Earthbound Oracle

Lammas Came and Went

So much for my diligent observance of the Wheel of the Year! We're now five days into February, and I haven't done a damn thing to mark the cross-quarter day that comes at the beginning of the month. I have to admit that I've struggled to connect with this festival, the festival of harvest and sacrifice. The weather here has been erratic - alternately cool and windy, cool and raining, steaming hot and rain, burning hot and sunny. Each day - each hour - is a surprise, seemingly unrelated the last.

The Blasted Oak, from The Wildwood Tarot, represents the sacrifice and cleansing fire of Lammas.

My days are largely spent indoors, staying out of the heat or the wet or doing tasks that can't be done anywhere else, and there's no obvious thread of season to grasp on my walks to and from home. There are no changes that I can discern in the mostly-evergreen trees in my neighbourhood, and my indoor tropical and desert plants seem to operate independently of the external weather. I'm still enjoying the tail end of summer fruits from the supermarket, but apart from that, there's little sense that anything is cycling through.

Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, but I think what I've been wanting is some kind of sign that the Wheel is turning! Reading Beth's beautiful tales of Imbolc on the Isle of Skye makes me crave meteorological drama, and makes me wish I was more obviously in sync with things, perhaps in a garden, harvesting root vegetables. Instead, when I thought about sitting down to write this blog post, I was stumped. Shouldn't things feel more like they're wrapping up, as we get ready to go into the dark? Instead, life seems busier than ever. 2016 finally seems to be underway, with all kinds of projects gearing up around me. The sleepiness of the Christmas break is well and truly behind us. Everyone around me is throwing themselves into creative work, travel, new jobs. No way do I feel like thinking about storing my grain for winter! 

It occurs to me, though, that part of the reason I haven't felt like stopping to engage with this harvest festival is that I've been busy harvesting! Creative ideas are coming to fruition, hard work that I put in over the past couple of months is beginning to pay off, and I'm busy, busy, busy keeping all these plates spinning! As well as being a time of harvest, Lammas is also a time of sacrifice, and I've been happily sacrificing time and energy for my grand plans and projects. I'm a huge fan of Rob Brezsny's weekly horoscopes, and trusty ol' Capricorn keeps being told that sacrifices are in order, negative habits must be released, if targets are to be met. I hear you Rob, I hear you!

Living in a city with often undifferentiated seasons doesn't mean the Wheel's energies aren't visible. I'm learning to see the changes in my internal weather, and in the social weather around me. The connections aren't always obvious, but I'll keep trying, keep observing as the year goes on, and see what I can learn. 

Even though I'm a little bit late, I couldn't wrap this up without a Lammas-inspired tarot spread. If you're feeling like doing a little late harvesting, too, feel free to give it a try! 

1. FRUITS OF THE FIELDS: What blessing from the recent season is coming to fruition in my life at this time?

2. FUEL FOR THE FIRE: What habit, experience, or mindset needs to be released from my life before I move into dark, quiet period of the year?

3. PICKLES FOR THE WINTER: What lesson do I need to preserve from the recent season for the darker days ahead?

These are my findings, using the Earthbound Oracle -

Funnily enough, these cards do put me in mind of that turn towards the slower season. Turtles and birds nests are my images to take away here! I'll have to spend a little time with these cards and see what other insights they have to share. 

What are your thoughts on the harvest festival? How do you make it feel relevant and meaningful? I'd love to know in the comments! Oh, and don't forget, you can subscribe to Two Sides Tarot and get posts directly into your inbox!

Returning to Daily Practice

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!