Gaian Soul

Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

A Tarot Spread for the Pandemic Portal Time

in 0-Library, Tarot

I created this tarot spread after listening to Arundhati Roy read from her essay “The Pandemic is a Portal.”

1. What do I most need to know about this collective moment — this “portal”?

2. What can I do to contribute to the wholeness and health of the collective?

3. How can I strengthen my own resilience?

4. What am I not seeing? (Pull a card from the bottom of the deck.)

5. What does Spirit most want me to know about my personal path at this collective moment?

Caring for Ourselves, Caring for Each Other

in 0-Library, Spiritual Practice

Strength cards

(I sent this newsletter out today and was asked to post it here too.)

Dear Ones,

The world is a different place than it was a short time ago, isn’t it. Two weeks ago I agonized over cancelling my Spring Retreat, which would have started tomorrow. Now, it would be one more cancellation among many.

Just like you, I imagine, I’ve had my own fair share of emotions all over the map — fear, calm, dread, gratitude. Bringing myself back to center is a constant practice. As I wrote on social media last week:

It’s ok to be afraid, loves. Acknowledge your fear, pat it on the head, tuck it inside your shawl, and rock it to sleep. And do whatever you need to do to bring yourself back to center. Again and again and again.

Breathe deep. Touch the earth, even if it’s a leaf in a potted plant. Pray like crazy. Dance! Meditate. Make art. Boost your immunity. Wash your hands. Reach out to someone. Ask how you can help. Love each other hard. We’ll get through this. 

Because I have a chronic respiratory condition and because of my age (68), I am in the high risk category. If I get COVID-19, there’s a possibility I will not survive it. I live alone and I am self-isolating. This does not mean I’m staying inside! It’s essential for me to get out each day and go for a walk.

Every day I’m asking myself: What can I do to take care of myself? And: What can I do to help others, to care for the collective? 

Caring for Myself

Here are just a few of things I’m doing to care for myself during this time of uncertainty and self-isolation, in no particular order. I hope some of them may be helpful to you.

I’m keeping a Health Log, of how I feel each day and what I notice — things like:  Slept well. Stuffy nose. Energy slump in the afternoon. Tired after a long walk. Little cough. Felt energized after eating chicken soup. If I do get sick, this will help my doctor figure out what’s up.

I have a diffuser going nearly 24/7 with Thieves Oil in it. It keeps the air moist inside my house and the scent is said to be anti-bacterial and anti-viral. I bought my Thieves Oil from Thrive Market, but they are currently out. It’s a blend of cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon. (Misting works better for me than sacred smoke because of my lungs.)

The same herbs, with the addition of thyme, make up a fragrant Immunity Salve that I rub into my wrists, behind my ears and under my nose. It’s made by a local Bellingham business, Sea Witch Botanicals. (I love their soaps too. Oh and their incense and candles. Actually everything they make.)

I made protective salt jars to place at my front and back doors. I filled regular jars with sea salt, garlic, lemon rind, cloves, and rosemary. I held the jars up to my Holy Helpers, blessed and charged them, and am letting them do their cleansing, protective work on an energetic level. My friend Bri Saussy has more info here.

Triple Eights Healing SoupI’ve made two big batches now of immunity-boosting Triple Eights Healing Chicken Soup. I’ve stashed quite a bit in the freezer, in case I do get sick and don’t feel like cooking. I started with this recipe but used the vegetables I had on hand. (The ginger and garlic and turmeric are key, though.)

I signed up for a local service, Dandelion Organics, to have local produce delivered every other week.

I drink lots and lots of herbal tea … all kinds.  Current favorite is Tulsi Rose. (Tulsi is Awakening and Rose is the Empress in the Herbcrafter’s Tarot.) Sometimes I drink it while chatting with friends on a video call.

I made a list of how to tell the difference between the symptoms for allergies, the flu, and COVID-19, and posted it on my fridge.

I have the information for the protocol at my doctor’s office on the fridge too, in case I develop the worst symptoms and need to call in.

light a Guadalupe candle every morning and pray the Goddess rosary I learned from Jennifer Berezan so many years ago:  Hail Mother, full of grace. Power is with thee. Blessed are you, Queen of the Universe, and blessed is all of creation. Holy Mother, Maker of all things, be with us now and always. Blessed be. I dedicate the prayer to us all, that we may be safe and healthy and stay financially afloat, and grow resilience.

BTW Jennifer Berezan is offering a free streaming version of her exquisite Song for All Beings Live!  here. Yes, I’ll be singing and moving to it tonight.

rest when I’m tired.

Madre of Water (care for self) and 6 of Water (care for others)toss the cards. Once, twice, more!  I don’t ask what the outcome of the current global crisis will be. I ask how I can make it through, and what I can do to help others.

go outside and touch the earth. I go for walks. I notice the signs of spring. I bask in the sun (when there is some!) Soon I’ll start to plant an herb garden.

write in my journal, spilling out fears and notes and things to remember.

I’m eyeing my colored pencils, and getting ready to start a new art journal. I’m thinking about making a new Spirit Doll to hold the energy of good health for me, and for everyone. My friend Lyn Belisle is giving away her Spirit Doll Workshop PDF, if you think you’d like to make one too.

I’m writing a letter to my granddaughter telling her things I want her to know in case … just in case.

When the news or social media gets my heart rate up and my stomach aflutter, I do thefour-square breathing technique:  Breathe in to a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Breathe out to a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Again. And again, until I’m calm. I love knowing I’m invoking boundaries and sacred space, the keynote of tarot Fours, when I do this practice.

I’m giving thanks for Washington state governor Jay Inslee, who is modeling how a true leader should behave in a public health crisis. I’m giving thanks and praying for all themedical professionals on the front lines. 

I’m loving the connections we’re making on social media.

I’m finding it’s necessary to take a break from social media too.

I’m petting my neighbor’s cat.

My afternoon walkI reviewed my end-of-life documents and my health care directive and I’m having my lawyer update them this week. Just in case. (By the way, her assistant mentioned to me that they’re having a run on the updating of wills this week.)

I renewed and refreshed my ancestor altar, and make offerings every day. I talk and I listen. I can already feel them growing stronger at my back.

If I wake in the night and can’t sleep, I listen to an audiobook (you can borrow them from your library) and set the app’s timer to 30 minutes. I listen to the story (nothing disturbing or scary) and it almost always puts me back to sleep. I love listening to anything by Clarissa Pinkola Estes; Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer; and the Maisie Dobbs novels by Jacqueline Winspear.

reach out to help.

ask for help when I need it.

I learn, as you do, to live on the edge of uncertainty.

Caring for Each Other

Over the weekend, two beloved friends went to the store for me and dropped off the ingredients I needed to make another batch of Triple Eights Soup. They put the bag of groceries on the porch and didn’t come in. We waved to each other. Saturday night one of my beloved friends on the other side of the country held my hand via text when I was scared.

Gaian Tarot StarThis is part of the grace (the Star) that has come about in response to the crisis (the Tower): the uprising of compassion and creativity in connecting and caring for each other. Last week I participated in two different conscious dance classes via Zoom calls, one that was local and one in southern California. I meditated on a Facebook Live video with a group. I had tea and conversation with friends on Zoom and FaceTime. Online, I see that people are stepping up to offer virtual ceremonies, virtual storytelling, circles, group conversations and card readings.

I’ve been seeking guidance on ways that I can contribute and care for the collective. I keep coming back to the idea I’ve been considering for over a year: creating a community space on the Patreon platform. I’ve been remembering the “golden oldie” days of the Gaian Tarot Circle, which I hosted from 2010 to 2014. It was a lovely, nourishing space for many people. So I’m brainstorming ideas for it now. I’m thinking there will be one or two community Zoom calls a month, weekly readings and card study (Herbcrafter’s and Gaian Tarots), seasonal activities, journal prompts, and more. The nice thing about Patreon is that there are tiers and levels of support, starting very low. I’ll have more information about it soon.

Pull • Pen • Paint 2020 

Last week I told you about this new program … it starts in just a couple of days, March 19th. I’m a guest teacher along with a crazy wonderful roster of many other teachers.

Please check out Pull Pen Paint: A Journey of Self-Discovery Using Signs, Symbols, and Systems in Your Spiritual & Creative Practice, and see if it’s something that might support your wholeness.

Well, this turned out to be quite a missive. Thank you if you made it all the way to the end. I hope something I wrote inspires you, helps you, and gives you hope. Thank you, once again, for being part of my world.

We will make it through this.  We will.

Love & Blessings of Sea & Cedar,


P.S. I just realized that I’m writing to you as if you are on the same page as I am, that it goes without saying that the most important thing we can do right now is flatten the curve of the pandemic, in order to take stress off the health care system and save lives. If you have not made this a priority, please do, for your own sake, the sake of those you love, and the sake of us all. If you’re not sure what it means, here’s a good article. And another. And another. Thank you.

Resource Yourself

in 0-Library, Gratitude, Grief

Aldermarsh path in summer

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know that 2018 was a very difficult year for me. My marriage of 20 years ended at the beginning of that year, and I sold my beloved island home at the end of it. 2019 began with with pneumonia and moving to town. After I settled into a small condo, I spent most of the winter and spring ill with a number of ailments. Now that I have mostly recovered from them, it seems to be that the enforced “slow time” of illness was a process of physical, emotional, and spiritual detoxification.

river and cottonwood leafAs I look back at the mythic arc of the last 20 months or so, I see that 2018 was a personal Tower-like year of trauma, followed by the healing grace of the Star in 2019. When I taught the Sacred Wheel course last fall, many of you heard me express my utter and complete faith that the Wheel will always turn again, will always move from despair to hope. And so it did for me.

My circle soul-sisters and my therapist were there every step of the way. The land and the sea, always, were there for me. Learning to find nature in an urban setting continues to be a delight, as does the sociability of village living. The positive response to the publication of the Herbcrafter’s Tarot has given me deep soul-shaking joy. My “Foundations of the Gaian Soul Wheel” retreat a couple of weeks ago at Aldermarsh rooted and grounded me once again in the work I’m meant to do in the world, that gives me so much pleasure and satisfaction. There are some lovely things unfolding in my personal life too, that I’m not quite ready to share.

So the tide has turned for me, the Wheel has turned once more. I am no longer taking it on faith, I’m experiencing it in my life and in my body.

And then there is the state of the world, which can take us right down into utter despair.

Resource Yourself

So today I want to share something with you that I shared first in May of last year. I need to be reminded of it right now, so it may be helpful to you as well. It’s the idea of resourcing yourself, which I first learned from Anne Hayden and Sheila Belanger of NW SoulQuest in their “Tending the Knowing Field” group facilitation course.

I saw a graphic on social media yesterday that said something like “Self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and chocolate cake. It’s about creating a life you don’t have to run away from.”  Self-care, to me, is about what you do to replenish yourself after you’ve been depleted. Resourcing yourself is deeper and is more pro-active — it’s about creating that authentic life. It’s about doing the spiritual practices that center and ground you so that you can handle whatever comes your way with equanimity, whether it’s in your personal life or how you respond to the tragedies in the world around us.

The simple act of wrapping yourself in a shawl and bundling yourself is one way to resource yourself. Engaging with the natural world is another. Singing and dancing — those too. Hugs and heartfelt conversations. Writing in your journal. Tossing the cards. There are many practices that will help you resource yourself. One that always works for me is to step outside and simply turn to each of the four directions, plus above, below, and center. I greet each direction in turn by speaking or singing from the heart, by making a gesture, and/or by making an offering.

It’s these practices, done on a regular and routine basis, that help us build the strength and resilience we need to meet difficult times with courage and calm.

open gateI wrote this in May 2018:

Resource yourself. Greet the four directions, wrap yourself in a shawl, lean into feeling how Cedar has your back. Hold hands with a sword fern. Drink sparkling dew from a cup of lady’s mantle. Move to the sound of frog song. Walk through that gate. You’ve got this.

When I wrote that, I was thinking of the end of my marriage and the new life that awaited me, and how scared and sad I was at times. But I was also thinking of transitions of all kinds … all kinds of thresholds and gateways that we each have to walk through. We’re often frightened when we need to make changes, to answer the call of Soul … and yet, it is our destiny, is it not?

Resource yourself in whatever way works best for you — then cross the threshold before you.

And so I ask you to consider:  

What are the sacred soulful practices that resource you the most? 

Make a list. Pick one or two or three, and do them as often as you can. 💚


(From my NL, 8.28.19)

Listen to a Community Call about the Herbcrafter’s Tarot

in 0-Library, Herbcrafter’s Tarot

This is the replay of our Zoom community call that was held on June 19th to celebrate the release of the Herbcrafter’s Tarot.  Latisha Guthrie and I shared our creative process, answered lots of lovely questions, and we all did some one-card readings. Out deep appreciation goes out to everyone who showed up for the call. We’ll do another one in a few weeks. Just click on the photo above (or here) and it will take you the video on Vimeo.

The call is about 90 minutes long. If you’d rather listen to it without watching the video, here’s a link to the audio file.

Seven Ways to Get to Know the Herbcrafter’s Tarot

in 0-Library, Herbcrafter’s Tarot, Herbs, Tarot

Get to Know the Herbcrafter's Tarot

I’ve been teaching tarot a long time, and you may have heard me say that I encourage you to trust your own intuitive take on a card before reading the book. I’ve also said that you should not assume that your own take on the card is wrong, if it’s different from what is written in the book. It’s important to develop your own relationship with the cards outside of what the deck creator intended.

However, the Herbcrafter’s Tarot is a deck where I strongly encourage you to read and use the companion book, especially if you are not already familiar with herbs and plants. The energy and message of the particular plant we chose for each card is just as important as the traditional tarot meaning. There are specific qualities assigned to the numbers, people cards, and elements in the HCT which will also enhance your understanding of the deck. (You can read all about it in the book!)

My co-creator Latisha Guthrie and I were inspired by our friend Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s Dark Goddess Tarot to write three “pithy wisdom statements” (as we call them) for each card. Those three sentences appear first on each card’s page and are a kind of distillation of the wisdom of the card and the plant.

For example, for The Empress, Rose:

Be vulnerable, yet strong.
Nurture love and compassion.
See beauty and abundance in every stage of life.

Latisha wrote the book, and she did a beautiful job. It is full of heart-felt experience and wisdom. I hope you love it as much as I do!

Herbcrafter's Tarot and Roses

Seven Ways to Get to Know the Herbcrafter’s Tarot

Choose a card ...1. Go through the deck, pulling out the cards that particularly attract you. Write about the card in your journal, especially noting any personal associations you may have with the plant or other imagery on the card. Then look the card up in the book and notice any particular sentences or phrases that jump out at you.

2. Pull one card a day and write about the card in your journal; your own impressions first, followed by something you learned from the book. Be sure to notice any cards that show up more than once in a week or a month; those cards are calling you!

3. Do a “Getting to Know You” Spread.

My friend Deb Strom likes to ask a new deck these three questions:

  • What type of relationship will we have?
  • What must I do in this relationship?
  • What will I receive in this relationship?

I would add a fourth question:

  • How can I best serve the spirit of this deck?

4. Do an Interview Spread.

I first saw this spread on an Instagram post by Morgan Josey Glover, and I love it. She says that when she gets a new deck she asks it the following questions to set intentions for working with it. It’s a variation of a spread in Courtney Alexander’s guidebook to the Dust II Onyx Tarot.

  • What is your main characteristic?
  • What is your strength?
  • What is your weakness?
  • What is the key lesson you teach?
  • How do you deliver your wisdom?
  • What is the potential outcome of our relationship?

(Morgan posted a two-part video of her interview spread with the Herbcrafter’s Tarot here. Very fun!)

5. After pulling a card from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot, pull the corresponding card from the Gaian Tarot or another favorite deck to compare and enhance the meaning of the card.

6. Look at your Birth Cards to see which plants may be calling you as allies for further study and relationship. (For example, my Birth Cards are the Tower / Chariot. In the HCT, the corresponding plants are Mushroom and Cedar.)

You can learn how to calculate your own Tarot Birth Cards from our friends at the Tarot School here.

My friend Sara Galactica is doing some lovely work reframing tarot birth card “constellations” as ecosystems. Read all about it here.

Herbcrafter's Tarot Empress Rose7. Take a few cards that particularly call you and anchor them in the physical world by crafting with the plants. For example, for Rose, Latisha shares these suggestions in the HCT book:

Crafting with the Empress

Arrange rose thorns and petals together on your altar to cultivate vulnerability and strength.

Create a rosary out of rose buds, rose hips, or dried rose petal beads for love and compassion.

Celebrate the many stages of life by learning the remedies for each season of the rose: rose buds for childhood, full blooms for midlife, and hips for elderhood.

I’m sure you have your own favorite way of getting to know a new deck too. I hope these ideas are helpful!