Soul Path Sanctuary

A place of pause, renewal, and connection for seekers


Decoding the Messages of the Muse

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For Writers

Decoding the Messages of the Muse: A Mini-Retreat for Writers with Carolyn Cushing of Soul Path Sanctuary and Jaymi Elford, author of A Tarot Inspired Life

Writers of all genres will find supports for deepening the connection to their creative flow as we:

  • Experiences ways to work with images from the Tarot and nature to inspire your writing process.
  • Play with words, the foundational tools of our trade.
  • Find guidance for telling stories within the images and structure of the Tarot.

There will be plenty of time for writing and we will enjoy a delicious lunch together.

Absolutely no experience with the Tarot is necessary and we’ll have decks to share. But if you do have a deck, feel free to bring it. And, of course, bring your writing equipment.

Details –

Date: Sunday, May 5

Time: 10am to 5pm

Location: Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA

Cost: $87 includes snacks and a delicious lunch (vegan and non gluten friendly options)

Pre-Registration required. Sign up by April 28!

Your guides for the retreat:

Jaymi Elford lives a tarot inspired life. She uses the cards as a tool to explore the world we live in and create meaning. The author of Tarot Inspired Life and Triple Goddess Tarot, Jaymi continues to study, write, and create tarot innovation from her home in Portland, OR. She writes little white booklets for Lo Scarabeo decks, and discusses techniques in both The Cartomancer magazine and on Llewellyn’s website. As a co-host of Tarot Visions, she explores the cartomancy world with Rose Red Robinson. Finally, she’s slightly addicted to attending and teaching techniques at tarot conferences. Visit her at:

Carolyn Cushing, facilitator of Soul Path Sanctuary, loves to work with people to make positive life transitions, grow spiritually, and develop creatively. In addition to working one-on-one with seekers, she has taught and facilitated Tarot classes groups, and rituals from Western Massachusetts to Portland, Oregon as well as on-line. Carolyn creates learning environments and circles where deep sharing and exploration are possible. She is a co-founder of the Massachusetts Tarot Society and contributes a regular column on Tarot for soul practice to the Cartomancer. She is also a poet who has been a finalist for the Philbrick Poetry Award of the Providence Athenaeum (2012) and the Tarantula Poetry Contest of Pilgrimage Journal (2018).


Reading of the Moonth: Power From Within


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit

I see the new moons as offering us initiating energy that we can explore throughout the moonth, aligning our own energy and desires with what is happening in the wider cosmos. Through my e-news I offer a reading around the new moon that can be revisited and added to through the moonthly cycle for gaining greater wisdom, acheiving goals, or finding the right way to be of service, for example.

The conflicts brewing today are only superficially questions of who will take power. Underneath is a deeper struggle: to change the nature of the power in which our society is rooted.  

Starhawk, Truth or Dare

The April 5th new moon started us on the path of the Emperor, who calls us to renew our vision of power. Wiccan teacher and activist Starhawk offers a model for encountering the fullness of power by naming 3 different aspects:

  • Power-over
  • Power-from-within
  • Power-with.  

Before you read my musings on these forms of power or Starhawk’s original ideas, take a moment to let the words work on you and evoke your own feelings and ideas about power. What surprises do they surface in your understanding of power? What resonances?

Our initiating energy of the moonth cards taken from the Motherpeace Tarot-  Path of the Emperor, Action of the 3 of Wands, and Posture of the Queen of Wands – can serve as illustrations for each of these kinds of power.

Power-over wears the face of the Emperor. This type of power operates through domination and grows from an understanding of the world as one of separation and hierarchy: God is removed from and above the human; the human is removed from and above the earth; people from different tribes, groups, or nation are in competition with each other, viewing their own group as superior.

Control, and violence – both in overt forms such as war and subtle ones that shape and limit our consciousness – are the tools of power-over. The Emperor contains this power-over energy within its range of meaning. In the Motherpeace deck, the Emperor shown is Alexander, the Great, who ruled much of the ancient Western world after taking control by conquest. Today’s authoritarian leaders across the globe are echos of Alexander and employ the tactics of power-over. 

Some of them are quite good at their brutal game. If we fought them with their tactics, we would likely loose, but there is more than one kind of power.

The vision of power-from-within is shown on the Three of Wands. In introducing this form of power, Starhawk writes that it is “akin to the sense of mastery we develop as young children with each new unfolding ability.” 

Attuned to power-from-within, we are able to bring forth what is unique about ourselves and offer it to the world. This kind of power is visionary, creative, connected. When we flow with power-from-within we fully trust our inner voices of guidance as well as recognize a connection to something greater than ourselves. There is no disconnection between serving the Whole and expressing ourselves. Energized by power-from-within, people manifest their visions.

The Priestess (Queen) of Wands shows us how power-from-within supports a third kind of power: power-with. The Priestess does not walk alone; she walks naked with a lion. Her nakedness here is an expression of her comfort with showing off her power-from-within. No need to hide her light! She is joined to the lion. They support each other on the journey, becoming more powerful through their connection. When we, women and men, who embrace power-from-within join together, we can overcome the tactics of power-over. 

There is no sure fix, linear progress, or quick timeline. Power-over, after all, has been dominant for millenia. But power-with is rising. We see it in women from diverse background dressed in white and exuberant in the US capital. In New Zealand’s prime minister reciting the Koran in parliament to offer comfort to the Muslim community following a terrorist attack on a mosque. In Chicago’s newly elected mayor saying, “Together we can and will make Chicago a place where your zip code doesn’t determine your destiny,”

This moonth’s questions invite you to cultivate and contribute your power-from-within:

POWER: What is your power-from-within that the world needs now?

EXPRESSION: How to express this power?

MANIFESTATION: What can you manifest to tip the balance ever more away from power-over to power-with?

I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative intitituve format for $23, but my e-news readers and those who’ve signed up for a year of readings filled up all my slots. Want to be sure to get in on future readings? Be sure to be on my list.

And if your power-from-within flows through writing – or your would like it to flow more – I invite you check out the Decoding the Messages of the Muse mini-retreat I am co-facilitating on May 5th.


Dark Moon Release with with Arianrhod as our Guide


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit

Before the moon is made new on April 5th at 4:50am ET in the USA, it returns to the place on the astrological Wheel where it began its moonthly journey. The energy gathered through the moonth now flows away into moonless nights. What will you send with this energy to be transformed in the dark?

The moonth we are concluding began and now ends in Pieces which corresponds to the Tarot’s Moon card. In the Dark Goddess Tarot The Moon is Arianrhood, the Welsh Goddess of the Moon. Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, creator of the Dark Goddess Tarot, description of Her includes:

Arianrhod – whose name means Silver Wheel – is a shapeshifter who often appears as an owl of the night, the owl who sees in the darkness, who sees at once ahead and behind, whose wings are soft and silent. She is the weaver upon her wheel, braiding and binding her magic into the manifestation of the world and the destiny of its creatures.

In the Celtic tradition, owls are associated with death, and could serve as guardians of the underworld and protectors of the dead. The newly dead encounter Arianrhod in her tower behind the dreamy glow of the northern lights, and here she serves as a guide to help them make their transition from life to death and then onward into their next incarnation.

Right now in New England, owls are not harbingers of death but of life. Owls are one of the first species to mate and reproduce. In February I heard the mating call of the Barred Owls at the wildlife sanctuary where I work. Now they are incubating their eggs. The next generation is gestating.  

Death and life are woven together at this time in the occurances of the natural world and in wisdom of Arianrhod. Acknowledgement and work with their interwoven nature can bring power to your dark moon release work this moonth. The 48 – 24 hours before the April 5th early morning new moon’s arrival is the optimal time for engaging in reflection and ritual to make this release.


Do you record your dreams? If so, you are invited to look back at the dreams of the moonth for images that capture your attention, patterns that appear, and perhaps to see if any dream images had an echo in your waking life.

If you don’t record or remember your dreams, you can pull 3 Tarot or oracles to show you the main themes of your dreams this moonth. (We dream each night, even if we don’t remember those dreams.)

Then working with your reflections or your cards, ponder questions such as:

  • What are my dreams telling me about what is dead in my life (i.e. ready to be transformed)?
  • What are my dreams telling me about what new is gestating in my life?

After you’ve done some pondering on your own, select by choice or chance cards to represents each thing you feel is ready to transform and each thing that might be coming new in your life.

Dark Moon Ritual

Before going to sleep on the dark moon night, shapeshift into the role of Arianrhod. You might do this by gazing on an image of her, inviting her through meditation, or by feeling the power of the dark and moonless night.  

Then take up each of the cards from the reflection above that represent what is ready to be transformed in your life and spend some time in communion with each element. Let it know that it is dead and now is the time to transition into something new. Imagining yourself as Arianrhod, give each element words of encouragement and advice for making the journey into death and then beyond into the next incarnation.

Then as you prepare to go to sleep ask that these elements be released and transformed in the dark of night. You might imagine them getting into some kind of conveyance – a boat or a chariot or a sports card – and moving away from you as you drift into sleep.

Trust that the night will do its work.

When the new moon arrives, you may want to take up the cards that represented the new in your life and let them inspire you to make new moon wishes. Be sure to write them down to revisit at the end of the moonth.

Want to know more about the next moon coming? Be sure to be on the list the receive my new moon news.

Ellen Loreniz-Prince is making new altar cards including one of Arianrhood, oh, yes, you want to see it – and perhaps to buy it!


Full Moon Revelation on the Equinox


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit

The height of this moonth cycle comes on the March 20th full moon, and offers a revelation about how the lunar energies initiated on March 6th by The Moon traveling through the Nine of Water with the attitude of the Explorer of Water are developing within us. Out of the revelation, we are issued an invitation to return a gift to the world in the final weeks of the lunar cycle.  

To add some extra energy to this full moon, it arrives on the Equinox when day and night are of equal length all across the globe. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will grow in length as we depart from the Equinox threshold into Spring. In the Southern Hemisphere, the balance tips toward Fall. This alignment of full moon and Equinox is a rare but fairly regular occurrence; it happens about every 19 years. Let the uniqueness of this moment inspire you to take a sacred pause in your day to honor this celestial alignment. Let the regularity of this moment inspired some reflection: What were you doing on March 20, 2000? What would gifts would you like to have offered to the world by March 19, 2030?

At this time of balanced light and dark, it is no surprise to see that full moon comes in the sign associated with the Tarot’s Justice card. Balance, Karma, Truth, and Right Relationship are key concepts associated with the Tarot’s Justice. In the Gaian Tarot shown below, Justice reminds us of our need to live in right balance with not just the human world but the whole of creation, and calls us to consider the long-term impact of the choices that we make today.

While the work of Justice is essentially collective – it happens in relationship and through institutions – inner work is foundational to Justice. Self knowledge, practices that support us in times of difficulty, and internal equilibrium, for example, aid us in being effective, resilient advocates for the on-going work of Justice. The energy of the March 6th new moon’s traveling through the Nine of Water invited us to do this inner work and begin our emergence into the light of spring.

Take a look at Justice and the Nine of Water woman together. You will see that these figures are mirror images of each other. They show us different sides of the work of soul path walking.

The Water woman on her lunar path is in shadow, doing her inner work, preparing for emergence. As we are on the cusp of spring, I see this figure as like Persephone, who has been changed by her time in the Underworld with the Beloved Dead. When the time is right, she will return with the seeds of the Underworld in her belly to spark earth’s return to life and growth, bringing a new balance.

The Justice man, however,  shows us his face in full light to offer his message immediately and directly: Speak the truth. Do nothing that leaves a weight on your heart heavier than a feather. Take action to care for this world and those in it.

The whole of Justice includes both the shadowy work of inner transformation and the clear and active work of action.

To mark the convergence of the full moon and the Equinox, you might do one or combine all of these practices:

  • Take out any reading or your reflections from the new moon and look at them in a new light. How does your understanding of the cards shift now that time has passed and light has shifted? (If you haven’t done a reading yet, no problem, just do it now under the light of the full moon. You can try the one included in the new moon post.)
  • Bring out a Justice card from a Tarot deck and connect it to your new moon reading / reflections. Make this card the start and/or the end of the sequence and adds its meaning into the story the cards are telling. What service to Justice is suggested by your cards? What will you do before the next new moon to act on this suggestion?
  • Moon bathe by sitting or lying under a window or outside on the ground. Let go of your thoughts and soak in the light.
  • Contemplate Persephone’s story as the traveler between the worlds and connect with Her energy to explore what seeds are you bringing from the dead (out of winter) that will become your new growth of spring. You can look through cards already pulled and make connections or pull new ones.

When you are done, remember to offer gratitude for what you have received. Consider what gift you now want to return to the world. Pulling a card for guidance on what this gift is always a fine thing to do. In the coming weeks and before the moon returns to dark around April 4th offer your gift to the world.

[Note: On Tuesday, the 19th/Equinox Eve around 8:30pm I will be doing a Facebook event on the Soul Path Sanctuary page to share and elaborate on these ideas. Join me live or check out the video posted afterward. Liking the page can help you get alerts about such happenings.]


Soul Path of the Moonth: Moon – 9 of Water – Explorer of Water


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit

Each new moon arrives at a specific place on the astrological Wheel of the Year, which corresponds to 3 Tarot cards that work together as a set to guide us in understanding the initiating energy of the moonth and opening ourselves to the wisdom offered. These three cards correspond to the Soul Path Practices spread used here throughout the year with the Gaian Tarot.

The new moon that arrived on Wednesday, the 6th, set us on the Path of the Moon through the Possible Action of the Nine of Water best met with the Posture of the Explorer of Water. This week the moon is waxing, allowing see how it is developing in our lives and issuing an invitation to align our daily our actions with celestial happenings to move with greater grace and ease through our days.

Path: The Moon

The Moon invites us to walk on pathways of…

  • Honoring natural cycles, particularly those which the moon shows us of dark to new, from waxing to full, from wanning to back again to dark.
  • Remembering that “one stage of life always succeeds another, and that a time of darkness is always followed by renewal” as Joanna Powell Colbert tells us in her Gaian Tarot companion book.
  • Tapping into a wild, dark, feminine mystery.
  • Tuning into the realms beyond through dreams, connecting with the ancestors, letting the natural world be your guide, or recognizing psychic messages.

Possible Action: Nine of Water

The Nine of Water offers us the possibility of emergence. Winter – the actual season or our soul reality – has been a dark cave. Perhaps of fertile gestation, significant struggle, or a mixture of both. But now a new light beckons. We may desire this light, sense that a new cycle is on the way, and still stand with uncertainty or fear. We’ve come to know the ways of the cave, but now we’ll have to change to walk in the light.  The last slippery, winding steps await us. How will we meet them? We can meet them with practices that support each small step forward. Consider engaging in one or more of these practices through this moonth that brings us out of winter and into spring:

  • Each morning go to the door of your house (i.e. cave), open it, spread out your arms, and welcome whatever is there.
  • Say a spoken prayer: use your favorite words/call on your favorite expressions of the Divine to give thanks or ask for help. You might make this a mantra or chant that you repeat throughout a day or the whole moonth.
  • Engage in contemplative prayer: direct your senses to soaking in what is happening in the natural world and see what wisdom comes to you.
  • Do a body prayer: put you body into the position of the Nine of Water woman (or other card of the moonth) to see what wisdom emerges from your body.
  • No prayer: just be, surrender to the moment, opening your soul self to the Mystery.
  • Creating your own devotional practice to honor Moon, Earth, Ocean, or Rock, and follow it for nine days.

Posture: Explorer of Water

The Explorer of Water invites us to follow our path and practices with attitudes that support being in the flow of life while letting go of the need to control what is happening. With this Explorer as our guide we come to know that relinquishing control is not a passive activity, but rather a different, more aligned way of engaging with the world as it is. The poet Rilke describes it as “no forcing, no holding back.” When we find this right balance between action and surrender, we are better able to ride on the wild waves of our emotions, our daily life, and any chaos that comes toward us. Our trust in self and world is strengthened, not because everything turns out the way we want but because we find we can move through the challenges that come our way.

The reading of the moonth inspired by these cards is:

EMERGENCE: What cycle of change am I emerging from?  

FLOW: How do I meet and flow through this emergence?

GROWTH: How will I grow from moving with this flow?

I offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative intitituve format for $23. I have a few slots open through the week and more on the weekend. Sign up with Pay Pal or email me about sending a check.

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