Alder is a member of the Shaman's Net and an all around interesting and wonderful person. He has many talents and explores shamanic and magical realms very deeply. He has offered to do Tarot readings based on the blessing of the current season as an offering and expanded toolset for Shaman's Net members.
Should these readings generate questions regarding how to work with the information and tools, Alder is available for consultations at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy, Reflect, and Explore. Many blessings.
On this page:
Readings #8 (Spring 2008) - #10 (Fall 2008)
Alder's Tarot Reading for Shaman's Net Spring 2008 Season -- "Fulfillment"
Query: What are the keys to Fulfillment for the Shaman's
Net members this season?
I am happy to be offering this work to you again, after taking a short break over winter. As I focused on the intention/query of this reading, I had in mind a central Tarot card surrounded by a circle of eight others, like the points of a compass. Not a pattern of spread I have used before, but I decided to go with it.
The central card, setting the theme for Fulfillment this season, is the Ten of Wands, the Burden card. Much as I like my deck, Ciro Marchetti's Tarot of Dreams, the traditional Rider-Waite cards that most of us have seen have a great image for the 10 of Wands: A man carries a large, heavy, unwieldy bundle of ten big sticks. He walks along a road, and we can look ahead of him to see the road winding over hill and dale, to the city that is his destination, way way off on the horizon. Are you beginning to think, this is fulfillment? It sure doesn't look like it. It looks like hard work, and many miles to go before I sleep. And that is the message of this card: Boy, you're going to carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.
The Burden card is all about having responsibilities, and how we handle them. We might start to focus on how far we have to go, and feel weariness, or worse yet worry. Fear, anxiety. What if I drop my burden? What if I'm not strong enough? What will everyone think if I let them down? But remember: These responsibilities weren't given to just anyone. They were given to you because you earned them. You have gone through the training, you have proven yourself. You have the skills and the strength. You are ready for this task. You wouldn't be here if you weren't.
Responsibilities and Fulfillment go together. Many of us have tried the rootless Kerouac path from time to time. Ultimately, though, we find Fulfillment not on vacation but at home, doing our part in our lives with old friends, committed love relationships, participation in our communities, and meaningful, right livelihood. That is where our power, and our responsibility, lie. However, this does not mean we have to take on any burden anyone wants to give us. We are not slaves. The 10 of Wands has a self-care message, too: Your first responsibility is to yourself. You always have the right to drop some or all of the sticks in the bundle whenever you choose. You can say, I'm not taking on that job right now. Let someone else do it. It is not right for me. Oh, but what will people think when you refuse the responsibility? Who cares.
So now we turn to the cards that surround this fellow, who carries a heavy burden but is strong enough to bear it. I laid these cards out in pairs, top and bottom, left and right, upper left and lower right, upper right and lower left. I was surprised at how clearly they formed dualities, the first card specifying a problem, the second offering a remedy. Here they are:
(top and bottom) Over the Burdened Man, the Knight of Swords, reversed. Court cards almost always refer to people in the Querent's life. For us, this knight is a guy who is too much in his head, too intellectual, always arguing. This is a confrontation we must face, and we aren't looking forward to it. Since the card is reversed, the knight's upraised sword hangs over us like the Sword of Damocles. Below us, though, is the Nine of Coins, the Lady in her Garden. This is a card of deep wisdom, wisdom within us that we can access whenever we need. But to get to it, we need to step back, take as long as we need in our own garden, our own place of peace and beauty. Looking into the composed but expressive face of the lady of the 9 of Coins, I get the strong intuition that this is a physical person in our lives. A lady who will take us in to her peaceful, private realm and sit us down and give us some tea and help us to ground and center.
Side note: My Tarot deck also gave me the message of a thicket of swords through which we must push. Swords is the suit of thinking, logic, words. Those of you who practice meditation know how hard it can be to get through this, to quiet the chattering monkey mind. But who lies beyond the thicket? The Empress, the Queen of Life, the source of all creativity, fertility, and richness in our lives. It's all about getting out of your head and into your heart.
(left and right) Before the Burdened man, like a mirage, is the Four of Wands, reversed. This card is the Harvest Party card, offering romance and harmony. The work is done and we can rest easy, the money in the bank. Retirement. But reversed, it means we can certainly have happiness and Fulfillment in our present, but we aren't to the end of the road yet. The obstacle to Fulfillment here is getting into the mindset that we have to get “there.” We haven't “arrived.” We don't have the brass ring, we have more work to do before we can rest. We get too caught up in the future, and in trying to make it happen according to our schedule. To avoid that, we have to look to the other card of the pair: The Seven of Coins, the Old Farmer. The Farmer leans on his hoe, watching the fruit ripening in his orchard. He knows he has worked to make the orchard healthy, and now he can do nothing but wait for the harvest. It takes rain, and sun, and time, and more time. He doesn't control these things. His face is stoic, and he drawls, “Yah. It takes as long as it takes.” Patience.
(upper left and lower right) Here is the Two of Cups, reversed. The 2 of Cups is the Avowal card, the card of True Love. Reversed? Yikes! Perhaps some members of the Net are looking for true love, and it's hard to admit the perfect soul mate hasn't arrived yet. Perhaps some of us are in committed relationships, but realize it isn't happily ever after. The person we are in relationship with is a human being, not our idealized fantasy mate. The love may be true, but it's still hard work. To balance this, we have the Four of Cups, reversed. This is the Dissatisfied Man card. He ignores three rich cups before him, staring up at the one that floats in a cloud. Reversed, we get past that delusion: Count your blessings, look at all the blessings you have. Together these cards have a simple message: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. Love what you have, right here, right now, in your life. Love yourself.
(upper right and lower left) The Fool reversed. The Fool is often shown about to step off a cliff. Reversed, we are holding back from the cliff. But what would happen to the Fool if he stepped off, would he fall or would he fly? The reversed Fool is the fear card–fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of looking like a Fool by trying new things and stepping out of the comfort zone. Hey, these fears are real. It takes a powerful force to get over them. Voila: The Devil, card XV of the Major Arcana. I hear William Blake's sardonic laugh: “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained!” The Devil represents a very primal level of our self, a level of self that never suffers from anxiety or indecision. It knows what it wants and it wants it now. It is in Shadow for most of us, this unrestrained animal, ecstatically dancing. Sure, we have to be careful about giving in to our addictive hungers. But one writer describing this card said, “Inhibitions can enslave as easily as excesses.” (That was from www.aeclectic.net, an excellent site to learn about Tarot). In many decks, the Devil has people chained or in cages, but if we look closely, the chains are loose and the cage door is unlocked. Passions enslave only as long as we let them. But if we follow our wild hearts, we can get over our fear of stepping into a new life.
Blessings of the Lady to all in the Net! May these keys open some delightful and strange doors for you!
Alder's Tarot Reading for Shaman's Net Summer 2008 Season -- "Knowledge"
Query: How can the Shaman's Net Members best use the gift of Knowledge in their lives?
First of all, sorry it has taken me so long to write up this season's reading. I dutifully laid out the reading on the Solstice, but did not get around to writing it up, first because I wanted to sit with it for a while and develop an understanding of it, then just for all the usual life reasons that get in the way.
Before I start, a testimonial for the Shaman's Net:
I had several of the gifts and blessings David described in his first journey come into my life, before he sent out the post describing his journey. So that shows me the Net is up and running, sending out energy along its linkages. In the same way, the Pattern of the Tarot reading takes effect immediately, even if I delay in writing it up (not that that's any excuse).
For this reading, I felt I needed something to help with focus, so I put a “holey stone” (a stone from the beach that had been riddled by piddocks) in the center of the altar cloth, and did the reading around it. Here's what came up:
First Set: Five cards in a clockwise circle, starting at the top:
1. The Nine of Swords, reversed. This card is all about Knowledge, especially reversed. Upright, it is the card of waking in the night in fear and anxiety and regret, of being in the dark. Reversed it is the card of turning on the lamp and seeing that the scary shadow figure across the room is just your bathrobe draped over the chair.
So Knowledge can free us from fear.
2. Ace of Cups, reversed. Cups is the suit of feelings, and the Ace is all about the flow of sensations into the consciousness. Its fortune telling meaning is “a new love,” but really it is about the way you feel when you first fall in love: The grass looks greener, the sky bluer, every emotion is uber-intense. All your inner and outer senses are burnished. That's a good thing, but reversed this card says, step back, form a Knowledge container for the experience.
3. Eight of Swords. Also about Knowledge. This is the Prisoner card, the bondage card. The eight swords seem like a threat, but really, if we could take off the blindfold, we could use these sharp swords to cut the ropes that bind us. Knowledge turns problems into opportunities.
4. The Page of Pentacles, the Student. This is a young person in our lives who is dutiful, patient, grounded. A student, willing to gain Knowledge the old fashioned way: Long hours of reading, study, repetition. Either a person, probably young, that we know like that, or those attributes within ourselves.
5. The Empress. She is creativity, richness, the Great Mother. Reconnection with the Divine Feminine, and that in our lives that nurtures, loves, nourishes.
Second Set: Two cards, to left and right, like a crossroads, a choice:
1. The Hermit. The Hermit is the keeper of a lantern filled with Knowledge that not everybody gets to have. Like the guru who sometimes shows up in B.C. comics, you have to be willing to climb a big, steep mountain to reach the Hermit and receive his teaching. You have to be willing to do something out of the ordinary, make some sacrifices, but the reward of secret, advanced Knowledge, is there for those who face the challenge.
2. The Fool, reversed. Reversed, this is the person who is not willing to step outside the familiar comfort zone, not willing to risk looking like a fool. The person who says, “If ignorance is bliss, ‘tis a folly to be wise.”
Together, these two cards present the choice that periodically comes up in our lives in very stark terms. Either go on the adventure of new experiences, or hide in your hobbit hole.
Third Set: Three cards, a clockwise triangle starting in the upper left corner, ending at the bottom:
1. The Ace of Swords. Swords is the suit of the mind, of words. The Ace is the “Eureka” moment of solving a problem. This Sword cuts the gordian knot.
2. The Three of Pence. This is the card of the Master Craftsman, the card of being accomplished in your chosen field, not just at the basics, but really having mastery of the craft.
3. The Eight of Cups, reversed. This card advocates an ascetic approach. Though one has acquired many good tools, many riches, they should be abandoned in the search for a higher level of fulfillment. Reversed, just the opposite. Look for a higher level of fulfillment, yes, but within your daily life, within your family and your job.
Final Card: Slipped underneath the “holey stone.”
Ace of Wands. In my deck, this card shows an erupting volcano. This is the card of invention and creativity, the beginning of the suit of Wands, the suit of the imagination. Wonderful flashes of imagination happen, yes, but usually only to those who have enough raw material of knowledge floating around in their heads for the imagination to use as building blocks. Only someone with some knowledge of the basics of engineering can suddenly have a flash idea for the better mousetrap. But this is the payoff of Knowledge: The ability to use it to make something wholly new.
Blessings to all of you!
Alder's Tarot Reading for Shaman's Net Fall 2008 Season -- "Breakthrough"
Query: Where is the breakthrough?
For this reading I laid out twelve cards in a clamshell or eye shape (or you could just say a somewhat squashed circle) with a thirteenth card in the middle. If you want to lay out the cards yourself, here are the twelve cards, in order as if they were at the hours of a (somewhat quashed) clock:
1: The Magician
2: The Queen of Coins, reversed
3: The Hanging Man
4: The Devil
5: Nine of Cups, reversed
6: The Moon, reversed
7: Two of Wands, reversed
8: Ten of Coins, reversed
9: Knight of Cups, reversed
10: Seven of Coins, reversed
11: Knight of Wands
12: Four of Cups, reversed
13 (center card): Chariot, reversed
So in this one spread we have four cards upright and nine reversed. A mathemagician like David will probably groove on the 1 x 4 x 9, the dimensions of the Space Odyssey obelisk. But to keep it simple, all those reversed cards spell instability, things up-in-the-air and unsettled. Which, of course, is the price of having a major breakthrough. Breakthrough can't happen when there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Breakthrough is synonymous with chaos.
The main cards of this reading are the upright ones: Four very powerful cards, especially in combination! The Magician, the card of Intention, of choosing. The Magician says “Abracadabra!” which roughly translates from Hebrew as “By my word I cause it to be!” In this case, the Magician in each of us chooses to be Hanged. It's a traumatic experience, but it means literally being lifted up to a higher level, swept off our feet and hung upside down by Spirit, so that we step outside the time flow for a moment and glimpse eternity. We have a moment of suspended breath where we can see everything from a different perspective. Breakthrough indeed! And in that moment we confront the deeper, darker self. The Devil. Remember the beginning of the movie Blue Velvet? Where it shows these pretty scenes of stereotypic Middle America? But then the camera pans down to the grass beyond the white picket fence, and zooms in, under the surface, and we see beetles and bugs crawling all over each other in the darkness? Yeah. Like that. What we see with our new vision can be a little scary. It's something dark and restless and primal within us. A Shadow that can take us prisoner and torture us. But it can also be the key to breakthrough, the willingness to connect with one's own primal, darker, ferocious nature.
So how do we do all this? Fortunately, we have help. And what help! The Knight of Wands, the Impetuous Knight, who comes charging into our lives on his galloping stallion, swinging his wand which is a flaming torch, and sweeps us up into the saddle and off on an adventure. We all have a person like that in our lives, someone who's just a bundle of energy, someone who is intensely creative and wild, who doesn't knock but just barges in and starts making changes, starts making breakthroughs, breaking through all the veneers and the partitions in our lives, whether we like it or not.
If you want a breakthrough this season, that person is your
friend, ready to party.
I'll run through the other nine cards just briefly. These are the things that we are breaking through, the various obstacles, and one might apply to one member of the ‘Net, another card might be for someone else:
Queen of Coins, reversed, is the earth mother who has lost touch with the earth. Look for a woman in your life who is careless with money. Someone who drains life energy instead of feeding it.
Nine of Cups, reversed, confronts us with the wish we keep wishing that never comes true, the wish that we waste time wishing for instead of living the life we have.
The Moon, reversed, is another card of disconnected feminine energy. Here it's losing the gateway to the creative self, to the imagination and intuition. Seeing only the surface of things, shallow and superficial.
The Two of Wands, reversed, is like the donkey who starves between two piles of hay. To be successful, one has to make a brave choice. We don't know all the variables, we don't know the outcome, but we have to choose anyway. If we could just put our coins on a number and spin the wheel, we might win if we choose boldly enough. But as long as this card is reversed, we stand dithering at the crossroads.
Ten of Coins, reversed, is having to live without long-term financial stability, living paycheck to paycheck.
Knight of Cups, reversed, is the lost love. Or possibly the love that was never there in the first place. The torch we've been carrying for too long. When this person rides by in our lives and calls out, “Did you miss me?” the proper response is, “You can't miss a place you've never been!”
Seven of Coins, reversed, is the farmer standing under the tree waiting for the fruit to ripen. But not waiting patiently, not learning the lesson that everything has its season, we shake the tree and wound it, and it drops its fruit unripened.
The Four of Cups, reversed, can be either rejecting the blessings in our life by never being satisfied with them, always looking to that fourth cup of rich wine that is just out of reach; or it can be the opposite, being too complacent with what we have, satisfied with adequate, never trying for excellent.
The Chariot, reversed, is being a backseat driver in the vehicle of our life. Instead of taking the reins and controlling the strong positive and negative energies that flow through us, we are like Phaeton, we let them run wild and they run us into a ditch.
So pick a card, any card. Any of the nine above and work on it. Turn it right-side up in your life. Let that high-energy friend in to shake up the foundations a bit, and be willing to say yes to a radical transformation of self.
Blessings to each member of the Shaman's Net!