Sunrise

The tot and I are up early enough each morning to watch the sun rise; to see it, a holy glow, coronating the crest of the hills beyond our windows. I love that first glance out, my feet cold on the kitchen floor, as I greet the sky for the first time each day. 

This morning the trees were wreathed in three layers of cloud - creams and golds - the heavy dip of fog, and the slide of smoke across it all. It is Autumn, here, and each day I am better learning the feel of this season in our new home: the controlled burns, the morning fog (never there when I wake, but rolling up from the sea, then down the mountain towards us, only to dissipate again before my husband finally wakes), the rhythms of the wind - and oh, but the bite of it when it pushes against us from the southern ice-caps. 

I am so content here, in this land, in this place, and, now that I have the words for it, I can't help but wonder if the spirits of this home have particularly welcomed us, these strangers who adore this neglected old house. I have never felt so right in a stationary location before, have never been truly happy in one, at least not since we left the farm when I was a young child. It's... magical, for lack of a better word. (Of course, the tragedy of the modern renting cycle means that we may only be here until September, unless our contract is renewed. I'm... trying not to overly dwell on that!)

Hush & sunshine

I've been quiet, I know. It hasn't been an intentional thing, so much as a "goodness where has the time gone" thing, heh. I'm still chewing over the thoughts and ideas that I want to be writing here (...especially while doing the washing up. Apparently that's the adulting-mother version of "shower thoughts"?). I'm studying tarot, reading goddess books (currently: The Spiral Dance, which is super interesting), and feeling very engaged with my own mind, for lack of a better way to put it. We're also increasingly busy with pre-move prep. This week gone a truck came and picked up half a house worth of things for charity. The car is booked in for a service. We're putting away pennies for new tyres. Mid-September is hurtling towards us. 

Spring is hurtling towards us, too. I love this time of year, as winter begins to step aside to let her sunnier sister take the forefront. Today, for example, has been a burst of sunshine and airy warmth, despite the fact that the cold, misty fog of the morning (when T and I crawled out of bed to put the heater on in the living room) was thick enough to hide our mailbox from sight. We're definitely enjoying spending more time outdoors. T has been hand-feeding the chickens (he's going to miss them when they're gone), playing with our little dog, and rolling around in the grass both here and on our walks. 

We even walked to the farmer's market, yesterday, for the first time, though, to be honest it turns out I haven't been missing much: it felt considerably more like a "shop owners' market" than a "farmers' market", since the majority of the stalls were actually just mini shop fronts for local brick and mortar stores which... seemed a bit weird, frankly.

Exploring the Morgan-Greer Tarot. "Everyone" said I needed to get my hands on Rider-Waite as a learner's deck, so I did, but I find it kind of horrible. Morgan-Greer is seeming a better bet. I do acknowledge, though, that learning from a more traditional deck is helping me better interpret readings I see online.

Exploring the Morgan-Greer Tarot. "Everyone" said I needed to get my hands on Rider-Waite as a learner's deck, so I did, but I find it kind of horrible. Morgan-Greer is seeming a better bet. I do acknowledge, though, that learning from a more traditional deck is helping me better interpret readings I see online.

And little man T just woke up from his nap! So back outside into the sunny fresh air it is for me. :)

Book Review: The Spiritual Feminist

The Spiritual Feminist, by Amythyst Raine-Hatayama.  

I got a bit of a surprise by this book, probably because I was expecting more theology ("theaogy"?) and less Goddesses 101 - but, let's be honest, that's mostly my own fault for grabbing it for the title alone! 

As it was, reading Amythyst's A-Z of handpicked goddesses was interesting and educative; I had definitely heard of some, but not most, of the female deities explored in this text, and I certainly jotted down more than one name for further investigation.

One aspect of the A-Z left me feeling a little uneasy: should I, as a white woman of Northern European extraction, have equal access to all of these goddesses? Is it cultural appropriation, or is it fine if I honour a goddess of African or Asian cultures, if I do so with respect and consideration? Perhaps it is moot since, with a few exceptions, my list of resonating deities tended to be populated with goddesses born from the same areas as my own heritage. Which is... interesting. Is it ancestral memory, echoing through my spiritual DNA? Is it cultural? Is it simply down to the particular folklore and stories I was immersed in as a child?

That aside, along with the A-Z of goddesses, and when to invoke them, this book also contains a solid introduction to pagan celebrations, as well as rituals (such as cleansing) and affirmations. 

It is written in an empowering and cheerful tone, and was certainly a good read - even if the title is still making me imagine something totally different. Darn you, theology student backgroud! ;)

The Ace of Wands

Haaa, oh cards.

So. Full disclosure, because this is going to be the point of this entire post: my husband and I have been trying, for five months now, for a second child. We've been taking it seriously, but we haven't been stressing about because, hey, it took little T twenty-four months to show himself. Due to abrupt and side-swiping medical reasons, however, whilst waiting to find out whether this month was The Month, we also found out that, if it's not? It's not likely that we're going to get much of another chance. Reader, let me tell you: I wept. I really, really wept. The pressure has been wild and distressing. And the thing is, I have had so many pregnancy symptoms this cycle, things that I don't usually experience unless pregnant: boobs and body and brain have all been screaming 'pregnant'!

But I have also been spotting lightly for the last three days and, tomorrow, when Aunt Redcloak is due to appear, something tells me that she's going to. 

And yet, my daily cards recently! Oh, all my daily cards keep coming up fertile. I've drawn the Empress more than once, including when specifically dwelling on the status of my womb. I've pulled cards talking about new beginnings, about creativity, about hope. Today, the cream of the crop - the Ace of Wands, with it's bright new life budding away merrily; the Wild Unknown guidebook goes so far as to actually use the word "pregnancy", dammit. 

Biology, however, seems to be speaking a different story.

Somehow, though, all these fertility/hope/new life cards aren't actually bumming me out as much as I had thought they would (of course, before I started spotting? they were positively elating haha). I keep thinking, these last three spotty old days: if the Universe thinks the time is ripe for me to be getting on with being fertile, but it's not gifting us another baby, then what is it talking about? Do I need to get my arse back into gear with my creative writing? Do I need to step up my game with my spiritual new-growth? Do I need to be a better nurturer, a better mother, to the beloved child that I am already so privileged to have been chosen by?

Excuse the paper towel. There's a reason this isn't a lifestyle blog. :P

Excuse the paper towel. There's a reason this isn't a lifestyle blog. :P

And yes, definitely, it would be a complete and utter fabrication, a bald faced lie, to say that I'm not really, super, stressed about the thought of us not having more children. I am very seriously stressed about it: lots of kids is all I ever wanted in my life. And maybe, because the world keeps changing, and science does its thing, and so does the Spirit, we will still one day get another little soul choosing to make a home in my womb. Heck, maybe this spotting will quit and my period will never come.

I'm warring badly with faith, optimism, and realism here. 

But, in the meantime, the cards are oddly comforting, and I'm grateful to have them with me every morning as I wait for the kettle to boil - and for my body to do its thing.

weekly reading: the reader's reading

Wrapping up this week's The Alternative Tarot Course with a simple spread to find out more about myself as a reader. Card positions are 1-2-3, 4-5-6. This reading relies heavily on other peoples' interpretations of the cards, which I will credit throughout, as I am so very much a baby reader still!

The Reader's Reading, using The Wild Unknown deck.

The Reader's Reading, using The Wild Unknown deck.

1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?

10 of Pentacles. Looks like energy; powerful, glowing. I was really confused by this card, because it only seems to have nine pentacles in it, not ten: it took some reading online to realise that the tenth tiny pentacle is actually inside the centre one (thank you Carrie at this blog!). The Wild Unknown (TWU) guidebook talks about 'fulfilment and abundance', and that the number ten means 'completion'. To me, this looks like a bit of a reminder that I am a grown-ass woman, with a lot of experiences behind me, and that I also have an abundance of spiritual energy to put towards this work. Carrie Mallon refers to this card as suggestion a situation (person?) with a solid foundation.

2. What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader?

Ace of Swords. Something magical is happening in this card, with a sword (strength?) lit by flashes of lightning. According to the TWU guidebook, this card as speaks to truth and mental clarity.

3. What limits do you feel as you start this course?

7 of Cups. The darkness over the mountains seems somehow ominous to me, I'm not sure why!, but the new moon and the sun suggest the cycle of life which always somewhat reassures me. Seven is a holy number to me. TWU guidebook talks of illusion, deception, and facing temptation; that is is hard to see clearly or to judge right from wrong. It is interesting because, researching this card online, the 7 of Cups in other decks (including the original version of TWU, it turns out) seems to speak much more clearly to making choices, which isn't that obvious to me in this particular card - very interesting. Either way, I feel this card is describing the conflict I feel about choosing my spiritual path, which is obviously pretty limiting.

4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey with tarot?

5 of Pentacles. The flower is drooping; petals drop as flowers die; perhaps a season coming to an end. The rain, though, and the drooping, just makes everything here look utterly miserable. The TWU guidebook says: sadness, worry, illness; a card of hard times. 'Anxiety is counterproductive and damaging. Find a way to calm and quiet your mind.' As someone who has literal Anxiety, as well as a fair bit of generalised confusion and concern, this card definitely resonates with things I would like to learn.

Carrie Mallon suggests that this card often asks us to 'prioritise our spiritual wealth', which is also something I would like to develop more as I continue with tarot. 

This card, depressing as it is, speaks to me in multiple ways, so I will be carrying this card with me for the duration of this course.

5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?

Major Arcana, the Star. A star is a wish; stars in the night sky are calming even though they make us feel small, and a bright star like this one can help lead us on our journey. TWU guidebook talks of hope, peace of mind, and generosity. 'It is simply about connecting to the part of you that is hopeful and serene. This force will bring light back into your life and infuse you with positivity’ (TWU guidebook). I need to accept the peace that nature provides me, that the universe provides me when I relax and let it in, and practise hope and generosity (of spirit? towards my own self perhaps?).

6. What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?

9 of Cups. The blues in this card are so peaceful and spiritual to me; I have always visualised blue as a protective colour when utilising visualisations to keep myself safer. The colours here also look a little like a soothing sunset. The TWU guidebook talks of bliss and harmony, and of how worries and fears will be cast aside for a new phase of harmony. Biddy Tarot writes about contentment and satisfaction. Can't not love having drawn this as a card in this position! 

 

Beth has also blogged about this spread here

What a great way to end this week's coursework!

 

 

Tarot Birth Card: the empress

I'm nearing the end of this week's coursework (The Alternative Tarot Course), which is a distinctly satisfying feeling. As a mama, I honestly hadn't really believed that I could carve out time like this while T is awake - time to study, time to be creative. It's a good feeling, and one that I hope I can keep up for the next three weeks (and beyond?!).

The Empress, from The Wild Unknown.

The Empress, from The Wild Unknown.

Today's coursework has involved looking at my tarot birth card, which is where tarot and numerology intersect. Add my birth date numbers together and I get The Empress. In TWU deck, which is where I first pulled this card, it is a tree, white and ghostly, but blooming with bright colour. There is the new moon, too, which I associate with new life.

The Empress card in the Wildwood Tarot speaks to me much louder than in TWU. And, yes, I confess to already having a second set of tarot in just a few months, and I'll also admit to being a little worried that they might be like tattoos - once you get one, you get a whole collection, haha. Anyway. Here the Empress is the Green Woman, no sense of hierarchy, but a deep sense of the wild, of the female, of soft-growing leafiness. The Green Woman's stomach is heavy, curved with fertility and strength, and she stands at the cauldron with wild things in her hands; the cauldron itself has speaks ever-so loudly of female fertility and sex. In the background, fire and fierce sky or forest.

The Green Woman, from The Wildwood Tarot.

The Green Woman, from The Wildwood Tarot.

Motherhood. Femininity. Strength. New life. Sex. Energy. Fire. And growth: green, green, creeping and growing things.

Biddy Tarot deepens this interpretation with the keywords "fertility, femininity, beauty, nature, abundance". While I don't see myself as beautiful, those other words resonate with me loudly. My woman-ness has always sharply shaped my own image of myself, my expectations and perceived limitations, and I have always hoped to be a mother (I was dreaming about this when I was still a toddler, which I know sounds really weird!). I am at my best in the outdoors, and I yearn to be able to to do more gardening and exploring-of-nature. "Earth mama" (mentioned in connection with The Empress as birth card by Beth Maiden (Little Red Tarot)) has long been a term I've used to describe myself.

That said, something I keep coming back to, whenever I think about this card, is that I really need to embrace this side of myself more wholly. I may have long described myself as an earth mama type, long called myself an urban hippie - and long wanted to be a mother, but I think I get so caught up in hurrying around, getting things done, or even just wasting time by watching the telly, that I don't really put the time and effort into the things that ought to matter to me more. I need to start living the life I wish I were living!

 

In Search of an Online Sisterhood

Oh, but it has been fun exploring tarot blogs this week. 

The Internet - you know, that great old thing that I’m pretty sure most of us are starting to take for granted - has been such a huge part of my life since I first opened up 'the Google' in 2007 and dived on in. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the strongest sisterhoods I have ever been privileged to be a part of are the ones I've found online. Fandom (oh that precious, awful, hilarious, beloved beast), which is where I have laid my hat for so many years, has introduced me to more like-minded female friends than anything else I have ever been involved in (it also introduced me to my husband!). Great women, flawed-but-honest women, strong women, oh-so-creative women: that has been fandom to me. Sadly, these days, while those long-lasting friendships continue, we've somewhat drifted away from our origins, and much of current fandom leaves me feeling more than a little lost: we’re getting old. And fandom, more importantly, is moving to a different place without many of us older girls: text-based communities don't sit quit as well in the image-heavy and, frankly (to me) more regurgitative nature of places like tumblr (where a handful of creations are 'tumblr'd' time and time again). I miss words. I miss creating with words, too, as I haven't really made the time for them since birthing T (true story: I could write up to 10k a day, even while working full-time but not, apparently, as a mama). 

When it comes to my online communities, my online sisterhoods, I feel I’ve become adjacent, rather than participatory. I know what the big happenings are, but I don't tend to have strong feelings about them (apart from, often, shaking my head, haha), and I don't tend to create content around them. Again: I’ve gotten old. Apparently fancrone, instead of fangirl, starts in your thirties. ;)

That said, I miss the connection bitterly. I miss that strong sisterhood of creative woman; I miss that engaging, forgiving, exploring community space. I miss its liberalism, its oft-progressiveness, its oft-queerness.

It's true that I follow a lot of like-minded mamas on Instagram, but I struggle to feel a real part of a community there: maybe I'm not outspoken enough (Anxiety is such a bummer), or maybe it's that Instagram is a 'best of' newsreel. Journals and personal blogs, back in the day, were the ups and the downs and the goods and the awfuls: they were simpler and harsher and far more real. You could relate. And the dishes in the sink were allowed to be dirty. Maybe, too, it’s the same reason why I was never able to really connect (at a 'meaningful community' level) with the professional library community online, despite being a librarian. I’m not as interested in reading about what people 'are'. I want to know how they think, what they feel, how they dream. I am so much less who I am, as I am the thoughts swimming around in my head.

*

To get back on topic with my coursework (The Alternative Tarot Course), haha: some tarot blogs that I have particularly enjoyed so far... and of course this is a tiny list and is heavily influenced by Beth Maiden's suggestions because I'm just a newbie! :3

Little Red Tarot. Very smart, very informative, very clear and enjoyable to read. She's not scared of sexuality or politics, either, and has excellent guest posts.

New Age Hipster. Peppy. Oh my god so peppy, haha. But it's fun, and bright, and there's a lot more than 'just' tarot going on - heaps for me to read through and consider; I've definitely only scratched the surface.

The Woman Who Married A Bear. Milla's blog isn't specifically a tarot blog. It isn't specifically an anything  blog really: she follows her inspiration as it takes her. However, she is very spiritual, she is involved with tarot, and she was highly influential in me leaping into the tarot universe. 

Which leads us on to some other blogs that I like, which are not really tarot blogs, but which are witchy and spiritual and wonderful:

Aquarian Dawn. Herbalism, healing, motherhood.

The Great Kosmic Kitchen. Kitchen witchyness: herbalism, traditional foods, cooking.

Sarah Anne Lawless. Herbalism, healing.

common Magick. Astrology, rituals, healing.

Mystic Mamma. Guidance, astrology.

I've only been reading these a little while, but I really enjoy them. I'd love more suggestions for great spaces online for me to explore!

Challenges of Tarot

Part of this week's coursework (The Alternative Tarot Course) involves considering personal challenges around tarot. You know what? This has been difficult. I find myself more easily distracted from my study than usual, paying attention to T or to the fact that my fingers are freezing (to be fair, those are both pretty legitimate distractions :P). The fact is, I don't really even want to write this post, because I don't really have any answers. 

Clearly, as someone with a church-going background who is walking towards paganism, my greatest challenge is going to be theological baggage. And boy, do I have a lot of theological baggage. It's hard to ignore the things you were taught as a child, hard to believe that the slightest mistake isnt going to send me to Hell. I know all about the verses condemning the oracle readers and the sorcerers. I know about Saul, great man of the Old Testament, being said to have died largely because he consulted with a medium. But then I ask myself - was it the medium that was bad, or was it not putting trust in God? Is it bad to look at cards with an open sense of the spirit leading me, or is it bad to put my faith in paper instead of the spirit that surrounds us? And here's the biggest challenge - my faith itself is still in a process of transition. So I'm fighting with this baggage to begin with, in so many other ways than 'just' connected with reading tarot. The minute I started this part of the coursework, I knew I was going to be derailed away from my thoughts about the cards.

And yet, when it comes to my forming faith and my witchy-ness, I think it's going to end up wound in a deeply similar way to my queerness. We all know that the Bible, heck, that many religions (I've even seen this in certain Pagan people, though thankfully it doesn't seem common), frown pretty badly on folks acting out their gay ways. Frankly? At this point? I don't care. I've come to terms with my queerness, and my faith, and that's just the way it is. I have a feeling the witchy-ness is going to go down the same way. (The one certain thing I have left from my lingering Christian beliefs is that is that God is love, and that Jesus's sacrifice negated the old laws.)

Anyway. I feel dangerously open here, dangerously revealed and exposed. Not being certain of my beliefs leaves me raw. My Pagan feelings are nascent, still being formed, still being explored and shaped to feet between the ribs in my chest. Finding my way is one thing, but finding it publicly while standing only a few feet down the path is difficult. I do believe that the world contains inherent light and dark, good and bad, and I no longer believe that reading tarot cards as a form of self-reflection and self-exploration lands on the wrong side of the scales.

Knowledge makes us stronger, and I am in the process of learning more; the challenges, I know, will be unwound slowly.

Me, The Tarot Reader

When I was a child, I had a sixth sense. I perceived things. Places where something bad had happened screamed at me, shaking me down to my bones and demanding movement, like a wild animal scenting predators on the wind. Sometimes, more critically, it was a sense of where something bad was going to happen if we did not leave. I felt other things, too; about people, about animals. I could see a kind of aura, though it wasn’t the classic aura I’ve seen described in New Age texts from the Eighties. There was simply more to the world than my eyes could see, and I knew it as deep and as true as I knew that there was earth beneath my toes. 

I took that sixth sense, I took that awareness, in my mid-teens, and hunted it with severe prejudice. By the time I was sixteen, my religious upbringing had gone from a sense of vague love and security to a full-blown witch hunt - a hunt against so, so many things I was scared of, or felt externally-imposed prejudice against. I loved God like the fiery saints of the past, and I wanted him to burn everything else out of me. I recently re-read my diaries from those years, as part of my decluttering process, and oh, how hard I tried to love God more than anything else in the world, and how hard I beat my own Self down to try and achieve it. 

I do still love God; the Holy, the Infinite. I’m not designed, personally, to live in a world where there can’t be more than what we can see. And I'm feeling my way towards what shape those beliefs more naturally fit into. But I have come a long way from believing that tearing your Self asunder is the way to show love or respect for anything spiritual. I don’t believe that we should have to destroy what was birthed into us, created inside of us, woven into our souls in our mothers’ wombs. 

The Alternative Tarot Course has us consider our past. Has us consider why we want to learn tarot, and this glimpse into my past is very relevant to this. In learning tarot, I hope to loosen up. I hope to let go. I hope to re-embrace my instincts, but in a more empowering way, instead of simply by way of engaging with my Anxiety (“I shouldn’t walk that route, something bad will happen!” - and then I stand there dithering trying to second-guess myself). I was born with my sixth sense, my extra sensitivity, and in fact I inherited it from my father (who has also done his best to burn it out of himself, despite the fact that he used to have the skill to do so much), and so it ought, I reason, still be somewhere deep inside of me. It should be there, I hope, nestled in a corner of my mind, or my soul, or my genetic make-up. I hope to retain what I burnt out, and tarot is just one part of this exploration. 

The thing is, as I mentioned in my last post, this isn’t the first time I’ve reached for tarot (or, perhaps, isn’t the first time that tarot has reached for me?). I bought my first cards back in 2007. 2007 was a huge, pivotal year for me. I discovered the Internet, whilst overseas, and my world widened in a way that actually travelling across the globe had not achieved. I began to question so many things. My religious intensity. My political views. My preconceived ideas about my own future. Most of all, the shape of my own sexuality which, as you can imagine, was a pretty earthshaking thing to discover after years of deep denial. I came across the tarot cards in a basement bookstore, and I remember picking them up but I have no idea what prompted me to do so. I couldn’t really follow the instructions that came with them, though, since my Italian was perfectly functional but not that way inclined (I was living in Italy that year - a beautiful old university town perched upon a hill, with a wall around it that left me feeling more trapped than any language-limitations ever could). The artwork didn’t speak to me, either, ugly and strange, and I was embarrassed to bring them home with me, so I left them somewhere safe for another person to discover. And that, as they say, was the end of that. 

This year, tarot sings to me much more strongly. And I have found such beauty in the cards. The Wild Unknown is gorgeous, and takes people out of the arrangement in a beautiful manner - apparently this is good for me, as a beginning reader, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is because I have always felt closer to the Spirit out in the wilds. Perhaps because I think nature is a closer example to how things 'should have been'.

Through tarot, amongst other things, I want to regain my inner witch, unlock her from the cage that religion and history and, most undoubtably, I myself, have forcefully pushed her into. This is becoming as important to me as unlocking my inner queer was - this is another step towards knowing my own self more fully, towards becoming more whole as a woman.

The Alternative Tarot Course

My life, at the moment, is at a conscious shifting-point. Our tickets are booked, and we’re definitely (as definitely as the universe allows these things) moving ourselves down to Tasmania come mid-September. Our current house becomes increasingly, delightfully, minimalist, as I attempt to reduce our belongings down to what will fit in our 4WD. What is really important? Photo albums. The Johnson Australia dishes we were given at our wedding. My two Neoflam frypans. Our computers. T’s belongings. So many other things are just that: things. 

In this state of organised flux, where so many of my waking hours are dedicated to sorting and removal, I’ve found myself reaching closer to the spiritual side of things, for there you can find steadiness whatever else is happening. In my case, at this point, I'm reaching towards some blend of paganism. I have always been pagan-inclined, though I’ve only begun to realise this year that that is the term for it, primarily due to a distinct misunderstanding of what 'pagan' actually means (certainly nothing to do with the Devil). I have always felt closest to the Holy when seated in silent awe on a hard-earned mountain peak; always felt nearest to the Infinite with the sky above me. And so, this year, I have been reading a lot of pagan, with an emphasis towards hedgewitchy, texts on my Kobo at night, while T slumbers next to me.

I’ve also bought a set of tarot cards (The Wild Unknown, which I think I first discovered through the delightful Milla of The Woman Who Married A Bear). It’s actually the second set of cards in my life, but the first I’m really attempting to learn about. Which leads me to the point of this post: I’ve begun The Alternative Tarot Course, by Beth Maiden of Little Red Tarot, and I'm going to be using this space to be recording my thoughts as I engage with the coursework  (Beth encourages this! and I highly recommend her course, by the way, which is, as a bonus, very reasonably priced). 

This post brought to you by allowing T to destroy a box of tissues under the table; I’m pretending I haven’t noticed. That’s different than him knowing I consent to it, right? Hahah. Awful mothering.