Tarot by Candlelight (In the Cards)

Today I lit several candles and drew cards from the Dreams of Gaia deck. The themes of the cards I selected were to plant seeds of spirituality. I consider my spirituality to be inclusive of mindfulness and nature, with an openness to considering inner wisdom, collective interweaving and the Unknown. A web search revealed that there are apparently others who consider themselves to be agnostic Pagans, so that may be another label that would fit for me.

It is far too easy for me to lose myself in a sense of isolation and to forget the minuteness of my life on a cosmic scale. Something about seeking what the cards reveal in a darkened room helped me to reconnect with the sense of mystery that the analytic nature of my mind can dismiss. I would like to more fully integrate my practice of spirituality into my everyday life in a way that transforms the labor I have to perform from merely putting in time into an outflow of the deeper sense of meaning I, at times, know exists.

The seeds I would like to plant would be to widen my perspective. I would like to be with myself in difficult moments and, in this being-with, to know that whatever my experience may be, there is compassion for it outside of the boundaries of who I am. Perhaps that is another label that the cards draw me to in considering my spirituality, one who seeks compassion. What physical practices, such as lighting a candle, set the scene for you when you delve into your spirituality? What are ways in which you integrate spiritual practices into your daily life?

Inspiration for Intuitive Cards (Today’s Daily Work of Art)

I have been working on my In an Open Hand intuitive card deck for at least a year and a half now. It contains 64 cards, each with a different word and prompts for different parts of self for reflection. It is also split into seasons. I’ve finished the prompts for fall and winter, but have much left to do for spring and summer. I’ve been waiting impatiently for spring to be on the horizon so that I can get back to creating in this way again. As I wait for signs winter is lifting, I decided to spend some time reflecting on the process so far.

If you are interested in creating your own intuitive deck, here are a few tips and ideas about how you might go about doing so, based on what I’ve learned from my own experience:

  1. Decide on a few themes that have a numerical basis to them. For example, I’ve incorporated moon phases, seasons of the year, body systems and the like into my deck. This allowed me to create “suits” as well as types of cards within each suit. Doing this allows for a more intimate focus on a particular area of your inner world and can help to give you some direction.
  2. Consider the purpose you would like your deck to serve in your life and what you would like to learn from it. Intuitive to me speaks to exploring my internal experiences, but it might mean something else to you. What I love about making my own set of cards is that I am not conforming myself into someone else’s way of conceptualizing things but can be as free as my imagination will allow me to be.
  3. Do words or images speak more to your inner world and your intuition? If images are how you process, you may want to begin by creating the artwork for each card and then letting your ideas flow from there. I am much more comfortable with my writing skills, so I’ve started with laying out my ideas in language and am still working on finding a way to represent them visually.
  4. For which type of person do you want your deck to be accessible? As a non-binary person, I’ve been extremely frustrated by the strict gender binary most tarot and oracle cards incorporate, so it was important for me to find a way to represent my spirituality that would not reinforce the gender binary. Even if you are the only one who is going to use the cards you create, spend some time making sure you are welcoming all parts of self and not solely the ones with which you are most comfortable.
  5. Take your time. I have gotten a lot of fulfillment from having an ongoing creative project with no set end-date and a maximum amount of flexibility. I feel inspired by having something in my life that isn’t focused on deadlines, productivity, making an impression or fitting in. It is possible that you might start creating an intuitive deck and find yourself led in another creative direction. Be open to possibility.

If you have dedication to inner work and/or creativity, what wisdom or inspiration do you have to share? What word or image would feel appropriate to your day today? What does it mean to you to attend to your intuition?

Eight Mindfulness and Spirituality Practices to Start the Year Well

As we start the new year, I am more determined than ever to fully engage in the present moment as much as I can and to have that moment be held as sacred. I’ve included ideas here for myself as well as for you about how to enable this process. These practices might also be thought of as including self-reflection, sensory processing and grounding techniques.

1. Writing a poem

I am writing a series of poetry dedicated to animal encounters. This process has felt sacred to me as I draw deeply from each moment of time in which an animal and I exchange meaning. Other series I think would be interesting to try include weather patterns, plants, seasons and the sky.

2. Drawing a nature scene

I prefer my time in nature to be a slow process. What I mean by this is I am not focused on moving quickly through it by mechanical means like a jet-ski or ATV and that I let go of trying to “conquer” any aspect of it, such as completing a trail in as little time as I can. I once joined a walking group and spent so much time outside for a season, but the focus on walking fast and talking completely detracted from any mindfulness. Activities such as sketching and drawing can require tremendous patience and repetition, which enables me to pause and to be rather than do.

3. Practicing Breathwork

I shared recently that breathwork can potentially affect the brain-body connection in PTSD. Knowing this inspires me to spend time simply in awareness of my breathing. For those who do not have much free time, even a few minutes between activities can serve to help us recenter.

4. Connecting with nature through each sense

I love forest therapy and the relationship it encourages between mindfulness and nature. My favorite practice is to notice how each sense is affected by being outside. With a bit of planning, this encounter can be tailored to an individual’s sensory needs and abilities.

5. Engaging in a Body scan and movement

I sometimes find myself reacting emotionally to a situation, and, only after I get some time for self-reflection, do I realize that my physical state either contributed to or has been impacted by the encounter. Spending time checking with each body system and sending it healing energy helps me feel grounded.

In the past six months, I’ve also educated myself about ways to stretch specific parts of my body such as my toes. Doing so not only frees me of physical tension, but it also helps me expand my sense of inhabiting every aspect of who I am. Becoming embodied can be a challenge for those of us who have endured trauma, but doing so has allowed me to more fully process other aspects of my identity such as being trans.

6. Drawing a card

I believe that qualitative as well as quantitative data and information are useful, and I find that using tarot and oracle cards helps me release some of my compulsions towards liner thinking so that I can also take in “big picture” viewpoints. Experiencing insight through not only written but also through illustration is also enabled through the inclusion of various decks I have.

7. Listening inwardly

I’ve shared my process for doing inner work. I sometimes find myself wishing I could pause social encounters, check in with myself, and then reengage. I may need to find a way to do this IRL as so much of my out-of-body, out-of-time response is due to not having enough brain power to process my internal and external experiences simultaneously. When I make time for this practice, I often realize that much of the anxiety and anger to which I’d been reacting for hours was due to an inability to fully hear myself.

8. Holding Sacred Ritual

There is a good deal of overlap between the practices I’ve listed above and scared ritual in which I might engage. I have at times kept to a Pagan calendar as well as honored the full and new moons, but I did not find myself relating to these holidays any more than I relate to the ones most Americans follow. Ritual, for me, works best when it is held in anticipation or response to lived events. In particular, I want to engage in it at times where I feel scattered from myself and in need of reconnection.

Conclusion

Which of the mindfulness and spirituality practices that I’ve shared have you found to work the best for your needs? What else would you add as beneficial? What barriers, if any, might you need to overcome to allow yourself to be in the scared moment?

Blog Update: New Daily Prompts

I’ve added to my personally-created deck collection, and, subsequently, to the categories I will be incorporating on my blog. I’ve gone through nearly all of my “Simple Pleasures” deck and, although I will be reusing the cards, I also wanted to springboard off of what I found most beneficial in that deck to create new ones.
I’ve made an overview category of Writing Everyday, which will include:

  • Daily Presence
  • Daily Remembrances
  • Daily Works of Art
  • In the Cards and of course
  • Simple Pleasures.

The Daily Presence cards focus on a particular body part. I will use them to get in touch with how my body is moving through the world, and what it needs on any given day to be loved and safe. Daily Remembrances cards are writing prompts designed to help me contemplate past experiences through the lens of acceptance and growth (I am also working on making writing prompt cards for the present moment and for the future). Each Daily Works of Art card focuses on creating a representation of a particular concept through whichever medium I believe will fit best. In the Cards will involve a tarot, oracle or intuitive deck draw and interpretation. This will on occasion include my In an Open Hand Intuitive Deck that I am in the process of creating. The Simple Pleasure cards are what I’ve been using for the past two months to engage in an action which brings joy and hope to my everyday life.

The remaining categories on my blog, such as Creativity, Experiences of Identity and so forth, will be reserved from this point forward for longer essays that focus on specific ideas and experiences. I had to take a break for about a year from writing longer pieces (I’ve written other blogs previously) as my internal world was shifting and I wasn’t sure how best to articulate myself. I think that I’m settling into a place where there may be more that I have to share in a deeper context.

I include an open-ended question or two at the end of almost all of my writings. As a reader of my blog, I hope that you will sharing your thoughts in the comments on occasion and, if you are having a rough day where you need a bright spot of hope or simply a break from what’s going on, I hope what I have to share will afford you that experience. I started Simple Pleasures because I was in a deep depression and needed something to connect with on a daily basis. I expect that expanding into the decks/topics that I’ve chosen will bring new insights and experiences. What are daily practices that bring you peace, acceptance and/or hope?

An altar containing candles, oracle and tarot cards, a small purple goddess statue, and a painting with a mirror in the center.

Rejuvenating an Altar (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

This simple pleasure brought me joy! When I first began creating altars, I updated them four times a year with the passing of each season. Although the results were appealing, I soon felt cluttered and overwhelmed with the random materials I was accumulating, so I stopped doing much with them. The small altar I worked on today had not been touched in many months, and it was good to light the candles and pull new cards for it.

The card in the back of the display in my photograph is a Lisa Frank (TM) tarot card, which my inner child loves! The particular card I drew is the Lovers. The card to the right is from the Good Tarot. I drew Four of Air, which focuses on rest and self-care. This was an affirmation I needed today as I have been feeling a bit physically run down, which has slowed my pace. As soon as I am not going full-speed, I start to worry that I am lazy and pathetic. Having the guide tell me to take a break allowed me to grant myself more grace.

My overall impression is that my altars are there waiting for me to return as I am able. The Wisdom they represent is patient and kind. Do you have any altars, and, if so, what ideas do you have for updating or rearranging one of them?