Tarot and my Grammy

Here in the states it was Mother’s Day yesterday, May 12. My Grandmother’s birthday is May 11, and had she lived another 12 months and 3 weeks, she would have been 95 years old this past weekend. Grammy was the matriarch of our family, my mother and her two sisters each had three children of their own, upon Grammy’s passing she had 9 great grandchildren to boot including my sister’s baby in her belly. She was a truly special woman and her loss affected me greatly, I have looked up to her since I was a small girl.

My grandmother inspired me by living alone for many decades in New York City, dancing and taking painting classes well into her retirement. She had a strong relationship with Tarot, before I was born she taught yoga at Integral Institute (her mother was a yoga teacher and student of Transcendental Meditation also). Most of all, Grammy took each of us aside at our tenth birthday parties and showed us how to use iChing for divination and guidance. She had many decks of Tarot cards tucked in baskets and onto the shelves amongst her dozens of books. She was mystical and quiet about it, while simultaneously generous and lavished me with teachings whenever I asked. Which was more and more often as we both aged.

I owe much of who I am today to my Grammy, and I’m beyond grateful for everything she has given me. The practices I’ve learned from her inspired me to continue on this path and shape my own spiritual practice. My practice involves a lot of privacy and it’s always a balancing act for me to discern what I’d like to share with the public and what remains for me and those in relationship to my practice. Reading Tarot is such a wonderful place to share one of my dearest practices with others. I have read Tarot for people in many different walks of life, who are on their own spiritual journeys. Sometimes the only overlap we both share is an interest in the Tarot, other times there are many layers of overlap and there are further practices we might share like yoga or ritual.

Sharing Tarot had been slowly growing as more of my public practice as well as some ritual work, and suddenly in 2018 Grammy became ill, and within six weeks was gone. I had the chance to say goodbye to her, and it was incredibly hard for me. The following months I took space away from sharing publicly because of how much Tarot was tied to my relationship to Grammy. Even as recently as 2 months before she died I was in her apartment comparing dozens of decks with her and learning from her long time relationship with the cards.

This year I decided I was ready to return to sharing Tarot, it brings me so much joy and it delighted my grandmother to know I was sharing this work with the world. I started a monthly article for Wanderlust Journal, I’ve loved writing for them for a long time and it’s been wonderful to collaborate with the amazing team on these posts.

You can see them here :: January, February, March, April, May.

I offer readings via phone call or FaceTime video (your preference) and I’ve got some great workshops coming up for you soon on Tarot. Contact me to discuss one on one readings, group workshops or mentoring sessions.

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May Tarot for Yogis (originally published in Wanderlust Journal

May in the Northern Hemisphere is a beautiful month of flowers and sunshine. It’s a great time of year to get outside appreciate Mother Earth—particularly as spring is a season for growth and evolution. It’s also an apropos time to ask from the abundance of the Earth, and in the modern era more than ever it’s important to remember to give back to the Earth with conscious, green actions. Growth is an exchange after all: Exchanging energy is easier during the spring and fall; both transitional times of year when it’s easier to connect with other humans. This means it can be a harder time to stay connected to yourself with all of the excitement and transformation and social time, so this month we are focusing on keeping the ground under you. I asked the deck, “How can we stay grounded while growing this month?

This month I am using a non-tarot guidance deck. This is the Practice You Daily Awakening Deck created by someone very dear to me, Elena Brower. I have been connected to her for many years as a student. Elena has been a guide to me in my own life many times; her deck brings a lot of great feels for me. It’s simple to use with clear messages on exquisitely designed cards much in the style of her journal, Practice You. I personally do not use many decks that are not in the traditional 78 card Tarot style, but this deck really speaks to me because of my connection to Elena, as well as the gorgeous simplicity and quality of these cards.

Three card spreads are so versatile—I use them often and have another three card spread this month. Decks are often printed with suggestions for spreads and meanings for the placements of the spread. Elena offers suggestions as well, but I chose to create my own purpose for each placement. In this instance; the first card represents the immediate path, the second card is the advice/obstacle, and the third card is the ultimate fruition or an expansion of the path.

May tarot spread using pracitce You deck

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Crisci

The present moment on the path: Gift
Advice: Blessings
The path expanded: Breathe

Working with a guidance deck is a lot like working with Tarot, and also has some key differences. Traditional Tarot cards are steeped in rich symbolism offering a whole world within itself for interpretation. It’s true that some modern decks can be put together with far less intention, and this variety of thoughtfulness shows up in other kinds of inspirational and guidance cards as well. In the end, if it speaks to you, it will work for a reading as the energy that a card conjures for you is essentially what you are working with for interpretation.

The Present Moment

These cards speak for themselves, and offer questions and thoughtful ways to guide your own further inquiry. In the first position, this present moment, the path is standing tall. This card offers the color purple, a feather, simple instructions for cultivating presence, and an invitation to remember that life is a gift. Purple as well as the symbolism of the feather are related to the Third Eye chakra: Lightness, intuition, wisdom. The message of the card is to stay present and grounded, yet there is a deeper invitation to bring your higher Self here to this moment. Being grounded doesn’t mean slouching in place, it is Tadasana practice, it’s bringing your head and your heart and your feet together in one moment. The negative self speak that disguises itself as “realism” isn’t grounded; that’s your small voice. Your big voice sees the gift in every moment and stands tall even in the challenges.

Advice

The second card continues this message in blue, the color of communication. “These are the BLESSINGS that are touching me today.” Your advice is to keep counting all of the blessings around you. What are your thought loops communicating to you? What world are you creating in your mind? Meditate and use your practice to work with your mind so that you can have choice in your vision. Everyone suffers a negative outlook sometimes, when you realize you are stuck seeing the world in a harmful way this is the moment that you have the chance to make a change. Keep looking towards the beauty, the helpers, the things that make you feel good; even in the most difficult moments we all have something to be grateful for and gratitude is a transformative emotion. Gratitude is a choice that changes you for the better.

Path Expanded

The path expands like practice. “Place hands on heart. BREATHE. Feel grounded and safe. This is how I quiet my body. This is how I steady my system.” Red, the root chakra, sends you back to the ground and to yourself. In the end, the practice is simple, and also life long. You are grounded when you are the master of your mind and yourself. Sit, breathe, repeat; forever. This space offers you the opportunity to see yourself more clearly, every time. To redirect and soothe yourself, cultivate contentment and understanding from the wealth of wisdom that you already possess. To access it you simply must quiet your mind and steer yourself towards wisdom and knowing rather than the constant chatter of the fear based ego. You are the ground and you are the path. This leads you to the understanding of this as a lifelong practice.

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April Tarot for Yogis (originally published on Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

Spring has almost sprung! It’s getting easier to believe that the cold is actually over, and it’s time to clean house. In the astrological calendar, spring marks the beginning of the year. This season is associated with transformation, renewal, resurrection, and rebirth. These themes predate modern religion and related holidays; it is the Earth that was the first to offer this theme. Throughout human history, we’ve been continually revived by those first crocuses and green buds appearing on trees. This powerful time of transformation offers you an opportunity for serious growth in the direction of your choosing. As such, I asked the Tarot this month where should we look for support.

In honor of spring I chose the gorgeous Ostara Tarot deck created by artists Molly Applejohn, Eden Cooke, Krista Gibbard, and Julia Iredale. This deck was designed to honor spring and the goddess Ostara, the Germanic goddess of the season. Ostara is associated with Neopaganism, though she was likely historically worshipped before then as well. Much evidence of pre-historical goddesses has been destroyed by conquering kingdoms throughout the centuries.

I purchased this deck recently; I tend to charge a new deck before I use it for readings. For me, this means spending time meditating with the deck, shuffling, looking at the cards, and reading whatever materials are provided. It’s an opportunity to “break in” your new tool and form a two-way connection.

This month I used a top-down pyramid spread with the first card representing our advice. The bottom left card symbolizes the unseen, unconscious energy present. The bottom right card is the conscious manifestation, where we feel the most supported. Creating a spread is an opportunity to be very specific with the Tarot and receive a clearer reading. For me, this really only works if I have assigned my intended meanings to the card placements before I pull the cards. My experience is that deciphering the meaning after the fact can lead to more “negotiating” with yourself over what you want the reading to say… Which can make it too easy to overlook the advice presented.

Subconscious manifestation: Strength reversed
Conscious manifestation: The Star reversed
Ultimate advice? The Five of Coins

The Ostara Tarot is a good example of a deck that is based on the Rider Waite but has taken many liberties. The artwork for each card does have rich and intentional symbolism, and for this reason the meanings of each card can deviate from the traditional meanings in some ways. My Grandmother insisted that you should use the meanings provided with each deck. I only partially agree, but in the case of this reading that’s what I’m doing.


Subconscious Manifestation

The Strength card here is reversed. Rather than a classical lion, we see a young woman with cities on her shoulders, night on the left, and day on the right. She is holding a glowing heart gently in one hand and stroking the head of a dragon in the other. Her expression is serene and she is wearing an eye patch. This wise woman has been through war and found her calm. She represents a balance of Yin, the Moon, night, feminity and Yang, the Sun, masculinity, daylight. Seeing this card reversed tells a different story.

This is a warning and a question. When the world turns upside down do you keep your calm? Your own self-confidence is what supports your subconscious mind. Without it, your emotional self feels unsafe and you become weak. This is Tadasana practice. Forget any of the fancy tricks, learn how to stand on your own two feet. For the wise this is a lifelong practice. Without it the foundation of every other pose is cracked.

Conscious Manifestation

The Star is also reversed—in this case representing boredom and the dulling of the creative mind. It is a suggestion to step outside of the mundane and monotonous routines you may have built. A cozy routine helps you survive the winter, but it is time to give yourself a little push in a new direction. Change doesn’t have to be dramatic; try a yoga teacher who is new to you, explore a new style of yoga or movement, make time for a long walk through a not-often visited area of your neighborhood. This card is also a reminder that creativity is supported by the mundane. If you want to be good at drawing, draw. Commitment is more powerful than inspiration. Keep steady through boring times, and you will find inspiration again. Balancing postures will help you remember what’s important by creating harmony and focus in your mind.

Ultimate Advice

The Five of Coins offers final advice, a naked woman wrapped in a thin cloth and a serpent. A frosty winter scene, this card also shows a glowing pink window with five illuminated coins. This woman has come to refuge, the Five of Coins suggests that support in a time of need will come from your community. The woman can also be seen as one who has refused the help of others and now suffers due to her own pride.

Support from others can look like many things. If you see yourself as weak for accepting help you will only find yourself weaker. It is the generosity and support of those around you that makes you strong. Meditation will clear your mind to give you insight on who, what and when to reach out to others. Life is a balance, remember that you are needed as much as you need and be generous with your own help this month. We are all strongest together.

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March Tarot for Yogis (originally published on Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

Winter is the time for deep internal transformation. It’s a powerful time when you are asked to look inward and strengthen your emotional and mental self. While it is a great time for a fiery and sweaty physical practice, it serves to remember that the aim of intense physical practice is to bring aid you in settling down for meditation and introspection (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana).

Whatever you hold in your heart through the winter will become your bounty in the seasons to follow, so be a snake and shed your skin this month. March is quite powerful as it’s the last bit of winter and the beginning of sweet spring. As such, I asked the deck this month: “What is holding us back from transformation? What is the way forward?”

Our deck this month is the Claude Burdel, 1751, a variation of the Tarot de Marseilles. While the Rider-Waite-Smith deck is considered classical at this point, and it’s certainly widely used and recognized as the Tarot deck, the Tarot de Marseilles predates it by over 150 years. While the game of tarot originated in the fourth century, the Tarot de Marseilles is the first deck released for the purpose of divination in 1709. A few decades later, master card maker Claude Burdel released this version in Frigourg, Switzerland. The particular deck I have is a limited edition run of the Claude Burdel, 1751 Tarot released in 2015.

This month I used a different spread, one I improvised for this reading but exists in many variations among readers. It’s a basic inverted triangle with the first card representing the main answer to your reading. Subsequent cards give further information. I drew one card to represent what holds us back, and then two sets of cards to represent possible outcomes, one where we successfully transform/shed this energy and one where we do not.

What holds you back? The High Priestess reversed
Outcome of transformation: The Ace of Cups and the Page of Coins
Outcome of holding on: The Ace of Wands and the Lovers reversed

Looking Back

This is really a great reading to contemplate this month, and it could not be more indicative of personal power. In the first position “La Papesse,” the High Priestess, is reversed. The High Priestess represents several aspects of femininity as classically defined in Yoga, think Yin. She is passive, deep, and turned inward. The High Priestess moves from intuition and a steady connection to Self. Reversed as it is here, the card represents a loss of the self. A disconnect, often through the opposite of introspection. This is a clear warning that external seeking is a mistake right now.

The reversed High Priestess is far too concerned what others think. She wants approval from people around her and is never satisfied, even when she receives it. There’s a fire to her searching as well, a restlessness. While the winter time is a great time for heat building practices like Vinyasa, this month Restorative and Yin Yoga styles will empower you. It’s a great time to try a sound journey or group meditation class.

Outcome of Going Forward

Two outcomes lie before you: One in which you nourish and support yourself and prepare to blossom in the spring; and one where your fire burns out your passions and partnerships. (Gulp!) On the right we find the Ace of Cups and the Page of Coins and on the left the Ace of Wands and the Lovers reversed. Interesting to note that the Ace of Cups and the Ace of Wands are in opposite positions in this reading and these two cards are also in many ways opposite from each other. The Ace of Cups is the power of femininity and water while the Ace of Wands is masculine and fire. It’s remarkable to see them in this reading, representing your motus operandi in these two different scenarios.

The Ace of Cups appears with the Page of Coins, a sturdy backbone, hard worker and a somewhat mystical being who is enthralled in his work. The Page of Coins is glad of the work itself and his commitment carries him through the difficult or mundane, just as how the effort of your practice is meant to be with you moment to moment. Use joyful effort to greet both familiar and unfamiliar obstacles in your yoga practice. The Page cards are sometimes represented as Princesses in other decks and in contrast with the Knight, the Page is a softer side of the suit represented. In this case the Coins suit represents Earth element, abundance and financial gain as well as success and in the case of this card, a kind of satisfaction. This outcome is saying that turning inward and using a soft, heart centered approach will help you bloom abundantly this spring.

Outcome of Dwelling

On the other hand, the Ace of Wands is coupled with the Lovers, reversed. There is a continued trend here of seeing cards from the previous month’s reading (despite different decks each month), so the Lovers is a repeat from February. You may remember that the Lovers is a card that also represents commitment, typically of a romantic nature and it can also include any type of partnership or object of devotion. To see it reversed indicates an imbalance, relationships gone awry, coupled with the Ace of Wands the source of the trouble right now is forceful will, too much fire, too much passion, a heat that burns out and burns things up.

Have you ever had the experience of practicing Sun Salutations while you are really angry? I have experienced myself become more and more agitated as I continue these repetitive heat building postures. I remember speeding up more and more, my breath louder and louder, if I had walked out of the room at that moment I may have snapped someone’s head off for getting in my way. This is one of the ways that introspection in your practice can be a cathartic experience. I did not walk off of my mat in anger, I continued through Warriors, balances, long seated postures, a supported Savasana. I released my anger that day and found sweet rest by surrendering and accessing the High Priestess within me.

Your ability to be with yourself is powerful, use these next few weeks to enjoy introspection and spend the best quality time with yourself. Yes, it will be the best thing for the valuable relationships in your life, and more importantly, it will be the best thing for you.

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February Tarot for Yogis (originally posted to Wanderlust Journal)

this post originally appeared on Wanderlust Journal here.

There has always been something mystical about the month of February. The only month with 28 days and the one in which we dedicate a holiday to love, it is the last full month of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. This February, for our monthly Tarot for Yogis forecast, I asked for advice for how to keep going if the winter slog hits during this otherwise magical month.

This month’s deck is the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, also called the Rider deck. Rider is the original publisher of this deck, and esteemed occultist Arthur Edward Waite directed the illustrations. Interesting to note here is the backstory of unsung illustrator Pamela Colman Smith, a woman of color with Jamaican ancestry who was born into an aristocratic New York family. The deck originally appeared in 1910. Today it is the ubiquitous Tarot familiar to people with even only a burgeoning interest in the subject. You will find it called many combinations of Rider-Waite-Smith, and you can also find many more modern artistic decks inspired by this old faithful. (Like the Fenestra Tarot I used last month).

To me, this is actually a newer deck. While I was thrilled to learn Tarot from my Grammy, Aunties, and Mother over the years, my secret rebellion was to choose my own deck that none of them used. (Though I wanted nothing to do with the ever popular Rider-Waite deck until after adolescence, I now hold a great appreciation for the rich symbolism of this deck and the ones it has inspired.

This three card spread is the same as last month. The first card symbolizes what lies behind us, the middle card is our current place and time, and the third card represents advice for what lies ahead. Remember, a three card spread can be used for nearly any reading you’d like as long as you are clear about the representation of each place before you pull your cards. Meditate on the specific place as you draw each card. For example, as I pulled the Lovers card (which I pulled first), I thought “Where are we now?”

What’s behind you? The Six of Pentacles
Where are you now? The Lovers
What’s before you? The Star

Looking Back

The Six of Pentacles is in the past position and I’m not surprised the Tarot is being playful. This card was in the future position of our January reading—there’s obvious symbolism here beyond the meaning of the card. What once was the future is now the past, the Wheel of Life is always turning and taking action is important because today’s future is tomorrow’s past. Learn your lessons and move on, yogis!

If you remember, the Six of Pentacles is a complex card which represents generosity and charity (service, seva), and also the relationship between those who have and those who have not. The classical depiction of this card seen here makes it clear that there is a great difference between the man giving out the coins and the ones who ask for it. It’s hard not to see political and economic implications in this card. In this reading, however, the card seems to take on additional significance. Looking at the card from a spiritual sense and referencing our January reading, the man holding the coins is a judge. His scale represents discernment and balance itself. He can also represent Abundance personified, and sharing with the one who knows how to ask and receive.

What is your relationship with abundance? Do you pursue opportunities that will help you achieve your goals? What I see in this reading is a backbone, a past supporting you with a foundation of receptivity. Ask for what you need and what you want, bring your intentions to the mat. Find discipline, devote yourself to rituals that serve your greater purpose, and increase your receptivity like yoga, herbal tea, bubble baths, and meditation. This could be a good time to meditate with mantra that represents your desire or intention. These practices support you on your way forward.

The Here and Now

The Lovers take center stage this month (an appropriate nod to Valentine’s Day). Yet this card is not only about love and romance. The Lovers represent balance of opposites, commitment, relationships of all natures, co-operation and growing together. In today’s world the Lovers might well represent the partner your launching a start-up with as much as your romantic interest. Where are you committed right now? What are you building in your life, and with whom? These questions are important as we begin the month to let you know where your work needs to be done.

Balance means that you’re not only focused on what you want and need out of these partnerships. Are your partner’s needs met? Do they feel heard? Being receptive is a real theme right now. Important to consider, given the rich symbolism of this card: While both members of this couple are standing in front of a tree, the one behind the man is burning and barren while the one behind the woman bears fruit (and a serpent, another rich symbol which can point to abundance and transformation).

Just as in yoga, masculine energy is associated with the sun, with rational over emotion, and the element of fire. This card represents a time when being passive and, yes, receptive, is the more abundant path. Focus on how you practice Savasana, practice soaking in the experience. It’s not about fixing the pose and making it perfect, just absorbing the place and time you’re in. This could be a great month to take some Restorative yoga classes.

Facing Forward

Finally, a wonderful future outlook. The Star depicts a peaceful scene, an unencumbered figure who is not collecting water to conserve, but is actually playing in the water. There is no need to conserve, there’s trust in abundance. You’ll notice that both of the figures in the foreground of the Lovers as well as the figure in the Star are all naked. This represents innocence and also a freedom. The Star is someone who has been through difficulty, felt loss and struggle, and has found their peace.

This month, the path to this freedom and inner peace is truly through listening before acting. Practice Ujjayi breathing to balance your throat chakra and cultivate ease in communication. Be reflective in your practice, be in partnership with yourself as well as others and be less forceful with your own will this month. Your best opportunities may arise through others. This is the month to enjoy your community, your kula, your tribe. Receive the gifts they have to offer, and celebrate the cultivation of your own abundance.

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