even if it means a bit of a juggling act. Instead of worrying about prioritising in my tarot study and practice, I should take a more expansive approach. Follow whims, take on disparate systems, ideas, and methods. Working more deeply with images a la the Four of Cups, as well as exploring the theory, is only going to enhance my work as a reader. It's ok for me to have multiple balls in the air right now! 

6. The lesson I am learning at this stage in my tarot practice - I The Magician

For me, The Magician is always about preparedness. The Magician's table is heavy with materials, holding the symbols that represent all four suits of the tarot. In her right hand, a wand stretches to the heavens, and her left hand points down to the worldly realm below. She has all the elements at her disposal and the power of heaven and earth on hand, which is just as well, because she is right at the beginning of the Fool's Journey, and who knows what is to come? I'm not sure that I have achieved quite Magician levels of readiness, but it is great to know that I might be in the midst of acquiring some of this badassery!

Interestingly, there is a parallel between the Ace (one) of Pentacles, and I The Magician, the first numbered card of the Major Arcana (given that The Fool is usually zero, or sometimes twenty-two). One seems to be my lucky number in this reading, and suggests that I am embarking upon a new phase of my tarot journey. The Magician says that I am learning to marshal my powers and skills in readiness for this new adventure, whatever it might be. Bring it on, I say!

7. The outcome of my work with tarot and my development as a reader - Seven of Pentacles Reversed

Subtle workings! The Seven of Pentacles reversed is a curious card to find in this position, but one I think has a lot to say for itself. Upright, this card is about standing back and evaluating one's progress, and seeing how far one has come from the start (from the Ace of Pentacles, in fact). Reversed, my intuition is that this progress is not so obvious. It can't be easily measured, represented on a chart, quantified or counted.

The expansive approach this spread is urging me to take might lead me in many different directions, into disparate disciplines and methods. Focusing too much on set pathways or particular results, such as the step-by-step road to completion represented by the Seven of Pentacles, would be missing the point. I'm going off-map here! Outcomes will be intangible, ephemeral, subtle, possibly even difficult to show or communicate.

In one sense, I would have preferred to see a more structured, victorious card here, maybe the Six of Wands, or Ten of Pentacles! That certainly would have been a more comfortable direction to take. However, the reversed Seven of Pentacles really reinforces the message of this spread - I have the opportunity now to undertake a new phase of my tarot practice, a journey into uncharted territory. My hunch is that this new phase requires less of an earthy, methodical approach, and more of a watery, whimsical one. The Ace of Pentacles might be my existing, earthy strengths, but the Four of Cups is an invitation to dive in and swim somewhere new. Things might get weird, but I think I'm ready!

If you have a tarot practice on any kind, I highly recommend trying out this spread from time to time, and if you do, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! If this isn't your bag, do you use any kind of tools - tarot-related or otherwise - to reflect on the development of your tarot practice? 


Checking In On My Tarot Skills

by Marianne in , ,


As a professional tarot reader, I am always looking to expand and update my reading skills. I voraciously devour books, blogs, articles and courses to increase and improve my tarot skills and experience. Sometimes, though, getting to basics is the best way, and when it comes to basics, there's nothing better than sitting down and letting your cards tell you what's what. 

A friend recently directed me to the wonderful Reader Development Spread over at The Tarot Parlor (such a great tarot resource, I highly recommend you subscribe!). With Sarah's kind permission, today I am throwing a Reader Development Spread for myself, to see where I'm at, where my strengths lie, and what I can do to make sure I am always offering my beautiful clients (that's you!) the very best tarot experience. Using David Palladini's Aquarian Tarot, here's what I came up with.

 Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini  ©  US Games 1970.

1. My strengths as a tarot reader - Judgement Reversed

Judgement reversed suggests that my strengths lie in an ability to peer under the surface of situations. If Judgement is about being loudly called, then Judgement reversed points to the more muted callings we receive in life, messages that may be so quiet as to pass unnoticed when we need them most. Naturally, we seek out external guidance when we don't feel a solution is obvious to us, and I always strive to use a tarot reading to unearth the solutions that are hidden to our conscious minds. Using symbols and reflection to make previously unavailable connections is the aspect of the tarot process that is most interesting to me, so I'm happy to see that I've got that working well for me! 

Additionally, this card suggests that the type of reading that best suits my tarot style is the spiritual path reading. Turning inward and working on personal and spiritual development is definitely my forte, and Judgement Reversed suggests that my readings are particularly strong in this area. 

2. My weaknesses or areas that need improvement - Five of Rods

Naturally, when I see this card appear, conflict comes to mind, and I think I speak for all of us readers when I say that we all deal with inner conflicts and self-doubt from time to time. There are so many ways, right and wrong, to read cards, situations, and spreads, it's easy to question your own intuition and perspective. A little questioning is what drives us to improve, but too much and we run the risk of being unable to be sure of anything! At this stage in my development as a reader, I no longer feel like that doubt is crippling, but it does creep in from time to time. This card reminds that I always need to be mindful of getting drawn onto that mental hamster wheel and running myself in circles!

The Five of Rods is also about competition and playfulness, and it may also relate to Two Sides Tarot finding its niche in the industry. My professional tarot business is six months young, and part of my professional journey is finding where my voice fits in with or stands out from the other tarot offerings out there. This is something I work on every day, and I'm excited to see where it leads me and my business. 

3. How to develop my skills as a reader - Two of Pentacles

I had to chuckle a little when I saw this one come up. When working on my professional development, my tendency is to try to do everything. I'll often have a course on the go, and be reading two or three different tarot books and working with four or five different decks at a time. It seems that approach really isn't serving me right now! The Two of Pentacles stresses the importance of prioritising and honing your focus, and that is something I clearly need to work on. It's virtually impossible to give all of these different sources the deep attention they deserve, so I am going to schedule my reading time a little better, and really dig deeply into what I'm working on before moving onto the next thing. Reminders to slow down and focus are always welcome!

4. How to deal with blocks in my development or readings - Page of Swords Reversed

I think the Page of Swords Reversed and the Two of Pentacles share a similar lesson. Planning without action and action without planning are equally problematic. Rather than trying to bulldoze through difficulties and frustrations, the Page of Swords Reversed suggests that perhaps a more considered approach would be best. If I am tending to try to think my way out of problems and blockages without success, slowing things down and actually making a plan will help me to get over the line. Take a breath. Calm that hamster wheel we saw in the Five of Rods, and get both feet on the ground before taking the next step. Sounds good! 

5. What to avoid or what will block my growth - Queen of Pentacles

My old pal the Queen of Pentacles! It's hard to see a card I like so much appear as something to avoid, but it's a good lesson that all cards have positive and negative teachings. The Queen of Pentacles says that when it comes to my continuing growth as a reader, I need to be mindful of being too materialistic. It's very important to me to offer practical advice to my clients in every reading, but the Queen reminds that the practical is but one side of the story. Being mindful to include spiritual exploration in my readings will make my approach deeper and more holistic. 

In terms of my personal study and development, I do certainly find it challenging sometimes to separate my spiritual practice from the day-to-day development and running of my business, so I hear this loud and clear! After the crazy astro energy of April, this month I'm trying to focus a little more on my personal routines and self-care, and the Queen is a great reminder that my tarot practice is so much deeper than checking web stats and making marketing plans (although they are important, too!).

6. The lesson I am learning at this stage in my tarot practice - The Lovers

This card suggests that right now, I'm working on pulling it all together. Ain't that the truth! As we saw in the Two of Pentacles, there is a lot out there to integrate into a journey of lifelong learning, and it's easy to be overwhelmed. The Lovers speaks of the importance of making connections, marrying up disparate ideas, and finding unity and wholeness in my own unique approach to tarot. I'm pleased to hear that I'm in the midst of this lesson, as I certainly feel I am ever developing this in my work.

The Lovers also sets my heart aflutter, because tarot really is my true love! This card suggests that I am learning what it I most value, and discovering that spending my days reading tarot is a purposeful and meaningful way for me to live. The Lovers speaks of a choice that leads to deep satisfaction and purpose, and choosing to tread this path has certainly brought that into my life. This card resonates so strongly, and I can happily verify that I awake each morning feeling blessed and excited to continue my tarot journey! 

7. The outcome of my work with tarot and my development as a reader - Ten of Rods Reversed

Ultimately, it seems the goal of my work is to lighten the load. It is my firm belief that tarot can help us to ease our passage through this world, and I hope that my readings help my clients find that sense of ease, particularly when the circumstances they are experiencing feel anything but easy. I can only be pleased to see that the goal I am growing towards is to help my fellow humans to shoulder their burdens with greater understanding, ease, and joy. What greater service could I hope to offer you?

I'd love to see what results other readers get from this spread, so if you give it a try, do share! If you read tarot, do you use the cards, or any other methods, to check in with your progress as a reader? 


New Moon in Taurus: My Month Ahead

by Marianne in ,


In the past few months, I've found it really helpful to throw a special spread in honour of the New Moon. The renewal of the lunar cycle sees a refresh in energy down here on planet earth, and this spread has become an essential tool to help me clarify the comings and goings in my own life each month. My reading from the New Moon in Aries, along with further developments on the Full Moon, illuminated a lot of challenging stuff that had been hidden beneath the surface for me. Tarot never pulls punches, that's for sure! I'm still working on all of that, but, as this month wanes, it does feel as though those difficult energies are dissipating a little.  

In the spirit of new energy, I thought it appropriate to use a different deck, so I've chosen the Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini. It's been a while since we've worked together, but this deck remains one of my favourites. It is a comfort to see its soft colours and familiar geometric 70's weirdness - just what I needed after a challenging month! So, now what?

1. What am I releasing from the lunar cycle just past? Page of Swords

2. What am I manifesting in the coming lunar cycle? Queen of Pentacles

3. How can I support myself in this process? Ace of Cups

4. A piece of advice, or something I should know, for the month ahead: Four of Swords reversed

Call me a coward, but after the intense energies of all those Majors last month, I'm pretty relieved to see that this month my concerns will be more worldly. So much of last month was spent in agonised mind-wringing, it will be nice to bring some focus back to the day-to-day. Appropriate for earthy Taurus, no? 

The Page of Swords seems to suggest that it's time to let go of that agonising and anxiety. Much of last month was spent wondering wondering how to put something amorphous like "My Soul's Journey" into a practical to-do list (I'm a Capricorn, shuddup, I can't help it!). The Page of Swords says, handwringing and trying to force inspiration and organisation is unhelpful. This month ahead is not for trying pointlessly to pin down abstract plans. Let go of that mental restlessness. 

Funny that I should have the Queen of Pentacles appear as my manifestation card this month, as she was last month's piece of advice, and being an earthy, practical soul, a comfort to me in the face of all this intangible stuff. I'd hug her if I could! She says, "Your job is to focus on doing the tangible things that you can do. Keep your feet on the ground, and your hands in the dirt." I feel as though I am being given permission to do what I do best! For the next four weeks, if I feel myself becoming overwhelmed, I'm going to say, "Fuck it, let's garden!" Keep my hands busy and leave my pesky subconscious unattended. Who knows what might happen? 

The Ace of Cups says that all this doing must come intuitively, from a place of creativity and instinct. It also needs to be shared, to be part of something bigger. Once again I am reminded to give some attention to the people in my life, to share the journey and to make the time for connection. My tarot practice will also be a wonderful outlet for this, as I connect and share with you guys, my beautiful clients and readers. Ultimately, the Ace of Cups asks for practical generosity, so while I get my hands dirty I'll be keeping my heart open, and pouring my love and attention into those Queen of Pentacles to-dos. 

The Four of Swords reversed challenges me to see that there is a difference between contemplation and fixation. In hindsight, last month's Eight of Cups saw me fleeing from my thoughts and feelings, rather than taking time out with them. I have been avoiding meditation and reflection in the last couple of weeks because they have become associated with the fretting and turmoil, but this card says that doesn't have to be the way. This is just as well, because I'm off on a weekend meditation retreat in May, and I don't want to spend that time running the anxiety gauntlet!  The Four of Swords advises not to be afraid of quiet. Those Queen of Pentacles moments when my hands are busy and my mind is idle will be my teachers this month.

If you've enjoyed these New Moon posts, you may want to order a New Moon reading of your own. I'm offering this reading for a limited time, until May 1st only!

How was your April? Did the wild astrological happenings cause you any strife or self-discovery? 


Full Moon Shadow Dancing

by Marianne in ,


You probably know that we've through a Full Moon in Libra. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about astrology, but word on the street is this moon's energy has been all about relationships and connections (there's some great stuff about the astrological significance of this Full Moon here). I don't know about you guys, but the week or so leading up to the Full Moon had me feeling a lot of turmoil about the other humans on this planet! It seemed like everyone was rubbing me the wrong way, and my usually calm inner sea was raging. How appropriate, then, that I should receive a newsletter from one of my favourite metaphysical workers and writers, the lovely Bri of Milagro Roots. Her newsletter is always like a precious gift in my inbox, (I highly recommend you sign yourself up!), but this one in particular spoke precisely of what I was experiencing at that moment in time.

This newsletter explored the idea of the Shadow Dancer - that person, energy, spirit, or idea, who appears as an obstacle or irritation on our path, not to truly hurt us, but to teach us. We've all come across those from time to time! In order to fully integrate the lessons of the Shadow Dancer, we must learn to embrace its teachings, to integrate its energy into our very being, so that we can enjoy full awareness of our own natures. Basically, we have to learn to dance! And what is a dance, if not a relationship?

If you've been following my blog over the past few weeks, you may have seen that during April's lunar cycle, I am particularly interested in the idea of the shadow. When Bri suggested a five-piece (tarot or oracle cards, runes, stones, etc) Full Moon reading to dig into the idea of the Shadow Dancer, of course I had to try it for myself. My results were so interesting and personal that, with Bri's kind permission, I just had to share them with you. Her instructions:

Meeting your challenger and learning to dance with them is a task you will be asked to do many times. It is not always easy so we are fortunate to have guides that can assist us. Our ritual for this Full Moon will demonstrate one way to work with those guides.

1.) Pick up your oracle of choice--you will need to be able to draw five pieces/cards/images out from the oracle so do take that into consideration.
2.) Enter into Stillness and Silence and/or Ground, Center, and Anchor using the audio on the freebies page or your own method of choice.
3.) Ask: What or Who is my Challenger right now? Draw a card to represent this figure.
4.) Ask What do they have to teach me? Draw a card to represent the lessons and gifts your Challenger brings to you.
5.) Ask: What or who is my ally in the face of this challenge? Draw a card to represent this figure or virtue.
6.) Ask: What do they have to teach me? Draw a Card to represent their teaching or gift.
7.) Ask: How may my Challenger and Ally dance with each other? Draw a final card to provide clues and inspiration to this query.
Consider your results in the way that works best for you.

Here's what I came up with - 

In my New Moon Reading for April, I had The Lovers appear as my manifestation card for the month. Being currently very preoccupied with the idea of exploring and integrating my shadow self, I took this to be about my need to keep working on unifying the disparate sides of my personality and experience. In my head, it's all me me me me me. Imagine my surprise, then, to see the Two of Cups appear here as my Shadow Dancer. I had been so caught up in my own little world that I had interpreted The Lovers as being primarily about my own, private journey. The Universe gave me yet another cosmic bitchslap with this spread, walloping me over the head and reminding me that, "Hello, you forgot about your boyfriend!"

Let me tell you a little something about my boyfriend. My long suffering other half, who calmly tolerates and even at times smiles enthusiastically when he comes home to find the coffee table covered in quartz points, or the house reeking of sage. The King of Swords to my Page of Wands, he is endlessly interested, endlessly supportive of all the weird shit that I come out with, even if it isn't always his cup of tea. If I have to be honest with myself (and I do, now that this spread has been so blunt), while I've been preoccupied with my own soul's evolution, I haven't exactly been the most attentive or enjoyable partner. 

Funny, then, that my primary romantic relationship should appear as my Shadow Dancer under this Full Moon in Libra. I get it, Universe, I get it! All this time, I've been burrowing deeper and deeper into my own head, and becoming increasingly uncommunicative about my experience there. Some of what I am digging up is still too tenuous to be shared, but my Shadow card here says that I need to learn to draw it up, bring it into the light, and show it to the person who knows me best, no matter how weird, vulnerable and challenging that might feel. My instinct is to withdraw, but the Six of Wands says that victory lies in the other direction. Coming back, reconnecting, communicating. 

My ally in this process? The World. Always a card that makes you believe everything is on your side! Significantly, The World is also a card of unification, completion, joy. Everything I have learned so far, and everything I will yet learn, is spurring me on this quest, and everyone who has touched my life has a role to play. It's time to bring it all together, and time to learn that this party isn't just about me! Isolation and withdrawal are not the answer to my question right now. My ally's lesson, the Nine of Wands, says a burden shared is a burden halved, and we all know two halves make a whole. 

Finally, the dance. The Ace of Wands. A change to say sorry, to start over, to renew my own spiritual journey. This time, though, I have some company on the road. 

*

Please do your spirit (and maybe even your relationship!) a favour and head over to one of my favourite places on the internet, Bri's website, Milagro Roots. She offers all kinds of sacred services, writes a fantastic blog, and of course, sends out a newsletter that is pure gold! I do recommend you sign up. 

What was your experience of the Full Moon in Libra this week? 


New Moon, New Blog

by Marianne in ,


Welcome to the inaugural post of the Two Sides Tarot Blog. Wish me luck on my maiden voyage! 

For some reason, I've been a little resistant to the idea of starting a blog for Two Sides Tarot. I think perhaps it was because I wanted the cards to speak for themselves. Being a tarot reader, though, the impulse to communicate, to write, and to tell a story inevitably won out. The cards will always speak for themselves, but working with a translator always helps them get their message across, and I have a lot of fun tarot stuff to share with you!

For now, I'm thinking about the moon. I'm no astrologer, but marrying up the cycles of nature and the rhythms in the messages of the cards feels, well, natural to me. The phases of the moon guide us through moments of action and reflection, and tarot guides us to make the best of each state that we move through. Over the past couple of months, I've been throwing a four-card reading for myself on the New Moon. This spread helps me to reflect on the month past, hone my focus for the month ahead (you can find out about ordering your own New Moon Reading here, if you're so inclined).

It was my intention to share this month's reading as my first blog post, and I didn't expect that it would be quite so personal. If this was ever to be a strictly business tarot blog, that cool and professional remove is now officially gone! Last month had me reflecting deeply on my attitudes to work, business, and money, which led to much tinkering around the site, and a little progress, I hope, in shifting my attitude about where my cash goes. This month, though, it seems I'll be going deeper. The topic of my New Moon Reading for this month is work on the self, the shadow, and the subconscious. 

1. What am I released from the lunar cycle just past? The Hierophant

2. What am I manifesting in the coming lunar cycle? The Lovers

3. How can I support myself in this process? Eight of Cups

4. A piece of advice, or something I should know, for the month ahead: Queen of Pentacles

The Hierophant always makes an alarm go off in my mind when I read for myself, because he is my Soul Card (find out how to calculate your own Soul Card here). Many people find it hard to relate to the stuffy old Hierophant (The Pope, in earlier decks), but, being a risk-averse, structure loving, list-making Capricorn, it didn't take me too long to make peace with him. His appearance here lets me know that in the month ahead, I will be shedding old notions of myself, confronting aspects of my personality and behaviour that are no longer useful, and discarding them. This is something I've been exploring for a little while now, and I'm not afraid to say that it scares the bejesus out of me!

The Lovers is a balm for my fear, though, suggesting that integration, unification, will be the theme of my month. Shedding The Hierophant rings scarily true with some deeply personal work I have been doing on diving into my shadow self, and The Lovers remind me that this process is not about losing myself, but making myself even more whole. I've been working with journaling, meditation, and dreaming over the past couple of months, and this has already begun to shed some light on the dusty corners of my subconscious. The Lovers says, persist. Draw out your hidden side. Bring it into balance with your conscious personality. Funnily enough, my Shadow Card is Temperance. Its absence from this spread does make it feel like the elephant in the reading!

The Eight of Cups advises to take some time out to allow this work to happen. Sit down, and take a long, hard look at what is really going on. I've been considering doing a silent meditation retreat, and perhaps now is the time to book it. Part of separating from a strictly Hierophant style of operating is perhaps the need to get out of my routine, to change things up. See what comes up when my roots have been shaken loose. I think it will take me a good portion of the month to understand exactly how the Eight of Cups should manifest, but I will be watchful for opportunities to deploy this energy of retreat, departure, and pilgrimage. 

Finally, the Queen of Pentacles. I had to smile when she came up. Just when I thought I was to discard my earthy, Capricornian nature, here is another card I strongly identify with. The Queen of Pentacles reminds me to marry my material concerns of last month's reading, with the deeper soul work that is ahead this month. How can I recalibrate my physical, material world, just as I am recalibrating my inner world? Like The Lovers, the two are connected and should be brought into harmony with each other.

This month, it seems I will be meditating on my shadow, Temperance. How do I quiet the domineering voice of The Hierophant, so a little more High Priestess can be heard? How do I marry conscious and unconscious, light and shadow, anima and animus, as The Lovers advise? All in a day's work for a professional tarot reader, apparently. I can see it's going to be a busy and challenging month!

What are your Soul and Shadow cards? Do you identify with them?