THE BYZANTINE TAROT

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BYZANTINE box lid v8

This is my second tarot deck, published a few weeks ago. I have been using it (and the majority of people I read for have been choosing it) for the last week, and have been very pleased with how it reads. Because it’s much more illustrative than my Intuitive Tarot, I wasn’t sure how I would work with it once it came out – and the deck certainly does challenge my understanding of the established interpretations – but relaxing into the readings has allowed the deck to flower, as it were. For instance, the Tower (illustrated below) gives a very different take on the card – at least at first glance.


VI-tower

However, as the deck is based on Byzantine concepts and imagery, The Tower illustrates one of the Empire’s legendary figures, Simeon Stylites. As a very Christian society, a withdrawal from society was not only acceptable, it was lauded. Simeon chose a very definite withdrawal, to a tall pillar in the wilderness. However, people kept on following him and asking for advice and healing, so he chose a taller pillar … and so on. He spent 40 years on different pillars, his followers keeping him fed and sustained. So the meaning here, as in most decks, is of illumination and power, but it also speaks of human temptation and frailty (the serpent). Simeon chose his pillar after a divine revelation and then found he could not avoid his destiny, or the power that others ascribed to him.

A more conventional tarot image is The Hermit.

hermit-w-border-sm

 

This is based on an icon from St Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai which originally depicted Elijah. When I saw the image I immediately saw it as the tarot Hermit, even though the original did not have a lantern or staff. But without this icon, I would never have contemplated painting another tarot, so you might say he inspired me – or called me. John Matthews, who wrote the book, had also been called to produce a Byzantine Tarot some years previously, and it was the idea of collaborating on this deck that gave it the impetus it needed. But in a way, it was the Fool who really got it off the ground, at least for me.

The Holy Fool has always had a special resonance for me ever since 1973, when he appeared on my drawing pad when I was idly doodling one evening. That first image opened up a channel for me into the Otherworld, the rich archetypal place of dreams and imagination, and I have journeyed there ever since. So as soon as John and I had agreed we would collaborate, I keyed ‘Holy Fool’ into Google – and found, to my astonishment, that the Holy Fool was an established figure in Byzantine times. There are even books written about the Holy Fools of Byzantium (and Russia, which took over the mantle of orthodoxy after the Empire fell in 1453). That was all the confirmation I needed, and the Fool and the Hermit were the first figures I painted in this deck.

0-fool f2 Step sm

Three years later, the deck was complete, and I’d had the time of my life painting it! It’s now published by Red Wheel Weiser and Connections Publishing UK, and getting very favourable feedback.

I’ll post more about the historic Byzantine aspects of this deck shortly, as well as giving the spread I developed for the cards.

 

THE AMERICAN ELECTION

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I have drawn some cards to look at the outcome of the US election in two days’ time, though unfortunately it doesn’t look too hopeful – every card I’ve drawn is reversed.

The card for Mitt Romney is the Star (reversed); Obama gets the Ten of Cups (ditto), and when in desperation I asked well, who will be the president in the end, I got the King of Discs reversed.

I can’t say this makes me optimistic for the outcome: it certainly looks like America’s love affair with Obama is over, though I don’t need a crystal ball (or whatever) to tell me that.
TenCups reversed

Romney’s card is a Major Arcana, and is usually read as hope renewed after the trials and tribulations of life. But reversed it’s more about fading hope, the need for a new perspective and (I like this bit) unresolved pain disguised as arrogance or pessimism.

And what to make of the last card, the Presidential outcome – The King of Discs reversed?

King Discs Reversed

I’d say it looks like a hung vote which will need to go to a final recount – as happened with George W Bush and Al Gore and, given that the outcome is the King of Discs as opposed to, say, the King of Wands or Swords, it looks like Romney will get it. The reversal then indicates that it’s not a particularly great outcome. The King of Discs upside down is a businessman (i.e. Republican), obstinate, arrogant, insensitive, who considers his tactlessness ‘plain speaking’. He can be dull, greedy and inconsiderate, manipulative and controlling.

So unfortunately it looks like we’re going to return to an America with a dodo for president. The only consolation is that there are so many checks and balances on a bad president that he doesn’t get too many options to show his true colours. But our experience with Bush and, probably now with Romney, indicates that the Americans still tend to believe in pie-in-the-sky: Obama has done a huge amount quietly, taking risks when necessary but being cautious when he needed to be. Unfortunately he isn’t someone who enjoys talking himself up, and the GOP is very good at talking him down. All in all, if my interpretation of the cards is right, it’s a win for style over substance.

 

7th November 2012

Well, all I can say is thank god my interpretation was wrong!!!

 

BYZANTINE TAROT

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I have recently found a beautiful image of Elijah, from the St Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, and it’s fired me up about Byzantine art. There is already a Russian Orthodox tarot, the Golden Tarot of the Tsars, but it’s not painted by a tarot user so comes across more as an illustrated deck (not that this is a disadvantage for many people). It’s very beautiful, as the cards have embossed metallic backgrounds – Lo Scarabeo have really pulled the stops out for this one.

However, I’ll see how my guidance goes. Certainly, seeing this Elijah has sent me off on another journey to discover Byzantine art. And a recent holiday to Crete helped, as Crete – in addition to wondrous Minoan ruins – has a host of Byzantine images in monasteries and churches!

Epiphanies

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The Tarot Association of the British Isles has a tarot blog (http://tabitarot.blogspot.com/2012/03/temple-of-spirit.html) which I often find thought-provoking. Today’s was about epiphanies, which started me thinking about what the word implies.

According to http://dictionary.reference.com, the use of a capital letter Epiphany refers to the Christian festival on January 6th, when according to scripture the infant Christ encountered the Magi from the east. The Magi themselves conjure up interesting associations, but that’s a digression.

What I find particularly interesting is the next definition in the online dictionary, which is that of ‘an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity’. If we read the ancient scriptures – the Bible and the Sanskrit Vedas and Upanishads, for instance, or even myths from around the world, it’s apparent that people used to encounter deities regularly. Even today, in our rushed materialist world, there are a surprising number of encounters with other-worldly beings: angels, devas, faeries, whatever you want call them. While the communications from these beings is often through synchronicity – odd coincidences that are strangely meaningful to the recipient – it may be much more like a ‘sudden, intuitive perception or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something’.

We usually associate this sort of sudden revelation with The Tower. But if I draw a card, what epiphany does the tarot present me with today?

It’s the Temperance card – reversed.

Temperance is one of my favourite cards: an angelic being pouring liquid from one jug to another. It’s about being able to bring oneself into a deep state of equilibrium; and when it’s reversed it is probably about a lack of balance (yes, I can relate to that!). My book from The Intuitive Tarot suggests ‘Closing down on possibilities; refusal to see opportunities. Fear of being hurt; resisting life. Concentration on one aspect of life to the detriment of another; often an unwillingness to see anything but the outer form of material reality.’ I was going to say that the only thing that doesn’t apply is the very last bit – but then I began to wonder whether perhaps I am missing a trick here (something I asked to be shown this morning!) Epiphany doesn’t have to be something that knocks you off your horse and leaves you blind for three days (referring to Paul’s epiphany on the way to Damascus).
It can be as quiet and unassuming as a blog that asks what your epiphany will be today.

So it’s time to go back to the meaning of Temperance reversed, and look at where I’m closing down on possibilities and resisting life. We all do it, often without realising it. With the outside world so full of stimuli, noise and opportunities, it’s sometimes hard to stay open. And resistance in our everyday lives means we sleep badly, get ill, fight with our family and friends, project everything outwards.

Resist as much I please, though, an epiphany requires me to change. It does not allow me to return to my previous state of somnolence. So the appearance of the deity (through the synchronicities I described earlier, including of course the Temperance card – an angelic being in its own right) invites me gently to wake up, smell the new-baked bread, and revel in being alive. If I still continue to resist, I guess they’ll send the bigger guns in. Watch this space. I’m not planning to travel to Damascus anytime soon, though…

 

The Shadow (part II)

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The problem with talking about the Shadow is that it expresses a very polarized way of thinking – i.e., black or white, male or female, inner/outer, happy/sad. It’s an insidious habit that we take in before we even learn to talk. We’re told ‘be a good girl, eat all your food’, or ‘bad boy, don’t play with that mess!’. Nearly everything we think, everything we say, expresses the same polarized view – it’s always either/or, never both. Indeed, the words ‘paradox’, ‘ambivalence’, which can be seen to deal with the uneasy balance between the polarities, are often applied in a derogatory fashion – we’re ‘sitting on the fence’, ‘indecisive’.

Things are beginning to change, largely driven by new physics which has begun to find that paradox lies at the heart of matter,while at the same time, querying everything we understand about matter. Some talk about quanta (energy), a few are beginning to see everything as consciousness. We have Schrodinger’s strange cat that is dead and alive simultaneously, light that is both wave and particle, and black holes that may be both the destruction and birth-place of matter. (Having said that, mystics have been saying something very similar for aeons.)

Of course, the great thing about the tarot is that the journey represented by the Major Arcana is not about bad or good, light or dark: it’s about wholeness. It’s a journey that moves through the archetypes of humanity, growing in understanding as the Seeker goes through life, and the World card, the culmination of the journey, represents the integrated human, the one who has resolved all opposites in an alchemical transmutation, and now dances in the centre of the spiral.

The figure is  androgenous, both male and female, the differences between the sexes transformed from either-or into pure humanity.

So The Shadow, as represented in the Tarot by No. XV, The Devil, is a major stepping-stone on our journey through to wholeness. The different levels of shadow I referred to in the previous post are merely to map out what we project onto the outside world. There is nothing wrong with shadow and darkness, depth and the unconscious – it’s merely that they scare us, as they threaten our need to feel in control. However, that idea that we can see all and therefore be completely in control of our lives is a fallacy. We can never see everything, nor do we really control anything much – not even our own behaviour.

At the entrance to Delphi, a sign over the doorway read ‘Know Thyself’. Much of what we do and think is hidden from us, so this exhortation is somewhat optimistic. Even if we engage with our dreams, analyze them and discover what our unconscious self is communicating, it is a major challenge to resolve the apparent contradictions, heal the dichotomies. No wonder The Devil has flies buzzing around his head (Lord of the Flies), and is testing the limits of his mental cage. At the same time, two small humans are imprisoned by his feet, though they are not in chains. Their fetters are their minds.

If we really take on board what the Devil tells us, when we look honestly at ourselves (at both our conscious and unconscious minds) we can begin to see our own Shadow, lurking behind us. When that happens, when in all humility we take off the masks, acknowledge our failures and difficulties, and have an honest look at our pain, anger, and fears, the Devil becomes our Ally, as we understand how profound its lessons are. It’s often said that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. This is why – we take a break from our investment in The Successful, Correct Person, and realise that we’re fallible. Sometimes we are lucky enough to be challenged, which enables us to view ourselves from outside. If, however, we continue to hold onto the idea of The Rightness of Ourselves, refusing to take responsibility, we will continue to project all our Shadow onto the people around us. Thus we fail the lesson and progress no further. (Think of the Nazis, and their victims – reflections of their Shadow. Instead of processing that knowledge, they acted out it out, and ultimately they failed, both personally and culturally.)

However, if we successfully work through and integrate the Devil, we can continue on through the Tarot Journey. The challenges to the individual do not die away, though. Following on from The Devil, The Tower depicts a lightning strike of pure enlightenment – the paradox being that we have to survive its destructive force as well as its cleansing power.

The Star shows the breakthrough from the darkness of ignorance into the light of The Star, and the self-knowledge that connects us at last to the soul. Immediately following that, though, we encounter the ambivalence of The Moon, where (just as we think we’re getting to the end of the journey) our small human reason encounters the full siren-call of the collective unconscious. Some of us get lost in that realm, and never make our way back.


Even when we reach the understanding and ‘enlightened’ level of The Sun, the Tarot points out its destructive power. Step outside the magic circle, and you’re toast. Remember, always, it seems to be saying, when you encounter these archetypal powers you must do it with humility and as little ego as possible.

The Judgment card calls us home, challenging us to emerge from the grave of the old life, into the energy of Spirit. This level is truly a wondrous wake-up call – the way we see everything becomes more about energy and translucence, and we realise we can finally leave the ghosts of our past, our old ways of being, behind. This is not just a profound change of mind, it affects all levels: physical, mental, and spiritual. We have integrated all aspects of ourselves, and are drawn up into … something truly ineffable.

 

And finally, in The World, with our old concerns, ways, patterns, and behaviours left far behind, we find ourselves part of the cosmic dance – as Eliot has it, ‘At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is’. (from Burnt Norton)

The Shadow

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I have been mulling over what the Devil signifies in the tarot and in the external world. To me, this is the Shadow, both the personal and the collective. (If you’ve not encountered this concept before, it originated with C.G. Jung, who saw the Shadow as the unacknowledged aspects of humanity. On a personal level these aspects would be socially unacceptable traits – anger, fear, hatred, jealousy, envy, greed, lying, arrogance, laziness, vengefulness – and so on. The most important of these, as I see it, are fear, anger, and envy.)

The concept of The Devil was gradually formalized through Christian dogma. St Augustine and other early Christians talked of demons disturbing their peace – particularly sexually – and most of us can relate to those inner demons. As time went on, though, the old pagan gods were demonized and coalesced into one uber-demon, so in the tarot Devil we often see the cloven hooves of Pan (and often his shaggy pelt), symbolizing an untamed sexuality and materiality. Women also became demonized, a fact we haven’t actually managed to get over yet.

If you need more contemporary examples of the collective shadow, think of Hitler and his Third Reich; Pol Pot; the Rwandan genocide; Serbia, Kosovo, Saddam Hussein, and now Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. But the concept of evil and the Shadow is far more complex than this: I see the Shadow being multi-layered. We could draw a parallel between Jung’s dream of the unconscious as a multi-storied building, with increasingly deep basement levels depicting the levels of the unconscious. The deeper he went, the further back in humanity’s history, so the deepest levels were set in a cave with skulls and broken pottery – that is, dealing with the earliest collective memories of humanity (see his autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections). The Shadow could be conceived in a similar way:  the first basement level might be the archetypes we recognize from the tarot: those energies that empower, frighten, and inspire us – The Magician, the Emperor, Death, the Tower. Below that level would be the slightly darker energies – anger, fear, envy as stated above. Below that, in the depths, the twisted, applied forms of those dark energies at their most perverted and destructive.

Some consider such malign energies to be external entities, i.e. a separate force of evil, the polarity to the force of good. I am not sure about this. For a start I dislike this polarised way of thinking which tends to be very damaging, enabling us to project what we don’t like in ourselves onto others. This seems to be a basic human tendency, and if we are self-aware we can see it at work every day. If we consider someone else to be intolerant and impatient, it is a reflection of those characteristics in ourselves. The people around us can see those ‘hidden’ qualities quite clearly, but miss their own. So all of us are a mixture – light and dark, inner and outer, male and female, but most of us are oblivious of the interplay, and try to resist or suppress the things we don’t like. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. The only way that works is to integrate the different aspects so that the Demon becomes the Ally.

The Shadow – the things we don’t like in ourselves – is natural and essential. It just makes us human. However, the deepest levels of the Shadow are a different issue altogether. Our amazing minds make us vulnerable to fear, greed, and envy, and out of that can emerge the darkest of all energies. For me, what makes evil is a human capability – the ease with which we hook into the Shadow to harm, to pervert, to exploit. We seem to have a tendency (based on greed or fear or both) to slide into the Shadow route very easily, rather than to stay fearless, honest, and unperverted. And unscrupulous leaders know this and use the tools of fear, anger, and projection to manipulate us.

So where does that leave us? Are we honest, and courageous, enough to look within? Can we remember our dreams and see the messages there (our dreams usually compensate for our ego-filled waking hours where we try to tell ourselves we’re in the right)? If we find ourselves justifying some action, beware: there’s shadow stuff around.

Then we can begin to integrate the unconscious, Shadow aspects of ourselves. (See the next blog post on how to do this.) This is not a path for the faint-hearted, but it is the only way for those who want to become whole – which is, surely, the underlying purpose of the tarot, and the Devil…

 

TAROT SCAM

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Please be aware of a rather nasty scam in London involving people who call themselves tarot readers. They will offer a very cheap reading (around £10), probably giving some accurate information, but then will say you’ve been cursed by someone. They’ll offer to lift the curse and say prayers for your wellbeing – if you pay for it. The price I was told about for this ‘service’ was £350!!

As a professional tarot reader, I wouldn’t usually deal with curse-lifting, though I would certainly be able to see from the cards whether there actually was some dark energy around. Lifting a (real) curse would be carried out by a reputable ritual magician, and would never cost that much – at most it would be around £50-£75 for a session.

The person I heard this from was sure it was a scam, but was naturally still a little concerned, so she came along for a reading to double-check. She was a lovely, outgoing woman who looked like she would have a very successful, creative life. She took a Deva card to see what the higher levels around her were, and was very happy when she got the Archangel Michael: the warrior angel, he would be all the protection she needed!

Tarot Conference

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The Tarot Association of the British Isles is having their 10th Anniversary Conference in Birmingham, England, on the 23rd and 24th July. Cilla Conway will be doing the opening talk on how to read with tarot and oracle decks simultaneously, Emma Sunerton Burl will provide a workshop called ‘Intuition with the Thoth’, which will be a workshop exploring a meditation technique to access the information contained within a Thoth card. John Matthews will talk about the Wildwood Tarot, Mary Collins draws both strands of her highly successful career together to demonstrate how to make your Tarot business as successful as possible, and finally Emma Sunerton-Burl provides a second workshop to explore key counselling skills that will lift your Tarot skills to new levels. Places are still available, if you’d like to attend. Check out the Conference link...

Predictions…

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Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the news recently with interest. At the moment attention is split primarily between Japan and Libya, so I decided to draw some cards about the situation.

First, Libya: Asking about the outcome for the Libyans – Eight of Discs.

That looks fairly good to me – the card of the apprentice, of carrying out the work you love. So here we have the Libyan people realising what their role is to be – maybe in the outside world. They’ll have to learn how to function in such a new set-up, so I wonder if this is militarily or diplomatically – but the card itself looks positive. I have to say at the moment only the NATO intervention is keeping them afloat.

Outcome for Colonel Gadaffi – the Knight of Cups reversed.

A surprising card, but one that makes a good deal of sense. Up to now Gadaffi seems to be doing relatively well in the different battles raging up and down the coast, and has been reported as blustery, self-justified, and full of denial. The reversed Knight of Cups is self-indulgent to a fault, looks for support and whines when he doesn’t get his own way. He may look impressive and strong when you first meet him but he’s really a broken reed. Today’s news (10th April) reveals him sending a letter to Hilary Clinton calling the President ‘our son’, and ‘his excellency’, and asking what Obama would do if he found Al Qaida controlling American cities – ‘tell me, so I can follow your example’. Whatever else, he should know that sarcasm is the lowest form of diplomacy.

 

Japan:

The outcome here is a bit problematic. This is the card of creativity, with someone looking at this wonderful object they’ve made. Out of this beautiful object comes the double-helix of life. But this reversal blocks the energy. Japan itself must be the beautiful creative object, but its energy is being blocked at the moment through fear or concern. Some of the stories coming out of Japan over the last few weeks – of how people have helped each other, and the heroes fighting to keep the nuclear reactors from melt-down – show that humanity is at its best when faced with survival issues. On the surface I wouldn’t have called it a particularly creative situation, but in the longer-term maybe it will change things for Japan which has been in a fairly confused state for a while, both politically and economically.

The Two of Discs reversed – some choices to be made that presumably aren’t being made because of unspecified difficulties. (Again, a slightly surprising card. With the scale of the tragedy I’d have thought some Major Arcana cards would have been more appropriate.) Still, the tarot seems to be concerned with practical stuff here so maybe this is more about the relief effort, clearing up, still looking for the living and the dead, attempting to get food and water in. The situation with the reactors and leaking radioactivity has stabilised – even with the latest earthquake danger, but there is still a real need for practical help, and apparently the rest of the world has been less forthcoming with assistance than with previous disasters.

 

The Ring of Fire:

Here’s where we get the big guns coming in.

A month or so ago a Youtube clip showed a scientist predicting another quake, this time on the west coast of California. (Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQXDt4VdS0E) The point was that earthquakes often seem to be galvanised by the moon, and given the ‘Supermoon’ and our satellite’s proximity to Earth, the Ring of Fire could well be gearing itself up for some more action. With a sequence of New Zealand and Japan the scientist saw the instability moving around clockwise, and of course that’s the San Andreas Fault. So far, that prediction has been incorrect; there was a small earthquake near Thailand and we’ve had another tremor near Japan, so I’m not sure about the accuracy of these two cards…

The Tower is the lightning strike of God, destroying outworn forms – the towers falling, and the interpretation is a traumatic event that seems to offer no resolution or light – and failure of vision that leads to undoing. I can’t help feeling our present lack of vision and over-concern with the material are leading to disaster. There’s not much we can do to prevent earthquakes and tsunami, but our blindness and greed don’t help. The Nine of Swords shows depression, the mind overset with problems, loss and despair.

In both cases, though, I would tend to read the reversals as lightening the darkness. Sometimes The Tower reversed is about dismantling a situation rather than having it destroyed. Perhaps forewarned is forearmed: buildings in San Francisco, for instance, are built to withstand earthquakes, and the effect on Tokyo was also quite limited. What else can be done? With the Nine of Swords, the reversal is about acceptance in the face of pain, a gradual return to the world. If these disasters cause us to revise – revision – our priorities, and force us to realise that we are custodians of our beautiful planet rather than exploiters, that will be a major turning point.

Tarot Meanings and the End of Times

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At a tarot cafe recently we were discussing the end of times (as one does – nothing like a tarot cafe to get some good discussions going). I decided to ask the tarot about this – is it going to be in 2012, as the end of the Mayan calendar seems to have indicate, or what is coming?

I drew one card, and three more fell out, so I read them all.

The Hermit. It doesn’t look like this is Armageddon. It does, however, look like we’re all going to have to do some soul-searching. This is about a withdrawal – from the rat race, from the status quo, and from the familiar. We follow our sole/soul light from the lantern, and go down into the dark, surrounded by fears of the unknown.

Most people will avoid this journey into themselves. We fill our lives with noise, with material things, houses and mortgages and cars, in order to avoid that dark place within. But – as we see from current society – the lack of substance that results is a soul-sickness which ultimately ends in some sort of a crash, a war or a plague, an enforced re-evaluation. You’d have thought that the recession, and all the other ills we’ve created, would have made us think, but no – still we carry on regardless.

The Wheel. There is a big shift coming though. We have reached the end of one cycle, and it’s time to move on to the next. Again, this is not Armageddon, it’s relatively gentle (far gentler than we deserve, I think). It is an opportunity to change our perceptions and thus improve our lives. We can rewrite the future if we change the way we see things – indeed, we must rewrite the future. We cannot go on the way we are.

What’s good (and a little surprising) about this is its apparent gentleness. This is not the Tower or Judgment. The Wheel is the cosmic cycle, the natural flow of things. Nevertheless, it is the end of an era and change will come – is coming, and our only choice is to move with it or fight it. Either way, the world will change.

Five of Cups. This is the card of grief, loss and sorrow. It’s not terminal – we will recover – but at the moment we need to stay with that grief.

Grief is not something we enjoy. Clients are often scared that you’ll tell them there are difficulties ahead. Actually, though, trying to avoid difficulties is worse than experiencing them. To live – to be alive – often means we have to feel. Again, as stated with the Hermit, most of the stuff we surround ourselves with is a means to avoid facing difficult emotions. Perhaps this is why we refuse to acknowledge the parlous state of the world.Here, though, it isn’t enough to acknowledge it – we’ve plenty of doom and gloom merchants rubbing our noses in it. But none of them actually express the pain and sadness we must all feel, at some level, about what we’ve done – and are still doing – to the earth and our fellow humans. If we can feel that – truly grieve for what we’ve accomplished – then we have a chance to move on into the future without destroying ourselves.

The Four of Cups. Is this looking further into the future, or is it again about the grief we need to feel right now about what we’ve done? The four is about satiety, passivity, draining energy (as a description of our current state of lassitude and apathy, this could not be bettered). It also points out that, although we have lost something precious (the overturned cup), we still have huge gifts being offered to us which we are ignoring. The world is still beautiful, still there, still our birthright. It’s up to us now. There are huge numbers of us who know things can’t go on, and if we banded together instead of feeling it is all too big and too awful, we could change the world.

The Four also indicates that there’s a need to clarify goals and identify what’s important to us, instead of bewailing what’s gone.

Gaia. To get a feel for the energy around us, and the protection and challenge for us now (with reference to the ‘End of Times’), I drew one of my Deva cards (http://www.devasofcreation.com). The Devas often cut to the heart of a question, and this was one of those times, as Gaia appeared (you have to look quite closely at this card to see Gaia herself – she’s in the centre at the top, her arms enfolding the world).

This is the crux of the question. At the time I read it as Gaia herself taking a hand in the story – she can choose at any time to shrug and say enough. In the last few days she’s coughed – or perhaps it was just a little burp (the volcano in Iceland) – and thousands of people are stranded away from home because the planes are grounded. She isn’t well, let’s face it – pollution, deforestation, water and oil running out because of our profligacy and greed. What happens when she really gets sick?

It’s time for us to wake up.