The Rowdy Goddess

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

Tchotchke Oracle: Rocking the Magic of Everyday Things

contents of tchotchke oracle

Tchotchke Oracle

As we enter the path of Wicca, Paganism, or adopt a new divination system, we enter a new world of exploration, and of shiny objects and alluring collections of really neat things.  Garb, cloaks, fantastic objects, athames, wands, and so much more.  We can be lead to believe that we need the perfect cloak, the ideal chalice, and all the other accoutrements available.  I once quipped (and have never lived down) that this is the shopping religion.  The same was true, I might add, of mainstream religions.  When I was a Christian, I spent a great deal of meager salary on the perfect leather-bound Bible with gold-edge pages in exactly the right translation.  Then I accumulated more translations and commentaries.  None of these things deepened my walk with Deity; study, communication, fellowship, and prayer did that.  The same is true of the Pagan path.  It is our actions and connections that bring us closer to Spirit. Deborah Blake writes about this online and in her book, Witchcraft on a Shoestring.    She presents practical and frugal ways to practice our Craft along with ways to be authentic and magical.
I once heard Ted Andrews speak and he said that nature is speaking to us all the time and that we need to turn our minds and our ears to hear a new language.  I think the same is true with objects.  The objects we have in our lives accumulate meaning and symbolism that mean something to us personally.  We can read that meaning and let the objects talk to us, help us solve or problems, or lead us to new insights.   This idea was further verified when a friend on Facebook, Morewenna, posted a picture of her Magpie Oracle.
Her posting spurred a lot of conversation and discussion and I realized I could do this too.  I would name mine Tchotchke Oracle for several reasons.  Tchotcke is fun to say, my father used to pepper his talk with Yiddish phrases picked up from people he met in his gregarious ways, and I grew up in an area rich in Jewish lore, customs, and humor.  One woman told me her fiance defined the word tchotchke as “cute little things” and he referred to his balls as tchotchkes.
Kristen Madden in her book, Magick, Mystery, and Medicine has an activity she calls a junk walk.  Go outdoors and with your spiritual mind notice things for your junk bag.  Ask permission to take it with you, and then add it to your bag.  This bag and the contents can guide you and the nature spirits will talk with you through the contents.
I went around my house cleaning out draws, crannies, and other hidden places for little things to put in my oracle.  These things reflect my eccentric interests, hobbies, spiritual path and family life.  There are charms, shells, buttons, and all sorts of items.  I am proud of the fact that I didn’t have to buy a things, not even the bag.  It is large.  Plastic, manufactured, useful, and not useful were all part of the oracle.  I did a little ceremony in front of my altar to welcome the wisdom of the oracle into my life.
I’ve used it in several ways.  I had the members of a shamanic class I was leading put together their own oracle bag.  We were exploring a particular question so each of us drew objects from our own bag and talked about what it said in relationship to the question.  Since the amalgam of our insights were not clear, we drew a map to represent the question since it was centered on a place.  We then closed our eyes and tossed (gently) our objects onto the picture.  I then drummed and we journeyed to the place and explored our question.  Our journeys and the objects intertwined and overlapped, giving us all deeper insights into the complex question we were exploring.
I’ve drawn objects at random moments when I’ve needed a lift, at a time of reflection, or just fooling around.  I have laid out objects in a pattern used for Tarot so each object serves a role or poses a question.  I then read the objects in relationship to their position and then as a collective message.  Sometimes the oracle speaks clearly, sometimes eloquently, sometimes mysteriously, and at other times, just kicks my butt.  I’ve used it in tandem with Tarot, my divination tool of choice to augment a reading.
Others, such as Carrie Paris , have developed oracles according to other systems such as Lenormand.  On her website, she provides a free sheet that you can download.  You then place your charms, objects, and tchotckes and read it in relationship to whatever you are exploring.
This time of year is one of two where the veil between the worlds are the thinnest.  The messages and omens from the other realms are more easily accessed.  It is a time of ancestors, death, harvest, waning times, and preparation for hibernation (retreat).  Every time is a good time to reach out, this may be an easier time.
Wishing you an open heart, ears to hear, and eyes to see.  May the Spirits speak their love and blessings to you!




Enriching your Tarot Visual Vocabulary

Strength from Labyrinth Tarot

Strength from Labyrinth Tarot

When you practice anything, whether it be a musical instrument, a spirituality, an exercise program, or a divination practice, you sometimes have to mix it up to keep from getting stale and stuck in routine.  You can mix it up by learning new things, looking at something with a beginners mind, or by expanding your skills.  Tarot has a rich heritage of lore, history, visual images, and traditionally assigned meanings.  Moreover, Tarot is a place full of exploration, experimentation, building new meanings, vision, and voice.  I often tell my students that each deck has a voice and you need to learn to hear the voice and then translate it into meaning, for yourself and for others.  How do you do that?, I’m often asked.

One way is to employ Visual Thinking Strategies (VST), an active teaching technique.  I learned it in the context of leading it with a group.  Today, I’m attempting to explain how I employ these techniques when I am alone and learning a new deck.  It’s part knowledge and part intuition as applied this way.  I imagine the scholars that develop would cringe at this little bit of Unverified Personal Gnosis!  We live in a society where we are bombarded and saturated with visual messages, and yet we are not always literate in the language.  This has helped me be more fluent in visual language.  It helps as a Tarot Reader.  If you read all the time with the same deck, it’s important to keep it fresh, as you know.  This helps expand your vocabulary and look at an old friend with fresh eyes.

Visual Thinking Strategies is used by art educators to help people interpret what they see in front of them, do develop an artistic vocabulary, and to aid in better expression, either verbally or in writing.  It is usually a facilitated discussion process that encourages depth of analysis.  VTS is centered on students and is an experiential process.  Students are looking at the primary object, not secondary sources or critical analyses.  Participants are encouraged to develop a new vocabulary and VTS provides a structured approach to construct new meaning.

It is a simple process and I’m going to describe how a facilitator does this and then give you some ideas of doing this when you are alone with your cards.  The facilitator presents the groups with a painting or other kind of artwork and says, “Take a minute and look at this picture.”  After a minute, asks “what is going on in this picture?”  As the students gives their response and the facilitator paraphrases their responses and points to what they have pointed out.  Then the facilitator probes deeper, “What is going on in this picture?” When the students respond, the facilitator asks, “What makes you say that?”  When the responses reach a lull, the facilitator goes for even more depth by saying, “What can we find?”, and then continues, making links to previous statements about the image.

Three things are happening here:  Paraphrasing, Pointing, and Linking.  Each is an important part of the process of hearing the voices of the images.

Paraphrasing helps students understand that their thoughts are heard, understood, and valued.   In addition, they can see their idea grow and contribute to the group understanding as the conversation goes on.  This kind of technique is inclusive and creates mutual respect for ideas and interpretations.  It also has the potential of growing an individuals’ vocabulary and ability to see nuance and express nuanced meaning.

Pointing engages the student and helps them to keep actively learning and helps the conversation stay on the image.  Each student in the group hears other students being acknowledged and sees what they have observed, allowing for collaboration.  It also ensures that the facilitator is accurately identifying what the student meant to point out!

Making links between one observation and another builds the ideas and allows the construction of new knowledge and understanding.  It helps everyone stretch their ability to reason and pointing out difference and building the meaning incrementally allows the student to experience the evolution of knowledge and wisdom.

The goal of the session is to have the students leave wanting more, more knowledge, more exploration, and to seek more “answers.”  The faciltator does not summarize, allowing the students to remember or choose what is most important or memorable.  And of course, compliment the students and encourage them for the skills they demonstrated.

As an individual Tarot Reader or student, how can you use these techniques to enrich your understanding of individual cards?  You may want to journal your response and practice on each card a couple or three times.  That way you create a conversation with yourself.  Say, you start on a Monday and repeat on Wednesday, you can look at Monday self and draw a connection,

Take a look at the card at the top of the page.  What is going on in the picture?  What did you see that made you say that.  For instance, I might say that it’s some kind of circus act with a woman and a lion.  I say that because if you look at her body, it/she is not pulling against the lion, but rather placing her open hands on his mouth.  It’s almost like they are doing a very strong, active dance together.  What more can you see?  The rope doesn’t seem to be a restraint, but rather something used to enhance their interaction and it forms an infinity sign.  It seems that the interaction between human and wild is an active one, that is a constant balancing act.  One that combines fearlessness with careful balance and discernment.  For both creatures, the ‘dance’ of their connection is through constant awareness and understanding.

I would stop there and come back and look at it another day.  I’m not terribly familiar with this deck.  On the basis of writing this blog, I went ahead and bought a copy so I could continue my interaction with more “hands-on.”  If you, Dear Reader, try this, let me know how it goes.  It’s fun to do as a group and great to do alone.

Be gentle with yourself and honor all your insights.

A Monday Morning TEAser!

a nice hot cup of tea!

a nice hot cup of tea!

I’ve been away from blogging for a while.  My mother went into hospice last April and passed peacefully away surrounded by her family.  I needed a lot of time to grieve.  I’m still very sad and there’s still a lot of stuff to do, but I wanted to get back to some things I love to do. One of the things that remind me of my mother is tea.  She tried many kinds and always went back to Liptons.  She drank a lot of tea!  When I was a kid, she drank coffee with cream and sugar.  When she started teaching during my junior high school years, she switched to tea.  Story was, that the teachers she hung out with, charged 50 cents for a cup of coffee but tea was free.  Fifty cents was a lot of money for a cup of coffee, so she switched to tea.  And loved it.  She never went back to coffee.

I love a good cup of tea and I like variety.  I’m not a purist, I just like what I like.  To me it’s a mini-retreat in the midst of a busy day.  Tea is also a pick-me-up and an oasis.  I am trying to give up diet soda and now tea is my go-to drink.  Note:  I gave it up for several months but after several long car trips, diet soda was the easiest.  So I will be switching back to tea.

Tea often gives rise to reflections, divination and “deep thoughts.”  Sometimes, though, a cup of tea is just a cup of tea!  Whatever the moment, it is refreshing.

I read somewhere that starting with a spicy drink, such as pepper, cinnamon, or similar tea, can boost your metabolism and help you towards better fitness.  I have several and sometimes I think it works.  Today’s tea is from serendipiTea and is called Sssssspicey, and is an “organic Blend of Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove and Black Pepper.”  Technically, it’s a tisane since there is no tea in the blend.

It is wonderful and VERY spicy.  The blend gives you both a foretaste and a nice afternote.  The spices are very aromatic and just smelling it is an energizing experience.  It certainly is an invigorating tea for a Monday morning at work!  It is definitely effective.  I have gotten a lot done this morning.

As you can see, it’s a loose blend.  As I was sniffing it, I dropped the tea strainer into the brew and my cup was awash with the leaves and bits of herb.  I had to strain it again.  The tea did not guarantee grace or a spell against clumsiness!  Even after I finished the cup, the scent lingered on.

May your Monday be an energetic delight, and end by relaxing into sereniTEA!

Landscape and HeartScapes

Assateague Island Pony

Assateague Island Pony

“Where are you from?” is a common enough question.  For me, it is not a simple question.  I always feel the question implies a lot more:  where were you born?; where did you grow up?; where did you last live?; and more.  It speaks to your life before the moment the question is asked.  It often includes an assumption that perhaps you spent the majority of your life or time in one place. I was born in Baltimore but we moved away when I was 18 months old.  We moved, on average every two years, living in several places:  Sioux City Iowa, various parts of the D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Camillus, NY.  It was a nomadic childhood until I was twelve, when we moved to the D.C. suburbs.  We moved once after that to another suburb and I went to two different high schools as a result.  It did leave me feeling unconnected to place for a long time.  From the time I was twelve, we did live in the Maryland suburbs of D.C. and I then went to the University of Maryland also adjacent to D.C.  One of the constants of our lives was our grandparents’ farm on Delmarva Peninsula just outside of Salisbury, MD.  We visited there often.  We stayed on the farm, followed our grandparents around and went to the beach.  It has become our nirvana, our home, our solace, and our destination for life’s journeys.  The beach, particularly at Assateague National Seashore, is part of my bones and blood.  The beach is a metaphor, dream, and destination for a lot of people.  When I was in graduate school, we were reading Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, an English Renaissance poem praising about beautiful utopic place and our professor says, “Our modern-day Arcadia is the beach.”  It is true if you live in that mid-Atlantic region.  I’ve learned it’s not true if you live elsewhere.  People in different areas have different ideas of paradise and utopia. To get to the beaches of the eastern shore from Baltimore and D.C., people need to cross the Chesapeake Bay, another threshold.  The Chesapeake Bay bridge is a modern engineering wonder, built in 1952, the year I was born.  [I don’t care, you can do the math!]  Now there are two, but in the old days and today still, the wait at “The Bridge” can be long.   It’s very long expansion bridge that terrifies people.  The bridge also serves as a threshold of crossing from one world to another.   There are many differences between the life on the western shore and the eastern shore.  “The Bridge” lives in the psyches of people as a challenge, a crossing, a pathway to enchantment and more.Chesapeake Bay BridgeWhen I took a creative writing class at a local writing center, the assignment was to write a scene or part of the story where a monument, piece of landscape or significant landscape object was featured as a character or influence.  The teacher commented after reading the stories that nearly everyone in the small class of ten had chosen the Bay Bridge as their significator.  It was then that I realized that landscape and parts of the landscape have powerful influence on how we perceive the world.

In 1992, I moved to Alfred, NY to take a new job.  Alfred is a very small village in the southern tier of Western NY in the foothills of the Allegany Mountains.  It’s a valley with three colleges populating the hills/mountains on either side of Main Street.  Coming from the relatively flat lands of central and eastern Maryland, this was a big change.  I didn’t really realize it until I started living there.  I got an apartment just off Main Street, in the valley.  It was a big adjustment of life for a suburban girl to rural living.  No easy access to things I assumed were part of life.  Shopping had to be planned because the bigger grocery stores were out-of-town.  It was mostly the landscape, though.  Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful there.  Rocky hills, rugged terrain, and wintry landscape.  I always though the spring was not about graceful growth as it is in Maryland, but rather a triumphant and valorous struggle to be born.  At the end of my third year there, I rented a house just inside the village, but further up the hill.  I felt better there.  I hadn’t realized that I felt like the mountains were closing in on me!On 1996, I got a job in Central New York and live halfway between Ithaca and Cortland.  I have the best of both worlds.  I can shop in the city where I work and drive less than 20 miles to a home in the rural countryside.  I feel better here, like there’s more room.  It’s still not home but I’m content in the beauty and grace of it.  Well, except for the fact that it’s April and there’s still snow on the ground.   Still don’t like that after all this time. Without knowing it, the landscapes of our surrounding shape our perceptions of ourselves, the world, and how the world works for us.  Landscape brings us to paradise, our Arcadia.  For each of us, it will be different.  For me, it’s the stark beauty of Assateauge and the sandy soil of the farm.  For others, it’s the rocky soil and rocks of the mountains, and for still others, it is the desert.  We build our landscapes in our minds and hearts and when we do so, we create them as sacred and special.  It is that ability to create the sacred from our hearts and souls that is part of our divine natures.  For when we create sacred places and actions on this plane, we create them in the other worlds.  We make real the Hermetic phrase, “As above, so below.” May the landscapes of your heart bring you joy, solace, and pleasure today and all days.

Dimes are Magic Money

dimesOut of all the coins, I have always loved dimes.  They are small and they jingle daintily in your pocket or purse.  A small amont of them can really add up in no time and they don’t take up much room as they accumulate.  When I was in the first grade, our teacher read us a book called Follow My Leader:  The story of a blind boy and his guide dog by James B. Garfield, and that book has had a lasting effect for a variety of reasons.  In this case, his teachers show him how to distinguish dimes from other coins–by sized and by the ridged edge.  I think the ridges make the coin very interesting.

I also like dimes because they used to have Mercury on the face and the reverse was very mythological.  While that has changed, I feel like that magical spirit in today’s coin.  I also like dimes because they used to be silver and are still silver colored evoking the moon.  And of course, I like them because they are shiny.

The very first spell I ever did was a money spell that involved dimes.  It was from a Scott Cunningham book and I have been unable to locate it since.  The spell involved taking seven dimes and a candle (I love fire) and burning the candle over seven days and saying a chant.  I can still picture doing it and the tools I used, clear as day.  It worked too.  I got the first promotion that put my career on a track of accomplishment rather than struggling to succeed.  I didn’t get big bucks that time but I have managed to be have a long and successful career since then.  Whenever I write a money or prosperity spell, there is always a dime involved!

About twenty years ago, I participated in some of the Sisterhood dances from AmyLee, a controversial native teacher, who shared a couple of prosperity methods.  I still consider them what my tradition calls “oathbound, ” so I won’t share them,  but I will share my adaptation of what I learned.  After participating in the dance, I began saving dimes.  Even now, I don’t spend them unless I need to.  I put them in a container.  When I feel like the time is right and I need something, I count them out.  I donate some of the money and then spend the rest on what I want or need.  It has a way of adding up.

A few years ago, I was talking to a friend about money and I told her “dimes are magic money,” and described my first spell as well as my collection of dimes, which is at the very least an intentional action and probably also a spell since I chant “dimes are magic money” as I clean out my wallet!  She began doing the same thing.

Recently, a sister in my circle said she did a dime spell with a wonderful variation.  She really needed some fast cash to cover an expense not covered by their medical insurance.  She empowered a handful of dimes and then sprinkled them along the path for someone else to pick up and use.  Generosity, faith, and hope in one small gesture.  In quick succession, three things happened that brought her family some unexpected money.  Dimes are magic money!

Springing Forward

Spring forwardI read a lot of blogs on a variety of topics:  witchy stuff [technical term], Tarot, embroidery and quilting, and library stuff [another technical term].  I get most of them aggregated and read them in digest form, delivered to me first thing in the morning.  It’s my morning newspaper.  That is the reason I read Deborah Blake’s Saturday post on Sunday morning.

I slept late yesterday, and since the time moved forward into daylight savings time, it was well past mid-morning when I had my tea and morning “paper.”  Bleary and lazy, I read Deborah’s post on Springing forward, called “Spring Forward:  Time for a Change.”  In her post, Deb wisely claims the time change as a time for magic, to spring forward into a new habit and a new routine.  It’s like the “boing” of the spring pushes her to be more magical, wise, and witchy.  What a good idea, I thought, a sort of refreshing mini-new-time-resolution.

Especially since I’m not fond of the whole spring forward thing.  I miss the hour we lose.  Although on balance, we are gaining daylight and our sunlit days become longer and more hopeful.  You might ask, what is so Pagan about time change?  It’s like many constructed holidays and changes in our environment, even though it isn’t spiritual per se, it has an impact on our lives.  In the fullness of our lives, everything is magical and everything is full of possibility.  Daylight Savings Time, unless you live in parts of Indiana, is part of the rhythm of our lives and our Universe.  Why not, as Deb says, tap into that energy.

Usually I feel like the energy is out of control as time propels me into spring and summer.  It’s an exciting idea to harness the power of the spring and move with the energy.  I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes [once a dork, always a dork] from Richard III by Shakespeare, “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer….”  Why not spring into glory!  Snap!

So what will I spring into?  Something I’m excited about.  My doctor recommended and I followed up on signing up for a year-long program of diabetes prevention.  I long to prevent diabetes in my life and I think I can do this program but I also have a history of failure in terms of this kind of change.  Now I’m going to spring myself from the shackles of failure.  It’s time to spring into this.  As I will it, so shall it be!

I’ve Got You In My Power

polar bear hugsI’ve got you in my power” is a running family joke.  It started when my sister’s two oldest children were about three and four.  I would envelop them in a big hug and say, “I’ve got you in my power.”  They would squirm, wiggle, and whine, “I don’t want to be in your power.”  The only way to get out of my power was to give me a kiss.  One day after a visit, my niece hugged her father (my brother-in-law) and said, “I’ve got you in my power.”  To which my brother-in-law said, “I see you’ve been spending time with Aunt Gail.”  And thus another Gailism is born.

Since then (my niece and nephew are in their twenties and *gulp* early thirties), my sister has always announced, when visiting my mother, “I’ve got my mother in my power.”  And on it goes.

I had a good conversation with my mother this weekend.  She has taught me many things and most recently not to be afraid of words like cancer, psychosis, confusion, dementia, and cancer [I’m still afraid of the d-word].  She’s a strong woman and sometimes the ravages of time and chronic disease robs her of her usual acuity and abilities.  This all has its ups and downs and riding these waves is a big challenge, particularly since I live 400 miles away.

When I spoke to her I said, “I hear you have [my brother] Frank in your power.”  She answered yes and we talked of many things.  Later on, I asked, “Are you having a good visit with Frank?” She replied, “Yes, it’s always good to have someone new in my power.”  That made me feel delighted, light, and happy.  It was a good conversation to have.

Power has been written about a lot to the point where it gets tiresome.  It does seem to be a lesson that we learn over and over again.  How to use power appropriately, how to recognize when power is being abused, and how to recognize different kinds of power.  For awhile in the Pagan community, it was became a bad word.  One to shy away from.  At the same time, in shamanic terms, the practitioner journeys to non-ordinary reality to gain power.  The key is how you use the power.  If you use it for good and not for ill, or if you use it for the good of your community or others, then the accumulation and use of power is a good one.  If you use power for your own advancement to the detriment of other beings, well then the use of power is a poor one.   I believe power is another word to not fear.

When looking at power and how we gain it and use it, we must use discernment.  I think we need to see what lens we are using to look at power.  Are you looking through the lens of love?  Revenge?  Entitlement?  The way you look at power is important.  If we fear it and shy away from it, then power becomes something bad.

Look at it like a hug.  Hugging is a communication between two beings.  Are you expressing love, can each of you move out of the hug as you need or wish to.  Or is the hug a vise holding you close in ways you do not wish.  If you hug with open arms and allow everyone the choice of leaving or staying, then “I’ve got you in my power,” is a phrase of love, affection, family, and community.

Blessed Be My Plan B

Business plan - woman drawingPlanning is important and I’m a good planner.  I also like to be flexible so that if an opportunity presents itself, I can take advantage of that spontaneously.

A good example of that in ritual was a big deal ritual my coven did for our tradition-wide gathering.  At the time, we were a brand new coven and while I was not new to group gatherings and leadership, this was a venue where I wanted us to excel and shine.  We would be doing the ritual for the gathering of our entire tradition including our elders and founders.   It was daunting, but I knew we could do it and do it fabulously well.

So we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed.  Our group was still learning how to be a coven together and how to do ritual so a big one was intimidating.  As part of the learning and rehearsal, we also practiced how to work through mistakes — keep on going and act like it was meant to be that way.    We where rehearsing right up to the last minute.  It was a little tense and we were all a little bit nervous.  Or maybe a lot.

And the ritual went really, really well!  There were a couple of misspeaks and the priestess went through it like it was meant to be that way.  When we finished the spiral dance and raised a lot of energy, an inspiration came to me.  And I said (for the benefit of the well-rehearsed covener), “I’m going a little off script,” and launched into the unofficial chant of our tradition which raised some incredible magic and energy.  And that is an example of good planning and the ability to be open to spontaneous inspiritation.

Another aspect of planning is being able to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.  “I always have a Plan B” is a Gailism.  It’s part of my professional training, a side effect of working with technology.  What if you plan a ritual and a key person doesn’t show up?  Plan B.  What if you forget to put water in the chalice:  Plan B is to pretend it’s there.  What if you knock over the chalice full of water?  What if you forget which vial contains water, which contains wine, and which contains oil?  Smell it or pretend [Plan B].  What if it rains on your outdoor ritual.  Plan B.

Sometimes you need a Plan C, D, or E.  Just being willing to be aware that things may change is an important part of planning.  It might not be necessary to have a full alternate plan, but rather to have the ability to draw on the well of experience, creativity, and spontaneous growth.  The new inspiriation is always there.  One time I went to a ritual and the priestess didn’t show up.  It turned out she was ill and unable to get out of bed.  So a group of us, some of whom had driven two or more hours, were ready to go about our business.  Wait!  I had a key to the building, so we decided to do the ritual.

We all went to our cars and pulled out blankets and pieces of this and that and pulled together an altar.  I had a Tarot deck and a traveling altar.  One woman had some pretty nifty Pagan stuff in her trunk.  We put together a really good ritual and the performance by a group of people who didn’t know each other was a very enriching experience.

So be ready with Plan A, B, C, and more.  All we need to do is learn our ABCs and draw on our creative power and good intentful heart.  Blessed Be the Plan B!

I Guess We Don’t Have To Do That Again

Einstein-on-insanityI’ve been talking to several people in different parts of my life about this statement:  “I guess we won’t have to do that again.”  It’s from my mother and it is considered another “Gailism.”  It is one of my mother’s classic phrases.   I first remember her using it when we went to this sub shop that we had heard about for years.  The food was supposed to be fabulous and wonderful.  It was some distance from our house and when we finally got to go there to eat, it was clear they were getting ready to close permanently.

It was a weird atmosphere and the food was lackluster and tasteless.  At the end of our meal, my mother said deadpan:  I guess we don’t have to do that again.”  Such dry humor, layered irony, and ruefulness.  We didn’t get to eat out much so a special treat really fell flat.  In so many ways.

And, of course, there is great wisdom in that statement.  We do not have to repeat bad experiences, we can move on, and we can live through disappointment.  And in my family, we move through disappointment into laughter as quickly as possible.  The statement is reminiscent of the definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein:  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  As human beings, we do that so often.  We choose the same path, the same type of significant other, the same diet and so forth.  Then we wonder why there’s not better or different results.

In our wisdom, we do learn from our errors, our wrong choices, or even choices that were right at the time but wrong now.  Hooray for us!  We can move on to make new mistakes and new choices and to expereience more neSix of Wandsw [insert rude adjective] growth opportunities.  It’s our ability to learn from the past and embrace new choices that make us stronger and wiser.

Sometimes those old issues and errors fool us.  As one friend puts it, the mistakes get dressed up in new party clothes and seduce us again.  If we are smart and if we are lucky, we recognize the old thing in the new duds and catch ourselves before we fall.  Sometimes we learn that there are issues that repeat for us and we need to go deeper to learn the meaning of that for us.  The human experience is rich in texture and scars.

When we triumph over our old errors, the phrase “I guess I don’t have to do that again,” becomes an anthem of victory and accomplishment.  We can move from the irony of that statement into a celebration of the richness of our own experiential lives.

The Six of Wands in the Tarot is a victory card.  It depicts the celebration and triumph of a fight well fought and fairly won.  The funny thing is, the figure in the card is looking to the future and for more things to overcome.  But in this moment, he is taking the time to dress up and celebrate his scars and his resilience.

February is Full Snow Moon: A Meditation and Tarot Spread

The heaviest times for snow are during February.  Sometimes the harsh weather conditions led native peoples to call this the Full Hunger Moon since hunting was very difficult.  Our hearts and souls often hunger for warmth and comfort during this time.               

Snow is water made solid.  We work with water when we do soul work and emotional healing.  Water washes over us and cleanses us and sometimes we drown in the profundity of it all.  In its solid form we can feel remote and cut off from our emotional and soul selves and at the same time its solid form is a reminder that our emotions and souls can be manifested in the material world.  The beauty and uniqueness of a snowflake reminds us of our matchless selves, unique in our joy and our suffering.

Take three long cleansing breaths. Close your eyes and breathe again, letting go of any anxieties or concerns.  Continue to breathe deeply and connect with Mother Earth, slumbering soundly beneath the surface.  Your breathing matches hers as you breathe in peace and quiet.  You find yourself outdoors at night.  The sky is full of stars and the full moon glows brightly, illuminating the snow covered ground around you.  As you stand there in the quiet, deep in snow, flakes gently begin to fall.  You are not afraid, cold, or concerned but filled with the wonder and beauty of this snowfall.  The flakes remind you of the many blessings in your life as you watch the beauty fall from the night sky.  The illuminating rays of the moon cause some snowflakes to stand out and capture attention.  As you focus on individual snowflakes, what do they remind you of?  What is in your life that is evoked by the beautiful snowflake?  Is it a reminder of love, or grief?  Is it a memory or habit you can’t seem to shake?  Keep watching the snowflakes until you feel that you have learned enough.  Thank them for their wisdom.  With a long deep breath, you are back in the here and now.  With a second deep breath, you open your eyes. With a third deep breath, you reconnect with your centeredness and reconnect with Mother Earth.  As you return to your everyday place and time, record your journey in your journal and draw the snowflakes that you saw and what the snowflake evoked in you.   

Each One Unique Spread

Use this spread to ask a question about your situation when you are confused or certain things are not as they appear.  It’s a good way to help you keep on the path to reach your goal(s).


February Tarot Spread (Full Moon)   

Card One:       What is nearest and dearest to your heart in this matter?

Card Two:      What does your intuition tell you about the situation?

Card Three:    What does your imagination tell you about the situation?

Card Four:     What is hidden beneath the surface?

Card Five:      What is out of reach at this time?

Card Six:        What does logic say about this situation?

Card Seven:    What is the possible outcome?


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