Sunday, March 25, 2012

Six of Cups

There is a playful element to this card, but there is also a slightly sinister aspect too; an issue from the past that we thought we had dealt with can present itself when this card appears.

Every now and then something from the past revisits us, sometimes turning our world upside down and sometimes forcing us to re-examine things in a whole new way.

This is the astounding tale of a fish known as coelacanth (seel-uh-kanth) that was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. Unexpectedly one such fish made its appearance in fishing nets off the coast of South Africa in 1938, and it was very much alive! Fondly referred to as ‘Old Four Legs’ and the ‘Living Fossil’ the coelacanth quickly became the continuing obsession of journalists, biologists, scientist, explorers, aquariums and divers.

The coelacanth fascinated the world and ignited a debate about how the bizarre lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals.

According to National Geographics, Many scientists believe that the unique characteristics of the coelacanth represent an early step in the evolution of fish to terrestrial four-legged animals like amphibians.
The most striking feature of this "living fossil" is its paired lobe fins that extend away from its body like legs and move in an alternating pattern, like a trotting horse.
Despite initial reactions that this was a hoax or a once-off wonder, a community of these coelacanths was discovered near the Comoros Islands near South Africa and another in the waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia. Studies in the Comoros suggest that only about a thousand remain there, and are today considered an endangered species.

Here’s the thing that we have to ask ourselves though, did evolution stand still? This fish should have evolved onto land many millions of years ago. Why didn’t the coelacanth evolve? But more importantly, based on these findings we have to ask ourselves whether there are other prehistoric dinosaurs or ‘monsters’  like the Loch Ness for example around today? For all we know there are living, fire-breathing dragons lurking deep beneath, just waiting to be discovered. Yes, there is the playful element of the card rearing it’s head again, but in light of these findings it is not all that inconceivable any more, is it?

Sometimes things come back from our past. Things that we have forgotten about or that we thought we had dealt with, often these turn our world upside down, or forces us to look at things in a whole different way.

This card reminds us to allow playfulness into our lives, but it also prompts us to ponder whether those issues we thought were dealt with for once and for all have really been laid to rest. There are times, as Carl Sagan said, that we have to know the past to understand the present.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tarot Taxi

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Tarot Taxi - A hitchhiker's guide through the Tarot (and other tit-bits)

Monday, March 19, 2012


The Black Death, or Bubonic Plague, swept through Europe like a wildfire. It originated in the east, and was carried to Europe on the trade routes where infected sailors arriving on ships brought the plague to European ports. From there is spread into Europe killing about a third of the population. Entire villages were completely annihilated by the plague.

 As gloomy a tale as this is, there was also a positive aspect to the plague. After the plague disappeared Europe entered an era of economic boom. Due to the shortage of labour – many of whom had been killed by the plague – peasants could charge for their labour, and were compensated, whereas before they worked for next-to-nothing. With the new boom, new ideas started blossoming and this introduced new perspectives into their world.

The plague was indiscriminate. It did not target specific groups, and nobody was immune to the long, black fingers of death. Almost everybody lost someone to the plague. Endings came to all, nobility and peasants alike, regardless of how prepared they were. However, in the end Europe came out stronger than it was before.

The plague also caused many peasants to question their religion for the first time, they became untrusting of their religion when ‘God’ had failed to protect them or come to their aid as the Black Plague swept through their villages, killing off a third of the population. The church suddenly no longer enjoyed subservience and obedience from the peasantry, and thus had to have a heavier hand in the suppression of its people. As a result of the questioning of their faith, movements and sects started to form and the church saw large flocks of members moving away from the church to towards these different sects as people were looking for more than the church could offer.

It does not matter how well prepared we are, sooner or later tragedy strikes us all. It is how we deal with it when it happens that is important, so that we can emerge stronger on the other side. When tragedy strikes we react, which is very normal. It is however wise to keep some measure of check on our reactions, we need to know when to stop grieving so that we can open the next door presented to us and step through it to into a new phase of our lives. Because with endings come new beginnings too, and this is in essence what the Death card addresses. Endings of all sorts, be it the ending of our current employment, our relationship or the physical death of a loved one. We should not stop living because we have lost someone or something, we should take the time we need to grieve this loss, yes, but then we should focus on lifting ourselves again to step over the next threshold to embrace the new things that life has in store for us.

As gloomy as the imagery on the Death card appears to be with bodies lying everywhere, a priest begging in vain for mercy while Death rides through on his steed; on the horizon the sun is rising. A bright golden orb of warmth and hope starts to dominate the sky again. Signalling new beginnings in the aftermath of the endings that Death brings.

Growth almost always comes from death and endings. Some things are forever changed, cures are found, prayers refined and people forge on towards the next chapter in their lives.

In closing I’d like to share a wise quote by Joan Borysenko, who said:

“The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.”  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Knight of Wands

When this card appears in a reading it can mean that relocation is imminent. With relocation comes change and challenges, but there is much that is positive about this too.

Ibn (pronounced Iben) Battuta, born in 1304, was a Muslim from Morocco. He wanted to travel to Mecca, a pilgrimage that is required in the Islamic faith. This was long before steam trains and many other means of transport was available. Ibn’s only mode of transport at the time was by foot, on camel or horse back, or by sea on one of the explorer vessels.

He travelled a distance of about 75,000 miles, lasting 29 years. A journey that he started at the age of 21.

His travels took him from Morocco, up and down the coast of Africa, to Egypt, Arabia, Russia, India and finally to China before he made his way back to Morocco again. During his travels he dined with nobility and peasants, he became super wealthy and lost it all again, he had encounters with pirates, kings and everything in between. He even managed to evade the black plague.

In short, he led a full life in the act of relocating from one area to the next. Doing what was unheard of for the time, and never pausing for long enough to allow the fear of the unknown to thwart his efforts. If Frank Sinatra knew him he would surely have dedicated his son ‘My Way’ to Ibn Battuta.

Many of us are intimidated by change. Relocating from our familiar surroundings, be that our home or our job, our state or even our country can be a frightening and intimidating experience for most of us. However, we could take a page out of Ibn’s book and LIVE the experience instead of shying away from it. We will collect gems along the way, and we will lose some along our travels. We’ll meet people from all walks of life, many of whom will add riches to our experience. By welcoming change and the occasional prospect of relocating when the opportunity arises we effectively are welcoming the act of momentum into our lives rather than the inaction of stagnation. This movement can come in many forms, breathing new life into our relationships for example, by taking action together and welcoming change can be one such way. Imagine taking our relationships to another level where we allow ourselves to embrace the possibilities that placing one step in front of the other on a sometimes-rocky road. This can give us joint purpose and a meaningful shared experience. Instead of shying away from the ‘rough patches’ in relationships, holding onto one another’s hands and trusting that our partner will pick us up when we fall, dust us off when we eat dirt, and that we will do the same for them. For, the road isn’t always rocky or perilous, there will be times that we will share a sunrise together and bask in its glow, happy that we have someone to share the moment with. Other times when we feel joyfully overwhelmed by the sheer richness and beauty of the journey.

When the Knight of Wands appears for us as it has done today, we might want to ask ourselves what aspects of our lives we could inject a bit of momentum into, banish stagnation from, and even welcome the challenge and change that the motion of action promises us.

In closing, I’d like to share a quote by George Meredith:

“A human act once set in motion flows on forever to the great account. Our deathlessness is in what we do, not in what we are. “

Or, in the words of Richard E. Byrd:

“A static hero is a public liability. Progress grows out of motion.”

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two of Cups

Upon initial examination of the Two of Cups it seems to be a love story, a story of partnership and equality that appears to be protected and embraced by a blessing from above. This inspires me to link the card to one of the greatest love stories ever told.

The Taj Mahal meaning ‘crown of palaces’ is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

In 1631, Shah Jahan was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their 14th child. He so loved his wife that he built her the most beautiful tomb ever erected, to honour her even in death. The emperor’s grief illustrates the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words

Should guilty seek asylum here,

Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.

Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,

All his past sins are to be washed away.

The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;

And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.

In this world this edifice has been made;

To display thereby the creator's glory.

A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble across the Yamuna river. It was suggested that he was overthrown by his son before he could build it. Ruins of blackened marble across the river in Moonlight Garden seemed to support this legend. However, excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discolored white stones that had turned black.  A more credible theory for the origins of the black mausoleum was demonstrated in 2006 by archaeologists who reconstructed part of the pool in the Moonlight Garden. A dark reflection of the white mausoleum could clearly be seen, befitting Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry and the positioning of the pool itself. This black pool and the reflection of the white Taj Mahal in it would have perfectly demonstrated the duality in this love story. The living and the dead, the light and the dark, the masculine and the feminine, the yin and the yang. The physical and the spiritual. One could almost be forgiven for relating this reflection of partnership back onto the card in which two large wings hover above the couple, as if blessing their union in this world and beyond. This echoes a verse in the Bible that says: What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Soon after the Taj Mahal's completion, Shah Jahan was disposed of by his son and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. He spent the last 14 years of his life imprisoned there, but with a view of the Taj Mahal from his window. Upon his death he was buried in the mausoleum next to his wife. They were together again, even in death.

The Two of Cups. A card that tells us the story of perfect balance, equal partnership, and speaks of honour in relationships that can transcend even the physical.