Weighed down by burdens
Still, I trudge forward arms full
Tasks undone, not fun
Weighed down by burdens
Still, I trudge forward arms full
Tasks undone, not fun
I turned 50 back in July. I have to say it’s been more of a shock than I expected. I figured all the hype about becoming a Crone or 50 being a big transition age was just that – hype. Once again I have been proven wrong.
The biggest shock I had upon turning 50 is the realization that I have somehow manage to shed almost 30+ years of civilizing. I joke that the women in my family don’t domesticate well but it’s kind of true. None of us has ever been a “traditional” female. Quite possibly because most of us have had the unluck to marry men who have proven to be abysmal partners for one reason or other. Clearly this is some type of familial pattern; a cycle that needs to be addressed and changed. Anyway, I’ve gotten off point here. The point is that apparently 50 year old me has a lot in common with 13 year old me. Now that I no longer need to “dress for success” or anyone else’s approval, I have gone back to my favorite look – jeans, boots and plaid shirts. How ironic that I loved this look long before Supernatural became popular.
I’ve also experienced a shift in attitude. Not that I was ever shy about expressing my opinions but I did occasionally manage to tone things down depending upon the company. Now I just don’t give a shit. It’s as though that poor, weak, fragile filter that prevented me from being completely unrated was demolished, destroyed, damaged beyond repair. Don’t misunderstand, I rarely intend to be insulting, rude or obnoxious but somehow I’m sure I come off that way when my mouth gets ahead of my brain. At the same time I realize this is the result of not having to worry that I’ll offend someone who good opinion I might need later on. The truth is I am a lousy diplomat.
For many years I felt as though I identified most with the energies of the Queen of Swords and Queen of Wands. Now I realize that Queen of Swords persona was exactly that – a mask I donned when the occasion called for it. Now I fully embrace my Queen of Wands energy but it means that sometimes I bash people into submission (or as my mother likes to say, I use “truth” as a weapon). What I have also discovered is my connection to the Queen of Pentacles. I can be a caregiver. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not my favorite role but when I have to make a choice between doing what might be sensible and/or more convenient or doing what I believe is right, then I’m willing and able to make sacrifices.
So, turning 50 has proven to be quite a mind-blowing experience all around. I’ve realized that I don’t need things to be happy (in fact, much to my shock, I’ve realized too many things just makes me feel overwhelmed). I’ve learned that I don’t want to bend to the wills of others. I want to run my own life and follow my own passions. I’ve learned that I’m tired of letting the perfect get in the way of the good. I’m sure there are lots more things I’ve learned but this was a good starting point.
Just to make it interesting for any readers out there I decided to ask the Tarot what message I can offer to any others going through a similar experience. I drew the Page of Swords from the Tarot of the Secret Forest. At first I thought the youth was playing a cello or similar instrument but looking closer I realized he is holding a sword and shield. The minute I saw this card I heard the phrase “relearn your own mind; stay true to your inner music”. I’m interpreting this to mean that turning 50 gives us a chance to reconnect to who we really are without the obligations of motherhood, career, marriage and societal expectations. We’ve been able to moved beyond all that and now we can pick up our instruments and learn how to dance and sing our true songs, our soul songs, again.
Okay – I want to start off with full disclosure, I received a copy of the Minoan Tarot from Ellen Lorenzi-Prince for the purposes of writing a review. I consider Ellen a friend but don’t think that will impact my review, I just want readers of this blog to be fully informed.
So, I first got a glimpse at this deck when Ellen brought its prototype to a past Readers Studio. I remember looking at the deck and feeling that it wasn’t one I might feel compelled to add to my collection. The art was lovely but I’ve never felt a real attraction to Minoan culture. In fact what I know about Minoan culture can probably be counted on one hand:
I hope that working with this deck will give me a greater appreciation for and knowledge of Minoan culture.
The deck is packaged in a sturdy cardboard box with an accompanying companion booklet. The booklet offers a brief introduction to Minoan art, civilization and culture as well as information about the origins of the artwork incorporated into each card. There is a lightheartedness and joyfulness to many of the images, giving me the sense that Minoan culture didn’t take themselves too seriously. I don’t get the sense of pompousness and elitism that I often feel from Greek & Roman art – as though they’re above human frailties and emotions.
According to the companion booklet, “The suits of the Minor Arcana, Earth, Sea, Sky, and Art, illustrate the great powers present in the lives of the Minoans. Earth shows children of the Mountain Mother, Sea for companions of the Ocean Father, Sky for the Lady of Heaven and Art for their own expressions of humanity. Sea and Sky are used rather than the more abstract Water and Air because these represent realms of the divine rather than elemental concepts.
The number cards for Earth, Sea, and Sky portray living creatures of those realms, as one of the hallmarks of Minoan art and religion is their exuberant embrace of the natural world around them. The number cards for the Art suit show Minoan people engaged in everyday activities.
The Minoans had no known numerology. The images are assigned to the cards by the correspondence of their energies alone. Also, they do not represent a progression of quantity , but rather stand for the selected qualities, no one of which is greater than another. The key concepts for the Ace through Ten are:
Ace – Individuality
Two – Sensitivity
Three – Creativity
Four – Practicality
Five – Adaptability
Six – Harmony
Seven – Spirituality
Eight – Power
Nine – Consciousness
Ten – Transformation
The Court Cards in the Minoan Tarot are Worker, Priestess, Master, and Mistress. The Workers relates with the energy of the suit in a physical and practical way. The Priestess expresses spiritual direction and action. The Master and Mistress are aspects of the God and Goddess as represented in the realm of Earth, Sea, Sky and Art.”
As an introduction to the deck, I asked “What will this deck teach me?” I drew Art Five, Visionary (Hermit) reversed and Earth Seven reversed. Before looking at the book, my interpretation is that working with this deck will be a struggle but it will be a fun, playful one. It will help me explore areas within myself and connect with my inner spirit but it will be an uphill climb inward. If I want to get the most from this deck I will need to be persistent and stubborn to receive the maximum benefit.
For each card, Ellen offers a background on the symbolism and what it is believed to have represented to the Minoans. She also explains the origins of the artwork as well as three messages from each card. Here are the messages for the three cards I drew:
I think each of these messages fits with my take on the card, which means that while these card meaning might not be standard RWS, they are somewhat intuitive.
A few other favorite cards I pulled from the deck include:
Art Eight, Earth Worker, Sea Ace, Sky Ten – these cards give you a taste of how Minoans viewed the world around them and their connection to it. They seem to play with the bulls rather than trying to dominate and control them. There is a lightness and playfulness to the art that vibrates off the cards. I want to dance and play with these charming people and the creatures that inhabit their world.
I especially love the images on the Oracle and Earth Priestess because they show two different aspects of the Snake Goddess, one of my favorite goddess images. She touches my heart with her serenity and simple strength. She has no fear of the snakes and wears them as ornamentation to show her connection with them. I don’t get a sense of domination but of collaboration and cooperation. I can almost hear them whispering secret knowledge in her ears as she nods her head in understanding.
Ecstasy also makes me smile. The dancing priestess is lost in her groove. I feel a sense of ecstasy and pure joy shine through this card. It reminds me of a line from a 70s song Magnet and Steel, “You’re a woman who’s lost in your song.” She has surrendered to the rhythms coursing through her body and celebrates them. She is not truly lost forever but is in a moment of trance, of divine connection. She reminds me of a Sufi dervish, using her dance to create an ecstatic trance state that connects her with the sacred; with the Universe.
There are many lovely cards in this deck all offering glimpses into Minoan art and culture but does that make it a good Tarot deck? I’m sure we’ve all had experiences of purchasing a deck that looks lovely but doesn’t speak to us (I’m something refer to this as a dumb ditz deck). If a deck is lovely to look at but has no depth or character then I often find them useless. I don’t feel this way about this deck. In fact I’d describe it as just the opposite – I think this deck will prove to have quite a learning curve because there is so much meaning and symbolism to be unearth and teased out from each card. This deck strikes me as one that will lead its users down the path to learning more about Minoan culture so that you can acquire greater depth of understanding the symbolism and meanings of these cards. Of course I also think it’s entirely possible to work with this deck and use the imagery to develop your own intuitive meanings without any further knowledge of Minoan culture. It’s a matter of preference.
My biggest complaint about this deck is it’s size. They are the same size as the Dark Goddess Tarot which means the deck will be difficult to shuffle for someone with small hands. I consider myself to have medium-size hands and I find them a challenge. So I will give the deck a borderectomy (I have grown to dislike borders on my Tarot cards) and that should make shuffling the cards easier. Oh and I would love it if Ellen created a longer, more detailed companion book but I digress.
So, to wrap it all up – do I recommend this deck? It depends. If you find yourself drawn to ancient cultures I think you will find much in this deck to feed your interests. If you are interested in learning a bit about an ancient culture that was less aggressive and misogynistic but no less cultured and civilized than Mycenaean Greece, this deck will intrigue you. If you seek decks that challenge you to expand your horizons and explore new perspectives and meanings for the cards, this deck will enthrall you. If you want to support privately printed, small batch published decks then this will fit your bill.
I will admit that prior to actually seeing this deck I was on the fence about acquiring it. The likelihood is that I would have purchased it to support Ellen if for no other reason. Now that I’ve played with it a bit and explored it energies I am eager to give it a longer test run and see where it takes me. The artwork is lovely and calls to something within me I wasn’t even aware existed. It tantalizes me like sunlight sparkling across a still lake. It shimmers and dazzles but in a quiet, understated manner like a classic beauty who is at first overshadowed her her more showy, extroverted sisters but whose true value is soon acknowledge and honored.
So if you haven’t already done so, get your copy of the delightfully delicious Minoan Tarot here
And if you’re still up in the air about purchasing a copy, you can read additional reviews here
In her book Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, Erynn Rowan Laurie writes this about Gort:
“When Gort appears in a reading, it may indicate that a period of prosperity is coming, and a little more patience is required to get there. It can suggest that you look to the blessings in your life and be thankful for them. It frequently indicates a happy situation or a place of safety.
Sometimes Gort suggests that you pull back from your activity and find yourself a safe and sheltered place for rest, particularly when it appears with nGétal. This is the place for incubation and restoration, a need for peace and quiet and nurturance.”
So I asked the cards: What needs to be cultivated in my life so that abundance will grow? Prince of Swords R, The World R + Princess of Cups R (DruidCraft)
The Prince of Swords reversed is showing that now is a time for reflection and thoughtfulness. It’s not about what the rest of the world thinks about what I need, it’s about what I think i need. It’s also about creating an action plan and not just waiting for things to work themselves out. slow down, think things through and make a plan. It’s about exploring my own thoughts and goals not what others expect. He might also be reminding me that I’m avoiding thinking and making decisions about tough issues – the in-laws’ and their future care. I can’t keep hoping things will work out for the best.
The World R is telling me I can’t take the world’s problems on my shoulders. I can’t be the world to others. I need to surround myself with things that will allow me to feel fulfilled, satisfied and help release some of the stress. I need to seclude myself in my own secret garden to recharge my batteries and enrich my life so that I can still help others.
The Princess of Cups R is reminding me that I need to listen to my inner voice, trust my instincts and get more in touch with my own feelings about this situation instead of getting stuck in my head and trying to convince myself everything will work out okay. Hard decisions need to be made and no matter how much I want to avoid facing it, I can’t.. I need to trust my heart and respect my feelings about this situation.
I’m getting a sense that things are coming to a head and I need to prepare myself to make some very difficult decisions. Our choices may not be what I’d like but they are what they are and we need to face that.
Joanna Powell Colbert recently wrote about becoming native to your place. She pointed out that for many of us, we are still connected to our ancestral lands and need to be born again into this continent. Joanna describes some of the work she has done to honor her Celtic ancestors and connect with this land. That made me think about how and if I’m connected to this land.
I am the fifth generation of my family (on my mother’s side) to live in my neighborhood. I’m the fourth generation born in NYC. My great- great-grandfather fought in the Civil War as part of the Fighting 69th. I have always felt an incredible connection to my neighborhood. I stay there because of this connection. It is my ancestral land. My family’s origins may be in Ireland but I have no real connection to that land. If we have distant relatives there, we’ve never been in touch. I may love Irish mythology and music but I’m American. To be more specific I am a New Yorker of Irish descent born and bred on the Westside of Manhattan. Something about the concrete and grit of my NYC is embedded in my soul. That’s what distresses me so much about how things have changed and how disconnected I now feel.
In many ways I took my neighborhood for granted. I loved it and always felt things would stay the same (or at least roughly the same). I loved wandering along the Hudson River and hang out on the worn, decrepit docks. I spent hours in the local park roaming around in the back where I often stumbled across the detritus of drug use and other illegal activities but I was oblivious to this ugliness because the beauty of the park enthralled me. It was a small oasis of green grass, flowers and trees amidst the tenements, industrial buildings and decaying waterfront. My brother’s blood was shed on the Westside Highway. My family was displace by a fire on 52nd Street and 10th Avenue that left us homeless and possession-less. I grew up moving to different apartments all within a 3 block radius (in fact my current apartment is still within this area). So how can I walk away? How can I break those ties and just move on? I can’t.
I’ve tried moving and although I do love my house in Orange County, it’s not home. When I’ve visited other areas in New York State I can appreciate their beauty, enjoy the feel of the area, but I’ve never felt at home. I’ve never felt the connection I’ve always felt to my own neighborhood. I can still remember how I felt when riding down the helix towards the Lincoln Tunnel and seeing my neighborhood across the river. That’s when I knew I was home. I feel as though there are invisible bonds, cords, chains that connect me to this place. It is woven into my spirit and leaving would be painful. Unfortunately staying is becoming equally painful.
Much of what I remember from my childhood has been bulldozed out of existence and replace by trendy restaurants, expensive high rises and hipster bars. The streets that were once filled with friends and acquaintances are now fill with throngs of young singles looking to party; to see and be seen. It’s become a way station; a stop for twenty-somethings looking to hang out and have fun. There are few families here and no real sense of community anymore. It feels like a tourist destination and that breaks my heart.
Stores and residents that have been part of the fabric of the neighborhood for decades have been priced out and forced to move or go out of a business. We were once a community that was self-sufficient. Residents could make a decent living without needing to leave its boundaries. We could shop for groceries, clothes and household goods all within a few blocks. That’s all gone. You can certainly find a good meal or place to drink but many of the small butchers, green grocers and variety stores are gone. What is left tends to be pricey. Most of the industries that were the lifeblood of the neighborhood have moved away too.
So what can you do when you are so connected to a place but it has changed so much that it doesn’t feel like home anymore? I don’t know. It’s part of the reason I tend to go on rants about transplants and the gentrification of NYC. Both those things have made me obsolete in my home. I’ve been outnumbered to the point that transplants feel they have the right to tell me what a “real New Yorker” is.
It’s interesting – today I asked the Tarot “what do I need to think about right now?” and I drew the Page of Cups. I have a feeling this card directly relates to this issue. I need to take look at my emotional connection to my neighborhood and decide whether I want to hold onto those ties or if I need to find a way to allow myself to be emotionally open to connecting to a new place. Or maybe they are mutually exclusive. I may never feel the same emotional bond to a new place that I do to my birthplace but I can still establish roots and open my heart to loving a new place. It’s almost like having a pet that dies. I will always love the deceased pet but that doesn’t mean I can’t open my heart to a new one too. It’s a lot to think about and I don’t have to make any final decisions but maybe I can start to be more open to the place where I live now and make some room in my heart for it.