Looking Twice


When receiving a tarot reading, my favorite moment occurs when the reader asks me a question or reveals a message that I did not see coming. It’s a delightful shock that often changes my point of view. I love to read tarot for myself but missed those experiences that another reader can offer. So I’ve gathered a few tricks I like to use to challenge myself when I read solo. One of my favorite tricks is looking twice. The following is from my journal and uses the Thoth Tarot:

8 of Wands/Swiftness

This first look often represents situations, emotions and actions that I am aware of.

My first glance falls on the pattern of lines radiating from the center, as well as the astrological glyphs for Mercury in Sagitarius. The eight lines remind me of the equinoxes, solstices, and their midpoints: the wheel of the year. I think of my goal to bring together the different areas of my work. I feel like I am being pulled in many directions. How can I find a theme for this year, a synthesis? Which role should I focus on?

The second look represents something that exists at the edges of my awareness or that I’m unaware of.

I look back at the cards. This time I am searching for an image or symbol that I have not seen the first time. I notice the diamond shape in the center with its tones of yellow, green and blue. Above the diamond is a rainbow and its colors are reflected within the diamond crystal. I ask myself what it reminds me of.

Crystals and rainbows remind me of healing. I realize what brings my work together: it’s my role as a healer.

Of course, this flash of insight and understanding is the life experience associated with this card. Fortunately, it can easily happen with any other card.

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Following My Earth Dharma

A card from my Nature Energy Deck

A card from my Nature Energy Deck

This simple card layout is one of my favorite ways to receive energetic support and nurturing from the earth. I draw one tarot and one oracle card to help me explore this connection.

I drew these two cards a few months ago, one from the Quantum Tarot and the other from a nature energy oracle deck.

Which nature energy wants to connect with me?
Mockingbird singing in a Slash Pine (Nature Energy Deck)

The first card is from a deck that I use for nature divination. I had recently begun grounding with trees again. When I drew this card, I was intrigued by the bird as it refers to songbird divination, something I had not tried recently.

Which area of my life will nature assist me with?

7 of Pentacles from the Quantum Tarot 2.0

7 of Pentacles from the Quantum Tarot 2.0

7 of Pentacles (Quantum Tarot 2.0)

I immediately thought of ways to improve my health or connection to nature.

Living the reading

Part of this reading involved living the energies by noticing how they help to create change. I worked with the tree by putting my back against it. As I did this, I began to note the tree was assisting me in balancing my energy. Sometimes I needed to focus on my feet, opening up my energy centers to grounding. Other times, I could barely feel the sun or wind on my hair because I was so concerned with practical matters. As soon as I received this awareness, I often experienced shifts in my chakras like my heart or solar plexus. Other people who have tried this experience similar shifts, often creating healing. This type of cooperation with a tree is a little like “earthing”.

I also began to receive synchronistic messages from the water birds at a bayou nearby. They would cross my path when I asked if this was a time to delve more deeply into my shamanic studies. For months I had been receiving messages from the cards that I needed to learn more about sound in healing work. I had been working with my rattle every day. After doing this reading, I also started whistling with my rattle. Over time, the whistling became a little song. One day, when I was feeling low-energy, I whistled the little healing song while walking in some woods with my partner. I immediately felt an improvement in my energy level. At that moment,I heard the birds singing – making whistling sounds. My partner even noticed that the healing song sounded like the birds.

This is a little taste of how tarot and oracle cards can encourage better rapport with nature- and create a healthier life.

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Meeting Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

You’ve heard of people who talk to plants. So how do plants talk to people? Flower reading is one of the ways.

You might think herbalists read about healing wild plants in books and then go looking for them in the woods. Often it happens in reverse. You see a plant and something about it looks different or appealing. As Steven Buhner writes, it’s like meeting a special person. Then you read the books.

Beautyberry is this kind of plant. I first noticed its vivid fuschia-colored berries. Callicarpa americana is its botanical name: American Beautyberry. I began working with Beautyberry during wildflower readings with great results. I left offerings to this special plant and tracked its growth cycle. I read books like “Florida Ethnobotany” and discovered that the Creek Indians valued Beautyberry.

I felt a connection to this plant and wondered why.

So last fall, I attended a wild medicinal plants walk with herbalist, Bob Linde. We had examined a few local herbs and briefly stopped next to a large bush with brilliant fuschia berries. It was Beautyberry! Bob plucked one of the leaves, explaining that they made a wonderful natural mosquito and stinging insect repellant. I don’t like commercial insect repellents (including natural products from the health food store) so I eagerly tried rubbing one of the leaves on my bare skin. Beautyberry leaves turned out to be the ideal remedy for my skin, protecting me from insect bites with no side effects.

This taught me something that went beyond studying herbalism in books, as valuable as those books often turn out to be. It showed me that the plants I need the most often communicate to me intuitively long before I learn their uses. The books and teachings clarify and confirm what I am already beginning to sense.

I would never take an herb without receiving instruction from an expert! And it isn’t that flower divination and healing will replace an herbal book; it’s that books might not show you the herb that is right for you. It often takes growing or visiting a plant in the wild, combined with study, to truly start that connection. And flower divination is a fun and easy way to begin.

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Elements in the Crystal Ally Cards

Fulgurite/Prayer by Naisha Ahsian

Fulgurite/Prayer by Naisha Ahsian

Naisha Ahsian, creator of the Crystal Ally Cards, spoke recently about her work with the elements and crystal healing. She sees humanity as a part of the multicellular organism called Gaia. We are Gaia’s nervous system- the part that can think and process information consciously. We can link with the elements associated with crystals in order to heal our relationship with the earth- and ourselves.

All Crystal Ally Cards are associated with one of five elements: earth, water, fire, wind, and storm. As the creator of this system, Naisha imagines these elements as the four directions and center of the medicine wheel. They represent energetic interactions within our bodies and the earth. Earth creates structure. Fire empowers us to create. Water allows us to feel and relate. Wind allows us to think and receive intuitive guidance. Storm represents the center of the medicine wheel, where all the elements unite with incredible power.

The earth element represents the earth’s tectonic plates, mountains, continental shelves, and all rocks. These are the bones of the earth. Earth element crystal allies are associated with healing bones, teeth, and other structural parts of the body. They also represent the resources that we use to create our lives: money, time management, physical health, and family. Earth ally stones tend to be black, brown, or red. The element is associated with the root chakra and the Earthstar, a chakra located underneath the feet.

The fire element represents the lava and magma of the earth. In an individual, this

Rhodonite/Talents by Naisha Ahsian

Rhodonite/Talents by Naisha Ahsian

element represents sexuality, hormonal balance, and digestion. It also represents our careers or our empowerment – the ability to create, act, and manifest. The fire element stones tend to be red, orange, or yellow. This element is associated with the sacral and solar plexus chakras.

The water element represents the oceans and all the waters of the earth, as well as the rain cycle. In an individual, this element governs circulation, the lymphatic system, the heart, and cellular communication. It also represents our ability to feel, communicate, heal, and empathize with others. In a chakra reading, the water element is associated with the heart and throat chakras. Water ally stones tend to be green, blue, or pink.

The wind element represents air and the winds. In an individual, this element relates to respiration, the immune system, memory, and the nervous system. It also represents our ability to link our conscious minds with the universal mind and receive divine guidance. Wind element stones tend to be blue, purple, or clear. In a chakra layout, wind is associated with the third eye and crown chakras.

Storm represents the power of the earth to cleanse itself by combining all the elements together. It represents powerful and dramatic evolutionary changes on our planet. In an individual, storm element stones are often called master healing stones. The storm element is associated with big changes and soul issues or gifts impacting the personality. These stone allies are assisting humanity to evolve and transform. Storm governs all the chakras. It also activates out-of-body energy centers like the Soulstar chakra, located above the head.

Naisha says that at the storm element level, all the other elemental energies are accessible. When you are experiencing storm energy, you can recognize the element that is out of balance by the area of life that you are focusing on.

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Flower Reading and Healing: Getting Started

Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

(The following is from my free email series “Learn Flower Reading and Healing”. Sign up here to read more).

Sometime today, take a walk outdoors.

Find a flower that appeals to you.

Ask to connect to its healing spirit.

Weeds or native wildflowers are also wonderful healing spirits! Many herbalists believe that native wildflowers are much more powerful than cultivated ones.

When you find your flower, notice if you:

See it or even see its aura
Hear it (sometimes flowers talk)
Feel it or just stop walking in front of your flower.
Or an animal might show you the flower!

These clues will help you understand how plants communicate with you.

Flowers also communicate through color. There is an interesting similarity between the colors of the rainbow and flower symbolism, including Victorian Flower Language. There will be more information about color symbolism in the next email, but here are some examples:

Color Symbol                      Flower Essence               Victorian Flower Language

Red= vitality, passion            Rose =love                        Rose- passion, physical needs

Yellow= success                   Sunflower=confidence        Sunflower- dazzling

Blue-violet= dreams               Vervain=stress                  Vervain-enchantment

White-purpose                       Lily=integrated ideals          Lily-purity

Hint: if you only know a flower’s color symbolism, flower language meaning, or essence use, you have insight into the other two categories!

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Balanced Light of the Sun: Equinox Three Worlds Shuffling for Tarot

4 of Cups: Xultun Tarot

4 of Cups: Xultun Tarot

I have admired shamanic traditions from the Americas for many years, Maya and Andean mysticism. Shamanic cultures believe there are three worlds. The lower world is associated with inherited family patterns, the unconscious, healing animal and plant spirits. The middle world describes our conscious mind, ordinary reality and our relationship to this beautiful world. The upper world represents a shamanic realm of celestial spirits including star energies as well as the higher self.

The Maya believe the equinox sun radiates balanced light to the four directions. This balanced energy offers an opportunity to integrate the three worlds. I use this tarot practice inspired by James Wells.

Cut the deck into three piles. Shuffle the first pile of cards while asking for insight into the unconscious. Then add the next pile of cards by shuffling with the first. I ask to become aware of my relationship to the world or my unconscious. Then add the remaining cards and continue shuffling. I asked the shuffled cards to reveal my message for the Spring Equinox. The top card represents the action to take. A card from the bottom of the deck symbolizes an unconscious block.

Action to Take: 4 of Cups

This is a card about taking steps to create good relationships and to balance my emotions. Tomorrow just happens to be 4 (Kan) Cauac in the Mayan Sacred Calendar (Tzolk’in). Kan represents the four directions, the equinoxes and solstices. I’m happy that I will be celebrating the balanced energies of the Spring Equinox with friends. This is a chance to allow the spiritual traditions, symbolized by the “hand” glyph (the daysign Manik) on the right of the card.

Xultun Tarot: The Lovers

Xultun Tarot: The Lovers

Block: The Lovers

The Lovers carry a clouded mirror that almost reflects their images, but is distorted. This feels like a literal representation of relationships as mirrors. I want to clearly see that mirror by feeling deeply, letting the wonderful experience of friends and ceremony align me with the beginning of spring.

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The Lovers: A Reading for Inner Harmony

Aquarian Tarot: The Lovers

Aquarian Tarot: The Lovers

This Valentine’s Day post is not about romance – or Valentine’s Day. Although I’m incredibly lucky to live with my wonderful partner and best friend, I have never liked Valentine’s Day and its exclusive focus on couples.

In the last few years, I have discovered a new way to look at this holiday: it’s a celebration devoted to opening my heart. Like The Lovers card above, it as much about inner harmony and embracing my deepest heart’s desires as it is about celebrating a soul mate relationship. Communicating with myself is one of the most important parts of maintaining this relationship. And tarot is a fantastic way to encourage this dialogue with myself. I like to record the following tarot practice in my journal.

If you have a tarot deck, or any deck with a card that depicts two people, pull The Lovers card (or the card with two people). Choose one person to represent your feelings or wishes (I call this the “inner feminine”). The other person will represent your ability to act on those wishes (some call this the “inner masculine”).

Think about an area of your life. Look at The Lovers or your chosen card. Which figure catches your eye? Do you see the “wishes/feelings” symbol or the “action” symbol? The figure you choose represents the self-part that needs to talk. Usually, this self-part has been neglected.

Place the card back into the deck and shuffle. Then flip through the cards until you reach The Lovers again (or your chosen oracle card). Draw the next card. This card is a message from the self-part.

In my case, when I pull The Lovers card, I notice the female figure first. She has a message for me about my feelings or wishes. So I re-shuffle the deck and flip over cards until I reach The Lovers again. The next card is the Eight of Cups reversed.

Aquarian Tarot: 8 of Cups

Aquarian Tarot: 8 of Cups

I read a reversed Cup card as private (or not ready to go public) emotional or intuitive experience. Eights indicate that I may be ready to commit after a period of exploration. Those overturned cups remind me not to get caught up in emotion and “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. And I notice how the moon is the foundation of the image, supporting the entire scene.

My inner feminine wants me to know that it’s time to focus and not be distracted by emotions. I don’t want to miss a subtle, significant message coming from my intuition or dreams.






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Meeting the Spirits with Tarot: Lowerworld Journey Layout

Gaian Tarot: The Moon

Gaian Tarot: The Moon

This tarot layout is inspired by one of the divinations performed by shamans, the lowerworld journey. During a journey, the shaman begins with a question or intent, journeys through a tunnel into the lowerworld, and travels with a power animal or other spirit allies to retrieve helpful information. This layout can be used with tarot or oracle cards. You may want to try it with a deck you are getting to know. I chose the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.

lowerworld layout copy

1. Flip through a tarot or oracle deck, cards face up. Select two cards that illustrate your intent for this journey. These cards represent your question and guard the tunnel entrance.

  1. Turn the cards face down and shuffle. Select a third card to represent a spirit ally that will guide you in your journey.
  1. Pull three (4,5,6) more cards. These represent energies that you need to bring into your life. You may choose to meditate or journal with one of these cards.

What is my intent for this journey? Explorer of Fire and The Magician

The Explorer looks like she is dancing to the rhythm of the Magician’s drum. I want to learn how to explore this deck and bring the world of my dreams and daily life together.

The Way There (The tunnel) Two of Water

I will connect with this deck through my heart, by paying attention to what I love and what resonates with me.

The Lowerworld Two of Fire, The Star, The Moon

This deck will help me take on a new creative challenge and allow me to be inspired. (Starlight is a very inspiring nature energy that I connect with often). My dreams will guide me through this. I often choose one or two of the “lowerworld” cards to explore through dreams. More about that soon.

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Bringing the Light into the Dark of Winter

Polaris/Unity and Orion/Osiris reversed

Polaris/Unity and Orion/Osiris reversed

The winter solstice ushers in longer days. It also brings creative intentions that I want to manifest over the following year. I love this short (2 card) layout that James Wells created for his Circle Ways blog. It’s perfect for early winter when our plans are just beginning to take shape. In winter, the nights are still long and starlight is one of the most powerful energies in nature. Since I’m creating an oracle deck based on star wisdom, I chose it for this reading.

What light is coming into my life since the Solstice? Polaris/Unity

Polaris is the North Star, the guiding light for travelers and wanderers. This star helps to unify a person’s life or brings people together. I’ve begun bringing a new type of healing work into my practice since the solstice. I’m also working on a new version of this card so I feel fortunate to have drawn it for this position.

How can I begin to express this light? Orion/Osiris reversed

I read a reversed card as a private or personal process that may (or may not) be shared with others in the future. Both Orion and Osiris are mythological figures associated with rebirth and masculine structures like kingship. The focus is on making things work. This is a time when I’m learning more about the new healing work and beginning to remake this card. Last weekend, I completed a Photoshop sketch I’ll be using to plan my design.

Polaris photoshop "sketch"

Polaris photoshop “sketch”

What light are you bringing into this new year?

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World Tarot Year Card: 2015 is a “Strength” Year!

Tarot of Dreams: Strength

Tarot of Dreams: Strength

Tarot is celebrating a new year, too. After a turbulent and very active Chariot year, we are heading into a year of personal and societal expression: Strength. Strength is the eighth Major Arcana card and the sum of the individual numbers in 2015 :(2+0+1+5=8). This is a year of intense passions, but the passions are organized around finding out what matters to each of us!

Happy New Year!

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