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Interview with Shaheen Miro & Review of his Lunar Nomad Oracle Deck

June 1st, 2018

The Lunar Nomad Oracle: 43 Cards to Unlock Your Creativity and Awaken Your Intuition”

 


by Shaheen Miro

Published by Weiser Books

Published: 2018

Pages: 146-page Guidebook + Deck of 43 Cards

 

In his first deck, Shaheen Miro presents a set of 43 keys that tap into your lunar self and unlock the unfolding mysteries of life. Based on the symbols in the Lenormand deck, he has added more cards as well as more layers of meaning to all the cards. While still serving to understand the mundane circumstances of our daily lives, these cards delve deeper into the creative and intuitive self – the lunar self.

The solar self is logical, analytical, realistic and reasonable. Adult. Safe. It often overpowers the fluid, mystical, passionate, wondrous lunar self that longs to fall in love with the world. This deck got me in touch with, as Miro prefers, “the path of the self-expressive, soul-seeker, the mystical traveler who treats the world like a great canvas of adventure, expressing and exploring. Cultivating vibrance and buoyancy.” The liberation he speaks of comes from bringing the lunar self forward and letting it speak.

And speak it does.

I had never used a Lenormand deck before, so this set of symbols was new to me. I found them powerful. From the first time I used them, they drew information out of me I didn’t know was there. If these cards are meant for you, I trust they will awaken your intuition and tap into your inner wisdom, freeing you to become a nomad on a lunar path. Approaching them with a sense of wonder, the symbols trigger universal, general and personal interpretation, allowing you to tell a story.

My journey with the Lunar Nomad Oracle began when I was gifted a deck of “gypsy” fortune telling cards,” said Miro, an intuitive reader, energy worker and artist. “It was an old deck of 36 cards, each with its own symbol and illustration. There was no name or association to Lenormand on the deck, just these simple cards with a profound and uncanny wisdom about them. They reminded me of old dream symbols or tea leaf reading emblems; tea leaf reading is one of my favorite forms of divination.”

It was the perfect framework upon which intuition could unfold.

Something in me felt prompted to explore these symbols through my own psychic lens. I wanted to see how the energy of the symbols moved me to create. I felt like I channeled the deck into creation. I would allow the energy of a symbol to enter my awareness,” he said.

I would contemplate a symbol, letting it fully wash over and saturate my awareness. Then the energy of that symbol would begin moving me, almost like I was translating the energetic signature into something visual. I am a mixed-media artist, so I work in layers, combing illustrations, textures, colors and washes together. With the Lunar Nomad Oracle these resulted in these fascinating illustrations… each one seems like a little dream being cracked open and spilled out for us to wander through.”

The cards are rich with imagery and symbols that provide clues and prompts to the intuitive self. There are no suits and no linear structure, leaving the reader great freedom to add personal interpretations and insights. Each card is a word that, together with other words, forms a sentence. The more cards and the deeper you go, the more sentences become paragraphs that become stories.

It was affirming to find the way I have come to read cards is how he explains it to his readers – that it’s not about memorizing meanings, it’s about looking at the cards and making up a story. There is no right or wrong interpretation. Next, you’d review the keywords for each card, adding to the story those that resonate, thus allowing you add more to your story.

Although Miro offers a simple three-card layout of obstacle/focus/outcome, he also states these oracle cards do not need a spread with assigned meanings. Nine cards (typically three rows of three) make for a detailed story.

The oracle can be used to diagnose a situation, to look into the unknown; to explain or deconstruct an experience or memory; or to help create something. Cards are drawn differently depending on the intention.

Of all my decks, about 75% are tarot and 25% oracle. I find myself using tarot cards 95% of the time, and the ones I turn to most have a strong feminine energy (two are round, one is dreamy). This is the first oracle deck I have used day after day for most of the month rather than just pulling one out for a reading here and there. Working with three a day, the more familiar I became with the cards, the more I was hooked.

The artwork has somewhat of a Victorian, steampunk look to it. Some of the cards look dark – not in a sinister way, but more like how things look after the sun has set and the colors are swallowed by the night. The cards also have multiple layers. Mountain (pictured above), for instance, is more than a high green hill that presents an obstacle as well as a peak presenting another perspective. Lunar Nomad’s mountain card has geometric drawings superimposed on it, assuring me there are solutions to the seemingly insurmountable situation. For the key card (pictured above), an open hand holds a translucent key. Other than being offered the key to open all doors, the fact it does not appear as a three-dimensional solid key reminds me that my mind forms my reality. For you it might have a different message.

No matter what you see in the cards, or what story you weave, as Miro states, “Remember, the magic is in you, not the cards; they are only keys to unlocking your inner wisdom and magic.”

The Lunar Nomad Oracle is all my own,” Miro said. I created the card artwork and wrote the guidebook. This is my invitation for people to open the door to a new life where magic is real. The guidebook is my personal take on what the images convey to me, and how the process unfolded in my life. But there is nothing set in stone; I encourage people to use this oracle and the information in the guidebook as a platform to discover their own inner wisdom it’s right there under the surface just waiting to be found.

Working with oracles, and the Lunar Nomad Oracle specifically, has become a way of life for me. I do not see divination as predicting the future, to me it is a deep and sacred communion with our own inner magic and the limitless possibilities in the Universe. Everything is made of energy, we all tell an energetic story that is generated from our thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs and that energetic story becomes the narrative of our lives. If you make conscious your personal energetic story you have access to all the possibilities around you. You can shift the energy, change the narrative and create a whole new future. That’s the magic I share with my clients, and anyone who joins me on the Lunar side.”

He has a new book coming out next year.

For information and articles on magical living, intuition and self-empowerment, visit Shaheen Miro’s website and his Instagram where he encourages people to join him to learn about the oracle and other mystical work as well as to share your own readings with the cards by tagging him.

The Lunar Nomad Oracle: 43 Cards to Unlock Your Creativity and Awaken Your Intuition

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About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Book Review – QUEEN UP! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down: Unleash the Power of Your Inner Tarot Queen by Angela Kaufman

In our current atmosphere of #Time’sUp and #MeToo, this is the perfect book to come along. The Queens that are spoken of in this book are the Queens of the Tarot, but it also fits in with so many, adding the term “Queen” to the three-fold aspect of the Goddess.

The author uses the archetypal energies of the four Queens in the Tarot, each representing a different element, to help us to meet, and work with, our Inner Queen(s), using a tarot deck and our intuition.

Ms. Kaufman tells the “Legend of the 4 Queens”, leaving us with four divine decrees, being: “all things are energy”, “energy is changeable” energy contains elements of its opposite”, and “energy can be accessed at will through the power of intention, thus anything required to succeed can be found within”.

Each Queen has her own section with self-reflective questions, exercises, meditations, and ritual, complete with her own correspondences.

Ms. Kaufman describes how each of us can call on our own Queen(s), with a detailed ritual on how to “Queen Up!”, with tips on how to bring these energies into our daily lives.

The book concludes with a 52-week guide to Queening Up, which also comes with an Inner Queen Intuitive Log.

While the techniques mentioned may sound familiar to those who have done Goddess-oriented inner work, or intentional spellwork, they are presented here in a manner befitting a Queen.

This book is very encouraging and supportive to any woman who would follow it as an uplifting guide on their path to empowerment. I would definitely recommend this book, and I plan on returning to it as part of my own inner work!

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About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

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Five of Cups

(The Five of Cups card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

Last month we talked about the Two of Cups. This month we will talk about another Cups card, the Five of Cups. This one, like the other Five cards, appears sad on the surface but we will look for the silver lining.

The Five of Cups is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. Remember, while on the surface a Minor Arcana card can appear insignificant or mundane, it can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue. Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

We already know that the easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 5, and the suit of Cups, and just examining these two ingredients could actually give you enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation to a seeker. But we have even more to consider, so let’s get started.

We talked about the suit of Cups in detail last month, but let’s go over it all again. Many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. The traditional image on the Five of Cups shows a person facing away from the observer dressed in a long, flowing dark blue robe, head bowed downward and seeming to emanate grief. The person is looking at three toppled Cups lying on the ground before him, their contents spilled out, and sometimes the Cups are broken. Often there is a river flowing nearby and in the distance beyond the river are rocky hills. Behind the robed figure and out of his view are two other Cups also on the ground, but these two are upright and undamaged.

The suit of Cups corresponds with the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, the playing cards of Hearts, and the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. Water has weight; picking up a gallon of water proves that. Water tends to gather into or flow to the lowest place; it will use already-in-place channels to get there if it can, but will create its own roadways or channels if necessary. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

The element of Water corresponds to our feelings and emotions. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, and a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing. Emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice. Our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly, as physical manifestations of those emotions.

Water also represents the Inner Voice and the mysteries of the subconscious. That calm body of water can reflect the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky around it, on its still surface and hide from our view the dark and cold depths inhabited by mysterious creatures. In order to explore those silent depths and discover the mysteries there, we must break the surface and enter this quiet and hidden realm.

Astrology is a tool that can offer subtle effects for us to consider as we analyze this card. The Five of Pentacles corresponds to the planet Mars (action, aggression, drive) when it is in the sign of Scorpio (“I desire,” intense, controlling, mysterious, obsessive).

Mars is known as the “Red Planet,” and this makes sense because Mars is about energy, passion, drive and determination, all fiery personality traits. Mars is commanding, confident, and powerful, asking us to stand up and be noticed without fear. Ambition and competition are also associated with this planet; Mars encourages us to face challenges and to be our best with honor. Mars rules our sexuality and sexual energy, and governs weapons, accidents and surgery. It’s important to remember that Mars’s energy can be either constructive or destructive. In the end, however, the energy of Mars can be quite useful if used properly.

Scorpio is a fixed Water sign. In Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. For Scorpios, these traits are found through achievement, and through going deep into the timeless mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are powerful and willful in all they do; they stick with a task to the end, often achieving much more than Cardinal and Mutable Signs. On the other hand, they are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios are extremely loyal and will always remember a kind gesture. They love to learn about others; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable.

Mars and Scorpio have a connection (Mars is said to rule Scorpio), and thus they support each other. Together they create a greater ability to work through difficult times. These energies are not about compromise but rather about finding a way to get the job done. These signs are not afraid of looking under the surface or exploring the dark corners, and together they have the endurance to bring about a major transformation. The down side of this combination is the potential for passion to slide into obsession.

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, perhaps the most important ingredient besides the suit of the card is the number of the card. In the Tarot, the number 5 is seen as adding motion to the depth and stability of the energy of the number 4 card, often toppling or destroying that depth and stability in order to prevent stagnation. If we look at the card right before the Five of Cups and follow it through to our card, we can gain some insight into the effects of the number 5.

The Four of Cups is about visualizing goals and dreaming of the future, however it also warns us that too much dreaming of the future can cause us to miss opportunities that present themselves in the present. The number 5 adds Motion to the potential for distraction from reality that is the Four of Cups, kind of like a tap on the shoulder to wake us up. All of the Tarot Fives are uncomfortable mainly because of this added Motion. In the other Minor Fives we have the need to control others (Swords), the lack of possessions and support (Pentacles), and ideas moving in random and unorganized directions (Wands). If we dream of pleasures and become addicted to those dreams, we will end up soft and weak with deadened senses, but if we find a way to counteract our tendency to indulge ourselves, we can be awakened to the possibilities in the outer world and the present moment. This awakening is the job of the Five of Pentacles.

The Tree of Life offers us further insight into this uncomfortable Motion that is causing our troubles. All of the Fives of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the Sephira of Geburah (which means “Might”), the fifth Sephira on the Tree, the second on the Pillar of Form/Restriction. Geburah is also known as Judgment, and Fear, and its effects and manifestations can indeed be difficult. To some, an easy life is an ideal situation, but in the end the easy life offered through never experiencing any true tests lacks the opportunity for growth and evolution, and growth and evolution are the purposes of living.

Geburah is about courage and power and invincibility, and these things can bring us true fulfillment, or they can help to release our cruel side. But unless we are exposed to these temptations, we will never know if we have the will to set them aside when they become unbalanced. Believing that we have the power and authority to make decisions for others is often a recipe for disaster.

That is a lot of information to consider!! We are dealing with a Five card, so we know that it will present some discomfort. This is a Cups card, so we know the discomfort will be connected to our dreams, visions, feelings, emotions, and the actions and effects of the subconscious and the Inner Voice.

The Hermetic Tarot Five of Cups shows plant growth, yet no flowers. The five Cups in this image are empty, and the plant stems look a bit leggy to me, as if they had water but no sunlight. In the Hermetic Tarot, the Five of Cups represents partial loss, and the death of pleasure (indeed the card is named “Lord of Loss of Pleasure”). The key here is that while we are losing something, we can go on and perhaps have a happy ending. The reversed pentagram in the middle of this image hints at what needs to be corrected: we are focusing too much on strong feelings and physical pleasures, without allowing the mind and the feelings and the Higher Self to have a voice.

The Thoth Tarot Five of Cups, named “Disappointment,” also has flowers in its image, two lotus blossoms that appear to be drooping and losing their petals. The five Cups are in the shape of an inverted pentagram, similar to the Hermetic Tarot, symbolizing the triumph of matter over spirit. The beautiful sea of the Four of Cups (named “Luxury”) has turned stagnant. Here we can see a clear progression from Love (the Two of Cups) to Abundance (the Three of Cups), which brings Luxury (the Four of Cups); the next step is boredom, frustration, and decadence, and the Disappointment of the Five of Cups!

The Llewellyn Welsh Five of Cups has a traditional image. It tells of unfulfilled dreams and the difficulty of accepting a loss. Here is the spilled milk that we are not supposed to cry over. This card also tells of being limited by the memory of a past pain, and of being manipulated by emotional strings. “Suffering over one’s suffering” is a great description of this card.

The Gateway to the Divine Tarot Five of Cups shows a woman huddled against a wall, face filled with distress. Before her on the ground are three shattered glass Cups; she holds an unharmed Cup in each hand. She is not looking at those two intact Cups, but instead focuses on what might have been, symbolized by the broken Cups before her, rather than accepting what has happened and moving on with the two remaining Cups. Her loss is probably connected to something that was expected to bring pleasure, such as a loving relationship.

When the Five of Cups shows up in a reading, we are being told that our discomfort and dismay are valid and painful, but they are also a wake-up call telling us all is not lost. Our vision is focused narrowly on the spilled Cups and the loss and disappointment they symbolize, but if we could tear our eyes from the destruction and look around, we will find that all is not lost. There, behind the cloaked figure bowed in grief shown on the Five of Cups, are two intact Cups, filled to the brim. He has only to take his focus away from the lost potential and what could have been, and instead look around him at what he still has now and he will see that happiness is still available to him. This could very well be an opportunity to leave behind what has hurt him and turn to a different and more fulfilling direction.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

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11-29-12 Tarot Box.indd

The Golden Tarot is a recreation of the Visconti-Sforza Deck, one of the oldest complete Tarot decks still being used today.  This version of the Visconti-Sforza Deck presented by Race Point Publishing comes in a lovely display box made of sturdy cardboard, a perfect repository for the deck when not being used.  Inside the box are a purple satin reading cloth to be used as a base for card spreads, a hardcover, beautifully illustrated companion book (much-evolved from the standard paper LWB) written by Mary Packard, and a separate box holding the cards of the Golden Tarot.

 

This is a beautiful deck, and if you like history, tradition, art, and the pageantry of royalty and nobility, the Golden Tarot will be immensely satisfying to you.  The artwork on these cards uses styles and elements of composition from Renaissance era art to create images reminiscent of sumptuous Medieval tapestries or religious icons. The Golden Tarot has the rich look of old parchment, gold leaf, and the vibrant reds and blues that you would expect from a 15th century hand-painted deck, each card a masterpiece.

 

The cards are large, measuring 3 ¼ inches by 6 ½ inches, and thus the images are also large and easy to see, making the Golden Tarot a lovely deck for public readings.  The card stock is medium in thickness, enough to support the large cards without creating difficulties in shuffling or throwing of spreads, although the cards might not hold up well to constant use.  The images are bordered in gold, with an inner blue frame for the Major Arcana and Court Cards, and an inner red frame for the numbered or pip cards.  The image on the back of the cards is an intricate pattern echoing the style and the color palate of the card faces.

 

The original Visconti-Sforza Tarot was missing four cards, The Tower, The Devil, the Three of Swords, and the Knight of Coins.  In order for a modern version of this deck to be effective, replacement cards must be created.  The Golden Tarot replacement cards are well done, seeming to fit perfectly with the style and composition of Renaissance art as they offer effective symbolism of the individual cards themselves.

 

The companion book offers a story of the Tarot stretching from the original hand-painted one of a kind decks commissioned by upper class families, through the transformation of the purpose of the cards from games such as tarocchi and trionfi into tools of discovery used in alchemy, divination, counseling and enlightenment.  The book also offers an interesting biography of both the Visconti and Sforza families, and offers connections between specific family members and specific cards in the deck.  After the section on individual card descriptions, spread suggestions and sample readings are offered.

 

The individual card descriptions of the Major Arcana contain the traditional name of the card, a historic name of the card, the story and symbolism behind the image and the identity of the person in the image, along with upright and reversed meanings and a picture of the card being described.  The Minor Arcana cards use the suits of Cups, Swords, Coins and Batons, corresponding not only to the traditional elements of Water, Air, Earth and Fire, but also to the four classes of Medieval society: clergy, nobility, merchants and peasants.  The descriptions consist of upright and reversed meanings along with a picture of the card.  The descriptions for the Court Cards (Knave, Knight, Queen and King) include the story and symbolism behind the image, upright and reversed meanings, and a picture of the card.

The Golden Tarot might not work well for a beginner.  The cards do not have captions, numbers or identifying titles of any kind, and the pip cards show multiple images of the suit symbol, rather than scenes or illustrations that help with interpretation.  Without previous knowledge of the structure and symbolism of the Tarot, the novice would need to rely heavily on the companion book to identify the individual cards.  However, even a beginner would learn from this deck, as the cards are an accurate representation of early Tarot decks, and the companion book is filled with valuable information and lush, captivating images.

Death

(The Death Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

This month, since we are heading toward Samhain and Halloween, we will return to the Major Arcana, and talk about Death. The Tarot Major Arcana card Death, that is. Once we take a closer look at this card, you will come to understand that the Death card rarely foretells death of the physical body, and it really is something to be celebrated, not feared. Before we begin, let’s remind ourselves of some terms. If you know them, go ahead and skip down to where we talk about the traditional image of the card.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior. In the analysis of personality, the term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype” (a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; for instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype), or an “epitome” (the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; for example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty). Archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has personally experienced (or will experience) these archetypes.

Besides the symbolism in its traditional image, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.

The traditional image on Death is of a skeleton in black knight’s armor, sometimes also wearing a black robe, riding a white horse whose bridle is decorated with skulls and crossbones, and carrying within his bony hand a flag or banner featuring a white rose. Standing before the horse is a priest, his hands together in prayer. At the feet of the horse are people who are dead or in the process of dying, one of which is often a child. Also at the feet of the horse is a discarded crown. Where the horse walks, the ground is brown, yet in the background are green trees, mountains, and a river on which a boat moves, its white sail filled with air. On the horizon are two white castles, and what could be either the rising or setting sun. In some decks, the horse being ridden by Death is also a skeleton. Other Death cards show the traditional version of Death himself, a Grim Reaper skeleton in a black or a blood-red robe, carrying a scythe, with skulls and bones and body parts littering the ground around him; often he is standing beside a stream or body of water, and sometimes the sky is filled with dark clouds.

Most of the symbolism within the traditional images of the Death card tells of endings and beginnings, transitions of some kind, and often, a return to balance. Death is a frightening figure, and yet his banner is emblazoned with a rose, the symbol of promise, hope, love, and new beginnings. The rose is also often found on The Magician, Strength, and The Fool, all three of which could offer us advice for dealing with the Death card. The sun on the horizon could represent the ending of a day or the beginning of a day. Water tells of emotions, visions, and dreams, all ways to communicate across the Veil between those who are alive and those who have passed. Water also tells of birth and death. The scythe represents the harvest, which happens at the end of the growth season when the harvest is leveled, and the discarded crown tells us that no one, even a king, is immune to death.

The Death card is numbered XIII. The number 13 has a lot of baggage attached to it, not all pleasant. We can break this number down several ways. We can add the digits, 1 + 3, and get the number 4. The number 4 is about balance, stability and depth, not concepts we would connect to Death. However, cycles of being born, living, and then dying and resting only to be born again are a part of our natural world, and death is a key part of the renewal that comes with birth, a part of the balancing of those cycles. We can break the number down as a combination of the numbers 10 and 3. The number 10 tells of the completion of a cycle or effect, and the number 3 tells of broadening our ability to perceive, or the physical manifestation of an idea, or a new creation out of the union of opposites. Or, we can take the number on its own. 13 is seen by many as representing bad luck, rooted from that Friday the 13th in 1307 when the Knights Templar were mostly assassinated. However, the number 13 can represent the “enlightened guest”; Christ had 12 disciples, which means there were 13 people at the Last Supper: 12 disciples and the “enlightened guest,” thus offering keywords such as ascension and resurrection to the Death card. In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered the 13th god of the pantheon, and the most powerful. This offers keywords such as completion, attainment and realization to our card. The number 13 is also a prime number, which tells of purity and an incorruptible nature.

The Death card represents the archetypes of The Reaper and Rebirth. The Reaper clears the growth from the fields and brings in the last harvest. Again, we are shown the cycle of life, and the importance of endings and completions. Only then, once the harvest is gathered and the fields are cleared and allowed to rest, can Rebirth begin. For even during the darkest winter night when the fields are covered with snow, the seeds of the last harvest begin to germinate. These archetypes tell of letting go of the old to make way of the new, of moving from the known into the unknown (which can be frightening), and that new beginnings will follow a period of grieving for what has gone.

Death corresponds with the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water. Emotions flow and have currents, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious, the dark and unknown depths hidden below the smooth reflective surface.

In astrology, Death corresponds with the astrological sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is a fixed Water sign; in Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. For Scorpios, these traits are found through achievement, and through going deep into the timeless mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are powerful and willful in all they do; they stick with a task to the end, often achieving much more than Cardinal and Mutable Signs. On the other hand, they are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios will ruthlessly fight on behalf of their beliefs, regardless of any contrary evidence, but they are most at home when immersed in a sustained, worthwhile situation. Scorpios love to learn about others; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable. Scorpio is about beginnings and endings, and about understanding the deep, dark secrets of the self. Scorpios stick to the plan (Scorpio is a Fixed Sign, after all); they are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. These creative forces express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. Death of the Major Arcana corresponds with the Hebrew letter Nun, the fourteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet which falls into the level of manifestation, representing the fish. In Aramaic, the fish is a symbol of activity and life. Nun is said to represent both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness. The origin of the pictograph representing the letter Nun is said to be a seed sprouting, representing perpetuation, offspring and the verb “to continue.”

On the Tree of Life, Death represents Path 24, running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Netzach (the stimulating factors of emotion and inspiration). The 24th Path explores the differences between materialism and spirituality; it connects Netzach, the bottom of the Pillar of Force, with Tiphareth, the center of the Tree. The 24th Path helps us to face our fear of change; it shows us that death is a natural part of the evolutionary process, and of living. Through working with this Path, and with the Death card, we learn that death is actually a beginning, and we learn that change and transition are healthy.

The alchemic process of Putrefaction can be seen as a form of death. In biological death, putrefaction is one of the stages of decomposition in which the cohesion between tissues is broken down and the organs are liquefied. Within the alchemic Great Work, Putrefaction destroys the old nature and form. “Everything that has lived, dies; everything that is dead putrefies and finds a new life.” Dom Pernety.

In the Tarot of the Magicians, Oswald Wirth shows us a skeleton with a scythe, surrounded by body parts and the head of a woman with long hair and a man wearing a crown. In this deck, many of the cards are named: the Magician, the Priestess, the Empress; however Death is not named, only numbered. Wirth tells us that death is not to be feared for it is liberation, rather, Death “extinguishes nothing, but sets free the energies overwhelmed by the weight of Matter’s increasing inertia.”

The Dreams of Gaia Major Arcana Death/Rebirth card is **the** change card of this beautiful deck; the keywords for this card are endings, beginnings, cycles, transformation, transmutation, change and growth. Death/Rebirth tells of the death of the things that no longer serve and the birth of the new and exciting things that will replace the things that died. The process is not reversible (which is one reason we fear death); once we pass through Death and into Rebirth, there is no re-do. The LWB offers pointed advice: “. . . it is time to take a long, hard look at your life, and understand that it is time to let go.”

The image of the Death card in Thoth deck is what attracted me to this deck initially. The Death card shows death as a dancing skeleton bearing a scythe. He wears the Crown of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead and is shown in the waters of Amenti, an Egyptian after-death state. The sweep of his scythe creates bubbles which contain the seeds of new life. This version of Death does not show the usual version of the Grim Reaper; instead this being dances!

I adore the image on the Wild Unknown Death card; it absolutely captures the idea of transformation without bringing in the fear. Here is the duckling of The Fool and the swan of the Cups Court Cards of this deck, or at least what is left of them after their life forces have departed and their bodies have mostly decayed and gone back to where they began so new life can spring from their ingredients. There are still some feathers left, and a beak on the skull, like the fading memories left in our minds of someone who was once alive. Most of what was here once has gone on to another plane of existence, the life force back to the Divine and the body back to the Earth. We don’t know what it is like to die, but there is a rightness to this image that reassures. Life may not be forever, but neither is Death.

The Legacy of the Divine Death card has everything you would expect: a skull, spiders and scorpions, a grim reaper on a rearing steed, wearing armor and carrying a tattered banner, a dead bird and winter-bare branches along with a beautiful, perfect white rose blossom. This card tells us that we have indeed died, maybe not physically but we have been irrevocably transformed. We are not existing in the same form. The keywords are letting go, death, rebirth, regeneration, and metamorphosis, among others.

Endings are as necessary in life as beginnings, and the Death card reminds us that the cycles of life, no matter how pleasant or feared they may be, have a beauty about them. Our life cycles have an elegant simplicity about them. Nothing is wasted, and everything has value. As we move through the changes and transformations of life, we need to remember to not dwell too much on the events of the past, or the possibilities of the future. Instead, we should embrace this moment in time and look for the possibilities hidden within it. Those possibilities have so much to offer, and they are right here, in our hands.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

 

In his latest book, Michael H. Hughes brings together activism and magic as tools for the resistance.

What I’ve discovered doing research for this book is witchcraft, in particular magic, has always been the tool of oppressed people. When you are out of other means of getting something done, you still do what you have to do, and in many cases that involves magic,” he said.

Enslaved Africans used hoodoo and root work. Voodoo was instrumental in the uprising against Haiti’s white class. In medieval Europe, there were poppets and wax figures used against royalty.

The more you dig into the history of magic used as a tool against oppression, the more emerges. There’s even a book that just came out serendipitously for my research, I must say, called ‘Magic as a Political Crime in Medieval and Early Modern England: A History of Sorcery and Treason (International Library of Historical Studies).’ about how magic was used against the ruling class or how the ruling class sometimes used it to persecute people, to accuse them falsely as in the witch persecutions,” Hughes said.

In the introduction to his book that is due coming out September 8, in advance of the midterm elections, he states, “We are living in a time of great turmoil at the edge of history. A time in which liberal, democratic values and ideas that have withstood wars and despots are under attack by rising tides of nationalism and racial supremacy; in which the industrial model of our society is crumbling, and with it the patriarchal, hierarchical structure that has kept it in place. An era in which our very existence as a species is imperiled by a warming planet, overpopulation, and our unquenchable desire for material goods.”

For those who don’t wish to give up and are willing to advocate for change, this book can serve as a toolkit to manifest equality and peace. It contains spells, rituals and historical examples to help readers put their magic to work to make the world a better place.

Magic, Hughes explained, is “innate in us. It wants to express itself.”

What Hughes found when he stripped away erroneous history and dogma were folk traditions and indigenous traditions he considers the roots of magic – the basic techniques that are universal. Those include sympathetic magic and elemental associations. For instance, he noted, traditions all over the world consider fire a creator and a destroyer. Everywhere people work with the four directions. Magic words, chants, song and dance are used in every culture.

I was just working on a chapter on talisman and amulets. I was looking into how they evolved and where they came from. It’s so fascinating to think that Africans from the Congo are brought to this continent and they meet Native Americans who were using medicine pouches that there’s no difference between the Congolese bags that they wore around their necks, even to the same natural items that they would have in their bags,” he said in early March as he was putting in long hours to get the finished manuscript to his publisher.

Ancient Egyptians wrote on papyrus they rolled up and put in a little tube that they wore around their necks. Observant adult Jews put on tefillin, small black leather boxes holding parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. Catholics are given the scapular to wear.

So even if a lot of these don’t come from the same roots, they’re universal. For me, it seems to argue for the fact it works. It’s effective magic. When you carry around items symbolic, important, protective or powerful on your body, then, for whatever reason, as humans we like to do that. So if you don’t believe in magic, then you have to assume it’s somehow part of our psychological makeup or something like that. But if you believe in magic like I do, then the ubiquity of all these kinds of traditions seem to indicate that it probably works; that’s why people do it.”

When people think of magic they think of spells, and when they think of spells, they think of witches. But magic does not belong to one group or one culture. It underlies all spiritual traditions and systems. In it’s most basic sense, Hughes defines magic as the use of directed consciousness to effect change in the world.

What I’m trying to do with this book is be clear this is just magic. It’s not witchcraft, it’s not traditional witchcraft, it’s not Druidry, it’s not indigenous tradition, it’s not chaos magic, it’s not post-modern magic, it’s just magic. And as such, I try to create these rituals so that they can be plug and play, which is what I think the success of the Trump binding spell,” he said.

The Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him led to this book.

Originally I was going to write a book on magic, theoretical and practical magic before this Trump spell took off and had a life of its own and dragged me along with it,” Hughes said.

At the time he crafted the binding spell used for the first time February 24, 2017 , Hughes said, “I really thought, ‘This is just going to be some small thing that I publish [on Medium] and a few people, maybe the pagan community, they’ll argue about it,’ which they did. But wow, it really just blew up beyond anything I could have imagined. The whole thing has been a really surreal experience.”

Within days, it went viral.

A couple of stories that blow my mind,” he said. “One is I was going to do the ritual. I had about 30 or 40 people who were going to gather to do it and the night of it I went to pick up some wine and beer for afterward and I walk into some random liquor store in Baltimore and the woman, probably in her 20s, said, ‘Do you want your receipt?’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah I’m hoping to write this off. I’m cursing Donald Trump tonight.’ And without batting an eye she said, “Oh, do you have the unflattering photo?” I just stared at her. She said, ‘Me and my friends are doing it later tonight.’

I was dumbfounded. I knew it was circulating pretty wildly. The entire week after I published it, I was on the phone all day. People calling, reporters emailing. I did so many interviews it was ridiculous. As the ritual got closer, I realized how big it was getting, I started getting calls from TV reporters [wanting to film the ritual]. I didn’t want reporters, especially at the first time. You never know how they’re going to portray it. I didn’t want it to be really intrusive … but they were so insistent on filming it, I said, ‘Oh, I hear there are going to be people at Trump Tower doing it.’ I just made that up.’”

When the film crews showed up at Trump Tower in New York City, there were 20 witches outside. More were in front of his tower in Chicago.

It happened and I had no idea. I really just pulled that out of thin air thinking, ‘Well, maybe there’ll be some people there doing it’ and sure enough they showed up and did the ritual.”

The witches weren’t the only ones. Thousands upon thousands of occultists and magicians took part. Even Christians and Buddhists – many tweaking it to use their way in their tradition – performed the ritual. Many had never never performed a ritual in their lives. It became the largest and longest continuing magical working in history.

Did it work? Well, Trump’s initial travel ban was rescinded, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was halted, Robert Mueller’s noose has tightened and no wall is being built. However, the tax bill passing, the threat of war and the assault on the environment show there is still much work to be done. Each month, members of the magic resistance continue to perform the ritual. Hughes also offered a daily version as well.

I realized that the fundamental Christians were going to freak out, even Evangelicals, but I was really surprised at some of the vehemence from the pagan community. I guess I should have known better, but I was still a little surprised by the number of witches who said it was awful and I was destroying the reputation of witchcraft. First of all, I’m not a witch. I don’t identify as a witch. But obviously this became witches versus Trump and no matter how many times I … [said] ‘This is magic. I’m a magician, I’m not a witch.’ It just went right over their heads.”

The magic resistance that galvanized around the binding spell is committed to using spells, rituals, prayer, divination and other techniques to resist or impede dangerous or oppressive political movements, politicians, and actions. This, Hughes states in the introduction to his book, includes “authoritarianism, white supremacy, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, environmental destruction, attacks on marginalized populations, as well as other harmful ideologies. It can be viewed as a magical form of self-defense, or defense of others. But it is not just about resistance. This movement also uses magical practices to promote progressive, inclusive, liberating, and empowering political, environmental, economic, and social causes.”

The book gives readers ideas for altars, meditations, community organizing, self care and more. and provides spells for racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, environmentalism, immigration, refugee support and nonviolence.

The magic in this book can be broadly adapted to many traditions, and is meant to serve as a foundation for experimentation and incorporation into other progressive and inclusive causes,” he said.

One of the spells Hughes offers is “Hands Off Laws Off: Hecate Invocation” to protect women’s reproductive rights, women’s health clinics and their staff. Meant to only be done at night, its components include a red candle, bay leaves, myrrh, a representation of the lawmaker or organization, a call to Hecate, and a chant ending with “Hands off/Laws off.”

His “Healing the Earth (Microcosm Ritual)” uses a pot of earth, a green candle, stones or crystals, feathers, an edible herb plant, a small representation of an animal, a prayer, and optional tarot cards of the moon and the sun. It has people caring for a plant as a representation of caring for the entire earth – and the magic can he “hidden in plain sight.”

The “thoughts and prayers” offered by politicians inspired a spell called, “We Shall Form a Circle to Protect Our Children” that uses a white candle and a piece of rose quartz.

These, like the others, are based on standard magical elements, directional attunement, ancestor communications, calls to a spirit, astrological influences. They are not part of any one particular tradition and can be modified to align with anyone’s practice.

I always felt like the world was a magical place,” Hughes said. “My thinking has always been sort of magical, even before I understood the magic in theory, as a kid, I would draw something to manifest it or just little sort of ritualistic things I would do in my life even before I knew that was practical magic. It was actually in my early 20s when I really started immersing myself in reading magic and occultism.”

You don’t have to understand how magic works or even believe in magic for the social justice spells Hughes provides to work, as long as they are done sincerely, with full commitment and energy. After all, people who play lucky lottery numbers, pray for healing, throw a coin into a well or leave flowers at the grave of a loved one are all practicing magic.

As the introduction on the yet-to-be-published book states, “If you’ve ever felt disillusioned or burned out because of the slow progress of social change, this magical work can nurture and support you, sharpening your focus and resolve for a more sustained, long-term activism.”

For more about Michael H. Hughes, his earlier trilogy and his blog, visit his website.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

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