Tarot Thursday Three: March 16, 2017

Another week, another….Friday?  Seems I’m in a pattern to miss #tarotthursdaythree on actual Thursdays…  But that’s ok, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, so this is a holiday edition as well.  Enjoy!

1.  Classic deserted island scenario: You’re stranded for a year on an island, but can bring along one companion.  Who from the court family keeps you company?

Oh snap — reading other’s answers, the Fool kind of popped in to my mind.  Like, he has this wild, free, careless energy that would keep me motivated and entertained (and, intermittently, completely annoyed) during our year of exile.  BUT then I read the question again and it said court family *duh*.  Hmm.  Who makes a good friend to the Queen of Swords (me)?  The most similar energy, I believe, to the Fool in the court is the Page of Wands.  So now I’m thinking about Lost; have you seen the show?  It was the first TV show that I was totally obsessed with in high school and college.  It’s about an airplane that goes down on an island and the survivor’s existence there.  Of course, that’s not all it’s about but that’s a decent one sentence summary.  Kate, similar to the Queen of Swords, is the character that I identify with, and she has two men that keep her entertained (heh) and fuel her will to survive.  One, Jack, is kind of the King of Pentacles: he’s got his shit together (kinda) and is the classic leader figure.  The other, Sawyer, is the “bad boy,” full of kinetic, crazy energy (that he eventually tempers, to a point), but he is similar to the Page of Wands.  I think the Page of Wands/Sawyer would be able to help me not murder myself (literally) while stranded on a desert island and would be resourceful enough to keep us alive for a year.  As long as it’s ONLY a year…….

2.  What are off-limit topics for you; inquiries that make you say “I won’t go there”?  Or is anything fair game?

Hmmm.  I haven’t specifically outlined topics I “won’t touch” but others’ answers were really good here (and that’s probably because most seekers have asked me for general guidance, nothing too specific or crazy).  In my “terms of service,” I’ve outlined clearly that the insight and inspiration my readings afford do not replace the advice of a professional in any field.  If someone comes to me for a reading and doesn’t know how to formulate a good tarot question, I’ll help them form a good open ended question that will get the energetic read of a situation and that I feel comfortable answering with the cards.

3.  How do you get “in the mood” or mind-frame to read?

In the mood, awww yeah.  It kinda depends.  I love to light incense, meditate for about 5-10 minutes before a session (lately, while listening to classical music), cleanse with palo santo or sage and Florida Water; this is my general routine.  But, sometimes that just feels like too much and too formal so I just grab a beer and shuffle.  Really, shuffling is the primary activity that focuses me and gets me in the groove.  As described before, my standard shuffling ritual is somewhat in depth — I shuffle the whole deck nine times, then split into three piles, shuffle each pile nine times, then shuffle the whole deck nine times, and shuffling the whole deck nine times between each card position.  I perform this shuffling ritual always between clients (the only thing I consistently do for each client) because it helps to center me on the querent/query and reset the deck (in my opinion).  So I guess my final answers is: I shuffle.

Here are other posts from this week that I’ve seen…

Ania

Julia

Jill

Rachel

Who would you bring on a desert island that wouldn’t make you go crazy?  What topics make you cringe?  What gets you in the mood, baby?  Let me know your answers in the comments below, or link me to your post!

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

 

Going into Spring

Would you believe it’s nearly Ostara, or the Spring Equinox?  I cannot.  I feel like I just had my birthday (February 8) and the days are slipping past…. I can tell you this has been compounded by working a day and night shift rotation at work.  This serves to confuse morning and night and when I should be sleeping and eating and finding bits of time in between to work on my practice.

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But, here we are.  What have I been up to?

Well, February, the shortest month, of course, came and went like the blink of an eye.  Mostly, I recall the poetry that I made that month.  Thanks, again to Jodi for organizing this challenge!  She continued the challenge as a once a week thing (#pinpsaturday), inspired by tarot cards, and though I participated in the first one I have yet to write my second….. But, below is my favorite poem that I wrote in February (it was really hard to pick just one).  This poem helped to inspire my recent blog post on what it means to be wild.

what does it mean to be wild?
the seething, open expanse of my soul
the feral growling of my heart
the heady tingle between my legs.
do you see me as a beast, roaming?
do you feel my spirit, stalking?
come drink at water’s edge with me,
Orion shining on the backs of our necks.
transitory duality,
     the sense of self we refuse to apologize for.
the fiery snaps of passion.

In February, I opened my tarot shop and had a successful first month, in my humble opinion.  No, I do not expect to be raking in $50,000/year with my tarot side hustle (which Benebell somehow says is possible!…).  But I read for a variety of beautiful people, and at the end of the month donated 10% of my profits to The Trevor Project.  (If you’re interested in booking a reading with me click here.)

Also in February, I went to my first Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) meeting.  This local group is still quite new and I would be lying if I said that it was a wonderful experience.  As described previously on my blog, it is a group focused on getting white people involved in the fight for racial justice.  I think that the heart of this group is in the right place, but I also think that it is not quite the flavor of social justice that I’m looking for right now.  My next step is to make contact with the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, which is a local group and below is their mission statement from their website.

“Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice inspires, educates, and mobilizes people to unite across differences and to act from their shared ethical and spiritual values in pursuit of peace with social and environmental justice.”

I think this group might be more in line with my current path, as I’m feeling more spiritually inclined recently.

Oh, and, I’ve been reading more (as per my “what does it mean to be wild?” post)!  I finished Big Little Lies (a chick lit novel, that was just ok) and I’m working through Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman.  So far the book is not what I expected, though it is interesting to learn about Artemis and how her themes connect to the modern world.  I hope it gets better, a little more personal and spiritual, but we’ll see.  I’m also working my way through The Wildwood Tarot: Wherein wisdom resides, aka the guidebook for The Wildwood Tarot.  I recently purchased the deck, and it feels very special and different so I wanted to read through the guidebook completely before working with it (an idea from the lovely Ania).

Speaking of Artemis… She’s the first goddess that I felt an affinity for, that I felt had something to teach me.  She’s the goddess that helped/is helping me connect more with my wild.  And now, another goddess has made herself known to me: Cailleach.  I wrote a little bit about her on my Instagram, and she really deserves her own post, but I copied my IG summary here…  She is an ancient pre-Celtic (and then Celtic) goddess of the ancestors, wisdom, weather, time, shape-shifting, and winter.  She helps us with the cycles of life, provides protection, to release what no longer serves us, strength, trust, balance, magic, and transformation.  It is said that she created the rocky terrain of Scotland and Ireland by dropping boulders from her apron.  I’m just starting to learn a bit about her, but I feel she will be a powerful teacher.  Going into spring really isn’t her season (goddess of winter, hello), but her lessons feel applicable to where my life is now.

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Along with this exploration of Cailleach, I’ve finally jumped in to watching the videos of the incomparable Kelly-Ann Maddox.  This was a recommendation from Sammy (aka @spiritandsaga on Instagram), and I’m working through some of Kelly-Ann’s older videos.  I can already tell her videos are a goldmine of resources and I’m inspired by how open she is about her path.  To be honest, I find it difficult to get through YouTube videos because I find that I can’t multitask very well when watching them.  Even trying to listen to one while blogging is a bit difficult for me…

By the way, did I tell you that I received the most beautiful reading from Sammy in February?  I shared some pretty personal stuff with her, and she took that and gave me an in-depth, insightful and helpful reading.  I’ve returned to it a number of times in the last month, and I’m so grateful for her words.  Go check out her shop — she has some truly creative spreads available.

And so, March.  I’ve been making art (something new for me!) with the #createthisoracledeck challenge hosted by Kristen (@otmoraclecards on Instagram).  I loved the way that the post-it note poetry made me feel: creative, but with no pressure.  That’s how I feel about this oracle deck challenge.  I’m using mostly watercolor, and really enjoying the experimentation and also the “writing” of the “guidebook” (aka the captions).  I’m a couple days behind but will hope to catch up this week…  Above are three examples of my cards, and also the mountain card to the right of Cailleach further above.

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Then yesterday, I pulled the Page of Pentacles from the Morgan-Greer Tarot and “curious” from the Soul Space Oracle.  These two decks together have astounded me so much that I don’t really want to use anything else recently.  I have been pulling one tarot and one oracle card from each deck, and there are always such wonderful reflections of each other.  Either simply in keyword, color, shape, or all of the above.  Here, the page of pentacles and curious go together so seamlessly, an interpretation doesn’t feel required.  The page of pentacles is the most curious page of the bunch — though, don’t get me wrong, curious is, indeed, a great keyword for all pages.  But this page, he’s about digging in, about exploring the physical world, he’s about taking a journey.  He’s curious about his dreams, he’s curious about growth and the natural ways we can manifest for ourselves.  He can be a harbinger of new experiences, including new jobs…

Which, do you remember my blog post about the full moon in Leo back in February?  I wrote of a some good news surrounding empire building?  OH YEAH — I’m starting a new job on March 27!  I’m moving to the labor and delivery unit in my current hospital.  I’m so excited for this new venture, as this new unit and type of care I will be providing seems much more in line with my personal and spiritual development over the last 2.5 years that I’ve worked in the operating room.  I’m so grateful for my experiences in the OR: it was a great way to begin my nursing career without immediately hating and being overwhelmed by my job.  It taught me how to be truly confident in my nursing care and practice.  I’m so thrilled to see where my career will take me from here.  And I’ll be working 3-12 hour shifts per week, full-time midnights, so that will be a big (positive) change for me.

And the moon, that big beautiful moon.  The recent full moon in Virgo has teased out some weird feelings for me, (I’ve been trying lately to identify how the moon cycle affects my feelings/body, but really all I come up with is “weird”).  Sometimes, it’s like I need change to happen immediately, I need to do something drastic to feel productive.  But, lately, I’m feeling as if all of my little changes are starting to add up.  I’m getting into the long game, the “patient manifestation” from my above Soul Space Oracle reading.  Recently, all of my readings for myself seem to be about the same stuff on repeat.  Remember that Tarot Thursday Three question about remaining unbiased when reading for ourselves?  Yeah, well, I’m having a hard time with that lately.  I’m not sure if it’s the full moon, or the Venus retrograde, or just my airy little mind, but….it’s weird.

Phew, alright.  I think that’s a nice primer on what I’ve been up to!  What have you been up to?  What is calling to you going into this spring season?  What plans do you have cooking?  Do you have any thoughts about what I’ve shared above?  Tell me all about it in the comments below!

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Tarot Thursday Three: March 9, 2017

Another Thursday (that I missed, again!).  So, it’s after midnight, late Friday night/early Saturday morning, and here I am composing this post.  Enjoy!

1.  Does spell work have a place in your practice and if so, how?

I don’t do spells.  I had an interest in spell work (and still do, I guess), but I ultimately find it too complicated to be practical for my life.  Gathering supplies, casting a circle, calling down deities, etc — I just find that too much.  And I don’t see the space or need to call things in to my life (or banish them!  Though that could be useful…).  I like what Ania said about not feeling the need to affect reality in this way.  I feel like life is complicated, and I don’t know enough of what I want or need to ask for it specifically.  I feel like spell work in the traditional sense is something that needs to be practiced regularly for it to be effective, and I just don’t have the desire, or need, to practice spell work regularly.  However, I also like what Olivia wrote about her small spell and ritual work that she does, she made it seem very natural and intuitive.  I do like to hold intentions and affirmations, which I kind of view as mini-spells anyway.  And I do like doing ritual work, that is not quite spell work, but close.  I do this usually around the new and full moons.  I feel that this aspect of my practice is asking to be explored more, but I am not sure what that would mean in physical terms.

2.  What is the element you most identify with and/or enjoy working with and why?

As a through-and-through Aquarian, I live in my head and in daydreams.  I like to think through things, I create alternate timelines in my head (I maintain the idea that all possibilities exist in some realm), and I like putting word to paper.  I regularly have dreams of flying, where I literally kick off from the ground and float in the air.  Sometimes, the feeling is so strong that I recall it in my waking life, and I experience the desire to kick my feet into the air and float along in real life.  So I guess Air is really my jam.

I haven’t worked that much, specifically and pointedly, with any element.  I love to burn candles and incense, I love to collect bits of earth in stone/gem form, I love ritual baths… I have been told (by Benebell, no less!) that I should work to connect more with the earth element.  She gave me a pretty good overview on this, but to be honest, I don’t really know why or how to do this.  So, beyond placing a bunch of grounding rocks on my bedside (a big chunk of Mookaite!), I haven’t done much about that…

3.  Besides the cards, what are you favourite tools for divination and/or ritual?

As I said above, I love to burn candles and incense, but I don’t use this in a divinatory sense, more to set the mood — uh, so I guess for ritual!  However, I do this outside of ritual as well, and to be honest, I haven’t sat down and practiced any kind of ritual lately… I really love to use poetry collections (primarily Mary Oliver) for bibliomancy/stichomancy, and I’ve had some really great results with that.  I love to write, and I’ve been really into writing poetry (thanks to Jodi and her poetry challenge!) and making art (thanks for Kristen and her create this oracle deck challenge!), so I’ll be trying to include more of making both poetry and art into my practice.

At the time of publishing, here are the other posts that I’ve seen (and referenced above :))…

Julia

Ania

Olivia

Do you use spells in your practice?  What is your favorite element to channel?  What other stuff do you use in divination/ritual?  Let me know in the comments below (or let me know if you’ve made a post yourself!).

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Influence of Culture in My Spiritual Practice

Friends!  I’ve met so many amazing people through social media (primarily Instagram) who share my interests of tarot and exploring spirituality.  We all have different specialties, or areas on which we like to focus.  Because of this, I’m bringing on some awesome guest bloggers at Exploringly Yours to share their knowledge of different topics on which I’m not particularly well-versed.  Today’s Guest Post is by my lovely friend, Dianna.  I got to meet Dianna in person last time I was in Chicago, and we had a lot of fun exploring local metaphysical shops (which was a bust, unfortunately), and drinking beer at Revolution Brewing.  Dianna introduces herself below so I’ll turn it over to her…….

Hello Exploringly Yours readers!  Before we dig into talking about my experience with how culture has shaped my spirituality I wanted to give you a brief introduction.  I am a fellow tarot and oracle card reader, crystal lover, and aspiring writer.  I am also a mom of two, I was born in Mexico and now live in the USA.  By day I work in a health center doing community engagement, I get to meet a lot of people and create content for social media.  By night I am an Instagram enthusiast, you can find me at @unearthing_the_gift_.  I also have a blog, which you can visit here.  I’m excited to share with you how my culture has shaped my current spiritual practice and I hope that you will share how your culture has, or has not, impacted your spiritual practice in the comments.

First, I thought I would share what my current spiritual practice looks like.  I am not a religious person, so I don’t follow a set religion.  That said, I am fascinated by religion in an intellectual level and love learning about the different beliefs systems in the world.  I don’t believe spirituality and religion are mutually exclusive, I do think that sometimes religion has lost the spirituality part, but that is a topic for a different blog post.

My current spiritual practice involves the use of tarot and oracle cards for reflection and guidance.  I incorporate crystals into my spiritual practice during meditation and when I am reading cards.  I also connect with Spirit Guides and Ascended Masters and consider them important partners/teachers in my spiritual journey.  (Julia Eve wrote a great guest post about that too, which you can find here.)   More recently I have started to learn about the Akashic Records and hope to be able to use this new skill to help others get closer to their soul’s purpose.  I also use writing and journaling as a tool in my spiritual practice.  I love exploring different ways of expressing and experiencing my creative and spiritual journeys.

My Mexican heritage has influenced my spiritual path in many different ways.  Being Mexican means that I am a place/person where the convergence of two distinct worlds (the pre-hispanic and the Spanish) takes place.  Both of these worlds, which collided a long long time ago, have rich and deep cultural and spiritual histories, which I am just beginning to discover.

When I was growing up in Mexico, although my family and I weren’t Catholic, many of the celebrations that the whole town took part in were Catholic with underlying pre-hispanic rituals/beliefs woven into them.  Catholicism in Latin countries (as in other countries) is inextricably woven in with pre-hispanic religions.  In small towns you have the priests, the doctors, and the curanderas (witch doctors/healers) as the three figures of authority who can perform healing.  My family, and everyone else really, went to la curandera to heal ailments of the spirit which were being manifested in the body, el mal de ojo (the evil eye), el susto (best described as chronic spiritual sickness), las limpias (spiritual cleansings).  I was taken to la curandera a few times, and my mom and grandpa used to do a “diy” version of limpias at home too.  

Many of the things I am learning now as I develop my spiritual practice are things that I had already witnessed and participated in before.  This has helped me feel more comfortable with adopting spiritual practices, especially when their background is pre-hispanic civilizations.  I feel I have a claim to them, that it is okay for me to use them, and that I am not appropriating them.  Appropriation is a topic that has been on my mind for a while.  For example, I also feel a great interest in Celtic spirituality, but I am not a Celt or of Celtic heritage, so I ask myself: do I have the right to lay claim to Celtic beliefs even though it’s not my culture?  I have decided that it is okay do follow your spiritual path where ever it takes you.

I still have much to explore and learn, which is exciting.  My spiritual practice is continually evolving as I learn and discover new ways of connecting with Spirit.  Connecting with my roots and Ancestors is a message that I have been receiving through my card readings and dreams lately and I hope to continue to explore that in the months to come.  On my list of things to explore are also shamanism, celtic spirituality, and the Popol Vu (one of the few pre-hispanic holy texts that survived colonization).  

I wanted to leave you with a little something to help you explore how your own cultural roots are shaping your spiritual practice, so here is a small spread to help you get that started.

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  1.  The current state of my spiritual journey.
  2.  What three gifts has my cultural background/heritage bestowed upon me to help me in my spiritual journey?
  3.  In what subconscious ways is my cultural background/heritage influencing my spiritual journey? (Pick one or more cards).

If you do the spread let us know in the comments, I’d love to hear how it went!

Thank you Alaina for this opportunity to contribute to your lovely blog!

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How cool.  I’d love to hear in the comments how any of you have been affected (or not!) by the intersection of culture and spirituality.  What practices have been passed on to you by your family, are inherent to communities you grew up in, or a part of cultures you belong to?  What influences you now that may not be part of what you were taught when growing up?

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Some New Year’s Thoughts

Hello, friends!  A new, fresh year is upon us!  January is cold, crisp, and exciting.  January is the month that, generally, people make promises for the coming year and there is a lot of enthusiasm behind said promises.  However, if you live in a similar climate as me, it’s been extremely cold since 2017 started, and all I really want to do is curl up with my cat and a blanket, and I don’t feel very proactive…

But, let’s talk a little bit about resolutions.  I’m just as guilty as the next person about having grand ideas about who I want to be, what I want to look like, or what I want to do.  This year, however, I’ve moved away from making “resolutions” and instead have crafted some affirmations around my goals and my word of the year.

My word for 2017 is “practice.”  On my Instagram feed I wrote this about my word: “There are a lot of things in my life that I want to ramp up and build a practice around.  The word, to me, implies ritual and imperfection, it reminds me to work a little bit each day toward my goals.  Be those goals health related, to read a book, to go deeper spiritually, to use my cards, to play my ukulele, to write a bit each day…..it covers a little bit of everything…We’re not perfect, life isn’t perfect, and that’s why we practice — to get things a little better each time.”

With that in mind, and with the help with of my Many Moons workbook, I worked out some intentions and affirmations for the coming year.  I don’t want to call them resolutions exactly because while they aren’t specific goals, (as in “I want to lose 60 pounds”), they are (as said above) practices that I want to build up over this year.  I do have specific end goals in mind, but I want to focus on the intention and practices behind the goals.

The workbook explains affirmations and how they can help to alter thought patterns and habits.  I found the section helpful in crafting my own affirmations, as I didn’t have much experience writing them before.  The book calls affirmations mini-spells, which I really like.  As such, I went on to craft some affirmations to bolster my intentions for 2017.

My overall affirmation for 2017 is, “My goals are not a chore; they are so that I can be a better me.”  I wrote this affirmation keeping my 2017 word, practice, in mind.  I actually really like this affirmation because I tend to view my daily goals as something to be checked off a list.  But really my goals are not something mundane (a chore), they are dynamic, and are intended to help me improve myself.

The workbook then asks “what is waiting to be manifested” for the rest of 2017.  It breaks down goals into sections, and asks us to pick two goals for each section.  I went a step further and crafted an affirmation for each section to reinforce my intentions for the year.  Below, I list what I’ve come up with.

Prosperity/Abundance
1.  Spend my (free) time on activities that I enjoy/make me happy and could also potentially add revenue to my budget (i.e., writing and card reading).
2.  Work to pay off student loans, so that true saving can begin.
Affirmation:  “I spend my time and money in beneficial ways.”

Opportunities/Skill-sets
1.  Practice ukulele three times per week.
2.  Dedicate myself to spiritual development.
Affirmation:  “Practice is a part of ritual and learning.”

Physical body/Health
1.  Drink more smoothies (particularly at work) and more water.
2.  Work out more, particularly at home weights and yoga, three times per week.
Affirmation:  “I nourish and care for my body appropriately.”

Self-love
1.  Build up a meditative practice, three times per week.
2.  Take ritual baths one time per week.
Affirmation:  “I give myself space to relax and open up.”

My focus this year is going to be on the affirmations.  I really like the idea of keeping the affirmations central to my actions this year.  The goals that I have written are more guidelines; if I don’t accomplish the “three times per week,” I won’t beat myself up about it.  The affirmations are meant to keep my intentions on track.

Have you made any resolutions this year?  Do you like to use affirmations?  Let me know in the comments!  I hope you all have a great 2017!

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx