The Fairy Ring Oracle

fairy ring oracle boxIt’s been a long time since I posted in here with anything original. I’ve been lacklustre for a long while due to ill health. Anyway, I recently purchased a fabulous new oracle deck called The Fairy Ring Oracle by Anna Franklin. Now this deck is styled along the lines of a tarot deck (with suits covering Spring, Summer, autumn and Winter) and numbered cards with character cards such as King and Queen. However, this is where any similarity ends as it is NOT a tarot deck. The link above will take you to Aeclectic Tarot website with a preview of the cards and reviews. It is a large deck, with 60 cards, although it’s nice to find cards that are easy to shuffle as these are not over-sized cards. The deck is based on Celtic (British and Irish) folklore of the Fae, including such characters as the Phooka, Billy Winker (i.e. Wee Willy Winkee), faery animals, the Baen Sith and many others; some good and some bad. The deck is designed to be read with reversals also. What I really like is the lovely art work, which is vibrant and alive. The guide book is an actual book (not a LWB tiny pamphlet) and has history and lore about each character, divinatory meanings and also reversed meanings, along side various spreads and extra information and activities such as path workings with each card. The author, Anna Franklin, is a respected pagan writer who has also written, amongst other things, a glorious book entitled Herbcraft: a guide to the shamanic and ritual use of herbs, which is full of really great information for any discerning witch or pagan.

I’m really looking forward to working with this deck over the coming weeks as I feel really drawn to it, not just because of my love of the Fae, folklore and history but also because I think the Fae are tugging me in this direction to get me over my current ‘hump’. So I’m going to be drawing a card each Sunday as a ‘card of the week’ mainly for my own guidance but hopefully there will be something for my readers to glean from it too. I know I’ve started doing this kind of thing before and not kept up with it but I think you have to have a deck you’re REALLY enthused with and also feeling in the right place. So let’s give it a go.

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Card of the Week wb: Monday 24th March 2014

IlluminationI’ve just begun to use a new Oracle deck in preparation for the next deck study with Sacred Mists. It is a beautiful deck by a Native American woman called Linda Ewashina, with really evocative artwork by Jody Bergsma. Based on the medicine wheel of Native American tradition it’s called Spirit of the Wheel [meditation deck]. Although sold as a meditation deck it is, in fact, an oracle deck. however one can use it for meditation too; in fact it really lends itself to this (as does any oracle deck).

So, today I drew ILLUMINATION: Spirit path of the East. Now I make no claims to really know anything about Native American traditions, which is something that drew me to this deck (and the fact it was suggested by a very dear friend of mine). But I thought this card was rather pertinent for a new adventure and oracle study.  Illumination…don’t we all want a bit of that at times? Especially when we are going through situations that are a bit muddied by emotions etc. Traditionally (for me at least) the direction of East has always been tied with knowledge and inspiration. On the card we see a bird of prey (is it an eagle or a hawk?). It doesn’t matter really because what most of us do know is that birds of prey have excellent vision. They can spot their dinner from high up, at long distances and, in the case of the owl, in dim light. So I think this picture  this guide – is helping us to realise that we need to have this kind of spiritual eyesight, or you can think of it in metaphorical terms if you like.

We don’t always see the full picture of any situation do we. It may because we’re too emotionally close to a situation, or perhaps not involved enough. This can lead us to be fixed in our thinking and judgements. However, if we have a bigger picture, a larger vista (like a bird of prey) we can see a lot more and so understand more.

How do we do this? Is it possible for us small humans to transcend our view of things? Well, yes it is but like the card says in its suggested key words, we need Divine Communication, Spiritual Knowing and Inner Light. We ALL have these no matter what our religion (if any) or our world view. The approaches might be different but the end result is the same. Some other associations for these three things might be – spirit guides, ancestors, intuition, gut feeling, prayer and Higher Power etc. We can work on drawing closer to these things, trusting their help and guidance. Of course we probably won’t get the feeling of ZAP! And everything is clearer although it might be – synchronicity has a part to play here if you’re open to it.

Another thing I drew from this card is *patience*. Sometimes birds of prey have to spend large amounts of time scanning the ground from on high looking for their prey. They wheel and arch on the thermals, flying in circles for minutes on end but they don’t give up. This is what we need to do also; we need patience with ourselves and others AND the Universe – it doesn’t always give us the answer straight away and it most often doesn’t give us the answer our human ego wants but will prove the one that is best for us.

Some associations for the direction of East:

Now you may have very different associations here but some of mine are – dawn, rosy sunrise, air, the birds dawn chorus, birds (in general), yellow, Beith (Ogham for Birch), new beginnings, renewal, Sylphs (spirits of air), Aventurine, Yellow Jasper, Lavender, Eyebright, Meadowsweet.

The Keeper of the Scales

the keeper of the scalesWho is the Keeper of the Scales? The Goddesses Maat, Isis and Themis are all personifications of fairness and balance, associated with scales of justice. Weighing things up, good or bad, right or wrong. The thing is to achieve a balance in our lives and that’s not easy. When we are out of balance, either too high on happiness or contentment – this can lead to us to becoming ungrateful and taking things for granted. The other way, when we are bowed down with the heaviness of sorrow, or just plain stress leads to depression and the giving up of joy and hope. Both these are unbalanced.

I know when I become unbalanced and can feel both these extremes at times. The lesson is to bring myself back into balance with the universe. How do you do that? And what does being balanced ‘feel’ like? Well, it’s not easy, at least I haven’t found it so. For me it meant becoming aware of myself and the world around me, dealing with my ego, which is a hard thing to do and brings up aspects of myself I’d rather not look at thank you very much. But it has to be done. I HAVE to look at my selfishness, my jealousy, my sorrow and my anger. I HAVE to learn to accept the past and truly know it IS the past. Nothing can change it – it was what it was! So acceptance is very important.

So is forgiveness. however, forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending it’s all alright. It means letting go. People have done wrong to me and I’ve done wrong to others too. I am truly sorry. I cannot speak for those who have done wrong to me but I forgive them. Mainly because they were not aware. How can you be held responsible if you’re not aware? I’ve learnt valuable lessons from the hurt and disappointment and I’m actually grateful for that. Through becoming aware I can see the lessons now.

I can forgive myself for the hurt I’ve caused others. Yes, there will always be a certain amount of guilt and sorrow that I will always carry with me and that is my karma but I no longer have to wear a hair cloth shirt and beat myself up continually. If I’d been aware in the past I’d have done things differently but I was not aware.

What does balance feel like? It feels like a calmness, an inner serenity, a mindfulness. Of course mindfulness is a daily practice and if I don’t do this with awareness then the serenity and calmness diminishes. Bring myself back to the present moment – what needs to be attended to? What do I need to direct my undivided focus on? Everything you do, do it with awareness and mindfulness, do it with beauty and joy in mind. Even if feeling sorrowful, honour your sorrow – your tears are precious. Are you happy? Then honour your laughter too.

Allow the universe to guide you in all things. When we forge ahead with our ‘ego’ wants we can become unbalanced. The ego tells us it needs such and so forth but in reality we don’t need this. We only think we do. Get out of your head and into your heart, for that is where true balance lies.

The Eagle King

the eagle kingI decided to use a different oracle deck. I’ve been drawn to use Collette Baron Reid’s Wisdom of the Hidden Realms and pulled The Eagle King today.

Rather pertinent I think – about seeing the bigger picture, a vaster perspective, just like the eagle does. Sometimes I do feel like I cannot see the wood for the trees and feel as though I’m going around in circles, both in my mundane life and spiritually. Really I suppose this is sometimes necessary, so one doesn’t miss the lessons and gets another chance at mastery but it’s also good to just allow Spirit to fly like an eagle and know that one’s prayers are reaching The Source, the universe. We, as mere humans, just cannot see all – we’re too puny, but Spirit can and does. At times things might be hidden from us because it’s just not the right time, or we are not ready for the next step but rest assured that time will come, at ‘just’ the right moment.

Holding the Yew tree in mind

Today I began to use Mickie Mueller’s Voice of the Trees oracle deck properly for the first time. I’ve had it a while as it is the next deck we will be studying in my Oracle Class. It’s so pertinent that I pulled Idho (pronounced EE-yoh) or Yew at this time because I feel, very much, that I’m on the cusp of entering a new phase of my life in a few ways. firstly, let me explain how I’ve been feeling lately…to sum it all up in three words…confused, angry, scared! I’ve been fighting rather than going with the flow, which I think has added to my feelings of confusion, anger and fear. Silly me! Things are happening around that bring up these feelings that I’ve either been ignoring or trying to deny completely. I should know better shouldn’t I? Well yes but I’m a pitiful human being with an ego and I sometimes get distracted with my monkey mind. Then synchronicity happens and my patron deities or my guides bring me back to ‘reality’ with a big thump. When I say reality, it means MY spiritual reality, the one that sings to my soul, and it’s very different from other people’s sense of reality (but each one of us has a multitude of realities that are different from other people’s but that’s another story). Anyway, so I pulled Idho/Yew and was immediately confronted with the Crone…or as I see her Cerridwen, Goddess of Transformation. I’ve been neglecting her and I’m amazed she hasn’t upped and left. But instead here she is calling:

The oldest of the woods has come into view

The Crone at your service, she summons to you

Now you know a rite of passage does await

Leave something behind as you step through the gate.

Yes, it does feel rather like I’m approaching a rite of passage, maybe even a couple. In 4 weeks my group therapy ends and to be honest I’m very pleased yet also fearful as I’ve been in this therapy group for about 3 years. We’ve laughed and cried together for so long and I guess I’ve been able to build up some trust within the group. In some ways I feel understood but in others I still feel misunderstood. Anyway, after this the therapy ends…what then? I think Cerridwen is calling me to step up to the plate and stop being fearful. I feel like a snivelling child in her presence and she admonishes me with a wagging finger but says very kindly ‘come on lady…you KNOW what to do’. Yes, I DO know what to do! Completing therapy feels a bit like growing up and reaching adulthood, I can pretend I don’t know but really I do; the answers lie within…always!

The second rite of passage has to do with my age and my dear daughter getting hand-fasted next year. Yes, I know I’m not ‘in’ the menopause yet but I’m approaching it and of course my hormones are a bit out of whack sometimes. My body can no longer do what it used to do and I am reaping what I’ve sown in the past with pretty much a decrepid body now. I’m not blaming anyone or anything…it is what it is! But I am at the top of the hill now looking down on the valley below – a bit fearful of what I will encounter on this side. I’m always going to be a mother but my ‘little’ girl is no longer little and is beginning a life of her own with a wonderful man, and possibly moving away in the next few years. Sometimes I ask myself where does that leave me? Cronehood beckons and I’m a little apprehensive.

Then Cerridwen appears and throws herbs and plants into her large cauldron of inspiration and gives it a good stirring. She looks at me with a sharp eye but gently says ‘it all goes into the cauldron of life and comes out transformed and renewed, don’t fear it, embrace it!’ It’s all well and good for her not to fear it but I’m a mere human being and sometimes, despite my wisdom (such as it is) I still shit bricks! Ok, maybe not quite as bad as that but I still worry and fear stuff to a degree. But this is where Idho/Yew comes in I think.

My earliest memories are of the three Yew trees that grew in my grandmother’s front garden; no wonder it was so gloomy and dark there. As a child I had a fascination for its bark, which kind of grows in thin dark browny-purple ‘plates’. As one plate falls it exposes rosy-reddish new plates underneath. Of course, being a child I would pick at these plates and pull them off the trees, only to be reprimanded by my mother, who told me NOT to touch the trees because they were poisonous. I also knew that Yews grew in graveyards and for the longest time I just thought Yews only grew in two places – graveyards and my grandmother’s front garden, which instilled in me the fear that my grandmother’s house was haunted and I never wanted to sleep the night there. When I look back how little I knew (not surprising, I was very young) but how little my mother knew and all this claptrap about how Yews were ‘bad’. I do actually think my grandmother’s house had spirits within it but they never hurt me, although I still never liked sleeping there.

Anyway, it is true that Yews are found predominantly in church yards. Why is this? Well, the ancient druids held the Yew in high regard and it is, in fact, one of their sacred trees. The Yew grew prolifically in Britain’s (and Europe’s) primordial forests. As time went on Druids kept these ancient trees (there is one in England that is said to be over 4000 years old) as part of their groves and symbolic entrances to the Underworld because the Yew has always been associated with death, transitions, endings but also rebirth and renewal. It made sense for druids to establish their sacred groves and places of worship amongst trees that were sacred to them. Then Christianity came along and one way the priests converted the people was to build their churches on already established sacred places. Hence the reason why many very old Yew trees still survive in many old church yards to this day – it really is sacred ground but existed long before Christianity. So Yew trees do have a connection with death. but in the Celtic tradition, that of my ancestors, death is not a finish, and end…well it might be the end of one thing but it is also the beginning of something else. You see the Celts did not work with linear time at all but with cyclic time, a never-ending spiral of birth, death and renewal. how does this relate to Yews? Well this is a tree that actually renews itself and very rarely dies (except if it is cut down, and even then it can renew itself). The Yew stands for so long that eventually it becomes hollow and this original part may well die BUT the wonderful thing is that during its life-time it sends out shoots around it and new growth appears – these are all part of the original tree, and so in a way, the original tree never dies but merely goes on renewing itself, growing larger and larger until it is even difficult for dendrochronologists to even ascertain its real age.

So the meaning of Yew is one of transition, how appropriate for me! Things pass and end but other things are born and grow. Of course this isn’t easy to accept – the fact that some part of my life (that I have attached to emotionally) is coming to an end and it can be a difficult process as the wood suggests. Yew wood was once used to make the long bows of warriors, as well as a wood used to test the edge of axes; this is because Yew produces a very hard wood. So spiritually we can take from this that the transition may be quite hard going and difficult. However, Yew has strong protective qualities (as used by the ancient druids as a cleansing and purification incense, along with Juniper). Additionally, despite its poisonous nature, it is actually a great healer. The ONLY part of the yew that is not poisonous is the flesh around the red berries (ask any blackbird!). However, under the use of an experienced and highly qualified herbalist, all the parts can actually be used for healing many ailments, even cancer.

So, I’ve gleaned some things already about the Yew – it is the means to help me transition, it is a protector and a healer, and although I’m not about to use the Yew in my herbal practise, I can use it symbolically and spiritually. Cerridwen stands at the entrance to the Underworld, she stands within the trunk of an ancient Yew, beckoning me to drink her brew. Cerridwen, the Goddess of change and transition, Yew, the tree of death and rebirth, of endings and beginnings. Both give a hard lesson – they know the going might get tough, that the transition will probably be painful, yet I have protection and I have healing.

So I must be strong, like the Yew’s wood, and relinquish the attachments I’ve made, or rather the ‘need’ for the attachments. But without clearing away the old and the death there is no room for the new is there…new possibilities, new challenges, new phases of life.

References:

A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine by Ellen Evert Hopman

Voice of the Trees by Mickie Mueller

Ogham: The Celtic Oracle of the Trees by Paul Rhys Mountfort

Daily Card: Island of the Revolting Beast

I’ve been a bit of a slacker in posting these daily cards due to my own inner turmoil at present. Nevertheless, here is today’s The Island of the Revolting Beast. At first glance it doesn’t seem a very nice card at all but of course on any inner journey one needs to look well beneath the surface of things in order to see the real value and hidden gems. Here’s what Caitlin has to say about this card:

Many Celtic characters undergo a physical contortion or agitation when excited or grieved, including the famous hero Cu Cúchulainn, whose exertions become so violent he has to be doused in a cauldron of cold water. The magical ability to shape shift is attested to in many stories.

The Challenge

In your current position, are you trying to stretch your abilities to match the situation, or the situation to match your abilities? Something is not working because you have not allowed for basic nature. Give everything its due.

The key words attached to this card are mental contortion, stress, showing off, illusion, changeable nature, failure to recognise the true state of things and vulnerability. I think recently I’ve been guilty of showing off and the hubris that comes with it, and now am paying the price. It’s easy, when we start a new venture, no matter how small it is, to be swept up in the excitement of the moment and not give any thought to what the new venture will really entail or its impact on us. Of course we do our home work, make plans etc and that is good but sometimes we are so swept up in the ecstatic maelstrom of this new adventure we can tend to forget ourselves. Then the new adventure becomes somewhat of a burden and we can be beset by thoughts such as…why am I really doing this? Will I be able to fulfil other people’s expectations? Will I be able to fulfil MY expectations? That’s when a good dousing of reality is needed, and that can be a bit of a shock. It’s time to come back down to earth and see the true nature of things, and our true natures also. This doesn’t mean we should not embark on new adventures, not at all, but we need to remember that an out of control ego can wreak havoc on us and ultimately cause us pain. Taking time out and allowing things to lie for a while is one way of regaining some equilibrium and balance.

The Daily Card: The Enchanted Map ~ Spark

Wow! I got a kick out of today’s pull from the Enchanted Map oracle deck ~ it is the card Spark. When I looked at it I thought I saw a face in the air hovering above the woman…a face shooting sparks of inspiration. As I scanned the picture and saw the card up close I realised it wasn’t there but if you look at the card with half-closed eyes you can definitely see a face. I think it is the woman’s muse. Anyway, here is what the book says about this card:

You are a clear channel for Divine creativity. There is a spark of creativity in you, and you have every reason to move forward with optimism and hope. Open yourself to inspiration and allow life to show you its beauty and your part in co-creating it. This is the perfect time to give birth to an idea, start a new relationship or job, or begin any endeavour. Attraction is high as you connect with others who can co-create joyous experiences and join with you in expressing the finer aspects of life. Watching a spark turn to a flame and stoking that fire is a gratifying activity.

How many times have I heard someone say ‘Oh I’m just not very creative’, too many times to mention and I think that there have been periods of my life when I’ve even said that myself too. The truth is we are ALL creative persons. We are this because we are in essence spirits having a human experience. It is only our human condition that puts the barriers up and blocks our innate creativity. When we look at the Universe we cannot help but see its wonderful creation – from our own beautiful planet and all that fills it, to the galaxy, the stars and nebulas and way beyond. Who cannot marvel at all this brilliant creativity?

Being creative is not about being a perfect artist or sculptor or musician although it can include those things. It is about co-creating something with the Universe that brings joy and meaning to you and others. Even if it doesn’t do much for others the main point is if it brings joy and meaning to you then it’s right. I’m not a great artist but I love using paints, found objects etc to create pictures in my ‘art’ scrapbook – what I create has meaning for me and it’s the process that counts. I’m not a great baker but I love making bread because it’s the process that brings me joy and fulfilment. It’s only the ego that says ‘it’s not good enough’ or ‘I’m not creative enough’ because we usually compare ourselves with what others are doing in their creative way. How do you know if you do not enter into the process? Co-creating with the Universe means tapping into the Divine source and when that happens wonderful things occur.

So today, be creative in whatever way feels right for you and enjoy the process.