Books, Oracles and Spring is Here!

Today, a behind the scenes peek from the pen (ok, the laptop) of Two Sides Tarot. What's been shakin' round these parts? 

Books, as ever - I've just started Mark Nepo's extraordinary Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, and it's knocking my socks off! I go through phases with spiritual literature; sometimes I can't get enough and I love filling myself up with it, and other times I feel bloated on well-meaning advice from all those gurus and I need to take a step back and read something else for a while. After having stuck mostly to novels and memoirs for the past couple of months, I picked up Nepo's book and found myself ripe for his way of thinking. If you're looking for some inspiration or a reminder to engage with the numinous, I recommend it (and as ever, if you can, consider purchasing it from your local independent bookseller)! Other excellent recent reads include Michelle Tea's How to Grow Up and Jesmyn Ward's Men We Reaped. I do love a good (if harrowing) memoir! Any recommendations welcome!

I've never been much of an oracle card reader - for some reason (Capricorn, hello), I prefer to have the structure of the tarot as a foundation for my readings. I am beginning to open up my cold, hard little heart to one oracle deck in particular though. The Journey of Love oracle deck is a really warm and thoughtful piece of work, with rich and mostly abstract illustrations. I'm not sure yet if this will ever make its way into my client offerings, but I am enjoying incorporating it into my personal practice. It's a good one!

Since returning from my American holiday a couple of weeks ago, I've been having a total incense moment. I've always been a fan of some casual Nag Champa, and after weeks of being afraid of setting off hotel fire alarms, I must've really been craving it because when I unpacked, I realised I bought a WHOLE lot of incense on my travels! My haul included a variety of aromatic magics from House of Intuition in LA, two truly special blends from The Sword and Rose (thank you to everyone who encouraged me to go there, it really is a special corner of the world!), a variety of stick incenses, and that pinon pine brick incense pictured above. Needless to say, I've been burning up a storm since I returned! Life smells good! 

Finally, I'm just enjoying the shifting of the seasons. I missed most of the first month of Spring, since I was away in the US, but now that I'm back I can definitely feel that change in the air. We've had some very warm days, the light is shifting, daylight savings has begun, and the pollen count is off the charts (achooo). Meanwhile, most of my tarot community, online as you are, are getting ready for Halloween, mainlining the pumpkin spice, and embracing the shorter, cooler days. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, about how I would like to incorporate more observance of the Wheel of the Year into my personal practice. It does feel challenging, as a citizen of the Southern Hemisphere, when most of the information and observance on offer on the internet comes from the opposite season to what one is actually experiencing. Even before I was actively witchy, I'd always experience a sort of cognitive dissonance, as the bloggers I read and the tumblrs I followed got me all in the mood for hot chocolates when I was moving into summer, and for lazy summer afternoons by the pool when I should've been drinking hot chocolate under the doona!

So, to that end, I'm considering doing a series of posts for the Southern Hemisphere practitioner, to get those of us down here who are sneezing and shedding our cardigans in the mood, considering that we've just had our Vernal Equinox and we're heading towards Beltane. Can you dance around the maypole in November? I guess you can in Australia! With all of that said, I'm not an expert on the Wheel of the Year, and I don't identify as a Pagan or Wiccan or really with any other earth-based religion. In some ways, I think it's sort of odd to want to adopt these festivals in the Southern Hemisphere, since they grew from the spiritual traditions of Europe. I do think, though, that we owe it to whatever land we live on to pay attention, and observing the turning of the year is the best way I can think of to do that. So, more to come on this! And a shoutout to any other fellow Southern Hemispherans - is this something you also feel a lack of? Is someone already doing this (no doubt better than me!) and I just haven't found their website yet? Is this something you're interested in? Let's talk about it!

That's what's been stewing in my mind. What have you been up to? Got a great book recommendation or favourite incense blend to share? Let me know in the comments! Oh and remember, you can subscribe by email so you never miss a post!

Bits and Bobs from Behind the Scenes

In lieu of a strictly business tarot-related post, today I thought I'd share a little update about what's going on behind the scenes at Two Sides Tarot. I'm a busy beaver, but of course it isn't all toil around here! This post really is just a recap of what I've personally been up to - sometimes I just have to give in to the impulse to talk about myself! You've been fairly warned.

On the bookshelf, I've been slowly making my way through Deborah Lipp's new book, Tarot Interactions. It's refreshing to find a tarot book that goes beyond explaining card meanings to look at how to synthesise multiple cards into a cohesive reading. Although this book is aimed at the intermediate practitioner, I think in some ways it would benefit tarot beginners to start with Lipp's exercises right away. When you start learning tarot, it's easy to get bogged down in memorising card meanings, but what you really need to give good readings is an understanding of how those meanings interact with context. The sooner you can work that into your tarot practice, the quicker you'll be able to give really meaningful, relevant and detailed readings, so I highly recommend readers of all levels check this one out!

In non-tarot related reading, I've been on a bit of a YA binge, getting myself up to date with Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series (ALL THE FEELS) before the fourth volume is released on September 1st, and indulging in the always dark and delicious Holly Black, with her recent-ish book, The Darkest Part of the Forest. I do love me some tricksy fae folk! I also read another book by my beloved Natalie Goldberg, Long Quiet Highway, a volume of memoir that explores Natalie's zen practice and early writing career. Love, love, love, as always. If you're a fan of Writing Down the Bones, I'm sure you'll love spending more time with this inspired teacher. Finally, I almost always have some poetry on the go - this month's read, Mules of Love, is by one of my favourite poets, Ellen Bass. As ever, reading her poetry is like eating some kind of rich and magical spirit cake! Get it in you immediately!

It would appear that when I'm not reading cards, I'm reading books - that is almost true! In the rare moments I don't have my nose buried in a book, I've been playing countless rounds of solitaire with Corina Dross' Portable Fortitude playing card deck. Check out these cards, they are seriously cool! They may be bringing me good fortune in other areas of my life, but I'm sorry to say my solitaire win percentage has not improved. Probably can't blame Corina for that though!

Finally, I just wanted to share some progress from the Agony Augury question I answered for myself a couple of weeks ago about struggling to get back into exercising. Since writing that post, I've managed to stick to a schedule of two gross and sweaty workouts a week without too much difficulty. Just imagining that Page of Swords cutting away any procrastination and avoidance has been really helpful, and I feel so much better for it! I've also been giving a nod to my inner High Priestess, who appeared in a bit of a funny way in that reading, by doing five or ten minutes of seated meditation after my workout. It's a good way to close off the session and to integrate the positive lessons of the experience. I think my body also appreciates being listened to in that way, and it's nice to mindfully enjoy that enlivened post-workout sensation! If you have a question for the Agony Augury, please do write in!

That's what I've been up to. What about you? Let me know in the comments!

Peeking Out of My Hidey Hole

Well, well, well! It has been an awfully long time since I last wrote a missive on the Two Sides Tarot blog. I am a firm believe in honouring your intuitions and inclinations, and over the past few months, the urge to write at length just hasn't been there. Today, though, I heard a little whisper in my ear. Could it be time to return to writing this blog? Let's follow that whim and find out!

So, what wonders have graced the shores of my world since I last wrote? 

A lot of journaling (my favourite pastime). A lot of meditation. 

A serious love affair with The Wild Unknown Tarot. If you are a follower of my daily Weather Report you might have noticed that, while I usually use a different deck each month, from January through April this year, we had the same deck over and over. Because The Wild Unknown is actually The Business. 

Feeling emboldened by Natalie Goldberg's classic, Writing Down the Bones. If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. Then, for god's sake, write about it.

Chasing that up with an advance reading copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's forthcoming number, Big Magic. In my other life I am a bookseller, so often spoiled with advance copies of wonderful books. A perfect chaser to Writing Down the Bones. Equally emboldening! A call to arms for creativity for the sake of itself. Keep your eyes peeled for this one - I believe it hits the shelves in late September.

Listening to a lot of On Being and Dear Sugar. Doesn't Cheryl Strayed have such a wonderful voice for radio?

What have you been up to lately? What has been stirring your mind or tugging on your heart? I'd love to know!