February Last Quarter Moon Tarot Spread

Well, babes, we’ve made it past last week’s super/blue/blood/eclipse/full moon in Leo intensity, and we’ve made it past the heart of winter up here in the Northern Hemisphere. Personally, I had a great ride through the moon (I just let go and dove in, celebrating my own moon in Leo sign) and into Imbolc (one of my favorite markings of the year). It was intense, and a lot of self-doubt popped up, but so did a lot of external affirmations.

And it’s been an introspective week too. I realized as I was sitting down to write this, my week has been filled with long-term relationships…time spent with friends I’ve known for decades, and with Imbolc, thankfulness given to Brigid, the one goddess I’ve consistently honored since I was 14. In short, I spent a lot of time with witches who know me to my core. Just like that new moon in Leo, there is no hiding our shadows when we sit down at a table with those who have known us for so very long. And at the same time, I spent time becoming more connected with new relationships. I see what you did there, universe. How. Very. Fitting.

Which brings us to this time right here, right now. We’re under a last quarter moon in scorpio…which I’ve gleaned has something to do with us all getting to a point where we need to sort out what is working for us, and what isn’t (and TBH I’m not deep into astrology, but lots of other cool folx are…). The days are growing longer. Yeah, it’s still fucking cold out in the northern hemisphere, and, if you’re an a soggy foggy place like the PNW we still gotta get through the incoming and inevitable rain. But the promise of longer sunny days has been given to us.  Now, dear ones, is the perfect time to get those last cobwebs cleaned out of our homes and minds so we can truly give new life room. I mean, the crocuses are already starting to bloom whether we like it or not. So embrace it. Fumigate your house with some dried rosemary and sage. Burn up (or otherwise let go of) those relics from rituals you’ve held on to and no longer need. Tell that nagging little voice in the back of your head that maybe you’re good enough to SFTU and move on. And make a little room for possibilities.

Here’s a tarot spread to help jumpstart that early spring cleaning! I’ve used “The Magician Longs to See” deck, which merges Pixie’s classic with Twin Peaks. I’ve written the card placements as for a self reading, but they can easily be adjusted to be read for someone else. I’ll just call it the “GTFO of my life” spread.

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  1. How can I best allow myself to let go of what no longer serves me?
  2. What is holding me back from letting go of this?
  3. What still needs to be resolved in order for me to move on?
  4. How can I best move forward?
  5. What do I need to focus on as I move forward?

 

Card six in the above spread is a clarifying card based on 5. The 2 of coins, which represents a balance of material duties, can often point to the energy exerted to maintain that balance, and can further point to emotional labor. As that was my ending card, and I certainly can maintain the juggling act, I needed a little extra clarification as to why. Thank goodness for clarifying cards.

Xoxoxo,

Colleen

Originally posted on the Night Flowers Tarot Collective blog Come see me at a monthly event. I’d love to chat and maybe even go get a damn fine cup o’ coffee and a piece of cherry pie at Twede’s Cafe.
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Prisma Visions: an Introspective Deck

The PNW is back to being a soggy grey mess after a week of sun. This Mercury in retrograde is still particularly harsh and kicking the ass of every intuitive and empath I know. The end of the year will be here shortly, and with it brings new opportunities and resolution. But before we get there, we’ve gotta hold space for reflection and letting go of what happened (or didn’t) in 2018.

Which has me looking back to the Prisma Visions tarot. Prisma Visions is one of the first decks I deeply connected with in my journey back into Tarot. And it’s a good one for looking at ourselves, our lives, our dreams, and even our shadow selves. It’s a deck with a LOT of visual information though, and the art edges on a psychedelic journey. I like a lot of visual information, especially when I am working on sorting out a lot of inner clutter, but that’s just a personal style thing.

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More than anything The Prisma Visions tarot is overtly empowering. The five of cups becomes about actively letting go. The two of swords becomes about actively looking at and discerning our choices. The Magician openly acknowledges the manipulation that comes with the power to manifest. And Justice speaks to action. And there’s a bonus card… the first edition has “strawberry,” the second “the gift,” the third boasts “illumination.” And also, all the suits line up into 4 beautiful panoramic pieces, and truly highlight the journey of each suit.

 

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The decks predecessor, the Light Visions Tarot, which is a more sepia mono-toned deck, is also available in limited quantity. I thought about grabbing one before they sell out, but as much as I love collecting decks, I had to ask myself what purpose it would serve me that the Prisma doesn’t serve, and ultimately decided to pass.

Deck Unveiling: Dark Days Tarot

Favorite month = favorite deck! Dark Days Tarot, a small-run independent deck, came rather recently. The deck is square, and instead of being read in just upright or reversed positions, the cards are meant to be read 4 ways (don’t worry, the guidebook covers each directional reading). It’s a really great concept that lets you dive in much deeper than many other decks.

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The deck, inspired by the dark moon, lets us delve into our shadow selves, exploring our dreams, desires, and the unexplored crevices of our subconscious. And it’s is queer as hell, and full of mermaids.

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Plus, Wren has one of the most extensive websites I’ve seen devoted to a single deck, and sends out a tarot newsletter with every dark moon. Go get lost in the magic at DarkDaysTarot.com

Welcome, October

Whoooo hooo!! Time for my (and many others) favorite month! Outwardly, it means getting less side-eye when wearing spirit-board leggings and or my resin quail skull necklace. It also, a little weirdly, means I get a little nicer. I find myself saying shit like “Oh, you want a free 3-hour tarot reading? sure, why not!” or “Here’s the perfect combination or crystals and herbs, I think, for you… what’s that, you want me to make you a charm bag? no problem!” Or, in other words, the outward emotional labor of witching in October verges on, well, fun. Also! Halloween parties! Costumes! Old classic witchy movies! Silly B-grade horror movies! Down right terrifying movies! So. Many. Movies!

But October is so much more than the outward display and fun. For me, it’s a time to make a concerted effort to focus inward by refocusing on pursuits like knitting, weaving, writing or drawing left ignored under the summer sun, to get the last of the household duties tied up and put to rest as the earth seems to go to rest, and to (re)connect with and step my game on honoring ancestors (by blood or choice or respect). It’s a chance to make a concerted effort to honor them, in some way, every day (and it’s, of course, also the month where they are most likely to answer back). My dreams get wild in the fall.

Since moving I still haven’t fully gotten all my little altars up everywhere, but I wanted to make sure my house altar was cleaned and pretty close to finished by October 1st. My house altar is literally a house (thanks, Ikea!) and I love it! It includes photos of my blood ancestors, trinkets from dead relatives and friends, and, in one room, trinkets and photos of my living family. There are many schools of thought on mixing altars to the dead with altars to the living, and I sit in the camp that it’s just fine, and more powerful, in some ways, to have the ones we love(d) in close proximity watching over us. Even so, our little family household is in a room to it’s own, connected, yet disconnected.

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It still needs a little work, but some photos and trinkets need to be tracked down, and as they pop up they’ll be added. One of the aspects I wanted to honor in my house alter was hard truths–there’s a lot of history of mental illness and substance abuse throughout my blood lines. There’s also extreme resilience (and stubbornness) and grit. The blue of the candle is to bring some peace and harmony, and the raw amethyst and rose quartz (both which I haven’t used on a regular basis in a long time, but am trying to soften myself to and be more open to using) is to bring some healing, balance, and clarity to all of us, living and dead. Whiskey in my great grandmothers teacup is for all us femme spitfires. And fresh water because it’s the least I can do. My core family space also houses lavender from our wedding, a peach pit (love and protection), and tiger iron (protection and clarity).

What does October mean to you, and how are some ways you honor that?

Breakfast Witchery

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, but I did run off into the woods for a few days and ended up spending time with some of my favorite folks at one of my favorite places. And I ended up doing a bunch of tarot readings, and running a (moderately/ kind-of-sort of but not really) successful candle workshop (also reworking how/ when/ for whom/ I do future workshops). Not a bad way to spend the weekend after the equinox.

In the midst of that I saw a little blip go up on one of my social media feeds asking for self-forgiveness witchy spells/ herbs/ stones etc. I drummed up a few things I could think of and relayed them, and then of course ruminated about it for a week.

The thing about self-forgiveness is, I think, it’s a newer concept and likely more supported by the more neo-pagan branches (this is totally just an educated guess + hunch) where self-care + self-forgiveness language is so prevalent. But what about those of us witches that choose to follow more folklorist or reconstructionist paths where, even when our personal or secular community use this language, our witch paths don’t? I can’t speak for others, but I rely (as i suspect many of us do) on the already paved traditions to inform strategies for spells and rituals that are relevant for the present time.

So. Back to self-forgiveness. I started by looking at general forgiveness, reconciliation, and general sweetness. And then with self. And came up with two very simple breakfast recipes for self forgiveness.

Yogurt with Figs + Honey

Whole Day, Taste Test

Honey (or agave or maple syrup) is the sweetener of choice here. There are threads of figs in reconciliation work here and there-not quite as popular as other fruits, but they are in season where I live and delicious, so I’ll give them their dues. Once I mentioned honey and figs in the same sentence, the yogurt (kite hill…yum…) and breakfast idea just seemed so obvious. Taking the time to thoughtfully put together a nice meal for oneself, while focusing on being sweet and forgiving, and then ingesting the spell while you think about why you are forgiving yourself and what you want to let go of, may be a rather nice way to start the morning.

Cinnamon Toast

Cinnamon toast is a comfort food for me, and when I blurted out sugar and cinnamon it’s where my mind naturally gravitated. Sugar is the sweetener of choice here. The cinnamon speaks to prosperity, but also reconciliation and love. I recommend thinking about the reasons why you love yourself while mixing a blend of sugar and cinnamon together to put on your toast, and again, reflecting on forgiving yourself and being sweet to yourself while enjoying your breakfast.

Simple, maybe. But that’s how everyday witchcraft works.

xoxo.

 

 

Slow Holler Tarot

The Slow Holler deck is a queer, collaborative deck based out of North Carolina. According to the Slow Holler collective, “One of the goals of this project is to amplify southern voices, voices with southern ties, queer voices, and voices that speak from the intersections of those identities.” And Babe, does it ever!

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The Slow Holler Tarot is really one of my favorite decks to come out in the last few years. It’s one of the few collaborative decks I’ve found that is seamless, despite having work contributed from 30 different artists. Although you can certainly tell the pieces are made by various artists, it almost seems the same divine inspiration flowed through each artist when they were creating their cards. Also, there is something about the bone deep ripples of resignation and resilience that I found when I lived in the deep south (that also perhaps become amplified when also existing in queer or other communities) that comes through in this deck. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t touched those feelings, and in part, I think this is one reason why I connect so strongly to the Slow Holler deck.

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It’s also queer, queer, queer, and destroys binaries and the hierarchies on which more traditional decks are built. Slow Holler is artistic and poetic resistance. This also comes through in my readings. I find each deck I use has their own distinct personality, and Slow Holler is no different. The cards smash any illusions we are holding on to with an iron fist, calling us out completely and brutally. But only, I think, so we can fully commit to bettering ourselves.  I find I often read using this deck for people when they are incredibly vulnerable under calm exteriors and inevitably all sorts of shit gets stirred up and brought to the surface. In short, it’s not a deck to use if you aren’t willing to be cracked open a little and willing to do the work to move forward from whatever muck you find yourself stuck in. And it’ll help guide you where you need to go if you commit to listening.

 

Book review: Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea

y648I just finished the last page of Modern Tarot: Connecting with Your Higher Self through the Wisdom of the Cards, by Michelle Tea. Tea effectively demonstrates using tarot for personal guidance, and looks at the tarot through a queer, politicized lens. She’s not the first to do this, of course (Cassandra Snow, Andi Grace, Maranda Elizabeth + more all have posts and ongoing series over at Little Red Tarot–and throughout the web–that focus on looking at tarot through various lenses), but it’s refreshing having a complete guide that can be used across decks in book format. And the Modern Tarot boasts 1-3 spells accompanying each card meaning. Also the artwork by Amanda Verwey is an updated and fresh take on the classic RWS deck–fingers crossed it gets printed someday!

It’s a fast and enjoyable read, peppered with stories of how Tea derived certain meaning for the cards from her personal life. But I found the card meanings far from original and innovative. A good beginner book, especially for the social-media politically active minded, but fair warning that if you’re familiar with the tarot already you may not find a bunch of creative meanings between these covers. I mean, honestly, I’ve read more than a few fresh takes on the 7 of cups lately that call it the FOMO card. And now I can add Tea’s interpretation to that list. That said, there were a few nuggets in there, mainly focused on small symbolism in the RWS cards that are not usually focused on in intro books—I’m not calling Modern Tarot a waste of time by any means, but I am saying I didn’t find it as groundbreaking as the bulk of Goodreads reviewers.

Halfway through the Major Arcana I decided to focus on the spells corresponding with the cards. Crystal correspondences and herbal infusion/ tea drinking reflections abound, but there’s also candle spells, herb mixes, and a variety of other spellwork. I always enjoy hearing others opinions on meanings and ritual, and learning how others follow their craft. For the most part I quite enjoyed the spell sections. The spells are calls to act directly with the energy of the cards and the influences happening right. Fucking. Now. In YOUR life. I love that.

But I’ll also say that the tenants of “Be Smart. Be Sensible. Be safe.” Seemed to sometimes fly out the window completely. Dressing a candle with chili oil or including a whole chili in a handcrafted candle, even with the warning to burn outside is careless. I mean, I could also go spritz some pepper spray in my own face, but I think I’ll pass. Thanks. And to be honest, I find some of Tea’s writing socially careless as well. We live in an age where social support and programs are being stripped away by politicians in record speed. The careless remark of “people on government assistance are afraid to get a job because they’ll lose their paltry paycheck,” seems not only dismissive, but downright dangerous at this juncture in US society.

In the end, if you want to read Modern Tarot, you should go for it. There ultimately is enough between the covers to make it a worthwhile read. Just read it with an ounce of skepticism.

 

Working with Ancestor Dirt

On a shelf in my alter-bookcase (literally what it sounds like…a bookcase where some of the shelves serve as resource + supply storage, and where some of the shelves serve as alters) sits my great-grandmother’s candy jar. It’s a common thing, made of depression glass, but it’s pretty. I remember it on our kitchen growing up, holding conversation hearts near St. Valentine’s Day. When we moved into our current house I rescued it from thrift store donation, knowing its new purpose as I brought it inside. So now it sits on a shelf in my alter-bookcase, and holds ancestor dirt. Probably not what my great-grandmother ever intended, but hey, at least it’s still hanging out with family!

It took me years to begin using ancestor dirt in my practice (for reference, I am 35. I started practicing magic in high-school, and it’s been a winding process with pauses and sprints and changes of directions all along the way. It’s still that way. And I’m okay with that… but more on that another day). And I certainly didn’t waltz into a graveyard one day and just grab a handful of dirt and be on my way. When I started entertaining working with ancestor dirt I had already been paying respects by helping tend some of the family graves for years. One branch of my family ancestors are highly concentrated in a small-town cemetery in central Washington. There are hundreds of, if not over a thousand, living family members in the surrounding areas. But there are only a handful of us who go out yearly and tend graves.

So by the time I committed to working with dirt as a form of working with energy (as opposed to exclusively working esoterically with energy), I was already familiar with the physical site, who was where, familial relationships, and the energy strengths and weaknesses of my resting family. And now when I tend graves, I am the only one who brings gifts other than flowers (not that I am docking flowers at all–my living relatives that also tend graves bring flowers from their gardens, including roses started from the bush our matriarch brought from Germany over a century ago. That’s pretty witchy in itself).

I am lucky to have record and knowledge of these things. I know who to ask for dirt if I am looking for feminist glass-ceiling breaking energy. I know who to ask for dirt if I need strong empathy. Or need some help buckling down and doing hard work. Or creating strong foundations at home. Or who is simply not going to be OK with their dirt being used.  Like, EVER. All of this comes from years of chatting with my ancestors as I pulled weeds from around their headstones and brushed dirt from carved names and inscriptions.

I’ve also learned to not take more than I need, to ask, to listen for answers, to spend some session just tending, and to bring libations to offer. I’ve learned that although I have blood relations I work with, ancestors, or the energy from the dead that I might choose to work with do not necessarily have to be blood relatives. They just have to be someone I have a relationship with, either before or after death. And a solid relationship at that, based in tending and learning + remembering. I’ve learned to walk out of graveyards backwards, sprinkling salt on the threshold as my feet cross, as a form of respect. And to bathe afterwards, which i usually do after most magical work. working with my ancestor’s energy through dirt has been, like all things witchy for me, a slow and reflective path, but so very worth it. And it’s helped me to recognize being a witch means to not always work in safety and comfort. And that’s how it should be.

Time to Slow Down

It’s been a pretty tough few weeks, and now it’s time to slow down, in some big ways. Physically I have too–Since I was walking to the pool with my family right before the wedding of a dear family friend when I fell and completely jacked up my foot. Like, seriously. My foot now has some pretty extreme cuts and road rash, and the impact of falling with my entire body weight on my foot has left it bruised, beat up and swollen.

I had been feeling quite overwhelmed and scattered, in regards to work, life, and my spirituality. And the foot incident has been a big wake up call that it’s time to SLOW. THE. FUCK. DOWN. So I am listening in regards to all aspects of my life. Instead of reading 10+ books at once on witchery, I’ve decided to focus on just two (the Poetic Edda and Modern Tarot). And I’ve taken steps to take the necessary care and rest for my foot to heal. Work is still moving at the speed of light, but 2 outta 3 ain’t bad.

Two tangible things that I’ve done is to visit an herbalist, and I’ve been soaking my foot nightly in a Calendula/Comfrey blend soak (wonderfully antiseptic and has sped up the healing process for my extreme road rash). I’ve also been relying on a cane to walk, but also thinking about how this can stands in as a magical wand or staff (My friend Maranda writes amazingly about this). And just trying to find some silver lining in dealing with some very real pain outside of my everyday chronic pain.

Because our witchery can sometimes be found in the most mundane.

What are some ways you incorporate your witchy self into your everyday?

Ostara Tarot Unboxing

It took me a bit longer than expected to get the Ostara Tarot, a collaborative deck by Vancouver, B.C. art school friends Molly Applejohn, Eden Cooke, Krista Gibbard & Julia Iredale. It was a classic comedy of errors, but the deck finally arrived. Maybe I was still a little butt-hurt from the months it took to get the deck, but I’m not quite as pleased with it as I thought I would be.

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As a fellow Vancouver, B.C. art school grad, I want to like it more than I do, perhaps out of some feeling of camaraderie. But I don’t. Which isn’t to say I don’t like the deck, or will be getting rid of it any time soon. The deck is cohesive. It flows calmly through the fool’s journey, and the overall vibe is one of calm. But a resolute calm, one that stands strong and quiet during the conflict that surrounds. Which makes sense as the deck is named after the vernal equinox which leads cold winter into spring.

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A few of my favorite cards in the deck include the two of cups, represented by birds, the ten of swords showing a pierced humpback whale (not enough to destroy them though, I think), and the 4 of pentacles, showing a rabbit wearing an eye patch in a boat with her riches.

The images I most connect to are the animal representations. The human representations in the deck, on the other hand, at time ride that fine line between appreciation and representation, and appropriative stereotypes. It’s also pretty heteronormative. I would connect more to the deck if the humans were left out all together and the Ostara Tarot had just been an animal based deck.

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A few more cards in the deck I am drawn to include the ace of swords with a mouse perched on a sword sticking out of a skeleton’s ribs, the world, breaking apart in space, the queen of pentacles, a warrior queen holding her babe close, surrounded by her shield, animals, and drying herbs and flowers.

The deck itself is standard tarot deck size. It’s beautifully printed on sturdy weight paper and gloss coated. And it has silver gilded edges. The guidebook and box are high quality as well, and I’ve found the cards physically easy handle. All in all, I’m going to give this deck a chance, and be open to where that road leads. I’m just a little bit disappointed for a deck I was really looking forward working with.