This “Gaian Soul Chat” is one in a series of interviews with interesting people I know whose life work is intrinsically involved with Nature, Creativity and Spirituality. And, quite often, the Tarot.
I met Donnaleigh at the Readers Studio a few years ago. I’m a big fan of her radio show Beyond Worlds, and I especially love her unique take on the Gaian Tarot. In this blog post she points out all the faces in the Gaian Hermit card that I didn’t know were there!
This photo was taken of Donnaleigh and me at the costume banquet at RS10.
What do you love most about the Tarot?
I love its mystery, and the way tarot can be used in such an unlimited number of creative ways. The possibilities are endless. I also love the way it surprises me with objective ways of seeing thing, outside of my opinion. The art is inspiring, the messages profound. Tarot, like any sacred script, is timeless.
Tell us a story about one of your experiences with the Gaian Tarot.
Ah, I’ll let my blog tell it. The Gaian Tarot has many stories to tell! Here are two of my favorite, magical Gaian Tarot experiences:
The Eyes of the Gaian Tarot (Birds falling from the skies)
I needed a weekend activity, and the Gaian Tarot quite literally gave me one.
How do you best love to express your creativity?
I love working with writing and imagery, which make me a perfect fit for tarot. Self-discovery is such an important part of creativity, and tarot takes us there. I love to inspire others, too, and tarot is such a great avenue to find inspiration. I love to take nothing and make it into something. Tarot has a way of making something out of anything.
What kind of creative projects are you working on now?
I have so many things on the burner at the same time. Our podcast, “Beyond Worlds: Your Tarot Tribe,” is always a central focus of what I’m doing. We are currently working at reformatting the show for better sound quality to enhance the listening experience. This will include several media shifts for us for a better visual platform as well, and we hope this will also bring tarot to a wider audience. I also have a book I’m working on about lithomancy and how to read crystals like tarot cards (great fun to do!), along with a tarot activity book that includes many things to actually do with tarot once you get your hands on a deck. Many of these activities I try to slip into my blog each day, to keep the world working with their cards. I also love helping propel others forward and am working creatively with several people in tarot to help their own projects move forward.
What is your relationship with Nature (aka Mama Gaia) like?
My first marriage with Mother Earth happened in my early twenties when I became an avid hobby birder (birdwatcher who travels to find and learn about birds). I memorized the bird songs and calls of the 300 Northeastern wild birds and became obsessed with getting as much knowledge as possible about the habits and behaviors and communication of birds. The autobiographical book series by Tom Brown, Jr. (www.trackerschool.com), which starts with “The Tracker” and then my favorite, “The Search,” showed me how wo/man can become one with nature at the most sacred and core level of our being.
What I learned through my experience with nature and through learning about its science and infrastructure, is that each ecosystem is a delicate web that depends on each plant and part, on each bug and climate. If the milkweed plant disappears from an environment, the monarch butterfly can no longer reproduce there, impacting the birds that depend on the monarch for food. If a road is cut through a forest, the deep-dwelling forest birds who require their nest be built a deep distance from forest edge will no longer be able to use that habitat to reproduce. Plants in particular help dictate what is drawn to certain environments. Nature is not as random as it looks to the untrained eye. I became very aware of the delicate balance and how easily humans upset that natural harmonic tension of the world without care or worry…and often without even knowing. Sadly, most people are so far removed from nature that if their attention is drawn to something happening, they care little about it.
I learned in my studies how rare vernal pools are becoming, impacting the presence of amphibious life, and therefore impacting the entire web of animals who depend on frogs and such wildlife. In a short 30 years, I’ve heard the common Whippoorwill’s song be silenced, and watched swamps and vernal pools be replaced by condominium subdivisions. There is such serious disrespect for our planet at a global level, dumping toxins into the ocean and air, figuring if we can’t see what happens, it must not bother anything. We have to account for what we do. People behave as if we have an alternate place to go once we’ve used this planet up.
Like thee Cree Native American Proverb says, “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”
How does Nature inspire, impact or heal you?
Nature is the most basic form of meditation. To sit by the ocean and watch the sparks of light dance upon the crests of moving water, to walk through a dewy morning forest and smell earth and pine, to walk through a scented path with wild lilac or honeysuckle, or to hand-pick and eat wild grapes….there is nothing I can find in a city that will feed my soul in the way nature can.
How do you define your spirituality or religion?
I was born and raised in a strict Catholic family, and spent about 7 years breaking free of Catholicism and even Christianity in my thirties. For awhile I defined my religion as “nothing” or “no religion” as I explored and studied all the world’s religious and spiritual systems to broaden my scope. Now I realize: “I am everything.” I am an eclectic mix of where all the world’s spiritual systems seem to overlap. Man spends a lot of time trying to define spirituality. That is when we begin to humanize something can’t be humanized. It is of the ethers. It cannot be defined by human boundaries or words. But I do believe spirituality is meant to weave us together somehow — within ourselves and between ourselves — to work as a whole or as one for the benefit of all the parts: the macrocosm and the microcosm working together.
How is Tarot part of your spiritual practice (if it is)?
Tarot helps me see things from a wider perspective, to look within as well as to look without. It helps me get out of my own head and realize there are other people with stories that weave into a situation – not only what I see or feel. Tarot can explore the most basic or the most complex and profound topics and questions.
Please tell us a little bit about what you’re going to share when you teach your teleseminar on the Gaian Tarot Circle.
I’m excited to be able to share some interactive techniques that were provided to me in a dream in December. What do Madonna and Shamanism have in common? I’ll share that with you in my teleclass. Bring your Gaian Tarot, because our interactive activities will include:
Shamanistic exploration: We’ll be using the Gaian Tarot interactively as an agent to learn about ourselves and the deck. You won’t need a question, the Gaian Tarot will define it and clarify your answer in a very shamanistic way.
Gaian Grammar: We’ll also use the Gaian Tarot to create a story about a situation, with a little Gaian Grammar Reading technique. This can be used to summarize the first strategy, or used on its own.
Thanks Donnaleigh. I can’t wait for the class! If you’re interested in joining in Donnaleigh’s teleclass on Wednesday evening, February 23rd, sign up today for the Gaian Tarot Circle.
Donnaleigh de LaRose is best known for her award-winning tarot podcast, Beyond Worlds: Your Tarot Tribe (www.TarotTribe.com), an internationally-available educational podcast designed made to make good readers great, and to infuse creativity and ideas into the world of tarot. Through free auditory tarot classes and activities, Donnaleigh aims to modernize tarot and make it accessible to the world while maintaining and respecting its history and mystery. She is constantly exploring ways to expand the use of tarot in as many ways as it can be accessed, and offers a blog rich with ideas on exploring the world through tarot. On Fridays, Donnaleigh can be heard on Psychic Friends Live with radio personality, tarotist, and astrologer, Storm Cestavani (http://www.StormOnAir.com). She has written for several tarot publications, spoken at tarot workshops and conferences, and can often be heard on radio and the internet, sharing the many benefits and uses of tarot.
Learn more about Donnaleigh at http://www.Donnaleigh.com.