Weekly Heart Message

  

The Little Monsters Tarot by Olivia Ephraim Pepper & Peony Coin Archer

Heart-Message

Stand up for what you believe in. It shows integrity and inner light. But be sure that you are not forgetting to stand up for and care for yourself!

———

Heart-Search

It is a beautiful thing to be enthusiastic and passionate about something (a cause, a belief, etc). And if we aren’t careful, we can quickly burn ourselves out. That’s one of the lessons of the element of fire. You can do amazing things with it, but if you become careless, it is so easy to get burned or to burn others. So in your passion, be sure you are also prioritizing taking care of yourself, or else you may soon find that you don’t have any energy left to fuel your passion. Your Star deserves to shine brightly, but be sure you don’t burn up all of your fuel.

  • What do you feel passionately about?
  • How do you stand up for what you believe in?
  • How can you make sure that you are regularly caring for yourself so that you don’t burn out?

It’s ok to take breaks and allow others to carry the torch for a time. Sometimes you’ll be the torch-bearer, and sometimes you’ll need to rest.

Weekly Heart-Message

  

The Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee & Kipling West, U.S. Games Inc. ©2012

Heart-Message

You have a beautiful heart and soul. You are worthy of love and care.

———

Heart-Search

Self-doubt and insecurity have a sneaky way of setting up shop in our hearts and minds and convincing us that we aren’t good enough, are fundamentally flawed, or are deserving of the unfair or unkind treatment we may receive. You have the power to combat those ideas by consciously adding positive self talk.

  • What are the negative ideas or beliefs that you have about yourself?
  • Think of a positive phrase you can say to yourself to combat each of those beliefs.

For example, if you believe that you are too “needy” in a relationship for asking for certain treatment, you can combat that by saying, “I am a person worthy of love and care. It is ok for me to have needs and to speak about them.” One day at a time, you can begin to change those thoughts until your truly believe that you are a beautiful, shining, amazing soul!

Weekly Heart-Message

  

Earthly Souls & Spirits Oracle by Terri Foss, 1st edition

Heart-Message

You get to define what prosperity means for you and to seek out that which fills your heart with light.

———

Heart-Search

Often, a culture can define prosperity relatively narrowly, and while cultural pressures can be great, we do possess agency. Agency is the ability of a person to think, make choices, and act as an individual. Our lives are a balance between structure (cultural learning and enforcement) and agency. Some social pressures feel so great, but when we finally gather the courage to challenge them in our lives, we find that the world continues to spin, and that rather than feeling greater pressure for stepping outside the box, we can actually feel more free. We find other people who define their goals and values in the same way, and we discover that the dominant culture is not the only culture available to us.

  • How do you define prosperity?
  • In what ways is this in line with and/or at odds with dominant cultural ideas about prosperity?
  • What kinds of actions or choices can you make to create prosperity (as you define it) in your life?
  • Where can you find others who feel the same way you do, who will offer support and light?

Weekly Heart-Message

  

The Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee & Kipling West, U.S. Games Inc. ©2012

Heart-Message

Don’t let heartache steal your spark or turn you into someone you don’t want to be.

———

Heart-Search

A broken heart or betrayal can send you reeling, wondering what happened and questioning your own sense of self and safety. During this time, it is very easy to let the storm in the Three of Bats douse our inner flame of truth, of self, of hopes. It can be easy to want to get even, or get to the bottom of what happened, or make sure that your heart is guarded against all future possible aches. These are normal responses, but be sure to pause and ask yourself if the ends justify the means. Absolutely take care of yourself and protect yourself, but be sure you are approaching these tasks while holding true to your core values. You may have lost a piece of yourself or some of your innocence, but don’t lose your entire sense of self.

If anything, it is important to bolster your sense of self. To make sure that you have a strong, core understanding of who you are, or it will be extremely difficult to find your footing again. Take the time to nurture the injured parts of you, to give yourself unconditional love, and to know that you are good enough as you are without having to change yourself in some fundamental way.

  • Have you ever had a heartache that made you question your sense of self and/or your core values?
  • How did you respond to this experience?
  • What are some ways that you could honor and nurture your core sense of self in the present and if something like this ever happened again?
  • What are some ways you can work to protect your heart while remaining true your core values?

Weekly Heart-Message

  

Fairy Lights Tarot by Lucia Mattioli, Lo Scarabeo ©2011

Heart-Message

Who will you be? Each morning that you wake up, you get to decide. Embrace this power.

———

Heart-Search

We all have things about ourselves that we don’t exactly love. Perhaps a habit or thought process, perhaps the way we respond to others in certain situations. Whatever it is, know that you do have the power to change it. Usually, these changes are not going to take place overnight, so don’t beat yourself up if you resolve to change something and it doesn’t happen immediately. These things take time and practice, and that is where your power lies. In the determination to put one foot in front of the other and to stand back up when you stumble. Eventually, each step will become easier and feel more natural until your new way of being truly becomes a part of you.

  • What are the parts of yourself you would like to work on growing, changing, or exchanging?
  • Which feels the least intimidating to start with?
  • What is one single thing you can do to begin facilitating that change?
  • What positive affirmation can you give yourself when you stumble?

Your one single thing that you can do to facilitate the beginnings of change doesn’t have to be huge and elaborate. It can be a small affirmation each morning or a new thought you will consciously work to add to your days. It can be a small habit to practice before stepping up to larger changes. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but do challenge yourself. It’s a fine line, and it’s ok if you stumble. Make sure you have some words of compassion for yourself for those days that you aren’t doing so well. “That’s ok, I will try again tomorrow.” “Everyone stumbles, so this is normal. I can always try again.” Whatever will be most effective for you.

Weekly Heart-Message

  
Three Witchinlings cards (wish, transformation, and opportunity) sit above some crystals (green calcide, blue calcite, blue topaz, agate slice, chrysocolla, and pineapple quartz) on a linen cloth

Witchlings by Paulina Cassidy, U.S. Games Inc. ©2014

Heart-Message

All transformations, even the huge giant ones, start somewhere. Pay attention to your wishes, and don’t dismiss them immediately as silly fantasies.

———

Heart-Search

We have all kinds of wishes — some are pure fantasy, others are possible, and some fall somewhere in between where we aren’t quite sure how realistic they may be. Don’t lump all of your wishes together as fantasy. While some transformations come about from Tower moments, others start as Wishes. Wishes can become plans and those plans can become reality. Like seeds, there is power within our wishes waiting to be unleashed when given water, nutrients, sunlight, and care.

  • What do you wish for?
  • Which wishes are pure fantasy? Which are surely possible? And which are more difficult to discern?

Think of at least one wish that is possible and create a plan to bring it to fruition. Choose an “easy” one (relative to other wishes). For me this might be something as silly as, “I wish this living room wasn’t so messy!” Take your plan and put it into action.

Keep practicing until you feel more comfortable working on wishes that originally felt impossible or too difficult or too scary. You can be your very own fairy godmother 🙂

Weekly Heart-Message

  

Medicine Cards: Revised, Expanded Edition by Jamie Sams, David Carson, & Angela Werneke, St. Martin’s Press ©1999

Heart-Message

You contain a magic that is unique to you. Own your magic, and don’t feel like you have to share it with everyone.

———

Heart-Search

When we look around us, it can be easy to see the gifts of others, admire them, and feel that we don’t have as much to offer. That just isn’t true! You are surrounded by your magic constantly, so you may not recognize it for what it is. Look inside with love and compassion and identify what magic you carry. When you find it, you get to decide how much you share with the world and how much you keep to yourself. You don’t owe the world all of your magic — you deserve to keep some just for yourself 🙂

  • Do you discount or have a hard time recognizing your own magic when you look around and see what others are doing?
  • What magic do you carry? What talents, skills, or abilities do you possess that make you glow with warmth?
  • Where do you feel comfortable sharing this magic?
  • What parts of this magic do you want to keep your own little secret?

 

Weekly Heart-Message

  

Dream Raven Tarot by Beth Seilonen, Schiffer Publishing LTD copyright 2013

Heart-Message

Rather than fear the shadow aspects of myself, may I shine a loving light upon them.

———

Heart-Search

We all have parts of ourselves we aren’t proud of, that we battle with, and that we find difficult to change despite these feelings. Shame can be useful to a point — it helps us to know that there is something we don’t like and don’t want to nurture or indulge in ourselves.

But if we take shame too far, we may retreat, assume we are somehow fundamentally bad, and feel powerless to create any needed change. Shadow work is hard, but it shouldn’t keep us from growing and loving ourselves. Take the childlike curiosity of the Page and examine your inner self:

  • What are my shadows?
  • When do they appear? (What circumstances or around what people?)
  • What would I like to replace these shadows with? Or how would I like to modify these shadows?
  • What might the roots of these shadows be?

Take a non-judgemental, compassionate approach and know that though the work is not easy, it is worthwhile. This Raven did not reach the World by ignoring their shadows or belittling themselves. Shine a loving light on your own shadows, and begin the slow, fulfilling journey of becoming the person you know you are meant to be.

Animal Voices: Bee in the Cards

  

Welcome to the first installment of Animal Voices! Today I’ll be exploring the messages that Bee brings through my tarot and oracle decks.

The Lovers

The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brinks & Ola Liola, CICO Books ©2013; The Animal Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews, Dragonhawk Press ©2007

Both The Animal Wisdom Tarot and The Animal-Wise Tarot place the bee on the Lovers card. Each of these decks emphasizes the role that bees play in the process of pollination. Without this process, many foods that humans rely on would be in danger. Here, Bee speaks to doing the work that is necessary to not only survive, but to thrive. I think the imagery of flowers in this process can also speak to beauty in work. Not all work has to be draining and awful. (Some will be – sometimes a lot will be depending on where we are in our life). Work can also be fulfilling and enlightening – something we can love. As a teacher, grading is not exactly my most favorite thing in the world, but those meaningful classroom discussions or aha moments are divine. They leave me glowing and feeling like I’ve really accomplished something and witnessed something beautiful.

Both decks also associate bees with sexual energy, which would be hard to ignore as a possible reading in The Lovers. However, bee sex isn’t exactly super sexy. For honeybees, the male drops dead right after, and the queen is the only female that mates. Very utilitarian, which a lot of animal sex is I suppose. The other females are sterile. While maybe a dolphin or bonobo (or indeed humans) would make a more “sexy” commentary on sex, I think this is actually super interesting.

Starting with the obvious, these bees are not reinforcing ideas about monogamy, which is a pretty powerful norm in U.S. culture (speaking for my own culture). Moving to what may seem less obvious, I’m curious about the celibate workers. While U.S. culture has pretty strong norms (that are indeed beginning to shift, but still powerful) regarding monogamy, heterosexuality, gender as binary, etc — we are also kind of sex-obsessed. We are surrounded by messages that put romantic love and(/or) sex on a pedestal. How many songs, tv shows, movies, magazine stories, popular books, and more center on love, sex, or both? Sexually romantic relationships are held up as the best, most valued kind of relationship — worth more time and effort than any other. The cultural assumption is that everyone wants and wishes for this type of relationship, but this is not in fact true of everyone.

So what are bees doing on The Lovers card if so many are lover-less? Because this card deserves to be read with more nuance. There’s nothing wrong if a romantic or sexual relationship is what the card speaks to in a reading, but that should not be the default assumption. I think these non-sexual bees can be read in at least two ways. First, we can love ourselves (which can be sexual, but doesn’t have to be), we can love our family and friends, we can love our community, we can love the divine. And all of these types of relationships are valuable — no sex, sexual tension, butterflies, or baseball metaphors needed! And in a culture so obsessed with sex and romance, we should stop to evaluate whether we are giving each of these areas enough of our love and attention.

Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk, Riverhead Books copyright 1996

Secondly, I think these bees can speak to celibacy — whether someone is sexual or asexual, whether celibate by choice or by circumstance. The first book that awoke my spiritual seeking was Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk. Her discussion of celibacy is one of the pieces that has stuck with me most closely over the years. She says that in a sex-obsessed culture, “Orgasm becomes just another goal; we undress for success. It’s no wonder that in all this powerful noise, the quiet tones of celibacy are lost; that we have such trouble comprehending what it could mean to dedicate one’s sexual drives in such a way that genital activity and procreation are precluded. But celibate people have taught me that celibacy, practiced rightly, does indeed have something valuable to say to the rest of us” (117). Celibacy doesn’t have to be an idealized state, nor does it have to mean a hatred of sex (116). Without sex, how might sexual energy be expressed? What kind of care might be put into all relationships? At the same time, I know that for many folks, reclaiming or owning the sexual parts of themselves is also empowering and freeing – there are so many double standards and mixed messages in U.S. culture regarding sex. It’s an amazingly complex topic culturally, and for so many, personally. Bees can perhaps help us to examine the different facets of sexuality, sexual energy, and love, what these mean to us, and what we would find personally empowering. I know these are all things I am seeking to understand in my own life.

In The Animal Wisdom Tarot, I love the renaming of this card to “Heart Awakener.” Where The Animal-Wise Tarot emphasizes creation, choice, and sexuality, The Animal Wisdom Tarot further emphasizes to us that love is not only externalized, it can and should be internalized as well. Dawn Brunke writes in the guidebook, “[T]his card also indicates a profound opportunity to come home to self. […] Through Honeybee we recognize – and may actualize – our longing to meet our soul, to discover who we really are, and awaken spiritual divinity within” (24).

So The Lovers card at face value certainly can be about romantic and/or sexual relationships, but I think that the bees here do a good job of showing us the nuance that is not only possible, but deeply important as well.

The Wands

The Animals Divine Tarot and The Animal Totem Tarot both place the bee in the suit of Wands. This seems very fitting since bees are such hard workers, always gathering and creating. And of course Wands can speak to sexual energy as well.

Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt, Llewellyn Publications ©2005

For The Animals Divine Tarot, the bee represents the Seven of Wands. Hunt writes that this card can speak to doing the hard work even when there are obstacles. Not letting the barriers in your path keep you from pursuing your dream. I love the colors in this card. So vibrantly green and yellow — the colors of life and growth and light. Often the Seven of Wands is represented as a stressful scene of self-defense, and this is a lovely departure from that. This isn’t to say that overcoming obstacles is easy peasy, lemon squeezy, but I always enjoy a new depiction. While sometimes obstacles really will be too large to overcome, I think there are many times that what is needed is this bee’s stick-to-it-ive-ness. If we have come up against failure many times, if others have ridiculed or scoffed at our dreams, we may be tempted to slink away and let them go. This message from the bees of the Animals Divine Tarot encourages us to keep trying, when possible.

For the Animal Totem Tarot, the bee is found on the Six of Wands. This deck speaks to the idea that a success for one person is a success for the community. When a bee finds a flower, it is not just a win for that bee, it will ultimately help the entire hive. I think the depiction of the bee in this deck speaks well to its guidebook meaning of communal wins. We see a blue ribbon hanging on a wreath. The ribbon may be a prize for the construction of the wreath itself, or perhaps the wreath is part of the prize.

Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson & Eugene Smith, Llewellyn Publications ©2016

Either way, we seem to be set in a country or pastoral place, a farm perhaps. Whether this ribbon has been won for the lovely wreath, the biggest zucchini, or a prize pig, bees have played a part in pollinating the flowers, the zucchini, or the plants that the prize pig feasts upon. The bees may not go back to their hive with the ribbon, but that doesn’t mean that they have done nothing of value. I think this is a beautiful representation of what we often find in the tarot community. I don’t see a lot of cutthroat competition. People encourage each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and generally seem to really believe that there is room for us all and that we can all learn and grow together.

Carl Sagan said, “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” Say you made an apple pie “from scratch.” You cut up fresh apples, but did you grow them? Maybe you did, but did you pollinate the flowers? Did you build your oven, mine the metals for your knife, dig up the clay for your pie pan? If we go far enough back, it all goes back and back and back until we reach a capital-B Beginning – to perhaps Spirit, Source, Creator, the Divine. We are all a part of community and cannot do anything really and truly alone. This isn’t an example to make us feel bad (gee, I don’t grow my own fruit so my cobblers aren’t good anymore), but to show us how embedded in community we are. It can be a beautiful thing to realize.

The Oracles

The three oracle decks that provide messages from the bee also emphasize the collective, community aspect of bee life. It’s essential, integral, central to how bees function. Though humans may not share a hive-mind, we are social creatures and work, love, play, and exist within community. Some may be more extroverted, some may not actually interact with other people very often, but we are fundamentally social creatures.

Creatures of the Moon: A Storytelling Oracle by Rebecca Schoenecker ©2017; The Druid Animal Oracle by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Connections Book Publishing ©2005; Creatures’ Secrets Animal Divination Cards by Yelizaveta Bakhtina ©2015

In Rebecca Schoenecker’s Creatures of the Moon guidebook, she tells a story of how Queen Bee used to try and do all of the work herself. She collapsed under the weight of so much until other bees came to help and nursed her back to health. This is a wonderful warning against taking on too much ourselves as individuals. We can’t carry the weight of the world, and there is nothing wrong with embedding ourselves in a community of others who wish to mutually support each other and work toward the same goals or with the same values. And in the Bees card of this deck, we see four bees buzzing around their hive. This is the most number of bees we see in any of the cards examined here; this card visually emphasizes the community message that bees can bring to us.

In The Creatures’ Secrets guidebook, Yelizaveta Bakhtina cautions against too much inactivity. While rest is an important part of a healthy, balanced life, too much can send us into a slump — I know that is true for me, especially with my depression. Being active or busy doesn’t have to mean unpleasantness. What is something you can do that would bring you joy? That you can lose yourself and not even feel like you’re “working”? Different ability statuses can change what this means, so don’t expect this bee’s message to apply identically to everyone. Adapt it to your own capacities.

Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm’s description of the bee in their guidebook offers another message of hard work and community, but with the addition of celebration, which we haven’t seen in the other cards so far. Bees produce honey, which is used me make mead, which can be used for making merry. This can speak to both celebration within community and reaping the sweet fruits of your labor. Honey alone, without alcohol, is reason for celebration I believe! Mr. Donkey, who does not drink alcohol, always makes sure I put plenty of honey in his tea when I make it because it is delicious and wonderful! Celebrate the beautiful things you create through your work, and celebrate with loved ones whenever you can — you don’t even need to have a “good” reason to do so.

The Shadow

Like with all things, there are shadow aspects to the message of the bee as well. As I mentioned earlier, not everyone has the same capacity for work. Bees can bring a message that may make some of us feel badly for not being able to “pull our own weight” in various areas of our lives. And while bees’ message can be tricky here, I think this can be combated by another bee message: we are all interdependent. Western culture fiercely values independence, and this message can be so damaging for marginalized folks who are told that if they don’t succeed it is due entirely to their own failure (lack of drive, not trying hard enough, etc) rather than the socio/structural organization of many cultures. So I think it is important to tease out bees’ message of interdependence to counter-balance the message of “hard work” that is often used synonymously with rugged individualism.

Bees on purple coneflowers

Bees on purple coneflowers from my last trip to MN.

Bees also function so well as a group because everyone knows their “place” and what they are supposed to be doing. For folks who are marginalized or feel different or outcast, this could potentially feel like a scolding to conform or to assimilate. Or perhaps as criticism for daring to be different. We don’t have to conform to all the norms and expectations around us to be a valuable person or community member. As a counter-point to the praise of community, the Animals Divine Tarot (Seven of Wands) cautions us to maintain our individuality. Like at the core of so many messages that tarot delivers, balance is important. While community can be supportive and uplifting, if we lose sight of who we are as individuals, community has the potential to be unsafe. If we allow a group identity to subsume our own, then we may cease to think critically for ourselves or think that any poor treatment we are receiving from our community members (family, friends, work, etc) is justified. Self-esteem and a healthy sense of who you are as an individual is important.

I was gifted the bee as a personal symbol by a group of amazing, incredible women at a retreat hosted by Rachel Maddox earlier this year. Since then, I have shared an intensely personal connection with bees as role models and messengers. This exploration of the different ways that bees are represented in my tarot and oracle cards has further deepened my love for and appreciation of this animal. While so much of Bee’s message is about community, this experience allowed me to find myself as an individual on such a deep level. And that has allowed me to more fully be engaged in community in healthy ways.

Weekly Heart-Message

  

The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews, Dragonhawk Press copyright 2007

Heart-Message

My I love myself enough to reclaim what is mine – to not allow others (or indeed myself) to bury me in the rubble of a chaotic fall.

———

Heart-Search

“Pride goeth before a fall.” So says a paraphrased scripture from the book of James in the Christian Bible. But we need to think about the role of pride after we’ve experienced the Tower. Even if pride played a roll in precipitating this Tower experience, that doesn’t mean you should write pride off as an all-evil trait. Tarot’s greatest lesson is balance, and just as too much pride can get us in hot water, so too little pride can wreak havoc in our lives. If we lack pride, we may choose to never extract ourselves from the rubble of the Tower. We may allow others to belittle us and believe we deserve that treatment. Pride is a part of the recipe for healthy self-perception and therefore for interactions with others in the world around us.

    • Have you had an experience that crushed your pride or left you will a great feeling of self-doubt or unworthiness?
    • If you struggle or have struggled with a lack of pride, what is the internal narrative that keeps a healthy pride from growing within you? (It can be good to write these down — actually see them and put them into specific words.)
    • How might you replace these messages? What are counter-arguments you can consciously say to yourself to combat these self-destructive thoughts?
    • What are you proud of? What accomplishments and character traits should you let yourself embrace with pride?

It might feel very silly to have a conversation with your own thoughts if it’s not something you’ve done before, but the narrative you keep (whether conscious or unconscious) is powerful. So it can be incredibly empowering to take control of that narrative and create a new story that is a better reflection of who you are — which is a person worthy of love, respect, kindness, and care.