A guest post by Carolyn Cushing of Art of Change Tarot
(Joanna’s note: Carolyn graciously allowed me to share this process that she created at the workshop I presented at the Omega Tarot Conference last month. We are so happy to share it now with you. It’s one of my favorite contemplative tarot practices.)
I’d drawn this card as part of my Tarot morning ritual. This daily time with the cards had become an important part of my contemplative practice; I found being with the Tarot’s wisdom images helped me to enter into a grounding silence, connected me to something greater, and awakened a sense of wholeness within. The woman with her eyes closed and ear inclined to the natural world provided me with an ideal image of contemplative practice and its rewards.
Taking this spark of inspiration as guide, I looked through the rest of the deck and saw sun-saluting groups, dancing women, fire-tenders of the human and animal variety, and facilitators of storytelling circles. The whole deck came into focus as a guide to practice.
And the Gaian offers an ample and embracing view of practice. Along with pictures that conjure traditional images of spiritual practice such as chakra meditation and casting a circle, the women joyfully gathering to create herbal tinctures or attentively planting a tree are practicing that which can connect us to the Greater Than, the Divine, Mama Gaia. There is no one way to practice and, indeed, every act undertaken with awareness can be the gateway to connecting with that hard-to-name sacred source.
I kept looking at the deck and sorting the cards. I often work with the deck in its different modes of Major Arcana, numbered cards, and people cards. The guidance the card provides is shaped by its mode.
The numbered cards, in which I was seeing so many suggestions for practice, show us the activities of daily life. As I’ve described above, they can be very literal pictures of a practice to undertake, or mulling over the image may invite some interesting associations. Take the 5 of Fire, for example.
Most of us are not going to take up fire breathing! But you might try the yoga practice of Breath of Fire that involves rapid breathing from the diaphragm through the nose. Or you might let out your anger by howling at the moon or writing / doodling in your journal in red pen using hard strokes across the paper.
The Major Arcana shows us larger, overarching lessons or archetypes that unfold over longer periods of time. They are pathways of wisdom that continually offer new teachings. (Or maybe I’m just slow. I haven’t mastered any of them and actually anticipate a lifelong exploration!) The Aces have a similar quality in that they contain the full potential of their elemental energy. I sorted them in with the Majors and began to think of this group as indicating the greater pathway that we are learning about as we undertake practice.
The people cards offer different guidance. They suggest the attitude that would be most beneficial to hold as we walk the path practicing. Each of the 4 stages of life brings a different quality to the practice. The children show us in-the-moment awe, for example, while the Explorers show us a commitment to action. The Guardians have a certain intensity while the Elders show a certain ease in their worlds.
I see the Child of Fire taking a much more carefree attitude toward the practice of the week than the Guardian of Air. I think we often forget that our practice needs to shift as our lives change, and the people of the Gaian model for us how we can be dynamic in our practice.
I was struggling with how to describe this aspect of the process when Gaian Tarot Circle member Della Kurtz offered that they represented the Posture to take in regard to practice. Brilliant! I now had a 3P process of Path, Practice, and Posture.
As my contribution to the Gaian Tarot Circle, I’ve started posting a weekly Practices of the Gaian Tarot on Monday mornings. Joanna and I thought we would give you all a chance to share in the practice for this week. As you’ll see below, I offer first thoughts on what the cards are inviting the group to during the week, but these are just jumping off points. Please feel free to offer new views and ideas in the Comments. Or you may want to pull personal cards for yourself; that sharing is most welcome as well in the Comments.
Week of August 20th Practices: Hermit – 6 of Earth – Guardian of Earth
Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question: What sacred path would best serve the Circle this week? THE HERMIT invites us to walk this week on pathways of …
- connecting with your inner light / guide
- accessing your personal wisdom for your own use – and to share with others
- listening to the Greater Than, especially through messages from the moon or animals sounds in the night
Use Pile 2 / cards numbered 2 – 10 for this question: What contemplative practice will best serve us to move along this pathway this week? THE SIX OF EARTH invites us to practices such as …
- gratitude for the abundance of the earth
- conscious shopping
- mindful eating
- balancing giving and receiving
Use Pile 3 / People Cards for a question such as: What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to me in undertaking this practice? THE GUARDIAN OF EARTH invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of ….
- attention to detail
- communing with the object, the task, the reality before you
In these cards, I see a challenge that I so often face. Solitude is a great support for me in remembering my connection to the Greater Than, but the realities of my everyday life don’t allow me to live a solitary life all the time! So how can I — or any of us nurtured by or needing solitude — bring that peacefulness, mindfulness, connection into the louder, busier world?
The Guardian of Earth as he pays attention to just what is before him shows a way. Have you ever met someone like that, someone who is able to focus just on you for a moment of connection even as chaos surrounds you both? I have met some workshop teachers like that and they seem able to access their inner Hermit no matter what is happening in the environment.
So perhaps this week, you will meet someone you know in a busy store and ask them how they are and wait with singular attention for their answer. Or there will be chaos in your kitchen while preparing a meal for hungry people, but as the food comes to the table you’ll remember to take a moment to look deeply at your food and feel gratitude. Or you’ll realize that you’ve been giving a lot to others and – despite your full schedule — you’ll take 15 minutes to go outside and let yourself receive energy, beauty, bounty from this summer-into-fall world. Or … the list goes on!
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Carolyn Cushing is a passionate change maker and Tarot enthusiast who loves to work with people to make positive life transitions, grow spiritually, and develop creatively. She blogs at Art of Change Tarot and her Major Arcana meditations are available at Journey into the Tarot. E-mail her at carolyn [at] artofchangetarot [dot] com for more information.