Springtime Fire: Ace of Keys

TarotTuesdayBannerRemember back at Winter Solstice, when we were dreaming with the spark of light in the dark and cozying into little seeded  visions of the year to come?

Well, Spring has arrived and the days are warming and the spirit is stirring and those sunflower seeds are sprouting – the first to burst out in my garden this year!

sunflowersproutsWhat card might you draw – in actual practice, or in your imagination right now, as you read this – to tell you a little bit about what’s sprouting up for you this Spring? Maybe it’s not what you expected, but there it is, poking its head up through the soil and stretching for the light of your attention.

Wands have been visiting me a lot lately, and I was struck this morning by how that’s probably the suit I most fumble with interpreting, especially in words, out loud, to others, in the moment. Which is funny, cuz wands are totally out loud, in the moment. Thinking about which card symbolizes Spring the most for me this time around, I immediately pictured The Ace of Wands – in The Collective Tarot, which is especially my favorite deck for how they present the wands – keys, for this deck – and how they make powerful sense to me.

ace-of-keys-collective-tarotThis feels especially like Spring to me – unlocking the chest – out of which come flying flowers and fire and visions of creative projects and busy buzzing bumblebees! (It can’t just be me with an overwhelming amount of projects taking shape, can it?) Maybe this is literally unlocking the chest, a new phase in the heart-opening yoga that has been such a friend to me through the winter, and the fiery heartfelt feelings that surge up to the surface in that practice. I certainly feel a good kind of fire in all the opening windows and spring cleaning that comes with this time of year, and the fire of purging old stuff out and away to craft  physical spaces that support my evolving needs. Like Springtime, Ace of Keys reminds me that change can come all in a rush, even when you see it coming, even when you choose it by turning the key, and that that fire can be released in a way that fuels dreams and visions into practice and reality.

And I like the idea of keys being concrete things we do to unlock our passion, sexuality, creativity, and flowering heart spirit.

What works like a key for you to unlock your fiery chest?

What do you think you might find in there?

Sometimes “wands stuff” isn’t all sexy good times and art projects and flower hearts. Old (or fresh) wounds in these realms can make this territory particularly fraught, shut down, angry, explosive, melancholy, or even paralyzing. Over the last week, I’ve found myself coming back to an old album and realizing it always grabs me each Spring – something about it perfectly captures the mixed up kind of melancholy winter hangover and hot promise of summer that catches me up and makes this time of year feel strange and volatile, but gentle like plinky singbird ukelele and laying around in the breezy grass at the same time.

Coming back to the Ace of Keys can help focus and maybe reclaim some of the energy that surges up around Spring. Get this card out, or find/make another image that symbolizes hope, desire, or new life for you. Put that image somewhere you’ll see it. Breathe in and out and let yourself expand into your body, into the space you naturally and rightfully take up. Be gentle with yourself if this stuff makes you angry, sad, scared, or exhausted. Take a walk and soak up all that bright new green and know that everything in the entire living northern hemisphere right now is feeling these growing pains along with you.

springLet this Ace of Keys energy and spirit and slow-bursting newness infuse your busy bee life. Let yourself feel a little fire in your chest. Take up the space you need to let your most hopeful visions start to become reality. ❤

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Kaeti Gugiu is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. Photos in this post are attributed to Kaeti unless otherwise specified. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Earth Voices, Lunar Rhythms

TarotTuesdayBannerToday I want to share with you one of my all time favorite decks – super special to me – the deck that lead me to one of my all time favorite tarot-type practices. It’s technically not a tarot, but an oracle deck. I found it at a garage sale waaaaaaay back when I lived in Portland, and I’d never seen anything like it. It’s called Earth Voices, “heard” by Beridha and “energetically hand scribed” by Jacqueline Rene (Otter by Terra Green) – clearly a lovingly and communally-crafted small-run, small-eco-press deck that magically found its way to my little hands one summer when I really needed a new friend.

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Each card offers an imaginal meditation on a natural element, animal, or rhythm.

EVWaterfallI was so taken by these cards’ simplicity and complexity and power and calming presence that they became my monthly cycle deck – every moon I would draw a card and reflect on it, orient towards it, let it prepare me for the lessons of the coming cycle and reflect on the lessons of the cycle drawing to a close – and how they related to one another.

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Unknown Image of Yemaya from the internets – if you know the artist or attribution, please let us know! ❤

Over time, this created a beautiful kind of continuity in my inner world that, in my outer world, I drew incredible strength from. Lunar cycles are a rhythm we humans know deeply, and one that naturally synchs up with our personal rhythms of body, mood, fertility, sexuality, growth, decay, and lessons of transformation. I let this rhythm guide my introduction to these cards, so that it took years for me to meet all of them, but I have a very loving and familiar relationship with each one. I can still recall certain moons of my life that brought particularly intense lessons by their Earth Voices card – oh,  Snakes July-ish of 2008, I remember you well.

EVSnakesRegardless of whether you are a person who bleeds with the moon, I would encourage you to explore a practice of monthly draws – a chance to integrate lessons of the month, get in tune with the moon and her seasons, and begin to record these meditations in words and images that you can reflect on and weave together as time moves on. We are so oriented in the dominant culture towards action – doing, making, judging, achieving, proving, yang, solar consciousness, whatever you want to call it – and this attitude often creeps into even our daily devotional practices or daily draws, preparing us for the action of the day. A lunar practice of chill meditative reflection is soothing and deepening and brings its own magical rewards.

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The gorgeous and adorable work of Emmy Cicierega.

Maybe there’s a particular deck that speaks to you on this level, encourages you to get dreamy or connected to the more-than-human world?

Now, for the really magical part. Wouldn’t you like to play with these lovely Gaian spirituality cards yourself?I have looked and looked for Earth Voices online, and never found a thing. It was always a beautiful mystery that I fantasized belonged to some sort of woodsy Oregonian hippie tribe, who somehow missed the internet. Today, I thought, well I’ll just try again, for the blog – and low and behold, I found what’s obviously an oldish website, but complete with the Earth Voices cards all laid out for you to use too! There’s even a few new cards (!!!!) that exist in this virtual form and were never included in my deck! How freaking exciting is this!! Click here or the image below to see and play with them for yourself…

EVspreadDo you have ideas for what a lunar practice might entail for you? How might you create a space once a month that helps you chill, relax and reflect? Some questions to begin with might be one or more of these: “What am I letting bleed away from me? What do I no longer need to house within me? What lesson do I need to be attending to? What do I choose to nourish and grow within me? Who are my allies in this cycle? Where does the more-than-human world support me now? What do I have to learn from the more-than-human world? Where can I go in nature to find restoration and renewal?”

PS: The upcoming Pisces new moon on the Spring Equinox would be a great time to begin!

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

The Empress & Multidimensional Femme Power

TarotTuesdayBannerOne of my favorite things about tarot is how, over the years of study and practice, each card accrues layers of meanings and association and strangeness and familiarity. Each image keeps teaching me newly, as I grow and change. Sometimes this is helpful in a reading, where a card kind of unfolds into myriad possibilities and you pluck out the most relevant one. But today I want to talk about how just one card, considered in this way, can create a kind of self-reflective practice that can teach you a lot about yourself and that growth and change we’re always doing.

Today, for me, that card is The Empress. Chalk it up to it being #womenshistorywomensmagic month, or International Womens’ Day this week and seeing a lot about that float through my social media, or my intensifying investigation into femme identity lately, or just the fact that The Empress showed up in my morning meditations and said,

sassyempressHanging out with Her in my head for a minute, I was amazed at the multidimensional map of my own changing relationship to The Empress and her psychic realm that just unfolded in that instant, like, *snap*

Now, I don’t have years of tarot journals like I do with my dreams but I do have a major-arcana-only deck I made long ago and far away as a project for an undergraduate class on history, fiction, and memory at Portland State. I know, those where the days. The Empress card that came outta that project was one of my favorites.

KaetisEmpressIt’s a simple collage: text from a passage of One Hundred Years of Solitude atop a photo of a Passionflower I’d taken a few years before in Costa Mesa. But it takes me back to the way I related to this card during those days. The traditional entry into this card of “motherhood” or “fertility” or “passivity” weren’t really accessible to me at all during those times. But what I did feel all around me was the vibrant, pulsing life of the earth and the rhythm of human community outside in the flesh and sparkling in books I devoured hungrily, this current ebbing and flowing around me, and a sense of femininity and sexuality as mysterious powers that existed both at the root and somehow outside of this bloodbeat flow. The world felt magical and dangerous and alive and sensual – and I had a hard time being “in my body,” as they say, but I touched embodiment by touching in with that flow, and THAT, for me, was The Empress.

Later, in more recent years, my whole relationship with the card has shifted into the realm more traditionally associated with it: motherhood. The process of conceiving, growing, nurturing, birthing, and caring – for a project, for a person, for oneself. Unraveling the very fraught relationship with motherhood bequeathed to us by culture and family. The ability to relax into a flow and let yourself be carried and nurtured by it, in turn. The sacred mystery of the matroyshka dolls of history, ancestry, and future generations. All these things have been my go-to understandings of The Empress most recently, and I adore The Collective Tarot‘s take on this card – called Reception – and how it holds all this for me.

2ReceptionThese days, The Empress is morphing again – She is teaching me new lessons, pointing me down paths in her forests that I’ve never traveled before. There are 2 images at work:

ChildEmpressI picked up this postcard on my recent travels, and it reminds me this morning that The Empress is also the natural law of the body, which can sometimes be so oppressive but also a source of childlike joy, confidence, power, and flight. She is the voice that cries out in wordless feeling, her smile sassy and knowing, her body in motion, the wind in her face, her bike beneath her, the blossoms of spring reaching down with promise.

Mostly though – and what really prompted this post, the first kernal – was how The Empress started talking to me about Femme-ness. About how we claim power by claiming fierce and vulnerable femininity on purpose. About having a refuge of comfort and validation in this when the dominant-culture world tells us that femme is weak, stupid, and less-than and never-enough – which is pretty much every day. About how femme-ness isn’t defined by body parts or literal fertility or sexuality or anything alone – but by our own complex relationship with The Empress and wherever we find her temple, be it in our own bodies or the vibrant world or the ocean or your best friend or your lover or your sister or on the radio or on the dance floor or on your yoga mat or where EVER you are today. I am having another big round of just learning about this, and today The Empress reminded me to dig into my collage archives, throw up some images and let that be a new permutation of her card to guide me in my exploration.

EmpressFemmeCollageNever underestimate the power of making your own images and doing your own naming.

And you can see how building your own images, or having different decks available, fosters this process of growing your own layers of meaning and associations with a card. This shows really brilliantly how archetypal imagery works – tapping into an experience or psychic realm that we all have access to, as human beings, and which we may use only one word for, but which we all must necessarily experience in unique and personally meaningful ways that are endless in their manifestations and permutations. I would love to hear about y’all’s experiences with The Empress and her imagery and her femme power, and what she means to you these days…

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

A Little Tarot Magic for Compassionate Commitment

TarotTuesdayBannerLet’s do a little magic.

Today I want to explore how tarot can be brought in to deepen an existing daily practice that you have – little rituals, affirmations, meditation time, yoga time, whatever you got going on. Some folks talk about this as a daily draw, but I’m curious today about bringing tarot into a conversation or practice that already exists. Sometimes daily draws all by themselves get a little unfocused, repetitive and, well, boring for me. I like to incorporate tarot into whatever else I’m up to because it helps me have some structure in understanding the card’s message, and keeps me learning from the cards in fresh ways.

So what I’m up to today is #womenshistorywomensmagic – a little ritual I found at the blog of the incomparable tarot reader, priestess, and magic-maker Yeshe Rabbit. Go check it out for a good read and the details of the practice – in essence, though, here’s how it goes (from the source):

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Print out a picture of the Earth as seen from space. This is a nice one, and so is this.

Also place a photo of yourself on the altar.

Every day in March, stand in front of your altar for a few minutes each morning or evening.

Looking at the photo of yourself, say out loud, “I have compassion for you, and I commit to you, Self.”

Then think about all of the women you know who are struggling to do their best, to make change, to take good care of those they love, to create art and beauty, to invent, innovate, revise and iterate, and generate a deep sense of compassion and respect for them all.  Say out loud, “I have compassion for you, and I commit to you, Women.”

Finally, look at the photo of the Earth, and envision all that needs to be done to heal her…the waters, the air, the land, the animals. Say out loud, “I have compassion for you, and I commit to you, Mother Earth.”

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I’m feeling this today, on each level. A lot of my personal work lately is spiraling around my compassionate commitment to myself and what that really looks like in practice – it raises a lot of questions! I also wrestle with what compassionate commitment to women looks like in practice, as I in the past week I’ve witnessed gnarly strains of misogyny and transmisogyny creeping into spaces in which I really want to feel safe, and in which I’m not sure how to find voice to fight back, or how much of a shared space to claim as my own in that fight. It’s so difficult when these things catch us off guard in our own homes, families, and communities – and yet, shouldn’t these be the places where we are best and most lovingly able to have conversations about it?

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How Misogyny Shows Up In the Queer Community by Anna Bongoivanni – an awesome lil comic

And on the Earth Mama level, especially difficult questions are arising about compassionate commitment. It’s like everywhere I look, folks are looking the other way from glaringly painful realities around how we pollute and poison our world. It’s like a constant grief, just below the surface. Yesterday at the beach, just walking in the sun after the gorgeous storm system rolled through, a dying seal washed up on shore. A small group of bystanders gathered around to prod and take pictures of him. We alerted the closest authorities, and they said they’d take care of it, but it’s clear not much was to be done. Maybe this was just a normal thing, but in the context of hundreds and hundreds of mysterious sea lion rescues and deaths  in the last month off our coast, that seems unlikely.

Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks – so this little ritual caught me at a good time, and helps me reorient toward exploring the possibility that I do have some power, I can make choices that reflect my caring and commitment. It may seem ridiculously small in the face of such big questions and concerns – but to me, it’s super helpful to get out from under the overwhelm of such bigness and get back into reflection about my own thoughts and feelings about these things.

I’m a big believer in the power of small, local change and action in relationship with others doing the same work.

What does it mean for me to be in right relationship to these forces in my own small way?

That is a great question for tarot.

So here’s how that looks for me, this morning. Let’s go in reverse order, starting where we are with the big Earth Mama stuff and working back out to Self. The Motherpeace Tarot deck feels like a good choice.

Guidance for my compassionate commitment to Mother Earth: 5 of Wands.

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Join the struggle. Here is where the fight is. Don’t be afraid to be angry – but don’t be afraid to use that force creatively, to let off pressure often rather than all at once. There is a way to engage this struggle that sustains and supports us through the conflict. It will take many points of view, many tools and perspectives and voices and actions. This is a shared endeavor, and requires sharing power. Commitment to caring for Earth Mama requires change, discomfort, challenge – it is not easy.

 Guidance for my compassionate commitment to women: 3 of Disks.

MP3ofDisks

Remember that this is a work in progress, and that we are working together. The model here is not a fight but re/building. See how walls and boundaries house us and keep us safe. Windows help us breathe, see, modulate and communicate. None of us can do it alone. Come not from the fire of anger but the earth of steady purpose and patient labor.

Guidance for my compassionate commitment to Self: 7 of Cups

MP7ofCups

Continue to be with your dreams, and value in the inner spaces of imagination and vision. But be mindful of your choices, and how your visions, desires and idealism sometimes cloud your sense of reality. Use the weave of the net to strain what is useful and discern what is not. Remember your ground in the tidal work between worlds.

Each card helps deepen the affirmation, orients me, and creates a touchstone image for me to carry with me throughout my day and outward interactions. Super helpful for me. And as I do these affirmations over the course of the month, I’ll weave a rich relationship with each image that will inform my work with them in the future. I love tarot magic!

And obviously this is just an example. You could do a draw to support any daily affirmation, morning or evening ritual, meditation focus, yoga or other practice intention…you get the idea. Enjoy your tarot explorations!

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Love Song to the 9 of Pentacles: The Secret Garden

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The 9 of Pentacles is one of my favorite cards. Every time it comes up, the sweetest blend of ease and delight and groundedness nestles into my heart. Just look at her here:

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Rider Waite Smith’s 9 of Pentacles

Sweetly golden light. A secret garden of plenty. The walls themselves alive with growth, not entrapping but enriching – I imagine, providing safety and respite, a little queendom with everything I need. Solitude without isolation – the little bird of the soul flies freely within and without, bringing and sending news. The little snail slides over the earth, at its own pace, doing its thing, welcome too in its way. Sunset or sunrise, a time of taking stock and resting in one’s own intention, settling into one’s place, remembering connection with self and with world.

But a little bird says: how do we square this with the fact that 9s represent thresholds? A dear friend of mine likes to refer to the “crisis of the 9” – 9 as a gate, a challenge, a test…indeed, a crisis. There is no gate, no challenge here – is there?

Some answer to that question lies in the fact that this is card I drew on the day of my first big MFT exam last week – and immediately I felt the power of knowing I had everything I need to pass, but also the whispering challenge of this card and the secret of its test.

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The Wild Unknown’s 9 of Disks. Really, this is the card I drew on exam day – the wealth I have accrued and earned in my labors, nestled safely in soft feathers and here for me as I need it.

Another answer to that question lies in the song I played on repeat on my way to the exam, and which now seems to hold a special resonance with this card and its strange confluence of safety and crisis: My Brightest Diamond’s Dreaming Awake. Take a moment to take in this wonder:

What is the slowing-down place that keeps its voice against challenge?

What is the slowing-down place that keeps its heart amidst panic?

What is the slowing-down place that dreams while awake?

Now that I  sit with it, I feel like these questions have been in my life and my practice all week.

How do we keep to our principles and integrity and still participate in the awful world?

How do we hold on to ourselves in the face of unrelenting panic attacks and terror?

How do I stay in my power and the sacredness of my healing work while taking a grueling 4 hour exam that dissects and belittles me, my community, my work?

I keep thinking of the image of the cops invading the sacred space of that secret garden in the video. Suddenly, this card appears to me as a meditation, visual mantra, or energetic ally for those times when an intrusive and punishing force invades and threatens to sever connection to ourselves or our world. This could be the oppressive dynamics that hit us hard when we step out of the safety of our queer households and into the dominant overculture. This could be you, being in a dreamy and open and soft space and suddenly having to interact with someone angry and punishing, or overwhelmed with sensory input in a loud and busy place. This could be taking a walk on the beach to connect with nature and seeing all the trash, the oil wells, the giant ships packed with slave-labor goods, the polluted waters. This could be you minding your own business and suddenly having a flashback or panic attack, your mind spinning out of control.

Any of these scenarios offer the opportunity to learn to find your core…to breathe…to practice the delicate art of staying present in the face of pain…to slow down and draw strength from your secret garden, to remember the way back to yourself, to remember that you have a grounded and connected self to come back to at all.

All this is the crisis of the 9 of Pentacles, which teaches about the place where sacred and profane overlap.

I always used to think of this card as a garden, but now I see it more as an economy – a sacred or gift economy, oeconomy in the old sense of “the management of a household.” Indeed, some of the traditional meanings for this card include good luck, good management, inheritance, attention to detail, loving criticism, integrity and skill producing wealth, the flow of gain – all of which you might also glean from its astrological correspondence of Venus in Virgo.

Sacred or Gift Economy to me holds a connotation of flow, of giving with the understanding that the gift is always moving, that giving and receiving are parts of the same act and hold reciprocal value. This card is wealth without hoarding, sharing without shame. There is an understanding that while we may sometimes need to retreat and build fortresses to make it through the short-term, there is ultimately no extra safety in cutting off or hoarding or silencing: we must find our flow, and participate in the flow of which we are only a part – the tidal flow of community, of life force, of love and loss, in and out.

Last night, in the novel I’m reading, a girl assassin whispers these magic words in the language of her lost homeland and, in doing so, slays an immortal tyrant whose domination has oppressed everyone it touched for centuries:

The life that is shared goes on forever. The life that is hoarded never lives at all.

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The Collective Tarot’s 9 of Bones

I see this in the Collective Tarot’s 9 of Bones too: the strong spine that connects heaven and earth. The fruits which fall between the worlds and which a clever forager collects in baskets and ride off to share with their community. How rootedness and connectedness and circulation are all part of the same phenomenon.

One of the first times these kinds of lessons started to occur to me was in 9th grade biology class, when I first heard the term semi-permeable membrane. I know, I’ve always been a nerd at heart. But the image and the idea collided in me with tremendous power, because deep inside I knew that this was a teaching image for me: there exists a thing whose function is to both protect its innards and allow flow between inner and outer. A boundary which protects but is also porous – which intrinsically knows what to let in and what to keep out, keeping fluid all the while. Like in a cell, or in an egg. I can breathe in and out, but you can’t invade and poison me.

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Ladies and germs: I give you, Science!

I see the walls in the 9 of Pentacles like this. For me, it’s a powerful metaphor for how to stay safe and connected to my heart without retreating, charging, melting down or dissociating. Sometimes those things have to happen, too – and when they do, the image of the safe and secret garden gives gentle guidance back to my abundant self, helps me reground and get ready for the next round.

One last image of this card that I love:

motherpeace9disks
Motherpeace Tarot’s 9 of Disks

Here, I see an image of this lesson after many revolutions and evolutions of practice. A vision of gardens within gardens, wisdom and strength to find one’s place – in any place – and be in dialogue with the many worlds, the endless overlaps of body and mind, spirit and soul, wishes and fears, inner and outer, different parts of ourselves, different languages, different  communities. Out of this wisdom, a system of communication and reflection. A time-tested reliance on boundaries –  knowing that while boundaries are built and are relative, they nonetheless provide the safety and containment to open up and experience and learn and commune.

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Tarot Tuesday: Some of my Favorite Resources

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Today I’d like to share with you some of my favorite other tarot resources in the big wide world.

First, if you’re local to Southern California I heartily recommend you check out Califia Collective’s Introduction to Tarot course: Reading the Cards – this Friday in Long Beach! It’s being taught by the incomporable Alexis of Worts & Cunning and is affordable and promises to be full of learning and playfulness and goodies galore.

ReadingtheTarotCards

The internet is full of people sharing fabulous explorations of tarot. No list could ever be truly complete, but here are a few folks whose work I particularly love and/or whose work has supported my own tarot journey over the years.

Aeclectic Tarot is a huge – I mean HUGE – store of of resources. A lively community of scholars, professionals, aficionados, newbs, and all-around tarot-lovers has co-created a wealth of reviews, readings, experiences, stories, scholarship, advice, games, discussions, and random loveliness. This place really supported by tarot study, especially in the middle years of deepening and exploring and beginning to read professionally. Worth a trip down the bunny hole.

Beth at Little Red Tarot is doing fantastic work, is catalyzing a queer tarot community, just started a tarot learning course that I’m hoping to do together with my niece, is manifesting a queer tarot deck, writes lovely articles for Autostraddle, and is all around awesome. She is also recruiting writers – particularly folks of color and magical queerdos. Send her some love!

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a shining star, and you can find her at brownstargirltarot.wordpress.com – her work bridging tarot with radical healing and social justice is super inspiring. Check out this lovely interview with her too!

Trung Nguyen is an artist working on a gorgeous and inclusive tarot deck – you can read a wonderful interview with him here, or check out some his work on his tumblr here.

Trung-Nguyen-The-Empress-Tarot-Card
Trung Nguyen’s beautiful Empress card. Swoon!

That should keep you busy for a while. Happy exploring! ❤ Let us know who your favorite tarot peeps are!

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

4 Directions Spread: Cosmic Snapshot Part 1

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Happy Tuesday y’all – did you know we welcome submissions to Tarot Tuesday?

A reader wrote in, “I don’t really know how to interpret a directional spread,” but she’s playing with it – and she included a photo of a beautiful full moon spread she did while camping in the Cascadian forests.

4 Direction spreads have been my bread and butter for years – I love their flexibility and use them way more than the other common small spread, PPF or “past, present, future.”

(PS, “Spread” is what us tarot folk call the particular design guiding the cards’ layout after you draw them. It’s like laying out a feast. What a spread!)

Here’s what I love about the 4 Direction spread: It creates a little cosmos, giving you lots of room to explore aspects of relationships. That little cosmos is both circular and linear. Take a look:

Reader-Submitted "4 Directions Spread," using the Marseilles Tarot deck
Reader-Submitted “4 Directions Spread,” using the Marseilles Tarot deck

You see the circle clearly – the wheel created as your attention moves around the perimeter of the spread. It moves in both directions.

The linear is in the axes it sets up – I find myself using the word “axis” a lot when I read cards. These are the axles, the load-bearing places of support between cards: they give strength, seal connection, channel energy, and create oppositional movement.

Taken together, the two form an ancient and deeply archetypal symbol that has as many interpretations as we could throw at it, and then some.

The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.
The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.

Sometimes I’ll put a card in the center: a hub. This spread doesn’t have one. That’s okay. That’s part of the flexibility of this spread, and I often don’t include a central card when I’m just asking for a general picture of things (cosmic snapshot). Or, I’ll do the spread and then pull a card for the center about how to deal with all the lessons the outer cards have presented. To ground me as I move back into the mundane world. Anyway, this spread clearly has some beautiful ritual & magic going on in the center and that will have its own power in this reading for Our Dear Reader.

Some positions have more than one card: that’s cool too. Sometimes you need a little extra for certain positions – you have a question, it sparks another question, or you just don’t know what to do with the first card (the wtf factor). I am a big fan of just drawing another clarification card, even if you’re not sure why yet.

Another thing I love about this spread is that it is deeply orienting. Imagine me, or you, the querent, or the issue in the center – and then the spread encourages us to ground into that center, and then to take a minute to look in each direction, and then to really be with what’s there. Before I start playing with axes, I go around the circle and be with the card/s in each position. It has the effect of making a place, giving some ground from which to consider whatever the issue is, and understanding that issue not as a thing but as an ecosystem.

One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics :)
One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics 🙂

Part of sitting with each direction will include bringing your associations and meanings for each direction to bear on that image. This kind of practice (associations with directions) shows up in a lot of cultures, and we tend to take it for granted (especially in pagan communities) as something that belongs to us, just something we do. One of the places it comes from is Medicine Wheel, which belongs very specifically to various indigenous American tribal traditions. This is not something we can just take wholesale and plop into: East means this, West means this, according to the Great Indian Shaman, case closed. Especially for those of us practicing on this land, I feel very strongly that awareness of this history and our capacity to participate in its legacy of violence via cultural appropriation is a part of right relationship. Many Western pagan traditions do have their own sets of directional correspondence: great – use what works for you. But if you’re copying lists of meanings from (books about) indigenous cultures to whom you do not belong and with whom you have no relationship outside of your consumption of them, this paragraph is especially for you.

And so this is not to say we can’t practice directional spreads, or some form of Medicine Wheel meditation. It is to remember the importance of doing our own work, and to remember that personal spiritual practices are part of the web of collective life and history. To remember that the 4 directions are not lists of meanings but experiences of aspects of the ecosystem we live in.

That said, you probably have a blend of associations and meanings that belong to the different directions for you – a mix of personal experiences, things you’ve read, practices you’ve studied, and sheer intuition. I can’t encourage you enough to start practicing bringing your awareness to the different directions, and thus building your own library of associations to those directions for you. Maybe you regularly encounter a certain animal, or color, or goddess, or feeling when attuning to a direction: these are associations full of potential exploration.

Our dear reader, chillin' in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East <3
Our Dear Reader, chillin’ in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East ❤

Bringing them to bear on a spread might look like: “The East is where the sun rises, a place of light and hope and restoration and newness. I associate it with qualities of Air, and stillness, thoughtful practice, and a refreshed heart. How might the Page of Wands embody those qualities, or what would she have to say about them?” Look how, in the actual spread, she even faces the East, and perhaps the coming dawn. I might close my eyes and connect with the East, visualize a landscape or setting there, and then allow the Page of Wands to wander on stage. What happens next?

Or: “The West is where the sun sets – where the darkness grows, the home of night, the gateway to dreams. I associate it with qualities of Water, especially ocean, because I live on the west coast; also I link it with change, and moving between worlds.” Look at how, in the spread itself, the two queens in the West regard each other; what kind of tone does their interaction have for you? How might this go down in the wild West I described? What kinds of power are at play?

Then, I might think about the axis. This horizontal axis I often associate with time. The West may reflect what is passing away from the present, where the sun is setting, what has come before – while the East reflects what is on the horizon.

It may also reflect different choices or influences: on the one hand, on the other, a kind of weighing. It may speak to fears (the growing darkness of West) and hopes (the rising sun of East). It may talk about where your emotions are at (the Watery West) vs. what your head is doing (the Airy East). Western Moon speaks with Eastern Sun?

You can see how deep a spread like this can go. And we haven’t even really gotten into more magical directional correspondances, or specific meanings of cards outside our immediate reactions to them. We haven’t even touched the cards of the vertical axis, or gone around the wheel. I’m telling you, 4 positions + your central attention is all you need to explore your mini cosmos, to get a snapshot of your psychic ecosystem.

Another "4 Directions" spread, using The Collective Tarot deck - and another way to trace relationships in a reading!
Another “4 Directions” spread, using The Collective Tarot deck – and another way to trace relationships in a reading!

Clearly we could go on (and on) with this one, but that’s about all the time and space we have for today. Next week we will look at the vertical axis, and dig a little deeper into this particular spread. I hope this little intro has sparked some ideas and excitement about using this spread for you though! I know Our Dear Reader who submitted this lovely query would enjoy any of your thoughts, for anyone who wants to jump into the comments and practice interpreting, or share their 4 directions stories. I encourage you to send in other questions, spreads, or ideas for us to play with too!

Be well!

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.