The Rowdy Goddess

An Ecstatic Vision of the Goddess, dancing in harmony with the Universe.

Archive for the category “Tarot”

Majors Monday: The Fool in Springtime

I have been back from the Readers Studio 2011 for a week and I’m still absorbing all the wonderful things I learned and the experiences I’ve had hanging out with the Tarot Tribe. From that journey into the lands of Tarot delights and visions, I have resolved to focus my attention and be active in my Tarot journey. Towards that focus, I’m combining my Dark Moon Tarot blog with my Rowdy Goddess blog. After all, isn’t Tarot the essence of rowdiness?
One of the speakers, Caitlin Matthews, talked about Tarot readers, energy workers and others in the fields of esoterica as inhabiting the fringes and edges of society. It’s at these borders where the the boundaries are pushed, questions are asked, and critique occurs. It is where we go when we feel like an outlander in our own homes or mainstream society.
It is into these borderlands that the Fool travels, seeking whatever it is he is seeking, far away from the domesticated lands of civilization. It is often said that the Fool is seeking a fresh perspective, or is he looking for a wild world where questions are asked and the standard answers no longer apply? He finds that the questions are alive and evolving in that wilderness. This is where civilization has unraveled to reveal a more raggedy edge. It is an opportunity to look at life with fresh eyes and decide if reweaving is what is sought or if something else needs to happen.
Barbara Moore taught us to look at each card with a fresh eye, to see the questions in the cards and then to see the patterning of questions as tarot spreads; spreads that will help us understand patterns. As the images and the questions dance together, a pattern emerges as a spread. Barbara also encouraged us to place the cards asymmetrically, to offset some cards and to place the cards at angles to each other. The very act of asymmetry compels us to view patterns through different lenses. Sometimes our lives become so circumscribed or hemmed in by our answers, we don’t see there are new ways to pose the questions, or even that there are other questions to be asked. Sometimes new questions emerge as we place things in different relationships to one another. The same is true for readers, spreads, questions, and querents.
As a Tarot reader, librarian and spiritual seeker, I have learned that living the question is the prize. Just as the power of the journey is in the journey itself (thank you to Ursula K. LeGuin’s masterpiece The Left Hand of Darkness) so is the question itself the journey.
The Fool in Springtime Spread
As I look at the Rider-Waite-Smith image, my attention is attracted to the pack. What is in there and what needs to be unpacked? Is it too heavy? Then I turn my attention to the pole. Is it strong enough? Does it hurt the Fool? Does it help or hinder? And of course the dog. I always notice dogs! Is the dog herding him, following him or is the dog a boon companion? Then the cliff and then the rose bring more questions. Five images turn into five positions in the spread.
Five is a good number for a reading because it shows the chaos of change and of questioning the status quo. Fives don’t often provide “the final answer” but can provide some additional guidance or, at the very least, more information. The spread is simple, deceptively so, since the questions beget more questions. The cards can provide more insight.
Some of my students like guides for when to use certain spreads. This one is good for people seeking more information at the start of a new journey, project, or if they are thinking they need a change. And it’s good for people in the midst of chaos to help them find a focus.
The Fool In Springtime Spread, May 2011

Card One: The Pack
What do I have packed for my journey?
Card Two: The Pole
What enables me to carry my burdens/gifts?
Card Three: The Cliff
What threshold am I approaching?
Card Four: The Dog
What aids me or is nipping at my heels?
Card Five: The Rose
What beauty is unfolding for me?


This thread is brand new and I have read much with it. I’d be very interested in your feedback and experiences.

May your journey to the outer edges be filled with questions, magic, beauty and delight!

Friendships, Transitions, and the Death Card

I’ve been thinking about transitions and friendships lately. On three occasions, recently, a name or a picture of someone who was a good friend in the past has popped into my life. I was recalling with some fondness and nostalgia my memories of this person, this person, and that person as their name or picture popped up.

I remembered, though without any force, the pain I had experienced when they left my life. The transition and change was rugged, sorrowful, and full of anger in some of these cases. In one case, I had changed in way unacceptable to my then friend and so the relationship was ended. In another case, the person had to make a transition of her own and did not carry our friendship forward into this new life of hers, and the other was a misunderstanding that on the surface was minor but was really an indicator of a dying friendship. In a couple of cases, there was a modicum of betrayal or desertion felt by me and in another, an acceptance of what was to be.
It made me think of the Death card. In this 21st century, we read the death card as transformation and change rather than the death of the body, though when I read it that way, I hear Rachel Pollack’s voice say that sometimes death is about death. In these three cases, it is about death. At one point, I had become a different person and the person that was a good friend to my friend, died in her eyes. She couldn’t accept my transition. In another case, my friend was changing and she couldn’t envision her life with our friendship viable within it. And in the other, the period of denial and bargaining was over and the death of a friendship was accepted.
None of these were easy. Inevitably, transformation means that something will not make it through to the new life or vision. Transformation means that what was before no longer exists. Sometimes it means death. So I look back at the past and even the recent past to think I’m content with who I am. In some cases I do miss what was and in others I do not. The pain and anger is gone and the sweet memories remain.
And is that not the lesson of Death in all its manifestations?

Come as You Aren’t

Part of what I teach is “how to lie at Tarot,” and someday I’m going to put it together as a workshop. Sometimes in teaching and in reading tarot, you need to adopt a persona so you can make your point. I did that several years ago and, voila, Madame Zelda was born.
I was teaching beginning Tarot with a friend and we wanted to do a session on how not to read Tarot. “We should role-play it,” I said. She agreed as long as I would take the lead. I chose to be the reader. I chose the cards for the reading, choosing some of the most challenging cards in the deck. You know the ones: nine of swords, ten of swords and the like. I chose some provocative ones like the Devil and the Lovers, too.

By that time in my tarot life, I had developed my authentic reader self to be compassionate, listening, intuitive and collaborative. I had to figure out a way to move out of that mindset. So I gave myself pep talks about what a “not reading” would feel and look like.
So we sat down to do our role play. I opened my mouth and a deep, faux-mid-European accent emerged. I asked for money upfront, bargaining and quibbling about the amount. I introduced myself as Madame Zelda who proceeded to deliver this reading. Madame Zelda always refers to herself as “Madame Zelda” and is supremely confident and complimentary of her own wisdom, power, and pyschic ability. That day, Madame Zelda actually gave a good reading in terms of the cards and delivering a message. However, she took center stage and the querent was over-run with information delivered with majestic condescension. I’m sure one of her antecedents is Lady Catherine from Pride and Prejudice.
Over the years, I have become very fond of Madame Zelda and so have many of my friends. She is flamboyant, gaudy, arrogant, honest to the point of rudeness, and very, very funny. I do know that when I sit down to read for people for real, Madame Zelda must fall away. She complains about that at all. It’s hard, she says, to get her message out when she has to go through all that caring and listening.
A few years ago, a friend mentioned that she took Mary Greer and Rachel Pollack’s workshop at the Omega Center in Rhinebeck, NY. These two wonderful, knowledgeable teachers had asked people to adopt another persona as a Reader. To think about costume, character, accent and such. What a genius I am. Just kidding.
Madame Zelda has taught me a lot. She helps me shake up my “business as usual” reading style. She is astute when it comes to the business side and the less than pleasant side of life. Everyone I read for knows I like to put a “pretty face” on things while Madame Zelda reminds me that sometimes you need to tell the hard truths.
Speaking of pretty faces, I think Madame Zelda really looks like this.

Get Your Tarot Gear On!

Creating My Own Tarot Accessories

Finding practical and comfortable ways to carry around your tarot decks and associated accoutrements can be a challenge. Books, journals, notebooks, handouts seem to be an important part of the experience of Tarot, especially if you are taking a class, going to a conference, or teaching a class. Readers, too, need to have a way to carry it hither, thither, and yon, as my mother says.

I also want to avoid looking like a bag lady whenever I can since I seem to have leanings in that direction  so I want to complement my style. My style seems to be comfortable and funky. I have some exacting standards about purses and bags. So I decided to make a bag to take my tarot cards and journals about.
I found a nice bag pattern from Lazy Girl Designs, the Towne Bag. I bought some funky home dec fabric on ebay. This is very Peter Max 1970s heavy fabric. It was fun to work with. I think I’ll do a reading with the Tarot cards on there at some point, they are interesting choices.

I had some fabric leftover, so I covered an old binder (reduce, reuse, recycle) with the fabric to hold my handouts from the Tarot School’s Readers Studio. I think it all turned out really very well. My next project is to find the right notebook/journal for taking notes and cover it with fabric, too.
So I’m geared up to learn and teach Tarot!!!

Dogs Rule

Last Wednesday, I wrote about dogs, after the Westminster dog show. So in the spirit of “assorted whimsy,” we’re for dogs over here in this corner of the Tarot world, too.

I recall a conversation on a listserv long ago about what questions our pets would ask if they could ask us to read Tarot for them. I think for my two dogs, Congo and Bob, it would be “when are we going to eat,” “will you let me outside,” and “can I go for a ride in the car.” Followed by “can I have a biscuit with that.
Nevertheless, as the dog in the Fool card reminds us, they are our companions, the ones that get us out in the world to walk, play and run. I’ve written a lot about dogs because one of the things they have taught me is to love the moment because “every day is a great day to be a dog.
This picture is from a Majors only deck called “i Cani.” It’s been called an imperfect Tarot. It’s tiny, a curiosity and nt without humor. After what is perfection but the ability to be fully present in our process of Be-coming. Or, as I just said, to experience that every day is a great day to be.


A Kiss for Valentine’s Day


There are many legends associated with the origins and customs of St. Valentine’s Day, with little known about the true historical fact. Whatever the origins, this holiday is a lot of fun, full of hearts, cherubs, kisses, cuddles, chocolates and red-hot cinnamon hearts.

Some sources say that February 14th was the festival of Juno, the Roman Goddess of women and marriage. This festival was followed by Lupercalia, a very well-documented holiday of the Roman God of agriculture Faunus. At the beginning of the festival, an order of priests called the Luperci gathered at the cave where the she-wolf raised Romulous and Remus, the founders of Rome. They called the boys and young men of Rome to join them as they sacrificed a goat for fertility and a god for purification. The boys would slice the goat hide into strips and dip them into blood. They went into the streets where they slapped Roman women and crops with these strips of hide to ensure fertility and easy childbirth for the women as well as good crops.

Later that same day, the young women of Rome would place their names in an urn; and the city’s unmarried men would draw a name. The men and women would be paired together for a year; a custom that often ended in marriage.

Pope Gelasius declared that February 14th was St. Valentine’s Day in 498 B.C.E. and it is popularly believed that he did this to end the lottery associated with Lupercalia, deeming it an unchristian practice. St. Valentine’s Day did not become connected with romantic love until the medieval era, and it is not clear which St. Valentine the holiday is named for.

The most popular legend is of a priest living near Rome in 270 B.C.E. The Roman Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage because he believed that unmarried men made the best soldiers. In an empire beset by internal strife and attacks from many different sources, Rome needed many able soldiers. This priest named Valentine took pity on lovers and would administer the sacrament of marriage in secret. Claudius had him arrested. The emperor when meeting Valentine was so charmed by this earnest priest, that he attempted to convert him to the Roman gods so that Valentine could avoid execution. Valentine remained true to his Christian God and was executed to become a martyr and a saint.

While he was awaiting execution, his jailer, Asterius, requested that Valentine heal his blind daughter; and through the miracle of his steadfast faith, Valentine was able to restore her sight. Just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper and wrote a message to her, signing it “From Your Valentine,” a phrase now associated with this holiday of love and messages.

In medieval times, St. Valentine’s Day became associates with romantic love in France and England; it was believed that February 14th was the day that birds paired and mated. This is mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules. It was common in those days for sweethearts to exchange messages on this day and to refer to each other as their “Valentines.”

As with many customs, the St. Valentine’s Day customs followed the Europeans as they settled the New World. The first mass-produced valentines were sold by Esther A. Howland (1828-1904) and were embossed paper lace. Her father owned a large book and stationary store in Worchester Massachusetts and she was inspired by a valentine she received from England. She became known as the Mother of the Valentine, and was known for her elaborate creations of lace, ribbons and pictures.

In the 21st century, this holiday has grown, and so have the customs associated with it. One billion cards per year are mailed on Valentine’s Day. Love and affection in all its manifestations are celebrated on this day. Passion, affection, steadfast love, crushes, lust, friendship, sex and family are all expressed with tokens of love.

Students who want to be there…the joys and the terror!!

So, as Tarot Teachers, we have students who want to be there in our class. How cool is that! There’s an adult learning theory model that says we need to be as aware of their learning needs and make our classroom compatable with their needs and desires.

Adults look at what as taught as an Experience which they take in and Reflect on it through the lens of past learning experiences and the style in which they learn. Then they process the subject and Connect it to their life experience, their thoughts, philosophies which tend to be more fully formed than when teaching children and young adults. When they make this connection [or not], they Decide the relevance of the topic.

Through their life’s journey, adult students are less likely to accept information at face value and more likely to think critically about it. Not all, but many!

  • They will ask questions
  • They will evaluate your statements and make counter-arguments
  • They will be able to admit that they don’t know something and ask for clarification.
  • Adult students are interested, willing to examine beliefs and underlying assumptions.
  • They will listen and give feedback–there lies terror and joy!
  • They look for evidence, will check your facts
  • They will adjust their opinion
  • They will examine and reject information if they find it is incorrect or irrelevant

The joy of this process is that you don’t have to convince the Tarot student that they need to learn the topic. They want to be there and they are most likely ready to learn. You don’t really have to convince them the topic is important or interesting.

The terror is that in their reflection on the material, if they don’t find it relevant and don’t make a connection to it, they won’t continue to learn it. I think that includes the idea that “this stuff is too hard to learn.” They are more likely to know that life is short and there’s much to learn. They will vote with their feet.
So we start with an advantage and we end up on the precipice. Like the fool, we step off the cliff into a grand adventure. Perhaps we will fly or perhaps we will land with a thud. I take reassurance in the fact that Wil E. Coyote always comes back for more. His relationship with the roadrunner is always on, always active, and always full of energy.

Teaching Tarot and the New Student…some initial thoughts

I work at a college in the library and I’m part of many college-wide discussions about how to reach our students so that they learn. And much greater than that, they are excited and engaged in the learning process; further that students become passionate about the subject and it becomes a life-long pursuit or interest. It’s what makes us interesting human beings. And then when we reach out to one another, mind to mind, to share our passions, we are become community. Teachers and students alike become community. Passionate, knowledgeable, reflective, thoughtful, and engaged. We argue, we teach, we laugh, we learn, and we play as we learn.

Students who are there because the class is required, are not in this community yet. It takes some doing to get them to that place of passion and delight. For some, there will be topics that never excite them. For others, it will ignite them and the fire will burn for a lifetime.

Most students of Tarot come because they are interested: some are passionately drawn to the cards, perhaps for a long time; some because they are curious; and some because it’s something daring and even dangerous. For teachers of Tarot, we often get a “leg up,” or an extra boost because we don’t have to lure, seduce, and convince a reluctant learner to become engaged in our passionate discoveries.

At the same time, we can’t assume that everyone is going to become instantly attuned to the cards. It is an intimdating subject to study and learn. Seventy-eight cards with upright meanings, reversals, dignities, correspondences, images, and more. Centuries of writings, opinions, rumors, theories, and arguments can cause a student to run screaming to some other, more apparently simple divinitory system.

Then there’s the whoo whoo factor, both good and bad. The Devil’s Picture Book, a Wicked Pack of Cards are really something to fear by some folks and some of our students may have grown up with that idea. It is something to overcome. Then there’s the other side of the whoo whoo factor. People who come to the Tarot because they are following a spirituality that not only accepts but assumes that their practitioners will use some sort of divination. I’ll admit I was on both sides of this coin, having been in a fundamentalist cult and then following an earth-based religion. As teachers, we may have to temper one or other of those expectations.

On the other hand, we have a much greater change to lure our students into love of the Tarot because they are in the class voluntarily. All we have to do is seduce them gracefully and with the knowledge that a wicked deck of cards brings a lifetime of wisdom, passion, devotion, strength, and learning.

Manifesting Pendulums!

For the past few years, I’ve been manifesting pendulums. Not on purpose, they just come to me. For a couple of years, that was the gift I got for presenting at Pagan Pride Days. It was pretty cool, and some of them were just gorgeous. But I was perplexed because I wasn’t particularly drawn to them. I kept joking that it was a sign from the Goddess to learn about pendulums. I bought a couple of books, but didn’t bother to read them.

When Mouse and I started vending, one of the vendors sent me a beautiful one. It really called to me. You can see a picture of it here. One of my friends is a great pendulum dowser and I watched her use it. It’s very simple and such a tool for manifestation, concentration, and intention. Another witch in my coven taught us a chakra clearing method using pendulums. And I was set. I had a pendulum in my purse, by my chair and by my computer. I have been using a pendulum to heal some joint pain/arthritis in my right hand. It’s working.
Then I started losing pendlums. I discarded one of my purses, actually threw it away, and forgot to empty the zippered pocket. Along with a set of business cards, one of the cool pendulums got thrown away. I felt really bad, almost as if I had abandoned a friend. I said good bye in ritual and in dreams.
A few weeks ago, as I was packing to go to the Readers’ Studio, I discovered that I had lost my spiral pendulum. I decided not to panic and tear the house apart looking for it [that was hard], and just packed my bags.
The Readers’ Studio rocked and then rocked some more. Tarot is my divination of choice! One of the vendors, Mists of Atlantis had some wonderful pendulums. Two were made of citrine. I love citrine. This lovely yellow crystal continues to call to me through the years (that’s another story for later). So I carefully tried them both. I finally chose one and for the first time, manifested a pendulum by purchasing it. I think it’s special having come from the Readers’ Studio amidst all that divination magic; and Garnet, the proprietess of the Mists of Atlantis is a very magical person.
So I take my wonderful new pendulum back to my spot in the Studio classroom, open the bag my deck is in, and there is my spiral pendulum. Is that crazy or what. I must have stored away my pendlum when the cable guy came to install the new modem. Or maybe it just wanted to be near the Tarot.
And then as we were taking a break at the Readers’ Studio, the stress reliever gift they distributed were — you guessed it — pendulums. So now I have a sweet rose quartz pendulum. I think there’s more to learn here and I’m excited to move into that space.
Blessed Be your manifestations!



Two of Swords

I’m just back from the Tarot School’s Readers’ Studio. What a fabulous wonderful time. I learned so much (more on that later) and met so many wild, funny, and fabulous people. The accomodations were great and things were just wonderful.

The Two of Swords came up a lot in my readings which surprised me a lot. I don’t get that card very often. Over the past few years as I teach Tarot more, I am stuck by the quality of stillness in the Two of Swords. The figure in the card has to stay so still to maintain that balance. And everything else around her is also so very still. It’s like the whole Universe is holding its breath as this woman maintains the balance of the two swords.
Traditional meanings include blocked feelings, closed off, being defensive, waiting for something, and keeping things at a distance. I think one of the reasons I got the card is that I’m wrestling a lot with competing priorities. Lots of good things are happening and there are lots of choices to make. One thing about myself, is that when there are lots of choices to be made, I shut down and refuse to make the choice. Then sometimes happen by default (not always a good idea) or I just go with what is flowing the strongest at the time (sometimes good, sometimes bad).
This is something I need to reflect on a little more. I came away from the Readers’ Studio inspired to go back to my writing. Where to find the time? I don’t want it to take away from the other cool things I do, either.
More to come….
May all your choices be happy ones today!!!

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