Flower Power: Meeting A Flower Spirit

Blazing Star

Blazing Star

It’s a new solar year in the northern hemisphere and wildflowers are beginning to appear. It’s a wonderful time of year to explore healing with flowers of any kind, but an even better time to meet and work with wildflower spirits. Wild plants (including wildflowers), according to healer Elliott Cowan, are one thousand times more powerful than domesticated ones. Many flower essences are made from wild species.

Soul travel is a traditional way to meet a wildflower spirit. This is a type of intuitive ability is associated with astral traveling and shamanic journeying. Soul travel can involve staying in my body and expanding my energy field so that it joins with the flower. It can mean going into an altered state of consciousness and feeling my spirit leave my body and speak with the plant spirit. It can also occur during dreams.

If I want to get to know a flower spirit, I visit it in the wild. I observe and even draw or photograph the plant. This allows me to study its physical appearance. I notice where it likes to grow, the soil type and other plants it likes to be around. This “getting acquainted” period may take awhile or move very quickly.

Now I am ready to attune to the flower spirit. Before soul travel, it is important for me to center and ground myself with ceremony. This helps to create sacred space and invites my spiritual helpers to work with me.

Sometimes I will stand or sit near the flower and expand my aura. Cyndi Dale describes this approach in her book, Advanced Chakra Healing. I exhale until I feel my aura merge with the energy field of the flower. I am still in my body, but my spirit will stretch far beyond it. My expanded spirit will activate my inner listening abilities. It is very common to feel like I’ve entered a dream state. This is very real and it doesn’t matter whether I see spirits or do not. The flower spirit may have an immediate message for me or I may ask questions.

The second approach involves going on a shamanic journey. It is important to have a powerful spiritual helper that will accompany me. It is helpful to use a rattle or even whistle a monotonous, rhythmic way for a few minutes to enter a trance state. Some practitioners believe the soul traveller must enter the lower world to meet a flower spirit. This involves finding a hole in the ground that leads to a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, I should meet my spirit helper and begin my journey through the lower world. (This approach has been described in detail by Michael Harner. ) Once I am in the lower world, my intent and spiritual helper will lead me to the wildflower spirit.

Other shamanic practitioners believe that soul travellers can instantly call upon spirit helpers and journey directly to the wildflower before them. This is called a middle world journey. In this journey, I may see the flower as it is or I may see a mythic representation of the flower spirit. It doesn’t matter how the flower or plant appears, I will be able to communicate with it. Although I will be in a trance state, and see things that remind me of a dream, I will not be asleep.

The third approach involves a going on a dream journey. The first time I tried this, I was taking an afternoon nap; I wanted to enter a trance state and can be a heavy sleeper at night. It helps if I can take a little piece of the flower home with me. I try not to injure the rest of the plant and I leave an offering to say thank you. If the plant is protected, I place a clean quartz crystal near its petals and ask for an infusion. I place the wildflower (or infused crystal) underneath my pillow. Before sleeping, I pray or set my intention to have a dream about the flower spirit. Sometimes it is easier to receive information and dreams if I consciously visualize during the hypnogogic state. I trust that whatever I receive in my dream is a message from the spirit.

There are many rewards for working with wildflower spirits. As I have attuned to the spirits or devas of the flowers, they taught me. I have learned a flower’s healing properties without using books. (Of course, I would not ingest anything without receiving instruction from an expert forager and herbalist.) Many wildflowers I “met” turned out to be local healing herbs once used by native healers. It has become easier to locate these flowers in the wild, thanks to the rapport that develops over time. The flowers can be used for spiritual healing just by connecting to their devas.

I will explore some of these rewards in later posts.

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Listening to the Earth: Nature Divination with Cards

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photo: John Connelly

People who practice nature divination assume the earth is a living, wise being. Some refer to this conscious earth energy as Gaia. Gaia constantly communicates with us through psychic messages, signs, and coincidences. Learning to read these signs is a great way to strengthen your connection to nature and helps to develop your energy field and psychic gifts. It’s as if we are hard-wired to communicate with the earth.

People receive messages from nature all the time, but many may not realize it or be comfortable with interpreting them. One way to begin a conversation with Gaia is to find a book about nature omens and look up your latest message from the wild. Since I’m a tarot reader, I was looking for an approach that uses cards.

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photo: Merissa Lovett

I’ve recently discovered Gail Morrison, an eco-therapist and photographer. She has created a fantastic tool called the Earth Deck. (Here are some of the lovely images). So how can this tool cultivate a better relationship with the earth?

Looking at cards creates learning (remember flash cards in school?). The Earth Deck cards draw me in and remind me of time I have spent in nature. The images are lovely symbols that suggest many possible interpretations. I think it’s a wonderful idea and would love to explore this deck.

The Earth Deck also inspired me to create my own set of nature divination oracle cards, based on messages from nature I have received. I have been consciously listening to Gaia since I was 19, so nature divination is very personal and local for me. I needed images of wild places I have visited (Florida, Peru, New Jersey) and natural elements I have communicated with. My partner, John Connelly, generously offered dozens of his lovely nature photographs for my project. I selected and cropped the images to create readable cards. The results are the cards in the photo below.

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When I read with this deck, the pictures combine to tell stories as tarot cards often do. (One card portraying a bird singing combined with another featuring a sunset scene advised me to speak up about my need to relax). They also remind me of experiences when I successfully listened to nature. For example, the first time I “heard” a stream speak to me. The card and memory combine to reinforce the gentle practical advice and mirroring I have received at such moments. This encourages deeper listening in the future.

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photo: John Connelly

I encourage anyone who wants to deepen their connection to nature to try this project or buy an Earth Deck. If you already work with an Earth Deck, why not integrate some of your own special nature photographs into readings? You may encourage a stronger connection to your local nature energies this way.

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2014 is a Chariot Year!

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Sirian Starseed Tarot

Tarot Year Cards are a fascinating way to journey through the Major Arcana symbols. The concept is a fascinating blend of tarot and numerology. There is both a year card for every individual and a global, collective year card. It’s easy to calculate our global year card: simply add 2014 as single digits. So 2+0+1+4=7.

This year is connected to The Chariot, the seventh Major Arcana card. The Chariot represents movement, will, integration of positive and negative emotions. In the Sirian Starseed Tarot, the card depicts Krishna, the spiritual warrior. After The Lovers, our year card for 2013, many of us have collectively had to make choices based on our hearts: to work on issues or projects that we love. We have experienced the polar opposites of high idealism and real collective shadow or negativity.

Now we all leap into motion together this year. Changes will come quickly. It could be turbulent time for us on planet Earth, but after our Lovers year, there is great potential to really understand each other and work together. The Chariot rider has to work in a skillful way with the forces that pull the vehicle forward. He or she can not run roughshod over obstacles, but must learn to go with the flow. The spiritual warrior must commit to his or her goal, yet have detachment. I have a little tarot practice I’m using to do this.

I like to flip through my deck and look for majors that symbolize the questions I am looking for.

High Priestess: what I need to detach from

Sun: What is working

Judgment: what needs to be improved or brought to a new level

Death: what needs to be released

Chariot: how I can move forward with enthusiasm again

Then I draw the first card after that major. These cards symbolize the message of that major. Let’s say I draw the 3 of Pentacles after the High Priestess. I might need to detach from whether my work or resource plan is successful. This allows me to go into the rest of the reading with an open and receptive mind. By the end of the reading I have four more quick answers that allow me to refocus my energies.

I hope this Chariot year brings movement and integration as you pursue what matters to you!

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Part II – Fulfilling Your Soul Purpose

childrenofthesunreadings:

This is a wonderful time to create a mind map. Our 2014 tarot year card is the Chariot. A mind map makes it so much easier to take that leap into the new year with enthusiasm!

Originally posted on My Sacred Journey:

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Happy Solstice everyone! Each year around this time, I create a new “Goal Map” for my coming year, sometimes combined with a Tarot card exploration. On our Oracle Soup podcast (December 27, 2013), Gina Ties and I cover a variety of creative ways to prepare for your new year with the cards. Here, I would like to share with you some special ideas and techniques I utilize to manifest my life’s potential.

Much of the information shared in this post is drawn from a powerful workshop I teach Finding Your Soul Purpose and Path in Life, an experience that helps students identify their strengths and unique skills. These qualities are then condensed into a focus and purpose in their life. Finally, we develop goals and the steps to work toward and ground their vision.

We all have a purpose in life. Those who deny this fact may not be…

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What is a Tarot Counseling Session?

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(Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr) 

I have just finished an eight week class with James Wells called “Tarot Counseling for Self and Others”. This class introduced me to the world of Evolutionary Tarot. The Evolutionary Tarot process encourages a person to create a better, more empowered future. It’s been a fantastic journey and I highly recommend it to anyone who practices divination.

Unlike a traditional tarot reading – an Evolutionary Tarot counseling session does not predict the future.  A person chooses this type of reading because he or she feels blocked or would like to move forward in some area of their life.  The reader (me) uses my intuition and knowledge of the cards to help the client uncover new insights and answers. These insights create new understanding and often shift or begin to shift blocks. The client ultimately answers his or her own question as we work together.

There are three phases of a tarot counseling session:

The question – this involves clarifying what the person wants to create or change. We find the question and I create a custom tarot layout to explore it.

The conversation – this is where we share our observations, feelings, and questions about the cards. During this process, insights emerge.

The action – the querent leaves the tarot session with doable actions and the beginnings of a different mindset about the issue. This process may create small or large meaningful changes over time.

I’d like to share an experience from a recent reading for a client (I’ll call her Kay). She was concerned that she hadn’t made more progress with her job search and a new business she is starting. Kay works in an emerging field. She has had difficulty finding like-minded businesses to partner with.

During her reading, she drew Inanna/The Star from the Goddess Tarot. We were sharing ideas about what was working in her new business when she noticed the ring of stars around the goddess. She had a breakthrough and realized that she had found a way to network with like-minded businesses outside of her usual contacts. The insight gave her more enthusiasm and confidence. Later in the session, she created an action plan that allowed her to move forward after a period of inaction.

If I had been giving a traditional reading, I might have interpreted “The Star” card in that position as an inspiring connection or the forward-looking aspect of her work. We would have looked to the cards for actions to take after the session. The tarot counseling process is different; the action begins during the session because the client has created a new insight.

Of course, this was a relatively simple issue. A tarot counseling session involving more complex issues tends to create changes or insights more slowly. Sometimes change requires multiple sessions.

I am thrilled to be offering Evolutionary Tarot sessions by phone or Skype. If you are interested in exploring one, please contact me at childrenofthesunreadings@gmail.com

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The Green Man Makes An Entrance!

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(The Fool/Green Man from the Sacred Circle Tarot)

I’ve been spending the last month reading with the Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin. The deck features photo collages of megaliths and other holy places in the UK. Like the Greenwood Tarot, reading with this deck helps the land really communicate through the cards.

Last Thursday, I was surprised to draw the Fool/Green Man card from the Sacred Circle Tarot during my reading. It made sense as I’m creating a new project right now. I was intrigued by the energy of the Green Man as a force that could propel someone forward. It makes an interesting companion to the Fool’s association with Uranus, a planet that creates sudden changes or flashes of insight. I’ve always been fascinated by the wild force of nature. I wondered how the energy of that card would manifest in my life that day. Tarot synchronicity is fascinating.

Since it was also my sister’s birthday, the two of us had decided to attend a free lecture given by James Wanless at my local bookstore. He was discussing his recent work: teaching the tarot in Asia, creating an oracle deck called “Sustain Yourself” cards, and publishing a digital book “channeled” by the Green Man!

He told a wonderful story (it’s in the book) about writing a letter to the Green Man and the “vision” that he received afterwards. The Green Man (like the Fool) loves dramatic action! James Wanless was really enthusiastic about his interaction with this archetype and the new book. My sister and I were impressed and I decided to buy the digital book.

I realized this was not just the archetype of the Fool card manifesting in my life, but a real message from the undomesticated nature energies personified by the Green Man. When I’m creating something new, I like to map out the balance between my vision (feminine) and my ability to act on it (masculine). I love using the Heart of Faerie Oracle for this type of reading because it contains so many feminine and masculine images.. So I drew three cards from that deck in the following positions:

What is in balance? Queen of Shadows

What is out of balance (depleted)? The Green Man

What will help restore the balance? The Prince of Light

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I was surprised to see two masculine cards including the Green Man! Clearly, my ability to take action was suffering and needed some support. I’ve made some adjustments and feel more inspired. I have more respect for interplay between cards and nature energies.

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What Is Evolutionary Tarot?

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(Vision Tarot by Dirk Gillabel)

Evolutionary tarot is a concept created by tarot counselor, James Wells. So, what is evolutionary tarot?

This approach to tarot is a lot like an evolutionary astrology consultation:  the astrologer uses a birth chart to help his or her client create growth and integration, instead of predicting the future. For example, both traditional and evolutionary astrologers might notice that Jupiter is currently in the sign of Cancer. A traditional astrologer might say that Jupiter is exalted (read “works really well”) in this sign and enhances connection to family, money , and even food. He or she might predict the likelihood of making more money during this period. Evolutionary astrology looks to the soul first. Instead of predicting potential wealth creation, the evolutionary astrologer might talk about the path from insecurity to inner security (thanks Star Lady!). The reading might focus on how to create more prosperity based on values, beliefs, or consciousness. The astrologer might ask how the client feels about his or her community (the family of humanity). And some evolutionary astrologers don’t believe in planets working better in some signs than others!

An evolutionary approach to tarot takes a similar, soul-oriented approach. During an evolutionary tarot reading, the symbolic language of tarot or oracle cards assists the querent in answering his or her own questions. Evolutionary tarot works in a positive way with all the cards, not to predict the future but to help you create it. I feel it is a flowering of the personal growth tarot tradition championed by teachers like Mary Greer.

James Wells posted the following ideas or principles about this type of tarot on his blog, Circle Ways. If you have used tarot or oracle cards for awareness, shadow work, or self-development, these concepts may be familiar ones. (Used with permission; thanks James Wells!)

Basic Tenets of Evolutionary Tarot (as of November, 2013)

The tarot is not a belief system; it is simply a tool.

All tarot cards are neutral symbols.  There are no “good” cards and there are no “bad” cards.  The card symbols are enlivened by the questions, processes, templates, life experiences, and understanding that we take to them.

Neither the cards nor “fate” make things happen; people make things happen.

Rather than considering a tarot card concept as a noun, it can be helpful to consider it as a verb or process.  E.g. Rather than say, “I’m a High Priestess”, one might say, “I’m High Priestessing.”

Rather than considering a tarot card concept as a blanket statement, it can be helpful to consider it as an open-ended question.  E.g. “The Ace of Pentacles says that you’re successful” can become “The Ace of Pentacles asks, ‘What personal definition of success have you cultivated in response to this endeavour?’”

The tarot practitioner is simply a guide; the person or group who is the subject of the tarot encounter is her/his/its own best expert on her/his/its life.  The tarot encounter is a catalyst for her/him/it to tap into this personal expertise.

The fundamental questions that underlie the tarot encounter include: Who am I?  What questions do I carry in this lifetime?  What is my full potential as a human being?  What script can I write in order to become this?  What are my unique qualities and gifts?  How can I share these with my community and the world in a life-affirming manner?  What do I most need to know or learn at this time?

The tarot encounter’s primary aim is the intensification of a person’s consciousness or self-awareness.  It is an invitation to empowerment.

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My “Fortune” Layout

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I have been working with James Wanless’ book, “Strategic Intuition for the 21st Century: Tarot for Business”. I love the way he uses the Wheel of Fortune card (called “Fortune” in his deck) to map opportunity.

“Fortune is the manifestation of your talents so you are rewarded in return.” – James Wanless

The traditional Wheel of Fortune image symbolizes good and bad luck. In the Voyager Tarot, however, opportunities can arise from fortunate events or even setbacks. Wanless has created a wonderful spread in this book, the “Fortune” spread.

I wanted to design my own layout based on the symbols in this card. The Fortune card usually has four to eight figures rotating around the wheel. Some are lucky; others are suffering. Joseph Campbell, the famous mythologist, describes the center of the wheel as “bliss”. When a person follows their bliss, the ups and downs of fortune are easier to negotiate.

Some tarot decks show Fortune herself in the middle of the wheel. The Voyager “Fortune” card depicts her as a statue that is associated with the Treasures of Dresden. Fortune carries a sparkling diamond (clarity) and a butterfly (growth and change).

Like a medieval Wheel of Fortune, she is surrounded by figures at different positions on the wheel. I have focused on four figures. The golden crown she wears at the top of the wheel symbolizes success. At her right side, a hand spinning the wheel represents risk or where the querent needs to take control. Below her, a matador represents lightness and agility in rough situations. To her left, a roller coaster indicates a fun risk; this is an area where her opportunities are increasing.

So one night I was feeling discouraged by a lack of success with some of my current projects and wanted to use tarot to map my opportunities within this situation.

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Where is my opportunity?

Hand spinning wheel: 5 of Worlds/Setback

This card represents where I need to be cautious.

I need to be careful not to view a lack of success as failure. This can turn into negativity. When I am not successful, it’s an opportunity to rethink my strategy and try again with a better plan.  It’s also important to take time to protect finances and health by avoiding risky actions.

Matador: 3 of Wands/Compassion

This position describes how I can adapt to changing circumstances and create an opportunity.

The 3 of Wands is a card of healing and inspiration.

There is an opportunity to recognize where I am successfully helping, understanding, and reaching out to other people. This “success” grows out of my self-healing work. In order to stay flexible, it is important to make time for this.

Roller coaster: Eight of Wands/Harmony

This card indicates a “lucky” break. I can afford to take a chance in this area.

I can use my abilities to negotiate and bring different people and ideas together. This may be a good time to achieve cooperation with others while respecting their differences or to resolve conflicts within myself. I can take risks by bridging competing activities or concepts within the projects I’m working on. I’ll be able to bring balance.

Crown: Strength

This position of the layout indicates my current successes.

I’m on top of my game when I affirm and showcase my unique strengths. This card is connected to Leo, the astrological sign associated with performers. I have the “strength” to do this right now.

The Center: where I find my bliss.

Blackamoor: Man of Cups/Surfer

This card represents how I can stay open to opportunity.

I open to opportunities by keeping emotionally balanced and helping others to do the same.

Butterfly: Time/Space

I am growing by doing this.

I am beginning a new phase in my life, if I’m willing to embrace change.

Diamond: Eight of Worlds/Change

This is where my thinking is clear and optimistic.

I can adapt and create new strategies. I am most successful when I can recognize trends or track what is interesting to others.

If I keep these three ideas in mind I will be able to stay centered and recognize new opportunities. They are the core message that the rest of the cards flow from.

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Happy Birthday Maria Apaza! In Gratitude to Indigenous People and their Wisdom

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This beautiful photo (thanks to Pachamama Ayni) celebrates the 80th birthday of a Q’ero medicine woman named Maria Apaza. She is an altomisayoq, a carrier of the mountain misa or medicine bundle, and she speaks to the powerful mountain spirits of the Andes. She is a beloved elder and teacher for the Q’ero nation, an Andean Peruvian indigenous community.

She has also shared her wisdom with the world. In the book Light of the Andes, J.E. Williams conveys a powerful spiritual and environmental message that he receives from the mountain spirits; the secret of the Andean path is Ayni or divine reciprocity. We are all connected and our actions weave community or damage it. He then meets with Dona Maria. Speaking as an oracle of the mountain spirits, she confirms important details about his dreams and affirms the truth of his vision. She encourages his teacher, Sebastian, to explain this mission of global service or “Ayni”:

“Then there is a third type, aynimita. This is global Ayni. One’s reason for being is to exist for Ayni, to live for Ayni, to express munay in the world.” –J.E. Williams

This is the lovingkindness or munay that was described in a blog (NowMomentJourney) review of this book. It is a profoundly different way of living and one of the many gifts indigenous people share freely with the world.  It’s an exciting coincidence that today is World Indigenous People’s Day and the beginning of a week of activities that support their rights and culture. Thanks to Kirsten at NowMomentJourney, I have a great list of activities from Planeta.com to check out!

And another beautiful synchronicity comes from the K’iche Maya through Ken Johnson’s work with their sacred calendar, the Tzolk’in.  This indigenous tradition helps people live in harmony with the cycles of time in order to benefit themselves and their community. His interpretation for today ‘s daysign (10 Manik) is:

“Channel the authority and respect that you command within your circles, not for the fulfillment of the ego but for the betterment of those around you… it does not matter if your family or circle of friends is small, or has no significant influence on society. Remember the power of one only needs a few iterations to expand to a massive volume of energy. If you can open the eyes of one, you free a generation.” 

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My “Floating World” Tarot Project

I have admired the Ukiyo-e Tarot by Koji Furuta for many years. It’s a beautiful Marseilles-based tarot with original images inspired by Japanese woodblock prints. The Major Arcana and court cards (like the Queen of Cups) depict scenes from pre-20th century Japanese life: royalty, actors, or geisha. This is the “fleeting, floating world” of Ukiyo-e prints. The “pips” (as cards ace through ten of each suit are called) feature sake cups, coins, samurai swords, and wands.

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My love of Japanese woodblock prints began when I was a child. My grandmother admired and collected these beautiful works of art. She taught me the styles of the masters: Utamaro’s courtesan paintings, Hokusai, Hiroshige. She even gave me one of her treasures: a beautiful book of Ukiyo-e art with lots of color plates.

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For these reasons, the Ukiyo-e Tarot has been on my “wishlist” for years. Unfortunately, it went out-of-print before I could buy a copy. Used decks became outrageously expensive as others admired it too!  I began to imagine creating my own Ukiyo-e style tarot. Like the Furuta/Kaplan deck, it would feature un-illustrated minors with figures on the Major Arcana and court cards.  I’m not a professional artist, but love to draw. Each card contains images borrowed from famous woodblock prints or 19th century Japanese photos.

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These are the first five sketches of minor arcana cards: Ace of Cups, Ace of Swords, Two of Swords, Three of Swords, and Four of Swords. I tested out colors on one of the sketches (top) with pastel pencils.

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I’ll post again as I have “finished” cards.  I’d love to hear what you think!

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