The Work of the Moon

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For Seekers – Justice – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Tarot

Wednesday night’s Journey into Tarot session brought us the energy and wisdom of The Moon. In preparing for the meditation, I was particularly inspired by how the moon teaches us about cycles and shows us that dark and light are a part of the whole as in the Gaian Tarot Moon. The work of our lives includes both the void and the peak.

After the meditation I went to bed and dreamed about separating my Tarot deck into 3 piles: one of cards I desired and made me excited; one of cards that repelled or scared me; and a pile of cards that I felt neutral about or indifferent to. I half-woke up and stayed with the dream. I wondered about what to do with these piles. I imaged them telling different stories about a person’s life. I mused about how this might be a Tarot process for self-discovery and healing.

Since this seed idea came from a dream following a Moon meditation I was compelled to follow through! I spent time yesterday fleshing out the process and testing it out on myself. The process that follows can be done by someone who knows nothing about the Tarot just working intuitively with cards or someone with lots of Tarot experience. It does call for an investment of time but the reward is actively engaging with the energy of the Moon for healing and wholeness.

I’ll lay out the steps and then follow with some examples from my own work with the process.

Step 1:  Pick a deck to work with that will support intuitive, gut responses to the cards. This would be a good process to do with a new deck that offers images and themes that you have not yet mastered. The deck should also offer a range of mood and meaning in its imagery. From what I have seen and what people have been saying, this would be a good process to do with your new Mary-El Tarots. As much as you know I love the Gaian Tarot, I’m not sure it would work well with this process as the images most often show healing already in motion / achieved. I choose the Haindl deck with its mystical artwork and intense key words and images.

Step 2:  Do a first, very quick sort of the deck into 3 – 4 piles: one of cards you are attracted to and desire; one of cards that repel or scared you; and a pile of cards that don’t elicit much of response or emotion. If you find some cards that both attract and repel you or that represent something you both hope for and fear, go ahead and make a fourth pile of these. Do this sorting very quickly, without logical thought or counting.

Step 3: Reduce the number of cards that you are going to work with. Put aside the neutral cards (you’re done with them) and reduce the number of cards in each of the other piles.

First take a look at any of those hope and fear cards. Could they go into either of the definitive piles? Are they either more hopeful or more fearful? This pile should not be too big. Maybe 2 – 4 cards.

Now look at the desirable cards. Work on getting this pile down to about 10 of your top most desirable cards. Let your eye and your intuition guide you. Perhaps compare those that seem to have similar themes and pick your favorite.

Now look at your undesirable / scary cards. Work on getting this pile, too, down to about 10 of your least desirable cards. Keep those that you have the strongest emotional response to.

Step 4:  Take the pile of desirable cards only and use them to tell / illustrate the story of your life. Let loose with the most wonderful version of your life possible to accompany this set of cards. You might tell the whole story of your life from childhood to the present or perhaps pick a more recent passage of time. The last card could represent something coming in the near future.

Sit with this wonderful story for a while once it has been created and soak it in. You could write the whole story out in your journal.

Once you are done with your story creation, you may also want to reflect on these questions:

  • What parts of your life are highlighted in this story? What parts were left out?
  • How is this story the same and how is it different from how you usual tell your story or say who you are?
  • If you have some Tarot knowledge, you can now tap into that and analyze what suits, elements, numbers, and identities predominate. What does this tell you about the balance or progression in the story you have told?

Step 5:  Take the pile of undesirable / scary card and now use them to tell / illustrate the story of you life. It’s true; this story will not be as fun to tell. It may bring up emotions. Do what you need to do to ground yourself and let the emotions flow through you rather than overwhelm you. And remember that your wonderful story still exists. You are not creating something to replace it but rather a parallel shadow story.

Spend some time with this story as well, perhaps journal, and, finally, you can use the same reflection questions from Step 4 here.

Step 6:  Integrate the stories. Your life is shadow and light; both of these stories are part of you. You can take all the cards and work with them face up to weave a chronological order that aligns with the events of your life. But when I tested the process out on myself, I experimented with shuffling the cards face down and then laying them out in the random order that came from the shuffling. This presented some powerful “Ah, Ha” insights for me. You can also start with the facedown / random approach and then do some re-arranging as it feels right. The bottom line is that you create a story that represents the whole of you.

A favorite poet of mine, Murial Rukeyser, tells us “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.” It is stories that give meaning to our lives and those stories are not static. This moon story of your life is story that embraces the joy and the pain, the achievements and the failures.

I’ve written here on the blog about how I am working with the metaphor of the Major Arcana as 3 circles of healing. I’m seeing this final circle of cards (The Devil through The World) as the healing of the split of light and dark as the final stage of a journey to wholeness. Completing a story process such as this to actively integrate the light and the dark of our lives manifests The Moon archetype in our waking and physical lives. I felt it offer me new insight and healing of old wounds. May it be so for you as well!

My Work with the Cards

I was working with a lot of cards; I did have four piles, which I got down to 11 desirable, 11 undesirable, and 3 both seeking and fearing cards. It took me a good couple of hours to go through the process, and I took breaks in between steps for tea and walks to manage the intensity.

I wrote pages and pages in my journal so I won’t share that all, just some major insights. But if you are curious about anything here, feel free to ask.

My Desirable Story

I had a number of cards that told the story of my childhood with its mystical longings (I thought I was going to see the Holy Spirit come down when I received my first communion) and the courage I developed from dealing with the fiery energy dynamics in my family. Cards: High Priestess, Ace of Cups, 7 of Wands.

The bridge from my childhood and into adulthood was The Star and the healing work that I did in my 20s. This is also when I discovered The Tarot which became a guiding Star in my life.

The healing work and discovering the Tarot lead to exploring my creativity and spirituality in my early adulthood. Cards: Empress, Hermit, and Spider Woman / Mother of Stones.

Meeting my partner, buying a house together, and connecting with the land where we live was a big part of my story because of having so many cards that speak to this part of my life: Love (2 of Cups), Ace of Wands, Ace of Earth, and The Power of Earth (4 of Stones). This not usually how I tell the story of my life. Yes, I certainly mention John but this connection to him and how it is inter-woven with place is not usually so central. So this story offers me the possibility that it is a deep part of my soul. Also interesting to me is that I don’t have any story line about my paid work / career. This has been a central part of my identity. Right now I am going through a transition and it is very interesting to me that it did not come up in the images / in the story.

I put Justice as the final card representing the near future. I am in a process of rebalancing my life. New things are emerging from the seeds I have planted in the past. My work for Justice will continue, though its form might be different.

My Scary Story

This story was very focused on my childhood and moving into young adult hood. The Tower was a central image of the story of my early years. In fact, I had a kind of Mandala arrangement around The Tower of Kali (Mother of Wands), Ra (Father of Swords), Failure (7 of Stones), Disappointment (5 of Cups), and Ruin (10 of Swords).

The Devil – of course! – had ended up in my scary pile of cards, but as I put this story together, I saw The Devil as the transition into healing. Coming before The Devil I had cards of Uselessness (7 of Swords) and Defeat (5 of Swords). I developed ideas and feeling of responsibility for taking care of things out of my childhood that I realized just couldn’t work. This surrender allowed me to work with The Devil to see how I was carrying around erroneous beliefs and engaging in unhelpful behaviors. I then went the 8 of Cups way and took a new path. This is the story of my young adulthood but I am going through another spiral of this healing work right now. Jeez, just when you think you are done with personal and spiritual development, you get a greater challenge! But it is helping me to know and work more deeply with that Devil archetype.

The Integrated Story

To start this process I laid out my dual desirable and scary cards: The Moon (it is a wild and bit uncontrolled card in the Haindl), Strength (she is dancing with a snake!), and Parsival / Son of Cups (he looks scared about the grail cup he is about to drink from). I created a prayer of intention asking to be open to mystery and to have the strength to receive the messages and the gifts of this process.

As I mentioned in the instructions, I thought creating this story would be more conscious, but I did a shuffle of the two piles together and then just laid them out in the random order of their mixing. There was an interesting intermingling of the desirable and scary cards and it provoked many inner flashes. Here are a couple:

  • Ra (Father of Swords) and the Tower came up first. Here I was in my childhood with things falling apart, but I had a different insight with the juxtaposition of these 2 cards. Ra is one of the earliest Gods of the Egyptian pantheon and is rather like the absent father. He isn’t as involved as the other Gods. I now was seeing a story of being bothered not by the energy of The Tower’s release, but the silence about its damage. I didn’t need to fear the energy of The Tower, of fire, of inspiration.
  • The next card was the Empress which in the Haindl emphasizes creativity followed by Courage (7 of Wands) and Failure (7 of Stones). Creation requires the courage to touch my fiery passion and to bring forth the new. The result might be failure because that is part of the creative process. This whole first set of cards offers me a message about embracing the fire of creativity. My old way of telling this story had me fearful of the uncontrollable nature of creation. This new way of telling the story shows me that silence is the danger. Failure is just part of the process of creation but not sharing your passion is the true mistake.
  • The Devil makes his appearance midway in the story and once again is an agent of change. And there was a powerful healing message offered in a string of cards that included the Star, Uselessness (7 of Swords), Ruin (10 of Swords), and Love (2 of Cups). When I bring my defensiveness and fear of being hurt to the healing power of the Star, I am then able to open my heart to love. This speaks to me of a time in my younger life when my heart was very guarded. Then one weekend I took care of my 3 month old nephew Ian and his beautiful face and joyful sounds just pierced my heart. The amour cracked and I was a more open person. Shortly after that I met my partner John. That is truly a Star story of my life.
  • A final card in the line is The Hermit. This is one of my life cards so I keep coming back to and deepening my understanding of this card. Today I am thinking that this shows me going into the dark of the moon to find this process and now sharing it with you.

I’d love to hear about your experience with this process. Be well!

Leave a Comment

March 5, 2012, 9:00 am Denise Beaudet

Hello Carolyn! Denise from Roots To Resistance here! Do you have an email address? I wanted to send something through to you! Mine is invisible_earth@yahoo.com. I have just been reading the blog and am going to send it on to a friend who is very involved in Tarot. She would love to come visit your studio as well. I hope to get there in the next cpl weeks myself!

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