Archive for the ‘Entries with Tarot Exercises’ Category

The Ace of Pentacles: Penny from Heaven

June 27, 2007

Ace of Pentacles

 

I like the Ace of Pentacles. I don’t love it. I don’t keep my fingers crossed and hope it turns up in a reading, or put it on my tarot altar for contemplation. Last Saturday I co-facilitated a Writing with the Tarot workshop. When a participant pulled this Ace to kick off the day, my first thought was, Oh, well.

Each participant hunted down the Ace of Pentacles in her deck. We were to write our impressions, examining the imagery, the story there, our personal associations—kind of a warm up for the deeper personal and creative work we would do.

I closed my eyes, trying to clear my mind. I didn’t want the Ace of Pentacles to be about planting seeds and new business opportunites—my ususal interpretations. When I looked into the card, my eye was drawn to the hand that seemed to hold the sun. I imagined it floating above me, following me around, bobbing like a balloon. Having my own private sun felt kind of nice. Then I started to look around, and I could envision a little cottage outside the frame at the bottom of the card. All the windows were open to let in the fresh ocean air—yes there was an ocean, somewhere past the arched gate of the garden—maybe on the other side of the mountain. The cottage was inviting, but not as inviting as the garden. I didn’t feel the need to venture out towards the mountains, but I liked knowing that I could. I wrote all this down and then some. Satisfied, I recapped my pen, closed my journal and waited for the others who were still scribbling away.

I took in the space we rented from Presence of Heart in San Francisco. It was as pleasant as could be—beautiful wheat walls with white molding at the ceiling, natural light, a plush white carpet over hardwood floors, white couches, plants and candles and tarot decks spread out over a forest green blanket in the center of it all. I picked up the card again, and it struck me: Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck.

The Ace did feel like a lucky penny that day. We pulled poetry out of the cards, spun stories, and had the space and courage to get in touch with what matters to us.

Exercise for reflection:

Find a card that you feel neutral about—one that seems less interesting than the rest, and write about it. What is the first detail you notice? Describe the card. Imagine you are in it. What’s happening, or what can be seen just beyond its borders? Are there any personal associations that come up? Is there a story there?

I invite you to post your writing, or share your thoughts on the process. One of the best parts of the workshop was getting to hear what others wrote. It deepened my imagination and understanding of the cards.

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A Compilation of Tarot Table Talk Exercises

June 18, 2007

I have several books with writing exercises, and all of them include the authors’ musings or philosophies, or encouraging words, example poems or stories. There are times when I just want to get to the darn exercises! In case any of you tend to feel that way, I thought I’d make a list of the exercises in this blog. If you are so inclined to read my thoughts on the cards, you can click on their titles to take you to the original post.

I will add to this post as I create more. If you try any of them out, I invite you to share your reflections!

Lunchtime Tarot, Birth Card Reflection, 11/13/09

  1. Explore the imagery of the card. What detail stands out when you first look at the card? What is happening in the card? Is there a story there? Consider what might have happened five minutes earlier and what might happen five minutes later. What is the mood of the card? Consider the setting, the weather, and the expression on the faces of the figure(s) in the card.
  2. When I look at this card I feel…
  3. These words and phrases come to mind when I look at this card:
  4. This card reminds me of this significant childhood experience:
  5. This card reminds me of this significant experience from my adolescence:
  6. This card reminds me of this significant experience in recent years:
  7. This card reminds me of this person who has shaped my life:
  8. This card challenges me to…
  9. This card represents my potential to…
  10. This card warns me against…
  11. I hate this birth card because…
  12. I love this birth card because…
  13. I wish was my birth card instead of this one because…
  14. Choose another card in the deck (perhaps your year card) to interview your birth card about what it sees as your strengths and weaknesses. Write a dialogue between them.
  15. Imagine that you are teaching a class on something that you enjoy doing and that your birth card is your student. Write the scene that unfolds.
  16. Imagine that your birth card is willing to barter the secret to its virtue for the secret to one of your own. Write the dialogue between you.
  17. Do a three card reading for your birth card.
  18. Calculate the birth card for a significant person in your life. Imagine each of your birth cards in conversation about the two of you. If you have the same birth card, you might use cards from different decks. Write a dialogue between them.
  19. Find your birth card in several different decks. Which do you like best? Which do you like least?

Lunchtime Tarot: Point of View, 11/7/09

Go through the deck and pull out all the cards that a particular person in your life might use to describe you. This person in your life might be

  • someone who is a significant ally in your life right now—someone who knows you and supports you. This might be a partner, a parent, a sibling, a co-worker, a friend, etc.
  • an acquaintance who doesn’t know you very well. This might be a store clerk, your mail carrier, a co-worker from a different department, a friend of a friend, etc.
  • a family member or a pet.
  • a childhood friend that you have lost touch with.
  • a teenage friend that you have lost touch with.
  • an ex love.
  • a nemesis.

For each round, record the cards that you have selected, so that you can see how many come up multiple times.

Consider that each card has a light side and shadow side. You might discover that one person in your life might describe you as the shadow side of a card while another might describe you as the light side of the same card.

For reflection:

  • Are you surprised by any of the cards that you have chosen?
  • Have any forgotten memories surfaced?
  • Have any surprising feelings surfaced?
  • What have you learned about yourself and the way others might see you?
  • Which cards do you feel best describe who you are, or who you were at another time in your life?

Lunchtime Tarot: The Saboteur and The Liberator, 10/30/09

A goal that I need help reaching:

Pull each of the Ace cards from the deck and spread them out in front of you.

  1. Under the Ace of Cups, place a card that shows how the goal will fulfill your heart—what your heart has to gain from reaching this goal.
  2. Under the Ace of Swords, place a card that shows how the goal will fulfill your mind—what your intellect has to gain from reaching this goal.
  3. Under the Ace of Pentacles, place a card that shows the practical benefits to be gained from reaching this goal.
  4. Under the Ace of Wands, place a card that shows how the goal will fulfill your creative spirit—what your creative spirit has to gain from reaching this goal.
  5. Choose a card with a figure that represents your Saboteur. List signs that will warn you when your Saboteur is in charge.
  6. Choose a card with a figure that represents your Liberator. List signs that will show you that your Liberator is in charge.
  7. Consider the possibility that your Saboteur has good intentions and wants to protect you. Imagine your Liberator saying that you don’t need that kind of protection any more. What agreements might they come to?
  8. Imagine that each Ace is a gift from your Liberator and/or your Saboteur. Look at the imagery of the card. What might it symbolize? A seed that needs planting? A tool? A reminder of your strength?
  9. Choose a card that represents an action you want to take.

The Ace of Wands: In Search of Fresh Soil, 7/18/07

Find a card in the deck that represents a situation or a relationship that you have outgrown. Find another card that represents how you imagine you would feel if you were to move on.

The Ace of Pentacles: Penny from Heaven, 6/27/07

Find a card that you feel neutral about—one that seems less interesting than the rest, and write about it. What is the first detail you notice? Describe the card. Imagine you are in it. What’s happening, or what can be seen just beyond its borders? Are there any personal associations that come up? Is there a story there?

I invite you to post your writing, or share your thoughts on the process. One of the best parts of the workshop was getting to hear what others wrote. It deepened my imagination and understanding of the cards.

Temperance: The Morning Card, 6/18/07

  • Go through the deck face up and find a card that represents your morning self. If you are unhappy with your morning self, find another card that symbolizes who you would like to be in the morning.
  • Find a card that shows your best time of day.

Three of Pentacles, Judgement, Five of Wands: Styles of Collaboration, 5/3/07

Think about a time when you were called upon to collaborate with others. Go through your deck and find a card that symbolizes the role you played. Find other cards to represent the other people you worked with.

The Moon, 4/27/07

Go through your deck and find a card that represents the wolf in your heart. Find another card that represents the dog. Lay the cards next to each other. What story do they tell? If there are people or animals in these cards, imagine what they might say to one another.

The Empress and the Ivy, 4/23/07

  • Consider the excess in your life. What needs to be pruned? Cleared out? Hauled away? What would you be better off without? Find a card in your deck that symbolizes the excess, or the clutter in your life, or that which is growing out of control. Find another card that shows how you would feel if you were more on top of it.
  • Find a card in your deck that represents how you nurture yourself.
  • Find a card in your deck that shows the way you feel when you nurture others.

Finding The Star in the Painted Desert, 4/18/07

  • Find a card in your deck that represents a situation or a place that has brought you peace and solitude.
  • Look at The Star card and make a wish. Find a card in your deck that represents the wish. Find another that shows you what you need to do to make that wish come true.

The Devil and “A Passion for Clothes,” 4/15/07

  • Is there a little devil in you who talks you into overindulging? Go through your deck and choose a card that illustrates the devil in you. Find another that represents the part of you that knows when you need to treat yourself or live it up a little and when you are being too extreme or getting out of control.
  • Find a card that represents the chain about your neck and another that shows you how to remove it.

The Ten of Swords and Acupuncture, 4/12/07

Go through your deck face up and choose a card that represents something that you have been “analyzing to death.” Find another card that represents what you need to do in order to lay that issue to rest.

The Emperor, Strength, and the King of Swords: A Reflection on Assertiveness, 4/9/07

  • Make a list of people who you admire for their assertiveness. Go through your deck face up and find cards that illustrate their strengths.
  • Choose a card that represents a person or a situation that makes you feel intimidated.
  • Choose a card that represents your typical response to a person or a situation that makes you feel intimidated.
  • Choose a card that represents the response you would like to have to a person or a situation that makes you feel intimidated.

Knight of Cups and Death: The Romantic Idealist and the Existentialist, 4/9/07

  • Think about a fantasy that you have had for some time. Perhaps you have always wanted to take flying lessons or learn how to salsa dance. Or maybe you have been dreaming about a graduate program or an alternative career. Go through your tarot deck face up and choose a card that illustrates what has stopped you from turning this fantasy into reality.
  • Choose a card that illustrates a painful experience for which you need closure. Choose a second card that illustrates what it would be like without the guilt, the sadness, or bitterness in your life. Choose a third that symbolizes what you need in order to move on.

The Magician: Getting Things out on the Table, 4/9/07

Go through the deck face up and find a card that illustrates something you need to “Get out on the table.” Draw a random card to give you insight into what is stopping you.

Temperance: The Morning Card

June 18, 2007

Temperance

This morning I give the cards a shuffle and draw Temperance. I consider her for a split second and toss her back into the deck—the middle of the deck where she will be hard to fish back out. Sometimes, when I’m pulling a card for myself, and it doesn’t knock the breath out of me on the spot, I get impatient and lazy. Or perhaps it’s just something about Temperance that isn’t very appealing this morning.

Okay, I’ll flip through the deck to find her again. Ah, there’s the problem. Temperance takes place in the morning, and I’m not a morning person. The Temperance angel dips her foot into the pond. The sun is rising, the sky still gray, the air sweet and moist, bird song all around. I know what that early morning is like. I catch a quick glimpse of it when returning a guest to the airport for an early morning flight. There were also long-ago camping trips and a brief stint where I hauled myself out of bed to write before dawn.

I reject Temperance because she reminds me that I’ve already lost precious hours. I rolled out of bed at 8:15. I suppose 8:15 is hardly what some would call sleeping in, but by 8:15, others have already swum a mile or scratched away at their novel, or taken a hike and gone for a bagel and coffee run.

The sun’s beam has already passed the window where I sip my coffee—the window with the lone plant that withered behind closed early-morning blinds. The sky has already moved from gray to tepid blue.

I dub Temperance the Morning Card.

Perhaps I would be as radiant, centered, and balanced as the Temperance angel if only I would spread my wings a bit earlier.

* * *

Interesting facts about the Temperance card:

  • The Rider-Waite Temperance angel is intended to be the archangel Gabriel.
  • The Temperance card is also commonly known as the Art Card.

Exercise for reflection:

  • Go through the deck face up and find a card that represents your morning self. If you are unhappy with your morning self, find another card that symbolizes who you would like to be in the morning.
  • Find a card that shows your best time of day.

Questions about Tarot?

June 6, 2007

If you have any questions about tarot, or if there are any topics that you would like to see covered in this blog, please let me know. You can post them right here.

Thanks!

Susan

Would love to hear from you!

May 19, 2007

It’s a bit lonely out here at Tarot Table Talk. So far I’m the one that’s doing all the talking! I would love to hear your thoughts and insights on the cards, and I’m hoping I can encourage you to post some comments.

-Susan

Three of Pentacles, Judgement, Five of Wands: Styles of Collaboration

May 3, 2007

3 of PentaclesJudgement5 of Wands

I pulled these cards this morning and discovered a whole new perspective on the Judgement card.

I usually think of Judgement as taking an honest look at oneself, making amends, seeking forgiveness, a calling or awakening, or some kind of “coming out.” Today, next to the Three of Pentacles and the Five of Wands, both, in part, cards with themes of collaboration, Judgement seems to illustrate another style for working together.

The angel reminds me of a snake charmer—the people rise hypnotically, answering the call to get the job done. Soon the blood will start flowing, and those ashen figures will come back to life. The angel might also be like a choir director or choreographer, uniting people in song or dance.

The figures in the Five of Wands need someone to take charge. They have great energy and are willing to work hard, but they haven’t figured out what to do with those sticks. The situation threatens to disintegrate into a literal battle.

It is difficult to tell what everyone is thinking in the Three of Pentacles. The religious figure seems to have regard for the artist—he is attentive, in any case. The figure in polka dots—a patron perhaps—holds out blue prints. Is she reminding the artist of their original plans? Admonishing him for deviating from the plan? Or maybe she offering guidance or offering him another project. The artist stands on the bench and seems to be accommodating. These three are civil and work is getting done, but we can’t tell what the power dynamics have been, nor whether or not there has been costly compromise.

This brings me back to Judgement with its powerful sense of unity.

* * *

Exercise for Reflection:

Think about a time when you were called upon to collaborate with others. Go through your deck and find a card that symbolizes the role you played. Find other cards to represent the other people you worked with.

* * *

Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

The Moon

April 27, 2007

The Moon

Yesterday I got a chance to catch part of Caroline Casey’s radio show, The Visionary Activist, on KPFA. She interviewed Sandra Ingerman about her new book, How to Heal Toxic Thoughts: Simple Tools for Transformation. At the end of the show, Ingerman told the following story, which she includes in her book:

A boy says to his grandfather, “Grandfather, there are two wolves in my heart and they are fighting.” The grandfather replies, “Which do you think will win?” And the boy answers, “The one I feed.”

I was instantly reminded of the dog and the wolf of The Moon card. The wolf represents the wild in us—the part of us that is motivated by a desire for fun or adventure, or perhaps instinct, or survival. The dog represents the tame in us—the part of us that is motivated by social norms and conventions, or a desire for domestic stability.

When The Moon Card appears in a reading, it, in part, asks us to consider whether there is a conflict in our heart symbolized by the dog and the wolf. We must ask ourselves which one we will feed.

Exercise for Reflection:

Go through your deck and find a card that represents the wolf in your heart. Find another card that represents the dog. Lay the cards next to each other. What story do they tell? If there are people or animals in these cards, imagine what they might say to one another.

*    *    *

Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

The Empress and the Ivy

April 23, 2007

The Empress

The other day, my friend Carole and I pulled into a parking space near one of our favorite restaurants, Joy Meadow. When we got out of the car, Carole pointed to a hardy bamboo bush infested with ivy and said, “Look at that! The bamboo and the ivy are at war!”

I think of Carole, who always notices the plant and animal life around her, as The Empress—though I know she will reject that label. She sees in The Empress ivy growing out of control, a closet or a garage that needs cleaning out. Carole’s Empress makes herself sick on chocolate—she is a symbol of excess.

My Empress buys peanuts for the squirrels and the blue jays. She finds a cement bench near a waterfall and brings cushions and pillows to make the visit more comfortable. My Empress knows how to take care of herself when she needs a little pampering and therefore has energy to nurture others as well. She is a symbol of vibrancy.

In reality, The Empress is all of these things. She represents our ability to nurture and appreciate nature as well as our tendancy to overindulge, to be effusive, or to let things get out of hand. Like all of us, she is multifaceted.

* * *

Exercises for Reflection:

  • Consider the excess in your life. What needs to be pruned? Cleared out? Hauled away? What would you be better off without? Find a card in your deck that symbolizes the excess, or the clutter in your life, or that which is growing out of control. Find another card that shows how you would feel if you were more on top of it.
  • Find a card in your deck that represents how you nurture yourself.
  • Find a card in your deck that shows the way you feel when you nurture others.

* * *

Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Finding The Star in the Painted Desert

April 18, 2007

 

The Star

When I was in grad school, my friend Cody and I took a cross-country road trip to deliver our friend, Susan, to Syracuse University, where she would begin her new life. For me, it was a long ride home without her. I was morose and irritable.

At the end of a particular 12-hour day on the rode, I became resentful when Cody insisted on a 45-minute detour, which would bring us to the park of the Painted Desert at dusk. “It’s getting dark,” I complained. “What’s the point?”

At the entrance, the ranger didn’t even charge us. He just shrugged his shoulders and waved us through—me in the passenger seat of the dust-laden truck, tired and cranky, and Cody, leaning forward, both hands on the wheel, annoyingly as eager as he was when we first began our journey.

My irritation manifested into terrible fits of laughter as I watched Cody examine a petrified stump illuminated by the headlight of the truck. He was stern when he told me to fuck off, which only made me stifle my laughter, snorts escaping through my hand tightly clamped over my mouth.

I didn’t dare utter a word as we pressed on through the desert, where I could only imagine the pastels underneath the layers of night.

At some point Cody stopped the truck, turned off the headlights and got out. I did the same. He headed a few paces east, so I headed west, or maybe it was north and south.

Eventually my eyes adjusted to the darkness—the moon was at the other end of the world—and gazing at the stars, I suddenly felt myself a privileged confidante to the private thoughts of night.

The Star card reminds me of the inner peace I unexpectedly found in the Painted Desert—thanks to Cody!—and, in fact, it does symbolize a sense of peace and enlightenment.

Exercises for Reflection:

  • Find a card in your deck that represents a situation or a place that has brought you peace and solitude.
  • Look at The Star card and make a wish. Find a card in your deck that represents the wish. Find another that shows you what you need to do to make that wish come true.

* * *

Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

 

 

The Devil and “A Passion for Clothes”

April 15, 2007

Inspired by The Fairytale Tarot, which illustrates 78 different fairytales from around the world, I revisited my anthologies of Jewish folktales. I found the story, “A Passion for Clothes” by Y.L. Peretz to perfectly reflect the theme of The Devil Card.

The Devil card can symbolize playfulness and fun, the appreciation of material and sensual pleasures. But The Devil card also warns that overindulgence in this realm can distract us from the truth, with the resulting ignorance leading to oppression. There is an additional lesson to be learned from the man and woman in the card who seem to have accepted or become accustomed to their enslavement and are unwilling or unaware of their ability to remove the loose chains from around their necks.

The Devil

Below is my retelling of “A Passion for Clothes.” A full version can be found in Great Tales of the Jewish Occult and Fantasy, compiled, and translated by Joachim Neugroschel.

Once upon a time there was a Jewish woman named Bashe Gitel who enraged Satan because she was so virtuous. He made it his mission to turn her into a compulsive shopper.

He came to her in the guise of the Good Spirit and suggested that she would do God a great honor by buying a new dress for the Passover holiday. Besides, he said, giving the tailor a chance to earn a little money before the holiday would be a good deed. So Bashe Gitel scrimped a little on her holiday donation to the poor and prepared a less extravagant holiday meal than usual so she could buy a new dress.

Then Shavuoth came along, the holiday commemorating the day that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and Satan reminded Bashe Gitel that this was an even more important holiday and suggested a new necklace. With each holiday that passed, Bashe Gitel added to her wardrobe and accessories, and when Satan pointed out that Bashe Gitel was neglecting the Sabbath, her purchases became weekly.

It was easy for Satan to convince Bashe Gitel that she should have more gems. Rubies would help her in childbirth, an emerald would turn cloudy if she had a sinful thought and therefore keep her honest and pious, and sapphires would give her the wisdom she needed to help her figure out her finances, which was becoming an increasing problem.

Soon, no amount of money could appease Bashe Gitel’s insatiable desire for jewels and clothing. She stopped giving money to charities, and even sent her sons to less expensive teachers. She also fired her maid and tricked an orphan into working for her for free.

One day she discovered that there were food stains and rips and tears on her finest silk. She accused the orphan of borrowing her clothes and wearing them out at night. She humiliated her in front of the whole community and ran her out of town.

As it turned out, it was demons who had soiled her clothes. For when a woman has too many dresses and neglects her duty to clothe the poor with the old ones, demons will take them at night and wear them to their feasts.

* * *

Exercises for reflection:

  • Is there a little devil in you who talks you into overindulging? Go through your deck and choose a card that illustrates the devil in you. Find another that represents the part of you that knows when you need to treat yourself or live it up a little and when you are being too extreme or getting out of control.
  • Find a card that represents the chain about your neck and another that shows you how to remove it.

* * *

llustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.